Tag: fraser kelly

Green striving for “attainable” goal with greater chance at high-level football

AFTER a 2020 season that “wasn’t as planned”, top-age GWS GIANTS Academy talent Josh Green was determined to have a greater crack at the AFL Draft after more chances to play high-level football. Selected in the Allies’ squad for the upcoming AFL Under 19 Championships, 2021, Green has not quite got his wish with the Canberra-based talent having to endure more uncertainty and delays this year. However, it is just as important to have got out to play alongside friends in the Academy.

“Got plenty of mates here in the GIANTS Academy, especially from Canberra, the boys love getting together so it’s great to play with all them. Sam Frost, Fraser Kelly, some of the boys here, Pat Voss what a jet, Sam Stening, Jack Driscoll, you love playing with those sort of boys,” Green said.

Unlike many other peers, Green has experience of going through he AFL Draft system, with another GIANT Academy talent in Tom having been picked up and starring in his second season, one of the leading contenders for the Rising Star Award.

“It was great for the whole family I guess, just seeing him live out his dream,” Green said. “Going so high in the draft, everyone was so proud of him but obviously there’s the thing that’s what I’m striving to do. “It shows it’s an attainable goal, but I’m obviously really proud of him as well.”

Much like Tom, the younger Green moved to Canberra as a child and took up the game where he immediately began grabbing every chance that came his way. Green said he hoped 2021 might provide him with more opportunities to showcase his ability.

“Moved to Canberra when I was about 10,” he said. “Started playing footy in Canberra, played for my school Marist College and just through there the GIANTS Academy pathways, really helped develop my footy. “So coming up through that program, there were heaps of opportunities and then obviously playing under 16s nationals and then some NEAFL and things and unfortunately last year the Under 18s year wasn’t as planned, so this year hopefully have another go at it.”

Whilst drawing some similarities, Green is essentially very different to his brother, with Josh able to play as a leading forward, or push up the ground and play inside or outside. He has no trouble finding the ball and is strong overhead, but was focusing on various athletic traits such as his speed and endurance.

“Ball-winning is the main strength. which helps in the middle,” he said. ‘But then also I feel like i can go forward and take marks as well so versatility helps as well. “My pace is probably the main one (improvement), in my (preseason) 20m sprint I didn’t go too well. “Then just being able to keep the fitness level up throughout the year to run out games.”

In 2021, Green might not have been able to run out for the Allies just yet – with doubt hovering over the availability of NSW-ACT talents in particular given government restrictions – but he put together a consistent NAB League Boys mini-season of 23 disposals, 3.7 marks, 3.3 tackles and 1.3 goals in three games.

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 12

A BUNCH of the nation’s most promising Under 19 prospects continues to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL), including a raft of top-ups and academy talents. Many have already made their state league debuts, with more to come and a handful sighted this past weekend. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football grade.

Bendigo Pioneers pair Sam Conforti and Jack Hickman returned the Essendon VFL setup, as the Bombers found the going tough against a rampant Geelong side. The nippy small midfielders both got their hands on the ball, with Conforti ticking up to 18 disposals in his sixth outing to bring his season average up to 17.3. Hickman found it 12 times, making for a solid fourth outing at the level.

A strong bunch of top-up players ran out for Gold Coast in the Suns’ loss to Box Hill, taken from four different NAB League regions. Geelong supplied top-agers Lachlan Kidd (16 disposals, seven marks), Blake Reid (nine disposals, four marks), and Noah Gadsby (nine disposals), who fared well given the Hawks’ dominance. Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Giorgio Varagiannis booted a major from his 10 touches, as Dandenong Stingrays utility Bryce Milford also found the goals. Talls Felix Flockart and Henry Walsh also got a run, combining for 11 hit-outs. Walsh is the 203cm brother of Carlton midfielder, Sam and has been playing local football at St Joseph’s.

Sydney was another reserves side to send out plenty of top-ups, with eight NAB Leaguers from six separate regions taking the field in their loss to Frankston. West Australian Logan Young was the pick of the bunch with 21 disposals, five marks and a goal, while Calder Cannons top-ager Sam Clohesy (18 disposals, six marks, five tackles) was also productive on debut. Clohesy was recently signed by Coburg, but got clearance to fill in for this clash.

Geelong Falcons products Sam Witherden, Gennaro Bove, and Kyle Skene each got a run in their second outings, while fellow country talents Cobi Maxted (Bendigo) and Fraser Marris (Greater Western Victoria) were also called up. Eastern Ranges skipper Josh Clarke ramped up his return from injury with the Swans, making the step up to senior football after two consecutive NAB League outings.

Greater Western Sydney brought in a few of its academy hopefuls to take on, and beat, Casey Demons by a single point. All half-dozen of them had 10 disposals or less, topped by midfielder Maximus Monaghan. Fraser Kelly was productive with two goals from his eight touches, while Harrison Grintell also found the big sticks. AFL Academy member Josh Fahey returned to the fold steadily with seven disposals, as defender Sam Frost got his hands dirty with an equal number of tackles, and Luke Fellows rounded out the cohort.

A couple of powerhouse aligned clubs called upon top-aged guns, with Carlton retaining Joel Trudgeon (eight disposals, four tackles) and Richmond giving a late call-up to Will Bravo (eight disposals, three tackles) as both sides suffered losses. Sandringham co-captain Darby Hipwell also turned out in the VFL once more, snaring a goal from his 12 disposals against Collingwood.

Ewan Macpherson was another to enjoy his extended run at the level, upping his output to gather 17 disposals and four marks for the Western Bulldogs. Fellow club-tied prospect Cody Raak also donned the red, white and blue for a third time. Gippsland Power ball winner Chance Doultree was also busy with 15 touches and six marks on debut, while North Melbourne was serviced well by its own debutant in Western Jets product Sam Clifford (11 disposals, seven marks).

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 6

THE 2021 NAB League season rolled on over the weekend despite a fourth Victorian lockdown, with a pair of Northern Academy derbies making up the extent of the Round 6 fixtures. It meant budding AFL Draft prospects from around the nation got their chance to shine on centre stage, and a good number of them impressed. Check out the top performers from both fixtures in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 6 snapshot

GWS GIANTS Academy 10.9 (69) def. Sydney Swans Academy 9.9 (63)
By: Michael Alvaro

GIANTS Academy:

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Hamblin finished as the most prolific GIANTS midfielder with 27 disposals and proved a productive runner among the centre bounce group. He showed a good step through traffic and was able to zip onto the outer with a few quick steps before disposing of the ball cleanly. Complimenting those bursts was one excellent example of repeat running in the second term, where Hamblin was involved at half-back, got the ball again as the GIANTS transitioned through the corridor, and was rewarded for his running effort as he received inside 50 and slotted a goal on the fly. He could have added a couple more majors, but put shots wide in terms one and four.

#21 Fraser Kelly

Kelly was one who rotated forward from midfield and had an impact in both roles, collecting 18 disposals and booting three goals. He finished well on the day and his third major was an important one to level the scores in term four, snapping home with aplomb. Around the ball, he showed clean hands and the ability to get his arms up while being tackled to keep the play moving. While some of his handball distribution fell short of the intended targets, Kelly looked stylish in tight spaces and under solid pressure at the contest.

#24 Sam Frost

The GIANTS Academy leader was a dominant aerial force across his side’s defensive 50, rising to take 10 grabs and looking to generate some forward momentum by foot on the rebound. He took on the kick-in duties, which aided his road to 30 disposals (24 kicks), and looked to have sharpened his execution a touch this time out. Frost’s intercept marking was the highlight of his game though, as he sat on opponents’ heads in one-on-one contests and floated across to cut off an array of Sydney attacks. It’s clear what his key strength is, and he played to it perfectly on this occasion.

#31 Josh Green

A top-age prospect who has garnered interest for the mid-season draft, Green was solid in this outing without being dominant. He used his strong frame on the inside to get over the ball and distribute out of congestion, with 18 of his 25 disposals coming by hand. He was clean in those situations, even under tackling pressure, and brought his teammates into the game by playing to his primary strength in congestion. Green also rotated forward and took a couple of decent grabs, with a two-bite mark in the second term leading to his lone goal of the game – a set shot conversion from 40 metres out.

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

Rogers clearly has no trouble finding the ball and again proved as much by accumulating a game-high 34 disposals both inside and away from the contest. He positioned well at the back of stoppages to receive second possession and be released to burst forward with a short run and kick. The 18-year-old also turned feeder himself and found a way to consistently get his hands on the ball, while spreading well to accumulate around the ground. He lifted in term four when the game was on the line, getting busy in midfield despite his side falling short. Rogers also hit the scoreboard with a set shot goal in the third quarter and was arguably best afield.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another small Swans midfielder who finds the ball at will, Roseby worked hard all day for his side in an offensive and defensive sense. He worked back well when stationed in midfield to provide an outlet option, generally using the ball well with his short kicking game. Roseby used the same kind of method forward of centre too, often marking inside 50 but looking to find the next short option within the arc. He seemed to spend a bit more time up forward in the second half but presented right up the ground and covered plenty of territory in the process, helping his side link out of defence and along the outer.

#15 Jeremy Woodford

Woodford was one who showed great class in possession and made his kicks count, despite not racking up as much as others. Stationed on the wing and moving the ball forward of centre, Woodford was able to link the Swans into attack from the outer, weighting well directed passes to centre half-forward and inside attacking 50. One such pass was a goal assist for Hugh McLeod in the second term, and that kind of execution proved a weapon at times. Woodford was also thrown into the centre bounces and showed nice spurts of agility, but looked more comfortable when operating in space and given the time to hit a target going forward.

#26 Angus Anderson

Providing a hard edge on the inside, Anderson competed well and looked to help set the tone for Sydney. He built into the game steadily, proving strong at the contest with attempts to bustle out of congestion and break tackles with strength. Those kind of efforts meant Anderson had a good amount of presence at stoppages, but he also spread well to boot a goal on the run in term two, while also dropping back to find the ball in defence when required.

Brisbane Lions Academy 7.7 (49) def. by Gold Coast SUNS Academy 13.18 (96)
By: Declan Reeve

Lions Academy:

#12 Saxon Crozier

Considered unlucky by some not to be picked up in last year’s draft, Crozier showed that he’s since worked on his football to enhance his stocks for this season. With one particular knock last season being his inside game, Crozier played the majority of the contest as a rover on his way to a game-high 34 disposals. He won the first clearance of the day which set the tone for how he would play, utilising his positional awareness and speed to win the ball around the ground and then use it well, especially when kicking, to get the Lions into good spots. He balanced his performance well, also featuring on the wing at times where he showed what people already knew he could do, holding his space and being a switch option before getting the ball and pumping it forward.

#23 Charlie Bowes

Utilising his speed and deadly long kick, Bowes was one of the standout users of the footy throughout the game. He often leant on his penetrative kick to break lines and get the ball well clear of the defensive 50. When he took the kick-ins, he’d back in his speed and take on the opponent on the mark, then once he had run his distance, kick it 50-plus meters low and hard to give his leading teammates the best chance of holding onto it. Not only able to bullet his kicks, when required he weighted them well for a teammate to run onto and take easily.

#26 Jack Briskey

The former Collingwood train-on player was solid defensively and dangerous offensively, providing a well rounded performance that is sure to catch some eyes. He was strong overhead, even when under pressure, to hold most marks he should’ve taken. His follow up disposal was also generally good, though missing a few kicks or failing to get much penetration remains an area of improvement. What’s most impressive about Briskey is his athleticism for a bigman – he possesses great speed which saw him go for a couple of runs, one in the second quarter was particularly notable, where he took on two opponents and took a couple of bounces, then kicked long inside 50. That speed, along with his great leap meant that he rarely allowed his opponents to take marks near him, as he could close down the space extremely quickly and then compete in the air to get a fist in and spoil the mark.

SUNS Academy:

#2 Max Pescud

Splitting his time between the forwardline and midfield, Pescud was arguably the spark that got Gold Coast piling on scores in the second and fourth quarters, bringing a nice bit of zip to the midfield group when he got the ball. He generally used it well, more inclined to place the ball in front of teammates rather than bullet it directly at them, making it easier to hold onto. When in the forwardline he was always dangerous, kicking the Suns’ first two goals of the game; one from a strong lead when the Suns got a turnover, and the next from crumbing from a pack and snapping it through the middle.

#4 Austin Harris

Whilst not accumulating massive numbers, the AFL Academy member added a bit of class out of the back half for the Suns, with his ball use and speed especially dangerous in transition. He got into the right spots trying to receive a handball on the outside of packs, with the times he was used in those situations generally resulting in a penetrating kick forward. Had an impressive display of composure in the third term, where he got the ball and managed to evade two opponents, then break a tackle and kick the ball laterally to a teammate. Through his efforts to be involved even when the ball wasn’t in the backline, he got up the ground and snagged a goal in the second quarter. He occasionally tried to do too much or opt for unrealistic targets, which is an area of his game he can look to iron out.

#22 Bailey Reeves

Starting the game up forward before being promptly moved into the midfield, Reeves was one of the leading ball winners for the Suns. In midfield, his balanced disposal was vital to his side winning the midfield battle, as he would often get first hands on it around the stoppages and then move it on via hand to an outside runner or kick long forward. In open play his kicking was accurate and sharp, giving his leading forwards to best chance to hold onto it and maintain their separation.

#35 Will Bella

The most dominant forward in the contest, Bella was able to easily out-body and out-reach opposition defenders in marking contests, making it almost a sure thing he was going to win one-on-ones. As the Lions defenders caught onto this strength, they started to look to outnumber him, forcing him to start leading a bit more and look to create separation which he did to varying success. He would’ve had more than just two goals if he had been a bit more accurate, with that conversion a part of his game that he’ll certainly look to work on. Looked comfortably the best ruck when he was rotating through there, winning taps and doing well as a ‘kick behind the play’ player.

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 6

A FOURTH Victorian lockdown failed to bring the 2021 NAB League competition to a complete halt, with four of the five Northern Academies battling it out in a pair of makeshift Round 6 fixtures. Fans were treated to an Under 19s Sydney Derby and Q-Clash on Sunday, as the New South Wales and Queensland-based talent pathway programs returned to home soil to resume their runs. Check out the key figures and stats in our weekend snapshot, with Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 10.9 (69) def. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 9.9 (63)

IN A SENTENCE:

The GWS GIANTS Academy lead at every break and held on amid the tense dying stages to defeat the Swans Academy by a single goal, in a Sydney derby where the widest margin at any stage was 14 points.

TEAM STATS:

  • GIANTS Academy won the inside 50s (43-39) and handballs (146-143)
  • Swans Academy won the kicks (185-166), marks (83-75), and hit-outs (36-27)
  • The tackles were tied at 55 apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy) 30 disposals (24 kicks), 10 marks, 8 rebound 50s
  • Felix Rogers (Swans Academy) 34 disposals, 7 marks, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy) 27 disposals, 8 marks, 11 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Josh Green (GIANTS Academy) 25 disposals (18 handballs), 3 marks, 3 tackles, 1 goal
  • Angus Anderson (Swans Academy) 20 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
4 – Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy)
3 – Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
2 – Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy)
1 – Fraser Kelly (GIANTS Academy)

NEXT UP:

GWS GIANTS Academy vs. Northern Knights | Preston City Oval | Saturday June 5, 11:45am
Sydney Swans Academy vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Preston City Oval | Saturday June 5, 2:15pm

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 7.7 (49) def. by GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 13.18 (96)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy overcame a first term deficit to overpower the Brisbane Lions Academy, running out 47-point victors with help from a five-goal to nil final quarter.

TEAM STATS:

  • SUNS Academy won the disposals (323-255), handballs (146-85), hit-outs (49-25), and scoring shots (31-14)
  • Lions Academy won the marks (78-63) and rebound 50s (29-23)
  • The tackles were tied at 76 apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy) 34 disposals, 9 marks, 3 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • Bailey Reeves (SUNS Academy) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 12 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy) 19 disposals (17 kicks), 8 marks, 4 tackles, 6 rebound 50s
  • Max Pescud (SUNS Academy) 25 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 3 goals
  • Zac Young (Lions Academy) 21 disposals, 4 marks, 8 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Will Bella (SUNS Academy) 18 disposals, 5 marks, 5 inside 50s, 11 hitouts, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
4 – Will Bella (SUNS Academy)
3 – Max Pescud (SUNS Academy)
2 – Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
1 – Bailey Reeves (SUNS Academy)

NEXT UP:

To be confirmed.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 4

THE 2021 NAB League season resumed over the weekend after a month-long hiatus, with a handful of Northern Academies entering the fray and making for a bumper nine-game weekend. It meant budding AFL Draft prospects from around the nation were on full show, with some staking their claims for mid-season draft honours. Check out the top performers from each fixture in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 4 snapshot

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. WESTERN JETS

By: Declan Reeve

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes 

A knock-on effect of the outs that Sandringham had saw Howes play majority of the game on the wing, where his speed, skill and ball winning were well highlighted in what was his most prolific performance of the season to date. As a winger, he still managed to find ways to impact on the inside with his quick and clean hands at ground level, as well as to teammates, tearing up the Western midfield at various points in the game. His positioning and ability to time his run led to some highlight moments, winning crucial clearances in the early stages of the game while also gathering intercept marks around the ground, with one leading to the first goal of the game. 

#17 Finn Callaghan

With some starting midfielders out due to injury or VFL selection, Callaghan got the chance to shine with a move inside, playing the game out as a major ball winner for the Dragons. What stood out most with Callaghan’s game, was his stoppage craft and clearance winning in tight space, demonstrating this best at stoppages around the ground where he’d read the ball off the rucks hands, and then burst free from opponents and look to switch the play across ground with his strong kicking. Able to balance his disposal well, Callaghan also looked to get his defenders involved in offensive play, encouraging teammates to run past and receive the handball to then kick long. When Sandringham were looking to get back into the game in the fourth quarter Callaghan’s defensive workrate shone, even taking a kick in late, then running up and winning the clearance that resulted from the kick to the wing.

#42 Luke Cleary

Continued to do the things he does well, playing to his strengths with his run from behind setting up plenty of opportunities, linking up well with teammates Callaghan and Howes with his handball receive work when he pushed up the ground. Cleary positioned himself really well in the backline, especially after the initial first two goals from Western in the third quarter, to be one of the first players to the ball every time it entered defensive 50, looking to handball it to a teammate out the back. 

#52 Luke Nankervis

Splitting his time between the forward line and midfield, Nankervis Stood out with his ability to keep his hands free through traffic, or when being tackled, to get a handball off to a teammate and keep Sandringham moving with the ball. Bringing a creative spark around goals in the second half, he kicked two highlight reel worthy goals, using the wind to his advantage to get them from tricky spots along the boundary. When he was given his opportunity on the inside he looked good, being clean below his knees and maintaining that cleanliness through traffic.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Always capable of having an impact if given even the smallest of opportunities, Soylemez continued his goal kicking ways with 3 goals in the tight contest, kicking 2 of them in the second quarter to give Sandringham a lead heading into half time. He was able to find the goals from almost anywhere when in the forward 50, with a couple of shots falling just short or being touched, with a little refining on finishing, Soylemez could’ve had 5 or 6. 

#66 Charlie McKay

With Hipwell selected for Sandringham VFL, his spot as the major contested ball winner for Sandringham opened up for McKay who has been forced into a defensive role prior to this game. Not looking to waste his opportunity, Mckay impressed with his constant attack on the ball and opponent around stoppages, leading to a game high 37 disposals and playing a big part in Sandringham’s attempt to claw back the lead in the fourth quarter. Perhaps lacked some penetration with his skills at times, but looked to move the ball to the right spots.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

Perhaps Western’s most consistent player throughout the day, White was a constant driver from the midfield, looking to create dangerous plays around stoppages with his speed and agility. This agility was shown throughout the day, with plays where he’d get through packs with the ball, avoiding tackles, a pretty common occurrence through the game. His use by foot was particularly impressive as well, able to follow up that dancing through packs with pinpoint kicks to targets inside 50. Got himself two goals in the scoring frenzy third term, with the first being the most impressive as a snap under pressure from about 50 out.

#26 Cody Raak

Returning from the NAB League Break with added VFL experience, the mid-season draft prospect had a solid performance as a composed figure in the Western defence. He was rarely caught behind his opponents, but managed to close down the distance well and spoil. He used the ball exceptionally well by foot, especially in the defensive half, where he’d look to switch the play or slow it down to assess his options. As usual, he intercepted well throughout the game, pushing off opponents, especially in the last quarter, to impact the ball further up the ground and keep the pressure on.

#32 Paul Curtis

Started the game fairly quiet as the ball was around the Sandringham forward half for majority of it, still managing to get a couple of tackles inside 50 when it came down. It was the third quarter in particular where the Jets piled on 8 goals, with Curtis putting in 4 of those for his side. Whilst not a tall player, he played as a lead up target, with his leading patterns near perfect, getting his first two goals by leading well to smart spots, where his midfielders could put it easily in front of him from the centre clearances. 

#35 Liam Conway

Was the main player in the Western midfield to step up in the second half, with his work around the ground crucial to Western’s massive third quarter. What was most evident, was how well he uses his burst around stoppages to get away from opponents, where with that separation he steadies himself well and uses the ball beautifully by foot, setting up the first goal of the third quarter with the first clearance, pinpointing the kick to teammate Curtis. He was also a threat aerially, with his leap and ability to hold the ball well making it hard for anyone to impact his marking without giving away a free kick. When he wasn’t the target of a kick, he played a crumbing role well at ground level around contests, often at the fall of the ball off hands and then able to take it cleanly.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

Comfortably the most dominant ruck in the game, Tsapatolis took full advantage in the absence of Jacob Edwards and Max Heath, the main Sandringham rucks, who were out with school football commitments. What was most impressive for Tsapatolis was how easily he found front position in the ruck contests to win taps relatively uncontested, taking full advantage of the height and size difference of his opponents. After Sandringham had started to read his taps he switched on and started to grab the ball from the ruck and bomb it long forward.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY

By: Liam Badkin

Northern Knights:

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Fantastic off half back, particularly in the first half when the Knights had most of the footy. His pace was damaging, as he sliced through the opposition with his inboard running, and was able to find a target by foot. For his size at 183cm, he showed his fantastic capability above his head, taking a nice intercept mark in the second quarter, and provided countless spoils that thwarted Brisbane attacks. He was closely checked in the second half, as the opposition realised how much damage he was capable of causing, but overall he combined very well with his fellow backmen, and was probably his side’s strongest performers on the day. Disappointingly, finished the game with an injured neck after smashing in hard to a contest, and had to be helped off.

#10 Ben De Bolfo

Much like Wilmot, was damaging off half back, combining with teammates to clear the ball out of defensive 50 with ease. Has a talent for reading the crumb off the marking contest, consistently reading the drop of the ball and finding a teammate to rebound the ball out of Brisbane’s forward line. Skills by foot and hand were solid all day, and his defensive work was fantastic too. Combined well with Wilmot on multiple occasions in the first half when the Knights half back line was the most damaging weapon in their arsenal.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

The Knights captain led by example in a masterful display through the midfield. You will struggle to find a better set of hands in the contest, as he was rarely wrapped up, instead using his strength to keep his arms free and find a teammate to clear the contest. From the very first bounce, he was prominent in and around the contest, never fearful of attacking the ball. His tackling pressure was immensely physical too, and his knack for timing his tackles perfectly to avoid giving away a free kick. Floated forward to kick a goal in the third quarter, and nearly booted two in a row, but his set shot faded right. Was clearly best on ground for the day, leading his side to a strong victory.

#26 Dominic Akuei

A strong defensive performance from the 192cm backman, as he delivered a performance that will give him confidence moving forward. Had a desire to create run from the backline, constantly looking to spread from the backline when his side gained possession. Kept his opponents quiet and wasn’t afraid to get in the face of his opponents. He was even thrown into the ruck in the last quarter and displayed his athletic capabilities. Had his moment of the day in the last term with a brilliant goal saving run down. A promising outing, and plenty to build on in future matches.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Worked his way into the game strongly after a quiet first term. A moment that seemed to kickstart his game came in the second term, when he won a contest on the wing, handballed to a teammate, ran hard to receive it back, before delivering a lace-out pass to a teammate inside 50. After this, he was finding himself in all the right positions, and proved hard to tackle on more than one occasion. Kept his players accountable and hurt them with his two-way running.

Lions Academy:

#4 Shatna Cashen-Harris

Looked capable of breaking the game open at stages, with his pace around the ball evident, and his pressure constantly making the opposition nervous. Quietened off after a bright first quarter, but still showed promising signs in glimpses throughout the match. Spent time rotating up forward and through the midfield, where he injected some desperately needed energy.

#16 Lochlan Harrop

Was impressive for the Lions on a tough day at the office. Started the match coming off the bench straight into the midfield, before moving to the backline where he truly excelled. Can read the ball outstandingly well, and while he didn’t mark them all, his willingness to launch himself at the Knights’ inside 50 delivery stopped plenty of scores and displayed tremendous courage. Missed a couple of targets by foot, but overall a gutsy performance that would have inspired his teammates.

#24 Connor Bulley

Was solid throughout the day, as he battled hard to defend the Knights’ attacks. Found himself on the losing side of a few contests, with near perfect delivery to his opponents, but never dropped his head. Was much better in the third quarter, when his side put themselves in the contest. Floated forward to boot a goal in the third term, and will be better for the experience.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

Geelong Falcons:

#4 Gennaro Bove

Played a four-quarter effort with his usual impact up forward, getting involved further up the ground when the Falcons were struggling to get it forward. He kicked his first goal in the opening minute of the second term from a set shot, and whilst his second did not come until the final quarter thanks to some clever crumbing, he still worked hard across the ground, set up another goal to Mitch Knevitt and took some strong grabs for a smaller player.

#11 Cooper Whyte

Had some eye-catching plays through the midfield and had more of an impact than his stats might suggest. Whilst he had lower numbers compared to some others in the game, he showed off a sweet sidestep, a front-on fend-off and a clean set of hands in close when being tackled. At times he might do too much, but he tried to create, which did pay off as well.

#12 Noah Gribble

Brought his own football to the game with 14 more disposals than anyone else on his team. Personified four quarters and kept working hard, and whilst at times his field kicking still let him down, his work rate and spread was what helped him stand out. He has a thumping long boot that can travel 50m, and he hit the scoreboard early in the second term with a great running goal after going from the wing to just inside 50. His defensive pressure and second efforts, as emphasised by his great smother on the wing 17 minutes into the fourth term was indicative of his effort.

#16 Charlie Ham

Found plenty of the ball working up and down the ground, and whilst he might have had more impactful performances before, got back into it after a few weeks off pretty well. A kick-first player, Ham was able to get back and help his defence, then drive it forward to put it to his teammates advantages when in transition, to finish with the second most touches on his team.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

A mixed performance where his best was unbelievable, but he had patches where he needed to get more involved. His ability to clunk contested marks, and athletically take control was really impressive, and he was able to play both through the midfield and up forward. He did cop a knock which limited him somewhat forward, but he still kicked a goal and did some nice things across the board.

#32 Noah Gadsby

It was great to see Gadsby back after a long-term injury, with the talent really standing out in the forward half. He slotted two goals, which included one from hard running and popping it through the goalsquare, then a second major off a step to slot it home early in the second quarter. In the same term he produced a well done run-down tackle at half-back, spreading well to the wings and covering the whole ground impressively.

GIANTS Academy:

#1 Harry Grintell

Ended up being the match-winner with three last quarter goals to help his side over the line. Spending time in the midfield then going forward to be that damaging player close to goal, Grintell really came alive in the final term after a quiet game to-date. His first goal came from a free kick nine minutes in, then responded to the Falcons’ major with a quick-fire goal two minutes later, then kicked the winning goal late in the game after running hard towards a bouncing ball, getting boot to ball in a flash to snap it through.

#19 Maximus Monaghan

Was arguably the GIANTS’ most eye-catching midfielder, working well at the stoppages and even sliding in to take a mark in the second term and converting the set shot. He applied plenty of defensive pressure and showed some nice moves out of congestion with clever sidestepping. He was able to adjust his kick mid-run which was impressive and overall had an impact for his team.

#21 Fraser Kelly

Kicked a couple of goals from 12 touches and only the two kicks. He kicked a very clever goal from 50m that caught the eye and bounced through well, then took a strong contested grab in the fourth term and nailed the set shot from 15m out. One moment he had that really caught the eye was his ability to win the ball at the coal face, and hold off delivering the handball until the second option which he did well to execute perfectly.

#24 Sam Frost

His defensive work was really impressive, gobbling up anything that came his way and then offered himself up as a rebounding option. His disposal at times was a concern, turning over a number of touches including one not under pressure. However his work without the ball and an ability to rebound out of the back 50 was a real highlight, as Frost picked up 12 rebounds – nine more than any other player on his team and served as an anchor back there.

#30 Brad Rauter

Another defender who had some great defensive work but just needed to sharpen his disposal, Rauter stood up well against pressure and was able to often win contests against multiple opponents. He laid a great tackle after trapping the ball in against an opponent – and beating another – to win a free kick, but unfortunately turned over the kick. He took some good marks and had some solid moments as a whole.

#31 Josh Green

Constantly involved inside 50 and always looked liked a damaging forward, he kicked an early major for the GIANTS dribbling one home from the behind post. He kicked his second in the third term with a snap around his body to cut the deficit to five points at that stage. He was always lively, pushing up and down the ground and racking up some big numbers rotating through the midfield and laying some big tackles. Possibly the more impressive aspect was his ability to get up the ground then get it inside 50.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

One of a few promising talls afield, Murray seemed to grow in confidence as the game wore on and showcased his upside rotating through the ruck and forwardline. He started in attack and was able to get separation on the lead while presenting out, with his reach also coming in handy while attempting overhead marks. While he may have some filling out to do to clunk those grabs more consistently and wrestle in the ruck, Murray’s athleticism and ability to adapt by using said trait was terrific to watch. One of his best moments was a holding the ball tackle at centre half-forward, which he used to hit up Cameron McLeod inside 50.

#5 Paddy Parnell

A run-and-gun type of rebounder out of defence, Parnell seemed to be in perpetual forward motion throughout his latest outing. There isn’t much of him, but the top-ager made an impact with his aggressive running patterns and timing when searching for handball receives. Tasked with taking the kick-outs, Parnell would often play on and weave through holes in the zone, getting as far as 40 meters at times before delivering by foot, or chaining by hand. While it sometimes invited unnecessary pressure, he would often opt to kick short so he could run on and get the hand off – such instances saw him move the ball across the defensive 50 arc, or all the way through the corridor. Parnell’s clean kicking skills were also a feature, and he used them to launch a nice goal on the fly in term two.

#8 Zavier Maher

In his return NAB League outing, the top-age mid-season draft candidate would have done his chances no harm. Maher found plenty of the ball in his usual midfield post, proving a strong body at the stoppages and dropping back well during the second half to accumulate a wealth of possessions. A couple of knocks which saw him overlooked at last year’s draft were his kicking skills and ground level cleanliness, which he still looks to be working on. He bombed out of the contest and sent forward a few floaters on the move, but looked clean by hand at the stoppages when fresh. His upside is clear to see, with great power and an explosive turn of speed allowing him to drive Murray forward out of congestion. Maher showed good smarts when using his body, and if he can continue to add polish to his game and impact away from the contest, will be very hard to deny at the next level.

#24 Cameron McLeod

Another promising top-age prospect, McLeod played a key hand in Murray’s win by allowing his side to apply sustained scoreboard pressure. The 19-year-old presented beautifully high up the ground, where he would mark and quickly move the ball on with terrific skills for his size. Most things he did on Saturday were clean, able to clunk the ball without much fuss and then keep the chain going smoothly by foot. The first of McLeod’s four majors came in the second term, where he waited down inside 50 and latched onto the bouncing ball before finishing well. He showed similar ground level nous in the following period for goal number two, dropping a mark but recovering quickly before snapping home once more. He booted two more well-struck goals, both coming from range with one being a set shot. Arguably his best outing to date.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Changes in the Oakleigh side saw Dib utilised almost permanently through midfield, where his physicality, turn of speed, and pressure game combined well. He looked to have brought in a good deal of confidence having gained VFL experience during the break, but made some costly skill errors coming away from the contest at full tilt. As the game wore on, he seemed to actively take more time before disposing of the ball, getting the legs pumping and choosing the right option. Dib also spent a bit of time up forward but was a midfield mainstay, setting a good tone at the stoppages and welcoming a bit of niggle.

#3 Nick Daicos

The Chargers skipper missed out on a berth with Collingwood’s VFL side having been managed over the break, but had the ball on a string in his return to action. His game-high 44 disposals were accumulated on the back of an unbelievably sound understanding of the game, which saw Daicos anticipate exactly where his next possession would come. He stayed active at the stoppages, looking to push off his man and burst through the contest to work a viable exit from congestion. Later in the game, he put more of a defensive hat on by anchoring the stoppages and opting against streaming to the front. A team-first kind of leader, he showed clear intent to bring his teammates into the game and that is why his numbers were so inflated, as he also worked to demand the ball back and push into dangerous areas. He won and received the ball in good spots, but did a lot of early work under pressure which limited the impact of his disposals – particularly by foot. While that was the case, you have to marvel at Daicos’ ability to consistently look a class above the Under 19 level.

#4 Sam Tucker

Another top-ager who made his first appearance in 2021, Tucker was a prominent forward figure.He got amongst the action early too, boosting his confidence with consecutive first term goals – both from long range. Tucker’s presentation up to the forward 50 arc allowed him to showcase his clean hands at ground level, operating in front position and making good of whatever kind of delivery came his way by running through the line of the ball, collecting, and disposing. He missed a few more chances to find the goals throughout the game, but overall made for a steady return.

#64 Ned Moyle

A true ruckman, Moyle again proved why he is one to watch at the upcoming mid-season draft. He looked to impose himself on the contest by using his strength against less mature opponents, nudging them under the ball and grabbing clearance after clearance. While some of his kicks under pressure can be scrubbers with little penetration, Moyle got better length on his disposals in this outing and also did well to dish by hand when appropriate. His work around the ground is also improving, but adjusting against more athletic rucks who won’t engage and can outmanoeuvre him will be the bigman’s next big test. Elsewhere, he followed up well and tackled hard, while also doing the one-percenters like shepherding to release his midfielders.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY

By: Liam Badkin

Dandenong Stingrays:

#8 Bayleigh Welsh

The Stingrays captain provided some of his signature run against the Suns. He frequently burst from deep in the backline to provide some pace for his side that proved crucial in the end. His kicking skills are to be marvelled at, as he never tried to do too much with the ball, just enough to hit a target and keep the ball in his side’s possession. Kept his opponents accountable playing on the likes of Shaye Walsh for the majority of the contest. His leadership was also fantastic as he marshalled the troops from half back.

#14 Will Bravo

Was busy throughout the midfield for the entire contest as he battled for the ball on the inside of the contest and was used as an outlet on plenty of occasions. Was willing to run both ways, as he worked hard into defence to clear the ball. Gathered a crucial ball in the second term and was able to clear the ball from the contest despite the pressure from Gold Coast forward Malachi Dumas. Displayed incredible endurance as he pushed from contest to contest, and worked hard for the entire game.

#17 Bryce Milford

The talented utility was used in the backline throughout the contest, as the Dandenong coaches attempted to take away Gold Coast’s height advantage up forward. Didn’t get too much of the ball, but certainly nullified the impact of his opponent, being matched up on players such as Will Bella at times. Moved to a wing where he displayed his ability to play multiple positions, where he used his height and endurance to create some space. His 195cm height gives him a significant advantage on his opponents on the wing and looked more settled out there.

#22 Mac Andrew

The Melbourne Next Generation Talent displayed his enormous potential in the contest as he proved to consistently prove a threat wherever he was placed. Starting the game up forward, Andrew launched at everything, showcasing his tremendous athletic ability. While he didn’t clunk any marks, he was vital in bringing the ball to ground for his smaller teammates. He later moved into the ruck, where he displayed outstanding leaping ability, but his follow up work was just as impressive. Andrew didn’t let his 200cm height prevent him from battling hard on the ground to fight for the ball. A player with no ceiling and one to keep an eye on.

SUNS Academy:

#4 Austin Harris

The AFL Academy member certainly lived up to the hype whenever he got the ball, using his magnificent foot skills to clear the ball from defensive 50, or find a teammate up the field. Splitting his time between half back and the wing, Harris stood out in both lines. When he was in the backline, he played as loose man at times, which is logical given his lethalness when the ball is in his hands. He took plenty of kickouts too, which showcased his booming boot that cleared the ball from the Stingray forward line. Delivered a bullet pass to Bella in the second term, but the forward couldn’t convert. Continues to impress.

#17 Bodhi Uwland

Was terrific in the backline, with an ability to compete in the air, and then mesmerise opponents when the ball was on the ground. Had an outstanding second term, as he appeared to pop up everywhere for the Suns, saving countless scores with his ability to read the play. Had serious composure when the ball was in his hands, and was able to weave his way through traffic despite the manic Dandenong pressure. Looked settled down back and likely impressed coaches with his performance.

#35 Will Bella

The talented big man worked his way into the game, despite close checking from the opposition. The delivery to him was scrappy at times, but he never stopped competing, and was able to draw a few free kicks, despite being out positioned in the marking contest. Booted Gold Coast’s first with an absolute ripper, as he gathered the ball at the point post, and snapped around his body from a tight angle to give his team some desperately needed spark. Didn’t spend too much time in the ruck, and was stationed around the 50m arc most of the time, allowing Hamann to play one out deep in the forward line.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power:

#5 Chance Doultree

Had the ball on a string all day for the Power and never stopped trying over four quarters, although his efficiency throughout the contest could lift as he was often forced into rushing or bombing long. He was able to have an influence on the game with two goals, including a thumping kick after a sidestep from 50m to nail a long-range goal. His penetrating kick was able to get his team out of trouble on a number of occasions, but just needed more composure at times to have the full effect. Could not fault his effort on the day though, as always.

#28 Zane Duursma

The excitement machine up forward, Duursma certainly had a memorable debut with three goals to his named. Playing as that permanent forward, Duursma kicked his first eight and a half minutes into the second term with a clever snap off the right boot inside 50. His net two came from set shots in the third term, the first from a mark and then the second from a push in the back. He pulled down a lovely contested grab in the fourth term on the wing, and looked the most damaging every time he went near it.

#37 Max Walton

While he has typically looked more suited to defence, Walton was able to expand his repertoire to include forward and through the midfield. He ran hard, was able to use the ball well under pressure and read the ball well in flight. He took a nice grab on the wing at one stage, chipped quickly to the boundary line playing on, ran hard and marked 60m out, but was pushed late so got a 50m penalty and nailed the set shot goal.

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

A real lively type in the forward half, Rogers was the dynamic link between midfield and forward, setting up a number of goal-scoring opportunities. He finished the game with a goal himself, but it was his work in transition getting it inside 50, and working hard around the ground that stood out, and he moved quickly in little bursts, finding space to mark and then keep it moving.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another one who worked hard through the midfield then drifted forward to hit the scoreboard with two majors, Roseby found plenty of the ball in the win. He was able to extract it from the contest and get it going forward inside 50, then kicked a couple of goals as one of a number of midfielders who went forward and converted important shots.

#10 Jordan Endemann

Had a great day up forward with three majors from 19 disposals and four marks. His first goal came from point-blank range, but his next one showed just what he was capable off, winning it at speed, grabbing it cleanly off the burst and a half-volley pickup, turning around and snapping for a major late in the second term. He was a dangerous forward and did all his work in the first half when his team was down moreso than adding cheapies at the end, which was impressive.

#26 Angus Anderson

Really stood out for mine as a prominent midfielder with high-level competitiveness and an ability to work through traffic. He made the odd mistake, but as a whole he showed off a penetrating kick and looked lively through the midfield, accumulating the ball at will and finishing with a goal for his troubles. A lot of his touches were in close, and he was the one shovelling it out to teammates, or bursting away, drawing an opponent and handballing to a teammate on the outside.

#28 Luke Giacometti

One to keep an eye on in 2021, Giacometti showed good footy IQ and an ability to read the ball well in flight coming off half-back. He tried to create from defence and move the ball in transition, and whilst he would make the odd mistake, he certainly knew how to find it and then keep it moving going forward. A player with upside for the future.

CALDER CANNONS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

Employed in a couple of different roles after his Young Guns outing, Clohesy started forward and was also sighted up on the wing this time out. He registered the second score of the match with a quick snap close to goal and hit the post in term three, making up a couple of Calder’s 20-plus minor scores. The top-ager found it difficult to stay involved at times, but timed his runs well to be a handball receive option on the outer, and adjusted well overall. One of his best moments came in the final quarter, as he propped and made a brilliant decision to kick inboard from the wing. With nothing on down the line, the poise to look and deliver into the corridor opened up the play for Calder.

#5 Zac Taylor

Arguably the best player afield, Taylor came up clutch with some wonderful exhibitions of skill and smarts at crucial junctures in the match. He started up forward and was a busy member of the attack, looking to get the ball on the move and working over his opponents to find space inside 50. He rotated into midfield during term two, where he got his hands on the ball more and showed terrific decision making on the uptake. His foot skills going inside 50 were superb, particularly during the final term where he made all the right choices and hit teammates on the lead. He was one who really stood up when it mattered and helped drag Calder over the line.

#8 Paul Pascu

This kid is one to watch for the future. Having participated in the Under 17 carnival and trialled for Vic Metro, Pascu slotted into the Cannons’ engine room and looked right up to the level. He looks a hardened ball winner who competes well and is pretty slick in possession, with a couple of plays seeing him fend off when exiting congestion or breaking forward with aggression. He capped his day with a clutch goal on the run during the final term, showing he is not afraid of the big moment.

#18 Jack Newitt

This was one of Newitt’s better outings for the Cannons this year, with his best traits coming to the fore more consistently. Stationed out on the wing, he was able to move forward dangerously and competed well in the air, showcasing his sticky hands and solid leap. When allowed more minutes inside 50, he presented on the lead and was found on multiple occasions, allowing for chances to add to his first term goal. He would eventually do so in the final quarter via a set shot, but did most of his good work earlier with clean hands and skills on display.

#25 Josh Goater

Goater was one of the bigger bodies in midfield, as per usual, and got to work by getting first hands on the ball at stoppages. His size and power proved difficult for the Bendigo midfielders to combat, as he slipped out of would-be tackles and was constantly able to get a disposal away. While some kicks were rushed, Goater was clean by hand and improved in that facet as the game wore on. His closing speed and pressure on the ball carrier were prominent during term three, before he was moved out onto the wing in the latter stages.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#11 Cobi Maxted

Arguably Bendigo’s best and most important player on the day, Maxted was made to quickly adjust to a variety of roles on the fly and did so with aplomb. He started forward and was rotated into the ruck, where he competed well despite being quite undersized. The top-ager was also used as a rover at the centre bounces, showcasing his versatile range and sound movement. He did most of his best work up forward though, booting three goals and taking eight marks. All three of those majors came at important points of the match; scoring against the run of play, in red time, and during the final term with what should have been the sealer. His set shot motion was quite fluent and made for good viewing, with plenty to like about Maxted’s overall game.

#13 Jack Evans

A leader of this Bendigo side from the back, Evans was kept busy in defence and had to lean on his strengths to help Bendigo stay alive. Much of his work was rinse and repeat, as Evans looked to distribute by foot and went long on many occasions. He was tasked with the kick-ins and often breached the defensive 50 arc with those responsibilities, before later taking on more attacking and varied options as Calder caught onto his tendencies. Overall, it was a solid return for Evans, who was made to absorb a heap of pressure in the backline.

#23 Xavier Mitchell

The top-ager was level as Bendigo’s top rebounder for the day, employed deep in defence and doing his best work there. He was a productive driver of the ball out of danger zones, able to use his long peg to gain good meterage coming away from his own scoring end. Mitchell was able to compete aerially but also did some solid work mopping up at ground level, sweeping cleanly under pressure and being kept busy during the second and third terms in particular. With Calder holding so much territory throughout the game, he played an important role.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER ACADEMY

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#2 Darcy Gardner

The leading ball winner on the day, Gardner caught the eye with slick work at the stoppages and agile spins out of trouble. His decision making while exiting congestion was sound, able to zip away and hit targets further afield. He looked deceptively strong for his size and was very difficult to wrap up, proving a slippery mover around would-be tacklers and making some look silly. He could not quite hit the scoreboard in this clash, putting wide a set shot after the half time siren.

#5 Oliver Sanders

Another of the relatively small Tasmanian midfielders, Sanders continued his good form to date with a productive outing in the engine room. He was able to cleanly extract or receive at the contest, before getting the legs pumping and looking to deliver into attack by foot. While he was able to snatch meterage in those plays, Sanders also showcased a sound short-range game and generated some really positive momentum for his side. He was in the wars a bit too, copping a knock during the third term but running out the game.

#9 Jonty McIvor

McIvor may not have had a wealth of possessions, but made them count and broke the game open in term two for his side. Playing his first game for the season, the opportunistic forward was first sighted closing in for an intercept mark in attacking 50, which he used to slot his first goal. He looked strong on the lead and used that method to boot goal number two, before making it three in quick succession by snapping up a forward 50 spillage first and finishing well on the left. McIvor bagged a fourth in term three, converting from the tightest on angles right on the siren.

#29 Dom White

Difficult to miss out on the field, White impacted well on the outer and worked hard to find plenty of the ball. He came off the line hard to receive from centre bounces and go inside 50, getting good separation in quick time from his direct opponent. That also became a factor in general play, as White worked over his opponent by running forward aggressively to become a free option in the front half. His ball use was generally sound too, and he even found the big sticks with a goal in the second quarter, running in over the back.

NT Thunder Academy:

#4 Beau Tedcastle

Tedcastle came into the game as one of the NT’s most highly fancied youngsters, and he didn’t disappoint with some slick work up forward. He snared the first goal of the game after about five minutes, using his instinct and foot speed to sneak the ball home from close range. The St Mary’s product also presented well as a target inside 50, playing slightly above his size and thriving on the chaos footy his side attempted to enforce. He made good on another quick entry to boot goal number two in the third quarter, before providing pressure around the ball during his move into midfield in the next period. Tedcastle can zig, zag and create in the front half, looming as one to watch.

#8 Ronald Fejo Jnr

An over-ager in this clash, Fejo looked far and away the NT’s most clean and skilful prospect. He started on the wing and operated there for most of the day, slicing forward like a knife through butter with his speed and repeat run efforts to chain through the corridor. He often looked to position at the back of stoppages, where he could clearly view the best path forward and carve out an attack in electric form. Fejo also showcased good foot skills, hitting targets on the move and picking the right options going inside 50.

EASTERN RANGES vs. GWV REBELS

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

The highly touted prospect started brightly and was able to get his hands on the ball, but found the going tough as GWV’s midfield began to get on top. He got first hands to the ball at the opening centre bounce and showcased his slick hands with a nice dish-off, which he would continue to do around the ground. A lot of his work was done under pressure, but Sonsie proved his class and was not afraid to compete. He jagged a goal from nothing in the opening term and later combined his dual-sided foot skills with rare vision to turn and hit targets others would not attempt to. A really smooth mover, his classy stoppage exits were blanketed, but still came through in spurts.

#2 James O’Connor

The top-ager played an unheralded role on GWV key forward Josh Rentsch, thrust into the lop-sided matchup (in terms of size) after quarter time and competing well despite the clear discrepancy. While he had his hands full with the Rebels goalkicking ace one-out inside defensive 50, O’Connor was still able to compete aerially and had some nice moments sweeping out of his own area. He looked to make every post a winner at ground level and ran the ball well, providing a bit of spark on the rebound in some tough spots.

#3 Jake Arundell

One who showed a bit in the Young Guns fixture, Arundell returned with the Ranges and got back to his busy ways up forward. He looked a lot more productive in the second half, showing great speed to chase up loose balls up onto the wing and presenting a solid option there on the lead. With his back to goal, Arundell would twist and turn to buy enough time before disposing of the ball, and hit some really nice kicks going inside 50. He finished well and added a goal to his game in the fourth quarter from a set shot, 35 metres out after being made to earn the mark.

#5 Jake Soligo

Soligo finished equal as the Ranges’ leading ball winner and set the tone for a terrific first term with the game’s opening goal. Having turned his back on goal at the 50-metre arc, his decision proved a good one as he slammed home the long-range shot with aplomb. The Eastern skipper proved nice and evasive in traffic and often found a way to dish out of congestion, while not being afraid to crack in and do the tough stuff. He had a good moment late on, flying in a contest against Fraser Marris and winning the ball before hitting Bradley Watson inside 50 with plenty of class.

#31 Tyreece Leiu

A constant in the Ranges’ besieged defence, Leiu proved a reliable figure who was able to read the play well and intercept a number of promising GWV attacks. His intercept marking ability was evident throughout the game, as he did so in one-on-one battles or by peeling off his direct opponent to impact third-up. Leiu’s clean hands allowed him to be a cool head in the crisis, while sound disposal furthered that influence on the rebound. A really solid game overall, and one which forced the Rebels to get creative with their ball use.

GWV Rebels:

#3 Charlie Molan

Employed up on the wing, Molan did all the fundamentals well and was reliable as ever for the Rebels. He positioned well at the back of stoppages to help his defence and read the play well to know when to attack, or when to hang back. Working into the back half, he was a sound outlet option on the rebound and in possession, his strong kicking came to the fore. Molan is as competitive as they come and got the Rebels out of trouble on numerous occasions by splitting or winning key ground balls, sweeping his side onto the front foot.

#5 Josh Rentsch

The skipper looked on track for a mammoth goal haul and settled on five, with no Eastern defender able to properly go with him throughout the entire contest. He looked ominous early, with his power and marking ability causing headaches as he positioned one-out inside 50. Rebels players only had to kick the ball long over the back and he would easily clunk the mark within range of goal. The finishing touch was Rentsch’s only downfall, as he missed some gettable opportunities from set shots in between those five conversions. He was either incredibly unselfish, or lacking in a bit of confidence in that department as he constantly looked to dish off to teammates – even at the top of the goalsquare after a strong mark. It was a commanding display though, and a good showcase of his key strengths.

#6 Marcus Herbert

A really classy type in midfield, the top-ager just knows how to get out of tight spots. Herbert may have been in the wars during this outing, but battled on to run out the game and displayed his typically smooth ability to slip away from the stoppages. His delivery by foot was a bit shaky in the first half, but he soon fixed up and made his exit kicks work. One particular passage saw him come away from the centre bounce and deliver laterally to the wingman, who ran onto the kick without breaking stride. The Geelong VFL representative certainly looks ominous at his best.

#8 Josh Gibcus

The fast rising intercept defender picked up right from where he left off, putting in another handy shift across the back half. He reads the play so well and proved as much with a series of intercept marks, using his sizeable leap and clean hands to stop Eastern attacks in their tracks. While the ball did not enter his area for long periods in the match, Gibcus set up beautifully and was consistently in the right spots, making the right decisions to ensure he could intercept. From there, he distributed the ball nicely despite a rare kicking error in the final quarter. He continues to be one to watch.

#12 Fraser Marris

Marris finished as the best player afield and really took over as the game wore on with his unrelenting accumulation of possessions. Running through midfield, the top-ager got his hands on it early and was able to distribute, using the ball cleanly at short range and using his smarts to navigate at the stoppages. He ramped up his forward drive in the second half, finding the ball in increasingly advanced areas and getting his legs pumping through the middle of the ground to have a greater impact outside the contest. He even hit the scoreboard in term free after winning a free kick, and had a hand in many more goals throughout the game through sheer weight of numbers in the engine room.

Swans record GIANT win as Suns hold off Lions

SYDNEY Swans and Gold Coast Suns academies have won back-to-back games against the GWS GIANTS and Brisbane Lions academies in the second round of the Northern Academy Series over the weekend. The Swans had a much easier time than the Suns, always looking in control of their match on their way to a dominant 53-point victory over their state rivals.

Sydney Swans 13.8 (87) defeated GWS GIANTS 5.4 (34)

Hosting arguably the two biggest NSW academy prospects in Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden, the Swans midfield was superb, providing equal measures of grunt and pace in getting the ball from defence to attack in an instant. The pair were running down the ground and creating opportunities for their teammates, with Campbell getting on the end of a brilliant goal, and setting up a teammate for another with a four-bounce run from the wing to inside 50. Gulden started in the unfamiliar half-back position, but his speed and skill allowed him to be a danger coming out of defence.

Sam Thorne was a clear standout for the Swans, continually working hard through the middle, and arguably could have been best on ground for his four quarter effort and tackling pressure on the opposition. Along with Thorne through the middle, it was the attack of Reed van Huisstede (four goals) and Liam Puncher (three goals) who applied all the scoreboard pressure. Other Swans who impressed included overager Sam Gaden, who looked comfortable in defence alongside Max Geddes. The deep Swans midfield of Campbell, Thorne, Nick Brewer and Marc Sheather ultimately powered the Sydney side to a big win.

For the GIANTS, they had just the one multiple goalkicker in Fraser Kelly who kicked two, while Logan Berryman, Liam Delahunty and Maximus Monaghan all snagged one apiece. It was no surprise to see Josh Green – the GIANTS’ top rated Academy prospect – named best-on despite the defeat, once against throwing himself at the contest and doing everything he could to get his side across the line. Among those also named in the GIANTS’ best were Sam Frost, Harrison Grintell, Drew Beavan and Daniel Turner in what was ultimately a day where the younger side was outclassed by a more polished Swans outfit.

GOALS:

Sydney: R.van Huisstede 4, L.Puncher 3, P.Roseby 2, B.Campbell, A.Ball, O.Bird, N.Brewer.
GIANTS: F. Kelly 2, L. Berryman, L. Delahunty, M. Monaghan.

BEST: 

Sydney: S. Thorne, E. Gulden, B. Campbell, R. Huisstede, N. Brewer, S. Gaden, M. Geddes
GIANTS: J. Green, S. Frost, H. Grintell, D. Beavan, D. Turner, F. Kelly

Brisbane Lions 10.8 (68) defeated Gold Coast Suns 9.7 (61)

In a game of two halves, the midfield battle proved crucial in deciding which side would snatch the momentum. Gold Coast dominated the opening stages, booting the first four goals of the game on the back of contested work from the likes of Bailey Reeves and Ethan Hunt at centre bounces. The combination of Reeves’ ability to extract, and Hunt’s drive from the contest worked well to get the SUNS on the front foot.

Speaking of, the outside run of Aiden Fyfe and Northern Territory prospect Brandon Rusca also worked well in transition, with the kicking prowess of Josh Fahey and Rhys Nicholls from defence also helping set up some seriously potent Suns transitions. While Fahey looked to penetrate with his long left boot from the kick-ins and deeper in defence, Nicholls more-so utilised strong intercept marking and the nous to run off for handball receives to have an impact.

Skipper for the day, Jack Johnston was a rock at centre half-back, faring well aerially while also contributing to the Suns’ kick-heavy game in the back half at times. He combined well with Joel Jeffrey before the swingman was sent forward, with their reading of the ball in flight ensuring Brisbane had little avenues to go forward quickly. Jeffrey, another prospect tied to Gold Coast through the Darwin zone, showed great class and athleticism in his time up forward. He managed to snare a set shot conversion in the fourth term.

Max Pescud was arguably best afield for the victors though, making a menace of himself at half-forward. While he is still quite light-on, Pescud showed he was not afraid to hit the ball and his opponents hard, and collected plenty of both throughout the day. The forward’s conversion was well off in the first half, but his reward for effort came in the form of two goals, with his first a ripping effort on the run having just burned an opponent.

That opponent was Tahj Abberley, who still proved to be one of Brisbane’s better players across the day. The small utility was as reliable as any Lion afield, constantly looking a class above with his use by foot. He was employed through midfield and rotated out to defence, where his reading of the play and rebound abilities came to the fore.

Another Lions Academy regular, Saxon Crozier was also terrific in a range of roles. Starting through midfield, the Lions captain got his hands on the ball early, but looked most dangerous in the closing stages as he used his long kicking to take the game on. Another usually reliable kick is Carter Michael, who also found plenty of the ball. His radar was a touch off as he looked to initiate some forward movement from defence, but the meterage was there and he fared well with a move into the midfield later on.

Part of Brisbane’s ability to turn the game on its head in the second half came through the likes of Blake Coleman and Bruce Reville. Both players rotated forward through midfield, and looked so dangerous whenever the ball entered their area. Coleman was a particular threat in transition with his clean hands, while over-ager Reville had a massive impact in the third term to give the Lions a sniff.

The pressure of Will Tasker, who booted two goals, and Lochlan Harrop also ensured the Lions took the game down to the wire, with their presence around the ball putting a classy Suns defence under the pump. Brisbane was forced to fight from too far back though, and came up just a goal short despite creating good chances in the last five minutes.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: S. Walsh 2, M. Pescud 2, A. Fyfe, J. Jeffrey, B. Reeves, N. Stevens, B. Uwland, W. Bella.
Brisbane:
W. Tasker 2, B. Reville 2, C. Bowes 2, C. Michael, S. Crozier, L. Harrop.

ADC BEST:

Gold Coast: M. Pescud, J. Fahey, E. Hunt, R. Nicholls, J. Jeffrey, J. Johnston, B. Reeves
Brisbane: T. Abberley, B. Reville, B. Coleman, S. Crozier, C. Michael, L. Harrop

 

Scouting notes: U17 Futures – Queensland vs. NSW/ACT

THE NSW/ACT Rams won out against traditional rivals, Queensland in their annual Under-17 Futures fixture in heavy rain at Southport. Michael Alvaro was on hand to take his opinion-based notes of the outstanding players.

Queensland:

#3 Ethan Hunt (Gold Coast Suns)

The diminutive ball winner embraced the conditions and was hard at it all day, starting well with a brave mark against two opponents off a clearance. Hunt went on to win the ball well on the precipice of stoppages around the ground with good intent, digging in and under to accumulate his 17 possessions and move the ball forward. His pressure on the ball carrier was also important in the conditions, laying six tackles.

#5 Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions)

There’s not much of Abberley, but the Lions Academy product looked unfazed by having to get stuck in. Playing through the midfield and off half-back, Abberley was clean at ground level and smart with his hands out of congestion. His four clearances bode well for more midfield minutes, but Abberley also worked well around the ground to penetrate both arcs.

#7 James Smith (Gold Coast Suns)

The no-frills defender was terrific with his work off the muddy deck, sweeping up ground balls on the move. Smith racked up 16 disposals across the defensive half, opting to kick more often than not – much like his fellow smaller defenders. His decision making and composure by foot was great, but Smith’s two pick-ups off at pace in the third term caught the eye most.

#9 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions)

Coleman’s major point of difference was his cleanliness in the conditions and while others did well to make one-touch plays at ground level, Coleman also did it in the air. He scooped up a number of his possessions on the move and with opponents in tow, while taking a couple of juggled marks hitting up to at the ball at half-forward. Coleman was productive forward of centre, looking like creating something with ball in hand – shown by his crafty assist for Saxon Crozier in the second term and constant wheeling around to go inside 50. Did not find the goals on this occasion, seeing a set shot fall short just before his goal assist.

#13 Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions)

Another effective mover in the back half, Prest provided a bit of zip out of defence and was constantly looking to get the ball moving. He met the ball at pace when it landed in his area to aid that kind of play, gathering cleanly and rebounding well. His ability to clear his lines saw him penetrate both arcs, having three inside 50s and four rebounds, with his best bit of play a one-on-one win on defensive wing in the third term – made by good body positioning and a nice pick-up to get moving.

#17 Rhys Nicholls (Gold Coast Suns)

Another of the small-medium defensive brigade, Nicholls looked a good mover off half-back. His red boots made him hard to miss, but it was Nicholls’ neat kicking early on that set the tone for his game. He went on to struggle a little in getting the same penetration when it was truly wet under foot, but buzzed around the back half all the same to collect 16 disposals.

#24 Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions)

The Lions Academy standout was one of Queensland’s more productive players on the day, winning an equal team-high 20 disposals in all areas on the ground. While he initially produced his usual running game on the outside with long kicks into attacking 50, Crozier swapped that game for greater influence around the contest when the rain came down. Although he was rushed in possession at times, Crozier’s meters-gained attitude with ball in hand cleared congestion and set his side on the attack – going inside 50 on five occasions. He also managed to find his usual space in the second term and slam home an important goal for the Maroons, which is exactly what we are used to seeing from him.

#26 Alex Davies (Gold Coast Suns)

Davies’ game suited the conditions, with the big-bodied midfielder bustling around packs and forcing his way through at stoppages. His approach was pretty simple, slamming the ball on the boot in traffic and gaining territory for his team – often kicking off one or two steps. He did the hard stuff as well with six tackles and a spoil to kill the ball from a front-half kick-in.

NSW/ACT:

#1 Jackson Tikkeros (Sydney Swans)

The diminutive forward had a purple patch in the third term, coming alive and helping to lift the Rams when it mattered. He took a nice sliding mark on the forward 50 arc but fellow short with his kick, only to charge on to the drop of the ball and snap a goal through heavy congestion in the goalsquare. Only had the eight touches, but his forward pressure was also of note with four tackles.

#8 Oscar Davis (Sydney Swans)

Davis was able to find the ball in all areas of the ground, clearing the ball three times and breaching both arcs (three inside 50s, two rebounds) in his 14-disposal effort. He first caught the eye with a terrific overhead intercept mark going back with the flight in the second term, and went on to rack up the ball well across the day with particular influence in clearing his lines down back in the second half.

#9 Taine Wright (Sydney Swans)

The Swans Academy product was relevant both with the ball and without it, winning 13 disposals and laying seven tackles. His first good bit of play was a flashy gather and spin in the first term, and he continued to stay calm around would-be tacklers by keeping his hands up. Wright had the chance to hit the scoreboard in the third term after intercepting a kick-in, but missed the resultant shot.

#10 Matthew Hamblin (GWS Giants)

Hamlin was an influential contributor in the forward half, having an impact around goal despite not finding them. He looked a neat player when wheeling around and delivering short kicks early on, and found a couple of goal opportunities by being in the right place at the right time. Hamblin marked a quick Marco Rossman snap inside 50 but missed the set shot, he missed another in the third term, before unluckily having an on-target shot stopped in the goalsquare during the final term. Could have been a big day otherwise.

#13 Pierce Roseby (Sydney Swans)

The sub-180cm midfielder was a constant at the centre bounces, digging in for an equal game-high 21 disposals to go with his 13 tackles, four clearances and sole goal. He went about his business with no-fuss accumulation early on, before enjoying a good patch of form in the third term which would result in his goal. Roseby initially had a snap on goal touched, but followed it up with a cool set shot conversion and loved the celebration. A solid outing, and played an important role in the conditions.

#26 Marco Rossman (Sydney Swans)

Arguably best afield with his influence from midfield, Rossman moved forward particularly well with seven inside 50s from his 21 disposals. Not only did he have a lot of touches, but Rossman also had important ones including two shots on goal in the opening term – of which, one sailed through the big sticks. It set the tone for his game, winning the ball at will and proving one of the few who could win it in the air as well with five marks. His positioning was great, and he almost capped off his day with another goal, but saw his soccered attempt touched over.

#27 Coopa Steele (GWS Giants)

Was a bit of a sporadic influence on the game with his 12 disposals, and almost made an ideal start as he read the ball well front and centre inside 50 but missed the snap. He would go on to correct that shot with an important goal in the first minute of the final term, banging the ball home from long range as he positioned in front to win the cleared ball and put the game beyond doubt.

#34 Sebastian Quirk (GWS Giants)

One of the better ball winners on the day, Quirk had an influence you had to watch closely – with seven clearances from his 18 disposals and a lot of inside work. The GWS Academy member was the beneficiary of a 50-metre penalty in the second term when putting through a goal, but had more say around the congestion. Quirk also took a nice overhead mark on defensive wing to show some strength, and did well to push the ball in and out of either arc.

#35 Fraser Kelly (GWS Giants)

Kelly played the conditions well with his approach, tackling aggressively and pushing his side forward. He caught the eye with a really clean pick up amid the worst of the downpour in the second term, and would go on to win 12 disposals, three clearances, and three inside 50s in a solid outing.

#39 Marc Sheather (Sydney Swans)

Has played in all sorts of positions for the Rams and looked comfortable down back as an intercepting type. Sheather plays above his 185cm height given his strong frame, and has really clean hands overhead. While he didn’t always get to show that, he was an efficient figure in the back 50 and hardly made a mistake. Was the main repellant for NSW/ACT, rebounding seven times from his 17 disposals and doing most of his work by foot.