Tag: jhye clark

PREVIEW | Country clashes continue in NAB League

THE 2021 NAB League home-and-away rounds draw to a close on Saturday, with another two all-country clashes making up the extent of this weekend’s fixtures. A recent shake-up in the competition’s finals structure sees the 13 full-time teams split into conferences, and the country placings will now be finalised ahead of a three-week post-season.

Dandenong Stingrays and Tasmania Devils have been tagged onto the metro standings, leaving five country competitors. With that the case, Gippsland Power has the bye this round as Murray Bushrangers host Geelong Falcons in Wangaratta, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels welcome Bendigo Pioneers to Ballarat.

Murray returns to the fold after missing out on last week’s action, but cannot improve its current ladder position (fourth), while Geelong will look for a sizeable percentage boost and heavy Bendigo loss to stand any hope of snatching second spot. The Falcons should come in full of confidence after an impressive win last time out, but have the lingering mental note of their 57-point loss to Murray all the way back in Round 3 (April).

While standout prospect Josh Rachele looks like being a key absentee along with Allies squad members Cameron McLeod, Charlie Byrne, and Toby Murray, the Bushrangers have a handy combination upon shuffling the magnets. Bottom-ager Oliver Hollands will start in midfield alongside Brisbane father-son candidate Noah Bradshaw and top-ager Kade Chalcraft, with Ryan Eyers looking to show his versatility as the starting ruck.

Vic Country representative Tom Brown has been named for his sixth outing and is one to watch off half-back, with his athleticism boding well for eye-catching intercept marks and plenty of dash on the rebound. There will be a couple of debutants in the mix too, as Max Beattie (forward pocket) and Tom Cappellari (wing) come into the starting line-up.

Bottom-age Geelong Falcons midfielder Jhye Clark is one to watch

The Falcons look quite settled and rightly so after three wins in four games. They will again be without in-form forward Noah Gadsby, but boast a strong engine room. Mitch Knevitt leads the way in there and is a rising prospect, while bottom-ager Jhye Clark and speedy left-footer Cooper Whyte add some class and flair to the mix.

204cm ruck Toby Conway was a handy addition last week and worked well in tandem with Olivier Northam, who has shown plenty of promise post his Under 17 Vic Country outings. Up the other end, Oscar Morrison caught the eye last week and there should be plenty of outside run as Jai McGough returns and Noah Gribble remains. While there are plenty of draft eligible prospect to watch, the Hollands-Clark midfield battle should be an exciting one here.

Over at Mars Stadium, the GWV Rebels will hope for a swift return to the winners list as they host Bendigo in a meeting between the first and second ranked country sides. Both teams suffered losses last week but have shown terrific form at their best, with an even spread in each line-up and some emerging talent to monitor. In a rare instance for country regions this season, these two are yet to play each other in 2021.

GWV Rebels ball magnet Nick Hodgson

The Rebels’ embarrassment of riches in midfield this time sees Sam Butler start on the bench as Nick Hodgson starts alongside mainstays Ben Hobbs and Sam Breuer. Smooth-moving top-ager Marcus Herbert is stationed on the wing, meaning Charlie Molan will likely continue his forward foray along with Fraser Marris. All nine of GWV’s Under 19 Vic Country representatives are available, including skipper Josh Rentsch (ruck). Elsewhere, Blake Scott is a handy addition this week.

Bendigo will be buoyed by the return of Cooper Hamilton, who pushes twin brother Hugh to the bench this week having snared a starting midfield spot. The agility and class of Oskar Faulkhead and Jack Hickman promises to compliment the pair’s grunt at centre bounces.

Having enjoyed a stint down back, top-ager Sam Conforti has this time been named forward alongside usual wingman Cooper Smith, with versatile talents Cobi Maxted, Ryan O’Keefe, and Caleb Ernst bringing plenty of heigh to the front six. A potential match-up to note is between a couple of 2005-born prospects in GWV defender George Stevens and Bendigo forward Harley Reid, who were under-age Vic Country Under 17 teammates this year.

Stay tuned to Draft Central next week, as we wrap up all the results and big performances with our weekly NAB League snapshot, Scouting Notes, Player of the Week, and more.

FIXTURES:

Murray Bushrangers vs. Geelong Falcons | Saturday August 21, 1:00pm @ WJ Findlay Oval
GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers | Saturday August 21, 1:30pm @ Mars Stadium

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 16

THE NAB League made its latest return on Sunday, with two games pitting four country regions agains each other. The Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power picked up wins against higher-ranked adversaries, with rising prospects of all different age-groups impressive. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 16 snapshot

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.16 (28) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.12 (66)

By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo Pioneers:

#1 Sam Conforti

Once again starting among Bendigo’s back six, Conforti constantly looked to generate some spark on the rebound and set his side on the front foot. Tasked with the kick-in duties, the top-ager also got to work by foot in general play with a sharp short-range game and crafty smarts in possession. He had no trouble finding the ball with a team-high 25 disposals in midfield and defence, but also got his hands dirty with 11 tackles as one of the Pioneers’ more consistent and prominent four-quarter performers.

#4 Jack Hickman

Another of Bendigo’s nippy small midfielders, Hickman returned another promising outing with his evasive work around the contest. His spurts of speed and agility meant making space at stoppages was a key feature, with the top-ager able to get to the outer and generate a bit of forward momentum from the middle. One of his highlights was a four-bounce run from defence to the wing which sparked a coast-to-coast passage for Bendigo. He had a chance to hit the scoreboard in term four, but missed his shot from range on the run.

#56 Harley Reid

Get used to reading plenty about Reid for years to come, as the 2023-eligible prospect was again impressive for Bendigo. Having been utilised on a wing and more prominently up forward, Reid was given an extended run in midfield this time out to good effect. He showcased terrific speed coming away from congestion, cleanly bursting to the outside and pumping the ball forward by foot. His explosiveness also served well defensively, as Reid laid some ferocious tackles and dug in for repeat efforts around the ball. He couldn’t quite find the goals this time out from a couple of tough chances, but impacted with each act.

Geelong Falcons:

#3 Euriah Hollard

Hollard returned to the fold and made a splash in his usual small forward role, snaring a game-high three goals from 11 disposals and five scoring shots. The 178cm livewire made things happen when the ball entered his area, attacking it with intent and causing headaches for opposition defenders with his pressure. He could easily have finished with five goals, but finished his three nicely through differing methods; a crumb and snap, a steady drop punt on the run, and a punchy set shot. His scoreboard contribution helped Geelong really put the foot down.

#8 Jhye Clark

With his level of performance thus far in the NAB League, it’s easy to forget that Clark is a bottom-ager. He registered 25 disposals, 10 marks and six inside 50s on the back of outstanding work-rate both at and away from the contest, providing great balance in midfield. In possession, Clark provided opportunities for his forwards and used the ball well on both sides, while also displaying clean overhead marking skills around the ground. He booted a goal in term four with a quick finish on his left foot, proving good reward for effort.

#11 Cooper Whyte

Offering speed and a hard edge in midfield, Whyte again showed flashes of style for the Falcons in a solid outing. The 18-year-old consistently attacked the ball with vigour and looked to get his legs pumping in possession, allowing for swift stoppage exits. He kicked his side inside 50 on seven occasions with that potent left foot and even managed a couple of shots on goal – albeit registering two behinds. His second attempt came after a terrific mark at full stretch, displaying notable courage with contact imminent.

#26 Olivier Northam

While his numbers (nine disposals, four marks, one goal) may not jump off the page, Northam had some memorable moments on Sunday. The bottom-aged ruck spent a good amount of time forward with primary bigman Toby Conway returning, which allowed him to showcase his strong lead presentation and clean marking ability. With a knack for flying high, Northam almost pulled down a speccy in term three and booted a goal in the same period, beating his direct opponent one-out in the goalsquare. He also competed well at ground level, making for a well-rounded effort.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

The most outstanding player across both NAB League games on Sunday, Knevitt continues to boost his stocks after yet another ominous outing in midfield. At 193cm, his contested work was again strong and the 18-year-old dominated in that sense, proving difficult to bring down. Arguably even more impressive was his sustained impact around the ground and up forward, with Knevitt’s work-rate and pack marking leading to a statline boasting 36 disposals and 10 marks. His handling was so clean with one-grab takes in every context, and one of his contested marks lead directly to a third term major. He’s a prospect on the rise.

#56 Oscar Morrison

Another player whose stats (16 disposals, three marks, two rebound 50s) may not tell the full story, Morrison produced some of the game’s most exciting passages from defence. His intercept marking ability was again observed on a couple of occasions, but it was the 18-year-old’s daring dash which really caught the eye. The 193cm bolter backed his pace to burn opponents through the corridor, before delivering spearing balls inside 50 to leading targets. In a flash, Geelong had gone coast-to-coast. While he had some quiet patches, Morrison’s best was really damaging and he seems to have gained a good deal of confidence this season.

#60 Toby Conway

The 204cm bigman returned to action for the Falcons and played his usual game through the ruck, also rotating forward. Conway positioned relatively well around the ground and while he only clunked two marks, competed for many more and had a few ‘almost moments’. In the ruck, he won 23 hit-outs and looked to assert his size by prizing clearances, though 12 of his 14 touches came by hand. It was a solid overall effort from the Vic Country representative.

>> Player Focus: Mitch Knevitt

GIPPSLAND POWER 8.7 (55) def. GWV REBELS 6.12 (48)

By: Declan Reeve

Gippsland Power:

#1 Jacob Konstanty

The Under 17s Vic Country representative was a livewire around the ground throughout the contest, putting up an impressive game for a smaller forward. Konstanty kicked two goals; the first coming from a ground ball pick up in the forward 50, with a little burst away and a neat snap from the pocket, and the second coming when he hit arrived front and centre in the goalsquare with speed, snatching the ball and slamming it through. Not just kicking goals himself, Konstanty worked hard to create scoring opportunities for his side, with his competitiveness at ground level allowing him to win the ball and flick it out via hand inside 50. It was good to see Konstanty pushing up the ground and involving himself in the game even when Gippsland wasn’t getting it inside 50, with his pressure work resulting in stoppages and interrupting GWV’s momentum.

#4 Nathan Noblett

Despite being 183cm, Noblett was the most common target going inside 50 early on for Gippsland, getting himself three first half goals with an excellent display of work-rate inside 50. His most impressive goal came as he won the ball at ground level, quickly balanced himself and slotted it from right on the boundary. Noblett was often able to get separation from his direct opponent when making leads, but wasn’t always able to get free from GWV’s defensive structure.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

Arguably the biggest driver going forward for Gippsland, D’Angelo had periods where it felt like he was the only player on the ground as he won clearances and kicked long. At times beating Ben Hobbs around stoppages, GWV had to adapt to try and negate D’Angelo’s clearance winning. He did well below his knees to win the majority of ground balls he was around, often mopping up after GWV had rushed a kick out of defence.

#29 Bailey Humphrey

Humphrey really stepped up in the last quarter when the game was on the line, digging in and really powering through to win a couple of clearances in a row. His quick hands in close released his teammates well when he opted for that method, otherwise aiming for distance with his kicks from stoppages. He showed some good bursts of speed in close as well, to get separation from opponents quickly.

GWV Rebels:

#1 Sam Butler

After being eased into the midfield in prior games, Butler enjoyed a lot more time on-ball against the Power and showed exactly why he was given the opportunity with an impressive display. Butler added a touch of class to the midfield, complimenting the in-and-under nature of his teammates with composure and ball use. This didn’t stop Butler from showing off some grunt of his own, at times winning contested ball, then showing off his impressive acceleration to power away from opponents. The balanced nature of his game meant he was always a chance to be involved in a piece of play – whether that was winning the ball himself, receiving the releasing handball, or working hard to be an option further afield. A theme across Butler’s game was his work ethic; willing to run both ways, making efforts, and then following up and going again if he wasn’t used or rewarded.

#2 Ben Hobbs

Hobbs was yet again a reliable and hard-at-it player for the Rebels, never conceding a contest without giving it everything he had. Hobbs’ work in-and-under was unsurprisingly elite, fighting hard for front position around stoppages and hunting the ball, running through opponents to win it before firing out a handball to a teammate on the outside, or kicking for distance from congestion. It was impressive to see Hobbs stand up in as many tackles as he did, holding his balance well as opponents tried all they could to pull him down, dishing off a handball to keep the play going. 

#3 Charlie Molan

Lining up in the forward half, Molan’s two-way running was a highlight of his game, pushing back to assist the backline when GWV was under siege, and getting involved as a link-up player or tackler. When GWV had momentum, Molan was used as a marking target in the forward 50 a few times as he worked hard to get separation on opponents and take marks uncontested. He used the ball well, placing his kicks in front of teammates to run onto, or handballing quickly as they ran past to keep play moving. Molan was one that didn’t neglect his defensive duties in the forward 50 either, rushing at opponents to pressure them into a rushed disposal or applying the tackle for a stoppage.

#8 Josh Gibcus

A mixed bag from the key defender saw a relatively quiet first half, as he stuck to his opponent well enough that Gippsland rarely looked to use that option. This lead to a change-up in his approach to the game, as Gibcus started to drift away from his opponent more and more. He impacted contests inside 50, utilising his speed and leap to spoil the ball, while pushing forward to intercept higher up the ground as the game went on. Perhaps most impressive from Gibcus was the high level of his disposal, hitting some difficult handballs in open play and utilising the distance of his kick a bit more than usual, but more often than not going for a shorter switch option around the defensive 50.

#16 Kai Lohmann

Lohmann was electric in the forward half for the Rebels, with his ball use and work below his knees giving GWV some good opportunities in attack. His athletic advantage over most opponents ultimately led to his two goals for the game. The first came after he had picked the ball up of a bounce, sold candy to get around one opponent and then side-stepped another, before snapping the ball from the pocket. The second came as GWV burst away with the ball from a stoppage and Lohmann broke away from his opponent, taking a mark on the lead, then playing on and kicking the goal.

>> Player Focus: Charlie Molan

Featured Image: Geelong Falcons defender Oscar Morrison runs with the ball | Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 16

THE 2021 NAB League season made its latest return on Sunday, with a quartet of Victorian regions getting on the park for a couple of all-country clashes. Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power both earned victories over higher-ranked sides, with shaking up the ladder with finals fast-approaching. We run you through all the results and big performances in the Round 16 snapshot, stay tuned for Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

>> Round 16 POTW: Mitch Knevitt

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.16 (28) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.12 (66)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Geelong Falcons kept and inaccurate Bendigo Pioneers side goalless in the first and fourth quarters, running out impressive 38-point winners in ideal conditions at Queen Elizabeth Oval.

TEAM STATS:

  • Bendigo Pioneers won the handballs (128-124) and rebound 50s (43-33)
  • Geelong Falcons won the kicks (218-168), marks (95-56), and inside 50s (52-39)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers) 25 disposals, 2 marks, 11 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s
  • Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers) 17 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers) 16 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons) 36 disposals, 10 marks, 3 tackles, 8 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons) 25 disposals, 10 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Cooper Whyte (Geelong Falcons) 21 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Olivier Northam (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)

NEXT UP:

To be confirmed.

GIPPSLAND POWER 8.7 (55) def. GWV REBELS 6.12 (48)

IN A SENTENCE: 

The Gippsland Power pulled off another massive boilover on home turf, leading the highly-touted GWV Rebels at every break and holding on to win by seven points in Morwell.

TEAM STATS:

  • Gippsland Power won the rebound 50s (44-26) and hit-outs (32-20)
  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (338-287), inside 50s (52-35), and tackles (71-52)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power) 28 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 7 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Jess McGrath (Gippsland Power) 16 disposals, 5 marks, 8 rebound 50s
  • Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) 32 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Nick Hodgson (GWV Rebels) 32 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 6 inside 50s
  • Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) 27 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
4 – Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)
3 – Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power)
2 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
1 – Bailey Humphrey (Gippsland Power)

NEXT UP:

To be confirmed.

PREVIEW | NAB League goes country in latest return

THE 2021 NAB League season returns once more on Sunday afternoon, with eased lockdown restrictions seeing a quartet of the competition’s Country regions take centre stage. Two games remain for the four teams in action on Sunday, with the added potential for make-up fixtures and a Wildcard Round before finals. Meanwhile, Metro-based programs hope to return to the fold next weekend along with the Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers.

Bendigo Pioneers lock horns with Geelong Falcons for the third time this season when they meet at Queen Elizabeth Oval at 1:00pm, with the ledger currently at an even 1-1. While Bendigo got the chocolates all the way back in Round 4, the Falcons hit back in Round 8 to square things up and set up an intriguing tiebreaker.

The 6-4 Pioneers sit second in the Country pool and are set to welcome back some strong talent. While AFL Academy member Cooper Hamilton remains out, twin brother Hugh returns to the fold and looks poised to join Harvey Gallagher and Jack Hickman in a strong midfield trio. Utility Cobi Maxted is also back after turning out for Collingwood’s VFL side last month, while the likes of Sam Conforti and Oskar Faulkhead offer sound rotation through midfield from either end of the ground.

Toby Conway is among the Geelong Falcons’ inclusions

Geelong boasts some handy inclusions of its own, headlined by 204cm ruck Toby Conway. The influential bigman comes in alongside fellow Vic Country representative Noah Gribble, who last made his VFL debut with Werribee. He shifts out to his familiar wing position with the likes of Mitch Knevitt, Cooper Whyte, and bottom-ager Jhye Clark taking spots on the inside. Top-ager Gennaro Bove remains and small forward Euriah Hollard is back, but the Falcons look set to go in without Noah Gadsby.

Sunday’s second fixture sees first battle last in the Country pool, as the 7-2 Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels travel to take on Gippsland Power (2-7) in Morwell. Despite their perfectly opposite records and current ladder positions, Gippsland picked up the more recent win after toppling Oakleigh Chargers last time out, while GWV went down to Sandringham Dragons. The Rebels easily accounted for their weekend opponents in Round 8 though, to the tune of 79 points on home turf.

The hosts welcome back top-age defender Jess McGrath after his two-game stint in the Richmond VFL set-up, slotting straight back in at centre half-back. Up the other end, Jai Serong has been named at full forward but will likely be thrown around in numerous roles, while bottom-agers Jacob Konstanty (forward) and Cooper Vickery (wing) are a couple to watch. In midfield, Mitchell Moschetti is in fine form and will look to add some polish alongside Luis D’Angelo as the Power move forward.

Ben Hobbs in action for Vic Country

GWV has again named a stacked side, with all nine of its Vic Country representatives available. A midfield squeeze is on the cards with top 10 talent Ben Hobbs named in there alongside Sam Butler and Sam Breuer, seeing the likes of Fraser Marris and Marcus Herbert squeezed out to flanks. Skipper Josh Rentsch may be set for more time in the ruck, and defender Josh Gibcus promises to catch the eye as always. On the interchange, tough midfielder Nick Hodgson is a handy inclusion for the Rebels.

Stay tuned to Draft Central next week, as we wrap up all the results and big performances with our weekly NAB League snapshot, Scouting Notes, Player of the Week, and more.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 15

THE NAB League returned for Round 15 over the weekend, with a set of six fixtures kicked off under Friday night lights in Werribee. While school football competitions also resumed and injuries continue to hit, there was still plenty of top-end talent on show this time around. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> Round 15 snapshot | Round 15 POTW | Round 15 TOTW | August Power Rankings

WESTERN JETS 7.7 (49) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 11.13 (79)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#28 Massimo D’Ambrosio

Having been utilised in a few different roles this year, D’Ambrosio dropped back to defence to good effect in this outing. The 18-year-old moves well and provided plenty of drive out of defence for the Jets as he took the game on with ball-in-hand. D’Ambrosio had plenty do to after half time as he carried the ball on the rebound and looked to be damaging by foot with either inboard options or penetrating balls down the line. He finished with a clear season-high 31 disposals to go with eight marks and 10 rebound 50s.

#32 Paul Curtis

While he started the game off in midfield, it wouldn’t take long for Curtis to switch to his usual forward post and get to work. The crafty small snared Western’s first goal of the night after marking deep on the behind line, and was a constant threat inside 50. While he used his smarts within the arc, Curtis also looked really polished when working further afield where he hardly fumbled and brought others into the play with sharp disposal. He missed a couple of set shots which would have cemented an even better game, but he was productive nonetheless with 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles.

#35 Liam Conway

A key figure in Western’s midfield, Conway again won a mountain of ball to end with a game-high 35 disposals, five marks and five inside 50s. He used his strength over the ball at each contest and was also a solid marking option around the ground, accumulating his touches at a good tick throughout the game. He also spent some in the forward half after the main break, but found the goals in term one with a monster 50m set shot.

Geelong Falcons:

#8 Jhye Clark

A standout at Under 17 level, Clark has transitioned well into the Falcons’ Under 19 program and had another solid outing here. The midfielder isn’t afraid to get stuck in and boasts a pretty well-rounded game; able to go up for overhead marks, win his own ball and tackle at the contest, while also coming away from it with class. Clark finished with 18 disposals and six tackles.

#18 Blake Reid

Having been thrown into midfield at a greater rate this season, Reid was again part of that rotation before being sent back to play a role on Western’s Paul Curtis. He started out with some good early intent at the contest and looked to kick Geelong forward with well-directed passes. Much of his influence after quarter time came in the back half, as he took on the kick-in duties to finish with 23 disposals, seven tackles, and six inside 50s.

#26 Olivier Northam

The bottom-aged ruckman brought plenty of heat to the contest with his intensity and willingness to provide a bit of physicality around the ball. As quite a mobile and competitive tall, he was able to prize his own clearances while also showing a handy leap around the ground to crash aerial balls. He also did the latter when resting forward and found the goals with a set shot in term three. Northam set the tone well for the Falcons as they ran away with the contest during the final quarter.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

Knevitt was the Falcons’ most prolific ball winner on the night with 28 disposals, providing his usual strength to the midfield battle in offensive and defensive settings. The 193cm prospect proved difficult to bring down, constantly able to stand up in tackles and wait to dish off the ideal release handball to his runners. He also made Western feel the hurt with his own tackling and used his burst of speed well to shut the Jets down with solid pressure. As per usual, he also spent some time resting forward but couldn’t snare a goal this time out.

#32 Noah Gadsby

It could have been a huge game for Gadsby if not for some goalkicking inaccuracy, with the athletic forward managing 2.4 from his 22 disposals and four marks. He showed a strong running capacity with his work up the ground, presenting all the way up past the wing to help link Geelong in transition. Gadsby was also lively inside 50 with his various shots on goal and always looked like making something happen, despite his lack of a finished product.

#56 Oscar Morrison

While not his most prolific game, Morrison showed some really promising glimpses in the first half as a dynamic rebounding influence down back. The 17-year-old looked composed for the ball and backed his speed at 193cm to burn opponents or break tackles. He was often in good position to intercept or mop up before taking metres and kicking Geelong into attack.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 9.10 (64) def. by EASTERN RANGES 13.13 (91)

By: Eli Duxson

Dandenong Stingrays:

#8 Bayleigh Welsh

While it was far from his strongest game statistically (33 disposals vs. Gold Coast), Welsh brought a lot of grunt and hustle in his defensive post providing efforts that would not have showed up on the stat sheet. He hit his first contest hard and continued to scrap the disputed ball which set the tone for the way he would go about his day. Defensively he knows how to take the body well without giving away free kicks and can maintain balance over the ball to extract out of congestion (eight handballs). Welsh looked to attack off half back and provided good run and generally tidy skills but was a little overzealous at times in trying to create options moving forward.

#14 Will Bravo

Probably Dandenong’s best player on the day as he accumulated 28 disposals, five inside 50’s, and a goal in the final quarter to top off his day. Showed strong poise and composure over the ball in traffic rarely going to ground while also being active around stoppages to hunt the footy. He showed a high work rate running both ways and found the ball in every single third of the ground. His disposal was generally reliable with pinpoint short passes as he lowered his eyes on many occasions moving forward. One of the inside midfielder’s most well-rounded games for the season.

#22 Mac Andrew

Had a busy first half playing primarily in the ruck as he did for most of the day while resting forward, but his output slowed down as Eastern gained the ascendency. His athleticism was on full display from the get-go with his leap highlighted at the first centre bounce, and his mobility around the ground almost turning him into a fourth midfielder once the ball is in open play. His ground ball gathers were clean and his positioning behind the ball allowed him to mark overhead well. His ruckwork around the game showed his lack of strength will impact his ability to muscle bigger opponents as he opted for a wider starting position to run and jump at the ball unhindered but was often out positioned due to unfavourable throw ins. He finished with 17 disposals, 16 hit outs, and four marks.

Eastern Ranges:

#4 Josh Clarke

Eastern’s skipper had another high disposal effort in his third NAB League appearance for the season playing predominantly out of half back, maximising his penetrating kick moving forward. He managed a whopping 11 inside 50’s from his 21 kicks (seven handballs) as his left boot worked off half back to find multiple targets forward of centre with a couple of goal assists. He ran most of the wing on one occasion taking a few bounces and typified the role of an attacking half back, even accumulating possessions in a Daniel Rich type role taking 11 marks with few being intercept.

#35 Max Hall

Perhaps Eastern’s most impactful player through the midfield amassing a goal, 25 disposals, eight marks, and seven inside 50’s as he continues his string of good form at the back end of the season. Hall’s pace spreading from stoppages was impressive, as was his ability to get to good spots to find and receive the footy. His ball use was stable and was highlighted with a good step and well-weighted hit to a teammate streaming forward who did not have to break stride. His outside work was good, but it was balanced with some inside grunt work showing strength to handball out of tackles, as well as earning himself a free kick for the holding the ball.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.3 (39) def. by CALDER CANNONS 7.7 (49)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

Capable of playing on either side of midfield, Byrne was employed on the inside this time around as a fixture at the centre bounces for Murray. The top-ager got busy around the ball and found plenty of it with 27 disposals, but arguably looked more dangerous when operating in space. On the end of handball receives, Byrne was able to generate some run in transition and make better use of his kicking skills, but was still solid in a slightly different role.

#5 Oliver Hollands

One of the competition’s standout bottom-agers and a familiar name to many, Hollands warmed to the contest well after a couple of shaky moments early on. He tended to do the basics well, showing clean hands and quick disposal in midfield while also working hard to cover plenty of ground up and back. That work-rate and constant pressure around the ball may have hindered his kicking somewhat, but Hollands was typically sharp by hand and always able to dish off in traffic.

#13 Tom Brown

A real riser since returning from injury, Brown wasn’t quite at his best on Sunday but still showed glimpses of his exciting traits. Once again stationed in defence, the Vic Country representative had a couple of rusty-looking moments early but soon sharpened up to look more assured in possession. Brown’s ability to read the play and intercept was evident, as he was never afraid to fly high for his marks despite not always reeling them in cleanly. Having made strong strides of late, there were some handy points to take from his 12-disposal showing.

#52 Tom Bracher

Bracher has taken on an important role for Murray since Paddy Parnell was picked up in the mid-season draft, proving a consistent and reliable small defender who shows great composure on the last line. He accumulated 28 disposals and 13 marks in the back half, rising well for a player of his 177cm stature while using his agility at ground level to get out of tight spots. In a pretty scrappy contest, he proved quite effective.

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

It was a slightly indifferent day for Clohesy, who looked strong in some areas of his game and less so in others. The top-ager showed great aerial ability with his overhead marking around the ground, rising to take the ball cleanly under pressure. He often beat opponents in one-on-one contests, but tended to hack the ball forward with a preference for meterage over precision. He couldn’t quite steer his quick snaps on target, but had an impact with 16 disposals, seven marks and four inside 50s.

#5 Zac Taylor

Taylor has been in incredible form recently and after another short break, hardly missed a beat on Sunday. The crafty small midfielder was busy around the ball, finding less space at the contest but adjusting well to display sound handballing skills. His vision and awareness in traffic were terrific, as he looked to release others into space before pumping his legs a touch more in the second half. He accumulated less around the ground but was mega at the stoppages, accumulating 37 disposals, four marks, and four inside 50s.

#25 Josh Goater

It’s well known that Goater boasts incredible athletic traits, and he is really beginning to show them more consistently with a move to half-back. The top 25 candidate has wickedly clean hands and reads the ball so well, which makes intercept marking look easy when combined with his spring-heeled leap. Goater rose well to cut off numerous Murray attacks among his 11 marks, while also kicking Calder into gear on the rebound. He generally used the ball well and began to back his speed in the final term with a couple of daring one-two passages in transition. With 28 disposals and eight rebound 50s, he showed plenty of quality and should rise on the back of his form.

#30 Sam Paea

Paea worked really hard to provide some presence and spark for Calder inside 50, contributing both in the air and at ground level with limited service. He’s difficult to beat with a clean run at the ball and proved as much with his lone goal – converted after a pack mark from two or three players deep. The top-ager had a few bites of the cherry on most of his six marks, but proved strong in that department while being mobile enough to also impact the ground ball.

GIPPSLAND POWER 12.9 (81) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 9.5 (59)

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power:

#2 Cooper Alger

Whilst nine disposals and two marks might not look like a lot, Alger caught the eye a couple of times with his work rate across the ground. A couple of times in the first half, he won the ball at half-back and under pressure was able to spot a target and execute the pass cleanly. He was one of the most prominent Power players in the first half for his spread and defensive pressure – not always rewarded with tackles, but team efforts – and despite fading in a bit in the second half, had his moments.

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Moschetti was Gippsland’s most consistent across the four quarters and continually won the ball and tried to drive it forward to give his teammates scoring opportunities. He led by example with the most disposals (28), tackles (nine) and second most inside 50s (six), which indicated his influence on the game. Battling away even when the chips were down, Moschetti was able to keep accumulating the ball and putting pressure on the Chargers’ defence with his repeat entries inside 50 and defensive pressure around the ground.

#23 Jai Serong

The draft-eligible talent was thrown everywhere during the match, starting midfield, then going forward, then on the wing to start the second half, before playing forward again in the last term. After a quiet start to the match, Serong got more involved as the game went on, with the fourth term being his most lively. He started well at high half-forward reading the ball well in fight to take a good mark going back with the flight, then pulled down a terrific contested mark flying in from the side 30m from goal to nail the set shot and put Gippsland in front for the first term. He then set up a scoring chance for a teammate late in the piece and looked lively by hand and moving well, a lot more actively involved around the play.

#24 Jonti Schuback

Played out of defence and the bottom-age talent was reliable more often than not, showing quick hands off half-back and then tasked with the kickout duties at times. He provided some good run during the game, and mostly drew opponents before executing the handball, or shuffling out the ball quickly to open up transitional opportunities for his side

#37 Max Walton

A mixed bag of a day for Walton who certainly found his fair share of the football. He had some terrific offensive moments driving it out of the back 50, but also made a few mistakes along the way. His long kicking down the ground enabled his side to clear the ball from danger, and he was also strong in the air. He was constantly looking to run and carry, and that enabled his team to be always on the move and play an attacking brand of football. In the third term he had a moment to forget where he fumbled in the back pocket but under pressure managed to clean it up. Overall one of the better Power players on the day.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Had a huge start to the game where he racked up a ton of the ball and seemed to be involved in every play. His quick hands and size enabled him to win a fair amount of free kicks for over the shoulder, and he was able to set up a couple of scoring opportunities, including a first quarter goal to Luke Kelvie. Laying more tackles than anyone else on the field (10), Dib’s pressure remained consistent throughout the match, even when he faded in the second half. He still had plenty of inside 50s early in the piece, and was able to worry the opposition with his mix of offensive and defensive traits.

#4 Sam Tucker

The standout player on the ground, and certainly from the Chargers perspective, Tucker was unbeatable in the air with his strong hands around the ground. Playing deep forward then working hard up the ground, he showed off his work rate by often leading out and doubling back to goal. He pulled down a contested mark in the goalsquare in the opening minute of the game, and then kicked a second goal in the third term from a similar contested mark, clunking it one-grab in a pack. His short kicking was reliable looking good going forward, and on occasion tried to open up the forward line by winning the ball on the wing and thumping it inside 50 for his quicker teammates to run onto. He had a couple more chances on goal in the second and third terms but missed those chances out on the full, and falling short. Overall a strong performance from the top-age key forward.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The other top-age performer who put together a consistent, four quarter performance, Jenkins buzzed around the ground and was particularly influential in the first half when the game was on the line. He had a chance on goal early which missed to the right, but kept pushing hard to drive it forward. At times he would rush his disposal under pressure, but he found plenty of it, and was a key contributor in generating scoring opportunities for the Chargers. When the team was dropping off late in the game, Jenkins was still working hard to arrest the tide.

#27 Karl Worner

Started forward then played off a wing and pushing defensively to assist off half-back, Worner slotted into multiple roles on gameday. He started with a set shot which despite its power, went out on the full, then missed the chance at goal from 15m out when he rushed the kick on the outside of the boot. After the first quarter, Worner played further up the ground and won the ball, having a hit and miss game in terms of his disposal, but providing the Chargers with plenty of run in transition. He spread and always offered up being an option in space, looking to find the loose ball and take grass down the field.

#56 Yu Ashwin

After a quieter start to the game, Ashwin kicked three of his side’s last four goals to firstly keep his side on top, and then be the only one to put through a major late in the game. Ashwin’s first goal after getting forward on the end of a scoring chain occurred in the third term, then took a good mark inside 50 and slotted his second goal from a set shot. Gippsland had all the momentum in the last, but Ashwin found his way into an open goal later in the term and slotted his third to make it three goals from nine touches in an efficient performance.

GWV REBELS 6.10 (46) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 10.10 (70)

By: Tom Wyman

GWV Rebels:

#1 Sam Butler

Sam Butler played a solid game up forward for the GWV Rebels. The brother of St.Kilda’s Dan, Butler showed flashes of similarities to the Tigers premiership star, such as his quickness off the mark and cleanness at ground level. He pounced on a loose ball to kick an easy goal in the second term after narrowly missing a flying attempt earlier on. Butler pushed up into the midfield on a couple of occasions but looked most dangerous closer to goal.

#2 Ben Hobbs

The hard-nosed inside midfielder produced another strong performance for the Rebels in their defeat to Sandringham. Renowned for his attack on the ball and tough tackling, Hobbs featured prominently around the stoppages, reading the ruck-taps well and positioning himself well. Hobbs’ vision and ball use by hand were also noteworthy strengths of his performance, however his distribution by foot was inconsistent, with some of his kicks missing their targets but others nicely weighted. The highlight of his game was a long-range set-shot from outside-50m which sailed through for arguably the Rebels best goal of the match.

#3 Charlie Molan

Although the Rebels would ultimately succumb to their metro-based counterparts, wingman Charlie Molan produced an excellent performance for the home side. The reliable teenager produced a dominant second term, where he seemed to be in everything going forward for Greater Western Victoria. Arguably the Rebels best on ground, Molan also did some of his best work along the half-back flank, where he used the ball well by foot and linked up well between the arcs.

#8 Josh Gibcus

The key position defender had a decent day down back, without starring. Touted as one of the best key position defenders in the draft pool, Gibcus’ athleticism was clearly evident despite not winning much of the ball. He fought well in one-on-one contests and looked cool and calm with ball in-hand when placed under pressure deep in defence.

#13 Sam Breuer

Midfielder Sam Breuer was prolific all-day long for the Rebels. Attacking each contest hard, Breuer combined well in the middle with the likes of Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan. He showed a nice turn of pace and looked assured with ball in-hand for the most part, which complemented the hard-nosed, highly-contested approach of Hobbs and the calm skills of Molan. Having spent some time down back this season, it was pleasing to see him find plenty of the ball through the middle against Sandringham.

#16 Kai Lohmann

Lohmann produced an eye-catching performance which is sure to have captured the attention of recruiting staff. Playing across half-forward, Lohmann’s aerial brilliance was stunning at-times, using his impressive leap to fly above packs and haul in a number of contested marks. But not only was Lohmann impressive in the air, once the ball hit the deck, he used his speed and dash to provide some important run and carry on the outside. He tackled well and booted the Rebels lone opening term goal. Lohmann is certainly one to watch in the back-half of the season as he looks to rise up draft boards across the country.

Sandringham Dragons:

#5 Lachlan Benton

Lachlan Benton spent the game going head-to-head with the likes of Hobbs, Breuer and Molan in the midfield, and got better as the game wore on. His work at the stoppages was particularly impressive in his sides win. Benton showed a high level of footy smarts in regards to his positioning and ability to read the taps, then complimented smarts with breakaway acceleration to evade traffic. Benton continued to rack up the touches into the fourth quarter as his side put the foot down, displaying a good work ethic throughout.

#6 Blake Howes

Blake Howes possesses the ability to play a variety of roles across the field, and it was his work on the outside of the contest which stood out on Sunday afternoon. The athletic prospect worked hard around the ground and showed some real class and skill by foot to nail a couple of handy goals. Howes was good above his head and classy on the outside but, crucially, wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty on the inside in a strong display from the Victoria Metro prospect.

#32 Dante Visentini

Visentini was arguably the most dominant key position player on the ground for Sandringham. He shared the ruck role with over-ager Felix Flockart but looked at his best when operating out of the forward-50. For a tall player, Visentini’s attack on the ball at ground level impressed and complimented his aerial ability. He booted back-to-back goals in the middle of the game – the first being a terrific snap after taking the ball out of the ruck and the second being a well-taken set-shot to extend the Dragons lead at Ballarat. Overall, it was an impressive showing from the big man, who worked hard around the ground.

#42 Luke Cleary

It was a typical-Luke Cleary performance from Sandringham’s half-back. He read the game beautifully, getting himself into position quickly and taking a couple of important intercept marks. Cleary was clean below his knees and generated some meaningful drive from defence, hitting almost all of his targets by foot. His efficient ball-use went a long way to the Dragons ability to transition from the backline into the forward-50.

#52 Luke Nankervis

Nankervis has filled a number of roles this season, including across a half-forward flank and on the wing, but spent more time in the midfield against the Rebels. His willingness to take the game on really benefitted the Dragons forwards, who thrived upon the quick ball movement. An athletic mover who looks to have plenty of upside and room for development left in him, Nankervis was impressive one-on-one and had some nice moments in congestion, where his quick hands initiated some meaningful drive from the stoppages.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Small forward Eren Soylemez was a real livewire up forward for the Dragons. His forward craft was immediately evident as he worked his way into some very damaging positions. He had a couple of early attempts on goal, which were gettable by his high standards. However he found his form as the game worn on. In the final term he booted a classy left-foot snap goal to remind everyone of his prowess from just about anywhere inside the forward-50. A real source of energy for the Dragons, Soylemez also pushed up the ground at-times and looked to inject some creativity into the game. Despite a couple of blemishes in-front of goal, Soylemez looked ominous whenever the ball was in his area.

#59 Mitch Owens

St.Kilda’s next generation prospect entered the clash against Greater Western Victoria in strong form, and continued where he left off. Owens spent the game on the wing but also had a couple of important touched in the back half, where he positioned himself well to take a couple of intercept marks, one of which displayed plenty of courage. Liked some of his work around the stoppages as well. A versatile prospect, Owens appears to have plenty of likeable traits which would appeal to recruiters.

#66 Charlie McKay

Carlton fans will have been pleased with the performance of their father/son prospect. His aggression and seemingly relentless attack on the football stood out, as McKay refused to be beaten time and time again at ground level. A real midfield fighter, his battle with Rebel star Ben Hobbs was an enjoyable one, with the duo cracking in hard and winning an abundance of contested ball for the duration of the match. He used the ball slightly better than Hobbs and took a very courageous mark in heavy traffic, which would have pleased onlookers.

#74 Felix Flockart

Felix Flockart showed some very promising signs for the Dragons in their top-of-the-table victory. Although he is a couple of years older than most of the competition, the developing tall looked strong through the ruck and up forward. When given a run on-ball, his tap-work often provided the Dragons on-ballers with first-use. His positioning in the ruck contest was solid and he also looked threatening when moved up forward. He worked well in-tandem with Dante Visentini, with the pair causing some headaches for the Rebels defence.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.8 (56) def. by BENDIGO PIONEERS 12.7 (79)

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#9 Darcy Wilmot

There was plenty of voice coming from Northern’s number nine and while he has plenty of vocal presence, Wilmot also lets his football do the talking. He set up well behind the ball and was able to play slightly above his size when intercepting, not afraid to go up at contest for strong marks. Wilmot began to get more expansive with his run-and-carry after half time, working hard into more advanced areas and even getting a run in midfield, where his speed was again prominent on the attack.

#10 Ben De Bolfo

Bendigo was quite efficient in its forward half which made De Bolfo’s job all the more tough, but he proved a calm head behind the ball for Northern. The top-ager positioned well to intercept and looked to distribute cleanly by foot, making for a pretty well-rounded defensive game. He began to hold a slightly higher line in the second half, but the Knights couldn’t get their final kick forward to work on the back of his solid set-up.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

The Knights skipper was unsurprisingly prolific and near-unbeatable at the contest, racking up 34 disposals, seven marks, and seven tackles. Trudgeon’s mature frame and willingness to get in-and-under meant he earned most of those touches, but was often made to go to ground or lock the ball up as he scrapped to win it. He still managed to stand up in tackles and distribute cleanly by hand, with a few of slips-catch style marks also a feature of his game. Trudgeon rotated forward and kicked a team-lifting goal before quarter time, but missed a couple of later attempts.

#26 Dominic Akuei

For a player with such outstanding and raw athleticism, Akuei has also shown solid defensive fundamentals in recent weeks. The Carlton NGA prospect took on his usual role in the back half and also rotated through the ruck, where his monster vertical leap was on show. Akuei leant on that athleticism to time his spoils and intercepts well in the first half, before taking on more minutes in the ruck after the main break. He looks to still be working on his craft there, and could provide some exciting moments with better directed hits, as he usually taps with momentum and follows up from there.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was thrown around in a few different roles on Sunday, starting out in the midfield-forward rotation before eventually being swung back to his more comfortable defensive post. He put a couple of tough chances wide in the opening term and got amongst the contest, but arguably looked more lively in defence after half time. Fitzgerald read the ball well and rose for repeat intercept grabs, helping Northern break up the play.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

He’s had more prolific games, but Gallagher still managed to wreak some havoc with his 14 disposals and seven inside 50s. The speedy midfielder also booted two goals; the first coming out of nowhere as he burst away and launched home from 50m, while the second was a set shot won from a smart slip of the shoulders and high free kick. Gallagher was a productive driver of the ball and hit a couple of sharp passes going inside 50, making full use of his touches.

#4 Jack Hickman

Another Bendigo midfielder who didn’t win bucketloads of ball but looked stylish in possession, Hickman showcased his turn of speed coming away from the contest and looked busy around the ball – particularly early on. The top-ager back his pace and was able to bring the ball to the outer that way, but struggled a touch at times with his end product. He finished with 14 disposals and seven tackles, also rotating forward.

#7 Ryan O’Keefe

The raw key forward continues to show promising glimpses and did so again on Sunday, contributing 10 disposals, five marks, and two goals. He spent time in all parts of the ground but looked most likely up forward, where he used his leap to mark the ball at its highest point. O’Keefe’s first major came via that exact method, as he got up to mark in front and slotted home from 20m. He clunked another nice overhead grab in the fourth term and snapped home a sealing goal, bookending his day well with those two passages.

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

Usually a smooth moving defender, Faulkhead has spent more time rotating through midfield of late and did so once again on Sunday. He caught the eye when released coming away from the contest, positioning well on the outer while using his speed and agility to break into clear space. He made some good decisions by foot too, looking inboard or hitting targets down the line to end up with 14 disposals, five tackles, and three inside 50s.

#56 Harley Reid

The youngest player afield and the only won born in 2005, Reid again showed just why he is one to keep a keen eye on for the future. Stationed up forward, the under-ager snared three goals for the day – two in the second term and one team-lifter in the last. He proved willing to use his explosive athleticism in the air, attacking the ball hard in marking attempts and almost coming down with some ripper grabs. Reid also nailed a couple of hard tackles and while he may pop up in patches at this stage, is so exciting given his age and upside.

Scouting Notes | 2021 U17 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro (Game 2)

A FIXTURE adjustment saw the Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17s face off once more, and it was the Country side which came out on top this time around – claiming a nine-point win in Bendigo. There were a few changes scattered across either side and plenty while the usual suspects continue to impress, others also put their hands up in representative colours. We run through some of the top performers in the latest edition of Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro – Game 2

VIC COUNTRY:

#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)
9/11/2004 | 174cm | Small Forward

After a relatively quiet game in the previous fixture, Konstanty ended the game as Country’s leading goal kicker with three majors – all of which were different from the others, but all equally as exciting as he showed the ability to get goals through multiple avenues. The first goal came as he laid a strong tackle inside forward 50 and converted the shot on a slight angle. His second came as Country moved the ball quickly in transition, with Konstanty the only forward inside 50. He leaped up against two defenders and held the ball strongly above his head despite receiving contact, before slotting the goal from about 45 out. His third and final goal came from a long kick inside 50, where Konstanty managed to nudge his opponent off balance and beat the other defenders in a foot race for the loose ball, and dribbled it through. He had his opportunities to get more goals on the board, but chose to do the team first thing and pass it off to other teammates, even if he was in achievable positions.

#2 Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
22/10/2004 | 176cm | Forward/Inside Midfielder

Positioning more up forward than in the midfield, O’Sullivan played a great pressure forwards’ game. His attack on the ball and carrier in the forward half caused rushed disposals or turnovers from the Metro defenders, and quite often he laid some impressive tackles where he’d run in from seemingly nowhere to apply it. Showed some good leaping when he flew for the ball, taking a strong grab overhead early on where he took it at the highest point and followed up with a short kick inboard. He also showed an impressive sense of footy IQ in the second quarter where he got the ball from a teammate, running towards the boundary, then turned on a dime to hit a teammate inside 50 on the chest.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 182cm | Balanced Midfielder

Continued on from the previous fixture to be one of the best midfielders across the game, with his balance around the contest being a particularly big part of Country’s ability to get the ball forward often. Played well around stoppages, getting his way in front of opponents regularly and putting himself in a spot to win the ball cleanly, but still able to win it when it was a 50-50 and then get a quick handball out to a runner. The fact he found it so easy to keep his hands free when being tackled by opponents made it easier for him to get effective hands out, with his Metro opponents seemingly unable to pin an arm at any time. When playing more of a receiver role through the midfield, his movement around the contests to get into a prime spot for the handball was good, with his follow up burst always catching opponents off guard, allowing him to get free in space and take his time delivering well weighted kicks to his teammates.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Inside Midfielder/Small Forward

Whilst Long wasn’t necessarily as prolific as he had been the previous week, at least to the eye, he still managed to have a big impact in the win, working hard to get handball receives on the outside to keep Country moving forward. Looked at his best early on in the contest where he continued to do the impressive work with his contested side of the game, and follow up clean handballs. A later move into a more forward role would limit his ball winning opportunities, but allowed him to show off some polish with his kicking that he was missing previously, proving that when in space he can execute some penetrative kicks. Showed good smarts and vision as well, with some switch kicks later in the game allowing Country to ultimately get further up the ground than if he had taken other options.

#7 Max Clohesy (Murray Bushrangers)
12/02/2004 | 179cm | Defender

Playing a watertight defensive game, Clohesy was a consistent hindrance to Metro’s scoring attempts as he worked hard to impact the play in the defensive 50, and followed up strongly in transition to provide an offensive threat as well. Set the tone early in the backline with his rebound kicking looking good up to the wings or down the line, and aggression in collecting loose balls meaning Metro had to hit targets or it would be coming straight back out. Showed some impressive balance in the second quarter where he won the ball at ground level and managed to get his way through a pack of three or four opponents, keeping his feet and coming out the other side to deliver long up the ground for a teammate to run onto. Was measured in his pressing from the backline, never being too far away from his opponent as to let them have the ball uncontested, but also in a spot where he could intercept a rushed Metro kick.

#8 Sam Frangalas (Dandenong Stingrays)
20/04/2005 | 186cm | Midfielder/Forward

After missing selection in the first fixture, Frangalas took no time at all to validate his selection in this game. A strong bodied midfielder, Frangalas excelled with his work below his knees, even when under direct pressure, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground with one grab consistently and following up with quick hands to runners when the option was there, or using his footwork to get around opponents. One moment like this saw Frangalas pick the ball up with pressure form behind, fake one way, then fake the other and go on the third time round, handball to a teammate, then get it back and kick long inside 50. His kicking was also solid despite some errors, especially over long distance as he weighted and placed the kick well for leading teammates.

#9 Cooper Vickery (Gippsland Power)
16/12/2004 | 180cm | Defender

Playing in a similar manner to fellow defender Clohesy, Vickery was a more ‘defend first’ type of player in his approach to the game, although he didn’t allow it to stunt his overall game, as he was still able to impact the play away from his opponent, pushing to create outnumbers and get the ball out long. He contested well aerially and was a reliable intercept option, taking some contested grabs in the defensive 50.

#11 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 180cm | Inside Midfielder/Defender

Started the game looking like he may have a quieter one than the previous fixture, but worked into it as it went on to have a particularly strong second half. Just did his bread and butter stuff, which covers a lot of desirable traits, with his contested work standing out as he was again difficult to beat one-on-one at ground level, and even harder to bring down in tackles. Continually kept his arms free in congestion to fire off some extremely impressive handballs in close where he released runners into dangerous spots, with one moment in the third quarter catching the eye in particular, where he was being tackled by two opponents and had a third closing in, but he managed to hold his ground and get a handball out to a runner that kick-started a counter attack. His kicking was once again impressive for a player that’s almost always winning the footy in congestion, managing to get through traffic and hit targets laterally or leading at him, but he also chose the right options when in space or kicking from a mark. His marking looked improved from the previous fixture, flying high a few times and holding contested marks above his head, able to get on shoulders on a few occasions as well to get onlookers excited for more. Overall, Clark was arguably best on ground, with his defensive efforts resulting in a few promising Metro plays being stopped in their tracks in the final term.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Making an immediate and consistent impact on the contest, Schuback built on the previous game where he displayed class and composure with ball in hand through the defensive half, winning more of the ball and running through the midfield to show exciting glimpses of his potential. Was clean through traffic early on, finding himself involved in congested plays around the top of the defensive 50 and weaving through traffic to dispose of the ball to free teammates – often putting it in front of leading teammates to run onto, or popping a handball over the top for teammates in close to collect and continue moving forward. Took the majority of the early kick-ins where he was balanced with his decisions, kicking to shorter options when the long ones were covered, but running it out and kicking long when a teammate presented well. Held his marks well, even getting a pack mark on the wing early on in front of four or five opponents. Looked comfortable with his move to the midfield, adding a touch of extra class and composure with his ball use and positioning.

#18 George Stevens (GWV Rebels)
14/04/2005 | 190cm | Defender

Playing a similar role to the previous game, Stevens often found himself as one of the last lines of defence for Country. Where others may have struggled with this role, Stevens thrived with his reactions in transition vital to a few of his intercept marks in the defensive 50 to stop Metro attacks. Used the ball well by foot on his shorter options, not afraid to go through the corridor out of defensive 50, and make himself an option for a follow up kick out wide. Was strong with his tackling and ground level work as well, not being knocked off balance and staying in it until the ball was out of play.

VIC METRO:

#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
24/02/2005 | 168cm | Small Forward

The Eastern Ranges livewire forward was active and exciting as ever in the forward half for Metro. Early on in the game, Watson was roving off packs well in the forwardline, hitting the drop zone with speed and quickly handing out when he won it. Flew for a mark on the goalline and held it well, but it was unfortunately called over the line for a behind. Kicked Metro’s first goal when he reacted well to a teammate moving out of congestion, getting separation on the lead, taking it on the chest and converting. Was present without being exceptional in the middle two quarters, getting a few nice touches and impressing with his kicking, but it was his final quarter that stood out the most, as he slotted three of his own goals to almost drag Metro to a victory. All three were good displays of his forward instinct, with the most impressive being his final one as he got it out the back of a pack on the goal line and got boot to ball before an opponent could.

#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/01/2004 | 178cm | Wing

Demonstrating his class and elusiveness with the ball, Windsor was a delight to see throughout the contest. Made the wing his own for a large chunk of the game, looking particularly damaging with his attacking plays by foot. Had a moment in the first quarter where he collected a ground ball running towards his defensive goals, gave it off via hand and got it back two times, then turned on a dime and hit a centring kick, showing his composure and elusiveness. Held his space well, highlighted best in the third quarter where he was on the opposite wing to a stoppage on the defensive 50 mark, was used by the clearance winner that placed the ball in front of him, where he collected it at full speed, took a couple of bounces and kicked long inside 50. Whilst he had his flashy plays and impressive kicks, a standout feature of Windsor’s game is his approach to ground balls under pressure, pushing opponents away with his hips to take the ball a little easier and burst away after collecting it.

#10 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/06/2004 | 181cm | Inside Midfielder

Wardlaw demonstrated his strength throughout the contest, regularly able to fend off opponents trying to bring him down, or stand up in tackles even when two opponents were hanging off him in an attempt to bring him down. Kept his hands free through congestion as well, letting him release to runners with his quick hands in tight. He won a lot of first possession around stoppages, positioning well to ensure there wasn’t any opposition between himself and the ball, giving him a clean run at it and quickly firing out hands. Was a strong tackler, particularly around stoppages, making it particularly difficult for the inside midfielders from Country to consistently get the ball out after winning first possession off ruck taps.

#13 Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)
20/08/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Midfielder

Playing in a variety of roles, Pascu looked at his best when given an extended run through the rover role in the final term, where his attack on the footy from the rucks’ hands and in the contest was a big part in Metro’s late scoreboard surge. He was clean with the footy for most of the contest, not looking fazed by pressure or congestion around him to deliver well weighted kicks forward for his teammates to run onto without issue. Was defensively accountable throughout the game, with one particular tackle in the last quarter on the wing proving vital for a late goal, as he got a free kick for holding the ball.

#15 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)
20/05/2004 | 184cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Starting the game in the defensive 50, Teal was particularly impressive with his contested marking, standing strong and holding the ball over his head multiple times. He drifted off his opponent to take intercept marks in front of packs early on in the game, and followed up with smart ball use by foot, often looking to switch the ball and get Metro taking up space. Moved into the midfield from the third quarter onwards where he had some nice moments with his disposal, with his handballing under pressure particularly impressive from stoppages – able to read the ball well off rucks hands and then quickly fire a handball of his own to the outside. Showed a lot of courage with his tendency to sit under the flight of the ball in an effort to mark it or receive a handball on the full, not flinching even with contact and then releasing the ball quickly.

#16 Elijah Tsatas (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/10/2004 | 184cm | Wing/Half-Back

Already looking like one of the top end prospects for 2022, Tsatas managed to have a major impact throughout the entirety of the contest despite being put into the backline at times, with his burst of speed particularly eye-catching and leading to some exciting plays. That same burst got him separation on the outside really quickly, making him a dangerous runner when given the handball from an inside ball winner, running it the distance before following up with a penetrative kick. His kicking was superb throughout the clash as well, regularly putting it to the advantage of his teammates, or pinpointing it straight to their chest when he could. On the rare occasion he found himself stuck in congestion or in the thick of the contest, his quick hands, and ability to keep them free, meant the ball didn’t get held up – even having a moment where he jumped to collect the ball mid air from a handball, and immediately fired it off to a teammate as he was tackled.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Country evens the ledger with clinical goalkicking display

A clinical goalkicking display from the Vic Country Under 17s has seen them even the ledger against Vic Metro, downing their rivals by nine points at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Monday afternoon. Hosts for a second time running, the Country side made better of their fewer chances on goal, holding off a late Metro surge to win 12.2 (74) to 9.11 (65).

While they had most of the early territory, Metro’s radar was off and Country made them pay. Gippsland Power small forward Jacob Konstanty was involved in the game’s first two goals, first catching Zac Greeves cold in a run-down tackle, and then using a downfield free kick to pass off to Zane Duursma. When Henry Hustwaite made good on another inside 50 free kick, Country were three goals in the ascendancy. Nick Watson, who had a bunch of chances for Metro, finally replied with less than five minutes on the clock, ensuring Elijah Tsatas’ classy delivery inside 50 would not be wasted. Still, Metro trailed by seven points at the first break.

It was more of the same during term two on the scoreboard, with Country able to capitalise much more frequently. They booted five goals to Metro’s one, including the last four, with two of them coming via some brilliant Konstanty forward craft. Country’s ability to hit the leading talls inside 50 was terrific, as were the resultant conversions from Felix Fogarty and Olivier Northam at range. Matthew Jefferson was Metro’s sole form of scoring resistance and moved well for a player of his 193cm frame. His side still trailed by 28 points at half time, despite having two more scoring shots than Country.

Country looked like well and truly running away with it when George opened the scoring after half time, with the function of his side’s forwardline proving difficult to combat. Jaxon Binns’ eye-catching dribbler signalled party time, with the momentum only halted by Kai Windsor’s 50m penalty conversion for Metro. As they had done all day, Country hit back with an instant reply with Northam’s second major, before adding another for good measure to lead by 46 points heading into the last break – with only one more scoring shot.

It seemed as if the sting was well and truly out of the game during term four, with Metro taking eight minutes to get on the board and mount their fightback. But when it rains, it pours, and the visiting side slammed on a further five unanswered goals to finish in a flurry. Watson capped off the game with three in the quarter, finishing with a game-high four majors – though it was to no avail.

Jhye Clark was again a force in the Country midfield and around the ground, along with skipper Oliver Hollands and Noah Long. Classy defender Jonti Schuback provided his usual drive out of the back half before roaming further afield, while Konstanty (three goals) was a menace inside forward 50.

Watson was among Metro’s best and the spark for his side’s fightback, but it was George Wardlaw who started plenty of chains with his tough work in midfield. Tsatas used the ball beautifully from the wing and half-back, as did Paul Pascu and the productive Kai Windsor. Having made a promising start to the game, Will Ashcroft was not used after half time.

VIC COUNTRY 3.0 | 8.0 | 12.1 | 12.2 (74)
VIC METRO 1.5 | 2.8 | 3.9 | 9.11 (65)

GOALS:

Vic Country: J. Konstanty 3, B. George 2, O. Northam 2, Z. Duursma, H. Hustwaite, F. Fogarty, J. Binns, S. Frangalas
Vic Metro: N. Watson 4, M. Jefferson, K. Windsor, C. Harvey, A. Tsia, B. Drury

BEST:

Vic Country: J. Clark, J. Schuback, C. Vickery, J. Konstanty, O. Hollands, N. Long
Vic Metro: N. Watson, G. Wardlaw, E. Tsatas, H. O’Keefe, K. Windsor, P. Pascu

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes | 2021 U17 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro won out in Saturday’s Under 17 Victorian derby, powering away with the last seven goals of the game to defeat Vic Country by 34 points at GMHBA Stadium. The hard-fought contest and exciting bursts of scoring allowed a number of budding 2022 draft prospects to shine, with 10 of the top performers from either side featuring in our Scouting Notes. Each note is the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: Vic Metro def. Vic Country

Vic Country:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
22/10/2004 | 176cm | Forward/Midfielder

Predominantly playing across the half-forward line with some stints through the midfield, O’Sullivan impressed with his ferociousness on the ball and opponent alike, throwing himself into the thick of every contest he was around. With pressure forwards worth their weight in gold at the next level, O’Sullivan marked himself as one to watch for the 2022 draft, repeatedly laying tackles or forcing opponents to rush their disposal with his pressure. A really impressive aspect of his game is how quickly he can get up off the ground after being brought down or laying a tackle himself, almost striding himself back up to try and win the spilled ball. Despite standing at just 176cm, he made himself an aerial threat, taking an impressive contested mark on the half-forward line against a bigger opponent.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 182cm | Balanced Midfielder

Like his older brother, Gold Coasts’ Elijah, Oliver was a key part of the Country team, playing across all lines throughout the four quarters to prove himself a versatile and consistently impactful prospect. What was evident almost immediately with Hollands was his cleanliness with the ball and below his knees, able to take clean pick-ups off of packs, even when under pressure, and follow up with a clean handball to a teammate or kick forward. He looked at his best when he was attending centre bounces in the second half, where he just consistently got to the fall of the ball off the rucks’ hands, even when he had specific attention from Metro, battling for front position and putting himself in an area where he could run straight onto the ball and not worry about pressure coming from the other way. Had a few eye catching moments with his zip and agility away from stoppages, particularly with a moment in the second quarter where he got past two opponents with two side-steps, despite being right up on the boundary. It wasn’t all offensive from Hollands either having started the game on the wing, where he didn’t win a heap of it early, but still impacted with tackling and high defensive work rate, diving to smother a few kicks off the boot at times.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Inside Midfielder

Playing a style not too dissimilar to 2020 AFL Rising Star winner, Fremantle’s’ Caleb Serong, Long was a bull and consistent ball winner on the inside throughout the entire contest. One of the few players on ground to play midfield pretty much all game, it wasn’t hard to understand why the Country coaches wanted to keep him there as much as possible. Long won the first clearance of the day, setting the tone early with his ferociousness in the contest, pushing past opponents to get first hands on the ball. Unsurprisingly, as an insider midfielder Long’s hands in close were exceptional, able to quickly fire out handballs to release runners even when being brought to ground. Those quick hands translate to his kicking as well, able to pick the ball up off the ground cleanly and then put it on his boot in one action. Although at times his kicking was rushed and didn’t look pretty, he got distance behind it, pulling out the barrel a couple of times. He was part of the early scoreboard pressure Country applied in the third quarter, taking a contested mark above his head and slotting it from about 30 out, showing that when given time he can kick really well. Appointed the Country co-captain alongside Hollands, it was good to see him be directive and vocal with his teammates throughout the contest.

#11 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 180cm | Inside Midfielder

Looking far more imposing than his 180cm frame would suggest, Clark was arguably the most impressive of the contested ball winning brigade for the game. At times looking like recent Geelong Falcons graduate Tanner Bruhn with his inside work and follow up clean ball use, it was truly amazing what Clark managed to do with the ball under so much pressure. Like a lot of inside midfielders, his quick handballing and cleanliness at ground level was top notch, picking it up with one hand under pressure at times, not being knocked off balance or brought down by heavy contact from opponents. His kicking was also impressively clean, whilst sometimes not pretty, it was always weighted well to the advantage of his teammates. One of his more impressive kicks came when he received a handball under pressure at the top of the centre square, stood up and broke free from a tackle, then composed himself and laced it out to a teammate laterally off one step, in front of him so he could keep his opponent away from it. He won a lot of clearances around the ground, with the one impressing the most being deep inside defensive 50, where he took the ball in the air off the rucks’ hands, at full stretch, and handballed off to a runner straight away.

#13 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)
28/08/2005 | 185cm | Medium Utility

Being thrown about positionally, starting in defence, moving forward and then getting on the wing, 2023 draft prospect Duursma looked classy and composed throughout, taking any challenge that came his way with both hands. What stood out most in his defensive role was his cleanliness at ground level and composure under pressure, taking the ball off the ground well and finding good options by hand, even in the middle of packs. There was one particular chain of play where he gave a handball off, got it back, and handballed again where the ball didn’t hit the target he wanted, but he won it off the ground in a pack and then handballed out to a runner. Duursma kicked a goal up forward in the second quarter that was as straight as you can kick a footy.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Half-Back/Wing

Schuback was a consistently classy user of the footy out of the backline and on the wing throughout the game. Being trusted with the kick-ins in the first and final quarters, Schuback would regularly run the ball out of the square a good 20 meters, and then kick it 40-50 out wide to give the Country defence time to reset, whilst often putting the ball in an area that his teammates could take advantage of and launch attacks. Schuback was proactive with switch kicks in the defensive half as well, running to spots just laterally or slightly behind the ball carrier to get free, mark it and launch it forward with his speed and penetration.

#16 Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
17/04/2005 | 182cm | Half-Back

Reid switch from his usual role up forward or on a wing to play in defence, and played the role well. The 2005-born speedster made life difficult for the Metro small forwards, with that speed meaning he could close down distance between himself and anyone going for a mark to get there and create a contest. Despite being one of the youngest on ground, he was one of the more effective ball users, extremely composed and able to put his kicks to the advantage of teammates up the line or on the short 45 options. It was clear the coaching team knew this as well, giving him kick-in responsibilities when Schuback wasn’t in the backline, where he also would run the ball out and kick long to advantage. One of the more impressive parts of Reid’s game was how strong his tackling was, taking on some of the 195cm plus prospects and bringing them to ground without any issue.

#22 Ned Moodie (Dandenong Stingrays)
31/03/2004 | 188cm | Medium Utility

Gradually moving further up the ground as the game went on, Moodie was particularly impactful when playing in the backline and midfield in the first half of the clash. His strength and consistency above his head were impressive, taking a few contested marks or holding bullet-like kicks that many others would have struggled to hold with one grab. He’d utilise this often in every position he played, with his patrolling of the centre corridor meaning he was used as an inboard option when he got free. He showed a good amount of game smarts, faking a handball to distract his opponent on the mark and then kicking long forward a couple of times. One such moment lead to Country’s second goal. He kicked a goal when up forward, managing to get free of an opponent and mark well in front. 

#30 Harvey Howe (Gippsland Power)
26/10/2004 | 200cm | Ruck

Just played an extremely consistent but pivotal role in Country’s early midfield wins, and continued to win hitouts as the game went on, even if Metro midfielders started to rove his taps. He battled well for front position around the ground and followed up on his taps when there weren’t any Country midfielders in a position to win it, where he displayed some good pick-ups at times.

Vic Metro:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
24/02/2005 | 168cm | Small Forward/Wing

The zippy small forward came in off a strong NAB League debut and showed why he gained Vic Metro representation despite his 168cm stature. The 2023 prospect from Eastern Ranges was a live-wire up forward, creating headaches with his speed and smarts around the ball. Watson is a natural footballer, knowing when to pop up at the right times and creating opportunities up forward with tackling pressure and timely smothers. He also has some nice athletic traits, jumping at packs for an unlikely mark or dancing around opponents with ease, highlighting both traits in the third quarter. Although Watson didn’t hit the scoreboard, a great smother in the third term set up one for his team – expect the scores to come as Watson has a nose for goals which he showed the week before at NAB League level.

#3 Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers)
11/01/2004 | 176cm | Midfielder

The Vic Metro captain set the tone early, showing great workrate and smarts through the midfield. The Oakleigh Chargers prospect is a smaller type at 176cm, but his stature didn’t effect his ability to win the hard ball at stoppages and win plenty of clearances as well. You could see why Drury was made captain, as he displayed workrate and toughness but was also vocal at stoppages and got around his teammates in that way. Drury was clean with the ball and while his disposal by foot was often pressured and not overly clean, with time and space he didn’t have many problems with his disposal.

#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/04/2004 | 178cm | Wing/Small Forward

Spending some time on the wing and then forward, the 178cm Eastern Ranges prospect didn’t necessarily win the most of the ball or kick the most goals, but he just showed little signs in every quarter that he is a player to keep an eye on. Windsor showed plenty of speed and workrate on the wing and often looked quick and composed with ball in hand, always looking to create. Windsor had some great plays in the third quarter, with a lovely mark inside 50 showing his prowess overhead and a lovely goal on the run after balking an opponent showing his craftiness.

#6 Cooper Harvey (Northern Knights)
12/07/2004 | 179cm | Forward

The son of a gun Harvey didn’t have a productive game for the first three quarters, but got off the leash in the last quarter,  kicking two goals by getting into good spots for some marks inside 50. He nailed his set shots, although he missed one of them he could have easily kicked it to finish with three late goals. The Northern Knights prospect is already a bit taller than his old man, Brent at 179cm and plays a different style. Hopefully gets a run in the midfield as well in the later games of these Under 17 championships.

#8 Darcy Edmends (Northern Knights)
28/05/2004 | 180cm | Wing

The classy wingman from the Northern Knights, Edmends was able to show his ability as a smooth mover. Although his disposal wasn’t to his best standards early on, he grew into the game and adjusted to the pace, and then his skillset really started to shine. As classy and smooth as he looks, he also showed a tough side to his game by going back with the flight to take a nice mark in defence in the second quarter. Although it wasn’t one of his better outings, Edmends still showed signs of his talent as the 180cm midfielder looks to have a strong championships going forward.

#10 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/06/2004 | 181cm | Inside Midfielder

The tough inside midfielder from Oakleigh Chargers took a little bit of time to get going but after half time he was right up there with Ashcroft as the most influential midfielder afield, with his desperation to win the ball and put on pressure a real highlight. Wardlaw showed plenty on the inside with his burst from congestion separating from the pack, but despite his contested nature was also composed with ball in hand and often released teammates into better positions. Wardlaw’s desperation was on display in the third quarter with a great second effort and smother, while also showing some great work in a marking contest against highly fancied player Ollie Hollands, convincingly taking the contested mark. It was a strong showing for Wardlaw who would add a goal as reward for effort in the last quarter, recieving the hard ball and settling to kick a lovely goal on the run.

#12 Will Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)
6/05/2004 | 183cm | Midfielder

The Brisbane Lions father-son prospect plying his trade at Sandringham Dragons showed why he is considered one of the best prospects for the 2022 draft with a dominant display in the midfield. Ashcroft showed a great mix of toughness, class and flashy play, with his toughness on show in the first quarter going back with the flight and getting back up quickly to go again. The second quarter is where he kicked his first of two goals with a lovely long range finish hard on the boundary which he would somehow outdo in the last quarter, bursting away to kick another long range goal. That same burst was a highlight in his clearance work too, which included classy clearances to go with some gritty bull-like wins. With 33 disposals, 11 clearances and two goals, it was by far the best performance not only for this game but for the whole Round 1 of the Under 17 championships.

#13 Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)
20/08/2004 | 183cm | Medium Defender/Midfielder

The tough 183cm Calder Cannons prospect started strongly in defence, showing plenty of drive and taking the game on with ball in hand, while also attacking the contest in the air. Usually a midfielder for Calder, Pascu was able to show his versatility for Metro as a defender but he would go on to get some midfield time later in the game and showed how handy he can be in his preferred position. A great chase down tackle in the midfield in the last quarter and a strong shrugged tackle in the third showcased his toughness and willingness to take the game on. The powerful left-footer has started the championships strongly.

#14 Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons)
13/10/2004 | 183cm | Forward

The classy and damaging forward from Sandringham Dragons was influential early on with a lovely rove from a forward stoppage, kicking a nice snap goal in the process, He showed plenty of agility whenever he had possession, getting around opponents with ease. Sheezel managed his second goal in the second quarter from a free kick, but his third in the third quarter was another special goal, roving a ruck tap and kicking the ball seemingly over his head. He had more opportunities to convert in the last quarter but he did well to set up others and provide a nice marking option as well. The 183cm prospect has a few tricks as a forward and is proving to be one of the more difficult match-ups in this year’s championships.

#16 Elijah Tsatas (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/10/2004 | 184cm | Wing

Returning from a collarbone injury earlier in the year, the Oakleigh Chargers prospect has been on the comeback trail, making his NAB League debut the previous week. Although the exciting midfielder excels at stoppages, he made the wing position his own, getting better as the game went on by using his speed and clean hands. The second half is where Tsatas really started to make an impact, offering plenty of run and carry and link up from half-back to half-forward. He also got to showcase his class, taking a running bounce and nailing a nice goal from 45m. Tsatas was at his damaging best in the last quarter with plenty of quality kicks inside 50 leading to goals, with Cooper Harvey the beneficiary on two occasions. A promising first up game for Tsatas, who can hopefully get some time in the centre in the upcoming fixtures.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Metro powers away from Country to kick off Under 17 campaign in style

VIC METRO piled on the last seven goals of the game to kick away from Vic Country, winning by 34 points in their AFL Under 17 National Championship opener at GMHBA Stadium. The visitors were tested as Country snuck ahead during the second term, but Metro had all the answers to kick off their campaign on the right note.

Metro made the better start, with its brigade of classy ball winners getting to work and setting their side on the front foot. Evasive Sandringham Dragons forward Harry Sheezel made the territory count, snapping home the game’s opening goal with class. The middle of the term was owned by Country, who got on top via back-to-back Brayden George majors, as the Murray product proved troublesome with his aerial play. Metro tall Matthew Jefferson gave the visitors a quarter time lead, making good on his second set shot to edge ahead by two points at the first break.

Brisbane fans would have enjoyed the opening major in term two, as father-son prospect Will Ashcroft slammed home a terrific goal from the elbow of Metro’s forward 50. The buffer remained intact throughout a short stalemate, until Ned Moodie snuck forward to mark uncontested and hit back for Country. The goal-for-goal trend continued, with majors to Sheezel and Zane Duursma at either end seeing the margin remain identical at the main break, with Metro two points to the good.

While an icy Geelong breeze wafted across GMHBA Stadium, the action heated up with a flurry of early goals after half time. Noah Long rose inside 50 and put Country ahead, kicking the first of three goals within four minutes. A 10-minute lull followed, before Metro sparked to life with three late goals to retake the lead, sparked by Elijah Tsatas’ effort on the run. The gap was out to eight points with the last lot of 23 minutes to play, thanks to Sheezel’s third major just before the three quarter time siren.

Carrying on their third quarter momentum, Metro inflicted a shutout to finish the game, adding four goals to Country’s nil. George Wardlaw was one to lift in the second half, and got Metro running once again with a classy conversion on the move. North Melbourne father-son hopeful Cooper Harvey also popped up for a couple of late scoreboard contributions, while Ashcroft sealed his best afield performance with a second goal.

While Ashcroft was the most consistent performer across the day, Wardlaw lifted during the second half and skipper Blake Drury worked hard to round out Metro’s midfield mix. Tsatas was another to exert some of his pace and skill after half time on the wing, while Sheezel finished with a game-high three goals as the game’s most productive forward.

Long and Jhye Clark battled hard through midfield for Country, eventually joined at the centre bounces by Oliver Hollands. Big man Harvey Howe was dominant in the ruck battle, and Harley Reid had his moments playing off half-back as Country returned a solid team spread overall.

Both sides will be back in action for Round 2 up in Queensland on July 6, with Vic Metro taking on fellow Round 1 victors South Australia, while Western Australia will be Country’s opponent at Metricon Stadium.

VIC COUNTRY 2.1 | 4.2 | 7.3 | 7.4 (46)
VIC METRO 2.3 | 4.4 | 8.5 | 12.8 (80)

GOALS:

Vic Country: B. George 2, Z. Duursma, N. Long, N. Moodie, J. Konstanty, F. Fogarty.
Vic Metro: H. Sheezel 3, W. Ashcroft 2, C. Harvey 2, M. Jefferson, D. Harvey, E. Tsatas, K. Windsor.

DC BEST:

Vic Country: J. Clark, O. Hollands, N. Long, H. Reid, H. Howe, J. Schuback
Vic Metro: W. Ashcroft, G. Wardlaw, E. Tsatas, H. Sheezel, B. Drury, K. Windsor

PREVIEW | Debuts galore as Metro sides make NAB League return

METRO regions are set to make their long-awaited return to the NAB League this weekend, as the competition extends back out to eight fixtures in Round 9. While fans are still not allowed to attend metropolitan games, one recruiter from each club will be allowed on the scene to observe the next generation of talent, with rules more relaxed at country and interstate fixtures.

As advertised, a bunch of bottom-age prospects will continue to be blooded through the elite talent pathways and there are some absolute gems to keep an eye out for ahead of the Under 17 National Championships. Returning 18th-year and top-age stars also fill out the list of names to watch, while both New South Wales (NSW) academies remain along with the Northern Territory (NT) Thunder.

Scotch College pair Sam Darcy and Scott Beilby have been named in Oakleigh’s side to face the Northern Knights on Saturday morning. Both boast ties to AFL clubs, with the former a Western Bulldogs father-son candidate, while the latter is part of St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy (NGA).

The Chargers will also unveil Tasmanian top-ager Sam Collins, who will make his first appearance for the region having shifted to live in Melbourne this year. 2019 premiership midfielder Fraser Elliot is another 19-year-old back in the mix having had a taste of VFL football, while GIANTS Academy member Patrick Voss is back in Oakleigh colours after earning an Allies nod. Elijah Tsatas is the bottom-ager to watch, an explosive midfielder who was previously sidelined with a broken collarbone.

Northern is also set to blood a couple of promising Under 17s, as coach Leigh Clarke returns to face his former side. Brayden Ham and Josh Hamilton add to those under-age stocks, while Melbourne Grammar student Josh Ward is a welcome addition to the midfield. He’ll operate alongside in-form skipper Joel Trudgeon and Ewan Macpherson, who returns after a stint with Footscray in the VFL.

The day’s other all-metro bout sees Sandringham host Eastern Ranges, boasting mid-season draftee Max Heath. The St Kilda ruck is set to palm down to a formidable midfield trio, which includes co-captain Darby Hipwell, and the newly-formed combination of Finn Callaghan and Charlie McKay. Allies squad member Jack Peris has also been named on the wing.

The midfield battle should be fierce, with Tyler Sonsie and Jake Soligo resuming for Eastern. Dashing top-ager Josh Clarke comes in for his first game in 2021, named in his usual half-back post, while 2005-born talent Nick Watson is in line to make his debut. The diminutive midfielder-forward has serious talent, akin to the likes of Errol Gulden in terms of natural ability which defies his size.

Eastern Ranges half-back Josh Clarke (centre) is in line to return

In the final game on Saturday, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) locks horns with Murray, as Mars Stadium continues to get a workout from the Rebels. Gun inside midfielder Ben Hobbs is set to return for the hosts, named in a forward pocket as GWV boasts an embarrassment of midfield riches.

Allies squad members Toby Murray (ruck) and Cameron McLeod (centre half-forward) are set to rotate through the Bushrangers’ structure, with Carlton VFL listed midfielder Zavier Maher again suiting up for Murray as former Caulfield Grammar schoolmate Josh Rachele comes out of the side.

Sunday’s action starts early as the GIANTS Academy takes on Tasmania Devils in the first game of a Blacktown double-header. Sydney is the other NSW-based academy to play host, taking on the NT Thunder in the afternoon. All four sides boast a bunch of prospects named in the Allies squad, who should acquaint themselves nicely.

Calder and Western battle it out in the round’s sole other metro clash, making for a repeat of the season-opener in Craigieburn. Carlton father-son hopeful Dane Whitnall comes in for his Calder debut, bolstering his side’s spine along with developing ruck Liam Podhajski. The latter is one of a few players afield with VFL experience, including Jets top-agers Cody Raak (defence) and Billy Cootee (midfield).

The in-form Geelong Falcons take on Gippsland Power in Morwell, with both sides having fielded a bunch of up-and-comers of late. Geelong will again go with midfielder Jhye Clark, ruckman Olivier Northam, and forward Will Baker, while Gippsland will be buoyed by the returns of Will Papley and Chance Doultree as Jai Serong goes the other way. 2005-born forward Zane Duursma is again one to watch.

The Dandenong Stingrays enter the fold once again to see out the weekend’s action, travelling to face Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. 2005-born Vic Country Under 17 squad member Harley Reid has shown plenty of promise for the Pios, as one of many under-agers settling into the side. Dandenong will have a bunch of fresh faces take the field too, including 16-year-old Sam Frangalas, along with a strong core of familiar names.