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NAB League Boys team review: Dandenong Stingrays

AS the NAB League season finals approach, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title, checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Dandenong Stingrays.

Position: 8th
Wins: 6
Losses: 8
Draws: 1

Points For: 1024 (Ranked #6)
Points Against: 1078 (Ranked eq. #10)
Percentage: 95
Points: 26

Top draft prospects:

Hayden Young

The captain and standout prospect from the Stingrays, one would expect Young is a top 10 lock with a potential top five selection. He is one of, if not the top kick in the draft, with his elite, penetrating left boot able to carry past opposition zones. He is strong overhead, often intercepting forward thrusts at will, and puts in four quarters of effort each and every game. He has also been trialled through the midfield and even up forward with his aerial ability good enough to do so, but his best position is running off that half-back. With great agility and top decision making, Young will hit targets easily down the field, and is a player you can rely on to find a target in difficult circumstances.

Cody Weightman

A player with real upside, Weightman is still quite raw compared to other players in the draft crop and weighing in at just 73kg at the start of the season. He has shown he has some serious power with his burst and can launch goals from outside 50. He just seems to create something out of nothing when he goes near the ball and oozes X-factor in that regard. He still has areas to work on such as his consistency, and continuing to build his midfield game as he is more influential up forward, but he has plenty of tools from which clubs can work with going into the future at the elite level. A potential top 30 pick.

Tom De Koning

The All-Australian key defender is one of those rare players who steps up and performs better, the higher the level. His best games came at the AFL Under-18 Championships, where he was rewarded with a spot in the nation’s top side from the carnival, holding down the fort for Vic Country at full-back. He is not a high possession winner, but he is strong overhead and can play at either end. He seems to be more at home in the back 50, and one would imagine he will go in the first half of the draft, possibly the top 30 for a side keen for a key position defender who can swing forward.

Other in the mix:

Along with the above three, the Stingrays had an additional two players receiving National Draft Combine invites, which were small forward Ned Cahill, and versatile flanker, Lachlan Williams. Both tasted Vic Country representation, as did key position defender Blake Kuipers and ruck Bigoa Nyuon who were the other two players to receive State Draft Combine invitations.

BnF chances:

There are a number of possibilities for the Stingrays’ Best and Fairest. While Young will pick up plenty of votes in the games he played, there are also a lot of consistent performers such as Jack Toner, Clayton Gay, Reece Orchard and Luca Goonan who will attract plenty of votes from coaches. Young and Williams are two of the names above who will ones to watch in the count still, however.

2020 Draft Crop:

The Stingrays were predominantly bottom-age this year with plenty of fresh faces in the side and getting great exposure for next season. Gay, Max Gregory and Bayleigh Welsh are among those players to have cemented their spots in the Stingrays’ side this year, as did key position player Henry Berenger. It is hard to look past the lightning pace of Will Bravo who will no doubt catch plenty of eyes next season with his bursts down the field, while Deakyn Smith is one of a number of others to watch for in 2020.

Final word:

The Stingrays made finals which was a tick considering the list overhaul at the end of 2018. They won the flag with a consistent top-age group, so a lot of change was forced into the line-up for 2019. They remarkably fired on all cylinders early in the season racing to seven games unbeaten, but once the AFL Under-18 Championships hit and the Stingrays lost that top-end talent, they slipped to an eight-game losing streak. A win over Murray in Wildcard Round ensured the Stingrays played finals, and they were right in the game against Calder on the weekend before the Cannons flew home in the final term.

Caught the Eye: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

WHILE the wildcards lacked from a team sense, there were plenty of exciting players to have raised their stocks this week in the NAB League Boys Wildcard Round. In this edition of Caught the Eye, we shed light on some of the key performers for some sides, as well as others who showed glimpses of form. For full scouting notes, click here, and for extended profiles for each player, click their name highlighted in red.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons

Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons | Midfielder
3/05/2001 | 181cm | 80kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Best afield for mine, Byrnes was sensational on the breakaway from congestion – utilising his zippy first five steps and agility to latch onto the first handball away from stoppages and burst free.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Was back to his best in this game and looks to really be benefitting from being able to share the stoppage workload with a couple of bigger-bodied midfielders. With the likes of Finn Maginness and Darcy Chirgwin in the side, expect to see more of Byrnes breaking the lines and providing that burst away from congestion. He works tirelessly around the ground too, so will be important in finals with his consistency.

Cameron Fleeton
Geelong Falcons | Key Defender
17/06/2002 | 189cm | 76kg

Stats: 7 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:Fleeton was as sure as anyone by foot, switching confidently across defensive 50 to try and set the Falcons on the right foot… Also contributed some second efforts with the result beyond doubt, showing heart on a rough day.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: It was tough going for the bottom-aged defender and while he was beaten at times, Fleeton showed enough to suggest he will certainly be one to watch heading into next year. He only had the seven touches, but looked great with each of them; taking brave marks going back with the flight, reading the play well, and kicking with confidence. Will benefit over time from building a bigger frame and getting some help further afield.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Sam Philp
Northern Knights | Inside Midfielder
4/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

Stats: 23 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Was crucial to Northern’s turnaround… hunting the ball in midfield and providing some aggressive run away from congestion. He worked tirelessly to break the game open with his ability to burst clear of would-be tacklers.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Is a draft bolter, but it comes on the back of a bed of consistency. Philp has sprung on the radar with his constant ball winning throughout the middle part of the year while a number of others were out on representative duty, but has continued his feats with them back, too. Earned a well-deserved National Combine invite and will be one to keep tabs on as Northern look to make a finals run.

Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers | Midfielder
16/10/2001 | 183cm | 72kg

Stats: 23 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s

Our scouts said:Dow was the key ball winner for Bendigo in midfield against some pretty stiff inside competition, hunting the ball and exploding away from congestion to clear going inside 50.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Has well and truly broken out of the shadow of his brother, Paddy with a good base of form throughout the year. The difference he made for the Pioneers was obvious across the few games he played for them at either end of the season, injecting some class and power into the engine room. Will be an interesting one to watch as he develops with his ability to break from congestion and forward running both great assets, and he led well with Brodie Kemp out of the team this week.

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils

Sam Ramsay
Calder Cannons | Midfielder
21/03/2001 | 180cm | 68kg

Stats: 33 disposals, 11 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Showed some good dash along the wing and was not afraid to take the contest on and try and break lines. After a relatively quiet first half Ramsay really lifted a gear in the second half to drag his team back into the contest.” – Taylah Melki

Verdict: Ramsay caught our eye long ago but gets the nod here after yet another prolific performance for the Cannons in midfield. His work going both ways at the contest has been admirable of late, tackling hard while also breaking the lines with his speed and racking left foot kicks. Has the ability to break games open and just attracts the ball, with his form too hard to ignore for clubs who noticed enough for him to earn a state combine invite.

Matt McGuinness
Tasmania Devils | Utility
13/07/2000 | 194cm | 77kg

Stats: 25 disposals, 5 marks, 3 inside 50s, 9 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Was in absolutely everything for the Devils for the full four quarters. He read the flight of the ball well and impacted the contest on every opportunity possible.” – Taylah Melki

Verdict: Another who has been thereabouts for a while on top of the promise he showed last year as a top-ager, McGuinness just keeps on getting the job done. He has shown good tendencies when working up the ground of late and his booming kick means he is able to hit the scoreboard on top of his defensive duties. McGuinness has become more than a player who steps up in little purple patches, but still has those spurts of dominance with his impact on the aerial contests.

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels

Lucas Rocci
Western Jets | Half-Back
27/02/2001 | 175cm | 72kg

Stats: 19 disposals, 2 marks, 9 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:The Morrish Medalist had a well rounded performance showing a good mix of attacking flair and defensive nous. Rocci often used his nice left boot to his advantage finding targets both long and short with ease.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Capped off a pretty handy Sunday by taking out the Morrish Medal, which was rightful recognition for an outstanding season for Rocci, who became a rare player to get the nod despite missing out on both representative duties and combine invites. His mix of attacking and defensive traits from half-back were again on show and he looks to have found a home there after some early-season struggles in different positions. Is coming from a long way back but has potential.

Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels | Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Stats: 19 disposals, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Looked to carry most of the midfield load for the Rebels with the Jets having the advantage in the middle through most of the day. Rantall would still show his great work rate and ability to work up and down the ground.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Made somewhat slow starts over the last fortnight given his lofty standards, handing over some of the midfield responsibility to a few under-age movers but remaining a leader. It wasn’t Rantall’s biggest day out, but he still showed his class and will get the chance to really showcase his athletic abilities at the National Combine given his NAB League season is now over. Midfielders with that mix of speed and endurance are highly sought-after and Rantall definitely has it, but is still working on his fundamental skills.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers

Clayton Gay
Dandenong Stingrays | Forward
23/03/2002 | 183cm | 71kg

Stats: 15 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said:Dandenong had a threatening forward line and Gay was certainly one of their more influential forwards, especially in the second half with his marking ability and class really standing out.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: A player who can play just about anywhere, Gay is so damaging at his best. The bottom-ager finds the goals well and uses his strong marking abilities to become an option inside 50, while also providing good use into the arc. Is seldom a big ball winner, but it will be interesting to see whether he moves more into the midfield in his top age season next year. The Stingrays will look to him when they need a spark come finals up either end of the ground.

Dominic Bedendo
Murray Bushrangers | Forward
9/07/2002 | 185cm | 67kg

Stats: 7 disposals, 3 marks, 2 goals

Our scouts said:The small samples he shows make him an exciting forward prospect for next year’s draft… didn’t get a a lot of the ball but he showed his potential with some great leaps and slick hands when taking possession.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: It wasn’t a huge game from the bottom-ager on the weekend but he still has a happy knack of finding the goals, with two majors from seven touches this time out. He has a ways to go in terms of filling out and will be an even more likely type with the size to go with his 185cm height. His athletic traits also make him one to watch, with Murray boasting some decent talent forward of the ball for the next two years.

Scouting Notes: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

THERE were no surprises this time in the NAB League Boys Wildcard Round, with every higher-ranked side progressing through to the finals. Despite final results, scores were close for a least a term in each game with the top-end talent from each side shining through in the end. We take a look at the outstanding performers who earned representative or combine nods, as well as a few under-agers who impressed in our opinion-based notes.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

An absolute workhorse in the midfield, Chirgwin was dominant at the coalface with his contested ball winning and presence at stoppages. While he was clean at the fall of the ball and tackled hard in close, another pleasing part of Chirgwin’s game was his work rate around the ground to accumulate just about anywhere the ball went. He had a dominant start to the game and his repeat efforts left the Falcons with no answers throughout. He hit the scoreboard from one of a couple of set shot chances, converting on the back of a 50m penalty. Having proven himself against all opposition so far in the NAB League, Chirgwin looks poised for a big finals series to end an injury interrupted year.

#4 Finn Maginness

Combined beautifully with Chirgwin as another big body in the midfield, showing rare vision in the clinches and a strong core to dish out effortlessly to his runners on the outside. Maginness was another to dominate at the stoppages, constantly latching onto the taps – particularly at centre bounces – with clean hands and poise. Maginness also got forward well as expected, spreading hard to sneak inside 50 unmanned and become another dangerous option. He capped off a brilliant game on the inside with a goal in the final term after marking strongly inside 50 – another of his favourable traits.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Best afield for mine, Byrnes was sensational on the breakaway from congestion – utilising his zippy first five steps and agility to latch onto the first handball away from stoppages and burst free. Byrnes’ work to get around the ground and accumulate allowed him to get involved in a heap of plays going both ways, with surer kicking at times the only area that could do with some work. While he hit the scoreboard himself with a fantastic pick up and finish at pace in the second term, Byrnes was just as influential in his assists – creating three goals off his own boot throughout the game with clever finds forward of the ball or laterally. He showed a good willingness to break the lines too, adding to his forward threat on the spread. A top game, back to his ball-winning best.

#6 Miles Bergman

Dynamic as ever, Bergman again showed his ability to do some freakish things with his work in the air and forward of the ball in general. He built into the game slowly, standing up in tackles and marking well overhead in little glimpses before coming to life as he rotated between the wing and half forward line. Bergman adjusted his linking play further afield to become the target himself up forward, marking high balls strongly in packs close to home to find three of his four goals. His other major came with a classy speared finish from range on the run, and he was in such form that he scored with a monster torp from the wing after the half time siren. He proved the perfect wildcard for the Dragons, and will be one who is climbing draft boards.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

It was a solid outing for the wingman/forward, rotating between his usual two positions and popping up with a couple of nice moments. Ralphsmith’s pressure and forward run kept him in the game early, with his best moment coming in the second term as he ran onto his own smother at half-forward and finished clinically into the open goal for his first major. His second came with a set shot in the final quarter to end his game well, with Ralphsmith’s carry and running bounces between the arcs proving damaging.

#12 Charlie Dean

A selfless performance by coach Josh Bourke’s standards, Dean continued his work as a swingman – this time starting in defence and moving forward. It was by no means a massive game from the versatile tall but he played a more unheralded role down back early, going back with the flight multiple times and proving solid in the air. That aerial prowess boded well for his shift forward as he marked strongly deep inside 50 and got reward for his efforts with two goals.

#13 Louis Butler

Another who played a selfless role and won praise from his coach, Butler was tasked with playing a more defensive style to his usual rebounding game – shutting down Geelong’s small forwards. While he was sound inside defensive 50, Butler was a little shaky with his kicking under pressure as a few balls grazed the grass on the back of rushed releases. He was freed up a touch more in the second half as he accumulated across the back half, providing his usual run.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

The leading ball winner on the day, Hanrahan was busy throughout on the outside in penetrating both arcs. His high numbers came on the back of some good work in handball chains forward, while also using those repeat running efforts to get secondary touches after short kicks too. The over-ager wasn’t afraid to take opponents on with little agile steps, finishing his forward runs with kicks down the line or sharper short finds – as was the case with his goal assist to Miles Bergman in the second term. His accumulative style is commonplace among outside players, but Hanrahan keeps on doing the right things and is in a good patch of form.

#29 Fischer McAsey

The All Australian defender was good without being outstanding in his two-goal performance, proving dangerous up forward before shifting back in the second half. McAsey’s work to get separation on the lead was terrific, allowing him to mark almost uncontested numerous times and creating shots on goal. His earliest set shot was a shocker, but worked out fortuitously as it fell into the lap of Blake O’Leary closer to goal. He would go on to sure up that area, marking twice more and converting his next two set shots with much more conviction. A solid performance, with his marking a constant threat up both ends.

#32 Jack Bell

Bell is coming into some exciting form, again producing glimpses of his athleticism with some great moments in the air. He took an absolute hanger and flew well in his time up forward where he found two goals, while also providing good fold in the ruck with his long reach and craft to palm down to his dominant mids. Just catches the eye on occasion and has the right traits for a tall.

#74 Harry Loughnan

The over-ager stood out with his combativeness in defence, attacking the ball hard and making desperate plays across half-back to set the tone even when the result was well beyond doubt. Loughnan’s hunger saw him collect a good amount of possessions, using it well when he opted to go by foot and proving clean by hand. Also popped up with a nice one-handed mark to show a touch of class.

Geelong:

#15 Tanner Bruhn

One of Geelong’s only forms of resistance through a midfield that was soundly beaten, Bruhn continues to show no signs of wear from his long-term injury layoff. The bottom-ager had some promising moments at stoppages, winning the first clear disposals at the opening centre bounces of the first and second terms. His clearance work is already sound and he looked unfazed by Sandringham’s bigger bodies, digging in where he could and zipping away with his first few steps. Also provided good drive forward by foot and chipped in with a goal in the third term from close range. Has a wealth of potential and should lead Geelong’s strong bottom-age core into next year.

#37 Oliver Henry

Only had a handful of disposals but caught the eye with just about each of them, if not with a few of his aerial attempts which didn’t register as stats. Henry started by winning a free kick up forward in a one-on-one contest but missed the set shot, coming into the game again in the second term with a nice overhead grab up the ground. He looked to have hurt himself after flying for another ball in the following quarter, attacking it hard and almost bringing it down but losing it as he landed heavily on his back. It was a tough day for Geelong forwards, but players like Henry will be better for the grind.

#40 Jesse Clark

The skipper simply had to be a beacon for the Falcons in defence, but it was tough going. As the Dragons began to get on a roll, Geelong looked to use Clark’s aerial ability as a spare in defence as he rushed back from the wing at the bounce of the ball. He managed to snare a couple of intercepts in the back half and rebounded like he usually does, doing whatever he could to help his relatively young teammates out.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Was quite possibly Geelong’s best player given the heat he took on in a key defensive post. Fleeton was as sure as anyone by foot, switching confidently across defensive 50 to try and set the Falcons on the right foot coming out of defence. Two of his three marks were fantastic too, intercepting strongly in the first term and sticking a one-hander going back in the second to show some courage and athleticism. The bottom-ager was also incredibly composed on the ball, not afraid to take on opponents on the last line and burning one in the second quarter with a good piece of agility after gathering over the back. Also contributed some second efforts with the result beyond doubt, showing heart on a rough day.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

It was another assured performance in defence from Davies, who pitched in with his usual intercept and rebounding game. He was entrusted with kick-ins early as is typically the case, but was taken off them on the back of a couple of misjudged long-range efforts against the wind – instead becoming the target with his solid overhead marking. While he was calm with ball in hand, Davies proved much more audacious in the air with his attempts and willingness to launch at packs. He reeled in some nice grabs one-on-one and won a fair amount of ball without being dominant.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was a touch quieter than the lofty standard he has now set, but still managed to find the ball and impact play up the ground. D’Intinosante’s attack on the ball was great when hitting up onto the wing or through the corridor, playing almost like a lead-up forward but sweeping at ground level. He would repeatedly go back to win the ball or apply pressure, looking to get forward quickly and follow his delivery up. The state combine invitee’s goal came from a set shot in the final term, missing a tough dribbled effort in the second term and otherwise not having too many chances inside 50.

#8 Adam Carafa

The midfield bull was the leading ball winner by a fair way as the only player to crack 30 disposals, working hard going both ways in the engine room. Carafa was pivotal to Northern’s strong second half, handballing beautifully away from congestion and out to his fleeter midfielders, accumulating at the coalface with ease. With his distribution down pat, Carafa went on to help out his defence and send a couple of nice passes inside 50 up the other end in what was an outstanding third term which turned the tide of the game in a defining way. He added a couple of flashy spins out of traffic to his grunt work to cap off a one of his better NAB League outings.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Has reverted back to his defensive post of late, starting this game as one of the two deepest defenders but looking more impactful with his run from half-back. Sturgess repeatedly got on his bike and looked to chain possessions after an initial disposal, sparking the Knights from the defensive arc and helping to take the game on. He was another to fall victim to the wind when looking for distance from the kick-ins but sured that area up quickly to continue to provide real drive. You can also count on the draft combine invitee bringing aggression to the game, tackling hard and crashing packs when swung forward. He again made an impact up forward, booting two goals in the final quarter with cool conversion and an outstanding 1v2 mark for his second.

#13 Sam Philp

Along with Carafa was crucial to Northern’s turnaround and clear break, hunting the ball in midfield and providing some aggressive run away from congestion. He worked tirelessly to break the game open with his ability to burst clear of would-be tacklers, booting long inside 50 at the end of his explosive runs. Philp added touches of class to his game with drawing handballs at half forward and a fantastic goal on the run in the third term. His scoreboard impact extended to an assist for Jackson Bowne in the same term, conveying the kind of effect he had on the contest in turning it around.

#40 Liam McMahon

Continues to show promising signs inside forward 50, not needing many touches to have an impact and find the goals. His first major was a straightforward one after receiving a 50m penalty in the first term, with his second a much trickier set shot from the boundary which sailed through off a couple of steps, and his third another conversion from deep after marking on the lead. While he only showed it a couple of times, McMahon’s marking at the highest point is what helps him catch the eye, making his influence more profound.

#45 Ayce Taylor

The over-ager had some nice moments from defence, hitting up hard at half-back to intercept at both levels and spark some rebound. Despite playing more like a key defender, Taylor showed good agility to slip opponents with ball in hand and spread well as Northern forced turnovers in defence. His bodywork early was astute, with his ability to run in the second and third terms ending in a James Lucente goal. Taylor’s aggressive style of defence was a good pointer for his fellow back six members to follow, sparking the Knights into some more daring play.

Bendigo:

#4 Thomson Dow

Dow was the key ball winner for Bendigo in midfield against some pretty stiff inside competition, hunting the ball and exploding away from congestion to clear going inside 50. While his contested work and bustling stoppage play was a highlight throughout, Dow also pushed forward well and broke the lines over the back to set Jack Evans’ goal in motion. He would go on to win a clearance shortly after to assist Aaron Gundry’s goal and produced a lovely weighted ball to Ethan Roberts inside 50 in the fourth quarter. He capped a solid game with a highlight reel snare off a Josh Treacy tap in the same term, standing up as one of Bendigo’s best.

#19 Ben Worme

It was an indifferent game from Worme, who spent an extended amount of time up forward while also rotating through midfield. His work to get up the ground and wheel into forward 50 was effective, but he fell just short in finishing his own chances with a couple of misses on the run. He showed a nice bit of vision to hit up Riley Wilson inside 50, later making another handy lateral kick at half-forward and contributing in handy bursts.

#22 Josh Treacy

Treacy was aggressive in his time as one of two deep forwards, leading up hard beyond the arc and throwing his weight around in general play. He was one of the better players afield in the first term, booting both of his goals from a free kick and 50m penalty. His conversion was steady and reliable, with his ruckwork later in the day proving shrewd as he found the likes of Thomson Dow with taps well on the move.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

The nippy forward was one of Bendigo’s most threatening players and was relevant throughout the game, leading his opponents to the ball with his gut-busting runs up the field and equally hard movement over the back toward goal. He missed a couple of chances in the opening term but found space in the following quarter to snap home and snare another major out the back again. He slowed up a touch as Northern got on top after half time after claiming all of his 2.3 in the first half, but constantly looked to break from congestion and get something going for the Pioneers.

#38 Brady Rowles

The line-breaking defender was terrific in this outing, having an impact with just about all of his 15 disposals and using his trademark speed to provide some form of inspiration for Bendigo. While his kicks at pace on the end of damaging runs was not always ideal and he almost had a horrific defensive 50 turnover, Rowles hit a couple of handy targets to show signs of improvement in that area overall. His best traits always make you stand up and watch, with enough there to suggest he can become a handy asset when better refined.

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Taylah Melki

Calder Cannons:

#1 Daniel Mott

Slotted a goal early in the first quarter thanks to his goal sense and awareness. Clean hands out of congestion to move the ball forward and put it in a damaging position. Mott worked hard in and around the stoppages and lowered his eyes to find teammates in space. He was not afraid to put his body on the line and applied good pressure. He worked hard at stoppages to get hands to ball and consistently looked to move the ball down into the forward 50. Mott had a good passage of play showcasing his slick hands and impressive kick to hit a teammate on the lead under pressure. He held his space well around the throw ins to try and read the tap and break free. He lifted his intensity in the last term with a burst through the middle of the ground to create a shot at goal for a teammate.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Worked hard across the ground to provide an option and use his assets to his advantage. Cardillo showed good pace out of the middle to run through corridor and spear the ball forward. Displayed good tackling pressure to win a holding the ball call and ran hard throughout the match. He used his quick hands to keep the ball moving and stepped up in the last term winning his fair share of the ball in the fourth quarter.

#5 Curtis Brown

Good hands coming out of defence and displayed his clever clearing kick through the middle of the ground to provide a release for the Cannons. Brown was a good link up player for the Cannons and applied good tackling pressure. Backed himself in the contest credit to his strong hands and used his impressive vision to kick to a teammate in space. He took a few important intercept marks and propelled the ball back down the field late in the game to give his side opportunities in the forward half. He showed glimpses of good speed to track both the ball and his player to stop his opponents influence. Brown had an impressive passage of play laying a huge tackle in the last quarter in the middle of the ground to get a holding the ball call.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Showed some good dash along the wing and was not afraid to take the contest on and try and break lines. After a relatively quiet first half Ramsay really lifted a gear in the second half to drag his team back into the contest. Showed his dare and execution with a good kick through the middle of the ground to open up the field for the Cannons. Showed good footy smarts and understanding creating strong leads throughout the match and using his speed to outrun his opponents. He was involved in an exciting passage of play receiving the ball and running down the wing, then dishing off to a teammate while he continued to run and present in the forward 50 to slot a goal from about 40 out directly in front. Consistently assessed his options across the ground to dish of passes and work hard to win the ball at the coalface. Seemed to have the footy on a string in the third quarter.

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

Strong in the air and worked hard to bring the ball to ground time and time again. He provided a good contest and led up at the footy well. O’Sullivan worked hard throughout the game to offer a target and showed a good leap to get up and try and win the ball. Showed good presence in the forward 50 throwing his weight around and creating strong leads. He missed an opportunity from about 30 out on a tight angle but later rectified his inaccuracy with a strong mark on a tight angle and nailing it in the dying minutes of the game.  

#29 Campbell Edwardes

Got plenty of hands to ball throughout the game and steadily built into the match to win contests and create doubt when kicking the ball in long down the line. Edwardes had a stint in the forward line and took a big contested mark early in the third quarter and slotted the goal showcasing his strong kicking action. He worked hard throughout the match getting to contests and creating half chances. He showcased his strength taking a heap of marks and denying easy access into the Cannons defensive 50.

#38 Brodie Newman

Worked hard in defence and consistently offered an option down the line. Newman displayed his strong set of hands taking a multitude of marks and making it look easy. Good composure to think his way through the defensive pressure and showed good strength to shrug off a couple of would be tackles, keep his feet and dish the ball off. Newman offered a good contest in the air and used his body well to out position his opponents in one on ones. He used his long booming kick to try and create an inside 50 opportunity for his team and backed himself defensively with a well timed punch in the middle of the ground. Strong overhead and lifted his intensity when the game was on the line displaying his general football smarts and skill. He won the footy time and time again and applied strong physical pressure with some brutal tackles.

Tasmania:

#6 Sam Banks

Found good space and lowered his eyes to find a teammate on the lead multiple times throughout the game. Banks was classy with ball in hand releasing handballs to teammates in better positions and was never far away from the contest. He impressed with his ability to read the flight of the ball and take a clever intercept mark deep in defensive 50 highlighting his strong set of hands.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Was in absolutely everything for the Devils for the full four quarters. He read the flight of the ball well and impacted the contest on every opportunity possible. McGuinness opened the campaign for Tasmania credit to his good goal sense and long booming kick. He applied good defensive pressure to get up and smother the high ball coming in while also showing good composure across the field to think his way through pressure. McGuinness was relatively efficient by foot to hit his teammates lace out on the lead and provided good run through the middle of the field. Impressed with one passage of play linking up with a teammate along the wing to receive a couple of handballs and stream forward. He dropped back into the space to take fill in the gaps and used his long booming kick to get over the mess coming out of defence.

#8 Jake Steele

Steele bobbed up and down throughout the game and applied good defensive and offensive pressure when needed. He made the most of his opportunities in front of goal nailing his only major in the second quarter. Showcased his slick hands to move the ball on.

#25 Jackson Callow

Good strong mark and clever lead up at the footy through the middle corridor. He constantly re-offered in the forward 50 and took a strong mark but did not covert on a tight angle at the start of second quarter. Callow struggled in front of goal only managing three behinds but still posed a dominant threat, using his stature to throw his weight around and create half chances. He showed good strength to out body his opponent and win the ball time and time again for Tasmania. 

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels
By: Ed Pascoe

GWV:

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin had a mixed game playing mostly as a mid in the first half. He was moved forward in the second half and although he led up well and took some nice marks, his kicking at goal let him down. He won a bit of the ball in the midfield early on but he looked most dangerous when moved forward in the second half and if he had kicked a bit straighter it would have been a very strong game from him. Martin finished the game with 18 disposals, six marks and five tackles.

#13 Jay Rantall

It was a quieter day for Rantall by his standards and looked to carry most of the midfield load for the Rebels with the Jets having the advantage in the middle through most of the day. Rantall would still show his great work rate and ability to work up and down the ground, his craftiness by hand was again a staple despite his kicking letting him down occasionally. His only goal came in the third quarter which was a nice kick on the run and would almost kick a great goal in the last quarter with a snap that did not quite make the distance. Rantall finished the game with 19 disposals, seven tackles and one goal.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Hobbs is not draft eligible until 2021 but already looks a great prospect for then with the busy midfielder playing a different role down back which didn’t effect his ability to win the ball with ease. Hobbs was composed with ball in hand and looked confident in riding tackles and evading which is great to see from such a young player. His defensive running was sound and his ability to read the ball was impressive. Hobbs finished the game with 22 disposals, four tackles and four rebounds 50s.

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

Failli was energetic playing forward and through the midfield, he was the smallest player out there but with perhaps the biggest impact especially in the last quarter kicking two great goals. The best of the lot opened up the last term with a classy left foot snap goal. Failli couldn’t do much more in his role, winning 17 disposals, six marks, five tackles and three goals and he is one to watch for the 2020 draft.

#3 Eddie Ford

Ford won plenty of the ball playing as a leading player at half forward, his ability to find the ball and provide an options was pivotal for the Jets and despite a few errors and missed shots on goal he should take confidence in his game. Ford missed a few marks early in the game which wasn’t like him but he would take two very strong marks in the last term. Ford finished the game with 23 disposals and three behinds in what could have been a huge game if he kicked straight.

#4 Lucas Rocci

The Morrish Medalist had a well rounded performance showing a good mix of attacking flair and defensive nous. Rocci often used his nice left boot to his advantage finding targets both long and short with ease and despite showing good initiative with ball in hand he also showed initiative without it, laying some nice tackles with one strong tackle on the wing in the second quarter before quickly getting around on his left foot with a long kick inside 50 that found his teammate. Rocci finished the game with 19 disposals, nine tackles and six rebounds.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar was a ball magnet down back, often taking kickouts he rarely missed a target by foot and was pivotal in the Jets rebounding so well from defence. He got a lot of easy receives but showed he could get his own ball with two very good intercept marks in the first quarter. Cassar finished the game with 26 disposals, nine marks and five rebounds which has been the standard game from Cassar all year in the NAB League.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey reminded everyone why he is one of the NAB League’s most dangerous players when up and running with a big performance through the midfield and one of his most well rounded games this year. Honey started the game well with eight disposals in the first quarter and looking lively, he would show a good mix of attacking flair and hard hitting tackles showing he wasn’t just all flash. Honey finished the game strongly kicking a nice running goal from 50m and setting up two other scoring opportunities with an unselfish pass after taking a mark in the pocket. He also showed his dual sidedness with a long left foot kick inside 50 hitting its mark. Honey finished the game with 23 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Ed Pascoe

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash did absolutely everything he could to get his team over the line; the Murray captain was a strong four-quarter performer, going in hard through the midfield in the first three quarters before moving to his preferred position down back in the last to give his team some run from defence. Ash came out with good intent in the first quarter, laying a good smother to then win the ball and have a flying shot at goal that just missed. Ash’s run and eagerness to move the ball on is his bread and butter and he again showed those traits but it was his appetite for the contest as a midfielder that really impressed and showed he had more strings to his bow. Ash finished the game with 27 disposals, six tackles, five inside 50s and six rebounds.

#31 Josh Rachele

Rachele was almost the match winner for Murray, with his nous around goals a real asset for his side. Rachele was the man of the moment in Murray’s second quarter fightback with two great set shot goals from 50m from identical spots. Murray trailed by as much as 30 points around half way through the second quarter and Rachele’s last goal of that term gave them the lead going into the half time break. Safe to say the decision to start him on the bench in the third quarter after his hot finish to the second quarter was a head scratcher and proved even more so as Murray didn’t managed a goal that quarter, Rachele however would pop up again in the last quarter to kick the goal of the day with a kick on his opposite foot in mid air that got the crowd up and about. Rachele finished the game with 17 disposals, six marks, five tackles and three goals and the U16 MVP showed he is a top prospect for the 2021 draft.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

Bedendo is a player that lacks a strong body and was out-bodied on a few occasions but the small samples he shows make him an exciting forward prospect for next year’s draft. Bedendo showed of his great leaping ability with a nice mark in the last quarter that led to his second goal for the game. Bedendo didn’t get a a lot of the ball but he showed his potential with some great leaps and slick hands when taking possession. Bedendo finished the game with seven disposals, three marks and two goals.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

It was a fairly standard game for Young who has been playing midfield as of late but was moved back to his favoured defensive position against Murray and showed the traits that have him talked as a potential top five prospect this year. Young’s influence was seen early with a strong intercept mark at half back and would set his usual tone with his run and carry and confidence to take the game on. Young was also solid defensively with some strong tackles. You could not fault Young’s game and Dandenong certainly look better with the ball in his hands coming from defence, he finished the game with 24 disposals and seven tackles.

#10 Clayton Gay

Dandenong had a threatening forward line and Gay was certainly one of their more influential forwards, especially in the second half with his marking ability and class really standing out. Both of Gay’s goals came from some strong marks and he would convert his opportunities with a great set shot technique. Gay could do it all both overhead and at ground level with his speed and ability to wheel around on his left foot and find targets going inside 50. Gay has shown an ability to play both back and forward and his marking for a 183cm player is sensational and he looks a strong prospect for the 2020 draft. Gay finished the game with 15 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and two goals.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill bounced back after a quiet game last week to cause havoc inside 50 against Murray Bushrangers. Cahill was a constant threat inside 50 with an opportunistic goal in the first and second quarter and his last coming swiftly in the last quarter, swooping onto a loose ball to kick his third. He had plenty of chances to kick more goals, missing some snaps under pressure and he was a consistent player across four quarters – working hard up the ground as well and seemed to get away from his opposition with ease. Cahill was never out of a contest and was always hovering around the play to keep involved and use his slick ball use to his advantage. Cahill finished the game with 21 disposals, four marks and kicked 3.3

#44 Cody Weightman

The highlight machine Weightman looked set to excite the crowd early with his leaping ability and speed. Weightman kicked his only goal from a free kick but had a hand in helping others try and hit the scoreboard, getting a handball out to Cahill which was super quick. Weightman took a spectacular mark in the third quarter and looked very lively early in that quarter with some quick movement and thinking inside 50, Weightman was unsighted in the last quarter and is hopefully not in doubt for Dandenong’s first final as he is a dangerous proposition for the opposition. Weightman finished the game with 12 disposals and a goal

Stingrays break winless drought with strong second half

DANDENONG Stingrays have snapped an eight-game losing streak at just the right time, downing Murray Bushrangers to move through to the NAB League Boys finals series. The Stingrays seemed to answer all of the Bushrangers’ challenges, racing to a five-goal lead at one stage, being pegged back in the same quarter to trail at half-time, then gaining breathing space in the third and never looking back. They ended up getting home in a tight contest thanks to some terrific individual efforts.

The first quarter provided a number of highlights in a see-sawing affair with Jimmy Boyer booting an early goal on the run, before Cody Weightman earned a free kick from the very next inside 50 and levelled the scores. The next inside 50 saw Boyer burst away to take a great mark out in front but his accuracy betrayed him on the shot as it drifted to the side. Clayton Gay was having an early impact for the Stingrays through the middle, while Hayden Young was intercepting and mopping up in defence. Weightman was the star in terms of potential though, flying high to almost pull down a massive grab, before attempting a tricky goal from the same play. Connor Macdonald made the Bushrangers pay when a mistake deep in defensive 50 saw the 2021 draft eligible player sidestep his opponent and kick truly on the run from 15m out. Murray co-captain Cam Wilson stepped up when they needed him, putting the Bushrangers back in front. Dominic Bedendo came close to setting up a loose Boyer in the square, but a desperate smother from a Stingrays opponent ensured the ball went out of bounds. Dandenong made no such mistake running it down the other end, with Ned Cahill pouncing and snapping around his body with a great goal to again hand Dandenong the lead back. At quarter time, Young and Dylan Clarke were the top disposal winners for their respective clubs with 10 apiece, while Cahill and Luca Goonan had seven each. With just six inside 50s for 3.1, the efficiency of the Stingrays was terrific, while the Bushrangers had more than double that with 14, but could only manage the 2.3.

In a tale of two halves, the second quarter was all Dandenong and then all Murray for the Bushrangers to lead by four points at the main break. In what looked to be a complete rout in the first half of the quarter, Dandenong piled on four consecutive goals to open the term and the margin was 30 points with Murray yet to have an impact in that period. Gay booted the first of the term, before a rarely seen free kick handed Bryce Milford back-to-back goals, converting one then pushed over after it had gone through, for the forward to boot his second consecutive goal in the space of 30 seconds. A minute later, Cahill pounced on a loose ball and put it through and the Murray faithful would have been sweating with the scoreboard reading 7.3 (45) to 2.3 (15) at the 11-minute mark of the quarter. Enter Lachlan Ash and Josh Rachele. The pair took the game by the scruff of the neck, with Ash mopping up off half-back and getting it forward for Bedendo to kick his first, and set off the chain of midfield dominance. Murray won all the centre clearances for the remainder of the quarter, as Rachele booted two, almost set up another, and Cam Wild ran onto his own clearance after a quick handball and booted one home as well. Cameron McLeod was the other beneficiary in front of the sticks with a major from long-range, but it was Rachele’s second major just before the half-time siren that had the crowd up and about. In 15 minutes of football, Murray had turned a 30-point deficit into a four-point lead. Clarke (15 disposals, five inside 50s) and Ash (14 and two) were so important, while Rachele had 12 disposals, four marks and two goals to his name, For the Stingrays, Cahill (14 disposals, two marks and two goals) and Young (13 disposals, two rebounds were the standout players.

Unlike the high scoring second term, just two goals were converted in the third, as Dandenong retook control with a 2.2 to 0.2 quarter and headed into the final change with a 14-point advantage. William Howe put his side back in front and enjoyed a big term, nailing a goal then narrowly missing a second when it hit the post. Jye Chalcraft had the chance to regain the lead with a 50m penalty and shot from just inside 50 but it sprayed out on the full to the left, something his brother Kade did later in the term on the run but to the right. Despite having their chances, the Bushrangers could not add a goal to their total as the passage of the term was brilliant play by the Stingrays, as Howe switched into the middle to Nathan Heath who bombed long to Gay backing back and taking a strong grab. His goal, coupled with an earlier running goal from Will Lewis gave the Stingrays a comfortable 16-point buffer, with a few misses late in the quarter to the Bushrangers pegging it back to 14. Ash (22 touches) and Clarke (18) were the standout ball winners for Murray, while Young (18), Goonan (18) and Gay (13 and two goals) were the prominent players for Dandenong.

If there was any doubt about whether the goals had dried up in the game following the slow third term, then that doubt was quickly erased in the opening two minutes with three goals on the board. Cahill claimed goal number three with yet another hard running goal in just 16 seconds, while Cam Wild got on the end of one up the other end after a chain of handballs despite Dandenong’s pressure. Bigoa Nyuon had a purple patch early in the fourth, clunking a towering mark and slotting the goal, then repeating the effort in the air on the other side but could not quite put it through the big sticks again. Gay had an opportunity for another major close to the pocket and almost put the game beyond doubt, but the dribbler bounced the wrong side of the post. Instead it went up the other end and Bedendo capitalised on his second major with a long-range set shot and the game was still alive with just 17 points. Moments later, the man of the second quarter stepped up with a mid-air kick to cut it to just 11 and the atmosphere was fever-pitch. Ben Kelly almost made it less than a kick the difference with a clever snap but could not quite convert. Dandenong almost had an end-to-end goal up the other end with Nyuon winning a foot race but having a fresh air kick and the ball was rushed across the line. Murray was trying to move the ball along the boundary, but the Stingrays camped back there, and with three minutes left, a turnover saw Cahill free inside 50 taking an uncontested chest mark but missing the set shot though it was a handy point, putting the margin out to 13. When Lachlan Williams had a flying shot on goal with a minutes remaining, the miss hardly mattered as the Stingrays would move through to the finals series. One last icing on the cake was Nyuon popping up once again to cap off a massive final term, taking a grab just before the siren and making it a 21-point win.

Cahill was the standout Stingray in the end with 23 disposals, four marks and 3.3, in a game that could have been even bigger, while Young (21 disposals, six tackles and three rebounds) and Gay (15 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and two goals) were also very impressive. For the Bushrangers, Ash stood up across four quarters to no-one’s surprise, finishing his season with 29 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s, eight rebounds and five tackles. Rachele showed his class with another three goals from 18 disposals and five marks, while Clarke (22 disposals), Chalcraft (20) and Wild (16 and two goals) all tried hard in defeat.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.2 | 7.3 | 10.5 | 13.13 (91)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.3 | 7.7 | 7.9 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Dandenong: N. Cahill 3, B. Milford 2, B. Nyuon 2, C. Weightman, C. Macdonald, C. Gay, W. Howe, W. Lewis.
Murray: J. Rachele 3, D. Bedendo 2, C. Wild 2, J. Boyer, C. Wilson, C. McLeod

ADC BEST:

Dandenong: N. Cahill, H. Young, C. Gay, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, B Kuipers
Murray: L. Ash, J. Rachele, D. Bedendo, D. Clarke, C. Wild, J. Chalcraft

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

IT is a big round of NAB League boys action this weekend, with the Wildcard Round getting underway at Preston, Craigieburn and Box Hill across two big days. There is no turning back for the losers, so for five teams, it is curtains on season 2019, while five others live to fight another day.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday August 24, 11.45am
Preston City Oval

There was always going to be one of the highly-rated top four sides drop out of the automatic finals qualification places and in this case it was Sandringham who finished fifth and face a Wildcard Round elimination final. They meet 2019 Wooden Spooners, Geelong Falcons in the repeat of the 2017 TAC Cup Grand Final. Geelong has had its most disappointing year for some time on wins alone, but outside the win-loss ratio, the Falcons are a much better side than meets the eye. Their last quarter fadeouts have cost them on a number of occasions and the majority of their developing talent are bottom-agers. Not to dissimilar to Eastern Ranges this year, the core of the Geelong midfield will still have a year to go in the system and should be better heading into next year. Coupled with the bottom-agers is overager Charlie Sprague who has been on a goal-scoring spree over the past five rounds, piling on 18 goals in that time – including six last round against Dandenong Stingrays. He comes up against an in-form Corey Watts who, along with the likes of Jackson Voss and forward-turned-defender Charlie Dean will not make it easy for Sprague. Oliver Henry and Charlie Lazzaro provide strong support for Sprague inside 50, with Lazzaro rotating with Tanner Bruhn and Noah Gribble through the midfield. Sandringham’s midfield is star-studded and will take full advantage of their greater experience, with Darcy Chirgwin, Finn Maginness and Ryan Byrnes in the top three midfields of the competition. If the midfield gets on top, then the forwards of Fischer McAsey and Kyle Yorke could have a field day, especially with Miles Bergman, Hugo Ralphsmith and Jake Bowey named in the forward line and who are all capable of picking up midfield minutes. Jesse Clark looms as Geelong’s most important player to try and halt the Sandringham attack, while Cameron Fleeton returns to provide the Falcons with some more stability back there. It is hard to see Sandringham losing this clash, but Geelong played its best game of the season last week, so if they can build on that and start strongly, anything is possible.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday August 24, 2.15pm
Preston City Oval

In the second game of a double-header at Preston City Oval, the Knights host the Pioneers. The Knights are coming off an impressive win over Western Jets in the final round after starting slowly, while the Pioneers started strongly, and had their chances but just went down to Gippsland Power by 10 points on Sunday. The Knights midfield has the upperhand in this game with Northern trio Adam Carafa, Sam Philp and Josh Watson all in good form, while Josh D’Intinosante looms as a key for Northern up forward with 26 goals to his name this season – second over all on the goalkicking charts. James Schischka might be the man to try and stop him, while William Wallace and Riley Ironside have played good defensive roles in the back 50 of late. Brady Rowles was impressive last week and will provide good rebound, while Sam Conforti, Thomson Dow and Riley Wilson can win the pill and hit the scoreboard. Josh Treacy is strong enough to worry opposition key defenders, with Ryan Sturgess and Jackson Davies the two who will likely play a big role in the defence for the home side. Aaron Gundry has been in good form this season, as has Jack Ginnivan and Ben Worme with the former able to kick multiple goals in a game, while Worme can push up the ground and rotate through the middle. Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner are another couple of players that must be contained or Bendigo risk conceding a big score, but they will be relieved that Lachlan Potter will miss the season as his run and carry can break games open. Northern go in as favourites at home, but Bendigo beat the Knights at this venue earlier in the season so will be confident they can repeat the dose here.

CALDER CANNONS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday, August 25, 11am
RAMS Arena

In the standalone game at RAMS Arena, Calder host a somewhat depleted Tasmania side in what on paper should favour the fifth placed home side. With Mitch O’Neill already out and the likes of Sam Collins and Oliver Davis missing it means three of their top players will be unavailable for the knockout clash. Jared Dakin has returned to provide some vital leadership, while Matt McGuinness, Patrick Walker and Liam Viney provide good rebound off the back 50. With Harrison Jones, Jake Sutton and Jackson Cardillo inside the forward arc, the Cannons front six will be hard to contain, but the Devils’ forward line is capable of providing impressive contested marking with Jackson Callow and Jake Steele named in the key position spots. Steele can also play in defence if the Devils start to get overwhelmed on the scoreboard, while Sam Banks and Will Peppin are future prospects who have shown great signs. The Calder midfield of Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Ned Gentile should take control of the game given their experience, and if they get first use to their forwards nice and quickly, then the Cannons could put up a big score. Tasmania must remain composed and use the ball well to take advantage of their contested marking talls in the forward line if they are to cause an upset in this game.

WESTERN JETS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday August 25, 11.45am
Box Hill City Oval

Down the Eastern Freeway, Western Jets cross the West Gate to play the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Box Hill. Western’s defence has won it games in the past, with Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar, Cody Raak and Josh Kellett a formidable combination, while Emerson Jeka can play there as well. Jeka has been named in attack, no doubt to stretch the Rebels’ defence with the tall utility likely to cause headaches for undersized defenders. Also in attack is competition leading goalscorer Archi Manton, but the Jets have struggled to kick big scorers on a consistent basis, so quick ball movement forward is key, as the likes of Josh Honey and Eddie Ford can run and hit the scoreboard. The Rebels are more than comfortable in a shootout situation, but showed last week they can win in a slog as well, which will be great preparation for this match. Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin and Cooper Craig-Peters is an underrated midfield and capable of producing quick clearances, while Josh Rentsch is already showing signs as a top-end key forward despite being two years away from being drafted. Riley Polkinghonre and Jack Tillig have been consistent players up either end this season, while Toby Mahony adds a touch of class, and Ben Hobbs is a 2021 draft prospect with a high ceiling. The Jets have overage experience in Aaron Clarke and Daly Andrews on their side, while Will Kennedy has been phenomenal in the ruck. He meets Patrick Glanford who averages the second most hitouts behind Kennedy, while James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd have also remained in the team this season as overagers, playing roles up opposite ends of the ground.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 25, 2.15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what could be the match of the round, eighth placed Dandenong Stingrays take on ninth placed Murray Bushrangers in the second game at Box Hill. The Stingrays head into the game on an eight-game losing streak after sitting at a remarkable six wins and a draw from seven games. They have improved the past month, but were overwhelmed by the last placed Falcons in the wet at Bendigo last weekend. With elimination on the line for the reigning premiers, they must pick up if they are to overcome Murray in this match. The Bushrangers were starting to get back to their best before slipping and sliding – literally and figuratively – to a hungry GWV Rebels side in the previous round. The Stingrays still have plenty of match winners with Hayden Young, Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman in the side, and after spending time in the midfield, have been named back in their most dominant positions of half-back and the latter two, half-forward. Lachlan Williams has consistency to build, but as he showed from his three-goal last quarter in Round 17, can pop up and turn a game if it is tight. Murray is usually a strong defensive side, with Liam Fiore and Ethan Baxter able to nullify their direct opponents, as Charlie Byrne and Zavier Maher provide the run and carry out of defence. Sam Durham, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild and Dylan Clarke provide a hard edge to the midfield, while Lachlan Ash is all class and can play anywhere on the ground. Jimmy Boyer and Clayton Gay can play up both ends for their respective sides, while Ben Kelly will try and work over Bigoa Nyuon in the ruck, who will have the athletic advantage in the air. Will Lewis played his first game for the year last week and looked impressive, while Josh Rachele is a Under 16s forward who looms as a top pick in the 2021 draft already.

Bottom-age talent to hit Ikon Park

A DOUBLE header at Ikon Park is exactly what footy fans will be after during the NAB League’s development weekend. The top Victorian Under 17s will go head-to-head against NSW/ACT and Queensland which gives fans of the four AFL clubs with Northern Academies a chance to see them in action. While some players such as Will Phillips and Elijah Hollands are not named, there is still plenty of talent to go around.

VIC COUNTRY vs. NSW/ACT
Sunday August 11, 9.45am
Ikon Park

Vic Country:

1 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power)
2 Deakyn Smith (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels)
4 Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers)
5 Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers)
6 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)
7 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power)
8 Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)
9 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)
10 Clayton Gay (Dandenong Stingrays)
11 Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
12 Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
13 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)
14 Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons)
15 Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
16 Jack Tillig (GWV Rebels)
17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)
18 Max Annadale (Geelong Falcons)
19 Ethan Baxter (Murray Bushrangers)
20 Finn Ellis Castle (Bendigo Pioneers)
21 Kyle Skene (Geelong Falcons)
22 Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)
24 Jai Neal (Dandenong Stingrays)
25 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)
26 Mason Hawkins (Gippsland Power)
27 Keith Robinson (Gippsland Power)

Vic Country’s side has a number of nice developing talls including Bendigo Pioneers’ Josh Treacy up forward and Geelong Falcons’ Cameron Fleeton down back, both of whom have been in good form of late. The defensive lines look strong with the likes of Oliver Henry and Clayton Gay likely to provide plenty of run and carry out of defence with their terrific ball skills, whilst Sam Berry, Charlie Lazzaro and Noah Gadsby provide some fierce tackling pressure.

NSW/ACT Rams:

1 Jackson Tikkeros (Sydney Swans)
2 Cooper Wilson (Sydney Swans)
8 Oscar Davis (Sydney Swans)
9 Taine Wright (Sydney Swans)
10 Matthew Hamblin (GWS GIANTS)
12 Kale Gabila (Sydney Swans)
13 Pierce Roseby (Sydney Swans)
26 Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans)
27 Coopa Steele (GWS GIANTS)
28 Sam Frost (GWS GIANTS)
29 Drew Beavan (GWS GIANTS)
34 Sebastian Quirk (GWS GIANTS)
35 Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS)
36 Maximus Monaghan (GWS GIANTS)
37 Scott Brown (GWS GIANTS)
38 Sam Eynaud (Sydney Swans)
39 Marc Sheather (Sydney Swans)
40 Jack Driscoll (GWS GIANTS)
41 Jarred Gardiner (GWS GIANTS)
43 Aidan Beveridge (Sydney Swans)
## Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans)
## Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans)
## Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

NSW/ACT have named a strong team for the contest, with the bottom three players yet to receive a number the keys to watch. Errol Gulden is the top prospect of this group and has already shown he can match it with top-agers as a great left footer who can win plenty of the pill on the outside and do damage by foot. Braeden Campbell is a dangerous forward who knows where the goals are and can push up the ground, while Charlie Byrne has elite foot skills and can play off half-back or drift forward.

VIC METRO vs. QUEENSLAND
Sunday August 11, 12.15pm
Ikon Park

VIC METRO:

1 Lucas Failli (Western Jets)
2 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons)
3 Eddie Ford (Western Jets)
4 Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
6 Jackson Cardillo (Calder Cannons)
7 Ewan Macpherson (Northern Knigts)
8 Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons)
9 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)
10 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)
11 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)
12 Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
13 Liam Conway (Western Jets)
15 Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
16 Jack Keeping (Calder Cannons)
17 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights)
18 Fraser Elliot (Oakleigh Chargers)
19 Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges)
20 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)
21 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)
23 Joshua Eyre (Calder Cannons)
25 Jack Diedrich (Eastern Ranges)
26 Cody Raak (Western Jets)
27 Joe Nowell (Sandringham Dragons)
29 Campbell Edwardes (Calder Cannons)

X-factor galore in this side, with Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford providing the speed and high-flying marks, while Collingwood Next Generation Academy member Reef McInnes and Wil Parker will be strong through midfield. Ewan Macpherson has provided support up in defence for the Northern Knights, while Lochie Jenkins and Cody Raak are in great form as well. Connor Downie and Finlay Macrae were both named in the Vic Metro squad with Downie getting to run out on the MCG. Also watch for the lightning speed of Joshua Clarke.

QUEENSLAND:

3 Ethan Hunt (Gold Coast Suns)
4 Shatna Cashen-Harris (Brisbane Lions)
5 Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions)
6 Will O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions)
7 James Smith (Gold Coast Suns)
9 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions)
10 Will Tasker (Brisbane Lions)
11 Ky McKenzie (Brisbane Lions)
12 Max Pescud (Gold Coast Suns)
13 Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions)
15 Toby Trffett (Brisbane Lions)
16 Bailey Reeves (Gold Coast Suns)
18 Oliver Rojo (Gold Coast Suns)
20 Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast Suns)
23 Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions)
24 Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions)
26 Alex Davies (Gold Coast Suns)
27 Connor Bulley (Gold Coast Suns)
29 Lleyton Cottrell (Brisbane Lions)
30 Jack Johnston (Gold Coast Suns)
33 Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast Suns)
34 Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast Suns)
35 Ethan Harris (Brisbane Lions)

A squad full of zippy smalls and outside types will make the trip down for Queensland, with each member assigned to either to Gold Coast or Brisbane academies. The likes of Tahj Abberley and Ethan Hunt are likely to run through the midfield, respectively providing class and hardness to the engine room, while Saxon Crozier looks to be a leading prospect who can roam between the flanks. Blake Coleman provides some excitement up forward, with the likes of James Smith and Darcy Prest likely to solidify the half-back line. Another to watch for is Alex Davies, who is a brutish inside midfielder and finds plenty of clearances.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 16

EASTERN Ranges and Geelong Falcons might sit at either end of the NAB League Boys ladder, but both were featured heavily in the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week for Round 16. Both the Ranges and Falcons had a round-high four nominations each in the Team of the Week, while other winners, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Oakleigh Chargers had three players each, as did narrow losers Bendigo Pioneers and Dandenong Stingrays. Tasmania Devils and Western Jets both had two players each in the side to round out the 24-player squad decided over four games.

Geelong Falcons broke through for just their second win of the season, which was led by a number of bottom-agers including Oliver Henry and Cameron Fleeton who held up the defence well down on the Apple Isle. Also returning to the side but having more of a midfield presence was co-captain Jesse Clark who made the side along with overager, Charlie Sprague. At the other end of the table, Eastern secured a narrow win over Dandenong, which was led by captain James Ross who was strong in defence and got forward to boot two goals, as well as Team of the Week regulars Mitch Mellis and Zak Pretty in midfield, and Billy McCormack through the ruck and pushing forward.

Oakleigh Chargers’ Lochlan Jenkins won our Player of the Week for Round 16 and was named in midfield along with teammates Reef McInnes and Vincent Zagari who both impressed, while their opponents Western Jets saw the classy Josh Honey and five-goal forward Archi Manton make Team of the Week this week. Rounding out the back six are Dandenong Stingrays’ duo Clayton Gay and Hayden Young, while Ned Cahill showed impressive signs up forward.

Up at MARS Stadium on Sunday, Jay Rantall was superb again for GWV Rebels through the midfield, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Under 16s key forward Josh Rentsch were also named in our Team of the Week. Bendigo Pioneers had the three players as well in the tight game with Jack Ginnivan making it once again after four goals, while Josh Treacy was strong up forward too, and Aaron Gundry solid through the ruck. Rounding out the team is Tasmania’s Oliver Davis and Sam Banks who were among the best for the Devils in their loss to the Falcons.

NAB League Boys Round 16 wash-up: Three games decided by a combined 16 points

TWENTY-TWO points was the greatest margin in what was, needless to say, a tight round of NAB League action. Oakleigh kicked off the weekend with an impressive second half performance to knock Western off, followed by dramatic low-scoring wins to Geelong and Eastern. The drama continued on Sunday as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) came back from the dead twice to edge home over Bendigo, rounding off a remarkable four games of Under 18S football.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.2 | 4.3 | 10.5 | 12.8 (80)
WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 | 9.4 (58)

GOALS
Oakleigh: N. Stathopoulos 3, A. Tassell 2, C. Sharman 2, A. Lukic 2, J. Lucas, L. Jenkins, S. Seach.
Western: A. Manton 5, B. Cootee 2, S. El-Hawli, D. Andrews

BEST
Oakleigh: L. Jenkins, V. Zagari, R. McInnes, L. Westwood, N. Stathopoulos, J. Lucas.
Western: J. Honey, A. Manton, L. Conway, B. Cootee, S. El-Hawli, K. Crimmins

A barnstorming second half saw Oakleigh get the better of Western and slot into the all-important third place, with all teams bar Tasmania having now played 14 games. The Chargers gave up a six-point half-time lead after heading into the first break with an identical margin to the good, but turned it on in typical Oakleigh fashion to boot six goals to Western’s nil in the third term. While Western managed to claw back a bit of the margin in an improved final quarter, it was to no avail as Oakleigh held firm despite missing both of its co-captains. Chargers midfielder Lochlan Jenkins was the standout with 35 disposals, 10 inside 50s and a goal, backed by fellow bottom-age ball finder Reef McInnes (28 disposals, seven marks, nine tackles). Over-ager Jeromy Lucas (26 disposals, six tackles) was another to stand up with some of the Chargers’ guns absent, while Nicholas Stathopoulos was efficient in front of goal to prize three goals from seven disposals and Cooper Sharman (10 disposals, 2.1) continues to excite. For the Jets, Archi Manton was just as economical with 5.1 from seven kicks to do most of the damage as his side’s only multiple goal kicker, but Josh Honey was named best for his 24-disposal effort. Over-ager Daly Andrews (23 disposals) keeps on finding the ball, with returning defensive duo Lucas Rocci and Josh Kellett doing the same and bottom-ager Billy Cootee booting a couple of handy goals. Both sides are set to play their final regular season games in the Avalon Airport Oval triple-header, with Western opening the show against Northern and Oakleigh closing it in a mouth-watering clash with Sandringham.

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.4 | 2.5 | 4.11 | 6.13 (49)
GEELONG FALCONS 3.1 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS
Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Rand, P. Walker, J. Callow, J. Menzie.
Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Annandale 2, C. Seymour, J. Clark, A. Hildebrandt

BEST:
Tasmania: O. Davis, J. Rand, S. Banks, O. Shaw, J. Lane.
Geelong: O. Henry, C. Sprague, C. Fleeton, J. Clark, N. Gribble, H. Whyte

It was tough going, but Geelong finally managed to stand up in the final term and record its second win for the year, scraping past Tasmania to win by seven points on enemy territory. The game came to life in the final term after the Devils cut Geelong’s 17-point half time margin to just one heading into the last turn, with a heated scuffle ensuing at three-quarter time. It all looked like unravelling as Tasmania got on top early in the final period, but a strong final five minutes and clutch goals to Max Annandale and Chris Seymour got the Falcons home. There were plenty of standouts despite it being a bottom-two clash, with bottom-agers Oliver Henry and Oliver Davis clearly best for their respective sides. Henry reverted back to a defensive role, dominating in the air to pull down 11 marks, while Davis was relentless through midfield with 23 disposals and 10 tackles. Cameron Fleeton (21 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) complimented Henry well down back while keeping Jackson Callow to eight disposals and one goal, with skipper Jesse Clark (21 disposals, eight tackles, one goal) enjoying some midfield time and Charlie Sprague dangerous up forward with 3.2. For the Devils, Matt McGuinness continued his consistent form with 20 disposals and eight rebound 50s, while Jack Rand (16 disposals, 2.1) was good in just his second game and 16-year-old Sam Banks (14 disposals) also impressed. While the Devils can enjoy a week off, Geelong will look to finish its regular season strongly despite being cemented to last spot as it meets Dandenong in Round 17.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 0.5 | 2.5 | 5.5 | 6.5 (41)
EASTERN RANGES 1.5 | 1.6 | 4.10 | 5.16 (46)

GOALS
Dandenong: E. Cahill 2, C. Ellison 2, J. Nanscawen, W. Howe
Eastern: J. Ross 2, B. Hickleton, H. Keeling, M. Brown

BEST
Dandenong: C. Gay, H. Young, B. Nyuon, N. Heath, J. Nanscawen, E. Cahill
Eastern: J. Ross, M. Mellis, J. Nathan, T. Garner, B. McCormack, T. Sonsie

Dandenong fell agonisingly short of snapping its seven-game losing streak, going down by five points to ladder leaders Eastern at Shepley Oval. Six straight goals after quarter time was not quite enough to account for a wasteful 0.5 opening, with the equally wayward Ranges getting over the line after scrounging five behinds in the final 15 minutes to crawl to victory. It was the top-end talent of Dandenong that saw it draw close, with Hayden Young continuing his fine form to collect 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s, while Ned Cahill booted two goals from 18 touches, and Bigoa Nyuon was prominent in the air with 20 hitouts and seven marks. Despite their efforts, bottom-ager Clayton Gay (15 disposals, six marks, six tackles, six rebound 50s) was named the Stingrays’ best in a well-rounded performance, with Jack Toner (27 disposals) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. For the Ranges, who have now locked in top spot due to a sizeable percentage, skipper James Ross was terrific in a role further afield – collecting 20 disposals, taking seven marks and kicking two goals. Zak Pretty (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (24) found plenty of the pill, while consistent tall Billy McCormack (20 disposals, 22 hitouts) proving just that and 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie (20 disposals, five marks, six tackles) acclimatising nicely to the level. With first place all but nailed down, the Ranges move on to face Calder in the ultimate round, while Dandenong will eye off a win heading into Wildcard Round when it meets Geelong to end the regular season.

GWV REBELS 3.2 | 3.3 | 9.7 | 13.11 (89)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.2 | 8.2 | 10.4 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS
GWV: I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rentsch 2, J. Rantall 2, F. Marris, M. Martin, M. Herbert, B. Hobbs, M. Jorgensen
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 4, W. Wallace 2, J. Treacy 2, A. Gundry, S. O’Farrell, J. Evans, B. Worme, B. Rowles

BEST
GWV: J. Rantall, C. Craig-Peters, T. Mahony, I. Grant, J. Rentsch, P. Glanford
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan, J. Treacy, A. Gundry, J. Schischka, J. Evans, B. Worme

By: Cam Ross

The Bendigo Pioneers travelled to MARS stadium on Sunday for the battle of the two central Victorian teams.
The first quarter saw both sides wanting to play a free-flowing game. Pioneers midfield took advantage and Riley Wilson and Josh Treacy were really important. The highlight of the first quarter was Treacy’s brilliant running goal from inside the centre square. Two goals late, one with a lucky bounce for Ben Hobbs and a delightful finish on the run from Matty Lloyd looked to be enough to give the Rebels a lead into quarter time, but the red hot Treacy won the free kick with a nice tackle, and converted the set shot to keep the scores locked at 20 at the first break.

The Pioneers started the second where they left off in the first with Aaron Gundry converting after a nice pack mark in front of goal, and within a minute, some poor discipline from the Rebels cost them again and the Pioneers got a 50 metre penalty, putting them in the square again. The Rebels needed to respond around the ball, and with gun onballer Jay Rantall being closely checked it was up to Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony to attempt to have more of an impact. The Pioneers simply kept on winning the stoppages, and kicked six straight goals, meaning that a six-point Rebels lead at the 23-minute mark of the first quickly became a 29-point deficit half way through the second. Jed Hill and Rantall (around the ground) were winning enough ball for the Rebels, but didn’t have many helpers in the first half. The Rebels couldn’t kick one major in the second term and were crippled by their ineffectiveness to move the ball inside 50. The Pioneers on the other hand were sensational. Their five straight goals in the second, meant they were able to capitalise on their midfield dominance and really put it on the scoreboard.

The Rebels needed a spark to start the second half, and when Josh Rentsch was finally was on the end of some decent service to start the third quarter, the Rebels looked to get the start they needed. He missed this shot, but the ball was locked in the forward line, and then Lloyd gave them that early goal. Rantall’s following goal was one for the highlight reels. The Rebels gun took the ball on the wing, hit the leading target, receiving the ball back for a delightful finish on the run. Rantall’s dominance at start of the quarter continued, winning a free kick, bounding away and kicking long to a contest where naturally gifted forward Martin finished the job. The Rebels kicked three straight goals early in the third to drag themselves back into the contest. The Rebels completely dominated the third term, being first to the footy, and remarkably turned around the deficit inside 15 minutes. However, The Pioneers finished the term well and took a three-point lead into the final change.

The Pio’s Jack Ginnivan took full advantage of a questionable free kick two minutes into the final term, giving the Pioneers a dream start. The Pioneers began to win a lot more of the ball around the ground, and as they had all day, the Pioneers forwards were taking their presented opportunities. When Ben Worme kicked a delightful set shot, the margin drifted out to 16 points. After this, and the Pioneers put cruise control on late in the game, and three goals from Mitchell Jorgensen, Izaac Grant and Rentsch made it a one point game in the blink of an eye and when Grant kicked his second goal in five minutes the Rebels had amazingly taken the lead. With only seconds remaining, the ever reliable James Schischka, intercepted the ball off the Rebels rebound, and quickly put on the boot where it magically ended up in the hands of Noah Walsh. The Pioneers forward unfortunately missed the goal on the siren, leaving the Rebels as four-point victors. Rantall was best for the home side, while Treacy and Schischka played well for the Pioneers in extremely entertaining contest where both sides deserved to win.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 12

IN a Draft Central first, the Round 12 NAB League Boys Team of the Week featured two players from the 12 sides across the competition in the 24-player squad. The Round which was split over two weekends – was completed on the weekend with Eastern Ranges defeating Tasmania Devils. The other five games were played the weekend prior to Round 13 last weekend, with no one scoring more than 60 points in a rain-affected round.

In the standalone game on the weekend, Eastern Ranges’ Mitch Mellis continued his terrific season with a spot in the team, joined by ruck Billy McCormack who can spend time up forward. Also in the forward line is Tasmania’s Jackson Callow and up the other end, his teammate Matt McGuinness, both of whom make the team once again. Speaking of regulars in the Team of the Week, Western Jets’ captain Lucas Rocci has become a lock in the back pocket over the past couple of months, making the side with Josh Kellett. Their opponents Calder Cannons had Sam Ramsay make the team on the wing, whilst Ben Overman was impressive in the back half.

The double header at Shepley Oval resulted in eight players making the side, with Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels duo Mitch Martin and Mitchell Burgess making the side up either end on flanks, while Clayton Gay and Max Gregory worked hard in the Dandenong Stingrays’ loss and made the side. In the ohter game, Sam Berry was sensational with 18 tackles from 20 touches and three goals for Gippsland Power, joined in the side by teammate Tye Hourigan. Their opponents Geelong Falcons had ruck Henry Walsh, and tireless midfielder Charlie Lazzaro make the side – the latter was the only player to pick up more than four touches in the final term (eight) when they were overran by the Power.

In the other two games, Murray Bushrangers’ Jye Chalcraft slotted into the team after he earned the Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 12, joined by overager Zane Barzen in the side. Their opponents were Bendigo Pioneers, as James Schischka was named on half-back and Ben Worme on a wing. In the all-metropolitan battle, Oakleigh Chargers’ Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booted three goals and fits into the forward line, with Reef McInnes also making the team. Sandringham Dragons’ Hugo Ralphsmith and Will Mackay round out the Team of the Week for Round 12.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 13

IN Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition there were plenty of individual standouts as Vic Metro players made their way back into their respective squads. Our writers took a look at a number of Victorian and Allies-based squad members, as well as some impressive bottom-agers. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writers.

Western Jets vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham:

#4 Finn Maginness

Maginness was a class act through the midfield moving well through congestion and showing great composure with ball in hand. Maginness was a consistent player throughout the day and even managed to hit the scoreboard with a goal in the second quarter from a set shot and almost kicked a second in the last quarter from another set shot. Maginness hardly put a foot wrong all day finishing the game with 24 disposals and eight tackles.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The Sandringham captain lead from the front with a strong performance through the midfield winning plenty of clearances and showing his breakaway speed from stoppages. Byrnes had a stronger first half than second but was still a consistently good player in and around the contest going in hard to extract the ball time and time again. He managed to hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a nice goal on the run to complete his game finishing with 28 disposals and five tackles.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith showed his usual craftiness when forward kicking two goals. He put out another solid game but was unable to have an impact for a full four quarters. Ralphsmith impressed with his defensive side of the game with some good chases. His two goals both came from set shots with the best one coming after a nice intercept mark in the forward 50. Ralphsmith was a big part of the late attempted comeback providing a lot of run with a great dash on the wing and kick inside 50 that really caught the eye and he took a courageous intercept mark as well. He was quick to play on to give his side the best chance of making a comeback finishing the game with 16 disposals and six inside 50s.

#12 Charlie Dean

Dean was the focal point up forward but his impact up forward still has not reached the heights of his early season form and that trend continued against the Jets but his last quarter showed that it may soon click for him again. Dean kicked both of his goals in the last quarter one from a strong contested mark and the other a set shot after a 50m penalty. He had another shot at goal with a snap that bounced over the boundary. He was lined up on talented Jets player Emerson Jeka which was a great one on one battle in the last quarter. Dean finished the game with 10 disposals half resulting in scores finishing with 2.3.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler showcased his usual dash from defence but was moved onto a wing in the third quarter where he looked more dangerous and natural. Butler was his usual self rebounding from defence in the first half and was the leading disposal winner in the first quarter with nine. He only had the three in the third quarter playing on the wing but he looked dangerous just missing a snap on goal and also spinning out of trouble nicely in a contest showing his nous under pressure. He was moved back to defence in the last quarter and saved a certain goal with a good chase down tackle, Butler finished the game with 23 disposals and five rebounds.

Western

#3 Eddie Ford

Ford was again his usual self in the forward line showing his dynamic and smart play style. Ford was busiest in the first half with two consistent quarters getting involved and using the ball well, he showed his defensive work with a good punch to the boundary. Ford finished the game with 12 disposals.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Jeka was tried in a new role in defence for the Jets and despite a few errors it looks like a move worth persisting with both for Jeka and the Jets. Jeka looked composed early on using the ball well in defence. He took a nice contested mark and a good intercept mark although what would follow the intercept was a stray kick that went out on the full. He had a quiet third quarter but finished the game nicely with a strong contested mark against Charlie Dean, Jeka finished with 12 disposals and six marks.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey had a quiet start to the game but worked into the game and played an important part in the Jets getting the jump on Sandringham in the second and third quarters. Honey also looked dangerous again in the last quarter especially up forward showing his explosiveness and evasiveness to take the tacklers on and proved hard to stop when up and running. Honey finished the game with 18 disposals and five marks to be one of the Jets better and more dangerous players.

Gippsland Power vs. Northern Knights
By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland:

#7 Sam Berry

A typically tough, in and under day for the bottom age midfielder. Starting at the centre bounces, Berry got involved inside 50 during the first term with a nice goal assist to Tom Fitzpatrick by hand. He got busier through the midfield in the second quarter, somehow stealing a clearance seemingly straight out of the hands of an opponent before sending the ball forward. His possessions were heavy, which occasionally lead to him rushing the ball forward and producing some messy disposals. He fought hard though and was one of Gippsland better players, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly played a more outside orientated game this week, generally starting on the wing and getting involved in multiple link up plays to have some high metre gained moments. He still attacked the hard ball when it was his turn though, winning a clean clearance in the first term with fast hands. Connolly often found himself in a position to feed the ball inside 50 and he hit some brilliant targets. One play in particular stood out during the third term, producing a pin point pass on his left foot inside 50 before he continued on running to provide a target about 30 metres out. He got the ball back, but just tried to do too much by playing on and rushing the shot. He had a solid day, finishing with 18 disposals.

#19 Fraser Phillips

It was a bit of an “almost moments” day for Phillips, who returned to Power this week after missing selection for Vic Country’s final game at Marvel Stadium. There were times when he looked on the brink of putting his mark on the game, but the ball didn’t quite fall his way. He still had some nice moments, including an unselfish goal assist in the first term and some class hits inside 50. In one play he side stepped and turned to create enough room, before producing a lovely weighted ball to the advantage of Baldi inside 50 for a goal assist. Only the second time he has been held goalless at NAB League level this season, but he’ll bounce back.

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

In his first game back from Vic Metro duties, the electrifying wingman had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. He was especially prolific early, winning nine possessions in the first term where he had multiple fast moments with ball in hand. Potter just goes at 100% at every opportunity, which at times can produce a turnover, but he had far more good than bad moments on Saturday. A brilliant bouncing run through the middle of the ground in the third term got the ball inside 50 so quickly that the Gippsland defence was almost caught stagnant as he hit a teammate in space. He appeared from nowhere at the top of the goal square after accelerating while the ball was in the air to kick an easy goal. Apart from giving away an off the ball free kick at one stage, it was an exciting performance by the speedster to finish with 23 disposals.

#4 Jackson Davies

Davies was the most influential player on the ground for mine. The Knights skipper was completely in control behind the play, making composed decisions, using the ball brilliantly and intercepting seemingly everything. He read the play better than anyone else on the ground, highlighted by a superb flying one handed intercept “specky” in the defensive 50 earlier in the game. Even ground balls he mopped up with ease and his offensive running packed a punch. He also took the kick outs and looked to create a scoring chain on most occasions. First time I’ve seen him live and I must admit he exceeded my expectations with 23 eye catching touches.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante was another one of the Knight’s stars to have a large impact on this game, kicking four really smart goals in a near flawless display up forward. I loved his first goal, giving a look-away handball to Potter, before running hard inside 50 space to receive the ball for a set shot goal. He then exploded back into the game during the second quarter, kicking two goals in a minute from brilliantly read crumbs off the pack and finished both with excellent snaps. He kicked a fourth goal in the third while under a fair bit of heat, finding just enough space to connect a nicely executed drop punt through the sticks. He didn’t win mountains of the footy and was pretty well held after his fourth goal, but ensured every touch counted.

#8 Adam Carafa

Does not play too many bad games this fellow, and Saturday was no exception for the Vic Metro midfielder. He started the game hot, getting his hands on the footy first at the stoppages and winning 11 first term possessions. If the ball was in dispute, he just came out of the contest with it in his hands, highlighted by a pressure gather and release deep in defensive 50 early in the game. Carafa then found himself at the offensive end of the ground, striking a lovely goal from approximately the 50 metre line. He was consistently involved throughout the day, creating space or on the odd occasion he couldn’t, holding strong in a tackle and releasing calmly to a nearby teammate. It was a good outing, finishing with 28 no fuss touches.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Another Vic Metro representative to return to the Knights fold, but in a position that is a little less familiar to the behind the play roles we’ve seen in recent times. Sturgess basically played as a lead up full forward type and did so successfully too. While he didn’t win heaps of the footy, particularly in the first three quarters, he had a genuine presence when leading up to the ball. He took seven marks, the best coming deep inside 50 during the second term where he extended the arms to take a strong contested overhead effort. He got more involved in the final term, executing lovely passes to Cox and Brazier. More importantly, he consistently hit the scoreboard throughout the afternoon to kick a respectable three goals, two behinds.

#23 Nikolas Cox

This kid has some exciting attributes. It was no surprise to see the 197cm bottom ager play for Vic Metro at the Championships, the talent is there for all to see. He is almost freakishly clean for his size at ground and possesses a left foot that any 180cm footballer would be proud of. He fights at ground level, winning a holding the ball free kick in the second quarter before hitting Brazier lace out inside 50. Then there is the aerial stuff, where he took a fantastic flying mark on the wing in the fourth term. Then there was evidence of work rate, running hard inside 50 to get the ball back on the lead only moments later. From a tight angle he hit the post, but it was a fluent and really well struck kick that was unlucky to miss. He moves with a bit style and is a player that everyone should be keeping tabs on over the next 18 months.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#1 Will Christie

The big man impressed throughout the ruck, but it was his work around the ground that was arguably the best of the year for him. His second efforts, tackling and presenting as an option in all thirds of the ground was a highlight. He spent time in defence early taking a number of grabs floating across the pack, and then had a nice piece of play in the second term, scooping the ball up at ground level, turning and firing off a quick handball to the appropriate teammate free on the outside. He showed good intent throughout the four quarters, even if he did give away a couple of free kicks. He had superb run-down tackle on Lachlan Stapleton in the third term at half-back when he blindsided him, and got the ball moving for a scoring opportunity. Christie had a number of inside 50s in the final term but could not quite find a target, but overall had an impressive game.

#6 Will Chandler

Played at both ends during the game, taking a good mark in the first term flying in from the side, then converting the set shot from 40m out. He was sent back to defence where he did not win as much of the ball, but he produced a nice spoil in the third term to punch it out of bounds. His hard running in the final quarter saw him receive the handball and run inside 50 but his kick was spoiled on the line by defenders. Chandler finished the game with a terrific tackle at half-forward to lock the ball in deep in the final term.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Had another big game backing up last week and most of the season, winning a heap of it in the opening few minutes. He consistently used quick hands to try and clear it from congestion, with it working most of the time, but it did force some turnovers. He managed to get higher than his opponents and fire out handballs over the top of the stoppage to the area of where his teammates would run to try and open up play. Chalcraft had a couple of burst moments to break up the game, and won a couple of free kicks for going in hard, whilst also giving the odd one away. In the third term he found Hudson Kaak after dancing one way and then another to an opponent inside 50. In the final term he won an important contest at half-forward, wrestling the ball out, winning a free but his teammates chose to play on, kick quickly and Eastern won the football back.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Again played up forward in a different role to his running half-back/wing that he might be accustomed to, and it only took 25 seconds to look like a move of genius. Boyer read the ball off the marking contest from the first clearance, pounced and kicked a goal for the first of the game. In the second term he marked right on the line, nearly played on and slipped over but was given benefit of the doubt and he went back, snapped around his body and kicked truly. His third game early in the third term when he pounced on a ball which spilled out of a stoppage via a Jye Chalcraft handball and kicked a goal. In the final term he came close to being the difference by presenting, but a number of inside 50s went just out of his reach. He had a nice turning circle at one stage to kick to a dangerous area, and a late set shot just went across the face.

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Played a really underrated role in the midfield and was often the one picking up the loose ball and firing out a handball to his fellow midfielders. Stapleton worked really well in tandem with Mitch Mellis and Zak Pretty in midfield, and laid some fierce tackles as we have become accustomed to him doing. Showed great hands under pressure at half-forward to give off to a teammate in the third term enabling him to kick inside 50, and then timed a handball perfectly to Mellis in the last quarter to deliver an important ball inside 50. His tackling was the standout area for the game.

#11 Mitch Mellis

The most prominent Ranges player on the ground, Mellis had a typical ball-winning performance and kept running for four quarters. He started the game with a strong mark under duress at half-back and booted a superb running goal in the opening term when he ran hard, did not receive it at first and kept running, got the quick handball off Jamieson Rossiter and ran inside 50 not breaking stride for a goal. At one stage in the second term he got knocked over on the wing, bounced straight back up and got into a bit of argy bargy with Jye Chalcraft and won a free for the exchange. Mellis kicked his second goal late in the second quarter with a dribbler inside 50 that got a kind bounce and went through capping off a massive first half of about 15 touches and two goals. He kept buzzing around in the second half and produced a nice delivery to a teammate inside 50 at full speed in the final term and then broke the lines through a one-two handball and then kick following a mark from a kick out.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Worked hard up the ground in the win and kept presenting all day. He showed great hands and smarts to give a lightning quick handball to Mitch Mellis to set up his first goal, then won a huge contested ball, ripping it from an opponent and hand balling to a teammate, then winning it back and kicking to a dangerous position to set up another major. He marked well under pressure as well as pushing up to the wing on long leads. He positioned himself appropriately in marking contests, and was unlucky not to mark at the top of the square when it was not paid in the second term.

#23 Zak Pretty

Won most of his possessions at the coal face and was often diving into the pack to knock the ball clear or handball out to a teammate in space. He has very quick hands and is not afraid to tackle bigger bodied players, which he did on a number of occasions. Pretty applies pressure on the ball carrier which worked well in the third term to force a dropped mark at half-forward, and also took a nice intercept mark around the same area. Did not rack up the big numbers he has at times this season, but was prominent in other ways throughout the game.

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#3 Jackson Cardillo

The bottom-ager was persistent when running through midfield, while also proving lively when resting forward. Had an indifferent start with a turnover by hand, but warmed to the contest by standing up in tackles and busting his way through congestion. Cardillo’s ability to constantly find the ball at stoppages was promising, and he was hardly caught as he shovelled it out quickly (17 handballs/27 disposals) or broke the first tackle. His reading of the taps almost ended in a goal from a forward stoppage, but he unfortunately sprayed it out on the full. Cardillo eventually found that finish product with a goal in the second term, and a neat pass to find Jeremy O’Sullivan inside 50 later on.

#5 Curtis Brown

It was a typical game from Brown, who used his piercing left boot to penetrate off half back. He combined his easy-out via foot with some good moments in the air – drifting in inside defensive 50 and backing back to impact high balls. Brown took the risky option on many occasions in looking to switch the play and when it came off, it showed he can truly be a weapon in his position. His metres-gained kind of play often starts from the kick-ins too, with Brown pushing hard to find space and become the next option.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay is really growing into the midfield craft, attending the majority of centre bounces and collecting a game-high 32 disposals. Coming off an outside base, Ramsay is accustomed to staying on the move and he did so well to wheel around when he found the ball at stoppages. When he wasn’t slamming the ball forward by foot, Ramsay flicked out quick handballs to mixed effect, showing he still has areas to sharpen up. His best traits are easily seen in time and space, with pace to burn and the dare to move past opponents – as he did in the third and final terms. May move back onto the outside when Daniel Mott slots back in, but has shown his ability in both areas.

#26 Mason Fletcher

It seems as if Fletcher is starting to put the pieces together, and he looked ominous up forward in this game with four goals. Donning the long sleeves, Fletcher timed his leads really smartly from deep inside the 50 but didn’t always get reward for his efforts. He proved his ability to read the ball in flight down back, and did the same up forward here to mark over the back of an opponent who had committed in the third term. Fletcher also took a big pack mark in the following quarter and converted his third goal from the resultant kick, adding a fourth soon after. Hopefully he can get some consistency going.

#29 Campbell Edwardes

The bottom-ager is by no means a high accumulator, but just seemed to ooze class with every touch. He is that in-between kind of size and tends to play above his height across half back, but is so good at ground level as well. He started with a clean gather and kick on his left to clear the danger on defensive wing, and continued to sweep it up at speed throughout the game in impressive fashion. His ground work also translated into a pressure game, preventing two Ashton Williamson shots on goal with strength in the first and third terms. Edwardes also went on to show his prowess in the air, positioning well one-on-one and clunking a big mark in defensive 50 late on. One to watch.

#60 Samuel Paea

Paea was a surprise packet, quiet early but popping up in spurts. He had a good one on one win in the air against Clayton Gay, then backed it up with another in the second term, and continued to clunk them around the ground with clean hands. Is so strong in that area, but looked a little more iffy at ground level. Managed to hit the scoreboard with two goals in the final term with a neat snap and set shot conversion during Calder’s onslaught.

Dandenong:

#10 Clayton Gay

Not a massive game from Gay, who was employed at both ends of the ground. Starting down back, the bottom-ager looked to move the ball on quickly when in possession and even took on a couple of kick-ins. Gay almost made an immediate impact when thrust forward after half time, smashing a shot into the post from close range. He had another indifferent moment when shepherding a Lachlan Williams shot on the line, but bounced back with a mark up into the corridor and one down low inside 50. The resultant shot led to a Will Howe goal, and Gay constantly looked to move the ball on up forward.

#50 Lachlan Williams

The Country representative was one of Dandenong’s better players on the day, starting brightly down back with some dash. He did not have a heap of the ball early but showed glimpses with darting runs and clean delivery by foot. Once he was moved up the ground and into the midfield, Williams had a chance on goal that was touched in the goalsquare. While he couldn’t always get his usual running game going, the top-ager would be a scary proposition bursting from the centre bounce stoppages. Williams’ pressure without the ball was also handy, but he looked most effective when kicking inboard or through the corridor. Williams’ overhead marking was another solid part of his game, snapping up a couple of strong grabs in the third term to show off some versatility.

#51 Ashton Williamson

The bottom-age forward booted three of his side’s five majors, proving efficient inside 50. He made himself busy inside 50, zipping around and finding space to become an option. His first goal was also the Stingray’s opener, and he followed it up with a second in the next quarter as his set shot just scraped through. Williamson’s third goal was much of the same, and his simple game was highly effective.

Tasmania Devils vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Scott Dougan

Tasmania:

#3 Ollie Davis

Davis was always applying pressure around the contest, especially in tight where he would lay some strong tackles in the opening quarter. He was prolific on the inside when he was on his hands and knees doing his best to collect the contested ground ball. Davis was able to fill the hole a number of times down back where he took some intercept marks. His positive performance was nearly topped off with a running shot on goal from 50 metres that fell just short in the third quarter. Davis had 19 disposals, six inside 50s and five tackles.

#4 Will Peppin

Peppin was involved in the first scoring play of the day for the Devils, delivering a ball deep inside 50 that resulted in a mark and goal to teammate Jordan Lane. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when tucked the ball under his arm and sprinted away from his opponent, running at least a further 20-25 metres before finding a target in the middle of the ground by foot. Peppin nearly kicked a ripper of goal from the forward pocket after using his speed to break away from his opponent in the fourth quarter but his shot was pushed wide.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness had the ball on a string all day. He found plenty of space, was composed with ball in hand and made sure he took his time before making a decision by foot. He took some really nice intercept possessions that caught the eye. McGuinness has fantastic reach and was able to take plenty of marks at the highest point. He was able to provide his team with plenty of drive out of the back half and even showcased his defensive spoiling at times. A very good performance, which was capped off with 34 disposals and eight marks.

#13 Sam Collins

Collins would take plenty of intercept marks in the defence on the day, positioning himself perfectly in front of his opponents. He worked hard into space to make himself an option for his teammates when trying to provide some run out of the defensive 50. At times, he was the last man in defence and didn’t crack under pressure, applying some defensive spoils that resulted in only minor or no score for the Pioneers. A rock down back with eight rebound 50s.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow competed fiercely in the air in the first quarter but was unable to get his hands on the ball. He came to life late in the second term when he took a mark on the goal line and easily booted it through the big sticks for his first major. Callow got more involved as the game went on and in the third term, he took a couple of contested marks, along with some marks on the lead in the forward 50. He kicked his second goal in the final minute of the third term after clunking a tough grab on the lead. Callow ended up having a pretty imposing game after finding it difficult to get involved early on. He finished with two goals and 18 disposals.

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

Conforti was clean at ground level, gathering the loose ball and disposing of it by hand to a teammate on the outside. He laid a very impressive tackle in the third quarter and was given a free-kick. The passage of play didn’t result in a score for his team, but it was great to see his defensive efforts were rewarded. His fourth quarter was probably his best for the day, catching the eye when he drove the ball deep inside 50 to teammate Jack Ginnivan who goaled, putting the Pioneers up by five goals. He finished with 24 disposals and three tackles.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme found a bit of the ball across half-back and the wing. He was effective by hand and did the little things well, such as shepherding. He rarely fumbled and that was evident in the third term when he collected a front and centre crumb after the ball fell to ground from a marking contest down back. Occasionally, Worme was able to use his speed to weave through traffic before disposing of the ball successfully.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka was pretty dependable with ball in hand. He always found plenty of space, which gave him time to make the correct decisions. He spent the majority of the game playing across half-back, putting his raking right foot to good use. Schischka had a mammoth third term, gathering plenty of uncontested disposals around the ground and was one of the reasons for the Pioneers’ dominance. He accumulated 24 disposals (15 kicks) and six marks.

Geelong Falcons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Joe Lee

Oakleigh:

#23 Dylan Williams

The medium forward played a starring role, slotting five majors from nine disposals. His first goal came within the first minute of the game, snagging a classy goal on his trusty left boot from a tight angle. Was a consistent threat and is tough to match up on given his awkward size. Is very mobile and smart around goals, Williams positions himself very well. Slotted two goals in the first and two in the last and was a consistent presence up forward.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

The Oakleigh big man continued his recent form with a bag of four goals in another impressive athletic display. Finished with 10 touches to go with his haul of four, Ugle-Hagan was outstanding for the Chargers. Also had six marks and is piecing together a couple of fine weeks in attack for Oakleigh. Did miss a very gettable set shot early that would’ve given him five for the day but slotted a goal a minute later from the exact same spot to make up for it. Played a starring last quarter, bagging two goals and threatening to bring the margin out to triple figures.

#39 Reef McInnes

McInnes was dominant for the Chargers, highlighted by his two goals, 29 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s. The impressive display was a testimony to McInnes improved recent form and he was the best midfielder on the ground. With his draft stocks rising after outings such as the weekend, McInnes is one to keep an eye on for next year.

#73 Cooper Sharman

The tall forward slotted two goals from eight touches that included five marks. Took a nice contested grab early in the second, going back and converting the simple set shot with his sound shot for goal technique. Is a tantalising prospect given his size and athletic traits and did his draft chances so harm with his performance. Could win more of the ball around the ground but has only played two NAB League games this year. Nailed a crucial set shot from 45 metres out when Geelong was lifting, highlighting his class, poise and polish.

Geelong Falcons:

#36 Charlie Sprague

The Geelong over-ager played a lone hand up forward in trying conditions, slotting three goals from 12 possessions. Played as a key forward and used his strong frame to great effect. Was a reasonably quiet in the first half but came to life in the second, bagging most of his goals and providing a few headaches for Oakleigh defenders. Took a strong one on one contested mark in the second quarter and slotted the shot on goal.

#37 Oscar Henry

The athletic forward worked hard but was largely ineffectual in a tough day for Geelong forwards. Had to work up the ground for his kicks, finishing with a goal, nine touches and six marks. Did take some nice marks on the lead but was often on the wing or half-back line rather than his usual dangerous self inside 50. Had a really strong first quarter but drifted out of the game. Could’ve had two goals but was run down in the goal square after taking a courageous mark back with the flight.

#46 Henry Walsh

The Geelong ruckman was serviceable for his side, winning 26 hit outs and 11 disposals, showcasing his improved ability and impact around the ground. Walsh won a number of taps to advantage and was able to out-body and outmuscle Tom Graham due to his taller figure. Had a moment to forget in the second, handballing it to a teammate in trouble after a free kick which did show he has to work on his decision making and footy smarts.