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Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 17

THE cream is beginning to rise to the top in the NAB League as we reach the business end of the season. There was a bunch of top-end prospects to stand up in tight games this weekend, with out scouts getting to both the Metro and Country triple-headers. Here are their opinion-based notes on some of the players who received a National, State or Rookie Me Draft Combine invitation, or represented Vic Country and Vic Metro at the Under-16 Championships and Under-17 Futures games.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

The energetic small enjoyed time in the midfield, bringing good attack and speed to the engine room. He started well with an accurate hit-up kick to Archi Manton and excelled with penetrating kicks into the forward 50 off only a few steps. Failli also zipped away from congestion well and was often present at the fall of the ball, where he used his agility and clean hands to stay in possession. Not a massive game, but was busy.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Continued his apprenticeship as a key defender for most of the game, positioning well inside defensive 50 to cut off a few Northern attacks – especially early on. Jeka positioned smartly to intercept in the first term and used his ideal foot skills to find both short options and penetrate long on the rebound. He was swung back to his more familiar forward position in the second half but missed the chance to hit the scoreboard as he missed with a third term set shot. But Jeka would still have an impact in that department despite Western’s low-scoring effort, assisting an Archi Manton goal after finding him by foot inside 50.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Had a slow start to the game but built into it with repeat running and driving bursts along the outside. Positioned on the wing and off half-back, Cassar worked well both ways and tried his best to help Western exit the Knights’ territory after quarter time. His instincts in reading the high balls came into play with a defensive 50 intercept mark over the back in the third term, and Cassar went on to accumulate many of his team-high 22 disposals in a more influential second half.

#24 Josh Honey

Was far and away the Jets’ best player for mine, building in confidence as the game went on and causing headaches with his explosiveness from midfield. Honey’s aggression going both ways went a ways to setting the tone for his side, and his willingness to get on the move at every opportunity was a key part of Western’s promising start. Time and time again, Honey broke away from congestion with pure speed and strength, burning opponents with ease and pumping the ball forward. His aggression translated to a bit of niggle and a particularly strong tackle on Sam Philp in the second term, and Honey had an eye-catching three-bounce run later on. Has some terrific traits, just needs to find consistency and eliminate his down games.

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Is really coming into his own as a more permanent small forward, bouncing back to form with his second four-goal haul for the year. D’Intinosante broke the game open in the second term, booting three goals in quick succession early in the piece to get Northern well on top and build the game-defining margin. His first goal came off the back of some great pressure, snapping up the resultant turnover and slamming the ball home. His second goal came a bit easier as he was found over the back in the goalsquare, but he produced another fine bit of work with his third goal from a shrewd front and centre take off hands. D’Intinosante went on to add his fourth with a nicely hit set shot in the third term, and was dangerous throughout with his work deep in the forward half.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner recovered from a couple of shaky moments early on, winning a good amount of ball on the outer and providing neat use by foot going forward. Rotating between the wing and half forward, Gardner was terrific in the middle period of the game with clearing balls forward and a nice goal assist to Nikolas Cox. He continually got the ball in good areas and booted inside 50, getting involved as the Jets looked to mount a comeback. Finds space well but can also get to work on both sides of the stoppages.

#8 Adam Carafa

It was a pretty typical outing from Carafa, who accumulated his possessions at the coalface and flicked out well to his runners with 17 handballs from 23 disposals. He first caught the eye with a well weighted kick though, finding Josh D’Intinosante through the corridor with little fuss. While he is a touch fumbly in collecting the loose ball on occasion, Carafa proved his poise in possession with a couple of classy one-on-one wins in space and had the presence of mind to step around oncoming opponents. Will enjoy playing mostly through the middle having been used up either end throughout the last two years at representative level.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Was arguably a very, very close second for best afield on the back of some fantastic aerial efforts. Starting the game at centre-half-back, Sturgess was his reliable self as he acted as an outlet and intercepter across defensive 50. His flying speckie from behind in the second term was a sign of things to come as Sturgess continued to fly confidently over opponents after half time. His courage in hitting the ball hard and plowing through anyone in the way was great to see, leading up and crashing the packs. Sturgess’ whopping 13 marks really showcased the best of the National Combine invitee, and he almost finished with another highlight as he narrowly missed a long-range attempt in the fourth quarter.

#14 Josh Watson

Was named best afield for the Knights and rightly so having made an electric start to the game. Watson did some great work up the ground at the stoppages, snapping the ball up cleanly and breaking away with speed and pumping the ball inside 50 on his left side. His use by foot was often a weapon, finding good range and looking for his tall leading targets – even if he could have lowered his eyes on a few occasions. Was a relative unknown coming into just his fifth game, but the bottom ager certainly captured some attention.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Is such an exciting prospect on athleticism and versatility alone, doing some nice work up either end as more of a key position option. Cox’s leap and clean hands on both levels were exceptional, making him a threat no matter what kind of delivery he was given. He hit the scoreboard early on the back of a 50m penalty and would later add a second with an outstanding wheeling goal in the following term from on the arc to show his true capabilities. Cox was thrown down back to finish the game and was good with his positioning, contesting Western’s forward forays and rebounding to good effect.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

Is just a consistent performer in the back half, doing the defensive things well and working hard to become relevant when exiting the arc. Macpherson racked up a fair chunk of the ball in the first term as Northern played a more high-possession and slow defensive game, but had more important touches later on under heat. Is usually a sound short kick and has good awareness in knowing when to release, while also proving solid in mopping up one-on-one ground balls.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Was one who really lifted when the game was on the line, often found at the bottom of packs and extracting from the stoppages as he has done more often since the national carnival. Mott just always found a way to will the ball forward, getting out the back of a few stoppages and booting long while wheeling away from the traffic. He made a more typical play in the third term with a neat goal assist kick to Jake Sutton, but was sometimes a touch more rushed in possession. Will thrive off receiving more ball on the outside at the next level when not acting as the number one ball winner.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Started brightly with a goal in the first term and found a lot of his possessions going forward, proving dangerous when in full flight. While he can sure up his short-range kicking at times, Cardillo made a couple of neat plays in-tight when keeping his hands free and shifting to release around opponents, while also getting good penetration with longer kicks going inside 50. Clunked a really strong mark from behind in the third term and came off worse for wear, but that kind of attack is just part of his game.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Again proved industrious going both ways in midfield, wheeling away to boot forward clearing kicks and tackling hard when not in possession. His chase to catch an opponent hold the ball in the second term was exceptional and he went on to lay a few more hard tackles at stoppages. Ramsay had a long range snap touched on the line in the final term which could have been a deciding factor, but otherwise made his impact around the ball.

#21 Harrison Jones

Moves so well for his size and was prominent in the air in patches, showing good courage going back and hitting up strongly on the lead at full stretch. Jones found the goals early with a set shot conversion, while assisting for Jake Sutton in the second term and later missing a chance for his second major after marking well one-on-one. Has great potential and favourable traits, but is yet to truly rip a game apart.

#38 Brodie Newman

Had a couple of tricky matchups down back, being held accountable by Eastern’s dangerous talls while still trying to get some rebounding drive going. Newman was caught out a couple of times biting off too much in possession, but looked more assured as the game went on with quicker disposals and some smart decisions. He took a strong pack mark in the second term and looked safe on the last line as the game heated up. A solid game without being exceptional.

Eastern:

#7 Lachie Stapleton

Was his usual productive self through midfield, repeatedly getting to the drop of the ball and sweeping up the loose ball. Stapleton’s short game was neat and he often used it after breaking well from congestion where he read the taps from both rucks. He moved forward to good effect, intercepting inside 50 in the second term and putting through the set shot, and later capping his game with a beautiful finish on the run to level the scores in the final term. Stapleton also got stuck in with his tackles, laying a couple on the end of persistent chases early on and rising to the occasion as the game tightened up.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Another of Eastern’s diminutive midfielders who just always puts in the work and sets the tone for his side. Mellis constantly looked to get on the move in possession, using his speed and agility to break free. His repeat running was a feature, dishing the ball out to runners and going on to get it back up the field to continue the Ranges’ forward forays. He contributed a handy goal assist to Ben Hickleton in the final term when the pressure was on, adding to his ball winning feats.

#18 Billy McCormack

The Eastern big man was used in a different role this time around, tried up the other end as a key defender. His positioning was sound, often getting to long balls into defensive 50 and plucking the ball with ease. He made some good reads out the back when others were sucked into the ball and also affected some long rebounding kicks. McCormack finished the game up forward where he had less of an impact, but was still solid.

#20 Connor Downie

The hero of the day, Downie had a slightly more patchy game in the build up to his match winning goal. He started with some dangerous accumulation around half-forward, missing a quickfire long-range shot on goal in the first term and having another go out on the full. He sharpened up after the main break, becoming the chain on the outside we have come to expect while still going forward well. His moment in the sun came on the back of staying with the play and laying a strong tackle to force the spillage and deciding free kick, converting cooly after the siren.

#23 Zak Pretty

Compliments his midfield partners so well and while he is slightly less heralded, Pretty is clever in congestion and does things you have to look closely to see. He kicked off his game with the very first clearance and a few hacked kicks forward, but looked a lot better when propping in possession and releasing drawing handballs out with good vision and execution. Pretty’s ability to hand out to a voice was also noticeable and was more than handy as the game became more contested.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old is really coming on quickly and racked up 17 disposals in this game, spending time up forward and through the midfield. He was a good link going forward and penetrated both arcs, having his most important one in the final term and Eastern broke inside 50 for the game winning play. He missed a couple of tough chances on goal but is usually pretty clinical around the big sticks. Has plenty of potential, and could be a wildcard for the Ranges heading into finals a-la Jaidyn Stephenson a few years ago.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

What a handy addition to the Sandringham side Chirgwin has been after a long injury layoff, putting in the hard yards through midfield and providing a great point of difference. A lot of his work was done on the inside in a more unheralded role, digging in at the stoppages going both ways to prize a team-high 30 disposals and lay seven tackles. His handballs from in-close under tackling pressure worked well, and his cleanliness by hand translated to overhead marking as he pulled down a couple of important ones in the thick of the action. Lifted when the game was on the line and he will be important in the crunch finals moments.

#4 Finn Maginness

Arguably the Dragons player who stood up most in the final term and tried to will his side over the line, making an impact through the midfield and booting three clutch goals – including two at the start of the fourth quarter. His first goal came all the way back in the first term with a straightforward conversion from close range, and while he was a touch quiet after that, Maginness popped up with a couple of strong marks and bustling bursts through the corridor. His second goal came from a lovely snap and wheeling finish, with his third another set shot inside 50. Still has some improvement left in him, which makes him all the more valuable as a prospect.

#6 Miles Bergman

A player who does not have many touches but has truly important ones, which was the case again in this game. His overhead marking was again strong, starting with one in the first term while also mopping up below his knees around the ground well. Kicking remains an areas of improvement for Bergman despite all of his eye-catching traits, turning the ball over going inside 50 on two occasions going inside 50 and rushing a touch when throwing it on his boot. Is still very promising and found the goals as he usually does with a free kick in the second term.

#13 Louis Butler

Was his usual self in the back half, getting to an absolute raft of contests across the defensive arc and providing his trademark rebound. He was another who was sometimes rushed on the ball when going long or clearing his lines, but worked into that area as he accumulated across the day. He took an important overhead mark in the corridor with pressure on in the final term and intercepted inside defensive 50 in the same term to show the kind of impact he can have.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Again won a heap of ball on the outside and worked so well between the arcs, linking the play and providing an outlet from tight spaces. The over-ager’s short kicking and work along the line was sound, and he began to have more of an impact on the game with his drifting runs forward. Both of his goals came in the second half; the first was a classy snap as the ball dropped inside 50, and the second came after again finding space inside 50 to mark and boot home the set shot.

#45 Archie Perkins

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going. Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals. His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

It was a real captain’s effort from Bianco, who was influential in the closing stages to cap off a solid outing. Assuming his familiar role off half-back, Bianco started with a few receives on the back and outside of the centre bounces, using his trademark pace to accelerate away from congestion and get the Chargers going forward. The look of his weaving runs along the outer are pretty unique to Bianco, always looking for holes to run into and the best options up the ground. He put in an important touch up on the wing to spark the chain for one of Noah Anderson’s fourth quarter goals, and just has so much class.

#8 Noah Anderson

Was an out and out match winner for Oakleigh, lifting for a mammoth final quarter effort where he booted two of the final three goals – including the one to put his side in front. Earlier, Anderson began up forward and worked up the ground well, proving impossible to tackle when on the move forward and having a couple of tight shies on goal. Anderson’s combination of bursts and baulks was outstanding, allowing him to find the space to deliver effectively by foot. His final quarter consisted of a goal assist to Fraser Elliot, an intercept mark and goal from the shot, and his third goal shortly after from a strong bit of play as he snapped the ball home. He is just such an impact player, able to tear the game to shreds either up forward or through midfield.

#11 Matt Rowell

What more is there to say about Rowell; he is just so consistent and seldom puts a foot wrong, while also displaying just about every desirable trait in a midfield prospect. His wheeling runs and arching back saw the commentary team reach full voice, extracting a game-high 34 disposals in a permanent midfield game and using the ball brilliantly going forward. Rowell looked on early as he hit up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for Oakleigh’s first goal, later providing another for Finlay Macrae on the back of a centre bounce clearance. He seemed tireless when working through midfield, willing himself to the ball at stoppages and showing good vision with his handballs out. Rowell’s overhead marking was also prominent, backing back with courage and proving safe with his hands. Just as much of a game winner as his highly credentialed mate, Noah Anderson, and has an influence throughout each game.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

It was another eye-catching display from the highlight reel forward, making the most of his few possessions to prove a menace up forward with four high quality goals. His hands overhead are so strong, helping him to hold onto a mark for his first goal in the square and another in the opening term. His highlight for the game came in the following quarter as the ball sat up perfectly for him to rise above two opponents and clunk a sensational mark inside 50, which led to a third goal. The Bulldogs NGA member has rare athleticism for a tall, making him such a difficult match up as he covers the ground well but also towers above defenders with his leap. His fourth goal was another beauty, stealing the ball inside 50 and propping before deciding to go for goal himself and slamming the ball home. Just does the mercurial every game and hardly misses a chance, unbelievable talent.

#29 Finlay Macrae

Is coming into a nice patch of form, looking comfortable among some of the best top-age ball winners to find plenty of the pill. His class on the ball is obvious, finding it in all areas and using it effectively with polished kicks. He also gets forward well and found the goals again in this game with a nice finish during Oakleigh’s final quarter onslaught. Will be a leading candidate heading into 2020.

#73 Cooper Sharman

It was not Sharman’s biggest game considering the lofty standard he has set thus far in Chargers colours, but he still managed to pitch in with a few exciting touches. He covered the ground well and worked up to half forward to provide an option, while knowing when to stay forward and get onto the long entry. His second term was his most busy, hitting the post from a near impossible soccer attempt and later finding the mark beautifully after taking a grab at full stretch. Added a second goal in the final term, which was the last for the match, to seal the win.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams

#1 Sam Conforti

The powerful small midfielder provided fierce tackling pressure from the first bounce and also had a number of deft touches, kicking inside 50 perfectly to the leading Thomson Dow. He did it again later in the game, hitting up Seamus Mitchell inside 50 and showed strength in contested situations. He intercepted a Brock Smith kick at half-forward at one stage and played on to kick inside 50 but it fell short just bouncing through for a behind.

#4 Thomson Dow

Had a really busy opening term where he put through an early goal after some nice leading inside 50 and his subsequent set shot from 40m out on a 45-degree angle. He showed off his one-touch ability, clean in the conditions and did a nice move under pressure in the second term where he went one way, was corralled so calmly changed directions and hit his target. Dow had a quieter third term before picking up again in the last term at both ends. He took a terrific mark inside 50 but his set shot missed to the right and fell short but it was kept in play for Jack Ginnivan to snap truly. Then he was seen down in defence showing good composure with ball-in-hand under pressure, and took a great contested mark in the forward half.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Gets involved around the ground and does more than just the usual ruck role. He showed good hands at ground level and was not afraid to get down and do the ground work as well as the aerial stuff. He used terrific bodywork inside 50 in the second term for Jack Ginnivan to swoop in and dribble a goal, then took a good contested mark at half-forward and continued to present as an option across the ground.

#19 Ben Worme

Started the game on the right note with great vision and a nice kick to hit-up Jack Ginnivan inside 50. He had a flying shot on goal himself but went to the right, and then went into the middle and continued to look busy. He was really solid across the four quarters with the one question mark coming around the urgency to move the ball as he looked a tad too casual late in the game where he had time to dispose of it but waited and his kick was smothered deep in defence.

#20 James Schischka

Was rock solid in defence, particularly in the first half before being sent forward. He repelled opposition attacks and then when he went forward looked to be an option. He had a shot on goal from the boundary line but shanked it out on the full, then set up a goal to Josh Treacy the next quarter with a low bullet inside 50. Schischka went back into defence late and took a courageous mark in front of Josh Smith floating back into defence and then took an important grab in the back 50 to settle the side down late in the match.

#22 Josh Treacy

The bottom-age key forward showed some good signs from limited opportunities taking a strong one-on-one mark against Tye Hourigan in the third term only to hit the post from the set shot. He converted later in the quarter courtesy of a long-range bomb from 50m and put his side back up by a point nearing the final break. His body work against more experienced defenders was really strong and he almost handed a teammate a goal with a handball in the square after good bodywork but the teammate fumbled and the Power defenders cleared it.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Played a typical small forward’s role, always looking dangerous at ground level and taking his opportunities when presented. He showed quick hands at ground level and pounced on a couple of goals in the game, including a loose ball in the second quarter when he dribbled one home close to goal. He converted his second major in the last term, pouncing on a loose ball after Thomson Dow’s set shot fell short and stayed in, with Ginnivan snapping around his body.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles was one of Bendigo’s best in the win, having a number of crucial rebounds and being a rock in defence when Gippsland was furiously attacking. He continually looked to run and carry down the ground, using the ball well and making good decisions by hand or foot. Not a huge accumulator of the ball, Rowles is noticeable with his ball use because he does not waste a lot of touches and has a high impact per possession.

#51 Seamus Mitchell

The bottom-age talent showed some nice traits inside 50 with smarts and speed providing a good combination and a danger at ground level. He kicked a goal from a down-field free kick in the first term, and then showed off his great burst speed in the final term to create separation going forward and boot a goal on the run with a low kicking action to put the Pioneers 12 points up. He had a chance in the third term for another major but the set shot from 35m out in the pocket held up in the breeze and went to the left.

Gippsland:

#1 Ryan Angwin

The bottom-ager played a really solid game through the midfield roaming up the wings and using neat skills to dispose of the ball. A lightly-framed player, he took a good intercept mark at half-back in the first term, played on to give it to Sam Berry and then received it back on the wing with hard running. Angwin showed classy around the stoppages and did not panic with ball-in-hand.

#4 Sam Flanders

Did not have his best game, but stood up through the middle patches to have some important touches in close. His first quarter saw opponents working him over and causing a reaction which resulted in a couple of free kicks leading to goals – one pushing over an opponent at a stoppage and one down-field – before coming out in the second term to deliver a major of his own early. He showed great courage flying for an intercept mark, not taking it but copping contact. His hands in close were elite and picked the right exit to dispose of the ball cleanly, and showed great bodywork in the third term to bump an opponent off the ball and give it to Josh Smith to kick forward.

#6 Riley Baldi

Best on ground and was the difference between the teams, continuing his good form this season. He converted a couple of goals and was a four quarter performer which was difficult in the conditions. He had the first clearance of the game, and had the ball on a string early, marking from a lead and converted a set shot from 35m out. He kicked his second from 40m out in the second term, also applying good defensive pressure, winning a free kick in the middle for restricting Thomson Dow from finding a way out of the stoppage. He handed a goal off to Fraser Phillips in the third term after poor checking from Pioneers defenders with the natural left footer converting the goal with an easy snap. Baldi had a chance to make it three goals, but his flying shot on goal just bounced the wrong side of the post for one behind.

#7 Sam Berry

The bottom-age midfielder provided a number of highlights in the game, able to gain separation from his opponents in midfield and hit targets forward of centre. He created a goal for Riley Baldi kicking well inside 50, and then showed off his lovely left foot again, playing on to hit-up another target later in the game inside 50. He ran hard throughout and took a courageous mark back with the flight early in the third term.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided some important run and carry for Gippsland throughout the match, and tried to break the lines by running down the middle. He took the game on in the second term with a number of bounces, avoiding opposition players along the way. With time and space Connolly’s disposal was very good, but he did get rushed on a few occasions. He worked hard throughout the game on his way to a really solid contribution.

#17 Charlie Comben

Provided a fierce attack on the ball and whilst the conditions did not suit the taller marking players, still crashed packs and provided the target inside 50. He took a towering mark in the goalsquare in the second term back with the flight and his set shot on an angle went straight through. Unfortunately he missed a couple of chances later in the game, not able to connect cleanly with a dribble attempt in the third term, rolling through for a behind, and then having a mongrel set shot attempt which also went through for a behind. Contributed well throughout with his body work and presence at congested areas.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Started slowly but worked into the game to end up with two goals from five scoring shots as well as finding plenty of the footy roaming up the ground and providing an option. He assisted Ryan Sparkes in getting a goal in the second term with a nice kick inside 50, and managed to snap his first goal thanks to loose checking from the Pioneers defenders later in the third term, receiving the quick handball from Riley Baldi near the boundary and snapping on his left. He kicked his second after the final siren, chewing up the remaining time on the clock to give the Power the win by 10 poitns. He could have finished with a big bag had he converted a few more of his chances, but got amongst it and always looked busy.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

Played through the middle and had a four quarter performance with his ability to create plays up the ground and do the tough work in the middle as well as get free to keep the ball moving in transition. He placed a kick inside 50 to Charlie Sprague early in the game and the created his own chance shortly after, with the ball touched by an opposition before he could mark it, but he showed clean hands to recover, turn around and snap around his body for a goal. His highlight passage of play was a run down the middle of the ground in the third term to set up a goal.

#12 Noah Gribble

Showed composure at both ends, winning the ball in defence then going forward and had a shot on goal late in the first quarter from a stoppage but put it to the left. A second shot shortly after from a set shot also drifted to the left, but did his best work in close. He had clean and quick hands in close, and won his fair share of the football, covering the ground well and providing an option in defence including marking from a kickout.

#15 Tanner Bruhn

Returning from a long-term injury, Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half, booting a couple of goals and could have had another one early in the game with the set shot that swung to the right from 35 metres out. He snapped a goal off a step in the last minute of the opening term, then kicked an unbelievable goal in the third term, taking a step of two and snapping under pressure from 40m out to put it straight through the middle. He had nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.

#32 Noah Gadsby

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and kept presenting along the wing. Gadsby was able to complement the rest of the midfield and had his fair share of the ball at the same time, pushing up and trying to create some run in wet conditions.

#37 Oliver Henry

After spending time in defence in recent weeks, the medium-sized utility was back inside 50 and showed off his talent when it comes to providing a target leading out. He had great hands overhead to continually remained involved in the contest, presenting at marking opportunities. He took an intercept mark early in the match but rushed his kick and it was smothered. Henry lead long up the wing to win a number of touches up the ground, but also crashed a pack in the second term and gave it off quickly to keep it moving. He did err late in the quarter opting for a quick snap rather than giving the hands off to Charlie Sprague who was free nearby. He converted a set shot after being held midway through the third term and did have the two from the game, also setting up Sprague for his fourth after wrestling the ball from two opponents and giving it over to his teammate.

#40 Jesse Clark

Just a rock in defence and had a really influential first term, before not having a great deal of work to do after that. He still remained steadfast across the remaining three quarters, but kept the Falcons moving by taking a number of intercept marks in the back 50, then clearing the danger and getting it to a teammate by switching or hitting up a short target on the wing. Lead the team well and will hope to continue the form next week against a talented Sandringham Dragons’ forward line.

#46 Henry Walsh

Performed well in the ruck against a more mobile ruck in Bigoa Nyoun, but positioned himself impressively at stoppages. Can leap high and took a strong mark in the second term before kicking long down the line. He hit the scoreboard after receiving a free kick and a 50m penalty, lining up from straight in front early in the third term and putting it through the middle. Laid a couple of good tackles defensively to work hard that way as well.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Played a bit of everywhere in the match and could not fault his effort. The potential top five pick was winning touches around the ground early starting on a wing before playing exclusively forward in the second term. He lead out of attack and presented on a number of opportunities but was well worn by opposition defenders. He moved back into defence in the third term to try and stem the flow of goals, creating run and carry off half-back but was caught once and dispossessed. He still remained a calm and composed leader, never giving in despite the mounting opposition scoreline and was able to hit-up a target on the wing with a lovely kick out of defence having to negotiate three opposition players and remaining calm to think his way through the situation.

#11 Ned Cahill

Not his biggest game playing through the midfield, but still had a number of nice moments. He showed off his agility early with Cahill turning on a dime after winning the ball at half-back and sidestepping a couple of opponents to kick long down the wing. He was able to win an important clearance midway through the second term, and used the ball well under pressure to hook a kick and hit-up Bigoa Nyuon inside 50 in the opening quarter.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The athletic ruck showed good positioning in the marking contest and gave Jack Toner an opportunity for a goal in the first quarter but he missed the set shot, but created another opportunity not long after with the smarts to intercept a pass in attacking 50, and start a chain of handballs leading to a Jordan Andrews snap goal. Nyuon also took a strong grab later in the game in defence helping out.

#47 Will Bravo

The bottom-age prospect had some nice plays, showing his quick sidestep to evade a couple of players and snap around his body to Hayden Young’s advantage early in the game. He kicked a vital goal from a set shot midway through the second term, and had a chance for another goal but his quick snap was marked by opposition defenders just out from goal.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Had a quieter first three quarters, though did take a terrific contested mark at half-back and received a 50m penalty for an opponent infringing the mark. Once the fourth term rolled around, Williams lit it up, booting three consecutive goals, albeit at a stage when the game seemed done and dusted, though his set shot routine was consistent. He booted all three to cut the deficit from 50 to 32 points in the space of 15 minutes and show what he is capable of in a quarter of football.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony did not have the biggest game on the stats sheet, but most of his touches were in the forward half with attempts on goal. Unfortunately the wet weather wrecked havoc for his goalkicking as the talented mid/forward booted three behinds, two of which came from flying shots on goal in the first and third terms, and a third miss from a set shot. Continued to present inside 50 and was really good defensively, locking the ball up in terrible conditions and keeping the ball in the Rebels’ forward half.

#6 Jack Tillig

Had the ball on a string early in the game running off half-back and through the middle, winning an impressive one-on-one against the much taller Will Christie, and remained busy when linking up in transition. Later in the game Tillig drifted back to take a strong intercept mark in the defensive 50 hole. An impressive game from the bottom-ager.

#7 Mitch Martin

Played nearly exclusively forward and managed to capitalise with three majors in a day that was difficult to kick them with the wet ball. He started with a behind from a tight angle in the opening term, and a second snap shortly after went out of bounds. He kicked with first goal late in the second term with time ticking down, and almost had a second when he got taken high close to the boundary 35m out on a set shot but it fell just short in the square. He was the beneficiary of a free kick 30m out straight in front for the density ruling late in the quarter as the siren sounded to kick his second. Late in the final term he kicked his third from a great snap and then shortly after fended off an opponent and kept the ball moving with quick hands to Jack Tillig. Finished the game with three goals from six shots so could have had a massive day in the wet.

#13 Jay Rantall

Had a really quiet first term notching up just one touch and had six by half-time before getting into his usual groove and just outrunning everyone. He had a couple of nice clearances and won a free kick early in the fourth term, delivered to a teammate then ran hard to receive a handball from the receiver of his kick and go forward. Finished with a solid 20-odd touches to restore the status quo, but his defensive work was what stood out with numerous tackles time and time again and leading the way in that department with his attitude and attack on the ball and ball carrier.

#43 Charlie Molan

The Vic Country Under 16s representative stepped up from his debut last week to have a real impact in the conditions. He played along a wing and also went in and won his own ball to be one of the more prominent four quarter performers for the winners. He pushed hard and kept it moving in transition and got back in defence to help out and clear the danger.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Did not have as many touches as some others, but the Under 16s midfielder was noticeable every time he went near it. Apart from the colourful boots, Hobbs showed clean hands in the wet and continually picked the right option when handballing to a teammate on the outside to set up scoring opportunities. Took a good intercept mark at half-forward early, and then read the ruck stoppage perfectly in the second term to win the ball on the outside and bend it around his body for a goal midway through the second term. He had another flying shot at goal in the third term but it went out on the full, then set up Matty Lloyd with a lovely lace-out pass inside 50. Had a quieter second half but remained involved with moments like that.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Did not have a huge game but kick-started the Rebels with the opening goal of the game with a strong one-on-one mark deep in attack off the first clearance and inside 50. Rentsch converted the set shot to ensure he got on the goalkickers list and while he did not add to the total, still provided a target inside 50. He showed clean hands in the forward 50 and intercepted a ball in that first term and delivered to Mitch Martin deep in the pocket.

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Spent most of his time in the forward half to show off the running defender’s versatility. He had a quiet first term with just the two touches and having to push up the ground, but soon showed his composure and leadership in the wet. He stood up and got his hands away in a tackle early, then intercepted a Matty Lloyd rebound with a good mark at half-forward before moving to the goalsquare where he rotated with Jimmy Boyer between there and the midfield. Ash almost kicked a goal from 60m with the wind carrying it past the pack of players in that second term, but the ball bounced through for a behind. He also had a great kick under pressure to hit-up a target at half-forward, always vocal and leading his side throughout the four quarters.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Enjoyed the conditions and was one of Murray’s best again in the middle, shovelling the ball out and getting his hands dirty – both figuratively and literally. He read the ruck taps well and kicked inside 50 and keep the pressure on teh opposition defenders and tried to run and carry as best he could on the slippery ground surface. He won a free kick 40m out for a tackle on an opposition player forcing him to throw it out, but Chalcraft’s set shot was touched on the line and went into the post. He put in one of his better four quarter performances to have another 20-plus disposals, working hard across the ground and taking a mark from a kickout in defence such was his ground coverage.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Set the tone defensively with a magnificent front-on tackle on Toby Mahony to bring him to ground early in the game and rotated between midfield and forward. He got involved more as the game went on and was able to pump the ball inside 50 a few times, but his defensive work was the highlight, laying tackle after tackle which was crucial in Murray staying in the contest. He kicked a late consolation goal on the run thanks to his hard running with less than five minutes to go in the game.

#25 Liam Fiore

Had a really big first term driving the ball out of the back 50 and still did some nice things after that. He takes the game on and is willing to risk it by running down the middle and breaking the lines. He used the ball well and always looked for switching play to find the open player on the outside. Played deeper in defence as the game went on but did well one-on-one.

#26 Sam Durham

Found the ball in all thirds of the ground, firing out handballs from in close, sliding in for a great mark at half-back and pumping a long kick inside 50 as part of a big first term. He continued to win the ball and get it moving forward in transition by picking up touches on the wing or at stoppages and getting it to the danger zone inside forward 50. Durham also provided some good defensive pressure with a number of tackles.

#31 Josh Rachele

The Under 16s forward was not to be outdone by his Vic Country teammates on the Rebels’ side, pushing up the ground to win the ball when required, and being an option inside 50 at times as well. He played to the conditions, often bombing it long to try and gain distance, showing off a quick release by hand in the fourth term to give a running teammate a shot on goal.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

The bottom-age forward showed a number of impressive traits playing exclusively inside 50, having Murray’s first set shot from 50m out on a slight angle but it just fell short and was rushed through. It happened again late in the game with the ball punched through for a rushed behind up the other end, while his goal came from general play in the second term, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping around his body to put Murray in front. He tried to be too inventive at one stage, kicking the ball off the ground but it went out on the full. Got talent to work with, it will just be a case of building on the consistency and lowering the eyes at times.

NAB League Boys Round 17 wash-up: Chargers snatch finals spot in thriller

THE NAB League Boys regular season came to a close on the weekend with a pair of triple-headers, finalising the all-important automatic finals qualifiers and Wildcard Round fixtures. There were plenty of standouts across the six games despite indifferent conditions, with the Oakleigh-Sandringham game living up to the pre-game hype.

WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.9 | 4.12 (36)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:
Western – A. Manton 3, A. Clarke
Northern – J. D’Intinosante 4, N. Cox 2, J. Watson, J. Lucente, S. House, J. Boyd

BEST:
Western – L. Rocci, J. Honey, D. Bolkas, C. Raak, L. Failli, J. Kellett
Northern – J. Watson, R. Sturgess, N. Cox, J. Boyd, A. Carafa, J. D’Intinosante

By: Michael Alvaro

A sense of redemption was achieved by the Northern Knights on Saturday as they got one back over the Western Jets with a 32-point win at Avalon Airport Oval. The win sees the Knights jump their opponents into sixth place on the back of superior percentage, making it that little bit sweeter on top of redeeming a Round 1 loss to the Jets. After a relatively steady opening term where Western arguably had the better of general play, Northern sprung to life with an explosive six-goal to nil second quarter to set up the win. The Knights’ dare and transition from a high-possession defensive game helped them dominate the scoreboard during middle-period of the game, rapidly building the game-defining margin. Josh D’Intinosante played a big part in that, snaring three goals in quick succession at the start of the term to break the game open. Two late goals as the heat simmered proved consolations for the Jets, who have now lost their last three games. Strong stay-at-home forward Archi Manton had all of Western’s goals for over three quarters and was the sole threat inside 50, finishing with 3.2 from seven disposals and five marks. Josh Honey (18 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s) was also terrific for the Jets with his burst from congestion, with the likes of Darcy Cassar (22 disposals, four marks) and Lucas Rocci (20 disposals, five rebounds) also standing up. But it was Northern bottom-ager Josh Watson who was best afield in a breakout game, collecting 21 disposals, four marks and booting a lovely goal. Adam Carafa led the disposal count with 23 and a lot of work in-close, while Ryan Sturgess (21 disposals, 13 marks) was terrific in the air at both ends and D’Intinosante finished with 4.2 from 13 disposals and six marks. The result now sees Northern host Bendigo in Wildcard Round, while Western will face the Knights’ 2018 Wildcard nemesis, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) next week.

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

GOALS:
Calder – J. Sutton 3, M. Fletcher 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, J. O”Sullivan, H. Jones
Eastern – B. Hickleton 2, L. Stapleton 2, J. Rossiter, C. Downie, L. Gawel, R. Smith, J. Jaworski, M. Zalac

BEST:
Calder – D. Mott, S. Ramsay, J. Sutton, G. Thomas, J. Cardillo, M. Fletcher
Eastern – L. Stapleton, J. Ross, Z. Pretty, M. Mellis, R. Smith, M. Zalac

By: Michael Alvaro

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.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.6 (84)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 | 14.7 (91)

GOALS:
Sandringham – F. Maginness 3, A. Perkins 3, K. Yorke 2, A. Hanrahan 2, N. Burke, M. Bergman, C. Dean
Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan 4, N. Anderson 3, C. Sharman 2, F. Elliot, C. Stone, R. McInnes, F. Macrae, N. Stathopoulos

BEST:
Sandringham – C. Watts, F. Maginness, J. Bell, N. Burke, K. Yorke, J. Voss
Oakleigh – M. Rowell, N. Anderson, R. Valentine, J. Ugle-Hagan, J. Lucas, V. Zagari

By: Michael Alvaro

Pure star power dragged the Oakleigh Chargers over the line and into third place with an incredible seven-point come-from-behind win over Sandringham Dragons in the thick of what was a finals-like atmosphere. After the Dragons looked to have sealed the game with three goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter, a Noah Anderson-inspired Oakleigh hit back in style with four majors in the following five minutes, and ended with the last six of the game altogether to snatch victory. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout the game and looked like getting on top on numerous occasions, but Oakleigh’s final thrust came at the ideal time as they charged home to claim the remarkable win. Anderson’s game-winning 24 disposals and three goals were arguably matched for importance by the efforts of Matt Rowell (34 disposals, seven tackles) – who hardly put a foot wrong – and skipper Trent Bianco (28 disposals). The high-marking forward duo of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Cooper Sharman also shone, combining for six goals and a couple of highlight reel moments. For the Dragons, Finn Maginness did his level best to drag his side over the line with 17 disposals and three goals, with Darcy Chirgwin (30 disposals, seven tackles) doing the tough stuff through midfield and Angus Hanrahan influential on the outside (23 disposals, two goals). Bottom-ager Archie Perkins was another to impress with his three goals from 11 disposals, while Corey Watts put in a mammoth effort in defence with 12 disposals, six marks and seven rebound 50s. With an absolute raft of combine invitees and representative players taking the field, it was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent memory and truly lived up to the pre-game hype as a number of top-end stars stood up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 9.9 (63)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 5.4 | 6.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:
Bendigo – R. Wilson 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Mitchell 2, J. Treacy, N. Walsh, T. Dow
Gippsland – M. McGarrity 2, F. Phillips 2, R. Baldi 2, C. Comben, S. Flanders, T. Hourigan, R. Sparkes

BEST:
Bendigo – R. Wilson, B. Rowles, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Ginnivan, B. Worme
Gippsland – R. Baldi, T. Hourigan, F. Phillips, R. Sparkes, L. Connolly, R. Angwin

By: Peter Williams

In a day of upsets, Bendigo Pioneers almost set the tone with an impressive performance against top two side, Gippsland Power. The Pioneers regained a number of players back to the line-up, including Thomson Dow who returned from school football, but were missing the injured Brodie Kemp. Despite Caleb Serong being the only key omission from the premiership contending Power, the Pioneers jumped them in the first quarter to boot three goals to one, two of which came from free kicks and another from a turnover as the home side looked to be disciplined on the day. With Bendigo booting the first goal of the second term, it looked like the Pioneers might start to run away with it, before Gippsland piled on five of the next seven over the two quarters to keep within a point at both breaks. The last quarter was topsy turvy with lead changes galore, and it took until Fraser Phillips‘ goal after the siren to relieve the nerves of the Power supporters. Riley Baldi was the clear standout performer from the Power, booting two goals and could have had a third to go with his 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and seven tackles, while Tye Hourigan was good in defence before kicking what almost looked like the winning goal late, in attack. He had 20 disposals, 11 marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal on the day. Leo Connolly (22 disposals, seven marks) and Phillips (2.3 from 19 disposals and four marks) also showed signs. For the Pioneers, Dow showed his class in patches with 24 disposals, six marks and a goal, while Ben Worme (21 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and four rebounds), Riley Ironside (26 disposals, six marks, five rebounds and three tackles) and Riley Wilson (21 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and two goals) were the Pioneers’ best.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.5 | 8.7 | 14.8 | 15.9 (99)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.3 | 3.9 | 5.12 | 9.14 (68)

GOALS:
Geelong – C. Sprague 6, O. Henry 2, T. Bruhn 2, C. Lazzaro, K. Skene, C. Karpala, H. Walsh, S. Fonseca-Hateley
Dandenong – L. Williams 3, J. Toner, N. Heath, J. Andrews, W. Howe, W. Lewis, W. Bravo

BEST:
Geelong – C. Sprague, T. Bruhn, H. Walsh, C. Lazzaro, J. Dahlhaus, K. Rayner
Dandenong – W. Bravo, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, L. Scott, J. Toner, B. Kuipers

By: Peter Williams

In what was clearly Geelong’s best performance of the season, the 2019 wooden spooners showed they might just have life in their season yet with a strong 31-point win over Dandenong Stingrays. While the Falcons have to contend with the star-studded Sandringham Dragons this weekend, they played a commanding three quarters against the Stingrays before Dandenong booted four of the five last goals to cut the deficit back to a reasonable margin. The Falcons had some troubles with accuracy early, while the Stingrays found the same issues in the second term, booting 1.6 to the Falcons’ 5.2 to ultimately be the difference with Geelong heading into the main break 28 points in front. They did not stop there however, as the Falcons added another six goals to the Stingrays’ two, effectively ending the contest at a game-high 50 points. Lachlan Williams had a last quarter to remember with three consecutive goals – not that it did enough to turn the momentum – while Charlie Sprague said enough was enough booting his sixth goal of the game late to ensure the Falcons had a major in the final term. To the final break, Sprague had booted the same amount of goals as the Stingrays side, eventually finishing with a clear best-on performance of 16 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and 6.1 for the day. Jesse Clark was a rock in defence with 23 disposals, six marks, nine rebounds and three tackles, while bottom agers Noah Gribble (19 disposals, four marks three inside 50s and three behinds) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and a goal) were also impressive. Assisting Sprague in attack was Oliver Henry with two goals from 12 touches and always presenting, while bottom-ager Tanner Bruhn showed no signs that he was coming off a long-term injury, booting two majors and could have had a third, with 16 disposals, two marks, four tackles and six inside 50s. For Dandenong, William Lewis had 24 disposals, two marks, four tackles, nine inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the best across four quarters, while Luca Goonan had a superb first half to finish with 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles and three inside 50s. Jack Toner (20 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Hayden Young (17 disposals, three marks three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles) tried hard, while Cody Weightman had his moments, finishing with 16 disposals and three behinds.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 8.11 (59)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 5.14 (44)

GOALS:
GWV – M. Martin 3, M. Lloyd, J. Rentsch, F. Marris, R. Polkinghorne, B. Hobbs
Murray – J. Boyer, T. Panuccio, D. Bedendo, B. Kelly, W. Chandler

BEST:
GWV – C. Molan, M. Martin, C. Craig-Peters, J. Rantall, F. Marris, P. Glanford
Murray – N. Irvine, S. Durham, L. Fiore, J. Chalcraft, C. McLeod, B. Kelly

By: Peter Williams

Given the pouring rain had set in midway through the last game, by the time the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers took the field, the ground could have doubled up for the swimming pool next to Queen Elizabeth Oval. The game itself was not one either side will be reaching for the highlight tapes too quickly, as the conditions made it a genuine slog and difficult for sides to firstly mark the ball inside 50, and secondly hit the scoreboard. Players were slipping and sliding in the mud, with one Rebels play indicative of the weather, going for a run through the middle but as he went to kick slipped in the mud and slid a metre of two along the ground. When it was all said and done however, it was the Rebels who managed to kick away in the second half, booting five consecutive goals to blow the margin out to 29 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, before a couple of late majors to the Bushrangers cut the final deficit to just 15. With 13.25 between the sides, it could have been a lot worse, but at least the sun decided to show up in the last 10 minutes of the match, instead blinding the players who were already soaked thanks to Mother Nature. Cooper Craig-Peters had a game-high 24 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebounds and eight tackles to relish in the conditions for the Rebels, while Jack Tillig finished with 20 disposals, six marks, four tackles and six rebounds. A frequent sufferer of leather poisoning, Jay Rantall had just one touch in the first term and six by the main break, but produced a big second half to end with 20 disposals and a massive 18 tackles in the win. Mitch Martin impressed up forward with three goals from 17 disposals and four marks, as well as a couple of other opportunities, while 16-year-olds Charlie Molan (17 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Ben Hobbs (12 disposals, nine tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) stood tall, as did bottom-ager Nick Stevens (17 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and four tackles). For the Bushrangers, Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals), Cam Wild (21) and Dylan Clarke (20) unsurprisingly loved the wet weather, going in hard and winning the ball in close, while Lachlan Ash overcame a similarly slow start to Rantall with just two disposals in the first term to finish the game with 19 playing in all areas of the ground. Josh Rachele presented well up forward with 19 disposals and four inside 50s, while bottom-age forward Dominic Bedendo had 13 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caught the Eye – U17 Futures

WITH the NAB League sides enjoying a development weekend, we cast out eyes over the Under 17 Futures double-header at Ikon Park on Sunday to see who would catch them – this week selecting three players from each side. For full scouting notes on each player highlighted and more, click here.

Vic Country vs. NSW/ACT

Sam Berry (Vic Country)
Gippsland Power | Midfielder
12/02/2002 | 180cm | 82kg

Stats: 23 disposals, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 6 clearances, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “His clearance work was great but it was also his skill with ball in hand that stood out, and despite looking like the type to just win the hard ball and bomb it, he actually took the time to hit his targets on both feet.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Arguably the best Country player on the day, Berry is well and truly a proven ball winner having continued from the form he showed in the NAB League. Is tenacious at the coalface, but has a good burst and should assume the number one midfield role for Gippsland next year.

Zavier Maher (Vic Country)
Murray Bushrangers | Midfielder
5/05/2002 | 183cm | 82kg

Stats: 20 disposals, 7 marks, 6 tackles, 5 clearances, 7 inside 50s

Our scouts said: “Maher covered plenty of ground and played a good mix to win his own ball but also work hard to get around the ground on the outside” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Complimented Berry beautifully in midfield as another with good size. Is another who looks likely to take over the leading midfield mantle at his NAB League club next year and will do well to transfer the numbers he had in this game to that competition.

Deakyn Smith (Vic Country)
Dandenong Stingrays | Small Forward
22/08/2002 | 179cm | 65kg

Stats: 14 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Smith got better and better as the game went on and his combination of speed and aerial ability made him a difficult matchup.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Is such a slippery customer and much of the NSW/ACT side had no answer for his tricks in the forward half. Has played in different roles for Dandenong, but was dangerous inside 50 here and works hard to find space up the field.

Braeden Campbell (NSW/ACT)
Swans Academy | Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 178cm | 71kg

Stats: 18 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles, 5 clearances, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Another of the diminutive Swans Academy fleet, Campbell has a great mix of inside and outside skills.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Is right behind Errol Gulden in terms of leading the NSW/ACT prospects pack and can play a variety of positions. Already gained U18 representative experience in the Allies squad this year and his added midfield time in this game bodes well for a transition from his usual half-forward role.

Errol Gulden (NSW/ACT)
Swans Academy | Wing
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Stats: 19 disposals, 5 marks, 4 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Gulden continually used his innate ability to find space of the outside to send the Rams forward, getting on the move and piercing some classy passes along the line.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Is just so classy by foot and there is hardly a player better to watch at this level that Gulden on the run forward. He looks primed for another big year after impressing for the Allies and Swans Academy in 2019, and should catch the eye with his ability to make low-percentage passes work.

Pierce Roseby (NSW/ACT)
Swans Academy | Inside Midfielder
4/01/2002 | 179cm | 72kg

Stats: 17 disposals, 7 tackles, 7 clearances, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “It was another workmanlike shift from the small midfielder, who proved ferocious around the ball going both ways.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Roseby might be sub-180cm, but is one of the more tenacious players around the ball and just does all of the tough stuff. Is one of many Swans Academy prospects who looked right at home in Rams colours, and will be an interesting one for Sydney to keep an eye on given their ageing midfield.

Vic Metro vs. Queensland

Connor Downie (Vic Metro)
Eastern Ranges | Wing/Midfielder
31/05/2002 | 183cm | 81kg

Stats: 20 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “The Ranges’ gun swapped time between the wing and midfield, having an impact going forward with raking left boot and clunking a strong mark on forward wing under heat.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Was the only player afield to have some U18 championships experience under his belt, which speaks to his quality. Downie has proven his ability to damage teams on the outside with his run and penetrating kick, but his size makes him an interesting midfield proposition. Does a bit of everything and should have no trouble finding the ball.

Finlay Macrae (Vic Metro)
Oakleigh Chargers | Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 183cm | 73kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 6 marks, 5 clearances, eight inside 50s, one goal

Our scouts said: “Best afield for mine… Macrae built into the game nicely, starting with some clean and effective accumulative touches before really having an impact in the second half.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Macrae’s pedigree is obvious to all, accumulating possessions at will through midfield with clean hands and touch of class. Did not always damage with ball in hand but has the ability to turn it on, doing so in the final term with a raft of score involvements. Made the U18 Metro squad this year and is a lock get on the park next year.

Reef McInnes (Vic Metro)
Oakleigh Chargers | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 83kg

Stats: 24 disposals, 9 tackles, 6 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “His clean hands, strength in the contest, and tackling made him the dominant inside midfielder, but his spread and props in traffic bode well for a well-balanced game.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Collingwood has found another gem in its NGA ranks, with McInness a fantastic inside midfield prospect. He started the game better than anyone and just finds the ball, working hard to do so around the ground. Has already made an impact with Oakleigh too, and is a great size.

Blake Coleman (Queensland)
Lions Academy | Forward
6/08/2002 | 180cm | 75kg

Stats: 13 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Coleman was one of Queensland’s most dangerous players up forward with his skill and composure a real standout in the wet conditions.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Coleman just does not miss in front of goal, only needing a few chances to have an impact on the game. His class is obvious, constantly finding space in the right areas around the forward 50 and finishing well. Can now work on consistency and having more of the ball.

Saxon Crozier (Queensland)
Lions Academy | Balanced Midfielder
14/11/2002 | 189cm | 75kg

Stats: 17 disposals, 5 tackles, 3 clearances, 6 inside 50s

Our scouts said: “Crozier was often classy with ball in hand, making good decisions and moving well in traffic and he really stood out with his kicking inside 50.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Is constantly one of the more influential players between the arcs, but is developing a greater inside game and does not mind getting stuck in despite his best traits suiting the outside. Crozier is a good forward mover and can rack up the numbers at his best.

Max Pescud (Queensland)
SUNS Academy | Wing/Forward
13/04/2002 | 183cm | 60kg

Stats: 16 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Pescud despite his light frame had a real impact on the game kicking two goals and showing his class and composure up the field as well.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: There’s just something to like about the lightly-built Pescud, who worked hard on the outside all day. Has the ability to win a good amount of ball there, but also makes the most of his chances when slipping forward and contributes across the board.

Scouting notes: U17 Futures

BOTH Victorian teams toppled Queensland and NSW/ACT respectively by over four goals at Ikon Park on Sunday, with a range of conditions testing the talent on show. Our writers cast an eye over each fixture, taking opinion-based notes on the outstanding players from either side.

Vic Country vs. NSW/ACT

Vic Country:
By: Ed Pascoe

#2 Deakyn Smith

Smith was an absolute handful up forward with his speed and overhead marking far too good to stop. Smith got better and better as the game went on and his combination of speed and aerial ability made him a difficult matchup. He kicked two goals with his first coming after a very strong mark and his second spinning and showing his class to kick a nice goal. His marking and ball use were a real highlight and he finished the game with 14 disposals, eight marks and two goals to be his side’s most dangerous player forward of centre.

#6 Seamus Mitchell

Mitchell was a very crafty and nimble small forward showing great speed, skill and agility with ball in hand and he certainly had some eye catching movements. Mitchell showed plenty of run and he had one nice bit of play where he followed up his good run with a nice kick inside 50 and his setups for his teammates made him one of his team’s better creative players going to goal. His only goal came from a mark and set shot and he only gathered the 11 disposals but his impact was more than what the stats show.

#7 Sam Berry

Berry was his team’s standout player wit his grunt work in the middle setting the tone for the day. His work rate with and without the ball was impressive and that carried on for the four quarters. He would also hit the scoreboard with his goal coming from reading the play to mark 40 metres out to slot the nice goal. His clearance work was great but it was also his skill with ball in hand that stood out, and despite looking like the type to just win the hard ball and bomb it, he actually took the time to hit his targets on both feet. His only real blemish was an ambitious kick in the corridor on his opposite foot. Berry finished the game with 23 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and a goal in a complete performance through the midfield.

#8 Zavier Maher

Maher combined well with fellow midfielder Sam Berry to not only win plenty of the ball but also offer something a little different with his ability to get forward and take the game on. Maher covered plenty of ground and played a good mix to win his own ball but also work hard to get around the ground on the outside which showed with his seven marks, three rebound 50s and seven inside 50s. The inside 50s in particular especially late in the game stood out where he often hit his targets and lowered the eyes. Maher had 20 disposals, six tackles and five inside 50s in a well-rounded game through the midfield.

#13 Dominic Bedendo

Bedendo was one of Country’s most dangerous forwards with his ability to get into good spots inside 50 and get himself into scoring situations while also setting up others with good vision. His first and only goal came in the first quarter with a set shot from 50 metres, he showed great movement and marking ability and would take another two marks inside 50 but missed both set shots. Bedendo had a chance early to pass to a teammate but missed a shot, but he would later show better teamwork with an unselfish kick to the hotspot when caught on the boundary. Bedendo has a light frame but is a nice height at 185cm and looks a prospect in the forward half as he finished the game with nine disposals, six marks and kicking 1.3 so he could have been more damaging.

NSW/ACT:
By: Michael Alvaro

#3 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Maroubra)

Came back into the side after missing the annual clash against Queensland on the Gold Coast, shaking off some early cobwebs to showcase his talent. Positioned on his customary wing, Gulden continually used his innate ability to find space of the outside to send the Rams forward, getting on the move and piercing some classy passes along the line. The leading Swans Academy prospect was usually composed with ball in hand, using his agility to prop into space and find a target as he lowered his eyes – a valuable point of difference to many U18 players. While he was almost found out with some kicks across attacking 50 and passes which proved a little too cute, Gulden’s skills were typically fantastic and he makes the play come alive.

#13 Pierce Roseby (Sydney Swans/Willoughby Mosman Swans)

It was another workmanlike shift from the small midfielder, who proved ferocious around the ball going both ways. Roseby was a constant through the Rams’ engine room, winning most of his 17 disposals himself and getting to the ball first to earn six free kicks with some brave contested work. That work culminated in seven clearances to go with seven tackles, showcasing Roseby’s work rate and tenacity at the stoppages. He did well to break forward and find the goals in the second term with a nicely finished snap, but missed a later opportunity on the back of a 50m penalty.

#15 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans/Westbrook)

Another of the diminutive Swans Academy fleet, Campbell has a great mix of inside and outside skills. His passing going forward was excellent, hitting targets on the move from midfield in each quarter with some good range. Campbell’s ability to weave or break away from congestion proved handy in a hard-fought midfield battle – especially at centre bounces – with his hard tackling (seven) another feature. The Westbrook product capped off an excellent game with two final quarter goals; the first coming after a clean pick up at pace and clinical finish, while the second was a more straightforward set shot conversion.

#26 Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans/East Sydney Bulldogs)

Playing mostly forward with some of NSW/ACT’s prime movers back in the side, Rossmann was a reliable target leading up to the arc. He only stands at 181cm, but was great in the air with his springy leap and strong hands overhead helping him to clunk five marks from 12 disposals. Much of Rossmann’s ability to find space up the ground came on the back of clever reading of the play, and he also popped up inside 50 for a couple of chances on goal. The first was a miss from the impossible angle in the second term, with a later set shot failing to find the target.

#39 Marc Sheather (Sydney Swans/Terrigal Avoca JAFL)

A versatile prospect, Sheather assumed his usual role down back to start and proved to be a calming influence. He constantly got in the road of Vic Country’s attacks, snapping the ball up in the air and off the deck while following up with some efficient rebound. He would go on to prove his work rate with some of his acts up the ground, continuing his runs up the field and laying a shrewd holding-the-ball tackle just outside of defensive 50. A move into the midfield proved slightly less fruitful, but Sheather’s solid frame makes him a dangerous figure in there.

Vic Metro vs. Queensland

Vic Metro:
By: Michael Alvaro

#1 Lucas Failli (Western Jets)

A typical small forward, Failli caused headaches inside 50 and created good opportunities for Metro. He started off with some work further afield, pumping a couple of penetrating kicks into the forward arc and finding a teammate with one of them, while going back for repeat efforts at ground level and converting a free kick opportunity in a busy first half. Failli continued to show good desperation at the fall of the ball, proving agile and clean once he had scooped it up and capping his day with a second goal over the back in the final term.

#6 Jackson Cardillo (Calder Cannons)

Having shown his aggression and ball winning ability on the inside in his NAB League outings, Cardillo spent most of his time on the wing in this game. His forward running proved effective, hitting up Reef McInnes inside 50 in the first term and moving up towards attacking 50 with intent. After lacking oomph on a snap attempt in the second term, Cardillo made amends with a nice set shot finish after the half time siren for his only goal of the game. He would go on to miss another chance on the run when he had a touch more time to find the intended target, and attended the centre bounces late on.

#9 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)

Best afield for mine, the brother of Bulldogs star Jack showed off his pedigree with a game-high 34 disposals – 10 more than anyone else – six marks, five clearances, eight inside 50s and a goal. Macrae built into the game nicely, starting with some clean and effective accumulative touches before really having an impact in the second half. He lifted again in the fourth term, hitting the scoreboard with a classy finish from 45m while also assisting goals to Ollie Lord and Jack Diedrich to cap off a fantastic display.

#10 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)

Skipper for the day, Downie was the only player afield to have also featured in the U18 carnival. The Ranges gun swapped time between the wing and midfield, having an impact going forward with raking left boot and clunking a strong mark on forward wing under heat. While he didn’t score from his own attempt on goal in the second term, Downie created two opportunities for others with beautiful delivery into forward 50 after moving into the midfield. Is already well built for midfield minutes but looks pretty comfortable on the outside.

#11 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)

Perkins was another to move through the midfield-forward rotation, catching the eye with some strong and agile bursts through traffic which he finished with smart kicks inside 50. The powerful Sandringham product went on to have an impact around the ball with more midfield time after the main break, slamming forward five clearances and standing up in tackles to dish the ball out from congestion. Sprayed a tough chance on goal on the move, with that area of his game one to work on as he gets in dangerous positions.

#17 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights)

The dynamic tall didn’t find a mountain of the ball but looked lively up forward early on. McMahon put through the first goal of the game with a textbook set shot after plucking the ball at its highest point on the lead. He would go on to add another major in similar fashion during the second term, with strong hands overhead and a lovely kicking action his clear strengths. McMahon was thrown back in the second half where he provided some nice rebound and made some attacking kick-ins work.

#21 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)

The Collingwood NGA prospect looks to be another great find for the Magpies, and he had some sort of start to the game. McInnes was strong from the get-go, winning the very first clearance and working hard to impact a number of contests around the ground – he was involved in just about everything. His clean hands, strength in the contest, and tackling made him the dominant inside midfielder, but his spread and props in traffic bode well for a well-balanced game. McInnes was a little quieter as the game wore on, but racked up 24 disposals, nine tackles, six clearances, and four inside 50s.

Queensland:
By: Ed Pascoe

#9 Blake Coleman

Coleman was one of Queensland’s most dangerous players up forward with his skill and composure a real standout in the wet conditions. Coleman although standing at 180cm played more of a half forward lead up role with his marking overhead a real feature with how clean it was, especially in the wet conditions later in the game. Coleman wad classy with ball in hand and rarely wasted a possession. His class around goal was also a feature kicking two goals with his best coming in the last quarter, going for a nice run before steadying himself to kick a classy goal. Coleman finished the game with 13 disposals, four marks, five tackles and two goals.

#12 Max Pescud

Pescud despite his light frame had a real impact on the game kicking two goals and showing his class and composure up the field as well. Pescud was the lightest player on the ground at 60kg and started the game playing more of an outside role using his speed and clean hands on the wings before going forward to kick his two goals and then go into the stoppages in the last quarter to show he could play a range of roles. Pescud finished the game with 16 disposals, six marks, five tackles and two goals to be one of his team’s best players both with and without the ball.

#22 Carter Michael

Michael wasn’t hard to pick out with his bright blonde hair but it was more so his ability to win the football that stood out, playing as a tall midfielder he showed a good mix of inside and outside game being a consistent player over four quarters. Michael would often use his long left foot to his advantage, hitting targets both long and short but it was his long kicks that did the most damage. Michael showed good skill by hand and foot and didn’t waste many possessions as he finished with 21 disposals, six tackles and four clearances.

#24 Saxon Crozier

Queensland had no shortage of tall midfielders and Crozier standing at 189cm showed plenty both inside and outside the contest but mostly did his damage on the outside with his reading of the play and ability to get forward of centre. Crozier was often classy with ball in hand making good decisions and moving well in traffic and he really stood out with his kicking inside 50 in the last quarter with a good run and long kick inside 50 and not long after would show his ability to hot short targets with a nice kick lowering the eyes. Crozier finished the game with 17 disposals, five tackles and six inside 50s.

#26 Alex Davies

The tallest of Queensland’s big midfielders standing at 190cm, he was a strong player around stoppages going in hard to win clearances but also working hard around the ground to be an option. Davies showed good attack on the ball but he also showed his ability to pressure and give multiple efforts through the midfield, and had a good bit of play in the first quarter with a great second effort smother. Davies finished the game with 15 disposals and was his team’s leading clearance player with five.

Vic Metro U17s outgun Queensland in the wet

VIC METRO U17s overcame some early woes in front of goal to topple Queensland 10.11 (71) to 6.7 (43) in trying second half conditions at Ikon Park on Sunday.

After a slow, stalemate opening term which saw goals go to Metro’s Liam McMahon and Queensland’s Blake Coleman, the Victorians began to look like breaking the game open. But the visitors were keen to make the trip a fruitful one, sticking with Metro and going goal for goal in a six-goal second term full of little momentum swings. While Queensland seemed to have few answers to Metro’s dominant midfield, they kept touch heading into the main break by making the most of their forward 50 entries and holding up down back at the fall of the ball.

That theme proved consistent through the third term, with the hosts breaking away ever so slightly on the back of two goals (Ollie Lord and Lochlan Jenkins) to one (Max Pescud), making the most of their sole extra scoring shot. Metro’s 11-point three quarter time lead looked a handy one with the rain bucketing down and fog descending on North Carlton, but it would shortly clear over the break to give the Maroons a fighting chance. That was quickly taken from them though, with the winners piling on four goals to Queensland’s one to cruise home 28 points to the good.

Collingwood NGA prospect Reef McInnes made a dominant start for Metro, finishing with 24 disposals and six clearances to be second only to Finlay Macrae – the brother of Bulldogs’ Jack – who had 34 disposals, five clearances, eight inside 50s and a goal to be best afield. Sandringham pair Darby Hipwell (22 disposals, three inside 50s) and Archie Perkins (21 disposals, five clearances, five inside 50s) provided good fold rotating through the midfield and forward line, while Jackson Cardillo (18 disposals, one goal) and Connor Downie (20 disposals, four inside 50s) were influential on the outside.

For the Maroons, Carter Michael led the ball-winners with 21 disposals to go with his four clearances and four inside 50s, with Saxon Crozier (17 disposals, six inside 50s) lifting after half time, while Gold Coast academy pair Ethan Hunt (17 disposals, four tackles) and Alex Davies (15 disposals, five clearances) dug in well. Up forward, Coleman finished his chances beautifully to boot two goals from 13 disposals, with Pescud (16 disposals, six marks, five tackles) another to provide some spark in the forward half.

The top-end talent from either side can now look forward to the possibility of featuring in the U17 Futures All Stars showcase match on Grand Final day.

VIC METRO 1.5 | 4.8 | 6.10 | 10.11 (71)
QUEENSLAND 1.2 | 4.3 | 5.5 | 6.7 (43)

GOALS
Vic Metro: L. McMahon 2, O. Lord 2, L. Failli 2, F. Macrae, J. Cardillo, L. Jenkins, J. Diedrich.
Queensland: B. Coleman 2, M. Pescud 2, C. Bulley 2.

ADC BEST
Vic Metro: F. Macrae, R. McInnes, C. Downie, A. Perkins, J. Cardillo, L. McMahon
Queensland: B. Coleman, M. Pescud, S. Crozier, C. Michael, E. Hunt, A. Davies

Bottom-age talent to hit Ikon Park

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

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

Vic Country:

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

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

NSW/ACT Rams:

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

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

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

VIC METRO:

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

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

QUEENSLAND:

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

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

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 14

WITH top-end talent and some of the best Under 16 performers trickling into the NAB League, there were plenty of standouts across Round 14’s action. We cast an eye on each game, highlighting the performances of representative squad members and some exciting under-agers. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a typical big impact around the ground, winning a number of quick handball in contested situations and using his power to burst away. He had a quick snap early in the game but it was marked on the line, but capitalised on a set shot late in the match from 20m out. He read the taps well from his rucks and had a great running shot – though offline but looked good technically bursting through a stoppage in the third term. He fended off an opponent on the wing at one stage and was too strong in the clinches.

#6 Riley Baldi

Winning a lot of the footy early, showing clean hands but rushed kicks at times. Still involved and was one of the muddiest players on the day with and finished the game with a great goal in the dying minutes from a tight angle. He had a flying shot on goal midway through the third term but missed, and his highlight earlier in the match was an intercept mark at half-forward.

#12 Brock Smith

Had a big game after a few errors with his disposal early but his defensive work was top notch. His intercept marking saved a number of goals throughout the match as he patrolled the half-back line. He then snuck forward twice in the final term to kick a couple of cheeky ones himself to ice the game for his side. Time and time again he would spoil or drop back into the hole and mark in defensive 50 and just settle down the team, overcoming some earlier mistakes with his disposal to be really clean in the second half, barely missing a target.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Had a massive first term picking up double-digit disposals being everywhere for the Power, zipping around the contest. Had a quieter game after that, but still had some nice moments. Won a 50m penalty at half-back and had a shot on goal from forward 50 but rushed it a bit as he did after winning a free at half-forward and kicking inside 50. Also offered himself as an option around the ground and was just solid.

#16 Josh Smith

A dominant big man up forward, booting three goals and should have had a couple more with two posters from gettable shots. He continued to lead out throughout the game, booting his first goal from a tight angle just inside 50, and then his second from 25m out after a downfield free in the second quarter. His third came on the edge of half-time to hand the Power a nine-point lead. His two shots that hit the post came in the second half with one running around from the boundary and another from a set shot straight in front. Presented well throughout and caused headaches for the opposition.

#17 Charlie Comben

Best on ground for mine for his work rate and ability to have an impact in the middle or up forward. He showed good hands under pressure, a terrific leap and able to finish off his work in front of goal. He finished with three majors, but like Smith could have had more, hitting the post from a gettable shot. His first goal was a tight angle set shot from the boundary, and then took a towering mark in the goal square over a smaller opponent in the third term and put it through after he had hit the post from the same angle but slightly further out just moments earlier. Less than 30 seconds into the final term, Comben booted the goal of the day from the boundary on the run and put in motion Gippsland’s big final quarter. His ruck work was first class, with the only concern in his game coming late when he hit his head hard and had to be helped off in a neck brace with just two minutes left on the clock.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Was okay without being outstanding, having a few nice plays around the ground. Often pushed up to the wing and won some touches up the ground, and used the ball well when having time and space. There were a couple of moments where he did a bit too much, getting caught after trying to shake off a tackler, but he stood up late in the game to kick the sealer and put his team 30 points up early in the fourth. He almost had a highlight reel moment running hard in the final term, getting caught and receiving it back but then rushing the shot on goal and hitting the behind post.

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked really hard in the first term winning a number of touches in close and getting it out to runners on the outside. He had a lovely kick under pressure on the wing to hit up a teammate close to the line. Had a quieter second half but was still present around the ground.

#4 Will Peppin

A touch of class in the forward half, winning a great hardball get under pressure in defensive 50 and getting it out to a teammate, then put his side back in front in the second term booting a running goal from 30m. Has good skills by hand or foot in wet conditions underfoot.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Absolutely unbelievable considering his stats sheet might not look as impressive as past weeks, but he was everywhere. His impact across the ground was influential, kicking a goal early in the game in the second term when they needed someone to stand up, and then had an impact in the middle. Stayed in defence in the second half, saved multiple goals from run-down tackles and then took a number of intercept marks – including a brave grab right in front of the leading Josh Smith. He continually ran back to help out his defence and then dropped into the hole, creating run and carry out of defence. He was best-on for Tasmania in my eyes, playing a crucial role on the day.

#8 Jake Steele

Similar to McGuinness, Steele was enormous in defence, not winning a heap of it, but doing the defensive things right. He marked or found the ball on the last line, lapping it up with clean hands and disposing of it well out of defence. He showed great defensive work to cleanly grab the ball first touch and get it away so a spill could not cause a goal to the opposition. The next moment he punched a ball across the line to save a shot on goal.

#13 Sam Collins

Showed some promising signs, booting Tasmania’s fifth goal midway through the second term after a 50m penalty to put them nine points up. He had a powerful clearance out of the middle not long after and provided a marking target around the ground for his side.

Eastern Ranges vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Peter Williams

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Was one of Eastern’s best throughout the day, particularly early on when the Ranges got going in the first term. Stapleton showed good evasion at half-back to evade a would-be tackler and keep the ball moving, running hard around the ground to win the footy. He had a terrific long left foot kick to the middle of the forward 50 and showed courage in the second term to fly back and have an impact on an aerial contest in defence and force a behind from a shot on goal. Continued to apply great defensive pressure as well as clean hands in close.

#20 Connor Downie

Does not need to win much of it to win an impact, but seemed to do some nice things in each quarter of the game. He had a clean pick-up early in the match to kick long inside 50 to set uo Jordan Jaworski for his second goal of the day midway through the first term. He has a lovely kicking technique and just makes things happen when going inside 50, showing class.

#23 Zak Pretty

Another solid game from the inside midfielder who like Stapleton, would drop back into defence and help out. He is a quick thinker who reacts to a loose ball quicker than most and was able to rack up a number of clearances and get the ball forward. Pretty worked hard on the inside and was able to fire out handballs to running midfielders on the outside.

#46 Tyreece Leiu

Just the three touches on debut but you can tell he has that bit of X-factor because his first kick was a lovely low dart delivery into a teammate leading out. He then won a free kick for a great tackle inside 50 in the first term and kicked truly for a great goal from the set shot.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

Like Leiu not huge disposal numbers but made his presence felt with some nice ball use around the ground on debut. He showed great vision to use the ball effectively by foot and was a quick thinker with ball-in-hand, not panicking under pressure.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Best on ground in the Chargers’ win and was absolutely sensational throughout the four quarters. No one went near him in the first term as he racked up seven touches in eight minutes then had to have a spell from suffering leather poisoning. He used his touch of class to keep the ball moving quickly, repelling from half-back to half-forward, and showed strength in the second term, shaking off a would-be tackler and kicked well down the ground whilst under pressure. He showed his class and was a rock in defence, dropping back into the hole and marking time and time again, mopping up for the Chargers and repelling opposition defence. He took a crucial intercept mark in the last minute to slow the play down when Eastern was attacking.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

An unheralded effort in the midfield, Lucas won a truckload of the ball around the stoppages, firing off quick handballs to rack up 15 disposals and in the first half and keep his side moving down the ground. He predominantly won the footy in the middle and was spreading out to the wings to provide and option and break up the play with short, sharp disposals. Won a massive one-on-one in the middle in the final term when Oakleigh was charging forward to stop Eastern from starting a counter attack.

#9 Will Phillips

The bottom-ager was ever-present in the midfield using his strength and power to move through stoppages and try and get the ball free to teammates on the outside. His kick-to-handball ratio was even this week which was important given his role is often handball-friendly. In this game Phillips was able to gain some separation on his opponents and kick the ball long, having a flying shot on goal early in the game but missing to the right, and later was able to fire away a quick handball to draw a second opponent and give his teammate a free run through the middle unimpeded.

#23 Dylan Williams

The stats do not tell the full story because Williams played an important role and looked ever dangerous inside 50. His biggest moment came when he kicked the sealing goal late in the game, dribbling it home from the pocket after working his opponent under the ball and goaling. His bodywork to win a one-on-two contest in the first term in the forward pocket was important, and not long after he intercepted a handball inside 50 but missed to the left with his shot. He missed another chance in the second term to the left, but then set up a teammate with a perfect kick to a leading target inside 50. He booted his first goal with a great set shot late in the second term to put his side in front and showed class with deft touches that might not count as a disposal, but were crucial in keeping the ball live at times and his teammates in contention to score.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Has a bit of the Sam Sturt’s about him in the sense that he looks raw, but very exciting. After turning his first kick over, Sharman used the ball effectively pushing up to the wing and then doubling back inside 50, finishing with four goals, all from general play. He has great special awareness and vision to be able to hit-up targets off very little time and space, and can do damage with ball in hand in the forward half. A creative player who can also hit the scoreboard, and took a great towering mark despite front-on contact friendly fire in the third term. Clean and classy, and has the composure not to blaze away, and rather set up teammates forward of the ball.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The tough midfielder was again at his damaging best, putting in another consistent effort for the Dragons, rounded out by 24 disposals, seven tackles and six inside 50s. Byrnes’ body of work over the year is placing him as one of the most consistent players in the draft pool and rarely plays a bad game. Drove Sandringham’s midfield alongside Hanrahan and was a reason the Dragons prevailed.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

The wingman was one of the dominant players of the round, capping off a superb performance with 35 disposals, 14 marks, eight rebound 50s and a classy goal. Was absolutely everywhere in the first half, racking up 22 touches and ball-winning showcased a ball winning ability that hasn’t been seen until now. His recent VFL experience with Sandringham was showcased, and Hanrahan looked a class above his peers, using his speed, electric ball use and smarts to great effect.

#29 Fischer McAsey

The backman’s draft stocks continue to rise on the back of another sound performance, this time up forward for the Dragons. Used as an intercepting key defender for Vic Metro in the Championships, McAsey slotted three goals for the day in a display that highlighted his around the ground capabilities. Had a consistent aerial presence all day and looked threatening as a forward, finishing with 10 marks and generating strong lead patterns and worked well with the smaller forwards. Took a fantastic pack mark from an errant entry in the first quarter, eventually going back and slotting the shot from 40m out. Started the third quarter on fire, slamming home 2.1 which was testimony of his ability to be a game breaker for the Dragons.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

The potential top 10 pick was capped off another sound performance with 24 disposals, five rebounds and five inside 50s. Gave Dandenong life in the last quarter, slotting a long-range goal on the run to put them 21 points down and mount a late surge. Young’s disposal efficiency is what separates him from other midfielders and combing this with his pace, which was on show today, makes him a compelling prospect. Outbodied his Sandringham opponent in the second quarter to take a good contested mark, only to miss the straight forward shot which would have been disappointed him.

#11 Ned Cahill

Played a role further up the ground to win the bulk of his touches in the contest. He won a number of clearances and whilst his kicking was rushed at times, showed versatility in playing through the midfield. Cahill had the most centre clearances of any player on the field, and while his greatest impact is inside 50, no doubt his ability to move through an inside role would have been a big tick for those watching on.

#20 Sam De Koning

The agile big man was solid for the Stingrays with 15 disposals and four rebounds. Playing in a largely defensive role, De Koning did not spend much time in the ruck for the game. Moves well for a big man and has good skills for a 200cm athlete.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#5 Cam Wild

Wild’s work-rate remained consistently high and he did his best to provide plenty of run and carry through the middle of the ground. He was a bit rushed with his disposal at times, but he always got the ball moving forward. Although he did not have the biggest game possession-wise, but still caught the eye with his pressure around the contest

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash started the match up forward and was involved in the first passage of play inside 50. After the Bushrangers fell 30 points behind in the first term, it was Ash who stood up for the home side, with a terrific 50m goal after the quarter-time siren. He moved into the guts in the second term and was very dangerous with ball in hand. His speed also came in handy around the ground, constantly finding a way to escape congestion, finding space in areas that he should not have been allowed. Ash kicked his second goal of the game in the fourth quarter after tucking the ball under his arm and burning off his opponent with his electric speed through the middle of the ground. He was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day and was impressive yet again, finishing with over 20 disposals and two goals.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft is a genuine in-and-under, fierce footballer. He has a good burst of speed and always seems to have a big impact both defensively and offensively – especially when he has minutes through the midfield. He was involved in the first scoring play of the second term when he drove a long ball inside 50 from a centre clearance. Chalcraft was able to use his strength to his advantage on the day, breaking numerous tackles before disposing of the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. Just love the way he goes about his footy.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Kicked a crumbing goal in the first 30 seconds of the second term, which swung the momentum of the game back in the Bushranger’s favour. He played in all areas of the ground, showcasing that he can have an impact in any position he’s instructed to play in. Ball-use was again a highlight of his game, along with his speed and vision. Another consistent performance from Boyer, finishing with 20 disposals and one goal.

#20 Elijah Hollands

Hollands played through the Bushrangers’ midfield, as well as up forward where he was a regular target. Hollands had a big impact early on when he spoiled a marking contest after a poor kick-in from the Knights, resulting in Murray’s first goal of the game. He had an electric 10 or so minutes in the first term, where he provided spark and x-factor around the contest. Holland’s forward craft is one of his best attributes and it was evident during the match, with the talented bottom-ager finding plenty of space across half-forward.

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

Davies played across half-back and was immediately involved when he took a nice intercept mark from a ball delivered inside 50 by the Bushrangers. He was reliable with ball in hand and was very patient before making his final decision by foot. Davies controlled the backline on the day and did what he pleased. He played loose and was able to set up plenty of effective passages of play from behind. Intercept marking was a real standout. Davies had a game-high 15 marks.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante presented strongly, booting his first major of the day after a brilliant kick from 45m out. He was able to use his speed to break away from his opponent before successfully kicking his second goal of the quarter. D’Intinosante had his third goal of the quarter after crumbing a marking contest perfectly and then dribbling through an easy goal. Just 30 seconds later, D’Intinosante snapped his fourth of the quarter from a tight angle. It was one of the best first-quarter performances of the year and the Bushrangers seemed to have no way of stopping the electric forward. He was awarded a free-kick in the forward pocket at the beginning of the second quarter and once again, converted his set-shot. He had five goals in half an hour of footy! He was a little quieter in the second half, but his first two quarters cannot go unrecognised. One of the main reasons the Knights got the four points.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess was involved in the first goal for the Knights when he handballed it to teammate Anthony O’Sullivan in open space, who then went on to dribble the ball through the big sticks. He competed strongly in the air, taking nine marks on for the match. Sturgess had three shots on goal but only ended up with one major. However, Sturgess definitely showed off his versatility by having an impact at both ends of the ground. A really good game where his reading of the play and sticky hands were on display.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#19 Ben Worme

It was a solid outing from Worme, performing his usual role off half-back and serving reliably. He linked up well early with fellow flanker James Schischka, often kicking away on the outside. He accumulated well in important areas, and began to take the game on more as it wore on. That culminated in a big run forward to get the hand-off at half-forward and slam home a goal on the run. You know what you are going to get from Worme, and he has enjoyed a consistent month.

#20 James Schischka

The Pioneers’ defensive mainstay endured an up and down day, involved in the action but unable to get his usual running game going and selling teammates into trouble by hand at times. Still, Schischka was strong in one-on-one duels across half-back and showed better composure when running off the last line, competing well both in the air and on ground level. His game could be summed up with one of his last plays in the final term, where he made a terrific tackle to win the ball on the defensive arc, but wheeled around and turned the ball straight over to gift Calder a goal.

#22 Josh Treacy

The enigmatic tall made a good return to the Bendigo side, playing a strong hand in a few different roles. Starting forward, Treacy used his frame to edge his opponent under the ball one-on-one while also hitting up well on the lead. He was not afraid to throw his weight around at ground level either, running straight through an opponent after making a handy spoil from behind on the wing. His timing on the lead when Bendigo broke from stoppages continued to prove smart, and he would eventually make amends for a couple of earlier set shot misses with a free kick goal in the final term. Also popped up with some marks in defensive 50, rucked up forward, and was even thrown on-ball at a centre bounce.

#26 Noah Walsh

Has come into the side in the middle period of the season and provided a bit of spark, this time through midfield and up forward. Donning his helmet, Walsh buzzed around at ground level to win the ball cleanly in congestion, showing good tenacity going both ways. The bottom-ager read the taps well, with one snare resulting in a goal from a forward stoppage in the third term. He would go on to play a bit more forward, hitting up and marking strongly on a couple of occasions, while lowering his eyes well to find targets when running from further afield.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles again popped up in patches with glimpses of his eye-catching dash through the middle. While he found the going tough around the ball with a few fumbles, the Vic Country representative fared better when receiving on the outer and being given the license to put his foot down. He made a couple of those typical daring sprints through the corridor in the second half, with one almost leading to a Pioneers goal.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

It was a steady return for the leading Calder prospect, playing as a constant through midfield. He was often first to the drop of the ball at stoppages, but was also pushed under the rucks at times which hampered his ability to find the pill. When he did latch onto it, Mott’s hands out of traffic were terrific, drawing opponents and dishing off to runners to good effect. Mott also began to get on his bike as the game went on, stringing a nice one-two play together from the centre bounce to go inside 50 and getting a couple of handball receives as we’re used to seeing.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks. His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on. Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and willingness to break tackles.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay has strung together a massive three weeks in terms of ball-winning, racking it up through midfield and adding strings to his bow. He started off with a couple of nice handballs out from stoppages before providing his more typical ploy of wheeling away from traffic onto his left side and thumping the ball forward. He worked tirelessly to do so repeatedly throughout the game, hardly losing pace and penetration by foot. Ramsay also lowered his eyes well to find Harrison Jones and Samuel Paea on the lead on the end of his runs, showcasing that outside class he provided off half-back earlier in the year. Capped off his game with a goal from close range after finding space inside 50.

#21 Harrison Jones

While he is yet to truly tear a game apart, Jones certainly looks like he has the potential to do so. In his first Cannons outing since Round 3, Jones moved well to get separation on the lead – starting with a mark and set shot goal from 40m in the first term. His work up the ground was handy, plucking a nice grab up on the wing in the following term and tackling well to follow up a pass which had fallen well short of him. Jones added a second after reading the ball well in flight to mark from the side deep inside 50 and slot home the resultant shot.

#29 Campbell Edwardes

The bottom-ager is a dynamic type, this time playing on the wing and again proving clean in the air, off the deck, and in disposal. He does not win massive amounts of ball, but Edwardes catches the eye with most of his touches, starting with a nicely judged mark from behind his opponent inside 50 and slotting Calder’s first goal of the game. He popped up again in the first term with a clean pick up and fend off, going on to provide a presence at ground level with pressure and tackling. Edwardes also positioned well behind the ball when Calder entered attacking 50, taking an intercept mark in the second term to lock the ball in, but would somewhat fade out of the game.

#38 Brodie Newman

Another to return from Vic Metro duties, Newman was solid in his usual defensive post. He immediately got back into the rhythm of intercepting and rebounding, but did get himself into trouble early on as he looked to load up on his right side with limited room. Newman’s positioning and reading of the play was good, playing like a key back while also getting on his bike with ball in hand. Will be important in the back-end of Calder’s season.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#6 Archie Hilderbrandt

Proved a handy addition in his first game since Round 9, keeping busy wherever her went. The bottom-ager started forward and was involved at the fall of the ball in Geelong’s front half, while also working hard to get out the back and in space on the counter. Hilderbrandt thought he had a goal in the second term but his snap was touched off the boot, and he later moved into the midfield where he got on the end of some deft Henry Walsh taps to break from congestion at speed – twice at the centre bounces.

#12 Noah Gribble

Has now put together a consistent few weeks, with this arguably his best outing for the season. Gribble came into the game early with some work down back, including a good couple of flies to intercept in defensive 50. He went on to win a good mix of ball at ground level on the outer of stoppages, as well as in general play. The bottom-ager was a constant accumulator and swept up well wherever he went, eventually finding his way into the back half again to help out in sweeping the ball away with some carry.

#36 Charlie Sprague

The shining light up forward for Geelong, Sprague booted his side’s first two goals of the game in an important second term effort. As a more mature body, the over-ager was strong in one-on-one contests – working well to mark up the ground and stand tall deep inside 50. His first goal came after reading the ball best from the back and marking, going on to convert the set shot. His second would come in a similar fashion, bustling through from behind another two opponents to mark and goal. He missed a couple more chances and had one touched off the boot, but Sprague would cap his day with a well finished snap after spilling the mark in the final term. Now has three-consecutive three-goal hauls in the NAB League.

#40 Jesse Clark

Returning to the side after a solid campaign for Vic Country, Clark assumed his usual role in patrolling defensive 50. The Geelong co-captain was a constant outlet option in the back half and used the ball well by foot despite not always breaching the GWV press. He would go on to station himself further afield to lock the ball in Geelong’s front half and did so to good effect before popping up again in defensive 50 as he looked to create early in the final term.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Fleeton is another bottom-ager the Falcons staff are high on, and he continues to put his hand up in an intercepting role across half-back. His early work included a few repelling kicks as GWV made a quick start, before eventually getting his aerial game going. Fleeton positioned well on the wing to intercept a long Rebels ball forward in the second term, repeating the act with a terrific pack mark to show his clean hands and reading of the ball in flight. Looks to have been a good find in the middle-part of the year.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

It was a handball-happy game from Mahony, who made most of his impact around the stoppages. His handballs to teammates on the outside proved handy time and time again, using rare vision and clean use to create passages forward for others. Mahony also caught the eye with a couple of neat pieces of evasion, shrugging off and turning his opponents shortly after gathering the loose ball on the move. Was a constant through midfield, adding some class but not collecting massive numbers.

#7 Mitch Martin

The forward/midfielder continues to find both the ball and the goals, proving a dangerous mover as the game wore on. Martin created a bit of spark with a couple of handball chains on the outside, carving up the wing and releasing long by foot. His work forward was also handy, finding separation on the lead just inside 50 and booting his first goal just before half time. His second came in the final term as he got out the back at half-forward before marking and coolly finishing on the run from 45m. Was another to add quality to an end-to-end game.

#13 Jay Rantall

Continuing his role as a centre bounce constant, Rantall was superb when latching onto the ball on the forward side of the stoppages. Did not end up with the big numbers we have become used to, but made each one count this time around with some deft handballs and booting a couple of sensational goals. His first was a classy finish from 50m on the run after arching his back to burn an opponent, and the second was another nice finish at full flight from closer in. Is a steady riser and arguably the Rebels’ best.

#41 Fraser Marris

The bottom-ager was solid forward of centre, pitching in with a couple of nice touches in the first term. One was a set shot goal after earning a free kick inside 50, and another was a strong mark overhead. Marris showed similar form to intercept one-on-one on the wing in the second term, while also bursting aggressively through traffic. He paired that aggression with a neat kick to Mitch Martin inside 50, assisting his goal.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Under 16 Vic Country representative showed promise on his NAB League debut, thrown straight into the ruck before spending most of his time up forward. While he did not find the goals, Rentsch almost did just that from a shot off the deck after a strong bit of bodywork one-out in the square. He went on to find space well up on half-forward and had a particularly clean half-volley take in the last term to show his athleticism.

Scouting notes/wrap: NAB League Boys – Tasmania vs. Eastern

IN the weekend’s sole fixture, Tasmania and Eastern finally brought Round 12 of the NAB League Boys competition to an end, jerking the curtain at UTAS Stadium for the Hawthorn-Fremantle AFL clash. Given it was a standalone game, we combined the match report and scouting notes into one for your convenience.

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

GOALS:
Tasmania: J. Callow 4, J. Menzie, W. Harper, W. Peppin, R. Mansell.
Eastern: J. Rossiter 2, B. Hickleton 2, C. Downie, T. Edwards, T. Weir, B. McCormack, Z. Pretty, H. Keeling, M. Mellis.

BEST:
Tasmania: R. Mansell, J. Callow, M. McGuinness, O. Davis, I. Chugg, J. Lane
Eastern: M. Mellis, W. Parker, B. McCormack, J. Nathan, C. Black, J. Duffy

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.

SCOUTING NOTES

Tasmania:

#1 Mitchell O’Neill

Unfortunately had his return game for the Devils cut short by what looked like a pretty innocuous knee injury in the second term. He had started the same term off the ground after limping off earlier, getting stuck straight back into the action. Can hopefully get a better run at it toward the back-end of the year, and looked a positive addition to Tasmania’s midfield in the early stages.

#3 Oliver Davis

The bottom-ager continues to excel in the engine room, putting in a typical shift with inside ball winning and hard tackling. He won the first clearance of the first and second terms to mark his intent and enjoyed a good battle against Eastern’s Lachie Stapleton, catching him holding the ball on two occasions with great technique. While Davis sometimes blazes away in possession, his presence in midfield is invaluable and he plays his role well.

#4 Will Peppin

The National Academy member looks to have regained some good form and was busy throughout this outing. Peppin loves to take off with ball in hand, doing so with agile moves through traffic in the first term to send his side forward. The zippy mover added tackling pressure to his game as it went on, while also running hard off the line at centre bounces and impacting the play further afield in general play. Peppin earned at front-on contact free kick in the first quarter to kick his sole goal for the game, with a later shot from 50 falling short.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Another who contributed a game now expected of him, McGuinness has been an important cog in the Tasmanian back six. He positioned well in the hole to intercept overhead on many an occasion, but was mostly sighted bringing the ball out of defensive 50 by foot on the move. While his range was a little off at times, McGuinness got some handy distance on his kicks and is finding solid consistency.

#13 Sam Collins

Was by no means a huge game from Collins, but he looked strong around the ball as he enjoyed some time in the midfield. When starting on the outside, he pushed hard off the line to impact stoppages and get involved in the play. The bottom-ager also got his usual kicking game going well, delivering a pin-point ball into the corridor in the first term and backing it up with an even better pass from half-back into the middle in the final quarter. Had a bit of a rough patch to open the third term as he gave away a couple of free kicks, but was otherwise effective when in possession.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow looked like having a huge game after he booted three goals within the first half-hour, but was clamped well after the main break with Eastern ensuring he would compete against two or three markers in the air. He started off by winning a ground ball against his direct opponent deep inside 50 before snapping the first goal of the game, following up with a huge pack mark and set shot goal to highlight a scintillating opening. He also created Will Peppin’s goal after booting his third, marking deep in the pocket and kicking well inboard. His physicality ensured that direct opponents were more occupied with holding him that getting to the ball, and Callow’s work off the deck was scarily good for a player of his size. He would go on to show as much by turning his opponent twice in the third term but missing the shot, eventually being restricted well.

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

The natural ball winner did a lot of unheralded work around the contest, handing out well and combining almost telepathically with his Eastern midfield mates to buzz forward from congestion. His low centre of gravity and reading of taps ensured he often got to the ball first before dishing off quickly. Stapleton had a good moment in the final term where he ran forward hard from the stoppage to receive a handball of the attacking side, before delivering beautifully on the run inside 50 to honour Ben Hickleton’s lead.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Arguably the best afield, Mellis was aggressive in both his forward running and defensive efforts. His gut-busting runs after disposing of the ball to get on the end of a second handball broke the play open, with Mellis using his speed to burst away from trouble. He worked fantastically well in the small Eastern midfield to chain possessions together at stoppages rather than blazing away, and did as much around the ground as he got busy from the get-go. Mellis was alight early, booting a goal after finding space to get the hand-off inside 50 and snapping truly, going on to accumulate around the ground in an influential display.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter makes his possessions count, getting in dangerous areas within the forward half and impacting the scoreboard. He worked well up to half forward in the first half, throwing his weight around and taking a strong mark from behind on the attacking arc. He found space in the third term to get a shot on goal but fell short, before thumping home a goal from nothing as he threw the ball onto his boot 60 metres from home and saw it bounce through over the back. Rossiter added another in the final term, mopping up an errand handball to snap truly on his left boot.

#20 Connor Downie

The bottom-aged Metro representative was again influential on the outside, finding the ball on the flanks at both ends and using his damaging left boot to good effect. Downie had an early score involvement as he roosted long towards goal to find Harrison Keeling in the square, before getting another hand-off at the arc in the second term and slamming the ball home himself. He finds space well and always looks for the shorter option inboard, kicking long down the line when in doubt to ensure his plays are high-percentage.

#21 James Ross

Was unfortunately the other big injury casualty to come out of the game, being taken off the field by trainers in the second term after receiving a heavy late bump shortly after disposing of the ball. He did not return to the game, but had started solidly in his key back post and got up the ground well. Hopefully he gets another chance to prove his worth this year.

#23 Zak Pretty

Was in the thick of it early on with some linking handballs at the centre bounces and a nice goal on the run from the pocket to get Eastern on the board. He combined his usual inside work with some good movement forward, putting in another solid shift and finding his usual numbers around the contest.

NAB League Boys Round 13 preview: Representative guns return to action

WITH the national carnival come and gone, top-end NAB League regulars are starting to filter back into action, starting with Round 13. Sandringham’s inclusions will put the Dragons in good stead for a top four clash against Western, while Oakleigh and Northern also look well replenished coming into their respective fixtures.


WESTERN JETS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval

A well-stocked Sandringham Dragons line-up will be looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats when it faces fellow top-four side, the Western Jets to open Round 13. The Dragons are set to welcome back Vic Metro representatives Ryan Byrnes, Finn Maginness, Oscar Lewis, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Jack Bell, as well as over-ager Angus Hanrahan in one of the more star studded inclusion lines of any team this season. They join the likes of Hugo Ralphsmith, Charlie Dean, and Andrew Courtney from last week’s team, meaning over half of the Dragons’ Metro squad members will suit up for them as they gear towards full strength. Meanwhile, Western is also set to benefit from the conclusion of the national carnival, welcoming Emerson Jeka back into the side. He joins fellow inclusion and big man Aaron Clarke, meaning Will Kennedy is likely set to revert back to his usual ruck duties against his old side. While they gain good tall stocks, the Jets will be without Darcy Cassar for this clash, but should be able to cover their losses down back with Josh Kellett and Lucas Rocci in good form, while Eddie Ford and Josh Honey hold equal class up the other end. This will be a tough ask for Western given Sandringham’s regained midfield and defensive depth, on top of coming off a pretty dour defeat to Calder last time out. Expect the Dragons boys to come out hot after a down couple of weeks, as well as a heartbreaking loss for those who donned Metro colours against the Allies. Plenty to prove.


GIPPSLAND POWER vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday July 6, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Northern Knights will look to test an undermanned Gippsland Power unit, with a near-full strength squad named to travel up to Morwell. Metro back six regulars Ryan Sturgess and Lachie Potter bolster the Knights line-up – albeit starting on different lines – with Adam Carafa‘s inclusion set to see Josh D’Intinosante spend more time forward, while Nikolas Cox provides some versatility. Ben Major could spend some time down back with over-ager Sunny Brazier named at full forward, while 16-year-old Ned Long slots in as 23rd man. For Gippsland, Fraser Phillips is the only Country representative set to suit up this week, meaning the likes of Leo Connolly, Trent Baldi, and Jake van der Plight will have to continue to stand up alongside bottom-age gem Sam Berry as the Power’s major ball-finders. The home side will look to take full advantage of Northern’s extended break, with a trip to Morwell a tough ask coming off the bye, but a chance to refresh equally plays into Northern’s hands. The Power only just snuck home against a vastly inexperienced Geelong side last week, so will have to show some noted improvement across the four quarters to get the better of a relatively strong and more flexible Knights side. If conditions allow for it, this game could be an under-the-radar belter.


MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday July 6, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

Wins streaks are set to be broken as the Murray Bushrangers host ladder-leaders, Eastern Ranges on Saturday afternoon. The Bushies are slowly but surely making amends for a disappointing start to their season, winning their last three games to sit just outside of the top eight on percentage. On the other hand, Eastern have surpassed all pre-season expectations to sit first, boasting two wins over third-place Sandringham and their last loss coming against the second-ranked side, Gippsland in Round 6. The Ranges have the added advantage of fielding five Vic Metro representatives given they had the bye during Wednesday’s carnival action. Skipper James Ross, Lachlan Stapleton, Mitch Mellis, Jamieson Rossiter, and bottom-ager Connor Downie have all been named, making the Ranges look a pretty formidable opponent. Their pressure game across the ground will be key to victory here, with Murray coming off a 3.22 performance – albeit in wet and windy conditions. The Bushrangers will have to wait another week to regain their Country squad members, but the likes of Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Charlie Byrne have all shown solid form over the past few weeks. The dynamism of over-ager Zane Barzen will also be crucial as he again slots in at centre half-back, with Eastern’s tall strength up forward posing a big threat. They visitors look stronger across the board, but face Murray at a bad time as the Bushrangers are finally clicking into gear as the season hots up.


CALDER CANNONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday July 6, 2:15pm
RAMS Arena

Fresh off a win over top-four hopefuls, Western, the Calder Cannons will be looking to consign the Dandenong Stingrays to a fourth-straight defeat when they meet at RAMS Arena. The two sides had largely differing starts to the season, with Calder improving greatly through the middle-sector while the Stingrays are faltering after going undefeated until Round 10. The comparatively inexperienced Dandenong side features a couple of Vic Country Under 16 trial squad members with Patrick Gerdan and Miller Bergman again named, while Clayton Gay will again have to stand up in the absence of many key top and over-agers. Lachlan Williams is one Dandenong top-age gun to feature after his Country duties, named in the centre as opposed to his typical wing position given how depleted the squad is. For Calder, Sam Ramsay, Ned Gentile and Harrison Minton-Connell will look to lead the ball-winning brigade and take advantage of a weakened Dandenong engine room, with Mason Fletcher showing enough form up forward to be named there once again. Bottom-ager Campbell Edwardes slots into the back six next to Curtis Brown, with the magnets able to be shuffled around if need be. While the hosts are at a high point, they have met a lot of sides at ideal times – and this clash is no different. Dandenong have the talent to bounce back though, and should have a back end of the year we are more accustomed to.


TASMANIA DEVILS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Sunday July 7, 10:30am
Kingston Twin Ovals

Another tight tussle between the Tasmania and Bendigo is set to go down at Kingston’s Twin Ovals, with the Pioneers looking to make good on their after-the-siren loss to the Devils last time out. Both sides remain relatively steady coming off the national carnival, with only the usual suspects missing and making the ledger pretty even in that sense. Matt McGuinness is a key inclusion for Tasmania, named at centre-half back and set to join Allies representative Sam Collins as aerial dominators. Collins’ fellow Allies squad member Ollie Davis also remains in the heart of the side, with Jackson Callow making it a trio of dangerous bottom-agers for the Devils. For Bendigo, James Schischka and Ben Worme will look to mirror the efforts of McGuinness and Collins in their own defensive half, while Sam Conforti will look to show his own prowess as a bottom-ager. The Pioneers’ tall stocks take a hit with Josh Treacy out, meaning Braydon Vaz will have to play above his height and Aaron Gundry could spend some time forward. However the sides line-up, this looks a very even contest on paper and if the sides’ previous contest is anything to go by, this should be an very tight slog from start to finish, with Tasmania’s host status the only clear advantage to be had.


GEELONG FALCONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday July 7, 11:30am
Avalon Airport Oval

Geelong Falcons will be looking for leaders to rise when they play host to the Oakleigh Chargers, with the Falcons fresh off yet another heartbreaking defeat. It will be a tall order though, as some big ins all of a sudden have Oakleigh looking quite formidable after losing a raft of top-end talent to national carnival duties. Co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams slot in at either end, with bottom-ager Will Phillips joining over-agers Joe Ayton-Delaney and Cooper Sharman on the bench. Phillips’ fellow bottom-agers Sam Tucker, Lochlan Jenkins, and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan have been in fine form as Oakleigh’s makeshift spine, and should be a huge threat again in this game. The Falcons have some bottom-age talent of their own though, with Henry Walsh and Oliver Henry finding form alongside midfielders Gennaro Bove and Charlie Lazzaro. Charlie Sprague is the key inclusion, set to resume his forward partnership with Henry and add some much-needed experience and strength. The Chargers look to be taking no prisoners in their top-four tilt though, and have gone all-out in looking to break through this weekend. A win would not be enough to scrape Geelong off the bottom of the ladder, but would go a long way towards a confidence boost.