Tag: Hayden Young

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 5: Pick one down, but draftees fly high

11 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. Top pick Matt Rowell may have been rubbed out early with a dislocated shoulder, but there was plenty to take out of Round 5 for the class of 2019 as plenty of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level. For the first time this year, none of the weekend’s debutants came from the most recent draft, but there promises to be plenty to come.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Hayden Young (Fremantle)

STATS: 15 disposals (10 kicks), 6 marks, 2 rebound 50s, 73% disposal efficiency

The stats may not overly flatter him, but Young is building nicely into is AFL career having returned another strong performance in Fremantle’s first win for 2020. Stationed in his usual defensive post, Young delivered 12 of his 15 disposals from the back half and did so with accuracy. His intercept marking ability is also coming to the fore as he gains in confidence, able to read the ball well in flight and have a crack backing into traffic. At four games into his elite level venture, the Dandenong Stingrays graduate is beginning to bring his best traits forward and has cemented his spot in the Dockers’ side.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)

18 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements

As good mate, Rowell went down, Anderson stepped up to deliver one of his better performances across his first five career games. Continuing in his role on the wing, Anderson got involved in the contest and managed to find the ball in important areas while also fulfilling his defensive duties with 11 pressure acts. The former Oakleigh Charger may have turned the ball over six times amid the heat of the contest, but has impactful touches and has the potential to have a big say once all the factors in his game click.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

15 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 2 score involvements

Ash is another who is beginning to click into gear having been granted ample opportunity upon his AFL berth, and he was among the GIANTS’ top 10 disposal winners in their win against Hawthorn on Sunday. Moving along the line from defence to the wing, Ash was able to penetrate the forward 50 in transition to show a glimpse of his attacking quality, while also providing a safe outlet in the back half. He won half of his possessions in contested situations too, displaying a good appetite for the contest and the rigours of the elite level.

Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

14 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 score involvements

Right behind Ash in terms of disposals was GIANTS Academy graduate, Green with 14. After a breakout game in Round 4 saw him earn a Rising Star nomination, the big-bodied midfielder continued on his ball winning ways to contribute some solid numbers to GWS’ Sunday salute. The GIANTS’ coaching staff has shown great faith in Green in allowing him to run through midfield, attending centre bounces where he thrives on the contested side of the game. He’s another who looks to be locking down a spot, and is providing ample cover some some absent GWS stars.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

10 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 1 goal assist

Following the example set by former Vic Country teammate, Young is Serong, who also played his part in Fremantle’s opening win for season 2020. The diminutive Gippsland Power product is another who has been thrust right into the engine room action at times, holding his own against big-bodied opposition and remaining relevant going both ways. He is proving more comfortable with ball in hand as time goes on, and it is positive that he manages to find it in the first place.

Others in action:

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

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

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

Louis Butler (Western Bulldogs)

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

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

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)

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

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

Matt Rowell (Gold Coast SUNS)

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

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

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

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

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

Others in action:

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

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

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

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

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

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

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

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

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

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

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

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

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

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

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

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

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

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

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

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

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

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

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

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

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

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

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

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

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

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

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

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

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

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

Trent Rivers (Melbourne)

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

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

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

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

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

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

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

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

Luke Jackson (Melbourne)

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

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 7 – Ranges, Devils clinch thrillers

WITH the school football season in full swing and each Northern Academy back on their way past the Victorian border, normality resumed come Round 7 of the 2019 NAB League competition. Dandenong again remained the sole undefeated side after a top-against-bottom clash, while Eastern showed it was there to stay among the top four with a tense win over Sandringham.

But Avalon Airport Oval would play host to the weekend’s opening fixture, with country sides Geelong and Murray travelling to meet in Werribee. The Falcons looked like causing an upset against the inconsistent Bushrangers after a tight first half, but their inaccurate kicking for goal allowed Murray to hang in there and run over the top for a 21-point victory.

Prize GWS draftee and Murray co-captain Lachlan Ash took the field, notching 19 disposals and a goal, while over-agers Ben Kelly (16 disposals, 28 hitouts) and Zane Barzen (16 disposals, two goals) also impressed, and Cam Wild led all comers with 27 touches. Chas Karpala put in a solid shift for two goals from 20 disposals, only beaten by Charlie Harris‘ 21 touches. Husdon Kaak led the goalkicking stakes with five majors, while Geelong bottom-ager Ollie Henry booted three.

Western hosted Dandenong in Saturday’s only other fixture, but could not weather the home conditions in Williamstown as the Stingrays ran out 63-point winners. The visitors were in control all game having fielded a near full strength line-up, leading at every break and capping the result with seven final term goals.

Essendon draftee Ned Cahill was a constant threat up forward with four goals from 19 disposals, while a bottom-aged Eddie Ford was Western’s sole multiple goalkicker (two). The ball winners were out in numbers, as Darcy Cassar led the way with 29 touches, followed by 26 from Hayden Young and 25 from mid-season recruit, Mitch Riordan for the winners. Another 19-year-old, Daly Andrews (17 disposals, one goal) also pitched in among the losing effort for Western.

A much closer contest followed to open Sunday’s proceedings as Tasmania scraped ahead at the ideal time to edge Bendigo in a thriller. The Devils made a great start but were soon pegged back, still managing to lead at every break. That streak looked like being broken by the final siren, Jye Menzie saved the day with a goal after the siren to see his side hold on.

Menzie’s fourth goal came at the ideal time, and ensured he would double the goal tally of any other player afield. Four Pioneers managed multiple goals, with bottom-agers Sam Conforti (30 disposals, two goals) and Jack Ginnivan (27, two) the most prominent. In an even team performance for the Devils, Ben Simpson won the most ball (22 disposals), while third-gamer Isaac Chugg (15 disposals, 1.3) was dangerous and Sam Collins solid across half-back with 19 touches.

Onto the round’s fourth venue, and Gippsland found little difficulty in accounting for Calder on home turf, thumping the Cannons by 51 points as the visitors could only manage four goals for the game. The Power’s scoring flow got going after the main break, as they piled on nine goals to Calder’s three to coast to victory.

A number of eventual Gippsland draftees showed all their quality, with Brock Smith (28 disposals, one goal) leading all comers, while Sam Flanders (24 disposals, one goal), Charlie Comben (22 disposals, 22 hitouts), and Fraser Phillips (four goals) also caught the eye. Jacob Martin again racked up the pill for Calder with a game-high 33 touches, combining well with Daniel Mott (25 disposals) through midfield as Brodie Newman (22 disposals) also fared well.

The Northern Knights and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels also started their clash at 1pm, with the travelling Knights raiding Mars Stadium successfully. The hosts started the better side with narrow leads at the first two breaks, but were overrun by Northern’s nine-goal second half as they went down by 32 points.

Northern’s strong bodies through midfield made their mark, with Sunny Brazier managing three goals from 19 disposals, while Carlton draftee Sam Philp booted two from his 20 touches. Ryan Sturgess also got on the board as he found the ball 26 times, but found himself beaten out by GWV’s Jay Rantall (36 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. Toby Mahony (20 disposals, three goals) and Mitch Martin (18, two) were others to stand up for the Rebels.

Arguably the best game of the lot was left for last as top four hopefuls Eastern and Sandringham locked horns at RSEA Park to see out the weekend’s action. 13 points was the game’s biggest lead – held by the Dragons early on – as the home side managed to nab a lead at the first three breaks. But Eastern would find an extra gear in the clutch, keeping Sandringham goalless in the final term to come away nine-point winners.

Sydney mid-season draftee Cody Hirst raised his hand for a call-up in his final game for the Ranges, amassing 31 disposals while Zak Pretty had a game-high 33 and bottom-aged gun Connor Downie managed 25 to go with a goal. Ryan Byrnes was Sandringham’s best, collecting 28 touches ahead of Angus Hanrahan (27), while Jake Bowey had 23 and Miles Bergman showed glimpses with his 18 touches and one major.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 6 – Academies bow out, Stingrays go top

FANS, recruiters, and pundits alike were treated to another eight games in Round 6 of the 2019 NAB League, with the early-May weekend serving as the last for each of the five Northern Academies’ cameos. Reigning premier Dandenong broke clear as the sole undefeated side left, while Gold Coast was crowned the Academy Series victor via percentage after Sydney lost its only game for the season. A thrilling finals preview also went down as Gippsland and Eastern battled it out, with the Power getting the better of the eventual premiers on home turf.

The round kicked off in North Hobart, with Tasmania playing host to the heavily-depleted Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday morning. It was the visitors who managed to scrape home in a nail-biting, low-scoring slog by the slimmest of margins, overcoming a half-time deficit to keep the Devils at bay. Winning skipper Trent Bianco, the only national draftee afield dominated with 42 disposals as he stepped-up in the absence of some key personnel.

Fellow top-ager Josh May was also influential with 28 touches, while bottom-aged midfielder Fraser Elliot had it 23 times, and Thomas Lovell put in his best shift for the season with four majors. For the Devils, Harrison Ireland was named best for his work as an undersized ruck, with bottom-age gun Oliver Davis getting to work at ground level with a team-high 21 touches, and fellow Allies Hub member Sam Collins not far behind on 18.

The GWS Academy and Murray Bushrangers went to battle on the New South Wales-Victorian border at midday, with the GIANTS coming away with their second win from five attempts. It was a well drawn out win for the ‘away’ side in its home state, leading at every break but being made to earn the 11-point victory. In another game headlined by the dominance of a future draftee, Tom Green amassed 37 touches for the GIANTS in a mammoth performance.

Over-agers Jeromy Lucas (33 disposals) and Ed Perryman (31) were not far behind, while Harry Grant put in a big shift for 3.2 from his 23 touches, and 2020 19-year-old hopefuls Matt McGrory and Liam Delahunty also got busy. Green’s current GIANTS teammate Lachlan Ash collected 27 touches and booted a goal as Murray’s skipper, aided by Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild who matched his ball-winning output. Jimmy Boyer also impressed with three goals from over 20 disposals, while former GWS Academy member Charlie Byrne had 20 touches exactly.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back down to Victoria, as Calder and Bendigo met at Highgate Reserve. It was the Cannons’ day in another low-scoring affair, leading relatively comfortably at every break to eek out a 16-point win over the Pioneers on home turf. The leading Calder draft candidate to that point, Daniel Mott led the way with 36 disposals and a goal in a game which featured just two eventual draftees.

Jacob Martin enjoyed a breakout performance, racking up 36 touches of his own alongside Mott, while skipper Brodie Newman had 21 from defence and Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay had 16 on the same line. James Schischka was Bendigo’s leading ball winner with 20 disposals, with Sydney draftee Brady Rowles collecting his season-high haul of 17 in tricky conditions.

Heading up north to South Pine in the Sunshine State, Gold Coast took out the overall Academy Series with a well-earned 14-point victory over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The visitors pushed the talented academy prospects all the way despite trailing for the game’s entirety, with captain and SUNS AFL rookie Connor Budarick capping off a stellar month with another terrific performance.

His 23 disposals led all comers, with the exciting Hewago Paul Oea managing 19 and two goals, while Ashton Crossley provided good fold in midfield with 19 touches. Bottom-ager Max Pescud booted a game-high four majors, matched by Rebels’ Nick Caris in his second consecutive four-goal game. 2020 over-age hopeful Isaac Wareham notched two goals of his own, with fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Martin also impressing, but Jay Rantall kept quiet at just 14 disposals.

Completing the South Pine double-header were the Brisbane Lions Academy and Dandenong Stingrays, with the visitors claiming a resounding 71-point win on their travels up north. After a low-scoring first half, the Stingrays clicked into gear after the main break with 10 goals to one to comfortably ensure they would remain undefeated and atop the NAB League ladder.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn stood tall in the defeat with a typically professional 32-disposal performance, with fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland (26 disposals) also returning a good shift. 19-year-old Tom Matthews matched Cumberland’s effort, with bottom-agers Will Tasker and Tahj Abberley also impressing. For Dandenong, new Bulldog Cody Weightman bagged three goals, while fellow draftees Hayden Young (28 disposals), Sam De Koning (17, seven marks) Ned Cahill (21, 1 goal) strutted their stuff. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was another to catch the eye, booting two goals from 21 touches.

A touch earlier and back in Victoria, the Geelong Falcons proved too good for the previously undefeated Sydney Swans Academy in their clash on neutral territory, upsetting the northern hopefuls with a 31-point win. The home side’s four-goal to one fourth term sealed the final margin, with the contest a touch tighter to that point.

It was the bottom-ager who stole the show in this clash, as Ollie Henry booted four goals for the Falcons alongside Charlie Brauer‘s two, while Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden both managed 22 disposals and a goal each. Geelong captain Jesse Clark was the leading ball winner on the ground with 25 touches, followed closely by Sydney top-ager Sam Thorne (24).

Not much may have been expected of the Gippsland-Eastern clash coming into the season, but it proved to be a belting finals preview as the Power took out the four points in Morwell. The game was tight the whole way through, with the high-quality contest ending in a 10-point triumph to the home side.

As had been the case in previous fixtures, the cream rose to the top as Sam Flanders (25 disposals, two goals), Brock Smith (27 disposals), and Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) all enjoyed fantastic outings for the winners. The midfield trio of Zak Pretty (28 disposals), Lachlan Stapleton (28), and Mitch Mellis (21) was just as handy for Eastern, while forwards Bailey White and Ben Hickleton notched three goals apiece.

The final game of the round saw a seventh venue used in Ikon Park, as the Northern Knights held off a fast-finishing Northern Territory Thunder Academy. A six-goal third term saw the Knights double their goal tally, and it set up a match-defining margin as they went on to salute to the tune of 38 points. The NT’s campaign would finish winless, but not for a lack of trying and talent.

Josh D’Intinosante and Jackson Davies both had a good amount of ball while also booting two goals each for the winners, while 2020 Vic Metro Hub member Liam McMahon also managed two goals from his 15 disposals and eight marks. Ben Jungfer was the Thunder’s leading ball winner with 22 touches, but it was Malcolm Rosas Jnr who shone with 21 and two goals, while Joel Jeffrey found the ball 21 times, Beau O’Connell 19, and Brodie Lake 16.

Q&A: Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers/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 Bendigo Pioneers’ Sam Conforti at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The diminutive midfielder-forward has been a feature for representative sides throughout his junior career to date, running out in Vic Country’s trial games last year after skippering the Under 16 side in 2018. Now a leader among the Pioneers group, the 173cm prospect will be looking to crack a National Championships berth after putting together a 16-game season for Bendigo in the NAB League across 2019. Much of Conforti’s experience has come through midfield or out on the wing, but he is now poised to lock down a role up forward where his agility and pressure around the ball will be invaluable.

Q&A

MA: Sam, you’ve just come off the yo-yo test – how’d you go?

SC: “Not too bad, I think I ran a PB (personal best) so I’m pretty happy. “Collectively, the boys ran pretty well so I think we’re all pretty happy.”

Is the running, particularly on the outside something you’re looking to bring into your top-age year?

“Definitely, trying to lead by example and trying to work both ways. “Obviously it’s good to run forward but, but we try and run back to help the backs out as much as we can as well.”

What sort of role are you looking to nail down this season, maybe a forward role?

“Yeah, this year I’ve moved forward. I’m trying to play a bit of a high half-forward role, trying to get up the ground to try and create in our forward half. “So I’ll probably just try and nail a forward role.”

Being through the Vic Country system for so long, how’s that aided your development?

“It’s helped heaps. I got to learn off the likes of Caleb Serong, Brodie Kemp, and Hayden Young last year and then even the boys around me at the moment – Elijah Hollands, Tanner Bruhn just to name a (couple). “Being around that sort of environment helps my leadership going back to Bendigo as well and trying to drive a good standard. So yeah, it’s been really good.”

Who are some of the Bendigo boys you’re looking forward to running out with?

“I think we had about five in the Vic Country Hub this year so we’re good across the top-agers. “Josh Treacy, Jack Ginnivan, and Seamus Mitchell are all good ones to learn off as well. “They really drive the standards back at Bendigo and even Jack Evans and the likes of that are also pretty handy too.”

In terms of your goals, how will you rate the success of your season by the end of it?

“Well hopefully team success, it’s probably the biggest one for me. “So hopefully winning the NAB League would be nice but as far as on-field goes, just trying to play consistently, to stay in the side and play my role for the side.”

Wareham enjoying the moment as he eyes second chance

AFTER injury curtailed his year, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Isaac Wareham is hoping to make the most of a second chance after being picked as one of the overagers in the Rebels’ squad. There is still much unknown about the season or drafts, but Wareham is just taking each moment as it comes.

Born on Christmas Eve, had Wareham been born a week later, he would have had his top-age year in 2020. Nonetheless, the talented midfielder was top-age last year, and copped an injury at the worst possible time later in the season after a promising first half of the season and representing Vic Country at the AFL Under 18 Championships. Speaking to Draft Central at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, Wareham said he was looking forward to having a full season after overcoming injury in his top-age year.

I’ve been with the Geelong VFL at the moment as an overager and they’ve done heaps for me, which has kind of helped me out me through the offseason and hopefully that can get me playing some good footy this year,” he said.

The decision to come back as a 19-year-old talent – even though if Wareham was to be drafted at the end of the year he would still be 18 on draft day – comes down to the individual, his club and interest from AFL recruiters. With an invitation to the State Draft Combine last year, Wareham had his suitors and GWV Rebels Talent Manager Phil Partington believes if it had not been for injury, the slick midfielder would be on an AFL list now.

“Isaac, unfortunately we probably wouldn’t be talking about him now if he played the last six games of the year without injury, he missed the last half of the year after the national championships,” Partington said. “He’s born on 24/12 so he’s a very young boy still and only a week from being a NAB League player officially as an 18-year-old this year.”

It was Partington’s support that helped Wareham make the decision to return to the Ballarat-based club for another year, while being listed on Geelong’s VFL list.

I think any chance you get at playing high level footy like NAB League, you’re going to take it,” Wareham said. “Parto’s (Partington) been rooting for me for the whole time. “He urged me to go for the 19-year-old (year) and I got it and yeah like I said before, Geelong have been really good with it and have allowed me to do both which is good.”

Growing up in the talent fertile region of the Hampden League playing for Terang Mortlake, Wareham said the style of play might have changed going through the elite pathway, but the simple messages from coaches was the same.

Yeah obviously it’s a little bit different to other areas,” he said. “It’s more country footy so it’s maybe takes a little to get used to this high skill, NAB League. “But I think coaches growing up always gave us the same tips and same pointers that the coaches nowadays are so I think they do really well.”

Not everyone gets a chance at pulling on the ‘Big V’, but that is exactly what Wareham did last season, and the lightly built midfielder said it was enjoyable throughout and despite the end result, was something he would never forget.

I think that was one of the funnest times of football I’ve had,” Wareham said. “I think the team atmosphere we had and the culture we built was pretty special. “It was just so fun to play in. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but everyone tried really hard and that’s what we wanted.”

One piece of play that would become synonymous with Hayden Young in the lead-up to the AFL Draft was a remarkable 50-metre plus kick to hit a target running in space on a 45 degree angle – but Young spotted that player. The player was Wareham who admitted some of the Vic Country kids reminded him of featuring on that highlight reel moment by being the recipient.

I think I’ve been doing that my whole career, but it’s just like Hayden’s one of those blokes who can pull it off pretty easily so yeah I’m just grateful to play among those people like Caleb Serong, Hayden Young who are just so elite.”

Wareham rates his strengths as his running ability to break the lines and use the ball well by hand or foot. Despite being a slick user of the ball, the midfielder said he has improved that aspect of his game even further over the preseason. It was one of a number of areas Wareham has improved since last season and will look to continue to improve throughout 2020.

I think I’ve improved my kicking over the preseason and hopefully I can showcase that in a game,” Wareham said. “Coming in as a skinny 70kg kid, just trying to build my strength up and a bit of weight around the hips. “Trying to get more of that contested ball.

While the COVID-19 global pandemic has rocked the sporting world, as soon as Wareham and his teammates can get back on the field, you can be sure he will just take the moment for what it is and enjoy it.

I think it’s just really enjoying my footy,” he said. “I probably got in a mood towards the start of last year when I got a few injuries where I wasn’t enjoying it as much but coming in as a 19-year-old I really enjoy it a lot more. “I’m just a bit more relaxed and just enjoying the experience.”

Classic Contests: Stingrays and Falcons play out first draw of season

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 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, where these two teams faced off in a wind-swept game in Bendigo to eventually split the points.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.0 | 7.4 | 7.5 | 12.11 (83)
GEELONG FALCONS 5.5 | 6.6 | 11.11 | 12.11 (83)

Round 3 | Saturday, April 7, 2019
Queen Elizabeth Oval, 12.30pm

The reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays headed into the Round 3 clash undefeated, but only just. They had survived a comeback against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by a goal, then won in a thriller against Murray Bushrangers by five points just a round earlier. The Falcons had lost in heart-breaking circumstances to the Rebels in Round 2, but it was a much better effort than their Round 1 thumping at the hands of Bendigo Pioneers. Nonetheless, Dandenong headed in as favourites based on overall form, though the weather threatened to make it challenging for all involved.

Geelong had the breeze in the opening term and had plenty of chances, booting 5.5 from 10 scoring opportunities, though it was Dandenong’s accuracy – three goals from as many scoring shots – that had the Stingrays buoyant early on. It took Dandenong six minutes to get the early chance in the second term as Cody Weightman kicked a ripper to cut the deficit to 10 points. Melbourne-listed Austin Bradtke made it two consecutive goals for the Stingrays and the teams were separated by just a kick, before Oliver Henry steadied the ship with an important goal – his second of the contest. It would be Geelong’s only major of the term, as Dandenong added two more, with Corey Ellison booting his second and Reece Orchard his first in the last minute for the Stingrays to hit the front by four points at half-time.

Regaining the benefit of the breeze, Henry converted his third and fourth goals either side of a Mitch Langan major. Gennaro Bove and Sheldon Ham soon joined the party and the Falcons had five consecutive goals on the board and led by 30 points at the main break in what was truly a complete domination and utilising the breeze to perfection. Trailing by five goals at the last change, Dandenong Stingrays made a swap, throwing key defender Sam De Koning into attack for the last term to provide a target with the wind in their favour. It seemed only a matter of time before the Stingrays began to chase the Falcons down, and Nathan Heath was the first on the board in the opening three minutes, before De Koning converted in the 10th minute shortly after a behind and the deficit was 15 points with 15 minutes on the clock.

Out of nowhere and against the run of play, Henry stepped up for the Falcons and booted a crucial fifth goal to push the margin back out to 21 – it would be Geelong’s last score for the game. Dandenong relentlessly attacked as De Koning kicked a second major, while Luca Goonan also made good on a chance. With five minutes left, Ned Cahill missed and the margin was a flat six points. The ball was camped inside Dandenong’s forward line for the last five minutes, with plenty of chances to rush through a crucial behind, but the Stingrays were going all-out, though as it would show in hindsight, a behind could have won them the game. Instead, it took until a mark just seconds before the siren – to Heath – before a result would be decided. He calmly came in slotted the goal with Dandenong celebrating. It had been a terrific comeback, but at the end of the day, both teams split the points and it was a deserving finish to a game of that quality.

Henry deservingly finished as the standout player on the ground with 11 touches, seven marks and five goals in such challenging conditions. Jesse Clark had 26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds, working hard defensively with Keidan Rayner (16 disposals, three marks and five rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 disposals, eight marks and five rebounds). In the forward half, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, while Chas Karpala (20 disposals, 10 tackles), Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, seven clearances and nine tackles) and Ham (15 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal) were also among the best.

For the Stingrays, future Bomber, Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s through the midfield, working well with the skill of Hayden Young (22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds) and the X-factor of Weightman (20 disposals, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal). De Koning finished the game with 17 touches, three marks and two goals, while Mitch Riordan had 16 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s. Ellison (three goals), Goonan (two) and Heath (two) were the multiple goalkickers with De Koning, while Jack Toner was busy with 13 disposals, four clearances and five inside 50s.

Dandenong Stingrays would end up reaching the first week of finals before losing to Calder Cannons, while Geelong Falcons’ season would end at the hands of Sandringham Dragons in Wildcard Round.