Tag: Geelong Falcons

Classic Contests: Stacked Knights pip Falcons at home

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 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013 to relive the closest match between the sides in a decade.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 14
Saturday July 27, 2:00pm
Preston City Oval

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 4.3 | 5.4 | 12.7 | 13.10 (88)
GEELONG FALCONS 1.4 | 4.10 | 8.12 | 11.15 (81)

Goals:

Northern: J. Castagna 2, J. Short 2, M. Bontempelli 2, B. Lennon, K. Malone, S. Switkowski, K. Langford, L. Hunt, J. Turner, G. McDonagh
Geelong: B. Beardsell 2, J. Tsitas 2, K. Spokes, M. Buchanan, M. Boag, N. Bourke, M. Thompson, A. Moloney, A. Hickey

Best:

Northern: J. Turner, B. Lennon, J. Kalanj, M. Bontempelli, G. McDonagh, J. Iacobaccio
Geelong: J. Tsitas, B. Beardsell, J. Maishman, F. Fort, J. Nelson, J. Sharp

Draftees in action:

Northern: Ben Lennon, Marcus Bontempelli, Jayden Short*, Jason Castagna*, Sam Switkowski*, Kyle Langford*
Geelong: Lewis Taylor, Nick Bourke, Darcy Gardiner, Sam Russell, Jackson Nelson*, Zaine Cordy*, Teia Miles*

* – denotes bottom-aged

Back in 2013, TAC Cup outings became somewhat of a foregone conclusion for the Geelong Falcons. They sat atop the ladder at 12-1 after 13 rounds, six games clear of the eighth-place Northern Knights who they would meet next. The previous clash between the two sides that year was a one-sided one which saw Geelong salute to the tune of 96 points at Kardinia Park, only consolidating its status as the team to beat at that point.

But things would turn out a little differently in the pair’s next outing, with Northern able to match the Falcons for draftable talent on the day and sneak home by seven points. The Knights boasted their two top-aged draftees for the year in Marcus Bontempelli, while also fielding a bottom-aged group which included premiership Tigers Jayden Short and Jason Castagna. Lewis Taylor was Geelong’s leading top-age prospect as one of seven eventual draftees over the next two years to grace the Falcons’ lineup.

After a first term assault which saw the home side boot four goals to one, the Falcons stormed back hard to level the ledger at the main break. They could have fared much better though, with an effort of 4.10 in front of goal laying bare Northern’s superior handling of the conditions. It was game on and effectively a clean slate heading into the second half with the result hanging in the balance.

While the Falcons would sure up in their forward half with 4.2, Northern showed off some attacking flair with 7.3 as the game began to open up. Taking full advantage of the scoring end, the Knights set up what turned out to be an unassailable three-goal cushion at the final break. It was just enough to hold off the Falcons’ fourth quarter charge, shutting up shop quickly and strongly enough to ensure the four points remained in Preston.

Joshua Turner was named best afield for the winners with 29 disposals, 10 marks and a goal, with Lennon (24, 11, one) and Bontempelli (21, seven, two) not far behind. Bottom-aged Parade College pair Garrett McDonagh and Josh Iacobaccio were also named among the best half-dozen. Richmond duo Short and Castagna each booted two goals, while Fremantle mature-ager Sam Switkowski and Essendon draftee Kyle Langford managed hit the scoreboard, too.

For Geelong, NTFL premiership player James Tsitas was recognised as best for his mammoth 42-disposal and two-goal effort, while Billy Beardsell booted 2.5 and West Coast’s Jackson Nelson (18 disposals, five marks, five tackles) was the sole draftee among the best six. Taylor somehow missed out despite having 38 disposals and eight marks, while the remainder of the Falcons’ draftees were kept relatively quiet.

After claiming the minor premiership with a 14-3 record, the Falcons would only make it as far as the preliminary finals. They were eliminated by eventual premier, Eastern, a fate which Northern suffered at the semi-final stage after accumulating a 9-7-1 record good enough for sixth spot.

Draft Central All-Star Teams: Geelong Falcons

GEELONG FALCONS’ All-Star side is up there with the very best in the country. With stars across every line, the starting 22 features 15 players of whom have at least won a best and fairest or made the All-Australian team. In fact, only three players in the entire team do not have a personal accolade to their name, instead providing some height and depth for the squad.

THE TEAM:

The team itself is star-studded and it is hard to know where to begin. The fact the Falcons have such a strong onball group that the likes of captain Gary Ablett Jnr and Patrick Dangerfield can slide to half-forward flanks – and dominate – is saying something. They have some of the best bookends of the 21st century, and a variety of intercept players and dangerous goal sneaks. In summary, good luck beating this team.

DEFENCE:

The defence will be held down by one of, if not the greatest full-back of the past two decades in Matthew Scarlett. The Geelong legend earned six All-Australians and a best and fairest during his time to go with his three premierships. Holding down the other tall options are Tom Stewart and Will Schofield, who can both be very impressive offensively and defensively respectively.

Providing some defensive attributes and niggle is Steven Baker in the back pocket. He will be able to take over the negating of an opposition small forward, while Collingwood premiership captain and one-time All-Australian Nick Maxwell provides the loose intercept option. He will team up with another legend in the back six, with Luke Hodge also in the starting six thanks to a CV that includes three All-Australians, two best and fairests, two Norm Smiths and four premierships.

On the bench is Lachie Henderson and Matt Maguire, of whom both could play roles in defence, or Henderson could slot up forward as well.

MIDFIELD:

There are elite midfields, and then there is this mind-boggling combination. We already mentioned the rotation of Ablett and Dangerfield off half-forward, and the fact Ben Cunnington, Chris Heffernan and Taylor Adams sit on the pine waiting for their chance says enough about the top-end quality this midfield produces.

On-back, Jimmy Bartel, Travis Boak and Cameron Ling are roving to Port Adelaide two-time All-Australian and one-time best and fairest, Matthew Primus. Bartel finished his career with a Brownlow, two All-Australians and a Norm Smith, while Ling had an All-Australian and best and fairest. Both players tasted success in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 premierships. Boak earned the spot in the midfield with 264 games, 171 goals, 118 Brownlow votes, two All-Australians and two best and fairests, nudging out Cunnington for the starting spot.

On the wings, Jordan Lewis had a 319-game career, and while his accolades are not as high as others, he finished with an All-Australian and best and fairest, playing some of his best years during Hawthorn’s three-peat as part of winning four premierships. Accompanying him on the other wing is former St Kilda now Geelong talent, Jack Steven. While the 183-gamer has battled with injury of late, he has still won four best and fairests and was named in the All-Australian 40-man squad twice.

FORWARD:

The half-forward line is hands down the best half-forward line across the board in these All-Star teams. While you might argue both Ablett and Dangerfield deserve to be playing midfield, it gives the team a better balance that two stars can sit at half-forward and potentially kick bags of goals whilst influencing the game. Between them they have 15 All-Australians, six MVPs, 10 best and fairests and three Brownlows – not half bad.

Then of course there’s Jonathan Brown at centre half-forward. The Brisbane three-time premiership players earned two All-Australians, three best and fairests and a Coleman Medal in his time, slotting 594 goals in 256 games. He teams up with Scott Lucas who managed 471 goals in 270 games, winning a couple of best and fairests and one premiership in his career.

Both Shaun Higgins and Luke Dahlhaus provide some serious X-factor inside 50, with Higgins now up to 220 games and 220 goals, with two best and fairests and an All-Australian. Dahlhaus has 124 goals in 178 games, with a premiership and an All-Australian 40 nomination. On the bench, Devon Smith can come on in bursts and provide that physical pressure inside 50, winning a best and fairest with the Bombers in his debut season with the club.

DEPTH:

With the exception in Stewart, we looked to those with more than 100 games to their names, and the likes of current players, Ed Curnow, Jasper Pittard, Allen Christensen, Gary Rohan, Lewis Taylor and Darcy Gardiner are all still on lists. From past players, Brent Moloney (166 games) has the most with Nathan Foley (154), Leigh Harding (141) and Amon Buchanan (134) the other two with more than 110 games. Looking much further ahead, James Worpel won a best and fairest in his second season with Hawthorn, so in a few years, expect him to be pushing into the side.

Geelong Falcons Player of the AFL Era: Vote for yours via our Instagram

GEELONG FALCONS are up next in our Player of the AFL Era series which will be run through our Instagram channel starting at 12.30pm today. The East Perth All-Star voting was completed yesterday with Dean Cox announced as the winner and captain of the Royals’ All-Star side. Geelong is one of the most talked about ‘footy factory’s’ and it is easy to see why. Names like Gary Ablett Jnr, Luke Hodge, Patrick Dangerfield, Jonathan Brown and Matthew Scarlett hail from the region and every person in the All-Star Player voting has some sort of accolade to their name – a best and fairest minimum.

The voting will run over the next four days starting today, with the winner to be decided by Wednesday night (unless extra time and the full 24 hours is needed in the final vote). The next club involved in the voting process is Geelong Falcons starting on Friday. All eligible players were selected thanks to the Draft Guru site.

Q&A: Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season 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 Geelong Falcons’ Cam Fleeton at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The balanced defender became an integral part of Geelong’s back six in 2019 after making his NAB League debut in Round 8, showing a steep rate of development to earn his spot in this year’s Vic Country hub and as the Falcons’ co-captain. Standing at 190cm, Fleeton was often made to take on the opposition’s number one forward as a bottom-ager, but is ready to unleash his offensive game from the back half in 2020.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

 

MA: Cam, how’s the day been so far?

CF: “It’s been really good. The boys have been up and about, there’s been some really good scores so it’s been a really good start.”


Has the preseason treated you well?

“Yeah it’s been great. The new boys who came down are all committed to the program. Every conditioning session we’ve done, everyone’s getting around each other so the vibes are really good and it’s definitely going to set us up for a good year.”


You came on leaps and bounds towards the end of last year, do you feel you’ve come a long way since your NAB League debut?

“Definitely. I think last year was a bit of a learning curve because it did come down (back) a lot. I had to adjust my usual game to playing a lockdown role more so than being offence-minded. I definitely think I’ve improved, I had a big summer down at the Falcons so it should be really good this year.”


Having both the offensive and defensive traits down back, is that intercept marking something you’re looking to highlight in your game this year?

“Definitely. That’s been one of the things I’ve been working on a lot pre-Christmas and this preseason as well especially. I think this year I can play more offensively than that lockdown role that I probably had to play last year. So I definitely want that to be a really good part of my game.”


What are some of the things you’re looking to develop in your top-age year?

“As you said, definitely my intercept marking. I think if I can get that really good, it’ll definitely help the team as well. Also just keeping that competitive nature that I have, I think it’s a really big part of my game. So keeping that and improving my defensive skills.”


The Falcons have a fair bit of top-age talent this year that gained a lot of experience in 2019, do you feel like that will put you in good stead?

“Yeah definitely. I think the boys had a lot of experience last year as well with us having to play a lot of bottom-agers. This year we’ve still got a really good bottom-age group so it’s going to be a really good year.”


Who are some of the boys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“We’ve got Josh Sorgiovanni who’s coming back from a knee injury last year, he didn’t play at all so it’ll be really good to play with him this year. And I’m definitely looking forward to playing with Ollie Henry again.”


You had a memorable battle with Tasmania’s Jackson Callow last year, are there any opponents you’re looking forward to coming up against?

“I played against Jackson last year, he’s a really good player. That was a really good matchup, it was good playing against someone of that calibre. Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan), from Oakleigh as well. I look forward to playing on him, it’ll be a tough challenge but it should be really good.”

>> MARQUEE MATCHUP: Callow vs. Fleeton

Are you looking to tick off any goals in 2020?

“I definitely think with the list we’ve got, the goal will be to win the NAB League grand final. I think we’ve all got that same mind-set and it’s going to put us in good stead for the year.”

Marquee Matchups: Jackson Callow vs. Cameron Fleeton

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

The next potential pairing under review has already taken place, with Geelong’s Cameron Fleeton and Tasmania’s Jackson Callow matching up on each other in Round 16 of last year’s NAB League competition. A phenomenal game from Fleeton helped the Falcons take four points back home to Victoria, but the quality between the two and their willing competitiveness points toward plenty more cracking scraps in the future.

Geelong’s co-captain in 2020, Fleeton came on leaps and bounds toward the back end of last season, debuting in Round 8 and missing just one game on route to cementing an important role among his side’s back six. At 190cm, the Geelong West product also often saw himself matched-up against the opposition’s number one forward, who usually had him covered for both height and weight. It mattered little, with Fleeton’s coverage of the defensive 50 as a whole and closing speed on the lead making up the size difference.

Callow has been at the forefront of the 2020 draft class since his outstanding display at the 2018 Under 16 Division 2 national carnival for Tasmania, showing off the brute strength and contested marking that makes him such an exciting prospect to this day. Though his best work is done in the attacking half, Callow has also shown he can pinch hit in the ruck and hold his own when swung into defence. Having run out on AFL Grand Final day for the Under 17 All Star showcase and won a TSL premiership with North Launceston last year, the big Tasmanian is a proven performer on the big stage.

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

 

PLAYER PAGES

Jackson Callow
Tasmania/Allies

DOB: June 11, 2002

Height: 192cm
Weight: 88kg

Position: Key Forward

Cameron Fleeton
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: June 17, 2002

Height: 190cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: General Defender

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS:

Callow:

14 games
13.6 disposals (54% contested)
6 marks
1.4 tackles
2.6 inside 50s
1.7 goals (24)

Fleeton:

9 games
15.8 disposals
3.4 marks
2 tackles
4.7 rebound 50s
1.4 clearances

As mentioned, Fleeton came to prominence at the Under 18 level in the back-end of 2019, hardly missing a beat as he slotted into the Falcons’ lineup. The most impressive aspect of his game was the combination of offence and defence across centre half-back; doing his bit to cut off opposition attacks with intercept marks and one-on-one wins, while also rebounding with poise. It showed in his averages of 3.4 marks and 4.7 rebound 50s, and outliers in Rounds 8 (six disposals) and 18 (seven) dragged that disposal average down to just under 16, despite managing over 20 thrice.

Callow’s marking game is reflected in his average of six per game, getting up to as high as 10 against the Northern Knights mid-way through the season. He also notched eight marks on four occasions, and only dipped below five, twice – one of which being against Fleeton. The bigman’s ability to work up the ground and provide a target also showed with his 13.6 average disposals, with heavy opposition attention close to goal only compounding that kind of work. Held scoreless just twice, Callow was constantly Tasmania’s primary target, and his three hauls of four goals prove that.

BEST GAME:

Callow:

2019 NAB League Rd 3 vs. NT Thunder Academy

19 disposals (14 kicks)
8 marks
2 tackles
3 inside 50s
5 goals, 2 behinds

Fleeton:

2019 NAB League Rd 16 vs. Tasmania

21 disposals (15 kicks)
1 mark
3 tackles
10 rebound 50s

It was difficult to whittle down Callow’s single best game given he managed four goals on three separate occasions, but only once did he manage a handful of majors. His bag of five against the NT Thunder Academy in Round 3 came from a season-high 19 disposals and near-best of eight marks, with no opposition able to combat his strength and aerial threat inside 50. Callow was prominent in almost every game he played, but this one just had to take the cake.

We have judged Fleeton’s job on Callow in Round 16 as his best performance for the Falcons to date, despite falling below season highs for disposals (24) and marks (seven). Geelong struggled for wins in 2019, but the youngster’s blanket job on Tasmania’s spearhead went a long way to ensuring they would pick on up on the road, giving it all the more significance. Fleeton’s shutdown work in the air and offensive threat by foot were top notch, making it a benchmark kind of game for the Falcons skipper.

PREVIOUS MEETING:

2019 NAB League Round 16
Tasmania 6.13 (49) def. by Geelong Falcons 8.8 (56)

Fleeton – 21 disposals (15 kicks), 3 tackles, 1 mark, 10 rebound 50s

vs.

Callow – 8 disposals, 4 marks, 1.1

Callow’s second-lowest disposal and mark hauls came against the lockdown job of Fleeton, who adjusted well to blanket a bigger opponent. The Tasmanian’s frustration showed on a couple of occasions as Fleeton and the Falcons got on top, with Callow’s early aerial threat largely accounted for after quarter time. Fleeton looked to be really trusting his marking and disposal by foot, while Callow was tried a touch further afield as the game wore on. Tough day at the office, but a great physical contest between two young guns.

STRENGTHS:

Callow:

Contested marking
Aggression
Strength
Goal kicking

Fleeton:

Intercept marking
Decision making
Defensive rebound
Defensive versatility

For Callow, it is almost a classic case of if you watch him once, you’ve watched him a thousand times. His strengths are obvious from the get-go, with that trademark contested marking and fearless attack on the ball making him such a special talent. Countless opponents found it near-impossible to stop him in the air without help, and Callow’s aggressive follow-up work at ground level on adds another string to his bow. Tough conditions and heavy attention may have sent some of his scoring attempts wayward at times, but Callow is usually a sound kick for goal.

While Callow often uses his strength to outdo the opposition, Fleeton can engage in a variety of ways to shut down his direct opponent. His reading of the game is sound, allowing him to float in from the back or side of packs, while his closing speed means he is seldom beaten on the lead. Fleeton’s work on the defensive side is matched by his output going the other way too, with sound decision making and execution by foot both features of his game. Those kind of two-way defenders are invaluable, and his versatility allows the Falcons to adjust to a variety of set-ups.

IMPROVEMENTS:

Callow:

Versatility

Fleeton:

Size

Draft analysts often find themselves splitting hairs when attempting to pin-point the improvements to be made in a prospect’s game, and it is no different here. The respective improvements listed are not necessarily complete blights on their games, but rather areas which could help take them to the next level.

While he has been employed down back and can do the ruckwork inside attacking 50, Callow’s ability to have the same impact in those areas than he has up forward could help grow his stock even further. With modern day key position players often made to adjust their roles along the line, it certainly would not hurt. An area that has not been listed and is ironically placed in the strengths category is Callow’s aggression. The bustling bigman has been shown to get frustrated in the face of opposition attention at times, something he will unfortunately need to get used to given his immense talent.

Fleeton was one of the players to get under Callow’s skin, and it could have had a few people worried for him given the difference in size. While his versatility is a terrific plus, Fleeton may find it hard to play a pure key defensive role at just 190cm – a bit of an in-between size. His assets help to make up for it at the junior standard, but a more intercept or rebound heavy role will suit him at the next level. Something not listed is also Fleeton’s willingness to make risky kicks going across his defensive 50 arc. While his skill may see them come off more often than not, it could come unstuck with greater pressure applied.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES:

Callow:

2019 NAB League Round 12 vs. Eastern

Callow looked like having a huge game after he booted three goals within the first half-hour, but was clamped well after the main break with Eastern ensuring he would compete against two or three markers in the air.

He started off by winning a ground ball against his direct opponent deep inside 50 before snapping the first goal of the game, following up with a huge pack mark and set shot goal to highlight a scintillating opening.

He also created Will Peppin’s goal after booting his third, marking deep in the pocket and kicking well inboard. His physicality ensured that direct opponents were more occupied with holding him that getting to the ball, and Callow’s work off the deck was scarily good for a player of his size.

Fleeton:

2019 NAB League Wildcard Round vs. Sandringham

Was quite possibly Geelong’s best player given the heat he took on in a key defensive post. Fleeton was as sure as anyone by foot, switching confidently across defensive 50 to try and set the Falcons on the right foot coming out of defence.

Two of his three marks were fantastic too, intercepting strongly in the first term and sticking a one-hander going back in the second to show some courage and athleticism. The bottom-ager was also incredibly composed on the ball, not afraid to take on opponents on the last line and burning one in the second quarter with a good piece of agility after gathering over the back.

Also contributed some second efforts with the result beyond doubt, showing heart on a rough day.

ACCOLADES:

Callow:

2019 Tasmania Devils Best & Fairest runner-up
2019 Tasmania Devils Forward of the Year
2019 TSL Premiership Player
2020 Allies Hub member

Fleeton:

4th in Geelong Falcons 2019 Best & Fairest
2019 Geelong Falcons Most Consistent
2020 Geelong Falcons co-captain
2020 Vic Country Hub member

Classic Contests: Falcons overcome Stephenson-inspired Ranges in Box Hill thriller

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 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016 when the two teams faced off at Box Hill City Oval.

EASTERN RANGES 4.3 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.7 (85)
GEELONG FALCONS 4.3 | 7.5 | 11.7 | 13.14 (92)

TAC Cup, Round 15 | Sunday, July 31, 2016
Box Hill City Oval, 2pm

Future draftees:

Eastern: Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood), Jordan Gallucci (Adelaide), Dylan Moore (Hawthorn), Josh Begley (Essendon), Trent Mynott (Essendon), Sam Hayes (Port Adelaide)
Geelong: James Worpel (Hawthorn), Gryan Miers (Geelong)

Crossing the West Gate and heading up the Eastern to meet the Ranges at Box Hill, the top of the table Geelong Falcons were strong favourites against a seventh placed Ranges outfit. Despite having a ton of talent – almost 20 draftees over the next two years – Eastern was six wins from 14 games with a number of players unavailable throughout the season. The Falcons also had plenty of top-end talent missing, but the game was not without some future AFL young stars in Jaidyn Stephenson and James Worpel on opposing sides.

Both sides hit it off early with neither team able to be split in the first term. From seven scoring shots, the sides headed into the first break with a 4.3 scoreline each and the knowledge that their opposition was not going to back down. Against the odds it was Eastern that broke clear in the second term. The Ranges piled on five goals, largely helped by the influence of Stephenson up forward, whilst the Falcons booted the three to be trailing by 10 points at the break. Again both sides had the same amount of scoring shots, but the 5.0 to 3.2 in favour of the home side was the difference at half-time.

The ladder leaders would get back on track in the third quarter, booting 4.2 to 2.2 and take a two-point lead by the final break, The stage was set for a ripping last quarter, and while there was only a combined four goals kicked between the sides, the tension was unbelievable. Geelong had the lion-share of disposal, recording nine scoring shots to the Ranges’ four. Whilst inaccuracy could have hurt the Falcons, they did enough to dominate the ball and capitalise where possible with forward 50 possession and eventually got the four points, 13.14 (92) to 13.7 (85) in a tight contest.

Tough midfielder, Max Augerinos was named best for the Falcons with 18 disposals, two marks, six tackles and a couple of goals, just ahead of the Falcons top prospect Worpel. He racked up 17 disposals, two marks and a goal, whilst laying a game-high 19 tackles. Harry Benson (14 disposals, three marks and six tackles) and co-captain Cooper Stephens (14 disposals, two tackles) were also named among the best, as were Zachary Zdybel (21 disposals, eight marks, 19 hitouts, two tackles and a goal) and Patrick Killen (23 disposals, six marks and four tackles).  The other drafted Falcon in Gryan Miers was lively up forward with a goal from 17 disposals, three marks and two tackles.

Despite the loss, Stephenson was the clear best on ground, slotting five goals from 14 touches, four marks – two contested – and four tackles, while Trent Mynott (two goals) was busy with 20 disposals, four marks and four tackles. Future Crow, Gallucci was also among the top Ranges, helping himself to 18 disposals, two marks and four tackles, but gave away five free kicks. Working hard through the ruck, Sam Hayes had 33 hitouts from 18 touches, seven marks – two contested – and two tackles in the defeat, while Tate Short and Billy Norris booted a couple of majors each and were named in the best. Of the other draftees, Dylan Moore (18 disposals, three marks and two tackles) and Josh Begley (16 disposals, three marks and eight tackles) both contributed strongly.

The Falcons would end up finishing second on the TAC Cup ladder and reach a preliminary final but fade away in the second half against Sandringham Dragons. A fortnight earlier, Eastern Ranges would fall two points short of the Dragons on their way to the 2016 TAC Cup premiership.

Classic Contests: Falcons pip Jets in a mid-season thriller

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 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the two sides played out a thriller in Williamstown.

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 7.4 | 8.8 | 9.10 (64)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 5.2 | 9.4 | 10.7 (67)

TAC Cup Round 10, 2013
Saturday June 22, 1:00pm
Downer Oval

Draftees in action:

Western – James Sicily, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow, Connor Menadue, Brenton Payne*, Brett Bewley
Geelong – Lewis Taylor, Nick Bourke*, Teia Miles

* – denotes rookie

Geelong scraped past Western in the 10th TAC Cup round of 2013, taking the four points home from Downer Oval in a close encounter. The Falcons came in sitting pretty atop the ladder at 8-1, but suffered a 107-point pounding at the hands of the Christian Petracca-inspired Eastern Ranges in Round 8. Western’s form saw it enter on a two-game winning run, overcoming a 0-3-1 record in the previous month to sit sixth at 4-4-1 overall.

The Jets boasted five eventual draftees on the day, with Hawthorn’s James Sicily the prime top-ager of the group and the only one taken in the 2013 AFL Draft. Three bottom-aged Jets – Dillon Viojo-Rainbow, Connor Menadue, and Brenton Payne – would be picked up in their draft year (2014), while Fremantle mature-ager Brett Bewley eventually earned his spot at the elite level after a fantastic VFL career with Williamstown.

The visitors would have 11 players drafted over the next two seasons, but could only lay claim to three in this clash with 2014 Rising Star winner and new Sydney recruit, Lewis Taylor the pick of the bunch. Bottom-aged utility Teia Miles was also on the park, and has now returned home to Barwon Heads after a six-year career at Hawthorn. Former Geelong Cats rookie Nick Bourke also took the field, finding plenty of the ball through midfield.

The match proved one of two halves, with Western getting the better of the first before Geelong gained the late ascendancy. Three goals to two in the opening term saw the Jets sneak seven points ahead, a margin which doubled at the main break on the back of another four goals to Geelong’s three.

But as champion teams do, Geelong found a way to shift the momentum and swing on top when it mattered, helping themselves to a four-goal to one third quarter to move two points ahead at the final break. The Falcons’ superior finishing despite boasting three less scoring shots gave them the upper hand, as they managed the typically tough Williamstown conditions well.

Geelong would again edge a tense and low-scoring final term by 1.3 to Western’s 1.2, sealing the win with a much more complete second half performance where its midfield began to click into gear, and its forwards would pounce on the third term momentum shift.

Future second round draft selection Taylor was named best afield for his mammoth 37 disposal performance, dominating the ground ball while spreading well to get on the end of 18 handball receives. Bourke and Jacob Sharp also notched up 30 and 28 disposals respectively to aid Taylor with terrific efficiency, while Matthew Boag led the goalkicking stakes (three), and Luke Davis dominated the ruck with 30 hitouts. Miles, the only other Falcons draftee afield racked up eight marks from his 15 touches.

Sicily was, unsurprisingly among Western’s best with 24 disposals and six marks, while Menadue (13 disposals) and wonder-boot Viojo-Rainbow (13) were also recognised for their contributions as bottom-agers. WRFL guns Braden Ferrari and David Iaccarino took out their side’s top votes though, while future St Kilda rookie Payne snagged three goals to also be thereabouts. Bewley had a steady day with 18 touches, while former Williamstown teammate Billy Myers collected the same amount.

The match was the only fixture between the two sides in 2013, as Geelong went on to finish the regular season in first at 14-3, while Western finished fifth at 9-7. The Falcons’ season would come to a disappointing end at the hands of eventual premier, Eastern in the preliminary finals, with Western falling to Calder a week earlier.

Q&A: Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

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 Geelong Falcons’ Tanner Bruhn at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The classy midfielder has long been touted as one to watch come his draft year, earning the MVP award in Vic Country’s 2018 Under 16 side, and becoming a Geelong Grammar First XVIII best and fairest winner in the same year. His father, Matt was also an inaugural Geelong Falcons member, and somewhat of a local legend having won the 1996 Mathieson Medal during his time at Grovedale.

Bruhn managed four games for the Falcons as a 16-year-old, but that total was halved in 2019 as the youngster suffered an injury setback that had him sent in for knee surgery. His two outings at the back-end of last season and an appearance in the Under 17 Futures All Stars showcase game only highlighted Bruhn’s talent, with his stoppage craft and poise on the ball helping him shine.

Another knee setback saw Bruhn sit out the pre-season testing and was set to see him miss the first few rounds of the season, but the unforeseen break in action could come as somewhat of a blessing in disguise for the Newtown & Chilwell product, who can now build towards full fitness and be raring to go once – and if – called upon.

Q&A:

MA: How’s the day treated you so far?

TB: “Not too bad. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to participate with the rest of the group just due to an ongoing injury at the moment, but I think the boys have done pretty well so far and we’ve tested well which is good.”

You obviously had a long-term injury last year as well, how have you found the recovery time?

“Last year was pretty tough obviously missing the majority of the season and not being able to be out there with the boys. “But there was still plenty for me to do in terms of my rehab and then also helping the coaches and the staff on the sidelines. “I think I handled it pretty well and just can’t wait for this season.”

When you have been on the field, how’ve you rated your experience so far?

“Yeah not too bad. “I guess it’s a tough one really, I haven’t played much footy in the last 12 months so looking back; Under 16s, I really enjoyed my time there, then obviously getting the opportunity to play with the Falcons as an under-ager was awesome. “So yeah, just really keen for this year and hopefully I can just put my best foot forward.”

Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off along the way?

“Hopefully just to start the NAB League season off well and then obviously transition into school (football) and hopefully play some consistent footy throughout the year. But just overall to have a healthy season and try to get the best out of myself as possible.”

The Falcons seem to have a lot of talls in the team, are you looking to be that leader in the midfield?

“Yeah I’d say so. Like you said, we’ve got a lot of talls this year and hopefully a pretty strong side so that’s a big part of my game that I try and develop and improve – that leadership side. “So hopefully, we’ll see how we go but yeah, I’ll definitely take it into account for sure.”

You’d be juggling a few commitments with school footy, Falcons, and Vic Country – who are some of the boys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“Definitely. I think with Falcons especially the likes of Ollie Henry and Henry Walsh. “Obviously being able to play with those boys for the last few years has been pretty special so to run out there this year with those boys – I really can’t wait. And then Nick Stevens as well from the Rebels, he’s out at school with me so yeah, there’s a few boys in the numerous teams that I’m in but I just can’t wait really to get out there.”

And being around the Vic Country Hub, how has that aided your development?

“Immensely. “Obviously being in it last year as a bottom-ager, I’ve just grown so much as a player and as a person. “The experiences last year in the hub, there’s just great people there who’ve helped me with my injury and I’ve learned so much and developed heaps. “I really enjoyed the camps as well that we had through December and January and I’m just raring for the season ahead.”

Classic Contests: Falcons scrape home under Friday night lights

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 5 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017 when the teams played out a contest closer than their ladder positions would suggest in a top-versus-bottom clash.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.3 | 5.4 | 6.7 | 11.11 (77)
CALDER CANNONS 2.0 | 4.5 | 7.6 | 11.7 (73)

TAC Cup Round 8 | Friday May 19, 2017
Torquay Football Ground, 7:00pm

Draftees in action:

Geelong – Connor Idun*, Joshua Jaska, Gryan Miers
Calder – Noah Balta, Jack Bytel*

* – denotes bottom-ager

Geelong was flying come Round 8 of the 2017 TAC Cup season at 7-0 and atop the competition ladder, ready to put on a show under Friday night lights against the Calder Cannons, whose 1-6 record had them sitting last. But it did not totally pan out that way in Torquay, with the pesky Cannons outfit out to build on picking up its first win for the year in the previous round. A handful of future AFL draftees would take the field, with breakout Geelong Cats forward Gryan Miers named alongside GWS utility Connor Idun and former Gold Coast rookie, Josh Jaska for the home side. For Calder, Noah Balta was the sole 2017 draftee, playing a forward-ruck role while bottom-aged future Saint Jack Bytel also donned the Cannon. In what was the only meeting between the two teams in 2017, a belter ensued.

Despite being down on three of their eventual five draftees, the Falcons still managed to set up a three-goal buffer in the opening term with unanswered majors from Adam Garner (two) and Ethan Floyd within just under 15 minutes. But the Cannons would hit back through Mohammed Moustafa and Daniel Hanna to trail by nine points at the first break. The hint of momentum continued into the second term too, with Moustafa adding a second early on before a 15-minute stalemate. As Calder closed to within a point, Miers stepped up to boot his first goal and was followed swiftly by Cooper Cartledge to provide a bit of breathing space. But a red time goal to the visitors kept them within striking distance heading into half time.

A boilover looked on the cards come the third term as Balta got on the board after two minutes following a behind from Cassidy Parish up the other end, beginning a chain of two more unanswered goals to Calder. Ben Thomas stood up to somewhat arrest the skid, with Geelong now a goal behind as things began to heat up. The lead would change hands five times in a see-sawing final term, as Thomas’s second goal put the Falcons back in front early in the quarter. The Falcons had chances but could not quite break away, edging 10 points to the good before Jesse Firebrace and Mitch Podhajski stole the lead back for Calder. After Lachlan Noble again snuck Geelong ahead, two more Cannons goals had them seven points in front with under five minutes left to play. But the lead went as quickly as it came as Geelong booted two decisive goals within as many minutes, while Matthew Borg spurned a tough chance late-on as the hosts scraped over the line.

Harry Benson, whose goal proved the match-winner was named best afield for the winners on the back of a monster game, while Parish and Noble also impressed. Jaska was named in the best half-dozen as well alongside Idun, while Miers’ 23 disposals and 2.3 were not enough to earn him the same honours. For Calder, Coburg-listed Brad Bernacki was adjudged his side’s best in front of Balta, while Lions teammate Aidan Tilley also featured alongside Bytel, who managed 32 touches as a bottom-ager.

The overall Geelong 2017 squad would go on to produce 11 draftees, split five and six over the next two drafts and including the likes of James Worpel and Sam Walsh respectively. Miers went on to finish as the competition’s leading goalkicker after booting seven in the Falcons’ famous grand final win over Sandringham in the same year, breaking out for Geelong at senior level in 2020. Calder built well on its 2017 effort with four draftees coming in 2018 including Bytel, Curtis Taylor, and Rhylee West. The Cannons would miss finals despite twice beating the eighth-placed Northern Knights, but won five of their last 10 games for the year.

GOALS:

Geelong: B. Thomas 2, A. Garner 2, G. Miers 2, L. Noble 2, E. Floyd, H. Benson, C. Cartledge
Calder: M. Moustafa 2, N. Balta 2, B. Caluzzi 2, D. Hanna, M. Borg, T. Browning, J. Firebrace, M. Podhajski

BEST:

Geelong: H. Benson, C. Idun, C. Parish, J. Jaska, L. Noble, S. Wolfenden
Calder: B. Bernacki, N. Balta, J. Bytel, A. Tilley, P. Brookes, B. Caluzzi

Q&A: Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

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 Geelong Falcons’ Charlie Lazzaro at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

Lazzaro enters his top-age year on the back of an impressive under-age resume, having represented Vic Country at the Under 16 national carnival in 2018 and notched eight NAB League appearances in 2019. In those eight outings, the 178cm prospect showed his wares as a rugged inside midfielder, averaging 20 disposals, 4.1 tackles, and 4.1 clearances at either end of his school football campaign with Geelong College.

An impressive athlete to boot, Lazzaro lit up the pre-season testing day with a 3.10-second time in the 20m sprint, 7.79 in the agility, and a 21.5 score in the yo-yo test. The St Mary’s product is also looking to expand his game in a more forward-oriented role this year, all while maintaining his effort to be “a well-rounded person” with his studies and passion for psychology in tow. Hear more from the man himself in our Q&A special.

MA: How’s the day been for you?

CL: “It’s been really exciting, Mike. I definitely came here with a mindset to try and get some PBs (personal bests). Obviously it’s a big trip up the highway for all of us (Falcons) to come here this morning, but definitely with the intentions to get some PBs and help support my teammates along the way.”

How do you think you went?

“I ended up getting three PBs today so was really stoked with the outcome of how it all went.. “I’m glad that so far I’ve been able to do that.”

How’s the testing here and getting those PBs going to translate to your game heading into the season?

“Obviously I really pride my game on contested work. “Being only 180cm I think if I can burrow in on the inside and also use my pace and endurance on the outside to generate some ball along the way I think that really compliments the way I play.”

“Hopefully we can string a few more wins together this year, unlike last year unfortunately. “But I think it’ll hold my game in good stead for the future.”

The experience last year for your top-age group now would have been invaluable, do you agree?

“Yeah, definitely as a bottom-ager I think in the final game against Sandringham we ended up having 20 bottom-agers play. “So it really just goes to show that towards the back-end of the year how good some of the bottom-agers were putting games together, and I think if we come together collectively this year we’ll be a very strong side within the NAB League competition.”

You might have a bit on your plate with school footy, Geelong, and Vic Country – how do you balance that and what position do you see yourself playing?

“So I think at the Falcons last year I played a lot as an inside mid with Cooper Stephens going down, however I did spend a bit of time as a small forward and speaking to Leigh Brown and Daff (Luke Daffy) and my school coach, Luke Primus, I think it’d be a strong idea for me to add another string to my bow and play as a small forward.

“Also to give myself a bit more exposure in not exactly one position, but to have two as well. “I think going forward, definitely just developing forward craft, just doing the basics really well – I think all good footballers know how to do the basics really well and I’m just going to try and build my game around that.”

You’re going to be playing alongside a heap of talent in those teams, who are some of the guys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“I think definitely someone who has shot onto the equation recently would be Cam Fleeton. “I’m really excited to play with him, he’s been given the captain’s nod this year with Gennaro Bove as well to lead the Falcons and I’m really excited to play a bit of footy with Cam.

“Someone as well like Ollie Henry, Henry Walsh, Tanner Bruhn – all really good bottom-agers that have really showcased a lot of footy through the last couple of years. I’m really excited for the possible prospect of us all coming together and playing some really good footy.”

Are there any goals personally that you’re looking to tick off this year?

“I think just on top of footy I really do want to do well at school. I pride myself on being a well-rounded person, so a goal of mine this year would definitely be to get a decent ATAR, get through the school year, get through healthy – you can only play footy when you’re healthy. “So if I can stay healthy for as long as possible, hopefully that’ll hold me in good stead for the rest of the year.”

I know footy’s the ultimate goal, but what are you looking to do with your studies?

“I’m actually really passionate about psychology. “Going forward, if I do end up making a career out of footy that’d be great, however I do think I’d like to pursue studies in psychology. “That’s just a real passion of mine and I think it’s something I can take going forward and really look to impact other peoples’ lives and help shed a positive light around mental health and some of the other stigmas around those topics.”

As part of the Falcons’ culture, do they encourage you to have that life outside of football?

“Definitely. Mick’s (Mick Turner) been really big on that, and same as Daff throughout even last year, just saying that obviously at the end of the day if you do have a bad game or you are having a bad couple of weeks, or even if you are having a purple patch, it’s just a game of footy at the end of the day.

“We just really need to look at taking it day-by-day, week-by-week, trusting our process at the Falcons, trusting each-other and I think that’s really just the message that they’ve instilled in us over the last couple of years.”