Tag: josh d’intinosante

NAB League Boys team review: Northern Knights

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

Position: 6th
Wins: 8
Losses: 7
Draws: 0

Points For: 1008 (Ranked #7)
Points Against: 952 (Ranked #4)
Percentage: 105.9
Points: 32

Top draft prospects:

Sam Philp

An inside midfielder with great speed, Philp has transformed his game to develop more hurt factor as the season went on, becoming a premier midfielder in the NAB League while many of his contemporaries were off with Metro or Country duties. When they returned he matched it with the best of them and could be one of the feel-good stories of the draft given he missed out on Metro selection. Just bullocks his way through stoppages and is hard to stop around the ground. His strong season was rewarded with a National Draft Combine invitation, meaning at least four clubs like what they saw in 2019.

Ryan Sturgess

As versatile as they come, Sturgess started as a defender, has played forward and also through the midfield when required to be one of the more flexible players in the draft crop. He managed all four games with Metro, often playing in an under siege defence but holding up firm. While he made some mistakes at times, he is one of the hardest workers and puts out a four quarter performance regularly. Not only did he become a reliable defender, but he went forward at times to finish the year with nine goals to his name, a great reward for effort.

Other in the mix:

While the Knights just had the two National Draft Combine draft invitations, there was a host of State Draft Combine invitations, indicating at least a couple of clubs were interested in additional players who had performed strongly this season. Inside midfielder Adam Carafa, outside runners Ryan Gardner and Lachlan Potter, club leading goal kicker Josh D’Intinosante, captain and key defender Jackson Davies, and overage defender Ayce Taylor all received combine invitations.

BnF chances:

A three-horse race one would think with D’Intinosante, Davies and Philp the three clear standouts across the entire season. None of the trio made Vic Metro which allowed them to consistently perform at the NAB League Boys level, and were arguably some of the stiffer players to miss out on Metro selection. They play in each of different third of the ground and were certainly the standouts in their region, while James Lucente, Ewan Macpherson and Liam McMahon all played plenty of games as well.

2020 Draft Crop:

Last year’s Vic Metro Under 16 captain Macpherson and key forward McMahon are both Knights who have impressed in their bottom-age seasons, but the leading 2020 draft candidate is Nikolas Cox at this stage. The raw and rangy utility’s athleticism is outstanding for someone of his size, allowing him to make an impact both in the air and at ground level in almost any position. Cooper Barbera played a heap of games and is set to do so again next year, while midfielder Josh Watson caught the eye toward the back end of the year and Jackson Bowne provided some spark. Joel Trudgeon, Ben Major, Jaden Collins, and Rhys Seakins are others to have joined Macpherson in last year’s Metro squad, so should also play major roles.

Final word:

Northern Knights unfortunately bowed out at Mars Stadium against Western Jets in the elimination final on the weekend, but provided plenty of highlights through the season. They seemed to improve by years-end, and a lot of their draft prospects are in the later end of the draft, but you cannot fault their year. They were able to match it with most teams throughout the year, and while they missed out on moving through to a semi-final, had a lot of sore boys from the elimination final which made it tough. Next year the Knights will look to consolidate their spot in the finals with their bottom-agers coming on.

Caught the Eye: NAB League Boys – Finals Week 1

THE cream of the crop contributed to an exciting first week of NAB League finals, and while we have a fair idea of who to keep an eye on at this point in the year, players still continue to rise in stocks at the pointy end of the year. In this edition of Caught the Eye, there is a good mix of talls, smalls, and some players who were not necessarily at the forefront of the national carnival. For extended player profiles, click on each name highlighted in red, and for full scouting notes, click here.

Northern Knights vs. Western Jets

Josh D’Intinosante
Northern Knights | Small Forward
7/07/2001 | 177cm | 76kg

Stats: 13 disposals (10 kicks), 2 marks, 2 tackles, 5 goals

Our scouts said:D’Intinosante was a thorn in the side of the Western Jets with his forward craft proving a real handful. His efficiency was impressive considering the windy conditions…” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Looks to have found a home up forward and you know the Knights rate him when they create set stoppage plays around getting the ball to him. His nous around goal is outstanding and he has only gone goalless in two games this season, capping off a terrific year with fourth haul of at least four majors. Speed and penetration by foot will be the issue in his position at the next level, but the talent is so clearly there for the bottom-age Knights club champion.

Lucas Failli
Western Jets | Midfielder/Forward
14/09/2002 | 170cm | 70kg

Stats: 14 disposals (10 kicks), 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Although small in stature Failli had a big impact on the game with his work through the midfield really impressing. Usually a goal sneak forward, Failli played well in the midfield often winning the ball at ground level and quickly kicking the ball inside 50.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Features in Caught the Eye for the second time this season and may well do so a fair bit next year too. Has already shown his forward capabilities, which may be his position at the next level, but is impactful through midfield with his speed and booming kick. Can work on accumulation and consistency in his top-age year, but has some real smarts about him already.

Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

Jamieson Rossiter
Eastern Ranges | Forward/Utility
17/11/2001 | 190cm | 84kg

Stats: 10 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 4 goals

Our scouts said:Rossiter was the dominant big man on the ground and has picked a good time of the year to hit some strong form… His best play was a bone crunching tackle in the second quarter, showing he could influence without ball in hand.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: It was always going to be interesting to see what position Rossiter developed best in, and it seems we have finally found an answer on the back of his form as a key forward. This was arguably his best game for Eastern to date, using his strong marking and knack for kicking big goals in a performance where he proved a match-winner. Takes his chances and can do some special things on his day, so keeps his name in the hat.

Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons | Defender
26/08/2001 | 183cm | 74kg

Stats: 26 disposals (22 kicks), 2 marks, 2 tackles, 9 rebound 50s, 1 inside 50

Our scouts said:Butler was the standout defender for his team, winning plenty of the ball and using it very well in the windy conditions… His rebound from defence was fantastic…” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Has shown different sides to his game of late in combining his usual damaging rebound with lockdown roles on the opposition’s most dangerous smalls. Butler’s work rate across the back half makes him stand out, and he was back to his target-finding best off half-back in this game. His competitiveness to go with that polish is desirable, adding a dimension to his game in a position that often produces dime-a-dozen prospects.

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons | Midfielder
1/05/2001 | 183cm | 76kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said:Mott was one of Calder’s standouts through the midfield, winning the ball with ease on both the inside and outside… His entries inside 50 were dangerous and he was especially dangerous inside 50 himself kicking a classy goal on the run in the last quarter.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: This was a massive performance from Mott and his stocks will have risen as a result. Having improved on his contested ball winning, Mott utilised his mix of inside and outside work in midfield as well as he has all year. He seems to have really hit a peak at the right time after slowly developing his roundedness this season, making him an interesting prospect to watch in terms of draft range.

Bigoa Nyuon
Dandenong Stingrays | Ruck/Key Forward
18/05/2001 | 196cm | 86kg

Stats: 14 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 5 inside 50s, 15 hitouts, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Nyuon had some good moments in the ruck and forward for the Stingrays… He was able to expose his opponent once the ball hit the ground, spreading to space to create an option forward or get in intercepting positions.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: The raw and athletic tall continues to show glimpses of his best form, with enough there to suggest he’ll be an easy choice for St Kilda come draft time as a Next Generation Academy (NGA) member. His combination of aerial ability, ground level cleanliness and winding runs make Nyuon an exciting prospect, with his versatility in the key position posts an admirable trait. He loves a goal and celebration too, and seems a much-loved teammate.

Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Sam Flanders
Gippsland Power | Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

Stats: 27 disposals (19 kicks), 7 marks, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 4 goals

Our scouts said:Flanders may have produced the best underage half of footy for the season to date, or at the very least the most dynamic 10 minutes of the year. From the eleventh to the twenty-second minute of the second quarter, Flanders completely took control of the game and at the time it did not look like anything was going to stop him.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: This could be the game that cements Flanders’ place in the top five for club recruiters, serving a timely reminder of his dynamism up forward while also continuing his rise through midfield. Flanders’ explosiveness and hands at the coalface are as good as anyone in this year’s crop, with time up forward taking somewhat of a back seat this year. Despite that, could be recruited as a player who starts off playing more as a forward and has bursts through the middle – think Jordan De Goey.

Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers | Outside Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

Stats: 29 disposals, 4 tackles, 3 rebound 50s 6 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Phillips was fantastic in Oakleigh’s strong start to the game, seeing the bottom age midfielder show some good clean hands in transition and getting involved in a number of plays going forward.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Will be a leading prospect heading into 2020 having already shown his worth in a stacked Oakleigh line-up. His spread and use by foot on the outside make him a damaging wingman, but look for Phillips to spend more time on the inside next year with a more handball-based game. He is capable of doing both and oozes class with his work in transition, so should feature more than just the once in next year’s national carnival.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Week 1 Finals

NAB League Boys finals action got underway over the weekend and we took a look at those players who received draft combine invitations as well as some bottom-age and 16-year-old prospects who impressed on the big stage. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writer.

Northern Knights vs. Western Jets

By: Ed Pascoe

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante was a thorn in the side of the Western Jets with his forward craft proving a real handful. His efficiency was impressive considering the windy conditions and his most impressive goal came in the first quarter with a fantastic rove from a stoppage assisted by his teammates trying to lay blocks for the crafty forward. D’Intinosante had good company all day with Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci manning him most of the game. D’Intinosante finished the game with 13 disposals and five goals with his last game a good reminder to club scouts of what he is capable of up forward.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess impressed playing a range of roles where needed, with the versatile player being thrown forward at times when his team had the wind. Sturgess battled hard all day and was courageous to come back onto the ground after limping off late in the game. Sturgess looked best in his normal defensive role attacking the contests and showing good composure when in possession, finishing the game with 16 disposals and five tackles.

#13 Sam Philp

Philp was the standout midfielder for the game with his explosiveness and spread from stoppages really catching the eye. Philp earned a national combine invite with a strong year despite missing Vic Metro selection and he proved why he got that nomination with some eye-catching plays, running the ball out of stoppages and hitting targets by foot. He will not get a stat for it but laid a great block inside forward 50 for his dangerous teammate Josh D’Intinosante in the first quarter, showing that he is a team player and not just out to do the flashy plays. Philp finished the game with 21 disposals and eight tackles.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Cox looked dangerous early on playing as a key forward, making use of the wind and judging the ball in flight to take a nice contested mark, kicking a nice set shot goal in the first quarter. Both his goals came in the first quarter and was moved around the ground more as the game went on to finish the game on the wing. He started the game better than he finished it, showing good composure and movement in the first half but caught holding the ball on multiple occasions in the second half which could come down to biting off more than he could chew. Cox looks a good prospect for the 2020 draft as a taller player that can play a range of roles, finishing with 11 disposals, four marks and two goals.

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

Although small in stature Failli had a big impact on the game with his work through the midfield really impressing. Usually a goal sneak forward, Failli played well in the midfield often winning the ball at ground level and quickly kicking the ball inside 50. He still managed to hit the scoreboard in the third quarter, bobbing up at exactly the right time to kick an easy goal in the square. His clean hands at ground level are often used to snag goals up forward and were used to good effect at stoppages instead. Failli has really shown in the last few weeks that he is more than just an opportunistic forward, finishing the game with 14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Jeka made the most of his time up forward when his side had the wind, kicking two goals in the second quarter with his bets coming from a nice mark close to goal. Jeka provided a good target for the Jets who had no shortage of talls to go to but Jeka was the one with the most height to potentially expose the Northern Knights’ defence. Jeka was good in the air but did not offer as much when the ball hit the ground, so could be an area to improve on ahead of next week’s big semi-final. Jeka finished the game with 13 disposals and two goals.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar was not able to replicate his big game in defence last week, and although not many of his teammates won a high amount of ball it was still a quiet game by Cassar’s standards. Cassar is one of his team’s better ball users so it would have been good to see him moved up the ground after his quiet first half – hopefully this move can be done if he has another quiet half next week. Cassar finished the game with 11 disposals and four tackles.

Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

By: Ed Pascoe

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Stapleton typified the brand of football Eastern wanted to play against Sandringham with his attack on both the ball and man setting the tone through the midfield. Stapleton’s brand of football isn’t fancy but it gets the job done, though that didn’t stop him from trying to show some attacking flair which he did with a nice goal on the run in the second quarter. Stapleton finished the game with 18 disposals, 10 tackles and a goal.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was one of the most important players in Eastern’s engine room, providing the speed and dare with ball in hand that he has made a staple of his game this year. His kicking was rather scrappy at times, but always tried to make up for any mistakes and was always willing to do the one percenters. Mellis showed a good mix winning his own ball but also providing that run on the outside, finishing the game with 21 disposals and three inside 50s.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter was the dominant big man on the ground and has picked a good time of the year to hit some strong form. His first goal was his team’s first, taking a lead up mark and converting the set shot from 45 metres out. His best play was a bone crunching tackle in the second quarter, showing he could influence without ball in hand. He was also strong in the second quarter taking a strong mark on the wing, flying over the pack. Rossiter finished the game with 10 disposals, four marks and four goals.

#20 Connor Downie

Downie is not eligible to be drafted until next year but he has already made a name for himself this year and had another strong performance showcasing his run and dash and willingness to drive the ball forward. Downie showed great composure and intent throughout the game and worked hard up and down the ground. His left foot can really be a weapon when given time and space and he finished the game with 19 disposals and three marks.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

Sonsie did not get a lot of the ball but he bobbed up with goals just when his team needed them. His first goal was something special crumbing a pack 40 metres out on a pocket, running to goal and kicking the ball perfectly with the wind to guide the ball through. It was the best goal for the day and really showed why he is considered such a high talent for the 2021 draft. Earlier that quarter he showed terrific vision, kicking across ground to find a target that took real courage to hit. Sonsie finished the game with two goals from six disposals.

Sandringham:

#4 Finn Maginness

Not a lot went right for Hawthorn father-son Maginness, and he had a tough day at the office. Despite not having the impact he would have liked he really worked hard in the last quarter and looked desperate to try and get his team the win. Maginness had an average day unable to get his hands on the ball, and when he did find the footy he did not use it as well as he has shown he can. He got to a point in the last quarter where he just threw himself into contests and tackled hard, finishing the game with 14 disposals and 10 tackles.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes was the clear standout through the midfield for Sandringham and as their captain led from the front to do everything he could to win the ball and drive it forward. Byrnes was a hard worker at stoppages, getting to the fall of the ball and bursting away from stoppages. His kicking has been an area to work on this year and it didn’t let him down as he often picked the right options. Byrnes finished the game with 28 disposals, 11 inside 50s and three tackles.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman was his team’s most dangerous forward, proving too strong overhead and too slick at ground level. His first goal came from a nice clunk mark before going back to slot the set shot close to goal on a slight angle. His best patch of play came with a quick lay on and kick into the middle of the ground, opening up the play which was something his teammates couldn’t quite pull off all day. His second goal came in the final quarter with a long bomb from past the 50 metre arc, finishing on a high with 13 disposals, seven marks and two goals.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler was the standout defender for his team, winning plenty of the ball and using it very well in the windy conditions. Many players throughout the day struggled with the wind but Butler kept confident with his kicking and kept many kicks low and straight. His rebound from defence was fantastic, though he could have used some more support from his teammates. Butler finished the game with 26 disposals and nine rebounds.

#29 Fischer McAsey

McAsey played more of a loose role down back, often floating around to impact contests with a strong mark or a big spoil. His marking wasn’t as strong as usual but the wind was playing tricks on plenty of players throughout the day. McAsey had a good knack of reading the play and he would have been dominant if it wasn’t for the conditions, which made it hard work for talls. He will look to improve his output next week as he will be incredibly important for Sandringham’s tilt at a flag. McAsey finished the game with 11 disposals and four marks.

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Calder:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was one of Calder’s standouts through the midfield, winning the ball with ease on both the inside and outside. Mott was rewarded early when he shot up Mason Fletcher nicely inside 50 before being returned the favour further inside 50 where he went on to nail a classy set shot goal. His entries inside 50 were dangerous and he was especially dangerous inside 50 himself kicking a classy goal on the run in the last quarter. Mott finished the game with 23 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s and two goals in a complete performance through the midfield.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay continued his hot form with a big game through the midfield, showcasing his running power both with and without the ball. Ramsay was all class with ball in hand and would often use his long left foot kick to his advantage with some nice kicks inside 50. He kicked his only goal from a nice set shot in the third quarter and would continue to set up other scoring opportunities with his run and spread from the midfield. Ramsay has averaged 31 disposals from his last seven games and this was one of his biggest games with the midfielder finishing with 35 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and a goal.

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was a great target up forward, able to get up the ground and take some great marks. O’Sullivan didn’t hit the scoreboard himself but he played a pivotal role up the ground with his marking a real feature, taking two big contested marks in the last quarter that really caught the eye. In general play he looked to move well, showing he had some tricks other than his leading and marking. O’Sullivan finished the game with 20 disposals and eight marks.

#21 Harrison Jones

Despite not hitting the scoreboard Jones still showed why he is one of Calder’s prime prospects for this year’s draft. You can see Jones’s talent when he gets the ball, showing slick and clean skills with ball in hand for a taller player. Jones showed he could also have an impact without the ball with a fantastic chase-down tackle in the last quarter and an occasional stint in the ruck where he would follow up well around the ground. Jones finished the game with 11 disposals, eight tackles and seven hit outs.

#23 Cody Brand

The Essendon NGA prospect in 2020 was recently selected to feature in the U17 Futures game before this year’s AFL Grand Final, and he showed why he was selected with a strong performance in defence playing on the dangerous Sam De Koning for most of the game. Brand was strong and assured in defence, marking and spoiling strongly and showing good composure with ball in hand. Brand even showed some foot candy in the last quarter to prove he is more than just a dour defender. Brand only finished with eight disposals and six rebound 50s but played his role perfectly to keep De Koning goalless.

Dandenong:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Hayden Young

The potential top five prospect was not as influential behind the ball as we’ve become accustomed to, but still provided those moments that prove why he is so highly rated. He used his body to perfection to win a well fought ground ball on the city wing before hitting a target with ease. Young finds targets in the corridor that others either wouldn’t see or dare to take on, and is rarely made to regret those risks. As Calder gained momentum as the game went on Young found it difficult to find the ball in positions to impact the contest, but still finished with a respectable 19 disposals.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill worked hard in the opening three quarters, but struggled to get his hands on the ball as Calder often got first possession through Mott or Ramsay. He often ran without reward offensively and defensively, highlighted by a 100 metre effort from inside 50 to the wing during the first term that was ultimately fruitless. He went to the opening centre bounce of the fourth term and immediately won a long clearance that he kicked inside 50, which sparked a busy period for him. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to change the momentum of the game and Cahill ended with 15 disposals.

#20 Sam De Koning

It was a tough day for the All Australian defender, who could not get into the game forward and fell victim to some average supply throughout. He fought when the ball was in his area, but it rarely fell his way. He made his way back to defence in the final term and looked more comfortable, but the damage was already done by then.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

Nyuon had some good moments in the ruck and forward for the Stingrays. He didn’t dominate, but you couldn’t question his effort on a difficult day. He had a real crack at the stoppages against a much bigger body in Josh Hotchkin, winning his fair share of hit outs. He was able to expose his opponent once the ball hit the ground, spreading to space to create an option forward or get in intercepting positions. He nearly kicked an outstanding goal on the run in the first term and clunked an impressive intercept mark on the lead in the third. ‘Biggy’ gave away a couple of unnecessary free kicks competing in the ruck, but got on the end of a 50-metre penalty to kick a goal in the second quarter.

#32 Blake Kuipers

The athletic tall started the game well in defence, getting his hands on the ball and was unlucky not to be paid an outstanding contested intercept mark in the first term. But like many of his teammates, as Calder took control he became less of a factor. He certainly didn’t disgrace himself, but the excellent Calder entrances were difficult to counter. Kuipers finished the day in the ruck and collected nine disposals by the final siren.

#50 Lachlan Williams

One of Dandenong’s better performers for the day, Williams started on the wing and was involved from the outset. After a long snapped behind in the first term, he showed his strength in a big tackle, keeping his balance and releasing in a difficult position. He took the game on when the opportunity presented, running to receive the ‘one-two’ from half back before superbly hitting a target at half forward. He proved his speed and carry again later in the game, intercepting a handball and exploding from the contest. I still feel Williams is underrated overhead too, taking a brilliant contested intercept mark in the second term. He moved to defence in the fourth quarter and was serviceable when his team was down and out, finishing the game with 25 disposals.

Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Gippsland:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

A well rested Serong returned to the NAB League for just his third game of the season in the Power colours, after approximately a month off footy to be cherry ripe for finals. He was influential from the start, just missing a set shot in the opening minutes before taking two big contested intercept marks to showcase his aerial strengths. He was super aggressive, asserting his physicality toward Anderson and Rowell whenever the opportunity presented. He went a little far when giving away a free kick off the ball, but immediately got one back after getting in the face of his opponent and drawing a reaction. He was excellent around the stoppages, clean in congestion and used the ball well in space, highlighted by a well placed kick inside to Flanders while on his hot streak. Serong finished with 29 disposals and will be even better next week after the run.

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders may have produced the best underage half of footy for the season to date, or at the very least the most dynamic 10 minutes of the year. From the eleventh to the twenty-second minute of the second quarter, Flanders completely took control of the game and at the time it did not look like anything was going to stop him. He kicked four goals during this period to give Gippsland a huge advantage going into half-time, highlighted by brilliant body work, positioning and quality kicking. He was excellent through the midfield too, constantly winning first possession and providing explosive clearances. He went into the main break with crazy numbers, 18 disposals and four goals. Unfortunately he was reported immediately after the break and wasn’t able to get near the heights of the first two quarters, which was not helped by the rain arriving when Gippsland were kicking home with the breeze. Still, it was a brilliant 27 possession performance despite Power not being able to take advantage of his earlier heroics.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi started the game at the opening centre bounce, but wasn’t his usual prolific self as he spent more time forward to finish with his lowest disposal tally (14) of the season. He still had an impact though, winning the heavy footy when required against the likes of Rowell and Anderson. Baldi’s stoppage nous is as good as any, protecting the ball with smart body positioning and getting in the drop areas first. He kicked a clutch goal in the final quarter just before the rain arrived which appeared to be an important moment at the time before Oakleigh’s bigger bodies took hold.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly is improving with every game he plays in 2019 and appears to be gaining confidence with every touch too. He is a genuine elite user of the pill and is becoming a vital cog at half back. The obvious highlight was his thumping goal from outside 50 in the second term that sparked the Gippsland goal flurry before half time. He had some excellent contested moments to balance out the carry and skills nicely, using smart body work to take a great intercept mark in the second term. He finished with 23 disposals and a match high 11 rebound 50s. Connolly is in form at the right time of the year and giving recruiters plenty to think about.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Starting on the wing, it wasn’t Sparkes’ busiest day with the ball, but he still managed to find it on 15 occasions. The play often bypassed his area, but he put his body on the line when required. He had an awkward aerial ball to contest on the wing in the second term and despite being completely out of position, he went back with the flight and impacted the drop. Expect him to bounce back with big numbers next week.

#16 Josh Smith

Smith struggled to have an impact forward, but made his physical presence known in the ruck against Nick Bryan in the absence of Charlie Comben. He was the relief for Zach Reid, but threw his body around and made it tough for Bryan to have an impact at the stoppages. Smith helped out his defenders when he could too, getting back to take a well-read intercept in the third term before competing again shortly after in the defensive 50 to spoil a dangerous entry. Smith will benefit with the return of Comben next week.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips was in and out of the game, but constantly created anxiety when the ball went in his area. A brilliantly read crumb in the second quarter saw him convert his first for the day during Power’s purple patch. His best goal would come in the third term when he competed for an aerial ball and kept his feet to gather the ground ball, before swinging onto that lovely left foot to kick an important goal. He has serious goal sense and naturally knows how to get in scoring positions. While he may take time, I am looking forward to seeing what he can produce at the elite level.

#37 Harrison Pepper

The Hawthorn NGA prospect had some excellent moments in defence and perhaps some others he would like to have back, but was solid overall. While there was the occasional fumble under pressure, he won some important ground balls and rebounded the ball out of dangerous positions on numerous occasions. His highlight came in the third term when he held Matt Rowell in a physical tackle to earn a holding the ball free kick, a feat only few can boast to have achieved. Pepper finished with 14 disposals and five rebounds from the defensive arc.

Oakleigh:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Nick Bryan

Bryan was expected to win the hit outs easily against bottom age key defender Zach Reid coming into the game and though he did so, the Gippsland midfielders did a good job of reading Bryan’s taps throughout the game. His tap work is great which makes it more dangerous when the opposition can also rove it. Bryan looked good around the ground with his use by hand just as good as most midfielders, finishing the game with 13 disposals and 30 hitouts.

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was all class down back, playing his usual role sweeping and causing damage by foot both on his left and right. Bianco was a consistent player down back providing good rebound and using the ball well as usual, the rain hit in the last quarter and Bianco got some time on the wing, making the most of his time up the ground. Kicked a classy goal on the run in the wet conditions showing his talent in any weather condition, finishing the game with 24 disposals and one goal.

#8 Noah Anderson

Anderson did not have his usual output, with the talented midfielder usually a dangerous threat going forward. The Gippsland side did a great job of nullifying Anderson’s influence to get forward and hit the scoreboard. Anderson was later moved forward to give Oakleigh the dynamic they needed in the third quarter but still could not quite hit the scoreboard. Anderson still looked good with ball in hand and looked composed and clean whenever he was around the ball, finishing the game with 29 disposals and four tackles.

#9 Will Phillips

Phillips was fantastic in Oakleigh’s strong start to the game, seeing the bottom age midfielder show some good clean hands in transition and getting involved in a number of plays going forward. Mostly playing on the wing he had no issues winning the ball with his smart running and willingness to also get in and win his own ball. Phillips kicked a nice goal in the third quarter showing some dash and getting back the handball to snap on the run. Phillips finished the game with 29 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#11 Matt Rowell

The incredibly consistent Rowell was again a force that couldn’t be stopped through the midfield, and despite a slow start it was his desire and drive that really turned the game back in Oakleigh’s favour in the second half. Rowell was targeted by the opposition, copping some big tackles and blocks and made to earn a lot of his possessions through the midfield. When he did he would usually still get a handball out, proving he is as hard a worker on the outside as well as working into space to show off his great running power. Rowell finished the game with 29 disposals and eight tackles.

#25 Jamara Ugle-Hagan

Ugle-Hagan was the dominant key position player on the ground, proving a real handful with the clean ball movement of Oakleigh particularly early on. His lead up marking was superb with every one sticking and he kicked two nice goals and even passed another off unselfishly. He would show again he wasn’t just a lead up and mark player with a great chase down tackle in the last quarter, converting the set shot to reward his effort. The bottom age talent could have had an even bigger day if he had kicked straight, going on to collect 13 disposals, six marks and kicking 3.3 with a few kicks going out on the full as well.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Sharman had one of his quieter games for the year especially in front of goal but he still had some good moments. His best movement came with a quick thinking handball over the top of his head that lead to a goal in the first quarter. His most productive quarter was his final quarter in the wet weather, moved back in the last five minutes. He took some telling marks that showed he could have some versatility to play both forward and back. Sharman finished the game with 13 disposals and six marks.

Jets soar over Knights after quarter time in windy conditions

WESTERN Jets have come back from conceding the first six goals of the game to run over the top of a wounded but brave Northern Knights side by eight points in a thrilling wind-affected game at Mars Stadium, Ballarat. The Jets took control after quarter time, jumped by the breeze in favour of the Knights, before settling in and reducing the scoring output of their opponent in the second half to just get home, 12.5 (77) to 11.3 (69). The two leading goal kickers were in fine form with competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton booting four goals in the win, while Josh D’Intinosante booted five majors. Full credit to the Jets side who negotiated the breeze better, as the tiring Knights were without Adam Carafa later in the game, suited up on the boundary line, while both Jackson Davies and Ryan Sturgess picked up knocks in the second half.

Northern Knights took advantage of a huge breeze blowing towards the scoreboard end to pile on six goals to zero and open up a 36-point lead at quarter time. Nikolas Cox was simply too tall for his opponent, booting two first quarter majors including the first of the game from a well positioned Davies kick. He then made it two with the Knights fourth from the square. In between the Knights produced goals from Jack Boyd who won a free kick in the goal square, and the very next clearance Jackson Bowne added his name to the goal kickers list with a nice launch from just inside 50. Some great blocking at the forward stoppage resulted in a free pass for D’Intinosante to run onto it and kick the Knights’ fifth despite the clear frustrations of the Jets’ defence. With the clock running down, the Knights were not done just yet as Nathan Howard received a free kick and converted after the siren in what had been all one-way traffic. At quarter time, it was a Sam Philp-led midfield that had dominated its way to 16 inside 50s to five and took complete advantage of the five to six goal breeze. Eddie Ford provided a rare highlight for the Jets in that opening term with a high-flying mark, while Jets’ captain Lucas Rocci stood up best he could in an under-siege defence.

It was all Western in the second quarter as Emerson Jeka got into the game with two majors, and the seventh placed side piled on six goals to zero themselves to draw level with 90 seconds remaining. Nash Reynolds was the first to capitalise in front of goal, taking full advantage of an opponent slipping over and kicking truly from just inside 50. The next was a great mark to Jeka who converted from 25m out straight in front. Philp tried his best to get something happening from the middle with a terrific burst away clearance and bomb forward to Cox, but he could not quite direct the bouncing shot on goal through the big sticks. Later in the term Cox was switched into defence on Jeka after Sturgess came off a bit sore. Meanwhile the Jets kept piling on goals as Manton got out the back one-on-one and kicked a goal midair in the goal square, while Mace Cousins did the same cleanly grabbing it 10m out as the deepest player and putting it through. Then Josh Honey joined the party with a great sliding mark outside 50 and a long shot which carried in the wind and sailed through, before Jeka levelled the scores after backing back against his opponent, holding position and while he did not bring it down, kept his feet and booted it off the deck. So after 50 minutes, the teams were as they started, level on points with a half to come.

The Western Jets put on a big show in the third term, booting three goals against the breeze to restrict the Knights’ lead to just five points by the final break. Despite D’Intinosante’s best efforts for Northern – the exciting and dangerous small forward booted three goals in the term – it was the Jets who managed to add majors down an end that was basically impossible to score down in the first half. They all came from traditional football entries in challenging conditions, with Lucas Failli running onto a loose ball, Manton showing off his strength one-on-one to keep his balance and kick his second, and Aaron Clarke winning a free kick from a tackle and converting the set shot. In between, D’Intinosante wrecked havoc with his three majors, booting one off a great kick inside 50 from Sturgess, then winning a free kick from a contest with Rocci sliding low and converting the set shot, and finally capitalising with a third from a spoiled mark to boot a low bullet through the middle. Bowne was the other one to kick his second goal of the term with a great kick from inside 50 earlier in the term, but it was the Jets who controlled play and just made the most of the rare chances going forward to be in the box seat heading into the final term.

When Davies came off worse for wear early in the final term from a high tackle it was not a great start for the Knights, especially when a third goal from Manton off a step put the Jets in front for the first time during the day. D’Intinosante pushed into the midfield but still found space forward, though his set shot from 50m went well out on the full. Sturgess limped off the ground midway through the term as neither side could make inroads into their scoring, before Manton all but put it beyond doubt with his fourth after an errant high tackle and subsequent set shot goal. Just when the game looked over, the Knights went end-to-end and it was D’Intinosante who put his hand up once again with a ripping goal from 50m to sail it home and cut the deficit to just one point. When Reynolds got on the end of a bomb inside 50 and it escaped the foot race of Jeka and Davies to bounce though, the margin was seven with 30 seconds on the scoreboard clock. But the benches called out two minutes and both sides knew there was still time. While the Knights had a last roll of the dice, it was Western that held firm to book its spot in next week’s semi-finals.

In a low possession game, Daly Andrews lead the way for Western with 19 touches, six tackles and three inside 50s, while Failli (14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal), Rocci (14 disposals, five rebounds) and Will Kennedy (14 disposals,, seven tackles and 24 hitouts) were the other major ball winners for the Jets, as Manton’s 4.2 came from 10 touches and two marks. For Northern, D’Intinosante was superb with five majors from 13 touches, two marks and three tackles, while Philp (19 touches, four inside 50s, six tackles) and Davies (23 disposals, five marks and six rebounds) were the busiest in the loss. Jack Boyd also persevered in the ruck with 22 touches, 12 hitouts, four inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 6.1 | 6.3 | 10.3 | 11.3 (69)
WESTERN JETS 0.1 | 6.3 | 9.4 | 12.5 (77)

GOALS:

Northern: J. D’Intinosante 5, N. Cox 2, J. Bowne 2, J. Boyd, N. Howard.
Western: A. Manton 4, E. Jeka 2, N. Reynolds 2, M. Cousins, J. Honey, L. Failli, A. Clarke

ADC BEST:

Northern: J. D’Intinosante, S. Philp, J. Davies, J. Boyd, R. Sturgess, J. Watson
Western: L. Failli, D. Andrews, A. Manton, L. Rocco, J. Kellett, E. Jeka

NAB League Boys 2019 Finals Series preview: Northern Knights vs. Western Jets

NORTHERN KNIGHTS (6th, 8-7) vs. WESTERN JETS (7th, 8-7)
Saturday, August 31, 11:00am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Match Preview:

The first game of a double header at Ikon Park sees a knockout elimination final between Northern Knights and Western Jets. For the winner, a clash with either Gippsland Power or Oakleigh Chargers awaits, while for the loser, it is curtains on season 2019. The sides split their season head-to-head with Western coming from behind to down the Knights in Round 1 at Ikon Park, before Northern had no such troubles overcoming the Jets at Preston City Oval a few weeks back. Both teams came off similar games in the Wildcard Round, engaging in an arm-wrestle for two and half quarters before blowing the opposition side away with Northern slamming home nine of the last 10 goals against Bendigo at Preston, while Western piled on nine consecutive majors from the midway point of the third term against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. Both teams have shown good form at times throughout the year but have struggled with consistency, and the game is likely to be won in the midfield. Western have two strong forward targets in competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton and Aaron Clarke, while up the other end Northern Knights have Liam McMahon and Nikolas Cox who provide aerial presence and ability to hit the scoreboard. Sam Philp and Adam Carafa will make life hard for the opposition, with Daly Andrews and Josh Honey more than capable of winning their fair share of the ball at stoppages. The game will likely be a battle of Northern’s midfield getting on top, and the reliable defence of Western catapulting out of the back 50 and trying to set up attacking plays. The success of the latter will determine if they can put a large enough score on the board to overcome the Knights.

Prediction: Northern Knights by 16 points.

Key match-ups:

Josh D’Intinosante vs. Lucas Rocci

The Northern small forward might not have had a huge impact on the scoreboard last weekend, but he is capable of winning games off his own boot, snagging six goals against Murray Bushrangers, and four majors against the Jets in the last clash. It means the recently crowned Morrish Medallist in Rocci will have his hands full trying to stop the forward who is also capable of pinch-hitting in the midfield. While Northern have talls that can clunk marks, D’Intinosante will wait at the feet and crumb where required, though he is more than capable of creating his own space, leading out and converting set shots. It will be up to Rocci to lead the defence and restrict his impact while creating attacking plays from the defensive end.

Sam Philp/Adam Carafa vs. Daly Andrews/Josh Honey

The inside midfield is an area both these teams won comfortably last week and will be keen to repeat the dose in the first week of finals. Philp and Carafa combined for 64 touches and were everywhere for the Knights, while both Daly Andrews and Josh Honey got forward to hit the scoreboard. Both can play inside, outside or up either end which gives them the advantage in versatility, though the other two have been known to rest forward at times. It is likely the team that wins the midfield battle will progress to the semi-finals and therefore will be crucial in the overall scheme of the match.

Head to Head:

2019:
Northern Knights – 1
Western Jets – 1

Overall:
Northern Knights – 30
Western Jets – 15

Teams:

NORTHERN KNIGHTS

B: 4. J. Davies, 45. A. Taylor, 27. E. Macpherson
HB: 41. N. Kitchell, 9. C. Simonsen, 11. R. Sturgess
C: 12. C. Barbera, 8. A. Carafa, 37. K. Brandt
HF: 7. R. Gardner, 5. J. D’Intinosante, 10. J. Lucente
F: 59. J. Boyd, 40. L. Mcmahon, 23. N. Cox
R: 15. N. Howard, 13. S. Philp, 14. J. Watson
Int: 17. J. Bowne, 28. K. Davies, 46. S. House, 30. B. Leonard, 43. T. McMahon, 31. H. Ramshaw, 19. J. Trudgeon
23P: 24. L. Kolar

In: C. Barbera, N. Howard, J. Trudgeon

WESTERN JETS

B: 42. E. Acevski, 28. K. Crimmins, 4. L. Rocci
HB: 20. D. Cassar, 26. C. Raak, 8. J. Kellett
C: 14. M. Cousins, 24. J. Honey, 33. S. El-Hawli
HF: 13. D. Bolkas, 44. A. Manton, 17. N. Reynolds
F: 1. L. Failli, 45. A. Clarke, 3. E. Ford
R: 47. W. Kennedy, 19. J. Horo, 7. D. Andrews
Int: 15. H. Blake, 5. K. Borg, 37. L. Conway, 18. E. Jeka, 39. L. Phillips, 41. L. Rzanovski, 32. H. Schumann
23P: 6. B. Cootee

In: E. Jeka, K. Borg, C. Raak

Scouting Notes: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

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

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

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

#4 Finn Maginness

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

#5 Ryan Byrnes

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

#6 Miles Bergman

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

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

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

#12 Charlie Dean

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

#13 Louis Butler

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

#15 Angus Hanrahan

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

#29 Fischer McAsey

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

#32 Jack Bell

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

#74 Harry Loughnan

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

Geelong:

#15 Tanner Bruhn

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

#37 Oliver Henry

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

#40 Jesse Clark

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

#53 Cameron Fleeton

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

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

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

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

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

#8 Adam Carafa

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

#11 Ryan Sturgess

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

#13 Sam Philp

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

#40 Liam McMahon

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

#45 Ayce Taylor

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

Bendigo:

#4 Thomson Dow

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

#19 Ben Worme

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

#22 Josh Treacy

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

#29 Jack Ginnivan

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

#38 Brady Rowles

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

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Taylah Melki

Calder Cannons:

#1 Daniel Mott

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

#3 Jackson Cardillo

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

#5 Curtis Brown

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

#8 Sam Ramsay

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

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

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

#29 Campbell Edwardes

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

#38 Brodie Newman

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

Tasmania:

#6 Sam Banks

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

#7 Matt McGuinness

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

#8 Jake Steele

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

#25 Jackson Callow

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

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels
By: Ed Pascoe

GWV:

#7 Mitch Martin

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

#13 Jay Rantall

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

#44 Ben Hobbs

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

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

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

#3 Eddie Ford

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

#4 Lucas Rocci

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

#20 Darcy Cassar

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

#24 Josh Honey

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

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Ed Pascoe

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

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

#31 Josh Rachele

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

#54 Dominic Bedendo

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

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

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

#10 Clayton Gay

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

#11 Ned Cahill

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

#44 Cody Weightman

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

Midfield maestros go to work as Knights down Pioneers

A MIDFIELD masterclass from Northern Knights duo Sam Philp and Adam Carafa has lead the Knights into the finals series after missing out last year, defeating the Bendigo Pioneers by 42 points at Preston City Oval today. The pair had a combined 52 touches in the win, as they took control of the inside midfield and let the forwards go to work with Northern booting nine of the last 10 goals to see off the Pioneers. Bendigo was in the game for the majority of the contest, and the seven-goal final deficit did not reflect the tightness of the game.

Bendigo had the favourable end in the opening term and made the most of it, capitalising with three goals to one. It was an arm-wrestle for the most part as both sides had chances to put scoreboard pressure on the opposition. Jack Boyd had a chance with a great contested mark but his shot missed, and then Sam Conforti made Northern pay with a great goal on the run to give the visitors the opening major. The sling-shot approach from defence to attack by the Pioneers in the conditions was working a treat, and Josh Treacy took advantage with a strong mark and converting the set shot for goal number two. James Lucente almost got the Knights on the board with a snap on goal but it bounced into the post. Liam McMahon managed to find the luck with a 50-metre penalty bringing him to the goalsquare to send through Northern’s first goal of the day. He had a chance for a second moments later with a great lead-out mark from the next clearance but the shot fell short and was kept in.

Bendigo rushed it down the other end but Jack Ginnivan also missed after winning a free kick for a high tackle. They peppered the goals with Jeremy Rodi having a chance after a great tackle and free kick, but missed, as did another shot which was just touched by Knights captain Jackson Davies on the line, albeit with an unwanted interaction with the goal post at the same time. Philp was doing his best in close, fending off a couple of players and getting it free forward, but the Bendigo defence, lead by William Wallace and Brady Rowles was sending it down the other end at rapid pace. Their quick ball movement soon paid off as Treacy received a 50-metre penalty and converted to put the Pioneers up by a couple of goals. At quarter time, Philp and Carafa shared in 15 disposals between them, while Ginnivan and Aaron Gundry had six apiece.

Northern took full advantage with the breeze in the second term, booting four goals to one, including the three last goals of the term, to take a narrow four-point lead into the break as the weather deteriorated and spectators began to check weather radars. Much like the first term, Boyd had an early chance, but unlike his first quarter effort, this time he made good on his set shot to cut the deficit to a goal, though the running Ginnivan made sure this was only temporary as he was involved in a number of handballs before putting one through along the ground. The Bendigo defensive pressure continued throughout the term to give the Pioneers chances, but it was the defensive aerial ability of the Pioneers back six that was causing grief for the Knights. Northern continually attacked but each forward 50 entry was picked off by the Pioneers defenders. McMahon broke back with his second goal with a terrific snap from the pocket, negotiating the breeze, then back-to-back set shots after perfect kicks inside 50 handed the Knights the lead. Lucente and McMahon both capitalised on goals and while Ben Worme had a chance to steal the lead back late, missed and the margin was four points at the main break. At half-time it was Philp who led all-comers with 13 touches, while Carafa (11), Gundry and Thomson Dow were not far behind with 11 each. But it was Rowles and Wallace’s impact off half-back and McMahon and Boyd’s work inside 50 that were standing out in the low-scoring contest.

Philp’s work through the midfield was absolutely superb, getting the ball forward early in the premiership quarter, hitting the scoreboard as Northern piled on five goals to three against the breeze. A snap from Lucente was touched as he kicked it for the first score of the game. Wallace and Rowles were combining once again, with Rowles racing it out of defensive 50, taking the game on and getting it long, only for a shot on goal from Ethan Roberts to be touched in the square. Wallace intercepted an end-to-end play from Northern off the behind and established an end-to-end play for the Pioneers as Dow ran onto the ball on the wing and through a series of handballs set up Jack Evans to put it through the middle and give his side the lead. Not to be denied, Philp got on the end of one running inside 50 to put it through and hand his side back the lead, only for Ginnivan to steal it back with a nicely timed goal to stand up as he did in the last term.

But the next 10 minutes of the term belonged to Northern as the Knights booted four goals and blew the margin out to 19 points thanks to majors from Jackson Bowne, Boyd, Koby Davies and Thomas McMahon, all of whom had booted their goals from just about identical spots 30m out from goal off a loose ball get. It rubbed salt into the wounds for the Pioneers, who had been peppering the goals but not quite putting through majors, kicking 2.4 up to that point. The pressure valve was soon given some relief with Gundry marking inside 50 and converting a goal for the visitors just to give them hope heading into the final term, trailing by 13 points. Philp and Carafa were bordering on unstoppable in the midfield, combining for 42 touches, seven more than anyone else on the ground.

The game felt like it was about to break open heading into the last if Northern continued its momentum from the third term, and when Koby Davies snapped truly in the opening few minutes, the home crowd got exactly what it wanted. It opened up the game for Josh D’Intinosante to hit the scoreboard with a set shot to push the margin beyond 20 points, and soon Liam Kolar joined the party with his first goal in Knights colours. The Knights’ lead was 32 points and although the Pioneers never gave in – continuing to get it down the ground with dare and determination, their finishing was letting them down as they kicked two more behinds from genuine chances, to sit at 7.13 to their opponents’ 13.7 with 10 minutes to go really showing the difference in goal efficiency. Ryan Sturgess enjoyed the flow-on effect of the Knights knowing they had the game in the bag, booting two late goals to add to his solid performance across the four quarters. The Knights had run out easy 42-point winners on the back of a five goals to zero final term, but it was not reflective of the Pioneers work for the majority of the game.

While Bendigo was brave for the majority of the match, the Knights’ finishing capabilities in front of goal, the defensive work of Jackson Davies (17 disposals, three marks and eight rebounds) among others in the back 50, and most importantly, the work of Carafa (29 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and five tackles) and Philp (23 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s, three tackles and a goal) in the midfield separated the sides. Lucente (18 disposals, 10 marks and one goal) was important, particularly in the first half, while Liam McMahon’s three first half goals set the Knights up. The likes of Dow (19 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s) and Riley Wilson (17 disposals, six marks) in the midfield did all they could, while Gundry (20 disposals, two marks, 16 hitouts and a goal) was a standout in the ruck and providing a target down forward. Rowles (16 disposals, three marks) and Wallace (11 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) in defence constantly stood up in the barrage of attacks, while Ginnivan (15 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s) was classy despite kicking 2.3 for the day.
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.3 | 5.5 | 10.6 | 15.7 (97)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 4.7 | 7.11 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:

Northern: L. McMahon 3, J. Boyd 2, K. Davies 2, R. Sturgess 2, J. Lucente, S. Philp, J. Bowne, T. McMahon, J. D’Intinosante, L. Kolar.
Bendigo: J. Treacy 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Conforti, J. Evans, A. Gundry.

ADC BEST:

Northern: S. Philp, A. Carafa, J. Davies, L. McMahon, J. Lucente, J. Boyd.
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan, A. Gundry, B. Rowles, T. Dow, W. Wallace, R. Wilson.

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year

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

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

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

BACKS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

HALF-BACKS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

CENTRES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

HALF-FORWARDS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FORWARDS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUCKS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERCHANGE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECOND TEAM OF THE YEAR:

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

Morrish Medal Preview: Tight contest predicted for 2019

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

Bendigo Pioneers:

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

Calder Cannons:

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

Dandenong Stingrays:

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

Eastern Ranges:

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

Geelong Falcons:

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

Gippsland Power”

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

GWV Rebels:

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

Murray Bushrangers:

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

Northern Knights:

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

Oakleigh Chargers:

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

Sandringham Dragons:

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

Tasmania Devils:

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

Western Jets:

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

TOP CONTENDERS: (Based on our prediction)

Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges) 18 votes

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

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels) 16 votes

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

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons) 16 votes

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

Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights) 16 votes

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

Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) – 16 votes

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

Others: (Based on our predictions)

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

Our Predictions after Round 5:

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

Our Predictions after Round 10:

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