Tag: hugo ralphsmith

2019 AFL Draft club review: Richmond Tigers

IN one of the more interesting displays of draft tactics, Richmond stocked up on some long-term talent via the NAB League and, more noticeably, academies of two other clubs in the National Draft. With versatile and high-upside types landing at Tigerland, the reigning premiers will have fearsome midfield depth for years to come, and a couple of project players who could be anything.

National Draft:
21. Thomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 184cm | 76kg | Inside Midfielder
43. Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies) | 183cm | 79kg | Medium Utility
44. Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies) | 185cm | 83kg | Utility
46. Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 188cm | 75kg | Forward/Midfielder
54. Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 195cm | 87kg | Key Position Utility

Rookie Draft:
Nil

As is the case with most premiership sides, there were not any pressing needs the Tigers would have come into the draft looking to cover. Having said that, you can never have enough long-term prospects to develop while you’re on top and Richmond will be in good stead in that sense, boasting one of the bigger National Draft hands with a handful of picks. First off the board was Thomson Dow, the brother of Carlton’s Paddy, ironically just after the Blues had somewhat cut the Tigers’ lunch by trading up to take Richmond fan Sam Philp at pick 20. Similar to his Blues brother, Dow is agile and explosive through the stoppages, while also possessing the ability to find the goals on the move forward. The Tigers will hope he can develop into a midfield regular alongside the likes of Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jack Graham, and Jack Ross over time.

The most important part of the draft for the Tigers came with a cluster of picks in the 40s, given the chance to sweep the board and take some high-value sliders or players they had targeted in that range coming in. While that was definitely the case with Hugo Ralphsmith at pick 46, a high-upside and athletic outside midfielder who could have gone in the top 30, the Tigers’ game of chicken with academy bids was a little more risky. Noah Cumberland was a great pick at 43 with his Richmond-like aggression and inside/outside blend, and was a difficult bid to match for Brisbane after Essendon tried them for Keidean Coleman a few picks earlier. Nabbing Cumberland justifies the pick of Will Martyn, who skippered the Lions Academy and showed plenty of potential early this year as an accumulating flanker/midfielder. Packaging the two is smart and will help their development, no matter what range they are taken at.

Another academy member rounded out the Tigers’ draft haul, with a bid on St Kilda Next Generation Academy member Bigoa Nyuon going unmatched. Nyuon could be anything and is a raw tall with great athleticism and versatility. He adds to the long-term options taken before him, and can provide key position depth in the long term.

Overall, Tigers fans should be content with their side’s haul, full of upside and potential growth. Richmond often backs its culture and unmatched structure to get the best out of the players brought in, and there could be a couple of steals here given the Tigers’ rate of success in development. It was an unorthodox draft, but one which could hold the reigning premiers in good stead for the future.

2019 National AFL Draft: Round 2-5 selections

WITH Round 1 selections done and dusted on Wednesday night, Thursday hosted the remainder of the 2019 AFL National Draft, as we look a the top Australian rules talent being picked up across Australia. Below is every pick from the beginning of Round 2 with plenty of analysis to come on Draft Central over the next week.

For picks 1-21, check out the Round 1 Selections.

ROUND 2

Pick 22 – Brisbane Lions – Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia) | 184cm | 81kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 23 – Port Adelaide – Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 186cm | 81kg | Medium Forward
Pick 24 – Adelaide Crows – Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 182cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 25 – Port Adelaide – Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 26 – Sydney Swans – Will Gould (Glenelg/South Australia) | 192cm | 106kg | Tall Defender
Pick 27 – Gold Coast SUNS – Jeremy Sharp (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 189cm | 81kg | Midfielder/Defender
Pick 28 – Adelaide Crows – Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 195cm | 83kg | Key Position Utility
Pick 29 – Hawthorn – Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 189cm | 82kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 30 – Essendon- Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
Pick 31 – North Melbourne – Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
Pick 32 – Melbourne – Trent Rivers (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 188cm | 83kg | Defender/Midfielder
Pick 33 – Brisbane Lions – Brock Smith (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender
Pick 34 – North Melbourne – Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
Pick 35 – North Melbourne – Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 188cm | 81kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 36 – Sydney Swans – Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia) | 188cm | 77kg | Medium Forward
Pick 37 – Brisbane Lions – Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies) | 183cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
Pick 38 – Essendon – Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
Pick 39 – Sydney Swans – Chad Warner (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 40 – Collingwood – Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) | 185cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 41 – Geelong – Francis Evans (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 182cm | 78kg | Medium Forward
Pick 42 – Adelaide Crows –  Ronin O’Connor (Claremont/Western Australia) | 192cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 43 – Richmond – Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland) | 183cm | 79kg | Medium Utility
Pick 44 – Richmond – Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland) | 185cm | 83kg | Outside Midfielder

ROUND 3

Pick 45 – Collingwood – Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 73kg | Midfielder/Defender
Pick 46 – Richmond – Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 188cm | 75kg | Forward/Midfielder
Pick 47 – Carlton – Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 180cm | 72kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 48 – Adelaide Crows – Lachlan Gollant (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | 191cm | 72kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 49 – West Coast Eagles – Callum Jamieson (Claremont/Western Australia) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
Pick 50 – Geelong – Cameron Taheny (Norwood/South Australia) | 185cm | 80kg | Medium Forward
Pick 51 – GWS GIANTS – Jake Riccardi (Werribee/VFL) | 194cm | 96kg | Key Forward
Pick 52 – St Kilda – Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 182cm | 84kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 53 – Western Bulldogs – Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 185cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
Pick 54 – Richmond – Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 195cm | 87kg | Key Position Utility

ROUND 4

Pick 55 – Collingwood – Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 192cm | 75kg | Defender/Midfielder
Pick 56 – Essendon – Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
Pick 57 – Hawthorn – Josh Morris (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 186cm | 76kg | Medium Forward
Pick 58 – West Coast Eagles – Ben Johnson (West Perth/Western Australia) | 178cm | 68kg | Small Defender
Pick 59 – Brisbane Lions – Jaxon Prior (West Perth/Western Australia) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender
Pick 60 – Gold Coast SUNS – Jy Farrar (Adelaide SANFL/South Australia) | 191cm | 79kg | Tall Utility
Pick 61 – Fremantle – Minairo Frederick (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 183cm | 71kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 62 – Western Bulldogs – Riley Garcia (Swan Districts) | 177cm | 70kg | Balanced Midfielder

ROUND 5

Pick 63 – Essendon – Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers) | 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility
Pick 64 – St Kilda – Leo Connolly (Gippsland Power) | 181cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 65 – GWS GIANTS – Tom Hutchesson (Adelaide SANFL/South Australia) | 177cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Sydney Swans

SYDNEY will come into the 2019 AFL draft looking to pick up a non-Academy member in the top 10 for the first time since 2011, with the Swans’ continued regeneration bringing their future to the fore. While the Swans look set to select long-term midfield replacements, they will also add to their depth of youngsters.

CURRENT PICKS: 5, 25, 32, 44, 76, 81

NEXT GEN ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS PROSPECTS WITH COMBINE INVITATIONS: Hamish Ellem (Academy), Luke Parks (Academy)

LIST NEEDS:

Inside midfielder with speed
Ruck depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Having an open high-end draft pick is something which will be slightly unfamiliar to Swans fans given the extended success of their side, with Gary Rohan (pick 6, 2011) their last non-Academy top 10 selection. An injection of pace into the midfield could bode well for the Swans, with plenty of options hovering around the mark. But a bid on GWS Academy prospect Tom Green looks likely at pick 5, pointing towards that long-term midfield depth. Sam Flanders appears to be the choice for the Swans, with Caleb Serong the option option Sydney is believed to be deciding between. A punt on Brodie Kemp would require patience given he is set to miss almost the entire 2020 season, but he would also be a great inside midfield option. Deven Robertson is another in that position, but it appears Sydney is deciding between the two Gippsland players.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Swans could package their two second round selections (25 and 32) to move up the board and ensure they snare a player like Cooper Stephens, Jay Rantall or Robertson, but that could cut off some potential bargains at those picks. With their academy choices unlikely to breach the top end, trading for late picks will not be much of a priority.

REMAINING CROP:

Excitement should come with the Swans’ current hand, as it could bring in a couple of great sliders in the second round. With Daniel Menzel delisted and Tom Papley a trade target, gifted medium forwards Dylan Williams, Elijah Taylor, and Cameron Taheny could enter the fold, while Hugo Ralphsmith has also been mentioned in top 30 contention. Should they opt for a midfielder, Thomson Dow would suit the Swans well while Darcy Chirgwin and Sam Philp would be solid options. Ruck depth could also be filled with picks 25, 32, or 44 as the likes of Charlie Comben and Nick Bryan may well be snapped up early. Given their tendency to target outside speed in recent drafts, those types may be off the agenda, and slightly taller types in the form of Hamish Ellem and Luke Parks could fill out their draft with later picks.

2019 Draft Central Phantom Draft

THE 2019 AFL National Draft is just a couple of days away and it is clear that trying to work out which clubs favour which players is incredibly difficult given the evenness of the draft crop outside the first round. Even inside the first round, preferences will play a huge role in where players go with certain clubs battling with another one or two for certain players. In this Phantom Draft, we have done the first three rounds, but have not included any live trades which will undoubtedly come in on the night.

ROUND 1:

1 Gold Coast – Matt Rowell
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 180cm | 78kg

The number one pick has been in little doubt for many months now, with the Oakleigh Chargers ball magnet a standout player throughout the 2019 season. He won nearly every accolade he possibly could, and never played a bad game. Rowell will have been prepared for the move north for some time now and he will be a Round 1 starter for the SUNS.

2 Gold Coast – Noah Anderson
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 191cm | 87kg

Like Rowell, expect Anderson to suit up in Round 1, likely playing forward as a marking target who can also rotate through the midfield. He has a high scope of improvement given he is that prototype tall midfielder who has a nice burst of speed through the middle, so expect him to be one who catches the eye quite often.

3 Melbourne – Luke Jackson
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 199cm | 94kg

The Demons caused a bit of a stir when they announced Jackson as a potential top three pick. Not because of his ability because that was never in doubt, but the fact they were willing to risk a top three pick on a ruck which bucks the trend of recent years. A former Australian basketballer, Jackson was highly sought after by the GIANTS and Dockers among others, so the Dees had to pull the trigger at pick three. Hayden Young was the other consideration at the selection.

4 GWS – Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Defender
21/06/2001 | 187cm | 83kg

While at first many thought that Hayden Young might be the pick here – or Jackson if the Dees went with Young – the GIANTS have opted towards the speedy and slick half-back Lachlan Ash who provides great run and carry out of defence. Nathan Wilson left to go to Fremantle two years ago, and the inclusion of Ash allows Zac Williams to play more midfield time if required. An elite kick with terrific athleticism.

5 Sydney – Sam Flanders
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Mid/Forward
24/06/2001 | 183cm | 82kg

The Swans are believed to be tossing up between Gippsland Power teammates, Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. Flanders provides that slight more height and elite hands on the inside, while being a match-winner up forward. He still has areas of consistency to work on, but in terms of what he could become, the ceiling is endless. At this selection, Sydney cannot do too much wrong, but Flanders will offer them plenty of highlights inside 50 in the early days before developing into a midfielder in time.

6 Adelaide – Fischer McAsey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
08/03/2001 | 197cm | 91kg

The Crows were weighing up four potential players at this selection, and expected this pick to be a choice between Dylan Stephens and Fischer McAsey. McAsey is the option to be that key defensive replacement for Alex Keath, while being able to play inside 50 if required as a switch man. If Sydney opt for Stephens, then Flanders would be another thought for the Crows potentially.

7 Fremantle – Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Defender
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

An absolute steal here at Pick 8, but that is the way it looks like panning out, with Fremantle picking up elite kick Hayden Young with Pick 8. The Dockers would consider Stephens if available, and given Stephens is still on the board, might even lean towards the Gippsland Power mid/forward. Fremantle seem pretty settled with this selection given Young could well have been gone by Pick 3.

8 Fremantle – Caleb Serong
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

Another steal here with the Gippsland Power strong midfielder/forward Caleb Serong landing in Fremantle. Fremantle might have looked at grabbing West Australian captain Deven Robertson to begin with, but once it became clear Serong would be available, the Dockers have narrowed their sights on Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). He is so strong overhead he is more than capable of matching it with taller players, while his competitive nature and desire to be the best possible player will provide the Blues with a really strong option going forward.

9 Carlton – Dylan Stephens
Norwood/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 183cm | 74kg

While the Blues were originally thought to have eyed off Caleb Serong, it looks like Dylan Stephens will be the one left on the board presuming Adelaide opt for Fischer McAsey. Stephens is the best available and also fits a need, with the outside mover capable of playing from next year. Already having played at SANFL League level, Stephens adds a high work rate and strong character to the side. Deven Robertson would be a consideration here, as would down-trading to grab a couple of first round picks.

10 GWS (matched/bid) – Tom Green
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 190cm | 89kg

There is a reason the GIANTS moved from Pick 6 to Pick 4, and that was because the Swans had committed to bid on GIANTS Academy member Tom Green. They have publicly said they are unlikely to do so now, but will still force GWS out of the draft and into deficit, but the GIANTS will happily cop that given they pick up Green to join Ash as a couple of elite talents at the club. Either could start from early on, and expect Green to have a real impact from the moment he gets out there.

11 Melbourne – Cody Weightman
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Forward
15/01/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

The Demons are set on picking up a small forward at this selection, with Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett the two most talked about at this selection. The Demons have put plenty of time and effort into Weightman and might just get the nudge over Pickett, but it is a lineball call. The Dees also could consider Miles Bergman at this pick given the Dragons’ forward could develop into a taller midfielder, but the firepower up forward is what the Dees are after.

12 Fremantle (matched/bid) – Liam Henry
Claremont/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 180cm | 68kg

A bid for Liam Henry was always going to come in the first round and push Fremantle well down to the back-end of the draft, but the Dockers will not be too worried in matching this bid. Having already picked up Hayden Young and Caleb Serong, they have filled three different spots in their team and the exciting Next Generation Academy prospect in Henry will provide plenty of highlights over the coming years.

13 Hawthorn – Brodie Kemp
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 89kg

Versatile tall Brodie Kemp is somewhat of a slider here and could well slide further to Port Adelaide or Geelong. Will eventually be an inside midfielder, but can play a third tall role at either end of the ground and had a terrific Under-18 Championships. Is overcoming an ACL injury sustained mid-year.

14 Port Adelaide – Will Day
West Adelaide/South Australia | Defender
06/05/2001 | 189cm | 76kg

Get the feeling the first of Port Adelaide’s picks will be between Day, Bergman and Kemp depending on who is available. The slick ball user from West Adelaide, Day has links to Gold Coast with his cousin Sam there, and would be a huge chance to be off the board before Port Adelaide’s second selection. After adding skilled users last year in Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters, Day adds that extra touch of class coming off half-back and is a good size at 189cm.

15 Western Bulldogs – Kysaiah Pickett
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 171cm | 71kg

One of a couple of draft bolters, Kysaiah Pickett is well in consideration to be taken by Melbourne at Pick 10 (to become 11), but the Dogs will be all over the tenacious small forward if he drops. Miles Bergman is the other potential choice here, while if the Dees go with Pickett, expect Cody Weightman to be the strong chance for Pick 15. Pickett is still very light but loves the contested aspect of the game and the Dogs have shown through drafting Caleb Daniel, they are not worried about height but instead look at skill and Pickett has bucketloads of that.

16 Geelong – Deven Robertson
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 184cm | 81kg

Robertson was rumoured to be a possible top 10 selection, with the West Australian captain leading from the front during the Under-18 Championships to win the Larke Medal and state Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Would be a steal here for Geelong but a number of clubs along the way would be looking at him carefully. A future captain at AFL level.

17 Gold Coast – Trent Bianco
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Defender
20/01/2001 | 178cm | 73kg

It is thought that this selection will be between Will Day and Trent Bianco, and with Port taking Day off the board in this scenario, Bianco is the man to step up to the plate. Port would also be keen on picking up Bianco if Day is snapped up elsewhere, so the Suns will want to use this selection on him. He joins Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson from the Oakleigh Chargers program up on the Gold Coast and adds more leadership to the side coming into that team. Will provide skill and dash off half-back.

18 Port Adelaide – Josh Worrell
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 83kg

With the skilful defender in Will Day secured, Port will look to bring in a tall to replenish some of their stocks lost over the off-season. Well aware that Geelong is in the business of finding a key position player, the Power will have to pounce at this selection rather than wait another two picks. Knowing they will likely just take the one tall, getting one here and knowing the Cats will take a tall at the next pick allows them to go best available at Pick 20. Josh Worrell can play either end and is great value here as a long-term developing tall.

19 Geelong – Harrison Jones
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 196cm | 78kg

After a couple of talls dropped in the top 10, Geelong and Port may well do a merry dance to snap up the next couple and see who will pounce on who in the back-end of the first round. With Port having the first chance at Pick 18, Geelong will either need to pounce on Josh Worrell and risk losing Deven Robertson, or take the chance and secure the developing utility in Harrison Jones. Jones is as versatile as they come and has even spent time in the ruck this year. Whilst he might be considered a bolter to land in the first round, his athletic attributes – mainly his speed and endurance – make him a player to watch.

20 Port Adelaide – Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
18/010/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

Port would look at teaming up Will Day with Trent Bianco at this selection – if Bianco was left on the board – to continue the influx of speed and skill, but Miles Bergman being on the board is the choice here. Bergman could well be snapped up by Melbourne, or the Western Bulldogs who are both in the market for a small forward, meaning one of Weightman or Pickett could be left for the Power to secure. Bergman has the height on the others and could well develop into a midfielder who can hit the scoreboard, and played most of the year sore but still had terrific moments in 2019.

21 Hawthorn (matched/bid) – Finn Maginness
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

Given Richmond is targeting inside midfielders, it is tipped that the Tigers will place a bid on Finn Maginness at the end of the first round. The Hawks will quickly match the bid to bring the midfielder into the club, and traded picks to ensure they have plenty of points available. This bid would see the Hawks lose Picks 44 and 52 (which are given up due to Academy bids, whilst Pick 56 would slide to Pick 63).

22 Richmond – Cooper Stephens
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

With the Maginness bid match, Richmond will focus its attention on securing that inside midfielder. Geelong Falcons’ Cooper Stephens is among a number of selections left on the board and could well be snapped up at this pick. Jay Rantall is a consideration, though Stephens is more readymade to slot straight into the line-up and will be that pure inside midfielder with time. A good size at 188cm, Stephens is one who will have an immediate impact.

ROUND 2:

23 Gold Coast – Trent Rivers
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
30/07/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

There is every chance Rivers is at a new club by Wednesday night, but if he is not, then he will not take long at all to come off the board at this selection. The four clubs over the next five picks would all be keen on the tall midfielder who can also play other roles around the ground, and has good development left.

24 Brisbane – Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 185cm | 83kg

Could go as high as Richmond in Round 1, but more likely to land at either Brisbane or Adelaide in Round 2. The Lions cannot not risk him dropping to their next pick, so would need to pounce with #24 and add an extra Rebel to the mix. Elite endurance and can play multiple roles through the midfield. A former Australian basketballer.

25 Adelaide – Jeremy Sharp
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
13/08/2001 | 189cm | 79kg

Picked at this selection because of his ability to provide outside run and carry, and can fulfil that role coming off half-back. A dual All-Australian, the knocks are whether or not he can win the contested ball, but at 189cm and the ability to hit penetrating passes makes him too good to turn down. Not completely out of the question for him to slip a bit further, however.

26 Adelaide – Sam De Koning
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 201cm | 86kg

Given the Crows have picked up Fischer McAsey, they may err on collecting another key position player, but like McAsey, Sam De Koning has an ability to play at both ends, or even through the ruck. He is the last of the top 30 talls available, so the Crows might want to bundle him up with McAsey. If they end up with Dylan Stephens at Pick 6, expect De Koning to be a massive shot here – if available.

27 Geelong – Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
16/10/2001 | 184cm | 76kg

A number of picks the Cats could make at this selection, but Thomson Dow seems very ‘Geelong’ like. Another Geelong Grammar boy to possibly go with Brodie Kemp or in this phantom, Deven Robertson, Dow is the brother of Carlton’s Paddy. While he is not as readymade as his brother, he has similar athleticism and is good inside 50 on the lead. A forward to start his career, but will eventually develop into a full-time midfielder.

28 Sydney – Elijah Taylor
Perth/Western Australia | Medium Forward
01/05/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

Elijah Taylor is incredibly talented and adds more X-factor to a Swans side that will have already brought Sam Flanders earlier in the draft in this Phantom Draft scenario. Taylor is a good size at 188cm, and while staying in Western Australia might be a priority, the Swans have a good system in place to make players from interstate fit in well. Far too good to ignore at this selection, and if bypassed, chances are he will not be there at the Swans’ next selection.

29 North Melbourne – Will Gould
Glenelg/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/01/2001 | 192cm | 106kg

Surely the South Australian captain could not drop this far? It is possible, and some think it might be into the 30s. He could go as high as Gold Coast at 23, or maybe even Adelaide at 26 if De Koning is off the board, but Gould will slide outside the top 20. He is an unbelievable talent, and one we have rated in the top 15 most of the year. Elite footballing qualities, once he gets into an AFL environment, he will likely prove a few people wrong. A bargain at this selection.

30 North Melbourne – Cameron Taheny
Norwood/South Australia | Medium Forward
03/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

There is a feeling the Roos will pick a small forward at their selections, whether it be Cameron Taheny, Elijah Taylor or Dylan Williams. With Williams touted to slide the furthest when it is all said and done, Taheny looks to be the more readymade prospect for North, and the transition into the blue and white stripes will be made easier in this scenario coming across with Gould. Another bargain pick.

31 Melbourne – Darcy Cassar
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Utility
31/07/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Providing some speed and dash off half-back with neat kicking skills, Darcy Cassar is a player with some top shelf traits, and just needs to iron out inconsistencies to take the next step. At his best he is contending for a top 20 spot, and Melbourne fit the need they were targeting at the top end of the draft in a skilful half-back by adding Cassar to their list in the second round.

32 Brisbane – Dylan Williams
Oakleigh Chargers | Medium Forward
01/07/2001 | 186cm | 81kg

An interesting selection looms for the Lions at this pick, and the likes of Harry Schoenberg and Sam Philp were considered, but given the Lions have picked up a number of exciting players with upside in recent years, Dylan Williams is one who might appeal to them. He might not fit a direct need, but at this selection he is a bargain and also has those leadership qualities – co-captaining Oakleigh Chargers – and is surely too good to pass up because he will not be there at the next pick.

33 Port Adelaide (matched/bid) – Jackson Mead
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

Port has enough points to match a bid for Jackson Mead at this point in the draft, and will not have a problem matching should a team like North Melbourne put the offer out there. North is known for making bids on players that fill needs, and Mead’s range is tipped to be in this hitting zone. Expected to make his way to the Power without any fuss.

34 North Melbourne – Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
09/11/2001 | 188cm | 75kg

A few options to pick from here, but North has interest in Hugo Ralphsmith, and may well take him with one of their picks inside the top 30. If not and he is still on the board here, Ralphsmith will be difficult to pass up. Sam Philp, Harry Schoenberg and Mitch O’Neill will be considerations, but Ralphsmith may be the first choice.

35 Essendon – Harry Schoenberg
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Inside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 182cm | 83kg

The South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner offers a solid inside presence at the selection for the Bombers, with his inside craft and ball-winning abilities among his strengths. Essendon might consider Sam Philp at this selection as well, with the Bombers and Swans potentially targeting similar types to round out their list.

36 Sydney – Sam Philp
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
04/08/2001 | 186cm | 79kg

A perfect fit for the Swans, Sam Philp is a running machine on the inside with terrific burst speed out of the contest – a 2.87-second 20m sprint – which fills a need whilst adding his contested ball winning ability. Despite missing out on Vic Metro selection, Philp offers plenty to the club that picks him, and Sydney could be that club.

37 Essendon – Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

The Bombers need another ruck for depth, and Comben is a player who can also play that key position forward role. He is a good size and still developing, and given the likes of Collingwood and Geelong are not far away, Essendon might have to make their move at this pick to secure him.

38 Brisbane – Mitch O’Neill
Tasmania Devils/Allies | Small Utility
21/02/2001 | 176cm | 72kg

A steal at Pick 38, Tasmania’s top player makes his way north and will be a welcome addition given his ability to play anywhere on the ground. He adds to the Lions’ skilful and exuberant young side and is another player like Gould who may prove a fair few wrong in the coming years.

39 Collingwood – Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Seems to be the obvious pick for Collingwood, with Mitch Georgiades the best tall forward available at this selection and a clear need for the Magpies. Collingwood might be tempted to opt for a tall defender in Karl Finlay or Dyson Hilder, or maybe the upside of Fraser Phillips, but these are all the selections coming in the next few selections.

40 Geelong – Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193cm | 90kg

Geelong may not opt for a second tall, but Finlay is the type who has great agility and is able to play on a tall or small in defence, which in this Phantom Draft would allow Harrison Jones to play forward. Finlay is an Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner and it would not be surprising to see him go higher and perhaps even pounced on in the 20s – particularly if De Koning joins the other talls in the first round. Like many talls, it is often a needs basis, so could slide to around here, but Collingwood would seriously consider him with their last pick.

41 Adelaide – Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Medium Forward
15/05/2001 | 187cm | 72kg

Has the talent to become anything, and could end up at a number of clubs in the 30s, but the Crows could not take a chance any longer with Richmond and Carlton no doubt keen to acquire his services. Has the potential to become a midfielder long-term and just moves well and creates havoc inside 50. A player who has drawn traits similar to Jack Macrae and Scott Pendlebury at the same age – even if much rawer than those players.

42 Richmond – Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

With three consecutive selections, Richmond is likely to select one key position player just to add to the depth in the squad, and given they have picked up Cooper Stephens with the first selection, the additional inside midfielder need is filled. Hilder is a readymade key position option, but can work with the Tigers’ back six to become a strong negating defender who is also capable of creating offensive rebound. Another key position player who might go higher than this due to needs.

43 Richmond – Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

The Gippsland Power captain is a hard nut and would be a perfect fit for Richmond given his accountability in defence and willingness to put his body on the line for his teammates. He showed in 2019 that he can also create offensive drive, and that will be attractive for the Tigers to fill that Brandon Ellis role, or play deeper and release one of the other defenders.

ROUND 3:

44 Richmond – Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

Hard to see Mahony slipping this far, but if he did it would certainly be a bargain. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Mahony rarely wastes a kick and is able to set up his forwards with neat 45-degree passes that can be deadly for the opposition. A high footy IQ and one who will develop into a very handy player.

45 Carlton – Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 179cm | 78kg

Has been long linked to Carlton at this selection, but will he be there? It is possible, and he fills a perfect need which allows the Blues to go best available at Pick 9. Has a lot of growth left in his game, and is more consistent than a lot of other small forwards. Adds a touch of class inside 50.

46 Sydney – Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

While it is becoming increasingly difficult to try and predict which way clubs will go by this stage, the Sturt winger adds some terrific pace and line-breaking willingness that can attract clubs in the third round. He takes the game on and is a good size, just needs to iron out a few things and could be a real valuable contributor on the outside.

47 Adelaide – Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
01/05/2001 | 183cm | 80kg

While Mott is not the fastest midfielder going around, he has such clean hands and skill on the inside, which he has been developing over the past 12 months. Mott can also play outside where he uses his terrific kicking ability to advantage and replaces the wealth of midfield depth that has been lost at the Crows this year.

48 West Coast – Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

West Coast seem tipped to look local at this selection, and one of Jake Pasini, Trey Ruscoe or Riley Garcia might be a choice. Pasini is the tallest option and able to replace one of the Eagles’ key defenders in time, having worked on areas of his game such as his kicking and decision making.

49 North Melbourne – Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

A number of clubs over the next few picks are still in the market for a key position player, and with North Melbourne having picked up a number of faster, outside types – as well as Gould – Jeka presents a different option for the Roos. He can play at either end and is an elite contested mark, potentially sharing the forward line with Nick Larkey in years to come, learning from Ben Brown.

50 Collingwood – Jake Riccardi
Werribee/VFL | Key Position Forward
07/11/1999 | 194cm | 96kg

One of the strongest rumours floating around the mid and later stages of the draft is Jake Riccardi to Collingwood, and the Magpies will not want to wait too much longer from here. Could well end up the first State Draft Combine invitee to go in the National AFL Draft, but the question will be whether or not the Magpies pick up two tall forwards – Georgiades and Riccardi – or if they go best available then take Riccardi.

52 St Kilda – Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

A long-term developing forward, Sharman has great upside and would be considered by some clubs in the 40s. As accurate shot on goal as anyone else, Sharman will not immediately step in due to needing to improve his endurance, but when he does, he would add some great speed on the lead, strong overhead and convert his opportunities. Saints could go a number of ways, but they will like Sharman’s upside.

53 Western Bulldogs – Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Arguably the hardest to place in the draft, Nick Bryan could go anywhere from the late 30s, up into the 60s, but Western Bulldogs could opt for some ruck depth at Pick 53 and has been linked here if available. A long-term prospect, Bryan is more a player who will take over in a few years and given his athletic traits, could be something special.

54 Richmond – Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

A workhorse through the middle, Byrnes has transitioned from a player on the fringes of his NAB League side Sandringham Dragons, to captaining the side, representing Vic Metro and making himself all but a certain draft candidate. He has to build his kicking, but he is dual-sided and a threat out of stoppages with a quick burst here and there and often pumps the ball to the danger zone inside 50. A perfect fit for the Tigers.

55 Carlton – Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A big-bodied midfielder tipped to slide down later in the draft, Pick 55 for Darcy Chirgwin could be another selection that makes people look silly in the future. He is a perfect fit for the Blues to provide assistance for Patrick Cripps in the midfield and is not afraid to crash and bash around the stoppages.

Others not far away had the draft extended out: Riley Garcia, Callum Jamieson, Trey Ruscoe (Western Australia), Luke Partington, Callum Park, Josh Morris (South Australia), Angus Baker, Liam Delahunty (NSW-ACT), Brady Rowles, Lachlan Williams (Vic Country), Louis Butler, Josh Honey, Lachlan Stapleton (Vic Metro), Frank Anderson, Sam Lowson (VFL)

ACADEMY/FATHER-SON SELECTIONS IN CONTENTION LATE/ROOKIE WITH COMBINE INVITES OR HAVE BEEN NOMINATED:

*Note the below does not mean the club has committed to them – although in some cases they have – it is merely a list of those clubs with players tied to the club that received combine invitations and were in the respective club’s Academy or father-son prospect at the start of the year.

Anzac Lochowiak -> Adelaide
Noah Cumberland, Keidean Coleman, Lachlan Johnson, Bruce Reville and Will Martyn, Tom Griffiths -> Brisbane
Cameron Wild -> Carlton
Isaiah Butters, Leno Thomas -> Fremantle
Ryan Gilmore, Josh Gore, Dirk Koenen -> Gold Coast SUNS
Liam Delahunty, Matt McGrory, James Peatling, Jeromy Lucas, Ed Perryman -> GWS GIANTS
Harrison Pepper -> Hawthorn
Matthew McGuinness -> North Melbourne
Trent Burgoyne -> Port Adelaide
Bigoa Nyuon -> St Kilda
Luke Parks, Hamish Ellem, Jackson Barling, Nicholas Brewer, Samuel Gaden, Max Geddes, Harry Maguire, Samuel Thorne-> Sydney

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Richmond Tigers

THERE is seldom much any reigning premier needs to improve on, let alone this Richmond side after a redemptive 2019 campaign. Topping up depth for the future will likely be the go for the Tigers, with long-term replacements for some of their older premiership heroes perhaps on the agenda. They are set to come in at the end of the first round, and could be ripe for the picking in terms of live trades given their lack of a pressing need.

CURRENT PICKS: 19, 38, 39, 41, 56, 75, 77, 95

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Nil.

LIST NEEDS:

Future squad depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Pick 19 throws up a few interesting options for the Tigers, with hardened and consistent products often favoured at Tigerland. Geelong Falcons co-captain Cooper Stephens looms as a prospect who would be fresh in the mind of recruiters after a solid national combine showing having missed most of the year through injury, with the inside midfielder a classy future replacement for the likes of Trent Cotchin. Larke Medallist Deven Roberston is another arguably more similar to the Cotchin mould but will likely be off the board at that stage, while Jay Rantall would be a good option if he bolts up the order. Will Gould is a player who loves the tough stuff and would be able to develop his athletic base while trying to break into the ones, while Trent Bianco is a very different half-back with elite kicking skills and leadership who could grow into the role of Bachar Houli.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Live trading may well come to Richmond more than the Tigers actively seek it out, but their package of picks 38, 39, and 41 could be used to move up into the late-20s if a slider is still on the board. Their hand of five picks past the 40-mark would also typically be a target of clubs looking to cover academy bids, but given the draft is not overly compromised at the top-end, that may not be so much of a query.

REMAINING CROP:

The Tigers can bring in some real midfield and outside class should they hold on to picks 38, 39, and 41, with Sandringham trio Hugo Ralphsmith, Jack Mahony, and Darcy Chirgwin around the mark, while Daniel Mott, Darcy Cassar, Sam Philp and Harry Schoenberg could also fall their way. All of them provide ball-finding ability, have good scope for the future, and have their own points of difference – which suits Richmonds current position. Elsewhere, a player like Louis Butler could be packaged with a Dragons teammate slightly later on, while the Tigers’ last few picks are anyone’s guess, with mature agers potentially coming into the fold.

2019 AFL Draft Preview: North Melbourne Kangaroos

NORTH MELBOURNE comes into the 2019 Draft with a middle-of-the-way hand, allowing the Roos to top up stocks with no real risk at the back end while also having the potential to nab a few real bargains in the second round. With no academy or father-son prospects to make up picks for, they can go in as-is and add some flair to a midfield with bigger, slower bodies.

CURRENT PICKS: 26, 27, 30, 47, 84

NEXT GEN ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS – COMBINE INVITES: Matthew McGuinness

LIST NEEDS:

Midfield speed/class
Goalkicking forwards

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

The Kangaroos could package up a couple of handy players with picks 26, 27 and 30 able to land a potential slider without worry of missing out on a player they came in hoping to pick up. Ever the antagonists, the Roos have form in making bids and could even be the team to force Port up the order with a bid on Jackson Mead in that range. Elsewhere, Thomson Dow would be a great fit with his power from the stoppages, while the likes of Hugo Ralphsmith and Mitch O’Neill would both be terrific outside options with nice skills. A trio of dynamic medium forwards could also be available in the form of Dylan Williams, Cameron Taheny, and Elijah Taylor – all able to win games off their own boots with bags of goals. Developing key position players Sam De Koning and Charlie Comben could also be thereabouts, with clubs looking to pounce in a draft short of talls.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

While North Melbourne seemed fairly comfortable heading into the 2019 AFL Draft with a couple of mid-20s picks, they picked up another pick shortly after in Pick 30 from Hawthorn, while sending picks 50, 73 and a future second rounder back to the Hawks. It was an interesting trade considering North’s second rounder next year will likely be prior to Pick 30, but the more immediate need for another player, and the fact the Roos have two first rounders next year in a draft where the depth is not as strong, means the second rounder – along with picks 50 and 73 which they would not use – suits them just fine.

REMAINING CROP:

The last of the Kangaroos’ crop will depend on what is available to them earlier on, with picks onwards from the third round always difficult to predict. Cooper Sharman is a third tall with plenty of potential who could slide to pick 47, and GWS Academy product Liam Delahunty is a player with similar attributes who the Roos could bid on in that range. The theme of outside class or midfield zip could see the likes of mature-ager Luke Partington come into the fold, with Under-18s Josh Honey, Josh Shute, and Louis Butler all capable of creating damage going forward. Tall Tasmanian utility Matt McGuinness is another option who could be packaged with the likes of O’Neill to provide that Apple Isle link.

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Essendon Bombers

ESSENDON heads into the 2019 AFL National Draft with a couple of solid picks in the second round, but nothing that will net the club an immediate solution. The Bombers have some flexibility when it comes to live trading both through the second and fourth rounds potentially, with two clumps of picks together for their selections. Despite having a couple of players potentially leaving the club over the off-season, those trades did not occur and they remain relatively intact from their finals season this year and will be hoping to finally break the winless finals drought in 2020.

CURRENT PICKS: 31, 33, 61, 64, 65

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Nil.

LIST NEEDS:

Inside Midfielder with skill
Outside Midfielder
Key forward
Goal kicking pressure forwards

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

The Bombers enter the draft at Pick 31, and will have two selections within three picks in order to likely pick up a couple of midfielders, or a midfielder and a forward. Ideally, an inside midfielder with some pace like Jay Rantall or Sam Philp if available would be perfect for the Bombers, or they might look to a Hugo Ralphsmith to add both the midfield and forward elements to their side. Thomson Dow is another name Bombers fans might want to keep in mind, while if any of Elijah Taylor or Cameron Taheny slide, you would expect Essendon would want to secure them into the forward line. Similar to Collingwood, Essendon is in a bit of no-man’s land for talls, with really Harrison Jones or Jake Riccardi the two possible selections, though Jones may be off the board.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Bombers could package up their two picks in the 30s for one in the 20s, whether that be North Melbourne’s 26 or 27, Sydney’s 25 or Geelong’s 24, or they could trade down their Pick 33 to try and grab a couple of Richmond’s three picks between 38 and 41. It does feel like they need to do something on the night to put themselves in contention with many of the names raised above a worry to be off the board.

REMAINING CROP:

Ideally Essendon fans would want to walk away from the draft with at least one tall, particularly forward. Charlie Comben can play both ruck or forward, but is rated in between the two clumps of picks, while Mitch Georgiades, Cooper Sharman and Liam Delahunty are others who have athletic talent in different ways. Emerson Jeka is another name the Bombers might consider, but like the others is likely to fill somewhere in between the clumps of picks which means they might opt to do some live trading. From the non-talls perspective, Ronin O’Connor, Jai Jackson and Darcy Chirgwin are others who provide great pressure in different areas of the ground, while Lachlan Stapleton or Josh D’Intinosante could be great late pick-ups that provide that forward pressure and ability to play through the midfield.

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 40-21

AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at the players we have ranked 40-21.

#40 Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
01/05/2001 | 183cm | 80kg

The Calder Cannons’ midfielder improved his game in 2019, moving on from being a slick outside ball user in his bottom-age year, to win more of the hardball this season. While his start to the year was a little shaky, Mott built into the role nicely and by year’s end was performing consistently well for the Cannons during their run to the semi-finals. Averaging a handy 25.6 disposals per game with a 44.7 per cent contested rate, Mott was a high handball receive player, but one who could also do damage by foot. He was usually the second possession winner at a stoppage, tasked with putting boot to ball and trying to hit a target forward. While not overly athletic in terms of his speed, Mott has the smarts and precision kicking that when given time and space, can be a danger to the opposition. A captain at the Cannons, Mott is a leader as well which adds to his profile.

#39 Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
09/11/2001 | 188cm | 75kg

Rated by some clubs as a top 30 prospect, Ralphsmith is expected to land somewhere in that second or early third round range. Standing at a good size of 188cm, Ralphsmith is still quite light at 75kg, but has a high upside for the future with his ability to play forward or as an outside midfielder. Often roaming up and down the wing, the Dragons’ talent showed he can impact a game in a quarter, booting three first quarter goals against Calder Cannons in the semi-finals to effectively put the Dragons on their way to a winning effort in the low-scoring affair. While his four quarter consistency is still an area of improvement, athletically Ralphsmith competes with the best of them, possessing an 86cm running vertical leap and a 2.974-second 20m sprint. A longer-term prospect compared to some others, he has those neat traits with ball-in-hand that make him an attractive prospect to clubs.

#38 Sam Philp
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
04/08/2001 | 186cm | 79kg

An inside midfielder who has bolted up the draft order with a consistent year, Philp put missing out on Vic Metro selection behind him to take out the Northern Knights Best and Fairest award this season. Not always showing it in the early days, Philp’s breakaway speed came to the fore in the mid and latter parts of the season, with his rare speed/endurance mix becoming a headache for opposition players. A pure inside midfielder, not many others possess both athletic traits, with Philp recording a 2.86-second 20m sprint and 21.5 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine. It basically means the Northern Knights speedster can burn off his opponents over games, as well as from stoppages with great separation. Areas he can improve include his kicking consistency and his outside game, but when it comes to an inside ball winner with plenty of tricks, Philp is a player who has flown under the radar this season. He is someone in the mid-part of the draft who can offer speed and competitiveness to any side through the middle.

#37 Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 179cm | 78kg

A hard working small forward who has developed more and more through the midfield as the season went on, Cahill had a pretty consistent season when compared to other similar type players. While his four quarter consistency can still improve, Cahill was able to be a shining light for the Stingrays, averaging 1.4 goals per game from 18.3 disposals and 3.6 marks. Not overly strong, and sometimes he can make mistakes under pressure, Cahill has that touch of class when he goes near the ball and a high footy IQ that ensures he knows how to extract a ball from a tough situation. He will likely play as a small forward at the elite level because that is where he is most damaging, but he can also pinch-hit through the middle to some degree, and that will set him in good stead for the future.

#36 Harry Schoenberg
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Inside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 182cm | 83kg

A real surprise packet this year, Schoenberg produced a consistent season, leading to his Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for South Australia at the Under-18 Championships. Playing in a midfield alongside highly touted prospects Dylan Stephens and Jackson Mead, Schoenberg was the most consistent of the lot, earning All-Australian honours and winning the ball more than everyone bar Larke Medallist, Deven Robertson. He can play inside or out, but is more prominent on the inside due to a lower athletic base, which includes a 3.13-second 20m sprint and 20.3 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine. He does not need the athletic traits for the role he plays, which is often winning the ball in close and getting it out to runners on the outside. In seven games for the Eagles’ Under 18s side, Schoenberg averaged 24.4 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.7 tackles, 5.9 clearances and 4.1 inside 50s, with a contested possession rate of 49.4 per cent. He is a natural ball winner who plays a simple game to best advantage his team.

#35 Darcy Cassar
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Utility
31/07/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Having had experience in all thirds of the ground – playing mid/forward as a bottom-ager last year, and as a defender/forward at points this season, Cassar has versatility on his side. He stepped it up in a mid-season purple patch for the Western Jets where he even racked up 40-plus disposals coming out of defence. Averaging 69.6 per cent by foot, Cassar was typically deployed as a rebounding defender who was the choice to dispose of the ball cleanly when moving in transition. He did only win the football in a contest 35.6 per cent of the time, but it was also his role that lead to this. Cassar does have power on his side in the way he moves, with a 3.01-second 20m sprint, as well as good endurance that helps him run out games. His upside is quite solid as well given what he has shown over the past 18 months, and depending on where AFL clubs might want to deploy him at the elite level, it will be interesting to see how his career progresses and what role he will play at the top level.

#34 Sam De Koning
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 201cm | 86kg

An All-Australian key defender, De Koning’s top form came at the Under-18 Championships where the Vic Country tall was named at full-back for his consistent efforts across the carnival. He showed similar signs at NAB League level throughout different points, but still had some consistency issues. He is aerially very strong despite a lower vertical leap, reading the play in flight and positioning himself well inside the defensive 50. As he showed early in the season in Dandenong Stingrays’ draw with Geelong Falcons at Queen Elizabeth Oval, De Koning can be thrown forward and also kick multiple goals in a quarter. At 201cm, De Koning is a good size for whatever role he might play, and is similar to his brother Tom in terms of his versatility, but is more readymade for senior football. Still more likely to be a longer term prospect, De Koning could provide valuable support in a defence for a developing side, and outside the top 15 is the best key defensive prospect.

#33 Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Medium Forward
15/05/2001 | 187cm | 72kg

While inconsistency has plagued him and his endurance still needs improvement, Phillips’ upside is one of the highest of any player in the AFL Draft crop this year. He is exciting, can do the impossible when forward, moves well and can launch goals from outside 50 off a couple of steps like few others. At 187cm he is a good size for that forward-midfield role, though at 72kg he still has a way to go to build into his body. Once he can get into an elite program and add size to his frame and improve his endurance, he could be a great value pick-up for a club in the second or third rounds. In 2019, Phillips averaged 13.6 disposals, 3.9 marks and 1.9 goals per game, regularly hitting the scoreboard whilst laying three tackles per game to provide some defensive pressure as well. He looked his most damaging inside forward 50, and while sometimes his aim might be off when setting his sights on the big sticks, he always looked like having an impact.

#32 Kysaiah Pickett
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 171cm | 71kg

One of the smallest AFL Draft prospect running around, Pickett is the nephew of former North Melbourne and Port Adelaide premiership player, Byron. Possessing a similar toughness, as well as an appetite for goals, Pickett is a defensive pressure specialist inside 50 and ticks all the boxes you want from a pressure small forward. He chases, he tackles, he creates opportunities and he finishes. While not many pure small forwards get opportunities at the elite level these days, Pickett is the exception because of his traits that set him aside from most. At just 171cm and 71kg, he is never going to be a massive body inside 50, but his smarts come to the fore at ground level or when flying for a mark. His highlight reel will be one of the best from this draft crop, and while his versatility might be limited at the elite level, he is too good to pass up which is why he earned a National Draft night invite, indicating that clubs are considering him in that first round.

#31 Harrison Jones
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 196cm | 78kg

One of the most athletic talls in the draft crop when it comes to key position utilities, Jones offers plenty of tricks both on and off the field to clubs keen to secure a tall option that can develop nicely at the elite level. Having played as a key forward, key back and even through the ruck in season 2019, Jones averaged 12.4 disposals and 3.1 marks per game. Clunking a contested mark per game in 2019, Jones still has a way to go to build his strength even further, but with an elite endurance base, top vertical leap, sub-three second 20m sprint and among the best agility testers, Jones ticks most of the boxes when it comes to his athleticism. On the field he has to continue to build his consistency and just develop his overall game, but the way he has tracked he has developed at a rapid rate.

#30 Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
16/10/2001 | 184cm | 76kg

Another brother of a Carlton-listed player, Thomson Dow has a few unique traits that help him stand out from other midfielder/forwards in this draft crop. While he might only be the 184cm and 76kg, Dow is strong above his head, averaging more than a contested mark per game while drifting forward. His competitive nature to win the contested ball is a feature of his game, with Dow winning more than 51 per cent of his possessions at the coal face, while averaging the three clearances and 2.6 inside 50s per game. He is primarily a handball specialist out of congestion, and while he can hit the scoreboard – his one goal a game average speaks to this – he is at home in the middle of a stoppage. He finds a way to get out of trouble and bares similar traits to his brother Paddy in his movement and touch of class. Dow still has to improve his consistency, but he is a value pick in the second round.

#29 Elijah Taylor
Perth/Western Australia | Medium Forward
01/05/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

One of the excitement machines of the 2019 AFL Draft crop, Taylor provides a spark inside 50 and has proven to be capable of also fulfilling a midfield role. He is one of those talents that will be judged differently depending on the club, with a potential first round, or mid second round pick used on the high upside forward. While his athletic testing numbers to not leap off the page, Taylor has that on-field athleticism that makes him a slippery customer to bring down or contain. While he is inconsistent at times he showed against the Allies that if given time and space he can break a game open, such as three goals in the second half to help the Sandgropers get over the line. Another player with strong X-factor and capable of turning a game, Taylor might be a long-term prospect, but one who will be worth the wait.

#28 Jeremy Sharp
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
13/08/2001 | 189cm | 79kg

Dual All-Australians at Under 18s level do not grow on trees, but Sharp fits the bill having been a top-end prospect over the last 18 months with his run-and-carry and ability to break down opposition zones. His versatility allows him to play in any third of the ground, but is predominantly utilised off half-back or along a wing where his penetrating kick can best come to the fore. His kicking can still improve, because he is a run-and-gun player who can hit a target 50m away, or occasionally spray the ball out on the full. He also averaged just over 20 per cent contested possessions over the past three years, the lowest of the National Draft Combine invitees, which will be the question mark going to the next level. Like many on this list, Sharp still has a way to go to reach his full potential, but given his good size of 189cm, he is well on the road to that and is a player that will never die wondering when it comes to taking the game on and trying to set his team up forward or centre.

#27 Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 185cm | 83kg

The former Australian basketballer progressed rapidly in season 2019, from a possible draft prospect, to a top 30 draft hope based around his elite endurance and ball-winning abilities in the GWV Rebels’ midfield. Playing on the inside, Rantall burnt opposition players into the ground with his running ability that saw him average 24.9 disposals per game at 45.6 per cent contested. While his kicking is still an area of improvement given his relative inexperience in the sport compared to others, he showed clean hands with 83.4 per cent of his handballs finding a teammate. Not testing as well as he showed on-field, Rantall has a great burst out of the stoppage to also work over an opponent, and can go forward and kick a goal as well – averaging almost a goal per game this year. With 6.5 tackles per game to accompany his 5.6 clearances and 3.3 inside 50s, Rantall is a tackling machine with good defensive attributes as well as offensive ones.

#26 Mitch O’Neill
Tasmania Devils/Allies | Small Utility
21/02/2001 | 176cm | 72kg

Similar to Sharp, it is amazing to think that a dual All-Australian could float under the radar, but a pesky ankle injury has restricted O’Neill over the past 12 months. He still put together a terrific national carnival which saw him earn All-Australian honours for the second time, in the midfield after making the bench in 2018. Throughout the four-game carnival, O’Neill averaged 20.3 disposals and 5.5 marks playing to his strengths as an outside runner with slick foot skills. He is not afraid to take the game on, and as he showed against Western Australia, sliced up the opposition defence with some penetrating bullets down the middle. At just 176cm and 72kg, O’Neill is a lightly built smaller player who is not overly defensively-orientated – just under two tackles per game – which are some of the knocks on him. But what he can do with ball-in-hand is very impressive and athletically he is solid, and can easily play a role up either end given his disposal and smarts.

#25 Cooper Stephens
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

Having missed the majority of the season due to a broken leg, Stephens still remains in contention for a top 25 selection given his bottom-age year form. A co-captain at Geelong Falcons, Stephens impressed in the first couple of games before going down early in the third match this season. At 188cm and 83kg, Stephens is readymade once he can build his match fitness and has elite endurance that will help him get there quicker than most that have missed a season of football. His leadership skills are among the best in the draft crop and despite knowing he would miss the entire Under-18 Championships, Stephens was named vice-captain of Vic Country, assisting in an off-field role. In terms of his strengths, Stephens is a penetrating kick who can play multiple roles, but is best suited to a congested situation where he can quickly fire out handballs to teammates, or extract the ball from a stoppage. With 62.5 per cent of his possessions won at the coal face, Stephens is no stranger to the contest and has an appetite for clearances and defensive pressure.

#24 Cam Taheny
Norwood/South Australia | Medium Forward
03/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

An exciting forward who like many other forwards this year has had inconsistency throughout the season, Taheny is a natural leader who has some elite traits that give clubs an idea he will develop nicely going forward. His low endurance base is a reason behind his inconsistency, but his damage in the air or ground level is very high, having played for Norwood’s League and Reserves sides this year – winning a flag with the latter. He has a penetrating kick, high goal sense and a knack for creating something out of nothing, Taheny is a player who might take a while to develop, but could be an exciting prospect to watch over the next few years, with the likely second round selection having plenty of tricks in the forward half.

#23 Dylan Williams
Oakleigh Chargers | Medium Forward
01/07/2001 | 186cm | 81kg

Similar to Taheny, Williams is a contested marking medium forward with a penetrating kick and an eye for the spectacular. Battling injuries at different points throughout the year and eventually putting the feet up after a match-winning effort against Eastern Ranges in July due to stress fractures in his back, Williams has high upside. He was one of the Chargers’ best in the finals series last year as a bottom-ager, almost being unstoppable as that one-on-one leading forward who could leap high and pull down a contested grab, or win the ball at ground level and kick an impossible goal. While his inconsistency has seen Williams drift down the order, he has enough in his game to suggest he could develop into one of the top-end prospects of this draft with time.

#22 Jackson Mead
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide’s inaugural best and fairest winner Darren, Mead is a player who can play a multitude of roles, both on the inside or outside. While athletically Mead is not in the top echelon of players, he is built strongly for his age and capable of fending off opponents in midfield. He played three games for the Eagles’ League side, but looked most at home in the Reserves side while he continued to develop, playing 11 matches and averaging 20.2 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.4 clearances and 4.2 inside 50s at the level. He won 42.7 per cent of his disposals in a contest and while his kicking at times could improve, he has a penetrating kick through midfield and can hit targets down the field from long range. Overall, Mead has plenty of promising traits and provides a balanced approach to his football.

#21 Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
18/010/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

The final player just outside the top 20 is the exciting medium forward in Miles Bergman, who grew to 189cm to be come that third tall option at half-forward. He is strong overhead, averaging one contested mark per game from his 5.3 average, while also averaging 14.0 disposals and 3.8 inside 50s. At times he could be inconsistent, but when he was up and about, Bergman showed some terrific signs playing inside 50. He had to overcome early injury concerns and battled away to build form in the second half of the season. While his field kicking could improve, Bergman constantly looked like applying scoreboard pressure, averaging almost a goal and behind per game, and also providing that defensive pressure with 4.3 tackles. His elite running vertical leap of 90cm, coupled with his sub-three second 20m sprint means he is capable of hurting the opposition both in the air or at ground level.

NAB League Boys team review: Sandringham Dragons

AS the NAB League grand final approaches, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title; checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Sandringham Dragons.

Position: 4th
Wins: 9
Losses: 6
Draws: 0

Points For: 1135 (Ranked #2)
Points Against: 856 (Ranked #2)
Percentage: 132.60
Points: 36

Top draft prospects:

Miles Bergman

The dynamic forward/wingman has improved out of sight to become a genuine first round bolter. A player with real x-factor, Bergman has strong hands in the air, an explosive vertical leap and the ability to find the goals from range. His game-defining mark in the Herald Sun Shield grand final will also stick in the minds of recruiters as part of a strong back end of the year.

Fischer McAsey

The versatile tall has been touted for a while now, and lived up to expectations in his top-age year to be named All Australian centre half-back. While he was enormous as an intercepting type in Vic Metro’s back six, McAsey also showed his ability to make a difference in the forward half in his games for Sandringham. Will be favourite to be the first Dragon taken on draft night.

Finn Maginness

Maginness has shot into first round contention on the back of a bed of high quality performances for both Sandringham and Vic Metro. His clearance winning ability and strong hands are terrific, as is his knack of finding the goals when moving forward. As a father-son prospect tied to Hawthorn, Maginness may slide a bit on draft night but has some fantastic traits for an inside midfielder.

Josh Worrell

A genuine utility, Worrell adapted his prowess as an intercept and rebound defender to become the unlikely leading goal kicker for Vic Metro this year. His reading of the play, overhead marking and effective kick are all traits that make him a smoky for the top 10, but injury has sidelined him in the back end of the season.

Others in the mix:

Where do we start? The Dragons have unprecedented numbers in terms of representative squad members and combine invitees (18), making their talent across the board hard to miss. Midfield/forward types Jack Mahony and Hugo Ralphsmith look the next best of the lot, while skipper Ryan Byrnes has put his hand up with a brilliantly consistent season from midfield, with Louis Butler a constant in defence and Oscar Lewis and Darcy Chirgwin showing signs around the ground. The raw raft of Sandringham talls should also feature, with the likes of Jack Bell, Corey Watts, Andrew Courtney, and Charlie Dean all garnering combine invites. The list goes on, so expect Dragons to litter the draft board.

BnF chances:

Byrnes seems the obvious choice given his consistency and prominence when a raft of other key names were out of the side during the school football season and national carnival. Butler is another to have performed well across each game at either end of the season, while Jackson Voss enjoyed a purple patch in the middle of the year, over-ager Angus Hanrahan was undeniable when available and Kyle Yorke was one to have garnered attention for his performances. Count out 2018 best and fairest Corey Watts at your own peril, as well as the bottom-age talent looking to match his feat in Jake Bowey.

2020 Draft Crop:

While matching their 2019 haul will be a tough ask, Sandringham is set to have another strong cohort with some exciting types having already made their mark. The clean and classy Bowey looks to be leading the lot on the back of his reliability on the wing, while Archie Perkins is a player with enormous scope, set for more midfield time next year alongside Darby Hipwell. Up forward, Ollie Lord looks a leading candidate to follow on from this year’s batch, already showing some aerial prowess.

Final word:

The Dragons’ ability to adapt to the mass changes they face each week is so impressive and was a feature of their season once again. They looked to be an early premiership favourite as they toppled Oakleigh in Round 3, but had to overcome some mid-season hurdles to recover and finish fourth. In the end, they could not quite get it done often enough against the two grand finalists, with another three losses to Oakleigh going alongside a hat-trick of losses to Eastern. Still, the Dragons are well poised to have the biggest haul of drafted players among each NAB League side.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Preliminary Finals

THE Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers advanced to the NAB League grand final after comprehensive preliminary final victories on Saturday at Princes Park. Before they do battle at the same venue a week later, we take a look at the standout combine invitees and under-agers players from all of the final four sides in our opinion-based scouting notes.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons

Oakleigh Chargers:
By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Nick Bryan

Bryan had one of his better games for the year hitting 15 disposals in a game for the first time. Despite looking calm with the ball around the ground some of his kicks where rather laconic so there is certainly room for improvement there. His hitout work again was great, often giving his midfielders first use. Bryan finished the game with 15 disposals, five marks and 21 hitouts.

#5 Trent Bianco

The Oakleigh captain was again all class for four quarters, patrolling the wing and back flank, winning plenty of the ball and using it incredibly well. Bianco’s kicking especially on both feet is perhaps one of the best in the NAB League as he often picks the right option and weights his kicks perfectly – one kick he had inside 50 in the third quarter was particularly sublime. Bianco had a complete performance finishing the game with 27 disposals, six marks, five tackles and five inside 50s.

#8 Noah Anderson

Anderson was kept goalless for the first time this year in Oakleigh’s first final but he was back to his damaging best kicking three goals and making it look easy. Anderson was again solid through the midfield showing great composure with ball in hand and using the ball well by hand and foot. Anderson’s first goal was a solid set shot from 45m and second was an easy goal running into open goal but his third was the best showing confidence to go back and kick a huge set shot from 55m. Anderson finished the game with 23 disposals, four marks and three goals.

#9 Will Phillips

Phillips backed up his impressive game in the first final to once again make an impact in the preliminary final, showcasing his ability to find the ball and use it well, also showing great movement in traffic and composure with ball in hand. Phillips has been playing mostly on the wing where he does well but he looks most natural winning his own ball and exiting the stoppages with his acceleration out of traffic and ability to weave through congestion and hit a target by hand or foot. He can also impact the contest with his strong tackling which he also showcased against Sandringham, Phillips finished the game with 27 disposals and eight tackles.

#11 Matt Rowell

Rowell had a slow start but finished the game extremely strongly as usual with his work rate first class, ability to attack the contest all day and tackle hard as well. Rowell just continues to power through with his strength at the contests and willingness to win the ball and extract it for is teammates but he works equally as hard to cover the ground and help out. Rowell showed off his great acceleration getting away from his opponent but just missing a goal on the run, it was a tough kick and the effort to even get the kick away was eye catching. Rowell finished the game with 32 disposals, five marks, six tackles and five inside 50s

#15 Kaden Schreiber

Schreiber enhanced his draft stocks with an eye catching display on the wing winning plenty of the ball and showcasing his ability to hit targets with his trusty left foot. Schreiber started the game well getting involved willing to get his hands dirty and although his handballs at times lacked penetration he did well to get in positions to bring teammates into the game. Schreiber was a solid four-quarter player winning plenty of the ball and working well offensively and defensively showing good courage with an intercept mark in defensive 50. Schreiber finished the game with 24 disposals and eight marks.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Another dominant outing from the 2020 draft prospect who is tied to the Western Bulldogs’ NGA, the talented key forward was again the clear standout key forward with his speed off the lead and marking power too much for Sandringham to handle. Ugle-Hagan had a great start taking two great lead up marks an converting both set shots but his best goal came in the third quarter marking deep in the pocket and kicking a sensational goal right on the siren. His last goal came easy in the last quarter with a mark and quick kick in the goal square. Ugle-Hagan finished the game with 12 disposals, nine marks and kicked 4.2 with a few on the full as well.

#29 Finlay Macrae

It would seem a second Macrae is on the horizon in the AFL with 2020 prospect Finlay playing a fantastic game showing his class and composure. Macrae’s best bit of play came in the second quarter selling a bit of candy before kicking a perfect pass inside 50 to teammate Cooper Sharman, Macrae found it easy to find space around the ground and use the ball superbly by hand and foot. Macrae finished the game with 22 disposals, nine marks and six inside 50s.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Despite not having a huge game Sharman was able to showcase why he was invited to the national combine with some great bits of play and showing his solid set shot technique. His first goal came from a free kick in the second quarter converting an easy set shot from 30m and he kicked the last goal of the game from a great pass from teammate Will Phillips then converting the set shot from a slight angle. Sharman looked at his best early in the game presenting up the ground and showing some nice plays on the wings. Sharman finished the game with seven disposals and two goals.

Sandringham Dragons:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

The tall midfielder started at the first centre bounce and began the contest really well, gathering 11 disposals in the opening quarter. His hands were clean and he moved through traffic with ease at times, highlighted by a couple of stylish side steps. He made an awful error late in the first term, turning the ball over in the defensive 50, but there was certainly more good than bad. As Oakleigh took control in the second and third quarters, Chirgwin wasn’t sighted as often, but he finished the game off well to end with a respectable 22 disposals.

#4 Finn Maginness

It was an uncharacteristically quiet game from the Hawthorn father-son prospect, who struggled to get involved when Oakleigh was on top. When he did win the ball, he was able to get clear from the stoppage and get the ball long inside 50 on occasions. There were times when he lacked options though, which lead to him being chased down in the corridor during the third term. He would only finish the game with 13 disposals, but he has shown more than enough throughout the year for the Hawks to know they have a good one on their hands.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

On a dirty day for the Dragons, the prolific Byrnes still found a way to get involved and win plenty of the footy. He just knows how to get in ball winning positions and is often used as a dangerous conduit to enter the forward 50. He possesses underrated pace from congestion and uses the ball well on either side of his body. As we have become accustomed to, Byrnes finished the day as Sandy’s leading ball winner with 23.

#6 Miles Bergman

This guy is a really exciting talent. Starting forward, Bergman took a strong mark on the lead in the first term before launching a set shot goal from outside 50. It was an impressive start and while he didn’t win mountains of the ball, the eye catching AFL attributes continued to emerge as the day went on. Some smooth movement through traffic in the second term was not long followed by a lace out 55 metre pass inside 50 to set up a goal to Hugo Ralphsmith. During a play in the second half, he sold some candy and side stepped an opponent without fuss, before kicking long to advantage. You can add courage to his list of qualities too, as he threw himself with the flight of the ball to impact an aerial contest late in the day, despite his side being done and dusted. 14 touches and a goal doesn’t sound too exciting, but Bergman passes the eye test with flying colours.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

It was a tough day for a Sandringham forward to get involved, but Ralphsmith always looked a likely option whenever the ball entered his area. He attacked the aerial contests and got in dangerous scoring options when Sandy won the ball forward of centre. He took some nice overhead marks and could have easily finished with more than one goal, kicking three behinds of which a couple were very convertible set shots. His one goal was a stylish banana finish though, after being on the end of a superb Bergman hit.

#13 Louis Butler

The ball winning half-back did not start the game in great fashion, missing an easy target in the pocket which resulted in a goal for Oakleigh. From then on his ball use was much better, picking out safe options in the corridor and down the line. He spent more time in the midfield as time went on, winning a couple of excellent ground balls in the final term with his head over the ball. He finished the game with 19 disposals.

#14 Kyle Yorke

Yorke is a bit of an old school key position forward who can mark, kick and importantly has some goal sense. Playing in front, he took an easy overhead mark in the first quarter and converted the set shot from close range directly in front. In the second term he got involved again, collecting the ball in the left hand pocket and superbly executed a dribble kick from the angle for a second.

Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power

Eastern Ranges:
By: Ed Pascoe

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

It was another typical game from Stapleton, showcasing his hard edge at the contest in winning the contested ball and tackling hard to once again be an important cog in the Eastern Ranges midfield. Stapleton was a strong four-quarter player, putting his body on the line all day and moving quickly to either win the ball at a stoppage or hit the opposition with a hard tackle. Stapleton finished the game with 22 disposals, eight tackles and four inside 50s in a great performance to keep enhancing his draft stocks.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was again a hard worker for Eastern Ranges, setting the standard with his two way running and willingness to take the game on and create. Mellis although not hitting the scoreboard as much as recruiters would like is doing great work to set up countless forward forays with his speed with ball in hand. Mellis finished the game with 21 disposals and four tackles.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter again was Eastern’s main target up forward and once again was able to hit the scoreboard and make an impact from his limited disposals. He came out with good intent with a strong tackle inside 50 to lock the ball in and soon after would take a nice lead up mark and slot the set shot from 25m with not much angle. He would set up a goal in the third quarter with a nice turn and handball to Jordan Jaworski running into open goal and he finished his game converting a set shot from a downfield free kick. Rossiter finished the game with nine disposals, four marks and two goals.

#19 Wil Parker

The young defender Parker was cool, calm and collected with his ball use a real feature coming out of defence. Often tasked with the kickouts, his ability to sum up his options and hit a target was superb. Not just a designated kicker and runner, he also showed he could take an intercept mark with a well read mark in the first quarter. Parker’s composure was sensational, often picking the right option instead of blazing away and his ball use from defence was a big reason for Eastern winning the game. The talented Parker finished the game with 23 disposals, six marks and eight rebounds.

#20 Connor Downie

The Hawthorn NGA prospect for the 2020 draft continued his fine form in this years finals series with another stellar game on the wing, showcasing his ability to get around the ground and cause havoc with his silky left boot and marking ability across the ground. Downie would show his class with a long goal on the run from 50m in the second quarter after receiving a handball from a teammate, and Downie glides across the ground well and looks to have great athleticism to go with his skill. Downie finished the game with 18 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old sensation would get a rude awakening getting matched up on dour defender and Gippsland captain Brock Smith, showing how dangerous Sonsie can be to get the quality defender to curb his influence. Smith ruffed up Sonsie early not giving him an inch and testing the young player, but Sonsie would show his class with a brilliant pick up and turned his opponent inside out to hit a nice kick out wide. Smith would sit out the rest of the game, which allowed Sonsie off the leash to quickly hit the scoreboard in the second term for only a behind, he would finally kick a goal in the last quarter with a nice snap, and Sonsie finished the game with 11 disposals while kicking 1.2.

Gippsland Power:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

Serong started the game hot, collecting numerous inside possessions in the opening minutes and getting in ball winning positions. He used his body to advantage and got the ball forward when he could. He gave his side a sniff in the second term, running down an opponent inside 50 before converting the set shot to get Gippsland within a goal. As the Ranges took control, Serong’s influence lessened, but he hit the scoreboard again late to finish with a respectable 21 disposals and two goals. He has almost locked himself a top five position now and is a big chance to be playing senior footy early 2020.

#4 Sam Flanders

It was another bullocking performance by Flanders who has enhanced his reputation further with a massive finals series that may now have him in top five contention. He was explosive at the stoppages, at one point handballing to himself (I’m not sure whether deliberately or not to be honest) before collecting and kicking long inside 50. He’s become a genuine two-way midfielder now and has a natural feel on how to impact the contest offensively and defensively. Flanders has much improvement to come in an AFL environment too, he is going to be great fun to watch develop.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder was solid at the contest again, but was arguably more influential on the spread as he won the ball on the flanks and made good decisions. He isn’t blessed with pace, but makes up for that with smarts and finds a way to get away from his opponents. He has courage in the air too, going back with the flight during the second quarter to impact a contest. He finished with 23 disposals to match his NAB League average and prove again how reliable he is.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Sparkes has had some great games throughout 2019, but I feel Saturday’s effort was one of his best for the season. Starting on the wing, he ran hard up and down the ground to provide a target or impact any contest he could. He won a brilliant ground ball in the second term, before kicking long inside 50 to advantage in a rare Power attacking foray. When Brock Smith went down with a shoulder injury in the first half, Sparkes took it upon himself to help out in the back half. He seemed to intercept and rebound at will in the fourth term, impacting aerial contests and running offensively when the opportunity presented. One of Gippsland’s highlights on a disappointing day, finishing with 26 disposals.

#17 Charlie Comben

It certainly was not one of Comben’s better days, but he wasn’t alone. He took an excellent reaching contested mark in the first term, but that was about as good as it got for Comben. Riley Smith had the better of him in ruck, while he lacked supply inside the forward half. Despite that, I love what he offers and I doubt there are many more talls in the draft who have a higher ceiling. An AFL club could land themselves a bargain here.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The highly talented Phillips was in and out of the contest, but provided some eye catching moments as he always does. He took a nice lead up mark early and a long running kick inside 50 during the first term. He earned a 50m penalty and kicked a vital goal after the siren on three quarter time to keep Power alive, but couldn’t have an impact in the final term. Didn’t have the finals series he would have liked, but was one of the leading goal kickers in the NAB League with 28 majors and has the scope to develop rapidly once in that AFL environment. He has many admirers.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Another outstanding final by the thick set defender, who has come to life and given recruiters (particularly Hawthorn) a bit to ponder over the coming months. He got Gippsland on the board in the first term with a long running goal that lifted spirits after Eastern kicked the first two. He had long metres gained, highlighted taking an intercept mark in defensive 50 and playing on to run through the corridor and get the ball forward fast. His body positioning was excellent to win the ball or protect a teammate. He had genuine claims to be Gippsland’s best and carried the flag on a day when his side had minimal winners.