Tag: mitch o’neill

NAB League Boys Round 14 preview: U16 talent hits the big time

AFTER a week off for all but two of the NAB League Boys sides, the competition recommences full-time action with a double-header at Box Hill City Oval in Saturday’s lone fixtures. A top-four clash between Eastern and Oakleigh firms as the game of the round, with the Geelong and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) clash set to have an impact down the other end of the ladder. Watch for the debuts of some of the nation’s best Under 16s too, fresh off their National Championship campaigns.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Saturday July 20, 11:45am
Box Hill City Oval

A near full-strength Gippsland Power unit will look to pile the pain on Tasmania when they do battle at Box Hill City Oval to kick off Round 14. Both sides are coming off losses, but the Devils have faced a few more challenges over the last four weeks in a string of losses. Results aside, their usual competitiveness has risen in the last fortnight, but Gippsland’s ins make the Power a tough proposition for even a side in the best of form. A massive seven Country representatives return to the side, with the likes of Brock Smith, Sam Flanders, Charlie Comben, and Josh Smith re-forming that strong spine. On the other hand, Tasmania will be without both Mitch O’Neill and competition leading goal kicker Jackson Callow in a big blow to their chances. O’Neill’s class through the midfield will likely be covered by the likes of Under-16 Division 2 MVP Sam Banks and bottom-aged Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins, meaning Callow’s goals could prove the most difficult void to fill. The game will be the Devils’ last in Victoria for the regular season, with their remaining two fixtures set to be played at home, while Gippsland will finish off with a couple of country fixtures.

EASTERN RANGES vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday July 20, 2:15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what looms as the game of the round, Oakleigh will look to derail Eastern’s charge atop the NAB League ladder when the sides meet to round out Saturday’s action. The Ranges are on a tear, simply finding a way to win in each of their six-consecutive victories dating back to Round 7. Having twice gotten the better of fellow top-four hopefuls Sandringham in that run, they should come into this fixture against a rampant Oakleigh outfit with the confidence to stand tall despite the Chargers’ form. Oakleigh’s attempt to make it seven wins from their last eight outings will be dented slightly by the loss of promising bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Tucker, and Reef McInnes, but gain some midfield depth as Jeromy Lucas and Fraser Elliot make the 23. Eastern’s key position strength will be tested as skipper James Ross joins Jamieson Rossiter and Joel Nathan as outs, but we should be treated to a glimpse into the future as Metro U16 stars Tyler Sonsie and Tyreece Leiu have been named to make their debuts. Both could feature through midfield, with Metro MVP Sonsie also able to move forward well. It adds another layer to what already shapes as an interesting battle, with the Ranges hoping to maintain their two-game buffer in first place.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday July 21, 9:30am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

A chance to snap losing streaks is up for grabs for Sandringham and Dandenong at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, with both sides sliding out of the top four in recent weeks. The Dragons have been on a three-game slide while Dandenong has lost its last four, and Sandringham could well jump back into the top four should results go their way. The Stingrays’ six changes seems significant, but it pales in comparison to Sandringham’s 13 with a raft of top-end talent going both ways in either starting 23. Dandenong’s ins read well, with All Australians Hayden Young and Sam De Koning slotting back in alongside Country teammates Ned Cahill, Blake Kuipers, and Bigoa Nyuon. On the other hand, the home side regains Fischer McAsey and Miles Bergman alongside over-agers Riley Bowman and Angus Hanrahan, but lose stars on each line in the form of Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Charlie Dean. The Dragons’ strength of depth has shone through thus far, and should carry them through well in this bout despite Dandenong’s sizeable inclusions. If the Eastern and Oakleigh game is the best of the round, this looks to be a close second with clear finals ramifications in play.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The Calder Cannons could shoot into the top four with a win and favourable results elsewhere, but Bendigo Pioneers stand in their way in a meeting set for Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Cannons have enjoyed a good stretch of form, winning in four of their last five outings, with some key talent in the form of Daniel Mott, Harrison Jones, and Brodie Newman set to add a bit of class to the side which is sailing along smoothly. Bendigo has fared a touch differently, but the Pioneers found form well in the last three rounds with two wins and a 10-point loss added to their record. The competition in this game is a little stiffer, but the inclusions of Brady Rowles and Logan Fitzgerald should bode well for their chances of a fifth win. Big man Josh Treacy also returns, named up forward alongside usual full back Will Wallace as the Pioneers shuffle their key position magnets – and they could well be tested in that area given Calder’s ins. Bendigo should make a game of it on home turf, with both sides refreshed after a week off and keen to gain as much ladder position as possible with just three regular season rounds remaining.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Deakin Reserve

The battle for top eight spots heats up as ninth place Murray hosts eighth place Northern with just four points separating the two sides. Both have enjoyed good bursts of form of late, with Northern on a three-game winning run and Murray’s own streak of three only just broken last round by ladder-leaders, Eastern. Either sides’ true credentials will be revealed as they go close to hitting full strength, while also welcoming some Under 16 talent to their respective line-ups. Kevin Sheehan medallist Josh Rachele is one of those talented 16-year-olds named to play, while Northern boast Darcy Wilmot and Jack Rossimel. In the top-age stakes, Murray look to have replenished well with co-skipper Lachlan Ash returning alongside Cam Wild, while fellow Country representative Elijah Hollands also slots in. For Northern, key midfield cog Adam Carafa goes out alongside Metro teammate Nikolas Cox in a blow to their depth, but the versatility of the side should see the Knights cover their losses. With the top eight make-up truly taking shape in the closing three rounds, this game will prove to be a key one in deciding Wildcard Round fixtures.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday July 21, 1:30pm
GMHBA Stadium

Bottom two sides Geelong and GWV clash at GMHBA Stadium to see out Round 14, with just four wins between the teams heading into the final few fixtures. If history is anything to go by, this is set to be a close one, as the Rebels managed to snatch a one-point win over the Falcons all the way back in Round 2 in a thriller. The stakes are arguably higher in this clash with pride on the line and some notable under-age talent breaking into either starting 23. GWV welcomes Country Under 16 representatives Ben Hobbs and Josh Rentsch, with top-age stars Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin, Toby Mahony also set to really bolster the line-up. Meanwhile, the Falcons are finally set to again field one of their two original co-captains with Jesse Clarke back into the defensive unit, with the likes of over-agers Lochlan Hocking and Sam Christensen getting another crack in the starting team. With limited opportunities to bolster up their win tallies, both sides should give this game a red hot crack on the hallowed Kardinia Park turf.

Scouting notes/wrap: NAB League Boys – Tasmania vs. Eastern

IN the weekend’s sole fixture, Tasmania and Eastern finally brought Round 12 of the NAB League Boys competition to an end, jerking the curtain at UTAS Stadium for the Hawthorn-Fremantle AFL clash. Given it was a standalone game, we combined the match report and scouting notes into one for your convenience.

TASMANIA DEVILS 5.1 | 6.3 | 7.6 | 8.7 (55)
EASTERN RANGES 4.0 | 6.4 | 7.9 | 11.11 (77)

GOALS:
Tasmania: J. Callow 4, J. Menzie, W. Harper, W. Peppin, R. Mansell.
Eastern: J. Rossiter 2, B. Hickleton 2, C. Downie, T. Edwards, T. Weir, B. McCormack, Z. Pretty, H. Keeling, M. Mellis.

BEST:
Tasmania: R. Mansell, J. Callow, M. McGuinness, O. Davis, I. Chugg, J. Lane
Eastern: M. Mellis, W. Parker, B. McCormack, J. Nathan, C. Black, J. Duffy

The Eastern Ranges extended their lead atop the NAB League standings to eight points, becoming the first side in 2019 to hit 10 wins with a 22-point victory over Tasmania on the Apple Isle.

It did not come easy though, with the hosts enjoying a great start on the back of a dominant three-goal opening term from bottom-age forward Jackson Callow. The Devils’ attacking approach saw them get the better of their more fancied opponents to the first break, opening a seven-point gap on the back of a free-flowing period of play. As expected, the Ranges hit back in the second term to edge in front at half time by a single point, but it proved a costly quarter for both sides as Tasmania lost Mitch O’Neill to an innocuous knee injury, while Eastern skipper James Ross was helped from the ground after copping the full force of a late bump. The game continued to tighten up in the third term as the sides shared a goal each to set up a tense finish, with Eastern’s tactical shift in the back half ensuring Callow was kept much quieter. Taking some good momentum into the final term, Eastern would go on to run away with the win with four goals to one, very much proving to be the team to beat.

The instinctual combination between Eastern’s midfield trio of Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton, and Zak Pretty proved telling, especially after Tasmania lost O’Neill with Mellis named best afield. Joel Nathan‘s role on Callow in the second half with Ross out of the game was crucial, despite the Tasmanian finishing with four goals and edging in front of Eastern’s Ben Hickleton to lead the NAB League goal kicking charts. For Tasmania, Matt McGuinness continued his good form across half back, taking on a greater role with Sam Collins shifting further afield at times. Oliver Davis was again instrumental through midfield, with Will Peppin busy around the ground and Rhyan Mansell dangerous up forward.

Both teams are set to line up in Round 14’s double-header at Box Hill City Oval, with Tasmania opening proceedings against Gippsland and Eastern readying for a top four clash with Oakleigh.

SCOUTING NOTES

Tasmania:

#1 Mitchell O’Neill

Unfortunately had his return game for the Devils cut short by what looked like a pretty innocuous knee injury in the second term. He had started the same term off the ground after limping off earlier, getting stuck straight back into the action. Can hopefully get a better run at it toward the back-end of the year, and looked a positive addition to Tasmania’s midfield in the early stages.

#3 Oliver Davis

The bottom-ager continues to excel in the engine room, putting in a typical shift with inside ball winning and hard tackling. He won the first clearance of the first and second terms to mark his intent and enjoyed a good battle against Eastern’s Lachie Stapleton, catching him holding the ball on two occasions with great technique. While Davis sometimes blazes away in possession, his presence in midfield is invaluable and he plays his role well.

#4 Will Peppin

The National Academy member looks to have regained some good form and was busy throughout this outing. Peppin loves to take off with ball in hand, doing so with agile moves through traffic in the first term to send his side forward. The zippy mover added tackling pressure to his game as it went on, while also running hard off the line at centre bounces and impacting the play further afield in general play. Peppin earned at front-on contact free kick in the first quarter to kick his sole goal for the game, with a later shot from 50 falling short.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Another who contributed a game now expected of him, McGuinness has been an important cog in the Tasmanian back six. He positioned well in the hole to intercept overhead on many an occasion, but was mostly sighted bringing the ball out of defensive 50 by foot on the move. While his range was a little off at times, McGuinness got some handy distance on his kicks and is finding solid consistency.

#13 Sam Collins

Was by no means a huge game from Collins, but he looked strong around the ball as he enjoyed some time in the midfield. When starting on the outside, he pushed hard off the line to impact stoppages and get involved in the play. The bottom-ager also got his usual kicking game going well, delivering a pin-point ball into the corridor in the first term and backing it up with an even better pass from half-back into the middle in the final quarter. Had a bit of a rough patch to open the third term as he gave away a couple of free kicks, but was otherwise effective when in possession.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow looked like having a huge game after he booted three goals within the first half-hour, but was clamped well after the main break with Eastern ensuring he would compete against two or three markers in the air. He started off by winning a ground ball against his direct opponent deep inside 50 before snapping the first goal of the game, following up with a huge pack mark and set shot goal to highlight a scintillating opening. He also created Will Peppin’s goal after booting his third, marking deep in the pocket and kicking well inboard. His physicality ensured that direct opponents were more occupied with holding him that getting to the ball, and Callow’s work off the deck was scarily good for a player of his size. He would go on to show as much by turning his opponent twice in the third term but missing the shot, eventually being restricted well.

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

The natural ball winner did a lot of unheralded work around the contest, handing out well and combining almost telepathically with his Eastern midfield mates to buzz forward from congestion. His low centre of gravity and reading of taps ensured he often got to the ball first before dishing off quickly. Stapleton had a good moment in the final term where he ran forward hard from the stoppage to receive a handball of the attacking side, before delivering beautifully on the run inside 50 to honour Ben Hickleton’s lead.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Arguably the best afield, Mellis was aggressive in both his forward running and defensive efforts. His gut-busting runs after disposing of the ball to get on the end of a second handball broke the play open, with Mellis using his speed to burst away from trouble. He worked fantastically well in the small Eastern midfield to chain possessions together at stoppages rather than blazing away, and did as much around the ground as he got busy from the get-go. Mellis was alight early, booting a goal after finding space to get the hand-off inside 50 and snapping truly, going on to accumulate around the ground in an influential display.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter makes his possessions count, getting in dangerous areas within the forward half and impacting the scoreboard. He worked well up to half forward in the first half, throwing his weight around and taking a strong mark from behind on the attacking arc. He found space in the third term to get a shot on goal but fell short, before thumping home a goal from nothing as he threw the ball onto his boot 60 metres from home and saw it bounce through over the back. Rossiter added another in the final term, mopping up an errand handball to snap truly on his left boot.

#20 Connor Downie

The bottom-aged Metro representative was again influential on the outside, finding the ball on the flanks at both ends and using his damaging left boot to good effect. Downie had an early score involvement as he roosted long towards goal to find Harrison Keeling in the square, before getting another hand-off at the arc in the second term and slamming the ball home himself. He finds space well and always looks for the shorter option inboard, kicking long down the line when in doubt to ensure his plays are high-percentage.

#21 James Ross

Was unfortunately the other big injury casualty to come out of the game, being taken off the field by trainers in the second term after receiving a heavy late bump shortly after disposing of the ball. He did not return to the game, but had started solidly in his key back post and got up the ground well. Hopefully he gets another chance to prove his worth this year.

#23 Zak Pretty

Was in the thick of it early on with some linking handballs at the centre bounces and a nice goal on the run from the pocket to get Eastern on the board. He combined his usual inside work with some good movement forward, putting in another solid shift and finding his usual numbers around the contest.

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Tasmania vs. Eastern

A standalone fixture this week sees Tasmania Devils host the Eastern Ranges in a bout originally scheduled for Round 12, as the rest of the competition enjoys a week off before Round 14 recommences the season on Saturday, July 20.

TASMANIA DEVILS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 12 – 13/06/2019

10:45am

UTAS Stadium – Launceston

 

While it seemed long odds at the beginning of the season, Eastern has been far and away the most consistent and best side in 2019, sitting pretty atop the NAB League ladder at 9-2 coming into its clash with Tasmania. The Devils have been competitive for the most part, battling to 4-7 in their inaugural full-time NAB League season to sit eleventh. The two sides are yet to meet this season, taking history out of the equation and allowing both sides to work from a clean slate. With the national carnival run and done, both sides will slowly return to full strength in the coming weeks, starting on Saturday for Tasmania as it regains leading prospect Mitch O’Neill for the tough battle ahead. The core of the Devils’ side is in place, with Round 13 Draft Central Player of the Week Matt McGuinness remaining in the heart of defence, O’Neill back through the middle, and Jackson Callow set to dominate from centre half-forward. Allies representative Jake Steele also returns and may be freed up from his usual ruck duties, named on the wing. For Eastern, a bit of forward line depth slots into the selected 23 as Jordan Jaworski and Joshua Tilley find themselves named alongside diminutive ball winner, Jonte Duffy. It means Eastern possesses threats all around the ground, with a midfield capable of winning high amounts of ball, a forward line with plenty of goals in it from tall and small options, and a solid defence with rebounding quality. The Ranges could look to really get on top in their forward half though, with Tasmania’s strength most significantly lying in the engine room. Needless to say, it will be an uphill climb for the Devils in their persuit to overcome the Ranges, but they should give it a red-hot crack in front of their adoring home fans.

 

TEAMS:

 

TASMANIA DEVILS

B: 60. J. Barwick, 38. O. Shaw, 21. L. Gadomski

HB: 12. I. Chugg, 7. M. McGuinness, 17. P. Walker

C: 39. S.  Green, 3. O.  Davis, 8. J.  Steele

HF: 20. W. Harper, 9. J. Chaplin, 4. W. Peppin

F: 33. L. Borsboom, 25. J. Callow, 27. R. Mansell

R: 56. J. Lane, 13. S. Collins, 1. M. O’Neill

Int: 2. O. Burrows-Cheng, 37. L. Deegan, 23. H. Ireland, 31. J. Menzie, 50. C. Riethoff, 26. O. Sanders, 14. B. Simpson, 35. L. Viney

 

In: L. Deegan, J. Steele, W. Harper, L. Borsboom, O. Sanders, C. Riethoff, S. Green, M. O’Neill

Out: N. Baker,  T. Reeves,  E. Jackson,  C. Stephenson,  Z. Adams

 

EASTERN RANGES

B: 12. J. Gilbee, 39. J. Nathan, 40. J. Hourihan

HB: 4. J. Clarke, 21. J. Ross, 19. W. Parker

C: 20. C.  Downie, 7. L.  Stapleton, 30. T.  Edwards

HF: 9. J. Duffy, 28. T. Weir, 13. J. Rossiter

F: 10. C. Black, 36. B. Hickleton, 27. J. Jaworski

R: 18. B. McCormack, 23. Z. Pretty, 11. M. Mellis

Int: 42. A. Begg, 44. H. Keeling, 32. I. Mccormick, 45. M. Zalac

Emg: 24. T. Hardstaff, 53. J. Tilly, 3. C. Tilyard

 

In: J. Duffy, J. Jaworski, J. Tilly, A. Begg

Out: T. Garner, J. Diedrich

 

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – South Australia vs. Allies

SOUTH Australia held firm late-on to finish off its national carnival with a 17-point win over the Allies at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday. Michael Alvaro was on hand to note down some of the prominent players, with all notes opinion-based of the individual writer.

South Australia:

#1 Kysaiah Pickett

The exciting Eagles product proved his worth once again after missing SA’s last game through suspension, collecting 22 disposals and booting a goal. While he is an obvious threat at ground level with his pace and clean hands, Pickett also has good spring and competed well above his head when required. He started well with a ground ball get against three opponents in the first term, wheeling away from them and shooting the ball inboard to Callum Park. Despite spending a lot of time up on the wing, Pickett snared a goal deep inside 50 in the second term with an easy finish into the open goal on the run. It always felt like he was about to do something special when near the ball, and he did as much with a high-flying mark on the wing in the same quarter. Was otherwise a pretty typical display from Pickett, zipping around to mop up at ground level and proving a tackling menace at both ends.

#3 Corey Durdin

Was by no means a big game from the bottom-ager in terms of his disposal output (just seven), but he continues to show little bursts of form in a forward role. There isn’t much of him at 173cm, but Durdin cracks in against bigger bodies and tackles hard – boding well for his inside midfield craft. Showed his class with a snapped goal from a forward stoppage in the first quarter, and caught the eye with a clean pick up and spin on defensive wing in the following term. Should enjoy more midfield time in his top-age year.

#7 Dylan Stephens

The classy mover arguably left his best championships performance for last, racking up a game-high 33 disposals – including nine clearances. Stephens worked tirelessly through midfield for SA, winning the ball in all areas of the ground and proving clinical by foot on his left side. He looked dangerous early when breaking forward, getting hand-offs in areas where he could unleash a long-range shot on goal, despite not quite finding them. While a lot of his best work was done when breaking away from congestion, Stephens also showed an ability to win his fair share of inside ball. His typically pin-point kicking was somewhat compensated as he threw the ball on his boot quickly on occasion in those situations, which is a rare area he can polish up on. Much of his game was one of accumulation, but Stephens’ cleverness shone through at times, with a tap over his opponent and gather on the run at defensive 50 proving shrewd, and his agility in traffic outstanding throughout.

#8 Jed McEntee

Looks to have a really nice mix of class and grit, doing some clever things on the outside while digging in desperately to win the ball at ground level. Had more impact than his stats suggest, and first came into the game with a big tackle on the wing in the opening term. McEntee went on to pop up with little bursts of agility through traffic up the ground, while also running hard forward to mark inside 50 on two occasions, but missing both set shots. He made good on that with his involvement in Jackson Mead’s third quarter goal, diving to get a hand on the ball as an opponent looked to pick it up, winning it, standing up to burst through would-be tacklers and flicking out to Kysaiah Pickett, who moved it on to Mead for a terrific team goal from nothing.

#9 Cameron Taheny

Looked dangerous in the opening stages, showing his typically strong hands overhead and darting a neat kick laterally in his first influential play of note. The dangerous forward spent a lot of time up the ground on a wing, but still proved worthy inside attacking 50 with a slow dribbled goal from a turnover in the first term. Tended to opt for a lot of space on the attacking side when matched up on Mitch O’Neill up the ground, and it allowed him to find over half of his 21 disposals uncontested. It clearly worked in his favour as Taheny used his skills and the time afforded to make a couple of darting hit-up passes toward the forward 50 arc in the third term. A good day for the dynamic SA prospect.

#10 Joshua Shute

Shute managed to accumulate 21 disposals as one of SA’s better outside movers on his customary wing. While his running game was not as obvious as in his other carnival outings, Shute showed good pace when called upon and worked hard to penetrate the arcs at either end by foot. Is one whose stocks have risen after some solid representative action, and has noticeable traits as a rangy outsider.

#12 Will Day

Put in another slick display off half-back, building into the game with a purple patch in the second term. Is a good height while being quite light on, but still held up well in contests to add to his more prevalent outside traits. Only had the two rebound 50s but made some typically neat kicks as he won the ball up the ground. Half-backs are dime a dozen, but Day is starting to set himself apart.

#15 Harry Schoenberg

Was arguably one of the biggest improvers across the national championships, finishing off an outstanding carnival with 27 disposals to earn his state’s MVP award and be named All Australian. Plays a more unheralded role given the class of his centre bounce partners, but well and truly did it all from midfield with five marks, five clearances, four tackles, and a goal. That goal came on the run from range in the second term to spark South Australia’s dominance, and Schoenberg enjoyed a short game of kick to kick with Will Day later in the quarter to pad his stats. He almost snared another goal on the fly in the third term but missed, but just seems to win the ball wherever he goes. Hands out and kicks forward well, making him a rounded midfield prospect.

#18 Jackson Mead

Another strong showing from the potential Port Adelaide father-son, and he started beautifully with a couple of spearing hits through the corridor to find teammates leading up to the forward 50 arc. Mead would go on to rack up the ball well and continued to push forward in damaging fashion on the outside when allowed the time and space. Showed a bit of cheek to throw the ball at his opponent as he was shoved out of bounds, and capped a solid game with his neat checkside goal in the third term. Mead used his frame to win the ball between the arcs, but bit off a bit too much when moving through congestion as he was caught holding the ball just before his goal. Rightly earned All Australian honours, but Port fans will want to keep that on the down-low.

#19 Luke Edwards

One of few bottom-agers in the SA squad but was again impressive in spurts, making him a leading father-son prospect (Adelaide) for next year. Found a spot in the back six throughout the carnival, but will become a good midfielder in time with his clean hands and strong frame. Edwards had a shaky moment early with a pretty bad turnover by foot on defensive wing, but would make amends later in the game with some clean gathers off the deck and improved composure inside defensive 50 as the game wore on. Also had a nice bit of play when recovering from a spilt mark, putting in a quick first few steps to get away from danger. Has a handy bit of versatility and will have impressed many.

#20 Lachlan McNeil

Another less heralded midfielder pre-championships, McNeil was again one of his side’s leading ball winners as a hard-working cog on the inside of SA’s engine room. His impact is not always noticeable, but McNeil’s touches and tackles at the stoppages proved vital in allowing the likes of Stephens to work the ball forward in space. Can work on polishing up his disposal at times, shown by a kick and handball under pressure in the final term, but is a great role player in the midfield mix.

#24 Will Gould

The two-time All Australian defender is an absolute unit, and used his frame to good effect throughout the game. You just always feel nervous for his opponents as he closes in, exemplified best as he threw his body around early and laid a crunching bump on the much smaller Errol Gulden later in the third term, who he has 30kg on. On top of his physicality, Gould is also surprisingly damaging by foot – playing as one of SA’s designated kickers from defence. Given his ability to stand up in tackles, Gould is often cool in a crisis and has the confidence to take the game on by playing on from kick-ins. He did so in the second term, and got busy in the following quarter inside defensive 50 with some neat touches to keep his side composed. He hits the ball hard from that centre half-back position, and that boded well for his 10 rebound 50s from 25 disposals. His ability to play tall became obvious with a couple of marking efforts from the side too, and he looks a dynamic prospect.

#33 Dyson Hilder

Was swung forward in this game and while Hilder did not find whole lot of the ball (eight disposals, two marks), he still had some nice moments with efforts in the air. He was unlucky not to claim a couple more marks in the second term, flying well for one on the forward 50 arc and having one taken away from him with a free kick inside 50. He did manage to hold on for a mark in the final quarter among a decent pack, booting his only goal for the game with the resultant set shot. Enjoyed a promising carnival, formerly forming a solid partnership with Karl Finlay down back.

#35 Karl Finlay

Assumed his usual role as the leading key defender for SA, and did so to great effect to be one of his side’s best in the first half. Only had the four marks from his 11 disposals but it seemed like he had more, starting with a strong take going back on the defensive arc. Finlay followed it up with a couple of spoils in aerial contests in defence and up on the wing, putting in similar efforts in the second quarter. His attack on the ball and consequential rebound on the fly was excellent for a player of his size, and he could be that intercepting defender at the next level – rather than a key position back.

Allies:

#1 Errol Gulden

The bottom-aged Sydney Academy member was again impressive, buzzing around the forward half and proving damaging as he wheeled craftily onto his left side. He started in ideal fashion with a well-read crumb off hands inside 50 and clinical finish for his side’s first and only goal in the opening term. While his spearing passes on the left look good when they come off, Gulden has a tendency to look for those low-percentage kicks across the 50 arc and did turn one over in this game. Can pick his shots better, but is so damaging when he hits them and you would not want to smother his natural talent. Finished with 14 disposals (12 uncontested).

#2 Hewago Paul Oea

The Papua New Guinea-born forward made his usual impact, but also did well to find more disposals than his carnival average (15). His defensive pressure and damage on the outside was terrific, while also flicking out effective handballs when under a touch more pressure. Better known as ‘Ace’, much of the Suns Academy member’s best work was done over the back when streaming forward, sending the ball inside 50 on five occasions and finding Noah Cumberland well to supply him with one of his two goals.

#3 Connor Budarick

Named All Australian in the back pocket, Budarick’s Academy Series MVP award was largely earned for his work through the midfield, and his handball-heavy 21 disposals ensured a solid end to his national carnival. The Suns Academy skipper continued to do the dirty work as the anchor at centre bounces, laying eight tackles and winning over half of his possessions in contested situations despite only standing at 175cm. He is all heart, but has the speed and finishing qualities up forward to make him even more desirable for the Suns. Found the goals with the first major of the second half after cleaning up from Tom Griffiths’ tackle on Will Gould.

#4 Malcolm Rosas Jnr

Rosas continued his electric end to the national championships, combining harmoniously with the Allies’ brigade of zippy smalls to give the opposition defenders headaches. While there is not much of him, the Darwin product has a good knack of prizing the ball free with opponents around, but works even better in space and has the speed to find it. Was one of the more influential Allies with his 15 disposals and three inside 50s, and could have had an even better game with better finishing. Still managed to post two goals after his first-half woes in front of the big sticks and offers some real silk forward of centre.

#9 Mitch O’Neill

The hard-nosed Tasmanian earned second All Australian honours with another solid outing, collecting a respectable 16 disposals on the wing. He often started with a fair bit of separation from his opponent when the centre bounces went up, and it showed as he found a touch more uncontested ball than usual. Did not have as profound an impact as he has shown he can over the last two games with his role on the outer of midfield, but always manages to attract the ball and works hard both ways to help out his defenders and provide for forwards.

#12 Ashton Crossley

The Lions Academy member is a contested ball beast, complimenting fellow big-bodied midfielder Tom Green well at the stoppages to have arguably his best game for the carnival. Is a handball-happy kind of player in his extraction role, and that was no different in this game with his 16 handballs from 22 disposals – with six clearances to boot. Played his role well and provided a physical edge, but can work on polishing up his disposal and running game.

#16 Ben Jungfer

Another inside type in the Allies midfield, Jungfer was slightly down on his usual disposal output with 10. Still fulfilled his role of prizing the ball free and winning it at the coalface, with eight of his possessions contested and three of them ending in clearances. Just gets the ball going forward when allowed to throw it on the boot, and got it moving inside 50 when he could.

#20 Matt McGrory

Was one who stepped up in patches and looked to have built into the game nicely after a relatively quiet opening. Is usually employed out on the wing, but had a couple of good moments under pressure with kicks going inside 50 and showed glimpses of his class that had been more few and far between in previous outings. Showed some promise with his 14 disposals and consolation goal in the final term.

#22 Tom Green

Again led the way for his side as their leading ball-winner (23 disposals, 18 contested possessions, six clearances), bossing stoppage proceedings but having less impact around the ground than he did in his previous outing. Used his big frame to stand up in tackles and keep the ball alive in typical fashion, while laying seven of his own on South Australia’s nippier midfield types. Rightly earned All Australian honours and pushed his case well for top 10 selection come the end of the year as the pool’s leading inside midfielder.

#46 Noah Cumberland

Cumberland just continues to get better and found form at the right time during the carnival. Loves to kick long down the line and get his side going with some rugby-like dash, but was caught out for running too far early on as he tucked the ball under his arm. While he shows moments of his rawness, Cumberland also proved classy with his two goals, and particularly with his nicely weighted set shot in the third term. Had 18 impactful disposals, four tackles and four inside 50s as one of his side’s best. Will be an interesting prospect for the Lions to consider going forward.

Robertson leads class of 2019 in All Australian side

LARKE medallist Deven Robertson leads a strong brigade of midfielders in the 2019 Under 18 All Australian side which was announced today. The team features an impressive seven players from Vic Country and six from champions Western Australia, while South Australia has four players. The Allies and Vic Metro have supplied three players each to the team.

Vic Country’s defence was a strength of its 2019 campaign, with full-back Sam De Koning, and half backs Lachlan Ash and Hayden Young making the side. Up forward, Gippsland Power teammates Sam Flanders and Country Most Valuable Player (MVP) Caleb Serong have both secured spots, while Cody Weightman has been named on the bench after a superb carnival as the leading goal kicker. For the eventual champions Western Australia, their entire midfield just about made the cut with captain Robertson leading the charge, joined in the side by Trent Rivers, Jeremy Sharp, Liam Henry and ruckman Luke Jackson. Elijah Taylor also earned All Australian honours up forward after an electrifying few weeks.

South Australia provided Will Gould who along with Sharp and Mitch O’Neill made it back-to-back All Australian appearances, with the Croweaters captain supported by teammates, Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Dylan Stephens. The Allies MVP Tom Green and Harrison Medallist (best Academy Series player) Connor Budarick made the side along with O’Neill, meaning one from each of Queensland, New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) and Tasmania have achieved All Australian status. Vic Metro’s potential top two picks Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson were unsurprising inclusions in the side, along with Metro MVP Fischer McAsey who holds down a key back position.

Western Australia’s title-winning coach Peter Sumich was named as coach of the 2019 Under-18 All Australian side. Remarkably, no bottom-age players made the All Australian side this year, meaning next year’s squad is likely to be made up of 23 fresh new players.

FULL BACKS:

CONNOR BUDARICK – ALLIES

The talented midfielder was named in the back pocket having spent time in defence during the Academy Series, averaging 15.5 disposals, 2.3 marks and 9.3 rebounds in the AFL National Under 18 Championships. He had just the two rebounds during the four-game championships, but can play anywhere on the field and earned his place after winning the Harrison Medal.

SAM DE KONING – VIC COUNTRY

Consistent as ever across the series, De Koning got better as the carnival went on, and was one of Vic Country’s best in the final two games when a lot of his teammates were down on form. His intercept marking was a treat to watch as he finished the carnival with 12.5 disposals, 4.8 marks and 2.3 rebounds, playing mostly as a one-on-one defender with great spoiling technique.

WILL GOULD – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The South Australian captain made it back-to-back all Australian jumpers and as the premier rebounder of the competition, it was no surprise to see his name feature in defence. He averaged 21.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 2.5 tackles and a mammoth 7.5 rebounds – seven more total rebounds than his nearest competitor. An absolute beast who almost won his side the game against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium.

 

HALF BACKS:

LACHLAN ASH – VIC COUNTRY

The slick, powerful boot of Lachlan Ash featured plenty of times over the championships, and he ranked third in the competition for rebounds and the highest disposal winner of the five rebounders. Ash finished with 23.0 disposals, 5.0 marks and 5.0 rebounds, as well as a handy 3.0 inside 50s getting forward and setting up attacking plays. Ash was the one who found Brodie Kemp for the winning goal against South Australia.

FISCHER MCASEY – VIC METRO

The Metro MVP was a revelation during the carnival and showed off his strength, intercept marking and long kicking out of defence. The Sandringham Dragons product racked up 14.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.3 tackles and 2.5 rebounds clearly being the most important player for Metro and helping them in each and every game with great consistency.

HAYDEN YOUNG – VIC COUNTRY

Similar to Ash, Young has a super boot that he uses to penetrate through opposition zones and his elite kicking skills were on display throughout the carnival. Ranked fourth overall for rebounds, Young completed the series with an averaged of 22.0 disposals, 5.3 marks, 2.3 tackles and 4.5 rebounds.

 

CENTRE:

NOAH ANDERSON – VIC METRO

The powerful midfielder averaged an impressive 23.5 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.8 tackles, 5.3 clearances and 3.0 rebounds, living up to pre-carnival expectations. He recorded the equal fifth and equal third most disposals across the tournament, being a key difference in the midfield battle between teams and finishing top five in the Larke Medal voting.

DEVEN ROBERTSON – WESTERN AUSTRALIA (CAPTAIN)

The Western Australia captain finished with a swagger of awards including state MVP, Larke Medal and All Australian jumper and the captaincy to boot. The ball winning midfielder not only had an impressive carnival, but he dominated, picking up the most ever disposals – 120 – which was two more than Sam Walsh last year. He also amassed an average of 4.3 marks, 6.8 tackles, 4.8 clearances, 4.0 inside 50s and 3.5 rebounds in a well-rounded game overall.

MITCH O’NEILL – ALLIES

The Tasmania Devils talent had two best on ground performances for the Allies across the carnival, averaging 20.3 disposals, 5.5 marks, 2.5 clearances and 3.3 rebounds spending time in defence and using his effective skills when driving the Allies forward. A key talent who does not win as much of the footy as others, but uses it well. Back-to-back All-Australians for O’Neill after making the squad on the bench last year.

 

HALF FORWARDS:

JACKSON MEAD – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

One of five midfielders named in the forward line, Mead did show an ability to play forward, booting two crucial last quarter goals for South Australia against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium. They were his only two goals of the carnival as he dominated the midfield with 21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.0 clearances, 3.8 inside 50s and 5.0 tackles to be the playmaker in the forward half setting up scoring opportunities for his teammates.

ELIJAH TAYLOR – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The exciting forward looked classy throughout the past month, booting three goals against the Allies to help turn the game in the Sandgropers favour, and earning a place in the All Australian forward line. He finished with six goals from his four games to be equal third in the competition for goals, also averaging 12.3 disposals and 2.5 marks.

SAM FLANDERS – VIC COUNTRY

The Gippsland Power potential top five pick was one of Vic Country’s most consistent along with Power teammate and Country MVP Caleb Serong. He averaged 22.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 6.0 tackles, 4.5 clearances and 4.8 inside 50s across his four games to stamp his authority on each and every match. He only managed the two goals, but was constantly looking like a threat in the forward half.

 

FORWARDS:

CALEB SERONG – VIC COUNTRY

Vic Country’s MVP ball-winning midfielder finds a place in the forward pocket, a role he has played as a bottom ager and is capable of doing. He booted three goals from his four games this carnival, racking up the equal fifth most disposals across the matches, averaging 23.5 disposals, 5.5 marks, 8.5 tackles, 5.3 clearances and 3.0 inside 50s.

BRODIE KEMP – VIC COUNTRY

The Bendigo Pioneers utility played everywhere over the championships, starting in the back pocket, moving into his dominant midfield role, then going forward and kicking crucial goals after towering marks. The most memorable was the winning goal for Vic Country against South Australia, but his whole carnival was a highlight, raising his draft stakes by averaging 20.0 disposals, 6.5 marks, 2.3 tackles and booting three goals in his four games.

LIAM HENRY – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Mixed emotions for Fremantle fans as their Next Generation Academy prospect Liam Henry earns a spot in the All Australian team. His talent is undeniable but his value at the draft board just skyrocketed, as he enjoyed an impressive carnival, booting three goals in four games, but having 17.5 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.0 tackles and 3.3 inside 50s.

 

RUCK/ROVERS:

LUKE JACKSON – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The dominant ruckman across the championships, Jackson stamped his authority as the top ruck in this year’s draft crop with four impressive games. Jackson recorded a massive 59 more hitouts than the next highest ruck, averaging 36.8 per game, while finding the ball with 14.5 disposals, 2.5 marks and 3.0 tackles.

TOM GREEN – ALLIES

The big-bodied inside midfielder took out the Allies’ MVP and showed off his leadership skills throughout as captain of the combined side. His inside work was the best of anyone and followed on from a remarkable Academy Series where he averaged more than 30 disposals and 10 clearances. Green once again was the number one clearance player, averaging eight per game as well as 23.8 disposals, 2.8 marks and 4.5 tackles, with almost 50 per cent of his possessions once in the the contest.

MATT ROWELL – VIC METRO

The potential number one pick in the 2019 AFL National Draft did not harm his draft chances one iota after he was named among the best in each of the four games, including a couple of best on ground performances. He amassed 24.8 disposals, 5.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, 5.3 clearances and 3.0 inside 50s, ranked third for both disposals and clearances in a terrific carnival, adding yet another award to his already impressive collection.

 

INTERCHANGE:

HARRY SCHOENBERG – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The South Australian MVP was a bolter of the carnival, impressing over highly fancied teammates and becoming a crucial player both on the inside and outside of the contest. He averaged the second most disposals behind the Larke Medallist Robertson, finished with 27.0 disposals, 4.8 marks, 4.8 tackles and 5.8 clearances.

JEREMY SHARP – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The third back-to-back All Australian played all over the ground, from defence to attack and in midfield, and had a solid all-round game with 21.0 disposals, 5.8 marks and three goals from his four games to earn a place in the 23-player squad.

CODY WEIGHTMAN – VIC COUNTRY

The speedy small forward continued his rise in the NAB League Boys with Dandenong Stingrays by topping the goal kicking in his four games. He finished with nine goals – eight of them came in two games, and also recorded 11.0 disposals, 3.5 marks, 2.0 tackles and 2.3 goals and could have arguably made the field as the top performing pure forward in the side.

TRENT RIVERS – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The classy midfielder never let his team down and was a key player with Robertson in the midfield, working hard on the outside and from half-back to use his vision and skill to pinpoint targets up the field. He had 21.8 disposals, 5.0 marks, 2.5 tackles and 3.0 rebounds across the tournament and could be the Sandgropers first player picked in November.

DYLAN STEPHENS – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

In three of the four games, Stephens was terrific using his slick skills and movement in transition to great effect going forward with the ball. He averaged 23.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.3 tackles, 4.5 clearances and 4.8 inside 50s playing his role as that outside midfielder perfectly.

Western Australia and Vic Country to decide AFL U18s title

A NEW national champion will be crowned tomorrow evening with Vic Country and Western Australia set to lock horns for the national title, while South Australia and the Allies play after in what has become a dead rubber match, but still plenty of talent on show. Vic Country has not won since 2015, with Vic Metro and South Australia combining for the other seven titles in that time. Josh Schache was named the Larke Medallist for his dominance up forward, in a team that included Darcy Parish, Ben Ainsworth, Jarrod Berry, Jacob Weitering and Rhys Mathieson. For Western Australia, the time between wins is even longer, with a decade passing since their 2009 triumph where the likes of David Swallow, Mitch Duncan, Jack Darling, Brandon Matera and Travis Colyer were running around in the yellow and black.

 

VIC COUNTRY vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Wednesday July 3, 2.10pm
Marvel Stadium

The 2019 AFL Under-18 National Championships once again comes down to the final day, and the winner of this match between Vic Country and Western Australia with the home side undefeated from its three games, while Western Australia has won two out of three, the only blip coming in a low-scoring against South Australia in Round 1. Both teams have accounted for the Allies and Vic Metro – with Country notching up its two wins early on including a 15-goal humiliation of the Allies, while Western Australia had to fight hard but recorded strong wins over both. This game is set to be a beauty with the strong defence of the Country side going head-to-head with the excitement machines that represent Western Australia.

Vic Country has made two changes for the game with Sandringham Dragons’ Darcy Chirgwin coming in for his first game of the series following a successful return from injury a couple of weekends ago against Eastern Ranges. That day he collected 32 disposals and 11 clearances in an impressive return match, joined in the Country side by Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild who was left out of the Murray side on the weekend in order to play this game, but picked up 29 touches the week prior. Fraser Phillips and Lachlan Williams are the two players to miss out after quiet games in the narrow win over South Australia. Western Australia has opted for four changes with the highly rated Jeremy Sharp missing out on the side this week, while Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley and Reuben McGuire are also out of the team. In their place come a couple of overagers in Ryan Bennell and Jarvis Pina, as well as Nathan O’Driscoll and Nicholas Martin.

Both teams have the capability to move the ball with speed, and for Country, it has the two best half-backs in the draft in Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash making life difficult for any side as they slice up opposition zones. Brock Smith and Sam De Koning have proven to stand up as the key talls, with Smith having to play in a higher weight division as he will with a potential match-up against bottom-age tall Logan McDonald on the cards. The small forwards of Country have been very damaging with Cody Weightman the leading goalkicker of the carnival and it will be between him and Elijah Taylor to take out the title. Elijah Hollands has weaved magic across the past month despite being a bottom-ager, while Ned Cahill has worked well with Weightman transitioning from Dandenong Stingrays to the Country side. The midfield of Gippsland Power duo, Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders, and Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp has made a massive difference and will no doubt look to control the ball in there, able to match it with the strong West Australian midfielders.

Western Australia’s strength lies in its ruck and speed. Luke Jackson is the dominant ruck and is set for All-Australian honours, while Taylor, Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne have that X-factor about them and can create something out of nothing. Deven Robertson has done his draft chances no harm after being injured last year, coming second in the disposals across the carnival, and being a shining light as captain of the Sandgropers. Riley Garcia and Chad Warner have also been consistent in there, while Trent Rivers is a touch of class who can play between half-back and the wing, or go through the middle. The bottom-age talls of McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras hold the visitors in good stead for next year, while Jake Pasini and Callum Jamieson have been strong up either end at the carnival. Spectators also get a glimpse of bottom-age talent O’Driscoll who has been named at half-back, in a game that is predicted to be an absolute beauty.

Vic Country will head in as favourites having gone undefeated thus far, but Western Australia are fresh off a rest whereas Vic Country have the five-day break so it will be interesting to see how that affects them.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 26. Jesse Clark – 36. Sam De Koning – 9. Isaac Wareham
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash – 24. Brock Smith – 18. Hayden Young
C: 8. Thomson Dow – 16. Brodie Kemp – 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill – 20. Elijah Hollands – 13. Jay Rantall
F: 6. Riley Baldi – 39. Josh Smith – 3. Cody Weightman
R: 40. Charlie Comben – 4. Sam Flanders – 2. Caleb Serong
INT: 22. Darcy Chirgwin – 14. Liam Herbert – 10. Harrison Pepper – 5. Cameron Wild

IN: Darcy Chirgwin, Cam Wild
OUT: Fraser Phillips, Lachlan Williams

Western Australia:

B: 13. Ben Johnson – 21. Jake Pasini – 20. Jaxon Prior
HB: 22. Max Murphy – 36. Denver Grainger-Barras – 7. Nathan O’Driscoll
C: 12. Regan Clarke – 10. Deven Robertson – 5. Liam Henry
HF: 18. Jai Jackson – 25. Logan McDonald – 19. ELijah Taylor
F: 23. Nicholas Martin – 39. Callum Jamieson – 3. Tyrone Thorne
R: 32. Luke Jackson – 14. Chad Warner – 4. Riley Garcia
INT: 34. Ryan Bennell – 24. Ronin O’Connor – 11. Jarvis Pina – 35. Trent Rivers – 26. Trey Ruscoe

IN: Nathan O’Driscoll – Nicholas Martin, Ryan Bennell, Jarvis Pina
OUT: Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley, Jeremy Sharp, Reuben McGuire

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. ALLIES
Wednesday July 3, 4.40pm
Marvel Stadium

In the second game of the double-header, South Australia and Allies will effectively play-off for third spot having already amassed two losses from three games. As South Australia defeated Western Australia, the Croweaters can effectively grab second with a win over the Allies and a Vic Country triumph in the first game. However they could also finish last with a loss, because they also lost to Vic Metro who sit with the same amount of wins – one. If the Allies win they will grab third, while if they lose they will be fourth after ensuring they will not finish last thanks to the win over Vic Metro. South Australia came agonisingly close to making this a title game if they had come away with the points against Vic Country, but with their back-to-back hopes dashed, the Croweaters will be keen to finish off the carnival with a good win.

The Allies have made two changes to the side that got over the line by two points against Vic Metro, recalling exciting bottom-age forward Braeden Campbell, as well as ball winner, Jeromy Lucas who has been named at full-forward. Out of the side go Nicholas Brewer and James Peatling. The South Australians have also made the two changes with Kysaiah Pickett returning from suspension for the game, joined in the side by Jordan Moore, while Jordan O’Brien and Brady Searle are the outs from the team that narrowly lost to Vic Country in the previous game.

The battle of the midfields will be entertaining with Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Lachlan McNeil going head-to-head with Tom Green, Ben Jungfer and Connor Budarick on the outside, while Will Martyn and Mitch O’Neill will hope to match the run provided by Dylan Stephens and Josh Shute on the wing. Up forward, South Australia has some great variety with Daniel Sladojevic the key tall, Cameron Taheny as the talented medium forward, and Pickett as the electrifying small. Noah Cumberland, Tom Griffiths and Luke Parks are in some good form and will look to cover the smalls and mediums, while Liam Delahunty could have the job on Sladojevic.

Up the other end, the South Australian defence is right up there in terms of quality with Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay a couple of dominant tall intercept markers, allowing captain Will Gould to run riot off half-back. Will Day and Luke Edwards also create great run and rebound out of the back half, but will need to be accountable to the likes of Campbell and Hewago Paul Oea who are nimble and damaging if given time and space. Josh Gore is in some ripping form after three goals in the last game, and Hamish Ellem has also produced the goods at ground level. Add in the Allies depth of Errol Gulden and Malcolm Rosas Jr coming off the bench through the forward half and they have plenty of scoring options. Corey Durdin is a name to remember for next year for the Croweaters, while Damon Freitag could cause issues given his size and strength.

South Australia will be favourites in this game given how close all of their games have been, but the Allies have improved each game they have run out, so if that is any indication, they are set to hold up here against strong opposition.

TEAMS:

South Australia:

B: 35. Karl Finlay – 33. Dyson Hilder – 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 19. Luke Edwards – 24. Will Gould – 12. Will Day
C: 10. Joshua Shute – 18. Jackson Mead – 7. Dylan Stephens
HF: 8. Jed McEntee – 32. Daniel Sladojevic – 17. Josh Morris
F: 31. Jordan Moore – 9. Cameron Taheny – 1. Kysaiah Pickett
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows – 15. Harry Schoenberg – 20. Lachlan McNeil
INT: 14. Declan Carmody – 3. Corey Durdin – 42. Damon Freitag – 11. Callum Park – 28 Oliver Shaw

IN: Kysaiah Pickett, Jordan Moore
OUT: Jordan O’Brien, Brady Searle

Allies:

B: 8. Tom Griffiths – 52. Dirk Koenen – 21. Luke Parks
HB: 46. Noah Cumberland – 26. Liam Delahunty – 36. Sam Thorne
C: 15. Will Martyn – 3. Connor Budarick – 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell – 37. Josh Gore – 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 31. Hamish Ellem – 47. Jeromy Lucas – 32. Jack Steele
R: 54. Ben Kelly – 22. Thomas Green – 16. Ben Jungfer
INT: 12. Ashton Crossley – 1. Errol Gulden – 24.Joel Jeffrey – 20. Matt McGrory – 4. Malcolm Rosas Jr

IN: Jeromy Lucas, Braeden Campbell
OUT: Nicholas Brewer, James Peatling

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the third edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we have compiled our top 30 players at this stage of the year. So much changes over the next 12 months, with only bottom-age form and the first couple of months of the seasons to go by so far. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs. In July, despite the list extended out to our top 30, there are still a number of prospects knocking on the door. For our June monthly rankings, check out this link.

#1 Matthew Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

June Ranking: #1

Last month: Rowell was a standout performer for Vic Metro in the AFL Under 18 Championships to no-one’s surprise. While many teammates could not lift in the opening two games, Rowell was a steady force for the Metro team and continued his form throughout the four matches. He averaged 24.8 disposals, 5.0 marks and 0.8 goals at the carnival and it is hard to see him displaced from the top spot on the list.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

June Ranking: #2

Last month: Much like Rowell, Anderson has not lowered his colours over the national carnival, being another standout performer with Rowell and Fischer McAsey for Vic Metro. In the four matches, Anderson has averaged 23.5 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.8 tackles and 0.5 goals. Expect him to finish the year strongly in the NAB League once returning from his Carey Grammar duties.

#3 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

June Ranking: #3

Last month: We had him up in the region for some time but his national carnival pushed his name into lights as a potential contender for Pick 1, and along with Lachlan Ash as one of the most damaging ball users in the draft crop. In three games, Young has averaged 22.0 disposals, 5.7 marks and 5.0 rebounds. He is more of an offensive defender, laying just the 1.3 tackles, but is strong one-on-one and knows how to intercept both in the air or at ground level.

#4 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. He will be a massive chance for the Morrish Medal if he stays fit, and is a crucial part of the Murray Bushrangers outfit. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

June Ranking: #4

Last month: Ash had another terrific carnival game against South Australia, setting up the kick to Brodie Kemp for the winning goal. He has averaged 23.3 disposals, 5.3 marks, 3.3 inside 50s and 4.0 rebounds, getting up the ground and having an influence as well. A great choice for a team looking for that half-back with a deadly boot and terrific decision making skills under pressure.

#5 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

June Ranking: #6

Last month: Moves up into number five on our rankings because of his consistency through the midfield. Stepped up to be one of the dominant Vic Country midfielders, and his hands in close are every bit as good as anyone else, and he has a match-winning ability. Needs to iron out his set shots which can be inconsistent, but in terms of his talent, it is untapped and could have a higher ceiling than most. Averaging 22.0 disposals, 4.3 marks, 6.0 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and 0.7 goals per game.

#6 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

June Ranking: #5

Last month: After a quiet couple of games earlier in the carnival by his standards, Green was back to his best against Vic Metro and really stood tall in the narrow two-point win at GMHBA Stadium. In his three games, Green has averaged 24.0 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.0 inside 50s and 3.7 tackles, but most importantly, is averaging almost seven clearances per game. He is the inside distributor who the GWS GIANTS will have to fork out a pretty penny to match.

#7 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

June Ranking: #8

Last month: One of the leading contenders for the Larke Medal should he play another blinder against Western Australia at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday. He has moved up a spot on our rankings and is averaging the third most dispsoals behind Deven Robertson and Harry Schoenberg at the championships.  This carnival he has averaged 26.0 disposals, 6.0 clearances, 3.7 inside 50s, 2.0 tackles, 1.0 goals and a massive 7.7 tackles. He can win the ball inside or out and despite his size has plenty to like.

#8 Mitch O’Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Outside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

June Ranking: #13

Last month: Overcoming a pesky ankle injury, O’Neill produced two best-on-ground performances for the Allies in their losses, before being solid without being outstanding in the win over Vic Metro. His ball use is what sets him aside from many other prospects, and while he does not always rack up the numbers others do, he rarely wastes a disposal. Has averaged 21.7 disposals, 7.0 marks and 3.7 rebounds at the championships, often playing in the defensive half of the ground. Could play as a running defender or as a winger at the top level, with his lighter frame used more as an outside player rather than inside one.

#9 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

June Ranking: #15

Last month: One of a number of bolters up the draft board for this month, the hero from Vic Country’s win over South Australia makes it into the top 10. Kemp played his first full game in the midfield for the championships after spending the first couple of matches in defence. Kemp has that nice size of 192cm that makes him a prospect with good upside given nice athletic traits and a clutch ability (winning a high-level game with the final kick). He has averaged 21.0 disposals, 7.0 marks, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 clearances across his three games at the championships.

#10 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings, but I rate him as the standout tall in the draft. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendancies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

June Ranking: #9

Last month: After a quiet game against Vic Metro in South Australia’s loss, Gould was one of the Croweaters’ best in their one-point defeat at the hands of Vic Country. Gould was almost the hero with a last quarter goal showing his ability to sum up the game and his burst through the middle and long-range goal came at a crucial time. Readymade player with his strength and size, and has averaged 20.3 disposals, 6.3 rebounds and 4.0 marks in his three games at the carnival.

#11 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

June Ranking: #12

Last month: A mixed bag for the national carnival, had one impressive game, one disappointing game and one strong game form his three matches thus far. He still moves up one spot from last month, and when given time and space can be very damaging. Like O’Neill, Stephens is still lightly built and has been used as an outside midfielder, avearging 20.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.7 tackles and 3.7 inside 50s.

#12 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required. He might play more of an inside role at the National Championships, but South Australia will be keen to give him time and space to impact the contest best.

June Ranking: #14

Last month: Arguably South Australia’s most consistent player in the three games thus far along with Harry Schoenberg, Mead has every chance to be the first South Australian picked in this year’s AFL Draft. Port Adelaide fans will be keen to keep him under wraps, but Mead has averaged 21.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3,7 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 5.7 tackles in the carnival so far and moves up two spots in our rankings to follow two of his South Australian compatriots.

#13 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

June Ranking: #12

Last month: After a quiet first game in the AFL Under 18 National Championships, Bianco has put together a few strong performances. He has been utilised as more of a winger, which has benefited him, averaging 18.5 disposals. 4.3 marks, 3.8 clearances, 3.8 inside 50s and 3.0 tackles. Predominantly outside, Bianco’s next step would be his defensive capabilities as a way to grow further, but he is still quite light compared to other players.

#14 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

June Ranking: #10

Last month: The exciting medium forward has been battling injury and form on and off this season and while he has shown glimpses, has not lived up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. He is still a natural match-winner, and one can expect with a good finals series in the NAB League that Williams could be similar to others before him (think Tim Taranto) and shoot up into the top 10 calculations – which he would be considered in for upside. 

#15 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitment machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

June Ranking: #11

Last month: Similar to Williams, Taheny has also had injury concerns and has not been able to dominate to this stage, but still has plenty of tricks in his arsenal. In South Australia’s final game at Marvel Stadium, Taheny could be one who gets off the leash and announces himself as a genuine top 10 prospect with a big game. Huge celing for the general forward.

#16 Fischer McAsey

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 86kg

Fischer McAsey is a key position defender who has played up the attacking end in previous years. He has found his place in the defence in 2019. and seems to be a settled player there not only doing well for Sandringham Dragons and at Caulfield Grammar, but stepping up for Vic Metro at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He is considered one of the draft bolters this season, with not too many key position talls jumping up, McAsey is a player who is firmly putting his hand up as a top 10 prospect should his form continue, and he has plenty of traits to like. His intercept marking, athleticism and ball use by foot is very solid and does not have too many weaknesses across the board.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: The draft bolter of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, McAsey earned the title of Vic Metro’s Most Valuable Player (MVP)  for his work in defence. In his four games, McAsey has averaged 14.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 tackles, not only nullifying his direct opponent, but creating offensive run out of defence.

#17 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

June Ranking: #23

Last month: Class with a capital ‘C’. Rivers is a big-bodied midfielder who uses it well on the inside or outside , and has been utilised as a winger or off half-back for the Sandgropers at the national carnival. It has allowed Rivers to use his precise decision making and foot skills to be advantage his team, and in the three games thus far, has averaged 22.3 disposals, 5.3 marks, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 tackles. Does not need many touches to impact a contest.

#18 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College and Vic Metro before returning to the Dragons for the finals series.

June Ranking: #16

Last month: A hard player to place because he could be a top 10 pick on his best days, which he has shown capable of being just that at both ends. For Vic Metro he has filled the void up forward, booting seven goals from his first three games before going kickless in the last match against the Allies. In the national carnival he averaged 10.8 disposals and 3.8 marks, but could be an attractive prospect to clubs at either end.

#19 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

June Ranking: #17

Last month: The tackling machine has averaged two more tackles per game than any other player at the AFL Under 18 National Championships, laying a massive 9.7 across his three matches. He has played on the outside, and while he has not racked up massive numbers (13.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s), he has a high work rate and rarely makes too many mistakes. Has dropped two places only due to others pushing a case ahead of him.

#20 Cody Weightman

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

For the first two months of our Power Rankings, the electric small forward has been on the periphery of making it, and after a terrific national carnival – where he booted four goals in two of his three games – Weightman makes it into the Power Rankings in July. He has a high ceiling given he can create goals out of nothing and score from general play or set shots and has a powerful kicking action to boot. Just 177cm and 73kg, Weightman is another light prospect who has plenty of development left in him. Could be another player who lights up NAB League finals as he is a big game player.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: After four goals in two of his three national championship games, Weightman slots into the top 20. There is not much of him, but he is likely to win the leading goalkicker award for the carnival , and has averaged 13.3 disposals, 4.7 marks and 3.0 inside 50s in his three games with one to go. Weightman will be keen to finish off on the right note in the final game at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday against Western Australia.

#21 Liam Henry

Claremont/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 179cm | 67kg

A member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy, Henry is another lightly built midfielder who can go forward and impact a game inside 50. Henry has nice skills and slick athletic traits that help him work his way out of congestion while making good decisions with ball-in-hand. He does need to find a bit more of the football at times which is the next step, but he is a player who will rarely waste a possession and one who Fremantle fans would be excited to have on their list. Still has scope to develop further, and grow into his body at just 67kg and another sub-180cm midfielder. One who would be keen to finish off the year strongly – although perhaps Fremantle would prefer he kept it in check. A highly talented player.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been solid in the AFL Under 18 National Championships, averaging 15.0 disposals, 5.0 marks, 3.7 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and 1.0 goals per game from his first three matches. He could be one who thrives at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday in the final game of the championships when the Sandgropers play for the title against Vic Country. Another player some clubs might rate really highly depending on needs and where they see his scope for potential.

#22 Jack Mahony

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Small Forward/Midfielder
12/11/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

One of the top performed and highly rated players at Under-15 level, Jack Mahony remains a top prospect despite others putting their hand up since. He might only stand at 176cm, but the Sandringham Dragons midfielder/forward has plenty to like about what he can offer to an AFL club. His kicking is as good as anyone in the draft crop, but more for his vision and decision making more so than a penetrating boot like others. He is a unique playmaker in the sense that he can set others up inside 50 with centimetre-perfect passes to leading teammates over any distance. Has more impact in the forward half, particularly as the player with the last disposal going inside 50. Hits the scoreboard himself as well which is important, and can run all day through the midfield if need be, though his size may limit him at the elite level.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Mahony has stepped up at the AFL Under 18 National Championships, playing consistently across the board, but impressing in the final game at GMHBA Stadium last Friday. He was one of Metro’s best, booting three goals – including two in the final term – and setting up countless others for teammates with his swift decision making and ball use in the forward half. In his four games for Metro, Mahony averaged 18.0 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s and 2.8 clearances, as well as averaging a goal per game. He loves the contested stuff, winning the ball at the coalface more than half of the time.

#23 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

June Ranking: #20

Last month: The standout ruck across the AFL Under 18 National Championships, averaging a massive 36.7 hitouts as well as 13.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 3.0 tackles and 4.3 clearances. While smaller players have knocked him down a couple of players in these rankings, the athletic tall is almost certain to be named All-Australian ruck as the only pure ruck to be averaging double-figure disposals at the carnival. Like with most big men, he could be a draft bolter, or slide, depending on team preferences.

#24 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

June Ranking: #18

Last month: Sharp will be keen to bounce back with a good performance after a bit of inconsistency by foot in Western Australia’s win over the Allies. He creates space and can be penetrating when given the area to do so. He averaged 21.3 disposals, 4.0 marks, 2.0 clearances and 2.0 rebounds, as well as booting a couple of goals in his first three games. Will be a key runner at Marvel Stadium for Western Australia if they can get up, and burst onto the scene at that very venue last year, making the All Australian side as a bottom-ager.

#25 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

The Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3 and will miss a few months, hoping to return in time for a big second half of the year. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month.  Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions. The question mark will be how he returns from his injury, but with the injury not being season-ending, expect him to come back and be a crucial player in the final couple of months for the Falcons.

June Ranking: #19

Last month: Has been injured, but was named vice-captain of Vic Country despite not being able to play in the national championships. Might slide over the next month, but hopefully will remind recruiters of his talent later in the year.

#26 Will Day

West Adelaide/South Australia | General Defender
17/01/2001 | 187cm | 70kg

The underrated South Australian utility has been one of the big improvers this season, showing off some nice signs at school football and then South Australia at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. Like Weightman, Day has been on the periphery of our Power Rankings the past two months, and after some solid performances at the national carnival, makes the list for July. Day has shown signs similar to last year’s bolter, Jez McLennan who had a good carnival and emerged as a top 30 prospect with nice foot skills and composure. Day can kick on either side of his body and is a good size at 187cm despite still being very light at 70kg.

June Ranking: #19

Last month: A promising start to the national carnival for Day, playing all three games and destined to play at Marvel Stadium against the Allies on Wednesday. He has averaged 18.3 disposals, 4.7 marks and 3.8 rebounds, using the ball wisely while remaining composed in defence. Could build on the defensive side of his game – averaging just the one tackle per game so far – but has some really damaging offensive traits that catch the eye.

#27 Darcy Cassar

Western Jets/Vic Metro | General Utility
31/07/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

As a bottom-ager last year, Cassar thrived as a half-forward/wing who would move the ball in transition and show power in his running to be able to impact for his side going inside 50. He is capable of hitting the scoreboard while playing in the forward half, but as he has shown so far in season 2019, he is just as adaptable in defence. Cassar has spent the season in the backline for the Western Jets, averaging a massive 28.2 disposals, 6.8 marks and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has added that element to his game, and expect him to be a versatile player at the national championships for Vic Metro, playing up whichever end is required of him, while also being able to play in the midfield.

June Ranking: #22

Last month: Has not had the greatest of national carnivals, ending up missing out on the final game after averaging 16.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 3.0 inside 50s and booting just the one goal playing forward – that came in the first match against Vic Country. Still making the list on potential and upside, Cassar will be keen to finish off the year strong and show the signs he was showing pre-championships in defence for the Western Jets.

#28 Kysaiah Pickett

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 170cm | 68kg

Arguably the most naturally gifted player in the draft, the nephew of Port Adelaide and North Melbourne premiership player Byron, is small in stature but big on X-factor and his ability to do the impossible. He is clean at ground level, has high-level goal sense, and despite being so lightly built, was able to force his way into the Woodville-West Torrens League side courtesy of a massive six-goal game against North Adelaide in the first round of the SANFL Reserves competition. Adds an extra dimension to the South Australian forward line and will be one that could light up the big stage over the next month.

June Ranking: #24

Last month: Another player who has class with a capital ‘C’ and was a point of difference in South Australia’s dogged win over Western Australia in Round 1 of the championships, booting the goal of the carnival with clean hands and unbelievable skill from the tighest of angles. He missed the Round 4 game against Vic Country after being suspended for a game following the Vic Metro match, but will return for South Australia’s final game against the Allies on Wednesday. He is not a huge accumulator of the footy – just averaging the 9.5 disposals, 2.0 mark and 2.5 tackles but he does not need much of the football to be a damaging prospect inside 50.

#29 Nick Bryan

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

The super athletic ruck has come on in leaps and bounds this year, and posts a 2.91-second 20m sprint and 78cm running vertical leap, making him an elite speedster, let alone for his size. He has not spent as much time in the elite system with the AFL Academy as others, and still needs to keep building his tank, but Bryan has a huge upside, which is what will attract recruiters to him. He is also capable of going forward and impacting the scoreboard when required, and was plucked out to play in the AFL Academy game against Casey Demons, taking on mature-aged rucks and holding his own. At 202cm, he is the right size for a ruck, and could well be the first ruck chosen this year, depending on how he and Luke Jackson go at the national championships.

June Ranking: #21

Last month: Is rated on upside because of the rarity of his athletic traits for a 202cm ruck to be able to run as quick as he can. Bryan has a really high ceiling for clubs to develop, but slots in as the number two ruck behind Luke Jackson at the championships. Has been okay without being overly impressive, but has still managed 22.0 hitouts from 9.3 disposals and 2.5 marks. Heads back to school footy and will be keen to assert himself in the NAB League once back in the competition.

#30 Finn Maginness

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 187cm | 80kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been one of the most noticeable players at the national carnival behind the big two midfielders of Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson. Maginness has averaged 18.3 disposals, 3.5 marks, 7.5 tackles, 3.8 clearances and 4.3 inside 50s across the four games at the carnival, and is one of the most prolific tacklers showing a strong defensive side.

Names to watch:

 

Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia)

The massive ball-winning midfielder from Western Australia has been a dominant force in the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He has averaged 30.7 disposals, 5.0 marks, 6.3 tackles, 4.3 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s and 4.3 rebounds in his three games across the carnival. He still has areas to tidy up such as kicking under pressure, but could be one who rises up the boards with another strong performance against Vic Country and finishing off the year strong in the WAFL.

Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Clearly possesses high-level talent, Phillips just needs to take hold of a game and put together a performance he has been building in the NAB League. He has quite a few nice traits and has plenty of X-factor inside 50, he has just been overshadowed by the likes of Weightman at the national championships. He will still be firmly in recruiters’ minds with a strong finish to the NAB League Boys season where he could stake a case to be the leading goalkicker for the competition there.

Harry Schoenberg (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

One of those players who has risen up thanks to strong performances across the championships and will be keen to continue that form in the final game against the Allies on Wednesday. Works hard on the inside and is a handball-first midfielder out to teammates running on the outside, having averaged 27 disposals in his three games so far for South Australia.

Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia)

Taylor has X-factor and plenty of scope for the future as a medium forward. He always looks damaging when in possession and a worry for opposition defenders when not in possession. He is still raw compared to other forwards, but his ceiling is quite high and no doubt clubs will keep him on their radar.

Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

Makes the list based on his traits that would be attractive to clubs. Not a huge ball winner, Cumberland has terrific closing speed and can burst away from stoppages, whilst also applying plenty of defensive pressure with a terrific tackling technique. Cumberland laid a match-winning tackle against Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium on Friday, and can play anywhere on the field with scope for the future.

Allies survive last term scare to post first AFL U18s victory

TWO acts of brilliance, one up either end for the Allies, helped the side get up for its first win of the AFL Under 18 National Championships. After racing out to as much as a four-goal lead over Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium yesterday, it took a late goal from Josh Gore – his third of the contest – and then a match-winning tackle from Noah Cumberland up the other end, to seal the deal. Metro had one last role of the dice after the tackle when trailing by two points, but the kick from almost match-winner Jack Mahony – who booted three majors himself – was smothered away from Emerson Jeka at the top of the square and the Allies were able to clear it as the siren rang.

It was a heart-stopping contest that the Allies looked to be in control of throughout, answering each and every Metro challenge, but with the work of Mahony (19 disposals, four marks, five tackles, three goals and numerous score assists) – and his two last-quarter goals – as well as Finn Maginness (27 disposals, three marks, nine tackles, seven clearances and six inside 50s), Metro never stopped attacking. The Allies had their measure however, with GWS GIANTS Academy member Tom Green putting in a remarkable performance with 33 disposals, five marks, nine clearances, four inside 50s, two rebounds and a long-range goal from the tightest of angles. Bottom-ager Errol Gulden‘s left foot also posed headaches for the home side as he had 17 touches, five marks, four inside 50s and two goals.

The first term saw a see-sawing contest with the Allies having the early ascendancy to boot the first two goals through a snap to Hamish Ellem a some hard running from Hewago Paul Oea, before Vic Metro hit back with two of their own through Matt Rowell – who had an enormous eight-disposal, three-clearance and one-goal term – and Harrison Jones. Just as the game looked destined to head into the first break 12-apiece, Malcolm Rosas Jr ripped up the script and booted two terrific goals with space in front of him.

Vic Metro was the first team out of the blocks in the second with a terrific cross-body kick from Mahony hitting up Miles Bergman who slotted it from 50m. The Allies had some good forward entries, but Fischer McAsey and Noah Anderson – who had drifted back there after a quiet first quarter – were rebounding everything. A perfect kick from Connor Budarick into Ellem resulted in just a behind from the Ellem set shot, and going down the other end, Williams launched a massive goal from 50m straight through the middle. Along with Rowell, Mahony was having a superb game with a big influence on the contest, setting up goals and then finishing off on his own after dropping into the hole and the kick inside 50 went past its intended target into his lap. He converted from 30m out on an angle to put Metro back in front and make it three goals in less than 12 minutes. With the Allies desperately needing a response given the momentum with Metro, Gore answered the call, laying a big tackle and winning a free. He converted the set shot to put the Allies back in front midway through the term. The next 10 minutes were an arm-wrestle as neither side could put a goal on the board with a series of misses, including a long range shot that drifted to the right by Williams to have the Allies up by the narrowest of margins at the main break.

Unlike the first two terms, it took six minutes for the first goal on the board after the main break, and it was almost identical to the first half, with Ellem snapping his second after some smart work from the throw-in stoppage inside 50. Moments later, Green won a free kick and opted for the set shot from outside 50 tucked against the boundary line, never looking in doubt with the kick and the Allies were 12 points up. Rosas Jr tried to weave some more magic inside 50, twisting and turning but curled the shot too much for one behind. The Allies continued to press without much success, but they were holding a firm line in defence to rebound anything Vic Metro threw at them and it eventually paid off with Parks bursting off half-back, taking a great clean grab and putting it forward which led to Gulden turning onto his left in space and putting it through to make it a very handy 19-point lead. Bianco won a free and tried to play on inside 50 to bridge the gap, putting it through, but was called back to have the set shot from 50m, which was touched on the line. Instead, it was Oea up the other end who created a great pass into Gore who marked on the lead inside 50 and put it through to make it 25 points. Metro responded with a couple of minutes to go after Jack Bell slipped and kicked to Emerson Jeka who converted a straight forward set shot. The celebration of responding did not last long as the Allies made it look easy with a quick kick inside 50 before Gulden ran onto a ball and kicked it through and the game was firmly in the visitors’ control. Williams had one last chance to convert after the siren but fell missed and Metro faced a 24-point deficit at the final break.

The last quarter was a bit of an arm-wrestle at the start similar to the third term with eight minutes without a score, before Mahony popped up with an uncontested mark and converted a much-needed set shot to get Metro within 15 points. Moments later, Jamieson Rossiter turned around and snapped a goal around his body and they had two in a minute and the margin was suddenly nine. Mahony then popped up with another a few minutes later and he was the hero to put them within three. The comeback had the Allies nervous and it forced a hold on Jeka who won a free, but the set shot shanked to the right for a behind and it was two points the difference. Green worked hard to win the ball then sneak forward to mark, but his set shot drifted to the right and Metro rushed it down the other end and with Anderson selling some candy then delivering it lace out to Ryan Sturgess who put it through and Metro hit the front.

Just when the game looked to be in Metro’s clutches, Gore converted his third and the Allies were back in front. Metro spent the last couple of minutes throwing everything at the Allies, but the Cumberland match-winning tackle at half-back locked the ball up and bought the Allies time. Ben Jungfer was a standout for the Allies coming in and helping Green around the clearances with six, as well as 16 disposals and four tackles. Parks was solid off half-back with 15 disposals, three marks and four rebounds, as was the classy Mitch O’Neill with seven marks and four rebounds, while Budarick’s team-high 11 tackles exemplified the Allies pressure throughout the game. For Metro, McAsey was impressive once again, winning Vic Metro’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) after a 19-disposals, seven-mark and six-rebound effort. Rowell was his usual self on the inside with 22 touches and 12 tackles as well as six clearances even if he was somewhat restricted after quarter time. His partner in crime Anderson got out to have 24 disposals, four marks, seven clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds – including 22 touches after quarter time, while Daniel Mott, Trent Bianco and Sturgess were solid for the losing side.

VIC METRO 2.0 | 5.1 | 6.3 | 10.8 (68)
ALLIES 4.0 | 5.2 | 10.3 | 11.4 (70)

GOALS:

Metro: Mahony 3, Rowell, Sturgess, Bergman, Jeka, Jones, Williams, Rossiter.
Allies: Gore 3, Gulden 2, Ellem 2, Rosas 2, Green, Oea.

ADC BEST:

Metro: Mahony, Maginness, McAsey, Anderson, Rowell, Bianco
Allies: Green, Gulden, Gore, Parks, O’Neill, Jungfer

Country looks to remain undefeated in Geelong double-header

GMHBA Stadium hosts Round 4 of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, as Vic Metro faces the winless Allies and the undefeated Vic Country hosts South Australia, while Western Australia will enjoy a bye. Find the full teams and a preview for both games below.

VIC METRO vs. ALLIES
Friday June 28, 10:30am
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Metro comes to Geelong looking to roll on with the same form that saw them pick up their first win for the carnival last time out, while the Allies’ search for the same feat continues. Much was made of Metro’s chances coming into the championships given their talent on paper, and while they have not quite lived up to the billing of favourites, the Oakleigh/Sandringham quartet of Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Josh Worrell, and Fischer McAsey has been terrific across each outing. Having previously been a case of too much from too few, Metro seemed to brake that mould against South Australia last week as Louis Butler and Lachie Potter held their dangerous forward opponents well, Trent Bianco and Jack Mahony won their fair share of the ball, and the inclusion of Emerson Jeka up forward proved more than handy as a key position target. Metro’s highly-touted ball winning capabilities will only be further strengthened in this game against a formidable Allies engine room, with Ryan Byrnes coming in after returning well from injury, Lachie Stapleton finally knocking down the selection door, and bottom-ager Will Phillips also getting his chance. The forward line balance looks much more settled too, with Dylan Williams coming back in and Jamieson Rossiter forming a solid tall partnership with Jeka.

The Allies will fancy their match-ups up forward, albeit with small stocks, as Suns Academy guns Josh Gore and Hewago Paul Oea proved their worth last week, while Braeden Campbell and Malcolm Rosas Jnr are also set to cause headaches in front of goal. Their midfield strength will also get a work-out, with Tom Green likely to duke it out with Anderson and Finn Maginness, while Mitch O’Neill could take on Rowell, and Ben Jungfer comes in for some depth. They will not be getting service from Sam Gaden like last week though, with over-age Murray ruck Ben Kelly coming in to fill the void alongside the undersized Jake Steele. The likes of Steele will certainly compete, which is something that the Allies had worked on given a much-improved effort against the fast finishing West Australian side. Greater efficiency in front of goal will be the test, and this classy Metro side will surely make them pay for any missed opportunities.

Look for the midfield battle to really take centre stage in this one, with Metro’s overall depth putting them in good stead coming into the clash.

TEAMS

Vic Metro:

B: 15. Louis Butler, 38. Brodie Newman, 26. Ryan Sturgess
HB: 18. Lachlan Potter, 29. Fischer McAsey, 5. Trent Bianco
C: 24. Noah Anderson (C), 25. Finn Maginness, 22. Miles Bergman
HF: 31. Joshua Worrell, 28. Jamieson Rossiter, 7. Lachlan Stapleton
F: 1. Jack Mahony, 36. Emerson Jeka, 23. Dylan Williams
R: 40. Nick Bryan, 11. Matthew Rowell, 12. Ryan Byrnes
Int: (from) 30. Harrison Jones, 13. Daniel Mott, 9. Will Phillips, 39. Jack Bell, 27. Oscar Lewis, 16. Darcy Cassar, 35. Nikolas Cox

Allies:

B: 21. Luke Parks, 52. Dirk Koenen, 8. Tom Griffiths
HB: 20. Matt McGrory, 26. Liam Delahunty, 24. Joel Jeffrey
C: 42. James Peatling, 3. Connor Budarick, 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 46. Noah Cumberland, 37. Joshua Gore, 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 32. Jake Steele, 31. Hamish Ellem, 36. Sam Thorne
R: 54. Ben Kelly, 22. Tom Green, 16. Ben Jungfer
Int: (from) 44. Nicholas Brewer, 5. Braeden Campbell, 12. Ashton Crossley, 1. Errol Gulden, 47. Jeromy Lucas, 15. Will Martyn, 4. Malcolm Rosas Jnr

VIC COUNTRY vs. SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Friday June 28, 1:00pm
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Country will look to keep its perfect record in tact in what is set to be a cracking match-up against South Australia to close out the day’s play. Country have been the surprise packet of the tournament thus far, with their obvious class and top-end talent being matched by the manic pressure and application of their depth players. Coming off a bye round, they will be hungry to claim a third-straight win and effectively clinch the championship title against the last year’s winners. A comprehensive win against the Allies last time out puts them in good stead, with a wealth of contributors putting their hands up on each line. Hayden Young and Lachie Ash have been terrific both in the air and by foot thus far down back, with Brodie Kemp another to contribute while mixing time in the midfield. Gippsland pair Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders have also been solid in the engine room. Goals from the likes of small forwards Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman will again be important, but one of the better aspects of Country’s performances has been the rise of some more unheralded names – with the likes of Brady Rowles, Riley Baldi, Jay Rantall, and Thomson Dow all poised to continue their solid form in this game.

Country’s free-scoring ways from Round 2 will not come as easily against a sturdy South Australian defence though, with Oliver Shaw returning from injury to add to a back six comprised of key performers in Will Gould, Will Day, Luke Edwards, and Karl Finlay. Their forward line looks a touch more dangerous despite having Kysaiah Pickett missing due to suspension, with the dynamic Cameron Taheny good to go after a corked thigh kept him out of last week’s squad, and Declan Carmody another who should add some class alongside bottom-age midfielder Corey Durdin – who slots into the forward pocket on his return. While the start to their title defence was ideal, a losing effort against the previously winless Vic Metro was not their best, and the likes of Jackson Mead and Harry Schoenberg will have to step up once again in the midfield, with Dylan Stephens one who can bounce back from a slightly down day. Simply competing will be key on the road against a Country side that will test them in the contest, so the Croweaters will need to be on their game if they are to keep their title defence alive.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 18. Brady Rowles, 36. Sam De Koning, 26. Jesse Clark
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash (C), 24. Brock Smith, 17. Hayden Young
C: 29. Lachlan Williams, 16. Brodie Kemp, 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill, 20. Elijah Hollands, 3. Cody Weightman
F: 19. Fraser Phillips, 39. Joshua Smith, 6. Riley Baldi
R: 40. Charlie Comben, 4. Sam Flanders, 2. Caleb Serong (C)
Int: (from) 8. Thomson Dow, 14. Liam Herbert, 37. Blake Kuipers, 10. Harrison Pepper, 13. Jay Rantall, 9. Isaac Wareham, 5. Cameron Wild

South Australia:

B: 19. Luke Edwards, 35. Karl Finlay, 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 24. Will Gould, 33. Dyson Hilder, 12. Will Day
C: 7. Dylan Stephens, 18. Jackson Mead, 10. Joshua Shute
HF: 23. Brady Searle, 9. Cameron Taheny, 14. Declan Carmody
F: 3. Corey Durdin, 32. Daniel Sladojevic, 17. Josh Morris
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows, 15. Harry Schoenberg, 20. Lachlan McNeil
Int: 4. Jordan O’Brien, 11. Callum Park, 28. Oliver Shaw, 42. Damon Freitag, 8. Jed McEntee, 31. Jordan Moore

BYE: Western Australia

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – Allies vs. Western Australia

IN a see-sawing game, Western Australia ran out the stronger of the two sides in the game against the Allies, who booted three of the first four goals before the Sandgropers piled on seven consecutive majors to take home their second win from three games. Peter Williams checked out the game and his opinion-based notes on some of the standouts are below.

Allies:

#3 Connor Budarick

So composed with ball in hand, Budarick showed a terrific burst out of the middle early in the game to kick inside 50 to a dangerous spot. He applied defensive pressure throughout laying a massive number of tackles, and rose high to clunk a big contested grab on the wing. Budarick had a shot on goal in the third term after being the quickest to react to a Noah Cumberland mark, but his shot missed. Had another chance in the final term from a tight angle and tried to set it up to a teammate, but the Western Australia defence saw it coming and spoiled it over the line.

#4 Malcolm Rosas Jr

The highlights package, and almost-highlights from this game was unbelievable. Time and time again, Rosas Jr looked like he was about to tear the game open, whether it be through his blistering runs, his terrific side steps, or his high-flying grabs. He pulled out all the tricks in an eye-catching performance. Rosas kicked an early goal in the first term after contesting a ball in midfield and running forward, then set Josh Gore up for another after selling candy and dancing around a couple of players to kick perfectly into space. A couple of other chances in the first half were either marked or hit the post, but he looked ever dangerous. In the third term, Rosas Jr took a five-bounce run from half-forward deep into attack but took one too many bounces and lost control. He followed up with a couple of tackles, but the run was terrific. He did it again in the final term, taking a number of bounces of half-back, burning an opponent then side-stepping another and giving it off. Flew high in his final act of the game, could not quite take it then laid a big tackle.

#5 Braeden Campbell

Just a really clever player and one who looks dangerous in the forward half. He can hurt opposition players in the air or at ground level, and does not need much time and space to create something. He reads the taps and attempts to spin out of trouble, quickly putting boot to ball. Had a chance to do so in the second term for a major but it was touched on the way through, then had another chance in the third term through a snap but hit the post. Finished with a couple of behinds, but looked dangerous.

#9 Mitch O’Neill

A standout four-quarter performance from the Tasmanian who brings others into the game with his elite kicking and decision making. O’Neill is so composed under pressure and clean at ground level or in the air, and takes the risky kick that can backfire, but with his skill often puts pressure on the opposition defence. An example was his spearing pass straight down the guts to Noah Cumberland who took a huge mark. Often O’Neill dictates to his teammates down the field where to lead or when to fly for marks by his kicks. Made very few mistakes in a really outstanding performance.

#22 Tom Green

Played his usual role with some time in defence as well, mostly using his big frame to outmuscle the West Australian midfielders. He won a number of important clearances and dumped the ball forward, winning a lot of possessions around the ground. His work rate is terrific and showed off his versatility by playing in defence in the final term. He does not take a backwards step and has terrific hands in close, continually working hard.

#31 Hamish Ellem

Continually battled hard in the forward 50, spending time in the ruck and more so after Sam Gaden went off early in the third term. He had a number of opportunities but again could not capitalise, kicking a few behinds. He did set Josh Gore up for a goal in the final term, putting the ball nicely in front of him to convert the chance. He held his own in the ruck contests when he did and had a heavy workload at times against the highly rated Luke Jackson.

#37 Josh Gore

A talented forward, Gore is not a huge possession winner, but he makes the most of his opportunities. He slotted a great goal in the opening term, then broke the drought early in the fourth with a terrific goal. He was tight against the boundary line, used strength at the hips to shrug off an opponent and snap around his body to put it through the middle. He had another set shot in the second term after dispossessing West Australian captain Deven Robertson, but missed to the right.

#44 Nicholas Brewer

Held his own against the dangerous Elijah Taylor, even though Taylor did get off the chain more late in the game. He produced the top defensive effort of the match by running down the electric Taylor, continuing to chase 40m even after the forward had eluded him once, and his work rate saw him drag him down as he kicked to save a goal.

#51 Sam Gaden

Came off the ground early in the third term after what had been a really impressive performance against Luke Jackson in the ruck. While he knew Jackson had the athleticism, Gaden had the body strength and used it to his advantage at stoppages, working hard particularly at boundary throw-ins to outmuscle his opponent and give the midfielders first touch. He used the ball pretty well around the ground and was able to have a couple of inside 50s to dangerous positions. It was no surprise Western Australia got on top once he came off and Jackson had a lot more free reign at the stoppages.

Western Australia:

#3 Tyrone Thorne

There is not much of the lightweight forward, but his ability to hook the ball around the goal when having set shots from tight angles on his left was almost “Bend it like Beckham” style. He finished the game with three goals from four set shots, and while he was not a huge possession winner, played the role of permanent small forward perfectly.

#4 Riley Garcia

An accumulator by hand, Garcia wins a lot of his touches with deft handballs in close. He did his best work running hard on the outside and trying to take the game on, moving nicely around the stoppages. He almost sold himself into trouble at one stage in the third term, but remained composed and gave off the handball to a running teammate whilst Garcia was being hemmed in by three opponents. He hit up a teammate inside 50 in the final term and kicked it long down the wing well.

#5 Liam Henry

Another player in the game who looked always dangerous whenever the ball was in his area, the Fremantle Next Generation Academy Player had some really impressive touches at both ground level and in the air. He dropped an early mark and was turned over, but the next chance he got he learnt from the first error and clunked it at the highest point. He later roved a ball well off a pack and kicked it to a teammates’ advantage whilst Henry was under pressure. A quick thinker, Henry used the ball well, setting up a Tyrone Thorne goal in the second term and a Callum Jamieson goal in the fourth term with perfect kicks to their advantage. He only needs a second to dispose of the ball, and has lightning quick hands. At one stage he thought a bit too quickly in the first term, overrunning the ball or “spending it before he had it” but did back up with a defensive effort. He had a shot on goal in the final term but the shot went across the face in the dying seconds. A prospect who has a lot of upside.

#6 Cameron Anderson

Really stepped up into the game in the second term, working between the arcs with some impressive runs. He sold some candy and got past an opponent running inside 50 but his shot was touches on the line. He showed neat skills across half-back and then spent time up forward to lead out and take a good mark. He set up the leading Logan McDonald with a nice pass in the third term, then began a scoring chain in the fourth quarter with the nous to take on the man on the mark to draw an opponent and handball away to give the outnumber up the field.

#10 Deven Robertson

A work horse who put in a four-quarter performance once again. His strengths include his hands around the stoppages and his no-fear attitude towards the contest. He has game smarts and class to know his surroundings, and a high level of spacial awareness which was exemplified by his ability to wheel around in the final term and hit-up Tristan Hobley in space. There are still areas to develop, with Robertson dispossessed on a number of occasions, and the kicking under pressure was scratchy at times. What was impressive about Robertson’s game was he was able to take the game on from half-back and kept trying to gain metres for his side going forward. He was solid with the ball when having time and space. Has very quick hands and was important at the clearances.

#17 Jeremy Sharp

Had a mixed bag performance on the day, with some terrific vision and slicing 45-degree passes, and then some strange out-on-the-full kicks. His vision and delivery when given time and space is very impressive, and is clean at ground level. It is his kicking under pressure when forced to rush in congestion, or when at full speed being hunted down by opposition players that could be tightened up. He worked hard throughout and found the ball plenty in the first three quarters, roaming in all thirds of the ground. Set up a number of scoring chains and had lightning hands to give to a teammate with the disguised handball in close, before finishing the game off with a long-range goal from outside 50 in the dying seconds of the third term.

#19 Elijah Taylor

An exciting forward who was always looking like kicking a bag, and while he was well contained in the first half by Nicholas Brewer, got off the chain in the second half. His first goal did come in the first term from kicking across his body after missing a set shot 40m out when it hit the behind post. He had a chance for a second by leading into space 30m out on a 45-degree angle but his kicked just missed to the right. After half-time his influence on the game blew up, selling candy for a terrific goal. He took a mark, looked to play-on to his right, waited for his opponent to commit, then swung back to his left and never looked liked missing with a terrific kick. He booted his third in the dying minutes with a snap around the body. He dropped a potential mark, but followed up with a clean one-grab off the ground and snap off his left around the body. Taylor knows how to use the ball well under pressure.

#25 Logan McDonald

A talented bottom-age key forward, McDonald showed some great signs inside 50. He lead out at the right times and looked sure with his hands. He did kick out on the full from a snap early in the game, but worked into the match with a goal from a set shot 35m out on a tight angle. He had another chance on the opposite side but pulled it to the far left. He worked hard up the ground to take a couple of nice marks leading out along the wing and half-forward.

#32/#37 Luke Jackson

Had a jumper change midway through the game, and ended up coming from the field after an unlucky clash in the dying minutes deep in attack. Early on he had an intense battle with Sam Gaden, outmuscled at times at the stoppage, but was doing well around the ground with some good tackles and nice work at ground level to fire away quick handballs. He stamped his authority on the game in the second half once Gaden was off the ground, too athletic and nimble for Hamish Ellem and Liam Delahunty who were forced to play a more part-time shared role through the ruck rather than pinch-hit as they had before.

#35 Trent Rivers

Uses the ball well and had a solid game, with a big first quarter and a quieter second term, before working hard throughout the third and fourth quarters to win the footy. He has great vision and game awareness to set up scoring plays, and is able to use his slick skills to hit-up teammates leading out up forward. He won a vital one-on-one contest against Hewago Paul Oea on the wing, which would have been dangerous for the West Australians if he lost with a paddock in front of Oea. Rivers bumped his opponent off the ball and then with pressure coming, he had the composure to handball to a teammate and keep it moving. Remains composed with ball-in-hand and makes the right decisions.

#36 Denver Grainger-Barras

Another bottom-age tall who will hold the West Australian side in good stead for next year, he has some neat defensive and offensive attributes. He killed a contest at half-back with a great spoil across the line, and proceeded to be an intercepting defender throughout the game, saving a number of dangerous forward entries by dropping into the hole. Most importantly, he remained composed under pressure and looks like a promising prospect for next year, pushing up the ground to kick inside 50 at one stage late in the game.