Tag: jay dahlhaus

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 5

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League rolls into Round 5 on the weekend, with all four fixtures set to play out on Saturday. Tiwi and Waratah go head-to-head in the opening clash of a TIO Stadium triple-header, while Southern Districts takes on Wanderers at Norbuilt Oval in a standalone game. Find out all the matchups, who will be out to impress, and more in our weekly preview.

Tiwi Bombers vs. Waratah
Saturday October 31, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah will be looking to return to the winners list when it takes on Tiwi on Saturday afternoon, a team yet to register premiership points at all this season. The Warriors’ win-loss record has them due for a victory this time out, having gone down to the undefeated Darwin Buffaloes in Round 4. Tahs’ two losses have come by a combined 19 points, meaning they have remained competitive throughout a difficult draw. On the other hand, Tiwi has suffered four defeats of over 50 points, looking a far cry from the side which stormed into finals last season.

The suspension of forward favourite Austin Wonaeamirri will not do the Bombers any favours, though a beacon of hope arrives in the return of Ross Tungatalum, who was widely billed to run out for St Mary’s in 2020/21. Ashton Hams and Adam Tipungwuti loom as two more high-class inclusions to a Tiwi side which lost comfortably on home turf last time out. Waratah’s settled lineup looks poised for another big performance, and may be boosted by outgoing Norwood ruck Sam Baulderstone, who measures up at 200cm. As far as imports go, the Warriors have fared well with the likes of Callum Searle and Jae McGrath, while mainstays such as Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll should help their side prove too strong for the struggling Bombers.

Southern Districts vs. Wanderers
Saturday October 31, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will be out to convert its maiden victory this season into a streak of winning form, when it hosts Wanderers at Norbuilt Oval on Saturday. The Crocs got on the board last week with a comprehensive 58-point drubbing of Tiwi and look to be building their squad nicely with a distinct Geelong feel. Wanderers has also benefitted from a busy off-season, sitting pretty in second at 3-1 having only gone down to reigning premier, Nightcliff thus far. The Muk Muks returned to the winners list in Round 4 and look a much more competitive side over four quarters than last season.

Southern Districts’ Victorian attacking trio of Andrew Boseley, Luke Kiel, and Jay Dahlhaus combined for 12 goals last week and will be certain to cause plenty of headaches for Wanderers’ defence. Calder Cannons graduate Brodie Newman has settled in extremely well among the Eagles’ back six, helping them maintain a league-best points conceded tally alongside the likes of Warwick Williams and Marcus Totham. Up the other end, Wanderers’ firepower lies with Simon Bates and Brett Eddy, who are both capable of bagging big hauls of goals.

The midfield battle should also be a good one, as Wanderers looks set to unleash Marlon Motlop next to Dane McFarlane, while Round 4 Rising Star Ronald Fejo provides pace on the outer. Even Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell is being kept out of the team upon his return to action. James Tsitas will lead the Crocs’ midfield after a scintillating performance last week, combining with good mate Nikolaus Rokahr and the ever-reliable Dean Staunton. With one team in hot form and the other rising, this should be a heck of a contest.

St Mary’s vs. Palmerston
Saturday October 31, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Fresh off an emphatic upset victory over Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to extend its winning streak to three when it takes on Palmerston at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. The Saints also knocked off Tiwi in Round 3 to currently sit just within the finals placings at 2-2, rectifying what was a lacklustre opening fortnight for the 2019/20 grand finalists. Palmerston has shown glimpses of promise as its lineup begins to gel, but has only defeated the winless Tiwi Bombers thus far. A true test of the Magpies’ improvement should present in this fixture, with the Saints a physical side which can apply good defensive pressure for four quarters.

St Mary’s co-captain Raphael Clarke looks set to return this week, named on the interchange bench with a raft of players ready to step up if required. Up forward, Jackson Paine looms as the dangerman having booted 11 goals in his last two games, aided by the versatile Jackson Calder and young gun Beau Tedcastle at his feet. Daniel Stafford is coming into goalkicking form for Palmerston, with player-coach Alwyn Davey producing vintage performances and Nigel Lockyer Jnr capable of swinging into attack when required.

In the middle, Magpies recruit Chris Williams has been prolific thus far, and is set to go head-to-head with one of the competition’s other dominant ball winners in Nate Paredes. The dynamic Shaun Edwards brings some x-factor to the Saints’ midfield, while Eric Guthrie has been a steady performer for Palmerston. The Magpies’ bigmen in Matthew Dennis and Jack Berry also provide great value, so should make for an even battle through the engine room.

Darwin vs. Nightcliff
Saturday October 31, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin faces arguably its toughest test yet when reigning premier Nightcliff rolls into town, hungry to bounce back from a shock loss in Round 4. The Buffs have defied odds and looked incredibly sharp under new coach Cameron Stokes, currently boasting a perfect 4-0 record atop of the Premier League ladder. That undefeated status will be challenged greatly by the Tigers, who looked to be cruising after three rounds before running into a solid St Mary’s side and dropping points for the first time this season. With arguably the two form sides of the competition coming to blows, this fixture firms as the match of the round.

Both teams have been well settled thus far, though a few changes look set to occur on either side. Nightcliff could finally bring in Calder Cannons standout Daniel Mott on the back of his impressive Division 1 form, while William Wallace is another fresh face who looks good value for a start. Willie Wheeler‘s return has been highly anticipated, so his pending selection is a promising sign. Darwin has been forced into at least one change after Jalen Clarke was suspended for head-butting, which could prove a key factor given the Tigers’ midfield strength. Jarrod Stokes remains though, and the Buffs boast plenty of goalkickers in the form of Brodie Foster, Ishmael Palmer, and the experienced Matt Campbell.

Featured Image: Action from the Round 4 St Mary’s vs. Nightcliff clash | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 4

ROUND 4 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League saw St Mary’s exact revenge on reigning premier, Nightcliff, while Darwin kept its perfect record in tact, Southern Districts claimed its maiden victory, and Wanderers’ winning form continued. All that, and more in our weekend wrap.

PALMERSTON | 2.1 | 6.2 | 7.6 | 11.8 (74)
WANDERERS | 2.3 | 9.8 | 14.11 | 18.14 (122)

GOALS:

Palmerston: A. Davey 3, J. Harvey 2, N. Lockyer Jnr, M. Sutton, M. Rankine, E. Kelly, J. Berry, H. Brown
Wanderers: B. Eddy 7, S. Bates 5, M. Mummery, D. McFarlane, B. Hodgson, J. Cubillo, J. Cubillo, S. Mannagh

BEST:

Palmerston: M. Dennis, E. Guthrie, C. Williams, R. Armstrong, T. Lui, J. Harvey
Wanderers: S. Bates, M. Totham, D. McFarlane, B. Newman, B. Eddy

Wanderers’ hot start to the 2020/21 season continued on Friday night, as the Eagles accounted for Palmerston by 48 points to climb into second spot. The 18.14 (122) to 11.8 (74) result at Cazalys Arena was built on the back of Wanderers’ ruthlessness, with the Muk Muks consistently able to apply scoreboard pressure and pull away after quarter time. Palmerston had no real answer in the end, only really running with their opponents for half of the four quarters.

Simon Bates was arguably best afield after booting 5.3, only outdone on the scoreboard by Brett Eddy‘s 7.3. Meanwhile, the midfield pairing of Dane McFarlane (33 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) and Shaun Mannagh (28 disposals, six clearances, one goal) worked wonders for the winners. Ronald Fejo was another to impact going forward with nine inside 50s, while Warwick Williams and Brodie Newman combined for 11 rebound 50s down back.

Palmerston player-coach Alwyn Davey led his side’s scoring effort with three majors, while prolific bigman Matthew Dennis (17 disposals, 17 hitouts) again made a case for being the best Magpie afield. Chris Williams, who has made an outstanding start to the season collected 27 disposals and four clearances, aided by Eric Guthrie (21 disposals, six clearances), with Michaelis McMasters (26 disposals, seven marks) also finding plenty of the ball.

ST MARY’S | 3.2 | 5.9 | 10.11 | 11.16 (82)
NIGHTCLIFF | 2.6 | 3.9 | 8.15 | 8.15 (63)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Paine 5, J. Calder 2, N. Paredes, S. Edwards, D. Landt, B. Tedcastle
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 3, L. Goonan 2, M. Rivett, P. Lewis-Smith, K. Emery

BEST:

St Mary’s: T. Saunders, J. Paine, L. Taylor, R. Smith, N. Paredes, J. Landt
Nightcliff: C. Gikas, J. Peris, P. Wills, C. Ilett, M. Rivett, D. Brew

St Mary’s produced some vintage form to make it two wins on the hop, becoming the first team to defeat Nightcliff in season 2020/21 with a 19-point win at TIO Stadium. Under Friday night lights, the Saints looked a much more assured side and worked hard to deliver a monster four-quarter effort which saw them run out 11.16 (82) to 8.15 (63) victors. Having held a lead of two goals or thereabouts throughout the contest, St Mary’s kept an unusually wasteful Nightcliff outfit scoreless in the final term to consolidate the win.

Nate Paredes comfortably led all comers with 27 disposals as he continues to run the Saints’ engine room alongside Shaun Edwards (19 disposals, four clearances). The forwardline was again spearheaded by Jackson Paine, who booted 5.2 from his nine disposals, while Tylah Saunders looked lively and Jackson Calder also snared multiple goals (two). Further afield, import Dylan Landt was again impressive with 19 touches and seven rebound 50s.

The Tigers’ maiden loss did not come without its fair share of solid contributors, with Dom Brew and Brodie Filo each managing 20 disposals, five clearances, and four inside 50s. Veteran Cam Ilett added a few highlights to his illustrious reel with a nice hanger and three goals up forward, while Victorian Luca Goonan booted two majors from his 14 disposals. After snagging 11 goals in his previous two outings, Kyle Emery was kept to just one by the stingy Saints defence.

TIWI BOMBERS | 4.3 | 4.6 | 8.12 | 8.12 (60)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS | 2.3 | 6.9 | 12.13 | 17.16 (118)

GOALS:

Tiwi: H. Puruntatameri 3, A. Byrne 2, N. Ebinger 2, P. Heenan
Districts: A. Boseley 5, J. Dahlhaus 4, L. Kiel 3, J. Farrar 2, J. Tsitas, N. Rokahr, J. Salmon

BEST:

Tiwi: J. Monigatti, A. Byrne, P. Heenan, H. Puruntatameri, N. Ebinger
Districts: J. Tsitas, Z. Smith, J. Dahlhaus, C. McAdam, A. Boseley, D. Staunton

One team’s ‘0’ had to go when the winless Tiwi Bombers and Southern Districts met on Saturday afternoon, and it was the Crocs who ran away 58-point winners on enemy turf. In very warm conditions on Bathurst Island, Districts’ fitness shone through after quarter time as the home side ran out of legs, going goalless in the second and fourth quarters. A raft of Geelong-themed recruits helped the Crocs overpower Tiwi, slamming home a total of 33 scoring shots.

Angus Byrne and Harley Puruntatameri were at the forefront of Tiwi’s hot start, each snagging multiple goals in the opening term to give their side a short-lived edge. The latter would go on to boot one more major, with Nick Ebinger also troubling the scorers twice. Bigman Jack Monigatti won 26 hitouts in a mammoth effort, aiding the cause of Nathan Scagliarini (26 disposals, six clearances) and Fletcher Carroll (25 disposals, five clearances). Meanwhile, Mason De Wit again took up his defensive post and registered 11 rebound 50s.

Former Tiger and Woodville-West Torrens premiership midfielder James Tsitas was phenomenal upon his return to the Top End, collecting a game-high 33 disposals and six clearances. Fellow SANFL gun Nikolaus Rokahr was also prominent with big numbers of 25 disposals, 11 marks, and 10 inside 50s, while skipper Dean Staunton managed 29 touches. A Geelong-themed forwardline of Andrew Boseley (five goals), Jay Dahlhaus (four), and Luke Kiel (three) also did plenty of damage for the Crocs.

WARATAH | 0.4 | 3.6 | 6.9 | 15.9 (99)
DARWIN | 5.2 | 10.5 | 14.9 | 16.9 (105)

GOALS:

Waratah: C. Searle 4, C. Arnold 3, J. Sutton 2, R. Turnbull 2, J. McGrath, J. Carmichael, B. Carroll, B. Orval
Darwin: M. Campbell 5, B. Foster 4, J. Collinson 2, J. Stokes 2, R. Matricardi, J. Clarke, R. Pendlebury

Darwin maintained its perfect start to the season, taking out a thriller against Waratah by six points on Saturday afternoon. In what would prove to be a danger game at Gardens Oval, the Buffs led comfortably by eight-straight goals at three quarter time, before fatigue kicked in and the Warriors hit back with nine goals in the final term. Tahs fell just short in the end, with the 16.9 (105) to 15.9 (99) result seeing them sit fourth at 2-2. Meanwhile, the Buffs are riding high in top spot on the back of their 4-0 run.

Jarrod Stokes played a major role for the Double Blues, with his two clutch goals coming from a total of 19 disposals, seven clearances, and seven inside 50s. Fellow experienced head Matt Campbell reverted back to a role in the forwardline, snaring five goals to justify a masterstroke from coach Cameron Stokes. Prolific forward Brodie Foster had plenty of chances and finished with 4.4, while Joey Collinson bagged two majors. Jalen Clarke (16 dispsoals, one goal) and Ryan Pendlebury (16 disposals, six marks, seven inside 50s) were other impactful players for the Buffs.

Waratah was serviced well by Joshua Carmichael, who managed a team-high 22 disposals and eight clearances. Robert Turnbull and Jake Sutton both breached the 20-disposal mark and booted two goals each, while Callum Searle notched four majors from his 17 touches. Rounding out the multiple goalkickers, Cameron Arnold slammed home three for the home side in what was another valiant team effort.

Featured Image: Darwin’s Chris Atkinson flies for the ball | Credit: Che Chorley/NT News

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 4

THREE rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action are down for season 2020/21, seeing the competition roll on into Round 4 this weekend. In a first for the new season, four different venues will be used to hold each fixture, with two games played under lights on Friday night, and the remaining two on Saturday afternoon. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

Palmerston Magpies vs. Wanderers
Friday October 23, 7:30pm
Cazalys Arena

Two sides with perfectly opposite records meet as Palmerston takes on Wanderers to open Round 4 proceedings at Cazalys Arena. The 1-2 Magpies moved back into the negative after a loss to Darwin last week, but have shown some promise with a fresh raft of recruits seeming to come together nicely in patches. Wanderers sit pretty at 2-1, with the Muk Muks’ only loss coming by 10 points at the hands of undefeated reigning premier, Nightcliff.

Palmerston key forward Daniel Stafford is one of the moving parts coming into good form, fresh off a four-goal haul against his former side. Fellow ex-Buff Chris Williams has enjoyed a dazzling start to the season along with Eric Guthrie and reliable ruckman Matthew Dennis. The run and rebound of Michaelis McMasters and Tyrrell Lui has also been important thus far, while Nigel Lockyer Jnr will have to get back to scoring form this week to help overcome the promising Eagles.

Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell looks like being a massive in for Wanderers, returning to the Premier League after appearing in Division 1. The likes of Simon Bates and Brett Eddy have already proven their scoring threat, with Victorian imports Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman looking to continue their high-level starts to life in the NTFL. Dane McFarlane and Michael Mummery bring some more potency having gotten some games under their belts, making for a dynamic Wanderers lineup.

St Mary’s vs. Nightcliff
Friday October 23, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A second 2019/20 Grand Final rematch is set to go down within the first month of the new season, as St Mary’s takes on Nightcliff at TIO Stadium. It has been business as usual for Nightcliff, who dispatched the Saints by 52 points in Round 1 en route to remaining undefeated to this point. The Saints have had it harder, losing their first two games before a much-needed drought breaking win came against Tiwi last week.

There have been some green shoots for St Mary’s, most significantly after Under 18 talent Beau Tedcastle kicked three goals on his senior debut last time out. Jackson Paine comes in off a six-goal haul, while the likes of Nate Paredes, Jacob Long, and Shaun Edwards are ticking along nicely. Kieren Parnell looms as a nice addition as the Saints continue to field some fresher faces, including Jeremy Goddard and Charlie Furphy from Victorian. They both have turned out this season, along with Jack and Dylan Landt, who have made an impact.

The Tigers could also blood some imported talent, namely Calder Cannons graduate Daniel Mott after his impressive Division 1 showings. In the top flight, Kyle Emery has justified his switch from Palmerston with 11 goals in the last two games, fronting up well with the likes of Brodie Filo, Daniel Bowles, and Phillip Wills delivering from further afield. Tom Boyd is another looking to continue his good form, with the reigning premiers looking strong as ever.

Tiwi Bombers vs. Southern Districts
Saturday October 24, 12:30pm
Wurrumiyanga Oval

Barring a draw, either Tiwi or Southern Districts will break their duck for season 2020/21 when they square off at Wurrumiyanga Oval on Saturday. While both sides are winless at 0-3, it is the Bombers who sit bottom of the ladder after three losses by over 50 points. The Crocs have shown signs of improvement and amid a tough draw, have had a couple of tight losses. Last week’s heartbreaker against Waratah should serve as adequate motivation.

Districts has a distinct Geelong feel about it this week, with former Nightcliff midfielder James Tsitas lining up alongside good mates Luke Kiel and Andrew Boseley. More recent Geelong Falcons graduates Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus are also set to take the field, having already impressed in the top flight. Nikolaus Rokahr is another brilliant addition, fresh off a solid SANFL season for Norwood.

The Bombers look like banding together some of their favourites once again, with the likes of Cyril Rioli and Austin Wonaeamirri named in hopes of boosting their side’s form. Jack Monigatti also looms as a great inclusion, with the likes of Angus Byrne and Mason Dewit already staking their claims in the squad. Given Harley Puruntatameri, Henry Kerinaiua, and Adam Sambono have also been named, the Bombers look like posing their usual threats of speed and forward firepower.

Waratah vs. Darwin Buffaloes
Saturday October 24, 3:00pm
Gardens Oval

Darwin will once again put its perfect record on the line when it faces Waratah at Gardens Oval on Saturday, with both sides looking to continue their promising starts to the season. The Buffs are top of the table after three rounds, proving a bunch of doubters wrong under new coach Cameron Stokes. Waratah’s only blemish thus far was dealt by Nightcliff, with the Warriors looking a much more settled side in season 2020/21.

The Buffs boss looks to have named himself in the side this week, only adding to the experience and class of Matt Campbell and Jarrod Stokes. Jalen Clarke has been in ripping form for the Double Blues, while the likes of Brodie Foster and Ishmael Palmer will once again look to team up for bags of goals up forward. Isaac Seden-Kurnoth is another to keep an eye on, as well as Ryan Pendlebury down back.

Tahs have had some consistent performers too, with skipper Brodie Carroll coming off a game-winning effort and the likes of Callum Searle down back, Abe Ankers through the middle, and the Collis boys making for an even team spread. Jake Sutton and Jae McGrath are also dangerous up forward, and will be sure to make up a heap of goals in response to Darwin’s potency.

Featured Image: Brodie Newman in action for Wanderers | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 3

NIGHTCLIFF and Darwin remain the only two undefeated sides after Round 3 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. The Tigers and Buffs once again proved too strong for their opponents, while St Mary’s finally got on the board in season 2020/21, leaving rival team Tiwi bottom of the ladder alongside Southern Districts. All that, and more from a super Saturday of footy in our weekend wrap.

ST MARY’S | 2.2 | 9.4 | 13.7 | 15.12 (102)
TIWI BOMBERS | 4.2 | 5.3 | 6.6 | 7.9 (51)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Paine 6, B. Tedcastle 3, J. Landt 2, T. Gilbert, N. Paredes, D. Landt, H. Williams
Tiwi: G. Turner 2, J. Tipiloura 2, K. Dunn, D. Munkara, B. Ngalkin

BEST:

St Mary’s: L. Taylor, T. Saunders, N. Paredes, J. Paine, J. Landt, J. Long
Tiwi: J. Tipiloura, M. Kantilla, D. Munkara, P. Heenan, H. Moloney

Third time proved a charm for St Mary’s, as the Saints kicked well clear of Tiwi to claim their maiden win of season 2020/21 to the tune of 51 points on Saturday afternoon. While the Bombers made a better start in the opening term, some key adjustments to stifle Tiwi’s run and transition play helped St Mary’s hit back with seven goals to one in the second term. It proved a match-defining period, with Tiwi unable to conjure the firepower required to blow down St Mary’s defensive wall. A 15.12 (102) to 7.9 (51) scoreline was the result at TIO Stadium.

Following on from a strong outing last week, Jackson Paine was among the goals this time out with a bag of six to lead the Saints’ scoring charge. Debutant and young gun Beau Tedcastle booted three in a promising showing, with fellow multiple goalkicker Jack Landt (two) featuring among the Saints’ best players. Lachlan Taylor was top of the tree though, followed closely by the likes of Nate Paredes and Tylah Saunders, while Jacob Long also continued his terrific form to start the season.

Gibson Turner and John Tipiloura were Tiwi’s only multiple goalkickers with two apiece, as milestone man Dion Munkara also found the big sticks. Another to do so was Baydon Ngalkin, as he and fellow fresh face Adam Sambono gave glimpses into what they may bring to the Bombers’ side. Matthew Kantilla was among the best behind Tipiloura, rounding out some solid contributors despite Tiwi’s third-consecutive loss of over 50 points.

DARWIN BUFFALOES | 4.6 | 8.12 | 10.13 | 13.17 (95)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES | 1.0 | 4.1 | 7.1 | 8.3 (51)

GOALS:

Darwin: J. Stokes 4, M. Campbell 2, J. Collinson, N. Lowden, R. Pendlebury, S. Ahmat, L. McKenzie, D. Kaipara, B. Foster
Palmerston: D. Stafford 4, C. Williams, N. Lockyer Jnr, R. Warfe, J. Berry

BEST:

Darwin: J. Stokes, I. Seden-Kurnoth, C. Wilson, J. Collinson, M. Campbell
Palmerston: E. Guthrie, M. Dennis, D. Stafford, C. Williams, M. Mcmasters, R. Armstrong

Darwin continues to storm out of the gates under new coach Cameron Stokes, most recently downing Palmerston by 44 points at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. The Double Blues looked in control throughout proceedings, forming an early lead after piling on 10 scoring shots to one in the opening term, before holding off a brief third term swoop from the Magpies and running out 13.17 (95) to 8.3 (51) victors. The result sees Darwin remain top of the Premier League standings with a perfect record, while Palmerston sits sixth at 1-2 after picking up a win in Round 2.

Having found the goals in his first two outings, Jarrod Stokes claimed best afield honours with a bag of four majors this time out, while Matt Campbell continued his two-goal streak to be Darwin’s only other multiple goalkicker. Up the other end, former Buffs bigman Daniel Stafford booted four majors in his first meeting against his former side, but it was hardly enough to carry the Magpies home. Elsewhere, Isaac Seden-Kurnoth keeps on impressing for Darwin, while Joey Collinson was again among the goals. Spearhead Brodie Foster was kept to just one goal, though a spread of nine individual goalkickers proved enough for the Buffs.

Along with Stafford, another former Darwin player in Chris Williams was again prominent for Palmerston as he found the big sticks from midfield. Big ruckman Matthew Dennis was also reliable as ever through the engine room, while Michaelis McMasters proved a repelling force from defence. Eric Guthrie was the man recognised as the Magpies’ most valuable player though, continuing his fine start to the season having been named in the best half-dozen players across each round thus far.

WANDERERS | 1.2 | 3.5 | 7.7 | 9.10 (64)
NIGHTCLIFF | 1.5 | 4.7 | 6.11 | 10.14 (74)

GOALS:

Wanderers: S. Bates 4, M. Mummery, D. McFarlane, M. Motlop, S. Mannagh, J. Cubillo
Nightcliff: K. Emery 5, R. Mu 2, B. Filo, C. Ilett, M. Bricknell

BEST:

Wanderers: M. Totham, B. Newman, S. Bates, S. Mannagh, D. McFarlane
Nightcliff: H. Drogemuller, B. Filo, M. Rivett, T. Boyd, C. Gikas, R. Mu

Season 2020/21 is proving business as usual for Nightcliff, after the reigning premiers knocked off another dangerous competitor in Wanderers under the Saturday night TIO Stadium lights. 10 points was the final margin of victory after the Tigers were made to endure a mighty scare, leading at the first two breaks but falling just behind at the last. As all good sides do, Nightcliff hit back with four goals to Wanderers’ two in the fourth quarter to claim a gutsy 10.14 (74) to 9.10 (64) victory.

Fresh off a six-goal haul last week, boom recruit Kyle Emery continued his fairytale homecoming with a bag of five to spearhead Nightcliff’s attack. Up-and-comer Ryan Mu booted two majors as the Tigers’ only other multiple goalkicker, while Simon Bates (four goals) was the lone Eagle to do so. Bigman Hugo Drogemuller earned praise for his solid role in Nightcliff’s win, in front of reigning Nichols Medallist Brodie Filo and outstanding import Tom Boyd. Another youngster in Christos Gikas was also named among the best.

While Bates headed Wanderers’ attacking efforts, it would have been pleasing for Muk Muks fans to see Michael Mummery get among the goals alongside Josh Cubillo and Dane McFarlane. VFL gun Shaun Mannagh also hit the scoreboard and featured among the best half-dozen players behind Calder Cannons graduate Brodie Newman. The solidly-built defender continues to go from strength to strength, but it was Marcus Totham who was named as Wanderers’ best player afield.

STH DISTRICTS | 4.1 | 8.4 | 9.7 | 10.8 (68)
WARATAH | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Districts: A. Boseley 3, J. Bell 2, B. Vallance 2, W. Farrer, L. Kiel, B. Rusca
Waratah: N/A

BEST:

Districts: B. Vallance, L. Kiel, J. Dahlhaus, C. McAdam, J. Bell
Waratah: N/A

A goal in the dying stages from Waratah skipper, Brodie Carroll helped the Warriors sneak home by two points in a thrilling encounter against Southern Districts on Saturday. On home turf at Norbuilt Oval, the Crocs were unable to hold onto their early lead in the second half, falling behind when it mattered and remaining winless despite the valiant effort. Waratah now improves to a positive record at 2-1, sitting pretty in third behind the two undefeated teams.

Bradley Vallance was named Districts’ best player for his two-goal effort, while Andrew Boseley booted three majors and former VFL gun Luke Kiel also found the big sticks while featuring among the best. Debutant Jay Dahlhaus, the cousin of Luke was also lively, impressing alongside fellow former Geelong Falcon, Jesse Clark. Speaking of debuts, Cam Wild made his for Warath, contributing well among an even team effort.

Featured Image: Darwin and Palmerston players fly for the ball | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 3

TWO rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action are down for season 2020/21, seeing the competition roll on into Round 3 this weekend. All four games are again set to be played on what shapes up as a super Saturday of football, headlined by a TIO Stadium triple-header. The first ball bounces down as St Mary’s takes on Tiwi, while Southern Districts is the only true host as it welcomes Waratah to Norbuilt Oval. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

St Mary’s vs. Tiwi Bombers
Saturday October 17, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi’s milestone men will hope to drag the Bombers off the bottom of the ladder when they face St Mary’s to open the round on Saturday afternoon. The two sides take to TIO Stadium with 0-2 records, as a mix of underperformance and stiff opposition has rendered them winless across the opening rounds. But that is all set to change come this weekend, barring a draw, as the two traditional rivals square off.

If their meetings from season 2019/20 are anything to go by, this bout should be a belter. Tiwi got the better of the Saints in the first two digs, but St Mary’s squared the ledger at 2-2 after solid wins in Round 17 and the qualifying final. The 37-goal Round 3 shootout was the most eye-catching result, making for sensational neutral viewing.

Tiwi 150-gamers Michael Dunn and Dion Munkara will hope all their flair and carry on the outer can propel the Bombers to victory. Fresh off a bag of goals, Harley Puruntatameri should also shine in that department, while prolific talent Adam Sambono is a chance to come into the side. Down back, Mason Dewit has been super on the rebound.

Under 18s wonderkid Beau Tedcastle looks set to make his senior debut for the Saints, a lively small forward who knows where the goals are. Former NAB Leaguer Jeremy Goddard is also poised to make his first Premier League appearance, and both should have terrific support in the form of mainstay figures Raphael Clarke, Nate Paredes, and Shaun Edwards, who have all been in good nick.

Southern Districts vs. Waratah
Saturday October 17, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

The winless Southern Districts will be out to halt its skidding start to the season when Waratah comes to town on Saturday, with the two sides set to face off at Norbuilt Oval. 0-2 after the opening pair of rounds, Districts will have some young talent come in to bolster their squad. Meanwhile, Waratah sits at 1-1 after last week’s tight loss to Nightcliff, with plenty of positives to take out of its first two outings in season 2020/21. The Warriors side looks much more settled than in their last campaign.

AFL Draft prospect Brodie Lake looms as a big in for the Crocs, with the 18-year-old fresh off a terrific SANFL season with Central District. He promises to add some grunt through midfield or run from defence, on top of the obvious class he possesses. After being named in the best half-dozen players last week, former Geelong Falcons co-captain Jesse Clark looks like being joined in the side by fellow NAB League graduate Jay Dahlhaus. The latter is the cousin of Geelong’s Luke, and is likely to play a similar small forward role.

Sticking with the theme set by their opponents, the Warriors are also set to unleash a former NAB League talent. Murray Bushrangers standout Cam Wild looks like entering the Premier League fold after knocking down the door in Division 1, having also spent time in South Australia with Central District. Tahs boast a pretty solid spine, with the likes of Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll holding down midfield, while Jae McGrath continues to spearhead the forwardline. Victorian Callum Searle has also proven a great addition in defence, giving Waratah balance on each line. It may prove too much for the Crocs to handle.

Darwin Buffaloes vs. Palmerston Magpies
Saturday October 17, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin will put its perfect record is on the line when it meets the ever-improving Palmerston on Saturday evening, the second game of a TIO Stadium triple-header. Under new coach Cameron Stokes, the Buffs are sitting pretty atop the Premier League table despite a heavy offseason turnover. Meanwhile, the Magpies have already matched their wins tally from last season after victory in Round 2, and look like providing the Double Blues with their toughest assignment to date.

Young utility Tyrrell Lui is fresh off his Rising Star nomination, having provided terrific rebound from defence thus far. He is joined once again in the back six by Sandy Brock, while Chris Williams will look to run the show once again from midfield. He is one of a few ex-Darwin players looking to impress against their former side, with big forward Daniel Stafford another who will be keen to find some form. He will be joined up forward by Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who has been finding the big sticks with ease having booted nine goals in two games.

But Darwin boasts some firepower of its own, with Brodie Foster continuing to set the competition alight. The goalsneak boasts 11 majors across his first two outings, and while Ishmael Palmer may not be there in support once again, Isaac Seden-Kurnoth looms as a major factor inside 50. The experienced Matt Campbell also looks to be in hot form, with Ryan Pendlebury another to settle the side in his defensive duties. Darwin’s mainstays have started the season emphatically and will fancy a third-consecutive win here, but should take nothing for granted against the rising Magpies.

Wanderers vs. Nightcliff
Saturday October 17, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Someone’s ‘0’ will go when undefeated sides Wanderers and Nightcliff do battle at TIO Stadium, making for an exciting finish to a big round of action. The Muk Muks have again started the season well, knocking off two 2019/20 finalists en route to taking on the formidable reigning premier. Nightcliff has been ticking along strongly, too, taking out a Grand Final rematch in Round 1 and managing to halt Waratah’s head of steam last time out with ruthless efficiency.

The returning Kyle Emery has added yet another dimension to the Tigers’ side, with his six-goal haul last week a warning shot for Wanderers defenders. Should 2019/20 Chaney Medal winner Trent Melville also take his spot in the side, this game looms as a must-watch. The likes of Cam Ilett and Daniel Bowles have been reliable as ever, while Phillip Wills is set to celebrate game 200. Victorian recruit Tom Boyd has been superb thus far, and the Tigers will hope former Calder Cannons standout, Daniel Mott can have a similar impact through midfield after strong Division 1 performances.

The Eagles are no slouches either though, with a bunch of high-end talent filling each line. Brett Eddy is fresh off a six-goal haul and has looked sharp up forward, while Braedon McLean has led steadily from defence. Newcomers Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman have given Wanderers an extra edge too, and Michael Mummery is one who could break the game open having gotten some game time under his belt last week. With a good amount of class scattered across either lineup, this should be a cracking contest.

Featured Image: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Premier League season preview

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season is set to bounce down tonight, as Waratah takes on Palmerston at Gardens Oval. After an off-season which saw the points and fly-in rules adjusted, but a raft of players putting pen to paper across all eight clubs, this year’s instalment promises to raise plenty of intrigue and produce even more quality.

In our club-by-club season preview, we take a look at how each side may stack up for the upcoming campaign, touching on the potential new signings and important factors for each team, while also serving a reminder of where they each left off.

CLUB-BY-CLUB:

Darwin:

2019/20 finish: 5th, 10-8 – lost elimination final to Southern Districts by 71
Round 1 fixture: vs. Tiwi Bombers @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

After an up and down 2019/20 season, the Darwin Buffaloes will hope to hold onto the finals place it managed to secure last time out. The Double Blues stormed out of the gates, but struggled to find the required consistency later in the season and exited the finals with barely a whimper against Southern Districts.

Consistency may well be a difficult feat to manage once again, with a coaching change and max exodus of players putting the Buffs in a tough position. While interstaters Brodie Foster and Ryan Pendlebury have recommitted, with outgoing coach Matt Campbell also set to remain onboard in a playing capacity, Darwin has lost a series of big names. New coach Cameron Stokes will have to plug gaps left by last year’s leading goalkicker Daniel Stafford, best and fairest winner Chris Williams, and utility Zak Stephenson, who have all switched to Palmerston.

Exciting goalkickers Brayden Culhane (Wanderers) and Adam Sambono (Tiwi) have also moved through the exit door, leaving a big shoes for new recruits to fill. Much will also be expected of young gun Antonio James, who is fresh off a starring South Australian school football season with Westminster. Fellow youngster Isaac Seden-Kurnoth will also garner plenty of attention, providing the green shoots Darwin may be after during a transitional period along with Ishmael Palmer and Tim Eldridge.

Nightcliff:

2019/20 finish: 1st, 17-1 – won Grand Final over St Mary’s by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. St Mary’s @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

Nightcliff begins its back-to-back premiership defence with a 2019/20 Grand Final rematch against St Mary’s, which should serve as a good measuring stick for the Tigers’ motivation and team cohesion after another big off-season. Premiership hero Trent Melville may have played his final NTFL game in last year’s decider, but the reigning premiers have a bunch of regulars and new recruits to cover any potential losses.

The Tigers’ notoriously deep pockets have lured a number of big-name VFL players, along with a host of Victorians from prominent local/regional leagues, and even the NAB League. Fresh off a strong WAFL season with Claremont which could yet end in premiership glory, Nightcliff junior Ryan Nyhuis would prove the cherry on top of the Tigers’ numerous recruits, along with former Palmerston gun, Kyle Emery.

Homegrown talent remains too, with the likes of Ryan Mu, and Liam Holt-Fitz enjoying steep rises, while Cam Ilett goes around for his 21st season, and Nichols Medalist Brodie Filo lines up once again. It is hard to see the Tigers falling off given the scary depth they possess once again, and it should be a cracking season for fans of the yellow and black.

Palmerston:

2019/20 finish: 8th, 1-17
Round 1 fixture: vs. Waratah @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

Alwyn Davey‘s Palmerston outfit is poised to bounce back strongly from a season which saw them finish last in 2019/20. Strong inter-league recruiting sees them well placed to potentially make a run for finals, with the back-end of the competition evening up this year. A trio of Buffaloes; Daniel Stafford, Chris Williams, and Zak Stephenson should add to the Magpies’ spine, along with returning junior Tyrrell Lui.

Young talent should be in good shape too, with Lui joined by Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Sandy Brock as pillars up either end, while Jonty Patrick returns from SANFL Under 18s duties with Central Districts. The Davey family connection of Alwyn, Russell, and potentially Aaron adds experience, along with mainstay ruckman Matthew Dennis, who has recommitted to the Magpies. That’s not to mention Alywn’s twin sons, who should also run through the Premier League side.

A steady start against Waratah in the season opener should put them in good stead, serving as a decent test of where the side will be at in 2020/21.

Southern Districts:

2019/20 finish: 3rd (4th), 10-7-1 – lost preliminary final to Nightcliff by 37
Round 1 fixture: vs. Wanderers @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Southern Districts will hope the momentum of a spirited finals charge will carry on into season 2020/21, with quite a steady squad remaining in tact for Matt Cannard‘s first year at the helm. Other sides may fancy themselves to move past the Crocs given their relatively quiet off-season, though a strong core and some handy fly-ins should keep Districts within the finals hunt.

The news of Josiah Farrer‘s ACL tear is a big blow to the Crocs’ premiership hopes, though Will Farrer remains as a goalkicking midfielder, while Charlie McAdam and Dean Staunton are other mainstays who can steady the ship. Young outside bolter Brandon Rusca looked primed for a big year after spending some time with the Gold Coast SUNS, while Brodie Lake may sneak some game time in before the AFL Draft. Fellow youngsters Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus have also moved up from Victoria, with Clark a solid defender who captained the Geelong Falcons last year, while Dahlhaus is cut from the same cloth as cousin, Luke.

With a couple more relocating coups, Southern Districts should be able to enjoy some good form throughout the year. Having made a name as one of the competition’s premier teams across the last few years, the Crocs will be hungry not to fall out of the leading pack.

St Mary’s:

2019/20 finish: 2nd, 14-4 – lost Grand Final to Nightcliff by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Nightcliff @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

After a heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to go one-better in season 2020/21 after staying busy in the off-season. A number of big names remain, including Shaun Edwards, Jackson Calder, and Jackson Paine, and Nate Paredes, with Raphael Clarke also set to feature. Ben Long will be a handy addition once his WAFL campaign ends, while returning stars Ross Tungatalum and Anthony Davis promise to add a new dimension to the Saints’ side. Will Hams is another experienced head set to enter the fold, boasting AFL experience.

Add to that recruits of former VFL, NAB League, and Geelong Football League players, and St Mary’s should again prove to be a force in this year’s competition. The recommitment of many stars who helped the club climb off a bottom-place finish in 2018/19 is great to see, with the depth of the squad now right up there with Nightcliff ahead of what should be an exciting season for Saints fans. Having come from a long way back last year, they should start right at the forefront, especially if they can knock the Tigers off in Round 1.

Tiwi Bombers:

2019/20 finish: 4th (3rd), 11-7 – lost semi final to Southern Districts by 40
Round 1 fixture: vs. Darwin @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

One of last year’s most exciting teams, the Tiwi Bombers will be out to make good on their straight-sets finals exit in 2019/20, starting with a Round 1 grudge match against Darwin. The Bombers have added some handy interstate quality, while also managing to secure the services of prolific goalkicker Adam Sambono from the Buffaloes. A major out, though, will be former AFL midfielder Nathan Djerrkura, who moves to Wanderers.

The Bombers’ speed and ease of transition will again put them in good stead this year, with the likes of Harley Puruntatameri and Henry Kerinaiua running the lines, while Jeffrey Simon adds class through the middle or up either end. Tiwi’s mainstays are always important too, and should help secure their side a finals spot once again in 2020/21, but it’ll be tight. Fans will also hope to see a bit more of Cyril Rioli too, after his successful cameo last time around.

Wanderers:

2019/20 finish: 7th 3-14-1
Round 1 fixture: vs. Southern Districts @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Wanderers will look to address and improve on a massive drop-off in form towards the end of last season, as the Muk Muks begin a fresh campaign against Southern Districts tomorrow night. The Eagles’ stocks see them primed for a finals tilt, with the likes of Nathan Djerrkura and Brayden Culhane coming in from rival clubs, while Josh Cubillo and Marlon Motlop are set to feature more prominently as Jonas Niki and Clifford Jamahl make their returns.

In terms of interstate recruits, the Eagles have also dipped into the Victorian pool with a mix of experienced and young players entering the fold, set to line up as soon as in Round 1. The Eagles also lay claim to 2019/20 Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell, who formed a strong midfield partnership with Braedon McLean, but the hole Joel Jeffrey will leave come AFL Draft time is a big one to fill.

Still, the Muk Muks will fancy themselves to improve greatly after showing some great promise early last year, and face a very good test first up against the Crocs.

Waratah:

2019/20 finish: 6th 5-13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Palmerston @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

After an inconsistent season saw them finish best of the rest in sixth, the Warriors have plenty to prove in their 2020/21 campaign. Along with Nightcliff, Waratah has been one of the busiest clubs during the off-season, luring a mass amount of players from all kinds of leagues and levels in Victoria. Young key forward Ned Stevens also returns as a big coup, taking some of the goalkicking pressure of zippy midfielder/forward Kim Kantilla.

The likes of state leaguers Brodie Carroll and Callum Searle also line up for the Warriors, with Jae McGrath another important player to commit to the cause. As usual, Abe Ankers will be the key man, and all involved will hope he can run out more frequently this time around. Expectations will be high for a healthy rise this season considering Waratah’s various coups, but making the next step is always tough, especially with others improving around them.

Featured Image: Nightcliff celebrates its 2019/20 premiership | Credit: AFLNT

Classic Contests: Devils take Falcons down to the wire

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 16 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Tasmania Devils and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind the clock back almost a year to August 2019, when the two sides produced a thriller on the Apple Isle.

2019 NAB League, Round 16
Saturday August 3, 11:30am
North Hobart Oval

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.4 | 2.5 | 4.11 | 6.13 (49)
GEELONG FALCONS 3.1 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS:

Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Rand, P. Walker, J. Callow, J. Menzie.
Geelong:
C. Sprague 3, M. Annandale 2, C. Seymour, J. Clark, J. Dahlhaus.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Davis, J. Rand, S. Banks, O. Shaw, J. Lane
Geelong:
O. Henry, C. Sprague, C. Fleeton, J. Clark, N. Gribble, H. Whyte

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matt McGuinness 
Geelong: 
Nil

The NAB League’s bottom two full-time sides – Tasmania and Geelong – went to battle in Round 16 last year, looking to restore some pride before the regular season drew to a close. Both were on significant losing streaks, with the Devils slumping to 4-10 on the back of six-straight losses, only to be trumped in that department by the young Falcons, who had lost in eight consecutive outings to sit at 1-11-1 in the wooden spoon position.

While neither region produced, or fielded much in the way of eventual draftees in late-2019, the bottom-age talent was there for all to see. The likes of Oliver Henry and Cameron Fleeton headlined Geelong’s talented 2021-eligible fleet, while Tasmania’s academy guns included the likes of Oliver Davis and Jackson Callow, with recently crowned Under 16 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Sam Banks also slotting into the line-up at North Hobart Oval.

>>> MARQUEE MATCHUP: JACKSON CALLOW VS. CAMERON FLEETON

Keen to make their trip across Bass Strait a fruitful one, Geelong clawed its way back after conceding the first two goals of the game to earn a five-point quarter time lead. In impressive form, the Falcons extended the buffer to 17 points at the main break on the back of two unanswered goals, taking full advantage of the slightly advantageous scoring end.

It took a string of four behinds after half-time for the Devils to post their first major in over 45 minutes of play, with the home side threatening to break back at Geelong. But despite Jordan Lane slotting home a second major for the term, Tasmania could not quite take full toll on the scoreboard, still trailing by a solitary point heading into the final period, despite keeping Geelong goalless.

The Falcons had made a bad habit of letting winnable games slip late, and another fadeaway loomed when Jack Rand put the Devils ahead with six minutes on the clock. With the scores tied up for a third time in the fourth quarter via Max Annandale‘s boot, it was left to Chris Seymour to put through the decisive goal and ensure Geelong would head back to Victoria with the four points.

Having swung into defence, Henry led all-comers with 24 disposals and 11 marks, partnering well with Fleeton (21 disposals) as skipper Jesse Clark (21 disposals, one goal) made the move further afield. Up forward, Charlie Sprague sunk three majors to play a big role, while Jay Dahlhaus also found the big sticks in his return from a long-term injury. Davis was best afield for Tasmania with a team-high 23 touches, followed closely by future North Melbourne rookie, Matt McGuinness. Lane was the lone Devil to boot multiple goals (two).

Tasmania would go on to finish just two points clear of Geelong with a 4-11 record, before going down narrowly to Calder in Wildcard Round. Mitch O’Neill joined McGuinness as the two Tasmanian products to find a home at AFL level in 2019. Geelong added to its second win in the ultimate round to finish 3-11-1, but were thumped by Sandringham in Wildcard Round to end a disappointing season. Co-captain Cooper Stephens was the sole Falcon to be drafted.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Country Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro squad predictions and today we take a look at Vic Country’s potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old inclusions are limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that injured players will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the second squad prediction, with Vic Country’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Clayton Gay (Dandenong), Zach Reid (Gippsland), Cam Fleeton (Geelong)
HB – Nick Stevens (GWV), Ethan Baxter (Murray), Isaac Wareham (GWV)

There is a good mix of styles and talent among this back six, with some height, power, dash, and clean ball use all to come from these potential representatives. Versatile 202cm tall Zach Reid seems a lock for full back, able to also double as ruck aid.

Leadership candidate Cam Fleeton and Dandenong standout Clayton Gay provide sound reading of the play and aerial presence on the last line, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) pair Nick Stevens and Isaac Wareham are solid options off half-back. 19-year-old Wareham has already donned the Big V at under 18 level, but may earn another chance given injury curtailed his top-age season.

Ethan Baxter is the final member of the defence, a solidly-built Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) product who is a touch undersized (192cm) to play as a pure key defender, but makes up for it with strength. He could be utilised elsewhere, but we see him fulfilling a role down back.

MIDFIELD

C – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland), Tanner Bruhn (Geelong), Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo)
FOL – Henry Walsh (Geelong), Sam Berry (Gippsland), Zavier Maher (Murray)

Zavier Maher may be the tallest of the Vic Country mids here at 184cm, but by no means will the chosen crop lack power or ball winning ability. Maher, Sam Berry, and Tanner Bruhn are all terrific at the centre bounces, with Maher and Berry the powerful types, while Bruhn is all class in congestion.

Berry can run all day, too, much like Bendigo’s Jack Ginnivan on the outside. Ginnivan could also find a spot up forward like fellow wingman, Ryan Angwin, but the pair have really come on of late and should have no trouble in making an impact further afield.

Of course, Henry Walsh will likely be the one to provide first use to his midfield fleet as the primary ruck. The brother of Carlton Rising Star, Sam is quite apt at the centre bounces with his 201cm frame and is constantly working on his ground level work.

FORWARD

HF – Noah Gadsby (Geelong), Oliver Henry (Geelong), Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo)
FF – Dominic Bedendo (Murray), Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh), Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong)

This is hardly a forward six blessed with height or overwhelming strength, but that is not to say that it lacks marking power. Much like Baxter in defence, the high-flying Oliver Henry could play above his size as a focal point, though may be better suited to a third tall role. Highly touted Bulldogs NGA prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is unbeatable off the lead at full forward, so is a lock for that spot.

Alongside him may be Dominic Bedendo, a fantastic athletic talent who can compete both in the air and at ground level, while Charlie Lazzaro occupies the other pocket. He is arguably predominantly more a midfielder, but has been adding strings to his bow as a small forward.

On the flanks, his Geelong teammate Noah Gadsby also slots in as a newcomer to the forward line, while raw Bendigo product Seamus Mitchell assumes a role familiar to him on the same line. The largely small make-up of this six is somewhat a product of the guidelines we put in place, as there are a few key position products across each age bracket who could easily add some height and strength to the structure.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Sam Conforti (Bendigo), Will Bravo (Dandenong), Bayleigh Welsh (Dandenong), Blake Kuipers (Dandenong)

Filling out the side are some versatile options, with most of these prospects able to be utilised in many roles. Sam Conforti skippered the Under 16 Country side, and could well slot in as a small forward or wingman in this lineup. Dandenong’s Will Bravo is an exciting player who should also get a run up forward, providing a touch of speed and evasion while also being able to contribute in midfield.

Two more Stingrays cap off the side, with Bayleigh Welsh a midfielder the Dandenong program is high on, while athletic over-age swingman Blake Kuipers could be one to again sneak into the team as key position or ruck depth.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

Given this may be the only chance for draft-eligible top-agers to shine in front of recruiters in 2020, there will be plenty who come onto the radar of AFL clubs. Elijah Hollands and Noah Gribble are two who would have featured in the team, but unfortunately miss out due to long-term knee injuries.

Academy prospect Josh Treacy is a key forward who could well fit into the squad having gained experience for Country at Under 17 level, with fellow tall options Mason Hawkins and Keith Robinson of Gippsland others who can fill that forward/ruck role.

In terms of smalls, classy Geelong co-captain Gennaro Bove may be in the mix, while nippy GWV forward Harry Sharp has also caught the eye alongside another Falcon, Blake Reid. Other options from the Geelong region include Charlie Brauer – another outstanding athlete – and Kyle Skene.

Speaking of athletes, Bendigo is high on elite runner Jack Hickman and could also see the likes of ex-Rebel Jack Tillig or Finn Ellis-Castle push into contention. Dandenong has a couple of products around the mark too, with Deakyn Smith and Jai Neal both likely to be considered.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Last year’s Under 16 side may not have produced pure results-based success, but there are a few fantastic prospects who should push into contention. Leading the pack is last year’s carnival MVP Josh Rachele, a damaging midfielder/forward who is incredibly skilled.

Ben Hobbs was his partner-in-crime through midfield and should also get a crack as one of many high-end GWV up-and-comers. Those include Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch, and Josh Gibcus, with the former two already boasting NAB League experience.

Fleet-footed Sandringham prospect Campbell Chesser was another to impress enough to break into the NAB League, while fellow Under 16 All Australians Toby Conway and Cooper Hamilton are also within the Academy bubble.

Given the focus will even more strictly be placed on draft eligible players, the likes of Ben Green, Connor Macdonald, Tom Brown, Justin Davies and so on will likely have to wait until next year to break into the Under-18 representative side.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-age seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

19-YEAR-OLDS

Possibly the most unlucky over-ager to miss out on our squads is Geelong’s Darcy Chirgwin, who was set to return to his original region after representing Sandringham in his draft year. After injury heavily interrupted his 2019 campaign, he should come into consideration once again.

Geelong teammate Jay Dahlhaus also suffered a long-term injury last year but should be back for more, while Murray prospect Sam Durham has shown a good rate of improvement as a latecomer to the code. Jai Newcombe is somewhat of a bolter having only now made the final cut at Gippsland, and could provide that inside presence with Chirgwin given he is yet to capture centre stage.

The two 19-year-olds we chose for both squads, Kuipers and Wareham, come into the category of players with great upside. Kuipers’ height and athleticism make him a handy option to fill gaps up either end or in the ruck, and his phenomenal testing performance puts him in good stead. Wareham is a solid athlete who will more so be looking for consistency after his top-age campaign last year.

With these additional top, bottom, and over-age prospects in mind, below is our potential best Vic Country squad without any provisions.

FB – Clayton Gay, Zach Reid, Cameron Fleeton
HB – Nick Stevens, Blake Kuipers, Ethan Baxter
C – Ryan Angwin, Tanner Bruhn, Jack Ginnivan
HF – Noah Gadsby, Oliver Henry, Seamus Mitchell
FF – Charlie Lazzaro, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Josh Rachele
FOL – Henry Walsh, Sam Berry, Zavier Maher
INT
– Will Bravo, Dominic Bedendo, Ben Hobbs, Isaac Wareham

Classic Contests: Rebels come from behind to down Falcons in one-point thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, when the sides took to the field at MARS Stadium and had a number of exciting prospects make it an even contest.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.8 | 5.10 | 8.16 (64)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 4.3 | 9.6 | 9.9 (63)

Round 2 | Sunday, March 31, 2019
MARS Stadium, 1pm

In recent years, Geelong Falcons have had the wood over GWV Rebels, particularly when at full strength, but given the game was at MARS Stadium and the teams were considered pretty even, many attending the game hoped it would live up to expectations. The first half certainly suggested that might be the case and the two eventual top-age draftees in Cooper Stephens and Jay Rantall showed just why they were so highly rated with some terrific performances. For Rantall it was just his second game, while for Stephens it would be his last full game before breaking his leg a week later.

After the Rebels missed a few chances in the first term, Geelong’s Chas Karpala was the first on the board for the match, handing his side an early four-point advantage 14 minutes into the contest. Isaac Wareham quickly responded for the Rebels to get the home side started, before Harry Stubbings again handed his side the lead in the last few minutes for the visitors to head into half-time with a narrow five-point advantage. Inaccuracy was troubling the Rebels with both side booting two goals in the second term, but the Rebels also booting five behinds in the blustery conditions. Rantall broke the ice in the seventh minute mark for the fifth lead change of the match, but Mitchell Langan again found a response for the Falcons, booting back-to-back goals to open up the largest lead of the game – nine points. A late major to James Cleaver who was being tested forward after playing as a defender in his top-age year brought the Rebels to within a point at the main break.

The Falcons put the foot down after half-time thanks to the likes of Stephens, Charlie Lazzaro and Keidan Rayner, whilst Charlie Sprague was having an influence further up the ground in midfield. Max Annandale, Karpala and Jay Dahlhaus – cousin of Luke – all had majors within 10 minutes of time in the third term and opened up a very comfortable 27-point lead. Darcy McEldrew went forward and kicked a crucial major, which was followed up by a goal to clever forward, Izaac Grant before Stephens steadied his side to push the margin back out to 20 at the end of the third term. Little did Falcons fans know, this would be the last major of the game as the Rebels clicked into gear in the final term – not without further inaccuracy – to boot 3.6 to 0.3 and run over the top of Geelong.

Four consecutive behinds for the Rebels in the opening seven minutes threatened to derail the comeback for the home side, before Cleaver’s second released the pressure valve a couple of minutes later. When Mitch Martin kicked truly five minutes later, the margin was less than a kick and it was well and truly game on. Sprague missed a chance midway through the term for the Falcons, as did the Rebels before McEldrew became the saviour in the dying minutes. He converted a goal with a couple of minutes left on the clock to hand his side the lead. A late behind to Charlie Harris brought the margin back to one with 15 seconds on the clock, but the Rebels were able to hold on for a memorable win.

Rantall finished the game as the clear best on ground, racking up 24 touches (15 contested), three marks, six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal in what showed off his elite endurance and burst speed. Fellow Vic Country member, Liam Herbert had 20 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds, while Cooper Craig-Peters (19 disposals (17 contested), eight tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, and Cleaver (17 disposals – 13 contested – two tackles, three inside 50s and two goals) thrived in the less-than-ideal conditions. Riley Polkinghorne worked hard from defence with seven rebounds to go with 15 touches, while Toby Mahony (12 disposals, four clearances), Harry Sharp (15 disposals, four inside 50s and four rebounds) and Connor Hinkley (16 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) all impressed for the Rebels.

Stephens was the standout for the Falcons in midfield alongside Lazzaro, with the pair combining for 54 disposals, seven tackles, nine clearances, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Rayner racked up 10 rebounds from 25 touches and three inside 50s, while Sprague was equally influential at half-forward thanks to 23 touches and seven inside 50s. Noah Gribble (21 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s) was prominent, while Stephens’ fellow AFL Academy top-age teammate Jesse Clark racked up nine rebounds and 16 disposals,

Neither side would go on to have great seasons, with the Falcons winning just three games and drawing another from 16 outings to finish in the bottom of the table with a heavy Wildcard Round loss to Sandringham Dragons, while GWV Rebels also bowed out at the Wildcard Round stage following a defeat to Western Jets at Box Hill after winning six games throughout the season.

2020 NAB League Boys team preview: Geelong Falcons

SILVER linings often prove golden for talent managers among the nation’s elite talent pathways, but Geelong’s Mick Turner has seldom had to search for them across over 25 years in the job. That somewhat changed in 2019 as the Falcons endured a lacklustre season on-field and produced their lowest draft haul since the proud program’s inception (one), with co-captain Cooper Stephens picked up in the first round by the region’s AFL club.

Aside from boasting yet another first round pick in Stephens, the silver lining in the Falcons’ “out of the blue” year was being able to accelerate the development of a number of bottom-age prospects who will now lead the club in their 18th year. On the back of a solid pre-season, Turner is optimistic his squad will be able to make marked improvements on last year’s output.

“It’s been a pretty good preseason for us, this is the culmination for it with the Rookie Me testing for the AFL,” Turner told Draft Central at the Rookie Me pre-season testing day. “We believe we have a very good squad this year in terms of team and individuals for the draft and hopefully the boys test well.”

“Over the years we’ve been probably the most successful club in Australia at getting players drafted and players on AFL lists – I think last year we had 45 players on AFL and I checked most weeks we’ve got 30 to 35 playing AFL seniors so, we’re pretty happy about that. “Last year was a bit one out of the blue, we had a very frustrating year. “Cooper Stephens got injured, he broke his leg early in the season, Jay Dahlhaus who is really important for us got injured and Tanner Bruhn had a knee operation. “We won three games and then we had a draw, a point loss, a two-point loss, a four-point loss, a seven-point loss – if one of those players played we could have won seven or eight more games.”

“We made a concerted effort at the end of the year to play (16 and 17-year-olds) and I think in the last game against Sandy in the Wildcard Round they beat us by 15 goals but when we looked at it, we had 20 players that would be here in 2020 and I think Sandringham had two. “So you can only play who you can play but we’ve put a lot of work into this group and we think potentially they are a very good group. “Five games in the end in NAB League is probably worth 50 to an AFL player so hopefully that gives us some benefit going into the season and we think that experience has been good for the players.”

Of the 30 players selected in this year’s Vic Country Hub, eight hail from the Falcons’ program. But akin to the cases of Metro powerhouses Oakleigh and Sandringham, Geelong will have to maintain a busy schedule for many of its top-end prospects who will juggle commitments between school, NAB League, and representative football programs. Buoyed by the extended talent of the squad past those selected in the Country hub, Turner highlighted the beginning and end of the NAB League season as key periods for draft hopefuls.

“When the hub’s done they can only pick 30 to start and we’ve got eight in which is a lot… I would have thought 15 to 16 that would get in, there’s boys outside the hub that are as good as a lot of the players inside the hub for us,” Turner said. “We’ve got a list of 60 because we have a lot of player movement within the NAB League, a lot of our boys go to Geelong Grammar and Geelong College, and we’ve got other boys at Christian College and St Joey’s which are our big feeder schools that have ACC commitments with football.

“What’s important at our level is in terms of the draft, when NAB clubs are at their full strength at the start of the year, that’s when boys have really got to put their hand up and play well. “It gets diluted a bit during the year, but if you’re picked for the national championships you’ve got to do well and then at the end of the year when the private school football finishes, that’s when you’ve got to be really putting your stamp on it again to give yourself a chance to reach your dream to be drafted or rookied to an AFL club.”

Player movement and continuity have long been priorities in terms of maintenance for talent managers with their top-aged players, and a bunch of 19-year-olds should be able to provide aid advice-wise to those coming into their draft year. In particular, former Sandringham representative Darcy Chirgwin will be at the top of the list having juggled commitments between the Dragons and a Melbourne Grammar scholarship last year, while also recovering from a spate of injuries.

“Darcy was with us as a 16-year-old and got a scholarship to Melbourne Grammar which was good for him school-wise and academically,” Turner said. “I rate Darcy, he’s a really great player. “When he first came to us this year his conditioning and strength were down a bit compared to our other players but our high performance staff have put a lot of work into him. “He’s with Geelong (VFL) so when he’s picked in the VFL, he will play for Geelong and when he’s not picked for VFL he will come back and play for us. “Hopefully we can get that balance right.”

Chirgwin adds to a talented engine room already boasting the likes of Bruhn and Charlie Lazzaro, but it is an unusually tall squad which is set to take the field for Geelong this season. Henry Walsh, Oliver Henry, and Cameron Fleeton, are all key position types who have already impressed, but Turner is still bullish on his midfielders, too.

“(It’s) probably the tallest team we’ve ever had,” Turner said. “I think we’re pretty balanced right across the board, we’ve got some really good players down back and we’ve got a really good midfield. “Charlie Lazzaro and players like that are in the hub, Darcy Parish‘s brother Indy who is only 17, and we’ve got some really quality forwards if we can get them all on the field.”

“When the team’s at full strength, we’ll play them in the their best positions. “Indy Parish for example won’t play midfield in our first round, but he’ll hopefully be in the side and maybe play forward. “When those older players, Lazzaro and (Gennaro) Bove move out of the midfield, he’ll come in and have his midfield role and get that experience. That goes across the board to all of our players.”

Given the wealth of talent available, Turner believes this will be one of the Falcons’ more fruitful years come draft time. But with a long way to go until then, he hopes they can just get a decent run at it.

“We’re just looking forward to the year, we hope we have a bit of luck with injury… so the players can show what they do but we’re pretty excited about the group. “Potentially we think it’s one of the better groups we’ve had, but the word is potentially – it’s still got to happen, they’ve still got to perform.”