Tag: josh smith

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Semi-finals

THE cream is rising to the top as the NAB League finals series narrows down to the final four contenders after a pair of hard fought semi-finals. With a host of national and state combine invitees in action, we cast our eye over the weekend’s action to highlight the best-performing invitees in our opinion-based notes.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Calder Cannons

Sandringham:

By: Ed Pascoe

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

It was not a huge game from Chirgwin disposal wise but he was still a key cog in the Sandringham midfield where they out-worked their opponents. Chirgwin’s ball use was improved on last week and he made some good composed decisions at stoppages, he used his body well at stoppages and tackled hard when he did not have possession. Chirgwin finished the game with 17 disposals and eight tackles.

#4 Finn Maginness

Maginness was his teams best player playing a great four quarter performance with his work on the inside and workrate around the ground proving unstoppable for the Calder midfielders. The Hawthorn father-son prospect set the tone early winning the hard ball and proving impossible to tackle keeping his feet and firing out handballs, he was too strong to take down and his running too powerful for the Calder midfielders to go with him on the outside. Maginness kicked a classy goal in the first quarter faking his opponent and then kicking the goal on the run, his disposal by foot has never been a strong suit but he was able to hit some good targets especially inside 50. MAginness finished the game with 32 disposals, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s and a goal.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes, despite a slowish start, really hit his straps half way through he first quarter and never looked back, playing a huge game through the midfield in winning plenty of the ball and firing the it inside 50. Byrnes has been Sandringham’s player of the finals so far and the captain played his role well, winning the ball on the inside and working hard around the ground while showing great composure with ball in hand and moving it quickly inside 50 when needed. Byrnes finished the game with 32 disposals and 10 inside 50s.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman had a very quiet game by his standards and was well held by Calder’s Ben Overman. Bergman’s poor game was not through lack of effort since he still led hard to provide an option up forward, it was disappointing that Sandringham did not move him into the middle in the last quarter to try and get him some touch going into their preliminary final next week. Bergman finished with four marks and four disposals.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith was the player to take the game away from Calder early kicking three first quarter goals and despite not adding to that tally, still finished the game as one of Sandringham’s most influential players. Ralphsmith was unstoppable both in the air and at ground level taking some strong marks in the pack and on the lead and also swooping on the loose ball which is how he kicked two of his three goals in the first quarter. Ralphsmith seemed to lack a bit of composure after the first quarter just attacking the goals from very situation where he could have looked for his teammates more, still he would continue to show his exciting traits as he finished the game with 19 disposals, eight marks and kicked 3.3.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler again won plenty of the ball in defence providing important rebound for his side. Butler is one of the most consistent defenders in the NAB League having no trouble finding the ball and he proved that again and although it is mostly his attacking side that is highlighted he showed his improved defensive side with some strong tackles. Butler’s ball use was again good but still had some turnovers which he will need to better avoid if he is to get his side into a grand final. He finished the game with 25 disposals, five tackles and five rebound 50s.

#36 Oscar Lewis

Lewis played a different role for Sandringham playing mostly forward and despite not hitting the scoreboard still contributed well. The evasive left footer was energetic up forward both with and without the ball always looking to create with the ball and try and lock the ball in when he did not have it. Lewis finished the game with 12 disposals and seven tackles.

Calder:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Daniel Mott

The standout four quarter contributor from the Cannons who looked sore towards the end of the game but never stopped trying. He was frustrated with himself when he coughed up a handball on the deck to Dragons’ skipper Ryan Byrnes, but kept pushing hard and was one of the few ball winners from his side in the first term. He produced a lovely kick inside 50 to hit-up Mason Fletcher up one end in the third term, and intercepted a ball in the final quarter but his set shot just missed. He had another snap on goal late and it was bouncing through but touched by Corey Watts on the line.

#8 Sam Ramsay

After a quiet first term, Ramsay found the ball with ease, racking it up in the second half and becoming the main man with Mott tiring. He was working hard to try and create run and carry in the back half and open up the game. At times made mistakes going down the middle such as being chopped off by Byrnes late in the game, but he was doing his best to keep his side alive in the finals series. The biggest disposal winner from the Cannons and equal most on the ground, which was remarkable after only a few in the first quarter.

#21 Harrison Jones

Showed clean hands with a quick handball early in the second term, but the shot on goal from his teammate missed. He had a chance of his own from 55m out straight in front with a huge roost but just fell a few metres short and was rushed across the line. In the third term, Jones tried to create something going forward but ended up spraying the kick inside 50 out on the full, but the next kick was a low drilling kick inside 50. Jones also dropped back into defence at times, taking a nice intercept mark later in the game and switching play.

#38 Brodie Newman

The captain tried hard throughout the game in an often under-siege defence. He was having to back-up his teammates in the air and at ground level trying to maintain composure there, and was doing one percenters throughout the match. He went forward in the final term to try and spark something, doing well in a one-on-one contest against Watts to force a stoppage.

#43 Lachlan Gollant

His day started with winning a free kick for being thrown to the ground with his kick going out on the full, but it got better from there. Not a huge disposal game with just the 14, but his defensive work was very impressive. On a number of occasions he put his body on the line when he had to go and protected the ball drop zone, as well as applying shepherds and bumps when required. In one instant he won the ball, handballed off then shepherded for a teammate to run off half-back, then later on was tackled, had to cough up the ball quickly, but ran down an opponent with a terrific tackle.

#48 Nathan Stewart

Played out of defence and pushed up the ground to be solid overall in the scheme of things. He created some run and quick hands out of the back 50 and along the wing, including a great tackle on Jesse Castan on the wing to win a free kick.

Gippsland Power vs. Western Jets

By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland:

#2 Caleb Serong

It was another consistent four quarter effort from the highly rated Serong, who again topped the Gippsland disposal tally with 27. His stoppage work was a highlight as usual, as his clean hands and strength often gave Power first use with seven clearances. He kicked a lovely running snap goal in the second term, but he could have had an even greater scoreboard impact. He took a leaping overhead mark inside 50 during the third term, but didn’t connect well with the set shot. After keeping the ball in front from a stoppage in the last, he collected to run inside 50 and just missed on his left foot, but still showed the penetration he gets on his non-preferred. A double 50 metre penalty late was a lowlight, but he plays his best footy on the edge.

#4 Sam Flanders

Not as influential as the week before, but the explosive Flanders still produced some eye catching moments throughout the afternoon. His first half was a tad quiet, but was highlighted by a big torp that caused some panic inside 50. He got involved in the third quarter, escaping from a strong tackle at a stoppage, released to a teammate, before getting the ball back and kicking inside 50. His best moment came later in the third when he superbly read the drop of the ball off a pack to gather cleanly and run into an open goal. A solid 18 disposal outing.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder was back to his ball winning best for the semi-final, getting involved offensively and defensively. He set the tone in the first quarter with a heavy tackle in the defensive 50, before executing a rundown tackle later in the term. He was smart at the stoppages, reading the drop first as he often does and extracting to the advantage of his side. Baldi spread hard to the flanks and was used to on multiple occasions to deliver inside 50, with a composed left foot pass to Ryan Sparkes during the third term the best of them. He finished the day with 23 disposals to be one of many good contributors.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly’s excellent form continued on Saturday as he again took the game on with great intent from the back half. He took a great contested intercept mark in the opening minutes of the game, using smart body work to keep his opponent at bay. He was then on the end of multiple running plays, baulking around opponents and cutting through the corridor with dare before generally executing a pin point pass. He is Power’s go to man in the back half and he rarely lets his teammates down with those dual sided elite skills. Connolly finished with 19 disposals for the game of which most produced long metres to advantage.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Another Gippsland Vic Country representative who had a more profound impact in the second final, running up and down the wing and hitting the scoreboard. He produced a long metres gained movement in the second term and ran to dangerous positions. What I loved was that he created an option forward, hitting a lovely long set shot into the wind during the third term. Sparkes pushed inside 50 again in the final quarter, finding space in the right hand pocket and finishing well from a difficult position. As usual, he impacted aerial contests at every opportunity with courage and finished with a respectable 19 disposals to go with the brace of goals.

#16 Josh Smith

Again, it was extremely tough conditions for the talls, but Smith always finds a way to impact the contest. He threw his body around in the ruck and at ground level, on occasions looking hell bent on steamrolling through some of the Western midfielders. Some were smart enough to get out of the way, others were not so lucky. You can never question his endeavour, providing an excellent double effort on the wing in the first quarter. While he didn’t dominate, he managed to kick a nice running goal in the third term and played his role.

#17 Charlie Comben

Comben returned to the side after missing the Qualifying Final and was better than his disposal tally of eight suggested. He again provided moments that suggests why he is generating so much attention from a draft prospective. He started in the ruck and won his fair share of hit outs, before often resting forward to provide a target. He clunked an excellent overhead mark in the first quarter inside 50 and provided a second aerial highlight later in the third. At ground level he fought aggressively, laying a physical tackle on Daly Andrews in the first term. An excellent snapped goal under pressure in the final term capped off an underrated performance.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The medium forward had an ok day without setting the game alight. He started with a lovely hit up inside 50 in the opening quarter, but missed a gettable left foot snap shortly after by his lofty standards. It was a difficult wind to penetrate through though, as he kicked another snap across the face later in the day. He took a nice chest mark in the third quarter and kicked truly to finish with a goal and 15 disposals.

#37 Harrison Pepper

The Vic Country representative played arguably his best game of the season, picking off balls from half back for fun and rebounded with vigour. He read the drop of a pack ball brilliantly in the first term, in which he hit up a teammate inside 50 that started things off for him. A great smother, pick up and intercept in the second term earned an applause from the crowd, as he continued to find himself with the ball when it mattered. He was efficient and made really sound decisions, ending with an impressive 25 disposals and seven rebounds.

Western:

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was one of the best players on the ground, for either side. Starting at the centre bounces, Andrews was dynamic inside and out, providing an early match highlight by kicking a monster goal from outside 50 in the opening minutes. He was able collect cleanly on numerous occasions, sometimes getting his arms high to release or cut through traffic with ease and kick long. The 19-year-old continued to find the ball in the second half, despite Power holding control and he was able to kick a second goal in the final term. He finished with 26 disposals to end his campaign on an individual high.

#18 Emerson Jeka

The big key position forward made the most of his limited opportunities to be one of the Jets better performers. Playing on the miserly Tye Hourigan, Jeka had to fight for everyone one of his disposals. He took a Jonathon Brown style contested chest mark on the wing in the first half, coming over the top of the pack with presence. Not long after he marked on the lead, turned quickly and superbly hit Archi Manton lace out inside 50. Jeka hit the scoreboard in the final term for well earned snapped goal to end with 11 disposals.

#20 Darcy Cassar

The highly rated half back probably hasn’t had the finals series he would have hoped, but was still solid for the Jets on Saturday. With ball in hand he made good decisions and used it well, often getting in space behind the contest. Cassar struggled for options up the line and often had to retreat via handball to ensure his side held possession, finishing with 17 disposals.

Gippsland powers into final four with eight consecutive goals

GIPPSLAND Power has moved through to a NAB League Boys preliminary final after a 35-point win over Western Jets in a wind-swept game at Ikon Park today. After Western booted the first two goals of the game, Gippsland piled on the next eight to all but end the contested. A four goals to three final term saw the Jets win the last stanza, but it was not enough to get the victory.

The game started with Western stealing the early momentum thanks to a long-range bomb from Daly Andrews. The Jets’ overager launched a set shot from 55m which sailed home in the wet, before an Aaron Clarke snapped around his body and thanks to a great block from Archi Manton, the ball bounced through for a second major. By that stage, the Jets were 13 points up after six and a half minutes. But for the next 38 and a half minutes, could not seem to break the Power’s defensive structure as Gippsland began to get its running game going.

Harvey Neocleous booted a couple of majors either side of the break with a nice Caleb Serong snap in between off a loose ball. To end the half, Nicholas Proud booted a standard goal from a luckier free kick and then was unlucky not to be paid the mark in the square a moment later. The likes of Harrison Pepper (15 disposals), Leo Connolly (11) and Ryan Sparkes (11) were getting their hands on the ball coming out of defence and running along the wings, while Serong (11) was doing as he pleased working into the game with some impact up forward. For the Jets, Andrews had a case for best on ground with 13 disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s, doing a terrific job on Sam Flanders at the stoppages, restricting him to six touches in the first half. Emerson Jeka and Charlie Comben both looked up and about, with the Jets having an injury concern after Comben accidentally pushed Jets captain, Lucas Rocci into the behind post. The courageous leader came from the field and was okay playing on despite the heavy knock. At half-time, the margin was out to 13 after the Jets had scored the first 13 points of the game to lead by five at quarter time.

Gippsland continued on the dominance after the main break, booting four goals in the premiership quarter to race out to a 39-point lead. The Jets had the first scoring shot of the quarter and their first since the opening term with a bouncing snap from Manton, but soon the Power going going. After a missed snap from 15m out, Fraser Phillips hit the scoreboard with a great set shot after a nice play down the field involving Sparkes and Flanders. Speaking of Flanders, he turned his quiet first half around with a massive third term, picking up nine disposals and going berserk around the stoppages. Josh Smith also added his name to the goal kickers list with a snap around his body, before Sparkes nailed his own goal and Gippsland was in total control.

Both teams finished the game with a number of goals in the last term as Jeka snapped for the jets’ first in more than an hour but by then it was too late. Manton booted his first major after two attempts, while Andrews benefited from a frustrated Serong who gave away back-to-back 50m penalties and sent forward. But the Power were still booting majors themselves with goals to Sparkes and Comben from snaps, and Neocleous with his third running in from 10m out. With the game winding down, Manton doubled his goal total with a smart dribbler from the pocket. In the end it was Pepper with the most touches, ending with 24 as well as three marks, four tackles, four rebounds and three inside 50s, while Serong had 22 disposals, four marks and five tackles. Andrews was the standout for the Jets with 23 disposals, five tackles, six inside 50s and two goals, while Rocci (23 disposals, seven rebounds) and Lucas Failli (16 disposals, five rebounds) were also impressive.

GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 4.4 | 8.6 | 11.9 (75)
WESTERN JETS 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.3 | 6.4 (40)

GOALS:

Gippsland: H. Neocleous 3, R. Sparkes 2, C. Serong, N. Proud, F. Phillips, J. Smith, S. Flanders, C. Comben.
Western: D. Andrews 2, A. Manton 2, A. Clarke, E. Jeka.

BEST:

Gippsland: H. Pepper, R. Sparkes, C. Serong, S. Flanders, R. Baldi, C. Comben
Western: D. Andrews, L. Failli, L. Rocci, B. Cootee, B. Cootee, W. Kennedy

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Week 1 Finals

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

Northern Knights vs. Western Jets

By: Ed Pascoe

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

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

#11 Ryan Sturgess

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

#13 Sam Philp

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

#23 Nikolas Cox

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

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

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

#18 Emerson Jeka

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

#20 Darcy Cassar

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

Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

By: Ed Pascoe

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

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

#11 Mitch Mellis

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

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

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

#20 Connor Downie

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

#52 Tyler Sonsie

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

Sandringham:

#4 Finn Maginness

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

#5 Ryan Byrnes

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

#6 Miles Bergman

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

#13 Louis Butler

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

#29 Fischer McAsey

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

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Calder:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Daniel Mott

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

#8 Sam Ramsay

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

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

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

#21 Harrison Jones

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

#23 Cody Brand

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

Dandenong:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Hayden Young

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

#11 Ned Cahill

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

#20 Sam De Koning

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

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

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

#32 Blake Kuipers

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

#50 Lachlan Williams

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

Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Gippsland:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

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

#4 Sam Flanders

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

#6 Riley Baldi

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

#10 Leo Connolly

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

#15 Ryan Sparkes

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

#16 Josh Smith

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

#19 Fraser Phillips

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

#37 Harrison Pepper

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

Oakleigh:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Nick Bryan

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

#5 Trent Bianco

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

#8 Noah Anderson

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

#9 Will Phillips

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

#11 Matt Rowell

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

#25 Jamara Ugle-Hagan

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

#73 Cooper Sharman

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Finals Series preview: Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

GIPPSLAND POWER (2nd, 11-4) vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS (3rd, 11-4)
Sunday September 1, 1:30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Match Preview:

A preliminary final berth is up for grabs when Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers lock horns at Ikon Park on Sunday in the second qualifying final.

The Chargers scraped into this bout on the back of a stirring Round 17 comeback against Sandringham to qualify as the third-best team, with Gippsland also deciding its own fate to hold onto second spot with a win over Bendigo. With both teams finding themselves in precarious positions in those games, their ability to pull through in important moments will surely come to the fore again. Oakleigh’s top end has been a key part of its charge into the top three, but they had already found their groove over a month out from finals with five consecutive wins – including victories over Eastern and the aforementioned Sandringham. In the previous meeting between these two sides, Gippsland easily got the better of Oakleigh in a 46-point win, with the Power benefitting from having more of its representative top-end back in the line-up. The depth of both sides that had been tested during the middle part of the season held firm and will be required again here, given the evenness of big names spread across each line. Both teams will look to their twin towers up forward to lead in what may become a shootout, with Gippsland’s Josh Smith in good form, and Oakleigh’s Cooper Sharman and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan possessing rare ability inside 50. The holes, if any at all, appear for either side up the other end, meaning it could well become a game perfect for neutrals. The losses of Brock Smith and Charlie Comben are huge for the Power, though with Dylan Williams still missing for the Chargers, it means that it is only the ruck where bottom-ager Zach Reid will have a tough task up against Nick Bryan, with a chop out from Josh Smith.

Needless to say, getting on top in the midfield battle will go a long way to deciding this clash, with Oakleigh’s form last time out and wealth of big names putting them ahead on paper as it stands. Expect a highly contested but entertaining battle, with game-winners all over the park.

Prediction: Oakleigh by 7 points.

Key match-ups:

Sam Flanders vs. Noah Anderson

The two powerhouses of either side’s midfield, these two have flair in spades. Both enjoyed high-level national carnivals and have consistently proven their worth through midfield, while also providing little reminders of their abilities forward of centre – and they both may spend time inside forward 50. Anderson did so just last week with his game-winning effort against Sandringham to drag Oakleigh into this match-up, with Flanders hitting the scoreboard from midfield throughout the year. As the strong bodies of either engine room, a meeting between the two top 10 draft locks is likely.

Caleb Serong vs. Matt Rowell

Another mouth watering midfield match-up, Serong and Rowell are both tenacious and ridiculously consistent ball winners with great leadership. Vic Metro best and fairest Rowell was phenomenal in Round 17 with a game-high 34 disposals, while Serong is set for his first NAB League outing since Round 3 after an outstanding carnival for Vic Country where he was co-captain. The two are similar in size and love the contested side of the game, which makes them arguably their respective teams’ most valuable players and an ideal match-up for each other. While Anderson and Flanders may spend stints up forward, expect these two to remain in the middle all day.

Head to Head:

2019:

Gippsland Power – 1
Oakleigh Chargers – 0

Overall:

Gippsland Power – 15
Oakleigh Chargers – 22

Teams:

GIPPSLAND POWER

B: 36. M. Bentvelzen , 14. T. Hourigan, 37. H. Pepper
HB: 10. L. Connolly, 24. B. Maslen, 29. T. Rees
C: 15. R. Sparkes, 6. R. Baldi, 35. J. van der Pligt
HF: 21. M. McGarrity, 13. T. Fitzpatrick, 20. H. Neocleous
F: 7. S. Berry, 16. J. Smith, 19. F. Phillips
R: 22. Z. Reid, 4. S. Flanders, 2. C. Serong
Int: 1. R. Angwin, 30. T. Baldi, 26. C. Doultree, 8. B. McAuliffe, 9. W. Papley, 33. N. Prowd, 32. L. Williams
23P: 44. K. Robinson

In: N. Prowd, C. Serong, W. Papley, B. McAuliffe, C. Doultree
Out: B. Smith, C. Comben

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

B: 49. H. Mastras, 36. R. Valentine, 34. V. Zagari
HB: 5. T. Bianco, 52. N. Guiney, 15. K. Schreiber
C: 27. J. May, 6. J. Lucas, 9. W. Phillips
HF: 39. R. McInnes, 25. J. Ugle-Hagan, 61. C. Stone
F: 29. F. Macrae, 73. C. Sharman, 77. N. Stathopoulos
R: 4. N. Bryan, 8. N. Anderson, 11. M. Rowell
Int: 58. Y. Dib, 18. F. Elliot, 22. T. Graham, 12. L. Jenkins, 30. S. Tucker, 17. G. Varagiannis, 1. L. Westwood
23P: 2. B. Laurie

In: G. Varagiannis, S. Tucker, K. Schreiber, B. Laurie
Out: J. Capetola

NAB League Boys: Round 17 – Clubs put it all on the line in final round

THE big guns are back in action for the final regular season NAB League round, with the safety of third position up for grabs in what is arguably the game of the weekend between Sandringham and Oakleigh. As has become tradition, the six games will be played over two triple-headers, with Saturday’s all-metro games to be played in Werribee, and Sunday’s all-country fixtures in Bendigo.

WESTERN JETS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday August 17, 10:00am
Avalon Airport Oval

Both the Western Jets and Northern Knights will be looking to improve their ladder position heading into Wildcard Round as they open Saturday’s Werribee triple-header. The 8-6 Jets come in a game in front of the Knights but hold an inferior percentage, meaning a loss would see the two teams swap spots. Western’s Round 1 win over their weekend opponents is now the only factor separating the sides after 17 rounds, and the Knights will be keen to get one back over their metropolitan counterparts. They’ll have been chomping at the bit during their fortnight off after going down at home to Bendigo, with Western also coming in off a defeat. The Jets will be boosted by the return of Metro representative Darcy Cassar, who slots straight back into the lineup alongside Metro’s U17 Futures squad member, Lucas Failli. Northern has a couple of handy inclusions too, with Adam Carafa and Ewan Macpherson back after undergoing similar duties to Cassar and Failli, but key overage depth in Sunny Brazier and Oscar Simpson goes the other way among eight changes. Both sides have been difficult to predict in recent games but enjoyed solid mid-season runs, but it remains to be seen which of them will bounce back best from a minor skid. Should be a tight one if their previous meeting is anything to go by.

CALDER CANNONS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday August 17, 12:30pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The chance to finish clear on top looms for Eastern Ranges when they clash with the Calder, with the Cannons still able to go level on points with third. The Ranges have shown few weaknesses across their 14 games thus far, losing just three of them and boasting a percentage 14 per cent clear of their next best rival. Despite keeping on track in terms of clinching the minor premiership, Eastern has encountered a couple of scares in recent weeks to go with a loss to Oakleigh, scraping over the line by a collective margin of nine points against Murray and Dandenong. They’ll have to bring their best against Calder, who just keep finding a way to win on their streak of four victories. They have sured up their side for the task too, with a trio of Under 16s making way for PEGS representatives Harrison Jones, Harrison Minton-Connell, and Campbell Edwardes. Eastern’s answer to that is just as promising, with Jamieson Rossiter, Lachie Stapleton, and Connor Downie among six inclusions at the selection table. There should be no excuses from either side as they once again hit full strength, looking to cap off their seasons strongly heading into the business end. Expect Eastern’s consistency and all-round strength to shine through, but don’t be surprised to see Calder run very closely.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday August 17, 3:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The game of the round pits Sandringham against Oakleigh, with both sides looking to claim third spot and earn a week off heading into finals. As if the stakes weren’t high enough, a raft of big names are back after the close of the school football season as both sides have made at least 10 changes each. Seven Vic Metro guns are set to return for the Dragons, with the likes of Louis Butler, Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, and Charlie Dean adding so much class to each of Sandringham’s lines. Under 16 Vic Country co-captain Campbell Chesser is set to debut as 23rd man, with U17 Futures representative Archie Perkins also slotting in. If you thought those names were impressive, Oakleigh have done their best to show the Dragons up with Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson returning alongside skippers Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco, bottom-age guns Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae, and exciting ruckman Nick Bryan. 16-year-old Youseph Dib will also feature for his debut, and there would hardly be a better home-and-away game to do it in. With the sides so evenly matched and big names popping up across the field, this should be the highest quality NAB League game since… well, since their Round 3 encounter. The ledger is even at 1-1 after Oakleigh got one back on the Dragons in Round 12, so the grudge match should be a cracker.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Sunday August 18, 10:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Gippsland Power will be looking to lock away second spot when it opens Sunday’s all-country triple-header against Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The fixture is a repeat of the Round 3 clash between the two sides, when Gippsland handed the Pioneers their first loss of the season by 24 points. Since then, the two sides have embarked on very different paths; with Gippsland proving to be the standout country side as they sit second with a 10-4 record, while the loss sparked a six-game losing streak for the now 5-9 Pioneers. The Power side, littered with an impressive eight Vic Country representatives, looks superior on paper as the two teams near full strength, highlighted by the need to only make two changes coming into this game. Meanwhile, Bendigo is set to make at least four, with Vic Country midfield ace Thomson Dow a welcome addition to the engine room yearning for a bit of grunt. That area is one the Power will hope to get on top in, as well as up forward as the likes of representative talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben look to match up on smaller opponents. Count the Pioneers out at your own peril, but expect Gippsland to click into full gear when required.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday August 18, 12:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two sides with all but confirmed ladder positions in Geelong and Dandenong are set to do battle to close out their regular seasons, looking to end on a high note. While the Falcons are locked into last place, the Stingrays could move up or down one spot from eighth on the back of this weekend’s results. After an undefeated first eight rounds, the reigning premiers find themselves in a far less desirable situation on the back of their mid-late season slump – losing their next seven games. While a fixture against the bottom side which boasts just two wins may seem like a good opportunity to snap that run, a draw in the previous meeting between the two sides will not fill them with much confidence. Needless to say, that game will have the opposite effect on the much-improved Geelong side which has made some handy inclusions. Bottom-age gun Tanner Bruhn heads them, slotting straight back into the lineup after a long-term injury layoff alongside the likes of Gennaro Bove, Noah Gadsby and Charlie Lazzaro. That added midfield depth bodes very well for the Falcons considering Henry Walsh‘s form in the ruck, and given Dandenong’s Hayden Young is spending more time in the midfield. Dandenong’s changes see Cody Weightman and Lachie Williams inject some pace into the lineup, with 16-year-old Connor Macdonald another who could well excite forward of centre. With the Falcons buoyed by a win last time out, they should prove tricky opposition for Dandenong, who themselves will look to break through for a similar victory.

GWV REBELS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 18, 3:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two bottom-half teams are set to scrap it out to end the regular season, with the GWV Rebels and Murray Bushrangers taking on the honours in Bendigo. The Bushrangers have shown marked improvement in recent weeks after an indifferent start to the season, culminating in a 72-point thrashing of Western Jets last time out as they near full strength. The Rebels have shown similar signs of progression too, picking up three wins in their last four outings after a six-game losing run. Ladder position is a little less relevant in this clash as both sides can only move up or down one spot, with Murray a chance to slot into eight if things go their way, and GWV’s only way up to tenth also dependant on other results. Both sides have sought to add some bottom-age class to their lineups, with GWV adding Nick Stevens and Jack Tillig to the 23, while Murray has brought in Tillig’s Vic Country Under 17 teammate Zavier Maher, with over-ager Ben Kelly another solid option for the key position stakes. While Murray has been a touch more inconsistent, you can often bet on the Rebels being competitive and up for the fight, so this could be a tight one if they bring that intensity.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 14

IMPORTANT wins to Gippsland Power and Northern Knights have earned the sides three players each in our Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week for Round 14. The spread across the 24-player side was even in the round, with just the one player each from Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Falcons, while each of the other sides had two players apiece fitting into the team. There were a number of unlucky omissions who could not quite squeeze in, with the likes of Miles Bergman, Sam Ramsay and Jeremy Rodi among the most unlucky.

With plenty of Vic Metro and Vic Country players returning to their sides, quite a few have made their way back into our Team of the Week, led by Gippsland Power trio, Brock Smith, Josh Smith and Charlie Comben with the latter two impressive in the air. Also earning three players in the Team of the Week is Northern Knights, with captain Jackson Davies, Draft Central Player of the Week Josh D’Intinosante and midfielder Sam Philp. Their opponents on the day, Murray Bushrangers had two players back in the side with Lachlan Ash and Dylan Clarke both having an impact.

Heading to defence, Trent Bianco makes the side after a massive effort for Oakleigh Chargers, joined in the team by draft bolter Cooper Sharman who booted four goals in the tight win over Eastern Ranges. Eastern had two players in the side as well with midfielder Lachlan Stapleton and defender, Mihaele Zalac both impressing. Earlier in the day, Tasmanian defensive duo Matt McGuinness and Jake Steele kept their side in the contest against the Power and earned spots in our Team of the Week.

Also in defence is Angus Hanrahan who played possibly his best game at the level coming off half-back, in the side with key position utility and Vic Metro Most Valuable Player (MVP) Fischer McAsey who booted three goals in the win over Dandenong Stingrays. Hayden Young was back to his best for the Stingrays trying to will his side over the line and makes the team, while Bailey Schmidt was terrific through the ruck. Up at MARS Stadium, Mitch Martin showed class to boot two goals and make the side once again, along with teammate Cooper Craig-Peters. Charlie Sprague continued his consistent season with three goals in a losing Geelong Falcons outfit.

In the last remaining game, Calder Cannons’ Harrison Minton-Connell and Jake Sutton both slotted into the side after big games in the victory over Bendigo Pioneers, while for the Pioneers, Riley Ironside managed to earn a spot in the 24-player side.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 14

WITH top-end talent and some of the best Under 16 performers trickling into the NAB League, there were plenty of standouts across Round 14’s action. We cast an eye on each game, highlighting the performances of representative squad members and some exciting under-agers. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a typical big impact around the ground, winning a number of quick handball in contested situations and using his power to burst away. He had a quick snap early in the game but it was marked on the line, but capitalised on a set shot late in the match from 20m out. He read the taps well from his rucks and had a great running shot – though offline but looked good technically bursting through a stoppage in the third term. He fended off an opponent on the wing at one stage and was too strong in the clinches.

#6 Riley Baldi

Winning a lot of the footy early, showing clean hands but rushed kicks at times. Still involved and was one of the muddiest players on the day with and finished the game with a great goal in the dying minutes from a tight angle. He had a flying shot on goal midway through the third term but missed, and his highlight earlier in the match was an intercept mark at half-forward.

#12 Brock Smith

Had a big game after a few errors with his disposal early but his defensive work was top notch. His intercept marking saved a number of goals throughout the match as he patrolled the half-back line. He then snuck forward twice in the final term to kick a couple of cheeky ones himself to ice the game for his side. Time and time again he would spoil or drop back into the hole and mark in defensive 50 and just settle down the team, overcoming some earlier mistakes with his disposal to be really clean in the second half, barely missing a target.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Had a massive first term picking up double-digit disposals being everywhere for the Power, zipping around the contest. Had a quieter game after that, but still had some nice moments. Won a 50m penalty at half-back and had a shot on goal from forward 50 but rushed it a bit as he did after winning a free at half-forward and kicking inside 50. Also offered himself as an option around the ground and was just solid.

#16 Josh Smith

A dominant big man up forward, booting three goals and should have had a couple more with two posters from gettable shots. He continued to lead out throughout the game, booting his first goal from a tight angle just inside 50, and then his second from 25m out after a downfield free in the second quarter. His third came on the edge of half-time to hand the Power a nine-point lead. His two shots that hit the post came in the second half with one running around from the boundary and another from a set shot straight in front. Presented well throughout and caused headaches for the opposition.

#17 Charlie Comben

Best on ground for mine for his work rate and ability to have an impact in the middle or up forward. He showed good hands under pressure, a terrific leap and able to finish off his work in front of goal. He finished with three majors, but like Smith could have had more, hitting the post from a gettable shot. His first goal was a tight angle set shot from the boundary, and then took a towering mark in the goal square over a smaller opponent in the third term and put it through after he had hit the post from the same angle but slightly further out just moments earlier. Less than 30 seconds into the final term, Comben booted the goal of the day from the boundary on the run and put in motion Gippsland’s big final quarter. His ruck work was first class, with the only concern in his game coming late when he hit his head hard and had to be helped off in a neck brace with just two minutes left on the clock.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Was okay without being outstanding, having a few nice plays around the ground. Often pushed up to the wing and won some touches up the ground, and used the ball well when having time and space. There were a couple of moments where he did a bit too much, getting caught after trying to shake off a tackler, but he stood up late in the game to kick the sealer and put his team 30 points up early in the fourth. He almost had a highlight reel moment running hard in the final term, getting caught and receiving it back but then rushing the shot on goal and hitting the behind post.

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked really hard in the first term winning a number of touches in close and getting it out to runners on the outside. He had a lovely kick under pressure on the wing to hit up a teammate close to the line. Had a quieter second half but was still present around the ground.

#4 Will Peppin

A touch of class in the forward half, winning a great hardball get under pressure in defensive 50 and getting it out to a teammate, then put his side back in front in the second term booting a running goal from 30m. Has good skills by hand or foot in wet conditions underfoot.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Absolutely unbelievable considering his stats sheet might not look as impressive as past weeks, but he was everywhere. His impact across the ground was influential, kicking a goal early in the game in the second term when they needed someone to stand up, and then had an impact in the middle. Stayed in defence in the second half, saved multiple goals from run-down tackles and then took a number of intercept marks – including a brave grab right in front of the leading Josh Smith. He continually ran back to help out his defence and then dropped into the hole, creating run and carry out of defence. He was best-on for Tasmania in my eyes, playing a crucial role on the day.

#8 Jake Steele

Similar to McGuinness, Steele was enormous in defence, not winning a heap of it, but doing the defensive things right. He marked or found the ball on the last line, lapping it up with clean hands and disposing of it well out of defence. He showed great defensive work to cleanly grab the ball first touch and get it away so a spill could not cause a goal to the opposition. The next moment he punched a ball across the line to save a shot on goal.

#13 Sam Collins

Showed some promising signs, booting Tasmania’s fifth goal midway through the second term after a 50m penalty to put them nine points up. He had a powerful clearance out of the middle not long after and provided a marking target around the ground for his side.

Eastern Ranges vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Peter Williams

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Was one of Eastern’s best throughout the day, particularly early on when the Ranges got going in the first term. Stapleton showed good evasion at half-back to evade a would-be tackler and keep the ball moving, running hard around the ground to win the footy. He had a terrific long left foot kick to the middle of the forward 50 and showed courage in the second term to fly back and have an impact on an aerial contest in defence and force a behind from a shot on goal. Continued to apply great defensive pressure as well as clean hands in close.

#20 Connor Downie

Does not need to win much of it to win an impact, but seemed to do some nice things in each quarter of the game. He had a clean pick-up early in the match to kick long inside 50 to set uo Jordan Jaworski for his second goal of the day midway through the first term. He has a lovely kicking technique and just makes things happen when going inside 50, showing class.

#23 Zak Pretty

Another solid game from the inside midfielder who like Stapleton, would drop back into defence and help out. He is a quick thinker who reacts to a loose ball quicker than most and was able to rack up a number of clearances and get the ball forward. Pretty worked hard on the inside and was able to fire out handballs to running midfielders on the outside.

#46 Tyreece Leiu

Just the three touches on debut but you can tell he has that bit of X-factor because his first kick was a lovely low dart delivery into a teammate leading out. He then won a free kick for a great tackle inside 50 in the first term and kicked truly for a great goal from the set shot.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

Like Leiu not huge disposal numbers but made his presence felt with some nice ball use around the ground on debut. He showed great vision to use the ball effectively by foot and was a quick thinker with ball-in-hand, not panicking under pressure.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Best on ground in the Chargers’ win and was absolutely sensational throughout the four quarters. No one went near him in the first term as he racked up seven touches in eight minutes then had to have a spell from suffering leather poisoning. He used his touch of class to keep the ball moving quickly, repelling from half-back to half-forward, and showed strength in the second term, shaking off a would-be tackler and kicked well down the ground whilst under pressure. He showed his class and was a rock in defence, dropping back into the hole and marking time and time again, mopping up for the Chargers and repelling opposition defence. He took a crucial intercept mark in the last minute to slow the play down when Eastern was attacking.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

An unheralded effort in the midfield, Lucas won a truckload of the ball around the stoppages, firing off quick handballs to rack up 15 disposals and in the first half and keep his side moving down the ground. He predominantly won the footy in the middle and was spreading out to the wings to provide and option and break up the play with short, sharp disposals. Won a massive one-on-one in the middle in the final term when Oakleigh was charging forward to stop Eastern from starting a counter attack.

#9 Will Phillips

The bottom-ager was ever-present in the midfield using his strength and power to move through stoppages and try and get the ball free to teammates on the outside. His kick-to-handball ratio was even this week which was important given his role is often handball-friendly. In this game Phillips was able to gain some separation on his opponents and kick the ball long, having a flying shot on goal early in the game but missing to the right, and later was able to fire away a quick handball to draw a second opponent and give his teammate a free run through the middle unimpeded.

#23 Dylan Williams

The stats do not tell the full story because Williams played an important role and looked ever dangerous inside 50. His biggest moment came when he kicked the sealing goal late in the game, dribbling it home from the pocket after working his opponent under the ball and goaling. His bodywork to win a one-on-two contest in the first term in the forward pocket was important, and not long after he intercepted a handball inside 50 but missed to the left with his shot. He missed another chance in the second term to the left, but then set up a teammate with a perfect kick to a leading target inside 50. He booted his first goal with a great set shot late in the second term to put his side in front and showed class with deft touches that might not count as a disposal, but were crucial in keeping the ball live at times and his teammates in contention to score.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Has a bit of the Sam Sturt’s about him in the sense that he looks raw, but very exciting. After turning his first kick over, Sharman used the ball effectively pushing up to the wing and then doubling back inside 50, finishing with four goals, all from general play. He has great special awareness and vision to be able to hit-up targets off very little time and space, and can do damage with ball in hand in the forward half. A creative player who can also hit the scoreboard, and took a great towering mark despite front-on contact friendly fire in the third term. Clean and classy, and has the composure not to blaze away, and rather set up teammates forward of the ball.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The tough midfielder was again at his damaging best, putting in another consistent effort for the Dragons, rounded out by 24 disposals, seven tackles and six inside 50s. Byrnes’ body of work over the year is placing him as one of the most consistent players in the draft pool and rarely plays a bad game. Drove Sandringham’s midfield alongside Hanrahan and was a reason the Dragons prevailed.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

The wingman was one of the dominant players of the round, capping off a superb performance with 35 disposals, 14 marks, eight rebound 50s and a classy goal. Was absolutely everywhere in the first half, racking up 22 touches and ball-winning showcased a ball winning ability that hasn’t been seen until now. His recent VFL experience with Sandringham was showcased, and Hanrahan looked a class above his peers, using his speed, electric ball use and smarts to great effect.

#29 Fischer McAsey

The backman’s draft stocks continue to rise on the back of another sound performance, this time up forward for the Dragons. Used as an intercepting key defender for Vic Metro in the Championships, McAsey slotted three goals for the day in a display that highlighted his around the ground capabilities. Had a consistent aerial presence all day and looked threatening as a forward, finishing with 10 marks and generating strong lead patterns and worked well with the smaller forwards. Took a fantastic pack mark from an errant entry in the first quarter, eventually going back and slotting the shot from 40m out. Started the third quarter on fire, slamming home 2.1 which was testimony of his ability to be a game breaker for the Dragons.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

The potential top 10 pick was capped off another sound performance with 24 disposals, five rebounds and five inside 50s. Gave Dandenong life in the last quarter, slotting a long-range goal on the run to put them 21 points down and mount a late surge. Young’s disposal efficiency is what separates him from other midfielders and combing this with his pace, which was on show today, makes him a compelling prospect. Outbodied his Sandringham opponent in the second quarter to take a good contested mark, only to miss the straight forward shot which would have been disappointed him.

#11 Ned Cahill

Played a role further up the ground to win the bulk of his touches in the contest. He won a number of clearances and whilst his kicking was rushed at times, showed versatility in playing through the midfield. Cahill had the most centre clearances of any player on the field, and while his greatest impact is inside 50, no doubt his ability to move through an inside role would have been a big tick for those watching on.

#20 Sam De Koning

The agile big man was solid for the Stingrays with 15 disposals and four rebounds. Playing in a largely defensive role, De Koning did not spend much time in the ruck for the game. Moves well for a big man and has good skills for a 200cm athlete.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#5 Cam Wild

Wild’s work-rate remained consistently high and he did his best to provide plenty of run and carry through the middle of the ground. He was a bit rushed with his disposal at times, but he always got the ball moving forward. Although he did not have the biggest game possession-wise, but still caught the eye with his pressure around the contest

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash started the match up forward and was involved in the first passage of play inside 50. After the Bushrangers fell 30 points behind in the first term, it was Ash who stood up for the home side, with a terrific 50m goal after the quarter-time siren. He moved into the guts in the second term and was very dangerous with ball in hand. His speed also came in handy around the ground, constantly finding a way to escape congestion, finding space in areas that he should not have been allowed. Ash kicked his second goal of the game in the fourth quarter after tucking the ball under his arm and burning off his opponent with his electric speed through the middle of the ground. He was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day and was impressive yet again, finishing with over 20 disposals and two goals.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft is a genuine in-and-under, fierce footballer. He has a good burst of speed and always seems to have a big impact both defensively and offensively – especially when he has minutes through the midfield. He was involved in the first scoring play of the second term when he drove a long ball inside 50 from a centre clearance. Chalcraft was able to use his strength to his advantage on the day, breaking numerous tackles before disposing of the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. Just love the way he goes about his footy.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Kicked a crumbing goal in the first 30 seconds of the second term, which swung the momentum of the game back in the Bushranger’s favour. He played in all areas of the ground, showcasing that he can have an impact in any position he’s instructed to play in. Ball-use was again a highlight of his game, along with his speed and vision. Another consistent performance from Boyer, finishing with 20 disposals and one goal.

#20 Elijah Hollands

Hollands played through the Bushrangers’ midfield, as well as up forward where he was a regular target. Hollands had a big impact early on when he spoiled a marking contest after a poor kick-in from the Knights, resulting in Murray’s first goal of the game. He had an electric 10 or so minutes in the first term, where he provided spark and x-factor around the contest. Holland’s forward craft is one of his best attributes and it was evident during the match, with the talented bottom-ager finding plenty of space across half-forward.

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

Davies played across half-back and was immediately involved when he took a nice intercept mark from a ball delivered inside 50 by the Bushrangers. He was reliable with ball in hand and was very patient before making his final decision by foot. Davies controlled the backline on the day and did what he pleased. He played loose and was able to set up plenty of effective passages of play from behind. Intercept marking was a real standout. Davies had a game-high 15 marks.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante presented strongly, booting his first major of the day after a brilliant kick from 45m out. He was able to use his speed to break away from his opponent before successfully kicking his second goal of the quarter. D’Intinosante had his third goal of the quarter after crumbing a marking contest perfectly and then dribbling through an easy goal. Just 30 seconds later, D’Intinosante snapped his fourth of the quarter from a tight angle. It was one of the best first-quarter performances of the year and the Bushrangers seemed to have no way of stopping the electric forward. He was awarded a free-kick in the forward pocket at the beginning of the second quarter and once again, converted his set-shot. He had five goals in half an hour of footy! He was a little quieter in the second half, but his first two quarters cannot go unrecognised. One of the main reasons the Knights got the four points.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess was involved in the first goal for the Knights when he handballed it to teammate Anthony O’Sullivan in open space, who then went on to dribble the ball through the big sticks. He competed strongly in the air, taking nine marks on for the match. Sturgess had three shots on goal but only ended up with one major. However, Sturgess definitely showed off his versatility by having an impact at both ends of the ground. A really good game where his reading of the play and sticky hands were on display.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#19 Ben Worme

It was a solid outing from Worme, performing his usual role off half-back and serving reliably. He linked up well early with fellow flanker James Schischka, often kicking away on the outside. He accumulated well in important areas, and began to take the game on more as it wore on. That culminated in a big run forward to get the hand-off at half-forward and slam home a goal on the run. You know what you are going to get from Worme, and he has enjoyed a consistent month.

#20 James Schischka

The Pioneers’ defensive mainstay endured an up and down day, involved in the action but unable to get his usual running game going and selling teammates into trouble by hand at times. Still, Schischka was strong in one-on-one duels across half-back and showed better composure when running off the last line, competing well both in the air and on ground level. His game could be summed up with one of his last plays in the final term, where he made a terrific tackle to win the ball on the defensive arc, but wheeled around and turned the ball straight over to gift Calder a goal.

#22 Josh Treacy

The enigmatic tall made a good return to the Bendigo side, playing a strong hand in a few different roles. Starting forward, Treacy used his frame to edge his opponent under the ball one-on-one while also hitting up well on the lead. He was not afraid to throw his weight around at ground level either, running straight through an opponent after making a handy spoil from behind on the wing. His timing on the lead when Bendigo broke from stoppages continued to prove smart, and he would eventually make amends for a couple of earlier set shot misses with a free kick goal in the final term. Also popped up with some marks in defensive 50, rucked up forward, and was even thrown on-ball at a centre bounce.

#26 Noah Walsh

Has come into the side in the middle period of the season and provided a bit of spark, this time through midfield and up forward. Donning his helmet, Walsh buzzed around at ground level to win the ball cleanly in congestion, showing good tenacity going both ways. The bottom-ager read the taps well, with one snare resulting in a goal from a forward stoppage in the third term. He would go on to play a bit more forward, hitting up and marking strongly on a couple of occasions, while lowering his eyes well to find targets when running from further afield.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles again popped up in patches with glimpses of his eye-catching dash through the middle. While he found the going tough around the ball with a few fumbles, the Vic Country representative fared better when receiving on the outer and being given the license to put his foot down. He made a couple of those typical daring sprints through the corridor in the second half, with one almost leading to a Pioneers goal.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

It was a steady return for the leading Calder prospect, playing as a constant through midfield. He was often first to the drop of the ball at stoppages, but was also pushed under the rucks at times which hampered his ability to find the pill. When he did latch onto it, Mott’s hands out of traffic were terrific, drawing opponents and dishing off to runners to good effect. Mott also began to get on his bike as the game went on, stringing a nice one-two play together from the centre bounce to go inside 50 and getting a couple of handball receives as we’re used to seeing.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks. His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on. Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and willingness to break tackles.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay has strung together a massive three weeks in terms of ball-winning, racking it up through midfield and adding strings to his bow. He started off with a couple of nice handballs out from stoppages before providing his more typical ploy of wheeling away from traffic onto his left side and thumping the ball forward. He worked tirelessly to do so repeatedly throughout the game, hardly losing pace and penetration by foot. Ramsay also lowered his eyes well to find Harrison Jones and Samuel Paea on the lead on the end of his runs, showcasing that outside class he provided off half-back earlier in the year. Capped off his game with a goal from close range after finding space inside 50.

#21 Harrison Jones

While he is yet to truly tear a game apart, Jones certainly looks like he has the potential to do so. In his first Cannons outing since Round 3, Jones moved well to get separation on the lead – starting with a mark and set shot goal from 40m in the first term. His work up the ground was handy, plucking a nice grab up on the wing in the following term and tackling well to follow up a pass which had fallen well short of him. Jones added a second after reading the ball well in flight to mark from the side deep inside 50 and slot home the resultant shot.

#29 Campbell Edwardes

The bottom-ager is a dynamic type, this time playing on the wing and again proving clean in the air, off the deck, and in disposal. He does not win massive amounts of ball, but Edwardes catches the eye with most of his touches, starting with a nicely judged mark from behind his opponent inside 50 and slotting Calder’s first goal of the game. He popped up again in the first term with a clean pick up and fend off, going on to provide a presence at ground level with pressure and tackling. Edwardes also positioned well behind the ball when Calder entered attacking 50, taking an intercept mark in the second term to lock the ball in, but would somewhat fade out of the game.

#38 Brodie Newman

Another to return from Vic Metro duties, Newman was solid in his usual defensive post. He immediately got back into the rhythm of intercepting and rebounding, but did get himself into trouble early on as he looked to load up on his right side with limited room. Newman’s positioning and reading of the play was good, playing like a key back while also getting on his bike with ball in hand. Will be important in the back-end of Calder’s season.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#6 Archie Hilderbrandt

Proved a handy addition in his first game since Round 9, keeping busy wherever her went. The bottom-ager started forward and was involved at the fall of the ball in Geelong’s front half, while also working hard to get out the back and in space on the counter. Hilderbrandt thought he had a goal in the second term but his snap was touched off the boot, and he later moved into the midfield where he got on the end of some deft Henry Walsh taps to break from congestion at speed – twice at the centre bounces.

#12 Noah Gribble

Has now put together a consistent few weeks, with this arguably his best outing for the season. Gribble came into the game early with some work down back, including a good couple of flies to intercept in defensive 50. He went on to win a good mix of ball at ground level on the outer of stoppages, as well as in general play. The bottom-ager was a constant accumulator and swept up well wherever he went, eventually finding his way into the back half again to help out in sweeping the ball away with some carry.

#36 Charlie Sprague

The shining light up forward for Geelong, Sprague booted his side’s first two goals of the game in an important second term effort. As a more mature body, the over-ager was strong in one-on-one contests – working well to mark up the ground and stand tall deep inside 50. His first goal came after reading the ball best from the back and marking, going on to convert the set shot. His second would come in a similar fashion, bustling through from behind another two opponents to mark and goal. He missed a couple more chances and had one touched off the boot, but Sprague would cap his day with a well finished snap after spilling the mark in the final term. Now has three-consecutive three-goal hauls in the NAB League.

#40 Jesse Clark

Returning to the side after a solid campaign for Vic Country, Clark assumed his usual role in patrolling defensive 50. The Geelong co-captain was a constant outlet option in the back half and used the ball well by foot despite not always breaching the GWV press. He would go on to station himself further afield to lock the ball in Geelong’s front half and did so to good effect before popping up again in defensive 50 as he looked to create early in the final term.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Fleeton is another bottom-ager the Falcons staff are high on, and he continues to put his hand up in an intercepting role across half-back. His early work included a few repelling kicks as GWV made a quick start, before eventually getting his aerial game going. Fleeton positioned well on the wing to intercept a long Rebels ball forward in the second term, repeating the act with a terrific pack mark to show his clean hands and reading of the ball in flight. Looks to have been a good find in the middle-part of the year.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

It was a handball-happy game from Mahony, who made most of his impact around the stoppages. His handballs to teammates on the outside proved handy time and time again, using rare vision and clean use to create passages forward for others. Mahony also caught the eye with a couple of neat pieces of evasion, shrugging off and turning his opponents shortly after gathering the loose ball on the move. Was a constant through midfield, adding some class but not collecting massive numbers.

#7 Mitch Martin

The forward/midfielder continues to find both the ball and the goals, proving a dangerous mover as the game wore on. Martin created a bit of spark with a couple of handball chains on the outside, carving up the wing and releasing long by foot. His work forward was also handy, finding separation on the lead just inside 50 and booting his first goal just before half time. His second came in the final term as he got out the back at half-forward before marking and coolly finishing on the run from 45m. Was another to add quality to an end-to-end game.

#13 Jay Rantall

Continuing his role as a centre bounce constant, Rantall was superb when latching onto the ball on the forward side of the stoppages. Did not end up with the big numbers we have become used to, but made each one count this time around with some deft handballs and booting a couple of sensational goals. His first was a classy finish from 50m on the run after arching his back to burn an opponent, and the second was another nice finish at full flight from closer in. Is a steady riser and arguably the Rebels’ best.

#41 Fraser Marris

The bottom-ager was solid forward of centre, pitching in with a couple of nice touches in the first term. One was a set shot goal after earning a free kick inside 50, and another was a strong mark overhead. Marris showed similar form to intercept one-on-one on the wing in the second term, while also bursting aggressively through traffic. He paired that aggression with a neat kick to Mitch Martin inside 50, assisting his goal.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Under 16 Vic Country representative showed promise on his NAB League debut, thrown straight into the ruck before spending most of his time up forward. While he did not find the goals, Rentsch almost did just that from a shot off the deck after a strong bit of bodywork one-out in the square. He went on to find space well up on half-forward and had a particularly clean half-volley take in the last term to show his athleticism.

NAB League Boys Round 14 wash-up: Chargers bridge gap to the top

THE NAB League Boys top four has again seen change after Round 14’s action, with Oakleigh toppling Eastern to bridge the gap to first place. Meanwhile, Sandringham snapped its losing streak to slot back into fourth, and Calder again won to sit percentage out of the Dragons’ spot.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.1 | 7.3 | 8.7 | 14.10 (94)
TASMANIA DEVILS 2.4 | 5.5 | 6.7 | 6.7 (43)

GOALS:
Gippsland: J. Smith 3, C. Comben 3, B. Smith 2, H. Pepper, F. Phillips, R. Baldi, M. McGarrity, S. Flanders, T. Baldi.
Tasmania: W. Peppin, J. Menzie, J. Chaplin, M. McGuinness, O. Burrows-Cheng, S. Collins.

BEST:
Gippsland: H. Pepper, C. Comben, M. Hawkins, J. Smith, T. Baldi, B. Smith
Tasmania: J. Chaplin, J. Steele, L. Deegan, R. Mansell, L. Gadomski, M. McGuinness

Gippsland Power came away with the points against Tasmania, but not without a titanic struggle for three quarters. The sides traded blows and at one stage, Tasmania lead by as much as nine points in the second term, before Gippsland piled on 11 of the last 12 goals of the game to run out comfortable winners. The top four side had plenty of contributors with talls, Charlie Comben and Josh Smith teaming up through the ruck and up forward booting three goals apiece, whilst captain Brock Smith snuck forward twice in the last term to hit the scoreboard. Comben and Smith were among the best on the day, while Sam Flanders was busy on the inside, and twins, Riley and Trent Baldi would have headed home with the muddiest jumpers. For Tasmania, it was the work of Matt McGuinness and Jake Steele in defence that held up for three quarters, whilst Oliver Davis, Rhyan Mansell and Joseph Chaplin were all busy on the day.

EASTERN RANGES 4.2 | 6.2 | 9.5 | 11.9 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 0.2 | 6.6 | 8.10 | 12.11 (83)

GOALS:
Eastern: J. Jaworski 4, B. Tennant 3, T. Leiu, J. Tilly, S. Woodward, T. Weir.
Oakleigh: C. Sharman 4, D. Williams 2, T. Graham, N. Stathopoulos, G. Varagiannis, A. Tassell, A. Lukic, T. Lovell.

BEST:
Eastern: L. Stapleton, M. Zalac, B. Tennant, W. Parker, Z. Pretty, J. Hourihan
Oakleigh: K. Schreiber, C. Sharman, T. Bianco, J. Lucas, W. Phillips, L. Westwood

In the second game of the double header, it looked to be a blowout early in the match with Eastern Ranges piling on four goals to zero in the opening term and had six on the board to Oakleigh’s one midway through the second term. The Chargers then roared into action, piling on five consecutive goals to hit the front by the main break. In a see-sawing second half, both sides looked to have a stake in the win, but it was not until Dylan Williams booted a late goal in the final term – as he had done on the eve of half-time, for Oakleigh to be home. While Williams finished with two majors, Cooper Sharman was dominant with four straight goals and 18 touches, looking ever-dangerous. Trent Bianco had a day out with 34 touches and 10 rebounds, camping off half-back and keeping the ball moving forward, while Jeromy Lucas and Will Phillips were among the big ball winners for the Chargers. For Eastern, it was a rare loss for the top-of-the-table side, but Jordan Jaworksi finished with four goals – three in the first half, while Beau Tennant booted three. Lachlan Stapleton was the standout midfielder in the absence of partner-in-crime Mitch Mellis, while Wil Parker and Zak Pretty were also productive in the midfield.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 5.4 | 6.7 | 10.9 | 10.9 (69)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.2 | 5.3 | 6.4 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:
Sandringham: F. McAsey 3, J. Bowey, K. Yorke, M. Bergman, A. Hanrahan, L. Carrigan, B. Krongold, T. Murray.
Dandenong: A. Williamson 3, H. Young 2, L. Williams 2, E. Cahill, B. Nyuon.

BEST:
Sandringham: A. Hanrahan, J. Lloyd, F. McAsey, M. Bergman, T. Milne, R. Byrnes
Dandenong: B. Schmidt, B. Nyuon, L. Goonan, L. Williams, H. Young, S. De Koning

A final-quarter Stingray attack was not enough to take down Sandringham in Sunday’s first fixture, with the Dragons edging home by seven points on home turf. It was a battle between two quality sides on losing streaks, with the Dragons snapping their three-game slide on the back of a four-goal to nil third term. Dandenong would respond with three goals of their own while keeping the home side scoreless in the last, but it proved too little, too late as the Dragons held on for victory. All Australian centre half-back Fischer McAsey showed his versatility to lead his side’s goal kicking (three), with fellow goal getter Angus Hanrahan finding plenty of the ball (35 disposals, 14 marks) to be named best afield and earn a Draft Central Player of the Week nomination. The Dragons’ depth again shone through, while the top-end likes of Miles Bergman and Ryan Byrnes enjoyed solid days out. For the Stingrays, Hayden Young made a successful NAB League return with 24 disposals and two goals, matched for majors by fellow Country representative Lachlan Williams, while the tall trio of Bailey Schmidt, Bigoa Nyuon and Sam De Koning combined for 10 marks to have an influence in the air. The win puts Sandringham back into fourth, while Dandenong continues to drop – down to eight now after a fifth consecutive loss. The return of some representative guns should bode well for them towards the back-end of the season though, with another tough assignment against Gippsland up next. Sandringham faces a trip to Tasmania for Round 15, looking to claw back towards the top.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 4.5 | 7.8 | 10.12 (72)
CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 7.6 | 11.9 | 13.14 (92)

GOALS:
Bendigo: W. Wallace 2, J. Ginnivan 2, M. Lias, J. Treacy, B. Worme, J. Rodi, A. Gundry, N. Walsh.
Calder: J. Sutton 3, H. Minton-Connell 2, N. Gentile 2, H. Jones 2, J. Cardillo, S. Ramsay, M. Fletcher, C. Edwardes.

BEST:
Bendigo: J. Rodi, R. Ironside, N. Walsh, S. Conforti, J. Treacy, A. Gundry
Calder: J. Sutton, S. Ramsay, H. Minton-Connell, N. Gentile, C. Brown, C. Edwardes

Half of the Calder Cannons’ goal kickers found multiples in their 20-point win over Bendigo Pioneers in what was an end-to-end affair. After giving up a quarter time buffer, the Cannons came out firing with 8.8 to Bendigo’s 4.5 during the second and third terms to set up their fifth win in six games. Busy forward Jake Sutton led the way in front of the big sticks with a game-high three goals, while Harrison Minton-Connell (34 disposals), Ned Gentile, and Harrison Jones each booted two. Sam Ramsay (28 disposals, nine marks) and Curtis Brown (20 disposals, six rebound 50s) continued their consistent seasons, while Metro representatives Daniel Mott and Brodie Newman enjoyed steady returns to Cannons colours. Ben Worme and Noah Walsh led the disposal count for Bendigo with 20 apiece, but it was Jeremy Rodi‘s 19 touches and one goal which proved most damaging. James Schischka (18 disposals, three marks) combined well with Worme off half-back, while talls Josh Treacy and Aaron Gundry impressed around the ground. The Pioneers look likely to rely on a big Wildcard Round to enter the finals hunt after the loss, while Calder is right in the mix at 8-5 to sit sixth as it stands. The Cannons travel again to face GWV next time out, while Bendigo will face Northern in its Round 15 fixture.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 3.5 | 6.8 | 10.12 (72)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 7.2 | 10.6 | 11.9 | 15.9 (99)

GOALS:
Murray: L. Ash 2, J. Rachele 2, J. Boyer, W. Chandler, C. Byrne, J. Chalcraft, C. Wilson, Z. Maher.
Northern: J. D’Intinosante 6, L. McMahon 3, C. Barbera 2, D. Wilmot, S. Brazier, R. Sturgess, A. O’Sullivan.

BEST:
Murray: L. Ash, C. Wilson, D. Clarke, J. Rachele, W. Chandler, J. Hillary
Northern: J. D’Intinosante, J. Davies, S. Philp, S. Brazier, R. Sturgess, N. Kitchell

The battle for eighth place went the way of the Northern Knights on Sunday, as the visitors held firm for a 27-point win over Murray in Wangaratta. It was the Knights’ fourth consecutive victory, built on the back of a gallant 10-goal to three first half. While the Bushrangers had the better of the second half, they could only manage to get back to within just under five goals after trailing by as much as 43 points before the main break. The star of the day was arguably Northern’s Josh D’Intinosante, who is thriving in a more forward-oriented role to make it 10 goals in his last two games after bagging 6.1 from 18 disposals. Bottom-agers Liam McMahon and Cooper Barbera were the Knights’ other multiple goal kickers, with skipper Jackson Davies fantastic in defence, and the pair of Sunny Brazier and Ryan Sturgess showing their versatility in multiple roles. For the Bushrangers, Lachlan Ash gave a reminder of his importance to the side with a leading hand and two goals, with Under 16 Division 1 MVP Josh Rachele also booting two on debut. Cameron Wilson and Dylan Clarke were others to stand up in the loss, with the Bushrangers now six points adrift of eighth and set to face Western next week. Meanwhile, Northern now jump into seventh and will host Bendigo at Preston City Oval in Round 15.

GEELONG FALCONS 0.2 | 2.4 | 4.11 | 6.11 (47)
GWV REBELS 4.2 | 6.5 | 8.6 | 12.10 (82)

GOALS:
Geelong: C. Sprague 3, J. Sarcevic, C. Karpala, K. Rayner.
GWV: N. Caris 4, M. Martin 2, M. Jorgensen 2, J. Rantall 2, F. Marris, M. Herbert.

BEST:
Geelong: C. Fleeton, C. Sprague, A. Hildebrandt, C. Ham, N. Gribble, O. Barrow
GWV: C. Craig-Peters, J. Dwyer, M. Martin, J. Rantall, M. Burgess, R. Polkinghorne

GWV got the better of the Geelong Falcons in a bottom two clash, seeing the Rebels surge 10 points clear of their weekend opponents in twelfth spot. The Falcons assumed the responsibility of hosting at GMHBA Stadium with the Cats playing their home game in Melbourne, but finding the goals proved a less than familiar task. After GWV broke out to a four-goal head start in the first term and an eventual 25-point half time lead, Geelong missed a host of chances to claw back into the game with 2.7 in the third quarter not enough to bridge the gap. It meant GWV would coast away to victory – its fourth for the year. As has been the case, Geelong’s bottom-agers continued to show promise as the Falcons look towards next year, with Noah Gribble, Cameron Fleeton, and Archie Hilderbrandt all impressive. Co-captain Jesse Clark also chimed in with his usual role, while Charlie Sprague was the shining light up forward with three goals. For the winning Rebels, Country representative trio Mitch Martin, Jay Rantall (both two goals), and Liam Herbert were terrific, but Cooper Craig-Peters was recognised as their side’s best while Nick Caris booted a game-high four goals. Next week sees the Rebels return to MARS Stadium in a bout against Calder, while the Falcons will have a week off the refresh and regroup.

NAB League Boys Round 14 preview: U16 talent hits the big time

AFTER a week off for all but two of the NAB League Boys sides, the competition recommences full-time action with a double-header at Box Hill City Oval in Saturday’s lone fixtures. A top-four clash between Eastern and Oakleigh firms as the game of the round, with the Geelong and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) clash set to have an impact down the other end of the ladder. Watch for the debuts of some of the nation’s best Under 16s too, fresh off their National Championship campaigns.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Saturday July 20, 11:45am
Box Hill City Oval

A near full-strength Gippsland Power unit will look to pile the pain on Tasmania when they do battle at Box Hill City Oval to kick off Round 14. Both sides are coming off losses, but the Devils have faced a few more challenges over the last four weeks in a string of losses. Results aside, their usual competitiveness has risen in the last fortnight, but Gippsland’s ins make the Power a tough proposition for even a side in the best of form. A massive seven Country representatives return to the side, with the likes of Brock Smith, Sam Flanders, Charlie Comben, and Josh Smith re-forming that strong spine. On the other hand, Tasmania will be without both Mitch O’Neill and competition leading goal kicker Jackson Callow in a big blow to their chances. O’Neill’s class through the midfield will likely be covered by the likes of Under-16 Division 2 MVP Sam Banks and bottom-aged Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins, meaning Callow’s goals could prove the most difficult void to fill. The game will be the Devils’ last in Victoria for the regular season, with their remaining two fixtures set to be played at home, while Gippsland will finish off with a couple of country fixtures.

EASTERN RANGES vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday July 20, 2:15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what looms as the game of the round, Oakleigh will look to derail Eastern’s charge atop the NAB League ladder when the sides meet to round out Saturday’s action. The Ranges are on a tear, simply finding a way to win in each of their six-consecutive victories dating back to Round 7. Having twice gotten the better of fellow top-four hopefuls Sandringham in that run, they should come into this fixture against a rampant Oakleigh outfit with the confidence to stand tall despite the Chargers’ form. Oakleigh’s attempt to make it seven wins from their last eight outings will be dented slightly by the loss of promising bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Tucker, and Reef McInnes, but gain some midfield depth as Jeromy Lucas and Fraser Elliot make the 23. Eastern’s key position strength will be tested as skipper James Ross joins Jamieson Rossiter and Joel Nathan as outs, but we should be treated to a glimpse into the future as Metro U16 stars Tyler Sonsie and Tyreece Leiu have been named to make their debuts. Both could feature through midfield, with Metro MVP Sonsie also able to move forward well. It adds another layer to what already shapes as an interesting battle, with the Ranges hoping to maintain their two-game buffer in first place.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday July 21, 9:30am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

A chance to snap losing streaks is up for grabs for Sandringham and Dandenong at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, with both sides sliding out of the top four in recent weeks. The Dragons have been on a three-game slide while Dandenong has lost its last four, and Sandringham could well jump back into the top four should results go their way. The Stingrays’ six changes seems significant, but it pales in comparison to Sandringham’s 13 with a raft of top-end talent going both ways in either starting 23. Dandenong’s ins read well, with All Australians Hayden Young and Sam De Koning slotting back in alongside Country teammates Ned Cahill, Blake Kuipers, and Bigoa Nyuon. On the other hand, the home side regains Fischer McAsey and Miles Bergman alongside over-agers Riley Bowman and Angus Hanrahan, but lose stars on each line in the form of Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Charlie Dean. The Dragons’ strength of depth has shone through thus far, and should carry them through well in this bout despite Dandenong’s sizeable inclusions. If the Eastern and Oakleigh game is the best of the round, this looks to be a close second with clear finals ramifications in play.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The Calder Cannons could shoot into the top four with a win and favourable results elsewhere, but Bendigo Pioneers stand in their way in a meeting set for Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Cannons have enjoyed a good stretch of form, winning in four of their last five outings, with some key talent in the form of Daniel Mott, Harrison Jones, and Brodie Newman set to add a bit of class to the side which is sailing along smoothly. Bendigo has fared a touch differently, but the Pioneers found form well in the last three rounds with two wins and a 10-point loss added to their record. The competition in this game is a little stiffer, but the inclusions of Brady Rowles and Logan Fitzgerald should bode well for their chances of a fifth win. Big man Josh Treacy also returns, named up forward alongside usual full back Will Wallace as the Pioneers shuffle their key position magnets – and they could well be tested in that area given Calder’s ins. Bendigo should make a game of it on home turf, with both sides refreshed after a week off and keen to gain as much ladder position as possible with just three regular season rounds remaining.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Deakin Reserve

The battle for top eight spots heats up as ninth place Murray hosts eighth place Northern with just four points separating the two sides. Both have enjoyed good bursts of form of late, with Northern on a three-game winning run and Murray’s own streak of three only just broken last round by ladder-leaders, Eastern. Either sides’ true credentials will be revealed as they go close to hitting full strength, while also welcoming some Under 16 talent to their respective line-ups. Kevin Sheehan medallist Josh Rachele is one of those talented 16-year-olds named to play, while Northern boast Darcy Wilmot and Jack Rossimel. In the top-age stakes, Murray look to have replenished well with co-skipper Lachlan Ash returning alongside Cam Wild, while fellow Country representative Elijah Hollands also slots in. For Northern, key midfield cog Adam Carafa goes out alongside Metro teammate Nikolas Cox in a blow to their depth, but the versatility of the side should see the Knights cover their losses. With the top eight make-up truly taking shape in the closing three rounds, this game will prove to be a key one in deciding Wildcard Round fixtures.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday July 21, 1:30pm
GMHBA Stadium

Bottom two sides Geelong and GWV clash at GMHBA Stadium to see out Round 14, with just four wins between the teams heading into the final few fixtures. If history is anything to go by, this is set to be a close one, as the Rebels managed to snatch a one-point win over the Falcons all the way back in Round 2 in a thriller. The stakes are arguably higher in this clash with pride on the line and some notable under-age talent breaking into either starting 23. GWV welcomes Country Under 16 representatives Ben Hobbs and Josh Rentsch, with top-age stars Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin, Toby Mahony also set to really bolster the line-up. Meanwhile, the Falcons are finally set to again field one of their two original co-captains with Jesse Clarke back into the defensive unit, with the likes of over-agers Lochlan Hocking and Sam Christensen getting another crack in the starting team. With limited opportunities to bolster up their win tallies, both sides should give this game a red hot crack on the hallowed Kardinia Park turf.

Country gets home with last kick of the day

A BRODIE Kemp goal in the dying seconds has helped Vic Country remain alive in the AFL Under 18 National Championships competition, defeating South Australia by a solitary point and ending their opponent’s dream of back-to-back national titles. While Country went into the match undefeated and South Australia at 1-1 after dropping a game to Vic Metro, Country needed to win otherwise there was danger of losing the title under the head-to-head rule. It was a see-sawing contest that looked to be in South Australia’s clutches at one stage, particularly when Croweaters’ captain Will Gould had enough of the arm-wrestle and burst off half-back, charged down the middle to half-forward and launched a ripping goal in the dying minutes to put the visitors in front. It took an equally special play from the Country side – starting with Harrison Pepper at half-back winning a crucial contest, to the slick Lachlan Ash in the midfield, pin-pointing an elite kick forward which saw Kemp lunge in from the side and hold it. Taking time off the clock with the set shot, the fate of Vic Country’s title hopes effectively rested on the kick, which Kemp duly delivered from about 50m and saw the home side get up 9.9 (63) to 9.8 (62).

Earlier, South Australia’s top-10 hopeful Dylan Stephens got his side off to the perfect start with a terrific running goal to get the visiting fans up and about in the opening term. The red-hot form of Cody Weightman continued with the exciting Dandenong Stingrays’ forward looking dangerous every time he went near it, combining well with fellow Stingray, Ned Cahill inside 50, and capitalising with two majors. The Gippsland Power brigade of Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders and Brock Smith were superb in the opening term, combining for 24 disposals, while Ash was already having an impact through his slick kicking. Harry Schoenberg‘s ripping form at the carnival continued, extracting the ball from the inside and getting it out, picking up a game-high 12 disposals in the first quarter, while Gould and Jackson Mead were able to execute well with nine touches a piece.

The second term saw South Australia start with more flair as bottom-age talent Corey Durdin and Josh Morris booted goals to help the Croweaters to a little break. Once again, it was the likes of Flanders and Serong who answered the call, with Flanders picking up 11 disposals in the term, and missing a great chance at goal, while Serong was dominating around the stoppages with six clearances to his name by the main break – three more than any other player on the field. Weightman was again causing headaches when he converted his third, while Cahill and potential top five pick next year, Elijah Hollands got in on the party with majors. Country had all the momentum heading into the break, while Schoenberg (19 disposals, three clearances) was a standout for the South Australians, as was Gould and Will Day.

The third quarter saw South Australia again get back on top before Country reeled them in with a late goal, as Durdin booted his second, and Jordan O’Brien and Daniel Sladojevic also converted majors, with Josh Smith‘s late goal crucial for the one side to remain in touch at the final break, just one point behind. Another 10 disposals to Serong in the term saw the Power midfielder looking towards his biggest numbers, while Kemp and Hayden Young were having impact around the ground, particularly coming off half-back. Sam De Koning‘s defensive work outside the stats sheet – including spoils and blocks – were as important as his intercept marking, while up the other end, South Australian tall duo of Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay were intercepting everything that came their way. It allowed Gould to run off and create passages of play up the ground, while bottom-ager Luke Edwards showed his class as one of the bigger ball winners on the day, and Lachlan McNeil was crucial with quick hands in congestion, as Josh Shute was caused all sorts of issues along the wing.

The final quarter was a nail-biting contest that looked to be going one way then the other, and after an arm-wrestle for the majority, the last few minutes were electrifying. Both sides found their range with Country booting 3.3 to South Australia’s 3.1 after having kicked a combined 12.13 in the first three quarters. Mead had a huge last quarter in the forward half, converting two goals to keep his side in it. The passage of play that saw Gould launch from 50 had the visiting fans up and about with the captain mobbed by teammates believing that had won with only a couple of minutes left. South Australia were able to do the majority of the attacking for the last couple of minutes, with Pepper’s ability to get it to Ash who had the audacity to sidestep and opponent, buy himself time and deliver under pressure to a perfect position for Kemp being the difference. With the weight of his state on his shoulders, Kemp would have received a big tick from recruiters to take all the time off the clock then go back and nail the set shot to help Country to victory, with the siren going before another meaningful possession could occur.

Serong was best on ground for his 33 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles, 10 clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, while Flanders finished with 28 touches, seven marks, four tackles, three clearances, 10 inside 50s and one goal. Kemp’s heroics were far from the only impact he had for the day, racking up 27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, four inside 50s and that memorable goal, while Ash had 19 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds, working well with Young (18 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and seven rebounds), and Weightman finished with four goals for the second time this carnival. For South Australia, Schoenberg racked up another 32 disposals, five marks, six clearances, three tackles and three rebounds, while Gould had 26 disposals, five marks, three clearances, four inside 50s, five rebounds and that long range goal. Day helped himself to 24 disposals, five marks and seven rebounds in a promising performance off half-back, while Edwards (23 disposals, five marks, three rebounds), McNeil (23 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds), Mead (22 disposals, three marks, four clearances, four rebounds and his two last quarter goals) and Hilder (15 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds) were all strong among others in an even contribution for the visitors.

Vic Country now plays Western Australia for the title in the first game at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday, while South Australia wraps up its carnival with the game against the Allies after that.

VIC COUNTRY 2.2 | 5.3 | 6.6 | 9.9 (63)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.3 | 3.6 | 6.7 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:

Vic Country: Weightman 4, Flanders, Kemp, Cahill, J. Smith, Hollands.
South Australia: Mead 2, Durdin 2, Gould, Stephens, O’Brien, Sladojevic, Morris.

ADC BEST:

Vic Country: Serong, Flanders, Kemp, Weightman, Ash, De Koning
South Australia: Gould, Schoenberg, Hilder, Day, Mead, McNeil