Tag: jesse clark

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Image: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 2

THREE Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League sides remain undefeated after two rounds of action, while a further three are still on the hunt for their first set of premiership points in season 2020/21. Palmerston was the biggest winner out of Round 2, but it is Darwin who currently holds top spot after another spirited victory. All that, and more in our Premier League weekend wrap.

PALMERSTON | 5.1 | 13.4 | 18.10 | 21.15 (141)
TIWI BOMBERS | 1.1 | 4.4 | 5.6 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 5, T. Kunoth 4, C. Williams 2, J. Berry 2, E. Guthrie 2, F. Wilson, M. Rankine, K. Groves, M. Dennis, M. Chester, J. Harvey
Tiwi: H. Puruntatameri 4, N. Ebinger 2, D. Munkara 2, N. Scagliarini, P. Kantilla

BEST:

Palmerston: M. Dennis, E. Guthrie, N. Lockyer Jnr, C. Williams, H. Brown, L. Flanagan
Tiwi: D. Munkara, M. De Wit, R. Puruntatameri, N. Scagliarini

Palmerston recorded its first win of the season on Saturday, consigning Tiwi to consecutive defeats with a 73-point thrashing at TIO Stadium. The Magpies’ formidable-looking mix of mainstays and new recruits clicked at the second time of asking, pouring on 13 goals to the Bombers’ four in the first half en route to a 21.15 (141) to 10.8 (68) scoreline.

Fresh off a four-goal haul in Round 1, Nigel Lockyer Jnr went one-better with five this time out to lead Palmerston’s attack. He was supported well by four majors from Toshie Kunoth, while former-Darwin midfielder Chris Williams was one of three Magpies to snare two goals. Eric Guthrie was one of them, named among his side’s best behind prolific ruckman Matthew Dennis, who also found the big sticks.

Harley Puruntatameri forged Tiwi’s main goalscoring response with a bag of four, while best afield Bomber Dion Munkara managed two. Boom recruit Nathan Scagliarini again proved a class above and booted an eye-catching goal on the run, while fellow Victorian Mason De Wit was also prominent in the loss. Currently sitting bottom of the ladder, there is still plenty of time for Tiwi to catch the leading pack.

NIGHTCLIFF | 4.1 | 8.1 | 12.3 | 13.4 (82)
WARATAH | 0.5 | 4.9 | 7.11 | 9.15 (69)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: K. Emery 6, C. Ilett 2, J. Butcher 2, K. Niki, M. Bricknell, A. Jorgensen
Waratah: J. Sutton 3, J. McGrath 2, S. Godden, J. Carmichael, K. Kantilla, A. Ankers

BEST:

Nightcliff: K. Emery, N. Brown, T. Boyd, J. Peris, C. Ilett, M. McGregor
Waratah: A. Moloney, C. Searle, J. Sutton, A. Kirby, D. Collis

The art of conversion proved a deciding factor as Nightcliff maintained its undefeated premiership defence on Saturday, defeating Waratah 13.4 (82) to 9.15 (69). In front of a home crowd at Nightcliff Oval, the Tigers started brightly with four goals to the Warriors’ one opening term, maintaining a lead throughout to come home 13-point winners despite managing seven less scoring shots than their opponents.

Former Palmerston forward Kyle Emery showcased his dynamism inside attacking 50 with a game-high six goals, while Tigers veteran Cam Ilett and ex-Port Adelaide forward John Butcher each contributed two. Nathan Brown was again strong down back, as newcomer Tom Boyd further proved his worth with another solid outing.

Victorian Jake Sutton led Waratah’s scoring charge with three majors, while Jae McGrath (two) was the only other Warrior to bag multiple goals. Prominent Port Melbourne defender Callum Searle continued his fine start to life in the NTFL, but it was Alexander Moloney who claimed best afield honours for his side. Tahs still sit within the finals places at 1-1 after a solid showing against the competition’s benchmark, while the Tigers sit second via percentage at 2-0.

DARWIN BUFFALOES | 2.4 | 4.6 | 9.9 | 12.11 (83)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS | 3.1 | 6.4 | 7.6 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS:

Darwin: B. Foster 5, I. Palmer 3, M. Campbell 2, J. Clarke, J. Stokes
Southern Districts: B. Rolfe 3, W. Farrer 2, M. Bowden, L. Kiel, D. Staunton

BEST:

Darwin: J. Clarke, B. Foster, J. Collinson, M. Campbell, I. Palmer
Southern Districts: L. Kiel, J. Clark, J. Farrar, Z. Smith, K. Jones, C. McAdam

Darwin continues to exceed expectations, claiming a 2-0 start to season 2020/21 with a 12.11 (83) to 8.8 (56) victory over Southern Districts on Saturday evening. The Buffs overcame deficits at the opening two breaks to edge ahead in the third term, before extending their lead with a second-consecutive three-goal to one term to run out 27-point winners at TIO Stadium.

Goalkicking ace Brodie Foster was again right in the thick of the action with five goals, emphatically backing up his bag of six in Round 1. Young gun Ishmael Palmer was another to continue his scoring form with three majors, while classy veteran Matt Campbell added another two to his season tally. Jalen Clarke was among the best Buffs, with Joey Collinson another to perform strongly as new coach Cameron Stokes keeps his perfect record in tact.

In a losing effort, Luke Kiel was again terrific for the Crocs, while 2019 Geelong Falcons captain Jesse Clark proved his worth on debut. The likes of Jonathan Farrar and Zach Smith also stood up as Lionel Ogden celebrated his 150th game, and the goalkicking efforts were led once more by Billy Rolfe (three goals) and Will Farrer (two). After consecutive close losses, the Crocs boast the best percentage of the sides sitting 0-2, falling just outside the finals placings.

ST MARY’S | 4.6 | 6.6 | 8.8 | 10.9 (69)
WANDERERS 1.1 | 4.4 | 7.8 | 14.11 (95)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Calder 2, H. Williams 2, J. O’Brien, T. Long, J. Landt, J. Musgrove, T. Gilbert, D. Walters
Wanderers: B. Eddy 6, S. Mannagh 2, S. Bates, M. Mummery, A. Motlop, D. McFarlane, B. Hodgson, B. Culhane

BEST:

St Mary’s: R. Clarke, H. Williams, J. Long, L. Taylor, L. Jellyman-Turner, T. Saunders
Wanderers: B. Newman, B. Eddy, W. Williams, B. McLean, S. Mannagh

Wanderers continued its winning form to start the season, knocking off 2019/2020 Grand Finalist St Mary’s in the round’s final fixture on Saturday night. The Muk Muks were jumped at the off, and trailed at each of the first three breaks before flicking the switch with seven goals to the Saints’ two to run away 14.11 (95) to 10.9 (69) winners. The dominant final term showcased Wanderers’ scoring power, while also proving its finals credentials given the opposition.

Brett Eddy was among the goals in a big way with six majors, with VFL coup Shaun Mannagh (two) the only other Eagle to snag multiple goals. Brodie Newman was again outstanding in the winning effort, as the Calder Cannons product was named best afield in front of the aforementioned pair, Warwick Williams, and Braedon McLean. Crafty goalsneaks Brayden Culhane and Michael Mummery also found the big sticks.

Harry Williams was joined by Jackson Calder in contributing two goals to St Mary’s cause, with veteran Raphael Clarke named his side’s best afield. Lachlan Taylor and Lucas Jellyman-Turner were again terrific for the Saints, while Victorians Jack Landt, Dylan Landt, and Liam Fiore showed signs in their NTFL debuts. While the Eagles are soaring, St Mary’s already looks off the pace, with plenty of catching up to do.

Featured Image: Wanderers’ Brodie Newman gets a kick away | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Premier League season preview

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

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

CLUB-BY-CLUB:

Darwin:

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

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

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

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

Nightcliff:

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

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

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

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

Palmerston:

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

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

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

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

Southern Districts:

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

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

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

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

St Mary’s:

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

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

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

Tiwi Bombers:

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

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

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

Wanderers:

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

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

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

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

Waratah:

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

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

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

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

Classic Contests: Falcons down Swans to earn first win for 2019

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Geelong Falcons and Sydney Swans Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock just over a year to last season, when the two sides met as part of Swans’ five-game NAB League cameo.

2019 NAB League, Round 6
Sunday May 5, 12:00pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 6.5 | 8.8 | 12.12 (84)
SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS:

Geelong: O. Henry 4, W. Batson 2, C. Brauer 2, S. Ham, W. Kilpatrick, C. Seymour, J. Makuey
Sydney:
K. McGrath 2, E. Gulden, L. Swaney, B. Campbell, H. Ellem, S. Gaden

BEST:

Geelong: J. Clark, C. Harris, C. Karpala, L. Smith, S. Bourke, O. Henry
Sydney:
A. Watling, E. Gulden, R. van Huisstede, M. Geddes, L. Parks, B. Campbell

2019/20 AFL Academy members in action:

Geelong: Jesse Clark, Henry Walsh, Noah Gribble, Oliver Henry
Sydney:
Hamish Ellem, Luke Parks, Josh Rayner, Braeden Campbell, Errol Gulden, Marco Rossmann

The Sydney Swans Academy had the opportunity to take out the NAB League Academy Series when they took on Geelong in Round 6 of the 2019 season. At a flawless 4-0 in their cameo to that point, the Swans needed only another win or draw to clinch top spot among their northern counterparts. The Falcons were winless at 0-3-1, with their sole points coming in a draw to reigning premier, Dandenong.

Adding to their lack of winning form, the Falcons would also go in without the likes of Cooper Stephens and Tanner Bruhn through their respective long-term injuries. Stephens’ absence left Jesse Clarke with the sole captaincy responsibilities, though the top and over-age representation was high. Sydney came in at relative full strength, only missing Jackson Barling from its AFL Academy group.

On neutral territory in Sandringham, the Swans were able to register the same amount of scoring shots (1.3) to Geelong (2.2) in the opening term, but conceded a quarter time deficit despite going ahead twice. After reclaiming the ascendancy 15 minutes into the first period, the Falcons never looked back. The Victorians had an answer for each test the Swans threw out, most importantly in the final term as they stretched a five-point buffer out to 31 by the final siren. Not only did the result signal Geelong’s first win for the campaign, but it also allowed the Gold Coast SUNS Academy to take out Academy Series gold from under Sydney’s noses.

Skipper, Clark was named best afield for Geelong, accumulating a game-high 25 disposals which included six marks and eight rebound 50s. A bottom-aged Oliver Henry booted four goals in a signal of intention for this year’s draft, while Charlie Brauer and Will Batson also booted multiple majors (two each). Small midfielders Charlie Harris and Chas Karpala were others to be named among the Falcons’ best half-dozen players.

Aidan Watling took out best afield honours for Sydney with his 15-disposal effort, while bottom-aged wombo combo Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell contributed 22 touches and a goal apiece. Max Geddes (17 disposals, nine rebound 50s) was also around the mark for the Swans, while Sam Thorne racked up a team-high 24 touches – his best effort across the five games.

The win didn’t exactly kickstart a Falcons resurgence in 2019, with the country region only managing to add two more victories to its season tally. The Falcons finished the year 15th on the extended ladder at 3-11-1, and lost to Sandringham by 103 points in Wildcard Round. The Swans were beaten out by Gold Coast via percentage as far as the Northern Academies go, finishing with a respectable 4-1 record.

Featured Image: George Salpigtidis/AFL Photos/Getty Images

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 17 – Chargers, Ranges win thrillers amid dual triple-headers

ROUND 17 of the 2019 NAB League was split into two triple-headers, with the six Metropolitan sides going head-to-head at Avalon Airport Oval on the Saturday, while Queen Elizabeth Oval hosted the six Country regions on Sunday, and Tasmania enjoyed a bye. Top three challengers Oakleigh and Eastern won out in thrillers, with a certain number two pick dragging the Chargers home, while a gun Next-Generation Academy prospect snatched four points for the Ranges with a kick after the siren.

But the weekend’s action started with a clash between Western and Northern, a game which saw the Knights handle the conditions better to run our 32-point winners. The Jets could not take full toll of their promising start, booting 1.4 to Northern’s 2.2 in the first quarter, before the latter pulled away with six goals to nil in term two to set up a game-defining margin. There would be little scoring after that, with the sides combining for just five goals after half-time.

The competition’s two leading goalkickers went head-to-head, with Josh D’Intinosante booting four goals to Archi Manton‘s three, but the Jets forward taking out top honours for his season tally. Promising bottom-ager Nikolas Cox added two for Northern, while Adam Carafa (23 disposals) and Darcy Cassar (22) led the ball winning stakes for their respective sides. Josh Watson enjoyed a breakout game with 21 touches and a goal, and in a cool quirk, Carlton draftees Sam Philp and Josh Honey competed on opposite sides shortly before becoming teammates.

Things really ramped up in the following fixture, as Connor Downie‘s post-siren set shot helped Eastern nab a four-point win over Calder from nowhere. The Cannons looked to have poked their noses in front at the ideal time as the lead changed hands on multiple occasions throughout the match, but a two-goal margin in the final term was quickly reigned back. In a last roll of the dice play, Downie would win a free kick inside 50 and sink the resultant shot to break Calder hearts and seal the minor premiership.

Eastern’s Lachlan Stapleton was massive in the clutch moments, and finished with 23 disposals and two goals in a terrific display of heart. Calder’s Jake Sutton beat him out in the goalkicking department with three majors, while Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (26) led all comers in terms of disposals amid their back-and-forth midfield battle. Essendon’s Harrison Jones also looked lively up forward, booting a goal from 17 disposals and four marks.

If spectators thought that game would be the peak of entertainment for the afternoon, they were in for a treat when Oakleigh and Sandringham took the field. 11 eventual draftees were in action, including the top two selections, in what was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent history. After Finn Maginness booted the Dragons out to a 29-point lead early in the final term, Noah Anderson stepped up with back-to-back majors to help put the Chargers in front, before Cooper Sharman sealed the remarkable comeback to see Oakleigh home by seven points.

The cream truly rose to the top, with Anderson’s match-winning efforts seeing him finish with 24 disposals and three goals. Potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was spectacular in the air in his four-goal display, while Matt Rowell wowed again with a mammoth 34 touches. Darcy Chirgwin led the way in that department for Sandringham with 30 disposals, but it was Maginness who stole the show with three goals from his 17 touches. Bottom-ager Archie Perkins also snagged a hat-trick of majors, as the wealth of talent on show made for scintillating viewing.

Fast forward to Sunday and switching over to the Country regions, Gippsland opened the show with a 10-point win over hosts, Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. In another heartbreaker, the Pioneers led at every break, albeit by slim margins, but faltered at the last as the Power surged home with 4.5 to the home side’s 3.0. The quality was evident in this clash too, with eight future draftees running out for their respective sides.

Among them, Fraser Phillips was one of six players on either team to boot two goals, also adding three behinds from his 19 disposals. Riley Baldi put in a terrific shift with a game-high 27 disposals and two majors, while Thomson Dow was among Bendigo’s best ball winners with 24 touches and a goal. Charlie Comben showed promising signs in his ruck/forward role, collecting 12 disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, and 1.3, while a pair of Pioneers bottom-agers also fared well – with Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell both earning multiple goals.

Geelong notched just its third win of the season, accounting for reigning premier Dandenong to the tune of 31 points in a convincing effort. The Falcons shot to a five-goal buffer at half time and never looked back, extending the margin to an even 50 points heading into the final break, and coasting home despite the Stingray’s best efforts to claw back the deficit. Remarkably, the Falcons only registered one more scoring shot than their opponents, with their accurate 15.9 proving the difference when compared to Dandenong’s 9.14.

Charlie Sprague capped off his over-age season with a bang, booting six goals as the Falcons’ spearhead. Bottom-age jets Oliver Henry and Tanner Bruhn also contributed two majors each, while Dandenong’s Lachlan Williams (three goals) was his side’s most potent mover. Another 19-year-old, Will Lewis led all comers with 24 disposals, followed by Geelong captain Jesse Clark on 23. The likes of Hayden Young and Cody Weightman ran out for Dandenong, but could do little to thwart the Falcons’ emerging talents from taking hold.

The final game of the 2019 regular season saw the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels down Murray by 15 points in a relatively low-scoring affair, with neither side able to take full advantage of their opportunities. It mattered little in the end for the Rebels, who produced a greater wealth of chances throughout the day, while the Bushrangers could only manage a goal per the first three terms.

Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin snagged a game-high three goals from 17 disposals as the only multiple goalkicker afield, showcasing all of his individual quality. Fellow Rebel Cooper Craig-Peters led all comers with 24 disposals, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals) and Cam Wild (21) fared best for the Bushies. Draftees Jay Rantall and Lachlan Ash were kept to 20 and 19 touches respectively, while a bunch of Under 16 talent shone through for both sides.

Classic Contests: Devils take Falcons down to the wire

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matt McGuinness 
Geelong: 
Nil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 16 – Chargers close, but Ranges wrap up minor premiership

THE PENULTIMATE round of last year’s NAB League season saw Oakleigh and Eastern secure big wins en route to their respective top three finishes, with the Chargers going a game clear in third while the Ranges all but secured the minor premiership with a week left to play. In a shortened, four-game set of fixtures, Geelong made the trip down to Tasmania and Bendigo made its way over to Ballarat to complete a couple of close encounters, with only one game decided by more than seven points. Meanwhile, Calder, Gippsland, Murray, Northern, and Sandringham all enjoyed the bye.

The biggest margin of the round belonged to Oakleigh, as the Chargers coasted to a 22-point win over Western at Box Hill City Oval – the first of four unique venues used. After conceding a one-goal deficit to the main break, Oakleigh turned on the jets with six goals in the third term, while keeping Western scoreless. It made for a defining lead, as the Jets could only claw back to within four kicks after being as far as 39 points adrift.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton solidified his standing atop the list with a five-goal haul for Western, accounting for almost half his side’s score. Nicholas Stathopoulos booted three majors for Oakleigh, leading a quartet of multiple goalkickers which included 16-year-old debutant, Alex Lukic. Bottom-age guns Lochlan Jenkins (35 disposals, one goal) and Reef McInnes (28 disposals) bossed the midfield, while Carlton rookie Josh Honey was Western’s leading ball winner with 24 touches in response.

Continuing the action on Saturday’s triple header, Geelong headed down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in a contest which went down to the wire. A Chris Seymour sealer with under three minutes left helped the Falcons edge home by seven points, after leading by as much as three goals in the second and third terms. The scores were levelled three times in an enthralling final quarter, with Tasmania twice taking the lead but unable to hold on. It was a decisive turnaround in form for Geelong, who had previously made a habit of falling away towards the end of games.

Charlie Sprague added another three-goal haul to his season tally, combining with Max Annandale (two goals) to make up over half of their side’s total of eight majors. The versatile defensive pairing of Oliver Henry (24 disposals, 11 marks) and Cam Fleeton (21 disposals) worked well for Geelong, with captain Jesse Clark (21 disposals, one goal) thriving through midfield. Fleeton’s worked doubled with a shutdown role on Jackson Callow, keeping the dangerous forward to one goal after a lively start. Oliver Davis was again Tasmania’s prime ball winner, accumulating 23 touches while North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness trailed closely with 20.

Saturday’s final fixture was another close one, with Eastern again finding a way to win, this time against a strong Dandenong lineup. The Stingrays weren’t quite able to snap their six-game losing run despite leading at two of the four breaks, with Eastern’s inaccurate tally of 5.16 (46) just enough to trump Dandenong’s 6.5 (41) at Shepley Oval. The win would put Eastern within touching distance of the minor premiership, with the four points proving crucial after a loss to Oakleigh in Round 15.

Ranges skipper James Ross swung up forward to good effect, booting two goals from 20 disposals, while Ned Cahill and Corey Ellison booted multiple goals for Dandenong. Stingrays gun Hayden Young was influential with 26 touches, behind teammate Jack Toner and Eastern’s Zak Pretty, who managed 27 each to lead all comers. The ever-reliable Mitch Mellis (24 disposals) was also lively for the winners, with 16-year-old jet Tyler Sonsie (20 disposals, five marks, six tackles) also enjoying a strong outing.

The sole Sunday fixture for the weekend saw Greater Western Victoria (GWV) take on the Bendigo Pioneers on home turf at Mars Stadium, with the home ground advantage enough for a four-point win in what was a high-scoring affair compared to the remainder of the round. The Rebels worked back from a five-goal deficit after half time, cutting it to three points with a quarter left to play, and eventually sneaking home via an Izaac Grant major at the death.

Bottom-ager Jack Ginnivan booted four goals in the losing effort as one of three Bendigo multiple goalkickers, while Grant and Collingwood draftee Jay Rantall made up half of the Rebels’ quartet to have claimed two snags each. Cooper Craig-Peters led all comers with 22 disposals for GWV, while Riley Wilson was the sole Pioneer to crack the 20-disposal mark.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 6 – Academies bow out, Stingrays go top

FANS, recruiters, and pundits alike were treated to another eight games in Round 6 of the 2019 NAB League, with the early-May weekend serving as the last for each of the five Northern Academies’ cameos. Reigning premier Dandenong broke clear as the sole undefeated side left, while Gold Coast was crowned the Academy Series victor via percentage after Sydney lost its only game for the season. A thrilling finals preview also went down as Gippsland and Eastern battled it out, with the Power getting the better of the eventual premiers on home turf.

The round kicked off in North Hobart, with Tasmania playing host to the heavily-depleted Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday morning. It was the visitors who managed to scrape home in a nail-biting, low-scoring slog by the slimmest of margins, overcoming a half-time deficit to keep the Devils at bay. Winning skipper Trent Bianco, the only national draftee afield dominated with 42 disposals as he stepped-up in the absence of some key personnel.

Fellow top-ager Josh May was also influential with 28 touches, while bottom-aged midfielder Fraser Elliot had it 23 times, and Thomas Lovell put in his best shift for the season with four majors. For the Devils, Harrison Ireland was named best for his work as an undersized ruck, with bottom-age gun Oliver Davis getting to work at ground level with a team-high 21 touches, and fellow Allies Hub member Sam Collins not far behind on 18.

The GWS Academy and Murray Bushrangers went to battle on the New South Wales-Victorian border at midday, with the GIANTS coming away with their second win from five attempts. It was a well drawn out win for the ‘away’ side in its home state, leading at every break but being made to earn the 11-point victory. In another game headlined by the dominance of a future draftee, Tom Green amassed 37 touches for the GIANTS in a mammoth performance.

Over-agers Jeromy Lucas (33 disposals) and Ed Perryman (31) were not far behind, while Harry Grant put in a big shift for 3.2 from his 23 touches, and 2020 19-year-old hopefuls Matt McGrory and Liam Delahunty also got busy. Green’s current GIANTS teammate Lachlan Ash collected 27 touches and booted a goal as Murray’s skipper, aided by Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild who matched his ball-winning output. Jimmy Boyer also impressed with three goals from over 20 disposals, while former GWS Academy member Charlie Byrne had 20 touches exactly.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back down to Victoria, as Calder and Bendigo met at Highgate Reserve. It was the Cannons’ day in another low-scoring affair, leading relatively comfortably at every break to eek out a 16-point win over the Pioneers on home turf. The leading Calder draft candidate to that point, Daniel Mott led the way with 36 disposals and a goal in a game which featured just two eventual draftees.

Jacob Martin enjoyed a breakout performance, racking up 36 touches of his own alongside Mott, while skipper Brodie Newman had 21 from defence and Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay had 16 on the same line. James Schischka was Bendigo’s leading ball winner with 20 disposals, with Sydney draftee Brady Rowles collecting his season-high haul of 17 in tricky conditions.

Heading up north to South Pine in the Sunshine State, Gold Coast took out the overall Academy Series with a well-earned 14-point victory over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The visitors pushed the talented academy prospects all the way despite trailing for the game’s entirety, with captain and SUNS AFL rookie Connor Budarick capping off a stellar month with another terrific performance.

His 23 disposals led all comers, with the exciting Hewago Paul Oea managing 19 and two goals, while Ashton Crossley provided good fold in midfield with 19 touches. Bottom-ager Max Pescud booted a game-high four majors, matched by Rebels’ Nick Caris in his second consecutive four-goal game. 2020 over-age hopeful Isaac Wareham notched two goals of his own, with fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Martin also impressing, but Jay Rantall kept quiet at just 14 disposals.

Completing the South Pine double-header were the Brisbane Lions Academy and Dandenong Stingrays, with the visitors claiming a resounding 71-point win on their travels up north. After a low-scoring first half, the Stingrays clicked into gear after the main break with 10 goals to one to comfortably ensure they would remain undefeated and atop the NAB League ladder.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn stood tall in the defeat with a typically professional 32-disposal performance, with fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland (26 disposals) also returning a good shift. 19-year-old Tom Matthews matched Cumberland’s effort, with bottom-agers Will Tasker and Tahj Abberley also impressing. For Dandenong, new Bulldog Cody Weightman bagged three goals, while fellow draftees Hayden Young (28 disposals), Sam De Koning (17, seven marks) Ned Cahill (21, 1 goal) strutted their stuff. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was another to catch the eye, booting two goals from 21 touches.

A touch earlier and back in Victoria, the Geelong Falcons proved too good for the previously undefeated Sydney Swans Academy in their clash on neutral territory, upsetting the northern hopefuls with a 31-point win. The home side’s four-goal to one fourth term sealed the final margin, with the contest a touch tighter to that point.

It was the bottom-ager who stole the show in this clash, as Ollie Henry booted four goals for the Falcons alongside Charlie Brauer‘s two, while Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden both managed 22 disposals and a goal each. Geelong captain Jesse Clark was the leading ball winner on the ground with 25 touches, followed closely by Sydney top-ager Sam Thorne (24).

Not much may have been expected of the Gippsland-Eastern clash coming into the season, but it proved to be a belting finals preview as the Power took out the four points in Morwell. The game was tight the whole way through, with the high-quality contest ending in a 10-point triumph to the home side.

As had been the case in previous fixtures, the cream rose to the top as Sam Flanders (25 disposals, two goals), Brock Smith (27 disposals), and Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) all enjoyed fantastic outings for the winners. The midfield trio of Zak Pretty (28 disposals), Lachlan Stapleton (28), and Mitch Mellis (21) was just as handy for Eastern, while forwards Bailey White and Ben Hickleton notched three goals apiece.

The final game of the round saw a seventh venue used in Ikon Park, as the Northern Knights held off a fast-finishing Northern Territory Thunder Academy. A six-goal third term saw the Knights double their goal tally, and it set up a match-defining margin as they went on to salute to the tune of 38 points. The NT’s campaign would finish winless, but not for a lack of trying and talent.

Josh D’Intinosante and Jackson Davies both had a good amount of ball while also booting two goals each for the winners, while 2020 Vic Metro Hub member Liam McMahon also managed two goals from his 15 disposals and eight marks. Ben Jungfer was the Thunder’s leading ball winner with 22 touches, but it was Malcolm Rosas Jnr who shone with 21 and two goals, while Joel Jeffrey found the ball 21 times, Beau O’Connell 19, and Brodie Lake 16.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 5 – Dragons, Ranges humble Academies to go top

ROUND 5 of the 2019 NAB League season saw the Victorian mainstays peg back their Northern visitors in an action packed nine-game weekend. Sandringham and Eastern delivered big wins over the two Queensland academies at Trevor Barker Oval, while the Sydney Academy won strongly to remain undefeated alongside Dandenong (3-0-1).

But first to take the field were the Bendigo Pioneers and Northern Knights at Queen Elizabeth Oval, with the visitors taking four points back to Preston after trailing at every other break. After streaming ahead by 17 points at half-time with double the goal tally, the Pioneers ran out of legs to be held to just one major in the second half as the Knights snuck ahead to come away five-point victors.

As was a theme in Round 5, both sides were weakened but had some solid talent running around from each age bracket. Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier had plenty of the ball while also hitting the scoreboard, while Lachlan Potter created some zip on the outside. Top-age Pioneers James Schischka, Ben Worme, and Logan Fitzgerald all had 25 touches, while bottom-age jet Jack Ginnivan showed promise with 20 and a goal.

Sam Philp was the best ball winner of the 2019 draftees, earning 17 touches for Northern, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles had just 11 as he popped up in spurts. Ryan Sturgess, who almost joined Philp at the Blues as a supplementary top-up, was also impressive with 21 disposals and seven marks.

Saturday’s first game opened a Blacktown double-header as the Swans Academy accounted for Murray in a close encounter to move to equal-first. The Sydneysiders shot out of the blocks with five goals to nil to open the match, adding another four in the second term to lead by six goals at half time. Although they fared much better in the second half, the Bushrangers could not fully recover the deficit and went down by 24 points.

Sydney over-ager Kyle Martin led all comers with 29 disposals, just one touch ahead of Bushrangers runner Cam Wild (28, one goal). Dylan Clarke also led the way for Murray with 23 disposals, with Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Sam Durham all also ticking over the 20-mark. Max Geddes (23 disposals) was also influential for the Swans, but it was big man Hamish Ellem who stole the show with 22 disposals, nine marks, and 3.3 in a performance which went a long way to securing him an Allies berth.

The GWS Academy was next up on its home turf against another Victorian country side in Gippsland, only it could not repeat the feats of its New South Wales rival. The GIANTS trailed at every break but brought the contest to the highly-fancied Power, getting within a single point at three-quarter time before falling by nine points.

Harry Grant had an outstanding game for GWS, booting two goals from his game-high 31 disposals, while Oakleigh squad member Jeromy Lucas had 24 touches and newly-transferred Northern Knight Liam Delahunty booted two goals. But a talent rich Gippsland unit was led well by Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Hawthorn rookie Harrison Pepper (26 disposals, one goal), with Riley Baldi also stepping up through midfield. Draftees Kyle Dunkley, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben were also in action for the Power.

Skipping back, and Dandenong extended its unbeaten start to the season with a huge win over Oakleigh on home turf. After a tight opener, the Stingrays played the conditions perfectly to pile on eight goals in the second term, and seven in the last to storm away 70-point victors with 11 individual goalkickers.

Lachlan Williams and Ned Cahill slotted three majors each for the winners, while bottom-ager Will Bravo slotted two and Richmond recruit Bigoa Nyuon managed one from 17 touches. Cahill was the leading disposal getter with 29, while Joe Ayton-Delaney, Lochlan Jenkins, and Trent Bianco all managed 24 for the Chargers. Port draftee Dylan Williams went goalless in a different role, while Gold Coast mid-season recruit Mitch Riordan had 15 touches and Melbourne rookie Austin Bradtke had just eight disposals and a goal.

Saturday’s other double-header began with Sandringham thumping the Brisbane Lions Academy by 97 points on home turf. The Lions had won just one game to that point, and were in for more immediate pain as the Dragons helped themselves to 13 first half goals while holding the visitors to one. There was no way back from there, with Sandringham coasting to victory.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn was one of the sole Lions to stand up all day, collecting a game-high 31 touches while fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland was kept to just nine. Louis Butler and Ryan Byrnes strutted their stuff for the Dragons to win plenty of the ball, while Miles Bergman started to get into his stride with 17 touches, Jack Bell impressed with two goals from the same disposal haul, and Blake O’Leary finished with a game-high three goals.

Eastern completed the academy rout with a defensively sound 59-point thumping of Gold Coast’s academy, keeping the SUNS to just two goals. After just three goals were scored in the first half, the Ranges clicked into gear to break the game open with seven in the third term and run home comfortable winners.

Zak Pretty had a monster day out with 37 disposals, aided well by Lachlan Stapleton (27) and Mitch Mellis (24), while bottom-age defenders Wil Parker and Josh Clarke also impressed. Bailey White led the goal count with four, while Jamieson Rossiter managed three and Cody Hirst played one of his last games before being snapped up by Sydney. Skipper Connor Budarick was the standout for Gold Coast, accumulating 27 touches, with bottom-ager Max Pescud also thereabouts, and fellow SUNS recruits Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh also taking the field.

Saturday’s final fixture saw Calder edge Geelong in a close battle at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with both sides enjoying time in the lead. The Cannons looked the goods after coming out on top in a low-scoring first half, but were pegged back to within a point at the final break. Keeping their heads, the hosts held on to win by seven points.

Sam Ramsay was the sole draftee afield, and he had a decent outing with 27 disposals – behind only Daniel Mott (29) and Brodie Newman (36). Ned Gentile booted three goals from 21 disposals to also be among the best, while skipper Jesse Clark claimed that honour for Geelong. Nineteen-year-old Charlie Sprague was another to impress with two goals from 18 touches, with fellow over-ager Henry Stubbings managing 20.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and Western got the better of Tasmania in their trip to the Apple Isle, trumping the hosts by 47 points to get within touch of the top four. A steady opening half saw Tasmania prove wasteful, booting 1.6 as Western eventually took flight to run home with six goals to two after half-time.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton took full toll with a game-high three majors, supported well by Carlton rookie Josh Honey (two from 25 disposals) and bottom-age jet Eddie Ford (two from 16 disposals). Darcy Cassar racked it up across half back to finish with 31 disposals, while Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon shared that feat for Tasmania (25). Isaac Chugg was also impressive on debut for a Devils side which was missing a lot of its star power.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels took home a huge win in the round’s final match, defeating the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 55 points on neutral territory. The Rebels never looked back after a 10 goals to one opening half at Windy Hill, which proved more than enough for the win despite a more even second half.

Nick Caris led the goal count with four for GWV, while Jay Rantall (27 disposals, two goals), Matty Lloyd (28, two), and Riley Polkinghorne (23, two) all had an impact. There was plenty of class on show for NT despite the loss too, with Beau O’Connell (29 disposals, two goals) having a day out, while Ben Jungfer had it 28 times, Joel Jeffrey had 24 touches and six marks, and new SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr also got on the park.