Tag: Eddie Ford

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2020

BUDDING AFL Draft prospects from around the nation have stamped their claims over the last month with football returning across multiple states, making for a top-end list boasting plenty of movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s second Power Rankings edition for 2020, we again stick to a list of 20 with only a few adjustments made to our initial July rankings. A certain West Australian key forward has pushed into the top 10, while a couple of South Australian midfielders have bolted in from the clouds to also warrant a spot each. All that, and more in our August Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

July Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

July Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

July Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

July Ranking: #5

Last Month: Grainger-Barras has picked up right from where he left off in 2019, slotting back into Swan Districts’ League side after making his senior debut last year. Across the first three rounds, he has averaged 9.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, and 2.3 tackles from half-back, with his most recent outing earning him best afield honours against Subiaco. The promising defender is so assured in the air and reads the game better than most, though can work on finding more of the ball to make even better use of his smarts and composure.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#5 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

July Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another key position player who is thriving at senior level, Thilthorpe has become a consistent figure up forward for West Adelaide’s League side. He has booted four goals across his six games thus far, finding the big sticks in half of his outings. The area Thilthorpe has impressed most in is his marking, having shown a terrific forward 50 presence and the ability to use his reach to take the ball at its highest point. He is difficult to stop when doing so, and doubles his threat with good ground level efforts. Yet to take a game by the scruff of its neck, though that may prove difficult as the Bloods sit at 1-4-1.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number six, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

July Ranking: #6

Last Month: Like many of the Swans Academy prospects, Campbell has been plying his trade in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, running out for the Pennant Hill Demons over the last three weeks. He booted six goals in his first two appearances and was named in the best both times.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

July Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

July Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#9 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

July Ranking: #20

Last Month: McDonald is the big riser this month having put his name in lights at WAFL League level. The 196cm key position forward put on a show in his senior debut with 16 disposals, four marks, and three goals, before going one-better in Round 2 to boot four majors from 15 disposals and seven marks. His marking strength both on the lead and one-on-one has been exceptional, as has his finishing. After a bye in Round 3, expect McDonald to continue to rise.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#10 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

July Ranking: #9

Last Month: Davies has managed to squeeze a QAFL game into his schedule, appearing for the Broadbeach Cats a fortnight ago and booting a goal in their 57-point win over Mt Gravatt.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#11 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Just slipping outside the top 10 due to McDonald’s rise is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

July Ranking: #10

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

July Ranking: #17

Last Month: Another SANFL League representative, Jones’ form has been enough to warrant a decent rise up our board. The solidly-built defender has cemented his spot at senior level, running out in all six of WWT’s fixtures thus far. While he has returned a few down games of under 10 disposals, Jones’ best is first round quality and indicative of a readymade player. Port fans and staff alike may want to downplay his value, but he looms as a prospect just outside of the top 10 range.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister Emma, is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

July Ranking: #13

Last Month: O’Driscoll has been plying his trade at WAFL Colts level, featuring in Rounds 1 and 2 before a bye most recently. He has been named as the Demons’ starting centre half-forward, but after a steady opening performance, looks to have returned to his usual form through midfield with 25 disposals, six marks, and five tackles in Round 2. Enough to hold his spot.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

July Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

July Ranking: #12

Last Month: While the competition has now been suspended, Reid managed to fit in three outings for Leongatha in the Gippsland League. He was named among the best for his two goals in the Parrots’ Round 2 win over Moe, and looks to be shuffling around to a few different positions as he has done previously. Hardly a slide, others in more competitive interstate leagues have just gone ahead of him.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

July Ranking: #16

Last Month: The Swan Districts midfielder has already matched his games tally from 2019, but had his most recent WAFL Colts outing cut short through injury. The bye comes at a good time for Trew as he works to wear off his concussion, but he has otherwise fared well in the junior competition. Across Rounds 1 and 2, Trew averaged 28 disposals, three marks, and five tackles in displays consistent enough to see him hold down the number 16 ranking.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

Another brother-of who should feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should he finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and school football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

July Ranking: NR

Last Month: As by far the most prolific Under 18s ball winner in South Australia, and potentially the entire country, Powell is proving impossible to ignore at this stage. He leads the competition for total disposals, clearances, and inside 50s after six rounds, averaging 37.2, 9.2, and 6.8 in those respective categories. Having also added goals to his arsenal most recently, Powell continues to add strings to his bow. Gaining much-deserved recognition after an injury-riddled 2019 campaign.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#19 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

July Ranking: #18

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

July Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

Off the bat, Caleb Poulter and Heath Chapman are essentially number 21 and 22 on our list, making them the hardest to leave out of the top 20. Both have enjoyed impactful starts to their respective seasons; with Poulter a midfielder who packs presence in the SANFL Under 18s, and Chapman an intercept defender who has roamed further afield in the WAFL Colts. They are both terrific sizes, and have a range of weapons at their disposal.

Bailey Laurie and Brandon Walker are the two who slid out of the 20 from July’s rankings. It has been no real fault of their own, with the inactive Laurie a victim of others’ rises, while Walker has made a solid start to his WAFL Colts campaign but is ultimately just squeezed out.

Walker’s fellow Fremantle Next Generation Academy member, Joel Western has enjoyed a terrific start to the year to come into contention, but missed last weekend’s action through injury. Isiah Winder is another on the rise having earned his WAFL League debut for Peel Thunder, so keep an eye out for his name in future. Midfielder/half-back Jack Carroll is also in form, along with left-field ruck hopeful, Kalin Lane, but both are still just outside this kind of range.

The likes of Corey Durdin and Zac Dumesny linger around the top 30 for some given their SANFL League form, while Tariek Newchurch could be a first round smokey, but can work on becoming a more consistent threat. He and Jamison Murphy have been prominent for North Adelaide, while Bailey Chamberlain and Mani Liddy are hard to ignore at SANFL Under 18s level. Potential Adelaide father-son Luke Edwards also earned a SANFL Reserves call-up this month.

Down in Tasmania, Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis have made promising starts to their TSL campaigns. Of those who are around the mark, but cannot currently stake their claims due to a lack of top-level competition are Connor Downie, Eddie Ford, Jake Bowey, Sam Berry, and ruck bolter Max Heath. NT Thunder utility Joel Jeffrey has top 25 potential, as does Sydney Academy prospect Errol Gulden.

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Classic Contests: Cassar, Honey star as Jets soar past the Devils

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 17 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to Round 5 of 2019, when the Jets soared to a comfortable win away from home.

2019 NAB League, Round 5
Sunday April 28, 11:45am
UTAS Stadium

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western:
A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: 
D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matthew McGuinness
Western:
 Josh Honey

Two sides with a couple of wins already under their belts went head-to-head early in last year’s NAB League campaign, with Tasmania hosting the Western Jets at UTAS Stadium in Launceston. The Devils had made a positive start in their maiden full-time season, enjoying a bye in Round 1 and bouncing back from their Round 2 loss to take a 2-1 record heading into this clash. Western sat similarly poised at 2-2, having just secured a rebound victory over the Northern Territory a week earlier.

While the two regions would lay claim to a pair of draftees each come the end of the year, only one would take the field on either side; with North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness lining up for the home side, while Carlton recruit Josh Honey ran through midfield for Western. The Jets were missing Emerson Jeka, with Tasmania also down a tall target as Jackson Callow came out of the side. Fellow Academy-based bottom-agers Oliver Davis and Sam Collins were also absent alongside Mitch O’Neill in a blow to the Devils’ chances.

The losses seem to take toll early, as the Devils failed capitalise on their domination of the territory and possession. A 20-minute goalless patch ensued after debutant Isaac Chugg put through the game’s first goal, only for Western to hit back twice within the final five minutes of the opening term to hit the front. It seemed to sink the Devils a touch, as they went on to go goalless throughout the second stanza, while giving up another two goals and a 15-point deficit at half time – albeit in a low-scoring contest.

Lachlan Gadomski broke Tasmania’s hour-long goal drought with a major nine minutes into the third term, but it proved a feeble form of reply as Western continued to pile on the scoreboard pressure and extended the margin to 31 points at three quarter time. It was an unassailable gap, and the Jets only further ensured it would be a bridge too far as they kicked away to a nine-goal lead, only to settle for the final 47-point margin.

Darcy Cassar ran the show off half-back for Western, proving a key player in shifting the early momentum back into the Jets’ favour. He finished with 31 disposals, 13 marks, and eight rebound 50s, while Honey booted two goals from his 25 touches. Tasmanian pair Bailey Gordon and Patrick Walker matched that feat to be their sides’ leading ball winners. Archi Manton led the goalkicking stakes with three goals, followed by bottom-aged Eddie Ford and Honey on two. Oliver Burrows-Cheng and McGuinness were named among the Devils’ best.

Tasmania would go on to add just two wins to its record across the season, finishing in 12th spot at 4-11 and bowing out during Wildcard Round to Calder. The Jets earned a seventh-place finish, storming into finals where they upset Northern in the elimination stage, but had their run ended by Gippsland in the semi finals a week later.

AFL Draft Watch: Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Western Jets’ Eddie Ford, a dynamic medium forward who had eyes on impacting through midfield in his top-age year. The leading Jets draft prospect has x-factor in spades; able to fly for highlight reel marks, boot long goals, and burst through traffic with rare speed and agility. Ford was a mainstay in Western’s NAB League lineup last year, running out for 16 games and providing a bit of spark in each. Consistency will be key for the medium-sized prospect, who battled a knee injury during preseason and will look to produce spurts like he did in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase, more often.

PLAYER PAGE:

Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro

DOB: June 21, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Vertical leap, clean hands, overhead marking, x-factor, impact
Improvements: Consistency/accumulation

2019 NAB League stats: 16 games | 14.1 disposals | 3.7 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 1.9 inside 50s | 0.4 goals (7)

>> Q&A: Eddie Ford
>> Marquee Matchup: Ford vs. Henry

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Started the game with a bang, picking up eight touches and booting two goals in an eye-opening first term. He had his hands on it early leading outside 50, then kicking a great running goal on the right from 40m out. His second goal came when Ford read the tap perfectly, pushed off his opponent in Errol Gulden and chucked it on his boot for it to sail through. It showed his high-level footy IQ and goal sense all in one play. He was still very busy throughout the game with some nice touches, though his first term was his standout. Had a shot from 45m on the run in the third term but it sprayed to the left. His best is very good.

NAB League Wildcard Round vs. GWV

By: Ed Pascoe

Ford won plenty of the ball playing as a leading option at half-forward. His ability to find the ball and provide an option was pivotal for the Jets, and despite a few errors and missed shots on goal, he should take confidence in his game. Ford missed a few marks early in the game which wasn’t like him, but he would take two very strong marks in the last term. Ford finished the game with 23 disposals and three behinds in what could have been a huge game if he kicked straight.

NAB League Round 16 vs. Oakleigh

By: Peter Williams

The bottom-age forward reads the play well and times his marks, almost providing another massive highlight as he had at the Victorian trials at Ikon Park, but could not quite bring it down. He wanted to keep the ball moving at every opportunity, playing on and getting it deep into attack. Ford set up a goal to Billy Cootee with a quick handball out of congestion to his teammate free in space for a great goal. He had a chance himself earlier in the game but was dragged down and his shot went to the right.

NAB League Round 12 vs. Calder

By: Ed Pascoe

Ford was the most dangerous forward for the Jets, proving a good option as a marking target and a player capable of creating something at ground level. Ford would only kick the one goal but how he kicked it was impressive – he lead up at the ball to take a mark and would win a free kick in that contest but he was quick to gather the loose ball and run to the 50 metre arc and slot a lovely running goal. Ford showed great aggression and agility throughout the game and finished with 21 disposals and the one goal.

NAB League Round 5 vs. Tasmania

By: Michael Alvaro

Ford seldom fails to catch the eye with his strong overhead marking, stylish use of the ball, and explosiveness. While he was quiet early on, Ford came into the game well after half time and had a purple patch in the third term where he kicked two goals. The first was a set shot conversion from 45 metres on the back of a strong one-on-one mark, and the second was a clever snap from the boundary, while he missed another chance in the final quarter on the run.

>> MORE WESTERN JETS CONTENT

>> 2020 Vic Metro U18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2020

THROUGH pandemics and great uncertainty, draft hopefuls and fans alike have been assured that the 2020 AFL Draft will go ahead in some capacity, albeit at a later date. As budding elite-level players across the country return to action, it is time to let the cat out of the bag with our first, monthly Power Rankings list for the year. In this edition, we have compiled who we deem to be the top 20 draft eligible prospects and a bunch more to look out for based off under-age form, testing results, and preseason movement.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not on any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot here. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We have all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student will juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#4 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#5 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Grainger-Barras rounds out the top five; another tall, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option of his position.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#6 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has been squeezed out to number six at this point, Campbell is a player likely to sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL’s scrapping and a shortened NAB League competition, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#7 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

>> Q&A

#8 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the national carnival swing around, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#9 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and first Queenslander on the list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Rounding out the top 10 is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product tied to both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#11 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#13 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospect’s is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which should be on full show as he prepares to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Defender/Midfielder
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Fremantle Academy.

>> Draft Watch

#16 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season.

>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#17 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies for both of the Eagles’ opening two fixtures in the grade. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perhaps a slightly speculative choice of ranking at this stage, but Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout is poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#19 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess. He should make the step-up for Oakleigh once again having impressed late last year, while also cracking the Vic Metro line-up.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

Rounding out the top 20 is McDonald, who adds to the strong key position and West Australian representation among the top-end of his cohort. The high-marking key forward represented his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

While narrowing down an initial list for the year is always difficult, it has proven especially so with the evenness of this year’s talent pool making for a real bottle-neck around the 15-30 range. Established names from all around the country could come into contention, with the likes of South Australian pair Corey Durdin and Luke Edwards currently featuring around the top 30, while fellow Croweater Zac Dumesny has impressed at League level, as have Caleb Poulter, Tom Powell, Bailey Chamberlain, and Jamison Murphy as Under 18s.

While the academy representation is heavy among the list as it is, those with keen eyes may query Errol Gulden‘s absence, while other prospects with ties to AFL clubs like Tariek Newchurch and Connor Downie were also unlucky to miss the cut. There are a few game-winners who could push their way in, as Eddie Ford and Oliver Henry neared contention, while fellow Victorians Jake Bowey and Sam Berry could also push a case based on bottom-age output. Speaking of, Tasmanian standouts Jackson Callow and Oliver Davis were considered, while Sandringham ruck Max Heath looms as a bolter.

Marquee Matchups: Eddie Ford vs. Oliver Henry

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Western Jets’ Eddie Ford and Geelong Falcons’ Oliver Henry – are two high-flying prospects who have already lined up on opposing sides at NAB League level, as well as in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase fixture. While neither player was able to break through for a representative Under 18 berth in 2019, both ran out for Under 17 digs in the ‘Big V’ after also representing their regions in the 2018 Under 16 National Championships.

Western’s Ford is a forward/midfielder with plenty of x-factor, able to break games open with his scoreboard impact and knack for taking big marks. Henry is similarly gifted in the air, but is more of a swingman having rotated from end-to-end for the Falcons last year. He is likely to spend a touch more time up forward in 2020, and will be a key part of Geelong’s talented squad after 15 NAB League outings last year. Ford managed one more appearance for the Jets as a bottom-ager, and will be a focal point as he looks to develop his midfield craft.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro

DOB: June 21, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: General forward/midfielder

Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: June 29, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: General forward/defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

There is no recent testing data to feed off from either player due to precautionary preseason management; with Ford sitting out testing on account of a persistent knee niggle, while Henry took the safe route with his tight left hamstring.

However, it only really takes a couple of glimpses of both prospects on-field to recognise their athletic values. Both possess terrific vertical leaps, helping Henry to play above his size up either end, and allowing Ford to take eye-catching hangers in full flight. Ford is perhaps a touch quicker off the mark, and both players are quite agile in general play given their relatively lean builds. Endurance is an area which remains to be seen on either side, especially given their interrupted preseasons and the extended break.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Ford:

16 games
14.1 disposals
3.7 marks
1.4 tackles
1.5 clearances
1.9 inside 50s
0.4 goals (7)

Henry:

15 games
10.0 disposals
4.4 marks
1.1 tackles
1.5 inside 50s
0.8 rebound 50s
1.2 goals (18)

The closeness in this pair’s 2019 statistics is quite satisfying, each running out for a virtually identical amount of games and returning very similar numbers. The small differences can also be attributed to their respective roles; as Ford was able to run through midfield and pump forward some clearances while adding to those inside 50 numbers, while Henry penetrated both arcs in his swingman duties and provided slightly better marking numbers due to his intercept marking ability in defence. His role as somewhat of a third leading tall up forward also contributed to that, allowing the Geelong product to hit the scoreboard more often with over a goal per game. Ford booted goals in six seperate games, including two with multiples, while Henry managed multiples in five of his seven scoring games.

BEST GAME

Ford:

2019 NAB League Round 7 vs. Dandenong

20 disposals
10 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50
2 goals

Henry:

2019 NAB League Round 3 vs. Dandenong

11 disposals (10 kicks)
7 marks
1 inside 50
5 goals
3 behinds

Our selections make it seem as if Dandenong were whipping boys in 2019, but it is purely a coincidence that both players performed well against the Stingrays. Ford found the ideal balance between his midfield and forward craft, shifting through the engine room at times while spreading well around the ground and making his impact felt when forward of centre. His efforts were in vein given Western’s big loss, as were Henry’s in Geelong’s draw with the Stingrays. The Falcon’s seven marks as a forward target showcased that ability to play above his size, with eight of his 11 disposals also ending in scores. Henry did have higher disposal games, primarily in the backline, but we feel this performance better exemplifies the role he can play at the next level.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 NAB League Round 8
Western Jets 7.8 (50) def. Geelong Falcons 2.10 (22)

Ford:

12 disposals
4 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50

Henry:

8 disposals (7 kicks)
6 marks
3 tackles
2 inside 50s

In what was hardly a memorable early-season clash between Geelong and Western, these two bottom-aged guns were kept relatively quiet. Still, they were able to show flashes of their best form, with Ford nearing his overall disposal average and finding space on the outer, while Henry was a viable marking option for the Falcons. Neither player was able to find the big sticks, and it is quiet understandable as Geelong managed just two majors to Western’s seven.

STRENGTHS

Ford:

Vertical leap
Clean hands
Overhead marking
X-factor
Impact

Henry:

Marking on the lead
Intercepting
Vertical leap
Versatility
Composure

If you weren’t already aware, both of these players are terrific markers of the ball. While vertical leap is a listed strength on either side, Ford and Henry use it in slightly different ways. While Ford can pull off those explosive pack marks, Henry uses his leap to intercept while sitting in the defensive hole, or to get extension on the lead as a forward. Henry’s dual-purpose marking ability makes him an ultimate utility, which is exactly why versatility is also listed as one of his assets. Ford’s knack for hauling in those mercurial grabs gives him a touch of x-factor, which is also seen in his ability to impact the scoreboard and break games open in quick time. Another string to Henry’s bow is his composure, usually a sure disposer by foot who fared well while the Falcons were under enormous pressure in 2019. Both players only need a few touches to truly damage the opposition, with their combination of athleticism and freakish skills setting them apart.

IMPROVEMENTS

Ford:

Consistency/accumulation

Henry:

Playing to size

Pin-pointing improvements for such high-level players is often an exercise in splitting hairs, but we continue to give it a crack. Neither of the listed areas are necessarily knocks on the players, but more so little adjustments which could be made along the path to becoming more complete prospects.

With Ford eying off more time in the midfield, he will need to up his accumulative value and become a more consistent figure in games. While stats aren’t everything and his ability to tear games apart in small bursts works up forward, imagine what impact he could have with more of the ball.

For Henry, while quashing his versatility would be silly, having him lock down or show greater strength in one specific role sometimes makes a prospect easier to recruit, as you know exactly what kind of player to mould at the next level. Given he can play like a key position outlet at just 187cm among juniors, he can perhaps work on better playing to his size in harnessing that ground ball game to excel in the AFL system.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Ford:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Started the game with a bang, picking up eight touches and booting two goals in an eye-opening first term. He had his hands on it early leading outside 50, then kick a great running goal on the right from 40m out. His second goal came when Ford read the tap perfectly, pushed off his opponent in Errol Gulden and chucked it on his boot for it to sail through.

It showed his high-level footy IQ and goal sense all in one play. He was still very busy throughout the game with some nice touches, though his first term was his standout. Had a shot from 45m on the run in the third term but it sprayed to the left. His best is very good.

Henry:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The talented Geelong Falcon who is the younger brother of rising Cats’ defender Jack Henry showed plenty of his talent in what was a hard day for the Team Dal Santo forwards. He was still able to catch the eye; he hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a quality intercept mark in the goal square showing his speed and quick decision making.

Henry was strong overhead and clean at ground level but he also did the what was required defensively as well with some good tackles and smothers, he looks to be one of the most dangerous forward prospects in the 2020 draft.

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders

STRONG, big-bodied, and tall inside midfielders have been in vogue for quite a while, but this year’s crop of engine room operators comes in varied shapes and sizes. Though they may not currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best inside midfielders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier midfielders who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Sam Berry
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
180cm/81kg

Berry is one of the smaller inside midfielders in terms of height, but one who works incredibly hard and is not afraid to put his head over the ball. The 180cm Gippsland product slotted right into a talented Power engine room pre and post his school football commitments with Melbourne Grammar, proving a match winner on his day with terrific extraction, endurance, and powerful burst from the contest. Berry averaged 17.7 disposals and 4.4 clearances across his 10 NAB League outings, going at a rate of 52 per cent contested possessions while showcasing his two-way work ethic with the all-important addition of 6.5 tackles per game.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies
191cm/84kg

The leading Gold Coast SUNS Academy prospect for 2020 is Davies, a prototypical big-bodied inside midfielder who will fit right in at the elite level given his physical attributes. Davies ran out four times for the SUNS during their NAB League stint, averaging an even 18 disposals and almost four clearances and tackles per game. He was not quite able to break into the 2019 Allies side, but represented Queensland at Under 17 level and was a prime mover in the Under 17 All Stars showcase fixture. If not for his ties to an AFL club already, Davies would perhaps sit even further up draft boards and is set to cost the SUNS a pretty penny in terms of points come draft time.

>> Get to know
>> Marquee Matchup

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies
182cm/75kg

Tasmania’s most promising midfield candidate is Davis, a consistent performer who would have always been among the first Devils on the team sheet during their inaugural full-time NAB League season. He is another who is not tall in comparison to other inside types, but his desire at the contest and ability to get first hands on the ball more than make up for the fact. Davis averaged 22 disposals (53 per cent contested) as Tasmania’s prime mover in 13 NAB League games as a bottom-ager, accompanied by a whopping 7.8 tackles and 5.4 clearances per outing. With those kind of numbers, he earned a call-up to the Allies side for a single game and will be a key cog in the same side for 2020.

>> Draft Watch

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia
187cm/80kg

One of the more prominent names among the overall 2020 draft crop is Edwards, whose allegiance to the Adelaide Crows as a potential father-son selection remains up in the air. The Glenelg product has already cracked the SANFL Reserve grade, and was a key part of South Australia’s defence throughout the entire 2019 Under 18 National Championships. At 187cm and 80kg, Edwards has remarkably not added a single centimetre to his height since his Under 16 year but remains a readymade body once called upon at senior level. Having been utilised as a general defender who uses the ball efficiently, Edwards is primed to move back into the middle where he can use his big frame and contested prowess to dominate at stoppages.

>> Get to know
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Finn Gorringe
East Fremantle/Western Australia
183cm/77kg

Gorringe is somewhat of a bolter among the top-level ranks, but looks set to slot straight into the West Australian state side in 2020 as a ball winning midfielder. The East Fremantle product impressed across his six WAFL Colts outings for the Sharks in 2019, averaging 15.5 disposals and a tick over four tackles to again fit into the category of those who remain relevant going both ways. A very handy string to Gorringe’s bow is his ability to find the goals as an inside type, managing a goal per game last year in a tick to his versatility.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide/South Australia
184cm/81kg

There is a good amount of South Australian representation on this list, and Kraemer is yet another solidly-built ball winner who is set to shine in 2020. At 184cm and 81kg, the South Adelaide junior has the perfect makeup for his position, but is more than just an inside battler in the sense that he can also play as a defender, and may swing up the other end at SANFL senior level. He may not have cracked last year’s Under 18 state side, but has been a mainstay in the Academy system and was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. Kraemer played every game in the Panthers’ run to last year’s SANFL Under 18 grand final, finishing the season strongly to average 20.2 disposals and five tackles.

>> Get to know

Mani Liddy
Sturt/South Australia
181cm/79kg

One of the more versatile inside midfielders to hit this list is Liddy, who has previously been forced out to the flanks at representative level, but thrived with his ground level presence and ability to get to contests nonetheless. Employed in his more comfortable midfield role at SANFL Under 18 level with Sturt, Liddy averaged just over 25 disposals, 4.2 marks, and 5.5 clearances, but surprisingly went at a higher rate of uncontested possessions. Still, the 181cm prospect is hard at the contest and seldom shies away from it, making him a good option for his state come the national carnival.

Zavier Maher
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

184cm/82kg

Maher is a rare inside type who also possesses terrific athleticism, seeing him feature a touch higher up draft boards when compared to others of a similar build. He is solid at 82kg and has the typical power you come to expect of an inside type, but what sets Maher apart is his combination explosive speed and agility at the stoppages. A true metres-gained kind of midfielder, Maher averaged around three inside 50s and clearances in his six NAB League appearances for Murray in 2019, while also representing Vic Country at Under 17 level. Expect him to break into the heart of this year’s Under 18 side.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
192cm/84kg

McInnes is another whose name will already be well known to keep draft watchers, as the next in line among a talented group of Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was pushed forward in 2019 due to the Chargers’ incredible depth through the engine room, but he still managed to have an impact across 12 games en route to becoming a NAB League premiership player. At 192cm, he has the size to transition seamlessly into the elite level, and possesses surprisingly good athleticism in congestion to keep him out of trouble. When utilised as a midfielder for Vic Metro’s Under 17s, McInnes truly showed his worth with a great first half display, but can work on staying in the game more consistently.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Jamison Murphy
North Adelaide/South Australia
180cm/85kg

Murphy’s story is one of the more interesting ones across the entire 2020 cohort, as he turned down a promising cricketing career which had already seen him captain Australia as a junior to pursue Australian rules football. He is undoubtedly one of the most solidly built smaller types in this lot, weighing in at 85kg to ensure he can endure the rigours of playing such a position, and enforce his way into the contest. The 180cm North Adelaide product played nine SANFL Under 18 games in 2019, averaging 23.6 disposals and 5.2 tackles, putting in the hard yards as per usual.

>> Get to know

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia
186cm/78kg

An outstanding inside midfielder for 2020 is Trew, potentially the best user of the ball both by hand and foot of this entire group. He comes in at a decent height (186cm) but is not at all bogged down, able to weave through traffic with class and deliver the ball expertly with terrific vision and poise. Trew was a standout for the Black Ducks at Under 16 level, earning All Australian honours, and looks set for a similar projection in this year’s Under 18 crop as one of his state’s prime midfield movers.

>> Draft Diary

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of prospects who you may be itching to point out as deserving for this list, but we think we have them all covered both above and below. Among the most outstanding overall midfield candidates this year are Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Finlay Macrae, all of whom we categorise as balanced midfielders, rather than pure inside types.

Among those who may transition to inside roles but currently thrive elsewhere are Nathan O’Driscoll (wing/half-back), Connor Downie (wing/utility), Archie Perkins (half-forward), Jackson Cardillo (balanced midfielder/forward), Eddie Ford (general forward), Corey Durdin (small forward), and Braeden Campbell (outside midfielder/forward). Elijah Hollands could also be considered, but is again, more of a forward, while the likes of Will Bravo and Charlie Lazzaro may continue outside of the midfield realm in future.

Outside of the AFL Academy intake are Bayleigh Welsh and Darby Hipwell, both very viable options, while 19-year-old candidates include Jared Dakin, Darcy Chirgwin, and Jai Newcombe.

Positional Analysis: Key Position Forwards

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Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

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AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 12 – Chargers gain on top three

ONLY one side managed to score more than eight goals in Round 12 of the 2019 NAB League season, with Oakleigh Chargers among the big winners having knocked off Sandringham en route to equal third. Ladder leader, Eastern remained a game clear with a win in its split fixture against Tasmania two weeks earlier, while Northern enjoyed the bye.

The round’s first game promised to be a corker, as Sandringham hosted a climbing Oakleigh side at Trevor Barker Oval. While neither side was at full strength, there were some notable top-agers in action and a raft of bottom-agers ready to prove their worth in the highly-anticipated contest. Oakleigh would overcome a half time deficit in the end to run out 18-point winners on the road, as the Dragons posted 1.8 in the final term.

Potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was one of three Chargers to boot multiple goals, notching a game-high three from 10 disposals. Richmond draftee Hugo Ralphsmith was joined by Oakleigh bottom-ager Reef McInnes as the leading ball winners, racking up 23 touches each with added time around the contest.

Heading into Saturday afternoon, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV)  got back on the winners list after a tight loss the round before, more than doubling Dandenong’s score to finish 28-point winners on the road. The Rebels were only behind at the first break, but fought back well at the scoring end to pile on five goals in the next term and set up a game-defining lead. A mere collective three goals were added in a lacklustre second half.

Mitch Martin and Harry Sharp led the scoring stakes with two goals each for the winners, as Martin played a particularly influential role. A pair of Stingrays, Jack Toner and Clayton Gay had the most ball though with 25 and 24 disposals respectively, while Mitchell Burgess was the sole Rebel to tick over 20 touches on the day.

Only 15 minutes later that same afternoon in Echuca, Murray got the better of Bendigo in another low-scoring slog. The Bushrangers were remarkably held goalless for the entire first half, and booted over two goals worth of behinds before finally finding the big sticks in term three. Their final effort of 3.22 was enough to carry them to a 10-point victory, despite Bendigo managing one more major.

Five Bushrangers kicked multiple behinds, with leading ball winners Jye Chalcraft (33 disposals, 0.3) and Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals, 1.4) among the main culprits, while Charlie Byrne provided a refreshing sense of accuracy to boot two-straight goals from his 18 touches. James Schischka saw most of the ball for Bendigo with 28 touches from defence, with Noah Walsh the next best on 23.

Gippsland survived a scare over as part of the Shepley Oval double-header, made to work for its four-point win over the languishing Geelong Falcons via an incredible final term comeback. The Falcons started strongly and led at all of the first three breaks to boast a 27-point buffer heading into the final term. But the Power would enact a 31-point turnaround in the final 25 minutes, piling on six goals after managing just two beforehand to sneak over the line. Zach Reid was the hero as he swung forward for the winning goal.

A bottom-aged Sam Berry was also a key player in the comeback, finishing with three goals from 20 disposals via the engine room as Gippsland’s leading ball winner alongside Leo Connolly. Chas Karpala managed the same feat for Geelong with a game-high 22 touches, followed closely by Charlie Lazzaro. 2020 Falcons co-captain Gennaro Bove also stood up with two goals.

The sole Sunday fixture saw two top eight Metro sides battle it out at Highgate Reserve, with Calder coming out a 22-point victor over Western – again, doubling its opponent’s total. The scoreboard at the first break looked like that of a soccer game as Calder led 4-3, with Sam Paea‘s second term goal the only one come half time. Eddie Ford booted Western’s first after the break, but the Cannons were too strong and kicked away comfortably.

Mason Fletcher booted a third of the winners’ six goals as the lone multiple goalkicker, with six others finding the big sticks overall. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay led all comers with 31 disposals as teammates Curtis Brown and Harrison Minton-Connell had 29 and 27 respectively. Daly Andrews managed 25 touches for Western, with Ford’s goal coming from a serviceable 21 disposals.

In a standalone fixture two weeks earlier, Eastern travelled down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in an entertaining clash. The home side, not in a great vein of form, started strongly and matched it with Eastern for all of three quarters, but the eventual minor premier would skip away at the end, breaking to a 22-point victory on enemy territory.

Devils bigman Jackson Callow had a dominant first half, finishing with 4.3 from 14 disposals as the clear-best forward afield. Jamieson Rossiter (two goals) was a threat up the other end, while the trio of Mitch Mellis (33 disposals), Zak Pretty (23) and Lachlan Stapleton went to work in the engine room. Oliver Davis found the most ball for Tasmania with 23 touches as the bottom-agers once again led the way.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 10 – Stingrays finally beaten, Ranges go top

ROUND 10 of last year’s NAB League saw Dandenong’s seven-game unbeaten run come to an empathic end, as Eastern produced one of the more remarkable performances of the season to jump into top spot. For the second round running, all bar one of the Victorian Metro sides secured wins while Murray was the lone Country side to do so, and Bendigo enjoyed a bye.

Northern’s 11-goal thumping of reigning premier, Dandenong opened the weekend at Shepley Oval, with the Stingrays managing just one goal after half time in front of a home crowd. Meanwhile, the Knights would excel, booting 10 majors over the same period in a ruthless display forward of centre to run home 67-point winners.

Ben Major (three goals), Josh D’Intinosante, and Carlton draftee Sam Philp (both two) found the big sticks more than once among Northern’s 12 individual goalkickers, with Philp’s 19 disposals also among his side’s best. Ashton Williamson booted multiples for the Stingrays, while Adam Carafa (24 disposals) led 2020 co-captain Ewan Macpherson (21) as the leading ball winner. Academy member Will Bravo also impressed with 16 for Dandenong.

The round’s next fixture proved to be a far more tense one as Sandringham and Geelong opened a Mars Stadium double-header. The Falcons looked to be coasting to victory in a low-scorer having kept Sandringham to 1.7 in the first half and extended the lead to 30 points in the third term. But as was the case for much of 2019, Geelong faded late with two of Sandringham’s 18 behinds crawling the Dragons over the line.

The one-two combination of Charlie Sprague and Ollie Henry produced five of Geelong’s eight goals, with no Sandringham player breaking through for multiples. That could well have been different had Archie Perkins and Jake Bowey put one of their combined eight behinds on target. Angus Hanrahan led the winners’ disposal count with 26, while Charlie Harris (27) and Cam Fleeton (24) were Geelong’s best in that department.

Skipping out to Morwell, and Western stamped its finals claim with an upset 18-point win over top-three fancy, Gippsland on the road. The Jets led all day and put eight more scoring shots on the board in their big win, restricting the Power to just one goal at one end of the ground.

Harvey Neocleous popped up to boot four of Gippsland’s seven goals from his 20 disposals, with Western’s Emerson Jeka the only other to bag multiple goals (two). St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly led all comers with 28 disposals, while Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (25) did the same for the winners with bottom-age Academy gun Eddie Ford (17 disposals, one goal) also lively.

Back in Ballarat in the second of two games, home side Greater Western Victoria (GWV) was absolutely dismantled by the rampaging Eastern Ranges. The Rebels were kept goalless across the match and scoreless for half of it in the 111-point thumping as Eastern had their way en-route to an 18.8 effort in tricky conditions.

One of the more incredible efforts for the weekend was Jordan Jaworski‘s seven-goal haul, backed by three each from Connor Downie and Jamieson Rossiter. Zak Pretty had a game-high 35 disposals, while Tyler Edwards saw it 31 times – equal to GWV’s best in that department, Jack Tillig. Cricketing convert Wil Parker was the other player to notch 30 disposals, with the Ranges’ defence solid as ever.

Oakleigh’s win over Calder was the only other Saturday result, as the away side stormed home to notched a big victory. The game opened up after a close first term, with Oakleigh’s nine-goal to two second half consolidating the win to the tune of 69 points.

The Chargers’ high-end bottom-agers went to work, with potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booting five goals, while Will Phillips (33 disposals), Fraser Elliot (32), and Lochlan Jenkins (27) were menacing from midfield. Incredibly, four Chargers booted two goals, with Jeremy O’Sullivan the only Cannon to do so. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay was among his side’s leading ball winners, trailing only Ned Gentile with 24 touches.

Sunday’s sole fixture saw the competition again head down to Tasmania, as Murray crossed Bass Strait to take on the Devils in Launceston. The action was relatively straightforward for the visitors as they broke out to an early lead and never looked back, resisting Tasmania’s 2.7 final term to coast home 38-point victors.

Over-ager Zane Barzen was one of just two Bushrangers to boot multiple goals, while Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals), Dylan Clarke (25), and Charlie Byrne (22) went to work with ball in hand. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness fared best for Tasmania with 21 touches, while Murray bottom-ager Dominic Bedendo impressed on the back of 1.2 from his 18 disposals.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 9 – Metro sides enjoy a field day

SIX fixtures were spilt evenly across Saturday and Sunday in Round 9 of 2019’s NAB League competition, with all bar one of the Victorian Metropolitan clubs picking up four points. Beneficiaries of that stat, Eastern and Sandringham jumped Gippsland to soar into the top three, but still trailed Dandenong by half a game. Six separate venues would also be utilised across the weekend in both Country and Metro regions.

The weekend’s action kicked off in typically tough Ballarat conditions as the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels hosted Tasmania at Mars Stadium. Both sides struggled for accuracy in front of goal, combining for 15.30 on the day, but the Devils effort of 10.16 would see them home comfortably to the tune of 32 points.

In terms of ball winning, the day belonged to Riley Polkinghorne, who racked up a game-high 39 disposals – 14 touches adrift from the next best effort, achieved by Tasmania’s Matt McGuiness and Oliver Davis. In front of goal, it was Jackson Callow who stole the show with four goals, double the tally of any other player afield.

A rare outing for Northern at Preston City Oval followed just after midday, but the Knights fell nine points short in their homecoming at the hands of Calder. An even start would soon be left behind by the Cannons, who shot away to a handy three-goal buffer at the main break and would hold on by a little over a goal in the end.

Calder’s Max Simpson led all comers with 27 disposals, followed closely by Carlton draftee Sam Philp (25) and new Adelaide rookie Ayce Taylor (22). Knights skipper Jackson Davies was also prominent, and forward James Lucente booted three goals. He was matched by Calder’s Jeremy O’Sullivan in that department, while Philp’s Blues teammate Sam Ramsay collected 19 touches.

A pair of monster efforts in front of goal helped Oakleigh to a big win over Murray on the road, keeping touch with the top three in the process. The Chargers led all day, breaking the game open in the second and third terms to coast home 57-point winners.

Conor Stone and Nicholas Stathopoulos did the damage inside forward 50, snaring five goals each in standout performances. Jeromy Lucas and Murray’s Jimmy Boyer shared top ball winning honours with 27 disposals each, followed by Oakleigh bottom-agers Fraser Elliot (26) and Lochlan Jenkins (24, two goals), while Charlie Byrne managed 22 in a losing effort.

Eastern’s run of form continued with another well-managed win, coming on home turf to the tune of 40 points against the struggling Geelong Falcons. The Ranges kept their opponents goalless in the second and fourth terms while adding three goals in each of those periods to make up much of the final margin in an efficient display.

Mitch Mellis‘ mammoth 39-disposal effort was massive for the winners, as teammate Zak Pretty also made his mark with 28 disposals and one goal, and diminutive forward Jonte Duffy booted a game-high three goals. Chas Karpala led Geelong for disposals with 24, followed by Sam Bourke (21) in a Falcons side stacked with 11 bottom-agers.

Western soared to a 42-point victory over Bendigo in Sunday’s second fixture, at another venue renowned for its tricky conditions, Williamstown Oval. It was all one-way traffic after the Pioneers snuck ahead by a goal at the main break, as the Jets piled on eight majors while keeping their opponents to just three behinds for the entire second half.

Samuel Clifford booted 4.1 from his seven disposals as the most effective forward afield, with two other Jets also bagging multiple goals. Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci had the ball on a string from defence, collecting it 34 times, while Eddie Ford also impressed with his 22 touches. For Bendigo, Logan Fitzgerald saw it 29 times, followed by Sam Conforti (27) and Jack Evans (23).

Arguably the most high-level clash was left til last in Round 9, as Gippsland and Sandringham closed the show in Morwell. Despite boasting the home ground advantage and a half time lead, the Power were overrun by the Dragons, as the winners booted seven goals to three after the main break to ensure a 25-point triumph.

Kyle Yorke incredibly kicked half of his side’s goals as the only player to bag multiples, booting 5.2 from 19 disposals and nine marks. Lachlan Lamble, Jackson Voss, and Blake O’Leary all collected 27 touches to lead the way for Sandringham, while Leo Connolly and Jake Van Der Plight combined to do so for Gippsland with 20 disposals each.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Metro Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place.

RULES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old prospects miss out, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, but all players look likely to be available. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the first stipulated squad, with Vic Metro’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Cody Raak (Western), Cody Brand (Calder), Wil Parker (Eastern)
HB – Joshua Clarke (Eastern), Nikolas Cox (Northern), Connor Downie (Eastern)

There’s a real Eastern Ranges flavour to the back six, with regional skipper and Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie a potential leadership candidate. Athletic Northern utility Nikolas Cox is another NAB League captain in line for those honours, and the two are joined across half-back by Josh Clarke.

The forward penetration Clarke and Downie provide makes for an exciting proposition, though Downie may well find his way up onto a wing or into the midfield in the final squad. The third Eastern product of the defence, Wil Parker can also add value on the rebound, but joins Bulldogs NGA candidate Cody Raak as a capable intercept marker inside defensive 50.

Essendon-aligned hopeful Cody Brand looks set to lock down a role at full back, making for a fairly sturdy last line. The combination of aerial threat and attacking ball use among the six bodes well for Metro, and should set the side up nicely.

MIDFIELD

C – Jake Bowey (Sandringham), Reef McInnes (Oakleigh), Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh)
FOL – Max Heath (Sandringham), Will Phillips (Oakleigh), Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh)

If there was an Eastern feel to the defence, then the midfield is all-Oakleigh. Following on with the NGA theme too is Collingwood academy member Reef McInnes, who takes up a spot in the centre with eyes on fulfilling a more midfield-oriented role in 2020.

The familiar faces of Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae look set to join him at the centre bounces, as smaller outlets who can find plenty of the ball. On the outer, we’ve opted for a small combination with the 174cm Jake Bowey on one side, and 177cm Lochlan Jenkins on the opposite.

Should the Metro coaches opt for more grunt through the middle, the likes of Downie and explosive Sandringham product Archie Perkins could add some extra power, though the chosen core should have little trouble finding the ball. Max Heath is the chosen ruck, one of the few pure talls among the ranks at the moment.

FORWARD

HF – Archie Perkins (Sandringham), Liam McMahon (Northern), Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh)
FF – Jackson Cardillo (Calder), Ollie Lord (Sandringham), Eddie Ford (Western)

Akin to last year’s squad, the forwardline is one of the weaker areas of the squad – not for a lack of talent, but due to the lack of a pure small forward. The likes of Perkins, Bailey Laurie, Jackson Cardillo, and Eddie Ford all pack dynamism, speed, and smarts, but fall into the category of midfielder/forwards.

This forward bunch should also have no troubles in competing aerially, with the high-marking prowess of Perkins and Ford aided by vertically apt key position prospects Liam McMahon and Ollie Lord. Though at 193cm and 195cm respectively, the pair falls a touch short of traditional key position height, so may prove less impactful against some of the bulkier defenders one-on-one.

Within the starting lineup, Cox is also able to swing forward if needed, while Heath may well earn a rest up there in between his ruck duties. In terms of mid-sizers, Macrae and McInnes spent plenty of time forward for Oakleigh in 2019, while Downie is another who can find the goals.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Jack Diedrich (Eastern), Conor Stone (Oakleigh), Luke Cleary (Sandringham), Josh Eyre (Calder)

The interchange bench sees two remaining top-age Academy Hub members named, incidentally also providing good depth down the spine. Eastern’s Jack Diedrich and Calder’s Josh Eyre can play in key position posts, with Diedrich adding ruck depth and Eyre a more dynamic option around the ground.

Conor Stone could fill the traditional medium-forward void given his promising form in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side, while Sandringham defender Luke Cleary is one of the few non-Academy choices, though his Under 17 experience and squad balance earns him a look-in.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

There are plenty of top-agers who will fancy their chances of cracking into the final squad, but there will always be the unlucky few who don’t. The beauty of having a carnival with multiple games means there is always room for rotation, so plenty of prospects should get their opportunity.

Under 16 representative Darby Hipwell was stiff to miss the Academy cut-off, and provide some great midfield depth. Oakleigh’s Fraser Elliot is a big-bodied mid who could also sneak in, but that midfield is hard to crack.

In terms of smaller options at either end, Lucas Failli could be the small forward Metro is searching for, with the agile 170cm Western product already boasting Under 16 and 17 representative honours.

Northern co-captain Ewan Macpherson skippered the Under 16 Metro side in 2018, and may be another small option. The potential Bulldogs father-son choice would fit in as a defender after his work for the Knights in 2019, though he is set on more midfield minutes in 2020. His Knights teammates Josh Watson, and fellow Under 16 rep Jaden Collins are others who are thereabouts.

Speaking of father-sons, Carlton may want to get a look at Charlie McKay (son of Andy, 244 games), who has impressed during preseason and provides a big body on each line.

Dragons pair Fraser Rosman and Lachlan Carrigan are others who may fly under the radar and into the side, along with raw Calder duo Jack Keeping and Matthew Allison. There are of course two more Academy members – Campbell Edwardes, and Sam Tucker – who could enter the fray, but are unlucky to miss our sides.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Having taken out the 2019 Under 16 National Championships, Metro has the luxury being able to top up its squad with a raft of capable bottom-age talents. MVP Tyler Sonsie is arguably the best of the lot, and could well find his way into the starting 18 on a wing or up forward.

Sonsie’s Eastern teammate Jake Soligo is another who may rise the ranks alongside him, while Vic Metro Under 16 squad member Lachlan Rankin is another handy outside type in the mix.

Sandringham dasher Josh Sinn is another who is capable of settling into the starting side, perhaps at half-back despite his midfield prowess. Potentially filling out the flanks is Nick Daicos, whose selection in the Academy Hub in his first year through the pathways speaking volume of his talent.

Twin talls Dante Visentini and Alex Lukic would provide key position depth up either end under normal circumstances, with Lukic the Under 16 All Australian centre half-forward. Others to gain that honour and Academy selection were Blake Howes, Youseph Dib, Lachlan Brooks, and Braden Andrews, who could all fill roles around the ground.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-ager seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

With these additional top and bottom-age prospects in mind, below is our potential Vic Metro squad, without any provisions.

FB – Cody Raak, Cody Brand, Wil Parker
HB – Joshua Clarke, Nikolas Cox, Josh Sinn
C – Jake Bowey, Connor Downie, Finlay Macrae
HF – Archie Perkins, Liam McMahon, Bailey Laurie
FF – Tyler Sonsie, Ollie Lord, Eddie Ford
FOL – Max Heath, Will Phillips, Reef McInnes
INT – Felix Flockart, Lochlan Jenkins, Conor Stone, Jackson Cardillo

EMG
– Luke Cleary, Nick Daicos, Josh Eyre