Tag: campbell chesser

Q&A: Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Sandringham Dragons’ Campbell Chesser at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The Lavington junior hails from Murray’s region, but features among the Sandringham program given he has boarded at Melbourne Grammar since the start of Year 9. A very capable sprinter in the athletics realm, Chesser captured attention with his speed from half-back, the wing, and through midfield in last year’s Under 16 National Championships. Having earned All Australian honours there, he made his NAB League debut in Round 17 and played in the Dragons’ two finals appearances.

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Q&A:


MA: Campbell, how’s the day been so far?

CC: “It’s been good, I’m down here testing with the (Murray) Bushrangers at the moment. But the event’s running pretty smoothly, we’re not waiting around for too long and the results have been pretty good so far.”

 

Which are some of the tests you feel you can thrive in, and ones you might be improving on?

“I think the agility, the one I just did is probably one that I’ve got to improve a little bit on. I think speed’s definitely a strength in my game so being able to exploit that – I tested pretty well in the 20m sprint which was good.”

 

You were able to showcase that speed last year for the Vic Country Under 16s, it must have been a great week up in Queensland?

“It was good, we started down in Geelong against Metro and fell short there. It was a good game, the boys competed really well. Then we went up to Queensland and it was a great carnival, a good week with the boys away. We didn’t get the result we wanted against WA but then finally got the win in the last game at the GABBA which was good.”

 

How has the transition from the Murray region, to boarding at school in Melbourne and coming into Sandringham been?

“I’m loving it. I moved down at the start of Year 9 and it’s been really good to find a balance for footy, or sport in general and studies as well. It’s been good, the culture down there is awesome in the APS system, I’m loving it.”

 

Who are some of the boys you’re looking forward to running out alongside across your multiple teams this year?

“I’ve got Sam Berry, who’s from Gippsland and also a boarder along with Chance Doultree and Harry Sullivan. There’s a few boys from the NAB League system who have come into the APS system so I’ll be playing alongside some good players and good mates, then competing against them also.”

 

Are you keen to lock down a certain role this year?

“I think it depends what team I’m in. For Sandy I’ll probably play across half-back a little bit this year and just try to improve that versatility as much as I can. For school footy hopefully I’ll go inside, play a little bit through the middle and hopefully get forward a little bit as well which would be good.”

 

Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off?

“Yes, hopefully I’ll play in the Australia (Under 17s) vs. New Zealand game coming up in April. Then the ultimate goal for this year is to probably put myself in the best position for the National Championships as a bottom-ager.

“Hopefully I can play in the Futures game at the end of the year too, so it’ll be a long year but I’m looking forward to it. Not too much pressure which is good, (I’ll) just enjoy the year really.”

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Country Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro squad predictions and today we take a look at Vic Country’s potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old inclusions are limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that injured players will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the second squad prediction, with Vic Country’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Clayton Gay (Dandenong), Zach Reid (Gippsland), Cam Fleeton (Geelong)
HB – Nick Stevens (GWV), Ethan Baxter (Murray), Isaac Wareham (GWV)

There is a good mix of styles and talent among this back six, with some height, power, dash, and clean ball use all to come from these potential representatives. Versatile 202cm tall Zach Reid seems a lock for full back, able to also double as ruck aid.

Leadership candidate Cam Fleeton and Dandenong standout Clayton Gay provide sound reading of the play and aerial presence on the last line, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) pair Nick Stevens and Isaac Wareham are solid options off half-back. 19-year-old Wareham has already donned the Big V at under 18 level, but may earn another chance given injury curtailed his top-age season.

Ethan Baxter is the final member of the defence, a solidly-built Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) product who is a touch undersized (192cm) to play as a pure key defender, but makes up for it with strength. He could be utilised elsewhere, but we see him fulfilling a role down back.

MIDFIELD

C – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland), Tanner Bruhn (Geelong), Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo)
FOL – Henry Walsh (Geelong), Sam Berry (Gippsland), Zavier Maher (Murray)

Zavier Maher may be the tallest of the Vic Country mids here at 184cm, but by no means will the chosen crop lack power or ball winning ability. Maher, Sam Berry, and Tanner Bruhn are all terrific at the centre bounces, with Maher and Berry the powerful types, while Bruhn is all class in congestion.

Berry can run all day, too, much like Bendigo’s Jack Ginnivan on the outside. Ginnivan could also find a spot up forward like fellow wingman, Ryan Angwin, but the pair have really come on of late and should have no trouble in making an impact further afield.

Of course, Henry Walsh will likely be the one to provide first use to his midfield fleet as the primary ruck. The brother of Carlton Rising Star, Sam is quite apt at the centre bounces with his 201cm frame and is constantly working on his ground level work.

FORWARD

HF – Noah Gadsby (Geelong), Oliver Henry (Geelong), Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo)
FF – Dominic Bedendo (Murray), Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh), Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong)

This is hardly a forward six blessed with height or overwhelming strength, but that is not to say that it lacks marking power. Much like Baxter in defence, the high-flying Oliver Henry could play above his size as a focal point, though may be better suited to a third tall role. Highly touted Bulldogs NGA prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is unbeatable off the lead at full forward, so is a lock for that spot.

Alongside him may be Dominic Bedendo, a fantastic athletic talent who can compete both in the air and at ground level, while Charlie Lazzaro occupies the other pocket. He is arguably predominantly more a midfielder, but has been adding strings to his bow as a small forward.

On the flanks, his Geelong teammate Noah Gadsby also slots in as a newcomer to the forward line, while raw Bendigo product Seamus Mitchell assumes a role familiar to him on the same line. The largely small make-up of this six is somewhat a product of the guidelines we put in place, as there are a few key position products across each age bracket who could easily add some height and strength to the structure.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Sam Conforti (Bendigo), Will Bravo (Dandenong), Bayleigh Welsh (Dandenong), Blake Kuipers (Dandenong)

Filling out the side are some versatile options, with most of these prospects able to be utilised in many roles. Sam Conforti skippered the Under 16 Country side, and could well slot in as a small forward or wingman in this lineup. Dandenong’s Will Bravo is an exciting player who should also get a run up forward, providing a touch of speed and evasion while also being able to contribute in midfield.

Two more Stingrays cap off the side, with Bayleigh Welsh a midfielder the Dandenong program is high on, while athletic over-age swingman Blake Kuipers could be one to again sneak into the team as key position or ruck depth.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

Given this may be the only chance for draft-eligible top-agers to shine in front of recruiters in 2020, there will be plenty who come onto the radar of AFL clubs. Elijah Hollands and Noah Gribble are two who would have featured in the team, but unfortunately miss out due to long-term knee injuries.

Academy prospect Josh Treacy is a key forward who could well fit into the squad having gained experience for Country at Under 17 level, with fellow tall options Mason Hawkins and Keith Robinson of Gippsland others who can fill that forward/ruck role.

In terms of smalls, classy Geelong co-captain Gennaro Bove may be in the mix, while nippy GWV forward Harry Sharp has also caught the eye alongside another Falcon, Blake Reid. Other options from the Geelong region include Charlie Brauer – another outstanding athlete – and Kyle Skene.

Speaking of athletes, Bendigo is high on elite runner Jack Hickman and could also see the likes of ex-Rebel Jack Tillig or Finn Ellis-Castle push into contention. Dandenong has a couple of products around the mark too, with Deakyn Smith and Jai Neal both likely to be considered.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Last year’s Under 16 side may not have produced pure results-based success, but there are a few fantastic prospects who should push into contention. Leading the pack is last year’s carnival MVP Josh Rachele, a damaging midfielder/forward who is incredibly skilled.

Ben Hobbs was his partner-in-crime through midfield and should also get a crack as one of many high-end GWV up-and-comers. Those include Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch, and Josh Gibcus, with the former two already boasting NAB League experience.

Fleet-footed Sandringham prospect Campbell Chesser was another to impress enough to break into the NAB League, while fellow Under 16 All Australians Toby Conway and Cooper Hamilton are also within the Academy bubble.

Given the focus will even more strictly be placed on draft eligible players, the likes of Ben Green, Connor Macdonald, Tom Brown, Justin Davies and so on will likely have to wait until next year to break into the Under-18 representative side.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-age seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

19-YEAR-OLDS

Possibly the most unlucky over-ager to miss out on our squads is Geelong’s Darcy Chirgwin, who was set to return to his original region after representing Sandringham in his draft year. After injury heavily interrupted his 2019 campaign, he should come into consideration once again.

Geelong teammate Jay Dahlhaus also suffered a long-term injury last year but should be back for more, while Murray prospect Sam Durham has shown a good rate of improvement as a latecomer to the code. Jai Newcombe is somewhat of a bolter having only now made the final cut at Gippsland, and could provide that inside presence with Chirgwin given he is yet to capture centre stage.

The two 19-year-olds we chose for both squads, Kuipers and Wareham, come into the category of players with great upside. Kuipers’ height and athleticism make him a handy option to fill gaps up either end or in the ruck, and his phenomenal testing performance puts him in good stead. Wareham is a solid athlete who will more so be looking for consistency after his top-age campaign last year.

With these additional top, bottom, and over-age prospects in mind, below is our potential best Vic Country squad without any provisions.

FB – Clayton Gay, Zach Reid, Cameron Fleeton
HB – Nick Stevens, Blake Kuipers, Ethan Baxter
C – Ryan Angwin, Tanner Bruhn, Jack Ginnivan
HF – Noah Gadsby, Oliver Henry, Seamus Mitchell
FF – Charlie Lazzaro, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Josh Rachele
FOL – Henry Walsh, Sam Berry, Zavier Maher
INT
– Will Bravo, Dominic Bedendo, Ben Hobbs, Isaac Wareham

Q&A: Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers/Allies)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Murray Bushrangers’ Charlie Byrne at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

A forward-moving half-back, Byrne impressed in his 16 NAB League outings across 2019 with his ability to generate run and penetrate either arc from defence. The 184cm prospect was also previously been developed through the GWS Academy system, and he has gone on to represent New South Wales at both Under 16 and 17 level.

Having been named in the Allies squad last year despite not getting on the park, Byrne has become a leader among the group and will look to further his game in a half-back/midfield role this season – should it get underway.

Q&A:

MA: Charlie, how’s the day been so far?

CB: “It’s been good. “Eventful for some of the boys, me not particularly. “But it’s been a good day, looking at all the other boys and seeing what they’re capable of.

“Other than that it’s all a bunch of fun, but I think we’re all pushing each other so the day’s been really good. “Couldn’t ask for any better, especially being inside so I don’t have to deal with wind (or) rain.”

How’ve you gone with the testing, do you feel that you’ve improved?

“Yeah, from last year I reckon I’ve improved. “Obviously I needed to, but testing this year for me I’ve actually really enjoyed. “I think I’ve improved in the majority of the things which I find is a big tick for me. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better, just the 20m sprint I didn’t do as well as I wanted but I did what I needed to.”

“The testing day’s also a learning (experience), you go away from it and know what you have to get better at so for me it’s just a big learning day as well.”

And you’ve had a pretty big pre-season so far?

“Pre-season was better and bigger than the others but we dealt with it pretty well. “I think we got through all the hard conditions, got up to 40 (degrees) and we were still doing what we needed to do.

“But I think this year’s pre-season’s really shown all the boys their characters, and I think it’s gotten the best out of me as well so I loved the pre-season this year, loved getting out there and just doing what I needed to do.”

In your bottom-age year, surely there was no better mentor to have as a half-back than Lachie Ash?

“Yeah he told me what to do and I learned from it. “I’d have to give him credit for me just playing this year knowing what he did and me trying to replicate it. “There’s nothing better than Lachie Ash going pick four and playing off half-back, him giving me tips. “He was obviously ripping into me when I needed it but I loved playing alongside him and learning.”

Who are some of the boys you’re looking forward to playing alongside this year?

“I was quite excited to play with Elijah (Hollands) but it’s unlucky for him, we all were pretty upset about it but that’s just how it goes, you’ve just got to live on. “But I’m pretty keen to play again with Campbell Chesser and Josh Rachele, even Zavier Maher and Harry Beasley coming off half-back. “There’s a lot.”

And with the Allies as well?

“Yeah with the Allies this year and growing up from bottom-age last year to now, I’m seeing myself almost as a leader. “Not to the point where I am a leader but I’m more vocal around the boys and being more vocal gets me to be a better football player as well, just being comfortable.

“So I think the Allies this year has given me a big step up, knowing where I have to be and with those boys pushing me as well. “Unluckily for me I don’t get to play with many of them throughout the season but being around that kind of environment keeps me going and I really love playing with those kinds of players.”

How’s the Academy been for your development over the years?

“Being in the New South Wales development squads, like the GIANTS all the way up to 16s, then going to the Bushies has been quite interesting. “I think (having played) for New South Wales, Victorian and New South Wales footballers are a lot different. The Vics are real big-bodied and structured whereas New-South is like you’re running a bit more.”

“I reckon I learned quick hands and quick skills off New-South and then went to Vic footy and it’s a whole different ball game but learning to cop the hits and get in position I reckon has helped me out tremendously and I just really couldn’t have asked for any better. I reckon it’s given me a huge advantage.”

Are you looking to change position at all this season?

“My heart is set on half-back. “I love playing off half-back, but I really think I’ll strive to play midfield this year. I think as a midfielder you have to be fit and I’ve been pushing to get to that stage where I am fit enough, so I think midfield/half-back will be my position this year.”

Have you set any goals so far?

“I think the main goal for me this year is being happy and not taking anything for granted. “I think boys tend in their draft year to stress out about drafting too much. “I think I really just need to sit here and enjoy it, and just play my football, play how I enjoy, play my brand of football. “If it’s good enough, it’ll get me there. I’m not stressing out, putting all those grey hairs on top of my head.”

NAB League Boys: Round 17 – Clubs put it all on the line in final round

THE big guns are back in action for the final regular season NAB League round, with the safety of third position up for grabs in what is arguably the game of the weekend between Sandringham and Oakleigh. As has become tradition, the six games will be played over two triple-headers, with Saturday’s all-metro games to be played in Werribee, and Sunday’s all-country fixtures in Bendigo.

WESTERN JETS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday August 17, 10:00am
Avalon Airport Oval

Both the Western Jets and Northern Knights will be looking to improve their ladder position heading into Wildcard Round as they open Saturday’s Werribee triple-header. The 8-6 Jets come in a game in front of the Knights but hold an inferior percentage, meaning a loss would see the two teams swap spots. Western’s Round 1 win over their weekend opponents is now the only factor separating the sides after 17 rounds, and the Knights will be keen to get one back over their metropolitan counterparts. They’ll have been chomping at the bit during their fortnight off after going down at home to Bendigo, with Western also coming in off a defeat. The Jets will be boosted by the return of Metro representative Darcy Cassar, who slots straight back into the lineup alongside Metro’s U17 Futures squad member, Lucas Failli. Northern has a couple of handy inclusions too, with Adam Carafa and Ewan Macpherson back after undergoing similar duties to Cassar and Failli, but key overage depth in Sunny Brazier and Oscar Simpson goes the other way among eight changes. Both sides have been difficult to predict in recent games but enjoyed solid mid-season runs, but it remains to be seen which of them will bounce back best from a minor skid. Should be a tight one if their previous meeting is anything to go by.

CALDER CANNONS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday August 17, 12:30pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The chance to finish clear on top looms for Eastern Ranges when they clash with the Calder, with the Cannons still able to go level on points with third. The Ranges have shown few weaknesses across their 14 games thus far, losing just three of them and boasting a percentage 14 per cent clear of their next best rival. Despite keeping on track in terms of clinching the minor premiership, Eastern has encountered a couple of scares in recent weeks to go with a loss to Oakleigh, scraping over the line by a collective margin of nine points against Murray and Dandenong. They’ll have to bring their best against Calder, who just keep finding a way to win on their streak of four victories. They have sured up their side for the task too, with a trio of Under 16s making way for PEGS representatives Harrison Jones, Harrison Minton-Connell, and Campbell Edwardes. Eastern’s answer to that is just as promising, with Jamieson Rossiter, Lachie Stapleton, and Connor Downie among six inclusions at the selection table. There should be no excuses from either side as they once again hit full strength, looking to cap off their seasons strongly heading into the business end. Expect Eastern’s consistency and all-round strength to shine through, but don’t be surprised to see Calder run very closely.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday August 17, 3:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The game of the round pits Sandringham against Oakleigh, with both sides looking to claim third spot and earn a week off heading into finals. As if the stakes weren’t high enough, a raft of big names are back after the close of the school football season as both sides have made at least 10 changes each. Seven Vic Metro guns are set to return for the Dragons, with the likes of Louis Butler, Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, and Charlie Dean adding so much class to each of Sandringham’s lines. Under 16 Vic Country co-captain Campbell Chesser is set to debut as 23rd man, with U17 Futures representative Archie Perkins also slotting in. If you thought those names were impressive, Oakleigh have done their best to show the Dragons up with Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson returning alongside skippers Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco, bottom-age guns Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae, and exciting ruckman Nick Bryan. 16-year-old Youseph Dib will also feature for his debut, and there would hardly be a better home-and-away game to do it in. With the sides so evenly matched and big names popping up across the field, this should be the highest quality NAB League game since… well, since their Round 3 encounter. The ledger is even at 1-1 after Oakleigh got one back on the Dragons in Round 12, so the grudge match should be a cracker.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Sunday August 18, 10:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Gippsland Power will be looking to lock away second spot when it opens Sunday’s all-country triple-header against Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The fixture is a repeat of the Round 3 clash between the two sides, when Gippsland handed the Pioneers their first loss of the season by 24 points. Since then, the two sides have embarked on very different paths; with Gippsland proving to be the standout country side as they sit second with a 10-4 record, while the loss sparked a six-game losing streak for the now 5-9 Pioneers. The Power side, littered with an impressive eight Vic Country representatives, looks superior on paper as the two teams near full strength, highlighted by the need to only make two changes coming into this game. Meanwhile, Bendigo is set to make at least four, with Vic Country midfield ace Thomson Dow a welcome addition to the engine room yearning for a bit of grunt. That area is one the Power will hope to get on top in, as well as up forward as the likes of representative talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben look to match up on smaller opponents. Count the Pioneers out at your own peril, but expect Gippsland to click into full gear when required.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday August 18, 12:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two sides with all but confirmed ladder positions in Geelong and Dandenong are set to do battle to close out their regular seasons, looking to end on a high note. While the Falcons are locked into last place, the Stingrays could move up or down one spot from eighth on the back of this weekend’s results. After an undefeated first eight rounds, the reigning premiers find themselves in a far less desirable situation on the back of their mid-late season slump – losing their next seven games. While a fixture against the bottom side which boasts just two wins may seem like a good opportunity to snap that run, a draw in the previous meeting between the two sides will not fill them with much confidence. Needless to say, that game will have the opposite effect on the much-improved Geelong side which has made some handy inclusions. Bottom-age gun Tanner Bruhn heads them, slotting straight back into the lineup after a long-term injury layoff alongside the likes of Gennaro Bove, Noah Gadsby and Charlie Lazzaro. That added midfield depth bodes very well for the Falcons considering Henry Walsh‘s form in the ruck, and given Dandenong’s Hayden Young is spending more time in the midfield. Dandenong’s changes see Cody Weightman and Lachie Williams inject some pace into the lineup, with 16-year-old Connor Macdonald another who could well excite forward of centre. With the Falcons buoyed by a win last time out, they should prove tricky opposition for Dandenong, who themselves will look to break through for a similar victory.

GWV REBELS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 18, 3:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two bottom-half teams are set to scrap it out to end the regular season, with the GWV Rebels and Murray Bushrangers taking on the honours in Bendigo. The Bushrangers have shown marked improvement in recent weeks after an indifferent start to the season, culminating in a 72-point thrashing of Western Jets last time out as they near full strength. The Rebels have shown similar signs of progression too, picking up three wins in their last four outings after a six-game losing run. Ladder position is a little less relevant in this clash as both sides can only move up or down one spot, with Murray a chance to slot into eight if things go their way, and GWV’s only way up to tenth also dependant on other results. Both sides have sought to add some bottom-age class to their lineups, with GWV adding Nick Stevens and Jack Tillig to the 23, while Murray has brought in Tillig’s Vic Country Under 17 teammate Zavier Maher, with over-ager Ben Kelly another solid option for the key position stakes. While Murray has been a touch more inconsistent, you can often bet on the Rebels being competitive and up for the fight, so this could be a tight one if they bring that intensity.

National Championships: U16 All Australian team announced

WITH the Under 16 Division 1 and 2 championships run and done after three exciting rounds, the representative All Australian team has been announced. We take a look at the squad members in a state-by-state breakdown, with Division 1 winners Vic Metro boasting the most representatives (seven), followed by Vic Country’s five and Western Australia and South Australia’s three apiece.

South Australia [3]:

Isaiah Dudley (Forward Pocket)

The exciting small forward also doubles as a midfielder, and enjoyed a carnival full of highlights. Put his incredible goal sense, manic pressure, and knack for snaring the ball all together in SA’s Round 1 win, booting four goals from 27 disposals.

Jason Horne (Half-Forward)

The SA skipper and MVP, Horne is as tough as they come and led from the front for the Croweaters. Does it all at the coalface and keeps busy when forward, with his standout game coming against Vic Country in Round 2 as he collected 18 disposals and booted two goals.

Cooper Murley (Interchange)

Murley provided a nice point of difference through the hard-nosed SA midfield, often seen breaking quickly from congestion and delivering forward. Like many of his midfield mates, Murley showed good versatility to also make an impact when tried in the attacking set-up.

Vic Country [5]:

Campbell Chesser (Half-Back)

The Country co-skipper has line-breaking speed to go with a penetrating boot, making him a meterage machine on the outside. Started on the wing and moved to the back six, with his best game coming against Vic Metro in Round 1.

Toby Conway (Ruck)

A very raw tall prospect who nailed down the ruck spot for Country to allow some of his side’s other big-men to roam forward. Made some impressive taps with soft hands and used the ball well when following up at ground level, building as the carnival wore on.

Cooper Hamilton (Interchange)

Not to be mistaken for twin brother, Hugh, Hamilton is a tough defender who hits the ball hard and gets pumping quickly to advance forward. Thrived in tough conditions in Round 2 against Western Australia and gets stuck in.

Ben Hobbs (Centre)

A contested ball magnet, Hobbs was one of the most consistent midfielders throughout the carnival. Was terrific across all three games, winning high numbers and gradually building to find the ball around the ground with spearing kicks and deceptive speed.

Josh Rachele (Follower)

The standout player of the carnival, Rachele stood up when it mattered for Vic Country – shown best with his 32-disposal outing in a losing effort against WA. Won the Kevin Sheehan Medal as Division 1 MVP to go with his Country MVP award, and will make his NAB League debut this weekend.

Vic Metro [7]:

Braden Andrews (Interchange)

One who was utilised on each line for Metro, using his composure, clean hands and ball use to good effect wherever he was required. Had a great game against Country in Round 1 where he helped his side over the line with a move to defence.

Lachlan Brooks (Interchange)

Had a standout game in the wet against SA in Round 2, collecting 23 disposals, six clearances, and two goals. Provides hard attack on the ball and is clean on the breakaway, while also being able to clutch it up when forward.

Youseph Dib (Wing)

Is aligned to Collingwood as an NGA member, and has a haircut to rival the Magpies’ 2018 NGA draftee, Isaac Quaynor. Is small, but strong in the contest and stayed relevant going both ways with big tackles and zippy bursts forward.

Blake Howes (Half-Forward)

The clinical medium forward did not need many chances to make an impact, and found the goals when it mattered. Is quite slim but stands up well overhead, and showed off his array of skills against SA with two crucial goals to break the game open in Metro’s win.

Alex Lukic (Full Forward)

Lead the Division 1 goal kicking with nine goals on the back of two big bags. Did a lot of his work inside 50 and close to goal, finishing beautifully to boot 5.2 against SA in Round 3, and four goals against Vic Country to open his campaign.

Josh Sinn (Half-Back, Captain)

A damaging mover, Sinn showcased his balance of inside and outside traits as he moved from a lock at half-back to a midfield role. Skippered the title-winning Metro side well, and will surely form a dangerous partnership with Campbell Chesser for Sandringham as rebounding defenders.

Tyler Sonsie (Follower)

The Metro MVP is just so classy and broke away from stoppages with ease. He used the ball cleverly under pressure, while also proving he can double as a forward with his 19 disposals and 4.3 against WA in Round 3. Will be another to make his NAB League debut straight off the bat.

Western Australia [3]:

Rhett Bazzo (Centre Half-Back)

One of the WA defenders who plays slightly above his height, Bazzo was fantastic in the air and used the ball well by foot when required. Has a good mix of tall and small traits, with his athleticism boding well for form in both positions.

Judd McVee (Interchange)

Was outstanding in the first half of WA’s Round 3 loss to Vic Metro, finishing with 16 disposals, seven clearances and two goals. Caught the eye with his incredible burst from the centre bounces, and loves a goal from range.

Blake Morris (Full Back)

Gave up height and weight against key position opponents on several occasions throughout the carnival, but fully made up for it with some fantastic work in the air and desperation at ground level. Reads the ball better than most and intercepted just about everything as WA’s MVP.

Northern Territory [1]:

Brodie Lake (Wing)

The sole NT representative in the squad, Lake was solid in a variety of roles. He proved a handy link on the outside, consistent ball-winner on the inside and effective forward, with the Thunder MVP collecting 26 disposals, eight clearances and two goals against NSW/ACT.

NSW/ACT [1]:

Sam Stening (Centre Half-Forward)

Was so influential in the final quarter against NT and backed it up with three goals against Tasmania, with his overhead marking a feature. Stening leads up effectively and is constantly involved in scores for his side, with his reach making him hard to stop.

Queensland [2]:

Austin Harris (Back Pocket)

Was a busy forward mover from defence and through midfield for Queensland, winning the Maroons’ MVP award. Breaks the lines with good speed and is a neat user on his left foot, while also having the capacity to hit targets at long-range too.

Noah McFadyen (Forward Pocket)

The brother of 2018 Brisbane draftee, Connor, McFadyen is a similar type and booted 14 goals as the standout forward in Division 2. Saved his best game for last against NT, booting 8.2 with shrewd positioning, strong marking and cool finishing helping him along the way.

Tasmania [1]:

Sam Banks (Back Pocket)

One who has already impressed enough to feature in Tasmania’s U18 NAB League side, Banks was most effective across half-back and an interceptor and damaging rebounder. Makes some great passes through the corridor, and can also run through midfield. Took out the Division 2 MVP.

Remember the Names: Top performers from the U16 National Championships

WITH the 2019 Under 16 National Championships run and done, we cast an eye over some of the names you may well see much more of over the next few seasons leading into their draft year in 2021. Our list includes the Most Valuable Player (MVP) from each side across Division 1 and 2, and is broken up into each squad.

South Australia:

Isaiah Dudley (Central District)
166cm | 66kg | 30/04/2003
Small Forward/Midfielder 

Is an absolute excitement machine with his pace and bottomless bag of tricks, often starting inside forward 50 and then getting involved further afield in general play. Having impressed in last year’s championships as an under-ager with his nous around goal, Dudley enjoyed some added midfield minutes and is a tackling machine. His standout game came in SA’s carnival opener against WA, where he collected 27 disposals and booted four goals with some truly special plays. Given his height, Dudley will probably continue on as a small forward as he heads to senior level, but is arguably as talented as anyone in the crop.

Jason Horne (South Adelaide)
184cm | 75kg | 21/06/2003
Balanced Midfielder

The fearless leader took out SA’s MVP award on the back of three very consistent performances, displaying a great balance of mettle and class on either side of the midfield contest. He proved to be one of the more effective extractors throughout, but also sparked a heap of his side’s attacks as he got on his bike away from congestion and lowered his eyes well to hit targets. Also showed he can cause headaches when resting forward, finding the goals in each game and using his strong hands to compete under high balls. 

Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide)
183cm | 77kg | 5/07/2003
Inside Midfielder

Was one of the most effective inside ball-winners, following on from his form in the 2018 Under 16 carnival where attended centre bounces and attracted the ball at will. Roberts will surely form a formidable midfield partnership with South Adelaide teammate Horne for years to come, with both uncompromising ball-winners who have that added class. One of the more pleasing parts of Roberts’ game is his ability to also accumulate inside forward 50, as shown in his final two games of the carnival. Had a blinder in SA’s loss to Vic Metro with 31 disposals, five marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal in the wet.

Vic Country:

Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons)
185cm | 78kg | 27/04/2003
Outside Midfielder/Half-Back 

Started the championships with a classy performance on the wing against Vic Metro before later moving to defence to provide that rebounding quality from half-back. The Country co-captain is a damaging user by foot and likes to take the game on to gain significant meterage, weaving his way around the outside and delivering spearing balls forward. Is originally from Lavington but boards at Melbourne Grammar, meaning he will align with the strong Sandringham Dragons program in NAB League, so look out for his set-ups by foot and clean hands in the near future.

Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
181cm | 75kg | 16/09/2003
Inside Midfielder

Hobbs is an absolute bull through the midfield with unrivaled tenacity and aggression at the stoppages. He wins almost all of his ball himself and thrusts it forward with long kicks, but also grew into the carnival with accumulation around the ground and neat spearing kicks to find shorter targets. Was arguably Country’s second-best player behind Rachele, constantly having 25-plus disposals, double digits in tackles and booting a few goals along the way. 

Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
179cm | 73kg | 11/04/2003
Midfielder/Forward

Class with a capital ‘C’, the Country co-captain took out the Kevin Sheehan Medal (Division 1 MVP) and his side’s own MVP award with three sensational performances throughout the carnival. His talent can be summed up with one play in Country’s last game against SA, where he instinctively tapped the ball on over his shoulder to Ben Hobbs at full flight who finished the play off with a goal. Does some freakish things and constantly looks a threat around the ball with his agility and ability to break away from congestion, using both to good effect at forward stoppages. Has obvious leadership quality too and really lifted in trying to drag Country over the line in their loss to WA, having 32 disposals, six marks, four breaches of each arc and 0.3. A star in the making.

Vic Metro:

Braden Andrews (Oakleigh Chargers)
187cm | 76kg | 21/02/2003
Midfielder/Utility

Able to play through the midfield and just about anywhere else he is needed, Andrews’ best qualities are his clean hands and cool head. While he was quieter against SA, Andrews proved his class in his other two outings and in particular with his role against Vic Country – where he started forward and found the goals, went on to spark the engine room, and later provided some solidity in defence to help Metro hold on for victory. Is one who has potential to be further unlocked, but has some really nice traits already.

Alex Lukic (Oakleigh Chargers)
194cm | 80kg | 7/01/2003
Key Forward

Started with a bag of four goals against Country and came back from a quiet game in the wet against SA to claim five against WA and round out a promising carnival. Did a lot of his work close to goal and proved efficient when given chances, finishing well with set shots and snaps as he opened up the angles. Also chimed in with a bit of ruckwork, and it will be interesting to see whether Lukic can rip games apart with marking on the lead and in more contested situations as he develops. 

Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)
186cm | 72kg | 28/01/03
Midfielder/Half-Back

Was originally employed off half-back in the first three quarters against Vic Country, but became a permanent midfielder after being thrust into the centre bounces and willing Metro over the line in that game. He skippered his side well over the carnival, adjusting his usually outside game to work in the engine room while still providing his trademark run and damage by foot. May see him ease into NAB League level in the back six, but has proven his midfield quality.

Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges)
181cm | 71kg | 27/01/2003
Balanced Midfielder

The Metro MVP was terrific across all three games, claiming best afield honours in two of them and showing off his versatility in the last with 19 disposals, four clearances, four inside 50s and 4.3 against WA. Is a clean extractor from midfield and oozes class in the way he wheels away from traffic, with the added bonus of being clinical around goal from all angles. Will certainly form a damaging midfield trio for Eastern with Tyreece Leiu and Jake Soligo over the next couple of years.

Western Australia:

Max Chipper (Swan Districts)
180cm | 63kg | 9/09/2003
Wing/Outside Midfielder

Better known as ‘Chip’ out on the field, the Swan Districts product is clean and cool in possession, using the ball neatly on the outside to hit targets at will. Unlike a lot of wingmen, Chipper arguably has a better short-range game and joins in at stoppages once the centre bounces play out. Had a really good start to his carnival against SA and finds the ball in all areas.

Judd McVee (East Fremantle)
179cm | 64kg | 7/08/2003
Midfielder

Judd by name and Judd by nature, McVee has that classic burst from the stoppage and showed he is able to hit the scoreboard across three promising games. Was arguably best afield in the first half against Vic Metro before being clamped, standing up in the absence of Lochlan Paton to finish with 16 disposals, seven clearances, four inside 50s and two goals in a promising showing. Is still quite light-on but is not afraid to get stuck in, giving him that valuable balance in midfield.

Blake Morris (Subiaco)
187cm | 68kg | 11/09/2003
Medium-Tall Defender

The WA MVP was an absolute rock in defence for the Black Ducks, proving an intercept machine in the air and as desperate as anyone at ground level. While he often gives up significant size – as seen when matched up on Country’s 196cm/91kg Josh Rentsch – Morris makes up for it with superior reading of the play, a sizeable leap, and the ability to mop up at the fall of the ball. Will be interesting to see whether he continues to play in the key back role or is freed up on the flanks, with a good knack for rebounding also in his locker.

Northern Territory:

Jason Baird (Palmerston)
185cm | 70kg | 29/12/2003
Midfielder/Defender

Played a key role in the Thunder’s resurgence against NSW/ACT with his accumulation across the ground and ability to push forward. He did not quite have the same impact against Queensland as he was forced to double as a key defender at times given the Maroon’s strength in that area, but battled hard and has some handy versatility.

Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Southern Districts)
186cm | 63kg | 16/05/2002
Midfielder/Forward

Collected the NT MVP award for his standout carnival, spending time between midfield and the forward line. Lake played his role well in either position, finding both a good amount of ball and the big sticks – most notably in his game against Division 2 title-winner NSW/ACT where he had 26 disposals, seven marks, five tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and two goals. Is a tall and lean midfielder with good hands overhead, so should continue to rotate between roles.

Mark White (Wanderers)
175cm | 65kg | 29/01/2003
General Forward

The tricky forward is a big exponent of taking on the man on the mark, doing it on many an occasion across the carnival to cut distances and get a better look on goal. White is also aggressive around the ball, applying strong pressure albeit while pushing the boundaries. He conveyed a bit of showmanship as he shooshed the Queensland crowd in his final outing and certainly adds a bit of spark when involved in the play.

NSW/ACT:

Joshua Fahey (GWS Giants/Queanbeyan Tigers)
186cm | 77kg | 11/11/2003
General Defender/Midfielder

Fahey is another big character who backs it up with his skill on-field, possessing a cool head and booming left foot which he used to send NSW/ACT forward out of defensive 50 and from midfield. Fahey’s work rate to get on the end of balls and penetrate the attacking 50 was also valuable, and he showed as much with his 24 disposals, six inside 50s and 10 rebound 50s against Tasmania to round out a solid carnival.

Matthew McKenzie (Sydney Swans/St Ives)
182cm | 79kg | 10/10/2003
Midfielder/Forward

Has a deceptively quick first few steps which he used to good effect when running though the midfield, while also providing a strong body at the stoppages. McKenzie racked up a good amount of ball and stayed busy when rotating through the forward 50, showing he can find the goals too. Enjoyed two solid and well-rounded performances in Queensland as one of a few promising St Ives boys.

Sam Stening (GWS Giants/Wagga Swans)
190cm | 72kg | 17/02/2003
Medium-Tall Forward

Stening came to life in an incredible final quarter against NT, while also picking up from where he left off in his next game to fix up some issues in front of goal to slot three majors from 14 disposals and six marks. Is not quite key position height but plays like one, marking well above his head with sticky hands and looking strong at full stretch. Could be a dangerous proposition once he fills out and finds his spot up forward.

Kai Watts (GWS Giants/Inner West Magpies)
178cm | 80kg | 1/02/2003
Forward/Midfielder

The NSW/ACT MVP was a dangerous asset for the Rams, starting forward and moving into the midfield as each game wore on. Watts was not a massive disposal-getter, having between 13-16 in his final two games, but has important touches and makes them count with some good delivery by foot. He gets in good positions close to goal and finds them, as shown in his 16-disposal, two-goal effort against the NT.

Queensland:

Austin Harris (Gold Coast Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin Lions)
175cm | 65kg | 30/04/2003
Defender/Outside Midfielder

Harris’ run and carry was fantastic for Queensland, making him a key contributor on his way to claiming his state’s MVP award. Harris just always found a way to the ball, getting into good areas with a high work rate and pushing forward at every chance. He often finished his runs off with neat kicks and provided a touch of class when in possession.

Daniel Lanthois (Brisbane Lions/Maroochydore)
173cm | 64kg | 12/02/2003
Midfielder

The diminutive and tough ball-winner does just about everything in the engine room, zipping away from stoppages and tackling hard on the rare occasions he doesn’t get his hands on the ball. Lanthois makes up for his lack of size with heart and really digs in around the contest, with one of his better performances coming against Tasmania as he had 18 disposals, 11 tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s.

Noah McFadyen (Brisbane Lions/Wilston Grange)
186cm | 89kg | 18/03/2003
Medium-Tall Forward

Kicked 14 goals in his three games as the leading tall forward in Division 2, with his sheer strength and positioning deep inside attacking 50 granting him most of his goals. McFadyen took full advantage of the much smaller match-ups he faced against NT to boot 8.2 in one of the performances of the carnival, and could well be the next McFadyen for Brisbane fans to keep an eye on after Connor was drafted in 2018. Will be interesting to keep tabs on his growth and whether he hits true key position size, with his set shot routine looking pretty efficient at this stage.

Tasmania:

Samuel Banks (Southern Academy/Clarence)
184cm | 70kg | 2/04/2003
Midfielder/Half-Back

The Alan McLean medallist (Division 2 MVP) has already impressed enough in Tasmanian circles to feature in the state’s Under 18 NAB League side, and showed his class throughout the carnival. Able to play through midfield or more offensively off half-back, Banks has a penetrating kick which he uses to hit targets others wouldn’t dare try to through the corridor. Is also an apt interceptor in the back half, and was terrific in that role against NSW/ACT as he collected 25 disposals, 10 marks, and five rebound 50s.

Baynen Lowe (North-West Academy/Devonport)
176cm | 65kg | 29/07/2003
Midfielder

Another of the raft of diminutive ball-winners, Lowe is a tireless worker who is mostly sighted quickly booting the ball forward from stoppages. The Devonport product wins most of his disposals himself, showing great speed through traffic while also finding his fair share around the ground. Was fantastic for Tasmania alongside Banks as Tasmania’s highest disposal getters.

George McLeod (Southern Academy/North Hobart)
175cm | 61kg | 11/01/2003
Midfielder/Forward

McLeod mixes his time between the midfield and forward half and works hard, pitching in with little bursts of run and important balls into the forward half. Was just behind Banks and Lowe in terms of output but made his own impact across each game, with one of his standout outings coming against NSW/ACT (23 disposals, 11 marks, seven inside 50s, 2.1)

Under 16 National Championships: Division 1 wrap

VIC Metro claimed its first Under-16 National Championships Division 1 title in 10 years, going through the three rounds undefeated as the clear best side. Each other team broke through for a win each in what was an even carnival played in a variety of conditions. We recap how each side fared and shed light on some of the better performers throughout the competition.

South Australia (1-2)

Results:
Rd 1 – South Australia 13.10 (88) def. Western Australia 9.5 (59)
Rd 2 – Vic Metro 5.15 (45) def. South Australia 3.6 (24)
Rd 3 – South Australia 10.3 (63) def. by Vic Country 11.13 (79)

MVP: Jason Thorne (South Adelaide)
Most Goals: Isaiah Dudley (Central District) & Morgan Ferres (Sturt), 5

The defending champions would have come in with high hopes of replicating last year’s run, with that feeling compounded by an impressive 29-point win over Western Australia to open their carnival. One of three members of the 2018 title-winning squad, Isaiah Dudley was the star of that game, picking up 27 disposals and booting four goals, with key forward Morgan Ferres matching the goal feat and skipper Jason Horne a presence through midfield. In similarly wet conditions up in Queensland for Round 2, the Croweaters simply fell short in firepower against eventual champions Vic Metro, going down by 21 points. Matthew Roberts was the star in that game with his 31 disposals, seven inside 50s and one goal, with Thorne putting in a brave captain’s effort despite being in the wars late-on and midfielder Cooper Murley another to impress. The tri-colours would go on to lose again to a Victorian side in Round 3, this time by 16 points in a plucky effort at the Gabba. Thorne rounded out a magnificent championships with 18 disposals, four clearances and two goals, while Harry Tunkin enjoyed some added midfield minutes to match his skipper’s disposal haul to go with eight tackles and four clearances. Lachlan Thomas and Lewis Rayson were others to round out their carnivals on a high note with run and intercepts from defence. One to watch for next year could be Tyson Coe, who ran through the midfield as an under-ager – much like Dudley, Thorne, and Roberts did last year. Overall, it was not quite the championships that the team would have wanted, but they should plenty of promise and will again provide some exciting top-end talent over the next few years.

Vic Country (1-2)

Results:
Rd 1 – Vic Metro 10.7 (67) def. Vic Country 7.7 (49)
Rd 2 – Vic Country 5.12 (42) def. by Western Australia 6.8 (44)
Rd 3 – South Australia 10.3 (63) def. by Vic Country 11.13 (79)

MVP: Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
Kevin Sheehan Medal: Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
Most Goals: Judson Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays) & Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels), 3

As we have come to expect, it was a very competitive carnival from the Country side which found itself in winning positions in each of the three games. They fell away in a three-goal loss to their Metro counterparts in Round 1 after leading by no more than two points at each break, with co-captain Campbell Chesser terrific on the outside to compliment the game of inside bull, Ben Hobbs. Judson Clarke also booted three goals in the loss, but it was not enough to see Country over the line. If the final-quarter fade out against Metro hurt, then a two-point loss at the death against WA could have really been a dagger. Despite again leading at the final break and having a wealth of possession in the fourth quarter, a WA goal in the final 30 seconds ensured they snatched the win in muddy conditions at Southport. Co-captain and eventual MVP Joshua Rachele was almost the one to drag his side over the line with his 32 disposals, six marks and 0.3, while Hobbs was just about the muddiest player afield at the final siren after digging in for 29 disposals, 10 tackles and four rebounds. Benjamin Green was another to enjoy the conditions, and Lincoln White very nearly broke the game open with his two third quarter goals. The narrow loss proved not to break the Vics’ spirits though as they bounced back for an impressive 16-point win against SA in Round 3. Rachele again showed his class and provided the highlight of the carnival in his 26-disposal effort, with Hobbs again doing his thing and Tom Brown influential with three goals from half-forward. Charlie Molan, Hugh Hamilton, and Mitchell Moschetti also rounded out strong carnivals, with Country a side that will count itself unlucky not to have come out with greater results. There are a lot of reliable performers in the squad, and they could rise sharply come their Under 18 year given their competitiveness.

Vic Metro (3-0)

Results:
Rd 1 – Vic Metro 10.7 (67) def. Vic Country 7.7 (49)
Rd 2 – Vic Metro 5.15 (45) def. South Australia 3.6 (24)
Rd 3 – Western Australia 8.7 (55) def. by Vic Metro 18.14 (122)

MVP: Tyler Sonsie
Most Goals: Alex Lukic (Oakleigh Chargers), 9 – most overall

The champions and clear-best side over the carnival enjoyed an undefeated campaign, but were made to earn a couple of their wins. Metro’s first Under 16 title win in 10 years started with a three-goal win over Victorian counterparts, Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium. After trailing at each break and by just one point at the last, Metro ran away with four goals to one in the fourth quarter for a strong win. Key forward Alex Lukic positioned well inside 50 to boot his first bag for the carnival (four goals), while skipper Josh Sinn and Braden Andrews proved a match-winners with their position swaps to finish the game, and Tyler Sonsie was another to provide cleanliness through the engine room. The class of Metro was always going to be tested in their next game against SA, especially given the horrendous conditions. Their top-end talent still managed to shine through in the end, enjoying a solid middle period of the game to run out 21-point winners. Lachlan Brooks was best afield with 23 disposals, six clearances and two goals from midfield, crucially combining with Sandringham teammate Blake Howes to boot four of Metro’s five goals. Tyreece Leiu led the disposal count with 24, while Josh Ward‘s clean hands were eye-catching in the wet. The title decider in Round 3 was a tight one up until the final break, with Metro cruising to victory on the back of 12 second-half goals – including seven to nil in the final term. Lukic again kicked a bag with five goals, while Sonsie ripped it up through the midfield and up forward to have 19 disposals, four clearances and 4.3. Youseph Dib again provided a physical presence to have 20 touches, four clearances and a goal, with Zac Taylor electric forward of centre and Josh Goater again popping up with some nice aerial efforts. The talent across the board extends on each line to the likes of Lachlan Rankin, Jake Soligo, Jed Rule, and Jack Rossimel, with the evenness of the team and top-end talent set to rival Metro’s Under 18 squad of 2019 in years to come.

Western Australia (1-2)

Results:
Rd 1 – South Australia 13.10 (88) def. Western Australia 9.5 (59)
Rd 2 – Vic Country 5.12 (42) def. by Western Australia 6.8 (44)
Rd 3 – Western Australia 8.7 (55) def. by Vic Metro 18.14 (122)

MVP: Blake Morris (Subiaco)
Most Goals: Saverio Marafioti (West Perth) & Ethan Regan (East Perth), 3

Results aside, WA was one of the more evenly spread squads over this year’s carnival, with plenty of contributors standing up at different times over the three games. It all seemed to come together in Round 2 as the Black Ducks pulled off a miraculous win over Vic Country with a Luke Polson goal in the dying seconds, getting the better of the Big V by two points on a Southport mud pit. Judd McVee was a standout from midfield, leading the disposal count with 23 to go with seven tackles and a combined seven breaches of each arc, while Mitchell Brown thrived in the conditions for his 17 disposals and six clearances alongside Kade Dittmar (22 touches, nine tackles, and four clearances). Multiple goals from Ethan Regan and Saverio Marafioti boosted their tallies and proved vital in the win, while match-winner Polson had an important 16 disposals and 14 hitouts. Earlier in Round 1, WA had less fruitful outing against SA on home turf in similarly wet conditions, going down by 29 points despite managing their carnival-high total (59). MVP Blake Morris was sensational in that outing with his intercept marking, while Max Chipper was composed on the outside and Zach Fleiner was positive on the rebound. Matthew Johnson and Luke Taylor booted the multiple goals this time out, with Richard Bartlett another effective mover in the forward half. A late-game fade-out put a dampener on what was a really competitive effort against eventual champions, Vic Metro in Round 3 – conceding seven unanswered goals in the final term to go down by 67 points. Earlier, it was again McVee who stood up with his burst from congestion and some busy work going forward, finishing with 16 disposals, seven clearances and two goals. Chipper and Bartlett again impressed to have 23 disposals each, with Jake Littleton and Rhett Bazzo also serviceable. It was a slightly down end to an otherwise solid carnival for WA, and they should again have some eye-catchers capture out attention. One who also warrants a mention is Lochlan Paton, who was sensational through midfield before injuring his hand in Round 2, keep an eye out for his progress.

Scouting notes: U16 Division 1 – Round 3

VIC Metro claimed the Under 16 Division 1 title on the final day of competition having gone through undefeated, with Vic Country’s win over South Australia making it a Victorian double for the day. With the Most Valuable Players (MVP) named for each side and plenty of prospects stepping up, here are our Round 3 scouting notes.

Western Australia vs. Vic Metro
By: Peter Williams

Western Australia:

#4 Richard Farmer

Looked dangerous inside 50 for the West Australian side and used the ball well by foot when in possession. He was able to capitalise on the easiest of goals in the goal square thanks to a handball over the top from Saverio Marafioti. Throughout the match Farmer hunted the ball and the ball carrier with vigour.

#6 Lawson Humphries

Had a great third term where he became a crucial playmaker with quick hands and using clean touches going forward. He set up a number of attacking plays and was able to hit a target in the pocket on his non-preferred under pressure.

#7 Judd McVee

The star of the first half and continued on with a solid third term before being clamped more in the last term, McVee was a clear standout for the West Australian side on the day. He kicked a great goal from an intuitive snap around his body in the first term and has that burst out of stoppages that is eye-catching. He has quick hands and also showed great defensive traits by stopping an attacking play inside 50 with a big tackle. McVee is clean by hand or foot and composed in the midfield, able to dance around his opponents.

#9 Max Chipper

Won a heap of the ball on the day and showed nice vision with ball in hand. Set up their first goal with a nice kick into Rhett Bazo who slotted the goal after a 50m penalty. Had a turnover in the final term, which luckily did not cost his side. As a whole though he worked hard and kept buying in, battling along and won possessions in each third of the ground.

#10 Mitchell Brown

Behind McVee was the other standout in the first half, showing nice work at the stoppages and a long kick that created plays up the field. He was quieter in the second half, but his presence around the clearances early in the match was what kept Western Australia in the game. Brown’s best play came when he sold some candy under pressure dancing one way and then another and managed to get ball to his left foot and find a target down the wing.

#12 Jake Littleton

Worked hard in the forward half to win plenty of quick touches and get it inside 50. Early on he had a scrubber kick but it worked out to gift Saverio Marafioti with a goal. He finished off for himself with a nice kick which bounced through early in the third term, and had a second shot not long after deep in the pocket but it hit the post.

#15 Antonio Dadaliaris

Picked up from where he left off in the last quarter against Country. Had a couple of eye-catching moments, with a brilliant piece of acceleration in the second term where he was able to burst away from opponents in the back pocket, run across the goal face and hit a target on the other side. He also showed quick hands close to the line on a number of occasions, with his athletic traits the most noticeable.

#18 Saverio Marafioti

Was prominent early and fought through to the third term with important moments inside 50. He first showed great vision at half-forward to hit up a target wide across the other side of the ground off a couple of steps, then capitalised with a goal off a quick few steps inside 50. His hard running earned his teammate Richard Farmer a goal in the third term to reduce the deficit to a point and give his side hope of a victory.

#22 Richard Bartlett

Worked well at stoppages and was one of Western Australia’s best across four quarters. He uses his shoulders and hips well to evade tackles and get out of trouble in tight spaces. He looks dangerous whenever he is near the ball and he had a textbook forward stoppage goal, finding a clear path and reading the tap perfectly 30 metres out to snap around his body and add a much needed West Australian goal in the third term.

#30 Rhett Bazzo

Was one of the few West Australian players who stood up in the last term and found himself up forward with a goal in the opening term, then spent the rest of the time in defence. He took some crucial intercept marks and moved well through traffic for a taller player. He was neat with his skills and remained consistent throughout the match.

#42 Blake Morris

The West Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) stood tall in defence with some nice highlights. He flew high a number of times and once it cost him with his opponent staying down, winning the footy and handballing it off for an easy Vic Metro goal. He did save a goal earlier in the game to cancel out that moment though, getting a hand to it in the goal square to put it over the line. Not as prominent as past games but still a rock in defence and a highly talented medium-tall.

Vic Metro:

#1 Youseph Dib

Whilst he was a bit rushed with his disposal at times, he also had some really classy touches throughout the midfield to win the most disposals of anyone on his side. His ability to get boot to ball, or by hand to his teammates is as quick as anyone going around and he was able to set up a number of goals or scoring plays by kicking inside 50. He always has a crack and tends to kick the ball across his body which usually means he has time and can be more damaging that way.

#2 Zac Taylor

A slippery customer who I described in my notes as “untackleable” because of his ability to slip out of opponents’ grasps. He shrugs the shoulders and swings the hips to evade being brought down, and also has high footy IQ, quick hands and plenty of class with the ball-in-hand. He is clean by hand or foot and sets up attacking players, kicking a goal in the final term to be rewarded for his hard work setting up a goal to Alex Lukic early in the game.

#3 Henry Brown

Showed some nice movement on the outside early to turn away from an opponent and kick inside 50, but also showed a fierce attack on the football to win a crucial one-on-one moments later. He is able to dispose of the ball when under pressure and can stand up in a tackle, also breaking the lines midway through the third term with a nice run down the middle, though his kick inside 50 was intercepted. He then returned the favour the next term, intercepting a kick-out 40m out straight in front and then sent it back over the goal umpire’s hat.

#5 Jake Soligo

Was a prominent player on the wing for Vic Metro, not too dissimilar to Trent Bianco‘s role for the Under 18s side and wearing the same number – it was uncanny. He moves the ball quickly down the wing and has nice touch by hand or foot. He kicked a goal after intercepting a kick-in 45 metres out straight in front and was a big ball winner on the outside.

#8 Lachlan Brooks

Reminded me a bit of Richmond draftee Jack Ross in the way he goes about it. Brooks is strong one-on-one, is hard to bring down with great core strength, and has that power-speed combination that makes him look damaging. He is balanced with ball-in-hand and uses it pretty well. He had a snap in the final term on goal but missed, though he set up a goal for Blake Howes with a nice kick to him in the forward hole in the last term.

#11 Tyler Sonsie

Absolute star. Sonsie looked classy throughout the four quarters and was deserving of the Vic Metro MVP award for his 2019 carnival. He finished the game with four majors, including two when the heat of the game was on and two in the final term stampede. He often pounced on the opportunity for goal with snaps around his body, with three of his four majors coming this way and his fourth after hard running resulted in him booting the ball off the ground in the goal square. He almost had a fifth goal and three in two minutes but his snap pulled to the right. Takes the game on and breaks the lines, and while he made the odd error in doing so, generally was great in his decision making and execution.

#16 Jack Newitt

Showed a piercing, penetrating kick off half-back and down the wing, moving well across the ground to get forward and give off a quick handball during an attacking play. He used the ball well by foot out of defence and showed good composure when needing to get the ball out of the danger zone.

#18 Braden Andrews

Has a set of quick hands in close and was able to extract the ball and get it out to runners, but then had an ability to get to the outside himself. Showed a clean set of heels to an opponent to burn him off and kick, albeit scrappily, to a teammate. Had a snap on goal but was touched on the line.

#19 Blake Howes

Was a strong player inside 50, playing a nice role in tandem with Alex Lukic and Jack Rossimel. Took a number of contested marks and on the lead under pressure, kicking a couple of goals either end of the contest, and missing another which he probably should have kicked. Overall provided good presence inside 50.

#22 Jack Rossimel

Slotted an important goal inside 50 from a tight angle which was impressive, and then flew high on the wing in the second term but could not quite bring it down. Rossimel had a chance for goal in the last quarter with a quick boot to ball but missed to the right, as he did with intercepting a kick 30m out straight in front. Still was important inside 50, and finishing off those couple of misses could have had a big game.

#28 Alex Lukic

Was the dominant forward on the day slotting five majors, and could have had seven with a couple of gettable shots in the last term. He was causing all sorts of headaches for the opposition with his height and size, reaching over the top of his opponents and pinching the ball. He won a couple of free kicks for being infringed, and also set up a goal for Tyler Sonsie in the final term whilst being tackled. Overall an impressive game from the big man.

South Australia vs. Vic Country
By: Michael Alvaro

South Australia:

#5 Isaiah Dudley (Central District)

The excitement machine was down on his usual disposal output (seven), but still managed to find a way to influence the game in his own way. Starting forward and spending most of his time there, Dudley played his usual game of pushing high up the field to impact stoppages between the arcs, but was first thrown into the midfield in the second term. His pressure around the ball was immense, laying a game-high 12 tackles and going hard at each one of them, while also continuing his knack of keeping the ball in dispute. Dudley hit the scoreboard in the final term after some more midfield time, winning a free kick at an inside 50 stoppage and converting the shot well. His agility and composure in his few touches shone through too, and it was a good overall carnival from the Centrals pocket rocket.

#6 Lachlan Thomas (Sturt)

The small defender continued to do what he does best, providing driving rebound from defensive 50 (eight rebounds) and going for pure distance with most of his use by foot. While meterage is usually his game, Thomas also managed to hit a nice target in the second term after intercepting at half-back, pin-pointing the kick towards his defensive corridor. Thomas also won a bit of ball up on the wing as he paced around the defensive half, but won most of his 16 disposals down back and was pretty safe in possession.

#7 Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)

One who stood up well in defence, Rayson caught the eye early on with a couple of solid overhead marks to intercept in the back half. He also made sure to impact aerial contests when marking was not an option, while also following up the spills to move the ball on quickly or lock it in. Rayson’s holding the ball tackle in the third term showed his smarts as his opponent went to take off after marking, and he enjoyed a consistent game across the board with 16 disposals, five marks, five tackles, and five rebound 50s.

#8 Cooper Murley (Norwood)

An important figure in the midfield-forward rotation for SA, Murley made a good start while resting in attack when he found space inside 50, marked, and slotted the set shot from about 40 metres out for his side’s opening goal. He would go on to continue his good form forward of the ball early in the second term as he snapped another goal, almost adding another in the same period of play. He was momentarily moved out onto the wing in the third quarter and dropped an uncontested mark with his first sight of the ball, but recovered really well to clear any danger. Murley would go on to show his well-roundedness, tackling well and providing good bursts from congestion with clearances on the move to push SA inside 50. Ended with 14 disposals, four marks, three clearances, and two goals.

#11 Harry Tunkin (Glenelg)

Tunkin was superb throughout and really seemed to enjoy his minutes in the midfield, getting stuck in to win a good amount of contested ball. He won a hat-trick of centre bounce clearances in the second term with fantastic tenacity, and showed a bit of finesse with a move through traffic to find Cooper Murley forward of the ball and provide a chance at goal. Tunkin continued his form in the third term around the stoppages and did the one-percenters around the ground, applying a particularly good smother on Tyler Sonsie inside defensive 50 to prove as much. His ability to hunt at ground level and win the ball under pressure accounted for many of his 18 disposals, with Tunkin also laying eight tackles in a big shift and spending a bit of time up forward late on.

#17 Matthew Dnistrianksy (Norwood)

Another of the SA defenders who had a solid day out, Dnistriansky was unfazed by a lot of the pressure that came his way. He accumulated across defensive 50 in his usual fashion, providing neat disposals and a solid defensive post on his direct opponent when required. He gave up about 10cm in height when matched up against Josh Rentsch deep inside defensive 50, but took it in his stride and competed well. The Redlegs prospect also fared well with a move up forward in the final term, finding space to mark and converting the shot well. He looked a little frustrated when giving away a free kick to Joshua Rachele late on as he threw the Country co-captain to the ground, but had a solid day with 12 disposals, a couple of rebound 50s and a goal.

#18 Tyson Coe (West Adelaide)

Played a pretty impressive role given he has not even turned 15 yet, unbothered by Country’s physicality in the engine room during his time through the midfield. He popped up early with a nice holding the ball tackle at a defensive 50 stoppage and later scooped up a slick ground ball at speed before bombing inside 50 to find Luke Young, who slotted SA’s third goal. Has some nice traits and should be a key figure next year given he has already been trusted in lining up at the centre bounces.

#19 Jason Thorne (South Adelaide)

The skipper and South Australian MVP was terrific throughout, earning an equal team-high 18 disposals to go with six tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds, and two goals in a dominant display of stoppage work. A good mix of grit and class, Thorne set the tone early with a smother on the defensive arc before contributing another show of strength with a strong mark overhead on the wing. His class shone through in the same term with a clean pick up and kick in one motion to hit an up-field target, with Thorne’s ability to lower his eyes proving damaging. He continued to use the ball well by foot around the ground, and his burst away from congestion sparked many attacks for SA. Thorne’s ability to sum up the situation quickly also translated with his work inside 50, snapping a nice goal in the second quarter and booting another in the following term after pushing hard to find space inside 50 and get the ball back from a teammate he had originally passed to. It was no surprise to see him named MVP in his second Under 16 carnival, as Thorne possesses a well-rounded midfield game.

#20 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide)

Did not have his usual high-numbers on the back of some added forward time, but still made an impact to finish with 15 disposals, four clearances, and two goals. Was gifted his first goal in the opening stanza after being awarded a 50-metre penalty and added another in the third term with a clinical set shot on the wrong side for a left footer from about 40 metres out. Roberts thought he had another goal in the second quarter after streaming away from a forward 50 stoppage, only to turn around and see the goal umpire signalling a poster as he wheeled around to celebrate. Was still dangerous in his forward stints and attracted the ball, ending a fantastic carnival as arguably SA’s second most valuable player behind South Adelaide teammate, Jason Thorne.

Vic Country:

#2 Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons)

The Melbourne Grammarian from Wodonga-way was a touch quieter than usual with just the nine disposals, but made them count and caught the eye with a couple of exciting plays. His prowess on the outside suited both the conditions and a move to half-back, but it took Chesser a bit of time to build into the game. He showed good composure with ball in hand in his early touches, and started to get going after half time. He looked pretty sore after a brave marking attempt early in the third term, but came back in the following quarter with a couple of bouncing runs from the back half and away from stoppages. Chesser got on his bike well when in space at half-back, looking to attack onto his left boot and move forward quickly. Not his usual self, but certainly showed glimpses.

#3 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)

There is little doubt over Hobbs’ ball winning capabilities, and he proved as much with another 25 disposals and six clearances in this outing. He is just so aggressive around the ball, willing his way through the contest and latching onto possession at stoppages before quickly getting boot to ball to slam it forward. With his contested game down pat, it was good to see Hobbs win more ball around the ground and use it efficiently by foot, kicking neatly over short distances and proving all-class forward of centre. Hobbs kicked two memorable goals, the first created by an unbelievably timed Joshua Rachele tap-on and snapped home at full speed, and the second slotted home from long range as he got a hand-off through the corridor. Would be a good chance to get a shot with the Rebels as early as this year, and was only second to Rachele for Country during the carnival.

#5 Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power)

Moschetti is one who just seemed to pop up every now and then, quietly accumulating possessions through midfield and in the back half. His first good bit of play came through a clearance on the move in the first term, shifting to defence in the second quarter and taking a relieving mark. He looked calm with his rebounding run, but bordered on casual a couple of times as he mopped up working back and slipped handballs out to teammates with opponents closing in. He was relatively steady for the remainder of the game, reading a tap well in the third term to send Country inside 50 and finishing with 13 disposals, five tackles, and four rebound 50s.

#6 Kai Lohmann (GWV Rebels)

Lohmann came to life in a brilliant final term, getting to just about everything across the back half and hardly putting a food wrong. Earlier, he showed off his crafty outside movement and evasiveness up on the wing shrugging off his opponents and providing driving runs forward. But a move to defensive 50 saw Lohmann contribute his best moments, first taking a brave mark inside defensive 50 and winning key balls at ground level with terrific composure. His influence on the last line was great with a few handy intercept possessions and calm touches to see the ball into touch with opponents circling around goal. Looks a clever prospect with nice athletic traits.

#9 Hugh Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers)

Rotated between midfield and at both ends, showing good strength in one-on-one situations and also proving dangerous at forward 50 stoppages. Hamilton found the goals early in the second term after latching onto a loose ball and booting home from close range, while also missing a snap in the following quarter from a stoppage close to home. The Bendigo product’s body positioning against direct opponents allowed him to win the ball both in the air and at ground level, and he stood up well in tackles to dish off. Hamilton made a questionable kicking decision when looking to switch across the defensive 50 after a good mark, but was otherwise really solid with 15 disposals, five clearances and a goal.

#11 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)

The Dandenong forward is a constant threat in the forward half with his line-breaking speed and ability to find the goals, putting in another decent showing with 11 disposals and two goals. Tends to show up in patches and with glimpses of promise, which would just about describe his two majors. Macdonald popped up in the second term to convert a relatively straightforward goal in close proximity to the big sticks, and showed off his pace with a terrific goal on the run in full flight to start the final quarter. Is flashy and has class, causing headaches for opposition defenders.

#13 Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)

The 2019 Kevin Sheehan medallist and Country MVP was again sublime, leading all-comers with 26 disposals, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal. Despite starting in the midfield, Rachele’s looked most lively early inside attacking 50, missing a couple of early snaps on goal with his finishing still the only part of his game somewhat letting him down (1.3). He would soon well and truly make up for those two early behinds though, instinctively tapping over his shoulder to create Ben Hobbs’ first goal in a bit of play that was nothing short of special, showing uncanny presence of mind. Rachele went on to provide spark at the stoppages, winning his share of clearances and keeping his hands up well in congestion. The Country co-captain also showed off his wheels moving forward, continuing to create with a couple of one-two plays moving forward on the outside. He managed to hit the scoreboard in the third term with some good harassment inside 50 to see the ball spill free, latching onto the chance well to convert from close range. He capped off his game with some more crafty stoppage work and a nice kick inside 50 to assist a Tom Brown goal, falling to the ground after the final siren having given his all.

#17 Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)

Another from what looks to be a strong Rebels crop, Molan accumulated well across the game to finish with 20 disposals, four clearances, three inside 50s, and a goal. His hands out of congestion in a pretty handball-happy outing (13) were a feature, especially as he racked up possessions at stoppages in all areas while running through the midfield. He had a little purple patch with his clearance work in the third term to win a couple from the centre bounces and push Country inside 50, continuing that form in the following quarter. Molan provided a strong body around the contest and is already a good size at 187cm, with the versatility to also have an impact up forward.

#18 Tom Brown (Murray Bushrangers)

Brown was super in the forward half, providing a key link from half forward into Country’s attacking arc with five inside 50s. So often Brown was the player found when his side cleared from the centre bounces, leading up superbly to half-forward and proving to be clean up the ground. It was his work inside the arc that truly made a difference though, finishing with a game-high three goals from his 16 disposals. Brown got going with an early snapped goal before narrowly missing another attempt, going on to get busy with a conversion from a holding the ball free kick, and claiming his third from deep in the 50 in the final term. The Murray forward was very efficient with his production and looks an exciting medium forward prospect.

#27 Josh Rentsch (GWV Rebels)

While it was not exactly a day out for Rentsch in front of goal, he did well to provide a presence inside 50 and follow up well around the ground when rucking. He was again unlucky not to benefit more from his strong lead-up play, copping pretty good heat from his opponents closing behind him and missing his only set shot for the game in the second term. Rentsch did his best to contribute at ground level, following up drops of the ball to dish off handballs to his runners and ending with 13 disposals, four clearances, and 10 hitouts in a solid game.

Scouting notes: U16 Division 1 – Round 2

VIC Metro and Western Australia both enjoyed impressive wins in a day of hard-fought Under 16 Division 1 contests in extremely trying conditions at Southport. Michael Alvaro was on hand to provide his opinion-based notes on the outstanding players from all four sides.


Vic Metro vs. South Australia

Vic Metro:

#1 Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)

The Oakleigh product started well, showing off his athleticism and explosiveness in traffic. Despite only being 171cm tall, Dib proved to be one of the stronger players around the contest, converting his ball-prizing will to hard tackles when not in possession. Dib accumulated well in the first half, moving with good agility at stoppages, moving this way and that to make room for clearances (four) and inside 50 balls (three). He almost found the goals with a couple of quick shots early, and had less of an impact after the main break.

#3 Henry Brown (Oakleigh Chargers)

Brown showed a good mix of ball winning in what is usually a mostly outside role on the wing. Like his Chargers teammate Youseph Dib, Brown played the conditions well to thrust the ball forward (four clearances and three inside 50s), with one kick finding Blake Howes inside 50 for his first goal. Brown did the tough stuff well in gathering his 18 disposals and was a solid contributor.

#6 Josh Ward (Northern Knights)

The Northern forward had an outstanding first quarter and was in everything within Metro’s attacking half. He first caught the eye with a spin out of trouble in the opening minutes and was simply cleaner than most others on the field in trying conditions. Ward found most of his 22 disposals early on and looked most dangerous when on the move, almost snapping a first quarter goal with a neat bit of play. He went on to move further afield and find the ball wherever he went, using the ball efficiently by foot with short, sharp kicks.

#8 Lachlan Brooks (Sandringham Dragons)

Arguably best afield, Brooks was another to impress with his clean hands and movement forward. He started with a strong pack mark from a kick-in and by winning possession around the stoppages, but really came to life after the main break with Metro’s only goals for the the second half. Starting in the centre bounce, Brooks won the first clearance of the third term and never looked back, winning six for the game and proving damaging with 20 of his 23 disposals coming by foot. He showed a great first five steps to break away and boot his first goal on the run, adding another in the final term by coming across to intercept a kick-in yet again and slot the resultant shot. Has some good burst and proved a shrewd addition to the Metro midfield.

#10 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers)

You would think that the conditions would not really suit Rankin’s game, but the half-back flanker still managed to show a bit of class. Taking on the designated kicking duties in the back half, Rankin often opted to go long, but also did some nice things in close – with a pretty clever look-away handball over his shoulder in the first term. He’s only slight, but Rankin also did well to win a couple of on-on-one duels and was effective in the air, while proving agile on the ground to get free and release by foot.

#11 Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges)

While Sonsie did not always get his typically damaging running game from stoppages going, he still found a good amount of ball and was efficient with it. He missed a set shot chance early, a checkside in the second term, and had another shot marked on the line, but wasn’t deterred as he went on to chain together some nice handballs in close and get Metro moving out of tight spaces. Sonsie is a real prime mover, so hopefully he can show off his skills in drier conditions later in the carnival, with clean pick-ups and reads off the packs a feature of his game.

#13 Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)

Benton made himself busy and came into the game with a good patch late in the second term, applying pressure and eventually earning a free kick to slot his lone goal for the game, while also missing another chance on the run shortly after. A dangerous feature in the forward half, Benton also finished the final quarter well with a brave mark on the 50-metre arc and with a clever steal to give Lachlan Brooks a chance on goal. Finished with 16 disposals, four marks, and three inside 50s to go with 1.2.

#14 Angus McLennan (Sandringham Dragons)

A handy point of difference in the Metro back six, McLennan was influential early alongside Lachlan Rankin in moving the ball efficiently from defence. He tends to find a lot of possession inside defensive 50 and shows great composure there, while also showing his aerial prowess with a couple of intercept marks in the second term. McLennan was fantastic in the final term, taking two solid grabs on the last line, outbodying an opponent in the defensive corridor, and getting on his bike to repel SA’s attacks to good effect.

#15 Joshua Goater (Calder Cannons)

This was far and away the best game I have seen from Goater, proving an absolute wall with his superior positioning in the back half. The Cannons product consistently popped up with overhead marks to cut of SA’s long bombs forward as he dominated the area a kick behind the play. He was an attacking rebounder too, moving past opponents and kicking long to keep Metro relevant on the attack for as long as possible. Finished with another big grab in the final term and should thrive in drier conditions and a role he looks comfortable in.

#17 Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)

The skipper battled hard through midfield to pick up a more unassuming 19 disposals than usual, unable to always provide his signature penetration on the outside. Sinn just finds the ball with ease and loves latching onto his left boot, bombing five clearances from congestion and breaching both arcs. He warmed to the contest to have a greater influence as it went on, adapting his game to convert his smart to tighter situations with a couple of clever handballs into space. A solid contributor, but can bring it to the next level.

#19 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons)

Howes was by no means one who was dominant throughout the game, but he popped up at the most important time with two goals in the second term to break the game open and put Metro ahead. Howes had an early chance to goal with a soccer from the goalsquare, but came alive with a purple patch that saw him convert a free kick and finish with absolute class on the run shortly after. Looks a pretty raw impact player at this stage, but always seems to find the goals.

#21 Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges)

The strong Ranges midfielder did a lot of the grunt work through the engine room, leading his side for disposals with 24. While he does not always have the flashes of class that the likes of Sonsie and Sinn provide, Leiu thrived in the contested game and was prominent at the coalface. That makes him a good point of difference for Metro, and he should be able to match it with others in the NAB League given his already solid frame.

#23 Jed Rule (Oakleigh Chargers)

Rule is simply one of the better readers of the game in defence and used his nous to snuff out some dangerous SA attacks. He began with a sliding effort to intercept in the first term, backing it up with a more typical aerial clunk in the third and another terrific pack mark in the fourth. He also uses the ball really well for a taller player, making him the kind of modern defender that clubs love. Hardly made a mistake with his 17 disposals and five marks, and was as reliable as anyone.


South Australia:

#5 Isaiah Dudley (Central District)

Constantly looks like the busiest player on the field and was made to work up the field to have an impact. Dudley started with a few small glimpses of his usual self with a holding the ball tackle, high fly for a mark, and some clever touches to keep the ball in dispute. His agility in traffic again caused headaches for his opponents and allowed him to free himself for clean use, proving damaging in general play with repeat efforts in congestion. While he did not find the goals himself, Dudley did his best to create for others and made a sensational pass on the turn to find Jason Horne inside 50 as South Australia looked to charge, while also assisting a Morgan Ferres goal late on with a clever checkside under pressure.

#6 Lachlan Thomas (Sturt)

The conditions did not always allow for Thomas’ usual run and carry out of the defensive 50, but he still managed to breach the arc with almost half (six) of his 14 disposals. He always looked to gain distance when entrusted with the kick-ins, using the new play on rule to good effect and unleashing long kicks. His choice of kicks and opting for distance didn’t always pay off, particularly with a torpedo attempt in the second term, but you can’t fault his effort. Thomas is quick to release and makes his opponents do the same, applying good pressure around the ball in the back half.

#8 Cooper Murley (Norwood)

Murley was a great forward driver for SA through midfield, adding a bit of zip to a tough inside mix. He has the pace to hunt the ball and puts in a heap of efforts until he does just that, breaking with speed and delivering forward well. Murley is still pretty light-on, but showed good tenacity to hold on with his tackles, and took a brave mark in the third term. Was caught out on one occasion when looking to play on quickly, but was otherwise effective in doing so.

#11 Harry Tunkin (Glenelg)

Tunkin is one who makes up for a lack of height with heart, and showed that off the bat with a courageous effort under a high ball to earn a free kick in the opening term. He seems to thrive in contested situations and has a no-nonsense approach, hitting the contest when required and putting his body on the line. Mixed his hard edge with an ability to find the footy, racking up 19 disposals in a solid outing.

#17 Matthew Dnistriansky (Norwood)

A constant in the back half, Dnistriansky did well to remain a composed figure inside defensive 50 across the day. He has the happy knack of clearing his lines by foot, as shown with 14 of his 16 disposals being kicks, and repelled some good looking Metro attacks with apt rebounding.

#18 Tyson Coe (West Adelaide)

One who is actually an under-ager in this year’s competition – much like Roberts, Dudley, and Horne were in 2018 – as a 2004-birth. He still held his own around the stoppages with his decent frame for his age and did not fray from the contest, collecting 14 disposals and laying seven tackles. Should really benefit from the experience and will be one to watch for next year’s carnival if the form of the aforementioned three is anything to go by.

#19 Jason Thorne (South Adelaide)

The skipper put in a brave and workmanlike shift, initially in his usual midfield post and later up either end. He started with good intent, laying a big tackle at one of the earliest stoppages, following up with strong clearance work and ball winning in-close. Thorne showed he has the finesse to match his grunt work, lowering his eyes beautifully to find a teammate going inside 50 in the second term. He went on to spend some time down back after the main break, throwing his weight around down there and rebounding with clearing kicks. He copped a heavy knock in the same term and spend some time on the pine, before getting straight back into the thick of it. He then moved forward and was sensational in SA’s final push, winning a free kick deep to slot his only goal for the game and getting into position twice more to mark inside the arc. Unfortunately could not help his side over the line, but was a top effort.

#20 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide)

Roberts was arguably the best afield with his 31 disposals, five marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and one goal. He just seemed to be everywhere and won the ball in all areas of the ground – dominating at stoppages and finding space well forward of centre to make his threat two-pronged. He booted his side’s first goal of the game after clunking a nice mark deep inside 50 and remained relevant when resting forward, continually popping up with marks around half forward to lock the ball in. He may have been playing to the conditions, but many of Roberts’ kicks from the contest went long off a couple of steps, where he would otherwise wheel around further and find a more direct target. Still a dominant game and one who is shaping as South Australia’s most valuable players.

#23 Morgan Ferres (Sturt)

Was far from a massive game from Ferres, but he remained a dangerous prospect for SA up forward and provided a target in tough conditions for key position players. Could have bagged his first goal in the second term after winning a holding free inside 50 but missed the shot, later making up for it with somewhat of a consolation goal via the brilliance of Isaiah Dudley. Has the potential to do more as he has already shown, and should benefit from drier conditions in Round 3.

Vic Country vs. Western Australia

Vic Country:

#2 Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons)

The Country co-captain built into the game slowly but eventually found his rhythm to contribute class and clean use. A usually efficient kick, Chesser unleashed long when on the the move to clear pockets of congestion and opposition set-ups at either end. His run was also effective as a point of difference, baulking an opponent on the way to breaking inside 50 in the second term in a play more suited to dry weather footy. The Melbourne Grammar boarder ended up with a very respectable 21 disposals and two tackles, with his influence felt across the field.

#3 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)

The hard-nosed midfielder came off the ground as near-on the muddiest player of the lot, such was his desperation to find the footy. Thriving in the conditions with his contested game, Hobbs collected 29 disposals, laid 10 tackles and rebounded four times in what was a workmanlike display, consistent throughout the four quarters. Hobbs will his way to the ball and through traffic time after time, running through whoever was in his way on path to his goal. With his contested game down pat and overhead marking a solid added trait, Hobbs can work on finding better targets in congestion, with much of his disposal at the stoppages being long kicks to no one in particular. Is still such a competitor, and one of Country’s best two or three thus far.

#5 Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power)

The Gippsland product just seems to find the ball unassumingly, collecting 20 disposals and five rebound 50s in another solid shift. Moschetti positioned well behind the ball early to mark on the wing and began to accumulate the ball forward of the defensive 50 arc in the second term. His diving mark to intercept in the following quarter was a highlight, and he consistently has a say in proceedings by getting to as many contests as he can from behind the ball.

#8 Cooper Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers)

The Pioneers defender provided good spark moving forward, chiming in with a couple of handy plays throughout the day. He started with a slide to win the ball and kick to Ben Hobbs to show good awareness, while going on to influence proceedings in the third term with neat disposal and a nice contested win to rebound from the back half. Hamilton began the final term where he had left off with a brave take under pressure and handball out to Joshua Rachele, finishing with 14 disposals, five tackles and two rebound 50s.

#9 Hugh Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers)

The more stocky of the two Hamiltons, Hugh made his impact up forward. Was a little shaky early on with a set shot that went out on the full, but had some nice moments in the second term. The first was a strong one-on-one win at half forward, and the second was a really clean pick-up to show his quality under pressure. Hamilton went on to finish with 16 disposals and four inside 50s after a good middle period of the game.

#10 Benjamin Green (Gippsland Power)

Complimented Hobbs well in midfield with his own contested ball winning, and made an immediate impact with the assist for Josh Rentsch’s first goal with a long kick forward. A regular at the centre bounces and stoppages, Green found a decent amount of ball with 18 disposals and three clearances, while also having an influence in his side’s forward movement with six inside 50s. Capped his game with a slow snap that dribbled over the line just in time at the start of the third term and played an important role.

#11 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)

Macdonald was again one of Country’s most damaging forward movers, providing a reliable and creative link into attacking 50 with clean use, while finding a good amount of ball to make an impact. He is zippy when weaving a way through traffic and pops up in little spurts, but his haul of 24 disposals suggests he is finding some solid consistency.

#13 Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)

The Country leader was absolutely outstanding with the game in the balance and very nearly proved to be a match-winner, falling just short with his chances to do so. Rachele was impactful early on with his nous around the contest and presence of mind under pressure, but really came to life in an spurring second half performance. He showed rare vision to give Blake Scott a chance on goal in the opening stages of the third quarter and began to become more prominent as a clearance winner at the centre bounces. His flair began to take over in the following term as he tried to inspire his side, tackling beautifully in the corridor before hitting the post with what could well have been the game-sealing goal. It wasn’t to be, but Rachele had a game-high 32 disposals to go with six marks, four inside 50s, four rebound 50s, and 0.3.

#16 Lincoln White (Bendigo Pioneers)

White was another to spur his teammates on with a very influential purple patch, with most of his impact felt in the third term. The Pioneers product was able to hit the scoreboard in quick succession, first slipping an opponent to finish well and then sharply snatch the ball off hands to finish on the bounce and give a big ‘c’mon’ cry. He almost gifted Judson Clarke another goal straight after, and was a slippery opponent inside 50 for the WA defenders all day with his 21 disposals and three inside 50s.

#27 Josh Rentsch (GWV Rebels)

One of the better big-men on the ground in the early stages, Rentsch looked like one who could break the game open as he bagged two first-quarter goals with some added time deep forward. The Penhurst product was strong one-on-one, marking in the opening five minutes and putting through the resultant shot. He would back it up with a juggled attempt and second conversion later in the term before somewhat fading out of the game. He almost had the chance to produce another couple of shots but had delivery fall just short of him on the lead, instead getting the ball back up to smaller players off the deck. In tough conditions for key position players, Rentsch definitely showed signs.


Western Australia:

#7 Judd McVee (East Fremantle)

Aptly named given the stamp a certain Judd made in WA, McVee was fantastic through midfield and finished with a team-high 23 disposals to go with seven tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds. The quick but diminutive mover crashed in to win his own ball and zip away from traffic in the same motion, picking up from where Lochlan Paton left off early on. He was a consistent figure throughout and provided important spark, despite making a couple of turnovers by foot. His best moment was a lightning quick gather on defensive wing in the third term, and he looks an exciting player.

#8 Lochlan Paton (West Perth)

Paton was arguably the best player on the ground up to quarter time, when a hand injury became apparent. He is another midfielder who isn’t massively built, but was so hard at it and won his own ball at will. His evasion in traffic and breaking speed proved troublesome, with his work rate around the stoppages more than handy given the conditions. Hopefully we will get another glimpse of Paton before the carnival ends after his day was cut short, with plenty to like out of his first two outings.

#9 Max Chipper (Swan Districts)

Nicknamed ‘Chip’, the Swan Districts wingman was poised to have a big influence with his poise and class around the ball. Chipper is just so calm and clean in possession, but also proved brave with an intercept play in the second term to cause a turnover. His cool head would help WA prevail in a 3v1 contest, working out what could have been a disaster with a snap over the oncoming Country player to see Saverio Marafioti into an open goal. Finished with 17 disposals and nine tackles in a slightly different role, with much of the play occurring between the arcs.

#10 Mitchell Brown (South Fremantle)

You had to watch closely to truly appreciate Brown’s output, with a lot of his work done in-close as he won 17 disposals, six clearances and four inside 50s. Getting involved as part of WA’s usual midfield group, Brown showed he simply knows how to find the ball and did so with ease throughout the day. He began to find it in more open areas as the game progressed, finding ways to send his side inside 50 while also pitching in up the other end to save a certain Country goal with fantastic desperation alongside Blake Morris in defensive 50. A reliable prospect, and played his role well.

#12 Jake Littleton (East Perth)

The WA outside mover was not always in the game, but seems to chime in with handy touches and neat passages of play. While he is often a handy driver forward off a wing, Littleton showed good work rate to get back and close in on a taller Country opponent in the third term to prevent an easy chance on goal. He did a little bit of everything throughout the game with 15 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, and four rebound 50s, looking very efficient with ball in hand and opting for high percentage short kicks.

#18 Saverio Marafioti (West Perth)

Marafioti is very much a raw prospect, but there is a lot to like about him as an exciting forward. He absolutely burst out of the blocks with an impactful first half, popping up with a couple of touches at half-forward in a good amount of space. He found the goals with a soccered attempt early in the piece, and booted another major after again getting free out the back and latching onto a clever Max Chipper kick. While he faded out of the game a touch and gave away a couple of 50-metre penalties, Marafioti was a key figure in setting up the win early.

#30 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts)

The Swan District product proved very effective with his positioning behind the ball and ability to intercept, popping up in the first term with a sliding mark deep inside defensive 50. Bazzo would again position well to cut off another Country kick in the same term, going on to provide some attack with after cutting off the play with long rebounds. He finished with a very serviceable 15 disposals and five marks as a key figure behind the ball.

#32 Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont)

Van Rooyen caught the eye in the opening stages with a strong bit of play to clunk a mark on the second attempt, and he became a useful part of the midfield rotation with his high work rate both ways. The Claremont youngster is already a good size and looks able to play multiple roles, adapting well in this game to have 17 disposals, five marks, nine tackles and a goal – which came in the second term. He tried to cap off his game with another in the last with a torpedo attempt from range after sliding well for a mark, but fell short.

#38 Kade Dittmar (East Perth)

Dittmar was productive around the contests all day, finishing with 22 disposals, nine tackles, four clearances, and four inside 50s as one who pushed forward well from the midfield rotation. He did well to also pull in a couple of marks early on, flying to take one overhead and proving strong to hold another one-on-one. Dittmar had a set shot touched after following up from a short set shot from that second mark, but really got involved forward of centre in a strong second term. Is one who has really grown when donning representative colours.

#39 Luke Polson (Peel Thunder)

One of the heroes of the day, Polson booted the winning goal after earning a holding the ball free kick with just over a minute left in the game – coolly slotting the set shot and celebrating joyously with his teammates. Earlier, he took a solid grab backing up in the first term, but missed a shot gifted to him via a 50-metre penalty in the same play. Playing in defence during the first half, Polson read the ball well in flight to intercept in tandem with Blake Morris before moving into the ruck. He moves like a fourth midfielder in that position at 194cm, following up well at ground level and playing his part. He finished with 16 disposals, 14 hitouts and the winning goal in a great all-round display.

#41 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle)

One of the rotating rucks, Neale was initially slow to build into the game but warrants a mention for standing up in the all-important dying stages. He was frighteningly good at ground level for a 198cm player, scooping the ball up off the deck and dishing off like his outside movers normally would. Neale positioned so well behind the ball to lock it in on two occasions when WA finally got forward in the final term, taking a mark in one of the contests he made. Ended up with a pretty handy stat-line, collecting 12 disposals, five inside 50s and 0.2 while also having five tackles and 13 hitouts.

#42 Blake Morris (Subiaco)

Morris was an absolute wall in defence for the winners, mixing a strong marking ability and superior reading of the play with desperate ground level work to keep Country at bay. He had already showed his knack for marking overhead with a slippery ball, and did so again in this game with four very impressive marks across the day. While he gives up a massive amount of size against key position opponents at 187cm and 68kg, Morris is all heart and makes up for it with his speed and judgement. Once he built confidence, Morris began to attack more with his intercept possessions, but never strayed from his primary role of covering deep in defence. He was so composed on the last line and stopped a couple of certain goals with the sheer will to get back and stall until helped arrived. Super impressive, and looks like a modern prototypical defender who plays well above his height.

Black Ducks continue to break Vic Country hearts

WESTERN Australia’s Under 16s took a leaf out of the book written by their Under 18 counterparts, breaking Vic Country hearts with a hotly contested two-point win, claimed by a Luke Polson goal late in the piece.

Country broke to a slight lead after a close opening term, with either side enjoying bursts of momentum to each put two goals on the board. Saverio Marafioti was electric early in the forward half, booting WA’s first goal and having a hand in their second when he bombed long to a wide open Ethan Regan inside 50. Two majors from Country big-man Josh Rentsch split them and put his side just ahead at the first break, finishing well given the conditions. With arguably the best afield player to that point, Lochlan Paton, in the rooms with a hand injury at the first break, WA needed a big lift to get back on top. Paton would come back on (and off again) despite still being troubled by that hand, and the Sandgropers soared back into the lead in a quarter played mostly in their attacking half. With fluency in ball movement hard to come by on a muddy deck, the Black Ducks’ pressure boded well for locking the ball in – with Jacob van Rooyen and Marafioti the beneficiaries in claiming the term’s only majors. The less-than-ideal scoreless quarter for Country could have been a touch different had a couple of kicks to Rentsch not fallen short, and if Blake Morris had not been so strong in the air and at ground level for WA inside defensive 50. The saving grace for the Victorians was a half time margin of just 11 points, looking manageable as conditions cleared and the ground began to dry.

It proved telling as Vic Country replied in almost identical fashion to how WA had originally broken away, keeping them goalless in the third term while piling on three goals of their own. While Ben Green’s long-range snap rolled over the line to get Country going, Lincoln White and Josh Rachele proved the true catalysts for Country’s change in fortunes – with the former snaring two terrific goals and the latter getting involved in everything through midfield to push his side forward. The Victorians entered the final break seven points in front, but the Black Duckss would kick to the scoring end to finish. They took full advantage in a tense closing term, with the ball locked into Country’s forward 50 for what seemed like an eternity after Regan booted his second goal early on. With Country unable to capitalise and only adding four behinds with all their possession, WA would go up the other end and snatch victory as Polson goaled with 90 seconds left on the clock – as if it were out of a script.

The aptly named Judd McVee (23 disposals, seven tackles) was fantastic through midfield, picking up from where Paton had left off. Kade Dittmar was not far behind with his 22 disposals, nine tackles and four clearances, with WA’s big men providing a huge edge. Morris (16 disposals, six rebound 50s), Polson (16 disposals, 14 hitouts, one goal) and Shannon Neale (12 disposals, 13 hitouts, five inside 50s) all covered the ground beautifully and had real presence.

For Country, Rachele almost proved a match-winner – leading all-comers with a classy 32 disposals, six marks and 0.3, while Ben Hobbs worked tirelessly for 29 disposals and 10 tackles. Connor Macdonald (24 disposals, three inside 50s) proved a good forward runner, with White (21 disposals, two goals) dangerous inside 50 and Campbell Chesser (21 disposals, 10 tackles) solid.

 

VIC COUNTRY 2.3 | 2.4 | 5.8 | 5.12 (42)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 2.1 | 4.4 | 4.7 | 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

VC: J. Rentsch 2, L. White 2, B. Green.
WA: S. Marafioti 2, E. Regan 2, J. van Rooyen, L. Polson.

ADC BEST:

VC: J. Rachele, B. Hobbs, B. Green, C. Chesser, C. Macdonald
WA: J. McVee, B. Morris, K. Dittmar, S. Marafioti, S. Neale