Tag: National Championships

PODCAST EXPLAINER | Western Australia vs. South Australia AFL U19s recap

THE Final Siren podcast team came together for a special pocket podcast edition this week, recapping all the action and fallout from Saturday’s AFL Under 19 National Championships clash between Western Australia and South Australia. Host Peter Williams and analyst Michael Alvaro dissected some of the key topics out of the one-off showcase, detailed in the agenda below.

Podcast Link: Click here!

>> Match Report: WA claims big win in champs opener

KEY PODCAST POINTS:

Themes of the game – where it was won + standout players

While much was made of South Australia’s top-end, consisting of first round candidates Jason Horne-Francis, Matthew Roberts, and Arlo Draper rolling through midfield, Western Australia’s arguably less-heralded mix of Matthew Johnson, Kade Dittmar, Josh Browne, James Tunstill, and Angus Sheldrick proved dominant at times – even without vice-captain Neil Erasmus.

Combine the engine room ascendancy with the aerial feats of their talls at either end, and the Black Ducks’ spine worked wonders. Up forward, Jye Amiss put his hand up for top 15 status as he waxed with Jack Williams, while Rhett Bazzo showed his intercept-marking class in defence alongside newfound swingman Jacob van Rooyen, and Jack Avery.

WA’s strength and depth across the ground was noticeable, and they clearly benefitted from experiencing multiple trial games together. SA had a few showcase their outside class, with wingman Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera a particular standout, while Jase Burgoyne, Cooper Beecken, Lewis Rayson, and Max Litster all worked hard to drive the ball forward.

>> Scouting Notes: Every player covered

– Potential Power Ranking risers

There were a few clear standouts from a draft sense in this game, five of which were highlighted in our earlier Rising Stocks piece. From a South Australian sense, Wanganeen-Milera was one who truly consolidated his status in the first round having shown plenty of class on the ball. He has a few athletic tricks which buy time and uses the ball wonderfully well, carving up the opposition by foot.

Joining him in the top 15 discussion was Amiss, who has been an undeniable talent this year. Having amassed an incredible goalkicking record of 49.12 in the WAFL Colts, the East Perth forward spearheaded WA’s attack with a number of leading forays and most importantly, two goals.

Amiss’ feats and form saw van Rooyen thrown into defence after snaring 11.5 in his last two Colts outings, and the move worked wonders. The physical Claremont prospect was dominant in the air and with his bodywork, waxing beautifully with fellow swingman Bazzo to serve a reminder of their second round credentials.

– Which team would win the championships?

Saturday’s national carnival taster certainly quenched a thirst for the format, but still leaves the lingering question of which region would have taken out this year’s championships if we were treated to a full competition.

Having shown ominous form on Saturday, Western Australia have to be considered in the top bracket – above South Australia despite either state boasting 18 Draft Combine invitees each. Vic Metro is the other team to be considered a contender, as they thumped Vic Country by 59 points in July’s challenge match.

The midfield battle between WA and Vic Metro is a mouthwatering proposition, with some of Saturday’s dominant Black Ducks poised against the likes of Nick Daicos, Finn Callaghan, and Josh Ward. South Australia and Vic Country would also prove an even battle, while the Allies are somewhat of an unknown quantity having not yet played together in 2021, but laying claim to some class.

TEAMS | 2021 AFLU19s – Western Australia vs. South Australia

THE 2021 AFL Under 19 National Championships have finally arrived, with Western Australia set to take on South Australia at Lathlain Park on Saturday afternoon. The highly anticipated clash was initially delayed in its original Sunday slot, but is back on after eased border restrictions. The Croweaters will thus travel West, led by pick one contender Jason Horne-Francis, who lines up in midfield alongside deputy Mani Liddy and South Adelaide teammate Matthew Roberts.

Western Australia will be skippered by East Fremantle top-ager Finn Gorringe, who takes his place in defence while vice-captain Josh Browne prepares for an epic engine room battle. Fellow deputy Neil Erasmus will miss due to a bad corky, replaced by running machine Max Chipper. There are few real surprises across either line-up, though the hosts’ tall forward riches sees Jacob van Rooyen starting in defence. The Black Ducks are stacked in midfield too, with first round prospect Matthew Johnson squeezed out to a forward flank.

The South Australians boast a good mix of speed and class, with the likes of Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne, Glenelg wingman Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, and top 10 candidate Arlo Draper among those to watch in the tricolours. Central District League representative Shay Linke was unlucky to miss the SA interchange, while electric Claremont small Jahmal Stretch would have narrowly missed the cut for WA. Both have been named as emergencies.

The action begins at 1:00pm local time, with both sides inevitably itching to get a proper taste of representative action. All 2021 National Championship fixtures are set to be broadcasted. Stay tuned to Draft Central over the next few days, as we’ll have a wrap of the game and Scouting Notes on every player to come on Monday.

>> PREVIEW: Where it’s won – WA vs. SA U19s

2021 AFL U19 National Championships

Western Australia vs. South Australia
Saturday August 28, 1:00pm AWST
Lathlain Park

FINAL SQUADS

Western Australia:

B: F. Gorringe, J. Avery, B. Watson
HB: R. Bazzo, J. van Rooyen, J. Hagan
C: C. Warner, G. Sheldrick, T. Woewodin
HF: M. Johnson, J. Williams, L. Paton
F: E. Benning, J. Amiss, J. Motlop
R: J. South, J. Tunstill, K. Dittmar

Int: J. Browne, B. Hough, J. McVee, E. Regan, M. Chipper
Emg: J. Busslinger, M. Chipper, K. Harbour, J. Stretch

South Australia:

B: M. Litster, Z. Becker, B. O’Loughlin
HB: C. Beecken, O. Adams, J. Burgoyne
C: I. Birt, M. Roberts, N. Wanganeen-Milera
HF: A. Draper, M. Ferres, L. Grubb
F: H. Stagg, J. Lukac, I. Dudley
R: O. Steene, J. Horne-Francis, M. Liddy

Int: L. Cooke, H. Jackson, C. Kennedy, J. Owens, L. Rayson
Emg: H. Harrison, S. Linke, L. Whitelum

Featured Image: (Left to right) West Australian leaders Josh Browne, Finn Gorringe, and Neil Erasmus | Credit: WAFL via Twitter

Where it’s won: Western Australia vs. South Australia Under 19s

THE 2021 AFL Under 19 National Championships are poised to go ahead in some form on Saturday afternoon, as Western Australia hosts South Australia at Mineral Resources Oval. While the clash, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed in the wake of state border closures, eased restrictions will allow the South Australian squad to travel without the need to quarantine.

With extended squads already announced for both states and plenty of stars among them, keen draft watchers will already have a good idea of who to watch in the highly-anticipated fixture. With those players in mind, we take a look at where the game will likely be won, and a few of the marquee match-ups poised to light up the big stage. Stay tuned, as both sides will be revealed tomorrow.

>> Squad Previews: South Australia | Western Australia

WHERE IT’S WON

The Midfield Battle

Both engine rooms match up quite well, with some of the premier players from either side set to feature at the centre bounces. All eyes will be on pick one candidate Jason Horne-Francis, who skippers the South Australian squad and will likely anchor the Croweaters’ midfield alongside top-age deputy, Mani Liddy. Add Matthew Roberts into the starting mix, and SA has a strong, reliable mix of ball winners.

That trio is matched well by WA’s likely lot, set to feature Subiaco pair Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson along with East Perth battering ram, Kade Dittmar. The trio has some serious size about it, measuring up at an average of 188cm compared to the 183cm stature of SA’s group. That may be levelled out by the physicality of Horne-Francis and Liddy, with Roberts and Johnson the types who will respectively look to thrive off that inside battle.

In terms of depth, both teams bat pretty deep. SA will look to rotate recent League debutant and top 10 prospect Arlo Draper from the front six, along with Glenelg bull Hugh Stagg. Classy Port Adelaide father-son candidate Jase Burgoyne is another viable option from half-back, along with the likes of Hugh Jackson, Cade Kennedy, and Shay Linke off the bench. On the outside are a couple of pure wingmen in Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Isaac Birt, who provide some class and running power to further the team’s balance.

Western Australia’s depth is equally formidable. Corey Warner, the brother of Sydney’s Chad, and East Fremantle teammate Josh Browne would fancy starting spots, with the former also a capable wingman. The strong-bodied Angus Sheldrick has proved his worth as a mid-forward rotation piece, while James Tunstill is another East Perth ball winner who may feature, and Melbourne father-son hopeful Taj Woewodin can chip in from half-back. On the outer, Max Chipper is a running machine, while Brady Hough and Lochlan Paton have the versatility to contribute in multiple roles.

With a handy balance of inside grunt, class, and outside run, both midfields will be quite obviously central to their sides’ fortunes. WA’s representatives have already gotten a taste of how they may work together in a number of trial games, and while the SA squad will share plenty of familiarity, they may have some catching up to do. Having two leaders at the source certainly helps, though.

The Talls

Plenty has been made about Western Australia’s array of tall forward options, with the Black Ducks boasting a true embarrassment of riches in said department. Leading WAFL Colts goalkicker Jye Amiss is an absolute deadeye and doesn’t need too many opportunities to impact with multiple goals, while versatile East Fremantle tall Jack Williams thrives aerially and looks a likely centre half-forward/ruck candidate.

Having been thrown into defence during WA’s trial games, Jacob van Rooyen booted 11.5 in his last two Colts outings, while Claremont teammate Eric Benning has also shown his developing forward craft of late and could pinch-hit from the ruck. The Black Ducks are not as strong at the other end of the ground, but Swan Districts standout Rhett Bazzo is a classy intercept-marker who should organise the fort well and Jack Avery can play above his 190cm standing. 195cm bottom-ager Jedd Busslinger may also feature.

South Australia’s starting key defenders, Zac Becker and Oscar Adams will certainly have their hands full. The former reads the play well and is built nicely at 92kg, but the latter will have plenty to do aerially at 198cm, while Cooper Beecken (191cm) may have to play slightly above his size. The Croweaters have some height and power of their own at the other end, with Jordan Lukac and Morgan Ferres strong starting pair supported by Lukas Cooke and Luca Whitelum off the bench.

We may well see some big bags of goals kicked given how well both sides stack up in attack compared to defence, at least in the tall department. With 2021 looming as largely a midfielder’s draft at the top end, opportunity awaits for the talls who can step up on the big stage and potentially shoot into top 15 contention.

The Smalls

With so many bigmen taking the field, the smalls will be equally important in helping capitalise on contest spills in attack or mopping up down back. South Australia will gain a good mix of speed and smarts from Central District pair Lachlan Grubb and Isaiah Dudley up forward, while the likes of Blayne O’Loughlin and Lewis Rayson are serious rebounders in defence. Rayson may also roll up to a wing, while O’Loughlin can play forward or impact in midfield at 171cm.

WA has some dangerous small forwards to watch, headlined by Fremantle NGA prospect Jesse Motlop. Along with Claremont’s Jahmal Stretch and East Fremantle’s Kaden Harbour, there is some serious skill, speed and smarts at the feet of WA’s talls. Down back, Swan Districts defender Bryce Watson has impressed of late, while Finn Gorringe would provide some physicality to go with the class of fellow Sharks, Jed Hagan and Judd McVee.

Whichever set of smalls can better capitalise on the work of their talls will contribute greatly to opening the game up and releasing a bit of pressure off the bigmen. With such a focus on the talls and midfielders, these are the types who may pop up in important moments or have an impact after flying under the radar.

Featured Image: Western Australia’s Matthew Johnson (left) and South Australia’s Jason Horne-Francis in AFL Academy colours | Credit: Michael Klein/Herald Sun

NAB League set for revamped finals structure

THE AFL announced on Thursday the NAB League is set for a shake-up to its finals structure, with 13 full-time regions split into country and metro conferences. A three-week finals series will commence next weekend (August 28/29) for five country-based programs – Bendigo Pioneers, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers – while Dandenong Stingrays and Tasmania Devils will join the metro allotment.

Essentially, two premierships will be awarded – one for the winner of either conference – as the AFL attempts to hold as many games as possible over the next six weeks after a heavily interrupted season. The eight-team metro conference will begin competition once community football is allowed to resume in Victoria. These fixtures will also serve as an additional selection process for a makeshift Victorian championships, where primary and secondary Vic Country and Vic Metro squads will compete against each other in late-September.

GWV currently tops the country improvised country pool and is set to lock horns with second-ranked Bendigo Pioneers on Saturday. The third-placed Geelong Falcons take on Murray Bushrangers on the same afternoon, while bottom side Gippsland Power has the bye. Below is the three week country finals schedule; there will also be consolation fixtures in weeks two and three between teams knocked out of contention.

2021 NAB League Finals Map
(Country Conference)

Week 1 (August 28/29)
First Semi Final – 2nd v 5th
Second Semi Final – 3rd v 4th

1st – Bye
Two winners and highest-ranked loser to progress to Week 2.

Week 2 (September 4/5)
First Preliminary Final – 1st v Lowest Ranked
Second Preliminary Final – 2nd Ranked v 3rd Ranked

Week 3 (September 11/12)
Grand Final – Winner PF1 v Winner PF2

Current NAB League Ladder:

1. Sandringham Dragons (M) | 8-1, 188.6%
2. GWV Rebels (C) | 7-3, 129.1%
3. Northern Knights (M) | 6-3, 138.5%
4. Bendigo Pioneers (C) | 6-5, 109.1%
5. Tasmania Devils (M) | 5-3, 114.3%
6. Geelong Falcons (C) | 5-6, 101.6%
7. Eastern Ranges (M) | 5-4, 98.0%
8. Calder Cannons (M) | 5-4, 84.8%
9. Dandenong Stingrays (M) | 3-6, 101.5%
10. Oakleigh Chargers (M) | 3-6, 90.3%
11. Western Jets (M) | 3-6, 85.4%
12. Murray Bushrangers (C) | 3-7, 84.0%
13. Gippsland Power (C) | 3-7, 60.3%

Legend:
C – denotes Country conference
M – denotes Metro conference

Country Conference Ladder:

1. GWV Rebels | 7-3, 129.1%
2. Bendigo Pioneers | 6-5, 109.1%
3. Geelong Falcons | 5-6, 101.6%
4. Murray Bushrangers | 3-7, 84.0%
5. Gippsland Power | 3-7, 60.3%

Metro Conference Ladder:

1. Sandringham Dragons | 8-1, 188.6%
2. Northern Knights | 6-3, 138.5%
3. Tasmania Devils | 5-3, 114.3%
4. Eastern Ranges | 5-4, 98.0%
5. Calder Cannons | 5-4, 84.8%
6. Dandenong Stingrays | 3-6, 101.5%
7. Oakleigh Chargers | 3-6, 90.3%
8. Western Jets | 3-6, 85.4%

Scouting Notes: WA Under 19s vs. Perth

WESTERN Australia’s Under 19 squad completed its third-consecutive dig ahead of this year’s National Championships, comfortably accounting for a select Perth side, 13.17 (95) to 1.6 (12) on Saturday. The Black Ducks continued their ominous form with its midfield again proving difficult to contain, including leading WA prospects Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson. Squad members Jesse Motlop, Corey Warner, and Jack Avery were among those to miss once again due to League commitments, along with debutant Luke Polson. There were some impressive performances nonetheless, which we narrow down to in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

WA U19s 4.2 | 7.3 | 10.7 | 13.17 (95)
PERTH 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)

GOALS:

WA U19s: E. Benning 3, J. Amiss 2, E. Curley 2, A. Sheldrick 2, K. Dittmar, N. Erasmus, E. Regan, J. Stretch
Perth: J Wilson

Previous WA Trials:
>> WA U19s vs. East Perth
>> WA U19s vs. WA U17s

WA UNDER 19s:

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder

The powerful Claremont midfielder started the game like a house on fire, winning plenty of the ball (10 disposals) in the first quarter. He was strong in the contests with his ability to win the hard ball a real feature, helping to release the runners out into space. Although Sheldrick’s in and under work was strong, he also showed his ability to break away with a very good long range goal in the last quarter, taking the game on and kicking from 50m on his favoured left foot. Sheldrick would find the goals again, working inside 50 to take a mark and nailing the set shot from 45m in the second quarter. He continued to attack the contest hard in the second half but would not replicate his previous ball winning feats, where he found the ball with ease on the outside and inside. Sheldrick continues to push his draft credentials, finishing the game with 19 disposals, six marks, five clearances and two goals.

#21 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco)
2/12/2003 | 188cm/80kg | Midfielder

After a best on ground performance last week, the Subiaco midfielder was again at his ball winning best and although his skills were not quiet as sharp as last week, he was still very effective. With a few tackles and shots at goal early on, you could see Erasmus was wanting to get involved a lot quicker than he did last week and although his first shot went out on the full, his second attempt was much better – working into space inside 50 and converting the simple set shot. The main concern with Erasmus’ kicking was on his non-preferred side and although on occasion he showed great composure to give himself time, he often had enough time to go on his preferred more often than not, and can further try to to get as much impact out of his disposal as possible. Erasmus finished with a game-high 28 disposals despite spending the last quarter forward, where he still easily managed to find the ball, and with that also finished with eight marks, seven tackles and one goal.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder

It was another solid game from the tall Subiaco midfielder, with Johnson a consistent four-quarter performer who showed plenty of class and composure with ball in hand. Johnson was steady in the first half, winning eight disposals, but it was his second half and especially his third quarter that really caught the eye. His first goal assist was inside 50 where he showed great composure and agility to get around one opponent, before using a short burst of speed to get away from another and hand off to Dittmar who finished well. His second great effort came on the wing, recovering from a marking contest to gather cleanly and side step an opponent with good composure, then hitting a beautiful pass inside 50 to Benning. Johnson finished the game with 19 disposals, six inside 50s and six marks as he continues to impress as a potential first round draft prospect.

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward

The talented key forward form East Perth once again kicked multiple goals in what could have been an even bigger haul if his set shot kicking was as reliable as it has been all year, missing some very gettable attempts. Amiss impressed early with the first goal of the game coming from a lovely banana set shot hard on the boundary. Getting the opportunity was well done as he was the one to pressure the turnover to give him the set shot. He was able to kick the hardest of the day, yet missed some gettable goals late in the game, finishing with four behinds. His second goal was in open play, quickly kicking another banana in the fourth quarter, but what impressed in his game was his work without the ball – often playing one-on-two and competing well in the air, before applying pressure at ground level with a holding the ball tackle late in the last term. Amiss finished the game with 13 disposals, four marks and kicked 2.4.

Featured Image: (L-R) West Australian draft prospects Matthew Johnson, Jacob van Rooyen, Rhett Bazzo, and Jack Williams | Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: WA Under 19s vs. East Perth

THE WEST Australian Under 19s squad made good on another opportunity to gel, this time by trumping East Perth by 42 points on Saturday. Magnets were shuffled and top prospect Neil Erasmus made his return from a quad injury in the 16.6 (102) to 9.6 (60) win, which came against a Royals line-up consisting of Colts and Reserves players.

While usual forward Jacob van Rooyen showed promise in defence, the Black Ducks’ stocks were dealt a blow with talls Jarrad McIlvinney (concussion) and Rhett Bazzo (ankle) failing to run out the game. There were plenty of impressive performances nonetheless, which we outline in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

WA U19s 5.2 | 8.5 | 12.6 | 16.6 (102)
EAST PERTH 1.0 | 4.2 | 6.4 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:

WA U19s: L. Polson 4, J. Amiss 3, J. Stretch 3, L. Paton 2, R. Farmer 2, K. Harbour, A. Sheldrick
East Perth: C. Sparks 2, T. Graham 2, J. Hubbard, S. Kuek, M. Thomas, J. Cahill, R. Cox

WA UNDER 19s:

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder

A strong performer all year for Claremont and Christ Church Grammar, the hard-nosed midfielder did what he does best – winning plenty of the ball through the midfield and using his strength and smarts at stoppages, while also accumulating around the ground. Although not known for his speed, he had a great passage of play after first winning a clearance, then finding his way on the end of the passage by burning an opponent into goal, but just missing the shot. Sheldrick would finally nail a goal from a free kick after showing his strong play to take on tacklers, which he did all game. He proved difficult to tackle, while also being a strong tackler in his own right.

#8 Jahmal Stretch (Claremont)
16/01/2003 | 181cm/62kg | Small Forward

The Halls Creek product plying his trade at Claremont isn’t eligible for Fremantle under their NGA, so he will be available to every team in the 2021 National Draft and is certainly catching the eye with every passing game with his clear talent and smooth movement. Stretch nailed three goals; his first came from a running passage in the second quarter, before nailing a set shot after an impressive mark going back with the flight. His final goal was a lovely gather and snap goal in the third quarter. Stretch was able to hit the scoreboard but also set up others goals with his clean hands and skills inside 50.

#13 Bryce Watson (Swan Districts)
28/01/2003 | 182cm/71kg | Defender

The smoothing moving defender from Swan Districts showed plenty of class and athleticism, proving a strong defender while also offering plenty of composure and skill with ball in hand. Watson has a good leap and often did well to spoil from behind. When he got front position he attacked the contests hard and cleanly, with a nice passage of play in the second quarter highlighting this as Watson gathered and spun, although his kick was ultimately smothered. While his kicking wasn’t as sound in the second half, he still looked composed and clean from half-back and with continued games like this, he will announce himself as one of the better draft options as a small defender.

#21 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco)
2/12/2003 | 188cm/80kg | Midfielder

Despite a slow start, Erasmus had a huge game playing through the midfield coming off an injury. The Subiaco and Hale prospect was a smooth mover in the midfield, with his composure with ball in hand and skills by hand and foot a real step above. Erasmus showed shades of Brisbane young gun Hugh McCluggage with his work-rate around the ground and composure to hit all his targets despite the pressure, with is kicking on either foot a real feature. Erasmus was great in chaining disposals with some nice marks at half-back and then working up the ground to get involved multiple times in the same chain. Although he seems more suited to the outside, he showed good clearance work in the last quarter and as a player at 188cm with good marking overhead, Erasmus is looking a very complete prospect.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder

Although not as strong as in last week’s game, Johnson was solid through the midfield working well with his fellow on-ballers. Spreading well from the contest, the Subiaco midfielder standing at 192cm didn’t play the traditional big-bodied midfield role, leaving that to the likes of Sheldrick and Dittmar with Johnson helping out with his clean hands in the midfield chains. Johnson was very steady with his disposal for the most part and a long creative handball in the last quarter showcased his vision and smarts under pressure.

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward

The East Perth key forward just continues to find the goals with ease, adding another three majors to his long tally of goals kicked this year. Amiss was hard to stop in the air, with his first goal coming in the first quarter – using his body well to protect the ball drop and mark. Amiss’ next two goals were more stock standard, with a nice lead up mark and set shot later in the opening term, and his third goal coming in the third quarter via a routine set shot from 50m. Amiss has a lovely set shot action with his only blemishes coming from shots in general play. Although he needs to do more outside 50, he took a nice contested mark in third quarter outside 50, showing he can be a good target up the ground.

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

2021 South Australia Under 19 squad announced – Phase 2

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) announced its Phase 2 Under 19 squad on Wednesday, with 33 of the state’s brightest prospects making the cut. An internal trial game on Friday night helped decide the final few selections, albeit amid terrible weather for a showcase game, as SA prepares to face Western Australia on August 7 in Round 1 of this year’s Under 19 National Championships.

Glenelg has contributed the most players, with seven Bays talents included in the squad. Among them is Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, the nephew of Gavin Wanganeen, who performed strongly in last week’s trial. While he is not club linked, Adelaide has a pair of Next Generation Academy members – Isaiah Dudley and Blayne O’Loughlin – in the squad, while Port Adelaide father-son candidate Jase Burgoyne (son of Peter) also features.

There are six 2002-born players in line for representative honours, with three of them coming out of the Woodville-West Torrens program. Namely, they are talls Zac Phillips and Jordan Lukac, and Max Litster. Sturt’s Mani Liddy returns after a terrific trial outing, as does Centrals speedster Lachlan Grubb, while Glenelg’s Dayne McGary is an eye-catching selection once again.

Among the premier 18th-year talent, first pick candidate Jason Horne just about selects himself, while fellow South Adelaide guns Matthew Roberts and Arlo Draper could recover from their respective ankle injuries in the nick of time. Cooper Murley (collarbone) is another in that category, though fellow Norwood prospects Henry Nelligan, Ned Carey, and Alistair Lord will hope to get a look in for Phase 3 as they return later in the year.

There are a couple of stat leaders among the pack too, in North Adelaide’s Hugh Jackson (disposals, handballs, inside 50s) and Centrals tall Saxon Evans (hitouts). Both have been in undeniable form at Under 18s level, as have the likes of James Willis and Lewis Rayson – who loom as ones to watch.

South Australia’s third selection phase will come prior to the state’s final batch of championships fixtures, which will take place in late-September as the squad travels to face against Vic Country and Vic Metro. The Croweaters are also set to take on the Allies during Phase 2.

Below is a preview of how the South Australian team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Note, those named on the interchange and emergency lists are likely to rotate between the two Phase 2 fixtures.

Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Blayne O’Loughlin (North) – Oscar Adams (Glenelg) – Cooper Beecken (Glenelg)
HB: Jase Burgoyne (Eagles) – Zac Becker (Sturt) – Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)
C: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg) – Matthew Roberts (South) – Shay Linke (Centrals)
HF: Arlo Draper (South) – Morgan Ferres (Sturt) – Will Spain (Sturt)
F: Isaiah Dudley (Centrals) – Lukas Cooke (Eagles) – Cooper Murley (Norwood)
FOL: Zac Phillips (Eagles) – Jason Horne (South) – Hugh Jackson (North)

INT: Hugh Stagg (Glenelg), James Willis (North), Brayden Calvett (Eagles), Jordan Lukac (Eagles), Mani Liddy (Sturt)

EMG: Saxon Evans (Centrals), Lachlan Grubb (Centrals), Isaac Birt (South), Jacob Owens (Glenelg), Cade Kennedy (West), Dayne McGary (Glenelg), Luca Whitelum (Centrals), Oscar Steene (West), Harvey Harrison (North), Max Litster (Eagles)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA PHASE 2 UNDER 19 SQUAD:

PLAYER SANFL CLUB HEIGHT WEIGHT
Lachlan Grubb Central 177cm 75kg
Isaiah Dudley Central 166cm 69kg
Shay Linke Central 190cm 79kg
Saxon Evans Central 201cm 94kg
Luca Whitelum Central 188cm 77kg
Dayne McGary Glenelg 192cm 85kg
Lewis Rayson Glenelg 183cm 69kg
Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera Glenelg 188cm 70kg
Cooper Beecken Glenelg 190cm 73kg
Hugh Stagg Glenelg 180cm 79kg
Jacob Owens Glenelg 184cm 69kg
Oscar Adams Glenelg 198cm 85kg
Blayne O’Loughlin North 171cm 74kg
Hugh Jackson North 181cm 70kg
James Willis North 180cm 75kg
Harvey Harrison North 181cm 71kg
Cooper Murley Norwood 178cm 69kg
Arlo Draper South 186cm 75kg
Jason Horne South 184cm 77kg
Isaac Birt South 181cm 70kg
Matthew Roberts South 184cm 80kg
Mani Liddy Sturt 183cm 80kg
Morgan Ferres Sturt 190cm 80kg
Will Spain Sturt 178cm 69kg
Zac Becker Sturt 190cm 92kg
Cade Kennedy West 178cm 75kg
Oscar Steene West 199cm 82kg
Max Litster Woodville-West Torrens 184cm 83kg
Zac Phillips Woodville-West Torrens 201cm 85kg
Jordan Lukac Woodville-West Torrens 196cm 89kg
Brayden Calvett Woodville-West Torrens 177cm 72kg
Jase Burgoyne Woodville-West Torrens 186cm 65kg
Lukas Cooke Woodville-West Torrens 195cm 80kg

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: Western Australia U17 vs. U19 trial game

THE NEXT generation of West Australian talent took centre stage on Saturday, as the Under 17 and Under 19 state squads went head-to-head in Claremont. As expected, the elder and more developed Under 19s took out a one-sided victory, 17.13 (115) to 4.9 (33), but prospects from both sides were able to showcase high-level potential. We highlight some of the top performers in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

Note, Neil Erasmus, Josh Browne, Jaiden Hunter (injured), Jack Avery, Corey Warner, and Jesse Motlop (League commitments) were all unavailable for the clash. Rucks Jake South and Eric Benning also swapped to play a half for either side.

WA U17s 1.2 | 1.5 | 4.7 | 4.9 (33)
WA U19s 4.4 | 9.6 | 14.9 | 17.13 (115)

GOALS:

U17s: J. South, D. Curtin, E. Hewitt, J. Baker
U19s: J. Stretch 3, J. Amiss 3, J. Williams 2, A. Sheldrick 2, K. Dittmar 2, J. van Rooyen, M. Johnson, L. Polson, E. Regan, K. Harbour

BEST:

U17s: E. Hewitt, S. Gilbey, D. Jones, E. Allan, D. Curtin, J. Cleaver
U19s: K. Dittmar, M. Johnson, E. Regan, J. Stretch, J. Tunstill, A. Sheldrick

WA UNDER 17s (YELLOW):

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Darcy Jones (Swan Districts)
3/04/2004 | 173cm/60kg | Midfielder

Jones didn’t play against South Australia in West Australia’s first 17s hitout, but proved he would have been a handy edition to the side as the creative small midfielder showed plenty with his clean hands and ability to find the football despite his size. Obvious comparisons could be made with Bulldogs star Caleb Daniel, who is another helmet wearing little star, although Jones’ disposal wasn’t to that high level. He still won plenty of the ball inside and outside the contest, and looked composed and clean when in possession.

#9 Elijah Hewett (Swan Districts)
27/05/2004 | 182cm/80kg | Midfielder

A tough customer and arguably best on ground for the 17s side, Hewett was a contested beast in the midfield, winning plenty of hard ball and releasing his runners well. Playing against some very solidly built midfielders in the 19s side, Hewett more than held his own in terms of contested ball winning and skill. He was a tough player to take down with his agility and ability to fend off with ease, and was rewarded with a lovely running goal after escaping congestion to dish off before working hard to get on the end of it and kick a long bomb from 50m in the third quarter. The solid midfielder continues to show he is one of the better midfield prospects for Western Australia in the 2022 draft.

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

The smooth moving left-footed defender draws comparisons to a former Essendon star in Adam Ramanauskas, with his speed and agility to go with his class and skill by foot, making him one of the leading defensive prospects for the 2022 draft. Gilbey took a little bit of time to get into the game but once he did he got to show his quality, with his kicking and athleticism from the back half really catching the eye both offensively and defensively. A great run through the middle taking a bounce in the last quarter highlighted why he is such an exciting young talent, with the dangerous combination of speed and class.

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

The tough left-footed midfielder has leadership written all over him and with his stronger body and smarts, he has shown over a few games now that he could play a range of positions. Cleaver didn’t get a huge amount of the ball but still showed plenty of his better traits with some nice bodywork and clean hands at stoppages, and an impressive mark in the second quarter which showed his strength overhead. Cleaver has proven to be one of WA’s leading draft prospects this season and will certainly feature again when the 17s championships continue later in the year.

#25 Edward Allan (Claremont)
26/05/2004 | 191cm/77kg | Wing

Missing the first game against South Australia like Jones, Allan showed he could have been a handy addition himself by winning plenty of the ball on the wing and proving to be a great link up option with his smarts and skills. A taller wingman at 191cm, he showed he could use that height to advantage, taking a very nice intercept mark down back in the first quarter to show he could work both ways as well. With solid skills and smarts, the Claremont prospect will look to stamp his place in the side when the championships conclude later in the year.

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

A standout in Western Australia’s first game of the Under 17 championships against South Australia, the medium sized key position player looked solid in his preferred role against the 19s down back in the first half, before getting a change of pace playing forward in the second half and showing some great versatility. It wasn’t the standout game like his first for the 17s, but he still managed to show his when class kicking a goal up forward. Although laconic in his approach, he was composed and strong with ball in hand and showed great bodywork against the bigger 19s key defenders.

WA UNDER 19s (BLACK):

By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Jed Hagan (East Fremantle)
15/10/2004 | 174cm/71kg | Small Defender

The sole bottom-ager afield for the Under 19s, Hagan proved once again he is up to the level with an assured game from defence. While capable of rolling through midfield, the East Fremantle product took a back seat to allow draft eligible prospects to shine, but performed his role well. Hagan’s clean skills played perfectly into his side’s style, with his short kicking game seeing the Under 19s transition efficiently. He was even entrusted with the kick-in duties, which he looked comfortable with.

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder/Forward

Rotating between the midfield and forwardline, Sheldrick played a key hand in his side’s midfield domination in the first half. The strong bodied ball winner wasn’t afraid to bustle through traffic and got his hands dirty at the contest, doing his best to break clear with little room to move. The second quarter was his best, as Sheldrick worked his opponent over to repeatedly get loose inside 50 and boot two goals. Both came via set shots, and Sheldrick even showcased some solid overhead marking on a couple of occasions later on.

#8 Jahmal Stretch (Claremont)
16/01/2003 | 181cm/62kg | Small Forward

A raw and exciting small forward, Stretch provided some spark for the Under 19s with his pace and pressure. He was gifted a good start by Jacob van Rooyen, who cut off an errant kick-in and handed him a goal over the top, but Stretch crafted his own chances as the game wore on. The Claremont talent took a nice two-grab mark at full stretch in the second term to convert another major, before adding a third in the following period from the same method. Stretch hit the post with a dribbler and put a couple more shots out on the full, but was certainly amongst the action inside 50. He capped his game with a spring-heeled fly and mark from the back just before the final siren.

#19 Kade Dittmar (East Perth)
14/01/2003 | 185cm/86kg | Inside Midfielder

Arguably the best player afield, Dittmar brought his bash-and-crash style to the midfield battle, but also added some more refined work in his disposal going forward. As expected of the big-bodied East Perth ball winner, he used his strength over the ball and burst out of packs at will, proving difficult to combat on the inside. He spread forward nicely too, breaking inside 50 to take a mark and goal in the first quarter, before bombing a long goal from the arc in term four. Dittmar also had a hand in multiple other goals, steadying to spear passes forward, hitting targets cleanly to really balance his game.

#20 James Tunstill (East Perth) 
18/07/2003 | 185cm/76kg | Midfielder

Waxing with East Perth teammate Dittmar in midfield, Tunstill found plenty of possessions and impressed with his ability to burst onto the outer. His turn of speed was a key feature while getting first hands to the ball, as Tunstill broke tackles and move the ball on effectively from the engine room. With the likes of Neil Erasmus and Josh Browne still to return for WA, Tunstill is one who may have just caused selectors the right kind of selection headache.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder

Johnson showed his class on Saturday and was the most polished player afield, looking smooth as ever in midfield. The first round prospect benefitted from others’ hard work at the coalface, proving a point of difference with his cleanliness and poise in possession. He often propped in traffic, drew opponents, and found teammates with aplomb by hand, seemingly unfazed by oncoming pressure. His kicking was also terrific, making for a really well-rounded game in the middle. Johnson hit the scoreboard too by taking a clean half-volley and snapping the ball home during term two.

#25 Ethan Regan (East Perth)
9/04/2003 | 189cm/80kg | Forward

The West Coast NGA talent enjoyed a few really promising purple patches, where he looked dangerous as the Under 19s headed into attack. One of Regan’s first acts was a crucial mark in the corridor, showcasing his explosiveness and aerial ability to make a risky kick look good. That same leap and reach was on show in a couple more instances, and while he was often an effective link inside 50, Regan also got forward himself for some chances on goal. He ended with just one major, from a set shot in the third quarter.

#29 Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont)
16/04/2003 | 193cm/91kg | Key Forward/Defender

On what ended up being an indifferent day for van Rooyen, he spent the first half up forward before behind shifted to defence. After handing one off, missing a sitter from the open goalsquare and spurning a set shot, the Claremont key forward got on the board in term two having used his body well in a marking contest. van Rooyen’s second efforts and ability to break tackles translated well in defence, as he had a couple of tough one-on-one moments but recovered to apply pressure and help relieve any danger.

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward

Amiss simply doesn’t miss out and that was no different on Saturday, as the WAFL Colts leading goalkicker snared three majors for the Under 19s. All three of them came after half time, as Amiss benefitted from a personnel shift in the front six. He showcased his improving ground level game with a good crumb and snap in term three, before getting on the lead for another major in the same quarter. While most of his best work was done inside attacking 50, Amiss also took a couple of strong grabs presenting further afield. He looks a lock for WA’s starting forwardline.

#32 Luke Polson (Peel Thunder)
10/04/2003 | 196cm/94kg | Key Defender/Forward

Another tall who spent time at both ends of the ground, Polson earned another big tick for his versatility. He started in defence and displayed great mobility, enjoying his time in possession and looking to make things happen in transition. While that led to a few odd decisions in his disposal, Polson carried the ball well and stood up strongly in tackles. When shifted forward, he used that same strength when presenting as a leading target up the ground. The Peel Thunder prospect also slotted a nice goal on the fly during term three to further prove his dynamism.

#36 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts)
17/10/2003 | 195cm/79kg | Key Defender

While not an overly prolific outing for Bazzo, the Swan Districts swingman was able to bring forward some of his best traits in defence. He looked composed on the ball and distributed it nicely by foot, choosing the right options when there was nothing to kick to down the line. He also rose for a couple of nice intercepts across the defensive 50, but generally did not have too much to do down back with the Under 19s dominant for large stints of the game.

#43 Jack Williams (East Fremantle)
1/12/2003 | 194cm/95kg | Key Forward/Ruck

Williams looked ominous early as he snagged two goals in the opening term, coming from a mixed bag of opportunities. The standout East Fremantle tall used his size and reach in aerial contests and followed up well on a few instances, but was caught out for a lack of speed in others. He also pinch-hit in the ruck and was solid with his bodywork, but arguably looked more productive in attack. Williams could have finished with a couple more majors if not for inaccuracy, missing a pair of long set shots in the final term with a heavy ball.

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: 2021 South Australia Under 19 trials

SOUTH Australia’s best available Under 19 talent went head-to-head on Friday night, contending with shocking weather to stake their claims for representative honours. A stronger Team Yellow handily beat its Team Blue counterpart, 8.7 (55) to 2.8 (20), though the result was an afterthought with state squad spots up for grabs.

First round prospects Jason Horne (League), Matthew Roberts, Arlo Draper, and Cooper Murley (all injured) were among those unavailable, but there were still some handy standouts who showed their class on a tough night for clean footy. We highlight them below in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

TEAM YELLOW 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 (55)
TEAM BLUE 0.1 | 0.4 | 0.6 | 2.8 (20)

GOALS:

Yellow: I. Dudley 2, M. Ferres 2, J. Lukac, W. Spain, Z. Phillips, M. Liddy
Blue: D. McDonald, H. Kittel

BEST:

Yellow: N. Wanganeen, B. O’Loughlin, M. Liddy, I. Dudley, J. Burgoyne, H. Jackson
Blue: L. Whitlum, B. Thomson, M. Dnistriansky, C. Horsnell, D. McDonald, Z. Dumesny

TEAM YELLOW:

By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Isaiah Dudley (Central District)
30/04/2003 | 166cm/69kg | Small Forward/Midfielder

Wet conditions typically suit those low to the ground and Dudley, the smallest player afield at 166cm, took toll. The Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) product was crafty in his small forward post, proving near-impossible to monitor on the lead with his clever runs and deft bodywork. He kicked the only goal of the second term, edging the heavy ball home from a set shot, before adding another in the third. Dudley also got a late run in midfield and showcased slick skills, but looked most dangerous inside 50 when Team Yellow entered on a fast break.

#4 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide)
11/01/2003 | 171cm/74kg | Small Defender/Midfielder

Another of the crafty smalls for Team Yellow, O’Loughlin took up his usual position down back but also rotated nicely through midfield. He helped form a high line behind the ball, pushing up aggressively to force turnovers at ground level and thrust his side into attack with a sharp kicking game. The Adelaide NGA hopeful was particularly prominent in term four, as he found the ball in more space around the ground and hit some nice targets on the move.

#8 Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)
3/05/2003 | 181cm/70kg | Midfielder

Usually a consistent ball winner, Jackson proved as much once again as a staple in the Team Yellow midfield. He often took up the anchor spot at the back of centre bounces and read the flow of play beautifully to receive first hands on the outer. With a burst of speed, Jackson would then wheel around and carry the ball forward on his left side, but was sometimes let down by his kicking in the tough conditions. The North Adelaide midfielder also had a shot on goal in term one, seeing his attempt pushed wide as he was squeezed for space while kicking.

#12 Lachlan Grubb (Central District)
7/12/2002 | 177cm/75kg | Small Forward

One of six 19th year prospects afield for Team Yellow, Grubb warmed to the contest well and got quite busy in the front half after quarter time. Starting forward, the Centrals speedster pushed up the ground before looking to use his pace when carrying back towards goal. He proved threatening in those quick passages and even had a couple of set shot chances on goal, which he couldn’t quite convert with the heavy ball.

#14 Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)
14/01/2003 | 183cm/69kg | Wing/Half-Back

While not his most prolific performance, Rayson was still able to showcase some of his value in a variety of roles. Stationed behind the ball and on both sides of midfield, the Glenelg prospect ran hard and provided nice drive with his speed and equally quick ball movement. He lurked on the outer and looked to either receive or work into space around the ground, where he typically does his best work in transition.

#16 Jase Burgoyne (WWT Eagles)
15/07/2003 | 186cm/65kg | Defender/Midfielder

The lightly-built Port Adelaide father-son prospect was one of the best players afield before half time, racking up plenty of ball as he waxed between midfield and defence. Burgoyne, whose champion uncle is aptly nicknamed ‘Silk’, showed some of that exact trait with his sharp baulks and poise in possession. He found his way out of tough spots with class, propping in traffic before distributing cleanly by foot. He accumulated many of his touches across the backline in term two, but saw the play head back his way many times with clean ball movement difficult to generate.

#22 Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
22/2/2003 | 188cm/70kg | Wing

Another talent with famous names to carry, Wanganeen-Milera is blazing his own trail. He looked the most polished player afield amid heavy rain and wind, making the wing his own and operating nicely between the arcs. The recent Glenelg League debutant proved threatening with his classy ball use going forward, making terrific decisions under pressure and finding ways to hit targets inside 50. While not always leaning on his speed, Milera played the conditions well with more agile shifts and can be damaging either way on the outer.

#26 Mani Liddy (Sturt)
20/02/2002 | 183cm/80kg | Inside Midfielder

Liddy staked his claim for best afield honours, and could well have been through sheer output across the four quarters. The 19-year-old Sturt midfielder was a mainstay at the contest, using his mature frame to burrow in over the ball and bustle out of stoppages. He used his strength in those instances and was quite effective in both his decision making and use by hand, while still looking to develop his kicking and outside run. Liddy capped off his effort with a goal on the run in term three, taking the advantage and steadying nicely inside 50.

TEAM BLUE:

By: Declan Reeve

#7 Brock Thomson (WWT Eagles)
20/02/2003 | 178cm/64kg | Small Defender/Midfielder

Involved throughout the defensive half, Thomson did his best to impact contests and stop incoming opposition attacks as they flew in. Had a few crucial moments early on, taking a couple of intercept marks in the defensive 50 and kicking it out wide. It became evident pretty quickly that Thomson is able to get good distance behind his kicks, generally gaining 40 or 50 meters on each one, with a kick in during the second quarter where he took three steps and launched it to the centre square the best example of his penetration. 

#27 Matthew Dnistriansky (Norwood)
22/03/2003 | 187cm/75kg | General Defender

Looking like one of the standout performers from the Blue side, Dnistriansky was seemingly involved in everything in the backline, mixing his intercept marking and kicking ability to cause constant headaches for the Yellow forwardline. He took his time to work into things but once he stuck his first mark he was always present. The Norwood prospect looked to kick the ball wide when he had possession and there weren’t any options up the ground, but wasn’t afraid to take trickier kicks further up the field to try and create something offensively, in a game where those opportunities didn’t come about too often. He pushed up the ground as the game went on and started taking marks on the wing to send the ball long inside 50.

#29 Luca Whitlum (Central District)
16/07/2003 | 188cm/77kg | Midfielder/Utility

Whitlum was sighted everywhere through the game, impacting in all thirds of the ground. He looked his best in the thick of the contest, able to throw his weight around and knock others off balance to win the ball, or apply high pressure on opposition ball winners to force stoppages. It was the story of his game early on, unable to really stick tackles but pushing opponents into tricky spots, but as he worked into the game he started sticking them more. Whitlum generally used the ball well by foot, taking safer options when they were presented.

Image Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes | 2021 U19 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro came up trumps in the 2021 Under 19 National Championships opener against Vic Country, winning bragging rights at Windy Hill via a comprehensive 15.15 (105) to 7.7 (49) scoreline. From pick one contenders, to first round hopefuls and fast-rising talents, the current Victorian draft crop shone in its showcase game for the year. We highlight some of the top performances in our latest edition of Scouting Notes. Note, they are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Top 25 Ranked: July 2021 Power Rankings

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
16/09/2003 | 183cm/80kg | Inside Midfielder

Doing what he has always done well, Hobbs was a consistent first possession winner in and under packs and stoppages, pushing opponents out of the way to win the ball and fire it out via hand with deadly precision. Those quick hands were especially dangerous in the early stages of the game when the scores were close, where Hobbs could get hand to ball quickly to release runners. Whilst his kicking wasn’t at its best, when he had time to steady himself up he placed his kicks well and made good decisions. He demonstrated his usual high work rate, with a gut run from the defensive 50 mark to the forward 50 resulting in him getting a mark and converting in the third quarter. His marking was strong for the game as well, spreading wide to be a switch or inboard kick option.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
11/04/2003 | 180cm/78kg | Forward/Midfielder

It was a game of two halves for the mercurial forward, struggling to consistently impact the contest in the first half, admittedly with limited forward 50 entries, but moving up into the midfield in the second half and providing a spark for Country around stoppages. He still provided an option when in the forwardline, getting good separation on his leads even if he wasn’t always used by teammates. When he moved into the midfield, he immediately impacted as he started roaming down into the defensive 50 and making smart leads to help Country get further up the ground, following up with his own classy use by foot. He became the best option to receive a handball from first possession winners at stoppages quite often, bursting away and kicking long forward in the latter stages of the contest, and getting himself on the scoreboard.

#6 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)
13/01/2003 | 184cm/77kg | Midfielder

Forming quite the partnership through the midfield with Hobbs, Macdonald brought some of the same strengths through the midfield. His positioning around stoppages meant he was at the fall of the ball at times where his teammates weren’t, winning first possession and following up with a quick handball or kick out of the pack. Macdonald’s game sense also allowed him to be the receiver from the first possession winner pretty consistently, balancing his game around stoppages quite well and allowing his teammates to play to their strengths. He presented well as a shorter option around the ground, being used a few times as a short inboard kick option, then following up with a bomb down forward. His kicking was shaky early on but ended up improving by the end of the game, getting better distance and placement. He brought his usual high workrate around the stoppages as well, flicking out handballs midair and laying tackles in close.

#17 Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
23/01/2003 | 186cm/83kg | Defender/Wing

Whilst not necessarily winning a massive amount of ball, Molan was one of the harder workers for Country around the defensive half of the ground. Molan’s most notable play came as he ran from the back pocket to receive a switch kick on the wing, handballing to a teammate and continuing his run to then receive a kick over the top from the same teammate, before slotting Country’s second goal. It was a play which perfectly demonstrated the hard work he’s become renowned for. He worked hard to pressure opponents in the defensive half as well, laying some good tackles – one where his opponent tried to fend him off was particularly eye catching. Molan pushed up the ground more and more as the game wore on, using his skills by hand to set up some scoring opportunities around the top of the forward 50.

#18 Tom Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
30/07/2003 | 186cm/71kg | Defender

Brown was particularly impressive in the second half of the contest, winning more possession and showcasing his impressive leap to beat taller opponents in the air. That leap didn’t always get him a mark, but often got him high enough to get a fist in to stop taller Metro opponents like Sam Darcy from taking marks inside 50. When he was the extra number in a contest, he flew high and took intercept marks in front oncoming packs. He took kick-ins for most of the game, balancing it up between short options and running it out before kicking long, where he looked faster than the Metro forwards were able to match. His kicking was measured and generally placed to the advantage of teammates.

#21 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels)
04/04/2003 | 195cm/84kg | Tall Defender

Gibcus was a typically assured aerial presence in the Country defence, taking impressive intercept marks in contested and uncontested fashion. His confidence to push off his opponent and impact the ball higher up the ground meant he intercepted in areas where Country was a bigger chance to score in transition, rather than from deep in defence. His leap meant he could afford to concede some ground on his opponents, as he would jump and spoil the ball against any opponent afield without issue. His handballing in tight was especially impressive for a tall player, appearing to prefer to handball it off rather than kick and looking comfortable delivering it even through traffic. A lot of onlookers came wanting to see Gibcus play on Metro’s Sam Darcy, as two of Victoria’s highest ratted key position prospects, and they were treated to the match up in the final quarter where the pair competed in a few one-on-one contests. Gibcus arguably came out on top of the battle, spoiling a lot of the balls that came in and keeping Darcy quiet.

#28 Mitchell Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
8/01/2003 | 193cm | Midfielder

Whilst not winning a massive amount of the ball, Knevitt looked one of the most well rounded players on ground with his skillset, showcasing well weighted kicks, high contested marks, quick hands in tight, burst around stoppages, and spread around the ground. It was around stoppages and in the thick of congestion where he did his best work, winning first possession well and then feeding out a handball to release runners into space. His kicking was good when he had time to compose himself, placing them well in front of leading forwards or distributing out wide for his teammates, but he was prone to the odd hack kick forward out of the stoppages. 

#36 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays)
12/04/2003 | 200cm/70kg | Tall Forward/Ruck

Pushing himself up draft boards after another big game performance, Andrew showed a lot of eye catching traits throughout the contest. Starting up forward, early on Andrew wasn’t holding a lot of his marks due to the pressure, but would treat aerial contests almost as ruck situations in open play, tapping the ball straight down in front of teammates and putting them in dangerous spots inside 50. He kicked the opening goal of the contest after getting separation and taking a mark on his chest, slotting it from about 50 out. Andrew used the ball well through the game, handballing into the right spots and taking safer shorter kicks more often than long bombs, keeping Country in possession. He looked to be the best ruck on ground when rolling through there as well, placing taps well for his midfielders and having moments where he followed up his own taps and won the ball at ground level. The highlight from Andrew’s game was his aerial work around the ground however, demonstrating his positional awareness and athleticism with some high leap contested marks, plus the ability to quickly get separation when up forward. He took one of his most impressive marks when stationed up forward, where at full pace on the lead he was nudged from the side, but managed to hold his balance and juggle the ball with one hand to take the mark. So strong was his aerial work, that Metro started to double team him down the line in an effort to body his leap and nullify his impact.

VIC METRO:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)
25/02/2003 | 174cm/76kg | Small Utility

The Collingwood NGA prospect played his role well as a creative small forward. Having played in the backline and midfield at times for Oakleigh, Dib is also a dangerous forward which he showed early in the game, providing a lot of spark and looking dangerous whenever he was around the ball. His agility stood out along with his clean hands at ground level, but he showed he could win the hard ball as well, as in the second quarter when he won a free kick in the process of attacking the contested ball at pace. Although Dib didn’t hit the scoreboard, he still caused headaches for the Country defenders with his ability to impact and stay involved, playing a mostly high half-forward role.

#4 Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

The elusive Calder Cannons midfielder has been in fine form in recent weeks and that continued again against Country, as he offered plenty of skill and composure through the engine room. Taylor’s agility and vision were key features of his game, able to turn on a dime to evade tackles and find a teammate by foot on his left, or preferred right side. Although he leans more to the outside as a midfielder, it suits his style with his composure and skill by hand and foot. He could have added scoreboard impact to his game with a tough attempt on the run in the last quarter, but it was nonetheless a solid hitout for Taylor, finishing with 21 disposals.

#6 Josh Ward (Northern Knights)
15/08/2003 | 181cm/79kg | Midfielder

Its been an incredible month for the Northern Knights midfielder, with his recent form putting him amongst the better performed ball winners in this year’s draft class, and his game against Country only further enhanced his stocks as he returned another stellar performance. It was no surprise to see Ward named as captain of Vic Metro, with his consistency and reliability undoubtedly loved by both his coaches and teammates, and Ward showed his ability to run both ways while leading from the front. Clean with ball in hand around the ground and barely missing a target by hand or foot, Ward would go on to impact the scoreboard in the second half with two classy goals; one in the third quarter after spinning nicely and kicking from long range, and then in the last quarter from a standard shot on the run. With 29 disposals, eight clearances and two goals, this was one of Ward’s most complete games to date.

#9 Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg | Defender

Wilmot has made a reputation for himself as a courageous and team orientated player, and that was of course a staple of his game on Saturday. The Northern Knights defender started the game well, taking a nice courageous intercept mark in front of incoming players. That same marking ability was also apparent in a contest in the second quarter, winning a mark against highly fancied prospect Josh Rachele, who he kept well under wraps in the first half before moving off him. Second and third efforts were a feature of his second half, constantly going for marks and tackles and his willingness to go and go again often had him winning possession eventually. On the bench and on-field Wilmot was a supportive teammate, giving encouragement and showing he wasn’t just out there to prove his own wares, but try and lift the whole team’s performance which will certainly be noticed by recruiters.

#12 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers)
3/01/2003 | 183cm/72kg | Midfielder

Writing about Daicos this year has felt like déjà vu, you could almost copy and paste any write up from his performances this year and it would describe his game to a tee. It was a clinical display from the highly rated Collingwood father-son prospect, with the silky ball magnet a presence around the ground for all four quarters. His obvious class was highlighted early with handball over his shoulder, easy as you like, and it’s a typical play from Daicos as he seems to make football seem like a breeze whenever he gets possession. His ability to win the ball around the ground stems from his workrate to get to spots that any seasoned midfielder would get to, which stems from a pure ability to read the game. Daicos, as usual, hit the scoreboard with his first coming from a steady set shot goal in the second quarter, and in the last quarter with a classy crumb and snap on his non-preferred. Daicos finished the game with 41 disposals, six clearances and two goals in what was a clinical display, made all to easy for the highly rated prospect.

#16 Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)
7/01/2003 | 186cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder

Still on the comeback trail from injury, the Sandringham prospect wasn’t quite able to showcase his top line speed against Country, but it was another positive step with a more prolific game compared to previous weeks – before injury struck again with an ankle knock sustained in a marking contest during the last quarter. Sinn offered plenty of drive with his kicking from half-back and despite a poor kick to start, he was able to work on it and even kicked nicely on his non-preferred. Sinn was involved heavily in five minute spurts in the first and third quarters, using his ability to follow up his disposals and get meterage with his long left foot. It’s a shame for Sinn to get injured again and hopefully he gets a more sustained run at it soon.

#24 Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2/06/2003 | 190cm/79kg | Midfielder

The Calder Cannons prospect has had a rich vein of form and that continued again with the athletic midfielder improving his draft stocks once more with a strong game. Goater showed plenty of traits you want to see in a midfielder with his ability to escape congestion via a burst of speed or spin out of tackles. He showed great composure in those situations, which was highlighted in the second quarter as he rode a Ben Hobbs tackle, who is one of the toughest and strongest tacklers in this year’s draft crop. Standing at 190cm his ability to show off his athletic traits along with his obvious talent with ball in hand will make him a very sought after prospect come November in this year’s draft. Goater’s kicking was the one area that let him down at times but his run and carry on the outside and his composure and skill by hand from stoppages was impactful. It couldn’t be doubted that he was amongst the very best players on the day, finishing with 23 disposals.

#36 Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
19/08/2003 | 204cm/75kg | Tall Utility/Ruck

Although it wasn’t the same goal fest like his last outing, the Western Bulldogs father-son prospect still showed why he is considered one of the leading prospects in this year’s draft pool, as the tall key forward provided a great target for Vic Metro inside 50. It took until he second quarter for Darcy to hit the scoreboard, kicking a lovely snap goal on his left after taking a strong mark in the pocket. His second and final goal came in the following quarter after taking a strong contested mark just inside 50, converting the long range set shot. Although it wasn’t his most prolific game on the season, Darcy was a real threat in the air and his skill really stands out for a player standing at 204cm.