Tag: Maurice Rioli jnr

AFL Draft Watch: Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

IN the midst of football’s long-awaited return, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020, or are bolting into draft contention. While plenty has changed between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Oakleigh Chargers and NT Thunder prospect, Maurice Rioli Jnr. He is the son of late Richmond great, Maurice Rioli, and is eligible to be taken by the Tigers in this year’s draft under the father-son rule. As his pedigree would suggest, the 18-year-old is an excitement machine out on the field, boasting electric pace, sharp skills, and an uncanny knack of finding the goals. While he stands at just 173cm, Rioli is not afraid to get stuck in, boasting a high contested possession rate and applying smothering defensive pressure as he rotates forward through the midfield.

Having moved down to Victoria this year to complete his studies at Scotch College, Rioli was also keen to run out for Oakleigh in the now-scrapped NAB League competition. Nonetheless, he remains one of the sole prospects based in the Southern state to have completed a season of football in 2020, after he helped St Mary’s qualify for this year’s NTFL Grand Final in a memorable post-season.

PLAYER PAGE:

Maurice Rioli Jnr
Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies

DOB: September 1, 2002

Height: 173cm
Weight: 73kg

Position: Small Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Speed, smarts, goal sense, defensive pressure, creativity
Improvements: Consistency/sustained impact

2019 NAB League averages: 3 games | 11.3 disposals | 1.3 marks | 6.3 tackles | 3.0 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

>> Feature: Maurice Rioli Jnr

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 60cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 62cm/78cm
Speed (20m): 2.98 seconds
Agility: 8.11 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.5

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 NAB League Round 3 vs. Tasmania Devils

By: Alex Gibson

The way this bottom-ager plays, it is no surprise he is a Rioli. His presence of silky skill was complimented beautifully by his dashing speed. Although he did not have huge numbers, his possessions were damaging thanks to his precise vision and ability to lower his eyes. A run-down tackle at the start of the third quarter got the crowd up on its feet.

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Tasmania

By: Michael Alvaro

The latest of the Rioli clan, Maurice has all of the traits you would expect given his pedigree. While he did not find a heap of the ball in the forward half, he looked dangerous in possession and started the game off perfectly with a snap after slipping his opponent. While he is still very raw, Rioli has plenty of talent to work with and is not afraid to pull off a party trick at full pace. At 173cm, he is not quite yet ready for a spot in the midfield, but was given a run at a centre bounce in the third quarter.

Featured Image: Maurice Rioli Jnr in action for St Mary’s | Source: Keri Megelus/News Corp Australia

>> 2020 AFL National Draft Combine List
>> 2020 Allies U18s Squad Prediction

>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> July 2020 Power Rankings
>> September 2020 Power Rankings

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Charlie Byrne
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden
Joel Jeffrey
Patrick Walker

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Brayden Cook
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tariek Newchurch
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Henry Smith
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Oliver Henry
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jake Bowey
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Max Heath
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Jack Carroll
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Zane Trew
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

Dragons, Falcons lead the way as AFL announces 2020 Draft Combine list

NINETY six AFL Draft hopefuls will test themselves in their respective states over the next couple of months with the 2020 NAB AFL Draft Combine List released by the AFL today. Of the 95 players, those who played in either the Under 17s All-Stars game on Grand Final Day last year, or representing Australia against New Zealand, have also been included. The remaining players were formed after all 18 AFL clubs were asked to nominated 15 players outside the automatic entries, with those who received four or more club nominations invited to test.

Of the 96 players nominated, Vic Metro leads the way with 25, ahead of Vic Country (22) and South Australia (20). Western Australia is next with 12, followed by Queensland (six), New South Wales (four), Tasmania (four) and Northern Territory (three). For those in the Northern Territory – Joel Jeffrey and Brodie Lake as well as Queenslanders Alex Davies and Max Pescud – the Gold Coast Suns can take them outside the AFL Draft. Among others to be included are father-son prospects, Maurice Rioli Jnr (Richmond), Luke Edwards (Adelaide) and Taj Schofield (Port Adelaide), as well as a host of highly touted Next-Generation Academy members.

In terms of club representation, the Sandringham Dragons and Geelong Falcons have the most nominations with eight apiece, one ahead of Oakleigh Chargers (seven). The next highest are a number of clubs with four players testing, including Calder Cannons, Northern Knights, Murray Bushrangers, Glenelg, South Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens. Four Gold Coast and Brisbane Academy players are also testing, with two Sydney and one GIANTS Academy players testing.

Tasmania will be the first state to hold its Draft Combine, starting on September 21. Following them, South Australia and Western Australia will test on September 30, with Northern Territory and Queensland to test on October 3. New South Wales will have a later testing date on October 25. Victoria is yet to announce combine dates, which will be dependent on the State Government regulations.

2020 NAB AFL Draft Combine list

NSW [4]
Braeden Campbell (Sydney Academy)
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)
Errol Gulden (Sydney Academy)
Joshua Green (GWS Academy)

Northern Territory [3]
Joel Jeffrey (Wanderers/Gold Coast Academy)
Maurice Rioli jnr (Oakleigh Chargers)
Brodie Lake (Southern Districts/Central District (SA)/Gold Coast Academy)

Queensland [6]
Alex Davies (Gold Coast Academy)
Blake Coleman (Brisbane Academy)
Carter Michael (Brisbane Academy)
Jack Briskey (Brisbane Academy)
Max Pescud (Gold Coast Academy)
Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Academy)

South Australia [20]
Brayden Cook (South Adelaide)
Caleb Poulter (Woodville West Torrens)
Corey Durdin (Central District)
Henry Smith (Woodville West Torrens)
James Borlase (Sturt)
Jye Sinderberry (West Adelaide)
Kaine Baldwin (Glenelg)
Lachlan Jones (Woodville West Torrens)
Luke Edwards (Glenelg)
Luke Pedlar (Glenelg)
Malachy Carruthers (Sturt)
Mitchell Duval (West Adelaide)
Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide)
Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide)
Taj Schofield (Woodville West Torrens)
Tariek Newchurch (North Adelaide)
Tom Powell (Sturt)
Tom Highmore (South Adelaide)
Xavier Robins (Glenelg)
Zac Dumesny (South Adelaide)

Tasmania [4]
Jackson Callow (North Launceston)
Oliver Davis (Clarence)
Patrick Walker (North Hobart)
Sam Collins (North Hobart)

Vic Country [21]
Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons)
Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)
Charlie Ham (Geelong Falcons)
Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)
Clayton Gay (Dandenong Stingrays)
Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
Harry Sharp (Greater Western Victoria Rebels)
Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons)
Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers)
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)
Nick Stevens (Greater Western Victoria Rebels)
Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)
Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power)
Sam Berry (Gippsland Power)
Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons)
Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
Zach Reid (Gippsland Power)
Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)
Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)

Vic Metro [25]
Lachlan Carrigan (Sandringham Dragons)
Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)
Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers)
Campbell Edwardes (Calder Cannons)
Cody Brand (Calder Cannons)
Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)
Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers)
Corey Preston (Eastern Ranges)
Eddie Ford (Western Jets)
Ewan Macpherson (Northern Knights)
Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)
Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons)
Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons)
Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons)
Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
Liam McMahon (Northern Knights)
Liam Kolar (Northern Knights)
Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
Matt Allison (Calder Cannons)
Max Heath (Sandringham Dragons)
Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons)
Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights)
Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)
Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)
Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers)

Western Australia [12]
Blake Morris (Subiaco)
Brandon Walker (East Fremantle)
Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts)
Heath Chapman (West Perth)
Jack Carroll (East Fremantle)
Joel Western (Claremont)
Kalin Lane (Claremont)
Logan McDonald (Perth)
Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth)
Shannon Neale (South Fremantle)
Zane Trew (Swan Districts)
Isaiah Winder (Peel Thunder)

Squad predictions: 2020 Allies Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with carnival likely to take place in October. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the championships come around, but with a few stipulations in place. We began with our Vic Metro, Vic Country, South Australian, and West Australian squad predictions, and today we take a look at the potential Allies line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • The inclusion of bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it is limited
  • 19-year-old inclusions are also limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the fifth and final squad prediction, with the Allies’ talent broken down line-by-line. The Allies squad is made up of talent from NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

DEFENCE

FB – Brodie Lake (NT Thunder/Peel), Jack Johnston (Gold Coast), Patrick Walker (Tasmania)
HB – Charlie Byrne (Murray), Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast), Sam Collins (Tasmania)

Two Gold Coast Suns Academy members make up the heart of our proposed Allies defence, with genuine talls Jack Johnston (195cm) and Ryan Pickering (199cm) slotting into key position posts. The additions of Brodie Lake and Sam Collins contribute even further to the height and marking power of the defence, with Collins’ intercept and rebound qualities also valuable assets.

Collins’ fellow Tasmanian Patrick Walker should provide similarly astute ball use from defence at a shorter range, while Murray product Charlie Byrne also likes to push further afield and deal damage by foot. The back six should have no trouble competing aerially on the defensive side, while being able to yield an attacking threat on the turnover.


MIDFIELD

C – Saxon Crozier (Brisbane), Oliver Davis (Tasmania), Carter Michael (Brisbane)
FOL – Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast), Alex Davies (Gold Coast), Braeden Campbell (Sydney)

Queenslanders take up four of the six midfield spots in our Allies side, with Brisbane Lions Academy members Saxon Crozier and Carter Michael starting on either wing, while 201cm ruck Thomas Hofert has been tasked with tapping down to Gold Coast Academy teammate Alex Davies at the centre bounces.

There is plenty of grunt in the engine room trio of Davies, Braeden Campbell, and Oliver Davis; with Davies the tallest of the lot (191cm) as that pure big-bodied type, while Davis (182cm) is another extractor who comes in at a similar build to the speedy and versatile Campbell (180cm).

The likes of Crozier and Michael may fancy a run through the middle but seem well suited to the outside, with a number of flankers and depth options in our squad also able to pitch in. Still, we feel this is the best mix, and one which gives the Allies a great chance to compete strongly in the area in which each contest begins.


FORWARD

HF – Errol Gulden (Sydney), Josh Green (GWS), Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder)
FF – Marco Rossmann (Sydney), Jackson Callow (Tasmania), Blake Coleman (Brisbane)

In a similar vein to the defensive mix, this forward six provides good versatility and some great marking power. Jackson Callow is the centrepiece at full forward, a physical key position type who is near-unstoppable with his contested marking, and may well take on ruck duties inside forward 50. Josh Green, brother of GWS draftee Tom, is a 192cm utility who can play up either end. He slots in at centre half-forward for now on account of his aerial ability.

The diminutive but brilliant Errol Gulden comes in on a forward flank but will have eyes on moving up to a wing, with fellow Swans Academy product Marco Rossmann a solid medium type who may also run through the midfield. In the opposite flank to Rossmann is exciting forward Blake Coleman, who along with Northern Territory prospect Joel Jeffrey, provides clean hands and a terrific goal sense. With silver service likely to come from a strong midfield core, this forward mix could do some damage at the national carnival when on song.


INTERCHANGE

INT – Marc Sheather (Sydney), Jared Dakin (Tasmania), Tahj Abberley (Brisbane), Maurice Rioli Jnr (NT Thunder/Oakleigh)

This interchange group is, well, incredibly interchangeable with the group of depth players listed below, but all bring something different to the side. Jared Dakin makes the cut as the only over-ager in the squad given he garnered interest at last year’s draft, and he’ll provide a good ball winning boost.

Tahj Abberley and Maurice Rioli Jnr add some x-factor and smarts at ground level as part of the rotational group. Abberley is likely to play as a small defender but is just as capable up forward or through midfield, while Rioli could well be the genuine small forward that the side is missing. Rounding out the chosen 22 is Marc Sheather, another versatile medium type who can play well above his size at either end given his athleticism.


SQUAD DEPTH

There remains a decent crop of top-agers who narrowly missed the cut, and some bottom-aged talent which will inevitably squeeze into the team minus any stipulations. Among the most unlucky to miss were AFL Academy hub members Rhys Nicholls and Aidan Fyfe, who could both slot in as half-backs or outside types. Kye Pfrengle is another defensive option who will get a look-in, while Jack Briskey and Jack Driscoll are taller types who should also rotate through the same line. Meanwhile, Tyrrell Lui and Ryan Eyers are prospects who may also be thereabouts.

In terms of top-agers outside of the AFL Academy intake, Tasmania’s Isaac Chugg is a terrific athlete, while Devils teammates Will Harper and Jye Menzie are well known to selectors. Sydney’s Pierce Roseby is a tough small who thrived in NSW/ACT colours, as did Max Pescud in the Maroon of Queensland.

Moving on to over-agers, and Tasmanian over-ager Hamish Allan would help the ruck stocks at 206cm, with GIANT-turned-Knight Liam Delahunty another tall who remains among the Under 18 ranks. In terms of Queensland-based 19-year-olds, the likes of forward movers Bruce Reville, Josh Gore, and Hewago Paul Oea have already shown plenty of promise.

Finally, an exciting group of bottom-aged talent is set to cause some selection headaches, lead by Tasmanian gun Sam Banks. He, and Tasmanian teammate Baynen Lowe impressed at Under 16 level enough to warrant NAB League selection in 2019. Queensland Under 16 MVP Austin Harris will also push his case as a small defender, while GIANTS Academy members Sam Stening and Josh Fahey are hard to deny, as is big Queensland forward Noah McFadyen.

>> READ UP ON THE 2020 ALLIES U18s:

Brisbane Lions Academy
Gold Coast SUNS Academy
GWS GIANTS Academy
Sydney Swans Academy
Tasmania Devils

AFL Draft Watch:

Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

Marquee Matchups:

Jackson Callow vs. Cam Fleeton
Braeden Campbell vs. Corey Durdin
Alex Davies vs. Reef McInnes
Errol Gulden vs. Jake Bowey

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards

>> 2020 UNDER 18 SQUAD PREDICTIONS:

South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Q&A: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)

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

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member is a mercurial talent, able to rip games apart with his high marking and extraordinary athleticism. While he as been utilised up either end of the ground thus far, the 194cm prospect looks most at home inside forward 50, where his sticky hands and pace off the lead come to the fore.

Having made the transfer over to Oakleigh’s region via a scholarship at Scotch College, Ugle-Hagan played an integral role in the Chargers’ 2019 NAB League premiership and is poised to once again juggle his time between school, NAB League, and representative commitments. Given he hails from Warrnambool, Ugle-Hagan will run out for Vic Country should an Under 18 national carnival go ahead.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Jamarra, how has the day been so far?

JUH: “It’s actually been a really good experience with all the other clubs, you can just see your competition. “It’s pretty good.”

 

You’re coming off an outstanding bottom-age year, how did you find the transition with Oakleigh and Scotch College?

“It’s been unreal. “Getting the scholarship with Scotch College, it’s a great opportunity. “Also coming here and getting the opportunity to play for Oakleigh Chargers is just really good.”

 

Obviously you’ve already drawn some attention with your connection to the Western Bulldogs, how do you keep on top of the hype?

“With all the hype, they’re just words. “It doesn’t get to my head.”

 

Being around some talented players from Oakleigh and the Vic Country Hub, who are some of the players you enjoy playing alongside?

“Obviously it was good to play with Rowelly (Matt Rowell), Ando (Noah Anderson), Dyl Williams, but I reckon it was good to play with the whole squad. Everyone has their different roles, but it was just an unreal experience, especially to win a flag at the end of the year.”

 

There’s a few fellow Indigenous boys alongside you in different teams, what’s that been like for you?

“It’s actually really good. Going to Scotch from like three hours away, and (Maurice Rioli Jnr) is coming from the NT, it’s pretty hard for us to keep track with homesickness and all that. But once you’re with all the boys it’s a big family.”

 

What are some of the goals you’re looking to tick off coming into your top-age season?

“Obviously you’d like to think of the draft, All Australian and all that, but I’m just thinking of the next training session because you look at Elijah Hollands, no one saw that (knee injury) coming. “You never know when your last training session is so I just think of the next training session really.”

 

Having played down back in the Under 17 Futures game last year, are you open to playing there or are you keen to nail down a forward role?

“I played back for Scotch College as a bottom-ager. “Obviously I loved it there so now seeing the different switch, it’s pretty good. I’d love to play back, I don’t mind.”

 

Are there any things you’re looking to work on?

“Obviously because of the hype, I’ve just got to keep doing the same thing because it just resets now. “So I’m just back to the bottom, and (will) just keep grinding.”

>> FULL INTERVIEW


Features:

Draft Watch
Marquee Matchup
2020 U18 Key Forwards
2020 Vic Country U18 Squad Prediction

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 4 – Academies run riot among joint top four

DESPITE reverting back to a six-game format after Round 3’s nine-game marathon, there was plenty of worthy action to come out of Round 4 of last year’s NAB League season. The Northern Academies continued to get into the swing of things, with two of them making up a top four all joined on 12 points by the weekend’s conclusion. Fans were treated to two separate double-headers – at Southport and Sandringham – while Calder became the first side to make the trip down to Tasmania to face the Devils. All six Victorian Country sides underwent a bye round, while some of the remaining Metro clubs took slightly weakened line-ups into their matches.

First to take the park in Saturday’s lone pair of fixtures were the Northern Knights and GWS GIANTS Academy, with the New South Welshmen overcoming a half time deficit to storm home 26-point winners. A four-goal to one third term proved the difference for GWS as both sides struggled for accuracy in front of goal in the face of Sandringham’s coastal breeze.

GIANTS Academy jet Tom Green had a day out as his side’s only eventual draftee afield, racking up a game-high 38 disposals as far-and-away the best player on the park. Carlton may have bid on Green in last year’s draft, but would end up taking arguably the next best inside midfielder out there on this occasion within the first round in Sam Philp, who competed hard for his team-high 26 touches. Ayce Taylor, the only other draftee was quiet with eight disposals, while newly-made Knight Liam Delahunty booted three goals, and former Oakleigh recruit Jeromy Lucas managed two majors from his 28 disposals.

Sydney faced a tough test next up on the Trevor Barker Beach Oval turf, facing the talented – albeit slightly compromised – Sandringham side on its home patch. But lead by an inspired couple of bottom-aged smalls, the Swans were able to get on top and stay there for an unlikely win against the eventual preliminary finalists. A 10-goal to five opening half made for an unassailable lead, with the Dragons pouring on some late consolations to bring the final margin to a more respectable 22 points.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan was Sandringham’s best, covering the ground well for 28 touches and 2.4, while bottom-agers Darby Hipwell (24 disposals, 0.3) and Archie Perkins (16 disposals, two goals) enjoyed some added responsibility given Sandringham’s many omissions. 2020 over-age hopeful Kyle Yorke also impressed with three majors, but was ultimately outdone by Sydney bottom-age gun Braeden Campbell, who booted four from his 13 disposals. Allies squad member Hamish Ellem also managed two majors alongside Sam Thorne, but it was Errol Gulden who caught the eye on the outside and going forward, as he amassed 27 disposals and a goal to continue his electrifying form.

Fast forward a day and travelling up to Southport were the Oakleigh Chargers to take on Gold Coast’s Academy, minus all of their 2019 draftees. The squad shuffling and travel took toll as the visitors went down by a resounding 71 points to the SUNS, managing just three goals in an unusually impotent performance going forward. With eight goals to one in a dominant second half, the home side took away the four points and rose atop of the NAB League ladder with its perfect 3-0 record.

Connor Budarick took the field with fellow SUNS draftees Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh, returning a best afield performance on the back of his game-high 28 disposals and one major. The two aforementioned talls were quieter with a combined 11 disposals, but also contributed three collective goals and 29 hitouts. Josh Gore could have had a day out had he been more accurate than his 2.5 from 20 disposals, while 2020 prospect Alex Davies found it 16 times and also booted a goal. For Oakleigh, over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney stood up to amass 26 disposals, followed by Kaden Schreiber‘s 24. 2020 top-ager Lochlan Jenkins had it 17 times, while Collingwood NGA prospect Reef McInnes was a touch quieter with 13 disposals – two less than 2020 19-year-old prospect Jacob Woodfull‘s 15 to go with 16 hitouts.

The second match in the Sunshine State saw Eastern come from behind to down an accurate Brisbane Lions Academy, with a pair of Richmond draftees having an impact on the contest among a raft of bottom-aged talent. The Ranges had the better of the first half in tricky conditions, but found themselves behind come three quarter time as the Lions turned up the heat. The eventual minor premiers had plenty left in the tank though, booting five goals to Brisbane’s one in an epic final term surge.

At the forefront of the win was bottom-ager Salele Faegaimalii, who racked up 28 disposals and slammed home two goals from midfield in a barnstorming performance. He was supported well by half-back Joshua Clarke, who booted a terrific goal from his 21 touches, while cricketing prodigy Wil Parker found it 14 times. For the Lions, skipper Will Martyn amassed a monster 37 disposals, while fellow Richmond recruit Noah Cumberland snared three goals from 15 touches. Others to impress were bottom-agers Saxon Crozier (24 touches), Carter Michael (19), and Blake Coleman (four goals), while bigmen Tom Wischnat (19 disposals, three goals) and Ben Hickleton (three goals) also had a say for their respective sides. But is was Eastern’s team spread which won it on the day and earned a top four berth.

Down on the Apple Isle, Tasmania made good on its first full-time hosting duties in the NAB League, knocking over Calder by 12 points at Penguin Reserve. While the Devils were essentially at full strength, the Cannons were missing a few top-age stars but came in boasting some promising bottom-agers to match that of their opponent. After a goalless opening term, the game picked up with Tasmania kicking out to a 21-point lead at the main break despite only having one more scoring shot. The Devils’ accuracy held them in good stead, helping them to maintain the lead in the face of Calder’s greater number of opportunities come the final siren.

The only two draftees afield both donned the Tasmanian green, with AFL rookies Mitch O’Neill (16 disposals) and Matthew McGuiness (20) both having their say in patches. But the impressive bottom-age contingent featuring Patrick Walker (24 disposals, one goal), Oliver Davis (19 disposals), Sam Collins (18), and Jackson Callow (four goals) mattered most, with 16-year-old Division 2 MVP Sam Banks also collecting 17 touches on his NAB League debut. For Calder, Essendon NGA prospect Cody Brand booted three goals to prove his versatility, but it was Harrison Minton-Connell who led the way with 26 touches and 1.3 from midfield. Coburg-listed over-ager Tye Browning had it 22 times, with Lions teammate Ben Overman notching 17 touches from defence, and bottom-aged gun Jackson Cardillo showing his potential with 15 disposals.

The final game of the round brought us to our fourth venue, as Western Jets thumped the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 71 points at Downer Oval in Williamstown. While the Jets struggled to adjust to their ‘home’ conditions with a massive 24 behinds, their weight of opportunities ensured they would also put 18 shots through the big sticks to deliver the winning score. For the Thunder, who ran out of legs after a bright opening term, this would be their third loss in as many NAB League appearances for the year.

Western’s bigmen stood tall on the day, with Aaron Clarke booting 4.6 from 18 disposals and 10 marks, while former-Sandringham product Will Kennedy had 25 disposals and 28 hitouts in the ruck, providing terrific service to fellow over-ager Daly Andrews (25 disposals, six inside 50s). There was a bunch of talent which ran out for the Thunder, as Maurice Rioli Jnr made his debut with 16 touches, Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell starred with 18 disposals and a goal, and Brandon Rusca lead the disposal count with 25. Stephen Cumming battled hard in the ruck for 18 touches, 30 hitouts and a goal, while Tyson Woods was the standout forward (13 disposals, 3.2).

Classic Contests: Clarke powers inaccurate Jets to thunderous win over NT

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 4 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Northern Territory Thunder Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 when the teams played out a one-sided contest in Williamstown, with Western soaring to a big win after quarter time.

WESTERN JETS 3.8 | 9.14 | 12.19 | 18.24 (132)
NT THUNDER 4.3 | 5.4 | 8.7 | 9.7 (61)

Round 4 | Sunday April 14, 2019
Downer Oval, 2:30pm

The Western Jets hosted Northern Territory on a blustery Sunday afternoon in Williamstown, looking to score its second win of the season after consecutive defeats cancelled out their Round 1 triumph. It served as the Thunder’s third NAB League fixture for 2019 as part of the Northern Academy cameos, with the Top-End squad also scratching for a win. After fruitless contests against the Gold Coast Academy and newly full-time appointed Tasmania Devils, it was also NT’s first game back against a Victorian opponent. They would head into the fixture minus a couple of AFL Academy stars in Joel Jeffrey and SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr, but boasted a bunch of youngsters with senior NTFL experience. For the Jets, talls were a key asset despite the absence of now-Hawk, Emerson Jeka, while fellow rookie draftee Josh Honey was also out of action.

In an opening term of swinging momentum, the Thunder got the jump twice to snatch a quarter time lead by the narrowest of margins. Wade Derksen‘s major was cancelled out by Samuel Clifford, before Cassius White helped Western sneak ahead. But three goals in a little over five minutes saw the Thunder surge back in front once again, with a further 1.5 from the home side taking them to within a goal of their opponents.

With the wind advantage and some slightly sharper finishing, the Jets then looked to take the game away from the visitors with 6.6 to NT’s 1.1, setting up a 34-point buffer at the main break – twice the Thunder’s score. Leading goalkicker on the day, Aaron Clarke began to have a say, booting three of his four goals coming within the second stanza, while White added his second and Cooper Mackenzie-George notched two majors of his own. Tyson Woods‘ first shot through the big sticks was the Thunder’s sole form of resistance, with the physical Jets finding their groove.

The scoring somewhat settled after the main break in a period of play akin to the opener, with the two sides sharing six goals evenly. The NT cut into the telling margin through another major to Woods after talented St Mary’s product Braxton Ahmat hit the scoreboard within the first minute, bringing their side to within four goals. But Clarke’s near-immediate response and a couple further daggers hit to the heart of the Territory’s comeback, with Western’s ascendancy pushed out to 36 points with one period to play.

The respectable margin was blown out in the fourth term to 71 points upon the final siren as Western added six goals to one to take full advantage of the strong tailwind. Saad El-Hawli joined in on the scoring act to add his second and third majors, with 2019 leading goalkicker Archi Manton firing a couple through as consolations. NT’s only goalkicker happened to be Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell, who capped off a solid outing with a classy six-pointer before going on to light up the NTFL for Wanderers. The Thunder simply ran out of legs in the end and could not make up the gap with the wind advantage, succumbing to Western’s superior scoring power.

Those avenues to goal were mostly through Clarke, who finished with 4.6 and was joined by White, El-Hawli, Manton, and Mackenzie-George as multiple goalkickers, with Western boasting an impressive nine individual scorers. On the ball, overager Daly Andrews (25 disposals, four marks, six tackles, six inside 50s) sharked the taps of fellow 19-year-old Will Kennedy (25 disposals, six marks, 28 hitouts) beautifully, as the two led all-comers for disposals. One to watch for this year, Lucas Failli booted 1.3 from 15 disposals, while Bailey Ryan almost had a day out with his 0.4 from 21 touches.

For NT, Southern Districts prospect Brandon Rusca also had 25 touches to go with five marks and six inside 50s, with bigman Stephen Cumming duelling well against Kennedy in the ruck to notch 18 disposals, 30 hitouts and a goal. O’Connell was dangerous as usual with a steady 18 disposals and one goal, with Maurice Rioli Jnr returning 16 touches as a bottom-ager, while St Mary’s teammate Jacob Long had 17 and talented inside midfielder Ben Jungfer saw it 15 times. Woods’ three goals were the standout alongside the feats of Ahmat, with both taking their chances from more limited supply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classic Contests: Devils claim inaugural win

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between Northern Territory and Tasmania. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 in the only other previous clash between the sides in the competition having just been included last season.

NORTHERN TERRITORY 3.2 | 3.2 | 4.5 | 6.8 (44)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 5.7 | 9.11 | 13.14 (92)

Round 3 | Sunday, April 7 2019
Olympic Park Oval, 1pm

Two new sides to the NAB League competition – one joining full-time – faced off in the heart of Melbourne when Northern Territory Thunder clashed with Tasmania Devils at Olympic Park Oval. These sides had a handful of top age draft prospects, but it was the bottom age talent on show plenty of recruiters would have come to watch, with both teams were coming off losses the week before in the Academy Series and searching for their first win of the season.

Northern Territory broke the ice through swingman Joel Jeffrey who snagged a major in the fourth minute to put his side in front. Tasmania’s Rhyan Mansell countered that shortly after. Powerful small midfielder/forward Beau O’Connell kicked back-to-back goals for the Thunder to hand them a 10-point lead which would prove to be the largest of the match for the “home” side. Both teams were missing their chances late in the term, with the Devils booting four consecutive behinds between their first two goals, as Tyler McGinniss got on the board six minutes into the second term. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow got his first midway through the quarter to send his team in front by five points, and within five minutes, the Devils had added two more and headed into half-time with a 17-point advantage, not allowing the Thunder to score in the quarter.

With the Thunder needing an early goal it was Tasmania’s Joel Hennessy who added more pain to the opposition with an early second half major, and soon McGinniss and Callow had their second majors with the lead getting out to as much as 35 points midway through the quarter. Wade Derksen broke the 45-minute odd drought for the Thunder to try and salvage the game, but a goal in the dying minutes to Jye Menzie saw the visitors take a six-goal lead into the final break. Callow was quick to add his third major, as the Tasmanians stretched their lead to 47 before O’Connell snagged a third of his own midway through the quarter, and then Dominic Forbes made it two in a row to drag the deficit back to 35 points with 10 minutes to play. Callow was not done with just yet though, keen to kick a bag the tall forward kicked a couple of majors in the dying minutes to finish the game with an impressive five goals for his troubles, while the Devils headed home 48-point winners.

Callow was the star up forward with 5.2 from 19 disposals, eight marks and three inside 50s, while McGinniss (20 disposals, three marks, three hitouts, three tackles and three inside 50s) and Patrick Walker (10 disposals, three marks and two tackles) both chipped in with a couple each. Top draft prospect for 2019, Mitch O’Neill was the star of the show however, racking up 35 touches, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds in the win. Mansell had a handy 23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, two clearances seven inside 50s and a goal, while bottom-age talent Oliver Davis showed off his contested ball-winning ability thanks to 22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s. In defence, future Roo Matt McGuinness had 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds, while Jake Steele worked hard against much bigger opposition through the ruck for 14 touches, four marks, five tackles, six hitouts and five clearances.

That ruck was Stephen Cumming who used his strong frame to take control around the stoppages on his way to 22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances. He gave first hands to the likes of Ben Jungfer (17 disposals, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds, O’Connell (16 disposals, four marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and three goals) and slick bottom-age talent and potential Richmond father-son prospect, Maurice Rioli Jnr (13 disposals, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s). Among the other bottom-age players to stand out, Jeffrey had seven rebounds from 20 touches and seven marks, while Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds) also caught the eye despite the loss.

Northern Territory played out the Academy Series without getting a win, while the Devils went on to avoid the wooden spoon and push fifth placed Calder Cannons all the way in the Wildcard Round, just falling short of a shock finals appearance.

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: St Mary’s

THE next club under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is St Mary’s, this season’s runners-up. Coming off a lacklustre 2018/19 campaign where the competition’s most revered and successful club placed last, the Saints very nearly pulled off a remarkable turnaround in 2019/20 by going one win short of snatching the premiership flag. Buoyed by some returning favourite sons, a batch of talented fly-ins, and a continual injection of youth, the Saints were a joy to watch this year on the way to rejoining the league’s elites. In one of the more impressive feats of its seasons, St Mary’s ended as the only side to defeat eventual premier, Nightcliff – twice – to prove the Saints’ true contender status.


ST MARY’S 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 2nd, 14-4 (2-1 finals), 137%

Most games: Adam Parry, Jacob Long (21)

Most goals: Jackson Calder (33)

A nine-goal haul in Division 1 was more that enough to prove that Calder was destined for bigger and better, with the Victorian making an immediate impact for St Mary’s upon his Premier League debut in November. Calder averaged almost four goals per game in his first month for the Saints, which included a season-high haul of six. But arguably his best game was reserved for St Mary’s semi final triumph over Nightcliff, where the spearhead bagged five majors to follow on from four in the previous week and lead his side’s charge into the grand final.

MVP: Thomas Davies

Coming off a slightly interrupted 2018/19 campaign, Davies returned to the Saints this season and was arguably their most important figure across an ultra-consistent year. Featuring in all-bar one game, Davies was a rock in defence for St Mary’s, providing a cool head and doubling with his marking presence as one of the league’s premier key backs. Defenders are often overlooked for awards and acclaim, but Davies’ impact was internally recognised as he featured in the coaches’ votes 13 times this season.

Best Nichols Medal poller: Nate Paredes (15)

An absolute jet through the engine room and on the outside, Paredes has blossomed into one of the league’s leading midfielders since featuring in the Saints’ 2016/17 premiership side. The Victorian native again polled strongly in the votes, credit to his ability to find the goals from midfield and continually get his hands on the ball. Paredes hit the scoreboard in 14 of his 19 games this season, doing so in 12 consecutive outings at one point and booting two majors on eight occasions. It means he is a midfielder with a difference, and one of the first selected for the Saints week in, week out.

Young gun: Maurice Rioli Jnr

The latest in the rich history of Riolis to make his mark on the NTFL, Maurice Jnr lit up the big stage in his third year of Premier League football. Rioli Jnr is a potential Richmond father-son for this year’s draft, eligible via the 118 games his late father played in the yellow and black. As one of the few draft prospects to have gotten on the park in a delayed 2020 season, Rioli Jnr’s highlights will put him in good stead having averaged a goal per his nine games. A rising star nominee, Rioli Jnr captured the nation’s attention with his scintillating four-goal haul against Nightcliff in the Saint’s semi final win.

Best win: Semi Final – def. Nightcliff 16.7 (103) to 11.11 (77)

Goals: J. Calder 5, M. Rioli Jnr 4, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Salmon, N. Yarran, S. Rioli, S. Edwards, H. Labastida.
Best: M. Rioli Jnr, L. Daly, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Calder, T. Saunders

One of the more memorable Premier League results in recent years, this was the game that truly broke the bulletproof look of Nightcliff’s premiership defence. Having already become the only side to overcome the Tigers, St Mary’s did so again in just as impressive fashion and on the finals stage, no less. Fly-in Jackson Calder was terrific with five majors, but this match will be remembered for Maurice Rioli Jnr’s breakthrough four goals in a scintillating display. Lest we forget Liam Daly‘s tagging role on Nichols Medallist Brodie Filo, which was a key talking point come selection day in grand final week.

Worst loss: Round 8 – def. by Tiwi Bombers 7.8 (50) to 12.12 (84)

Goals: S. Rioli 2, N. Paredes, J. Geary, L. Larson, T. Saunders, J. Cheek.
Best: B. Rioli, L. Larson, T. Davies, L. Daly, J. Geary, J. Cheek

Hardly an embarrassment as far as defeats go, but arguably the worst among a group of only five for the Saints in 2019/20. Having already fallen to its traditional rival in a Round 3 shootout, St Mary’s looked poised to get one back on the Bombers just a week removed from a remarkable win over Nightcliff. But that was not to be, as the Saints were shut out incredibly well by Tiwi, with the Bombers’ running game working wonders going the other way as they enjoyed 24 scoring shots to St Mary’s 15. Leader Shannon Rioli did his bit with two goals, while the likes of Leroy Larson and Jackson Geary also snuck into the best dozen.

The next Rioli? Maurice Jnr making noise across two states

IT is one of the most recognised names in Australian rules football, and soon there could be another Rioli in the AFL. Maurice Rioli Jnr is boarding at Scotch College this year, while representing Oakleigh Chargers at NAB League level. The season might be under threat from COVID-19 that has forced the suspension of all competitions, but unlike his peers, Rioli Jnr has already got competitive matches under his belt. In fact, he has already played in a grand final this year, representing St Mary’s in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.

Whilst Rioli Jnr’s Saints were ultimately unsuccessful against Nightcliff who went back-to-back, the experience no doubt proved invaluable for the potential Richmond father-son prospect who Draft Central spoke to at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me. At that stage prior to the decider, Rioli Jnr was looking forward to flying back home in the Northern Territory and pulling on the Saints’ jumper one last time.

While the start to the NAB League Boys and APS school football season will at the very least be delayed, Rioli Jnr said he was looking forward to getting stuck into the action.

“School footy’s good,” he said. “I love playing footy, but hopefully I get a few games at Oakleigh, so that’s going to be good.”

Rioli Jnr is at the same club and school as fellow Indigenous talent, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan who has been touted as one of the top picks in the 2020 AFL National Draft. The Northern Territory native said it helped with the transition to Victoria to be around players like Ugle-Hagan and another NGA prospect, Reef McInnes (Collingwood).

The question on everyone’s lips, especially Tiger fans, is will another Rioli be joining the yellow and black having trained there over the summer?

“I’m a bit open to my options,” Rioli Jnr said. “Like Tigers are the number one, but hopefully (I make it to the AFL). “The (Richmond) players, the staff down there are good. “They’ve made me feel welcome. “Very easily and quick.”

While the reigning premiers might have to wait a while to see if Rioli Jnr can run out on the field in any capacity this year, his work with St Mary’s – where he averaged a goal a game and was named among the best on a couple of occasions – showed he is able to step up on the big stage. Whatever the future holds for football competitions this year, no doubt the potential future Tiger will be doing everything in power to land at the club his late father Maurice became an icon at, winning two best and fairests and a Norm Smith Medal in the 1982 premiership.

HEAR THE FULL DRAFT CENTRAL INTERVIEW WITH MAURICE RIOLI JNR AT THE NAB LEAGUE FITNESS TESTING DAY BELOW: