Tag: Calder Cannons

Cannons looking to be “the best at doing things differently”

THE CALDER Cannons are one of many NAB League regions adapting to new circumstances ahead of the fast-approaching girls season, but are “taking every training session in their stride” according to newly appointed regional talent operations lead, Matthew Burton. Now overlooking both the boys and girls programs along with coach Ross Smith, Burton says the girls program is in good shape less than a week out from season proper.

“They’re starting to look fantastic,” Burton said. “The preseason has been a little bit different, we haven’t had as much contact as we would’ve liked (compared to) previous preseasons. “It’s been a bit shortened… but everyone’s just made the best of the situation that we had, that’s what it’s about.

“We want to be the best at doing things differently and the girls have really adapted to that. During the last week of training, they’re just starting to ramp it up and we’re looking forward to games because they’re starting to look really strong. “We’re really excited about our group.

“We’re trying to (integrate) as much match simulation into our training as much as we can, especially with the with the restrictions on time and also what were able to do in terms of practice matches. “Hopefully we’ve got a really good base leading into round one next Sunday.”

While each region has been forced into somewhat of a scramble as a result of the pandemic-induced climate, Burton was glowing in his praise of former female talent coordinator Russell Humphrey, with the list and standards built over a number of years now in a great position to prosper. Amid an extended role, Burton says the female talent has been “a breath of fresh air.”

“They’ve just been so great to work with,” he said. “They’re enthusiastic, their application to training and everything that we throw their way is just great. “They’re willing to learn and with their want for more in terms of education and training and the like – they’ve just been so great to work with.

“We’ve got a really great group of girls on our list, we’re really strong. There wasn’t too much turnover from last year to this year and we’ve been able to bring in some girls in a variety of age groups.

“We’re really strong in that 17-year-old group, our 18-year-old group is fantastic, and we’ve got three 19-year-olds that are on our list at the moment that are really driving the standards and have been able to train at Essendon at VFLW level, so are learning a lot.

“Hopefully a few get their name read out at the end of the year, which is very exciting part and what you work for, but I reckon our list is looking really great. It’s really exciting and we’re really looking forward to working with them across 2021.”

Looking down the list of names in Calder’s squad, one in particular pops off the page. 2019 NAB League best and fairest, Georgie Prespakis (younger sister of Maddy) is already among the most highly touted juniors gunning for this year’s AFL Women’s draft, but is one of many top-agers in the mix from this prosperous region. Despite the allure of big names and star individuals, Burton maintains that the squad is great “from one down to 35.”

“Georgie’s a prodigious talent,” he said. “We really enjoy and get along with Georgie really well and we know what the level of her football is, so we’re just really looking forward to working with her and the areas that she thinks she needs to improve on to get herself ready for what might occur at the end of the year.

“We’ve got a lot of great personalities… we’ve got a really great group from one down to 35. “They all bring an aura of enthusiasm and passion, they look to motivate each other and get along really well. There’s some girls at the top but yeah, we’re definitely one to 35 through our list.”

A few typical preseason niggles aside, the Cannons are set to be fit and firing in Round 1 with no major setbacks, while the leadership roles are also to be confirmed this week. Calder’s first point of call this season comes against a tough Sandringham side on Sunday February 7 at Highgate Recreation Reserve.

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: East Fremantle vs. Calder Cannons

OUR next All-Star Team battle is the first of the Round of 16, which features a West Australian club and a Victorian club in East Fremantle Sharks and Calder Cannons. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Ben Cousins (East Fremantle) and Dane Swan (Calder Cannons).


East Fremantle are the top seeds and tournament favourites that enter the All-Star Team matchup after a first round bye to take on the 16th seeds, Calder.


Where do you begin with East Fremantle? The most consistent team across the board with experience galore. The least experienced player is Carlton gun, Patrick Cripps and they have 200-game Brownlow Medalists and best and fairest winners on the bench. The onball brigade of Aaron Sandilands, Simon Black and Cousins – with Cripps – is just madness and then throw together a consistent defence, and a couple of key talls, and you would have to be really picky to find a weakness.

Calder’s strength is its depth across the field, led by Swan in the midfield, who along with Jude Bolton and Dion Prestia, make it competitive against most sides, though even they would be overpowered by the Sharks onball group. Their small forwards could cause serious issues for the Sharks defenders, with the likes of Ryan O’Keefe, Paul Chapman and Eddie Betts all capable of giving grief to defender.


As we said above, it is hard to really pick out a weakness, and to do so is getting rather picky, but you could argue the medium-small forwards with the mids predominantly playing forward, and Darren Bennett and Jamie Cripps the only real pure forwards from that perspective.

Calder probably lacks a consistent key position forward, with Joe Daniher and Jake Carlisle capable of anything, but not as consistent as those on the opposition side. They also have some strong defensively-minded backmen, but not as potent offensively off the defensive line though Brandon Ellis coming off the bench would certainly help with this fact.


East Fremantle could win the entire All-Star Team of the AFL Draft era, with the Shakrs raging favourites against most sides, and whilst Calder is good, East Fremantle is elite.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
East Fremantle
Calder Cannons

All-Star Team of the AFL Draft Era: Which club is the best of the best?

EVERY year, a new crop of AFL Draft talents rise up and make waves at AFL level. Some clubs such as Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons are referred to as ‘footy factories’. Others are less well known, but nonetheless vital in providing players with their start to the AFL.

Over the past couple of months, Draft Central has gone through all of the NAB League, SANFL and WAFL clubs and tried to determine the best 24-player squad for their respective clubs. The captains and vice-captains were determined by the public through Instagram voting. Now, it is up to the public to decide which All-Star Team is the greatest of the lot. That’s right, the 30 teams from Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia are going head to head in a knockout draw.

Which teams are competing?

NAB League [12]: Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Dandenong Stingrays, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons, Western Jets
SANFL [9]: Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, Port Adelaide, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens
WAFL [9]: Claremont, East Fremantle, East Perth, South Fremantle, Peel Thunder, Perth, Subiaco, Swan Districts, West Perth

How will it work?

Each day at 10am, we will publish the two All-Star Teams of the AFL Draft era, and the public will be able to vote through the article, Facebook and Twitter, with the overall winner moving through to the next round.

Given there are 30 teams, two sides who we have picked out as the top two seeds – East Fremantle and Geelong Falcons – will have the bye in the opening round, with the other 28 teams seeded appropriately similar to the All-Star Player voting (3rd against 28th, 4th against 27th etc.).

Who is up first?

The first All-Star Team battle is between a couple of metropolitan sides who we have seeded 16th and 17th in the draw. They both have some absolute elite stars, but Calder Cannons and Western Jets will begin the voting on Monday. They will be followed by the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges on Tuesday, before a cross-state clash sees third seed Port Adelaide Magpies tackle Peel Thunder.

Classic Contests: Saad’s seven fires Cannons to victory over Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Gippsland Power and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to early 2017, when the two sides went down to the wire in a game of heavy momentum swings.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 9
Saturday June 4, 11:30am
Highgate Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 1.5 | 4.9 | 7.14 | 9.16 (70)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.3 | 8.6 | 8.6 | 9.8 (62)


Calder: M. Saad 7, K. Brown, B. Ronke
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker


Calder: M. Saad, B. Ronke, Z. Guthrie, H. Blythe, B. Caluzzi, B. Bernacki
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker

Draftees in action:

Calder: Ben Ronke, Zach Guthrie
Oakleigh: Jordan Ridley, Taylin Duman

Conditions at Highgate Reserve often blanket the ability of even the most potent match winners, but all the rain and wind in the world could do little to stop Muhammad Saad in early June, 2016. The brother of Essendon speedster, Adam put on a seven-goal show to inspire his Calder Cannons to a comeback victory over the Oakleigh Chargers in Round 9 of the TAC Cup season,

The Cannons needed something special to turn their season around, sitting 10th with two wins from eight games – including losses in their first four outings, and two in the last fortnight. Oakleigh was faring a touch better in seventh at 4-4, but had lost three of its last four games in what was the start of a mid-season skid. The Chargers would also go in without a considerable amount of top-end, top-age talent, including the likes of Josh Daicos, Nick Larkey, and Ed Phillips.

But through the weather and absentees, Oakleigh showed its class with a five goals to one opening term, making much better of its eight scoring shots (5.3) compared to the hosts’ six (1.5). The buffer would remain relatively the same heading into the main break, as the Chargers got out to a six-goal lead, but had the margin reigned back to 21 points at half-time.

Saad had already clicked into gear, booting a couple of majors to keep his side within reach, before flicking the switch midway through the third term to help the Cannons hit the front. The game was on the line with Calder ahead by two points at three quarter time, and the ascendancy would change hands multiple times in the final term. Saad proved the difference again, putting the Cannons back in front for good as they ran out eight-point victors.

With seven of Calder’s total nine goals, the number 43 was inevitably named best afield for his remarkable exploits inside forward 50. Ben Ronke was one of two other Cannons to hit the scoreboard, with fellow draftee Zach Guthrie played his part up the other end of the field. Adam Moate booted three majors for Oakleigh, while Xavier Jordan was named the most valuable Charger.

The result proved somewhat of a turning point for the Cannons, as they shot back into finals contention and eventually finished the regular season in seventh (8-9). The Chargers landed in sixth with an identical record, but exacted revenge with a 106-point elimination final belting, before eventually going down in the preliminary finals to Murray.

Featured Image: Greg Kowalczewski/News Corp

Classic Contests: Stingrays barb Calder with six-goal final term in prelim

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Calder Cannons and Dandenong Stingrays. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when Dandenong mounted a late fightback to secure victory in a dramatic TAC Cup preliminary final.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 3
Saturday September 14, 11:15am
Ikon Park

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 4.3 | 5.5 | 9.6 | 15.12 (108)
CALDER CANNONS 4.3 | 7.6 | 11.9 | 14.12 (96)


Dandenong: B. Egan 3, B. Mullane 3, J. Lonie 3, M. Rennie 2, J. Pickess, C. McCartney, A. Scott, D. Gawley, T. Lamb.
J. Cooke 3, J. Cauchi 3, R. O’Brien 2, J. Foster, J. Clothier, P. Ahern, T. Davies, A. Prestia, A. Christensen.


Dandenong: Z. Jones, J. Lonie, B. Hartung, J. Bastinac, D. Capiron, N. Foote
J. Owen, V. Carboni, J. Clothier, M. Kovacevic, P. Ahern, M. Merlo

Draftees in action:

Dandenong: Billy Hartung, Zak Jones, James Harmes, Jack Lonie, Tom Lamb
Calder: Jayden Foster, Reilly O’Brien, Jake Lever, Paul Ahern, Peter Wright

NAB League (formerly TAC Cup) finals have seldom failed to deliver on drama over the years, and that is exactly what Dandenong and Calder produced as they squared off for a spot in the 2013 decider. While both sides seemed to be a rung off the top two contenders during the season, at least one of them would earn the opportunity to play off for the flag.

In a neat quirk, the form of either region was identical. Both sides came in off a run of six wins in their last seven outings; with Dandenong moving straight through to the prelims via a qualifying final win over Eastern, while Calder took the scenic route after losing to Geelong, but beating Western in the second chance saloon. Dandenong finished the regular season in third at 10-7, only percentage clear of Calder in fourth. The only thing separating these combatants was Calder’s 42-point Round 8 win over the Stingrays at home.

With everything to play for, fans were treated to a shootout which was kickstarted by an eight-goal opening term. Despite the free flow of scoring, a deadlock remained at the first break as both sides managed 4.7 (27) apiece. The scoring slowed a touch as all initial nervous energy was expended, and it was the Cannons who edged ahead by 11 points at the main break.

That buffer was extended ever so slightly to 15 points at three quarter time, and Calder looked like cruising home to a solid victory. But that was where the Stingrays’ fresh legs from a week off kicked in, as they piled on six unanswered goals to completely shift the tide and most importantly, hit the front. Calder mounted a late fightback of its own to draw back within a goal, but Dandenong held firm to book its spot in the Grand Final.

It was no surprise, especially in hindsight to see Zak Jones (28 disposals, 10 tackles), Jack Lonie (22 disposals, three goals), and Billy Hartung (26 disposals, eight marks) named as the best three Stingrays afield, as their run and toughness through midfield allowed their side to open the game up late on. James Harmes was also amongst it with 30 disposals for the winners.

Calder had a quartet of ball winners find plenty of the ball too, led by Matthew Merlo and Jedd Clothier (both 30 disposals), and followed by Jake Owen (23) and Victor Carboni. Paul Ahern joined the aforementioned players among the Cannons’ best, after booting a goal from his 18 disposals.

While Calder’s finals run ended there and then, Dandenong went on to feature in its fifth TAC Cup Grand Final. Unfortunately, the Stingrays met a rampant Eastern Ranges once again on that day, and continued their premiership curse in a 112-point loss.

Classic Contests: Riccardi ensures Cannons share points in Morwell

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 17 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power. In this edition, we wind the clock back to 2018 when the two sides played out a thrilling draw decided right at the death.

2018 TAC Cup, Round 9
Sunday June 17 1:00pm
Morwell Football Ground

GIPPSLAND POWER 1.1 | 7.3 | 7.4 | 11.6 (72)
CALDER CANNONS 1.5 | 4.5 | 7.9 | 10.12 (72)


Gippsland: J. Smith 3, H. Pepper 2, A. Hodge 2, B. Smith 2, B. Motton, N. Gown.
J. Riccardi 5, J. Roumeliotis 2, S. Ramsay, M. Abou-Eid, H. Minton-Connell.


Gippsland: J. van der Pligt, A. Hodge, B. Smith, B. Beck, N. Gown, R. Baldi
W. Jury, J. Riccardi, M. Abou-Eid, H. Jones, I. Moussa , S. Graham

Draftees in action:

Gippsland: Noah Gown, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, Leo Connolly, Harry Pepper
Calder: Jake Riccardi, Harrison Jones, Sam Ramsay, Lachlan Johnson (via Oakleigh Chargers)

There may have been a host of top-age draft prospects out of TAC Cup action in Round 9 of the 2018 season, leaving it up to Calder and Gippsland’s bottom, and over-agers to produce a thriller in Morwell. The Power were the more fancied side, sitting pretty in second spot with a 6-1-1 record on the back of four-straight wins. Calder’s 3-5 start to the season had it poised in eighth spot, having lost two on the trot and failed to string together consecutive wins to that point.

With those factors in mind and despite both sides coming in heavily depleted, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Calder get the early jump with a two-goal head start. That two-goal buffer was the best Calder would muster, and only lasted until six minutes into the second term, when back-to-back Brock Smith goals send Gippsland in front. With Josh Smith and Harrison Pepper also boasting two majors each, the Power broke out to a 16-point lead at half time.

Cue the next momentum shift, as the Cannons hit back with a three-goal to nil third term to inflict a 21-point turnaround. Touches of inaccuracy threatened to hurt the away side, but they were well and truly in the hunt heading into the final change. It seemed for all money that Boadie Motton‘s 23rd-minute major would see Gippsland snatch the four points, but Jake Riccardi‘s reply with under a minute left on the clock saw the two sides share spoils come the final siren.

In a remarkable game-defining patch, Riccardi booted Calder’s last five goals for the game to prove his credentials as a potential draft bolter. While he would be made to wait at least another year for his chance at the elite level, his AFL qualities shone through. John Roumeliotis had a similar, steadying impact for the Cannons early on, but it was Will Jury who was adjudged his side’s best. Harrison Jones showed some promise, taking the field alongside fellow draftees Sam Ramsay and Lachlan Johnson.

Josh Smith led the Power’s goalkicking charge with three snags, followed by three players who managed two, including Brock Smith, Pepper, and Austin Hodge. Jake Van Der Plight beat them all to best afield honours, even trumping the likes of Noah Gown on the day.

The drawn clash would be the only meeting between the two sides in 2018, and was Gippsland’s second tie for the year. The Power went on to finish second at 12-2-2, before having their season ended in emphatic fashion by way of a 93-point thumping at the hands of Oakleigh. Calder improved slightly to finish seventh at 7-8-1, but bowed out in Wildcard Round to a replenished Geelong Falcons outfit.

Classic Contests: Cannons grab momentum at ideal time to upset Bushies

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 16 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind the clock back to 2017, when Calder got up on the road in a game defined by heavy momentum shifts.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 13
Sunday July 16, 1:00pm
Deakin Reserve

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 7.1 | 8.5 | 12.6 | 15.8 (98)
CALDER CANNONS 2.2 | 9.5 | 11.12 | 15.17 (107)


Murray: D. Johnston 6, Z. Barzen 3, J. Trotter, N. Murray, J. Richards, J. Butts, J. Lane, J. Wilson.
J. Velissaris 3, M. Moustafa 3, A. Tilley 3, D. Landt 2, M. Podhajski, B. Caluzzi, B. Bernacki, S. Skidmore.


Murray: D. Johnston, B. Paton, J. Lane, R. Bruce, W. Donaghey, N. Murray
N. Balta, B. Bernacki, J. Firebrace, A. Tilley, P. Mahoney, M. Podhajski

Draftees in action:

Murray: Ben Paton, Jordon Butts, Mathew Walker, Ely Smith
Calder: Noah Balta, Jake Riccardi

It seemed we were in for a straightforward result when the 9-3 Murray Bushrangers were poised to host the 3-9 Calder Cannons in Round 13 of the 2017 TAC Cup, but Calder must have missed the memo. The Bushrangers had won in three of their last four outings having come out of the mid-year patch relatively unscathed, while Calder benefited from the period to pick up three wins in its last six games with a consistent win-loss pattern. Importantly, the Cannons had lost last time out, so were due for a win according to form.

The withdrawal of Lachlan Sholl on gameday hardly helped the Cannons’ cause, leaving them a man down heading into the clash at Deakin Reserve. It seemed to show in the early goings, as Murray stormed out of the blocks with the game’s first six majors to set up a five-goal advantage at the first break. Cue the first momentum shift, as Calder carried on its form from late in the opening term to reply with seven goals in the next period. The flurry put the Cannons a single straight kick ahead at the main break.

After two very different periods of play, Calder would keep up with the rampant Bushrangers but was unable to convert enough chances to apply the rightful scoreboard impact. A wasteful 2.7 put the Cannons level with Murray at three quarter time, after the Bushrangers converted four of their five scoring shots. With the scores tied up at 78 points apiece heading into the final term, the game was poised for a grandstand finish.

Murray looked to be well on its way to outlasting the Cannons after Joe Richards and Daniel Johnston booted majors early in the final stanza, but the Cannons would rally and have their greater wealth of scoring opportunities count to come out unlikely nine-point victors. The win saw Calder jump from 11th to ninth, maintaining its win-loss pattern and putting the Cannons back in the race for finals amid a mid-table bottleneck.

Richmond utility Noah Balta was outstanding for the victors, racking up 31 disposals and seven marks in a powerful display, with three behinds making his outing a would-have-been blinder. Cannons leader Brad Bernacki was at his consistent best with 26 touches, nine tackles, and a goal, while new GWS mature-age recruit Jake Riccardi was kept to just two minor scores from his nine disposals. TAC Cup leading goalkicker Johnstone earned plaudits for his six-goal haul on the losing side, while St Kilda’s Ben Paton had 23 disposals, five marks, and five tackles. Fellow draftees Mathew Walker (17 disposals, eight marks), Jordon Butts (16 dispsosals, six marks), and Ely Smith (19 disposals) also contributed solidly.

Come season’s end, ninth would be all the Cannons could manage, finishing the regular season at 6-12 and a game and a half off eighth spot. Murray only added one win to its tally for the remainder of the season, ending up fifth with 10 wins and eight losses, only to lose comfortably in week one of finals to eventual grand finalist, Sandringham.

Classic Contests: Cannons hold off Pioneers in slow-scoring affair

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 14 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Bendigo Pioneers and Calder Cannons. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides met in early in the season for a low-scoring slog.

2019 NAB League, Round 6
Saturday May 4, 2:15pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 4.3 | 6.5 | 7.6 | 7.10 (52)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.3 | 5.6 (36)


Calder: M. Fletcher 2, B. Rigoni, N. Gentile, J. O’Sullivan, D. Mott, M. Allison.
E. Roberts, R. Ironside, J. Ginnivan, Z. Murley, C. Fisher.


Calder: J. Martin, D. Mott, J. Hotchkin, T. Browning, N. Gentile, B. Newman
J. Treacy, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Schischka, B. Vaz, W. Wallace

Draftees in action:

Calder: Sam Ramsay
Brady Rowles

There have not exactly been many ‘classic’ contests between these two sides over the past decade, but they got within 16 points of each other in Round 6 of last year’s NAB League season in a decent showing. The Cannons were beginning to shake off a slow start to their campaign, improving to 2-3 with a win over Geelong in Round 5. Conversely, Bendigo was beginning to slide after a rampant 2-0 start, sitting at 2-2 with a bye in tow.

The Cannons may have been missing a couple of their eventual, surprise draftees, but would go into the clash boasting most of its top-end talent at the time. Of them, Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay took the field, while Bendigo’s sole draftee on the team sheet was Sydney speedster, Brady Rowles. The absences of key players and first round picks Brodie Kemp and Thomson Dow would prove costly for Bendigo over the stretch, as it looked to reclaim some of its early season form.

True to form, Calder made the hot start with a four goals to one opening term. While Bendigo was accurate with its sole scoring shot for the quarter, the Cannons could only put away four of their seven attempts. It seemed the Cannons were en route to a big win having kept their opponents to just one goal in the second term too, adding another couple themselves to set up a 28-point lead at half-time.

But that was when the Pioneers began to shake off the potential wares of their big road trip, doubling their goal tally in the third term to shave the margin to 21 points heading into the final period of play. Still, they would need to double their tally again to sneak over the line while keeping Calder goalless. Bendigo managed the second feat, but lacked the firepower in tough conditions, falling just under three goals short to the better fancied Cannons.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher booted two majors in a day which was scare of goals, while midfield ace Daniel Mott also found the goals with one of his game-high 36 disposals. Brodie Newman managed 21 along with 12 marks, while James Schischka (20 disposals) was Bendigo’s leading ball winner. Rowles had one of his more influential outings with a season-high 17 touches, with Ramsay kept to 16 on the opposing side.

The Cannons would go on to finish two games outside of the top three, notching a 9-6 record to sit fifth. After a win in week one of finals, their season would end at the hands of Sandringham in the semi finals. Bendigo failed to make its own post-season splash, bundled out in Wildcard Round after amassing a 5-10 come the end of the regular season.

Marquee Matchups: Jackson Cardillo vs. Archie Perkins

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Calder’s Jackson Cardillo and Sandringham’s Archie Perkins – ironically already played alongside one another at representative level in 2019, and are set to do so again this year as part of Vic Metro’s Under 18 side. But it is at NAB League level where we may see these two line up on opposing sides, with Cardillo already a mainstay in the Cannons’ side, while Perkins is again set to don the Dragon in between school football commitments with Brighton Grammar.

Both are tremendous athletes who ply their trade in a mix of midfield and forward time, able to use their explosiveness in different facets of the game to catch the eye. Having spent the majority of their time inside forward 50 throughout 2019, the two movers of virtually identical size will now look to develop in more prominent midfield roles across all levels. With that being the case, Cardillo and Perkins would well oppose each other at centre bounces during the NAB League, or join each other on the opposite side of the centre and half-forward lines during the national carnival.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.


Jackson Cardillo
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

DOB: July 3, 2002

Height: 185cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: March 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward



Cardillo – 66cm
– 70cm


Cardillo – 76cm/82cm
– 92cm/84cm

SPEED (20m)

Cardillo – 2.88 seconds
– 2.94 seconds


Cardillo – 8.15 seconds
– 8.24 seconds


Cardillo – 20.2
– 20.8

These are some of the more outstanding numbers from the Victorian preseason testing day, with both prospects so well matched across each area. Perkins clearly thrives in the jumps, producing massive efforts standing and off either side – something which also shines through on-field. Cardillo certainly does not lag in those areas, but his ground-level prowess is highlighted in very slightly quicker scores in the speed and agility tests. Perkins, a terrific mover across the ground and on the spread boasts a better endurance score, but that is not entirely reflective of Cardillo’s tireless work at the contest.


20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test




18 games
13.2 disposals
2.1 marks
3.8 tackles
2.6 clearances
2.6 inside 50s
0.6 goals (11)


6 games
14.2 disposals
4.2 marks
1.8 tackles
1.3 clearances
3.2 inside 50s
1.7 goals (10)

There is obviously a much smaller sample size to work with on Perkins’ size in terms of NAB League output, but the similarities between the pair are still evident in their 2019 numbers. Both players achieved similar disposal outputs, but it is Cardillo’s ground ball nous (3.8 tackles, 2.6 clearances) and Perkins’ aerial superiority (4.2 marks) which set them apart from one another.

The ability for Perkins to be a weapon going forward is also clear in his greater inside 50 (3.2) and goal (1.7) averages, with his impact hardly waning when used forward of the ball. On the other hand, Cardillo’s tackling pressure and hardness at the ball helps him thrive up forward, with his accumulative impact evident while running through midfield.

Overall, the pair returned very solid numbers as bottom-agers, particularly given they were both moved around the ground and had talented top-aged teammates to content with.



2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Dandenong

27 disposals
5 marks
9 tackles
8 clearances
3 inside 50s
1 goal


2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. Geelong

20 disposals (16 kicks)
5 marks
4 tackles
1 clearance
5 inside 50s
5 behinds

Cardillo’s season-high effort of 27 disposals stands well clear as his best game from a midfield standpoint, thriving on the inside and remaining relevant going both ways. It was the only game in which Cardillo managed to tick over 20 touches, on top of achieving a season-high in tackles with nine to prove his defensive worth. His ability to hunt the ball was also evident as he slammed forward eight clearances and three inside 50s, providing that all-important metres-gained element.

Speaking of, Perkins is one of the most damaging metres-gained midfielder/forwards in the entire 2020 draft crop, and proved as much in his 20-disposal performance against Geelong. Unlike in Cardillo’s best game, Perkins and his Dragons teammates went perilously close to losing in this encounter, scraping over the line by two points as the player in question booted five behinds. Had he been more accurate in the Ballarat conditions, Perkins’ game would have gone to another level given his outstanding marking efforts and penetration (16 kicks, five inside 50s) from half-forward.

Cardillo’s dual two-goal efforts could well have earned a shout here, but he only managed a combined 27 disposals in those outings, while his 19 disposals and one goal against Eastern in Round 17 made for another outstanding candidate. Perkins, too was well-versed against good opposition, booting three goals against premier, Oakleigh in Round 17, with his 16 disposals and two goals against the Sydney Swans Academy another performance near the mark.


2019 Under 17 Futures, Vic Metro vs. Queensland


18 disposals
1 mark
2 clearances
1 rebound 50
1 goal


21 disposals
2 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
5 inside 50s
1 rebound 50

As mentioned, Cardillo and Perkins are already familiar with each other, but as teammates rather than foes. The two ran out for the Vic Metro Under 17s in 2019, both returning decent numbers as part of the midfield-forward rotation. Perkins was arguably the better on the day, bossing the half-forward line early while later pumping the ball towards goal amid greater midfield time. Cardillo was utilised a touch more on the outside when running further afield, while also assuming his usual secondary role inside forward 50. With efforts around the 20-disposal mark, both players were among Metro’s most influential and versatile.



Explosive speed
Kick penetration
Stoppage presence


Vertical leap

There are a few slight differences in either player’s listed strengths, despite their very similar makeups. The distinction of Cardillo’s ‘explosive speed’ to Perkins’ ‘explosiveness’ is deliberate, intended to hint that the latter is a more powerful overall package, while the former thrives slightly more in the specific area of speed. Perkins’ other strengths – vertical leap and athleticism – add to that case, though Cardillo is certainly no slouch across the board either.

While Perkins is as damaging as they come with his combination of forward penetration from high up the ground and scoreboard impact, Cardillo provides meterage in his long kicks, mostly from stoppage situations as he bursts away with that five-step speed and delivers the ball forward. The added trait of stoppage presence attributed to Cardillo is largely credit to his two-way work rate, with his attitude towards ball winning matched by a strong tenacity for tackling.

Cardillo’s nod for versatility applies to both players, but may be slightly more applicable to Cardillo at the next level, with his ground-ball presence and tackling pressure incredibly transferable to medium-small forward roles. On the other hand, Perkins is more of a dynamic, aerial threat who can have a greater say around the ground, providing a target while creating forward movement from almost nothing.



Disposal consistency



Picking out improvements for players with high ceilings is usually a relatively simple task, with such players typically quite raw and mistake-prone. But both of these prospects are pretty well polished, with only a couple of areas left to sharpen and help them become better overall footballers. Cardillo’s disposal consistency is something that can be fine-tuned, with his penetration no issue, but shorter options on the move and under pressure sometimes overlooked or missed. Though Perkins is so well suited to the outside, the suggested upping of midfield time means he can increase his ball winning rate, while not losing any of that damage or scoreboard impact he is already known for.



Round 14 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks.

His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on.

Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and ability to break tackles.


2019 NAB League Round 17 vs. Oakleigh

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going.

Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals.

His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.


The thing which makes this matchup so intriguing is how closely the pair is matched across their physical attributes. A single centimetre separates them, and they are two of the most remarkable Under 18 prospects across the country in terms of athletic ability across each department. Explosive midfield types are always a joy to watch, with those bursts from congestion often the most replayed moments on highlight reels. Both players may well be capable of producing as much at the elite level, and have the added asset of being able to impact the game up forward. Perkins may feature slightly ahead on draft boards, but both players are sure to provide eye-catching moments once back on the park as two of Vic Metro’s most promising hopefuls.

Classic Contests: Cannons hold off wasteful Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to…

2016 TAC Cup, Round 13
Saturday July 9, 11:00am
Highgate Reserve

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 2.7 | 4.12 | 8.14 (62)
CALDER CANNONS 4.2 | 7.2 | 8.4 | 10.7 (67)


Northern: C. McKay 2, J. Shea 2, L. Murphy, M. Perry, A. Federico, M. Signorello
L. Middleton 2, T. Burnside 2, M. Saad 2, L. Bramble, N. Balta, M. Lewis, B. Ronke


Northern: M. Lentini, M. Signorello, L. Murphy, E. Penrith, L. Bunker, C. Roberts
B. Ronke, J. Velissaris, H. Blythe, M. Saad, B. Caluzzi, J. Owen

Draftees in action:

Northern: Nick Coffield*, Patrick Naish*, Matthew Signorello, Lachlan Murphy
Calder: Noah Balta*, Mitchell Lewis, Ben Ronke, Zach Guthrie

* – denotes bottom-aged

Calder and Northern ensured their only meeting for the 2016 TAC Cup season would be a close one, with the more accurate Cannons made to work for a five-point victory on home turf. While either side boasted four eventual draftees each, the gap in their respective form was evidenced by Calder’s four straight wins to sit sixth at 6-6, while Northern had won two of its last four games to improve to 3-9 in 11th place.

The Knights’ crop of high-end talent was propped up a touch more by bottom-agers, including the likes of Patrick Naish and Nick Coffield, with top-ager Patrick Lipinski absent for the clash. On the other hand, all three of Calder’s 2016 draftees took the field, with Ben Ronke among them and adjudged his side’s best on the day. As the action showed, that slight experience advantage paid dividends for Calder in typically tough Highgate conditions.

True to form, the Cannons broke out to an early lead at 4.2 to 2.2 come the first break, while Northern spurned the chance to hit back in the second, registering behinds with each of its five scoring shots as Calder put away its three chances to create a 25-point buffer heading into half time.

The trend continued into the third term as Northern desperately tried to claw its way back into the contest, with an added 2.5 setting up what would be a tense finish at just 16 points adrift. Having finally broken the kicking curse with 4.2 to Calder’s 2.3, it proved too little and too late with the Cannons holding on to a five-point lead as the final siren sounded.

Ronke’s 23 disposals, 10 tackles, and one goal for the winners helped him earn best-on honours, with the VFL-listed Jean-Luc Velissaris and Muhammad Saad also thereabouts. Fellow Coburg pair Marcus Lentini (30 disposals) and Luke Bunker (23) were among Northern’s best, with Adelaide draftees Matthew Signorello and Lachlan Murphy managed 27 disposals and a goal each.

In terms of the other future AFL-listed players afield, Noah Balta and Mitchell Lewis were both kept to under 10 disposals and a goal each, while Zach Guthrie had 11 touches. For Northern, Naish had 18 disposals and Coffield, 15 as bottom-agers. The Knights would have two players drafted in 2016 and four in 2017, while Calder laid claim to three and one over the next two years respectively.

Both sides dropped slightly come the end of the regular season in 2016, as Calder held on to a finals spot in seventh with its 8-9 record, only to be bundled out of the post-season upon the first hurdle. Northern finished last of the Victorian sides in 12th, adding just one more win after Round 13 to sit at 4-14.