VIC Metro’s Under 18 carnival came to an end on Friday with a tight loss at the hands of a much-improved Allies side. We were on hand in Geelong to take note of how the outstanding players from both sides fared, with opinion-based notes that of the individual writer.
By: Peter Williams
#1 Jack Mahony
A standout player for Metro across the game, setting up a number of goals for his teammates, then finishing off with three of his own – two of which came in the final term to help his side charge back into it. He almost had a fourth but it dropped short and his final kick of the day almost found its way into the hands of Emerson Jeka to win the game but was spoiled away. He had a fairly complete game with great defensive pressure and rarely missing a target forward of centre with neat kicks across his body, well placed to the advantage of his teammates. Mahony was also clean above his head and hard to stop.
#5 Trent Bianco
Composed with ball-in-hand, Bianco looked very classy coming off half-back and along the wing, and was able to use it well by hand or foot. He was the player often benefiting from extras heading into stoppages, with teammates getting it out to him and he was able to move the ball well in transition. He did so under pressure in the back half, and showed a great second effort when losing a marking contest, he got up and smothered a ball to win it back and kick forward. Had a chance for a goal by playing on and putting it through in the third term, but was forced to take the set shot and it fell short.
#11 Matt Rowell
Was again one of Metro’s best even if he was contained (by his standards) after quarter time. His first quarter was outstanding, which included eight disposals, three clearances and a goal, but the Allies midfield made sure to put more work into him after the first term. He used the ball well and was able to get it out to teammates running out the outside. Rowell is great one-on-one and the goal he did kick he managed to do so while being run down from behind. The confidence he exhibited was terrific as he glanced behind him, saw an opponent and backed himself to take him on. He has such clean hands and always keeps battling on across four quarters.
#13 Daniel Mott
Had a big first half and was working hard not only offensively, but defensively as well. He managed to tackle Tom Green and lock the ball away by holding an arm with great technique. He showed clean hands in close and worked hard to get to the right positions. Had a quiet third term, but picked up again in the last quarter.
#22 Miles Bergman
Took a good mark on the lead early in the game and put it to the danger zone for Harrison Jones to mark in a pack and goal to level the scores in the first term. He had a long range shot early in the second and it was perfect off the boot to sail through the middle. Bergman covered the ground well, winning the ball in all thirds of the ground to took a strong intercept mark inside 50, and also had the crowd up on their feet when he flew high on the interchange side of the ground but could not quite bring it down.
#23 Dylan Williams
Booted the one goal and could have had a couple more. He set up the first shot of the game to Emerson Jeka in the opening term, then in the second quarter took a good mark on the lead straight in front and launched it from 50m to go through. He had a chance on the wrong side for a left footer and it pushed to the right for a behind, having a second shot after the three quarter time siren but also missed that. Looked dangerous on the lead throughout.
#24 Noah Anderson
Almost the opposite to his partner-in-crime Rowell, having a very quiet first term – just two touches – before really starting to work his way into the contest. He was strong at ground level and laid multiple tackles with great second and third efforts.On one occasion he read the tap perfectly and booted the ball straight out of the middle with a long clearance kick inside 50. He even showed a bit of audacity in the final term, selling some candy, realising he had no leads on offer, bought some time with more candy then put it to Ryan Sturgess in teh pocket who kicked the goal to put Metro in front late. Another consistent performer who can be pleased with a terrific carnival.
#25 Finn Maginness
One of Metro’s best working hard on the inside and then getting it done on the outside with some dangerous kicks inside 50. Had a long range shot in the second term but missed to the right, and his best highlight came from a dance around an opponent in the middle in that last quarter, sidestepped another and kicked perfectly to Emerson Jeka inside 50.
#29 Fischer McAsey
Has enjoyed a ripping carnival and Friday’s game was no different with another impactful performance in defence. Time and time again he intercepted the ball and rebounded out of the back half, dropping into the hole perfectly. He saved a certain Tom Green goal early with a good mark in the goalsquare, and held his line well in the defence, winning the ball and
#36 Emerson Jeka
Presented well throughout the match inside 50, and could have had three goals to his named but just finished with the one. He missed one narrowly and the other shanked a bit, but never gave up with his work rate. His goal came from a set shot 30m out in the third term, and he was often spotted pushing up to the wing at times.
#39 Jack Bell
Got involved throughout and while he sold a teammate into trouble with a poor handball early, he showed some nice skills by foot, setting up Emerson Jeka for a third term goal by having the nous to move the ball quickly and get it to his teammates’ advantage. Later in the game he dropped behind the ball and was able to use his height to win the ball and move it forward.
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Errol Gulden
Swans fans will be pretty pleased with what their 2020 Academy prospect has shown to date, and this was another great performance on the big stage. Playing off the half-forward flank and up onto a wing, Gulden was a constant threat moving forward when wheeling around onto his trusty left boot. He always looked to create and showed crafty vision with his passes inside 50 to find teammates on multiple occasions. Gulden was as clean as anyone at ground level and it proved a telling trait as he delivered so effectively in space around the arc. Gulden’s willingness to opt for high-risk/high-reward kicks and ability to make them work more often than not made him a game-changer, topping off his contribution with two goals in the third term. His first was a real highlight, turning his opponent with great agility and finishing clinically on the left from just inside 50. One of the best for next year’s crop.
#2 Hewago Paul Oea
The Suns Academy product did some nice things throughout the game, underlining why he is better known as ‘Ace’. He started brightly to get on the scoreboard early with a goal out the back – assisted by the other dangerous forward he would often link up with, Malcolm Rosas Jnr. Tended to flow in and out of the game, but would pop up with good bits of pressure and crafty touches in close to break congestion open and move forward. One of his better plays was finding fellow Sun Josh Gore inside 50 to notch a goal assist, and he looked like breaking towards an open forward line on a few occasions to no avail.
#4 Malcolm Rosas Jnr
Is as silky as they come in the forward half and could do nothing wrong in the latter part of the opening term. The Darwin product roamed the half forward line when the ball was up field, and did well to make himself dangerous when it entered the Allies attacking 50. Rosas’ first goal off hands showed that, but his second was even better as he slammed home a classy left foot finish on the move from just inside the arc. Was a little quieter as the game went on, but applied good pressure throughout and looked likely when the ball edged over the back. Starting to build more consistency.
#16 Ben Jungfer
Was one who at the start of the championships looked to be a depth selection in a talented midfield bunch, but proved to be much more than that as a constant at the stoppages. Jungfer complimented Tom Green beautifully at the centre bounces, doubling the Allies’ contested ball-winning threat and getting stuck in well to prize six clearances. Did a lot of the dirtywork throughout the day to flick the ball out to his runners, and looked strong over it when tackled. Not many frills about his game, but is a reliable accumulator in the middle.
#21 Luke Parks
Looks to be adapting well to being freed from having to play above his height, and proved a solid defensive contributor in this game. Found a good amount of ball and used it well in repelling out of defensive 50, with his rebounding starting to shine through. His best moment came with a terrific gather on the half-volley at pace through the corridor, followed by a kick forward which led to a goal for Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden in the third term.
#22 Tom Green
Was far and away the Allies’ best, with a game-high 33 disposals 13 more than his next best teammate. Green put in a mountain of work at the stoppages as we’ve come to expect, and proved difficult to tackle as he broke through hoards of opponents at times. Is a real leader in his actions, but also proved vocal with an audible call under a high ball in the first term. Had a couple of shots on goal early with one snap missing and another which he launched from 40 meters falling short, but eventually hit the scoreboard with a clutch set shot conversion in the third term. That side of his game was great to see, and he seemed to be kicking more while showing he can cover the ground really well for an inside midfielder. Also showed terrific spatial awareness with his use by hands with a couple of nice passes over his shoulder, and has great IQ in tight. Absolutely did his top 10 chances no harm with a more well-rounded display.
#24 Joel Jeffrey
The bottom-aged NT utility is capable of playing up either end, but looks really useful down back as a good reader of the ball in flight. Jeffrey leapt really well under high balls towards his own defensive 50 and stood strong as packs formed in his area, showing he wasn’t afraid of the inevitable contact. Looked better as the game went on and proved solid in the second half as Metro looked to charge with some one-on-one wins.
#26 Liam Delahunty
Another who can play at both ends, but looked much more at home in his outing down back in this game. By no means finds massive amounts of ball, but did what was required of him – often times deep inside defensive 50. Showed his overhead prowess as he leapt to clunk a high ball with opponents nearby, and was composed again later on as he saw the ball into touch. With more time in defence, Delahunty could be an effective intercept type, but looks just as good one-on-one with his closing speed and ability to spoil from behind.
#31 Hamish Ellem
Was super impressive early on – proving too big, strong, and smart for his opponents one-out deep inside attacking 50. Booted the first goal of the game with a snap, but caught the eye more with a couple of solid one-on-one grabs and some mobile follow-up work. Made space to be found on the lead as the game wore on, but looks to have some room for improvement in his set shot goalkicking as he could have finished with three or four goals. Had no such issues in general play though, slotting another snap with an unlikely effort from the boundary in the third term. Is somewhat of an in-between size, and has traits to play both as a second tall or as a smaller type given his work at ground level.
#37 Josh Gore
Just always seems to find the goals and this game was no different as Gore slotted three from his seven disposals. Managed to convert in each term after quarter-time, including the Allies’ sole goal in the second after following up a bellied snap to win a holding the ball free kick. Suns teammate Hewago Paul Oea handed him a second goal after finding him in the pocket, with Gore again finding space deep inside 50 to mark in the last and convert a third set shot to put the Allies back in front. Ended up being a game-winner with his clinical finishing, but can add more to his overall game.
#46 Noah Cumberland
Cumberland was ultra impressive in a final term effort which went a long way to helping the Allies hold on to victory. The Lions Academy member’s intensity and strength around the contest was outstanding, truly setting the tone for his teammates with efforts that coaches would love. Playing mostly forward, Cumberland’s impact early was mainly seen in small bursts with big fend offs and aggressive runs forward – although he bit off a little more than he bargained for when he took on Metro speedster, Lachie Potter. Cumberland provided real drive going forward, but also won the ball well with clever body positioning in-close to protect the drop zone and set a solid base. His overhead mark and pass to Tom Green in the fourth quarter was excellent, but his game-winning tackle to lock the ball up even later on was even better to see. Can add some polish, but is a real raw competitor.