Tag: Jack Mahony

2019 AFL Draft club review: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne came into the 2019 AFL Draft with the potential to snap up a trio of sliders in the second round via picks in quick succession, or perhaps even trade up and get in the thick of the first round action. The latter somewhat ended up being the case, with the ‘Roos’ recruiting team opting for a couple of long-term fixes to go with creativity and guile going forward. There was also a good news story out of their Rookie Draft selection, with a much-improved overager taken out of their Next Generation Academy to make up a solid spine of choices.

National Draft:
31. Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
34. Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
35. Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 188cm | 81kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Cat-B. Matt McGuinness (Tasmania/Allies) | 195cm | 77kg | Tall Utility

The likes of North Melbourne and Richmond were two clubs whose hauls coming into night two looked like shaping respective five-pick sections of the draft, and North’s three-pick cluster in the 30s allowed them to add depth across multiple bases. After placing a bid on Hawthorn father-son Finn Maginness – which was inevitably matched –  the ‘Roos shuffled down the order but were able to secure one of the more sought-after talls of the draft. In a pool short on key position options, Charlie Comben is a developing type with good overhead marking and ruck craft who can provide long-term fold in the key forward and ruck departments, which are currently accounted for.

Jump over a few picks and Jack Mahony was next off the board, with North’s recruiting team putting him more in the small forward category. A capable midfielder at junior level, Mahony’s size means the engine room will be a bit of a reach for him early on, but his ball finding capacity and work rate really suits that high half forward role. His craftiness going forward will also be a handy point of difference for the Kangaroos’ side, with the Sandringham product able to hit those 45-degree targets with rare vision and skill.

Flynn Perez is the kind of player many thought North would target coming into the draft, with his outside speed and class evident during a promising bottom-age season for Bendigo Pioneers. Of course, the ‘Roos had to promise Perez he would not be forgotten as he injured his knee early in 2019, meaning he did not take the field at all this year. But the willingness for clubs to pick players coming off long-term injuries – even as early as the first round – means Perez could well be a bargain given his high ceiling and readymade body shape.

Rounding out North’s draft haul was the Category B selection of Tasmanian utility Matt McGuinness, who came on well during his 19-year-old season in the NAB League. An Allies representative to boot, McGuinness is effectively a free hit with high upside who is capable in the air and possesses a penetrating kick on the outside. While he still needs to fill out, he could be a long-term key position option or that in-vogue intercept defender who can rebound just as well.

Overall, North Melbourne was able to gather a diverse haul of draftees and gains long-term coverage in a range of positions. There is plenty of upside in the likes of Comben, Perez, and McGuinness, while Mahony has long been a highly touted prospect and should provide great value at pick 34. Expect to see most of these players feature over time.

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 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.

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 60-41

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 those players we have ranked 60-41.

#60 Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
14/04/2001 | 179cm | 73kg

The only State Draft Combine player in our Power Rankings, the Eastern Ranges ball magnet has been one of the more consistent players this year. One of the few unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invite, Stapleton has plenty of tricks despite his size, and can win the ball inside or out. In season 2019, Stapleton averaged 22.3 disposals, 2.5 marks, 5.2 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.1 tackles from 13 games, predominantly playing an inside role. His hands in close were very good, with athletic traits that are handy but could still improve such as his in-game acceleration – clocking a sub-three second 20m sprint at the State Combine, and his kicking consistency. A rough chance still, but should have done enough to find a place on an AFL list.

#59 Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

Mr Consistent, Sandringham’s fearless captain has been as reliable as just about anyone in the NAB League this season. Byrnes can play inside or out, wins the ball out of a stoppage and has a trademark five-step burst to create separation from his opponent and send the ball inside 50 to leading teammates. His kicking could certainly sharpen up, but he can use either foot which makes him more of an asset, and while he is shorter compared to some inside midfielders, he has the readymade frame to compete at senior level. Almost missed out on a bottom-age year at Sandringham and has been a workhorse to put himself in a position where he could be drafted. Just a no-fuss footballer who leads by actions and will be a popular player at a club should he be selected.

#58 Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

On upside, Jeka is a lot higher, but it is just piecing all of his traits together for some consistency. He is an elite contested mark, is virtually an eight-second flat agility test and near three seconds 20m sprint candidate. This athleticism is something rare in players of his size, but the inconsistencies of the past few years, as well as finding his best position – between forward and back – means he is still a raw prospect who has to develop. Given his traits, if he can be put to work and learn off a more aggressive mentor at an AFL club, then he will add more to his game. He has the physicality to really worry opposition defenders when leading out, it is just showing it on a more consistent basis. His best is winning a game off his own boot, but it just happens in seldom, so the best is yet to come from the Western Jets tall.

#57 Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender
25/04/2001 | 185cm | 74kg

An interesting prospect, Butler at his best can be a damaging half-back who floats through the middle and wins plenty of the ball. When it comes to off-field testing, Butler’s numbers do not jump off a page. But when it comes to in-game work, he moves well and has the smarts to evade opponents with ball-in-hand and open up space for his teammates. He seems a confidence player, because when he starts hitting targets, he can hardly miss, but when he sprays the odd kick early, he can be a bit more error prone throughout the game. Showed plenty throughout his school footballing, and finished the NAB League season averaging 23 disposals and three rebounds a game.

#56 Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

A lightly built, but talented outside midfielder with some good size, Shute is the stereotypical winger who likes to run and create from the back half going forward. Shute has nice foot skills with a touch of class, as well as a high work rate that sees him push up and down the ground. His endurance could still improve, as could his impact per possession, and while standing at 73kg, Shute could add size to his frame. Overall though, Shute has a nice outside game from which clubs can work with, and is one of the more prominent wingers available in the AFL Draft crop. He could go higher than this based on his ball use and outside run, but is still a developing talent.

#55 Flynn Perez
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder
25/08/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

One of the players hardest to rate this year, Perez has missed his entire top-age season after injuring his knee late last year at a Vic Country camp. From what he showed as a bottom-ager, Perez has some neat outside traits, and class when in close. He moves well and is a creator for his team, it is just about getting some consistency in both his disposal and game. At 188cm, Perez is a nice height for a midfielder, and when adding in his athleticism, the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder is unlikely to be forgotten by an AFL club come November.

#54 Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Considered a potential first rounder at the start of the year, Bryan has slipped down the order after an inconsistent year. He had a good finals series, particularly in the last couple of games which gave recruiters another glimpse at the highly athletic ruck. While he is far from the finished product, it is hard to imagine he will be overlooked based on his sub three-second 20m sprint and his size at 202cm makes him a valuable commodity. While he might not have the consistency of some of the other talls higher on the list, he has plenty of upside and a club could certainly find a need for Bryan should they be on the lookout for another ruck.

#53 Josh Honey
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
17/10/2001 | 185cm | 82kg

Another player with great upside, Honey has the versatility to rotate between midfield and forward, and is an athlete to-boot. Honey was one of the more impressive performers at the National Draft Combine, clocking up times of 2.97 seconds (20m sprint) and 8.10 seconds (agility test). His consistency can be a worry at times, particularly when it comes to influence throughout long periods in games, with his accumulation lower than most other comparable players – 16.1 disposals per game. But when on his game, Honey has that hurt factor about him, with his clean hands and defensive pressure – 4.6 tackles per game – a feature, as well as his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly, contributing 12 goals in 14 games at NAB League level, and two from two at the Under-18 National Championships.

#52 Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

A really consistent and reliable defender, Pasini is a player who could step up and play from early on in his career. At 193cm, Pasini is a little undersized to match up against the bigger-bodied key forwards, so will likely fill out as a running defender who takes a third tall, or could play on smaller players if need be. He has the skill level to be that offensive running back, and he reads the ball in flight really well. Averaging 18.3 disposals and 4.1 marks at WAFL Colts level from seven games, Pasini also got a call-up to both the Reserves and League sides for Swan Districts where he did not look out of place in two and one games respectively. After playing for Western Australia at the Under-18 Championships as a bottom-ager, Pasini returned as a top-ager and again was able to provide a steadying influence, picking up his rebound numbers to average two per game.

#51 Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Similar to Perez, Georgiades is one who is hard to read where he goes. On talent, he could be a top 30 pick, but the fact a quad injury has kept him out of action throughout his entire top-age year would be a concern. He is too talented and has too much upside to not be looked at, and with his vertical leap (85cm running) and acceleration (2.925 seconds 20m sprint), Georgiades is a headache for any defender. Once the air space is clear and there is a body in front of him, expect the high-flying forward to sit on their head and bring the ball down. While he has not been able to show any improvements this year due to injury, he could also improve his defensive attributes, with few tackles despite his obvious athletic talent. In terms of what he offers offensively however, Georgiades can be a dominant goal kicker both in the air and at ground level and be that X-factor that sets him aside from other tall forwards in this draft.

#50 Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

A versatile player who could well end up as a key forward and second ruck, Comben is capable of playing either role to a high standard. His ruck craft itself is good, and his second efforts at ground level such as laying a follow-up tackle or providing a block or shepherd is impressive. He can float forward and lead out of the goalsquare with sticky hands and an ability to crash a pack if needed. He has had his fair share of injuries over the journey so is arguably a tad behind on his development. But the fact he has come such a long way in his top-age year means Comben has plenty of upside for the future and is one who clubs can look to for the long term if they are after a bigger body up forward who can play that second ruck role to a t. Could be the second ruck picked in the AFL Draft, depending on how clubs view his progress against Bryan’s and what they are looking for, but we have him here due to his versatility and greater consistency over the season, as well as impact at the Under-18 National Championships for Vic Country.

#49 Liam Delahunty
GWS GIANTS/Allies | Forward/Defender
13/02/2001 | 192cm | 91kg

A member of the GWS GIANTS Academy, where Delahunty ends up on draft night will be interesting considering the GIANTS’ picks in this year’s draft. With Pick 6 likely to be Tom Green, Delahunty could be matched with one of the later picks, potentially 59 or 60. If the GIANTS choose to trade up to grab a second elite talent to avoid using Pick 6 on Green, then matching Green with their few picks, they might struggle to match a bid. Either way, Delahunty has shown enough to suggest a club could use a player of his services, with his kicking ability and reliability up forward – or in defence at times. He is a strong mark and covers the ground well, and while he is undersized, he could develop into a midfielder with time if required, and given his smarts could be very handy there. He could improve his accumulation numbers from ground level with the majority of his touches coming from marks. Once he develops that area of his game, he can have an equal impact at ground level as he can in the air.

#48 Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193m | 90kg

The Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner from the championships two years ago, Finlay has remained consistent across all areas. While his ground balls and decision making at times could improve, his work without the ball is top notch, able to intercept at will across half-back. He will likely play as that third tall defender, and has superb agility for a player of his size, and captained his school, Prince Alfred College (PAC) during the season. He reads the play well and is a dominant one-on-one player who could play from early on in his career if given the chance, but still has those areas to work on and will undoubtedly do so. A potent defensive weapon, Finlay might be the awkward size at 192cm, but he is a two-way player, nullifying an opponent and creating drive from half-back.

#47 Noah Cumberland
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies | Forward
15/03/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A player we at Draft Central are a fan of, Cumberland has some seriously great athletic traits. In particular his break-neck speed coming off a flank or charging down the ground, recording a 2.931-second 20m sprint and 8.208-second agility test at the National Draft Combine. Tied to the Lions’ Academy, Cumberland could well be the first Lion bid on in the AFL Draft, and his versatility and high upside would be something attractive to the club and other clubs. He is a great pressure player as well, with his aggression at both the ball and opponent, and with ball-in-hand or without. He averaged almost five tackles a game at the championships, and while he will want to lift his accumulation and kicking consistency – he averaged just the 11 touches per game – he has some great traits from which a club can develop.

#46 Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

As reliable and competitive as they come, Smith is a defender who can play both offensive and defensive roles, and almost always achieve the team requirement of him by the end of the game. Rarely having a game where he does not in some part contribute, Smith will attack contests without fear for his own safety, and also provide rebound out of the back half. He ticks a lot of boxes across the board, and while he could improve his speed, and add more dimensions to his game up the ground, his flexibility to play against taller or smaller opponents is a bonus. His one-on-one strength helps him take on the stronger players, while his competitive nature helps him challenge those with greater athletic traits. His rebounding and intercept marking, as well as his penetrating kick are other features of his game, and he is a player who will be loved by teammates, but bemoaned by opposition players.

#45 Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

There are not too many readymade key defenders in this AFL Draft, which makes Hilder a unique prospect for clubs. If an AFL club is contending and needs a key position player who is more prepared to tackle senior footy earlier in his career, then Hilder looms as a value mid-draft option. While he is not as agile as some others, and could work on his ground ball craft, Hilder is strong in the air, and composed with ball-in-hand in defence. Much like his North Adelaide teammate Finlay, Hilder has experienced all three levels of SANFL football this year, with eight games at Reserves level his predominant grade. He was as reliable as they came for South Australia at the national carnival, and is a nullifying defender who can take an opposition forward out of the game, averaging almost five marks from 12.5 disposals per game at the championships.

#44 Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

Another player who is difficult to rate and could go anywhere from 30 to 60 is Sharman, who had plenty of highlights this year since joining the Oakleigh Chargers program. Having made the move from New South Wales to Victoria and playing out at Balwyn, Sharman burst onto the scene with a few hauls of goals, including four against Eastern Ranges in a tight game. His goal kicking accuracy and marking is quite impressive, and while he has to build his endurance and other areas of his game to be more of a complete package, Sharman has that upside which clubs will hope to harness. For a player of his size with his smarts and X-factor, Sharman could play that third tall role inside 50 and with his athleticism, he is able to play as a leading forward out of the square.

#43 Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

A smart player who knows how to find the ball and use it delicately to hit targets over short distances like very few can, Mahony is a bit of a unique option as a small utility. Predominantly used in the forward half, Mahony is still light, but can compete with players in contested situations, and with his footy IQ and creativity, Mahony rarely makes too many mistakes by hand or foot. In saying that, his size will always come into question as a sub-180cm player, with Mahony lacking that explosiveness that others have playing a similar role. He will likely become that half-forward who can rotate through the middle, mainly because of his ability to pinpoint players inside 50 with sharp 45-degree kicks in between a host of opponents. Importantly, Mahony does not try and go for too much outside his limitations and therefore is highly influential with the game he employs.

#42 Trey Ruscoe
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Defender
03/11/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

A bit undersized to be a key defender at the elite level, Trey Ruscoe has proven to be a player who can easily play that role in the WAFL Colts, and while that is against lighter bodies, he will be challenged to do so against bigger-bodied forwards. In saying that, Ruscoe has great strength and the skills to also play as a running half-back. He has spent time in the midfield which is an area he can further develop and potentially become a readymade inside midfielder who can have an influence around the stoppages. Ruscoe is ultra-competitive and positions himself well in the defensive 50, but could play a midfield-defence hybrid role with his running capacity and versatility to play either position.

#41 Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A good sized inside midfielder who might be somewhat underrated compared to his peers due to injury issues that ruled him out of early season games then was injured in the opening quarter of his Under-18 Championships match. What he offers to a club is a big body with an appetite for winning the ball in the contest. His disposal (24.7), clearance (5.2) and tackling (7.9) numbers are right up there with the best, and his defensive approach to the game will certainly win him over at AFL level. His outside game and athleticism could do with some work, as could his ability to hit the scoreboard, but lock him in to be a inside midfielder who can provide a presence around the stoppages, especially once he has added more size to his frame in the coming years.

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the October edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we extend out to the top 35 players at this stage of the year. So much can change over the next month, but the order is firming as combines are completed around the country. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs.

#1 Matt Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

September Ranking: #1

Last month: Had a terrific finals series for Oakleigh Chargers and capped off what was a massive, yet still unsurprising top-age year with a 44-disposal and 11-clearance NAB League Grand Final to lead the Chargers to a premiership. It was his second best on ground in the competition’s ultimate decider despite losing 12 months prior, but this year there was more cause for celebration, just like when he capped off the season with a Best and Fairest victory for the Chargers off just seven games.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

September Ranking: #2

Last month: Became a premiership player with the Chargers this year and while he did not hit the scoreboard in two of his finals, still showed great strength on the inside, then dominated the preliminary final win over Sandringham Dragons, slotting three goals from 23 touches and four marks.

#3 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

September Ranking: #3

Last month: Did all he could across the finals series for Gippsland, with the Power ultimately falling short once again this year. In the Power’s three finals, he averaged more than 25 touches per game, as well as four marks, five tackles, five inside 50s and booted three goals.

#4 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

September Ranking: #4

Last month: Has not played since the last Power Rankings, but tested well at the National Draft Combine, beating his previous agility record in the pre-season but clocking a sub-eight second agility test last week.

#5 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

September Ranking: #5

Last month: Has not played, but showed off his athletic capabilities at the National Draft Combine, doing well across the board including a sub-three second 20-metre sprint which would have not come as a surprise, but still showed what he is capable of from half-back.

#6 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

September Ranking: #6

Last month: Since his qualifying final demolition of four goals in 10 minutes, Flanders had two very different games, with a quiet match against the Western Jets in the semi-final racking up just 18 touches and a goal – though seven tackles – before doing well against Eastern Ranges in the preliminary final despite the loss, with 27 disposals, five tackles and four inside 50s.

#7 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

September Ranking: #7

Last month: Has missed the past month with a knee injury.

#8 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

September Ranking: #8

Last month: After his League side was eliminated from the SANFL premiership race, Stephens was brought into the Redlegs’ Reserves Grand Final side where he had 26 disposals, three marks, five clearances, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds on his way to a premiership medal. He also tested strongly across the board at the National Draft Combine.

#9 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

September Ranking: #9

Last month: Unfortunately for Kemp, he went down with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear in July school game and missed the remainder of the season.

#10 Fischer McAsey

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 86kg

McAsey is a key position defender who has played up the attacking end in previous years. He has found his place in the defence in 2019. and seems to be a settled player there not only doing well for Sandringham Dragons and at Caulfield Grammar, but stepping up for Vic Metro at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He is considered one of the draft bolters this season, with not too many key position talls jumping up, McAsey is a player who is firmly putting his hand up as a top 10 prospect should his form continue, and he has plenty of traits to like. His intercept marking, athleticism and ball use by foot is very solid and does not have too many weaknesses across the board.

September Ranking: #10

Last month: Did not play after the first final, cited in a moon boot on semi-finals day for the NAB League. Still looms as the first key position player taken despite the injury ending his year.

#11 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

September Ranking: #11

Last month: Given East Fremantle Colts missed finals, Jackson has not been able to play since August but has enough runs on the board to give himself a first round chance.

#12 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendencies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

September Ranking: #12

Last month: Had a strong finish to the year for Glenelg in the finals series, taking home a premiership medallion after 18 disposals, four marks and eight rebounds in the Grand Final.

#13 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

September Ranking: #13

Last month: Similar to Jackson, given East Fremantle Colts missed out on finals, Rivers has not played in the past month but still looms as one of the top couple of players to be picked from Western Australia.

#14 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

September Ranking: #14

Last month: Captained his side to a premiership in the NAB League after a terrific finals series. After being tightly held early, Bianco got off the chain to finish with 29 touches, 10 marks and six inside 50s. This followed on from his 27 touches, six marks and five inside 50s in the preliminary final win over the Dragons.

#15 Finn Maginness

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 187cm | 80kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

September Ranking: #17

Last month: After a massive 32-disposal game which included a goal against Calder Cannons, Maginnes was quiet in the Dragons’ preliminary final loss to Oakleigh, amassing just 13 touches. He competed strongly in both the 20-metre sprint (2.957 seconds) and the yo-yo test (21.4 level) to finish top 10 and show off his blend of endurance and speed.

#16 Will Day

West Adelaide/South Australia | General Defender
17/01/2001 | 187cm | 70kg

The underrated South Australian utility has been one of the big improvers this season, showing off some nice signs at school football and then South Australia at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. Like Weightman, Day has been on the periphery of our Power Rankings the past two months, and after some solid performances at the national carnival, makes the list for July. Day has shown signs similar to last year’s bolter, Jez McLennan who had a good carnival and emerged as a top 30 prospect with nice foot skills and composure. Day can kick on either side of his body and is a good size at 187cm despite still being very light at 70kg.

September Ranking: #23

Last month: Finished off the finals series in the Under 18s side with 22 disposals, nine rebounds and four clearances in a losing West Adelaide team at the preliminary finals stage. His consistency across the year and lethal kicking skills were on show and have been real standouts this year. He also finished top 15 in the running vertical leap with a score of 83cm.

#17 Miles Bergman

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
18/10/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

A talented mid/forward, Bergman is strong overhead and can have an impact anywhere inside 50 with a penetrating kick and eye for goals. Bergman is not a massive disposal winner, but can win a game off his own boot. He still has areas of consistency to work on, but in terms of medium forwards, Bergman has been one of the more consistent ones this year, and looms as a potential first round selection.

September Ranking: #15

Last month: Had a quiet semi-final against Calder Cannons with just four touches for the day, before being okay in Sandringham’s heavy loss to Oakleigh in the preliminary final, finishing with 14 touches, five marks, five tackles and a goal. At the National Draft Combine, Bergman topped the vertical jump with 77cm and came second in the running vertical jump with a massive 90cm.

#18 Liam Henry

Claremont/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 179cm | 67kg

A member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy, Henry is another lightly built midfielder who can go forward and impact a game inside 50. Henry has nice skills and slick athletic traits that help him work his way out of congestion while making good decisions with ball-in-hand. He does need to find a bit more of the football at times which is the next step, but he is a player who will rarely waste a possession and one who Fremantle fans would be excited to have on their list. Still has scope to develop further, and grow into his body at just 67kg and another sub-180cm midfielder. One who would be keen to finish off the year strongly – although perhaps Fremantle would prefer he kept it in check. A highly talented player.

September Ranking: #17

Last month: Unfortunately dislocated his knee in a school football match and has not returned since his impressive 26-disposal, six-mark, two-goal game in Round 14.

#19 Deven Robertson

Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 182cm | 80kg

The massive ball-winning midfielder from Western Australia was been a dominant force in the AFL Under 18 National Championships after injury last year, and has boosted his draft ranking after the carnival. He still has areas to tidy up such as kicking under pressure, but would stake a case of the most consistent player in the draft crop and you know exactly what you are going to get from him.

September ranking: #26

Last month: Robertson is done for the year, needing a shoulder reconstruction after dislocating his shoulder in the final championships game. One who has not lost out due to missing out on games with his consistency in big games the reason for his rise as others fall around him.

#20 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College.

September Ranking: #20

Last month: His season is over after a shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2019 season.

#21 Mitch O'Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Outside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

September Ranking: #18

Last month: Has not played in the past couple of months after injury and his side not making the NAB League finals series.

#22 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitement machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

September Ranking: #22

Last month: After missing the first couple of finals, Taheny returned to Norwood for the Reserves’ Grand Final where he looked fresh, booting four goals from eight disposals in a big game up forward to help the Redlegs win the flag in the competition.

#23 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required.

September Ranking: #19

Last month: Had a couple of impressive finals before a quieter 14-disposal game in the SANFL Reserves Grand Final where his Eagles’ side went down to Norwood in the decider. A bit up and down at times, but has shown nice signs throughout the year.

#24 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

September Ranking: #21

Last month: Has not played in the past two months with back stress fractures ending his year.

#25 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month. Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions.

September Ranking: #25

Last month: Did not get on the park since Round 3 due to his long-term injury but was cherry ripe for the National Draft Combine Testing, finishing as the equal winner in the yo-yo test with a 21.8, as well as a top 15 finish in the running vertical leap with 83cm.

#26 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

August Ranking: #24

Last month: Did not play finals this year given the SUNS missed the NEAFL post-season series, but impressed at the National Draft Combine with a 21.6 yo-yo test and an 8.242 agility test. A free hit for Gold Coast with the new draft concessions and a value one at that.

#27 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

September Ranking: #27

Last month: Did not play finals for East Fremantle given the Sharks missed out, but had a 2.966 20-metre sprint and 21.3 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine.

#28 Cody Weightman

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

For the first two months of our Power Rankings, the electric small forward has been on the periphery of making it, and after a terrific national carnival – where he booted four goals in two of his three games – Weightman makes it into the Power Rankings in July. He has a high ceiling given he can create goals out of nothing and score from general play or set shots and has a powerful kicking action to boot. Just 177cm and 73kg, Weightman is another light prospect who has plenty of development left in him. Could be another player who lights up NAB League finals as he is a big game player.

September Ranking: #28

Last month: Given the Stingrays were knocked out in the first week of finals, Weightman has not played NAB League in the past month, but tested well in the vertical jump at the National Draft Combine with 69cm in the standing and 83cm in the running.

#29 Elijah Taylor

Perth/Western Australia | General Forward
01/05/2001 | 185cm | 75kg

Taylor has X-factor and plenty of scope for the future as a medium forward. He always looks damaging when in possession and a worry for opposition defenders when not in possession. He is still raw compared to other forwards, but his ceiling is quite high and no doubt clubs will keep him on their radar. He has been a talented player for some time, but he has started to string together impressive performances to put his name into top 30 calculations. A key player for Perth in the WAFL and stepped up during the AFL Under-18 National Championships.

September Ranking: #30

Last month: Has not played in the past month since his two goals at Reserves level, but blew away draft watchers with a 8.005-second agility test at the National Draft Combine – second overall at the combine behind Hayden Young.

#30 Harry Schoenberg

Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 180cm | 78kg

The South Australian midfielder surprised a lot of people on his way to his state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the National Under-18 Championships. He throughly deserved it with the second most disposals behind overall MVP winner Deven Robertson, Schoenberg was crucial on the inside, while being able to go outside as well. He still has areas to work on, but he has a nice balance and is consistent as they come, playing at both Under-18 and Reserves level in the SANFL for Woodville-West Torrens.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: After starting the year in the Under 18s, his consistency earned him a place in the Eagles’ Reserves side and he stayed there ever since, including the finals series in the past month. While the Eagles ultimately went down in the decider, Schoenberg had 20 disposals, three marks, six clearances and six tackles in the big game. He averaged 22 disposals and six clearances across his three finals to really step up against senior players.

#31 Thomson Dow

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Balanced Midfielder
16/10/2001 | 183cm | 72kg

The brother of Carlton’s Paddy did a good job of forging his own path this season, splitting his time between school football, NAB League and Under-18 Championships. In his five games for the Pioneers, Dow averaged 21.6 disposals, 4.4 marks and 3.0 clearances, spending time between midfield and forward. He provided a target up forward as he needed to buildup his endurance in season 2019, but has some nice athletic traits such as his agility to get out of stoppages. Still a raw prospect, he has always been in the top half of the draft calculations.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Did not end up playing finals after the Pioneers were eliminated in the Wildcard Round. At the National Draft Combine, Dow ranked third overall in the agility test with a time of 8.061 seconds.

#32 Harrison Jones

Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 194cm | 75kg

The Calder Cannons and Vic Metro key position utility has played in all thirds of the ground, with the forward half seemingly his most effective role, particularly roaming further up the ground. He spent time assisting in the ruck despite being 194cm, with his leap able to match well against taller opponents. He still has plenty of development left in him, and it would not be a surprise to see a club take a chance inside the top 20 given the lack of quality talls in the 2019 draft.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Jones’ year ended in the semi-finals with a loss to Sandringham Dragons, with the tall utility picking up 15 touches and laying five tackles, backing up his 11 and eight the week before. He tested well across the board at the National Draft Combine last week with running vertical jump (83cm), 20m sprint (2.963 seconds) and yo-yo test (21.4) giving him a great all-round mix of athleticism.

#33 Darcy Cassar

Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Utility
31/07/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

As a bottom-ager last year, Cassar thrived as a half-forward/wing who would move the ball in transition and show power in his running to be able to impact for his side going inside 50. He is capable of hitting the scoreboard while playing in the forward half, but as he has shown so far in season 2019, he is just as adaptable in defence. Cassar has spent the season in the backline for the Western Jets, averaging a massive 28.2 disposals, 6.8 marks and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has added that element to his game, and expect him to be a versatile player at the national championships for Vic Metro, playing up whichever end is required of him, while also being able to play in the midfield.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: The Jets were eliminated in the semi-finals by Gippsland Power, with Cassar picking up the 17 disposals and three marks in that game after a quiet game against Northern Knights in the elimination final where he had 11 touches and just the one rebound. His form prior to that was quite good, but just showed the consistency to iron out at the next level.

#34 Sam De Koning

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 200cm | 85kg

De Koning enjoyed a strong Under-18 National Championships, named All-Australian at full-back after a strong carnival for Vic Country. His form at NAB League level was inconsistent at times, though he can play up either end and even through the ruck. His best position appears to be in defence however, with his intercept marking, positioning and reading of the play top notch. He looks likely to be taken in the first half of the draft with talls at a premium this year and he is a versatile one at that.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Has not played since the Stingrays were eliminated in the elimination final against Calder, where he had just the seven touches and two marks.

#35 Fraser Phillips

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | General Forward
15/05/2001 | 186cm | 71kg

A talented medium forward with high upside, Phillips is a player who can do the impossible inside 50, but like many forwards, struggle with consistency. At his best, Phillips can kick multiple goals off limited possessions, and his season with Gippsland Power has been steadily improving after a slow start. He is great overhead and works hard to maintain an impact even when he is not able to do so closer to goal. Having featured in the Power Rankings earlier in the year, Phillips is still around the mark because of that high ceiling he could reach with strong development.

September Ranking: #N/A

Last month: Gippsland Power made it through to a preliminary final, with Phillips averaging 12 disposals. four marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and booting four goals in his three finals. His year was consistent hitting the scoreboard in all but two of his games, including bags of five and four goals, to finish with 28 majors from 15 games.

Others in contention

Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)
Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
Cooper Sharman (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Sam Philp (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
Liam Delahunty (GWS GIANTS Academy/NSW-ACT)

Next month… The final edition of Power Rankings. A top 50 released with 50-26 followed by 25-1.

NAB League Boys 2019 Preliminary Final preview: Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS (3rd, 11-4) vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS (4th, 9-6)
Saturday September 14, 11:00am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Match Preview:

The Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons meet for the fourth time this year with both sides looking to book their tickets to the NAB League Grand Final.

These sides have produced two of the highest quality Under-18 games in recent memory with both squads at full strength, with Sandringham prevailing by 10 points in Round 3, but going down in the Round 17 grudge match which saw the Chargers snatch third spot. The mid-year fixture between the sides should not be discounted either, as Oakleigh’s Round 12 win over the depleted Dragons produced the greatest margin of the three bouts (18 points).

While the Dragons have shown their capacity to do so, Oakleigh is typically the higher-scoring team and pose dynamic threats inside 50 in the form of athletic talls Cooper Sharman and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Add Noah Anderson to that mix and you have a trio of game-winners, with Anderson’s top-two touted mate Matt Rowell an ever-consistent force through the midfield. But that is not to discount Sandringham’s star power around the ground, with the Dragons boasting a whopping 18 combine invitees and a chance to field at least 16 of them as Jack Mahony hurries back from injury. Should he be included, another dimension would be added to the all-important midfield battle which Oakleigh so resoundingly won late-on in the sides’ Round 17 meeting. Finn Maginness and Darcy Chirgwin have been the answers on the inside, with the likes of Hugo Ralphsmith and Miles Bergman able to impact the contest from the wing or half-forward. Their dynamism will also be key inside 50 with Charlie Dean one who could be forced to move back given their athletic capabilities.

Speaking of backlines, Oakleigh co-captain Trent Bianco will look to out-do Sandringham counterpart Louis Butler for damage and rebound off the flanks, while Corey Watts looms as an intercepting threat for the Dragons – a role he performed so well last time out against Oakleigh. Whichever side shuts down the space best is likely to get on top, with both teams possessing weapons going forward in the kicking department.

Going on recent form and the ledger between these two high-class teams in 2019, it is hard to look past the charging Oakleigh side. They found a way when down and out in Round 17, so that has to be a mental factor whichever way this game goes. The pair of Anderson and Rowell is also key, with no side able to truly match them. They may well again drag Oakleigh over the line, but discount the Dragons at your own peril.

Prediction: Oakleigh by 13 points

Key match-ups:

Cooper Sharman vs. Corey Watts

Keeping both Sharman and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan quiet will be no mean feat, but Watts tried his level best to do so in Round 17. He seldom found himself in one-on-one duels with the pair, but matched up on Sharman when deep inside 50 last time out and could find himself doing the same here. Watts’ reading of the ball in flight will be important as he is given the license to intercept, but that kind of game while manning the dynamic Sharman is a difficult balancing act. The Chargers have many avenues to goal and a bunch of X-factor type players, so nullifying at least one of them will be key for the Dragons.

Noah Anderson vs. Finn Maginness

This is nothing short of a dream match-up. Anderson and Maginness put their respective teams on their backs in Round 17 with three goals apiece among their midfield work, and their capacities to influence the game in each area of the ground makes them so important. Sandringham were beaten at the crunch moments that day and coach Josh Bourke has asked for them to respond, so watch for someone like Maginness to lead that cause on the inside. On the other hand, Anderson is rarely kept quiet and stands up when it counts, so will inevitably have his own say on the contest.

Head to Head:

2019:

Oakleigh Chargers – 2
Sandringham Dragons – 1

Overall:

Oakleigh Chargers – 24
Sandringham Dragons – 23

Teams:

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

B: 15. K. Schreiber, 36. R. Valentine, 34. V. Zagari
HB: 5. T. Bianco, 52. N. Guiney, 49. H. Mastras
C: 39. R. McInnes, 6. J. Lucas, 9. W. Phillips
HF: 27. J. May, 25. J. Ugle-Hagan, 61. C. Stone
F: 29. F. Macrae, 73. C. Sharman, 77. N. Stathopoulos
R: 4. N. Bryan, 8. N. Anderson, 11. M. Rowell
Int: 58. Y. Dib, 18. F. Elliot, 22. T. Graham, 12. L. Jenkins, 30. S. Tucker, 17. G. Varagiannis, 1. L. Westwood
23P: 2. B. Laurie

In: G. Varagiannis, S. Tucker, Y. Dib

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 18. J. Lloyd, 33. C. Watts, 37. W. Mackay
HB: 13. L. Butler, 12. C. Dean, 7. J. Voss
C: 43. J. Bowey, 5. R. Byrnes, 15. A. Hanrahan
HF: 9. N. Burke, 26. J. Castan, 16. J. Mifsud
F: 36. O. Lewis, 6. M. Bergman, 11. H. Ralphsmith
R: 30. A. Courtney, 2. D. Chirgwin, 4. F. Maginness
Int: 3. G. Grey, 51. D. Hipwell, 10. J. Le Grice , 74. H. Loughnan, 17. T. Milne, 39. B. O’Leary, 14. K. Yorke
23P: 35. C. Chesser

In: T. Milne, D. Hipwell, K. Yorke, J. Le Grice
Out: O. Lord

NAB League Boys 2019 Finals Series preview: Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

EASTERN RANGES (1st, 12-3) vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS (4th, 9-6)
Saturday, August 31, 2.00pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Match Preview:

One of the most interesting clashes for the weekend pits top-of-the-table Eastern Ranges against fourth placed Sandringham Dragons for a spot in the preliminary final. On paper, one side has had a dominant season, winning 12 of a possible 15 games and beaten its opponent on both occasions they have met, while the opponents has won nine out of 15 and survived a knockout Wildcard Round match by providing a KO in the opening term to run away with the easiest of wins. It is therefore remarkable that the top side heads in as the underdog in this clash, but with Sandringham back at full strength – a luxury they were not afforded in the previous two encounters with the Ranges – it is hard not to see them coming away with the win. If form is an indicator, the Ranges got past Calder in the final round of the season with the Cannons narrowly scraping past bottom two side Tasmania. While Sandringham easily belted Geelong last week, they surrendered a 29-point lead against Oakleigh to lose the right to a week off after being overrun in the final term. Eastern has been the feel good story of 2019, rising from eleventh and escaping the wooden spoon by percentage, to be the dominant home and away side of the competition. But the theory that they are a champion team was proven right with no National Draft Combine invites – instead a host of names heading to the state and Rookie Me combines. Sandringham on the other hand had a remarkable 11 National Draft Combine invites, and while some of them – Jack Mahony and Josh Worrell – will not be out there, they still have enviable amounts of talent across the ground. Eastern’s midfield simply has to get on top of the Dragons because we saw last week what happens when the likes of Ryan Byrnes, Darcy Chirgwin and Finn Maginness get on top. Add in Miles Bergman who kicks goals for fun, and Hugo Ralphsmith, Charlie Dean and Fischer McAsey all of whom hit the scoreboard regularly and the team is stacked for talent. For Eastern, Mitch Mellis, Zakery Pretty and Lachlan Stapleton have all been in superb form this year, and adding in the key position defensive duo of James Ross and Joel Nathan, and the forward pairing of tall Jamieson Rossiter and small Jordan Jaworski, and the side has players who can get off the chain at both ends. Their defence is as reliable as they come, and while their forward line does not have a dominant goal kicker like some sides, they rely on a host of unpredictable goal scoring options which makes them hard to stop going forward. Everyone loves a good underdog story and it is hard to imagine the top side would be the underdog heading into the game, but their pressure game will aim to put the Dragons to the test early and try and put scores on the board before the Dragons can get a run-on.

Prediction: Sandringham Dragons by 20 points.

Key match-ups:

Zakery Pretty/Mitch Mellis/Lachlan Stapleton vs. Finn Maginness/Darcy Chirgwin/Ryan Byrnes

The coalface is where the game is to be won and both these sides have midfielders who can accumulate plenty of the football and clearances. The Dragons trio of Maginness, Chirgwin and Byrnes average 67 disposals between them per game, while the combination of Pretty, Mellis and Stapleton are not far behind with 65.

James Ross vs. Fischer McAsey

The key match-up outside the midfield battle is that inside the Dragons’ forward 50 with All-Australian centre half-back McAsey playing a key role up forward and marking everything that comes his way. Eastern captain Ross will be the main man to try and nullify his influence, while still creating rebound out of the back 50.

Head to Head:

2019:
Eastern Ranges – 2
Sandringham Dragons – 0

Overall:
Eastern Ranges – 24
Sandringham Dragons – 30

Teams:

EASTERN RANGES

B: 10. C. Black, 39. J. Nathan, 40. J. Hourihan
HB: 16. T. Garner, 21. J. Ross, 19. W. Parker
C: 20. C. Downie, 7. L. Stapleton, 30. T. Edwards
HF: 11. M. Mellis, 18. B. McCormack, 52. T. Sonsie
F: 9. J. Duffy, 13. J. Rossiter, 27. J. Jaworski
R: 49. R. Smith, 23. Z. Pretty, 45. M. Zalac
Int: 4. J. Clarke, 14. L. Gawel, 1. K. Hubber, 26. C. Norris, 41. K. Phelan, 59. B. Tennant, 53. J. Tilly
23P: 44. H. Keeling

In: K. Phelan, K. Hubber, B. Tennant, C. Norris, J. Tilly, H. Keeling
Out: B. Hickleton, J. Soligo, J. Gilbee

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 9. N. Burke, 33. C. Watts, 18. J. Lloyd
HB: 13. L. Butler, 29. F. McAsey, 74. H. Loughnan
C: 15. A. Hanrahan, 5. R. Byrnes, 36. O. Lewis
HF: 6. M. Bergman, 14. K. Yorke, 11. H. Ralphsmith
F: 3. G. Grey, 12. C. Dean, 39. B. O’Leary
R: 32. J. Bell, 2. D. Chirgwin, 4. F. Maginness
Int: 43. J. Bowey, 26. J. Castan, 30. A. Courtney, 51. D. Hipwell, 10. J. Le Grice , 37. W. Mackay, 17. T. Milne
23P: 49. L. Carrigan

In: L. Carrigan, T. Milne, J. Castan, D. Hipwell, G. Grey
Out: A. Perkins, J. Voss

2019 NAB League Boys Team of the Year announced

SANDRINGHAM Dragons have topped the nominees for the NAB League Boys Team of the Year, with four players receiving nods for their outstanding seasons. Top three sides Oakleigh and Gippsland each had three nominees along with 2018 premiers Dandenong, while 2019 minor premiers Eastern had two players make the team.

Of the 24 players selected, only two – Northern’s Sam Philp and Western’s Lucas Rocci – did not feature in the mid-year National Championships, with Philp receiving a National Combine invite on the back of his form. The squad features the likes of Vic Country MVP Sam De Koning at full back, as well as Country’s co-captains Caleb Serong and Lachlan Ash, while Vic Metro captain Noah Anderson slots in on the wing and their MVP Fischer McAsey comes in at centre half-back, where he earned All Australian selection. Mitch O’Neill is the sole Tasmanian representative, with the Devils competitive in their first full NAB League season.

De Koning and McAsey make up the spine of an exciting backline, with elite kicks Ash and Hayden Young familiarly poised on either flank, while the versatile Darcy Cassar fills a pocket alongside Brodie Newman. Jay Rantall is sandwiched by two Oakleigh stars in Anderson and Trent Bianco in the centre, with All Australian Charlie Comben rucking to Matt Rowell and Serong as followers. Up forward, swingmen Brodie Kemp and Josh Worrell fill key position spots in a dynamic six, with national carnival leading goalkicker Cody Weightman named in the forward pocket. Jack Mahony, Sam Flanders, and Mitch Mellis also feature having rotated through the midfield and forward half all year.

The team is headed by Coach of the Year, Eastern Ranges’ Darren Bewick.

Nominees per team:

BP = 1 – B. KEMP
CC = 1 – B. NEWMAN
DS = 3 – H. YOUNG, C. WEIGHTMAN, S. DE KONING
ER = 2 – M. MELLIS, L. STAPLETON
GF = 1 – J. CLARK
GP = 3 – S. FLANDERS, C. COMBEN, C. SERONG
GWV = 1 – J. RANTALL
MB = 1 – L. ASH
NK = 1 – S. PHILP
OC = 3 – N. ANDERSON, T. BIANCO, M. ROWELL
SD = 4 – J. WORRELL, J. MAHONY, F. MCASEY, R. BYRNES
TD = 1 – M. O’NEILL
WJ = 2 – D. CASSAR, L. ROCCI

Dragons reign of fire blows away Falcons in 103-point win

ELEVEN unanswered goals from Sandringham Dragons in the space of 47 minutes gave spectators at Preston City Oval an idea of what the fourth placed side is capable of, completely dismantling Geelong Falcons. The Falcons were brave for the first term, but ultimately overwhelmed once the Dragons’ machine got going, piling on eight goals to zero in the second term to open up a 62-point lead by half-time. Despite the Dragons missing top talents Jack Mahony and Josh Worrell to injury, the side that had double-figure Victorian representatives and draft combine invites went to work and once the pressure eased around the ground, the Dragons took complete control. While the Falcons managed to stem the flow at times, the Dragons still took control in the second half with a nine goals to two half which saw them run out 103-point winners.

Geelong started the game with serious intent against the fourth placed Dragons, keeping them on par in the first half of the opening term. After a scrappy opening few minutes with both defences standing up, Fischer McAsey marked out on the lead 35m from goal. He shanked the kick, but Blake O’Leary was fortuitously in front of his opponent and marked 15m out straight in front to convert and put through the Dragons’ first. Angus Hanrahan and Ryan Byrnes were having a feast in midfield, and while the Falcons domination going forward – more inside 50s finally paid off with a couple of shots on goal, the Dragons defence was steady. Oliver Henry missed a chance with his set shot blowing to the right, before a 50-metre penalty to Archie Hildebrandt handed Geelong the lead midway through the quarter.

It was not long before the combination of Hanrahan, Byrnes and Darcy Chirgwin soon got the Dragons back on top, with Byrnes pumping the ball long inside 50 in front of Kyle Yorke who did the rest with a dribbler from the boundary line. In the final minute, a 50-metre penalty to Chirgwin handed his side a third goal heading into the first break, and a handy 11-point lead. The Dragons’ desire was typified by a crucial one-on-two contest win by Harry Loughnan at half-back who not only nullified the contest while outnumbered, but got the ball to his teammates to run it down the field. Hanrahan (12 disposals) and Byrnes (nine) were dominant, while O’Leary (seven and a goal) and Chirgwin (seven and a goal) were also among the best. For Geelong, Charlie Lazzaro had seven touches, while Tanner Bruhn showed touches of class, and Cam Fleeton took two great intercept marks. Remarkably the Dragons had 40 more disposals (97-57) at quarter time, but the Falcons had an extra inside 50 (9-8).

If there was any doubt about Sandringham’s claim as a genuine NAB League contender, it was put to bed in the second term, as the Dragons negotiated the wind perfectly with a complete domination of the Falcons. They ended the wooden spooners’ hopes of an upset, with eight goals to zero, four of which came in the first nine minutes. In those nine minutes, the Dragons needed just 30 disposals to slam home the four goals, with a Byrnes pass into Jack Bell, Chirgwin hitting up McAsey, Archie Perkins snapping truly, and then the best goal to Hugo Ralphsmith. The midfielder-forward smothered the ball, intercepted it in one motion and bombed long from 50m. Bell plucked out a full bag of tricks with a massive hanger on the wing, and while Jackson Voss’ subsequent shot on goal from Bell’s kick missed in the breeze, it would not be long before the Dragons added more.

Every time Geelong went forward, the Dragons would look composed, run it out of defence and get it straight down the other end, with Josh Le Grice hitting up McAsey for his second, and a forward 50 turnover helping Miles Bergman mark and add his name to the goalkickers list. After the only score of the second term for the Falcons – a double poster from a Gennaro Bove snap – business as usual resumed for the Dragons as Bergman put it through the middle from 50, and then Byrnes added his name to the goalkickers list with the final goal of the quarter – the Dragons’ eleventh. Such was their dominance with the blustery wind, Bergman added a behind after the half-time siren with a bomb from the wing that bounced all the way home thanks to shepherding but went the wrong side of the post. At the main break, the top five ball winners were all Dragons, with Hanrahan and Byrnes the clear best with 18 touches each, while Finn Maginness stepped up in the second term to have 14 by half-time. For the Falcons, Bruhn was one of few to stand up the in second quarter and had 10 touches by the main break. The Dragons’ efficiency was the most impressive, with just 24 more disposals in the term (84-60) but 21 inside 50s to five, and of course eight goals to zero.

The third term was almost identical to the first, with Sandringham doing enough to win the term, booting three goals to one with the blustery wind favouring the Falcons’ end. The Dragons booted their eleventh on the trot thanks to a well-positioned Bergman who marked off a set shot from Chirgwin. Similar to McAsey’s shank in the first term, the ball weirdly dropped short and Bergman rose high to pull it down and convert the goal. Geelong finally broke its goal drought when Bruhn won a free kick in the pocket, and some choice words from Dragons defender led to him earning a 50-metre penalty and kicking from the square with no one on the mark. They had more chances in the term, but the Falcons could not convert with Lazzaro’s shot going wide, and then Bergman’s work around the ground was having a massive impact. The midfield of the Dragons got back on top in the second half of the quarter, with Byrnes running it down the wing and a chain of possessions leading to Charlie Dean in the pocket who centred it to O’Leary for his second straight in front. Dean’s switch to the forward line proved extra beneficial when he took a good grab in the goalsquare off a Ralphsmith high pass, then Dean kicked it from point blank for the Dragons’ third of the term. Both teams suffered injury concerns in the quarter with Henry helped off after coming off second best in a marking contest, and Voss going down with what looked to be a serious leg injury after falling close to the post in defence just before the three quarter time siren. The Dragons were home and hosed heading into the final term, leading by an even 12 goals.

Sandringham ran out the game strongly with the blustery gale still giving them plenty of distance on the kicks going forward. Chirgwin almost added another major to his name early but the set shot missed. Ralphsmith had no such trouble from the boundary line, surprising even himself with a snap around the body sailing through for a miraculous goal. His effort was followed by Maginness – who booted his first of the game – and Bergman who nailed his fourth from a set shot after an uncontested mark inside 50. Max Annadale had an opportunity to kick Geelong’s third of the game against the tide, but sprayed the shot to the right from 15m out after winning the free kick from a great tackle. Dean capitalised up the other end with a goal straight in front, and then Bell booted his second and with six minutes remaining the margin was into triple figures. Hilderbrandt booted a consolation goal for the Falcons late in the game, but Jake Bowey then countered with a goal of his own for the Dragons to run out the game 103-point victors.

Hanrahan finished the game with a match-high 31 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Byrnes picked up 27 dispossals, four marks, eight inside 50s, four tackles and a goal. Chirgwin (27 touches, four marks, four inside 50s, four tackles and a goal), Maginness (27 disposals, five marks, six tackles and four inside 50s) were also prominent through the middle. Bergman was the dominant player with four majors from 17 disposals, eight marks, five inside 50s and four tackles, while Ralphsmith booted two majors from 16 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s. For the Falcons, Lazzaro had 18 touches, three marks, six inside 50s and three tackles, while Noah Gribble (15 disposals, four tackles) and Bruhn (14 disposals, three inside 50s and two tackles) worked hard throughout the game.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.0 | 11.4 | 14.4 | 20.6 (126)
GEELONG FALCONS 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Sandringham: M. Bergman 4, F. McAsey 2, B. O’Leary 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, J. Bell 2, C. Dean 2, K. Yorke, D. Chirgwin, A. Perkins, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, J. Bowey.
Geelong: A. Hildebrandt 2, T. Bruhn.

ADC BEST:

Sandringham: M. Bergman, R. Byrnes, A. Hanrahan, D. Chirgwin, H. Ralphsmith, F. Maginness.
Geelong: T. Bruhn, G. Bove, C. Lazzaro, N. Gribble, J. Clark, C. Karpala.