Tag: Fischer McAsey

Classic Contests: Dragons break Bendigo hearts despite inaccuracy

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Bendigo Pioneers and Sandringham Dragons. In this edition, we wind back the clock just over a year to when the two sides played out a heart-stopper in Echuca.

2019 NAB League, Round 8
Saturday May 18, 1:00pm
Victoria Park, Echuca

BENDIGO PIONEERS 4.0 | 6.0 | 10.1 | 12.2 (74)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 4.10 | 6.12 | 10.18 (78)

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Dick-O’Flaherty 3, J. Treacy 3, R. Clarke 2, J. Evans, K. Attwell, J. Schischka, Z. Murley.
Sandringham:
J. Florent 2, E. Soylemez 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, T. Spencer, J. Bell, M. Bergman.

BEST:

Bendigo: W. Wallace, J. Treacy, J. Evans, J. Ginnivan, W. Shaw, R. Wilson
Sandringham:
C. Watts, M. Bergman, A. Hanrahan, R. Byrnes, J. Voss, J. Bell

Draftees in action:

Bendigo: Nil.
Sandringham:
Miles Bergman, Ryan Byrnes, Jack Bell

Road trips in the NAB League competition are often long and arduous, but a win can see those types of feelings dissipate in an instant. That was exactly the case for Sandringham as the Dragons travelled to Echuca to take on Bendigo in last year’s competition, looking to make up for a loss to Eastern in their previous outing. The visitors sat fourth at 4-2 after a 3-0 start, and Bendigo had endured a similar run having failed to build on its 2-0 start.

Both sides would be missing key personnel too, with Bendigo particularly impacted by the absence of Brodie Kemp and Thomson Dow, while Sandringham would have to battle without the likes of Finn Maginness, Jack Mahony and Fischer McAsey among others. It meant the Dragons would boast the only three eventual draftees to take the field; Miles Bergman, Ryan Byrnes, and Jack Bell.

The impact of the APS football season seemed to even the two sides up, while also providing a great opportunity to some bottom-age stars to shine. The greatest margin of the match would reach only a little over three goals either way, with Bendigo’s incredible accuracy, and Sandringham’s lack of keeping the contest tight. With 28 scoring shots (10.18) to Bendigo’s 14 (12.2), the Dragons only just snuck over the line by four points.

A Josh Treacy major at 59 seconds into the final term had Bendigo looking good for the win, until Sandringham slowly bridged the gap and was eventually put in front by Riley Bowman with 10 minutes left to play. James Schischka‘s goal with over three minutes remaining gave the hosts some hope of reclaiming the lead, but they would fall just short in the end.

Defenders earned best-afield honours for both sides, with Corey Watts (12 disposals, three marks) and Will Wallace (15 disposals, three marks, six rebound 50s) recognised for their efforts. Treacy’s three goals were important to Bendigo’s cause, as were Riley Wilson‘s team-high 23 disposals. Byrnes unsurprisingly led all comers with 31 touches and a goal, followed by Angus Hanrahan on 26, while Bergman booted 1.5 from his 19 disposals and five marks.

The Dragons would go on to finish fourth come the end of the regular season, and couldn’t quite improve on it during finals as they were bundled out handily by eventual premier, Oakleigh in the preliminary finals. Bendigo ended up in 11th with five wins and 10 losses, before being dumped out in Wildcard Round by Northern.

As should always be the case though, the true success of each region would have been defined by their respective hauls of draftees. Sandringham produced nine players good enough to land on an AFL list in 2019, while Bendigo ended up with four moving on into the elite system.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 8: Serong thrives in the Danger zone

18 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, with many of them enjoying their moments in the sun. There was plenty to take out of Round 8 for the class of 2019, as a bunch of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level and are continuing to stamp their mark on the competition. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
STATS: 22 disposals, 2 marks, 7 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 337 metres gained, 1 goal

A few weeks back we saw Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield enter training to the backdrop of Kenny Loggins’ 1986 tune, Danger Zone. Clearly unawed, Caleb Serong showed on Monday that he does not care for such pomposity, nor wilt to the challenge of shutting out one of the game’s elites. The heart-and-soul midfielder was superb amid horrendous conditions, tasked with following the 2016 Brownlow Medalist, and keeping him to 18 disposals. While he competed with the Cats champ both physically and in the air, Serong also found 22 touches of his own and thrived on the tough stuff to lay seven tackles. To cap off a breakout display, the Gippsland Power graduate slotted home a pin-point goal on his left side to drag Fremantle past what would have been a record low score. He will undoubtedly be in line for a Rising Star nomination this week, and it is no wonder Dockers fans have quickly warmed to him.

Ned Cahill (Essendon)
7 disposals, 4 contested possessions, 1 mark, 5 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 2 goals

You would have already seen the cliched Cahill comparison after Essendon’s Ned soccered home his first league goal on the weekend, and the youngster’s two second half snags proved vital in the Bombers’ narrow win over Adelaide. The small forward’s stats may not flatter, but the energy he brings to what has previously been a stagnant Essendon lineup is noticeable. Cahill played his role to a tee in his second outing, popping up to hit the scoreboard and looking lively deep inside attacking 50.

Brad Close (Geelong)
14 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 6 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 1 goal

The mature-age recruit was another small forward to have posed plenty of threats on the weekend, and joined the first goal club in Geelong’s rain-effected win over Fremantle. Despite the conditions, Close was able to find space inside attacking 50 and got his debut off to the perfect start with a well hit set shot conversion. The Glenelg product was one of the Cats’ most menacing forward options, constantly getting to the drop of the ball and getting involved in his side’s attacking forays. Add four tackles to the mix, and it was a pretty well-rounded maiden outing in the long-sleeved number 45 jumper.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
10 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 score involvement

It was another lacklustre performance from the Hawks overall, but Day continues to show glimpses of his enormous upside nonetheless. Stationed in the defensive half for most of the match, Day seemed to read the play well and chimed in with some important intercept possessions. His marking overhead was sound, and he also provided a safe outlet under pressure on the rebound. While some turnovers (four) crept into his game in the face of the Swans’ ground level pressure, Day has already shown he is a capable user by foot. He seems a safe bet to remain in the Hawthorn lineup as the kids start to get an extended run.

Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
7 disposals, 7 contested possessions, 100% DE, 3 marks (2 contested), 3 inside 50s, 5 score involvements, 1 goal assist, 1 goal

Back in the side in a big way, Georgiades continues to justify the faith shown in him after Port Adelaide used a first round pick to secure his services. The West Australian only stands at 192cm, but makes up the difference with a terrific vertical leap and pace on the lead. His hands were strong upon presentation on the weekend, clunking two contested marks as he provided a key link into attacking 50 for the Power. While his ability to create and get involved in attacking passages made him a solid part of his side’s structure, Georgiades crucially got on the board himself with a goal in the second term.

Others in action:

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Will Hamill (Adelaide)
Mitch Hibberd (Essendon)
Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Josh Morris (Hawthorn)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Dylan Stephens (Sydney)
Elijah Taylor (Sydney)
Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 14 – Chargers, Power cut gap to Ranges

A SATURDAY double-header at Box Hill City Oval held massive finals ramifications in last year’s NAB League competition, kicking off Round 14 in style. Gippsland Power had Oakleigh to thank as the Chargers knocked off ladder leader, Eastern, seeing the two sides close within a game of top spot. Elsewhere, Sandringham kept pace with the leading pack after a thrilling win over Dandenong, while Northern and Calder got the better of their Country opponents, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) knocked off Geelong. Western Jets enjoyed the bye.

Gippsland and the Tasmania Devils were first to take the field for the weekend, doing battle on neutral territory on Saturday morning. Having fallen just behind at the first break and jolted two goals ahead heading into the last, the second-placed Power found a spark when it mattered to leave Tasmania in their wake. A six-goal final term saw the Victorians coast to a 51-point victory, not indicative of the overall contest, but a sign of their irresistible form in full flight.

Twin talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben contributed three goals each to the win, with skipper Brock Smith also booting a rare couple of majors from defence to go with 26 touches. Sam Flanders was the leading disposal getter on the day with 28, while fellow draftee Leo Connolly managed 23. Rhyan Mansell and Oliver Davis found the most ball for Tasmania en route to 18 disposals apiece, as the likes of Matt McGuinness (16 disposals, one goal) and Sam Collins (15, one) also fared well.

In the day’s later game, Oakleigh pegged back Eastern’s first quarter jump to get over the line by eight points in what would prove a Grand Final preview. The Chargers took toll in the two terms they held a wind advantage, booting 10 of their 12 goals in the second and fourth quarters to secure a massive result. While they regained the lead with under 20 minutes to play, the Ranges simply could not stop Oakleigh’s onslaught.

A forward from either side put four goals on the board, with Oakleigh 19-year-old Cooper Sharman, and Eastern’s Jordan Jaworski playing their parts. Port draftee Dylan Williams again proved a hero up forward with two important goals from eight touches in his final game for the year, with his co-captain Trent Bianco (34 disposals) the leading ball winner. Cricketing ace Wil Parker was Eastern’s best with 26 touches, while Oakleigh bottom-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Will Phillips also found plenty of the ball with 22 disposals each.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, and Sandringham was made to work for a seven-point win over Dandenong on home turf. After setting up an early lead and holding the ascendancy for the entire match, it seemed the Dragons would coast home to victory at 29 points to the good come the final break. But the Stingrays would not take the loss lying down, piling on five goals in the final 10 minutes to give the scoreless Sandringham an almighty scare.

Future Adelaide top 10 pick Fischer McAsey proved his swingman value in returning a three-goal effort, also dominating the airways with 10 marks. Ashton Williamson booted three majors for Dandenong, as Hayden Young managed two from his team-high 25 disposals. Angus Hanrahan led all comers with 35 disposals and a goal, while the likes of Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals) and Sam De Koning (16) stood strong against good opposition on either side.

Calder’s Bendigo road trip proved a fruitful one, as the Cannons raided the Pioneers’ territory to snatch all four premiership points. Bendigo held a slight advantage early, but could not quite do enough to match Calder’s constant scoreboard pressure. A four-goal to one second term in favour of Calder proved the defining period of play, with Bendigo matching their opponent otherwise in the 20-point defeat.

Diminutive Calder forward Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals, while teammate and leading ball winner Harrison Minton-Connell notched two from his 34 touches in a day out, and Essendon draftee Harrison Jones also found the goals twice. Bottom-ager Jack Ginnivan repeated the feat for Bendigo alongside Will Wallace, while Ben Worme and Noah Walsh also hit the scoreboard from their team-high 20 disposals each. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (28 disposals, one goal) continued his hot form, and Sydney recruit Brady Rowles was kept to 12 touches.

Another Metro team to make the most of its road trip was Northern, who travelled to Shepparton to take on Murray. All of the damage was done in a 10-goal to three opening half from the Knights, as the home side struggled to claw its way back into the contest. The final margin sat at 27 points having gotten out to 44 in the third term, as Northern picked up its seventh victory.

A massive outing from small forward Josh D’Intinosante saw him bag six majors from 18 disposals in a sharp display inside forward 50, with leading target Liam McMahon booting three of his own. Skipper Justin Davies saw the most ball for Northern with 26 disposals alongside Sunny Brazier, with Carlton draftee Sam Philp managing 25. Murray’s co-captains stood up too, with Dylan Clarke (28 disposals) leading all comers, while number four pick Lachlan Ash kicked two goals from his 24. 16-year-old Josh Rachele also showcased his talent with two majors.

The GWV Rebels ensured they would continue the trend of away sides picking up wins, as they comfortably accounted for Geelong to the tune of 35 points. Like many of the Round 14 winners, GWV got off to an ideal start at Kardinia Park on the back of four goals to nil in the opening term. An inaccurate Falcons outfit spurned chances to get back into the match with 2.7 in the third term, as GWV kicked away with another four majors in the last to cruise to victory.

Collingwood slider Jay Rantall was among a quartet of Rebels to claim multiple goals, booting two alongside Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin, while Nick Caris managed a game-high four. 19-year-old Charlie Sprague added another three majors to his season tally for Geelong, while bottom-ager Noah Gribble had 28 disposals to lead all comers, and skipper Jesse Clark managed 25 in the losing effort.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 4: Green shoots appear for GWS gun

13 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. There were a total of four debutants from last year’s cohort in Round 4, with others either holding their spots or returning to the line-up.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

STATS: 18 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 72% disposal efficiency, 2 marks, 7 clearances, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal

In a low-disposal game, Green was among the GIANTS’ top five ball winners as they snuck home to a thrilling win over Collingwood on home turf. Thrust straight back into the midfield fold, the GWS Academy graduate looked at home in his second AFL outing, getting stuck straight in with the tough stuff to notch 12 contested possessions and seven clearances. Last year’s number 10 draft pick was also able to boot his first goal at the elite level, and an important one at that given the final score.

Louis Butler (Western Bulldogs)

14 disposals (11 kicks), 2 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 4 score involvements

A Thursday night debut saw Butler collect 14 disposals in his usual defensive role, slotting in well across half-back and generating some decent forward momentum. While he kicked well below his usual rate at 21 per cent efficiency, the Sandringham Dragons product put the ball in dangerous areas, breaching either arc five times and having a hand in four score involvements as the Bulldogs downed Sydney.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)

10 disposals, 9 contested possessions, 3 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 4 score involvements

After serving an avoidable suspension, Pickett returned to the Demons’ fold and was one of his side’s more lively forward 50 options. He was often Melbourne’s most dangerous outlet at the fall of the ball, wreaking havoc with his ability to hit the contest at full pace and extract, while also doing all the right things defensively. He may have hit five turnovers and could not quite find the goals, but you knew something was about to happen when Pickett neared the ball, and he brings a different dimension to the Melbourne team.

Matt Rowell (Gold Coast SUNS)

20 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 7 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 2 goals

Rowell may finally have been knocked off his ‘Star of the Round‘ perch, but still put in a performance worthy of the honour in his fourth AFL appearance. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate clicked over the 20 disposal mark once again and added another two goals to his haul, while proving a key cog in the SUNS’ engine room operations. Not many draftees have been able to match the grunt work of Rowell, who continues to put up fantastic tackle and clearance numbers to prove his two-way relevance.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

15 disposals (12 kicks), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s, 1 goal assist

Having kept his spot in the 0-4 Fremantle side, Young repaid the faith this week with arguably his best performance in three games at the elite level. Stationed in his usual half-back post, the 19-year-old provided a great glimpse of his damaging left-foot kick with a spearing goal assist pass as he cut through the corridor, while also contributing seven rebound 50s. As he adjusts to the pace and pressure of the AFL, Young has been able to better showcase his offensive game and join in the play going both ways.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)
Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)

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

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

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

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

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

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

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

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

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

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

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

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

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

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

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

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

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

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

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

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

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

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

Classic Contests: Dragons blow Devils away on the road

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 12 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Sandringham Dragons and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock almost a year to late-2019, when the two sides met for the first time since Tasmania’s full-time induction into the competition.

2019 NAB League, Round 15
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park, Launceston

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.4 (28)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 6.8 | 11.10 | 13.15 (93)

Goals:

Tasmania: O. Sanders, L. Gadomski, J. Chaplin, J. Callow.
Sandringham:
A. Hanrahan 3, K. Yorke 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, J. Bowey, J. Bell, B. O’Leary, J. Mifsud, M. Bergman.

Best:

Tasmania: L. Viney, J. Callow, O. Davis, S. Collins, R. Mansell, M. McGuinness
Sandringham:
A. Hanrahan, R. Bowman, J. Bell, R. Byrnes, D. Chirgwin, M. Bergman

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matt McGuinness
Sandringham:
 Ryan Byrnes, Miles Bergman, Jack Bell

Not much more than pride was up for grabs as Sandringham travelled down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in Launceston, with the fate of the two sides all but already sealed. The Dragons were gunning for a top three spot to avoid Wildcard Round, while Tasmania was simply battling for position having fallen to 13th spot.

Neither side was in particularly outstanding form either, with Sandringham coming in having won in its previous outing against Dandenong, but the Dragons had lost three straight games before that and five of their last six overall to sit 8-5 in fourth. The Devils were 4-11 on the back of a five-game losing run, which would end up stretching to seven by season’s end.

Of significance were also the absentees for both teams, too, with Sandringham missing a raft of eventual draftees and combine invitees, including the likes of top 30 picks Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, and Josh Worrell. Mitch O’Neill was the biggest name missing for Tasmania, one of its two 2019 draftees, but the Devils maintained their four 2020 AFL Academy prospects in the side.

Keen to flex their superiority and gain some winning form on the eve of finals, the Dragons took control from the get-go with six scoring shots to one in the opening term helping them to a 15-point lead at the first break. They would extend it to 31 points by half time, again restricting Tasmania to just one major while piling on another three of their own.

Having got the jump, Sandringham well-and-truly put the result beyond doubt with a game-high five goals in the third term, and a couple more in the closing stanza for good measure as the Devils could only again manage a goal per the final two terms. The final margin sat at 65 points in favour of the travelling side, marking Sandringham’s third win by over 10 goals at that point in the season.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan had a day out, leading all comers for goals (three) and disposals (33), with St Kilda draftee Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal) another to find both the ball and the goals. Matt McGuinness was Tasmania’s leading ball winner with 26 touches, while of the other draftees afield, Miles Bergman booted 1.2 from his 19 disposals, and Jack Bell also booted a major in his forward/ruck duties.

Despite boasting one of the more stacked Under 18 squads of recent times, Sandringham fell short of the top three and its premiership dream as injuries and some bad luck took toll, finishing fourth at 9-6 and losing to eventual premier, Oakleigh in the preliminary finals. Tasmania would end up losing seven-straight games to finish the season at 4-11 in 14th, but gave Calder a scare in Wildcard Round as the Devils went down by a single goal.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 2: Rowell and Anderson light up Metricon

SEVEN draftees from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend and we take a look at how they performed. From a Gold Coast trio who dominated to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

STATS: 26 disposals, 1 mark, 2 goals, 7 tackles, 1 goal assist, 3 inside 50s, 5 clearances, 2 clangers, 6 rebounds, 171 SuperCoach

Whilst the Round 2 Rising Star nomination is announced later today, there is no doubt that last year’s number one pick will earn the honour. Rowell was best on ground in a sublime performance as the Suns stunned the 2018 premiers, West Coast Eagles in what could be not only a season-defining match, but a franchise-defining one as well. The Suns have long been the whipping boys of the competition, but there would be 17 sides who have now put the perennial cellar dwellers on notice, and Rowell is one of the huge reasons why the Suns looked like a serious threat to some of the big sides. It is only the one game, but boy was it a game to remember as Rowell racked up 171 SuperCoach points which is unheard of for a player in his second game, winning plenty of touches around the ground, but most importantly booting two goals and becoming damaging up both ends.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

19 disposals, 5 marks, 1 goal, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 clearances, 7 clangers, 2 rebounds, 75 SuperCoach

He might have been overshadowed by Rowell’s unbelievable performance, but Anderson still played a huge part in Gold Coast’s win. He booted his first AFL goal in the second quarter after finding space, and was able to win his own fair share of the ball on the outside and get his teammates involved. He might have had a number of clangers, but his work rate was high and his strength overhead was on show, taking five marks from 19 touches on the night.

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

16 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 clangers, 4 rebounds, 62 SuperCoach

The Suns had a trifecta when it came to highest disposal winners of the seven players from last year’s draft to be playing on the weekend. Much like Anderson, Budarick might not have had the same praise as Rowell, but he did well in the back half for 16 touches, five marks, three tackles and four rebounds. He will likely fly under the radar, but his dare and ball use in most cases is terrific and he will provide the Suns with much needed class this year.

Trent Rivers (Melbourne)

12 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 goal assist, 1 inside 50, 1 clearance, 2 clangers, 2 rebounds, 62 SuperCoach

The East Fremantle product was impressive on debut in what was an up-and-down contest for the Demons. He laid a couple of great tackles and found his own ball playing across the ground. Rivers set up a goal and also got back to help out the defence at times, dipping his toes across multiple statistical areas and giving Dees fans a glimpse of why he was selected. With very few deficiencies, Rivers is just a consistent player and will be one to watch this season.

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

6 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 clanger, 2 rebounds, 52 SuperCoach

Playing his second game after earning a spot in the Round 1 side, McAsey did what he could in a team that was under siege for the most part. Whilst a number of leaders were down on their performance for the Crows, McAsey held up with six touches, two marks, four tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds in a really respectable performance. For a key defender coming into the league and playing immediately, McAsey is living up to expectations of a top 10 selection.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

11 disposals, 1 mark, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 clanger, 1 rebound, 41 SuperCoach

A late call-up for the Dockers, the former Dandenong Stingrays skipper was far from making up the numbers on debut with a solid performance in Fremantle’s tight loss to Brisbane. He reached double-figure disposals and laid a few tackles in his first AFL match, showing he has plenty to offer at the level. With more minutes and extra time in the side, Young will be a fantastic addition to the Fremantle outfit.

Luke Jackson (Melbourne)

7 disposals, 1 mark, 1 behind, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 1 clanger, 30 SuperCoach

The debutant joined his East Fremantle and West Australian Under 18s teammate in Rivers for the Demons’ clash with Carlton. Playing forward with Max Gawn dominating in the ruck, Jackson had the seven touches and one behind on debut. Melbourne was strong early, but the going was tough late, and whilst it is hard to squeeze into the Dees side with the strength of key position players, Jackson showed signs he will be a long term player, he just needs time.

Q&A: Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Northern Knights’ Nikolas Cox at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The 199cm utility showed a wealth of promise in his bottom-age year, playing on the wing and as a key position outlet up either end of the ground. Like many of his Knights teammates, the modern-day footballing prototype is a terrific runner and uses it to play into his versatility. Having already turned out for Vic Metro and been selected in last year’s Under 17 Future Stars showcase game, Cox enters his top-age year looking to cement a spot across centre half-back while shouldering the Northern co-captaincy alongside Ewan Macpherson.

MA: How’s the day been for you?

NC: “It’s been good. Obviously it’s a pretty long day, lots of stuff happens but it’s a good day to have every single region come in (and) spend some time together. “It’s good to see everyone, it’s been a bit challenging but good.”

You’re lauded for your athleticism as a taller athlete, have you been able to show that in these tests?

“Yeah I think so, for sure. Things like the vertical jump, off both feet I think that’s one of my strengths. “But I’m looking forward to the yo-yo, hopefully I can do well in that with endurance probably being one of my biggest strengths. So yeah, hopefully I do well in that.”

You’ve played on a wing and up either end, are you looking to nail down just one position this year?

“Obviously you love to have some versatility, you want to be able to play different roles for the team or whatever’s necessary. But I think I’ll be playing a lot of back this year, trying to get some continuity in a certain spot, really nail that position and get all that craft good. So hopefully I’ll nail down some back and then if I need I’ll push up to the wing or go down forward and I still want to keep that skillset, to have that available.”

It must’ve been great to be around the Metro squad last year and even this year, how’s that been for you?

“Yeah it’s good, you learn so much in that environment. I mean, some real superstars like Matt Rowell, I spent a lot of time with Fischer McAsey down back and doing a lot of craft with him. Even this year we’ve got a really humble group at Metro and I think we can do some exciting things, hopefully I can stay in that group. But yeah, I’ve learned so much – most of my craft work, lots of little things – it’s been really good, really beneficial for me.”

What are some of those things you’re still looking to develop at the moment?

“A lot of body positioning work. “Obviously I need to work on my strength, so just trying to work around ways that I can build that up and just little techniques that can help me get an advantage on stronger opposition.”

Are there any goals for the year or landmarks you want to hit?

“I just want to get deeper into finals with this team (Northern). “Obviously cut short last year against Western which was devastating so hopefully we can get a better run and get deeper into finals, get some real form at the end of the year.”

Do you think that with a few of the top-age boys that you’ll be able to push for that?

“Yeah for sure. “We’ve got really strong bottom-agers coming through too, a really good running group – 2km time trials showed with boys nearly breaking six minutes – so I think we’re going to have a pretty strong group going forward this year. “A good contribution from 19 (year-olds), top-agers, and bottom-agers so really looking forward to it.”

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 1 – Future Blues light up Ikon Park

A SPIRITED comeback from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels was not enough to see them topple the Dandenong Stingrays in the opening round of the 2019 season. The Stingrays led by as much as 36 points at the 15-minute mark of the third term, before the Rebels bolted home to boot eight of the last 12 goals to get within eight points with eight minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the home side, they could only manage back-to-back behinds on the day.

Captain and top prospect, Hayden Young had 15 disposals, five marks, four tackles and seven rebounds in the Stingrays’ win, while the talented Cody Weightman had 12 disposals, two tackles, three inside 50s and a goal. It was Lachlan Williams in defence who was instrumental with 23 disposals and 11 rebounds, as bottom-age talent Clayton Gay had a big game across the ground, picking up 20 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals. Future draftees, Bigoa Nyuon (seven disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, four inside 50s and two goals) and Ned Cahill (nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) had an impact, and Sam De Koning (six disposals, three hitouts, one rebound) also played in the match. Mitchell Riordan also started his overage year positively – though he would only be at the club for another month and a half before heading north – picking up 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s.

A former Australian basketballer by the name of Jay Rantall made his debut for the GWV Rebels, picking up 24 touches and having five clearances in a strong performance through the midfield group. Cooper Craig-Peters led the way with 30 disposals (16 contested), 10 tackles, 10 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, while Mitch Martin (24 disposals, four clearances, seven inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Matty Lloyd (26 disposals, nine marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three goals) also impressed despite the loss.

The next day, Murray Bushrangers and Gippsland Power engaged in an equally tough tussle at Rams Arena, where Will Chandler had the ball in the dying seconds, but was just a touch too far out to score as the Bushrangers went down by three points. The Bushrangers had been in front by that margin at quarter time and half-time against the title-contending Power team, and even led by as much as five points at the final break. But the only goal of the final term went to the Power in what was a struggle between two top defences in the 10.9 (69) to 8.12 (66) defeat.

Kyle Dunkley made onlookers check twice when they saw the former Oakleigh Chargers forward dominating through the midfield for Gippsland on his way to 21 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and three goals in what would prove to be one of only a handful of outings at NAB League level, switching RAMS Arena for Etihad Stadium. Without Caleb Serong, it was Sam Flanders who brought the highlights, picking up 19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s, while Ryan Sparkes had the most touches with 26 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and eight rebounds. Charlie Comben returned for a modest three touches, two marks and 11 hitouts, while other future draftees who played in the game included Brock Smith (18 disposals, four marks and four rebounds), Harrison Pepper (13 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Leo Connolly (10 disposals, two marks) and Fraser Phillips (five disposals, two marks and one goal).

It was no surprise to see future GIANT, Lachlan Ash having a big day out for Murray with 24 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while the midfield duo of Dylan Clarke (24 touches, five marks, four tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s) and Cameron Wild (22 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds) were productive. Co-captain Cameron Wilson slotted three goals in a big game up forward with 21 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s, while bottom-age talent Elijah Hollands showed off his class with 15 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and a goal.

At RSEA Park, premiership contenders Sandringham Dragons made an early statement on the competition with a big win over Calder. The Dragons had a host of draftable prospects heading into the year and destroyed Calder Cannons by 109 points. It was the likes of future Saint, Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and future Hawk, Finn Maginness (23 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, six clearances and a goal) who shone. Louis Butler (22 disposals) and Miles Bergman (16) both had strong games, as top 10 pick Fischer McAsey had two rebounds from 14 disposals and five marks in what was a pretty comfortable day to be a Dragons defender. Instead it was Charlie Dean‘s five goals that stole the show. For the Cannons, future draftees Sam Ramsay (23 disposals, three marks and a goal) and Harrison Jones (12 disposals, three marks and six hitouts) both played, while Tye Browning and Daniel Mott did all they could sharing in 24 disposals each, with Mott also having four clearances and six inside 50s.

A full-strength Oakleigh Chargers also had an impressive win in the first match of the season against a far-from-disgraced Eastern Ranges outfit. Top two picks, Matt Rowell (21 touches, five tackles, four clearances and one goal) and Noah Anderson (26 disposals, five marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and four goals) were the best, as Joe Ayton-Delaney picked up a game-high 32 touches as well as nine clearances, four inside 50s and five rebounds. The likes of future draftees, Trent Bianco (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three clearances) and Dylan Williams (19 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) were also prominent. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan made his Oakleigh debut but was quiet with four touches and two marks, though fellow bottom-age prospect Will Phillips was solid with 17 disposals and five tackles. Future draftees Nick Bryan (10 disposals, 18 hitouts) and Lachlan Johnson (11 touches, five tackles) also played in the match. For Eastern, soon-to-be-listed Swans player, Cody Hirst had 20 touches, five clearances and three inside 50s in the loss, as bottom-age talent Connor Downie was strong alongside top-age hopefuls Zakery Pretty and Mitch Mellis.

Bendigo Pioneers also opened their season off on the right foot courtesy of a big 43-point win over Geelong Falcons. Future Cat, Cooper Stephens did all he could for the Falcons in the loss, picking up 22 touches, three marks, three tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, working hard with Jesse Clark (24 disposals, seven marks and four rebounds). For the Pioneers, Thomson Dow quickly asserted himself on the competition with two goals from 28 disposals, eight marks, three clearances and three inside 50s, while fellow first round selection Brodie Kemp had 22 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. The Pioneers’ other draftee in the match was Brady Rowles who helped himself to 15 touches, two clearances and two rebounds.

In the final game of the round, Western Jets got up in a thrilling come-from-behind seven-point victory over Northern Knights at Ikon Park. They teams traded blows throughout the match and the Knights led by 18 points at the final break, but a high-scoring last term saw the Jets pile on six goals to two to run over the top of Northern in the end. Future Blue, Josh Honey lit up his future home training ground with 22 touches, six marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and a goal, while future Hawk, Emerson Jeka booted a goal from 14 touches, six marks and four inside 50s. If Honey being Western’s best at Carlton’s home was not freaky enough, Sam Philp – one of Carlton’s first round draft picks – stamped his authority with 22 disposals, nine tackles, nine clearances, three inside 50s and a goal for the Knights. Josh D’Intinosante and Ryan Sturgess booted two goals apiece from 20 touches, while competition leading goalkicker, Archi Manton snagged three majors on his way to that title.

Debutants earn spots in unprecedented times

WITH only senior leagues running this weekend at the elite level for men’s and women’s, we run through the AFL Round 1 debutants who after toiling away in the state leagues, waiting a few years at club land or impressing so much in an off-season to earn a spot, will run out for their respective teams and live out their dreams. We will add Sunday’s games once the team lists are confirmed.

Western Bulldogs: Ben Cavarra

The mature-age nuggety midfielder-forward has one of the most fascinating journeys to the big time after going through the pathways and being a poster boy for never giving up. Regarded as one of the hardest workers going around, the former Eastern Ranges’ premiership captain and then Frankston and Williamstown star at state level, Cavarra has been made to really earn his chance at the top level. It almost came last year but an injury setback ruled that out, instead playing 12 VFL games where he booted 19 goals. It followed on from some promising seasons where he reinvented himself as a forward having always been a reliable ball-winning midfielder. Possessing some elite athletic traits, Cavarra will show the AFL world that if you are good enough, you are tall enough when he runs out tonight at Marvel Stadium.

Collingwood: Tyler Brown

In another feel-good story for tonight’s game amongst all the despair in the world, Gavin Brown‘s second son Tyler will join his brother Callum out on Marvel Stadium for his debut. The former Eastern Ranges’ midfielder has that Pendlebury-like time and space and while still raw, he has that touch of class about him that will no doubt show over time. Brown is in his third season with the club and has put on six kilograms since his Under-18 year, where he weighed up 71kg. Still on the lighter side, Brown is a comfortable 188cm and his scope identified as a teenager is starting to come to the fore. More importantly, he showed during the Marsh Series that he is capable of winning the ball which was the question mark on him at junior level, because he rarely wastes a disposal. A long-term prospect but one who has earnt his spot.

Fremantle: Sam Sturt

The bolter from the 2018 National AFL Draft is ready to debut for Fremantle and those in draft circles will remember his rise from performing at school footy to really having an impact for the Dandenong Stingrays in the run home to the TAC Cup premiership. He is an elite athlete across the board with a ridiculous vertical jump. He was always going to need time to develop given he had not spent a lot of time in an elite program and was still raw, but now 12 months down he has done enough for the Dockers to give him a chance. Rewind to 2018, and remember Sturt lit up in big games, booting 11 goals in six games and was a dead-eye when it came to set shots. If he gets to control the airways, look out.

Adelaide: Fischer McAsey

An All-Australian key position defender and a more than capable forward for the Dragons at times, McAsey was identified as a player who could fill the Crows’ void of key position players. Having lost Jake Lever and Alex Keath in back-to-back years, McAsey will play in that back 50 and looks to have been given the responsibility of holding down centre half-back. In his debut game, he could face another top 10 pick in Nick Blakey who showed in glimpses what he was capable of on his debut year last year, and it sets up a tantalising match-up. His reading of the play and overhead marking is a strength, able to clunk grabs that few his age can.

GWS: Tom Green

An absolute bull at the contest, it comes as a shock to no-one that the New South Wales prospect is lining up for last year’s grand finalists in Round 1. Showing he would arguably get a gig in any AFL side from the get-go, he is an absolute star when it comes to ball-winning and clearance work. Green has been touted as the next Patrick Cripps, and while that is high praise, it is easy to see why. Last year he amassed 33.0 disposals and 10.3 clearances across four games in the NAB League for the GIANTS Academy, then produced it again through the Under-18 National Championships with a carnival average of 23.8 disposals and 8.0 clearances, as well as averaging more than four tackles across both competitions. A fantasy lock for those who enjoy playing SuperCoach or AFL Fantasy.

Gold Coast: Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Connor Budarick

The SUNS’ rebuild looks set to add a trio of talented players with last year’s top two picks and an Academy talent making their debuts in Round 1. Oakleigh Chargers’ premiership players Anderson and Rowell will no doubt be key inclusions through the midfield, with Anderson also likely to impact up forward. Budarick was a free get by the SUNS and an absolute steal at that, with the small utility able to play anywhere on the ground. In the clash against Port Adelaide, Budarick could take on former Western Jets’ talent Zak Butters who was another with an impressive debut season last year.

In 2019, Rowell averaged a whopping 31.7 disposals, 4.1 marks, 8.6 tackles, 8.3 clearances, 4.4 inside 50s, 1.7 rebounds and won the Chargers’ best and fairest, his second consecutive best on ground medal in the NAB League Grand Final, and made the All-Australian team. Anderson oozes X-factor and impact as the taller player who can roam through the midfield or provide a leading target inside 50. He averaged two goals a game from seven matches last year with the Chargers, also racking up 28.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3.6 tackles, 4.7 clearances, 4.0 inside 50s and 1.4 rebounds in a remarkable season where he too made All-Australian. Budarick was the best player in the Division 2 Academy Series captaining the Gold Coast SUNS on his way to 25.2 disposals, 6.2 marks, 8.2 tackles, 5.8 inside 50s and 2.2 rebounds in the NAB League. He is a tackling machine who earned a spot in the back pocket of the All-Australian team last year, and that is where he has been named in his debut game. Watch for his skill and tenacity.

Port Adelaide: Mitch Georgiades

A high-flying talent who missed all of 2019 with a quad injury, Georgiades is one of the surprise Round 1 bolters. He impressed over the pre-season for the Power, and from his bottom-age year back in 2018, showed off his talent with some aerial tricks. On his way to 10.3 disposals, 3.5 marks and almost a goal per game at the Under-18 Championships, Georgiades also stood out in the Colts competition with 13. disposals, 5.8 marks and 1.3 goals per game. What he offers is an unmatched aerial ability that will no doubt see him compete for the highlight reel each and every week. While he might not have had the match fitness last season, his ability to come straight into the program and already influence the coaches enough with his performance to get a gig is saying something.

St Kilda: Max King

The 200cm-plus key position forward finally makes his debut after missing the majority of his top-age year through an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and then just as he looked to debut last year, injured his ankle and missed out on his chance. That chance has now come after a confident Marsh Series where his ability to fly high, burst away from opponents and do things that players his size should simply not be able to do. The hype is high on the former Sandringham Dragons’ forward, but it is also real, having clocked a sub-three second 20m sprint at testing and booting eight goals against eventual grand finalists, Oakleigh in the first round of the season. No doubt Saints fans will be watching him more than any other player with his ability to break open a game.

Melbourne: Toby Bedford, Kysaiah Pickett

The Dees have announced two debutants for their Round 1 side, with Luke Jackson named on the extended bench but set to just miss out on selection. The two into the side are first round pick, Pickett and a member of Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy from the 2018 AFL National Draft, Bedford. Both have class, skill, speed and pressure and are sub-180cm but will add a forward pressure to the Demons side and ensure the ball is retained inside forward 50. In his top-age year in 2018, Bedford was a tackling machine at NAB League level, laying 5.2 tackles from 136. possessions whilst averaging almost a goal a game. Playing more of a pressure role up the field for Vic Country, Bedford had 6.8 tackles from 12.3 disposals at the Under-18 National Championships. Pickett was a highlight-reel forward with great pressure on the ball-carrier and despite standing at 170cm, earned a place in the League side for Woodville-West Torrens. While he only played the two games, he laid six tackles and ran at 50 per cent contested showing he was not afraid of bigger bodies. For South Australia, he booted a couple of goals from 13.7 disposals and 2.7 tackles at the championships.