IT is hard to pick a winner in this year’s Morrish Medal count which will take place on Sunday, with a number of potential draft prospects putting their hands up for the NAB League Boys’ top award. We will run through some of the key contenders from each side and our predictions.
The Pioneers are unlikely to have a winner because of the shared effort between their best players week-to-week. Thomson Dow will poll well at either end of the season, but missed far too many games due to school football, while the likes of Riley Wilson, Josh Treacy, Aaron Gundry and James Schischka will steal votes off each other depending on who the umpires liked on the day. Not having a huge amount of wins means there will not be a great deal of three-votes either.
There is a chance a Cannon could don the Morrish Medal, but it will rely on one of Daniel Mott or Sam Ramsay picking up the votes when both are in the team. If they end up splitting them like it will likely occur, it means they might fall short of an individual win. Brodie Newman should poll some good votes early in the season as well, while Ned Gentile will arguably grab some later in the season, and maybe roll into the higher votes with Mott and Ramsay.
Much like Hugh McCluggage before him, Hayden Young would be a chance given he has only missed due to the championships. Later in the season he was thrown around in different roles which might detract some votes, but his early season form was terrific and will still poll some later in the year, but more likely single votes. Ned Cahill is the other Stingray who will likely poll strongly in the vote count, while Jack Toner and Lachlan Williams might grab some lower votes for consistency.
The club that will be the most interesting to watch because they genuinely have three players that could win it in Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Zakery Pretty. All three have been consistent throughout the year, with our preference leaning towards Mellis just for the reason of hitting the scoreboard more often and has hardly had a bad game. In our prediction we had Mellis picking up 18 votes, including four best on grounds, while Pretty finished with 15 – two best on grounds – and Stapleton on 10 – mostly picking up the ‘two’ votes because others had huge games while he was consistent. Though they will likely steal votes off each other, if the umpires favour a particular player, then that player will likely take control given Eastern will roll in the votes this year.
Hard to see the bottom side polling enough votes to present a winner this year. Jesse Clark would be the Falcons’ top hope, and we have him on 11 for the season, but they are likely to be single votes given most games were losses. After Clark it is extremely even with the Charlie trio – Charlie Sprague, Charlie Harris and Charlie Lazzaro among the next in line.
Similar to Eastern, watching how the Gippsland votes will play out is something worth keeping an eye on. We have Riley Baldi topping the list with 10 votes, one ahead of Sam Flanders and Brock Smith, but given the consistency and nature of the performances by those players, it will be hard for umpires to separate them. Fraser Phillips and Ryan Sparkes might steal the odd vote off the trio as well.
Jay Rantall is one of the front-runners for the award because he is likely to pick up a host of three-votes, strong in the Rebels’ early wins and tight losses. He racks up big numbers and is eye-catching which helps, though Mitch Martin (who we have reaching double-figure votes) could also pick up votes from him. Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne are others who should poll in a few games given their consistency.
Another team that has an even contribution from its top-end with Jye Chalcraft, Lachlan Ash, Cam Wild and Jimmy Boyer the four names to keep an eye on in this space. Chalcraft is the one we have polling the most, and with Ash missing a number of games due to Vic Country and AFL Academy commitments, the other trio are potentially going to benefit on Morrish Medal night. Depending on how the votes go, they could steal them off each other or if one can monopolise them, then they will be a serious contender.
Two names emerge from the Knights as genuine contenders in Josh D’Intinosante and Sam Philp. The pair did not play for Vic Metro and therefore have more games to poll in, and similar to Jackson Davies, will pick up three or two votes in matches when they have really stood out. We know small forwards have traditionally polled well, so D’Intinosante is a chance, though the umpires might lean towards the contested mid in Philp.
With all the school football and injuries at times to co-captains, Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams, it is hard to get a read on how Oakleigh’s votes will poll. There is little doubt that had Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell played full seasons we could be looking at a one-two from Oakleigh. We still have Anderson polling nine votes and Rowell seven despite playing just four games each to be the highest vote getters. But also on seven are Bianco, Fraser Elliot, Lochlan Jenkins and Reef McInnes, signifying how hard it is to work out who will secure the votes mid-season.
Liam Stocker won it last year, and now a player who also did not have school football commitments could get the job done in 2019 with Ryan Byrnes. He missed some games due to injury, but is a genuine chance to take home the Morrish, with realistically only Angus Hanrahan the other player likely to steal votes when the school footballers were away. They will end up with a lot of players having votes on the night, but these two stand out above the others.
Did not win enough games to get too many three votes, but Matt McGuinness and Oliver Davis are the two players who will compete for the most votes at the league’s newest club. Jackson Callow will pick some up for his work up forward, while Mitch O’Neill will steal them when he got out on the park.
Lucas Rocci is predicted to be the Jets’ highest voter, finishing the season in a blaze of glory to take up Darcy Cassar‘s role, who will ironically be the one polling votes early in the season. Those two will pick up the key votes either end of the season, with Josh Honey and Daly Andrews the other two who might come into consideration from the umpires.
TOP CONTENDERS: (Based on our prediction)
Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges) 18 votes
R1: 0 – Okay first game, but just the 17 touches in a dominant day for Noah Anderson. Oakleigh likely to take top votes.
R2: 3 – Was a clear best on ground in the win over the Jets, racking up 35 touches and booting three majors.
R3: 3 – Had the 29 touches and three goals in an easy win over the Knights. James Ross the one who could steal the three-vote with 30 disposals in defence.
R5: 1 – Was solid with 24 touches, but Zak Pretty had a mammoth day out against the Suns with 37, while Lachlan Stapleton racked up big numbers.
R6: 0 – Was solid with 21 touches, but was shaded by Pretty and Stapleton on the day, but more so the Power with Riley Baldi, Brock Smith and Sam Flanders all in contention for votes.
R9: 3 – Safe as houses for the three votes with a mammoth 39 disposals and seven inside 50s.
R12: 3 – Another likely best-on-ground performance after 33 touches and a goal – 10 more touches than any other player in Eastern’s win over the Devils.
R13: 2 – Narrow win over the Bushrangers, a chance for the three votes with 22 touches and two goals, but Jye Chalcraft was superb that day with 29.
R16: 2 – Amongst it for votes, Zak Pretty, Hayden Young and Jack Toner all possibilities, though Mellis had 24 touches in a strong game.
R17: 1 – Tightest of wins over Eastern, Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Lachlan Stapleton the big vote threats.
Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels) 16 votes
R1: 0 – Rebels fell short of victory against Stingrays, a number of others on both sides ahead of Rantall for votes.
R2: 3 – Was a key reason the Rebels snuck home, but votes could go to Cooper Stephens who was terrific in the one-point loss.
R3: 3 – A clear best-on-ground performance with 31 touches and two goals, but a loss to the Bushrangers might prevent him from picking up the three.
R5: 3 – Stood out against the Thunder with 27 disposals and two goals. Riley Polkinghorne and Toby Mahony could be vote threats.
R6: 0 – Just 14 touches in the loss to the Suns, won’t poll in this game.
R7: 3 – The Rebels lost by 32 to the Knights which might cost him the votes, but he had a massive 36 touches, 10 more than any other player.
R8: 0 – A game-high 30 touches, but the Rebels were thrashed by the Power with a raft of players likely to collect all the votes. Will be the one to get one if Rebels get a look in, though.
R14: 0 – Comfortable win over the Falcons, but Mitch Martin was superb, while Noah Gribble and Jesse Clark will get chances for the Falcons.
R15: 2 – Expect Sam Ramsay to pick up the three in the Cannons’ tight win over the Rebels, though Rantall was just as good despite the loss.
R16: 3 – Turned it on when required against the Pioneers with 21 touches and two goals in a low-possession game. Jack Ginnivan’s 19 and four might earn the three votes, while Josh Treacy was also in contention.
R17: 0 – Finished the game with 20 touches but just five in the first half will hurt his vote chances. Feeling is he misses out, but could pick up a vote.
Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons) 16 votes
R1: 2 – Massive win to the Dragons over the Cannons, Byrnes among the best with 27 touches and a goal, but Charlie Dean booted five goals.
R2: 3 – Accounted for the Knights and was the standout midfielder for the Dragons. Adam Carafa had 29 touches for the Knights, while Dean was inaccurate with 4.3.
R3: 0 – Okay but Matt Rowell, Trent Bianco, Jack Mahony and Finn Maginness are likely to poll votes ahead of him.
R5: 3 – A smashing win over the Lions with 26 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal. Louis Butler’s 31 is a threat to steal the ‘three’.
R7: 1 – Went down to the Ranges and Zak Pretty and Cody Hirst both impressed. Best of the Dragons though with Angus Hanrahan the other a chance to sneak a vote.
R8: 3 – Should poll the three votes here in the Dragons’ narrow win over Bendigo thanks to 31 touches, three marks and a goal. If Miles Bergman kicked straighter (1.5) it might be a different story.
R11: 0 – Went down to the Ranges and Darcy Chirgwin dominated upon return.
R13: 2 – Loss to the Jets, with Lucas Rocci picking up nine rebounds, and Finn Maginness also impressive, but should poll one or two.
R14: 0 – Tight win over the Stingrays, Angus Hanrahan and Hayden Young the clear standouts. Fischer McAsey with three goals likely to poll as well.
R15: 2 – Massive game to Angus Hanrahan (33 touches, three goals) will earn him the three votes, but Byrnes was next best with 28 and one.
R17: 0 – Just the 13 touches and plenty in line for votes ahead of him in the massive game against Oakleigh.
Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights) 16 votes
R1: 0 – Went down to the Jets, and Josh Honey, Sam Philp, Adam Carafa and Ryan Sturgess among those in contention, though he could grab a minor vote.
R2: 0 – Went down to the Dragons by 43 points and was inaccurate with 1.4.
R3: 0 – Held his own with 21 touches and a goal, but Knights were smashed by the Ranges and Philp was Northern’s best. Mellis and Ross the top vote getters.
R5: 3 – The difference in the Knights’ win over Bendigo, booted a goal from 30 touches, six marks and eight tackles.
R6: 3 – Again the standout player with two goals from 25 touches, Lachlan Potter and Jackson Davies two that could steal votes.
R7: 2 – They won by 32 but Jay Rantall had a field day, while ‘JD’ finished with 1.3 from 20 touches.
R8: 0 – Narrow loss to the Chargers and others were better, just the 16 touches and one behind.
R9: 0 – Loss to the Cannons and Philp and Davies good again, unlikely to pick up a vote.
R10: 0 – Massive win over the Stingrays, but not among the best despite two goals.
R11: 2 – A chance to pick up the three, but will likely go to Philp. Both had the 30 touches, with D’Intinosante slightly inaccurate with three behinds.
R13: 0 – Seven-goal win and he booted four majors – a chance for votes, though Carafa, Philp, Davies and Potter were all impressive.
R14: 3 – Six goals from 18 touches – Lock in the three votes, Eddie.
R15: 0 – Just the 13 touches and one goal in the 37-point loss to Bendigo.
R17: 3 – Booted 4.2 from 13 touches on the weekend in a low-disposal winning game, with Carafa, Ewan Macpherson, Ryan Sturgess and Josh Watson all potential for votes though.
Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) – 16 votes
R1: 0 – Just 10 disposals and a behind in a quiet outing at RAMS Arena.
R2: 0 – A chance for votes with two goals from 26 touches in the tight loss to Bendigo, but Lachlan Ash and Cam Wild were impressive, as was Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp.
R3: 1 – Jay Rantall had a great day with 31 touches and two goals, while Ash starred with 28. Chalcraft next best in the seven-point win.
R5: 0 – 22 touches and a goal, but Wild had a good day as Hamish Ellem (22 touches, nine marks and 3.3) should get the ‘three’.
R6: 0 – Booted two goals but just 14 touches in the loss to the GIANTS as Tom Green monstered them and Jeromy Lucas and Ed Perryman had big numbers, while Ash was best for the Bushrangers.
R7: 3 – Finally got the win and Chalcraft was important with 26 touches in the midfield. Wild (27 and one goal) and Dylan Clarke (23 and two) the two biggest threats.
R8: 0 – Well beaten by the Cannons and just 13 touches.
R9: 0 – Okay with 17 disposals and a goal, but Bushrangers were smashed by Chargers so no votes, and Wild and Jimmy Boyer both better.
R10: 0 – Boyer, Clarke and Charlie Byrne in the running for votes as Murray accounted for the Devils. Chalcraft not far behind with 20 touches.
R11: 3 – 27 disposals and six inside 50s, competing for the top votes with Wild.
R12: 3 – 33 disposals, four inside 50s and five tackles in a low-scoring win over the Pioneers, Boyer booted 1.4 from 27 disposals as his biggest challenger for votes.
R13: 3 – Topped the disposals comfortably with 29, though Ranges won by four points and Mellis and Pretty both had 22, with Mellis booting two goals.
R14: 0 – 18 touches and a goal in a 20-point loss, others ahead of him for votes.
R15: 2 – Big win over the Jets, but will be competing with Wild, Ash and Boyer for votes.
R17: 1 – Loss to the Rebels, but had 22 touches and was one of Murray’s best with Wild and Josh Rachele, might be behind Cooper Craig-Peters as well though.
Others: (Based on our predictions)
Zakery Pretty (Eastern Ranges) – 15 votes – Could take some of the Mellis votes if the umps prefer clearance midfielders.
Sam Philp (Northern Knights) 15 votes – Could take some of the D’Intinosante votes.
Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons) 14 votes – Misses quite a few games, but when at his best he is looking at high votes.
Lucas Rocci (Western Jets) 13 votes – Had a purple patch in the second half of the season, have him for four best-on-grounds.
Tom Green (GWS GIANTS) 12 votes – Four games, four BOGs, absolute domination.
Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons) 12 votes – Might take votes off Byrnes, and guaranteed some threes after huge games.
Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons) 11 votes – Battling with Mott for Cannons votes.
Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays) 11 votes – Should pick up plenty, but run home not as much.
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS) 11 votes – Like Green, was massive in the Academy Series games.
Jesse Clark (Geelong Falcons) 11 votes – Should monopolise most of the Falcons’ votes.
Mitch Martin (GWV Rebels) 11 votes – Toss up between him and Rantall for votes at the Rebels.
Lachlan Stapleton (Eastern Ranges) 10 votes – May take votes off Mellis and Pretty, particularly if the umps like tackling midfielders.
Riley Baldi (Gippsland Power) 10 votes – Has plenty of competitors for votes at the Power, but seems to do it all.
Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers) 10 votes – Stands out even in average games, but missed a fair chunk due to Vic Country and AFL Academy.
Our Predictions after Round 5:
Tom Green (GWS) – 9 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 8 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 8 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 8 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 7 votes
Lachlan Ash (MB) – 7 votes
Our Predictions after Round 10:
Tom Green (GWS) – 12 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 12 votes
Zakery Pretty (ER) – 12 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 11 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 11 cotes
Daniel Mott (CC) – 11 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 10 votes
Sam Philp (NK) – 10 votes