Tag: jesse clark

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.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 3 – First draw of the season in Country Triple Header

IN an action-packed nine games of NAB League Boys action, spectators witnessed the season’s first draw at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo as part of a huge triple header for the six country teams. The round also included a double header at Trevor Barker Oval the day before, while the Northern Academies went head-to-head across the nation, and the standalone game at RAMS Arena was a close one.

Opening up the round in Sandringham with the double header changed from Preston was the Northern Knights taking on Eastern Ranges. From the start it was clear the Ranges were going to be too strong, and by half-time led by 26 points. It would only get worse for the Knights in the second half, as Eastern piled on 7.9 to 0.2, to run away 75-point winners.

Mitch Mellis was best on ground with three goals from 29 touches, six marks, six tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while the likes of Zakery Pretty (26 disposals, five marks, three tackles, nine clearances and three inside 50s) and James Ross (30 disposals, three marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds) were not too far behind. Connor Downie (25 touches, five marks, five inside 50s and a goal), Josh Clarke (24 touches, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Lachlan Gawel (21 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) were all prolific, while Cody Hirst (19 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) looked impressive in one of his few games prior to being drafted by Sydney.

Sam Philp was a clear standout for the losing side as he amassed 26 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ryan Gardner (23 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three rebounds) worked hard on the outside, Josh D’Intinosante (21 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) was busy through midfield, and Jackson Davies (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) did his best in defence.

The second game at Trevor Barker Oval was much closer with perennial rivals and premiership contenders, Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers going at it. The end result was a 10-point win to the Dragons after booting five goals to two in the middle two quarters and then holding off a Chargers comeback to grab the bragging rights, 9.11 (65) to 8.7 (55).

Jack Mahony led the way for his side with 25 touches, five marks, five tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, teaming up well in midfield with Finn Maginness (24 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and Ryan Byrnes (21 disposals, four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds). Josh Worrell was a rock in defence thanks to 23 touches, four marks, four tackles and five rebounds, while up forward, Charlie Dean continued his good form with 16 disposals, six marks and two goals.

It was no surprise to see who led the way despite the loss for the Chargers with Matt Rowell (31 disposals, seven marks, 11 tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) dominating alongside Noah Anderson (26 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals). Future Magpie, Trent Bianco picked up 26 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds, while bottom-age talent, Will Phillips had 21 touches, seven marks and three tackles of his own. Dylan Williams booted three goals from nine disposals and four marks up forward.

Up at RAMS Arena, Calder Cannons kicked away in the final term against Western Jets to win by 12 points in what was a thrilling contest. It was only a two goals to one final quarter, but that was enough to see the home side in front at the final siren after leading by just three points at the final break. Western had worked its way back into the game after trailing by 19 and 15 points at the quarter time and half-time breaks respectively, but would ultimately not do enough to get the points in the end.

Cannons captain Daniel Mott had the ball on a string thanks to 32 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Harrison Minton-Connell joined him with leather poisoning after 30 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven clearances, two inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal. Flynn Lakey (26 disposals, five marks, four clearances and two rebounds) and Jake Sutton (18 disposals, seven marks, three clearances and six inside 50s) were busy, while Harrison Jones showed off his versatility after 17 disposals, eight marks, four hitouts and three inside 50s.

Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett were saviours in the defensive 50, combining for 44 disposals, 12 marks and 15 rebounds in a hard working effort for the Jets. Up forward, excitement machine Eddie Ford had 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Will Kennedy racked up a whopping 41 hitouts to go with 15 rouches, five marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Of the future draftees, Josh Honey had 14 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and a goal, while Emerson Jeka took six marks from nine touches and laid three tackles.

Heading north to Yeronga, the Gold Coast Suns Academy booted the last six goals of the game and five goals to zero in the final term, to post a 10.10 (70) to 5.12 (42) victory over cross-state rivals, Brisbane Lions Academy. The Lions had led by two points at the final break, but it was all Gold Coast in the last term as they ran away with the points.

Ashton Crossley racked up 31 touches, four marks, 10 clearances and two inside 50s, teaming up well with future Sun, Connor Budarick (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s) and bottom-age talent, Alex Davies (22 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds). Josh Gore booted three majors from 12 disposals and seven marks, while another future senior Sun in Matthew Conroy kicked two last quarter goals from eight touches, three marks and 25 hitouts. Hewago Paul Oea was also lively with 17 disposals, three marks, eight inside 50s and a goal.

For the Lions, Tom Griffiths (27 disposals, five marks and four rebounds) and Bruce Reville (26 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) had the most touches, while Saxon Crozier (19 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Ethan Hunt (18 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and six rebounds) were also busy. Future Tigers, Noah Cumberland (13 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Will Martyn (12 disposals, five tackles) played in the match as well.

In another dominant performance late, Sydney Swans Academy stormed past GWS GIANTS to win by 59 points in Canberra. The Swans trailed at quarter time and half-time, but piled on 12 goals to two in the second half to run away with the contest and gain some serious bragging rights early in the Academy Series.

It was a strong team effort from the Swans, with Jackson Barling (24 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three clearances) and Lachlan Swaney (22 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) both prominent. Captain Sam Thorne (19 touches, six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s) was busy, while Harrison Parker and Braeden Campbell both booted three goals in the win.

For the GIANTS it was all about Tom Green who racked up 28 touches, six marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Jeromy Lucas (25 touches, four marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) and James Peatling (24 touches, seven marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) provided support. Liam Delahunty (10 touches, six marks and two goals) was busy up forward, while Nick Murray (15 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds) stood tall under siege in defence.

Heading into the city for a clash between Northern territory and Tasmania, it was the Devils who came away with their first win after a slow start. Trailing by 10 points at the first break, Tasmania piled on 12 goals to three after that to finish with a commanding 13.14 (92) to 6.8 (44) victory over the Thunder.

Leading draft prospect, Mitch O’Neill had the ball on a string with 35 disposals, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds, as Rhyan Mansell (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Oliver Davis (22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s) provided great service to the forwards. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow showed just what he was capable of with five majors from 19 disposals and eight marks, while Matthew McGuinness was a reliever in defence with 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds.

All eyes were on Richmond father-son bottom-age prospect Maurice Rioli Jnr for the Thunder, and he had 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in a lively display. Others who impressed included Stephen Cumming (22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances), and bottom-age hopefuls, Joel Jeffrey (20 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and a goal), Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds).

Heading up the highway to Bendigo, the country triple header took place at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Pioneers were battling against premiership contender, Gippsland Power and had themselves right in the contest until the final term. The Power led by just one point at the last break, but piled on 4.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with a 12.10 (82) to 8.10 (58) victory.

Future first round pick, Caleb Serong helped himself to 23 disposals, five marks, three tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while another first round selection in Sam Flanders amassed 20 touches, two marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s), Sam Berry (20 disposals, three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal), Kyle Dunkley (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal) and Leo Connolly (15 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and six rebounds) were among the best across the four quarters, while Fraser Phillips booted three goals from 12 touches and four marks.

Bendigo’s own future first round pick in Brodie Kemp had a day out with 21 disposals, four marks, three tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, teaming up well in midfield with Sam Conforti (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Jeremy Rodi (19 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds). Riley Wilson (14 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds) was prominent in midfield, while Logan Fitzgerald and Brady Rowles combined for 26 disposals and nine rebounds in defence.

The second game was the best of the lot, with Dandenong Stingrays splitting the points with Geelong Falcons. In a wind-affected day, the see-sawing contested had everyone on the edge of their seat. Trailing by 30 points at the final break but with the wind behind their backs, the Stingrays booted 5.6 to 1.0 and managed to draw level at 12.11 (83) apiece thanks to a kick after the siren.

Ned Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s, as all of Dandenong’s future draftees stood out. Hayden Young had 22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, Cody Weightman had 20 touches, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, and Sam De Koning picked up 17 disposals, three marks, four hitouts and two goals, switching into attack in the last quarter and being a huge influence on the result.

The game was unfortunately the last for Geelong’s sole draftee, Cooper Stephens who broke his leg in the first term and would not play another game in season 2019. Jesse Clark (26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 touches, eight marks and five rebounds) worked hard, while bottom-agers, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, nine tackles and seven inside 50s) were among their side’s best.

In the final game of the round, Murray Bushrangers came back from a goal down at the final break to find their kicking boots and defeat Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. The Bushrangers had booted 6.12 to three quarter time – four more scoring shots than their opponents – but trailed them by a goal. They picked it up in the final term to slot 3.3 to 1.2 and record a 9.15 (69) to 9.8 (62) victory.

Lachlan Ash had a team-high 28 disposals, six marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals, five marks, six tackles, three clearance and five inside 50s) and Jimmy Boyer (22 disposals, nine marks and two rebounds) found plenty of the ball. In midfield, Cameron Wild (20 disposals, four marks, three clearances and seven inside 50s) and Dylan Clarke (17 disposals, three marks, four tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were strong.

Jay Rantall was a clear standout for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 31 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals in a complete game. Mitch Martin (22 disposals, 10 marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) was also impressive, while James Cleaver and Emmanuel Ajang combined for 33 disposals, 10 marks and 13 rebounds in defence.

Classic Contests: Stingrays and Falcons play out first draw of season

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, where these two teams faced off in a wind-swept game in Bendigo to eventually split the points.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.0 | 7.4 | 7.5 | 12.11 (83)
GEELONG FALCONS 5.5 | 6.6 | 11.11 | 12.11 (83)

Round 3 | Saturday, April 7, 2019
Queen Elizabeth Oval, 12.30pm

The reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays headed into the Round 3 clash undefeated, but only just. They had survived a comeback against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by a goal, then won in a thriller against Murray Bushrangers by five points just a round earlier. The Falcons had lost in heart-breaking circumstances to the Rebels in Round 2, but it was a much better effort than their Round 1 thumping at the hands of Bendigo Pioneers. Nonetheless, Dandenong headed in as favourites based on overall form, though the weather threatened to make it challenging for all involved.

Geelong had the breeze in the opening term and had plenty of chances, booting 5.5 from 10 scoring opportunities, though it was Dandenong’s accuracy – three goals from as many scoring shots – that had the Stingrays buoyant early on. It took Dandenong six minutes to get the early chance in the second term as Cody Weightman kicked a ripper to cut the deficit to 10 points. Melbourne-listed Austin Bradtke made it two consecutive goals for the Stingrays and the teams were separated by just a kick, before Oliver Henry steadied the ship with an important goal – his second of the contest. It would be Geelong’s only major of the term, as Dandenong added two more, with Corey Ellison booting his second and Reece Orchard his first in the last minute for the Stingrays to hit the front by four points at half-time.

Regaining the benefit of the breeze, Henry converted his third and fourth goals either side of a Mitch Langan major. Gennaro Bove and Sheldon Ham soon joined the party and the Falcons had five consecutive goals on the board and led by 30 points at the main break in what was truly a complete domination and utilising the breeze to perfection. Trailing by five goals at the last change, Dandenong Stingrays made a swap, throwing key defender Sam De Koning into attack for the last term to provide a target with the wind in their favour. It seemed only a matter of time before the Stingrays began to chase the Falcons down, and Nathan Heath was the first on the board in the opening three minutes, before De Koning converted in the 10th minute shortly after a behind and the deficit was 15 points with 15 minutes on the clock.

Out of nowhere and against the run of play, Henry stepped up for the Falcons and booted a crucial fifth goal to push the margin back out to 21 – it would be Geelong’s last score for the game. Dandenong relentlessly attacked as De Koning kicked a second major, while Luca Goonan also made good on a chance. With five minutes left, Ned Cahill missed and the margin was a flat six points. The ball was camped inside Dandenong’s forward line for the last five minutes, with plenty of chances to rush through a crucial behind, but the Stingrays were going all-out, though as it would show in hindsight, a behind could have won them the game. Instead, it took until a mark just seconds before the siren – to Heath – before a result would be decided. He calmly came in slotted the goal with Dandenong celebrating. It had been a terrific comeback, but at the end of the day, both teams split the points and it was a deserving finish to a game of that quality.

Henry deservingly finished as the standout player on the ground with 11 touches, seven marks and five goals in such challenging conditions. Jesse Clark had 26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds, working hard defensively with Keidan Rayner (16 disposals, three marks and five rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 disposals, eight marks and five rebounds). In the forward half, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, while Chas Karpala (20 disposals, 10 tackles), Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, seven clearances and nine tackles) and Ham (15 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal) were also among the best.

For the Stingrays, future Bomber, Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s through the midfield, working well with the skill of Hayden Young (22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds) and the X-factor of Weightman (20 disposals, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal). De Koning finished the game with 17 touches, three marks and two goals, while Mitch Riordan had 16 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s. Ellison (three goals), Goonan (two) and Heath (two) were the multiple goalkickers with De Koning, while Jack Toner was busy with 13 disposals, four clearances and five inside 50s.

Dandenong Stingrays would end up reaching the first week of finals before losing to Calder Cannons, while Geelong Falcons’ season would end at the hands of Sandringham Dragons in Wildcard Round.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 2 – Academies join competition

ROUND 2 last year will be forever known as the return of Allied teams to the Victorian Under-18 boys competition. While some states have participated in past years on and off, all four northern Academies, along with Northern Territory Thunder joined the competition. Tasmania Devils also joined in, but on a full-time basis, with the Devils playing their first official match in the round across a whopping nine games.

Kicking off the round as part of a Triple Header at Blacktown, Tasmania travelled north for its first game, coming up against Sydney Swans Academy. The Devils had to wait until the second term to score, as the Swans booted 3.7 before Nicholas Baker made history as the first official goalkicker for the Devils. A goal to Jye Menzie just 19 seconds into the third term saw the margin cut as little as five points, but that was as close as it got for the rest of the game as the Swans booted the last three goals of the term to be 26 points up at the final break. Jackson Callow converted another major in the opening minute of the final term to give his team a sniff, and by the time Will Harper put his second on the board, the margin was just nine points with 14 minutes remaining. Unfortunately for the visitors, Marc Sheather kicked a settling goal to help ease the pressure and the Swans got up by 14 points.

Bottom-age talent, Errol Gulden had a day out with 33 disposals, six marks, three tackles, two clearances, eight inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, with Sam Thorne (23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) also prominent for the Swans. Another talented bottom ager in Braeden Campbell collected 15 disposals, three marks, eight tackles and five inside 50s, while Kyle McKellar and Jackson Barling were also impressive. For the Devils, overager Matthew McGuinness picked up 27 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds, working hard with Patrick Walker (25 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds) and Sam Collins (23 disposals, five marks and nine rebounds) in defence. The Devils’ top rated prospect, Mitch O’Neill helped himself to 21 touches, nine tackles, 12 clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds in the loss.

In the next game at Blacktown, the Brisbane Lions Academy fought back from a disappointing first quarter to down the GIANTS Academy, winning 14.12 (96) to 10.10 (70). GWS led by 19 points at quarter time, but a six goals to three second term had Brisbane just three points down by the main break. A seven goals to three second half saw the Lions run over the top of the GIANTS despite the best efforts of GIANTS star, Tom Green (29 disposals – 18 contested – nine clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and three tackles).

Will Martyn (30 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, as was the likes of Tom Griffiths (20 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Ethan Hunt (19 disposals) and Bruce Reville (16 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s). Aside from Green, Jeromy Lucas had his fair share of the ball with 24 touches, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Matt McGrory (18 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s), Nick Murray (19 disposals, 10 marks), Lachlan Squire (15 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Liam Delahunty (15 disposals, seven marks, three inside 50s and three goals) all impressed.

Rounding out the triple header at Blacktown, Gold Coast Suns Academy never looked like losing to Northern Territory. The Suns piled on eight goals to one in the opening half, and while the Thunder hit back in the third term to cut the deficit to 31 points, Gold Coast stepped up again to boot three goals to one in the final term and win by 44 points.

Ashton Crossley had 27 disposals and seven clearances through the midfield, while top prospect, Connor Budarick racked up 22 touches, six marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal across the ground. Bottom-age talent, Alex Davies had 22 touches, nine clearances, four tackles and four inside 50s, while Max Pescud (20 touches, three clearances and three inside 50s), Hewago Paul Oea (16 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal) and Josh Gore (15 touches, three marks, seven tackles and three goals) all looked lively. Future Sun, Matthew Conroy looked strong through the ruck with 22 hitouts from 15 touches, three marks and a goal.

Heading down to Victoria and Dandenong Stingrays caused a boil-over against premiership contenders, Gippsland Power. The reigning premiers had a new-look line-up after the 2018 success, but started strongly to lead by a goal at quarter time. Gippsland hit the front to have the advantage by half-time, but it flipped again by the last break with the Stingrays in front by four points. When Bailey Schmidt kicked a goal with six minutes to play, the Stingrays hit the front and never surrendered it in a match that had a whopping 11 lead changes.

Mitch Riordan picked up 23 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds in one of his few games before being selected in the mid-season draft, as captain Hayden Young was strong off half-back with 21 disposals, four marks, five tackles and three rebounds. Jack Toner (19 touches, two marks, five tackles, five clearances and seven inside 50s) had a truckload of the ball, while future first round pick, Cody Weightman racked up 14 disposals, five marks, six tackles and a goal. Other future draftees who played in the game included Ned Cahill (12 disposals, seven tackles and a goal), Bigoa Nyuon (six disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal) and Sam De Koning (four disposals).

For the Power, first round picks Sam Flanders (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) and Caleb Serong (21 disposals, nine tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) were prominent. Another mid-season recruit in Kyle Dunkley (20 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) was lively again, while Leo Connolly (16 disposals, three marks and six rebounds), Fraser Phillips (15 disposals, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Harrison Pepper (14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, three clearances and one goal) were among other future draftees who impressed.

In the other Saturday game, Murray Bushrangers had a second heart-breaking loss in a row, losing by five points to Bendigo Pioneers after dropping their first game by under a kick. They led by 18 points at the first change, but the Pioneers booted three goals to zero in the second term to lead by half-time, and then a see-sawing contest ensued with the Pioneers saluting in a thrilling game.

Thomson Dow was busy with 24 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven clearances and a goal, as fellow first round pick, Brodie Kemp had a strong day out with 17 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal. Future Swan, Brady Rowles would have 12 touches, two clearances and two inside 50s, while Logan Fitzgerald (22 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and four rebounds) had plenty of the ball. Cam Wild was the prominent ball winner with 30 touches, seven marks, seven tackles, seven clearances, three inside 50s and six rebounds, while top five pick Lachlan Ash had 26 touches, eight marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds. Jye Chalcraft (26 touches, four marks, six clearances and two goals), Will Quirk (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Elijah Hollands (22 disposals, three marks and a goal) were also impressive.

Looking to Sunday, Sandringham Dragons continued their form to start the season with a comfortable 43-point win over Northern Knights. The Dragons booted six goals to two in the opening half and then kept their opponents at arms-length after that to secure a strong win in the first of two games at Trevor Barker Oval.

Ryan Byrnes picked up 24 touches, two marks, four tackles and six clearances, as Louis Butler looked lively across the ground thanks to 18 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Jack Mahony (17 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s), Hugo Ralphsmith (17 disposals, three marks), Josh Worrell (17 disposals, seven marks and three rebounds) and Finn Maginness (14 disposals, six tackles and four inside 50s) were among future draftees to win plenty of the ball as Charlie Dean caught attention with four majors from 15 touches and eight marks. Adam Carafa (28 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Sam Philp (18 disposals, eight marks and five clearances) were busy through midfield, while Ryan Gardner (19 disposals, five inside 50s) worked the outside and Ryan Sturgess (22 touches, eight rebounds) was strong in defence.

A dominant six goals to zero first term set Eastern Ranges up for an impressive 63-point win over Western in the second game of a double header at Trevor Barker Oval. With 13 scoring shots to one in the first term, the margin could have been bigger than the 42 points, and while Western managed to stem the bleeding after that, the Ranges had opened up a 58-point lead by the final break to ensure they would enjoy a big win.

Mitch Mellis (35 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and three goals) and Lachlan Stapleton (33 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, six clearances and 10 inside 50s) ran rampant as future Swan, Cody Hirst (29 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and three rebounds) and inside midfielder, Zakery Pretty (23 disposals, two marks, five clearances and five inside 50s were also prominent. Bottom-ager Josh Clarke work hard with his run-and-carry picking up 15 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal, while Josh Tilly capped off his day with three majors. For the Jets, Darcy Cassar had the ball on a string from defence, racking up 31 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and nine rebounds, working in tandem with Daly Andrews (24 disposals, six marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and eight rebounds). Josh Kellett was instrumental mopping up in defence as well with 12 rebounds to go with his 20 touches in the defeat.

In the final game of the round, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels put the Round 1 heart-breaking loss to Dandenong Stingrays to the back of their mind as they came from behind to down the Geelong Falcons by a point in a thrilling contest. Darcy McEldrew kicked the winning goal late in the fourth term to get his side over the line. Jay Rantall was enormous in his second game for the Rebels, racking up 24 disposals, three marks, six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while James Cleaver booted two majors from 17 touches in his new role up forward. Cooper Craig-Peters impressive with six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds from 19 disposals and eight tackles, while Riley Polkinghorne had seven rebounds working hard out of defence.

Cooper Stephens led from the front in his last full game prior to injury, amassing a game-high 28 touches, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and a goal, while Charlie Lazzaro worked hard as a bottom-ager to pick up 26 touches, four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Out of defence, Keidan Rayner racked up 10 rebounds with his 25 disposals, while Jesse Clark had nine and 16 respectively. Also busy but in the other half of the ground was Charlie Sprague (23 disposals, three marks and seven inside 50s).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 1 – Future Blues light up Ikon Park

A SPIRITED comeback from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels was not enough to see them topple the Dandenong Stingrays in the opening round of the 2019 season. The Stingrays led by as much as 36 points at the 15-minute mark of the third term, before the Rebels bolted home to boot eight of the last 12 goals to get within eight points with eight minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the home side, they could only manage back-to-back behinds on the day.

Captain and top prospect, Hayden Young had 15 disposals, five marks, four tackles and seven rebounds in the Stingrays’ win, while the talented Cody Weightman had 12 disposals, two tackles, three inside 50s and a goal. It was Lachlan Williams in defence who was instrumental with 23 disposals and 11 rebounds, as bottom-age talent Clayton Gay had a big game across the ground, picking up 20 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals. Future draftees, Bigoa Nyuon (seven disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, four inside 50s and two goals) and Ned Cahill (nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) had an impact, and Sam De Koning (six disposals, three hitouts, one rebound) also played in the match. Mitchell Riordan also started his overage year positively – though he would only be at the club for another month and a half before heading north – picking up 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s.

A former Australian basketballer by the name of Jay Rantall made his debut for the GWV Rebels, picking up 24 touches and having five clearances in a strong performance through the midfield group. Cooper Craig-Peters led the way with 30 disposals (16 contested), 10 tackles, 10 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, while Mitch Martin (24 disposals, four clearances, seven inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Matty Lloyd (26 disposals, nine marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three goals) also impressed despite the loss.

The next day, Murray Bushrangers and Gippsland Power engaged in an equally tough tussle at Rams Arena, where Will Chandler had the ball in the dying seconds, but was just a touch too far out to score as the Bushrangers went down by three points. The Bushrangers had been in front by that margin at quarter time and half-time against the title-contending Power team, and even led by as much as five points at the final break. But the only goal of the final term went to the Power in what was a struggle between two top defences in the 10.9 (69) to 8.12 (66) defeat.

Kyle Dunkley made onlookers check twice when they saw the former Oakleigh Chargers forward dominating through the midfield for Gippsland on his way to 21 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and three goals in what would prove to be one of only a handful of outings at NAB League level, switching RAMS Arena for Etihad Stadium. Without Caleb Serong, it was Sam Flanders who brought the highlights, picking up 19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s, while Ryan Sparkes had the most touches with 26 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and eight rebounds. Charlie Comben returned for a modest three touches, two marks and 11 hitouts, while other future draftees who played in the game included Brock Smith (18 disposals, four marks and four rebounds), Harrison Pepper (13 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Leo Connolly (10 disposals, two marks) and Fraser Phillips (five disposals, two marks and one goal).

It was no surprise to see future GIANT, Lachlan Ash having a big day out for Murray with 24 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while the midfield duo of Dylan Clarke (24 touches, five marks, four tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s) and Cameron Wild (22 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds) were productive. Co-captain Cameron Wilson slotted three goals in a big game up forward with 21 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s, while bottom-age talent Elijah Hollands showed off his class with 15 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and a goal.

At RSEA Park, premiership contenders Sandringham Dragons made an early statement on the competition with a big win over Calder. The Dragons had a host of draftable prospects heading into the year and destroyed Calder Cannons by 109 points. It was the likes of future Saint, Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and future Hawk, Finn Maginness (23 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, six clearances and a goal) who shone. Louis Butler (22 disposals) and Miles Bergman (16) both had strong games, as top 10 pick Fischer McAsey had two rebounds from 14 disposals and five marks in what was a pretty comfortable day to be a Dragons defender. Instead it was Charlie Dean‘s five goals that stole the show. For the Cannons, future draftees Sam Ramsay (23 disposals, three marks and a goal) and Harrison Jones (12 disposals, three marks and six hitouts) both played, while Tye Browning and Daniel Mott did all they could sharing in 24 disposals each, with Mott also having four clearances and six inside 50s.

A full-strength Oakleigh Chargers also had an impressive win in the first match of the season against a far-from-disgraced Eastern Ranges outfit. Top two picks, Matt Rowell (21 touches, five tackles, four clearances and one goal) and Noah Anderson (26 disposals, five marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and four goals) were the best, as Joe Ayton-Delaney picked up a game-high 32 touches as well as nine clearances, four inside 50s and five rebounds. The likes of future draftees, Trent Bianco (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three clearances) and Dylan Williams (19 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) were also prominent. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan made his Oakleigh debut but was quiet with four touches and two marks, though fellow bottom-age prospect Will Phillips was solid with 17 disposals and five tackles. Future draftees Nick Bryan (10 disposals, 18 hitouts) and Lachlan Johnson (11 touches, five tackles) also played in the match. For Eastern, soon-to-be-listed Swans player, Cody Hirst had 20 touches, five clearances and three inside 50s in the loss, as bottom-age talent Connor Downie was strong alongside top-age hopefuls Zakery Pretty and Mitch Mellis.

Bendigo Pioneers also opened their season off on the right foot courtesy of a big 43-point win over Geelong Falcons. Future Cat, Cooper Stephens did all he could for the Falcons in the loss, picking up 22 touches, three marks, three tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, working hard with Jesse Clark (24 disposals, seven marks and four rebounds). For the Pioneers, Thomson Dow quickly asserted himself on the competition with two goals from 28 disposals, eight marks, three clearances and three inside 50s, while fellow first round selection Brodie Kemp had 22 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. The Pioneers’ other draftee in the match was Brady Rowles who helped himself to 15 touches, two clearances and two rebounds.

In the final game of the round, Western Jets got up in a thrilling come-from-behind seven-point victory over Northern Knights at Ikon Park. They teams traded blows throughout the match and the Knights led by 18 points at the final break, but a high-scoring last term saw the Jets pile on six goals to two to run over the top of Northern in the end. Future Blue, Josh Honey lit up his future home training ground with 22 touches, six marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and a goal, while future Hawk, Emerson Jeka booted a goal from 14 touches, six marks and four inside 50s. If Honey being Western’s best at Carlton’s home was not freaky enough, Sam Philp – one of Carlton’s first round draft picks – stamped his authority with 22 disposals, nine tackles, nine clearances, three inside 50s and a goal for the Knights. Josh D’Intinosante and Ryan Sturgess booted two goals apiece from 20 touches, while competition leading goalkicker, Archi Manton snagged three majors on his way to that title.

NAB League Boys team review: Geelong Falcons

AS the NAB League season finals approach, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title, checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The first side we look at is the Geelong Falcons.

Position: 12th
Wins: 3
Losses: 11
Draws: 1

Points For: 783 (Ranked #13)
Points Against: 1081 (Ranked #12)
Percentage: 79
Points: 14

Top draft prospects:

Cooper Stephens

The inside midfielder missed the majority of the season after sustaining a fractured leg in the first quarter of Geelong’s draw with Dandenong Stingrays at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Round 3. It meant he played just the three matches and in the two full games, he averaged 25 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances, 2.5 inside 50s and laid 4.0 tackles. He showed in his bottom-ager year that he is capable of playing off half-back or a wing, as well as winning the possessions at the coalface and it no doubt would have been tough for him to watch his side end up winning the wooden spoon this season. His leadership is undeniable, not only named co-captain of the Falcons, but also vice-captain of Vic Country despite the knowledge he was never going to take part in on-field activities. Stephens is still considered a top 30 prospect and it will be interesting to see where he falls on draft night.

Jesse Clark

The rebounding defender has enjoyed a strong season and should finish strongly in the Falcons’ Best and Fairest even though others have played more games and will have enough votes to take it out. Often Clark has been requited to play on taller opponents, but it has no stopped him averaging 21.4 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.3 tackles and 6.3 rebounds, as well as recording 2.7 clearances playing on a wing or getting it out of the danger zone from defensive stoppages. He represented Vic Country and averaged the 10.5 touches and 3.0 marks, and is a prospect in the second half of the draft. He is 188cm which is slightly below the key position height, but he offers good strength in the air, positioning and composure under pressure, racking up rebounds at will and could suit a side looking for a reliable defender.

BnF chances:

Outside of Clark, the three players likely to battle for the Best and Fairest are Keidan Rayner, Charlie Harris and Chas Karpala. All three have been able to notch up double-figure games and provide consistency through the midfield and filling in other roles when required. Karpala averaged 19.1 disposals per game this season, third overall, while Harris (18.8) and Rayner (17.3) were not too far behind.

2020 Draft Crop:

Geelong could well be the Eastern Ranges of 2020, with a host of bottom-age prospects who have the potential to lead the Falcons back up the ladder. Tanner Bruhn is a top-end talent prospect, and while he only entered the fray in the final round of the NAB League Boys season after a long-term injury, he looms as the Falcons top prospect if he can stay injury free. Other bottom-agers who have already looked like established players are ruck Henry Walsh, Charlie Lazzaro, Noah Gribble in midfield, while Cameron Fleeton straightens up the defence, and Gennaro Bove provides tackling pressure in the attacking half. Oliver Henry looks a genuine talent at both ends.

Final word:

It was a disappointing year for the Falcons, there is little doubt about that. But they would have been pleased with the development of their bottom-agers to set them up for next year. Stephens and Clark loom as their two draftable prospects given they were the only two receiving draft combine invitations, but Charlie Sprague is one who will surely have a real shot at VFL after consistent form in the back-end of the season and playing in the Young Guns game earlier in the year showing some interest from clubs.

Scouting Notes: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

THERE were no surprises this time in the NAB League Boys Wildcard Round, with every higher-ranked side progressing through to the finals. Despite final results, scores were close for a least a term in each game with the top-end talent from each side shining through in the end. We take a look at the outstanding performers who earned representative or combine nods, as well as a few under-agers who impressed in our opinion-based notes.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

An absolute workhorse in the midfield, Chirgwin was dominant at the coalface with his contested ball winning and presence at stoppages. While he was clean at the fall of the ball and tackled hard in close, another pleasing part of Chirgwin’s game was his work rate around the ground to accumulate just about anywhere the ball went. He had a dominant start to the game and his repeat efforts left the Falcons with no answers throughout. He hit the scoreboard from one of a couple of set shot chances, converting on the back of a 50m penalty. Having proven himself against all opposition so far in the NAB League, Chirgwin looks poised for a big finals series to end an injury interrupted year.

#4 Finn Maginness

Combined beautifully with Chirgwin as another big body in the midfield, showing rare vision in the clinches and a strong core to dish out effortlessly to his runners on the outside. Maginness was another to dominate at the stoppages, constantly latching onto the taps – particularly at centre bounces – with clean hands and poise. Maginness also got forward well as expected, spreading hard to sneak inside 50 unmanned and become another dangerous option. He capped off a brilliant game on the inside with a goal in the final term after marking strongly inside 50 – another of his favourable traits.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Best afield for mine, Byrnes was sensational on the breakaway from congestion – utilising his zippy first five steps and agility to latch onto the first handball away from stoppages and burst free. Byrnes’ work to get around the ground and accumulate allowed him to get involved in a heap of plays going both ways, with surer kicking at times the only area that could do with some work. While he hit the scoreboard himself with a fantastic pick up and finish at pace in the second term, Byrnes was just as influential in his assists – creating three goals off his own boot throughout the game with clever finds forward of the ball or laterally. He showed a good willingness to break the lines too, adding to his forward threat on the spread. A top game, back to his ball-winning best.

#6 Miles Bergman

Dynamic as ever, Bergman again showed his ability to do some freakish things with his work in the air and forward of the ball in general. He built into the game slowly, standing up in tackles and marking well overhead in little glimpses before coming to life as he rotated between the wing and half forward line. Bergman adjusted his linking play further afield to become the target himself up forward, marking high balls strongly in packs close to home to find three of his four goals. His other major came with a classy speared finish from range on the run, and he was in such form that he scored with a monster torp from the wing after the half time siren. He proved the perfect wildcard for the Dragons, and will be one who is climbing draft boards.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

It was a solid outing for the wingman/forward, rotating between his usual two positions and popping up with a couple of nice moments. Ralphsmith’s pressure and forward run kept him in the game early, with his best moment coming in the second term as he ran onto his own smother at half-forward and finished clinically into the open goal for his first major. His second came with a set shot in the final quarter to end his game well, with Ralphsmith’s carry and running bounces between the arcs proving damaging.

#12 Charlie Dean

A selfless performance by coach Josh Bourke’s standards, Dean continued his work as a swingman – this time starting in defence and moving forward. It was by no means a massive game from the versatile tall but he played a more unheralded role down back early, going back with the flight multiple times and proving solid in the air. That aerial prowess boded well for his shift forward as he marked strongly deep inside 50 and got reward for his efforts with two goals.

#13 Louis Butler

Another who played a selfless role and won praise from his coach, Butler was tasked with playing a more defensive style to his usual rebounding game – shutting down Geelong’s small forwards. While he was sound inside defensive 50, Butler was a little shaky with his kicking under pressure as a few balls grazed the grass on the back of rushed releases. He was freed up a touch more in the second half as he accumulated across the back half, providing his usual run.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

The leading ball winner on the day, Hanrahan was busy throughout on the outside in penetrating both arcs. His high numbers came on the back of some good work in handball chains forward, while also using those repeat running efforts to get secondary touches after short kicks too. The over-ager wasn’t afraid to take opponents on with little agile steps, finishing his forward runs with kicks down the line or sharper short finds – as was the case with his goal assist to Miles Bergman in the second term. His accumulative style is commonplace among outside players, but Hanrahan keeps on doing the right things and is in a good patch of form.

#29 Fischer McAsey

The All Australian defender was good without being outstanding in his two-goal performance, proving dangerous up forward before shifting back in the second half. McAsey’s work to get separation on the lead was terrific, allowing him to mark almost uncontested numerous times and creating shots on goal. His earliest set shot was a shocker, but worked out fortuitously as it fell into the lap of Blake O’Leary closer to goal. He would go on to sure up that area, marking twice more and converting his next two set shots with much more conviction. A solid performance, with his marking a constant threat up both ends.

#32 Jack Bell

Bell is coming into some exciting form, again producing glimpses of his athleticism with some great moments in the air. He took an absolute hanger and flew well in his time up forward where he found two goals, while also providing good fold in the ruck with his long reach and craft to palm down to his dominant mids. Just catches the eye on occasion and has the right traits for a tall.

#74 Harry Loughnan

The over-ager stood out with his combativeness in defence, attacking the ball hard and making desperate plays across half-back to set the tone even when the result was well beyond doubt. Loughnan’s hunger saw him collect a good amount of possessions, using it well when he opted to go by foot and proving clean by hand. Also popped up with a nice one-handed mark to show a touch of class.

Geelong:

#15 Tanner Bruhn

One of Geelong’s only forms of resistance through a midfield that was soundly beaten, Bruhn continues to show no signs of wear from his long-term injury layoff. The bottom-ager had some promising moments at stoppages, winning the first clear disposals at the opening centre bounces of the first and second terms. His clearance work is already sound and he looked unfazed by Sandringham’s bigger bodies, digging in where he could and zipping away with his first few steps. Also provided good drive forward by foot and chipped in with a goal in the third term from close range. Has a wealth of potential and should lead Geelong’s strong bottom-age core into next year.

#37 Oliver Henry

Only had a handful of disposals but caught the eye with just about each of them, if not with a few of his aerial attempts which didn’t register as stats. Henry started by winning a free kick up forward in a one-on-one contest but missed the set shot, coming into the game again in the second term with a nice overhead grab up the ground. He looked to have hurt himself after flying for another ball in the following quarter, attacking it hard and almost bringing it down but losing it as he landed heavily on his back. It was a tough day for Geelong forwards, but players like Henry will be better for the grind.

#40 Jesse Clark

The skipper simply had to be a beacon for the Falcons in defence, but it was tough going. As the Dragons began to get on a roll, Geelong looked to use Clark’s aerial ability as a spare in defence as he rushed back from the wing at the bounce of the ball. He managed to snare a couple of intercepts in the back half and rebounded like he usually does, doing whatever he could to help his relatively young teammates out.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Was quite possibly Geelong’s best player given the heat he took on in a key defensive post. Fleeton was as sure as anyone by foot, switching confidently across defensive 50 to try and set the Falcons on the right foot coming out of defence. Two of his three marks were fantastic too, intercepting strongly in the first term and sticking a one-hander going back in the second to show some courage and athleticism. The bottom-ager was also incredibly composed on the ball, not afraid to take on opponents on the last line and burning one in the second quarter with a good piece of agility after gathering over the back. Also contributed some second efforts with the result beyond doubt, showing heart on a rough day.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

It was another assured performance in defence from Davies, who pitched in with his usual intercept and rebounding game. He was entrusted with kick-ins early as is typically the case, but was taken off them on the back of a couple of misjudged long-range efforts against the wind – instead becoming the target with his solid overhead marking. While he was calm with ball in hand, Davies proved much more audacious in the air with his attempts and willingness to launch at packs. He reeled in some nice grabs one-on-one and won a fair amount of ball without being dominant.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was a touch quieter than the lofty standard he has now set, but still managed to find the ball and impact play up the ground. D’Intinosante’s attack on the ball was great when hitting up onto the wing or through the corridor, playing almost like a lead-up forward but sweeping at ground level. He would repeatedly go back to win the ball or apply pressure, looking to get forward quickly and follow his delivery up. The state combine invitee’s goal came from a set shot in the final term, missing a tough dribbled effort in the second term and otherwise not having too many chances inside 50.

#8 Adam Carafa

The midfield bull was the leading ball winner by a fair way as the only player to crack 30 disposals, working hard going both ways in the engine room. Carafa was pivotal to Northern’s strong second half, handballing beautifully away from congestion and out to his fleeter midfielders, accumulating at the coalface with ease. With his distribution down pat, Carafa went on to help out his defence and send a couple of nice passes inside 50 up the other end in what was an outstanding third term which turned the tide of the game in a defining way. He added a couple of flashy spins out of traffic to his grunt work to cap off a one of his better NAB League outings.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Has reverted back to his defensive post of late, starting this game as one of the two deepest defenders but looking more impactful with his run from half-back. Sturgess repeatedly got on his bike and looked to chain possessions after an initial disposal, sparking the Knights from the defensive arc and helping to take the game on. He was another to fall victim to the wind when looking for distance from the kick-ins but sured that area up quickly to continue to provide real drive. You can also count on the draft combine invitee bringing aggression to the game, tackling hard and crashing packs when swung forward. He again made an impact up forward, booting two goals in the final quarter with cool conversion and an outstanding 1v2 mark for his second.

#13 Sam Philp

Along with Carafa was crucial to Northern’s turnaround and clear break, hunting the ball in midfield and providing some aggressive run away from congestion. He worked tirelessly to break the game open with his ability to burst clear of would-be tacklers, booting long inside 50 at the end of his explosive runs. Philp added touches of class to his game with drawing handballs at half forward and a fantastic goal on the run in the third term. His scoreboard impact extended to an assist for Jackson Bowne in the same term, conveying the kind of effect he had on the contest in turning it around.

#40 Liam McMahon

Continues to show promising signs inside forward 50, not needing many touches to have an impact and find the goals. His first major was a straightforward one after receiving a 50m penalty in the first term, with his second a much trickier set shot from the boundary which sailed through off a couple of steps, and his third another conversion from deep after marking on the lead. While he only showed it a couple of times, McMahon’s marking at the highest point is what helps him catch the eye, making his influence more profound.

#45 Ayce Taylor

The over-ager had some nice moments from defence, hitting up hard at half-back to intercept at both levels and spark some rebound. Despite playing more like a key defender, Taylor showed good agility to slip opponents with ball in hand and spread well as Northern forced turnovers in defence. His bodywork early was astute, with his ability to run in the second and third terms ending in a James Lucente goal. Taylor’s aggressive style of defence was a good pointer for his fellow back six members to follow, sparking the Knights into some more daring play.

Bendigo:

#4 Thomson Dow

Dow was the key ball winner for Bendigo in midfield against some pretty stiff inside competition, hunting the ball and exploding away from congestion to clear going inside 50. While his contested work and bustling stoppage play was a highlight throughout, Dow also pushed forward well and broke the lines over the back to set Jack Evans’ goal in motion. He would go on to win a clearance shortly after to assist Aaron Gundry’s goal and produced a lovely weighted ball to Ethan Roberts inside 50 in the fourth quarter. He capped a solid game with a highlight reel snare off a Josh Treacy tap in the same term, standing up as one of Bendigo’s best.

#19 Ben Worme

It was an indifferent game from Worme, who spent an extended amount of time up forward while also rotating through midfield. His work to get up the ground and wheel into forward 50 was effective, but he fell just short in finishing his own chances with a couple of misses on the run. He showed a nice bit of vision to hit up Riley Wilson inside 50, later making another handy lateral kick at half-forward and contributing in handy bursts.

#22 Josh Treacy

Treacy was aggressive in his time as one of two deep forwards, leading up hard beyond the arc and throwing his weight around in general play. He was one of the better players afield in the first term, booting both of his goals from a free kick and 50m penalty. His conversion was steady and reliable, with his ruckwork later in the day proving shrewd as he found the likes of Thomson Dow with taps well on the move.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

The nippy forward was one of Bendigo’s most threatening players and was relevant throughout the game, leading his opponents to the ball with his gut-busting runs up the field and equally hard movement over the back toward goal. He missed a couple of chances in the opening term but found space in the following quarter to snap home and snare another major out the back again. He slowed up a touch as Northern got on top after half time after claiming all of his 2.3 in the first half, but constantly looked to break from congestion and get something going for the Pioneers.

#38 Brady Rowles

The line-breaking defender was terrific in this outing, having an impact with just about all of his 15 disposals and using his trademark speed to provide some form of inspiration for Bendigo. While his kicks at pace on the end of damaging runs was not always ideal and he almost had a horrific defensive 50 turnover, Rowles hit a couple of handy targets to show signs of improvement in that area overall. His best traits always make you stand up and watch, with enough there to suggest he can become a handy asset when better refined.

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Taylah Melki

Calder Cannons:

#1 Daniel Mott

Slotted a goal early in the first quarter thanks to his goal sense and awareness. Clean hands out of congestion to move the ball forward and put it in a damaging position. Mott worked hard in and around the stoppages and lowered his eyes to find teammates in space. He was not afraid to put his body on the line and applied good pressure. He worked hard at stoppages to get hands to ball and consistently looked to move the ball down into the forward 50. Mott had a good passage of play showcasing his slick hands and impressive kick to hit a teammate on the lead under pressure. He held his space well around the throw ins to try and read the tap and break free. He lifted his intensity in the last term with a burst through the middle of the ground to create a shot at goal for a teammate.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Worked hard across the ground to provide an option and use his assets to his advantage. Cardillo showed good pace out of the middle to run through corridor and spear the ball forward. Displayed good tackling pressure to win a holding the ball call and ran hard throughout the match. He used his quick hands to keep the ball moving and stepped up in the last term winning his fair share of the ball in the fourth quarter.

#5 Curtis Brown

Good hands coming out of defence and displayed his clever clearing kick through the middle of the ground to provide a release for the Cannons. Brown was a good link up player for the Cannons and applied good tackling pressure. Backed himself in the contest credit to his strong hands and used his impressive vision to kick to a teammate in space. He took a few important intercept marks and propelled the ball back down the field late in the game to give his side opportunities in the forward half. He showed glimpses of good speed to track both the ball and his player to stop his opponents influence. Brown had an impressive passage of play laying a huge tackle in the last quarter in the middle of the ground to get a holding the ball call.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Showed some good dash along the wing and was not afraid to take the contest on and try and break lines. After a relatively quiet first half Ramsay really lifted a gear in the second half to drag his team back into the contest. Showed his dare and execution with a good kick through the middle of the ground to open up the field for the Cannons. Showed good footy smarts and understanding creating strong leads throughout the match and using his speed to outrun his opponents. He was involved in an exciting passage of play receiving the ball and running down the wing, then dishing off to a teammate while he continued to run and present in the forward 50 to slot a goal from about 40 out directly in front. Consistently assessed his options across the ground to dish of passes and work hard to win the ball at the coalface. Seemed to have the footy on a string in the third quarter.

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

Strong in the air and worked hard to bring the ball to ground time and time again. He provided a good contest and led up at the footy well. O’Sullivan worked hard throughout the game to offer a target and showed a good leap to get up and try and win the ball. Showed good presence in the forward 50 throwing his weight around and creating strong leads. He missed an opportunity from about 30 out on a tight angle but later rectified his inaccuracy with a strong mark on a tight angle and nailing it in the dying minutes of the game.  

#29 Campbell Edwardes

Got plenty of hands to ball throughout the game and steadily built into the match to win contests and create doubt when kicking the ball in long down the line. Edwardes had a stint in the forward line and took a big contested mark early in the third quarter and slotted the goal showcasing his strong kicking action. He worked hard throughout the match getting to contests and creating half chances. He showcased his strength taking a heap of marks and denying easy access into the Cannons defensive 50.

#38 Brodie Newman

Worked hard in defence and consistently offered an option down the line. Newman displayed his strong set of hands taking a multitude of marks and making it look easy. Good composure to think his way through the defensive pressure and showed good strength to shrug off a couple of would be tackles, keep his feet and dish the ball off. Newman offered a good contest in the air and used his body well to out position his opponents in one on ones. He used his long booming kick to try and create an inside 50 opportunity for his team and backed himself defensively with a well timed punch in the middle of the ground. Strong overhead and lifted his intensity when the game was on the line displaying his general football smarts and skill. He won the footy time and time again and applied strong physical pressure with some brutal tackles.

Tasmania:

#6 Sam Banks

Found good space and lowered his eyes to find a teammate on the lead multiple times throughout the game. Banks was classy with ball in hand releasing handballs to teammates in better positions and was never far away from the contest. He impressed with his ability to read the flight of the ball and take a clever intercept mark deep in defensive 50 highlighting his strong set of hands.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Was in absolutely everything for the Devils for the full four quarters. He read the flight of the ball well and impacted the contest on every opportunity possible. McGuinness opened the campaign for Tasmania credit to his good goal sense and long booming kick. He applied good defensive pressure to get up and smother the high ball coming in while also showing good composure across the field to think his way through pressure. McGuinness was relatively efficient by foot to hit his teammates lace out on the lead and provided good run through the middle of the field. Impressed with one passage of play linking up with a teammate along the wing to receive a couple of handballs and stream forward. He dropped back into the space to take fill in the gaps and used his long booming kick to get over the mess coming out of defence.

#8 Jake Steele

Steele bobbed up and down throughout the game and applied good defensive and offensive pressure when needed. He made the most of his opportunities in front of goal nailing his only major in the second quarter. Showcased his slick hands to move the ball on.

#25 Jackson Callow

Good strong mark and clever lead up at the footy through the middle corridor. He constantly re-offered in the forward 50 and took a strong mark but did not covert on a tight angle at the start of second quarter. Callow struggled in front of goal only managing three behinds but still posed a dominant threat, using his stature to throw his weight around and create half chances. He showed good strength to out body his opponent and win the ball time and time again for Tasmania. 

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels
By: Ed Pascoe

GWV:

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin had a mixed game playing mostly as a mid in the first half. He was moved forward in the second half and although he led up well and took some nice marks, his kicking at goal let him down. He won a bit of the ball in the midfield early on but he looked most dangerous when moved forward in the second half and if he had kicked a bit straighter it would have been a very strong game from him. Martin finished the game with 18 disposals, six marks and five tackles.

#13 Jay Rantall

It was a quieter day for Rantall by his standards and looked to carry most of the midfield load for the Rebels with the Jets having the advantage in the middle through most of the day. Rantall would still show his great work rate and ability to work up and down the ground, his craftiness by hand was again a staple despite his kicking letting him down occasionally. His only goal came in the third quarter which was a nice kick on the run and would almost kick a great goal in the last quarter with a snap that did not quite make the distance. Rantall finished the game with 19 disposals, seven tackles and one goal.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Hobbs is not draft eligible until 2021 but already looks a great prospect for then with the busy midfielder playing a different role down back which didn’t effect his ability to win the ball with ease. Hobbs was composed with ball in hand and looked confident in riding tackles and evading which is great to see from such a young player. His defensive running was sound and his ability to read the ball was impressive. Hobbs finished the game with 22 disposals, four tackles and four rebounds 50s.

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

Failli was energetic playing forward and through the midfield, he was the smallest player out there but with perhaps the biggest impact especially in the last quarter kicking two great goals. The best of the lot opened up the last term with a classy left foot snap goal. Failli couldn’t do much more in his role, winning 17 disposals, six marks, five tackles and three goals and he is one to watch for the 2020 draft.

#3 Eddie Ford

Ford won plenty of the ball playing as a leading player at half forward, his ability to find the ball and provide an options was pivotal for the Jets and despite a few errors and missed shots on goal he should take confidence in his game. Ford missed a few marks early in the game which wasn’t like him but he would take two very strong marks in the last term. Ford finished the game with 23 disposals and three behinds in what could have been a huge game if he kicked straight.

#4 Lucas Rocci

The Morrish Medalist had a well rounded performance showing a good mix of attacking flair and defensive nous. Rocci often used his nice left boot to his advantage finding targets both long and short with ease and despite showing good initiative with ball in hand he also showed initiative without it, laying some nice tackles with one strong tackle on the wing in the second quarter before quickly getting around on his left foot with a long kick inside 50 that found his teammate. Rocci finished the game with 19 disposals, nine tackles and six rebounds.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar was a ball magnet down back, often taking kickouts he rarely missed a target by foot and was pivotal in the Jets rebounding so well from defence. He got a lot of easy receives but showed he could get his own ball with two very good intercept marks in the first quarter. Cassar finished the game with 26 disposals, nine marks and five rebounds which has been the standard game from Cassar all year in the NAB League.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey reminded everyone why he is one of the NAB League’s most dangerous players when up and running with a big performance through the midfield and one of his most well rounded games this year. Honey started the game well with eight disposals in the first quarter and looking lively, he would show a good mix of attacking flair and hard hitting tackles showing he wasn’t just all flash. Honey finished the game strongly kicking a nice running goal from 50m and setting up two other scoring opportunities with an unselfish pass after taking a mark in the pocket. He also showed his dual sidedness with a long left foot kick inside 50 hitting its mark. Honey finished the game with 23 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Ed Pascoe

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash did absolutely everything he could to get his team over the line; the Murray captain was a strong four-quarter performer, going in hard through the midfield in the first three quarters before moving to his preferred position down back in the last to give his team some run from defence. Ash came out with good intent in the first quarter, laying a good smother to then win the ball and have a flying shot at goal that just missed. Ash’s run and eagerness to move the ball on is his bread and butter and he again showed those traits but it was his appetite for the contest as a midfielder that really impressed and showed he had more strings to his bow. Ash finished the game with 27 disposals, six tackles, five inside 50s and six rebounds.

#31 Josh Rachele

Rachele was almost the match winner for Murray, with his nous around goals a real asset for his side. Rachele was the man of the moment in Murray’s second quarter fightback with two great set shot goals from 50m from identical spots. Murray trailed by as much as 30 points around half way through the second quarter and Rachele’s last goal of that term gave them the lead going into the half time break. Safe to say the decision to start him on the bench in the third quarter after his hot finish to the second quarter was a head scratcher and proved even more so as Murray didn’t managed a goal that quarter, Rachele however would pop up again in the last quarter to kick the goal of the day with a kick on his opposite foot in mid air that got the crowd up and about. Rachele finished the game with 17 disposals, six marks, five tackles and three goals and the U16 MVP showed he is a top prospect for the 2021 draft.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

Bedendo is a player that lacks a strong body and was out-bodied on a few occasions but the small samples he shows make him an exciting forward prospect for next year’s draft. Bedendo showed of his great leaping ability with a nice mark in the last quarter that led to his second goal for the game. Bedendo didn’t get a a lot of the ball but he showed his potential with some great leaps and slick hands when taking possession. Bedendo finished the game with seven disposals, three marks and two goals.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

It was a fairly standard game for Young who has been playing midfield as of late but was moved back to his favoured defensive position against Murray and showed the traits that have him talked as a potential top five prospect this year. Young’s influence was seen early with a strong intercept mark at half back and would set his usual tone with his run and carry and confidence to take the game on. Young was also solid defensively with some strong tackles. You could not fault Young’s game and Dandenong certainly look better with the ball in his hands coming from defence, he finished the game with 24 disposals and seven tackles.

#10 Clayton Gay

Dandenong had a threatening forward line and Gay was certainly one of their more influential forwards, especially in the second half with his marking ability and class really standing out. Both of Gay’s goals came from some strong marks and he would convert his opportunities with a great set shot technique. Gay could do it all both overhead and at ground level with his speed and ability to wheel around on his left foot and find targets going inside 50. Gay has shown an ability to play both back and forward and his marking for a 183cm player is sensational and he looks a strong prospect for the 2020 draft. Gay finished the game with 15 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and two goals.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill bounced back after a quiet game last week to cause havoc inside 50 against Murray Bushrangers. Cahill was a constant threat inside 50 with an opportunistic goal in the first and second quarter and his last coming swiftly in the last quarter, swooping onto a loose ball to kick his third. He had plenty of chances to kick more goals, missing some snaps under pressure and he was a consistent player across four quarters – working hard up the ground as well and seemed to get away from his opposition with ease. Cahill was never out of a contest and was always hovering around the play to keep involved and use his slick ball use to his advantage. Cahill finished the game with 21 disposals, four marks and kicked 3.3

#44 Cody Weightman

The highlight machine Weightman looked set to excite the crowd early with his leaping ability and speed. Weightman kicked his only goal from a free kick but had a hand in helping others try and hit the scoreboard, getting a handball out to Cahill which was super quick. Weightman took a spectacular mark in the third quarter and looked very lively early in that quarter with some quick movement and thinking inside 50, Weightman was unsighted in the last quarter and is hopefully not in doubt for Dandenong’s first final as he is a dangerous proposition for the opposition. Weightman finished the game with 12 disposals and a goal

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.