Tag: National Championships

Scouting Notes | 2021 Under 17 National Championships: South Australia vs. Western Australia

SOUTH Australia and Western Australia kicked off the 2021 Under 17 National Championships in style, playing to a three-point thriller at Hisense Stadium on Sunday. It was the Croweaters who came out on top after leading at every break, though they were truly made to earn the victory. WA had snuck ahead for an unlikely late lead via Mitch Williams‘ second final-term goal, but the ascendancy was short-lived as SA tall forward Isaac Keeler snapped home the winning goal with six minutes left to play. Early inaccuracy, and a late miss on the run from Luke Brown ultimately came back to haunt the Sandgropers, as they went down 8.8 (56) to 7.11 (53) in an enthralling carnival opener.

FINAL SCORES:

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 3.2 | 4.4 | 6.6 | 8.8 (56)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.4 | 2.7 | 4.7 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS:

SA: J. Delean 3, I. Keeler 2, L. Slade, M. Phillipou, H. Barnett
WA: K. Sanchez 2, M. Williams 2, J. Scaife, L. Brown, J. Cleaver

DC BEST:

SA: A. D’Aloia, N. Sadler, J. Delean, K. Ryan, J. Magor, W. Patton
WA: D. Curtin, A. Condon, S. Gilbey, J. Cleaver, J. Busslinger, K. Sanchez

SCOUTING NOTES

South Australia:

By: Michael Alvaro

#1 Max Blacker (North Adelaide)
169cm/61kg | 2/07/2004 | Midfielder

A productive part of South Australia’s midfield rotation, particularly during the first half, Blacker got his hands on the ball plenty of times. He proved busy at the contest, getting to ground balls to win his own possessions, but also providing an option to receive and break to the outer. His disposal by foot was a little rushed under the early pressure, but the diminutive North Adelaide midfielder straightened up and was really lively going forward at times. Blacker finished with 18 touches in a solid outing with plenty to build on.

#8 Jack Delean (South Adelaide)
179cm/65kg | 15/04/2005 | Forward

A prospect likened to Isaac Heeney, Delean is terrific aerially for a player standing at 179cm and has fantastic forward smarts. He was stationed almost exclusively inside attacking 50 and did not need too many opportunities to make an impact, booting a game-high three goals. He started brightly, snaring the opening major with a sharp snap, before adding a second in the first quarter from a holding free kick 20m out. He was a touch quieter during the middle periods of the contest, but would come to life in patches, looking dangerous whenever the ball entered his area. Delean also rose to take a couple of eye-catching pack marks, and booted his third goal at the start of the final term, thanks to some persistent work from Jaiden Magor at half-forward.

#9 Nick Sadler (Sturt)
179cm/66kg | 8/01/2004 | Balanced Midfielder

Lauded for his inside/outside balance in midfield, Sadler operated on both sides of the contest to good effect and was one of SA’s most prolific ball winners with 22 touches. The Sturt product looked really smooth on the ball when released on the outer, able to run it forward and utilise his clean kicking skills. He got particularly busy during the third term, where his stints on the wing allowed him to drop back and help the defence to generate some rebound. In the same term, he would be sighted running back with the fight for a good mark at forward wing, before getting a couple more centre bounce rotations and faring well.

#10 Kobe Ryan (West Adelaide)
182cm/68kg | 17/02/2004 | Defender

Ryan is a versatile prospect whose skills are transferable to many roles, and half-back was his given station on Sunday. His ability to accumulate possessions saw him finish with 17 disposals and seven rebound 50s, with which he was able to showcase his mix of clean and penetrative kicking skills. The West Adelaide prospect was usually assured in his decision making and really warmed to the contest, getting busy after half time and putting in some big efforts over the ball throughout the dying stages.

#16 Jaiden Magor (South Adelaide)
185cm/77kg | 16/02/2004 | Forward

Like Ryan, Magor was squeezed out of the SA midfield and onto his secondary half-forward post, where his physicality and ball use heading towards goal really shone. He registered an early score by hitting the post with a 45m set shot, though a lot of his work was done further afield as the South Adelaide prospect worked hard to link his side into attacking 50. Magor’s midfield nous came to the fore with some tough ball winning work, able to burst through traffic and shrug tackles with real tenacity. Those traits helped directly assist two vital final term goals for SA; with the first a paddling effort at half-forward to win the ball and kick long to Delean, while the second saw him get a handball off to Isaac Keeler amid two tackles, helping put the Croweaters back in front. Overall, he played his role brilliantly and brought great intent.

#18 Will Patton (West Adelaide)
193cm/71kg | 4/01/2005 | Defender

Another of the well-performed 2005-born prospects, Patton proved to be South Australia’s general down back with his intercept and rebounding abilities. He positioned well to cut off a number of West Australian attacks, working back and across to mark overhead and judging the ball well in flight when doing so. The 16-year-old often commanded front position and with such strong marking, proved quite effective in that role. He also showed a good willingness to move the ball on quickly and set SA going on the rebound. Patton finished with a promising 10 disposals and four rebound 50s.

#20 Mattaes Phillipou (Woodville-West Torrens)
188cm/79kg | 27/12/2004 | Forward

One of the many good athletes afield and another with the fabled basketball background, Phillipou showed plenty of promise up forward. He came to life during a second quarter purple patch, presenting well at half-forward and contesting a series of high balls against multiple opponents at a time. While he was not always able to cleanly take a mark, Phillipou leaned on his athleticism to recover best, win the spillage and show good intent to keep the ball moving forward. The Eagles talent also kicked a nice goal in the third term, winning a two-on-two spill deep inside 50 and snapping home over his shoulder.

#21 Adam D’Aloia (Woodville-West Torrens)
184cm/84kg | 9/04/2004 | Midfielder

Arguably the best player afield, certainly in South Australian colours, D’Aloia was exceptional with his work around the contest. He racked up a game-high 30 disposals, including nine clearances and nine inside 50s as he held sway at most stoppages. The Eagles product used his mature frame to bullock his way to the ball and work a clear path out, either dishing cleanly to runners or booting a long kick forward. He was a consistent ball winner throughout the contest and proved difficult to combat with his physicality, which he used in a clutch late moment. D’Aloia sealed the game with a desperate tackle in the last 30 seconds, winning the ball back for SA inside defensive 50 and helping them hold on for victory.

#25 Isaac Keeler (North Adelaide)
197cm/83kg | 23/04/2004 | Key Forward

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect is already one of the more highly touted talls in next year’s crop, and showed a little bit of just why that is the case on Sunday. He was employed up forward and got busy close to goal, not only competing aerially but also using his speed to follow up at ground level. Posing a dual threat with such athleticism, Keeler used his superior reach to mark and convert a major from the goalsquare in term two, before again using his pace to gain good separation on the lead when working further afield. He ended up booting the winning goal for SA, receiving off Magor’s hard ball win and snapping home with pure class. All up, Keeler finished with 13 disposals, five marks and two goals to his name.

#30 Brodie Tuck (Central District)
193cm/90kg | 6/12/2004 | Key Defender

Another strong intercept marker in defence, Tuck’s solidity across the backline helped his side get on top early and stay there. He read the play beautifully to get into good spots, before rising to clunk marks overhead with courage and clean hands. The Centrals talent was not always in the thick of things, but popped up with such moments to make his mark and bring a cool head to SA’s defensive work – especially on some of WA’s fast breaks.

Western Australia:

By: Ed Pascoe

#2 Jed Hagan (East Fremantle)
174cm/71kg | 15/10/04 | Wing/Forward

Not the most prolific game from the usually prolific, though Hagan he made his touches count and his toughness served him well whenever he went for the ball. A shoulder concern has kept him out of the midfield rotations, which is where he plays his best football, and half-back was WA’s strength in this lineup, seeing Hagan shifted to the wing and half-forward. Although they aren’t preferred positions for Hagan, he at least got to show some versatility and his seven tackles showed his willingness to provide pressure and toughness.

#4 Koen Sanchez (East Fremantle)
179cm/59kg | 19/01/2005 | Wing/Forward

Not eligible until the 2023 draft, the East Fremantle product was a quick and elusive player for WA, spending time on the wing and proving a menace around goals with his speed and creativity. Sanchez showed natural football smarts with some skill and speed to match, which made him a real headache for the opposition. At 179cm and only 59kg, Sanchez has plenty of upside and with 17 disposals and two goals, he was one of his side’s most influential players, looking like one of WA’s most exciting players for the 2023 draft.

#8 Conrad Williams (Claremont)
182cm/62kg | 30/11/2004 | Wing

A quick and smooth moving wingman, Williams showed plenty of exciting traits as a Fremantle NGA prospect a player to watch in the coming years. Williams made the wing position his own, offering plenty of run and carry to show a great mix of speed and agility, as he made getting past opponents look like a cakewalk. He was one of the many Claremont products to play in what continues to be a strong breeding ground for potential draft prospects.

#12 Tyzreise Clark (Subiaco)
183cm/72kg | 29/01/2005 | Forward/Midfielder

An impactful forward who can also go through the midfield, Clark has some swagger about his football – playing with a strong burst and confidence whenever he goes for the ball. A year younger than most of his peers being available for the 2023 draft, the Subiaco prospect has tremendous upside and you can only imagine the improvement left in him on the lead-up to his draft year. Clark didn’t win a stack of the ball but his confidence and balance with ball in hand made him look like a future star.

#14 Sam Gilbey (Claremont)
185cm/67kg | 14/05/2004 | Defender

A quick and elusive mover who was the lightest-bodied defender for WA, Gilbey could barely be touched with his athleticism and was more than comfortable in the air against bigger and stronger opponents. Gilbey looks to have tremendous upside with some great athleticism and a light frame to be built upon. His skills on his favoured left boot and his confidence under pressure really impressed, with the 185cm prospect proving to be one of Claremont’s best talents going into the 2022 draft.

#17 Luke Michael (West Perth)
185cm/83kg | 19/03/2004 | Defender

Part of the strong defensive lineup for WA, Michael was tough and composed down back, able to intercept mark and also provide plenty of run and drive from defence. Michael complimented his teammates well, with the West Perth prospect able to show a good mix of attacking flair with his willingness to take the game on, but also show courage in the air and defend hard when he needed to. It was difficult to stand out with so many WA defenders having great games, but Michael held his own and should build confidence to take on the Victorian sides in July.

#20 Jack Cleaver (East Fremantle)
187cm/83kg | 22/05/2004 | Utility

A tough and skilful player from East Fremantle, Cleaver has a no frills approach to his football. He cracked in hard but also showed plenty of skill and composure –  especially by foot – as one of the many talented left-footers for WA. Starting in defence, he showed plenty with those aforementioned traits and with the game on the line in the last quarter, he was moved into the middle while also drifting forward to have an impact by kicking a nice goal. Cleaver would go on to finish with 19 disposals and be amongst the main ball winners for his side.

#28 Jess Busslinger (East Perth)
195cm/83kg | 11/03/2004 | Key Defender

Playing more like a tall back flanker, the rangy 195cm defender read the play well in defence and showed a lot of composure with ball in hand, working hard to spread to attack from defence. Busslinger had an incredible 18 marks, with his best coming late in the game with a telling contested mark to give his side an opportunity at a late goal and the win. The East Perth tall has started the carnival in fine form with a team high 28 disposals.

#30 Daniel Curtin (Claremont)
190cm/86kg | 8/03/2005 | Defender

An intercept marking machine for WA, the Claremont-based prospect read the ball well in the air and was clean and classy with his marking and disposal, certainly looking a prospect for the 2023 draft. The 190cm left-footer was undersized against the tall SA forwardline, but more than held his own with his impressive leap and judgment overhead. An incredible mark in the third quarter just highlighted his talent and was one of 10 marks he had for the day. It will be interesting to see how much growth Curtin has left, to see if he becomes a genuine key defender by the time the 2023 draft comes around.

#40 Alex Condon (Claremont)
201cm/78kg | 25/07/2004 | Ruck

The talented ruckman from Claremont who is also a talented basketballer, Condon showcased his great leap and deft touch in the ruck in a great contest with highly regarded SA ruckman, Will Verrall. Condon’s clear athletic traits were on display, showing that leap not only in ruck contests, but also around the ground as he flew for a nice mark to prove he could be a handy forward prospect as well. Condon has plenty of upside and with those athletic traits and with 12 disposals and 23 hitouts, he has shown to be one of the leading ruck prospects for the 2022 draft.

PREVIEW | Debuts galore as Metro sides make NAB League return

METRO regions are set to make their long-awaited return to the NAB League this weekend, as the competition extends back out to eight fixtures in Round 9. While fans are still not allowed to attend metropolitan games, one recruiter from each club will be allowed on the scene to observe the next generation of talent, with rules more relaxed at country and interstate fixtures.

As advertised, a bunch of bottom-age prospects will continue to be blooded through the elite talent pathways and there are some absolute gems to keep an eye out for ahead of the Under 17 National Championships. Returning 18th-year and top-age stars also fill out the list of names to watch, while both New South Wales (NSW) academies remain along with the Northern Territory (NT) Thunder.

Scotch College pair Sam Darcy and Scott Beilby have been named in Oakleigh’s side to face the Northern Knights on Saturday morning. Both boast ties to AFL clubs, with the former a Western Bulldogs father-son candidate, while the latter is part of St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy (NGA).

The Chargers will also unveil Tasmanian top-ager Sam Collins, who will make his first appearance for the region having shifted to live in Melbourne this year. 2019 premiership midfielder Fraser Elliot is another 19-year-old back in the mix having had a taste of VFL football, while GIANTS Academy member Patrick Voss is back in Oakleigh colours after earning an Allies nod. Elijah Tsatas is the bottom-ager to watch, an explosive midfielder who was previously sidelined with a broken collarbone.

Northern is also set to blood a couple of promising Under 17s, as coach Leigh Clarke returns to face his former side. Brayden Ham and Josh Hamilton add to those under-age stocks, while Melbourne Grammar student Josh Ward is a welcome addition to the midfield. He’ll operate alongside in-form skipper Joel Trudgeon and Ewan Macpherson, who returns after a stint with Footscray in the VFL.

The day’s other all-metro bout sees Sandringham host Eastern Ranges, boasting mid-season draftee Max Heath. The St Kilda ruck is set to palm down to a formidable midfield trio, which includes co-captain Darby Hipwell, and the newly-formed combination of Finn Callaghan and Charlie McKay. Allies squad member Jack Peris has also been named on the wing.

The midfield battle should be fierce, with Tyler Sonsie and Jake Soligo resuming for Eastern. Dashing top-ager Josh Clarke comes in for his first game in 2021, named in his usual half-back post, while 2005-born talent Nick Watson is in line to make his debut. The diminutive midfielder-forward has serious talent, akin to the likes of Errol Gulden in terms of natural ability which defies his size.

Eastern Ranges half-back Josh Clarke (centre) is in line to return

In the final game on Saturday, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) locks horns with Murray, as Mars Stadium continues to get a workout from the Rebels. Gun inside midfielder Ben Hobbs is set to return for the hosts, named in a forward pocket as GWV boasts an embarrassment of midfield riches.

Allies squad members Toby Murray (ruck) and Cameron McLeod (centre half-forward) are set to rotate through the Bushrangers’ structure, with Carlton VFL listed midfielder Zavier Maher again suiting up for Murray as former Caulfield Grammar schoolmate Josh Rachele comes out of the side.

Sunday’s action starts early as the GIANTS Academy takes on Tasmania Devils in the first game of a Blacktown double-header. Sydney is the other NSW-based academy to play host, taking on the NT Thunder in the afternoon. All four sides boast a bunch of prospects named in the Allies squad, who should acquaint themselves nicely.

Calder and Western battle it out in the round’s sole other metro clash, making for a repeat of the season-opener in Craigieburn. Carlton father-son hopeful Dane Whitnall comes in for his Calder debut, bolstering his side’s spine along with developing ruck Liam Podhajski. The latter is one of a few players afield with VFL experience, including Jets top-agers Cody Raak (defence) and Billy Cootee (midfield).

The in-form Geelong Falcons take on Gippsland Power in Morwell, with both sides having fielded a bunch of up-and-comers of late. Geelong will again go with midfielder Jhye Clark, ruckman Olivier Northam, and forward Will Baker, while Gippsland will be buoyed by the returns of Will Papley and Chance Doultree as Jai Serong goes the other way. 2005-born forward Zane Duursma is again one to watch.

The Dandenong Stingrays enter the fold once again to see out the weekend’s action, travelling to face Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. 2005-born Vic Country Under 17 squad member Harley Reid has shown plenty of promise for the Pios, as one of many under-agers settling into the side. Dandenong will have a bunch of fresh faces take the field too, including 16-year-old Sam Frangalas, along with a strong core of familiar names.

2021 West Australian Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 West Australian Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with 33 players making the cut to represent their state at the upcoming National Championships. Selected to compete in games against South Australia (July 31) and the Allies (August 7), the squad features players ranging from their 19th year, to a gun 16-year-old who is also among the state’s Under 17 set-up.

The Black Ducks promise to be competitive at this year’s carnival, boasting a strong core of versatile key position prospects and dynamic midfield mix. AFL Academy members Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts), Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont), and Jack Williams (East Fremantle) are among the best talls available in this year’s draft crop, while Subiaco pair Matthew Johnson and Neil Erasmus are set to wax in midfield having also represented the national Under 19 Academy.

Fans of AFL clubs will also have specific players to keep an eye on, with father-son and Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects littered through the side. Exciting small forward/midfielder Jesse Motlop (son of Daniel) comes under Fremantle’s academy umbrella, while explosive East Perth mover Ethan Regan is one for Eagles. Melbourne also has a father-son in the mix, with Taj Woewodin (son of Shane) a promising midfield option.

East Fremantle produced the most members (eight) this time around, as the WAFL club continues to prove a strong breeding ground for draft eligible talent. East Perth is the next best with six players involved, including Regan and leading Colts goalkicker Jye Amiss (25 goals). There is plenty of competition for spots up forward, with swingman Bazzo likely to revert to a defensive post along with versatile 19-year-old Jaiden Hunter (Perth).

Hunter is one of a few top-agers to have earned League berths in 2021 after being overlooked at last year’s draft, with Perth teammate Jack Avery in that same boat, alongside midfielder-turned-defender Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle) and ruckman Jake South (Subiaco). Meanwhile, 18th-year talents van Rooyen and Johnson also broke through for their senior debuts before returning to the Colts grade.

After hitouts against South Australia and the Allies, WA is scheduled to take on Vic Country and Vic Metro in Victoria on September 24 and 29, to round out the National Championships.

Below is a preview of how the West Australian team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad.

FB: Jack Avery (P) – Rhett Bazzo (SD) – Finn Gorringe (EF)
HB: Jed Hagan (EF) – Jaiden Hunter (P) – Judd McVee (EF)
C: Corey Warner (EF) – Matthew Johnson (S) – Max Chipper (SD)
HF: Ethan Regan (EP) – Jacob van Rooyen (C) – Neil Erasmus (S)
FF: Jye Amiss (EP) – Jack Williams (EF) – Jesse Motlop (SF)
FOL: Jake South (S) – Josh Browne (EF) – Kade Dittmar (EP)

INT: Zac Fleiner (WP), Kaden Harbour (EP), Brady Hough (PT), Lochlan Paton (WP), Luke Polson (PT), James Tunstill (EP)

EMG: Oscar Armstrong (EP), Eric Benning (C), Ed Curley (EF), Richard Farmer (S), Jarrod McIlvinney (PT), Angus Sheldrick (C), Jahmal Stretch (C), Bryce Watson (SD), Taj Woewodin (EF)

FULL SQUAD:

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

Draft Central Power Rankings: June 2021

POWER Rankings are back. Draft Central’s first edition for 2021 features 25 of the nation’s best AFL Draft prospects, with plenty of football already played and the best yet to come. This year’s crop already shapes as being much different to that of 2020, as many more midfielders dominate the pointy end and a far more open pool sees only four of our selected group already tied to clubs. The race for number one honours is also heating up, currently down to two very worthy contenders. Find out who takes out the top gong and which prospects are on the rise in our June Power Rankings.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg

Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as consistent scoreboard impact.

Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne retains his crown midway through the year. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Still yet to turn 18, Horne boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him awarded with number one status in our eyes.

Season so far:

Horne has hardly missed a beat at SANFL League level for South Adelaide, turning in a consistent level of performance across his seven outings thus far. With added time spent at the centre bounces, he is finding more of the ball and averages a tick over 15 touches per game, including 2.9 clearances and 3.7 inside 50s. Horne has also found the goals in four of those appearances, making the most of his time inside attacking 50 as well. The 17-year-old’s form was good enough to warrant selection in the initial South Australian state squad, though he did not quite make the final cut. He also featured for the AFL Academy against Geelong VFL, proving a key figure in midfield with his attacking intent and maturity on the ball.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus

#2 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg

Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to dominant displays.

The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a deeply talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. Daicos is banging down Horne’s door and may well break through as he continues to put runs on the board, in dominant fashion.

Season so far:

Daicos’ figures so far in 2021 are nothing short of remarkable. He leads the NAB League for disposals (average 35.5), kicks (22.3) and goals (nine total) having arguably been the best player afield in all four of his outings to this point. The 18-year-old has increased his disposal output with each passing game as a mainstay in Oakleigh’s midfield, though he has also rested forward at times and is capable of accumulating off half-back. Some of that forward time is down to management, as Daicos suffered a corked thigh in Round 1 and was held back from a VFL debut during the NAB League hiatus. He did turn out for the AFL Academy though, skippering the side and again proving the best among his peers.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3

#3 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg

Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to kick goals.

One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s best has been exceptional thus far. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.

Season so far:

Sonsie made a hot start to the season as Draft Central’s Round 1 NAB League Player of the Week. He hit the ground running with 34 disposals and two goals, proving damaging when on top. Across four NAB League outings this year, the 18-year-old has snared five goals from an average of 25 disposals and while he has not always been the best player afield, his class shone through in promising patches. Sonsie also represented Box Hill in the VFL, showing good signs in his state league debut with 24 touches and two well-finished goals, warming to the level steadily. His best has been great to watch, hence his current ranking, but sustaining that impact and doing it both ways is the next step.

>> VFL Player Focus
>> Head-to-Head: Sonsie vs. Daicos
>> NAB League POTW: Round 1

#4 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg

Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.

A second South Adelaide midfielder within the top five of our count, Roberts’ form has seen him prove difficult to deny of such honours. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 17-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, Roberts is also a sound user of the ball and looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a sound model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches the said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Season so far:

Starting in the SANFL Under 18s, Roberts put up outstanding numbers across his first three outings. As a key fixture in midfield, he averaged 32 disposals, 6.3 clearances, 7.7 inside 50s, and a tick under two goals per game to earn a richly deserved League call-up. He made a steady start to life in the top flight, ushered in via the front six for two games, averaging 9.5 disposals. School football then came calling, with Roberts captaining the St Peter’s First XVIII and proving one of the more productive campaigners of that competition.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus

#5 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Half-Back/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg

Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.

Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the best technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside of late to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looks poised to return soon and play out a full season in the NAB League.

Season so far:

Sinn’s figures read as consistently as anyone across three NAB League appearances, with the 18-year-old gathering 20 touches in each. A kick-first type, he goes at around three-to-one in terms of ratio and has constantly looked to open games up via that method. While his efficiency has been hit and miss at times, Sinn’s intent and endeavour has been apparent in 2021. A steady start in Round 1 was capped off by a clutch goal late in the piece as Sandringham got up over Oakleigh, with the Dragons coaching staff pulling the trigger early on his midfield release. In Round 3, he was utilised there permanently and registered a whopping 10 inside 50s. He copped a stud to the calf and sat out the late stages of that game, but has been sidelined to this point with a hamstring strain sustained while training with the AFL Academy. The current Victorian lockdown may be a blessing in disguise for Sinn, who should return once the competition recommences.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

#6 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Wing
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.

A second Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 10, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser has the potential to crack Sandringham’s stacked midfield and showcase his balance, though he will be seen moreso in the APS Football competition towards the middle and back-end of the year.

Season so far:

Chesser has featured in just two NAB League games for Sandringham thus far, with a knee complaint seeing him miss the Dragons’ Round 4 clash with Dandenong as well as the AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. He started slowly in his first hitout, but ended up playing a key role in the clutch moments to help lift his side to victory against Oakleigh, winning 23 disposals and five inside 50s. He was less prolific the following week in soggy conditions against Northern, booting a goal from 13 touches on the wing. While he hangs back well for handball receives on the outer, Chesser also showed he can dig in to win his own ball in those fixtures.

#7 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg

Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is the premier tall midfielder in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.

Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean hands around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.

Season so far:

Having been pegged for a League berth in Round 1, Johnson shook off injury to start his season through the Colts in Round 2. His output proved steady, averaging 17.5 touches and a goal per those outings before a promising display for the AFL Academy saw him finally crack the senior level upon his return to Subiaco. He only averaged 6.7 touches in his first three top flight outings, before regaining some ball winning form with 21 and nine tackles back at Colts level. His best has been shown in patches thus far, but his ceiling remains quite high. Dominating in midfield with higher numbers and translating his form to senior grades will be the next step.

#8 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg

Snapshot: A lively forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.

Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.

Season so far:

In two games so far for the Murray Bushrangers, Rachele was able to show his blend on midfield and forward craft. Against Bendigo in Round 2, he spent more time in the engine room and snared 1.3 from 19 disposals, before coming to life as a more permanent forward in the next game against Geelong Falcons. Rachele’s special finishing ability was on full show as he snared four majors in the Bushies’ big win, running amok inside attacking 50. He copped a head knock in that game and was rested the next week after spending time training with Carlton.

#9 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg

Snapshot: Williams is an athletic and versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals while rotating through the ruck, or even to defence.

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams is the first genuine tall to appear on our list. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 19 goals in six WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Season so far:

Williams has found the big sticks in each of his six WAFL Colts games this season, booting multiple majors in five of them with two bags of four and one five-goal haul the standout performances. He is yet to drop below 13 disposals and has stayed relevant in each game with his impact up the ground, proving a viable marking target with an average of six clunks per outing. While that marking prowess was tested against senior bodies in the Academy game, Williams’ rate of development is calling for a senior berth some time in the future.

#10 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender 
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg

Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 contention.

From one terrific marking player to the next, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture.

Season so far:

Gibcus has performed exceptionally well across four NAB League outings in 2021, maintaining a high standard and consistently bringing his superpowers to the fore. He has averaged 15.3 disposals, 6.3 marks, and five rebound 50s as a permanent defender for the Rebels, sometimes acting as the floating player back there and even moving onto dangerous marking targets. The 18-year-old looked well up to scratch in his appearance for the AFL Academy, taking on the kick-in duties at times and showing glimpses of his usual best.

#11 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Wing/Half-Back
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.

One who seems destined to end up in the top 10, and potentially top five come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back is difficult to stop at full flight, with his blend of straight line power and swift agility proving difficult to combat. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his long boot, but recently showcased his potential on the inside as the Dragons shifted their magnets.

Season so far:

Starting as a half-back who would roll up to the wing, Callaghan built on the promise he showed during preseason and at training in years gone by with a terrific NAB League debut. He gathered 19 disposals against Oakleigh and looked ominous, with his Round 4 and 5 performances cementing his top 10 potential. Callaghan booted a goal from 24 disposals against Dandenong, before shifting to the inside against Western to rack up a high of 31 touches. While he has played in midfield at school football level, that confirmation of his inside/outside balance rose his ceiling even further. He also built into the AFL Academy game, showing some dash on the outside.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

#12 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg

Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading academy talent.

Our top-ranked Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is quite clearly the best prospect out of the Northern Academies and a real first round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in the AFL Academy showcase.

Season so far:

Fahey confirmed his potential with a terrific showing for the AFL Academy against Geelong VFL in April, collecting 23 disposals and booting forward nine rebound 50s to take out the Presidents Medal. He was a vocal member of the defence in that game and showcased his leadership qualities, as one of the junior prospects who looked most invested in the contest. Fahey has also turned out for the GIANTS’ VFL side, making a steady debut with nine touches in Round 1 before managing 24 in Round 5 against Richmond. As expected, 16 of them were kicks and he clunked six marks in a showing of his ability to be a safe outlet and intercept threat in defence.

#13 Jacob Van Rooyen
Claremont/Western Australia | Tall Forward
16/04/2003 | 194cm | 88kg

Snapshot: Van Rooyen is a tall forward who presents well with strong hands overhead and a booming kick, but has also shown potential to move further afield.

Pegged as Western Australia’s best draft prospect and potentially the leading tall coming into the year, Van Rooyen continues to impress in 2021. He was part of Claremont’s WAFL Colts side which went down in last season’s Grand Final, booting 19 goals in 10 games. He donned the Black Ducks jersey in last year’s West Australian All Stars fixtures and was a lock for the AFL Academy intake in 2021. A glandular fever diagnosis has halted his progress a touch, but Van Rooyen started out the season at League level and is pressing for a return after great form in the WAFL Colts.

Season so far:

Van Rooyen started his senior career in style, booting two goals from 12 disposals and four marks, before being held goalless in a couple of quieter outings. He was rested upon his glandular fever diagnosis, and eased back into action through the Colts grade. There, he regained his goalkicking form with three majors in managed gametime, before returning his best performance to date with 24 disposals, six marks and another three goals in Round 8 against East Perth. The 194cm prospect also got a run through midfield late in that game, having shown nice mobility in his movement up the ground and back towards goal.

>> WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 8

#14 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg

Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching athletic traits and plenty of upside.

Another prospect out of Subiaco who played in last year’s WAFL Colts premiership, Erasmus has built on his potential this year having come in as a potential first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 Grand Final, showcasing great speed and clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this season, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with that scoreboard impact also in his back pocket.

Season so far:

Mixing his time between the WAFL Colts and PSA competitions in Western Australia, Erasmus has been a standout through midfield. He averages bang on 28 disposals for the Lions across four games so far, incredibly with a high of 29 and low of 27. He has also taken almost eight marks per game and has been able to sustain his impact, while having the potential to burst to life at any given moment. Erasmus was also terrific for the AFL Academy as a medium forward, serving a reminder of his aerial skills and looking to have improved his disposal by foot – a growth area – as the game wore on.

#15 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Defender/Forward/Ruck
19/08/2003 | 197cm | 73kg

Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing, but raw tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball well.

The apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top 15 pick made on potential, with that versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy has impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck in the NAB League, but has also had an eye-catching forward foray at school football level. Bulldogs fans, you have another on the radar.

Season so far:

Darcy made his NAB League debut in Round 3 against Eastern Ranges, immediately exceeding expectations in tricky conditions for a tall. He looked impressive with his leap in the ruck and down back, earning a steady 13 disposals and seven hitouts for the day. His stocks continued to rise in Round 4, as that marking prowess came into play against the Western Jets. Darcy clunked nine grabs and had 21 disposals, again as a key defender who pinch-hit in the ruck. He then ventured into the school football realm with Scotch College, translating his form to a forward role where he picked up a bag of five goals in one game, and continued to stand out as a dominant key position talent.

#16 Rhett Bazzo
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Tall Defender/Forward
17/10/2003 | 195cm | 81kg

Snapshot: A key defender who has adjusted to a forward role in 2021, Bazzo is fantastic in his aerial judgement and clean with ball in hand.

One of Western Australia’s many promising key position prospects, Bazzo made his name as a defender but has since shifted forward. As he did in the AFL Academy showcase, the Swan Districts product may well revert back to that defence post during state representative duties, but looks just as suited to playing an attacking role with his sound marking and use of the ball. He is another who claimed Under 16 All Australian honours in 2019, making him a well known quantity and one with plenty of class. Bazzo has shown just that in three WAFL Colts games to this point, while also turning out Guildford Grammar in the PSA Football competition.

Season so far:

Bazzo has proven his swingman potential in 2021 by finding the goals in bunches at each level he has played. He snared four majors during a preseason hitout and went on to boot two in each of his opening two WAFL Colts games, before finding similar form for Guilford Grammar at school football level. He was kept quiet in his most recent Colts outing, having just eight touches and being held goalless, but was a solid figure down back for the AFL Academy. His judgement of the ball in flight and intercept marking quality was clear in that game, as always, but Bazzo continues to add strings to his bow.

#17 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg

Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively, and in a ball-winning sense.

The GWV Rebels ball winner has not been able to fully show his wares in 2021 due to injury, but is one who could break back into top 10 contention with a clean run at it. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety 17-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and will be itching to get back onto the field.

Season so far:

Hobbs’s sole full appearance for the NAB League season came in his side’s opening fixture, against the Geelong Falcons. He was a constant in midfield and proved his ball winning ability, notching 22 touches and five inside 50s while also laying eight tackles. His Round 4 return game against the Murray Bushrangers was cut short, but Hobbs again started in midfield, as he will likely do all year.

#18 Cooper Murley
Norwood/South Australia | Midfielder
20/06/2003 | 178cm | 70kg

Snapshot: A stylish forward runner, Murley holds his own on both sides of the contest and loves to break into attack with speed and slick ball use on the fly.

Murley is an exciting player in full flight, able to break forward quickly with gut running and terrific speed from midfield. He dominated the SANFL Under 18s competition last year and was part of Norwood’s premiership-winning team, showcasing his undeniable talent and upside. In 2021, his progress has been halted by injury, though the 17-year-old has already earned a Reserves berth and remains one of South Australia’s brightest prospects. Having made his return last week, he could well be one to rise up the board with a consistent run of form.

Season so far:

Starting out at Reserves level, Murley adjusted to the more mature bodies steadily with 13 disposals across his first two outings. He is one who will likely use his clean skills and forward run on the outer at senior level, or even as a high half-forward given his knack for finding the goals. Injury meant he could only partially participate in AFL Academy training before missing out on the showcase game against Geelong VFL, but Murley made his return to the SANFL Reserves with 10 disposals in a heavy loss. Watch for his progress as the season wares on.

#19 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Midfielder
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with speed, agility and the ability to fly high, Goater is a prospect with great potential.

Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing or pinch-hit up forward. He is another who stakes his claim on upside, and shares similar traits with Essendon draftee Archie Perkins.

Season so far:

Featuring in midfield for Calder straight off the bat, Goater returned a promising first-up performance with 22 disposals against Western in the season opener. He showcased his ability to hit the scoreboard in the next two NAB League games, while bringing a touch of composure to his midfield craft by shifting his focus to be more of a distributor by hand. He did so again after the break against Bendigo, again starting in the middle before switching out to the wing. Goater also got a taste of VFL action in May, turning out for Essendon in Round 5 and booting a goal among his seven touches.

#20 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact inside attacking 50.

One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in the SANFL Under 18s this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who may feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.

Seasons so far:

Draper has been super consistent across his seven SANFL Under 18 appearances, averaging 23 disposals and over six clearances per game. He has only dropped below 20 touches once with a high of 27, while finding the goals in all bar two of his outings for the Panthers. He has proven an apt receiver at the stoppages, able to burst away for clearances while also using his leap and smarts around goal to impact the scoreboard. Like Horne and Roberts, he could be one to climb the grades if he continues to post such numbers.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus

#21 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg

Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.

Another key position type who has rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew will have Melbourne recruiters a little nervous with his performances to date. He sits just outside our current top 20 but has that kind of potential, with raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever-improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.

Season so far:

Eyes quickly turned to Andrew after he collected 22 disposals, three marks and 11 hitouts on his NAB League debut, before going on to prove it was no fluke by impressing across another three outings. He found himself spending more time forward against the Sandringham Dragons in Round 4 and kicked a goal, but has some development left in his decision making and disposal by foot at times. He boasts clean hands and was better aerially than his averages of three marks and 14.5 hitouts suggest. The same could be said about his game for the AFL Academy, where Andrew was tried up either end before excelling in the ruck during term four, throwing his 200cm frame into each centre bounce with a phenomenal vertical leap.

#22 Ned Long
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
5/02/2003 | 192cm | 88kg

Snapshot: Long is a tall midfielder who navigates the contest with great agility for his size, and can also find the goals when resting forward.

A midfielder in that desired 190cm-plus mould, Long moves well through congestion and often has no trouble getting his hands on the ball. He featured in the 2019 Vic Metro Under 16 squad and was already a good size back then, seeing him play two games for Northern as a 16-year-old. The 18-year-old is one of the many Knights with solid running capacity, which bodes well for extended midfield time despite being able to hit the scoreboard while resting forward or drop back to impact aerially. He will swap his time between the NAB League and APS Football competitions, also representing Melbourne Grammar.

Season so far:

Long made a terrific start to his 2021 campaign, managing 26 disposals, nine marks and three goals against the Western Jets. That dominant display was backed up by 15 touches and a goal against stiff opposition in Sandringham, though his effort to lay nine tackles suited the wet conditions at Preston City Oval. Long’s final NAB League appearance before the break saw him return to his best, impacting both around the ball and close to goal with 25 disposals and another haul of three goals against Gippsland Power. He has since moved on into the APS competition, with promise of a late-season return to NAB League action.

#23 Joshua Browne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 185cm | 77kg

Snapshot: An ultra-consistent midfielder who runs hard and finds plenty of the ball, Browne is one of the most in-form midfielders nationwide.

Browne is a player whose form has made him hard to deny for a spot in the top 25, with his ability to win big numbers at a remarkable rate making him one of the most consistent performers in the draft pool at the moment. He has built on a promising bottom-age campaign with East Fremantle to hit new heights in the WAFL Colts competition, competing with grunt at the contest and running hard to accumulate around the ground in relentless fashion. He is also quite solid defensively on the inside and is the type of player you want on your side, especially among the centre bounce mix.

Season so far:

While his season as a whole has been outstanding, Browne has hit a purple patch over his last three outings with an average of 36.7 disposals in that time. He hit his season high of 38 touches in Round 8, distributing well by hand on the inside and looking to drive his side forward from where it matters most. Overall, he has averaged 32.5 disposals across six Colts games in 2021, while also showing similar form in his state’s Under 19 trial game. He could well be in for a promotion and should be one of Western Australia’s most prominent figures at the national carnival.

#24 Lewis Rayson
Glenelg/South Australia | Half-Back/Midfielder
14/01/2003 | 181cm | 74kg

Snapshot: Rayson is a lightly-built small defender who sparks attacks on the rebound, with his accumulative factor boding well for more time in midfield.

A dashing half-back who loves to take the game on and can open it up by foot, Rayson has made a terrific start to his 2021 campaign. The 18-year-old is slowly filling out his light frame but is not afraid to win his own ball and compete aerially, making him more than your average running defender. He missed out on AFL Academy honours but was a lock for his state’s academy hub and will likely be a key feature for the Croweaters come National Championships time. Rayson is also being trialled in midfield, where his ball winning ways have continued.

Season so far:

Rayson has been a mainstay in Glenelg’s Under 18s setup, playing six games so far with averages of 30.2 disposals, 7.2 marks, and a combined 7.6 breaches of either arc. Typically a rebounder accustomed to working in space, Rayson has been able to win just as much of the ball on the inside and still looks to be an attacking threat out of the middle. He is still quite light though and is improving his contested game, adding a handy string to his bow which already features some desirable traits.

#25 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights | Small Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg

Snapshot: A tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed.

Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.

Season so far:

Wilmot’s numbers so far this NAB League season have been wonderfully consistent, twice registering 15 touches, and twice having it 16 times. His rebounding power is evident with an average of over four per game, and his running bounce total would also be a handy stat to look at given how often he has taken the game on running out of the back half. Wilmot has also shown pretty clean disposal despite the speed at which he operates, proving more than just a one-trick pony across half-back.

IN THE MIX:

There are plenty of prospects vying for position across a very even group past the 20-mark, with near-on another 20 capable of filling those five spots out to number 25. Dandenong Stingrays pair Connor Macdonald and Miller Bergman are among them, with the former a medium midfielder who has started the year well, and the latter a true utility who can use his clean kicking and marking ability off half-back, or up forward.

Almost inevitably, Sandringham also has another couple of prospects around the mark, with 190cm marking forward/wingman Blake Howes a player with plenty of upside, and rising half-forward Luke Nankervis also proving his worth as a genuine prospect this season. Both are developing types who suit a range of roles, and are really excelling with their versatility.

Other NAB Leaguers in the mix include Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers) and Josh Ward (Northern Knights), who both have wonderful skills and are clean with ball in hand. Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels) is a half-back who has recently been moved up to the wing, impressing with his kicking and competitiveness. Speaking of, Collingwood NGA prospect Youseph Dib has proven up to the rigours of senior football, turning out in the VFL and cracking in across multiple roles with his mature body. Sam Banks is the Tasmanian to watch, a smooth and classy half-back who is currently out with a broken wrist.

A strong South Australian crop is fronted by the likes of Nasiah Wanganeen and Jase Burgoyne. The latter is a Port Adelaide father-son who has made his League debut, but both have strong family ties to the elite level. Adelaide NGA prospect Isaiah Dudley is another in that boat, with the diminutive midfielder-forward showing his terrific skills upon returning this season. Sturt key forward Morgan Ferres could be another to monitor, having also earned a senior berth in 2021.

Of course, the form of North Adelaide midfielder Hugh Jackson is hard to ignore, with his clean skills and ball winning ability catching the eye. In a similar vein, the exploits of hard running Swan Districts midfielder Max Chipper have also been noted, along with Jackson’s Roosters teammate Blayne O’Loughlin. The latter is also an Adelaide NGA prospect and an AFL Academy representative.

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

21 elite top-age prospects have been named in the 2021 AFL Academy squad, as the AFL reverts back to a condensed nationwide program. Previously, the intake entailed as many as 150 talents from around the nation being nurtured in their state hubs, but with cost cutting at the hands of COVID-19 the traditional model will be reinstated.

The squad, coached by former Collingwood defender Tarkyn Lockyer, is set to play a game against a Victorian state league side and participate in camps during the year. Players are still set to be added to the list with a number of spots left vacant, as the AFL and club recruiters collaborate to finalise the intake.

Among the standouts, current pick one frontrunner Jason Horne joins the likes of Collingwood father-son hopeful Nick Daicos in the squad. Horne has already gained senior SANFL experience with South Adelaide and has a wide range of weapons, including his speed, ball winning ability, and aerial prowess. Daicos, the son of Peter, has all the skill his pedigree would suggest and enters the elite pathway with a great reputation in the APS competition under his belt.

Victorians dominate the squad with 10 selections, with a far less compromised top-end highlighting the lucky dip that is the AFL Draft. Aside from Daicos, Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide, father-son), Austin Harris (Gold Coast, Academy), and Ned Stevens (Gold Coast, Darwin zone) are the only other selections with ties to clubs. In another shift from this year’s cohort, it looks set to be a talent pool consisting largely of midfielders at the top end.

>> A look ahead: 21 in 2021
>> 2021 AFL Women’s Academy

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

Braden Andrews (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Banks (Tasmania/Clarence)
Rhett Bazzo (Western Australia/Swan Districts)
Jase Burgoyne (South Australia/Woodville West Torrens)
Campbell Chesser (Vic Country/Sandringham Dragons)
Nick Daicos (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT/GWS Academy)
Cooper Hamilton (Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers)
Austin Harris (Queensland/Gold Coast Academy)
Ben Hobbs (Vic Country/GWV Rebels)
Jason Horne (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Blake Howes (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Matthew Johnson (Western Australia/Subiaco)
Cooper Murley (South Australia/Norwood)
Josh Rachele (Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers)
Matthew Roberts (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Josh Sinn (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Tyler Sonsie (Vic Metro/Eastern Ranges)
Ned Stevens (Northern Territory/Waratah/Gold Coast Academy)
Jacob Van Rooyen (Western Australia/Claremont)
Jack Williams (Western Australia/East Fremantle)

Featured Image: Joshua Rachele looms as a top prospect in 2021 | Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

Preseason testing results: Which State has the best hops?

THE current sporting hiatus serves as somewhat of an extended preseason for the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects, who will be itching to get back on the field. Aside from a few scratch matches on the eve of Round 1, much of the 2020 class has had little in the way of competition thus far.

But preseason testing always serves to get the competitive juices flowing, with players from each region and academy coming together to test where they rate athletically. Rookie Me hosted the preseason testing in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, while the AFL completed testing in Western Australia and NSW/ACT.

In our next analysis of the results from those days around the country, we take a look at the standing and running vertical jump scores and try to answer the question of ‘Which State has the best hops?’. We have compiled the top 10 scores from each State, an overall top 10, and averages from around the nation to help answer the question.

>> SCROLL DOWN FOR THE OVERALL TOP 10’s

>> CATCH UP ON PREVIOUS RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo test

STATE TOP 10’s

NEW SOUTH WALES

Standing Vertical Jump:

1. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 80cm
=2. Gaige Saunders (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 76cm
=2. Lenny Robin (Sydney Swans Academy) – 76cm
4. Jordan Endemann (Sydney Swans Academy) – 69cm
=5. Macauley Smith (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 68cm
=5. Hamish Gilmore (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 68cm
=7. Jack Driscoll (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 67cm
=7. Alexander Kourakis (Sydney Swans Academy) – 67cm
=7. Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans Academy) – 67cm
10. Noah Clarke (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 66cm

Top 10 Average: 70.4cm
State Average:
59.8cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 83cm
2. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 80cm
=3. Austin Ball (Sydney Swans Academy) – 79cm
=3. Jacob Bauer (Sydney Swans Academy) – 79cm
=5. Macauley Smith (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 78cm
=5. Jordan Endemann (Sydney Swans Academy) – 78cm
7. Isaiah Olsen (Sydney Swans Academy) – 77cm
=8. Maximus Monaghan (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 75cm
=8. Kye Pfrengle (Sydney Swans Academy) – 75cm
=8. Thomas Longmire (Sydney Swans Academy) – 75cm

Top 10 Average: 77.9cm
State Average: 
66.2cm

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Eddie Marning (Sydney Swans Academy) – 89cm
2. Kye Pfrengle (Sydney Swans Academy) – 86cm
=3. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 85cm
=3. Matthew McKenzie (Sydney Swans Academy) – 85cm
=5. Coopa Steele (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 83cm
=5. Hamish Gilmore (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 83cm
=7. Scott Brown (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 82cm
=7. Lenny Robin (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 82cm
9. Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 81cm
=10. 80cm x3

Top 10 Average: 83.6cm
State Average: 
71.5cm

QUEENSLAND

Standing Vertical Jump:

1. Jack Briskey (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 77cm
2. Ethan Kerr (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 73cm
3. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 72cm
4. Jayren Willie (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 71cm
=5. Damon Eastwell (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 69cm
=5. Caleb Hammond (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 69cm
=7. Jack Willis (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 68cm
=7. Nathan Davis (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 68cm
=9. Reed Maskell-Dobbin (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 67cm
=10. 66cm x2

Top 10 Average: 70cm
State Average:
60.1cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 85cm
=2. Shaye Walsh (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 83cm
=2. Jed Foggo (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 83cm
=4. Finn Brown (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 82cm
=4. Jack Willis (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 82cm
6. James Packer (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 80cm
7. Damon Eastwell (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 79cm
8. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 77cm
9. Charlie Bowes (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 76cm
10. Jayren Willie (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 75cm

Top 10 Average: 80.2cm
State Average: 68.4cm

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 93cm
2. Jack Briskey (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 90cm
3. Damon Eastwell (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 87cm
4. Lochlan Harrop (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 86cm
5. Kuot Thok (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 85cm
=6. Reed Maskell-Dobbin (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 82cm
=6. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 82cm
8. Jack Willis (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 81cm
=9. Bodhi Uwland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 80cm
=9. Nathan Davis (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 80cm

Top 10 Average: 84.6cm
State Average: 71.6cm

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Standing Vertical Jump:

1. Harvey Bock (West Adelaide) – 75cm
=2. Jordan Kasianowicz (WWT) – 73cm
=2. Nick Tape (South Adelaide) – 73cm
=2. Henry Read (Sturt) – 73cm
=5. Liam Ueding (WWT) – 71cm
=5. Bailey Griffiths (West Adelaide) – 71cm
=5. Logan Mulady (North Adelaide) – 71cm
=5. Samuel Duke (Norwood) – 71cm
=5. Tom Powell (Sturt) – 71cm
=10. 70cm x3

Top 10 Average: 71.9cm
State Average:
58.5cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. Matthew Borlace (Central District) – 92cm
=2. Jordan Kasianowicz (WWT) – 89cm
=2. Lachlan Jones (WWT) – 89cm
4. Tom Powell (Sturt) – 88cm
=5. Zabien Parker-Boers (Sturt) – 87cm
=5. Declan Hortle (Sturt) – 87cm
=7. Aston Woods (West Adelaide) – 86cm
=7. Lachlan Grubb (Central District) – 86cm
9. Henry Read (Sturt) – 84cm
=10. 81cm x2

Top 10 Average: 86.9cm
State Average:
66.1cm

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Henry Read (Sturt) – 91cm
=2. Kane Viska (Glenelg) – 90cm
=2. Lachlan Grubb (Central District) – 90cm
=4. Ned Walter (Sturt) – 89cm
=4. Tom Powell (Sturt) – 89cm
6. Elliott McNamara (North Adelaide) – 88cm
7. Zabien Parker-Boers (Sturt) – 87cm
=8. Jase Burgoyne (WWT) – 86cm
=8. Lachlan Jones (WWT) – 86cm
=8. Lewis Cowham (Central District) – 86cm

Top 10 Average: 88.2cm
State Average:
70.1cm

TASMANIA

Standing Vertical Jump:

=1. Sam Collins (North Hobart) – 68cm
=1. Darcy Gardner (Clarence) – 68cm
3. Isaac Chugg (Lauceston) – 67cm
=4. Will Peppin (North Hobart) – 63cm
=4. George McLeod (North Hobart) – 63cm
=4. Lachlan Blakemore (Penguin) – 63cm
7. Harry Ireland (North Hobart) – 62cm
=8. Jackson Callow (North Launceston) – 61cm
=8. Jared Dakin (Launceston) – 61cm
=10. 60cm x3

Top 10 Average: 63.6cm
State Average:
56.4cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. Isaac Chugg (Launceston) – 82cm
2. Dominic White (North Hobart) – 80cm
3. Harry Ireland (North Hobart) – 79cm
=4. Will Peppin (North Hobart) – 75cm
=4. Patrick Walker (North Hobart) – 75cm
6. Sam Collins (North Hobart) – 74cm
7. Blade Sulzberger (Prospect) – 73cm
=8. Jared Dakin (Launceston) – 72cm
=8. Darcy Gardner (Clarence) – 72cm
10. Oliver Davis (Clarence) – 71cm

Top 10 Average: 75.3cm
State Average:
64.8cm

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Will Peppin (North Hobart) – 86cm
2. Darcy Gardner (Clarence) – 83cm
3. Sam Tilley (Lauderdale) – 79cm
4. Jayden Hinds (Launceston) – 78cm
5. Isaac Chugg (Launceston) – 76cm
6. Jake Steele (North Hobart) – 75cm
7. Sam Collins (North Hobart) – 74cm
8. Sam Banks (Clarence) – 73cm
9. Lachlan Blakemore (Penguin) – 72cm
=10. 71cm x4

Top 10 Average: 76.7cm
State Average:
68.9cm

VICTORIA

Standing Vertical Jump:

1. Luke Gaudion (Eastern) – 84cm
2. Aidan Hare (Bendigo) – 76cm
=3. Josh Goater (Calder) – 73cm
=3. Jonah Potter (Northern) – 73cm
=3. Lachlan Carrigan (Sandringham) – 73cm
=6. Jonty Patrick (Calder) – 72cm
=6. Michael Ktona (Calder) – 72cm
=6. Giorgio Varagiannis (Oakleigh) – 72cm
=9. 71cm x3

Top 10 Average: 73.7cm
State Average:
57.2cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. Archie Perkins (Sandringham) – 92cm
2. Giorgio Varagiannis (Oakleigh) – 89cm
3. Luke Kelvie (Oakleigh) – 88cm
=4. Lachlan Bond (Bendigo) – 85cm
=4. Scott Bielby (Oakleigh) – 85cm
=4. Dominic Akuei (Northern) – 85cm
=4. Harrison Keeling (Eastern) – 85cm
=8. 84cm x4

Top 10 Average: 86.1cm
State Average:
67.3cm

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh) – 93cm
2. Dominic Bedendo (Murray) – 91cm
=3. Noah Walsh (Bendigo) – 90cm
=3. Giacomo Thomas (Calder) – 90cm
=3. Lachlan Godden (Oakleigh) – 90cm
=3. Luke Gaudion (Eastern) – 90cm
=7. Nash Reynolds (Western) – 89cm
=7. Sam Berry (Gippsland) – 89cm
=7. Joshua Gibcus (GWV) – 89cm
=7. Noah Gadsby (Geelong) – 89cm

Top 10 Average: 90cm
State Average:
72.2cm

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Standing Vertical Jump:

1. Tristan Hurford (Claremont) – 84cm
2. Seth Roberts (Claremont) – 82cm
3. Joel Western (Claremont) – 80cm
4. Zac Meloncelli (Perth) – 77cm
=5. Angus Fraser (South Fremantle) – 76cm
=5. Solomon James (South Fremantle) – 76cm
=5. Darcy Dixon (West Perth) – 76cm
=8. Aidan Hall (South Fremantle) – 75cm
=8. Caleb Stephens (South Fremantle) – 75cm
=8. Rohan Scurria (West Perth) – 75cm

Top 10 Average: 77.6cm
State Average:
58.3cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. Chayse Grabe-Paparone (Subiaco) – 100cm
2. Noah Farrow (West Perth) – 95cm
3. Bailey Jenkin (Swan Districts) – 92cm
=4. Zac Trigwell (Peel Thunder) – 91cm
=4. Zac Sanderson (Perth) – 91cm
6. Rohan Scurria (West Perth) – 89cm
=7. Joel Western (Claremont) – 88cm
=7. Corey Warner (East Fremantle) – 88cm
9. Jordan Berry (West Perth) – 87cm
=10. 86cm x3

Top 10 Average: 90.7cm
State Average:
66.7cm

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Tristan Hurford (Claremont) – 99cm
=2. Brandon Walker (East Fremantle) – 94cm
=2. James Sullivan (Swan Districts) – 94cm
=4.Seth Roberts (Claremont) – 92cm
=4. Angus Fraser (South Fremantle) – 92cm
6. Joel Western (Claremont) – 91cm
=7. 90cm x5

Top 10 Average: 92.2cm
State Average:
71.3cm

OVERALL TOP 10’s

Standing Vertical Jump:

=1. Tristan Hurford (Claremont) – 84cm
=1. Luke Gaudion (Eastern Ranges) – 84cm
3. Seth Roberts (Claremont) – 82cm
=4. Joel Western (Claremont) – 80cm
=4. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 80cm
=6. Jack Briskey (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 77cm
=6. Zac Meloncelli (Perth) – 77cm
=7. 76cm x6

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. Chayse Grabe-Paparone (Subiaco) – 100cm
2. Noah Farrow (West Perth) – 95cm
=3. Bailey Jenkin (Swan Districts) – 92cm
=3. Matthew Borlace (Central District) – 92cm
=3. Archie Perkins (Sandringham) – 92cm
=6. Zac Trigwell (Peel Thunder) – 91cm
=6. Zac Sanderson (Perth) – 91cm
=8. 89cm x4

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. Tristan Hurford (Claremont) – 99cm
=2. Brandon Walker (East Fremantle) – 94cm
=2. James Sullivan (Swan Districts) – 94cm
=4. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 93cm
=4. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh) – 93cm
=6. Seth Roberts (Claremont) – 92cm
=6. Angus Fraser (South Fremantle) – 92cm
=8. Henry Read (Sturt) – 91cm
=8. Dominic Bedendo (Murray) – 91cm
=8. Joel Western (Claremont) – 91cm

STATE AGAINST STATE AVERAGES

Standing Vertical Jump:

1. QLD – 60.1cm
2. NSW – 59.8cm
3. SA – 58.5cm
4. WA – 58.3cm
5. VIC – 57.2cm
6. TAS – 56.4cm

Running Vertical Jump (R):

1. QLD – 68.4cm
2. VIC – 67.3cm
3. WA – 66.7cm
4. NSW – 66.2cm
5. SA – 66.1cm
6. TAS – 64.8cm

Running Vertical Jump (L):

1. VIC – 72.2cm
2. QLD – 71.6cm
3. NSW – 71.5cm
4. WA – 71.3cm
5. SA – 70.1cm
6. TAS – 68.9cm

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – Vic Country vs. Western Australia

WESTERN Australia took out the AFL Under-18 National Championships title with a narrow victory over Vic Country thanks to a goal after the siren. We were on hand to note down some of the prominent players, with all notes opinion-based of the individual writer.

Vic Country:

By: Peter Williams

#2 Caleb Serong

Had one of the more quiet halves he has had on the big stage with just four touches in the first half against Western Australia. Visibly frustrated as he came to the bench at one point in the second term, Serong came out with intent in the second half to pick up 12 touches and finish with 16 by the final siren. Only the one effective kick, but buried himself under the packs and won 10 contested possessions and four hardball gets. Not the best game overall, but he was able to inspire his team more in the second half and it was a key reason Country got back in the contest. His overall carnival was superb and he throughly deserved his Country Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and All Australian honours.

#4 Sam Flanders

Was one of the more dominant Vic Country players early, but let himself down by foot in the first half, with four clangers by half-time. He was winning the ball in tight and able to get it out to his teammates and keep it moving, but found himself under pressure when at defensive stoppages and had to throw in on the boot. After half-time he was sharper by foot and ended up with a team-high 24 touches and seven clearances as the dominant inside midfielder on the Country side. He almost had a quarter of his team’s clearances and continued what was a marvellous carnival with an All Australian jumper.

#9 Isaac Wareham

Underrated performance by the GWV Rebels’ midfielder who while he made some mistakes, kept trying to take the game on and would have been high up there with metres gained. He almost created a highlight-reel burst out of the middle at one point but just slipped with a bounce and had to rush to get it out, and on another occasion was sold into trouble by a teammate. As a whole, he was one of the better Country players and he has good vision that sets up teammates laterally and opens up scoring opportunities. He looked most comfortable on the wing and was able to execute the kick inside the corridor, and also provide some opportunities for teammates going forward.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Like many of his teammates, he seemed a tad off in the first half with a couple of clangers – something that no-one associates Ash with given his elite kicking skills. He shook that off in the third term, as he burst off half-back, won a one-on-one against Liam Henry, took on the opposition and then with a dart inside 50 hit-up Brodie Kemp for a goal reminiscent of last week’s match winner against South Australia. His foot skills in the second half were back to what we have come to know from the exciting runner, and he and Hayden Young’s slicing kicks were forcing Western Australia onto the back foot. Finished with a team-high eight rebounds, five more than his next highest teammate.

#13 Jay Rantall

Just kept buzzing around the stoppages and running all day, using quick hands in close and when in space to open up opportunities for teammates. Knowing his own strengths, Rantall executed under pressure handballs to good effect and went in hard to win a team-high amount of hardball gets. He also was able to win a number of important clearances around the ground and had a flying shot on the goal to create something out of nothing, but missed.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Another standout game for Country and continues his ascent up draft boards with some crucial marks inside 50. He booted two goals from four scoring shots, and always threatened to be a danger in the air. One of the few consistent Country performers across the game, Kemp spent a lot of time on the inside and then went forward, winning 11 contested possessions and taking two contested marks. His strength in the air or at ground level was clear, and he was able to pump the ball inside 50 on numerous occasions. While he still made some mistakes by foot, Kemp was another player who took risks and was willing to put it on the line to try and win the championships for Country. A deserving All Australian member.

#17 Hayden Young

When Young hit-up a Western Australian opponent 40m out with a short kick from deep in defence under limited pressure, it was clear Vic County were not on their game early. Similar to Ash, Young and clanger kicks do not belong in the same sentence, and he fixed that in the second half with some terrific long bombs to find teammates in difficult positions but made it look easy with his ability. One kick that exemplified what Young is capable of came in the final term when under pressure he kicked 40m across his body inboard, over a few West Australian opponents to land in the lap of the running Isaac Wareham who did not need to break stride. Also collected an All Australian jumper for his carnival.

#36 Sam De Koning

The tall defender was Country’s best player if you take into account all four quarters. When very few were standing up, he was repelling attacks in the back 50 with strong intercept marks and rebounds out of defence. He came in with timely spoils on the lead and was able to nullify his opponents one-on-one. He also settled down the defence and kicked long out of the back half, though did make mistakes by foot. De Koning was at his best when able to drop back and take a settling mark then set up plays from defence to attack.

Western Australia:

By: Lenny Fogliani

#4 Riley Garcia

Until he injured his knee midway through the first quarter, Garcia was arguably Western Australia’s best player. He provided a heap of energy and zip around the contest and proved to be a damaging link-up player. His final statistics were seven possessions, three clearances and two tackles.

#5 Liam Henry

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy member increased his draft stocks with another exquisite performance. Against the ‘Big V’, Henry racked up 25 possessions, took six marks, recorded five rebounds, laid five tackles and produced four inside 50s. His mercurial ability to weave his way around opposition pressure, before composing himself and finding a team-mate in space, is extraordinary for someone his age.

#7 Nathan O’Driscoll

Another bottom-age prospect, O’Driscoll was brilliant on the half-back line for the Sandgropers. He finished with 21 possessions, six tackles, four marks, four inside 50s and two rebounds, providing good zip on the outside and damaging run forward.

#10 Deven Robertson

The WA Under 18 captain continued his magnificent campaign that saw him win the Larke Medal and the WA U18 MVP. Against Vic Country, he accumulated a game-high 28 possessions, laid eight tackles, won six clearances and recorded six inside 50s to be WA’s best player. His contested possessions and clearance work were outstanding and pivotal for WA’s victory.

#12 Regan Clarke

The match winner – Clarke will go down in WA history after he kicked the winning goal with five seconds to go in the final quarter. After taking the mark, Clarke was able to duly convert his set shot to give WA its first Championships triumph since 2009. But he was also fantastic throughout the game, finishing with 14 possessions, seven marks, three inside 50s and two tackles.

#14 Chad Warner

The Willetton product was busy in the midfield for the Sandgropers, often throwing himself into stoppages to win the contested possession for his team. He finished with 22 possessions, six inside 50s, five tackles, four clearances, and three marks. Warner shares similar traits to West Coast star Jack Redden – both are clearance machines and get the ball going forward for their respective teams.

#17 Jeremy Sharp

The reigning All-Australian put forward his best game for the WA at this year’s Championships. Against Vic Country he finished with 20 possessions, 11 marks, and a goal. His penetrating kicking, line-breaking ability and composure with ball in hand were all on display.

#21 Jake Pasini

The no-nonsense defender produced another solid performance for the Sandgropers. Lined up on Josh Smith, Pasini only gathered seven possessions and took two marks, but restricted Smith to five possessions and no goals.

#32 Luke Jackson

The runner-up in this year’s Larke Medal, Jackson showed why he is considered to be the best ruckman in this year’s draft pool. He accumulated 19 possessions, won 37 hitouts, five clearances, recorded five inside 50s, took three marks and laid two tackles to be one of the most influential players for Western Australia. His follow-up work and ability to cover the ground are elite for a ruckman his age.

#36 Denver Grainger-Barras

The bottom-ager was excellent in defence for the Sandgropers, often thwarting many of Vic Country’s attacking forays. Stationed at centre half-back and opposed to Elijah Hollands, Grainger-Barras accumulated 13 possessions and took eight marks, while Hollands gathered 14 possessions but failed to kick a goal.

Western Australia dashes Vic Metro’s title hopes with 17-point win

WESTERN Australia (WA) got its AFL Under 18 Championships off to the perfect start with a 17-point victory over Vic Metro at Lathlain Park.

WA 2.6 | 4.9 | 9.12 | 12.14 (86)
VIC METRO 2.2 | 4.5 | 5.7 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS
WA:
Henry 3, Johnson 2, Taylor 2, Thorne 2, Bennell, Rivers.
VM: Worrell 4, Jones 2, Rowell, Bianco, Honey, Dean.

BEST
WA:
Robertson, L. Jackson, Garcia, Rivers, Ruscoe, Pasini, Henry, Sharp, Taylor, Warner
VM: Rowell, Worrell, Mott, Butler, Sturgess, McAsey, Bianco

WA got off to a blistering start when Elijah Taylor took a strong contested mark inside 50 on the end of a Riley Garcia pass. Taylor went back and coolly slotted the first goal of the game, but Josh Worrell scored the reply for the visitors. WA then missed a host of chances, and Harrison Jones made them pay when he slotted Vic Metro’s second goal of the game. Late in the quarter, Jarvis Pina won himself a free kick, played on immediately and speared a pass to Callum Jamieson. Jamieson in turn, then found Jai Jackson inside 50. Jackson duly converted his set shot to give the Sandgropers a four-point lead at quarter time.

At the start of the second quarter, Liam Henry out-marked his opponent before playing on and drilling through his first goal of the game. Under siege for a period, Vic Metro tried to rebound the ball out of their defensive 50 via a number of handballs, but came unstuck when Ryan Bennell stole the ball off them, weaved his way past a couple of defenders and nailed another goal for WA. Matt Rowell and Worrell both kicked late goals to keep Vic Metro within touching distance of the home team.

After the main break, the Sandgropers came out firing with Trent Rivers kicking a long-range bomb in the second minute of the third term. Defender Ben Johnson then nailed two goals from outside 50 after receiving handballs from players who had just taken marks. Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne both kicked goals soon after to give the home team a five goal lead at three quarter time.

Taylor produced a moment of magic early in the last quarter, when he gathered the ball, evaded an opponent, shrugged off another opponent and kicked brilliant snap from 50 metres. Worrell (twice) and Josh Honey kicked goals for the visitors, but Thorne and Henry both scored instant replies to push the margin back out to 23 points. In the dying stages of the game, Trent Bianco kicked a consolation goal for the visitors.

Captain Deven Robertson led the way for the Sandgropers with 31 possessions, seven clearances, five rebound 50s, five marks and four inside 50s. He was well supported by Garcia (21 possessions and seven clearances), Luke Jackson (12 possessions, 35 hit-outs and six clearances) and Rivers (22 possessions and a goal).

For Vic Metro, Rowell showed why he is considered a top three prospect, trying his heart out in the middle to will his team over the line. He finished with 24 possessions, eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal. Other notable performers for the Big V included Worrell (18 possessions, six marks and four goals), Daniel Mott (24 possessions and eight clearances) and Louis Butler (23 possessions and seven rebounding 50s).

Next week WA host South Australia at Optus Stadium, while Vic Metro will use the bye to try and freshen up for their encounter with the Croweaters at Alberton Oval in Round 3 of the AFL Under 18 National Championships.

Scouting notes: AFLU18 Championships – Vic Metro vs. Vic Country

A Victorian derby opened the 2019 Under 18 National Championships, with the Country side coming away with an upset 9.10 (64) to 7.9 (51) win over their Metro counterparts. We had five scouts cast eyes over all 46 players who graced the hallowed MCG turf, and here are their opinion-based notes on how each prospect fared.

Vic Country:

#1-10 by Craig Byrnes
#12-32 by Peter Williams
#34-40 by Ed Pascoe

#1 Ned Cahill

The nifty and clever Stingray’s small forward was arguably one of the most influential players on the ground, but did so with less fanfare than the likes of Young, Ash and Serong. He showcased the disciplined Vic Country standards early with a big tackle in the centre to earn a free kick and an unselfish goal assist to Smith in the first term to get things started. While he didn’t utilise two good chances to hit targets inside 50 when in space during the second term, he barely made another error for the rest of the day as his elite smarts and decision making took control. It was highlighted by two brilliantly read crumbs that he finished off superbly with dual snaps off his left in the second half. He also got the ball to Flanders inside 50 in the final term to end with a match high four score assists and two goals from his 16 disposals.

#2 Caleb Serong

The Vic Country co-captain set the early intensity level for his teammates with physical, two way football from the midfield in the first term. He made life as difficult as possible for the Vic Metro big names, earning a holding the ball free on Rowell in the opening stages of the match. He refused to give in until the ball was out of his area, highlighted by a multiple tackle effort in the second quarter on the wing that eventually won Country the ball back. He also made them accountable, winning first possession at the stoppages and running to dangerous ball winning positions. Serong’s trademark cleanliness stood out as usual, his hands sharp and precise in tight situations. While he uncharacteristically let some kicks hang longer than hoped, his ball use in general was very good. One of the best performers in the winner’s corner, finishing with 22 disposals, five clearances and seven tackles.

#3 Cody Weightman

The exciting small forward took time to get into the game with a quiet first half, but came to life in the third term to display his quality AFL attributes. His confidence got a boost when flying for a mark at half back and earning a free kick, which triggered a flurry of touches on the lead or in space forward of centre. He worked hard to get in offensive positions, but unfortunately let himself down with ball in hand, operating at only 30% by foot including some turnovers in dangerous rebounding positions. He produced some brilliance in between though, highlighted by an excellent contested mark on the lead in the third term, before turning and hitting Josh Smith inside 50. This guy has serious ability, looking forward to seeing what he can produce throughout the competition.

#4 Sam Flanders

It did not take long to recognise that Leigh Brown’s focus was about pressure and Sam Flanders made that intention clear from the start. The superb chase down of Ryan Sturgess in the first quarter that resulted in a goal made the belief real and potentially cemented the buy in from every player if it wasn’t already. His pressure at the contest was outstanding, finishing with a game high nine tackles, but he also continued his rich reign of ball winning form at Gippsland with 21 disposals. He had his usual stints forward, kicking a vital fourth quarter set shot goal to keep a comfortable margin. Can still tidy his kicking up, but it was an important contribution by the talented forward/mid.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi has been in outstanding since returning to the Gippsland fold from injury, collecting large disposal tallies at will with his nous at the stoppages. For Country he was part of later midfield rotations and still won plenty of footy, despite not producing his usually prolific contested and clearance numbers. He found most of his possessions on the outside by receiving on the outskirts of contests and running to space. Despite a poor handball turnover in the first quarter, he typically finished with composure as proven with a classy kick inside 50 to Smith shortly after. It was a solid outing for Baldi, ending with 19 possessions, of which 15 were uncontested.

#7 Mitch Martin

Playing a high percentage of minutes forward, Martin had a modest first half despite producing a nice moment in the second quarter where he weaved through traffic and placed a quick kick inside 50 to advantage. But it was in the third term when he became truly relevant, starting with a slick handball over his head to a teammate. From there, the ball began to follow him and he took advantage with a couple of threatening inside 50s. He almost kicked a ridiculous set shot goal from the corner of the boundary and 50 metre arc, but was touched on the line. He has some tricks and can sell some attractive candy. Martin got out the back for a goal in the final term to complete a creative second half.

#8 Thomson Dow

You could make a very strong case that Thomson Dow was the best player on the ground up to half-time. To that point he had collected 15 disposals, doing heavy work inside at the stoppages and finding space on the outside. He was particularly slick by hand, raising his arms and releasing with impressive vision. We didn’t see nearly as much of him in the third and fourth terms, managed only three disposals after the main break. Despite the quieter second half, what we did see is a player who is currently too far down many draft boards. The brother of Carlton’s Paddy can definitely play.

#10 Harrison Pepper

The Hawthorn NGA prospect took time to get into the contest from the wing, but got busy in the second quarter. He won a couple of excellent one on one ground balls, using his frame to advantage and got the ball forward on each occasion. His kicking and decision making was tentative at times, especially during the third term when he took a mark 30 metres out from goal and floated a short pass to the disadvantage of a teammate 15-20 metres away. He has worked extremely hard on his running capacity over the last 12 months or so and that has resulted in excellent on-field improvement. He will be better for the run at the standard.

#12 Lachlan Ash

One of the better Country players on the day, overcoming an early turnover to hit 13 of his remaining 14 kicks through some terrific vision. Not only was he able to hit targets all over the ground, but he took the game on and would have been one of the highest metres gained players. Ash showed poise and composure coming out of defence and pushing up the ground, particularly stepping up in the last quarter with the game on the line and Metro pushing hard. He was able to set up goal opportunities to Josh Smith and Ned Cahill, and opened up the game with terrific in-board kicks.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was one of the more consistent Country midfielders and worked hard through the inside. He is able to get his hands free from would-be tacklers, and started to get moving more in the middle of the game. He laid some important tackles and was able to get quick-fire handballs out to teammates such as Riley Baldi in the first term with a nice handball, and then snap round his body for a goal assist to Charlie Comben. He then set up a second goal late in the game to Rebels’ teammate Mitch Martin. Had a chance himself in the third quarter after pushing hard to the forward pocket but was thrown off it. An impressive game once again.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Gave a four quarter effort and was constantly on the move. His kicking in the first term was a little shaky, but once he worked into the game he had a bigger impact on the game. His final quarter saw him remarkably win a one-on-one contest against the much stronger and taller Noah Anderson with good body position, and won his fair share of the ball in the second half when Country needed players to stand up.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Was an intercept machine who took the game on out of defence and often was spotted bursting out from half-back and down the middle. He won a free kick early against Charlie Dean, and saved a number of goals, including one in the first term, rushing it through. His kicking was a worry at times, making a number of errors when he was running off half-back. His strengths were his overhead marking and his one-on-one work, marking against the much taller Nick Bryan through good positioning. A courageous grab against Jack Mahony where both players committed was another highlight in the final term.

#17 Hayden Young

The best on ground running defender was absolutely elite in his ball use with his kicking out of defence, penetrating long kicks and intercept marking a delight. Young was a real headache for the Metro side, getting to the point where he was spinning out of trouble and hitting up targets in the middle of the ground with his non-preferred right foot. He rarely made errors with his disposal and apart from a clumsy high free kick to Dylan Williams, had a near perfect game. Just so dominant and a key to Country’s chances this year.

#18 Brady Rowles

Not a huge disposal winner, with just the nine touches for the game, but has some nice eye-catching moments. He is able to dispose of the ball under pressure, whilst applying defensive pressure himself to opposition players. He has great hands in tight which were on show when he fed the handball out to Jay Rantall to set up a goal from Charlie Comben in the first term.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Not overly impactful offensively, but defensively he was very good. His tackling pressure locked up a number of balls throughout the game, and he was able to get his hands free when tackles late in the game. He missed a shot on goal tight in the pocket on the run in the second term, but his big highlight was a massive hardball get in the final term, using hands to give it to Lachlan Ash in the middle and set up a scoring opportunity.

#20 Elijah Hollands

So exciting and not only does he have the offensive capabilities, but works hard defensively as well, laying a number of huge tackles in the forward half. Hollands has lightning hands in congestion and is able to win the hardball and quickly dish off to a teammate before being dispossessed. He had a huge highlight in the second term with an unbelievable goal out of nothing from a forward stoppage, roving Charlie Comben and booting the goal from just inside 50 close to the boundary line.

#24 Brock Smith

A quiet game from the Gippsland Power game, but won a free kick one-on-one against Dylan Williams in the third term, and was composed with ball in hand, mostly handballing to teammates to run out in space.

#26 Jesse Clark

A statless first term, but Clark really work into the game after quarter time, taking a number of good marks and rebounding out of the defensive half. He showed a good second effort when taking a mark, was smothered and then won it back. He positioned himself well in front of his opponents when one-on-one.

#32 Ben Worme

Just the three touches from Worme in a quiet game. He did rush a behind late in the game when under pressure which was clever.

#34 Bigoa Nyoun

Nyoun played a solid game rotating in the ruck, he did well to get involved around the ground taking multiple marks and often choosing to hand off to a running teammate. There was a good bit of play in the first quarter despite not taking the mark he would recover well to take the ball cleanly and give off a handball, his last half was strongest with a nice pass inside 50 and a nice intercept mark and quick pass inside 50. A very good contributor who competed well in the ruck and did some good things around the ground.

#36 Sam De Koning

De Koning was a strong interceptor in defence taking four nice intercept marks with one coming in the first quarter deep in defence and another really strong mark late in the game, De Koning was very clean throughout the game never fumbling and using the ball well by hand especially in one bit if play in the second quarter where he would pick out a long 15 metre handball under pressure and it was a feat in itself to even find the option from where he was at. De Koning was the standout tall defender for Country with his good marking and ball use.

#39 Josh Smith

Smith was the most dangerous forward early on kicking two first quarter goals; one from an uncontested mark 10 metres out and a holding free kick deep in the pocket where he would slot a nice goal, he could have kicked three goals after a nice lead up mark but would miss the set shot. His third goal would be his best taking the ball in mid air right on the line and kicking a great goal quickly dropping the ball on his boot. He did not hit the scoreboard in the second half but he took a great contested mark against Ryan Sturgess but would miss the set shot, he also rotated in the ruck at times and competed well taking a nice intercept mark in defence.

#40 Charlie Comben

Comben had a hard task rucking against the in form ruck this year in Nick Bryan, but Comben not only competed well all day, but really showed good aggression and enthusiasm throughout the match to win the battle. He had a great bit of play in the first quarter taking a strong mark deep in the forwardline and then quickly playing on and kicking a goal. Comben worked even harder in the second quarter taking a strong intercept mark and quickly playing on with a kick inboard and he did well late in the game with a good strong tackle inside 50 winning a free kick but missing the set shot on the siren. A high energy game from Comben who showed of his athletic attributes and aggression around the ground.

 

Vic Metro:

#1-19 by Michael Alvaro
#20-26 by Scott Dougan
#29-40 by Ed Pascoe

#1 Jack Mahony

It was workman-like display from Mahony, who played a key role in the heavy Metro midfield/forward rotation. Starting inside 50, Mahony looked most effective when working up the ground – using his admirable work rate to create distance from his opponent and find the ball in space. He is clean at ground level, and showed as much with a few nice gathers early on and clean clearances later, while his kicking also looked more on point in the first half. The Sandringham gun’s leadership was also on display with audible talk around traffic, and he put his body on the line in a bone-crunching contest going back with the flight in the third term. Supplied Dragons teammate Finn Maginness with a goal in the final quarter to cap off a solid 15-disposal day.

#5 Trent Bianco

While the Oakleigh leader did not always look his usual damaging self, Bianco still had some nice moments. Was very quiet in the opening term and struggled to get any kind of running game going early off half-back, which in all fairness had a lot to do with Country’s manic pressure. Bianco was unlucky not to find more of the ball as he positioned well when breaking from stoppages and ran to the right places to receive on the outside, but was hardly found. Showed off his typical kicking penetration with a nice ball going inside 50 and flicked out some nice deft handballs in the clinches to show his class in the second and third terms. Bianco seemed to be most effective with his overlap runs late on, and put in a good push to get Metro back in the game with efficient use across defensive 50.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa managed to get a run in the stacked Metro midfield, but spent most of his time at half forward having already proven his ability to compete at either end. By no means had a massive disposal output (13), but the Northern midfielder showcased his clean set of hands at ground level when called upon and was all class in traffic. Had about four attempts on goal throughout the match – with two snaps and a set shot falling short, while another went out on the full – so could have otherwise had a greater influence. Ended up spending some time off half back in the second half, and looks to be one who will be called upon in multiple roles throughout the carnival.

#11 Matt Rowell

The list of superlatives to describe Rowell is running thin at this point on the back of yet another dominant outing. While his midfield partnership with close mate Noah Anderson could not quite drag Metro over the line, the two were simply outstanding. Rowell’s balanced game was on show as the Chargers gun went about pressuring his opposition without the ball, while also breaking away from traffic with it. Rowell did not find the goals while resting forward, but he still managed to snare a major from the goalsquare in the third term after creating forward movement from an inside 50 stoppage. He also sparked the move for Finn Maginness’ goal with a burst away from congestion on defensive wing – a play which was largely symbolic of his whole performance. A somewhat underrated aspect of Rowell’s game is his strong overhead marking, but he again showed his ability to prize the ball in the air with some courageous attempts. The comparisons to Joel Selwood will likely continue to roll on too, with pictures of Rowell bloodied up on the bench shown on the big screen. A big-time performer – 28 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s, and one goal.

#13 Daniel Mott

Mott started brightly and looked like taking the chance he was afforded at the centre bounces to full effect. The classy Calder ball-user showed off a good bit of vision to find Jack Mahony back through the corridor early on, and was in the thick of the action. While Mott’s output slowed as the game progressed, he would catch the eye with glimpses of his usual self – side-stepping well in the second term, booting well inside 50 from a clearance to find Josh Worrell, and flicking out a deft handball to Trent Bianco amid oncoming traffic. Was another to rest forward but looks to be an effective point of difference to Metro’s largely inside midfield.

#15 Louis Butler

Butler made the half-back flank his own, and was the designated Metro kicker out of defence – both with kick-ins and further afield. Usually a penetrating and reliable kick, Butler was uncharacteristically let down by that area of his game on occasion with four noticeable clangers across the day. Much like in the case of Trent Bianco, Butler also struggled at times to generate effective run in the face of Country’s pressure, but you could not fault his effort as he racked up 24 disposals and seven rebound 50s. Showed positive signs early with his composure on the last line of defence, and he took a nice pair of intercept marks. Butler also had a purple patch in the final term as he delivered well through the corridor on two occasions with kicks more typical of his class, and he was one to take the game on when his side needed it. Had a humorous moment in the third term where he looked to have been tripped up by the goal umpire, stiff.

#16 Darcy Cassar

Cassar diverted back to the role which helped him come to the fore in his NAB League debut as a 16-year-old – making a menace of himself at half-forward. The Keilor product made a terrific start, finding Western teammate Josh Honey with a neat kick inside 50 to help Metro put the first goal on the board. Donning the #16 of Jets graduate Cam Rayner, Cassar sharked a smart read off hands and finished well on they dribble in an effort the now-Brisbane gun would be proud of. Cassar also showed a zippy first five steps through traffic, and was clean in gathering tricky balls at ground level. Was eventually moved to the defensive position he has become used to for Western this season, but had an indifferent start when he lost direct opponent Sam Flanders and could only watch as the Country star converted a crucial goal. Was otherwise composed in the back half and looked most effective when given space. Would love to see more of him up forward.

#18 Lachie Potter

It was a pretty typical Lachie Potter game, with the speedy Northern half-back looking to cause headaches with damaging forward run. Is hardly a massive accumulator, with the 15-disposal mark he hit usually a marker for one of his better games. Potter’s impact is not calculated by pure numbers though, and he caught the eye with repeated take-ons and some impressive overhead marks which added to his game. Was matched up as the deepest defender as Country looked to thwart his influence, but Potter still found a way to get on his mazey runs. Is often let down by his end product though – especially at full speed – but tended to handball more and was more effective as a result. Had an unfortunate fumble inside defensive 50 when a bounce didn’t quite come back to him, and is still ironing out those mistakes in his game.

#19 Josh Honey

Honey looked like returning to his best form when he converted the first goal of the game from a set shot, but tended to fade out the game after that point. Still showed some glimpses of his class with a couple of nice one-on-one wins, and an eye-catching spin out of trouble with two Country opponents close-by. Led well up the ground from half-forward and has shown he has plenty of upside.

#20 Connor Downie

Downie played predominately on the wing and did his best to provide some run and carry. He did not win much of the ball but when he did, he was able to put his penetrating left foot to good use. Downie finished with nine disposals and four marks. Still a bottom-ager which is rare for a Metro side, Downie will be better for the experience.

#21 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith played through the midfield and caught the eye in the first quarter when he won an important one-on-one contest by bringing the ball to ground and winning possession. He would then drive the ball inside 50 to the advantage of his teammates. His footy smarts were also on display in the second quarter when he decided it would be best to ‘soccer kick’ a ground ball to teammate Jack Mahony, which was effective.

#22 Miles Bergman

Bergman won a few touches early and laid a couple of good tackles. One of his best passages of play came in the second term when he took a really good contested grab against two others that somehow, wasn’t paid by the field umpire. Bergman had a very promising second half, winning a lot of the ball and booting a brilliant snap-goal in the final seconds of the match. He had a very good all-around game and did all the little things extremely well. Bergman had 16 disposals, four marks, and three tackles.

#23 Dylan Williams

Williams was quiet early but slowly worked his way into the game in the second quarter. He had two shots on goal within minutes, but both failed to register a score. Williams went off half-way through the term after coping a big knock and looked very sore. He would return shortly after, but he was still clearly struggling. He would spend a lot of the time on the bench in the second half. Williams has the potential to turn games instantly, and that’s what makes him such a dangerous player, especially in the forward half.

#24 Noah Anderson

The potential number one pick was instantly involved, laying the first tackle of the game and would then win the first clearance. His hands in tight were superb. Anderson won 14 disposals in the first half and was prolific around stoppages. In the second term, he would win a centre clearance with one of his arms being held, showcasing his strength in the contest and fantastic hand-eye coordination. Anderson’s defensive work was also fantastic, laying eight tackles for the match. His work-rate and competitiveness were why he was one of the standout performers for Metro.

#25 Finn Maginness

Maginness was one of his teams’ best midfielders, winning 15 possessions and five clearances on the day. His impact defensively in the first half was eye-catching, and he finished with a game-high nine tackles. He was exceptionally clean at ground level and his foot skills were noticeable. Maginness demonstrated composure with ball in hand and his vision was impressive, with the classy midfielder finding a teammate out of the corner of his eye in the third term. He would hit the scoreboard late in the fourth term when he ran into an open goal after running hard into space.

#26 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess had his work cut out for him, along with a lot of the Metro’s defenders on the day. His marking ability and strong hands definitely stood out, taking five marks. His ball use by foot was sometimes questionable, but he never stopped trying and battled on throughout the match. Sturgess read the play well and his defensive spoiling was encouraging.

#29 Fischer McAsey

McAsey was a wall in defence all day taking intercept marks at will and showing good composure and skill with the ball coming from defence. He would kick a goal in the third quarter after taking a strong intercept mark on the wing and winning a 50 metre penalty, he showed a good set shot routine showing he could also make a good forward especially with his marking ability. He was near unstoppable in the last quarter taking three strong intercept marks and moving the ball on quickly usually favouring a switch kick. McAsey is making an early case as the best key defender in the 2019 draft.

#30 Harrison Jones

Jones played forward and kicked his only goal in the first quarter from a lead up mark showing a good set shot routine, Jones lead up well as a tall target all day despite being very light he still worked hard to be a target. He did some really nice things in the last quarter showing unselfishness to block for teammate Maginess to run into open goal and continuing to take lead up marks and picking the ball up nice at ground level showing his athleticism.

#31 Josh Worrell

Worrell started well taking a good intercept mark in the first quarter and quickly playing on with a long kick, his hands overhead and ground level were a feature and he had a nice spin out of trouble showing his mobility. He was sore after a collision in the 3rd quarter but would go forward in the last quarter and take a nice strong mark on the lead although missing the long shot at goal, he would later take more nice marks showing his versatility in playing at either end.

#34 Charlie Dean

Dean had a tough day at the office playing well but not getting the reward, Dean looked composed and clean early showing good composure tight on the boundary in the first quarter to release a handball and had a fantastic pick up and then good handball. Dean had two chances to hit the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter taking a strong contested mark against De Koning but would miss the set shot and later on would show good composure under pressure but just miss the goal in general play. Dean was involved in the last quarter laying a good smother and taking a lead up mark and delivering a beautiful low pass inside 50 to teammate Ralphsmith who would kick the final goal of the game.

#37 Andrew Courtney

Courtney was the ruck rotation from the bench and he competed well when he got the chance winning a few nice hitouts. Courtney didn’t get a lot of the ball but worked hard to get forward of centre a few times to get involved and link up with teammates.

#38 Brodie Newman

Newman despite a shaky start really worked into the game to be on of Metro’s better players playing in defence, had a poor contest early not manning the mark well enough for Comben to run into open goal but his work in defence for the next 3 quarters was outstanding intercepting at will at times especially his second quarter where he was heavily involved defending and attacking equally well. Had a good bit of play in the third quarter laying a good spoil on Josh Smith and then would gather the ball and show good composure under pressure, he had another good play in the last quarter going for a dash and showing his good speed for his size.

#40 Nick Bryan

Bryan did not have an absolute standout game but he was still able to show his talent and why he is highly regarded as a ruckman in this years draft. Bryan showed good agility, smarts and ball use with ball in hand which was certainly above average for a ruckman and his best bit of play came in the third quarter laying a good spoil then receiving a handball and handballing well himself and then getting the ball back again to lower his eyes with a lovely kick to Oakleigh teammate Matt Rowell, it was a great chain that showed of his ball use and smarts. His tap work was also good timing his jumps well and often competing well.

Scouting notes: Allies vs. Victoria trials

THE 50-man Allies squad split in two on Sunday to take on Victoria Country and Metro in a couple of trial games as each squad nears completion in the lead up to the National Championships on Saturday at the MCG. We had eyes on both matches at Ikon Park, and here are our opinion-based notes on some of the standout players from each side.

Allies:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Errol Gulden

Had a mixed bag with some slick kicks, as well as some very uncharacteristic errors. He slipped in the first term in defence and unfortunately resulted in Harrison Jones kicking the first Metro goal of the game from 50m. Gulden’s next contested was terrific, intercepting the ball in a one-on-two and then kicking across his body to a diving Jake Steele. When able to size up his options inside 50 he has the capability of kicking across the body on his left and hitting a target, but made a couple of errors by foot throughout the game as well. Went for a huge mark in the third term but could not quite bring it down. Still remained busy throughout four quarters.

#3 Connor Budarick

A touch of class out there with a dash of hardness. Continued to lay tackles and apply defensive pressure even when he did not have the ball, and when with the ball used it well with great composure. Spent time at half-back and pushing up to a wing, taking some nice intercept marks and hitting up targets in the corridor. He was able to use the ball effectively going forward even when under pressure, and copped contact in the final term in order to free up Will Chandler for a late goal. One of the better Allies players in the match.

#9 Mitch O’Neill

Started on a wing and eventually found the ball across all three thirds. Had a big first half, where he was not only able to get his hands on the ball, but also provide the defensive measures as well. In one instance early he nullified a one-against-three contest at half-back. He was able to fire out quick handballs to teammates in the clear, and found a number of clearances throughout the day. He used good decision making and attacked the contest hard, also drifting back into defence to help out.

#12 Ashton Crossley

After an early blemish which saw him give off a handball but not block for a teammate straight after, Crossley finished the game with a strong outing. He kicked a great snap out of nothing in the first term, then won a clearance at half-forward to get it to a teammate, and used good hands across the ground. He worked well with Tom Green in midfield, often being the one winning ball off a quick handball and kicking it long. Covered the ground well.

#15 Will Martyn

Was not as prolific early, but got better as the game went on and has some pretty important touches. He drifted around the ground and had a couple of intercept marks and then earned a free kick with a big tackle in the second term. He produced a great handball under pressure deep in attack to Samuel Gaden who converted off a step, and then continued to win the ball through the second half.

#19 Sam Collins

After a quieter first half, Collins was one of the best in the second half, being a part of everything in the third term. He showed good hands under pressure in defence, and would bush up to the middle to win the ball and force it back inside 50. He showed great sportsmanship to check on a winded Jay Rantall in the third term, and did well deep in defence late in the third term with the ball bouncing up, to win the footy and clear it out of defensive 50. He was a strong interceptor and long kick out of half-back.

#21 Luke Parks

Desperation personified, Parks just never stopped trying. He would often be found scrambling at ground level in defence, firing away a handball to a teammate running by, or taking an important intercept mark. He gave away a free kick or too, but mostly due to his keenness to win the ball back for his side. He would keep touch with his direct opponent and won a fierce hardball at ground level early in the game and gave the ball off. Later on he put pressure on a kicker going for goal to force a behind.

#22 Tom Green

Absolutely everywhere for the Allies and the standout player. Just put his stamp on the game for most of the four quarters and did what he does best – shovelling out the contested ball and winning clearances. He showed good vision by hand to teammates on the wing, in one instance in the third term he bypassed about four opponents with all the time in the world to find a teammate, then pushed forward to be on the receiving end of a handball and slammed it home from just inside 50. Took a good mark inside 50 but his set shot went to the right later in the quarter. Has a unique ability to bust his way through congestion, get his hands free and handball to teammates in space.

#28 Jackson Callow

The key forward presented nicely at the football and while he did not kick a major himself, pushed up the ground and was often the link between half-forward and deep forward, creating chances for teammates. He showed a nice field kick and a high work rate to hit-up a midfield teammate then pushed back to win it again, and put it out to Matt Conroy leading out in the square. Shared some of the ruck load while up forward as well.

#29 Matt Conroy

Played a strong game out of full-forward and shared some of the ruckload, booting three goals and missing a chance after the final siren to win the game for the Allies. He booted two goals in the second term, after winning a free kick and converting the set shot from 30m out, then snapped a goal late in the term out of nothing. He booted a third goal in the final term through another set shot, and could have had five for the day, but sprayed a set shot in the third term as well. Used his body well and provided a presence.

#31 Hamish Ellem

He might only have finished with one goal to his name, but had he converted more of his chances, he could have finished the game with a bag of five. He was too big and strong for his opponents and almost had an early goal after winning a free kick 15m out, but went too close to the man on the mark and was smothered. Not long after he took a mark 40m out in front and kicked the perfect left foot goal. His third attempt from a similar distance was touched on the line, and then had another couple of chances, winning a free kick in a marking contest which missed to the right, then took a juggling mark in the final term which missed to the left. His set shot kicking itself looked fine, the ball went straight but just stayed to the either left or right, it was not shanked from a poor kick, just misjudging the wind. Still presented all day and was a headache with his marking ability.

#42 James Peatling

Showed some good signs inside 50, but rushed his shots on goal, having a number of snaps and sprayed them. Looked good behind the ball when in defence and kicked long out of the back half. His best chance for a goal came early when he burst out of the middle and kicked an end-on-end bouncing shot on goal which just bounced to the left. Was a bit too unselfish late in the game when squaring the ball up in attack, which was intercepted. Overall had some nice plays as well as some rushed shots on goal.

#46 Noah Cumberland

One of the most impressive Allies players, had a purple patch in the second term with two goals. His first came from a snap off the deck after pouncing on a loose ball, fending off an opponent and putting it through. He showed a nice burst of speed to nail the goal, having just sprayed the quick snap a moment earlier as he was dragged down in a tackle by an opponent. Booted a second goal with a wonky, but effective kick that went straight through after providing good pressure. He set up his teammate late in the term but the ball was spoiled away. Later in the game he attacked the contest with vigour and took a good mark sliding in from the side in defence.

#51 Samuel Gaden

For a taller player, Gaden was able to cover the ground well and had to play a bigger role in the second half after Hamish Allan and Nickolas Haberer picked up injuries in the first half. He kicked a goal from a snap around his body earlier in the game, and almost had a second in the third term but was touched in the goalsquare and rushed through. He burst off half-back in the last quarter to lead a scoring chain down the ground and then provided a target when forward to take a strong mark on the lead. Constantly involved and provided an option in all thirds of the ground.

 

Country:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Ned Cahill

Cahill was creative all day playing mostly forward he would be a handful around goals and would look likely whenever the ball was in his area. Cahill kicked two goals for the day and could have kicked even more, his first goal came from a lead up mark and set shot goal and his second came with a nice opposite foot snap goal. His desperation and linkup play around the ground really stood out.

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders was a tough player through the midfield and found plenty of the ball and often distributed well by hand and foot. There wasn’t a lot of flash shown by Flanders which is usually his go up forward, but as a midfielder he got down to business and won the hard ball and just used the ball well in general. He had some telling movements in the second half moving the ball forward at every opportunity.

#5 Cameron Wild

Wild started the game in the midfield and was busy early winning plenty of the ball, he kicked a few behinds in the second and third quarters coming from a set shot and a hard checkside kick on the run. Wild’s last quarter was huge playing more forward, he was everywhere winning stoppages and taking marks and laying hard tackle, he would later kick the match winning goal right on the last line.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi was a ball magnet throughout the day playing through the midfield, winning the hard ball at stoppages and also working hard around the ground to link up. Baldi’s kicking has often been critiqued but he did well with some hit up kicks with one kick especially hitting up teammate Oliver Henry inside 50.

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin had a strong start to the game kicking a snap goal in the first quarter and was very involved around the ball, he wouldn’t take a backwards step with great attack on the ball and colliding with big bodied midfielder Tom Green. Martin was rather quiet until the last quarter where he would kick a nice running snap goal to swing the momentum in Country’s favour.

#13 Jay Rantall

Rantall was his usual self, winning plenty of the ball through the midfield and showing his class with ball in hand to rarely miss a target by hand. His kicking has often been a query but although not spectacular, his kicking was certainly serviceable throughout the day. He got crunched in a heavy contest in the third quarter needing to be helped of the ground, he would later return to the field but wasn’t quite the same.

#17 Hayden Young

Young took a little bit to get going, he was involved early but skills weren’t quite at the level he would hope, but he would certainly improve in the second quarter – starting with a great chain from defence winning three disposals in quick succession and finishing with a lovely long kick to teammate Riley Baldi in the middle of the ground. His kicking inside 50 that quarter was also stellar with two bullet passes with one coming after a very strong intercept mark. Young was arguably the most dangerous player on the ground.

#34 Bigoa Nyuon

Nyuon played the game out down back and he certainly looked the part intercepting and covering the ground often with ease. If he wasn’t coming from nowhere to spoil he was either intercepting or running of his opponent to try and give an option. He did get caught under the ball a few times but he still managed to take some nice intercept marks and prove to be a hard player to beat one on one.

 

Metro:

By: Ed Pascoe

#2 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was such a busy player throughout the day always attacking, taking the game on and showing good creativity with ball in hand. Mellis wasn’t able to hit the scoreboard himself but did well to set up teammates with his neat kicking on either foot and run and dash to get away from the opposition. Mellis was still pushing on in the last quarter where he really drove the ball forward for his team.

#4 Eddie Ford

Ford woke up the crowd early with a spectacular mark getting a ride on the shoulders of his opponent and would then slot the long set shot goal from 50 metres. He didn’t repeat a highlight that good but he would continue to be a good target and showed great enthusiasm up forward often flying over packs to try and mark.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa started the game through the midfield showing his good attack and clean hands at the stoppages, his hands were often slick and opened up the play. Carafa was moved into unfamiliar territory down back in the last quarter where he looked even more impressive winning plenty of the ball and really using his clean hands and link up to cause headaches. I’d like to see more of Carafa down back because he certainly impressed in that role.

#22 Miles Bergman

Bergman took a while to get involved and he would get his chance to go through the midfield after the early injury to fellow Sandringham teammate Ryan Byrnes, and Bergman certainly made the most of his opportunity to play in the middle where he showed good attack at the stoppages and was often slick by hand and moved really well. His last quarter was superb with multiple hard efforts and did well to work back into defence.

#24 Harrison Jones

Jones was the dominant forward across both games kicking four goals. His first was an impressive goal from long range in the first quarter. His set shot routine was solid with a nice mark and set shot goal in the second quarter and another set shot goal from a free kick in the third. He also showed he had tricks, taking a good mark in the pocket and kicking a nice checkside goal in the third quarter.

#28 Brodie Newman

Newman was one of his team’s better players with his rebound from defence proving to be very important for his side. Newman’s second quarter was strong with some nice intercept marks and also showing great composure and skill with ball in hand. In the third quarter he showed good attack in the air to take an intercept mark and run into goal only to kick a behind. His last quarter was also important showing he wasn’t afraid to go for a run with the ball despite his bigger size.