Tag: jye menzie

State leagues wrap: Minor premiers crowned as regular seasons wind down

LOCKDOWN saw yet another round of VFL football postponed, but there was still plenty of state league action for football fans to enjoy around the nation. Minor premiers were officially crowned in South Australia and Tasmania as regular season fixtures wind down, while an established top five still has some shaking up to do over in Western Australia. We recap all the results and big performances in this week’s state league wrap.

South Australia (SANFL):

Glenelg found its way out of another tight spot on Saturday, overturning a 17-point deficit at the final break to surge past Norwood and claim the SANFL League minor premiership. The Bays made better on their chances having trailed at the first three breaks, enacting a seven-goal final term blitz to secure the 10-point victory.

Matthew Snook was again instrumental for Glenelg in midfield, leading all comers with 28 disposals and 10 clearances, while spearhead Liam McBean snagged three goals. Draft prospect Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera made an impact in his second senior outing, with his first League goal proving the sealer. For Norwood, Richard Douglas did all he could with 23 disposals and two goals.

The race for fifth spot is heating up, with Sturt applying plenty of pressure to current placeholder, Norwood after a statement-making victory. The Doubles Blues kept West Adelaide goalless in a 76-point drubbing on the road, putting them just a game behind the Redlegs in sixth but with superior percentage. In Sturt’s win, James Battersby and Casey Voss topped the disposal charts with 32-apiece, while Steven Slimming led a trio of Blues who booted two goals each.

Port Adelaide was the side Sturt snuck ahead of in sixth, after the Magpies suffered a 13-point Showdown loss at the hands of Adelaide. Up-and-coming senior players Lachlan Gollant and Dylan Williams snared four goals for their respective sides in a game which was lead by the Crows from the first goal. Bigman Billy Frampton was an ominous figure with 30 disposals and 13 marks, as James Rowe returned to the grade and snared a pair of majors, while Sam Mayes (35 disposals) had 15 more touches than any other Port player.

Back in the top half of the table, North Adelaide secured an important three-goal win over the second placed Woodville-West Torrens, strengthening the Roosters’ hold on third spot with the remaining chance to jump into second. The victors booted six goals to two after half time, with Aaron Young (29 disposals, six clearances, one goal) and Campbell Combe (27 disposals, eight clearances, one goal) instrumental in the result, while Daniel and Troy Menzel each snared two goals for the Eagles.

Pick one contender Jason Horne starred in South Adelaide’s 52-point victory over Central District, which keeps the Panthers a game clear in fourth. With his side trailing at the first break, Horne turned it on in term two with three goals to help gain the ascendancy. South never looked back from there, cruising to its ninth win of the season with finals less than a month away.

Tasmania (TSL):

A pair of thrillers were offset by Launceston’s ruthless 146-point belting of Glenorchy in Round 19 of the TSL, a result which saw the Blues officially claim this year’s minor premiership. Usual Tasmania Devils defender Zach Morris dominated with a swing to the front half, booting nine goals in a brilliant best afield performance. Brendan Taylor (four goals), Jake Hinds (three), Jay Blackberry and Jobi Harper (both two) also claimed multiple majors among the Blues’ 13 individual goalkickers in the 28.13 (181) to 5.5 (35) romp.

While North Launceston had the bye, fellow top four sides Tigers and Clarence locked horns on Saturday to spice up the race for third. After trailing at every break, Tigers slotted three goals to one in the final quarter to take home a crucial five-point win and jump Clarence into third spot via superior percentage. Marcus Davies was the victors’ sole multiple goalkicker in a brigade of eight scorers, as Zach Adams was named their best. Josh Green snared three goals for the Roos, but it was Sam Green who took home the coaches votes in a tight loss.

The round’s other close contest saw Lauderdale work back from a 33-point half time deficit to defeat wooden spooner North Hobart by two points, securing the result with seven goals to two after the main break. Allen Christensen was typically terrific for the Bombers in their remarkable win, while a bunch of Tasmania Devils prospects fared well for North Hobart. Will Splann (two goals), Dom White and Jye Menzie all found the big sticks, while Tyler McGinniss was named among the Devils’ best players.

Western Australia (WAFL):

The WAFL League top five remains unchanged after Round 18’s results, with East Perth the only side to climb the ladder on a four-game weekend of West Australian football. The Royals extended Perth’s losing streak with a 25-point triumph, having lead at every break on home turf to jump into sixth over East Fremantle. Aidan Lynch (32 disposals, 10 marks, one goal) led all comers, while Royals teammate Thomas Edwards-Baldwin was the game’s lone multiple goalkicker with three.

Arguably the weekend’s best and most important game saw Subiaco strengthen its standing atop the table with a five-point comeback win over fellow finals contender, Claremont. The Lions were jumped in the first term but worked back to within striking distance at 17 points adrift come the final break, before pouncing with four goals to one in the fourth quarter. Greg Clark was the only player to tick up to 30 disposals, while Ben Sokol booted six goals and Lachlan Delahunty (23 disposals, 25 hitouts) also proved instrumental in the win.

With the Tigers going down, reigning premier South Fremantle went a game clear in second after defeating East Fremantle by 61 points. The Bulldogs broke the game open after half time, running out the game with 11 goals to three in a ruthless showing of their firepower. Brandon Donaldson (five goals) and Mason Shaw (four) lead a strong core of eight goal kickers in the win, as Tom Blechynden notched a game-high 25 touches.

Meanwhile, Swan Districts remains three games clear of the finals drop in fifth after a kicking away from Peel Thunder in a 52-point win. The Swans were served well by Aidan Clarke (32 disposals, two goals) and Frank Anderson (30 and two), with all of their top seven ball winners also hitting the scoreboard. Tyrone Thorne saw the most ball though, registering 33 touches and nine tackles for Peel in their fourth-straight loss. West Perth and West Coast each have a game in hand after sitting out this weekend.

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Ones to Watch: The draft prospect bottleneck brimming with talent

WHILE the top end of the 2021 AFL Draft pool is shaping up nicely despite constant injuries to gun players, unexpected season intermissions, and the absence of an Under 19 National Championships, a massive bottleneck remains just outside of first round contention. Draft Central released its August Power Rankings update on Monday, which ranked the nation’s 25 best prospects, but had about 40 in contention for said honours.

With such an even crop forming around the 20-35 mark, we nominate a player from each national carnival region who could soon rise up the ranks to feature in future rankings, while also highlighting a bunch of other players to watch as regular season fixtures wind down. Some of the talents listed below were also spoken about in the latest Final Siren Podcast episode, where the Draft Central crew fielded your questions.

VICTORIA

Potential Riser: 

Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

Arguably the 26th player in our August Rankings, Taylor may have already made a case for pushing into the top 25 come September’s edition. The small midfielder boasts excellent skills, vision, and decision making, which is exactly what you want from a player who finds the ball as much as he does. At 180cm, Taylor can also double as a pressure forward and utilise those reliable skills in the front half, but has really found a home as Calder’s primary ball winner of late. Over his last three NAB League outings, the 18-year-old has averaged 34 disposals, seven marks and six tackles en route to taking out the Round 15 Player of the Week. He is one of the form players of the draft pool right now, and is proving difficult to deny.

Ones to Watch:

There are plenty of Victorians in the mix as usual, with most already sneaking into the top 25 – like Tom Brown, Sam Butler, and Judson Clarke this past month. Arguably the next biggest riser has been St Kilda Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Mitch Owens, a winger from the stacked Sandringham Dragons regions. The 190cm gloved goer has done plenty of growing over the last year and was a late call-up to last month’s Vic Metro side. He took his chance well, and was in fine form for the Dragons with 25 disposals, six marks, and seven tackles in their most recent outing.

Fellow Sandringham wingman Blake Howes has previously featured in our rankings and remains around the mark, with his athleticism and versatility boding well for a talent with incredible upside. Having rolled up to the wing from his usual forward post in 2021, the 190cm Vic Metro representative has added strings to his bow and booted two goals from 20 touches in his latest NAB League appearance.

Connor Macdonald and Jake Soligo are a couple of small midfielders with handy turns of speed who have no trouble finding the ball, and can also roll forward to impact the scoreboard. Collingwood NGA prospect Youseph Dib is another in that small category at 174cm, but has a mature body which stood up to the rigours of VFL football earlier in the year. He has stood up in midfield recently with his strength and speed around the contest, but is also able to play pressure roles at either end of the ground. Oakleigh teammate Lachlan Rankin is another to monitor; offering versatility, natural smarts, and clean skills in a range of roles.

At the taller end of the midfield scale, Geelong Falcons ball winner Mitch Knevitt has consistently been a standout for his region at the coalface. While he has plenty of room left for improvement, clubs will likely look at his speed, contested work and 193cm frame as traits which point towards workable upside. Fellow big-bodied mid Ned Long has been sidelined of late, but was in promising form at the start of the NAB League season.

There are a couple of defenders who have also impressed throughout the year to prove their potential, in Justin Davies and Oscar Morrison. Both represented Vic Country and have nice combinations of tall and small traits at just under 195cm. Meanwhile, Morrison’s Geelong Falcons teammate Toby Conway has firmed as one of the premier rucks available, standing at over 200cm with handy craft in that department and evolving influence around the ground.

Dandenong Stingrays midfielder Connor Macdonald

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
22/02/2003 | 188cm/70kg | Wing

A smooth-moving wingman with elite pedigree, Wanganeen-Milera is among one of the more eye-catching South Australian prospects. The nephew of Essendon and Port Adelaide champion, Gavin, he caught the eye last year with his speed and dare on the outer for Glenelg’s Under 18s, and has since plied his trade in the senior grades. After 11 Reserves outings, the 18-year-old earned a League berth with the Bays this season and was even a late addition to the AFL Academy squad in April. His skill and poise on the ball made him a standout in South Australia’s Under 19 trial game last month, and with his collection of high-level attributes as a tall and raw wingman, Wanganeen-Milera is certainly on the rise.

Ones to Watch:

After being considered among the top 10-20 prospects coming into 2021, Norwood midfielder-forward Cooper Murley was squeezed out of out latest top 25. It’s through no real fault of his own though, with the productive attacking runner first missing out on AFL Academy duties due to an ankle injury in April, before suffering a collarbone injury in the opening minutes of a SANFL Under 18s outing last month. With an extended run and some more senior action, he can quickly improve his stocks.

A trio of club-linked prospects have put themselves in contention with sustained form in 2021, particularly at Under 18s level. Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne is quite highly regarded in his state, with versatility and clean foot skills among his best traits. While he is quite light-on, he enjoyed a steady three-game stint with Port’s SANFL outfit this season and has no trouble finding the ball.

Adelaide NGA products Blayne O’Loughlin and Isaiah Dudley are crafty smalls who will also come into consideration, and both have even managed to crack the Reserves grade. North Adelaide leader O’Loughlin is the nephew of Michael and loves to generate defensive rebound with his speed and kicking, while Centrals’ speedster Dudley also has good pedigree, with his high-level footy smarts boding well for a future in the small forward role.

North Adelaide midfielders Hugh Jackson and James Willis have both thrown their hats in the ring as potential bolters, but offer quite different strengths. Jackson has clearly been the SANFL Under 18s’ top ball winner with an average of 31.7, while also leading the league for handballs and inside 50s. He has a handy turn of speed, as does the explosive Willis. While a touch more raw in his finished product, Willis certainly catches the eye with his power and agility in the engine room.

State Under 16 and Under 19 teammates Lewis Rayson and Morgan Ferres continue to be thereabouts too. Rayson’s drive and kick penetration on the outer has proven a consistent feature of his game, while Ferres booted 13 goals from a whopping 21 scoring shots in his two SANFL Under 18s outings this season. Both have earned Reserves berths, while Centrals midfielder-forward Shay Linke has broken through to the top flight this year and showed some promise.

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in SA colours | Image Credit: AFL Photos

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)
23/11/03 | 176cm/74kg | Small Forward

Fremantle staff and fans alike will be cursing a technicality in the NGA rules which may see Motlop snatched from their grasp. NGA products from metro regions in South and Western Australia are only eligible to join their aligned clubs with a bid past pick 40, and Motlop has certainly staked his claim to be taken well within that range. The speedy small forward has a terrific eye for goal and applies valuable pressure, which he showed in his WAFL League debut for South Fremantle last month. The son of former Port and North Melbourne forward, Daniel, has also featured at PSA level for Aquinas College and led the competition’s goalkicking as a Year 11 last year. He can also roll into midfield but will likely pique the most interest with his work inside attacking 50.

Ones to Watch:

Twin talls Jacob van Rooyen and Rhett Bazzo were highly touted coming into the season and while they have shown glimpses of top 25 potential thus far, may have fallen just outside that range. Claremont’s van Rooyen is a noted key forward who has shown his versatility this year with time in midfield and more recently, down back. A glandular fever diagnosis halted his initial run at League level. Bazzo, an Under 16 All Australian defender, has arced back to his intercept-marking roots of late after being trialled up forward earlier in the year. Both are AFL Academy members and will be key state Under 19s figures.

Among the recent League debutants are Corey Warner and Luke Polson, who are quite different prospects. Warner, the brother of Sydney’s Chad, is a real goer out on the wing while Polson is a mobile and versatile tall talent who is not afraid to run with the ball. Along with this pair, one of the state’s biggest risers has been West Coast NGA product Ethan Regan, out of East Perth. At 189cm, he is an explosive unit with terrific aerial prowess and the ability to cover good ground in transition.

It would be remiss not to mention some of WA’s top performers in the recent state Under 19s hitouts. Big-bodied midfielders Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick have been superb across the three games, while Dittmar’s Royals teammate James Tunstill is a promising type. The likes of Jahmal Stretch and Kaden Harbour are lively small forwards entering the conversation, while Taj Woewodin should have Melbourne’s attention as a potential father-son pick-up. Meanwhile Lochlan Paton and Brady Hough have been solid across a few different roles for the Black Ducks.

Jesse Motlop celebrates a goal on his League debut | Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

ALLIES

Potential Riser:

Sam Banks (Tasmania Devils)
2/04/2003 | 187cm/73kg | Half-Back

Banks has long been on the radar as Tasmania’s standout draft prospect for 2021, having taken out Under 16 Division 2 MVP honours in 2019. He also made eight appearances for the Devils’ NAB League side in the same year and has turned out in the TSL for Clarence. While he was sighted up on a wing and through midfield in the past, Banks has played almost exclusively in defence this season upon battling injury. A broken wrist saw him miss out on representing the AFL Academy in April, but the 18-year-old made his NAB League return in Round 11 and has looked promising with his rebound running and skills by foot across half-back. He could be in for a boost with an extended run and some more showings of his potential in roles further afield.

Ones to Watch:

Banks’ fellow Tasmanians Oliver Davis and Sam Collins have gotten back on the horse after being overlooked last year. Hard-nosed midfielder Davis attracted mid-season draft interest and is currently part of Adelaide’s reserves squad, while Collins has moved up to Victoria and linked with reigning NAB League premier, Oakleigh Chargers, where he has featured in midfield upon returning from injury. Forward Jye Menzie is another in the top-age category, and recently snared a bag of goals in the Devils’ Under 17 vs. Under 19 clash.

There are plenty of Northern Academy prospects who their respective clubs will look at closely. Brisbane has seen the likes of Saxon Crozier, Tahj Abberley, Toby Triffett, Charlie Bowes, and Will Tasker take strides at state league level this year, having all remained in the Lions’ system as 19-year-old talents. Gold Coast has more 2003-born talents in the pipeline, including AFL Academy member Austin Harris. He, too has gained VFL experience along with defender Bodhi Uwland and twin talls Will Bella and Jack Johnston.

Elsewhere, Giants Academy member Josh Green (brother of Tom) trained with Richmond during preseason and may still have some interest, while Murray Bushrangers prospects Charlie Byrne and Cameron McLeod were among those to have some interest at the next level – both during preseason and in this year’s mid-season intake.

Sam Banks in action for Clarence | Image Credit: Solstice Digital

State leagues preview: SANFL returns as VFL put on ice again

VICTORIA and Queensland will go without state league matches in the VFL and QAFL respectively due to lockdowns, as South Australia’s SANFL returns to join the WAFL and TSL as other state leagues in action this weekend.

South Australia:

Round 16 takes off with the SANFL Showdown the highlight of the round in terms of rivalries, as Adelaide and Port Adelaide lock horns as part of a double-header with the respective AFL sides at Adelaide Oval. The Crows will welcome back James Rowe and Lachlan Sholl to SANFL level with Brayden Cook called up for his AFL debut, and the likes of Jackson Hately, Billy Frampton and Shane McAdam also out of the side. For the Magpies, captain Cam Sutcliffe returns for the huge Showdown, while AFL-listed ruck Sam Hayes and defender Jarrod Lienert will also come into the side.

Finals hopefuls Norwood will have a crack at the undefeated Glenelg when the SANFL returns tomorrow in a blockbuster weekend of action. The Redlegs travel to ACH Group Stadium to tackle the ladder-leading Bays, with Norwood having the opportunity to put some separation on the bottom five sides. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera has been named in Glenelg’s extended squad with the eye-catching teenager one to watch if he is named in the final squad. Norwood has lost ex-AFL talent Dom Barry to a knee injury, though the likes of Cole Gerloff and Henry Nelligan both return for the Redlegs.

The game of the round from a ladder perspective has to be North Adelaide up against Woodville-West Torrens Eagles, with the latter able to secure a top two spot with a win, whilst the Roosters can draw within two points if they topple their foes. North Adelaide has the strongest inclusions of any side this weekend, bringing back two ex-AFL talents in Aaron Young and Billy Hartung, as well as promising tall Dyson Hilder and reliable defender Tanner Smith all in. The Eagles also have a key inclusion, with ex-Adelaide midfielder Riley Knight back into the side, joining key forward Jake Von Bertouch back in the lineup.

Meanwhile South Adelaide take on bottom two side Central District, fully able to grab third spot if the Roosters fall to the Eagles. Leek Aleer and Wyatt Patterson return to the defence, with youngster Lachlan Grubb named on a wing to utilise his speed, and captain Luke Habel returning on the other wing. The inclusions are a huge plus for the Bulldogs, who can overtake Adelaide providing Central District wins and the Crows lose. South Adelaide might have other ideas, with Luke Bogle and Tyson Brown among the inclusions to the side.

A bottom four clash between Sturt and West Adelaide rounds out the League matches for the weekend. The last placed Westies have welcomed in Sam Davidson from Port Adelaide Magpies who could be in line for his debut, along with the likes of Nathan Batley and Kevin Karpany who have also been named in the side, with Harry Lemmey returning to school football. Youngsters Josh Shute and Mani Liddy have joined fellow former State Under 18s representatives in Riley Grundy (potential League debut) and Oliver Grivell in being named on an extended bench.

Western Australia:

West Perth and West Coast have the byes in Round 18 of the WAFL competition, with four games played across the weekend. A top three clash between Subiaco (first) and Claremont (third) is one of a number of mouth-watering contests, with the Tigers able to draw level with the Lions at home with a win. With five games remaining, the hunt is well and truly on for top spot, though second placed South Fremantle will be expected to win too, so three sides could all be on 44 points at the end of the weekend. Claremont has some big inclusions to the side, led by Kane Mitchell and Logan Guelfi who have been added to an extended bench. Jack Mayo and Lachlan Delahunty provide some extra firepower up forward for the ladder-leading Lions, while Hayden Kennedy slots into half-back.

South Fremantle can officially put a line through East Fremantle with a win on the weekend if Swan Districts also get up, with the Bulldogs and Sharks locking horns in the last game of the weekend. Jesse Motlop is out of the Bulldogs side, though the home team has added six players to an extended bench including Travis Abbott and Kye Barker. East Fremantle have also added players to an extended bench such as Corey Holmes and Reuben McGuire.

The Battle of Perth takes place at Leederville Oval with the seventh placed Royals hosting the ninth placed Bombers. If Perth causes an upset it can draw level with its eastern counterpart, though has struggled of late. Doulton Langlands coming out of the side will not help, though full-back Zach Hill is back into the lineup as part of an extended side including Jye Clark. The Royals have not made any official changes, with Stanley Wright and Ben McGuire among the inclusions on an extended bench.

In the other game, Swan Districts hosts Peel Thunder, with the Swans able to potentially lock up a finals spot with a win and losses to the teams directly below them. They take on a Peel side that has lost three on the trot but can leapfrog East Perth again – following the Royals’ win last weekend – and even eat Fremantle if as expected the Sharks fall. Tarir Bayok and Thomas Edwards are among five inclusions into the Swans’ outfit, while Tyler Nesbitt has returned to the Thunder, named to play at half-back on the dangerous Lewis Jetta.

Tasmania:

After a weekend of blowouts in the TSL last weekend, Round 19 hopes to provide at least a couple of tighter games, with the pick of the bunch being a top four clash between Clarence and Tigers. Fresh off a bye, the Roos host Tigers with third spot up for grabs. Both sides have already secured their finals spots given the five-game gap to the bottom three teams, but a Tigers win would see Kingborough leapfrog Clarence into third, whereas a Roos win would increase their own gap to eight points, and draw within four points of second placed North Launceston.

Tasmania Devils’ game being cancelled helps the Roos, with the likes of Sam Banks, Noah Holmes, Darcy Gardner and Baker Smith all eligible to play for the home team. Jerome Webberley is a key out for the Roos, but dangerous forward Josh Green also returns. Tigers have not made any changes to its lineup following its massive win last weekend, with Riley Ashlin and Lachlan Gadomski some of the rising talents, and Sam Duigan and Max Collidge damaging inside 50.

Top of the table Launceston could do a number on the bottom two Glenorchy, with the Blues welcoming back Jay Blackberry into the mix. The star will slot straight back into the forward pocket, with the premiership favourites also naming teenagers Jayden Hinds, Sam Foley and Tony Aganas among the available Devils if need be. The Magpies welcome back young gun Callum Thompson, with Isaac Manson named at half-back.

Meanwhile Lauderdale will look to move past its disappointing defeat last week by inflicting another big win over North Hobart. The Demons were completely dismantled by Launceston and will want to put in a better showing to grab their second win of the season. Lauderdale can move another win clear of Glenorchy if they pick up the four points here. Alex Hevey and Bodhi Kingston return for the red and black in the must-win clash, with Fergus Kenny and Luke Hodoniczky out of the team. After dominating the Tasmania Devils intraclub game, Jye Menzie and Will Splann are both in line to return to the Demons’ outfit. Jack Sandric returns as well, while Sam Banks-Smith is another young gun already stepping up at league level this season, with North Hobart wheeling at least six changes, with more predicted now the Devils players are available.

Scouting notes: Tasmania Devils Intraclub

WITH the AFL Under 19 Championships postponed, the Tasmania Devils top talents took to the field in an Intraclub game between the Under 19s and Under 17s squads. Whilst the Under 19s got the job done by 52 points, both sides had some impressive performers and we took note of how some of them played in that match. All notes are the opinion of the author.

U17s:

#2 Braidy Simpson

Simpson is a classy player plying his trade mostly across half-back during the game, and while the ball sailed over his head plenty of times, he certainly showed glimpses of talent, competing well in one-on-one battles, and remaining composed under pressure. He used the ball well in the back half and was not afraid to get down and dirty in contested situations. Simpson also took a few kick outs, highlighting his ball use as a key trait in his game. The soon to be 17-year-old from Glenorchy has played three games in the NAB League so far this season and will be looking for more chances next season.

#11 Ryley Sanders

One of the youngest member of the Devils’ NAB League squad at just 16 years of age, and he had a super game on Sunday. Playing predominantly as an inside midfielder, Sanders was ferocious with his attack on the footy, winning plenty of the ball and using it well on most occasions. He accumulates the footy in multiple ways, he can get in and under the packs and win a contested ball, but he also possesses the ability to break lines and create play for his teammates. He was a standout player in the U17’s squad on Sunday, backing up what has been a great NAB league season, averaging 16 disposals and over four marks and four tackles per game. Standing at 184cm and weighing 76kg, Sanders is already a good-sized midfielder and a couple more years of development could see him turn into a strong player.

#16 Lachlan Cowan

Cowan was another player who performed well in the intraclub clash, providing plenty of eye-catching moments throughout the match. He is 186cm tall, but it would come as a surprise to many given his ability to play taller. He worked off half back and through the guts, showing some great attributes like intercept marking, line breaking speed and clever ball use. He has a penetrating kick, on show with some of his kick outs from defence, and always works hard up and down the ground. Cowan showed an ability to perform as both an attacking player and defensive player across the ground and has the skillset to play multiple roles across the field. He was most impressive on half back however, intercepting and turning that defence into attack.

#25 Tom McCallum

The 191cm forward kicked two goals out of the teams seven on the day, with a couple other chances to add to that tally. McCallum is agile and presents well right across the ground, from being an option coming out of defence to a good deep forward target. He uses his body well to outmuscle opponents in contested situations and has strong hands. What makes him a better player is his additional running ability, he’s got a good step and can put a couple quick meters on opponents when he leads. He finished off a great bit of play in the middle of the second term when he crumbed the ball on the wing, outran his opponent, evaded a tackle, and then kicked a goal from inside the centre square.

 

U19s:

#1 Baynen Lowe

Lowe is an energetic midfielder/small forward who works hard all over the ground. He is only 176cm tall but has a tireless work rate and he is always having a crack. His efforts were highlighted right from the start of the game when he worked hard to apply the forward pressure, tackled, and won a free kick, before finishing off superbly by kicking a goal from 40m out on the boundary. Not only is he capable of winning plenty of the footy as shown in his NAB League efforts this season, where he averages 25 disposals per game, but he also works hard defensively to pressure opposition players. He is smart and clean with ball in hand and can make things happen for teammates.

#2 Darcy Gardner

Gardner had a great game in the intraclub clash, racking up heaps of the footy playing predominantly through the middle, and spending some time forward. He is a hard-nosed midfielder who attacks every contest with intent. He is not a massive player by any means, but he uses his body well to break tackles and win the footy on the inside. Gardner also tackles hard and can stand up against bigger opponents. He has been averaging 16.5 disposals and just under six tackles at NAB League level, highlighted by a 27-disposal effort in round five against the Thunder. He showcased his ability on Sunday and can certainly have a big impact on games, getting the ball moving out of the centre.

#13 Jye Menzie

The boy from North Hobart had a field day, kicking six goals and finding the footy across the ground. He has a bit of x-factor about him, and he makes things happen with the ball in his hands. He’s got excellent skills and is a smart finisher around the big sticks. He kicked a nice goal in the third quarter after he intercepted the ball and got it onto a teammate, he then followed up and put in a strong second effort to tackle when the ball was lost, before it was won back, and he received a handball to kick a snapped goal. Another element of Menzie’s game is his speed, with the ability to burst away from packs. He’s been averaging 15 touches and has kicked 12 goals in the NAB League this season.

#23 Will Splann

Splann was the dominant force on the ground in the first half. He played forward and was taking strong marks in one-on-ones and leading up well at the ball carrier. He bagged the first two goals of the game, including his second one which was impressive, he laid a big tackle and was rewarded with the free kick, then he finished off his good work. His efforts were rewarded again in the second term, taking some nice marks, and adding another two majors to his name. In the second half, Splann was sent into defence, showing his versatility as a big man. He looked right at home too, winning a couple of big contests against his opponents, remaining composed, and using his strength and footy smarts. He kicked three goals and had six marks against the Bushrangers in round 12. He is an exciting prospect at 195cm, with his ability to perform at either end.

 

Picture credit: Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos

Tasmania Devils Intraclub: Plenty of talent on show as U19s defeat U17s

JYE Menzie booted six goals as the Tasmania Devils U19s proved too good for their younger counterparts in Sunday’s intraclub match. The younger U17s side fought on valiantly the whole game but were not quite good enough as the U19s won by 62 points at Twin Ovals in Kingston.

Early in the game Will Splann was dominant playing as a forward, leading up at the ball carrier and laying big tackles as he kicked the first two goals of the match. Oliver Sanders delivered beautifully to Splann for the first goal and that got the U19s off to a great start. Shortly after, Baynen Lowe made it three straight inside 10 minutes, but the U17s found a bit of momentum on the back of Arie Schoenmaker’s major as they got it to three goals apiece, before a couple late ones to the U19s led them to a 5.1 (31) to 3.1 (19) quarter time score.

Darcy Gardner (U19s) and Ryley Sanders (U17s) were dominant in the middle all game, and they both continued to win plenty of footy as Splann continued to show his marking prowess. The little extra size and experience of the U19s outfit began to show in the second term with Menzie and Splann adding two goals each to the scoreboard. Lachlan Cowan sparked a great bit of play for the U17s after taking a strong intercept mark in defensive 50, he switched the play quickly to result in Tom McCallum kicking a long goal from outside 50. That goal was their only one for the term however, as the U19s led at the main break by 36 points.

The second half begun with Splann sent down into defence, allowing Baker Smith to show his talent in the attacking 50. Gardner continued to win the ball, with Menzie and George McLeod both getting involved. Braidy Simpson was good off half back for the U17s and Liam Jones was doing his best in the middle along with Ryley Sanders. Sam Banks-Smith also begun to see a bit of the footy in a good little patch for the U17s in the middle of the third term, however they failed to capitalise on their opportunities and time inside forward-50 only managing to register three behinds for the quarter. The same couldn’t be said for the U19s though, with Menzie kicking two more goals in the term, making sure they made the most of their chances going forward.

McLeod kicked the first goal of the last quarter to add to his great game, with Cowan having an impressive final term pushing across half back and into the middle. McCallum added his second goal of the game, but the U17s were just hanging in there with the U19s asserting themselves over the younger team. A seven-goal final term, split four goals to three in favour of the U19s, led to a final score of 17.10 (112) to 7.8 (50) to end what was a great spectacle for Tasmanian footy fans, with plenty of young talent to be excited about.

DEVILS U19s   5.1 | 10.3 | 13.4 | 17.10 (102)
DEVILS U17s   3.1 | 4.3 | 4.7 | 7.8 (50)

GOALS

Devils U19s: J. Menzie 6, W. Splann 4, B. Lowe 2, K. Ryan, D. White, S. Foley, G. McLeod, B. Smith.
Devils U17s: T. McCallum 2, B. Alomes, D. Lee, J. Gillow, C. McGee, A. Schoenmaker.

BEST

Devils U19s: J. Menzie, D. Gardner, W. Splann, G. McLeod, B. Lowe
Devils U17s: R. Sanders, L. Cowan, B. Simpson, L. Jones, T. McCallum

 

Picture credit: Solstice Digital

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 12

WITH Victoria’s most highly touted top-agers recouping on the back of representative action, it was time for bottom-aged prospects to shine in the NAB League. A raft of fresh faces shot on the scene for their respective regions across the six-game weekend, supporting a wealth of usual suspects who continue to perform well. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 12 snapshot

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 (14) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 11.12 (78)

By: Eli Duxson

Calder Cannons:

#8 Paul Pascu

It was the 16-year-old’s third game of the season and arguably his best in the heavy defeat he and his side suffered. Pascu found the footy mostly exiting defensive 50 in which Sandringham provided plenty of opportunities for recording three rebound 50’s. His follow up work was impressive as he continued to try and assist with the link between the arcs, but was missed on multiple occasions when he was free in the corridor with poor kicks. When found, he looked composed with ball in hand and even managed three inside 50s on the day. He worked hard defensively laying eight tackles and looked comfortable in contested situations despite playing against more mature frames.

#26 Matthew Gook

A tough assignment coming up against AFL-listed Max Heath in the ruck, but he provided a contest all day and showed promising signs in open play. At 201cm he looked quite mobile and long which assisted with a couple of nice pick ups below the knees, as well as a nice mark in the second quarter. His decision making was a little on the slow side but there were some positives. In the ruck he got out-bodied by the stronger frames, but he did not stop competing.

Sandringham Dragons:

#1 Harry Sheezel

The Vic Metro Under 17s squad member showed genuine class and composure all game playing mostly out of the forwardline, where he kicked 3.3 from 21 disposals to go with six marks. His first goal came on the run from 40 metres taking advantage from a free kick with the result never in doubt, while his second came from a well-judged mark in the goal square. His third was after earning a free kick for holding the ball where he drilled the set shot. He looked dangerous running back at goal with or without the ball, managing five inside 50s, while his pressure made him look even more so, laying six tackles for the game.

#5 Lachlan Benton

Dominated around the stoppages all game, looking very comfortable in traffic as he accumulated 28 disposals and five inside 50s. He has had a strong season to date, but this performance has typified a solid three-week stretch for Benton as he looks to increase his standard and consistency. Benton’s clearance work was impressive, showing good acceleration into space as well as positional awareness with the dominating ruckmen. He moved well around the ground getting back into defence, as well as hitting contests forward of centre to crumb. An intercept mark and hit inside 50 early in the game set the tone for his day.

#13 Luca Macnab

The dashing rebounding defender was amongst it all game but slowly moved his positioning forward as the game wore on with his side’s ascendency on the play. He and his lovely left boot were streaming off half back early where he showed a good balance of composure and aggression, notably hitting a short target to slow down a frantic play in the second quarter while also penetrating further out of defensive 50 on another occasion. A pair of beautiful hits inside 50 highlighted his ability to deliver forward as his team maintained territory for much of the game. Macnab finished with 25 disposals (season-high), six marks, and six inside 50s.

#52 Luke Nankervis

Playing as a high half-forward for much of the day, Nankervis was often the link player for the Dragons between the arcs using his 189cm frame and his athleticism to provide a threat both in the air and on the ground. He also spent time at stoppages but looked his best in open space in one-on-one situations. He took six marks for the game and his 18 disposals were mostly efficient, showing a propensity for either side of his body. His pressure game as a forward and around stoppages was just as good, laying a whopping 12 tackles despite his side’s control of the game.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Vibrancy for the whole game from Soylemez who maintained his consistency in front of goals with 3.1 from 14 disposals and seven marks. He kicked the first goal of the game marking inside 50 and drilling the set shot. He looked to lead at the ball carrier and often a kick outside the forward 50, using his trusty left boot to deliver inside 50 which he did on three occasions. His second goal came from a contested mark on the behind line which he snapped through truly, while his third was another snap but this time out of nothing, showing a brilliant goal sense. His ground ball gathers were clean and he moved smoothly with ball in hand all game.

#61 Max Heath

It was a super Saturday for St Kilda fans as they watched their side beat AFL premiership contenders Brisbane, while their newly drafted ruckman had a day out and showed why the Saints were eager to secure his services. His ruckwork was dominant as he often held a strong position to direct taps to teammates cleanly, while then also getting after it when the ball hit the deck. His work rate and tank allowed him to get back defensively and mark on multiple occasions. Heath had 21 disposals and 26 hitouts, but it was his two goals and eight marks as a forward that was most exciting. He was able to create space on the lead and marked cleanly overhead at pace.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 12.8 (80) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 12.9 (81)

By: Eli Duxson

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

The mobile ruckman showed his versatility in all thirds after a strong second half almost helped propel his side to a memorable comeback win. Probably tied the ruck battle with Tasmania’s Tony Aganas but looked much more likely when play continued showing good speed and agility for his 198cm body. He started the second half with a couple of inside 50s before getting on the end of one of those kicks himself, and kicking a long set shot from 50 metres. Fitting the evolving mould of the mobile and capable ball-using ruckmen, Murray showed all the hallmarks of being a two-way runner and player finishing with 11 disposals, four marks, and 17 hitouts.

#8 Zavier Maher

A competitive beast who went hard at the contest all game, showing a strong ability to tackle effectively while also keeping his balance over the ball through contact. While being threatening without the ball, he was composed in tight and showed a good step. Maher also seemed intent on finding it in open space as well often spreading hard out of stoppages to either get to the fall of the next contest or be an option in the link. He finished with 17 disposals, seven tackles, and three inside 50s.

#51 Brayden George

The Under 17s Vic Country squad member led all comers with goals on the day booting four straight as he did his best to keep the Bushrangers in the contest. His first came from a free kick, drilling the 35-metre set shot, while his next two came back-to-back to start the second half and drag his side back in the game. He is a one-touch player who marks cleanly on hard leads and looks solid underneath the ball. His final goal came over the top in the goal square as he finished with 11 disposals and four marks.

Tasmania Devils:

#7 Will Splann

The focal point of the Devils forward line looked likely all day using his 195cm frame to mark reliably overhead, leading to him kicking a season-high three goals. Two of his goals came after marking on the lead and drilling the set shots, while his third came from a free kick in a marking contest. He is not a high-disposal forward as so few you are in the key position, but he showed he does not need many touches to be effective in front of goal. He took six marks in what was perhaps his most involved game this season.

#12 Jye Menzie

Menzie is also not a high possession winner but is damaging when he does find the ball as a half forward operator. His speed allows him to lose his opponent, especially when his side regains possession and he drifts into space, but his ball use is equally impressive. He lowers his eyes and makes good decisions, favouring to kick more than handball (nine kicks, two handballs). From his 11 disposals he had three shots on goal scoring 2.1 with his first being a lovely snap from the boundary.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55) def. GEELONG FALCONS 6.11 (47)

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#17 Jackson Bowne

Bowne provided plenty of spark from midfield for the Knights, utilising his speed to exit the contest and bring a rather scrappy game to the outer. He could be seen zipping out of traffic in all areas of the ground, penetrating the arcs a combined 10 times and taking nine marks as he worked to become an easy outlet. The top-ager also booted a goal in the second term and could have had a couple more with more polished finishing, but was quite productive nonetheless.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Clearly the best player afield, Trudgeon dominated as the biggest and strongest body at each stoppage. He was in the thick of things throughout and brought a hard physical presence, getting his hands dirty to win 35 disposals and lay 15 tackles. The imposing Knights skipper led from the front in a ball winning sense and was able to generate some scores with his disposal on the attack. He contributed at least three direct goal assists with kicks to teammates inside 50, while also adding a major of his own by converting a 50m set shot in the opening term. Trudgeon also rested forward and sought to find more green ball on the weekend, but looked most impactful with his work on the inside.

#23 Anthony Caminiti

The mobile tall forward returned another promising performance in Knights colours, showcasing his class as a leading target. Caminiti did his best work when let off the least further afield, where he would lead as high as the wing and help link Northern into attack. His reach was made more effective by generally clean hands and handy spurts of mobility with ball in hand, while that same pattern of movement allowed for ample separation on the lead. Caminiti couldn’t quite put through a couple of tough set shot chances, but snared a snap goal in the third quarter after marking deep on the behind line.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

A mainstay in the Knights’ defence, Fitzgerald was relentless in his pursuit to rebound out of the back half with run and a sound kicking game. His actions proved repetitive, but largely effective, as Fitzgerald hit short targets forward of the ball and constantly looked to move the play on quickly. He racked up 27 disposals (20 kicks) and six rebound 50s, while also displaying a solid marking game as he floated across to clunk a couple of intercepts among his eight overall grabs. With plenty of work to do, the 17-year-old stood tall.

Geelong Falcons:

#1 Will Baker

The crafty bottom-aged forward displayed some of his best traits on Saturday, popping up with little bursts of brilliance in the front half. While quite small at 176cm, Baker proved his toughness and won a bit of his own ball, either spinning out of trouble or leaning on his speed and agility to come away from congestion cleanly. He was able to roam further afield as the game wore on, finishing with 13 disposals to go with his second term goal.

#4 Gennaro Bove

Leading from the front, Bove took his extended midfield opportunity with both hands and was arguably Geelong’s best player on the day. He finished with a team-high 23 disposals along with five marks and six tackles, with three wayward behinds the only thing stopping his very good game from being a massive one. Starting on-ball, he showed typically clean hands and skills in-tight, before finding more possessions in space around the ground. He seemed to lift in the final term when Geelong needed a spark, but his valiant efforts at the source fell just short.

#11 Cooper Whyte

While it was a relatively quiet day by Whyte’s recent standards, he still managed to be a positive forward mover from midfield for the Falcons. Among his 13 disposals, the 18-year-old pumped forward seven inside 50s and looked his best when breaking into attack with speed – particularly in the first half. Whyte also showed good courage on a few seperate occasions; leaping up in the face of oncoming contact to spoil and mark in the corridor, allowing the Falcons to turn the ball over and manufacture bonus chances on goal.

WESTERN JETS 14.11 (95) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 10.7 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#6 Matthew Payne

The diminutive Western forward was really lively in exciting bursts, bringing his pace to the fore on the ball. He snared a nice goal in the opening term after attacking an aerial ball, before recovering first and snapping home the six points. He added two more in the second half, again showing good smarts and quick reactions to take his chances. Payne also broke the game open with a couple of chaining passages, burning forward and looking to get the ball back after dishing off.

#18 Nash Reynolds

A constant presence in midfield for Western, Reynolds looked to push his side forward with intent. He showed a nice step in traffic but was not afraid to cop contact when required, helping set the tone for his side at the source. Reynolds did not quite find the goals himself but provided that opportunity for others, including in the fourth term when he side-stepped the man on the mark and kicked long for Payne to crumb and finish.

#35 Liam Conway

Conway was mega for Western once again, seemingly popping up everywhere at times and boasting the statline to match that notion with 32 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s. When he wasn’t bustling the ball forward at stoppages, Conway positioned well to mark around the ground and was quite clean in his handling. The top-ager’s ball winning ability is proven, with this his third 30-plus disposal effort for the season.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

This was potentially Tsapatolis’ best outing yet, with the Geelong-listed ruckman able to showcase his ruck craft and improving work on the follow-up. At the centre bounces, he looked to tap to advantage instead of just hitting the ball, finding his rovers with some deft touches early on. He also fared well with a couple of strong grabs around the ground, while also getting low to make an impact at ground level and bombing forward a few clearances. He also managed a snap goal among his 21 disposals, and won 41 hitouts.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

Usually a productive line-breaker rotating forward from midfield, Gallagher was made to step up and become a more permanent fixture of Bendigo’s engine room. The pacey Pioneer ended the day as his side’s most prolific ball winner, notching 27 disposals and penetrating either arc a combined nine times. In a different style than usual, Gallagher won more ball in-close – rather than being released on the outer himself where his speed shines. He was still effective in those instances, using the ball well by foot heading inside 50.

#11 Cobi Maxted

In a monster effort, Maxted showcased every bit of his versatility on Sunday in a dynamic display. The Pioneers utility started at the centre bounces, but tended to shift forward in general play and got busy in both departments to finish with 25 disposals, nine marks and four goals. The top-ager used his big frame around the ball to stand up in and break tackles before disposing, but he looked arguably more damaging on hard forward spreads. Maxted snuck inside 50 for two goals during the first half, and provided a more permanent marking option there after the main break. His clean hands and strong presentation were key features during that time, and Maxted capped his day with another couple of majors in the fourth quarter.

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

The smooth-moving defender had a few quiet patches, but looked like opening up the game with his run-and-carry out of the backline at times. He looked stylish in possession and timed his runs well to be released on the outer, sending Bendigo forward in transition with his foot skills and willingness to take on opponents. Faulkhead also got a run in midfield during the fourth quarter.

#29 Cooper Smith

Smith was another of Bendigo’s positive forward movers, as he constantly looked to weaponise his kicks and carry the ball towards goal with intent. The top-ager broke tackles, made repeat running efforts and hit targets in the front half, operating nicely on the outer and pushing into advanced areas. He dropped back a touch more in the second half, helping distribute out of defence and doing some of the tough stuff when called upon.

GIPPSLAND POWER 7.6 (48) def. by EASTERN RANGES 11.12 (78)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Gippsland’s best player on the day, Moschetti again looked his side’s most polished player in possession. The classy left-footer showed good poise on the ball and worked it into space before delivering sharp kicks forward. As the game wore on, he began to manufacture more time and space, linking play on the outer and generating valuable momentum as Gippsland attacked. Moschetti ended with a game-high 30 disposals and five marks from midfield, including a couple of handy goal assists.

#9 Will Papley

In his usual midfield-forward rotation, Papley was a productive and versatile member of the Gippsland set-up. He started at the centre bounces and used his burst of speed to break forward, often getting to the front of the stoppage and streaming inside forward 50. When stationed forward, he initially presented as a lead-up kind of option in a role which defied his size, before getting busy closer to goal with that typical mix of speed and smarts. Papley got on the board early, smothering on the mark before finishing beautifully from range, while adding a second major in the third term with a snap from the pocket.

#28 Zane Duursma

The 2005-born prospect already looks comfortable alongside players as many as four years his senior, and proved as much with some time in the midfield on Sunday. Duursma started brightly but missed a 45m set shot in the opening term, before getting back into the game with some handy work in term three. He displayed good courage to protect the drop zone under a high ball and mark inside 50, before converting a classy snap goal and going on to show sharp skills when running through midfield.

Eastern Ranges:

#3 Jake Arundell

Arundell was at his crafty best on Sunday, stationed forward and contributing plenty both inside 50 and up the ground. He consistently showed high level smarts and evasion, while a zippy turn of speed saw him gain considerable separation on the lead time and time again. The diminutive top-ager worked beautifully in tandem with under-ager Nick Watson, as the two found each other inside 50 on multiple occasions. Arundell snared three goals from five scoring shots, while also twice turning provider in a balanced effort, where he brought others into the game and was a constant threat in the front half. No Gippsland defender could go with him.

#8 Nick Watson

The other half of Eastern’s dangerous small forward pairing, Watson also went about getting busy both up the ground and closer to goal. After missing a couple of chances in the first term, Watson straightened up to convert two majors in the following period and all three of his goals for the day came via set shots. The 2005-born talent defied his size as a viable leading option, leaning on his high footy IQ to also get to handy spots when the ball hit the deck. Watson fulfilled his usual small forward duties with smothering pressure acts and tackling efforts, making for a well-rounded performance.

#35 Max Hall

With some of Eastern’s prime midfield movers unavailable in recent weeks, Hall has consistently stood up as a reliable inside ball winner. He had no trouble finding the ball at the coalface, digging in and proving strong over the ground ball before looking to bullock his way out of tackles. While he tended to bomb kick out of the contest, Hall showed he could lower his eyes when afforded more time and even put through a well-hit set shot in the first quarter. Away from the stoppages, the top-ager worked hard around the ground and his final statline of 29 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s was exemplary of that.

#58 Kai Windsor

Windsor showed plenty during his stint in the Vic Metro Under 17 squad, and carried his form back into the NAB League on Sunday. Playing mostly in the forward half before shifting into the midfield, Windsor was an apt carrier of the ball forward and seemed to enjoy operating in time and space. The bottom-ager was also able to show his skills at time, including on one instance in the second quarter where he provided a goal assist for Arundell as he streamed forward.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.8 (56) def. by OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 15.7 (97)

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

The St Kilda NGA prospect yet again displayed some eye-catching athletic traits throughout the contest, where he was, at times, played as the deepest forward target for the Stingrays. He looked at his most dangerous when he was able to run onto a free ball, with his pace and clean pick ups from ground level giving him the tools to make the most of those opportunities and keep the ball going quickly, with one moment in the first quarter highlighting this best when he got free, side stepped an opponent and pinpointed a kick inside 50 where his teammate didn’t have to move to hold onto the mark. Ended the day with one goal, where he ran onto a kick over the top of his head and snapped the goal whilst being brought to ground. Despite what the stat sheet may say, he created plenty of scoring opportunities for Dandenong with his plays in the forward half causing headaches for the Chargers defence.

#4 Jaxon Binns

The Under 17 Vic Country representative demonstrated exactly why he was selected in that side in his NAB League debut, looking like Dandenong’s best player early on, showing off high work rate and running capacity on the wing. Was far more inclined to kick than handball when he was disposing of the ball, where he regularly got good penetration and showed good technique with his kicking but sometimes lacked the accuracy to make it truly damaging. Positioned well to get the releasing handball from inside winners, able to beat most opponents in one-on-ones foot races. Kicked an impressive goal in the first, winning the ball off the ground in the forward pocket and snapping it through in the first. Unfortunately had his day cut short after suffering a suspected knee injury. 

#35 Finn Jakstas

Looking composed with ball in and well positioned in the defensive half, Jakstas did some underrated one-percenter acts throughout the game that either stopped certain Oakleigh goals or got Dandenong the upper hand in moving the footy. Whether it was tapping the ball in front of a running teammate, laying a smother in the middle of the ground or spoiling a ball in a two-on-one, he was able to impact plays well to win them for Dandenong. Looked strong overhead as well in the defensive 50, following up with clean ball use to teammates. 

#42 James Cahill

Playing essentially exclusively as a rover for the game, Cahill looked particularly good when collecting the ball off the ground, looking clean even when under pressure. Fed well to receivers via hand when the option was there, never just throwing the ball onto his hand or foot if there wasn’t a teammate ready to get it. Worked hard to follow up and get the ball back as well when he could, with one moment in the first quarter demonstrating this best, inside defensive 50 where he handballed to a teammate, got it back, handed it off again, then got it back and kicked long to a leading teammate. He was composed through most of the game, having moments where he just picked out an option through congestion that not many would’ve found, or had the confidence to try and take. His ability to spread from a contest or stoppage was also a highlight, able to burst away from these situations and spot up teammates to get Dandenong moving forward. 

 #47 Henry Hustwaite

Another Under 17s Vic Country representative, Hustwaite was stationed mostly on the wing, where he showed composure with ball in hand, even when caught in congested spots under pressure. His quick hands in close were on full display, keeping his hands free and firing them out to release runners from behind, or pinpointing a handball through traffic to teammate closer to the forward 50. Didn’t kick often but was composed and kicked with purpose when he chose to, finding targets laterally who were able to take space. 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Blake Drury 

In his first outing for Oakleigh at Under 19s level, Drury took no time at all to get involved and show why he was selected for the Vic Metro U17s side, winning plenty of ball around the midfield and forward half, using it well by hand to get the ball to teammates in better spots. Showed plenty of confidence with his movement with ball in hand, never biting off more than he could chew, but always willing to run the ball forward and get around opponents before getting rid of the ball. What was particularly impressive to see from his Under 17s Metro performances, was how much better his kicking looked at this level, regularly putting it in front of teammates inside 50 to run onto, and taking wider options when nothing presented up the line.

#17 Braden Andrews

The AFL Academy member was thrown about positionally again, spending time in all thirds of the ground and showing promise in each spot. In the first three quarters he split his time down back and through the midfield mostly, with his work around stoppages the highlight, picking up the ball from below his knees cleanly and firing out quick hands on the up as teammates moved for him. He looked composed with his kicking when given time in space to compose himself. When moved into the forwardline he got himself two goals in the final quarter, the first of which came from smart positioning in a marking contest, able to run onto the ball as it went over the top and kicking it straight through from the goal square. His second came after receiving a handball from a teammate he was running alongside going into 50 and slotting it from about 25 out. He paid this back later, after giving off a shot on goal despite being in range.

#33 Patrick Voss 

Continuing his impressive run of form in the backline, Voss looked more convincing, providing run from behind than he previously has, not afraid to take opponents on coming out of the defensive 50. This was highlighted best when he went for a run from the back 50 mark, taking two bounces along the way, as well as a give and go, then stiff arming an opponent and kicking the ball inside 50 to finish it off. That stiff arm wasn’t his only show of physicality, continuing his strong tackling that often rattled opponents whilst still being fair. He got himself a lot of marks by being a switch option in the back line, with Oakleigh looking to switch when it was on, but also got a couple of intercept marks showing his strength to push opponents out of the contest, with one being a good sign of courage, running 20 meters to mark a ball that was hacked out of a centre stoppage, with incoming front on pressure. Kicking was good with time to compose himself, but is a general area of improvement.

#57 George Wardlaw

With arguably the highest profile of any of the debutants from this game, the Under 17s Vic Metro representative was dominant from beginning to end with his inside game a clear standout across both sides. Regularly getting first possession around stoppages, Wardlaw commanded more and more attention around stoppages as the game went on to negate his effect from the midfield, where if given the slightest amount of space he’d get a handball away, having a few moments where he fired a pinpoint pass through congestion and past two or three opponents to release a runner on the other side of the contest. Managed to get good spread from stoppages when he was right in the thick of it, able to stay balanced and on his feet when copping contact, still managing to get the ball to a teammate. Wardlaw drew in some free kicks for high contact with how low he gets when picking the ball up and how fast he tries to straighten up. 

#79 Jack O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was yet another Oakleigh debutant, and a Vic Country Under 17s representative over the past two weeks. He showed himself to be a damaging pressure forward. Collected ground balls at speed well, following up with damaging ball use even if he didn’t have clear vision, putting the ball in danger spots in front of goal if he was under pressure. Looked dangerous with his leading, not always sticking marks but getting his hands to the ball. Ended the game with two goals and two behinds, although he set up a couple of goals that he could have easily gotten, showing a sense of selfless in his game and want to get teammates involved.

Image Credit: Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 10

NAB League regions had their depth tested over the weekend as Under 17 and 19 representative action took place over Saturday and Sunday, but a bunch of prospects were left to battle it out in the elite underage competition. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side across all five games, in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 10 snapshot

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 17.12 (114) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.5 (17)

By: Eli Duxson

Sandringham Dragons:

#5 Lachlan Benton

Was prolific all day for the Dragons playing through the midfield and notching up his best game for the season numbers-wise, finding the footy 26 times. Making the most of his extended minutes around the ball with teammates on Vic Metro duties, he showed a willingness to get to contests and be active at them. His speed out of stoppages was impressive with his tank allowing him to cover ground and find the ball uncontested (nine marks) as well under pressure. He kicked a set shot goal from just inside 50 at the start of the second quarter to round out arguably a best on ground performance.

#39 Matthew Harms

The lively debutant more than proved his worth with his two goal, 14 disposal, and five tackle effort out of half-forward. With the mullet flowing, his first impact on the game was a run-down tackle as he brought that physicality to every contest. He is not big in size, but he certainly did not play like it as he showed good work rate to push up the ground and help his midfielders, while also clearing space behind him for his big forwards to lead into. He kicked the Dragons’ second goal of the game with a tidy snap, while also kicking their second-last goal by getting on the end of a smooth chain of possessions.

#53 Eren Soylemez

The 19-year-old continued his impressive form, collecting his most disposals on the season (12), while bobbing up for his usual few shots a game. As a forward in the first half, he often pushed out of the arc to be the one delivering balls inside 50 or working back to crumb which often was not required with the clean and unaffected entries and marks. Speaking of marks, he showed he was capable overhead. His ball use by foot inside 50 was almost flawless as he found multiple targets with his four inside 50s. He was shifted back in the third quarter and continued to show his tidy ball use was necessary in the defensive half, although his defensive ability was hardly required and displayed. Moving forward to end the game, he managed two majors as he moved to 14 goals from six games.

#61 Max Heath

The St Kilda mid-season draftee performed at his new home in RSEA Park, showing why he is in the AFL system. Although at times he was caught out of position in the ruck either through unfavourable throw-ins/ball-ups or as he engaged body, he did look the most likely in the contest having led all comers with 23 hit outs on the day. He has a strong base and is prepared to create space for teammates when the ball hits the deck, throwing his weight around. Heath also proved a viable option up forward, being too tall for opposition defenders to effectively spoil, managing a goal from a strong mark.

#66 Charlie McKay

The father-son prospect enjoyed another big performance in his side’s dominant display, totalling 30 disposals to go with a goal, five inside 50s, and four tackles. He provided a lot of grunt on the inside as usual although his tackling numbers were just below his season average, keeping in mind Sandringham almost won by 100 points. His physicality around stoppages is not represented through stats as his pressure and strength inside were featured heavily. He capitalised on his side’s dominance around the ball, providing a running option moving forward, proving to be composed and tidy with his disposal.

#74 Felix Flockart

The 202cm over-ager kicked the most goals in the game with three, also his first goals of the season. A backup ruckman to Heath, he spent some unimpeded time up forward and managed the first goal of the game with a lead up mark and set shot from distance. His second goal came from a snap, with his last bookending the game after a big mark. He took five for the game but created many more contests with his leap and attack on the aerial ball, providing a solid option down the line for the Dragons. Flockart used his strength to his advantage in the ruck as he has 13 hit outs and was more than handy as a second option for Sandy.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#5 Sam Collins

Collins returned to the footy expected of him with 21 disposals, six marks, and five tackles in what was a tough outing for his Chargers. He was active early in the greasy conditions, burrowing in at stoppages while shooting balls inside 50 and being an option for defensive 50 exits. He showed good awareness in tight with a nice spin out of traffic a highlight, while also utilising strong and steady hips to stay upright in tackles. A good return to form despite the disappointing result.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

Another one of the few performers for Oakleigh who also did his best out of their engine room but was overrun in the end. Jenkins had 22 disposals and a goal to go with four tackles and three inside 50s and looked impressive on the inside, as well as in space. His third quarter was busy with his side down nine goals, as Jenkins helped the Chargers to their best quarter by clearing deep inside 50, while turning disputed balls into clear possession. Another spin and slip of a tackle was nice in tight as he had his highest disposal game for the season with his Metro teammates away.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 6.15 (51) def. CALDER CANNONS 6.1 (37)

By: Seb Bartholomeusz

Northern Knights:

#11 Jackson Archer 

Plying his trade across half-back, Archer had some good moments throughout the match. He had 18 disposals to go along with six marks and five tackles. While he doesn’t have the biggest frame, Archer still laid some strong tackles and competed well in one-on-one contests in defence. He also showed some good skills playing on the outside and sweeping across half-back. A couple skill errors were rectified by his second efforts and composure to execute under pressure. Composure was a highlight of his game, as Archer knew how to take his time, find targets, and importantly not succumb to pressure.

#17 Jackson Bowne 

Bowne had an impressive game, collecting 26 disposals and showing some good signs of what he may be capable of in the future. He often displayed good bursts of speed and explosiveness to break away from tackles and evade defenders. Standing at 174cm, Bowne doesn’t shy away from a contest and is the type of player that seems like he just loves that side of the game. He loves to take the game on, and he backs his ability to beat opponents. He kicked two behinds for the day but was always dangerous around stoppages and running towards goal.

#22 Jack Rossimel 

It could’ve been a big day for Rossimel after he put in a super impressive performance for a tall forward. His only downfall was his 0.3 on the scoreboard which didn’t reflect the game he had. He competed well and flew at every contest, he offered a strong aerial target for his team mates to kick to, and he provided some good leads to get on the end of a few marks, resulting in shots at goal. In addition to his marking abilities, Rossimel showcased his agility, getting down and dirty to lay some hard tackles, and following up his work with second and third efforts at the ball. He is a versatile forward and has already kicked multiple goals on more than one occasion. A big bag could be around the corner.

#55 Josh Hamilton 

Hamilton collected 29 disposals on the day and led all comers. He was ferocious with his hunt on the footy, and he worked hard from the first bounce to the final siren. He stood out with his speed and footwork to sidestep oncoming tacklers. Hamilton showed off his skills in some impressive passages, making use of the forward handball, and always following his play to be an option again. One passage of play in the third term would’ve caught the eye of many, after a desperate smother, Hamilton continued to fight for the ball and laid a tackle, before eventually getting a handball. He was always determined to win the ball, great game.

Calder Cannons:

#3 Jackson Cardillo 

Cardillo was a bit quiet in the first half, but he certainly got busy in the second, spending more time in the guts. He finished with 16 disposals, showing off his ability to stand up in a tackle and handball under pressure. He competes well in the middle, can break lines, and hit targets. He is a good size and very capable of competing in a one-one-one. He also read the play well in the second half as he begun to have a bigger influence. Cardillo is a big danger to opposition teams if he is at his peak for four quarters.

#4 Sam Clohesy 

Clohesy is a bit of a utility and has the attributes to play in multiple positions across the ground. He spent most of his time against the Knights across half-back and through the middle. A reasonably tall player at 189cm, Clohesy showed good endurance to cover large parts of the ground on his way to 23 touches. He played a bit like Jack Lukosius, the way he swept across half back with good skills, but also pushed up the ground and was a good user heading inside 50. He uses his size to stand up well in tackles and dispose of the ball in contested situations. He had a nice minute of play in the second term where he caught the ball while smothering an opposition kick, before getting it inside 50 quickly. Moments later he took an intercept mark. He added five marks and six tackles to his stat sheet in what was a strong four quarter effort.

#6 Flynn Lakey 

It was a sixth 20-plus disposal game for Lakey in as many matches, and this one was probably a best on ground performance. A total of 27 touches, paired with 11 tackles, the midfielder was relentless all day. He went in hard and found his own ball, read the ruck taps well and got clearances and put his teammates in space. He made a great play in the third quarter after going in for the hard ball, winning the free kick for a sling tackle, and then having the presence of mind to play on quickly and handball to a teammate who was able to kick a goal. He was courageous and kept competing until the final siren. For his small size he certainly gives everything a crack and is not afraid to put his body on the line. Great performance in a losing side.

#35 Dane Whitnall 

Whitnall plays as a key pillar down back for the Cannons. For his 193cm stature, he has quite good mobility and coupled with his ability to read the play, there were multiple times where he was able to leave his man to spoil or take a mark. One of his best attributes was holding structure, he was often set up well in defence and got into good positions to impact contests. Whitnall was also an option exiting defence. He took 11 marks for the game and had 18 disposals in what was a solid performance. A couple of times he was a bit sloppy with his disposal which led to re-entries into the Cannons defensive 50. With a bit more experience, the Carlton father-son hopeful can remove those errors from his game.

WESTERN JETS 5.8 (38) def. by EASTERN RANGES 9.11 (65)

By: Peter Williams

Western Jets:

#18 Nash Reynolds

Played an important role on the inside and was in-sync with ruck Paul Tsapatolis at the stoppages. Reynolds knew where to move, read the tap well and would chuck the ball on the boot to clear it. The end result was hit and miss, but he was getting it forward and giving his forwards first chance to get in front. He showed a fierce intent when tackling and quick hands, then received a 50m penalty and nailed the set shot from just inside 50 in the second term. He spread well and took a number of marks around the ground, including a contested grab on the wing in the final term, then not long after intercepted the ball at half-forward reading it well in flight.

#33 Billy Cootee

Started off with a double fend-off early in the game on the wing, and had a quick shot on goal under pressure which went to the goalsquare. Cootee worked hard to mark in the defensive 50 and then give off the quick handball to release a running teammate in transition. A mixture of hard and clean at ground level in the match, he had a few chances going forward, but missed a set shot in the second term and was forced to rush off the left in the third term on the wing. Overall he won his fair share of the ball and contributed strongly to the team’s cause.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

Each stoppage was like watching a clip on repeat. Tsapatolis’ body work and strength was too good and his ability to plant his leg then protect the drop of the ball to palm the pill wherever he wanted was a standout. Once he had his body positioning, he was unmovable, and his set play which was a tap behind the head to Reynolds a few times was good. He won a free kick inside 50 in the first term but it drifted in the wind, then clunk a strong contested mark at half-back. The clear dominant ruck on the ground, the AFL-listed Cats rookie is progressing nicely.

Eastern Ranges:

#4 Josh Clarke

A simply massive accumulating game from the Eastern skipper who did as he pleased around the ground. The amount of times he would receive the handball on the outside to favour his trusty left foot without too much notice was fortunate for him. Even when he was closed down, Clarke showed off his terrific strength and evasion combination to shrug the would-be tacklers, then execute by hand to a teammate on the outside. He showed great on-field leadership in all thirds of the ground, and used the ball well in the conditions. He always tried to take the game on, and slotted home a great goal from the top of 50 in the first term. He had a few more chances, with a couple of shots in the third term which just missed, then a shot in the fourth that was marked in the goalsquare. Able to play the game on his terms, Clarke was far and away the best on ground.

#9 Mitchell Sruk

Had a crack throughout the four quarters and after missing a few kicks early in the game, settled into the conditions and was able to use better composure in the latter three quarters. He worked hard and ran for second and third possessions out of defence and through the midfield, and was often tasked with the kickouts. One of the noticeable strengths of Sruk’s was his tacking technique, where he was able to pin the arms and roll his opponent rather than going into his back. He showed great strength in close to rip the ball way from an opponent and get it out, then won a lot of his touches on the outside by working hard to get to teammates to receive the handball.

#32 Flynn Kroeger

Kroeger found the ball all over the field, often winning it in defence, spending time in the midfield and then holding a firm line at the top of 50 for the rushed kick out. His handballing and vision under pressure was mostly solid. He did drop a mark going back with the flight in the second term, but showed good second effort to win it at ground level, though rushed his handball which missed the target. Kroeger showed some good bursts of speed at times and when inside would often chuck it on his boot, but his ability to gather at ground level around stoppages was impressive. Overall a solid performance with some hits and misses.

TASMANIA DEVILS 11.17 (83) def. DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.2 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Baynen Lowe

The busy small midfielder led all comers on Sunday, collecting 33 disposals to go with 10 inside 50s and nine tackles in a Draft Central Player of the Week performance. His happy knack of finding the ball and short bursts of speed allowed for plenty of distance-snatching plays in midfield, where Lowe would either receive or win the hard ball before bombing a long kick forward. He also provided fierce tackling intent, hunting the ball carrier and hitting hard whenever possible to force stoppages or spillages. While a lot of his early possessions were won in the clinches, Lowe went on to work into positions to be released before disposing forward. A lot of his kicks were rushed and sought distance rather than a direct target, which contributed to Lowe’s three behinds on the day.

#12 Jye Menzie

Menzie started brightly in his usual forward post, working high up the ground to complement his inside 50 threat. The top-ager’s running back towards goal resulted in his first major, a pretty straightforward finish over the back. He added another in the opening term, adjusting his run nicely to crumb off hands and dribble home with class. Menzie’s pressure and ability to keep his feet both proved outstanding in the early stages, before enduring a quiet patch. He popped back up after half time and converted a 45m set shot on the wrong side for a right footer, finishing with three goals but leaving a couple more out there with two behinds.

#20 Tyler McGinnis

As expected of the 2001-born over-ager, he often looked the most composed and polished player afield. He leaned on his greater level of experience to read the play well and clunk numerous intercept marks, judging the ball better than most in flight. He showed good courage when flying or cutting across opposition forwards, keeping his eyes on the ball rather than worrying about oncoming contact or his direct opponent. That same trait could be observed in his one-on-one wins, as McGinnis easily plucked the ball while his adversary scrambled to get body or a spoil in. His ball use was also clean, distributing well-hit kicks both forward and laterally throughout the game.

#37 Tom McCallum

McCallum marked just about everything that came his way at half-forward, snapping up 11 grabs in what was an outstanding aerial performance. He seemed to grow in confidence as the game wore on, initially contesting well before making good on most balls which came his way with clean clunks. That also translated to his kicking, as the bottom-ager gradually took on more risky inboard passes and pulled them off well. At 191cm, his reach was difficult for Dandenong’s defenders to combat and he often marked with good separation on the lead. McCallum also hit the scoreboard with two majors, both in the first half as reward for his overall effort.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#38 Max Gregory

Gregory was a really productive distributor out of defence, finishing with four rebound 50s among his 12 kicks and 20 disposals overall. The top-ager was composed across half-back, able to either run it out of his own area or clear his lines with efficiency by foot. Combined, those two features saw Gregory run out as one of the better rebounders on the day in a performance where he equalled his season-high tally for disposals.

#39 Daniel Didomenicantonio

Didomenicantonio was a leader among Dandenong’s group with the Stingray’s other leadership group members on Vic Country duties. He set up his side from the back, often tasked with kick-in duties and looking to gain meterage with his penetrative boot. He provided solid forward drive when released via hand, able to take on the green ball and quickly transition Dandenong into attack. One such instance saw him stream through the corridor during the second term, before spearing a ball to Jai Culley on the lead at half-forward. It was a solid game overall for the 17-year-old, who managed a team-high 26 disposals.

#44 Jai Culley

As part of the midfield-forward rotation, Culley arguably looked at his best in attack where he was one of the Stingrays’ most reliable targets. He managed to get his hands on the ball around the contest, but had more impact with his possessions in the front half. Culley converted well from his long-range set shots, but was a little less reliable when made to rush his disposals, getting less direction and penetration. Still, multiple goals and five marks made for a promising game from the 2003-born talent.

#50 Sam Frangalas

An emergency for Vic Country’s Under 17 fixture, Frangalas was one of the best bottom-agers afield. As part of the starting centre bounce combination, he looked to get on the move at stoppages and often got first hands to the ball. His repeat running and continued following of the play allowed him to chain possessions up the ground, though his disposal at full tilt was sometimes hit and miss. Frangalas found plenty of ball dropping back during term two, but his rotation was up forward, where he constantly got the ball and either wheeled to go long, or dished off quickly to a runner.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 15.14 (104) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 8.3 (51)

By: Nick Kitchell

Bendigo Pioneers:

#4 Jack Hickman

It was a superb day out for the Bendigo mid/forward as he put together a best on ground performance for the Pioneers. It felt as though Hickman was everywhere, utilising his massive tank to get to every contest and more often than not impact it, whether it was digging a handball out of the congestion or using his acceleration to break away and open up the game. He showed confidence in his kicking, backing himself take the game on with kicks into the corridor. An impressive feature of Hickman’s game is his running patterns and positioning, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time. He also exhibited his versatility in his stints down forward, lowering his eyes and delivering a composed pass to teammate who goaled. He then proceeded to reward himself for a hard day’s work, snapping a goal of his own on his left from directly in front in the dying minutes of the game. A trait that stood out whilst Hickman was in the midfield was his competitiveness, laying a strong tackle on the opposition ruckman and showing good aggression against a bigger-bodied Murray midfield.

#13 Jack Evans

Typically found along half-back, Evans spent the entirety of the game on the wing. After a slow start he eventually worked his way into the game, doing most of his damage forward of centre. Evans was always able to impact when the ball came his way, winning his one-on-ones and creating numerous scoring opportunities, including a quality goal off a step from 40 metres out. In what had the potential to be a tough day for an outside midfielder due to the scrappy nature of the game, Evans still managed to be one of the more involved Pioneers in Sunday’s contest on the way to racking up 23 disposals.

#15 Jack Stewart

With numerous absences from the Pioneers’ usual midfield group, Stewart stepped up in a big way. Sharing his time evenly between midfield and forward, he found a good balance between winning the ball on the inside and linking up on the outside, doing both with composure. His spread and work rate up and down the ground was notable, seemingly bobbing up at most contests. Stewart remained busy whilst forward, getting a great front and centre crumb off a marking contest and snapping on goal as well as taking an intercept mark in the forward 50, however put the set shot wide for a minor score. His cleanliness by hand stood out in addition to his willingness to take the short option by foot rather than blazing away.

#36 Will Sheehan

The pillar up forward for the Pioneers, Sheehan bagged a game-high three goals. The smooth moving forward got up and down the ground with ease, reaching as high up as centre wing and wheeling back deep inside forward 50 to contest aerially. Leading up at the ball carrier was where Sheehan looked most dangerous, creating separation from his opponent with ease. A moment that gave a good depiction of Sheehan’s character was when he marked 15 metres out on a slight angle and rather than going back and slotting an easy goal, he gave a handball over the top for a teammate to walk into an open goal, exemplifying his unselfishness. In addition to his offensive ability, Sheehan exhibited strong defensive traits, laying solid tackles as well as working hard to force a forward half turnover in the dying seconds of the game.

#39 Anthony Depasquale

For what Depasquale lacks in athleticism he makes up for in just about every other aspect of his game. Arguably the cleanest player on the ground, Depasquale was near perfect below his knees and created numerous clearances via handballs out of congestion, using his composure to weave his way out of stoppages. Whilst his blue-collar work on the inside cannot be commended enough, Depasquale’s work rate around the ground should also receive praise, finding pockets of space seemingly at will. When not on the ball he spent time forward, utilising his footy smarts to read the ball off the hands of forwards and constantly putting himself in the right position to get the footy. A couple contested marks rounded out Depasquale’s rather complete performance.

#58 Max Dow

A famous name among the Bendigo Pioneers region, Dow looked right at home in his NAB League debut. He adjusted well to the pace of the game from the outset, playing with composure and confidence. For an undersized body, Dow’s attack on the ball was impressive, earning a couple of free kicks thanks to his willingness to take contact from a bigger body. He was busy up forward, creating a turnover and shovelling a handball out to Jack Evans who goaled, as well as creating another scoring shot which sailed wide of the big sticks. In addition to distributing, Dow slotted two goals of his own on debut, one coming from a set shot after a free kick and the other on the run from 30m out. After having a strong first half, Dow was rewarded with some midfield time which was short lived before he was moved back forward.

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

On a day where his team was lacklustre, Byrne was far from it. A player who typically spends his time across half-back or on a wing, the Under 19 Allies squad member made the smoothest of transitions into the midfield, collecting a game-high 32 disposals. Byrne capitalised on his team’s dominance in the ruck, frequently getting first use and utilising his strength to break tackles and get hands free or occasionally backing in his leg speed to burst out of stoppages and send forward one of his game-high 11 inside 50s. When not in the midfield Byrne spent time as a high half-forward, demonstrating a willingness to work high up the ground and get involved in play as opposed to sitting in the forward 50 and waiting for play to come to him. Byrne made a few impressive plays by foot around the ground including some crafty short kicks to teammates, however there were times when he missed easy targets as well as blazing away to a contest rather than lowering his eyes to an open teammate.

#10 Jedd Longmire

A member of the Under 17 NSW-ACT squad, Longmire did plenty of good work in the forward half of the ground as well as being a solid contributor in his time in the midfield. Leading patterns and positioning were standout traits in Longmire’s game when forward, finding good lanes to lead up at the ball carrier as well as putting himself in the right position to be used when in his own forward 50. This smart positioning paid dividends when he placed himself in the perfect spot for a mark inside 50 and proceeded to go back and nail the set shot. In his limited time in the midfield, Longmire exhibited a strong inside game, embracing the physical nature of this contest whilst also being clean under pressure.

#31 Ethan Warburton

The Bushies’ defensive 50 was under attack all day long, and if not for Warburton the final margin would have been far greater. The 18-year-old stood tall all day against the Pioneers forwards, exhibiting some strong intercept marks, the first of which a specky where he flaunted his athletic traits. In addition to his intercepting ability, Warburton provided plenty of rebound for his team in the way of a game-high nine rebound 50s. Trusted with kick-ins, his penetrating left foot ignited numerous attacks for the Bushies which often resulted in forward 50 entries.

#37 Jake Hodgkin

It was a hard day at the office for Hodgkin, however the big-bodied defender did himself no disservice with his performance. You couldn’t ask for much more out of Hodgkin who was just about as reliable as they come in Sunday’s contest. With ball in hand Hodgkin was always composed, breaking tackles and getting his hands free when he got himself into trouble, always finding targets when given time. Defensively Hodgkin didn’t give his opponent an inch, tackling strongly as well as taking a strong intercept mark.

PREVIEW | NAB League rolls on amid representative action

THE NAB League regular season enters double digits this weekend, with Round 10 offering up five fixtures across Saturday and Sunday. While plenty of top end talent will be observed at the Under 19 Victorian trials and Country-Metro Under 17 clash, a solid core of talent remains among the elite talent pathway. Debutants continue to filter through, and more established talent will also get a chance to shine in greater roles.

A much different looking rematch kicks off the round’s action, as Sandringham and Oakleigh do battle at RSEA Park for the second time this season. Both sides are set to field sides with hosts of changes, as up to eight Dragons debutants enter the fold. Among them, Hugo Hall-Kahan has been a standout for Haileybury College, while Charlie Clarke‘s local form for Port Melbourne Colts sees him earn a NAB League berth.

The home side is also set to be bolstered by the return of co-captain Josh Sinn, who has shaken off a hamstring strain. Fellow first round prospect Campbell Chesser is said to be another week away. Sandringham’s midfield will feature the likes of Lachlan Benton and Charlie McKay, under the ruckmanship of St Kilda mid-season recruit Max Heath. Up either end, 20th-year players Felix Flockart and Jesse Castan fill out the spine.

Oakleigh’s midfield will also be full of experience, with top-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Sam Collins poised for a permanent run. Collins, a Tasmanian who debuted for Oakleigh last week, is also familiar to the half-back role and even started up forward in Round 9. Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy and Allies squad member Patrick Voss is another to watch for Oakleigh, as he continues his defensive apprenticeship.

Northern Knights take on Calder Cannons at Preston City Oval in a second all-metro clash for the day, with a number of club-aligned players set to feature across either team. Jackson Archer (son of Glenn) will again line up in the Knights’ defence, alongside Carlton Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Regan Uwandu. Blues fans can also look out for father-son eligible pair Tom Gleeson (Adrian) and Dane Whitnall (Lance) for Calder.

Essendon has a few potential academy and father-son prospects to monitor, all on the Cannons’ side. Bottom-ager NGA pair Carlos Egan and Reuben Rode get a crack at Under 19s level, while Josh Misiti returns to the fold after making his debut in Round 1 and featuring thrice. The likes of Sam Clohesy and Jack Rossimel are handy types who were overlooked for trial duties, while bottom-agers Caleb Burquest and Josh Hamilton should enjoy a few tussles in midfield.

Western Jets and Eastern Ranges round out Saturday’s action, locking horns at Downer Oval. Fresh off honours in the cricketing realm, Jets leader Billy Cootee will line up in midfield, potentially across from Ranges skipper Josh Clarke, who plays his second game for the season. Geelong-listed rookie Paul Tsapatolis is back in the ruck for the hosts, while Sahaf Ali is one to watch up forward for the Ranges after a promising debut last week.

Proceedings head down to Tasmania on Sunday as the Devils host Dandenong in Launceston, with the Stingrays hit hard by the weekend’s representative fixtures. Fresh off a 97-point triumph in Round 9, the visitors will be heavily rotated coming into this clash. The Devils’ side featured Allies squad members Baker Smith (centre half-back) and Jye Menzie (half-forward), the latter of which was best afield for his side last time out.

Seeing out the weekend’s play, Bendigo battles with Murray in Echuca, making for a replay of their Round 7 meeting. The Pioneers are set to unleash Max Dow, the third brother to enter through the NAB League pathway. NSW-ACT Under 17 squad members Jason Gillbee and Jedd Longmire will line up on opposite sides, while solid draft eligible players also remain.

Budding Allies representatives Charlie Byrne, Ryan Eyers, Cameron McLeod, and Toby Murray will all feature for the Bushrangers, while Essendon VFL-experienced pair Jack Hickman and Jack Evans should bolster Bendigo on either side of midfield.

Jack Hickman in action for Essendon VFL | Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Country regions Geelong, Gippsland, and Greater Western Victoria all have byes this round.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 9

METRO regions returned to the NAB League in Round 9 as full-time competition resuming, with seven games played on a bumper weekend of action. It meant plenty of Victorian, Tasmanian, and Giants Academy prospects were able to show their wares ahead of the Under 17 and 19 National Championships, with a good amount of budding representatives strutting their stuff in style. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side, in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 9 snapshot

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 7.10 (52) def. by NORTHERN KNIGHTS 14.10 (94)

By: Declan Reeve

Oakleigh Chargers:

#3 Nick Daicos

Once again topping the disposal count for the game, Daicos took some time to work into the contest, looking uncharacteristically rushed with his disposal early as Northern burst out of the blocks. When he found his feet later on in the first quarter he returned to his usual classy self, with his ball use, particularly by foot, damaging offensively as he looked to put it into space for his forwards to run onto. He would also handball to teammates already on the fly, keeping Oakleigh moving quickly forward. He continued on with his top level positioning around the midfield, especially at stoppages, to be a constant danger once he had figured out how to play on his opponent – regularly Northern’s Josh Ward.

#14 Sam Darcy

The rapidly rising Western Bulldogs father-son prospect further solidified his claims to the best key position prospect in the pool, with a strong display where he was put into a few different spots. Starting the day in the defensive 50, Darcy looked clean throughout, showing off some clean pick-ups below his knees early on where he followed up with good use by foot, usually into central spots to keep the ground open for Oakleigh up ahead. In the second quarter he seemingly couldn’t drop anything, holding onto the ball overhead even when there was heavy contact, or in pack situations. It was impressive to see his confidence to take the game on following his marks, happy to play on and get past or around opponents to get extra distance and penetration on his kicks. He played a little more in the ruck in the third term where his height was too much to deal with for Northern, directing the ball well from the taps clear from his opposition ruck. In the forwardline, he presented well even with a heavy lockdown focus from the opposition, getting himself a goal in the fourth term.

#33 Patrick Voss

Having less time away than most on ground due to his games for the Giants Academy, Voss looked one of the most up to the task on field, switching from his usual forward role into the defensive half, which paid off wonderfully. He was a threat aerially and generally used the ball well coming out of defence, but what was most impressive was his physicality and confidence with his tackling and carry of the ball. He performed two really good fend-offs in the second quarter, where he had the ball and put his opponents to ground, with the second one being followed by a good run forward and a torpedo kick to a pack. He moved into the midfield later on where that physicality was again on show as he ran through opponents when hunting for the ball.

Northern Knights:

#3 Josh Ward

Arguably the best on ground across both sides, Ward was a step above with his ball winning and clean disposal throughout the game, despite the wet conditions. While it took others a while to work into it, he was ready from the get go. Ward set the tone early, winning the first clearance and kicking well long for a teammate to mark and convert the first goal of the game, and it only continued on from there. Able to get the ball out quickly to teammates, he became a dangerous option for Northern around the ground, made even more obvious by their efforts to get it in his hands. A point of interest from Ward’s game was the fact he often put himself on Oakleigh’s Nick Daicos around stoppages, able to negate his usual impact well in the early stages of the game whilst not letting his own numbers slip.

#7 Ewan Macpherson

The ever reliable inside bull flourished in the conditions early on and then maintained his impact in the latter stages of the game when it became more and more contested. His follow up efforts around the contest and the ground were impressive, applying pressure and laying tackles to everyone that got within arm’s reach, while also able to pick the ball up even when under heavy pressure and fire out hands to outside runners.

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Wilmot was consistently seen streaming out of defence with ball in hand, trying to be creative with his disposal in order to make Northern more dangerous on the rebound. Whilst he occasionally struggled to execute his skills when running at full speed, overall he hit it his targets more often than not. His workrate was exceptional; proving just as willing to work hard offensively by pushing up and getting handball receives, as he was to run back and impact contests or lay tackles. He came into his own in the second half in particular, as Northern started to run over the top of Oakleigh, as he provided a dangerous option behind the ball.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Felt like he brought his own footy at stages in the game given how much he had it. Was just a constant sight on the inside of contests, battling hard to keep Northern in possession then disposing of it to teammates who were in space. As usual he worked hard defensively as well, seemingly landing every tackle and impressing with his follow up on the ball when it spilled, able to beat all comers to it and hand it out. Whilst he didn’t have many ‘flashy’ moments through the game, Trudgeon was just consistent and showed good football instinct with his positioning, timing and use by hand.

#27 Jason McCormick

The bottom-aged small forward had a game to be proud of, registering a game-high four goals. His read of the ball off hands led to him crumbing well off of packs, able to see if the ball was going to go over the top or in front of the contest and hit the area at speed to pick the ball up, usually with one grab, consistently. Despite being smaller in height than most on field, he wasn’t afraid to compete for the ball in air, leaping for a few high balls and reaching impressive heights, whilst showing strong leading patterns and impressive speed to get separation from opponents. 

GWV REBELS 11.8 (74) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.5 (41)

By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#2 Ben Hobbs

An outstanding game from the inside midfielder who racked up a massive amount of the ball and never took a backwards step. In conditions that suited him to a t, Hobbs was a work horse on the inside and just crashed and bashed his way around the ground. Despite injury ruling him out of the first part of the year, Hobbs showed no signs of being held back by it, using the ball by hand regularly and racking up the possessions with ease from the opening bounce. Always under pressure, Hobbs has to rush his kicks, but it was his hands in close which stood out, as well as his fierce tackling. Hobbs won a free kick for being taken high in the second term and earned a 50m penalty where he slotted it from the goalsquare. He had another flying shot on goal running hard from the initial centre square stoppage to receive the ball and launch on goal, only to just miss to the left. Hobbs kicked his second goal from a forward stoppage in the final term, with a clever snap around his body sailing home. His natural footy IQ combined with his desire to never lose a contest made him a difficult player to contain.

#3 Charlie Molan

Started the game with a clever intercept in the middle, reading the handball from an opposition to steal it back and give it off. Composed with ball in hand, Molan spreads well to the outside and often looked to draw the opponent in before firing off the handball to a teammate. Late in the second quarter, Molan pushed back deep into defence and produced a long, accurate kick to the wing, and then early in the third term was back mopping up in defence again. He tried to spin out of trouble in the middle at one stage in the third but was pinged for holding the ball, though he is able to use both feet which helps him get out of trouble when being corralled.

#6 Marcus Herbert

Herbert donned the long sleeves and found plenty of it in the wet, showing clean hands at ground level and being able to shovel out passes to teammates on the outside. He had some more time in the first half where he was able to spread and win a few uncontested marks, and whilst his kicking under pressure was a bit rushed, he used it well with time on his side. Herbert had a nice passage of play in the third term where he dribbled a kick out of the defensive stoppage and then ran hard to win the next possession via hand, before distributing to a teammate. His clean flick out of a stoppage to an open runner early in the fourth, and his hard ball get to aide in Hobbs’ goal meant he had an influence on the game.

#13 Sam Breuer

Set the tone with Hobbs early, going in for a fierce tackle and then getting the ball away to a teammate, and went on to have an impressive game. Winning a match-high 35 disposals, Breuer covered the ground well and kicked a remarkable thumping goal from the wing. By the wing, that’s centre wing, where an open goalsquare saw it bounce home and in early in the first term. Throughout the match Breuer worked hard for his touches, showing good hands in the wet, spreading well and applying immense defensive pressure. He had a poor turnover in the second term trying to cross from the middle to half-forward, but otherwise was able to impact going forward.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

Rotating through the midfield, Ballantyne had a few nice moments throughout the match, which included a release handball to Breuer for that long goal, and then showing some nice toe of his own to burst away from an opponent at half-forward. The right footer showed he can kick off his left as well, and predominantly looked to open up the play by hand or with a short kick, finishing off with a good goal from an uncontested mark 20m out in the final term. He then produced a well-weighted kick to Josh Gibcus up forward, but the usual defender missed to the left.

Murray Bushrangers:

#8 Zavier Maher

Maher provided some experience and stoppage nous around the contest, able to win the ball in close and use his elite sidestep to get himself out of trouble. A few times he was a little fumbly, such as dropping a mark on the wing then unable to gather quickly, though he redeemed himself with some great second efforts. He read the taps at the stoppages well, and took a strong contested juggling mark late in the game at half-back. Maher had a flying snap on goal in the second term, but it did not swing enough and missed to the left.

#9 Kade Chalcraft

Started strongly with a gather from the stoppage, and got back in defence to help out not long after to clear the ball to half-back and move it on quickly. Playing on-ball, Chalcraft used his stronger frame to frame in and protect the ball when required, lay a big tackle or shovel it out to the outside. Chalcraft had a flying shot from 50m out under pressure just drifted it to the left early in the second term. At one stage in the second quarter, he was tackled by multiple opponents then still shovelled it out showing great strength.

#52 Tom Bracher

Playing on the last line, Bracher provided some good run and carry out of defence to be one of the best Murray players on the day. He read the ball in flight consistently and then was able to run off and receive the handball when he was not marking it. He timed his marking attempts well, and when he had to spoil, using the ball well by foot coming out of defence. He had a big opening term and took a couple of intercept marks in the opening half, tasked with the kickout duties for the Bushrangers on the day. He took some risky passes at times but was able to open the game up through the middle or via a switch, nailing the short harp attempts to his teammates in the back half more often than not.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 12.11 (83) def. EASTERN RANGES 5.5 (35)

By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes

In perhaps Howes’ best game this year, he made the wing position his own after playing the bulk of his time as a high half-forward earlier in the year. Howes, standing at 190cm, moves incredibly well for a player of his stature, with his agility over the ground and clean hands – not just overhead but also at ground level – a real feature in his game against Eastern Ranges. One of the best showcases of his talent came in the second quarter, taking a nice mark at half-back before quickly playing on, showing his great speed and willingness to take the game on. He would get better as the game went on as well, showing great skill at the back of stoppages and with a 50m penalty, he converted a goal which was reward for his efforts up to that point. Howes finished the game with 18 disposals in what is two very strong back to back games for Sandringham Dragons.

#17 Finn Callaghan

Callaghan has likely left the wing position behind him playing for Sandringham, as he has not only excelled in his move to the stoppages, but is starting to look like one of the prime midfielders in this year’s draft crop. His game against Eastern was his most complete game to date. It felt like Callaghan was everywhere, not just having an influence at stoppages in winning multiple clearances, but also getting the ball in open play using his trademark agility to escape congestion, leaving opponents in his wake. It’s hard to showcase as a wingman, but as he is now playing on the inside more he has started to show good attack on the loose ball, showing great balance to his outside class which was already well noted. That harder edge is what will push him towards the very top end of the draft and with a game high 31 disposals to go with four tackles and seven inside 50s, Callaghan’s stocks continue to improve.

#32 Dante Visentini

In his best outing to date, the Under 16 Vic Metro representative showed why he won those accolades back in 2019 with a strong display playing forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck. Visentini was a real threat in the air, taking some strong marks highlighted with one contested grab inside 50 in the third quarter. He would miss the resultant set shot there, but his marking on the wing was also impressive, showing he could get on his bike and present as a leading option all over the ground. Visentini finished the game with 13 disposals, seven marks, 13 hit outs and a goal in a timely reminder to recruiters of his talent ahead of the National Championships.

#52 Luke Nankervis

The smooth moving forward hasn’t been the type of forward to kick bags of goals, but he is certainly one of the more creative ones in this year’s crop with his clean hands and agility with ball in hand real features of his game. That was again evident against Eastern Ranges, where Nankervis showed a great ability to take the ball cleanly below his knees and get his arms up to release by hand. Although he hasn’t been able to use those hands in marking contests, he does have that in his arsenal. Defensively, Nankervis was also very sound with six tackles for the game, with one in the first quarter rewarded for holding the ball. If Nankervis can start to really weave around opponents more often with his agility and start to be a threat in the air, he will cause major headaches for any defender. Nankervis finished the game with 18 disposals and five inside 50s.

#61 Max Heath

The newest acquisition to the St Kilda Football Club, Heath was an imposing force around the ground with his trademark bash and crash style on show – not just in the ruck, but also up forward where he would lay multiple bone crunching tackles. Heath relishes on the tackling side of football, which showed with his five tackles and every one of them certainly left his opponent worse for ware. Heath’s ruck work was also good, forming a great partnership with his on-ballers – especially Finn Callaghan who was fed some quality taps from Heath. The AFL-listed bigman finished the game with seven disposals, five tackles and 21 hit-outs in a typical Heath display.

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

It wasn’t Sonsie’s day, with the classy first round prospect struggling to really get going in the midfield and despite looking good when he got the ball at stoppages, those moments were few and far between by his lofty standards. Usually a dangerous forward threat, Sonsie had numerous opportunities to kick some majors but just couldn’t get the finish, missing some snaps at goal he would usually nail. Things wouldn’t get any better for Sonsie late on, going down with a suspected lower leg injury while being tackled early in the last quarter. Sonsie finished the game with 15 disposals and four tackles and we can only hope the leg injury isn’t too serious.

#5 Jake Soligo

In what was Soligo’s most prolific game to date, the hard nosed Eastern Ranges midfielder proved why he was considered one of Victoria’s most promising midfielders after his strong performances in the 2019 Under 16 National Championships. Soligo was a workhorse through the midfield, winning plenty of the ball at the coalface while also getting back into defence to help his defenders. That defensive nous was on show in the second quarter with a strong intercept mark sitting in the hole, as well as a crunching tackle on fellow hardnut Charlie McKay. Soligo looked elusive and composed whenever he got possession and although it has taken a few games for Soligo to find his feet, he looks to have hit his straps at the right time with Vic Metro soon to take on Allies in the Under 19 National Championships, Soligo finished with a team-high 29 disposals to go with eight marks and 10 tackles.

#8 Nick Watson

A player not eligible for the draft until 2023, the nippy and creative forward only stands at 168cm but his impact and smarts make him an incredible prospect to look out for, and he couldn’t have impressed more in his NAB League debut. Watson was active early, having no issue finding the ball and offering plenty of pressure inside 50. His first goal came on the half time siren where he would kick an impressive major from long range. His second was even better in the last quarter, kicking an incredible snap hard on the boundary from a set shot, showing his obvious class and skill. He was rewarded for his first half with some midfield time in the second half and he again showed plenty of dash and skill through the middle. Watson finished with 13 disposals, five tackles and kicked 2.1 and looks a player to watch for Vic Metro in the upcoming Under 17 championships.

#31 Tyreece Leiu

After starting the year in the midfield and up forward, Leiu has had a stunning turn of form playing down back in recent times for Eastern Ranges. His intercept marking was a key feature of his game, taking strong marks in the contest and reading the play really well. The Eastern Ranges defence was adept at taking intercept marks, non more-so than Leiu, but it was also his intercepts in general where he would body line a loose contest and either take the ball himself or cause a 50/50, using his stronger frame to his advantage. Leiu finished the game with 26 disposals, nine marks and nine rebound 50s in a performance which could have solidified his spot in Vic Metro’s backline in the upcoming Under 19 National Championships.

#49 Sahaf Ali

Another exciting debutant for the Eastern Ranges, Ali showed plenty of eye catching traits up forward with his leap and marking ability on show multiple times. The East Ringwood prospect had impressed in his senior EFL debut and has taken that form into the NAB League, where he looks to be a mainstay for the rest of the year. The athletic forward wouldn’t kick a goal until the last quarter, which came from a free kick, but he was certainly one of the more dangerous marking options and he even got a run in the midfield later in the game, showing some versatility. Ali finished the game with 11 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and kicked 1.1.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 8.16 (64) def. TASMANIA DEVILS 8.10 (58)

By: Eli Duxson

Giants Academy:

#1 Harrison Grintell

Grintell was crafty, hovering around the half-forward flank all game while also showing a strong intent to hit the contest hard and do his bit defensively. It was his attacking play that stood out on the day though, as he notched seven inside 50’s with impressive sprinting efforts with and without the ball. His ability in space matched his silkiness in tight as his agility allowed him to get out of packs and deliver to a teammate on several occasions. This play led to a goal after a pair of disposals on centre wing saw him deliver to hit a teammate inside forward 50. His field kicking was sound, but he could not quite convert the way he would have liked, kicking 1.2. Grintell also finished with 18 disposals.

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Probably GWS’ best on the day, showing a willingness to hit legs and cover ground to make his way to stoppages and contests all over the ground, but staying mostly between the arcs as a link player. His work rate to contests was on par with his aggression once he got there, often trying to get first hands on it at stoppages with his bustling style. He did also play a role for his side being the sweeper many times to which he received some balls to slingshot forward or move laterally. Hamblin put in some big efforts in the tense final quarter which was eventually rewarded with an off-the-ball free kick, which saw him slot through a set shot from 30 metres out to give the Giants a two-goal buffer. He managed 29 disposals, seven marks, and five inside 50s.

#24 Sam Frost

The GWS captain led all comers with 30 disposals and a whopping 10 rebound 50s. That probably typifies his game as well as possible, as the defender looked solid in one-on-ones, while also looking to attack once the ball hit the deck managing six inside 50s. He played a bit like Brandon Starcevich showing good confidence aerially to mark, while also being a steady user by foot. There were several blunders on his behalf however, including a lazy kick, two free kicks, and a 50-metre penalty which could have resulted in Tasmania goals but luckily did not. Beyond those though, he led valiantly for the Giants.

#31 Josh Green

It seemed no position was impossible for Green as he tried his hand everywhere bar the defence on Sunday. Starting as a lead up forward, he kicked GWS’ first goal of the game with a tidy finish across his body, looking dangerous for in one-on-one situations. His mobility once the ball hit the ground posed more problems for Tasmania as he could bust through packs due to his size. He moved into the middle in the second half and made good decisions with his hands in tight, while also showing a willingness to work back and help defensively at stoppages. Green rucked in the forwardline when he was there, but also rotated as the main ruck at times, especially in the final quarter as he became another midfielder after the ruck contest. He finished with 20 disposals and four marks to go with his goal.

Tasmania Devils:

#12 Jye Menzie

Tasmania’s best on the day playing predominantly half-forward, he managed three goals from 15 disposals, with his goals all coming in the first half. His first two were bursts into space to snap through well, with his third being a set shot after the half-time siren to put Tasmania back in front. He scrapped and hustled in contests and showed a cleanliness in tight not many others on the ground possessed. His defensive abilities were adequate for his role, but his forward movement showed he has a good sense for the forward craft.

#22 Baker Smith

The key defender was generally very good with his positioning and body in aerial contests, being rarely beaten. Repeat entries challenged him, like it would most defenders, but his ability to read the flight of the ball was impressive knowing when to spoil and when to mark. Even more impressive was his temperament. He did not look flustered within his defensive role despite the +22 inside 50s for the Giants, but he also did not give any free kicks away which can be easy to do playing on key forwards.

CALDER CANNONS 10.12 (72) def. WESTERN JETS 8.9 (57)

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

Shifting between the wing and forwardline, Clohesy warmed to the contest and showcased some of his best traits as it wore on. While Calder often opted to play a controlled kick-mark style, Clohesy looked to break the play open with his penetrative disposal by foot, seeing him gain good meterage along the line. His strong overhead marking also came to the fore, with Clohesy clunking some nice grabs in important areas to either intercept, or help keep Calder in possession. Overall a solid outing, with the top-ager ending on 23 disposals and 12 marks.

#5 Zac Taylor

Arguably the best player afield, Taylor was a consistent ball winner for Calder and a productive member of the midfield-forward rotation. A crafty type on the ball, he always took his time in possession and looked to create with his kicks. While some of those kicks were delivered a touch short in the early stages, Taylor continued to back his skills and went on to hit leading targets inside 50. He finished with a game-high 32 disposals and nine inside 50s, while also contributing defensively with a couple of notable chase-down tackles.

#25 Josh Goater

The big body in Calder’s midfield, Goater played the distributor role perfectly at stoppages with his clean hands and strength in tight spots. He often got first hands to the ball and proved difficult to tackle, allowing for fluent ball movement to the outer where runners awaited. Goater is a terrific athlete and showed as much aerially with a spekky during the second term, but could perhaps better showcase his explosiveness at stoppages by pumping his legs instead of always dishing to the first option. Finishing with 28 touches, Goater was typically efficient with his ball use.

#30 Sam Paea

That standout key forward afield, Paea produced arguably his best outing to date. The high-marking Cannon proved near-unstoppable when allowed a full run at the ball, rising to clunk some outstanding overhead marks with his combination of reach and vertical leap. His athleticism also allowed for handy separation on the lead, as Paea worked hard up the ground to provide a link into attack for Calder. He seems a real confidence player, so is still a touch inconsistent with his goalkicking but still managed to convert four set shot goals with fluency. Eight marks and four majors from 13 disposals makes for good reading.

#41 Liam Podhajski

Making his NAB League return after gaining senior experience in the VFL, Podhajski took some of the learnings he inevitably made back into the elite junior competition. The developing ruckman showcased his vertical ability with sizeable leaps at each centre bounce, before following up nicely at ground level. He did not have as profound an impact around the ground in terms of marking, but still had his moments and dropped behind the ball nicely when Western was attacking. His directional work was also handy in the ruck, including some deft taps over his shoulder.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

White ended as Western’s leading ball winner on the day with 23 disposals, which included seven inside 50s and three rebound 50s. He was a positive member of the midfield mix, constantly looking to generate some forward spark with his run and foot skills coming away from the contest. The top-ager backed his speed in those instances but was also quite no-fuss around the ball with quick and clean touches at the contest. He missed a chance to hit the scoreboard via a set shot during term three, but had a solid day overall.

#32 Paul Curtis

Curtis was again Western’s most productive forward, leaning on his smarts and goal sense to snare three goals from five scoring shots. Mostly stationed deep inside 50, he presented well for a player of his size to mark on the lead, while also holding his own in one-on-one situations. He snared two majors via those methods with set shots, with his third an opportunistic volley from the goalsquare. Curtis also tackled well, laying five overall, including a strong effort in the pocket to earn another shot on goal.

#33 Billy Cootee

Western’s skipper lead from the front on Sunday, working hard in midfield and showing positive attacking intent with ball in hand. He would often mark uncontested and look to wheel around quickly to release long by foot, allowing Western’s forwards to get to work on swift inside 50 entries. He also impacted at the contest, with his clearance work at the centre bounces helping the Jets stay in touch during the third term. His urgency remained heading into the closing stages with more of that typical meterage, and Cootee also made his mark with a well-hit snap goal late in the opening quarter.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 6.10 (46) def. by DANDENONG STINGRAYS 22.11 (143)

By: Peter Williams

Bendigo Pioneers:

#15 Jack Stewart

One of the more lively Pioneers on the day, Stewart showed off some neat evasion skills and clean hands in close. More often than not, the midfielder was able to identify the target he needed to hit, and threaded the needle through traffic. His kicking at times was rushed when in play, often trying to open up angles and go long, but when resting forward, Stewart kicked a couple of goals, one from a good mark on the lead and set shot in the second term, and another running into an open goal in the final few minutes of the match.

#29 Cooper Smith

Provided great run out of defence and down the ground, often acting as the interceptor in the back half of the ground. He was often under pressure and forced to rush his kicks, but he kept accumulating the ball and just looking to take grass at every opportunity. One of the Pioneers more prominent ball-winners, he was under siege more often than not, but kept working hard throughout the game.

#56 Harley Reid

A real eye-catcher on the day, Reid was strong in the contest and able to stand up in tackles to get free by brute force, At one stage late in the first term he produced a low bullet to a teammate going inside 50 after leading out to take a great grab. He did not win a heap of the ball, but seemed to look dangerous every time he went near it, clunking a good mark in the final term and converting the set shot.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

Possessing high level footy smarts, incredibly clean hands and a great goal sense, Kyle feasted on the Stingrays’ dominance going forward to slot 3.1 from limited touches roaming deep inside 50. He was a worry for the opposition, and still provided that defensive pressure required of him, providing a contest in the air or at ground level. His first goal came with a great run and mark heading with the flight towards goal. He missed his second set shot from straight in front in the second term, then snuck out the back of a contest, to use one mitt to win the ball at speed and kick with the outside of the boot for a goal. More impressively, his second term run-down tackle forced a turnover and goal for the Stingrays. He nailed his third goal in the third term from a mark and set shot.

#3 Miller Bergman

Bergman covered the ground well and was involved from early on, putting pressure on the opposition.He pushed to the outside and an early touch 12 minutes into the game lead to a Stingrays’ goal. He slotted a nice goal on the run himself in the second term from a one-two in one of the plays of the day. Bergman provided some good run throughout the game, worked hard and generally made the right decisions with ball-in-hand, setting up a goal to Judson Clarke in the final term. Bergman then capped off his day with a tidy snap from the pocket as casual as you like to slot home his second.

#14 Will Bravo

Played the role you would come to expect of the talent who was close to earning a spot on an AFL list. He looked too strong for his opponents and showed off his athletic traits in close, often winning the ball and getting and going forward, accumulating the ball at will. Bravo was clean at ground level and able to move through the stoppages well, finding the space to exit. He gave away a number of free kicks going hard at the contest, but his spread and work rate was really impressive, and you can never doubt his intent at the coal face where he really did his best work.

#17 Bryce Milford

Started his day in defence to smack a wayward set shot into the behind post, but funnily enough found himself slotting four majors up the other end. The left footer found plenty of space on the outside, though he was fumbly at ground level, needing to take the ball a little cleaner at times. When in possession and playing his game, Milford was dangerous, missing a chance early in the third term, then went to work slotting four goals in the final 39 minutes of the match. His first was from a mark and lead nine minutes into the third quarter, then he took a good contested grab at half-forward, played on and slotted it from 50m, before kicking back-to-back goals in the fourth, the first from an uncontested mark and the second from getting behind his opponent to get boot to ball on the run.

#23 Jai Neal

A strong presence in the air, Neal’s marking was noticeable throughout the game, positioning himself well in the back 50 from the opening few minutes and taking back-to-back intercept marks in the hole. Neal had a really big first term with plenty of involvements both in the back 50 and pushing up the ground to impact the contest. As the game went well and truly on the Stingrays’ terms, Neal had less work to do, but still positioning himself well.

#40 Colby Nayna

Had a really eye-catching game up forward pushing further afield at times to slot three goals from 13 touches and always look dangerous. His first involvement was an incredibly high leap to grab midway through the first term, with his set shot sailing through the middle. He slotted his second just five minutes later from another mark on the lead, showing his burst to create separation from opponents. He is quick off the first few steps and then set up a goal to Sam Frangalas with a well-weighted kick. His used the ball well by hand or foot and kicked his third in the third quarter on the run cleverly reading the drop of the ball off hands inside 50.

#42 James Cahill

Cahill worked hard around the ground to provide plenty of drive going forward. Not only did he pump the ball inside 50 time and time again, but applied defensive pressure – through tackling or implied pressure – to opponents. Midway through the first term, he got free inside 50, gathered the ball well under pressure and snapped around his body for his first goal. He then played a part in the next forward thrust with a mark, then a rushed handball that proved effective and lead to a goal off the next disposal. He had a chance for goal early in the second term running in but drifted to the left. at times Cahill was a little fumbly under pressure, but he still had an overall solid game, kicking his second goal from a mark and set shot in the third term.

#48 Declan Cole

The leading ball winner on the ground, Cole just accumulated the pill with ease in the big win. He cracked in hard alongside Bravo and Henry Berenger and won a lot of his touches in close be it himself or as the first handball receiver spreading from the contest. Late in the first term he had a set shot but missed to the right in his only score for the day, but his best work was done up the field. He was strong overhead and looked to open up the play when possible and get it to dangerous areas. He made a mistake in the second term missing a crucial handball in defensive 50 which lead to a shot on goal, but generally attacked the ball carrier well and worked hard up and down the ground.

GIPPSLAND POWER 6.9 (45) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.13 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Moschetti offered real class on the ball with his movement coming away from traffic, as he sped into space before looking to deliver by foot. The draft eligible midfielder did well to shift to the outside and managed to get Gippsland going with a couple of running bounce passages, even if the end product was not always effective. He added a stylish centre bounce break to his game in the final quarter, and finished with 20 disposals.

#9 Will Papley

Rotating forward from the midfield, Papley proved a slippery customer with ball in hand. He was hard on the inside with his speed and tackling pressure, but also presented nicely for a small forward when stationed inside 50. He often led to the ball at half-forward, before wheeling around and pumping a long kick to the hot spot. The top-ager finished strongly with more time in midfield, getting busy at the contest and continuing to provide important defensive acts. Papley was lively overall, finishing with 21 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

D’Angelo was quite crafty and clean with his work on the inside, winning the contested ball and getting it out to receivers on the outer by hand. In more open play, the Gippsland leader looked quite polished in possession with his short kicking, able to find the ball in dangerous areas and deliver forward by foot. He contributed to a couple of scores with that kind of work; the first was an intercept mark from a kick-in which he handed off, and the second was a clever knock on which allowed Chance Doultree to waltz inside 50 and convert a major score.

Geelong Falcons:

#12 Noah Gribble

Gribble continues to be one of the more consistent accumulators in the NAB League, racking up another game-high tally of 32 disposals on the back of sheer work rate and smarts. Having transitioned to the inside, he was able to contribute neat touches around the contest with clean and quick hands, having no trouble finding the ball. As the play broke either way, the top-ager worked hard to impact in either arc and provide an outlet coming out of defence. He seemed a lot more assured in possession, not rushing his disposals as much and not trying to do too much with each touch.

#32 Noah Gadsby

One of the more handy inclusions to this Geelong side of late, Gadsby was able to showcase some of his high-level athletic traits on Sunday. The top-ager was stationed forward for most of the day but worked hard up the ground and was also given a late run in the midfield, attending centre bounces during term four. His athleticism was mostly observed in overhead marking contests, where Gadsby rose well to contest with courage. He also leant on his running capacity to work over his opponent en route to collecting 28 disposals, while also becoming a threat inside 50 with four scoring shots. Only one of them was a goal, converted craftily from a quick snap in the pocket.

#56 Oscar Morrison

The intercept marking defender continues to make strong strides in 2021, putting in a strong shift across the backline and cutting off a number of Gippsland attacks. Morrison was superb aerially, reading the play and flight of the ball beautifully to rise third-up and cleanly take some quality grabs in the back half. He was hardly beaten in the air, but also distributed the ball with good poise and skill to keep the Falcons out of trouble, proving a no-fuss kind of operator.

#60 Toby Conway

Conway returned another strong showing in the ruck, proving too big and strong with his 204cm frame. He showed good confidence to grab out of the ruck and dispose of the ball, while also continuing to show handy ruck craft with his directional taps. He protected his space well and was quite strong on the ball, looking a touch more comfortable in possession than in other weeks. Conway also positioned nicely down the line and behind the ball, with his impact around the ground an area of growth.

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 9

THE 2021 NAB League season rolled on into Round 9 over the weekend, with metro regions returning to the fold. A few school football fixtures were rescheduled too, meaning the wealth of talent filtering back through the competition was at a high. This week’s squad is headlined by Player of the Week candidates Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) and Josh Ward (Northern Knights), who earn starting spots in midfield on the back of dazzling 34-disposal displays.

Hobbs also laid nine tackles and booted two goals in the Rebels’ win over Murray, marking a sparkling return from injury for the tough inside midfielder. He is joined by teammates Sam Breuer (wing) and Marcus Herbert (bench), who were squeezed out of the centre bounce mix but both ticked over 30 touches in terrific individual outings. Murray’s Tom Bracher is the other to feature from that game, earning a spot in the back pocket for his efforts in defence this week.

Ward’s feats were made all the more impressive by the fact he lined up on Nick Daicos, taking on the role with aplomb while also advancing his own game. Daicos produced another high-numbers game with 37 disposals to continue his remarkable season, joined by fellow father-son prospect Sam Darcy (centre half-back) and Giants Academy member Patrick Voss (half-back) in the starting lineup. Ward is also supported by teammates, namely partner-in-crime Joel Trudgeon and dashing defender Darcy Wilmot.

Other standouts across the squad include Finn Callaghan, who was best afield in his relatively new midfield role for Sandringham Dragons, while intercept marking machine Tyreece Leiu and busy midfielder Jake Soligo were productive for Eastern. Noah Gribble and Zac Taylor were also arguably best afield in their respective wins, while forwards Sam Paea and Bryce Milford bagged four goals each to earn a spot.

The Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels all lay claim to three squad members, along with the Calder Cannons. Fellow victors Sandringham, Geelong, Dandenong, and the Giants Academy all boast two players apiece, with Eastern the only Round 9 loser to produce multiple candidates this time around. With competition for spots at a premium, particularly in midfield, three losing sides did not have any players included.

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 9

FB: Darcy Wilmot (NK), Tyreece Leiu (ER), Tom Bracher (MB)
HB: Patrick Voss (OC), Sam Darcy (OC), Sam Frost (GWS)

C: Sam Breuer (GWV), Ben Hobbs (GWV), Noah Gribble (GF)

HF: Joel Trudgeon (NK), Dante Visentini (SD), Bryce Milford (DS)
FF: Jye Menzie (TD), Sam Paea (CC), Noah Gadsby (GF)

FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS), Josh Ward (NK), Finn Callaghan (SD)

INT: Nick Daicos (OC), Josh Goater (CC), Marcus Herbert (GWV), Colby Nanya (DS), Jake Soligo (ER), Zac Taylor (CC)

EMG: Oscar Morrison (GF), Billy Cootee (WJ), Will Bravo (DS)