Tag: josh kemp

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 8

A TRULY mixed bag of NAB League results in Round 8 saw some teams play above their level and match their more fancied opponents. Plenty of players shone across the weekend, and we cast eyes on each game to provide you with notes on players selected in initial representative squads. Each note is the opinion of the individual author.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

It was a typical Lachie Potter game, with the Knights top-ager driving forward well off half-back. Mopping up the loose ball in defensive 50 at speed, Potter constantly looked to round his nearest opponents and boot his side forward with long kicks. While his pace is a clear strength, it worked against him at times as he tried to properly grasp the ball in the back half and fumbled early on. When he did manage to get his hands on it though, Potter often made his Oakleigh opposition look silly as he repeatedly took them and the game on. Could look to lower his eyes more often, with his kicking accuracy compromised as he blazed away, but you wouldn’t want to thwart the instincts of such a natural player.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was not a massive game from D’Intinosante, but his work rate inside forward 50 and at the coalface in midfield was outstanding. ‘JD’ dug in with repeat efforts and was constantly on the move at stoppages, while also leading smartly when starting forward to be hit up inside 50. His kicking lacks a touch of penetration at times, and D’Intinosante looked wary of that as he looked to find targets closer to goal when others may have had a shot around the arc. While his disposal efficiency was compromised by the amount of contested ball he earned, D’Intinosante usually made good decisions when given time and showed his goal sense despite not finding a major. Took a good overhead mark going back with the flight during the third term, and is certainly a trier.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Playing mostly through the midfield, Gardner was reasonably quiet through the middle stages of the game, but was impactful in a tight final term. Gardner popped up with a couple of nice running clearances and balls inside 50, with one ending in a missed shot on goal. While he could not quite drag his side over the line, Gardner’s work at the forward-half stoppages was great to watch in the final 25 minutes, and showed plenty of the promise we saw in his bottom-age year. Was clean at ground level and bided his time well in traffic, while also cashing in with a goal from a 50-metre penalty in the third term.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess is as reliable as they come, constantly providing an outlet option in the back half and positioning himself well to intercept. Those traits boded well for his role of sweeping up across half-back, with his efficient kicking also ensuring he was trusted with kick-in duties. Took on a slightly different role in the second half as Oakleigh threw co-captain Dylan Williams forward, with Sturgess the obvious match-up for him. While Williams would boot two crucial goals and trouble Sturgess with his athleticism, the Knights defender was unlucky to concede one of them with a free kick as the two tussled one-out. Was unlucky as Williams assisted another goal too, with Sturgess left to mark two Chargers players inside 50, and coming off his man to very nearly stop the move altogether. Not a bad outing, and continues to be one of Northern’s most consistent.

#13 Sam Philp

Philp was the standout Knight on the day and is an absolute bull in the midfield. The contested-ball machine won most of his 28 possessions himself, and pushed his side forward with nine clearances. Did well to get involved outside of the stoppages at both ends when running through midfield, and accumulated nicely across the day. Would spend time forward in the second and third terms, but found the goals with a clutch set shot conversion in the fourth quarter after moving back into the middle. Looks increasingly composed on the ball, but can sharpen up his kicking.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

By no means a huge accumulator, but Macpherson looks a tidy player. Has found his spot in the back six now after a slow start to the season and is usually a neat user, finding a good amount of ball at ground level. Positions well in defence and as a smaller player, is starting to pressure more. Looks a different type of player to his brother, Darcy, and is starting to adapt.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was down on his usual numbers, and struggled to break through with the run and carry we have come to expect from midfield. Still by no means had a bad game, winning 17 disposals and having 10 tackles to show his work rate at the stoppages. The Oakleigh co-captain almost found the goals with a snap and set shot attempt, but also spent some time on the outer of the arc as Oakleigh looked to lock it in. Was employed off half-back at times too as he hoped to find more space, and provided his usual rebound from there.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

The GWS Academy product accumulated well throughout the game, and started brightly with a sharp kick forward as he carved a run through midfield. Lucas moved onto the wing as Oakleigh looked for more outside run, but he looked to be a bit down on confidence after missing a few kicks and being caught holding the ball. Lucas went to ground on occasion with opponents nipping at his heels, but still managed to find the ball and looked better with his disposal by hand. Has the potential to provide more damaging kicks, as showcased by another neat find going inside 50 during the final term, but he was a touch inconsistent in that area on the day. A solid outing.

#23 Dylan Williams

The Oakleigh co-captain proved a match-winner as he moved forward in the second half, and always makes defenders wary of his presence. Starting off half-back as he increasingly does, Williams showed his smarts with some good positioning to intercept a couple of errand Northern kicks forward. Williams was provided with plenty of instruction when he came to the bench and is clearly still adapting to the new role, with his clear skill and smoothness on the ball carrying him through. He is so effective one-on-one and creative forward of centre, so it was no surprise that he made an immediate impact when moved forward. Almost created a goal with a beautifully weighted left-foot kick inside 50, but later found the first goal of the final term as he marked on the behind line. Got out the back smartly to provide Thomas Graham with a goal, while garnering enough attention from his direct opponent to win a free kick and boot the deciding six points half-way through the last quarter. So obviously talented, and almost impossible to stop one-out inside forward 50.

#27 Josh May

May was a constant on the wing for Oakleigh, proving most effective by hand in tight situations and driving forward well by foot. Was involved early and stood out with his ability to keep his hands free in tackles, also keeping his feet and flicking the ball out to runners. Laid a nice holding the ball tackle on defensive wing and kicked beautifully inside 50 to Spiros Sklavenitis to cap off a solid first term. While he was a touch quieter in the middle-stages, May came back into the game with another long find going inside 50, and a solid one-on-one mark on the wing to finish off.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Joe Lee

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The silky left footer was reasonably quiet, held to 15 touches. Was in and out of the game but was able to manage 12 kicks and used his disposal effectively. Works hard both ways but was rather subdued by Sandringham’s dominant midfield engine room.

#11 Aaron Gundry

The ruckman finished with 13 disposals and 22 hit-outs, capping off a trying day. Worked hard when thrown both forward and back, the mobile big man moved well around the ground and fought hard against Sandringham’s duel ruck rotation.

#20 James Schischka

The intercepting defender worked tirelessly all day, even managing a goal from his 14-disposal, five-mark effort. Took a nice intercept mark playing as a loose man in the third quarter but was otherwise reasonably quiet for the most part. His highlight of the day was when he intercepted a sloppy kick from Tyson Milne in the goal square, nailing an easy goal to put Bendigo up deep into the final quarter.

#21 Riley Wilson

Playing up forward, Wilson had one play in the dying stages of the fourth quarter where he tackled which resulted in a free kick in the Bendigo back half, setting up the play for a Pioneers goal. Finishing with 23 touches, six tackles and six rebounds, Wilson was a clear standout for the Pioneers, working tirelessly against a strong opposition midfield.

#59 Riley Clarke

The electric forward only had six touches for the day but was a dangerous avenue to goal. Ended up kicking two goals, and Clarke did a number of show-stopping things, including plucking a brilliant one-handed mark on the run. Sprayed a couple of shots on goal but his marking was solid, including taking a hotly contested lead-up effort and converting the set shot from about 40m out. Does drift in and out of games but his sticky hands when marking makes him a threatening proposition for opposition clubs to curtail.

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes was sensational for the Dragons, bursting away from stoppages all day and dominating in the contest. Finished with 31 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal. Was let down by a few inside 50 entries that were gifted to the opposition but was overall outstanding from the first siren. Had a five-disposal chain of play in the third quarter and got on the end of some Miles Bergman brilliance in the fourth, taking a nice mark in the goal square and converting. His consistent performances have been key for Sandringham, standing up in the absence of his usual midfield mates. Byrnes could not have done much more for the Dragons.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman could have possibly had a huge game had he made the most of his ample opportunities in front of goal. The hard-working midfielder slotted an inaccurate 1.5 but made up for this with his work around the ground, recording 19 disposals to go with nine tackles and six inside 50s. Bergman’s offensive and defensive traits were on display all game, including a fantastic run down tackle effort in the second quarter, showcasing his elite closing speed and desperation. Was played out of the goal square and won most of his one on ones, providing a headache for Bendigo defenders. Almost kicked a Paddy Dangerfield type goal in the fourth quarter, breaking away from the centre at pace, taking a bounce and driving it long to the square where the Dragons eventually goaled. Followed it up later with a delightful snap around the body to finish off a good passage of play from the Dragons. Played a monster final quarter when the game was on the line.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Hanrahan continued his strong form into Echuca, recording 26 touches and six marks. In a game where space was hard to find, Hanrahan managed to show his good breakaway speed out of stoppages and showcased his athleticism and agility. Wasn’t as attacking with his use as he has been and failed to hit the scoreboard but played more of a midfield role. His clean disposal stood out and he started the game off strongly. Is often unmanned at stoppages and positions himself as an attacking option, often picking up the loose ball and driving it forward.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruck duties with Andrew Courtney for the majority of the game, and Bowman again impressed with his work around the ground, finishing with two goals from 14 touches. Was one of the Dragons’ best and displayed his capacity to perform in all aspects of the game, with four tackles, four marks and 19 hit-outs to go with his work up forward. Spilled a simple chance late in the last quarter but followed it up with a tackle that he won a free for, converting the straight-forward shot. Used the ball well by foot and makes his presence felt both in the air and on the ground.

#30 Andrew Courtney

The athletic ruckman was used more around the middle of the ground rather than being plugged at either end, amassing 29 hit outs and nine disposals. Courtney was serviceable for the Dragons but doesn’t do as much around the ground, as evidenced when he found space to run and carry in the second quarter but instead opted to blaze away and cough the ball up. Can also work on using his big frame more effectively to outmuscle smaller opponents and could be more aggressive to show his physical presence.

#32 Jack Bell

The tall forward finished with only one goal from three shots but showed he can be a damaging proposition, with his vertical leap and strong hands enabling him to obtain six marks from 10 disposals. Pinch-hit in the ruck as well, and Bell’s solitary goal came from a well-timed lead to a good area where he was hit on the chest by Jack Bowey, nailing the set shot from 40m out.

#33 Corey Watts

The lock down key defender was outstanding for the Dragons, with his defensive work rate and intercept marking on show all day. Watts had one terrific defensive effort in the third quarter, running off his man to pick up the ball and rebound 50, hitting his teammate lace out on the wing. Finished with 12 touches and three marks, Watts showed he’s more than a negating player, with his offensive attributes being utilised to push Sandringham forward from siren to siren.

#43 Jake Bowey

The zippy wingman worked up and down the ground, registering 17 touches, four inside 50s and five marks. Copped a big elbow to the neck region in the second quarter and had to be assisted off but finished the game to play a strong role in Sandringham’s victory. Always uses the ball well by foot and plays the percentages well. Really lifted in the last quarter, putting his small frame on the line but also providing a strong outlet for defenders, often breaking into space on the wing and providing an option.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

Kelly started in the ruck and was constantly involved. He also spent plenty of time up forward where he proved to be very difficult to stop, especially in the air. Kelly took several strong, contested marks which resulted in two goals for his team. He showcased his reach, athleticism and sticky hands throughout the match. He ended up with 13 disposals, 15 hitouts, five marks, and two goals.

#5 Cam Wild

Wild was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day. He found plenty of the pill and never faded out of the contest. He had a few fumbles early on, but he was still able to move the ball forward. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he took a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball. Wild had a team-high 27 disposals, along with seven marks and a goal.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen was able to hit the scoreboard early, with a fantastic left foot snap in the first quarter. He would then fade in and out of the game throughout the next three quarters. He was very good in patches and his ball use moving forward caught the eye.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft did not have the biggest game possession wise, finishing with just 13 disposals. But the majority of his touches were very effective and had an impact on the game. His cleanliness at ground level and vision around the contest was noticeable. Chalcraft had an influence defensively, laying a game-high seven tackles.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Boyer was relatively quiet, accumulating 16 disposals (15 kicks). He spent time through the Bushrangers midfield and across half-back. His ball use was generally good, but he did miss targets on occasions. An okay game from the talented midfielder.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was prolific around stoppages, winning a lot of his possessions on the inside of the contest. He also won plenty of the ball on the outside, where he used the ball effectively by foot. Mott ended up with a game-high 29 disposals and one goal.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Playing on the wing, Ramsay was involved early and was able to hit the scoreboard in the first term after crumbing a marking contest to perfection. His kicking skills were top notch and he always ran hard into open space, where he would make himself a good option for his teammates. Ramsay kicked his second goal of the day in the third term when he ran into an open goal, giving the Cannons a 40-point lead. He had the chance to kick another goal moments later, but his shot on goal hit the woodwork. Ramsay collected 17 disposals and kicked two goals.

#30 Josh Kemp

Kemp started well, laying a really strong tackle on his opponent that resulted in a free-kick and shot goal on goal, which he converted successfully. He was able to hit the scoreboard again in the second term after taking a good grab inside 50. Kemp also laid some impressive tackles on the day.

#38 Brodie Newman

The general down back was very solid offensively and was just as good defensively. He had 24 disposals (16 kicks) and continually used his powerful leg to drive the ball out of the back half. Newman was the perfect player to have the ball in hand because of his clean skills and decision-making. A solid all-around game.

Geelong Falcons vs. Western Jets
By: Taylah Melki

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

Won plenty of the footy and was clever with ball in hand. He used his body well to win possession and went in hard time and time again. Good strong hands and read the flight of the ball well. Give it and go mentality and runs hard to create space for the Falcons. Good evasive skills to sidestep an opponent and then dispose of the ball to a teammate further afield.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Clever kick and good spatial awareness to push the ball forward and create a scoring opportunity for his teammate. Missed a shot at goal after rushing the kick but he had more time than he expected. He consistently tried hard to win the ball and create pressure in the Falcons attacking 50 to give his side scoring chances. Harassed his opponent both at ground level and in the air making him work for each possession. Sprague showcased good football smarts to hit up teammates on the lead in the attacking 50 with well weighted kicks and won plenty of the footy getting into clever positions across the ground.

#37 Oliver Henry

Henry got into good damaging positions but was unable to convert in front of goals slotting three behinds for the afternoon. He had good hands under pressure to take some strong marks. Good lead up at the footy and clever leading patterns able to take the mark under pressure. He applied good defensive pressure in the last term to worry his opponent out of the kick and cause him to turn the ball over in the Falcons forward 50.

#40 Jesse Clark

Good strength around the contest and was able to stand up in the tackle and keep his arms free in the third term. He was involved in the play and worked hard to win the ball in and around the contest. Reads the play well and has quick hands to move the ball out of congestion and into space. Good body work to take a nice grab, shake off his opponent and then go for a run but was unable to convert in the last term only registering a point.

Western Jets:

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was impressive throughout the game with his quick hands and worked hard at the stoppages to win the ball and dish it out to teammates. Used the ball well with a clean pick up to turn and then kick the ball inside the Jets attacking 50. Took plenty of strong grabs and showcased his ability to read the flight of the ball and get into the right positions across the ground. He did a wealth of work across the ground winning the ball from half back and then pushing forward to create options in the forward half. He showcased some good dash to break away from the pack and go for a run along the boundary line to create some forward momentum for his side.

#20 Darcy Cassar

He won a truckload of the footy and was constantly involved in the contest across the ground. Cassar worked hard to impact every play and ensure he was an option. Good sidestep to get around his opponents and ran hard to create space across the ground. Clean at ground level and used the ball well with majority of his possessions kicks. He was important across the back half running the ball out of defence time and time again. He showcased his strength to stand up in a tackle and still get rid of the ball to a teammate. He was classy with ball in hand and tackled hard to win the ball back for the Jets credit.

#24 Josh Honey

Good attacking play to keep the ball moving, used his quick hands and good vision to pass the footy off to an opponent streaming by in better position. Clever back up play to help out his teammates and provide running support. Honey applied good strong physical pressure laying some crunching tackles with a big tackle in the third term to win a holding the ball call. Clever goal in the third term to pick the ball up cleanly and then stream into an open goal square and kick it straight through the middle.

#47 Will Kennedy 

Good turn of speed on the lead to accelerate away from his opponent and take the mark in the forward 50 but did not score on that opportunity. Kennedy did a wealth of work moving between a variety of positions and covering the ground well to impact the play. Good body work to win the ball in the ruck against a bigger bodied opponent. His ground work and follow up efforts were impressive, tracking the ball well at ground level and winning plenty of the footy.

Tasmania Devils vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Ed Pascoe

Tasmania:

#1 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill had a quiet game by his standards and struggled to get any meaningful run or touches for a good portion of the game. The intent was there with his attack on the ball and the man, but was sometimes a bit overzealous with his tackling which resulted in a few frees against. It was not until the last quarter where he really started to turn the game, being swung forward and kicking two quick goals while looking very lively and dangerous whenever the ball went inside forward 50. O’Neill had a few nice kicks but a few poor ones as well throughout the day, but one kick was perfectly weighted to a teammate in the second quarter. O’Neill finished the game with 15 disposals, five tackles and two goals.

#3 Oliver Davis

Davis was a ball magnet through the midfield, winning it both at the contest and around the ground. His smarts with ball in hand was notable, very rarely missing a target and rarely taking the wrong option and a lot of his disposals came from knowing where the ball was going to be next whether that was roving a pack in defence or getting forward of centre in space to kick long inside 50. Davis finished the game with 33 disposals, seven marks and nine inside 50s in a best on ground performance where he couldn’t have done much more and certainly looked a mature player and leader despite not being eligible until the 2020 draft.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness was one of many solid performers down back for Tasmania he read the play well and had a good mix of defence and offence. He kicked a lovely goal on the run, running past a teammate who had marked inside 50 and that was just before the quarter time siren to give his team some momentum. The standout trait for McGuinness was obviously his kicking with his left foot hitting targets at will whether that was short or a big long 50m kick. He also intercepted well and was a calm head down back. McGuinness finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds and a goal in a well rounded performance down back.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young battled hard down back and was a strong contributor for Dandenong across the four quarters. He was strong in defence early with a strong tackle and his general attack on the ball was stellar. A feature of his game was his kicking where it was not only penetrating but long and dangerous often perfectly placed for the leading target. He was moved to into the midfield in the last quarter and attacked the ball well but it was his work down back that again stood out most taking a very strong intercept mark late in he quarter when the heat was on. Young finished the game with 19 disposals and four rebound 50s.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Riordan was a constant in the Dandenong engine room as a standout at the stoppages with his attack and clean hands at the contest. He hit the scoreboard early taking a nice intercept mark and kicking the set shot goal in the first quarter. His second and last quarters were his most productive and eye catching, and he showed some nice burst to evade a tackler in the second quarter and also worked hard behind the ball to help out his defenders and in the last quarter. He was pivotal at the stoppages winning some big clearances and eternally using the ball well. Riordan finished the game with 23 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning started the game forward and standing at 200cm was there to be a marking option but didn’t quite excel at the role. He did however get a nice front and square at a marking on test deep in the forward pocket – showing his clean hands and agility for a tall but was unfortunately taken in a good tackle. he got to pinch hit in the ruck in the first quarter and actually looked quite impressive with his leap and good taps. He was moved to defence rather quickly and showed his good rebound and clean ball use and he also did look more comfortable back there, he rarely fumbled at all and was very clean at ground level which is often an issue for players of his height. De Koning finished the game with eight disposals but rarely wasted his touches.

Gippsland Power vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a productive day at the office playing through the middle and pushing forward. Worked hard at the stoppages, showing clean hands at ground level and able to handball clear to free teammates on the outside. He had the smarts to draw a couple of players running the opposite direction and handballed over his head to a teammate who was free because of the move. He did not rush and assessed his options well throughout the day, and had two of the easier goals he will kick in his career, receiving a couple of handballs over opponents to him in the goal square – first from Riley Baldi in the opening term and Charlie Comben in the final term, to finish off his hard work in the middle with two majors.

#6 Riley Baldi

Just gets to the right positions and finds a truckload of the ball. His vision and work rate is very high, but his execution by foot can let him down at times. A couple of early inside 50s were swallowed up by opposition defenders just because they went to the wrong side of the one-on-one contest. His field kicking through midfield was better as he used his vision to see free opponents streaming down the middle and used it to open the game up. Set up a goal to Sam Flanders and another to Josh Smith, while having a funny moment where he put his hand up for the ruck stoppage despite Smith being there. Baldi read the ball of ruck hands well throughout the game.

#10 Leo Connolly

A slick mover, Connolly was impressive in patches throughout the game, particularly moving forward in transition. He was able to spin out of trouble early in the game and handball free, something he did a number of times, using a neat sidestep to create his own space in close. He laid some good tackles and had a long shot on goal which just fell short and rushed across the line in the second term. Found space in the last quarter and marked from a short Charlie Comben kick and put it straight through the middle from 45m out.

#12 Brock Smith

Did not have the prolific numbers of past weeks, but did not need to given the lack of entries inside the defensive 50 at times. Such was Gippsland’s dominance in the first half, Smith often pushed up the ground and worked well to add an extra number to the contest, handballing with teammates to get the ball moving in transition. When in defence he settled down the side and used the ball well under pressure to gain distance up the field. Took a very good mark one-on-one against Mitch Martin in the goal square to save a certain goal, and even when he lost front position in a marking contest managed to win the ball with great second efforts. Did all he could deep in defence.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Did well on the outside working hard up the wing, but also went in to win some hard balls at ground level, clean with his hands to spin out of trouble whilst under pressure to handball to a teammate. He just burrows in at ground level and wins his own footy, then can spread to the outside and provide an option. Had a good fend-off in defence to get the ball free to a teammate by hands.

#16 Josh Smith

A big game from Smith who while he did not see much of it in the final term, had a massive first three quarters and was close to best on ground. He provided a presence with his marking ability and lead out strongly, taking the ball out in front, but also worked hard with his second efforts to make a contest at ground level. Smith finished with three goals, booting one from a mark early, and two from snaps, including his second after dropping a mark he should have taken, grabbing the ball and putting it through off a couple of steps. Had a chance for his fourth from long range which was on target, but was rushed across on the line. Laid tackles and bumps for his teammates, while sharing the ruck load when not inside 50.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips continued his good form this season, creating a number of chances inside 50 and booting a couple of goals. Had an outside of the boot kick to Josh Smith in the opening term, with Smith converting the opportunity, then had his own chance but drifted to the right. Kicked his first from a snap, then missed another chance this time to the left. Had some hit and miss passes by foot at times trying to keep the ball low, but worked hard pushing up to the wing, and even won a possession in the defensive 50. Laid a great tackle on the wing to show off his defensive capability and then kicked the perfect set shot in the third term after winning a free kick from being thrown to the ground. Had another couple of chances in the fourth term when he had a long shot from just inside 50 which was touched on the line, then attempted a dribble goal under pressure but bounced the wrong side of the post.

#22 Zach Reid

Used the ball well in defence and was strong overhead, seemed to move well around the ground but at times was a tad slow to react and was tackled a couple of times, forcing him to rush his disposal. Reid showed off a nice long, technically sound kick and showed good body work on his opponent one-on-one deep in defence.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Had a few nice plays when up the ground, providing a stronger body at stoppages, winning the ball in the middle and putting it into dangerous positions which yielded a goal in the second term. He was quick to dispose of the ball when winning it on the inside, and spot up a free teammate on the wing. Had a nice run in the third term, fending off an opponent and charge inside 50 but his low kick just missed its target.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony had some nice plays throughout the game, not winning heaps of the ball, but still showing off some quick hands at stoppages. He had a smart movement in the first half, winning the ball at ground level, rolling over, getting his hands free and handballing to a teammate. Mahony won a free kick in the third term for being infringed in a marking contest but his shot from 40m drifted to the right. He had a great clearance and kick out of the middle in the final term as well.

#4 Jed Hill

Played through the midfield and up forward, taking a sliding mark inside 50, then having a long range shot but it fell short and was intercepted in the goal square. He laid a great tackle deep in attack in the second term, and was more prominent through the stoppages, then kicked long inside 50 to Matty Lloyd’s advantage – though he could not capitalise with the mark – after Hill’s opponent fell over just outside 50. He had a unique attempt on goal in the third term kicking it off the ground, but it went across the other side to the pocket and just stayed in for a throw-in.

#7 Mitch Martin

Showed good tackling pressure early in the game and was able to extract the ball from tight situations. Did not win a heap of the footy on the day, but was able to find space inside 50, taking a mark and then having a set shot after the siren in the first term which went to the right. Had a quieter second half, but took a good mark inside defensive 50 under pressure.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a nice play on the wing at one stage where he fended off an opponent, handed it off, received the ball back then kick low into a sliding Jed Hill inside 50 in the opening term, and had a chance on goal in the second when he kicked long, received the handball back, had a long-range shot but it went to the right. Had another shot on goal with a snap but missed. Another player who was okay without standing out.

#13 Jay Rantall

Rantall’s big ball-winning streak continued on the weekend with another 30-odd touches and he just keeps running. A massive endurance base, Rantall often wins the ball in tight and handballs out to a free player, while also laying some good tackles. He was not afforded the space he often can get during games, but still played his role in the midfield and was a key player in the Rebels’ better second half. His kicking is hit and miss, but his goal sense is still good, kicking a long-range goal from free play 50m out late in the final term. He had a snap just earlier but was smothered off the boot. His quick hands from congestion to the outside is a highlight.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 7

WITH NAB League proceedings back to the norm, performances were even across the board, but a few players managed stand out in a mixed bag of results. Our scouts cast eyes across all six games in Round 7, and here are their opinion-based notes on players included in the initial Victoria Country and Metro squads, as well as those pointed out by respective talent managers.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

The bottom-ager had a solid game playing along the wing and winning the ball on the outside. At half-back he had a clean turn and spin, grabbing it off one touch and despite finding himself under pressure, spun out and gave off the clean hands to a teammate running forward. He affected a Will Chandler kick inside 50 with good pressure forcing him to rush, while mostly ran hard on the outside and used the ball well while doing the defensive things right.

#37 Oliver Henry

A great finisher around goal who works really hard up the ground. He goes on long searching leads and often can win the ball in midfield or even at half-back, before running hard forward doubling back on his opponent to create an outnumber forward of centre. He is strong overhead and is good on the lead, and had a great moment in the opening term, faking a step on the right to kick on the left in board to Tom Richardson leading out. He was a little ambitious at one stage in the third term, crashing through multiple players before getting caught, but finished the term with a soccer off the ground after pushing hard then doubling back once the ball went over his head. Took a great mark late in the game and kicked an easy consolation goal, finishing the match with three majors and strapping across his face from a blood nose.

#40 Jesse Clark

Not as prolific as his usual self, Clark was playing defensive roles on his opponents, spending time on players such as Zane Barzen in defence. He swallowed up anything that came his way, but the Bushrangers made a conscious effort to avoid him where possible given his prolific rebounding skills. He still managed to provide rebound out of defence and was strong overhead, just did not get it on a silver platter as much with the Bushrangers smarter kicking inside 50.

#46 Henry Walsh

Did not win much of the footy, but still competed in the ruck. Was beaten by the more experienced Ben Kelly, but applied good defensive pressure at ground level. Laid some strong tackles following up from his hitouts to nullify the ball at stoppages and had an impressive clearing punch at one stage in the third term at half-back.

 

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

His form this season is arguably the best of any 19 year-old tall and that continued on the weekend against inexperienced rucks. He not only gets the hitouts, but follows up with clearances and tackles, and most importantly is able to take the game on without being a liability. He has a quick few steps and can sidestep opponents but does not overdo it, and uses hands to draw an opponent and handball clear to a teammate. Along with his above average athletic traits, Kelly was able to manhandle his opponent in the third term, throwing him out of the way, grabbing the loose ball and getting his hands free to pass to a teammate. His second efforts were exemplified in the final term when he dropped an intercept mark he should have taken, but quickly followed up cleaning it up and handballing quickly to a teammate.

#5 Cam Wild

Just a workhorse. Wild finds the ball with ease on the inside or outside and he wins a lot of his touches from outrunning his opponents. His pressure at ground level is very good and he finds space to receive the ball on the flanks. In one instance in the second term, Wild won the ball at half-back, got it to the wing, ran past multiple teammates looking for the handball, was ignored, kept running, crumbed a forward stoppage and kicked a running goal. His opponent from the original play just could not go with him and because he ran so far, disrupted the opposition set-ups. He gets separation on his opponents and is a solid user of the ball.

#6 Will Chandler

Played the role of leading forward and did it well. Set up a goal to Hudson Kaak early in the game, and kicked one of his own. Kept working up the ground and winning the ball then sending it inside 50. Almost kicked a second goal earlier in the game but snapped and missed because he was being dragged down.

#7 Zane Barzen

The overager played one of his best games for the year, leading out at the footy and creating some headaches for the opposition defence. Kicked a goal in the second term with a snap around his body, then kicked a second major from a free kick set shot 35m straight in front in the third term. Had a couple more shots in the fourth quarter but one went to the left and just missed and the other went out to the right and fell short. Was strong overhead though which was a promising sign.

#12 Lachlan Ash

The potential top five pick stood out in this game with his class and ball use by hand or foot. He took the game on when in defence, and in the second half spent time up forward and through the midfield. He has an ability to produce the unbelievable by foot, kicking across his body between opponents to hit up a teammate inboard and open up the corridor. Got a free kick for being infringed in a marking contest at one stage such was his impact in the air. Kicked a goal off the ground just before three quarter time, and narrowly missed a set shot which drifted to the right in the fourth term. Not as big statistical numbers as in the past, but played multiple roles rather than just his dominant half-back rebounding role.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Got better as the game went on and finished as one of the most prolific ball winners on the ground. You do not always notice his impact unless you are watching carefully because he fires out quick handballs to teammates while under pressure, able to work out time and space with good vision. Worked hard on the inside of the contest and then runs into space to provide an option. Did not have a heap of forward chances because of the inside work, which deserved a tick today.

 

Western Jets vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#3 Eddie Ford

The explosive bottom-ager has a good knack of getting involved up the ground from half-forward, and this game was no different as Ford worked hard to win 10 marks around the ground among his 20 disposals. He constantly looked to move the ball on, but Ford was often held up on the mark which saw him resort to handing off to runners or kicking short. While he called for the ball in odd areas at times in the defensive half, it only showed Ford’s want for the ball and his good work rate. Took a strong mark on the line against two Stingrays opponents to turn a certain behind into his first goal, while adding another in the final term to cap off a solid day. Is so clean overhead and below his knees, definitely one to watch going into 2020.

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was named the Jets’ best, and showed a greater contested output with almost 60 per cent of his 17 disposals won in the contest. Attending most of the centre bounces and stoppages across the day, Andrews won a handful of clearances and pushed Western forward as he usually does, pitching in with a classy goal after side-stepping Dandenong gun, Hayden Young. Andrews’ kicking was clearly impacted by his high contested ball rate, but he was much more productive by hand and flicked it out well to teammates in the clinches. Would be pushing for mid-season draft selection, but still has areas to improve on.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar assumed his usual role across half back, acting as a designated kicker on the rebound and accumulating the ball well across defensive 50. He affected the drop of the centre bounces when running in hard off the back flank, and often positioned himself a kick off the ball when it was further afield. Cassar looked a little unsure of whether to stick with his opponent or guard territory in those situations, but is clearly building into the new role. Was caught holding the ball in the first term, but that did not stop him from breaking the lines going forward and taking the game on as the Jets looked to stay in the game. Cassar is a natural player and also looks comfortable forward, but can sharpen his defensive acts – highlighted by his marking attempt from behind inside defensive 50, and his low tackle count. A solid outing, and finished with a game-high 29 disposals.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey was down on his usual output in this game, but came into it with a couple of neat touches. While he struggled to generate his usual running game, Honey’s presence came in the form of five clearances and some good defensive pressure throughout, which led to a Dandenong turnover early on. Honey also moved forward in the second half and while he showed promise with a nice mark inside 50, could not quite find the goals in his time there.

#47 Will Kennedy

The over-ager has shown good promise in the ruck after moving from Sandringham, and continues to improve in his work around the ground. As a slightly more mature body, Kennedy competes well in the ruck and won 22 hitouts, but impressed more with his work at the drop to find a good amount of the ball and lay some hard tackles. A particular highlight came in the first quarter where Kennedy followed up a dropped mark to effect a smother inside 50 and keep the ball in dispute.

 

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young was his usual self across half-back, racking up a team-high 27 disposals as well as an equal game-high seven rebound 50s and five inside 50s. Ever the damaging player, Young kicked 77 per cent of the time at 76 per cent efficiency, but fell short with a few lower-distance passes by foot. Young mopped up well in the defensive half, using his clean hands to gather at ground level and quickly dispose of the ball to good effect. Young was also given the freedom to push forward well in a high Dandenong press, and had to opportunity to hit the scoreboard with a set shot early on. A contribution we have come to expect, but still always impressive.

#10 Clayton Gay

The exciting bottom-ager mixed his time between a deep forward position and up on the wing, but looked most dangerous inside 50. Kept Cassar accountable in the forward half early on and even caught him holding the ball with a terrific tackle, while later contributing a major on the back of a contested mark in the goalsquare. Looked to take it on when playing up the field, and while he is not a high accumulator, always garners attention when on the ball. One to watch for next year.

#11 Ned Cahill

One who continues to rise in my eyes, Cahill returned another eye-catching display in this game. Positioned mostly inside 50, Cahill was isolated against his Western opponent and out-worked him to find space around goals – kicking two majors in dispute during the first quarter and another couple from set shots in the last. It proved good reward for effort given Cahill’s ability to find space, and he could well have finished with a couple more goals to make it a true day out. The way Cahill plays taller than his height would suggest makes him a versatile threat inside 50, and he is certainly one who will look to prove himself further in the National Championships.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Over-ager Riordan has built a good case to be picked up in the mid-season draft after an interrupted top-age year, and was damaging from stoppages around the ground in this outing. Riordan’s run from congestion was great to watch, with an explosive first five steps allowing him to break forward quickly and dispose of the ball effectively in more space, while also flicking out handballs well. Repeat efforts in-close helped him tally his 25 disposals, including five clearances, but Riordan also contributed well in handball chains – using his pace to good effect.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning switched roles in this game with fellow tall, Nyuon, trading his time between the forward line and ruck to prove his versatility and get a different look. He started one-out in the goalsquare, but caught the eye more with his leap in the ruck early on. Took a couple of handy marks leading up to the ball, but missed early chances on goal which he later rectified with a sole major. Looks to still be learning and refining all areas of his game, and has a good athletic base.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

Nyuon was thrown back, where he played a lot of football for the Stingrays last season. Opposed to man-mountain Aaron Clarke at times, the St Kilda NGA prospect was competitive in overhead contests and followed up well at ground level to provide calm use out of defensive 50. Made a nice run forward after a clean sweep of the ball on his defensive arc, getting it back at the opposite 50 to deliver inside. Can dominate games if he can continue to snap up big marks, but is still improving at both ends.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Was by no means a high accumulator, but Williams looked lively whenever he got on the ball. Moves forward so well from the wing and is an aggressive runner, which was encapsulated well by his second-quarter goal on the fly after a running bounce. Also took a nice overhead mark early on which caught the eye, and could have added another goal in the last term.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The bottom-ager was best-afield in a busy outing on the wing, earning him the Draft Central Player of the Week nod. While he was most influential in the first and last quarters, Conforti worked hard all day on the outside to provide a releasing option along the outer of Queen Elizabeth Oval, finding a heap of space time after time. Prepare for the inevitable Caleb Daniel comparisons, as the diminutive left footer oozes class with neat kicks and is hard at it in the contest with a low centre of gravity. He looks a much better kick on the run, using his vision and smarts to find targets others cannot – much like in the second term where he hit up James Schischka for a goal with a clever 90-degree kick. Impressed with a couple of overhead intercept marks in the final term, and finished off his day with a nice goal after sidestepping his opponent.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme started a little shakily but found his feet as the game wore on. He accumulated well, usually on the opposite wing to Conforti, and was smart in his positioning when the ball was set to come out of his side’s forward 50 – intercepting from two occasions, with one resulting in a missed shot on goal. Was let down somewhat by a combination of his decision making and execution, but had the right idea as he often looked to go inside with his kicks in particular. A solid outing.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka was a solid contributor, and looked a decent marking threat when played inside forward 50. On top of converting two set shot goals in his time forward, Schischka’s best moments came in traffic where he would often shrug off opponents and keep his head in crises with handballs out to receivers. Moved into the midfield late on, but found his second major after an impressive overhead mark in the goalsquare from a set shot which fell short, putting the Pioneers in front.

 

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

It was an indifferent display from Davis, who was a constant at the stoppages. While he tackled ferociously and was solid in the clinches, many of his kicks were hacked forward and he looked rushed in possession at times. One of his better kicks found Cohen Stephenson inside 50 to give him a set shot chance, and Davis even hit the scoreboard with a clutch free kick conversion to snatch back the lead in the final term. Can polish up areas of his game, but has a good physical base and finds the ball.

#13 Sam Collins

Played the role of sweeper in the back half well, mopping up cleanly and providing efficient rebound when given time. While many of his short kicks were effective, Collins was another who missed a couple on the back of acts under pressure – with one cross-goal ball almost leading to a turnover goal. Looked much better in space with handball receives, and certainly has potential.

#25 Jackson Callow

Arguably Tasmania’s leading bottom-age prospect, Callow mixed his time up forward and through the ruck, competing well in both areas. Almost made an ideal start when he won a contested ball at ground level deep inside 50, but dribbled to an opponent in the goalsquare. Callow’s lead up marking to the 50 and clunks overhead were a feature, with the big-man often wheeling around quickly to deliver forward. While he did not quite find the goals himself, a spearing ball to Jye Menzie gifted his side one, and Callow played an important overall role for the Devils.

#31 Jye Menzie

Menzie ended up being the hero of the day, converting a set shot after the siren to give Tasmania a miraculous win. While he was quiet early on, Menzie came into the game in the second term when he won a free kick one-out, putting through the resultant set shot. Booted another in the third quarter and crucially contributed two more in the final term, with a shimmy giving him his third and the game-winner his fourth. Finds space inside 50 well and looks most dangerous there, proving to be a clinical finisher when given the opportunity.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Northern Knights
By: Cameron Ross

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

Really like him. He is lightning quick and damaging off half back. Question marks over his kicking, but he is dangerous enough with the handball to be effective. Rebels clued onto how damaging he was when receiving handballs, and marked him tightly, but still was a positive influence on the game, and one of the best Knights on the day.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Copped a whack in the face in the second quarter, but it didn’t stop him. Very clean, and was really damaging across the half forward line where he was consistently hitting up leading forwards for scoring opportunities. Really smart player, who was rarely beaten at ground level and was crucial in the Knights’ second half dominance.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

The young defender was another who was very reliable all game, and even snuck forward for a long goal on the run in the final term. Seems to be a very nice size, and has enough pace that he could play on the smalls as well. I’m not sure if he had a direct opponent or not all game, as he seemed to easily find a lot of the ball.

 

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Kicked three nice goals, and was a presence in the air and around the all game. Took a really nice mark up forward, after floating in from the side and crashing the pack, and topping it off with a goal.

#8 James Cleaver

Very reliable down back, and I’m not sure he was beaten one on one all game. Took a couple of nice intercept marks, and limited McMahon to only the one major.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a couple of very flashy moments. Made a defender look foolish with clever side step, and drilled a shot at goal that just missed. Quiet through patches but others were quieter. Left the game late with a calf injury, hopefully cramp?

#13 Jay Rantall

Best player on the ground. Key in the Rebels moving the ball effectively out of the backline and midfield and one of the few players who wanted to take the game on and make the play instead of just kicking to a pack. His link up run and intelligent handballing were extremely impressive, and broke the game open. Good overhead, good below his knees, and hit most of his targets on the day. 10/10 game.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The zippy midfielder continued his strong form, finishing with a team-high 28 disposals and five inside 50s. Byrnes trademark explosive burst out of the stoppage was on show all day, easily manoeuvring his way past his Eastern opponents and driving the ball long inside 50. Used the ball well when others let themselves down in this department and never stopped trying. Byrnes looks a well-rounded prospect, who covers the ground well and is adept at winning the ball from the inside of the contest and utilising his speed to run and carry the ball. Overall was outstanding for the Dragons and was just about their best player.

#6 Miles Bergman

The big-bodied midfielder was solid for the Dragons, using his strength and frame to win the ball in the clinches. Had a quiet first half with only six touches but worked well into the game, finishing with 18 disposals, five marks, and a goal. Used the ball well and his first reaction to hit a target inside the corridor on show all day, with a number of his kicks hitting up a teammate in space. Worked hard all day and improved as the game got tighter.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Starting on the wing, the top—ager showcased his signature class and polish but also his two-way running in another strong performance. Finishing with 27 disposals and nine marks, perhaps the most telling stats for Hanrahan was his four rebounds and six inside 50s, highlighting a willingness to work both ways for the Dragons. Kicked a show-stopping goal on his opposite foot from the boundary and would’ve had a day out had he taken two opportunities running into the goals in the second and last quarters. Was a class above in the first half and was the leading disposal winner at the main break but drifted out early in the 4th when the game was in the balance. Sound performance from the wingman and is building a strong case to be selected in the mid-season/end of season draft.

#28 Riley Bowman

The athletic ruck-forward was solid for the dragons, amassing 18 hitouts to go with 15 disposals and three inside 50s. Had a quiet first quarter but lifted from then on, which included a chase down tackle in the Dragons forward 50 that resulted in a shot on goal. Moves well around the ground and hits the contest hard, both in the air and on the ground. Was sometimes out-muscled by the bigger Riley Smith in the ruck but overall probably had more influence on the game around the ground than his Eastern opponent.

#30 Andrew Courtney

Courtney had a solid day down back for the Dragons with a multitude of spoils and one—percenters that often halved or won 50-50 contests. Only had 8 disposals and was used around the ground with 11 hitouts in the ruck and a stint up forward, Courtney was thrown around the ground which may have hurt his impact. The 200cm prospect needs to improve his disposal numbers and could have more influence in the air if he got both hands to the ball rather than opting for the safety of a spoil. positions himself well in defence and engages his opponent early, using his strong frame to move them under the ball then bringing it to ground.

#32 Jack Bell

The ruck-forward was workmanlike for the Dragons, generating a goal from 13 disposals, eight hitouts, and seven marks. Had a strong first half before dropping away with only three disposals in the second half but the skinny prospect did some nice things, taking some strong contested marks. Often let himself down by playing on and being tackled and needs to work on being quicker with ball in hand, often taking too long to give off a handball or a kick. Was a good performance from the agile prospect.

#33 Corey Watts

The close-checking key defender was serviceable again for Sandringham, having more effect as the game wore on. Shows desperation in defense, often coming off his direct opponent to influence the contest but needs to do more, not having a touch in the first half. Finished with 11 disposals and four rebounds and showed he has the capabilities to become an aerial threat, taking two big pack marks late in the fourth quarter and driving the ball long out of the Dragons defense. if he can do this more consistently then Watts will become a stronger asset to the Dragons defense.

#43 Jake Bowey

The red-haired midfielder was productive for the Dragons, showcasing his elite speed and evasiveness across the whole game. Failed to hit the scoreboard but played predominantly on the wing, finishing with 23 disposals. Was often tackled and thrown around due to his small stature but did some eye-catching things, including leaping for a huge mark and following up to earn a free kick. Produces fantastic repeat efforts and has a large pressure factor. Is smart with ball in hand and uses it effectively on his left boot, the bottom-ager is one to watch out for.

 

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Stapleton was huge for the Ranges, winning 23 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal. Had the ball on a string for the second half and led the Rangers to victory, kicking a clutch goal in the third term from about 45 metres out on a tough angle and on the wrong side for a left footer. Works tirelessly on the inside and spreads hard on the outside. Didn’t put a foot wrong all day and was a huge reason for the Ranges win.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

The power forward was strong target all day for Eastern, clunking eight marks to go along with 15 disposals. Did not hit the scoreboard (one behind) and did cough up a few kicks inside 50 but tried hard and set up a Connor Downie goal that ended up being the match winner.

#17 Cody Hirst

The smart wingman ran hard all day, with most of his 31 disposals being won in the Eastern back half (six rebounds). The impressive midfielder possesses clean hands and skills, always finding a target by foot even when there seemingly is no option. On a day where most players opted to kick it long down the line or bomb it inside 50, Hirst’s clever ball use stood out. Covers the ground with ease and loves to take a bounce. Hirst had a huge last quarter and willed his team over the line.

#18 Billy McCormack

The mobile tall forward started the game strongly, kicking a goal off the ground after halving an aerial contest, bringing the ball to ground and beating two Dragons defenders. Has an accurate field kick and was a good lead up target out of defence and in attack. On a day where key forwards struggled McCormack was solid, rounding out his day with 1.2 from 12 disposals.

#20 Connor Downie

The smart bottom ager had his best game for the year, with his match-winning goal capping off a 25-disposal, seven-inside-50 and six-mark effort. Was consistently strong all day, combining with Hirst on the wing to provide rebound off the half back line and efficient use inside 50. Very clean under pressure and rarely fumbles, Downie ran hard all day and was a headache later in the piece for the Dragons, who struggled to contain Eastern’s outside midfielders.

#21 James Ross

The general in defence, Ross was prolific for the Rangers, intercepting multiple Dragons inside 50’s with his strong hands, and providing damaging rebound. Capped off a sound performance with 24 disposals, nine marks, and nine rebounds to be the best defender on the ground. Set up the Rangers defensive structures and was consistent throughout, often playing as the loose man. In the Rangers top few players.

#49 Riley Smith

The 199cm ruckman had a tough day. With the Dragons rotating Bell, Courtney, and Bowman in the middle, Smith shouldered the majority of the ruck duty for Eastern, capping off a strong performance with 10 disposals and 23 hitouts. Used his bigger and more developed frame to outmuscle opponents and the Eastern midfielders lifted in the second half thanks to Smith’s solid tap-work.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders was one of Gippsland’s best on the day, playing in the forward half and having a crucial role in extracting the ball from stoppages and pumping it inside 50. He took a great one-on-one mark in front of goal in the first term and booted a goal from the set shot. Flanders took a number of marks when leading outside of the forward 50, missing a shot later in the game, but was a consistent four quarter performance.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi continued his strong form this season since returning from injury with some hard running throughout the match. He often teamed up with Fraser Phillips when kicking inside 50, giving him a number of score assists, including a late goal. One trait that was noticeable with Baldi was his lightning quick hands, able to scoop the ball off the deck with one-touch and handball to a teammate running past without his teammate breaking stride. Had a couple of shots on goal but finished with two behinds.

#10 Leo Connolly

Had a few nice passages of play along the wing, creating run out of defence, often picking up the loose ball and kicking down the line. His kicking was neat and smart throughout the game, and he spread into space taking plenty of marks while being the outside mover to complement Gippsland’s array of inside bulls.

#12 Brock Smith

Another super performance from the defender who patrolled the backline and gobbled up everything that came his way in the first term as despite Calder having double the inside 50s. Smith’s remarkable first team saw him have 14 disposals and five marks, more than half of his total touches by the end of the game. While the Cannons used the ball better after quarter time, Smith still remained involved in the contest, showing good closing speed opposed to Josh Kemp, laying a great tackle to nullify the contest. Also loved the argy bargy with a few things to say to Kemp on the wing after being tackled. Another highlight came late in the third term with a long-range goal which got the team up and about.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Played his usual game through the middle, roaming between the arcs and getting free to win plenty of the ball in space. He also went in when he had to winning his fair share of his own ball, while getting the ball forward to advantage. He spread well and broke up play using sharp, short kicks.

#16 Josh Smith

Had a big start to the day, booting two goals in the opening term despite copping a knock to the face. Shared the ruck load with Charlie Comben and while he was quieter after quarter time, still had a number of inside 50s to put pressure on the opposition defence.

#17 Charlie Comben

The big man had a consistent four quarter effort playing through the ruck, leading up at the football when in attack, getting back and assisting his defence when in the back half, and winning his fair share of hitouts through the middle. He had a set shot in the second term but his shot fell short in the goalsquare. Comben showed good defensive pressure for a tall, laying some fierce tackles on opponents. Promising signs.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Kicked four goals for the game, including two in the final term – one coming after the siren. He had another chance from a snap tight on the boundary but missed, and then gave one off to a teammate instead of having a shot. Played almost exclusively inside 50 in the match and provided the Power with a target throughout the game. Has that excitement factor about him.

 

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was his industrious self on the weekend, playing an inside role at stoppages and along with Jacob Martin, was one of only two players to reach double-figure contested possessions. He was not able to get the time and space he normally would and thus resulted in some rushed kicks. Nonetheless he was one of Calder’s best, extracting from the stoppages and pumping the ball long, then dropping back in defence and getting it clear from the danger.

#5 Curtis Brown

Kicked Calder’s first goal in the second term after winning a free and launching a set shot from outside 50, easily making the distance. Had some nice touches at half-forward, using the ball neatly and trying to get the ball moving in the Cannons’ favour.

#30 Josh Kemp

Had a few good moments in the first half including an intercept mark at half-forward and showed clean hands leading up at the football and was clean with his disposal off the bounce. Received a 50m penalty in the third term and kicked the Cannons’ only goal of the quarter, but otherwise was quiet in the second half.

#38 Brodie Newman

A quieter game compared to his recent form, but Newman still won his fair share of touches in the back half. His work rate and on-field leadership were noticeable, running well off half-back and intercepting a number of early Gippsland forward thrusts. Tried to keep his side alive and the ball moving. Had a team-high seven rebounds and was the key general back there.

NAB League Boys wash-up: Round 7 – Ranges prove their top four credentials

A BUMPER weekend of NAB League action saw the Eastern Ranges stamp their authority in a top-four clash, while Dandenong continues to lead all-comers and Gippsland powered into third. With thrillers and blow-outs making up a mixed bag of results, here is the Round 7 wash-up.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.3 | 5.7 | 8.7 | 10.11 (71)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.1 | 6.3 | 11.4 | 14.8 (92)

GOALS:
Geelong: O. Henry 3, C. Karpala 2, T. Richardson 2, C. Seymour, K. Rayner, C. Brauer.
Murray: H. Kaak 5, Z. Barzen 2, D. Clarke 2, C. Wild, E. Baxter, K. Chalcraft, L. Ash, W. Chandler.

BEST:
Geelong:
C. Brauer, J. Clark, S. Ham, O. Henry, K. Rayner, L. Smith
Murray: C. Wild, J. Chalcraft, H. Kaak, K. Chalcraft, B. Kelly, T. Matthes

By: Peter Williams

Red-time goals in the first three terms helped the Murray Bushrangers record their second win of the season, overcoming a determined Geelong Falcons outfit by 21 points at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Falcons looked on top early in each of the terms, taking leads, before Murray struck late, particularly in the second and third terms, where they booted the last seven goals of the second and third quarters (three last in quarter two and four last in quarter three) to remarkably head into the breaks in front. Trailing by 16 points with three and a half minutes remaining in the second term, it looked like Murray would head into the change rooms pondering how to step up their game. But three goals in as many minutes left the visiting crowd stunned and excited at the same time as they took a two-point lead into half-time. In the third term, Geelong came out firing booting three of the first four goals, and when Oliver Henry split the big sticks, Geelong had a nine-point advantage. Murray piled on four goals in the last seven and a half minutes to not only hit the front, but head into the last break with a 15-point lead. A three goals to two final term saw the Bushrangers secure the win, 14.8 (92) to 10.11 (71). Cam Wild was again the top disposal winner with 27, using his hard running to work his way along the wings, also booting a goal after running from half-back winning a touch and finishing off nicely. Jye Chalcraft relished his inside role with 26 disposals and eight clearances, while Dylan Clarke had 23 disposals, six clearances and five inside 50s. Up forward, Hudson Kaak had a day out leading from the square, booting five majors from 15 disposals and seven marks. For Geelong, Charlie Harris worked hard for 21 touches, five marks, three clearances and five tackles, while Chas Karpala laid a game-high 11 tackles to go with his 20 disposals and two goals. Henry was also prolific up forward, snagging three goals from 16 disposals and seven marks working up the ground, while Sheldon Ham had 17 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and six tackles in the loss.

 

WESTERN JETS 2.4 | 4.5 | 5.10 | 6.10 (46)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 4.4 | 7.9 | 9.10 | 16.13 (109)

GOALS:
Western: E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, J. Horo, D. Andrews , A. Manton
Dandenong: E. Cahill 4, L. Williams 2, D. Popa 2, J. Neal, C. Ellison, K. George, M. Gregory, C. Gay, M. Haywood, S. De Koning, J. Toner

BEST:
Western:
D. Andrews , W. Kennedy, E. Ford, J. Horo, N. Reynolds, D. Cassar
Dandenong: R. Orchard, E. Cahill, H. Young, B. Schmidt, M. Riordan, S. De Koning

By: Michael Alvaro

Dandenong Stingrays sit atop the NAB League ladder for a second-consecutive week, stamping their authority with a 63-point win over the Western Jets. Despite leading from the twelfth minute-mark and having the better of general play, the reigning premiers were kept within striking distance by a combative Jets unit, holding an 11-point lead at the main break. With the margin stretched slowly to an even four goals at three-quarter time, it was all Dandenong in the last as they piled on seven majors to cruise home to victory. The Stingrays had stars on each line, with Ned Cahill (19 disposals, six marks, 4.2) electric up forward, Hayden Young (26 disposals, seven rebound 50s) making the play down back, and midfielder Mitch Riordan (25 disposals, five clearances) dominant at the stoppages to put his hand up for mid-season draft selection. With Reece Orchard (13 disposals, nine tackles) named best for the ‘Rays, Daly Andrews (17 disposals, seven tackles, six clearances) earned the same honour for Western and showcased an improved inside game. Darcy Cassar was again the Jets’ leading ball-winner with a game-high 29 disposals, while dynamic bottom-ager Eddie Ford was dangerous in the forward half with 20 disposals, 10 marks and 2.1. While the Jets sit inside the top eight at 3-3, Dandenong’s undefeated record remains in tact on the back of their fourth-consecutive victory. Both sides are set to travel next round, with Western away to Geelong, and Dandenong travelling down to Tasmania in an historic fixture.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS 0.1 | 3.4 | 6.6 | 11.8 (74)
TASMANIA DEVILS 3.5 | 4.5 | 7.9 | 11.10 (76)

GOALS:
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 2, J. Schischka 2, S. Conforti 2, J. Dick-O’Flaherty 2, J. Hickman, B. Vaz, R. Clarke
Tasmania: J. Menzie 4, R. Mansell 2, B. Gordon, O. Davis, C. Stephenson, I. Chugg

BEST:
Bendigo:
S. Conforti, W. Wallace, S. O’Farrell, J. Treacy, J. Hickman, J. Ginnivan
Tasmania: J. Steele, J. Menzie, R. Mansell, L. Viney, E. Jackson, B. Gordon

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils got up in a thriller in Sunday’s first fixture, edging the Bendigo Pioneers by two points at Queen Elizabeth Oval. While the scoreboard tells a story of the travelling side leading at every break on the way to their win, the Devils relinquished a game-long lead at the 15-minute mark of the final term on the back of three-straight Bendigo goals, only to snatch it back twice – with Jye Menzie kicking truly after the siren to enact the final and telling lead change. A fast start from Tasmania proved the difference, and some, with the Pioneers playing catch-up after giving up a 22-point quarter time deficit. Sam Conforti earned a Draft Central player of the week nomination and was named Bendigo’s best for his game-high 30 disposals and two goals, with William Wallace (16 disposals, seven marks, five rebound 50s) good from defence and Jack Ginnivan (27 disposals, two goals) also productive. Menzie was clinical in front of goal with 4.0 from 12 disposals, but Jake Steele (13 disposals, 17 hitouts) was named best for the Devils. Ben Simpson (22 disposals) was their leading ball-winner, while Ethan Jackson was not far behind with 21. Both sides are set to host next week, with Tasmania clashing with Dandenong in the Apple Isle, while Bendigo faces Sandringham in Echuca.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 3.5 | 10.7 | 12.12 (84)
CALDER CANNONS 0.4 | 1.6 | 2.8 | 4.9 (33)

GOALS:
Gippsland: F. Phillips 4, T. Baldi 2, J. Smith 2, H. Pepper, S. Flanders, B. Smith, M. McGannon.
Calder: J. Cardillo, C. Brown, J. Hotchkin, J. Kemp.

BEST:
Gippsland:
S. Flanders, B. Smith, R. Baldi, F. Phillips, J. Smith, T. Baldi
Calder: J. Martin, D. Mott, N. Gentile, F. O”Neill, J. Hotchkin, C. Brown

By: Peter Williams

An impressive seven goals to one third term set Gippsland Power up for a big 51-point win over Calder Cannons at Morwell Recreation Reserve on Sunday. In overcast conditions with a strong wind, Gippsland played to the home ground advantage perfectly, booting the first three goals of the game, before a Curtis Brown long bomb in the second term finally broke the Cannons’ drought. Having not conjured up a goal in the second quarter and leading by just 11 points at the main break, Gippsland decided to up the ante, piling on seven goals in the term, with only a 50m penalty and subsequent goal from the square to Josh Kemp being the Cannons’ only saving grace in the quarter. The last quarter was similar to the first two in the sense it was mostly defensive and inaccurate as the Power booted 2.5 to 2.1, as Fraser Phillips booted a couple of late goals to help Gippsland to a 12.12 (84) to 4.9 (33) victory. Phillips was impressive up forward with four goals from 12 touches and four marks, but captain Brock Smith was superb with 28 disposals, seven marks, two tackles, six rebounds and a team-lifting goal from outside 50 in the third term. Sam Flanders was just as good around the ground, having 24 touches, four marks, five clearances, five inside 50s, five tackles and booting a goal, while Riley Baldi continued his great form with 26 disposals, six marks, five clearances and three inside 50s. He also booted two behinds, not as accurate as his brother who made his two scoring shots count, booting two majors as well as 12 disposals, four marks and six tackles. For the Cannons, Jacob Martin had another big day out with 33 disposals, 10 clearances, seven marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds, while Daniel Mott picked up 25 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds. Ned Gentile (16 disposals, six marks and three tackles), Fergus O’Neill (15 disposals, five marks and four tackles) and Josh Hotchkin (29 hitouts and a goal from six touches) were all named among the best for Calder in the loss.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 3.3 | 6.4 | 7.7 | 9.8 (62)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.3 | 5.4 | 9.8 | 14.10 (94)

GOALS:
GWV: T. Mahony 3, I. Grant 2, M. Martin 2, I. Thomas, J. Rantall
Northern: S. Brazier 3, S. Philp 2, B. Nikolovski 2, L. Potter, B. Major, Z. Costello, C. Barbera, J. D’Intinosante, L. Mcmahon, K. Davies

BEST:
GWV:
J. Rantall, J. Wright, T. Mahony, M. Martin, J. Cleaver, J. Tillig
Northern: L. Potter, S. Philp, J. D’Intinosante, N. Howard, C. Barbera, C. Simonsen

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights turned a six-point half time deficit into a 32-point away win over the Greater Western Victoria Rebels to extend its victorious streak to three. While the Rebels got the better of the opening stages, the winners managed to stay within reach and struck after half time with over-ager Sunny Brazier central to the comeback with 2.1 in the third term. A five-goal final quarter sealed the win and a comfortable margin, with the Knights finding some form after a down opening month. Lachie Potter was again best-afield for the Knights with a damaging 16 disposals, while Ryan Sturgess sured up both ends with his team-high 26. Josh D’Intinosante also found the goals and plenty of the ball, with Sam Philp (19 disposals, two goals) returning to the side to good effect. Jay Rantall played a blinder for GWV, racking up 36 touches (seven clearances, six inside 50s) to be his side’s best. Toby Mahony and Jack Tillig had 20 touches each to be thereabouts, with the former also contributing three goals in a solid display. Mitch Martin was another ball-winner to hit the scoreboard with his two goals from 18 disposals, but the Knights midfielders were often given first use on the back of Nathan Howard‘s 28 hitouts. Both sides are set to play on neutral territory next week, with Northern playing Oakleigh and the Rebels facing Gippsland.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 4.2 | 4.7 | 6.9 | 6.10 (46)
EASTERN RANGES 3.2 | 4.4 | 6.5 | 8.7 (55)

GOALS:
Sandringham: K. Yorke 2, J. Cowden, M. Bergman, J. Bell, A. Hanrahan
Eastern: J. Tilly 2, L. Stapleton, B. McCormack, M. Brown, B. White, C. Downie, M. Zalac

BEST:
Sandringham:
M. Bergman, R. Byrnes, C. Watts, J. Bowey, J. Bell, T. Milne
Eastern: C. Hirst, L. Stapleton, J. Ross, J. Hourihan, J. Nathan, J. Rossiter

By: Joe Lee

Onlookers were treated to an enthralling contest down at RSEA Park, with finals aspirants Eastern Ranges grinding out a nine-point win against a gallant Sandringham Dragons. In a tough and uncompromising affair where polish and poise lacked, grit and determination made up for. With the margin at each break never being more than a goal, both teams fought out to the death, with the Ranges breaking away in the final minutes to record a clutch win. Sandringham led at every break and won the inside 50 count 53 to 44, but failed to capitalise on ample opportunities, often bombing the ball in long where it was intercepted by Jack Ross, who was outstanding for the Ranges. Whilst the Dragons midfield, led by Ryan Byrnes and Miles Bergman, seemingly won the clearance count, it was the Ranges outside midfielders Cody Hirst and Connor Downie who delivered the ball to the Ranges forwards with class. Eastern proved the stronger team for longer, willing themselves over the line with some classy use and heroic defensive acts, placing them in the upper echelon of the ladder, with Sandringham rueing missing some straight-forward opportunities that were missed.

NAB League Boys Round 7 preview: Top four clash headlines ladder-shaping weekend

THE Northern Academies have come and gone in the NAB League, and proceedings will continue as normal for the remainder of the year as the ladder begins to take shape. A top four clash looms as the game of the weekend, with a host of bottom-half sides set to jostle for position in an important round of action.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Fresh off their first NAB League season win, the Geelong Falcons will be hoping for more of the same when they host Murray Bushrangers in Avalon. While both teams can only lay claim to one win thus far, Geelong sits a ladder spot above its weekend opponents having also picked up a draw. Bad luck has also followed either side to this point, with close games going the way of their opposition more often than not – seeing their effort and ability to be competitive go unrewarded. The Falcons will also be without co-captain Cooper Stephens for most of the year, so need their brigade of small running midfielders to stand up once again, while Oliver Henry remains a target up forward. The Bushrangers welcome back some over-age depth in the likes of Ben Kelly, Zane Barzen, and Liam Fiore, looking primed to make a mid-season charge up the ladder. While this could be a good chance to start a winning run, the inexperienced Falcons have showed they are often competitive and can stay with sides around their level. Expect a good battle with a second win up for grabs.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 3:15pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The ladder-leading Dandenong Stingrays travel to Williamstown to do battle with Western Jets, looking to keep their undefeated record in tact. A draw against Geelong remains the only blemish in an otherwise perfect Stingrays season, with their last two wins after a Round 4 bye both coming by over 70 points. The 3-2 Jets will be wary of their weekend opponents’ form, but are on a good run themselves after winning two-consecutive games before enjoying their own bye last week. The bye round proved perfect timing for over-agers Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy, who put their hands up for mid-season draft selection in the Young Guns game and will be back in Western colours this week. In the same vein, Dandenong welcomes Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt back to a lineup which looks like it is really starting to click – with key position and smaller guns on each line. Equal form lines aside, the Stingrays will fancy their chances in this one, but a win may not come as easily as in their last two outings.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 12, 11:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Bendigo Pioneers and Tasmania Devils will both be looking to build on their two respective wins for the year when they clash at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Sunday’s first game. The ‘Pios have been unable to add to their impressive Round 1 and 2 wins, but only went down by a combined 21 points in their last two games despite losing a couple of key players to school football. Meanwhile, Tasmania has also gone down in its last two efforts, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to Oakleigh at home last week. The positive signs are there for the Devils though, with Mitch O’Neill the only Australian representative star not to return to the side since his showcase outing. Despite others returning, Matthew McGuiness, Joseph Chaplin, Nicholas Baker, and Tyler Penwright are all key outs this week, leaving the Devils without some key experience and class. With the ability to hang with Bendigo clearly there, the travelling side will hope the continued development of their players can see them snatch another set of four points. But with travel a factor and Bendigo looking to stick with the pack of teams on 12 points, it will prove no mean feat.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Gippsland Power will look to continue its surge up the NAB League ladder at home on Sunday, but Calder Cannons stand in the way of a possible third-consecutive win. The hosts have gotten the better of three results decided by under 10 points, with their only loss coming by just six against table-toppers, Dandenong. Calder is on a run of two-straight wins after its Round 4 loss to Tasmania, faring far more competitively despite being the worst-placed of three sides on 12 points. While the Power has only named an extended bench, Calder looks set to lose some back-six class this week – with Sam Ramsay and Mason Fletcher out. Despite that, over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp should prove key ins for a Cannons side looking to compete with a formidable Gippsland outfit. With Sam Flanders kicking into gear, Riley Baldi returning well from injury, and skipper Brock Smith nominated for the Round 6 Draft Central Player of the Week, the Power should soon consolidate themselves as a genuine premiership contender.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

A third win is up for grabs for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Northern Knights as they clash in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon. Despite boasting equal wins, the Rebels have a far greater percentage than the Knights having won by 55 points over the Northern Territory Academy and their biggest loss coming by 14 points. Northern’s two victories have come in the last two weeks against Bendigo and the NT, with the Knights also breaking through for a season-high score of 98 (their next-best is 73). Some over-age and bottom-age inclusions for the Knights will aid their cause, with Sunny Brazier, Ollie Simpson, Nikolas Cox, and Ben Major returning to the side alongside top-age midfield ace, Sam Philp. Over-age talent also returns for the home side, as Jed Hill, James Cleaver, and Matty Lloyd have all been named. With the sides’ collective wins coming against bottom-half opponents, both will see this game as an opportunity for more of the same as the ladder starts to take shape. Northern should also be breathing fire after last year’s Wildcard Round thrashing at the hands of their weekend opponents, so expect a hot contest.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 2:00pm
RSEA Park

Arguably the game of the round will be played out in Moorabbin, with Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges set to do battle in a top four clash. Having been knocked off top spot after a bye round, the Dragons will be looking to pick up from where they left off, winning by 97 points in their last outing. While the Ranges were beaten by a strong Gippsland side last time out, they have been a one of the competition’s more consistent teams, with their only other loss coming to a full-strength Oakleigh in Round 1. A strong array of talls remains in the Sandringham 22, with Ryan Byrnes the key man in midfield and Angus Hanrahan and Riley Bowman coming off a Young Guns outing. The likes of Cody Hirst and Riley Smith come back for Eastern, adding strength to their running and tall games respectively. With much of the Dragons’ threats coming in their 195cm-plus players, this will again be a tough test for an Eastern side stacked with smaller runners, despite a bigger forward line. A tight tussle should ensue, with one side looking to stamp its authority and the other keen to prove it is a genuine contender.

BYE: Oakleigh Chargers

NAB League Boys Round 6 preview: Academies set for final hit-out

THE Northern Academies will each go around for the final time in the NAB League ahead of National Championship commitments next month, while Sandringham and Western can enjoy byes in Round 6. Gippsland v Eastern firms as the game of the round as the Power eyes off a top four spot, with the Swans Academy looking to complete an undefeated stint.

TASMANIA DEVILS v OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday May 4, 11:30am
North Hobart Oval

Tenth and eleventh face off in Tasmania as the Devils host Oakleigh Chargers at North Hobart Oval with both sides looking for a third win. Oakleigh has suffered three-straight defeats on the back of having much of its side’s core stripped, with both wins coming in the opening two rounds. Co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams have remained amidst school football outs over the last two weeks, but over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney is a key omission this week on the back of being selected to play in the annual Young Guns fixture. Tasmania’s inclusions will also put a dent in the Chargers’ hopes of bouncing back, with Australian Under 17 representatives Jackson Callow, Sam Collins, and Oliver Davis all coming back into the side for this clash. While the Devils went down heavily last week after consecutive wins previously, they will stand a huge chance of causing an upset here with home ground advantage and a weakened Oakleigh side searching for form.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v GWS GIANTS ACADEMY
Saturday May 4, 12:00pm
Albury Sports Ground

With tenth and eleventh opening the round, thirteenth placed Murray Bushrangers hosts the fourteenth placed GWS Giants Academy as both sides search for a second win. The Giants were unlucky not to add to their sole victory as they went down by nine points to Gippsland last time out, but will be keen to finish up their NAB League commitments on a good note. Beating Murray in Albury will be no mean feat despite the Bushrangers’ 1-3 record, as the home side could well have been sporting an opposite record coming into the game after going down twice by under a goal. The return of Lachlan Ash will be a big boost for Murray, but they will be without talented over-agers Ben Kelly and Zane Barzen from last week’s side. The Giants will be without talent of their own as James Peatling exits the side, but will be buoyed by the inclusion of midfield bull, Tom Green. With the Division 2 prize out of the question for GWS, the result looms of greater important to Murray as it looks to mount a charge up the ladder through the mid-season period.

CALDER CANNONS v BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday May 4, 2:15pm
RAMS Arena

Calder and Bendigo are on the hunt for their third wins of the season, and both have the chance to do so as they face off at RAMS Arena on Saturday. While Bendigo are the second-best place team on eight points after a lightning start to the season, Calder is the worst-placed of the five teams with two wins, and sit twelfth. The Cannons will come into the clash with a better bout of confidence too, having won last week against Geelong – on the other hand, Bendigo has lost its last two games. While the Pioneers will again be without key men Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp, as well as Jacob Atley to the Young Guns game, there are no massive changes from the side that lost to Northern last week. Calder are much the same despite over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp being unavailable, with its over-age depth proving handy. The Cannons’ win last week would have them feeling good, but the quest for a second-straight will prove difficult against a Bendigo team looking to make up for a result missed in their previous effort.

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY v GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Sunday May 5, 10:15am
South Pine Sports Complex

Greater Western Victoria search for a second-straight win heads to the Sunshine State, as the Rebels take on Gold Coast Suns Academy to open Sunday’s Queensland double-header. The Rebels’ big win last week over Northern Territory saw them add to their Round 2 victory over Geelong, while the Suns suffered their first loss in a hefty defeat at the hands of Eastern. Despite the polar opposite form lines, this clash should prove to be a close one between the two top-eight sides, especially since the Rebels have competed in three games decided by under seven points. That competitiveness will have to well and truly be present though, with over-agers James Cleaver, Matt Lloyd, and Jed Hill all set to miss and test the Rebels’ midfield depth. While Dirk Koenan and Ryan Gilmore are out for the Suns, they have benefitted from being able to consistently field near-full strength sides throughout their four games, and this will be no different. With a chance to claim Division 2 honours still up for grabs on Gold Coast’s end, expect them to have a red hot crack to end their NAB League campaign.

GEELONG FALCONS v SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY
Sunday May 5, 12:00pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Geelong will hope to spoil Sydney Academy’s Division 2 title hopes and collect its first win when the two do battle on neutral ground in Sandringham. The Falcons have points on the board after their Round 3 draw with Dandenong, and have been competitive in one and seven point losses to suggest they can be competitive. Meanwhile, the Swans Academy has had no such trouble in its four games, winning all of them to sit third in the overall NAB League standings. A win would see the Swans clinch the Division 2 title as the best placed academy, with the added notch of going undefeated. With the likes of Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell back in after Australian representative action, the Swans stack up as formidable opponents. On the other hand, Geelong will be left with holes to fill at either end as Charlie Sprague and Sam Christensen report for Young Gun duties alongside Harry Stubbings, but the likes of Henry Walsh and Oliver Henry replenish the line-up. The Falcons will be breathing fire after letting one slip, and could throw a spanner in the works against much-fancied opponents.

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday May 5, 12:45pm
South Pine Sports Complex

A second win is on offer upon the Brisbane Lions Academy’s exit from the NAB League on Sunday when they welcome Dandenong Stingrays to the South Pine Sports Complex. The 1-4 Lions have suffered three-consecutive losses after beating GWS in Round 2, including a 97-point loss to Sandringham last week. The margin of defeat could have been far worse in that game though, and Brisbane will take the promise they showed in a four-goal to six second half into this bout. Dandenong had no such worries against its Metro opponent in Round 5, trouncing Oakleigh by 70 points to hold an undefeated 3-0-1 record and fourth place. While the Lions have made five changes, their lineup has seldom been disrupted and it showed in their two competitive outings against Eastern and Gold Coast. 2018 Academy skipper Cody Stackelberg returns after a stint in the NEAFL, but the Stingrays have made the most significant ins with Hayden Young and Cody Weightman included. Young could get a good run in the midfield with Mitch Riordan out and Jai Nanscawen following, setting up an exciting midfield battle against Brisbane’s ball winners. The Lions will want to finish well in front of a home crowd, and travel could well be a defining factor for the Stingrays.

GIPPSLAND POWER v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 5, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

In what looms as the game of the round, second-placed Eastern (4-1) travels to face a surging Gippsland Power side in Morwell. The Ranges have shown their solidity and evenness across the board in four-consecutive wins, toppling two metro sides and two academies. Gippsland has only put one foot wrong, losing narrowly to Dandenong in Round 2, but are otherwise building nicely to sit seventh as one of three 3-1 sides. Hopes of a third-consecutive win will be boosted by the inclusion of Sam Flanders, but in-form over-ager Kyle Dunkley comes out of the side as he readies for the Young Guns game. Cody Hirst, Joel Nathan, and Riley Smith are set to play in the same game alongside James Blanck, with the Ranges naming an extended bench to cover their losses. Eastern has been a somewhat of a surprise packet thus far, but Gippsland have a wealth of top-end talent that they will trust to stand up in what should be a tight tussle.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v NORTHERN TERRITORY
Sunday May 5, 2:00pm
Ikon Park

Northern Territory faces its last chance to come away with a NAB League win as it readies for battle against the Northern Knights at Ikon Park. The Knights finally got on the board last week with a come-from-behind win over Bendigo on Friday night, leaving their weekend opponents and Geelong as the only sides without a set of four points. While they have shown promise, NT’s narrowest losing margin was 44 points against the Gold Coast Suns academy in Round 2, with this the final time they can show their true worth on the NAB League stage. The Thunder forward line looks dangerous with leading prospect Malcolm Rosas Jr named alongside the likes of Beau O’Connell and big-man Matthew Cumming, with Ben Rioli also added to the mix this week. Ollie Simpson and Sunny Brazier come out of the winning Knights side from last week to fulfil Young Guns duties, with Ryan Gardner an important in – named in the midfield. Northern could see this fixture as an opportunity to get on a winning run after last week’s result, but Northern Territory should give it a good crack as some of their stars vie for a spot in the Allies squad.

Final Siren Podcast: Episode 9

IN a huge episode of Final Siren Podcast, host Matthew Cocks and Draft Central’s Peter Williams and Sophie Taylor chat all things NAB League. This week’s podcast has been split into two; you can listen to the podcasts on the links below or on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Overcast, PocketCasts or RadioPublic.

NAB League Girls:

* Round 8 review and Round 9 preview
* Interviews with Geelong Falcons’ Elise Vella, Mia Skinner and Lucy McEvoy

NAB League Boys:

* Calder Cannons’ Tye Browning and Josh Kemp interviews
* Analysis of Dandenong Stingrays’ win over Oakleigh Chargers
* Round 5 review and Round 6 preview

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 4

WITH the Country sides afforded a bye and Victorian trials played this weekend, the remaining Metropolitan NAB League sides faced an uphill battle against interstate rivals with depleted lineups. Still, there was a good amount of talent on show, so here are our opinion-based notes on players identified by talent managers as ones to watch, as well as strong performers on the day. The focus was primarily on the Academy sides ahead of the National Under 18 Championships.

Northern Knights 7.9 (51) defeated by GWS GIANTS Academy 10.17 (77)
Sandringham Dragons 12.11 (83) defeated by Sydney Swans Academy 16.9 (105)
Gold Coast SUNS Academy 14.11 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 3.6 (24)
Tasmania Devils 10.3 (63) defeated Calder Cannons 7.9 (51)
Brisbane Lions Academy 12.3 (75) defeated Eastern Ranges 13.8 (86)
Western Jets 18.24 (132) defeated Northern Territory Thunder 9.7 (61)

Academies:

GWS:

By: Cam Ross

#10 James Peatling

Clean and quick. Played well forward and in the midfield.

#17 Jeromy Lucas

Seems to be a natural footballer, with an ability to read the play better than others. Delightful use of his body in the third quarter created an impressive goal. Ended up with 28 possessions and 2 goals in a terrific all-round performance.

#25 Tom Green

Dominant performance from Green who was the best player on the field. He’s the prototypical modern-day midfielder. Built like an undersized ruckman, but wins contested possessions and can run all day. Green’s back to back clearances in the third resulted in goals and he “sold some candy” early in the fourth quarter, making his opponents crash into each other. Finished the game with 31 possessions, most of which were contested and numerous clearances. This was even more impressive considering he spent a lot of the game up forward.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Strong forward who kicked three goals. His marking and contesting up forward was important and gave the GWS boys a target for the entire game. Delahunty’s produced some pieces of play that weren’t rewarded on the stat sheet, such as in the third quarter, when he flew from 3-4 men deep to crash the pack and bring the ball to ground. This resulted in a goal for his side in an important stage of the match. He’s also a very nice kick of the ball as he a has a beautiful technique. One to watch for the future.

#28 Matt McGrory

Good performance from the wingman. Smart piece of play in the second quarter. McGrory was outnumbered on the Knights counter attack. Instead of the overcommitting to the ball carrier, he read that the Knights player would handball over the top, and intercepted, preventing a counter attack and a potential goal.

 

Sydney Swans:

By: Alex Gibson

#7 Braeden Campbell

Didn’t have a massive day on the stat sheet but was very noticeable when he had the ball. Playing as the ‘link up man’, Campbell was very exciting to watch and the Dragons could hardly lay a hand on the half forward. The bottom-ager finished with three goals and his craftiness was a serious problem for the Sandringham defence.

#9 Samuel Thorne

Thorne was consistent all day and looks to be a very natural footballer. He was clean by hand and made smart decisions finishing with two goals and 21 touches. The midfielder worked hard in and under the stoppage and even when Thorne didn’t have the ball was still pressuring the Sandringham midfielders with his four tackles.

#23 Errol Gulden

One to watch for 2020. Sandringham had no response to the silky bottom ager who collected 26 disposals in a best on ground performance. Kicking 2 goals from the wing, Gulden’s left foot was seriously damaging and was often the man trusted with kicking the ball inside 50 due to his ability to hit a target. Sydney may just have themselves another Heeney or Mills here.

#39 Josh Rayner

Was a rock in the Swans defence all day and the Dragons could not get it past him. The 193cm prospect’s ability to not only read the play, but to also take intercept marks was brilliant. Playing a crucial role in the Swans victory, the defender finished with six rebounds and his presence in the defensive 50 was immense.

 

Gold Coast:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Hewago Paul Oea

Hewago looked lively at half forward early in the game and then really hit his straps in the second quarter getting to go through the midfield and show off his clean ball use and speed, he had a nice bit of play late in the second quarter with a lovely pass inside 50 on his opposite foot to teammate Murtagh. Hewago had some scintillating passages of play where he showed of his speed and agility to get around opponents with ease and he kicked a very good opportunistic goal early in the third quarter. Hewago was always clean at ground level never fumbling and he has another great big of play dancing around some opponents and kicking a lovely pass inside 50 to a teammate.

#5 Connor Budarick

Budarick was a tough customer in the midfield often laying crunching tackles and winning the hard ball, he showed he wasn’t just a bull with a lovely kick inside 50 to teammate Gore and he himself kicked a lovely set shot goal in the first quarter. He once again hit Gore with a beautiful pass inside 50 in the third quarter where he was again a strong performer with his tackling and workrate. Budarick has claims as the best player on the ground winning plenty of the ball, tackling hard and also hitting the scoreboard for a very well rounded game.

#28 Ashton Crossley

Crossley was a consistent player through the midfield who was clean at the stoppages and used his solid frame to win the contested ball, he had a nice bit of play where he showed good hands at a stoppage handballing to a teammate who would fumble but Crossley would recover and lay a hard tackle on his opponent. Crossley worked tirelessly through the midfield both at the contest and on the outside willing to link up and be an option.

 

Brisbane:

By: Michael Alvaro

#11 Will Martyn

The Brisbane skipper really lifted from his output last week, racking up a monster 37 disposals and 12 marks. Trading time through the midfield and forward line, Martyn worked hard to find the ball around half back in the first half when the Lions were under the pump, and looked more composed in possession. Martyn made better decisions by foot and while a little shaky early on, executed a lot more cleanly to find options up the field. He found Darcy Marsh well inside 50 to gift him a goal after finding space, and is mixing well between his inside and outside game.

#12 Saxon Crozier

Crozier was again busy between the arcs, particularly in the back half. While he was a touch fumbly with the ball in dispute, Crozier is clever with ball in hand and usually receives it in space with marks. A key link in the chain going forward, Crozier finished with a handy 24 disposals.

#13 Blake Coleman

The crafty forward had a phenomenal third term where he booted three of his four-straight majors. His first goal came in the opening quarter with a good collect below his knees and quick snap to find the big sticks, and he almost found a second later on as his dribbled shot fell short. He kicked his second and third goals on the run with tidy finishes from Wischnat assists, but his highlight of the game came with a big pack mark from the back deep inside forward 50, which he played on from to kick his fourth goal. An excitement machine and classy finisher, Coleman is certainly a natural footballer.

#19 Tom Griffiths

Griffiths had a couple of nervy moments early, flying for the same ball as a teammate inside defensive 50, but built into the game well. Used mainly off half-back, Griffiths rebounded well and used clever kicks in tight spaces to manipulate the ball into good areas for his teammates. Made a particularly good find in the third term with a kick inboard, and ended with four rebound 50s from his 21 disposals.

#21 Noah Cumberland

Cumberland’s tussle with his headband was just about the most trouble he found himself in all day, as he put in a solid 15 disposal and three-goal shift up forward. He made a good read from a forward 50 stoppage to snap the Lions’ first goal in the opening term, while also setting one up for Wischnat not long after. Read the ball well again for his second goal out the back in the next quarter, and booted his third with an unreal torpedo in traffic to ensure he had a goal in each of the first three terms. Has good pace and applies pressure well when pushing up the ground.

#38 Tom Wischnat

One of the Lions’ best throughout the day, Wischnat was a real presence through the midfield and particularly up forward. The academy prospect used his big frame well on so many instances to set up goal scoring opportunities, with two coming in the third quarter to release Coleman into space for back-to-back goals. He found the goals himself with a 40-metre set shot conversion early on and 35-metre one in the final quarter, but his best goal came in the third term as he slipped a would-be tackler with strength and snapped truly. He has an unconventional kicking action and sometimes rushes when going forward, which may have hampered his two missed attempts on goal in the final term – one of which came after an impressive 1v2 mark in the goalsquare, which was costly.

 

Tasmania:

By: Scott Dougan

#1 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill had a very quiet opening term but was able to redeem himself in the second term. He won some important centre clearances for his team and was dangerous around stoppages. He also displayed his ability to win the ball on both the inside and outside of the contest.

#4 Will Peppin

Peppin did not have a massive game stat-wise, but when he was around the ball, he was able to make something happen. He was lively up forward, especially in the second term when he was able to kick Tasmania’s fourth goal of the quarter in the twentieth minute. He showcased a variety of handy attributes on the day, such as speed, athleticism, and cleanliness at ground level.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness was fantastic across half-back. He gathered plenty of disposals and used the ball extremely well on both feet. Throughout the match, McGuinness showed that he was can read the play to perfection, with the athletic utility accumulating plenty of intercept possessions and marks.

#22 Nicholas Baker

Along with plenty of his teammates in defence, Baker was rock-solid. He was able to apply some defensive spoils, but also provided some run and carry out of the defensive 50 when needed. I was also impressed with his attack on the ball, along with his defensive pressure and tackling. Baker had 22 disposals and five marks. A very solid outing.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow was kept fairly quiet in the first term but was able to bounce back in the second. He took some nice marks on the lead in the forward half and due to his sticky hands, he was able to hold the majority of them. Callow’s third term was just unbelievable, with the bottom-aged big man taking four contested marks and booting three goals. In the end, Callow was the difference between the two sides and is definitely a very exciting prospect to keep a close eye on in his draft year.

 

Northern Territory:

By: Brandon Hutchinson

#2 Tyson Woods

Woods is class personified. The electrifying small forward seemed impossible to contain at the goal face, zipping in and out of defenders and never losing sight of the sticks. He found his first from an intercept mark off a Western kick-in, putting it through on a tight angle. For the day he finished with 12 disposals, 10 kicks, three goals and five marks.

#7 Brandon Rusca

A pillar in defense, Rusca continued to show improving form with another big performance. He brought reliable hands to the penetrating footy and rebounded well from the backline. He led as Northern Territory’s highest accumulator and delivered effectively by foot. He finished up with 24 disposals, 18 kicks, five marks and four rebounds.

#32 Marly McGregor

Improved substantially from last week, spreading his influence well. He moved well and got involved in a lot of ball movement, delivering the ball inside 50 and cleaning up messes down in the backline. He finished with 17 disposals, 12 kicks, two marks, one tackle, three rebounds and three inside 50s.

#35 Stephen Cumming

Dominant in the ruck with strength and good position, Cumming took a few with both hands and kept his feet to get the ball away. He found the goals in the first from a set shot directly in front, but missed his second under similar conditions, clipping the post. Not shying away from the hard ball, Cumming continually got low and stood up in the tackles with clean hands. Cumming iced many of his direct opponents in seemingly fifty-fifty contests, providing clear passage through opposition. He finished with 18 disposals, one goal, three marks and 33 hit-outs.

#39 Braxton Ahmat

Along with Woods, Ahmat was the most important players in front of the sticks, kicking three in his first game this season. He put away his first following a well-timed lead in the first quarter and followed up with two more in the third. He accompanied his three goals with seven disposals, five kicks, three marks, two tackles and one inside 50.

 

Victorian sides:

 

Daly Andrews (Western)

Daly bounced back hard after one of his weaker performances in Round 3, accumulating the most disposals for Western. He worked hard on the inside and involved himself in a lot of the linking plays through the ground. He returned to his Round 2 (6) form with five marks, after not taking any in Rounds 1 and 3, and sped through congestion with the footy. He earned himself four inside 50s and helped mop up in defense, earning two rebounds.

Joe Ayton Delaney (Oakleigh)

Ayton-Delaney was smooth through the midfield and especially early was one of his teams better midfielders and decision makers with ball in hand. His last quarter was superb with his attack on the ball and willingness to take the game on and attack despite the wide margin, he was by far the standout for Oakleigh in a solid 4 quarter display through the midfield.

Chayce Black (Eastern)

While his finishing touch left a little to be desired, Black was a key man for the Ranges inside forward 50. Black created chance after chance in the first term, but only managed to take advantage of one – with his set shot goal the first of the game after a nice one-on-one mark deep inside 50. He involved himself well by applying pressure and working up the ground to find the ball, and is clearly a hard worker. Black’s second goal was an important one in the final term, again coming from a set shot, but he could really have had a day to remember if he finished a touch better.

Nick Burke (Sandringham)

The kid does not stop running. The stand-in Sandringham skipper worked tirelessly all day and collected 18 disposals playing on the wing and half forward. Burke’s running patterns allowed him to get to the right positions at the right time and despite a somewhat smaller frame still remained composed in a contested situation. When the skipper had the ball Sandringham looked at their most dangerous.

Aaron Clarke (Western)

Clarke played his best game this season with complete poise and control in Western’s forward line. He brought great hands to the overhead footy, keeping his eyes on the ball. He burned his opponent off the lead and, at many times, marked the ball at its highest point. He had his fair share of behinds to accompany his goal tally, but fought hard to earn his opportunities, looking a class above his opponents. For the day he finished with four goals (six behinds), 17 disposals, 15 kicks, 10 marks, two inside 50s and three free kicks.

Joshua Clarke (Eastern)

The bottom-ager was super impressive off half-back with his run and willingness to take the game on. He looks exciting with ball in hand and proved to be a key catalyst in the Ranges’ forward movement. A 1-2 handball passage through the corridor in the second term resulted in Clarke booting inside 50, only to turn the ball over. Undeterred, he intercepted the following kick but missed the resultant shot on goal. After copping a knock in the third quarter, Clarke was crucial in the last, sparking Eastern to life with a sensational running goal from 50-out on the boundary and a courageous effort in the air against 204cm ruckman, Samson Ryan.

Salele Feagaimalii (Eastern)

The solidly-built midfielder had his best game for the year, standing up as Eastern’s best with 28 disposals, seven clearances and two clutch goals. Anchoring the centre bounces, Feagaimalii burst away from the stoppages time after time and drove the Ranges forward well throughout the day. While his handballing at times showed the touch of a raw product, the bottom-ager found his teammates well with some tidy kicks on the back of his bursts. Kicked a set shot goal early in the final term to level the scores with a hacked snap, and made a seven-point play later on to cap off a stand-out performance.

Mason Fletcher (Calder)

Fletcher had a fairly quiet match but got better and more involved as the match went on. His effective defensive spoiling and positioning were evident in the first two quarters. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he took a good contested mark deep in defence. In the fourth term, Fletcher showed that he can play both ends of the ground, with the 200cm key position player booting two goals.

Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham)

The smooth mover was the Dragons best for the day collecting a game high 29 disposals also hurting the Swans on the scoreboard with 2.4. Hanrahan’s game had a nice balance of dashing speed and poised composure knowing when to lower his eyes. Hanrahan also showed his versatility in the third quarter where he was used as the deepest forward in order to facilitate Sandringham’s forward troubles.

Nathan Howard (Northern)

The returning ruckman made an immediate impact and tried his best to give his depleted midfield first use with a monster 51 hitouts, while winning seven clearances of his own. Howard’s work around the ground was just as good as his ruck craft as he steadily accumilated 18 possessions, including three rebound and inside 50s, and a goal to boot. Will no doubt play a key role in a potential Knights turnaround as the season progresses. 

William Kennedy (Western)
Kennedy was one of many players exceeding standards in Sunday’s win, holding his own against Northern Territory’s big man, Stephen Cumming. Despite losing in hit-outs 29 to 33, Kennedy was far from defeated, finishing the game with the second most disposals and winning five free kicks due to careful positioning in the contest. He delivered well inside 50 (5) and took the footy strong overhead. He finished the game with 23 disposals, 15 kicks and three inside 50s.

Bill Mackay (Sandringham)

With an undermanned Sandringham midfield, Mackay really flourished in taking his opportunity. Noticeably more powerful and stronger then his opponents, Mackay’s one-on-one work certainly impressed throughout the day showing real grunt in the stoppages. Along with his ability to win the contested ball, the big-bodied on baller caught the eye of spectators with a few exciting centre bounce clearances where his impressive foot skills going inside 50 allowed the dragons to have numerous set shots on goal.

Sam Philp (Northern)

Philp continued his consistent start to the season, and was a key part of the effort to counter GWS midfield star Tom Green. In a largely contested game, Philp thrived with seven clearances and six tackles among his team-high 26 disposals in what was a tough day for the Knights. Should continue to grow as some of the Knights midfield brigade returns from Metro trials, and stands out with his composure on the ball through traffic.

NAB League Boys Round 4 preview: Changes galore as NAB League goes national

ROUND 4 of the NAB League Boys sees established Victorian Metropolitan sides both play host and traveler as five clubs steel themselves for clashes against the Northern Academies, while the Country clubs each have a bye. A Saturday double-header sees both Sydney academies hit Sandringham, while the Queensland academies are set to host a game each at Southport on Sunday, and Calder becomes the first side for the year to cross Bass Strait and battle Tasmania.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY
Saturday April 13, 10:45am
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

Northern Knights and GWS GIANTS Academy open Round 4 as sides still searching for their first win in season 2019. This bout acts as the Giants’ first experience in playing against established NAB League Boys opposition after losses to the Sydney and Brisbane academies in Rounds 2 and 3. For Northern, while the chance to showcase talent that would otherwise miss out during the year will be the number one priority, wins are at a premium and a 0-4 start would not be ideal. With the core ripped out of their side due to Vic Metro trial game commitments, the Knights have plenty of players who will be looking to consolidate a spot in the underperforming starting lineup. 19-year old Northern Blues listed Sunny Brazier is one of them, and should form a handy midfield trio alongside Sam Philp and Lucas Perry. Speaking of, the Giants have a few in-form ball winners of their own – with star Tom Green leading the way from Jeromy Lucas and Matt McGrory. An inexperienced and largely bottom-aged Knights defence will also have its hands full with dynamic Liam Delahunty, who has been in good goal-scoring form. With one side depleted and the other looking to prove themselves, this should prove to be a close encounter.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY
Saturday April 13, 1:15pm
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

Sandringham will be looking to maintain its perfect start to season 2019 as it hosts the Sydney Swans academy to close out Saturday’s proceedings. Like many of the metro sides, the Dragons have a raft of key outs as trial games roll into town, with at least 14 changes from last week’s side that beat Oakleigh. With their typical midfield core out, the likes of Jackson Voss and Angus Hanrahan will get the opportunity to run through the middle, while Riley Bowman is sure to take up more rucking responsibility. AFL family connections Jai Florent and Jeremy Goddard also slot in at either end as noticeable ins, but Sydney has arguably the most important inclusion of the round. Errol Gulden is set to suit up for his second game of the year, looking to have the likes of Braeden Campbell and Jackson Barling bounce off the electricity he brings. A change of structure looks imminent with Josh Rayner named at half-back, while the promising Ky McGrath will slot in as 23rd man. With the Dragons’ depth set to be tested on this rare occasion, look for the Swans to come out firing, with some serious talent running around on each line.

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday April 14, 10:45am
Southport Oval

Best placed Academy side Gold Coast SUNS welcome NAB League Boys premiership fancies Oakleigh Chargers to the Sunshine State, looking to maintain its winning record. While the Suns downed NT and Brisbane in their first two games, Oakleigh suffered its first loss for the year against Sandringham last time out and will hope to rectify it this week. With perfect conditions forecasted, it is as good a chance as any for the Chargers to showcase their brand of football. The Suns have proven their worth though, and the likes of top-end midfield duo Connor Budarick and Ashton Crossley will have a big say on proceedings. The clinical Josh Gore is also in good form, and is sure to cause headaches for the Oakleigh depth alongside Hewago Paul Oea. Chargers over-ager Joe Ayton Delaney is one who remains amid the 11 changes, and should have a good battle with Budarick as another zippy midfield type. While many of the big names are missing, Oakleigh’s second-string is arguably as strong as some sides’ starting line-up, so they will stand every chance of jumping on the plane home with a win.

TASMANIA DEVILS v. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday April 14, 11:30am
Penguin Oval – Tasmania

Tasmania is set to play on home turf for the first time this season, hosting Calder Cannons at Penguin Oval. The Devils are the best placed side with one win, sitting pretty in ninth after toppling NT in Round 3, while Calder also got on the board last week with a win over Western. While six changes is nothing to scoff at for the Cannons, they will remain relatively steady coming into this game, travel aside, with a solid bunch of 19-year olds looking to contribute. Josh Kemp leads the pack alongside Mason Fletcher, with Tye Browning showing glimpses of why he was picked to return thus far, and top-ager Harrison Minton-Connell another likely type in midfield. The hosts will feel they have answers on each line though, with Jackson Callow one who may well keep Fletcher busy, while Matt McGuinness and Sam Collins have been good across half-back, Jye Menzie and Will Harper likewise up the other end, and Mitch O’Neill leading all-comers in midfield. With the whole state behind them, Tasmania will look to take full advantage of a good hand and streak to a second-straight win, but it will not be easy against the Cannons.

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY v. EASTERN RANGES
Sunday April 14, 1:15pm
Southport Oval

Eastern Ranges will be hoping to make it three-straight NAB League Boys wins as it travels north to face the Brisbane Lions Academy in the second game of Sunday’s double-header. The Lions went down in last week’s Q-Clash, but hold a Round 2 win over their GWS counterparts, while Eastern has soundly beaten Western and Northern to shape as one of the surprise packets so far. With nine outs named, the Ranges will be stretched thin in combating their weekend travel, but will have solid contributors across the park. 19-year old James Blanck comes in to stake his claim, with forward pocket duo Chayce Black and Joshua Tilly showing good form thus far. The Lions have some eye-catchers, with Bruce Reville a clear standout last week, while Will Martyn will look to lift and join Tom Griffiths in finding a wealth of possessions. Good conditions should greet the sides, which should make for decent viewing on stream for those watching at home. A couple should really catch the eye, so look for those smooth movers in the hosts’ lineup.

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN TERRITORY
Sunday April 14, 2:30pm
Downer Oval – Williamstown

A clash between Western Jets and Northern Territory Thunder is set to close the round out, with the travelling Thunder still looking to get on the board in their NAB League Boys stint. After Western snatched a win in Round 1 over Northern, both sides have lost over the last two weeks with a crushing defeat handed to them each. The Jets remain the most steady of the Victorian sides coming into this weekend with only four outs, but they are all key players at that. Still, the likes of Aaron Clarke and Archi Manton have found the goals well, and over-ager Daly Andrews should catch the eye through midfield. For NT, Stephen Cumming looks to be coming along nicely after teasing for Dandenong last year, while the likes of Joel Jeffrey and Maurice Rioli Jr have provided moments of magic. Joel Budarick and Ben Jungfer are ball-winners also sure to catch the eye, though the conditions at Downer Oval may prove difficult for all. A good opportunity rises for the Thunder, but the Jets proved in Round 1 that they will not go down without a fight.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 3

ANOTHER blockbuster weekend of NAB League footy saw the best of the best stake their claims as the next big things, with one particular game showcasing some enormous talent to come. With scouts eyeing all nine games across the round, these are our individual, opinion-based thoughts on the players identified as standouts by respective talent managers.

Northern Knights 3.3 (21) defeated by Eastern Ranges 13.18 (96)
By: Shyam Bali

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

In his first game back, Potter showed good run and dash. He took several kick ins and played on for about four of them, often taking on the man on the mark and showing a bit of flair. He showed a great passage in the second half where he broke away inside the defensive 50, and ran 30 metres before delivering the ball long inside 50 in an attacking 80-metre plus play. Potter also tackled well throughout the day laying lots of hard tackles showing his competitiveness. Ended the day with 15 disposals and five tackles.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

‘JD’ started forward and had a quiet first term with a highlight coming in the second quarter being a strong mark and goal. He was moved onto ball in the second half and was much more prolific there. He had several touches through the middle trying to will the Knights back in to the game, and had a magnificent solo effort on the half forward flank where he took on a few players and got the ball forward but unfortunately his kick let him down. He also had several big tackles in the second half resulting in a couple of holding the ball frees. D’Intinosante finished with 21 touches, five marks, nine tackles and a goal – with an extremely productive second half.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner played predominantly across half back, gathering lots of the ball in the second quarter when the ball was stuck down there. His decision making at times was sometimes questionable and he would turn it over in close proximity, needing a few follow up possessions to fix the mistake. In the second half he continued to rack up the ball and seemed to use it more effectively. He set up a few shots on goal in the second half, but unfortunately his team mates could not capitalise. He ended with over 23 touches, nine marks and six tackles, patrolling the back half and along the wing.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa was good all day and tried hard in a tough day out for his team. He fumbled a little early in the game but his touch got better as the match wore on. He had a few passages of play that showed his class including a spearing kick to a teammate inside 50, a centring kick under pressure that hit his team mate in full stride and a few good clearances in the second half. His decision making let him down on occasion seeming in two minds, this was evident when he played on, ran himself into trouble and handballed straight into the man on the mark at the end of the first half. Overall he was a good contributor on the day and one of the best for the Knights.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

A quieter day for the reliable defender who did not get a lot of the ball in the first half whilst playing down back. This prompted a move to the wing where he found a few possessions but struggled to get involved as the Ranges ran over the top of the Knights from the second quarter onward. Showed off his versatility by spending time in attack as well. Took a few kick outs and showed good penetration in his kicks earlier in the day.

#13 Sam Philp

Philp was big all day, gathering lots of the ball across half-back and often reading the play well and being the first to the ball. He also peeled off his opponent and laid a lot of tackles to hold up the Ranges in the first half. Philp had many highlights including a free kick and 50m penalty, resulting in a goal. In the second half, Philp rebounded and took the ball down the wing well often finding team mates. Philp showed great work rate running out the game strongly and giving strong repeat efforts late into the game and making lots of stoppages all over the ground. Philp finished the game with a team high 26 disposals to go along with nine tackles, five marks and a goal.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Cox started in the backline but was moved all over the ground. He took a great mark in the first quarter but did not see much of the ball before half-time. In the second half he played a mixture of half-back/half-forawrd and got a bit more involved, laying a strong tackle and taking a good mark. Ended up being a pretty quiet day for Cox with seven touches, three marks and two tackles.

Eastern:

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis picked up where he left off last week, showing great zip, energy and attack on the ball in the first half. Had a great centre clearance where he pumped the ball deep inside 50 resulting in a score for his team. He also cut off a kick reading the play well before going back and goaling in the second quarter. His hard chasing and tackling was evident and he showed great two-way running ability. In the second half he seemed to elevate his game further, involved in several scoring plays and setting up his team mates. He showed a great solo effort wrapping up a player 45 metres out and getting a holding the ball decision before going back and slotting the goal which was his second in a row in the last quarter. Mellis was the standout performer on the day with 29 disposals, six marks, six tackles and three goals to cap off a great day.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter started the day in a lot of contests, but let himself down with a few fumbles. He showed great competitiveness and intent though, following up his mistakes and laying some big tackles. He worked forward in the second half and kicked a good goal. Rossiter’s tackling was his standout for the day laying lots of big tackles and wrapping up Knights opponents. His stats finished with 14 disposals (four kicks), 10 tackles, three marks and a goal in a serviceable outing.

#17 Cody Hirst

Hirst started the game with two great defensive efforts, one locking up the ball and the second chasing an opponent down from 30 metres behind him to force a turnover. He was always on the move and showed great energy whenever the ball was around him, promising to excite. In the second half he brought it all together roving the ball and using great vision to set up team mates on a few occasions. His pace and run lit up the team in the second half as he had multiple passages where he took on opponents – or chased them down when he wasn’t close to the contest. Hirst was rewarded for his hard running with a great snap goal in the last quarter. He finished the day with 19 disposals and a goal but the standout was his defensive pressure, laying nine quality tackles.

#18 Billy McCormack

McCormack started forward and had a few shots on goal but was not accurate in the first quarter, booting a couple of behinds. He also had stints in the ruck, amassing 14 hitouts. Ended up doing a few good things around the ground, but his inaccuracy (three behinds) in front of goal stopped it from being a really strong game.

 

GWS GIANTS Academy 7.9 (51) defeated by Sydney Swans Academy 16.14 (110)
By: Scott Dougan

GWS:

#10 James Peatling

Peatling had a very dominant second term, with the midfielder/forward hitting the scoreboard after winning a free-kick for a strong tackle on his opponent. His ball use when entering the forward 50 was reliable and consistent. Peatling was one of the best players on the day, finishing with two goals and over twenty possessions.

#17 Jeromy Lucas

Lucas started in the midfield and played predominately on the outside where he received the ball from his teammates. He found plenty of it early on in the first term and even though his possessions weren’t extremely damaging, he was one of the reasons for the Giants’ fantastic opening quarter, where he repeatedly drove the ball into the Giants’ forward half. Lucas’ work rate also stood out, with the midfielder making plenty of contests throughout the day.

#25 Thomas Green

Green was involved early on, winning the second centre clearance of the game for his team, along with booting a first-quarter goal fifteen minutes later. He accumulated plenty of the footy and was prolific in contested situations. For his size, Green is exceptionally clean at ground level, which makes him a very damaging player around stoppages. His ball use and composure also caught the eye on the day.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Delahunty’s forward craft was a standout. He was able to take a few marks inside the forward 50 just because he was playing in front of his opponent, rather than from behind. He took a very nice mark on the lead in the second term but was unable to convert his set-shot attempt.

#28 Matt McGrory

McGrory won a 50-metre penalty in the defensive half that resulted in him delivering the ball deep inside the forward line for the Giants’ first major of the day. His athleticism stood out in the second term when he took an impressive intercept mark just outside his team’s forward half. McGrory also demonstrated his ball-winning capabilities and his clean ball use by foot during the match.

Sydney:

#7 Braeden Campbell

Campbell won plenty of the ball on the inside and he tackled strongly. One of his best passages of play came early on in the second term when he kicked an important, thumping goal from 50 metres out, keeping his team in the game. Campbell finished with a game-high three goals.

#9 Sam Thorne

Thorne was clean by hand and made smart decisions. He competed hard all day and continued to drive the ball forward on all occasions. His inside work was evident, along with his defensive pressure around the contest. Thorne had a game-high six tackles.

#10 Jackson Barling

Barling was good in both contested and uncontested situations. He continually put his head over the ball and always did his best to make himself an option around the ground for his teammates. He won many one-on-one contests around the ground, signifying his strength and smart body use. He was the Swans’ top ball-winner for the match.

 

Brisbane Lions Academy 5.12 (42) defeated by Gold Coast SUNS Academy 10.10 (70)
By: Michael Alvaro

Brisbane:

#11 Will Martyn

Martyn is a really nice mover in the midfield, and showed his impressive agility around the stoppages here. He looks to be on the move for the majority of time, zipping in and out of tight situations to send his side forward. While his numbers were down (12 disposals) and his kicking left a little to be desired on occasion, Martyn worked hard and seems to always find the ball in good areas. Can become a damaging midfielder with surer kicking, but has enormous potential.

#12 Saxon Crozier

Typically a damaging forward runner, Crozier’s output looked to be limited to action between the arc in this game, and he missed an opportunity to hit the scoreboard as he so often does. Still put in a good shift with 19 disposals and was a good link on the wing, working hard for nine marks to help Brisbane play the short build-up game.

#18 Bruce Reville

Reville really catches the eye and was on form early, playing most of the game through the midfield. He is such a smooth mover and looks a natural footballer, often receiving from the extractors at stoppages and bursting forward seamlessly. His decision making and effective use were features in the first half, with Reville showing great awareness to know when to lower his eyes going forward, or prop and deliver the ball laterally. While he did not quite go at 100 per cent efficiency, Reville’s clever delivery by foot made him stand out and ensured he was a damaging forward mover. Reville faded out slightly as the Suns got on top late, but ended with a team-high 25 disposals to go with a clever soccered goal in the second term.

#19 Tom Griffiths

Equalled Reville’s output in terms of possessions with 25, but played a more selfless role as the extractor in midfield. Winning a good amount of contested ball, Griffiths was effective by hand and released his outside runners, while also spreading well to win the ball in all areas of the ground. A hard worker, and one you may miss if you do not watch closely.

Gold Coast:

#1 Hewago Paul Oea

Oea is an excitement machine, lurking dangerously in and around the forward 50 arc all day. He is a smart user by foot and created opportunities for his teammates with good use going forward. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of that is his ability to use the ball well at speed, and his gather, turn and kick to Ethan Dawson in the goalsquare was an example of that. Oea looked like doing something great whenever he was goalside of his opponent, and his eye-catching goal on the run in the third term showcased that to a t. Definitely one to watch, and is hard to miss when at full flight.

#5 Connor Budarick

The zippy midfielder-forward was a mainstay at the centre bounces, but I thought his possessions in the forward half showed where his best football will be played at the next level. He sweeps up the loose ball at ground level and hits it at speed, using smart hands to extract when he opts not to break away from stoppages. Would have had a pretty complete game had he put away two goal opportunities he created with impressive gathers at pace, but was damaging nonetheless. A pleasing part of his game was his direction of play after disposing of the ball, and he seems a clever type. 26 disposals for the Allies representative marked a solid day.

#13 Josh Gore

Gore looks a polished player, and was nothing short of clinical up forward. He certainly knows where the goals are, but did not get the chance to show off his outstanding awareness inside 50 as he instead booted his three goals from set shots at varying angles. Gore does not need much of the ball to have an impact, and definitely caught the eye with his evasiveness with ball in hand. Worked hard to find space with seven marks, and has a nice left-foot kick.

#28 Ashton Crossley

A contested ball machine, Crossley continued his good start to the Sun’s NAB League cameo with 28 disposals. I was not surprised to find that 20 of them were handballs, but that is simply his game and he was hardly beaten as the number one stoppage player on the ground. While his releasing handballs were effective for the most part, Crossley often hacked the ball out by foot, so still has some areas to work on as most inside midfielders do. Worked tirelessly in tandem with Budarick in a team-oriented role and won an impressive 10 clearances.

 

Sandringham Dragons 9.11 (65) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 8.7 (55)
By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham:

#1 Jack Mahony

Mahony was very busy through the midfield wining plenty of the ball and using it well by hand and foot and he was one of his teams better performers in the first half. He was everywhere in the third quarter and he had a nice bit of play taking a nice mark inside 50 and a quick wide kick to teammate Angus Hanrahan lead to a goal. Mahony showed he was one of the most skilled players on the ground and he finished the game with 25 disposals and five tackles.

#4 Finn Maginess

Maginess showed a lot of class through the midfield with his clean hands and strength at stoppages, he had a strong start to the game and was even better in the second quarter taking a nice contested mark and did some nice repeat efforts at the contest with clean ball use at the same time. Maginess would hit the scoreboard in the third quarter cutting off an opposition player and ran in to kick the goal. Maginess was a strong player around the contest and he finished the game with 24 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes was very busy through the midfield early in the game but his disposal seemed rushed and he was not as damaging early as he was in recent weeks and it was more of the same during the whole game. His third quarter was quiet but his best bit of play came in the last quarter with a nice kick inside 50 to teammate Charlie Dean, he would finish the game with 21 disposals and six inside 50s.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith had another good game mostly as a link up player on the wing using his dash and clean disposal. His first goal came in the 2nd quarter running into open goal, he would have a good movement in this quarter burning off an opponent with pure speed and then turning on a dime and hitting a nice short pass under pressure. He would continue to show of his dash in the third quarter with a nice run from the wing into the forward half and he would have another solid quarter, he would kick his second goal from a strong mark in the last quarter and converting the set shot. He would finish the game with 15 disposals, four marks and two goals.

#12 Charlie Dean

Dean continues to lead the NAB League for goals and that has came from his great leading patterns which he again showed early, taking a strong contested mark and kick a set shot goal 15 minutes into the first quarter. The second goal came in the second quarter from a nice mark and set shot finish, he would continue to provide a good target taking a nice lead up mark in the third quarter and delivering a nice short kick inside 50. Dean was a great target all day and he finished the game with 16 disposals, six marks and two goals.

#29 Fischer McAsey

McAsey had a similar game to last week starting slowly before becoming more involved as the game went on, he started the second quarter well with a good chase down tackle and was solid overall for that quarter down back and would improve again in the third showing his neat skills by hand and foot. McAsey had a neat game down back finishing with 12 disposals and three rebound 50s.

#31 Josh Worrell

Worrell was physical early hitting contests hard and tackling with intent, his skills by hand and foot early where very solid, he was very important repelling a lot of the oppositions attacks in the first half. His disposal dropped in the second half but his positioning in defence was fantastic and he was still having an influence. Worrell was his teams standout defender with 23 disposals, four marks and five rebounds.

Oakleigh:

#4 Nick Bryan

Another solid game for Bryan who competed well in the ruck especially early on working in tandem with gun midfielder Matthew Rowell. His second quarter was the most impressive with some lovely tap work in the ruck and even showing his skill with ball in hand with a nice kick inside 50. His tap work was the standout but he showed even more tricks with a great tackle on Sandringham speedster Hugo Ralphsmith in the last quarter. Bryan finished the game with 11 disposals, three tackles and 33 hitouts.

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was all class for four quarters and was a big reason for his side coming close to knocking off premiership favourites Sandringham. His first half was strong using the ball well down back and in the third quarter he showed why he is considered one of the better skilled players at Oakleigh with a fantastic opposite foot switch kick to teammate Matthew Rowell. Bianco was huge in the last quarter starting to be an influence up the ground, some standout moments came with a lovely kick to the advantage of teammate Dylan Williams inside 50 and he would latter look after Williams again with a fantastic pickup and quick clean and long handball over the top for Williams to run into open goal. Bianco finished the game with 26 disposals, four inside 50s and five rebound 50s.

#8 Noah Anderson

The in-form player in the Nab League so far again had a solid outing he was his usual impactful self working hard through the middle early and linking up well in transition. Anderson was quieter in the second and third quarter but would kick his first goal from straight in front close to goal in the third quarter. Anderson’s second goal came in the last quarter through a free kick and he was also a solid contributor through the midfield in the last quarter and would finish the game with 26 disposals, six tackles and two goals.

#11 Matthew Rowell

Rowell was the standout player on the day especially early having a big say on the game through the midfield, not only was he tackling with intent but he also went in hard to win the ball and was classy with his ball use. He didn’t let up in the second quarter either, continuing to be a force through the midfield and in the third quarter he showed his skill with a classy opposite foot kick inside 50. Rowell excelled at stoppages but he also had an impact in general play especially in the last quarter taking a strong intercept mark and quickly kicking inboard to teammate Trent Bianco which started a great chain for Oakleigh. Rowell finished the game strong with 31 disposals, seven marks and eleven tackles.

#23 Dylan Williams

Williams had a rough start to the game he struggled to get involved in the play early but he started to have an influence in the second quarter taking a nice lead up mark and delivering a nice kick inside 50 which was unfortunately dropped by is teammate but later in the quarter he would kick his first goal which was a nice goal on the run. Williams got a chance through the midfield where he showed some good signs with his movement in traffic, he had one nice bit of play showing clean hands under pressure standing up in a tackle and finding a difficult handpass. Williams looked set to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the last quarter taking a strong mark early and converting a set shot goal he would almost kick another goal from a similar situation that was touched on the line. His final goal came running into open goal to finish his game on a high despite the loss. He finished the game with nine disposals, four marks and three goals.

 

Calder Cannons 10.14 (74) defeated Western Jets 9.8 (62)
By: Ed Pascoe

Calder:
#1 Daniel Mott

Mott had an impact early kicking the first goal of the game which was a lovely opposite foot goal in general play 40 metres out and the second goal also in the same quarter which was an easy goal running into open goal. Most was one of his teams more classy players with ball in hand especially by foot which he had some good movements in the last quarter with a lovely opposite foot kick to teammate Josh Kemp and another long kick inside 50 to the advantage of his teammate which was impossible for a defender to stop. In the last quarter he even showed a good burst of speed to get away from his opponent to get a kick away inside 50. Mott finished the game with 32 disposals, seven marks and two goals in a good four-quarter performance through the midfield.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay was fantastic in the first quarter showing his class and work ethic laying a strong tackle and showing great composure and movement with ball in hand and he would latter kick a fantastic running goal from 50 metres. Ramsay left the game early and was a big loss for his side as he had started the game extremely well showing his speed and class. He finished the game with eight disposals and one goal.

#30 Josh Kemp

Kemp looked dangerous early he would set up a goal with a nice bit of play in the pocket working hard to win the ball and then a creative handball to set it up, and he would again have a similar bit of play although not leading to a goal but he would almost kick a goal showing lovely hands and movement and then snapping only to be touched on the line and again would come close with a great lead and diving mark but the set shot was changed to a kick to the hot spot. He looked good again in the second quarter showing his leap with a great contested overhead mark but the set shot dropped short and another chance from a nice lead up mark but again not kicking the goal. Kemp would have a quieter second half but showed his kicking skills with a nice pass inboard with a bit of composure in the last quarter, Kemp finished the game with nine disposals and four marks.

#38 Brodie Newman

Newman had a very quiet game, especially for his standards, he defended first and he still showed his game awareness with a nice bit of play in the second quarter positioning himself well having a run and clearing a long kick outside defensive 50. Newman did not have many standout moments in the second half and he finished the game with four disposals and three tackles.

Western:

#18 Emerson Jeka

Jeka showed good presence early taking some nice lead up marks and proving a difficult matchup for the Calder side but he could not quite put it on the scoreboard with a set shot behind and one not making the distance from long range. He would show his class with ball in hand taking a nice mark on the wing and quickly kicking inboard twice one on his preferred and one on his non preferred. He had a good highlight in the third quarter taking a mini specky getting the knee in the middle of his opponents back but again failing to kick the set shot, he would finish the game with nine disposals, six tackles and two behinds.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar started the game well hitting a lovely pass under pressure and showing good movement and speed from a stoppage deep in defence, he was classy down back in the first half showing his speed on many occasions and cool head under pressure. Cassar was a good four-quarter performer and a major reason for the Jets staying in the game and he finished with 24 disposals and eight rebound 50s.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey has had a tough start to the year and again didn’t start the game well although showing good movement trying to take the game on early, he was taken down in a good tackle. Honey would show his class in the second quarter with a great contested mark on the last line and converting the easy set shot he also had a strong tackle in the third quarter and should have been rewarded with a free kick. Honey tried hard but he will be looking to have bigger impacts on the game which he is more than capable of, he finished the game with 14 disposals, six tackles and a goal.

 

Bendigo Pioneers 8.10 (58) defeated by Gippsland Power 12.10 (82)
By: Peter Williams

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

I was impressed with the way he went about it and was one of Bendigo’s most consistent across the four quarters. The bottom-age midfield has a neat left foot kick and is not afraid to take the game on. He had a terrific spearing pass into Brodie Kemp early in the game and showed great core strength throughout to stand up in tackles and get his hands free. Conforti has high football smarts and can find space whilst in traffic, it is just sharpening up the kicking when at top speed. Gets around the ground comfortably.

#4 Thomson Dow

Not as prolific as past games, finishing with just the nine touches and one effective kick but still managed to hit the scoreboard courtesy of a free kick inside 50 in the second term. He showed good vision to give off a long handball to a teammate in space in the same quarter, and had a chance for another goal from a set shot in the third quarter but missed to the left.

#8 Brodie Kemp

Impressive across the four quarters, he kicked the Pioneers’ opening goal of the game with a ripping shot to bend the ball back through the big sticks in the right forward pocket. He took a great mark at half-forward then kicked low in favour of Caleb Fisher in the pocket. With time and space he can be real damaging, and it is just tightening up the kicking when under pressure at speed. Kept winning it and has a knack of spinning out of trouble. Good hands in traffic too.

#20 James Schischka

Had a solid game throughout playing his usual role in the defensive half and pushing up the ground to take a number of intercept marks. He has a long, direct kick which he uses effectively to put into dangerous positions, but will often size up his options and pick a shorter option. Has strength, applying a fend-off to an opponent and still being able to dispose of the ball.

Gippsland:

#2 Caleb Serong

Does not play a bad game and on this occasion, Serong was one of Gippsland’s best across the four quarters, rotating between midfield and forward. He has great skills and is able to weight kicks well, while also having terrific strength for a small player. Serong just has the ability to get his hands free whilst being tackled, and force opponents to commit to the tackle before giving the ball off to a teammate in space. He had a mind blank in the third term where he gave away a downfield free for a slightly late bump on an opponent, but got forward and booted two goals using strong hands.

#4 Sam Flanders

The forward-turned-midfielder had another impressive game throughout the four quarters, tending to win the ball at the stoppage and get the hands free to find a teammate running past. He would then spread to the outside and win the footy in space and have an impact on the outside.

#11 Kyle Dunkley

Providing strong support on the inside for Gippsland and laid a number of big tackles on opponents throughout the match. His kicking can be hit or miss at times, with his long, penetrating kick more effective than trying to find targets at short range. Dunkley unloaded a long-bomb from well outside 50m and put it straight through the middle, and when inside 50 provides leads and is good in the air or ground level.

#12 Brock Smith

A solid game from the AFL Academy defender who played well one-on-one and is composed with ball-in-hand in the back half. He had a great punch in the second term to put it across the line at half-back and took a good intercept mark on the wing not long after. Continued to apply great defensive pressure and played his role.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

The defender-midfielder just finds the ball wherever he goes and had a nice clearance straight out of the middle to start the game and his ability to win the ball in transition and get it forward was a feature of his match. Has a neat kick, often opting for shorter options, then pushing forward to offer as a target in space. A valuable, underrated midfielder in the side.

#16 Josh Smith

Not a huge game by any means, but played his role inside 50 with his bodywork and finished off with a goal and a couple of score assists. Had a great kick inside 50 to Harrison Pepper leading out, and laid a great tackle in the first term to cause a spillage in defence.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The best game of the season so far for Phillips who has an impact despite not having high disposal numbers. Finishing with just the 12 touches, Phillips roamed around the forward 50 and up to the wing, booting 3.2 in the game and showed high footy IQ and a great goal sense to kick a couple of goals out of nothing. He also showed good defensive pressure, laying a number of tackles inside 50. Effectively nailed the coffin shut in the final term with back-to-back goals including a snap off a few steps and converting a set shot.

#22 Zac Reid

The key defender was another who played his role with little fuss, taking a few marks and just using the ball well across the ground. Reid did not miss a target and played well one-on-one, but his moment of the match was a massive goal-saving tackle in the final term as an opponent ran into an open goal, stopping him in his tracks.

 

Dandenong Stingrays 12.11 (83) drew to Geelong Falcons 12.11 (83)
By: Peter Williams

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

The potential top five selection showed a good aerial ability and strong penetration kick throughout the four quarters as he played his best game for the season. Often winning the ball at half-back or along the wing, Young was ably to double back into the defensive 50, then get up the ground to send the ball into his team’s own attacking 50. Mopped up well throughout the game, though did make one clanger in the third term when kicking out of the back half which was intercepted and led to an opposition goal. Could not fault Young too much throughout, almost kicking a massive goal from the wing in the final term.

#11 Ned Cahill

After a delayed start to the season due to injury, Cahill was really impressive through the midfield, winning both contested and uncontested possessions and most importantly, getting the ball forward to provide scoring possibilities. He has such clean hands and does not fumble much, able to use his footy smarts to keep moving without being caught. Used the ball well more often than not and certainly had a big hand in Dandenong’s drawing the match.

#18 Mitch Riordan

The premiership co-captain provides the stronger body on the inside and experience to the young Stingrays’ midfielders with another solid game. He finds space and is able to kick long to dangerous areas. Riordan is clever at reading ruck taps, and provides good defensive pressure with a number of fierce tackles to stop opponents in their tracks.

#20 Sam De Koning

Started in defence and went forward in the final term, booting two goals and missing a couple which were also gettable. He had to judge the wind which was swirling around, but managed to lift for the Stingrays in that charge home. Would like his time again when trying to kick in the goal square under pressure, but his strong marking and leading looked good, and he was very settled in attack.

#44 Cody Weightman

An exciting prospect who continues to turn heads because of his ability to look dangerous whenever he goes near it. He has a nice kicking technique and great acceleration, which makes him a damaging prospect in the forward half of the ground. Weightman has clean hands and despite copping a head knock in the final term, was fine and a key player in Dandenong’s win.

Geelong:

#4 Gennaro Bove

Showed some nice signs as a bottom-ager and while he did not win a lot of the ball, used it really well and had a touch of class about him. He took a strong mark opposed to Hayden Young on the wing and showed no fear, and has a penetrating kick that he put in the path of Charlie Sprague during the third term. Courageous with good vision and composure, he is one to watch over the next 18 months.

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

Another bottom-ager who stood out in the draw was Lazzaro who stepped up in the absence of the injured Cooper Stephens. Continually cracking in and laying some big tackles, shovelling out the contested ball and winning the clearance, Lazzaro was quite impressive with his kicking action and getting it forawrd.

#17 Sheldon Ham

Just showed a few nice signs on the weekend in the forward half as a creative type who can win the footy. Kicked a great goal in the third term and just seems to move well and get himself out of trouble. Won a lot of his possessions under pressure and held himself up well, sharing the ball around to teammates in the forward 50.

#36 Charlie Sprague

A serviceable game for the overager who would have liked to have made more of his forward chances. Had some nice passes of play such as a good leading mark diving forward, but then kicked it out on the full. Set up a couple of teammates going forward and pushing up to the wing, won the ball and used his body well to fire a quick handball to a teammate running past in the opposite direction.

#40 Jesse Clark

Stationed at half-back, Clark showed good body pressure on his opponents at ground level or in the air and repelled a lot of Dandenong attacks. He was outsized late in the game against Sam De Koning, but aside from that, had a really promising game with strong kicking and a couple of good intercept marks in defence under immense pressure. Just consistent throughout the match.

 

Northern Territory Thunder Academy 6.8 (44) defeated by Tasmania Devils 13.14 (92)
By: Alex Gibson

Northern Territory:

#17 Maurice Rioli

The way this bottom-ager plays it is no surprise he is a Rioli. His presence of silky skill was complimented beautifully by his dashing speed. Although he did not have huge numbers his possessions were damaging thanks to his precise vision and ability to lower his eyes. A run-down tackle at the start of the third quarter got the crowd up on their feet.

#19 Ben Jungfer

In what was a frustrating day for the Thunder star, Jungfer’s efforts can not be questioned. The Devils seemed to have put a lot of time into the midfielder following last weeks performance and he wasn’t given much space throughout the game. Finding it hard to get his hands on the ball in the first half, Jungfer’s second half showed promising signs and he worked hard to finish with 17 disposals and five tackles.

#24 Joel Jeffery

The 17-year-old swingman was immense for the NT boys. Playing as the key forward at only 189cm, his athleticism contributed to him being a serious aerial threat and the devils defenders were cautious of his raw talent. When the Devils began to get on top, a smart coaching move saw Jeffery go back, where his marking ability alongside a deadly long kick saw him gather 20 disposals including seven rebounds out of the defensive 50 to go with his earlier goal.

#27 Beau O’Connell

O’Connell was the Thunder’s best by far. He had a big first term where his gut running and damaging kick gave him the opportunity to kick back-to-back goals and allowed his team to get on top early. Rotating through half forward and the midfield, when O’Connell had the ball the Thunder looked at their most dangerous. He gathered 16 touches and finished with three goals.

#35 Stephen Cumming

In what was a disappointing day for the Thunder, the 199cm monster dominated in the ruck. Finishing with 40 hitouts, the next best hit out count on the day between both teams was six. The big man also exploited the new ruck rule where he on numerous occasions took the ball straight out of the stoppage giving first use to his midfielders. His football smarts largely contributed to his 17 handball and 22 disposal day.

Tasmania:

#1 Mitch O’Neill

The Thunder had no response to O’Neill’s dominance throughout the whole day, he was unstoppable. The dashing on baller amassed a massive 35 disposal performance including 21 kicks and nine inside 50’s. Not only did he hurt the Thunder by foot going inside 50, but his quick hands in and under the stoppage allowed the Devils to have a huge second quarter and control the game from there on. Was clearly the best on ground.

#2 Oliver Burrows-Cheng

The big bodied midfielder showed a display of pure strength. Despite having a clear defensive role in which he got on top of his opponent, Burrows-Cheng was still the first player to get his hands on the football at the stoppage and was impressive all day. Working tirelessly all game he laid seven tackles and defensively was brilliant.

#7 Matt McGuiness

The game seemed to slow down when McGuiness had the ball. The half back had elite composure out the the defensive 50 which stood out along with him hitting targets using both sides of his body. McGuiness also was very solid defensively where his ability to read the ball allowed him to get the upper hand on his opponents.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow could have had a really, really big day. He dominated the Thunder’s defence all game and finished with five goals however if he kicked straight could’ve easily had seven or eight to his name. Callow did not once get out-marked and either took the grab himself or brought the ball to ground to which his small forwards appreciated. Callow was the go-to man for the Devils and the well built key forward’s work rate was impressive – often providing a target well up the ground.

 

Murray Bushrangers 9.15 (69) defeated Greater Western Victoria Rebels 9.8 (62)
By: Peter Williams

Murray:
#3 Ben Kelly

The 19-year-old ruck/defender has made a strong start to his overage year and while he had less impact on the weekend, still showed enough signs to suggest this year could be a big one for him. He moves well for a taller player and does not panic when potentially quicker players are in pursuit. He has a nice sidestep and even attempted to go for a run in the first term, taking a bounce before opting for a handball. He patrolled the backline and switches the play when required, taking a good intercept mark in the final term and backed himself to move around a player and take off down the field.

#5 Cam Wild

An accumulator who plays his role for the team with minimal fuss and just wins the ball every week. Wild is a player who does his best work around stoppages, often firing out handballs or kicking clear of danger. Found a fair bit of it in space on the wing and pumped it long inside 50.

#7 Zane Barzen

Another overage player at the Bushrangers, Barzen had some nice moments inside 50, kicking a couple of goals and assisting in some others. Still looking to find consistency across four quarters, Barzen had a quieter second half, but still acquitted himself in the forward arc. Had a late chance for a third goal with a snap under immense pressure but missed.

#12 Lachlan Ash

If there is a player in the NAB League competition that catches the eye, then it is most certainly Lachlan Ash. Hardly putting a foot wrong, Ash’s ball use is elite and some of the kicks he produces are bordering on perfection. Ash will almost always pick the right option and does not just play safe, going for the deeper, penetrating kicks forawrd to set up attacking plays, even if the kick comes attached with risk. He set up a number of goals, including one in the first term to Will Chandler, and the winning goal to Jay Hillary in the final quarter. The amazing thing about Ash is the fact that he firstly takes the game on, but secondly brings teammates into play by drawing opponents and giving the ball off, or providing shepherds to allow teammates to kick cleanly up the ground like he did in the final term. Ash is terrific overhead and really does it all.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Had an influential first term in the midfield, and played a solid game throughout the four quarters as one of the Bushrangers’ best. Still finding consistency throughout the match, Chalcraft’s ability to sidestep opponents with ease and just pump the ball forward makes him a damaging player wherever he is playing. Chalcraft has good core strength and stands up in tackles, also having a nice kick under pressure in the opening term to hit a target at half-forward. He spreads around the ground and a good work rate, and finds the ball when in midfield. Does not make a heap of errors with his disposal, and more often than not is able to put the ball to a teammates’ advantage.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Floated around the ground providing an option in space, taking a number of marks and keeping the ball moving in transition. Boyer’s worked hard to spread to the wings and flanks and is able to use the ball well under pressure. A nice kick of the football, his lateral movement and good vision make him a handy prospect. One of the better Bushrangers on the day and just keeps winning the football and providing an option to his teammates.

#20 Elijah Hollands

A classy forward who just has that knack of finding the goals, he was disappointed in himself missing a few early chances, before kicking two for the game, including a natural instinct shot off the left to win the game for the Bushrangers. Hollands also shows good second efforts, giving off a quick handball before following up with a tackle immediately after.

GWV:

#4 Jed Hill

Worked hard throughout the match and played a solid game to continually find space rotating through the midfield and half-forward. Still needs to fine tune some consistency having a quiet second half, but was prominent early in the game with 10 touches and five marks to half-time. Finished with the 13 disposals, but did a lot of things that were outside the stat sheet. Hill ran hard and kicked a goal into the breeze in the second term after a “typical” Hill goal from a tight angle in the pocket in the first term.

#7 Mitch Martin

A classy performance and as clean as they come at ground level. Used the ball well throughout and showed neat kicking across the ground. In the third term, Martin showed his composure by nullifying a ball in the forward pocket despite being chased by two opponents. Kept getting busy around the ground and offered himself as an option with 10 marks, rotating between midfield and half-forward. Also laid a number of good tackles, but the standout feature was his one-touch ability at ground level.

#9 Isaac Wareham

Made some uncharacteristic errors by foot in the game, kicking at just 50 per cent, but his pressure was still high. While the normally classy Wareham had some nice disposals at times, it was his hunting of the ball and ball carrier which stood out. He is not a huge disposal winner, but always goes for a smother or tackle whenever possible and plays a great team role.

#13 Jay Rantall

Shot onto my draft board after the match on the weekend and will be one to watch. The former basketballer is still very raw, and does make mistakes by foot at times, but some of the natural things he does are very eye-catching. Rantall has an eye for the goals and was able to kick a couple of majors, one off a step from long range, timing the kick perfectly, then had another snap around the body from a stoppage in the third term. His energy levels and second efforts are very impressive and his overall athletic capabilities are off the charts. By far the moment that caught everyone’s eye was the final centre stoppage where he read the tap to perfection, burst away and hit a pass onto the chest of a leading forward.

#14 Liam Herbert

Had a few nice plays around the ground and weight his kicks, but also made some errors by foot. He worked hard to push back into defence at times and also got forward, moving around the ground well. Had an important fist under pressure in the defensive 50 in the final term.

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 3

WITH a landmark Round 2 come and gone, Round 3’s set of fixtures delivers another nine games and another nine opportunities to observe the best talent from across the nation as the Northern Academies and Tasmania settle into NAB League proceedings. With a Sandringham double-header on Saturday and Bendigo triple-header on Sunday, settle in for some non-stop Under 18 action.

Northern Knights v Eastern Ranges
Saturday April 6, 9:45
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Northern Knights host Eastern Ranges on neutral ground to open the round and Saturday’s double-header at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. The Knights are still without a win in 2019 after going down narrowly to Western and more comfortably to Sandringham, while Eastern come in 1-1 after toppling the Jets last week. Lachie Potter returns to the side after missing through injury, and will look to provide run on the outside of in-form Northern ball winners Adam Carafa and Sam Philp. While Potter gives the Knights’ defence more dynamism, the Ranges have brought in 19-year old Vic Metro representative James Blanck to sure up the back six – not that it has been particularly leaky. Further afield, Eastern’s Mitch Mellis will hope to build on his Round 2 Draft Central player of the week performance, with the midfield combination of Lachlan Stapleton and Cody Hirst effective so far. Both sides will see this clash as a good opportunity to pick up a win, with the Knights especially keen to get on the board as quickly as possible.

GWS GIANTS Academy v Sydney Swans Academy
Saturday April 6, 11:00
Manuka Oval

The battle of the bridge comes to the NAB League as the GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans academies prepare to do battle in Canberra. While the Swans had a winning start to NAB League life, GWS will look towards this opportunity to get on the board having gone down to academy counterparts, Brisbane in Round 2. The Swans have been dealt a major blow as star of their opening game, Errol Gulden has been named as an out, with fellow bottom-ager Pierce Roseby set to slot right into his place. Samuel Thorne is one who can also pick up the slack alongside the likes of Jackson Barling and Kyle McKellar after good performances last week, and the midfield battle will be a cracker. Leading Giants prospect Tom Green showed his class last week and will hope to overwhelm the Swans mids, while the dynamic forward combination of Liam Delahunty and James Peatling should cause some headaches for the Swans. This is certainly one to watch with some high-end academy prospects running around, and should be a good contest to boot.

Brisbane Lions Academy v Gold Coast Suns Academy
Saturday April 6, 12:00
Yerong Football Ground

The academy state derbies continue as the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS academies play off in an Under 18 Q-clash up in the sunshine state. Both Round 2 winners, the sides will be playing off for bragging rights before testing themselves against established NAB League opponents. A potential midfield match-up between Gold Coast’s Connor Budarick Brisbane’s Will Martyn should be a belter, as would a shootout between Suns goalsneak Josh Gore and Lions forward ace Tom Wischnat – who bagged seven collective goals last week. With plenty of forward runners in either lineup and sunny conditions an forecasted, this fixture should well and truly attract some eyes, and will be as good an opportunity as ever for each side’s top-end talent to showcase their skills – or even use as preparation for future AFL Q-clashes.

Sandringham Dragons v Oakleigh Chargers
Saturday April 6, 12:15
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

The game of the round hits Trevor Barker Beach Oval as Metro premiership fancies, Sandringham and Oakleigh play off in what could well be an early season finals dress rehearsal. Both sides come into the game at 2-0 as the top two on the ladder, but the Dragons should come in as favourites given they hold home ground advantage and have won more comfortably thus far. The home side backed up a Round 1 shellacking of Calder with a solid win over Northern, while Oakleigh was tested last week against a fighting Calder side in tough conditions. With stars studded across each line for both teams, there will be no shortage of mouth-watering match-ups to grab the attention of recruiters. Sandringham’s forward line has been lethal so far, with Charlie Dean leading the competition for goals (nine), and fellow talls Riley Bowman and Jack Bell also pitching in. While they will no doubt trouble the visitors’ defence, Oakleigh’s midfield is set to feature three genuine top 10 draft pick contenders – with returning co-captain Trent Bianco joining Round 1 Draft Central Player of the Week, Noah Anderson, and the unflappable Matt Rowell. Over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney also features in that midfield rotation, with he and Bianco able to join the back six or play on the outside. Recent AFL Vic Metro Academy squad inclusion, Nick Bryan will hope to continue his early-season run and provide his fleet with first use in the ruck, with Dylan Williams showing signs of clicking into full gear up forward. While Oakleigh’s midfield is arguably the competition’s best on paper, Sandringham’s engine room is proving to be right up there – as the likes of Jack Mahony, Ryan Byrnes, and Finn Maginness have formed a consistent ball-winning trio. Sandringham’s defence features a combination of aerial prowess and calm ball users, with Josh Worrell, Corey Watts, and Fischer McAsey versatile enough to tackle all sorts of forwards. With potential draftees littered across this game, it is simply a must watch – and the chance to watch this much elite talent most likely will not come until the National Championships.

Calder Cannons v Western Jets
Saturday April 6, 3:30
RAMS Arena

The winless Calder Cannons will have a point to prove when they meet Western Jets in another home fixture at RAMS Arena to close out Sunday’s games. Having been dealt a tough hand with their first two games being against premiership fancies Sandringham and Oakleigh, the Cannons showed marked improvement in Round 2 as they matched it with the Chargers for three quarters. On the other hand, Western suffered a comprehensive loss to Eastern after a promising Round 1 victory, so will be looking to pave a more consistent path as the season progresses. Calder’s tall defensive duo of Brodie Newman and Mason Fletcher will have their hands full with probably match-ups against Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke, while both sets of midfielders will hope to improve on last week’s outings – namely Western’s Josh Honey and Calder’s Daniel Mott, who have outstanding potential. Enigmatic Calder forward Josh Kemp is also set to be a factor, coming off three goals last week and hoping to build a case for the next level as a 19-year-old. The Cannons may surprise a few, but Western will hope it can get back on the winners list with an stronger output here.

Bendigo Pioneers v Gippsland Power
Sunday April 7, 10:00
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The season’s surprise packet to date, Bendigo Pioneers, will hope to keep its perfect record in tact when it faces Gippsland to open Sunday’s all-Country triple-header. The hosts have taken full advantage of retaining their top-end talent for the early-season proceedings, with Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp leading the way well from midfield to provide an eye-catching mix of grunt and creativity. A thrilling win last week against Murray puts them in good stead at 2-0, with Gippsland on the wrong end of a tight loss last time out and coming in with a 1-1 record. Much like the Pioneers, Gippsland will hope to take advantage of having Caleb Serong free from school football and Vic Country commitments, but have a wealth of talent to see them through in any case. Ryan Sparkes has started the season well on the outside, with the powerful Sam Flanders mixing time in the midfield and forward line seamlessly, and over-ager Kyle Dunkley looking a much-improved prospect. With one side playing in a rare vein of form and the other looking to click into gear as most expect them to, this clash could well be right up there with the Sandringham and Oakleigh game for pure entertainment.

Dandenong Stingrays v Geelong Falcons
Sunday April 7, 12:30
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons take centre stage in the second QEO all-Country clash, with either side coming in on the back of polar opposite form-lines. While the reigning premiers have managed to scrape in for two six-point wins, the Falcons are one of four established NAB League teams still searching for their first win. Usual suspects are already appearing in the Geelong side, with co-captains Cooper Stephens and Jesse Clark continually standing up, while 19-year-old Charlie Sprague has also been lively thus far. The Falcons will unfortunately be without Jay Dahlhaus for what looks like being most of the season though, with the speedster partially tearing his ACL last week. On Dandenong’s end, Hayden Young is coming into form, with over-ager Mitch Riordan following suit in the midfield, while talls Bigoa Nyuon and Bailey Schmidt are also making a mark. With plenty of experience remaining from last year’s premiership side, the Stingrays will prove a tough test for Geelong as they look to bounce back by collecting a set of four points.

Northern Territory Thunder Academy v Tasmania Devils
Sunday April 7, 1:00
Holden Centre

Someone’s winless start will end when Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmania Devils take their talent to neutral ground in Melbourne, with both sides hoping to bounce back from defeats in their respective NAB League debuts. The Thunder is set to take an unchanged line-up to the Holden Centre, while Tasmania will have at least two fresh faces in the team this week with an extended squad named. The Devils fell respectably short of the Sydney Swans Academy last time out, with leading prospect Mitch O’Neill the standout alongside Matt McGuiness. They will be important once again alongside the running power of Sam Collins, while the versatile forward duo of Will Harper and Jye Menzie will hope to again combine effectively to help the Taswegians get on the board. Ben Jungfer was the NT’s clear best ball winner last week, and will play a key role against the Devils’ best, while twin tall pair Stephen and Matthew Cumming should again prove a handful wherever they are required. With plenty of speed set to come to the fore, expect some fireworks between two sides battling for their first win.

Murray Bushrangers v Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Sunday April 7, 3:00
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Murray Bushrangers and Greater Western Victoria Rebels are set to see out the round of action and Sunday’s QEO fixtures as they clash for regional bragging rights. While Murray have been unlucky not to snatch the win thus far – going down by a collective seven points in the first two rounds – GWV managed to get up by the narrowest of margins last week as they snatched a win from under the Falcons’ beaks. The Rebels have a number of triers who contribute well, with Jay Rantall and James Cleaver among the best so far, but they are set to lose key contributors Cooper Craig-Peters and Matty Lloyd for this week’s clash. On the other hand, Murray has named a handy inclusion, with over-ager Zane Barzen slotting straight into the forward line. With Will Chandler set to join him up there and Jye Chalcraft able to rest inside 50 from midfield duties, the Bushrangers’ look a dangerous prospect. Lachlan Ash and former-Knight Cam Wild have also gone about their business well as ball-winners, so should collectively provide some headaches for the Rebels midfield. With wins imperative as sides are at relative full strength, Murray will be keen to pick up four points here.