Tag: Matty Lloyd

Jets storm into finals with nine unanswered goals against Rebels

NINE consecutive goals to the Western Jets saw the sixth placed side run rampant over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) to end the Rebels’ season on a disappointing note. While both sides were up for the fight, the Jets restricted the Rebels to just four goals after quarter time, while piling on 13 of their own. The complete rout came from the 20-minute mark of the third term as they booted 9.6 to 0.0 to round out the game and storm into the NAB League finals series.

Efficiency going forward was the key between the sides in the first term, with the Rebels having 10 less disposals, but having five more inside 50s. Of the Rebels’ 14 inside 50s, they had six scoring shots on the board, and held a 13-point buffer at the first break. It was Mitchell Jorgensen who got the Rebels going with a lucky bounce in the goalsquare bounding over the head of an overcommitted Jets’ defender back into Jorgensen’s hands who slammed it home for the game’s first major. Up the other end, Archi Manton tried to do the same with creating something out of nothing, but could not get ball to boot and it dribbled across the line. It must have been something in the air because Mitch Martin almost topped everything with a high bouncing dribbler from the tightest of angles which went end-over-end only for it to bounce through and hit the inside of the post

It was not long before Isaac Grant lead out and accepted a neat Matty Lloyd kick inside 50 to make it two in a row, as either side of that Lloyd had a couple of chances on goal but just picked up the two behinds from general play. Finally the Jets got on the board in reward for time in possession with a long kick and quick handball to the running Aaron Clarke in the goalsquare getting them on the board. The Rebels were having none of that though, as Grant soon responded, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping for his second in the opening term and handing the Rebels a 14-point lead. The Jets controlled most of the last five minutes but could only add a rushed behind to their tally as the GWV defence stood up with plenty of high balls inside 50 spoiled away. At quarter time, Darcy Cassar was up to 10 touches, ahead of Eddie Ford and Josh Honey who were used in transition down the wings, while for the Rebels, it was Martin and Mitchell Burgess who had the seven disposals each.

The Jets fought back in the second term, booting a rather inaccurate 3.6 to the Rebels’ 2.2. Clarke and Manton’s strength in the air and at ground level was telling, while the likes of Ford and Honey were trying to create opportunities inside 50. It was the Rebels who could not convert early however, as Grant and Jorgensen missed chances either side of a Manton goal. Manton was on the end of a terrific turnover by the Jets at half-back and ran it down for the competition’s leading goalkicker to capitalise with the extra number inside 50. A nice piece of play from Ford just prior intercepted a handball and got it over to Honey but his snap missed. Riley Polkinghorne soon got the Rebels on the board with a nice end-to-end play resulting in him launching from outside 50 and responding to the Manton major.

A few more Jets misses – first from Harrison Schumann then Nash Reynolds inside 50 – let the Rebels off the hook with back-to-back defensive 50 turnovers, but a third time they would not be so lucky. The ball bounced back inside 50 to Manton who took a strong mark and put it straight through. Ford had a chance of his own in congestion but could not get on the right and it flew out on the full, with the corresponding passage down the wing resulting in a huge flying mark from Liam Herbert who clunked it from the side and then converted the set shot. Ford had another chance from the set shot following a free kick but again it strayed right, before Clarke also followed suit with a behind after a mismatch resulted in a contested grab and shot. It was not long before Western’s dominance with the ball in the forward half paid dividends as Manton snapped around his body for his third of the half and draw within three points. With less than a minute remaining, two terrific defensive efforts from the Rebels – firstly from Jayden Wright backing into Aaron Clarke to spoil and cause a spill, and then Martin laying a perfect technique tackle to win a free, ensured the Rebels remained in front at the half. Cassar and Ford were still the top Jets ball winners, while Ben Hobbs had a massive second term, combining well with Martin through the middle, while Toby Mahony and Josh Dwyer were also having a say.

The momentum the Jets built in the second term continued into the third, with Lucas Failli kicking a ripping goal from a snap after Martin missed just prior to that with a long range shot. Both teams were looking better with their ball movement, but the Jets were clogging up the wings to halt the Rebels where possible, and with the Jets back in front, Manton almost kicked a remarkable mid-air shot from 30m out on the boundary but it bounced through for just one behind. Martin booted his third behind of the day with a chance he would normally swallow up, but Nick Caris made no mistake shortly after, converting his set shot and the Rebels regained the lead by four points. When Rantall ran into an open goal and put it straight through the middle, the margin was 10 points with seven minutes remaining. But that would be the last Rebels score for the remainder of the game as Western took full control of the game. A Will Kennedy dump kick resulted in a great mark over the top from Manton who converted his fourth goal of the game, and a late snap from Billy Cootee from 50m out put the Jets in front at the final break.

The Jets’ momentum had been brewing and it bubbled over in the final term with a procession of goals as Western took full control of the game and it became a party for the sixth placed side. Failli was the trendsetter with another great snap around his body, followed by a huge goal from Honey to extend the lead into double-digits. That followed a Clarke long-bomb himself from outside 50 and when the Rebels dropped a crucial mark inside defensive 50, Daly Andrews swooped in and produced the double cobra celebration knowing his side was now home and hosed with a 29-point advantage.

The Jets were so comfortable they started with the highlight-reel plays as Manton attempted an ambitious 65-metre set shot which unsurprisingly fell short, and then a kick off the ground was just as ambitious from Harley Blake in mid-air. It was not long before Honey’s influence was taking its toll in the forward half with a perfect kick on his non-preferred to Daniel Bolkas who leaned back and converted, then Honey had another goal assist, this time to Failli for his third. Ford was equally as influential in the forward half, but could not find his radar with his third behind of the game, but it mattered little. The Rebels defensive structure had broken down as a deadly turnover inside 50 straight to Mace Cousins who kicked a goal right before the final siren to make it an even 50-point victory. There were not many highlights for the scoreless Rebels in the final term, with Rantall having the sole shot on goal, which despite being on target, was punched over the line and a free against the Rebels handed out anyway.

The final margin was not reflective of the overall game, though the Jets took control after quarter time, and really owned the midfield and gave their forwards enough chances inside 50 to really capitalise. They booted the last nine goals of the game to win in a stampede, almost doubling their score for the game in that last quarter. Honey was best on ground with 24 touches seven marks, eight inside 50s, five tackles, a goal and numerous goal assists, while Andrews worked hard in the engine room to bring up 29 touches, eight marks, five inside 50s, three tackles and a goal. Cassar won plenty of the footy in the back half with 24 touches, seven marks and four rebounds, while Ford was busy in the forward half with three behinds from 23 touches and four marks. Failli finished with the three majors in a big second half, ending the game with 19 touches, while Manton and Clarke combined for six goals and were handful in the air. For the Rebels, Hobbs was the best with 21 disposals, three marks, four rebounds, three inside 50 and three tackles, while Rantall (17 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) and Dwyer (20 disposals, three marks) tried hard, as did Martin (15 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s, four tackles and three behinds).

WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 4.8 | 7.9 | 14.15 (99)
GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.5 | 7.7 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS:

Western: A. Manton 4, L. Failli 3, A. Clarke 2, B. Cootee, D. Andrews, J. Honey, M. Cousins, D. Bolkas.
GWV: I. Grant 2, M. Jorgensen, R. Polkinghorne, l. Herbert, J. Rantall, N. Caris.

ADC BEST:

Western: J. Honey, L. Failli, D. Andrews, E. Ford, D. Cassar. A. Manton
GWV: B. Hobbs, J. Rantall, J. Dwyere, M. Martin, i. Grant, M. Burgess

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scouting Notes: Herald Sun Shield – St Bede’s vs. St Patrick’s Ballarat

ST Bede’s College Mentone got the better of eight-time champions St Patrick’s Ballarat in the Herald Sun Shield grand final on Wednesday, and there was plenty of NAB League talent afield. We take a look at how some of the Sandringham Dragons and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels-listed players fared in the entertaining game.

St Bede’s:

#4 Kyle Yorke

Yorke was the main threat up forward, proving too big, strong, and smart around goal for his opponents. Started with a goal assist to George Grey for the first goal of the game, although the pass almost looked like an errand shot. He continued his dangerous form in the same term, covering the ground well to lay a ripping holding the ball tackle inside 50 and set up another chance for Grey. He would boot the first of his two goals in the following quarter with a great snap from the pocket shortly after spraying a more straightforward set shot out on the full. Yorke capped his day with what ended up being the sealing goal in the final term, slamming home another snap to help St Bede’s clinch the title.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The hard-working ball winner played a few different roles, but really came into his own late in the game with a permanent move into the midfield. Byrnes lifted when the game was on the line, prizing the ball at the stoppages and chaining handballs out to get some drive going, which proved vital as St Patrick’s pressed. The Dragons product did not seem to have massive numbers, but accumulated strongly across the day and made himself busy when planted on either wing or up forward.

#7 Miles Bergman

Named best afield, the enigmatic Bergman had some of the most influential touches throughout the game. In arguably the passage that got him over the line for the best-on medal, Bergman stormed up the field to defensive 50 when St Bede’s were struggling to get it out, rising to take a strong overhead mark and relieve the pressure. His side would go on to kick the sealing goal shortly after, with Bergman’s touch of class a huge part in it. Earlier, he missed a couple of set shot chances in the third term which would have otherwise made it tough for St Patricks, as well as a snap under duress. The misses were surprising given Bergman’s textbook conversion in the second term, booting the first goal of that quarter. Overall an impactful outing, with his athleticism and vice-like hands on full show.

#9 George Grey

Grey was as dangerous as anyone in the front half, finding space both inside 50 and further afield at half-forward. He booted the first goal of the game with a straightforward set shot in the opening term, backing it up with a poster after receiving from Kyle Yorke a second time. Grey would go on to continue his influence around the forward arc, often booting inside 50 and causing headaches for defenders with his constant motion.

#10 Blake O’Leary

Had a really strong third quarter, continuing through the midfield after winning a couple of clearances there in the first half. O’Leary’s speed away from the contest and ability to find the ball around stoppages became a real factor, streaming forward at pace on a few occasions. His disposal on the end of those runs could have been sharper, but he managed to pull off a nice pass inside 50 to Miles Bergman late in the third term.

#30 Andrew Courtney

Played a bit of everywhere for St Bede’s, starting well in defence, spending some time in the ruck, and later moving forward. Courtney looked ominous in the air during the opening stages; starting with a big fist and clever one-on-one mark, while also laying a goal-saving tackle to prevent his opponent from converting into an open goal. While he faded out of the game slightly, Courtney continued to position well behind the ball and flew bravely in packs to impact each contest.

St Patrick’s:

#1 Cooper Craig-Peters

Craig-Peters was his usual combative self, trying hard all day through the midfield and willing his way out of congestion. A constant in the engine room, the top-ager’s ability to stay on the move and break tackles worked well with a couple of good stoppage moments coming late on; the first being a fast break forward after an Izaac Grant smother, and the second a duck under Miles Bergman’s flailing reach to find space to kick inside 50. Can sharpen up his use by foot at times, but is always solid and lifted when it mattered.

#3 Fraser Marris

The GWV bottom-ager worked hard up the ground as he usually does, finding the ball forward of the wing and getting on his penetrating left side to deliver inside 50. His lead up work and strength for a smaller player were both features, with only Marris’ conversion the issue on this occasion. He had one set shot fade late and another touched on the line – both from range – while also seeing a snap go astray after roving nicely. Still, Marris was a great link in the chain and productive as ever.

#4 Izaac Grant

The St Pat’s skipper was immense in the closing stages, doing everything he could to drag his side over the line. While he spent some time up the ground, Grant looked most at home in his time forward – with his good leap, strong hands, and smarts around goal all evident. He missed his first shot on goal after marking strongly in the first term, but made up for it in the following quarter with another solid mark drifting in from the side and the all-important conversion for St Pat’s first goal. He really did lift late-on with some work around the ball, but just needs to use his talent more consistently.

#5 Riley Polkinghorne

Polkinghorne was a productive member of the St Pat’s back six, working well to deliver the ball out of the back half. He had a particularly good start to the game, reading the play well on a couple of occasions to firstly spoil from behind and then take a sharp intercept mark from a St Bede’s ball across goal. He would go on to win one-on-ones when called upon, with one example against Blake O’Leary at half-back showcasing a good amount of composure.

#6 Matty Lloyd

Another talented player who falls just short in some moments, but put in a promising effort in this game. Lloyd started in defence where he would rack up possessions and do his best to move the ball out effectively, finding good range on his kicks. He showed some good poise when hemmed in, as well as having a nice run away from the stoppage early on. Moving up onto the wing, Lloyd was clean in congestion – which boded well for his goal at the end of the third term which he snapped out of just about nothing, keeping St Pat’s in the game. Was in the vicinity in potentially match-winning plays late on, but could not quite capitalise inside 50.

#8 Jack Tillig

Another strong performer in the back half, Tillig had some good moments in the air despite not always pulling down marks. He started well with a strong leap into a pack and followed up with a composed juggling mark under some heat from his direct opponent. He went on to remain strong overhead around the ground, and put in some good spoils when he found himself matched against Kyle Yorke in defensive 50.

St Bede’s celebrate first ever Herald Sun Shield

ST BEDE’S has celebrated its first ever Herald Sun Shield in the Senior Boys Division 1 after holding off the competition’s most successful school of the past decade. The Mentone-based college led from the start, and despite St Patrick’s best efforts in cutting the deficit to as little as four points, the metropolitan based side got up by just 12 points, 5.10 (40) to 3.10 (28). It was a game that was not the greatest show of goalkicking accuracy, with eight majors from 28 scoring shots, but it mattered little to the team which featured a number of top Sandringham Dragons talents.

Both sides’ defences were on overdrive early with the first term resulting in just one goal from eight scoring shots. That major came from a regulation shot on goal from St Bede’s and Sandringham Dragons’ George Grey who took a strong mark off a Kyle Yorke pass that could well have been intended for a shot on goal. Grey had a second chance just before the quarter time siren but hit the post, though they had made more of their chances than St Patrick’s who were rushed inside 50. GWV Rebels’ duo Fraser Marris and Izaac Grant both had shots on goal that drifted wide, while Flynn Atchison was dragged down in the square. Yorke and Andrew Courtney were proving to be problematic up either end, while for St Pat’s Atchison and defensive duo Riley Polkinghorne and Matty Lloyd were winning plenty of it in the defensive 50. In the middle, Dragons’ captain Ryan Byrnes was strong at the stoppages winning his fair share of the ball and moving it forward.

Miles Bergman opened the account early in the second term, finding space to take a nice mark on 50 and saluted to extend the lead out to nine points. Marris had a chance to respond but his snap under pressure missed to the right up the other end. After a few St Bede’s misses, Harry Sharp almost threaded the unbelievable goal from the boundary but was punched through on the line for a behind. Yorke had a chance to extend the margin further as St Bede’s went end-to-end but his set shot from the boundary sailed out on the full. As if Yorke needed a greater degree of difficulty, he marked near the behind post on his preferred right side, ran around and booted his side’s third major midway through the term. Just as it looked like St Patrick’s might head into half-time goalless, Grant stood up to take a strong mark and converted from the set shot to cut the deficit to 10 points.

The third term started with some end-to-end plays but both defences were up to the task with St Bede’s managing a rushed behind and St Patrick’s rushing it up the other end and a lace-out pass hit Marris on the chest. His set shot was on target but touched on the line. St Bede’s Lachlan Benton put one through early in the third only for an uproar to occur when a free kick in the goal square was paid for shepherding over the line and the goal discounted. They had another chance a minute later when Bergman soared above a pack for a big mark, but his shot went to the right for another behind. St Bede’s relentless attacking paid off eventually though with Liam Segar smartly getting ball to boot and another major sailed through. St Pat’s were not going to stand for that though as Atchison marked and goaled a minute later in response and the margin was again back to 11. A nice play from defence by St Pat’s led to a mark inside 50 to Kayne Councillor, but his shot from the boundary also missed. The inaccuracy was contagious as Bergman’s set shot straight in front not long after also registered just one behind. With the siren imminent late in the term, Lloyd snuck forward, found space at a stoppage to snap the ball around his body and cut the deficit to just a narrow five points at the final break.

Neither side would relent early in the final term as both tried to find their avenue to goal. Grant marked inside 50 but opted to be unselfish with an inside pass, though the St Bede’s defenders were clued onto it and spoiled it away. St Pat’s were building momentum though, with an almost-mark in the goalsquare to Lloyd but it was just missed and rolled into the post for a behind, and shortly after another shot was marked on the line. The margin was just four points though and the ball was getting pumped inside 50 as quickly as it was getting repelled. It took a Bergman contested mark at half-back to finally clear the defensive zone and put St Bede’s back on the attack, and it was Yorke who lead up, grabbed it half-volley turned around to snap and goal and for all of St Pat’s momentum, St Bede’s were now out to a 10-point lead. The top-end talent at St Bede’s was lifting when the team needed it as Bergman and Byrnes were getting their hands on the footy and pumping it forward or setting up teammates. Likewise, Grant was lifting too with a crucial contested mark and kick forward but it just bounced out of Lloyd’s grasp.

ST PATRICK’S 0.5 | 1.7 | 3.9 | 3.10 (28)
ST BEDE’S 1.3 | 3.5 | 4.8 | 5.10 (40)

GOALS:

St Patrick’s: I. Grant, F. Atchison, M. Lloyd.
St Bede’s: K. Yorke 2, G. Grey, M. Bergman, L. Segar.

NAB League Boys Round 16 wash-up: Three games decided by a combined 16 points

TWENTY-TWO points was the greatest margin in what was, needless to say, a tight round of NAB League action. Oakleigh kicked off the weekend with an impressive second half performance to knock Western off, followed by dramatic low-scoring wins to Geelong and Eastern. The drama continued on Sunday as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) came back from the dead twice to edge home over Bendigo, rounding off a remarkable four games of Under 18S football.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.2 | 4.3 | 10.5 | 12.8 (80)
WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 | 9.4 (58)

GOALS
Oakleigh: N. Stathopoulos 3, A. Tassell 2, C. Sharman 2, A. Lukic 2, J. Lucas, L. Jenkins, S. Seach.
Western: A. Manton 5, B. Cootee 2, S. El-Hawli, D. Andrews

BEST
Oakleigh: L. Jenkins, V. Zagari, R. McInnes, L. Westwood, N. Stathopoulos, J. Lucas.
Western: J. Honey, A. Manton, L. Conway, B. Cootee, S. El-Hawli, K. Crimmins

A barnstorming second half saw Oakleigh get the better of Western and slot into the all-important third place, with all teams bar Tasmania having now played 14 games. The Chargers gave up a six-point half-time lead after heading into the first break with an identical margin to the good, but turned it on in typical Oakleigh fashion to boot six goals to Western’s nil in the third term. While Western managed to claw back a bit of the margin in an improved final quarter, it was to no avail as Oakleigh held firm despite missing both of its co-captains. Chargers midfielder Lochlan Jenkins was the standout with 35 disposals, 10 inside 50s and a goal, backed by fellow bottom-age ball finder Reef McInnes (28 disposals, seven marks, nine tackles). Over-ager Jeromy Lucas (26 disposals, six tackles) was another to stand up with some of the Chargers’ guns absent, while Nicholas Stathopoulos was efficient in front of goal to prize three goals from seven disposals and Cooper Sharman (10 disposals, 2.1) continues to excite. For the Jets, Archi Manton was just as economical with 5.1 from seven kicks to do most of the damage as his side’s only multiple goal kicker, but Josh Honey was named best for his 24-disposal effort. Over-ager Daly Andrews (23 disposals) keeps on finding the ball, with returning defensive duo Lucas Rocci and Josh Kellett doing the same and bottom-ager Billy Cootee booting a couple of handy goals. Both sides are set to play their final regular season games in the Avalon Airport Oval triple-header, with Western opening the show against Northern and Oakleigh closing it in a mouth-watering clash with Sandringham.

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.4 | 2.5 | 4.11 | 6.13 (49)
GEELONG FALCONS 3.1 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS
Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Rand, P. Walker, J. Callow, J. Menzie.
Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Annandale 2, C. Seymour, J. Clark, A. Hildebrandt

BEST:
Tasmania: O. Davis, J. Rand, S. Banks, O. Shaw, J. Lane.
Geelong: O. Henry, C. Sprague, C. Fleeton, J. Clark, N. Gribble, H. Whyte

It was tough going, but Geelong finally managed to stand up in the final term and record its second win for the year, scraping past Tasmania to win by seven points on enemy territory. The game came to life in the final term after the Devils cut Geelong’s 17-point half time margin to just one heading into the last turn, with a heated scuffle ensuing at three-quarter time. It all looked like unravelling as Tasmania got on top early in the final period, but a strong final five minutes and clutch goals to Max Annandale and Chris Seymour got the Falcons home. There were plenty of standouts despite it being a bottom-two clash, with bottom-agers Oliver Henry and Oliver Davis clearly best for their respective sides. Henry reverted back to a defensive role, dominating in the air to pull down 11 marks, while Davis was relentless through midfield with 23 disposals and 10 tackles. Cameron Fleeton (21 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) complimented Henry well down back while keeping Jackson Callow to eight disposals and one goal, with skipper Jesse Clark (21 disposals, eight tackles, one goal) enjoying some midfield time and Charlie Sprague dangerous up forward with 3.2. For the Devils, Matt McGuinness continued his consistent form with 20 disposals and eight rebound 50s, while Jack Rand (16 disposals, 2.1) was good in just his second game and 16-year-old Sam Banks (14 disposals) also impressed. While the Devils can enjoy a week off, Geelong will look to finish its regular season strongly despite being cemented to last spot as it meets Dandenong in Round 17.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 0.5 | 2.5 | 5.5 | 6.5 (41)
EASTERN RANGES 1.5 | 1.6 | 4.10 | 5.16 (46)

GOALS
Dandenong: E. Cahill 2, C. Ellison 2, J. Nanscawen, W. Howe
Eastern: J. Ross 2, B. Hickleton, H. Keeling, M. Brown

BEST
Dandenong: C. Gay, H. Young, B. Nyuon, N. Heath, J. Nanscawen, E. Cahill
Eastern: J. Ross, M. Mellis, J. Nathan, T. Garner, B. McCormack, T. Sonsie

Dandenong fell agonisingly short of snapping its seven-game losing streak, going down by five points to ladder leaders Eastern at Shepley Oval. Six straight goals after quarter time was not quite enough to account for a wasteful 0.5 opening, with the equally wayward Ranges getting over the line after scrounging five behinds in the final 15 minutes to crawl to victory. It was the top-end talent of Dandenong that saw it draw close, with Hayden Young continuing his fine form to collect 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s, while Ned Cahill booted two goals from 18 touches, and Bigoa Nyuon was prominent in the air with 20 hitouts and seven marks. Despite their efforts, bottom-ager Clayton Gay (15 disposals, six marks, six tackles, six rebound 50s) was named the Stingrays’ best in a well-rounded performance, with Jack Toner (27 disposals) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. For the Ranges, who have now locked in top spot due to a sizeable percentage, skipper James Ross was terrific in a role further afield – collecting 20 disposals, taking seven marks and kicking two goals. Zak Pretty (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (24) found plenty of the pill, while consistent tall Billy McCormack (20 disposals, 22 hitouts) proving just that and 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie (20 disposals, five marks, six tackles) acclimatising nicely to the level. With first place all but nailed down, the Ranges move on to face Calder in the ultimate round, while Dandenong will eye off a win heading into Wildcard Round when it meets Geelong to end the regular season.

GWV REBELS 3.2 | 3.3 | 9.7 | 13.11 (89)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.2 | 8.2 | 10.4 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS
GWV: I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rentsch 2, J. Rantall 2, F. Marris, M. Martin, M. Herbert, B. Hobbs, M. Jorgensen
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 4, W. Wallace 2, J. Treacy 2, A. Gundry, S. O’Farrell, J. Evans, B. Worme, B. Rowles

BEST
GWV: J. Rantall, C. Craig-Peters, T. Mahony, I. Grant, J. Rentsch, P. Glanford
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan, J. Treacy, A. Gundry, J. Schischka, J. Evans, B. Worme

By: Cam Ross

The Bendigo Pioneers travelled to MARS stadium on Sunday for the battle of the two central Victorian teams.
The first quarter saw both sides wanting to play a free-flowing game. Pioneers midfield took advantage and Riley Wilson and Josh Treacy were really important. The highlight of the first quarter was Treacy’s brilliant running goal from inside the centre square. Two goals late, one with a lucky bounce for Ben Hobbs and a delightful finish on the run from Matty Lloyd looked to be enough to give the Rebels a lead into quarter time, but the red hot Treacy won the free kick with a nice tackle, and converted the set shot to keep the scores locked at 20 at the first break.

The Pioneers started the second where they left off in the first with Aaron Gundry converting after a nice pack mark in front of goal, and within a minute, some poor discipline from the Rebels cost them again and the Pioneers got a 50 metre penalty, putting them in the square again. The Rebels needed to respond around the ball, and with gun onballer Jay Rantall being closely checked it was up to Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony to attempt to have more of an impact. The Pioneers simply kept on winning the stoppages, and kicked six straight goals, meaning that a six-point Rebels lead at the 23-minute mark of the first quickly became a 29-point deficit half way through the second. Jed Hill and Rantall (around the ground) were winning enough ball for the Rebels, but didn’t have many helpers in the first half. The Rebels couldn’t kick one major in the second term and were crippled by their ineffectiveness to move the ball inside 50. The Pioneers on the other hand were sensational. Their five straight goals in the second, meant they were able to capitalise on their midfield dominance and really put it on the scoreboard.

The Rebels needed a spark to start the second half, and when Josh Rentsch was finally was on the end of some decent service to start the third quarter, the Rebels looked to get the start they needed. He missed this shot, but the ball was locked in the forward line, and then Lloyd gave them that early goal. Rantall’s following goal was one for the highlight reels. The Rebels gun took the ball on the wing, hit the leading target, receiving the ball back for a delightful finish on the run. Rantall’s dominance at start of the quarter continued, winning a free kick, bounding away and kicking long to a contest where naturally gifted forward Martin finished the job. The Rebels kicked three straight goals early in the third to drag themselves back into the contest. The Rebels completely dominated the third term, being first to the footy, and remarkably turned around the deficit inside 15 minutes. However, The Pioneers finished the term well and took a three-point lead into the final change.

The Pio’s Jack Ginnivan took full advantage of a questionable free kick two minutes into the final term, giving the Pioneers a dream start. The Pioneers began to win a lot more of the ball around the ground, and as they had all day, the Pioneers forwards were taking their presented opportunities. When Ben Worme kicked a delightful set shot, the margin drifted out to 16 points. After this, and the Pioneers put cruise control on late in the game, and three goals from Mitchell Jorgensen, Izaac Grant and Rentsch made it a one point game in the blink of an eye and when Grant kicked his second goal in five minutes the Rebels had amazingly taken the lead. With only seconds remaining, the ever reliable James Schischka, intercepted the ball off the Rebels rebound, and quickly put on the boot where it magically ended up in the hands of Noah Walsh. The Pioneers forward unfortunately missed the goal on the siren, leaving the Rebels as four-point victors. Rantall was best for the home side, while Treacy and Schischka played well for the Pioneers in extremely entertaining contest where both sides deserved to win.

NAB League Boys: Round 15 preview – Super Saturday hosts four of five fixtures

A shortened round of action sees just five games set to take place in the NAB League, with four of them to be held on what will be a super Saturday. Sandringham will become the latest Victorian side to make the trip down to Tasmania, looking to roar back into the all-important top three spots. Meanwhile, Dandenong hosts Gippsland in a do-or-die clash, with much of the bottom half of the top eight set for a shuffle as the round plays out.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park (Tasmania)

A win and already sizeable percentage could help the Sandringham Dragons claw back into the safety of the top three, but a trip to Tasmania and the Devils stand in their way as they ready to clash. Currently sitting fourth, the Dragons snapped a three-game losing streak last week against reigning premiers, Dandenong, and will look to carry a more settled line-up into the back end of their season. In a slight blow to their chances, All Australian swingman Fischer McAsey – who booted three goals against Dandenong – comes out of the side, but the Dragons are set to bolster their midfield stocks with the inclusion of Darcy Chirgwin amongst at least four changes. It means the Devils’ bottom-aged midfield fleet of Oliver Davis, Sam Collins, and Will Harper will have to carry a heavy load against the likes of Sandringham top-age guns Chirgwin, Ryan Byrnes, and Miles Bergman. Tasmania’s key position posts will be bolstered though, with Jackson Callow and Oscar Shaw returning to slot in at either end and cover Sandringham’s tall threats. With the Dragons again looking themselves after a down few weeks, they would be confident of how they match up against Tasmania on paper. But the hosts were no pushovers for much of their clash against second-placed Gippsland in Round 14, and will be typically competitive on home turf.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday July 27, 11:30am
Shepley Oval

Gippsland Power poses as incredibly stiff opposition in the Dandenong Stingrays’ bid to break a streak of five-consecutive losses, with the two set to do battle at Shepley Oval on Saturday morning. The Stingrays will be buoyed by their ability to compete with Sandringham last week, going down by just seven points in enemy territory but slipping to eighth. While their ladder position remains safe regardless of results this week, they will hope to jostle back up the table to gain a better position come Wildcard Round. That cause was helped by the recent returns of the likes of Hayden Young, Sam De Koning, and Ned Cahill, with Dandenong now set to bring in some over-age strength this week as Jai Nanscawen and Corey Ellison slot into the 23. Gippsland’s Vic Country representatives have returned to NAB League action just as well though, with the Power just about back to full strength and adding some bottom-age talent in the form of Sam Berry and Nicholas Prowd this week. The Dandenong talls are some of the best in the competition and should match up well against those in the Gippsland ranks, but it is the Power’s engine room that looks most likely to rip the game apart with Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi in ripping form. Either way, expect a competitive tussle with top-end class suiting up for either side.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday July 27, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

The final rolls of the dice approach for Western as the Jets look to keep touch with the top three, set to face Murray this week with the Bushrangers all but set in ninth place coming into their final two fixtures. After a bye, the pointy-end competition has caught up to the Jets and knocked them out of a top-four position, but they will boast a near full-strength side as they consistently have throughout the year. Vic Metro representatives Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka are in at either end, with over-agers Will Kennedy, Aaron Clarke, and Daly Andrews consolidating the side’s key position strength and midfield depth. Despite a loss last week, Murray has also benefitted from the return of some top-end talent, and welcome over-agers Liam Fiore, Will Christie and Zane Barzen back into the lineup to help deal with Western’s aerial prowess after Young Guns outings. At ground level, bottom-age jet Elijah Hollands is a big out for the Bushrangers among eight changes, but the versatility of some of their mid-sized prospects will put them in good stead to plug any holes. While they have been a touch down this year given their talent on paper, the Bushrangers have won three of their last five outings and should compete well with their higher-ranked opponent this week.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday July 27, 2:30pm
Preston City Oval

A fifth-consecutive win is up for grabs for the Northern Knights as they play host to Bendigo Pioneers in a rare fixture at Preston City Oval in Saturday’s final game. The Knights have been on a tear of late, enjoying a rich vein of form with much of its representative talent running back through the NAB League 23. Their charge will be hampered somewhat by injuries to small defenders Lachie Potter and Ewan Macpherson, but the Knights are set to regain the likes of Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner among at least 10 changes this week. Josh D’Intinosante is also hot off 10 goals in his last two outings, headlining some of the moving parts in the flexible Northern squad. On the other hand, Bendigo looks to steadily be regaining form, getting up in two of its last four tries and being competitive in each. Their Round 15 side has undergone far less changes (four), with the important top-age half-back/midfield core of Ben Worme, Brady Rowles, and James Schischka all finding solid consistency. The Pioneers look flexible in their key position department too, with the likes of Braydon Vaz, Will Wallace, and Josh Treacy all able to impact up either end. Expect to see some players shuffled around throughout the game, as coaches on both sides look to find a winning combination in the lead up to Wildcard Round.

GWV REBELS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 28, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) will be looking to grab just its second win at MARS Stadium in 2019 when it hosts the Calder Cannons in Sunday’s only fixture. Despite the strength of the much-improved Cannons, this firms as the Rebels’ best chance to again win at home as they come in off a two-game win streak. Calder has gone one-better of late to have won three-straight and five of its last six games to sit within striking distance of the top three despite boasting a lower percentage. Youth is the theme for this game, with Under 16 Vic Metro representatives Josh Goater, Jack Newitt, and Zac Taylor all named to make their debuts, while PEGS quartet Harrison Jones, Campbell Edwardes, Cody Brand, and Harrison Minton-Connell make way as huge outs. The Rebels look primed to pounce, with over-agers James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd slotting straight back into the line-up to add some experience and depth on whichever line they are required. While ladder position suggests the sides aren’t so evenly matched, form and a changes on either end have levelled the ledger to make this clash an interesting one.

NAB League Boys Round 11 preview: Top four set for a shake up in Futures Round

AFTER a week off, the NAB League Boys top four set-up is set for a shake-up this weekend. A top of the table clash headlines the action, while the Gippsland Power face a tough task in holding onto fourth as Western and Oakleigh hunt their spot. A Mars Stadium double-header leads the five Country-based Saturday games, with Eastern hosting Sunday’s only fixture at Box Hill. This weekend also marks the first Futures Round, where teams are required to field at least 11 sixteen-seventeen year olds and squads are expanded to 24 players.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday June 22, 11:00am
Twin Oval, Kingston

The slightly replenished Tasmania Devils are set to host a Northern Knights side without all of their Vic Metro squad members, as both look to crack into the top eight with a win. The tenth-place, 4-5 Devils have been ultra competitive in their first full-time NAB League season, but struggled last time out against Murray with a host of stars instead suiting up for the Allies in their first outing for the year. This game is the first of five home games for Tasmania over the last six rounds, and with Northern missing as host of big names, could act as a chance to get on a roll. The inclusions of bottom-age Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins should inject some class into the middle and off half-back respectively, but the in-form Matt McGuinness and his fellow over-ager Lachlan Gadomski come out of the side to accomodate the Futures requirements. Meanwhile, the Knights will once again be without Adam Carafa as he slots back into the Metro side, joined by rangy bottom-age utility Nikolas Cox as key outs. A host of bottom-agers also replace the likes of Nathan Howard, Bailey Leonard and Ben Nikolovski, who have been key figures in the team this year. It will be a tough test for the Knights as they look to build on their Round 10 win, with the top-age talent of Sam Philp, Jackson Davies and Josh D’Intinosante on each line crucial to their chances. Expect a slog down on the Apple Isle to open the round.

 

GWV REBELS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday June 22, 11:30am
Mars Stadium

A top four spot could be on the horizon for Western Jets should they get over the GWV Rebels in enemy territory and have results go their way. They travel to Ballarat with high hopes of claiming a fourth consecutive victory, as their weekend opponents are coming off a goalless trumping at the hands of Eastern. Still, the Rebels should be buoyed by the inclusions of a couple of in-form Country representatives as they search for just their third win of the year, and their first at Mars Stadium. Over-ager Matty Lloyd comes out of the side, but Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony should cover the gap left in the midfield/forward rotation two-fold after promising national carnival outings. Meanwhile, the in-form Jets lose some tall timber in the form of Metro inclusion Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke, but gain some midfield depth as Josh Honey and Daly Andrews make their NAB League returns. The likes of Lucas Rocci down back and over-age tall Will Kennedy have shown form of late for the Jets, while Jack Tillig and Riley Polkinghorne have stood tall in a depleted Rebels line-up. Form may show otherwise, but the home side will be looking to really test the Jets, but Western have a lot to play for as they hope to keep pace with the top four.

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday June 22, 1:30pm
Shepley Oval

The Dandenong Stingrays will be looking to get right back onto the winners list as they host Murray Bushrangers at Shepley Oval on Saturday afternoon. A loss could remarkably see the Stingrays dislodged from the top four – barring a draw in the Gippsland-Oakleigh clash – after going undefeated across their first seven games. The raft of changes finally caught up with them last time out, and they are set to face a few more in the lead up to this game. Country representatives Sam De Koning and Lachlan Williams are welcome additions, but the depth of Luca Goonan, Corey Ellison, and Jai Nanscawen that had helped to keep the Stingrays in the hunt with their stars out are all exclusions in this week’s 24. On the other hand, Murray is set to benefit greatly from Country’s bye, regaining skipper Lachlan Ash alongside versatile midfielder Cam Wild and Allies representative, Will Chandler. Ash should add a ton of class to the back six, working in tandem with the in-form Jimmy Boyer and perhaps even freeing up Jye Chalcraft to go forward should he be moved into the middle. A disappointing start to the year is something the Bushrangers look to be putting behind them after their last outing, with the top eight still well within reach at just four points away. Beating Dandenong has proved a difficult job over the last two seasons though, and the reigning premiers should be keen to bounce back after a rare loss.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday June 22, 2:00pm
Morwell Football Ground

Oakleigh Chargers can throw a spanner in the top four works and snatch Gippsland Power’s spot in one fell swoop with a win as the two do battle in Morwell on Saturday. The Chargers look to be back to their usual selves on the back of four-straight wins, with their last two coming by a combined 126 points. Their depth has been well and truly tested during the middle part of the season and just as they look to be adapting well, they are set to contend with at least another 14 changes from their Round 10 side. Representative action calls for Jeromy Lucas and Will Phillips, while Futures round sees over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney out and school football sees last round’s five-goal hero, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan also out of the side. On the other hand, the Power should benefit greatly from a Vic Country bye – regaining the likes of Harrison Pepper, Ryan Sparkes, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben to add enormous strength and class to each line. Gippsland will look to overpower an Oakleigh midfield led by usual wingman Josh May and bottom-age gun Lochlan Jenkins, and should have some capable aerial cover in defence with Smith back. You can never rule Oakleigh out – especially given recent form – but Gippsland looks a formidable opponent for any side this week.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday June 22, 2:00pm
Mars Stadium

Two sides desperate for a win are set to clash in Saturday’s final fixture, as Bendigo looks to do the season double over Geelong at Mars Stadium. The Pioneers are reeling on the back of six-straight losses, but impressively beat the Falcons in Round 1 in their first of two wins to open the season. On the other hand, Geelong has been massively unlucky to find themselves at 1-7-1, fading out late in a number of games to surrender winning positions and remain the lowest-ranked Victorian side. The largely inexperienced Falcons side has shown promise though, and Futures round should provide the perfect platform for their younger talent to shine through once again. Noah Gribble, Charlie Brauer, and Henry Walsh are three notable bottom-age ins, with holes left by Charlie Sprague, Charlie Lazzaro, and Noah Gadsby. The Bendigo team looks near full strength barring the absence of their two top-end stars, with the likes of top-agers Ben Worme, Brady Rowles, and James Schischka all important figures with plenty of ball winning ability. This should be a cracking contest as two Country sides in varying bouts of form put it all on the line, and the prevalence of Bendigo’s top-agers could prove a key factor in deciding the outcome.

 

EASTERN RANGES vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Sunday June 23, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

A top-of-the-table clash closes Round 11 in Sunday’s only fixture, as Eastern Ranges and Sandringham Dragons go head to head for the second time this year. In their first meeting, current ladder leaders Eastern got the better of the Dragons away from home in a low-scoring tussle, and may even come in as favourites for this bout. The Dragons will be impacted once again by at least 15 changes, but have a couple of more than handy ins. Ryan Byrnes and Darcy Chirgwin will slot straight back into the midfield in their returns from injury, adding strength and class to the engine room mix with Angus Hanrahan and Jake Bowey going the other way. They should have an interesting time combating ball-winning Eastern pair Lachlan Stapleton and Zak Pretty in what will be a hotly contested midfield duel. Both sides lose stocks in the ruck department as Riley Smith is set to miss for the Ranges, while Riley Bowman and Andrew Courtney also come out of the Sandringham side. A swap of Metro representative talls from either end is also a feature of Eastern’s changed, with James Ross a handy addition as Jack Bell comes in for the Dragons. With big contests set to take place on each line, expect a high-quality contest as both sides throw everything at a result and the chance to claim top spot.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 8

A TRULY mixed bag of NAB League results in Round 8 saw some teams play above their level and match their more fancied opponents. Plenty of players shone across the weekend, and we cast eyes on each game to provide you with notes on players selected in initial representative squads. Each note is the opinion of the individual author.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

It was a typical Lachie Potter game, with the Knights top-ager driving forward well off half-back. Mopping up the loose ball in defensive 50 at speed, Potter constantly looked to round his nearest opponents and boot his side forward with long kicks. While his pace is a clear strength, it worked against him at times as he tried to properly grasp the ball in the back half and fumbled early on. When he did manage to get his hands on it though, Potter often made his Oakleigh opposition look silly as he repeatedly took them and the game on. Could look to lower his eyes more often, with his kicking accuracy compromised as he blazed away, but you wouldn’t want to thwart the instincts of such a natural player.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was not a massive game from D’Intinosante, but his work rate inside forward 50 and at the coalface in midfield was outstanding. ‘JD’ dug in with repeat efforts and was constantly on the move at stoppages, while also leading smartly when starting forward to be hit up inside 50. His kicking lacks a touch of penetration at times, and D’Intinosante looked wary of that as he looked to find targets closer to goal when others may have had a shot around the arc. While his disposal efficiency was compromised by the amount of contested ball he earned, D’Intinosante usually made good decisions when given time and showed his goal sense despite not finding a major. Took a good overhead mark going back with the flight during the third term, and is certainly a trier.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Playing mostly through the midfield, Gardner was reasonably quiet through the middle stages of the game, but was impactful in a tight final term. Gardner popped up with a couple of nice running clearances and balls inside 50, with one ending in a missed shot on goal. While he could not quite drag his side over the line, Gardner’s work at the forward-half stoppages was great to watch in the final 25 minutes, and showed plenty of the promise we saw in his bottom-age year. Was clean at ground level and bided his time well in traffic, while also cashing in with a goal from a 50-metre penalty in the third term.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess is as reliable as they come, constantly providing an outlet option in the back half and positioning himself well to intercept. Those traits boded well for his role of sweeping up across half-back, with his efficient kicking also ensuring he was trusted with kick-in duties. Took on a slightly different role in the second half as Oakleigh threw co-captain Dylan Williams forward, with Sturgess the obvious match-up for him. While Williams would boot two crucial goals and trouble Sturgess with his athleticism, the Knights defender was unlucky to concede one of them with a free kick as the two tussled one-out. Was unlucky as Williams assisted another goal too, with Sturgess left to mark two Chargers players inside 50, and coming off his man to very nearly stop the move altogether. Not a bad outing, and continues to be one of Northern’s most consistent.

#13 Sam Philp

Philp was the standout Knight on the day and is an absolute bull in the midfield. The contested-ball machine won most of his 28 possessions himself, and pushed his side forward with nine clearances. Did well to get involved outside of the stoppages at both ends when running through midfield, and accumulated nicely across the day. Would spend time forward in the second and third terms, but found the goals with a clutch set shot conversion in the fourth quarter after moving back into the middle. Looks increasingly composed on the ball, but can sharpen up his kicking.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

By no means a huge accumulator, but Macpherson looks a tidy player. Has found his spot in the back six now after a slow start to the season and is usually a neat user, finding a good amount of ball at ground level. Positions well in defence and as a smaller player, is starting to pressure more. Looks a different type of player to his brother, Darcy, and is starting to adapt.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was down on his usual numbers, and struggled to break through with the run and carry we have come to expect from midfield. Still by no means had a bad game, winning 17 disposals and having 10 tackles to show his work rate at the stoppages. The Oakleigh co-captain almost found the goals with a snap and set shot attempt, but also spent some time on the outer of the arc as Oakleigh looked to lock it in. Was employed off half-back at times too as he hoped to find more space, and provided his usual rebound from there.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

The GWS Academy product accumulated well throughout the game, and started brightly with a sharp kick forward as he carved a run through midfield. Lucas moved onto the wing as Oakleigh looked for more outside run, but he looked to be a bit down on confidence after missing a few kicks and being caught holding the ball. Lucas went to ground on occasion with opponents nipping at his heels, but still managed to find the ball and looked better with his disposal by hand. Has the potential to provide more damaging kicks, as showcased by another neat find going inside 50 during the final term, but he was a touch inconsistent in that area on the day. A solid outing.

#23 Dylan Williams

The Oakleigh co-captain proved a match-winner as he moved forward in the second half, and always makes defenders wary of his presence. Starting off half-back as he increasingly does, Williams showed his smarts with some good positioning to intercept a couple of errand Northern kicks forward. Williams was provided with plenty of instruction when he came to the bench and is clearly still adapting to the new role, with his clear skill and smoothness on the ball carrying him through. He is so effective one-on-one and creative forward of centre, so it was no surprise that he made an immediate impact when moved forward. Almost created a goal with a beautifully weighted left-foot kick inside 50, but later found the first goal of the final term as he marked on the behind line. Got out the back smartly to provide Thomas Graham with a goal, while garnering enough attention from his direct opponent to win a free kick and boot the deciding six points half-way through the last quarter. So obviously talented, and almost impossible to stop one-out inside forward 50.

#27 Josh May

May was a constant on the wing for Oakleigh, proving most effective by hand in tight situations and driving forward well by foot. Was involved early and stood out with his ability to keep his hands free in tackles, also keeping his feet and flicking the ball out to runners. Laid a nice holding the ball tackle on defensive wing and kicked beautifully inside 50 to Spiros Sklavenitis to cap off a solid first term. While he was a touch quieter in the middle-stages, May came back into the game with another long find going inside 50, and a solid one-on-one mark on the wing to finish off.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Joe Lee

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The silky left footer was reasonably quiet, held to 15 touches. Was in and out of the game but was able to manage 12 kicks and used his disposal effectively. Works hard both ways but was rather subdued by Sandringham’s dominant midfield engine room.

#11 Aaron Gundry

The ruckman finished with 13 disposals and 22 hit-outs, capping off a trying day. Worked hard when thrown both forward and back, the mobile big man moved well around the ground and fought hard against Sandringham’s duel ruck rotation.

#20 James Schischka

The intercepting defender worked tirelessly all day, even managing a goal from his 14-disposal, five-mark effort. Took a nice intercept mark playing as a loose man in the third quarter but was otherwise reasonably quiet for the most part. His highlight of the day was when he intercepted a sloppy kick from Tyson Milne in the goal square, nailing an easy goal to put Bendigo up deep into the final quarter.

#21 Riley Wilson

Playing up forward, Wilson had one play in the dying stages of the fourth quarter where he tackled which resulted in a free kick in the Bendigo back half, setting up the play for a Pioneers goal. Finishing with 23 touches, six tackles and six rebounds, Wilson was a clear standout for the Pioneers, working tirelessly against a strong opposition midfield.

#59 Riley Clarke

The electric forward only had six touches for the day but was a dangerous avenue to goal. Ended up kicking two goals, and Clarke did a number of show-stopping things, including plucking a brilliant one-handed mark on the run. Sprayed a couple of shots on goal but his marking was solid, including taking a hotly contested lead-up effort and converting the set shot from about 40m out. Does drift in and out of games but his sticky hands when marking makes him a threatening proposition for opposition clubs to curtail.

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes was sensational for the Dragons, bursting away from stoppages all day and dominating in the contest. Finished with 31 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal. Was let down by a few inside 50 entries that were gifted to the opposition but was overall outstanding from the first siren. Had a five-disposal chain of play in the third quarter and got on the end of some Miles Bergman brilliance in the fourth, taking a nice mark in the goal square and converting. His consistent performances have been key for Sandringham, standing up in the absence of his usual midfield mates. Byrnes could not have done much more for the Dragons.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman could have possibly had a huge game had he made the most of his ample opportunities in front of goal. The hard-working midfielder slotted an inaccurate 1.5 but made up for this with his work around the ground, recording 19 disposals to go with nine tackles and six inside 50s. Bergman’s offensive and defensive traits were on display all game, including a fantastic run down tackle effort in the second quarter, showcasing his elite closing speed and desperation. Was played out of the goal square and won most of his one on ones, providing a headache for Bendigo defenders. Almost kicked a Paddy Dangerfield type goal in the fourth quarter, breaking away from the centre at pace, taking a bounce and driving it long to the square where the Dragons eventually goaled. Followed it up later with a delightful snap around the body to finish off a good passage of play from the Dragons. Played a monster final quarter when the game was on the line.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Hanrahan continued his strong form into Echuca, recording 26 touches and six marks. In a game where space was hard to find, Hanrahan managed to show his good breakaway speed out of stoppages and showcased his athleticism and agility. Wasn’t as attacking with his use as he has been and failed to hit the scoreboard but played more of a midfield role. His clean disposal stood out and he started the game off strongly. Is often unmanned at stoppages and positions himself as an attacking option, often picking up the loose ball and driving it forward.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruck duties with Andrew Courtney for the majority of the game, and Bowman again impressed with his work around the ground, finishing with two goals from 14 touches. Was one of the Dragons’ best and displayed his capacity to perform in all aspects of the game, with four tackles, four marks and 19 hit-outs to go with his work up forward. Spilled a simple chance late in the last quarter but followed it up with a tackle that he won a free for, converting the straight-forward shot. Used the ball well by foot and makes his presence felt both in the air and on the ground.

#30 Andrew Courtney

The athletic ruckman was used more around the middle of the ground rather than being plugged at either end, amassing 29 hit outs and nine disposals. Courtney was serviceable for the Dragons but doesn’t do as much around the ground, as evidenced when he found space to run and carry in the second quarter but instead opted to blaze away and cough the ball up. Can also work on using his big frame more effectively to outmuscle smaller opponents and could be more aggressive to show his physical presence.

#32 Jack Bell

The tall forward finished with only one goal from three shots but showed he can be a damaging proposition, with his vertical leap and strong hands enabling him to obtain six marks from 10 disposals. Pinch-hit in the ruck as well, and Bell’s solitary goal came from a well-timed lead to a good area where he was hit on the chest by Jack Bowey, nailing the set shot from 40m out.

#33 Corey Watts

The lock down key defender was outstanding for the Dragons, with his defensive work rate and intercept marking on show all day. Watts had one terrific defensive effort in the third quarter, running off his man to pick up the ball and rebound 50, hitting his teammate lace out on the wing. Finished with 12 touches and three marks, Watts showed he’s more than a negating player, with his offensive attributes being utilised to push Sandringham forward from siren to siren.

#43 Jake Bowey

The zippy wingman worked up and down the ground, registering 17 touches, four inside 50s and five marks. Copped a big elbow to the neck region in the second quarter and had to be assisted off but finished the game to play a strong role in Sandringham’s victory. Always uses the ball well by foot and plays the percentages well. Really lifted in the last quarter, putting his small frame on the line but also providing a strong outlet for defenders, often breaking into space on the wing and providing an option.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

Kelly started in the ruck and was constantly involved. He also spent plenty of time up forward where he proved to be very difficult to stop, especially in the air. Kelly took several strong, contested marks which resulted in two goals for his team. He showcased his reach, athleticism and sticky hands throughout the match. He ended up with 13 disposals, 15 hitouts, five marks, and two goals.

#5 Cam Wild

Wild was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day. He found plenty of the pill and never faded out of the contest. He had a few fumbles early on, but he was still able to move the ball forward. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he took a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball. Wild had a team-high 27 disposals, along with seven marks and a goal.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen was able to hit the scoreboard early, with a fantastic left foot snap in the first quarter. He would then fade in and out of the game throughout the next three quarters. He was very good in patches and his ball use moving forward caught the eye.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft did not have the biggest game possession wise, finishing with just 13 disposals. But the majority of his touches were very effective and had an impact on the game. His cleanliness at ground level and vision around the contest was noticeable. Chalcraft had an influence defensively, laying a game-high seven tackles.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Boyer was relatively quiet, accumulating 16 disposals (15 kicks). He spent time through the Bushrangers midfield and across half-back. His ball use was generally good, but he did miss targets on occasions. An okay game from the talented midfielder.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was prolific around stoppages, winning a lot of his possessions on the inside of the contest. He also won plenty of the ball on the outside, where he used the ball effectively by foot. Mott ended up with a game-high 29 disposals and one goal.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Playing on the wing, Ramsay was involved early and was able to hit the scoreboard in the first term after crumbing a marking contest to perfection. His kicking skills were top notch and he always ran hard into open space, where he would make himself a good option for his teammates. Ramsay kicked his second goal of the day in the third term when he ran into an open goal, giving the Cannons a 40-point lead. He had the chance to kick another goal moments later, but his shot on goal hit the woodwork. Ramsay collected 17 disposals and kicked two goals.

#30 Josh Kemp

Kemp started well, laying a really strong tackle on his opponent that resulted in a free-kick and shot goal on goal, which he converted successfully. He was able to hit the scoreboard again in the second term after taking a good grab inside 50. Kemp also laid some impressive tackles on the day.

#38 Brodie Newman

The general down back was very solid offensively and was just as good defensively. He had 24 disposals (16 kicks) and continually used his powerful leg to drive the ball out of the back half. Newman was the perfect player to have the ball in hand because of his clean skills and decision-making. A solid all-around game.

Geelong Falcons vs. Western Jets
By: Taylah Melki

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

Won plenty of the footy and was clever with ball in hand. He used his body well to win possession and went in hard time and time again. Good strong hands and read the flight of the ball well. Give it and go mentality and runs hard to create space for the Falcons. Good evasive skills to sidestep an opponent and then dispose of the ball to a teammate further afield.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Clever kick and good spatial awareness to push the ball forward and create a scoring opportunity for his teammate. Missed a shot at goal after rushing the kick but he had more time than he expected. He consistently tried hard to win the ball and create pressure in the Falcons attacking 50 to give his side scoring chances. Harassed his opponent both at ground level and in the air making him work for each possession. Sprague showcased good football smarts to hit up teammates on the lead in the attacking 50 with well weighted kicks and won plenty of the footy getting into clever positions across the ground.

#37 Oliver Henry

Henry got into good damaging positions but was unable to convert in front of goals slotting three behinds for the afternoon. He had good hands under pressure to take some strong marks. Good lead up at the footy and clever leading patterns able to take the mark under pressure. He applied good defensive pressure in the last term to worry his opponent out of the kick and cause him to turn the ball over in the Falcons forward 50.

#40 Jesse Clark

Good strength around the contest and was able to stand up in the tackle and keep his arms free in the third term. He was involved in the play and worked hard to win the ball in and around the contest. Reads the play well and has quick hands to move the ball out of congestion and into space. Good body work to take a nice grab, shake off his opponent and then go for a run but was unable to convert in the last term only registering a point.

Western Jets:

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was impressive throughout the game with his quick hands and worked hard at the stoppages to win the ball and dish it out to teammates. Used the ball well with a clean pick up to turn and then kick the ball inside the Jets attacking 50. Took plenty of strong grabs and showcased his ability to read the flight of the ball and get into the right positions across the ground. He did a wealth of work across the ground winning the ball from half back and then pushing forward to create options in the forward half. He showcased some good dash to break away from the pack and go for a run along the boundary line to create some forward momentum for his side.

#20 Darcy Cassar

He won a truckload of the footy and was constantly involved in the contest across the ground. Cassar worked hard to impact every play and ensure he was an option. Good sidestep to get around his opponents and ran hard to create space across the ground. Clean at ground level and used the ball well with majority of his possessions kicks. He was important across the back half running the ball out of defence time and time again. He showcased his strength to stand up in a tackle and still get rid of the ball to a teammate. He was classy with ball in hand and tackled hard to win the ball back for the Jets credit.

#24 Josh Honey

Good attacking play to keep the ball moving, used his quick hands and good vision to pass the footy off to an opponent streaming by in better position. Clever back up play to help out his teammates and provide running support. Honey applied good strong physical pressure laying some crunching tackles with a big tackle in the third term to win a holding the ball call. Clever goal in the third term to pick the ball up cleanly and then stream into an open goal square and kick it straight through the middle.

#47 Will Kennedy 

Good turn of speed on the lead to accelerate away from his opponent and take the mark in the forward 50 but did not score on that opportunity. Kennedy did a wealth of work moving between a variety of positions and covering the ground well to impact the play. Good body work to win the ball in the ruck against a bigger bodied opponent. His ground work and follow up efforts were impressive, tracking the ball well at ground level and winning plenty of the footy.

Tasmania Devils vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Ed Pascoe

Tasmania:

#1 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill had a quiet game by his standards and struggled to get any meaningful run or touches for a good portion of the game. The intent was there with his attack on the ball and the man, but was sometimes a bit overzealous with his tackling which resulted in a few frees against. It was not until the last quarter where he really started to turn the game, being swung forward and kicking two quick goals while looking very lively and dangerous whenever the ball went inside forward 50. O’Neill had a few nice kicks but a few poor ones as well throughout the day, but one kick was perfectly weighted to a teammate in the second quarter. O’Neill finished the game with 15 disposals, five tackles and two goals.

#3 Oliver Davis

Davis was a ball magnet through the midfield, winning it both at the contest and around the ground. His smarts with ball in hand was notable, very rarely missing a target and rarely taking the wrong option and a lot of his disposals came from knowing where the ball was going to be next whether that was roving a pack in defence or getting forward of centre in space to kick long inside 50. Davis finished the game with 33 disposals, seven marks and nine inside 50s in a best on ground performance where he couldn’t have done much more and certainly looked a mature player and leader despite not being eligible until the 2020 draft.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness was one of many solid performers down back for Tasmania he read the play well and had a good mix of defence and offence. He kicked a lovely goal on the run, running past a teammate who had marked inside 50 and that was just before the quarter time siren to give his team some momentum. The standout trait for McGuinness was obviously his kicking with his left foot hitting targets at will whether that was short or a big long 50m kick. He also intercepted well and was a calm head down back. McGuinness finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds and a goal in a well rounded performance down back.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young battled hard down back and was a strong contributor for Dandenong across the four quarters. He was strong in defence early with a strong tackle and his general attack on the ball was stellar. A feature of his game was his kicking where it was not only penetrating but long and dangerous often perfectly placed for the leading target. He was moved to into the midfield in the last quarter and attacked the ball well but it was his work down back that again stood out most taking a very strong intercept mark late in he quarter when the heat was on. Young finished the game with 19 disposals and four rebound 50s.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Riordan was a constant in the Dandenong engine room as a standout at the stoppages with his attack and clean hands at the contest. He hit the scoreboard early taking a nice intercept mark and kicking the set shot goal in the first quarter. His second and last quarters were his most productive and eye catching, and he showed some nice burst to evade a tackler in the second quarter and also worked hard behind the ball to help out his defenders and in the last quarter. He was pivotal at the stoppages winning some big clearances and eternally using the ball well. Riordan finished the game with 23 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning started the game forward and standing at 200cm was there to be a marking option but didn’t quite excel at the role. He did however get a nice front and square at a marking on test deep in the forward pocket – showing his clean hands and agility for a tall but was unfortunately taken in a good tackle. he got to pinch hit in the ruck in the first quarter and actually looked quite impressive with his leap and good taps. He was moved to defence rather quickly and showed his good rebound and clean ball use and he also did look more comfortable back there, he rarely fumbled at all and was very clean at ground level which is often an issue for players of his height. De Koning finished the game with eight disposals but rarely wasted his touches.

Gippsland Power vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a productive day at the office playing through the middle and pushing forward. Worked hard at the stoppages, showing clean hands at ground level and able to handball clear to free teammates on the outside. He had the smarts to draw a couple of players running the opposite direction and handballed over his head to a teammate who was free because of the move. He did not rush and assessed his options well throughout the day, and had two of the easier goals he will kick in his career, receiving a couple of handballs over opponents to him in the goal square – first from Riley Baldi in the opening term and Charlie Comben in the final term, to finish off his hard work in the middle with two majors.

#6 Riley Baldi

Just gets to the right positions and finds a truckload of the ball. His vision and work rate is very high, but his execution by foot can let him down at times. A couple of early inside 50s were swallowed up by opposition defenders just because they went to the wrong side of the one-on-one contest. His field kicking through midfield was better as he used his vision to see free opponents streaming down the middle and used it to open the game up. Set up a goal to Sam Flanders and another to Josh Smith, while having a funny moment where he put his hand up for the ruck stoppage despite Smith being there. Baldi read the ball of ruck hands well throughout the game.

#10 Leo Connolly

A slick mover, Connolly was impressive in patches throughout the game, particularly moving forward in transition. He was able to spin out of trouble early in the game and handball free, something he did a number of times, using a neat sidestep to create his own space in close. He laid some good tackles and had a long shot on goal which just fell short and rushed across the line in the second term. Found space in the last quarter and marked from a short Charlie Comben kick and put it straight through the middle from 45m out.

#12 Brock Smith

Did not have the prolific numbers of past weeks, but did not need to given the lack of entries inside the defensive 50 at times. Such was Gippsland’s dominance in the first half, Smith often pushed up the ground and worked well to add an extra number to the contest, handballing with teammates to get the ball moving in transition. When in defence he settled down the side and used the ball well under pressure to gain distance up the field. Took a very good mark one-on-one against Mitch Martin in the goal square to save a certain goal, and even when he lost front position in a marking contest managed to win the ball with great second efforts. Did all he could deep in defence.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Did well on the outside working hard up the wing, but also went in to win some hard balls at ground level, clean with his hands to spin out of trouble whilst under pressure to handball to a teammate. He just burrows in at ground level and wins his own footy, then can spread to the outside and provide an option. Had a good fend-off in defence to get the ball free to a teammate by hands.

#16 Josh Smith

A big game from Smith who while he did not see much of it in the final term, had a massive first three quarters and was close to best on ground. He provided a presence with his marking ability and lead out strongly, taking the ball out in front, but also worked hard with his second efforts to make a contest at ground level. Smith finished with three goals, booting one from a mark early, and two from snaps, including his second after dropping a mark he should have taken, grabbing the ball and putting it through off a couple of steps. Had a chance for his fourth from long range which was on target, but was rushed across on the line. Laid tackles and bumps for his teammates, while sharing the ruck load when not inside 50.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips continued his good form this season, creating a number of chances inside 50 and booting a couple of goals. Had an outside of the boot kick to Josh Smith in the opening term, with Smith converting the opportunity, then had his own chance but drifted to the right. Kicked his first from a snap, then missed another chance this time to the left. Had some hit and miss passes by foot at times trying to keep the ball low, but worked hard pushing up to the wing, and even won a possession in the defensive 50. Laid a great tackle on the wing to show off his defensive capability and then kicked the perfect set shot in the third term after winning a free kick from being thrown to the ground. Had another couple of chances in the fourth term when he had a long shot from just inside 50 which was touched on the line, then attempted a dribble goal under pressure but bounced the wrong side of the post.

#22 Zach Reid

Used the ball well in defence and was strong overhead, seemed to move well around the ground but at times was a tad slow to react and was tackled a couple of times, forcing him to rush his disposal. Reid showed off a nice long, technically sound kick and showed good body work on his opponent one-on-one deep in defence.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Had a few nice plays when up the ground, providing a stronger body at stoppages, winning the ball in the middle and putting it into dangerous positions which yielded a goal in the second term. He was quick to dispose of the ball when winning it on the inside, and spot up a free teammate on the wing. Had a nice run in the third term, fending off an opponent and charge inside 50 but his low kick just missed its target.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony had some nice plays throughout the game, not winning heaps of the ball, but still showing off some quick hands at stoppages. He had a smart movement in the first half, winning the ball at ground level, rolling over, getting his hands free and handballing to a teammate. Mahony won a free kick in the third term for being infringed in a marking contest but his shot from 40m drifted to the right. He had a great clearance and kick out of the middle in the final term as well.

#4 Jed Hill

Played through the midfield and up forward, taking a sliding mark inside 50, then having a long range shot but it fell short and was intercepted in the goal square. He laid a great tackle deep in attack in the second term, and was more prominent through the stoppages, then kicked long inside 50 to Matty Lloyd’s advantage – though he could not capitalise with the mark – after Hill’s opponent fell over just outside 50. He had a unique attempt on goal in the third term kicking it off the ground, but it went across the other side to the pocket and just stayed in for a throw-in.

#7 Mitch Martin

Showed good tackling pressure early in the game and was able to extract the ball from tight situations. Did not win a heap of the footy on the day, but was able to find space inside 50, taking a mark and then having a set shot after the siren in the first term which went to the right. Had a quieter second half, but took a good mark inside defensive 50 under pressure.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a nice play on the wing at one stage where he fended off an opponent, handed it off, received the ball back then kick low into a sliding Jed Hill inside 50 in the opening term, and had a chance on goal in the second when he kicked long, received the handball back, had a long-range shot but it went to the right. Had another shot on goal with a snap but missed. Another player who was okay without standing out.

#13 Jay Rantall

Rantall’s big ball-winning streak continued on the weekend with another 30-odd touches and he just keeps running. A massive endurance base, Rantall often wins the ball in tight and handballs out to a free player, while also laying some good tackles. He was not afforded the space he often can get during games, but still played his role in the midfield and was a key player in the Rebels’ better second half. His kicking is hit and miss, but his goal sense is still good, kicking a long-range goal from free play 50m out late in the final term. He had a snap just earlier but was smothered off the boot. His quick hands from congestion to the outside is a highlight.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 7

WITH NAB League proceedings back to the norm, performances were even across the board, but a few players managed stand out in a mixed bag of results. Our scouts cast eyes across all six games in Round 7, and here are their opinion-based notes on players included in the initial Victoria Country and Metro squads, as well as those pointed out by respective talent managers.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

The bottom-ager had a solid game playing along the wing and winning the ball on the outside. At half-back he had a clean turn and spin, grabbing it off one touch and despite finding himself under pressure, spun out and gave off the clean hands to a teammate running forward. He affected a Will Chandler kick inside 50 with good pressure forcing him to rush, while mostly ran hard on the outside and used the ball well while doing the defensive things right.

#37 Oliver Henry

A great finisher around goal who works really hard up the ground. He goes on long searching leads and often can win the ball in midfield or even at half-back, before running hard forward doubling back on his opponent to create an outnumber forward of centre. He is strong overhead and is good on the lead, and had a great moment in the opening term, faking a step on the right to kick on the left in board to Tom Richardson leading out. He was a little ambitious at one stage in the third term, crashing through multiple players before getting caught, but finished the term with a soccer off the ground after pushing hard then doubling back once the ball went over his head. Took a great mark late in the game and kicked an easy consolation goal, finishing the match with three majors and strapping across his face from a blood nose.

#40 Jesse Clark

Not as prolific as his usual self, Clark was playing defensive roles on his opponents, spending time on players such as Zane Barzen in defence. He swallowed up anything that came his way, but the Bushrangers made a conscious effort to avoid him where possible given his prolific rebounding skills. He still managed to provide rebound out of defence and was strong overhead, just did not get it on a silver platter as much with the Bushrangers smarter kicking inside 50.

#46 Henry Walsh

Did not win much of the footy, but still competed in the ruck. Was beaten by the more experienced Ben Kelly, but applied good defensive pressure at ground level. Laid some strong tackles following up from his hitouts to nullify the ball at stoppages and had an impressive clearing punch at one stage in the third term at half-back.

 

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

His form this season is arguably the best of any 19 year-old tall and that continued on the weekend against inexperienced rucks. He not only gets the hitouts, but follows up with clearances and tackles, and most importantly is able to take the game on without being a liability. He has a quick few steps and can sidestep opponents but does not overdo it, and uses hands to draw an opponent and handball clear to a teammate. Along with his above average athletic traits, Kelly was able to manhandle his opponent in the third term, throwing him out of the way, grabbing the loose ball and getting his hands free to pass to a teammate. His second efforts were exemplified in the final term when he dropped an intercept mark he should have taken, but quickly followed up cleaning it up and handballing quickly to a teammate.

#5 Cam Wild

Just a workhorse. Wild finds the ball with ease on the inside or outside and he wins a lot of his touches from outrunning his opponents. His pressure at ground level is very good and he finds space to receive the ball on the flanks. In one instance in the second term, Wild won the ball at half-back, got it to the wing, ran past multiple teammates looking for the handball, was ignored, kept running, crumbed a forward stoppage and kicked a running goal. His opponent from the original play just could not go with him and because he ran so far, disrupted the opposition set-ups. He gets separation on his opponents and is a solid user of the ball.

#6 Will Chandler

Played the role of leading forward and did it well. Set up a goal to Hudson Kaak early in the game, and kicked one of his own. Kept working up the ground and winning the ball then sending it inside 50. Almost kicked a second goal earlier in the game but snapped and missed because he was being dragged down.

#7 Zane Barzen

The overager played one of his best games for the year, leading out at the footy and creating some headaches for the opposition defence. Kicked a goal in the second term with a snap around his body, then kicked a second major from a free kick set shot 35m straight in front in the third term. Had a couple more shots in the fourth quarter but one went to the left and just missed and the other went out to the right and fell short. Was strong overhead though which was a promising sign.

#12 Lachlan Ash

The potential top five pick stood out in this game with his class and ball use by hand or foot. He took the game on when in defence, and in the second half spent time up forward and through the midfield. He has an ability to produce the unbelievable by foot, kicking across his body between opponents to hit up a teammate inboard and open up the corridor. Got a free kick for being infringed in a marking contest at one stage such was his impact in the air. Kicked a goal off the ground just before three quarter time, and narrowly missed a set shot which drifted to the right in the fourth term. Not as big statistical numbers as in the past, but played multiple roles rather than just his dominant half-back rebounding role.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Got better as the game went on and finished as one of the most prolific ball winners on the ground. You do not always notice his impact unless you are watching carefully because he fires out quick handballs to teammates while under pressure, able to work out time and space with good vision. Worked hard on the inside of the contest and then runs into space to provide an option. Did not have a heap of forward chances because of the inside work, which deserved a tick today.

 

Western Jets vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#3 Eddie Ford

The explosive bottom-ager has a good knack of getting involved up the ground from half-forward, and this game was no different as Ford worked hard to win 10 marks around the ground among his 20 disposals. He constantly looked to move the ball on, but Ford was often held up on the mark which saw him resort to handing off to runners or kicking short. While he called for the ball in odd areas at times in the defensive half, it only showed Ford’s want for the ball and his good work rate. Took a strong mark on the line against two Stingrays opponents to turn a certain behind into his first goal, while adding another in the final term to cap off a solid day. Is so clean overhead and below his knees, definitely one to watch going into 2020.

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was named the Jets’ best, and showed a greater contested output with almost 60 per cent of his 17 disposals won in the contest. Attending most of the centre bounces and stoppages across the day, Andrews won a handful of clearances and pushed Western forward as he usually does, pitching in with a classy goal after side-stepping Dandenong gun, Hayden Young. Andrews’ kicking was clearly impacted by his high contested ball rate, but he was much more productive by hand and flicked it out well to teammates in the clinches. Would be pushing for mid-season draft selection, but still has areas to improve on.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar assumed his usual role across half back, acting as a designated kicker on the rebound and accumulating the ball well across defensive 50. He affected the drop of the centre bounces when running in hard off the back flank, and often positioned himself a kick off the ball when it was further afield. Cassar looked a little unsure of whether to stick with his opponent or guard territory in those situations, but is clearly building into the new role. Was caught holding the ball in the first term, but that did not stop him from breaking the lines going forward and taking the game on as the Jets looked to stay in the game. Cassar is a natural player and also looks comfortable forward, but can sharpen his defensive acts – highlighted by his marking attempt from behind inside defensive 50, and his low tackle count. A solid outing, and finished with a game-high 29 disposals.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey was down on his usual output in this game, but came into it with a couple of neat touches. While he struggled to generate his usual running game, Honey’s presence came in the form of five clearances and some good defensive pressure throughout, which led to a Dandenong turnover early on. Honey also moved forward in the second half and while he showed promise with a nice mark inside 50, could not quite find the goals in his time there.

#47 Will Kennedy

The over-ager has shown good promise in the ruck after moving from Sandringham, and continues to improve in his work around the ground. As a slightly more mature body, Kennedy competes well in the ruck and won 22 hitouts, but impressed more with his work at the drop to find a good amount of the ball and lay some hard tackles. A particular highlight came in the first quarter where Kennedy followed up a dropped mark to effect a smother inside 50 and keep the ball in dispute.

 

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young was his usual self across half-back, racking up a team-high 27 disposals as well as an equal game-high seven rebound 50s and five inside 50s. Ever the damaging player, Young kicked 77 per cent of the time at 76 per cent efficiency, but fell short with a few lower-distance passes by foot. Young mopped up well in the defensive half, using his clean hands to gather at ground level and quickly dispose of the ball to good effect. Young was also given the freedom to push forward well in a high Dandenong press, and had to opportunity to hit the scoreboard with a set shot early on. A contribution we have come to expect, but still always impressive.

#10 Clayton Gay

The exciting bottom-ager mixed his time between a deep forward position and up on the wing, but looked most dangerous inside 50. Kept Cassar accountable in the forward half early on and even caught him holding the ball with a terrific tackle, while later contributing a major on the back of a contested mark in the goalsquare. Looked to take it on when playing up the field, and while he is not a high accumulator, always garners attention when on the ball. One to watch for next year.

#11 Ned Cahill

One who continues to rise in my eyes, Cahill returned another eye-catching display in this game. Positioned mostly inside 50, Cahill was isolated against his Western opponent and out-worked him to find space around goals – kicking two majors in dispute during the first quarter and another couple from set shots in the last. It proved good reward for effort given Cahill’s ability to find space, and he could well have finished with a couple more goals to make it a true day out. The way Cahill plays taller than his height would suggest makes him a versatile threat inside 50, and he is certainly one who will look to prove himself further in the National Championships.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Over-ager Riordan has built a good case to be picked up in the mid-season draft after an interrupted top-age year, and was damaging from stoppages around the ground in this outing. Riordan’s run from congestion was great to watch, with an explosive first five steps allowing him to break forward quickly and dispose of the ball effectively in more space, while also flicking out handballs well. Repeat efforts in-close helped him tally his 25 disposals, including five clearances, but Riordan also contributed well in handball chains – using his pace to good effect.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning switched roles in this game with fellow tall, Nyuon, trading his time between the forward line and ruck to prove his versatility and get a different look. He started one-out in the goalsquare, but caught the eye more with his leap in the ruck early on. Took a couple of handy marks leading up to the ball, but missed early chances on goal which he later rectified with a sole major. Looks to still be learning and refining all areas of his game, and has a good athletic base.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

Nyuon was thrown back, where he played a lot of football for the Stingrays last season. Opposed to man-mountain Aaron Clarke at times, the St Kilda NGA prospect was competitive in overhead contests and followed up well at ground level to provide calm use out of defensive 50. Made a nice run forward after a clean sweep of the ball on his defensive arc, getting it back at the opposite 50 to deliver inside. Can dominate games if he can continue to snap up big marks, but is still improving at both ends.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Was by no means a high accumulator, but Williams looked lively whenever he got on the ball. Moves forward so well from the wing and is an aggressive runner, which was encapsulated well by his second-quarter goal on the fly after a running bounce. Also took a nice overhead mark early on which caught the eye, and could have added another goal in the last term.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The bottom-ager was best-afield in a busy outing on the wing, earning him the Draft Central Player of the Week nod. While he was most influential in the first and last quarters, Conforti worked hard all day on the outside to provide a releasing option along the outer of Queen Elizabeth Oval, finding a heap of space time after time. Prepare for the inevitable Caleb Daniel comparisons, as the diminutive left footer oozes class with neat kicks and is hard at it in the contest with a low centre of gravity. He looks a much better kick on the run, using his vision and smarts to find targets others cannot – much like in the second term where he hit up James Schischka for a goal with a clever 90-degree kick. Impressed with a couple of overhead intercept marks in the final term, and finished off his day with a nice goal after sidestepping his opponent.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme started a little shakily but found his feet as the game wore on. He accumulated well, usually on the opposite wing to Conforti, and was smart in his positioning when the ball was set to come out of his side’s forward 50 – intercepting from two occasions, with one resulting in a missed shot on goal. Was let down somewhat by a combination of his decision making and execution, but had the right idea as he often looked to go inside with his kicks in particular. A solid outing.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka was a solid contributor, and looked a decent marking threat when played inside forward 50. On top of converting two set shot goals in his time forward, Schischka’s best moments came in traffic where he would often shrug off opponents and keep his head in crises with handballs out to receivers. Moved into the midfield late on, but found his second major after an impressive overhead mark in the goalsquare from a set shot which fell short, putting the Pioneers in front.

 

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

It was an indifferent display from Davis, who was a constant at the stoppages. While he tackled ferociously and was solid in the clinches, many of his kicks were hacked forward and he looked rushed in possession at times. One of his better kicks found Cohen Stephenson inside 50 to give him a set shot chance, and Davis even hit the scoreboard with a clutch free kick conversion to snatch back the lead in the final term. Can polish up areas of his game, but has a good physical base and finds the ball.

#13 Sam Collins

Played the role of sweeper in the back half well, mopping up cleanly and providing efficient rebound when given time. While many of his short kicks were effective, Collins was another who missed a couple on the back of acts under pressure – with one cross-goal ball almost leading to a turnover goal. Looked much better in space with handball receives, and certainly has potential.

#25 Jackson Callow

Arguably Tasmania’s leading bottom-age prospect, Callow mixed his time up forward and through the ruck, competing well in both areas. Almost made an ideal start when he won a contested ball at ground level deep inside 50, but dribbled to an opponent in the goalsquare. Callow’s lead up marking to the 50 and clunks overhead were a feature, with the big-man often wheeling around quickly to deliver forward. While he did not quite find the goals himself, a spearing ball to Jye Menzie gifted his side one, and Callow played an important overall role for the Devils.

#31 Jye Menzie

Menzie ended up being the hero of the day, converting a set shot after the siren to give Tasmania a miraculous win. While he was quiet early on, Menzie came into the game in the second term when he won a free kick one-out, putting through the resultant set shot. Booted another in the third quarter and crucially contributed two more in the final term, with a shimmy giving him his third and the game-winner his fourth. Finds space inside 50 well and looks most dangerous there, proving to be a clinical finisher when given the opportunity.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Northern Knights
By: Cameron Ross

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

Really like him. He is lightning quick and damaging off half back. Question marks over his kicking, but he is dangerous enough with the handball to be effective. Rebels clued onto how damaging he was when receiving handballs, and marked him tightly, but still was a positive influence on the game, and one of the best Knights on the day.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Copped a whack in the face in the second quarter, but it didn’t stop him. Very clean, and was really damaging across the half forward line where he was consistently hitting up leading forwards for scoring opportunities. Really smart player, who was rarely beaten at ground level and was crucial in the Knights’ second half dominance.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

The young defender was another who was very reliable all game, and even snuck forward for a long goal on the run in the final term. Seems to be a very nice size, and has enough pace that he could play on the smalls as well. I’m not sure if he had a direct opponent or not all game, as he seemed to easily find a lot of the ball.

 

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Kicked three nice goals, and was a presence in the air and around the all game. Took a really nice mark up forward, after floating in from the side and crashing the pack, and topping it off with a goal.

#8 James Cleaver

Very reliable down back, and I’m not sure he was beaten one on one all game. Took a couple of nice intercept marks, and limited McMahon to only the one major.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a couple of very flashy moments. Made a defender look foolish with clever side step, and drilled a shot at goal that just missed. Quiet through patches but others were quieter. Left the game late with a calf injury, hopefully cramp?

#13 Jay Rantall

Best player on the ground. Key in the Rebels moving the ball effectively out of the backline and midfield and one of the few players who wanted to take the game on and make the play instead of just kicking to a pack. His link up run and intelligent handballing were extremely impressive, and broke the game open. Good overhead, good below his knees, and hit most of his targets on the day. 10/10 game.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The zippy midfielder continued his strong form, finishing with a team-high 28 disposals and five inside 50s. Byrnes trademark explosive burst out of the stoppage was on show all day, easily manoeuvring his way past his Eastern opponents and driving the ball long inside 50. Used the ball well when others let themselves down in this department and never stopped trying. Byrnes looks a well-rounded prospect, who covers the ground well and is adept at winning the ball from the inside of the contest and utilising his speed to run and carry the ball. Overall was outstanding for the Dragons and was just about their best player.

#6 Miles Bergman

The big-bodied midfielder was solid for the Dragons, using his strength and frame to win the ball in the clinches. Had a quiet first half with only six touches but worked well into the game, finishing with 18 disposals, five marks, and a goal. Used the ball well and his first reaction to hit a target inside the corridor on show all day, with a number of his kicks hitting up a teammate in space. Worked hard all day and improved as the game got tighter.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Starting on the wing, the top—ager showcased his signature class and polish but also his two-way running in another strong performance. Finishing with 27 disposals and nine marks, perhaps the most telling stats for Hanrahan was his four rebounds and six inside 50s, highlighting a willingness to work both ways for the Dragons. Kicked a show-stopping goal on his opposite foot from the boundary and would’ve had a day out had he taken two opportunities running into the goals in the second and last quarters. Was a class above in the first half and was the leading disposal winner at the main break but drifted out early in the 4th when the game was in the balance. Sound performance from the wingman and is building a strong case to be selected in the mid-season/end of season draft.

#28 Riley Bowman

The athletic ruck-forward was solid for the dragons, amassing 18 hitouts to go with 15 disposals and three inside 50s. Had a quiet first quarter but lifted from then on, which included a chase down tackle in the Dragons forward 50 that resulted in a shot on goal. Moves well around the ground and hits the contest hard, both in the air and on the ground. Was sometimes out-muscled by the bigger Riley Smith in the ruck but overall probably had more influence on the game around the ground than his Eastern opponent.

#30 Andrew Courtney

Courtney had a solid day down back for the Dragons with a multitude of spoils and one—percenters that often halved or won 50-50 contests. Only had 8 disposals and was used around the ground with 11 hitouts in the ruck and a stint up forward, Courtney was thrown around the ground which may have hurt his impact. The 200cm prospect needs to improve his disposal numbers and could have more influence in the air if he got both hands to the ball rather than opting for the safety of a spoil. positions himself well in defence and engages his opponent early, using his strong frame to move them under the ball then bringing it to ground.

#32 Jack Bell

The ruck-forward was workmanlike for the Dragons, generating a goal from 13 disposals, eight hitouts, and seven marks. Had a strong first half before dropping away with only three disposals in the second half but the skinny prospect did some nice things, taking some strong contested marks. Often let himself down by playing on and being tackled and needs to work on being quicker with ball in hand, often taking too long to give off a handball or a kick. Was a good performance from the agile prospect.

#33 Corey Watts

The close-checking key defender was serviceable again for Sandringham, having more effect as the game wore on. Shows desperation in defense, often coming off his direct opponent to influence the contest but needs to do more, not having a touch in the first half. Finished with 11 disposals and four rebounds and showed he has the capabilities to become an aerial threat, taking two big pack marks late in the fourth quarter and driving the ball long out of the Dragons defense. if he can do this more consistently then Watts will become a stronger asset to the Dragons defense.

#43 Jake Bowey

The red-haired midfielder was productive for the Dragons, showcasing his elite speed and evasiveness across the whole game. Failed to hit the scoreboard but played predominantly on the wing, finishing with 23 disposals. Was often tackled and thrown around due to his small stature but did some eye-catching things, including leaping for a huge mark and following up to earn a free kick. Produces fantastic repeat efforts and has a large pressure factor. Is smart with ball in hand and uses it effectively on his left boot, the bottom-ager is one to watch out for.

 

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Stapleton was huge for the Ranges, winning 23 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal. Had the ball on a string for the second half and led the Rangers to victory, kicking a clutch goal in the third term from about 45 metres out on a tough angle and on the wrong side for a left footer. Works tirelessly on the inside and spreads hard on the outside. Didn’t put a foot wrong all day and was a huge reason for the Ranges win.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

The power forward was strong target all day for Eastern, clunking eight marks to go along with 15 disposals. Did not hit the scoreboard (one behind) and did cough up a few kicks inside 50 but tried hard and set up a Connor Downie goal that ended up being the match winner.

#17 Cody Hirst

The smart wingman ran hard all day, with most of his 31 disposals being won in the Eastern back half (six rebounds). The impressive midfielder possesses clean hands and skills, always finding a target by foot even when there seemingly is no option. On a day where most players opted to kick it long down the line or bomb it inside 50, Hirst’s clever ball use stood out. Covers the ground with ease and loves to take a bounce. Hirst had a huge last quarter and willed his team over the line.

#18 Billy McCormack

The mobile tall forward started the game strongly, kicking a goal off the ground after halving an aerial contest, bringing the ball to ground and beating two Dragons defenders. Has an accurate field kick and was a good lead up target out of defence and in attack. On a day where key forwards struggled McCormack was solid, rounding out his day with 1.2 from 12 disposals.

#20 Connor Downie

The smart bottom ager had his best game for the year, with his match-winning goal capping off a 25-disposal, seven-inside-50 and six-mark effort. Was consistently strong all day, combining with Hirst on the wing to provide rebound off the half back line and efficient use inside 50. Very clean under pressure and rarely fumbles, Downie ran hard all day and was a headache later in the piece for the Dragons, who struggled to contain Eastern’s outside midfielders.

#21 James Ross

The general in defence, Ross was prolific for the Rangers, intercepting multiple Dragons inside 50’s with his strong hands, and providing damaging rebound. Capped off a sound performance with 24 disposals, nine marks, and nine rebounds to be the best defender on the ground. Set up the Rangers defensive structures and was consistent throughout, often playing as the loose man. In the Rangers top few players.

#49 Riley Smith

The 199cm ruckman had a tough day. With the Dragons rotating Bell, Courtney, and Bowman in the middle, Smith shouldered the majority of the ruck duty for Eastern, capping off a strong performance with 10 disposals and 23 hitouts. Used his bigger and more developed frame to outmuscle opponents and the Eastern midfielders lifted in the second half thanks to Smith’s solid tap-work.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders was one of Gippsland’s best on the day, playing in the forward half and having a crucial role in extracting the ball from stoppages and pumping it inside 50. He took a great one-on-one mark in front of goal in the first term and booted a goal from the set shot. Flanders took a number of marks when leading outside of the forward 50, missing a shot later in the game, but was a consistent four quarter performance.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi continued his strong form this season since returning from injury with some hard running throughout the match. He often teamed up with Fraser Phillips when kicking inside 50, giving him a number of score assists, including a late goal. One trait that was noticeable with Baldi was his lightning quick hands, able to scoop the ball off the deck with one-touch and handball to a teammate running past without his teammate breaking stride. Had a couple of shots on goal but finished with two behinds.

#10 Leo Connolly

Had a few nice passages of play along the wing, creating run out of defence, often picking up the loose ball and kicking down the line. His kicking was neat and smart throughout the game, and he spread into space taking plenty of marks while being the outside mover to complement Gippsland’s array of inside bulls.

#12 Brock Smith

Another super performance from the defender who patrolled the backline and gobbled up everything that came his way in the first term as despite Calder having double the inside 50s. Smith’s remarkable first team saw him have 14 disposals and five marks, more than half of his total touches by the end of the game. While the Cannons used the ball better after quarter time, Smith still remained involved in the contest, showing good closing speed opposed to Josh Kemp, laying a great tackle to nullify the contest. Also loved the argy bargy with a few things to say to Kemp on the wing after being tackled. Another highlight came late in the third term with a long-range goal which got the team up and about.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Played his usual game through the middle, roaming between the arcs and getting free to win plenty of the ball in space. He also went in when he had to winning his fair share of his own ball, while getting the ball forward to advantage. He spread well and broke up play using sharp, short kicks.

#16 Josh Smith

Had a big start to the day, booting two goals in the opening term despite copping a knock to the face. Shared the ruck load with Charlie Comben and while he was quieter after quarter time, still had a number of inside 50s to put pressure on the opposition defence.

#17 Charlie Comben

The big man had a consistent four quarter effort playing through the ruck, leading up at the football when in attack, getting back and assisting his defence when in the back half, and winning his fair share of hitouts through the middle. He had a set shot in the second term but his shot fell short in the goalsquare. Comben showed good defensive pressure for a tall, laying some fierce tackles on opponents. Promising signs.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Kicked four goals for the game, including two in the final term – one coming after the siren. He had another chance from a snap tight on the boundary but missed, and then gave one off to a teammate instead of having a shot. Played almost exclusively inside 50 in the match and provided the Power with a target throughout the game. Has that excitement factor about him.

 

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was his industrious self on the weekend, playing an inside role at stoppages and along with Jacob Martin, was one of only two players to reach double-figure contested possessions. He was not able to get the time and space he normally would and thus resulted in some rushed kicks. Nonetheless he was one of Calder’s best, extracting from the stoppages and pumping the ball long, then dropping back in defence and getting it clear from the danger.

#5 Curtis Brown

Kicked Calder’s first goal in the second term after winning a free and launching a set shot from outside 50, easily making the distance. Had some nice touches at half-forward, using the ball neatly and trying to get the ball moving in the Cannons’ favour.

#30 Josh Kemp

Had a few good moments in the first half including an intercept mark at half-forward and showed clean hands leading up at the football and was clean with his disposal off the bounce. Received a 50m penalty in the third term and kicked the Cannons’ only goal of the quarter, but otherwise was quiet in the second half.

#38 Brodie Newman

A quieter game compared to his recent form, but Newman still won his fair share of touches in the back half. His work rate and on-field leadership were noticeable, running well off half-back and intercepting a number of early Gippsland forward thrusts. Tried to keep his side alive and the ball moving. Had a team-high seven rebounds and was the key general back there.

NAB League Boys Round 7 preview: Top four clash headlines ladder-shaping weekend

THE Northern Academies have come and gone in the NAB League, and proceedings will continue as normal for the remainder of the year as the ladder begins to take shape. A top four clash looms as the game of the weekend, with a host of bottom-half sides set to jostle for position in an important round of action.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Fresh off their first NAB League season win, the Geelong Falcons will be hoping for more of the same when they host Murray Bushrangers in Avalon. While both teams can only lay claim to one win thus far, Geelong sits a ladder spot above its weekend opponents having also picked up a draw. Bad luck has also followed either side to this point, with close games going the way of their opposition more often than not – seeing their effort and ability to be competitive go unrewarded. The Falcons will also be without co-captain Cooper Stephens for most of the year, so need their brigade of small running midfielders to stand up once again, while Oliver Henry remains a target up forward. The Bushrangers welcome back some over-age depth in the likes of Ben Kelly, Zane Barzen, and Liam Fiore, looking primed to make a mid-season charge up the ladder. While this could be a good chance to start a winning run, the inexperienced Falcons have showed they are often competitive and can stay with sides around their level. Expect a good battle with a second win up for grabs.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 3:15pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The ladder-leading Dandenong Stingrays travel to Williamstown to do battle with Western Jets, looking to keep their undefeated record in tact. A draw against Geelong remains the only blemish in an otherwise perfect Stingrays season, with their last two wins after a Round 4 bye both coming by over 70 points. The 3-2 Jets will be wary of their weekend opponents’ form, but are on a good run themselves after winning two-consecutive games before enjoying their own bye last week. The bye round proved perfect timing for over-agers Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy, who put their hands up for mid-season draft selection in the Young Guns game and will be back in Western colours this week. In the same vein, Dandenong welcomes Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt back to a lineup which looks like it is really starting to click – with key position and smaller guns on each line. Equal form lines aside, the Stingrays will fancy their chances in this one, but a win may not come as easily as in their last two outings.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 12, 11:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Bendigo Pioneers and Tasmania Devils will both be looking to build on their two respective wins for the year when they clash at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Sunday’s first game. The ‘Pios have been unable to add to their impressive Round 1 and 2 wins, but only went down by a combined 21 points in their last two games despite losing a couple of key players to school football. Meanwhile, Tasmania has also gone down in its last two efforts, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to Oakleigh at home last week. The positive signs are there for the Devils though, with Mitch O’Neill the only Australian representative star not to return to the side since his showcase outing. Despite others returning, Matthew McGuiness, Joseph Chaplin, Nicholas Baker, and Tyler Penwright are all key outs this week, leaving the Devils without some key experience and class. With the ability to hang with Bendigo clearly there, the travelling side will hope the continued development of their players can see them snatch another set of four points. But with travel a factor and Bendigo looking to stick with the pack of teams on 12 points, it will prove no mean feat.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Gippsland Power will look to continue its surge up the NAB League ladder at home on Sunday, but Calder Cannons stand in the way of a possible third-consecutive win. The hosts have gotten the better of three results decided by under 10 points, with their only loss coming by just six against table-toppers, Dandenong. Calder is on a run of two-straight wins after its Round 4 loss to Tasmania, faring far more competitively despite being the worst-placed of three sides on 12 points. While the Power has only named an extended bench, Calder looks set to lose some back-six class this week – with Sam Ramsay and Mason Fletcher out. Despite that, over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp should prove key ins for a Cannons side looking to compete with a formidable Gippsland outfit. With Sam Flanders kicking into gear, Riley Baldi returning well from injury, and skipper Brock Smith nominated for the Round 6 Draft Central Player of the Week, the Power should soon consolidate themselves as a genuine premiership contender.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

A third win is up for grabs for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Northern Knights as they clash in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon. Despite boasting equal wins, the Rebels have a far greater percentage than the Knights having won by 55 points over the Northern Territory Academy and their biggest loss coming by 14 points. Northern’s two victories have come in the last two weeks against Bendigo and the NT, with the Knights also breaking through for a season-high score of 98 (their next-best is 73). Some over-age and bottom-age inclusions for the Knights will aid their cause, with Sunny Brazier, Ollie Simpson, Nikolas Cox, and Ben Major returning to the side alongside top-age midfield ace, Sam Philp. Over-age talent also returns for the home side, as Jed Hill, James Cleaver, and Matty Lloyd have all been named. With the sides’ collective wins coming against bottom-half opponents, both will see this game as an opportunity for more of the same as the ladder starts to take shape. Northern should also be breathing fire after last year’s Wildcard Round thrashing at the hands of their weekend opponents, so expect a hot contest.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 2:00pm
RSEA Park

Arguably the game of the round will be played out in Moorabbin, with Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges set to do battle in a top four clash. Having been knocked off top spot after a bye round, the Dragons will be looking to pick up from where they left off, winning by 97 points in their last outing. While the Ranges were beaten by a strong Gippsland side last time out, they have been a one of the competition’s more consistent teams, with their only other loss coming to a full-strength Oakleigh in Round 1. A strong array of talls remains in the Sandringham 22, with Ryan Byrnes the key man in midfield and Angus Hanrahan and Riley Bowman coming off a Young Guns outing. The likes of Cody Hirst and Riley Smith come back for Eastern, adding strength to their running and tall games respectively. With much of the Dragons’ threats coming in their 195cm-plus players, this will again be a tough test for an Eastern side stacked with smaller runners, despite a bigger forward line. A tight tussle should ensue, with one side looking to stamp its authority and the other keen to prove it is a genuine contender.

BYE: Oakleigh Chargers