Tag: nab league boys

Draft Central All-Star Team: Oakleigh Chargers

OAKLEIGH Chargers have a wealth of current and recently retired players in their All-Star Team of the AFL Draft era. Over the past decade, a heap of new players have really come to the fore, with not many 1990s representatives, but have bolstered their draft numbers since the turn of the century.

THE TEAM

The Chargers have plenty to like about their side, with a strong midfield, and lots of damaging smalls and medium types. Their key position line is a little short, with their most damaging players being sub-195cm. However they also have some great versatility across the field and would be really difficult to match up on most days.

DEFENCE

The defence has an old-school feel to it, with just one current player in the back six. That player being Collingwood key position utility Darcy Moore, who holds down centre half-back with just 71 games – to start the year – to his name, the least of any player in the side. He joins Carlton 189-gamer and reliable full-back Bret Thornton there as holding down the key posts, whilst two-time best and fairest winner and one-time All-Australian Josh Gibson can operate as the third tall and loose man.

The talls will have some freedom given the three other players have the capability of locking down on their respective opponents. Nick Smith sits in a back pocket after 211 games and an All-Australian nod and premiership with the Swans. On the flanks, Hawthorn and Gold Coast’s Campbell Brown and Carlton’s Andrew Carrazzo round out the defensive line. The versatile David Mackay is also coming off the bench which could help with rotations in that back six.

MIDFIELD

The midfield is simply elite, and hard to squeeze just five midfielders around Todd Goldstein as the standout ruck. Goldstein is a best and fairest winner and All-Australian with almost 250 games to his name. He will ruck to Carlton captain Marc Murphy – who has two best and fairests and an All-Australian – and Jack Macrae – one All-Australian – onball.

The centre line is three-time All-Australian Dan Hannebery in the middle, flanked by Andrew Gaff and Luke Shuey on the wings. The West Coast duo have played 400 games between them, and also combined for three best and fairests, two All-Australians and four All-Australian 40-player squad nominations.

With versatility being the strength of the side, 300-gamer and Chargers’ club games record holder at AFL level, Luke Power is able to play off half-forward – his All-Australian came in a forward pocket – whilst the nearly all of the forward six could play through the middle. Throw in Heath Black, Jack Viney, Tom Phillips and Daniel Jackson off the bench, as well as Mackay, and the Chargers have a wealth of midfield options at their disposal.

FORWARD

Whilst not tall, the front six has plenty of X-factor and an ability to do some serious damage there. Adam Tomlinson is the major key position player, but could rotate with Moore in defence, or have Moore thrown forward for extra size. The only other key position tall is Ashley Hansen off the bench, but the lack of height is not an issue considering the smalls running around in there.

Although not all of the players are ‘smalls’ as such, with the almost-key position height of Jordan De Goey chosen at full-forward, flanked by equally damaging talents in Toby Greene and Jack Billings. All three have the capability of winning games off their own boot. The same could be said for Power at half-forward, alongside Robbie Gray on the other flank. Gray may well be the most accoladed player of the lot, with four All-Australians and three best and fairests, putting his claim in as one of the best Port Adelaide players of the modern era.

DEPTH

Whilst the 24 players that made the squad deserve it, there are a lot of unlucky players missing out. Many of whom were strong role players over the journey, such as Jamie MacMillan (157 games), Sam Gibson (135), Ryan Lester (126) and Sam Power (123). Also just missing out on the side were other 100-gamers in Robin Nahas, Stephen Gilham and Dom Tyson, whilst the likes of Luke McDonald, Jack Sinclair, Darcy Byrne-Jones, Toby McLean and Jake Kelly are among current players who could force their way into the side over the next few years.

Draft Central All-Star Team: Northern Knights

NORTHERN KNIGHTS have some elite players in their All-Star team of the AFL Draft era led by captain and VFL/AFL games record holder Brent Harvey.

THE TEAM:

The Knights have a well balanced side with some quality talls, an elite midfield and plenty of hardened players who could roost the football and impact on the big stage.

DEFENCE:

The balance of offensive and negating defenders is healthy within the Knights defence, led by key talls, Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley. The pair could not be more different with ‘Presti’ being one of the best negating defenders of the modern era, though he also rarely reached double-figure disposals. Hurley on the other hand could be an offensive weapon racking up plenty of disposals and rebounds for the Bombers, having made the All-Australian team twice.

A third tall included in the back six is Richmond premiership defender Dylan Grimes, an All-Australian in his own right. Surrounding the talls are some quality smalls with Brisbane legend and two-time All-Australian Chris Johnson, and Collingwood premiership player, Ben Johnson, as well as Sydney premiership player and now North Melbourne coach, Rhyce Shaw. With the exception of Grimes, the other five players are 200-plus game players. On the bench, Nick Vlastuin could easily slot in as a rebounding defender.

MIDFIELD:

The midfield has a relative mix of current and past players. Its onball brigade of Marcus Bontempelli and Trent Cotchin shows a couple of the elite players in the AFL, as the pair have a Brownlow, three All-Australians, six best and fairests and three flags between them. Leading the ruck division is the incredibly talented Matthew Kreuzer who has had his fair share of injuries over the years, but still played almost 200 games.

Through the centre line, North Melbourne 300-gamer Adam Simpson stands out, having won an All-Australian and best and fairest to go with his two flags in the 90s. He is flanked on either wing by another couple of talented midfielders in 287-gamer Leigh Montagna (two All-Australians) and two-time best and fairest Magpie, Paul Licuria. The core five would be a difficult midfield to stop, with a hardened attack on the ball and one that could use tagging to effect.

On the bench, the midfield runs deep with Nick Stevens, Brent Stanton, John Barker and Daniel Harford all capable of running through the middle.

FORWARD:

Up forward, there is a nice balance between the talls and smalls, with strong marking key forwards, Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall providing some big marking targets. Rocca booted 415 goals in 242 games, renowned as one of the ‘super boots’ of the competition, often launching goals from 70 metres out. Whitnall managed 348 goals in 216 games, but also earned an All-Australian place and a best and fairest in his time with the Navy Blues.

Jarrod Molloy was best known for his work with the Lions before critically being traded in a huge deal for Mal Michael. As history would have it, Molloy missed out on a flag as Michael established himself in the three-peat Lions outfit. Still, Molloy booted 200 goals in 169 games as a really strong forward. The biggest name inside 50 is VFL/AFL games record holder, Harvey with the small forward booting 581 majors in 432 games, winning five best and fairests and four All-Australians in his time. Blake Caracella (187 games, 218 goals) and David Zaharakis (207 games, 125 goals) round out the front six.

Josh Caddy and Harford are among those on the pine who could come on and have an impact in the team if given the opportunity.

DEPTH:

Whilst the 24-player team itself is pretty strong, Northern Knights have a number of players just outside that core group who could understandably make it. Of the 100-game club not in the side, Angelo Lekkas (180), Jack Newnes (155) and Daniel Wheatley (135) are the next three highest in terms of games played, whilst Shane Clayton (117), Ricky Dyson (114), Anthony Franchina (105) and Jack Grimes (100) all reached the triple-figure milestone.

High-flyer Gary Moorcroft (98 games) went close to squeezing in despite falling just short of the ton, whilst Kane Lambert (95) – though drafted out of the VFL as a mature-ager – Aidan Corr, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Brayden Fiorini, Jade Gresham and Darcy MacPherson are among other modern day players who could squeeze into the All-Star side in the coming years.

NAB League returns for shortened season

NAB League Boys and Girls will return in August in a breakthrough announcement by the AFL today. Following on from AFL Victoria’s announcement yesterday that the Victorian Football League (VFL) would begin on August 1, the premier junior competition will kick off on August 22 (boys) and September 5 (girls).

The NAB League Boys season will run for six weeks, whilst the NAB League Girls season will run for a further three – having commenced earlier this year and played three rounds in that time. The NAB League will look a little different aside from the shortened season this year, with the five regular season rounds broken up into Metro and Country conferences. The six metro teams: Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons and Western Jets will face off in one conference, whilst the six country teams: Bendigo Pioneers, Dandenong Stingrays, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers will face off in the other conference.

The top team in each conference will then face off for the 2020 NAB League Boys title meaning one Metro and one Country team will contest the final. The remaining sides will also play off in the sixth week against a team in the opposite conference to ensure each team plays six matches. At this point, the Tasmania Devils are not included in the competition, but in the announcement today, the AFL said it was still “working on its options” to allow it to participate.

Meanwhile the NAB League Girls competition will pick up where it left off back in March with a further two rounds of regular season games, followed by a finals weekend similar to the boys competition for Saturday, September 5. The three rounds from earlier in the season will still count, with Oakleigh Chargers, GWV Rebels and Northern Knights all undefeated. The fixture will be released at a later date.

Draft Central All-Star Team: GWV Rebels

THE Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels – formerly known as North Ballarat Rebels – have an interesting team. As we will discuss, the Rebels have an abundance of key defenders, and a legend leading the side in Adam Goodes who has been the standout player coming from the Rebels, across his AFL career.

THE TEAM:

There is undoubted talent across three lines, but it is more the ridiculous depth of its key defensive stocks that make it a hard team to formulate. There are up to six players whose preferred position is in a key defensive role, something that is usually pretty hard to come by. Having Goodes in the side allows the Sydney champion to play anywhere on the field, and the ruck is a clear deficiency in terms of depth, so he heads there to lead a hardened inside midfield group.

DEFENCE:

The key defensive stocks are a smorgasbord of options. In this team, James Frawley, Troy Chaplin and David Astbury all earn starting spots in the back six, with Tom McDonald (forward pocket), Jordan Roughead and Nathan Brown (both bench) also in the team. It is a bit top heavy, but they standout above those who missed out on selection in the team.

For the medium-smalls, Sydney rebounder Jake Lloyd will provide the outside run alongside former Essendon talent Nathan Lovett-Murray and Brisbane turned Western Bulldogs defender Jed Adcock. The trio provide the speed and run that might be lost by having multiple strong, but less athletic keys in the back six.

MIDFIELD:

Led by Goodes in the ruck who has two Brownlow Medals, four All-Australians, three best and fairests and a Rising Star Award just to name a few of his accolades, the midfield looks pretty strong. Shane O’Bree and Brad Sewell provide the inside hardness and unwavering effort that coaches would rely upon as they showed over their 200-plus games at AFL level.

Matt Crouch joins them in the starting midfield with the more recent Crows talent having a couple of elite years over at West Lakes with an All-Australian and best and fairest to his name. On the wings, James McDonald is another hardened soldier and one who could be utilised in a tagging role, while Seb Ross has been a standout player for the Saints of late.

Turning to the bench, Brad Crouch could very well start in favour of just about any of the midfielders, but just has not had the continuity to earn a start just yet – though his 2019 season was huge. Also on the bench is West Coast and Gold Coast winger Matt Rosa, whilst Clinton Young – who could also play in the backline is there, with Nic Suban in a similar position.

FORWARD:

The forward line stretches a little thin when it comes to smalls and mediums, though that is set to change in the coming years. In terms of the experienced top-end quality, Jeremy Cameron, Drew Petrie and Tom McDonald provide a three-pronged attack with the latter able to play in the defensive half. Cameron’s two All-Australians, one Coleman Medal and one best and fairest make him a challenging player to beat having booted 403 goals in 154 games.

Around them are three hybrid mid-forwards in Shaun Grigg – who could also play ruck if required – Liam Picken and Tom Notting who were all strong contributors for their sides in their premiership years. The forward half of the ground for the Rebels is very fluid and versatile, able to rotate players around quite easily which would be a bonus for any coach.

DEPTH:

We mentioned already how strong the key defensive stocks are for the Rebels, but believe it or not, there were two others who could have deserved a spot in the side. Shannon Watt (155 games) and Michael Jamison (150) were both unlucky, whilst James Walker (151) was the other 150-gamer to miss out.

After that the unlucky omissions drop down to the below-90 games with Mark Orchard (86) and Kyle Cheney (85) next in line. However look slightly below that, and the next way of AFL stars is ready to break into the side. Fast forward a few years and expect the likes of Daniel Rioli, Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry, Darcy Tucker and Jacob Hopper all to squeeze into the outfit.

Throw in Rowan Marshall – who is in some elite form last season – and Oscar McDonald and the team has a high volume of depth that will likely see some of the 150-plus gamers fall out of the side in exchange for youth. If this team was constructed in a few years, this might be the most altered team of the lot such is the young talent coming through the AFL system.

AFL Draft Watch: Oliver Davis (Tasmania Devils/Allies)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft Watch is Tasmania’s Oliver Davis, an Allies hub member who has already earned Under 18 representative duty. The Clarence product was also a regular for his state in the 2019 NAB League competition, running out for 13 games and proving a prime ball winner in his bottom-age season. Davis was also one of three Tasmanian’s to earn Under 16 All Australian honours in 2018, with his list of accolades poised to grow coming into his draft year.

PLAYER PAGE:

Oliver Davis

DOB: July 18, 2002

Height: 182cm
Weight: 75kg

Position: Inside midfielder

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 13 games | 22.0 disposals | 52.7% cont. poss. | 2.4 marks | 7.8 tackles | 5.4 clearances | 5.1 inside 50s | 1.6 rebound 50s | 0.1 goals (1)

2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STATS: 1 game | 10 disposals | 3 marks | 1 tackle | 1 clearance | 1 inside 50 | 2 rebound 50s

Strengths: Contested ball/clearances, tackling, consistency, agility
Improvements: Speed, blazing away

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Vertical Jump: 56cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 71cm/68cm
Speed (20m): 3.11 seconds
Agility: 8.29 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.3

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS

Vertical Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 NAB League Round 16 vs. Geelong

By: Michael Alvaro

Just continues to do the dirty-work in Tasmania’s engine room, digging in hard to extract contested ball and tackling with just as much intent. He wasn’t as prolific as usual, but still led the Devils’ disposal count with 23 on the back of some willing clearances in the final term with the game on the line. Is so clean at the stoppages, and looks to be sharpening up his use when coming away from them with more handballs and targeted kicks.

2019 NAB League Round 12 vs. Eastern

By: Michael Alvaro

The bottom-ager continues to excel in midfield, 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.

2019 NAB League Round 11 vs. Northern

By: Michael Alvaro

Responded well to being left out of the Allies’ 23, bouncing back to his usual ball-winning ways as a constant at the stoppages. Provides a good mix of competitiveness going both ways, finding the ball constantly but also tackling hard without it. He did show some burst and a willingness to kick forward on occasion – like with his centre clearance in the final term – and has the potential to be more effective in use. Was the skipper for the day as a bottom-ager, so has some pretty impressive traits already and is quite obviously talented.

2019 NAB League Round 9 vs. GWV

By: Joe Lee

Davis was a dominant midfielder all day, picking up 25 touches but also a huge nine inside 50s. His skill when delivering the ball, often to Callow on the lead, was sensational. Makes the forwards move when he has the ball and rarely misses a target. Stood out for his clean disposal and willingness to hit up his options in the blustery and slippery conditions. Was a handful for the Rebels to contain and once he gets into space, he makes the most of his possessions. Was a clear standout.

2019 NAB League Round 8 vs. Dandenong

By: Ed Pascoe

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

>> MORE FROM TASMANIA

Marquee Matchup: Jackson Callow vs. Cam Fleeton

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Archie Perkins

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll

Allies:
Braeden Campbell

Draft Central All-Star Teams: Geelong Falcons

GEELONG FALCONS’ All-Star side is up there with the very best in the country. With stars across every line, the starting 22 features 15 players of whom have at least won a best and fairest or made the All-Australian team. In fact, only three players in the entire team do not have a personal accolade to their name, instead providing some height and depth for the squad.

THE TEAM:

The team itself is star-studded and it is hard to know where to begin. The fact the Falcons have such a strong onball group that the likes of captain Gary Ablett Jnr and Patrick Dangerfield can slide to half-forward flanks – and dominate – is saying something. They have some of the best bookends of the 21st century, and a variety of intercept players and dangerous goal sneaks. In summary, good luck beating this team.

DEFENCE:

The defence will be held down by one of, if not the greatest full-back of the past two decades in Matthew Scarlett. The Geelong legend earned six All-Australians and a best and fairest during his time to go with his three premierships. Holding down the other tall options are Tom Stewart and Will Schofield, who can both be very impressive offensively and defensively respectively.

Providing some defensive attributes and niggle is Steven Baker in the back pocket. He will be able to take over the negating of an opposition small forward, while Collingwood premiership captain and one-time All-Australian Nick Maxwell provides the loose intercept option. He will team up with another legend in the back six, with Luke Hodge also in the starting six thanks to a CV that includes three All-Australians, two best and fairests, two Norm Smiths and four premierships.

On the bench is Lachie Henderson and Matt Maguire, of whom both could play roles in defence, or Henderson could slot up forward as well.

MIDFIELD:

There are elite midfields, and then there is this mind-boggling combination. We already mentioned the rotation of Ablett and Dangerfield off half-forward, and the fact Ben Cunnington, Chris Heffernan and Taylor Adams sit on the pine waiting for their chance says enough about the top-end quality this midfield produces.

On-back, Jimmy Bartel, Travis Boak and Cameron Ling are roving to Port Adelaide two-time All-Australian and one-time best and fairest, Matthew Primus. Bartel finished his career with a Brownlow, two All-Australians and a Norm Smith, while Ling had an All-Australian and best and fairest. Both players tasted success in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 premierships. Boak earned the spot in the midfield with 264 games, 171 goals, 118 Brownlow votes, two All-Australians and two best and fairests, nudging out Cunnington for the starting spot.

On the wings, Jordan Lewis had a 319-game career, and while his accolades are not as high as others, he finished with an All-Australian and best and fairest, playing some of his best years during Hawthorn’s three-peat as part of winning four premierships. Accompanying him on the other wing is former St Kilda now Geelong talent, Jack Steven. While the 183-gamer has battled with injury of late, he has still won four best and fairests and was named in the All-Australian 40-man squad twice.

FORWARD:

The half-forward line is hands down the best half-forward line across the board in these All-Star teams. While you might argue both Ablett and Dangerfield deserve to be playing midfield, it gives the team a better balance that two stars can sit at half-forward and potentially kick bags of goals whilst influencing the game. Between them they have 15 All-Australians, six MVPs, 10 best and fairests and three Brownlows – not half bad.

Then of course there’s Jonathan Brown at centre half-forward. The Brisbane three-time premiership players earned two All-Australians, three best and fairests and a Coleman Medal in his time, slotting 594 goals in 256 games. He teams up with Scott Lucas who managed 471 goals in 270 games, winning a couple of best and fairests and one premiership in his career.

Both Shaun Higgins and Luke Dahlhaus provide some serious X-factor inside 50, with Higgins now up to 220 games and 220 goals, with two best and fairests and an All-Australian. Dahlhaus has 124 goals in 178 games, with a premiership and an All-Australian 40 nomination. On the bench, Devon Smith can come on in bursts and provide that physical pressure inside 50, winning a best and fairest with the Bombers in his debut season with the club.

DEPTH:

With the exception in Stewart, we looked to those with more than 100 games to their names, and the likes of current players, Ed Curnow, Jasper Pittard, Allen Christensen, Gary Rohan, Lewis Taylor and Darcy Gardiner are all still on lists. From past players, Brent Moloney (166 games) has the most with Nathan Foley (154), Leigh Harding (141) and Amon Buchanan (134) the other two with more than 110 games. Looking much further ahead, James Worpel won a best and fairest in his second season with Hawthorn, so in a few years, expect him to be pushing into the side.

Eastern Ranges Player of the AFL Era: Vote for yours via our Instagram

EASTERN RANGES are up next in our Player of the AFL Era series which will be run through our Instagram channel starting at 12.30pm today. The Dandenong All-Star voting was completed yesterday with Brendan Fevola announced as the winner and captain of the Stingrays’ All-Star side. The Ranges have some recent 300-gamers in Sam Mitchell and Kade Simpson as top stars.

The voting will run over the next four days starting today, with the winner to be decided by Wednesday night (unless extra time and the full 24 hours is needed in the final vote). The next club involved in the voting process is East Fremantle starting on Sunday next week. All eligible players were selected thanks to the Draft Guru site.

 

Classic Contests: Cannons fire late to survive Devils scare

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides met in Wildcard Round.

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.7 | 6.9 (63)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 2.9 | 6.12 | 7.15 (57)

NAB League Wildcard Round | Sunday August 25, 2019
RAMS Arena, 11am

Future draftees:

Calder: Harrison Jones (Essendon) Sam Ramsay (Carlton), Lachlan Gollant (Adelaide)
Tasmania: Matt McGuinness (North Melbourne)

At the end of the regular season, all sides ranked fourth to 13th were opposed to sides at the opposite ends of the ladder. Very few would have predicted the 12th placed Tasmania Devils to have challenged the fifth placed Calder Cannons. The Cannons had a couple of challenging weeks early in the season, but had really hit form by the second half and come into the pointy end of the season looking the goods. The Devils had been competitive throughout matches, but could not quite get the wins on the board. Despite having to travel across the Bass Strait once again to challenge the Cannons on their home deck, the Devils gave Calder a massive scare and even led at the final break.

With the Wildcard Round treated as effectively an elimination final, there was no turning back when the two sides headed out onto RAMS Arena in late August. Calder’s Daniel Mott was the first one on the scoreboard with a goal six-and-a-half minutes into the match. Defender and future Roo, Matt McGuinness responded a few minutes later to level the scores, something that would indicate just how tight the match would be. A late major to Harrison Jones would separate the sides at the first break, but Tasmania had its fair share of chances with 1.4 from an extra chance to the Cannons.

When Jake Steele booted a goal at the five minute mark of the second term, the Devils had hit the front. But five straight behinds hurt the visiting team as they could, and should have been further ahead at the main break, instead a unlikely major to defender-turned-forward Mason Fletcher with 45 seconds left on the clock tied the scores. In comparison, the Devils had achieved 11 scoring shots to six, but were not able to capitalise on their scoring attempts.

Back-to-back goals to Campbell Edwardes and Fletcher in the first six minutes of the second half had the visiting fans wondering if they had blown their chance. The lead would stretch out to 14 points – the most of the game at any stage. Instead of fading away, Tasmania booted three consecutive goals to go as much as six points up. Yet again however, Calder would have the answer, as Carlton draftee, Sam Ramsay put through a crucial major against the momentum to level the scores again with less than five minutes remaining in the quarter. When the teams looked set to head into the final change level once again, Baynen Lowe found the big sticks and the Devils once again led – albeit by five points.

After both teams booted back-to-back behinds, it was Harrison Minton-Connell who became the home team’s saviour, booting two last quarter goals to give his side a seven-point lead with six minutes remaining in the match. Jeremy O’Sullivan converted with two-and-a-half on the clock and with a 13-point lead it looked near insurmountable. But nobody told the Devils as a quick behind and then goal to Jared Dakin with 22 seconds remaining had them believing. Unfortunately for them, the time ran out by the time the centre square ball up had occurred and the Cannons were home by just six points.

Ramsay was best afield, continuing his ripping second half form with 33 disposals, 11 marks, four clearances and a goal, well supported by Mott (21 touches, five clearances, four tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Ned Gentile (26 disposals, six marks, four clearances and seven inside 50s. Brodie Newman racked up 22 disposals and 12 marks, while Curtis Brown (20 touches, four marks and eight rebounds) and Edwardes (20 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) were instrumental in the back half. Minton-Connell’s last quarter efforts saw him end with 19 disposals, five marks and two goals, while other draftees playing on that day were Adelaide’s Lachlan Gollant (11 disposals, eight marks) and Essendon’s Jones (five disposals, one mark and one goal).

For the Devils, McGuinness was the equal top disposal winner with 25 touches, five marks, three inside 50s, nine rebounds and a goal along with Dakin – playing his first game of the year post-injury – who racked up 25 disposals (12 contested), eight clearances, 10 inside 50s and a goal. Will Peppin (21 disposals, five marks, six tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s) and Jackson Callow (18 disposals, six marks) also won plenty of contested footy, while Harvey Griffiths (14 disposals, five marks and eight inside 50s) found plenty of the ball going forward.

Calder Cannons would go on to win the following week’s elimination final against Dandenong Stingrays before going down to Sandringham Dragons in the semi-finals.

Classic Contests: GIANTS hold off Bushrangers in tight contest

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Murray Bushrangers and GWS GIANTS Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides met for the first official time in the NAB League competition.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 5.7 | 7.7 | 11.11 (77)
GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 4.5 | 6.8 | 8.11 | 12.16 (88)

NAB League Round 6 | Saturday May 4, 2019
Albury Sports Ground, 1pm

In a battle of the border, Murray Bushrangers took on the GWS GIANTS Academy having had a number of players who represented both sides over the years. A perfect example was Nick Murray on the GIANTS’ team as the overage had played for the Bushrangers in defence for the years prior. Heading into the match, neither team had set the world on fire, having both played four games and won just one, with the Bushrangers holding a 12 per cent lead over the GIANTS in 13th to 14th on the NAB League Boys ladder. The two players touted as top 10 picks coming into the match were Bushrangers’ Lachlan Ash and GIANTS’ Tom Green who both would end up in the orange and charcoal by year’s ned.

Green made an early statement with a strong mark and goal two minutes into the contest, in what would be a rare appearance up forward. With Harry Grant converting the first of what would be three majors, the GIANTS raced out to a 13-point lead midway through the quarter before Jimmy Boyer and Hudson Kaak broke the Bushrangers’ drought with back-to-back goals in 90 seconds. The visiting team kicked away again with two goals in the last five minutes to lead by 13 points at quarter time.

The Bushrangers needed a response early, and like Green in the first term, this time is was Ash who stepped up with a big goal to give his team confidence. After a couple of near misses, Boyer booted his second of the game to level the scores. Liam Delahunty and Jye Chalcraft traded goals before Grant found his second and the GIANTS had a seven-point buffer at the main break.

Josh Green and Jeromy Lucas booted the first two goals of the term as the GIANTS dominated the third stanza of the match, leading by as much as 22 points at one stage, with 2.3 to 0.0 on the board. Luckily for the Bushrangers, they managed to grab some momentum back going into the final break as Kaak and Mitchell Holt found the big sticks. With the deficit back to a manageable 10 points, it was well and truly game on in the final term.

GIANTS’ Lucas Conlan kicked the all-important first goal of the term, before Chalcraft capitalised with his second and the margin was back to 13 points. A couple of misses and then a third Grant goal had the GIANTS back out to a 20-point lead with 15 minutes left on the clock. With a scoreline of 10.15 inaccuracy was an issue for the visitors despite the solid advantage. Lachlan Sykes kept the Bushrangers hopes alive with an important goal, but back-to-back misses, this time from Ash and Chalcraft left Murray with some work to do at 11 points down. With seven minutes remaining, Matthew Hamblin booted his second and the game was as good as done with a couple of late goals to Cam Wilson and Boyer either side of Conlan’s second was not enough to get their side over the line.

It was no surprise to see Tom Green at the top of the disposal count with a mammoth 37 touches, 11 clearances, three marks, five tackles, five hitouts, two inside 50s and a goal in a best on ground performance. Lucas was not too far behind with 33 touches, seven marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Ed Perryman picked up 31 disposals, nine marks and six rebounds out of defence. Up forward, Grant booted three majors from 23 touches and eight marks while laying eight tackles, as Liam Delahunty was busy with 21 disposals, seven marks, three tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal. Murray had five rebounds from 10 touches and four marks against his former side, while Conlan and Josh Green both booted multiple goals.

Ash was one of three players to record the most disposals, teaming up with fellow midfielders, Dylan Clarke and Cameron Wild. All three had 27 disposals, and combined for 13 marks and eight clearances. Ash also had the five inside 50s and a goal, while Boyer was the most lively in the forward half with three majors from 22 disposals, five marks and three clearances. Sam Durham (22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s) and Charlie Byrne (20 disposals, three tackles and nine rebounds) also found plenty of the ball, while Chalcraft (14 touches, four marks) and Kaak (eight touches, three marks) booted two goals each.

The win was the GIANTS’ last match in the Academy Series, finishing with a 2-3 record, while the Bushrangers would go on to finish ninth, only to narrowly bow out to Dandenong Stingrays in Wildcard Round.

Q&A: Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

The well-built inside midfielder/forward is also part of Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy (NGA), setting him up well to follow in the footsteps of graduates Isaac Quaynor and Atu Bosenavulagi as examples of the programs’ success, and the connection between Oakleigh and Collingwood.

While he was forced forward in 2019 due to the Chargers’ stacked midfield options, McInnes is primed to use all of his 192cm frame back among the engine room this season should he get on the park. A stress reaction in his back was the only blight on his pre-season, with the youngster raring to go should football make a return.

Having stepped out on Grand Final day for the Under-17 Futures All-Star showcase, and played a part in Oakleigh’s premiership side, McInnes is already well versed in performing when it counts and looks likely to be a key figure for each side he suits up for in 2020.

Q&A:

MA: Reef, it looks like you’re sitting out the testing today, what have you picked up?

RM: “Yeah, unfortunately I’m not testing today, obviously it’s still just my back issue. “I’m fully healed now which is good to see but just not really risking it today with Round 1 coming up. It’s unfortunate.”

Other than the stress reaction, have you come up pretty well in the pre-season?

“Yeah. I got diagnosed with the stress fracture a couple of months ago but now since being put through the rehab it’s healed and (feels) a lot better which is beneficial for me so I’m looking forward to it.”

You were really impressive in your bottom-age season, what kind of a base has that given you now for your top-age year?

“I really enjoyed my bottom-age year. “Just being around some of the big names who got drafted last year. It’s just been a good experience being able to have that opportunity, and going through different programs like Vic Metro. “I’m just excited to see how the year goes and what’s ahead for me.”

With the stacked engine room last year, you got pushed out to the flanks – are you looking forward to getting back into a midfield role?

“I’d love to. “Midfield I think is my best position but honestly, wherever the team needs me I guess, I’m happy to play there. “But obviously midfield, I’d love that.”

It must be great to have some mentors like Isaac Quaynor at the Collingwood Next Generation Academy?

“It’s been awesome. “Just being able to associate with a couple of the coaches there, to have that experience to train with the AFL club and all that has been awesome. “Especially Isaac, knowing him personally as a mate of mine, he’s been able to guide me through and it’s been really beneficial. “Same with people like Will Kelly, those sort of boys it’s been really helpful for me just being around them.”

Does it help you set up some goals now being around those guys at the next level?

“Yeah, it’s been awesome. “Just to see my mates get to where their goals have taken them, hopefully one day that’s me but obviously I’ve got to keep working.”

What are some of those goals you’re setting up now?

“Obviously I’d love to play in the (national) carnival, to have a good shot at that would be awesome. “But obviously AFL’s the goal in the end for most of us boys who are here so if that happens, that’s awesome. “But if not, then I’ll keep working.”