Tag: Cooper Stephens

Classic Contests: Falcons overcome Stephenson-inspired Ranges in Box Hill thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016 when the two teams faced off at Box Hill City Oval.

EASTERN RANGES 4.3 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.7 (85)
GEELONG FALCONS 4.3 | 7.5 | 11.7 | 13.14 (92)

TAC Cup, Round 15 | Sunday, July 31, 2016
Box Hill City Oval, 2pm

Future draftees:

Eastern: Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood), Jordan Gallucci (Adelaide), Dylan Moore (Hawthorn), Josh Begley (Essendon), Trent Mynott (Essendon), Sam Hayes (Port Adelaide)
Geelong: James Worpel (Hawthorn), Gryan Miers (Geelong)

Crossing the West Gate and heading up the Eastern to meet the Ranges at Box Hill, the top of the table Geelong Falcons were strong favourites against a seventh placed Ranges outfit. Despite having a ton of talent – almost 20 draftees over the next two years – Eastern was six wins from 14 games with a number of players unavailable throughout the season. The Falcons also had plenty of top-end talent missing, but the game was not without some future AFL young stars in Jaidyn Stephenson and James Worpel on opposing sides.

Both sides hit it off early with neither team able to be split in the first term. From seven scoring shots, the sides headed into the first break with a 4.3 scoreline each and the knowledge that their opposition was not going to back down. Against the odds it was Eastern that broke clear in the second term. The Ranges piled on five goals, largely helped by the influence of Stephenson up forward, whilst the Falcons booted the three to be trailing by 10 points at the break. Again both sides had the same amount of scoring shots, but the 5.0 to 3.2 in favour of the home side was the difference at half-time.

The ladder leaders would get back on track in the third quarter, booting 4.2 to 2.2 and take a two-point lead by the final break, The stage was set for a ripping last quarter, and while there was only a combined four goals kicked between the sides, the tension was unbelievable. Geelong had the lion-share of disposal, recording nine scoring shots to the Ranges’ four. Whilst inaccuracy could have hurt the Falcons, they did enough to dominate the ball and capitalise where possible with forward 50 possession and eventually got the four points, 13.14 (92) to 13.7 (85) in a tight contest.

Tough midfielder, Max Augerinos was named best for the Falcons with 18 disposals, two marks, six tackles and a couple of goals, just ahead of the Falcons top prospect Worpel. He racked up 17 disposals, two marks and a goal, whilst laying a game-high 19 tackles. Harry Benson (14 disposals, three marks and six tackles) and co-captain Cooper Stephens (14 disposals, two tackles) were also named among the best, as were Zachary Zdybel (21 disposals, eight marks, 19 hitouts, two tackles and a goal) and Patrick Killen (23 disposals, six marks and four tackles).  The other drafted Falcon in Gryan Miers was lively up forward with a goal from 17 disposals, three marks and two tackles.

Despite the loss, Stephenson was the clear best on ground, slotting five goals from 14 touches, four marks – two contested – and four tackles, while Trent Mynott (two goals) was busy with 20 disposals, four marks and four tackles. Future Crow, Gallucci was also among the top Ranges, helping himself to 18 disposals, two marks and four tackles, but gave away five free kicks. Working hard through the ruck, Sam Hayes had 33 hitouts from 18 touches, seven marks – two contested – and two tackles in the defeat, while Tate Short and Billy Norris booted a couple of majors each and were named in the best. Of the other draftees, Dylan Moore (18 disposals, three marks and two tackles) and Josh Begley (16 disposals, three marks and eight tackles) both contributed strongly.

The Falcons would end up finishing second on the TAC Cup ladder and reach a preliminary final but fade away in the second half against Sandringham Dragons. A fortnight earlier, Eastern Ranges would fall two points short of the Dragons on their way to the 2016 TAC Cup premiership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q&A: Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

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

Lazzaro enters his top-age year on the back of an impressive under-age resume, having represented Vic Country at the Under 16 national carnival in 2018 and notched eight NAB League appearances in 2019. In those eight outings, the 178cm prospect showed his wares as a rugged inside midfielder, averaging 20 disposals, 4.1 tackles, and 4.1 clearances at either end of his school football campaign with Geelong College.

An impressive athlete to boot, Lazzaro lit up the pre-season testing day with a 3.10-second time in the 20m sprint, 7.79 in the agility, and a 21.5 score in the yo-yo test. The St Mary’s product is also looking to expand his game in a more forward-oriented role this year, all while maintaining his effort to be “a well-rounded person” with his studies and passion for psychology in tow. Hear more from the man himself in our Q&A special.

MA: How’s the day been for you?

CL: “It’s been really exciting, Mike. I definitely came here with a mindset to try and get some PBs (personal bests). Obviously it’s a big trip up the highway for all of us (Falcons) to come here this morning, but definitely with the intentions to get some PBs and help support my teammates along the way.”

How do you think you went?

“I ended up getting three PBs today so was really stoked with the outcome of how it all went.. “I’m glad that so far I’ve been able to do that.”

How’s the testing here and getting those PBs going to translate to your game heading into the season?

“Obviously I really pride my game on contested work. “Being only 180cm I think if I can burrow in on the inside and also use my pace and endurance on the outside to generate some ball along the way I think that really compliments the way I play.”

“Hopefully we can string a few more wins together this year, unlike last year unfortunately. “But I think it’ll hold my game in good stead for the future.”

The experience last year for your top-age group now would have been invaluable, do you agree?

“Yeah, definitely as a bottom-ager I think in the final game against Sandringham we ended up having 20 bottom-agers play. “So it really just goes to show that towards the back-end of the year how good some of the bottom-agers were putting games together, and I think if we come together collectively this year we’ll be a very strong side within the NAB League competition.”

You might have a bit on your plate with school footy, Geelong, and Vic Country – how do you balance that and what position do you see yourself playing?

“So I think at the Falcons last year I played a lot as an inside mid with Cooper Stephens going down, however I did spend a bit of time as a small forward and speaking to Leigh Brown and Daff (Luke Daffy) and my school coach, Luke Primus, I think it’d be a strong idea for me to add another string to my bow and play as a small forward.

“Also to give myself a bit more exposure in not exactly one position, but to have two as well. “I think going forward, definitely just developing forward craft, just doing the basics really well – I think all good footballers know how to do the basics really well and I’m just going to try and build my game around that.”

You’re going to be playing alongside a heap of talent in those teams, who are some of the guys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“I think definitely someone who has shot onto the equation recently would be Cam Fleeton. “I’m really excited to play with him, he’s been given the captain’s nod this year with Gennaro Bove as well to lead the Falcons and I’m really excited to play a bit of footy with Cam.

“Someone as well like Ollie Henry, Henry Walsh, Tanner Bruhn – all really good bottom-agers that have really showcased a lot of footy through the last couple of years. I’m really excited for the possible prospect of us all coming together and playing some really good footy.”

Are there any goals personally that you’re looking to tick off this year?

“I think just on top of footy I really do want to do well at school. I pride myself on being a well-rounded person, so a goal of mine this year would definitely be to get a decent ATAR, get through the school year, get through healthy – you can only play footy when you’re healthy. “So if I can stay healthy for as long as possible, hopefully that’ll hold me in good stead for the rest of the year.”

I know footy’s the ultimate goal, but what are you looking to do with your studies?

“I’m actually really passionate about psychology. “Going forward, if I do end up making a career out of footy that’d be great, however I do think I’d like to pursue studies in psychology. “That’s just a real passion of mine and I think it’s something I can take going forward and really look to impact other peoples’ lives and help shed a positive light around mental health and some of the other stigmas around those topics.”

As part of the Falcons’ culture, do they encourage you to have that life outside of football?

“Definitely. Mick’s (Mick Turner) been really big on that, and same as Daff throughout even last year, just saying that obviously at the end of the day if you do have a bad game or you are having a bad couple of weeks, or even if you are having a purple patch, it’s just a game of footy at the end of the day.

“We just really need to look at taking it day-by-day, week-by-week, trusting our process at the Falcons, trusting each-other and I think that’s really just the message that they’ve instilled in us over the last couple of years.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classic Contests: Rebels come from behind to down Falcons in one-point thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, when the sides took to the field at MARS Stadium and had a number of exciting prospects make it an even contest.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.8 | 5.10 | 8.16 (64)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 4.3 | 9.6 | 9.9 (63)

Round 2 | Sunday, March 31, 2019
MARS Stadium, 1pm

In recent years, Geelong Falcons have had the wood over GWV Rebels, particularly when at full strength, but given the game was at MARS Stadium and the teams were considered pretty even, many attending the game hoped it would live up to expectations. The first half certainly suggested that might be the case and the two eventual top-age draftees in Cooper Stephens and Jay Rantall showed just why they were so highly rated with some terrific performances. For Rantall it was just his second game, while for Stephens it would be his last full game before breaking his leg a week later.

After the Rebels missed a few chances in the first term, Geelong’s Chas Karpala was the first on the board for the match, handing his side an early four-point advantage 14 minutes into the contest. Isaac Wareham quickly responded for the Rebels to get the home side started, before Harry Stubbings again handed his side the lead in the last few minutes for the visitors to head into half-time with a narrow five-point advantage. Inaccuracy was troubling the Rebels with both side booting two goals in the second term, but the Rebels also booting five behinds in the blustery conditions. Rantall broke the ice in the seventh minute mark for the fifth lead change of the match, but Mitchell Langan again found a response for the Falcons, booting back-to-back goals to open up the largest lead of the game – nine points. A late major to James Cleaver who was being tested forward after playing as a defender in his top-age year brought the Rebels to within a point at the main break.

The Falcons put the foot down after half-time thanks to the likes of Stephens, Charlie Lazzaro and Keidan Rayner, whilst Charlie Sprague was having an influence further up the ground in midfield. Max Annandale, Karpala and Jay Dahlhaus – cousin of Luke – all had majors within 10 minutes of time in the third term and opened up a very comfortable 27-point lead. Darcy McEldrew went forward and kicked a crucial major, which was followed up by a goal to clever forward, Izaac Grant before Stephens steadied his side to push the margin back out to 20 at the end of the third term. Little did Falcons fans know, this would be the last major of the game as the Rebels clicked into gear in the final term – not without further inaccuracy – to boot 3.6 to 0.3 and run over the top of Geelong.

Four consecutive behinds for the Rebels in the opening seven minutes threatened to derail the comeback for the home side, before Cleaver’s second released the pressure valve a couple of minutes later. When Mitch Martin kicked truly five minutes later, the margin was less than a kick and it was well and truly game on. Sprague missed a chance midway through the term for the Falcons, as did the Rebels before McEldrew became the saviour in the dying minutes. He converted a goal with a couple of minutes left on the clock to hand his side the lead. A late behind to Charlie Harris brought the margin back to one with 15 seconds on the clock, but the Rebels were able to hold on for a memorable win.

Rantall finished the game as the clear best on ground, racking up 24 touches (15 contested), three marks, six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal in what showed off his elite endurance and burst speed. Fellow Vic Country member, Liam Herbert had 20 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds, while Cooper Craig-Peters (19 disposals (17 contested), eight tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, and Cleaver (17 disposals – 13 contested – two tackles, three inside 50s and two goals) thrived in the less-than-ideal conditions. Riley Polkinghorne worked hard from defence with seven rebounds to go with 15 touches, while Toby Mahony (12 disposals, four clearances), Harry Sharp (15 disposals, four inside 50s and four rebounds) and Connor Hinkley (16 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) all impressed for the Rebels.

Stephens was the standout for the Falcons in midfield alongside Lazzaro, with the pair combining for 54 disposals, seven tackles, nine clearances, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Rayner racked up 10 rebounds from 25 touches and three inside 50s, while Sprague was equally influential at half-forward thanks to 23 touches and seven inside 50s. Noah Gribble (21 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s) was prominent, while Stephens’ fellow AFL Academy top-age teammate Jesse Clark racked up nine rebounds and 16 disposals,

Neither side would go on to have great seasons, with the Falcons winning just three games and drawing another from 16 outings to finish in the bottom of the table with a heavy Wildcard Round loss to Sandringham Dragons, while GWV Rebels also bowed out at the Wildcard Round stage following a defeat to Western Jets at Box Hill after winning six games throughout the season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 NAB League Boys team preview: Geelong Falcons

SILVER linings often prove golden for talent managers among the nation’s elite talent pathways, but Geelong’s Mick Turner has seldom had to search for them across over 25 years in the job. That somewhat changed in 2019 as the Falcons endured a lacklustre season on-field and produced their lowest draft haul since the proud program’s inception (one), with co-captain Cooper Stephens picked up in the first round by the region’s AFL club.

Aside from boasting yet another first round pick in Stephens, the silver lining in the Falcons’ “out of the blue” year was being able to accelerate the development of a number of bottom-age prospects who will now lead the club in their 18th year. On the back of a solid pre-season, Turner is optimistic his squad will be able to make marked improvements on last year’s output.

“It’s been a pretty good preseason for us, this is the culmination for it with the Rookie Me testing for the AFL,” Turner told Draft Central at the Rookie Me pre-season testing day. “We believe we have a very good squad this year in terms of team and individuals for the draft and hopefully the boys test well.”

“Over the years we’ve been probably the most successful club in Australia at getting players drafted and players on AFL lists – I think last year we had 45 players on AFL and I checked most weeks we’ve got 30 to 35 playing AFL seniors so, we’re pretty happy about that. “Last year was a bit one out of the blue, we had a very frustrating year. “Cooper Stephens got injured, he broke his leg early in the season, Jay Dahlhaus who is really important for us got injured and Tanner Bruhn had a knee operation. “We won three games and then we had a draw, a point loss, a two-point loss, a four-point loss, a seven-point loss – if one of those players played we could have won seven or eight more games.”

“We made a concerted effort at the end of the year to play (16 and 17-year-olds) and I think in the last game against Sandy in the Wildcard Round they beat us by 15 goals but when we looked at it, we had 20 players that would be here in 2020 and I think Sandringham had two. “So you can only play who you can play but we’ve put a lot of work into this group and we think potentially they are a very good group. “Five games in the end in NAB League is probably worth 50 to an AFL player so hopefully that gives us some benefit going into the season and we think that experience has been good for the players.”

Of the 30 players selected in this year’s Vic Country Hub, eight hail from the Falcons’ program. But akin to the cases of Metro powerhouses Oakleigh and Sandringham, Geelong will have to maintain a busy schedule for many of its top-end prospects who will juggle commitments between school, NAB League, and representative football programs. Buoyed by the extended talent of the squad past those selected in the Country hub, Turner highlighted the beginning and end of the NAB League season as key periods for draft hopefuls.

“When the hub’s done they can only pick 30 to start and we’ve got eight in which is a lot… I would have thought 15 to 16 that would get in, there’s boys outside the hub that are as good as a lot of the players inside the hub for us,” Turner said. “We’ve got a list of 60 because we have a lot of player movement within the NAB League, a lot of our boys go to Geelong Grammar and Geelong College, and we’ve got other boys at Christian College and St Joey’s which are our big feeder schools that have ACC commitments with football.

“What’s important at our level is in terms of the draft, when NAB clubs are at their full strength at the start of the year, that’s when boys have really got to put their hand up and play well. “It gets diluted a bit during the year, but if you’re picked for the national championships you’ve got to do well and then at the end of the year when the private school football finishes, that’s when you’ve got to be really putting your stamp on it again to give yourself a chance to reach your dream to be drafted or rookied to an AFL club.”

Player movement and continuity have long been priorities in terms of maintenance for talent managers with their top-aged players, and a bunch of 19-year-olds should be able to provide aid advice-wise to those coming into their draft year. In particular, former Sandringham representative Darcy Chirgwin will be at the top of the list having juggled commitments between the Dragons and a Melbourne Grammar scholarship last year, while also recovering from a spate of injuries.

“Darcy was with us as a 16-year-old and got a scholarship to Melbourne Grammar which was good for him school-wise and academically,” Turner said. “I rate Darcy, he’s a really great player. “When he first came to us this year his conditioning and strength were down a bit compared to our other players but our high performance staff have put a lot of work into him. “He’s with Geelong (VFL) so when he’s picked in the VFL, he will play for Geelong and when he’s not picked for VFL he will come back and play for us. “Hopefully we can get that balance right.”

Chirgwin adds to a talented engine room already boasting the likes of Bruhn and Charlie Lazzaro, but it is an unusually tall squad which is set to take the field for Geelong this season. Henry Walsh, Oliver Henry, and Cameron Fleeton, are all key position types who have already impressed, but Turner is still bullish on his midfielders, too.

“(It’s) probably the tallest team we’ve ever had,” Turner said. “I think we’re pretty balanced right across the board, we’ve got some really good players down back and we’ve got a really good midfield. “Charlie Lazzaro and players like that are in the hub, Darcy Parish‘s brother Indy who is only 17, and we’ve got some really quality forwards if we can get them all on the field.”

“When the team’s at full strength, we’ll play them in the their best positions. “Indy Parish for example won’t play midfield in our first round, but he’ll hopefully be in the side and maybe play forward. “When those older players, Lazzaro and (Gennaro) Bove move out of the midfield, he’ll come in and have his midfield role and get that experience. That goes across the board to all of our players.”

Given the wealth of talent available, Turner believes this will be one of the Falcons’ more fruitful years come draft time. But with a long way to go until then, he hopes they can just get a decent run at it.

“We’re just looking forward to the year, we hope we have a bit of luck with injury… so the players can show what they do but we’re pretty excited about the group. “Potentially we think it’s one of the better groups we’ve had, but the word is potentially – it’s still got to happen, they’ve still got to perform.”

2019 AFL Draft club review: Geelong Cats

WHEN it comes to approaching the National AFL Draft for Geelong, the Cats fans and wider general public expect a couple of things. Firstly, a player linked to the Geelong region in some way, shape or form, and a bolter from obscurity that anyone outside serious draft watchers would have to deep dive into Google to find out information about. The mastermind of Stephen Wells did it again, ticking both boxes in a bid to add extra depth to the list. Coming into the draft Geelong could do with a replacement midfielder, a key position player, ruck and some more firepower up forward. Three of those four areas were ticked off, with the Cats just not in the right ball park to snag a ruck – too late in the order to pick up Luke Jackson and too early to reach on the next handful of long-term talents.

GEELONG:

National Draft:
16. Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) | 188cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
19. Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 201cm | 86kg | Key Position Utility
41. Francis Evans (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) 182cm | 78kg | Medium Forward
50. Cameron Taheny (Norwood/South Australia) 185cm | 80kg | Medium Forward

Rookie Draft:
14. Brad Close (Glenelg) | 180cm | 68kg | Midfielder/Forward
27. Oscar Brownless (Geelong Cats)
35. Lachlan Henderson (Geelong Cats)

As late as draft night itself, Geelong was linked to the likes of Brodie Kemp and Deven Robertson, with the belief the Cats would select a midfielder with their first pick. That occurred, but instead it was local boy Cooper Stephens who missed the majority of the year with a broken leg. His recovery has been nothing short of sublime – and as the Falcons showed on Instagram last week – he is fit and ready to go in 2020. He is predominantly an inside midfielder with good strength and hands around the contest and clever decision making skills. He is that Tim Kelly replacement, although the Cats as a collective will replace the West Coast Eagles’ recruit. They then went tall as expected with their second pick inside the top 20, opting for Sam De Koning at Pick 19, after the likes of Harrison Jones and Josh Worrall were also in the conversation. De Koning has the most versatility of the talls, having the size to play in the ruck at AFL level, but will likely play as a key defender or swingman going forward.

The final two selections in the National Draft ticked off the firepower in the forward half. Wells’ obsure pick for the year was Francis Evans, a medium forward from Calder Cannons who stepped up from the amateur leagues on the word of close mate Daniel Mott, and had an immediate impact. Injury ended his NAB League run, but between that and his work in the VAFA, Geelong believed Evans had done enough to earn a spot on the list. He was the surprise of the draft, and Cats fans were scrambling to find any information they could on him. Luckily, Draft Central spoke to the forward at the State and Rookie Me Draft Combine and the interview can be found here. Along with Evans, a highly rated South Australian forward in Cam Taheny was selected in what could be the steal of the draft. Heading to the blue and white hoops at Pick 50, Taheny is a first rounder on talent, but had an injury interrupted year that also impacted his form. Expect once he can build his endurance and get on the park, he will make a few clubs look silly down the track.

The Cats closed out their draft period with a mature-age selection in Brad Close, a late blooming midfielder/forward who played all 21 games in Glenelg’s premiership-winning League side. The 21-year-old still has further development in him, but his athletic traits – notably his speed and agility – and his competitive nature make him a real goer. He is ready to step right into the side if required, while Stephens is another who is most prepared to tackle senior football once he has built up more match fitness. Taheny could be a surprise packet later in the year in 2020, while both De Koning and Evans would not be expected to feature next season as they are long-term prospects with the Cats to build their development first. The Cats also redrafted Oscar Brownless and Lachlan Henderson with the final two picks in the AFL Rookie Draft, making it a mix of long-term and readymade prospects.

2019 AFL Draft – Club-by-club selections

WITH the 2019 AFL National, Pre-season, and Rookie Drafts come and gone, here are the full club-by-club selections after three days worth of drafting.

ADELAIDE:

National Draft:
6. Fischer McAsey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 197cm | 91kg | Key Position Utility
24. Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 182cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
28. Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 195cm | 83kg | Key Position Utility
42. Ronin O’Connor (Claremont/Western Australia) | 192cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
48. Lachlan Gollant (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 191cm | 72kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
7. Ben Keays (Brisbane Lions)
21. Ben Crocker (Collingwood Magpies)

BRISBANE:

National Draft:
22. Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia) | 184cm | 81kg | Inside Midfielder
33. Brock Smith (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender
37. Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy) | 183cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
59. Jaxon Prior (West Perth/Western Australia) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender

Rookie Draft:
12. Sam Skinner (Brisbane Lions)
26. Corey Lyons (Brisbane Lions)
34. Archie Smith (Brisbane Lions)

CARLTON:

National Draft:
17. Brodie Kemp (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 192cm | 89kg | Tall Utility
20. Sam Philp (Northern Knights/Vic Metro) | 186cm | 79kg | Inside Midfielder
47. Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 180cm | 72kg | Balanced Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
3. Josh Honey (Western Jets/Vic Metro) | 185cm | 82kg | Midfielder/Forward
18. Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power/Vic Country | 187cm | 72kg | Medium Forward
PSD. Jack Martin (Gold Coast Suns)

COLLINGWOOD:

National Draft:
40. Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) | 185cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder
45. Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 73kg | Midfielder/Defender
55. Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle/Western Australia) 192cm | 75kg | Defender/Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Nil

ESSENDON:

National Draft:
30. Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
38. Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
56. Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
63. Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility

Rookie Draft:
10. Mitchell Hibberd (Williamstown) | 191cm | 90kg | Midfielder

FREMANTLE:

National Draft:
7. Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 188cm | 83kg | Medium Defender
8. Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 178cm | 83kg | Midfielder/Forward
9. Liam Henry (Perth/Western Australia) | 180cm | 68kg | Midfielder/Forward
61. Minairo Frederick (Woodville-West Torrens) | 183cm | 71kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
6. Jarvis Pina (Peel Thunder/Western Australia) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
20. Thomas North (Fremantle Dockers)
30. Hugh Dixon (Fremantle Dockers)
Cat-B. Isaiah Butters (Claremont/Western Australia) | 182cm | 69kg | Medium Forward
Cat-B. Leno Thomas (Claremont/Western Australia | 181cm | 74kg | Medium Defender

GEELONG:

National Draft:
16. Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) | 188cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
19. Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 201cm | 86kg | Key Position Utility
41. Francis Evans (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) 182cm | 78kg | Medium Forward
50. Cameron Taheny (Norwood/South Australia) 185cm | 80kg | Medium Forward

Rookie Draft:
14. Brad Close (Glenelg) | 180cm | 68kg | Midfielder/Forward
27. Oscar Brownless (Geelong Cats)
35. Lachlan Henderson (Geelong Cats)

GOLD COAST:

National Draft:
1. Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 180cm | 78kg | Inside Midfielder
2. Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 191cm | 87kg | Inside Midfielder
11. Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 183cm | 82kg | Midfielder/Forward
27. Jeremy Sharp (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 189cm | 81kg | Midfielder/Defender
60. Jy Farrar (Adelaide SANFL) | 191cm | 79kg | Tall Utility

Rookie Draft:
1. Josh Schoenfeld (Gold Coast Suns)
16. Connor Budarick (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)
29. Matt Conroy (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)
37. Malcolm Rosas Jnr (Northern Territory/Allies)

GWS GIANTS:

National Draft:
4. Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country) | 187cm | 83kg | Medium Defender
10. Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies) | 190cm | 89kg | Inside Midfielder
51. Jake Riccardi (Werribee) | 194cm | 96kg | Key Forward
65. Thomas Hutchesson (Adelaide SANFL) | 177cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
15. Jake Stein (GWS Giants)
28. Tom Sheridan (GWS Giants)
36. Zachary Sproule (GWS Giants)

HAWTHORN:

National Draft:
13. Will Day (West Adelaide/South Australia) | 189cm | 76kg | Medium Defender
29. Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 189cm | 82kg | Inside Midfielder
57. Josh Morris (Woodville-West Torrens) | 186cm | 76kg | Medium Forward

Rookie Draft:
9. Emerson Jeka (Western Jets/Vic Metro) | 198cm | 91kg | Key Position Utility
PSD. Michael Hartley (Essendon Bombers)
Cat-B. Harrison Pepper (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) 181cm | 84kg | Small Utility

MELBOURNE:

National Draft:
3. Luke Jackson (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 199cm | 94kg | Ruck
12. Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 171cm | 71kg | Small Forward
32. Trent Rivers (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 188cm | 83kg | Defender/Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Nil

NORTH MELBOURNE:

National Draft:
31. Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
34. Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
35. Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 188cm | 81kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Cat-B. Matt McGuinness (Tasmania/Allies) | 195cm | 77kg | Tall Utility

PORT ADELAIDE:

National Draft:
14. Miles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 189cm | 83kg | Medium Forward
18. Mitch Georgiades (Subiaco/Western Australia) | 192cm | 87kg | Tall Forward
23. Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 186cm | 81kg | Medium Forward
25. Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens) 183cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
8. Jake Pasini (Swan Districts/Western Australia) | 192cm | 81kg | Tall Defender
22. Trent Burgoyne (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 177cm | 67kg | Outside Midfielder
32 Boyd Woodcock (Port Adelaide)
38. Riley Grundy (Port Adelaide)

RICHMOND:

National Draft:
21. Thomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 184cm | 76kg | Inside Midfielder
43. Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies) | 183cm | 79kg | Medium Utility
44. Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies) | 185cm | 83kg | Utility
46. Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 188cm | 75kg | Forward/Midfielder
54. Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 195cm | 87kg | Key Position Utility

Rookie Draft:
Nil

ST KILDA:

National Draft:
52. Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 182cm | 84kg | Balanced Midfielder
64. Leo Connolly (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 181cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
5. Jack Bell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 81kg | Ruck/Key Forward

SYDNEY:

National Draft:
5. Dylan Stephens (Norwood/South Australia) | 183cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
26. Will Gould (Glenelg/South Australia) 192cm | 106kg | Tall Defender
36. Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia) | 188cm | 77kg | Medium Forward
39. Chad Warner (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
4. Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 186cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder
19. Jack Maibaum (Sydney Swans)

WEST COAST:

National Draft:
49. Callum Jamieson (Claremont/Western Australia) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck/Forward
58. Ben Johnson (West Perth/Western Australia) | 178cm | 68kg | Small Defender

Rookie Draft:
11. Anthony Treacy (Claremont/Western Australia) | 182cm | 69kg | Medium Forward
25. Mitch O’Neill (Tasmania/Allies) | 176cm | 72kg | Balanced Midfielder
33. Brendon Ah Chee (West Coast Eagles)
39. Hamish Brayshaw (West Coast Eagles)

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

National Draft:
15. Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 178cm | 75kg | Small Forward
53. Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) 185cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
62. Riley Garcia (Swan Districts/Western Australia) | 177cm | 70kg | Balanced Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Nil

2019 National AFL Draft: Round 1 selections

IF the first round of the 2019 National AFL Draft is anything to go by, then the remainder of the draft today will be full of surprises. A number of bolters made their way into the top 20, with Port Adelaide picking up Subiaco tall Mitch Georgiades with Pick 18 ahead of a number of other talls who had been touted highly, before Carlton picked up Sam Philp, an electrifying speedster from Northern Knights. Both were expected to land somewhere in the 20s but clubs pounced early.

Sydney pulled the first surprise of the night with Dylan Stephens heading to Sydney – a move that Draft Central‘s Ed Pascoe predicted – with the remainder of the top eight going as planned. Stephen Silvagni made sure he was going out with a bang on his final night in navy blue, bidding on Fremantle’s Liam Henry and GWS GIANTS’ Tom Green, before trading the pick to Gold Coast SUNS who selected Sam Flanders. Carlton received picks 17 and 22 in return, while Gold Coast also received Pick 62. With those picks, Carlton used it to snap up slider, Brodie Kemp who was overlooked by Geelong – a team expected to pick him up – with the Cats going a fellow Geelong-based midfielder in Cooper Stephens who missed most of the year through injury.

The small forwards fell as expected with Kysaiah Pickett, Miles Bergman and Cody Weightman all going inside the top 15 picks, while Sam De Koning won the race for the third key position player behind Luke Jackson and Fischer McAsey when he was picked up by Geelong. Carlton on-traded its pick 22 to gain Pick 20 from Port Adelaide and pick up Philp – whilst also handing the Power, Pick 55. This meant Port Adelaide resumes the draft today with the coveted first selection in the second round – a smart decision given the fact that a number of clubs such as Collingwood were on record to try and target the pick if a slider they were keen on was still on the board. Thomson Dow was the last player picked in the first round with Richmond picking him up leaving a number of talented players still up for offer in the second round.

West Australian captain Deven Robertson was perhaps the biggest slider, touted as high as Fremantle’s Pick 7 at one stage, then linked to Geelong and Gold Coast – the latter traded up therefore did not have the mid-teens selection – but still remains without a club entering night two. His West Australian teammate Trent Rivers was also suggested to be a possible first rounder, while the likes of talls Josh Worrell and Harrison Jones remain available, as does South Australian captain Will Gould, and Oakleigh Chargers’ premiership captain Trent Bianco.

In two other minor trades, GWS GIANTS received Picks 62 and 70 from Collingwood in order to bump the Magpies up two spots to Pick 60. It was a win-win for both clubs given Collingwood has admitted it plans to only use three picks and therefore moved on its third and fourth selection in order to raise its third pick, while the GIANTS gained vital draft points. Meanwhile, Fremantle had to give up a 2020 second rounder as well as Pick 66 to Port Adelaide in exchange for picks 52 and 55 in order to gain some late selections for additional players following the matching of Henry in the top 10.

PICK 1 – Gold Coast SUNSMatt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 180cm | 78kg | Inside Midfielder
PICK 2 – Gold Coast SUNSNoah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 191cm | 87kg | Inside Midfielder
PICK 3 – MelbourneLuke Jackson (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 199cm | 94kg | Ruck
PICK 4 – GWS GIANTSLachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country) | 187cm | 83kg | Medium Defender
PICK 5 – SydneyDylan Stephens (Norwood/South Australia) | 183cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
PICK 6 – AdelaideFischer McAsey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 197cm | 91kg | Key Position Utility
PICK 7 – FremantleHayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 188cm | 83kg | Medium Defender
PICK 8 – FremantleCaleb Serong (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 178cm | 83kg | Midfielder/Forward
PICK 9 – Fremantle (matched Carlton’s bid)Liam Henry (Perth/Western Australia) | 180cm | 68kg | Midfielder/Forward
PICK 10 – GWS GIANTS (matched Carlton’s bid)Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies) | 190cm | 89kg | Inside Midfielder
PICK 11 – Gold Coast SUNSSam Flanders (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 183cm | 82kg | Midfielder/Forward
PICK 12 – MelbourneKysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 171cm | 71kg | Small Forward
PICK 13 – HawthornWill Day (West Adelaide/South Australia) | 189cm | 76kg | Medium Defender
PICK 14 – Port AdelaideMiles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 189cm | 83kg | Medium Forward
PICK 15 – Western BulldogsCody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 178cm | 75kg | Small Forward
PICK 16 – GeelongCooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country) | 188cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
PICK 17 – CarltonBrodie Kemp (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 192cm | 89kg | Tall Utility
PICK 18 – Port AdelaideMitch Georgiades (Subiaco/Western Australia) | 192cm | 87kg | Tall Forward
PICK 19 – GeelongSam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 201cm | 86kg | Key Position Utility
PICK 20 – CarltonSam Philp (Northern Knights/Vic Metro) | 186cm | 79kg | Inside Midfielder
PICK 21 – RichmondThomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 184cm | 76kg | Inside Midfielder