Tag: Darcy Gardner

PREVIEW | NAB League guns return to stacked squads after representative action

AFTER fulfilling their representative obligations last week, a bunch of draft eligible guns are set to return to the NAB League in Round 11. Five of the weekend’s six fixtures are set to be played on Saturday, starting with a trio of intriguing matchups which bounce down at 1:00pm across the state.

Headlining the inclusions in those games is Western Bulldogs father-son prospect Sam Darcy, fresh off his six-goal haul in last week’s trials. Having previously started down back for Oakleigh, he has unsurprisingly been named at centre half-forward for the Chargers’ clash with Greater Western Victoria (GWV).

While Darcy is a massive in, the Chargers look like they will be without skipper Nick Daicos, who continues to be managed. Nonetheless, they should be buoyed by Lachlan Rankin‘s return among a raft of other Vic Metro Under 19 squad members. Tasmanian Sam Collins also gets an extended run in midfield after impressing there last time out.

GWV also has plenty of its own representative talent returning to the fold, led by first round prospect Ben Hobbs. The combative midfielder has played just three games this season amid injury troubles, but has served a reminded of his high-end talent over the last fortnight.

With Marcus Herbert, Sam Breuer, and returning Allies hopeful Nick Hodgson part of the primary centre bounce mix, Hobbs has been named to start at half-forward. The Rebels have quite the spine too, bookended by Josh Gibcus and powerhouse skipper Josh Rentsch.

A solid midfield battle is brewing between the Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons, who meet at Highgate Recreation Reserve. Mitch Knevitt, Noah Gribble, and Cooper Whyte slot straight into the Falcons’ engine room, while Zac Taylor and Josh Goater join the in-form Flynn Lakey in Calder’s midfield mix. The potential matchup of Calder forward Sam Paea and Geelong defender Oscar Morrison could also make for an exciting watch.

In the day’s other 1:00 start, Murray Bushrangers host Northern Knights in Wangaratta, with plenty of players to watch on each line. After lining up on Daicos a couple of weeks ago, Josh Ward‘s next assignment may come against Bushies top-ager Zavier Maher. The latter’s inclusion has squeezed Charlie Byrne to the wing, while Josh Rachele will start forward and Tom Brown returns in defence. Twin Northern talls Sam Grant and Anthony Caminiti also come in for their second games in the navy, black and white.

Sandringham has named a bumper midfield trio for its trip down to Tasmania on Saturday, with Josh Sinn, Campbell Chesser, and Finn Callaghan to attend the opening centre bounce. Chesser makes his long-awaited return from a knee injury, while Sinn did so last week in the NAB League, and Callaghan has been in red-hot form on both sides of midfield.

The competition for spots sees Charlie McKay shifted to half-back and Lachlan Benton starting on the bench, while debutant Lachlan Brooks may ply his trade as a small defender. St Kilda Next Generation Academy members Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens are also among the Dragons to watch. For the Devils, Sam Banks is a massive inclusion after missing a chunk of football through injury, as is Darcy Gardner who will look to crack a rather settled midfield once again.

After an impressive five-goal haul in Vic Country colours, Dandenong Stingrays midfielder-forward Judson Clarke would have been one of the first on Nick Cox‘s team sheet for his side’s clash with Eastern Ranges. The showcase Saturday night game also sees Will Bravo and Connor Macdonald return to the hosts’ midfield.

Jake Soligo will be the go-to ball winner for Eastern as Tyler Sonsie recovers from bone bruising, with a tough test ahead. Corey Preston has been named at half-back after impressing there with his ball use during last week’s trials, but intercept marking machine Tyreece Leiu remains absent as he nurses a corkie.

In Sunday’s standalone fixture, the Western Jets travel to take on Gippsland Power in Morwell. The hosts should get plenty of drive from their starting centeline of Max Walton, Will Papley, and Cooper Alger, while Jai Serong in a welcome inclusion up forward. Western welcomes back match-winning small forward Paul Curtis, with the likes of Liam Conway and Harrison White also handy additions to a midfield which will operate under Geelong-listed ruck Paul Tsapatolis.

2021 Allies Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 Allies Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with the 39-man squad featuring players originating from four different states and territories. Made up of prospects from the Northern Territory, NSW-ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania, the Allies are set to field a largely competitive team at the upcoming National Championships, boasting a strong core of top-agers. In a quirk not many other squads will have, there were no bottom-agers selected.

Among the talents from each state are Northern Academy products, with the GIANTS, Swans, Lions and SUNS academies represented, along with the Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmanian NAB League side. With stints in the Victorian pathways competition, all five academies have been able to enjoy an extended run of competitive action, with the top echelon of players also filtering into the state leagues.

NSW-ACT and Queensland are set to be the most represented states, with the former producing 15 squad members – including three from the Murray Bushrangers – while the latter lays claim to 13. There were six Tasmanians included, while four hail from the Northern Territory.

There are a few prospects playing outside of their native zonings, with the likes of Patrick Voss and Sam Collins (both Oakleigh Chargers), Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons), Oliver Davis (Adelaide SANFL), and Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder), and Ned Stevens (SUNS Academy) all competing in seperate states. That is not to mention the four Murray Bushrangers representatives; Charlie Byrne, Cameron McLeod, Toby Murray, and Ryan Eyers.

Standouts in the squad include GIANTS Academy gun Josh Fahey, a dashing defender who earned the President’s Medal as best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. Versatile tall, Stevens is also part of the national academy, as is fellow SUNS Academy member Austin Harris and Tasmanian Sam Banks, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

The Allies are set to begin their carnival on July 8 against Vic Country, playing host to the Victorians at Metricon stadium. They then travel to face South Australia at Adelaide Oval on July 24, before taking on Western Australia in Blacktown on July 31, and ending at GMHBA Stadium on August 14 by taking on Vic Country.

Below is a preview of how the Allies team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Charlie Byrne (MB) – Ryan Eyers (MB) – Josh Fahey (GWS)
HB: Bodhi Uwland (GCS) – Jack Briskey (BL) – Sam Banks (TAS)
C: Jack Peris (NT) – Josh Green (GWS) – Saxon Crozier (BL)
HF: Patrick Voss (GWS) – Ned Stevens (NT) – Jye Menzie (TAS)
F: Max Pescud (GCS) – Will Bella (GCS) – Austin Harris (GCS)
FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS) – Brodie Lake (NT) – Oliver Davis (TAS)

INT: Tahj Abberley (BL), Sam Collins (TAS), Cameron McLeod (MB), Toby Murray (MB), Bailey Reeves (GCS), Toby Triffett (BL)

EMG: Toby Alker (SYD), Angus Anderson (SYD), Charlie Bowes (BL), Sam Frost (GWS), Darcy Gardner (TAS), Harrison Grintell (GWS), Thomas Hofert (GCS), Jack Johnston (GCS), Brinn Little (GCS), Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT), Kye Pfrengle (SYD), Liam Puncher (SYD), Felix Rogers (SYD), Pierce Roseby (SYD), Baker Smith (TAS)

FULL SQUAD:

Tahj Abberley (Lions Academy)
Jack Briskey (Lions Academy)
Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
Toby Triffett (Lions Academy)
Jack Johnston (Suns Academy)
Brinn Little (Suns Academy)
Austin Harris (Suns Academy)
Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy)
Max Pescud (Suns Academy)
Bailey Reeves (Suns Academy)
Will Bella (Suns Academy)
Thomas Hofert (Suns Academy)
Josh Fahey (Giants Academy)
Sam Frost (Giants Academy)
Harrison Grintell (Giants Academy)
Josh Green (Giants Academy)
Paddy Voss (Oakleigh Chargers/Giants Academy)
Jack Driscoll (Giants Academy)
Toby Alker (Swans Academy)
Kye Pfrengle (Swans Academy)
Liam Puncher (Swans Academy)
Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
Angus Anderson (Swans Academy)
Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
Sam Banks (Tasmania)
Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers/Tasmania)
Baker Smith (Tasmania)
Oliver Davis (Adelaide/Tasmania)
Jye Menzie (Tasmania)
Darcy Gardner (Tasmania)
Andy Moniz-Wakefield (Northern Territory)
Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Northern Territory)
Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons/Northern Territory)
Ned Stevens (Suns Academy/Northern Territory)
Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers)
Ryan Eyers (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Murray (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 4

THE 2021 NAB League season made its return over the weekend after a month-long hiatus, with budding draft prospects coming back with experience across a range of competitions. While the start of school football across Victoria has nabbed a few stars, plenty of talent remains in the competition, which has also been bolstered by the addition of five Northern Academies.

Round 4 was stretched out to nine games, making the squeeze for team of the week (TOTW) spots all the more tight. Four teams – the Brisbane Lions Academy, Gippsland Power, Bendigo Pioneers, and Northern Territory Thunder – go without a single representative in the final squad of 24 this week, with Murray Bushrangers the only region to boast a high of three players after downing Oakleigh.

>> SCROLL to see the full team

The Bushies are represented by running defender Paddy Parnell (back pocket), four-goal hero Cameron McLeod (centre half-forward) and returning midfielder Zavier Maher (bench), all of whom are mid-season draft candidates. Another in that category, Ned Moyle also made the squad for his efforts in the ruck for Oakleigh, with Chargers captain Nick Daicos also selected once again after collecting a monster 44 disposals.

Draft Central Player of the Week Fraser Marris skippers the side in Round 4 having taken hold in midfield throughout Greater Western Victoria’s (GWV) victory over Eastern Ranges. He won the vote in front of Northern Knights bull Joel Trudgeon, with the pair featuring among the starting centre bounce combination.

The two also have teammates spearheading the attack, with Rebels skipper Josh Rentsch named at full forward alongside Northern debutant Anthony Caminiti (forward pocket), after both kicked five goals in their respective victories. Barring the academy prospects, Caminiti is also the sole debutant to have made the cut, a rare effort.

There is a total of six Northern Academy members in the team of 24, with GWS, Gold Coast, and Sydney all laying claim to two representatives. The Suns also join Oakleigh and Sandringham Dragons as the only losing sides to have multiple players picked this week. Finn Callaghan (wing) and Charlie McKay (half-back) are those Dragons in question, both ticking over 30 touches in midfield but being selected in positions they are familiar with.

Check out the full team below, including three emergencies. Who else was stiff to miss?

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS TOTW: ROUND 4

FB: Sam Frost (GWS) – Brad Rauter (GWS) – Paddy Parnell (MB)
HB: Charlie McKay (SD) – Tyreece Leiu (ER) – Bodhi Uwland (GCS)
C: Noah Gribble (GF) – Joel Trudgeon (NK) (vc) – Finn Callaghan (SD)
HF: Zac Taylor (CC) – Cameron McLeod (MB) – Felix Rogers (SYD)
FF: Anthony Caminiti (NK) – Josh Rentsch (GWV) – Paul Curtis (WJ)
FOL: Ned Moyle (OC) – Fraser Marris (GWV) (c) – Nick Daicos (OC)

BENCH: Austin Harris (GCS) – Zavier Maher (MB) – Darcy Gardner (TD) – Liam Conway (WJ) – Angus Anderson (SYD) – Miller Bergman (DS)

EMG: Cobi Maxted (BP) – Harrison White (WJ) – Ben De Bolfo (NK)

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 4

THE 2021 NAB League season resumed over the weekend after a month-long hiatus, with a handful of Northern Academies entering the fray and making for a bumper nine-game weekend. It meant budding AFL Draft prospects from around the nation were on full show, with some staking their claims for mid-season draft honours. Check out the top performers from each fixture in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 4 snapshot

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. WESTERN JETS

By: Declan Reeve

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes 

A knock-on effect of the outs that Sandringham had saw Howes play majority of the game on the wing, where his speed, skill and ball winning were well highlighted in what was his most prolific performance of the season to date. As a winger, he still managed to find ways to impact on the inside with his quick and clean hands at ground level, as well as to teammates, tearing up the Western midfield at various points in the game. His positioning and ability to time his run led to some highlight moments, winning crucial clearances in the early stages of the game while also gathering intercept marks around the ground, with one leading to the first goal of the game. 

#17 Finn Callaghan

With some starting midfielders out due to injury or VFL selection, Callaghan got the chance to shine with a move inside, playing the game out as a major ball winner for the Dragons. What stood out most with Callaghan’s game, was his stoppage craft and clearance winning in tight space, demonstrating this best at stoppages around the ground where he’d read the ball off the rucks hands, and then burst free from opponents and look to switch the play across ground with his strong kicking. Able to balance his disposal well, Callaghan also looked to get his defenders involved in offensive play, encouraging teammates to run past and receive the handball to then kick long. When Sandringham were looking to get back into the game in the fourth quarter Callaghan’s defensive workrate shone, even taking a kick in late, then running up and winning the clearance that resulted from the kick to the wing.

#42 Luke Cleary

Continued to do the things he does well, playing to his strengths with his run from behind setting up plenty of opportunities, linking up well with teammates Callaghan and Howes with his handball receive work when he pushed up the ground. Cleary positioned himself really well in the backline, especially after the initial first two goals from Western in the third quarter, to be one of the first players to the ball every time it entered defensive 50, looking to handball it to a teammate out the back. 

#52 Luke Nankervis

Splitting his time between the forward line and midfield, Nankervis Stood out with his ability to keep his hands free through traffic, or when being tackled, to get a handball off to a teammate and keep Sandringham moving with the ball. Bringing a creative spark around goals in the second half, he kicked two highlight reel worthy goals, using the wind to his advantage to get them from tricky spots along the boundary. When he was given his opportunity on the inside he looked good, being clean below his knees and maintaining that cleanliness through traffic.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Always capable of having an impact if given even the smallest of opportunities, Soylemez continued his goal kicking ways with 3 goals in the tight contest, kicking 2 of them in the second quarter to give Sandringham a lead heading into half time. He was able to find the goals from almost anywhere when in the forward 50, with a couple of shots falling just short or being touched, with a little refining on finishing, Soylemez could’ve had 5 or 6. 

#66 Charlie McKay

With Hipwell selected for Sandringham VFL, his spot as the major contested ball winner for Sandringham opened up for McKay who has been forced into a defensive role prior to this game. Not looking to waste his opportunity, Mckay impressed with his constant attack on the ball and opponent around stoppages, leading to a game high 37 disposals and playing a big part in Sandringham’s attempt to claw back the lead in the fourth quarter. Perhaps lacked some penetration with his skills at times, but looked to move the ball to the right spots.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

Perhaps Western’s most consistent player throughout the day, White was a constant driver from the midfield, looking to create dangerous plays around stoppages with his speed and agility. This agility was shown throughout the day, with plays where he’d get through packs with the ball, avoiding tackles, a pretty common occurrence through the game. His use by foot was particularly impressive as well, able to follow up that dancing through packs with pinpoint kicks to targets inside 50. Got himself two goals in the scoring frenzy third term, with the first being the most impressive as a snap under pressure from about 50 out.

#26 Cody Raak

Returning from the NAB League Break with added VFL experience, the mid-season draft prospect had a solid performance as a composed figure in the Western defence. He was rarely caught behind his opponents, but managed to close down the distance well and spoil. He used the ball exceptionally well by foot, especially in the defensive half, where he’d look to switch the play or slow it down to assess his options. As usual, he intercepted well throughout the game, pushing off opponents, especially in the last quarter, to impact the ball further up the ground and keep the pressure on.

#32 Paul Curtis

Started the game fairly quiet as the ball was around the Sandringham forward half for majority of it, still managing to get a couple of tackles inside 50 when it came down. It was the third quarter in particular where the Jets piled on 8 goals, with Curtis putting in 4 of those for his side. Whilst not a tall player, he played as a lead up target, with his leading patterns near perfect, getting his first two goals by leading well to smart spots, where his midfielders could put it easily in front of him from the centre clearances. 

#35 Liam Conway

Was the main player in the Western midfield to step up in the second half, with his work around the ground crucial to Western’s massive third quarter. What was most evident, was how well he uses his burst around stoppages to get away from opponents, where with that separation he steadies himself well and uses the ball beautifully by foot, setting up the first goal of the third quarter with the first clearance, pinpointing the kick to teammate Curtis. He was also a threat aerially, with his leap and ability to hold the ball well making it hard for anyone to impact his marking without giving away a free kick. When he wasn’t the target of a kick, he played a crumbing role well at ground level around contests, often at the fall of the ball off hands and then able to take it cleanly.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

Comfortably the most dominant ruck in the game, Tsapatolis took full advantage in the absence of Jacob Edwards and Max Heath, the main Sandringham rucks, who were out with school football commitments. What was most impressive for Tsapatolis was how easily he found front position in the ruck contests to win taps relatively uncontested, taking full advantage of the height and size difference of his opponents. After Sandringham had started to read his taps he switched on and started to grab the ball from the ruck and bomb it long forward.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY

By: Liam Badkin

Northern Knights:

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Fantastic off half back, particularly in the first half when the Knights had most of the footy. His pace was damaging, as he sliced through the opposition with his inboard running, and was able to find a target by foot. For his size at 183cm, he showed his fantastic capability above his head, taking a nice intercept mark in the second quarter, and provided countless spoils that thwarted Brisbane attacks. He was closely checked in the second half, as the opposition realised how much damage he was capable of causing, but overall he combined very well with his fellow backmen, and was probably his side’s strongest performers on the day. Disappointingly, finished the game with an injured neck after smashing in hard to a contest, and had to be helped off.

#10 Ben De Bolfo

Much like Wilmot, was damaging off half back, combining with teammates to clear the ball out of defensive 50 with ease. Has a talent for reading the crumb off the marking contest, consistently reading the drop of the ball and finding a teammate to rebound the ball out of Brisbane’s forward line. Skills by foot and hand were solid all day, and his defensive work was fantastic too. Combined well with Wilmot on multiple occasions in the first half when the Knights half back line was the most damaging weapon in their arsenal.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

The Knights captain led by example in a masterful display through the midfield. You will struggle to find a better set of hands in the contest, as he was rarely wrapped up, instead using his strength to keep his arms free and find a teammate to clear the contest. From the very first bounce, he was prominent in and around the contest, never fearful of attacking the ball. His tackling pressure was immensely physical too, and his knack for timing his tackles perfectly to avoid giving away a free kick. Floated forward to kick a goal in the third quarter, and nearly booted two in a row, but his set shot faded right. Was clearly best on ground for the day, leading his side to a strong victory.

#26 Dominic Akuei

A strong defensive performance from the 192cm backman, as he delivered a performance that will give him confidence moving forward. Had a desire to create run from the backline, constantly looking to spread from the backline when his side gained possession. Kept his opponents quiet and wasn’t afraid to get in the face of his opponents. He was even thrown into the ruck in the last quarter and displayed his athletic capabilities. Had his moment of the day in the last term with a brilliant goal saving run down. A promising outing, and plenty to build on in future matches.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Worked his way into the game strongly after a quiet first term. A moment that seemed to kickstart his game came in the second term, when he won a contest on the wing, handballed to a teammate, ran hard to receive it back, before delivering a lace-out pass to a teammate inside 50. After this, he was finding himself in all the right positions, and proved hard to tackle on more than one occasion. Kept his players accountable and hurt them with his two-way running.

Lions Academy:

#4 Shatna Cashen-Harris

Looked capable of breaking the game open at stages, with his pace around the ball evident, and his pressure constantly making the opposition nervous. Quietened off after a bright first quarter, but still showed promising signs in glimpses throughout the match. Spent time rotating up forward and through the midfield, where he injected some desperately needed energy.

#16 Lochlan Harrop

Was impressive for the Lions on a tough day at the office. Started the match coming off the bench straight into the midfield, before moving to the backline where he truly excelled. Can read the ball outstandingly well, and while he didn’t mark them all, his willingness to launch himself at the Knights’ inside 50 delivery stopped plenty of scores and displayed tremendous courage. Missed a couple of targets by foot, but overall a gutsy performance that would have inspired his teammates.

#24 Connor Bulley

Was solid throughout the day, as he battled hard to defend the Knights’ attacks. Found himself on the losing side of a few contests, with near perfect delivery to his opponents, but never dropped his head. Was much better in the third quarter, when his side put themselves in the contest. Floated forward to boot a goal in the third term, and will be better for the experience.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

Geelong Falcons:

#4 Gennaro Bove

Played a four-quarter effort with his usual impact up forward, getting involved further up the ground when the Falcons were struggling to get it forward. He kicked his first goal in the opening minute of the second term from a set shot, and whilst his second did not come until the final quarter thanks to some clever crumbing, he still worked hard across the ground, set up another goal to Mitch Knevitt and took some strong grabs for a smaller player.

#11 Cooper Whyte

Had some eye-catching plays through the midfield and had more of an impact than his stats might suggest. Whilst he had lower numbers compared to some others in the game, he showed off a sweet sidestep, a front-on fend-off and a clean set of hands in close when being tackled. At times he might do too much, but he tried to create, which did pay off as well.

#12 Noah Gribble

Brought his own football to the game with 14 more disposals than anyone else on his team. Personified four quarters and kept working hard, and whilst at times his field kicking still let him down, his work rate and spread was what helped him stand out. He has a thumping long boot that can travel 50m, and he hit the scoreboard early in the second term with a great running goal after going from the wing to just inside 50. His defensive pressure and second efforts, as emphasised by his great smother on the wing 17 minutes into the fourth term was indicative of his effort.

#16 Charlie Ham

Found plenty of the ball working up and down the ground, and whilst he might have had more impactful performances before, got back into it after a few weeks off pretty well. A kick-first player, Ham was able to get back and help his defence, then drive it forward to put it to his teammates advantages when in transition, to finish with the second most touches on his team.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

A mixed performance where his best was unbelievable, but he had patches where he needed to get more involved. His ability to clunk contested marks, and athletically take control was really impressive, and he was able to play both through the midfield and up forward. He did cop a knock which limited him somewhat forward, but he still kicked a goal and did some nice things across the board.

#32 Noah Gadsby

It was great to see Gadsby back after a long-term injury, with the talent really standing out in the forward half. He slotted two goals, which included one from hard running and popping it through the goalsquare, then a second major off a step to slot it home early in the second quarter. In the same term he produced a well done run-down tackle at half-back, spreading well to the wings and covering the whole ground impressively.

GIANTS Academy:

#1 Harry Grintell

Ended up being the match-winner with three last quarter goals to help his side over the line. Spending time in the midfield then going forward to be that damaging player close to goal, Grintell really came alive in the final term after a quiet game to-date. His first goal came from a free kick nine minutes in, then responded to the Falcons’ major with a quick-fire goal two minutes later, then kicked the winning goal late in the game after running hard towards a bouncing ball, getting boot to ball in a flash to snap it through.

#19 Maximus Monaghan

Was arguably the GIANTS’ most eye-catching midfielder, working well at the stoppages and even sliding in to take a mark in the second term and converting the set shot. He applied plenty of defensive pressure and showed some nice moves out of congestion with clever sidestepping. He was able to adjust his kick mid-run which was impressive and overall had an impact for his team.

#21 Fraser Kelly

Kicked a couple of goals from 12 touches and only the two kicks. He kicked a very clever goal from 50m that caught the eye and bounced through well, then took a strong contested grab in the fourth term and nailed the set shot from 15m out. One moment he had that really caught the eye was his ability to win the ball at the coal face, and hold off delivering the handball until the second option which he did well to execute perfectly.

#24 Sam Frost

His defensive work was really impressive, gobbling up anything that came his way and then offered himself up as a rebounding option. His disposal at times was a concern, turning over a number of touches including one not under pressure. However his work without the ball and an ability to rebound out of the back 50 was a real highlight, as Frost picked up 12 rebounds – nine more than any other player on his team and served as an anchor back there.

#30 Brad Rauter

Another defender who had some great defensive work but just needed to sharpen his disposal, Rauter stood up well against pressure and was able to often win contests against multiple opponents. He laid a great tackle after trapping the ball in against an opponent – and beating another – to win a free kick, but unfortunately turned over the kick. He took some good marks and had some solid moments as a whole.

#31 Josh Green

Constantly involved inside 50 and always looked liked a damaging forward, he kicked an early major for the GIANTS dribbling one home from the behind post. He kicked his second in the third term with a snap around his body to cut the deficit to five points at that stage. He was always lively, pushing up and down the ground and racking up some big numbers rotating through the midfield and laying some big tackles. Possibly the more impressive aspect was his ability to get up the ground then get it inside 50.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

One of a few promising talls afield, Murray seemed to grow in confidence as the game wore on and showcased his upside rotating through the ruck and forwardline. He started in attack and was able to get separation on the lead while presenting out, with his reach also coming in handy while attempting overhead marks. While he may have some filling out to do to clunk those grabs more consistently and wrestle in the ruck, Murray’s athleticism and ability to adapt by using said trait was terrific to watch. One of his best moments was a holding the ball tackle at centre half-forward, which he used to hit up Cameron McLeod inside 50.

#5 Paddy Parnell

A run-and-gun type of rebounder out of defence, Parnell seemed to be in perpetual forward motion throughout his latest outing. There isn’t much of him, but the top-ager made an impact with his aggressive running patterns and timing when searching for handball receives. Tasked with taking the kick-outs, Parnell would often play on and weave through holes in the zone, getting as far as 40 meters at times before delivering by foot, or chaining by hand. While it sometimes invited unnecessary pressure, he would often opt to kick short so he could run on and get the hand off – such instances saw him move the ball across the defensive 50 arc, or all the way through the corridor. Parnell’s clean kicking skills were also a feature, and he used them to launch a nice goal on the fly in term two.

#8 Zavier Maher

In his return NAB League outing, the top-age mid-season draft candidate would have done his chances no harm. Maher found plenty of the ball in his usual midfield post, proving a strong body at the stoppages and dropping back well during the second half to accumulate a wealth of possessions. A couple of knocks which saw him overlooked at last year’s draft were his kicking skills and ground level cleanliness, which he still looks to be working on. He bombed out of the contest and sent forward a few floaters on the move, but looked clean by hand at the stoppages when fresh. His upside is clear to see, with great power and an explosive turn of speed allowing him to drive Murray forward out of congestion. Maher showed good smarts when using his body, and if he can continue to add polish to his game and impact away from the contest, will be very hard to deny at the next level.

#24 Cameron McLeod

Another promising top-age prospect, McLeod played a key hand in Murray’s win by allowing his side to apply sustained scoreboard pressure. The 19-year-old presented beautifully high up the ground, where he would mark and quickly move the ball on with terrific skills for his size. Most things he did on Saturday were clean, able to clunk the ball without much fuss and then keep the chain going smoothly by foot. The first of McLeod’s four majors came in the second term, where he waited down inside 50 and latched onto the bouncing ball before finishing well. He showed similar ground level nous in the following period for goal number two, dropping a mark but recovering quickly before snapping home once more. He booted two more well-struck goals, both coming from range with one being a set shot. Arguably his best outing to date.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Changes in the Oakleigh side saw Dib utilised almost permanently through midfield, where his physicality, turn of speed, and pressure game combined well. He looked to have brought in a good deal of confidence having gained VFL experience during the break, but made some costly skill errors coming away from the contest at full tilt. As the game wore on, he seemed to actively take more time before disposing of the ball, getting the legs pumping and choosing the right option. Dib also spent a bit of time up forward but was a midfield mainstay, setting a good tone at the stoppages and welcoming a bit of niggle.

#3 Nick Daicos

The Chargers skipper missed out on a berth with Collingwood’s VFL side having been managed over the break, but had the ball on a string in his return to action. His game-high 44 disposals were accumulated on the back of an unbelievably sound understanding of the game, which saw Daicos anticipate exactly where his next possession would come. He stayed active at the stoppages, looking to push off his man and burst through the contest to work a viable exit from congestion. Later in the game, he put more of a defensive hat on by anchoring the stoppages and opting against streaming to the front. A team-first kind of leader, he showed clear intent to bring his teammates into the game and that is why his numbers were so inflated, as he also worked to demand the ball back and push into dangerous areas. He won and received the ball in good spots, but did a lot of early work under pressure which limited the impact of his disposals – particularly by foot. While that was the case, you have to marvel at Daicos’ ability to consistently look a class above the Under 19 level.

#4 Sam Tucker

Another top-ager who made his first appearance in 2021, Tucker was a prominent forward figure.He got amongst the action early too, boosting his confidence with consecutive first term goals – both from long range. Tucker’s presentation up to the forward 50 arc allowed him to showcase his clean hands at ground level, operating in front position and making good of whatever kind of delivery came his way by running through the line of the ball, collecting, and disposing. He missed a few more chances to find the goals throughout the game, but overall made for a steady return.

#64 Ned Moyle

A true ruckman, Moyle again proved why he is one to watch at the upcoming mid-season draft. He looked to impose himself on the contest by using his strength against less mature opponents, nudging them under the ball and grabbing clearance after clearance. While some of his kicks under pressure can be scrubbers with little penetration, Moyle got better length on his disposals in this outing and also did well to dish by hand when appropriate. His work around the ground is also improving, but adjusting against more athletic rucks who won’t engage and can outmanoeuvre him will be the bigman’s next big test. Elsewhere, he followed up well and tackled hard, while also doing the one-percenters like shepherding to release his midfielders.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY

By: Liam Badkin

Dandenong Stingrays:

#8 Bayleigh Welsh

The Stingrays captain provided some of his signature run against the Suns. He frequently burst from deep in the backline to provide some pace for his side that proved crucial in the end. His kicking skills are to be marvelled at, as he never tried to do too much with the ball, just enough to hit a target and keep the ball in his side’s possession. Kept his opponents accountable playing on the likes of Shaye Walsh for the majority of the contest. His leadership was also fantastic as he marshalled the troops from half back.

#14 Will Bravo

Was busy throughout the midfield for the entire contest as he battled for the ball on the inside of the contest and was used as an outlet on plenty of occasions. Was willing to run both ways, as he worked hard into defence to clear the ball. Gathered a crucial ball in the second term and was able to clear the ball from the contest despite the pressure from Gold Coast forward Malachi Dumas. Displayed incredible endurance as he pushed from contest to contest, and worked hard for the entire game.

#17 Bryce Milford

The talented utility was used in the backline throughout the contest, as the Dandenong coaches attempted to take away Gold Coast’s height advantage up forward. Didn’t get too much of the ball, but certainly nullified the impact of his opponent, being matched up on players such as Will Bella at times. Moved to a wing where he displayed his ability to play multiple positions, where he used his height and endurance to create some space. His 195cm height gives him a significant advantage on his opponents on the wing and looked more settled out there.

#22 Mac Andrew

The Melbourne Next Generation Talent displayed his enormous potential in the contest as he proved to consistently prove a threat wherever he was placed. Starting the game up forward, Andrew launched at everything, showcasing his tremendous athletic ability. While he didn’t clunk any marks, he was vital in bringing the ball to ground for his smaller teammates. He later moved into the ruck, where he displayed outstanding leaping ability, but his follow up work was just as impressive. Andrew didn’t let his 200cm height prevent him from battling hard on the ground to fight for the ball. A player with no ceiling and one to keep an eye on.

SUNS Academy:

#4 Austin Harris

The AFL Academy member certainly lived up to the hype whenever he got the ball, using his magnificent foot skills to clear the ball from defensive 50, or find a teammate up the field. Splitting his time between half back and the wing, Harris stood out in both lines. When he was in the backline, he played as loose man at times, which is logical given his lethalness when the ball is in his hands. He took plenty of kickouts too, which showcased his booming boot that cleared the ball from the Stingray forward line. Delivered a bullet pass to Bella in the second term, but the forward couldn’t convert. Continues to impress.

#17 Bodhi Uwland

Was terrific in the backline, with an ability to compete in the air, and then mesmerise opponents when the ball was on the ground. Had an outstanding second term, as he appeared to pop up everywhere for the Suns, saving countless scores with his ability to read the play. Had serious composure when the ball was in his hands, and was able to weave his way through traffic despite the manic Dandenong pressure. Looked settled down back and likely impressed coaches with his performance.

#35 Will Bella

The talented big man worked his way into the game, despite close checking from the opposition. The delivery to him was scrappy at times, but he never stopped competing, and was able to draw a few free kicks, despite being out positioned in the marking contest. Booted Gold Coast’s first with an absolute ripper, as he gathered the ball at the point post, and snapped around his body from a tight angle to give his team some desperately needed spark. Didn’t spend too much time in the ruck, and was stationed around the 50m arc most of the time, allowing Hamann to play one out deep in the forward line.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power:

#5 Chance Doultree

Had the ball on a string all day for the Power and never stopped trying over four quarters, although his efficiency throughout the contest could lift as he was often forced into rushing or bombing long. He was able to have an influence on the game with two goals, including a thumping kick after a sidestep from 50m to nail a long-range goal. His penetrating kick was able to get his team out of trouble on a number of occasions, but just needed more composure at times to have the full effect. Could not fault his effort on the day though, as always.

#28 Zane Duursma

The excitement machine up forward, Duursma certainly had a memorable debut with three goals to his named. Playing as that permanent forward, Duursma kicked his first eight and a half minutes into the second term with a clever snap off the right boot inside 50. His net two came from set shots in the third term, the first from a mark and then the second from a push in the back. He pulled down a lovely contested grab in the fourth term on the wing, and looked the most damaging every time he went near it.

#37 Max Walton

While he has typically looked more suited to defence, Walton was able to expand his repertoire to include forward and through the midfield. He ran hard, was able to use the ball well under pressure and read the ball well in flight. He took a nice grab on the wing at one stage, chipped quickly to the boundary line playing on, ran hard and marked 60m out, but was pushed late so got a 50m penalty and nailed the set shot goal.

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

A real lively type in the forward half, Rogers was the dynamic link between midfield and forward, setting up a number of goal-scoring opportunities. He finished the game with a goal himself, but it was his work in transition getting it inside 50, and working hard around the ground that stood out, and he moved quickly in little bursts, finding space to mark and then keep it moving.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another one who worked hard through the midfield then drifted forward to hit the scoreboard with two majors, Roseby found plenty of the ball in the win. He was able to extract it from the contest and get it going forward inside 50, then kicked a couple of goals as one of a number of midfielders who went forward and converted important shots.

#10 Jordan Endemann

Had a great day up forward with three majors from 19 disposals and four marks. His first goal came from point-blank range, but his next one showed just what he was capable off, winning it at speed, grabbing it cleanly off the burst and a half-volley pickup, turning around and snapping for a major late in the second term. He was a dangerous forward and did all his work in the first half when his team was down moreso than adding cheapies at the end, which was impressive.

#26 Angus Anderson

Really stood out for mine as a prominent midfielder with high-level competitiveness and an ability to work through traffic. He made the odd mistake, but as a whole he showed off a penetrating kick and looked lively through the midfield, accumulating the ball at will and finishing with a goal for his troubles. A lot of his touches were in close, and he was the one shovelling it out to teammates, or bursting away, drawing an opponent and handballing to a teammate on the outside.

#28 Luke Giacometti

One to keep an eye on in 2021, Giacometti showed good footy IQ and an ability to read the ball well in flight coming off half-back. He tried to create from defence and move the ball in transition, and whilst he would make the odd mistake, he certainly knew how to find it and then keep it moving going forward. A player with upside for the future.

CALDER CANNONS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

Employed in a couple of different roles after his Young Guns outing, Clohesy started forward and was also sighted up on the wing this time out. He registered the second score of the match with a quick snap close to goal and hit the post in term three, making up a couple of Calder’s 20-plus minor scores. The top-ager found it difficult to stay involved at times, but timed his runs well to be a handball receive option on the outer, and adjusted well overall. One of his best moments came in the final quarter, as he propped and made a brilliant decision to kick inboard from the wing. With nothing on down the line, the poise to look and deliver into the corridor opened up the play for Calder.

#5 Zac Taylor

Arguably the best player afield, Taylor came up clutch with some wonderful exhibitions of skill and smarts at crucial junctures in the match. He started up forward and was a busy member of the attack, looking to get the ball on the move and working over his opponents to find space inside 50. He rotated into midfield during term two, where he got his hands on the ball more and showed terrific decision making on the uptake. His foot skills going inside 50 were superb, particularly during the final term where he made all the right choices and hit teammates on the lead. He was one who really stood up when it mattered and helped drag Calder over the line.

#8 Paul Pascu

This kid is one to watch for the future. Having participated in the Under 17 carnival and trialled for Vic Metro, Pascu slotted into the Cannons’ engine room and looked right up to the level. He looks a hardened ball winner who competes well and is pretty slick in possession, with a couple of plays seeing him fend off when exiting congestion or breaking forward with aggression. He capped his day with a clutch goal on the run during the final term, showing he is not afraid of the big moment.

#18 Jack Newitt

This was one of Newitt’s better outings for the Cannons this year, with his best traits coming to the fore more consistently. Stationed out on the wing, he was able to move forward dangerously and competed well in the air, showcasing his sticky hands and solid leap. When allowed more minutes inside 50, he presented on the lead and was found on multiple occasions, allowing for chances to add to his first term goal. He would eventually do so in the final quarter via a set shot, but did most of his good work earlier with clean hands and skills on display.

#25 Josh Goater

Goater was one of the bigger bodies in midfield, as per usual, and got to work by getting first hands on the ball at stoppages. His size and power proved difficult for the Bendigo midfielders to combat, as he slipped out of would-be tackles and was constantly able to get a disposal away. While some kicks were rushed, Goater was clean by hand and improved in that facet as the game wore on. His closing speed and pressure on the ball carrier were prominent during term three, before he was moved out onto the wing in the latter stages.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#11 Cobi Maxted

Arguably Bendigo’s best and most important player on the day, Maxted was made to quickly adjust to a variety of roles on the fly and did so with aplomb. He started forward and was rotated into the ruck, where he competed well despite being quite undersized. The top-ager was also used as a rover at the centre bounces, showcasing his versatile range and sound movement. He did most of his best work up forward though, booting three goals and taking eight marks. All three of those majors came at important points of the match; scoring against the run of play, in red time, and during the final term with what should have been the sealer. His set shot motion was quite fluent and made for good viewing, with plenty to like about Maxted’s overall game.

#13 Jack Evans

A leader of this Bendigo side from the back, Evans was kept busy in defence and had to lean on his strengths to help Bendigo stay alive. Much of his work was rinse and repeat, as Evans looked to distribute by foot and went long on many occasions. He was tasked with the kick-ins and often breached the defensive 50 arc with those responsibilities, before later taking on more attacking and varied options as Calder caught onto his tendencies. Overall, it was a solid return for Evans, who was made to absorb a heap of pressure in the backline.

#23 Xavier Mitchell

The top-ager was level as Bendigo’s top rebounder for the day, employed deep in defence and doing his best work there. He was a productive driver of the ball out of danger zones, able to use his long peg to gain good meterage coming away from his own scoring end. Mitchell was able to compete aerially but also did some solid work mopping up at ground level, sweeping cleanly under pressure and being kept busy during the second and third terms in particular. With Calder holding so much territory throughout the game, he played an important role.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER ACADEMY

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#2 Darcy Gardner

The leading ball winner on the day, Gardner caught the eye with slick work at the stoppages and agile spins out of trouble. His decision making while exiting congestion was sound, able to zip away and hit targets further afield. He looked deceptively strong for his size and was very difficult to wrap up, proving a slippery mover around would-be tacklers and making some look silly. He could not quite hit the scoreboard in this clash, putting wide a set shot after the half time siren.

#5 Oliver Sanders

Another of the relatively small Tasmanian midfielders, Sanders continued his good form to date with a productive outing in the engine room. He was able to cleanly extract or receive at the contest, before getting the legs pumping and looking to deliver into attack by foot. While he was able to snatch meterage in those plays, Sanders also showcased a sound short-range game and generated some really positive momentum for his side. He was in the wars a bit too, copping a knock during the third term but running out the game.

#9 Jonty McIvor

McIvor may not have had a wealth of possessions, but made them count and broke the game open in term two for his side. Playing his first game for the season, the opportunistic forward was first sighted closing in for an intercept mark in attacking 50, which he used to slot his first goal. He looked strong on the lead and used that method to boot goal number two, before making it three in quick succession by snapping up a forward 50 spillage first and finishing well on the left. McIvor bagged a fourth in term three, converting from the tightest on angles right on the siren.

#29 Dom White

Difficult to miss out on the field, White impacted well on the outer and worked hard to find plenty of the ball. He came off the line hard to receive from centre bounces and go inside 50, getting good separation in quick time from his direct opponent. That also became a factor in general play, as White worked over his opponent by running forward aggressively to become a free option in the front half. His ball use was generally sound too, and he even found the big sticks with a goal in the second quarter, running in over the back.

NT Thunder Academy:

#4 Beau Tedcastle

Tedcastle came into the game as one of the NT’s most highly fancied youngsters, and he didn’t disappoint with some slick work up forward. He snared the first goal of the game after about five minutes, using his instinct and foot speed to sneak the ball home from close range. The St Mary’s product also presented well as a target inside 50, playing slightly above his size and thriving on the chaos footy his side attempted to enforce. He made good on another quick entry to boot goal number two in the third quarter, before providing pressure around the ball during his move into midfield in the next period. Tedcastle can zig, zag and create in the front half, looming as one to watch.

#8 Ronald Fejo Jnr

An over-ager in this clash, Fejo looked far and away the NT’s most clean and skilful prospect. He started on the wing and operated there for most of the day, slicing forward like a knife through butter with his speed and repeat run efforts to chain through the corridor. He often looked to position at the back of stoppages, where he could clearly view the best path forward and carve out an attack in electric form. Fejo also showcased good foot skills, hitting targets on the move and picking the right options going inside 50.

EASTERN RANGES vs. GWV REBELS

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

The highly touted prospect started brightly and was able to get his hands on the ball, but found the going tough as GWV’s midfield began to get on top. He got first hands to the ball at the opening centre bounce and showcased his slick hands with a nice dish-off, which he would continue to do around the ground. A lot of his work was done under pressure, but Sonsie proved his class and was not afraid to compete. He jagged a goal from nothing in the opening term and later combined his dual-sided foot skills with rare vision to turn and hit targets others would not attempt to. A really smooth mover, his classy stoppage exits were blanketed, but still came through in spurts.

#2 James O’Connor

The top-ager played an unheralded role on GWV key forward Josh Rentsch, thrust into the lop-sided matchup (in terms of size) after quarter time and competing well despite the clear discrepancy. While he had his hands full with the Rebels goalkicking ace one-out inside defensive 50, O’Connor was still able to compete aerially and had some nice moments sweeping out of his own area. He looked to make every post a winner at ground level and ran the ball well, providing a bit of spark on the rebound in some tough spots.

#3 Jake Arundell

One who showed a bit in the Young Guns fixture, Arundell returned with the Ranges and got back to his busy ways up forward. He looked a lot more productive in the second half, showing great speed to chase up loose balls up onto the wing and presenting a solid option there on the lead. With his back to goal, Arundell would twist and turn to buy enough time before disposing of the ball, and hit some really nice kicks going inside 50. He finished well and added a goal to his game in the fourth quarter from a set shot, 35 metres out after being made to earn the mark.

#5 Jake Soligo

Soligo finished equal as the Ranges’ leading ball winner and set the tone for a terrific first term with the game’s opening goal. Having turned his back on goal at the 50-metre arc, his decision proved a good one as he slammed home the long-range shot with aplomb. The Eastern skipper proved nice and evasive in traffic and often found a way to dish out of congestion, while not being afraid to crack in and do the tough stuff. He had a good moment late on, flying in a contest against Fraser Marris and winning the ball before hitting Bradley Watson inside 50 with plenty of class.

#31 Tyreece Leiu

A constant in the Ranges’ besieged defence, Leiu proved a reliable figure who was able to read the play well and intercept a number of promising GWV attacks. His intercept marking ability was evident throughout the game, as he did so in one-on-one battles or by peeling off his direct opponent to impact third-up. Leiu’s clean hands allowed him to be a cool head in the crisis, while sound disposal furthered that influence on the rebound. A really solid game overall, and one which forced the Rebels to get creative with their ball use.

GWV Rebels:

#3 Charlie Molan

Employed up on the wing, Molan did all the fundamentals well and was reliable as ever for the Rebels. He positioned well at the back of stoppages to help his defence and read the play well to know when to attack, or when to hang back. Working into the back half, he was a sound outlet option on the rebound and in possession, his strong kicking came to the fore. Molan is as competitive as they come and got the Rebels out of trouble on numerous occasions by splitting or winning key ground balls, sweeping his side onto the front foot.

#5 Josh Rentsch

The skipper looked on track for a mammoth goal haul and settled on five, with no Eastern defender able to properly go with him throughout the entire contest. He looked ominous early, with his power and marking ability causing headaches as he positioned one-out inside 50. Rebels players only had to kick the ball long over the back and he would easily clunk the mark within range of goal. The finishing touch was Rentsch’s only downfall, as he missed some gettable opportunities from set shots in between those five conversions. He was either incredibly unselfish, or lacking in a bit of confidence in that department as he constantly looked to dish off to teammates – even at the top of the goalsquare after a strong mark. It was a commanding display though, and a good showcase of his key strengths.

#6 Marcus Herbert

A really classy type in midfield, the top-ager just knows how to get out of tight spots. Herbert may have been in the wars during this outing, but battled on to run out the game and displayed his typically smooth ability to slip away from the stoppages. His delivery by foot was a bit shaky in the first half, but he soon fixed up and made his exit kicks work. One particular passage saw him come away from the centre bounce and deliver laterally to the wingman, who ran onto the kick without breaking stride. The Geelong VFL representative certainly looks ominous at his best.

#8 Josh Gibcus

The fast rising intercept defender picked up right from where he left off, putting in another handy shift across the back half. He reads the play so well and proved as much with a series of intercept marks, using his sizeable leap and clean hands to stop Eastern attacks in their tracks. While the ball did not enter his area for long periods in the match, Gibcus set up beautifully and was consistently in the right spots, making the right decisions to ensure he could intercept. From there, he distributed the ball nicely despite a rare kicking error in the final quarter. He continues to be one to watch.

#12 Fraser Marris

Marris finished as the best player afield and really took over as the game wore on with his unrelenting accumulation of possessions. Running through midfield, the top-ager got his hands on it early and was able to distribute, using the ball cleanly at short range and using his smarts to navigate at the stoppages. He ramped up his forward drive in the second half, finding the ball in increasingly advanced areas and getting his legs pumping through the middle of the ground to have a greater impact outside the contest. He even hit the scoreboard in term free after winning a free kick, and had a hand in many more goals throughout the game through sheer weight of numbers in the engine room.

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 4

THE 2021 NAB League season returned over the weekend, with five Northern Academies entering the fray across a bumper nine-game round of action. While some of Victoria’s best prospects were plying their trade in the APS Football competition, there was still plenty of high-end talent remaining, including players returning with newfound VFL experience and those staking their claims for mid-season draft honours.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 9.9 (63) def. by WESTERN JETS 11.12 (78)

IN A SENTENCE:

Inspired by the goalkicking feats of Paul Curtis, Western jetted to a terrific upset win over Sandringham, booting nine goals to four in the second half to overturn the early deficit.

TEAM STATS:

  • Sandringham Dragons won the disposals (325-273) and handballs (172-106)
  • Western Jets won the kicks (167-153), marks (67-54) and scoring shots (23-18)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Charlie McKay (Sandringham Dragons) 37 disposals, 3 marks, 11 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons) 31 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons) 16 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Liam Conway (Western Jets) 26 disposals, 6 marks, 9 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Paul Curtis (Western Jets) 14 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 goals, 4 behinds
  • Harrison White (Western Jets) 19 disposals, 1 mark, 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Liam Conway (Western Jets)
4 – Paul Curtis (Western Jets)
3 – Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons)
2 – Harrison White (Western Jets)
1 – Charlie McKay (Sandringham Dragons)

NEXT UP:

Sandringham Dragons vs. Gold Coast Suns Academy @ South Pine Sports Complex, 2:30pm on Sunday May 30
Western Jets vs. Bendigo Pioneers @ Macphersons Park (Melton), 1:00pm on Sunday May 30

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 15.14 (104) def. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 4.1 (25)

IN A SENTENCE:

Northern charged ahead after a steady opening period, opening up the game with seven goals to one in term two to set up a dominant 79-point win over the undermanned Brisbane Lions Academy on home turf.

TEAM STATS:

  • Northern Knights won the disposals (333-196), inside 50s (53-28), marks (63-37) and tackles (80-68)
  • Lions Academy won the rebound 50s (36-24)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) 36 disposals, 8 marks, 14 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Ben De Bolfo (Northern Knights) 25 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 4 rebound 50s
  • Anthony Caminiti (Northern Knights) 10 disposals, 2 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 5 goals
  • Jaspa Fletcher (Lions Academy) 13 disposals, 1 mark, 6 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Shatna Cashen-Harris (Lions Academy) 15 disposals, 2 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Lochlan Harrop (Lions Academy) 12 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights)
4 – Anthony Caminiti (Northern Knights)
3 – Josh Watson (Northern Knights)
2 – Jaspa Fletcher (Lions Academy)
1 – Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)

NEXT UP:

Northern Knights vs. Geelong Falcons @ Preston City Oval, 2:30pm on Saturday May 29
Brisbane Lions Academy vs. Calder Cannons @ South Pine Sports Complex, 12:00pm on Sunday May 30

GEELONG FALCONS 10.11 (71) def. by GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 11.6 (72)

IN A SENTENCE:

The GWS Giants Academy trailed all game, but snuck in front with just under five minutes left on the clock to snatch a remarkable one-point win over the Geelong Falcons.

TEAM STATS:

  • Geelong Falcons won the disposals (302-283), marks (75-58) and scoring shots (21-17)
  • Giants Academy won the rebound 50s (38-32)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons) 36 disposals, 8 marks, 2 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Gennaro Bove (Geelong Falcons) 20 disposals, 7 marks, 5 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Josh Sorgiovanni (Geelong Falcons) 20 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Harry Grintell (Giants Academy) 12 disposals, 9 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 goals
  • Sam Frost (Giants Academy) 27 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 12 rebound 50s
  • Maximus Monaghan (Giants Academy) 22 disposals, 6 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Harry Grintell (Giants Academy)
4 – Sam Frost (Giants Academy)
3 – Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
2 – Maximus Monaghan (Giants Academy)
1 – Gennaro Bove (Geelong Falcons)

NEXT UP:

GWS Academy vs. Murray Bushrangers @ Albury Sports Ground, 1:00pm on Saturday May 29
Geelong Falcons vs. Northern Knights @ Preston City Oval, 2:30pm on Saturday May 29

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 13.5 (83) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 10.11 (71)

IN A SENTENCE:

A game of momentum shifts saw Murray take advantage of the scoring end at the ideal time, booting five goals to Oakleigh’s one in the final term to run out 12-point victors at home.

TEAM STATS:

  • Murray Bushrangers won the disposals (351-304), rebound 50s (38-28) and marks (95-71)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the inside 50s (48-41), tackles (56-34), and hitouts (33-18)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Paddy Parnell (Murray Bushrangers) 30 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers) 30 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers) 15 disposals, 6 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 4 goals
  • Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers) 44 disposals, 6 marks, 3 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers) 19 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 23 hitouts
  • Luke Kelvie (Oakleigh Chargers) 20 disposals, 6 marks, 4 tackles, 8 rebound 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Paddy Parnell (Murray Bushrangers)
4 – Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)
3 – Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers)
2 – Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers)

NEXT UP:

Murray Bushrangers vs. GWS Giants Academy @ Albury Sports Ground, 1:00pm on Saturday May 29
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Tasmania Devils @ Dial Park (Penguin), 12:30pm on Saturday May 29

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.17 (65) def. GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 5.6 (36)

IN A SENTENCE:

Dandenong Stingrays led from the first goal to outshine the Gold Coast Suns Academy, putting inaccuracy aside to win by 29 points, having been ahead by as many as 47.

TEAM STATS:

  • Dandenong Stingrays won the disposals (363-299), inside 50s (46-34) and scoring shots (25-11)
  • Suns Academy won the rebound 50s (37-29), marks (72-60) and tackles (60-57)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Bayleigh Welsh (Dandenong Stingrays) 33 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays) 27 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Miller Bergman (Dandenong Stingrays) 22 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy) 29 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • Austin Harris (Suns Academy) 29 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, 8 rebound 50s
  • Will Bella (Suns Academy) 14 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 7 hitouts, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Miller Bergman (Dandenong Stingrays)
4 – Bryce Milford (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 – Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy)
1 – Josiah Kyle (Dandenong Stingrays)

NEXT UP:

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Sydney Swans Academy @ SkyBus Stadium, 11:00am on Saturday May 29
Gold Coast Suns Academy vs. Sandringham Dragons @ South Pine Sports Complex, 2:30pm on Sunday May 30

GIPPSLAND POWER 9.7 (61) def. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 16.9 (105)

IN A SENTENCE:

An 11-goal second half helped the Sydney Swans Academy crush the Gippsland Power by 44 points, marking an emphatic start to their cameo in the NAB League competition.

TEAM STATS:

  • Swans Academy won the disposals (342-268), inside 50s (52-40) and tackles (63-50)
  • Gippsland Power won the rebound 50s (33-31) and hitouts (35-25)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power) 34 disposals, 5 marks, 8 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power) 12 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 3 goals
  • Max Walton (Gippsland Power) 14 disposals, 2 marks, 6 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Angus Anderson (Swans Academy) 28 disposals, 1 mark, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy) 27 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Felix Rogers (Swans Academy) 25 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 10 inside 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Angus Anderson (Swans Academy)
4 – Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
3 – Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)
2 – Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
1 – Max Walton (Gippsland Power)

NEXT UP:

Gippsland Power vs. Eastern Ranges @ Morwell Recreation Reserve, 1:00pm on Sunday May 30
Sydney Swans Academy vs. Dandenong Stingrays, 11:00am on Saturday May 29

CALDER CANNONS 7.22 (64) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 9.4 (58)

IN A SENTENCE:

Calder Cannons overcame inaccuracy to snatch victory by a single goal over Bendigo Pioneers, trailing for most of the match before Matthew Weber put the hosts ahead with under two minutes left on the clock.

TEAM STATS:

  • Calder Cannons won the disposals (318-264), inside 50s (50-27) and scoring shots (29-13)
  • Bendigo Pioneers won the rebound 50s (43-17) and tackles (75-61)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) 23 disposals, 8 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Josh Goater (Calder Cannons) 21 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Jack Newitt (Calder Cannons) 15 disposals, 8 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 2 goals
  • Cobi Maxted (Bendigo Pioneers) 11 disposals, 8 marks, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 5 hitouts, 3 goals
  • Jack Evans (Bendigo Pioneers) 23 disposals, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 8 rebound 50s
  • Xavier Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers) 16 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 8 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
4 – Cobi Maxted (Bendigo Pioneers)
3 – Jack Newitt (Calder Cannons)
2 – Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
1 – Xavier Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)

NEXT UP:

Calder Cannons vs. Brisbane Lions Academy @ South Pine Sports Complex, 12:00pm on Sunday May 30
Bendigo Pioneers vs. Western Jets @ Macphersons Park (Melton), 1:00pm on Sunday May 30

TASMANIA DEVILS 13.12 (90) def. NT THUNDER ACADEMY 5.7 (37)

IN A SENTENCE:

Tasmania Devils broke away from the Northern Territory Thunder Academy with a five-goal to nil second quarter, ending up comfortable 53-point victors on neutral territory.

TEAM STATS:

  • Tasmania Devils won the disposals (312-212), inside 50s (41-28), marks (83-44) and scoring shots (25-12)
  • NT Thunder Academy won the rebound 50s (27-23) and hitouts (27-25)
  • The tackles were evenly split, 35-apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Darcy Gardner (Tasmania Devils) 27 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 4 inside 50s
  • Dom White (Tasmania Devils) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Oliver Sanders (Tasmania Devils) 19 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Ronald Fejo Jnr (NT Thunder Academy) 20 disposals, 6 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT Thunder Academy) 22 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Beau Tedcastle (NT Thunder Academy) 16 disposals, 2 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Darcy Gardner (Tasmania Devils)
4 – Oliver Sanders (Tasmania Devils)
3 – Dom White (Tasmania Devils)
2 – Ronald Fejo Jnr (NT Thunder Academy)
1 – Beau Tedcastle (NT Thunder Academy)

NEXT UP:

Tasmania Devils vs. Oakleigh Chargers @ Dial Park (Penguin), 12:30pm on Saturday May 29
NT Thunder Academy vs. GWV Rebels @ Mars Stadium, 1:00pm on Sunday May 30

EASTERN RANGES 7.7 (49) def. by GWV REBELS 13.9 (87)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels overcame a sluggish start to storm past the Eastern Ranges, winning by 38 points on the back of a redemptive six-goal second term.

TEAM STATS:

  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (372-302), inside 50s (58-29) and marks (93-75)
  • Eastern Ranges won the rebound 50s (44-22), tackles (61-55) and hitouts (33-24)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges) 25 disposals, 7 marks, 6 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges) 24 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges) 17 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 6 rebound 50s
  • Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels) 38 disposals, 8 marks, 5 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Nick Hodgson (GWV Rebels) 31 disposals, 2 marks, 9 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Josh Rentsch (GWV Rebels) 15 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 6 hitouts, 5 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels)
4 – Josh Rentsch (GWV Rebels)
3 – Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
1 – Nick Hodgson (GWV Rebels)

NEXT UP:

Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power @ Morwell Reaction Reserve, 1:00pm on Sunday May 30
GWV Rebels vs. Northern Territory Thunder Academy @ Mars Stadium, 1:00pm on Sunday May 30

State Leagues Preview: Key games across the board

STATE league football will continue over the weekend with plenty at stake for the teams involved. With some sides looking for their first win and others trying to keep themselves ahead of the pack, expect plenty of thrilling action this weekend.

Victoria:

The third round of VFL action kicks off this weekend with Collingwood taking on Gold Coast at Olympic Park Oval on Friday afternoon. Gold Coast registered their first win last weekend over Sydney by 14 points, getting on a roll and will be looking to back it up this weekend against the Pies. Suns midfielders Will Brodie and Brayden Fiorni fired in the engine room last round and will need to do the same if they are to grab their second win of the season. Collingwood couldn’t back up their Round 1 win with another last week, falling to the Bombers by 35 points in a disappointing second half. Big man Mason Cox will miss due to suspension while the side will look extremely different with plenty of injuries at AFL level. The Pies depth will be tested here, which should make the win even sweeter if they can pull it off.

The Sydney Swans and the Geelong Cats will make for an interesting matchup when they face off on Saturday afternoon at Tramway Oval. With a 1-1 start to the year, the Swans will be eager to the return to their Round 1 form, which saw them take down the Giants by 26 points. If they are to take down this Cats side, experienced heads such as Sam Gray and Lewis Taylor will need to lead by example. The Cats will be fully refreshed after a bye last weekend, and will be looking to back up their Round 1 effort which saw them run out 79-point winners. Forwards Ben Jarvis and Josh Jenkins combined for eight goals, and if they can do something similar this weekend, it will be hard to stop the Cats.

In a battle of cross-town rivals, Carlton will travel to Windy Hill to take on Essendon on Sunday afternoon as both sides look for their second win to take them up the ladder. The Blues clinched a massive 69-point win over the Lions last weekend, which should give them a world of confidence heading into this match. A combined 12 goals from former AFL listed players Ben Crocker and James Parsons drove the Carlton win and if either can get off the chain again this weekend, Essendon coaches will have plenty to ponder from the sidelines. The Bombers took down the Pies last weekend, and should be looking to use the win as a spark for their season following a Round 1 loss. Tom Cutler was Essendon’s best in the win with 27 disposals and three goals, so expect the Blues to pay some attention to him throughout the match.

South Australia:

Round 5 of state league action kicks off with a blockbuster match, as Norwood host South Adelaide at Coopers Stadium under lights on Friday night. Norwood has landed a selection bombshell heading into the match, stunningly dropping dual-Magarey Medalist Mitch Grigg, who had just 14 disposals and a goal in last week’s 18-point loss to West Adelaide. Brad Mckenzie will line up on a wing in his return to the side while Brad Carroll is also confirmed to return to the side. Highly touted youngster Fraser Turner will finally debut for South Adelaide, named to start on a wing. The former Richmond utility has been named on the extended bench for consecutive weeks and will finally get his chance against Norwood. Liam Fitt will miss following a nasty head knock while Anthony Biemans is expected to miss multiple weeks following a leg injury.

North Adelaide will be looking to erase the memory of last week’s heartbreaking loss with a win this week over Glenelg at Prospect Oval on Saturday afternoon. North Adelaide fell to Woodville-West Torrens by three points in Round 4, and this pain will still be fresh in their minds. They could be bolstered by the return of star defender Cameron Craig, who has been named on the extended bench following a hamstring injury, but changes are yet to be confirmed. Don’t be surprised if Glenelg choose to not make any changes at selection this weekend, following a 10-point win over Port Adelaide last round, with no changes confirmed to the lineup that achieved that feat.

West Adelaide and Central Districts will go head-to-head, with the winner certainly moving up the ladder following their clash at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both sides are in the bottom half of the ladder sitting at 1-3, so a win on Saturday afternoon is crucial for both these sides. West Adelaide will unleash a new player, as Canberra Demons recruit Lucas Meline is named to line up in the midfield for his first game in the new colours. There have been no confirmed outs at the time of publication. Central Districts coaches have been busy shuffling the magnets with four confirmed changes to their team. Rhett Montgomerie, Connor Mclean and Jacob Templeton will all miss through injury while Nick Gillard has been omitted. Fraser Fort, Wyatt Patterson, Cooper Dahms and Travis Schiller have been named as their replacements.

Bottom placed Sturt will have the opportunity to move up the standings as they host Adelaide at Unley Oval on Sunday afternoon. Sturt have not been able to register a second win on the season and will be desperate to take this opportunity against the Crows. Forwards Abe Davis and Josh Hone will return to give Sturt a boost while Charlie Parker will debut for the side across half back. Sturt will lose the services of Jordan Houlahan and Matt Crocker through injury while Adam Trenorden has been dropped. Adelaide will be waiting for AFL emergencies to affect their lineup but will certainly be without midfielders David Mackay (AFL) and Luke Pedlar (injured). Nick Murray has also earned an AFL call up.

In the final SANFL game for Round 5, Port Adelaide will return to Alberton Oval to host Woodville-West Torrens on Sunday afternoon in a key clash for both sides. Port Adelaide currently sit with a disappointing 1-3 record, and with Trent Burgoyne and Matt Appleton both ruled out through injury, a chance to improve this record seems unlikely. In saying this, don’t rule out the Power just yet, with plenty of talent around the ground, they won’t give up without a fight. Woodville-West Torrens have worked their way to a 3-1 record and will see this weekend’s match as the perfect opportunity to improve this. They will be without the services of former AFL forward Daniel Menzel, who will miss with an ankle injury and has been replaced by debutant Cooper Sharman.

Tasmania:

TSL action kicks off on Saturday with Clarence travelling to the Twin Ovals in Kingston to take on the Tigers. The Tigers found their form again last week, defeating Glenorchy by 24 points in the ANZAC day clash. The side will go in unchanged following the victory, and the obvious player to watch is Elijah Reardon who should continue his blistering season this weekend. Clarence had the bye last weekend and have brought in some firepower to combat this Tigers team, while the Roos have brought in Oliver Davis, Baker Smith, Darcy Gardner, Colin Garland and Jacob Young to make their side look much stronger. Expect a close contest.

Lauderdale will be keen to bounce back after last round’s 93-point belting at the hands of a brutal North Launceston side, and this round’s matchup against a struggling North Hobart side will get their hopes up. Lauderdale have shaken things up at team selection in order to conjure a response from their side. Among the ins are Tyler Martin, Luke Hodoninczky, Bryce Walsh and Ozzie Warmbrunn as the Bombers fight for their second win. North Hobart were embarrassed by Launceston last round, conceding 25 goals and losing by 125 points, and they have also opted to change things up at team selection. The Demons are bringing in Johnathon Pullen, George Mcleod, Jye Menzie, Tyler Mcginniss and Will Splann. Both sides have plenty to play for here.

Glenorchy face a tough obstacle if they want to bounce back from last week’s loss, and that obstacle comes in the form of an outrageously in-form Launceston side. The Magpies were defeated by the Tigers to the tune of a 24 point margin but face an even tougher task this week in the Blues. Glenorchy will need to change things up if they are to upset the juggernaut, and the team selection reflects this. The Magpies will lose former Blue Sam Rundle but will be bringing in Riley Best, Darrean Wyatt, Joshua Whitford, Dominic Brown and Isaac Manson. The Blues have made only one change in their quest to remain undefeated, bringing in hard-running midfielder Miller Hodge at the expense of Grant Holt who has been omitted.

Western Australia:

The fourth round of the WAFL was unfortunately cancelled last weekend as Western Australia battled a minor COVID outbreak. This has since been resolved and Round 5 is scheduled to go ahead, with all sides nice and refreshed. The first game of the round will see East Perth welcome Swan Districts to Leederville Oval as they attempt to find their maiden win of the 2021 season. In Round 3 they fell by 25 points, in a promising display. They aren’t far away from a win and this weekend could be the drought breaker. Expect centre half-back Nathan Blee to find plenty of the ball as he did in Round 3. Swan Districts are tracking nicely, sitting in third place on the ladder and looking to improve on their 2-1 record with a win this weekend. The team regains former Eagle Lewis Jetta who is sure to break the game open with his blistering pace.

East Fremantle will host Perth at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon in a match with implications for both sides. A win for East Fremantle keeps them in touch with the top of the ladder as they currently sit in fourth place and a loss could see them slip down the standings. Perth are barely keeping in touch with the top five, but a win here could potentially see them enter the top half of the ladder. Keep an eye on East Fremantle half-back flanker Cameron Eardley, who racked up 26 disposals and 14 marks in Round 3.

Claremont will be looking to extend their undefeated streak as they welcome West Perth to Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Claremont couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, and they currently hold a 3-0 record, along with Subiaco. West Perth’s start to the season hasn’t quite been as successful. They sit in sixth place on the ladder with a 1-2 record, and face a serious challenge to improve this in Round 5. Can Aaron Black continue his strong form and lead his side to an upset over this powerful Claremont side?

Speaking of undefeated sides, Subiaco are as good as it gets this year. They sit on top of the ladder and will be keen on staying up there this weekend with a win over South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco were able to sneak past West Perth in Round 3 and will probably need a slight lift if they are to keep their spot on top of the table. Meanwhile South Fremantle took down Peel Thunder in Round 3 and will give themselves every chance to walk away with the upset win here. Expect South Fremantle’s Haiden Schloithe to play a big role in the result of this game, fresh off best on ground honours in Round 3.

The final game of the round sees some Sunday footy action as the Peel Thunder will face off against West Coast at David Grays Arena. West Coast have struggled to fly this year and will be keen to get some runs on the board after a 0-3 start to the 2021 season. Peel Thunder have started the season 1-2, good enough to see them sit seventh after three rounds. They will be eager to return to their Round 2 form which saw them with a triple-digit win over East Perth. Pending AFL selection, should Connor Blakely play, expect him to find plenty of the ball for Peel Thunder.

Queensland:

The fifth round of QAFL action sees plenty of exciting matchups. The first will see Maroochydore look to remain undefeated with a win over a surging Labrador side. Maroochydore are yet to lose a game in the 2021 season, but expect Labrador to push them right to the final siren. Labrador have only lost the one game so far, and an upset here would push them into the ‘contender’ category by the end of the weekend. Former Lion and Sun Pearce Hanley has worked his way into the season for Labrador and should prove a headache for Maroochydore players and coaches.

Redland-Victoria Point have started the season in strong fashion, with two wins from three games, and will be looking to snatch a fourth as they travel to Southside Toyota Oval to face off against Mt Gravatt on Saturday. Mt Gravatt have had two byes so far, but still sit at 1-1, with the loss coming against an in-form Maroochydore side. Mt Gravatt forward Jonah Licht has kicked 10 goals in his two games this season, and if he can prove dangerous around the big sticks again, it is hard to see his side losing.

The last two teams on the ladder in Noosa and Sherwood Districts will clash on Saturday afternoon at Rococo Oval, in a vital match for both sides. A perfect opportunity for both teams, whoever emerges victorious could find themselves with a spark to start their season, while the other will be left in no man’s land on 0-4 and much less likely to make finals. Sherwood Districts midfielder William Fletcher has enjoyed a consistent start to the season and could play a key role here, as he has proved himself as a goal kicking midfielder. No matter what happens, one of these sides will be singing the song for the first time in 2021.

In a battle for a second win, Palm Beach Currumbin and Wilston Grange will face off at Salk Oval in the final match of Saturday QAFL action. Not much separates these sides, with both teams sitting on a 1-2 record, this is another vital clash in the fifth round of action. A second win could see either side move into the top five, which is crucial heading into a sixth round. At the time of publication, team lineups had not been released.

Finally, a seemingly unstoppable Broadbeach side will host a struggling Surfers Paradise side at Subaru Oval on Sunday afternoon. Broadbeach are yet to lose a game and boasting the best percentage in the league, they sit on top of the table. Surfers Paradise are a completely different story, having only won one game in their first three, and in dire need of a second. The key question is can they contain Broadbeach forward Sam Jasper, who is fresh off a bag of eight goals last weekend? This matchup will prove important in determining a winner.

State Leagues preview: QAFL’s first full round begins as other states go again for Round 2

IN a Draft Central first, we have streamlined a look across the nation with a number of state leagues coming back for Round 2 after a big opening round. Competitions in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland all take place over the weekend and we preview them all in one convenient preview.

QUEENSLAND:

The full bill of teams will be out in force for Round 2 of the QAFL after last year’s wooden spooners Wilston Grange got the one-point win over newcomers Noosa Tigers last weekend. The Gorillas matched their total wins from last season – albeit from a shorter nine-game season – from just one match, and will host Maroochydore this weekend. The Roos have teenager Ben Thomas on the wing, with key position tall Max McDonald named at half-back. For the Gorillas top-age draft prospect Bae Gallop has been named onball, alongside Kuot Thot (half-forward flank). Ky McKenzie (interchange) and Oscar Stewart (back pocket) are others who are young talents to watch for the home side.

Meanwhile grand finalists Broadbeach will host Labrador in the Cats’ first game of the year, while reigning premiers Morningside will travel to Palm Beach Currumbin for an away game first up. Naturally the Panthers were happy to wait until Round 3 to unfurl the flag against the team they conquered in the 2020 decider. The Cats will have a couple of Suns Academy members who have come through the program in Ryan Pickering and Finn Brown (emergency), while for Labrador, small forward Blair Rubock is back again in the yellow and black, with Bryce Retzlaff to provide a a tall target and crucially, ex-Gold Coast and Brisbane talent Pearce Hanley named onball.

Will Bella is the one to watch for the Lions as they try to take down the reigning premiers in Round 1, as the Gold Coast Suns’ tall has been named in the forward pocket. He will play alongside the likes of Ethan Hunt and Ashton Crossley who have both come through the Northern Academy programs in recent years. For Morningside, Ben McCarthy has been named at half-back and is one to watch from the Brisbane Academy, while Nathan Colenso and Tom Griffiths have come through the Northern Academies in recent years and remain youngsters to keep an eye on.

The 2019 QAFL premiers Surfers Paradise will be eyeing off a much better season in 2021 after just two wins last year, taking on another new team in Redland-Victoria Point. The Demons will hit the road against the Sharks in the clash, whilst the final match of the round will see Sherwood Districts hosting Mt Gravatt. Noosa Tigers will have a bye after the tight Round 1 loss.

Not named as a starter, but young Jaspa Fletcher will be one to watch for Sherwood this season, with Adrian’s son set to create plenty of headaches inside 50. Speaking of headaches inside 50, it is great to see Kobe Tozer returning from injury to be named at full-forward for the black and whites. Up the other end, Conner Bulley has been named in a forward pocket as another teenager in the side, whilst for the Vultures, Lochlan Harrop (half-forward) and Ethan Kerr (back pocket) are a couple of teenagers in the Round 2 team.

Surfers Paradise have players to keep an eye on as they keep developing such as Matthew Green and Myles Jewell returning to the side to take on the Sharks. Redland-Victoria Point is a new side entering the QAFL, though Redland has had its success in the NEWAFL, and ex-Collingwood talent Peter Yagmoor is one to watch on the list, as well as ex-Sherwood player Caleb Franks.

South Australia:

Former Tasmanian State League (TSL) and ex-West Coast Eagle Mitch O’Neill has been named for his South Adelaide debut, coming into the Panthers’ team alongside another former TSL and ex-AFL talent in Fraser Turner. They will beef up the Panthers’ starting team to take on North Adelaide in the SANFL League clash, who celebrate Jarred Allmond‘s 200th game. Top draft prospect will start on the interchange for the Panthers, whilst Dyson Hilder will be at full forward for the Roosters.

Another Tasmanian coming into the league is Hamish Allan, with the ex-North Hobart 20-year-old running out for Sturt this year. He will be amongst the side that features past South Australian representatives at Under 18s level, Tom Lewis, Josh Shute and Jed McEntee among others. Their opponents Norwood will celebrate Cameron Shenton‘s 100 games, but will be without Richard Douglas for the clash due to personal reasons, though a player who has garnered draft interest in recent years in Cole Gerloff returns to the Redlegs.

A trio of teenagers will potentially line-up for the League side with Brady Searle, Cooper Horsnell and Will Chandler all named in the side for their debuts, with ex-Demon Billy Stretch out with an ankle injury. Their opponents Woodville-West Torrens will unveil Canberra Demons’ recruit Mitchell Hardie who comes into the side along with the huge – physical and metaphorical – inclusion of ruck Jarrad Redden.

Teenage talent Bailey Chamberlain has been named for West Adelaide as one of three inclusions up against Adelaide’s reserves side. He joins new recruit Nick Steele as a potential inclusion, with no outs as of yet, and the likes of Josh Gore and Elliot Dunkin as ones who have caught AFL clubs attention in past years. The Crows will include ex-Glenelg onballer Luke Pedlar for the first time, with Daniel Jackson rested from the match.

Meanwhile Port Adelaide will be without Lachie Jones (debut) and Tom Rockliff (concussion) in a couple of massive outs, which gives Central District a big bonus at the selection table, welcoming in former Panther Brett Kennedy alongside ex-Tiger Ben Nason who returns into the team for the clash against the Magpies.

 

TASMANIA:

In Round 2 of the TSL, Glenorchy enter the competition after a Round 1 bye, set to take on a Clarence team coming off a hard-fought seven-point defeat. The Roos took a little too long to get going against an Allen Christensen-inspired Lauderdale outfit, and they will be keen to step it up against the Magpies.

Glenorchy will of course be without legend Jaye Bowden who retired last season, with Matthew Joseph set to be the focal point up forward, whilst youngster Callum Thompson is one to keep an eye on in the match. The Roos lose a shot of young guns due to Tasmania Devils returning to the NAB League with Oliver Davis, Baker Smith, Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes all out, while ex-Demon Colin Garland has been named at full-forward.

In the Tigers-Lauderdale clash, much has been spoken about the huge impact that Sam Siggins and Nat Franklin had through the midfield with Christensen dominating up forward. The trio will look to have a similar impact when they travel to Kingborough to take on Tigers, who had a young gun stand out in Round 1 with Zach Adams impressing off a wing, whilst Lachlan Gadomski and Riley Ashlin are other young talents.

North Launceston will be without the Sanders brothers in Ollie and Ryley Sanders, as well as Nathan Pearce for the clash against North Hobart, as the Northern Bombers need to find a way to bounce back from a 55-point loss to reigning premiers Launceston. They still have experience in Brad Cox-Goodyer through the middle, but have a new-look side to its recent years. For the Demons. The Demons are coming off a loss themselves, going down to Tigers by 11 points, and will be massively depleted with a ridiculous amount of young talent out of the side including George McLeod and Jye Menzie. It will be up to the next ground of players coming in, with 12 inclusions – including four emergencies – to the Demons side.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

East Perth and Peel Thunder will be keen to quickly move on from Round 1 losses as they do battle in Round 2. The Royals will be without Nick Robertson, but still have Jackson Ramsay and Rohan Kerr among the midfielders as former AFL talents. Peel Thunder will bring in a quartet of Fremantle players with Griffin Logue and Liam Henry joining Mitch Crowden and Bailey Banfield in the side, with Sam Sturt‘s five-goal haul enough to earn a recall at the Dockers, as Connor Blakely and Taylin Duman also are out. A non Fremantle-listed talent to watch for is young gun Brodie Lake who is named in the back pocket.

Two teams that picked up wins in Round 1 were Claremont and South Fremantle, with ex-Dockers Jason Carter and Alex Pearce a couple of big inclusions for the Tigers. They have plenty to like about their lineup with Jye Bolton, Kane Mitchell and Jake Patmore among the talented experienced players in there, though Jacob Van Rooyen is the one to watch as a potential Top 10 pic, lining up on ex-Geelong Cat Blake Schlensog who is playing for South Fremantle. The Bulldogs will be without Cam McCarthy for this match, but still have Haiden Schloithe and Matthew Parker, and the exciting Ben Rioli.

A potential matchup between Chris Masten and Lewis Jetta on the team selection sheets is a mouth-watering clash for any West Coast Eagles fan, with the two ex-talents doing battle for Perth and Swan Districts respectively. Jetta might just have the leg speed in that head-to-head, with Sam Fisher, Jesse Palmer and Frank Anderson among the other Swans to keep an eye on. For Perth, ex-Murray and St Kilda talent Doulton Langlands joins ex-Docker Brady Gray and ex-Eagle Brant Colledge in the Perth midfield which will provide some resistance for the clash.

It is early days, but a top of the table clash between Round 1’s big winners in East Fremantle and Subiaco opens the second round with plenty to get excited about. Ex-Docker Hugh Dixon is joined by youngster Finn Gorringe who comes into the Sharks’ League side, while Jonathon Marsh and Dillon O’Reilly make a damaging forward duo. For the Lions, Ben Sokol is a goal-scoring machine, with Lachlan Delahunty starting his year off strong, set to go head-to-head with Josh Schoenfeld in a battle of the leather poisoning talents from the opening weekend.

At the time of publishing, the West Perth and West Coast teams were not out.

Picture credit: Bronia Henty-Smith Photography

State Leagues wrap: Easter Weekend opens seasons

STATE league men’s football returned across the weekend, with the SANFL, WAFL and TSL all back to full-strength competitions, whilst a standalone fixture in the QAFL went ahead despite some concerns, ahead of a blockbuster Round 2 next weekend.

QUEENSLAND:

Noosa Tigers had a promising return to the QAFL in the standalone Round 1 match despite going down in defeat, as Wilston Grange got up by one-point in a thriller. The league newcomers fought it out after being down by 14 points at the final break to boot 7.3 to 4.8 in the final term after a sluggish start, but it would not be enough in the 7.14 (56) to 8.7 (55) loss. Hugh Fidler and Max Hewett both booted two goals for the Gorillas, while Aaron Wilson starred with four majors for the Tigers. Corey Lobb (Noosa) ad Errin Wasley-Black (Wilston Grange) were their respective sides’ top players.

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

In the SANFL, all eyes were on Pick 1 contender Jason Horne, as he ran out for South Adelaide against the Crows’ reserves. The teenage talent racked up 19 disposals, six marks, four tackles and four clearances in the win, whilst it was ex-Crow Bryce Gibbs who stole the show with a match-winning 36 disposals, six marks and five clearances. Ex-Lion Sam Skinner had 17 disposals and booted two goals in the win, whilst Liam Fitt (four goals) was the busiest inside 50. Joel Cross (28 disposals, seven marks) and Hayden Sampson (25 disposals, 12 marks and one goal) were other to win plenty of the football in a massive 61-point smashing, while Crows’ reserves talent Hamish Latchford stepped up with 31 disposals, 12 marks and two clearances. Jackson Hately (25 disposals, 10 marks and two clearances) was the eye-catching one, as young talls Josh Worrell (20 disposals, five marks), Darcy Fogarty (14 disposals, three marks) and Fischer McAsey (14 disposals, six marks) also played.

It was not much better news for Port Adelaide’s reserves who also went down, losing to Norwood by 45 points. Father-son prospect Taj Schofield racked up 22 disposals, three marks and booted a goal, while Sam Mayes (28 disposals, seven clearances) and Jarrod Lienert (26 disposals, seven tackles) also worked hard. Matthew Nunn was unstoppable for the Redlegs with 39 disposals, five marks, 11 tackles and five clearances, whilst ex-Crow recruit Richard Douglas did as he pleased with 26 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, four clearances and a goal. Ex-Cat Jacob Kennerley also impressed with 24 disposals, five marks and six tackles, whilst ex-Hawk Paul Puopolo booted 2.3 from 19 disposals and three marks. Draft hopeful Jackson Callow booted 2.2 from 11 disposals and five marks on his SANFL debut, working well with Dom Barry (21 disposals, five marks and three goals) inside 50.

In the tightest game of the weekend, Central District toppled North Adelaide by nine points, in what saw 20 goals kicked in the first half. Whilst only nine more were kicked in the second half, the Bulldogs got up thanks to four goals from Justin Hoskin and Aiden Grace. Ethan East also slotted two goals, while ex-Oakleigh premiership player Thomas Graham kicked a goal from eight touches and two marks on his League debut. Ex-GWS GIANTS Academy member Harry Grant was also lively with 25 disposals, seven marks and six clearances, as Kyle Presbury (26 disposals, 13 marks), Brendan Dew (24 disposals, six marks) and Travis Schiller (24 disposals, six marks) were among eight players to reach 20-plus disposals. For North Adelaide, reigning Margarey Medallist Campbell Combe had 26 disposals, eight clearances and five tackles, while Jarred Allmond (31 disposals, six marks) and Aaron Young (15 disposals, four goals) were also impressive.

Woodville-West Torrens Eagles easily accounted for Sturt thanks to a massive seven goals to one final term to run away with the contest by 46 points in the end. The Menzel brothers booted seven goals between them, as Troy (four goals) and Daniel (three) had days out in their new colours. James Tsitas (29 disposals, three clearances and four tackles) and Riley Knight (26 disposals, seven clearances, six tackles and a goal) were both lively, as was ex-Bomber Kobe Mutch on debut with 21 disposals and nine marks. For Sturt, Tom Lewis was hard as usual around the stoppages on his way to 19 disposals and eight clearances, teaming up well with James Battersby (21 disposals, five clearances), while Casey Voss (20 disposals, six marks) and Josh Shute (17 disposals, 10 marks) were busy once again on the outside.

In the final game, Glenelg knocked off West Adelaide by 11 points, with Michael Virgin (32 disposals, 11 marks) and Luke Partington (31 disposals, five clearances) both racking up the ball. Matthew Allen (28 disposals, 11 marks and a goal) and Darcy Bailey (28 disposals, seven marks, six clearances, six tackles and two goals) were sensational, while Callum Park (26 disposals, six marks) and Matthew Snook (29 disposals, eight clearances) also found plenty of it. In the loss, Isaac Johnson slotted 3.3 from 23 touches and five marks, while Kieran Lovell‘s SANFL debut was a success with 22 disposals, five marks, four clearances and four tackles. Ex-Gold Coast Academy goalsneak Josh Gore kicked a goal from nine touches and impressively made 10 tackles in the loss, while Jonathon Beech was also good with two goals from 13 disposals and seven marks.

 

TASMANIA:

Reigning premiers Launceston kicked off its season with a big win over rivals North Launceston in a grand final rematch, defeating the Northern Bombers by 55 points at UTAS Stadium. Dylan Riley (three goals) and Jake Hinds (two) stepped up to the plate once again in the big win, as Michael Musicka and Cody Thorp slotted multiple goals as well. For the Bombers, Brad Cox-Goodyer was the standout, as Ollie Sanders kicked a goal and was amongst the best for the losers, one of a number of youngsters running through the team, while Thomas Bennett was also impressive.

Meanwhile the Tigers got off to the perfect start, holding their nerve against North Hobart in an 11-point victory. They led by 35 points at half-time, and whilst they still kicked the 13 scoring shots in the second half, only managed the 4.9, compared to the Demons’ 9.3. The Kingborough-based side had done enough though to win 10.18 (78) to 10.7 (67), with 19-year-old Zach Adams booting a goal and named best on ground. Max Collidge and Riley Ashlin were also impressive, whilst for the Demons, Jack Sandric was best-on with a goal, while Jye Menzie was among the young brigade who slotted a major.

In the other match of Round 1, Lauderdale also held on against a fast-finishing Clarence. Allen Christensen was the headline recruit, booting three first half goals to do all the damage as the Bombers led by 29 points at the final break. They only managed one behind in the last term as the Roos stormed home with 3.5 of their own, only to fall seven points short. Aside from Christensen, reigning league best and fairest Sam Siggins was named among the best with Nat Franklin. For the Roos, Ollie Davis continued his form from his draft year with a best on ground effort, as Ethan Jackson and Darcy Gardner were other youngsters to step up, while Josh Green slotted four goals in the loss.

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

The WAFL kicked off its season with some high-scoring thrillers, as every winner hit triple-digits, including a whopping 242 points combined between Claremont and Swan Districts. Every team scored at least 74 points, with the greatest margin being 32, during East Fremantle’s victory over Peel Thunder. In that match, Josh Schoenfeld brought his own football to Western Australia, with ex-Gold Coast Sun racking up 41 disposals, nine marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds in a whopping effort on debut for the Sharks. Ex-Blue Blaine Boekhorst had 26 touches, two marks and kicked a goal in the win, whilst ex-Saint and Pie Jonothan Marsh had 21 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and 2.1. It was the effort of Dillon O’Reilly looking to force his way back to the elite level with three goals from 14 touches, five marks and two tackles. For Peel, it was Sam Sturt who demanded a recall to the AFL with five goals from 12 disposals and four marks, while Joel Western had 13 touches, four marks and kicked a goal.

In other matches, East Perth’s Nick Robertson made a promising debut with 30 disposals, four marks and a goal returning from Brisbane, while another ex-AFL talent in Jackson Ramsay had 29 touches, five marks, seven inside 50s and a goal in a huge day out. Lachlan Delahunty racked up 23 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and three tackles for the winning side, as captain Leigh Kitchell drove the team through a massive 29 touches, 11 inside 50s and five tackles. Ben Sokol, Michael Braut and Aaron Heal all slotted three goals. Perth got past West Coast reserves in a 13-point outing despite nine goals between Isiah Winder and Nathan Vardy. Winder had five snags from 18 touches and five marks, while Vardy had a whopping 35 hitouts, 15 disposals and three marks to go with 4.1. Ex-Eagle Chris Masten racked it up against his old side with 29 touches, five marks and seven inside 50s, whilst ex-Saint Doulton Langlands (20 touches, four marks, three inside 50s and two goals), ex-Docker Brady Gray (27 disposals, eight marks and six inside 50s) and ex-Pie Josh Smith (23 disposals, seven marks, six inside 50s and a goal) all had big performances.

Meanwhile South Fremantle accounted for West Perth with Haiden Schloithe and Matt Parker having days out. Schloithe racked up his usual 30 touches, and had seven tackles, six inside 50s and two goals, while Parker had 26 touches, two marks five tackles and 11 inside 50s. Brandon Donaldson booted two goals from 25 touches and three marks in the win, whilst four West Perth players racked up 30-plus disposals. Aaron Black (36 disposals), Trent Manzone (35), Shane Nelson (34) and Blake Wilhelm (30) had leather poisoning with their ball-winning efforts, but it would not be enough to drag their sides across the line. Tyler Keitel and Keegan Knott both slotted four goals, whilst Cody Ninyette and Mason Shaw combined for nine majors in the win. Finally Claremont won by 24 points over Swan Districts in a 38-goal extravaganza. Alexander Manuel and Isaac Barton booted four and three goals apiece for the Tigers in the win, but it was top-age draft talent Jacob Van Rooyen who caught the eye with 12 disposals, four marks and 2.2 at senior level. Thomas Edwards (four goals) and Jesse Palmer (three) were both lively inside 50 for the Swans, whilst Sam Fisher (33 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Jesse Turner (34 disposals, 11 marks, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s) were the best in the loss. Jye Bolton suffered leather poisoning with a massive 39 touches, six marks, five tackles, six inside 50s and a goal, marginally ahead of teammates Bailey Rogers (36 disposals, one goal) and Ryan Lim (34 disposals, one goal).

 

Picture credit: David Mariuz / SANFL

State Leagues preview: Opening rounds kick-off across the country

IN a Draft Central first, we have streamlined a look across the nation with a number of state leagues returning to action over the Easter long weekend. Competitions in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland all kick-off over the weekend and we preview them all in one convenient preview. At the time of publishing, only the South Australian and Tasmanian teams were out, with our West Australian and Queensland previews to come.

South Australia:

The much anticipated South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition kicks off starting tonight in a huge opening long weekend of action.

Tasmanian key forward Jackson Callow will be one to watch for Norwood tonight as they host Port Adelaide returning to the competition after a year off due to the COVID-19 restrictions regarding AFL non-selected players in state leagues. With ex-Geelong talent Jacob Kennerley and ex-Swans tall Michael Knoll returning to Coopers Stadium, the home team will be hard to beat. For Port fans, they will get a glimpse at recent draftees, father-son prospect Taj Schofield and key forward Ollie Lord, whilst the likes of Dylan Williams and Joel Garner are also named in there.

Speaking of ex-AFL talent, South Adelaide has bolstered its list with no bigger name than ex-Crow and Blue, Bryce Gibbs joining the Panthers. He joins ex-Cat Jake Tarca and ex-Lion Sam Skinner, whilst former State Under 18s player Damon Frietag has also joined the cause, Potential number one pick Jason Horne is the player many will turn in to watch, named on the bench to start 2021. Their opponents Adelaide is in the same boat to the Port Magpies, returning to the competition for 2021. Next-Generation Academy (NGA) member Tariek Newchurch is an exciting talent to watch named off half-back, with AFL-listed Crows Jackson Hately, Riley Thilthorpe and Fischer McAsey alongside another NGA draftee in James Borlase. Thilthorpe being named on a wing will be an interesting one to watch, showing off the 200cm key position player’s versatility.

Looking to the other Good Friday clash between Central District and North Adelaide, GWS GIANTS’ Academy member Harry Grant has crossed to the Dogs, with Tom Graham stepping up to League level after plying his trade with the Reserves following a 2019 premiership with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League. Tasmanian Aiden Grace arrives from Glenorchy, whilst the Bulldogs brother-duo of Travis and Jarrod Schiller will find plenty of the ball. Lachlan Grubb and Lewis Cowham are among the ones to watch in the Reserves side. For North Adelaide, reigning Margarey Medallist Campbell Combe will look to get his season off to a perfect start, with ex-Power and Suns talent Aaron Young joining the team, and former Under 18s state representative Dyson Hilder at full-forward.

In a mid-afternoon game at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, the Eagles will unveil ex-Crow Riley Knight, as well as former Central talents Daniel and Troy Menzel for their clash against Sturt. James Tsitas has remained in South Australia rather than head back to the VFL, while Kobe Mutch will complete a dominant midfield hoping to get back on an AFL list after his time at Essendon. Ex-Crow Patrick Wilson will don the Double Blues colours in 2021 and is straight into the midfield, with former Under 18s state representative Josh Shute also in the side for his League debut. Jordan Houlahan and Zane Kirkwood will once again be keen players for the visitors.

In the final game of the round, Glenelg hosts West Adelaide tomorrow evening. The Tigers have brought in two ex-AFL talents in former Swan Toby Pink, and North Melbourne tall Sam Durdin. Both will provide great versatility around the ground, and back-to-back leading goalkicker Liam McBean will start off another season back at full-forward. Margarey Medallist from a couple of seasons ago Luke Partington will return again for the Bays, as Cooper Horsnell could be among a number of junior players to step up to League level in Round 1. For West Adelaide, Kieren Lovell has joined the side after a stint with Tigers in the TSL last season, while Tom Murphy has been named in the side after his stint with North Melbourne. Josh Gore will be a very handy goalkicker inside 50, while over-age draft prospect Jye Sindeberry has been named at centre half-back for the match.

 

TASMANIA:

Looking down on the Apple Isle, the youth of the competition will be reduced when Tasmania Devils enter the NAB League competition after it was cancelled in 2020. Nonetheless, there are still some good young talents to keep an eye on, and established players who will stand up.

North Hobart kicks off its campaign against Tigers in what should be a fascinating contest. Youngsters Jye Menzie and George McLeod are among the ones to watch for the Demons, as they hope to topple a Tigers side that has lost key ball winner, Kieren Lovell to the SANFL. Lachlan Gadomski remains an important tall for the Tigers, with Sam Duigan a key inclusion for the Kingborough-based side.

In a massive 2020 Tasmanian State League Grand Final rematch, the two Launceston sides go head-to-head with North Launceston up against reigning premiers, Launceston. Young midfielder Ollie Sanders will play a crucial role on the inside, with plenty of chances over the off-season for the Northern Bombers, though Jay Foon and Brad Cox-Goodyer remain among the top players in the side, and Angus Jeffries another teenager to keep an eye on in 2021. Launceston will have its forward line combination of Jay Blackberry and Dylan Riley, as Jake Hinds will line-up again in midfield for the team.

The other match for the weekend is Lauderdale up against Clarence. The Bombers will welcome Allen Christensen to the side, with the ex-AFL livewire named in the middle, team up with Sam Siggins in there. Clarence have a ton of youth on display, led by last year’s Rising Star in Ollie Davis back again, alongside Ethan Jackson, Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes among others looking for a good 2021 season in the red and white.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

Peel Thunder vs. East Fremantle
Subiaco vs. East Perth
Perth vs. West Coast
South Fremantle vs. West Perth
Swan Districts vs. Claremont

QUEENSLAND:

Noosa Tigers vs. Wilston Grange Gorillas

Just the one match this weekend in a standalone clash between new Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) newcomers Noosa Tigers, and Wilston Grange Gorillas. The match, set to be played at Rococo Oval in Noosa, will have a 2pm start if it goes ahead. With much uncertainty around the COVID-19 outbreak in Queensland, there is yet to be confirmation the match will go ahead. The teams are also yet to be named due to the uncertainty around the outbreak.

Picture credit: Solstice Digital

TSL scouting notes: North Launceston vs. Clarence

IN the first of two Tasmanian State League (TSL) pieces wrapping up the first week of finals, we took a look at the first against fourth clash between North Launceston and Clarence and some of the top stars out on display.

NORTH LAUNCESTON vs. CLARENCE

By: Peter Williams

Twelve consecutive goals to North Launceston reminded spectators at UTAS Stadium just what the reigning premiers were capable of as the Bombers rampaged to a whopping 78-point win over Clarence. The Roos were plucky early kicking the first two goals of the game through bottom-agers Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes and then leading by as much as 13 points at one stage after Josh Green kicked his side’s third major. Many expected a North Launceston response, but no one expected a 12 goals to zero domination over the next three quarters – including five in the final term – to run out 15.8 (98) to 3.2 (20) winners.

Daniel Withers was electric up forward and got better as the game wore on booting five goals for the Bombers, whilst Tom Bennett (three goals) and Taylor Whitford (two) both hit the scoreboard. Brad Cox-Goodyer was best on ground kicking a goal and always looked lively, whilst Jack Avent (one), Arion Richter-Salter and Thomas Donnelly were also standouts. For the Roos, Zac Buechner, Ollie Davis and Gardner all tried hard, with Davis breaking through a tag to be a force on the inside, whilst unfortunately for the Roos, they just faded as experience took over.

North Launceston:

#16 Ollie Sanders

Had a classy game for the Bombers, spreading well and getting better as the match wore on. His work rate and repeat efforts to get to multiple stoppages was admirable and in particular he looked lively in the front half of the ground. Sanders’ third term was the busiest for the talent, working hard in the back pocket to win the ball, then pushing into the midfield having plenty of touches. He spread regularly and then did well early in that term to speed out of a stoppage and use the ball well by hand and get it back not long after in space. Overall he was impressive for the Bombers, finishing with 18 disposals, six marks, five clearances and two tackles.

#64 Baynen Lowe

Lowe loves the contested side of things and lays some fierce tackles. He showed some quick hands under pressure, and was able to get it out whilst being tackled early in the second term. After a quiet first term, Lowe worked into the game and used his pace and defensive pressure to unsettle the opposition. In the third quarter, Lowe had a couple of score assists and was involved in a handball chain down the wing then hit up a target inside 50. He took a strong mark 40m out later in the quarter but his shot went to the top of the square and was cleared. Another good effort was late in the final term, spoiling one-on-one then handballing off which led forward to another goal for the reigning premiers. All up, Lowe had four score involvements to go with his 18 disposals, two marks, two clearances and five tackles.

 

Clarence:

#20 Oliver Davis

The TSL Rising Star really came of age when he found North Launceston’s Ben Simpson walk up to him from the first bounce. Davis was tightly guarded by Simpson and afforded no space around the clearances, but like he tends to do, he just wears down his opponents. Davis might not have had the greatest impact he has had in games – he was being tightly held – but he never gives in and just throws himself at the ball and ball carrier and his work rate is enormous. With clean hands in congestion and always giving it a crack even with the mammoth deficit mounting, Davis kept trying and finished with 18 disposals – 11 contested – six tackles and three clearances.

#23 Sam Banks

The most lively of the Clarence young guns, Banks played in defence and tried to use his run and skills to break the lines. He took a strong contested one-on-one mark on the wing, and whilst he was often under pressure in defence, made the best of it. Had one weird, uncharacteristic turnover in defence that triggered a series of mistakes by both teams, and then copped a hip and shoulder from the goal umpire in a couple of minutes he would rather forget. He readjusted and and was able to try his heart out driving the ball long, though the North Launceston defence was set up well. By the final siren, Banks had 18 disposals, one mark, one tackle, two clearances and three score involvements.

#34 Noah Holmes

It was a lonely day to be a full-forward for Clarence after quarter time, with Holmes winning the majority of his four touches in the first term when the Roos looked lively. Had one of the highlights of the day with a goal off a step 50m out and kicked it with ease like it was a 15m pass. He moved into the ruck to start the fourth term, but ultimately like most of his teammates had a quiet outing with four disposals, two tackles, two score involvements, one hitout and one goal.

#39 Darcy Gardner

Symbolic of many Clarence players, Gardner tried hard but was ultimately overwhelmed by the experienced North Launceston midfield. He ran hard in the opening term on the transition to lose his opponent and mark 30m out to slot home the opening goal of the match. His first term was huge with a great tackle on an opponent to stop a clearance, and then pumped a raking ball in deep that travelled 60-odd metres. He was quieter after quarter time, finishing with 11 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four score involvements.

#46 Baker Smith

Saw plenty of the ball in defence, but had a tough day on Blake McCulloch. When he had the ball, Smith looked composed and showed he could close down his opponent with well timed spoils. Often he was starting scoring chains from defence, but had his hands full with his opponent. McCulloch missed a couple of chances, but Smith still held him to the one goal from eight touches and three marks, far from disgraced against a distinguished opponent. Smith also hurt himself landing a little awkwardly in the last term, finishing with six disposals, one mark, two tackles and three score involvements for the match.

Picture: Andrew Woodgate