Tag: jackson archer

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 10

THE Draft Central NAB League Round 10 Team of the Week has dropped, with 24 of the weekend’s best performed-players featuring in a competitive lineup. Player of the Week nominees Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) and Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges) co-captain the side from midfield after stellar displays in their respective regions’ victories.

Lowe’s Devils teammates feature heavily along the spine, which is bookended by over-ager Tyler McGinnis at full back and bottom-ager Tom McCallum at centre half-forward. Both players put in phenomenal aerial performances against Dandenong Stingrays on Sunday, while Lowe was in the thick of the midfield action.

Clarke is joined by teammate Mitchell Sruk (half-back), who helped the Ranges rebound out of defence in tough conditions out in Williamstown. Eastern is the only Round 10 victor with two nominees, while Tasmania, Northern, and Sandringham all contributed three members, and Bendigo Pioneers boast four.

At the other end of the scale, the Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers have just one representative apiece after their respective losses, but could have had a couple more.

The likes of Flynn Lakey, Josh Hamilton, Lachlan Benton, and Jack Hickman arguably produced best afield performances, though the battle for spots in the midfield meant the latter two talents were pushed out to the half-forward flanks. Charlie Byrne was in a similar boat, pushed out to a familiar wing post despite mostly playing on the inside.

A trio of father-son hopefuls also feature in the 24-man squad. Calder’s Dane Whitnall (son of Lance) lines up next to Jackson Archer (Glenn) on the half-back line, while another Carlton-tied player in Charlie McKay (Andrew) snuck in on the bench for his 30-disposal effort.

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 10

B: Ethan Warburton (MB), Tyler McGinnis (TD), Daniel Didomenicantonio (DS)
HB:
Mitchell Sruk (ER), Dane Whitnall (CC), Jackson Archer (NK)
C: Jack Evans (BP), Baynen Lowe (TD, c) Charlie Byrne (MB)
HF:
Jack Hickman (BP), Tom McCallum (TD), Lachlan Benton (SD)
F:
Jack Rossimel (NK), Felix Flockart, Jack Stewart (BP)
FOL: Paul Tsapatolis (WJ), Joshua Clarke (ER, vc), Flynn Lakey (CC)

INT: Sam Clohesy (CC), Sam Collins (OC), Josh Hamilton (NK), Billy Cootee (WJ), Anthony Depasquale (BP), Charlie McKay (SD)

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 10

NAB League regions had their depth tested over the weekend as Under 17 and 19 representative action took place over Saturday and Sunday, but a bunch of prospects were left to battle it out in the elite underage competition. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side across all five games, in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 10 snapshot

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 17.12 (114) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.5 (17)

By: Eli Duxson

Sandringham Dragons:

#5 Lachlan Benton

Was prolific all day for the Dragons playing through the midfield and notching up his best game for the season numbers-wise, finding the footy 26 times. Making the most of his extended minutes around the ball with teammates on Vic Metro duties, he showed a willingness to get to contests and be active at them. His speed out of stoppages was impressive with his tank allowing him to cover ground and find the ball uncontested (nine marks) as well under pressure. He kicked a set shot goal from just inside 50 at the start of the second quarter to round out arguably a best on ground performance.

#39 Matthew Harms

The lively debutant more than proved his worth with his two goal, 14 disposal, and five tackle effort out of half-forward. With the mullet flowing, his first impact on the game was a run-down tackle as he brought that physicality to every contest. He is not big in size, but he certainly did not play like it as he showed good work rate to push up the ground and help his midfielders, while also clearing space behind him for his big forwards to lead into. He kicked the Dragons’ second goal of the game with a tidy snap, while also kicking their second-last goal by getting on the end of a smooth chain of possessions.

#53 Eren Soylemez

The 19-year-old continued his impressive form, collecting his most disposals on the season (12), while bobbing up for his usual few shots a game. As a forward in the first half, he often pushed out of the arc to be the one delivering balls inside 50 or working back to crumb which often was not required with the clean and unaffected entries and marks. Speaking of marks, he showed he was capable overhead. His ball use by foot inside 50 was almost flawless as he found multiple targets with his four inside 50s. He was shifted back in the third quarter and continued to show his tidy ball use was necessary in the defensive half, although his defensive ability was hardly required and displayed. Moving forward to end the game, he managed two majors as he moved to 14 goals from six games.

#61 Max Heath

The St Kilda mid-season draftee performed at his new home in RSEA Park, showing why he is in the AFL system. Although at times he was caught out of position in the ruck either through unfavourable throw-ins/ball-ups or as he engaged body, he did look the most likely in the contest having led all comers with 23 hit outs on the day. He has a strong base and is prepared to create space for teammates when the ball hits the deck, throwing his weight around. Heath also proved a viable option up forward, being too tall for opposition defenders to effectively spoil, managing a goal from a strong mark.

#66 Charlie McKay

The father-son prospect enjoyed another big performance in his side’s dominant display, totalling 30 disposals to go with a goal, five inside 50s, and four tackles. He provided a lot of grunt on the inside as usual although his tackling numbers were just below his season average, keeping in mind Sandringham almost won by 100 points. His physicality around stoppages is not represented through stats as his pressure and strength inside were featured heavily. He capitalised on his side’s dominance around the ball, providing a running option moving forward, proving to be composed and tidy with his disposal.

#74 Felix Flockart

The 202cm over-ager kicked the most goals in the game with three, also his first goals of the season. A backup ruckman to Heath, he spent some unimpeded time up forward and managed the first goal of the game with a lead up mark and set shot from distance. His second goal came from a snap, with his last bookending the game after a big mark. He took five for the game but created many more contests with his leap and attack on the aerial ball, providing a solid option down the line for the Dragons. Flockart used his strength to his advantage in the ruck as he has 13 hit outs and was more than handy as a second option for Sandy.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#5 Sam Collins

Collins returned to the footy expected of him with 21 disposals, six marks, and five tackles in what was a tough outing for his Chargers. He was active early in the greasy conditions, burrowing in at stoppages while shooting balls inside 50 and being an option for defensive 50 exits. He showed good awareness in tight with a nice spin out of traffic a highlight, while also utilising strong and steady hips to stay upright in tackles. A good return to form despite the disappointing result.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

Another one of the few performers for Oakleigh who also did his best out of their engine room but was overrun in the end. Jenkins had 22 disposals and a goal to go with four tackles and three inside 50s and looked impressive on the inside, as well as in space. His third quarter was busy with his side down nine goals, as Jenkins helped the Chargers to their best quarter by clearing deep inside 50, while turning disputed balls into clear possession. Another spin and slip of a tackle was nice in tight as he had his highest disposal game for the season with his Metro teammates away.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 6.15 (51) def. CALDER CANNONS 6.1 (37)

By: Seb Bartholomeusz

Northern Knights:

#11 Jackson Archer 

Plying his trade across half-back, Archer had some good moments throughout the match. He had 18 disposals to go along with six marks and five tackles. While he doesn’t have the biggest frame, Archer still laid some strong tackles and competed well in one-on-one contests in defence. He also showed some good skills playing on the outside and sweeping across half-back. A couple skill errors were rectified by his second efforts and composure to execute under pressure. Composure was a highlight of his game, as Archer knew how to take his time, find targets, and importantly not succumb to pressure.

#17 Jackson Bowne 

Bowne had an impressive game, collecting 26 disposals and showing some good signs of what he may be capable of in the future. He often displayed good bursts of speed and explosiveness to break away from tackles and evade defenders. Standing at 174cm, Bowne doesn’t shy away from a contest and is the type of player that seems like he just loves that side of the game. He loves to take the game on, and he backs his ability to beat opponents. He kicked two behinds for the day but was always dangerous around stoppages and running towards goal.

#22 Jack Rossimel 

It could’ve been a big day for Rossimel after he put in a super impressive performance for a tall forward. His only downfall was his 0.3 on the scoreboard which didn’t reflect the game he had. He competed well and flew at every contest, he offered a strong aerial target for his team mates to kick to, and he provided some good leads to get on the end of a few marks, resulting in shots at goal. In addition to his marking abilities, Rossimel showcased his agility, getting down and dirty to lay some hard tackles, and following up his work with second and third efforts at the ball. He is a versatile forward and has already kicked multiple goals on more than one occasion. A big bag could be around the corner.

#55 Josh Hamilton 

Hamilton collected 29 disposals on the day and led all comers. He was ferocious with his hunt on the footy, and he worked hard from the first bounce to the final siren. He stood out with his speed and footwork to sidestep oncoming tacklers. Hamilton showed off his skills in some impressive passages, making use of the forward handball, and always following his play to be an option again. One passage of play in the third term would’ve caught the eye of many, after a desperate smother, Hamilton continued to fight for the ball and laid a tackle, before eventually getting a handball. He was always determined to win the ball, great game.

Calder Cannons:

#3 Jackson Cardillo 

Cardillo was a bit quiet in the first half, but he certainly got busy in the second, spending more time in the guts. He finished with 16 disposals, showing off his ability to stand up in a tackle and handball under pressure. He competes well in the middle, can break lines, and hit targets. He is a good size and very capable of competing in a one-one-one. He also read the play well in the second half as he begun to have a bigger influence. Cardillo is a big danger to opposition teams if he is at his peak for four quarters.

#4 Sam Clohesy 

Clohesy is a bit of a utility and has the attributes to play in multiple positions across the ground. He spent most of his time against the Knights across half-back and through the middle. A reasonably tall player at 189cm, Clohesy showed good endurance to cover large parts of the ground on his way to 23 touches. He played a bit like Jack Lukosius, the way he swept across half back with good skills, but also pushed up the ground and was a good user heading inside 50. He uses his size to stand up well in tackles and dispose of the ball in contested situations. He had a nice minute of play in the second term where he caught the ball while smothering an opposition kick, before getting it inside 50 quickly. Moments later he took an intercept mark. He added five marks and six tackles to his stat sheet in what was a strong four quarter effort.

#6 Flynn Lakey 

It was a sixth 20-plus disposal game for Lakey in as many matches, and this one was probably a best on ground performance. A total of 27 touches, paired with 11 tackles, the midfielder was relentless all day. He went in hard and found his own ball, read the ruck taps well and got clearances and put his teammates in space. He made a great play in the third quarter after going in for the hard ball, winning the free kick for a sling tackle, and then having the presence of mind to play on quickly and handball to a teammate who was able to kick a goal. He was courageous and kept competing until the final siren. For his small size he certainly gives everything a crack and is not afraid to put his body on the line. Great performance in a losing side.

#35 Dane Whitnall 

Whitnall plays as a key pillar down back for the Cannons. For his 193cm stature, he has quite good mobility and coupled with his ability to read the play, there were multiple times where he was able to leave his man to spoil or take a mark. One of his best attributes was holding structure, he was often set up well in defence and got into good positions to impact contests. Whitnall was also an option exiting defence. He took 11 marks for the game and had 18 disposals in what was a solid performance. A couple of times he was a bit sloppy with his disposal which led to re-entries into the Cannons defensive 50. With a bit more experience, the Carlton father-son hopeful can remove those errors from his game.

WESTERN JETS 5.8 (38) def. by EASTERN RANGES 9.11 (65)

By: Peter Williams

Western Jets:

#18 Nash Reynolds

Played an important role on the inside and was in-sync with ruck Paul Tsapatolis at the stoppages. Reynolds knew where to move, read the tap well and would chuck the ball on the boot to clear it. The end result was hit and miss, but he was getting it forward and giving his forwards first chance to get in front. He showed a fierce intent when tackling and quick hands, then received a 50m penalty and nailed the set shot from just inside 50 in the second term. He spread well and took a number of marks around the ground, including a contested grab on the wing in the final term, then not long after intercepted the ball at half-forward reading it well in flight.

#33 Billy Cootee

Started off with a double fend-off early in the game on the wing, and had a quick shot on goal under pressure which went to the goalsquare. Cootee worked hard to mark in the defensive 50 and then give off the quick handball to release a running teammate in transition. A mixture of hard and clean at ground level in the match, he had a few chances going forward, but missed a set shot in the second term and was forced to rush off the left in the third term on the wing. Overall he won his fair share of the ball and contributed strongly to the team’s cause.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

Each stoppage was like watching a clip on repeat. Tsapatolis’ body work and strength was too good and his ability to plant his leg then protect the drop of the ball to palm the pill wherever he wanted was a standout. Once he had his body positioning, he was unmovable, and his set play which was a tap behind the head to Reynolds a few times was good. He won a free kick inside 50 in the first term but it drifted in the wind, then clunk a strong contested mark at half-back. The clear dominant ruck on the ground, the AFL-listed Cats rookie is progressing nicely.

Eastern Ranges:

#4 Josh Clarke

A simply massive accumulating game from the Eastern skipper who did as he pleased around the ground. The amount of times he would receive the handball on the outside to favour his trusty left foot without too much notice was fortunate for him. Even when he was closed down, Clarke showed off his terrific strength and evasion combination to shrug the would-be tacklers, then execute by hand to a teammate on the outside. He showed great on-field leadership in all thirds of the ground, and used the ball well in the conditions. He always tried to take the game on, and slotted home a great goal from the top of 50 in the first term. He had a few more chances, with a couple of shots in the third term which just missed, then a shot in the fourth that was marked in the goalsquare. Able to play the game on his terms, Clarke was far and away the best on ground.

#9 Mitchell Sruk

Had a crack throughout the four quarters and after missing a few kicks early in the game, settled into the conditions and was able to use better composure in the latter three quarters. He worked hard and ran for second and third possessions out of defence and through the midfield, and was often tasked with the kickouts. One of the noticeable strengths of Sruk’s was his tacking technique, where he was able to pin the arms and roll his opponent rather than going into his back. He showed great strength in close to rip the ball way from an opponent and get it out, then won a lot of his touches on the outside by working hard to get to teammates to receive the handball.

#32 Flynn Kroeger

Kroeger found the ball all over the field, often winning it in defence, spending time in the midfield and then holding a firm line at the top of 50 for the rushed kick out. His handballing and vision under pressure was mostly solid. He did drop a mark going back with the flight in the second term, but showed good second effort to win it at ground level, though rushed his handball which missed the target. Kroeger showed some good bursts of speed at times and when inside would often chuck it on his boot, but his ability to gather at ground level around stoppages was impressive. Overall a solid performance with some hits and misses.

TASMANIA DEVILS 11.17 (83) def. DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.2 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Baynen Lowe

The busy small midfielder led all comers on Sunday, collecting 33 disposals to go with 10 inside 50s and nine tackles in a Draft Central Player of the Week performance. His happy knack of finding the ball and short bursts of speed allowed for plenty of distance-snatching plays in midfield, where Lowe would either receive or win the hard ball before bombing a long kick forward. He also provided fierce tackling intent, hunting the ball carrier and hitting hard whenever possible to force stoppages or spillages. While a lot of his early possessions were won in the clinches, Lowe went on to work into positions to be released before disposing forward. A lot of his kicks were rushed and sought distance rather than a direct target, which contributed to Lowe’s three behinds on the day.

#12 Jye Menzie

Menzie started brightly in his usual forward post, working high up the ground to complement his inside 50 threat. The top-ager’s running back towards goal resulted in his first major, a pretty straightforward finish over the back. He added another in the opening term, adjusting his run nicely to crumb off hands and dribble home with class. Menzie’s pressure and ability to keep his feet both proved outstanding in the early stages, before enduring a quiet patch. He popped back up after half time and converted a 45m set shot on the wrong side for a right footer, finishing with three goals but leaving a couple more out there with two behinds.

#20 Tyler McGinnis

As expected of the 2001-born over-ager, he often looked the most composed and polished player afield. He leaned on his greater level of experience to read the play well and clunk numerous intercept marks, judging the ball better than most in flight. He showed good courage when flying or cutting across opposition forwards, keeping his eyes on the ball rather than worrying about oncoming contact or his direct opponent. That same trait could be observed in his one-on-one wins, as McGinnis easily plucked the ball while his adversary scrambled to get body or a spoil in. His ball use was also clean, distributing well-hit kicks both forward and laterally throughout the game.

#37 Tom McCallum

McCallum marked just about everything that came his way at half-forward, snapping up 11 grabs in what was an outstanding aerial performance. He seemed to grow in confidence as the game wore on, initially contesting well before making good on most balls which came his way with clean clunks. That also translated to his kicking, as the bottom-ager gradually took on more risky inboard passes and pulled them off well. At 191cm, his reach was difficult for Dandenong’s defenders to combat and he often marked with good separation on the lead. McCallum also hit the scoreboard with two majors, both in the first half as reward for his overall effort.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#38 Max Gregory

Gregory was a really productive distributor out of defence, finishing with four rebound 50s among his 12 kicks and 20 disposals overall. The top-ager was composed across half-back, able to either run it out of his own area or clear his lines with efficiency by foot. Combined, those two features saw Gregory run out as one of the better rebounders on the day in a performance where he equalled his season-high tally for disposals.

#39 Daniel Didomenicantonio

Didomenicantonio was a leader among Dandenong’s group with the Stingray’s other leadership group members on Vic Country duties. He set up his side from the back, often tasked with kick-in duties and looking to gain meterage with his penetrative boot. He provided solid forward drive when released via hand, able to take on the green ball and quickly transition Dandenong into attack. One such instance saw him stream through the corridor during the second term, before spearing a ball to Jai Culley on the lead at half-forward. It was a solid game overall for the 17-year-old, who managed a team-high 26 disposals.

#44 Jai Culley

As part of the midfield-forward rotation, Culley arguably looked at his best in attack where he was one of the Stingrays’ most reliable targets. He managed to get his hands on the ball around the contest, but had more impact with his possessions in the front half. Culley converted well from his long-range set shots, but was a little less reliable when made to rush his disposals, getting less direction and penetration. Still, multiple goals and five marks made for a promising game from the 2003-born talent.

#50 Sam Frangalas

An emergency for Vic Country’s Under 17 fixture, Frangalas was one of the best bottom-agers afield. As part of the starting centre bounce combination, he looked to get on the move at stoppages and often got first hands to the ball. His repeat running and continued following of the play allowed him to chain possessions up the ground, though his disposal at full tilt was sometimes hit and miss. Frangalas found plenty of ball dropping back during term two, but his rotation was up forward, where he constantly got the ball and either wheeled to go long, or dished off quickly to a runner.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 15.14 (104) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 8.3 (51)

By: Nick Kitchell

Bendigo Pioneers:

#4 Jack Hickman

It was a superb day out for the Bendigo mid/forward as he put together a best on ground performance for the Pioneers. It felt as though Hickman was everywhere, utilising his massive tank to get to every contest and more often than not impact it, whether it was digging a handball out of the congestion or using his acceleration to break away and open up the game. He showed confidence in his kicking, backing himself take the game on with kicks into the corridor. An impressive feature of Hickman’s game is his running patterns and positioning, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time. He also exhibited his versatility in his stints down forward, lowering his eyes and delivering a composed pass to teammate who goaled. He then proceeded to reward himself for a hard day’s work, snapping a goal of his own on his left from directly in front in the dying minutes of the game. A trait that stood out whilst Hickman was in the midfield was his competitiveness, laying a strong tackle on the opposition ruckman and showing good aggression against a bigger-bodied Murray midfield.

#13 Jack Evans

Typically found along half-back, Evans spent the entirety of the game on the wing. After a slow start he eventually worked his way into the game, doing most of his damage forward of centre. Evans was always able to impact when the ball came his way, winning his one-on-ones and creating numerous scoring opportunities, including a quality goal off a step from 40 metres out. In what had the potential to be a tough day for an outside midfielder due to the scrappy nature of the game, Evans still managed to be one of the more involved Pioneers in Sunday’s contest on the way to racking up 23 disposals.

#15 Jack Stewart

With numerous absences from the Pioneers’ usual midfield group, Stewart stepped up in a big way. Sharing his time evenly between midfield and forward, he found a good balance between winning the ball on the inside and linking up on the outside, doing both with composure. His spread and work rate up and down the ground was notable, seemingly bobbing up at most contests. Stewart remained busy whilst forward, getting a great front and centre crumb off a marking contest and snapping on goal as well as taking an intercept mark in the forward 50, however put the set shot wide for a minor score. His cleanliness by hand stood out in addition to his willingness to take the short option by foot rather than blazing away.

#36 Will Sheehan

The pillar up forward for the Pioneers, Sheehan bagged a game-high three goals. The smooth moving forward got up and down the ground with ease, reaching as high up as centre wing and wheeling back deep inside forward 50 to contest aerially. Leading up at the ball carrier was where Sheehan looked most dangerous, creating separation from his opponent with ease. A moment that gave a good depiction of Sheehan’s character was when he marked 15 metres out on a slight angle and rather than going back and slotting an easy goal, he gave a handball over the top for a teammate to walk into an open goal, exemplifying his unselfishness. In addition to his offensive ability, Sheehan exhibited strong defensive traits, laying solid tackles as well as working hard to force a forward half turnover in the dying seconds of the game.

#39 Anthony Depasquale

For what Depasquale lacks in athleticism he makes up for in just about every other aspect of his game. Arguably the cleanest player on the ground, Depasquale was near perfect below his knees and created numerous clearances via handballs out of congestion, using his composure to weave his way out of stoppages. Whilst his blue-collar work on the inside cannot be commended enough, Depasquale’s work rate around the ground should also receive praise, finding pockets of space seemingly at will. When not on the ball he spent time forward, utilising his footy smarts to read the ball off the hands of forwards and constantly putting himself in the right position to get the footy. A couple contested marks rounded out Depasquale’s rather complete performance.

#58 Max Dow

A famous name among the Bendigo Pioneers region, Dow looked right at home in his NAB League debut. He adjusted well to the pace of the game from the outset, playing with composure and confidence. For an undersized body, Dow’s attack on the ball was impressive, earning a couple of free kicks thanks to his willingness to take contact from a bigger body. He was busy up forward, creating a turnover and shovelling a handball out to Jack Evans who goaled, as well as creating another scoring shot which sailed wide of the big sticks. In addition to distributing, Dow slotted two goals of his own on debut, one coming from a set shot after a free kick and the other on the run from 30m out. After having a strong first half, Dow was rewarded with some midfield time which was short lived before he was moved back forward.

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

On a day where his team was lacklustre, Byrne was far from it. A player who typically spends his time across half-back or on a wing, the Under 19 Allies squad member made the smoothest of transitions into the midfield, collecting a game-high 32 disposals. Byrne capitalised on his team’s dominance in the ruck, frequently getting first use and utilising his strength to break tackles and get hands free or occasionally backing in his leg speed to burst out of stoppages and send forward one of his game-high 11 inside 50s. When not in the midfield Byrne spent time as a high half-forward, demonstrating a willingness to work high up the ground and get involved in play as opposed to sitting in the forward 50 and waiting for play to come to him. Byrne made a few impressive plays by foot around the ground including some crafty short kicks to teammates, however there were times when he missed easy targets as well as blazing away to a contest rather than lowering his eyes to an open teammate.

#10 Jedd Longmire

A member of the Under 17 NSW-ACT squad, Longmire did plenty of good work in the forward half of the ground as well as being a solid contributor in his time in the midfield. Leading patterns and positioning were standout traits in Longmire’s game when forward, finding good lanes to lead up at the ball carrier as well as putting himself in the right position to be used when in his own forward 50. This smart positioning paid dividends when he placed himself in the perfect spot for a mark inside 50 and proceeded to go back and nail the set shot. In his limited time in the midfield, Longmire exhibited a strong inside game, embracing the physical nature of this contest whilst also being clean under pressure.

#31 Ethan Warburton

The Bushies’ defensive 50 was under attack all day long, and if not for Warburton the final margin would have been far greater. The 18-year-old stood tall all day against the Pioneers forwards, exhibiting some strong intercept marks, the first of which a specky where he flaunted his athletic traits. In addition to his intercepting ability, Warburton provided plenty of rebound for his team in the way of a game-high nine rebound 50s. Trusted with kick-ins, his penetrating left foot ignited numerous attacks for the Bushies which often resulted in forward 50 entries.

#37 Jake Hodgkin

It was a hard day at the office for Hodgkin, however the big-bodied defender did himself no disservice with his performance. You couldn’t ask for much more out of Hodgkin who was just about as reliable as they come in Sunday’s contest. With ball in hand Hodgkin was always composed, breaking tackles and getting his hands free when he got himself into trouble, always finding targets when given time. Defensively Hodgkin didn’t give his opponent an inch, tackling strongly as well as taking a strong intercept mark.

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 10

WHILE Victorian Under 19 trials and the Under 17 National Championships saw a bunch of the state’s talent honoured with representative duties, the 2021 NAB League season rolled on into Round 10 on the weekend. Five fixtures were played, with all six Metro regions competing between themselves on Saturday, before Tasmania and Bendigo played host on Sunday. Check out the key performances and stats in our weekend snapshot, with Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 17.12 (114) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.5 (17)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Sandringham Dragons emphatically beat their rivals, Oakleigh Chargers by 97 points on home turf, piling on 13 goals at one end while restricting the Chargers to just two in total.

TEAM STATS:

  • Sandringham Dragons won the disposals (332-244), inside 50s (54-25), marks (93-55), and scoring shots (29-7)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the rebound 50s (54-25) and tackles (58-57)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Charlie McKay (Sandringham Dragons) 30 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal
  • Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal
  • Felix Flockart (Sandringham Dragons) 12 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 13 hitouts, 3 goals
  • Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers) 22 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Henry Brown (Oakleigh Chargers) 17 disposals, 2 marks, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Charlie McKay (Sandringham Dragons)
3 – Felix Flockart (Sandringham Dragons)
2 – Luca MacNab (Sandringham Dragons)
1 – Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers)

NEXT UP:

Sandringham Dragons vs. Tasmania Devils | Saturday July 3, 2:00pm @ Kingston Twin Ovals
Oakleigh Chargers vs. GWV Rebels | Saturday July 3, 1:00pm @ Mars Stadium

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 6.15 (51) def. CALDER CANNONS 6.1 (37)

IN A SENTENCE:

14 behinds were the difference between the Northern Knights and Calder Cannons on Saturday, as the home side held firm despite its goalkicking inaccuracy to pick up a fourth-straight win.

TEAM STATS:

  • Northern Knights won the handballs (176-106), inside 50s (47-30), and tackles (78-65)
  • Calder Cannons won the rebound 50s (40-23) and marks (92-85)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Josh Hamilton (Northern Knights) 29 disposals, 5 marks, 6 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s
  • Jackson Bowne (Northern Knights) 26 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Jackson Archer (Northern Knights) 17 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 2 rebound 50s
  • Flynn Lakey (Calder Cannons) 27 disposals, 7 marks, 11 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s
  • Riley Mason (Calder Cannons) 26 disposals, 11 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Sam Clohesy (Calder Cannons) 23 disposals, 5 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Josh Hamilton (Northern Knights)
4 – Jackson Archer (Northern Knights)
3 – Flynn Lakey (Calder Cannons)
2 – Jackson Bowne (Northern Knights)
1 – Riley Mason (Calder Cannons)

UP NEXT:

Northern Knights vs. Murray Bushrangers | Saturday July 3, 1:00pm @ Norm Minns Oval
Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons | Saturday July 3, 1:00pm @ RAMS Arena

WESTERN JETS 5.8 (38) def. by EASTERN RANGES 9.11 (65)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Eastern Ranges overcame a half time deficit and notched three goals to nil in the final term to knock off the Western Jets by 27 points away from home.

TEAM STATS:

  • Eastern Ranges won the disposals (375-284), kicks (202-165), handballs (202-165), and marks (73-55)
  • Western Jets won the rebound 50s (45-42) and hitouts (41-22)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Billy Cootee (Western Jets) 28 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Nash Reynolds (Western Jets) 19 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Cameron Kizan (Western Jets) 17 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s
  • Josh Clarke (Eastern Ranges) 38 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Bradley Watson (Eastern Ranges) 25 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s
  • Max Hall (Eastern Ranges) 24 disposals, 5 marks, 8 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Josh Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Billy Cootee (Western Jets)
3 – Max Hall (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Bradley Watson (Eastern Ranges)
1 – Nash Reynolds (Western Jets)

UP NEXT:

Western Jets vs. Gippsland Power | Sunday July 4, 1:00pm @ Morwell Recreation Reserve
Eastern Ranges vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sunday July 4, 11:00am @ Shepley Oval

TASMANIA DEVILS 11.17 (83) def. DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.2 (50)

IN A SENTENCE:

Consistent scoreboard pressure saw the Tasmania Devils come away 33-point victors over an undermanned Dandenong Stingrays at UTAS Stadium, seeing the hosts return to the winners list.

TEAM STATS:

  • Tasmania Devils won the kicks (215-184), inside 50s (50-33), and tackles (64-43)
  • Dandenong Stingrays won the rebound 50s (39-24) and hitouts (33-31)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) 33 disposals, 6 marks, 9 tackles, 10 inside 50s, 3 behinds
  • Sam Foley (Tasmania Devils) 29 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Tom McCallum (Tasmania Devils) 23 disposals, 11 marks, 2 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Daniel Didomenicantonio (Dandenong Stingrays) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s
  • Declan Cole (Dandenong Stingrays) 23 disposals, 10 marks, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s
  • Jai Culley (Dandenong Stingrays) 16 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils)
4 – Sam Foley (Tasmania Devils)
3 – Daniel Didomenicantonio (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Sam Tilley (Tasmania Devils)
1 – Tom McCallum (Tasmania Devils)

UP NEXT:

Tasmania Devils vs. Sandringham Dragons | Saturday July 3, 2:00pm @ Kingston Twin Ovals
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Eastern Ranges | Sunday July 4, 11:00am @ Shepley Oval

BENDIGO PIONEERS 15.14 (104) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 8.3 (51)

IN A SENTENCE:

A seven-goal final term saw the Bendigo Pioneers power away from Murray Bushrangers on Sunday, ending up 53-point winners in the Echuca all-country clash.

TEAM STATS:

  • Bendigo Pioneers won the disposals (347-296), kicks (211-174), inside 50s (56-38), and tackles (78-60)
  • Murray Bushrangers won the rebound 50s (40-29), marks (82-60), and hitouts (53-27)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Anthony Depasquale (Bendigo Pioneers) 24 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Ricky Monti (Bendigo Pioneers) 21 disposals, 3 marks, 11 tackles, 2 inside 50s
  • Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers) 32 disposals, 6 marks, 3 tackles, 11 inside 50s
  • Ethan Warburton (Murray Bushrangers) 26 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, 9 rebound 50s
  • Hunter Gottschling (Murray Bushrangers) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 7 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers)
4 – Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)
3 – Anthony Depasquale (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Ethan Warburton (Murray Bushrangers)
1 – Ricky Monti (Bendigo Pioneers)

UP NEXT:

Bendigo Pioneers – Bye
Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights | Saturday July 3, 1:00pm @ Norm Minns Oval

PREVIEW | NAB League rolls on amid representative action

THE NAB League regular season enters double digits this weekend, with Round 10 offering up five fixtures across Saturday and Sunday. While plenty of top end talent will be observed at the Under 19 Victorian trials and Country-Metro Under 17 clash, a solid core of talent remains among the elite talent pathway. Debutants continue to filter through, and more established talent will also get a chance to shine in greater roles.

A much different looking rematch kicks off the round’s action, as Sandringham and Oakleigh do battle at RSEA Park for the second time this season. Both sides are set to field sides with hosts of changes, as up to eight Dragons debutants enter the fold. Among them, Hugo Hall-Kahan has been a standout for Haileybury College, while Charlie Clarke‘s local form for Port Melbourne Colts sees him earn a NAB League berth.

The home side is also set to be bolstered by the return of co-captain Josh Sinn, who has shaken off a hamstring strain. Fellow first round prospect Campbell Chesser is said to be another week away. Sandringham’s midfield will feature the likes of Lachlan Benton and Charlie McKay, under the ruckmanship of St Kilda mid-season recruit Max Heath. Up either end, 20th-year players Felix Flockart and Jesse Castan fill out the spine.

Oakleigh’s midfield will also be full of experience, with top-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Sam Collins poised for a permanent run. Collins, a Tasmanian who debuted for Oakleigh last week, is also familiar to the half-back role and even started up forward in Round 9. Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy and Allies squad member Patrick Voss is another to watch for Oakleigh, as he continues his defensive apprenticeship.

Northern Knights take on Calder Cannons at Preston City Oval in a second all-metro clash for the day, with a number of club-aligned players set to feature across either team. Jackson Archer (son of Glenn) will again line up in the Knights’ defence, alongside Carlton Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Regan Uwandu. Blues fans can also look out for father-son eligible pair Tom Gleeson (Adrian) and Dane Whitnall (Lance) for Calder.

Essendon has a few potential academy and father-son prospects to monitor, all on the Cannons’ side. Bottom-ager NGA pair Carlos Egan and Reuben Rode get a crack at Under 19s level, while Josh Misiti returns to the fold after making his debut in Round 1 and featuring thrice. The likes of Sam Clohesy and Jack Rossimel are handy types who were overlooked for trial duties, while bottom-agers Caleb Burquest and Josh Hamilton should enjoy a few tussles in midfield.

Western Jets and Eastern Ranges round out Saturday’s action, locking horns at Downer Oval. Fresh off honours in the cricketing realm, Jets leader Billy Cootee will line up in midfield, potentially across from Ranges skipper Josh Clarke, who plays his second game for the season. Geelong-listed rookie Paul Tsapatolis is back in the ruck for the hosts, while Sahaf Ali is one to watch up forward for the Ranges after a promising debut last week.

Proceedings head down to Tasmania on Sunday as the Devils host Dandenong in Launceston, with the Stingrays hit hard by the weekend’s representative fixtures. Fresh off a 97-point triumph in Round 9, the visitors will be heavily rotated coming into this clash. The Devils’ side featured Allies squad members Baker Smith (centre half-back) and Jye Menzie (half-forward), the latter of which was best afield for his side last time out.

Seeing out the weekend’s play, Bendigo battles with Murray in Echuca, making for a replay of their Round 7 meeting. The Pioneers are set to unleash Max Dow, the third brother to enter through the NAB League pathway. NSW-ACT Under 17 squad members Jason Gillbee and Jedd Longmire will line up on opposite sides, while solid draft eligible players also remain.

Budding Allies representatives Charlie Byrne, Ryan Eyers, Cameron McLeod, and Toby Murray will all feature for the Bushrangers, while Essendon VFL-experienced pair Jack Hickman and Jack Evans should bolster Bendigo on either side of midfield.

Jack Hickman in action for Essendon VFL | Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Country regions Geelong, Gippsland, and Greater Western Victoria all have byes this round.

2021 NAB League: Round 4 – Debuts galore as Academies, bottom-agers roll through

AFTER a month-long hiatus, the NAB League returns on Saturday morning as five Northern Academies are welcomed to the fold. The Queensland academies – Brisbane and Gold Coast – will face Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays respectively in a Preston double-header, while the NSW academies – GWS and Sydney – take on Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power in Werribee.

Elsewhere, a Craigieburn triple-header on Sunday sees the Tasmania Devils lock horns with the Northern Territory Thunder Academy on neutral turf. Hosts, Calder Cannons open that grand day of action against Bendigo Pioneers, as the Eastern Ranges and GWV Rebels close out the nine-game round.

Opportunity awaits for bottom-aged prospects too, who were essentially held back during the first three rounds this year to provide ample opportunity for top-age talent to shine. All bar one Victorian talent region will field 17-year-olds in Round 4, along with Tasmania and the Academies, with the Under 17 Championship squads being finalised nationwide.

THE YOUNG GUNS – U17s

Round 5’s standalone opener at Trevor Barker Oval sees Sandringham take on Western, with both sides introducing at least one Under 17 prospect apiece. The Dragons have named lively forward Harry Sheezel, who is dangerous around goals and has impressed in each trial or carnival outing thus far. Ben Hempel is another young Dragon named in the side. Cameron Kizan looms as a new Jets’ under-age representative, set to rotate from the bench after lining up on a wing in the Victorian Under 17 trial games for Metro.

Geelong and Gippsland welcome the NSW academies, with the Power due to unveil a host of up-and-comers against Sydney. Zane Duursma is a name which catches the eye, but the brother of Port’s Xavier is a fantastic talent in his own right. A rare 2005-birth in this mix, he will run out against players three years his elder, but looks to cut the difference with his skills and poise in tight spots. The Power have also named promising half-back Jonti Schuback, while Cooper Vickery and tall Harvey Howe will start on the pine.

Geelong looks poised to start a trio of its Under 17 prospects against the Giants Academy, in important positions too. 195cm bigman Olivier Northam is the Falcons’ starting ruck, while midfielder-forward Jhye Clark is poised to enter via the centre bounce mix. Ted Clohesy is another to watch in the Falcons’ forward half.

Saturday’s other double-header sees Northern look to unleash versatile 194cm prospect Dane Harvey, as he is named on the bench while goalsneak Jason McCormick earns a spot in the forwardline along with even more fresh faces. The Knights take on Brisbane, who have also named a 17-year-old in Bailey Tome, in midfield.

Likewise, Dandenong has a few of its own Under 17 inclusions for its clash with Gold Coast. Henry Hustwaite and Ned Moodie are set to start on the bench, as Jess McManus takes up a starting spot at centre half-back. The Suns will also bring in some under-agers, with Jared Eckersley another starting down the spine, while Marlin Corbett will rotate off the pine.

While some of Oakleigh’s talented bottom-agers will have to wait a little longer to crack the Chargers’ stacked lineup, 200cm ruck-forward Will Elliott gets his chance.  Murray will also have at least one Under 17 in its squad on Saturday, with Joshua Tweedale, a 198cm ruck from Wangaratta included in the squad.

Looking across the team sheets for Sunday’s triple-header, and Eastern has a bunch of youngsters ready to impact. Small midfielder Harry Flynn is one to watch in the guts, while Lewis Hayes has also shown plenty of promise as a tall defender. Also among the group of fresh Ranges faces are Kai Windsor, Lachlan Reidy, and Hayden Smith.

GWV will field its share of Under 17s as well, with Felix Fogarty and Aaron Cadman named on the bench. Both loom as forward options, with Fogarty the taller of the two at 197cm.

In Bendigo’s bout with Calder, Jason Gillbee will come in as a rare 17th-year player with games already under his belt, as Ben Cameron also lines up for the Pios. Calder will unleash the very promising midfield pairing of Caleb Burquest and Paul Pascu, who should both get a look-in for the final Metro squad.

An exciting talent to watch out of the Northern Territory Academy is Beau Tedcastle, a livewire small forward with senior experience under his belt in the Top End. The Thunder face Tasmania, who have given ample opportunity to some under-agers already. Among them, 2005-birth Ryley Sanders has been named with Lachlan Cowan, as at least four others look like cracking the Devils’ side this week.

THE RETURNEES – U19s

While the next generation rolls through, some familiar names will also line up once more for their respective regions. Plenty of eyes will be on Murray and Carlton VFL midfielder Zavier Maher as he comes in fresh off a terrific senior outing for his local club. Young Guns showcase representatives Cameron McLeod and Patrick Parnell will also suit up for the Bushies, against an Oakleigh side with strong top-age talent. Among the Chargers’ brigade is Sam Tucker, who comes in for his first game this year, while Ned Moyle and Youseph Dib are at the top end of those returning from VFL duties – both with Collingwood.

Sandringham ruck Felix Flockart, a 2001-birth, will also get a run for the Dragons as he stakes his claim for mid-season draft selection, with the likes of Charlie McKay and Luke Cleary again set to turn out for the ridiculously strong talent region. Cody Raak is another mid-season candidate to watch in that game, lining up for Western in his usual centre half-back post.

Blake Reid and Noah Gadsby are a couple of handy inclusions for Geelong, who have a solid bunch of 19th-year talents. Northern will be happy to see leader Joel Trudgeon in the squad, with Ben De Bolfo and Dominic Akuei listed in defence along with Regan Uwandu, an exciting type who plays his first game for the year after an injury lay-off. Speaking of, Bayleigh Welsh will finally get to run out for Dandenong, named at half-back as former Hawthorn trainee Will Bravo remains in midfield.

Key forward Sam Paea is among a few Calder prospects to come in after gaining experience in the VFL, named alongside Young Guns representative Sam Clohesy. Among the Young Guns group for Bendigo, Caleb Ernst will look to carry on his impressive form up forward, with skipper Jack Evans also set to return after making his VFL debut. The Pioneers have a good few who remain at that level, too.

Tasmania pair Oliver Sanders and Tyler McGinniss will be in the mix for the Devils having made excellent starts to their seasons, enough to be called up to North Melbourne’s VFL team. In the round’s final game, watch for Marcus Herbert and Fraser Marris in GWV’s midfield, while Marc Massarotti and Jake Arundell form a lively tall-small partnership in Eastern’s forward 50.

THE ACADEMIES

While there is arguably less top-end talent across each academy this year than we have seen previously, fans of all clubs involved and from the Top End will be keen to see what their representatives produce. Out of the NSW lot, GWS standout Josh Fahey has not been named, but mid-season draft candidate Josh Green will start at centre half-forward. Sam Stening is another dynamic type to watch for the Giants up forward, with crafty small Kai Watts his state’s Under 16 MVP in 2019. Elsewhere, Sam Frost (half-back) and Jack Driscoll (ruck/defence) are among those with recent VFL exposure.

For Sydney, eyes will remain on the likes of Marco Rossmann and Pierce Roseby as they return in Swans colours. Both missed out on being drafted last year, but bring class and strong ball winning ability respectively. The likes of Toby Alker and Jeremy Woodford were solid state representative at Under 16 level, along with smalls Felix Rogers, Jordan Endemann, and Byron Middleton.

On the Queensland side of things, Suns Academy member Austin Harris looms as his state’s best talent. He’ll look to provide some outside run and class against Northern, while Bodhi Uwland is a developing type to watch in defence and through midfield. The Suns’ side will also be spearheaded by Will Bella, the brother of Gold Coast AFLW ruck, Lauren. Jed Foggo is another to watch, while Finn Brown has shown good form in midfield and Thomas Hofert is a known key position quantity.

For the Lions, Lochlan Harrop looms as an important figure at the heart of the starting lineup. James Packer is another among the 2003-born crop, while the likes of Connor Bulley and Shatna Cashen-Harris headline Brisbane’s top-age group. In terms of the NT talent on show, livewires Ronald Fejo and Andy Moniz-Wakefield should catch plenty of eyes, while Tedcastle will be the star small forward. Jaeden Watts is another to look out for, along with Jason Baird and Christos Gikas. A bunch of the NT boys have also gained senior experience in the NTFL, which should put them in good stead here.

OTHER NOTES…

Collingwood father-son prospect and potential top pick Nick Daicos will lead Oakleigh out having been managed in recent weeks, robbing him of a VFL debut with the Magpies. He is one of a few 18th-year players to have already graduated, making them available for NAB League selection while the school football seasons roll on. Josh Sinn is another in that category, but he has not quite come up for Sandringham this week. His absence looks to have opened the door for riser Finn Callaghan to be tried on the inside.

The Northern Knights are a side who will lose some key personnel to school football, but dashing half-back Darcy Wilmot remains after making an electric senior debut for Montmorency over the break. Sandringham forward Luke Nankervis is another in that category, with plenty of players getting back to their local roots over the last month.

There are a bunch of 18th-year prospects who also turned out for VFL sides in that time, with Calder’s Josh Goater and Zac Taylor (both Essendon) among them. Potential North Melbourne father-son Jackson Archer was another, as he returns to Northern colours this week. Tyler Sonsie, who turned out for Box Hill, will come back into Eastern’s fold, starting in midfield with Jake Soligo (Richmond) and Tyreece Leiu (North Melbourne).

The decision has been made for many top-agers as they either continue in the VFL competition, get more run in their legs through the NAB League, or part ways to head back to local football. With the mid-season draft fast-approaching, there are many in action this week who will count themselves in with a good chance of making the elite grade. Time will tell.

ROUND 4 FIXTURES

Saturday May 22

Sandringham Dragons vs. Western Jets
11:00am @ Trevor Barker Oval

Geelong Falcons vs. GWS Giants Academy
11:45am @ Avalon Airport Oval

Northern Knights vs. Brisbane Lions Academy
11:45am @ Preston City Oval

Murray Bushrangers vs. Oakleigh Chargers
1:00pm @ Wangaratta Showgrounds

Gippsland Power vs. Sydney Swans Academy
2:15pm @ Avalon Airport Oval

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Gold Coast Suns Academy
2:15pm @ Preston City Oval

Sunday May 23

Calder Cannons vs. Bendigo Pioneers
10:30am @ Highgate Recreation Reserve

Tasmania Devils vs. Northern Territory Academy
1:00pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve

Eastern Ranges vs. GWV Rebels
3:30pm @ Highgate Recreation Reserve

Image Credit: RF Photography

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 4 – Debutants raise eyebrows

WITH the NAB League in the midst of a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun filtering into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also got some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football levels. Note, some prospects missed VFL action this week due to the Under 23 Young Guns showcase.

>> SCOUT NOTES: 2021 Victorian Under 23 Young Guns

Geelong kicked off the round in style on Thursday night, with a 45-point win over the Northern Bullants at Marvel Stadium. The Cats unveiled Greater Western Victoria (GWV) midfielder Marcus Herbert on the night, and he fared well in his official debut with 14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal. The smooth mover also turned out for the Cats against the AFL Academy last month. In the same game, developing ruck-forward Liam Podhajski showed plenty for the Bullants, booting his first state league goal to go with eight touches and 12 hitouts against stiff opposition.

Podhajski, and Collingwood ruck Ned Moyle were due to play in Saturday’s Young Guns showcase before earning VFL selection, with both firming as viable mid-season draft options on June 2. Moyle suited up for his second game in black and white, almost doubling the output from his debut outing. The Oakleigh Chargers product notched 17 disposals, four marks and 19 hitouts, while NAB League teammate and Next Generation Academy prospect Youseph Dib slotted another two goals for the Magpies. Dib’s disposal tally of 12 was also a new personal best across his three VFL performances thus far.

With little to cheer about in the top flight, plenty of North Melbourne fans would have been eager to see how father-son talent Jackson Archer, the son of club great Glenn, fared in his VFL debut. The 18-year-old managed eight touches (seven kicks) and six marks from defence as the Roos went down heavily to Southport, with Archer among four North debutants out of the NAB League. Most of them got among the goals too, with Tasmanian Jye Menzie and Bendigo’s Nathan Kay snaring majors along with second-gamer Oliver Sanders, who also had 16 disposals and four marks. Cooper Smith, another Pioneers product was a standout with 20 touches and nine marks, but could not quite find the big sticks as he registered two behinds.

Elsewhere, the state league debut of top five prospect Tyler Sonsie raised plenty of eyebrows. His class came to the fore despite Box Hill’s loss to Werribee, as the youngster finished with 24 disposals and a couple of very nice goals. Sonsie’s second was the highlight of his game, coming on the run from 50 metres out during the third term as Box Hill mounted a charge. Potential Bulldogs father-son Ewan Macpherson was also a late call-up for Footscray, managing 11 touches and five tackles in his maiden outing – a win against Carlton.

Around the nation, there were a few more debuts and standout performances. Top 10 prospect Matthew Roberts broke through for his first League outing in South Adelaide colours, joining top pick contender Jason Horne in the Panthers side which beat Woodville-West Torrens. Roberts warmed to the occasion nicely with 14 disposals and a goal, while Horne’s consistent start to the 2021 season continued with 17 touches, five clearances and a goal.

Port Adelaide father-son talent Jase Burgoyne was called up for a SANFL League showdown on Saturday, building steadily for 14 touches as the Magpies won out by 14 points. Elsewhere at League level, Tasmanian key forward Jackson Callow returned his best outing for Norwood, booting three goals from eight marks (seven contested) in the Redlegs’ win over Central District. Nasiah Wanganeen and Blayne O’Loughlin also turned out for their respective sides at Reserves level, continuing their promising runs of form.

Over in Western Australia, Matthew Johnson managed six disposals and three marks as Subiaco beat Claremont in his second League appearance. Star key forward Jacob Van Rooyen continues to be rested by Claremont having been diagnosed with glandular fever.

Image Credit: Mike Owen/AFL Photos

2021 NAB League team preview: Northern Knights

NORTHERN Knights coach Leigh Clarke is encouraging his players to identify their “superpowers” as they prepare to return to competitive action on Friday afternoon. After over 550 days away, the Knights will take on Western Jets at Highgate Recreation Reserve and Clarke says most players have turned the time off into a major positive.

“The boys have presented in the best condition I’ve ever seen in terms of their running capabilities,” Clarke said. “Having a kick or a run with one mate was all they could do there for two or three months, but a high-90s percentage of them took the opportunity and have come back in really good condition.

“Being able to clock off 2km time trials that are pushing draft combine sort of levels, it’s a big, big credit to them to be able to back themselves away from the bright lights of pathway training, doing it in the dark and out on their own, so all credit to them.”

As for the superpower theme, it means the Knights will be a side sure of their greatest strengths.

“We’re talking a lot about superpowers at the moment,” Clarke said. “To understand, be clear and direct, be able to look people in the eyes and say ‘my superpower is x’. Have one and that’s it, there’s no debating, you know what your superpower is and you stand on your own two feet and can put that out in the open.

“We’ve got some time to work on all the stuff that’s at the back of the shop, but right now we want to focus on the things they do really well that we want to display that at the front.”

Allowing players to showcase their draftable qualities will also seep through the Knights’ style of play. Clarke says there is “no Da Vinci code” to how teams will look to move the ball, but that there will be similar styles with unique spins on them throughout the competition.

“We always stick to the fundamentals but the (players) have been able to pick up things pretty quickly in terms of how we want to move the ball,” he said. “We’re all following a similar path, we’ve just got various ways of teaching it. Our boys want to play a really exciting brand of footy that should display their draftable talent, so that’s a great starting point for us to be in.”

The region has also taken the approach of backing “character first” in 2021 as the NAB League top age moves up to 19. While like all regions, there are more 19th-year prospects on the list than usual, Northern is also looking forward to welcoming its Under 17 talent to the level once their carnival is completed.

Looking at the Knights’ most outstanding draft eligible talents, Ewan Macpherson is a top-ager with plenty to prove in 2021. The Western Bulldogs father-son prospect missed out on being drafted last year, but spent time with the Bulldogs pushing for a final list spot. The inside midfielder/defender has clean skills and should also feature in the VFL this year.

Tall utility Liam Kolar is another who went close to being picked up as an 18-year-old, but returns to the NAB League to get some more experience under his belt. Having come from a soccer and athletics background, Kolar is a likely type who combines speed and endurance as a key forward or even up on a wing.

He is currently being nursed back to full health though, having rolled an ankle while running out in a Carlton VFL practice match. Carlton NGA talent Regan Uwandu looms as another cog from the starting squad who is being managed back and will likely miss out for Round 1 with a foot injury.

Jackson Bowne is a livewire who will likely catch the eye too, while Ben De Bolfo is an emerging player who is relatively new to the program. The latter has taken up vice-captaincy behind Joel Trudgeon, a fellow 19th-year player who Clarke says is held in high regard by both his coaches and teammates. He is the brother of Carlton AFLW forward, Paige.

Rounding out the leadership trio is Joel Fitzgerald, an exciting 2003-born talent. Among the other 18-year-olds to watch are Josh Ward, Jack Rossimel, and Ben Long, who should feature prominently in the navy, black and white. There are some father-son prospects to keep AFL fans occupied too, with Macpherson, Jackson Archer (son of Glenn), and Mackenzie Hogg (son of Matthew) all rising the ranks.

Northern and Western are up second in Friday’s all-Metro double-header at Craigieburn, which should prove a good tested given the Jets already have a win on the board in 2021. While there may be plenty of cobwebs to be blown out, watch for the Knights’ superpowers to come to the fore this season.