Tag: Matthew McGannon

AFL Draft preview: Richmond

THE 2017 premiers bowed out in disappointing circumstances in the preliminary final to a red-hot Collingwood, but then got the man they were after in Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch to boost the key forward stocks at the club. Richmond was often beaten at the stoppages, so big-bodied inside midfielders are the main priority at this year’s draft,  as well as some depth on the outside, and likely another ruck.

List needs:

  • Big-bodied inside midfielder/s
  • Ruck
  • Outside midfielder depth

Draft Picks: 17, 37, 64, 68, 74, 92

Richmond is a fairly settled side heading into the AFL Draft but there are plenty of names being linked to the Tigers with their first selection. Expect it to be best available, though if that happens to be an inside midfielder, all the better. Liam Stocker seems to be the name mostly linked to Richmond at pick 17, while Luke Valente could be a chance given the pick is likely to be pushed beyond 20 with bids coming into play. With a late draft invitation today, Ely Smith could be the late bolter who Richmond turn to on the night. Perhaps the Tigers might opt for a more rounded Xavier Duursma, or they might look to the leadership of Ian Hill despite the need for bigger bodies. Do not be shocked if someone like a Richmond pulls the trigger on West Australian, Luke Foley, though with Stocker likely on the board, Richmond would be expected to opt for the Sandringham midfielder. Ned McHenry or Sam Sturt are others who are expected to be available and could be highly rated by the club.

With pick 37, there are likely to be plenty of inside midfielders available should the Tigers hold off on their round one selection. Or they could double dip taking Stocker, then selecting Calder Cannons co-captain, Jack Bytel with this selection. James Rowbottom could be there, although Essendon have strong interest in him at pick 34. Small in stature but bigger in body size, inside bulls Tom Joyce or Tom Lewis might come into consideration knowing neither will be there at Richmond’s next pick. Jack Ross is another player who the Tigers might look at as a more balanced option who is still more developed than most others.

With their remaining selections, expect the Tigers to take best available, which in our Phantom Draft, was Tom McKenzie, Harry Reynolds and Brayden Ham, all of whom are very different players and offer different skillsets for the Tigers. At these late picks it is hard to pick who will be there, but they could consider ruck, Riley Bowman potentially if he is still on the board, or if they are looking for some outside run and kicking, perhaps Gippsland Power’s Matthew McGannon, or Western Australia’s Damon Greaves. In the forward half, Tyron Smallwood or Angus Hanrahan might come into the Tigers’ thinking, or they could take a mature-age ruck in Darcy Fort potentially.

2018 AFL Draft Central Phantom Draft

WE are now just three days away from the first pick being called in the 2018 AFL National Draft, and at AFL Draft Central, we have put our heads together and put forward our Phantom Draft, based on how some of the picks can fall. A few things to note:

  1. The pick numbers are different to the currently assigned picks due to bidding. We included bidding so Sydney matched a bid on Nick Blakey, Collingwood matched bids on Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly, Western Bulldogs matched bids on Rhylee West and Buku Khamis, GWS GIANTS matched a bid on Kieren Briggs, and so on and so fourth. That is why the pick numbers are not the same as the current pick numbers for clubs
  2. There was no live trading that took part – we did not want to overcomplicate the process, so we just opted for a nice simple Phantom Draft
  3. We have only included the first four rounds, so don’t fret if you only see clubs like Essendon having two picks, or Fremantle not picking up Jason Carter – we looked at list spots and anticipated numbers, so Carter was going to be Fremantle’s next pick outside the first four rounds.
  4. We have not included any rookie upgrades in the Phantom Draft, most of which will likely come outside the first four rounds anyway.
  5. No coaches were assigned to individual teams, instead it was a group effort with a variety of supporters chipping in their thoughts based on their contacts as well as club needs, with multiple South Australian and West Australian writers also involved – this is opinion-based.

 

Adelaide:

#9 Connor Rozee
#15 Jackson Hately
#19 Luke Valente
#26 Bailey Williams
#66 Hugo Munn
#73 Zane Barzen

Adelaide went with a distinct South Australian feel to it, taking the Croweaters’ three best midfielders from the National Under 18 Championships in Connor Rozee, Jackson Hately and Luke Valente. Rozee and Hately in particular could well go earlier, with St Kilda (pick four) and Gold Coast (pick six) considering the silky midfielder. It was an easy choice when Rozee was at pick 9, as was Hately who the Crows would be rapt to get at that selection. With the midfield sorted, Adelaide opted for talls after that, snaring Dandenong tall, Bailey Williams with #26, as well as local forward, Hugo Munn, and the exciting Zane Barzen from the Murray Bushrangers who can play a medium-tall role at half-forward.

Brisbane:

#21 Curtis Taylor
#34 Ely Smith
#35 Connor McFadyen
#53 Tom Berry

A few fan favourites made their way to Brisbane in the draft, with Cam Rayner’s best mate Curtis Taylor seeming a good selection at pick 21. With Xavier Duursma off the board, Taylor is another one the Lions are rumoured to like, and he adds a point of difference inside 50 with plenty of scope. Then they targeted big bodies, with Ely Smith and Tom Berry – brother of Jarrod – while also matching the bid on Academy prospect, Connor McFadyen. They are at the stage where they do not need to fill too many holes, and just beefed up their midfield and forward lines with some bigger bodies who have versatility as well.

Carlton:

#1 Sam Walsh
#61 Tyron Smallwood
#64 Sam Fletcher
#69 Ben Silvagni

Carlton was tricky to pick for late, after clearly selecting Sam Walsh with the first pick. Walsh is the standout midfielder in the draft crop, and Blues fans should be thrilled to have him coming on board, as a safe, 200-game player and future captain. He is joined by mid/forward, Tyron Smallwood who just oozes X-factor and looks like great value late, as well as inside midfielder Sam Fletcher who bleeds for any club he plays for. Wrapping up the draft with father-son selection Ben Silvagni, Blues fans should be pretty pleased with the value they have received considering their late picks.

Collingwood:

#18 Isaac Quaynor
#25 Will Kelly

A bit of a straight forward draft for Collingwood with Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly both heading to the club. The Magpies had no problems matching the bids, though there is a chance they go into deficit for 2019. Either way it will not stop them matching the pair who sure up the club’s defence. Collingwood will use a third pick – likely to be in the late 80s by the time bids and passes have shuffled up the order, with the Magpies contemplating a roughie from Western Australia – perhaps the unlucky Jack Mayo or Patrick Farrant to help strengthen their tall stocks.

Essendon:

#37 James Rowbottom
#57 Riley Bowman

Just the two picks inside the four rounds for Essendon, but no fear Bombers fans, along with a potential Shaun McKernan rookie upgrade, the Bombers are likely to take one or two more selections. They could target someone like a Nick Hind who has speed to burn and already knows the club well having played for the Bombers’ VFL side. But in the two selections Essendon did make, they went for the inside strength of James Rowbottom, and the ruck depth provided by Dandenong’s Riley Bowman, a couple of need-based selections for the Bombers in the Phantom Draft.

Fremantle:

#18 Ian Hill
#36 Sydney Stack
#45 Tom Lewis
#56 Damon Greaves
#72 Aaron Nietschke

Fremantle went local for its picks, going West Australian for three, and a couple of South Australian boys as well. Fremantle fans seem divided on whether or not to select Ian Hill with the first rounder, but do not let an injury-interrupted season put you off, he is a genuine star. The Dockers also selected fellow West Australian, Sydney Stack to add class to the side, as well as half-back Damon Greaves. Fremantle are also rumoured to be interested in Sturt midfielder, Tom Lewis, while also taking a punt on the consistent Aaron Nietschke with the final selection in this Phantom Draft. They then can select Jason Carter with a later selection or as a free hit in the rookie draft.

Geelong:

#14 Riley Collier-Dawkins
#49 Josh Kemp
#50 Charlie Sprague
#63 Oscar Brownless

Geelong made four picks in our Phantom Draft, picking up big-bodied inside midfielder, Riley Collier-Dawkins and two hybrid forward options in Josh Kemp and Charlie Sprague, before picking Oscar Brownless with their final selection. The father-son prospect can play midfield or forward, while Kemp adds a defensive element to the forward 50, and Sprague adds the attacking element which gives them plenty of scope for the future.

Gold Coast:

#2 Jack Lukosius
#3 Izak Rankine
#6 Jye Caldwell
#31 Jez McLennan
#33 Jacob Koschitzke
#71 Matt McGannon

Gold Coast always had a strong hand coming into the draft, and much like we expect in the real thing, selected Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Jye Caldwell with their first three selections. They add to their talent inside 50 and strength through the midfield. Later in the draft, the SUNS sured up their defence, picking half-back flankers, Jez McLennan and Matt McGannon, alongside All-Australian key position defender, Jacob Koschitzke. It means the SUNS picked up a tall at either end and added bucket loads of skill on the flanks.

GWS GIANTS:

#10 Jordan Clark
#13 Chayce Jones
#22 Ned McHenry
#23 Kieren Briggs
#51 Tom Sparrow

GWS GIANTS filled a number of needs in selecting players with varying skill sets and versatility that enables them to play a number of roles during a match. Jordan Clark and Chayce Jones are your clean, outside ball users who can slot practically anywhere on the field, Ned McHenry is your forward pressure player who loves the physicality of the game, and Tom Sparrow late represents value as a burst midfielder. The GIANTS also matched a bid of Academy prospect, Kieren Briggs who slots into the ruck ranks which have been wearing thin given Rory Lobb’s departure.

Hawthorn:

#52 Noah Gown
#60 Irving Mosquito

They will have another selection late, but along with Next Generation Academy member, Irving Mosquito, Hawthorn took a punt on key forward, Noah Gown. The Gippsland Power teammates reunite at the Hawks and immediately add to the forward half of the ground with Jarryd Roughead coming to the twilight of his career, while Mosquito adds that forward pressure. Both are players who with the right development could certainly be great value players at these selections.

Melbourne:

#29 Xavier O’Halloran
#32 Will Hamill
#38 Toby Bedford
#54 Will Golds

Melbourne has one of the more well-rounded teams and we targeted best available, with a focus on speed and outside run. Vic Metro captain, Xavier O’Halloran adds leadership and can play midfield or forward, while Will Hamill and Will Golds are classy outside ball users. Hamill will likely play off half-back and Golds off a wing, while Next Generation Academy player, Toby Bedford will cause headaches for opposition coaches inside 50.

North Melbourne:

#11 Tarryn Thomas
#30 Bailey Scott
#62 Angus Hanrahan

North Melbourne had the three selections in the first four rounds, and will also be picking up Joel Crocker with the club’s last selection. In the first four rounds, they matched bids on Next Generation Academy prospect, Tarryn Thomas, and father-son prospect, Bailey Scott. Both are top talents who will be great inclusions to a midfield that could do with a dose of outside speed and versatility. Angus Hanrahan late is a developing forward who can play midfield and add another dimension inside 50.

Port Adelaide:

#5 Ben King
#12 Zak Butters
#17 Xavier Duursma

Just the three early picks for Port Adelaide, selecting Ben King with pick five after brother Max was gone, while Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma add versatility and clean skills. Butters has great class and will play off half-forward or along a wing until he bulks up, while Duursma is equally lightly built and will play off a flank at either end or along a wing in time. Both know how to use the ball exceptionally well and have plenty of upside for the future.

Richmond:

#20 Liam Stocker
#42 Jack Bytel
#55 Tom McKenzie
#59 Harry Reynolds
#67 Brayden Ham

Richmond will look to target bigger bodies at the coalface, so expect a couple of these types of names to land at the Tigers. Liam Stocker has long been linked to Punt Road, while Jack Bytel seems a no brainer at pick 42. Tom McKenzie adds a different type of midfielder with their next pick, having speed and the ability to play off half-back as well. Reynolds is similarly able to play off half-back or through the midfield, and has that prototype body size. With the final pick, Richmond took a punt on overager Brayden Ham who has elite athletic traits and can play anywhere on the ground.

St Kilda:

#4 Max King
#40 Fraser Turner
#47 Durak Tucker
#58 Zac Foot
#70 Joe Ayton-Delaney

St Kilda fans have been keen to secure midfielders, and while it still looks like Max King will be the first selection, they cannot be unhappy with a genuine franchise key forward who as an added bonus, supports the Saints. Throw in the outside run of Fraser Turner and Zac Foot, while Joe Ayton-Delaney comes off a half-back flank and might not make it to pick 70, but he was there in this draft and would be fairly quickly swooped upon. Durak Tucker is another player who will add some composure down back with nice athleticism and offers value at pick 47 if the Saints are so inclined to pick up the West Australian.

Sydney:

#6 Nick Blakey
#43 Laitham Vandermeer
#44 Tom Joyce
#48 Jack Ross

Sydney made four rather savvy selections in the draft, taking Academy prospect, Nick Blakey after matching a bid inside the top 10, then selecting three very different players with the three selections remaining in the 40s. They picked up overage speedster, Laitham Vandermeer, small inside bull,  Tom Joyce, and dual balanced midfielder, Jack Ross, all of whom are arguably more readymade than many of their contemporaries at the same draft region.

West Coast:

#24 Sam Sturt
#27 Luke Foley
#41 Jarrod Cameron
#65 Mitch Podhajski
#68 Dillon O’Reilly

West Coast heads to the draft coming off a premiership, so targeting players who can fill depth for future years is important, and we looked at a variety of players to fill certain roles. They pick up draft bolter, Sam Sturt with their first selection, as well as overager, Luke Foley who remains in his home state. They were forced to match a bid for Jarrod Cameron at pick 41, but that seems straight forward, while picking up the readymade Mitch Podhajski, and local key forward, Dillon O’Reilly.

Western Bulldogs:

#8 Bailey Smith
#28 Rhylee West
#39 Jacob Kennerley
#46 Buku Khamis

The Western Bulldogs got their two club-tied players through matching bids with father-son midfielder, Rhylee West and Next Generation Academy prospect, Buku Khamis. The Bulldogs also picked up the man they have been heavily linked to in Bailey Smith with their first selection and outside runner, Jacob Kennerley with their second round pick a #39. All could contribute during the 2019 season if the coaching staff are so inclined, so it is a readymade draft haul for the Dogs.


*Among those taken in the next 20-odd picks included the likes of Hayden Sampson, Oscar Chapman, Daly Andrews, Mitch Riordan, Noah Answerth, Lachlan Sholl, Will Kennedy, Joel Crocker, Jason Carter, Riley Grundy and Kyle Reid, with some mature agers including Nick Hind, Brett Bewley and Darcy Fort also there.

AFL Draft preview: Melbourne

MELBOURNE reached the penultimate weekend of the season before disappointingly bowing out to a red-hot West Coast at Optus Stadium. With the acquisitions of Steven May and Kade Kolodjashnij over the trade period, the Demons have one of the most well-balanced lists in the competition. They might target some outside run to help with their top-notch onball brigade, while also added another small-to-medium forward, and perhaps a ruck for depth late.

List needs:

  • Outside midfielder
  • Small-medium forward
  • Ruck

Draft Picks: 23, 28, 54, 62, 91

The Demons have two selections in the top 30 – which will likely be pushed back due to multiple father-son and academy bids taking place in the first two rounds. They have some later picks as well which will be used to match a likely bid for Next Generation Academy member, Toby Bedford in the late second to early third round. Bedford adds that element up forward with his defensive pressure, X-factor and high-level game smarts setting him apart from other small forwards at the draft region. Sam Sturt is an earlier selection that might come into consideration, though there are a number of midfield prospects likely to be in the Demons’ thinking. They would certainly have a look at the likes of Xavier O’Halloran or Jacob Kennerley who are gut-runners with elite endurance. O’Halloran can also play inside or down forward, while Kennerley has spent time off half-back. If Ian Hill somehow slid, one would think they would snap him up, while Ned McHenry and Curtis Taylor are others who could be there if the Demons are lucky and might pounce. Another to consider is Bedford’s Stingrays’ teammate in Will Hamill who is a top athlete with sublime skills, or Fraser Turner who is another outside player with neat skills.

With the later selections, Melbourne will likely have to cough them up to match Bedford, but they could move further down and still find some diamonds in the rough. Perhaps Riley Bowman or mature-ager, Darcy Fort might be a late option if they are on the board to fill their ruck needs. Depending on their earlier picks they might opt for outside runner, Will Golds, or perhaps Matthew McGannon or Mitch Podhajski who provide bigger bodies that could play outside or anywhere on the field. Joe Ayton-Delaney and Brayden Ham might be others coming into consideration for the later picks if they are still on the board.  If they look to add a forward having gone midfield early, the Demons might look to Oscar Chapman or Zane Barzen as medium forwards. Much of consideration for Melbourne’s selection depends when the Bedford bid comes in, but will likely be after their first two selections.

AFL Draft Central November 2018 Power Rankings: 46-60

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. While even for us the top 60 would change regularly based on more discussions and re-watching footage, we take a look at our top 60, starting with the 46-60 players today. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

#60 Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons/Coburg/Vic Metro)

The ‘Pod’ kicks off our list because after missing out last year, he has gone back and worked on various areas that he might have lacked in – which included question marks over his ability to play as a full-time midfielder. He spent most of his top-age year playing more key position or third-tall roles rather than in the midfield, and in 2018, he became that midfielder that everyone at the Cannons knew he could be. He spent time in the VFL and impressed, while not losing his versatility to play anywhere on the ground. A great leader, good overhead, just slots into any side and could instantly improve the culture with his own standards and a player that certainly deserves a call-up.

#59 Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Everyone talked about Geelong and Collingwood’s pick swap in the 50s as benefiting the Pies, but it also benefited the Cats, with the Geelong father-son selection of Brownless likely to occur sometime in the late 50s onwards. He lacks a yard of speed, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for in almost unrivalled endurance. He can run all day long, and not only have an impact in the midfield, but up forward as well. Could end up more of a forward in his AFL career, as he has that unique goal sense and game smarts that gets him there.

#58 Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

A bit of an underrated player, Hanrahan offers great value later in the draft. The exciting forward has an impressive ability to impact a match inside 50, and does not need many touches to influence the contest. While he can be hot and cold at times, the brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie, has shown he has some draftable qualities. Classy, composed and an ability to move into the midfield and run off a wing, against his consistency, is something that recruiters will consider when weighing up whether to select Hanrahan. He will add a point of difference to a forward line, and has high upside for fans to look forward to in the future.

#57 Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The tough, inside midfielder from East Fremantle did not get to show off his ability this year due to injury, but was rated as a solid third round choice – possibly higher with a good year – coming into 2018. While his size works against him for an inside midfielder at AFL level, he still represents great value, and is one of a number of players in this late bracket that could find a home despite having his most important footballing year ruined by injury. He has good speed, clean hands, great endurance and is one of the more professional players in the draft crop, so will be another who can slot straight in and do everything expected of him from day one.

#56 Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sparrow is a player who we have seen divide opinions as to where he falls in the draft, with his athleticism up there with the best of them, and just needing to iron out his kicking and decision making at times. He played mostly school football before returning to the South Adelaide Under 18s where he was as consistent as any other player in the competition. Sparrow has some great upside, and there’s certainly a lot to work with going forward, and like so many others here, is a top leader who will never let you down with his determination and leading by example.

#55 Tom Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

The lightning younger brother of Brisbane Lions’ Jarrod, offers really unbelievable value here. Over the past 18 months, Berry has struggled to get on the park for continuity, and therefore slipped down the order. His kicking and decision making at times is rushed, but in terms of athletic capabilities there are few better. His agility and acceleration is elite, and he can play down back or up forward, but he is best suited to the inside midfield role. He has that breakaway speed that would see him burst out of a stoppage and leave his opponents behind which is always something fans love to see.

#54 Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

McKenzie has had a solid year playing TAC Cup and school football, and is that mid-range draft prospect who is still raw, but has some nice traits. He is likely to have found a nice role at half-back, using his kicking to advantage, along with his ability to set-up well and position himself for intercept marks. A very lightly built player, McKenzie can also play in the midfield, often on a wing with lightning pace that he does not often show in games – he clocked 2.9 seconds on the 20m sprint. Once he can really implement his athletic abilities to impact a contest, he will be all the more damaging.

#53 Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A high impact per possession player, Ham over-age year was a massive improvement on past years, and is yet a third 19 year-old in this list that might get a second chance. Playing half-forward, half-back and on the wing, Ham is arguably the best athlete when taking into account speed, agility and endurance, with the Falcons utility in the top few across all the tests. He is still light so will need to bulk up a bit and iron out the kicking so it is a bit more consistent, but when he is up and about he is very damaging. He is a player that only needs a handful of touches to turn a match and he has the athletic capabilities to completely wear down an opponent and on that alone, he deserves a spot on this list.

#52 Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

It might be a bit strange to see the big man this far down after being so high initially, but as we see every year, rucks tend to drop towards November as the reality of whether or not talls are worth taking early continues to rage. As one of only a handful of genuine ruck talents, expect Bowman to land somewhere in the second half of the draft with some nice ruck work, but will be viewed as a long-term prospect. At times had a bit of an up-and-down year, but turned it on in the TAC Cup decider and was one of the best for the Stingrays, which gave clubs a huge indication of where he might fall.

#51 Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A medium forward who plays taller than his 184cm, even though it looks at times as if a gust of wind might knock him over. Very light, Kemp has a great vertical leap, impressive closing speed, and an insatiable attack on the football and ball carrier. He does all the defensive things right which is what you want from any player, but especially a forward who is capable of a nice highlights package as well. Received the call-up from school football after an impressive season, then was very good for the Cannons in the final month. Knows where the goals are, and when he is not kicking them, he is trying to win the ball back.

#50 Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Hawthorn fans have a beauty in ‘Mozzie’ with the exciting forward the kind of player that could walk away from a game with 10 touches and you go home thinking “gee how good was he?”. Mosquito’s clean ball use is about as good as you will see, with his ability to pick the ball off the deck in the wet like he has velcro hands is up there with the likes of Tarryn Thomas at the top of the charts. Like any small forward, Mosquito does need to work on his consistency, but he is a natural match winner who worries opponents whenever he gets near the football. Attacks both offensively and defensively with vigour and is not afraid to bring down much bigger opponents.

#49 Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

In the back half of the season, school footballers who did not get the call-up or choose not to play TAC Cup early in the season often throw on the jumper for the final month, and Reynolds is one of those. Not too dissimilar to Nathan Murphy the year before, Reynolds is that medium-tall utility who can play anywhere on the ground. Hailing from Brighton Grammar – the same school as Murphy – Reynolds is a nice kick of the football, and just knows how to find it. He is one of those dark horses of the draft that could be plucked out early given his scope for improvement.

#48 Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Had it not been for an unfortunate sling tackle in the National Under 18 Championships, Vandermeer’s year could have been even better. To that point, the overager was looking as good as any other 1999-born player going around in the TAC Cup, and it earned him a place in Vic Country’s side. His run-and-carry, dare and dash really excited fans, and he is the type of player that just takes off and does not fear taking the game on. He wins a lot of the football and while he is predominantly an outside player, he uses his speed to also apply defensive pressure, and fiercely attacks the ball carrier. One who could go later or as a rookie, but the need for speed is great in modern football, and Vandermeer has that need in spades.

#47 James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Rowbottom is the well-publicised nephew of ‘BT’ (Brian Taylor) and is another one of many inside midfielders in the draft crop. He has good speed and never takes a backwards step, being one of the top clearance midfielders in the TAC Cup. He wins it on the inside, spreads to the outside and just keeps plugging away all day long. Rowbottom needs to improve his endurance, but he has the talent to keep improving, and the dedication to make sure it happens. Another one who could easily go earlier should a club like what he has to offer, but expect him to be a mid-draft option and a player who could slide into a senior side fairly early on, with Rowbottom just needing to sharpen up his kicking a bit.

#46 Tyron Smallwood (Claremont/Western Australia)

Not much has been said about the classy outside midfielder/small forward, but he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and is one of the players we rate as a mid-draft prospect. He just does a lot right and is a player who while undersized, is capable of being accountable for an opponent. He kicks goals and lays tackles, and can also move through the midfield with an ability to win the footy and drive it forward. He is not as quick as other small forwards, but he has fairly good evasion skills, and his ability to execute by hand or foot is impressive. Smallwood just seems like the type of player that clubs secretly want to drop and then call it a bargain later on, because he has some very draftable qualities.

 

Who were next in line?

South Australians, Hugo Munn and Tom Lewis, Gippsland Power over-ager Matthew McGannon, Dandenong inside midfielder, Sam Fletcher and Oakleigh Chargers’ ball-winner, Will Golds were all borderline on making the top 60.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

FINALS football at Ikon Park saw two 100-point beltings, but plenty of impressive individual performances. We noted down the top players from Saturday’s elimination finals, with Sunday’s games notes to come tomorrow.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. GWV Rebels

Dandenong:

By: Ed Pascoe

#9 Zac Foot

Foot showed plenty of glimpses of brilliance often getting to dangerous positions at the 50 arc but could not convert his chances to nail goals with plenty of kicks drifting wide or just falling short. He showcased his impressive marking for his size with a good contested mark in the third quarter on the forward 50 arc then he quickly chipped a nice short pass inside 50, he also took a nice lead up mark in that same quarter. Foot ran hard all day but he just could not capitalise on his opportunities. He finished with only the two behinds to go with his 16 disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.

#13 Riley Bowman

Bowman had his moments throughout the game showing small samples of his talent throughout the day. Bowman had multiple chances to hit the scoreboard but struggled to make the most of his opportunities. In the first quarter he kicked into the man on the mark but he later kicked his only goal for the game with a nice set shot finish. He had another set shot opportunity in the second quarter but he was able to set up a nice goal for his fellow teammate Stephen Cumming taking a nice mark at half-forward and hitting a nice pass lace out for his teammate in the pocket. Bowman finished the game with 13 disposals, six marks and one goal. 

#15 Toby Bedford

Bedford lit up Ikon Park with his agility and excitement around the ball. Bedford was near impossible to tackle throughout the game, he was always on the move ducking and weaving around the opposition. One such play saw him tackled in the second quarter and he somehow managed to slip out and fire off a nice handball. With some lovely movement he kicked a nice goal in the quarter, where he weaved out of trouble and then straightened up for a classy goal. He missed a sitter set shot in the last quarter but he had done enough in the first three quarters to be considered Dandenong’s best player throughout the day. Bedford finished with 18 disposals, eight tackles and one goal. 

 #27 Lachlan McDonnell 

McDonnell certainly caught the eye playing on the wing and proving to be a handful with his ability to cover the ground and get to dangerous spots. McDonnell was all class with ball in hand with a nice pass inside 50 in the last quarter where he lowered his eyes. Despite playing on the wing he managed to hit the scoreboard with a nice running goal in the first quarter, a set shot goal in the third and a nice snap goal in the last. McDonnell did not just work hard forward but he also worked tirelessly to be an outlet for the switch in defence. McDonnell finished with 15 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s and three goals. 

 #29 Bailey Williams

Williams threatened to make an impact early in the game flying over packs and brining the ball down to his small forwards. He kicked a nice set shot goal in the second quarter which would be his only goal. He was later moved into the ruck in the last quarter to once again showcase his incredible leap. It was a quieter game from Williams who would be keen to lift his production for the next final. Williams finished with 13 disposals, six marks and one major. 

#58 Will Hamill

Hamill played his best game of the year with his run and skill in defence a real standout early in the game before moving forward late and proving a handful. A great bit of play from Hamill came in the first quarter where he attacked the ball deep in defence surrounded by a crowd of players and managed to break free. He was clean by hand which would eventually set up a goal for Dandenong down the other end. Hamill was dangerous by foot hitting Williams up with a nice pass inside 50 in the second quarter. Hamill had a chance to hit the scoreboard playing forward late in the game taking a nice lead up mark but just missing the set shot at goal. Hamill finished the game with 16 disposals, five marks, six tackles and four inside.

 #59 Sam Sturt

Draft bolter Sam Sturt was the name most scouts came to see and he proved why, with an exciting first quarter taking plenty of marks and using his long left boot which he showed in a great bit of play with a nice mark at half-forward before quickly swinging around on his left and kicking long to Bowman. Sturt would repeat these types of entries into the second quarter but his day would be cut short with a nagging injury keeping him from playing in the second half. Sturt had shown enough to scouts with his clean hands overhead and at ground level along with his long left boot catching the eye. Sturt finished with eight disposals, three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s from a half of football. 

 

GWV:

By: Scott Dougan

#6 Charlie Wilson

Wilson started in the centre square for the first bounce and was immediately involved, winning the first clearance. He was clean at ground level and his marking overhead was strong. He spent the majority of the match up forward but was unable to have a massive impact due to the limited amount of play in the Rebels forward half. Wilson kicked his first and only major of the day in the final term. He had 12 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s to go with 1.2 on the scoreboard.

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin worked hard all day and did his best work defensively. His third quarter was his most influential, showcasing his tackling ability after being awarded a couple of free kicks after two very strong tackles. He finished with three tackles from 14 disposals and while he was quiet in patches like most of the side, he has his moments.

#14 Jed Hill

Hill played predominately on the outside of the contest but applied as much pressure as he could when in tight. He did his best to create space around the ground and he found it, his ball use was reasonably good. He finished the game with 13 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s, being a link in transition early in the game.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Geelong Falcons

Gippsland:

By: Scott Dougan

#2 Caleb Serong

The highly-rated bottom age prospect did his best to have an impact up forward and through the middle of the ground. He showed off his class and composure in the first term with a few effective kicks moving forward. He demonstrated clean hands in tight and also showed off his aerial prowess with an attempted “speckie” in the third term. Serong set the tone early for the Power in the fourth quarter with a goal in the first minute.

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders is another promising bottom-age prospect who spent plenty of time around the ball and inside the forward 50. He did not have a huge impact on the contest but his defensive pressure was noticeable, laying six tackles.

#5 Xavier Duursma

The possible first round selection was instrumental throughout the four quarters, showing off his aerial ability, ball-winning potential and clean hands at ground level. Duursma was able to drift forward on multiple occasions, finding plenty of space inside the forward 50. What was most impressive was when he attempted to chase down Sam Walsh in the middle of the ground, even though he was going to struggle to make up the required distance to impact the kick. Duursma finished with 25 disposals, 11 marks, six tackles and one goal.

#9 Irving Mosquito

Irving started the match like a house on fire, with the electric forward booting an impressive goal right on the line. His second quarter was quiet but he responded in the second half by finding more of the ball and applying plenty of defensive pressure. His tackling efforts were first-class and he was rewarded two free-kicks for his efforts. Mosquito had the chance to kick his second goal of the day in the final term but missed. He finished with nine disposals, six tackles and one goal.

#18 Matthew McGannon

McGannon was one of Gippsland’s best players on the day. He accumulated plenty of the ball across the half-back line and used it superbly, rarely turning the ball over. McGannon won most of his possessions on the outside of the contest, with the smooth-moving defender finding plenty of unoccupied space. He demonstrated composure and poise with ball in hand, which is what he does consistently well.

#22 Rylan Henkel

The 200cm big man was beaten in the hit-out department to opposition ruckman Sam Conway, but he made up for it with his terrific work around the ground. He continuously applied defensive pressure around the contest and he was able to win some important clearances for his team. Henkel moved forward on a few occasions and was able to hit the scoreboard, booting two important and very impressive goals. His aggressive approach around the ball also caught the eye. He finished with 11 disposals, 11 hit-outs and two goals, in fine all-around performance.

#23 Noah Gown

Gown was involved from the get-go, with the forward taking several strong contested marks. He should have kicked his first goal of the day in the first term but he was unselfish and passed it off to teammate Leo Connolly, who converted successfully. Gown continued to display his aerial ability, taking more marks as the game went on, finishing with a total of eight. He was well held by Cooper Cartledge on the scoresheet, but he was extremely dominant around the half-forward flank where he won the majority of his possessions. His hard work was rewarded in the final term when he booted his first goal of the day, contributing to Gippsland’s dominant last quarter.

#25 Kyle Reid

Reid was able to rebound effectively out of the back half, with the classy defender finding plenty of space. He had his hands full early, matching up on Geelong Falcon Connor Idun, who booted two goals in the first half. Reid’s ball use and composure with ball in hand are two of his biggest strengths and he always made the right decisions when rebounding out of the defensive 50. He moved up forward in the second half but didn’t have the same impact on the match as he did down back. Deep into the final quarter, Reid was struggling to run at full pace, signifying that he was sore or injured.

 

Geelong:

By: Ed Pascoe

#8 Ed McHenry

McHenry had a shaky game by his standards especially early dropping an easy mark and a few kicks did not quite hit their mark. However, McHenry was still at his best against Gippsland with his pressure and tackling which he did in a four quarter effort, fishing with nine tackles for the game which was an equal-high for the game across both teams. He worked himself into the game with some nice runs and a good bit of play where he showcased his run and carry ability before a short pass to teammate Ham inside 50. McHenry finished with 18 disposals and four inside 50s.  

#22 Sam Walsh 

Walsh again was everywhere for Geelong, mostly lining up on the wing. He got plenty of the ball in transition and when it was his turn to win the contested ball he did not hesitate. He had numerous good passages of play, one in the second quarter where he marked the ball at half back and not long after marking the ball again at half forward showing his work rate and smarts. In the third quarter he kicked a lovely snap goal winning a ground ball under pressure and then turning and snapping an important major. He had a standout bit of play for a different reason taking a run down the wing with Duursma giving a brave chase. Walsh got to run a fair way before just getting a kick away. He finished with 28 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal. 

 #30 Oscar Brownless

Brownless was a workhorse in the midfield for Geelong with a great four quarter effort. He did plenty at the coalface winning a heap of contested ball while also working hard to get involved on the outside. Brownless really stood out in the first quarter with a nice kick inside 50 but a shot at goal going out on the full was uncharacteristic with Brownless usually crafty around goal. He finished the game with 29 disposals, eight marks, nine tackles and four inside 50s which showed off his work rate. Brownless worked tirelessly throughout the match, trying to get his team over the line.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Sprague was dangerous for Geelong despite his low numbers. He had plenty of chances to hit the scoreboard with a nice mark on the lead in the second quarter which was just beyond his range thus kicking out on the full. He also had a snap at goal that resulted in a behind in the last quarter. He would later finally kick a goal in the second quarter, reward for his hard work and pressure in the forward 50 with a nice snap. Sprague provided a good target around the ground with his clean hands overhead and ability to keep his feet at contests always making sure he was involved if the mark was not taken. Sprague had a great tackle in the third quarter showing he could really crunch them despite his lighter frame. Sprague’s clean hands and composure were the clear standout features in his performance.  He finished the game with 10 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal. 

#39 Connor Idun

Idun looked dangerous early playing forward showcasing his clean hands and quick handballs setting up teammates running into goal. He took a nice contested mark in the first quarter converting a nice set shot goal which he would repeat in the second quarter. What really impressed with Idun was that he kept presenting and making a contest but also recovering from contests to fire off quick and clean handballs. Idun was later moved to defence where he was not as influential but still played his role well. Idun finished with 10 disposals and two goals. 

Gippsland powers to first finals win in six years with terrific victory over Geelong

GIPPSLAND Power are through to the preliminary for the first time since 2012, after knocking off the Geelong Falcons by 35 points. The Power had a fight on their hands after kicking the first four goals of the game, and lead by just 16 points at the final break, but powered home in the final term.

The first score of the day came courtesy of a Tye Hourigan error, marking on the goal line but then kicking between the behinds to force a rushed behind. Gippsland captain Xavier Duursma had about five touches in the opening few minutes and his run handed Josh Smith the opening goal of the game. The next clearance inside 50 saw the unbelievable talents of Irving Mosquito get boot to ball with class in the square and Gippsland had two majors on the board.

Geelong were still winning the football but the Gippsland defence was up to the task. Despite a good inside 50, Gippsland rushed it down the other end and big Rylan Henkel kicked a goal off a couple of steps and Gippsland was on fire. Noah Gown‘s aerial prowess was on show with a towering mark, but his decision to play on from the 35m set shot was surprising, however he found Leo Connolly who snapped a goal to make it four on the trot.

Blake Schlensog had clean hands off the deck and kick inside 50 but hit-up a Gippsland opponent. Ben Morton won a crucial one-on-one deep in defence, keeping his feet but did not realise he had time and space to his left, he handballed back in-board to Baxter Mensch who had a shot but it cannoned into the woodwork.

Keidan Rayner was producing some nice moves through midfield, sidestepping his opponents and kicking cleanly inside 50. Connor Idun lead hard from a quick snap on the boundary to mark on the ground. His set shot was perfect off the boot and got Gippsland on the board in the opening term. Mensch took a good mark one-on-one on 50, gave off the handball to Jay Dahlhaus, but the ball was rushed across the line by Hourigan. some great work by Dahlhaus saw him break a few tackles, handball to the free man in Idun and he kicked to Schlensog’s advantage 15m out, delivering the goal. to reduce the margin back to single digits. It did not last long, however with Smith taking a good mark and converting the set shot for his second major.

The second quarter started like the first, with Gippsland getting an early inside 50 and Duursma getting on the end of it with a great set shot goal. Sam Walsh got involved with a quick handpass to Brayden Ham in defence, but the kick was smothered and Bailey Beck pounced. Beck had a nice shot on goal but it bounced to the left and missed. A smothered kick off Riley Baldi‘s boot almost saw Geelong make the Power pay, with Charlie Harris snapping from 15m out, but spraying the attempt.

Charlie Sprague did not make the same mistake, being opportunistic with a fantastic snap to get the Falcons on the board and keep the momentum balanced. Sam Conway was winning some big hitouts through the ruck and Sam Walsh was getting involved everywhere. He won the football at the stoppage and cleared to a wing, then marked at half-forward. His shot on goal dropped short, but was marked in a big pack by Idun, who booted his second goal of the game.

One could sense the tide was turning, with Geelong getting more of the football forward of centre. Sprague had another chance from a good mark, but he went too close to the man on the mark and his set shot went out on the full. Just as it appeared to be that way, Oscar Brownless had a late tackle on Matthew McGannon for a downfield free. Harvey Neocleous made no mistake and kicked the goal. The Power pressure was mounting and it lead to a mistake on the goal line with Cooper Cartledge trying to rush the ball through but was tackled by Harrison Pepper. Lucky for the Geelong defence, Pepper missed the snap. It was not long before Connolly pounced on his second bending it around the body to sail one home from 40m out.

Cartledge’s work in defence was good one-on-one against Gown, beating him on multiple occasions, but unfortunately his kicking was off target with a number of clangers. Duursma had a chance from a set shot early in the piece, but got too close to the mark and tugged it to the left for a behind. Tempers flared a touch when a non-malicious but late all the same, push by Henkel on Keidan Rayner saw the Power ruck go into the umpire’s book. Ham had been quiet in the first half, but made it count with his set shot from outside 50, with a perfectly weighted kick to cut the deficit to 15 points early in the third. Caleb Serong was another who was not up to his usual high production standards in the first half, but had a chance in the third quarter with a snap that just missed.

Schlensog took a big mark at half-forward and had no hesitation in lining up for the set shot, but it drifted to the left and was punched across the line. The big man took another big grab moments later, and then a long bomb into the goal square off the next possession saw Walsh pounce and turn one way and then the other to get boot to ball. The goal umpire extraordinarily signalled it had been touched before changing his mind and calling it a goal after Walsh celebrated with teammates. Kyle Reid signalled he had indeed touched it, but with no goal review, the major stood and the Falcons were up to their ears in the contest. Everything was building towards a huge finish to the game with Gippsland still in front, but Geelong charging home. A great tackle from Sprague on the siren exemplified how much the Falcons had lifted in the term.

The momentum quickly shifted early in the final term with a great one-on-one mark and goal to Serong from the goal square. A few minutes later a Mosquito tackle at half-forward was rewarded and almost resulted in a goal to Beck, but the shot just missed. Nick Lowden also missed a chance running into goal, but Gippsland had the momentum. Lachlan Smith did well to lock up Mosquito inside 50 and clear the ball from danger. The Power fans could sense a preliminary final spot was almost there, and when Pepper ran into goal and nailed it, the crowd went up. A great chase by Duursma on Walsh resulted in a less than effective kick, with the Gippsland leader showing the way. If the nail was not already in the coffin, it certainly was when Beck kicked a running goal midway through the quarter.

Henkel received a free kick and converted the set shot, letting the Falcons defenders know about the score. Gippsland was home and hosed and through to a preliminary final. Gippsland was supremely confident, so much so Smith had a crack from the centre square and made the distance, but the accuracy was just to the right. Matthew McGannon‘s work off half-back throughout the game was consistent throughout, as was Boadie Motton in the midfield. Mosquito missed his chance for a second not long after, just spraying a flying shot on the goal. Sprague had a crack in the dying minutes but also missed. A 50m penalty to Ham saw the exciting forward finish the game with two and be among the best once again. While he did not have the points on Cartledge for the day, Gown kicked a late on for the Power.

Gippsland Power 5.1 | 8.3 | 9.5 | 13.10 (88)
Geelong Falcons 2.3 | 4.7 | 6.9 | 7.11 (53)

Gippsland: Josh Smith 2, Leo Connolly 2, Rylan Henkel 2, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito, Harvey Neocleous, Caleb Serong, Harrison Pepper, Noah Gown.
Geelong: Connor Idun 2, Brayden Ham 2, Charlie Sprague, Blake Schlensog, Sam Walsh.

ADC BEST:

Gippsland: Xavier Duursma, Leo Connolly, Rylan Henkel, Josh Smith, Matthew McGannon, Tye Hourigan
Geelong: Cooper Cartledge, Brayden Ham, Baxter Mensch, Lachlan Smith, Connor Idun, Charlie Sprague

2018 AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year announced

GIPPSLAND Power and Murray Bushrangers make up one third of the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year, with four nominees each in the side. Every side except Eastern Ranges is represented in the team, with minor premiers Dandenong Stingrays (three), Calder Cannons (two), Geelong Falcons (two), Northern Knights (two), Oakleigh Chargers (two) and Western Jets (two) all having multiple nominees. Bendigo Pioneers and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have one nominee in the starting team each.

Gippsland Power has plenty of talented bottom-agers, but its four National Combine invitees made our Team of the Year in 2018, lead by captain Xavier Duursma, over-ager Matthew McGannon, and bookends Kyle Reid and Noah Gown. Murray also had four nominees with key forward Hudson Garoni, reliable midfielder Ely Smith, the versatile Jordon Butts, and bottom-ager Lachlan Ash, all making the side. Dandenong Stingrays trio, Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman provide the ruck and forward depth, while captain Campbell Hustwaite has had a superb season.

Amongst the sides with dual nominations are Calder Cannons, with co-captain Mitch Podhajski and serial rebounder Lucas Cavallaro making the side after consistent seasons. Geelong Falcons co-captain Sam Walsh is no surprise in the team, captaining the team with teammate, Brayden Ham his vice-captain. GWV Rebels’ forward Charlie Wilson is the sole Rebel in the side, but his eight nominations – equal with Walsh and Ham – have earned him vice-captain with Ham.

Northern Knights duo, Tom McKenzie and Josh D’Intinosante have made the side, with McKenzie being a rare inclusion given he has missed a lot of football due to school commitments. But the football he has played, he has starred and has earned a place in the side. Oakleigh Chargers also have two nominees in the team despite most of their side missing at times, with Jack Ross and Trent Bianco impressing when at TAC Cup level, making the Team of the Year.

The remaining members of the best 24 are Western Jets duo, Xavier O’Halloran and Connor Thar, as well as the sole Bendigo Pioneers nominee, Noah Wheeler, who slots onto a half-back flank. Much like the All-Australian side, the three bottom-agers in Ash, Bianco and D’Intinosante have been named on the bench.

AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week nominations:

8: Brayden Ham, Sam Walsh, Charlie Wilson
7: Campbell Hustwaite, Ely Smith
6: Noah Gown, Mitch Podhajski, Noah Wheeler
5: Lachlan Ash, Xavier Duursma, Jack Ross, Connor Thar, Bailey Williams
4: Trent Bianco, Riley Bowman, Jordon Butts, Lachlan Cavallaro, Josh D’Intinosante, Hudson Garoni, Matthew McGannon, Tom McKenzie, Xavier O’Halloran, Kyle Reid, Liam Stocker

In the Second Team of the Year, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets all have three nominees each to fill out more than 60 per cent of the team. Dandenong Stingrays, Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons each have two nominees, while Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power and GWV Rebels have a sole nominee in each in the team. Bendigo Pioneers is the only side without a nominee in the Second Team of the Year.

Eastern Ranges’ Ben Cardamone is the only player with four Team of the Week nominations to miss out on the Team of the Year, so he captains the Second Team of the Year. There are five bottom-agers who have made the side, with Ryan Byrnes, Adam Carafa, Jye Chalcraft, Mitch Mellis and Sam Flanders all earning their places in the Second Team of the Year.

 

AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year 48-man squad announced

WITH the conclusion of the TAC Cup season, AFL Draft Central has released its 48-man squad for the TAC Cup Team of the Year. The AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year takes into account the top performers across the TAC Cup 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 Bailey SmithNed McHenry and Ben King have not been included. In fact, just three players made the team from school football, with Tom McKenzie the most remarkable, making four Team of the Week nominations from six games, having played the least of any player.

For our TAC Cup Team of the Year, we will construct two 24-player squads with the Team of the Year, and the Second Team of the Year, rewarding all those who have performed strongly across the course of the season. The Team of the Year is worked out first and foremost by our TAC Cup Team of the Week nominations, with all players in the team having at least FOUR Team of the Week nominations. The Second Team of the Year squad is made up of players with between TWO and FOUR nominations.

In terms of club-by-club nominations, Murray Bushrangers has the most, with six players making the squad of 48, while top four sides, Dandenong Stingrays, Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers, all five. The Calder Cannons and Western Jets are also among the sides with five nominees each. Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights had four nominees, while Eastern Ranges and Sandringham Dragons had three each. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels (two) and Bendigo Pioneers (one) round out the remaining sides. The AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year will be announced on Friday.

ADC TAC CUP TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [1]: Noah Wheeler

Calder [5]: Lucas Cavallaro, Mitch Podhajski, Jake Riccardi, Lachlan Sholl, Curtis Taylor

Dandenong [5]: Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Campbell Hustwaite, Lachlan McDonnell, Bailey Williams

Eastern [3]: Ben Cardamone, Mitch Mellis, Kye Quirk

Geelong [4]: Brayden Ham, Baxter Mensch, Blake Schlensog, Sam Walsh

Gippsland [5]: Xavier Duursma, Sam Flanders, Noah Gown, Matthew McGannon, Kyle Reid

GWV [2]: Jed Hill, Charlie Wilson

Murray [6]: Lachlan Ash, Jordon Butts, Jye Chalcraft, Hudson Garoni, Ely Smith, Mathew Walker

Northern [4]: Adam Carafa, Josh D’Intinosante, Tom McKenzie, Stefan Uzelac

Oakleigh [5]: Trent Bianco, Jake Gasper, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, Jack Ross

Sandringham [3]: Ryan Byrnes, James Rendell, Liam Stocker

Western [5]: Buku Khamis, Xavier O’Halloran, Stefan Radovanovic, Connor Thar, Jack Watkins

The run home: Gippsland Power

GIPPSLAND Power have been the surprise packet in 2018, sitting second on the TAC Cup table with two rounds to go. The Power always had a strong core of bottom-age players coming through, but the ability for the top-agers to provide strength and leadership, and the bottom-agers to provide not only depth, but equal talent to the top-agers has helped the Power to the position they are in. Arguably they should be even more distanced in second, with draws against the Northern Knights and Calder Cannons, and a shock loss to Bendigo Pioneers one of only two losses for the season – the other was to Dandenong Stingrays.

Wins: 10
Losses: 2
Draws: 2
Position: 2nd
Points For: 1192 (2nd)
Points Against: 779 (2nd)
Percentage: 153
Points: 44

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Murray Bushrangers – MARS Stadium
R16: vs. Eastern Ranges – Morwell Recreation Reserve

National Combine Invitations: [4] Xavier Duursma, Matthew McGannon, Irving Mosquito, Kyle Reid

State Combine Invitations: [2] Noah Gown, Austin Hodge

Gippsland take on Murray Bushrangers in the opening game of the Triple Header at MARS Stadium on Saturday, before finishing its season with a home game against Eastern Ranges. The Power just need one win to lock up second spot given their percentage is far superior to that of Sandringham Dragons. Even two losses might be enough given Sandringham plays Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers, but regardless, they have their fate in their own hands. With a bye over the Wildcard Round, Gippsland is set to play either the Western Jets, Calder Cannons, Northern Knights or Geelong Falcons depending on results, with a potential preliminary final against Sandringham Dragons. Captain Xavier Duursma has lead from the front this season and firms as a potential first round pick, while Irving Mosquito‘s ceiling ensures Hawthorn will have to pay a pretty penny for him. Matthew McGannon has reignited recruiters interest in him by earning a National Combine invitation, while Kyle Reid and Noah Gown have been consistent bookends this season. The likes of Riley Baldi, Fraser Phillips and Josh Smith have added to the remarkable bottom-age talent at the Power which features Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders and Brock Smith in what quite frankly can only be described as a “scary good” team in 2019.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Riley Baldi – 255 (17th overall)
2 – Bailey Beck – 251
3 – Boadie Motton – 250
4 – Austin Hodge – 225
5 – Bailey Patterson – 209

Marks:

1 – Noah Gown – 76 (eq. 3rd overall)
2 – Bailey Beck – 68
3 – Matthew McGannon – 65
4 – Kyle Reid – 62
5 – Riley Baldi – 51
5 – Ryan Sparkes – 51

Contested Possessions:

1 – Austin Hodge – 128 (14th overall)
2 – Riley Baldi – 127
3 – Boadie Motton – 119
4 – Xavier Duursma – 102
5 – Irving Mosquito – 85

Tackles:

1 – Bailey Beck – 67 (eq. 14th overall)
2 – Jake Van Der Pligt – 62
3 – Austin Hodge – 55
4 – Boadie Motton – 53
5 – Ryan Sparkes – 50

Hitouts:

1 – Rylan Henkel – 152 (11th overall)
2 – Josh Smith – 97
3 – Marcus Toussaint – 40
4 – Noah Gown – 31
5 – Josh Wykes – 30

Clearances:

1 – Riley Baldi – 57 (eq. 6th overall)
2 – Austin Hodge – 36
3 – Boadie Motton – 33
4 – Irving Mosquito – 28
5 – Xavier Duursma – 26

Inside 50s:

1 – Irving Mosquito – 45 (eq. 14th overall)
2 – Riley Baldi – 43
3 – Xavier Duursma – 41
3 – Noah Gown – 41
5 – Josh Smith – 40
5 – Bailey Beck – 40

Rebounds:

1 – Kyle Reid – 35 (eq. 19th overall)
2 – Ryan Sparkes – 34
3 – Bailey Patterson – 32
4 – Matthew McGannon – 30
4 – Tye Hourigan – 30

Goals:

1 – Noah Gown – 22 (4th overall)
2 – Sam Flanders – 18 (eq. 7th overall)
2 – Josh Smith – 18 (eq. 7th overall)
4 – Austin Hodge – 13
4 – Irving Mosquito – 13

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 14

IN the last school football affected round of TAC Cup action, some top sides managed to overcome challenges from their opponents to get the four points, while others combated the challenges of high winds.

Sandringham Dragons 9.12 (66) defeated Eastern Ranges 8.8 (56)

By: Scott Dougan

On a cold, blustery day in Box Hill, the second-placed Dragons were first to strike against the Eastern Ranges, with Kyle Yorke converting successfully through the big sticks after taking a strong mark inside 50. Chayce Black responded for the Ranges 10 minutes later after the two teams found it hard to score. James Rendell and Ryan Byrnes impressed early, gathering plenty of possessions around the ground. The tight contest continued throughout the first quarter before Rendell was able to put the Dragons nine points clear at the first break.

The Dragons continued their dominance with the first two goals of the second quarter and increased their lead to 23 points only 15 minutes in. The Ranges weren’t going down without a fight, with Adrian Kalcovski steering through his team’s first of the quarter. Jack Kritopoulos was exciting inside the forward half for the Ranges, bagging two very important goals late in the term, cutting the margin to just three points at the main break. 

The third quarter turned out to be a slugfest, with both teams finding it incredibly difficult to score. Corey Watts was rock-solid down back for the Dragons, taking several intercept marks throughout the quarter. Bottom-ager Mitch Mellis continued to find plenty of the pill around the ground for the Ranges.

The Ranges started the final term in terrific fashion, hitting the front within the first five minutes with goals to James Blanck, Kritopoulos and Devlin Brereton. The Ranges were 13 points up before Oscar McMaster goaled and kept the Dragons within striking range. Nicholas Stamatis put the Dragons ahead in the twentieth minute after a blistering five-minute patch that included two goals. Rendell finished his spectacular day off with a brilliant goal that sealed the match for the Dragons in the final minutes of the game.

 

Dandenong Stingrays 8.19 (67) defeated Northern Knights 8.2 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

A rioting third quarter effort helped ensure Dandenong Stingrays maintained its two-game buffer atop the TAC Cup ladder with a hard-earned win over a gallant Northern Knights outfit at Preston City Oval.

The home side shot out of the blocks kicking against the wind with three straight goals in the opening term, including one to 16 year old prospect Jaden Collins. But the Stingrays kept within reach with a wasteful, but much needed 1.5 to find themselves only seven points down at the first break. Northern managed to get the better of their opponents on the scoreboard once again in the second quarter, albeit against the run of play. Another two majors saw them hold five of the first half’s seven goals, as a late Corey Ellison six-pointer doubled Dandenong’s total of six behinds for the term.

The Stingrays have seldom found themselves behind this season, and the ladder leaders flexed their muscles to pile on six goals in the ever important ‘premiership quarter’, while keeping the Knights scoreless. Forwards Bailey Williams and Finlay Bayne each bagged two goals in the term as the ‘Rays pulled away to a 34-point lead at the final change. With the wind at their backs, Northern kept their opponents goalless and did their best to bridge the gap with two goals from overager Joel Naylor, but it was too little, too late as Dandenong held on for a 17 point victory.

Astonishingly, the Knights won three of the four quarters but were let down by a third term lapse. Bottom-agers Ryan Gardner and Sam Philp were major ball winners for the home side with 27 and 29 respectively, while key defenders Stefan Uzelac (17 disposals, eight marks) and Joel Randall (25 disposals, five marks) were rocks while under enormous pressure.

For the winners, Bayne was prolific forward of centre with 31 disposals, nine marks, eight tackles and 2.2, while Williams chimed in with two majors of his own from 14 disposals and four marks. Midfielders Campbell Hustwaite (26 disposals, 10 tackles) and Sam Fletcher (24 disposals, 14 tackles) were industrious in the clinches, while Lachlan Young was named best afield with his stirring 17 disposals and five contested marks.

 

Gippsland Power 9.6 (60) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 8.7 (55)

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power has locked up a top four spot in this year’s TAC Cup competition with two rounds remaining after defeating Oakleigh Chargers by five points in a thrilling contest at Warrawee Park. The Power jumped the Chargers in blustery conditions early on, booting 3.3 to 1.1 to lead by 14 points in weather that looked like goals would be at a premium. Over the next two quarters, Oakleigh reversed the momentum and seemed to have all the control, with nine scoring shots to one, resulting in five goals on the board for the home team. In fact, Gippsland’s Luke Williams booted the final goal of the third term in the twentieth minute – the first Power score since the opening quarter. The Power came out firing in the final term, booting five goals to two, with the final of those – a Noah Gown set shot from 15m out – handing Gippsland the lead. With the ball down Oakleigh’s end in the dying seconds, Noah Answerth thumped the ball onto the boot and it bounced through from almost 60m out. The only problem? The siren had gone before he had disposed of it, giving Gippsland a vital four points.

Captain Xavier Duursma lead from the front with 29 disposals, seven marks, two clearances, eight inside 50s and four rebounds, while Matthew McGannon collected 21 touches and four marks in a solid contested effort from the overager. Forwards, Noah Gown and Sam Flanders were busy once again, booting two goals each and providing a threat in the air with a combined three contested marks, and 11 all up. Fraser Phillips was one that caught the eye up forward, dominant early and booted a fantastic goal in the opening term, he also had five marks and four inside 50s.

For Oakleigh, bottom-ager Trent Bianco brought his own ball to the footy, racking up 40 disposals, eight marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Matthew Fewings (26 disposals and five marks) and Lucas Westwood (22 disposals, five marks and seven rebounds) were also prominent. Up forward, Daniel Scala booted four goals, while Jake Gasper kicked his regulation two goals while pushing up to the wing throughout the match. Top picks, Riley Collier-Dawkins and Isaac Quaynor had some eye-catching moments, while Sam Harte was also busy.

 

Calder Cannons 14.8 (92) defeated Murray Bushrangers 10.12 (72)

Calder Cannons upset the Murray Bushrangers in Albury, storming home in the final term to record an impressive 20-point victory. In a see-sawing contest, Murray had early chances in the first term but booted six behinds to the Cannons’ one. Calder took control in the second term, piling on 5.5 to 3.1 to head into the main break with an 11-point lead. By the final quarter, the Bushrangers regained the ascendancy and a narrow lead at the break, heading into three quarter time with a three-point advantage. But Calder put the foot down in the final quarter to blitz the home side, with eight goals to four, including three majors to co-captain Mitch Podhajski changing the course of the game.

Podhajski was a clear best on ground with 35 disposals, 10 marks (three contested), seven inside 50s, two rebounds and four goals, leading the Cannons to one of their most impressive victories of the season. Lachlan Sholl (31 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) and Brodie Newman (25 disposals, eight marks and six rebounds) were crucial in defence, while Curtis Taylor bounced back from a quiet week last week to post 21 disposals, four marks, five clearances, three rebounds and a goal. Patrick Mahoney (three goals), Daniel Mott (24 disposals, five clearances and six inside 50s) and Ismail Moussa (24 disposals, eight marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) were others who stood out.

For the Bushrangers, midfield dynamo Ely Smith was again among the big ball winners, amassing 32 disposals (17 contested), five clearances and eight inside 50s, while Dylan Clarke had 23 disposals, six clearances and four inside 50s. Monster forward Hudson Garoni worked hard for 23 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and two goals, while Jye Chalcraft was again impressive with 21 touches, three marks, six clearances and four inside 50s. Lachlan Ash (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) was good in transition, while Will Chandler was electrifying with 14 disposals (100 per cent efficiency), five marks, four inside 50s and four goals.

 

Geelong Falcons 13.16 (94) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 2.1 (13)

Geelong Falcons might not have had the season they were after, but their demolition of the competitive Bendigo Pioneers showed just what they are capable of at full strength. The Falcons put in one of their finest performances of the year, to boot four goals to zero in the first term, and by the main break, had eight majors on the board to Bendigo’s one. Geelong continued their advantage after half-time, booting three goals from eight scoring shots, then holding the Pioneers scoreless for the second quarter in the match, booting 2.3 themselves to win by 81 points.

Co-captains Sam Walsh and Oscar Brownless lead from the front, recording the most disposals in the match. Walsh was terrific with 33 disposals, six marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds, missing two chances on goal. Brownless had 27 disposals, four marks, seven clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, while up forward, Brayden Ham continues to put his hand up with another 20 disposals, 12 marks and five goals to be the dominant force up forward. Ben Morton was important around the clearances, racking up five, while Sam Torpy had five inside 50s and booted a goal.

For the Pioneers, Noah Wheeler was the top disposal winner with 20 touches, as well as six marks and six rebounds playing off half-back, while Jacob Atley was also impressive with three rebounds from 15 disposals and three marks. Daniel Clohesy had a team-high four clearances, while Liam Marciano was one of the more prominent Pioneers with 18 disposals, three marks, two clearances and two inside 50s.

 

Western Jets 11.14 (80) defeated Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels 3.6 (24)

By: Ed Pascoe

The Jets and Rebels were unfortunate to get horrid windy conditions for their game at Williamstown where it was not just the players, but the umpires that copped it too. The boundary umpires had the worst of it, often throwing the ball in to have it almost coming back to them which resulted in numerous back-to-back throw ins which frustrated just about everyone and made the contest a real slog for both teams. It all came down to execution going forward and it was the Jets who took the most of their opportunities. Handballs and kicks rarely hit the target throughout the game but some players still stood out with their intent despite the conditions.

The Rebels did not have many winners throughout the day. Goal sneak Charlie Wilson (11 disposals) was not helped with the conditions and tried his absolute best when it did come inside 50. Down back Scott Carlin (21), Jacob Lohmann (19) and James Cleaver (17) all provided good rebound and bottom age midfielders Cooper Craig-Peters (24) and Ethan Harvey (20) worked hard through the midfield.

The Jets captain Xavier O’Halloran (11 disposals) had a quieter game by his standards but he was helped through the midfield with the likes of Daly Andrews (27) running amuck on the wing and the grunt of Stefan Radovanovic (16), Connor Thar (23), Jack Watkins (23) and bottom ager Darcy Cassar (20). AFL Academy member and Under-18 All Australian Buku Khamis (16) was classy at half-back with his ball use while it was forward Daniel Pantalleresco who was all the rage with his 5 goals with most of them kicked extremely well considering the conditions, he did it all at ground level and in the air and he certainly would have gained the attention of recruiters.