Tag: fantastic five

AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition

WITH this year’s AFL Draft less than a month away, the rumour mill has been in full swing as supporters turn their attention from trade period, to draft period. There is some early general consensus already, mostly pertaining to where prospects are ranked, but not necessarily where they may end up come draft time. In our November 2020 edition of AFL Draft Whispers, Draft Central takes a look at some of the key factors which may shape the top 10, as well as some of the queries pertaining to academy and father-son bids among the most compromised intake in history.

With pick one, Adelaide has selected…

Starting at the top, it is thought by many that the race for pick one honours has been narrowed down to two players. Given Adelaide boasts the first selection, local talent Riley Thilthorpe has been put forward as a safe choice, though Logan McDonald is marginally considered the better talent. Both are key forwards with senior state league experience this year who the Crows will be able to form their rebuild around. The ‘go home factor’ is a slight some Crows fans may have against McDonald, who is from Western Australia, though a local bias has hardly presented at the Crows previously and the 18-year-old seems to have no qualms about shifting interstate.

The other factor in this discussion is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, the consensus best prospect in this year’s pool who is tied to the Western Bulldogs. Adelaide could keep the Dogs accountable by bidding with pick one, but may seek to market their ties to the top selection by simply taking a player they can actually access. Elijah Hollands is another in contention, a midfielder with plenty of x-factor who is coming off a long-term knee injury and actually supports the Crows.

‘The fantastic five’

It is well known that along with McDonald and Thilthorpe, three other top-end prospects have formed a breakaway group which clubs are jostling to gain access to. Aside from Ugle-Hagan, who will find his way to the Western Bulldogs regardless of where a bid is placed, Hollands, Will Phillips, and Denver Grainger-Barras are the players who join the two aforementioned key forwards in this exclusive group.

Hollands, who suffered a serious knee injury during preseason, was touted as a potential challenger to the number one spot, and looks likely to be North Melbourne’s favoured pick. He is a tall midfielder/forward with serious game-winning attributes which include athleticism and scoreboard impact. Sydney’s top five pick is likely to come down to one of Phillips or Grainger-Barras, with interest in an inside midfielder growing, rather than the taller options. That of course brings Phillips to the fore, a 180cm ball winner who cut his teeth alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in Oakleigh’s 2019 premiership side.

What will Gold Coast look for with pick five?

The Suns were one of the big improvers in 2020, thanks in no small part to their top-end draftees who managed to make an immediate impact at senior level. With pick five, they have the chance to bring in another talent who may do the same next year. It seems the Queensland-based outfit will look to prioritise another midfielder, and Phillips would be the obvious choice as arguably the best pure ball winner available. Though, with growing talk that he may already be taken by the time Gold Coast gets on the clock, Geelong Falcons product Tanner Bruhn could be their man. He was Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018 and despite repeat injury setbacks, has shown his class through midfield when fully fit. Gold Coast is also able to pre-list Academy member Alex Davies, a tall clearance winner, but may look towards balance in acquiring the hard-running, 183cm Bruhn.

Will Essendon trade into the top two?

Though the Bombers have done well to secure the services of Peter Wright at little cost, the key forward slot remains an area which depth is desperately needed. Essendon currently holds picks 7-9 and could become the first team since the expansion era to utilise three top 10 picks in one draft. It would make for a hell of a story, though Adrian Dodoro will inevitably look to squeeze even greater value out of that significant hand.

With a wealth of high-level talls available at the pointy end of the draft, the Bombers may look to package a combination of their current top 10 picks to move up the order and gain access to one of those elite key position forwards. For example, North Melbourne may be a team of interest as they are in need of as much fresh talent as possible. Thus, the Roos could send pick two to Essendon in exchange for two of those top 10’ers in order to maximise their hand. It will unlikely be that simple, but that kind of thinking is perhaps what Essendon will have to do to obtain the likes of McDonald or Thilthorpe, who could become pillar key forwards in future.

Will Thilthorpe slide to Adelaide’s pick nine?

Plenty of talk has surrounded the proposed two-horse race pertaining Adelaide’s pick one (see above), but what happens to Thilthorpe should the Crows favour McDonald? Depending on the final order of the top 10, the South Australian may end up as this year’s slider despite being considered a top five or six talent. Essendon could be a potential suitor, though are said to have eyes on a certain other prospect in moving up the board, while the likes of North Melbourne, Sydney, and Gold Coast may look towards the midfielders available. Thus, Thilthorpe could slowly slip back to the Crows at pick nine, which would be a massive result for last year’s bottom side. A long shot, yes, but possible.

Will clubs take all of their Academy/father-son talents available?

In short, no. With cuts to list sizes, it just is not feasible for many clubs with rich academy cohorts to take every talent available to them this year. We saw with Brisbane in 2019 that if another club is interested in their homegrown products and the price is too high, they simply will not match the bid.

That may be the case for Brisbane once again, while Adelaide is another team of interest this year. The Crows have access to Tariek Newchurch and James Borlase through the NGA system, while Luke Edwards is a potential father-son choice. The latter is said to be weighing up whether to nominate for the open draft, and Adelaide’s current top-ended draft hand suggests it is only considering taking two of the three players.

Fremantle will look to secure NGA talents Joel Western and Brandon Walker. After the Dockers’ pick 12, they only have picks 32, 55, and a couple in triple figures to match any potential bids, so might get a little busy before their picks are locked in. Otherwise, they may prioritise one over the other. Collingwood is in a tricky spot too, with Reef McInnes attracting some added attention after his draft combine exploits. The bid will have to be fair on the Magpies’ end, and ideally after their current picks 14 and 16.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

FINALS are underway or upon us in the various leagues and there is no sweeter feeling than an underdog winning, or a top side doing what it does best. Our memorable moments from the weekend have a distinct finals flavour.

Top TAC Cup sides impress

Anyone at Avalon Airport Oval on Sunday witnessed a genuine premiership contender strut its stuff as Oakleigh Chargers dismantled a highly talented Sandringham Dragons outfit in a nine-goal victory. They just need a win over the bottom four Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels sides to lock up a week off and a top four spot. Meanwhile, both Dandenong Stingrays and Gippsland Power did just that with wins to secure top two spots ahead of the TAC Cup finals series.

Hawks and Cats to fight for second

Hawthorn and Geelong cemented their top four spots in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition last weekend with respective victories, and in the process, the Hawks put Northern Territory (NT) Thunder to the mercy of the final round, with the Thunder having a bye, and the winner of the Hawks and Cats to snatch second place to face Collingwood for a spot in the VFLW Grand Final. Collingwood has locked up top spot and faces Casey Demons in the final round.

Subiaco’s stunning finals run continues

In a four-team finals race, you do not see fourth often reach the grand final. But over in the Western Australian Women’s Football League (WAWFL), that is exactly what happened. After toppling reigning premiers Swan Districts last week, fourth placed Subiaco went in as heavy underdogs against Peel Thunderbirds, a side which had spent a large portion of time on the top of the table. Despite the odds, the Lions showed they were up for the fight, recording a 21-point victory.

Salisbury sends Morphettville Park packing

Finals are a different ball game and unfortunately for Morphettville Park, they found that out the hard way, with the minor premiers bundled out of the South Australian Women’s Football League (SAWFL) flag race, going down to the in-form Salisbury. The underdogs now head into the grand final against Adelaide University for the premiership in what should be a thrilling contest which will see both teams confident they can win.

Dees, Pies break finals droughts

It has been a long time coming, but for Collingwood, and in particular Melbourne, fans it was a huge relief when both sides guaranteed finals action. The Magpies are now in the box seat for a double chance with a win over Fremantle, while the Demons can secure a home final if they defeat GWS GIANTS. There is the potential for four Melbourne finals in the first weekend, meaning plenty of crowds and a buzz around the city.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

THRILLERS, young stars taking clutch moments, and firing up the second chance saloon, there was plenty to like about the weekend of football.

Greatest AFL round of all time?

That was the question being posed by the end of Saturday night, with an unprecedented round of thrillers. Five of the six games to date had been decided by less than a goal – something that had never occurred before in the league. It showed how tight it was at the top, with only the Saints, Blues, Suns and Dockers being blown away by their respective opponents.

Falcons flying high in the big league

It does not matter how you play throughout a game if you can stand up and make it count when called upon to do so. For Geelong pair James Worpel and Tom McCartin, they stood up and delivered when it mattered most. Worpel had the 16 touches and booted what would be the match winning goal in the dying minutes. For McCartin it started off as what looked to be a quiet night, not touching it in the first half and being part of a forward set-up that unleashed Buddy Franklin with six goals. But with the time ticking down and the Swans trailing by a few points, McCartin stepped up, getting his ball to boot somehow while lying on the ground and bouncing through, handing Sydney a season-defining win.

Modern day Falcons click into gear

Whilst the Geelong Falcons’ alumni were getting it done on the big stage, the 2018 batch was making it happen against Bendigo Pioneers up at Queen Elizabeth Oval. Restricting the Pioneers to just two goals for the game, the Falcons found plenty of avenues to goal – something they had struggled with at times – as Brayden Ham booted five goals from 20 touches and Sam Walsh was his usual self, racking up 33 disposals in a best on ground effort.

Thriller at Warrawee

If we talk about the exciting AFL games, it would be remiss not to mention the Gippsland-Oakleigh game at Warrawee Park in challenging conditions. Seemingly down and out at three quarter time, the Power picked themselves off the canvas and ran over the top of a determined Oakleigh side by five points courtesy of a five goals to two last quarter. Remarkably the final nail in the coffin would come from a Noah Gown goal coverted straight in front from a 50m penalty. If that was not enough, in the dying seconds, Noah Answerth grabbed the ball 70m out and just roosted it towards goal, bouncing through. The only problem? The siren had sounded before he had disposed of it, handing Gippsland the win in the tightest of circumstances.

Over-agers remain viable options

In a world where AFL clubs are not afraid to look outside the box and 19 year-olds are being looked at more and more in the TAC Cup, there were a few top performances from overagers this weekend. We already mentioned Brayden Ham’s five goals, but Mitch Podhajski just continues to get it done, with 35 touches and four goals in a superb effort for the Cannons. Kai Owens (36 disposals) and Noah Answerth (15 disposals and 12 tackles) were others who impressed for their respective sides.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

THERE was no TAC Cup or TAC Cup Girls football on the weekend, but the AFLW and JLT Community Series played out their penultimate and final rounds respectively. Here are five moments which made the weekend memorable.

Jack Watts’ six goals against Adelaide

There are few players in the AFL who have come under as much scrutiny as former number one draft pick, Jack Watts. After starting to show signs of finally reaching his potential over the last couple of years, Watts gave Port Adelaide fans a glimpse of what he could offer them in season 2018, bagging a career-high six straight goals. Yes, it was only the pre-season and there have been plenty of pre-season performers who have failed to go on to dominate – Jesse White booted five goals against Geelong in his first match in the black and white – but nonetheless, Watts was a player who needed a confidence boost in his new colours and his new fans could not be happier with his output.

GWS Women’s topping the Western Bulldogs to keep their GF chance alive

GWS did not have the season they would have liked last year with injuries galore and less homegrown talent growing organically in the state compared to football-centric hubs of Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. That has all changed in 2018 with competitive efforts throughout the year, and now the Giants are in the thick of the action for a grand final berth. If they win the final game, they’ll will face either the Western Bulldogs (again) or Melbourne in the grand final. Their efforts against the ladder-leading Bulldogs were superb and there is plenty to like about the way the GWS Giants women go about it. That was obvious from their really strong showing against Melbourne at Casey Fields in round one.

Carlton’s youth coming through

While the Blues are one of a few teams opposition fans love to hate, it is hard not to get excited about the youth coming through the club. Coming into their 23rd season since winning the 1995 flag, Carlton fans are desperate to see improvement after a forgettable past 15 years. Now they can see the likes of Caleb Marchbank, Charlie Curnow, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Harry McKay, Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien and of course, Patrick Cripps all starting to create a really formidable young group who are bound to improve over the next few seasons. Sure, they might not be premiership contenders this season, but with Brendon Bolton at the helm, and a belief that seems to grow stronger each day, expect the Blues to be a team to watch over the coming years.

TAC Cup Testing Day

From the stars of today to the stars of tomorrow, the TAC Cup boys and girls all were tested on the weekend for the 2018 TAC Cup Testing Day at Maribyrnong College. More than 600 players were put through a series of tests conducted by Rookie Me, from the 20m sprint to the AFL Agility Test, the yo-yo test (boys) and the 2km time trial (girls) to the vertical leaps. In front of plenty of friends, family and AFL and AFLW recruiters, the potential next big things in the elite league got to show off their athletic ability in what was a successful day. In particular the athletes deserved massive applause with outdoor temperatures reaching up to 37 degrees (according to some weather apps) towards the end of the day.

Collingwood Women’s toppling the Lions with only pride on the line

Similar to last season, Collingwood’s best football has come when the ball game is done and dusted. But with a huge win over Melbourne, a competitive six-point loss over the Western Bulldogs and now a good win over Brisbane, the black and white women have shown they can match it with anyone on their day. Much like the AFL side, the AFLW side has not escaped scrutiny this season, but with some really talented youth prospects coming through and much better ball movement and willingness to create run, the Magpies have been as good as any side the last three weeks and reigning premiers Adelaide must be sweating a little coming into the final round.