Tag: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Throwback: 2019 AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser

WITH news that Western Australia will take on South Australia in an epic Under 19-themed AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser event, we take a look back at the last time budding AFL Draft prospects took the field ahead of their future counterparts, in 2019. The annual Under 17 Futures All Star clash has been scrapped for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, but proved a valuable sighter for the 2020 crop.

46 of the nation’s best talents got together to form Team Brown (black) and Team Dal Santo (white), battling it out on the big stage in what ended up being a very rare occasion for last year’s draft class, given it was ridded of an Under 18 National Championship and plenty of regular season football.

Of the 46 players afield, 36 have since been drafted with 22 making their AFL debuts this season. Among them was Sydney Swans Academy graduate Braeden Campbell, who shot into top 10 consideration with a best afield performance for Team Brown, who ran out 47-point winners.

A teammate of Campbell’s on the day, Jake Bowey also showcased his class with quick and clean skills, and will likely line up for Melbourne in this year’s AFL decider – bringing his journey full circle. Also available for selection in the big dance is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for Team Brown and was last year’s number one pick.

Eight of 2020’s top 10 draftees took the field, and it would have been a perfect record had Denver Grainger-Barras and Nik Cox been available. The earliest pick to miss selection was Luke Pedlar, who was snapped up by Adelaide with pick 11. A range of first round bolters also missed, including 2021 debutants Tom Powell, Conor Stone, Max Holmes, and Brayden Cook.

While the showcase nature of the game makes for required viewing for most keen draft watchers, fans would also have taken a keen interest given the whopping 18 club-tied players who were selected. It was no secret from even that early stage that the 2020 draft would be heavily compromised, and that figure only proved as much.

Nine Northern Academy talents took the field, with Campbell and his Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden the standouts. Of the seven-man Next Generation Academy crew, Ugle-Hagan, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide), and Reef McInnes (Collingwood) were all selected in the first round, while Taj Schofield landed at Port as a father-son candidate. Luke Edwards also fell under father-son eligibility, but was taken by West Coast in the open draft after Adelaide passed on nominating him.

While there were plenty of eventual draftees who missed out on selection in this game, but later proved their worth, the Futures fixture has long been an important one in identifying the next generation of talent. In 2019, it proved particularly essential given the class of 2020 endured a heavily interrupted season and limited opportunities to shine on the big stage.

This year, with another clash between WA and SA, there looms another critical opportunity for budding prospects to stake their claims as genuine contenders under a grand spotlight. There will inevitably be a riser, a surprise packet, one who stamps his first round credentials. We’ll find out who on September 25.

Featured Image: Port Adelaide’s Taj Schofield in action during the 2019 Futures All Star showcase | Credit: AFL Photos

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

THERE has been plenty of debate when talking about potential AFL prospects pertaining to the differences between judging ‘athletes’ against ‘pure footballers’. There is an argument that fitness testing should be taken with a grain of salt and that the eye test is most important, but when it comes to players being drafted – especially in the first round – prospects are often at the pointy end in at least one fitness test.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the main fitness tests conducted during preseason and at the AFL Draft Combine, they are as follows:

  • Agility Test
  • 20m Sprint
  • Standing and Running Vertical Leap
  • Yo-Yo Test
  • 2km Time Trial

Last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan excelled in the 20m sprint and vertical leap tests, with his on-field speed off the mark and jump at the ball highlighting just why he excelled at those tests. The combine, if anything, gives reassurance that those traits are indeed elite and will help try and separate talents like Ugle-Hagan from any other key forwards in that year’s crop. Athleticism is very important in modern football, with players quicker and bigger than what most talented youngsters are used to at the development levels. One club which has seemingly identified this in modern times is the fast-rising Essendon Football Club.

Since 2014, Essendon seems to have had a clear strategy with the types of players they have looked at with their high picks. Below is a list of the Bombers’ top 40 selections since 2014 and which tests those players excelled at. In a lot of cases, they were top 10 in those tests at the end-of-year combine.

2014:

Pick 17 – Jayden Laverde
(Didn’t test but athleticism was a highlight of his game)

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

Pick 6 – Aaron Francis
(Didn’t test but like Laverde, athleticism was a highlight in games)

Pick 29 – Alex Morgan (Since delisted)
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

Pick 30 – Harrison Jones
Vertical Leap, Yo-Yo, 20m Sprint

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

There is one big outlier here and that’s one of this year’s Brownlow contenders in Darcy Parish, who was only average in test results during his draft year. This could be seen as the biggest clue as to why athletic testing shouldn’t be so important, but it can also be argued that one of the main reasons for Parish’s form is due to improving his running capacity to an elite level.

Even their most recent mid-season selection, Sam Durham tested well for vertical leap and endurance, so its no surprise at least in Essendon’s case that athletic traits are a huge influence in whether the player gets taken. The current favourite for the Rising Star, Nik Cox has taken the competition by storm with his mix of athleticism and height, with that height another factor in the early Essendon selections. It was a matter of time before Cox got his nomination for the Rising Star award and in retrospect, we should have all seen his selection by Essendon coming considering all the traits he possesses are key indicators in the Bombers’ recent draft strategy.

Using this history, we can even try to narrow down the possible field of players that Essendon will look at with its first round pick in 2021. A trio of Sandringham Dragons instantly come to mind with Campbell Chesser, Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan. All three players tested well for the 20m sprint and vertical leap during preseason, highlighting their power and athleticism. With all measuring at over 185cm, they even fill a midfield need for the Bombers. They have another prospect right under their noses in Josh Goater who made his Essendon VFL debut not long ago and is an athletic beast. His speed and leap tests were all elite and at 190cm, he would be another Essendon style selection.

The modern footballer is taller, faster and can run all day, and it is getting harder and harder for pure footballers to make it at the top level. If young, pure footballers can start to develop athleticism in their game, even if it’s an elite endurance base, that’s at least a start in the right direction.

Height used to be a detractor for clubs but now with the likes of Caleb Daniel, Kysaiah Pickett, Brent Daniels and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, that is no longer the same obstacle for potential draftees as it used to be – though you also need to have that speed and class. If you are small and have the athletic traits and determination to make it as an AFL player, then you will be on the right track. If you are tall and have those traits, your chances of making an AFL list are even higher.

Fitness testing is an important tool, not just for clubs and recruiters, but also for up and coming players – especially those at the very early level. I’m hopeful coaches of junior football are able to set up some of these tests to help young players find their best traits, enhance them and embrace them. Understandably, it takes time, money and effort on their part and not every junior club or parent has that available. Programs such as Rookie Me, the official fitness testing partner of the AFL, allow junior athletes to experience professional environments at an early age, proving another handy head-start for budding footballers.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

State Leagues Wrap: Thrillers across the grounds

STATE league football entertained audiences across the country on the weekend as sides played out some thrilling contests. There were plenty of finals ramifications across the weekend’s results, as the race up the ladder heats up.

Victoria:

The VFL action was limited this weekend with most AFL affiliated sides not competing due to a bye as they look towards the next round of action. The weekend was not completely void of action though, as the Western Bulldogs held off a brave final quarter fightback from Carlton to walk away with a three-goal win at VU Whitten Oval on Sunday afternoon. In an inaccurate day for both sides, the Dogs looked to have the game wrapped up as they headed into the final term with a five-goal lead, after the Blues kicked 2.10 over the first three quarters. The Blues booted 6.1 in the final quarter to give themselves a chance to steal an unlikely victory, but the Bulldogs were able to weather the storm to record their fourth win to shoot up to top spot on the ladder. 2020 number one draft pick and Bulldog Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, possibly the most watched player in the VFL, copped a brutal head knock in the first quarter, ruling him out for the rest of the game. Mitch Wallis continued his strong form of late with 29 disposals and a goal, while ex-Magpie Ben Crocker booted four goals for Carlton.

South Australia:

Round six of SANFL action kicked off with a thriller, as South Adelaide snuck past Woodville-West Torrens by eight points at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval on Saturday afternoon. A three-goal burst from South Adelaide gave them a match-winning lead, as their opponents could not close the gap in time despite their best efforts with a late goal. For the winners, Bryce Gibbs was exceptional with two goals and 21 touches through the midfield as he continues his strong season, while Jake Tarca booted four crucial snags up forward. For the Eagles, James Tsitas and Jack Hayes worked hard through the engine room as you would expect, while Troy Menzel’s four goals kept his side in the hunt.

Central District’s struggles for the season continued as they fell to Norwood by 32 points at X Convenience Oval on Saturday afternoon. Norwood dominated all day, with forwards Cameron Shenton and Jackson Callow combining for seven goals up forward to torment Bulldog defenders all day. Through the middle, Matthew Nunn extracted five clearances, while for the Bulldogs, Travis Schiller and Darcy Pisani combined for 14 clearances as they battled hard to get their side back in the game.

The highly anticipated showdown did not disappoint as Port Adelaide held on to defeat an inaccurate Adelaide by 14 points at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon. As a curtain raiser for the AFL Showdown, the two sides went to war, and the Power’s first half looked to set up a sizeable win, but a five-goal to one third quarter meant suddenly the game was back on. Adelaide will be rueing a lost opportunity having kicked more scoring shots than their opponents. For the Power, Riley Bonner stood out, booting two goals from 26 disposals in an eye-catching display, while skipper Cam Sutcliffe was typically impressive. For the Crows, Chayce Jones continues to thrive in his new role at half-back, racking up 27 touches.

A monster game from North Adelaide forward Lewis Hender saw the Roosters crush West Adelaide at Prospect Oval on Sunday afternoon in a Mother’s Day clash. Hender booted eight goals in a dominant display, even more impressive is that he only took three marks, kicking plenty of goals from ground level. His midfield teammate Billy Hartung had 33 touches and 10 marks of his own. For West Adelaide, Kaine Stevens fought hard all day to find the ball 28 times, while Thomas Keough kicked three goals.

Glenelg’s undefeated streak suffered the biggest of scares on Sunday afternoon, as they held off a determined Sturt side to take home a four-point triumph at ACH Group Stadium. Luke Reynolds’ third goal of the day came at the 26-minute mark of the final term to put his side in front for the final score of the day. Reynolds combined with teammate Lachie Hosie combined for six goals to provide crucial scoring output for the victors. Through the midfield, the league’s leading ball winner Luke Partington lived up to the title, putting in a best afield performance with his 29 touches. For Sturt, James Battersby led all comers with 35 disposals in a valiant effort.

Western Australia:

Subiaco were able to snatch top spot on the ladder with a 40-point victory over a previously undefeated Claremont side at Leederville Oval on Saturday afternoon. The match was strongly anticipated heading into round six, and Subiaco were able to cause a crucial upset as they outplayed their opponents all day. Nicholas Martin led the way for his side, booting four snags from 20 disposals in an impressive outing, while teammate Lachlan Delahunty racked up 29 touches and 12 hitouts. For Claremont, Lachlan Martinis had 26 touches and Alexander Manuel kicked three goals.

An eight goal first term set up Peel Thunder for a 15-point win over Perth at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,268 fans. The Thunder were clinical in the first term and despite a spirited effort from Perth to drag themselves back in the game, the margin proved too strong as the victors recorded their third win of the season. For the Thunder, Kristian Cary’s four goals were handy while Jacob Coniglio had 26 nice disposals. For Perth, Tyrone Thorne was exceptional with 29 disposals and two goals.

Fans at Provident Financial Oval on Saturday afternoon were treated to a miraculous comeback, as West Perth came from nowhere to steal a nine-point victory over Swan Districts. West Perth trailed by 15 points heading into the final term, before kicking four unanswered goals to walk away with an impressive win. Shane Nelson was instrumental for the victors, racking up 35 touches and eight tackles. For Swan Districts, ruckman Corey Gault dominated with 26 disposals and 36 hitouts for the day.

East Perth have found themselves still searching for their first win, after falling agonisingly short against South Fremantle, with only seven points separating the sides at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon. The final quarter saw a slight sniff of a comeback for East Perth, but South Fremantle weathered the storm to walk away with the crucial win. For the winners, Haiden Schloithe continued his outrageous form, finishing the day with 35 disposals and three goals, clearly the best player on the ground, while Aidan Lynch was strong for East Perth with 29 touches of his own.

East Fremantle players celebrated the weekend in ruthless fashion, crushing West Coast by 125 points at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon. The game looked one-sided from the very first bounce, as the victors were able to do as they pleased with little resistance from their opponents. Blaine Boekhorst amassed a whopping 41 touches through the midfield, while Jonathon Marsh booted seven goals in the win. West Coast’s Xavier O’Neil was a bright spot for his side with 34 touches.

Queensland:

Round six of the QAFL started with Surfers Paradise blowing out Noosa to the tune of 70 points at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday afternoon. An eight goal second term proved too much for the visitors, as they were convincingly beaten for all four quarters of the match. For Surfers Paradise, Sam Hilton-Joyce booted four goals in a best on ground display, while Noosa’s Riley O’Dwyer impressed in a tough loss.

Moving to Cooke-Murphy Oval, Labrador pulled off an impressive comeback, defeating Mt Gravatt by 25 points thanks to a strong final quarter on Saturday afternoon. Trailing by 22 points at quarter time and nine points at three quarter time, Labrador rallied to kick five unanswered goals in the final term to steal an unlikely win. For the victors, Charlie Lang delivered his best performance of the year and was crucial in bringing his side back into the contest. For Mt Gravatt, Gareth Hunt impressed, particularly in the first three quarters when his side was in control of the contest and can hold his head high.

Morningside snatched a late victory against Redland-Victoria Point by just one point at Jack Esplen Oval on Saturday afternoon. Redland-Victoria Point’s Harrison Kerr kicked his third goal of the game with under three minutes to play and put his side only one point down. Morningside led by three goals before their opponents fought hard to take the lead midway through the final term, but ultimately suffered heartbreak. Morningside’s William Pendlebury was exceptional for all four quarters, while Redland-Victoria Point were well led by a strong Matthew Thomson performance.

Maroochydore stamped their authority on the rest of the competition with a dominant 66-point crushing of Sherwood Districts at Sherwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. Maroochydore took the lead early in the first term, and never surrendered it, cruising their way to a nice percentage booster. Benjamin Sloan was impressive in the win, while Mitchell Scholard and Benjamin Thomas combined for eight goals. Riley Greene tried all day for Sherwood Districts.

Broadbeach maintained their title as the competition benchmark with a 54-point triumph over Wilston Grange at Hickey Park on Saturday afternoon. Forward Jordan Moncrieff booted nine goals in a powerful performance to drive his side to victory, as Broadbeach remain undefeated after five games, and will take some beating. Hugh Fidler battled hard for Wilston Grange despite the one-way traffic.

Tasmania:

Launceston remain undefeated after defeating second-placed Clarence at Blundstone Arena on Saturday afternoon. There were questions around whether or not Launceston could hold off the surging Clarence side, but they dominated them all day, keeping them scoreless in the first quarter to take a 37-point lead into the first break. They never looked back and cruised their way to a strong triumph. Jack Tuthill was impressive in the backline, while Jake Hinds did not miss a beat in his return from suspension. Jarrod Harper was Clarence’s best in a tough day at the office.

An eight-goal opening term set up Glenorchy’s big win over North Hobart at North Hobart Oval on Saturday afternoon. Despite breaking their losing streak last week, North Hobart couldn’t convert in front of goal, kicking 3.13 for the day, ruling out any chance of a comeback. Glenorchy’s Daniel Joseph continued his strong run of form with a best on ground performance, while North Hobart’s Hugh Nj Williams fought hard all day despite the loss.

North Launceston a strong scalp for the season, taking down the Tigers at UTAS Stadium by 31 points in the final game of the round on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers started the season in blistering form, but the Bombers proved too strong, running away with a handy win. Bomber Bradley Cox-Goodyer returned to the side to deliver a best afield performance with two goals from the midfield, while Tyler Carter booted three goals for the Tigers.

Picture credit: Cory Sutton

State leagues preview: Pressure on undefeated sides

AS the weekend approaches, state leagues around the country prepare for another big round of footy. With high stakes across the board, don’t be surprised to see some thrilling contests.

Victoria:

The VFL will be holding less games this week, with eight teams set to have a bye this weekend as the competition breaks up the matches with the added interstate teams. However, this does not mean there will be a shortage of exciting matchups.

The Casey Demons were hoping to maintain their spot on top of the ladder with a win over the Sydney Swans at Casey Fields on Sunday morning, however that encounter has been delayed due to COVID-19 related issues. The Demons find themselves in first place after starting the season 3-0 with a handy percentage and their big win over North Melbourne last round will give them plenty of confidence despite not being able to head into a clash with the struggling Swans side. Sydney have started the season with just one win from their three games, with their heartbreak from last week’s three-point loss a driving factor for the Swans players.

Sunday afternoon will also see the Carlton Blue travelling to Whitten Oval to take on the undefeated Footscray Bulldogs in a tantalising matchup. Carlton have been no slumps this season, winning two out of their first three matches, and dominating Essendon by 49 points in round three. They will fancy themselves against the Dogs here, but it will be a tough task to slow down their opponents. Footscray soundly defeated the Northern Bullants to the tune of 43 points last week, marking their third win by over seven goals. Prized Bulldog Jamarra Ugle-Hagan continues to find his feet at this level, so expect him to have a big presence in the forward line. Carlton’s Will Setterfield will be looking to perform at the level that has seen him collect over 25 disposals in each of the last two games.

South Australia:

The SANFL season is flying as South Australia’s premier league heads into their sixth round of action. The most intriguing matchup of the round comes first as the Woodville-West Torrens host the South Adelaide Panthers in a clash that will prove vital for each of the two sides. The Panthers have lost just the one match from their first five games, good enough for second place on the ladder. Their chances will be bolstered by the return of Matthew Broadbent and Liam Fitt, while 17-year-old Matty Roberts will make his debut after a strong performance in the U18’s last round. The Eagles sit just behind their opponents in third place, having won one less game, but will be driven by last round’s loss to Port Adelaide. The inclusion of star forward Jack Hayes will give them a huge confidence boost heading into a crucial game on Saturday afternoon.

The Central District Bulldogs will be looking for their second win for the season as they prepare for this round’s match against Norwood at X Convenience Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs have had a less than ideal start to the season, finding themselves on the bottom of the ladder after six rounds, and have decided to change things up at selection. Key forward Connor McLean has been named in the forward pocket, in an attempt to stretch Norwood’s defence. Norwood could be recalling Mitch Grigg, who is named on the extended bench after his shocking relegation to the reserves in recent weeks. Grigg collected 20 touches in last week’s match, so don’t be surprised to see him line up for the senior side this week.

The SANFL showdown always delivers a buzz around Adelaide, with this year proving no exception, as the Port Adelaide Power and the Adelaide Crows prepare to go to war on Saturday afternoon at Adelaide Oval as a curtain raiser to the AFL match between the two sides. The Power find themselves just inside the top five based on percentage, but last week’s ten-goal win over the Eagles will see them enter this match with their tails up. Experienced defender Tyson Goldsack will debut for the side having overcome a knee injury, while potential draftee Jase Burgoyne will line up for the Power in his debut as a part of his work in the Power’s Next Generation academy. The Crows sit on the same amount of wins as their fifth-placed opponents, but find themselves down the pecking order in eighth place. They will unleash Tasmanian development player Oliver Davis on the wing, after being recruited from Clarence for the rest of the season.

Kicking off the Sunday football action, the North Adelaide Roosters will host the West Adelaide Bloods at Prospect Oval on Sunday afternoon, with both sides keen to take home a very important win. The Roosters have started the season with just the one win from five games, so a triumph in this match would be vital for reigniting their 2021 season. They will welcome back utility Sam McInerney, who will play his first match since 2019, following a series of back injuries, while former Hawk Billy Hartung has been named on a wing in his first game of the year. The West Adelaide Bloods will be hoping to ride the momentum of last week’s win over Central District into this week, as they look to enter the top five with a victory on Sunday. They will be welcoming mature-age recruit Nick Steele, who will be lining up at centre-half-forward for his first SANFL match.

Sturt face a tough task this round, as they face off against the top of the table Glenelg at ACH Group Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the round. Sturt have started the season with two wins and three losses from five games, with their round five triumph over the Crows coming by just one point. They have not confirmed their changes yet, with all inclusions named on the extended bench, and one of these inclusions is former Power player Riley Grundy, who could debut to boost his side’s backline. Glenelg have started the season like a house on fire, winning all five of their matches to date, and will be looking to keep their unbeaten streak rolling. As a result of their hot start, they will likely enter the clash unchanged.

Western Australia:

The sixth round of WAFL action kicks off with an absolute blockbuster, as Claremont travel to Leederville Oval to face off against a fired-up Subiaco side on Saturday afternoon. Claremont have not put a foot wrong in their start to the season, ending round five with a 4-0 record as the dominant team of the competition. Forward Jack Butler kicked five goals from nine scoring shots, so expect Subiaco to send their best defender to keep an eye on him all day. Subiaco started the season 3-0, but were handed their first loss of the season by South Fremantle in round five, so look for them to come out eager to make amends. Ruckman Lachlan Delahunty will play a crucial role in his side’s success, and if he can back up last week’s 21 disposal and 29 hitout effort, Subiaco’s midfield should gain ascendancy.

Perth will be hoping to move up the ladder with a second consecutive win as they prepare to take on a Peel Thunder side in a similar situation. Both sides sit at 2-2 on the season and a third win could see the victor move into the top four after this high-stake game. Perth broke a two-game losing streak with a five-goal win over East Fremantle last round in a promising display and would love to back it up this round. Brady Grey played his best game of the season last week, with 29 disposals, 11 marks and nine tackles, and was crucial in the win, and should prove important again this week. Peel Thunder dominated West Coast last week, crushing their opponents by 79 points, so they will be confident in their ability heading into this clash. Blair Bell is fresh off a six-goal haul against the Eagles, so keep an eye on his presence around goal.

Swan Districts will be looking to edge closer to top spot on the ladder with a win over a faulting West Perth team at Provident Financial Oval on Saturday afternoon. Swan Districts are on a three-game winning streak to see them currently sit with a 3-1 record in second place and will be heavy favourites this week. Midfielder Samuel Fisher is averaging 34.5 disposals on the season in a blistering start and should rack up plenty of the ball in this clash. West Perth have only managed the one win in the 2021 season, and look unlikely to snatch one here, but if they do, it could kickstart a promising campaign.

East Perth will have the opportunity to grab their first win of the season on Saturday afternoon, as they travel to Fremantle Community Bank Oval to take on South Fremantle. East Perth have started the season with a disappointing 0-4 record and sit second last on the ladder. Last week’s performance was promising as they pushed second placed Swan Districts right to the final siren, only falling two goals short of a massive upset. If they can bring a similar effort this week, they may finally sing the song. Edward Simpson booted five snags in the loss and should once again give defenders a headache. South Fremantle have won two games in a row to finally build some momentum as the season progresses. A win here could push them into the top three, so they will be eager to walk away victors. Haiden Schloithe has displayed his talents as a goalkicking midfielder all year so expect Saturday to prove no different.

The final match of round six will see East Fremantle host a West Coast side that is yet to compete all year, as the sides go head-to-head at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon. East Fremantle are making a strong push for the top four, but last round’s loss to Perth made that slightly harder. They will be looking to grab this game with both hands early on, with Cameron Eardley likely to prove influential through the midfield. West Coast have simply looked off the pace all year, yet to register their first win and have been soundly beaten by plenty of sides. A bright spot for the season has been Hamish Brayshaw, who will look to find plenty of the ball around the ground.

Queensland:

QAFL action begins at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, as Surfers Paradise host Noosa at Sir Bruce Small Park, as both sides look to recover from shaky starts. Surfers Paradise have won just the one game so far this year, and a loss here could see them fall right down in the race for the flag. Luckily for them, they face an out of form side, and a win would likely pump some life into their season. Look for Alby Jones to back up last week’s strong outing. Noosa are yet to win a game after four games and will be desperate to change that with a win this round. They were competitive against Sherwood Districts, but missed an opportunity to defeat a side that was also searching for their first win. Ryley Buntain has delivered two fantastic performances in losing sides, so he will be eager to walk off a winner.

Labrador will be thrilled with the opportunity to jump up the ladder as they head into Saturday afternoon’s clash with Mt Gravatt at Cooke-Murphy Oval. Labrador sit fourth on the ladder with three wins and one loss from their matches this year, and a win could see them reach second depending on results around the league. Heading into the match as favourites, their motivation will be high to continue to set themselves up as the season progresses. Former AFL gun Pearce Hanley has been on fire in the last two weeks, so if he is once again allowed to roam free, Labrador will be hard to stop. Mt Gravatt have won only the solitary game this year but have had two byes in five weeks. Nevertheless, a second win is crucial, and Saturday provides a perfectly good opportunity. Gavin Grose’s start to the year has been eye catching and should continue in this match.

A fresh Morningside team will be hosting Redland-Victoria Point at Jack Esplen Oval on Saturday afternoon in an exciting matchup. Fresh off the bye, Morningside will be ready for the challenge from a strong Redland-Victoria Point side, as both sides look to climb the ladder with an important win on Saturday. Redland-Victoria Point’s Harrison Kerr has booted 11 goals in his past three games and will need to be held accountable if Morningside are to slow down the scoring of their opponent.

Sherwood Districts will be looking to cause an upset as they prepare to host an impressive Maroochydore at Sherwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. Sherwood Districts have only won a single game this season, while their opponents have won three, so a boilover here looks unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Maroochydore sit second on the ladder, and if ladder leaders Broadbeach are beaten this round, a big win in this match could see them move to the top of the table. Keep an eye on Maroochydore’s Jacob Simpson, who has performed strongly all year. Sherwood Districts’ William Fletcher has been equally impressive and has also put his hand up as one to watch.

Wilston Grange face the tough task of slowing down the ladder leaders, as they host the undefeated Broadbeach at Hickey Park on Saturday afternoon. Wilston Grange have a 1-3 record after four games in an underwhelming start to the year, but a win here would truly send a message to the rest of the competition. They have the ability to kick a winning score, highlighted by Will McKenzie’s seven goals in his last two games. Broadbeach will be a tough beast to tame though. 4-0 on the season, they simply know how to get the job. With the top spot comes the pressure, and they will be eager to show they can more than handle it. Liam Nelson has been strong in the last three games and will be hoping to maintain this.

Tasmania:

The sixth round of TSL football kicks off with a bang as Clarence host competition powerhouse Launceston at Blundstone Arena on Saturday afternoon. Launceston have looked unstoppable but face arguably their toughest challenger this week on their home deck. Clarence have looked fantastic this year, especially since returning to Blundstone Arena, and will fancy themselves a strong chance to knock off the reigning premiers on Saturday. The inclusion of experienced forward Josh Green should make them more dangerous forward of the ball. Launceston will be regaining stand-in captain Jake Hinds after serving his suspension, while Dylan Riley will be eager to continue the run of form that has seen him boot 19 goals in the last two matches.

Another key clash this weekend comes in the form of North Hobart taking on Glenorchy at North Hobart Oval on Saturday afternoon. Both sides sit with a 1-3 record and changing that to 2-3 is crucial for the season moving forward. North Hobart will bring in ruckman Logan Elphinstone to establish some midfield dominance. Glenorchy will be regaining the services of experienced midfielder Sam Rundle who should prove a crucial inclusion to the side.

The Tigers and North Launceston will clash at UTAS Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the final match of the round. The Tigers have a 3-2 record and had their colours lowered by a firing Clarence side last weekend, so they will be desperate to get back on the winners list. Star Elijah Reardon was kept reasonably quiet last round so he should be keen to bounce back in this game. North Launceston sit at 2-2 having played one less game than their opponent, but will regain the services of Bradley Cox-Goodyer, setting up a thrilling clash.

Picture credit: The Examiner

2021 VFL Round 2 review: Southport wins battle of Queensland standalones

SOUTHPORT Sharks have overcome inaccuracy to post a 14-point victory over Aspley Hornets in the battle of the Queensland standalone teams at Fankhauser Reserve. Both sides won their respective Round 1 Victorian Football League (VFL) matches, so were coming in with good form. Despite having 19 more scoring shots throughout the match, the Sharks were only able to just get across the line, 14.25 (109) to 15.5 (95) as the visitors never stopped pushing the home team.

The match started with Aspley’s Matt Hammelmann on absolute fire. He booted two goals in the first six minutes, then converted a third midway through the term, for the Hornets to lead 3.1 (19) to 1.3 (9), as Jesse Joyce was the sole goalkicker for the home side. After a couple of other misses late in the term – Billy Gowers being the main suspect with three behinds – back-to-back goals to Round 1 hero Lukas Webb, as well as Ryan Gilmore, handed the Sharks a five-point lead at the first break.

The Sharks dominated the second quarter from the get-go as Brayden Crossley, and Gilmore contributed to a couple of behinds before Crossley bagged his first major, and Gowers got his first from his fourth scoring shot. By the midway mark of the second term, the Sharks were out to a 22-point lead, but already missed chances were keeping the Hornets in the game. Against the flow of play, Ben Warren and Ryan Banks-Smith slotted majors for the Hornets, and it was clear the visitors were going to capitalise on their chances.

In the final 15 minutes of the term, a flurry of action saw the Sharks extend their lead a little more, despite three straight behinds in the final couple of minutes. Crossley and Gowers both booted their second goals prior to that, with Thomas Baulch snagging one back for the visitors. At the main break, the Sharks had 22 scoring shots to nine, but only one more goal for an 18-point lead.

Desperate to capitalise on forward half possession, the Sharks had a goal in the opening three minutes going to Michael Manteit, which was countered by Ryan Bastinac of the Hornets. Three more minor scores down the Sharks’ end – including a couple of rushed behinds – were worrying, but Rhys King and Gowers ensured they did get some bang for their buck. They needed someone to try and contain Hammelmann however, as the ex-Brisbane forward was dominating with another three goals – taking his match total to five by the final break. For all the back-and-forth, the margin was once again 18 points at the last change.

The home fans really started to get nervous in the final term despite kicking the first two goals of the quarter through Gowers and Nutting to stretch the lead out to 30 points. Just when they looked to run away with it, the Hornets kicked five of the next six goals – including Cody Stackelberg matching Hammelmann’s three consecutive majors – which cut the deficit to within a kick. With seven minutes on the clock, the game was well and truly alive. Luckily for the Sharks, King came to the rescue to kick a steadier, and from there the home team held on for the victory, 14.25 (109) to 15.5 (95).

Gowers finished with a massive 5.5 from 17 disposals and six marks, leading the way for the winners, as Crossley and King both booted two goals, while Webb (25 touches), Joyce (23) and Manteit (20) all found plenty of the ball and each snagged a major. Jacob Dawson feasted around the ground on his way to 34 disposals, while Fraser Thurlow had 29 hitouts from 19 touches. Despite playing in a losing side, Hammelmann snagged six goals from 11 touches and seven marks, with Stackelberg’s three coming from 14 disposals and four marks. Baulch (25 disposals, two goals), Jack Rolls (22 and one) and Bastinac (19 and one) all worked hard to also hit the scoreboard, as ex-AFL talents Jacob Allison (30 disposals) and Corey Lyons (26) led the disposals.

It was a mixed back of results for the other Queensland sides, with Gold Coast Suns claiming a 14-point win over Sydney Swans, whilst the Brisbane Lions suffered a heavy 69-point loss to Carlton. Dylan Stephens (32 disposals, seven marks and five tackles), Sam Gray (31 disposals, six marks and five tackles) and Ryan Clarke (30 disposals, eight marks) all put their hand up for a Swans recall, whilst youngster Sam Thorne slotted three goals, as did Joel Amartey. For the Suns, Will Bella slotted three goals form 10 touches and five marks to be a standout Academy prospect, with Malcolm Rosas (18 disposals, two goals) and Will Brodie (31 disposals, two goals) among the top AFL-listed players. For the Lions, Tom Fullarton had a day out with 34 touches and 18 hitouts through the ruck, while Rhys Mathieson kicked four goals from 18 disposals in a half. The Blues had an even set of contributors led by Will Setterfield (25 disposals, seven marks and 10 tackles) and Paddy Dow (20 disposals, six tackles) through the midfield, whilst Ben Crocker and James Parsons combined for a whopping 12 goals in the win.

Western Bulldogs handed GWS GIANTS their second loss of the season, as last year’s number one draft pick, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan slotted five goalswer to be amongst six multiple goalkickers for the Dogs in the huge 21.9 (135) to 10.3 (63) victory. Mitch Hannan (three goals), Rhylee West (three and 25 touches, seven marks and five tackles) and Louis Butler (two and 20 touches, six marks and three tackles) were all huge, while teenager Dominic Bedendo (nine disposals, five marks and two goals) also looked dangerous for the Dogs. Jesse Hogan continued his good return to form with four goals from 14 touches and 11 marks for the Giants, while Will Shaw (two goals) and James Peatling (23 disposals, six marks) and Josh Green (21 disposals, three marks and four tackles) were among the top ball-winners.

Meanwhile, Port Melbourne and Williamson enjoyed wins against Sandringham and Werribee respectively. Nash Holmes (28 disposals, six marks and five tackles), Tom O’Sullivan (28 disposals, eight marks), Eli Templeton (25 disposals, 13 marks and two goals) and Isaac Conway (24 disposals, four marks, five tackles and two goals) all dominated for the Borough, while Luke Dunstan had the ball on a string for the Zebras, collecting 46 disposals. Ryan Byrnes (25 disposals, five marks) and Leo Connolly (19 disposals, four marks) were other St Kilda-listed talents who stood out. Mitch Hibberd was again lively for the Seagulls with 23 disposals and eight tackles, leading the way from Liam Hunt (20 disposals) and Jack Toner (16 disposals, eight marks), while Tom Downie had a great battle with Matthew Lobbe, collecting 35 hitouts from 12 disposals. Lobbe had 37 and 12, while Matthew Hanson (25 disposals, six tackles), Shaun Mannagh (24 disposals, four tackles) and Tom Gribble (22 disposals, four tackles) were also big ball-winners.

In other results, Frankston Dolphins dominated North Melbourne on their way to another win, getting up 16.8 (104) to 5.9 (39). Tyler Roos and Nathan Freeman shared in a lazy 85 disposals and 20 marks between them for opposite sides through the midfield, while Bailey Lambert (five goals), Jack Mentha (three) and Will Fordham (24 disposals, two goals) were also damaging on the scoreboard for the Dolphins. Will Walker (23 disposals, 11 marks) Harry Jones (21 disposals, eight marks) and Flynn Appleby (20 disposals, 11 marks) supported Roos in the heavy loss. Another standalone side Northern Bullants was not as fortunate against Hawthorn at Box Hill City Oval, with the visitors going down by 56 points after being level at quarter time. Emerson Jeka slotted five goals from 20 disposals and nine marks in a dominant display up forward, while Fergus Greene (14 disposals, three goals) and Keegan Brooksby (13 disposals, 24 hitouts and two goals) were also good. Ned Reeves had a casual 54 hitouts to go with 16 touches and a goal as well. for the Bullants, Tynan Smith kicked three majors from 16 touches, as Tom Wilson (26 disposals, 10 marks) and Paul Ahern (23 disposals, one goal) were among the best.

In the final two games, Casey Demons recorded a big 13.18 (96) to 5.7 (37) victory over Richmond, while Essendon won the Anzac Day eve battle with Collingwood, 12.13 (85) to 6.14 (50). It was a good day for the red heads, as Jake Bowey (26 disposals, five marks) and Oskar Baker (24 disposals five marks) both impressed, while Neville Jetta was strong with 23 touches, and Ben Brown (four goals) and Sam Weideman (three) stepped up in front of goal again. For the Tigers, Mabior Chol was the only multiple goalkicker with two, as Pat Naish (28 disposals, five marks) and Callum Coleman-Jones (18 disposals, nine marks and 29 hitouts) worked hard through the four quarters. Tom Cutler (27 disposals, seven marks and three goals) was outstanding for the Bombers, while Ned Cahill (21 disposals, five marks and six tackles), Angus Baker (21 disposals, five marks) and Josh Tynan (21 disposals, five marks) were also solid. For the Magpies, youngster Caleb Poulter racked up 27 touches, three marks and three tackles to put his hand up for an AFL debut, as Reef McInnes (17 disposals, four tackles) and Tom Wilson (20 touches, seven marks) were also impressive. Next-Generation Academy member Youseph Dib finished with 11 disposals, tow marks and eight tackles in a solid display.

VFL ROUND 2 RESULTS:

GWS GIANTS 10.3 (63) def. by Western Bulldogs 21.9 (135)
Gold Coast Suns 14.11 (95) def. Sydney 12.9 (81)
Carlton 24.10 (154) def. Brisbane 13.7 (85)
Southport 14.25 (109) def. Aspley 15.5 (95)
North Melbourne 5.9 (39) def. by Frankston 16.8 (104)
Collingwood 6.14 (50) def. by Essendon 12.13 (85)
Hawthorn 17.10 (112) def. Northern Bullants 8.8 (56)
Richmond 5.7 (37) def. by Casey Demons 13.18 (96)
Port Melbourne 13.14 (92) def. Sandringham 9.12 (66)
Werribee 7.11 (53) def. by Williamstown 9.10 (64)

Picture credit: RF Photography

State Leagues Wrap: Plenty of big scores as teams find mojo

THE Aussie Rules state league action resumed this weekend around most parts of the country with plenty of enthralling contests. While most states went about their normal business, the WAFL was unfortunately cancelled due to the recently acquired COVID-19 cases and ensuing lockdown.

Victoria

The Western Bulldogs delivered a dominant performance, defeating the GWS Giants 21.9 (135) to 10.3 (63) on Thursday night’s VFL opener. In a star-studded contest, the Dogs proved too good, kicking eight goals to two in the third to essentially seal the result. Potentially the most watched player in the VFL so far this year, last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan once again impressed with a five-goal haul. With an injury to Bulldogs AFL tall Tim English, this could be the perfect opportunity for the 18-year-old to make his much-anticipated debut. Patrick Lipinski also impressed with 35 disposals and a goal in a strong claim to earn a debut to the AFL side. Giants recruit Jesse Hogan kicked four goals as he looks towards an AFL debut for GWS.

Gold Coast continue to adjust to life in Victoria as they defeated fellow interstate side Sydney Swans by 14 points in an exciting clash on Saturday morning. The Suns held off a fast-finishing Swans side to claim their first win of the season. Will Brodie was the Suns’ best with a massive 31 disposal, two goal performance through the midfield. Swan Dylan Stephens responded to his omission from the AFL side with 32 disposals in an eye-catching performance.

Carlton booted the biggest score of the round, triumphing over the Lions in a 24.10 (154) to 13.7 (85) win. Former Pie and Crow Ben Crocker booted seven goals in the victory, while AFL listed duo Will Setterfield (25 disposals, 10 tackles) and Paddy Dow (20 disposals, six tackles) both put their name in contention for a recall over the coming weeks. Omitted Lion Tom Fullarton was the best for his team on the day, stuffing the stat sheet with 34 disposals, 18 hitouts and a goal in a performance that should catch the eye of coaches.

It was a battle of two inaccurate sides as Essendon took down Collingwood with a 12.13 (85) to 6.14 (50) victory. Both sides wasted plenty of opportunities in front of goal, but ultimately the Bombers overwhelmed their opponents to walk away win. Essendon’s Tom Cutler put in a best on ground performance for the winning side, booting three snags to go with 27 disposals. Alec Waterman was reflective of his side, kicking 2.4 in what could’ve been a massive outing. Magpie Mason Cox fought hard in conditions not suited to big men, but will be facing a stint on the sidelines after finding himself reported.

South Australia

ANZAC round in the SANFL began with a victory to North Adelaide over their Norwood opponents by three goals at Hisense Stadium. The game began in close fashion, with only two points separating the sides at quarter time. North Adelaide began to kick away in the second and third quarters, before Norwood began a last quarter comeback that couldn’t be completed. Jordan Boyle was instrumental for North Adelaide, racking up 33 disposals and seven inside 50’s, while teammate Edward Allen was fantastic through the middle, with 24 disposals, nine tackles and five clearances. Norwood’s best was Jacob Kennerly with 22 disposals and 10 clearances.

Adelaide’s Billy Frampton was outstanding in his side’s 23-point win over the Central Districts at X Convenience Oval. Frampton booted seven goals to go with 19 disposals and 12 marks (nine contested) in a match winning performance. Frampton will surely be in contention for a recall at AFL level after Saturday’s match. Ruckman Kieran Strachan continued his good performance with 38 hitouts, while David Mackay found plenty of the ball with 24 touches. Central Districts were well served in the loss by Luke Habel (31 disposals) and Aiden Grace (5 goals).

South Adelaide continued their undefeated season with a strong 39-point win over a struggling Sturt side at Flinders University Stadium. A close contest for the first three quarters, Sturt trailed by only a goal at the final break. South Adelaide absolutely blew the game wide open in the last quarter, kicking five goals to none in the final term to seal the game. Former AFL star Bryce Gibbs was exceptional for South Adelaide, finishing with 35 disposals, seven tackles and seven clearances in a best on ground display. Joel Cross was also strong for the victors, kicking three goals from his 24 disposals. Sturt defender Casey Voss was valiant in defeat, finishing with 26 touches and 13 rebound 50’s.

Glenelg have held off a determined Port Adelaide, to leave ACH Group Stadium with a narrow 10-point win. Inaccuracy cost the Power, as they finished with the same amount of scoring shots as their opponents, but lacked the ability to convert in key stages. For Glenelg, Lachie Hosie booted five goals, including two in the last quarter that proved crucial in the game’s result. Michael Virgin was also influential in the winning side, finding the ball 27 times to go with 16 marks. For the Power, Sam Powell-Pepper impressed with 34 disposals, eight tackles and eight clearances.

In a nail biting clash, Woodville-West Torrens defeated North Adelaide by three points in the final game of the ANZAC round. Eagle Joseph Sinor was the hero of the match, kicking the goal to give his side the lead deep into the last quarter, and North Adelaide couldn’t conjure a game-winning response in time. Former Crow Riley Knight was terrific for the winners with 27 disposals and a goal, while ruckman Jack Hayes was also strong with 21 disposals and 21 hitouts. For North Adelaide, Jarred Allmond and Alexander Spina combined for 62 disposals.

Tasmania

It was a tale of blowouts in the TSL with two games decided by over 90 points. In the first game of the round, North Launceston responded from last week’s loss in the perfect manner, belting Lauderdale by 93 points at Lauderdale Oval on Saturday. The game was over by the main break, with North Launceston kicking 13 goals to nil in the first half. For the winners, Jay Foon was his side’s best while Brandon Leary and Thomas Bennett combined for eight goals. For Lauderdale, Nat Franklin battled hard all day.

The remaining two games were played on ANZAC day, in a fantastic day for local football. Starting at Kingston Twin Oval, the Tigers cruised away with a 24-point victory over Glenorchy on Sunday afternoon. The first three quarters belonged to the Tigers, as they took a 46-point lead into the last quarter, before a late Glenorchy comeback stemmed the bleeding. Tiger Elijah Reardon continued his strong form, claiming best on ground honours, while Glenorchy’s Harrison Gunther kicked three goals to be his side’s best.

The final game of the round saw Launceston demolish North Hobart on their own home deck, running away with a 125-point triumph in a ruthless display. The match was tense for the first two quarters, with only eight points separating the two sides at half time. Launceston then produced one of the best quarters of the season, kicking 13 goals to none in the third quarter, and this was compounded by a six goal to none final term. Launceston’s Dylan Riley was magnificent, kicking nine goals in the second half to finish with 10 for the match. Jay Blackberry was also excellent, kicking two goals from 31 disposals. For North Hobart, Nicholas Jackson worked hard all day.

Queensland

Redland-Victoria Point have walked away with a textbook win over Palm Beach Currumbin, claiming a 60-point win at Totally Workwear Park on Saturday afternoon. A strong first half from the Sharks set up the win, with their opponents struggling to recover from the half time margin. For the winners, Jamie Ivers kicked five goals in a day out, while William Johnson was also a strong contributor. For Palm Beach Currumbin, Mitchell Johnson resumed his great start to the year, backing up last week’s four goals with five goals on Saturday.

Broadbeach have sent a message to the rest of the competition, smashing Sherwood Districts by 102 points at Sherwood Oval. It was a four-quarter performance from the visitors, kicking at least five goals in every quarter and never giving the opposition a chance. Broadbeach’s Sam Jasper kicked a stunning eight goals and was easily his side’s best on the day but had strong support from teammates Ryan Pickering and Samuel Weddell. For Sherwood Districts, Billy Hawkes was his side’s best on a dark day for the club.

A close contest all day, Labrador did enough to hold off Surfers Paradise as they escaped with an eight-point victory at Sir Bruce Small Park. No team led by more than seven points at any break, and the game looked to go either way, but Surfers Paradise fell just short of snatching the win. Former Lion and Sun Pearce Hanley was instrumental in the win, and was Labrador’s best performer, while Max Johnson was also damaging. For Surfers Paradise, Max Green and Brody Haberfield were among the best.

A final quarter burst sealed the win for Morningside as they stormed away from a Wilston Grange side that hung around for the first three quarters, before falling by 40 points. Morningside turned a three-point deficit at half time into an 11-point lead at the final change, before piling on five goals to none in the final term to claim a handy victory. For Morningside, Nathan Colenso delivered his second bag of five goals in three games as he continues to prove a threat up forward, while Darcy Cameron-Reeves was also one of his side’s best. For Wilston Grange, Will Mckenzie’s four goal performance kept them competitive.

Maroochydore were too good for Noosa as they triumphed by 70 points at Maroochydore Multisports Complex in Saturday’s final match. From the first quarter to the last, Maroochydore tormented their opponents with their dominant play, and a victory never looked in doubt. For Maroochydore, Mitchell Scholard booted four goals, taking his season tally to 16, while Joshua Filo was fantastic. For Noosa Ryley Buntain and Ben Guthrie never gave up.

2021 VFL: Round 1 Draftee Focus – Tigers pair push for early debuts

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) returned over the weekend after a year away, with the revamped structure seeing 22 teams battle it out across 11 fixtures up and down the eastern seaboard, stretching from Friday to Sunday. Senior-listed players who missed AFL selection were able to get some run in their legs through the state league, with a bunch of 2020 draftees among them. We take a look at how prospects from the latest draft class fared in Round 1.

A pair of first year Richmond talents staked their claims for an early call-up in the competition’s season-opener, as the Tigers ran out 40-point victors over St Kilda’s VFL affiliate, Sandringham. Maurice Rioli Jnr was the first to garner some attention for a senior berth, after booting two goals from his 17 disposals in an exciting display. Loping ruck-forward, Samson Ryan was the other, having translated his preseason form to a three-goal haul on Friday afternoon.

For the Zebras, Tom Highmore pushed his case for a recall after being dropped from the Saints’ senior side. The marking defender reeled in seven grabs against Richmond, among his 16 disposals (13 kicks). The Saints’ first selection in last year’s intake, Matthew Allison also got a run for his new side, contributing five touches. Top-up selections Derek Eggmolesse-Smith and Mason Wood were also solid for their respective teams, leaning on their prior AFL experience.

Number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan continues his attempt to crack the Western Bulldogs’ forwardline, booting two goals from 11 touches in the reserve grade. Dominic Bedendo found the ball eight times as the Bulldogs beat Gold Coast, whose rookie selections proved the pick of their new crop. Aiden Fyfe (16 disposals, eight marks) and Rhys Nicholls (17 disposals) fit in nicely, as Category B rookie Hewago Paul Oea had it 19 times. Prized coups Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey also ran out for the Suns in their 67-point loss.

While their statesmen went down to a Victorian opponent, the Brisbane Lions came up trumps against Essendon with a 66-point win on Saturday afternoon. Academy graduate Carter Michael found plenty of the ball with 25 disposals and four marks, while the hard-running Harry Sharp (19 disposals, six marks, four tackles) stakes his claim for another senior crack. Raw tall forward Henry Smith booted a couple of goals, as Blake Coleman and Deividas Uosis also ran out in the maroon, blue and gold. Versatile NGA product Josh Eyre (eight disposals, three marks) was Essendon’s lone 2020 draftee afield.

A state league Sydney derby saw the Swans defeat the Giants by 26 points on the same afternoon, with both sides fielding multiple fresh faces across both levels in 2021. Sydney rookie Malachy Carruthers accumulated 19 disposals (16 kicks) and 10 marks in an impressive first-up effort, while academy graduate Marc Sheather notched 10 touches and kicked a goal.

Prized GWS pick Tanner Bruhn got a good run on the ball to amass 27 disposals in the charcoal and orange, an effort capped by two goals. Fellow Victorian Ryan Angwin showed his potential with 18 touches of the ball, while mature-age selection Jacob Wehr had it 17 times with 12 kicks. Cam Fleeton and Category B bolter Will Shaw also got some run in their legs for GWS.

Collingwood’s bumper draft haul has already made an impact at the top level, but there were also plenty of first year players plying their trade in the twos last week. Most hit the scoreboard too, as Collingwood snuck past Werribee; with Oliver Henry (11 disposals, seven marks, two goals), Caleb Poulter (18 disposals, seven marks, one goal), Reef McInnes, Liam McMahon and Jack Ginnivan (all one goal) making their marks. Tasmania rookie Isaac Chugg was also promising, finishing on 15 disposals and six marks.

Sunday saw a couple of aligned units lock horns at Box Hill City Oval, as the hosts went down to Casey Demons by 51 points. First round Melbourne selection, Jake Bowey made a good start to end with 23 disposals and four marks in red and blue, as Deakyn Smith (20 disposals, seven marks, six tackles) and the dynamic Fraser Rosman (10 disposals, two goals) also showed plenty. The Demons’ side is currently hard to crack, though.

Preseason supplemental selection Lachlan Bramble showed his ability at the level by ticking onto 20 disposals for the Hawks, also getting his hands dirty to lay eight tackles in the loss. Hawthorn NGA product Connor Downie looked in line for an early senior berth – not as concussion sub – but had nothing doing. He notched 10 disposals in this VFL outing.

Geelong thumped North Melbourne to start its season on the ideal note, with repeat-run machine Max Holmes arguably the pick of the draftees with 22 disposals (16 kicks). Nick Stevens clunked eight marks in the hoops and snared a goal, as athletic West Australian tall Shannon Neale managed seven disposals.

For North, Eddie Ford made a promising start with 13 touches and three marks, while the speedy Phoenix Spicer also made an appearance. Elsewhere, Corey Durdin was Carlton’s lone draftee in action as the Blues went down by a point to Southport. He had 10 disposals and kicked a goal, playing the small forward role.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2021 VFL Round 1 review: Queensland teams make their mark

A NEW era and a new competition full of surprises saw a number of clubs from New South Wales and Queensland join the still rather oddly-named Victorian Football League (VFL), and the majority came away with the points. The four AFL-aligned clubs in the two northern states on the east coast joined the competition, with standalone teams, Aspley Hornets and Southport Sharks also joining the fold, as did the Northern Bullants who returned to the competition. With 11 games played every weekend in the new 22-team competition, the competitiveness to finish inside the top eight has never been greater.

The match of the round was easily Southport’s come-from-behind win over Carlton at Ikon Park on Saturday. The Blues raced out of the blocks to pile on six goals to two in the opening term and lead by 26 points at quarter time. The Sharks began to claw their way back in the second, kicking five goals to four to draw to within 19 points at the main break, but the Blues seemed to keep them at arms-length. Carlton kicked 4.6 to 4.0 in the premiership quarter to again extend out to 25 points with a quarter to play, but the visitors were not done with just yet. Connor Nutting kicked two goals in the opening six minutes, and by the time Jacob Dawson had converted a major, the deficit was back in the single digits midway through the term, Lukas Webb brought it back to two points a few minutes later, and after Dawson levelled the score with a behind in the 20th minute, many thought it could be the competition’s first draw.

AFL-listed youngster Lochie O’Brien had other ideas, converting a goal in the 25th minute, and when Matt Shannon kicked a major at 26:38 on the clock, it appeared the Sharks had fought gallantly, but would not be able to comeback from a 12-point deficit, The last eight minutes of the term saw the Sharks relentlessly attacking, and forcing a rushed behind, which would prove ultimately important in the end result. Fraser Thurlow kicked a major in red time, and then it was just five points in it. The former AFL-contingent at the Queensland club had stepped up throughout the game, and indeed it would be Webb who would be the man of the moment, kicking a match-winning major in the last minute to seal the game. At one point, the deficit had got out to as much as 31 points, but the visitors had kept believing, and stunned the home side, 17.7 (109) to 16.12 (108).

Whilst he might not have kicked one in the final term, ex-Bulldog Billy Gowers had a day out with five goals from seven scoring shots, 15 disposals and six marks. Thurlow absolutely dominated the ruck for the Sharks, notching up 49 hitouts, but then going forward to slot three goals and take eight marks from 12 touches. Nutting, a former Gold Coast Academy talent kicked the three goals from 11 touches, while Webb’s two goals in the final term added to his 24 touches, five marks and four tackles. Andrew Boston (27 disposals, 11 tackles), Dawson (26 disposals, seven tackles and one goal), Jesse Joyce (23 disposals, four marks, three tackles and a goal) and Michael Manteit (21 disposals, five marks, two tackles and a goal) were among the other top ball winners.

Despite the loss, Liam Stocker practically kicked down the door for AFL selection with a whopping 38-disposal and 13-mark game, as David Cuningham (28 disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal), Sam Ramsay (22 disposals, seven marks and five tackles) and O’Brien (21 disposals, six marks and a goal) also found plenty of the footy. Matthew Owies kicked a straight four goals from 12 touches, six marks and four tackles, while ex-Pie and Crow Ben Crocker slotted 2.3 from 11 touches and five marks up forward. Another ex-AFL listed talent in Toby Wooller returned to Victoria from Queensland to kick 1.2 from 16 disposals, six marks, eight tackles and have six hitouts tor the Blues.

Fellow standalone Queensland side Aspley Hornets also sent a message to the rest of the competition with an absolute belting of one of Victoria’s proudest clubs Port Melbourne. The Hornets blew the Borough away in the opening term with a 10 goal to two first quarter, and whilst the visitors managed to get back to within 43 points at the final break with six goals to two over the next two quarters, the damage was done and the Hornets booted six last quarter goals to win 20.13 (133) to 12.8 (80). Ryan Bastinac was ridiculous with 39 touches, four marks, six tackles and three goals, with Matthew Payne (28 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and two goals), Corey Lyons (27 disposals, five marks and one goal) and Matthew Hammelmann (11 disposals, eight marks and 4.4) among the dominant players for the Hornets. Harvey Hooper (27 disposals, four marks and two tackles) tried hard for the Borough, while Anthony Anastasio and Matthew Signorello both slotted three goals apiece.

Also in the Sunshine State, Brisbane Lions reserves knocked off Essendon’s reserves in a 66-point belting at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex. Rhys Mathieson did his chances of a recall no harm thanks to a lazy 34 touches, eight marks and two goals, while Connor Ballenden (31 disposals, 15 marks and one goal) and Keidean Coleman (29 disposals, nine marks, three tackles and two goals) were also up there with the best for the Lions. First-year player Carter Michael showed he has the capacity to match it at senior level, amassing an impressive 25 touches on debut. Ex-Lion Tom Cutler had a team-high 29 disposals and 10 marks for the Bombers, while Nick Bryan racked up 34 hitouts, five marks and three tackles to show off his around-the-ground work with 27 touches.

The only Queensland team to suffer defeat in the opening round of the VFL was Gold Coast Suns, going down by 67 points to a red-hot Western Bulldogs outfit. The Bulldogs kicked 10 goals to three in the opening half to set up the win, restricting the Suns to just 12 scoring shots as the home team won, 16.13 (109) to 6.6 (42). The potent tall forward combination of Josh Schache (19 disposals, 12 marks and 5.4) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (12 disposals, 2.1) was the issue for the Suns, though father-son talent Ryley West was one of nine individual scorers, picking up 22 disposals, five marks and four disposals in the process. Will Hayes (29 disposals, 11 marks), Riley Garcia (24 disposals, three marks and nine tackles), Lin Jong (24 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and a goal) and Buku Khamis (21 disposals, 11 marks) were other AFL-listed Dogs impressing. For the Suns, Brayden Fiorini (31 disposals, 11 marks and six tackles) and Will Brodie (30 disposals, 10 marks and six tackles) had days out, while talented AFL Academy member Austin Harris kicked two goals from six touches, two marks and three tackles.

In the all-New South Wales battle, Sydney Swans emerged victorious of the GWS GIANTS, booting 12 goals to seven after quarter time to record a 15.6 (96) to 10.10 (70) victory. Colin O’Riordan had 32 disposals and 14 marks, as other Swans-listed talents in Lewis Taylor (32 disposals, eight marks and one goal) and Ryan Clarke (31 disposals, eight marks and four tackles) both racked up the ball with ease. Hayden McLean and Harry Morrison slotted three majors apiece, whilst Paddy McCartin returned to the field to have 19 disposals and nine marks in a promising return. Teenage talents, Sam Thorne (13 disposals, six marks and a goal) and Marc Sheather (10 disposals, three tackles and a goal) also gained some important experience. For the GIANTS, Alex Smout racked up 33 disposals, as Tanner Bruhn showed his AFL debut cannot be too far away with 27 touches and two goals. Josh Green, brother of GIANTS’ Tom stepped up to have 21 touches, as AFL Academy member Josh Fahey had the nine disposals, three marks and three tackles in the loss.

In a couple of the more memorable matches for the VFL, two all-standalone Victorian clashes saw Frankston Dolphins and Williamstown Seagulls win easily against Coburg Lions and Northern Bullants respectively. The Dolphins, led by ex-Bomber Josh Begley (six goals), and ex-Pie and Saint Nathan Freeman (40 disposals), proved too strong for the Lions. Coburg’s Marcus Lentini suffered leather poisoning himself, matching Freeman with a whopping 40 disposals and slotting a goal. Josh D’Intinosante and Mitch Podhajski both slotted three goals in defeat. For the Seagulls, they booted seven goals to one in the first half to set up the victory against the Bullants, as Jake Greiser (29 disposals, eight marks and one goals), Mitch Hibberd (29 disposals, five marks and one goal) and Liam Hunt (29 disposals, one goal) ran rampant. Joel Ottavi slotted four goals from eight scoring shots, while ex-Crow Jordan Gallucci slammed home three goals from 21 touches and six marks. For the Bullants, Tom Wilson had the most touches with 25 and six marks, while ex-GIANT and Roo Paul Ahern had 23 disposals, four marks, four tackles and kicked a goal.

Pies fans had something to smile about over the weekend, with a hard-fought seven-point win over Werribee, 10.9 (69) to 9.8 (62). Second year talent Jay Rantall put his hand up to return to an injury-depleted AFL lineup with 28 disposals, five marks and six tackles, while Tyler Brown (22 disposals), Caleb Poulter (18 disposals, seven marks and a goal) and Ollie Henry (11 disposals, seven marks and two goals) were among the young Pies to make an impact. Ex-Cat Wylie Buzza slotted four goals from 10 touches and four marks, as Tom Gribble (30 disposals, nine marks and five tackles) and Matthew Hanson (28 disposals, four marks and three tackles) did their thing. It was a much more one-sided contest for Richmond’s 40-point win over Sandringham Zebras, as the Tigers piled on 10 goals to three in the first three quarters to lead by 47 points at the final break, before the Zebras cut the deficit back rallying in the final term. Samson Ryan kicked three goals up forward, as Callum Coleman-Jones (22 disposals, six marks, 13 hitouts, four tackles and two goals) found plenty of the football. Jack Ross (34 disposals), Pat Naish (33) and Riley Collier-Dawkins (31) all easily dominated proceedings, whilst for the Zebras, Shaun McKernan was outstanding with 23 disposals, 10 marks, 11 hitouts, four goals and four tackles, while Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals, eight marks and a goal) and Oscar Clavarino (20 disposals, 14 marks) were among the St Kilda-listed talents to impress.

The two Sunday clashes between AFL-aligned clubs resulted in the Casey Demons getting a comfortable 41-point victory over Hawthorn at Box Hill, while Geelong posted a whopping 79-point thrashing over North Melbourne to sit at the top of the VFL ladder. Kade Chandler (25 disposals, 10 marks and a goal), Neville Jetta (25 disposals, 10 marks) and Aaron Vandenberg (25 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and a goal) were busy around the ground, whilst Ben Brown‘s debut in the red and blue (18 disposals, six marks and three goals) was overshadowed by a monstrous performance from Sam Weideman (16 disposals, seven marks and 7.2). Developing Hawk tall Emerson Jeka was one of three in the brown and gold to slot three majors in the loss, while Lachlan Bramble (20 disposals, eight tackles) and Michael Hartley (20 disposals) were among the Hawthorn-listed players to impress. For the Cats, Zach Guthrie had a day out with 27 disposals and 11 marks, as Charlie Constable (26 touches) and Oscar Brownless (24) pressed their cases for a call-up. Josh Jenkins and Ben Jarvis both slotted four goals apiece in the massive win, as two of eight individual goalkickers. Former Bushranger and Hawk’ Mat Walker had three goals from six scoring shots, as well as 16 touches and 10 marks in a dirty day for the Roos, while Dom Tyson (29 touches), Harry Jones (23) and Will Walker (20) tried hard.

VFL ROUND 1 RESULTS:

Richmond 13.17 (95) defeated Sandringham 7.13 (55)
Frankston 20.6 (126) defeated Coburg 14.12 (96)
Western Bulldogs 16.13 (109) defeated Gold Coast Suns 6.6 (42)
Brisbane Lions 15.14 (104) defeated Essendon 5.8 (38)
Sydney Swans 15.6 (96) defeated GWS GIANTS 10.10 (70)
Aspley 20.13 (133) defeated Port Melbourne 12.8 (80)
Carlton 16.12 (108) lost to Southport 17.7 (109)
Werribee 9.8 (62) lost to Collingwood 10.9 (69)
Hawthorn 10.7 (67) lost to Casey Demons 17.16 (118)
Geelong 18.15 (123) defeated North Melbourne 6.8 (44)
Northern Bullants 6.11 (47) lost to Williamstown 14.15 (99)

Picture credit: Southport Sharks Twitter

2020 AFL Draft recap: Western Bulldogs

WITH the consensus best player available in this year’s draft tied to their Next Generation Academy (NGA), the Western Bulldogs did a heap of early work to ensure their man would arrive at the kennel, along with at least one more National Draft selection. The momentum of a bumper trade period carried on into the next intake opportunity and is set to put the Dogs in good stead for another finals push in 2021. Boasting a spine which is filling out nicely and a ridiculously deep midfield, Luke Beveridge‘s side looks primed to ascend in the coming seasons.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

National Draft:
#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Rookies:
Lachlan McNeil (Woodville West Torrens), Roarke Smith (Re-listed)

The Bulldogs were well prepared to match a bid for NGA gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan anywhere within the top three, and did so without second thought when Adelaide put them on the board with the very first pick. Their remaining selections were effectively wiped, leaving only a late third rounder to look forward to thereafter.

Ugle-Hagan promises to form a formidable forward combination with Aaron Naughton, adding even more aerial firepower and match-winning ability. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate is quick off the mark and has a sizeable vertical leap, making him near-impossible to stop on the lead. Despite the lack of a top-age season, he has long been pegged as this year’s first choice and could quickly become one of the competition’s elites. He should be in the frame for an early debut.

With just one more point of call in the National Draft, the Bulldogs added another raw and athletic talent in Dominic Bedendo at Pick 55. The lean Murray Bushrangers product has outstanding athleticism across the board and good versatility in the the sense that he can play either up forward or as a wingman. His ceiling is quite high, but there is plenty of development left to make and strength to be added to his 187cm frame.

The only other fresh face to arrive at Whitten Oval was 19-year-old Lachlan McNeil, taken in the Rookie Draft. After being overlooked last year, the Woodville-West Torrens midfielder remained in the conversation with a quality SANFL League campaign for the eventual premiers. His inside-outside balance and running capacity would have appealed to the Bulldogs, who admittedly now have an embarrassment of riches in the engine room.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was the consensus best player in this year’s draft | Credit: Western Bulldogs

2020 AFL Draft: Club by club

IF you are waking up to try and scroll through and find who your club’s newest players are, look no further as we piece together last night’s National Draft club by club. To check out the player profiles of each player selected, click below:

Adelaide:

#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Brisbane:

#24 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#43 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#48 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Carlton:

#37 Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)
#41 Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

Collingwood:

#17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#19 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#23 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#30 Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
#31 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#44 Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Essendon:

#8 Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#9 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#10 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#39 Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#53 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Fremantle:

#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Geelong:

#20 Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
#47 Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

GWS:

#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59  Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Hawthorn:

#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Melbourne:

#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

North Melbourne:

#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Port Adelaide:

#16 Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)
#49 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Richmond:

#40 Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#51 Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

St Kilda:

#26 Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#45 Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sydney:

#4 Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
#5 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)
#32 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

West Coast:

#52 Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
#57 Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

Western Bulldogs:

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)