Tag: Dale Cox

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 8 – Buffs move to third as in-form sides claim victories

NIGHTCLIFF got back on track after a rare loss, Southern Districts and Darwin got past their lowly ranked opponents, while Tiwi Bombers’ ripping form continued with yet another win in this round’s action of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.

WANDERERS 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.5 | 5.5 (35)
NIGHTCLIFF 6.2 | 11.5 | 14.7 | 16.12 (108)


Wanderers: W. Williams 2, D. Thompson, D. Weetra, R. Fejo.
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 4, L. Sharp 4, J. Butcher 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, M. McGregor, S. Wilson, T. Melville.


Wanderers: C. Haley, K. Stephens, B. McLean, W. Williams, D. Thompson
Nightcliff: K. Riley, L. Masters, J. Butcher, W. Wheeler, J. Peris, J. Budarick

Top-of-the-table Nightcliff continued its terrific season after bouncing back from a rare loss last week to hand down a smashing to Wanderers who slipped down to sixth by the end of the round. Nightcliff burst out of the blocks to pile on six goals to two in the opening term, and led by 50 points at half-time. The team refused to take the foot off after the main break, booting five goals to two to run out 73-point winners in the first game at TIO Oval. Matthew Bricknell and Lachlan Sharp booted four gaols apiece, while former Port Adelaide forward, John Butcher kicked three majors and was named among the best. Talented high flyer Liam Holt-Fitz booted two majors for the Tigers, while Kaine Riley and Williamstown players, Leigh Masters and Willie Wheeler were named in the reigning premiers’ best. For Wanderers, Warwick Williams was the sole multiple goalkicker with two majors, named among the best with Charlie Haley and Kade Stephens. Wanderers take on Southern Districts on Saturday night at TIO Stadium, while Nightcliff host the in-form Tiwi Bombers.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.0 | 2.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 (43)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 1.3 | 5.5 | 9.12 | 14.18 (102)


Palmerston: W. Shadforth, D. Gaykamangu , B. Church, M. Chester, T. Freeman, A. Diamond.
Southern Districts: S. Barnett 3, D. Williams 2, C. McAdam 2, B. Schwarze, D. Hall, M. Joshua, T. Holman, K. Dingo, M. Rosier, J. Farrer.


Palmerston: J. Berry, A. Diamond, R. Mungatopi, M. Chester, S. Brock, W. Shadforth
Southern Districts: M. Rosier, B. Lake, J. Farrer, C. McAdam, S. Barnett, T. Holman

Southern Districts kept in touch with Nightcliff following a 59-point victory over cellar dwellers, Palmerston Magpies. The Magpies poor start to the season continued with their eighth straight loss, while the Crocs are up and about having won five and drawn one from as many encounters as the Magpies. It was the underdogs who started strongly booting two goals to one in the opening term, but it was all the Crocs from there, leading by 19 points at half-time, then slamming home nine goals to four in the second half to skip away to the comfortable win on the road. The Crocs had no shortage of goalkickers with Sam Barnett (three majors), Charles McAdam (two) and Damian Williams (two) all getting on the board. Matthew Rosier was handed best on ground honours, while teenage star Brodie Lake and Josiah Farrer were also named among the best. For the Magpies, Jack Berry was named best on ground, while former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ small forward Dale Cox also featured in the side, with Adam Diamond and Randy Mungatopi named in Palmerston’s best. Next weekend, Palmerston looks to break its winless drought against Darwin, while the Crocs host Wanderers.

WARATAH 2.0 | 4.4 | 8.4 | 10.9 (69)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 1.7 | 3.12 | 10.14 | 14.17 (101)


Waratah: K. Kantilla 5, B. Zobel, M. Newton, L. Fitzgerald, A. Ankers, M. Blake.
Darwin: D. Stafford 5, J. Stokes 3, D. Shillabeer, M. Coombes, B. Culhane, C. Williams, B. Hogan, M. Campbell.


Waratah: N/A.
Darwin: I. Seden-Kurnoth, C. Williams, D. Stafford, B. Hogan, C. Atkinson

Fourth placed Darwin Buffaloes overcame some terrible inaccuracy in the first half of their clash with Waratah to get back on track for a 32-point win at TIO Stadium. The Buffaloes were able to leapfrog St Mary’s who went down in the next match, sitting percentage ahead of the Saints and only two points behind second placed Southern Districts. For Waratah, the Warriors remain six points away from sixth spot, and their season is slipping away. Darwin looked a bit shaky early despite leading at each break, but booted three goals from 15 scoring shots in the first half to hold a narrow two-point lead at the main break. They got their act together after that, as the Buffaloes booted 11.5 to Waratah’s 6.5 to record the solid victory. It was a shootout up both ends with Darwin’s Daniel Stafford and Waratah’s Kim Kantilla booting five majors apiece, but Stafford had more support around him. Jarrod Stokes kicked three majors and was one of eight individual goalkickers, while Kantilla was the only multiple goalkicker from Waratah’s six. Isaac Seden-Kurnoth and Chris Williams were named best on ground for their contributions in Darwin’s big win. Abe Ankers and Laine Fitzgerald were among the goalkickers in the Eagles side. Next weekend, Waratah takes on St Mary’s, while Darwin travels to Palmerston to meet the last placed Magpies.

ST MARY’S 2.1 | 3.5 | 4.6 | 7.8 (50)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.4 | 7.9 | 9.10 | 12.12 (84)


St Mary’s: S. Rioli 2, N. Paredes, J. Geary, L. Larson, T. Saunders, J. Cheek.
Tiwi: J. Best 4, A. Wonaeamirri 3, J. Monigatti 2, M. Kantilla, R. Tungatalum, D. Munkara.


St Mary’s: B. Rioli, L. Larson, T. Davies, L. Daly, J. Geary, J. Cheek
Tiwi: A. Hams, L. Wale-Buxton, C. Jones, R. Baird, R. Puruntatameri, J. Puruntatameri

In the final game of the round, Tiwi Bombers’ great form of late continue with a vital 34-point win over St Mary’s. The game was considered an “eight-point” match with St Mary’s able to extend the gap between fourth and fifth out to 10 points, and 14 clear of the Bombers, while instead, Tiwi cut the deficit to just four points and percentage away from the top four. Tiwi controlled the match after a tight start, leading by 10 points at quarter time and 28 points by half-time. Whist the Saints managed to keep in touch after the main break, the damage was done and the Bombers celebrated a great win. Jake Best (four goals), Austin Wonaeamirri (three) and Jack Monigatti (two) all kicked multiple goals for the visiting side, as Shannon Rioli added two for St Mary’s. Former Essendon player, Ashton Hams was named best on ground and really impacted the contest, as did Liam Wale-Buxton and Rodney Baird. For the Saints, Ben Rioli was named the best, while Leroy Larson and Nathaniel Paredes both booted goals in defeat. Next week, the Tiwi Bombers travel to test themselves against Nightcliff, while St Mary’s host a must-win game against Waratah.

Young Guns look to stake claim for AFL Draft

THIRTY-EIGHT TAC Cup players are among those striving to stake a claim in front of AFL recruiters in the AFL Young Guns game on Saturday. The game includes players from clubs that are no longer in premiership contention or have chosen to nominate for the game, VFL clubs, school football and local leagues.

The 50 players selected have been divided up into two teams that will face off at Fortburn Stadium, Port Melbourne at 11.30am with some TAC Cup teammates facing off against each other. Among those included are Gippsland Power’s starting midfield of Matthew McGannon, Callum Porter, Nick Hogan and Julian Patterson, GWV Rebels hopefuls Dale Cox, Callan Wellings, Aaron Shepherd, Flynn Appleby and highly regarded Calder Cannons’ players Brad Bernacki, Aidan Tilley, Jean-Luc Velissaris and Jake Riccardi.

The game also gives mature agers a chance to shine with a number playing including former Oakleigh Charger premiership player and grand final best on ground Kade Answerth – who will suit up alongside brother Noah – and Dandenong Stingrays turned Northern Blues livewire forward Sam Fowler. The oldest player taking the field will be 24 year-old Essendon VFL player Matt Darby.

Tom Mills, an 18 year-old from Ararat Football Club has also been plucked out to play in the match, while Hawthorn fans might be keen to cast an eye of Sandringham Dragons’ player Devlin Brereton – eligible under the father-son rule for the Hawks.

The AFL Young Guns game has previously helped recruiters catch a glimpse of players outside their TAC Cup and VFL club match day environments and helped in the recruitment of players such as Adam Saad (Gold Coast) and Tom Papley (Sydney).

It is the perfect chance for late bloomers such as Xavier College key forward Ed Delaney (who joined the Rebels’ program late), Louis Pinnuck – a former Murray Bushranger who was unlucky not to go last year – and North Ballarat’s Jacob Wheelahan who had an unlucky run with injuries in his TAC Cup days.

A number of talls who will be trying to stake their claims in front of recruiters include Western Jets’ Tristan Xerri, Northern Knights’ Joel Naylor and Murray Bushrangers’ Tom Boyd who have all showed signs throughout the season. Former Knights’ leaders Mason Blakey and Luke Bunker will again join forces after playing out the VFL season in different colours, while 19 year-old Bendigo Pioneer Derek Smith will also play after impressing for Richmond VFL this season.

2017 AFL Young Guns game team lists:

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 18

THE final round of the TAC Cup season was completed on the weekend – with the all important finals series kicking off at Victoria Park this Saturday. We had our scouts watching all six games in Round 18, read their notes below.

GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers (Peter Williams)

GWV Rebels:

#1 Dale Cox – Arguably the best game I have seen him play live. Took a couple of fantastic grabs one-on-one and kicked two goals, one from a snap and a second from a set shot. He continued to look dangerous throughout the contest, applying good pressure inside forward 50, and a touch of class when on the outside. While he did not receive a state combine invite, he could be one that falls under the Western Bulldogs Category B rookie if they choose to nominate him.

#2 Callan Wellings – The Rebels’ captain put in another strong performance on the weekend. Wellings is one of the most consistent performers in the TAC Cup and he just has a no-fuss approach to his football. He showed a high work rate and great vision in close while also finding space around the ground. He was rewarded with a goal when he snuck into space inside 50. He took a few intercept marks across half-back in the final term to snuff out any hope of a Bendigo comeback and was involved in a possession chain where he won the ball in the defensive half and then ran forward to take a mark at half-forward in the same possession chain.

#4 Aiden Domic – Domic has been a big improver in the second half of the season and was best on ground against the Pioneers on the weekend. He is a really smart footballer who does not waste time with his disposal. While his inside numbers have improved in the second half of the season, he played predominantly on the wing as Jordan Johnston took an inside role. He snapped a terrific goal in the third term with five minutes remaining to put the Rebels 39 points up. Domic has an impact up forward and great goal sense and is one of the best endurance runners in the competition.

#9 Flynn Appleby – Appleby’s draft stocks would have to be rising after yet another big performance down back, this time on top 10 hope Jarrod Brander. Appleby gave up nine centimetres and six kilograms to the big forward but held his own. He was really composed with the football and apart from a couple of minutes in the second term when Brander got hold of him, he stood up well, positioning himself well in the one-on-ones, protecting the ball drop and also peeling off Brander to assist teammates. Appleby was unlucky not to receive a state combine invitation, but his last month has been nothing short of sensational.

#10 Jordan Johnston – The exciting forward has put together a good month of football as an uncomprimising inside midfielder. He holds his own in close and played on fellow forward-cum-midfielder Brent Daniels at the stoppages. Johnston won more of the football but was exposed for leg speed against Daniels crusing out of a pack. Johnston as a whole had more of an influence, turning it on in the third term setting up a goal assist after a free kick in the middle, and then had a second clearance from the next centre bounce, finishing with a goal moments later. A highlight was in the second quarter when Johnston smothered the ball and managed to grab the footy in one motion.

#23 Lloyd Meek – The over-age ruckman continued his good form in season 2017 with another influential display across the ruck and up forward. He has developed his body this year to really use his strength and frame to outmuscle opponents and was too strong for the in-form Jobee Warde. While Warde had the athleticism, Meek was really impressive in holding his ground and ensuring Warde could not get an easy jump at the ruck stoppages. Up forward, Meek presented well, crashing packs and taking a few good marks, although his goal kicking still needs some work, missing the lot from the forward pocket, albeit on a very tight angle.

#40 Tylar Watts – I was really only focusing on top-agers, but Watts caught my eye with a pretty good performance working in tandem with Meek. While his possession numbers are not high, Watts produced arguably the biggest highlight of the game with a towering mark in the final term when the Pioneers were threatening to chase down the deficit. He stood tall, kicked the goal and iced the game, giving Rebels fans a bit of excitement about what he could be capable of in 2018.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Kane Farrell – I really liked Farrell’s game on the weekend. He is not a huge accumulator of the football but he looks balanced and has good vision through traffic and great hands in close. There were a couple of times where he sidestepped an opponent and delivered it well inside 50 to a leading target. He also showed his versatility to have an impact up forward, kicking a crucial goal late in the third term. The one knock from the weekend was there was an instance or two where he tried to do too much and was caught before he could effectively dispose of it or finish cleanly.

#6 Cooper Jones – Like his side, Jones was fairly influential early on, rebounding what he could for the Pioneers playing across half-back. He went in hard along the wing and laid a bone-crunching tackle winning a free kick. Last year he played up forward but I like him as a defender, was quieter in the second half, but still had a few nice touches across half-back and on the wing. He could potentially develop into a taller midfielder.

#8 Lochie O’Brien – It was not one of O’Brien’s better games despite picking up a vote in the Morrish Medal. He won more of the football than usual, but his kicking efficiency was well down on his usual standards, which was later reflected with just 50 per cent by foot. I regard O’Brien as a deadly left foot kick, but the Rebels captain Cal Wellings and his teammates gave O’Brien little time and space to use his strong attributes. Despite not having the influence he has had in other games, O’Brien still kicked a goal thanks to an old fashioned sausage roll from 50m in the last term.

#10 Brent Daniels – The nuggety forward played more inside midfield against the Rebels and flashed in and out with some brilliant patches. He almost created the highlight of the day, streaming down the middle of the ground taking a couple of bounces and got to about 60m from goal before taking a third bounce and fluffing it and getting caught by his chasing opponent. As a whole I felt he was composed with the football when under pressure and was good in tight by hand.

#13 Jarrod Brander – The possible top 10 draft pick continued to work throughout the four quarters but became Flynn Appleby’s latest victim. Brander was good on the lead and kicked a fantastic goal outside 50 in the second term and took a couple of marks in a two minute purple patch when he looked to break the game open, but otherwise was well held by his opponent. A combination of the swirly conditions and teammate’s inefficiency going inside 50 did not help his cause. Cannot fault his endeavour however and he continued to present up at the football, and when marking was a clean grab.

#15 Darby Henderson – The Pioneers ball magnet continued to win the pill throughout the game showing pretty good hands in close and doing everything right defensively. His kicking is still iffy at times and that’s the main knock on him, but he laid eight tackles and won the football all over the ground, clearing the ball out of the defensive 50 on a number of occasions.

#18 Bailey Henderson – The wingman continued a really solid season with a pretty solid game. He has great vision looking forward, but I questioned his peripheral vision when he had plenty of time but was run down from the side by an opponent. When in space he used a piercing kick and was able to win the ball at half-back and move forward in transition. He tends to have a slower kicking action which also saw opponents bump or tackle him when he was in possession, forcing him to make a few errors.

#20 Angus Schumacher – Like many of his teammates, Schumacher has had better games but he worked into the match in the second half. He took a good intercept mark early in the third but immediately coughed up the football with a short 20m pass. Schumacher sometimes does not kick through the ball over short distances and therefore makes errors by foot, but when kicking long he has a nice action and more often than not can hit-up a teammate 40-50m down the ground. Schumacher also showed good agility and closing speed on the lead.

Calder Cannons vs. Western Jets (Matt Balmer)

Calder Cannons:

#1 Brad Bernacki – Continued his good ball winning abilities in the midfield and was a deserving runner-up in the Morrish Medal. Was able to spread well from the contest and you couldn’t fault his endeavours in wanting to win the ball back when the Jets were in possession.

#5 Curtis Taylor – The standout Cannon for the day for me. Playing in the attacking half of the ground, he showed off his X-Factor and agility in the stoppages. Taylor provided a dangerous option when he was up forward and he was able to get the ball inside 50 effectively when he was playing through the midfield. Also marks well overhead.

#12 Noah Balta – Begun the game up forward and mixed his time between ruck/forward. Was the clear best tall in at the centre bounces, using his elite leap to effectiveness. Up forward with the wind, Balta showed on multiple occasions he could bang the ball long 60 metres at goal – and he kicked a fine set shot goal in the opening quarter from outside 50. Contested marking was impressive right around the ground.

#29 Jake Riccardi – Played as a centre half back for the majority of the game and was able to drop off his opponent and win the ball in the defensive half of the ground. Is one I think that is better suited up forward, but has shown he is more than capable at either end in recent weeks. Was also very efficient by hand and foot, hardly missing a target all day.

#30 Mitch Podhajski – Battled hard playing as a key position player and was able to win the ball and rebound it out of defensive 50. Is a handy mark and can take them in contested situations. Gave away a few unnecessary free kicks during the game, but worked hard all day.

Western Jets:

#11 Zak Butters – Kicked a great banana goal in the opening quarter and his ball use was very good right throughout the game. He was able to win the ball in the contest and was also willing to tackle back to win the ball. Looking forward to tracking him closely next season.

#14 Lachlan Fogarty – One of the stiffest players to even not collect a vote in the Morrish Medal after his best-on-ground display. Fogarty hunted the ball back with immense pressure and his tackling was phenomenal. His clearance work was good and it lead to multiple inside 50s coming from his boot. Is agile enough to get around his opponents at the stoppages and he pushed forward to boot three goals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran – Once again showed his contested ball winning abilities, working hard at every stoppage he attended. Also pushed forward and took a good mark inside 50 in the third quarter. Spent a bit more time forward than usual and didn’t win too many clearances – but was another important player in the midfield for the Jets.

#38 Buku Khamis – Played as a key defender and showed some smarts when teammates had the ball inside defensive 50, where he was often able to spread and get to the right position for the switch. Took some strong contested grabs and with the ball in hand his decision making was good.

#44 Tristan Xerri – Easily the best game I’ve seen Xerri play where he was not only able to dominate in the ruck, but win the ball around the ground. He linked up well by hand and his follow up work was very good. Booted two goals up forward, but it was his work in the contest that was super impressive for the tall.

Eastern Ranges vs. Oakleigh Chargers (Peter Williams)

Eastern Ranges:

#2 Tom North – The inside midfielder was best on ground in the first quarter, seemingly bringing his own football with him. He was noticeaby missing after quarter time given Oakleigh took more control of the midfield. North hurt his ankle and did not play a further part after a nine disposal, two clearance start to the game. He is one who has shown enough this season to be considerd around the middle of the draft.

#6 Ryley Stoddart – One of the best Ranges on the weekend, Stoddart showed off some impressive, penetrating kicks coming out of defensive 50. He was assigned to Higgins at times and while he was beaten in the air by the Morrish Medallist, he was smart in peeling off and assisting teammates in other contests. Stoddart reads the play well and times his spoils to perfection, while he also has good vision to spot up teammates in space. A player who really applies good pressure when he is around the football I noticed he tends to rush his kick under pressure at times and can lean back to get more distance but sometimes it puts him off balance.

#10 Dylan Moore – Played his part for the Ranges on the weekend as one of the best and has an equal balance of offensive and defensive pressure. He leads at the football when it is his time to go, and he pressures opponents when he does not have the football to try and keep the ball locked into the forward 50. Kicked a good goal from a set shot and when he went into the midfield he really began accumulating the football. While he has been likened to that smaller forward role, Moore showed he can more than hold his own in the midfield with a number of clearances and winning it on the inside or out.

#14 Trent Mynott – The midfielder was quiet early but pressured his opponents and got to the right positions. He won a bit more of the football in the second half, and laid a huge bone-crunching tackle that even had the crowd going “oooh”. Mynott has a fierce attack on the football and while he was not a huge accumulator on the weekend, he always does the defensive aspects right.

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – The midfielder/forward is just an excitement machine. At times his kicking can be iffy, but he wins the ball all over the ground, is good in the air or at ground level and just oozes excitement. As a spectator you cannot help but be drawn to see what he will do with the ball and what move he will pull next. He snapped a great goal under pressure in the second term and streamed through the middle of the ground showing off some great acceleration to kick inside 50. He had a couple of snaps early in the final term but could not find the radar, but was one of the few Ranges who could hold their head high for four quarters. It was one of his more consistent performances and caps off a great month.

#18 Sam Hayes – The most impressive thing about Hayes as a ruck is, despite not being overly mobile compared to other rucks, he does win a fair few clearances to go with his hitouts. A combination of grabbing it out of the ruck and putting it on the boot as well as picking it off the deck and booting it forward, Hayes put in another solid performance. He also wins a fair few free kicks because his opponents are wary of what he is capable of. He can take some good contested grabs and is a clear first round prospect and the first ruckman taken this year.

#21 Joel Garner – Had a good first quarter intercepting a number of possessions going inside 50, timing his leads and reading the ball well playing opposed to Higgins at times. But a late hit on an opponent after he kicked – nothing malicious just very late – saw him reported and set off late in the second term. Oakleigh took advantage of Garner being off the ground to boot a few late goals. Garner was not as influential after he returned in the second half, understandably.

#22 Jackson Ross – Not a big ball winner but produced a few highlights on the weekend. He had a fantastic intercept mark reading the play well on the wing, not breaking stride, but then was tackled and coughed up possession after he did not see a tackler coming hard from the side. He booted a nice goal from outside 50 in the opening minute of the final term, but otherwise was quiet.

#26 Harrison Nolan – The key position defender always applies pressure inside defensive 50 and the game against Oakleigh was no different. He lays some strong tackles and assists his teammates, also providing some rebound out of defence. Not a big ball winner, but he wins a fair chunk of his one-on-ones and therefore is good in contested situations.

#33 Tyler Brown – The son of Gavin and brother of Callum on the weekend was okay, but realtively quiet. He played at half-forward predominantly and lead up at the football on a number of occasions. He had a handball predominant game, winning most of his possessions in close, but was effective in getting it to a teammate.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#6 Matthew Day – Played inside forward 50 and had a quiet game. He took a fanastic sliding mark in the third term and kicked the goal from the set shot, while also spending stints in the midfield, but did not accumulate big numbers.

#7 Charlie Thompson – Played more of a forward role compared to his huge game the week before and was good in the way he continued to dig in and offer an option for his midfielders. He hits the contest hard and was rarely beaten overhead. He has great skills for a predominantly contested player and is a reliable set shot so I would not be surprised to see him rocket up the draft boards if he continues his good form.

#8 Toby Wooller – One of the best Oakleigh players in the win despite his kicking letting him down at times. He has developed into a hard running midfielder who is good overhead and can clear the area with some long kicks. He took a huge contested mark on the wing and while his kicking efficiency would have been average, his ability to win plenty of the football in midfield then go forward and kick three goals shows he has what it takes to make it at the next level, arguably as an athletic midfielder.

#35 Jack Higgins – The deserving Morrish Medallist again worked hard through four quarters but it probably was not his best game due to missed opportunities. His disposal by foot at times was rushed and he finished the game with 2.4 including a poster from a set shot. The wind caused much havoc and the pressure was high at times, but Higgins was a fanastic contested mark and can set up the play really well. His leading patterns are top notch and his work rate is huge. His kicking efficiency of 38 per cent and inaccuracy in front of goal stopped it from being a dominant performance once again.

Northern Knights vs. Sandringham Dragons (Peter Williams)

Northern Knights:

#4 Max Dreher – Worked hard in close and while he did not win a heap of the football, produced a lot of one percenters to help his teammates. He fought throughout the four quarters and was rewarded for his hard running with a great goal from outside 50.

#6 Patrick Naish – The Richmond father/son nominee was effective across half-back early, looking calm and composed. He was more influential in the first half than in the second, like many of his teammates. He had a flying shot at goal from outside 50 but it went well out on the full, before adding a major to his name late in the last quarter with a good goal inside 50. Not one of his better games, but was serviceable considering his team as a whole did not perform the way they would have liked.

#7 Jack Petruccelle – Did not accumulate a heap of it, but I felt he was one of the best Knights. He won the ball in close and on the outside and while he could rush his kick on occasions when disposing of it over short distances, he had an impressive purple patch in the quarter. He won the ball at half-back and spurred a dart inside 50 to a teammate and then moments later had a running shot at goal and it sailed home. Petruccelle had a good clearance out of the centre to open the final term..

#9 Alex Federico – Known for his ball winning ability and he was one of the bigger accumulators on the weekend. His work rate is really high and he is important in the Knights’ transition from half back to half-forward. Federico was really cleaver around the stoppages in extracting the ball and getting it forward, winning the bulk of his disposals in tight.

#11 Ethan Penrith – The usual defender played up forward and had a good pressuring role. Unfortunately his stats will not reflect the game he had without the football, just a couple of touches and a goal, but he laid a few tackles and did add an extra element inside 50 when the ball went down there. Didn’t see him have a touch in the second half though.

#12 Joel Naylor – The tall forward was indicative of the Knights’ performance in the sense he was super impressive when handed opportunties in the first half, but faded away in the second half. Took a few good marks and slotted a goal in the first term, but was barely sighted after half-time such was the lack of entries inside the Knights’ forward 50.

#34 Matthew Harman – Harman did his bit in the ruck, sharing the duties with Joel Grace and being serviceable across the ground. He had an ingenious moment in the second term when he kicked the ball along the ground to the advantage of his teammates when he knew he did not have time to take possesion. Did not accumulate much of the pill, but held his own in the ruck contests. 

Sandringham Dragons:

#1 Lachie Harris – Due to injury and school football I have not had the chance to see Harris live since the Dragons’ round one match and while he is not a huge accumulator, he is that small forward who adds pressure to the forward 50. He probably needs to do a bit more offensively, but defensively he was solid and kicked an important goal in the third term to put his side 24 points up with 10 minutes remaining.

#2 Geordie Nagle – Nagle is another “handball-first” player, but he is ultra-quick with his thought process and disposal. He has clean hands and won plenty of the ball in the middle of the ground, always on the move and shovelling it out to a teammate in space. Nagle earned a lot of his disposals running on the outside and also mopped up in defence on a number of occasions.

#5 Seb Williams – The Brighton Grammar midfielder was strong in the contest but his disposal let him down. His decision making at times was also questionable, such as handballing to a stationary target under pressure. However, his pros from the weekend really impressed me with his overhead strength and neat sidestep. He finds space inside 50 and kicked a great goal. He spread from the contest well and continued to present as an option coming off half-back and along the win. If he can tinker with his kicking and improve his decision making, he could be a late pick-up this year.

#6 Charlie Constable – The inside beast has had bigger games disposal wise, but when he wins the football he is really noticeable. His strength and balance in the contest is huge and in one instant he swivelled his hips to shake off a tackler and pump it long to Isaac Morrisby on the lead. Took a contested mark on the wing despite pressure coming from both sides of his body and he also defended well, adding composure to the back six. He finds space really well and looks to execute a pass inside to the corridor at every opportunity.

#8 Will Walker – Walker strikes me as a really hard runner. He is very outside in the way he goes about it, but he just gets to contest after contest. He often wins a lot of possessions through handball receives, but what impressed me on the weekend was his ability to work hard defensively and lay a number of good tackles. The knock was his influence around the ground because he won a bit through the middle of the ground, but was not as influential as others elsewhere.

#9 Andrew Brayshaw – Along with his brother, Brayshaw continued to win plenty of the football. He was more prominent in the first half, winning the ball in close and then spreading to the outside, delivering some nicely waited passes inside 50. He also set up a number of scoring opportunities when going forward and while there were a few rushed kicks, Brayshaw kicked an important goal early in the final term to snuff out Northern’s chances of a comeback.

#10 Angus Styles – One of the smarter players in terms of vision and footy nous in close. One example I saw which I liked was his ability to not rush his handball into space, but instead hold onto the footy for an extra second to enable his teammate Will Walker to run into the space required to receive the handball. He took a good intercept mark inside 50 for the Dragons by standing his ground, but missed the set shot and finished the day with two behinds. Styles was a really balanced player in the marking contest and he protects the ball drop. Not a huge accumulator, I thought Styles contributed to the Dragons’ win well.

#11 Hamish Brayshaw – The star of the show with five goals and was just influential throughout the contest. He was known for his ability to accumulate on the inside last season and on the weekend he played forward and just dominated. Then he went into the midfield and dominated there, laying some great tackles and influencing the contest in tight. Most importantly it was one of the best games I have seen him play in terms of disposal and hurt factor with some really impressive, penetrating kicks inside 50, setting up a couple of goals for teammates. An over-age player, Brayshaw would have to be in consideration at some clubs for his pure ball winning ability and his strength to make an impact when forward.

#29 Joel Amartey – An impressive game rotating through the ruck and up forward, needing to play more minutes in the midfield after Hayden McLean was concussed and taken from the ground. He started forward and took a great diving mark with his set shot from 35m out going straight through the middle. He then influenced the contest around the ground, showing off his athleticism to win a heap of hitouts and became the link-up man in transition from the midfield to the forwards. One of the best games I have seen him play.

#30 Hayden McLean – He took a huge contested grab and hurt himself doing so, with his kick on goal powerful, but missing. He presented up forward, but was not as influential as in other games, then came off concussed in the third term and did not play any further part.

#74 Nathan Murphy – The weekend’s game was the first time I have seen Murphy play live and I am sold. He was really strong in the opening moments with some deadly darts inside 50 and looked really slick along the wing. He went back later in the game and was good one-on-one and took some great marks. I thought his ground coverage was great, and he is not afraid to back himself in the contest. The one knock I would have is that he is still raw and learning aspects of the game having come from a cricketing background. With the ball he is fine, but without it there were a couple of moments where he looked uncertain of whether to shepherd a teammate or go for the ball himself. But I expect that will come with time and certainly with ball in hand, Murphy was ultra impressive.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Geelong Falcons (Matt Balmer)

Dandenong Stingrays:

#6 Aiden Bonar – Was impressive throughout the contest and spent more time in the midfield as the game went on. His pressure was very high and he laid some very strong tackles. Has presence around the contest and showed that he has a decent burst when he needs to use it. Took a strong contested mark in the third quarter and was able to find the ball around the ground. Bonar was willing to provide multiple efforts, including a great passage of play in front of recruiters on the wing – where he was able to make multiple efforts and attempt to win back the ball by applying pressure on the Geelong defenders.

#25 Oscar Clavarino – Played one of the best games I’ve seen him play, marking with ease in the defensive 50. Was also pushed forward late, but his intercept work was one of the reason that the Falcons struggled to kick goals. His usage was good on his right foot and provided a few rebound 50s.

#26 Tom Murphy – Continued his strong form showing his ball winning abilities through the midfield. Covered the ground well and his defensive efforts were good – not only dropping back to help out in defensive 50, but tackling hard through the midfield. Hitting form at a good time.

#35 Tom Freeman – Played as a third tall rebounding defender for the Stingrays and whilst most of his possessions were in uncontested situations – he reads the play well and his positioning was good. Has some burst of speed too.

Geelong Falcons:

#4 Gryan Miers – Had a quieter game than usual, not winning as much ball as he has done in some games this season. Spent most the day inside 50, and his follow up and pressure work was good. Laid some strong tackles in the wet and his hands in close were effective.

#13 Ethan Floyd – Had a superb run down tackle in the first quarter and was able to get off the chain on the outside as one of the Falcons’ best. Showed off his agility on the wing and was willing to take on opponents with his speed. Booted a great left foot goal from outside 50 and pumped the ball long on multiple occasions.

#16 David Handley – Had five scoring shots on goal – but unfortunately only managed to convert one – which was an absolute beauty booted from mid air 10 metres out. Showed off his long right foot kick at times and his leading was good – able to get space between himself and his opponent to mark the ball unopposed.

#19 Matt Ling – Started the game exceptionally well, but was quieter after quarter time. Used his good agility to effectiveness, as well as his pinpoint left foot pass. Took multiple kick outs for the Falcons and had a few good spoils when he needed to defend in one-on-one situations.

#38 James Worpel – Didn’t have as much impact than he has in other games – but his contested game was again on show. His tackling and pressure in the contest was very good and he was often found at the bottom of the packs throughout the game. In the wet, he was able to clear the ball and bang it long inside 50 to one of the Falcons’ tall targets.

#41 Tom McCartin – Leapt at a few balls throughout the day and you can tell he’s the brother of St Kilda’s Patrick. Had some good defensive efforts and was involved in a few score assists, getting the ball to teammates. Unfortunately, his day ended early suffering concussion.

#42 Cassidy Parish – Was strong on the inside and had plenty of early possessions in the opening half. Had good vision at times to find a target by hand in close and was another player that was willing to boot the ball out of the pack and get it going inside 50.

#46 Adam Garner – Pulled off a great contested mark in the opening quarter, as well as winning a free kick after being held – which he converted the shot on goal. However, once the rain came after half time, it was hard going for the Falcons tall.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Gippsland Power (Michael Alvaro)

Murray Bushrangers:

#4 Laitham Vandermeer – Amassed 25 disposals and seven clearances as one of Murray’s more consistent performers. Had a good mix of inside and outside possession, but his run and carry was what made him stand out on the day. Would like to see him finish off his bursts of speed with more kicks though, he opted to hand the ball off on the back of his runs and broke down the momentum of his move.

#7 Zane Barzen – Was a key link in the chain forward of centre for Murray with eight marks, one of which was a decent hanger on the wing in the third term. He chimed in with a couple of clever goals to cap off what was a solid shift overall. Needs to work on his defensive efforts though, as he didn’t clock a tackle despite having a strong presence up forward.

#11 Jy Lane – Lane was consistently the man moving the ball in and out of either 50 as he worked hard to take the game on and break the lines constantly. He worked well in that aspect alongside Langlands, while also quelling the influence of Jiath after quarter time on the wing.

#19 Will Donaghey – Lead all-comers in terms of disposals with 31 and was a key part in Murray’s moves out of defence. He collected a wealth of those possessions on the outside and often used his teammates to gather quick 1-2’s breaking away from stoppages. With 24 of his disposals counting as uncontested, it’s fair to say Donaghey’s strength lies on the outside, and he showed off his high footy IQ with some clever and opportunistic plays.

#21 Doulton Langlands – Langlands doesn’t often stand out in any particular areas, but this was one of his better games as he made his mark with some great run and carry. He’s a regular across half-back for Murray and he played that quarterback-type role perfectly as he gathered a wealth of uncontested ball and running bounces. He also impacted the scoreboard with his sole major and three score assists from some sharp inside 50 entries.

#30 Alex Paech – Paech was constantly a solid option up forward for the Bushies, but he struggled to reel in anything that came his way. While his hands aren’t the strongest, he does some good work at ground level and moves well for a key position player. He bagged two majors and was extremely vocal throughout the day, screaming ‘get around him’ from the bench whenever he could. Unfortunately copped a knock and limped off later on.

Gippsland Power:

#2 Nick Hogan – Part of the talented Gippsland midfield mosquito fleet, Hogan excited with some strong bursts from the stoppages and showed good clearance nous. Attended most of the centre bounces and helped his side to get on top with 8 clearances in a game-high 30 disposals. Played his part moving up the ground with 11 inside 50’s and some nice handball chains through the midfield.

#4 Changkouth Jiath – Was instrumental in the first quarter with 10 disposals, it seemed like Jiath was everywhere. Used his athleticism well to mark overhead and then break away along the wing, but just lacked a finish product. Needs to improve on his kicking if he wants to take full advantage of his damaging traits, which are outstanding. Also had a good battle with Jy Lane on the wing, rotating with Irving Mosquito throughout the game.

#5 Xavier Duursma – Duursma is as unfazed in combat as you’ll see any bottom-ager. Played his typical role in defensive-50, snuffing out opposition attacks both aerially and on the ground, while also providing plenty of rebound. He’s usually a composed kick but lost his head a couple of times today, turning it over in dangerous areas. Was still trusted with kick-in duties and put in a good shift overall down back.

#7 Will Stephenson – Was reasonably quiet in his loud green boots early on, but came to life after half time with more minutes in the midfield. He worked well at the centre bounces with Hogan, Porter and Quigley to get Gippsland on the front foot with a barrage of long inside-50 entries. Chimed in with three important goals and showed how clever he is around the big sticks, finding opportunities where not many would.

#19 Callum Porter – Arguably the best afield across the whole game, Porter capped off his consistent home and away season with a big performance. He was able to show off his inside and outside traits as a midfielder with some hard work in-tight followed up by streaming runs through the corridor. Continually popped up at the back of the centre bounces, either pumping the ball long or trying to break free of his opponents. Was an overall complete midfielder’s game today from the Gippsland star.

#41 Sam Flanders – Flanders was an absolute menace up forward and didn’t allow his opponents a moment of rest. Combined with fellow AFL Academy member Caleb Serong to amass four third-quarter goals which played a vital part in Gippsland’s second half breakaway. He lead the way in the defensive pressure stakes with some bruising tackles, but also showed some good finesse around goals despite kicking five behinds. Looks like a very promising type, and reminds me a bit of former Gippsland forward Tom Papley – who also wears the #41.

#42 Caleb Serong – The 16 year old hasn’t looked out of place at TAC Cup level and this game was no exception. Worked well in tandem with Sam Flanders inside forward 50 and chimed in with two crucial goals during the third term after moving from the wing early on. Can take a good overhead grab and does some smart work around goals, he’s another to watch in the coming years.

Scouting notes: Herald Sun Shield Grand Final

ST BERNARD’S College have won the Herald Sun Shield, with a 16-point victory over St Patrick’s College at Simonds Stadium on Wednesday.

In appalling first half conditions, both teams could only muster a goal each – with the wet conditions making for a sloppy first half.

The sun came out in the second half and St Pats held a narrow one-point lead at three-quarter-time but St Bernard’s captain Jake Riccardi lifted his team with two final quarter goals to help them to the victory.

Matt Balmer’s scouting notes:

St Patrick’s College:

#6 Jordan Johnston – Begun the day as the deepest forward for St Pats, playing majority of the game inside 50. Took a mark early before it rained and on occasion when he did play as an inside midfielder he just banged it forward. Overall, wasn’t a great day for the forward – not helped by poor delivery in the wet conditions.

#8 Scott Carlin – Was one of the candidates for the best player for St Pats, with a stellar first half in the midfield. He was willing to get dirty and win the ball, as one of the cleaner players throughout the day on his right foot.

#16 Nicholas Stuhldreier – The St Pats captain played as an inside midfielder, but often rested up forward. He copped a knock early from Noah Balta, but was able to recover and find plenty of the ball in the midfield.

#25 Tom Scott – Won best-on-ground honours for St Pats with his rebounding work in defensive 50 a highlight. In his green boots, he often repelled many of the St Bernard’s attacks. Was a real rock in the backline throughout the game.

#29 Dale Cox – Didn’t see a lot of it in the opening half, but he had a flash of brilliance in the third term in front of the fans in the stands. A run down the wing and a step around an opponent right on the boundary lines was outstanding and the play resulted in a goal 30 seconds later. Had a good run down tackle later in the contest and did have some moments that were outstanding.

#30 Aiden Domic – Played most of the game across half forward or on the wing but didn’t find as much of the ball as he has in some of the GWV Rebels games this season. Snapped a point late in the contest, but was smart at times in the last quarter knowing that he needed to take the game on when they trailed on the scoreboard.

St Bernard’s College:

#1 Lachlan Sholl – Starred on the wing in the opening half and was a close contender for their best player. Used the ball well on his left foot early and made a nice pass to hit Jake Riccardi in the first quarter. Covered the ground well and was willing to drop into defensive 50 and take multiple intercept marks. Was in the best players and hardly missed a target all day.

#2 Will Jury – Another player who played a strong game and could’ve been considered for the best-on-ground honours. Found the ball through the midfield and was able to get the ball moving forward. Hit most of his targets during the game.

#22 Xavier O’Halloran – The Western Jets bottom-ager started slowly, but his work in the contest especially in the second half was game changing. He just wanted to win the contested ball in the centre. His centre clearance in the final quarter was simply elite, that led to a Jake Riccardi goal. Also had a very nice one handed pick up in the last quarter and simply wanted it more than his opponents.

#26 Daniel Hanna – Brought the ball to ground level in the wet early, allowing some of the St Bernard’s smalls to get it going forward. Took a nice mark in the second quarter. Had a few nice clean pick-ups from ground level throughout the day that were very good for a player of his size. Won a free kick in the last quarter and continued to present all day.

#30 Jake Riccardi – Booted three goals for the day in what was a low scoring affair. He took a few very good contested marks during the contest and his follow up at ground level was good. Has strength to be able to stand up when being tackled and in one passage he was able to get a kick inside 50 that led to a score assist. His snap goal in the fourth quarter got the St Bernard’s boys going and the captain had a very good game.

#31 Noah Balta – Begun the day in the ruck and that’s where he played most of the game. He was far too tall to start with against his St Pats opponent and leaped over him & often just thumped the ball forward. Didn’t go too much inside 50 as he mostly stayed inside the arcs controlling the play. Took a very good contested mark in the third quarter and another mark late in the final quarter all but iced the game. He did miss a snap on goal on his left foot, but mostly went long 50 metres + on his right boot.

Scouting notes: Herald Sun Shield Semi-Finals

SANDRINGHAM played host to the two 2017 Herald Sun Shield Semi-Finals, with St Patrick’s College and St Bernard’s coming out as the winners. The pair will face off in the Grand Final next month at Simonds Stadium. In blustery conditions, a handful of AFL clubs were watching on and Matt Balmer provides a few of his scouting notes from today.

St Bernard’s 8.12 (60) defeated MacKillop College 7.3 (45)
St Patrick’s College 14.7 (101) defeated Essendon Keilor College 1.2 (8)

Matt Balmer’s scouting notes: 

#12 Connor Thar (MacKillop College) – Found the ball consistently throughout the day and took multiple marks in the final quarter. Slotted a great goal in front of the changerooms in the last quarter from the pocket. Had an eyecatching run early in the game in front of the stands but was let down by his kicking which was poor.

#13 Josh Sloan (MacKillop College) – Has a bit of X-Factor about him showing off some speed and agility in the opening quarter. He won a free kick for a push in the back in the second quarter and goaled on a tight angle in front of a few recruiters hiding in their cars. Was one of the few MacKillop forwards who caused St Bernard’s trouble when the ball went down there.

#15 Patrick Brookes (Essendon Keilor College) – Showed off his strong vertical leap early in the contest but misread the flight of the ball in the breeze and jumped well below where the ball ended up. Marked better around the ground and his ball usage was ok on his right foot. Often was stuck at full-forward early when the ball wasn’t down there. Laid a very good tackle in the pocket and won a free kick – but missed the chance at goal, kicking it on the full in the second quarter.

#16 Nicholas Stuhldreier (St Patrick’s College) – Was quiet in the opening quarter but worked his way into the contest as St Pats began to dominate. Had a nice long inside 50 off his right foot in the second quarter, and his ball winning was pretty good. He played as an inside midfielder, but he would’ve finished the day with more uncontested possessions than contested.

#26 Daniel Hanna (St Bernard’s) – Booted the first goal of the game and was often the deepest forward. With the strong breeze his poor set shot technique did cause some trouble and resulted in him kicking a few points in the second half of the game that were kickable shots.

#29 Dale Cox (St Patrick’s College) – Cox had only returned from a trip back to Halls Creek earlier this week and showed off his trademark speed and agility early in the game. Picked up the ball in the first quarter and dished it off to a teammate close to goal who put it through the big sticks. Didn’t win a lot of the ball throughout the day but does present a lot of X-Factor when he’s around the ball.

#30 Aiden Domic (St Patrick’s College) – Took a good mark early in the contest and found plenty of the ball through the midfield. At times his ball use was a bit shaky, but he was willing to pass it off to teammates and run hard to get back the ball up the ground. Covered the ground well in a decent showing for the outside midfielder.

#30 Jake Riccardi (St Bernard’s) – Picks the ball up cleanly at ground level but at times early in the game he rushed his kicks. Took a nice overhead mark in the opening quarter and slotted the goal. The third quarter was when he flicked a switch booting three goals. His first saw him clunk a nice contested mark and he goaled the set shot, then Riccardi booted one off his left foot with the wind helping the ball come back through the goals. His third goal for the quarter saw him pick the ball up and snap it truly from 30m out.

#31 Noah Balta (St Bernard’s) – Balta started the game as the loose man across half back, but moved into the ruck where he spent most of his time throughout the contest. He showed off his exceptional vertical jump and on most occasions decided to bang the ball forward rather than tapping it to his midfielders. At times did try to do too much by trying to take on multiple opposition players and his decision making was questionable with ball in hand. Did roost it long off right foot at times especially with the wind.

U16s and Futures Scouting Notes

PUNT Road Oval played host to two games on Saturday afternoon, with both Victorian Under 16 teams having a final hit out in the lead up to the NAB AFL Under 16 Championships which begin in a fortnight.

The Vic Country Under 16 team took on the ‘Diversity All Stars’, with players made up from the Laguntas and Jim Stynes programs – while Vic Metro Under 16 played the Vic Metro Under 17 Futures team.

Matt Balmer’s scouting notes:

Vic Country 9.13 (67) defeated Diversity All Stars 5.4 (34)

Vic Country:

#5 Isaac Grant – One of the better Vic Country players playing inside 50. Has speed and good agility making him a tough opponent. The right footer booted the first goal of the game – but at times he did rush his disposal which decreased his efficiency by foot. Overall looked a decent prospect to track over the next two years.

#8 Thomson Dow – Another Dow looks likely to come into the Vic Country program – with the athletic wingman showing promise. In the last quarter, he showed good dash and burst from the stoppage. The right footer was ok by foot – but early in the game did double grab a few of his disposals.

#11 Sam De Koning – Played as a tall defender and was impressive. Took three marks in the opening half, always marking then playing on straight away by hand to the runner next to him. Got to the right positions and was good overhead.

#16 Tom Richardson – Booted a few goals as a lead up forward. Ball drop was a bit wonky but he was able to be effective more times than not. Has a good burst over 5m which allows him to get distance between himself and the defender.

#18 Hayden Young – By far the best player on the ground playing as a centre half back. He used his long left foot to effectiveness and was superb overhead. He provided multiple rebound 50s and possess good hands in close. One of the better 16 year olds I’ve seen running around eligible for 2019.

#23 Cooper Stephens – Not to be confused with the Under 18 player Cooper Stephens – Stephens was a good mark overhead and kicked it well on either foot. Runs very well and had multiple inside 50s for the game.

Diversity All Stars:

#4 Cody Harrison – Played as a inside midfielder and laid multiple tackles. His pressure was also good and had quick hands in the contest. Took a good mark inside 50 and booted the goal.

#6 Dale Cox – Played mostly on the wing and early in the game tried to use his pace but was tackled when he attempted to take on one too many players at speed. He has a laid back kicking technique but majority of the kicks were effective. One passage coming out of defensive 50 late in the game was impressive.

#10 David Smith – Lined up at the centre bounce – but he is definitely more of an outside player than inside and was moved very quickly after that. His decision making does need some work and he often went to ground rather than keeping his feet. Won the ball at speed and was willing to throw out a fend off to get the Country players out of his way.

#16 Cassius White – The Under 16 was definitely the player that caught the eye and looked to be someone worth tracking. Had three dashes on the wing and down the middle of the ground that saw no Country player able to get near him. Took the game on and was solid off his right foot – but it was his elite speed that made him really stand out.

#17 Phillip Soloman – The bottom ager showed plenty of promise and will be someone Richmond will be hoping to develop (and get him approve and onto their list of Next Generation Academy players). Had his knee strapped but it didn’t slow him down on the outside. His agility was very good and at one stage got around five country players with ease, weaving through them all. Hands were good at the contest and was solid off his right foot.

Vic Metro Under 17 Futures defeated Vic Metro Under 16s (by approximately 60 points)

Vic Metro U17:

#1 Cody Hirst – One of the better players on the ground (especially in the opening half), using his speed as an outside midfielder/small forward. The small Eastern Ranges product has a nice left foot and hit the scoreboard on multiple occasions. One to keep an eye on.

#2 Shane Skidmore – The right footer played up forward and through the midfield, showing a good burst of speed to get distance between himself and the opposition defender. Took a good mark inside 50 and convert the chance. Kicking was just ok.

#3 Zak Butters – The Western Jet played a good game but was often brought down by his kicking – which was poor due to his ball drop. Took some good marks inside 50 and had multiple chances on goal missing a few. Laid a very strong tackle in the first half and his pressure was good. A nice intercept mark inside 50 was great in the third quarter.

#6 Xavier Fry – Has some speed and booted a goal from the goalsquare in the opening quarter. Was a good mark overhead, but another let down by his kicking – was very right foot dominant and didn’t appear to have a left foot. One that I’ve heard big wraps about, so looking forward to tracking him into next year.

#10 Brayden Gillard – Has impressed with the Northern Knights early this season. Shanked a kick on goal in the third quarter – but did manage to boot one for the game. Was composed with ball in hand.

#12 Liam Stocker – The Haileybury College student was great against Scotch College last week and did some nice things across half back for the Futures team. Willing to go in at the contest and is a hard handballer.

#23 Stefan Radovanovic – Best player in the second half of the game. Has an exceptional burst of speed and a huge third quarter really saw him lift his game. Made a great pass to Mason Fletcher late in the game using his vision to spot him up forward. Played on the inside in the final quarter and continued to pressure through the midfield. One to watch.

#26 Mason Fletcher – Played as a tall defender in the first half, before switching forward. Finished the day with four marks and was willing to block to help his teammates at either end. Kicked a brilliant goal in the third quarter in front of the crowd but was caught behind on a few occasions up forward. Looks a better defender – but at times I question his mobility as he does have an awkward running style.

Vic Metro U16:

#8 Daniel Mott – Was willing to take the game on on the outside and possessed clean hands. The right footer used his speed and agility throughout the game and flashed in and out.

#10 Lachlan Potter – Has serious ‘wheels’ on the outside. The right footer was decent by foot – but occassionally let down by a high ball drop. In traffic he showed his smarts.

#11 Finn Maginness – Missed last weeks school game for Scotch but return and played a decent game for the Under 16s. Started on the wing and used the ball ok off either foot. His hands inclose were good and has good vision right around the ground.

#15 James Ross – Was excellent in traffic and provided good follow up for the Metro team. With ball in hand he showed good composure.

#17 Liam Witts – Played as a defender and intercepted on a few times. Provided good rebound on his left foot.

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 9

ROUND Nine of the TAC Cup continued over the weekend and we had scouts watching five of the games. Read their scouting notes below:

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Geordie Nagle – Arguably the Dragons’ best in the hard fought loss. Nagle played a good role in the back pocket and used the ball well. Is trusted with the kick outs and has been one of the Dragons’ best when they’ve been understrength with players at school football.

#22 Quintin Montanaro – Bounced back after a few disappointing games in a row carrying a toe injury. Clean ball user on either foot and can run hard all day. Handballing in close was better than previous weeks.

Eastern Ranges:

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Took a while to get into the game mixing between forward and playing through the midfield. Finished strongly and was one of the Ranges best booting a vital goal early into the last quarter.

#18 Sam Hayes – Was a class above in the ruck. Won multiple hit outs and looked dangerous throughout the day. Had stints up forward and booted what turned out to be the match-winning goal with not long remaining in the contest.

Geelong Falcons vs. Gippsland Power (Peter Williams)

Geelong Falcons:

#7 Harry Benson – I was most impressed with his performance. Each time I’ve seen him live he seems to get a little bit more damaging. He’s worked on his inside game further as well as his defensive pressure which will undoubtedly show in his tackle statistics and key performance indicators at club level. Benson got his hands dirty on the weekend and played more inside shovelling out handballs, while still providing the run on the outside. The next key for him is working on his kicking under pressure because when having time and space, he is a damaging kick, but under pressure he tends to rush his disposal more than he needs to. One of, if not the best in my eyes for the Falcons.

#12 Bayley Cockerill – Seemed to get better as the game wore on. Played mostly behind the ball, he showed courage going back with the flight, and provided a running option at half-back. Was not afraid to keep the ball moving and kick long to contests. After a quieter start, he provided a real highlight later in the game with a snap from the pocket under pressure. His work rate and ability to just keep pushing throughout four quarters was good.

#17 Cooper Stephens – Played on Irving Mosquito at half-back and had his work cut out for him defensively. But despite Mosquito providing a few highlights, Stephens provided good run and drive out of the back half. He was often used as the designated kick out of defence, or the link-up handball between the back 50 and the midfield. Often combined with Harry Benson or Bayley Cockerill to get the ball moving.

#22 Sam Walsh – A player who just does not panic. Walsh showed plenty of composure in another impressive performance returning to the the Falcons’ line-up from injury. At times he does have that ability to make time stop and assess his options, almost doing a 360 degree spin to work out what to do next. He was often the player that would mark in the middle of the ground and switch play to either wing. Used in a chain of handballs or to penetrate inside forward 50, he got a tick from me for his game. Walsh is still a bottom-ager so I look forward to seeing him over the next 18 months.

#41 Tom McCartin – Aside from his strong marking, the one thing that stood out for me was his ground level work. His clean hands and ability to pick up a ball off the deck, particularly at full speed like he was in one instance in the first quarter was impressive. Despite playing key forward and not kicking a goal, I thought McCartin was one of the Falcons’ best using his work rate and ability to provide a contest to help his side. I think his work at ground level and ability to pick the ball off the deck with clean hands adds a point of difference to other key forwards in the draft.

#46 Adam Garner – Simply too big and too strong for his opponents. Played on a few different Power players, but the result was the same, his contested marking is a treat, sticking up the big gloves and if he didn’t mark it, he always brought it to ground. A straight line forward, for me the next step is his ground level work and decision making as at times he seemed to be a tad slow with disposing of the ball in play. With six goals and a plethora of big marks, Garner could be pleased with his performance in almost hauling the Falcons over the line.

Gippsland Power:

#5 Xavier Duursma – The Power midfielder certainly caught the attention of opposition players with his booming kick and fierce tackling. Moved well across the ground and was one of Gippsland’s better players through the middle. Had a couple of shots on goal, kicking one and narrowly missing another. Has a forward presence with good marking ability and reading of the play. There was an instance in the first term where it looked like he might have panicked a little under pressure and rushed his disposal, but I did not see it again so it could have been a once-off. A solid overall game from Duursma.

#6 Aiden Quigley – The AFL Academy member has a presence around the ground with his tackling and repeat efforts. He showed good decision making throughout the four quarters, but his execution let him down at times. His tackling technique is one that many players could learn as he pins the arm away and forces the umpire to award him a free kick. Seemed to drift out of the game late, but he was far from alone as Geelong took control in the last quarter. Overall he showed good signs defensively, just needs to work on his kicking.

#7 Will Stephenson – This kid just lives for the big moments. Seemed to be quiet in the first half, but in the second half when Geelong was hitting back, he won a couple of cruical one-on-one contests, including one of the last centre clearances. Matched on Cassidy Parish who is arguably the best or one of the best TAC Cup clearance players in the game, Stephenson read the flight of the tap perfectly and kicked inside 50 to hit-up a target with the Falcons pushing hard. They were able to chew vital seconds off the clock and his influence late was a key reason why they held on. Stephenson has plenty of courage and is not afraid to match it with bigger players and go back with the flight.

#9 Irving Mosquito – Everyone has told me how exciting this kid is and after an indifferent start seeing him live at QEO earlier in the season, I was sold by his highlights against the Falcons. A huge vertical leap dangerous around goals, Mosquito kicked a fantastic goal off a step from a tight angle and almost had two with a dribble shot from the boundary just missing. Just oozes X-factor and has great decision making. My knock on him earlier in the season was his ability to rush his disposal at times not realising how much time and space he has, but he did not have that problem on the weekend. Was injured in the last quarter after a late knock following a kick, so hopefully his injury is not too serious.

#19 Callum Porter – A perfect game in terms of offensive and defensive impact from the tough, inside midfielder. Had four tackles within the first minute of play and would drift back to half-back and take the intercept mark, then somehow drift forward and kick four goals. He would have racked up 20 plus disposals, 10 plus tackles, eight to 10 marks and of course four goals, to really put a stap on the game. His ability to mark in a contest against bigger bodies was really telling and he just never took a backwards step. Stood up when Gippsland needed a hero and he provided the forward presence when the Power’s forwards were being well held. Clearly best on ground and a game he is unlikely to forget anytime soon.

#24 Sean Masterson – A quiet game, but stood up at crucial times similar to Stephenson. Nearly every involvement he had was important, whether it was a towering mark at centre half forward or a spoil and intercept at centre half back, Masterson really showed his versatility on the weekend. Played up both ends and while he might not have the strength of his opponents, he has a good leap and is a solid field kicker. He also took a huge mark late in the game and iced the clock, showing his maturity.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets (Duncan Robertson)

Oakleigh Chargers:

#8 Toby Wooller – Far too strong and mobile for his Jets opponent. Played a solid game booting two goals in a game where he mostly played inside 50.

#24 Sam Harte – The bottom ager is a classy small midfielder who used his speed on multiple occasions to burst away from the stoppages.

#35 Jack Higgins – Was wasteful in front of goal and could’ve well kicked seven if he had’ve kicked straight. His quality is obvious and the Jets had no answer to his crafty ability through the midfield and up forward as a small forward. Finished with four goals.

Western Jets:

#19 Cameron Rayner – One of the standouts for the Jets, in a solid game by his high standards. Powerful, classy and quick. His ‘speccy’ was play of the day and he booted three goals. The Jets suffered wherever he was moved from, winning the contested ball when he played in the midfield and looking dangerous inside 50 with his contested marking when he went forward. Was unable to settle into one particular role as was switching between forward and midfield constantly throughout the day.

#35 Blake Graham – Worked hard as a lead up target inside 50, making multiple leads but didn’t get much supply.

#37 Hamish Murphy -Tried hard all day in defence with multiple inside 50s for Oakleigh. His intercept work was good and he possesses a very strong left foot which helps him rebound the ball effectively.

#38 Buku Khamis – Played an excellent game as a midsized forward. Was classy and elusive when he had ball in hand. Is a strong body at the contests and has good hands to dispose of the ball.

Calder Cannons vs. Northern Knights (Billy Friend)

Calder Cannons:

#1 Brad Bernacki – An inspiring best on ground performance from the Calder captain today, as he willed his team to their first home victory this season. Bernacki collected 39 touches in the midfield whilst applying constant pressure around the ball. The tough inside midfielder found pockets of space around the ground but his most influential work was done at the clearances.

#2 Dylan Landt – Accumulated in the midfield with expertise and kicked the game sealing goal with a left foot snap. He displayed his endurance and work rate throughout the contest. His football smarts are very good and he was often able to get to the right place at the right time.

#4 Mohammed Moustafa – Didn’t collect a lot of the ball, but his strength in the contest really stood out. Moustafa shook off tackles and was clean when the ball was in dispute.

#8 Lachlan Sholl – Played an outside role to perfection as he pushed back to take marks in the hole and found space to accumulate possessions all around the ground. Was efficient by foot.

#11 Jake Firebrace – Made up for a number of first half errors and fumbles with a solid second half performance. His sidestep and ferocious pressure was important for Calder heading inside forward fifty

#12 Noah Balta – Appeared to be a level above his opponents for most of the day. His athletic leap was a standout as he took three spectacular overhead marks both in defence and in the forward line. He kicked two crucial goals in the last quarter to ice the game after playing the first half at centre half back and was second best to Bernacki on the day.

#26 Mason Fletcher – Was commanding in defence and held the Northern key forwards at bay. Took some strong intercept marks and made critical spoils. Disposed of the ball well coming out of defensive 50.

#29 Jake Riccardi – Played well as the focal point of the Cannons’ attack for most of the day and finished with three goals. His hands were strong as he took contested marks, but also lead hard to present an option for teammates.

#33 Jack Evans – Played an almost identical role to Mason Fletcher. Evans was commanding in defence and held the Northern key forwards at bay. Took some strong intercept marks and made critical spoils. Disposed of the ball well coming out of defensive 50.

#39 Jesse Firebrace – Excited in the first quarter as Calder’s live wire in the forward half, kicking two early goals. His small frame didn’t stop him from imposing himself around contests and his speed & agility was a real weapon for the Cannons.

Northern Knights:

#5 Marcus Lentini – Was the delivery man in the back half and his run & dash was important. He rebounded the ball well and took a couple of intercept marks.

#7 Jack Petruccelle – A fairly quiet performance by his lofty standards, but he did show glimpses where he went forward and took two strong contested marks and kicked a goal. His impact in the midfield was subdued.

#10 Brody Bell – Played well as a loose player behind the stoppage and was clean with his disposal. Didn’t have a huge impact but had his moments.

#11 Ethan Penrith – His speed and agility was lethal deep forward and he kicked an outstanding goal beating three opponents in the third quarter. He tried hard all day and was one of Northern’s best with his tackling pressure and pinpoint field kicking.

#15 Anthony Fable – Probably kicked the goal of the day as he showed off his lightning speed and long kick. His tackling pressure was a level above most of his teammates and his service into the forward line was lethal.

#32 Patrick Howe – Kicked two goals in the first quarter and continued to be dangerous as a third tall as the game went on.

#34 Matthew Harman – Fought hard in the ruck without much help and won most of the hitouts today. His hitout to advantage rate was not high as the Cannons midfield got on top especially in the second half.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers (Billy Friend)

Greater Western Victoria Rebels:

#1 Dale Cox – Showed agility across half back and pressurised the Murray forwards constantly. He needs to improve his kicking but showed impressive signs.

#4 Aiden Domic – His hard running was a highlight and he kicked a superb midfield goal where he impacted the contest on the wing and ended up with the ball in the forward line seconds later. Was one of the leading ball winners on the ground.

#6 Keegan Gray – Found plenty of space on the wing and probably gained the most metres of all his teammates. Showed impressive endurance to cover the ground and collect possessions at ease.

#9 Flynn Appleby – Displayed overhead marking prowess. He was swung forward and took strong marks, kicking two goals.

#16 Joe Dodd – Kicked a goal and did a lot of good work up the ground.

#19 Jackson Taurau – Was outmuscled by Johnston on several occasions but fought back with impressive spoils in the second half. At 188cm was undersized against the Murray key forwards.

#22 Naish McRoberts – Stood out in the Rebels midfield as his clean hands resulted in many clearances. He kicked a booming goal from fifty metres out and was a shining light.

#24 Matty Lloyd – His disposals were classy and impactful as Lloyd once again caught the eye. He was best on ground in the first half but his impact was limited as the Rebels were overwhelmed in the second half. Kicked a nice goal too.

#40 Tylar Watts – Busted his guts all day and presented as a strong option up forward. He kicked three goals and won most of his one-on-one duals with the Bushranger defenders. When asked to pinch hit in the ruck he made some nice contributions shovelling the ball out by hand to outside runners.

Murray Bushrangers: 

#1 Daniel Johnston – Was a man mountain at full forward and got the better of Taurau and co. He kicked three goals in the second quarter and was too big and too strong. Johnston also provided an imposing physical presence when he pinch hit in the ruck through laying tackles and even clearing the ball on a couple of occasions.

#3 Benjamin Kelly – Monstered his direct opponent in the ruck and easily won the share of the hitouts. He showed off quick hands to dish the ball off to his midfielders but mainly impressed with his physicality.

#7 Zane Barzen – Showed off his impressive vertical leap by taking mark of the day in the first half. Brazen kicked three goals in a minute, (yes, you read that correctly) and shined today as one of Murray’s most dangerous forwards.

#8 Jacob Koschitzke – Read the fight of the ball excellently in defence, saving the day on a few occasions by repelling the Rebels’ entries forward.

#18 Hudson Garoni – Did not find much of the ball but did show potential taking two strong overhead marks.

#19 Will Donaghey – Showed off his flexibility today rotating between defence and midfield, and he accumulated the ball with ease.

#21 Doulton Langlands – Showed poise coming off half back and was one of Murray’s best. He took a number of intercept marks in the defensive 50 and was a partner in crime with Samuel Beasley.

#27 Harrison Jones – Started off slow in the first half but was monumental in the third and fourth quarters to orchestrate the second half smashing. Jones showed a combination of toughness and class around stoppages, and appeared to be a real leader for Murray. Kicked a great goal from 40m out too.

#42 Samuel Beasley – Was terrific rebounding the ball out of defence. Demanded the ball and didn’t let anyone down as he showed his proficiency by foot. Beasley also showed a gritty determination with one percenters and spoils in the backline.

Weekend That Was – Round 7

A DROUGHT-BREAKING win to Calder Cannons on the weekend has ensured every TAC Cup club will have sung the song at least once by the midway point of the season.

Calder won 18.9 (117) to Gippsland’s 12.13 (85), with bottom-age talent Jack Bytel racking up 34 disposals (17 contested) at 73.5 per cent efficiency, to go with 10 clearances, five marks, three inside 50s and a goal. Mitch Podhajski became a defender-cum-forward booting six goals from 23 disposals and 10 marks, while Brad Bernacki had 20 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s and four rebounds in a strong all-round game.

For Gippsland, Aidan Quigley put in another strong performance with 20 disposals, five inside 50s and three goals, while Callum Porter had 18 disposals (88.9 per cent efficiency), six clearances, six tackles and booted a goal.

Meanwhile at the other end of the ladder, there was no drought broken for the impressive Geelong Falcons who continued on their merry way with a 65-point win over Northern Knights. The Falcons moved to 7-0 to start the season and rarely looked like losing after a seven goals to one second term. Northern fought back in the third to the Knights’ credit, but Geelong ran out too strong in the last with six goals to one in a 16.16 (112) to 7.5 (47) win.

Cassidy Parish’s sensational form continued with 33 disposals (72.7 per cent efficiency with 18 contested possessions), 12 clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal with his season likely to have him high, if not leading the Morrish Medal at this stage. Others that impressed were Lachie Noble who had 28 disposals, eight marks, five clearances and five inside 50s, while Bayley Cockerill and Matthew Ling were again prominent in the midfield. Ethan Floyd played further up the ground and had 24 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals.

For Northern, speedster Jack Petruccelle had 27 disposals (12 contested), five marks, nine inside 50s and three clearances in a pivotal link-up role, while Sam Binion and Christian Farchione both amassed good numbers with nine clearances, six inside 50s and two goals between them.

Murray Bushrangers locked in second spot with a commanding 23-point victory over Sandringham Dragons. Level at quarter time, it was the Bushrangers’ second term of four goals to zero which set up the victory, running out 13.11 (89) to 9.12 (66) winners.

Ben Paton continued to stake his claim as a potential over-age draftee notching up 26 disposals, two marks, two tackles, four inside 50s and a goal. Will Donaghey and Angus Hicks were once again busy, with the latter having 20 disposals (65 per cent efficiency), nine tackles, five inside 50s and two rebounds.

Speaking of impressive over-agers, Hamish Brayshaw could not have done much more in a losing team on the weekend. The Sandringham Dragons inside midfielder notched up 32 disposals, 11 marks, eight clearances, eight tackles, five inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals. Quintin Montanaro had 22 disposals, while Max Lohan’s 10 rebounds from 20 disposals and Aaron Trusler’s two goals from 18 disposals were also among the better Dragons’ efforts.

Eastern Ranges moved back into the top eight with another victory, this time a 29-point win over Bendigo Pioneers. The Ranges jumped the Pioneers at Box Hill in the first term with a six goals to two quarter. From there it was relatively even with the Ranges only winning the next three quarters by five points in a 14.13 (97) to 11.2 (68) win.

Thomas North earned the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week with 43 disposals (74.4 per cent efficiency), six marks, 12 clearances, two inside 50s, four rebounds and three goals for the Ranges. Kye Quirk was also ultra impressive with 31 disposals and nine marks, while Jaidyn Stephenson had a season-high seven clearances to go with his 22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and four tackles.

It must have been a game for big numbers with Pio Darby Henderson also suffering leather poisoning courtesy of 41 disposals, six marks, two clearances and nine rebounds in his best game in the TAC Cup. Along with Henderson, Laine Fitzgerald and Matt Harvey both recorded 27 disposals, with Harvey also booting two goals.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels survived a third quarter scare from the Western Jets to post an eight-point win over their opponents in the first game at the newly developed Eureka Stadium on the weekend. The Rebels led in a close game up until the third term when Western booted three goals to one to take a 10-point lead into the final break. The Rebels hit back with a four goals to one final term and finish the game off 11.5 (71) to 9.9 (63) win.

Aiden Domic was silk once again, as he amassed 19 disposals at 84.2 per cent efficiency, eight marks, seven tackles, six inside 50s and a goal. Others that were solid included Trent Reed with 21 disposals, nine tackles and five clearances and Lloyd Meek who provided more of a forward target in the match with 15 disposals, four marks, nine hitouts and a goal. Dale Cox had his best game of the year with 12 disposals, five marks and nine tackles.

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round Seven

For Western, it was another promising game from Nicholas Stuhldreier who had 34 disposals (76.5 per cent efficiency), four marks, six clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and 11 tackles. Others that stood out included Connor Thar with a season-high 28 disposals, four marks and five clearances, as well as Jaden Rice (24 disposals eight clearances, eight tackles).

In the televised game of the round, Oakleigh Chargers enjoyed a huge 88-point thumping win over Dandenong Stingrays in their retro strips. Wearing the purple and gold, Oakleigh stormed to an early lead and did not take the foot off from there, booting at least four goals in each quarter to run away with a 20.8 (128) to 5.10 (40) victory.

Matt King stood up for Oakleigh off half-back with 28 disposals, 10 rebounds, seven clearances, four marks and four tackles, while Sam Harte had 28 disposals, eight inside 50s, five marks, five clearances and a goal as the key transition player into the forward line. Others that would battle for the best votes were Jack Higgins and Toby Wooller who both hit the scoreboard with four goals, with Higgins having 90 per cent efficiency in a game where he found more time and space to work his magic.

For the “Redlegs” Hunter Clark was busy once again with 27 disposals (although just 43 per cent by foot), five marks, eight clearances, six tackles and two rebounds. Mitch Cotter continued his work in an under with 27 disposals (19 contested), five tackles, nine clearances and four inside 50s. Bottom-age ruck/forward Bailey Williams looked the best of the lot early, booting Dandenong’s first three goals and finishing with four from 10 disposals, six marks (four contested) and 36 hitouts.

After seven rounds, Geelong is clearly the team to beat with seven wins and a superior percentage of 208. Murray six four points clear in second ahead of Oakleigh, followed by Sandringham and Northern with four wins apiece. The Rebels, Eastern and Dandenong round out the top eight with last year’s four sides that missed finals – Gippsland, Bendigo, Western and Calder at the tail-end of the ladder.

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 5

ROUND Four of the TAC Cup continued over the weekend and we had scouts watching four of the games over the weekend. Read their scouting notes below:

Eastern Ranges vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels (Peter Williams)

Eastern Ranges:

#2 Thomas North – Worked hard all day around the ground, found plenty of the football and showed good agility. Notched up the clearances and was a key reason Eastern was in the game early. Has a trademark turn where he spins around to change direction.

#7 Jordan Lynch – Really strong performance from the over-ager. He is tough as nails, but clean at ground level. Showed quick hands at the stoppage to handball under pressure. Was reliable with the ball and took a few marks backing into the contest and has a penetrating kick which he used to kick inside 50. Wasn’t afraid to aggravate the opposition with a hilarious trash talk to Jordan Johnston saying “That’s the worst head I’ve ever seen”.

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Kicked an early goal but then was largely unsighted in a quiet game for the AFL Academy member. Ended up playing full-back on Dale Cox in the final term and actually picked up the ball cleanly and bombed out of defensive 50 in a rare highlight. Not a game to remember for the talented utility who is one of many contesting for a top five pick.

#17 Cody Hirst – Good pace and showed it off with a clever snap for a goal on the run in the second half.

#19 Josiah Duncan – Finished the game with four goals and was clearly the Ranges’ most dangerous forward. Seemed to be good in the air, strong above his head and quick on the lead. A good size at 187cm and stood up when many others were quiet.

#26 Harrison Nolan – Was one of Eastern’s best in the first half rebounding many of the Rebels’ attacks. Then moved to the midfield in a surprise move in the third quarter and the Rebels dominated. Returned to defence and held it up, but was too late and showed what a crucial cog he is back there. Played a Ben Reid role with intercept marks and using his long, accurate kick to clear the danger in defensive 50.

GWV Rebels:

#1 Dale Cox – Still got a lot of improvement to be in consideration, but built a bit in the second half. Provides good pressure on the ball carrier and is super clean with his pickups – just grabbed a ball off the wet deck with one hand – just needs to do more for longer.

#2 Cal Wellings – A typical Wellings performance. Just good across the ground, booted four goals and lifted his team. One of the unluckiest players not to be drafted last season and he would be leading many of the over-agers this year. His kicking seems to have improved a bit and showed a bit of penetration throughout the game. Copped a few knocks and just kept getting up. A lionheart performer.

#3 Scott Carlin – A clean player who runs off half-back. Doesn’t panic and can change his kick midway through his action. Didn’t see too much penetration on his kicking, but uses it well enough even if his disposals are mostly short.

#4 Aiden Domic – Not one of his better games. Seemed a bit off and was not that clean at ground level. Still found a fair bit of the ball and got into space, but wasn’t as classy as usual. Not sure if he was under the weather but that was what it looked like. Will no doubt learn from the game and be better for the run.

#8 Aaron Shepherd – I don’t get excited about players off a game, but boy did this kid excite me. Reminded me of Josh Begley last season the way he led at the ball, had Velcro mits and clunked a series of marks. Was able to kick a goal from outside 50 off a couple of steps and constantly provide an option. He’s earned his way onto my watch list this season.

#10 Jordan Johnston – It seemed like today was the day that “JJ” finally came of age. I thought he had potential last season and would show it in bursts, but Saturday’s game it came to the fore. Six goals and just a dominant performance in the air and at ground level. His opponents were constantly wary of him and he nailed all his set shots. Just a great run-up, he is one I hope builds on this and goes on with it because he’s been threatening to break out for some time. Think Jamie Elliot, that’s the excitement he provides.

#13 Thomas Berry – This kid is a serious talent. Just gives the don’t argues and the fend-offs like players and specky bags. He wins plenty of his own ball, both inside and out, and has a penetrating kick. Brother of Jarrod, I think he could be even better and was one of the Rebels’ best with Wellings in the midfield. Had a lot of intercept possessions too and owned a wing on the day.

#15 Trent Reed – Another workman like performance from Reed. Continually pushes to each contest, gets knocked down and gets up again, always presenting and has quick hands. Had a chance to kick a goal but it fell short and that’s the area I’d like to see him improve on, become a more damaging player forward of centre and impact the scoreboard like a Cal Wellings.

#23 Lloyd Meek – A genuine chance to be drafted as an over-ager. Meek is strong in the ruck and presents an option up forward. He works hard and constantly provides second and third efforts. His biggest plus is his awareness around the stoppage where he seems to find his midfielders and one example was grabbing the ball out of the ruck, turning around and handballing to a running Jed Hill who sped off, which showed his awareness and vision.

#24 Matty Lloyd – Clean defender who is tasked with the kick-in duties. Always loves a good play on to get the ball out of the defensive 50 – and picking up a kick in the process – but has the license to do so as he does have penetration on his kicking and will hit his target more often than not. The next step for me is to see how he goes in contested situations as there were a couple where he might have rushed his disposal a little bit. But in terms of courage and ability to position himself in an area where he can find the footy from a quick kick forward by the opposition, Lloyd gets a tick from me.

#25 Charlie Wilson – Bottom-ager who has that class around goals. Kicked a couple of snap goals and a set shot goal and did his job. One to watch over the next 18 months and while he didn’t find it as much as others, was mostly forward and just clean in that forward 50.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Geelong Falcons (Peter Williams)

Oakleigh Chargers:

#5 Callum Searle – Racked up the football across half-back and through the midfield, mostly uncontested but was a key player behind the ball rebounding for the Chargets along with Louis Cunningham. Had one bad passage where he turned it over straight to the Falcons from deep inside defensive 50 which resulted in a goal. Was largely tasked with kick out duties.

#8 Toby Wooller – Really good movement for a bigger bloke and presents up that high half-forward. Didn’t get as much as his 22-possession game, but will be a prospect watched over the course of the season. It was impressive to see him work hard at the stoppages, winning a few clearances rather than as a deep forward at times.

#13 Daniel Stanford – A key target for the Chargers and that medium size 189cm who plays taller. He missed a couple of set shots but kicked a third in a busy opening term. Stanford showed impressive positioning and use of the body, bringing the ball down in front if he didn’t mark it.

#19 Jordan Troani – Busy as a bee around goals. Showed versatility in his ability to lead and mark or snap, with a couple of impressive goals throughout the day, including a first quarter highlight tight against the boundary line with only a split second to kick.

#35 Jack Higgins – Found plenty of the football but did have a tendancy to get on his right foot. Had plenty of attention from opposition players and to his credit got back up each time. Always busy darting from contest to contest, looking for the quick handball to a teammate out the back to clear the stoppage.

#39 Atu Bosemvulagi – A bottom-age player who showed plenty of signs to say he might be one to watch over the next 18 months, with good body use one-on-one and movement, as well as a strong pack mark. It was hard to believe he measures in at 178cm.

#42 Louis Cunningham – Thought he was unlucky not to get drafted last season and he looks to still have the attributes this season with a piecing left foot kick that can travel the distance. He also has good agility and vision, positioning himself well behind the ball and is one who could be used to break down zones at AFL level.

#57 Riley Collier-Dawkins – A player who I hadn’t seen before the game, but was super in the middle. Started the day standing next to Cassidy Parish and won the ball in the centre of the ground. His first quarter was very good and I’m looking to see the bottom ager as the season progresses.

Geelong Falcons: 

#1 Lachlan Noble – Plays a small forward’s role to a tee with his defensive pressure, courage and able to kick goals.

#7 Harry Benson – A really fierce tackler with a long boot. Kicked a good goal after winning a holding-the-ball free kick, showed strength with a fend-off tackle and was busy between the arcs.

#13 Ethan Floyd – Showed some precise kicking skills with confidence in the defensive half and was sensible with his ball use under pressure. Is an attack first, defend second defender, showing plenty of dash.

#38 James Worpel – Worked into the game and is usually found right at the coal face shovelling the ball out to teammates by hand. Worpel showed good lateral movement.

#40 Hayden Elliot – Appeared to be more involved than in his top-age year and gets around the ground. Played in defence and took some good marks.

#42 Cassidy Parish – Another impressive game by the big bodied inside midfielder. Just has the ball on a string, strong around the contest and gets his arms free from the tackler to handball. His kicking is one area that is always pointed out as an improvement, but he has good athleticism and a quick closing speed when going to tackle.

#44 Jordon Reid – Liked his game where he played in the forward 50 continually presenting as a target. Reid crashed packs and brought the ball to ground even if he didn’t mark them all the time.

#46 Adam Garner – Imposing forward at 194cm/93kg and took some great grabs. Finished off his hard work in front of the big sticks and will be one to watch throughout the season.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Calder Cannons (Brandon Hutchinson)

Dandenong Stingrays: 

#2 Hunter Clark – The hands on this boy would make you think he’s a magician; managing to get to a contest seemingly out of nowhere. He played a quieter game than what we are used to but a solid one nonetheless. The Cannons drew him deep in the first half and he was often isolated away from the play. Clark took plenty of strong grabs in the second half, helping to keep the Cannons back after they began to show a bit of fight. The youngster ejected the footy with ease, creating strong runs along the flanks for plenty scoring opportunities.

#3 Jamie Plumridge –  ­This kid had no trouble at all ending his first quarter with a goal. His handling of the ball and the way he moves through his opposition is astounding. He effectively moved the ball through the middle, presenting no problem and zig-zagging his opponents. This young man was one of the best on ground, helping to keep the Dandenong’s midfield a well-oiled machine.

#42 Jai Nanscawen – Coming out strong in the first quarter, Nanscawen proved to be someone to hit up in the Dandenong forward line. He presented plenty of strong leads, ending up with two goals by the end of the match.

#50 Riley D’Arcy – This big fella had an excellent first half, cracking in the first few goals, ending the second quarter with four under his belt. His presence in the forward line demanded the ball, muscling out his opponents with ease. His kicking remained sharp up until the beginning of the third where D’Arcy punted through three consecutive behinds. The Cannons’ pressure kept his disposals thin for a while, but he managed to play a more supporting role as he pushed up the field.

Calder Cannons:

#2 Dylan Landt – He played a pivotal role in the second half, slowing the Stingray’s run down. Landt’s movement and speed through the backline remained consistent throughout the match. His command of the backline drove momentum in their direction, managing to set up a few goals himself. His intelligence on the field is easily recognised in his keen ability to break through pressure and set his midfield up for a smooth counterattack.

#33 Jack Evans – Much like the rest of the boys, Evans came out slow in the first half. Though as soon as that siren sounded for the third quarter, he was off like a rocket. Making his presence known immediately as he slotted away two to put up a fight against the Home team. Hungry for more, he later went onto kick another in the fourth as well popping up a beautiful screamer in the closing moments of the match. Finished the day with three goals.

#39 Jesse Firebrace – It was impossible to keep your eyes off him today. His intelligent placing off the ball set the Cannons up for numerous goal scoring opportunities, kicking the first for his team in the second half. Throughout the match Firebrace laid several strong tackles which implied intense pressure on the Stingrays’ backline, and impressively shrugged off two men attempting to apply their own. If there’s one thing he showed today, it’s that we should keep a close eye on him these coming weeks.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Gippsland Power (Matt Balmer)

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Geordie Nagle – A rock in defence in the first half, with multiple marks in the second quarter. Fought hard and was one of the better Dragons players before half time.

#7 Aaron Trusler – Kicked a good goal early thanks to an “off-break” bounce. His second goal was superb, running through the middle and finishing from 45m He also spent a fair bit more of the game in the midfield with the ‘weakened’ Dragons team.

#8 Will Walker – Took a smart intercept mark about 80 metres from goal, before a long kick to hit a Dragons teammate. Spent majority of the game on the inside and played a solid game throughout the day. He also kicked a great goal on the run in the first quarter.

#22 Quintin Montanaro – Played on the wing and was judged the Dragons best player. Took a while to get into the game but was always the player in the defensive half of the ground that the Dragons looked to use whenever they switched or went to attack. The Power’s pressure was superb throughout the day and at times Montanaro missed some of his handballs under pressure.

#30 Hayden McLean – Took two marks in the opening two minutes of the game but disappointingly opted to pass them off in kickable positions for goal. Was influential due to his size and the Power not having anyone with strength to match him in the air. Kicked his only goal for the day in the second quarter and rucked for periods.

Gippsland Power:

#2 Nick Hogan – Missed a kickable shot in the first quarter, but unfortunately his day ended early not reappearing after half time with an injury.

#5 Xavier Duursma – One of the more exciting Power players. Kicked a huge goal in the context of the game on the verge of half time, laying plenty of tackles in an attempt to win the ball back. Appeared to hurt his groin in the third quarter – but continued to fight hard playing inside 50 in the last quarter.

#6 Aidan Quigley – One of the best games I’ve seen Quigley play. He laid tackles in the middle and through the forward 50. But it was a moment in the final term which summed up his day – The ball came inside 50 with Quigley laying two tackles to pressure two different Dragon players helping the Power get the ball back and slot the goal. Two great games in two weeks is a positive sign for Quigley.

#7 Will Stephenson – Again gets the job done and people are beginning to take note. While his size is always going to count against him, he fought hard and got into the right positions inside 50. He bagged four goals for the day, including a few nice snaps close to goal.

#9 Irving Mosquito – With a big group of Power parents in the stands, Mosquito provided plenty of entertainment up forward. He was millimetres away from clunking the TAC Cup mark of the year in the second quarter. At times he just bombs it forward when he’s outside 50, but close to goal is where he does his best work. Kicked a fantastic goal in the last quarter where he kept his feet unlike the Dragons defenders to bag his second goal for the afternoon.