Tag: nathan freeman

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL – Round 3

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season rolled on into its third round over the weekend, with 1 fixtures spread from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 3 action, as AFL-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS: State League wrap

Usual forward Jake Riccardi swung into defence for GWS on Sunday and had a blinder, seeing him top the league for kicks and marks in Round 3. The 21-year-old racked up 40 disposals, with 31 of them delivered by foot and 19 earned via marks. His dynamic performance helped the Giants to a 30-point win over Southport, their first for the season.

It was no surprise to see Coburg ball magnet Marcus Lentini again tick over the 40-disposal mark, this time managing 42 against Brisbane in what was a battle of the Lions. The mid-season draft hopeful was just pipped atop the handball charts on the weekend by Gold Coast’s Will Brodie, who dished out 22 in the Suns’ narrow loss to Collingwood. In the same game, first year Magpie Reef McInnes got his hands dirty with a round-high 11 tackles.

Elsewhere, competition leading goalkicker Matt Hammelmann upped his season average (5.3) with a bag of six majors as Aspley went down to Frankston. The effort accounted for over half of the Hornets’ score, brining Hammelmann’s season tally to 16 after three games. Western Bulldogs ruck Jordon Sweet also excelled in his field, feasting to win 38 hitouts against inexperienced Northern Bullants’ talls.

Looking at the season leaders, Frankston jet Nathan Freeman has served a reminder of his class in 2021 with a clean run, topping the league for disposals and kicks. Jacob Dawson is another former AFL player finding plenty of ball, distributing more than any other player thus far by hand. Hammelmann and Casey’s James Munro are the other state leaguers topping charts, while AFL-listed bigmen Connor Ballenden and Ned Reeves have the most marks and hitouts respectively.

Find the full list of Round 3, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 3 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 42

Kicks:
Jake Riccardi* (GWS) – 31

Handballs:
Will Brodie* (Gold Coast) – 22

Goals:
Matt Hammelmann** (Aspley) – 6

Marks:
Jake Riccardi* (GWS) – 19

Tackles:
Reef McInnes* (Collingwood) – 11

Hitouts:
Jordon Sweet* (Footscray) – 38

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 117 total / 39.0 average

Kicks:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 78 / 26.0

Handballs:
Jacob Dawson (Southport) – 56 / 18.7

Goals:
Matt Hammelmann (Aspley) – 16 / 5.3

Marks:
Connor Ballenden* (Brisbane) – 34 / 11.3

Tackles:
James Munro (Casey) – 28 / 9.3

Hitouts:
Ned Reeves* (Box Hill) – 118 / 39.3

* – denotes AFL-listed.
** – denotes season leader.

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2021 VFL Round 2 review: Southport wins battle of Queensland standalones

SOUTHPORT Sharks have overcome inaccuracy to post a 14-point victory over Aspley Hornets in the battle of the Queensland standalone teams at Fankhauser Reserve. Both sides won their respective Round 1 Victorian Football League (VFL) matches, so were coming in with good form. Despite having 19 more scoring shots throughout the match, the Sharks were only able to just get across the line, 14.25 (109) to 15.5 (95) as the visitors never stopped pushing the home team.

The match started with Aspley’s Matt Hammelmann on absolute fire. He booted two goals in the first six minutes, then converted a third midway through the term, for the Hornets to lead 3.1 (19) to 1.3 (9), as Jesse Joyce was the sole goalkicker for the home side. After a couple of other misses late in the term – Billy Gowers being the main suspect with three behinds – back-to-back goals to Round 1 hero Lukas Webb, as well as Ryan Gilmore, handed the Sharks a five-point lead at the first break.

The Sharks dominated the second quarter from the get-go as Brayden Crossley, and Gilmore contributed to a couple of behinds before Crossley bagged his first major, and Gowers got his first from his fourth scoring shot. By the midway mark of the second term, the Sharks were out to a 22-point lead, but already missed chances were keeping the Hornets in the game. Against the flow of play, Ben Warren and Ryan Banks-Smith slotted majors for the Hornets, and it was clear the visitors were going to capitalise on their chances.

In the final 15 minutes of the term, a flurry of action saw the Sharks extend their lead a little more, despite three straight behinds in the final couple of minutes. Crossley and Gowers both booted their second goals prior to that, with Thomas Baulch snagging one back for the visitors. At the main break, the Sharks had 22 scoring shots to nine, but only one more goal for an 18-point lead.

Desperate to capitalise on forward half possession, the Sharks had a goal in the opening three minutes going to Michael Manteit, which was countered by Ryan Bastinac of the Hornets. Three more minor scores down the Sharks’ end – including a couple of rushed behinds – were worrying, but Rhys King and Gowers ensured they did get some bang for their buck. They needed someone to try and contain Hammelmann however, as the ex-Brisbane forward was dominating with another three goals – taking his match total to five by the final break. For all the back-and-forth, the margin was once again 18 points at the last change.

The home fans really started to get nervous in the final term despite kicking the first two goals of the quarter through Gowers and Nutting to stretch the lead out to 30 points. Just when they looked to run away with it, the Hornets kicked five of the next six goals – including Cody Stackelberg matching Hammelmann’s three consecutive majors – which cut the deficit to within a kick. With seven minutes on the clock, the game was well and truly alive. Luckily for the Sharks, King came to the rescue to kick a steadier, and from there the home team held on for the victory, 14.25 (109) to 15.5 (95).

Gowers finished with a massive 5.5 from 17 disposals and six marks, leading the way for the winners, as Crossley and King both booted two goals, while Webb (25 touches), Joyce (23) and Manteit (20) all found plenty of the ball and each snagged a major. Jacob Dawson feasted around the ground on his way to 34 disposals, while Fraser Thurlow had 29 hitouts from 19 touches. Despite playing in a losing side, Hammelmann snagged six goals from 11 touches and seven marks, with Stackelberg’s three coming from 14 disposals and four marks. Baulch (25 disposals, two goals), Jack Rolls (22 and one) and Bastinac (19 and one) all worked hard to also hit the scoreboard, as ex-AFL talents Jacob Allison (30 disposals) and Corey Lyons (26) led the disposals.

It was a mixed back of results for the other Queensland sides, with Gold Coast Suns claiming a 14-point win over Sydney Swans, whilst the Brisbane Lions suffered a heavy 69-point loss to Carlton. Dylan Stephens (32 disposals, seven marks and five tackles), Sam Gray (31 disposals, six marks and five tackles) and Ryan Clarke (30 disposals, eight marks) all put their hand up for a Swans recall, whilst youngster Sam Thorne slotted three goals, as did Joel Amartey. For the Suns, Will Bella slotted three goals form 10 touches and five marks to be a standout Academy prospect, with Malcolm Rosas (18 disposals, two goals) and Will Brodie (31 disposals, two goals) among the top AFL-listed players. For the Lions, Tom Fullarton had a day out with 34 touches and 18 hitouts through the ruck, while Rhys Mathieson kicked four goals from 18 disposals in a half. The Blues had an even set of contributors led by Will Setterfield (25 disposals, seven marks and 10 tackles) and Paddy Dow (20 disposals, six tackles) through the midfield, whilst Ben Crocker and James Parsons combined for a whopping 12 goals in the win.

Western Bulldogs handed GWS GIANTS their second loss of the season, as last year’s number one draft pick, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan slotted five goalswer to be amongst six multiple goalkickers for the Dogs in the huge 21.9 (135) to 10.3 (63) victory. Mitch Hannan (three goals), Rhylee West (three and 25 touches, seven marks and five tackles) and Louis Butler (two and 20 touches, six marks and three tackles) were all huge, while teenager Dominic Bedendo (nine disposals, five marks and two goals) also looked dangerous for the Dogs. Jesse Hogan continued his good return to form with four goals from 14 touches and 11 marks for the Giants, while Will Shaw (two goals) and James Peatling (23 disposals, six marks) and Josh Green (21 disposals, three marks and four tackles) were among the top ball-winners.

Meanwhile, Port Melbourne and Williamson enjoyed wins against Sandringham and Werribee respectively. Nash Holmes (28 disposals, six marks and five tackles), Tom O’Sullivan (28 disposals, eight marks), Eli Templeton (25 disposals, 13 marks and two goals) and Isaac Conway (24 disposals, four marks, five tackles and two goals) all dominated for the Borough, while Luke Dunstan had the ball on a string for the Zebras, collecting 46 disposals. Ryan Byrnes (25 disposals, five marks) and Leo Connolly (19 disposals, four marks) were other St Kilda-listed talents who stood out. Mitch Hibberd was again lively for the Seagulls with 23 disposals and eight tackles, leading the way from Liam Hunt (20 disposals) and Jack Toner (16 disposals, eight marks), while Tom Downie had a great battle with Matthew Lobbe, collecting 35 hitouts from 12 disposals. Lobbe had 37 and 12, while Matthew Hanson (25 disposals, six tackles), Shaun Mannagh (24 disposals, four tackles) and Tom Gribble (22 disposals, four tackles) were also big ball-winners.

In other results, Frankston Dolphins dominated North Melbourne on their way to another win, getting up 16.8 (104) to 5.9 (39). Tyler Roos and Nathan Freeman shared in a lazy 85 disposals and 20 marks between them for opposite sides through the midfield, while Bailey Lambert (five goals), Jack Mentha (three) and Will Fordham (24 disposals, two goals) were also damaging on the scoreboard for the Dolphins. Will Walker (23 disposals, 11 marks) Harry Jones (21 disposals, eight marks) and Flynn Appleby (20 disposals, 11 marks) supported Roos in the heavy loss. Another standalone side Northern Bullants was not as fortunate against Hawthorn at Box Hill City Oval, with the visitors going down by 56 points after being level at quarter time. Emerson Jeka slotted five goals from 20 disposals and nine marks in a dominant display up forward, while Fergus Greene (14 disposals, three goals) and Keegan Brooksby (13 disposals, 24 hitouts and two goals) were also good. Ned Reeves had a casual 54 hitouts to go with 16 touches and a goal as well. for the Bullants, Tynan Smith kicked three majors from 16 touches, as Tom Wilson (26 disposals, 10 marks) and Paul Ahern (23 disposals, one goal) were among the best.

In the final two games, Casey Demons recorded a big 13.18 (96) to 5.7 (37) victory over Richmond, while Essendon won the Anzac Day eve battle with Collingwood, 12.13 (85) to 6.14 (50). It was a good day for the red heads, as Jake Bowey (26 disposals, five marks) and Oskar Baker (24 disposals five marks) both impressed, while Neville Jetta was strong with 23 touches, and Ben Brown (four goals) and Sam Weideman (three) stepped up in front of goal again. For the Tigers, Mabior Chol was the only multiple goalkicker with two, as Pat Naish (28 disposals, five marks) and Callum Coleman-Jones (18 disposals, nine marks and 29 hitouts) worked hard through the four quarters. Tom Cutler (27 disposals, seven marks and three goals) was outstanding for the Bombers, while Ned Cahill (21 disposals, five marks and six tackles), Angus Baker (21 disposals, five marks) and Josh Tynan (21 disposals, five marks) were also solid. For the Magpies, youngster Caleb Poulter racked up 27 touches, three marks and three tackles to put his hand up for an AFL debut, as Reef McInnes (17 disposals, four tackles) and Tom Wilson (20 touches, seven marks) were also impressive. Next-Generation Academy member Youseph Dib finished with 11 disposals, tow marks and eight tackles in a solid display.

VFL ROUND 2 RESULTS:

GWS GIANTS 10.3 (63) def. by Western Bulldogs 21.9 (135)
Gold Coast Suns 14.11 (95) def. Sydney 12.9 (81)
Carlton 24.10 (154) def. Brisbane 13.7 (85)
Southport 14.25 (109) def. Aspley 15.5 (95)
North Melbourne 5.9 (39) def. by Frankston 16.8 (104)
Collingwood 6.14 (50) def. by Essendon 12.13 (85)
Hawthorn 17.10 (112) def. Northern Bullants 8.8 (56)
Richmond 5.7 (37) def. by Casey Demons 13.18 (96)
Port Melbourne 13.14 (92) def. Sandringham 9.12 (66)
Werribee 7.11 (53) def. by Williamstown 9.10 (64)

Picture credit: RF Photography

2021 VFL Round 1 review: Queensland teams make their mark

A NEW era and a new competition full of surprises saw a number of clubs from New South Wales and Queensland join the still rather oddly-named Victorian Football League (VFL), and the majority came away with the points. The four AFL-aligned clubs in the two northern states on the east coast joined the competition, with standalone teams, Aspley Hornets and Southport Sharks also joining the fold, as did the Northern Bullants who returned to the competition. With 11 games played every weekend in the new 22-team competition, the competitiveness to finish inside the top eight has never been greater.

The match of the round was easily Southport’s come-from-behind win over Carlton at Ikon Park on Saturday. The Blues raced out of the blocks to pile on six goals to two in the opening term and lead by 26 points at quarter time. The Sharks began to claw their way back in the second, kicking five goals to four to draw to within 19 points at the main break, but the Blues seemed to keep them at arms-length. Carlton kicked 4.6 to 4.0 in the premiership quarter to again extend out to 25 points with a quarter to play, but the visitors were not done with just yet. Connor Nutting kicked two goals in the opening six minutes, and by the time Jacob Dawson had converted a major, the deficit was back in the single digits midway through the term, Lukas Webb brought it back to two points a few minutes later, and after Dawson levelled the score with a behind in the 20th minute, many thought it could be the competition’s first draw.

AFL-listed youngster Lochie O’Brien had other ideas, converting a goal in the 25th minute, and when Matt Shannon kicked a major at 26:38 on the clock, it appeared the Sharks had fought gallantly, but would not be able to comeback from a 12-point deficit, The last eight minutes of the term saw the Sharks relentlessly attacking, and forcing a rushed behind, which would prove ultimately important in the end result. Fraser Thurlow kicked a major in red time, and then it was just five points in it. The former AFL-contingent at the Queensland club had stepped up throughout the game, and indeed it would be Webb who would be the man of the moment, kicking a match-winning major in the last minute to seal the game. At one point, the deficit had got out to as much as 31 points, but the visitors had kept believing, and stunned the home side, 17.7 (109) to 16.12 (108).

Whilst he might not have kicked one in the final term, ex-Bulldog Billy Gowers had a day out with five goals from seven scoring shots, 15 disposals and six marks. Thurlow absolutely dominated the ruck for the Sharks, notching up 49 hitouts, but then going forward to slot three goals and take eight marks from 12 touches. Nutting, a former Gold Coast Academy talent kicked the three goals from 11 touches, while Webb’s two goals in the final term added to his 24 touches, five marks and four tackles. Andrew Boston (27 disposals, 11 tackles), Dawson (26 disposals, seven tackles and one goal), Jesse Joyce (23 disposals, four marks, three tackles and a goal) and Michael Manteit (21 disposals, five marks, two tackles and a goal) were among the other top ball winners.

Despite the loss, Liam Stocker practically kicked down the door for AFL selection with a whopping 38-disposal and 13-mark game, as David Cuningham (28 disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal), Sam Ramsay (22 disposals, seven marks and five tackles) and O’Brien (21 disposals, six marks and a goal) also found plenty of the footy. Matthew Owies kicked a straight four goals from 12 touches, six marks and four tackles, while ex-Pie and Crow Ben Crocker slotted 2.3 from 11 touches and five marks up forward. Another ex-AFL listed talent in Toby Wooller returned to Victoria from Queensland to kick 1.2 from 16 disposals, six marks, eight tackles and have six hitouts tor the Blues.

Fellow standalone Queensland side Aspley Hornets also sent a message to the rest of the competition with an absolute belting of one of Victoria’s proudest clubs Port Melbourne. The Hornets blew the Borough away in the opening term with a 10 goal to two first quarter, and whilst the visitors managed to get back to within 43 points at the final break with six goals to two over the next two quarters, the damage was done and the Hornets booted six last quarter goals to win 20.13 (133) to 12.8 (80). Ryan Bastinac was ridiculous with 39 touches, four marks, six tackles and three goals, with Matthew Payne (28 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and two goals), Corey Lyons (27 disposals, five marks and one goal) and Matthew Hammelmann (11 disposals, eight marks and 4.4) among the dominant players for the Hornets. Harvey Hooper (27 disposals, four marks and two tackles) tried hard for the Borough, while Anthony Anastasio and Matthew Signorello both slotted three goals apiece.

Also in the Sunshine State, Brisbane Lions reserves knocked off Essendon’s reserves in a 66-point belting at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex. Rhys Mathieson did his chances of a recall no harm thanks to a lazy 34 touches, eight marks and two goals, while Connor Ballenden (31 disposals, 15 marks and one goal) and Keidean Coleman (29 disposals, nine marks, three tackles and two goals) were also up there with the best for the Lions. First-year player Carter Michael showed he has the capacity to match it at senior level, amassing an impressive 25 touches on debut. Ex-Lion Tom Cutler had a team-high 29 disposals and 10 marks for the Bombers, while Nick Bryan racked up 34 hitouts, five marks and three tackles to show off his around-the-ground work with 27 touches.

The only Queensland team to suffer defeat in the opening round of the VFL was Gold Coast Suns, going down by 67 points to a red-hot Western Bulldogs outfit. The Bulldogs kicked 10 goals to three in the opening half to set up the win, restricting the Suns to just 12 scoring shots as the home team won, 16.13 (109) to 6.6 (42). The potent tall forward combination of Josh Schache (19 disposals, 12 marks and 5.4) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (12 disposals, 2.1) was the issue for the Suns, though father-son talent Ryley West was one of nine individual scorers, picking up 22 disposals, five marks and four disposals in the process. Will Hayes (29 disposals, 11 marks), Riley Garcia (24 disposals, three marks and nine tackles), Lin Jong (24 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and a goal) and Buku Khamis (21 disposals, 11 marks) were other AFL-listed Dogs impressing. For the Suns, Brayden Fiorini (31 disposals, 11 marks and six tackles) and Will Brodie (30 disposals, 10 marks and six tackles) had days out, while talented AFL Academy member Austin Harris kicked two goals from six touches, two marks and three tackles.

In the all-New South Wales battle, Sydney Swans emerged victorious of the GWS GIANTS, booting 12 goals to seven after quarter time to record a 15.6 (96) to 10.10 (70) victory. Colin O’Riordan had 32 disposals and 14 marks, as other Swans-listed talents in Lewis Taylor (32 disposals, eight marks and one goal) and Ryan Clarke (31 disposals, eight marks and four tackles) both racked up the ball with ease. Hayden McLean and Harry Morrison slotted three majors apiece, whilst Paddy McCartin returned to the field to have 19 disposals and nine marks in a promising return. Teenage talents, Sam Thorne (13 disposals, six marks and a goal) and Marc Sheather (10 disposals, three tackles and a goal) also gained some important experience. For the GIANTS, Alex Smout racked up 33 disposals, as Tanner Bruhn showed his AFL debut cannot be too far away with 27 touches and two goals. Josh Green, brother of GIANTS’ Tom stepped up to have 21 touches, as AFL Academy member Josh Fahey had the nine disposals, three marks and three tackles in the loss.

In a couple of the more memorable matches for the VFL, two all-standalone Victorian clashes saw Frankston Dolphins and Williamstown Seagulls win easily against Coburg Lions and Northern Bullants respectively. The Dolphins, led by ex-Bomber Josh Begley (six goals), and ex-Pie and Saint Nathan Freeman (40 disposals), proved too strong for the Lions. Coburg’s Marcus Lentini suffered leather poisoning himself, matching Freeman with a whopping 40 disposals and slotting a goal. Josh D’Intinosante and Mitch Podhajski both slotted three goals in defeat. For the Seagulls, they booted seven goals to one in the first half to set up the victory against the Bullants, as Jake Greiser (29 disposals, eight marks and one goals), Mitch Hibberd (29 disposals, five marks and one goal) and Liam Hunt (29 disposals, one goal) ran rampant. Joel Ottavi slotted four goals from eight scoring shots, while ex-Crow Jordan Gallucci slammed home three goals from 21 touches and six marks. For the Bullants, Tom Wilson had the most touches with 25 and six marks, while ex-GIANT and Roo Paul Ahern had 23 disposals, four marks, four tackles and kicked a goal.

Pies fans had something to smile about over the weekend, with a hard-fought seven-point win over Werribee, 10.9 (69) to 9.8 (62). Second year talent Jay Rantall put his hand up to return to an injury-depleted AFL lineup with 28 disposals, five marks and six tackles, while Tyler Brown (22 disposals), Caleb Poulter (18 disposals, seven marks and a goal) and Ollie Henry (11 disposals, seven marks and two goals) were among the young Pies to make an impact. Ex-Cat Wylie Buzza slotted four goals from 10 touches and four marks, as Tom Gribble (30 disposals, nine marks and five tackles) and Matthew Hanson (28 disposals, four marks and three tackles) did their thing. It was a much more one-sided contest for Richmond’s 40-point win over Sandringham Zebras, as the Tigers piled on 10 goals to three in the first three quarters to lead by 47 points at the final break, before the Zebras cut the deficit back rallying in the final term. Samson Ryan kicked three goals up forward, as Callum Coleman-Jones (22 disposals, six marks, 13 hitouts, four tackles and two goals) found plenty of the football. Jack Ross (34 disposals), Pat Naish (33) and Riley Collier-Dawkins (31) all easily dominated proceedings, whilst for the Zebras, Shaun McKernan was outstanding with 23 disposals, 10 marks, 11 hitouts, four goals and four tackles, while Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals, eight marks and a goal) and Oscar Clavarino (20 disposals, 14 marks) were among the St Kilda-listed talents to impress.

The two Sunday clashes between AFL-aligned clubs resulted in the Casey Demons getting a comfortable 41-point victory over Hawthorn at Box Hill, while Geelong posted a whopping 79-point thrashing over North Melbourne to sit at the top of the VFL ladder. Kade Chandler (25 disposals, 10 marks and a goal), Neville Jetta (25 disposals, 10 marks) and Aaron Vandenberg (25 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and a goal) were busy around the ground, whilst Ben Brown‘s debut in the red and blue (18 disposals, six marks and three goals) was overshadowed by a monstrous performance from Sam Weideman (16 disposals, seven marks and 7.2). Developing Hawk tall Emerson Jeka was one of three in the brown and gold to slot three majors in the loss, while Lachlan Bramble (20 disposals, eight tackles) and Michael Hartley (20 disposals) were among the Hawthorn-listed players to impress. For the Cats, Zach Guthrie had a day out with 27 disposals and 11 marks, as Charlie Constable (26 touches) and Oscar Brownless (24) pressed their cases for a call-up. Josh Jenkins and Ben Jarvis both slotted four goals apiece in the massive win, as two of eight individual goalkickers. Former Bushranger and Hawk’ Mat Walker had three goals from six scoring shots, as well as 16 touches and 10 marks in a dirty day for the Roos, while Dom Tyson (29 touches), Harry Jones (23) and Will Walker (20) tried hard.

VFL ROUND 1 RESULTS:

Richmond 13.17 (95) defeated Sandringham 7.13 (55)
Frankston 20.6 (126) defeated Coburg 14.12 (96)
Western Bulldogs 16.13 (109) defeated Gold Coast Suns 6.6 (42)
Brisbane Lions 15.14 (104) defeated Essendon 5.8 (38)
Sydney Swans 15.6 (96) defeated GWS GIANTS 10.10 (70)
Aspley 20.13 (133) defeated Port Melbourne 12.8 (80)
Carlton 16.12 (108) lost to Southport 17.7 (109)
Werribee 9.8 (62) lost to Collingwood 10.9 (69)
Hawthorn 10.7 (67) lost to Casey Demons 17.16 (118)
Geelong 18.15 (123) defeated North Melbourne 6.8 (44)
Northern Bullants 6.11 (47) lost to Williamstown 14.15 (99)

Picture credit: Southport Sharks Twitter

VFL weekly wrap: Bombers move into second with big percentage boost

ESSENDON defeated Port Melbourne by 69 points to move into second place on the Victorian Football League (VFL) ladder, closing the gap on Richmond, while reigning premiers Box Hill returned to the winners list with a big win over Sandringham.

Geelong 19.13 (127) defeated Frankston 5.8 (38)

The Cats brought Frankston back down to earth after their first win of the season last week with a thumping 89-point win. Geelong set the tone early, kicking eight goals to two in the opening term and never allowing the Dolphins free use of the footy. Wylie Buzza, Jamaine Jones and Aaron Black kicked 3 goals each for the home side while Alex Harnett slotted 2 for Frankston. Charlie Constable and Nathan Freeman split most disposals with 33 each as Scott Selwood collected 32. Geelong take on the Northern Blues at Ikon Park this week while Frankston host Coburg.

Box Hill 12.11 (83) defeated Sandringham 6.10 (46)

Box Hill are back in the top eight following a 37-point win over Sandringham. The Zebras held the lead early in the first term before the former Mustangs kicked in the second quarter and eased to victory. James Cousins had 30 disposals for the Hawks and Darragh Joyce with 21 for Sandy, while Oliver Hanrahan kicked four goals. Box Hill travel to Casey Fields to take on the Demons as Sandringham host top-of-the-table Richmond this Saturday.

Footscray 8.10 (58) defeated by Collingwood 12.9 (81)

Collingwood recorded just their third win of the season with a come-from-behind 23-point victory at the Whitten Oval. The momentum swings in the match were obvious, with the Bulldogs holding a one-point lead at the final break. The Magpies then kicked away with a five goals to one final term ensuring they picked up the four points. Andrew Gallucci slotted three goals for the away side as Alex Woodward collected 38 disposals. Former number 6 draft pick Matthew Scharenberg pushed his case for an AFL call-up with 33 touches. Collingwood host North Melbourne at Victoria Park on Saturday while Footscray face Port Melbourne away.

Coburg 8.2 (50) defeated by Casey 9.11 (65)

A week of upheaval at Casey has ended positively, with a 15-point win over Coburg. New coach Sam Radford engineered a victory, although the Demons might feel they should’ve won by a lot more. Coburg had a two-point lead at quarter-time before Casey took charge, holding the home side scoreless while kicking 4 goals of their own. From then on the two sides traded goals, with the margin remaining between 20-30 points right up until the trend was broken and Coburg kicked the final goal of the match. Jordan Lewis dominated with 39 disposals while Marcus Lentini continued his good form with 37. Steven Stroobants and Peter McEvoy kicked three goals each while Casey had all individual goalkickers. The Demons host Box Hill on Saturday while Coburg travel to Frankston on Sunday.

Werribee 14.11 (95) defeated by Williamstown 16.7 (103)

The Tigers almost came from behind to steal victory from the Seagulls at Avalon Airport Oval. Williamstown dominated the game from the first bounce with a lead as large as 37 points midway through the third term, but allowed Werribee to creep back into the contest in the final term, only for the Tigers to fall short by eight points after coming within two points. Matthew Munro booted five goals for the Tigers while Michael Barlow had another 37 disposals and one-goal game. Mitchell Hibberd was best for the away side with 29 touches. Werribee take on Essendon at home on Sunday while Williamstown have the bye.

Port Melbourne 9.5 (59) defeated by Essendon 18.20 (128)

A huge third-quarter cemented the Bombers as one of the teams to beat in the VFL this season as they easily overcame a highly-fancied Port Melbourne at North Port Oval. Essendon booted eight goals to three in that third term and eventually ran away 69-point victors. Will Snelling was best afield for the Dons with three goals and 28 disposals while Port’s Shannen Lange kicked two and had 34 touches. Aaron Francis booted four goals for the Bombers. Essendon face Werribee this Sunday while Port take on Footscray on Saturday.

Bye – North Melbourne, Northern Blues, Richmond

Picture: VFL.com.au

VFL weekly wrap: Magpies suffer again as Seagulls soar

COLLINGWOOD suffered another heavy loss in Round 10 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) falling to Casey, while Williamstown took advantage of the bye for Essendon and moved to second place on the ladder.

Richmond 13.8 (86) defeated Geelong 9.9 (63)

The Tigers returned to the winners list with a 23-point victory over the Cats at Punt Rd. Eager to prove last week was merely an anomaly, Richmond took the lead nearing quarter time and didn’t let go of it. Geelong only trailed by five points at the final break but couldn’t make up the difference in the last quarter, with Richmond finishing strong. Luke Nelson kicked four goals for the Tigers while Nathan Kreuger slotted three for Geelong. Charlie Constable and Fraser Turner each kicked a goal and had 26 disposals while Shai Bolton finished with 25 touches. Richmond face Coburg this weekend while Geelong have the bye.

Williamstown 19.9 (123) defeated North Melbourne 10.10 (70)

North Melbourne couldn’t continue the form from their win over the Tigers as they were trounced by the Seagulls away from home. It was Williamstown’s eight goal to four second term that set the tone, and they eventually went on to win by 53 points. Nick Rodda booted four goals while Joel Ottavi snagged three and new Roo Lachie Hosie kicked two for his side. Mitch Hibberd was best afield with 29 disposals and two goals. Williamstown take on Port Melbourne in the classic rivalry this Sunday while North Melbourne travel to Frankston.

Northern Blues 14.15 (99) defeated Coburg 13.4 (82)

A spirited fightback from the Lions was not enough to take home the four points against the Norther Blues. Wearing the traditional Preston red and white, the Blues had a lead as big as 52 points in the final term before Coburg put some good footy together to narrow it to just 17 by the final siren. The two sides were separated by just four points at the main break before the Blues switched on and kicked four goals to one in the third term. Marcus Lentini had a mammoth 42 disposals for the Lions, with Carlton’s Matthew Kennedy the next best on 30. Hedley Smith kicked five goals on debut while Andrew Phillips slotted three. The Blues return to Ikon Park to play Footscray on Saturday while Coburg take on Richmond in Beaconsfield.

Frankston 5.13 (43) defeated by Port Melbourne 17.14 (116)

It was another long Sunday for Frankston supporters as their side fell to Port Melbourne by 73 points. Again, it was a tale of two halves for the Dolphins, as they enjoyed an impressive second term, even taking the lead at one stage. From then on they seemed to fall off a cliff as the Borough romped home, restricting Frankston to just one second half goal. Tom O’Sullivan and Ethan Phillips each kicked three goals. Josh Newman, Nathan Freeman and Will Fordham kept Frankston afloat with 32, 31, and 29 disposals respectively while Eli Templeton had 31 touches for Port. Frankston take on North Melbourne at home while Port host Williamstown this weekend.

Casey 15.12 (102) defeated Collingwood 6.3 (39)

Matthew Scharenberg getting through the match uninjured was one of the few highlights for Collingwood as they never looked in the contest at Casey Fields. The Demons lead comfortably at every break, eventually winning by 63 points. Alex Woodward collected his usual 32 disposals while Jordan Lewis had 30 touches as he attempts to force his way back into the Melbourne lineup. Kyle Dunkley and Mitch White each kicked three goals for the home side. Both sides have the bye this weekend.

Bye – Werribee, Essendon, Footscray, Sandringham, Box Hill

Pic: NMFC.com.au

Photo: VFL

VFL weekly wrap: Port returns home in style

GEELONG, Port Melbourne, Sandringham, and Coburg all won their first games of the season in Round 3 of the Victorian Football League (VFL), as Essendon claimed top spot despite having played a game less than half of the competition.

North Melbourne 5.10 (40) defeated by Essendon 20.14 (134)

The horror start to the season for North Melbourne continued as they were thrashed by the Bombers at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday. While the first term was relatively even, Essendon took full control in the second quarter and never looked back, kicking seven goals to two. Jayden Laverde slammed home six goals from 19 disposals in an encouraging performance, while Trent Mynott racked up 25 disposals and slotted two goals. Dan Robinson continued his good form for the Kangaroos with 29 disposals as Nathan Hrovat chimed in with 28 touches.

Werribee 12.9 (81) defeated by Geelong 12.12 (84)

The double header at Avalon Airport Oval continued with the battle of the west. Geelong managed to sneak home despite a last-quarter comeback by the Tigers, who nearly snatched the win after kicking five goals to one in the final term. Darcy Fort kicked three goals for the Cats while Jake Riccardi managed three for the home side. Werribee’s Tom Gribble notched up 31 disposals and James Parsons won the most footy for Geelong with 26 touches.

Collingwood 11.11 (77) defeated by Northern Blues 11.14 (80)

Josh Fraser again returned to Victoria Park as coach to haunt his old side as the Blues came from behind to defeat arch-rivals, Collingwood. The Magpies had a slight ascendency at every break, however, they couldn’t hold on in the final term as Patrick Kerr’s third goal of the day sealed the four points for the Blues. Matthew Kennedy put a bad week behind him to register 22 disposals, while Rupert Wills and Alex Woodward were on fire for the Pies, with 32 and 31 respectively. Tim Broomhead kicked three goals for the Pies while Daniel Wells managed two.

Port Melbourne 12.17 (89) defeated Box Hill 8.17 (65)

On their return to Adcon Stadium, the Borough stunned last years’ premiers Box Hill to hand the Hawks their first loss of the season. Port Melbourne flew out of the blocks, kicking five goals to one in the opening term, and never looked back. Dylan Conway and Tom O’Sullivan both kicked three goals for the home side, while Ben Jolley recorded 25 disposals and Teia Miles slotted two goals for the Hawks.

Sandringham 14.8 (92) defeated Williamstown 9.14 (68)

A dominant third quarter paved the way for Sandringham’s first win of the season as they defeated the Seagulls at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. The Zebras kicked away towards the end of the first half and continued that form into the second, restricting Williamstown to only one goal in the third term. Hunter Clark was dominant for the home side with 28 disposals and a goal while Durras Seccull, brother of captain Bede, kicked four goals on debut. Adam Marcon had 28 disposals for Williamstown while Nick Rodda and Jaylon Thorpe kicked three goals each.

Coburg 20.18 (138) defeated Frankston 9.9 (63)

What many were expecting to be match of the round turned into a fizzer, as Coburg trounced the Dolphins at Piranha Park. It was once again the third term that did the most damage to Frankston, as the Lions banged home nine goals to two. Peter McEvoy kicked six goals for Coburg while Sam Lowson chimed in with three. Marcus Lentini was the leading ball winner with 28 disposals as Josh Newman continued to lead the Dolphins with 25. Nathan Freeman appeared injured as he only managed the three touches and didn’t spend much time in the midfield.

Bye – Casey, Richmond, Footscray

Photo: VFL.com.au

Photo: Kadek Thatcher

VFL weekly wrap: Footscray takes top spot

ROUND 2 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) kicked off last Friday for what was a round of thrashings, with just one game ending with a margin under 30 points. Essendon had the bye this round, so will come into Round 3 on fresh legs after a weekend off.

Collingwood 6.4 (40) defeated by Footscray 17.10 (112)

In the curtain-raiser to the AFL match across the road, Footscray destroyed Collingwood by 72 points. The Magpies only kicked two goals to half time and were thoroughly beaten to the contest. Footscray spread their goalkickers, with six registering two each, including Jackson Trengove who also won 26 disposals, and Lukas Webb who had 28 disposals. Ben Reid kicked two for Collingwood while Alex Woodward was the only man on the ground to top 30 disposals, with 31. Daniel Wells got through his return match unscathed, with a goal and 23 disposals.

Richmond 13.14 (92) defeated Port Melbourne 7.7 (49)

The Tigers restricted Port Melbourne to just one goal at the main break as they dominated the second half to win by 43 points. Both sides were goalless in the first term before Richmond took control. Maibor Chol, Callum Moore, and James Fletcher kicked two each for the home side while Blake Pearson managed two for Port. Borough midfielder Eli Templeton continued his good form with 19 disposals and a goal.

Casey 18.11 (119) defeated North Melbourne 10.5 (65)

Casey made amends for last week’s Grand Final rematch thrashing with a resounding win over North Melbourne at home. The Demons kicked six goals in the first term, holding the Kangaroos scoreless as they romped away to the four points. The final margin was perhaps not reflective of the contest, as North kicked six goals to one in the final term to bring the margin down to 54 points. Tom Campbell recorded a massive 63 hitouts and kicked two goals, while Jeff Garlett, Nick Larkey, Jaxon Briggs, and Mitch White all kicked three each. Dan Robinson had 27 disposals for North.

Werribee 15.13 (103) defeated Coburg 10.11 (71)

Under the lights at Avalon Airport Oval, the Tigers’ second term ensured four points for the home side against the Lions. Werribee booted five goals to one to put their stamp on the game and run away with the win. Ryan Kemp kicked three goals for Werribee on debut, while Sam Lowson managed four in a losing side. Dane McFarlane had the most touches with 26.

Sandringham 8.11 (59) defeated by Box Hill 16.4 (100)

The premiers don’t look like slipping up any time soon as they notched up another big win, this time against the Zebras at Marvel Stadium. The match was fairly even up until half time, when the Hawks turned on the burners and booted six goals to one in the third term to assert their dominance. St Kilda-listed players, Nick Hind and Luke Dunstan excelled despite the loss, recording 39 and 37 disposals respectively to propel themselves into senior selection talk. Nathan Boucher kicked four goals for Box Hill while Tim O’Brien managed two goals and 20 disposals.

Geelong 9.13 (67) defeated by Northern Blues 10.8 (68)

The only close match of the round saw the Blues take the four points away from the Cats in their first outing of the season after last week’s bye. The see-sawing contest saw Northern lead by 13 points at the final break, before Geelong got on the march and cut the margin. Oscar Brownless had the opportunity to kick a third goal for the day and put the Cats in front, but only managed a behind. Jack Silvagni kicked two goals for the Blues while captain, Tom Wilson had 28 disposals. Jordan Keras recorded 27 disposals for Geelong while Cam Guthrie had 25 in his return game.

Frankston 6.9 (45) defeated by Williamstown 18.9 (117)

Williamstown got out of the blocks early and never looked back, obliterating the Dolphins by 72 points. After a seven goal to one first term Frankston never stood a chance, although they did well in the final quarter to not let the margin creep out to three figures for the second week in a row. Nathan Freeman was dominant once again with 39 disposals while skipper, Josh Newman had 34. Nick Rodda booted five for the Seagulls as Sam Dunell and Joel Ottavi kicked three each.

Essendon – Bye

Photo: VFL.com.au

VFL weekly wrap: Box Hill dominate in Grand Final rematch

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) season for 2019 kicked off last weekend with some surprising results and outstanding performances.


Footscray 16.12 (108) defeated Sandringham 9.11 (65)

The Bulldogs opened the 2019 VFL Season with a resounding 43-point win over the Zebras at the VU Whitten Oval. The home side lead from the first bounce, but it was the third term when they really clicked into gear, booting 4 goals to one to take a big lead into the final break. Ryan Gardner and Roarke Smith both kicked four goals for the match, but it was Smith’s 21 disposals and 4 tackles that proved his dominance. Patrick Lipniski racked up 26 disposals and eight tackles for the Dogs while Bede Seccull was best afield for the Zebras, with 25 disposals, two goals and six tackles.


Geelong 12.11 (83) defeated by Richmond 14.13 (97)

Richmond came from behind at three-quarter time to record a 15-point win away from home over the Cats. Momentum shifted between the two sides all game as Geelong took the lead in the third-term before Richmond kicked six goals in the final term to claim the win. Patrick Naish was the leading ball winner with 23 disposals while Mabior Chol enjoyed a nice evening out with three goals and 16 disposals. Jordan Keras managed 20 disposals and nine tackles for the Cats while Ryan Abbott kicked two goals and had 18 hitouts.


Coburg 11.7 (73) defeated by Collingwood 11.10 (76)

Collingwood didn’t let Coburg score in the final quarter as they ran over the top of the Lions on Saturday. The lead changed at every break with the Pies eventually coming out on top away from home. Max Lynch was dominant in the ruck for Collingwood, racking up 55 hitouts while Ben Crocker had the ball on a string, amassing 33 disposals, stating his case for an AFL call-up. Ben Reid was also impressive, kicking 3.4 from 20 disposals. Peter McEvoy kicked three goals for Coburg, with Sam Lowson and Lochie Dickson slotting two.


Werribee 14.14 (98) defeated North Melbourne 8.11 (59)

The Tigers overturned a four-goal quarter time deficit to run away with the points in the second half in the battle of Avalon Airport Oval against North Melbourne. The Kangaroos just seemed to stop, and only managed to kick one second half goal, and that was in the dying minutes of the final term. Michael Barlow slotted straight back into the Werribee line-up he left nine years ago, recording 32 disposals while Matt Hanson also managed 31. Nathan Hrovat was best afield for North with 26 disposals and a goal while Nick Larkey kicked three goals. Jack Henderson converted four goals for the home side.


Williamstown 10.15 (75) defeated Port Melbourne 9.11 (65)

The Seagulls took the four points in the VFL’s traditional rivalry at home on Saturday. After an impressive Williamstown first term, Port managed to take the lead into the main break. The third term was a seesawing affair, with Eli Templeton kicking a goal on the three-quarter time siren to narrow the margin to a point. Williamstown got out of the blocks fastest in the last quarter and managed to hold on by 10 points. Templeton had 26 disposals while Williamstown legend Ben Jolley had 21 disposals against his old side. Former Magpie Ben Kennedy amassed 18 disposals in his first outing for the Seagulls.


Box Hill 15.14 (104) defeated Casey 4.18 (42)

The Grand Final rematch turned out to be a fizzer, with Box Hill completely in control all afternoon, restricting the Demons to only four goals, while kicking 15 of their own. The one bright spark for Casey was Corey Maynard, who had 27 disposals, while Kade Chandler kicked two of his side’s goals. For the Hawks, Jackson Ross kicked five goals while Mitchell Lewis slotted four straight. Brayden Kilpatrick was the leading possession-winner for the Hawks with 23 disposals and two goals.


Frankston 3.6 (24) defeated by Essendon 22.13 (145)

It is bound to be another long season for the Dolphins as they were demolished at home by the Bombers. Frankston’s score did not change from quarter time until midway through the last quarter as Essendon punished them at every opportunity. James Stewart kicked four first half goals while Mitch Brown finished with five. Dylan Clarke amassed 30 disposals for the Bombers. On the bright side for Frankston, new recruit Nathan Freeman continued his dominant VFL form with 30 disposals, while new captain Josh Newman and last year’s midfield mainstay Will Fordham both had 23 disposals.

Northern Blues – Bye

2019 VFL season preview: Werribee ready to roar

IT is a new season and reigning premiers Box Hill Hawks are the team with a target on their back. We take a look at each of the 15 Victorian Football League (VFL) teams with plenty of new inclusions to excite fans ahead of the season, with Werribee and Port Melbourne tipped to be some of the top sides in the competition.

Box Hill Hawks

Last season: Premiers

The Hawks have brought in a number of big ball winners to their side with tall winger, Mason De Wit and strong mid/forward Jake Frawley heading to the brown and gold with outside runner, Boadie Motton from Gippsland Power. The Hawks have also picked up Nathan Mullenger-McHugh from the Western Bulldogs, and some experience out west in West Perth’s Luke Meadows. Add in Port Melbourne’s Damian Mascitti and the talented but relatively unknown Paddy Anderson from the Hampden League, and the Hawks have brought in some page and power up forward, as well as great midfield depth. Will Hams will be a loss with a number of other players out to play local footy, while former Sandringham Dragon, Georgie Nagle has headed to Port Melbourne. The reigning premiers have built on the list that took them to the cup last season and they are a team to watch in season 2019.

Casey Demons

Last season: Grand Finalists

The Demons have traded around Stingrays, with Riley D’Arcy, Goy Lok and Ali Zijai all heading to Frankston over the summer, but have brought in premiership Stingrays, Jai Taylor and Matthew Gahan for the 2019 season. Gahan offers good movement out of defence, while the lightning quick Taylor will no doubt make it easy for Casey’s social media team to regularly draw out highlights. Heath Briggs joins his brother at the Demons, while Nick Lowden has progressed from Gippsland among a couple of Port Melbourne recruits in Luke Tynan and Anthony Vella. With a few local league players also joining the side including a familiar name with Darcy Fritsch – brother of Melbourne’s Bailey – pulling on the red and blue. It was a heartbreaking loss in the Grand Final last season and the Demons will be keen to go one better this year with the additions.

Coburg Lions

Last season: 15th (Wooden spoon)

Change was afoot at Coburg over the summer with a match day team full of players coming in, and going out of the Lions’ doors. From a VFL perspective, Matthew Harman has crossed from the Northern Blues with Alex Federico to join former Northern Knights teammates, Braedyn Gillard and Mark Baker at the club, while fellow draft prospects last year, Mitch Podhajski – who returns on a full-time basis to the club – Jack Evans and Lucas Cavallaro all switch from Calder to Coburg. Evans and Cavallaro will provide good drive out of defence, while Podhajski will be a dominant force in multiple areas around the ground. Add in former Eastern Ranges outside midfielder Xavier Fry, a couple of Gold Coast NEAFL players in Brodie Foster and Harry Simington and Canberra Demons’ Jack Baker who was close to being drafted last season, and the Lions have really built some serious depth this year. Of the departures, Hisham Kerbatieh, Nick Mellington and Sean Gregory have crossed to the Seagulls, while Tom Condon will try his hand in the SANFL With Sturt.

Collingwood Magpies

Last season: 5th (Elimination final exit)

A relatively settled line-up, the Magpies will have a bitter taste in their mouth after coming close to a double chance, only to be knocked out in the elimination final by Essendon. Adam Oxley has hung around at the club after being delisted by Collingwood’s AFL side, while Dandenong Stingrays’ co-captain Campbell Hustwaite looms as a massive inclusion who could put his name up in lights with a big season, while Alex Spencer is the other addition coming from Port Melbourne. Marty Hore and Tom Jok were drafted by Melbourne and Essendon respectively, while Gus Borthwick also departs. The Magpies will hope for a better run of injuries this season with the VFL side stretched at times last year given the amount of AFL players required at AFL level.

Essendon Bombers

Last season: 8th (Preliminary final exit)

Essendon have strategically brought in a number of over-age prospects who did have draft interest over the past two years, with key defender Daniel Hanna and Oakleigh Chargers versatile tall, Matthew Day having plenty of draftable attributes but needing to iron out a few things. Jacob Atley will also share time between Essendon and Bendigo Pioneers in his bid to get drafted with Essendon considering him for an AFL list spot last year. Nick Hind was a whirlwind last season but he will now cross to Sandringham to play with St Kilda’s affiliate, while Alex Boyse also departed the club over the off-season after some draft interest. The Bombers have also picked up former Saint, Ray Connellan, as well as Werribee’s Kurt Aylett and Port Melbourne’s Josh Tynan who should all make important contributions to the club.

Footscray Bulldogs

Last season: 9th

Footscray has bolstered its side ahead of the 2019 season, only losing Jamison Shea to Southport, while Will Hayes got his chance for the Bulldogs’ senior side. Richmond’s Nathan Drummond and Geelong’s Ryan Gardner cross to the club after being delisted last season, while former Carlton AFL player, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow has made the move further west after a stint with Port Melbourne. Interestingly, the Bulldogs have raided St Kevin’s to top up their list, with Sam Barnett, Lachlan Farrugia, Gerard Gleeson and Billy Kanakis all signing onto the club this year. Footscray would hope that the inclusions will be enough to reach the finals after narrowly missing out last year.

Frankston Dolphins

Last season: 14th

The Dolphins had moments returning to the competition for the 2018 season, but ultimately just managed the two wins from 18 games in 2018. Unsuprisingly, Frankston has looked to Sandringham Dragons and Dandenong Stingrays for young talent coming through, while also picking up some former Dragons who were delisted by their respective AFL clubs. Nathan Freeman was a feel-good story last year for the Saints, but his AFL time came to an end, as did Sydney’s Angus Styles who was delisted after one year on the rookie list. Former Stingrays, Riley D’Arcy and Ali Zijai, and former Dragon, Goy Lok all return to Frankston, along with potential Brisbane father-son James Rendell, former Mentone Grammar captain, Harry Houlahan, and Stingrays duo, Aaron Darling – who has had two consecutive knee reconstructions – and Lachlan McDonnell who was unlucky to miss out on being drafted last season. The Dolphins will also help develop St Kilda ruck, Sam Alabakis who was allowed to play for Frankston given St Kilda’s ruck depth who will play at Sandringham.

Geelong Cats

Last season: 3rd (Semi-final exit)

Geelong has made minimal changes to its line-up for the 2019 season, with captain Tom Atkins pulling on the senior blue and white hoops so likely to roll through the VFL team this season, while former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder Aiden Domic, has crossed to Werribee. His Rebels teammate, Charlie Wilson joins the club and will provide some firepower in attack. Gippsland Power key defender Kyle Reid comes into the Cats line-up and with a good season could be a chance to be drafted as a 19-year-old given the Cats’ tendency to draft their own state league players and ageing key defenders, while Aaron Black stays at the club after being delisted. The Cats have also headed to the Goulburn Valley to recruit Nik Rokahr and Luke Smith from the Shepparton Bears. The Cats had a terrific season last year, but fell short in finals, exiting in straight sets at the hands of eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks.

Northern Blues

Last season: 12th

The Northern Blues have bolstered their line-up with some AFL experience, bringing in key defensive duo, Kieran Collins and Alex Johnson. Collins was close to getting a reprieve with the Blues in the AFL, but will bide his time for Carlton’s VFL affiliate, while Johnson was the feel-good story then the heartbreak story of 2018. After multiple knee reconstructions, the former Sydney defender has not given up hope of reaching the highest level again and it will be interesting to see how he fairs in the state league. Hawthorn’s Jonathan O’Rouke also joins the club with some unfulfilled potential, while South Croyden’s Frank Anderson was the name that had a few eyebrows raised when State Combine invites went out last year, but the talented former Eastern Football League star will now get the chance to step up at the higher level.

North Melbourne Kangaroos

Last season: 10th

Not a great deal of change out at North Melbourne, with Alex Morgan staying at the club despite being delisted by the AFL affiliate. Brendan Whitecross will provide invaluable experience after his time at Hawthorn, while former Sydney player, Daniel Robinson also joins the Roos for season 2019. Sam Parson crosses to the club from Box Hill Hawks, while key forward Michael Close, Liam Whelan and Steve Stroobants all depart. The Kangaroos were solid in their debut year last year, finishing 10th and pushing towards a finals birth at times. They did get smashed by the AFL Academy side early in the year, but once North Melbourne gelled, they showed what they were capable of in the competition.

Port Melbourne Borough

Last season: 7th (Elimination final exit)

The 2017 premiers bowed out in the first week of finals last year to eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks. Like most standalone clubs, the Borough have made plenty of changes to their list, with Kieran Strachan the headline departure after being picked up by Adelaide Crows. Robin Nahas has retired and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow heads to Footscray, while Lucas Cook and Luke Tynan have also left. Into the side comes former Collingwood premiership player, Jarryd Blair, as well as a host of Oakleigh Chargers including Charlie Beasley, Jake Gasper and Xavier Fry. Gasper will replace Nahas as the danger inside 50, while Blair and experienced VFL campaigner, Ben Jolley will be the hard men in the middle with the latter the biggest transfer of the summer. Matthew Signorello has returned to Victoria after being delisted by Adelaide, while former Melbourne player, Dion Johnston has also joined the club. Patrick Veszpremi will try his luck at state level again, returning from Pascoe Vale, while Tom Goodwin (Coburg) and Geordie Nagle (Box Hill Hawks) are some of the VFL talent that have changed clubs to Port Melbourne.

Richmond Tigers

Last season: 1st (Semi-final exit)

It was not a good September for Richmond fans at any level considering two minor premiership led to a straight sets exit and a preliminary final exit. After finishing on top of the table in season 2019, the Tigers looked like going all the way, but as they found out, finals is a different ball game, even for the light technicians and despite some controversy over the finals losses – one they were left in the dark and the second was a brilliance passage of play from Nick Hind in the dying seconds being the difference – they will look to rebound in season 2019.

Sandringham Zebras

Last season: 13th

The Zebras had a disappointing season in 2018, recording a bottom four finish and have subsequently overhauled plenty of their list ahead of the 2019 season. They have made Kai Owens a more full-time member of the side, while Sam Sofronidis, Anthony Seaton, Ryan O’Meara and Nick Stamatis all go through the pathway from Dragons to Zebras. Nathan Wright provides some AFL experience, as does Sam Gilbert who has experienced the atmosphere of AFL Grand Final Day, while Port Melbourne’s Dylan Atkins is another with state league experience invaluable to the Zebras cause. A host of local players round out a long list of additions for season 2019.

Werribee Tigers

Last season: 11th

The Tigers might not have had the best season, finishing in eleventh last year, but they had two players head north to ply their trade with the Gold Coast SUNS. Both Sam Collins and Josh Corbett were pre-listed by the SUNS and will forge AFL careers, while Andrew Hooper and Kurt Aylett both head to the Bombers’ VFL side. While they have lost some experience, the Tigers are arguably the team to watch in season 2019, with AFL experience galore, as well as some seriously talented state league and former TAC Cup stars. Michael Barlow and Max Spencer (Gold Coast), Oscar Junker and Daniel Nielson (North Melbourne), Timm House (Geelong) and Jackson Edwards (Adelaide) return after stints on AFL lists, Barlow the most recognisable name of the lot. Jake Riccardi and Scott Carlin join the club on a full-time basis after playing as 19 year-olds last season, while Ryan Hebron and Josh Clayton are NEAFL players who were in the draft conversation. Key position players, Tom Boyd and Hudson Garoni will straighten the Tigers up, while Western Jets have provided four players to the club, with ball winners, Connor Thar and Jack Watkins, key position utility Hamish Murphy and Nick Stuhldreier all coming to the club. The biggest recruit might be off the field, with 2004 AFL Premiership coach, Mark Williams taking the reigns at Werribee.

Williamstown Seagulls

Last season: 4th (Preliminary final exit)

The narrowest of defeats in the Preliminary Final to eventual premiers Box Hill Hawks might have stung over the summer had the National AFL Draft not rolled around.By the end of November, Williamstown’s Ben Cavarra – a player with a well-documented pathways journey – finally found an AFL home at the Western Bulldogs, while Lachlan Schulz and Brett Bewley remained teammates over in the west with Fremantle. By the AFL season start, Michael Gibbons would become a Blue, making it a mammoth four players drafted by the one club over the off-season, then club legend Ben Jolley departed for rivals Port Melbourne. The Seagulls will undoubtedly drop back a bit with the serious talent that has left the club, but will be proud of the development pathway provided. In saying that, they have brought in North Melbourne’s Mitch Hibberd and Collingwood’s Sam McLarty for some AFL experience, while Joel Ottavi, Nick Mellington, Hisham Kerbatieh and Nick Sing cross from other VFL clubs. From the TAC Cup, Stefan Radovanovic will provide speed and power for the Seagulls, while former Collingwood small Ben Kennedy also joins the club, A team to watch with interest to see how they go given the amount of experience out the door, but always a team to keep an eye on.

Predictions:

Premiers: Werribee
Runner-Up: Port Melbourne
Michael Barlow (Werribee)

2014 Draft Profile: Zac Ballard

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Zachary Ballard (Northern Knights)

Height: 184 cm
Weight: 77 kg
Position: Midfielder
Strengths: Ball winning ability, clearances, tackling, speed
Weaknesses: Kicking can be hit or miss, goal kicking
Player Comparison: Nathan Freeman

Zac Ballard is arguably one of the top midfielders in this draft, but he is criminally underrated. Based on his AFL ready body, game style and potential, he should be a mid to late first round selection.

He’s always around the contest. His great endurance base allows him to only take short spells, and he gets to just about every contest. You’ll often find him on the bottom of a pack. He is a bull in the pack, as his strength allows him to win the inside ball, but also break tackles so he can get kick away.

Ballard reminds me of Nathan Freeman a lot. The differences are Freeman is a cleaner ball user and Ballard gets more of the ball. Ballard’s speed is under rated because he often uses it when running back to get a chase down tackle. He doesn’t try to be a flashy player and he doesn’t need to be. That speed allows him to be an effective inside and outside midfielder.

Occasionally, he’ll have games where he has a low kicking efficiency. He never shanks it and he’s certainly not a bad user of the ball. It’s more about that he’ll try and kick to a dangerous position and he hasn’t quite executed it properly. Alongside that, many of his kicks will be contested possessions, so that also makes it tough.

Over his six matches so far, Ballard has been in the bests in every game. He was clear best on ground for two of those games. He has averaged 21.5 disposals per game. His season high was an outstanding 34 touches, and that doesn’t even begin to describe his influence that day. His disposal efficiency is at a very solid 63 per cent, although his kicking efficiency is around 46 per cent.

Ballard eight handball receives per game is elite for someone who a dual midfielder. That also goes with his 4.5 marks per game – Clearly he is plenty of outside ball from his high work rate. The most impressive stat though is his tackling. He averages 8.2 tackles per game and his lowest for the year was four tackles. If you take that and his game against the Jets with five tackles, then he averages a whopping 10 tackles per game. He leads the league in this stat so it’s not surprising he is someone to watch out for come year’s end.

ballard

Photo: Zac Ballard in action against the Western Jets

Zac Ballard might not have the flash-in-the-pan style of a Patrick Dangerfield or the skills of a Scott Pendlebury, but his ability to chase hard defensively and mow down opposition players, while hurting them the other way is a real standout of his game. If Ballard can further enhance his hurt factor when running offensively, he will become an exceptional player at AFL level. While he has room for improvement, Ballard is one that should expect to hear his named called earlier rather than later in November.