Tag: draftees

AFL Women’s draftee watch: Round 4 – Saint Smith sustains shining performance

ROUND 4 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season reverted back into it’s three-day stretch over the weekend, with a number of fresh faces continuing to make their mark on the competition and establish their roles in each team. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared across the latest set of fixtures, focusing on players in every match under 21 years of age and from the most recent draft crop.

St Kilda vs. Geelong

St Kilda shook off a youthful Geelong outfit on Friday night to kick off Round 4, with a star Saints draftee continuing to prove her worth. Number six pick, Tyanna Smith has somewhat flown under the radar thus far but is as consistent a performer as any draftee this year, especially after notching her third 16-disposal performance in four games. Having slotted seamlessly into her side’s midfield, it seems inevitable that Smith will soon be recognises with a rising star nomination. Why not now?

Laura Gardiner became Geelong’s newest debutant in the same game, registering three disposals and breaching either arc in her work on the outer. Fellow first year players Stephanie Williams and Olivia Barber also retained their places in the senior side, with the latter again showing some promise as the Cats were kept to just one goal for three terms. She finished with a minor score from her six touches and one mark.

Carlton vs. Richmond

Carlton scraped home in a thriller on Saturday afternoon, overcoming a horror start to beat Richmond by five points at Princes Park. Mimi Hill has was the Blues’ first selection in last year’s draft and continues to be their pick of the first year players, contributing some excellent moments on the wing. She finishes with 13 disposals and two marks, showing great poise and clean hands in the process.

Daisy Walker again featured for Carlton after her Round 3 debut and was under the pump down back. She registered virtually identical stats to her maiden outing (four kicks, three handballs) but also stepped up to the plate with four tackles. Number one pick Ellie McKenzie was also excellent for Richmond, proving all-class on the ball as she gathered 14 touches and four marks rotating through midfield.

Fremantle vs. Gold Coast

Fremantle flexed its muscle in the second half to see off Gold Coast on Saturday, extending the Dockers’ unbeaten streak once more. First round selection, Sarah Verrier finished with three disposals and four tackles, but had a moment she will never forget in the third term when she slotted her maiden senior goal. The 18-year-old kicked truly after earning a holding the ball free kick inside 50.

An inexperienced Gold Coast side fought hard and was within striking distance for half of the game, but could not match Freo’s firepower with its only score, a goal, registered in the first term. Lucy Single got her hands dirty for the Suns with seven tackles, while Maddison Levi laid four in her six-disposal display. Meanwhile, Daisy D’Arcy had it three times as the young Suns continue their learning curve.

North Melbourne vs. Collingwood

Saturday night’s Marvel Stadium blockbuster saw Collingwood swoop on North Melbourne, with the Magpies holding their highly-touted opponents goalless to remain undefeated. Collingwood father-daughter coup, Tarni Brown continues to impress in black and white, cementing her spot in the side with another 13 touches (11 handballs), two marks and three tackles.

Joanna Lin has enjoyed a three-game stretch since debuting for the Magpies and managed her highest disposal haul (five) in this game, while Bella Eddey produced the same numbers for North Melbourne in what was a tough day forward of centre for the Roos. Having played all four games so far, she is another to have cracked a top side to good effect.

Brisbane vs. Adelaide

Two South Australian draftees featured as Brisbane and Adelaide locked horns in Sunday’s all-important clash at Hickey Park, which the Crows took out. Lions debutant Indy Tahau was promising in her maiden appearance, managing a mark among her eight touches. Teah Charlton has shown flashes of brilliance for Adelaide, but did not produce too many more highlights for her reel in a six-disposal outing up forward.

Western Bulldogs vs. Melbourne

Whitten Oval has proven a fortress for the Western Bulldogs this season and they claimed another big scalp on home turf after beating Melbourne on Sunday. Number two pick, Jess Fitzgerald continues to shine with her scoreboard impact and fierce two-way attack, booting a pair of crucial goals among her 12 touches while also laying eight tackles. Teammate Sarah Hartwig is also growing in confidence and managed 13 disposals, including two marks and two rebound 50s.

The Demons did not quite click up forward, at least from a conversion standpoint, but it was not for a lack of trying. Star draftee Alyssa Bannan again troubled the scorers, just not in the majors column as she snared a behind from her three disposals and two marks. Further afield, Eliza McNamara is another draftee to have grasped an early senior opportunity and finished with nine disposals and four tackles this time out.

GWS vs. West Coast

Greater Western Sydney (GWS) made it two wins on the trot by overcoming West Coast on Sunday, boosted by the return of a key draftee. Tarni Evans is the player in question and added some spark to the Giants’ lineup in her first game back from suspension. She finished with 12 disposals, three rebound 50s and a couple of tackles in a swift reminded of her value.

Bella Lewis continues to be thrown in the deep end for West Coast and again stood up to the rigours of senior midfield play, finishing as her side’s highest ball winner (16 disposals) behind a raft of Giants. The 18-year-old also dug in for a career-high nine tackles, defying her frame. 19-year-old Amber Ward also chimed in with six touches, as the South Australian remains among senior calculations.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

AFL Women’s draftee watch – Round 1: Nine of the top 10 make their debuts

ROUND 1 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season was won and done across four enthralling days of action, with a number of fresh faces making their mark on the competition. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared over the weekend, focusing on the players under 20 years of age from the most recent draft crop.

Carlton vs. Collingwood

Collingwood picked up an upset victory over its most fierce rival on Thursday night in a tense season opener, with three members of the Magpies’ 2020 draft haul making their debuts in black and white. Father-daughter selection Tarni Brown got her first taste of senior footy, making a steady start to life in the big league with nine disposals and two tackles.

Amelia Velardo donned Collingwood’s famous number five on her debut, fittingly the same amount of football games she has played – ever. The Western Jets graduate featured among a strong Magpies forward-line, but could not quite find the goals. 19-year-old South Australian coup Bella Smith also made her first appearance, a steep rise having been picked up as an undrafted free agent.

Mimi Hill was one of four Carlton debutants on Thursday, but the only one out of her side’s most recent draft intake. The former Oakleigh Chargers captain is already one of Daniel Harford‘s favourites and was productive moving forward from the outer, gathering 12 disposals in a promising maiden appearance for the Blues.

St Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs

St Kilda unveiled all four of its 2020 draftees in a Friday night victory over the Western Bulldogs, headed by number six selection Tyanna Smith. The Dandenong Stingrays standout was terrific on debut, slotting seamlessly into the Saints’ midfield and providing plenty of drive going forward. Among her 16 disposals was her first AFL Women’s goal from a quick chance inside 50, putting the cherry on top of her game.

One of the great feel-good stories out of Round 1 was Alice Burke making her debut against the Dogs, who are coached by her famous father, Nathan. Alice’s Saints got the result, as she got a taste for senior football coming off the bench. Renee Saulitis was the other 18-year-old Saints draftee to feature and looked relatively comfortable on the ball for her seven disposals.

The Bulldogs had a couple of exciting new faces make their mark too, with youth a key feature of the developing squad. Number two pick Jess Fitzgerald found the ball eight times and was lively on the attack from midfield, even earning a shot on goal for her side. Sarah Hartwig‘s game was better than her five touches suggest, with the versatile defender impacting on the intercept and constantly looking to rebound via her long left boot.

Gold Coast vs. Melbourne

Gold Coast and Melbourne put out the most total draftees of any matchup in Round 1, with seven in the Under 20 bracket as the Dees made a winning start to the season. Gold Coast blooded its first round draftee in Annise Bradfield, along with three other 18-year-old recruits. Along with Bradfield, Maddison Levi and Daisy D’Arcy were kept under 10 disposals, while Lucy Single had it 13 times in the loss.

Melbourne also unveiled its first pick as Alyssa Bannan donned the red and the blue up forward, managing a shot on goal and two marks among her five disposals. Megan Fitzsimon also got a crack first up, and Eliza McNamara put her hand up for rising star honours with an impressive 18-disposal display on debut. The tough Sandringham Dragons graduate lived up to the hype attached to her in preseason and looks to have already cemented her spot in the hardened Demons side.

West Coast vs. Adelaide

West Coast promised to throw its top young draftees straight into the deep end and did exactly that as number three pick, Bella Lewis featured in the cut and thrust of midfield. While the Eagles went down comfortably to Adelaide in the end, Lewis was a bright spot in the engine room alongside second year star Mikayla Bowen, while high-flier Shanae Davison featured further afield.

Teah Charlton was Adelaide’s sole representative in this category, with the fourth picked player in last year’s draft notching eight disposals and laying seven tackles. Her dynamism and explosiveness up forward bodes well for plenty of highlights to come, though she was unable to find the big sticks on debut.

Geelong vs. North Melbourne

Top 10 pick Darcy Moloney faced a baptism of fire in her first outing for the Cats, as they went down by 62 points to the rampant North Melbourne Kangaroos. Moloney managed six touches as the lone debutant in the hoops, among a young side which was outdone for strength and size.

Bella Eddey had a debut to remember as she snared her maiden senior goal in North’s big win. The Sandringham Dragons product, dubbed ‘Silk’, also gathered six disposals. Alice O’Loughlin was the other North draftee to feature, cracking the team first up but finding just two touches as an abundance of established stars ran the show.

Richmond vs. Brisbane

All eyes were on Punt Road Oval as number one pick Ellie McKenzie made her AFLW debut for Richmond, but the result did not go her way as Brisbane’s mix of youth and experience came up trumps. The Northern Knights graduate featured on a wing for the improving Tigers, showing glimpses of her best to finish with 12 disposals and four marks. 19-year-old draftee Luka Lesosky-Hay also made her senior debut in the yellow and black, kept to just three touches. The Lions did not field any of their 2020 draftees.

Fremantle vs. GWS

Both Fremantle and GWS handed debuts to their 2020 first round draft picks as the Dockers shook off their brave opponents after half time at Fremantle Oval. Sarah Verrier gathered five disposals for the team in purple, showing plenty of skill and class across half-forward in her short spurts on the ball. Tarni Evans showcased her running power with some terrific efforts on the outer for GWS, with versatility also a key part of her upside. She finished with nine disposals and two clearances.

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 17: Green stars, Rivers comes up clutch as Demons stay alive

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend spilled back into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 16 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STATS: 30 disposals (22 handballs), 2 marks, 3 tackles, 4 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal assist

It is hard to believe that Green has only managed five AFL outings in his debut season, but he again made the most of some movement among the GWS midfield. Last year’s number 10 pick racked up a game-high 30 disposals, dominating at the coalface with 21 contested possessions and four clearances. His extraction work in-close was on point, and Green looks as comfortable as any first year inside midfielder in recent memory. His 191cm/89kg frame aids that, but the GIANTS Academy graduate proved he is more than just a brute with his game on the weekend.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
20 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 clearances, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 481 metres gained, 2 score involvements

Another high-end draft pick, Anderson continues to thrive despite somewhat of a taper in Gold Coast’s form late in season 2020. Having cut his teeth on the outside, the Oakleigh Chargers product has transitioned well to a more inside-oriented role in the back half of his debut campaign. It is a position where Anderson’s penetrative kick and forward thinking comes to the fore, as he sets his side on the front foot from midfield. Anderson also got his hands on the ball plenty of times once again, just reaching the 20-disposal mark and allowing the SUNS to enter dangerous areas.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
15 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 7 score involvements, 1 goal, 3 behinds

Pickett has been ultra impressive in his maiden senior campaign, and again proved a thorn in the opposition’s side in Round 17. The Demons sought a small forward with their selection of Pickett, but have received much more than tackling pressure and goal nous, as the South Australian also continues to prove his class with ball in hand further afield. He is often as creative and productive forward of centre as any player afield, but his radar was a touch off in front of the big sticks as he managed 1.3. The all-action prospect will undoubtedly put bums on seats in future.

Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
16 disposals (75% efficiency), 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 3 score involvements, 2 goals

The hero of an astonishing Melbourne triumph, Rivers is beginning to flourish in more advanced roles among the Dees’ set-up. A slider in last year’s draft, the West Australian is proving those who overlooked him wrong as one of the more seamless draftees to make the AFL transition. His ability to run, gun, and penetrate from behind the ball is already a known quantity, but add some scoreboard impact and midfield minutes from his latest outing, and you have a player with serious upside. His clutch goal late in the piece sealed Melbourne’s win, keeping its finals hopes alive with one round remaining.

Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)
21 disposals (76% efficiency), 4 marks, 5 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 score involvements

Adelaide pulled off a third-consecutive win over the weekend, booting Carlton out of finals contention and sending off Bryce Gibbs in style against his old side. The rebuild has proven long and strenuous throughout 2020, but the green shoots are beginning to appear, with the likes of Schoenberg reaping the benefits of added exposure at AFL level. Accustomed to contesting against mature bodies, the South Australian was productive both on the inside and outside of midfield. His clean hands and disposal, combined with solid defensive output at the contest make for a well rounded midfield package, which he again proved to be in his seventh senior game.

Others in action:

Brad Close (Geelong)
Keidean Coleman (Brisbane)
Will Day (Hawthorn)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Mitch Hibberd (Essendon)
Finn Maginness (Hawthorn)
Flynn Perez (North Melbourne)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

Featured image: Melbourne’s Trent Rivers celebrates | Michael Klein/News Corp

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 11: Flanders debuts, Pickett shows his class

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend again spilled into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 11 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition, and Sam Flanders making his debut. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
STATS: 12 disposals, 8 contested possessions, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 1 clearance, 3 inside 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal, 1 goal assist

While his nous around goal has been evident since his first showings at the elite level, Pickett’s ability to act as the key link in Melbourne’s forward transitions came to the fore on Sunday. The diminutive South Australian is as creative as they come, using his speed, agility, vision, and elite disposal all at once to help the Demons remain potent on the attack. He isn’t shy to a high-flying mark, but Pickett’s work at ground level was exceptional in his side’s win over North Melbourne, and really gave the Demons a spark. He brings life to each possession chain he impacts, and should easily maintain his spot if he can consistently produce this kind of output.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
15 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 4 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements

With good mate Matt Rowell taking notes on the sidelines, Anderson has quietly gone about perhaps putting together the finest debut season of anyone this year. It has hardly been surprising given he was the number two pick, but Anderson continues to impact games and find plenty of the ball. He gets involved in transition while stationed on the wing, and has also chimed in with some work on the inside. His disposal may be a little rushed and raw at times, but Anderson is capable of gaining good meterage and getting creative in the forward half. He somehow seems to be flying under the radar.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
18 disposals, 89% disposal efficiency, 4 marks, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 3 score involvements

Another youngster who has been a real asset for his side since debuting is Day, who arguably looks as comfortable at the level as anyone in his draft class. He has shown to be reliable on the ball with terrific decision making, efficiency, and penetration by foot, while also doubling his impact with intercept marking in defence. The South Australian is the type of player you trust in possession when breaking forward, or even under pressure on the last line. Developing more of a one-on-one, defensive game will be the next step in his development at half-back.

Trey Ruscoe (Collingwood)
6 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 score involvements, 2 goals

His stats may not again tell the full story, but Ruscoe has hit the ground running upon earning a berth at AFL level. The 192cm utility has found a home up forward, where he pops up in important passages of play. The Magpies may have coasted home in the end, but Ruscoe’s two goals came at crucial junctures in the contest, and helped his side get on top of a plucky Adelaide outfit. Those majors came back-to-back in the third term, and boy did he love his handywork.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
20 disposals, 10 contested possessions, 1 mark, 4 tackles, 6 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 score involvements, 1 goal assist

Serong looks every bit the 200-game player that Fremantle would have signed up for having taken him with pick eight in last year’s draft. Much like Rowell at the beginning of the season, the Gippsland Power graduate has hardly looked out of place in the cut and thrust of midfield, with his contested game again shining against the Hawks. Not only did Serong extract, but he also continued to provide some real drive going forward for the Dockers, contributing plenty with his 20 disposals. Sharpening up his ball use to hit targets a touch more consistently, especially under pressure, will take him to the next level.

Others in action:

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Brad Close (Geelong)
Sam Flanders (Gold Coast)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Harry Schoenberg (Adelaide)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 3: Rowell wows again, Ash debuts

SIX draftees from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how they performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. Lachlan Ash was the sole debutant of his cohort in Round 3, with each player holding their spot while chances for Melbourne and Essendon newcomers have been postponed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

STATS: 20 disposals, 1 mark, 10 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements, 2 goals, 141 SuperCoach

It is very, very difficult to avoid Rowell’s name as the standout for a second week running, and he is proving to those who had not previously caught a glimpse of his game that he rarely has a bad one. Another 20 disposals and two goals were among the highlights for the number one pick, spending over 80 per cent of the match on-field and right amongst the engine room action.

Rowell is simply unstoppable at the contest, perennially the first to the fall of the ball and relevant going both ways, with a massive 10 tackles to go with his ball winning exploits. His left-footed goal on the run had us thinking of his 60-metre bomb in the NAB League Grand Final last year, and the kid can simply do it all.

None of it is by chance either, as the 180cm wunderkind sets the standard for work rate both on and off the field, and his professionalism is conveyed in the most perfect form – with a simple tuck of the jumper. It is no surprise from our point of view to see Rowell hitting the ground running, but he has gone the extra mile in playing a big role in Gold Coast’s incredible momentum shift and consecutive wins upon the season’s restart.

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

16 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements, 1 goal, 80 SuperCoach

The SUNS Academy product has looked increasingly comfortable across each of his first three AFL outings, culminating in a strong 16-disposal effort towards his side’s second win on the trot. A versatile and clever small, Budarick reads the play incredibly well and used his smarts in that sense across the defensive line, working hard to intercept Adelaide’s forward 50 entries and faring well in one-on-one contests. His disposal and movement up the ground were also assured, and he even broke through for his maiden goal at the elite level.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

9 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 1 score involvement

While he was a touch quieter in his third senior appearance, Anderson played a solid game among a team of even contributors. The number two pick was utilised mostly on the outside, finding most of his touches forward of the wing with a good mix of contested and uncontested involvements. Alongside best mate and junior teammate Rowell, the 191cm jet has slotted straight into the SUNS lineup and looks poised to remain in the winning side.

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

7 disposals, 3 marks, 1 tackle, 2 rebound 50s, 71% disposal efficiency

It has been a tough start to life in the AFL for McAsey given Adelaide’s downfalls, but the Crows picked him for a reason among the top 10 and have shown great faith in the promising key defender. Like many others, he is beginning to look a touch more comfortable at the level with time, and battles against some pretty stiff opposition at this point will bode well for his future. While he is still honing his defensive craft and bodywork, McAsey was relatively calm on the ball in the face of Gold Coast’s pressure.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

8 disposals, 3 marks, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 score involvement

Young is still growing to the rigours of the next level after being able to impose himself previously and generate incredibly penetrative plays off half-back, with a touch more defensive work required in his current role at Fremantle. Still, the highly-touted top 10 pick was able to feature much further afield in this outing after a first half played out of his usual post, and he spent just over 65 per cent of his time on-ground.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

7 disposals, 3 marks, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 71% disposal efficiency

It was somewhat of a baptism of fire for Ash as the GIANTS and Bulldogs went to war in a heated affair, with the classy operator utilised in his most comfortable half-back role. The number four pick could not quite generate the same dash, dare, and penetration we came accustomed to seeing at the junior level, but he was quite sound on the ball across the backline. In a typically tough side to crack, Ash could see more opportunity given injuries are again taking a toll on GWS, with his versatility freeing others up to play up the ground.

Classic Contests: Jets hold off fast-finishing Rebels

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to just one year to mid-2019, where the Metro side snuck home on enemy territory.

2019 NAB League, Round 11
Saturday June 22, 11:30am
Mars Stadium

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 1.7 | 4.7 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN JETS 3.1 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 9.4 (58)


GWV: C. Giddings, L. O’Brien, C. Nagorcka, L. Herbert, F. Marris, M. Martin, N. Caris
A. Manton 2, E. Ford, M. Cousins, K. Borg, J. Honey, H. Schumann, N. Reynolds, L. Vidovic


GWV: L. Herbert, M. Martin, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, M. Herbert, N. Stevens
C. Raak, L. Rocci, J. Kellett, L. Phillips, E. Ford, M. Cousins

Draftees in action:

GWV: Nil
Josh Honey (Carlton)

A battle of the two western sides went down in Round 11 of the 2019 NAB League, with GWV Rebels hosting the Western Jets in Ballarat on a late-June Saturday morning. Both sides were a touch undermanned amid the national carnival, with just one future draftee taking the field in Western graduate and Carlton rookie, Josh Honey.

The form between the two sides was heavily contrasted, with the Rebels coming off a 111-point belting at the hands of Eastern where they were kept goalless, capping a five-game losing run. The Jets were faring much better at that point, earning three wins on the trot including the scalp of Gippsland in Round 10 as they readied for their first meeting with GWV for the year.

It all meant Western came in right in the thick of a top three charge, sitting just two points off third and four off first in fifth spot at 6-3. On the other hand, the Rebels were down in 15th with their 2-7 record, but had some decent talent in which would have been hungry to arrest their alarming form slump.

For not of a lack of trying, the hosts found themselves immediately behind as Western adjusted better to the conditions, booting 1.3 to the Jet’s 3.1 in the opening term. The yips carried through to the second term for the Rebels too, this time exceeding Western’s scoring shots with a total of four, but putting them all through the behinds as the Jets managed 1.1 to open up a 13-point buffer at the main break, with double GWV’s score.

But with the game opening up slightly and the Rebels still within striking distance, we had a game on our hands. The home side proved as much, straightening up in front of goal to slam home three-straight majors in the third term to close the gap to eight points heading into the final stanza. While a goal to Mitch Martin midway through the term brought the margin back to a single point, Western had all the answers to run home seven-point winners in a tense finish.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton was the only player to notch multiple goals with two on a low-scoring day, with 14 individuals across either side finding the big sticks. GWV’s Liam Herbert led all comers with 28 disposals and a goal, followed by Riley Polkinghorne (26) and Martin (20) for the Rebels, while Daly Andrews (27) was among four Jets to rack up over 20 touches. Honey was impactful with a goal from 16 disposals, but it was Western Bulldogs NGA hopeful Cody Raak who was named the winners’ best with 14 disposals and three marks from defence.

The two sides would go on to meet again in Wildcard Round, with Western advancing to the finals on the back of a 50-point win having finished 7th at 8-7. The Jets would crash out to Gippsland in the semi-finals after overcoming Northern in their elimination bout, with GWV’s 6-9 season ending at that. Jay Rantall would be the sole GWV graduate to find a home at AFL level, though that could well change in future, while Honey and Emerson Jeka were both picked up in the rookie draft following their time at Western.

Classic Contests: Chargers bundle Bushies out in straight sets

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2015, where the two sides met in a tense semi-final.

2015 TAC Cup, Semi Finals
Sunday September 13, 11:00am
Ikon Park

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 3.9 | 5.12 | 9.13 (67)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.4 | 4.6 | 7.10 | 10.13 (73)


Murray: J. Schache 2, C. Oliver 2, T. McMullan, L. Smith, B. Smith, L. Tiziani, H. Payne
T. Phillips 2, L. Walker 2, P. Kerr, D. Cuningham, C. Lane, L. Byrne-Jones, J. Ridley, H. Thompson


Murray: L. Tiziani, C. Oliver, M. Waite, J. Schache, H. Payne, W. Brodie
L. Byrne-Jones, K. Answerth, D. Beddison, L. Walker, P. Phillips, J. Firns

Draftees in action:

Murray: Will Brodie*, Nicholas Coughlan**, James Cousins*, Ryan Garthwaite*, Mitch King, Harry Morrison*, Clayton Oliver, Josh Schache, Jy Simpkin*, Lachie Tiziani
 Ben Crocker, David Cuningham, Taylin Duman*, Dion Johnstone*, Patrick Kerr*, Sam McLarty*, Tom Phillips**, Jordan Ridley*

* – denotes bottom-aged
* – denotes 19-year-old

It was do-or-die for the Oakleigh Chargers and Murray Bushrangers come semi-finals time in the 2015 TAC Cup season. Having finished third at 12-5, Murray had exhausted its second chance rights after losing its qualifying final to Dandenong, while Oakleigh (sixth, 9-8) comfortably accounted for Gippsland in its elimination final tie.

Despite the loss a week earlier and the lingering fact that Oakleigh had beaten them by 10 points in Round 5, the Bushrangers would come in as favourites given their superior record and the Chargers’ 0-3 run prior to finals. Both sides were producing ridiculous numbers of AFL draftees at the time too, with Murray boasting 10 in its lineup while Oakleigh laid claim to eight – both with players across all three age groups.

Ikon Park set the scene for another big day of post-season fixtures, and the opening to this bout lived right up to the finals atmosphere in North Carlton. Both sides managed 2.4 apiece in the first term, before Oakleigh found a way on top heading into the main break. The lead was three points, credit to the Chargers’ superior finishing with 4.6 to Murray’s 3.9 – a gap of three total scoring shots to the side in deficit.

Oakleigh threatened to take the game by the scruff of its neck but could not quite pull away in the second half, with low-scoring resuming in the tricky conditions and a two-goal buffer about the best the Chargers could manage. It meant the game would be set up for a grandstand finish, with the loser set to say goodbye to season 2015. Murray sured up its kicking in the final term but could not quite sneak ahead, falling five points short with its effort of 4.1 replied to with Oakleigh’s 3.3.

Among the four players two boot two goals across both sides were three eventual draftees, with Oakleigh’s Tom Phillips managing the feat, while top five picks Josh Schache and Clayton Oliver did the same for Murray. Schache and Oliver were also among the Bushrangers’ best alongside SUNS draftee Will Brodie, with GWS Academy selection Lachie Tiziani leading the way. Lachlan Byrne-Jones earned that honour for Oakleigh, while future Blues David Cuningham and Patrick Kerr found the goals once each.

While Murray’s run ended there, the Chargers would go on to complete a remarkable finals run which ended in premiership glory, beating the Eastern Ranges come grand final day after knocking over minor premier North Ballarat in the preliminary stage. Six Chargers were drafted in 2015 to go with nine the year after, while Murray also had a total of 15 players move on to the elite level over the same period.


Keeping tabs: Standout draftees from Round 2

ROUND two provided many young draftees with the chance to improve upon their debut games. With nine clubs playing in front of their home crowd for the first time in 2018, fans finally got to see their new players up close. Many of the draftees put in some greatly improved performances this Easter Weekend. 

Luke Davies-Uniacke 

Davies-Uniacke impressed for North Melbourne in their Good Friday victory over St.Kilda. In what was certainly a scrappy game, ‘LDU’ laid five tackles, had 16 disposals and took three marks. His delivery by foot was excellent, recording a disposal efficiency of 75 per cent. Having spent time as an outside and inside midfielder, Davies-Uniacke’s in-and-under stoppage work was a highlight, totalling four clearances whilst also managing nine contested possessions. In what could be a tough year for the Kangaroos, Luke Davies-Uniacke will certainly give fans something to get excited about for the future.

Adam Cerra

Taken with pick five of last year’s national draft, Fremantle’s Adam Cerra made his debut in Optus Stadium’s purple christening. The classy onballer showcased why clubs rated him so highly as he collected nine disposals at 78 pe rcent efficiency and did not record a turnover. Spending most of the night up forward, Cerra kicked two goals and took three marks inside 50, proving his ability in attack. He seemed to make a positive impact with every possession against Essendon and will no-doubt continue to feature for Fremantle in 2018.

Andrew Brayshaw

After a heavy debut loss to Port at the Adelaide Oval, Brayshaw appeared more comfortable in front of the Dockers faithful. Playing on-ball in his 65 percent time on ground, he was not flashy but recorded 16 disposals, had 23 pressure acts (second for the Dockers behind debutant Mitch Crowden), four intercept possessions, five tackles and six inside 50s. As he looks to spend more time on ground in the coming weeks, expect Brayshaw to continue to fit in well at AFL level. 

Darcy Fogarty

Darcy Fogarty also made his home debut this round, in what was one of the biggest games of the season. In trademark fashion, Fogarty crashed plenty of packs, applied serious forward pressure and certainly let the Tigers defenders know of his presence. One particular incident saw ‘Fog’ hit premiership player Josh Caddy, making him earn his mark. As the game progressed, Fogarty was involved in a number of fiery incidents and he certainly did not back down. He calmly slotted two set shots which never looked like missing, demonstrating his terrific foot skills. Only recorded the seven disposals, but Fogarty took five marks and looks set to wreck havoc for opposition defences, building a formidable partnership with skipper Taylor Walker.  

Aaron Naughton

The Bulldogs key defender had his work cut out for him in round one, opposed to Giants forwards Jeremy Cameron for parts of the day. However, with superstar Josh Kennedy out for the Eagles, Naughton’s second game proved to be an easier one. He collected 12 disposals at 67 percent efficiency, six intercept possessions, seven marks (including two contested marks), 10 score involvements and sent the ball inside 50 on three occasions. For a key position player, Naughton has made a good, solid start to his AFL career, There’s little doubt he will continue to improve as he gains further experience. 

Liam Ryan

In just his second game, Liam Ryan starred in what was a fantastic victory for the West Coast Eagles. Ryan, taken from WAFL club Subiaco with pick 26 in the 2017 AFL National Draft, recorded 93 per cent of his 14 disposals in the attacking half, finishing the game with three majors. His aerial prowess was on display with three of his six marks being contested, including one screamer late in the opening quarter. The day could’ve been even more productive, considering he totalled three behinds. After years of being looked over by AFL clubs, Ryan is beginning to repay the Eagles recruiters. He has slotted seamlessly into the Eagles forward line, forming one half of a dangerous, electrifying duo with Willie Rioli, who made his debut on Sunday afternoon.

Tim Kelly

The mature-aged recruit continued his great form from round one with a sensational game against Hawthorn in the Easter Monday blockbuster. Kelly amasssed 27 disposals, six marks, four tackles and booted a goal, to be one of Geelong’s best in a high-pressure game. His 13 contested possessions were telling, also finishing the match with four clearances and seven inside 50s, looking as if he was more a 10-year veteran than a first year player.