Tag: Cody Hirst

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 5 – Dragons, Ranges humble Academies to go top

ROUND 5 of the 2019 NAB League season saw the Victorian mainstays peg back their Northern visitors in an action packed nine-game weekend. Sandringham and Eastern delivered big wins over the two Queensland academies at Trevor Barker Oval, while the Sydney Academy won strongly to remain undefeated alongside Dandenong (3-0-1).

But first to take the field were the Bendigo Pioneers and Northern Knights at Queen Elizabeth Oval, with the visitors taking four points back to Preston after trailing at every other break. After streaming ahead by 17 points at half-time with double the goal tally, the Pioneers ran out of legs to be held to just one major in the second half as the Knights snuck ahead to come away five-point victors.

As was a theme in Round 5, both sides were weakened but had some solid talent running around from each age bracket. Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier had plenty of the ball while also hitting the scoreboard, while Lachlan Potter created some zip on the outside. Top-age Pioneers James Schischka, Ben Worme, and Logan Fitzgerald all had 25 touches, while bottom-age jet Jack Ginnivan showed promise with 20 and a goal.

Sam Philp was the best ball winner of the 2019 draftees, earning 17 touches for Northern, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles had just 11 as he popped up in spurts. Ryan Sturgess, who almost joined Philp at the Blues as a supplementary top-up, was also impressive with 21 disposals and seven marks.

Saturday’s first game opened a Blacktown double-header as the Swans Academy accounted for Murray in a close encounter to move to equal-first. The Sydneysiders shot out of the blocks with five goals to nil to open the match, adding another four in the second term to lead by six goals at half time. Although they fared much better in the second half, the Bushrangers could not fully recover the deficit and went down by 24 points.

Sydney over-ager Kyle Martin led all comers with 29 disposals, just one touch ahead of Bushrangers runner Cam Wild (28, one goal). Dylan Clarke also led the way for Murray with 23 disposals, with Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Sam Durham all also ticking over the 20-mark. Max Geddes (23 disposals) was also influential for the Swans, but it was big man Hamish Ellem who stole the show with 22 disposals, nine marks, and 3.3 in a performance which went a long way to securing him an Allies berth.

The GWS Academy was next up on its home turf against another Victorian country side in Gippsland, only it could not repeat the feats of its New South Wales rival. The GIANTS trailed at every break but brought the contest to the highly-fancied Power, getting within a single point at three-quarter time before falling by nine points.

Harry Grant had an outstanding game for GWS, booting two goals from his game-high 31 disposals, while Oakleigh squad member Jeromy Lucas had 24 touches and newly-transferred Northern Knight Liam Delahunty booted two goals. But a talent rich Gippsland unit was led well by Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Hawthorn rookie Harrison Pepper (26 disposals, one goal), with Riley Baldi also stepping up through midfield. Draftees Kyle Dunkley, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben were also in action for the Power.

Skipping back, and Dandenong extended its unbeaten start to the season with a huge win over Oakleigh on home turf. After a tight opener, the Stingrays played the conditions perfectly to pile on eight goals in the second term, and seven in the last to storm away 70-point victors with 11 individual goalkickers.

Lachlan Williams and Ned Cahill slotted three majors each for the winners, while bottom-ager Will Bravo slotted two and Richmond recruit Bigoa Nyuon managed one from 17 touches. Cahill was the leading disposal getter with 29, while Joe Ayton-Delaney, Lochlan Jenkins, and Trent Bianco all managed 24 for the Chargers. Port draftee Dylan Williams went goalless in a different role, while Gold Coast mid-season recruit Mitch Riordan had 15 touches and Melbourne rookie Austin Bradtke had just eight disposals and a goal.

Saturday’s other double-header began with Sandringham thumping the Brisbane Lions Academy by 97 points on home turf. The Lions had won just one game to that point, and were in for more immediate pain as the Dragons helped themselves to 13 first half goals while holding the visitors to one. There was no way back from there, with Sandringham coasting to victory.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn was one of the sole Lions to stand up all day, collecting a game-high 31 touches while fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland was kept to just nine. Louis Butler and Ryan Byrnes strutted their stuff for the Dragons to win plenty of the ball, while Miles Bergman started to get into his stride with 17 touches, Jack Bell impressed with two goals from the same disposal haul, and Blake O’Leary finished with a game-high three goals.

Eastern completed the academy rout with a defensively sound 59-point thumping of Gold Coast’s academy, keeping the SUNS to just two goals. After just three goals were scored in the first half, the Ranges clicked into gear to break the game open with seven in the third term and run home comfortable winners.

Zak Pretty had a monster day out with 37 disposals, aided well by Lachlan Stapleton (27) and Mitch Mellis (24), while bottom-age defenders Wil Parker and Josh Clarke also impressed. Bailey White led the goal count with four, while Jamieson Rossiter managed three and Cody Hirst played one of his last games before being snapped up by Sydney. Skipper Connor Budarick was the standout for Gold Coast, accumulating 27 touches, with bottom-ager Max Pescud also thereabouts, and fellow SUNS recruits Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh also taking the field.

Saturday’s final fixture saw Calder edge Geelong in a close battle at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with both sides enjoying time in the lead. The Cannons looked the goods after coming out on top in a low-scoring first half, but were pegged back to within a point at the final break. Keeping their heads, the hosts held on to win by seven points.

Sam Ramsay was the sole draftee afield, and he had a decent outing with 27 disposals – behind only Daniel Mott (29) and Brodie Newman (36). Ned Gentile booted three goals from 21 disposals to also be among the best, while skipper Jesse Clark claimed that honour for Geelong. Nineteen-year-old Charlie Sprague was another to impress with two goals from 18 touches, with fellow over-ager Henry Stubbings managing 20.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and Western got the better of Tasmania in their trip to the Apple Isle, trumping the hosts by 47 points to get within touch of the top four. A steady opening half saw Tasmania prove wasteful, booting 1.6 as Western eventually took flight to run home with six goals to two after half-time.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton took full toll with a game-high three majors, supported well by Carlton rookie Josh Honey (two from 25 disposals) and bottom-age jet Eddie Ford (two from 16 disposals). Darcy Cassar racked it up across half back to finish with 31 disposals, while Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon shared that feat for Tasmania (25). Isaac Chugg was also impressive on debut for a Devils side which was missing a lot of its star power.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels took home a huge win in the round’s final match, defeating the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 55 points on neutral territory. The Rebels never looked back after a 10 goals to one opening half at Windy Hill, which proved more than enough for the win despite a more even second half.

Nick Caris led the goal count with four for GWV, while Jay Rantall (27 disposals, two goals), Matty Lloyd (28, two), and Riley Polkinghorne (23, two) all had an impact. There was plenty of class on show for NT despite the loss too, with Beau O’Connell (29 disposals, two goals) having a day out, while Ben Jungfer had it 28 times, Joel Jeffrey had 24 touches and six marks, and new SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr also got on the park.

Classic Contests: Seven-goal third term sees Eastern douse Suns

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 5 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Gold Coast Suns Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 in what has been the only clash between the pair.

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

Round 5 | Saturday, April 27, 2019
Trevor Barker Oval, 1.15pm

After four rounds of the NAB League Boys season, Eastern Ranges were looking good thanks to three consecutive victories to have them fourth with a 3-1 win-loss record. Though Gold Coast Suns Academy had also notched up three consecutive wins, albeit against fellow Academy sides and a weakened Oakleigh Chargers outfit the week before. It still mean the Suns sat atop the ladder with a a massive percentage of 237.5.

The first half was certainly not one to write home about with just three goals kicked from both sides. Bailey White was the first one the board with a major in the 12th minute of the game, while Ben Hickleton made it two early in the second term to hold a 14-point lead. In the last couple of minutes, Riley Buckland finally brought the 48-minute goalless drought for the visitors and despite it being the Suns first major of the match, they trailed by just eight points at the major break.

It was the third term where the Ranges put the foot down and won the game. Keeping their opponents to just two behinds in the quarter, Eastern piled on 7.2 in a dominant performance that would be indicative of the Ranges ability to win when challenged. Zak Pretty was first on the board in the second half, followed back back-to-back goals to White who had three to his name. Jamieson Rossiter got in on the party with two majors of his own, before two late goals in the last two minutes – to Cody Hirst and a remarkable fourth to White after the siren – had Eastern 50 points up with a quarter to play. Danger signs were there when Rossiter booted his third and his side’s eighth consecutive goal just 45 seconds into the last term. Luckily for the Suns, the defence managed to stem the flow over the next 20 minutes until Hickleton converted the Ranges’ 11th and his second for a 65-point advantage. A consolation goal to Ethan Dawson with three minutes to play ensured the Suns at least finished with two goals on the board.

From the 11 goals, White, Rossiter and Hicketon would combined for nine of them in a remarkable effort up forward, also combining for 35 disposals, and 12 marks in the process. From Eastern’s dominant midfield, Pretty had an absolute day out, feasting on 37 disposals (21 contested), five tackles, eight clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal. Fellow consistent ball winners, Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) and Mitch Mellis (24 disposals, three tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were busy, while bottom-age talents Wil Parker (23 disposals, seven marks and three rebounds) and Josh Clarke (21 disposals, five marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and seven rebounds) were also prominent. Riley Smith was a star in the ruck wiht 37 hitouts from 19 touches, while future Swan Hirst finished with 20 disposals, three marks, four tackles and a goal on the day.

Eventual Hunter Harrison Medallist, Connor Budarick had a team-high 27 disposals, six marks, 16 tackles and five for the Suns, as well as three clearances and four rebounds. Max Pescud (23 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and six rebounds) and Ashton Crossley (22 disposals, three marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds) also found plenty of the ball. In defence, Brandon Deslandes and Corey Joyce combined for 13 rebounds from 39 disposals and seven marks.

Eastern Ranges would go on to earn the minor premiership, making it all the way to the NAB League Grand Final before bowing out to Oakleigh on the big stage. Gold Coast Suns would still win the overall Academy Series thanks to defeating Sydney Swans Academy for the title.

Classic Contests: Flanders and Phillips star as Gippsland finds a way against Eastern

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 4 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Eastern Ranges. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 when the teams played out a see-sawing affair in Morwell as the Power held on for victory.

GIPPSLAND POWER 4.1 | 8.2 | 9.7 | 12.9 (81)
EASTERN RANGES 5.1 | 7.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 (71)

Round 6 | Sunday May 5, 2019
Morwell Recreation Reserve, 1pm

The pre and post-National Championships periods often see NAB League sides stacked to the brim with top-end draftable talent, and it was no different in last year’s Round 6 contest between Gippsland and Eastern at Morwell Recreation Reserve. The Ranges had shot out of the blue to make a 4-1 start to the season, but a meeting with the highly-fancied Power side awaited – on the road, no less – and would always prove a test of their true credentials. The Power were 3-1 having already notched up a bye, going down only to reigning premier, Dandenong to that point. Both sides came in off wins over Northern Academies, with Gippsland scraping over the line against GWS, while Eastern comfortably accounted for Gold Coast.

Five eventual AFL draftees lined up for the hosts, as Sam Flanders, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, Charlie Comben, and Harrison Pepper formed a formidable spine, with 2020 top-ager Zach Reid only consolidating it at full back. While the 2019 Ranges squad only produced one mid-season draftee (Cody Hirst), there were a bunch of notable players in the line-up. 2020 over-ager Jamieson Rossiter slotted in at centre half-forward, with top-aged Academy members Connor Downie and Joshua Clarke also on the team sheet. 2019 Vic Metro representatives Lachlan Stapleton, Mitch Mellis, and James Ross made for reliable operators all year, and would certainly have their hands full against quality opposition in this fixture as leaders of the group.

A high-scoring opening term set the stage for an action-packed clash, with both sides shooting sharply in front of goal to register a combined 9.2. It was the Ranges who found their way on top though thanks to their superior five-goal effort, hitting back at each of the Power’s advances and gaining the ascendancy late as Bailey White cancelled out Flanders’ equalising goal. But with the advantageous end, Gippsland began to have their say with a four-goal to two second stanza – all while both sides maintained remarkably accuracy. In an end-to-end final five minutes of the half, Phillips and Riley Baldi put the Power two goals ahead, before White’s second goal brought the margin back to single digits.

It was again Eastern’s turn to shift the tide and the Ranges somewhat managed to do so with two goals to one in the third term as the contest tightened up. Harvey Neocleous’ third-minute major did little to stop Eastern from hitting back with six-pointers as the Power began to stray in front of goal. With the lead cut to four points heading into the final change, a grandstand finish awaited. Ben Hickleton immediately put the pressure on the Power as he goaled with two minutes on the clock in the final term, putting the Ranges in front before Billy McCormack extended the buffer to eight points. But the cream rises to the top, especially in the clutch, as Flanders and Comben goaled to reinstate Gippsland’s ascendancy. Tom Fitzpatrick’s major with a tick over six minutes left meant the Ranges required two goals to win, but they could only managed a single behind as the hosts held on for victory.

Eastern’s ball magnets stood up in the engine room despite the losing effort, with Stapleton (28 disposals, nine tackles, six inside 50s) and Zak Pretty (28 disposals, six inside 50s) leading all comers, while Mellis found it 21 times. White and Hickleton were the main culprits in front of goal, each bagging three majors while McCormack managed two as the only other Eastern multiple goalkicker. 2020 top-agers Downie (10 disposals) and Clarke (13) had steady games, with Rossiter able to claim one major from his eight disposals.

For the stacked Gippsland side, Flanders led the way with two goals from his 25 disposals and five inside 50s from midfield, trailing only Phillips (20 disposals, seven marks, three goals) in terms of scoreboard impact. Skipper Smith racked up a team-high 27 touches from defence, while Riley Baldi (26 disposals, one goal) and Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals) were others to stand out. The remaining two draftees, Pepper and Comben, managed 18 and 14 touches respectively, with bigman Comben also notching six marks and a goal.

The two sides would meet just once more in 2019, with Eastern getting the chocolates in their preliminary final tie to the tune of 30 points. The Ranges, who also ended up minor premiers, fell short of a rampant Oakleigh side in the grand final, while Gippsland bowed out at that preliminary final stage after finishing one game adrift in second.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 3 – First draw of the season in Country Triple Header

IN an action-packed nine games of NAB League Boys action, spectators witnessed the season’s first draw at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo as part of a huge triple header for the six country teams. The round also included a double header at Trevor Barker Oval the day before, while the Northern Academies went head-to-head across the nation, and the standalone game at RAMS Arena was a close one.

Opening up the round in Sandringham with the double header changed from Preston was the Northern Knights taking on Eastern Ranges. From the start it was clear the Ranges were going to be too strong, and by half-time led by 26 points. It would only get worse for the Knights in the second half, as Eastern piled on 7.9 to 0.2, to run away 75-point winners.

Mitch Mellis was best on ground with three goals from 29 touches, six marks, six tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while the likes of Zakery Pretty (26 disposals, five marks, three tackles, nine clearances and three inside 50s) and James Ross (30 disposals, three marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds) were not too far behind. Connor Downie (25 touches, five marks, five inside 50s and a goal), Josh Clarke (24 touches, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Lachlan Gawel (21 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) were all prolific, while Cody Hirst (19 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) looked impressive in one of his few games prior to being drafted by Sydney.

Sam Philp was a clear standout for the losing side as he amassed 26 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ryan Gardner (23 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three rebounds) worked hard on the outside, Josh D’Intinosante (21 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) was busy through midfield, and Jackson Davies (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) did his best in defence.

The second game at Trevor Barker Oval was much closer with perennial rivals and premiership contenders, Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers going at it. The end result was a 10-point win to the Dragons after booting five goals to two in the middle two quarters and then holding off a Chargers comeback to grab the bragging rights, 9.11 (65) to 8.7 (55).

Jack Mahony led the way for his side with 25 touches, five marks, five tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, teaming up well in midfield with Finn Maginness (24 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and Ryan Byrnes (21 disposals, four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds). Josh Worrell was a rock in defence thanks to 23 touches, four marks, four tackles and five rebounds, while up forward, Charlie Dean continued his good form with 16 disposals, six marks and two goals.

It was no surprise to see who led the way despite the loss for the Chargers with Matt Rowell (31 disposals, seven marks, 11 tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) dominating alongside Noah Anderson (26 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals). Future Magpie, Trent Bianco picked up 26 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds, while bottom-age talent, Will Phillips had 21 touches, seven marks and three tackles of his own. Dylan Williams booted three goals from nine disposals and four marks up forward.

Up at RAMS Arena, Calder Cannons kicked away in the final term against Western Jets to win by 12 points in what was a thrilling contest. It was only a two goals to one final quarter, but that was enough to see the home side in front at the final siren after leading by just three points at the final break. Western had worked its way back into the game after trailing by 19 and 15 points at the quarter time and half-time breaks respectively, but would ultimately not do enough to get the points in the end.

Cannons captain Daniel Mott had the ball on a string thanks to 32 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Harrison Minton-Connell joined him with leather poisoning after 30 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven clearances, two inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal. Flynn Lakey (26 disposals, five marks, four clearances and two rebounds) and Jake Sutton (18 disposals, seven marks, three clearances and six inside 50s) were busy, while Harrison Jones showed off his versatility after 17 disposals, eight marks, four hitouts and three inside 50s.

Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett were saviours in the defensive 50, combining for 44 disposals, 12 marks and 15 rebounds in a hard working effort for the Jets. Up forward, excitement machine Eddie Ford had 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Will Kennedy racked up a whopping 41 hitouts to go with 15 rouches, five marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Of the future draftees, Josh Honey had 14 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and a goal, while Emerson Jeka took six marks from nine touches and laid three tackles.

Heading north to Yeronga, the Gold Coast Suns Academy booted the last six goals of the game and five goals to zero in the final term, to post a 10.10 (70) to 5.12 (42) victory over cross-state rivals, Brisbane Lions Academy. The Lions had led by two points at the final break, but it was all Gold Coast in the last term as they ran away with the points.

Ashton Crossley racked up 31 touches, four marks, 10 clearances and two inside 50s, teaming up well with future Sun, Connor Budarick (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s) and bottom-age talent, Alex Davies (22 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds). Josh Gore booted three majors from 12 disposals and seven marks, while another future senior Sun in Matthew Conroy kicked two last quarter goals from eight touches, three marks and 25 hitouts. Hewago Paul Oea was also lively with 17 disposals, three marks, eight inside 50s and a goal.

For the Lions, Tom Griffiths (27 disposals, five marks and four rebounds) and Bruce Reville (26 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) had the most touches, while Saxon Crozier (19 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Ethan Hunt (18 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and six rebounds) were also busy. Future Tigers, Noah Cumberland (13 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Will Martyn (12 disposals, five tackles) played in the match as well.

In another dominant performance late, Sydney Swans Academy stormed past GWS GIANTS to win by 59 points in Canberra. The Swans trailed at quarter time and half-time, but piled on 12 goals to two in the second half to run away with the contest and gain some serious bragging rights early in the Academy Series.

It was a strong team effort from the Swans, with Jackson Barling (24 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three clearances) and Lachlan Swaney (22 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) both prominent. Captain Sam Thorne (19 touches, six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s) was busy, while Harrison Parker and Braeden Campbell both booted three goals in the win.

For the GIANTS it was all about Tom Green who racked up 28 touches, six marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Jeromy Lucas (25 touches, four marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) and James Peatling (24 touches, seven marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) provided support. Liam Delahunty (10 touches, six marks and two goals) was busy up forward, while Nick Murray (15 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds) stood tall under siege in defence.

Heading into the city for a clash between Northern territory and Tasmania, it was the Devils who came away with their first win after a slow start. Trailing by 10 points at the first break, Tasmania piled on 12 goals to three after that to finish with a commanding 13.14 (92) to 6.8 (44) victory over the Thunder.

Leading draft prospect, Mitch O’Neill had the ball on a string with 35 disposals, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds, as Rhyan Mansell (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Oliver Davis (22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s) provided great service to the forwards. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow showed just what he was capable of with five majors from 19 disposals and eight marks, while Matthew McGuinness was a reliever in defence with 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds.

All eyes were on Richmond father-son bottom-age prospect Maurice Rioli Jnr for the Thunder, and he had 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in a lively display. Others who impressed included Stephen Cumming (22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances), and bottom-age hopefuls, Joel Jeffrey (20 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and a goal), Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds).

Heading up the highway to Bendigo, the country triple header took place at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Pioneers were battling against premiership contender, Gippsland Power and had themselves right in the contest until the final term. The Power led by just one point at the last break, but piled on 4.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with a 12.10 (82) to 8.10 (58) victory.

Future first round pick, Caleb Serong helped himself to 23 disposals, five marks, three tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while another first round selection in Sam Flanders amassed 20 touches, two marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s), Sam Berry (20 disposals, three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal), Kyle Dunkley (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal) and Leo Connolly (15 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and six rebounds) were among the best across the four quarters, while Fraser Phillips booted three goals from 12 touches and four marks.

Bendigo’s own future first round pick in Brodie Kemp had a day out with 21 disposals, four marks, three tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, teaming up well in midfield with Sam Conforti (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Jeremy Rodi (19 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds). Riley Wilson (14 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds) was prominent in midfield, while Logan Fitzgerald and Brady Rowles combined for 26 disposals and nine rebounds in defence.

The second game was the best of the lot, with Dandenong Stingrays splitting the points with Geelong Falcons. In a wind-affected day, the see-sawing contested had everyone on the edge of their seat. Trailing by 30 points at the final break but with the wind behind their backs, the Stingrays booted 5.6 to 1.0 and managed to draw level at 12.11 (83) apiece thanks to a kick after the siren.

Ned Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s, as all of Dandenong’s future draftees stood out. Hayden Young had 22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, Cody Weightman had 20 touches, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, and Sam De Koning picked up 17 disposals, three marks, four hitouts and two goals, switching into attack in the last quarter and being a huge influence on the result.

The game was unfortunately the last for Geelong’s sole draftee, Cooper Stephens who broke his leg in the first term and would not play another game in season 2019. Jesse Clark (26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 touches, eight marks and five rebounds) worked hard, while bottom-agers, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, nine tackles and seven inside 50s) were among their side’s best.

In the final game of the round, Murray Bushrangers came back from a goal down at the final break to find their kicking boots and defeat Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. The Bushrangers had booted 6.12 to three quarter time – four more scoring shots than their opponents – but trailed them by a goal. They picked it up in the final term to slot 3.3 to 1.2 and record a 9.15 (69) to 9.8 (62) victory.

Lachlan Ash had a team-high 28 disposals, six marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals, five marks, six tackles, three clearance and five inside 50s) and Jimmy Boyer (22 disposals, nine marks and two rebounds) found plenty of the ball. In midfield, Cameron Wild (20 disposals, four marks, three clearances and seven inside 50s) and Dylan Clarke (17 disposals, three marks, four tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were strong.

Jay Rantall was a clear standout for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 31 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals in a complete game. Mitch Martin (22 disposals, 10 marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) was also impressive, while James Cleaver and Emmanuel Ajang combined for 33 disposals, 10 marks and 13 rebounds in defence.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 2 – Academies join competition

ROUND 2 last year will be forever known as the return of Allied teams to the Victorian Under-18 boys competition. While some states have participated in past years on and off, all four northern Academies, along with Northern Territory Thunder joined the competition. Tasmania Devils also joined in, but on a full-time basis, with the Devils playing their first official match in the round across a whopping nine games.

Kicking off the round as part of a Triple Header at Blacktown, Tasmania travelled north for its first game, coming up against Sydney Swans Academy. The Devils had to wait until the second term to score, as the Swans booted 3.7 before Nicholas Baker made history as the first official goalkicker for the Devils. A goal to Jye Menzie just 19 seconds into the third term saw the margin cut as little as five points, but that was as close as it got for the rest of the game as the Swans booted the last three goals of the term to be 26 points up at the final break. Jackson Callow converted another major in the opening minute of the final term to give his team a sniff, and by the time Will Harper put his second on the board, the margin was just nine points with 14 minutes remaining. Unfortunately for the visitors, Marc Sheather kicked a settling goal to help ease the pressure and the Swans got up by 14 points.

Bottom-age talent, Errol Gulden had a day out with 33 disposals, six marks, three tackles, two clearances, eight inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, with Sam Thorne (23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) also prominent for the Swans. Another talented bottom ager in Braeden Campbell collected 15 disposals, three marks, eight tackles and five inside 50s, while Kyle McKellar and Jackson Barling were also impressive. For the Devils, overager Matthew McGuinness picked up 27 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds, working hard with Patrick Walker (25 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds) and Sam Collins (23 disposals, five marks and nine rebounds) in defence. The Devils’ top rated prospect, Mitch O’Neill helped himself to 21 touches, nine tackles, 12 clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds in the loss.

In the next game at Blacktown, the Brisbane Lions Academy fought back from a disappointing first quarter to down the GIANTS Academy, winning 14.12 (96) to 10.10 (70). GWS led by 19 points at quarter time, but a six goals to three second term had Brisbane just three points down by the main break. A seven goals to three second half saw the Lions run over the top of the GIANTS despite the best efforts of GIANTS star, Tom Green (29 disposals – 18 contested – nine clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and three tackles).

Will Martyn (30 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, as was the likes of Tom Griffiths (20 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Ethan Hunt (19 disposals) and Bruce Reville (16 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s). Aside from Green, Jeromy Lucas had his fair share of the ball with 24 touches, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Matt McGrory (18 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s), Nick Murray (19 disposals, 10 marks), Lachlan Squire (15 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Liam Delahunty (15 disposals, seven marks, three inside 50s and three goals) all impressed.

Rounding out the triple header at Blacktown, Gold Coast Suns Academy never looked like losing to Northern Territory. The Suns piled on eight goals to one in the opening half, and while the Thunder hit back in the third term to cut the deficit to 31 points, Gold Coast stepped up again to boot three goals to one in the final term and win by 44 points.

Ashton Crossley had 27 disposals and seven clearances through the midfield, while top prospect, Connor Budarick racked up 22 touches, six marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal across the ground. Bottom-age talent, Alex Davies had 22 touches, nine clearances, four tackles and four inside 50s, while Max Pescud (20 touches, three clearances and three inside 50s), Hewago Paul Oea (16 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal) and Josh Gore (15 touches, three marks, seven tackles and three goals) all looked lively. Future Sun, Matthew Conroy looked strong through the ruck with 22 hitouts from 15 touches, three marks and a goal.

Heading down to Victoria and Dandenong Stingrays caused a boil-over against premiership contenders, Gippsland Power. The reigning premiers had a new-look line-up after the 2018 success, but started strongly to lead by a goal at quarter time. Gippsland hit the front to have the advantage by half-time, but it flipped again by the last break with the Stingrays in front by four points. When Bailey Schmidt kicked a goal with six minutes to play, the Stingrays hit the front and never surrendered it in a match that had a whopping 11 lead changes.

Mitch Riordan picked up 23 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds in one of his few games before being selected in the mid-season draft, as captain Hayden Young was strong off half-back with 21 disposals, four marks, five tackles and three rebounds. Jack Toner (19 touches, two marks, five tackles, five clearances and seven inside 50s) had a truckload of the ball, while future first round pick, Cody Weightman racked up 14 disposals, five marks, six tackles and a goal. Other future draftees who played in the game included Ned Cahill (12 disposals, seven tackles and a goal), Bigoa Nyuon (six disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal) and Sam De Koning (four disposals).

For the Power, first round picks Sam Flanders (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) and Caleb Serong (21 disposals, nine tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) were prominent. Another mid-season recruit in Kyle Dunkley (20 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) was lively again, while Leo Connolly (16 disposals, three marks and six rebounds), Fraser Phillips (15 disposals, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Harrison Pepper (14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, three clearances and one goal) were among other future draftees who impressed.

In the other Saturday game, Murray Bushrangers had a second heart-breaking loss in a row, losing by five points to Bendigo Pioneers after dropping their first game by under a kick. They led by 18 points at the first change, but the Pioneers booted three goals to zero in the second term to lead by half-time, and then a see-sawing contest ensued with the Pioneers saluting in a thrilling game.

Thomson Dow was busy with 24 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven clearances and a goal, as fellow first round pick, Brodie Kemp had a strong day out with 17 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal. Future Swan, Brady Rowles would have 12 touches, two clearances and two inside 50s, while Logan Fitzgerald (22 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and four rebounds) had plenty of the ball. Cam Wild was the prominent ball winner with 30 touches, seven marks, seven tackles, seven clearances, three inside 50s and six rebounds, while top five pick Lachlan Ash had 26 touches, eight marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds. Jye Chalcraft (26 touches, four marks, six clearances and two goals), Will Quirk (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Elijah Hollands (22 disposals, three marks and a goal) were also impressive.

Looking to Sunday, Sandringham Dragons continued their form to start the season with a comfortable 43-point win over Northern Knights. The Dragons booted six goals to two in the opening half and then kept their opponents at arms-length after that to secure a strong win in the first of two games at Trevor Barker Oval.

Ryan Byrnes picked up 24 touches, two marks, four tackles and six clearances, as Louis Butler looked lively across the ground thanks to 18 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Jack Mahony (17 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s), Hugo Ralphsmith (17 disposals, three marks), Josh Worrell (17 disposals, seven marks and three rebounds) and Finn Maginness (14 disposals, six tackles and four inside 50s) were among future draftees to win plenty of the ball as Charlie Dean caught attention with four majors from 15 touches and eight marks. Adam Carafa (28 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Sam Philp (18 disposals, eight marks and five clearances) were busy through midfield, while Ryan Gardner (19 disposals, five inside 50s) worked the outside and Ryan Sturgess (22 touches, eight rebounds) was strong in defence.

A dominant six goals to zero first term set Eastern Ranges up for an impressive 63-point win over Western in the second game of a double header at Trevor Barker Oval. With 13 scoring shots to one in the first term, the margin could have been bigger than the 42 points, and while Western managed to stem the bleeding after that, the Ranges had opened up a 58-point lead by the final break to ensure they would enjoy a big win.

Mitch Mellis (35 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and three goals) and Lachlan Stapleton (33 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, six clearances and 10 inside 50s) ran rampant as future Swan, Cody Hirst (29 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and three rebounds) and inside midfielder, Zakery Pretty (23 disposals, two marks, five clearances and five inside 50s were also prominent. Bottom-ager Josh Clarke work hard with his run-and-carry picking up 15 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal, while Josh Tilly capped off his day with three majors. For the Jets, Darcy Cassar had the ball on a string from defence, racking up 31 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and nine rebounds, working in tandem with Daly Andrews (24 disposals, six marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and eight rebounds). Josh Kellett was instrumental mopping up in defence as well with 12 rebounds to go with his 20 touches in the defeat.

In the final game of the round, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels put the Round 1 heart-breaking loss to Dandenong Stingrays to the back of their mind as they came from behind to down the Geelong Falcons by a point in a thrilling contest. Darcy McEldrew kicked the winning goal late in the fourth term to get his side over the line. Jay Rantall was enormous in his second game for the Rebels, racking up 24 disposals, three marks, six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while James Cleaver booted two majors from 17 touches in his new role up forward. Cooper Craig-Peters impressive with six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds from 19 disposals and eight tackles, while Riley Polkinghorne had seven rebounds working hard out of defence.

Cooper Stephens led from the front in his last full game prior to injury, amassing a game-high 28 touches, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and a goal, while Charlie Lazzaro worked hard as a bottom-ager to pick up 26 touches, four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Out of defence, Keidan Rayner racked up 10 rebounds with his 25 disposals, while Jesse Clark had nine and 16 respectively. Also busy but in the other half of the ground was Charlie Sprague (23 disposals, three marks and seven inside 50s).

Classic Contests: Ranges hold off Knights in tight thriller at Box Hill

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest it is a clash between sides who would have played in Round 1 this year. Today we travel back in time to a late-2017 encounter between the Eastern Ranges and Northern Knights, who played out a thriller at Box Hill City Oval.

EASTERN RANGES 2.2 | 6.6 | 8.10 | 10.11 (71)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.4 | 4.5 | 6.6 | 9.8 (62)

Round 14 | Saturday, July 29, 2017
Box Hill City Oval, 2.00pm

With the season winding down in late July, 2017 and only five rounds remaining, two metropolitan clubs faced off at Box Hill in a mid-table clash. Just two points separated the sides with Northern Knights sitting in sixth with six wins and a draw, while Eastern Ranges were seventh with just the six wins flat. Both were a couple of games clear of eighth and ninth Gippsland Power and Calder Cannons respectively. Eastern was closing the gap on Northern having knocked off Gippsland Power by nine goals the week before on the road, while Northern had fallen to Dandenong Stingrays by 29 points a week earlier.

Heading into the clash, the Ranges had a number of highly fancied prospects in Jaidyn Stephenson, Sam Hayes, Thomas North and Ryley Stoddart, with the likes of Cody Hirst, Xavier Fry and Harrison Nolan also putting in strong consistent performances throughout the season. A couple of 16-year-old talents were also making their debuts for the Ranges with James Ross and Jamieson Rossiter playing for the first time off the back of the Under 16 Championships. For Northern, first round prospect Nick Coffield was the standout in the side, while they also had speedster Jack Petruccelle who could turn the game in a moment. Aside from the AFL talent, the Knights would go on to have a number of VFL stars on the books as well, namely Marcus Lentini and Braedyn Gillard – the latter of whom would suffer a broken elbow in his top-age year the following season.

The first quarter was a tight tussle with the Knights taking the early advantage by just two points at quarter time. They continued to push, but the firepower of the Ranges was starting to come out as the team booted 4.4 to 2.1 to take back the lead and race out to a 13-point advantage at the main break. It proved to be a real difference in the game, with both sides converting two majors in the third term, though the Ranges could have had more with an inaccurate 2.4 to 2.1, pushing the lead out to 16. A more accurate Eastern side had to hold on in the final term as the Knights came charging home, booting 3.2 to Eastern’s 2.1 and get within nine points at the final siren.

Hirst was named best on ground for his four goals off 19 disposals, three marks, six tackles, two clearances and two rebounds with the future Sydney talent showing off his athletic abilities as a bottom-ager. Hayes was phenomenal through the ruck, having 30 hitouts and seven clearances to go with 17 disposals, three marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and a goal, while Stephenson (17 disposals, four marks, six tackles and four inside 50s) was prominent up the ground. Stoddart (15 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) continued his good form in defence alongside Nolan (12 disposals, five marks and four rebounds). Rossiter finished the game with 11 touches and a goal, as Ross also booted a major from four disposals. In terms of the big ball winners, it was Kye Quirk (28 disposals, four inside 50s), Jordan Lynch (26 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s) and MacKenzie Doreian (23 disposals, three marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) working hard with North (19 disposals, eight tackles and four clearances).

The Knights found plenty of the ball themselves, as Gillard had a day out with 36 disposals (16 contested), four tackles, seven clearances, four rebounds and two goals, partnering up with Mitchell Andrews (31 disposals, eight marks, two inside 50s, five rebounds and a goal). Lentini (24 disposals, dive marks, 11 tackles, five clearances and three rebounds) and Patrick Howe (25 disposals, six marks and six rebounds) were also among the big ball winners, as was Sam Binion (20 disposals, five marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal). From the two future draftees, Coffield picked up 19 touches, six marks, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while Petruccelle had 16 touches, four marks, three clearances and four inside 50s.

Both sides would end up making finals with Eastern Ranges finishing sixth and Northern Knights, eighth. It would be a forgettable day at Victoria Park for those elimination finals as the Knights were completely destroyed by Oakleigh Chargers, while Eastern was on the receiving end of one of the best comebacks in TAC Cup history when Dandenong Stingrays came from the clouds to overrun them. The Ranges would end up with their best draft haul ever though in what was a terrific year for them,

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 1 – Future Blues light up Ikon Park

A SPIRITED comeback from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels was not enough to see them topple the Dandenong Stingrays in the opening round of the 2019 season. The Stingrays led by as much as 36 points at the 15-minute mark of the third term, before the Rebels bolted home to boot eight of the last 12 goals to get within eight points with eight minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the home side, they could only manage back-to-back behinds on the day.

Captain and top prospect, Hayden Young had 15 disposals, five marks, four tackles and seven rebounds in the Stingrays’ win, while the talented Cody Weightman had 12 disposals, two tackles, three inside 50s and a goal. It was Lachlan Williams in defence who was instrumental with 23 disposals and 11 rebounds, as bottom-age talent Clayton Gay had a big game across the ground, picking up 20 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals. Future draftees, Bigoa Nyuon (seven disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, four inside 50s and two goals) and Ned Cahill (nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) had an impact, and Sam De Koning (six disposals, three hitouts, one rebound) also played in the match. Mitchell Riordan also started his overage year positively – though he would only be at the club for another month and a half before heading north – picking up 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s.

A former Australian basketballer by the name of Jay Rantall made his debut for the GWV Rebels, picking up 24 touches and having five clearances in a strong performance through the midfield group. Cooper Craig-Peters led the way with 30 disposals (16 contested), 10 tackles, 10 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, while Mitch Martin (24 disposals, four clearances, seven inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Matty Lloyd (26 disposals, nine marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three goals) also impressed despite the loss.

The next day, Murray Bushrangers and Gippsland Power engaged in an equally tough tussle at Rams Arena, where Will Chandler had the ball in the dying seconds, but was just a touch too far out to score as the Bushrangers went down by three points. The Bushrangers had been in front by that margin at quarter time and half-time against the title-contending Power team, and even led by as much as five points at the final break. But the only goal of the final term went to the Power in what was a struggle between two top defences in the 10.9 (69) to 8.12 (66) defeat.

Kyle Dunkley made onlookers check twice when they saw the former Oakleigh Chargers forward dominating through the midfield for Gippsland on his way to 21 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and three goals in what would prove to be one of only a handful of outings at NAB League level, switching RAMS Arena for Etihad Stadium. Without Caleb Serong, it was Sam Flanders who brought the highlights, picking up 19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s, while Ryan Sparkes had the most touches with 26 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and eight rebounds. Charlie Comben returned for a modest three touches, two marks and 11 hitouts, while other future draftees who played in the game included Brock Smith (18 disposals, four marks and four rebounds), Harrison Pepper (13 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Leo Connolly (10 disposals, two marks) and Fraser Phillips (five disposals, two marks and one goal).

It was no surprise to see future GIANT, Lachlan Ash having a big day out for Murray with 24 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while the midfield duo of Dylan Clarke (24 touches, five marks, four tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s) and Cameron Wild (22 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds) were productive. Co-captain Cameron Wilson slotted three goals in a big game up forward with 21 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s, while bottom-age talent Elijah Hollands showed off his class with 15 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and a goal.

At RSEA Park, premiership contenders Sandringham Dragons made an early statement on the competition with a big win over Calder. The Dragons had a host of draftable prospects heading into the year and destroyed Calder Cannons by 109 points. It was the likes of future Saint, Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and future Hawk, Finn Maginness (23 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, six clearances and a goal) who shone. Louis Butler (22 disposals) and Miles Bergman (16) both had strong games, as top 10 pick Fischer McAsey had two rebounds from 14 disposals and five marks in what was a pretty comfortable day to be a Dragons defender. Instead it was Charlie Dean‘s five goals that stole the show. For the Cannons, future draftees Sam Ramsay (23 disposals, three marks and a goal) and Harrison Jones (12 disposals, three marks and six hitouts) both played, while Tye Browning and Daniel Mott did all they could sharing in 24 disposals each, with Mott also having four clearances and six inside 50s.

A full-strength Oakleigh Chargers also had an impressive win in the first match of the season against a far-from-disgraced Eastern Ranges outfit. Top two picks, Matt Rowell (21 touches, five tackles, four clearances and one goal) and Noah Anderson (26 disposals, five marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and four goals) were the best, as Joe Ayton-Delaney picked up a game-high 32 touches as well as nine clearances, four inside 50s and five rebounds. The likes of future draftees, Trent Bianco (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three clearances) and Dylan Williams (19 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) were also prominent. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan made his Oakleigh debut but was quiet with four touches and two marks, though fellow bottom-age prospect Will Phillips was solid with 17 disposals and five tackles. Future draftees Nick Bryan (10 disposals, 18 hitouts) and Lachlan Johnson (11 touches, five tackles) also played in the match. For Eastern, soon-to-be-listed Swans player, Cody Hirst had 20 touches, five clearances and three inside 50s in the loss, as bottom-age talent Connor Downie was strong alongside top-age hopefuls Zakery Pretty and Mitch Mellis.

Bendigo Pioneers also opened their season off on the right foot courtesy of a big 43-point win over Geelong Falcons. Future Cat, Cooper Stephens did all he could for the Falcons in the loss, picking up 22 touches, three marks, three tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, working hard with Jesse Clark (24 disposals, seven marks and four rebounds). For the Pioneers, Thomson Dow quickly asserted himself on the competition with two goals from 28 disposals, eight marks, three clearances and three inside 50s, while fellow first round selection Brodie Kemp had 22 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. The Pioneers’ other draftee in the match was Brady Rowles who helped himself to 15 touches, two clearances and two rebounds.

In the final game of the round, Western Jets got up in a thrilling come-from-behind seven-point victory over Northern Knights at Ikon Park. They teams traded blows throughout the match and the Knights led by 18 points at the final break, but a high-scoring last term saw the Jets pile on six goals to two to run over the top of Northern in the end. Future Blue, Josh Honey lit up his future home training ground with 22 touches, six marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and a goal, while future Hawk, Emerson Jeka booted a goal from 14 touches, six marks and four inside 50s. If Honey being Western’s best at Carlton’s home was not freaky enough, Sam Philp – one of Carlton’s first round draft picks – stamped his authority with 22 disposals, nine tackles, nine clearances, three inside 50s and a goal for the Knights. Josh D’Intinosante and Ryan Sturgess booted two goals apiece from 20 touches, while competition leading goalkicker, Archi Manton snagged three majors on his way to that title.

NLB GF 2019: How they got here – Eastern Ranges

EASTERN Ranges have had a sensational 2019 season, finishing minor premiers and earning their way into the NAB League Boys decider. The Ranges have a really even team across the board with captain James Ross holding together a stringent defence, Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Zakery Pretty among a host of uncompromising midfielders, and the likes of Jamieson Rossiter and Jordan Jaworski able to hit the scoreboard in the front half. Along with smalls and medium-talls, they also rotate their rucks through the forward line with Riley Smith and Billy McCormack providing tall targets inside 50. We take a look at our round-by-round wrap-ups of each of Eastern’s matches this season.

ROUND 1:

EASTERN RANGES 3.0 | 4.1 | 5.3 | 7.5 (47)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.3 | 6.9 | 10.13 | 12.16 (88)

In the second game of the double header at RAMS Arena, Eastern Ranges put up a fight before eventually going down to one of the premiership favourites in Oakleigh Chargers. The Ranges booted three goals in the opening term to lead by three points at the first break, before the Chargers hit back in the second term with four goals to one, albeit with inaccuracy plaguing them. They booted 6.9 in the first half, and then 6.7 in the second half, finishing the game strongly and holding the Ranges to just three goals in the last half. Noah Anderson was the clear best on ground with four goals from 26 disposals, while Lachlan Gawel booted two goals for the Ranges. Nick Guiney, Will Phillips and Nick Bryan were named among the best for the Chargers, while Lachlan Stapleton and Cody Hirst were impressive for the Ranges. While the loss would be disappointing, the fact Eastern was able to match it with one of the top teams will give them plenty of confidence going forward.

ROUND 2:

WESTERN JETS 0.1 | 2.4 | 4.4 | 5.4 (34)
EASTERN RANGES 6.7 | 8.11 | 12.14 | 13.19 (97)

Eastern Ranges got the upper hand in an East v. West battle, trumping the Western Jets by 63 points to see both sides move to 1-1. Signs were ominous early as the Ranges skipped out to a seven-goal lead at quarter time, holding it until half-time and building on it in the second half. Mitch Mellis put in a performance good enough for a Draft Central player of the week nomination, collecting 35 disposals, five inside 50s and three goals. Joshua Tilly joined Mellis with three majors, while Lachlan Stapleton won 33 disposals (including 10 inside 50s) and Cody Hirst had 29 of his own. Darcy Cassar was best afield for Western on a dirty day with 31 disposals, nine rebound 50s and seven marks, while Josh Kellett was also handy with 20 disposals and 12 rebound 50s. The Jets will have a third crack at getting on the board next week in their meeting with fellow winless side, Calder, while Eastern is set to open the round against Northern in an interesting match-up.

ROUND 3:

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.3 | 3.3 (21)
EASTERN RANGES 3.4 | 6.9 | 8.14 | 13.18 (96)

Eastern Ranges notched up its second-consecutive NAB League win, opening Round 3 with a 75-point drubbing of the Northern Knights. Despite a steady start, Eastern accelerated after half-time – keeping their opponents goalless while pouring on seven majors to finish up comprehensive winners. While Sam Philp, Josh D’Intinosante, and Liam McMahon were the only Knights to hit the scoreboard with first-half goals, the Ranges had an impressive 10 individual goal kickers in the dominant performance. Fresh off his Draft Central player of the week outing, Mitch Mellis again had a day out, collecting 29 disposals and a bag of three goals, with Joshua Tilly the only other multiple goal kicker and Cody Hirst lively for his 19 disposals and lone goal. Skipper James Ross was the leading ball-winner with 30 touches, while Philp (26 disposals, nine tackles, one goal) led the way for Northern on a dirty day from Ryan Gardner (23 disposals, nine marks, six tackles) and D’Intinosante (21 disposals, nine tackles, seven inside 50s, one goal). Yet to claim a win, the Knights host the GWS GIANTS academy next time out in hopes of rectifying that, while Eastern is set for a trip north to face Brisbane Lions Academy on Sunday.

ROUND 4:

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 3.0 | 5.1 | 11.1 | 12.3 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 4.4 | 6.7 | 8.7 | 13.8 (86)

An fighting final term turnaround saw Eastern Ranges earn its third-consecutive win, overcoming the Brisbane Lions academy by 11 points in Southport. Having broken to a 12-point half-time lead, the Ranges were reigned in quickly thereafter as the hosts booted six goals to two to steer clear heading into the final break, but the Ranges turned the two-goal deficit almost completely around as the heavens opened to snatch an unlikely victory. Eastern bottom-ager Salele Feagaimalii had an blinder, taking full advantage of playing full-time midfield to rack up 28 disposals, seven clearances and two clutch final-quarter goals as his side’s best. Fellow 17-year old Joshua Clarke also stood up when it mattered, slotting the goal of the day on the run from 50 as part of his 21 disposals, while Chayce Black was dangerous early up forward, ending with 2.3 behind Ben Hickleton‘s 3.0. For the Lions, Blake Coleman claimed a game-high four goals from his nine disposals, with Tom Wischnat (19 disposals, 3.2) to thank for two of them, while Noah Cumberland also claimed three majors. Skipper Will Martyn lifted from last week’s performance to rack up an impressive 37 disposals and 12 marks, while former-captain Cody Stackleberg was influential with 26 touches and seven inside 50s. With Eastern locked into the top four, a game against another Queensland academy awaits, while Brisbane will look for a second win in its away clash against Sandringham.

ROUND 5:

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

Eastern Ranges made it a double demolition of the Northern Academies at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, downing the Gold Coast Suns academy by 59 points to climb into the competition’s top two. After a first-half arm-wrestle ensued, the Ranges broke the game open with a seven-goal to nil third term to set up their fourth-straight win. Three players did the bulk of Eastern’s scoring, with Bailey White claiming an opportunistic bag of four goals in his first game for the year, while Jamieson Rossiter booted 3.3 in a solid marking display and Ben Hickleton chimed in with 2.4. Another player to find the goals, Zak Pretty, amassed a whopping 37 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency to earn the Draft Central player of the week nod, but was beaten out by dominant ruckman Riley Smith (19 disposals, 37 hit-outs) for best-afield honours. Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis continued their good form through the middle, with bottom-age prospect Joshua Clarke impressing off half-back with plenty of dash. Ryan Buckland and Ethan Dawson were the Suns’ only goal kickers for the day, with many of their best players employed further afield. Connor Budarick (27 disposals, 16 tackles) continues to shine on the back of hard work, while Corey Joyce and Dirk Koenen were also named in the best for their roles in defence. The Suns head back home next week to face GWV and see out their NAB League cameo, while Eastern faces a tough task in keeping its win-streak alive against Gippsland in Morwell.

ROUND 6:

GIPPSLAND POWER 4.1 | 8.2 | 9.7 | 12.9 (81)
EASTERN RANGES 5.1 | 7.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 (71)

Gippsland Power ground out a 10-point win over Eastern Ranges to see them continue their gradual climb towards the top of the NAB League ladder, while Eastern remains lodged in the top four despite the narrow defeat. The Ranges got the better of a high-scoring opening term, but Gippsland reversed the six-point margin heading into the main break. With both sides performing well in front of goal and the margin cut back to within four points in the final quarter, a grandstand finish was on the horizon. After Eastern reclaimed the lead with two quick goals, Gippsland powered home with the last three to seal victory. Zak Pretty and Lachlan Stapleton again won a heap of the ball to lead all comers with 28 disposals each for Eastern, with opportunistic forwards Ben Hickleton and Bailey White bagging hauls of three goals. Power captain Brock Smith collected 27 disposals and nine rebound 50s to earn a Draft Central player of the week nomination, with Riley Baldi (27 disposals, seven marks) continuing his solid return to be named amongst the best. Sam Flanders (26 disposals, nine clearances, two goals) was instrumental in helping Gippsland get over the line, with Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) also finding the ball and big sticks. The Power host Calder next week with an eye on Eastern’s top four spot, as the Ranges set to face Sandringham in their biggest test yet.

ROUND 7:

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 4.2 | 4.7 | 6.9 | 6.10 (46)
EASTERN RANGES 3.2 | 4.4 | 6.5 | 8.7 (55)

Onlookers were treated to an enthralling contest down at RSEA Park, with finals aspirants Eastern Ranges grinding out a nine-point win against a gallant Sandringham Dragons. In a tough and uncompromising affair where polish and poise lacked, grit and determination made up for. With the margin at each break never being more than a goal, both teams fought out to the death, with the Ranges breaking away in the final minutes to record a clutch win. Sandringham led at every break and won the inside 50 count 53 to 44, but failed to capitalise on ample opportunities, often bombing the ball in long where it was intercepted by Jack Ross, who was outstanding for the Ranges. Whilst the Dragons midfield, led by Ryan Byrnes and Miles Bergman, seemingly won the clearance count, it was the Ranges outside midfielders Cody Hirst and Connor Downie who delivered the ball to the Ranges forwards with class. Eastern proved the stronger team for longer, willing themselves over the line with some classy use and heroic defensive acts, placing them in the upper echelon of the ladder, with Sandringham rueing missing some straight-forward opportunities that were missed.

ROUND 8:

Bye.

ROUND 9:

EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.8 | 6.12 | 9.16 (70)
GEELONG FALCONS 1.0 | 1.0 | 4.4 | 4.6 (30)

Eastern Ranges consigned the Geelong Falcons to a third-straight loss despite some troubles in front of goal, claiming victory by 40 points to jump into third. The Ranges kept their opponents goalless in the second and fourth quarters, while taking full advantage of the one-way breeze to boot three majors in each of those terms – which proved more than enough. The result could have been blown out far worse had Eastern converted its 25 scoring shots better, but the Box Hill City Oval conditions hardly ever make for pretty football. Mitch Mellis responded to being left out of the Vic Metro side well, collecting a monster 39 disposals, 10 clearances and seven inside 50s in yet another best-afield performance for Eastern. Zak Pretty was next best in the ball-winning stakes with 28 disposals, with skipper James Ross (13 disposals, six marks) solid in defence, Mihaele Zalac (19 disposals, eight inside 50s) showing signs, and Jonte Duffy busy with three goals. Sam Bourke continues to put his hand up for Geelong despite the side’s down form, named best for his 21-disposal effort off half back. Chas Karpala was not far behind with his team-high 24 touches and nine marks, while bottom-ager Cameron Fleeton was impressive alongside Bourke in the back half with 15 disposals and six rebound 50s. Not being massively depleted by the national carnival worked to the Ranges’ favour as they fielded a near full strength side in the face of Geelong missing both of its co-captains. Both sides are set to take part in a MARS Stadium double-header next Saturday, with Geelong opening the show against Sandringham while Eastern clashes with GWV.

ROUND 10:

GWV REBELS 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 0.5 (5)
EASTERN RANGES 3.1 | 9.4 | 12.6 | 18.8 (116)

New ladder-leaders Eastern Ranges consigned the Greater Western Victoria Rebels to the season’s first goalless score, trouncing them by 111 points at Mars Stadium. The Ranges piled on six goals in the second and fourth quarters while also keeping the home side scoreless in both to set up the big win, with the percentage boost putting them top of the NAB League ladder. While both sides had some key outs coming into the game on the back of Under 18 championship duties, Eastern simply had too much remaining firepower across the board. Jordan Jaworski was the main beneficiary, booting 7.1 in a break-out game for him, while Metro representative Connor Downie put his hand up for re-selection on the back of three goals, and fellow squad member Jamieson Rossiter matched his tally to return to the side with a bang. Zak Pretty again won a mountain of ball to lead the possession stakes, with Tyler Edwards and Wil Parker not far behind to also be named among Eastern’s best. On a tough day for the Rebels, bottom-ager Jack Tillig stood up with 31 disposals as his side’s best, while fellow ’02 birth Fraser Marris was the next best alongside Round 9 player of the week nominee, Riley Polkinghorne. The Rebels will have to wait a week until they can redeem their performance, with a tough encounter against Western up next, while Eastern has the chance to go 2-0 against fellow top four hopefuls, Sandringham in what will be a top of the table clash in Round 11.

ROUND 11:

EASTERN RANGES 2.2 | 4.4 | 7.6 | 8.8 (56)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.2 | 3.5 | 5.6 | 5.8 (38)

Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash between Eastern and Sandringham saw little change in terms of ladder position, as the Ranges only strengthened their hold on top spot with an even three-goal win to go four points clear of their weekend opponents. With Eastern holding six and five-point buffers at the first two breaks, the Dragons always looked a chance to come back into the game, but hey were held off well as the Ranges slowly built their lead and kept the dangerous travelling side to just two points in the final term. A difference in firepower ended up being a telling factor, with Ben Hickleton (10 disposals, three goals) and Billy McCormack (19 disposals, 23 hitouts, two goals) stepping up in the absence of Jamieson Rossiter. Jack Bell was the best answer to their efforts for Sandringham up the other end, returning 13 disposals, 21 hitouts and a goal to put his hand up for Metro selection. In the ball-winning stakes, returning Sandringham star Darcy Chrigwin was phenomenal around the ball with a game-high 32 disposals and 16 tackles, with fellow returnee Ryan Byrnes having a steady 21 disposals and Jackson Voss matching his haul in a return to the outside. For Eastern, Jacob Gilbee, Zak Pretty, and Lachlan Stapleton led the possessions but were not named in the best – beaten out by the likes of Tyler Edwards (20 disposals, four inside 50s), Mihaele Zalac (19 disposals, six tackles), and James Ross (15 disposals, five rebound 50s). The Ranges will look to stay top with another win next week against Tasmania on the road, while Sandringham faces Oakleigh in what should be a cracker.

ROUND 12:

TASMANIA DEVILS 5.1 | 6.3 | 7.6 | 8.7 (55)
EASTERN RANGES 4.0 | 6.4 | 7.9 | 11.11 (77)

The Eastern Ranges extended their lead atop the NAB League standings to eight points, becoming the first side in 2019 to hit 10 wins with a 22-point victory over Tasmania on the Apple Isle.

It did not come easy though, with the hosts enjoying a great start on the back of a dominant three-goal opening term from bottom-age forward Jackson Callow. The Devils’ attacking approach saw them get the better of their more fancied opponents to the first break, opening a seven-point gap on the back of a free-flowing period of play. As expected, the Ranges hit back in the second term to edge in front at half time by a single point, but it proved a costly quarter for both sides as Tasmania lost Mitch O’Neill to an innocuous knee injury, while Eastern skipper James Ross was helped from the ground after copping the full force of a late bump. The game continued to tighten up in the third term as the sides shared a goal each to set up a tense finish, with Eastern’s tactical shift in the back half ensuring Callow was kept much quieter. Taking some good momentum into the final term, Eastern would go on to run away with the win with four goals to one, very much proving to be the team to beat.

The instinctual combination between Eastern’s midfield trio of Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton, and Zak Pretty proved telling, especially after Tasmania lost O’Neill with Mellis named best afield. Joel Nathan‘s role on Callow in the second half with Ross out of the game was crucial, despite the Tasmanian finishing with four goals and edging in front of Eastern’s Ben Hickleton to lead the NAB League goal kicking charts. For Tasmania, Matt McGuinness continued his good form across half back, taking on a greater role with Sam Collins shifting further afield at times. Oliver Davis was again instrumental through midfield, with Will Peppin busy around the ground and Rhyan Mansell dangerous up forward.

Both teams are set to line up in Round 14’s double-header at Box Hill City Oval, with Tasmania opening proceedings against Gippsland and Eastern readying for a top four clash with Oakleigh.

ROUND 13:

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.0 | 5.3 | 9.6 | 11.9 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 5.5 | 9.7 | 11.7 | 12.7 (79)

The Murray Bushrangers fell four points short of a remarkable second half comeback, going down to the ladder-leading Eastern Ranges in a tightly contested game. It was beginning to look elementary for Eastern early on as the Ranges put on 17 scoring shots to Murray’s eight to break to a 27-point half-time buffer. But the third term proved a breakthrough one for the Bushrangers, booting four goals to Eastern’s two to close within striking distance at just 13 points adrift. Another two goals to one was not enough to snatch the win though, with Eastern holding on for its ninth win from eleven games. While Joel Nathan was named best for the winners, Ben Hickleton (eight disposals, four goals) was efficient up the other end alongside Mitch Mellis (22 disposals, seven inside 50s, two goals) to make a profound impact. Zak Pretty matched Mellis’ disposal haul to lead the Ranges in that area, but was beaten out by Murray’s Jye Chalcraft – who led all-comers with 29. Ruckman Will Christie also stood tall with 19 disposals, eight marks, and 25 hit-outs, while Zane Barzen continues to mark everything (nine) and Zavier Maher (15 disposals, one goal) was also serviceable. The Bushrangers, who should cause some headaches for sides above them in the back end of the season, face Northern next for a chance to sneak into the eight, while Eastern hosts Oakleigh in a top four showdown.

ROUND 14:

EASTERN RANGES 4.2 | 6.2 | 9.5 | 11.9 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 0.2 | 6.6 | 8.10 | 12.11 (83)

In the second game of the double header, it looked to be a blowout early in the match with Eastern Ranges piling on four goals to zero in the opening term and had six on the board to Oakleigh’s one midway through the second term. The Chargers then roared into action, piling on five consecutive goals to hit the front by the main break. In a see-sawing second half, both sides looked to have a stake in the win, but it was not until Dylan Williams booted a late goal in the final term – as he had done on the eve of half-time, for Oakleigh to be home. While Williams finished with two majors, Cooper Sharman was dominant with four straight goals and 18 touches, looking ever-dangerous. Trent Bianco had a day out with 34 touches and 10 rebounds, camping off half-back and keeping the ball moving forward, while Jeromy Lucas and Will Phillips were among the big ball winners for the Chargers. For Eastern, it was a rare loss for the top-of-the-table side, but Jordan Jaworksi finished with four goals – three in the first half, while Beau Tennant booted three. Lachlan Stapleton was the standout midfielder in the absence of partner-in-crime Mitch Mellis, while Wil Parker and Zak Pretty were also productive in the midfield.

ROUND 15:

BYE

ROUND 16:

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

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.

ROUND 17:

CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 4.1 | 7.6 | 9.9 (63)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 | 10.7 (67)

Eastern Ranges snatched a dramatic after-the-siren win over Calder on Saturday to finish the regular season a game clear on top of the ladder. Bottom-age gun Connor Downie proved the hero, slotting home cooly with his twelfth disposal after earning a 50/50 incorrect disposal free kick with just seconds left. Earlier, the Cannons chipped away well to earn leads at two of the first three breaks and looked to have done enough to hold off the Ranges, with Mason Fletcher converting as time ticked away. But in the last roll of the dice play at the end of an action-packed final minute, the Ranges broke forward quickly and created the all-important scramble inside 50 to come up trumps through Downie. The diminutive Eastern midfield trio of Mitch Mellis (26 disposals), Zak Pretty (24) and Lachie Stapleton (23, two goals) was arguably led by the latter in a typically workmanlike display through the engine room, while 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie was also influential moving forward with his 17 touches and two minor scores. For the unlucky losers, Daniel Mott was very nearly a match-winner as he lifted late through midfield to prize a bunch of clearances among his 21 disposals and six inside 50s. State combine invitee Sam Ramsay led the disposal count with 27, while Ned Gentile (20 disposals, 0.3) had some nice moments and Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals. The result had little bearing on the final ladder and looked to prove as much in the build-up, with results at the other end of the ladder poising Calder against Tasmania in Wildcard Round while Eastern can enjoy a week off.

QUALIFYING FINAL:

EASTERN RANGES 1.6 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 7.10 (52)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.0 | 2.2 | 4.4 | 5.8 (38)

EASTERN Ranges are through to the preliminary finals after downing a highly rated Sandringham Dragons outfit at Mars Stadium this afternoon. The Ranges were ferocious from the opening bounce and looked like a side on a mission to show they were every bit the title contender. By the time the final siren sounded, the feeling around the stadium was that there was now four realistic premiership contenders, as an even team performance put them through. Jamieson Rossiter booted four goals, while the Ranges’ midfield was steady as always, but it was such an even contribution that they held firm and got the job done.

Eastern started strongly, but could not seem to miss the post with a remarkable four posters in the first quarter, two from Jordan Jaworski set shots, one from a Billy McCormack snap and one from a Lachlan Gawel set shot, all of which had they been goals could have seen the margin 25 points at quarter time. Instead, it was just six points with the breeze less dominant than the first game, but still just as influential compared to the other end. The only goals in the term came from Eastern’s Rossiter who converted a set shot from straight in front early, followed by a clunk from Miles Bergman in a pack with his shot sailing home. Louis Butler was busy in defence for the Dragons with nine touches and a couple of rebounds, while Ryan Byrnes (seven disposals) was busy in midfield. For the Ranges, McCormack had four inside 50s from eight disposals, while Zakery Pretty (eight disposals) and Mitch Mellis (seven) were just as busy.

With the wind by their side, it did not take long for the Dragons to hit back with the first major after a long shot from Darcy Chirgwin landed short, came off hands and was soccered through by Andrew Courtney to level the scores. But from that point on, the Ranges’ defence was a thing of beauty, not giving the Dragons an inch and rebounding everything that Sandringham threw at them. Lachlan Stapleton was the first to capitalise through a team goal that went from a series of a handballs and he finished off the great team work. Then came a bit of class from Tyler Sonsie with the Under 16s talent marking, playing on and negotiating the breeze perfectly with a violent turn that spun around the post for a major. The term was about to get better as a long shot on goal from Jaworski was marked close to the boundary by Rossiter, who turned and snapped his second and the lead was 18 points. A couple of late behinds – including a disappointing miss after the siren from Jake Bowey drew some choice words from Eastern players as the ladder leaders headed into half-time with a 16-point lead. Early in the term, Sandringham key forward/ruck Jack Bell was stretchered off in the with what looked to be a serious knee injury.

Sandringham looked a different team out in the second half, opening the half with great intent and back into their running game. The likes of Butler, Byrnes and Bergman were getting their hands on the ball and moving it quick, switching it through the middle and getting it inside 50 to set up scoring opportunities. On the other side, Eastern still pressured the ball carrier and had plenty of chances, but like the first term, missed a number of gettable opportunities inside 50. Byrnes set up a goal with a super pass inside 50 to Charlie Dean. While Dean’s shot missed, it gave Will Mackay a crumbing opportunity to snap around his body and boot his side’s third of the day. Another goal came shortly after, again thanks to running from a stoppage by Byrnes which lead to a Blake O’Leary free kick for front-on contact and goal. With the margin back within a kick, Eastern held on for dear life – such as a goal-saving spoil from captain James Ross on the line – and it paid dividends with their constant opportunities eventually getting them a goal on the board through Rossiter who again was clean at ground level, turned and snapped for his third major late in the quarter. The siren sounded with the Ranges 12 points up with the Dragons kicking towards a two-goal breeze but not much in it.

The fourth quarter was an entertaining arm wrestle with nothing in it, and it took a couple of class moments from players to keep the game alive on both sides. First it was Sonsie who received the last handball in a chain of a handballs and kicked it on the run which bounced through. Then it was the defensive work of Joel Nathan and Ross up the other end, such as Nathan’s one-on-one win against Dean under pressure to get it out. Unfortunately for the Ranges, Bergman was there to intercept on the 50m line and his kick sailed over the goal umpires head to put it back in single digits. For the next 10 minutes there was not much that separated the sides as Courtney missed a chance on goal and various Dragons attacks were stopped by the stringent Eastern back six. Instead, a costly 50m penalty with a couple of minutes left saw Rossiter with a free kick and then from the set shot put it through to send his side into the preliminary finals.

Pretty finished with a team-high 22 touches, while Mellis was everywhere with 21 disposals, four inside 50s and five tackles. Rossiter was the most crucial player with four majors in a low scoring contest from just 10 disposals and four marks, while Stapleton (19 disposals, eight tackles) and Connor Downie (18 disposals, two marks) were also impressive. For the Dragons, Byrnes was arguably best on ground with a Herculean four-quarter effort for his side with 27 disposals, four marks, 10 inside 50s and three tackles, setting up his team in any way he could. Butler also played on of his best games with 25 disposals and eight rebounds, while Bowey (14 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s) looked busy throughout.

PRELIMINARY FINAL:

EASTERN RANGES 2.1 | 4.3 | 7.4 | 10.8 (68)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 2.4 | 4.7 | 5.8 (38)

MINOR premier Eastern Ranges advanced to the NAB League grand final with a 30-point win over the Gippsland Power at Princes Park. The Ranges fought off every Gippsland challenge to run out comfortable winners in the end, claiming the 10.8 (68) to 5.8 (38) result.

In a slow opener, it was Eastern who edged ahead through goals from Jamieson Rossiter and Jordan Jaworski, with a long-range major to Harrison Pepper splitting the two Ranges efforts. The midfield battle was tight, with Gippsland’s key ball winners doing everything in their power to give their forwards first use. But the Ranges continued to get on top as the scrum-like contest wore on, working hard in general play to lock the ball in their half and create the better opportunities. Their chances were not all taken though, with the 11-point half-time lead not looking nearly as comfortable as the Ranges did out on the field and something they could have gone on to rue. In another two goals to one term, Caleb Serong’s set shot goal was Gipplsand’s sole response to majors from Todd Garner and a beauty from Connor Downie at range heading into the main break.

It took a while for the shackles to break after half-time too, but the Ranges made a brief spell of dominance count as Joshua Clarke broke the early deadlock while Jordan Jaworksi and Callum Norris followed suit. With the margin stretched out to 30 points the Power needed a lift. It came in the form of Sam Flanders up the field, with Nicholas Prowd almost an unlikely hero with two chances on goal, settling for the one major. A silly 50m penalty to Fraser Phillips gave Gippsland a sniff as he converted after the siren. In a familiar scene, it took until the six minute mark of the final term for a goal to be scored, and it came through Ben Hickleton to make things really tough for Gippsland. It was soon all over as Tyler Sonsie slotted home the sealer after Charlie Comben missed the chance to instantly reply, with Rossiter booting another and Serong adding his second just before the final siren.

Lachlan Stapleton led the charge with an equal game-high 28 touches, with bottom-age defender Wil Parker next best on 23 touches and Connor Downie impactful with his goal from 17 disposals. For Gippsland, it was the typical duo of Flanders (28 disposals) and Serong (21 disposals, two goals) who stood up, while Pepper was terrific in defence.

Thirteen players offered AFL chance in Mid-Season Draft

LAST night saw the first AFL Mid-Season Draft in 25 years, with 13 players previously overlooked in last year’s AFL Draft – and many more for some – finding homes, including four former AFL-listed players. We review each pick and take a look at who your club picked up.

PICK 1 | Carlton | Josh Deluca (Subiaco)

The former Fremantle player received a second chance when the Blues called out his name first in the draft. Since returning to the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Deluca has become a premier midfielder, winning the Simpson Medal for Best on Ground in the WAFL’s clash with the SANFL earlier in the month. Deluca adds a stronger body to Carlton’s midfield and is one player that could slot in almost immediately to the side, also having speed in his repertoire which will provide nice highlights for Carlton fans, and also great support for Patrick Cripps.

PICK 2 | Gold Coast | Mitch Riordan (Dandenong Stingrays)

The Dandenong Stingrays premiership co-captain gets his chance after an injury-riddled 2018 year. Riordan came back as an overager for the Stingrays in 2019, and has averaged 19.7 disposals, 3.5 marks and 4.7 tackles per game – all career best in the NAB League. His six games in 2019 already matched his total from last year, and he is more readymade than many 19-year-old prospects would be, joining premiership teammate Sam Fletcher at the SUNS who was also picked up post-draft. For SUNS fans, Riordan has elite agility clocking up 7.93 seconds in the agility test at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day.

PICK 3 | Melbourne | Kyle Dunkley (Gippsland Power)

Much like Riordan, Kyle Dunkley returned to the NAB League as an overager following an injury-riddled top-age year for Oakleigh Chargers. Hailing from Gippsland, Dunkley returned to the Power without school commitments now, and immediately made an impact as the clear standout 19-year-old prospect. His average disposal count rose from 13.0 to 18.5, and laid almost four more tackles per game this year. More importantly, Dunkley has played a key role in the midfield rather than as a medium forward, and has nice power in the way that he plays. He joins brother Josh in the AFL, and like Riordan is more of a readymade prospect than other 19-year-olds.

PICK 4 | Sydney | Michael Knoll (South Adelaide)

The premier ruckman outside the AFL arguably in the entire country, Michael Knoll was a surprise selection by the Swans considering the amount of pure rucks they have on their list. But with Sam Naismith injured and Callum Sinclair needing support, Knoll fills a need as a readymade ruck who the Swans can call upon if needed. The unlucky Panthers lose their ruck after also losing Keegan Brooksby and then Hayden McLean – who was recruited to replace Brooksby – to the AFL system. Another readymade player.

PICK 5 | North Melbourne | Lachlan Hosie (Glenelg)

It takes a special player to be leading the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) goalkicking tally, and that is exactly what Lachlan Hosie has done so far this season. The 22-year-old 189cm forward has booted 21 goals in eight games so far in 2019, averaging 2.6 goals per game. North Melbourne has been craving an extra marking forward, with Kangaroos fans likely to be pleased with the selection. Along with his goals, Hosie has averaged 14.5 disposals and 5.6 marks, while also getting up the ground and producing 2.5 inside 50s per game.

PICK 6 | Western Bulldogs | Ryan Gardner (Footscray VFL)

The key position utility has been impressive in his Victorian Football League (VFL) stint with Footscray this year, earning a second chance at the top level after a brief chance with Geelong as a teenager. Still only 21, Gardner has plenty of football left in him, and showed at state level he can play up either end. At AFL level, Gardner has been touted as a Tom Boyd replacement, and given he has already been a part of the Bulldogs’ system, he will not need to adjust to any game plans or tactics like at other clubs.

PICK 7 | Essendon | Will Snelling (West Adelaide)

Essendon were touted to pick up Michael Knoll given they lost Sam Draper and Joe Daniher to long-term injuries, but with Knoll off the board, they opted for fellow South Australian Will Snelling who fills the hole left by the injured Devon Smith. Snelling, like Gardner and Deluca, has also had a stint at AFL level, playing one game with Port Adelaide before being delisted last year. In his seven games thus far, Snelling has averaged 29.7 disposals – ranked in the top 10 in the SANFL League competition – as well as 9.6 tackles, 5.7 marks and 2.7 inside 50s.

PICK 8 | St Kilda | Jack Mayo (Subiaco)

One of the more unlucky players to miss out last year on being drafted, the WAFL Colts leading goalkicker has been one of the more dominant goalkickers in Western Australia over the journey. Mayo missed out on playing National Under 18 Championships, but booted 50 goals across 21 games in the Colts competition and has since transitioned between Reserves and Seniors this year in a strong Subiaco side. He has still managed to average two goals per game at Reserves level, and with Paddy McCartin now out long-term, Mayo provides another forward option for the Saints. In terms of his athletic traits, Mayo has elite speed for a tall (2.95 seconds) and elite vertical jump (84cm running jump) which he recorded at last year’s Western Australia state combine.

PICK 9 | Port Adelaide | Cam Sutcliffe (Port Adelaide Magpies)

Cam Sutcliffe became the fourth former AFL player to receive a lifeline in the Mid-Season Draft, and the second to be plucked out by the side he spent time in the Reserves with this year. After being delisted by Fremantle at the end of last year following 104 games and 18 goals, the 27-year-old offers another readymade option for the Power. In 2019, Sutcliffe has averaged 18.7 disposals at an elite disposal efficiency of 88 per cent, as well as 3.7 clearances and 3.5 tackles, more than enough for Port Adelaide to throw him an AFL lifeline.

PICK 10 | Hawthorn | Pass

PICK 11 | Fremantle | Dillon O’Reilly (East Fremantle)

The son of former Docker, Blue and Cat Stephen, Dillon O’Reilly was a key position player for Western Australia at the National Under 18 Championships, playing forward and through the ruck for the Sandgropers. In 2017 he booted 46 goals as a bottom-ager in the WAFL Colts, making his debut for the East Fremantle League side last year, booting three goals in two games. He has managed two games at League level so far this season, and is a tall option who can play anywhere Fremantle require him to in the future. Like Mayo, was one of a number of tall prospects overlooked last year, but has finally grabbed his chance and will now be able to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

PICK 12 | Adelaide | Pass

PICK 13 | Richmond | Marlion Pickett (South Fremantle)

A broken finger that will keep Marlion Pickett out for a couple of months did not deter Richmond from reading out his name at the Mid-Season Draft. The Tigers were keen to add an extra midfielder to their list, and Pickett is considered one of the top state league talents running around. He has only managed the two games this year, including the weekend’s match where he re-injured his finger, but last year managed 21.8 disposals as well as just under five marks and five tackles per game. He has that hard inside edge as well as class, and while he is 27 years old, Pickett will step into the line-up once fit. A great selection for a team in its premiership window.

PICK 14 | Collingwood | John Noble (West Adelaide)

Collingwood also picked up a readymade midfielder, that being South Australia’s John Noble, who was one of the best in the SANFL’s win over the WAFL earlier this year. Noble possesses a rare combination of speed and endurance which attracted the Pies to the 22-year-old, and while the choice of a midfielder would have surprised plenty of Pies fans, Noble provides extra depth for a side that has been tested with injuries this year. More importantly, being 22, Noble is a player who is a late bloomer with plenty of development left. Expect him to be one who catches the eye for Collingwood’s VFL side until he is set to challenge for a role in the AFL side.

PICK 15 | Gold Coast | Pass

PICK 16 | Sydney | Cody Hirst (Eastern Ranges)

The king of agility earned a place on Sydney’s list as the last pick in the Mid-Season Draft. Despite missing almost an entire season through injury, Hirst did not lose his agility at the Rookie Me Combine last year, breaking Stephen Hill’s AFL record twice – consecutively. After being a pressure forward previously, Hirst moved up to a wing this season and the role paid dividends, winning more of the ball and being able to use his athletic traits to hurt opposition sides in transition. He is one of the more long-term prospects, weighing in at barely 70kg, but he has the athleticism and versatility to make a strong go of the top level.

PICK 17 | Western Bulldogs | Pass

PICK 18 | Essendon | Pass

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 7

IN the most evenly spread Draft Central Team of the Week thus far, every match provided four players from the NAB League Boys Round 7 competition. With Gippsland powering to a big win over Calder, the Power had three players to the Cannons’ one, however every other game the teams were split evenly with two apiece. There were plenty of goals kicked by medium sized players, while a number of defenders had big numbers and some strong performances from inside midfielders also saw them make the cut.

Gippsland’s trio that made the side were captain Brock Smith off half-back, Sam Flanders in midfield and Riley Baldi on the bench who was also influential around the stoppages. Calder’s Jacob Martin also found plenty of the ball despite the defeat and slotted into the midfield. Bendigo Pioneers’ Sam Conforti won our Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 7 and is named in the centre alongside fellow nominee for the award, Jay Rantall from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. Their teammates in the side are defender William Wallace (Bendigo) and mid-forward Toby Mahony (GWV).

On the other wing is Eastern Ranges overager Cody Hirst, joined in the side by Zakery Pretty who is enjoying a big year in midfield. Their opposition was Sandringham Dragons, as Miles Bergman and Ryan Byrnes made the 24-player squad as well. Tasmania also provided two players with match winner Jye Menzie and teammate Sam Collins represented in the team up either end. Holding down the other key defensive post is Geelong Falcons’ Jesse Clark, in the side with bottom-age forward Oliver Henry. Their opponents on the weekend were Murray Bushrangers, which provided full-forward Hudson Kaak (five goals) and Cam Wild who was impressive through the midfield.

In the other games, Dandenong Stingrays’ regular Hayden Young made the side again, as did Ned Cahill up forward, while their opponents Western Jets had ruck Will Kennedy and forward Eddie Ford in the team. The remaining players in the side come from the Northern Knights who were victorious over GWV Rebels, as Lachlan Potter‘s form continued, in the team with Team of the Week regular, Josh D’Intinosante.