Tag: matt mcguinness

2019 AFL Draft club review: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne came into the 2019 AFL Draft with the potential to snap up a trio of sliders in the second round via picks in quick succession, or perhaps even trade up and get in the thick of the first round action. The latter somewhat ended up being the case, with the ‘Roos’ recruiting team opting for a couple of long-term fixes to go with creativity and guile going forward. There was also a good news story out of their Rookie Draft selection, with a much-improved overager taken out of their Next Generation Academy to make up a solid spine of choices.

National Draft:
31. Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
34. Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
35. Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 188cm | 81kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
Cat-B. Matt McGuinness (Tasmania/Allies) | 195cm | 77kg | Tall Utility

The likes of North Melbourne and Richmond were two clubs whose hauls coming into night two looked like shaping respective five-pick sections of the draft, and North’s three-pick cluster in the 30s allowed them to add depth across multiple bases. After placing a bid on Hawthorn father-son Finn Maginness – which was inevitably matched –  the ‘Roos shuffled down the order but were able to secure one of the more sought-after talls of the draft. In a pool short on key position options, Charlie Comben is a developing type with good overhead marking and ruck craft who can provide long-term fold in the key forward and ruck departments, which are currently accounted for.

Jump over a few picks and Jack Mahony was next off the board, with North’s recruiting team putting him more in the small forward category. A capable midfielder at junior level, Mahony’s size means the engine room will be a bit of a reach for him early on, but his ball finding capacity and work rate really suits that high half forward role. His craftiness going forward will also be a handy point of difference for the Kangaroos’ side, with the Sandringham product able to hit those 45-degree targets with rare vision and skill.

Flynn Perez is the kind of player many thought North would target coming into the draft, with his outside speed and class evident during a promising bottom-age season for Bendigo Pioneers. Of course, the ‘Roos had to promise Perez he would not be forgotten as he injured his knee early in 2019, meaning he did not take the field at all this year. But the willingness for clubs to pick players coming off long-term injuries – even as early as the first round – means Perez could well be a bargain given his high ceiling and readymade body shape.

Rounding out North’s draft haul was the Category B selection of Tasmanian utility Matt McGuinness, who came on well during his 19-year-old season in the NAB League. An Allies representative to boot, McGuinness is effectively a free hit with high upside who is capable in the air and possesses a penetrating kick on the outside. While he still needs to fill out, he could be a long-term key position option or that in-vogue intercept defender who can rebound just as well.

Overall, North Melbourne was able to gather a diverse haul of draftees and gains long-term coverage in a range of positions. There is plenty of upside in the likes of Comben, Perez, and McGuinness, while Mahony has long been a highly touted prospect and should provide great value at pick 34. Expect to see most of these players feature over time.

Caught the Eye: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

WHILE the wildcards lacked from a team sense, there were plenty of exciting players to have raised their stocks this week in the NAB League Boys Wildcard Round. In this edition of Caught the Eye, we shed light on some of the key performers for some sides, as well as others who showed glimpses of form. For full scouting notes, click here, and for extended profiles for each player, click their name highlighted in red.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons

Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons | Midfielder
3/05/2001 | 181cm | 80kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Best afield for mine, Byrnes was sensational on the breakaway from congestion – utilising his zippy first five steps and agility to latch onto the first handball away from stoppages and burst free.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Was back to his best in this game and looks to really be benefitting from being able to share the stoppage workload with a couple of bigger-bodied midfielders. With the likes of Finn Maginness and Darcy Chirgwin in the side, expect to see more of Byrnes breaking the lines and providing that burst away from congestion. He works tirelessly around the ground too, so will be important in finals with his consistency.

Cameron Fleeton
Geelong Falcons | Key Defender
17/06/2002 | 189cm | 76kg

Stats: 7 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:Fleeton was as sure as anyone by foot, switching confidently across defensive 50 to try and set the Falcons on the right foot… Also contributed some second efforts with the result beyond doubt, showing heart on a rough day.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: It was tough going for the bottom-aged defender and while he was beaten at times, Fleeton showed enough to suggest he will certainly be one to watch heading into next year. He only had the seven touches, but looked great with each of them; taking brave marks going back with the flight, reading the play well, and kicking with confidence. Will benefit over time from building a bigger frame and getting some help further afield.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Sam Philp
Northern Knights | Inside Midfielder
4/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

Stats: 23 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Was crucial to Northern’s turnaround… hunting the ball in midfield and providing some aggressive run away from congestion. He worked tirelessly to break the game open with his ability to burst clear of would-be tacklers.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Is a draft bolter, but it comes on the back of a bed of consistency. Philp has sprung on the radar with his constant ball winning throughout the middle part of the year while a number of others were out on representative duty, but has continued his feats with them back, too. Earned a well-deserved National Combine invite and will be one to keep tabs on as Northern look to make a finals run.

Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers | Midfielder
16/10/2001 | 183cm | 72kg

Stats: 23 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s

Our scouts said:Dow was the key ball winner for Bendigo in midfield against some pretty stiff inside competition, hunting the ball and exploding away from congestion to clear going inside 50.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Has well and truly broken out of the shadow of his brother, Paddy with a good base of form throughout the year. The difference he made for the Pioneers was obvious across the few games he played for them at either end of the season, injecting some class and power into the engine room. Will be an interesting one to watch as he develops with his ability to break from congestion and forward running both great assets, and he led well with Brodie Kemp out of the team this week.

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils

Sam Ramsay
Calder Cannons | Midfielder
21/03/2001 | 180cm | 68kg

Stats: 33 disposals, 11 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Showed some good dash along the wing and was not afraid to take the contest on and try and break lines. After a relatively quiet first half Ramsay really lifted a gear in the second half to drag his team back into the contest.” – Taylah Melki

Verdict: Ramsay caught our eye long ago but gets the nod here after yet another prolific performance for the Cannons in midfield. His work going both ways at the contest has been admirable of late, tackling hard while also breaking the lines with his speed and racking left foot kicks. Has the ability to break games open and just attracts the ball, with his form too hard to ignore for clubs who noticed enough for him to earn a state combine invite.

Matt McGuinness
Tasmania Devils | Utility
13/07/2000 | 194cm | 77kg

Stats: 25 disposals, 5 marks, 3 inside 50s, 9 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Was in absolutely everything for the Devils for the full four quarters. He read the flight of the ball well and impacted the contest on every opportunity possible.” – Taylah Melki

Verdict: Another who has been thereabouts for a while on top of the promise he showed last year as a top-ager, McGuinness just keeps on getting the job done. He has shown good tendencies when working up the ground of late and his booming kick means he is able to hit the scoreboard on top of his defensive duties. McGuinness has become more than a player who steps up in little purple patches, but still has those spurts of dominance with his impact on the aerial contests.

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels

Lucas Rocci
Western Jets | Half-Back
27/02/2001 | 175cm | 72kg

Stats: 19 disposals, 2 marks, 9 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:The Morrish Medalist had a well rounded performance showing a good mix of attacking flair and defensive nous. Rocci often used his nice left boot to his advantage finding targets both long and short with ease.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Capped off a pretty handy Sunday by taking out the Morrish Medal, which was rightful recognition for an outstanding season for Rocci, who became a rare player to get the nod despite missing out on both representative duties and combine invites. His mix of attacking and defensive traits from half-back were again on show and he looks to have found a home there after some early-season struggles in different positions. Is coming from a long way back but has potential.

Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels | Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Stats: 19 disposals, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Looked to carry most of the midfield load for the Rebels with the Jets having the advantage in the middle through most of the day. Rantall would still show his great work rate and ability to work up and down the ground.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Made somewhat slow starts over the last fortnight given his lofty standards, handing over some of the midfield responsibility to a few under-age movers but remaining a leader. It wasn’t Rantall’s biggest day out, but he still showed his class and will get the chance to really showcase his athletic abilities at the National Combine given his NAB League season is now over. Midfielders with that mix of speed and endurance are highly sought-after and Rantall definitely has it, but is still working on his fundamental skills.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers

Clayton Gay
Dandenong Stingrays | Forward
23/03/2002 | 183cm | 71kg

Stats: 15 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said:Dandenong had a threatening forward line and Gay was certainly one of their more influential forwards, especially in the second half with his marking ability and class really standing out.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: A player who can play just about anywhere, Gay is so damaging at his best. The bottom-ager finds the goals well and uses his strong marking abilities to become an option inside 50, while also providing good use into the arc. Is seldom a big ball winner, but it will be interesting to see whether he moves more into the midfield in his top age season next year. The Stingrays will look to him when they need a spark come finals up either end of the ground.

Dominic Bedendo
Murray Bushrangers | Forward
9/07/2002 | 185cm | 67kg

Stats: 7 disposals, 3 marks, 2 goals

Our scouts said:The small samples he shows make him an exciting forward prospect for next year’s draft… didn’t get a a lot of the ball but he showed his potential with some great leaps and slick hands when taking possession.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: It wasn’t a huge game from the bottom-ager on the weekend but he still has a happy knack of finding the goals, with two majors from seven touches this time out. He has a ways to go in terms of filling out and will be an even more likely type with the size to go with his 185cm height. His athletic traits also make him one to watch, with Murray boasting some decent talent forward of the ball for the next two years.

Scouting Notes: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

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

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

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

#4 Finn Maginness

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

#5 Ryan Byrnes

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

#6 Miles Bergman

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

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

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

#12 Charlie Dean

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

#13 Louis Butler

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

#15 Angus Hanrahan

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

#29 Fischer McAsey

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

#32 Jack Bell

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

#74 Harry Loughnan

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

Geelong:

#15 Tanner Bruhn

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

#37 Oliver Henry

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

#40 Jesse Clark

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

#53 Cameron Fleeton

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

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

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

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

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

#8 Adam Carafa

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

#11 Ryan Sturgess

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

#13 Sam Philp

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

#40 Liam McMahon

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

#45 Ayce Taylor

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

Bendigo:

#4 Thomson Dow

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

#19 Ben Worme

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

#22 Josh Treacy

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

#29 Jack Ginnivan

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

#38 Brady Rowles

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

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Taylah Melki

Calder Cannons:

#1 Daniel Mott

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

#3 Jackson Cardillo

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

#5 Curtis Brown

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

#8 Sam Ramsay

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

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

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

#29 Campbell Edwardes

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

#38 Brodie Newman

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

Tasmania:

#6 Sam Banks

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

#7 Matt McGuinness

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

#8 Jake Steele

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

#25 Jackson Callow

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

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels
By: Ed Pascoe

GWV:

#7 Mitch Martin

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

#13 Jay Rantall

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

#44 Ben Hobbs

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

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

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

#3 Eddie Ford

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

#4 Lucas Rocci

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

#20 Darcy Cassar

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

#24 Josh Honey

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

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Ed Pascoe

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

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

#31 Josh Rachele

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

#54 Dominic Bedendo

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

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

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

#10 Clayton Gay

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

#11 Ned Cahill

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

#44 Cody Weightman

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

Cannons fire in final quarter escape over Devils

CALDER Cannons have executed the great escape with a heart-stopping six-point win over Tasmania Devils at RAMS Arena today. The Cannons managed to get in front when it counted, booting three goals to one in the final term to break away and secure the 9.9 (63) to 7.15 (57) win, as the Devils would rue inaccuracy when in control of the contest. They brought the heat with an undermanned side that was missing a number of key players, and looked at times as like they might cause an upset, but the composure of the Cannons late in the game got them home to book a finals berth.

After a tight first five minutes, it was Calder’s Daniel Mott who broke through for the opening goal at the six and a half minute mark to give the home side the early lead. Four minutes later the visitors replied through versatile utility Matt McGuinness as their defensive pressure around the ball carrier was proving effective. Despite the week off, Tasmania was looking up for the fight, controlling more than their fair share of possession in the first term. The Devils continued to pepper the goals and threaten to score with their tackling pressure forcing turnovers, but after three consecutive misses, key forward Harrison Jones broke hearts converting a major with 17 seconds left in the term to hand the Cannons a four-point lead at the first break. At quarter time, the Devils had 12 extra disposals, but a massive 11 extra tackles, while Calder had eight extra marks showing their patience with ball-in-hand and ability to take control in the air. Mott (seven disposals), Sam Ramsay (six) and Harrison Minton-Connell (six) were all getting going for the Cannons, while Will Peppin and Isaac Chugg both picked up the seven touches in the opening term. Peppin also led the way with his tackling pressure, laying a game-high four tackles in the first 25 minutes.

Tasmania came out with the same fierce intent in the second term and got reward early through a goal to Jake Steele who swung forward and kicked truly to hand the Devils the lead. They struggled with accuracy again though, booting five consecutive behinds but had opened up a seven-point lead. With two minutes remaining the Devils had restricted the Cannons from scoring, before a Ned Gentile behind, and then a Mason Fletcher goal dragged Calder back into it to level the scores by the main break. Much like the first term, despite more scoring shots and limiting the impact of the Cannons’ forwards, a last-minute goal meant the visitors had to head into half-time level with the home side despite clear dominance with 18 more disposals and a whopping 20 more tackles than their opponents. Curtis Brown had a huge second term, picking up 16 disposals in the first half to lead all-comers, while Ramsay (13) and Brodie Newman (12) were having a say with the ball down in the defensive half of the ground. For the Devils, Peppin continued his good first quarter form to head into the main break with 12 touches, while Chugg (11) was also prominent, as Jackson Callow had a say in the air, taking four grabs to go with his nine disposals.

The third quarter started with Calder looking like the side that had finished fifth with bottom-ager Campbell Edwardes, and Fletcher both converting goals in the first six minutes to open up a 13-point lead. The Devils had a two minute purple patch with two goals in as many minutes, as Rhyan Mansell and Jye Menzie slotted majors and in the blink of an eye, it was even-steven again. Key position player Jack Rand booted a crucial major a few minutes later and it looked like Tasmania was now in control. Not to let the game slip away, Ramsay put his side back level with a late goal, before Baynen Lowe responded with a major of his own a minute later. By the time the final siren sounded, the Devils maintained a five-point lead in a game that was just as hard to pick a winner at the final break as it had been pre-game. McGuinnes had a monster quarter picking up 11 touches, while Ramsay was not far behind with 10 of his own, as Gentile also impressed having picked up 17 touches to the final break. Newman was unmatched in the air with 11 marks from his 16 disposals, while Peppin was productive as ever. The Devils still had more of the ball, with a plus 16 in disposals, though Calder was wrestling it back in terms of time in possession. The sides had just six tackles apiece in the quarter, and the Cannons had plenty of looks, but the Devils’ defence was up to the task. With a quarter to play, just five points separated the sides.

The last quarter belonged to Calder with three consecutive goals effectively handing them the win against a brave Tasmania outfit. After 10 minutes of both sides fighting it out Minton-Connell stepped up and put one through the big sticks to regain the lead by one point. Minton-Connell was not done yet though, determined to drag his side over the line with another major eight minutes later and the Cannons were seven points clear and looking good in low-scoring conditions. When Jeremy O’Sullivan marked close to the 50 and converted from long range, the Cannons were partying knowing they lead by 13 points with just two minutes remaining. Zac Adams missed a chance late in the game and brought in back to a flat two goals, and there was a glimmer of hope when Menzie burst away inside 50 and put it through, only for the Devils to look up and realise there was 15 seconds left on the clock. With the time taken to get back to the centre circle, the look on the Devils’ faces in the middle told the story – head in hands as the siren rang out knowing their season was over and the Cannons had initiated a great escape.

Ramsay finished the game with a massive 30 touches, 10 marks and a goal for the Cannons, while Gentile was huge in the second half, racking up 26 disposals, six marks and eight inside 50s for the game. Newman was strong in defence with 22 touches, 12 marks, three rebounds and two inside 50s, while Brown (21 disposals) and Mott (20) also picked up big numbers. For the Devils, McGuinness was massive in the second half, amassing 25 disposals, five marks, nine rebounds and a goal, while Jared Dakin picked up in the last quarter on debut to finish with 23 disposals, three marks and eight inside 50s. Peppin (19 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and four rebounds) and Menzie (18 disposals, four marks and 2.2) also impressed, as Callow (16 disposals, seven marks and three behinds) could have had a big day in front of the sticks, while Under-16 Most Valuable Player Sam Banks had 17 touches and seven marks.

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.7 | 9.9 (63)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 2.9 | 6.12 | 7.15 (57)

GOALS:

Calder: H. Minton-Connell 2, M. Fletcher 2, C. Edwardes, D. Mott, H. Jones, S. Ramsay.
Tasmania: J. Menzie 2, R. Mansell, B. Lowe, M. McGuinness, J. Steele, J. Rand.

ADC BEST:

Calder: S. Ramsay, H. Minton-Connell, B. Newman, N. Gentile, C. Brown, D. Mott
Tasmania: M. McGuinness, J. Callow, W. Peppin, J. Menzie, S. Banks, J. Dakin

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year

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

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

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

BACKS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

HALF-BACKS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

CENTRES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

HALF-FORWARDS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FORWARDS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUCKS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERCHANGE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECOND TEAM OF THE YEAR:

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

Morrish Medal Preview: Tight contest predicted for 2019

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

Bendigo Pioneers:

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

Calder Cannons:

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

Dandenong Stingrays:

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

Eastern Ranges:

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

Geelong Falcons:

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

Gippsland Power”

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

GWV Rebels:

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

Murray Bushrangers:

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

Northern Knights:

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

Oakleigh Chargers:

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

Sandringham Dragons:

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

Tasmania Devils:

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

Western Jets:

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

TOP CONTENDERS: (Based on our prediction)

Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges) 18 votes

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

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels) 16 votes

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

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons) 16 votes

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

Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights) 16 votes

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

Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) – 16 votes

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

Others: (Based on our predictions)

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

Our Predictions after Round 5:

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

Our Predictions after Round 10:

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

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year 48-player squad announced

DRAFT Central has announced its 2019 NAB League Boys Team of the Year squad today, with the final team and Second Team of the Year to be announced on Friday. The Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year takes into account the top performers across the NAB League season, not incorporating any performances at school football or National Under-18 Championships, which is why some top-end stars that have missed most of the season through school football such as Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Finn Maginness and Fischer McAsey are not included in the side.

We also placed a five-game minimum on any player to qualify for our Team of the Year, and based our selections off the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week nominations. Of the nominations, five players received a massive seven Team of the Week nominations, with four players named six times throughout the season. These nine players automatically qualify for the side. From the remaining 39 players, every one had at least three nominations, with players requiring at least FOUR nominations to make the first side. Each player who does not make the first side is named in the second side.

In terms of club-by-club nominations, Western Jets had the most with five players making the squad, with Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights all recording four players. Due to school football, Oakleigh Chargers (three), Sandringham Dragons (two) and a lesser extent Dandenong Stingrays (three) had more of a shared contribution across the season, while Tasmania Devils had three players named in their debut season.

Of the 48 players, Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Ash, Jye Chalcraft, Josh D’Intinosante, Trent Bianco and Ryan Byrnes made the Team of the Year squad last year, with Ash, D’Intinosante and Bianco all making the first side with the others slotting into the second team.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [4]: Jack Ginnivan, Aaron Gundry, Josh Treacy, Riley Wilson.

Calder [4]: Ned Gentile, Daniel Mott, Brodie Newman, Sam Ramsay.

Dandenong [3]: Ned Cahill, Lachlan Williams, Hayden Young.

Eastern [4]: Ben Hickleton, Mitch Mellis, Zakery Pretty, Lachlan Stapleton.

Geelong [4]: Jesse Clark, Oliver Henry, Charlie Sprague, Henry Walsh.

Gippsland [4]: Riley Baldi, Tye Hourigan, Fraser Phillips, Brock Smith.

GWV [4]: Cooper Craig-Peters, Mitch Martin, Riley Polkinghorne, Jay Rantall.

Murray [4]: Lachlan Ash, Jimmy Boyer, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild.

Northern [4]: Jackson Davies, Josh D’Intinosante, Sam Philp, Ryan Sturgess.

Oakleigh [3]: Trent Bianco, Lochlan Jenkins, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

Sandringham [2]: Ryan Byrnes, Angus Hanrahan.

Tasmania [3]: Jackson Callow, Oliver Davis, Matt McGuinness.

Western [5]: Darcy Cassar, Josh Honey, Josh Kellett, Will Kennedy, Lucas Rocci.

Player of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 17

IN the final edition of our Draft Central Player of the Week for NAB League Boys, Gippsland Power’s Riley Baldi has taken out the nomination after an impressive performance in the Power’s win over Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Power midfielder became the first Power player this season to be nominated, and the third player from a NAB League Boys Country side. He earned the nomination after winning the Facebook poll against Geelong Falcons’ Charlie Sprague.

In the narrow 10-point win, Baldi picked up 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and two rebounds, while laying seven tackles and booting two goals from three scoring shots – including a narrow miss. The 178cm midfielder/forward has played seven games for the Power this year, returning from injury in Round 5 and immediately having an impact, then missing games due to Vic Country commitments. He has picked up 20 or more disposals in six of his seven matches, averaging 24.3 disposals, 5.4 marks, 3.4 tackles, 4.3 inside 50s and 1.0 rebounds, as well as hitting the scoreboard with seven goals and five behinds. He also played all four games for Vic Country, averaging 19.0 disposals, 6.3 marks, 3.3 clearances, 6.0 tackles and 2.5 inside 50s. He looms as a crucial player for Gippsland in the upcoming NAB League Boys finals series.

DRAFT CENTRAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

ROUND 1: Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 2: Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 3: Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 4: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy)
ROUND 5: Zakery Pretty (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 6: Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 7: Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
ROUND 8: Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
ROUND 9: Lucas Rocci (Western Jets)
ROUND 10: Jordan Jaworski (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 11: Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 12: Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers)
ROUND 13: Matt McGuinness (Tasmania Devils)
ROUND 14: Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights)
ROUND 15: Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 16: Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 17: RILEY BALDI (GIPPSLAND POWER)

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 16

TWO of four games being played between the bottom-four sides did not stop a good amount of talent from shining through in Round 16 of the NAB League. We cast an eye over each match, highlighting the performances of representative squad members, as well as impressive under and over-agers, with our notes the opinion of each individual writer.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams

Oakleigh:

#6 Jeromy Lucas

Played an important role through the midfield to be a key cog in linking up the defence through to attack. He worked hard defensively to support the Chargers’ back six and was composed when providing an option and moving the ball off half-back, whilst applying plenty of defensive pressure around the stoppages. He had a number of important inside 50s, but finished off his own work with a good running goal in the third term after running hard to find space 40m out and converting the set shot from straight in front.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The small bottom-aged midfielder won the ball with ease throughout the match, having a big influence around the stoppages and then spreading to the outside to set up attacking plays. He had a massive 10 inside 50s, and along with Reef McInnes, provided the link from midfield to the forward line. He not only had some nice attacking plays, but laid a number of strong tackles, accumulating the ball by winning it himself and winning it back from the opposition.

#39 Reef McInnes

One of Oakleigh’s best and was a bigger body in terms of height in the midfield for the Chargers. He had a massive first term and was strong throughout the game, putting together a nice four-quarter effort. The Collingwood Next Generation Academy bottom-ager looked good around the clearances, winning a number of big clearances from in close, and set up scoring opportunities with nice kicks inside 50. He is able to get his hands free when tackles and had a shot on goal in the first term but his kick was rushed and it went to the left. McInnes showed good decision making ability when in congestion, picking the right option when handballing clear and stood tall against a number of opponents.

#72 Alex Lukic

Built on his recent debut with an even improved performance. The tall 16-year-old seemed more like a small with his ability to crumb the ball, kicking the easiest of goals after a free kick and play on by a teammate found him alone at the top of the the square in the first term, then kicked another later on from a tight angle to put it straight through in general play.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Continued his great form with more exciting moments, showing off his terrific vertical leap and clean set shot routine. He missed his first chance to the right – his first set shot miss in four games, but then converted his first opportunity from a 30m set shot on a slight angle in the second term. Sharman’s defensive pressure was noticeably up compared to his other matches, working on that area of his game, laying a great tackle in the back pocket in the second term as an example. He was strong and clean overhead, taking a great mark in front of Emerson Jeka in the third term and converting the set shot from 40m out. He did lose a one-on-one against a smaller but stronger opponent shortly after showing an area of improvement, but again had some really eye-catching moments in the game.

Western:

#3 Eddie Ford

The bottom-age forward reads the play well and times his marks, almost providing another massive highlight as he had at the Victorian trials at Ikon Park, but could not quite bring it down. He wanted to keep the ball moving at every opportunity, playing on and getting it deep into attack. Ford set up a goal to Billy Cootee with a quick handball out of congestion to his teammate free in space for a great goal. He had a chance himself earlier in the game but was dragged down and his shot went to the right.

#7 Daly Andrews

Tried hard throughout the four quarters and managed to win the ball in all thirds of the ground. He occasionally would rush kicks to get it out of the danger zone, or have a flying shot on goal such as he did in the first term, but was dragged down as he kicked it. His long raking kick was used to effect to put the ball inside 50 on a number of occasions and it impacted the scoreboard with a long-range shot from 50m out in the final term to cut the deficit to 21 points midway through the final term. Won a lot of his touches in close.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Played a full game down in defence and held his own. It was not his best game, but still showed plenty of signs to continue his good form of late. Jeka took a strong intercept mark one-on-one deep in defence to stop a potential goal early in the first term and had a timely punch short after to get it out of the danger zone. He contested well at every opportunity and continued to present at marking contests, taking another good intercept mark in the second term 25 metres out from goal.

#24 Josh Honey

Impressed throughout the game with a mix of offensive and defensive attributes, and whilst sometimes it might cost him – such as being pinged for holding the ball later in the game – it can be a massive benefit such as when he burst out of the middle in the second term for the first stoppage and set up the opening goal with a damaging long kick. He pushed hard into defence to win the ball at times, but was predominantly used as an option through midfield, kicking it long into attack. Best of all for Honey was his clean use with a slippery ball which forced others to fumble. His defensive work such as tackling and pressure on the ball carrier was also very good.

Tasmania Devils vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Just continues to do the dirty-work in Tasmania’s engine room, digging in hard to extract contested ball and tackling with just as much intent. He wasn’t as prolific as usual, but still led the Devils’ disposal count with 23 on the back of some willing clearances in the final term with the game on the line. Is so clean at the stoppages, and looks to be sharpening up his use when coming away from them with more handballs and targeted kicks.

#6 Sam Banks

The 16-year-old has unbelievable class and poise, catching the eye with a couple of deft moves around opponents and long kicks forward. A lot of Banks’ work was done on the outside given his starting position on the wing, but he worked hard to have an impact at either end and penetrate both arcs. Banks’ best moments came with little baulks and clever props, using one to trick an opponent and find Jack Rand inside 50 before creating his own goal opportunity with another, but only managing to hit the post.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Known as the designated kicker for Tasmania, McGuinness was particularly influential in the second term and got to plenty of contests with his superior positioning. Truly plays above his height when setting himself to intercept, and did so on plenty of occasions while doubling as a driver out of the back half. He got forward well early on to get a hand-off on the forward arc, but put the long-range shot wide. Has shown marked improvement from his top-age year.

#8 Jake Steele

You know what you’re going to get from Steele, who put in another competitive shift for the Devils in a range of roles. Starting down back as he has done in the past few weeks, Steele was matched one-on-one against the dangerous Charlie Sprague, but had a greater impact when getting free to provide an outlet out of defence. The Allies representative was thrown into the ruck after half time where he became influential as the game tightened up, taking a couple of nice overhead marks and pushing Tasmania forward with long kicks. Missed a couple of sharp chances on goal, but was solid overall.

#25 Jackson Callow

It was a trying day for the Tasmanian target man but he started really brightly with some terrific shows of sticky hands on the lead and pure one-on-one strength. Callow’s only goal of the game came from a textbook set shot in the opening term, and his influence was quelled as the contest wore on as he was forced to lead up further afield and often flew for marks in packs. Definitely is not afraid to throw his weight around, providing a bit of niggle and sparking a three-quarter time melee – perhaps out of a bit of frustration. Is such a competitor though, and will be a leading tall prospect for next year.

#49 Baynen Lowe

Was by no means a high-disposal output from the 16-year-old debutant, but Lowe showed some nice signs in patches. Employed up forward, Lowe’s aggression and intent when hunting the ball and tackling was impressive given his diminutive size, having a real crack with great tenacity. Lowe paired those traits with touches of class, roving a ball nicely at speed, reading a high ball well to mark over the back of an opponent, and proving clean below his knees.

Geelong:

#1 Jay Dahlhaus

It was a steady return for the zippy top-ager, coming back from a serious knee injury sustained all the way back in Round 2. Playing permanently forward, Dahlhaus made a bright start as he found the goals in the opening term, going on to have his best impact with tackling pressure and by getting in the right spots. Didn’t all come together for him on the day, but it was good to see him moving well and back out there. Could be one to come back as an over-ager if he shows what he is capable of in Geelong’s closing games.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Has really found a home up forward and turned it on in patches to boot three goals for the fourth-consecutive time. Often starting out of the goalsquare, Sprague’s work on the lead made him particularly dangerous, getting good separation while also being able to gain an advantage with his bodywork. Booted his first major in straightforward fashion with a close-range set shot, before assisting Jay Dahlhaus shortly after. He would go on to put through another textbook set shot in the following quarter after finding space inside 50, but missed another chance after a fantastic run-down tackle close to goal. Had arguably the highlight of the day with a beautiful pick up in the pocket, spin, and snap to claim a sensational goal and cap an influential first half. Did not have the same scoreboard impact after half time, but continued to lead up well.

#37 Oliver Henry

Had some sort of start to the game, clunking just about everything that came his way in defence with some brave efforts going back with the flight and others coming in from the side. Henry’s clean hands and reading of the ball in flight were on full show, with his ability to rebound and find short options bringing a calmness to Geelong’s back half. Was arguably the most influential player afield in the first half, just continually attacking the ball in the air and bringing it down. Henry was eventually thrown forward as the Falcons rolled the dice late, but didn’t quite have the same impact. Will be a top prospect next year given his versatility, marking ability, and pedigree.

#40 Jesse Clark

Is doing well to show off different sides to his game with some more midfield minutes, and was relevant throughout the contest with his work at the stoppages. Clark just constantly found a way to find enough space amid congestion and break away or get the ball onto his boot quickly, pushing the Falcons forward. He caused enough of a headache around the ball to earn a holding free kick inside 50 in the first term, which he took full advantage of to boot his only goal for the game. The Geelong skipper accumulated at a good rate across the match, with a couple of nice tap reads and good tackling in-close.

#46 Henry Walsh

The big, lumbering bottom-ager continues to get the job done in the ruck, dominating around the ground to smack down 44 hitouts – albeit against smaller opponents. Walsh’s seems to be growing in his ruck craft, palming some nice hits to advantage and looking to put the ball into the best areas for his ball winners. The brother of Sam also impressed with his follow-up work at ground level, laying some heavy tackles at stoppages and even winning a couple of clearances. Was unfazed by some heat from the Devils after a goal in the third term, putting the ball down Jesse Clark’s throat at the very next centre bounce, which was good to see. Is still pretty raw but has shown his potential in recent weeks.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Another exciting Falcons bottom-ager, Fleeton played a massive role in what was arguable the contest of the day against Devils forward Jackson Callow. Despite conceding some size, Fleeton trimmed the difference with his leap and combativeness, following Callow’s every step and managing to get a hand in at the opportune moment. He improved his positioning as the game went on after getting caught behind and too far under the ball on separate occasions early, while making his opponent work the other way with some run on the rebound. Can sharpen up his use by foot at times, but has played every game since his Round 8 debut and is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Ed Pascoe

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young was Dandenong’s clear best on ground and he did everything he could to try and get his team over the line. Young’s first quarter was his best and his first great bit of play was a trademark kick on his left hitting up leading teammate Sam De Koning close to the boundary with no margin for error, and he would later hit up De Koning again with a nice spin out of trouble and great kick inside 50. Young was quieter until the last quarter where he was influential through the midfield attacking the contests hard and working hard up and down the ground to try and win his team the game. Young has been fantastic through the midfield in recent weeks and has certainly showed another string to his bow and using his strong marking and kicking higher up the ground, Young finished the game with 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill had a slow start to the game but he really came alive in the second and third quarters showing his fantastic work rate through the midfield and proving a dangerous option when forward. Cahill was crafty forward of centre and in the second quarter pulled off a super quick handball that lead to a goal and would kick a goal himself after winning a high free kick and converted the set shot. Cahill’s best bit of play came in the third quarter winning a stoppage at the defensive 50m arc then later linking up on the wing to kick inboard and would then keep running inside 50 to take a well earned mark and would convert the set shot which was well deserved for the massive effort. Cahill finished the game with 18 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and two goals.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning played forward after showing his quality as a defender at the Under 18 championships winning AA honours. He started the game well taking a nice leading mark to the boundary of a nice pass from teammate Hayden Young, it was a tough spot and he would miss the set shot. Despite being as taller player, De Koning was among the quicker decision makers and users of the ball with his handballs really standing out, he showed great courage going back to try and take a mark and would get hurt in the process and then in the third quarter would come off limping and take no more part in the game. De Koning finished the game with seven disposals, three marks and four hitouts.

Eastern:

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was one of Eastern’s better players for the day working hard through the midfield and using his pace any chance he got. Mellis was not afraid to take the game on and that was evident in the first quarter after taking a great mark, he would take the player on the mark on and got around him comfortably using his great explosiveness, he showed great attack on the ball inside 50 hitting it at pace and then using his explosiveness to evade and narrowly miss the running shot at goal. He would also use his speed without the ball as well doing well to work back into defence in the second quarter going back with the flight to spoil a certain mark to dangerous small forward Ned Cahill, he was a busy player through the day and finished the game with 24 disposals, three tackles and four inside 50s.

#21 James Ross

The Eastern captain was certainly influential and did so at both ends of the ground to remind recruiters of his talent. Ross started the game down back and was an intercept king often taking some courageous marks and also showing his reading of the play and clean hands with some marks coming from the side of contests. He was most annoying to Dandenong in the second quarter seemingly owning the defensive 50m arc. Ross was surprisingly sent forward in the third quarter and that move proved a game changer in a long scoring game as he would go on to kick two goals that quarter, his first came from an uncontested mark and would slot the set shot and the second came from a fantastic contested mark and he would again prove a solid set shot for goal. He wouldn’t add to his tally in the last quarter kicking a behind with a snap but he had done the damage to finish the game with 20 disposals, seven marks and two goals.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The MVP for Vic Metro in the Under 16 championships, Sonsie showed why he is a highly rated prospect for the 2021 draft with a solid outing playing through the midfield. Sonsie stood out with his quick reaction times and clean and crisp ball use, the one area Sonsie struggled in was his tackling with his lighter build working against him to properly hold up the opposition but the intent was certainly there and you couldn’t fault that for a 16 year old. He did however show good strength in a contest keeping his feet as this year’s highly touted prospect Hayden Young flew from the side to spoil him, he would then gather the ball and step Young in a great bit of play involving two great prospects of the future. Sonsie started on the wing but was moved into the midfield and would contest with Young on multiple occasions and despite the obvious size difference he more than held his own at the contest. Sonsie finished the game with 20 disposals, five marks, six tackles and five inside 50s.

GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Cam Ross

GWV:

#4 Jed Hill

Really smooth off half-back where he able to showcase his terrific foot-skills. Twice hit up forward targets with perfect long kicks on the lead. Played a very outside game, but his usage by foot was important.

#7 Mitch Martin

Had a quieter first half where he spent the majority of time on-ball. The talented forward was moved back to his natural position in the second half where he immediately hit the scoreboard, and had an influence in the Rebels’ comeback.

#13 Jay Rantall

Despite being closely monitored at stoppages in the first half, he was still was finding a lot of the ball around the ground. Using the word “singlehandedly” in a team sport is usually unfair, but Rantall’s efforts were as close to singlehandedly bringing his side back into the game as you could get. In the opening 10 minutes of the second half he had kicked two goals, and had a hand in two others, bringing the Rebels back into the game.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Barely sighted in the first half, due to the ineffectiveness of the Rebels’ forward 50 entries. Got a nice easy goal from the goal square, which was well deserved considering the amount of work he put in that went unrewarded, and then came alive after that. Took a few really nice marks inside 50, showing signs that he could be one to watch over the next two years. Took a big mark late in the game and kicked a clutch goal to make it a one point game. Really good size, athleticism and agility for a big man.

Bendigo:

#11 Aaron Gundry

Took a nice pack mark in front of goal, finishing the goal from point blank range. Looked better up forward than in the ruck.

#19 Ben Worme

Snuck forward and kicked a really important goal in the fourth quarter, turning an solid game into a good game.

#20 James Schischka

Played really well. His direct opponent had hardly any influence on the game. He showcased an ability to mark an opponent closely and defend with a big fist, while also proving his intercept marking ability. Nearly set up the winning goal with a quick kick forward that wasn’t converted on the siren.

#22 Josh Treacy

Best player for the Pioneers. Treacy won his own clearances in the ruck, and impacted further with tackle pressure at ground level. He booted two sensational goals; one on the run from the square, the other from winning a free kick with a nice tackle in front of goal.