Tag: nab league scouting notes

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Preliminary Finals

THE Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers advanced to the NAB League grand final after comprehensive preliminary final victories on Saturday at Princes Park. Before they do battle at the same venue a week later, we take a look at the standout combine invitees and under-agers players from all of the final four sides in our opinion-based scouting notes.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons

Oakleigh Chargers:
By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Nick Bryan

Bryan had one of his better games for the year hitting 15 disposals in a game for the first time. Despite looking calm with the ball around the ground some of his kicks where rather laconic so there is certainly room for improvement there. His hitout work again was great, often giving his midfielders first use. Bryan finished the game with 15 disposals, five marks and 21 hitouts.

#5 Trent Bianco

The Oakleigh captain was again all class for four quarters, patrolling the wing and back flank, winning plenty of the ball and using it incredibly well. Bianco’s kicking especially on both feet is perhaps one of the best in the NAB League as he often picks the right option and weights his kicks perfectly – one kick he had inside 50 in the third quarter was particularly sublime. Bianco had a complete performance finishing the game with 27 disposals, six marks, five tackles and five inside 50s.

#8 Noah Anderson

Anderson was kept goalless for the first time this year in Oakleigh’s first final but he was back to his damaging best kicking three goals and making it look easy. Anderson was again solid through the midfield showing great composure with ball in hand and using the ball well by hand and foot. Anderson’s first goal was a solid set shot from 45m and second was an easy goal running into open goal but his third was the best showing confidence to go back and kick a huge set shot from 55m. Anderson finished the game with 23 disposals, four marks and three goals.

#9 Will Phillips

Phillips backed up his impressive game in the first final to once again make an impact in the preliminary final, showcasing his ability to find the ball and use it well, also showing great movement in traffic and composure with ball in hand. Phillips has been playing mostly on the wing where he does well but he looks most natural winning his own ball and exiting the stoppages with his acceleration out of traffic and ability to weave through congestion and hit a target by hand or foot. He can also impact the contest with his strong tackling which he also showcased against Sandringham, Phillips finished the game with 27 disposals and eight tackles.

#11 Matt Rowell

Rowell had a slow start but finished the game extremely strongly as usual with his work rate first class, ability to attack the contest all day and tackle hard as well. Rowell just continues to power through with his strength at the contests and willingness to win the ball and extract it for is teammates but he works equally as hard to cover the ground and help out. Rowell showed off his great acceleration getting away from his opponent but just missing a goal on the run, it was a tough kick and the effort to even get the kick away was eye catching. Rowell finished the game with 32 disposals, five marks, six tackles and five inside 50s

#15 Kaden Schreiber

Schreiber enhanced his draft stocks with an eye catching display on the wing winning plenty of the ball and showcasing his ability to hit targets with his trusty left foot. Schreiber started the game well getting involved willing to get his hands dirty and although his handballs at times lacked penetration he did well to get in positions to bring teammates into the game. Schreiber was a solid four-quarter player winning plenty of the ball and working well offensively and defensively showing good courage with an intercept mark in defensive 50. Schreiber finished the game with 24 disposals and eight marks.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Another dominant outing from the 2020 draft prospect who is tied to the Western Bulldogs’ NGA, the talented key forward was again the clear standout key forward with his speed off the lead and marking power too much for Sandringham to handle. Ugle-Hagan had a great start taking two great lead up marks an converting both set shots but his best goal came in the third quarter marking deep in the pocket and kicking a sensational goal right on the siren. His last goal came easy in the last quarter with a mark and quick kick in the goal square. Ugle-Hagan finished the game with 12 disposals, nine marks and kicked 4.2 with a few on the full as well.

#29 Finlay Macrae

It would seem a second Macrae is on the horizon in the AFL with 2020 prospect Finlay playing a fantastic game showing his class and composure. Macrae’s best bit of play came in the second quarter selling a bit of candy before kicking a perfect pass inside 50 to teammate Cooper Sharman, Macrae found it easy to find space around the ground and use the ball superbly by hand and foot. Macrae finished the game with 22 disposals, nine marks and six inside 50s.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Despite not having a huge game Sharman was able to showcase why he was invited to the national combine with some great bits of play and showing his solid set shot technique. His first goal came from a free kick in the second quarter converting an easy set shot from 30m and he kicked the last goal of the game from a great pass from teammate Will Phillips then converting the set shot from a slight angle. Sharman looked at his best early in the game presenting up the ground and showing some nice plays on the wings. Sharman finished the game with seven disposals and two goals.

Sandringham Dragons:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

The tall midfielder started at the first centre bounce and began the contest really well, gathering 11 disposals in the opening quarter. His hands were clean and he moved through traffic with ease at times, highlighted by a couple of stylish side steps. He made an awful error late in the first term, turning the ball over in the defensive 50, but there was certainly more good than bad. As Oakleigh took control in the second and third quarters, Chirgwin wasn’t sighted as often, but he finished the game off well to end with a respectable 22 disposals.

#4 Finn Maginness

It was an uncharacteristically quiet game from the Hawthorn father-son prospect, who struggled to get involved when Oakleigh was on top. When he did win the ball, he was able to get clear from the stoppage and get the ball long inside 50 on occasions. There were times when he lacked options though, which lead to him being chased down in the corridor during the third term. He would only finish the game with 13 disposals, but he has shown more than enough throughout the year for the Hawks to know they have a good one on their hands.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

On a dirty day for the Dragons, the prolific Byrnes still found a way to get involved and win plenty of the footy. He just knows how to get in ball winning positions and is often used as a dangerous conduit to enter the forward 50. He possesses underrated pace from congestion and uses the ball well on either side of his body. As we have become accustomed to, Byrnes finished the day as Sandy’s leading ball winner with 23.

#6 Miles Bergman

This guy is a really exciting talent. Starting forward, Bergman took a strong mark on the lead in the first term before launching a set shot goal from outside 50. It was an impressive start and while he didn’t win mountains of the ball, the eye catching AFL attributes continued to emerge as the day went on. Some smooth movement through traffic in the second term was not long followed by a lace out 55 metre pass inside 50 to set up a goal to Hugo Ralphsmith. During a play in the second half, he sold some candy and side stepped an opponent without fuss, before kicking long to advantage. You can add courage to his list of qualities too, as he threw himself with the flight of the ball to impact an aerial contest late in the day, despite his side being done and dusted. 14 touches and a goal doesn’t sound too exciting, but Bergman passes the eye test with flying colours.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

It was a tough day for a Sandringham forward to get involved, but Ralphsmith always looked a likely option whenever the ball entered his area. He attacked the aerial contests and got in dangerous scoring options when Sandy won the ball forward of centre. He took some nice overhead marks and could have easily finished with more than one goal, kicking three behinds of which a couple were very convertible set shots. His one goal was a stylish banana finish though, after being on the end of a superb Bergman hit.

#13 Louis Butler

The ball winning half-back did not start the game in great fashion, missing an easy target in the pocket which resulted in a goal for Oakleigh. From then on his ball use was much better, picking out safe options in the corridor and down the line. He spent more time in the midfield as time went on, winning a couple of excellent ground balls in the final term with his head over the ball. He finished the game with 19 disposals.

#14 Kyle Yorke

Yorke is a bit of an old school key position forward who can mark, kick and importantly has some goal sense. Playing in front, he took an easy overhead mark in the first quarter and converted the set shot from close range directly in front. In the second term he got involved again, collecting the ball in the left hand pocket and superbly executed a dribble kick from the angle for a second.

Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power

Eastern Ranges:
By: Ed Pascoe

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

It was another typical game from Stapleton, showcasing his hard edge at the contest in winning the contested ball and tackling hard to once again be an important cog in the Eastern Ranges midfield. Stapleton was a strong four-quarter player, putting his body on the line all day and moving quickly to either win the ball at a stoppage or hit the opposition with a hard tackle. Stapleton finished the game with 22 disposals, eight tackles and four inside 50s in a great performance to keep enhancing his draft stocks.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was again a hard worker for Eastern Ranges, setting the standard with his two way running and willingness to take the game on and create. Mellis although not hitting the scoreboard as much as recruiters would like is doing great work to set up countless forward forays with his speed with ball in hand. Mellis finished the game with 21 disposals and four tackles.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter again was Eastern’s main target up forward and once again was able to hit the scoreboard and make an impact from his limited disposals. He came out with good intent with a strong tackle inside 50 to lock the ball in and soon after would take a nice lead up mark and slot the set shot from 25m with not much angle. He would set up a goal in the third quarter with a nice turn and handball to Jordan Jaworski running into open goal and he finished his game converting a set shot from a downfield free kick. Rossiter finished the game with nine disposals, four marks and two goals.

#19 Wil Parker

The young defender Parker was cool, calm and collected with his ball use a real feature coming out of defence. Often tasked with the kickouts, his ability to sum up his options and hit a target was superb. Not just a designated kicker and runner, he also showed he could take an intercept mark with a well read mark in the first quarter. Parker’s composure was sensational, often picking the right option instead of blazing away and his ball use from defence was a big reason for Eastern winning the game. The talented Parker finished the game with 23 disposals, six marks and eight rebounds.

#20 Connor Downie

The Hawthorn NGA prospect for the 2020 draft continued his fine form in this years finals series with another stellar game on the wing, showcasing his ability to get around the ground and cause havoc with his silky left boot and marking ability across the ground. Downie would show his class with a long goal on the run from 50m in the second quarter after receiving a handball from a teammate, and Downie glides across the ground well and looks to have great athleticism to go with his skill. Downie finished the game with 18 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old sensation would get a rude awakening getting matched up on dour defender and Gippsland captain Brock Smith, showing how dangerous Sonsie can be to get the quality defender to curb his influence. Smith ruffed up Sonsie early not giving him an inch and testing the young player, but Sonsie would show his class with a brilliant pick up and turned his opponent inside out to hit a nice kick out wide. Smith would sit out the rest of the game, which allowed Sonsie off the leash to quickly hit the scoreboard in the second term for only a behind, he would finally kick a goal in the last quarter with a nice snap, and Sonsie finished the game with 11 disposals while kicking 1.2.

Gippsland Power:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

Serong started the game hot, collecting numerous inside possessions in the opening minutes and getting in ball winning positions. He used his body to advantage and got the ball forward when he could. He gave his side a sniff in the second term, running down an opponent inside 50 before converting the set shot to get Gippsland within a goal. As the Ranges took control, Serong’s influence lessened, but he hit the scoreboard again late to finish with a respectable 21 disposals and two goals. He has almost locked himself a top five position now and is a big chance to be playing senior footy early 2020.

#4 Sam Flanders

It was another bullocking performance by Flanders who has enhanced his reputation further with a massive finals series that may now have him in top five contention. He was explosive at the stoppages, at one point handballing to himself (I’m not sure whether deliberately or not to be honest) before collecting and kicking long inside 50. He’s become a genuine two-way midfielder now and has a natural feel on how to impact the contest offensively and defensively. Flanders has much improvement to come in an AFL environment too, he is going to be great fun to watch develop.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder was solid at the contest again, but was arguably more influential on the spread as he won the ball on the flanks and made good decisions. He isn’t blessed with pace, but makes up for that with smarts and finds a way to get away from his opponents. He has courage in the air too, going back with the flight during the second quarter to impact a contest. He finished with 23 disposals to match his NAB League average and prove again how reliable he is.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Sparkes has had some great games throughout 2019, but I feel Saturday’s effort was one of his best for the season. Starting on the wing, he ran hard up and down the ground to provide a target or impact any contest he could. He won a brilliant ground ball in the second term, before kicking long inside 50 to advantage in a rare Power attacking foray. When Brock Smith went down with a shoulder injury in the first half, Sparkes took it upon himself to help out in the back half. He seemed to intercept and rebound at will in the fourth term, impacting aerial contests and running offensively when the opportunity presented. One of Gippsland’s highlights on a disappointing day, finishing with 26 disposals.

#17 Charlie Comben

It certainly was not one of Comben’s better days, but he wasn’t alone. He took an excellent reaching contested mark in the first term, but that was about as good as it got for Comben. Riley Smith had the better of him in ruck, while he lacked supply inside the forward half. Despite that, I love what he offers and I doubt there are many more talls in the draft who have a higher ceiling. An AFL club could land themselves a bargain here.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The highly talented Phillips was in and out of the contest, but provided some eye catching moments as he always does. He took a nice lead up mark early and a long running kick inside 50 during the first term. He earned a 50m penalty and kicked a vital goal after the siren on three quarter time to keep Power alive, but couldn’t have an impact in the final term. Didn’t have the finals series he would have liked, but was one of the leading goal kickers in the NAB League with 28 majors and has the scope to develop rapidly once in that AFL environment. He has many admirers.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Another outstanding final by the thick set defender, who has come to life and given recruiters (particularly Hawthorn) a bit to ponder over the coming months. He got Gippsland on the board in the first term with a long running goal that lifted spirits after Eastern kicked the first two. He had long metres gained, highlighted taking an intercept mark in defensive 50 and playing on to run through the corridor and get the ball forward fast. His body positioning was excellent to win the ball or protect a teammate. He had genuine claims to be Gippsland’s best and carried the flag on a day when his side had minimal winners.

Caught the Eye: NAB League Boys – Semi-finals

SANDRINGHAM and Gippsland won through to preliminary final week with comfortable wins in trying conditions at Princes Park on Saturday. With only the best of the best left, it was difficult to pick out this week’s Caught the Eye candidates, and we have gone for some less-heralded prospects. Each showed signs of why they earned combine invites, and you can find their extended profiles by clicking on their names highlighted in red. For full scouting notes on each player and more, click here.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Calder Cannons

Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons | Forward/Wing
9/11/2001 | 187cm | 77kg

Stats: 19 disposals (12 kicks), 8 marks, 1 inside 50, 3 goals, 3 behinds

Our scouts said:Ralphsmith was the player to take the game away from Calder early… unstoppable both in the air and at ground level, taking some strong marks in the pack and on the lead and also swooping on the loose ball.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Is a real game changer with his athletic base and skills around goal, proving as much in this game. His speed inside 50 made him a menace close to the big sticks, getting to a raft of contests and using his best instincts to snatch two of his goals from close range. Could have had an even bigger game if he had taken a couple of later chances and if teammates had turned around sooner, but reminded us of his sizeable upside as a forward mover.

Lachlan Gollant
Calder Cannons | Wing
12/09/2001 | 189cm |

Stats: 14 disposals (9 kicks), 3 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s

Our scouts said:Not a huge disposal game with just the 14, but his defensive work was very impressive. On a number of occasions he put his body on the line when he had to go and protected the ball drop zone, as well as applying shepherds and bumps when required.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Is another late bloomer having only come into the Calder squad mid-season. Has hardly been a high disposal winner in his six NAB League outings with this week’s haul of 14 his best yet, but Gollant provides a good mix of outside skills and defensive acts on the wing. Obviously has something that club recruiters want to see more of given his state combine invite, so will be one to keep in the memory bank come draft time if he impresses in the athletic tests. Looks a clever type.

Gippsland Power vs. Western Jets

Leo Connolly
Gippsland Power | Defender
7/08/2001 | 180cm | 72kg

Stats: 19 disposals (16 kicks), 3 marks, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:Connolly’s excellent form continued on Saturday as he again took the game on with great intent from the back half… baulking around opponents and cutting through the corridor with dare before generally executing a pinpoint pass.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: Has been impressive in the back end of the year after putting in a number of consistent games previously with much of Gippsland’s core absent. Connolly is really starting to shine with his use by foot on either side and is a player who can become a real metres-gained asset from the back half or further afield. He’s silky on the ball and his impact on this game among a stacked Gippsland line-up shows his worth, so keep an eye on the state combine invitee.

Daly Andrews
Western Jets | Midfielder
22/02/2000 | 183cm | 81kg

Stats: 26 disposals, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said:Was one of the best players on the ground, for either side. Starting at the centre bounces, Andrews was dynamic inside and out, providing an early match highlight by kicking a monster goal from outside 50 in the opening minutes.” – Craig Byrnes

Verdict: Capped off a strong over-age year with another great dual-sided performance from midfield. There is no questioning his inside capabilities now after it was queried last season, and Andrews stood up against some pretty stiff Gippsland opposition. He kept Sam Flanders quiet early on while finding his own ball with ease, ensuring he was relevant going both ways. Consistently getting those high numbers will be the next step, but it seems he has admirably done all he can to improve to this point.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Semi-finals

THE cream is rising to the top as the NAB League finals series narrows down to the final four contenders after a pair of hard fought semi-finals. With a host of national and state combine invitees in action, we cast our eye over the weekend’s action to highlight the best-performing invitees in our opinion-based notes.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Calder Cannons

Sandringham:

By: Ed Pascoe

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

It was not a huge game from Chirgwin disposal wise but he was still a key cog in the Sandringham midfield where they out-worked their opponents. Chirgwin’s ball use was improved on last week and he made some good composed decisions at stoppages, he used his body well at stoppages and tackled hard when he did not have possession. Chirgwin finished the game with 17 disposals and eight tackles.

#4 Finn Maginness

Maginness was his teams best player playing a great four quarter performance with his work on the inside and workrate around the ground proving unstoppable for the Calder midfielders. The Hawthorn father-son prospect set the tone early winning the hard ball and proving impossible to tackle keeping his feet and firing out handballs, he was too strong to take down and his running too powerful for the Calder midfielders to go with him on the outside. Maginness kicked a classy goal in the first quarter faking his opponent and then kicking the goal on the run, his disposal by foot has never been a strong suit but he was able to hit some good targets especially inside 50. MAginness finished the game with 32 disposals, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s and a goal.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes, despite a slowish start, really hit his straps half way through he first quarter and never looked back, playing a huge game through the midfield in winning plenty of the ball and firing the it inside 50. Byrnes has been Sandringham’s player of the finals so far and the captain played his role well, winning the ball on the inside and working hard around the ground while showing great composure with ball in hand and moving it quickly inside 50 when needed. Byrnes finished the game with 32 disposals and 10 inside 50s.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman had a very quiet game by his standards and was well held by Calder’s Ben Overman. Bergman’s poor game was not through lack of effort since he still led hard to provide an option up forward, it was disappointing that Sandringham did not move him into the middle in the last quarter to try and get him some touch going into their preliminary final next week. Bergman finished with four marks and four disposals.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith was the player to take the game away from Calder early kicking three first quarter goals and despite not adding to that tally, still finished the game as one of Sandringham’s most influential players. Ralphsmith was unstoppable both in the air and at ground level taking some strong marks in the pack and on the lead and also swooping on the loose ball which is how he kicked two of his three goals in the first quarter. Ralphsmith seemed to lack a bit of composure after the first quarter just attacking the goals from very situation where he could have looked for his teammates more, still he would continue to show his exciting traits as he finished the game with 19 disposals, eight marks and kicked 3.3.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler again won plenty of the ball in defence providing important rebound for his side. Butler is one of the most consistent defenders in the NAB League having no trouble finding the ball and he proved that again and although it is mostly his attacking side that is highlighted he showed his improved defensive side with some strong tackles. Butler’s ball use was again good but still had some turnovers which he will need to better avoid if he is to get his side into a grand final. He finished the game with 25 disposals, five tackles and five rebound 50s.

#36 Oscar Lewis

Lewis played a different role for Sandringham playing mostly forward and despite not hitting the scoreboard still contributed well. The evasive left footer was energetic up forward both with and without the ball always looking to create with the ball and try and lock the ball in when he did not have it. Lewis finished the game with 12 disposals and seven tackles.

Calder:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Daniel Mott

The standout four quarter contributor from the Cannons who looked sore towards the end of the game but never stopped trying. He was frustrated with himself when he coughed up a handball on the deck to Dragons’ skipper Ryan Byrnes, but kept pushing hard and was one of the few ball winners from his side in the first term. He produced a lovely kick inside 50 to hit-up Mason Fletcher up one end in the third term, and intercepted a ball in the final quarter but his set shot just missed. He had another snap on goal late and it was bouncing through but touched by Corey Watts on the line.

#8 Sam Ramsay

After a quiet first term, Ramsay found the ball with ease, racking it up in the second half and becoming the main man with Mott tiring. He was working hard to try and create run and carry in the back half and open up the game. At times made mistakes going down the middle such as being chopped off by Byrnes late in the game, but he was doing his best to keep his side alive in the finals series. The biggest disposal winner from the Cannons and equal most on the ground, which was remarkable after only a few in the first quarter.

#21 Harrison Jones

Showed clean hands with a quick handball early in the second term, but the shot on goal from his teammate missed. He had a chance of his own from 55m out straight in front with a huge roost but just fell a few metres short and was rushed across the line. In the third term, Jones tried to create something going forward but ended up spraying the kick inside 50 out on the full, but the next kick was a low drilling kick inside 50. Jones also dropped back into defence at times, taking a nice intercept mark later in the game and switching play.

#38 Brodie Newman

The captain tried hard throughout the game in an often under-siege defence. He was having to back-up his teammates in the air and at ground level trying to maintain composure there, and was doing one percenters throughout the match. He went forward in the final term to try and spark something, doing well in a one-on-one contest against Watts to force a stoppage.

#43 Lachlan Gollant

His day started with winning a free kick for being thrown to the ground with his kick going out on the full, but it got better from there. Not a huge disposal game with just the 14, but his defensive work was very impressive. On a number of occasions he put his body on the line when he had to go and protected the ball drop zone, as well as applying shepherds and bumps when required. In one instant he won the ball, handballed off then shepherded for a teammate to run off half-back, then later on was tackled, had to cough up the ball quickly, but ran down an opponent with a terrific tackle.

#48 Nathan Stewart

Played out of defence and pushed up the ground to be solid overall in the scheme of things. He created some run and quick hands out of the back 50 and along the wing, including a great tackle on Jesse Castan on the wing to win a free kick.

Gippsland Power vs. Western Jets

By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland:

#2 Caleb Serong

It was another consistent four quarter effort from the highly rated Serong, who again topped the Gippsland disposal tally with 27. His stoppage work was a highlight as usual, as his clean hands and strength often gave Power first use with seven clearances. He kicked a lovely running snap goal in the second term, but he could have had an even greater scoreboard impact. He took a leaping overhead mark inside 50 during the third term, but didn’t connect well with the set shot. After keeping the ball in front from a stoppage in the last, he collected to run inside 50 and just missed on his left foot, but still showed the penetration he gets on his non-preferred. A double 50 metre penalty late was a lowlight, but he plays his best footy on the edge.

#4 Sam Flanders

Not as influential as the week before, but the explosive Flanders still produced some eye catching moments throughout the afternoon. His first half was a tad quiet, but was highlighted by a big torp that caused some panic inside 50. He got involved in the third quarter, escaping from a strong tackle at a stoppage, released to a teammate, before getting the ball back and kicking inside 50. His best moment came later in the third when he superbly read the drop of the ball off a pack to gather cleanly and run into an open goal. A solid 18 disposal outing.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder was back to his ball winning best for the semi-final, getting involved offensively and defensively. He set the tone in the first quarter with a heavy tackle in the defensive 50, before executing a rundown tackle later in the term. He was smart at the stoppages, reading the drop first as he often does and extracting to the advantage of his side. Baldi spread hard to the flanks and was used to on multiple occasions to deliver inside 50, with a composed left foot pass to Ryan Sparkes during the third term the best of them. He finished the day with 23 disposals to be one of many good contributors.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly’s excellent form continued on Saturday as he again took the game on with great intent from the back half. He took a great contested intercept mark in the opening minutes of the game, using smart body work to keep his opponent at bay. He was then on the end of multiple running plays, baulking around opponents and cutting through the corridor with dare before generally executing a pin point pass. He is Power’s go to man in the back half and he rarely lets his teammates down with those dual sided elite skills. Connolly finished with 19 disposals for the game of which most produced long metres to advantage.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Another Gippsland Vic Country representative who had a more profound impact in the second final, running up and down the wing and hitting the scoreboard. He produced a long metres gained movement in the second term and ran to dangerous positions. What I loved was that he created an option forward, hitting a lovely long set shot into the wind during the third term. Sparkes pushed inside 50 again in the final quarter, finding space in the right hand pocket and finishing well from a difficult position. As usual, he impacted aerial contests at every opportunity with courage and finished with a respectable 19 disposals to go with the brace of goals.

#16 Josh Smith

Again, it was extremely tough conditions for the talls, but Smith always finds a way to impact the contest. He threw his body around in the ruck and at ground level, on occasions looking hell bent on steamrolling through some of the Western midfielders. Some were smart enough to get out of the way, others were not so lucky. You can never question his endeavour, providing an excellent double effort on the wing in the first quarter. While he didn’t dominate, he managed to kick a nice running goal in the third term and played his role.

#17 Charlie Comben

Comben returned to the side after missing the Qualifying Final and was better than his disposal tally of eight suggested. He again provided moments that suggests why he is generating so much attention from a draft prospective. He started in the ruck and won his fair share of hit outs, before often resting forward to provide a target. He clunked an excellent overhead mark in the first quarter inside 50 and provided a second aerial highlight later in the third. At ground level he fought aggressively, laying a physical tackle on Daly Andrews in the first term. An excellent snapped goal under pressure in the final term capped off an underrated performance.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The medium forward had an ok day without setting the game alight. He started with a lovely hit up inside 50 in the opening quarter, but missed a gettable left foot snap shortly after by his lofty standards. It was a difficult wind to penetrate through though, as he kicked another snap across the face later in the day. He took a nice chest mark in the third quarter and kicked truly to finish with a goal and 15 disposals.

#37 Harrison Pepper

The Vic Country representative played arguably his best game of the season, picking off balls from half back for fun and rebounded with vigour. He read the drop of a pack ball brilliantly in the first term, in which he hit up a teammate inside 50 that started things off for him. A great smother, pick up and intercept in the second term earned an applause from the crowd, as he continued to find himself with the ball when it mattered. He was efficient and made really sound decisions, ending with an impressive 25 disposals and seven rebounds.

Western:

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was one of the best players on the ground, for either side. Starting at the centre bounces, Andrews was dynamic inside and out, providing an early match highlight by kicking a monster goal from outside 50 in the opening minutes. He was able collect cleanly on numerous occasions, sometimes getting his arms high to release or cut through traffic with ease and kick long. The 19-year-old continued to find the ball in the second half, despite Power holding control and he was able to kick a second goal in the final term. He finished with 26 disposals to end his campaign on an individual high.

#18 Emerson Jeka

The big key position forward made the most of his limited opportunities to be one of the Jets better performers. Playing on the miserly Tye Hourigan, Jeka had to fight for everyone one of his disposals. He took a Jonathon Brown style contested chest mark on the wing in the first half, coming over the top of the pack with presence. Not long after he marked on the lead, turned quickly and superbly hit Archi Manton lace out inside 50. Jeka hit the scoreboard in the final term for well earned snapped goal to end with 11 disposals.

#20 Darcy Cassar

The highly rated half back probably hasn’t had the finals series he would have hoped, but was still solid for the Jets on Saturday. With ball in hand he made good decisions and used it well, often getting in space behind the contest. Cassar struggled for options up the line and often had to retreat via handball to ensure his side held possession, finishing with 17 disposals.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 16

TWO of four games being played between the bottom-four sides did not stop a good amount of talent from shining through in Round 16 of the NAB League. We cast an eye over each match, highlighting the performances of representative squad members, as well as impressive under and over-agers, with our notes the opinion of each individual writer.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams

Oakleigh:

#6 Jeromy Lucas

Played an important role through the midfield to be a key cog in linking up the defence through to attack. He worked hard defensively to support the Chargers’ back six and was composed when providing an option and moving the ball off half-back, whilst applying plenty of defensive pressure around the stoppages. He had a number of important inside 50s, but finished off his own work with a good running goal in the third term after running hard to find space 40m out and converting the set shot from straight in front.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The small bottom-aged midfielder won the ball with ease throughout the match, having a big influence around the stoppages and then spreading to the outside to set up attacking plays. He had a massive 10 inside 50s, and along with Reef McInnes, provided the link from midfield to the forward line. He not only had some nice attacking plays, but laid a number of strong tackles, accumulating the ball by winning it himself and winning it back from the opposition.

#39 Reef McInnes

One of Oakleigh’s best and was a bigger body in terms of height in the midfield for the Chargers. He had a massive first term and was strong throughout the game, putting together a nice four-quarter effort. The Collingwood Next Generation Academy bottom-ager looked good around the clearances, winning a number of big clearances from in close, and set up scoring opportunities with nice kicks inside 50. He is able to get his hands free when tackles and had a shot on goal in the first term but his kick was rushed and it went to the left. McInnes showed good decision making ability when in congestion, picking the right option when handballing clear and stood tall against a number of opponents.

#72 Alex Lukic

Built on his recent debut with an even improved performance. The tall 16-year-old seemed more like a small with his ability to crumb the ball, kicking the easiest of goals after a free kick and play on by a teammate found him alone at the top of the the square in the first term, then kicked another later on from a tight angle to put it straight through in general play.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Continued his great form with more exciting moments, showing off his terrific vertical leap and clean set shot routine. He missed his first chance to the right – his first set shot miss in four games, but then converted his first opportunity from a 30m set shot on a slight angle in the second term. Sharman’s defensive pressure was noticeably up compared to his other matches, working on that area of his game, laying a great tackle in the back pocket in the second term as an example. He was strong and clean overhead, taking a great mark in front of Emerson Jeka in the third term and converting the set shot from 40m out. He did lose a one-on-one against a smaller but stronger opponent shortly after showing an area of improvement, but again had some really eye-catching moments in the game.

Western:

#3 Eddie Ford

The bottom-age forward reads the play well and times his marks, almost providing another massive highlight as he had at the Victorian trials at Ikon Park, but could not quite bring it down. He wanted to keep the ball moving at every opportunity, playing on and getting it deep into attack. Ford set up a goal to Billy Cootee with a quick handball out of congestion to his teammate free in space for a great goal. He had a chance himself earlier in the game but was dragged down and his shot went to the right.

#7 Daly Andrews

Tried hard throughout the four quarters and managed to win the ball in all thirds of the ground. He occasionally would rush kicks to get it out of the danger zone, or have a flying shot on goal such as he did in the first term, but was dragged down as he kicked it. His long raking kick was used to effect to put the ball inside 50 on a number of occasions and it impacted the scoreboard with a long-range shot from 50m out in the final term to cut the deficit to 21 points midway through the final term. Won a lot of his touches in close.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Played a full game down in defence and held his own. It was not his best game, but still showed plenty of signs to continue his good form of late. Jeka took a strong intercept mark one-on-one deep in defence to stop a potential goal early in the first term and had a timely punch short after to get it out of the danger zone. He contested well at every opportunity and continued to present at marking contests, taking another good intercept mark in the second term 25 metres out from goal.

#24 Josh Honey

Impressed throughout the game with a mix of offensive and defensive attributes, and whilst sometimes it might cost him – such as being pinged for holding the ball later in the game – it can be a massive benefit such as when he burst out of the middle in the second term for the first stoppage and set up the opening goal with a damaging long kick. He pushed hard into defence to win the ball at times, but was predominantly used as an option through midfield, kicking it long into attack. Best of all for Honey was his clean use with a slippery ball which forced others to fumble. His defensive work such as tackling and pressure on the ball carrier was also very good.

Tasmania Devils vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

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.

#6 Sam Banks

The 16-year-old has unbelievable class and poise, catching the eye with a couple of deft moves around opponents and long kicks forward. A lot of Banks’ work was done on the outside given his starting position on the wing, but he worked hard to have an impact at either end and penetrate both arcs. Banks’ best moments came with little baulks and clever props, using one to trick an opponent and find Jack Rand inside 50 before creating his own goal opportunity with another, but only managing to hit the post.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Known as the designated kicker for Tasmania, McGuinness was particularly influential in the second term and got to plenty of contests with his superior positioning. Truly plays above his height when setting himself to intercept, and did so on plenty of occasions while doubling as a driver out of the back half. He got forward well early on to get a hand-off on the forward arc, but put the long-range shot wide. Has shown marked improvement from his top-age year.

#8 Jake Steele

You know what you’re going to get from Steele, who put in another competitive shift for the Devils in a range of roles. Starting down back as he has done in the past few weeks, Steele was matched one-on-one against the dangerous Charlie Sprague, but had a greater impact when getting free to provide an outlet out of defence. The Allies representative was thrown into the ruck after half time where he became influential as the game tightened up, taking a couple of nice overhead marks and pushing Tasmania forward with long kicks. Missed a couple of sharp chances on goal, but was solid overall.

#25 Jackson Callow

It was a trying day for the Tasmanian target man but he started really brightly with some terrific shows of sticky hands on the lead and pure one-on-one strength. Callow’s only goal of the game came from a textbook set shot in the opening term, and his influence was quelled as the contest wore on as he was forced to lead up further afield and often flew for marks in packs. Definitely is not afraid to throw his weight around, providing a bit of niggle and sparking a three-quarter time melee – perhaps out of a bit of frustration. Is such a competitor though, and will be a leading tall prospect for next year.

#49 Baynen Lowe

Was by no means a high-disposal output from the 16-year-old debutant, but Lowe showed some nice signs in patches. Employed up forward, Lowe’s aggression and intent when hunting the ball and tackling was impressive given his diminutive size, having a real crack with great tenacity. Lowe paired those traits with touches of class, roving a ball nicely at speed, reading a high ball well to mark over the back of an opponent, and proving clean below his knees.

Geelong:

#1 Jay Dahlhaus

It was a steady return for the zippy top-ager, coming back from a serious knee injury sustained all the way back in Round 2. Playing permanently forward, Dahlhaus made a bright start as he found the goals in the opening term, going on to have his best impact with tackling pressure and by getting in the right spots. Didn’t all come together for him on the day, but it was good to see him moving well and back out there. Could be one to come back as an over-ager if he shows what he is capable of in Geelong’s closing games.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Has really found a home up forward and turned it on in patches to boot three goals for the fourth-consecutive time. Often starting out of the goalsquare, Sprague’s work on the lead made him particularly dangerous, getting good separation while also being able to gain an advantage with his bodywork. Booted his first major in straightforward fashion with a close-range set shot, before assisting Jay Dahlhaus shortly after. He would go on to put through another textbook set shot in the following quarter after finding space inside 50, but missed another chance after a fantastic run-down tackle close to goal. Had arguably the highlight of the day with a beautiful pick up in the pocket, spin, and snap to claim a sensational goal and cap an influential first half. Did not have the same scoreboard impact after half time, but continued to lead up well.

#37 Oliver Henry

Had some sort of start to the game, clunking just about everything that came his way in defence with some brave efforts going back with the flight and others coming in from the side. Henry’s clean hands and reading of the ball in flight were on full show, with his ability to rebound and find short options bringing a calmness to Geelong’s back half. Was arguably the most influential player afield in the first half, just continually attacking the ball in the air and bringing it down. Henry was eventually thrown forward as the Falcons rolled the dice late, but didn’t quite have the same impact. Will be a top prospect next year given his versatility, marking ability, and pedigree.

#40 Jesse Clark

Is doing well to show off different sides to his game with some more midfield minutes, and was relevant throughout the contest with his work at the stoppages. Clark just constantly found a way to find enough space amid congestion and break away or get the ball onto his boot quickly, pushing the Falcons forward. He caused enough of a headache around the ball to earn a holding free kick inside 50 in the first term, which he took full advantage of to boot his only goal for the game. The Geelong skipper accumulated at a good rate across the match, with a couple of nice tap reads and good tackling in-close.

#46 Henry Walsh

The big, lumbering bottom-ager continues to get the job done in the ruck, dominating around the ground to smack down 44 hitouts – albeit against smaller opponents. Walsh’s seems to be growing in his ruck craft, palming some nice hits to advantage and looking to put the ball into the best areas for his ball winners. The brother of Sam also impressed with his follow-up work at ground level, laying some heavy tackles at stoppages and even winning a couple of clearances. Was unfazed by some heat from the Devils after a goal in the third term, putting the ball down Jesse Clark’s throat at the very next centre bounce, which was good to see. Is still pretty raw but has shown his potential in recent weeks.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Another exciting Falcons bottom-ager, Fleeton played a massive role in what was arguable the contest of the day against Devils forward Jackson Callow. Despite conceding some size, Fleeton trimmed the difference with his leap and combativeness, following Callow’s every step and managing to get a hand in at the opportune moment. He improved his positioning as the game went on after getting caught behind and too far under the ball on separate occasions early, while making his opponent work the other way with some run on the rebound. Can sharpen up his use by foot at times, but has played every game since his Round 8 debut and is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Ed Pascoe

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young was Dandenong’s clear best on ground and he did everything he could to try and get his team over the line. Young’s first quarter was his best and his first great bit of play was a trademark kick on his left hitting up leading teammate Sam De Koning close to the boundary with no margin for error, and he would later hit up De Koning again with a nice spin out of trouble and great kick inside 50. Young was quieter until the last quarter where he was influential through the midfield attacking the contests hard and working hard up and down the ground to try and win his team the game. Young has been fantastic through the midfield in recent weeks and has certainly showed another string to his bow and using his strong marking and kicking higher up the ground, Young finished the game with 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill had a slow start to the game but he really came alive in the second and third quarters showing his fantastic work rate through the midfield and proving a dangerous option when forward. Cahill was crafty forward of centre and in the second quarter pulled off a super quick handball that lead to a goal and would kick a goal himself after winning a high free kick and converted the set shot. Cahill’s best bit of play came in the third quarter winning a stoppage at the defensive 50m arc then later linking up on the wing to kick inboard and would then keep running inside 50 to take a well earned mark and would convert the set shot which was well deserved for the massive effort. Cahill finished the game with 18 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and two goals.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning played forward after showing his quality as a defender at the Under 18 championships winning AA honours. He started the game well taking a nice leading mark to the boundary of a nice pass from teammate Hayden Young, it was a tough spot and he would miss the set shot. Despite being as taller player, De Koning was among the quicker decision makers and users of the ball with his handballs really standing out, he showed great courage going back to try and take a mark and would get hurt in the process and then in the third quarter would come off limping and take no more part in the game. De Koning finished the game with seven disposals, three marks and four hitouts.

Eastern:

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was one of Eastern’s better players for the day working hard through the midfield and using his pace any chance he got. Mellis was not afraid to take the game on and that was evident in the first quarter after taking a great mark, he would take the player on the mark on and got around him comfortably using his great explosiveness, he showed great attack on the ball inside 50 hitting it at pace and then using his explosiveness to evade and narrowly miss the running shot at goal. He would also use his speed without the ball as well doing well to work back into defence in the second quarter going back with the flight to spoil a certain mark to dangerous small forward Ned Cahill, he was a busy player through the day and finished the game with 24 disposals, three tackles and four inside 50s.

#21 James Ross

The Eastern captain was certainly influential and did so at both ends of the ground to remind recruiters of his talent. Ross started the game down back and was an intercept king often taking some courageous marks and also showing his reading of the play and clean hands with some marks coming from the side of contests. He was most annoying to Dandenong in the second quarter seemingly owning the defensive 50m arc. Ross was surprisingly sent forward in the third quarter and that move proved a game changer in a long scoring game as he would go on to kick two goals that quarter, his first came from an uncontested mark and would slot the set shot and the second came from a fantastic contested mark and he would again prove a solid set shot for goal. He wouldn’t add to his tally in the last quarter kicking a behind with a snap but he had done the damage to finish the game with 20 disposals, seven marks and two goals.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The MVP for Vic Metro in the Under 16 championships, Sonsie showed why he is a highly rated prospect for the 2021 draft with a solid outing playing through the midfield. Sonsie stood out with his quick reaction times and clean and crisp ball use, the one area Sonsie struggled in was his tackling with his lighter build working against him to properly hold up the opposition but the intent was certainly there and you couldn’t fault that for a 16 year old. He did however show good strength in a contest keeping his feet as this year’s highly touted prospect Hayden Young flew from the side to spoil him, he would then gather the ball and step Young in a great bit of play involving two great prospects of the future. Sonsie started on the wing but was moved into the midfield and would contest with Young on multiple occasions and despite the obvious size difference he more than held his own at the contest. Sonsie finished the game with 20 disposals, five marks, six tackles and five inside 50s.

GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Cam Ross

GWV:

#4 Jed Hill

Really smooth off half-back where he able to showcase his terrific foot-skills. Twice hit up forward targets with perfect long kicks on the lead. Played a very outside game, but his usage by foot was important.

#7 Mitch Martin

Had a quieter first half where he spent the majority of time on-ball. The talented forward was moved back to his natural position in the second half where he immediately hit the scoreboard, and had an influence in the Rebels’ comeback.

#13 Jay Rantall

Despite being closely monitored at stoppages in the first half, he was still was finding a lot of the ball around the ground. Using the word “singlehandedly” in a team sport is usually unfair, but Rantall’s efforts were as close to singlehandedly bringing his side back into the game as you could get. In the opening 10 minutes of the second half he had kicked two goals, and had a hand in two others, bringing the Rebels back into the game.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Barely sighted in the first half, due to the ineffectiveness of the Rebels’ forward 50 entries. Got a nice easy goal from the goal square, which was well deserved considering the amount of work he put in that went unrewarded, and then came alive after that. Took a few really nice marks inside 50, showing signs that he could be one to watch over the next two years. Took a big mark late in the game and kicked a clutch goal to make it a one point game. Really good size, athleticism and agility for a big man.

Bendigo:

#11 Aaron Gundry

Took a nice pack mark in front of goal, finishing the goal from point blank range. Looked better up forward than in the ruck.

#19 Ben Worme

Snuck forward and kicked a really important goal in the fourth quarter, turning an solid game into a good game.

#20 James Schischka

Played really well. His direct opponent had hardly any influence on the game. He showcased an ability to mark an opponent closely and defend with a big fist, while also proving his intercept marking ability. Nearly set up the winning goal with a quick kick forward that wasn’t converted on the siren.

#22 Josh Treacy

Best player for the Pioneers. Treacy won his own clearances in the ruck, and impacted further with tackle pressure at ground level. He booted two sensational goals; one on the run from the square, the other from winning a free kick with a nice tackle in front of goal.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 15

IT may have been a shortened round of five games, but there was no such shortage of talent on show in Round 15 of the NAB League. There was a diverse range of standouts this weekend, so here are out notes highlighting representative squad members, under-agers, and a few standouts from each game. Each note is the opinion of the individual writer.

Tasmania Devils vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Peter Williams

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked hard through the midfield and like many of the Devils’ midfielders, pushed back into defence where possible. He was able to intercept the ball by being in the right place at the right time early in the game, and then did so again later on at half-forward where he set up a target with a neat kick inside 50. He offered himself as an option in the chain moving the ball forward, was able to provide quick hands in close throughout the game, and was one of Tasmania’s best.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Another workmanlike performance from the tall defender who was more often than not composed with ball in hands in the back 50. At times his disposal could go array, such as a turnover in the third term straight to a Dragons’ opponent, but his launching left foot kick-outs broke open the game with some efforts almost reaching the centre circle. Patrolled the defence and took a number of intercept marks propelling the home side forward.

#13 Sam Collins

So strong one-on-one, he stands up in tackles and was a presence around the stoppages. He moved well through the midfield sharing his disposal-winning ability between both the inside and outside. His hands in close were a highlight of his game, and was productive throughout.

#25 Jackson Callow

Had a tough day at the office but not through lack of want or trying because he was one of Tasmania’s best once again. Instead, it was more the case of often he was double-teamed inside 50 with the Devils looking to him as a target the majority of the time and the Dragons defenders identified that and at most marking contests sat someone in front of him or came across as a third-man to spoil. Regardless, Callow booted the one goal – Tasmania’s first of the game and one of his few one-on-one contests – after great body positioning. He had a massive first term working up teh ground, winning the ball in each of the thirds, and then kept presenting throughout, but most of his marks had to come up the ground given the body pressure on him inside 50. He almost had a second with a quick snap in the third term but it fell short, and tried to set up a goal to Rhyan Mansell early in the fourth with a quick handball but the snap missed. One of the top key position options next year.

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

Returned from injury at the AFL Under-18 Championships with a strong first half before being managed in the second half. After a big impact in the middle, he also went forward and provided a presence, setting up Angus Hanrahan inside 50 for a goal in the third term. He was able to fire out quick handballs from stoppages and was strong overhead, able to not only hold his ground in marking contests, but also stand up in tackles. Possesses a nice kick and good decision making to hit up a target from half-back to half-forward straight down the middle in the second term.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

One of Sandringham’s best on the day, leading from the front. The biggest differential between Byrnes and a lot of midfielders is is ability to use either foot when coming out of stoppages. He just uses the foot from which side he has been forced to lean onto in order to get his clearances away – and he had a truckload. The most dominant midfielder on the ground, Byrnes set up that many teammates for scoring opportunities, he was like a playmaker in the attacking half – they included goals to Riley Bowman in the first term and Jake Bowey in the fourth term, and an unlucky miss to Miles Bergman in the last term as well who probably should have rewarded the effort with the straight forward set shot. He kicked a goal of his own late in the second term after marking, being called to play on and snapping around his body truly. Worked cohesively with Riley Bowman and Jack Bell at ruck stoppages.

#6 Miles Bergman

Had a solid game throughout the four quarters and just kept popping up with some nice moments, but should have had a bigger day with some set shot misses he will no doubt want to take again. He kicked a terrific goal in the third term with a snap from a forward stoppage showing all class, but missed the two easier shots – one in each of the bookend quarters – both within 30m out straight in front or on a slight angle. His field kicking was good and he kept presenting high up the ground, opening the game up at one stage in the fourth term with a delightful kick into the middle on that 45-degree angle to hit-up Jack Bell.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Clearly the best on ground once again and just seemed to do it all. Played off half-back, pushed up to the wing and then went forward in the second half to finish off with three goals. His highlight-real moment came late in the fourth term with a clean pick-up, gather and nice checkside snap near the behind post to kick his third major of the day. His other two goals came from set shots just inside 50, the second of which he won for a free kick after holding his ground in the marking contest and earning a chopping the arms free. He zipped around the ground racking up the touches off half-back and running into space, and whilst most of his disposals were won in uncontested situations, he used his composure and skill to hit-up teammates down the field. He provided run and carry and made good decisions going forward, even showing off some candy late in the game to hit-up Darcy Chirgwin inside 50.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruckload with Jack Bell and importantly got forward to kick a couple of goals. He took a terrific towering grab in the first term to grab it cleanly in the air and slot the set shot from 40m out, then kicked his second major midway through the second term with a snap around his body in general play. His best work was done in the ruck however, time and time again winning the hitouts and double-tapping it to the path of a running midfielder – usually Ryan Byrnes – and worked hard to also take some intercept marks and win his fair share of the ball around the ground. He and Bell proved a handfull for the Devils.

#32 Jack Bell

Teamed well with Riley Bowman and set up the first goal with a terrific hitout at the first centre bounce to get it to Ryan Byrnes who delivered inside 50. For a big man he showed composure with clean hands under pressure, and positioned himself well in marking contests. Missed a set shot early in the game after taking a good mark going back with the flight, but then capitalised in the final term with a good chest mark by protecting the drop zone, and kicking an easy goal straight in front. Ruckwork was impressive and kept moving as a target through the middle.

#43 Jake Bowey

An exciting bottom-age prospect who looks dangerous when he has the ball-in-hand because of his zip. He played mostly on a wing where he was able to win some early touches and showed clean hands in the wet to hit-up Ryan Byrnes for a goal late in the second term with a great kick and nice vision. Sometimes he can miss his targets by foot, but the kick is still well placed to their advantage, and he does try and take that high risk-high reward kick when going inboard. Bowey uses his body well and showed off his composure in the third term with a clean pick-up late in the third term, stepping around an opponent and snapping over his shoulder for a goal. Set up Jack Bell in the fourth term with a kick to his advantage at the top of the goalsquare. Has time and space in the midfield and weighs up where to put the ball to best advantage his team.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Gippsland Power

Dandenong:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Hayden Young

We have seen on numerous occasions what the likely top five draft prospect can do behind the play, but Young showed on Saturday that his stoppage attributes could be a tad undersold. Starting on the wing, he had some nice moments on the outside before spending more time inside where he came to life. He won some brilliantly clean clearances in the second term that started dangerous forays forward for Dandenong, highlighted by a one touch collect at pace and superb hit inside 50. He used his aerial nous at half forward when the opportunity presented, reading and intercepting the high Gippsland defensive 50 exits when in his area. He attempted to take on Ryan Angwin in the fourth term and got caught holding the ball, but got straight up to chase down Ryan Sparkes and executed a spectacular diving smother. He finished the day with 26 disposals and a goal in a near best on ground display.

#11 Ned Cahill

After missing a risky kick in the defensive arc early in the game, Cahill was back to his busy and efficient self spending a majority of his time in the midfield. He was smart and clean in tight, extracting the ball with minimal fuss and working hard on the spread. He probably didn’t win the ball in his usual damaging positions, but was creative enough to ensure his 23 disposals were beneficial to his side’s cause. Coming up against a quality midfield that packs plenty of depth, Cahill more than held his own and ensured the likes of Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi were accountable by laying seven tackles.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

It was an interesting day for ‘Biggy’, who had plenty of holes to fill after the unexpected early exodus of Dandenong talls. The late exclusion of Sam De Koning saw Nyuon start in defence on Charlie Comben and he provided some eye catching moments early running off the rapidly improving Power tall. An injury to Bailey Schmidt threw another spanner in the works and Nyuon quickly found himself in the ruck. He dug deep and made the seemingly unexpected move an advantage, consistently getting first hand in the ruck and having an impact at ground level. He ended the day with 14 disposals and 22 hit outs to be one of Dandenong’s best.

#32 Blake Kuipers

It was always going to be a tough day for the Dandenong KPDs having to counter the talented Gippsland talls, but Kuipers more than held up his part of the job. While he played some minutes on the hulking Josh Smith, a majority of his day was spent standing the in-form Charlie Comben. Kuipers didn’t win much of the footy himself, but he managed to keep the Vic Country tall goalless and have minimal impact despite plenty of Gippsland entrances. His aerial decision making was excellent, spoiling when required and taking a couple of great intercept marks when in best position. His kicking was scrappy to say the least with a few poor turn overs, but it’s an area of scope. He looks comfortable in the back half.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Starting mostly on the wing, Williams was influential in collecting 21 disposals and kicking two goals. He got to dangerous positions on the outside and was often involved in long metres gained chains. He worked hard to get out the back of the pack to kick the first goal of the day and took a nice little specky inside 50 during the second quarter, striking a lovely set shot from the arc for his second goal. While he had some excellent moments, Williams had a bit of a mixed day by foot. He shanked and turned some balls over, but the evidence over the year suggests this is an exception to the rule.

Gippsland:
By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders played the game with great intent and in terms of attack on the footy he was right up there but was often let down with disposal, with his overall impact being low for his standards. Flanders had some chances to do some damage, with a set shot in the first quarter that did not quite make the distance and a snap at goal in the second quarter that registered a behind. Flanders’ attack on the ball and clean hands were very notable with plenty of players fumbling on the day and not committing, he made a great chase in the last quarter and certainly performed well in that last quarter in terms of attack and intent, even showing a nice spin move out of trouble. Flanders finished the game with 19 disposals and four inside 50s.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi had a solid outing playing through the midfield with his attack on the ball and willingness to take the game on a real feature. Like many teammates in the first quarter he had a chance to hit the scoreboard with a set shot just holding up from long range. He had some nice bits of play in the second half with a nice shark from a stoppage and a nice long clearing kick inside 50, another great bit of play was a lovely pass inside 50 lowering his eyes to hit up the leading player. Baldi finished the game with 20 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s.

#12 Brock Smith

Smith has been in a purple patch as of late and that continued against the Stingrays with an impressive showing playing as an undersized key defender. Having some talls go down early didn’t help the Stingrays but regardless Smith held strong down back and provided great counterattack on the rebound, Smith’s work overhead was strong and his body work too good for any smaller player he came up against and at this stage is proving to be Gippsland’s most valuable player. Smith’s disposal at times let him down but more often than not hit his targets and picked good options. Smith finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks and nine rebound 50s.

#17 Charlie Comben

Comben had a rough day at the office in a game where Dandenong lost their best key defender before the game and their ruck early on. It seemed everything aligned for Comben to have a big game but it just didn’t quite click for him. Comben was one of many players in the first quarter to have a shot at goal that didn’t make the distance but that came off a very nice lead up mark. Comben showed his aerial skills with his overhead marking a feature but what really impressed was his clean hands at ground level for a tall player with a magnificent gather under pressure in the forward 50 in the second quarter and hand-balling to the running player’s advantage. Comben finished the game with eight disposals, three marks and one behind and he will look to get back into goal kicking form in his next game.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips had a solid game and showed his exciting traits that make him a highly sought after talent. Phillips did not do a lot wrong throughout the game with ball in hand and he also impressed without it with a good tackle that was rewarded in the second quarter to lead to his first goal. His second goal came in the last quarter with a quality gather on the run and classy snap goal showing his speed, class and cleanliness inside 50. His kicking was again a great feature with his laser left foot and I was impressed with one but of play in the third quarter where he took a nice lead up mark on the wing and worked hard to get into forward 50 to be another option. Phillips finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks and two goals.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#1 Will Christie

Provided a good presence around the ground as a strong ruck effort in the midfield. He showed clean taps and also backed up his efforts by winning the ball at ground level. He pushed his direct opponent by getting forward and being a target, taking a strong intercept mark at half-forward, and then marking 30m out straight in front, but unfortunately missing the set shot. Was a fierce tackler on the day, not afraid to get down and stop opponents in their tracks.

#2 Charlie Byrne

Liked the look of the bottom-ager off half-back, playing the Lachie Ash role to allow Ash to play midfield and forward. He is so clean with his ball use, and positions himself well behind the play. He took a number of great intercept marks, and his left foot was a treat to watch. Whilst he did spend the majority of his time in defence, Byrne kicked a nice goal on the run in the opening term.

#5 Cam Wild

Played a mixture between half-forward and midfield, and had a big impact after a quieter first term, getting his hands on the ball more and ran rampant in the second half. He kicked a lovely running goal in the second term, timing his kick well at full speed to get on the board, then set up a goal to Will Chandler in the third, with a kick that might have been a shot on goal that fell short, but nonetheless it goes in the book as a goal assist. He balanced his disposals well between handballs to open the game up and kicks forward, and burst out of the middle in the third term for a shot on goal but it went to the right.

#6 Will Chandler

Had a couple of highlight runs down the field, taking a run down the middle in the first term but his flying shot on goal went to the left, then had another run off half-back to the wing. He had another flying shot on goal tight on the boundary but missed to the right, then finally got on the board in the third term with a running mark just inside the line and then a snap from a set shot goal. He dribbled home his second goal to bring up the 100 for Murray late in the third term. In the last he took a good intercept mark in the middle midway through the quarter, but then bit off more than he could chew playing on, fending off an opponent but was pinged for throwing the ball. Laid a good tackle in the forward 50 late in the game to lock it up and prevent a rebound.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Had the luxury of mixing between midfield and forward and had an impact in both areas of the ground. He still got back to help out the defence early, running on of defence and using his elite decision making and foot skills to hit up teammates down the ground. Gave off a goal assist to Kade Chalcraft with a wobbly kick that was effective, and after having a big first half in the middle, spent considerable time forward in the second half, kicking a goal after a strong lead and vertical leap to convert from 40m out straight in front. He missed a short just earlier from a tighter angle just inside 50, and tried to squeeze through another later in the term but the kick just lacked the distance and was intercepted in the goalsquare. Ash’s hands at ground level off the deck were lightning to give it to co-captain Cam Wilson to run in for a shot on goal. Prominent as usual.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Productive throughout the game, Chalcraft ran hard for four quarters picking up plenty of touches and being a staple in the midfield that had plenty of rotations. He would have had good metres gained given his ability to win the pill and take off, or zip around the ground and win a number of possessions in a chain to get it forward. He took a nice mark leading out inside 50 later in the game but his set shot missed, though showed off his work rate not long after, getting into defence and running the ball out with a neat kick. He did kick a goal in the second term by getting creative to kick the ball around his body mid-air and went straight through the middle to answer Western’s second goal late in the term.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Named as Murray’s best and was one of a number of players who could have bestowed the honour after an impressive game. Just kept running hard and kicked three first half goals when the game was hot. Boyer kicked his first after winning the ball in the goalsquare following hard running, turned his opponent inside out and snapped around his body from a few metres out. He kicked his second from the pocket late in the first term with a terrific kick, then his third from a quick play on and goal from 30m out in the second term. Just prior to that he set up Nicholas Irvine with the easiest of goals, winning the loose ball in the pocket and handballing over the top of an opponent to Irvine to run into the goalsquare and kick truly. Boyer had some risky touches in defence such as one in the third term, but his work rate saw him mop it up and help out his teammate after his kick dropped short. Spreads well around the ground and played further up the ground in the second half.

#31 Josh Rachele

Astonishing to think that this kid has two more years left at NAB League level, and it is easy to see how he took home the Kevin Sheehan Medal at the Under-16 National Championships. Rachele is as composed as anyone on the ground and his hands at ground level are like velcro-mits that just scoop the ball up cleanly and fire off handballs to running teammates. Aside from his clean hands, his ability to turn on a dime makes him so damaging because of his agility and then burst speed that burns off opponents, such as he did in the first term with his set shot just missing. Prior to that though he kicked a goal from 30m out straight in front having an impact from the start and setting the tone for his game. He has a damaging left foot that he used to not only capitalise himself, but set up others. He set up a goal to Jimmy Boyer in the second term with a clean handball out of a pack, and could have done the same for Cam Wilson in the third quarter but his shot on goal missed. Rachele booted his second major after kicking the ball into space inside 50 then working harder than his opponent, got forward and marked, before nailing the set shot from straight in front, His third came late in the game off a quick step with just a few minutes remaining in the game. He could have had a couple more as well, with one bouncing into the behind post from a dribble and consistently putting it deep inside 50 to the damaging positions. Had a nice mark in the second term leaping high.

Western:

#7 Daly Andrews

Tirelessly worked throughout the game despite the overwhelming run that Murray provided. He was a steady head in the midfield and won possessions in each third of the ground, having a quick snap on goal at one stage but it missed to the right. Finished with the couple of behinds but the Jets’ equal highest ball winner through midfield. He had a no-frills approach to his footy, getting the ball both on the inside and outside and pushing hard into defence, then getting it in midfield and putting it inside 50 for his forwards.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Had a big first term, taking a number of intercept marks in defence, including a huge pack mark early, though he did miskick off the boot deep in defence, but was cleaned up. He used the ball well kicking long, and provided a presence around the ground taking numerous marks. He was moved forward in the second half and helped set up a goal to Jono Horo in the third term with a neat kick in-board opening up the game for another teammate. In the final term he used good bodywork one-on-one close to goal midway through the quarter, but could not take the mark, though managed to get a handball away. Won a free kick on the wing late in the game and used a nice weighted kick to a teammate at half-forward.

#24 Josh Honey

The most dangerous forward for the Jets, Honey booted three goals, including his side’s two first half goals. he booted Western’s first with hard running onto a loose ball in front of him to boot it from the goalsquare, then converted late in the second term after winning a free kick 45m out straight in front. He kicked a third, and a consolation goal midway through the last, but he kept trying to take the game on, with a bounce late in the match and a long 60m kick, though an opponent spoiled it away from his teammate. He had a couple of chances for more goals earlier in the game but could not quite put it through the big sticks with limited time and rushed snaps.

#26 Cody Raak

The best on ground for Western with clean work out of defence to rack up rebounds on a string in a defence under siege. With the likes of Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett out of the team, much of the run and carry out of defence was left to Raak and in a game where the Jets were heavily beaten, Raak could hold his head high as a player who played four quarters and kept repelling opposition attacks. A prospect for next year, Raak is a good size and had his best game of the year with eight more touches than his next best, finishing with 24 disposals and 11 rebounds.

#47 Will Kennedy

The overager used all of his strength and ruck nous to dominate the hitouts with another 50-plus hitouts around the ground. Murray did dominate the midfield, and opponent Will Christie was good at ground level, but Kennedy still provided a target around the ground for his teammates. He won plenty of the ball in close and spread to the outside when needed, but was able to set up a scoring opportunity in the second term with a long kick inside 50.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

It is hard to ignore the month of footy that Davies has put together, and he once again proved a standout for Northern. The Knights’ skipper featured consistently throughout with his unmatched reading of the play and sticky hands overhead, while also showing improvement in his use by foot. His first bit of play was a typically strong intercept mark in the first term, and it proved a theme for Davies’ game as he plucked them one-on-one, in packs, and from both in front and behind. His setting up behind the play is what allowed him to do so at such a rate, snapping up everything that came his way backwards of defensive wing. Davies also had a nice moment with ball in hand in the third term, handballing over his shoulder with opponents circling to intelligently find a teammate in space.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was a bit of a quieter game from the small forward/midfielder when compared to his six-goal effort last time out, but he continues to provide value to the Knights line-up. Starting at half-forward once again, D’Intinosante got up the ground well to find the ball early on, but his most effective plays came when charging off the line at centre bounces. His pressure and intent in the tackle was phenomenal, hitting his opponents fairly, but hard. Kicked the one-straight goal, coming from a classy dribbled finish over the back and also had a couple of brave efforts in the air.

#7 Ryan Gardner

It was a steady return from injury for Gardner, who spent a lot of time playing up at half-forward. He started up on a wing though, finding most of his ball on the outer and providing clean use. With his move forward, Gardner led well and showed deceptively strong ability overhead despite not always pulling down the mark. He had most of his touches around the arc, drawing opponents well to flick out handballs and getting involved off the centre bounce.

#23 Nikolas Cox

The bottom-ager has proven a marvel at ground level considering his size, but used all of his height in a more forward-oriented role in this outing. It was a shrewd move, with Cox a nightmare matchup as he marked the ball at its highest point and got good separation on the lead from full forward. He kicked his first of four goals in the first term after a nice clunk close to goal, following up with another set shot conversion on the half-time siren to keep the Knights in touch. After more time up the ground in the third term, Cox returned forward and got on that lead again to find a third goal. Cox’s fourth came differently, showing his athleticism to win a ground ball and snap home a late consolation goal. Plenty to like.

Bendigo:

#2 Jack Hickman

The speedy bottom-ager provided some real spark when running through the midfield, taking the ball at pace and breaking away from congestion. Moving forward, Hickman was a threat with those line-breaking capabilities and got the Pioneers going effectively. Capped a solid day with a goal in the second term as Bendigo broke away to a handy lead, and just does some eye-catching things with his speed and agility.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Had a solid day in the ruck but impressed more with his work at ground level, covering the turf well and getting involved at the drop of the ball. While he didn’t have a massive effect with his marking or crashing of packs, Gundry also looked likely when playing forward and got on the board with a really handy goal in the first term. He read the flight of the ball well, laid a heavy bump on his direct opponent to get him out of the road, gathered the ball and coolly dribbled home into the open goal.

#19 Ben Worme

It was another workmanlike outing from Worme, who was handball-happy in the middle of the ground. He would so often get the ball on the outer of the stoppage, wheel away out the back and dish off to a runner to good effect. The Vic Country representative was also part of the midfield-forward rotation, having a hand in Cooper Smith’s first term goal and getting involved as a half-forward. Worme missed a good chance on goal at the start of the third term as he streamed into the 50 off the back of a handball chain, but made amends in the same term with a lovely long-range snap. Just always manages to find the ball, and is adding strings to his bow.

#22 Josh Treacy

Was again used in a range of roles; starting forward, pinch-hitting in the ruck, and being thrown into a few centre bounces to help combat Northern’s bigger bodies. He still looks most at home up forward though, leading up strongly to centre half-forward and providing a reliable target. Leading from closer to goal in the third term, Treacy took another strong grab inside 50 but was unable to convert the set shot, instead putting through his second chance in the following quarter from a downfield free kick. The versatile big man was also again not afraid to through his weight around, laying hits that bordered on late and tackling hard at the drop of the ball.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Another lively bottom-ager, Ginnivan racked up the possessions in the forward half, providing dangerous run out the back and linking well into Bendigo’s attacking 50. He worked really hard to work back towards goal after getting up the ground and was not afraid to take the game on. Found the goals for the third-straight occasion, booting just the one set shot in the first term but having a hand in a range of Pios attacks.

GWV Rebels vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Seldom does he win mountains of the ball, but Mahony often stands out with his clean hands in the contest. He got on the end of a couple of nice chains early on in what was a steady start to his game, going on to find a couple of nice touches inside 50 in the second term. Mahony took a strong mark from behind inside the arc but sprayed the kick, and found space shortly after but again put the kick out on the full. He continued to find the ball in-close and got his hands up smartly in tackles while trying to burst through, doing so to good effect a heap of times in the second half.

#7 Mitch Martin

The classy midfield mover was particularly deft in his use by hand, flicking out a couple of eye-catching look-aways to teammates in acres of space after drawing an opponent. His agility and smarts on the ball also shone through, getting boot to ball quickly at the stoppages to clear, while also zipping through traffic and kicking neatly after gathering on the half volley. He capitalised one one of two chances in the second term to hit the scoreboard, first missing a set shot after a 50m penalty but rectifying it with a fantastic crumb and quickfire shot from close range. Capped his game with a fantastic pass inside 50 to Nick Caris from near-on the centre circle.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was back to his ball-winning best in this outing, leading all comers in a dominant display from midfield. Rantall’s initial work was done at the stoppages, chaining handballs and getting some forward run going, while working hard around the ground in general play to find the ball just about everywhere between the arcs on the back of his enormous endurance base. While he did not always have that typical damage and drive in his disposals, Rantall was a class above with his vision from the contest and direction of play in the back half. Rightly earned a National Combine invite and should show off his quality athletic traits.

#14 Liam Herbert

Assumed his usual role of accumulating on the outside and delivered neatly by foot on a few occasions. He missed a couple of early chances to find the goals; first getting on the end of a bad Calder turnover to mark inside 50 but missing the shot, and then intercepting again but missing the lot with his quick snap opportunity. Herbert went on to work hard to find space up either end and provide a key link along the outer, and would be buoyed by his forward impact.

#32 Harry Sharp

The bottom-ager popped up very early on very an electric goal to get the Rebels going, and went on to provide plenty of spark from the wing. Sharp gathered the ball over the back inside 50 and put the foot down to burn an opponent behind him, round one in front of him and snap home an eye-catching goal. He looked dangerous when breaking forward, undeterred by a couple of fumbles when attempting to take the game on. Sharp added to his goal tally with a clever steal and snap through two or three opponents, finishing into the open goal.

#41 Fraser Marris

Marris was another bottom-ager to stand up for the Rebels, showing a happy knack for finding the ball both up the ground and closer to home from his forward starting position. He just so often found separation on the lead working up to the wing, presenting well and using the ball well by foot to link forward. He couldn’t quite take a couple of chances on goal afforded to him, missing a set shot from a downfield free kick in the first term and later missing a snap in the third term. Still had a good impact, especially in the opening stages, and works hard.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Vic Country U16 representative is impressively mobile for a tall, showing off his best traits in both the ruck and up forward. Undeterred by the more mature bodies of his opponents, Rentsch did well to grab the ball out of the ruck on a few separate occasions and boot forward, while standing up well in the contest. Rentsch worked to get to contests around the ground and presented up from the forward 50. Made a nice pass inside 50 to Liam Herbert on his left foot in the second term, doing things that not many big-men can. Wasn’t quite able to hit the scoreboard, spraying a set shot out on the full but getting in good positions to score.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Again played more of an extractor role from midfield, handing out to his runners at the stoppages and not being afforded the time and space to get going. He competed well despite being a little quiet to start off, eventually clicking into gear and clearing a few balls by foot from traffic to go inside 50. Mott also showed a willingness to tackle, doing so well at a defensive 50 stoppage in the third term and showing a different side to his game.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

He might only be a bottom-ager, but Cardillo keeps on providing good grunt in the engine room, battling hard to break tackles and applying his own with force throughout the day. He was a little down on some of his recent numbers but still popped up with a few nice touches around the ground – marking strongly on forward wing in the fourth quarter and later faking a set shot to find Sam Ramsay a little further inside attacking 50.

#8 Sam Ramsay

It was another best-on display from Ramsay, who is pretty easy on the eye in full flight. Time and again he found space breaking away from the stoppage, reading the play well to either break forward and receive over the top, or scoot out the back and wheel around onto his left side. Ramsay is hard to stop when he gets on his bike, ending his quick bursts with long raking kicks. While he did so often enough to have an effect, Ramsay could perhaps benefit from mixing up his ball use, with some of his long kicks either cut off or to no one in particular. It is still an effective way to put the opposition defenders under pressure, and Ramsay was simply a magnet to the ball. Has put together a fantastic last month after missing Metro selection, and is doing all the right things.

#38 Brodie Newman

Started to get back to his best in this outing, putting in a more attacking effort in his time down back and proving effective when thrown forward. He started with a daring kick into the corridor in the first quarter and provided a solid kick-in target across the opening half. After the main break, Newman swung forward and got involved straight away with a lead-up mark from a centre bounce clearance. Leading up once more, Newman wheeled around in the centre square, took a bounce and launched long to assist Samuel Paea’s goal in the third term in a great bit of play. He continued to present well and proved too strong for many of his opponents, combining it with good movement at the drop of the ball.

#44 Harrison Andronaco

Kept his spot after a decent showing on debut last time out, and worked into the game well this time around. The 16-year-old did not lay many tackles but made them count, locking the ball in well and earning a holding-the-ball free kick in the third term. His carving forward runs looked dangerous, using subtle signals to fake-out opponents and afford himself that bit of time and space. Ended with 1.2; missing his first shot with a quick snap from congestion and another in the final term, but slotting home late in the third quarter after a clever stop and prop inside 50.

#45 Flynn Gentile

Has been a decent contributor in his three games thus far and just seems to find the ball with ease. Most of Gentile’s work was done on the outside, drawing opponents well when handing off and getting busy in general play with some forward drive. While his kicking wasn’t always sharp, Gentile made a couple of neat passes throughout – including one to find Brodie Newman inside 50 late on. One of a few Cannons 16-year-olds to keep an eye on.