Tag: Matty Lloyd

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

NAB League Boys Round 6 preview: Academies set for final hit-out

THE Northern Academies will each go around for the final time in the NAB League ahead of National Championship commitments next month, while Sandringham and Western can enjoy byes in Round 6. Gippsland v Eastern firms as the game of the round as the Power eyes off a top four spot, with the Swans Academy looking to complete an undefeated stint.

TASMANIA DEVILS v OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday May 4, 11:30am
North Hobart Oval

Tenth and eleventh face off in Tasmania as the Devils host Oakleigh Chargers at North Hobart Oval with both sides looking for a third win. Oakleigh has suffered three-straight defeats on the back of having much of its side’s core stripped, with both wins coming in the opening two rounds. Co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams have remained amidst school football outs over the last two weeks, but over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney is a key omission this week on the back of being selected to play in the annual Young Guns fixture. Tasmania’s inclusions will also put a dent in the Chargers’ hopes of bouncing back, with Australian Under 17 representatives Jackson Callow, Sam Collins, and Oliver Davis all coming back into the side for this clash. While the Devils went down heavily last week after consecutive wins previously, they will stand a huge chance of causing an upset here with home ground advantage and a weakened Oakleigh side searching for form.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v GWS GIANTS ACADEMY
Saturday May 4, 12:00pm
Albury Sports Ground

With tenth and eleventh opening the round, thirteenth placed Murray Bushrangers hosts the fourteenth placed GWS Giants Academy as both sides search for a second win. The Giants were unlucky not to add to their sole victory as they went down by nine points to Gippsland last time out, but will be keen to finish up their NAB League commitments on a good note. Beating Murray in Albury will be no mean feat despite the Bushrangers’ 1-3 record, as the home side could well have been sporting an opposite record coming into the game after going down twice by under a goal. The return of Lachlan Ash will be a big boost for Murray, but they will be without talented over-agers Ben Kelly and Zane Barzen from last week’s side. The Giants will be without talent of their own as James Peatling exits the side, but will be buoyed by the inclusion of midfield bull, Tom Green. With the Division 2 prize out of the question for GWS, the result looms of greater important to Murray as it looks to mount a charge up the ladder through the mid-season period.

CALDER CANNONS v BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday May 4, 2:15pm
RAMS Arena

Calder and Bendigo are on the hunt for their third wins of the season, and both have the chance to do so as they face off at RAMS Arena on Saturday. While Bendigo are the second-best place team on eight points after a lightning start to the season, Calder is the worst-placed of the five teams with two wins, and sit twelfth. The Cannons will come into the clash with a better bout of confidence too, having won last week against Geelong – on the other hand, Bendigo has lost its last two games. While the Pioneers will again be without key men Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp, as well as Jacob Atley to the Young Guns game, there are no massive changes from the side that lost to Northern last week. Calder are much the same despite over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp being unavailable, with its over-age depth proving handy. The Cannons’ win last week would have them feeling good, but the quest for a second-straight will prove difficult against a Bendigo team looking to make up for a result missed in their previous effort.

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY v GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Sunday May 5, 10:15am
South Pine Sports Complex

Greater Western Victoria search for a second-straight win heads to the Sunshine State, as the Rebels take on Gold Coast Suns Academy to open Sunday’s Queensland double-header. The Rebels’ big win last week over Northern Territory saw them add to their Round 2 victory over Geelong, while the Suns suffered their first loss in a hefty defeat at the hands of Eastern. Despite the polar opposite form lines, this clash should prove to be a close one between the two top-eight sides, especially since the Rebels have competed in three games decided by under seven points. That competitiveness will have to well and truly be present though, with over-agers James Cleaver, Matt Lloyd, and Jed Hill all set to miss and test the Rebels’ midfield depth. While Dirk Koenan and Ryan Gilmore are out for the Suns, they have benefitted from being able to consistently field near-full strength sides throughout their four games, and this will be no different. With a chance to claim Division 2 honours still up for grabs on Gold Coast’s end, expect them to have a red hot crack to end their NAB League campaign.

GEELONG FALCONS v SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY
Sunday May 5, 12:00pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Geelong will hope to spoil Sydney Academy’s Division 2 title hopes and collect its first win when the two do battle on neutral ground in Sandringham. The Falcons have points on the board after their Round 3 draw with Dandenong, and have been competitive in one and seven point losses to suggest they can be competitive. Meanwhile, the Swans Academy has had no such trouble in its four games, winning all of them to sit third in the overall NAB League standings. A win would see the Swans clinch the Division 2 title as the best placed academy, with the added notch of going undefeated. With the likes of Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell back in after Australian representative action, the Swans stack up as formidable opponents. On the other hand, Geelong will be left with holes to fill at either end as Charlie Sprague and Sam Christensen report for Young Gun duties alongside Harry Stubbings, but the likes of Henry Walsh and Oliver Henry replenish the line-up. The Falcons will be breathing fire after letting one slip, and could throw a spanner in the works against much-fancied opponents.

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday May 5, 12:45pm
South Pine Sports Complex

A second win is on offer upon the Brisbane Lions Academy’s exit from the NAB League on Sunday when they welcome Dandenong Stingrays to the South Pine Sports Complex. The 1-4 Lions have suffered three-consecutive losses after beating GWS in Round 2, including a 97-point loss to Sandringham last week. The margin of defeat could have been far worse in that game though, and Brisbane will take the promise they showed in a four-goal to six second half into this bout. Dandenong had no such worries against its Metro opponent in Round 5, trouncing Oakleigh by 70 points to hold an undefeated 3-0-1 record and fourth place. While the Lions have made five changes, their lineup has seldom been disrupted and it showed in their two competitive outings against Eastern and Gold Coast. 2018 Academy skipper Cody Stackelberg returns after a stint in the NEAFL, but the Stingrays have made the most significant ins with Hayden Young and Cody Weightman included. Young could get a good run in the midfield with Mitch Riordan out and Jai Nanscawen following, setting up an exciting midfield battle against Brisbane’s ball winners. The Lions will want to finish well in front of a home crowd, and travel could well be a defining factor for the Stingrays.

GIPPSLAND POWER v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 5, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

In what looms as the game of the round, second-placed Eastern (4-1) travels to face a surging Gippsland Power side in Morwell. The Ranges have shown their solidity and evenness across the board in four-consecutive wins, toppling two metro sides and two academies. Gippsland has only put one foot wrong, losing narrowly to Dandenong in Round 2, but are otherwise building nicely to sit seventh as one of three 3-1 sides. Hopes of a third-consecutive win will be boosted by the inclusion of Sam Flanders, but in-form over-ager Kyle Dunkley comes out of the side as he readies for the Young Guns game. Cody Hirst, Joel Nathan, and Riley Smith are set to play in the same game alongside James Blanck, with the Ranges naming an extended bench to cover their losses. Eastern has been a somewhat of a surprise packet thus far, but Gippsland have a wealth of top-end talent that they will trust to stand up in what should be a tight tussle.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v NORTHERN TERRITORY
Sunday May 5, 2:00pm
Ikon Park

Northern Territory faces its last chance to come away with a NAB League win as it readies for battle against the Northern Knights at Ikon Park. The Knights finally got on the board last week with a come-from-behind win over Bendigo on Friday night, leaving their weekend opponents and Geelong as the only sides without a set of four points. While they have shown promise, NT’s narrowest losing margin was 44 points against the Gold Coast Suns academy in Round 2, with this the final time they can show their true worth on the NAB League stage. The Thunder forward line looks dangerous with leading prospect Malcolm Rosas Jr named alongside the likes of Beau O’Connell and big-man Matthew Cumming, with Ben Rioli also added to the mix this week. Ollie Simpson and Sunny Brazier come out of the winning Knights side from last week to fulfil Young Guns duties, with Ryan Gardner an important in – named in the midfield. Northern could see this fixture as an opportunity to get on a winning run after last week’s result, but Northern Territory should give it a good crack as some of their stars vie for a spot in the Allies squad.

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Boys – Round 5

A NEW ladder-leader has emerged in the NAB League as one academy side suffered its first loss, and Geelong Falcons and Northern Territory remain the only ones without a win. With eyes on each of the nine games, here is the Round 5 wash-up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.1 | 6.1 | 7.2 | 7.7 (49)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Bendigo: K. Brown 2, K. Attwell, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, C. Fisher, J. Rodi.
Northern: J. Bowne 2, S. Brazier 2, J. D’Intinosante, C. Barbera, Z. Costello, J. Lucente.

BEST:

Bendigo: R. Wilson, W. Wallace, J. Ginnivan, J. Schischka, B. Worme, R. Ironside.
Northern: E. Macpherson, J. D’Intinosante, S. Philp, S. Brazier, Z. Costello, L. Potter.

It took five rounds but Northern Knights finally came away with some premiership points, downing the impressive Bendigo Pioneers by less than a kick under lights at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Friday night. Bendigo lost its second consecutive game after starting the season 2-0, despite having chances to win in both matches. In this clash, the Pioneers led throughout the night, including by 17 points at the main break. A more determined Knights outfit came out in the second half, making the most of their run and carry, booting five goals to one in the second half to secure the five-point victory. Ewan Macpherson was named best on ground for Northern, while Josh D’Intinosante was consistent across the four quarters, as were fellow inside midfielders, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier. Lachie Potter showed dash off half-back and between the run from defence to the inside ball winning capabilities, the Knights were better across the four quarters. For the Pioneers, Riley Wilson was terrific across the four quarters, while James Schischka was ever-reliable in defence with William Wallace, while Ben Worme and Riley Ironside were others who performed on the night for the Pioneers.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.10 (88)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.3 | 2.9 | 7.9 | 9.10 (64)

GOALS:

Sydney: H. Ellem 3, T. Drum 2, H. Maguire 2, M. Sheather, A. Watling, J. Barling, K. McGrath, P. Roseby, M. Rossmann.
Murray: C. Wilson 3, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, K. Chalcraft, J. Chalcraft, J. O’Dwyer.

BEST:

Sydney: L. Swaney, C. Nash, A. Watling, M. Geddes, J. Dol, S. Thorne
Murray: C. Wild, J. Chalcraft, S. Durham, K. Chalcraft, C. Wilson, W. Christie

Sydney Swans Academy extended its unbeaten NAB League run on Saturday, kicking off the Blacktown double-header with an impressive 24-point win over the Murray Bushrangers. The loss is the only result for Murray that has been decided by over seven points after going 1-2 across the first three rounds, with the Bushrangers unlucky to be languishing in the bottom half of the table. They were beaten out of the blocks by the home side, which broke out to a 29-point lead at the first break, while building on it well to find themselves an seven six goals up at half time. The Bushrangers fought back after the main break, taking their chances well to boot 5.0 to 2.2 in the third term, but the gap proved too far to bridge in a rather stalemate final stanza as the Swans cruised to victory. An impressive nine individual Swans goal kickers were led by Hamish Ellem‘s three majors from 22 disposals, while Harry Maguire and Thomas Drum snared two each in low possession games. While Kyle Martin led their possession count, Lachlan Swaney was named best for the Swans for his 18-disposal performance, while Sam Thorne, Max Geddes and Jacob Dol each had over 20 touches to also be thereabouts. Cam Wild continues to be a standout for Murray, named their best in this outing on the back of 28 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal, while both Kade and Jye Chalcraft hit the scoreboard to be named in the best alongside leading goal-getter Cameron Wilson, who bagged three. Murray goes on to face other Sydney academy, GWS in Round 6, while the Swans face Geelong Falcons in their final NAB League hit-out.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.2 | 10.4 | 12.8 | 19.10 (124)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Dandenong: E. Cahill 3, L. Williams 3, J. Neal 2, W. Bravo 2, B. Kuipers 2, J. Nanscawen 2, B. Nyuon, B. Welsh, B. Milford, A. Bradtke, L. Goonan.
Oakleigh: L. Stelling 2, T. Graham, T. Lovell, R. Valentine, H. Mundy, B. Rogers, F. Elliot.

BEST:

Dandenong: E. Cahill, J. Toner, J. Nanscawen, L. Williams, S. De Koning, C. Gay
Oakleigh: J. Woodfull, S. Seach, R. Valentine, L. Jenkins, F. Elliot, L. Stelling

In their first three clashes, the Dandenong Stingrays have enjoyed absolute nail-biters, winning by a goal twice, and the drawing with Geelong Falcons in Round 3. While the opening term scores suggested this one would head down the same path, the action told a different story with the Stingrays on top, but not putt ing the scores on the board. That happened in the second term when they took full control of the game from Oakleigh Chargers, piling on eight goals to one with the breeze in a windy day at Shepley Oval. In front of a home crowd, the Stingrays put an understrength Oakleigh to the sword, extending the lead to 52 points by the final break, before running away with it in the last term as both sides managed to break through for goals. Eleven majors were kicked as Dandenong won that quarter seven goals to four, and enjoyed a massive 70-point win. In the absence of Hayden Young, Ned Cahill stood tall to be the standout player on the ground, while Luke Williams also contributed with his long-range goals a highlight. Jack Toner and Clayton Gay were solid throughout, as was Sam De Koning who took a multitude of intercept marks at centre half-back. For Oakleigh, Jacob Woodfull is hard to miss, rocking a mullet, but the ruck was sensational throughout the match, while Sam Seach and Ryan Valentine were also named among the best. AFL Academy members and co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams showed signs across the ground, but the Stingrays controlled the play for the most part in the impressive win.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 8.3 | 13.9 | 17.13 | 19.18 (132)
BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 0.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.5 (35)

GOALS:

Sandringham: B. O’Leary 3, J. Bell 2, K. Yorke 2, A. Courtney 2, A. Hanrahan 2, R. Byrnes, T. Murray, J. Voss, J. Le Grice , T. Deane-Johns, G. Grey, D. Hipwell, A. Perkins.
Brisbane: T. Wischnat, T. Abberley, C. Bowes, M. McDonald, T. Matthews.

BEST:

Sandringham: J. Bell, J. Voss, H. Loughnan, R. Byrnes, L. Butler, R. Bowman
Brisbane: W. Martyn, T. Griffiths, B. Reville, T. Jeffrey

New NAB League table-toppers Sandringham Dragons roared to a thumping 97-point win over the Brisbane Lions academy, keeping its perfect record in tact. A 13-goal to one blitz in the first half set up the final margin of victory for the home side, with a whopping 13 Dragons getting on the scoresheet and five of them scoring multiple goals – led by Blake O’Leary‘s three. The tall timber of Jack Bell and Andrew Courtney proved a handful for the Lions defence, with over-ager Angus Hanrahan chiming in well early and bottom-ager Archie Perkins also impressive forward of centre. Midfield maestro Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) was the key catalyst for the first-half onslaught though, winning a wealth of ball through the middle and setting Sandringham forward with bursting runs and inside 50 entries on both sides. The likes of Louis Butler (31 disposals) and Harry Loughnan (25, nine marks) also covered the ground well, with Riley Bowman showing his versatility in all key-position posts. Though they were soundly beaten overall, the Lions showed good heart in the second half to keep Sandringham to six goals while scoring four of their own, with key players finding their way into the game. One who was combative all day was Will Martyn (33 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles), leading his side well from midfield and leading all-comers in disposals. Tom Griffiths was named in the best for his role in an under-siege defence, while the smooth-moving Bruce Reville lifted in the second half to also be thereabouts, and bottom-ager Tahj Abberley also showed good signs. In its final NAB League outing, Brisbane hosts Dandenong in the Sunshine State, while Sandringham can enjoy a bye.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 1.1 | 5.1 | 9.4 | 9.7 (61)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.5 | 9.5 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

GWS: L. Conlan 2, L. Delahunty 2, H. Grant 2, R. Mooney, J. Peatling, T. Organ.
Gippsland: R. Baldi 2, H. Pepper, Z. Skinner, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, B. Maslen, W. Papley, F. Phillips, K. Dunkley.

BEST:

GWS: H. Grant, N. Murray, L. Squire, J. Lucas, S. Driscoll, J. Peatling
Gippsland: J. Smith, H. Pepper, R. Baldi, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, T. Hourigan

Gippsland Power was made to work for its third win of the NAB League season, downing a spirited GWS Giants Academy side by nine points in Blacktown. The travel did not seem to faze the Victorian side, looking fresh coming off a bye round to set up an early lead. The Power’s 13-point quarter-time lead proved the difference in their second-consecutive win, as the home side poured on eight goals during the second and third terms to get within a single point heading into the final break. With the game on the line, Gippsland’s depth proved too strong, seeing the Power home in a tense and low-scoring final term. Riley Baldi sent a timely reminder of his talent with 22 disposals, eight inside 50s and two goals on his return, with big-man Josh Smith named Gippsland’s best. Harrison Pepper (26 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (18) found a good amount of ball on top of hitting the scoreboard, while Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Ryan Sparkes (18 disposals) continued their solid partnership across half-back. Harry Grant had a monster day out as GWS’ best with 31 disposals and two goals, while Liam Delahunty and Lucas Conlan were the other multiple goal kickers. Ball winners Lachlan Squire (26 disposals, Jeromy Lucas (24), and Nicholas Murray (21) also proved important for the Giants in the narrow loss. GWS’ last NAB League fixture comes against Murray in Victoria, with Gippsland returning to home turf in Round 6 to face the in-form Eastern in a top eight clash.

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Eastern: B. White 4, J. Rossiter 3, B. Hickleton 2, Z. Pretty, C. Hirst.
Gold Coast: R. Buckland, E. Dawson.

BEST:

Eastern: R. Smith, Z. Pretty, J. Nathan, J. Clarke, L. Stapleton, B. White
Gold Coast: C. Joyce, C. Budarick, M. Pescud , D. Koenen, R. Gilmore, P. Murtagh

Eastern Ranges made it a double demolition of the Northern Academies at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, downing the Gold Coast Suns academy by 59 points to climb into the competition’s top two. After a first-half arm-wrestle ensued, the Ranges broke the game open with a seven-goal to nil third term to set up their fourth-straight win. Three players did the bulk of Eastern’s scoring, with Bailey White claiming an opportunistic bag of four goals in his first game for the year, while Jamieson Rossiter booted 3.3 in a solid marking display and Ben Hickleton chimed in with 2.4. Another player to find the goals, Zak Pretty, amassed a whopping 37 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency to earn the Draft Central player of the week nod, but was beaten out by dominant ruckman Riley Smith (19 disposals, 37 hit-outs) for best-afield honours. Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis continued their good form through the middle, with bottom-age prospect Joshua Clarke impressing off half-back with plenty of dash. Ryan Buckland and Ethan Dawson were the Suns’ only goal kickers for the day, with many of their best players employed further afield. Connor Budarick (27 disposals, 16 tackles) continues to shine on the back of hard work, while Corey Joyce and Dirk Koenen were also named in the best for their roles in defence. The Suns head back home next week to face GWV and see out their NAB League cameo, while Eastern faces a tough task in keeping its win-streak alive against Gippsland in Morwell.

CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 8.11 (59)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 2.1 | 6.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

Calder: N. Gentile 3, J. Martin 2, O. Sasalu, M. Simpson, J. Keeping.
Geelong: C. Sprague 2, L. Lloyd 2, C. Seymour, L. Smith, K. Rayner, W. Batson.

BEST:

Calder: B. Newman, D. Mott, N. Gentile, O. Sasalu, S. Ramsay, S. Graham
Geelong: H. Stubbings, S. Christensen, C. Karpala, C. Sprague, S. Bourke, W. Batson

The Calder Cannons were made to earn their second win of the year, leaving Geelong Falcons winless after five rounds with a seven-point victory at RAMS Arena. With the wind favouring one end, the game was ultimately decided by Calder’s dominant second quarter, where the Cannons scored 4.5 while keeping Geelong scoreless to open up a 17-point lead. Despite bridging the gap to a single point heading into the final break, the Falcons were outlasted by the home side, which converted well in the clutch moments in an otherwise hit-and-miss display in front of goal. Ned Gentile (21 disposals, three goals) converted in each of the last three quarters to provide a key hand, while other multiple goal kicker Jacob Martin kicked the deciding goal with seven minutes to play. The game was dominated by Cannons key defender Brodie Newman, who recorded 36 disposals and an incredible 17 marks, while Daniel Mott (29 disposals) continued to build his form and Sam Ramsay (27) was also good. Not all is lost for the Falcons despite being the only full-time NAB League side without a win, with some of their depth players standing up. Over-ager Harry Stubbings was named best for his 20 disposals and nine tackles, with Will Batson (20 disposals, one goal) and Chas Karpala (19 disposals) also amongst it, while Charlie Sprague returned an impressive 18 disposals, six marks, and two goals. Geelong’s search for a win continues on neutral territory in Round 6 against an unbeaten Sydney Academy side, with Calder hosting at RAMS Arena once again against Bendigo.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western: A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

A second-consecutive win sees Western Jets fly into the NAB League top eight, accounting for Tasmania Devils by 47 points on the Apple Isle. With the two sides coming in on eight points apiece, it was the Jets who got the better of an early stalemate – snatching a two-point lead at the first break and never looking back. The travelling side gradually widened the margin as the game went on, kicking no more than three goals in each quarter to build their eventual winning score. While goals were hard to come by for the Devils, they proved competitive up the field but were beaten by a combination of Western’s strength and classy ball winners. Darcy Cassar led the way in the latter department, collecting a game-high 31 disposals (27 kicks, 13 marks) from half-back, while Josh Honey was back to his best with 25 disposals and two goals, and Josh Kellett (18 disposals) also proved effective. Over-ager Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 33 hit-outs) continues to dominate in the ruck, while fellow big-man Aaron Clarke clunked nine marks and Archi Manton converted three goals up forward. For the home side, Oscar Burrows-Cheng was named best for his combative 22 disposals, with Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon the leading disposal getters (both 25) and debutant Isaac Chugg showing some promising signs. The Devils remain in Tasmania for a clash against Oakleigh at North Hobart Oval next week, while Western has a bye in Round 6.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 10.6 | 13.9 | 17.10 (112)
NT THUNDER 1.2 | 1.5 | 6.8 | 8.9 (57)

GOALS:

GWV: N. Caris 4, R. Polkinghorne 2, I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rantall 2, T. Mahony 2, C. Craig-Peters, J. Hill, M. Martin.
NT: T. Woods 3, M. Cumming 2, B. O’Connell 2, J. Lynch.

BEST:

GWV: P. Glanford, C. Craig-Peters, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, J. Rantall, M. Lloyd
NT: B. Jungfer, B. O’Connell, L. Ferreira, S. Cumming, M. Cumming, J. Jeffrey

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have come away with an easy Round 5 victory, downing Northern Territory Thunder by 55 points at Windy Hill. The venue was aptly named for the conditions as a strong breeze blowing a gale caused for some inaccuracy at times, although both teams seemed well equipped by half-time to deal with the conditions. The Rebels never looked like losing the game, piling on 10 goals to one by half-time and essentially having put a nail in the Thunders’ coffin as they headed into the main break. The Northern Territory coaches told the players that their efforts “now” (in the second half) was what mattered and was within their control, and the visitors answered with three of the first four goals, and five foals to three in the term, to cut the deficit to 43 points by the final break. Any slight hint of a comeback was soon snuffed out within eight and a half minutes as the Rebels piled on four consecutive goals – including two to Izaac Grant – to race away to a 67-point advantage. Two late goals to Beau O’Connell and Matthew Cumming restored the final margin to 55. Patrick Glanford was named the Rebels’ best in the ruck, competing against the bigger-bodied Stephen Cumming, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne were among nine individual goalkickers. Nick Caris led the way with four majors, while Polkinghorne, Grant, Jay Rantall, Toby Mahony and Matty Lloyd all booted two apiece. For the Thunder, Tyson Woods kicked three goals all within 15 metres, while Matthew Cumming managed two majors, as did O’Connell. The small mid-forward was a standout for the Thunder, working hard on the outside with Ben Jungfer doing the heavy lifting on the inside. Down back, Joel Jeffrey had some highlight reel moments with high leaps and terrific intercept marks.

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 3

WITH a landmark Round 2 come and gone, Round 3’s set of fixtures delivers another nine games and another nine opportunities to observe the best talent from across the nation as the Northern Academies and Tasmania settle into NAB League proceedings. With a Sandringham double-header on Saturday and Bendigo triple-header on Sunday, settle in for some non-stop Under 18 action.

Northern Knights v Eastern Ranges
Saturday April 6, 9:45
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Northern Knights host Eastern Ranges on neutral ground to open the round and Saturday’s double-header at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. The Knights are still without a win in 2019 after going down narrowly to Western and more comfortably to Sandringham, while Eastern come in 1-1 after toppling the Jets last week. Lachie Potter returns to the side after missing through injury, and will look to provide run on the outside of in-form Northern ball winners Adam Carafa and Sam Philp. While Potter gives the Knights’ defence more dynamism, the Ranges have brought in 19-year old Vic Metro representative James Blanck to sure up the back six – not that it has been particularly leaky. Further afield, Eastern’s Mitch Mellis will hope to build on his Round 2 Draft Central player of the week performance, with the midfield combination of Lachlan Stapleton and Cody Hirst effective so far. Both sides will see this clash as a good opportunity to pick up a win, with the Knights especially keen to get on the board as quickly as possible.

GWS GIANTS Academy v Sydney Swans Academy
Saturday April 6, 11:00
Manuka Oval

The battle of the bridge comes to the NAB League as the GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans academies prepare to do battle in Canberra. While the Swans had a winning start to NAB League life, GWS will look towards this opportunity to get on the board having gone down to academy counterparts, Brisbane in Round 2. The Swans have been dealt a major blow as star of their opening game, Errol Gulden has been named as an out, with fellow bottom-ager Pierce Roseby set to slot right into his place. Samuel Thorne is one who can also pick up the slack alongside the likes of Jackson Barling and Kyle McKellar after good performances last week, and the midfield battle will be a cracker. Leading Giants prospect Tom Green showed his class last week and will hope to overwhelm the Swans mids, while the dynamic forward combination of Liam Delahunty and James Peatling should cause some headaches for the Swans. This is certainly one to watch with some high-end academy prospects running around, and should be a good contest to boot.

Brisbane Lions Academy v Gold Coast Suns Academy
Saturday April 6, 12:00
Yerong Football Ground

The academy state derbies continue as the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS academies play off in an Under 18 Q-clash up in the sunshine state. Both Round 2 winners, the sides will be playing off for bragging rights before testing themselves against established NAB League opponents. A potential midfield match-up between Gold Coast’s Connor Budarick Brisbane’s Will Martyn should be a belter, as would a shootout between Suns goalsneak Josh Gore and Lions forward ace Tom Wischnat – who bagged seven collective goals last week. With plenty of forward runners in either lineup and sunny conditions an forecasted, this fixture should well and truly attract some eyes, and will be as good an opportunity as ever for each side’s top-end talent to showcase their skills – or even use as preparation for future AFL Q-clashes.

Sandringham Dragons v Oakleigh Chargers
Saturday April 6, 12:15
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

The game of the round hits Trevor Barker Beach Oval as Metro premiership fancies, Sandringham and Oakleigh play off in what could well be an early season finals dress rehearsal. Both sides come into the game at 2-0 as the top two on the ladder, but the Dragons should come in as favourites given they hold home ground advantage and have won more comfortably thus far. The home side backed up a Round 1 shellacking of Calder with a solid win over Northern, while Oakleigh was tested last week against a fighting Calder side in tough conditions. With stars studded across each line for both teams, there will be no shortage of mouth-watering match-ups to grab the attention of recruiters. Sandringham’s forward line has been lethal so far, with Charlie Dean leading the competition for goals (nine), and fellow talls Riley Bowman and Jack Bell also pitching in. While they will no doubt trouble the visitors’ defence, Oakleigh’s midfield is set to feature three genuine top 10 draft pick contenders – with returning co-captain Trent Bianco joining Round 1 Draft Central Player of the Week, Noah Anderson, and the unflappable Matt Rowell. Over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney also features in that midfield rotation, with he and Bianco able to join the back six or play on the outside. Recent AFL Vic Metro Academy squad inclusion, Nick Bryan will hope to continue his early-season run and provide his fleet with first use in the ruck, with Dylan Williams showing signs of clicking into full gear up forward. While Oakleigh’s midfield is arguably the competition’s best on paper, Sandringham’s engine room is proving to be right up there – as the likes of Jack Mahony, Ryan Byrnes, and Finn Maginness have formed a consistent ball-winning trio. Sandringham’s defence features a combination of aerial prowess and calm ball users, with Josh Worrell, Corey Watts, and Fischer McAsey versatile enough to tackle all sorts of forwards. With potential draftees littered across this game, it is simply a must watch – and the chance to watch this much elite talent most likely will not come until the National Championships.

Calder Cannons v Western Jets
Saturday April 6, 3:30
RAMS Arena

The winless Calder Cannons will have a point to prove when they meet Western Jets in another home fixture at RAMS Arena to close out Sunday’s games. Having been dealt a tough hand with their first two games being against premiership fancies Sandringham and Oakleigh, the Cannons showed marked improvement in Round 2 as they matched it with the Chargers for three quarters. On the other hand, Western suffered a comprehensive loss to Eastern after a promising Round 1 victory, so will be looking to pave a more consistent path as the season progresses. Calder’s tall defensive duo of Brodie Newman and Mason Fletcher will have their hands full with probably match-ups against Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke, while both sets of midfielders will hope to improve on last week’s outings – namely Western’s Josh Honey and Calder’s Daniel Mott, who have outstanding potential. Enigmatic Calder forward Josh Kemp is also set to be a factor, coming off three goals last week and hoping to build a case for the next level as a 19-year-old. The Cannons may surprise a few, but Western will hope it can get back on the winners list with an stronger output here.

Bendigo Pioneers v Gippsland Power
Sunday April 7, 10:00
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The season’s surprise packet to date, Bendigo Pioneers, will hope to keep its perfect record in tact when it faces Gippsland to open Sunday’s all-Country triple-header. The hosts have taken full advantage of retaining their top-end talent for the early-season proceedings, with Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp leading the way well from midfield to provide an eye-catching mix of grunt and creativity. A thrilling win last week against Murray puts them in good stead at 2-0, with Gippsland on the wrong end of a tight loss last time out and coming in with a 1-1 record. Much like the Pioneers, Gippsland will hope to take advantage of having Caleb Serong free from school football and Vic Country commitments, but have a wealth of talent to see them through in any case. Ryan Sparkes has started the season well on the outside, with the powerful Sam Flanders mixing time in the midfield and forward line seamlessly, and over-ager Kyle Dunkley looking a much-improved prospect. With one side playing in a rare vein of form and the other looking to click into gear as most expect them to, this clash could well be right up there with the Sandringham and Oakleigh game for pure entertainment.

Dandenong Stingrays v Geelong Falcons
Sunday April 7, 12:30
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons take centre stage in the second QEO all-Country clash, with either side coming in on the back of polar opposite form-lines. While the reigning premiers have managed to scrape in for two six-point wins, the Falcons are one of four established NAB League teams still searching for their first win. Usual suspects are already appearing in the Geelong side, with co-captains Cooper Stephens and Jesse Clark continually standing up, while 19-year-old Charlie Sprague has also been lively thus far. The Falcons will unfortunately be without Jay Dahlhaus for what looks like being most of the season though, with the speedster partially tearing his ACL last week. On Dandenong’s end, Hayden Young is coming into form, with over-ager Mitch Riordan following suit in the midfield, while talls Bigoa Nyuon and Bailey Schmidt are also making a mark. With plenty of experience remaining from last year’s premiership side, the Stingrays will prove a tough test for Geelong as they look to bounce back by collecting a set of four points.

Northern Territory Thunder Academy v Tasmania Devils
Sunday April 7, 1:00
Holden Centre

Someone’s winless start will end when Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmania Devils take their talent to neutral ground in Melbourne, with both sides hoping to bounce back from defeats in their respective NAB League debuts. The Thunder is set to take an unchanged line-up to the Holden Centre, while Tasmania will have at least two fresh faces in the team this week with an extended squad named. The Devils fell respectably short of the Sydney Swans Academy last time out, with leading prospect Mitch O’Neill the standout alongside Matt McGuiness. They will be important once again alongside the running power of Sam Collins, while the versatile forward duo of Will Harper and Jye Menzie will hope to again combine effectively to help the Taswegians get on the board. Ben Jungfer was the NT’s clear best ball winner last week, and will play a key role against the Devils’ best, while twin tall pair Stephen and Matthew Cumming should again prove a handful wherever they are required. With plenty of speed set to come to the fore, expect some fireworks between two sides battling for their first win.

Murray Bushrangers v Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Sunday April 7, 3:00
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Murray Bushrangers and Greater Western Victoria Rebels are set to see out the round of action and Sunday’s QEO fixtures as they clash for regional bragging rights. While Murray have been unlucky not to snatch the win thus far – going down by a collective seven points in the first two rounds – GWV managed to get up by the narrowest of margins last week as they snatched a win from under the Falcons’ beaks. The Rebels have a number of triers who contribute well, with Jay Rantall and James Cleaver among the best so far, but they are set to lose key contributors Cooper Craig-Peters and Matty Lloyd for this week’s clash. On the other hand, Murray has named a handy inclusion, with over-ager Zane Barzen slotting straight into the forward line. With Will Chandler set to join him up there and Jye Chalcraft able to rest inside 50 from midfield duties, the Bushrangers’ look a dangerous prospect. Lachlan Ash and former-Knight Cam Wild have also gone about their business well as ball-winners, so should collectively provide some headaches for the Rebels midfield. With wins imperative as sides are at relative full strength, Murray will be keen to pick up four points here.

Team selection: NAB League Boys – Round 2

IN Round 2 of the NAB League Boys competition, Northern Knights have rolled the dice at the selection table with at least seven changes, while their opponents, Eastern Ranges have gone in unchanged with just three added inclusions to the team that easily accounted for the Western Jets last week. Among the key inclusions for sides are overagers, James Blanck and Zane Barzen, Oakleigh co-captain Trent Bianco and exciting teammate, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan. Meanwhile the Rebels will go in missing a couple of their midfield brigade with both Matty Lloyd and Cooper Craig-Peters unavailable for the clash. One player that will return for his first game of the year is speedster Lachie Potter who has been named at his regular half-back position in the Knights along with talented bottom-ager, Ewan Macpherson, forming an exciting backline. From an Academy point of view, Sydney Swans Academy star, Errol Gulden will also miss the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ clash against GWS GIANTS.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 3 – 6/04/2019
9:45am
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

NORTHERN KNIGHTS

B: 27. E. Macpherson, 51. R. Uwandu, 11. R. Sturgess
HB: 7. R. Gardner, 4. J. Davies, 1. L. Potter
C: 23. N. Cox, 18. S. Brazier, 41. N. Kitchell
HF: 8. A. Carafa, 9. C. Simonsen, 3. B. Nikolovski
F: 5. J. D’Intinosante, 34. Z. Costello, 60. J. Matthews
R: 30. B. Leonard, 13. S. Philp, 17. J. Bowne
Int: 26. D. Akuei, 59. J. Boyd, 38. E. Cheesewright, 21. J. Janev, 52. J. Mazzarella, 40. L. Mcmahon, 6. X. Naish, 2. L. Perry, 42. J. Potter

In: L. Potter, E. Cheesewright, J. Janev, D. Akuei, E. Macpherson, J. Boyd, J. Matthews, J. Mazzarella, J. Potter, J. Bowne
Out: A. Taylor, N. Howard, J. Lucente, J. Collins, I. Rossi, J. Trudgeon, K. Brandt

EASTERN RANGES

B: 12. J. Gilbee, 39. J. Nathan, 40. J. Hourihan
HB: 4. J. Clarke, 21. J. Ross, 16. T. Garner
C: 20. C. Downie, 7. L. Stapleton, 17. C. Hirst
HF: 14. L. Gawel, 13. J. Rossiter, 11. M. Mellis
F: 10. C. Black, 18. B. McCormack, 9. J. Duffy
R: 49. R. Smith, 45. M. Zalac, 23. Z. Pretty
Int: 31. J. Blanck, 15. S. Feagaimalii, 36. B. Hickleton, 1. K. Hubber, 19. W. Parker, 53. J. Tilly, 3. C. Tilyard, 25. L. Vassis, 48. S. Woodward

In: K. Hubber, J. Blanck, B. Hickleton

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY v. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY

Round 3 – 06/04/2019
11:00am
UNSW Canberra Oval

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY

B: 5. K. Flack, 24. N. Murray, 43. S. Frost
HB: 20. J. Reed, 27. J. Green, 16. C. Steele
C: 1. H. Grant, 25. T. Green, 28. M. McGrory
HF: 14. S. Driscoll, 26. L. Delahunty, 19. R. Mooney
F: 4. C. Edwards, 10. J. Peatling, 2. M. Hamblin
R: 30. J. Gardiner, 17. J. Lucas, 12. L. Squire
Int: 22. L. Conlan, 35. J. Cullen, 6. T. Organ, 23. A. Whyte, 37. D. Beavan

In: J. Gardiner, S. Driscoll
Out: O. Hicks, J. Moen

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY

B: 22. M. Geddes, 4. R. van Huisstede, 33. K. Martin
HB: 12. N. Brewer, 38. J. Dol, 3. L. Parks
C: 7. B. Campbell, 10. J. Barling, 28. N. Casalini
HF: 15. H. Parker, 39. J. Rayner, 11. A. Watling
F: 27. M. Sheather, 5. H. Maguire, 16. L. Swaney
R: 40. S. Gaden, 37. K. McKellar, 9. S. Thorne
Int: 14. T. Baxter, 6. C. Nash, 17. P. Roseby, 29. T. Tyson, 21. Z. Youlten, 2. H. Ellem

In: H. Ellem, P. Roseby
Out: E. Gulden

 

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY v. GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY

Round 3 – 06/04/2019
11:00am (Queensland Time)
Yeronga Football Ground

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY

B: 44. C. Bulley, 36. J. Ward, 8. T. Townson
HB: 19. T. Griffiths, 40. N. Haberer, 28. E. Hunt
C: 12. S. Crozier, 11. W. Martyn, 18. B. Reville
HF: 15. T. Abberley, 38. T. Wischnat, 23. T. Jeffrey
F: 25. C. Aston, 43. J. Briskey, 13. B. Coleman
R: 60. S. Ryan, 20. J. Quint, 21. N. Cumberland
Int: 35. S. Butler, 17. J. Hammond, 14. C. Michael, 9. W. Tasker, 32. T. Triffett
Emg: 37. J. Moseley

In: J. Moseley, S. Butler, T. Triffett
Out: J. Apted, W. O’Dwyer, G. Sproule

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY

B: 17. B. Deslandes, 33. P. Murtagh, 7. J. Smith
HB: 18. A. Fyfe, 31. J. Johnston, 15. C. Joyce
C: 6. R. Buckland, 28. A. Crossley, 10. M. Pescud
HF: 13. J. Gore, 29. H. Rowles, 11. J. Wingrave
F: 1. H. Oea, 12. E. Dawson, 3. M. Selsby
R: 32. M. Conroy, 14. M. Fraser, 5. C. Budarick
Int: 19. Z. Briggs, 22. A. Davies, 35. M. Newman, 8. R. Nicholls, 9. B. Reeves
Emg: 2. C. Daly, 26. H. Day, 20. E. Semaan

In: H. Day, Z. Briggs, C. Daly, P. Murtagh
Out: J. Brumley

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 3 – 06/04/2019
12:15pm
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 10. J. Le Grice , 33. C. Watts, 7. J. Voss
HB: 13. L. Butler, 29. F. McAsey, 31. J. Worrell
C: 6. M. Bergman, 5. R. Byrnes, 11. H. Ralphsmith
HF: 9. N. Burke, 12. C. Dean, 36. O. Lewis
F: 15. A. Hanrahan, 28. R. Bowman, 39. B. O’Leary
R: 32. J. Bell, 4. F. Maginness, 1. J. Mahony
Int: 43. J. Bowey, 42. L. Cleary, 30. A. Courtney, 19. J. Goddard, 74. H. Loughnan, 37. W. Mackay, 16. J. Mifsud, 45. A. Perkins, 44. L. Riley

In: L. Riley, A. Perkins, L. Cleary, H. Loughnan
Out: D. Hipwell

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

B: 52. N. Guiney, 49. H. Mastras, 34. V. Zagari
HB: 5. T. Bianco, 27. J. May, 39. R. McInnes
C: 9. W. Phillips, 3. J. Ayton-Delaney, 15. K. Schreiber
HF: 10. Z. Hart, 7. J. Robertson, 25. J. Ugle-Hagan
F: 29. F. Macrae, 30. S. Tucker, 23. D. Williams
R: 4. N. Bryan, 8. N. Anderson, 11. M. Rowell
Int: 33. N. Dempsey, 18. F. Elliot, 55. B. Fleming, 31. J. Hindson, 12. L. Jenkins, 24. B. Jepson, 19. D. Romero, 17. G. Varagiannis, 63. J. Woodfull

In: T. Bianco, B. Fleming, J. Hindson, Z. Hart, G. Varagiannis, J. Ugle-Hagan, D. Romero
Out: T. Graham, H. Mundy, L. Johnson, C. Oglethorpe

 

CALDER CANNONS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 3 – 06/04/2019
3:30pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

CALDER CANNONS

B: 23. C. Brand, 26. M. Fletcher, 46. S. Callander
HB: 5. C. Brown, 38. B. Newman, 33. T. Browning
C: 27. N. Gentile, 6. F. Lakey, 8. S. Ramsay
HF: 19. B. Rigoni, 21. H. Jones, 2. J. Sutton
F: 3. J. Cardillo, 30. J. Kemp, 16. J. Keeping
R: 36. P. Luckins, 10. H. Minton-Connell, 1. D. Mott
Int: 53. M. Abou-Eid, 49. M. Allison, 4. K. Baker, 14. S. Bell-Bartels, 29. C. Edwardes, 25. J. Martin, 42. F. O’Neill, 34. O. Sasalu, 32. M. Simpson

In: K. Baker, M. Abou-Eid, O. Sasalu, M. Allison, J. Martin, F. O’Neill
Out: T. Cartwright, J. O’Sullivan, B. Morgan

WESTERN JETS

B: 8. J. Kellett, 42. E. Acevski, 41. L. Rzanovski
HB: 20. D. Cassar, 28. K. Crimmins, 25. S. Johnson
C: 5. K. Borg, 29. B. Ryan, 17. N. Reynolds
HF: 31. S. Clifford, 18. E. Jeka, 19. J. Horo
F: 1. L. Failli, 45. A. Clarke, 44. A. Manton
R: 47. W. Kennedy, 24. J. Honey, 7. D. Andrews
Int: 34. E. Bentley, 13. D. Bolkas, 10. Z. Christofi, 37. L. Conway, 33. S. El-Hawli, 3. E. Ford, 36. C. Mackenzie-George, 21. P. Nesci, 4. L. Rocci

In: P. Nesci, S. Johnson, J. Horo, C. Mackenzie-George
Out: H. White

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 3 – 07/04/2019
10:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval – Bendigo

BENDIGO PIONEERS

B: 17. L. Fitzgerald, 34. W. Wallace, 14. M. Lias
HB: 52. J. Atley, 10. B. Vaz, 20. J. Schischka
C: 38. B. Rowles, 8. B. Kemp, 19. B. Worme
HF: 59. R. Clarke, 22. J. Treacy, 9. E. Roberts
F: 35. C. Fisher, 24. M. Johnson, 49. C. Vick
R: 11. A. Gundry, 31. R. Ironside, 4. T. Dow
Int: 13. K. Brown, 12. A. Cole, 1. S. Conforti, 5. B. Lee, 6. J. Rodi, 25. W. Shaw, 41. Z. Shelton, 21. R. Wilson

In: R. Clarke, K. Brown, B. Lee
Out: J. Dick-O’Flaherty

GIPPSLAND POWER

B: 10. L. Connolly, 22. Z. Reid, 13. T. Fitzpatrick
HB: 14. T. Hourigan, 12. B. Smith, 29. T. Rees
C: 37. H. Pepper, 4. S. Flanders, 15. R. Sparkes
HF: 20. H. Neocleous, 32. L. Williams, 9. W. Papley
F: 19. F. Phillips, 16. J. Smith, 2. C. Serong
R: 43. Z. Skinner, 11. K. Dunkley, 35. J. van der Pligt
Int: 30. T. Baldi, 7. S. Berry, 26. C. Doultree, 24. B. Maslen, 21. M. McGarrity, 5. F. Shields
Emg: 31. B. MacFarlane, 3. M. McGannon, 23. Z. Soutar

In: C. Doultree, S. Berry, T. Fitzpatrick, M. McGarrity, B. MacFarlane
Out: J. McGrath, C. Comben

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 3 – 07/04/2019
12:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval – Bendigo

DANDENONG STINGRAYS

B: 38. M. Gregory, 1. H. Berenger, 50. L. Williams
HB: 10. C. Gay, 20. S. De Koning, 46. D. Popa
C: 40. S. Merrick, 18. M. Riordan, 14. D. Smith
HF: 13. N. Heath, 52. C. Ellison, 42. J. Nanscawen
F: 11. E. Cahill, 24. B. Nyuon, 44. C. Weightman
R: 53. A. Bradtke, 45. L. Goonan, 39. J. Toner
Int: 26. J. Andrews, 47. W. Bravo, 27. K. George, 34. R. Orchard, 28. B. Schmidt, 33. H. Sullivan, 30. J. Thomas, 37. B. Welsh, 2. H. Young

In: J. Andrews, W. Bravo, B. Welsh, C. Ellison
Out: J. Stuart

GEELONG FALCONS

B: 20. W. Kilpatrick, 47. L. Peck, 21. L. Smith
HB: 38. S. Bourke, 40. J. Clark, 3. K. Rayner
C: 12. N. Gribble, 41. C. Stephens, 7. C. Harris
HF: 4. G. Bove, 55. M. Langan, 26. J. Mullen
F: 37. O. Henry, 49. M. Annandale, 30. H. Stubbings
R: 46. H. Walsh, 36. C. Sprague, 8. C. Lazzaro
Int: 50. J. Grigsby, 16. C. Ham, 17. S. Ham, 11. C. Karpala, 29. B. Miller, 43. J. Paatsch, 48. J. Paterson, 18. B. Reid, 19. B. Ritchie

In: J. Mullen, J. Paterson, J. Grigsby, C. Ham, B. Reid, J. Paatsch, B. Ritchie
Out: S. Christensen, W. Batson, C. Page, J. Dahlhaus

 

NORTHERN TERRITORY v. TASMANIA DEVILS

Round 3 – 07/04/2019
1:00pm
Holden Centre – Melbourne

NORTHERN TERRITORY

B: 25. D. Forbes, 31. J. Budarick, 20. B. Hodges
HB: 13. K. Kenny, 30. S. Foster, 32. M. McGregor
C: 5. L. Ferreira, 19. B. Jungfer, 7. B. Rusca
HF: 12. J. Box, 34. L. MacDonald, 29. W. Derksen
F: 23. M. Cooper, 36. M. Cumming, 17. M. Rioli Jnr
R: 28. J. Stevens, 27. B. O’Connell, 35. S. Cumming
Int: 4. R. Fejo, 22. B. Lake, 9. J. Patrick, 37. S. Richardson, 2. T. Woods

TASMANIA DEVILS

B: 35. L. Viney, 8. J. Steele, 17. P. Walker
HB: 13. S. Collins, 38. O. Shaw, 19. S. Lewis-Johnson
C: 22. N. Baker, 3. O. Davis, 7. M. McGuinness
HF: 48. J. Hennessy, 25. J. Callow, 31. J. Menzie
F: 20. W. Harper, 40. T. McGinniss, 27. R. Mansell
R: 9. J. Chaplin, 21. L. Gadomski, 1. M. O’Neill
Int: 45. R. Ashlin, 2. O. Burrows-Cheng, 30. B. Gordon, 39. S. Green, 4. W. Peppin, 50. C. Riethoff, 41. C. Stephenson, 43. J. Talbot

In: R. Ashlin, J. Talbot, R. Mansell, B. Gordon, J. Hennessy
Out: J. Clifford, R. Banks-Smith

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 3 – 07/04/2019
3:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval – Bendigo

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

B: 11. N. Irvine, 22. E. Baxter, 10. W. Quirk
HB: 12. L. Ash, 3. B. Kelly, 19. J. Boyer
C: 17. B. Ashley-Cooper, 5. C. Wild, 26. S. Durham
HF: 44. J. Hillary, 7. Z. Barzen, 28. J. O’Dwyer
F: 6. W. Chandler, 1. W. Christie, 20. E. Hollands
R: 36. L. Sykes, 38. D. Clarke, 9. J. Chalcraft
Int: 2. C. Byrne, 14. K. Chalcraft, 34. K. Davies, 27. A. Martin, 15. P. Parnell, 53. C. Wilson
Emg: 32. W. Bowden, 13. H. Kaak, 4. A. Shepherd

In: N. Irvine, A. Shepherd, L. Sykes, H. Kaak, C. Wilson, Z. Barzen
Out: K. Williamson, H. Beasley, E. Keogh, L. Fiore

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

B: 26. N. Nash, 19. N. Caris, 6. J. Tillig
HB: 8. J. Cleaver, 20. C. Giddings, 11. J. Dwyer
C: 35. C. Hinkley, 7. M. Martin, 9. I. Wareham
HF: 3. T. Mahony, 18. J. Wright, 13. J. Rantall
F: 41. F. Marris, 23. D. McEldrew, 30. I. Thomas
R: 29. P. Glanford, 14. L. Herbert, 4. J. Hill
Int: 17. E. Ajang, 22. M. Burgess, 27. M. Herbert, 5. M. Jorgensen, 33. R. O’Keefe, 12. R. Polkinghorne
Emg: 34. L. O’Brien, 39. R. Ranieri, 25. P. Rea

In: E. Ajang, R. O’Keefe, M. Burgess, L. O’Brien, R. Ranieri, M. Herbert, F. Marris, P. Rea
Out: J. Quick, C. Craig-Peters, I. Grant, H. Sharp, M. Lloyd

Weekend Wash-up: NAB League Boys – Round 1

THE first round of the NAB League Boys saw a number of impressive performances both individual and team across the weekend, with Sandringham Dragons storming to a triple-figure win, while Bendigo Pioneers got off to a great start with a win over Geelong Falcons. Other winners included reigning grand finalists, Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers, Western Jets and Gippsland Power.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 1.4 | 2.8 | 6.9 | 11.14 (80)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 5.2 | 7.6 | 10.8 | 13.8 (86)

By: Cameron Ross

GOALS:

GWV: M. Lloyd 3, J. Wright 2, M. Jorgensen 2, I. Thomas, M. Martin, T. Mahony, C. Craig-Peters
Dandenong: E. Cahill 2, B. Nyuon 2, C. Gay 2, H. Sullivan, L. Goonan, J. Toner, K. George, H. Berenger, C. Weightman, J. Nanscawen

BEST:

GWV: C. Craig-Peters, M. Martin, L. Herbert, J. Hill, M. Lloyd, R. Polkinghorne
Dandenong: L. Williams, J. Toner, C. Gay, J. Nanscawen, D. Popa, B. Schmidt

The Dandenong Stingrays held off a spirited GWV Rebels comeback to hold on by six points at MARS Stadium on Saturday. The Rebels could not handle the immense pressure from the Stingrays in the first quarter. Every time a Rebel got a metre of space they were closed down and hit hard by a Stingray. This gave the Dandenong boys a huge lift, and they shot out of the blocks. Jai Nanscawen and Bigoa Nyoun had huge starts to the game kicking early goals. Mitch Martin, playing unusually as a midfielder, and Cooper Craig-Peters were good for the Rebels but were unable to stop the Stingrays taking a four-goal lead into the first break. In the second quarter, the Rebels had plenty of opportunities to get themselves back into the game but simply could not convert. Dandenong kicked clear, and looked to be extremely comfortable and good for their lead at half time. However, in the third quarter, Matty Lloyd sparked the Rebels’ revival. He had an outstanding second half, winning a lot of the ball and converting opportunities. The second half saw Jed Hill also come into the game after a move into the midfield. The Stingray’s steadied the ship with a few late third quarter goals, but you got the sense that this was a different GWV Rebels. In 2018, the Rebels were notorious for their poor second halves. It was obvious in the final term, that this was ancient history. The Rebels continued to claw their way back into the game, and before you knew it, they were only a goal down. Hill had a huge opportunity to bring the Rebels back within a point with under a minute remaining, but the talented forward/midfielder pushed his kick and the Stingrays clung on for a six-point victory. Nanscawen was the best player on the field, he racked up 15 possessions and 1.3. Nyuon and Ned Cahill also played well for the Stingrays. Craig-Peters was terrific onball for the Rebels, and had a complete four-quarter game. Lloyd, as stated earlier, was also terrific in the second half and played an important role in his side’s comeback. The Rebels are at home again this week, taking on the Falcons at Mars, while the Stingrays play the Gippsland Power in Morwell.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 5.4 | 8.7 | 13.10 | 19.13 (127)
CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 0.4 | 1.8 | 1.12 (18)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Sandringham: C. Dean 5, R. Bowman 3, J. Mifsud 2, J. Bell 2, R. Byrnes, A. Hanrahan, F. Maginness, J. Mahony, N. Burke, A. Courtney, B. O’Leary.
Calder: S. Ramsay.

BEST:

Sandringham: R. Byrnes, R. Bowman, C. Dean, O. Lewis, F. Maginness, C. Watts
Calder: B. Newman, C. Brown, T. Browning, S. Callander, N. Gentile, S. Ramsay

In the first commentary streamed game of the new NAB League Boys competition, Sandringham Dragons stormed past Calder Cannons at RSEA Park. The Dragons never looked like losing in the 19.13 (127) to 1.12 (18) victory, booting five goals to zero in the first term, and by half-time had 55 points on the board. It only got worse after half-time for the Cannons, and while Sam Ramsay managed to kick a classy goal from the boundary line, Sandringham piled on another 11 goals to run away with the match by 109 points and stamp their authority on the competition. The Dragons had 32 scoring shots to 13, with the Cannons managing just one major for the contest. Charlie Dean booted five majors, while former Stingray, Riley Bowman added three goals. Jacquin Mifsud and Jack Bell booted two goals apiece, with Bowman and Dean named among the best with Dragons captain, Ryan Byrnes. For the Cannons, Calder captain Brodie Newman tried his best to stem the flow across half-back, while Curtis Brown and Tye Browning were also among the best in the heavy defeat.

 

EASTERN RANGES 3.0 | 4.1 | 5.3 | 7.5 (47)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.3 | 6.9 | 10.13 | 12.16 (88)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Eastern: L. Gawel 2, J. Tilly, J. Rossiter, T. Garner, L. Stapleton, B. McCormack.
Oakleigh: N. Anderson 4, T. Graham, J. May, C. Oglethorpe, H. Mundy, N. Dempsey, D. Williams, M. Rowell, S. Tucker

BEST:

Eastern: L. Stapleton, C. Hirst, Z. Pretty, C. Downie, J. Gilbee, M. Zalac
Oakleigh: N. Anderson, N. Guiney, W. Phillips, N. Bryan, T. Bianco, K. Schreiber

In the second game of the double header at RAMS Arena, Eastern Ranges put up a fight before eventually going down to one of the premiership favourites in Oakleigh Chargers. The Ranges booted three goals in the opening term to lead by three points at the first break, before the Chargers hit back in the second term with four goals to one, albeit with inaccuracy plaguing them. They booted 6.9 in the first half, and then 6.7 in the second half, finishing the game strongly and holding the Ranges to just three goals in the last half. Noah Anderson was the clear best on ground with four goals from 26 disposals, while Lachlan Gawel booted two goals for the Ranges. Nick Guiney, Will Phillips and Nick Bryan were named among the best for the Chargers, while Lachlan Stapleton and Cody Hirst were impressive for the Ranges. While the loss would be disappointing, the fact Eastern was able to match it with one of the top teams will give them plenty of confidence going forward.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 6.6 | 9.9 | 9.12 (66)
GIPPSLAND POWER 2.1 | 6.3 | 9.4 | 10.9 (69)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Murray: C. Wilson 3, W. Christie 2, K. Chalcraft, C. Byrne, J. Hillary, E. Hollands.
Gippsland: K. Dunkley 3, H. Pepper 2, J. Smith 2, M. McGannon, F. Phillips, S. Berry.

BEST:

Murray: C. Wilson, B. Kelly, D. Clarke, L. Ash, S. Durham, E. Hollands
Gippsland: K. Dunkley, S. Berry, R. Sparkes, B. Maslen, S. Flanders, T. Hourigan

Gippsland Power survived a scare from a plucky Murray Bushrangers in a thrilling contest at RAMS Arena on Sunday. The Bushrangers led at every break but never looked entirely comfortable, with the largest margin at the break standing at just five points. Digging deep in the final term with a blustery gale behind them, the Power found a way through to boot the winning goal amidst five behinds, while the Bushrangers could only manage three behinds for the term. The game was an exciting first round game, as Bushrangers’ co-captain Cam Wilson and former Oakleigh Charger and Sydney Swans father-son prospect, Kyle Dunkley both booting three goals for their respective sides. Wilson was named the best for the Bushrangers, while Ben Kelly and Lachlan Ash‘s work in defence was superb. For the Power, Sam Berry stood up throughout the contest, while Ryan Sparkes was crucial in the back half, as was Sam Flanders in the front half. Josh Smith and Harrison Pepper benefited with two goals each inside 50, while Will Christie managed two up the other end. Both sides had plenty to take out of the contest ahead of Round 2 clashes this weekend.

 

GEELONG FALCONS 0.1 | 4.2 | 6.4 | 6.7 (43)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 6.1 | 9.5 | 11.5 | 13.8 (86)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

Geelong: H. Stubbings 2, C. Sprague, M. Annandale, C. Page, N. Gribble
Bendigo: C. Vick 2, M. Johnson 2, T. Dow 2, W. Shaw, J. Dick-O”Flaherty, R. Ironside, R. Wilson, J. Rodi, C. Fisher, E. Roberts

BEST:

Geelong: J. Clark, C. Lazzaro, J. Dahlhaus, S. Christensen, S. Bourke
Bendigo: R. Wilson, J. Schischka, W. Wallace, T. Dow, J. Rodi, B. Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers made a perfect start to its NAB League season, toppling the Geelong Falcons by 43 points in Colac on Sunday. Signs were ominous early as the travelling side were nothing short of clinical in front of goal, piling on six majors while keeping a shell-shocked Falcons goalless. The home side duly responded after the first break with four goals to bridge the gap, but it was almost all undone as Bendigo again clicked into gear with three of their own. As the third term marked a deadlock with two goals apiece, the Pioneers finished off the job with two goals to nil in the final stanza to double their opponent’s total. Thomson Dow was outstanding for the winners with 28 disposals and two goals, forming a formidable midfield duo with Brodie Kemp (22 disposals, five clearances). Cooper Vick and Max Johnson each joined Dow as multiple goal kickers, while Harry Stubbings was Geelong’s only player to do so. Co-captains Cooper Stephens (22 disposals, four clearances) and Jesse Clark (24 disposals, seven marks) were the best Falcons, with 19-year-old Charlie Sprague also showing signs of his talent with 20 touches and a goal. Both sided face another all-country clash next round, with Bendigo travelling to face Murray, and Geelong heading to Ballarat to face Greater Western Victoria.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 5.3 | 9.5 | 11.7 (73)
WESTERN JETS 3.3 | 5.3 | 6.5 | 12.8 (80)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

Northern: R. Sturgess 2, J. D’Intinosante 2, L. Mcmahon 2, S. Brazier, S. Philp, Z. Costello, B. Nikolovski, A. Carafa
Western: A. Manton 3, A. Clarke 2, L. Failli 2, E. Jeka, K. Borg, J. Honey, S. El-Hawli, E. Ford

BEST:

Northern: R. Sturgess, N. Cox, B. Nikolovski, J. Davies, S. Philp, R. Gardner
Western: J. Kellett, A. Manton, E. Acevski, B. Ryan, J. Honey, K. Borg

In what was a close encounter it was the Western Jets that came away with a seven-point victory against the Northern Knights. The Jets skipped out to a handy lead in the first half of the game but the Knights fought back to take control in the second but were unable to finish it off, falling narrowly in the dying minutes of the game. Ryan Sturgess led the way for the Knights with his two goals and impact in and around the stoppages, while his Western Jets counterpart Josh Kellett accumulated plenty of touches. Archie Manton made his presence felt on the scoreboard with his three majors for the Jets, leading up at the footy and clunking some big marks. Josh D’Intinsonate played his part for the Knights chipping in with his two goals, while Adam Carafa was handy around the contest and slotted a major to keep the Knights in the game.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 1

IN the opening round of the NAB League Boys competition, we took a look at all six games with our writers giving their opinion on how some of the players raised by respective Talent Managers as ones to watch, performed in the first round. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels 11.14 (80) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 13.8 (86)

By Cameron Ross

GVW: 

#4 Jed Hill

Quiet first half for his standards. Really struggled to get into the game early but once he was moved into the midfield and got his hands on the footy, he had a great second half. This is important for Hill, as he proved last year he can play forward, but didn’t get many opportunities in the midfield. Although the conditions were not conducive to accurate goal kicking, Hill would be disappointed with his 0.3 return. Still, his 17 touches, most of which would have come in the second half, were enough to get him in the Rebels’ best.


#7 Mitch Martin

The Rebels seem to be trying new things with some players, and one of those looks to be Mitch Martin’s move to midfield. My scouting notes for Rebels games last year pumped up Martin’s natural forward ability, but like Hill, Martin needs to prove that he is not a “one trick pony”. He spent the majority of the game on ball, but was floating back to help the defence often, and starting possession chains from the back. Martin was somewhat sloppy with his possession throughout the game, but showed some glimpses of his versatility. He kicked an important goal in the third quarter when the Rebels started their surge, and was one of the Rebel’s best on the day.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Best player for the Rebels on the day. Lloyd has a tendency to float in and out of games, but when the Rebels needed him, he stood up. His second half was the best half of footy that I have seen from him. A turning point for him came after a questionable decision to banana a goal from five metres out that missed horribly. Instead of dropping his head, he got himself into a good position, and made up for it kicking a goal that breathed life into the Rebels comeback. He was the best player on the ground in the final quarter. Kicked two late back to back goals to bring the Rebels within a goal, but simply ran out of time. Put simply, he proved his worth.

 

Dandenong:

#11 Ned Cahill

Smart player. Impressive piece of play in the first quarter led Nick Caris who was watching the man, under the ball, kick went over the top and he ran on to kick an easy goal. Cahill was dangerous all day, but his first half was sensational. Will kick a lot of goals this year as a permanent forward.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

There are big wraps on Nyuon, and this round would have given his draft chances a massive boost. His stats don’t tell the full story. He was super impressive throughout the whole game. Kicked a terrific goal from the pocket at the Wendouree end, and another goal that was just as good out of the centre square. Nyoun won the tap, got the ball back and strolled out of the centre kicking it from 50 out and celebrating with his teammates. Nyoun also showed a willingness to put his head over the ball and win the contested possession. Might need a bit of work on his set shot, but he really looks to be a player in the making.


#42 Jai Nanscawen

In my opinion, Nanscawen was the best four-quarter player on the ground on Saturday. He is really classy, and seems to be natural as both a forward and a midfielder. He seems to have a good work rate also. There were a couple of times where he worked from the wing, got the ball, hit the target and worked to get the ball back in the forward line. His set shot really let him down though. He kicked 1.3 but some of these were really gettable chances. Three goals and 15 touches next to his name would have looked incredible, yet I’m sure he will make up for this and more.

 

 

Sandringham Dragons 19.13 (127) defeated Calder Cannons 1.12 (18)

By Ed Pascoe 

Sandringham:

#1 Jack Mahony  

Mahony had a quiet game for his standards finishing with 12 disposals and a goal, although he was busy through the midfield early in the game. His crumbing work of packs was a standout with one really nice crumb in the second quarter although his kick would let him down going inside 50. Mahony’s goal came from a great bit of play using his body well to take a contested mark against a taller opponent and then nailing the set shot. Mahony was a hard worker off the ball with six tackles to his name. 

#4 Finn Maginness 

Maginness was one of Sandringham’s standouts through the midfield, he finished with 19 disposals and one goal which came from a classy left foot snap in the first quarter. Maginness played with intent through the middle he attacked the ball hard and tackled hard leading his side in tackles with six. Maginness was clean at stoppages often winning first possession and giving off a clean handball and he would often follow up his work to be involved again, the only slight concern was his kicking at times but overall aa very polished game through the midfield.

#5 Ryan Byrnes 

The Sandringham captain lead from the front with a well balanced game through the midfield, his first quarter was strong attacking the ball hard at stoppages and using his clean hands in close to release the ball to his teammate. Byrnes was also able to hit the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter with a classy running goal showing a turn of foot to slot the goal, his speed was also on show that quarter at stoppages where he met the ball at pace to give himself time to dispose either by hand or foot, he had a complete game with 5 marks, four tackles and five inside 50s. 

 #11 Hugo Ralphsmith 

Ralphsmith didn’t have a huge game by his standards but his class was on show whenever he was in possession rarely wasting a possession by hand and foot, he showed good vision kicking inside 50 with a kick to the fat side of the ground in the second quarter. He did not hit the scoreboard as hoped he had an unlucky miss with a running shot at goal in the third quarter and his best work came from setting up others with his clean ball use. 

#12 Charlie Dean 

Dean was the dominant big man on the ground kicking five goals, his first came from a nice mark and snap goal in the pocket, not many of his goals came from contested marks with his best contested mark unfortunately resulting in a missed opportunity. Dean’s 3rd goal was a good diving mark and equally a good lead and he would slot the set shot and he would get away from his opponent tin the last quarter kicking two simple goals from getting into space and slotting this set shots. Dean’s clean hands at ground level and over his head where his standout features. 

#28 Riley Bowman 

The first goal of the game came from Bowman laying a great tackle winning a free kick and slotting the goal. Later that quarter he would take a lead up mark but miss the set shot but he didn’t make the same mistake in the second quarter slotting his 2nd goal. His third goal came in the last quarter with a quality snap showing he could kick goals from many situations. 

#29 Fischer McAsey 

McAsey was everywhere in the first quarter intercepting at will, he showed good composure under pressure with a nice kick and even won a ground ball against a smaller and quicker opponent. McAsey was a standout in defence with his intercept work, disposal by hand and foot and ability to get in the right spot and set up his teams attack from defence. 

#30 Andrew Courtney 

Courtney had a solid game in the ruck, he managed to hit the scoreboard in the first quarter taking a fantastic contested intercept mark before earning a 50m penalty and slotting the set shot goal. He finished the game with 12 disposals which was impressive for a ruckman considering the low possession counts for the game. His tap work was really good especially in the third quarter where he gave to teammates Byrnes and Maginness on a platter. 

#31 Josh Worrell  

Worrell did not get much of the ball, with 11 disposals but his presences felt like he was more involved especially with his tackling where he tackled with real intent and would be equal leader for tackles for his side with six. Worrell played a new role on the wing showed some nice run and carry and his kicking was also solid. 

#32 Jack Bell 

Bell had a quiet game but still managed to kick two goals both coming in the second half, his best came in the last quarter where he would take a fantastic contested mark. He only had the four disposals but provided good ruck relief for Courtney finishing its 20 hitouts and also three tackles showing his work after rucking. 

 

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott 

Mott was one of Calder most efficient players in the first half, he was hardly flustered through the midfield often staying composed and hitting his targets by hand and foot, he had. A terrific pass inside 50 in the second quarter but his entires in the second half where poor going straight to the opposition who had set up well down back. Mott’s standout feature was his composure with the ball and agility to make the right decisions when his teammates would fumble and panic, his follow up work lead to him being one if his sides top ball winners with 18.

#8 Sam Ramsay 

It took until the third quarter for Calder to kick their first goal and it came through Ramsay with a classy running goal in the pocket. He was solid down back and on the wing in the first half but he really started to shine in the second half given more of a role in the centre, he lead his side for disposals with 19 where he often hit the target with is sharp left boot, despite the big margin he never dropped his head and kept running till the very end. 

#38 Brodie Newman 

Newman was one of the key pillars for Calder and without their captain the margin could have been even worse, he took some great intercept marks and his ball use was also very good. He finished the game with 21 disposals and eight marks, he has five rebounds and it was his rebound work that really caught the eye often being in the right place at the right time and making a good decision coming out of defence. 

 

Eastern Ranges 7.5 (47) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 12.16 (88)

By Ed Pascoe

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Stapleton toiled hard all day through the midfield often on the bottom of packs looking to win the contested ball, he also tackled hard and played with intent finishing with 16 disposals and a game-high eight tackles. He would also hit the scoreboard, following up his own hard work to get the ball back tuck it under his arm and then straighten up to kick a lovely running goal. In a bad day for Eastern he was a player that could hold his head high purely on his effort throughout the day.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter had a quiet game up forward where he finished with only the one goal which came in the first quarter, taking a nice mark and slotting the set shot. Rossiter struggled to have much impact after that finishing with only six disposals, two marks and one tackle. The talented youngster will no doubt improve his output against the Western Jets.

#17 Cody Hirst

Hirst, despite his size and light frame, was the most fearless and courageous player – often going in hard at the contest and putting on pressure. Hirst lead his team for disposals with 20, and he worked hard to get the ball forward with three inside 50s. Hirst was one of his teams cleanest players not only in picking up the ball but also disposing by hand or foot, he did not kick any goals but his hard work set up many opportunities.

 

Oakleigh:

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

Ayton-Delaney is back again as a 19-year-old for Oakleigh and he finds himself playing through the midfield after playing mostly in defence last year. Ayton-Delaney was busy in the first half winning plenty of the ball and using it well by hand and foot, he was not afraid to lay a tackle and won a nice free kick in the second quarter with a tenacious effort. He continued to impress in the second half working well in transition, his last quarter was solid with a fantastic rove at a stoppage and was unlucky to miss a running shot at goal in that play. He finished the game as the top disposal winner with 32 while also showing his ground coverage with four inside 50s and five rebounds.

#4 Nick Bryan

Bryan worked well in the ruck and gave his teammates first use, he was not a liability around the ground either with some nice decisions made by hand. He finished the game with 10 disposals and 18 hitouts which were mostly effective, his work in general play I thought was most impressive where he showed clean hands and good decision making.

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was mopping everything up down back using his superior reading of the play and skill to cause havoc for Easter. Bianco’s skill was on show with some lovely opposite foot kicks and even a nice opposite hand handball which you don’t see often from young players. Bianco would finish the game with 22 disposals despite copping a nasty knock in a tackle which sent him off the ground to take no further part early in the last quarter, he had just moved into the midfield where he was impressive showing clean hands and trademark skills.

#8 Noah Anderson

Anderson was a force through the midfield in the first quarter and he kicked one of the better goals you will see at Under 18 level where he won a great clearance on the forward flank and would then follow up and win the ball on the opposite flank before taking a run, taking on a player and kicking a freakish running goal. He would later rest forward and kick a goal over the back in the 2nd quarter. Anderson spent more time forward in the 2nd half adding another two goals, one as a nice dribble goal and the other a long goal off one step. His midfield work would continue to be all class with his positioning, talk and creative kicking really standing out. He finished the game with an impressive 26 disposals, six inside 50s and four goals.

#11 Matthew Rowell

Rowell was the link up man for the first half using his turn of pace and quick decision making to move the ball up and follow his work, he had a few iffy kicks but a really nice pass in the second quarter lead to his team kicking a goal. Rowell went into the guts in the 3rd quarter and he had the ball on a string, his ability to stand up in a tackle and give the ball off at the right time was elite and his run and follow up work was agin on show. He had a well rounded game with 21 disposals, five tackles and a nice running goal which he kicked in the last quarter.

#23 Dylan Williams

Williams struggled to get into the game in the first half, his first disposal was a kick on the full in the first quarter although he would redeem himself with a much better kick inside 50 in the second quarter. Williams was put into the guts in the third quarter and instantly made an impact, getting multiple possessions and winning plenty of clearances to show off his speed and power. He would later have a nice run in the pocket before he did an unselfish pass to the hotspot which he would have usually had a shot himself, but later be rewarded taking a nice lead up mark and slotting a nice long set shot goal. He had another nice bit of play with a clearance in the last quarter where he faked his opponent before passing off to a teammate inside 50. He managed 17 disposals in the second half and finished the game with six inside 50s.

#27 Josh May

May was smooth on the wing often clean at ground level despite his 195cm frame, he made good decisions and positioned himself well around the ball. This would be a common theme for his game looking good and composed with the ball and his work below his knees again solid but he dropped an easy mark in the third quarter and had little impact in the last quarter, although he did have a bandage on his head. He finished with 10 disposals and a goal which came from a nice set shot.

 

Murray Bushrangers 9.12 (66) defeated by Gippsland Power 10.9 (69)

By Peter Williams

Murray Bushrangers:

#12 Lachlan Ash

The classy co-captain was terrific throughout the game and one of Murray’s top performers across the four quarters. Ash was Murray’s top ball winner, and he also laid some fierce tackles. There were a number of impressive highlights for the game, including running forward at full speed and having the ability to kick laterally to a teammate in the second term. His composure in defence and coming off half-back was noticeable in a game that had plenty of pressure around the ball carrier. In the third term Ash gave away a 50m penalty for late contact and his frustration saw a second 50m awarded. For a small patch his opponents could sense the frustation and tried to rile him up, but he got back to business taking some important intercept marks and setting the game up.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Started strongly and had a big second term rotating between half-forward and midfield. His ability to move around at stoppages is terrific and he has quick hands, combining with brother Kade at one stage moving down the middle, taking a bounce before quickly giving off the handball slightly before copping a bump. A quieter second half, but a solid return having his first game for points since injury ended his year late last year.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Worked hard in the midfield throughout the game and had the first clearance of hte game by sidestepping an opponent and kicking long. He has good defensive running, winning the ball at half-back or on the wing and often kicking long. He had a chance in the first term on goal but just missed and eventually finished the game with three behinds. Much like a number of players, was quieter in the second half after a bigger first half, but was important in between the arcs. Boyer won a fair share of contested possessions and sent the ball long inside 50 and in windy conditions his ability to extract from a stoppage was important.

#20 Elijah Hollands

The bottom-age talent showed his class early inside 50, winning a number of posessions on the outside and using his long kicking ability and was one of the top ball winnersin the first half. He missed a few opportunities to capitalise from set shots, finishing the game with 1.3, but he timed his leads well, protecting the drop zone with his timing. He was quieter in the second half, but his first half showed the potential he has not only as a forward, but further up the ground as well.

 

Gippsland Power:

#4 Sam Flanders

Last year Flanders was predominantly a forward who pinched in the midfield, and in Round 1 the roles were reversed with Flanders mostly getting his hands dirty at centre bounces. He rested at full-forward on some occasions, but constantly won the ball in the middle of the ground or on the wing and bombed long inside 50. He set up Gippsland’s first goal of the day with a nicely weighted kick to Josh Smith on the lead. One of the Power’s more influential players on the day, Flanders also laid a number of tackles and put defensive pressure on the ball carrier. A strong performance from the AFL Academy member.

#11 Kyle Dunkley

The overager from Oakleigh crossed to the Power this season with the Sale local having a big influence on proceedings. His first half was impressive as any, kicking three goals and rotating between midfield and forward. The potential Sydney father-son spent more time in the middle in the second half and finished the game with 21 touches and 3.1. What was impressive about a couple of his goals were they came from long range off a couple of steps and showed when given time and space he can be damaging. He has been able to add some more muscle to his frame this season which allowed him to play more inside, something he was not afforded at Oakleigh due to the strength at the club last year. Despite starting at most centre bounces, Dunkley was able to get to the outside and distribute long, something which helped get his team on top. Dunkley was deservedly named best for the Power in a promising performance.

#12 Brock Smith

After a quieter start in the match, the Power captained put in a huge last quarter to help haul his side over the line when Murray was attacking fiercely. Along with Ryan Sparkes, Smith was able to show composure in tricky weather conditions and showed good hands in defence under pressure. While he might not have been as prominent early, he got into good positions and applied pressure when required before really stepping up late in the game.

#16 Josh Smith

Rotated between full-forward and ruck, kicking the first goal of the game through a good lead, mark and easy set shot. He kicked his second in the next quarter before missing a chance at his third from a relatively straight forward shot on goal. His presenting and strength overhead was very impressive and proved to be a handful when he had a run at it. In the ruck, he gave a chop out and is more dominant as that full-forward leading out. Did his job with a couple of goals and probably should have been three, proving he will be a key target inside 50 this year for the Power.

 

Geelong Falcons 6.7 (43) defeated by Bendigo Pioneers 13.8 (86)

By Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#1 Jay Dahlhaus

Dahlhaus put in a typical shift, using his pace to zip around the forward half and lay a bunch of tackles. With five inside 50s for the game, the diminutive forward found space around the arc and created scoring opportunities at a good rate. His creativity and damage going forward by foot made up for not hitting the scoreboard himself, but he should look to build on his haul of 12 disposals.

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

The bottom-ager was quiet early on, but built well into the game as the Falcons midfield began to break even after quarter time. Attending a wealth of centre bounces, the sub-180cm midfielder already has a sound clearance game and reads the taps well. Lazzaro also showed glimpses of decent vision to find targets long by foot, and had a good passage of play in the third term streaming through the corridor with a one-two play.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Marking his Falcons return with midfield minutes as promised, Sprague looked comfortable at the centre bounces and won a few nice clearances in the first half. But as was the case throughout last year, he did his best work while employed in the forward half – despite only finishing with the one major. Sprague used his body well to take some strong one-on-one marks and shrug his opponents when taking the game on. He could well have finished with multiple goals but could not quite find an end product to his work. A memorable highlight was his contested mark coming from behind a pack in the third quarter, which we should see more of this season.

#40 Jesse Clark

While the co-captain was his side’s leading ball winner with 24 disposals, a lot of his influence came on the back of the Falcons defence being under the pump for large chunks of the game. Clark rebounded typically well though and was effective by foot, providing a cool head in the back half. Plenty to build on for the Falcons leader.

#41 Cooper Stephens

The coaches looked to have provided onlookers with a mouth-watering match-up as Stephens lined up on Brodie Kemp in the first few centre bounces, but he received plenty of attention from other Bendigo mids during the contest. The co-captain picked up from where he left off last year, covering the ground well to impact the stoppages, balls inside 50, and defensive rebounds. With exactly half of his 22 disposals being handballs, Stephens’ typically brilliant use by hand stood out early on and became a feature. He showed good intent in-close, and while is not the quickest off the mark, tried his best to burst from the contest to add to his inside game.

#46 Henry Walsh

The bottom-aged ruckman took on Aaron Gundry and more than held his own over four quarters with a game-high 19 hitouts. A surprising part of Walsh’s game was his ground work, following up for five clearances among his 11 disposals. While he makes some typical ruckman-like mistakes, there is plenty of promise for the brother of Carlton gun, Sam.

 

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

Conforti was good in bursts, and contributed well to Bendigo’s early onslaught. The bottom-ager took the game on and while he was caught holding the ball in the opening quarter, was not deterred. The 173cm Pioneer also took an impressive mark sitting under the ball in defensive 50, but showed the most when zipping through traffic with twists and turns.

#4 Thomson Dow

Dow was arguably Bendigo’s best, offering a huge amount of drive going forward and creating a number of scoring opportunities in an awesome first half. A well weighted looping handball in the first term yielded a goal, and Dow’s best work was done coming into the forward 50. With a game-high 28 disposals, Dow won the ball at will and was strong in the stoppages, adding goals to his game as well with two – the last of which came after a strong contested mark on the siren, and his teammates got around him.

#8 Brodie Kemp

In combination with Dow, Kemp was terrific at stoppages and broke the lines well to damage the Falcons going forward. Kemp’s steps through traffic and ability to dispose effectively with opponents near made him crucial to Bendigo’s form, with the second term his clear best. His contested marking was also handy, looking strong under duress and pulling in two for the day. There’s not much to say that won’t be said throughout the year, hopefully Kemp continues to show his silk on the ball.

#20 James Schischka

The smooth-moving rebounder was an asset across half-back for the Pio’s, moving past opponents and kicking well to set his side up. Schischka was trusty by foot and played the typical quarterback role, accumulating with ease through the course of the game and linking up through the corridor dangerously at times.

 

Northern Knights 11.7 (73) defeated by Western Jets 12.8 (80)

By Taylah Melki

Northern Knights:

#1 Lachlan Potter

Potter showcased his electric speed throughout the game and was a real key player down back, credit to his ability to read the play. He rebounded out of defence and used his speed to run through the middle of the ground to open up the field of play up and then buttered up with a good outlet kick to a leading player. He contested hard to win the ball and impressed with his follow up work across the ground. Potter was solid throughout the game and showcased his good sidestep and evasive skills to manoeuvre around his opponent. He applied a really strong tackle in the second quarter to win himself a holding the ball call and worked tirelessly to stop the attacking flow of his opponents.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

He had a few good passages of play in the second quarter, pressing hard inside forward 50 to create scoring opportunities. D’Intinosante roved the packs well and contributed with a few handy tips and handballs off to passing teammates. He took a big contested mark in the third quarter just outside the goal square, quickly played on and dribbled a goal through to push the lead out for the Knights. He read the flight of the ball well and got into strong positioning to apply attacking pressure and used his long kick to move the ball forward and try and trap the footy inside.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner was involved early in the contest, getting hands to ball and working well at the stoppages. He made his presence felt around the contest and was clean out of the centre bounce helping to propel the ball forward for the Knights. He showcased his footy smarts breaking free and going for a shot at goal but was unable to capitalise only registering a behind.

#8 Adam Carafa

Roved the packs well and got into a good position to steady and snap at goal to keep the Knights in the game in the second quarter. Carafa was constantly involved in the contest flicking out quick handballs at the stoppages and using his footy smarts to hit up leading targets. He contributed to the scoreboard as well, nailing a good goal in the second quarter.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess impressed for the Knights throughout the game with his hard work at the contest, running ability and clever use of the footy. He was clean and effective with ball in hand and showcased his good vision and footy smarts to know when to go across the face of the field and open the ground up. His clever kicks into space allowed teammates to run onto it and create more options. He displayed his strong hands and took a heap of impressive contested marks throughout the game. He ran hard and attacked the footy at the stoppages, releasing teammates with good handballs. Sturgess kicked a goal from directly in front about 30 meters out credit to his good lead up at the footy and showcased his strong hands to take a nice contested mark in the forward 50. He slotted his second goal of the game in the fourth quarter striking the ball nicely.  

#13 Sam Philp

Showed good composure and footy smarts to gather the ball, break away from the pack, steady and then kick for goal. Philp impressed with his quick hands around the contest and ability to find a target throughout the game. He worked tirelessly across the field and applied plenty of pressure on his opponents to try and win the ball back for his side.

 

Western Jets: 

#7 Daly Andrews

He is strong around the hips showcasing his ability to shrug off tackles and kept the arms free on multiple occasions to dish off a handball to a teammate. Andrews displayed his clean hands in and around the contest and showed good vision to look beyond the congestion and find a teammate. He laid plenty of strong tackles in the defensive end and was never from the contest working hard to win the footy. Had a really impressive passage of play in the fourth quarter, taking the ball out of the centre and then running to the 50 nailing a piercing kick to a teammate in front of goal. Bombed the ball forward from a stoppage on the wing and helped to propel the Jets forward in the last term.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Read the flight of the ball well and showed his ability to track the footy on the ground inside forward 50 to trap it in. Jeka nailed his only goal in the second quarter after shrugging off a tackle and recovering to slot a major from about five meters out. He worked hard to win the footy and stay in the contest whenever the ball came into the forward 50 for the Jets.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Laid a strong tackle in the first quarter to win a free kick for his side and pushed hard to create a lead and link up play across the field. He impressed with his clean hands and good vision to hit up teammates and applied plenty of both defensive and attacking pressure on the opposition. Cassar was constantly involved in the contest working hard around the stoppages to move the ball into space.

#24 Josh Honey

Showed real class in the fourth quarter to gather the ball, go for a run along the boundary line and then slot an impressive goal on a tricky angle. Honey impressed with his clean hands, ability to hit up teammates and vision to kick into space. He proved to be a real ball magnet and was an important link up player across the field.