Tag: giants academy

Ones to Watch: 2022 Northern Academy prospects

WITH the likes of Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast SUNS), Tom Green (GWS GIANTS), and Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans) among the many great Northern Academy products, there are always prospects of note coming out of each region in an AFL Draft sense. While there may not be as many featuring at the top end of this year’s crop, there are still a bunch to consider and plenty more for the future. In a special Ones to Watch edition, we take a look at some of the Northern Academy talents to keep an eye on ahead of next year’s intake.

BRISBANE LIONS

Jaspa Fletcher

Fletcher has somewhat a double-link to the club, being not only an academy member but also a father-son prospect, with his father Adrian playing 107 games for the Brisbane Bears/Lions. Fletcher looms as one of the top Northern State talents heading into 2022, with his speed and class by foot two standout attributes in his game. Fletcher is also extremely versatile, able to fill a role up either end, on a wing or right in the thick of things in the engine room, giving whichever team he plays for a lot of options.

Riley McMillan

A creative player in the forward half of the ground, McMillan has a lot of tricks to win the ball and get himself out of congestion, combining his speed and agility to get clear from opponents and then use the ball well by foot to get it to his teammates. When McMillan has run through the midfield, his positioning around stoppages has been consistently good, with his clean hands in close a crafty weapon.

Bailey Tome

A hard at it inside ball winner, Tome is the type of hard-working midfielder that makes life easier for the outside runners. With impressive movement that allows him to keep up with most opponents and be able to tackle as soon as they grab the ball, it is not uncommon to see Tome lay three or four tackles in a short period, as is his relentless approach.

Others:

Ravi Schofield is an exciting forward that can pinch hit in the midfield and use his athleticism as a weapon. Benjamin McCarthy plays as a reliable defender who can also fill a role forward. Liam McNeil and Thalayn Ryschka are two impressive ruck options for 2022. Will Ashcroft, whilst not an academy prospect, is tied to the club via father-son rules as the son of Marcus. He looks an early top five contender and is currently plying his trade for the Sandringham Dragons at NAB League level.

GOLD COAST SUNS

Jared Eckersley

A high-leaping running defender, Eckersley is another Broadbeach product that was able to impact at Under 19’s level in 2021. He was consistently a roadblock to opposition attacks, contesting well with his spoiling and rebounding effectively with his long kick to get his side back in its front half from defensive 50. 

Cody Harrington

Utilising his speed and smarts, Harrington is a constant danger in the forward half of the ground and can hurt the opposition in plenty of ways. Coming from talent factory Broadbeach, whilst Harrington is more than capable of playing a traditional small forward role, he’s an aerial and one-on-one marking threat, making him a difficult match up for one defender to deal with. To go with all this, Harrington is also a solid tackler, taking opponents down more often than not when he gets a hold. Harrington is a goal sneak as well, able to kick them from anywhere or set them up by hitting teammates with his deadly kick. 

Campbell Lake

Popping up all over the ground regardless of his starting position, Lake is a hard working midfielder with genuine will to run both ways and win the football. A Labrador product, Lake combines this work-rate with quality disposal, particularly when heading inside 50, often looking to hit up leading forwards or putting it where he wants them to go.

Others:

Levi Fyffe and Joshua Young are high leaping and exciting forwardline targets who have formed a dangerous duo when playing together, with the two often working up the ground as well to be link up options. Kye Reynoldson is a winger who can also play half-back that turns opponents inside out with his evasiveness, and possesses a penetrating kick. Taine Dawson rotates between the forward line and the ruck, with some impressive speed off the mark and a high leap that makes him a danger around the ground.

GWS GIANTS

Angus Curry

Currently boarding as Wesley College, Curry has had a few more chances to impress than a lot of other Northern Academy prospects for 2022; playing for Wesley, Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 17 series and the GWS Academy at different times. Curry doesn’t let his shorter stature hold him back, showing a lot of tenacity with his approach to contests and tackles, but also balancing that with quality ball use when he wins it.

Luke Lawrence

Looming as a dangerous midfielder that can rest forward in the future, Lawrence has made the most of his limited appearances in 2021 – including a three-goal haul in his only NAB League appearance. Mostly playing through the midfield through the academy series, Lawrence’s ability to get away from, or around, opponents with his speed and agility is eye catching, while his ability to find the right handball option in close most impressive.

Dayne Posthuma

Posthuma is a no fuss tall defender, remaining consistently accountable for his own opponent whilst drifting across and intercepting in front of contests to aid his teammates. The 197cm Queanbeyan product has a good leap and read of the ball, as well as a deceiving amount of speed, where he usually follows up with clean ball use.

Others:

Nick Madden is a strong bodied ruck who is already 203cm and is strong one-on-one, providing headaches for opposition as he positions down the line to take intercept marks. Harry Rowston is an in and under midfielder that can be damaging with his disposal, able to get through traffic and provide second efforts. Nathan Battaglia provides an athletic option up forward capable of getting high on opposition shoulders with plenty more to work with going into the future.

SYDNEY SWANS

Tye Gander

An athletic medium forward option, Gander is electric around the contest and even more exciting when leading up at the footy, getting on an opponents’ shoulders without putting a hand on them and sticking high marks or selling candy to open up more space, Gander is capable of it all. His leap is such a strength it is not uncommon to see him rotate through the ruck and win some contests, then follow up his own tap at ground level.

Billy King

A physically imposing but also athletic ruck and forward option, King wins most ruck contests he attends; able to out-body opponents well, but just as capable of leaping over them even when giving up a little bit of height. What makes King so dangerous is his strong marking when resting forward and good leading patterns, making him a danger when he gets on the move inside 50.

Joshua Nicholls

With a nice bit of speed to help him, Nicholls can fill in role up either end, on a wing or even through the midfield, applying the same level of intent to win the ball and use it. A jack of all trades type, Nicholls is good across the board with his skills and footy IQ, making him particularly dangerous when given the freedom to roam around the ground and impact where he sees fit.

Others:

William Sabolch is a solid defender that can run through the midfield, with his ball use particularly impressive out of the back half and resulting in a lot of attacking plays. Bililign Robertson plays mostly on a wing but is more than comfortable in congestion where he can find a backwards handball option, whilst Christian Webster is a taller option that can play up either end with a good mark. Indhi Kirk, the oldest child of Brett, is also in the academy and possesses some impressive tricks as a small forward, whilst fellow club legend Michael O’Loughlin has had his nephew TJ Speedy Coe recently switch across from rugby, bringing a lot of speed and excitement to the forwardline.

Kai’s the limit for talented Watts

FOR many young guns coming through the ranks in their football career, the journey contains big cities and luxury to support their career. For GWS Academy member Kai Watts, it’s a three-hour bus ride on the way to brutal fitness testing. This is a sacrifice he is willing to make in order to follow his dream of making the AFL in the upcoming draft.

A speedy mid-forward, Watts began his football journey in Wagga Wagga, playing in his hometown for the first 15 years of his life. Watts then moved to Sydney to complete his year 11 and 12 studies, but his football passion remained, playing for the Western Suburbs Magpies at Premier League level.

Watts says his football journey looked a second priority, before a surprising decision saw him focus all his energy on the sport he thrives in.

“Obviously I came through from under-12’s and 13’s, but I wasn’t really doing much Academy. I was more choosing another sport over AFL.

“I turned the tables one day and just wanted to focus on footy, and from under-15’s, 16’s, 17’s and 18’s now, I’ve just been with the Giants and loving every moment of it.”

Watts has been one to keep an eye on for a number of years now, but his shining moment came in 2019, winning his state’s Under-16 MVP award.

With the ability to both use his speed in the midfield, and hit the scoreboard in the forward line, Watts will likely prove quite a valuable asset with the shape of the modern game, with mid-forward rotations nearly essential at the top level, especially with his strong skills by foot and ferocious tackling.

With midfielders only getting taller as the game goes forward, Watts claims he thrives on playing against bigger bodies, allowing him to use his strength around the contest.

Now deep into his journey to the AFL, Watts says he still has plenty of fun running on to the field with some of his mates who have shared the journey along the way.

“I love playing footy against them when we play intra-clubs, but when I’m on their team it’s always good fun.”

With the 2021 AFL draft just around the corner, Watts says he will be looking to improve his fitness levels moving forward, a goal quite achievable given his current work ethic holding him in good stead for a number of years.

Despite a COVID-interrupted season, Watts has still managed to catch the eye of spectators when he has been able to hit the field, so expect to hear more about him in the next couple of months.

 

Picture credit: GWS Giants Academy via Facebook

Driscoll’s unique traits stand out for a “big fella”

JACK Driscoll is one of many AFL Draft hopefuls who had their 2020 season derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and look to have had the last couple of months of 2021 also under a cloud of uncertainty. The 200cm ruck/forward has some unique traits that even he admits are different for a “big fella”, and hopes that perhaps they will stand out to club recruiters be it now or into the future.

Coming into the 2021 season, the top-age talent who turned 19 in April, weighed in at 82kg to go with his two-metre frame, something he hoped to work on throughout the year. If there was one positive to come out of the current situation, it would be the fact that Driscoll, like many other aspiring draftees, has the ability to continue to work on those areas in his own time. Speaking to Draft Central at the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) preseason testing day, Driscoll said that he was hoping for a big year.

“Fitness would be number one (improvement) and building up my body,” he said. “I could probably get a bit fitter and stronger around the ground.”

Whilst he might need to build up his endurance and strength – which was not helped by a minor ankle injury prior to Christmas delaying his preseason – Driscoll said his athleticism and skills were self-proclaimed strengths in his game, and hopefully would catch the eye of recruiters.

“I think for a big bloke I’m pretty athletic,” he said. “Not the fittest person, but marking would be one of my strengths and skills for a big fella.”

Driscoll hails from a little town not far from Wagga Wagga, and has gone through the pathways including the GIANTS Academy and Allies, though is still yet to run out for the Allies after the 2020 carnival – and looking more and more likely the 2021 carnival – is all but done and dusted.

“I’m from a little town called Yerong Creek which is about half an hour from Wagga,” Driscoll said. “I grew up and played for The Rock-Yerong Creek, joined the GIANTS Academy in Under 16s, made Rams that year and then 17s, 18s with GIANTS obviously, was in Allies squad for last year and now I’m here.”

Driscoll would have likely been the starting ruck for the Allies this year, but will have to rely on performances earlier in the year where he was able to present as a key forward as well as roll through the ruck. His goal at the start of 2021 was clear.

“Obviously get drafted,” Driscoll said. “But just play the Academy games get a few wins, and Allies hopefully later in the year.”

He was able to play the Academy games and be named in the Allies squad, and though it is more and more likely the opportunities at the national carnival will be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic in NSW and Victoria, Driscoll still put together some solid performances for the GIANTS Academy, slotting two goals from his four games, and averaged 8.3 disposals, 2.0 marks and 6.8 hitouts in that time, as well as an inside 50 per game.

“Competitive” Voss looks for consistency

WATCH Patrick Voss once, and you will know exactly what he is about. The hard-at-it Oakleigh Chargers utility brings a physical, no nonsense kind of style to the field, sighting “competitiveness” as one of his strengths. With powerful fend-offs, bruising tackles and strong overhead marking, the 18-year-old has certainly lived up to that call in 2021.

The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants Academy member, who hails from Wagga Wagga, said during preseason that he was looking forward to getting a run in midfield this year. Having started up forward for Oakleigh before transitioning down back and enjoying spurts in the engine room, Voss has seen a bit of everything.

“I’ve improved on my fitness and that side of things,” Voss said. “I’m more a key forward but also through Giants and maybe Oakleigh I’m looking to play a bit in the midfield. I’ve been working on that side of the game so I’m looking forward to it.”

Along with the shift in roles, the versatile 192cm talent has been able to string together a good run of games at NAB League level despite the many disruptions. Voss turned out six times for the Chargers and once for the Giants Academy, linking with a few old mates in May. Some of the “consistency” he found lead to selection in the Under 19 Allies squad.

“A bit like the other boys, I want to play some consistent footy,” he said. “That’s with the Giants and I’m in Melbourne so hopefully I can play some consistent footy up there and get a few games with the Allies.

“I’m definitely looking forward to playing with Lachie Rankin, Alex Lukic, all the boys. Then with the Giants, probably my best mate Josh Fahey, I haven’t played with him for a while so it should be good.”

Patrick Voss representing the U16 NSW/ACT Rams in 2019

Developing a sense of consistency can be difficult at the best of times – especially in the current climate of uncertainty, or when you’re representing multiple teams. Voss has been tied to his local side, the Giants Academy, Oakleigh Chargers, Wesley College, and the NSW/ACT Rams and Allies at representative level over the years.

Still, he has managed to develop his game at the high level those sides compete at, with some more improvements to come.

“I’m pretty competitive and big-bodied so that works to my advantage a bit,” Voss said. “There’s lots of things I can improve on. Probably using both sides of my body and using clean hands, stuff like that.”

The season is quickly wrapping up and while hope of completing an improvised NAB League finals series or National Championships remains in the balance, Voss impressed enough to earn a National Combine invite. He is one of five talents out of the NSW/ACT pool to receive such honours, along with 85 other players around the nation.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Academy skipper Frost runs hot in 2021

PART of the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS Academy since he was 12, Sam Frost‘s journey to top-age status hasn’t always been smooth. They 18-year-old, who is also a talented cricketer, has battled injury along the way and worked hard to go from being a “fringe” player to eventually skippering the academy in 2021.

“I was always one who was on the fringe,” Frost said. “I wasn’t getting picked for a few teams and whatnot, but I was a cricketer as well so in Under 16s I chose footy over cricket and put all my effort into that. Obviously when you put your focus into one thing it makes it a lot better than when you’re separating your attention. I think it helped me break into the side for sure.

“I’ve had a fair few setbacks too. In 2015 I had two stress fractures in each foot, so I had to wear two moon boots for 13 weeks which wasn’t great. I had a stress fracture in my back, a broken finger, shin splints and a few other growing sort of things. I’ve been a bit unlucky with a few injuries but had a good preseason this year so I’m hoping to have a big season.”

Frost delivered on that hope in an outstanding NAB League stint with the GIANTS, leading them to four wins in as many games. The defender was remarkably consistent, averaging 28.8 disposals, 6.3 marks and 9.0 rebound 50s per outing, before going on to join the GIANTS’ VFL program for a handful of state league appearances.

As the centrepiece of his side’s back six, Frost showcased his weapons at the Under 19 level. Blessed with a booming kick and eye-catching intercept marking prowess, the budding prospect says he likes to play an “attacking” game across half-back, but still has some room to improve.

“I can probably work on my fitness aspects,” he said. “Also defensively, competing every time and not getting beaten. I just want to be really competitive.”

During preseason, Frost talked up GWS’ academy talent and said he was looking forward to “playing some good footy and getting a few wins” en route to his end goal of being drafted. While his earmarked clash against the Oakleigh Chargers did not eventuate, Frost still managed to tick off those goals.

“I’m looking forward to playing with all the boys,” he said. “I’ve got a few close mates in the group like Josh Fahey and Brad Rauter, but they’re all good players with a lot of talent. It’ll be good to play alongside them and I’m looking forward to it.”

Fahey dashes towards footballing dream

ARGUABLY this year’s leading Northern Academy prospect has turned out for two of them across his footballing journey, but returned home in 2021 as he looks to materialise his AFL dream. That prospect is Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy standout Josh Fahey, and Canberra is home to him.

His academy eligibility was up in the air last year as he moved with family up to Queensland, linking up with the Gold Coast Suns’ program and looking likely to enter the open draft this year. But schooling and the allure of a home within the Giants family brought Fahey back to his roots, also confirming his status as a GWS-eligible talent.

The dashing defender put his name in lights in April, turning out for the AFL Academy in a 130-point thrashing at the hands of Geelong VFL. While the result was not ideal, Fahey took out the MCC President’s Medal as best afield for the Under 19 team, collecting 23 disposals as part of a besieged back six.

During preseason, Fahey highlighted the showcase game as a landmark he was most looking forward to reaching this season. With the opportunity to better his own game by playing alongside the best footballers this country has to offer, Fahey shone.

“Being part of the AFL Academy, playing with the best players in the country I think I can learn a lot off them,” Fahey said. “I’m looking forward to playing with most of the Melbourne boys really. Obviously they’ve got that stereotype down there of how good they actually are… just playing with them I think is going to take my game to another level.”

While injury slightly disrupted his campaign early on, Fahey has also turned out for GWS at state league level this season. Across three games, his best outing came against reigning VFL premier Richmond in Round 5, where he notched 24 disposals. He continued his taste of senior football with local side, Queanbeyan in the AFL Canberra competition, making for quite a diverse schedule.

Hailing from the Canberra region and with family ties in other sporting codes, it has not always been footy for Fahey. The 17-year-old marks his Under 15 SSA All Australian selection as a turning point in his chosen career path, which lead him to state Under 16 selection and the aforementioned AFL Academy honours.

“I’ve only played (Australian football) for five years now,” Fahey said. “I grew up with League and Union my whole life because dad coached Rugby Union at a pretty high level… so I’ve been here for five years and don’t regret a thing coming over.”

“Under 15s was the main thing when I made the All Australian team and was only playing at club level every now and then. That’s probably the main thing that got me over the line really.”

Fahey says tackling is the main facet of either rugby code he has managed to transfer to football. Though it is a strength, the 186cm prospect’s speed and penetrative kick are arguably his most eye-catching traits.

“I wouldn’t say (tackling) is my greatest strength but it’s maybe above average compared to others,” he said. “At the end of the day my game comes down to my kicking and I judge how impactful I was on the field that day through my kicking and targets.”

“The main thing I’m working on is taking my aerial game to another level. Being 186cm I think I can really use that to my advantage this year.”

While current and future opportunities are slightly blurred as most of the nation endures lockdown protocols, Fahey’s end goal is clear – get drafted. The run-and-gun defender has shown top 25 potential at his peak, though the Giants will likely hope to keep that under wraps.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 11

WHILE a bunch of draft eligible prospects earned representative honours on the weekend, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent continues to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age talents have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also get some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football grade.

>> Scouting Notes: Victorian U19 trials

A pair of Northern Knights prospects unlucky to miss out on Vic Metro honours made good of the weekend with promising VFL stints, proving they can adjust to the senior level. Knights co-captain Joel Trudgeon managed 13 disposals, 10 tackles, and two clearances on debut for Carlton, while fellow top-ager Ewan Macpherson returned to the Footscray side and booted two goals from his 11 touches and five marks. The latter is quite used to donning the red, white and blue by now, as another Bulldogs father-son hopeful.

Sandringham Dragons co-captain Darby Hipwell also slotted back into the state league system with the Zebras, after spending his bye week back in the NAB League. The midfielder finished with 12 disposals, two tackles, four clearances, and two inside 50s in his side’s terrific upset win over Richmond.

Most of the NAB League and Academy prospects to get a VFL gig were sighted in Sunday’s Sydney derby, with Greater Western Sydney (GWS) and the Sydney Swans fielding a whopping 16 top-up players between them. The Giants had five, all of whom had their moments in the 38-point win.

Geelong Falcons product Lachlan Kidd notched 16 disposals and three inside 50s, while Murray Bushrangers trio Kade Chalcraft (14 disposals, three clearances, five inside 50s), Thomas Panuccio (13 disposals, three marks), and Cameron McLeod (seven disposals) all productive. Academy talent and Allies squad member Harrison Grintell also got a run, kicking a goal from his nine touches.

Sydney blooded 11 top-up players from four different NAB League regions, with nine of them making their debuts. Cooper Smith (10 disposals, four marks, three tackles) and Logan Young (six disposals, four tackles) had previously turned out for North Melbourne, but swapped their colours for this clash. Smith was reunited with Bendigo Pioneers teammates Finn Ellis-Castle (seven disposals, three marks, 0.2), Ryan O’Keefe (six disposals) and Cobi Maxted (one goal), who all lined up against former Pio, Will Shaw.

There were four Geelong Falcons afield, in Kyle Skene (10 disposals, five tackles), Gennaro Bove (nine disposals, three marks), Sam Witherden (eight disposals, three tackles) and Will Kilpatrick (four disposals, two tackles). Bove is a leader among the Falcons group, while Witherden is the brother of West Coast’s Alex and Kilpatrick is a Geelong Cats father-son hopeful (son of Glenn).

Rounding out the selection was a pair of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) talents, with top-ager Fraser Marris crossing from the Geelong VFL program to snare a goal from eight touches, while 17-year-old Isaac Lovison had it nine times and laid three tackles in his first taste of state league football.

Image Credit: Mike Owen/AFL Photos

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 9

FULL competition resumed in the NAB League, with seven games played across Round 9 as metropolitan regions returned to the fold. Four of the fixtures were decided by 33 points or more, with Dandenong romping to the weekend’s widest margin of victory (97 points), while the GIANTS Academy rounded out their undefeated cameo with a one-goal triumph. Check out the key performances and stats in our weekend snapshot, with Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 7.10 (52) def. by NORTHERN KNIGHTS 14.10 (94)

IN A SENTENCE:

The determined Northern Knights stormed Warrawee Park to take home a rare win over Oakleigh, beating the Chargers by 42 points on the back of a five-goal opening term and consistent scoreboard pressure.

TEAM STATS:

  • Northern Knights won the disposals (326-279), handballs (153-112), and inside 50s (42-36)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the tackles (60-57) and hitouts (35-26)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers) 37 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Patrick Voss (Oakleigh Chargers) 20 disposals, 9 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers) 14 disposals, 8 marks, 1 rebound 50, 4 hitouts, 1 goal
  • Josh Ward (Northern Knights) 34 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) 30 disposals, 8 marks, 9 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal, 3 behinds
  • Jason McCormick (Northern Knights) 7 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 4 goals, 2 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Josh Ward (Northern Knights)
4 – Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights)
3 – Jason McCormick (Northern Knights)
2 – Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – Patrick Voss (Oakleigh Chargers)

NEXT UP:

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons | Saturday June 26, 10:45am @ RSEA Park
Northern Knights vs. Calder Cannons | Saturday June 26, 2:15pm @ Preston City Oval

GWV REBELS 11.8 (74) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.5 (41)

IN A SENTENCE:

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels boosted their buffer atop the table with a 33-point win over Murray, kicking away via seven goals across the second half.

TEAM STATS:

  • GWV Rebels won the handballs (199-85), tackles (92-76), and hitouts (55-26)
  • Murray Bushrangers won the rebound 50s (33-25)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) 34 disposals, 3 marks, 9 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 goals, 2 behinds
  • Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels) 35 disposals, 4 marks, 12 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels) 31 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers) 25 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Kade Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) 17 disposals, 1 mark, 9 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers) 17 disposals, 5 marks, 5 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
4 – Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels)
3 – Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels)
1 – Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)

NEXT UP:

GWV Rebels vs. Western Jets | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ Mars Stadium
Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers | Sunday June 27, 1:00pm @ Victoria Park (Echuca)

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 12.11 (83) def. EASTERN RANGES 5.5 (35)

IN A SENTENCE:

Sandringham Dragons dominated territory and did enough to penetrate a plucky Eastern Ranges defence, winning by 48 points on home turf.

TEAM STATS:

  • Sandringham Dragons won the handballs (139-96), inside 50s (64-33), and hitouts (45-21)
  • Eastern Ranges won the kicks (186-175), rebound 50s (51-28), and marks (94-82)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons) 31 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons) 19 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges) 29 disposals, 8 marks, 10 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges) 26 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 9 rebound 50s
  • Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges) 13 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges)
3 – Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
1 – Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons

UP NEXT:

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Saturday June 26, 10:45am @ RSEA Park
Eastern Ranges vs. Geelong Falcons | Saturday June 26, 1:00pm @ TBC

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 8.16 (64) def. TASMANIA DEVILS 8.10 (58)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy capped off its unbeaten NAB League cameo with another tight victory, this time by six points as the GIANTS snuck past Tasmania Devils.

TEAM STATS:

  • GIANTS Academy won the disposals (338-322), handballs (150-133), and inside 50s (57-35)
  • Tasmania Devils won the rebound 50s (49-27) and tackles (54-44)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy) 30 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 10 rebound 50s
  • Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy) 29 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Luke Fellows (GIANTS Academy) 28 disposals, 5 marks, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) 29 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s
  • Ryley Sanders (Tasmania Devils) 25 disposals, 8 marks, 3 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils) 15 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy)
4 – Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy)
3 – Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils)
2 – Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils)
1 – Luke Fellows (GIANTS Academy)

UP NEXT:

Tasmania Devils vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ UTAS Stadium

CALDER CANNONS 10.12 (72) def. WESTERN JETS 8.9 (57)

IN A SENTENCE:

A three-goal flurry in the final term saw Calder Cannons open up a tight contest against the Western Jets, eventually coming away 15-point victors at RAMS Arena.

TEAM STATS:

  • Calder Cannons won the disposals (317-279), kicks (206-149), and marks (114-58)
  • Western Jets won the handballs (130-111) and rebound 50s (32-31)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) 32 disposals, 10 marks, 6 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Josh Goater (Calder Cannons) 28 disposals, 9 marks, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Sam Paea (Calder Cannons) 13 disposals, 8 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 goals, 2 behinds
  • Harrison White (Western Jets) 23 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Billy Cootee (Western Jets) 22 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Paul Curtis (Western Jets) 11 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 goals, 2 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
4 – Sam Paea (Calder Cannons)
3 – Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2 – Billy Cootee (Western Jets)
1 – Harrison White (Western Jets)

NEXT UP:

Calder Cannons vs. Northern Knights | Saturday June 26, 2:15pm @ Preston City Oval
Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ Mars Stadium

BENDIGO PIONEERS 6.10 (46) def. by DANDENONG STINGRAYS 22.11 (143)

IN A SENTENCE:

Dandenong Stingrays overwhelmed the Bendigo Pioneers forward of centre, accelerating to a 97-point victory on the road with 33 scoring shots to 16.

TEAM STATS:

  • Bendigo Pioneers won the rebound 50s (36-31) and tackles (52-48)
  • Dandenong Stingrays won the kicks (197-150), marks (83-48), inside 50s (59-38), and scoring shots (33-16)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Bode Stevens (Bendigo Pioneers) 17 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 5 rebound 50s
  • Cooper Smith (Bendigo Pioneers) 17 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s
  • Jack Stewart (Bendigo Pioneers) 15 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Bryce Milford (Dandenong Stingrays) 16 disposals, 6 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 goals
  • Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays) 22 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 6 inside 50s
  • James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays) 18 disposals, 6 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals, 2 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Bryce Milford (Dandenong Stingrays)
4 – Colby Nayna (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 – Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Josiah Kyle (Dandenong Stingrays)
1 – James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)

UP NEXT:

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers | Sunday June 27, 1:00pm @ Victoria Park (Echuca)
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Tasmania Devils | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ UTAS Stadium

GIPPSLAND POWER 6.9 (45) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.13 (67)

IN A SENTENCE:

Geelong Falcons stretched its winning run to three games, holding firm against a competitive Gippsland Power outfit to come out 22 points to the good.

TEAM STATS:

  • Geelong Falcons won the kicks (198-166), rebound 50s (35-30), and marks (94-55)
  • Gippsland Power won the tackles (67-57)
  • The inside 50s were level at 41-apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power) 29 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power) 27 disposals, 1 mark, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Will Papley (Gippsland Power) 21 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons) 32 disposals, 9 marks, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s
  • Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 1 goal, 3 behinds
  • Olivier Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons) 20 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power)
2 – Olivier Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power)

UP NEXT:

Gippsland Power – Bye
Geelong Falcons vs. Eastern Ranges | Saturday June 26, 1:00pm @ TBC

PREVIEW | Debuts galore as Metro sides make NAB League return

METRO regions are set to make their long-awaited return to the NAB League this weekend, as the competition extends back out to eight fixtures in Round 9. While fans are still not allowed to attend metropolitan games, one recruiter from each club will be allowed on the scene to observe the next generation of talent, with rules more relaxed at country and interstate fixtures.

As advertised, a bunch of bottom-age prospects will continue to be blooded through the elite talent pathways and there are some absolute gems to keep an eye out for ahead of the Under 17 National Championships. Returning 18th-year and top-age stars also fill out the list of names to watch, while both New South Wales (NSW) academies remain along with the Northern Territory (NT) Thunder.

Scotch College pair Sam Darcy and Scott Beilby have been named in Oakleigh’s side to face the Northern Knights on Saturday morning. Both boast ties to AFL clubs, with the former a Western Bulldogs father-son candidate, while the latter is part of St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy (NGA).

The Chargers will also unveil Tasmanian top-ager Sam Collins, who will make his first appearance for the region having shifted to live in Melbourne this year. 2019 premiership midfielder Fraser Elliot is another 19-year-old back in the mix having had a taste of VFL football, while GIANTS Academy member Patrick Voss is back in Oakleigh colours after earning an Allies nod. Elijah Tsatas is the bottom-ager to watch, an explosive midfielder who was previously sidelined with a broken collarbone.

Northern is also set to blood a couple of promising Under 17s, as coach Leigh Clarke returns to face his former side. Brayden Ham and Josh Hamilton add to those under-age stocks, while Melbourne Grammar student Josh Ward is a welcome addition to the midfield. He’ll operate alongside in-form skipper Joel Trudgeon and Ewan Macpherson, who returns after a stint with Footscray in the VFL.

The day’s other all-metro bout sees Sandringham host Eastern Ranges, boasting mid-season draftee Max Heath. The St Kilda ruck is set to palm down to a formidable midfield trio, which includes co-captain Darby Hipwell, and the newly-formed combination of Finn Callaghan and Charlie McKay. Allies squad member Jack Peris has also been named on the wing.

The midfield battle should be fierce, with Tyler Sonsie and Jake Soligo resuming for Eastern. Dashing top-ager Josh Clarke comes in for his first game in 2021, named in his usual half-back post, while 2005-born talent Nick Watson is in line to make his debut. The diminutive midfielder-forward has serious talent, akin to the likes of Errol Gulden in terms of natural ability which defies his size.

Eastern Ranges half-back Josh Clarke (centre) is in line to return

In the final game on Saturday, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) locks horns with Murray, as Mars Stadium continues to get a workout from the Rebels. Gun inside midfielder Ben Hobbs is set to return for the hosts, named in a forward pocket as GWV boasts an embarrassment of midfield riches.

Allies squad members Toby Murray (ruck) and Cameron McLeod (centre half-forward) are set to rotate through the Bushrangers’ structure, with Carlton VFL listed midfielder Zavier Maher again suiting up for Murray as former Caulfield Grammar schoolmate Josh Rachele comes out of the side.

Sunday’s action starts early as the GIANTS Academy takes on Tasmania Devils in the first game of a Blacktown double-header. Sydney is the other NSW-based academy to play host, taking on the NT Thunder in the afternoon. All four sides boast a bunch of prospects named in the Allies squad, who should acquaint themselves nicely.

Calder and Western battle it out in the round’s sole other metro clash, making for a repeat of the season-opener in Craigieburn. Carlton father-son hopeful Dane Whitnall comes in for his Calder debut, bolstering his side’s spine along with developing ruck Liam Podhajski. The latter is one of a few players afield with VFL experience, including Jets top-agers Cody Raak (defence) and Billy Cootee (midfield).

The in-form Geelong Falcons take on Gippsland Power in Morwell, with both sides having fielded a bunch of up-and-comers of late. Geelong will again go with midfielder Jhye Clark, ruckman Olivier Northam, and forward Will Baker, while Gippsland will be buoyed by the returns of Will Papley and Chance Doultree as Jai Serong goes the other way. 2005-born forward Zane Duursma is again one to watch.

The Dandenong Stingrays enter the fold once again to see out the weekend’s action, travelling to face Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. 2005-born Vic Country Under 17 squad member Harley Reid has shown plenty of promise for the Pios, as one of many under-agers settling into the side. Dandenong will have a bunch of fresh faces take the field too, including 16-year-old Sam Frangalas, along with a strong core of familiar names.

2021 Allies Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 Allies Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with the 39-man squad featuring players originating from four different states and territories. Made up of prospects from the Northern Territory, NSW-ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania, the Allies are set to field a largely competitive team at the upcoming National Championships, boasting a strong core of top-agers. In a quirk not many other squads will have, there were no bottom-agers selected.

Among the talents from each state are Northern Academy products, with the GIANTS, Swans, Lions and SUNS academies represented, along with the Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmanian NAB League side. With stints in the Victorian pathways competition, all five academies have been able to enjoy an extended run of competitive action, with the top echelon of players also filtering into the state leagues.

NSW-ACT and Queensland are set to be the most represented states, with the former producing 15 squad members – including three from the Murray Bushrangers – while the latter lays claim to 13. There were six Tasmanians included, while four hail from the Northern Territory.

There are a few prospects playing outside of their native zonings, with the likes of Patrick Voss and Sam Collins (both Oakleigh Chargers), Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons), Oliver Davis (Adelaide SANFL), and Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder), and Ned Stevens (SUNS Academy) all competing in seperate states. That is not to mention the four Murray Bushrangers representatives; Charlie Byrne, Cameron McLeod, Toby Murray, and Ryan Eyers.

Standouts in the squad include GIANTS Academy gun Josh Fahey, a dashing defender who earned the President’s Medal as best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. Versatile tall, Stevens is also part of the national academy, as is fellow SUNS Academy member Austin Harris and Tasmanian Sam Banks, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

The Allies are set to begin their carnival on July 8 against Vic Country, playing host to the Victorians at Metricon stadium. They then travel to face South Australia at Adelaide Oval on July 24, before taking on Western Australia in Blacktown on July 31, and ending at GMHBA Stadium on August 14 by taking on Vic Country.

Below is a preview of how the Allies team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Charlie Byrne (MB) – Ryan Eyers (MB) – Josh Fahey (GWS)
HB: Bodhi Uwland (GCS) – Jack Briskey (BL) – Sam Banks (TAS)
C: Jack Peris (NT) – Josh Green (GWS) – Saxon Crozier (BL)
HF: Patrick Voss (GWS) – Ned Stevens (NT) – Jye Menzie (TAS)
F: Max Pescud (GCS) – Will Bella (GCS) – Austin Harris (GCS)
FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS) – Brodie Lake (NT) – Oliver Davis (TAS)

INT: Tahj Abberley (BL), Sam Collins (TAS), Cameron McLeod (MB), Toby Murray (MB), Bailey Reeves (GCS), Toby Triffett (BL)

EMG: Toby Alker (SYD), Angus Anderson (SYD), Charlie Bowes (BL), Sam Frost (GWS), Darcy Gardner (TAS), Harrison Grintell (GWS), Thomas Hofert (GCS), Jack Johnston (GCS), Brinn Little (GCS), Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT), Kye Pfrengle (SYD), Liam Puncher (SYD), Felix Rogers (SYD), Pierce Roseby (SYD), Baker Smith (TAS)

FULL SQUAD:

Tahj Abberley (Lions Academy)
Jack Briskey (Lions Academy)
Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
Toby Triffett (Lions Academy)
Jack Johnston (Suns Academy)
Brinn Little (Suns Academy)
Austin Harris (Suns Academy)
Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy)
Max Pescud (Suns Academy)
Bailey Reeves (Suns Academy)
Will Bella (Suns Academy)
Thomas Hofert (Suns Academy)
Josh Fahey (Giants Academy)
Sam Frost (Giants Academy)
Harrison Grintell (Giants Academy)
Josh Green (Giants Academy)
Paddy Voss (Oakleigh Chargers/Giants Academy)
Jack Driscoll (Giants Academy)
Toby Alker (Swans Academy)
Kye Pfrengle (Swans Academy)
Liam Puncher (Swans Academy)
Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
Angus Anderson (Swans Academy)
Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
Sam Banks (Tasmania)
Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers/Tasmania)
Baker Smith (Tasmania)
Oliver Davis (Adelaide/Tasmania)
Jye Menzie (Tasmania)
Darcy Gardner (Tasmania)
Andy Moniz-Wakefield (Northern Territory)
Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Northern Territory)
Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons/Northern Territory)
Ned Stevens (Suns Academy/Northern Territory)
Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers)
Ryan Eyers (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Murray (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)