Tag: matt rowell

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 4: Green shoots appear for GWS gun

13 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. There were a total of four debutants from last year’s cohort in Round 4, with others either holding their spots or returning to the line-up.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

STATS: 18 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 72% disposal efficiency, 2 marks, 7 clearances, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal

In a low-disposal game, Green was among the GIANTS’ top five ball winners as they snuck home to a thrilling win over Collingwood on home turf. Thrust straight back into the midfield fold, the GWS Academy graduate looked at home in his second AFL outing, getting stuck straight in with the tough stuff to notch 12 contested possessions and seven clearances. Last year’s number 10 draft pick was also able to boot his first goal at the elite level, and an important one at that given the final score.

Louis Butler (Western Bulldogs)

14 disposals (11 kicks), 2 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 4 score involvements

A Thursday night debut saw Butler collect 14 disposals in his usual defensive role, slotting in well across half-back and generating some decent forward momentum. While he kicked well below his usual rate at 21 per cent efficiency, the Sandringham Dragons product put the ball in dangerous areas, breaching either arc five times and having a hand in four score involvements as the Bulldogs downed Sydney.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)

10 disposals, 9 contested possessions, 3 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 4 score involvements

After serving an avoidable suspension, Pickett returned to the Demons’ fold and was one of his side’s more lively forward 50 options. He was often Melbourne’s most dangerous outlet at the fall of the ball, wreaking havoc with his ability to hit the contest at full pace and extract, while also doing all the right things defensively. He may have hit five turnovers and could not quite find the goals, but you knew something was about to happen when Pickett neared the ball, and he brings a different dimension to the Melbourne team.

Matt Rowell (Gold Coast SUNS)

20 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 7 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 2 goals

Rowell may finally have been knocked off his ‘Star of the Round‘ perch, but still put in a performance worthy of the honour in his fourth AFL appearance. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate clicked over the 20 disposal mark once again and added another two goals to his haul, while proving a key cog in the SUNS’ engine room operations. Not many draftees have been able to match the grunt work of Rowell, who continues to put up fantastic tackle and clearance numbers to prove his two-way relevance.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

15 disposals (12 kicks), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s, 1 goal assist

Having kept his spot in the 0-4 Fremantle side, Young repaid the faith this week with arguably his best performance in three games at the elite level. Stationed in his usual half-back post, the 19-year-old provided a great glimpse of his damaging left-foot kick with a spearing goal assist pass as he cut through the corridor, while also contributing seven rebound 50s. As he adjusts to the pace and pressure of the AFL, Young has been able to better showcase his offensive game and join in the play going both ways.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)
Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)

Classic Contests: Williams the hero as Chargers scrape home over Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 13 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to when the two sides met for a low-scoring thriller.

2019 NAB League, Round 8
Saturday May 18, 10:00am
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.10 (40)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 2.6 | 3.8 | 6.10 (46)

Goals:

Northern: S. Brazier, R. Gardner, S. Philp, J. Zapantis , J. Trudgeon
Oakleigh:
T. Graham 2, D. Williams 2, T. Lovell, R. Sklavenitis

Best:

Northern: S. Philp, R. Sturgess, R. Gardner, L. Potter, K. Brandt, J. Davies
Oakleigh:
L. Jenkins, D. Williams, J. Woodfull, J. May, S. Seach, M. Steiner

Draftees in action:

Northern: Sam Philp, Ayce Taylor
Oakleigh:
Trent Bianco, Dylan Williams

Two metropolitan sides would meet on neutral, country territory come Round 8 of last year’s NAB League season, as Northern and Oakleigh went to battle at Shepley Oval. The highly fancied Chargers had only just fought to an even 3-3 record to that point, snapping a three-game losing run upon the commencement of school football with a one-point win over Tasmania. Northern managed to retain most of its key talent, and had won two games on the trot after a lacklustre 0-5 start to its campaign.

While Oakleigh’s two co-captains in Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco took the field, the Chargers’ remaining four 2019 draftees – including top two pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson – were absent. Northern evened the ledger in terms of future AFL products with bolter Sam Philp a mainstay in the side, and 19-year-old Adelaide top-up Ayce Taylor also running out with plenty of interest.

As expected, Oakleigh arguably had the better of the opening exchanges, but could not quite capitalise on its territorial pressure as the sides entered the first break level at 1.2 apiece. The theme continued into the second term as both sides proved inaccurate in front of goal, but the Chargers’ superior two scoring shots saw them sneak ahead at half time by two points.

That was where the buck stopped for Northern, as it began to better take hold through midfield and apply scoreboard pressure in the process. A slender four-point lead at the final break was stolen back almost immediately by Williams in the following period of play, before Philp did the same for Northern. A second from Williams after Thomas Graham reclaimed the lead would prove the sealer for Oakleigh in a real scare, getting over the line by six points.

Williams’ move from half-back to his more comfortable forward role in the final term proved a game-winning decision, as the Port draftee booted two defining goals to see the Chargers home. Co-captain and new Collingwood recruit Bianco was kept relatively quiet for 17 disposals as bottom-ager Fraser Elliot led all comers with 28 touches, and partner-in-crime Lochlan Jenkins was named best-afield for his 22.

Philp returned a performance consistent of his form for the Knights throughout 2019, racking up 28 touches and booting an important goal in the losing effort. A player who very nearly joined him at Carlton, Ryan Sturgess was also influential with 19 disposals from defence, on top of having the difficult task of manning Williams at the death. Taylor was quiet with seven disposals but laid six tackles to display his versatility.

Northern would go on to finish sixth at 8-7 and disposed of Bendigo in Wildcard Round, but came undone against Western come finals time to see an end to its season. Oakleigh won the NAB League premiership from third, storming undefeated through a brilliant finals campaign which culminated in a 53-point triumph in the decider.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 3: Rowell wows again, Ash debuts

SIX draftees from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how they performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. Lachlan Ash was the sole debutant of his cohort in Round 3, with each player holding their spot while chances for Melbourne and Essendon newcomers have been postponed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

STATS: 20 disposals, 1 mark, 10 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements, 2 goals, 141 SuperCoach

It is very, very difficult to avoid Rowell’s name as the standout for a second week running, and he is proving to those who had not previously caught a glimpse of his game that he rarely has a bad one. Another 20 disposals and two goals were among the highlights for the number one pick, spending over 80 per cent of the match on-field and right amongst the engine room action.

Rowell is simply unstoppable at the contest, perennially the first to the fall of the ball and relevant going both ways, with a massive 10 tackles to go with his ball winning exploits. His left-footed goal on the run had us thinking of his 60-metre bomb in the NAB League Grand Final last year, and the kid can simply do it all.

None of it is by chance either, as the 180cm wunderkind sets the standard for work rate both on and off the field, and his professionalism is conveyed in the most perfect form – with a simple tuck of the jumper. It is no surprise from our point of view to see Rowell hitting the ground running, but he has gone the extra mile in playing a big role in Gold Coast’s incredible momentum shift and consecutive wins upon the season’s restart.

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

16 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 score involvements, 1 goal, 80 SuperCoach

The SUNS Academy product has looked increasingly comfortable across each of his first three AFL outings, culminating in a strong 16-disposal effort towards his side’s second win on the trot. A versatile and clever small, Budarick reads the play incredibly well and used his smarts in that sense across the defensive line, working hard to intercept Adelaide’s forward 50 entries and faring well in one-on-one contests. His disposal and movement up the ground were also assured, and he even broke through for his maiden goal at the elite level.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

9 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 1 score involvement

While he was a touch quieter in his third senior appearance, Anderson played a solid game among a team of even contributors. The number two pick was utilised mostly on the outside, finding most of his touches forward of the wing with a good mix of contested and uncontested involvements. Alongside best mate and junior teammate Rowell, the 191cm jet has slotted straight into the SUNS lineup and looks poised to remain in the winning side.

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

7 disposals, 3 marks, 1 tackle, 2 rebound 50s, 71% disposal efficiency

It has been a tough start to life in the AFL for McAsey given Adelaide’s downfalls, but the Crows picked him for a reason among the top 10 and have shown great faith in the promising key defender. Like many others, he is beginning to look a touch more comfortable at the level with time, and battles against some pretty stiff opposition at this point will bode well for his future. While he is still honing his defensive craft and bodywork, McAsey was relatively calm on the ball in the face of Gold Coast’s pressure.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

8 disposals, 3 marks, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 score involvement

Young is still growing to the rigours of the next level after being able to impose himself previously and generate incredibly penetrative plays off half-back, with a touch more defensive work required in his current role at Fremantle. Still, the highly-touted top 10 pick was able to feature much further afield in this outing after a first half played out of his usual post, and he spent just over 65 per cent of his time on-ground.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

7 disposals, 3 marks, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 71% disposal efficiency

It was somewhat of a baptism of fire for Ash as the GIANTS and Bulldogs went to war in a heated affair, with the classy operator utilised in his most comfortable half-back role. The number four pick could not quite generate the same dash, dare, and penetration we came accustomed to seeing at the junior level, but he was quite sound on the ball across the backline. In a typically tough side to crack, Ash could see more opportunity given injuries are again taking a toll on GWS, with his versatility freeing others up to play up the ground.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 2: Rowell and Anderson light up Metricon

SEVEN draftees from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend and we take a look at how they performed. From a Gold Coast trio who dominated to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

STATS: 26 disposals, 1 mark, 2 goals, 7 tackles, 1 goal assist, 3 inside 50s, 5 clearances, 2 clangers, 6 rebounds, 171 SuperCoach

Whilst the Round 2 Rising Star nomination is announced later today, there is no doubt that last year’s number one pick will earn the honour. Rowell was best on ground in a sublime performance as the Suns stunned the 2018 premiers, West Coast Eagles in what could be not only a season-defining match, but a franchise-defining one as well. The Suns have long been the whipping boys of the competition, but there would be 17 sides who have now put the perennial cellar dwellers on notice, and Rowell is one of the huge reasons why the Suns looked like a serious threat to some of the big sides. It is only the one game, but boy was it a game to remember as Rowell racked up 171 SuperCoach points which is unheard of for a player in his second game, winning plenty of touches around the ground, but most importantly booting two goals and becoming damaging up both ends.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)

19 disposals, 5 marks, 1 goal, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 clearances, 7 clangers, 2 rebounds, 75 SuperCoach

He might have been overshadowed by Rowell’s unbelievable performance, but Anderson still played a huge part in Gold Coast’s win. He booted his first AFL goal in the second quarter after finding space, and was able to win his own fair share of the ball on the outside and get his teammates involved. He might have had a number of clangers, but his work rate was high and his strength overhead was on show, taking five marks from 19 touches on the night.

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)

16 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 clangers, 4 rebounds, 62 SuperCoach

The Suns had a trifecta when it came to highest disposal winners of the seven players from last year’s draft to be playing on the weekend. Much like Anderson, Budarick might not have had the same praise as Rowell, but he did well in the back half for 16 touches, five marks, three tackles and four rebounds. He will likely fly under the radar, but his dare and ball use in most cases is terrific and he will provide the Suns with much needed class this year.

Trent Rivers (Melbourne)

12 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 goal assist, 1 inside 50, 1 clearance, 2 clangers, 2 rebounds, 62 SuperCoach

The East Fremantle product was impressive on debut in what was an up-and-down contest for the Demons. He laid a couple of great tackles and found his own ball playing across the ground. Rivers set up a goal and also got back to help out the defence at times, dipping his toes across multiple statistical areas and giving Dees fans a glimpse of why he was selected. With very few deficiencies, Rivers is just a consistent player and will be one to watch this season.

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)

6 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 clanger, 2 rebounds, 52 SuperCoach

Playing his second game after earning a spot in the Round 1 side, McAsey did what he could in a team that was under siege for the most part. Whilst a number of leaders were down on their performance for the Crows, McAsey held up with six touches, two marks, four tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds in a really respectable performance. For a key defender coming into the league and playing immediately, McAsey is living up to expectations of a top 10 selection.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

11 disposals, 1 mark, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 clanger, 1 rebound, 41 SuperCoach

A late call-up for the Dockers, the former Dandenong Stingrays skipper was far from making up the numbers on debut with a solid performance in Fremantle’s tight loss to Brisbane. He reached double-figure disposals and laid a few tackles in his first AFL match, showing he has plenty to offer at the level. With more minutes and extra time in the side, Young will be a fantastic addition to the Fremantle outfit.

Luke Jackson (Melbourne)

7 disposals, 1 mark, 1 behind, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 1 clanger, 30 SuperCoach

The debutant joined his East Fremantle and West Australian Under 18s teammate in Rivers for the Demons’ clash with Carlton. Playing forward with Max Gawn dominating in the ruck, Jackson had the seven touches and one behind on debut. Melbourne was strong early, but the going was tough late, and whilst it is hard to squeeze into the Dees side with the strength of key position players, Jackson showed signs he will be a long term player, he just needs time.

AFL Round 1 rewind: The dozen debutants

THE AFL is a week away from kicking off against after a long couple of months. For a dozen players who made their unusual, but highly memorable debuts in Round 1 of the AFL Premiership season, we look back at how each of them performed in their respectively games with some impressive efforts.

Note: One asterisk indicates a second-year AFL player, two asterisks indicates third-year AFL player

TOP PICK: Sam Sturt (Fremantle)*

Stats: 10 disposals, 3 marks, 3 goals, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 100 SuperCoach

The Round 1 Rising Star was sensational in Fremantle narrow six-point loss against Essendon. The Dockers were unlucky not to get the win as they booted four goals to one in the final term only to fall short on the road against the unpredictable Bombers. With plenty of fresh faces, Sturt was the surprise packet with the 2018 National Draft bolter booting three goals from 10 disposals and notching up a SuperCoach century on debut. He ran at 90 per cent efficiency and had seven score involvements, so was just as capable of sharing it around as others.

RUNNER-UP: Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)

Stats: 11 disposals, 3 marks, 2 goals, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 clangers, 78 SuperCoach

There must be something about raw but talented forwards, because Mitch Georgiades’ performance on debut was sublime for the high-flying forward. He missed the entire 2019 season with a quad injury and was a bolter in the 2019 AFL National Draft, but very few would have predicted a Round 1 debut. But that is exactly what happened and he showed he was far from making up the numbers with the West Australian booting two goals from 11 disposals, three marks and three inside 50s, and running at an efficiency of 73 per cent.

Podium: Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

Stats: 19 disposals, 1 mark, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 clearances, 3 clangers, 2 rebounds, 80 SuperCoach

From a couple of surprise packets to a player no one would be remotely surprised with the numbers he picked up, as the number one pick seamlessly slotted into the AFL’s bottom side. He racked up 19 disposals – the most of any debutant in Round 1 – and had the equal third most of any Suns player. Despite running at a tough 57.9 per cent contested rate, Rowell still finished with 74 per cent disposal efficiency, and had four clearances and three intercept possessions.

Others:

Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Stats: 5 disposals, 1 mark, 1 inside 50, 1 clearance, 16 SuperCoach

The Adelaide key position player was able to slot into the team in Round 1 as the Crows had to restructure their key talls in the absence of Alex Keath. He showed some promising signs, and while still made the odd mistake, was able to play a difficult role in a tight game.

Deven Robertson (Brisbane)
Stats: 7 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 clanger, 47 SuperCoach

Unlike the other players on this list, Robertson was a late call-up to make his debut, coming in for Grant Birchall. He still played 72 minutes and showed the fierce intent he did at Under 18s level to lay three tackles and win seven disposals.

Tyler Brown (Collingwood)**
Stats: 15 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 goal assist, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50, 2 clanger, 64 SuperCoach

A starring role early for the Magpies that even saw the debutant hand off a goal to his brother Callum in Collingwood’s first half onslaught against the Western Bulldogs. While he slowed in the second half, he still had the 15 disposals and 64 SuperCoach points and showed the silky smooth moves that he did at Under 18s level, three years into his AFL career.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
Stats: 12 disposals, 2 marks, 1 inside 50, 2 clangers, 2 rebounds, 42 SuperCoach

The second pick in the 2019 National Draft held his own in a disappointing loss to Port Adelaide. He predominantly played off half-back and roamed up the ground on occasions, winning some touches on the wing. He finished with a debutant-high 246 metres gained in Round 1 which was the most impressive aspect of his debut.

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Stats: 8 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebounds, 44 SuperCoach

The slick ball user ran at 75 per cent efficiency, and while it was always going to be interesting to see where Stuart Dew utilised him, Budarick played 100 per cent of his footy in the defensive half. He was able to finish with four intercept possessions and three rebounds on debut, an impressive performance from the utility.

Tom Green (GWS)
Stats: 6 disposals, 1 mark, 2 tackles, 1 goal assist, 2 clearances, 1 clanger, 41 SuperCoach

Tasting victory on debut against the Cats, Green was not afraid to force his way in and win the contested ball. He only had the six tackles, but the bulk of his time on-field was in the centre, and he had 83 per cent disposal efficiency, as well as a couple of clearances against an experienced midfield.

Toby Bedford (Melbourne)*
Stats: 8 disposals, 1 mark, 2 tackles, 1 goal assist, 2 inside 50s, 2 clangers, 39 SuperCoach

The former Dandenong Stingrays player earned a spot in the team after a year in the VFL, and he finished with 75 per cent efficiency off eight touches. He also laid two tackles, two inside 50s and set up a goal to end the match with a solid debut effort despite Melbourne’s loss to the Eagles.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Stats: 11 disposals, 1 mark, 2 goals, 2 behinds, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 1 clearance, 4 clangers, 57 SuperCoach

He always had the X-factor and talent down pat, and he showed some exciting glimpses on the big stage in the west against the 2018 premiers. He had 11 disposals and a debutant second-high 228 metres gained, showing he was not afraid to take the game on. He made a few mistakes with four clangers, but considering what he offered and the benefits he brought, it is better to see him taking those risks.

Ben Cavarra (Western Bulldogs)*
Stats: 3 disposals, 1 mark, 1 goal, 1 behind, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 1 clearance, 1 rebound, 32 SuperCoach

When it came to feel-good stories, very few could top Ben Cavarra who joined the first-kick, first-goal club when he was awarded a free kick inside 50, and kicked truly at the 20-minute mark of the second term to give the Dogs back-to-back goals for the first time. He might not have won much of it, but with one of the lowest inside 50 counts of all-time, even All-Australian forwards would have struggled inside 50 on that night.

Q&A: Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Peter Williams chatted with Oakleigh Chargers’ Nick Daicos at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

A midfielder/forward with silky skills, Daicos comes from legendary pedigree with his father, Peter‘s 250 games for Collingwood ensuring the youngster is eligible to be drafted under the father-son rule in 2021. Akin to his brother, Josh‘s journey, Nick has only just entered the Oakleigh program in his 17th year, and would have been a consensus choice to play for Vic Metro at last year’s Under 16 national carnival.

The Carey Grammar student also captured attention with his form in the APS competition, running out alongside the likes of former Chargers Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in what was a successful 2019 campaign. Daicos is poised to get a run through the stacked Oakleigh side in between school football and possible representative commitments should competitions commence, with a pre-season hip niggle now behind him.

Hear what the impressive bottom-ager had to say about his journey, added expectations, and the year ahead in our latest Q&A.

Q&A:

 

PW: How’s the day been so far?

ND: “Pretty good so far. I’ve been injured over the past few weeks with a hip injury so I’ve just been here supporting the boys. It’s been good.”

 

What kind of things do you do during testing day when you’re not out there yourself?

“I’m just more getting around the boys and chatting today. Obviously if I was competing I’d be warming up, trying to get the best results I can but as I can’t impact physically I’m just trying to encourage the boys so they can optimise their performance.”

 

Playing school footy last year and now coming into Oakleigh, how has that been for your development?

“I think it’s been really good. I enjoyed Carey (Grammar) footy last year, we had a good year as a team and the training was quite advanced so it’s been a bit of a smooth transition. Obviously a bit of a change but I’m slowly gauging the standard and adjusting to it.”

 

Is there anything particularly different between training with school and Oakleigh?

“Clarkey (Oakleigh coach, Leigh Clarke) emphasises on just being really sharp and utilising every minute. It is a bit more professional in that aspect, you can’t really waste a minute.

“You get to training, you’ve got 30 minutes before training to just do some craft work and optimise your performance there. So that’s probably where it’s a bit different, you can’t waste any time at all.”

 

How do you manage the extra expectations and media attention to just play your own game?

“Well that’s exactly it, I just try and play my own game. I think sometimes it’s nice when you get a bit of praise, and then also when you get in trouble.

“But you’ve also got to realise that you’ve just got to have your small group of people that you listen to and take their opinion – the good, the bad, and the indifferent.”

 

How much do you learn off or lean on them for advice?

“I lean on them a lot, I’ve got a good little small group. Coaches in particular, Dad, my brother, (are) some people I like going to.

“Leigh (Clarke) has been really good with me just to start with here at Oakleigh and I’ve learned a lot already so hopefully that can just grow and grow.”

 

What do you see as your strengths on the field?

“Probably just my ability to run with the ball and use it by foot, to bring others into the game.”

 

Where have you enjoyed playing most?

“I predominantly see myself as a midfielder. I can rotate forward though so it’s a good option to have.”

 

Going forward, what improvements are you looking to make?

“I really want to improve on my marking this year and then a bit of the physical aspect I think I can improve on. So hopefully playing midfield that can help me.”

 

Being a bottom-ager, what are your goals for this year?

“Just to grow as a player. Lots of experience this year can hopefully be gained and hopefully can set me up to have a good top-age year and learn the level.”

 

And with the injury today, is it anything that will delay your season?

“I think I should be alright early on. I’m playing in a practice match (back in March) which we’re still discussing with the physio if I’m going to be on monitored minutes so we’ll see how we go. But I think I should be ready to go as soon as the season starts.”

 

So you’ll be at Oakleigh for the first few games, then return for the rest after school football?

“Yeah that’s the aim. Hopefully I get a game in early which would be really nice, and then school footy. Then it all starts.”

 

Who are you looking forward to playing with here at Oakleigh?

Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan) down forward, I’m really looking forward to him. We haven’t been able to train much in rehab so I’ve just been kicking to him which has been good.

“Then a couple of the on-ballers; Will Phillips, Lochie Jenkins. They’re just all great kids so I’m looking forward to it.”

Classic Contests: Flanders’ first half magic fails to halt Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides locked horns in a classic qualifying final at Ikon Park.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.2 | 9.2 | 11.3 | 12.3 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.1 | 5.3 | 9.7 | 12.11 (83)

NAB League Qualifying Final | Sunday September 1, 2019
Ikon Park, 1:30pm

Draftees in action:

Gippsland – Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, Harrison Pepper
Oakleigh – Nick Bryan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh finished the NAB League regular season just one game adrift from top spot at 11-4, enough to see them earn a week’s rest come wildcard round. They would meet in the qualifying final, the last fixture of the competition’s first post-season weekend, and produce an instant classic full of momentum swings.

Oakleigh boasted the would-be first and second picks of the 2019 draft, but the Power had a greater number of draftees on the park in this bout led by Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. The key absence of skipper Brock Smith would prove vital though, with a certain bottom-aged Oakleigh star having a big impact on the game.

The Chargers stormed out of the blocks with five goals to two in the opening term, spearheaded by in-form forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at what proved to be the scoring end. Needing a spark at 23 points down in the first 15 minutes, the Power turned to Serong who provided a lift with his aggression from midfield.

But it was Trent Baldi who would have an even bigger say with his scoreboard impact, slamming home consecutive majors to keep Gippsland in touch. An opportunistic Reef McInnes goal late hurt the Power though, especially given they had kept Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell relatively quiet to that point. It would have to last.

The second period of play would belong to Flanders, who stole the show with one of the greatest 10-minute patches of elite junior football in history. Pushing forward, the dynamic first round draftee showed up his new Gold Coast teammates on the opposing side with four consecutive goals from over 10 touches to break the game open.

On a day where scoring was hard to come by, Flanders’ feats helped the Power pile on nine of the last 10 goals to claim a 23-point lead at the main break. The seven-goal term also went unanswered up the other end as the usually potent Oakleigh side would require a big lift come the second half with much of its bottom-age brigade standing up to that point.

Keeping with the ebb and flow of the contest, it was Oakleigh’s turn to get on top in the third stanza, but their four goals to two was not enough to reclaim the lead. But having created more clear-cut chances, the Chargers drew back to within single digits to give themselves a sniff heading into the final change, albeit if they had spurned a couple of chances to further cut the deficit.

Ugle-Hagan converted a third major early in the fourth quarter as the heavens opened, turning the game into an all-out slog. With goals hard to come by, Riley Baldi‘s major to push the margin out to over a kick looked a big one, but Oakleigh found avenues to the big sticks when they needed them as skipper Trent Bianco sunk a long bomb, and Nick Stathopoulos booted a screamer to seal the come-from-behind win.

Proving impossible to keep down, Rowell and Anderson led the disposal count among two others to lead the Oakleigh’s charge. Bottom-age jet Will Phillips also had 29 touches and added a goal for the winners, while Serong managed the same feat in a valiant effort for Gippsland. Flanders would finish with 27 disposals to go with his four second quarter goals, while St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly also hit the scoreboard from 23 touches.

Oakleigh’s bottom-age brigade proved somewhat of a difference aside from the heavyweight battle through midfield, with the likes of Finlay Macrae, Bailey Laurie, and Ugle-Hagan producing the goods early on. Under the leadership of Bianco (24 disposals, one goal), they proved they were not just there to simply fill the numbers.

The Chargers would go on to claim a dominant grand final win over Eastern after comfortably accounting for Sandringham in the preliminary final stage, while Gippsland were done-over by the Ranges at the same mark after overcoming Western in the semi-finals. With a wealth of draftees coming from either side, they were two of the premier clubs of the competition and stand to have a great impact come draft time in 2020 as well.

Q&A: Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Oakleigh Chargers’ Finlay Macrae at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The brother of Western Bulldogs star, Jackson, Finlay has paved an equally-impressive junior path of his own thus far having featured in last year’s Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. While he may not have gotten on the park for the Big V’s Under 18 outfit, Macrae impressed across his seven outings at NAB League level for Oakleigh, including an influential finals campaign after school football commitments saw him represent Xavier College.

Having been utilised across half-forward given the strength of Oakleigh’s midfield in 2019, the 184cm Charger is keen to build his midfield minutes this season and has all the poise, smarts, and class to do so. A capable user of the ball, Macrae showcased as much in last year’s Under-17 All Stars fixture on AFL Grand Final Day, while gaining more tricks of the trade in a week-long pre-season stint at the Bulldogs. With notable experience under his belt and some outstanding talent surrounding him, Macrae looks primed for a big year – however it may pan out.

Q&A:

MA: How’s the testing been so far?

FM: “It’s been pretty good. Started off with the agility and the vertical and all that, got the yo-yo to go.”

Were you able to showcase some of your best traits in those or is the yo-yo the one you’re after?

“Yeah I’m probably more of an endurance player, so hopefully the yo-yo I can go alright in.”

You stood out in a pretty stacked Oakleigh side last year, how’s that helped you set up for your top-age season?

“Learning a lot from Rowelly (Matt Rowell) and Ando (Noah Anderson) is big. “Especially not playing mid last year but hoping to get a bit more mid time this year. “Taking little things away from them, training habits and things like that has been really good. A great experience.”

You’re in a rare position in that you’re not only learning off guys like Rowell and Anderson first-hand, but you’ve also got a brother (Jackson) in the AFL system. How’s that been for your development?

“Yeah it’s been pretty good. I suppose spending the week in December (at the Western Bulldogs) was also really cool. “Joining in with some of their midfield craft sessions, that was really good and a great experience as well.”

Did you beat out your brother at a few of the stoppages?

“Nah I didn’t play on him unfortunately. “But yeah, it was a good week.”

Obviously that goes with being in the Vic Metro Hub as well, who are some of the guys that you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“For Metro I suppose a couple of blokes that played last year. Nik Cox, Will Phillips, and Connor Downie – those sort of blokes, they’ve been really good. “And then Sam Tucker, a good mate of mine, he’ll also be in there which I’m excited about.”

And you’re at Xavier College… who’re some of the guys that you’re looking forward to playing alongside there?

Josh Sinn, a bottom-ager this year and Dante Visentini – they’re also good. And Will Hart, he’s another one. “So a pretty good team this year hopefully.”

Are you really set on locking down that midfield role and being a leader through the engine room?

“Yeah it’d be a good experience. “I suppose (it was) a pretty stacked team last year and I didn’t quite get an opportunity but playing forward was really good for me, I enjoyed it and this year it’d be nice to play a little bit of mid.”

Are there any other goals personally that you’re looking to tick off?

“Yeah I suppose making the Vic Metro team and the Australian team are probably the two standouts… I’m really pushing forward toward them and trying to get in.”

Q&A: Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Northern Knights’ Nikolas Cox at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The 199cm utility showed a wealth of promise in his bottom-age year, playing on the wing and as a key position outlet up either end of the ground. Like many of his Knights teammates, the modern-day footballing prototype is a terrific runner and uses it to play into his versatility. Having already turned out for Vic Metro and been selected in last year’s Under 17 Future Stars showcase game, Cox enters his top-age year looking to cement a spot across centre half-back while shouldering the Northern co-captaincy alongside Ewan Macpherson.

MA: How’s the day been for you?

NC: “It’s been good. Obviously it’s a pretty long day, lots of stuff happens but it’s a good day to have every single region come in (and) spend some time together. “It’s good to see everyone, it’s been a bit challenging but good.”

You’re lauded for your athleticism as a taller athlete, have you been able to show that in these tests?

“Yeah I think so, for sure. Things like the vertical jump, off both feet I think that’s one of my strengths. “But I’m looking forward to the yo-yo, hopefully I can do well in that with endurance probably being one of my biggest strengths. So yeah, hopefully I do well in that.”

You’ve played on a wing and up either end, are you looking to nail down just one position this year?

“Obviously you love to have some versatility, you want to be able to play different roles for the team or whatever’s necessary. But I think I’ll be playing a lot of back this year, trying to get some continuity in a certain spot, really nail that position and get all that craft good. So hopefully I’ll nail down some back and then if I need I’ll push up to the wing or go down forward and I still want to keep that skillset, to have that available.”

It must’ve been great to be around the Metro squad last year and even this year, how’s that been for you?

“Yeah it’s good, you learn so much in that environment. I mean, some real superstars like Matt Rowell, I spent a lot of time with Fischer McAsey down back and doing a lot of craft with him. Even this year we’ve got a really humble group at Metro and I think we can do some exciting things, hopefully I can stay in that group. But yeah, I’ve learned so much – most of my craft work, lots of little things – it’s been really good, really beneficial for me.”

What are some of those things you’re still looking to develop at the moment?

“A lot of body positioning work. “Obviously I need to work on my strength, so just trying to work around ways that I can build that up and just little techniques that can help me get an advantage on stronger opposition.”

Are there any goals for the year or landmarks you want to hit?

“I just want to get deeper into finals with this team (Northern). “Obviously cut short last year against Western which was devastating so hopefully we can get a better run and get deeper into finals, get some real form at the end of the year.”

Do you think that with a few of the top-age boys that you’ll be able to push for that?

“Yeah for sure. “We’ve got really strong bottom-agers coming through too, a really good running group – 2km time trials showed with boys nearly breaking six minutes – so I think we’re going to have a pretty strong group going forward this year. “A good contribution from 19 (year-olds), top-agers, and bottom-agers so really looking forward to it.”

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 3 – First draw of the season in Country Triple Header

IN an action-packed nine games of NAB League Boys action, spectators witnessed the season’s first draw at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo as part of a huge triple header for the six country teams. The round also included a double header at Trevor Barker Oval the day before, while the Northern Academies went head-to-head across the nation, and the standalone game at RAMS Arena was a close one.

Opening up the round in Sandringham with the double header changed from Preston was the Northern Knights taking on Eastern Ranges. From the start it was clear the Ranges were going to be too strong, and by half-time led by 26 points. It would only get worse for the Knights in the second half, as Eastern piled on 7.9 to 0.2, to run away 75-point winners.

Mitch Mellis was best on ground with three goals from 29 touches, six marks, six tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while the likes of Zakery Pretty (26 disposals, five marks, three tackles, nine clearances and three inside 50s) and James Ross (30 disposals, three marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds) were not too far behind. Connor Downie (25 touches, five marks, five inside 50s and a goal), Josh Clarke (24 touches, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Lachlan Gawel (21 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) were all prolific, while Cody Hirst (19 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) looked impressive in one of his few games prior to being drafted by Sydney.

Sam Philp was a clear standout for the losing side as he amassed 26 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ryan Gardner (23 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three rebounds) worked hard on the outside, Josh D’Intinosante (21 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) was busy through midfield, and Jackson Davies (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) did his best in defence.

The second game at Trevor Barker Oval was much closer with perennial rivals and premiership contenders, Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers going at it. The end result was a 10-point win to the Dragons after booting five goals to two in the middle two quarters and then holding off a Chargers comeback to grab the bragging rights, 9.11 (65) to 8.7 (55).

Jack Mahony led the way for his side with 25 touches, five marks, five tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, teaming up well in midfield with Finn Maginness (24 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and Ryan Byrnes (21 disposals, four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds). Josh Worrell was a rock in defence thanks to 23 touches, four marks, four tackles and five rebounds, while up forward, Charlie Dean continued his good form with 16 disposals, six marks and two goals.

It was no surprise to see who led the way despite the loss for the Chargers with Matt Rowell (31 disposals, seven marks, 11 tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) dominating alongside Noah Anderson (26 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals). Future Magpie, Trent Bianco picked up 26 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds, while bottom-age talent, Will Phillips had 21 touches, seven marks and three tackles of his own. Dylan Williams booted three goals from nine disposals and four marks up forward.

Up at RAMS Arena, Calder Cannons kicked away in the final term against Western Jets to win by 12 points in what was a thrilling contest. It was only a two goals to one final quarter, but that was enough to see the home side in front at the final siren after leading by just three points at the final break. Western had worked its way back into the game after trailing by 19 and 15 points at the quarter time and half-time breaks respectively, but would ultimately not do enough to get the points in the end.

Cannons captain Daniel Mott had the ball on a string thanks to 32 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Harrison Minton-Connell joined him with leather poisoning after 30 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven clearances, two inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal. Flynn Lakey (26 disposals, five marks, four clearances and two rebounds) and Jake Sutton (18 disposals, seven marks, three clearances and six inside 50s) were busy, while Harrison Jones showed off his versatility after 17 disposals, eight marks, four hitouts and three inside 50s.

Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett were saviours in the defensive 50, combining for 44 disposals, 12 marks and 15 rebounds in a hard working effort for the Jets. Up forward, excitement machine Eddie Ford had 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Will Kennedy racked up a whopping 41 hitouts to go with 15 rouches, five marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Of the future draftees, Josh Honey had 14 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and a goal, while Emerson Jeka took six marks from nine touches and laid three tackles.

Heading north to Yeronga, the Gold Coast Suns Academy booted the last six goals of the game and five goals to zero in the final term, to post a 10.10 (70) to 5.12 (42) victory over cross-state rivals, Brisbane Lions Academy. The Lions had led by two points at the final break, but it was all Gold Coast in the last term as they ran away with the points.

Ashton Crossley racked up 31 touches, four marks, 10 clearances and two inside 50s, teaming up well with future Sun, Connor Budarick (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s) and bottom-age talent, Alex Davies (22 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds). Josh Gore booted three majors from 12 disposals and seven marks, while another future senior Sun in Matthew Conroy kicked two last quarter goals from eight touches, three marks and 25 hitouts. Hewago Paul Oea was also lively with 17 disposals, three marks, eight inside 50s and a goal.

For the Lions, Tom Griffiths (27 disposals, five marks and four rebounds) and Bruce Reville (26 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) had the most touches, while Saxon Crozier (19 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Ethan Hunt (18 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and six rebounds) were also busy. Future Tigers, Noah Cumberland (13 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Will Martyn (12 disposals, five tackles) played in the match as well.

In another dominant performance late, Sydney Swans Academy stormed past GWS GIANTS to win by 59 points in Canberra. The Swans trailed at quarter time and half-time, but piled on 12 goals to two in the second half to run away with the contest and gain some serious bragging rights early in the Academy Series.

It was a strong team effort from the Swans, with Jackson Barling (24 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three clearances) and Lachlan Swaney (22 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) both prominent. Captain Sam Thorne (19 touches, six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s) was busy, while Harrison Parker and Braeden Campbell both booted three goals in the win.

For the GIANTS it was all about Tom Green who racked up 28 touches, six marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Jeromy Lucas (25 touches, four marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) and James Peatling (24 touches, seven marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) provided support. Liam Delahunty (10 touches, six marks and two goals) was busy up forward, while Nick Murray (15 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds) stood tall under siege in defence.

Heading into the city for a clash between Northern territory and Tasmania, it was the Devils who came away with their first win after a slow start. Trailing by 10 points at the first break, Tasmania piled on 12 goals to three after that to finish with a commanding 13.14 (92) to 6.8 (44) victory over the Thunder.

Leading draft prospect, Mitch O’Neill had the ball on a string with 35 disposals, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds, as Rhyan Mansell (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Oliver Davis (22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s) provided great service to the forwards. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow showed just what he was capable of with five majors from 19 disposals and eight marks, while Matthew McGuinness was a reliever in defence with 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds.

All eyes were on Richmond father-son bottom-age prospect Maurice Rioli Jnr for the Thunder, and he had 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in a lively display. Others who impressed included Stephen Cumming (22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances), and bottom-age hopefuls, Joel Jeffrey (20 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and a goal), Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds).

Heading up the highway to Bendigo, the country triple header took place at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Pioneers were battling against premiership contender, Gippsland Power and had themselves right in the contest until the final term. The Power led by just one point at the last break, but piled on 4.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with a 12.10 (82) to 8.10 (58) victory.

Future first round pick, Caleb Serong helped himself to 23 disposals, five marks, three tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while another first round selection in Sam Flanders amassed 20 touches, two marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s), Sam Berry (20 disposals, three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal), Kyle Dunkley (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal) and Leo Connolly (15 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and six rebounds) were among the best across the four quarters, while Fraser Phillips booted three goals from 12 touches and four marks.

Bendigo’s own future first round pick in Brodie Kemp had a day out with 21 disposals, four marks, three tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, teaming up well in midfield with Sam Conforti (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Jeremy Rodi (19 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds). Riley Wilson (14 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds) was prominent in midfield, while Logan Fitzgerald and Brady Rowles combined for 26 disposals and nine rebounds in defence.

The second game was the best of the lot, with Dandenong Stingrays splitting the points with Geelong Falcons. In a wind-affected day, the see-sawing contested had everyone on the edge of their seat. Trailing by 30 points at the final break but with the wind behind their backs, the Stingrays booted 5.6 to 1.0 and managed to draw level at 12.11 (83) apiece thanks to a kick after the siren.

Ned Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s, as all of Dandenong’s future draftees stood out. Hayden Young had 22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, Cody Weightman had 20 touches, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, and Sam De Koning picked up 17 disposals, three marks, four hitouts and two goals, switching into attack in the last quarter and being a huge influence on the result.

The game was unfortunately the last for Geelong’s sole draftee, Cooper Stephens who broke his leg in the first term and would not play another game in season 2019. Jesse Clark (26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 touches, eight marks and five rebounds) worked hard, while bottom-agers, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, nine tackles and seven inside 50s) were among their side’s best.

In the final game of the round, Murray Bushrangers came back from a goal down at the final break to find their kicking boots and defeat Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. The Bushrangers had booted 6.12 to three quarter time – four more scoring shots than their opponents – but trailed them by a goal. They picked it up in the final term to slot 3.3 to 1.2 and record a 9.15 (69) to 9.8 (62) victory.

Lachlan Ash had a team-high 28 disposals, six marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals, five marks, six tackles, three clearance and five inside 50s) and Jimmy Boyer (22 disposals, nine marks and two rebounds) found plenty of the ball. In midfield, Cameron Wild (20 disposals, four marks, three clearances and seven inside 50s) and Dylan Clarke (17 disposals, three marks, four tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were strong.

Jay Rantall was a clear standout for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 31 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals in a complete game. Mitch Martin (22 disposals, 10 marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) was also impressive, while James Cleaver and Emmanuel Ajang combined for 33 disposals, 10 marks and 13 rebounds in defence.