Tag: cup

Alex Takle’s Phantom Draft


1. Brisbane Lions – Peter Wright (Calder Cannons)
Height: 203 cm
Weight: 103 kg
Player comparison: Matthew Kreuzer

Peter Wright is a huge young man who is a genuinely good footballer. He may not have the explosiveness and ability to rip a game apart like Tom Boyd last year, but he is a strong marking forward and a very capable ruckman. Wright is not extremely fast but he has strong hands and is good on the lead, especially for his size, and possesses a good work rate to make multiple leads. His reach makes it very difficult for defenders to get hands on the ball and he takes his marks out in front. His goalkicking is very good and he kicks more than he misses, due to an uncomplicated action and a good follow through. He has played well as a ruckman, although he is more of a competitor rather than a guy who you could put in the ruck and expect to jump all over the opposition. His follow up on his taps is great for a big guy and he is usually lurking to put on a block or get a quick kick away. He is a good fit for the Lions here as he provides the extra flexibility McCartin doesn’t.

2. St Kilda – Patrick McCartin (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Player comparison: Taylor Walker

McCartin is possibly the best pure forward in the draft and the Saints would be pleased to add him as a long-term replacement for Nick Riewoldt. His marking is his best asset and he clunks marks on the lead, in the air and with defenders hanging off him. He shields his opponent from the drop of the ball and takes it with his arms outstretched. His goalkicking has improved from last year, where it was very hit and miss. He appears to have more confidence when kicking for goal now and is kicking through it which is delivering better results, although I’m still not completely confident in him slotting it every time. He doesn’t need a lot of opportunities to impact a game, but in saying that, his work rate needs to improve so he can get involved more often. McCartin is a diabetic and needs to come off to check his blood sugar but it hasn’t held him back, which shows how driven he is.

3. Greater Western Sydney – Christian Petracca (Eastern Ranges)
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 92 kg
Player comparison: Dustin Martin

Petracca is a highly intriguing footballer who has worked extremely hard to get where he is today. Last year, he was a dominant forward: a man-child who monstered his opponents through sheer size and strength, despite being severely undersized for a key forward. His game was effective at junior level but there were concerns over how it would translate to the AFL, with recruiters wanting to see him play in the midfield. Petracca worked hard over summer to drop weight and the results have been enormous. He has been arguably the best player in the Championships, running through the midfield, racking up possessions and winning clearances with ease. His agility is top class and he is very explosive which allows him to pick up the ball and get out of a sticky situation in a couple of quick steps, before delivering the ball forward. His kicking is accurate but not excellent. He hits targets but it isn’t speared in: instead, it tends to be kicked to an area of advantage for his teammate. His defensive game will need work, as will his running patterns as he is still new to the midfield, but there is plenty to work with.

4. Melbourne – Sam Durdin (West Adelaide)
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 87 kg
Player comparison: Lachie Henderson

Durdin came into this year with an injury and only returned to football at the beginning of the Champs, but he is beginning to show why he is so highly rated. His marking ability and versatility are his main strengths and his exposure to senior football for West Adelaide has only helped his development. He can take a great grab, as he reads the ball well in the air and hits the ball at pace, taking it at its highest point. He can play at both ends of the ground, as well as in the ruck, although I prefer him as a defender who can swing forward. His kicking is good for a big guy and he provides plenty of drive off half back, cutting off the ball with his excellent marking and moving it on accurately. His athleticism is excellent, which was highlighted in the Champs game against Vic Country where he beat his opponent to a bouncing ball on the wing and outran him, tapping it forward to keep it inside the field of play and then looping a handball over an opponent to set up a goal. This athleticism and x-factor, combined with his marking and skills, makes him a very good prospect, particularly when he puts on some weight.

5. Western Bulldogs – Caleb Marchbank (Murray Bushrangers)
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player comparison: Brian Lake

After a wretched run with injuries, Caleb Marchbank has exploded onto the scene in 2014 with his form in the Champs and for the Bushrangers propelling him into top ten contention. His marking is his biggest strength, as he reads it so well and he has a good leap. He loves to leave his man and impact other contests, and isn’t afraid to take risks with the ball in hand. While the likes of Durdin and Goddard are versatile, athletic talls, Marchbank is more of a defender than athlete. He still has the versatility to go forward and chip in with a goal but his ability to shut down an opponent is very good.

6. Carlton – Angus Brayshaw (Sandringham Dragons)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Player comparison: Travis Boak

Brayshaw is an excellent mix of inside and outside who has a really strong build and a tenacity on the ball which makes him stand out. He played exceptionally well for the AIS/AFL Academy team against Collingwood reserves, where his hardness and second and third efforts caught the eye. He doesn’t give up if he doesn’t get the ball: he fights for it and dives on it again or chases hard to give himself the best chance of winning the ball back. His tackling is fantastic as he runs really hard and barrels them, taking them to the ground. Despite this, he probably projects as more of an outside prospect because he doesn’t win a heap of his own ball and is not an excellent extractor, but he has good skills particularly by foot, so he is quite damaging on the outside.

7. Richmond – Connor Blakely (Swan Districts)
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player comparison: Blake Acres

Blakely is a rangy inside midfielder, with a number of athletic attributes which make him stand out. He has fantastic agility which allows him to dance around footballers and helps him get the ball out, even when under pressure. He gets his hands free and fires it out to his runners.  Compared to other inside midfielders, Blakely is pretty good by foot and off both sides. He doesn’t really bomb it long out of packs, instead choosing to give it off by hand or burst out using his lateral movement and acceleration before spotting up a short target. He is a good tackler and a good clearance player who has been Western Australia’s best throughout the Champs. He has had exposure to senior WAFL football for Swan Districts where he has held his own, averaging 17 disposals and two tackles a game. He is a taller midfielder and is quite skinny yet still finds a way to have an impact as an inside mid, so when he adds some bulk to his frame, he will be a very good player.

8. West Coast – Jayden Laverde (Western Jets)
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player comparison: Steve Johnson

Laverde oozes x-factor. He is tall, pacey and good with the ball in hand. He loves to take the game on and run, creating chances for his team off half back. He attacks the ball hard and hits it at pace, and combined with his fast moving sidestep, he is very hard to tackle. He has a booming right boot on him and he can really pierce open defences with it when given time. He has a big enough body to be able to go into the midfield and win clearances or act as a receiver. He can also play as a forward as he did against South Australia in the final Champs game. He is a good mark overhead but he can also use his pace to work his opponent up the ground and turn him around, and there are few defenders who will catch him when given a metre or two head start. A downfall in his game is he sometimes tries to do too much with the ball and doesn’t give the first option which causes trouble, especially given the vulnerability when running off half back as it leaves his team prone to turnovers.

9. North Melbourne – Jarrod Pickett (South Fremantle)
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 68 cm
Player comparison: Lewis Jetta

Pickett is an excitement machine who loves to run and carry. He is really damaging when he gets it on the outside because he is lightning quick and has the composure to be able to hit a target at pace, a skill few players have. He doesn’t win a lot of the ball – mainly because he is an outside user and doesn’t really win his own ball – but he is still an asset because he makes things happen. He is good by hand and releases players to run by. He draws players towards him when he runs and knows when to give it, rather than biting off too much. He is a goalkicker and loves to run forward. He is more suited to crumbing but has a good leap so he can fly, as he showed in the Champs game against Vic Metro when he flew from three back to pull down a great mark. I’d like to see him improve his consistency and play some senior football this year to put his name up there as a top selection.

10. Adelaide – Hugh Goddard (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 196 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Player comparison: Sam Day

Goddard is a jack of all trades but a master of none. He is so versatile in that he can play at both ends of the ground but he hasn’t torn a game apart at either end. He is a good forward, where he can use his athleticism and work rate to run his opponent around with multiple leads and is very good below his knees for his size. However, he isn’t a fantastic mark and doesn’t have the big physical presence most key forwards have so he is more of a second target. His field kicking is solid but unspectacular, and can be shaky at times when he pokes at the ball. His second and third efforts are excellent and he does all of the little things well like blocks, smothers and even dancing around when manning the mark. I prefer him as a defender because he is big bodied and strong enough to hold his own in a wrestle, but also quick and athletic enough to go with a quicker forward on the lead. He has done the job on some good forwards over his junior career and I think this is where his strengths can be best utilised.

11. Gold Coast – Paul Ahern (Calder Cannons)
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 77 cm
Player comparison: Harley Bennell

Ahern is a speedy outside midfielder who does a lot of damage across half forward. He is a real goalkicking midfielder who has a sense for the goals. He usually kicks at least a goal a game for Calder, and his three goal performance for Vic Metro against Western Australia highlighted what he can do. He is fast enough to get away from congestion, as well as being a good kick and strong decision maker. He doesn’t win much of his own ball and he doesn’t tackle, but this is not because he doesn’t chase or defend: rather, it is more because of his size and the way he gets buffeted off the ball in contested situations. He is well suited to a role across half forward where he can use his pace and skills to create, but he is also capable of having stints in the midfield.

12. Collingwood – Darcy Moore (Oakleigh Chargers)
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Player comparison: Drew Petrie

Collingwood supporters will tell you they are getting a steal here with their father-son pick, but I feel this is about right: Moore should go around this mark, behind the likes of Wright, McCartin, Durdin, Marchbank and Goddard. He is versatile enough to play at both ends but I prefer him as a forward. He reads the ball well in the air and takes it out in his hands each time. He is athletic and smart on the lead, and never runs underneath the ball. His second efforts when the ball hits the ground could improve and so could his competitiveness and consistency, but there is a lot to work with here. Moore will make a good second option for Collingwood behind Travis Cloke in a few years when his body matures.

13. Geelong – Lachie Weller (Broadbeach)
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 71 cm
Player comparison: Steele Sidebottom

Weller is the brother of St Kilda’s Maverick but he plays completely differently. He lacks the hardness of his brother but he is much more classy and skilled. He is good off both sides of the body and his hands are good, particularly at releasing runners. He is more outside than inside because of his light frame but he can win his own ball at times: however, he is simply better suited to the outside where he can use his long, accurate kicking.  He is unlikely to be found at the bottom of the pack, but he is still a good clearance player, using his smarts to position himself where he will be able to get the ball and slamming it forward to a teammate. He often looks like he is under pressure but he is a smart player with good vision, as well as being a step ahead, so his kicks usually go to a teammate and making few clangers. Weller will continue to develop as he grows and becomes bigger bodied, allowing him to win more of his own ball.

14. Gold Coast – Jordan De Goey (Oakleigh Chargers)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player comparison: Tom Rockliff

De Goey is primarily a big bodied inside midfielder, however I also like him roaming across half forward. He is very clean by hand, picks it up with one grab and is hard to move off the ball which makes him a solid inside mid. He is quick off the mark and hits the ball really hard, and he is really aggressive at the stoppages. I like him as a half forward because he is athletic and has a good work rate, which allows him to play that high half forward role really well. He can take a good grab for his size and is a one grab player. His kicking is good, and he puts it to a spot where it will be to the advantage of his teammate rather than trying to pinpoint a pass. He has a good set shot technique and really kicks through it and he has the ability to kick goals from anywhere in the forward half, including outside the arc. His work rate is super and he works really hard up and down the ground, as shown in the Champs game against South Australia where he pushed hard up the ground to start and finish a slingshot scoring chain.

15. Port Adelaide – Liam Duggan (Western Jets)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 76 kg
Player comparison: Matt Suckling

Duggan is a superb ball user with a lethal left foot. He roams around the half back line as the designated kicker, and for good reason because he can kick penetrating 50 metre passes off his left boot. Off his right side he is awkward – like any left footer – but his left is so good and when he gets time and space he is very dangerous. His actual defensive work is not fantastic and at times his pressure and tackling can be a little below par, and one on one he is a little vulnerable, but his attacking attributes make up for it. Duggan loves a give and go, and is usually seen lurking on the outside calling for the handball because he can do damage with the ball in hand. He has shown an ability to go forward and kick goals too, as seen against Northern Knights when he kicked three last quarter goals to win the match for the Jets.

16. Fremantle – Tyler Keitel (East Perth)
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Player Comparison: Jarryd Roughead

Keitel, a former javelin thrower, is big, strong and explosive and can play at both ends. He is primarily a forward, where he can use his marking to advantage. He is good on the lead and his follow up efforts are pretty good for a big man too, as he has good skills below his knees for such a big guy. He keeps the ball in front of himself so he can feed it to runners. He has a nice set shot routine and I can’t see too much reason why he can’t kick 30 goals a year at AFL level. He is also a good defender, reading the flight of the ball well and taking big grabs in front of the forwards.

17. Sydney – Isaac Heeney (Cardiff)
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Dayne Beams

Heeney is a competitive beast and one of the best midfielders in the draft, making him a steal for Sydney. He is strong and hard at the ball, and can win it himself. But he can also use his big tank to accumulate possessions on the outside. He has good vision and composure inside the contest and doesn’t make too many mistakes as a result, because he always seems to be a step ahead and his ability to kick off both feet should be noted as he can go both ways when breaking clear and still hit a target. When Heeney wins a hard ball, he bursts out of the contest and gets an easy possession with no pressure. He has the ability to go forward and can take a nice grab thanks to his leap but he is a midfielder first and foremost.

18. Hawthorn – Peter Bampton (Norwood)
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Player Comparison: Brad Crouch

When you are playing SANFL footy and being amongst your team’s best players at the age of 17 you are bound to have a good career. Bampton is an inside extractor who is the most AFL-ready prospect in the draft this year. He regularly racks up 20 or more possessions for Norwood and a number of them are won in contested situations. He is good below his knees and can pick up the ball and fire out a handball in one smooth motion. He has great endurance and it allows him to work hard over the ground and keep getting to contests. Injury stopped him from playing in the Championships but teams will know what he can do as he has runs on the board. The only problem he has is that he has no other strings to his bow. Other than being a very solid inside midfielder he doesn’t have anywhere else he can play, and has limited improvement left in him. Despite being nearly at his ceiling he is a ready to go player who would be among the rising star favourites for next year if he gets an opportunity.

19. Essendon – Jake Lever (Calder Cannons)
Height: 192 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Troy Chaplin

Lever was talked about as a top three selection coming into this year before an ACL injury caused him to miss this season. But Lever has taken it in his stride, with his work ethic being up there with the best on the AIS Academy tour to Europe. He is a key defender who reads the play really well and takes a number of intercept marks. He loves to run and carry and link up as his team rebounds off half back and he is a composed ball user, especially for a big guy. He is probably best suited as a third tall defender where he can leave his man and ghost across into the dangerous areas and cut off forward thrusts.

20. Brisbane Lions – Matthew Hammelmann (Morningside)
Height: 198 cm
Weight: 88 kg
Player Comparison: Josh Jenkins

Hammelmann is a big, tall key forward who can go through the ruck and do a serviceable job in there. He is really strong on the lead, and hits the ball at top pace and takes it as far out in the hands as possible which makes it extremely hard to defend him on the lead. He needs to take advantage of his opportunities on goal as he seems to get a few opportunities a game but only kicks one or two goals. He is still skinny and not really a big physical presence but as he fills out he has a lot of potential to be a handy second forward.

21. St Kilda – Alex Neal-Bullen (Glenelg)
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 87 kg
Player Comparison: Luke Parker

Neal-Bullen is a really nice inside midfield prospect who has been playing senior football at Glenelg this year. He has a good turn of pace which helps him to accelerate away from the pack and he uses his hands well to get it out to his runners. He seems to have a knack for getting first hands on the ball at contests and sending kicks forward, although they often tend to be tumbling kicks that bounce end on end and are difficult to mark but that is because he is under so much pressure when he gets it. When he has time to use it he is a nice kick, although he generally takes low risk options. Rather than taking risks by pulling the trigger up the middle of the ground, he feeds it laterally to those with the skills to do so. He is a bit of a rough gem who has a lot of potential if he can clean up his work around the stoppages.

22. Greater Western Sydney – Harrison Wigg (North Adelaide)
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Player Comparison: Matt Suckling

Wigg is one of the better ball users in the draft. He has burst onto the scene during the Champs, as his play off half back has really been a big part of South Australia’s success. He took most of the kick ins and was involved in many coast to coast scores as he sent 55-metre bullets down the field. He only needs to have ten touches to make a real impact and cut a team open, as his kicking releases his team of pressure and piles it on to the opposition.

23. Melbourne – Ed Vickers-Willis (Sandringham Dragons)
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Andrew Mackie

Vickers-Willis is a player who can play as a defender or midfielder and do a job, whilst still accumulating possessions. He is the type of player you don’t really seem to notice but he is quietly setting up across half back, chipping the ball around or giving quickfire handballs out. His kicking action is a little ugly and can be inconsistent but he doesn’t try to do too much with the ball so he gets away with it. He seems to lack a bit of composure and misses targets he shouldn’t when under small amounts of pressure but his defensive attributes make up for this. He is a willing tackler, who will throw himself at the ball carrier and at the very least, slow them down. He is quick over the first few steps which allows him to stay close to forwards on the lead and when he spoils he really thumps it clear. He can lose his man at times in one on ones and looks a little shaky when one out in the square. Overall, Vickers-Willis is a solid medium defender who can also play on smalls.

24. Western Bulldogs – Corey Ellis (Western Jets)
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 76 kg
Player Comparison: Jared Polec

Ellis is a great ball user with a raking left foot capable of piercing defences. He is a smart ball user and puts it to the advantage of his teammates, generally allowing them to run into the path of the ball and putting it where he wants them to run. He is light bodied and not really a major contested ball winner but he is still an effective clearance player as he is a guy who teammates like to give the ball to because of his disposal. He is a good tackler and chases hard, not letting them get out of the pack easily. There is a lot of improvement ahead for Ellis and he has a number of very draftable attributes.

25. Carlton – Sam Bevan (Claremont)
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Jesse White

Bevan is a light-bodied key forward but he does some really nice things that make you think there is something to work with. He can mark well on the lead, as he gets separation from his opponent and bursts away, however he is rather poor in the air for a big man and doesn’t take many big contested grabs or have much of a physical presence. He is a good kick for goal and despite not getting many chances, he usually ends up with one or two goals a game.

26. Richmond – Aidan Anderson (Swan Districts)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Steven Motlop

Anderson is a small forward who has a great goal sense. He has been playing senior football this year for Swan Districts and averages a goal a game in senior company. He plays taller than he is and can take some good contested marks but his follow up when the ball hits the ground is excellent. He is quick and clean below his knees and a good kick for goal on the run, whether it be a snap or running directly at goal.

27. West Coast – Alec Waterman (Claremont)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 87 kg
Player Comparison: Dom Sheed

Waterman is a father-son selection who is probably a late first round talent but the Eagles are likely to get him in the second round thanks to their finishing position. He is a hard at it midfielder with clean hands and a good ability to win the ball on the inside. He is more of an accumulator than a dominant ball winner, and he can get a lot of ball without you realising it. He is a little slow but his clearance work makes up for it. He gets it out of the contest by hand and then follows up and runs to the next contest. He is a little one paced but his endurance and work rate are very good allowing him to keep working to contests.

28. North Melbourne – Dean Gore (Sturt)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Player Comparison: Luke Dunstan

South Australia usually seem to have one dominant, big bodied inside midfielder and this year that man is Dean Gore. He has been playing senior footy all year and has held his own, being possibly the best performed out of all of the juniors playing league football this year. He is a clearance machine who is continually sending the ball forward. He really clears the danger when he kicks it, booting it long down the line, but rarely takes the time to look for a better option which can cause problems. When he gives it off by hand he is really creative and chooses good options, also working hard to block and protect his man after he gives them the ball. He is big bodied and strong through the core and legs so he is rarely knocked off the ball and it helps him to be one of the best clearance players in the draft.

29. Adelaide – Daniel Capiron (Dandenong Stingrays)
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Heath Shaw

Capiron is a classy defender who is good in the air, can blanket an opponent but also provide plenty of drive off half back. He is a good decision maker and a good kick, although a lot of his kicks across the backline are safe, short passes and switches. He doesn’t often pull the trigger and try to take risks but it is not really necessary in his role as a defender. His defensive work is good and he has the ability to play on both talls and smalls due to his size and athleticism.

30. Gold Coast – Henry Carey (Sturt)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Luke Breust

Carey is an athletic medium forward with a fantastic leap. He is light bodied but he doesn’t let that stop him and when he can get a jump at the ball he is hard to beat. Even at his size, he can take contested marks, as seen in the Champs game against Vic Metro where he marked over the top of three Vic Metro defenders.  He is smart and works hard, making multiple leads and working his opponent over until he can find space. His set shot is okay but can be a little hit and miss, as he moves the ball around a lot in his run up which creates more margin for error. Carey has been playing some reserves footy lately and has been finding more of the ball, especially around the 50 where he can spot up targets or go himself. He has a lot of potential as a small to medium forward with a lot of improvement left in him and has a really high upside.

31. Collingwood – Billy Evans (Bendigo Pioneers)
Height: 189 cm
Weight: 87 kg
Player Comparison: Mitch Wallis

Evans is a hard as nails inside midfielder who has starred for Bendigo this year. He wins a lot of the ball, averaging 23 disposals for Bendigo and a large number of them are won in contests. He is big bodied which helps him dominate in clearance situations and his tackling is strong, as he picks up 3-4 each game. He is a goalkicking midfielder which teams love and works hard both ways. He has shown a lot of improvement this year after looking a long way off it last season and has a lot more improvement to come.

32. Geelong – Touk Miller (Calder Cannons)
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Dion Prestia

Miller is small put he is an effective ball winner and a good user of it, especially by foot. He has a raking boot that allows him to kick it 55 metres to a teammate and he is very dangerous when hovering around the 50 as he is a threat from almost everywhere. He puts it to his teammates advantage most times but he can over-kick the ball. He will win a hard ball and burst his way out of the pack and then follow up on it and try to get it again. He is just such a hard worker and has worked hard to make sure his lack of size doesn’t affect him as a footballer. He shows leadership potential, as he was named captain of Vic Metro for the Champs. Miller is quite fast too, and puts a lot of pressure on the ball carrier and tackles hard when he catches them. He has the potential to be a good role player at AFL level.

33. Port Adelaide – Jarrod Garlett (South Fremantle)
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 67 kg
Player Comparison: Lewis Jetta

Garlett is incredibly quick and a real line breaker who seems to do something exciting every time he gets it. He is really clean by hand and gets his hands up to avoid being trapped. He has good lateral movement and gets himself out of trouble easily before turning on the speed and bursting away. He has the ability to pick the ball up off the ground at top pace and keep going at top speed and can dance around players while running at close to top speed. His kicking is fair but he tends to over-kick the ball a lot, possibly the result of trying to kick at top pace. He can kick off both feet equally well. If he can clean up his kicking he can be a really good player, as he is essentially a more consistent version of Pickett but a poorer ball user.

34. Fremantle – Clem Smith (West Perth)
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 67 kg
Player Comparison: Mitch Robinson (more defensive)

The negatives are often talked about more than the positives with Smith but I feel that is unfair on the kid. He may not be a good kick, rather he is a very poor kick, and he may be small but he is extremely quick and hard at the ball which is a lethal combination. He is exceptionally quick and this helps him chase down opponents and he averages a high number of pressure acts each game, because even though he may not catch his opponents he causes them to kick hurriedly. He loves to lay a crunching tackle or a big block and his teammates feed off that stuff. If he can learn how to kick he will be a very good defender, but due to his pressure and attack on the ball you can carry him in your team without the elite kicking skills many defenders possess.

35. Sydney – Jack Hayes (Woodville-West Torrens)
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Jake Carlisle

Hayes is versatile enough to play at both ends and has played through the ruck at junior level and shown an ability to win a lot of the ball. He projects best as a defender, where he can use his closing speed and spoil. He doesn’t give his man an inch and is seemingly always there with a fist. He is brave enough to leave his man and kill the ball in dangerous contests, a trait that the good defenders have. He doesn’t seem to back himself much to mark the ball and prefers to punch but it could be a confidence thing as he had been playing up forward and in the ruck before the Champs and he is generally a good mark when playing up forward. He can play up forward where he uses his work rate to work around centre half forward and accumulate the ball, whilst bobbing up for a couple of goals but he is an in-between size at AFL level.  I’m interested to see where he plays when he goes back to the Eagles and I’d like to see if he makes the transition from reserves to senior SANFL footy.

36. Hawthorn – Jordan Cunico (Gippsland Power)
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 72 kg
Player Comparison: Mark LeCras

Cunico is a pacy outside player who has a real turn of speed and loves to use it. He is very dangerous when left alone because he can break the lines with his pace and use his excellent kicking to set up forward thrusts. He is light bodied and can be pushed off the ball but when out on the wing or flanks with more space and time he is very damaging. He likes to float around the forward line where he can really set up attacks and can impact the scoreboard.

37. Brisbane Lions – Liam Dawson (Aspley)
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Player Comparison: James Kelly

Dawson burst onto the scene last year as a defender for Queensland, with his form earning him plaudits and an AIS Academy invitation. He is a good user of the ball and can accumulate possessions through the midfield with ease. He can make some mistakes with the ball and put his teammates under pressure by being slow to make decisions but he is still learning to play in the middle at a higher level and he is generally a good decision maker when coming off half back. Injury ruined his chances of showing what he can do on the big stage of the Champs but it should allow the Lions to take him with a later pick. Whatever happens, it is hard to see the Lions passing on him.

38. St Kilda – Dylan Winton (Peel Thunder)
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Player Comparison: Lynden Dunn

Winton is an intriguing prospect as he has been playing as an undersized centre half back with average disposal but an ability to read the play well and cut it off in dangerous spots. However he is unlikely to play there at AFL level due to being a little short, but he is still a good medium sized defender. He is a poor kick and despite being able to play through the midfield and find the ball, I don’t like him there because his disposal is too hit and miss. He is rather slow and one paced, but is smart and knows where to go to get the ball and doesn’t let his lack of athleticism limit him.

39. Greater Western Sydney – Sean McLaren (Sandringham Dragons)
Height: 197 cm
Weight: 92 kg
Player Comparison: Jackson Trengove

McLaren is a versatile tall who can play through the ruck and at both ends of the ground. I like McLaren as a tall defender, who can hold down a key defensive post but can pinch hit in the ruck, like Port’s Jackson Trengove. While his defensive game is still developing, he has shown great promise here, using his long arms to reach in and spoil and reads the ball well in the air to take intercept marks. He doesn’t provide much when his team is attacking but as a defender you are more concerned with your players beating their man first, which is what McLaren does. He is quite a capable ruckman, and his taps are generally to advantage and he follows up well. He is a player for the future and one that can be developed a number of ways.

40. Melbourne – Billy Stretch (Glenelg)
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 71 kg
Player Comparison: Xavier Ellis

Stretch has copped a lot of attention this year and has found a lot of criticism coming his way which has been very harsh on a kid who has some great assets. He is a skinny kid who floats across half forward or on the wing and loves to get the ball in his hands and run. His kicking lacks polish but is not as bad as has been reported early in the Champs. He is a good linkman across the forward half, but I don’t see him as a real game changer. Stretch isn’t likely to be in and under, winning his own ball but he knows his limitations and positions himself in spots where he can be dangerous and help his side. He often sits 30 metres away from the play, sweeping up loose kicks and pumping it back into dangerous spots. His exposure to senior football at Glenelg can only help him. Demons fans have put a lot of pressure on Stretch to be a great player, and wanted to get a steal through the father-son system but Stretch is just a good solid second round prospect with one or two attributes that make him a good player – his speed and decision making, but not a whole lot else.

41. Western Bulldogs – Zaine Cordy (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 192 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Andy Otten

Cordy has shown some real improvement this year for Geelong Falcons to the point where he is being talked about as a main draft father-son selection to the Bulldogs, when at one point it looked like they could pick him up in the rookie draft. Last year he was playing as a third tall, mopping up around the contests but not taking the best opposition forwards, despite his size but this year he has stood next to some quality players but come off better. He is athletic and moves well for a big guy, and is clean below his knees. He has a powerful kick and is a strong mark and has a lot of attributes which could lead to him being a solid AFL defender if he can continue developing and put it all together.

42. Carlton – Kyle Langford (Northern Knights)
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Nat Fyfe

Langford is a versatile tall who can play at both ends. He plays as a forward for Northern Knights, where he can showcase his elite marking. Despite being a skinny kid, he is one of the best marks in the TAC Cup and rarely drops one. He protects the drop of the ball and hits it hard, not giving his opponent much chance. He has a good set shot technique and generally takes advantage of his opportunities. He wins a lot of ball working up the ground, and is often found floating up around the wings. He played as a defender for the majority of the Champs where he did jobs on a number of quality forwards. He is a little slow to make decisions, and can put himself under pressure leading to turnovers. His disposal is average and he doesn’t have any real weapons. His versatility makes him a good prospect and I see him as a third tall forward who may end up in the midfield as a tall midfielder with great marking ability in a couple of years.

43. Richmond – Brad Walsh (Peel Thunder)
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player Comparison: Sam Mitchell

Walsh is a tough inside midfielder with great leadership qualities. The captain of the AIS Academy team leads by example and was the MVP for Western Australia in the Champs. He reads the ball really well off the hands of the ruckman and moves it on quickly. He is a good tackler and a really good clearance player. He has a good sidestep and can burst out of the pack to deliver the ball but doesn’t take the game on much. He accumulates the ball and can rack up big numbers at under 18 level and averaged 16 disposals in his three senior games last year. He is similar to Bampton in that he doesn’t have a lot of improvement left in him but he is a solid, AFL ready player.

44. Essendon – Abaina Davis (UNSW-Easts)
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 90 kg
Player Comparison: Jack Riewoldt

Davis is zoned to Sydney through their academy but given their depth in the key forward position I’m tipping he will go to the highest bidder and he should garner plenty of interest. He does some really exciting things, and has a knack of making something out of nothing. He is athletic and fast for his size and uses his attributes to work his opponent around in the absence of a real marking game. He can jump and takes the ball at his highest point but at times can misjudge them in the air and I’d like him to clunk them a little more often. I feel that he can be a little selfish but that can be a good trait in a forward.

45. West Coast – Dan Howe (Murray Bushrangers)
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Andrew Mackie

Howe is a 19-year-old skilled, running defender who is good off both sides and does some really exciting things. He is not afraid of getting hurt and his attack on the ball is fantastic, going back with the flight or flying into packs trying to outmark forwards. He backs himself to mark the ball rather than spoiling which is a good quality to have in a defender. By foot he is rather safe and takes the low risk options usually. He takes a lot of intercept marks because he reads the ball well in the air but then he goes back quickly and hits a short pass or a switch rather than pulling the trigger and going back up the line. He is a composed defender who has played up the ground as a forward and also in the midfield where he played a key role in the Bushrangers’ win over Sandringham. Howe can step in and play a role and will not disappoint fans, but probably won’t develop into a number one defender to man the big forwards.

46. North Melbourne – Tom Lamb (Dandenong Stingrays)
Height: 192 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Player Comparison: Marco Paparone (less disciplined)

Lamb is an interesting prospect because he is not quite tall enough to play as a tall forward but he plays as a quasi-tall who roams around on the wings, in a role similar to Matthew Richardson late in his career. He is extremely athletic and his agility is up there with the best. He does some things that make you get excited, like a one handed pick up and take off with the ball before delivering a pinpoint pass, but it seems as though he is more interested in doing the flashy things like this than doing the one percenters and the “boring” things on the field. He is quite inconsistent and not a huge possession winner or great ball user, especially considering the position he plays. He is very fiery and is noted to have a bad temper, and was kicked out of a prestigious Melbourne school. His marking is not good enough for him to play as a key forward at that size and he may not be able to make an impact in this sort of role at AFL level but he is picked on natural talent and potential.

47. Adelaide – Jake Johansen (Port Adelaide)
Height: 171 cm
Weight: 63 kg
Player Comparison: Brent Harvey

Johansen is a tiny midfield dynamo who has been playing senior football at Port Adelaide in the last two seasons. Whilst he plays as a midfielder for South Australia, he plays as a small forward, roaming around forward 50 and using his pace and skill to set up teammates. He is a smart player who knows where to run to get the ball and has good acceleration to get away from the contest. He is not a particularly penetrating kick and you don’t notice his kicking as being either good or bad, it just gets from point A to point B. He is clever around the contest and when he can’t pick it up one grab he will knock it on to his advantage and back himself to beat his opponent to it with his speed. He is small but strong and doesn’t get knocked off the ball as much as you would think due to his strong core and low centre of gravity. Despite being small he is a big time accumulator due to his workrate and can play a role as a small forward or high half forward working up the ground at AFL level, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him passed over due to his size.

48. Gold Coast – Jackson Nelson (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Jasper Pittard

Nelson is a skinny outside ball user who roams around the backline or on the wing. He is quite fast and has good agility and a nice sidestep which helps him to get out of sticky situations. He is clean with the ball in hand and makes good decisions. He is beginning to win more of his own ball and his tackling is good as he is very tenacious and he picks up a few tackles a game. He has been beginning to run into some really good form after a slow start to the season so a shoulder injury suffered in the final game of the Champs will put a dent in his draft hopes but I feel that he has enough attributes to get picked up.

49. Collingwood – Lukas Webb (Gippsland Power)
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Patrick Karnezis

Webb is a midfielder/forward who is good in the air and is good around the stoppages. He reads the ball really well in the air as a forward and protects the drop of the ball well. He is a good set shot for goal and is a good contributor to the Gippsland forward line. He is not a massive ball winner but he is good in traffic and has good composure. He is a good decision maker and loves to take the game on and keep it going forward. He has a lot of development to go but could be a handy midfielder and I’d like to see him continue his Champs form for Gippsland.

50. Geelong – Daniel Butler (North Ballarat Rebels)
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player Comparison: Jarryd Blair

Butler is a small, elusive forward who applies lots of defensive pressure and hates to let the ball out. He is a good ball user and has good weighting to his kicks. He is quick and likes to take the game on before delivering the ball. Despite being small he can find the ball and win his own footy but he is better on the outside with his speed and acceleration. He needs to hit the scoreboard a little more but he is certainly draftable with a later pick due to his work ethic and pressure.

51. Port Adelaide – Jack Cripps (East Fremantle)
Height: 196 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Player Comparison: Rhys Stanley

Cripps is a big, athletic tall forward who can take turns through the ruck. He is a good mover and works really hard, covering more ground than most guys his size. He can take a good grab and has a good vertical leap. He plays in bursts at the moment but he has a lot of potential if he can put a few passages of play together and find more of the footy. He is an effective tap ruckman but more of a forward than ruckman.

52. Fremantle – Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (Western Jets)
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Shannon Hurn

After Harrison Wigg, Viojo-Rainbow is probably the best kick in the draft. He has an excellent left boot which can send the ball to its target almost immediately. He kicks it low and flat and gives defenders little chance. Struggles a little defensively and seems to have trouble reading the play and predicting where his opponent is going to move to so I see him as more of a wingman who can use the ball effectively and be a real creative weapon.

53. Sydney – Teia Miles (Geelong Falcons)
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 68 kg
Player Comparison: Luke Ball

Miles is a half back who plays with no frills. He doesn’t care for the fancy stuff and he just attacks the ball really hard. He is a solid clearance player in the midfield for Geelong, throwing himself at the ball and getting in and under. His kicking needs work as it is neither long nor penetrating but he knows his limitations. He is a smart player who does the little things well and leaves the flashy stuff to others.

54. Hawthorn – Caleb Daniel (South Adelaide)
Height: 167 cm
Weight: 66 kg
Player Comparison: Trent Cotchin (smaller)

Daniel is tiny but he is so elusive and poised. He never gets tackled and dances in and out of contests with ease, shrugging off opponents and assessing his options before hitting low bullets to his teammate. He has terrific goal sense and kicks goals from anywhere, as seen in the Champs where he picked the ball up in a pack and kicked the ball over his head while facing the wrong way, resulting in a goal. He has a long penetrating kick but often chooses the short options which release his running teammates. Despite his size he is a fantastic player and I feel he deserves a chance, although if he isn’t picked up he will be one of the band of players deemed ‘too small for AFL’ that dominate at state level.

TAC Cup review: Round 2

The second round of the TAC Cup saw the Country teams face off in their first encounters for the year whilst the Metro teams met on the Sunday to renew hostilities from last week. Bendigo Pioneers kicked off the round to defeat North Ballarat Rebels at Highgate, running away with the victory after a close first half. The Geelong Falcons showed that they will be another team to beat, overcoming a spirited Murray Bushrangers team despite missing players through AIS duties. Over in Morwell, the Power accounted for the Stingrays in what was a tight contest for three quarters.

The Sunday clashes at Visy saw the young Western Jets topple the Northern Knights in a seven-point thriller whilst the Sandringham Dragons kicked away in a wet, sluggish affair against Eastern Ranges. In the final game of the round, Oakleigh bounced back from its performance last week to narrowly defeat Calder, leaving the Cannons as the only team without a win from two matches.


TAC Cup Round 2

Bendigo Pioneers: 12.18.90
North Ballarat Rebels: 7.6.48
Pioneers goals: O’Meara (3), Hywood (3), Chisari (2), O’Halloran (2), Davie, Heeps
Rebels goals: Brennan (2), Vearing, Mason, Bennett, Gabbe, Robinson
Pioneers best: Cakitaki, Mangan, Chisari, Maher, O’Meara, Hywood
Rebels best: Cassidy, Herbert, Richards, Robinson, Hendy, Bennett

The Bendigo Pioneers kicked off their season in style, defeating the North Ballarat Rebels by 42 points at Highgate Recreation Reserve. After a close first half, the sublime skill of Harry O’Meara and Jordan Mangan saw them kick away and win comfortably. O’Meara produced one of the performances of the TAC Cup so far, kicking three of a possible five goals whilst constantly being used as a link-up player. For the Rebels, overage player Kyle Hendy was too strong in the ruck whilst Lachlan Cassidy and Keegan Mellington were always in the action. Next week the Pioneers travel to Shepparton to take on the Murray Bushrangers whilst the Rebels host the Geelong Falcons in Warrnambool.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Harry O’Meara (Bendigo Pioneers)
4 – Lachlan Cassidy (North Ballarat Rebels)
3 – Kyle Hendy (North Ballarat Rebels)
2 – Keegan Mellington (North Ballarat Rebels)
1 – Jordan Mangan (Bendigo Pioneers)


Gippsland Power 12.13.85
Dandenong Stingrays 8.14.62
Power goals: Webb (3), Paredes (2), Scott (2), Keilty (2), Thomas (2), Dennison
Stingrays goals: McCartney (3), Lamb (2), Gardiner, Pearson, Harnett
Power best: Nash, Channing, Muir, Scott, Webb, Patterson
Stingrays best: Foote, Pickess, McCartney, Pearson, Gardiner, Jones

Gippsland Power celebrated a win in their first game of the season, saluting against the Dandenong Stingrays at Morwell Football Ground. The Power were lead by Tom Muir who provided plenty of run and carry off half-back whilst Paul Patterson showed poise and decision making well beyond his years. For the Stingrays, Clayton McCartney was the main man through the midfield and forward despite standing at just 176cm. Whilst both teams were better for the run, they will be hoping to provide a better four quarter performance next week. Gippsland play at home again next week against the Oakleigh Chargers whilst Dandenong travels to Bayswater in an evening game against Eastern Ranges.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Tom Muir (Gippsland Power)
4 – Paul Patterson (Gippsland Power)
3 – Clayton McCartney (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Lukas Webb (Gippsland Power)
1 – Lachlan Channing (Gippsland Power)


Geelong Falcons 10.16.76
Murray Bushrangers 9.4.58
Falcons goals: Fort (3), McCartin (2), Spokes, Thompson, Sharp, Dixon, Bond
Bushrangers goals: Neagle (2), Gibbons, Devine, Van Berlo, Vescio, Norris, Drummond, Wilson
Falcons best: Boag, Moloney, Fort, Nelson, Bond, Lang
Bushrangers best: Holman, Squire, Sharp, Neagle, Gibbons, Ellis

Geelong Falcons went into the game missing many of their stars due to AIS duties but came away with a hard-fought win. Trailing for the first half, the Falcons booted seven goals to four in the second half to run out winners over the Murray Bushrangers. For the Falcons, Matthew Boag was impressive in the middle whilst Fraser Fort continually presented up forward. Fort booted three goals but could have made a bigger impact had he kicked straight. For the Bushrangers, Nick Holman was easily their best player whilst Kieran Ellis and Jydon Neagle can hold their heads high. Next week the Falcons travel to Warrnambool to take on the Rebels while the Bushrangers meet the Pioneers in Shepparton.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Matthew Boag (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Fraser Fort (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Nick Holman (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Doug Bond (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Kieran Ellis (Murray Bushrangers)


Western Jets 17.7.109
Northern Knights 15.12.102
Jets goals: Manivong (3), Norton (3), Abou-Zeid (2), Burton (2), King (2), Greiser, Appleby, Orr, Ferrari, Myers
Knights goals: Hunt (2), Curnow (2), Turner (2), Haynes (2), McKeown (2), Tardio (2), Bowkett, Switkowski, Langford
Jets best: Greiser, Sicily, Burton, Manivong, Abou-Zeid, Norton
Knights best: Murphy, Bowkett, Turner, Langford, Switkowski, Haynes

The Western Jets went into the match with 10 underage players but came out victorious in a thrilling seven-point win. Despite leading for most of the match, the Jets had to overcome a Northern Knights fight back in the final term in which the Knights almost snatched victory. Trailing by almost six goals, the Knights piled on the pressure and fought back to within a kick before Pete Manivong received a free kick and kicked truly from the goal square to win it for the Jets. Manivong and Mitch Norton were dangerous up forward for the Jets whilst Matthew Haynes was critical for the Knights through the middle. The Jets and Knights travel to Highgate Recreation Reserve next week to face off against the Cannons and Dragons respectively.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Mitchell Norton (Western Jets)
4 – Matthew Haynes (Northern Knights)
3 – Pete Manivong (Western Jets)
2 – Kyle Langford (Northern Knights)
1 – Jake Greiser (Western Jets)


Sandringham Dragons: 10.10.70
Eastern Ranges: 7.7.49
Dragons goals: Wilkinson (3), Freeman (2), McLaren, Spencer, Cathcart, Neiwand, Langdon
Ranges goals: Roth (2), Petracca (2), Walker, Apeness, Welsh
Dragons best: Freeman, Amon, Neiwand, Wilkinson, Cathcart
Ranges best: Fisher, Walker, Nielson, Evans, Apeness, Petracca

The Sandringham Dragons remain the only undefeated Metro team after defeating Eastern Ranges by 21 points. It was a slog of a match as the rain poured down, producing only seven goals for the first half. After half time, the skies opened up and so did the scoring to an extent. Trailing by under three goals for most of the match, Eastern Ranges couldn’t bridge the gap despite great performances from Jordan Walker and Cristian Petracca. Whilst Eastern Ranges had a few stars, Sandringham made it a team effort as the likes of Callum Cathcart, Tom Wilkinson, Will Hayes and Tom Langdon worked tirelessly. The Dragons travel to Highgate next week to face the Northern Knights whilst Eastern Ranges meet the Dandenong Stingrays at Bayswater.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Jordan Walker (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Christian Petracca (Eastern Ranges)
3 – Callum Cathcart (Sandringham Dragons)
2 – Tom Wilkinson (Sandringham Dragons)
1 – Michael Apeness (Eastern Ranges)


Oakleigh Chargers: 11.14.80
Calder Cannons: 11.7.73
Chargers goals: Polidoros (2), Prowse (2), Kennedy-Harris, Waddell, McKenzie, Scott, Frenetic, Pittonet, Kelly
Cannons goals: Cauchi (4), Walker (3), Allan, Van Der Byl, Merlo, Carboni
Chargers best: Kennedy-Harris, Scott, Beasley, Toohey, Macginness, De Soysa
Cannons best: Jensen, Fery, Clothier, O’Brien, Prestia, Cauchi

The Oakleigh Chargers have bounced back after a disappointing first-round loss to Eastern Ranges with a narrow seven-point victory over the Calder Cannons. Slick midfielder Jay Kennedy-Harris led the way for the Chargers whilst Hugh Beasley was fantastic in defense as was Chris Prowse up forward. For the Cannons, Josh Cauchi booted four goals to add to his six last week as he leads the competition’s goal kicking. Oakleigh will travel to Morwell Football Ground to take on Gippsland whilst Calder visits the Western Jets at Highgate Recreational Reserve.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Jay Kennedy-Harris (Oakleigh Chargers)
4 – Josh Cauchi (Calder Cannons)
3 – Chris Prowse (Oakleigh Chargers)
2 – Hugh Beasley (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – William Macginness (Oakleigh Chargers)


TAC Cup Round 2 fixture
Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers (12:00pm, Saturday 6th April at Morwell Football Ground)
Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers (1:00pm, Saturday 6th April at Deakin Reserve, Shepparton)
Eastern Ranges vs. Dandenong Stingrays (4:00pm, Saturday 6th April at Bayswater Oval)
Northern Knights vs. Sandringham Dragons (11:30am, Sunday 7th April at Highgate Recreation Reserve)
North Ballarat Rebels vs. Geelong Falcons (1:00pm, Sunday 7th April at Reid Oval, Warrnambool)
Western Jets vs. Calder Cannons (2:00pm, Sunday 7th April at Highgate Recreation Reserve)

Eastern Ranges providing unexpected quality

Eastern Ranges might have replaced its team song with Drake’s ‘Started From The Bottom’ following its surprise 48-point Round 1 win over reigning premiers the Oakleigh Chargers.

Eastern claimed the wooden spoon in 2012 and its squad this year didn’t seem to inspire a whole lot of confidence in fans before its first game. However, there is plenty of hope for Eastern fans as some potential stars have been unearthed.

Centre half-forward Christian Petracca took the game by storm as he presented as a strong lead-up target. Petracca dominated the forward 50 with his marking and silky delivery to other forwards.

Potential number one pick Tom Boyd was held quite well by Chargers fullback Hugh Beasley. Whilst Boyd kicked four goals, including two impressive set shots in the last quarter, Beasley essentially nullified Boyd. It took a cheap cherry pick in the goal square for Boyd to get on the board, even though most of the delivery to the forward line was aimed at him.

Andreas Roth was the most impressive player on the field, kicking four goals which included two sealers in the fourth term. It seemed Roth was everywhere as he setup play across the half-forward line and dominated his opponent for all four quarters.

Short-but-mighty midfielder Ben Cavarra gathered 26 possessions in the middle and his silky disposal made his game eye catching. He may be one who wasn’t on the draft radar initially but recruiters may pay closer attention to him throughout the year.

Fellow midfielder Nick Evans gathered 25 possessions and linked particularly well with Jordan Walker to produce a tandem that had 49 possessions between them.

Samuel Gibson also played extremely well, providing a presence in all four quarters across the half forward line. Gibson topped off his game by hitting the scoreboard.

The highly-touted Chargers put up a weak fight with Jack Billings and Aiden Franetic being the only two players to contribute in every quarter. Co-captain Jay Kennedy-Harris was fantastic early but shut down well by the Eastern midfield after half time.

Ranges certainly proved to be the biggest surprise packet of the opening round of the TAC Cup but it will have to continue to produce its best football as it takes on the dominant Sandringham Dragons in Round 2.

Whilst Boyd is still the main man at Eastern Ranges, it seems there are plenty more names to keep an eye on throughout the year as Ranges try to avoid being wooden spooners for two consecutive years.

TAC Cup review: Round 1 (Metro Round)

The first round of the TAC Cup saw all the city teams compete to show off their new talent to their fans. Northern Knights defeated Calder in a tight one despite six goals from pocket rocket Josh Cauchi. Eastern Ranges then provided one of the biggest upsets in TAC Cup history, with last year’s wooden spooners smashing reigning premiers Oakleigh by 48 points. Sandringham closed out the day with a hard-fought win against the Western Jets.


TAC Cup Round 1 (Metro Round)

Northern Knights: 15.7.97
Calder Cannons: 11.9.75
Knights goals: Curnow (4), Haynes (2), Porter (2), Bromley (2), Lennon (2), Bontempelli, Langford, Gilbert
Cannons goals: Cauchi (6), Walker, Jensen, Christensen, Schraven, Morrison
Knights best: Bowkett, Lennon, Tardio, Hunt, Soccio, Curnow
Cannons best: Owen, Lever, Cauchi, Miller, Christensen

The Northern Knights celebrated a win in their first encounter with a 22-point victory over the Calder Cannons. Despite Calder having won 22 games of a possible 30 against the Knights, it was Northern who took full advantage of a weakened Cannons side that provided seven players in last year’s drafts to AFL clubs.

Despite trailing for most of the first half, nine Knights goals to four in the second half saw the tide turn. Marcus Bontempelli, Matthew Haynes and Ben Lennon dominated the midfield, using pinpoint passes to find Hugh Curnow and Chaz Bromley up forward, booting six goals between them in the win. Speedy forward Josh Cauchi was impressive booting six goals including the first two for the Cannons. In defence it was Jake Lever who was solid, intercepting marks and spoiling at will against the constant Knight attacks.

The Knights will go into their match against the Western Jets brimming with confidence whilst Calder face the tough prospect of Oakleigh.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Hugh Curnow (Northern Knights)
4 – Josh Cauchi (Calder Cannons)
3 – Ben Lennon (Northern Knights)
2 – Jay Lever (Calder Cannons)
1 – Marcus Bontempelli (Northern Knights)


Oakleigh Chargers: 9.16.70
Eastern Ranges: 17.16.118
Chargers goals:  Franetic (3), Edwards (3), Billings (2), Urban
Eastern Ranges goals: Boyd (4), Roth (4), Petracca (2), Honeychurch, Keedle, O’Sullivan, McStay, Riley, Cavarra, Gibson
Chargers best: Beasley, Franetic, Billings, Kelly, Pittonet, Toohey
Eastern Ranges best: Petracca, Evans, Cavarra, Roth, Walker, O’Sullivan

Eastern Ranges caused an early upset with last year’s wooden spooners smashing the reigning premiers in the Oakleigh Chargers by 48 points. After being close early, it was Eastern which made the most of its opportunities, booting 10 of 12 goals after half time before Oakleigh booted the last two in consolation.

Despite the big win, Eastern’s Tom Boyd wasn’t dominant, finishing with four goals of which two came very late in the match. Andreas Roth was the main star up forward, also booting four goals to help Ranges kick away in the second half and secure the win. Whilst Oakleigh’s star midfield was largely overrun by a determined Ranges outfit, Jack Billings and Aidan Franetic both had good games.

Eastern faces off against Sandringham next week in what should be a fantastic contest whilst Oakleigh meets Calder in the mid-afternoon game.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Andreas Roth (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Christian Petracca (Eastern Ranges)
3 – Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers)
2 – Ben Cavarra (Eastern Ranges)
1 – Samuel Gibson (Eastern Ranges)


Sandringham Dragons: 16.9.105
Western Jets: 12.10.82
Dragons goals: Hayes (4), Spencer (3), Amon (3), Salem (2), Marchetti, McLaren, Kelly, Cathcart
Jets goals: King (3), Manivong (2), Norton (2), Abou-Zeid, Burton, Orr, Ferrari, Greiser
Dragons best: Amon, Whitehead, Merrett, Hayes, Neiward, Salem
Jets best: O’Leary, Norton, King, Greiser, Iaccarino, Bewley

The Sandringham Dragons weathered the literal and metaphorical storm, accounting for the Western Jets by 23 points. With several bouts of rain threatening to turn the match into a hard-fought slog, the likes of Christian Salem and Karl Amon ensured quality football was maintained.

Despite working hard through the midfield, the Jets couldn’t match the pace and skill of the Dragons who showed why they are a serious challenger this season. Harrison King booted three goals for the Jets whilst Brett Bewley and David Iaccarino were solid throughout the match but the likes of Salem, Amon and Hayes were too strong. Max Hayes combined with Alex Spencer up forward to boot seven goals between them and send a message to opposition teams.

Sandringham will face Eastern Ranges in the next round in what shapes up to be a great contest whilst the Western Jets will take on the Northern Knights in the early Sunday game.

BFGN Rising Stars Medal
5 – Max Hayes (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Karl Amon (Sandringham Dragons)
3 – Christian Salem (Sandringham Dragons)
2 – Harrison King (Western Jets)
1 – William Hayes (Sandringham Dragons)


TAC Cup Round 2 fixture
Bendigo Pioneers vs. North Ballarat Rebels (11:30am, Saturday March 30 at Highgate Recreation Reserve)
Gippsland Power vs. Dandenong Stingrays (1:00pm, Saturday 30 March at Morwell Football Ground)
Geelong Falcons vs. Murray Bushrangers (2:00pm, Saturday March 30 at Highgate Recreation Reserve)
Western Jets vs. Northern Knights (10:00am, Sunday March 31 at Visy Park)
Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons (12:30pm, Sunday March 31 at Visy Park)
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Calder Cannons (3:30pm, Sunday March 31 at Highgate Recreation Reserve)

Making sense of the under-18 competition structure

The TAC Cup under-18 competition is the most prestigious and elite level of junior football across the entire country. With so many youngsters doing so many different things, it’s something easy to lose track of how the TAC Cup and National Championships schedules match up.

The TAC Cup, although being a league itself, is comprised of two separate divisions: Country and Metro. Each club plays roughly the same amount of games against Metro and Country teams during the home and away season so there is no advantage to being in a certain division. Oakleigh, for example, plays nine games against Country teams and eight against Metro teams.

The two divisions are a result of so many players being eligible for state selection. As a result, there are two Victorian National Championships teams, those being Vic Country and Vic Metro.

Vic Country is comprised of the best players from Dandenong Stingrays, Bendigo Pioneers, Geelong Falcons, North Ballarat Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Gippsland Power. Conversely, Vic Metro draws players from Oakleigh Chargers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights, Sandringham Dragons and Western Jets.

Although there are two divisions for state selection, these do not come into play in terms of TAC Cup finals. It is not like the NBA where the teams in the Eastern Conference play each other and the Western Conference teams play each other. Instead, the TAC Cup uses the same system as the AFL ladder and finals.

As the TAC Cup steadily grows, crowd numbers also increase. To try and get as many supporters as possible to the games, an initiative has been launched that involves either two or three games being played on the same day at bigger grounds such as Visy Park and Queen Elizabeth Oval.

The first triple header is on the Sunday of Round 1 at Visy Park. As this is a Metro Round, all of the teams in the metropolitan division will play. The games start at 10:00am with the Cannons playing the Knights, followed by the Chargers against Eastern Ranges at 12:30pm and finally the Dragons and Jets at 3:00pm.

The TAC Cup Grand Final will be held at Etihad Stadium as it has been in previous years. This year’s Grand Final will be on Sunday the 22nd of September.

Preliminary rounds of the National Championships will be played throughout the year. Interestingly, Vic Country’s first game against Northern Territory will take place on the same day as a Country Round. This means that the stronger rural teams may field a depleted squad, leaving the lowly-ranked teams with an opportunity to strike.

The schedule for a youngster with hopes to get into the AFL is incredibly busy, especially when you bring school commitments into account. However, the experience gained through playing in the TAC Cup and National Championships certainly can’t be replicated elsewhere.

Oakleigh looks towards back-to-back flags

Fresh off their 2012 success, the Oakleigh Chargers are one of the many teams to beat in the 2013 TAC Cup.

After finishing sixth after the home and away season last year, the Chargers stormed home to beat the Gippsland Power by one point in the Grand Final. This season, the Chargers will face plenty of stiff competition, but look like one of the teams to beat.

Despite North Melbourne father-son future selection Luke McDonald electing to play with Werribee in the VFL, the Chargers are still a formidable line-up. Led by dynamo and top-10 hopeful Jack Billings, the Chargers will be aiming to go back-to-back in 2013.

Along with Billings, the Chargers host the likes of Guy Dickson, Tom Cutler and Collingwood New South Wales Scholarship player Elijah Edwards, who will be keen to have impressive seasons.

One team that could spoil Oakleigh’s chances of securing back-to-back flags are the Geelong Falcons. Recognised as a traditional ‘football factory’, the Falcons have an array of talent which will be on show. Players such as James Tsitas, Nick Bourke, Lewis Taylor and Darcy Gardiner are all names which could make their way onto AFL lists in 2014. After a disappointing finish for the Falcons’ standards last season, Geelong will be keen to bounce back and reclaim another flag.

A couple of dark horses in the TAC Cup are Sandringham and Dandenong, who also have a handful of players who will catch the eye of AFL recruiters throughout the season. Sandringham, after coming so close to achieving success last season, will be pushing even harder to claim that elusive flag with Christian Salem, Josh Kelly and Tim Allen in its starting line-up. Dandenong is in a similar position with impressive underage players from last season such as Clayton McCartney, Billy Hartung and Agape Patolo pulling on the Stingrays guernsey again.

Whilst there will be plenty of talent to eye off across the competition, one player that will be watched intensely is Thomas Boyd from Eastern Ranges. A potential number one pick in the same mould of Jonathon Patton, Boyd dominated last season as an under-aged player. With Tyler Hayward and Daniel Erasmus in his side, Ranges are expected to surprise.

A total of seven players were selected from the Calder Cannons in the 2012 National, Pre-Season or Rookie Drafts last year. They are expected to once again be highly competitive with players such as Aaron Christensen and Jason Cooke ones to watch.

A team certain to fly under the radar in 2013 are the Northern Knights who finished a lowly 10th last season. This year, they are expected to improve and become a big player in the finals. Ben Lennon, Cameron Conlon and Marcus Bontempelli are just some of the players that are helping to improve the Knights this season.

Leading the charge for the country teams are the North Ballarat Rebels and Murray Bushrangers. The Rebels have top 10 hopeful Matt Crouch, brother of Crows talent Brad. Crouch impressed last season against older bodies and whilst he was overlooked in the 17-year-old mini-draft in 2012, he is still expected to make a splash this season. For the Bushrangers, Jarman Impey and Nathan Drummond are two players that will be keen to impress recruiters this season.

The three remaining teams, the Bendigo Pioneers, Gippsland Power and Western Jets, are teams that are confident about their youth pushing through from the under-16s. All three teams lost talented players through to the AFL last season which will make their jobs harder this year.

Bendigo will look to Isaiah Miller and Jacob Chisari to help achieve success whilst the Power have Aaron Heppell, who will be keen to follow in the footsteps of brother Dyson. For the Western Jets, leader Harrison King and over-ager Jake McKenzie are hoping their seasons can give them a chance at finding an AFL club.

No matter which team wins the competition in 2013, one thing that’s for sure is that we are sure to see a great crop of youngsters coming through.

Introducing BFGN Rising Stars

We at Bound for Glory News are excited to announce that we will be expanding on what we have worked to achieve so far, launching a brand new section of the website, Rising Stars.

Rising Stars is an idea we have been sitting on for some time. As far as coverage of the TAC Cup, National Championships and the drafts go, a lot of major news outlets are understandably preoccupied with the top tier of Australian Rules. It is not unusual to hear next to nothing about the year’s crop of developing players, aside from the usual two or three standouts, until very late in the season.

A small team of Bound for Glory News writers and contributors have come together to make sure that we can provide detailed and accurate reports on the development of the future generation of football. This has all been made possible by the cooperation of those involved at TAC Cup clubs, Melbourne-based universities and AFL Victoria.

Throughout the course of the season, we will be providing weekly updates on all TAC Cup teams which will include results, standout players, injuries and match highlights to keep you up to date with all that is happening in the AFL’s dominant under-18s development competition.

In addition to weekly reviews, we’ll be pinpointing the players to watch throughout the TAC Cup season as well as top performers, making sure that you’ll be prepared for the drafts.

We will also be providing coverage of the National Championships later in the year, ensuring that our draft coverage doesn’t solely stay within Victoria. Although the TAC Cup has produced some serious quality in the past, state leagues, especially those based outside of Victoria, are still an excellent source of future AFL stars and mature-age recruits.

As Bound for Glory News provided in 2012, we will also be bringing back our phantom draft, complete with player profiles, previewing the best potential draftees in each area of the ground and highlighting the draft priorities of each club.

Although there is generally not much interest in the draft with the regular season taking the attention, as it should, Rising Stars will act as an archive for those that want to catch up on the weekly development of the year’s crop of potential draftees.

The season ahead is shaping up to be an exciting one not only in the AFL, but in the TAC Cup and come draft time. With the expansion clubs in Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney’s access to the majority of the best young talent decreasing, the prospect of other AFL clubs receiving an injection of talent come year’s end is certainly exciting for all fans.