Tag: elijah hollands

Bottom-age talent to hit Ikon Park

A DOUBLE header at Ikon Park is exactly what footy fans will be after during the NAB League’s development weekend. The top Victorian Under 17s will go head-to-head against NSW/ACT and Queensland which gives fans of the four AFL clubs with Northern Academies a chance to see them in action. While some players such as Will Phillips and Elijah Hollands are not named, there is still plenty of talent to go around.

VIC COUNTRY vs. NSW/ACT
Sunday August 11, 9.45am
Ikon Park

Vic Country:

1 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power)
2 Deakyn Smith (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels)
4 Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers)
5 Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers)
6 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)
7 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power)
8 Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)
9 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)
10 Clayton Gay (Dandenong Stingrays)
11 Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
12 Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
13 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)
14 Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons)
15 Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
16 Jack Tillig (GWV Rebels)
17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)
18 Max Annadale (Geelong Falcons)
19 Ethan Baxter (Murray Bushrangers)
20 Finn Ellis Castle (Bendigo Pioneers)
21 Kyle Skene (Geelong Falcons)
22 Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)
24 Jai Neal (Dandenong Stingrays)
25 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)
26 Mason Hawkins (Gippsland Power)
27 Keith Robinson (Gippsland Power)

Vic Country’s side has a number of nice developing talls including Bendigo Pioneers’ Josh Treacy up forward and Geelong Falcons’ Cameron Fleeton down back, both of whom have been in good form of late. The defensive lines look strong with the likes of Oliver Henry and Clayton Gay likely to provide plenty of run and carry out of defence with their terrific ball skills, whilst Sam Berry, Charlie Lazzaro and Noah Gadsby provide some fierce tackling pressure.

NSW/ACT Rams:

1 Jackson Tikkeros (Sydney Swans)
2 Cooper Wilson (Sydney Swans)
8 Oscar Davis (Sydney Swans)
9 Taine Wright (Sydney Swans)
10 Matthew Hamblin (GWS GIANTS)
12 Kale Gabila (Sydney Swans)
13 Pierce Roseby (Sydney Swans)
26 Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans)
27 Coopa Steele (GWS GIANTS)
28 Sam Frost (GWS GIANTS)
29 Drew Beavan (GWS GIANTS)
34 Sebastian Quirk (GWS GIANTS)
35 Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS)
36 Maximus Monaghan (GWS GIANTS)
37 Scott Brown (GWS GIANTS)
38 Sam Eynaud (Sydney Swans)
39 Marc Sheather (Sydney Swans)
40 Jack Driscoll (GWS GIANTS)
41 Jarred Gardiner (GWS GIANTS)
43 Aidan Beveridge (Sydney Swans)
## Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans)
## Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans)
## Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

NSW/ACT have named a strong team for the contest, with the bottom three players yet to receive a number the keys to watch. Errol Gulden is the top prospect of this group and has already shown he can match it with top-agers as a great left footer who can win plenty of the pill on the outside and do damage by foot. Braeden Campbell is a dangerous forward who knows where the goals are and can push up the ground, while Charlie Byrne has elite foot skills and can play off half-back or drift forward.

VIC METRO vs. QUEENSLAND
Sunday August 11, 12.15pm
Ikon Park

VIC METRO:

1 Lucas Failli (Western Jets)
2 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons)
3 Eddie Ford (Western Jets)
4 Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
6 Jackson Cardillo (Calder Cannons)
7 Ewan Macpherson (Northern Knigts)
8 Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons)
9 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)
10 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)
11 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)
12 Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
13 Liam Conway (Western Jets)
15 Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
16 Jack Keeping (Calder Cannons)
17 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights)
18 Fraser Elliot (Oakleigh Chargers)
19 Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges)
20 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)
21 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)
23 Joshua Eyre (Calder Cannons)
25 Jack Diedrich (Eastern Ranges)
26 Cody Raak (Western Jets)
27 Joe Nowell (Sandringham Dragons)
29 Campbell Edwardes (Calder Cannons)

X-factor galore in this side, with Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford providing the speed and high-flying marks, while Collingwood Next Generation Academy member Reef McInnes and Wil Parker will be strong through midfield. Ewan Macpherson has provided support up in defence for the Northern Knights, while Lochie Jenkins and Cody Raak are in great form as well. Connor Downie and Finlay Macrae were both named in the Vic Metro squad with Downie getting to run out on the MCG. Also watch for the lightning speed of Joshua Clarke.

QUEENSLAND:

3 Ethan Hunt (Gold Coast Suns)
4 Shatna Cashen-Harris (Brisbane Lions)
5 Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions)
6 Will O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions)
7 James Smith (Gold Coast Suns)
9 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions)
10 Will Tasker (Brisbane Lions)
11 Ky McKenzie (Brisbane Lions)
12 Max Pescud (Gold Coast Suns)
13 Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions)
15 Toby Trffett (Brisbane Lions)
16 Bailey Reeves (Gold Coast Suns)
18 Oliver Rojo (Gold Coast Suns)
20 Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast Suns)
23 Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions)
24 Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions)
26 Alex Davies (Gold Coast Suns)
27 Connor Bulley (Gold Coast Suns)
29 Lleyton Cottrell (Brisbane Lions)
30 Jack Johnston (Gold Coast Suns)
33 Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast Suns)
34 Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast Suns)
35 Ethan Harris (Brisbane Lions)

A squad full of zippy smalls and outside types will make the trip down for Queensland, with each member assigned to either to Gold Coast or Brisbane academies. The likes of Tahj Abberley and Ethan Hunt are likely to run through the midfield, respectively providing class and hardness to the engine room, while Saxon Crozier looks to be a leading prospect who can roam between the flanks. Blake Coleman provides some excitement up forward, with the likes of James Smith and Darcy Prest likely to solidify the half-back line. Another to watch for is Alex Davies, who is a brutish inside midfielder and finds plenty of clearances.

NAB League Boys: Round 15 preview – Super Saturday hosts four of five fixtures

A shortened round of action sees just five games set to take place in the NAB League, with four of them to be held on what will be a super Saturday. Sandringham will become the latest Victorian side to make the trip down to Tasmania, looking to roar back into the all-important top three spots. Meanwhile, Dandenong hosts Gippsland in a do-or-die clash, with much of the bottom half of the top eight set for a shuffle as the round plays out.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park (Tasmania)

A win and already sizeable percentage could help the Sandringham Dragons claw back into the safety of the top three, but a trip to Tasmania and the Devils stand in their way as they ready to clash. Currently sitting fourth, the Dragons snapped a three-game losing streak last week against reigning premiers, Dandenong, and will look to carry a more settled line-up into the back end of their season. In a slight blow to their chances, All Australian swingman Fischer McAsey – who booted three goals against Dandenong – comes out of the side, but the Dragons are set to bolster their midfield stocks with the inclusion of Darcy Chirgwin amongst at least four changes. It means the Devils’ bottom-aged midfield fleet of Oliver Davis, Sam Collins, and Will Harper will have to carry a heavy load against the likes of Sandringham top-age guns Chirgwin, Ryan Byrnes, and Miles Bergman. Tasmania’s key position posts will be bolstered though, with Jackson Callow and Oscar Shaw returning to slot in at either end and cover Sandringham’s tall threats. With the Dragons again looking themselves after a down few weeks, they would be confident of how they match up against Tasmania on paper. But the hosts were no pushovers for much of their clash against second-placed Gippsland in Round 14, and will be typically competitive on home turf.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday July 27, 11:30am
Shepley Oval

Gippsland Power poses as incredibly stiff opposition in the Dandenong Stingrays’ bid to break a streak of five-consecutive losses, with the two set to do battle at Shepley Oval on Saturday morning. The Stingrays will be buoyed by their ability to compete with Sandringham last week, going down by just seven points in enemy territory but slipping to eighth. While their ladder position remains safe regardless of results this week, they will hope to jostle back up the table to gain a better position come Wildcard Round. That cause was helped by the recent returns of the likes of Hayden Young, Sam De Koning, and Ned Cahill, with Dandenong now set to bring in some over-age strength this week as Jai Nanscawen and Corey Ellison slot into the 23. Gippsland’s Vic Country representatives have returned to NAB League action just as well though, with the Power just about back to full strength and adding some bottom-age talent in the form of Sam Berry and Nicholas Prowd this week. The Dandenong talls are some of the best in the competition and should match up well against those in the Gippsland ranks, but it is the Power’s engine room that looks most likely to rip the game apart with Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi in ripping form. Either way, expect a competitive tussle with top-end class suiting up for either side.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday July 27, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

The final rolls of the dice approach for Western as the Jets look to keep touch with the top three, set to face Murray this week with the Bushrangers all but set in ninth place coming into their final two fixtures. After a bye, the pointy-end competition has caught up to the Jets and knocked them out of a top-four position, but they will boast a near full-strength side as they consistently have throughout the year. Vic Metro representatives Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka are in at either end, with over-agers Will Kennedy, Aaron Clarke, and Daly Andrews consolidating the side’s key position strength and midfield depth. Despite a loss last week, Murray has also benefitted from the return of some top-end talent, and welcome over-agers Liam Fiore, Will Christie and Zane Barzen back into the lineup to help deal with Western’s aerial prowess after Young Guns outings. At ground level, bottom-age jet Elijah Hollands is a big out for the Bushrangers among eight changes, but the versatility of some of their mid-sized prospects will put them in good stead to plug any holes. While they have been a touch down this year given their talent on paper, the Bushrangers have won three of their last five outings and should compete well with their higher-ranked opponent this week.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday July 27, 2:30pm
Preston City Oval

A fifth-consecutive win is up for grabs for the Northern Knights as they play host to Bendigo Pioneers in a rare fixture at Preston City Oval in Saturday’s final game. The Knights have been on a tear of late, enjoying a rich vein of form with much of its representative talent running back through the NAB League 23. Their charge will be hampered somewhat by injuries to small defenders Lachie Potter and Ewan Macpherson, but the Knights are set to regain the likes of Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner among at least 10 changes this week. Josh D’Intinosante is also hot off 10 goals in his last two outings, headlining some of the moving parts in the flexible Northern squad. On the other hand, Bendigo looks to steadily be regaining form, getting up in two of its last four tries and being competitive in each. Their Round 15 side has undergone far less changes (four), with the important top-age half-back/midfield core of Ben Worme, Brady Rowles, and James Schischka all finding solid consistency. The Pioneers look flexible in their key position department too, with the likes of Braydon Vaz, Will Wallace, and Josh Treacy all able to impact up either end. Expect to see some players shuffled around throughout the game, as coaches on both sides look to find a winning combination in the lead up to Wildcard Round.

GWV REBELS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 28, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) will be looking to grab just its second win at MARS Stadium in 2019 when it hosts the Calder Cannons in Sunday’s only fixture. Despite the strength of the much-improved Cannons, this firms as the Rebels’ best chance to again win at home as they come in off a two-game win streak. Calder has gone one-better of late to have won three-straight and five of its last six games to sit within striking distance of the top three despite boasting a lower percentage. Youth is the theme for this game, with Under 16 Vic Metro representatives Josh Goater, Jack Newitt, and Zac Taylor all named to make their debuts, while PEGS quartet Harrison Jones, Campbell Edwardes, Cody Brand, and Harrison Minton-Connell make way as huge outs. The Rebels look primed to pounce, with over-agers James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd slotting straight back into the line-up to add some experience and depth on whichever line they are required. While ladder position suggests the sides aren’t so evenly matched, form and a changes on either end have levelled the ledger to make this clash an interesting one.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 14

WITH top-end talent and some of the best Under 16 performers trickling into the NAB League, there were plenty of standouts across Round 14’s action. We cast an eye on each game, highlighting the performances of representative squad members and some exciting under-agers. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a typical big impact around the ground, winning a number of quick handball in contested situations and using his power to burst away. He had a quick snap early in the game but it was marked on the line, but capitalised on a set shot late in the match from 20m out. He read the taps well from his rucks and had a great running shot – though offline but looked good technically bursting through a stoppage in the third term. He fended off an opponent on the wing at one stage and was too strong in the clinches.

#6 Riley Baldi

Winning a lot of the footy early, showing clean hands but rushed kicks at times. Still involved and was one of the muddiest players on the day with and finished the game with a great goal in the dying minutes from a tight angle. He had a flying shot on goal midway through the third term but missed, and his highlight earlier in the match was an intercept mark at half-forward.

#12 Brock Smith

Had a big game after a few errors with his disposal early but his defensive work was top notch. His intercept marking saved a number of goals throughout the match as he patrolled the half-back line. He then snuck forward twice in the final term to kick a couple of cheeky ones himself to ice the game for his side. Time and time again he would spoil or drop back into the hole and mark in defensive 50 and just settle down the team, overcoming some earlier mistakes with his disposal to be really clean in the second half, barely missing a target.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Had a massive first term picking up double-digit disposals being everywhere for the Power, zipping around the contest. Had a quieter game after that, but still had some nice moments. Won a 50m penalty at half-back and had a shot on goal from forward 50 but rushed it a bit as he did after winning a free at half-forward and kicking inside 50. Also offered himself as an option around the ground and was just solid.

#16 Josh Smith

A dominant big man up forward, booting three goals and should have had a couple more with two posters from gettable shots. He continued to lead out throughout the game, booting his first goal from a tight angle just inside 50, and then his second from 25m out after a downfield free in the second quarter. His third came on the edge of half-time to hand the Power a nine-point lead. His two shots that hit the post came in the second half with one running around from the boundary and another from a set shot straight in front. Presented well throughout and caused headaches for the opposition.

#17 Charlie Comben

Best on ground for mine for his work rate and ability to have an impact in the middle or up forward. He showed good hands under pressure, a terrific leap and able to finish off his work in front of goal. He finished with three majors, but like Smith could have had more, hitting the post from a gettable shot. His first goal was a tight angle set shot from the boundary, and then took a towering mark in the goal square over a smaller opponent in the third term and put it through after he had hit the post from the same angle but slightly further out just moments earlier. Less than 30 seconds into the final term, Comben booted the goal of the day from the boundary on the run and put in motion Gippsland’s big final quarter. His ruck work was first class, with the only concern in his game coming late when he hit his head hard and had to be helped off in a neck brace with just two minutes left on the clock.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Was okay without being outstanding, having a few nice plays around the ground. Often pushed up to the wing and won some touches up the ground, and used the ball well when having time and space. There were a couple of moments where he did a bit too much, getting caught after trying to shake off a tackler, but he stood up late in the game to kick the sealer and put his team 30 points up early in the fourth. He almost had a highlight reel moment running hard in the final term, getting caught and receiving it back but then rushing the shot on goal and hitting the behind post.

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked really hard in the first term winning a number of touches in close and getting it out to runners on the outside. He had a lovely kick under pressure on the wing to hit up a teammate close to the line. Had a quieter second half but was still present around the ground.

#4 Will Peppin

A touch of class in the forward half, winning a great hardball get under pressure in defensive 50 and getting it out to a teammate, then put his side back in front in the second term booting a running goal from 30m. Has good skills by hand or foot in wet conditions underfoot.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Absolutely unbelievable considering his stats sheet might not look as impressive as past weeks, but he was everywhere. His impact across the ground was influential, kicking a goal early in the game in the second term when they needed someone to stand up, and then had an impact in the middle. Stayed in defence in the second half, saved multiple goals from run-down tackles and then took a number of intercept marks – including a brave grab right in front of the leading Josh Smith. He continually ran back to help out his defence and then dropped into the hole, creating run and carry out of defence. He was best-on for Tasmania in my eyes, playing a crucial role on the day.

#8 Jake Steele

Similar to McGuinness, Steele was enormous in defence, not winning a heap of it, but doing the defensive things right. He marked or found the ball on the last line, lapping it up with clean hands and disposing of it well out of defence. He showed great defensive work to cleanly grab the ball first touch and get it away so a spill could not cause a goal to the opposition. The next moment he punched a ball across the line to save a shot on goal.

#13 Sam Collins

Showed some promising signs, booting Tasmania’s fifth goal midway through the second term after a 50m penalty to put them nine points up. He had a powerful clearance out of the middle not long after and provided a marking target around the ground for his side.

Eastern Ranges vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Peter Williams

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Was one of Eastern’s best throughout the day, particularly early on when the Ranges got going in the first term. Stapleton showed good evasion at half-back to evade a would-be tackler and keep the ball moving, running hard around the ground to win the footy. He had a terrific long left foot kick to the middle of the forward 50 and showed courage in the second term to fly back and have an impact on an aerial contest in defence and force a behind from a shot on goal. Continued to apply great defensive pressure as well as clean hands in close.

#20 Connor Downie

Does not need to win much of it to win an impact, but seemed to do some nice things in each quarter of the game. He had a clean pick-up early in the match to kick long inside 50 to set uo Jordan Jaworski for his second goal of the day midway through the first term. He has a lovely kicking technique and just makes things happen when going inside 50, showing class.

#23 Zak Pretty

Another solid game from the inside midfielder who like Stapleton, would drop back into defence and help out. He is a quick thinker who reacts to a loose ball quicker than most and was able to rack up a number of clearances and get the ball forward. Pretty worked hard on the inside and was able to fire out handballs to running midfielders on the outside.

#46 Tyreece Leiu

Just the three touches on debut but you can tell he has that bit of X-factor because his first kick was a lovely low dart delivery into a teammate leading out. He then won a free kick for a great tackle inside 50 in the first term and kicked truly for a great goal from the set shot.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

Like Leiu not huge disposal numbers but made his presence felt with some nice ball use around the ground on debut. He showed great vision to use the ball effectively by foot and was a quick thinker with ball-in-hand, not panicking under pressure.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Best on ground in the Chargers’ win and was absolutely sensational throughout the four quarters. No one went near him in the first term as he racked up seven touches in eight minutes then had to have a spell from suffering leather poisoning. He used his touch of class to keep the ball moving quickly, repelling from half-back to half-forward, and showed strength in the second term, shaking off a would-be tackler and kicked well down the ground whilst under pressure. He showed his class and was a rock in defence, dropping back into the hole and marking time and time again, mopping up for the Chargers and repelling opposition defence. He took a crucial intercept mark in the last minute to slow the play down when Eastern was attacking.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

An unheralded effort in the midfield, Lucas won a truckload of the ball around the stoppages, firing off quick handballs to rack up 15 disposals and in the first half and keep his side moving down the ground. He predominantly won the footy in the middle and was spreading out to the wings to provide and option and break up the play with short, sharp disposals. Won a massive one-on-one in the middle in the final term when Oakleigh was charging forward to stop Eastern from starting a counter attack.

#9 Will Phillips

The bottom-ager was ever-present in the midfield using his strength and power to move through stoppages and try and get the ball free to teammates on the outside. His kick-to-handball ratio was even this week which was important given his role is often handball-friendly. In this game Phillips was able to gain some separation on his opponents and kick the ball long, having a flying shot on goal early in the game but missing to the right, and later was able to fire away a quick handball to draw a second opponent and give his teammate a free run through the middle unimpeded.

#23 Dylan Williams

The stats do not tell the full story because Williams played an important role and looked ever dangerous inside 50. His biggest moment came when he kicked the sealing goal late in the game, dribbling it home from the pocket after working his opponent under the ball and goaling. His bodywork to win a one-on-two contest in the first term in the forward pocket was important, and not long after he intercepted a handball inside 50 but missed to the left with his shot. He missed another chance in the second term to the left, but then set up a teammate with a perfect kick to a leading target inside 50. He booted his first goal with a great set shot late in the second term to put his side in front and showed class with deft touches that might not count as a disposal, but were crucial in keeping the ball live at times and his teammates in contention to score.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Has a bit of the Sam Sturt’s about him in the sense that he looks raw, but very exciting. After turning his first kick over, Sharman used the ball effectively pushing up to the wing and then doubling back inside 50, finishing with four goals, all from general play. He has great special awareness and vision to be able to hit-up targets off very little time and space, and can do damage with ball in hand in the forward half. A creative player who can also hit the scoreboard, and took a great towering mark despite front-on contact friendly fire in the third term. Clean and classy, and has the composure not to blaze away, and rather set up teammates forward of the ball.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The tough midfielder was again at his damaging best, putting in another consistent effort for the Dragons, rounded out by 24 disposals, seven tackles and six inside 50s. Byrnes’ body of work over the year is placing him as one of the most consistent players in the draft pool and rarely plays a bad game. Drove Sandringham’s midfield alongside Hanrahan and was a reason the Dragons prevailed.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

The wingman was one of the dominant players of the round, capping off a superb performance with 35 disposals, 14 marks, eight rebound 50s and a classy goal. Was absolutely everywhere in the first half, racking up 22 touches and ball-winning showcased a ball winning ability that hasn’t been seen until now. His recent VFL experience with Sandringham was showcased, and Hanrahan looked a class above his peers, using his speed, electric ball use and smarts to great effect.

#29 Fischer McAsey

The backman’s draft stocks continue to rise on the back of another sound performance, this time up forward for the Dragons. Used as an intercepting key defender for Vic Metro in the Championships, McAsey slotted three goals for the day in a display that highlighted his around the ground capabilities. Had a consistent aerial presence all day and looked threatening as a forward, finishing with 10 marks and generating strong lead patterns and worked well with the smaller forwards. Took a fantastic pack mark from an errant entry in the first quarter, eventually going back and slotting the shot from 40m out. Started the third quarter on fire, slamming home 2.1 which was testimony of his ability to be a game breaker for the Dragons.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

The potential top 10 pick was capped off another sound performance with 24 disposals, five rebounds and five inside 50s. Gave Dandenong life in the last quarter, slotting a long-range goal on the run to put them 21 points down and mount a late surge. Young’s disposal efficiency is what separates him from other midfielders and combing this with his pace, which was on show today, makes him a compelling prospect. Outbodied his Sandringham opponent in the second quarter to take a good contested mark, only to miss the straight forward shot which would have been disappointed him.

#11 Ned Cahill

Played a role further up the ground to win the bulk of his touches in the contest. He won a number of clearances and whilst his kicking was rushed at times, showed versatility in playing through the midfield. Cahill had the most centre clearances of any player on the field, and while his greatest impact is inside 50, no doubt his ability to move through an inside role would have been a big tick for those watching on.

#20 Sam De Koning

The agile big man was solid for the Stingrays with 15 disposals and four rebounds. Playing in a largely defensive role, De Koning did not spend much time in the ruck for the game. Moves well for a big man and has good skills for a 200cm athlete.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#5 Cam Wild

Wild’s work-rate remained consistently high and he did his best to provide plenty of run and carry through the middle of the ground. He was a bit rushed with his disposal at times, but he always got the ball moving forward. Although he did not have the biggest game possession-wise, but still caught the eye with his pressure around the contest

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash started the match up forward and was involved in the first passage of play inside 50. After the Bushrangers fell 30 points behind in the first term, it was Ash who stood up for the home side, with a terrific 50m goal after the quarter-time siren. He moved into the guts in the second term and was very dangerous with ball in hand. His speed also came in handy around the ground, constantly finding a way to escape congestion, finding space in areas that he should not have been allowed. Ash kicked his second goal of the game in the fourth quarter after tucking the ball under his arm and burning off his opponent with his electric speed through the middle of the ground. He was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day and was impressive yet again, finishing with over 20 disposals and two goals.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft is a genuine in-and-under, fierce footballer. He has a good burst of speed and always seems to have a big impact both defensively and offensively – especially when he has minutes through the midfield. He was involved in the first scoring play of the second term when he drove a long ball inside 50 from a centre clearance. Chalcraft was able to use his strength to his advantage on the day, breaking numerous tackles before disposing of the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. Just love the way he goes about his footy.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Kicked a crumbing goal in the first 30 seconds of the second term, which swung the momentum of the game back in the Bushranger’s favour. He played in all areas of the ground, showcasing that he can have an impact in any position he’s instructed to play in. Ball-use was again a highlight of his game, along with his speed and vision. Another consistent performance from Boyer, finishing with 20 disposals and one goal.

#20 Elijah Hollands

Hollands played through the Bushrangers’ midfield, as well as up forward where he was a regular target. Hollands had a big impact early on when he spoiled a marking contest after a poor kick-in from the Knights, resulting in Murray’s first goal of the game. He had an electric 10 or so minutes in the first term, where he provided spark and x-factor around the contest. Holland’s forward craft is one of his best attributes and it was evident during the match, with the talented bottom-ager finding plenty of space across half-forward.

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

Davies played across half-back and was immediately involved when he took a nice intercept mark from a ball delivered inside 50 by the Bushrangers. He was reliable with ball in hand and was very patient before making his final decision by foot. Davies controlled the backline on the day and did what he pleased. He played loose and was able to set up plenty of effective passages of play from behind. Intercept marking was a real standout. Davies had a game-high 15 marks.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante presented strongly, booting his first major of the day after a brilliant kick from 45m out. He was able to use his speed to break away from his opponent before successfully kicking his second goal of the quarter. D’Intinosante had his third goal of the quarter after crumbing a marking contest perfectly and then dribbling through an easy goal. Just 30 seconds later, D’Intinosante snapped his fourth of the quarter from a tight angle. It was one of the best first-quarter performances of the year and the Bushrangers seemed to have no way of stopping the electric forward. He was awarded a free-kick in the forward pocket at the beginning of the second quarter and once again, converted his set-shot. He had five goals in half an hour of footy! He was a little quieter in the second half, but his first two quarters cannot go unrecognised. One of the main reasons the Knights got the four points.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess was involved in the first goal for the Knights when he handballed it to teammate Anthony O’Sullivan in open space, who then went on to dribble the ball through the big sticks. He competed strongly in the air, taking nine marks on for the match. Sturgess had three shots on goal but only ended up with one major. However, Sturgess definitely showed off his versatility by having an impact at both ends of the ground. A really good game where his reading of the play and sticky hands were on display.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#19 Ben Worme

It was a solid outing from Worme, performing his usual role off half-back and serving reliably. He linked up well early with fellow flanker James Schischka, often kicking away on the outside. He accumulated well in important areas, and began to take the game on more as it wore on. That culminated in a big run forward to get the hand-off at half-forward and slam home a goal on the run. You know what you are going to get from Worme, and he has enjoyed a consistent month.

#20 James Schischka

The Pioneers’ defensive mainstay endured an up and down day, involved in the action but unable to get his usual running game going and selling teammates into trouble by hand at times. Still, Schischka was strong in one-on-one duels across half-back and showed better composure when running off the last line, competing well both in the air and on ground level. His game could be summed up with one of his last plays in the final term, where he made a terrific tackle to win the ball on the defensive arc, but wheeled around and turned the ball straight over to gift Calder a goal.

#22 Josh Treacy

The enigmatic tall made a good return to the Bendigo side, playing a strong hand in a few different roles. Starting forward, Treacy used his frame to edge his opponent under the ball one-on-one while also hitting up well on the lead. He was not afraid to throw his weight around at ground level either, running straight through an opponent after making a handy spoil from behind on the wing. His timing on the lead when Bendigo broke from stoppages continued to prove smart, and he would eventually make amends for a couple of earlier set shot misses with a free kick goal in the final term. Also popped up with some marks in defensive 50, rucked up forward, and was even thrown on-ball at a centre bounce.

#26 Noah Walsh

Has come into the side in the middle period of the season and provided a bit of spark, this time through midfield and up forward. Donning his helmet, Walsh buzzed around at ground level to win the ball cleanly in congestion, showing good tenacity going both ways. The bottom-ager read the taps well, with one snare resulting in a goal from a forward stoppage in the third term. He would go on to play a bit more forward, hitting up and marking strongly on a couple of occasions, while lowering his eyes well to find targets when running from further afield.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles again popped up in patches with glimpses of his eye-catching dash through the middle. While he found the going tough around the ball with a few fumbles, the Vic Country representative fared better when receiving on the outer and being given the license to put his foot down. He made a couple of those typical daring sprints through the corridor in the second half, with one almost leading to a Pioneers goal.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

It was a steady return for the leading Calder prospect, playing as a constant through midfield. He was often first to the drop of the ball at stoppages, but was also pushed under the rucks at times which hampered his ability to find the pill. When he did latch onto it, Mott’s hands out of traffic were terrific, drawing opponents and dishing off to runners to good effect. Mott also began to get on his bike as the game went on, stringing a nice one-two play together from the centre bounce to go inside 50 and getting a couple of handball receives as we’re used to seeing.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks. His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on. Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and willingness to break tackles.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay has strung together a massive three weeks in terms of ball-winning, racking it up through midfield and adding strings to his bow. He started off with a couple of nice handballs out from stoppages before providing his more typical ploy of wheeling away from traffic onto his left side and thumping the ball forward. He worked tirelessly to do so repeatedly throughout the game, hardly losing pace and penetration by foot. Ramsay also lowered his eyes well to find Harrison Jones and Samuel Paea on the lead on the end of his runs, showcasing that outside class he provided off half-back earlier in the year. Capped off his game with a goal from close range after finding space inside 50.

#21 Harrison Jones

While he is yet to truly tear a game apart, Jones certainly looks like he has the potential to do so. In his first Cannons outing since Round 3, Jones moved well to get separation on the lead – starting with a mark and set shot goal from 40m in the first term. His work up the ground was handy, plucking a nice grab up on the wing in the following term and tackling well to follow up a pass which had fallen well short of him. Jones added a second after reading the ball well in flight to mark from the side deep inside 50 and slot home the resultant shot.

#29 Campbell Edwardes

The bottom-ager is a dynamic type, this time playing on the wing and again proving clean in the air, off the deck, and in disposal. He does not win massive amounts of ball, but Edwardes catches the eye with most of his touches, starting with a nicely judged mark from behind his opponent inside 50 and slotting Calder’s first goal of the game. He popped up again in the first term with a clean pick up and fend off, going on to provide a presence at ground level with pressure and tackling. Edwardes also positioned well behind the ball when Calder entered attacking 50, taking an intercept mark in the second term to lock the ball in, but would somewhat fade out of the game.

#38 Brodie Newman

Another to return from Vic Metro duties, Newman was solid in his usual defensive post. He immediately got back into the rhythm of intercepting and rebounding, but did get himself into trouble early on as he looked to load up on his right side with limited room. Newman’s positioning and reading of the play was good, playing like a key back while also getting on his bike with ball in hand. Will be important in the back-end of Calder’s season.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#6 Archie Hilderbrandt

Proved a handy addition in his first game since Round 9, keeping busy wherever her went. The bottom-ager started forward and was involved at the fall of the ball in Geelong’s front half, while also working hard to get out the back and in space on the counter. Hilderbrandt thought he had a goal in the second term but his snap was touched off the boot, and he later moved into the midfield where he got on the end of some deft Henry Walsh taps to break from congestion at speed – twice at the centre bounces.

#12 Noah Gribble

Has now put together a consistent few weeks, with this arguably his best outing for the season. Gribble came into the game early with some work down back, including a good couple of flies to intercept in defensive 50. He went on to win a good mix of ball at ground level on the outer of stoppages, as well as in general play. The bottom-ager was a constant accumulator and swept up well wherever he went, eventually finding his way into the back half again to help out in sweeping the ball away with some carry.

#36 Charlie Sprague

The shining light up forward for Geelong, Sprague booted his side’s first two goals of the game in an important second term effort. As a more mature body, the over-ager was strong in one-on-one contests – working well to mark up the ground and stand tall deep inside 50. His first goal came after reading the ball best from the back and marking, going on to convert the set shot. His second would come in a similar fashion, bustling through from behind another two opponents to mark and goal. He missed a couple more chances and had one touched off the boot, but Sprague would cap his day with a well finished snap after spilling the mark in the final term. Now has three-consecutive three-goal hauls in the NAB League.

#40 Jesse Clark

Returning to the side after a solid campaign for Vic Country, Clark assumed his usual role in patrolling defensive 50. The Geelong co-captain was a constant outlet option in the back half and used the ball well by foot despite not always breaching the GWV press. He would go on to station himself further afield to lock the ball in Geelong’s front half and did so to good effect before popping up again in defensive 50 as he looked to create early in the final term.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Fleeton is another bottom-ager the Falcons staff are high on, and he continues to put his hand up in an intercepting role across half-back. His early work included a few repelling kicks as GWV made a quick start, before eventually getting his aerial game going. Fleeton positioned well on the wing to intercept a long Rebels ball forward in the second term, repeating the act with a terrific pack mark to show his clean hands and reading of the ball in flight. Looks to have been a good find in the middle-part of the year.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

It was a handball-happy game from Mahony, who made most of his impact around the stoppages. His handballs to teammates on the outside proved handy time and time again, using rare vision and clean use to create passages forward for others. Mahony also caught the eye with a couple of neat pieces of evasion, shrugging off and turning his opponents shortly after gathering the loose ball on the move. Was a constant through midfield, adding some class but not collecting massive numbers.

#7 Mitch Martin

The forward/midfielder continues to find both the ball and the goals, proving a dangerous mover as the game wore on. Martin created a bit of spark with a couple of handball chains on the outside, carving up the wing and releasing long by foot. His work forward was also handy, finding separation on the lead just inside 50 and booting his first goal just before half time. His second came in the final term as he got out the back at half-forward before marking and coolly finishing on the run from 45m. Was another to add quality to an end-to-end game.

#13 Jay Rantall

Continuing his role as a centre bounce constant, Rantall was superb when latching onto the ball on the forward side of the stoppages. Did not end up with the big numbers we have become used to, but made each one count this time around with some deft handballs and booting a couple of sensational goals. His first was a classy finish from 50m on the run after arching his back to burn an opponent, and the second was another nice finish at full flight from closer in. Is a steady riser and arguably the Rebels’ best.

#41 Fraser Marris

The bottom-ager was solid forward of centre, pitching in with a couple of nice touches in the first term. One was a set shot goal after earning a free kick inside 50, and another was a strong mark overhead. Marris showed similar form to intercept one-on-one on the wing in the second term, while also bursting aggressively through traffic. He paired that aggression with a neat kick to Mitch Martin inside 50, assisting his goal.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Under 16 Vic Country representative showed promise on his NAB League debut, thrown straight into the ruck before spending most of his time up forward. While he did not find the goals, Rentsch almost did just that from a shot off the deck after a strong bit of bodywork one-out in the square. He went on to find space well up on half-forward and had a particularly clean half-volley take in the last term to show his athleticism.

NAB League Boys Round 14 preview: U16 talent hits the big time

AFTER a week off for all but two of the NAB League Boys sides, the competition recommences full-time action with a double-header at Box Hill City Oval in Saturday’s lone fixtures. A top-four clash between Eastern and Oakleigh firms as the game of the round, with the Geelong and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) clash set to have an impact down the other end of the ladder. Watch for the debuts of some of the nation’s best Under 16s too, fresh off their National Championship campaigns.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Saturday July 20, 11:45am
Box Hill City Oval

A near full-strength Gippsland Power unit will look to pile the pain on Tasmania when they do battle at Box Hill City Oval to kick off Round 14. Both sides are coming off losses, but the Devils have faced a few more challenges over the last four weeks in a string of losses. Results aside, their usual competitiveness has risen in the last fortnight, but Gippsland’s ins make the Power a tough proposition for even a side in the best of form. A massive seven Country representatives return to the side, with the likes of Brock Smith, Sam Flanders, Charlie Comben, and Josh Smith re-forming that strong spine. On the other hand, Tasmania will be without both Mitch O’Neill and competition leading goal kicker Jackson Callow in a big blow to their chances. O’Neill’s class through the midfield will likely be covered by the likes of Under-16 Division 2 MVP Sam Banks and bottom-aged Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins, meaning Callow’s goals could prove the most difficult void to fill. The game will be the Devils’ last in Victoria for the regular season, with their remaining two fixtures set to be played at home, while Gippsland will finish off with a couple of country fixtures.

EASTERN RANGES vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday July 20, 2:15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what looms as the game of the round, Oakleigh will look to derail Eastern’s charge atop the NAB League ladder when the sides meet to round out Saturday’s action. The Ranges are on a tear, simply finding a way to win in each of their six-consecutive victories dating back to Round 7. Having twice gotten the better of fellow top-four hopefuls Sandringham in that run, they should come into this fixture against a rampant Oakleigh outfit with the confidence to stand tall despite the Chargers’ form. Oakleigh’s attempt to make it seven wins from their last eight outings will be dented slightly by the loss of promising bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Tucker, and Reef McInnes, but gain some midfield depth as Jeromy Lucas and Fraser Elliot make the 23. Eastern’s key position strength will be tested as skipper James Ross joins Jamieson Rossiter and Joel Nathan as outs, but we should be treated to a glimpse into the future as Metro U16 stars Tyler Sonsie and Tyreece Leiu have been named to make their debuts. Both could feature through midfield, with Metro MVP Sonsie also able to move forward well. It adds another layer to what already shapes as an interesting battle, with the Ranges hoping to maintain their two-game buffer in first place.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday July 21, 9:30am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

A chance to snap losing streaks is up for grabs for Sandringham and Dandenong at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, with both sides sliding out of the top four in recent weeks. The Dragons have been on a three-game slide while Dandenong has lost its last four, and Sandringham could well jump back into the top four should results go their way. The Stingrays’ six changes seems significant, but it pales in comparison to Sandringham’s 13 with a raft of top-end talent going both ways in either starting 23. Dandenong’s ins read well, with All Australians Hayden Young and Sam De Koning slotting back in alongside Country teammates Ned Cahill, Blake Kuipers, and Bigoa Nyuon. On the other hand, the home side regains Fischer McAsey and Miles Bergman alongside over-agers Riley Bowman and Angus Hanrahan, but lose stars on each line in the form of Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Charlie Dean. The Dragons’ strength of depth has shone through thus far, and should carry them through well in this bout despite Dandenong’s sizeable inclusions. If the Eastern and Oakleigh game is the best of the round, this looks to be a close second with clear finals ramifications in play.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The Calder Cannons could shoot into the top four with a win and favourable results elsewhere, but Bendigo Pioneers stand in their way in a meeting set for Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Cannons have enjoyed a good stretch of form, winning in four of their last five outings, with some key talent in the form of Daniel Mott, Harrison Jones, and Brodie Newman set to add a bit of class to the side which is sailing along smoothly. Bendigo has fared a touch differently, but the Pioneers found form well in the last three rounds with two wins and a 10-point loss added to their record. The competition in this game is a little stiffer, but the inclusions of Brady Rowles and Logan Fitzgerald should bode well for their chances of a fifth win. Big man Josh Treacy also returns, named up forward alongside usual full back Will Wallace as the Pioneers shuffle their key position magnets – and they could well be tested in that area given Calder’s ins. Bendigo should make a game of it on home turf, with both sides refreshed after a week off and keen to gain as much ladder position as possible with just three regular season rounds remaining.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Deakin Reserve

The battle for top eight spots heats up as ninth place Murray hosts eighth place Northern with just four points separating the two sides. Both have enjoyed good bursts of form of late, with Northern on a three-game winning run and Murray’s own streak of three only just broken last round by ladder-leaders, Eastern. Either sides’ true credentials will be revealed as they go close to hitting full strength, while also welcoming some Under 16 talent to their respective line-ups. Kevin Sheehan medallist Josh Rachele is one of those talented 16-year-olds named to play, while Northern boast Darcy Wilmot and Jack Rossimel. In the top-age stakes, Murray look to have replenished well with co-skipper Lachlan Ash returning alongside Cam Wild, while fellow Country representative Elijah Hollands also slots in. For Northern, key midfield cog Adam Carafa goes out alongside Metro teammate Nikolas Cox in a blow to their depth, but the versatility of the side should see the Knights cover their losses. With the top eight make-up truly taking shape in the closing three rounds, this game will prove to be a key one in deciding Wildcard Round fixtures.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday July 21, 1:30pm
GMHBA Stadium

Bottom two sides Geelong and GWV clash at GMHBA Stadium to see out Round 14, with just four wins between the teams heading into the final few fixtures. If history is anything to go by, this is set to be a close one, as the Rebels managed to snatch a one-point win over the Falcons all the way back in Round 2 in a thriller. The stakes are arguably higher in this clash with pride on the line and some notable under-age talent breaking into either starting 23. GWV welcomes Country Under 16 representatives Ben Hobbs and Josh Rentsch, with top-age stars Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin, Toby Mahony also set to really bolster the line-up. Meanwhile, the Falcons are finally set to again field one of their two original co-captains with Jesse Clarke back into the defensive unit, with the likes of over-agers Lochlan Hocking and Sam Christensen getting another crack in the starting team. With limited opportunities to bolster up their win tallies, both sides should give this game a red hot crack on the hallowed Kardinia Park turf.

Western Australia and Vic Country to decide AFL U18s title

A NEW national champion will be crowned tomorrow evening with Vic Country and Western Australia set to lock horns for the national title, while South Australia and the Allies play after in what has become a dead rubber match, but still plenty of talent on show. Vic Country has not won since 2015, with Vic Metro and South Australia combining for the other seven titles in that time. Josh Schache was named the Larke Medallist for his dominance up forward, in a team that included Darcy Parish, Ben Ainsworth, Jarrod Berry, Jacob Weitering and Rhys Mathieson. For Western Australia, the time between wins is even longer, with a decade passing since their 2009 triumph where the likes of David Swallow, Mitch Duncan, Jack Darling, Brandon Matera and Travis Colyer were running around in the yellow and black.

 

VIC COUNTRY vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Wednesday July 3, 2.10pm
Marvel Stadium

The 2019 AFL Under-18 National Championships once again comes down to the final day, and the winner of this match between Vic Country and Western Australia with the home side undefeated from its three games, while Western Australia has won two out of three, the only blip coming in a low-scoring against South Australia in Round 1. Both teams have accounted for the Allies and Vic Metro – with Country notching up its two wins early on including a 15-goal humiliation of the Allies, while Western Australia had to fight hard but recorded strong wins over both. This game is set to be a beauty with the strong defence of the Country side going head-to-head with the excitement machines that represent Western Australia.

Vic Country has made two changes for the game with Sandringham Dragons’ Darcy Chirgwin coming in for his first game of the series following a successful return from injury a couple of weekends ago against Eastern Ranges. That day he collected 32 disposals and 11 clearances in an impressive return match, joined in the Country side by Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild who was left out of the Murray side on the weekend in order to play this game, but picked up 29 touches the week prior. Fraser Phillips and Lachlan Williams are the two players to miss out after quiet games in the narrow win over South Australia. Western Australia has opted for four changes with the highly rated Jeremy Sharp missing out on the side this week, while Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley and Reuben McGuire are also out of the team. In their place come a couple of overagers in Ryan Bennell and Jarvis Pina, as well as Nathan O’Driscoll and Nicholas Martin.

Both teams have the capability to move the ball with speed, and for Country, it has the two best half-backs in the draft in Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash making life difficult for any side as they slice up opposition zones. Brock Smith and Sam De Koning have proven to stand up as the key talls, with Smith having to play in a higher weight division as he will with a potential match-up against bottom-age tall Logan McDonald on the cards. The small forwards of Country have been very damaging with Cody Weightman the leading goalkicker of the carnival and it will be between him and Elijah Taylor to take out the title. Elijah Hollands has weaved magic across the past month despite being a bottom-ager, while Ned Cahill has worked well with Weightman transitioning from Dandenong Stingrays to the Country side. The midfield of Gippsland Power duo, Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders, and Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp has made a massive difference and will no doubt look to control the ball in there, able to match it with the strong West Australian midfielders.

Western Australia’s strength lies in its ruck and speed. Luke Jackson is the dominant ruck and is set for All-Australian honours, while Taylor, Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne have that X-factor about them and can create something out of nothing. Deven Robertson has done his draft chances no harm after being injured last year, coming second in the disposals across the carnival, and being a shining light as captain of the Sandgropers. Riley Garcia and Chad Warner have also been consistent in there, while Trent Rivers is a touch of class who can play between half-back and the wing, or go through the middle. The bottom-age talls of McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras hold the visitors in good stead for next year, while Jake Pasini and Callum Jamieson have been strong up either end at the carnival. Spectators also get a glimpse of bottom-age talent O’Driscoll who has been named at half-back, in a game that is predicted to be an absolute beauty.

Vic Country will head in as favourites having gone undefeated thus far, but Western Australia are fresh off a rest whereas Vic Country have the five-day break so it will be interesting to see how that affects them.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 26. Jesse Clark – 36. Sam De Koning – 9. Isaac Wareham
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash – 24. Brock Smith – 18. Hayden Young
C: 8. Thomson Dow – 16. Brodie Kemp – 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill – 20. Elijah Hollands – 13. Jay Rantall
F: 6. Riley Baldi – 39. Josh Smith – 3. Cody Weightman
R: 40. Charlie Comben – 4. Sam Flanders – 2. Caleb Serong
INT: 22. Darcy Chirgwin – 14. Liam Herbert – 10. Harrison Pepper – 5. Cameron Wild

IN: Darcy Chirgwin, Cam Wild
OUT: Fraser Phillips, Lachlan Williams

Western Australia:

B: 13. Ben Johnson – 21. Jake Pasini – 20. Jaxon Prior
HB: 22. Max Murphy – 36. Denver Grainger-Barras – 7. Nathan O’Driscoll
C: 12. Regan Clarke – 10. Deven Robertson – 5. Liam Henry
HF: 18. Jai Jackson – 25. Logan McDonald – 19. ELijah Taylor
F: 23. Nicholas Martin – 39. Callum Jamieson – 3. Tyrone Thorne
R: 32. Luke Jackson – 14. Chad Warner – 4. Riley Garcia
INT: 34. Ryan Bennell – 24. Ronin O’Connor – 11. Jarvis Pina – 35. Trent Rivers – 26. Trey Ruscoe

IN: Nathan O’Driscoll – Nicholas Martin, Ryan Bennell, Jarvis Pina
OUT: Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley, Jeremy Sharp, Reuben McGuire

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. ALLIES
Wednesday July 3, 4.40pm
Marvel Stadium

In the second game of the double-header, South Australia and Allies will effectively play-off for third spot having already amassed two losses from three games. As South Australia defeated Western Australia, the Croweaters can effectively grab second with a win over the Allies and a Vic Country triumph in the first game. However they could also finish last with a loss, because they also lost to Vic Metro who sit with the same amount of wins – one. If the Allies win they will grab third, while if they lose they will be fourth after ensuring they will not finish last thanks to the win over Vic Metro. South Australia came agonisingly close to making this a title game if they had come away with the points against Vic Country, but with their back-to-back hopes dashed, the Croweaters will be keen to finish off the carnival with a good win.

The Allies have made two changes to the side that got over the line by two points against Vic Metro, recalling exciting bottom-age forward Braeden Campbell, as well as ball winner, Jeromy Lucas who has been named at full-forward. Out of the side go Nicholas Brewer and James Peatling. The South Australians have also made the two changes with Kysaiah Pickett returning from suspension for the game, joined in the side by Jordan Moore, while Jordan O’Brien and Brady Searle are the outs from the team that narrowly lost to Vic Country in the previous game.

The battle of the midfields will be entertaining with Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Lachlan McNeil going head-to-head with Tom Green, Ben Jungfer and Connor Budarick on the outside, while Will Martyn and Mitch O’Neill will hope to match the run provided by Dylan Stephens and Josh Shute on the wing. Up forward, South Australia has some great variety with Daniel Sladojevic the key tall, Cameron Taheny as the talented medium forward, and Pickett as the electrifying small. Noah Cumberland, Tom Griffiths and Luke Parks are in some good form and will look to cover the smalls and mediums, while Liam Delahunty could have the job on Sladojevic.

Up the other end, the South Australian defence is right up there in terms of quality with Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay a couple of dominant tall intercept markers, allowing captain Will Gould to run riot off half-back. Will Day and Luke Edwards also create great run and rebound out of the back half, but will need to be accountable to the likes of Campbell and Hewago Paul Oea who are nimble and damaging if given time and space. Josh Gore is in some ripping form after three goals in the last game, and Hamish Ellem has also produced the goods at ground level. Add in the Allies depth of Errol Gulden and Malcolm Rosas Jr coming off the bench through the forward half and they have plenty of scoring options. Corey Durdin is a name to remember for next year for the Croweaters, while Damon Freitag could cause issues given his size and strength.

South Australia will be favourites in this game given how close all of their games have been, but the Allies have improved each game they have run out, so if that is any indication, they are set to hold up here against strong opposition.

TEAMS:

South Australia:

B: 35. Karl Finlay – 33. Dyson Hilder – 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 19. Luke Edwards – 24. Will Gould – 12. Will Day
C: 10. Joshua Shute – 18. Jackson Mead – 7. Dylan Stephens
HF: 8. Jed McEntee – 32. Daniel Sladojevic – 17. Josh Morris
F: 31. Jordan Moore – 9. Cameron Taheny – 1. Kysaiah Pickett
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows – 15. Harry Schoenberg – 20. Lachlan McNeil
INT: 14. Declan Carmody – 3. Corey Durdin – 42. Damon Freitag – 11. Callum Park – 28 Oliver Shaw

IN: Kysaiah Pickett, Jordan Moore
OUT: Jordan O’Brien, Brady Searle

Allies:

B: 8. Tom Griffiths – 52. Dirk Koenen – 21. Luke Parks
HB: 46. Noah Cumberland – 26. Liam Delahunty – 36. Sam Thorne
C: 15. Will Martyn – 3. Connor Budarick – 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell – 37. Josh Gore – 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 31. Hamish Ellem – 47. Jeromy Lucas – 32. Jack Steele
R: 54. Ben Kelly – 22. Thomas Green – 16. Ben Jungfer
INT: 12. Ashton Crossley – 1. Errol Gulden – 24.Joel Jeffrey – 20. Matt McGrory – 4. Malcolm Rosas Jr

IN: Jeromy Lucas, Braeden Campbell
OUT: Nicholas Brewer, James Peatling

Country gets home with last kick of the day

A BRODIE Kemp goal in the dying seconds has helped Vic Country remain alive in the AFL Under 18 National Championships competition, defeating South Australia by a solitary point and ending their opponent’s dream of back-to-back national titles. While Country went into the match undefeated and South Australia at 1-1 after dropping a game to Vic Metro, Country needed to win otherwise there was danger of losing the title under the head-to-head rule. It was a see-sawing contest that looked to be in South Australia’s clutches at one stage, particularly when Croweaters’ captain Will Gould had enough of the arm-wrestle and burst off half-back, charged down the middle to half-forward and launched a ripping goal in the dying minutes to put the visitors in front. It took an equally special play from the Country side – starting with Harrison Pepper at half-back winning a crucial contest, to the slick Lachlan Ash in the midfield, pin-pointing an elite kick forward which saw Kemp lunge in from the side and hold it. Taking time off the clock with the set shot, the fate of Vic Country’s title hopes effectively rested on the kick, which Kemp duly delivered from about 50m and saw the home side get up 9.9 (63) to 9.8 (62).

Earlier, South Australia’s top-10 hopeful Dylan Stephens got his side off to the perfect start with a terrific running goal to get the visiting fans up and about in the opening term. The red-hot form of Cody Weightman continued with the exciting Dandenong Stingrays’ forward looking dangerous every time he went near it, combining well with fellow Stingray, Ned Cahill inside 50, and capitalising with two majors. The Gippsland Power brigade of Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders and Brock Smith were superb in the opening term, combining for 24 disposals, while Ash was already having an impact through his slick kicking. Harry Schoenberg‘s ripping form at the carnival continued, extracting the ball from the inside and getting it out, picking up a game-high 12 disposals in the first quarter, while Gould and Jackson Mead were able to execute well with nine touches a piece.

The second term saw South Australia start with more flair as bottom-age talent Corey Durdin and Josh Morris booted goals to help the Croweaters to a little break. Once again, it was the likes of Flanders and Serong who answered the call, with Flanders picking up 11 disposals in the term, and missing a great chance at goal, while Serong was dominating around the stoppages with six clearances to his name by the main break – three more than any other player on the field. Weightman was again causing headaches when he converted his third, while Cahill and potential top five pick next year, Elijah Hollands got in on the party with majors. Country had all the momentum heading into the break, while Schoenberg (19 disposals, three clearances) was a standout for the South Australians, as was Gould and Will Day.

The third quarter saw South Australia again get back on top before Country reeled them in with a late goal, as Durdin booted his second, and Jordan O’Brien and Daniel Sladojevic also converted majors, with Josh Smith‘s late goal crucial for the one side to remain in touch at the final break, just one point behind. Another 10 disposals to Serong in the term saw the Power midfielder looking towards his biggest numbers, while Kemp and Hayden Young were having impact around the ground, particularly coming off half-back. Sam De Koning‘s defensive work outside the stats sheet – including spoils and blocks – were as important as his intercept marking, while up the other end, South Australian tall duo of Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay were intercepting everything that came their way. It allowed Gould to run off and create passages of play up the ground, while bottom-ager Luke Edwards showed his class as one of the bigger ball winners on the day, and Lachlan McNeil was crucial with quick hands in congestion, as Josh Shute was caused all sorts of issues along the wing.

The final quarter was a nail-biting contest that looked to be going one way then the other, and after an arm-wrestle for the majority, the last few minutes were electrifying. Both sides found their range with Country booting 3.3 to South Australia’s 3.1 after having kicked a combined 12.13 in the first three quarters. Mead had a huge last quarter in the forward half, converting two goals to keep his side in it. The passage of play that saw Gould launch from 50 had the visiting fans up and about with the captain mobbed by teammates believing that had won with only a couple of minutes left. South Australia were able to do the majority of the attacking for the last couple of minutes, with Pepper’s ability to get it to Ash who had the audacity to sidestep and opponent, buy himself time and deliver under pressure to a perfect position for Kemp being the difference. With the weight of his state on his shoulders, Kemp would have received a big tick from recruiters to take all the time off the clock then go back and nail the set shot to help Country to victory, with the siren going before another meaningful possession could occur.

Serong was best on ground for his 33 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles, 10 clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, while Flanders finished with 28 touches, seven marks, four tackles, three clearances, 10 inside 50s and one goal. Kemp’s heroics were far from the only impact he had for the day, racking up 27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, four inside 50s and that memorable goal, while Ash had 19 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds, working well with Young (18 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and seven rebounds), and Weightman finished with four goals for the second time this carnival. For South Australia, Schoenberg racked up another 32 disposals, five marks, six clearances, three tackles and three rebounds, while Gould had 26 disposals, five marks, three clearances, four inside 50s, five rebounds and that long range goal. Day helped himself to 24 disposals, five marks and seven rebounds in a promising performance off half-back, while Edwards (23 disposals, five marks, three rebounds), McNeil (23 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds), Mead (22 disposals, three marks, four clearances, four rebounds and his two last quarter goals) and Hilder (15 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds) were all strong among others in an even contribution for the visitors.

Vic Country now plays Western Australia for the title in the first game at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday, while South Australia wraps up its carnival with the game against the Allies after that.

VIC COUNTRY 2.2 | 5.3 | 6.6 | 9.9 (63)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.3 | 3.6 | 6.7 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:

Vic Country: Weightman 4, Flanders, Kemp, Cahill, J. Smith, Hollands.
South Australia: Mead 2, Durdin 2, Gould, Stephens, O’Brien, Sladojevic, Morris.

ADC BEST:

Vic Country: Serong, Flanders, Kemp, Weightman, Ash, De Koning
South Australia: Gould, Schoenberg, Hilder, Day, Mead, McNeil

Vic Country makes it two on the trot with big win over Allies

VIC Country continued its ominous start to the AFL Under 18 National Championships, comprehensively beating the Allies by 97 points in Launceston on Sunday to stake its claim as the new team to beat.

Cody Weightman ensured Country got off on the right foot, reading a long-range Caleb Serong set shot best to win the spoils and snap an opportunistic first goal from deep in the pocket. After Will Chandler missed the chance to hit back with a free kick from 25 metres out, Tom Green and Hamish Ellem snapped wide with the Allies’ only other opportunities for the term. Serong made them pay shortly after two quick goals to go with a Jay Rantall major, seeing Country break to a 23-point quarter time lead.

It was more of the same after the first break, with Country dominating the course of general play to pile on another five majors. Weightman was again in the action, winning a free kick in his customary pocket and duly converting, with Thomson Dow slotting home from the goalsquare, while Mitch Martin and Lachlan Williams hit set shots from further out sweetly and Ned Cahill made it nine first half goals. While the Allies double their score in the term, they remained goalless heading into the main break.

Warning bells were ringing as an Elijah Hollands shot on the fly sailed on target to start the third term, but Tom Griffiths cut it off with a mark on the goal line. Vic Country had 54 points on the board before Jackson Barling marked strongly and made good on his set shot to give the Allies their first goal, but it would be their only big moment for the term as the Vics again kicked away. Another free kick inside 50 saw Josh Smith provide an immediate reply, while also playing a part in Cam Wild‘s goal shortly after. Ryan Sparkes put through another to make the lead 64 heading into the final straight, with the result well beyond doubt.

A Martin dribbler goal after some early deadlock meant it was party time for Country, as he celebrated his work with the ever exuberant Cahill. A double to Weightman, second from Rantall and third from Serong and Martin, ensured the visitors put their foot to the throat of the Allies, with the penultimate goal from Noah Cumberland the only resistance in a six goals to one closing term.

Lachlan Ash was again superb for Country, leading the ball-winning stakes with 30 and providing plenty of run, with his mates on the half-back line Brodie Kemp (20 disposals, 10 marks) and Hayden Young (18 disposals, seven marks) intercepting everything. Ash’s co-captain Serong was arguably best afield with 23 disposals and three goals with fantastic attack on the ball, joined with three goals by Martin but beaten out by Weightman’s four.

For the Allies, Mitch O’Neill was named best for his 26-disposal showing, while Green did a wealth of work on the inside to finish with 18 disposals (16 contested) and nine clearances in a more unheralded role. Tom Griffiths (21 disposals, three rebound 50s) collected plenty of it down back, with Will Martyn and Sam Thorne constants in the midfield with 16 disposals each, as Martyn also had five clearances on a tough day for his side.

ALLIES 0.2 | 0.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 (19)
VIC COUNTRY 4.1 | 9.2 | 12.4 | 18.8 (116)

GOALS
Allies: J. Barling, N. Cumberland.
Vic Country: C. Weightman 4, C. Serong 3, M. Martin 3, J. Rantall 2, L. Williams, R. Sparkes, C. Wild, J. Smith, N. Cahill, T. Dow.

BEST
Allies: M. O’Neill, N. Murray, T. Green, T. Griffiths, C. Budarick
Vic Country: C. Serong, B. Kemp, L. Ash, R. Baldi, H. Young, C. Weightman, J. Clark

NAB League Boys Round 10 preview – Changes continue amid national carnival

THE changes continue to roll on among NAB League sides in Round 10, with a week off from school football and national championship rotations allowing teams to replenish. While a few sides remain particularly weakened, others are more balanced and could shake up the ladder with big wins over more fancied rivals.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday June 8, 10:30am
Shepley Oval

Dandenong Stingrays will look to continue its unbeaten premiership defence when it opens Round 10 against the Northern Knights on home turf. Coming off a bye last week, this game will be one of the few occasions throughout the year where Dandenong will be at less than full strength – with Lachlan Williams‘ inclusion in the Vic Country squad making it five Dandenong representatives set to suit up against the Allies on Sunday. Mid-season draftee Mitch Riordan is another who comes out of the side, but the home side will be boosted by the inclusion of Bigoa Nyuon – set to line-up in the ruck. Their weekend opponents, the Knights, will also be boosted by the return of a couple of Victorian representatives in the form of Ryan Sturgess and Adam Carafa, while Nikolas Cox is another to slot straight back in due to a halt in the school football season. The inclusions are especially timely given the opposition, as well as an unfortunate injury to Ryan Gardner in last week’s loss. With Dandenong somewhat weakened, it will be interesting to see how some of their players adjust in different roles and with added responsibility, and Northern will be keen to pounce on an unlikely bounce-back victory.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday June 8, 11:30am
MARS Stadium

The Sandringham Dragons and Geelong Falcons open a MARS Stadium double-header on Saturday, with the Falcons looking to correct a three-game slide. They face stiff opposition in the form of Sandringham though, with the Dragons adjusting well without over half of their best 23 last week. On top of giving Andrew Courtney a rest after missing Metro selection this week, the Dragons are set to lose a further three guns in the form of Oscar Lewis, Jack Bell, and Corey Watts. With the Falcons regaining the likes of over-age pair Charlie Sprague and Sam Christensen, along with bottom-agers Charlie Lazzaro and Noah Gadsby amongst other school football inclusions, Geelong can have a real crack at picking up a second win for the year. The Falcons are not heavily impacted by Vic Country selection either with only two representatives, so have an obvious advantage in that department. As mentioned though, the Dragons are used to fielding depleted squads and have shown they are more than well enough equiped to deal with the outs. Only time will tell whether it will prove too much this week, but the second place side is always hard to tip against.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday June 8, 1:00pm
Morwell Football Ground

A spot back on the winners list is up for grabs for the Gippsland Power as they host a Western Jets outfit looking to make it three-consecutive wins. The Power went down to fellow top four fancies Sandringham last time out, largely on the back of having nine players suit up for Vic Country instead, as well as losing mid-season draftee Kyle Dunkley. A week to adjust to the wealth of changes may prove handy for the Power, who still managed to push Sandringham to within four goals. Western had no such troubles last week in a big win over Bendigo, and will in fact be strengthened by the return of Metro representative Josh Honey, as well as Emerson Jeka from injury and Will Kennedy from the Young Guns game. In a rare instance at this time of year, they are essentially a couple of players off being at full strength, which will more than bode well for them in this clash. The Power will have some shuffling to do with an extended bench named, but have the remaining talent to get up and consolidate their spot in the top four. It will be a tough ask against the flying Jets, and should be one of the closer contests of the round.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday June 8, 2:00pm
MARS Stadium

Contrasting form lines tell the story in the lead up to the clash between Greater Western Victoria and the Eastern Ranges, with the 6-2 visitors looking for a third-straight win, while the 2-6 Rebels look to snap a four-game losing run. The Ranges have been a surprise packet thus far in claiming a top four spot, and bounced back well from a loss to Gippsland two rounds ago. Despite a bright start they only had one Metro representative last week in Connor Downie, who comes back in for this game. The form of Mitch Mellis was too good to refuse though, so he and skipper James Ross will both suit up for Metro this week, but will be covered by the likes of Chayce Black, Riley Smith, and Jamieson Rossiter as key ins. Given the remaining strength of the Eastern side and its consistency, the Rebels face a mountain to climb in overcoming the Ranges. That will be somewhat compounded as Country selection calls for Toby Mahony, but Nick Stevens and Isaac Wareham are solid ins across half-back. The home ground advantage should suit GWV, so expect some fight from them in what will be a tough game.

CALDER CANNONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday June 8, 2:00pm
RAMS Arena

The Calder Cannons will be looking to rectify a 23-point Round 2 loss to Oakleigh when they face the Chargers for a second time this year to close out Saturday’s proceedings. Calder once again plays host at RAMS Arena with Warrawee Park unavailable, and will be in with a good chance of turning the previous result around. The Cannons come in on the back of two-straight wins, albeit over bottom ten sides, and have looked solid for their 5-4 record and seventh place. Meanwhile, sixth-place Oakleigh seems to be hitting its straps despite missing a host of stars, and will be buoyed by some great inclusions from school football and the Young Guns game. The likes of Joe Ayton-Delaney, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, and Will Phillips are all classy inclusions, and will provide some spark to the line-up. Calder has also benefitted with its ins, as over-agers Josh Kemp and Mason Fletcher return alongside bottom-ager Campbell Edwardes as the Cannons look to replace the spine usually filled by their Metro representatives. Form would suggest this may be one of the closer games of the round, and if their first meeting is anything to go by, game-winners will need to stand up in order to get the job done.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday June 9, 10:00am
UTAS Stadium

The Tasmania Devils and Murray Bushrangers are set to face off in their curtain raiser match for the Allies and Vic Country clash at UTAS Stadium in Sunday’s only game. The Devils have been competitive over their eight matches so far, going at an even 4-4 having beaten GWV last week. While they face an underperforming Murray side, and move to a positive record will be tough with the likes of leading prospect Mitch O’Neill and bottom-agers Oliver Davis and Sam Collins selected in the Allies team. With Murray already without the likes of Lachie Ash and Elijah Hollands, Cam Wild becomes another called up for Country duties, while Will Chandler is set to suit up for the Allies. One who missed out on Allies selection is over-ager Ben Kelly, who comes back into the Murray side alongside fellow Young Guns player, Zane Barzen. While the Bushrangers are still finding their feet on the back of their key outs, this will be one of the few times where Tasmania will be forced to cover losses on a bigger scale, so it will be a test of who can adjust better. Expect a good contest in the lead up to a showcase of elite Under 18 football.

Scouting notes: AFLU18 Championships – Vic Metro vs. Vic Country

A Victorian derby opened the 2019 Under 18 National Championships, with the Country side coming away with an upset 9.10 (64) to 7.9 (51) win over their Metro counterparts. We had five scouts cast eyes over all 46 players who graced the hallowed MCG turf, and here are their opinion-based notes on how each prospect fared.

Vic Country:

#1-10 by Craig Byrnes
#12-32 by Peter Williams
#34-40 by Ed Pascoe

#1 Ned Cahill

The nifty and clever Stingray’s small forward was arguably one of the most influential players on the ground, but did so with less fanfare than the likes of Young, Ash and Serong. He showcased the disciplined Vic Country standards early with a big tackle in the centre to earn a free kick and an unselfish goal assist to Smith in the first term to get things started. While he didn’t utilise two good chances to hit targets inside 50 when in space during the second term, he barely made another error for the rest of the day as his elite smarts and decision making took control. It was highlighted by two brilliantly read crumbs that he finished off superbly with dual snaps off his left in the second half. He also got the ball to Flanders inside 50 in the final term to end with a match high four score assists and two goals from his 16 disposals.

#2 Caleb Serong

The Vic Country co-captain set the early intensity level for his teammates with physical, two way football from the midfield in the first term. He made life as difficult as possible for the Vic Metro big names, earning a holding the ball free on Rowell in the opening stages of the match. He refused to give in until the ball was out of his area, highlighted by a multiple tackle effort in the second quarter on the wing that eventually won Country the ball back. He also made them accountable, winning first possession at the stoppages and running to dangerous ball winning positions. Serong’s trademark cleanliness stood out as usual, his hands sharp and precise in tight situations. While he uncharacteristically let some kicks hang longer than hoped, his ball use in general was very good. One of the best performers in the winner’s corner, finishing with 22 disposals, five clearances and seven tackles.

#3 Cody Weightman

The exciting small forward took time to get into the game with a quiet first half, but came to life in the third term to display his quality AFL attributes. His confidence got a boost when flying for a mark at half back and earning a free kick, which triggered a flurry of touches on the lead or in space forward of centre. He worked hard to get in offensive positions, but unfortunately let himself down with ball in hand, operating at only 30% by foot including some turnovers in dangerous rebounding positions. He produced some brilliance in between though, highlighted by an excellent contested mark on the lead in the third term, before turning and hitting Josh Smith inside 50. This guy has serious ability, looking forward to seeing what he can produce throughout the competition.

#4 Sam Flanders

It did not take long to recognise that Leigh Brown’s focus was about pressure and Sam Flanders made that intention clear from the start. The superb chase down of Ryan Sturgess in the first quarter that resulted in a goal made the belief real and potentially cemented the buy in from every player if it wasn’t already. His pressure at the contest was outstanding, finishing with a game high nine tackles, but he also continued his rich reign of ball winning form at Gippsland with 21 disposals. He had his usual stints forward, kicking a vital fourth quarter set shot goal to keep a comfortable margin. Can still tidy his kicking up, but it was an important contribution by the talented forward/mid.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi has been in outstanding since returning to the Gippsland fold from injury, collecting large disposal tallies at will with his nous at the stoppages. For Country he was part of later midfield rotations and still won plenty of footy, despite not producing his usually prolific contested and clearance numbers. He found most of his possessions on the outside by receiving on the outskirts of contests and running to space. Despite a poor handball turnover in the first quarter, he typically finished with composure as proven with a classy kick inside 50 to Smith shortly after. It was a solid outing for Baldi, ending with 19 possessions, of which 15 were uncontested.

#7 Mitch Martin

Playing a high percentage of minutes forward, Martin had a modest first half despite producing a nice moment in the second quarter where he weaved through traffic and placed a quick kick inside 50 to advantage. But it was in the third term when he became truly relevant, starting with a slick handball over his head to a teammate. From there, the ball began to follow him and he took advantage with a couple of threatening inside 50s. He almost kicked a ridiculous set shot goal from the corner of the boundary and 50 metre arc, but was touched on the line. He has some tricks and can sell some attractive candy. Martin got out the back for a goal in the final term to complete a creative second half.

#8 Thomson Dow

You could make a very strong case that Thomson Dow was the best player on the ground up to half-time. To that point he had collected 15 disposals, doing heavy work inside at the stoppages and finding space on the outside. He was particularly slick by hand, raising his arms and releasing with impressive vision. We didn’t see nearly as much of him in the third and fourth terms, managed only three disposals after the main break. Despite the quieter second half, what we did see is a player who is currently too far down many draft boards. The brother of Carlton’s Paddy can definitely play.

#10 Harrison Pepper

The Hawthorn NGA prospect took time to get into the contest from the wing, but got busy in the second quarter. He won a couple of excellent one on one ground balls, using his frame to advantage and got the ball forward on each occasion. His kicking and decision making was tentative at times, especially during the third term when he took a mark 30 metres out from goal and floated a short pass to the disadvantage of a teammate 15-20 metres away. He has worked extremely hard on his running capacity over the last 12 months or so and that has resulted in excellent on-field improvement. He will be better for the run at the standard.

#12 Lachlan Ash

One of the better Country players on the day, overcoming an early turnover to hit 13 of his remaining 14 kicks through some terrific vision. Not only was he able to hit targets all over the ground, but he took the game on and would have been one of the highest metres gained players. Ash showed poise and composure coming out of defence and pushing up the ground, particularly stepping up in the last quarter with the game on the line and Metro pushing hard. He was able to set up goal opportunities to Josh Smith and Ned Cahill, and opened up the game with terrific in-board kicks.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was one of the more consistent Country midfielders and worked hard through the inside. He is able to get his hands free from would-be tacklers, and started to get moving more in the middle of the game. He laid some important tackles and was able to get quick-fire handballs out to teammates such as Riley Baldi in the first term with a nice handball, and then snap round his body for a goal assist to Charlie Comben. He then set up a second goal late in the game to Rebels’ teammate Mitch Martin. Had a chance himself in the third quarter after pushing hard to the forward pocket but was thrown off it. An impressive game once again.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Gave a four quarter effort and was constantly on the move. His kicking in the first term was a little shaky, but once he worked into the game he had a bigger impact on the game. His final quarter saw him remarkably win a one-on-one contest against the much stronger and taller Noah Anderson with good body position, and won his fair share of the ball in the second half when Country needed players to stand up.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Was an intercept machine who took the game on out of defence and often was spotted bursting out from half-back and down the middle. He won a free kick early against Charlie Dean, and saved a number of goals, including one in the first term, rushing it through. His kicking was a worry at times, making a number of errors when he was running off half-back. His strengths were his overhead marking and his one-on-one work, marking against the much taller Nick Bryan through good positioning. A courageous grab against Jack Mahony where both players committed was another highlight in the final term.

#17 Hayden Young

The best on ground running defender was absolutely elite in his ball use with his kicking out of defence, penetrating long kicks and intercept marking a delight. Young was a real headache for the Metro side, getting to the point where he was spinning out of trouble and hitting up targets in the middle of the ground with his non-preferred right foot. He rarely made errors with his disposal and apart from a clumsy high free kick to Dylan Williams, had a near perfect game. Just so dominant and a key to Country’s chances this year.

#18 Brady Rowles

Not a huge disposal winner, with just the nine touches for the game, but has some nice eye-catching moments. He is able to dispose of the ball under pressure, whilst applying defensive pressure himself to opposition players. He has great hands in tight which were on show when he fed the handball out to Jay Rantall to set up a goal from Charlie Comben in the first term.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Not overly impactful offensively, but defensively he was very good. His tackling pressure locked up a number of balls throughout the game, and he was able to get his hands free when tackles late in the game. He missed a shot on goal tight in the pocket on the run in the second term, but his big highlight was a massive hardball get in the final term, using hands to give it to Lachlan Ash in the middle and set up a scoring opportunity.

#20 Elijah Hollands

So exciting and not only does he have the offensive capabilities, but works hard defensively as well, laying a number of huge tackles in the forward half. Hollands has lightning hands in congestion and is able to win the hardball and quickly dish off to a teammate before being dispossessed. He had a huge highlight in the second term with an unbelievable goal out of nothing from a forward stoppage, roving Charlie Comben and booting the goal from just inside 50 close to the boundary line.

#24 Brock Smith

A quiet game from the Gippsland Power game, but won a free kick one-on-one against Dylan Williams in the third term, and was composed with ball in hand, mostly handballing to teammates to run out in space.

#26 Jesse Clark

A statless first term, but Clark really work into the game after quarter time, taking a number of good marks and rebounding out of the defensive half. He showed a good second effort when taking a mark, was smothered and then won it back. He positioned himself well in front of his opponents when one-on-one.

#32 Ben Worme

Just the three touches from Worme in a quiet game. He did rush a behind late in the game when under pressure which was clever.

#34 Bigoa Nyoun

Nyoun played a solid game rotating in the ruck, he did well to get involved around the ground taking multiple marks and often choosing to hand off to a running teammate. There was a good bit of play in the first quarter despite not taking the mark he would recover well to take the ball cleanly and give off a handball, his last half was strongest with a nice pass inside 50 and a nice intercept mark and quick pass inside 50. A very good contributor who competed well in the ruck and did some good things around the ground.

#36 Sam De Koning

De Koning was a strong interceptor in defence taking four nice intercept marks with one coming in the first quarter deep in defence and another really strong mark late in the game, De Koning was very clean throughout the game never fumbling and using the ball well by hand especially in one bit if play in the second quarter where he would pick out a long 15 metre handball under pressure and it was a feat in itself to even find the option from where he was at. De Koning was the standout tall defender for Country with his good marking and ball use.

#39 Josh Smith

Smith was the most dangerous forward early on kicking two first quarter goals; one from an uncontested mark 10 metres out and a holding free kick deep in the pocket where he would slot a nice goal, he could have kicked three goals after a nice lead up mark but would miss the set shot. His third goal would be his best taking the ball in mid air right on the line and kicking a great goal quickly dropping the ball on his boot. He did not hit the scoreboard in the second half but he took a great contested mark against Ryan Sturgess but would miss the set shot, he also rotated in the ruck at times and competed well taking a nice intercept mark in defence.

#40 Charlie Comben

Comben had a hard task rucking against the in form ruck this year in Nick Bryan, but Comben not only competed well all day, but really showed good aggression and enthusiasm throughout the match to win the battle. He had a great bit of play in the first quarter taking a strong mark deep in the forwardline and then quickly playing on and kicking a goal. Comben worked even harder in the second quarter taking a strong intercept mark and quickly playing on with a kick inboard and he did well late in the game with a good strong tackle inside 50 winning a free kick but missing the set shot on the siren. A high energy game from Comben who showed of his athletic attributes and aggression around the ground.

 

Vic Metro:

#1-19 by Michael Alvaro
#20-26 by Scott Dougan
#29-40 by Ed Pascoe

#1 Jack Mahony

It was workman-like display from Mahony, who played a key role in the heavy Metro midfield/forward rotation. Starting inside 50, Mahony looked most effective when working up the ground – using his admirable work rate to create distance from his opponent and find the ball in space. He is clean at ground level, and showed as much with a few nice gathers early on and clean clearances later, while his kicking also looked more on point in the first half. The Sandringham gun’s leadership was also on display with audible talk around traffic, and he put his body on the line in a bone-crunching contest going back with the flight in the third term. Supplied Dragons teammate Finn Maginness with a goal in the final quarter to cap off a solid 15-disposal day.

#5 Trent Bianco

While the Oakleigh leader did not always look his usual damaging self, Bianco still had some nice moments. Was very quiet in the opening term and struggled to get any kind of running game going early off half-back, which in all fairness had a lot to do with Country’s manic pressure. Bianco was unlucky not to find more of the ball as he positioned well when breaking from stoppages and ran to the right places to receive on the outside, but was hardly found. Showed off his typical kicking penetration with a nice ball going inside 50 and flicked out some nice deft handballs in the clinches to show his class in the second and third terms. Bianco seemed to be most effective with his overlap runs late on, and put in a good push to get Metro back in the game with efficient use across defensive 50.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa managed to get a run in the stacked Metro midfield, but spent most of his time at half forward having already proven his ability to compete at either end. By no means had a massive disposal output (13), but the Northern midfielder showcased his clean set of hands at ground level when called upon and was all class in traffic. Had about four attempts on goal throughout the match – with two snaps and a set shot falling short, while another went out on the full – so could have otherwise had a greater influence. Ended up spending some time off half back in the second half, and looks to be one who will be called upon in multiple roles throughout the carnival.

#11 Matt Rowell

The list of superlatives to describe Rowell is running thin at this point on the back of yet another dominant outing. While his midfield partnership with close mate Noah Anderson could not quite drag Metro over the line, the two were simply outstanding. Rowell’s balanced game was on show as the Chargers gun went about pressuring his opposition without the ball, while also breaking away from traffic with it. Rowell did not find the goals while resting forward, but he still managed to snare a major from the goalsquare in the third term after creating forward movement from an inside 50 stoppage. He also sparked the move for Finn Maginness’ goal with a burst away from congestion on defensive wing – a play which was largely symbolic of his whole performance. A somewhat underrated aspect of Rowell’s game is his strong overhead marking, but he again showed his ability to prize the ball in the air with some courageous attempts. The comparisons to Joel Selwood will likely continue to roll on too, with pictures of Rowell bloodied up on the bench shown on the big screen. A big-time performer – 28 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s, and one goal.

#13 Daniel Mott

Mott started brightly and looked like taking the chance he was afforded at the centre bounces to full effect. The classy Calder ball-user showed off a good bit of vision to find Jack Mahony back through the corridor early on, and was in the thick of the action. While Mott’s output slowed as the game progressed, he would catch the eye with glimpses of his usual self – side-stepping well in the second term, booting well inside 50 from a clearance to find Josh Worrell, and flicking out a deft handball to Trent Bianco amid oncoming traffic. Was another to rest forward but looks to be an effective point of difference to Metro’s largely inside midfield.

#15 Louis Butler

Butler made the half-back flank his own, and was the designated Metro kicker out of defence – both with kick-ins and further afield. Usually a penetrating and reliable kick, Butler was uncharacteristically let down by that area of his game on occasion with four noticeable clangers across the day. Much like in the case of Trent Bianco, Butler also struggled at times to generate effective run in the face of Country’s pressure, but you could not fault his effort as he racked up 24 disposals and seven rebound 50s. Showed positive signs early with his composure on the last line of defence, and he took a nice pair of intercept marks. Butler also had a purple patch in the final term as he delivered well through the corridor on two occasions with kicks more typical of his class, and he was one to take the game on when his side needed it. Had a humorous moment in the third term where he looked to have been tripped up by the goal umpire, stiff.

#16 Darcy Cassar

Cassar diverted back to the role which helped him come to the fore in his NAB League debut as a 16-year-old – making a menace of himself at half-forward. The Keilor product made a terrific start, finding Western teammate Josh Honey with a neat kick inside 50 to help Metro put the first goal on the board. Donning the #16 of Jets graduate Cam Rayner, Cassar sharked a smart read off hands and finished well on they dribble in an effort the now-Brisbane gun would be proud of. Cassar also showed a zippy first five steps through traffic, and was clean in gathering tricky balls at ground level. Was eventually moved to the defensive position he has become used to for Western this season, but had an indifferent start when he lost direct opponent Sam Flanders and could only watch as the Country star converted a crucial goal. Was otherwise composed in the back half and looked most effective when given space. Would love to see more of him up forward.

#18 Lachie Potter

It was a pretty typical Lachie Potter game, with the speedy Northern half-back looking to cause headaches with damaging forward run. Is hardly a massive accumulator, with the 15-disposal mark he hit usually a marker for one of his better games. Potter’s impact is not calculated by pure numbers though, and he caught the eye with repeated take-ons and some impressive overhead marks which added to his game. Was matched up as the deepest defender as Country looked to thwart his influence, but Potter still found a way to get on his mazey runs. Is often let down by his end product though – especially at full speed – but tended to handball more and was more effective as a result. Had an unfortunate fumble inside defensive 50 when a bounce didn’t quite come back to him, and is still ironing out those mistakes in his game.

#19 Josh Honey

Honey looked like returning to his best form when he converted the first goal of the game from a set shot, but tended to fade out the game after that point. Still showed some glimpses of his class with a couple of nice one-on-one wins, and an eye-catching spin out of trouble with two Country opponents close-by. Led well up the ground from half-forward and has shown he has plenty of upside.

#20 Connor Downie

Downie played predominately on the wing and did his best to provide some run and carry. He did not win much of the ball but when he did, he was able to put his penetrating left foot to good use. Downie finished with nine disposals and four marks. Still a bottom-ager which is rare for a Metro side, Downie will be better for the experience.

#21 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith played through the midfield and caught the eye in the first quarter when he won an important one-on-one contest by bringing the ball to ground and winning possession. He would then drive the ball inside 50 to the advantage of his teammates. His footy smarts were also on display in the second quarter when he decided it would be best to ‘soccer kick’ a ground ball to teammate Jack Mahony, which was effective.

#22 Miles Bergman

Bergman won a few touches early and laid a couple of good tackles. One of his best passages of play came in the second term when he took a really good contested grab against two others that somehow, wasn’t paid by the field umpire. Bergman had a very promising second half, winning a lot of the ball and booting a brilliant snap-goal in the final seconds of the match. He had a very good all-around game and did all the little things extremely well. Bergman had 16 disposals, four marks, and three tackles.

#23 Dylan Williams

Williams was quiet early but slowly worked his way into the game in the second quarter. He had two shots on goal within minutes, but both failed to register a score. Williams went off half-way through the term after coping a big knock and looked very sore. He would return shortly after, but he was still clearly struggling. He would spend a lot of the time on the bench in the second half. Williams has the potential to turn games instantly, and that’s what makes him such a dangerous player, especially in the forward half.

#24 Noah Anderson

The potential number one pick was instantly involved, laying the first tackle of the game and would then win the first clearance. His hands in tight were superb. Anderson won 14 disposals in the first half and was prolific around stoppages. In the second term, he would win a centre clearance with one of his arms being held, showcasing his strength in the contest and fantastic hand-eye coordination. Anderson’s defensive work was also fantastic, laying eight tackles for the match. His work-rate and competitiveness were why he was one of the standout performers for Metro.

#25 Finn Maginness

Maginness was one of his teams’ best midfielders, winning 15 possessions and five clearances on the day. His impact defensively in the first half was eye-catching, and he finished with a game-high nine tackles. He was exceptionally clean at ground level and his foot skills were noticeable. Maginness demonstrated composure with ball in hand and his vision was impressive, with the classy midfielder finding a teammate out of the corner of his eye in the third term. He would hit the scoreboard late in the fourth term when he ran into an open goal after running hard into space.

#26 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess had his work cut out for him, along with a lot of the Metro’s defenders on the day. His marking ability and strong hands definitely stood out, taking five marks. His ball use by foot was sometimes questionable, but he never stopped trying and battled on throughout the match. Sturgess read the play well and his defensive spoiling was encouraging.

#29 Fischer McAsey

McAsey was a wall in defence all day taking intercept marks at will and showing good composure and skill with the ball coming from defence. He would kick a goal in the third quarter after taking a strong intercept mark on the wing and winning a 50 metre penalty, he showed a good set shot routine showing he could also make a good forward especially with his marking ability. He was near unstoppable in the last quarter taking three strong intercept marks and moving the ball on quickly usually favouring a switch kick. McAsey is making an early case as the best key defender in the 2019 draft.

#30 Harrison Jones

Jones played forward and kicked his only goal in the first quarter from a lead up mark showing a good set shot routine, Jones lead up well as a tall target all day despite being very light he still worked hard to be a target. He did some really nice things in the last quarter showing unselfishness to block for teammate Maginess to run into open goal and continuing to take lead up marks and picking the ball up nice at ground level showing his athleticism.

#31 Josh Worrell

Worrell started well taking a good intercept mark in the first quarter and quickly playing on with a long kick, his hands overhead and ground level were a feature and he had a nice spin out of trouble showing his mobility. He was sore after a collision in the 3rd quarter but would go forward in the last quarter and take a nice strong mark on the lead although missing the long shot at goal, he would later take more nice marks showing his versatility in playing at either end.

#34 Charlie Dean

Dean had a tough day at the office playing well but not getting the reward, Dean looked composed and clean early showing good composure tight on the boundary in the first quarter to release a handball and had a fantastic pick up and then good handball. Dean had two chances to hit the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter taking a strong contested mark against De Koning but would miss the set shot and later on would show good composure under pressure but just miss the goal in general play. Dean was involved in the last quarter laying a good smother and taking a lead up mark and delivering a beautiful low pass inside 50 to teammate Ralphsmith who would kick the final goal of the game.

#37 Andrew Courtney

Courtney was the ruck rotation from the bench and he competed well when he got the chance winning a few nice hitouts. Courtney didn’t get a lot of the ball but worked hard to get forward of centre a few times to get involved and link up with teammates.

#38 Brodie Newman

Newman despite a shaky start really worked into the game to be on of Metro’s better players playing in defence, had a poor contest early not manning the mark well enough for Comben to run into open goal but his work in defence for the next 3 quarters was outstanding intercepting at will at times especially his second quarter where he was heavily involved defending and attacking equally well. Had a good bit of play in the third quarter laying a good spoil on Josh Smith and then would gather the ball and show good composure under pressure, he had another good play in the last quarter going for a dash and showing his good speed for his size.

#40 Nick Bryan

Bryan did not have an absolute standout game but he was still able to show his talent and why he is highly regarded as a ruckman in this years draft. Bryan showed good agility, smarts and ball use with ball in hand which was certainly above average for a ruckman and his best bit of play came in the third quarter laying a good spoil then receiving a handball and handballing well himself and then getting the ball back again to lower his eyes with a lovely kick to Oakleigh teammate Matt Rowell, it was a great chain that showed of his ball use and smarts. His tap work was also good timing his jumps well and often competing well.

Country upstages Metro to open national carnival with a win

VIC Country has upstaged its highly fancied Victorian rivals, defeating Vic Metro with maniac pressure and four quarter consistency. While Metro started strongly and had a patch early in the second term, it was mostly a game that belonged to Country with the defensive work of the back six, and elite kicking from Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash ensuring that the Country came away with the 9.10 (64) to 7.9 (51) win. Gippsland Power’s Josh Smith booted three first half goals, while Ned Cahill managed two, while Metro had seven individual goalkickers for the game, as Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson were the losing side’s best.

After Country started with all the attacking, it was Josh Honey who slotted the first major courtesy of a perfect pass inside 50 from Western Jets’ teammate, Darcy Cassar. Rowell and Anderson were going head-to-head with Sam Flanders and Thomson Dow in the midfield, with the latter getting the job done. Young was clearly the standout player on the ground in the first term, racking up 10 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and three rebounds, with Josh Smith capitalising in the quarter with two majors, while fellow Gippsland Power tall Charlie Comben also made life difficult for the undersized Brodie Newman, booting a third Country goal. Metro was still on top though having converted majors through Harrison Jones and Cassar. Serong and Dow finished the term with eight touches and three clearances each, while for Metro, Cassar and Sandringham Dragons’ Jack Mahony were working hard for a team-high five touches.

The second term saw Country take control, capitalising on a couple of Metro misses to boot the only the two goals of the term. Cody Weightman and Fraser Phillips missed opportunities, but it was Elijah Hollands who conjured something out of nothing from just inside 50 to boot a terrific goal roving Comben. When Josh Smith booted his third for the game, Country were on top. Despite the best efforts of Anderson (10 disposals in quarter two) and Rowell (nine disposals) who took over the leading ball winners for the Metro side, it was country who would head in 12 points ahead after Comben missed a chance after the siren to go in further in front. Dow had the most that term for Country with seven touches to lead everyone on the field with 15 at the break, while Young, Ash and Jay Rantall all headed into half-time with 14 disposals each.

Metro made the start they needed early in the third term with Fischer McAsey booting a goal in the opening few minutes to gut the deficit to six points. Moments later, a nice quick ball movement starting with Rowell on the defensive side of the wing ended with Lachlan Potter hitting up Mahony having a set shot which unfortunately for him drifted to the left and fell short for country to regroup. It did not take long for the dominance of Anderson – who surpassed 20 touches midway through the term – and Rowell to start paying dividends. Rowell himself managed to get on the end of one, snapping a goal from point-blank range. With all the momentum in Metro’s favour, it took a terrific crumbing goal from Cahill who dribbled it home to put Country back in front. Mitch Martin then put in a terrific effort from the boundary but was touched on the line, but Country’s forward pressure forced a turnover and Comben found Sam Flanders, but also missed the chance, hitting the post. Both sides were making errors going forward under the pressure. Young’s kicking was a delight with a perfect non-preferred side kick in-board which led to another chance for Country but Weightman’s snap just missed. Weightman quickly made up for the miss with a great kick inside 50 to Smith who like his Power teammate Flanders, hit the post. While Metro dominated the term early, the recovery by Country in the second half had them nine points up at the final break, with narrow misses potentially damaging for the Country side.

The first goal in the final term was vital, and it was a team effort from Country who found the major through Flanders. The work from midfield seeing Ash find a target inside 50 of Cahill, before the Dandenong Stingrays talent hit-up Flanders who made no mistake. Just as it looked like Country would be taking control, a nice play from Metro set up a running Finn Maginness who made no mistake from point-blank. The next eight minutes was all Country with many inside 50s as Fischer McAsey did his best with some huge intercept grabs, but the overwhelming run of Country was telling as Rantall set up a goal to Mitch Martin who stretched the lead to 14 points with 12 minutes left. When Cahill read the stoppage play perfectly, he ran through a couple of players, grabbed a one-touch ball and kicked quickly off the boot to put it straight through the middle for his second. Country now led by 20 points with just nine and a half minutes left in the game. Flanders had a chance to put the icing on the cake with just over five minutes remaining but it missed to the left and Metro had the slightest of chances. But for every Metro forward foray, the Country side had answers with Brodie Kemp, Sam De Koning, Young and Ash holding up perfectly. Hugo Ralphsmith booted a late goal with 10 seconds remaining, but it was just a consolation goal with Country victorious over their state rivals.

Young finished the game as best on ground with 29 disposals, seven marks – two contested, seven rebounds and two inside 50s, while Serong was terrific in midfield with 22 disposals, two marks, five clearances, four inside 50s and seven tackles. Ash, Flanders and Rantall all had 21 disposals win the win, while Kemp held up in defence with Young, recoding six rebounds to go with his 16 disposals and four marks. For Metro, Rowell had 28 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while partner-in-crime Anderson had 25 touches, five marks, eight tackles and five clearances. Louis Butler (24 touches) found plenty of the ball, while Newman and McAsey were strong in defence, taking 13 marks between them.

VIC METRO 3.2 | 3.4 | 5.6 | 7.9 (51)
VIC COUNTRY 3.1 | 5.4 | 6.9 | 9.10 (64)

GOALS:

Metro: Honey, Cassar, Jones, Rowell, Ralphsmith, McAsey, Maginness.
Country: J. Smith 3, N. Cahill 2, C. Comben, E. Hollands, Flanders, M. Martin.

ADC BEST:

Metro: N. Anderson, M Rowell, F. McAsey, F. Maginness, B. Newman, J. Worrell
Country: H. Young, C. Serong, L. Ash, N. Cahill, J. Rantall, J. Smith