Tag: jay rantall

Rocci revels in Morrish Medal surprise

IN a field boasting the likes of Ryan Byrnes, Jay Rantall, and Mitch Mellis – all of whom had both played representative football and received combine invites this year – Western Jets skipper Lucas Rocci came through to become his side’s first ever Morrish Medal winner.

It was a surprise to the Western mainstay, who enjoyed a stellar mid-year run to finish the regular season averaging 18.9 disposals, 4.1 marks, 4.1 tackles and 5.1 rebound 50s, and earn a Team of the Year nod to boot.

“(I came in) definitely not expecting to win,” Rocci said post-ceremony.

“I thought I’d make the Team of the Year but I just didn’t expect to have the Morrish Medal around my neck really… this is a big deal to me, winning this medal.”

“It’s a privilege really to know that I’m on the same page as (previous winners Liam Stocker, Hugh McCluggage, and Clayton Oliver) to see them running around today in the AFL, just watching how they play sometimes you learn from them – how they play and how they go about it.”

While his damaging left foot and ability to accumulate became key to his finals-bound Jets’ cause, Rocci maintains it is his willingness to take on the opposition’s best players in his defensive post that gives him a competitive edge.

“I’m a competitor, so I enjoy playing on people who enjoy being a competitor and enjoy the physicality of a match-up… (the move to defence) was definitely one of the reasons for that purple patch through the year,” he said.

“I started off slow and moved around a little bit on the field… then Ryan (O’Keefe) our coach put me back to the half-back line and it all just kicked off from there and just felt natural down there.”

“Ryan’s been amazing, when I talk to him he’s so invested in your game style… he put me down (back) and put all his faith in me so I returned the favour.”

Putting his hand up for the toughest tasks each week is something Rocci says comes naturally in his position of leadership, and that theme is set to continue heading into finals as Rocci again readies to again face Northern, who boast a player Rocci says has been his toughest match-up yet.

“Josh D’Intinosante from Northern, who I’ve played on a couple of times, you can never get a handle on him so he’s definitely a very good player.

“As it comes, (in the) backline we go shape and size so if I come up against him, I come up against him but I’m not going to sit myself on him… if he starts getting damaging I’ll go to him, but if not I’ll just play my normal role and go from there,” he said.

As was the case in Rocci’s individual season, Western’s year has undergone its ebbs and flows, with the Jets snapping a late-season skid to slip into finals on the back of an impressive win only yesterday against Greater Western Victoria. Rocci says the belief is back, putting them in good stead for an all-Metro finals clash.

“We’ve come off a couple of games at the end of the season, a couple of smashings so it’s good to gain some momentum today and we started playing as a team again – we put some belief back in the team,” he said.

“(During the week) now it’s just getting around everyone and making sure that everyone’s up and about at training sessions and 100 per cent on the ball, ready to go.”

It was a fruitful awards night for the Jets as spearhead forward Archi Manton – son of Glenn – claimed the NAB League leading goalkicker award, with Rocci lauding his presence up the other end throughout the year.

“When I can I get it (forward) and sit it on top of his head because he’s such a strong guy and he just moves his opponent out of the way and takes those big marks to finish it off really well,” he said.

With the season coming to its pointy end, Rocci and his fellow draft hopefuls will begin to look towards what the future holds. Despite missing Vic Metro selection and combine invites, Rocci says his eye is still very much set on getting to the next level.

“(Getting drafted), that’s everyone’s dream, it’d be a dream come true to get there but we’ll just wait and see.”

Rocci claims Morrish Medal

WESTERN Jets captain Lucas Rocci made history, becoming the first ever Western Jets’ Morrish Medallist after taking out the award in 2019 polling 17 votes. Rocci won the count by three votes from Sandringham Dragons’ skipper Ryan Byrnes, with Calder Cannons’ Ned Gentile, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Jay Rantall and Eastern Ranges’ Mitch Mellis just behind on 13.

Rocci lead throughout the count, holding a one-vote lead at the 10-round update over Gold Coast SUNS Academy member Hewago Paul Oea – who had only played five games but still polled 11 votes – and Byrnes. He maintained the lead by Round 14, sitting on 17 votes, four clear of Byrnes, with Murray Bushrangers’ Jye Chalcraft and Mellis’ seven votes behind on 10. While Rocci did not poll a vote in the final three rounds, he lead by enough to consolidate the win.

In season 2019, Rocci averaged 18.9 disposals, 4.3 marks, 3.8 tackles and 5.1 rebounds per game, stepping up as a crucial player in Western’s defensive back six. His averages across the board lifted, and while he missed out on Vic Metro selection in 2019, proved that his form never wavered by earning the NAB League Boys’ highest honour.

Club-by-club voting top vote-getters:

Bendigo Pioneers = Thomson Dow 6
Brisbane Lions = Bruce Reville 5
Calder Cannons = Ned Gentile 13
Dandenong Stingrays = Hayden Young 7
Eastern Ranges = Mitch Mellis 13
Geelong Falcons = Keidan Rayner 6
Gold Coast SUNS = Hewago Paul Oea 11
GWS GIANTS = Tom Green 7
Gippsland Power = Riley Baldi = 9
GWV Rebels = Jay Rantall = 13
Murray Bushrangers = Jye Chalcraft 10
Northern Knights = Josh D’Intinosante 9
Northern Territory – Stephen Cumming 3
Oakleigh Chargers = Matt Rowell 12
Sandringham Dragons = Ryan Byrnes 14
Sydney Swans = Kyle Martin 6
Tasmania Devils = Oliver Davis 8
Western Jets = Lucas Rocci 17

2019 NAB League Boys Team of the Year announced

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

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

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

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

Nominees per team:

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

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

IT is a big round of NAB League boys action this weekend, with the Wildcard Round getting underway at Preston, Craigieburn and Box Hill across two big days. There is no turning back for the losers, so for five teams, it is curtains on season 2019, while five others live to fight another day.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday August 24, 11.45am
Preston City Oval

There was always going to be one of the highly-rated top four sides drop out of the automatic finals qualification places and in this case it was Sandringham who finished fifth and face a Wildcard Round elimination final. They meet 2019 Wooden Spooners, Geelong Falcons in the repeat of the 2017 TAC Cup Grand Final. Geelong has had its most disappointing year for some time on wins alone, but outside the win-loss ratio, the Falcons are a much better side than meets the eye. Their last quarter fadeouts have cost them on a number of occasions and the majority of their developing talent are bottom-agers. Not to dissimilar to Eastern Ranges this year, the core of the Geelong midfield will still have a year to go in the system and should be better heading into next year. Coupled with the bottom-agers is overager Charlie Sprague who has been on a goal-scoring spree over the past five rounds, piling on 18 goals in that time – including six last round against Dandenong Stingrays. He comes up against an in-form Corey Watts who, along with the likes of Jackson Voss and forward-turned-defender Charlie Dean will not make it easy for Sprague. Oliver Henry and Charlie Lazzaro provide strong support for Sprague inside 50, with Lazzaro rotating with Tanner Bruhn and Noah Gribble through the midfield. Sandringham’s midfield is star-studded and will take full advantage of their greater experience, with Darcy Chirgwin, Finn Maginness and Ryan Byrnes in the top three midfields of the competition. If the midfield gets on top, then the forwards of Fischer McAsey and Kyle Yorke could have a field day, especially with Miles Bergman, Hugo Ralphsmith and Jake Bowey named in the forward line and who are all capable of picking up midfield minutes. Jesse Clark looms as Geelong’s most important player to try and halt the Sandringham attack, while Cameron Fleeton returns to provide the Falcons with some more stability back there. It is hard to see Sandringham losing this clash, but Geelong played its best game of the season last week, so if they can build on that and start strongly, anything is possible.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday August 24, 2.15pm
Preston City Oval

In the second game of a double-header at Preston City Oval, the Knights host the Pioneers. The Knights are coming off an impressive win over Western Jets in the final round after starting slowly, while the Pioneers started strongly, and had their chances but just went down to Gippsland Power by 10 points on Sunday. The Knights midfield has the upperhand in this game with Northern trio Adam Carafa, Sam Philp and Josh Watson all in good form, while Josh D’Intinosante looms as a key for Northern up forward with 26 goals to his name this season – second over all on the goalkicking charts. James Schischka might be the man to try and stop him, while William Wallace and Riley Ironside have played good defensive roles in the back 50 of late. Brady Rowles was impressive last week and will provide good rebound, while Sam Conforti, Thomson Dow and Riley Wilson can win the pill and hit the scoreboard. Josh Treacy is strong enough to worry opposition key defenders, with Ryan Sturgess and Jackson Davies the two who will likely play a big role in the defence for the home side. Aaron Gundry has been in good form this season, as has Jack Ginnivan and Ben Worme with the former able to kick multiple goals in a game, while Worme can push up the ground and rotate through the middle. Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner are another couple of players that must be contained or Bendigo risk conceding a big score, but they will be relieved that Lachlan Potter will miss the season as his run and carry can break games open. Northern go in as favourites at home, but Bendigo beat the Knights at this venue earlier in the season so will be confident they can repeat the dose here.

CALDER CANNONS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday, August 25, 11am
RAMS Arena

In the standalone game at RAMS Arena, Calder host a somewhat depleted Tasmania side in what on paper should favour the fifth placed home side. With Mitch O’Neill already out and the likes of Sam Collins and Oliver Davis missing it means three of their top players will be unavailable for the knockout clash. Jared Dakin has returned to provide some vital leadership, while Matt McGuinness, Patrick Walker and Liam Viney provide good rebound off the back 50. With Harrison Jones, Jake Sutton and Jackson Cardillo inside the forward arc, the Cannons front six will be hard to contain, but the Devils’ forward line is capable of providing impressive contested marking with Jackson Callow and Jake Steele named in the key position spots. Steele can also play in defence if the Devils start to get overwhelmed on the scoreboard, while Sam Banks and Will Peppin are future prospects who have shown great signs. The Calder midfield of Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Ned Gentile should take control of the game given their experience, and if they get first use to their forwards nice and quickly, then the Cannons could put up a big score. Tasmania must remain composed and use the ball well to take advantage of their contested marking talls in the forward line if they are to cause an upset in this game.

WESTERN JETS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday August 25, 11.45am
Box Hill City Oval

Down the Eastern Freeway, Western Jets cross the West Gate to play the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Box Hill. Western’s defence has won it games in the past, with Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar, Cody Raak and Josh Kellett a formidable combination, while Emerson Jeka can play there as well. Jeka has been named in attack, no doubt to stretch the Rebels’ defence with the tall utility likely to cause headaches for undersized defenders. Also in attack is competition leading goalscorer Archi Manton, but the Jets have struggled to kick big scorers on a consistent basis, so quick ball movement forward is key, as the likes of Josh Honey and Eddie Ford can run and hit the scoreboard. The Rebels are more than comfortable in a shootout situation, but showed last week they can win in a slog as well, which will be great preparation for this match. Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin and Cooper Craig-Peters is an underrated midfield and capable of producing quick clearances, while Josh Rentsch is already showing signs as a top-end key forward despite being two years away from being drafted. Riley Polkinghonre and Jack Tillig have been consistent players up either end this season, while Toby Mahony adds a touch of class, and Ben Hobbs is a 2021 draft prospect with a high ceiling. The Jets have overage experience in Aaron Clarke and Daly Andrews on their side, while Will Kennedy has been phenomenal in the ruck. He meets Patrick Glanford who averages the second most hitouts behind Kennedy, while James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd have also remained in the team this season as overagers, playing roles up opposite ends of the ground.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 25, 2.15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what could be the match of the round, eighth placed Dandenong Stingrays take on ninth placed Murray Bushrangers in the second game at Box Hill. The Stingrays head into the game on an eight-game losing streak after sitting at a remarkable six wins and a draw from seven games. They have improved the past month, but were overwhelmed by the last placed Falcons in the wet at Bendigo last weekend. With elimination on the line for the reigning premiers, they must pick up if they are to overcome Murray in this match. The Bushrangers were starting to get back to their best before slipping and sliding – literally and figuratively – to a hungry GWV Rebels side in the previous round. The Stingrays still have plenty of match winners with Hayden Young, Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman in the side, and after spending time in the midfield, have been named back in their most dominant positions of half-back and the latter two, half-forward. Lachlan Williams has consistency to build, but as he showed from his three-goal last quarter in Round 17, can pop up and turn a game if it is tight. Murray is usually a strong defensive side, with Liam Fiore and Ethan Baxter able to nullify their direct opponents, as Charlie Byrne and Zavier Maher provide the run and carry out of defence. Sam Durham, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild and Dylan Clarke provide a hard edge to the midfield, while Lachlan Ash is all class and can play anywhere on the ground. Jimmy Boyer and Clayton Gay can play up both ends for their respective sides, while Ben Kelly will try and work over Bigoa Nyuon in the ruck, who will have the athletic advantage in the air. Will Lewis played his first game for the year last week and looked impressive, while Josh Rachele is a Under 16s forward who looms as a top pick in the 2021 draft already.

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year

OUR 2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year has officially been announced today, with 21 of the 24 players receiving five or more Team of the Week nominations this season. We placed a minimum of five NAB League Boys games, and at least four nominations to make the 24-player squad.

A remarkable eight captains feature in the squad – including five in defence – with Sandringham Dragons’ leader Ryan Byrnes named as captain of the team this year. Byrnes has gone one step better than last year when he was named in the Second Team of the Year, while Lachlan Ash, Trent Bianco and Josh D’Intinosante were the trio to back up their Team of the Year selections last year, with selection this year. Mitch Mellis and Jye Chalcraft followed Byrnes in advancing from the Second Team into the Team of the Year as a top-ager.

In terms of a team-by-team basis, Eastern Ranges and Northern Knights recorded three players each in the side, while Geelong Falcons, Sandringham Dragons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Tasmania Devils and Western Jets have two players each. Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers have a sole representative in the side.

BACKS:

Brock Smith
Gippsland Power | Five nominations
20.1 disposals, 5.9 marks, 5.9 rebounds, 2.0 tackles

The Gippsland Power captain has been a reliable force in defence, often tasked with the dual role of nullifying a key forward, whilst providing run out of defence. He has kicked a few big goals this season as well.

Matt McGuinness
Tasmania Devils | Six nominations
21.1 disposals, 6.2 marks, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 tackles

Automatically qualified for the side following his six nominations, and was crucial in holding down a key defensive spot for the Devils despite being medium sized. He can play anywhere on the ground, indicating his versatility.

Lucas Rocci
Western Jets | Six nominations
18.9 disposals, 4.3 marks, 5.1 rebounds, 3.8 tackles

The Western Jets captain had a big back-end to the season, relishing the role in defence where he found plenty of the football, rebounded and laid quite a number of tackles.

HALF-BACKS:

Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays | Six nominations
22.4 disposals, 3.8 marks, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 tackles

While Young has pushed up to a wing and even played forward at times, the potent rebounder was at his best off a half-back flank, and leads his team with his actions. Along with Ash, is in the top two elite kicks in the draft crop.

Jesse Clark
Geelong Falcons | Four nominations
21.4 disposals, 4.0 marks, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 tackles

The Geelong Falcons co-captain has been a rebounding force this season, ranked number one for average rebounds in the competition, and has stood up despite him team finishing on the bottom of the ladder.

Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers | Five nominations
22.6 disposals, 5.1 marks, 2.6 rebounds, 4.3 tackles

Rounding out the defence is our fifth captain in six spots, with the Murray co-captain standing out early in the season with his kicking and run-and-carry. He has played in the forward half of the ground and on-ball of late to show off his versatility, but he rarely wastes a disposal.

CENTRES:

Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels | Seven nominations
25.5 disposals, 2.6 marks, 5.7 clearances, 6.5 tackles, 5.7 inside 50s

The draft bolter earlier in the season, Rantall has become a massive influence in the Rebels midfield, using his elite tank and athletic traits to win a truckload of the ball and burst away from stoppages whilst laying a high number of tackles.

Riley Baldi
Gippsland Power | Five nominations
24.3 disposals, 5.4 marks, 3.4 clearances, 3.4 tackles, 3.7 inside 50s

Playing just the seven NAB League Boys games after overcoming injuries and representing Vic Country, Baldi has the least amount of games to his name in the side, but still picked up five nominations from his seven matches.

Ryan Byrnes (c)
Sandringham Dragons | Seven nominations
24.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 5.5 clearances, 3.6 tackles, 4.7 inside 50s

The Dragons captain is the sixth captain in the side and given he has the equal most nominations with seven, he has earned the captaincy tag. Capable of playing inside or out, Byrnes has been a ray of consistency this season in his 11 games.

HALF-FORWARDS:

Mitch Mellis (vc)
Eastern Ranges | Seven nominations
27.0 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.5 tackles, 4.0 inside 50s, 9 goals

The midfielder-forward is the vice-captain of the side and is capable of playing full-time midfield or going forward and kicking goals. One thing is for certain, he is a ball magnet and has hardly put a foot wrong this season with a remarkable seven nominations from 10 games.

Jackson Callow
Tasmania Devils | Five nominations
13.2 disposals, 6.0 marks, 1.5 tackles, 2.6 inside 50s, 24 goals

The key position forward is one of just two bottom-agers in the side and has been a marking machine this year working hard inside 50 and pushing up the ground. Callow has booted 24 goals this year, the second most of any forward included in the team.

Mitch Martin
GWV Rebels | Five nominations
17.7 disposals, 3.5 marks, 3.6 tackles, 4.6 inside 50s, 18 goals

The GWV Rebels’ mid-forward has rotated between the two roles this season, winning the ball consistently and also hitting the scoreboard when forward. He is the fourth highest goalkicker in the team with the 18 majors from 13 games.

FORWARDS:

Josh D’Intinosante
Northern Knights | Seven nominations
18.9 disposals, 4.8 marks, 6.1 tackles, 3.8 inside 50s, 26 goals

The dynamic forward has enjoyed a huge season after backing up his 2018 Best and Fairest winning effort as a bottom-ager. He has spent time in the midfield, and gone forward to boot 26 goals in his 14 games, the second most of any player in the competition.

Josh Treacy
Bendigo Pioneers | Five nominations
13.0 disposals, 4.1 marks, 2.9 tackles, 6.1 hitouts, 13 goals

The second bottom-ager in the side fills the other key position forward slot after a strong season in attack for the Pioneers. In 14 games, Treacy has booted 13 goals, but works hard to find the ball and have an influence inside 50 outside of pure scoreboard influence.

Charlie Sprague
Geelong Falcons | Four nominations
15.1 disposals, 4.4 marks, 2.5 tackles, 24. inside 50s, 21 goals

The taller forward has been enjoying his past six weeks, booting a bag of six majors last week, which followed four consecutive matches of three-goal hauls. His consistency to hit the scoreboard is as good as anyone’s and just from 10 games as well.

RUCKS:

Will Kennedy
Western Jets | Five nominations
17.0 disposals, 4.4 marks, 35.1 hitouts, 3.8 clearances, 3.6 tackles

The clear standout statistical ruckman all season, Kennedy has monstered many of his opponents week-in, week-out, also picking up a truckload of the ball. Not only does he win the hitouts, but he gets around the ground, finds the ball and lays tackles.

Zak Pretty
Eastern Ranges | Seven nominations
26.6 disposals, 2.4 marks, 6.2 clearances, 4.4 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s

The number one ball winner in the competition has amassed a massive 372 disposals this season, and also ranks number one in clearances. Pretty has enjoyed a consistent season and one of a damaging trio of Eastern Ranges players.

Sam Philp
Northern Knights | Six nominations
22.9 disposals, 3.7 marks, 5.6 clearances, 5.6 tackles, 3.1 inside 50s

The inside midfielder has been a standout this season for the Knights, earning a National Draft Combine invitation after being left out from the Vic Metro squad. He is ranked third overall for total disposals and clearances in the NAB League Boys competition.

INTERCHANGE:

Trent Bianco
Oakleigh Chargers | Four nominations
27.0 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.4 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s, 5.1 rebounds

After making last year’s Team of the Year, Bianco has backed up the effort with another nomination despite playing just eight games. He has been superb as co-captain for Oakleigh playing both in defence and through the midfield.

Jye Chalcraft
Murray Bushrangers | Four nominations
21.7 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.9 tackles, 5.5 clearances, 3.1 inside 50s

Spending more time in the midfield this season, Chalcraft has picked up the second most total disposals and clearances this season, and has shared the load with the balanced Murray midfield.

Jackson Davies
Northern Knights | Five nominations
19.3 disposals, 6.1 marks, 2.9 tackles, 5.0 rebounds

The eighth captain to be named in the side, Davies has enjoyed a strong season since missing out on Vic Metro selection, standing tall in the Knights’ defence winning the ball, taking intercept marks and rebounding.

Angus Hanrahan
Sandringham Dragons | Four nominations
24.6 disposals, 6.8 marks, 3.6 inside 50s, 3.0 rebounds, 14 goals

The versatile utility has played just about everywhere this season and put his name well and truly into draft contention after missing out last year. He is one of only three overagers in the Team of the Year.

Sam Ramsay
Calder Cannons | Four nominations
23.3 disposals, 4.2 marks, 4.6 tackles, 3.2 clearances, 3.1 inside 50s

Ranked top five in disposals, Ramsay has been an influence on the outside and is one of the more consistent players, having a purple patch later in the season and assisting in Calder’s revival up the ladder.

Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges | Five nominations
23.0 disposals, 2.3 marks, 6.8 tackles, 5.1 clearances, 4.6 inside 50s

The third of the damaging Eastern Ranges trio earns a place in the squad after another great season as that tackling midfielder who earns plenty of clearances with his touches.

SECOND TEAM OF THE YEAR:

The NAB League Boys Second Team of the Year is lead by the Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons and Western Jets who have three players each in the team. Dandenong Stingrays, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers each have two, while the Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights and Tasmania Devils have a player each. Sandringham Dragons did not have a player in the side after both nominees made the first team. Calder Cannons’ Brodie Newman was named captain of the side.

Morrish Medal Preview: Tight contest predicted for 2019

IT is hard to pick a winner in this year’s Morrish Medal count which will take place on Sunday, with a number of potential draft prospects putting their hands up for the NAB League Boys’ top award. We will run through some of the key contenders from each side and our predictions.

Bendigo Pioneers:

The Pioneers are unlikely to have a winner because of the shared effort between their best players week-to-week. Thomson Dow will poll well at either end of the season, but missed far too many games due to school football, while the likes of Riley Wilson, Josh Treacy, Aaron Gundry and James Schischka will steal votes off each other depending on who the umpires liked on the day. Not having a huge amount of wins means there will not be a great deal of three-votes either.

Calder Cannons:

There is a chance a Cannon could don the Morrish Medal, but it will rely on one of Daniel Mott or Sam Ramsay picking up the votes when both are in the team. If they end up splitting them like it will likely occur, it means they might fall short of an individual win. Brodie Newman should poll some good votes early in the season as well, while Ned Gentile will arguably grab some later in the season, and maybe roll into the higher votes with Mott and Ramsay.

Dandenong Stingrays:

Much like Hugh McCluggage before him, Hayden Young would be a chance given he has only missed due to the championships. Later in the season he was thrown around in different roles which might detract some votes, but his early season form was terrific and will still poll some later in the year, but more likely single votes. Ned Cahill is the other Stingray who will likely poll strongly in the vote count, while Jack Toner and Lachlan Williams might grab some lower votes for consistency.

Eastern Ranges:

The club that will be the most interesting to watch because they genuinely have three players that could win it in Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Zakery Pretty. All three have been consistent throughout the year, with our preference leaning towards Mellis just for the reason of hitting the scoreboard more often and has hardly had a bad game. In our prediction we had Mellis picking up 18 votes, including four best on grounds, while Pretty finished with 15 – two best on grounds – and Stapleton on 10 – mostly picking up the ‘two’ votes because others had huge games while he was consistent. Though they will likely steal votes off each other, if the umpires favour a particular player, then that player will likely take control given Eastern will roll in the votes this year.

Geelong Falcons:

Hard to see the bottom side polling enough votes to present a winner this year. Jesse Clark would be the Falcons’ top hope, and we have him on 11 for the season, but they are likely to be single votes given most games were losses. After Clark it is extremely even with the Charlie trio – Charlie Sprague, Charlie Harris and Charlie Lazzaro among the next in line.

Gippsland Power”

Similar to Eastern, watching how the Gippsland votes will play out is something worth keeping an eye on. We have Riley Baldi topping the list with 10 votes, one ahead of Sam Flanders and Brock Smith, but given the consistency and nature of the performances by those players, it will be hard for umpires to separate them. Fraser Phillips and Ryan Sparkes might steal the odd vote off the trio as well.

GWV Rebels:

Jay Rantall is one of the front-runners for the award because he is likely to pick up a host of three-votes, strong in the Rebels’ early wins and tight losses. He racks up big numbers and is eye-catching which helps, though Mitch Martin (who we have reaching double-figure votes) could also pick up votes from him. Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne are others who should poll in a few games given their consistency.

Murray Bushrangers:

Another team that has an even contribution from its top-end with Jye Chalcraft, Lachlan Ash, Cam Wild and Jimmy Boyer the four names to keep an eye on in this space. Chalcraft is the one we have polling the most, and with Ash missing a number of games due to Vic Country and AFL Academy commitments, the other trio are potentially going to benefit on Morrish Medal night. Depending on how the votes go, they could steal them off each other or if one can monopolise them, then they will be a serious contender.

Northern Knights:

Two names emerge from the Knights as genuine contenders in Josh D’Intinosante and Sam Philp. The pair did not play for Vic Metro and therefore have more games to poll in, and similar to Jackson Davies, will pick up three or two votes in matches when they have really stood out. We know small forwards have traditionally polled well, so D’Intinosante is a chance, though the umpires might lean towards the contested mid in Philp.

Oakleigh Chargers:

With all the school football and injuries at times to co-captains, Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams, it is hard to get a read on how Oakleigh’s votes will poll. There is little doubt that had Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell played full seasons we could be looking at a one-two from Oakleigh. We still have Anderson polling nine votes and Rowell seven despite playing just four games each to be the highest vote getters. But also on seven are Bianco, Fraser Elliot, Lochlan Jenkins and Reef McInnes, signifying how hard it is to work out who will secure the votes mid-season.

Sandringham Dragons:

Liam Stocker won it last year, and now a player who also did not have school football commitments could get the job done in 2019 with Ryan Byrnes. He missed some games due to injury, but is a genuine chance to take home the Morrish, with realistically only Angus Hanrahan the other player likely to steal votes when the school footballers were away. They will end up with a lot of players having votes on the night, but these two stand out above the others.

Tasmania Devils:

Did not win enough games to get too many three votes, but Matt McGuinness and Oliver Davis are the two players who will compete for the most votes at the league’s newest club. Jackson Callow will pick some up for his work up forward, while Mitch O’Neill will steal them when he got out on the park.

Western Jets:

Lucas Rocci is predicted to be the Jets’ highest voter, finishing the season in a blaze of glory to take up Darcy Cassar‘s role, who will ironically be the one polling votes early in the season. Those two will pick up the key votes either end of the season, with Josh Honey and Daly Andrews the other two who might come into consideration from the umpires.

TOP CONTENDERS: (Based on our prediction)

Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges) 18 votes

R1: 0 – Okay first game, but just the 17 touches in a dominant day for Noah Anderson. Oakleigh likely to take top votes.
R2: 3 – Was a clear best on ground in the win over the Jets, racking up 35 touches and booting three majors.
R3: 3 – Had the 29 touches and three goals in an easy win over the Knights. James Ross the one who could steal the three-vote with 30 disposals in defence.
R5: 1 – Was solid with 24 touches, but Zak Pretty had a mammoth day out against the Suns with 37, while Lachlan Stapleton racked up big numbers.
R6: 0 – Was solid with 21 touches, but was shaded by Pretty and Stapleton on the day, but more so the Power with Riley Baldi, Brock Smith and Sam Flanders all in contention for votes.
R9: 3 – Safe as houses for the three votes with a mammoth 39 disposals and seven inside 50s.
R12: 3 – Another likely best-on-ground performance after 33 touches and a goal – 10 more touches than any other player in Eastern’s win over the Devils.
R13: 2 – Narrow win over the Bushrangers, a chance for the three votes with 22 touches and two goals, but Jye Chalcraft was superb that day with 29.
R16: 2 – Amongst it for votes, Zak Pretty, Hayden Young and Jack Toner all possibilities, though Mellis had 24 touches in a strong game.
R17: 1 – Tightest of wins over Eastern, Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Lachlan Stapleton the big vote threats.

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels) 16 votes

R1: 0 – Rebels fell short of victory against Stingrays, a number of others on both sides ahead of Rantall for votes.
R2: 3 – Was a key reason the Rebels snuck home, but votes could go to Cooper Stephens who was terrific in the one-point loss.
R3: 3 – A clear best-on-ground performance with 31 touches and two goals, but a loss to the Bushrangers might prevent him from picking up the three.
R5: 3 – Stood out against the Thunder with 27 disposals and two goals. Riley Polkinghorne and Toby Mahony could be vote threats.
R6: 0 – Just 14 touches in the loss to the Suns, won’t poll in this game.
R7: 3 – The Rebels lost by 32 to the Knights which might cost him the votes, but he had a massive 36 touches, 10 more than any other player.
R8: 0 – A game-high 30 touches, but the Rebels were thrashed by the Power with a raft of players likely to collect all the votes. Will be the one to get one if Rebels get a look in, though.
R14: 0 – Comfortable win over the Falcons, but Mitch Martin was superb, while Noah Gribble and Jesse Clark will get chances for the Falcons.
R15: 2 – Expect Sam Ramsay to pick up the three in the Cannons’ tight win over the Rebels, though Rantall was just as good despite the loss.
R16: 3 – Turned it on when required against the Pioneers with 21 touches and two goals in a low-possession game. Jack Ginnivan’s 19 and four might earn the three votes, while Josh Treacy was also in contention.
R17: 0 – Finished the game with 20 touches but just five in the first half will hurt his vote chances. Feeling is he misses out, but could pick up a vote.

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons) 16 votes

R1: 2 – Massive win to the Dragons over the Cannons, Byrnes among the best with 27 touches and a goal, but Charlie Dean booted five goals.
R2: 3 – Accounted for the Knights and was the standout midfielder for the Dragons. Adam Carafa had 29 touches for the Knights, while Dean was inaccurate with 4.3.
R3: 0 – Okay but Matt Rowell, Trent Bianco, Jack Mahony and Finn Maginness are likely to poll votes ahead of him.
R5: 3 – A smashing win over the Lions with 26 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal. Louis Butler’s 31 is a threat to steal the ‘three’.
R7: 1 – Went down to the Ranges and Zak Pretty and Cody Hirst both impressed. Best of the Dragons though with Angus Hanrahan the other a chance to sneak a vote.
R8: 3 – Should poll the three votes here in the Dragons’ narrow win over Bendigo thanks to 31 touches, three marks and a goal. If Miles Bergman kicked straighter (1.5) it might be a different story.
R11: 0 – Went down to the Ranges and Darcy Chirgwin dominated upon return.
R13: 2 – Loss to the Jets, with Lucas Rocci picking up nine rebounds, and Finn Maginness also impressive, but should poll one or two.
R14: 0 – Tight win over the Stingrays, Angus Hanrahan and Hayden Young the clear standouts. Fischer McAsey with three goals likely to poll as well.
R15: 2 – Massive game to Angus Hanrahan (33 touches, three goals) will earn him the three votes, but Byrnes was next best with 28 and one.
R17: 0 – Just the 13 touches and plenty in line for votes ahead of him in the massive game against Oakleigh.

Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights) 16 votes

R1: 0 – Went down to the Jets, and Josh Honey, Sam Philp, Adam Carafa and Ryan Sturgess among those in contention, though he could grab a minor vote.
R2: 0 – Went down to the Dragons by 43 points and was inaccurate with 1.4.
R3: 0 – Held his own with 21 touches and a goal, but Knights were smashed by the Ranges and Philp was Northern’s best. Mellis and Ross the top vote getters.
R5: 3 – The difference in the Knights’ win over Bendigo, booted a goal from 30 touches, six marks and eight tackles.
R6: 3 – Again the standout player with two goals from 25 touches, Lachlan Potter and Jackson Davies two that could steal votes.
R7: 2 – They won by 32 but Jay Rantall had a field day, while ‘JD’ finished with 1.3 from 20 touches.
R8: 0 – Narrow loss to the Chargers and others were better, just the 16 touches and one behind.
R9: 0 – Loss to the Cannons and Philp and Davies good again, unlikely to pick up a vote.
R10: 0 – Massive win over the Stingrays, but not among the best despite two goals.
R11: 2 – A chance to pick up the three, but will likely go to Philp. Both had the 30 touches, with D’Intinosante slightly inaccurate with three behinds.
R13: 0 – Seven-goal win and he booted four majors – a chance for votes, though Carafa, Philp, Davies and Potter were all impressive.
R14: 3 – Six goals from 18 touches – Lock in the three votes, Eddie.
R15: 0 – Just the 13 touches and one goal in the 37-point loss to Bendigo.
R17: 3 – Booted 4.2 from 13 touches on the weekend in a low-disposal winning game, with Carafa, Ewan Macpherson, Ryan Sturgess and Josh Watson all potential for votes though.

Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) – 16 votes

R1: 0 – Just 10 disposals and a behind in a quiet outing at RAMS Arena.
R2: 0 – A chance for votes with two goals from 26 touches in the tight loss to Bendigo, but Lachlan Ash and Cam Wild were impressive, as was Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp.
R3: 1 – Jay Rantall had a great day with 31 touches and two goals, while Ash starred with 28. Chalcraft next best in the seven-point win.
R5: 0 – 22 touches and a goal, but Wild had a good day as Hamish Ellem (22 touches, nine marks and 3.3) should get the ‘three’.
R6: 0 – Booted two goals but just 14 touches in the loss to the GIANTS as Tom Green monstered them and Jeromy Lucas and Ed Perryman had big numbers, while Ash was best for the Bushrangers.
R7: 3 – Finally got the win and Chalcraft was important with 26 touches in the midfield. Wild (27 and one goal) and Dylan Clarke (23 and two) the two biggest threats.
R8: 0 – Well beaten by the Cannons and just 13 touches.
R9: 0 – Okay with 17 disposals and a goal, but Bushrangers were smashed by Chargers so no votes, and Wild and Jimmy Boyer both better.
R10: 0 – Boyer, Clarke and Charlie Byrne in the running for votes as Murray accounted for the Devils. Chalcraft not far behind with 20 touches.
R11: 3 – 27 disposals and six inside 50s, competing for the top votes with Wild.
R12: 3 – 33 disposals, four inside 50s and five tackles in a low-scoring win over the Pioneers, Boyer booted 1.4 from 27 disposals as his biggest challenger for votes.
R13: 3 – Topped the disposals comfortably with 29, though Ranges won by four points and Mellis and Pretty both had 22, with Mellis booting two goals.
R14: 0 – 18 touches and a goal in a 20-point loss, others ahead of him for votes.
R15: 2 – Big win over the Jets, but will be competing with Wild, Ash and Boyer for votes.
R17: 1 – Loss to the Rebels, but had 22 touches and was one of Murray’s best with Wild and Josh Rachele, might be behind Cooper Craig-Peters as well though.

Others: (Based on our predictions)

Zakery Pretty (Eastern Ranges) – 15 votes – Could take some of the Mellis votes if the umps prefer clearance midfielders.
Sam Philp (Northern Knights) 15 votes – Could take some of the D’Intinosante votes.
Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons) 14 votes – Misses quite a few games, but when at his best he is looking at high votes.
Lucas Rocci (Western Jets) 13 votes – Had a purple patch in the second half of the season, have him for four best-on-grounds.
Tom Green (GWS GIANTS) 12 votes – Four games, four BOGs, absolute domination.
Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons) 12 votes – Might take votes off Byrnes, and guaranteed some threes after huge games.
Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons) 11 votes – Battling with Mott for Cannons votes.
Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays) 11 votes – Should pick up plenty, but run home not as much.
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS) 11 votes – Like Green, was massive in the Academy Series games.
Jesse Clark (Geelong Falcons) 11 votes – Should monopolise most of the Falcons’ votes.
Mitch Martin (GWV Rebels) 11 votes – Toss up between him and Rantall for votes at the Rebels.
Lachlan Stapleton (Eastern Ranges) 10 votes – May take votes off Mellis and Pretty, particularly if the umps like tackling midfielders.
Riley Baldi (Gippsland Power) 10 votes – Has plenty of competitors for votes at the Power, but seems to do it all.
Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers) 10 votes – Stands out even in average games, but missed a fair chunk due to Vic Country and AFL Academy.

Our Predictions after Round 5:

Tom Green (GWS) – 9 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 8 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 8 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 8 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 7 votes
Lachlan Ash (MB) – 7 votes

Our Predictions after Round 10:

Tom Green (GWS) – 12 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 12 votes
Zakery Pretty (ER) – 12 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 11 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 11 cotes
Daniel Mott (CC) – 11 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 10 votes
Sam Philp (NK) – 10 votes

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year 48-player squad announced

DRAFT Central has announced its 2019 NAB League Boys Team of the Year squad today, with the final team and Second Team of the Year to be announced on Friday. The Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year takes into account the top performers across the NAB League season, not incorporating any performances at school football or National Under-18 Championships, which is why some top-end stars that have missed most of the season through school football such as Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Finn Maginness and Fischer McAsey are not included in the side.

We also placed a five-game minimum on any player to qualify for our Team of the Year, and based our selections off the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week nominations. Of the nominations, five players received a massive seven Team of the Week nominations, with four players named six times throughout the season. These nine players automatically qualify for the side. From the remaining 39 players, every one had at least three nominations, with players requiring at least FOUR nominations to make the first side. Each player who does not make the first side is named in the second side.

In terms of club-by-club nominations, Western Jets had the most with five players making the squad, with Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights all recording four players. Due to school football, Oakleigh Chargers (three), Sandringham Dragons (two) and a lesser extent Dandenong Stingrays (three) had more of a shared contribution across the season, while Tasmania Devils had three players named in their debut season.

Of the 48 players, Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Ash, Jye Chalcraft, Josh D’Intinosante, Trent Bianco and Ryan Byrnes made the Team of the Year squad last year, with Ash, D’Intinosante and Bianco all making the first side with the others slotting into the second team.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [4]: Jack Ginnivan, Aaron Gundry, Josh Treacy, Riley Wilson.

Calder [4]: Ned Gentile, Daniel Mott, Brodie Newman, Sam Ramsay.

Dandenong [3]: Ned Cahill, Lachlan Williams, Hayden Young.

Eastern [4]: Ben Hickleton, Mitch Mellis, Zakery Pretty, Lachlan Stapleton.

Geelong [4]: Jesse Clark, Oliver Henry, Charlie Sprague, Henry Walsh.

Gippsland [4]: Riley Baldi, Tye Hourigan, Fraser Phillips, Brock Smith.

GWV [4]: Cooper Craig-Peters, Mitch Martin, Riley Polkinghorne, Jay Rantall.

Murray [4]: Lachlan Ash, Jimmy Boyer, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild.

Northern [4]: Jackson Davies, Josh D’Intinosante, Sam Philp, Ryan Sturgess.

Oakleigh [3]: Trent Bianco, Lochlan Jenkins, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

Sandringham [2]: Ryan Byrnes, Angus Hanrahan.

Tasmania [3]: Jackson Callow, Oliver Davis, Matt McGuinness.

Western [5]: Darcy Cassar, Josh Honey, Josh Kellett, Will Kennedy, Lucas Rocci.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 17

THE cream is beginning to rise to the top in the NAB League as we reach the business end of the season. There was a bunch of top-end prospects to stand up in tight games this weekend, with out scouts getting to both the Metro and Country triple-headers. Here are their opinion-based notes on some of the players who received a National, State or Rookie Me Draft Combine invitation, or represented Vic Country and Vic Metro at the Under-16 Championships and Under-17 Futures games.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

The energetic small enjoyed time in the midfield, bringing good attack and speed to the engine room. He started well with an accurate hit-up kick to Archi Manton and excelled with penetrating kicks into the forward 50 off only a few steps. Failli also zipped away from congestion well and was often present at the fall of the ball, where he used his agility and clean hands to stay in possession. Not a massive game, but was busy.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Continued his apprenticeship as a key defender for most of the game, positioning well inside defensive 50 to cut off a few Northern attacks – especially early on. Jeka positioned smartly to intercept in the first term and used his ideal foot skills to find both short options and penetrate long on the rebound. He was swung back to his more familiar forward position in the second half but missed the chance to hit the scoreboard as he missed with a third term set shot. But Jeka would still have an impact in that department despite Western’s low-scoring effort, assisting an Archi Manton goal after finding him by foot inside 50.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Had a slow start to the game but built into it with repeat running and driving bursts along the outside. Positioned on the wing and off half-back, Cassar worked well both ways and tried his best to help Western exit the Knights’ territory after quarter time. His instincts in reading the high balls came into play with a defensive 50 intercept mark over the back in the third term, and Cassar went on to accumulate many of his team-high 22 disposals in a more influential second half.

#24 Josh Honey

Was far and away the Jets’ best player for mine, building in confidence as the game went on and causing headaches with his explosiveness from midfield. Honey’s aggression going both ways went a ways to setting the tone for his side, and his willingness to get on the move at every opportunity was a key part of Western’s promising start. Time and time again, Honey broke away from congestion with pure speed and strength, burning opponents with ease and pumping the ball forward. His aggression translated to a bit of niggle and a particularly strong tackle on Sam Philp in the second term, and Honey had an eye-catching three-bounce run later on. Has some terrific traits, just needs to find consistency and eliminate his down games.

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Is really coming into his own as a more permanent small forward, bouncing back to form with his second four-goal haul for the year. D’Intinosante broke the game open in the second term, booting three goals in quick succession early in the piece to get Northern well on top and build the game-defining margin. His first goal came off the back of some great pressure, snapping up the resultant turnover and slamming the ball home. His second goal came a bit easier as he was found over the back in the goalsquare, but he produced another fine bit of work with his third goal from a shrewd front and centre take off hands. D’Intinosante went on to add his fourth with a nicely hit set shot in the third term, and was dangerous throughout with his work deep in the forward half.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner recovered from a couple of shaky moments early on, winning a good amount of ball on the outer and providing neat use by foot going forward. Rotating between the wing and half forward, Gardner was terrific in the middle period of the game with clearing balls forward and a nice goal assist to Nikolas Cox. He continually got the ball in good areas and booted inside 50, getting involved as the Jets looked to mount a comeback. Finds space well but can also get to work on both sides of the stoppages.

#8 Adam Carafa

It was a pretty typical outing from Carafa, who accumulated his possessions at the coalface and flicked out well to his runners with 17 handballs from 23 disposals. He first caught the eye with a well weighted kick though, finding Josh D’Intinosante through the corridor with little fuss. While he is a touch fumbly in collecting the loose ball on occasion, Carafa proved his poise in possession with a couple of classy one-on-one wins in space and had the presence of mind to step around oncoming opponents. Will enjoy playing mostly through the middle having been used up either end throughout the last two years at representative level.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Was arguably a very, very close second for best afield on the back of some fantastic aerial efforts. Starting the game at centre-half-back, Sturgess was his reliable self as he acted as an outlet and intercepter across defensive 50. His flying speckie from behind in the second term was a sign of things to come as Sturgess continued to fly confidently over opponents after half time. His courage in hitting the ball hard and plowing through anyone in the way was great to see, leading up and crashing the packs. Sturgess’ whopping 13 marks really showcased the best of the National Combine invitee, and he almost finished with another highlight as he narrowly missed a long-range attempt in the fourth quarter.

#14 Josh Watson

Was named best afield for the Knights and rightly so having made an electric start to the game. Watson did some great work up the ground at the stoppages, snapping the ball up cleanly and breaking away with speed and pumping the ball inside 50 on his left side. His use by foot was often a weapon, finding good range and looking for his tall leading targets – even if he could have lowered his eyes on a few occasions. Was a relative unknown coming into just his fifth game, but the bottom ager certainly captured some attention.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Is such an exciting prospect on athleticism and versatility alone, doing some nice work up either end as more of a key position option. Cox’s leap and clean hands on both levels were exceptional, making him a threat no matter what kind of delivery he was given. He hit the scoreboard early on the back of a 50m penalty and would later add a second with an outstanding wheeling goal in the following term from on the arc to show his true capabilities. Cox was thrown down back to finish the game and was good with his positioning, contesting Western’s forward forays and rebounding to good effect.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

Is just a consistent performer in the back half, doing the defensive things well and working hard to become relevant when exiting the arc. Macpherson racked up a fair chunk of the ball in the first term as Northern played a more high-possession and slow defensive game, but had more important touches later on under heat. Is usually a sound short kick and has good awareness in knowing when to release, while also proving solid in mopping up one-on-one ground balls.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Was one who really lifted when the game was on the line, often found at the bottom of packs and extracting from the stoppages as he has done more often since the national carnival. Mott just always found a way to will the ball forward, getting out the back of a few stoppages and booting long while wheeling away from the traffic. He made a more typical play in the third term with a neat goal assist kick to Jake Sutton, but was sometimes a touch more rushed in possession. Will thrive off receiving more ball on the outside at the next level when not acting as the number one ball winner.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Started brightly with a goal in the first term and found a lot of his possessions going forward, proving dangerous when in full flight. While he can sure up his short-range kicking at times, Cardillo made a couple of neat plays in-tight when keeping his hands free and shifting to release around opponents, while also getting good penetration with longer kicks going inside 50. Clunked a really strong mark from behind in the third term and came off worse for wear, but that kind of attack is just part of his game.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Again proved industrious going both ways in midfield, wheeling away to boot forward clearing kicks and tackling hard when not in possession. His chase to catch an opponent hold the ball in the second term was exceptional and he went on to lay a few more hard tackles at stoppages. Ramsay had a long range snap touched on the line in the final term which could have been a deciding factor, but otherwise made his impact around the ball.

#21 Harrison Jones

Moves so well for his size and was prominent in the air in patches, showing good courage going back and hitting up strongly on the lead at full stretch. Jones found the goals early with a set shot conversion, while assisting for Jake Sutton in the second term and later missing a chance for his second major after marking well one-on-one. Has great potential and favourable traits, but is yet to truly rip a game apart.

#38 Brodie Newman

Had a couple of tricky matchups down back, being held accountable by Eastern’s dangerous talls while still trying to get some rebounding drive going. Newman was caught out a couple of times biting off too much in possession, but looked more assured as the game went on with quicker disposals and some smart decisions. He took a strong pack mark in the second term and looked safe on the last line as the game heated up. A solid game without being exceptional.

Eastern:

#7 Lachie Stapleton

Was his usual productive self through midfield, repeatedly getting to the drop of the ball and sweeping up the loose ball. Stapleton’s short game was neat and he often used it after breaking well from congestion where he read the taps from both rucks. He moved forward to good effect, intercepting inside 50 in the second term and putting through the set shot, and later capping his game with a beautiful finish on the run to level the scores in the final term. Stapleton also got stuck in with his tackles, laying a couple on the end of persistent chases early on and rising to the occasion as the game tightened up.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Another of Eastern’s diminutive midfielders who just always puts in the work and sets the tone for his side. Mellis constantly looked to get on the move in possession, using his speed and agility to break free. His repeat running was a feature, dishing the ball out to runners and going on to get it back up the field to continue the Ranges’ forward forays. He contributed a handy goal assist to Ben Hickleton in the final term when the pressure was on, adding to his ball winning feats.

#18 Billy McCormack

The Eastern big man was used in a different role this time around, tried up the other end as a key defender. His positioning was sound, often getting to long balls into defensive 50 and plucking the ball with ease. He made some good reads out the back when others were sucked into the ball and also affected some long rebounding kicks. McCormack finished the game up forward where he had less of an impact, but was still solid.

#20 Connor Downie

The hero of the day, Downie had a slightly more patchy game in the build up to his match winning goal. He started with some dangerous accumulation around half-forward, missing a quickfire long-range shot on goal in the first term and having another go out on the full. He sharpened up after the main break, becoming the chain on the outside we have come to expect while still going forward well. His moment in the sun came on the back of staying with the play and laying a strong tackle to force the spillage and deciding free kick, converting cooly after the siren.

#23 Zak Pretty

Compliments his midfield partners so well and while he is slightly less heralded, Pretty is clever in congestion and does things you have to look closely to see. He kicked off his game with the very first clearance and a few hacked kicks forward, but looked a lot better when propping in possession and releasing drawing handballs out with good vision and execution. Pretty’s ability to hand out to a voice was also noticeable and was more than handy as the game became more contested.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old is really coming on quickly and racked up 17 disposals in this game, spending time up forward and through the midfield. He was a good link going forward and penetrated both arcs, having his most important one in the final term and Eastern broke inside 50 for the game winning play. He missed a couple of tough chances on goal but is usually pretty clinical around the big sticks. Has plenty of potential, and could be a wildcard for the Ranges heading into finals a-la Jaidyn Stephenson a few years ago.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

What a handy addition to the Sandringham side Chirgwin has been after a long injury layoff, putting in the hard yards through midfield and providing a great point of difference. A lot of his work was done on the inside in a more unheralded role, digging in at the stoppages going both ways to prize a team-high 30 disposals and lay seven tackles. His handballs from in-close under tackling pressure worked well, and his cleanliness by hand translated to overhead marking as he pulled down a couple of important ones in the thick of the action. Lifted when the game was on the line and he will be important in the crunch finals moments.

#4 Finn Maginness

Arguably the Dragons player who stood up most in the final term and tried to will his side over the line, making an impact through the midfield and booting three clutch goals – including two at the start of the fourth quarter. His first goal came all the way back in the first term with a straightforward conversion from close range, and while he was a touch quiet after that, Maginness popped up with a couple of strong marks and bustling bursts through the corridor. His second goal came from a lovely snap and wheeling finish, with his third another set shot inside 50. Still has some improvement left in him, which makes him all the more valuable as a prospect.

#6 Miles Bergman

A player who does not have many touches but has truly important ones, which was the case again in this game. His overhead marking was again strong, starting with one in the first term while also mopping up below his knees around the ground well. Kicking remains an areas of improvement for Bergman despite all of his eye-catching traits, turning the ball over going inside 50 on two occasions going inside 50 and rushing a touch when throwing it on his boot. Is still very promising and found the goals as he usually does with a free kick in the second term.

#13 Louis Butler

Was his usual self in the back half, getting to an absolute raft of contests across the defensive arc and providing his trademark rebound. He was another who was sometimes rushed on the ball when going long or clearing his lines, but worked into that area as he accumulated across the day. He took an important overhead mark in the corridor with pressure on in the final term and intercepted inside defensive 50 in the same term to show the kind of impact he can have.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Again won a heap of ball on the outside and worked so well between the arcs, linking the play and providing an outlet from tight spaces. The over-ager’s short kicking and work along the line was sound, and he began to have more of an impact on the game with his drifting runs forward. Both of his goals came in the second half; the first was a classy snap as the ball dropped inside 50, and the second came after again finding space inside 50 to mark and boot home the set shot.

#45 Archie Perkins

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going. Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals. His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

It was a real captain’s effort from Bianco, who was influential in the closing stages to cap off a solid outing. Assuming his familiar role off half-back, Bianco started with a few receives on the back and outside of the centre bounces, using his trademark pace to accelerate away from congestion and get the Chargers going forward. The look of his weaving runs along the outer are pretty unique to Bianco, always looking for holes to run into and the best options up the ground. He put in an important touch up on the wing to spark the chain for one of Noah Anderson’s fourth quarter goals, and just has so much class.

#8 Noah Anderson

Was an out and out match winner for Oakleigh, lifting for a mammoth final quarter effort where he booted two of the final three goals – including the one to put his side in front. Earlier, Anderson began up forward and worked up the ground well, proving impossible to tackle when on the move forward and having a couple of tight shies on goal. Anderson’s combination of bursts and baulks was outstanding, allowing him to find the space to deliver effectively by foot. His final quarter consisted of a goal assist to Fraser Elliot, an intercept mark and goal from the shot, and his third goal shortly after from a strong bit of play as he snapped the ball home. He is just such an impact player, able to tear the game to shreds either up forward or through midfield.

#11 Matt Rowell

What more is there to say about Rowell; he is just so consistent and seldom puts a foot wrong, while also displaying just about every desirable trait in a midfield prospect. His wheeling runs and arching back saw the commentary team reach full voice, extracting a game-high 34 disposals in a permanent midfield game and using the ball brilliantly going forward. Rowell looked on early as he hit up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for Oakleigh’s first goal, later providing another for Finlay Macrae on the back of a centre bounce clearance. He seemed tireless when working through midfield, willing himself to the ball at stoppages and showing good vision with his handballs out. Rowell’s overhead marking was also prominent, backing back with courage and proving safe with his hands. Just as much of a game winner as his highly credentialed mate, Noah Anderson, and has an influence throughout each game.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

It was another eye-catching display from the highlight reel forward, making the most of his few possessions to prove a menace up forward with four high quality goals. His hands overhead are so strong, helping him to hold onto a mark for his first goal in the square and another in the opening term. His highlight for the game came in the following quarter as the ball sat up perfectly for him to rise above two opponents and clunk a sensational mark inside 50, which led to a third goal. The Bulldogs NGA member has rare athleticism for a tall, making him such a difficult match up as he covers the ground well but also towers above defenders with his leap. His fourth goal was another beauty, stealing the ball inside 50 and propping before deciding to go for goal himself and slamming the ball home. Just does the mercurial every game and hardly misses a chance, unbelievable talent.

#29 Finlay Macrae

Is coming into a nice patch of form, looking comfortable among some of the best top-age ball winners to find plenty of the pill. His class on the ball is obvious, finding it in all areas and using it effectively with polished kicks. He also gets forward well and found the goals again in this game with a nice finish during Oakleigh’s final quarter onslaught. Will be a leading candidate heading into 2020.

#73 Cooper Sharman

It was not Sharman’s biggest game considering the lofty standard he has set thus far in Chargers colours, but he still managed to pitch in with a few exciting touches. He covered the ground well and worked up to half forward to provide an option, while knowing when to stay forward and get onto the long entry. His second term was his most busy, hitting the post from a near impossible soccer attempt and later finding the mark beautifully after taking a grab at full stretch. Added a second goal in the final term, which was the last for the match, to seal the win.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams

#1 Sam Conforti

The powerful small midfielder provided fierce tackling pressure from the first bounce and also had a number of deft touches, kicking inside 50 perfectly to the leading Thomson Dow. He did it again later in the game, hitting up Seamus Mitchell inside 50 and showed strength in contested situations. He intercepted a Brock Smith kick at half-forward at one stage and played on to kick inside 50 but it fell short just bouncing through for a behind.

#4 Thomson Dow

Had a really busy opening term where he put through an early goal after some nice leading inside 50 and his subsequent set shot from 40m out on a 45-degree angle. He showed off his one-touch ability, clean in the conditions and did a nice move under pressure in the second term where he went one way, was corralled so calmly changed directions and hit his target. Dow had a quieter third term before picking up again in the last term at both ends. He took a terrific mark inside 50 but his set shot missed to the right and fell short but it was kept in play for Jack Ginnivan to snap truly. Then he was seen down in defence showing good composure with ball-in-hand under pressure, and took a great contested mark in the forward half.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Gets involved around the ground and does more than just the usual ruck role. He showed good hands at ground level and was not afraid to get down and do the ground work as well as the aerial stuff. He used terrific bodywork inside 50 in the second term for Jack Ginnivan to swoop in and dribble a goal, then took a good contested mark at half-forward and continued to present as an option across the ground.

#19 Ben Worme

Started the game on the right note with great vision and a nice kick to hit-up Jack Ginnivan inside 50. He had a flying shot on goal himself but went to the right, and then went into the middle and continued to look busy. He was really solid across the four quarters with the one question mark coming around the urgency to move the ball as he looked a tad too casual late in the game where he had time to dispose of it but waited and his kick was smothered deep in defence.

#20 James Schischka

Was rock solid in defence, particularly in the first half before being sent forward. He repelled opposition attacks and then when he went forward looked to be an option. He had a shot on goal from the boundary line but shanked it out on the full, then set up a goal to Josh Treacy the next quarter with a low bullet inside 50. Schischka went back into defence late and took a courageous mark in front of Josh Smith floating back into defence and then took an important grab in the back 50 to settle the side down late in the match.

#22 Josh Treacy

The bottom-age key forward showed some good signs from limited opportunities taking a strong one-on-one mark against Tye Hourigan in the third term only to hit the post from the set shot. He converted later in the quarter courtesy of a long-range bomb from 50m and put his side back up by a point nearing the final break. His body work against more experienced defenders was really strong and he almost handed a teammate a goal with a handball in the square after good bodywork but the teammate fumbled and the Power defenders cleared it.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Played a typical small forward’s role, always looking dangerous at ground level and taking his opportunities when presented. He showed quick hands at ground level and pounced on a couple of goals in the game, including a loose ball in the second quarter when he dribbled one home close to goal. He converted his second major in the last term, pouncing on a loose ball after Thomson Dow’s set shot fell short and stayed in, with Ginnivan snapping around his body.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles was one of Bendigo’s best in the win, having a number of crucial rebounds and being a rock in defence when Gippsland was furiously attacking. He continually looked to run and carry down the ground, using the ball well and making good decisions by hand or foot. Not a huge accumulator of the ball, Rowles is noticeable with his ball use because he does not waste a lot of touches and has a high impact per possession.

#51 Seamus Mitchell

The bottom-age talent showed some nice traits inside 50 with smarts and speed providing a good combination and a danger at ground level. He kicked a goal from a down-field free kick in the first term, and then showed off his great burst speed in the final term to create separation going forward and boot a goal on the run with a low kicking action to put the Pioneers 12 points up. He had a chance in the third term for another major but the set shot from 35m out in the pocket held up in the breeze and went to the left.

Gippsland:

#1 Ryan Angwin

The bottom-ager played a really solid game through the midfield roaming up the wings and using neat skills to dispose of the ball. A lightly-framed player, he took a good intercept mark at half-back in the first term, played on to give it to Sam Berry and then received it back on the wing with hard running. Angwin showed classy around the stoppages and did not panic with ball-in-hand.

#4 Sam Flanders

Did not have his best game, but stood up through the middle patches to have some important touches in close. His first quarter saw opponents working him over and causing a reaction which resulted in a couple of free kicks leading to goals – one pushing over an opponent at a stoppage and one down-field – before coming out in the second term to deliver a major of his own early. He showed great courage flying for an intercept mark, not taking it but copping contact. His hands in close were elite and picked the right exit to dispose of the ball cleanly, and showed great bodywork in the third term to bump an opponent off the ball and give it to Josh Smith to kick forward.

#6 Riley Baldi

Best on ground and was the difference between the teams, continuing his good form this season. He converted a couple of goals and was a four quarter performer which was difficult in the conditions. He had the first clearance of the game, and had the ball on a string early, marking from a lead and converted a set shot from 35m out. He kicked his second from 40m out in the second term, also applying good defensive pressure, winning a free kick in the middle for restricting Thomson Dow from finding a way out of the stoppage. He handed a goal off to Fraser Phillips in the third term after poor checking from Pioneers defenders with the natural left footer converting the goal with an easy snap. Baldi had a chance to make it three goals, but his flying shot on goal just bounced the wrong side of the post for one behind.

#7 Sam Berry

The bottom-age midfielder provided a number of highlights in the game, able to gain separation from his opponents in midfield and hit targets forward of centre. He created a goal for Riley Baldi kicking well inside 50, and then showed off his lovely left foot again, playing on to hit-up another target later in the game inside 50. He ran hard throughout and took a courageous mark back with the flight early in the third term.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided some important run and carry for Gippsland throughout the match, and tried to break the lines by running down the middle. He took the game on in the second term with a number of bounces, avoiding opposition players along the way. With time and space Connolly’s disposal was very good, but he did get rushed on a few occasions. He worked hard throughout the game on his way to a really solid contribution.

#17 Charlie Comben

Provided a fierce attack on the ball and whilst the conditions did not suit the taller marking players, still crashed packs and provided the target inside 50. He took a towering mark in the goalsquare in the second term back with the flight and his set shot on an angle went straight through. Unfortunately he missed a couple of chances later in the game, not able to connect cleanly with a dribble attempt in the third term, rolling through for a behind, and then having a mongrel set shot attempt which also went through for a behind. Contributed well throughout with his body work and presence at congested areas.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Started slowly but worked into the game to end up with two goals from five scoring shots as well as finding plenty of the footy roaming up the ground and providing an option. He assisted Ryan Sparkes in getting a goal in the second term with a nice kick inside 50, and managed to snap his first goal thanks to loose checking from the Pioneers defenders later in the third term, receiving the quick handball from Riley Baldi near the boundary and snapping on his left. He kicked his second after the final siren, chewing up the remaining time on the clock to give the Power the win by 10 poitns. He could have finished with a big bag had he converted a few more of his chances, but got amongst it and always looked busy.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

Played through the middle and had a four quarter performance with his ability to create plays up the ground and do the tough work in the middle as well as get free to keep the ball moving in transition. He placed a kick inside 50 to Charlie Sprague early in the game and the created his own chance shortly after, with the ball touched by an opposition before he could mark it, but he showed clean hands to recover, turn around and snap around his body for a goal. His highlight passage of play was a run down the middle of the ground in the third term to set up a goal.

#12 Noah Gribble

Showed composure at both ends, winning the ball in defence then going forward and had a shot on goal late in the first quarter from a stoppage but put it to the left. A second shot shortly after from a set shot also drifted to the left, but did his best work in close. He had clean and quick hands in close, and won his fair share of the football, covering the ground well and providing an option in defence including marking from a kickout.

#15 Tanner Bruhn

Returning from a long-term injury, Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half, booting a couple of goals and could have had another one early in the game with the set shot that swung to the right from 35 metres out. He snapped a goal off a step in the last minute of the opening term, then kicked an unbelievable goal in the third term, taking a step of two and snapping under pressure from 40m out to put it straight through the middle. He had nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.

#32 Noah Gadsby

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and kept presenting along the wing. Gadsby was able to complement the rest of the midfield and had his fair share of the ball at the same time, pushing up and trying to create some run in wet conditions.

#37 Oliver Henry

After spending time in defence in recent weeks, the medium-sized utility was back inside 50 and showed off his talent when it comes to providing a target leading out. He had great hands overhead to continually remained involved in the contest, presenting at marking opportunities. He took an intercept mark early in the match but rushed his kick and it was smothered. Henry lead long up the wing to win a number of touches up the ground, but also crashed a pack in the second term and gave it off quickly to keep it moving. He did err late in the quarter opting for a quick snap rather than giving the hands off to Charlie Sprague who was free nearby. He converted a set shot after being held midway through the third term and did have the two from the game, also setting up Sprague for his fourth after wrestling the ball from two opponents and giving it over to his teammate.

#40 Jesse Clark

Just a rock in defence and had a really influential first term, before not having a great deal of work to do after that. He still remained steadfast across the remaining three quarters, but kept the Falcons moving by taking a number of intercept marks in the back 50, then clearing the danger and getting it to a teammate by switching or hitting up a short target on the wing. Lead the team well and will hope to continue the form next week against a talented Sandringham Dragons’ forward line.

#46 Henry Walsh

Performed well in the ruck against a more mobile ruck in Bigoa Nyoun, but positioned himself impressively at stoppages. Can leap high and took a strong mark in the second term before kicking long down the line. He hit the scoreboard after receiving a free kick and a 50m penalty, lining up from straight in front early in the third term and putting it through the middle. Laid a couple of good tackles defensively to work hard that way as well.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Played a bit of everywhere in the match and could not fault his effort. The potential top five pick was winning touches around the ground early starting on a wing before playing exclusively forward in the second term. He lead out of attack and presented on a number of opportunities but was well worn by opposition defenders. He moved back into defence in the third term to try and stem the flow of goals, creating run and carry off half-back but was caught once and dispossessed. He still remained a calm and composed leader, never giving in despite the mounting opposition scoreline and was able to hit-up a target on the wing with a lovely kick out of defence having to negotiate three opposition players and remaining calm to think his way through the situation.

#11 Ned Cahill

Not his biggest game playing through the midfield, but still had a number of nice moments. He showed off his agility early with Cahill turning on a dime after winning the ball at half-back and sidestepping a couple of opponents to kick long down the wing. He was able to win an important clearance midway through the second term, and used the ball well under pressure to hook a kick and hit-up Bigoa Nyuon inside 50 in the opening quarter.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The athletic ruck showed good positioning in the marking contest and gave Jack Toner an opportunity for a goal in the first quarter but he missed the set shot, but created another opportunity not long after with the smarts to intercept a pass in attacking 50, and start a chain of handballs leading to a Jordan Andrews snap goal. Nyuon also took a strong grab later in the game in defence helping out.

#47 Will Bravo

The bottom-age prospect had some nice plays, showing his quick sidestep to evade a couple of players and snap around his body to Hayden Young’s advantage early in the game. He kicked a vital goal from a set shot midway through the second term, and had a chance for another goal but his quick snap was marked by opposition defenders just out from goal.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Had a quieter first three quarters, though did take a terrific contested mark at half-back and received a 50m penalty for an opponent infringing the mark. Once the fourth term rolled around, Williams lit it up, booting three consecutive goals, albeit at a stage when the game seemed done and dusted, though his set shot routine was consistent. He booted all three to cut the deficit from 50 to 32 points in the space of 15 minutes and show what he is capable of in a quarter of football.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony did not have the biggest game on the stats sheet, but most of his touches were in the forward half with attempts on goal. Unfortunately the wet weather wrecked havoc for his goalkicking as the talented mid/forward booted three behinds, two of which came from flying shots on goal in the first and third terms, and a third miss from a set shot. Continued to present inside 50 and was really good defensively, locking the ball up in terrible conditions and keeping the ball in the Rebels’ forward half.

#6 Jack Tillig

Had the ball on a string early in the game running off half-back and through the middle, winning an impressive one-on-one against the much taller Will Christie, and remained busy when linking up in transition. Later in the game Tillig drifted back to take a strong intercept mark in the defensive 50 hole. An impressive game from the bottom-ager.

#7 Mitch Martin

Played nearly exclusively forward and managed to capitalise with three majors in a day that was difficult to kick them with the wet ball. He started with a behind from a tight angle in the opening term, and a second snap shortly after went out of bounds. He kicked with first goal late in the second term with time ticking down, and almost had a second when he got taken high close to the boundary 35m out on a set shot but it fell just short in the square. He was the beneficiary of a free kick 30m out straight in front for the density ruling late in the quarter as the siren sounded to kick his second. Late in the final term he kicked his third from a great snap and then shortly after fended off an opponent and kept the ball moving with quick hands to Jack Tillig. Finished the game with three goals from six shots so could have had a massive day in the wet.

#13 Jay Rantall

Had a really quiet first term notching up just one touch and had six by half-time before getting into his usual groove and just outrunning everyone. He had a couple of nice clearances and won a free kick early in the fourth term, delivered to a teammate then ran hard to receive a handball from the receiver of his kick and go forward. Finished with a solid 20-odd touches to restore the status quo, but his defensive work was what stood out with numerous tackles time and time again and leading the way in that department with his attitude and attack on the ball and ball carrier.

#43 Charlie Molan

The Vic Country Under 16s representative stepped up from his debut last week to have a real impact in the conditions. He played along a wing and also went in and won his own ball to be one of the more prominent four quarter performers for the winners. He pushed hard and kept it moving in transition and got back in defence to help out and clear the danger.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Did not have as many touches as some others, but the Under 16s midfielder was noticeable every time he went near it. Apart from the colourful boots, Hobbs showed clean hands in the wet and continually picked the right option when handballing to a teammate on the outside to set up scoring opportunities. Took a good intercept mark at half-forward early, and then read the ruck stoppage perfectly in the second term to win the ball on the outside and bend it around his body for a goal midway through the second term. He had another flying shot at goal in the third term but it went out on the full, then set up Matty Lloyd with a lovely lace-out pass inside 50. Had a quieter second half but remained involved with moments like that.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Did not have a huge game but kick-started the Rebels with the opening goal of the game with a strong one-on-one mark deep in attack off the first clearance and inside 50. Rentsch converted the set shot to ensure he got on the goalkickers list and while he did not add to the total, still provided a target inside 50. He showed clean hands in the forward 50 and intercepted a ball in that first term and delivered to Mitch Martin deep in the pocket.

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Spent most of his time in the forward half to show off the running defender’s versatility. He had a quiet first term with just the two touches and having to push up the ground, but soon showed his composure and leadership in the wet. He stood up and got his hands away in a tackle early, then intercepted a Matty Lloyd rebound with a good mark at half-forward before moving to the goalsquare where he rotated with Jimmy Boyer between there and the midfield. Ash almost kicked a goal from 60m with the wind carrying it past the pack of players in that second term, but the ball bounced through for a behind. He also had a great kick under pressure to hit-up a target at half-forward, always vocal and leading his side throughout the four quarters.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Enjoyed the conditions and was one of Murray’s best again in the middle, shovelling the ball out and getting his hands dirty – both figuratively and literally. He read the ruck taps well and kicked inside 50 and keep the pressure on teh opposition defenders and tried to run and carry as best he could on the slippery ground surface. He won a free kick 40m out for a tackle on an opposition player forcing him to throw it out, but Chalcraft’s set shot was touched on the line and went into the post. He put in one of his better four quarter performances to have another 20-plus disposals, working hard across the ground and taking a mark from a kickout in defence such was his ground coverage.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Set the tone defensively with a magnificent front-on tackle on Toby Mahony to bring him to ground early in the game and rotated between midfield and forward. He got involved more as the game went on and was able to pump the ball inside 50 a few times, but his defensive work was the highlight, laying tackle after tackle which was crucial in Murray staying in the contest. He kicked a late consolation goal on the run thanks to his hard running with less than five minutes to go in the game.

#25 Liam Fiore

Had a really big first term driving the ball out of the back 50 and still did some nice things after that. He takes the game on and is willing to risk it by running down the middle and breaking the lines. He used the ball well and always looked for switching play to find the open player on the outside. Played deeper in defence as the game went on but did well one-on-one.

#26 Sam Durham

Found the ball in all thirds of the ground, firing out handballs from in close, sliding in for a great mark at half-back and pumping a long kick inside 50 as part of a big first term. He continued to win the ball and get it moving forward in transition by picking up touches on the wing or at stoppages and getting it to the danger zone inside forward 50. Durham also provided some good defensive pressure with a number of tackles.

#31 Josh Rachele

The Under 16s forward was not to be outdone by his Vic Country teammates on the Rebels’ side, pushing up the ground to win the ball when required, and being an option inside 50 at times as well. He played to the conditions, often bombing it long to try and gain distance, showing off a quick release by hand in the fourth term to give a running teammate a shot on goal.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

The bottom-age forward showed a number of impressive traits playing exclusively inside 50, having Murray’s first set shot from 50m out on a slight angle but it just fell short and was rushed through. It happened again late in the game with the ball punched through for a rushed behind up the other end, while his goal came from general play in the second term, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping around his body to put Murray in front. He tried to be too inventive at one stage, kicking the ball off the ground but it went out on the full. Got talent to work with, it will just be a case of building on the consistency and lowering the eyes at times.

NAB League Boys Round 17 wash-up: Chargers snatch finals spot in thriller

THE NAB League Boys regular season came to a close on the weekend with a pair of triple-headers, finalising the all-important automatic finals qualifiers and Wildcard Round fixtures. There were plenty of standouts across the six games despite indifferent conditions, with the Oakleigh-Sandringham game living up to the pre-game hype.

WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.9 | 4.12 (36)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:
Western – A. Manton 3, A. Clarke
Northern – J. D’Intinosante 4, N. Cox 2, J. Watson, J. Lucente, S. House, J. Boyd

BEST:
Western – L. Rocci, J. Honey, D. Bolkas, C. Raak, L. Failli, J. Kellett
Northern – J. Watson, R. Sturgess, N. Cox, J. Boyd, A. Carafa, J. D’Intinosante

By: Michael Alvaro

A sense of redemption was achieved by the Northern Knights on Saturday as they got one back over the Western Jets with a 32-point win at Avalon Airport Oval. The win sees the Knights jump their opponents into sixth place on the back of superior percentage, making it that little bit sweeter on top of redeeming a Round 1 loss to the Jets. After a relatively steady opening term where Western arguably had the better of general play, Northern sprung to life with an explosive six-goal to nil second quarter to set up the win. The Knights’ dare and transition from a high-possession defensive game helped them dominate the scoreboard during middle-period of the game, rapidly building the game-defining margin. Josh D’Intinosante played a big part in that, snaring three goals in quick succession at the start of the term to break the game open. Two late goals as the heat simmered proved consolations for the Jets, who have now lost their last three games. Strong stay-at-home forward Archi Manton had all of Western’s goals for over three quarters and was the sole threat inside 50, finishing with 3.2 from seven disposals and five marks. Josh Honey (18 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s) was also terrific for the Jets with his burst from congestion, with the likes of Darcy Cassar (22 disposals, four marks) and Lucas Rocci (20 disposals, five rebounds) also standing up. But it was Northern bottom-ager Josh Watson who was best afield in a breakout game, collecting 21 disposals, four marks and booting a lovely goal. Adam Carafa led the disposal count with 23 and a lot of work in-close, while Ryan Sturgess (21 disposals, 13 marks) was terrific in the air at both ends and D’Intinosante finished with 4.2 from 13 disposals and six marks. The result now sees Northern host Bendigo in Wildcard Round, while Western will face the Knights’ 2018 Wildcard nemesis, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) next week.

CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 4.1 | 7.6 | 9.9 (63)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:
Calder – J. Sutton 3, M. Fletcher 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, J. O”Sullivan, H. Jones
Eastern – B. Hickleton 2, L. Stapleton 2, J. Rossiter, C. Downie, L. Gawel, R. Smith, J. Jaworski, M. Zalac

BEST:
Calder – D. Mott, S. Ramsay, J. Sutton, G. Thomas, J. Cardillo, M. Fletcher
Eastern – L. Stapleton, J. Ross, Z. Pretty, M. Mellis, R. Smith, M. Zalac

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges snatched a dramatic after-the-siren win over Calder on Saturday to finish the regular season a game clear on top of the ladder. Bottom-age gun Connor Downie proved the hero, slotting home cooly with his twelfth disposal after earning a 50/50 incorrect disposal free kick with just seconds left. Earlier, the Cannons chipped away well to earn leads at two of the first three breaks and looked to have done enough to hold off the Ranges, with Mason Fletcher converting as time ticked away. But in the last roll of the dice play at the end of an action-packed final minute, the Ranges broke forward quickly and created the all-important scramble inside 50 to come up trumps through Downie. The diminutive Eastern midfield trio of Mitch Mellis (26 disposals), Zak Pretty (24) and Lachie Stapleton (23, two goals) was arguably led by the latter in a typically workmanlike display through the engine room, while 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie was also influential moving forward with his 17 touches and two minor scores. For the unlucky losers, Daniel Mott was very nearly a match-winner as he lifted late through midfield to prize a bunch of clearances among his 21 disposals and six inside 50s. State combine invitee Sam Ramsay led the disposal count with 27, while Ned Gentile (20 disposals, 0.3) had some nice moments and Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals. The result had little bearing on the final ladder and looked to prove as much in the build-up, with results at the other end of the ladder poising Calder against Tasmania in Wildcard Round while Eastern can enjoy a week off.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.6 (84)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 | 14.7 (91)

GOALS:
Sandringham – F. Maginness 3, A. Perkins 3, K. Yorke 2, A. Hanrahan 2, N. Burke, M. Bergman, C. Dean
Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan 4, N. Anderson 3, C. Sharman 2, F. Elliot, C. Stone, R. McInnes, F. Macrae, N. Stathopoulos

BEST:
Sandringham – C. Watts, F. Maginness, J. Bell, N. Burke, K. Yorke, J. Voss
Oakleigh – M. Rowell, N. Anderson, R. Valentine, J. Ugle-Hagan, J. Lucas, V. Zagari

By: Michael Alvaro

Pure star power dragged the Oakleigh Chargers over the line and into third place with an incredible seven-point come-from-behind win over Sandringham Dragons in the thick of what was a finals-like atmosphere. After the Dragons looked to have sealed the game with three goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter, a Noah Anderson-inspired Oakleigh hit back in style with four majors in the following five minutes, and ended with the last six of the game altogether to snatch victory. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout the game and looked like getting on top on numerous occasions, but Oakleigh’s final thrust came at the ideal time as they charged home to claim the remarkable win. Anderson’s game-winning 24 disposals and three goals were arguably matched for importance by the efforts of Matt Rowell (34 disposals, seven tackles) – who hardly put a foot wrong – and skipper Trent Bianco (28 disposals). The high-marking forward duo of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Cooper Sharman also shone, combining for six goals and a couple of highlight reel moments. For the Dragons, Finn Maginness did his level best to drag his side over the line with 17 disposals and three goals, with Darcy Chirgwin (30 disposals, seven tackles) doing the tough stuff through midfield and Angus Hanrahan influential on the outside (23 disposals, two goals). Bottom-ager Archie Perkins was another to impress with his three goals from 11 disposals, while Corey Watts put in a mammoth effort in defence with 12 disposals, six marks and seven rebound 50s. With an absolute raft of combine invitees and representative players taking the field, it was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent memory and truly lived up to the pre-game hype as a number of top-end stars stood up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 9.9 (63)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 5.4 | 6.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:
Bendigo – R. Wilson 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Mitchell 2, J. Treacy, N. Walsh, T. Dow
Gippsland – M. McGarrity 2, F. Phillips 2, R. Baldi 2, C. Comben, S. Flanders, T. Hourigan, R. Sparkes

BEST:
Bendigo – R. Wilson, B. Rowles, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Ginnivan, B. Worme
Gippsland – R. Baldi, T. Hourigan, F. Phillips, R. Sparkes, L. Connolly, R. Angwin

By: Peter Williams

In a day of upsets, Bendigo Pioneers almost set the tone with an impressive performance against top two side, Gippsland Power. The Pioneers regained a number of players back to the line-up, including Thomson Dow who returned from school football, but were missing the injured Brodie Kemp. Despite Caleb Serong being the only key omission from the premiership contending Power, the Pioneers jumped them in the first quarter to boot three goals to one, two of which came from free kicks and another from a turnover as the home side looked to be disciplined on the day. With Bendigo booting the first goal of the second term, it looked like the Pioneers might start to run away with it, before Gippsland piled on five of the next seven over the two quarters to keep within a point at both breaks. The last quarter was topsy turvy with lead changes galore, and it took until Fraser Phillips‘ goal after the siren to relieve the nerves of the Power supporters. Riley Baldi was the clear standout performer from the Power, booting two goals and could have had a third to go with his 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and seven tackles, while Tye Hourigan was good in defence before kicking what almost looked like the winning goal late, in attack. He had 20 disposals, 11 marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal on the day. Leo Connolly (22 disposals, seven marks) and Phillips (2.3 from 19 disposals and four marks) also showed signs. For the Pioneers, Dow showed his class in patches with 24 disposals, six marks and a goal, while Ben Worme (21 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and four rebounds), Riley Ironside (26 disposals, six marks, five rebounds and three tackles) and Riley Wilson (21 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and two goals) were the Pioneers’ best.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.5 | 8.7 | 14.8 | 15.9 (99)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.3 | 3.9 | 5.12 | 9.14 (68)

GOALS:
Geelong – C. Sprague 6, O. Henry 2, T. Bruhn 2, C. Lazzaro, K. Skene, C. Karpala, H. Walsh, S. Fonseca-Hateley
Dandenong – L. Williams 3, J. Toner, N. Heath, J. Andrews, W. Howe, W. Lewis, W. Bravo

BEST:
Geelong – C. Sprague, T. Bruhn, H. Walsh, C. Lazzaro, J. Dahlhaus, K. Rayner
Dandenong – W. Bravo, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, L. Scott, J. Toner, B. Kuipers

By: Peter Williams

In what was clearly Geelong’s best performance of the season, the 2019 wooden spooners showed they might just have life in their season yet with a strong 31-point win over Dandenong Stingrays. While the Falcons have to contend with the star-studded Sandringham Dragons this weekend, they played a commanding three quarters against the Stingrays before Dandenong booted four of the five last goals to cut the deficit back to a reasonable margin. The Falcons had some troubles with accuracy early, while the Stingrays found the same issues in the second term, booting 1.6 to the Falcons’ 5.2 to ultimately be the difference with Geelong heading into the main break 28 points in front. They did not stop there however, as the Falcons added another six goals to the Stingrays’ two, effectively ending the contest at a game-high 50 points. Lachlan Williams had a last quarter to remember with three consecutive goals – not that it did enough to turn the momentum – while Charlie Sprague said enough was enough booting his sixth goal of the game late to ensure the Falcons had a major in the final term. To the final break, Sprague had booted the same amount of goals as the Stingrays side, eventually finishing with a clear best-on performance of 16 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and 6.1 for the day. Jesse Clark was a rock in defence with 23 disposals, six marks, nine rebounds and three tackles, while bottom agers Noah Gribble (19 disposals, four marks three inside 50s and three behinds) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and a goal) were also impressive. Assisting Sprague in attack was Oliver Henry with two goals from 12 touches and always presenting, while bottom-ager Tanner Bruhn showed no signs that he was coming off a long-term injury, booting two majors and could have had a third, with 16 disposals, two marks, four tackles and six inside 50s. For Dandenong, William Lewis had 24 disposals, two marks, four tackles, nine inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the best across four quarters, while Luca Goonan had a superb first half to finish with 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles and three inside 50s. Jack Toner (20 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Hayden Young (17 disposals, three marks three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles) tried hard, while Cody Weightman had his moments, finishing with 16 disposals and three behinds.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 8.11 (59)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 5.14 (44)

GOALS:
GWV – M. Martin 3, M. Lloyd, J. Rentsch, F. Marris, R. Polkinghorne, B. Hobbs
Murray – J. Boyer, T. Panuccio, D. Bedendo, B. Kelly, W. Chandler

BEST:
GWV – C. Molan, M. Martin, C. Craig-Peters, J. Rantall, F. Marris, P. Glanford
Murray – N. Irvine, S. Durham, L. Fiore, J. Chalcraft, C. McLeod, B. Kelly

By: Peter Williams

Given the pouring rain had set in midway through the last game, by the time the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers took the field, the ground could have doubled up for the swimming pool next to Queen Elizabeth Oval. The game itself was not one either side will be reaching for the highlight tapes too quickly, as the conditions made it a genuine slog and difficult for sides to firstly mark the ball inside 50, and secondly hit the scoreboard. Players were slipping and sliding in the mud, with one Rebels play indicative of the weather, going for a run through the middle but as he went to kick slipped in the mud and slid a metre of two along the ground. When it was all said and done however, it was the Rebels who managed to kick away in the second half, booting five consecutive goals to blow the margin out to 29 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, before a couple of late majors to the Bushrangers cut the final deficit to just 15. With 13.25 between the sides, it could have been a lot worse, but at least the sun decided to show up in the last 10 minutes of the match, instead blinding the players who were already soaked thanks to Mother Nature. Cooper Craig-Peters had a game-high 24 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebounds and eight tackles to relish in the conditions for the Rebels, while Jack Tillig finished with 20 disposals, six marks, four tackles and six rebounds. A frequent sufferer of leather poisoning, Jay Rantall had just one touch in the first term and six by the main break, but produced a big second half to end with 20 disposals and a massive 18 tackles in the win. Mitch Martin impressed up forward with three goals from 17 disposals and four marks, as well as a couple of other opportunities, while 16-year-olds Charlie Molan (17 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Ben Hobbs (12 disposals, nine tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) stood tall, as did bottom-ager Nick Stevens (17 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and four tackles). For the Bushrangers, Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals), Cam Wild (21) and Dylan Clarke (20) unsurprisingly loved the wet weather, going in hard and winning the ball in close, while Lachlan Ash overcame a similarly slow start to Rantall with just two disposals in the first term to finish the game with 19 playing in all areas of the ground. Josh Rachele presented well up forward with 19 disposals and four inside 50s, while bottom-age forward Dominic Bedendo had 13 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 16

EASTERN Ranges and Geelong Falcons might sit at either end of the NAB League Boys ladder, but both were featured heavily in the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week for Round 16. Both the Ranges and Falcons had a round-high four nominations each in the Team of the Week, while other winners, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Oakleigh Chargers had three players each, as did narrow losers Bendigo Pioneers and Dandenong Stingrays. Tasmania Devils and Western Jets both had two players each in the side to round out the 24-player squad decided over four games.

Geelong Falcons broke through for just their second win of the season, which was led by a number of bottom-agers including Oliver Henry and Cameron Fleeton who held up the defence well down on the Apple Isle. Also returning to the side but having more of a midfield presence was co-captain Jesse Clark who made the side along with overager, Charlie Sprague. At the other end of the table, Eastern secured a narrow win over Dandenong, which was led by captain James Ross who was strong in defence and got forward to boot two goals, as well as Team of the Week regulars Mitch Mellis and Zak Pretty in midfield, and Billy McCormack through the ruck and pushing forward.

Oakleigh Chargers’ Lochlan Jenkins won our Player of the Week for Round 16 and was named in midfield along with teammates Reef McInnes and Vincent Zagari who both impressed, while their opponents Western Jets saw the classy Josh Honey and five-goal forward Archi Manton make Team of the Week this week. Rounding out the back six are Dandenong Stingrays’ duo Clayton Gay and Hayden Young, while Ned Cahill showed impressive signs up forward.

Up at MARS Stadium on Sunday, Jay Rantall was superb again for GWV Rebels through the midfield, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Under 16s key forward Josh Rentsch were also named in our Team of the Week. Bendigo Pioneers had the three players as well in the tight game with Jack Ginnivan making it once again after four goals, while Josh Treacy was strong up forward too, and Aaron Gundry solid through the ruck. Rounding out the team is Tasmania’s Oliver Davis and Sam Banks who were among the best for the Devils in their loss to the Falcons.