Tag: ned cahill

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 7 – Ranges, Devils clinch thrillers

WITH the school football season in full swing and each Northern Academy back on their way past the Victorian border, normality resumed come Round 7 of the 2019 NAB League competition. Dandenong again remained the sole undefeated side after a top-against-bottom clash, while Eastern showed it was there to stay among the top four with a tense win over Sandringham.

But Avalon Airport Oval would play host to the weekend’s opening fixture, with country sides Geelong and Murray travelling to meet in Werribee. The Falcons looked like causing an upset against the inconsistent Bushrangers after a tight first half, but their inaccurate kicking for goal allowed Murray to hang in there and run over the top for a 21-point victory.

Prize GWS draftee and Murray co-captain Lachlan Ash took the field, notching 19 disposals and a goal, while over-agers Ben Kelly (16 disposals, 28 hitouts) and Zane Barzen (16 disposals, two goals) also impressed, and Cam Wild led all comers with 27 touches. Chas Karpala put in a solid shift for two goals from 20 disposals, only beaten by Charlie Harris‘ 21 touches. Husdon Kaak led the goalkicking stakes with five majors, while Geelong bottom-ager Ollie Henry booted three.

Western hosted Dandenong in Saturday’s only other fixture, but could not weather the home conditions in Williamstown as the Stingrays ran out 63-point winners. The visitors were in control all game having fielded a near full strength line-up, leading at every break and capping the result with seven final term goals.

Essendon draftee Ned Cahill was a constant threat up forward with four goals from 19 disposals, while a bottom-aged Eddie Ford was Western’s sole multiple goalkicker (two). The ball winners were out in numbers, as Darcy Cassar led the way with 29 touches, followed by 26 from Hayden Young and 25 from mid-season recruit, Mitch Riordan for the winners. Another 19-year-old, Daly Andrews (17 disposals, one goal) also pitched in among the losing effort for Western.

A much closer contest followed to open Sunday’s proceedings as Tasmania scraped ahead at the ideal time to edge Bendigo in a thriller. The Devils made a great start but were soon pegged back, still managing to lead at every break. That streak looked like being broken by the final siren, Jye Menzie saved the day with a goal after the siren to see his side hold on.

Menzie’s fourth goal came at the ideal time, and ensured he would double the goal tally of any other player afield. Four Pioneers managed multiple goals, with bottom-agers Sam Conforti (30 disposals, two goals) and Jack Ginnivan (27, two) the most prominent. In an even team performance for the Devils, Ben Simpson won the most ball (22 disposals), while third-gamer Isaac Chugg (15 disposals, 1.3) was dangerous and Sam Collins solid across half-back with 19 touches.

Onto the round’s fourth venue, and Gippsland found little difficulty in accounting for Calder on home turf, thumping the Cannons by 51 points as the visitors could only manage four goals for the game. The Power’s scoring flow got going after the main break, as they piled on nine goals to Calder’s three to coast to victory.

A number of eventual Gippsland draftees showed all their quality, with Brock Smith (28 disposals, one goal) leading all comers, while Sam Flanders (24 disposals, one goal), Charlie Comben (22 disposals, 22 hitouts), and Fraser Phillips (four goals) also caught the eye. Jacob Martin again racked up the pill for Calder with a game-high 33 touches, combining well with Daniel Mott (25 disposals) through midfield as Brodie Newman (22 disposals) also fared well.

The Northern Knights and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels also started their clash at 1pm, with the travelling Knights raiding Mars Stadium successfully. The hosts started the better side with narrow leads at the first two breaks, but were overrun by Northern’s nine-goal second half as they went down by 32 points.

Northern’s strong bodies through midfield made their mark, with Sunny Brazier managing three goals from 19 disposals, while Carlton draftee Sam Philp booted two from his 20 touches. Ryan Sturgess also got on the board as he found the ball 26 times, but found himself beaten out by GWV’s Jay Rantall (36 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. Toby Mahony (20 disposals, three goals) and Mitch Martin (18, two) were others to stand up for the Rebels.

Arguably the best game of the lot was left for last as top four hopefuls Eastern and Sandringham locked horns at RSEA Park to see out the weekend’s action. 13 points was the game’s biggest lead – held by the Dragons early on – as the home side managed to nab a lead at the first three breaks. But Eastern would find an extra gear in the clutch, keeping Sandringham goalless in the final term to come away nine-point winners.

Sydney mid-season draftee Cody Hirst raised his hand for a call-up in his final game for the Ranges, amassing 31 disposals while Zak Pretty had a game-high 33 and bottom-aged gun Connor Downie managed 25 to go with a goal. Ryan Byrnes was Sandringham’s best, collecting 28 touches ahead of Angus Hanrahan (27), while Jake Bowey had 23 and Miles Bergman showed glimpses with his 18 touches and one major.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 6 – Academies bow out, Stingrays go top

FANS, recruiters, and pundits alike were treated to another eight games in Round 6 of the 2019 NAB League, with the early-May weekend serving as the last for each of the five Northern Academies’ cameos. Reigning premier Dandenong broke clear as the sole undefeated side left, while Gold Coast was crowned the Academy Series victor via percentage after Sydney lost its only game for the season. A thrilling finals preview also went down as Gippsland and Eastern battled it out, with the Power getting the better of the eventual premiers on home turf.

The round kicked off in North Hobart, with Tasmania playing host to the heavily-depleted Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday morning. It was the visitors who managed to scrape home in a nail-biting, low-scoring slog by the slimmest of margins, overcoming a half-time deficit to keep the Devils at bay. Winning skipper Trent Bianco, the only national draftee afield dominated with 42 disposals as he stepped-up in the absence of some key personnel.

Fellow top-ager Josh May was also influential with 28 touches, while bottom-aged midfielder Fraser Elliot had it 23 times, and Thomas Lovell put in his best shift for the season with four majors. For the Devils, Harrison Ireland was named best for his work as an undersized ruck, with bottom-age gun Oliver Davis getting to work at ground level with a team-high 21 touches, and fellow Allies Hub member Sam Collins not far behind on 18.

The GWS Academy and Murray Bushrangers went to battle on the New South Wales-Victorian border at midday, with the GIANTS coming away with their second win from five attempts. It was a well drawn out win for the ‘away’ side in its home state, leading at every break but being made to earn the 11-point victory. In another game headlined by the dominance of a future draftee, Tom Green amassed 37 touches for the GIANTS in a mammoth performance.

Over-agers Jeromy Lucas (33 disposals) and Ed Perryman (31) were not far behind, while Harry Grant put in a big shift for 3.2 from his 23 touches, and 2020 19-year-old hopefuls Matt McGrory and Liam Delahunty also got busy. Green’s current GIANTS teammate Lachlan Ash collected 27 touches and booted a goal as Murray’s skipper, aided by Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild who matched his ball-winning output. Jimmy Boyer also impressed with three goals from over 20 disposals, while former GWS Academy member Charlie Byrne had 20 touches exactly.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back down to Victoria, as Calder and Bendigo met at Highgate Reserve. It was the Cannons’ day in another low-scoring affair, leading relatively comfortably at every break to eek out a 16-point win over the Pioneers on home turf. The leading Calder draft candidate to that point, Daniel Mott led the way with 36 disposals and a goal in a game which featured just two eventual draftees.

Jacob Martin enjoyed a breakout performance, racking up 36 touches of his own alongside Mott, while skipper Brodie Newman had 21 from defence and Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay had 16 on the same line. James Schischka was Bendigo’s leading ball winner with 20 disposals, with Sydney draftee Brady Rowles collecting his season-high haul of 17 in tricky conditions.

Heading up north to South Pine in the Sunshine State, Gold Coast took out the overall Academy Series with a well-earned 14-point victory over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The visitors pushed the talented academy prospects all the way despite trailing for the game’s entirety, with captain and SUNS AFL rookie Connor Budarick capping off a stellar month with another terrific performance.

His 23 disposals led all comers, with the exciting Hewago Paul Oea managing 19 and two goals, while Ashton Crossley provided good fold in midfield with 19 touches. Bottom-ager Max Pescud booted a game-high four majors, matched by Rebels’ Nick Caris in his second consecutive four-goal game. 2020 over-age hopeful Isaac Wareham notched two goals of his own, with fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Martin also impressing, but Jay Rantall kept quiet at just 14 disposals.

Completing the South Pine double-header were the Brisbane Lions Academy and Dandenong Stingrays, with the visitors claiming a resounding 71-point win on their travels up north. After a low-scoring first half, the Stingrays clicked into gear after the main break with 10 goals to one to comfortably ensure they would remain undefeated and atop the NAB League ladder.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn stood tall in the defeat with a typically professional 32-disposal performance, with fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland (26 disposals) also returning a good shift. 19-year-old Tom Matthews matched Cumberland’s effort, with bottom-agers Will Tasker and Tahj Abberley also impressing. For Dandenong, new Bulldog Cody Weightman bagged three goals, while fellow draftees Hayden Young (28 disposals), Sam De Koning (17, seven marks) Ned Cahill (21, 1 goal) strutted their stuff. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was another to catch the eye, booting two goals from 21 touches.

A touch earlier and back in Victoria, the Geelong Falcons proved too good for the previously undefeated Sydney Swans Academy in their clash on neutral territory, upsetting the northern hopefuls with a 31-point win. The home side’s four-goal to one fourth term sealed the final margin, with the contest a touch tighter to that point.

It was the bottom-ager who stole the show in this clash, as Ollie Henry booted four goals for the Falcons alongside Charlie Brauer‘s two, while Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden both managed 22 disposals and a goal each. Geelong captain Jesse Clark was the leading ball winner on the ground with 25 touches, followed closely by Sydney top-ager Sam Thorne (24).

Not much may have been expected of the Gippsland-Eastern clash coming into the season, but it proved to be a belting finals preview as the Power took out the four points in Morwell. The game was tight the whole way through, with the high-quality contest ending in a 10-point triumph to the home side.

As had been the case in previous fixtures, the cream rose to the top as Sam Flanders (25 disposals, two goals), Brock Smith (27 disposals), and Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) all enjoyed fantastic outings for the winners. The midfield trio of Zak Pretty (28 disposals), Lachlan Stapleton (28), and Mitch Mellis (21) was just as handy for Eastern, while forwards Bailey White and Ben Hickleton notched three goals apiece.

The final game of the round saw a seventh venue used in Ikon Park, as the Northern Knights held off a fast-finishing Northern Territory Thunder Academy. A six-goal third term saw the Knights double their goal tally, and it set up a match-defining margin as they went on to salute to the tune of 38 points. The NT’s campaign would finish winless, but not for a lack of trying and talent.

Josh D’Intinosante and Jackson Davies both had a good amount of ball while also booting two goals each for the winners, while 2020 Vic Metro Hub member Liam McMahon also managed two goals from his 15 disposals and eight marks. Ben Jungfer was the Thunder’s leading ball winner with 22 touches, but it was Malcolm Rosas Jnr who shone with 21 and two goals, while Joel Jeffrey found the ball 21 times, Beau O’Connell 19, and Brodie Lake 16.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 5 – Dragons, Ranges humble Academies to go top

ROUND 5 of the 2019 NAB League season saw the Victorian mainstays peg back their Northern visitors in an action packed nine-game weekend. Sandringham and Eastern delivered big wins over the two Queensland academies at Trevor Barker Oval, while the Sydney Academy won strongly to remain undefeated alongside Dandenong (3-0-1).

But first to take the field were the Bendigo Pioneers and Northern Knights at Queen Elizabeth Oval, with the visitors taking four points back to Preston after trailing at every other break. After streaming ahead by 17 points at half-time with double the goal tally, the Pioneers ran out of legs to be held to just one major in the second half as the Knights snuck ahead to come away five-point victors.

As was a theme in Round 5, both sides were weakened but had some solid talent running around from each age bracket. Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier had plenty of the ball while also hitting the scoreboard, while Lachlan Potter created some zip on the outside. Top-age Pioneers James Schischka, Ben Worme, and Logan Fitzgerald all had 25 touches, while bottom-age jet Jack Ginnivan showed promise with 20 and a goal.

Sam Philp was the best ball winner of the 2019 draftees, earning 17 touches for Northern, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles had just 11 as he popped up in spurts. Ryan Sturgess, who almost joined Philp at the Blues as a supplementary top-up, was also impressive with 21 disposals and seven marks.

Saturday’s first game opened a Blacktown double-header as the Swans Academy accounted for Murray in a close encounter to move to equal-first. The Sydneysiders shot out of the blocks with five goals to nil to open the match, adding another four in the second term to lead by six goals at half time. Although they fared much better in the second half, the Bushrangers could not fully recover the deficit and went down by 24 points.

Sydney over-ager Kyle Martin led all comers with 29 disposals, just one touch ahead of Bushrangers runner Cam Wild (28, one goal). Dylan Clarke also led the way for Murray with 23 disposals, with Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Sam Durham all also ticking over the 20-mark. Max Geddes (23 disposals) was also influential for the Swans, but it was big man Hamish Ellem who stole the show with 22 disposals, nine marks, and 3.3 in a performance which went a long way to securing him an Allies berth.

The GWS Academy was next up on its home turf against another Victorian country side in Gippsland, only it could not repeat the feats of its New South Wales rival. The GIANTS trailed at every break but brought the contest to the highly-fancied Power, getting within a single point at three-quarter time before falling by nine points.

Harry Grant had an outstanding game for GWS, booting two goals from his game-high 31 disposals, while Oakleigh squad member Jeromy Lucas had 24 touches and newly-transferred Northern Knight Liam Delahunty booted two goals. But a talent rich Gippsland unit was led well by Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Hawthorn rookie Harrison Pepper (26 disposals, one goal), with Riley Baldi also stepping up through midfield. Draftees Kyle Dunkley, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben were also in action for the Power.

Skipping back, and Dandenong extended its unbeaten start to the season with a huge win over Oakleigh on home turf. After a tight opener, the Stingrays played the conditions perfectly to pile on eight goals in the second term, and seven in the last to storm away 70-point victors with 11 individual goalkickers.

Lachlan Williams and Ned Cahill slotted three majors each for the winners, while bottom-ager Will Bravo slotted two and Richmond recruit Bigoa Nyuon managed one from 17 touches. Cahill was the leading disposal getter with 29, while Joe Ayton-Delaney, Lochlan Jenkins, and Trent Bianco all managed 24 for the Chargers. Port draftee Dylan Williams went goalless in a different role, while Gold Coast mid-season recruit Mitch Riordan had 15 touches and Melbourne rookie Austin Bradtke had just eight disposals and a goal.

Saturday’s other double-header began with Sandringham thumping the Brisbane Lions Academy by 97 points on home turf. The Lions had won just one game to that point, and were in for more immediate pain as the Dragons helped themselves to 13 first half goals while holding the visitors to one. There was no way back from there, with Sandringham coasting to victory.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn was one of the sole Lions to stand up all day, collecting a game-high 31 touches while fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland was kept to just nine. Louis Butler and Ryan Byrnes strutted their stuff for the Dragons to win plenty of the ball, while Miles Bergman started to get into his stride with 17 touches, Jack Bell impressed with two goals from the same disposal haul, and Blake O’Leary finished with a game-high three goals.

Eastern completed the academy rout with a defensively sound 59-point thumping of Gold Coast’s academy, keeping the SUNS to just two goals. After just three goals were scored in the first half, the Ranges clicked into gear to break the game open with seven in the third term and run home comfortable winners.

Zak Pretty had a monster day out with 37 disposals, aided well by Lachlan Stapleton (27) and Mitch Mellis (24), while bottom-age defenders Wil Parker and Josh Clarke also impressed. Bailey White led the goal count with four, while Jamieson Rossiter managed three and Cody Hirst played one of his last games before being snapped up by Sydney. Skipper Connor Budarick was the standout for Gold Coast, accumulating 27 touches, with bottom-ager Max Pescud also thereabouts, and fellow SUNS recruits Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh also taking the field.

Saturday’s final fixture saw Calder edge Geelong in a close battle at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with both sides enjoying time in the lead. The Cannons looked the goods after coming out on top in a low-scoring first half, but were pegged back to within a point at the final break. Keeping their heads, the hosts held on to win by seven points.

Sam Ramsay was the sole draftee afield, and he had a decent outing with 27 disposals – behind only Daniel Mott (29) and Brodie Newman (36). Ned Gentile booted three goals from 21 disposals to also be among the best, while skipper Jesse Clark claimed that honour for Geelong. Nineteen-year-old Charlie Sprague was another to impress with two goals from 18 touches, with fellow over-ager Henry Stubbings managing 20.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and Western got the better of Tasmania in their trip to the Apple Isle, trumping the hosts by 47 points to get within touch of the top four. A steady opening half saw Tasmania prove wasteful, booting 1.6 as Western eventually took flight to run home with six goals to two after half-time.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton took full toll with a game-high three majors, supported well by Carlton rookie Josh Honey (two from 25 disposals) and bottom-age jet Eddie Ford (two from 16 disposals). Darcy Cassar racked it up across half back to finish with 31 disposals, while Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon shared that feat for Tasmania (25). Isaac Chugg was also impressive on debut for a Devils side which was missing a lot of its star power.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels took home a huge win in the round’s final match, defeating the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 55 points on neutral territory. The Rebels never looked back after a 10 goals to one opening half at Windy Hill, which proved more than enough for the win despite a more even second half.

Nick Caris led the goal count with four for GWV, while Jay Rantall (27 disposals, two goals), Matty Lloyd (28, two), and Riley Polkinghorne (23, two) all had an impact. There was plenty of class on show for NT despite the loss too, with Beau O’Connell (29 disposals, two goals) having a day out, while Ben Jungfer had it 28 times, Joel Jeffrey had 24 touches and six marks, and new SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr also got on the park.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 3 – First draw of the season in Country Triple Header

IN an action-packed nine games of NAB League Boys action, spectators witnessed the season’s first draw at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo as part of a huge triple header for the six country teams. The round also included a double header at Trevor Barker Oval the day before, while the Northern Academies went head-to-head across the nation, and the standalone game at RAMS Arena was a close one.

Opening up the round in Sandringham with the double header changed from Preston was the Northern Knights taking on Eastern Ranges. From the start it was clear the Ranges were going to be too strong, and by half-time led by 26 points. It would only get worse for the Knights in the second half, as Eastern piled on 7.9 to 0.2, to run away 75-point winners.

Mitch Mellis was best on ground with three goals from 29 touches, six marks, six tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while the likes of Zakery Pretty (26 disposals, five marks, three tackles, nine clearances and three inside 50s) and James Ross (30 disposals, three marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds) were not too far behind. Connor Downie (25 touches, five marks, five inside 50s and a goal), Josh Clarke (24 touches, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Lachlan Gawel (21 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) were all prolific, while Cody Hirst (19 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) looked impressive in one of his few games prior to being drafted by Sydney.

Sam Philp was a clear standout for the losing side as he amassed 26 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ryan Gardner (23 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three rebounds) worked hard on the outside, Josh D’Intinosante (21 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) was busy through midfield, and Jackson Davies (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) did his best in defence.

The second game at Trevor Barker Oval was much closer with perennial rivals and premiership contenders, Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers going at it. The end result was a 10-point win to the Dragons after booting five goals to two in the middle two quarters and then holding off a Chargers comeback to grab the bragging rights, 9.11 (65) to 8.7 (55).

Jack Mahony led the way for his side with 25 touches, five marks, five tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, teaming up well in midfield with Finn Maginness (24 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and Ryan Byrnes (21 disposals, four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds). Josh Worrell was a rock in defence thanks to 23 touches, four marks, four tackles and five rebounds, while up forward, Charlie Dean continued his good form with 16 disposals, six marks and two goals.

It was no surprise to see who led the way despite the loss for the Chargers with Matt Rowell (31 disposals, seven marks, 11 tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) dominating alongside Noah Anderson (26 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals). Future Magpie, Trent Bianco picked up 26 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds, while bottom-age talent, Will Phillips had 21 touches, seven marks and three tackles of his own. Dylan Williams booted three goals from nine disposals and four marks up forward.

Up at RAMS Arena, Calder Cannons kicked away in the final term against Western Jets to win by 12 points in what was a thrilling contest. It was only a two goals to one final quarter, but that was enough to see the home side in front at the final siren after leading by just three points at the final break. Western had worked its way back into the game after trailing by 19 and 15 points at the quarter time and half-time breaks respectively, but would ultimately not do enough to get the points in the end.

Cannons captain Daniel Mott had the ball on a string thanks to 32 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Harrison Minton-Connell joined him with leather poisoning after 30 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven clearances, two inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal. Flynn Lakey (26 disposals, five marks, four clearances and two rebounds) and Jake Sutton (18 disposals, seven marks, three clearances and six inside 50s) were busy, while Harrison Jones showed off his versatility after 17 disposals, eight marks, four hitouts and three inside 50s.

Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett were saviours in the defensive 50, combining for 44 disposals, 12 marks and 15 rebounds in a hard working effort for the Jets. Up forward, excitement machine Eddie Ford had 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Will Kennedy racked up a whopping 41 hitouts to go with 15 rouches, five marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Of the future draftees, Josh Honey had 14 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and a goal, while Emerson Jeka took six marks from nine touches and laid three tackles.

Heading north to Yeronga, the Gold Coast Suns Academy booted the last six goals of the game and five goals to zero in the final term, to post a 10.10 (70) to 5.12 (42) victory over cross-state rivals, Brisbane Lions Academy. The Lions had led by two points at the final break, but it was all Gold Coast in the last term as they ran away with the points.

Ashton Crossley racked up 31 touches, four marks, 10 clearances and two inside 50s, teaming up well with future Sun, Connor Budarick (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s) and bottom-age talent, Alex Davies (22 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds). Josh Gore booted three majors from 12 disposals and seven marks, while another future senior Sun in Matthew Conroy kicked two last quarter goals from eight touches, three marks and 25 hitouts. Hewago Paul Oea was also lively with 17 disposals, three marks, eight inside 50s and a goal.

For the Lions, Tom Griffiths (27 disposals, five marks and four rebounds) and Bruce Reville (26 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) had the most touches, while Saxon Crozier (19 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Ethan Hunt (18 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and six rebounds) were also busy. Future Tigers, Noah Cumberland (13 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Will Martyn (12 disposals, five tackles) played in the match as well.

In another dominant performance late, Sydney Swans Academy stormed past GWS GIANTS to win by 59 points in Canberra. The Swans trailed at quarter time and half-time, but piled on 12 goals to two in the second half to run away with the contest and gain some serious bragging rights early in the Academy Series.

It was a strong team effort from the Swans, with Jackson Barling (24 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three clearances) and Lachlan Swaney (22 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) both prominent. Captain Sam Thorne (19 touches, six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s) was busy, while Harrison Parker and Braeden Campbell both booted three goals in the win.

For the GIANTS it was all about Tom Green who racked up 28 touches, six marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Jeromy Lucas (25 touches, four marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) and James Peatling (24 touches, seven marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) provided support. Liam Delahunty (10 touches, six marks and two goals) was busy up forward, while Nick Murray (15 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds) stood tall under siege in defence.

Heading into the city for a clash between Northern territory and Tasmania, it was the Devils who came away with their first win after a slow start. Trailing by 10 points at the first break, Tasmania piled on 12 goals to three after that to finish with a commanding 13.14 (92) to 6.8 (44) victory over the Thunder.

Leading draft prospect, Mitch O’Neill had the ball on a string with 35 disposals, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds, as Rhyan Mansell (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Oliver Davis (22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s) provided great service to the forwards. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow showed just what he was capable of with five majors from 19 disposals and eight marks, while Matthew McGuinness was a reliever in defence with 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds.

All eyes were on Richmond father-son bottom-age prospect Maurice Rioli Jnr for the Thunder, and he had 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in a lively display. Others who impressed included Stephen Cumming (22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances), and bottom-age hopefuls, Joel Jeffrey (20 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and a goal), Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds).

Heading up the highway to Bendigo, the country triple header took place at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Pioneers were battling against premiership contender, Gippsland Power and had themselves right in the contest until the final term. The Power led by just one point at the last break, but piled on 4.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with a 12.10 (82) to 8.10 (58) victory.

Future first round pick, Caleb Serong helped himself to 23 disposals, five marks, three tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while another first round selection in Sam Flanders amassed 20 touches, two marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s), Sam Berry (20 disposals, three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal), Kyle Dunkley (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal) and Leo Connolly (15 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and six rebounds) were among the best across the four quarters, while Fraser Phillips booted three goals from 12 touches and four marks.

Bendigo’s own future first round pick in Brodie Kemp had a day out with 21 disposals, four marks, three tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, teaming up well in midfield with Sam Conforti (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Jeremy Rodi (19 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds). Riley Wilson (14 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds) was prominent in midfield, while Logan Fitzgerald and Brady Rowles combined for 26 disposals and nine rebounds in defence.

The second game was the best of the lot, with Dandenong Stingrays splitting the points with Geelong Falcons. In a wind-affected day, the see-sawing contested had everyone on the edge of their seat. Trailing by 30 points at the final break but with the wind behind their backs, the Stingrays booted 5.6 to 1.0 and managed to draw level at 12.11 (83) apiece thanks to a kick after the siren.

Ned Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s, as all of Dandenong’s future draftees stood out. Hayden Young had 22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, Cody Weightman had 20 touches, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, and Sam De Koning picked up 17 disposals, three marks, four hitouts and two goals, switching into attack in the last quarter and being a huge influence on the result.

The game was unfortunately the last for Geelong’s sole draftee, Cooper Stephens who broke his leg in the first term and would not play another game in season 2019. Jesse Clark (26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 touches, eight marks and five rebounds) worked hard, while bottom-agers, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, nine tackles and seven inside 50s) were among their side’s best.

In the final game of the round, Murray Bushrangers came back from a goal down at the final break to find their kicking boots and defeat Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. The Bushrangers had booted 6.12 to three quarter time – four more scoring shots than their opponents – but trailed them by a goal. They picked it up in the final term to slot 3.3 to 1.2 and record a 9.15 (69) to 9.8 (62) victory.

Lachlan Ash had a team-high 28 disposals, six marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals, five marks, six tackles, three clearance and five inside 50s) and Jimmy Boyer (22 disposals, nine marks and two rebounds) found plenty of the ball. In midfield, Cameron Wild (20 disposals, four marks, three clearances and seven inside 50s) and Dylan Clarke (17 disposals, three marks, four tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were strong.

Jay Rantall was a clear standout for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 31 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals in a complete game. Mitch Martin (22 disposals, 10 marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) was also impressive, while James Cleaver and Emmanuel Ajang combined for 33 disposals, 10 marks and 13 rebounds in defence.

Classic Contests: Stingrays and Falcons play out first draw of season

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, where these two teams faced off in a wind-swept game in Bendigo to eventually split the points.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.0 | 7.4 | 7.5 | 12.11 (83)
GEELONG FALCONS 5.5 | 6.6 | 11.11 | 12.11 (83)

Round 3 | Saturday, April 7, 2019
Queen Elizabeth Oval, 12.30pm

The reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays headed into the Round 3 clash undefeated, but only just. They had survived a comeback against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by a goal, then won in a thriller against Murray Bushrangers by five points just a round earlier. The Falcons had lost in heart-breaking circumstances to the Rebels in Round 2, but it was a much better effort than their Round 1 thumping at the hands of Bendigo Pioneers. Nonetheless, Dandenong headed in as favourites based on overall form, though the weather threatened to make it challenging for all involved.

Geelong had the breeze in the opening term and had plenty of chances, booting 5.5 from 10 scoring opportunities, though it was Dandenong’s accuracy – three goals from as many scoring shots – that had the Stingrays buoyant early on. It took Dandenong six minutes to get the early chance in the second term as Cody Weightman kicked a ripper to cut the deficit to 10 points. Melbourne-listed Austin Bradtke made it two consecutive goals for the Stingrays and the teams were separated by just a kick, before Oliver Henry steadied the ship with an important goal – his second of the contest. It would be Geelong’s only major of the term, as Dandenong added two more, with Corey Ellison booting his second and Reece Orchard his first in the last minute for the Stingrays to hit the front by four points at half-time.

Regaining the benefit of the breeze, Henry converted his third and fourth goals either side of a Mitch Langan major. Gennaro Bove and Sheldon Ham soon joined the party and the Falcons had five consecutive goals on the board and led by 30 points at the main break in what was truly a complete domination and utilising the breeze to perfection. Trailing by five goals at the last change, Dandenong Stingrays made a swap, throwing key defender Sam De Koning into attack for the last term to provide a target with the wind in their favour. It seemed only a matter of time before the Stingrays began to chase the Falcons down, and Nathan Heath was the first on the board in the opening three minutes, before De Koning converted in the 10th minute shortly after a behind and the deficit was 15 points with 15 minutes on the clock.

Out of nowhere and against the run of play, Henry stepped up for the Falcons and booted a crucial fifth goal to push the margin back out to 21 – it would be Geelong’s last score for the game. Dandenong relentlessly attacked as De Koning kicked a second major, while Luca Goonan also made good on a chance. With five minutes left, Ned Cahill missed and the margin was a flat six points. The ball was camped inside Dandenong’s forward line for the last five minutes, with plenty of chances to rush through a crucial behind, but the Stingrays were going all-out, though as it would show in hindsight, a behind could have won them the game. Instead, it took until a mark just seconds before the siren – to Heath – before a result would be decided. He calmly came in slotted the goal with Dandenong celebrating. It had been a terrific comeback, but at the end of the day, both teams split the points and it was a deserving finish to a game of that quality.

Henry deservingly finished as the standout player on the ground with 11 touches, seven marks and five goals in such challenging conditions. Jesse Clark had 26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds, working hard defensively with Keidan Rayner (16 disposals, three marks and five rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 disposals, eight marks and five rebounds). In the forward half, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, while Chas Karpala (20 disposals, 10 tackles), Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, seven clearances and nine tackles) and Ham (15 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal) were also among the best.

For the Stingrays, future Bomber, Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s through the midfield, working well with the skill of Hayden Young (22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds) and the X-factor of Weightman (20 disposals, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal). De Koning finished the game with 17 touches, three marks and two goals, while Mitch Riordan had 16 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s. Ellison (three goals), Goonan (two) and Heath (two) were the multiple goalkickers with De Koning, while Jack Toner was busy with 13 disposals, four clearances and five inside 50s.

Dandenong Stingrays would end up reaching the first week of finals before losing to Calder Cannons, while Geelong Falcons’ season would end at the hands of Sandringham Dragons in Wildcard Round.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 2 – Academies join competition

ROUND 2 last year will be forever known as the return of Allied teams to the Victorian Under-18 boys competition. While some states have participated in past years on and off, all four northern Academies, along with Northern Territory Thunder joined the competition. Tasmania Devils also joined in, but on a full-time basis, with the Devils playing their first official match in the round across a whopping nine games.

Kicking off the round as part of a Triple Header at Blacktown, Tasmania travelled north for its first game, coming up against Sydney Swans Academy. The Devils had to wait until the second term to score, as the Swans booted 3.7 before Nicholas Baker made history as the first official goalkicker for the Devils. A goal to Jye Menzie just 19 seconds into the third term saw the margin cut as little as five points, but that was as close as it got for the rest of the game as the Swans booted the last three goals of the term to be 26 points up at the final break. Jackson Callow converted another major in the opening minute of the final term to give his team a sniff, and by the time Will Harper put his second on the board, the margin was just nine points with 14 minutes remaining. Unfortunately for the visitors, Marc Sheather kicked a settling goal to help ease the pressure and the Swans got up by 14 points.

Bottom-age talent, Errol Gulden had a day out with 33 disposals, six marks, three tackles, two clearances, eight inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, with Sam Thorne (23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) also prominent for the Swans. Another talented bottom ager in Braeden Campbell collected 15 disposals, three marks, eight tackles and five inside 50s, while Kyle McKellar and Jackson Barling were also impressive. For the Devils, overager Matthew McGuinness picked up 27 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds, working hard with Patrick Walker (25 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds) and Sam Collins (23 disposals, five marks and nine rebounds) in defence. The Devils’ top rated prospect, Mitch O’Neill helped himself to 21 touches, nine tackles, 12 clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds in the loss.

In the next game at Blacktown, the Brisbane Lions Academy fought back from a disappointing first quarter to down the GIANTS Academy, winning 14.12 (96) to 10.10 (70). GWS led by 19 points at quarter time, but a six goals to three second term had Brisbane just three points down by the main break. A seven goals to three second half saw the Lions run over the top of the GIANTS despite the best efforts of GIANTS star, Tom Green (29 disposals – 18 contested – nine clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and three tackles).

Will Martyn (30 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, as was the likes of Tom Griffiths (20 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Ethan Hunt (19 disposals) and Bruce Reville (16 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s). Aside from Green, Jeromy Lucas had his fair share of the ball with 24 touches, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Matt McGrory (18 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s), Nick Murray (19 disposals, 10 marks), Lachlan Squire (15 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Liam Delahunty (15 disposals, seven marks, three inside 50s and three goals) all impressed.

Rounding out the triple header at Blacktown, Gold Coast Suns Academy never looked like losing to Northern Territory. The Suns piled on eight goals to one in the opening half, and while the Thunder hit back in the third term to cut the deficit to 31 points, Gold Coast stepped up again to boot three goals to one in the final term and win by 44 points.

Ashton Crossley had 27 disposals and seven clearances through the midfield, while top prospect, Connor Budarick racked up 22 touches, six marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal across the ground. Bottom-age talent, Alex Davies had 22 touches, nine clearances, four tackles and four inside 50s, while Max Pescud (20 touches, three clearances and three inside 50s), Hewago Paul Oea (16 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal) and Josh Gore (15 touches, three marks, seven tackles and three goals) all looked lively. Future Sun, Matthew Conroy looked strong through the ruck with 22 hitouts from 15 touches, three marks and a goal.

Heading down to Victoria and Dandenong Stingrays caused a boil-over against premiership contenders, Gippsland Power. The reigning premiers had a new-look line-up after the 2018 success, but started strongly to lead by a goal at quarter time. Gippsland hit the front to have the advantage by half-time, but it flipped again by the last break with the Stingrays in front by four points. When Bailey Schmidt kicked a goal with six minutes to play, the Stingrays hit the front and never surrendered it in a match that had a whopping 11 lead changes.

Mitch Riordan picked up 23 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds in one of his few games before being selected in the mid-season draft, as captain Hayden Young was strong off half-back with 21 disposals, four marks, five tackles and three rebounds. Jack Toner (19 touches, two marks, five tackles, five clearances and seven inside 50s) had a truckload of the ball, while future first round pick, Cody Weightman racked up 14 disposals, five marks, six tackles and a goal. Other future draftees who played in the game included Ned Cahill (12 disposals, seven tackles and a goal), Bigoa Nyuon (six disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal) and Sam De Koning (four disposals).

For the Power, first round picks Sam Flanders (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) and Caleb Serong (21 disposals, nine tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) were prominent. Another mid-season recruit in Kyle Dunkley (20 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) was lively again, while Leo Connolly (16 disposals, three marks and six rebounds), Fraser Phillips (15 disposals, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Harrison Pepper (14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, three clearances and one goal) were among other future draftees who impressed.

In the other Saturday game, Murray Bushrangers had a second heart-breaking loss in a row, losing by five points to Bendigo Pioneers after dropping their first game by under a kick. They led by 18 points at the first change, but the Pioneers booted three goals to zero in the second term to lead by half-time, and then a see-sawing contest ensued with the Pioneers saluting in a thrilling game.

Thomson Dow was busy with 24 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven clearances and a goal, as fellow first round pick, Brodie Kemp had a strong day out with 17 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal. Future Swan, Brady Rowles would have 12 touches, two clearances and two inside 50s, while Logan Fitzgerald (22 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and four rebounds) had plenty of the ball. Cam Wild was the prominent ball winner with 30 touches, seven marks, seven tackles, seven clearances, three inside 50s and six rebounds, while top five pick Lachlan Ash had 26 touches, eight marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds. Jye Chalcraft (26 touches, four marks, six clearances and two goals), Will Quirk (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Elijah Hollands (22 disposals, three marks and a goal) were also impressive.

Looking to Sunday, Sandringham Dragons continued their form to start the season with a comfortable 43-point win over Northern Knights. The Dragons booted six goals to two in the opening half and then kept their opponents at arms-length after that to secure a strong win in the first of two games at Trevor Barker Oval.

Ryan Byrnes picked up 24 touches, two marks, four tackles and six clearances, as Louis Butler looked lively across the ground thanks to 18 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Jack Mahony (17 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s), Hugo Ralphsmith (17 disposals, three marks), Josh Worrell (17 disposals, seven marks and three rebounds) and Finn Maginness (14 disposals, six tackles and four inside 50s) were among future draftees to win plenty of the ball as Charlie Dean caught attention with four majors from 15 touches and eight marks. Adam Carafa (28 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Sam Philp (18 disposals, eight marks and five clearances) were busy through midfield, while Ryan Gardner (19 disposals, five inside 50s) worked the outside and Ryan Sturgess (22 touches, eight rebounds) was strong in defence.

A dominant six goals to zero first term set Eastern Ranges up for an impressive 63-point win over Western in the second game of a double header at Trevor Barker Oval. With 13 scoring shots to one in the first term, the margin could have been bigger than the 42 points, and while Western managed to stem the bleeding after that, the Ranges had opened up a 58-point lead by the final break to ensure they would enjoy a big win.

Mitch Mellis (35 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and three goals) and Lachlan Stapleton (33 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, six clearances and 10 inside 50s) ran rampant as future Swan, Cody Hirst (29 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and three rebounds) and inside midfielder, Zakery Pretty (23 disposals, two marks, five clearances and five inside 50s were also prominent. Bottom-ager Josh Clarke work hard with his run-and-carry picking up 15 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal, while Josh Tilly capped off his day with three majors. For the Jets, Darcy Cassar had the ball on a string from defence, racking up 31 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and nine rebounds, working in tandem with Daly Andrews (24 disposals, six marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and eight rebounds). Josh Kellett was instrumental mopping up in defence as well with 12 rebounds to go with his 20 touches in the defeat.

In the final game of the round, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels put the Round 1 heart-breaking loss to Dandenong Stingrays to the back of their mind as they came from behind to down the Geelong Falcons by a point in a thrilling contest. Darcy McEldrew kicked the winning goal late in the fourth term to get his side over the line. Jay Rantall was enormous in his second game for the Rebels, racking up 24 disposals, three marks, six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while James Cleaver booted two majors from 17 touches in his new role up forward. Cooper Craig-Peters impressive with six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds from 19 disposals and eight tackles, while Riley Polkinghorne had seven rebounds working hard out of defence.

Cooper Stephens led from the front in his last full game prior to injury, amassing a game-high 28 touches, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and a goal, while Charlie Lazzaro worked hard as a bottom-ager to pick up 26 touches, four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Out of defence, Keidan Rayner racked up 10 rebounds with his 25 disposals, while Jesse Clark had nine and 16 respectively. Also busy but in the other half of the ground was Charlie Sprague (23 disposals, three marks and seven inside 50s).

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 1 – Future Blues light up Ikon Park

A SPIRITED comeback from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels was not enough to see them topple the Dandenong Stingrays in the opening round of the 2019 season. The Stingrays led by as much as 36 points at the 15-minute mark of the third term, before the Rebels bolted home to boot eight of the last 12 goals to get within eight points with eight minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the home side, they could only manage back-to-back behinds on the day.

Captain and top prospect, Hayden Young had 15 disposals, five marks, four tackles and seven rebounds in the Stingrays’ win, while the talented Cody Weightman had 12 disposals, two tackles, three inside 50s and a goal. It was Lachlan Williams in defence who was instrumental with 23 disposals and 11 rebounds, as bottom-age talent Clayton Gay had a big game across the ground, picking up 20 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals. Future draftees, Bigoa Nyuon (seven disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, four inside 50s and two goals) and Ned Cahill (nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) had an impact, and Sam De Koning (six disposals, three hitouts, one rebound) also played in the match. Mitchell Riordan also started his overage year positively – though he would only be at the club for another month and a half before heading north – picking up 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s.

A former Australian basketballer by the name of Jay Rantall made his debut for the GWV Rebels, picking up 24 touches and having five clearances in a strong performance through the midfield group. Cooper Craig-Peters led the way with 30 disposals (16 contested), 10 tackles, 10 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, while Mitch Martin (24 disposals, four clearances, seven inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Matty Lloyd (26 disposals, nine marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three goals) also impressed despite the loss.

The next day, Murray Bushrangers and Gippsland Power engaged in an equally tough tussle at Rams Arena, where Will Chandler had the ball in the dying seconds, but was just a touch too far out to score as the Bushrangers went down by three points. The Bushrangers had been in front by that margin at quarter time and half-time against the title-contending Power team, and even led by as much as five points at the final break. But the only goal of the final term went to the Power in what was a struggle between two top defences in the 10.9 (69) to 8.12 (66) defeat.

Kyle Dunkley made onlookers check twice when they saw the former Oakleigh Chargers forward dominating through the midfield for Gippsland on his way to 21 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and three goals in what would prove to be one of only a handful of outings at NAB League level, switching RAMS Arena for Etihad Stadium. Without Caleb Serong, it was Sam Flanders who brought the highlights, picking up 19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s, while Ryan Sparkes had the most touches with 26 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and eight rebounds. Charlie Comben returned for a modest three touches, two marks and 11 hitouts, while other future draftees who played in the game included Brock Smith (18 disposals, four marks and four rebounds), Harrison Pepper (13 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Leo Connolly (10 disposals, two marks) and Fraser Phillips (five disposals, two marks and one goal).

It was no surprise to see future GIANT, Lachlan Ash having a big day out for Murray with 24 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while the midfield duo of Dylan Clarke (24 touches, five marks, four tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s) and Cameron Wild (22 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds) were productive. Co-captain Cameron Wilson slotted three goals in a big game up forward with 21 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s, while bottom-age talent Elijah Hollands showed off his class with 15 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and a goal.

At RSEA Park, premiership contenders Sandringham Dragons made an early statement on the competition with a big win over Calder. The Dragons had a host of draftable prospects heading into the year and destroyed Calder Cannons by 109 points. It was the likes of future Saint, Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and future Hawk, Finn Maginness (23 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, six clearances and a goal) who shone. Louis Butler (22 disposals) and Miles Bergman (16) both had strong games, as top 10 pick Fischer McAsey had two rebounds from 14 disposals and five marks in what was a pretty comfortable day to be a Dragons defender. Instead it was Charlie Dean‘s five goals that stole the show. For the Cannons, future draftees Sam Ramsay (23 disposals, three marks and a goal) and Harrison Jones (12 disposals, three marks and six hitouts) both played, while Tye Browning and Daniel Mott did all they could sharing in 24 disposals each, with Mott also having four clearances and six inside 50s.

A full-strength Oakleigh Chargers also had an impressive win in the first match of the season against a far-from-disgraced Eastern Ranges outfit. Top two picks, Matt Rowell (21 touches, five tackles, four clearances and one goal) and Noah Anderson (26 disposals, five marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and four goals) were the best, as Joe Ayton-Delaney picked up a game-high 32 touches as well as nine clearances, four inside 50s and five rebounds. The likes of future draftees, Trent Bianco (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three clearances) and Dylan Williams (19 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) were also prominent. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan made his Oakleigh debut but was quiet with four touches and two marks, though fellow bottom-age prospect Will Phillips was solid with 17 disposals and five tackles. Future draftees Nick Bryan (10 disposals, 18 hitouts) and Lachlan Johnson (11 touches, five tackles) also played in the match. For Eastern, soon-to-be-listed Swans player, Cody Hirst had 20 touches, five clearances and three inside 50s in the loss, as bottom-age talent Connor Downie was strong alongside top-age hopefuls Zakery Pretty and Mitch Mellis.

Bendigo Pioneers also opened their season off on the right foot courtesy of a big 43-point win over Geelong Falcons. Future Cat, Cooper Stephens did all he could for the Falcons in the loss, picking up 22 touches, three marks, three tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, working hard with Jesse Clark (24 disposals, seven marks and four rebounds). For the Pioneers, Thomson Dow quickly asserted himself on the competition with two goals from 28 disposals, eight marks, three clearances and three inside 50s, while fellow first round selection Brodie Kemp had 22 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. The Pioneers’ other draftee in the match was Brady Rowles who helped himself to 15 touches, two clearances and two rebounds.

In the final game of the round, Western Jets got up in a thrilling come-from-behind seven-point victory over Northern Knights at Ikon Park. They teams traded blows throughout the match and the Knights led by 18 points at the final break, but a high-scoring last term saw the Jets pile on six goals to two to run over the top of Northern in the end. Future Blue, Josh Honey lit up his future home training ground with 22 touches, six marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and a goal, while future Hawk, Emerson Jeka booted a goal from 14 touches, six marks and four inside 50s. If Honey being Western’s best at Carlton’s home was not freaky enough, Sam Philp – one of Carlton’s first round draft picks – stamped his authority with 22 disposals, nine tackles, nine clearances, three inside 50s and a goal for the Knights. Josh D’Intinosante and Ryan Sturgess booted two goals apiece from 20 touches, while competition leading goalkicker, Archi Manton snagged three majors on his way to that title.

2019 AFL Draft club review: Essendon Bombers

AFTER a trade period that saw Essendon largely retain most of its list despite the likes of Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia linked to other clubs, the Bombers headed into the draft to just fill some holes and improve their mid-table finish to a top four hopeful. Fans were keen to see at least one tall taken, as well as a potential goalkicking forward, but most importantly a big-bodied inside midfielder. Whilst the Bombers managed to achieve the first two aims, in the National AFL Draft, fans were concerned that they had not picked up the third. Then a day later, a mature-ager in Mitch Hibberd was selected to provide immediate support in the area.

ESSENDON:

National Draft:
30. Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
38. Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
56. Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
63. Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility

Rookie Draft:
10. Mitchell Hibberd (Williamstown) | 191cm | 90kg | Inside Midfielder

It was rumoured from the outset that the Bombers were keen on Harrison Jones, a key position utility with high upside, and, conveniently a Bombers supporter. The 196cm tall has played back, forward and even in the ruck, with a sub-three second 20m sprint and an elite endurance base. While only standing at 78kg and viewed as a long-term prospect, the Bombers were confident enough to select him with Pick 30 – trading up to secure the talented tall. Essendon then doubled up on high potential big men with the selection of athletic star, Nick Bryan. While Bryan’s year was not as consistent as some would have hoped given his start, he showed during the finals series what he was capable of, picking up plenty of touches in the NAB League Finals Series and clunking the contested marks that he was not earlier in the season. Still a lot of room to build into his body, Bryan is worth the selection based on his upside, even if some might have considered it a bit of a reach on the night. With the premiership ruck considered in the top few rucks this year, it was too hard to pass up for Essendon who were in dire need of a quality back-up to Tom Bellchambers as Sam Draper continues to show great signs but unfortunately injured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Essendon met its small forward need at Pick 56 when it pounced on Dandenong Stingrays’ excitement machine, Ned Cahill. The 179cm forward has shown he is capable of playing through the midfield, but is much more damaging around goals with a good endurance base and ability to apply defensive pressure to the opposition. Whilst his best weapons are his offensive ones close to goal, Cahill can make opposition defenders nervous with his implied pressure and quick footsteps helped by his nimble movement. Along with Cahill, Next Generation Academy member Lachlan Johnson was picked up in what was an unusual set of circumstances. Tied to the Brisbane Lions through the father-son ruling thanks to his 300-game father Chris, the Lions had nominated him as a rookie prospect. It did mean any selection in the National Draft would trump the Lions’ offer and it was somewhat ironic that the Bombers chose to do so. Earlier, Essendon bid on Brisbane Academy prospect Keidean Coleman, but that bid was matched by the Lions.

In their only selection of the 2019 Rookie Draft, Essendon picked up Hibberd, in what was a blessing for Bombers fans. They wanted a big-bodied inside midfielder who could come in and play a role, and given Hibberd’s experience at AFL level, that is exactly what they got with the selection. The Williamstown midfielder needed just one year in the state league system before showing clubs he was more than capable of earning a second chance, this time with the red and black.

Overall, Essendon drafted for long-term, before grabbing Hibberd who could immediately fill a role in the midfield from early in the season. Do not expect many of the others to see too many games next year, with Jones and Bryan having to add size to their frame and develop their games further, while Johnson is coming off an ACL injury. Cahill is some chance throughout the season, but will be another who is more likely to impact in a couple of years.

2019 National AFL Draft: Round 2-5 selections

WITH Round 1 selections done and dusted on Wednesday night, Thursday hosted the remainder of the 2019 AFL National Draft, as we look a the top Australian rules talent being picked up across Australia. Below is every pick from the beginning of Round 2 with plenty of analysis to come on Draft Central over the next week.

For picks 1-21, check out the Round 1 Selections.

ROUND 2

Pick 22 – Brisbane Lions – Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia) | 184cm | 81kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 23 – Port Adelaide – Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 186cm | 81kg | Medium Forward
Pick 24 – Adelaide Crows – Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 182cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 25 – Port Adelaide – Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 26 – Sydney Swans – Will Gould (Glenelg/South Australia) | 192cm | 106kg | Tall Defender
Pick 27 – Gold Coast SUNS – Jeremy Sharp (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 189cm | 81kg | Midfielder/Defender
Pick 28 – Adelaide Crows – Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 195cm | 83kg | Key Position Utility
Pick 29 – Hawthorn – Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 189cm | 82kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 30 – Essendon- Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 196cm | 78kg | Key Position Utility
Pick 31 – North Melbourne – Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
Pick 32 – Melbourne – Trent Rivers (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 188cm | 83kg | Defender/Midfielder
Pick 33 – Brisbane Lions – Brock Smith (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender
Pick 34 – North Melbourne – Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
Pick 35 – North Melbourne – Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 188cm | 81kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 36 – Sydney Swans – Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia) | 188cm | 77kg | Medium Forward
Pick 37 – Brisbane Lions – Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies) | 183cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
Pick 38 – Essendon – Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 87kg | Ruck
Pick 39 – Sydney Swans – Chad Warner (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 40 – Collingwood – Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels/Vic Country) | 185cm | 83kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 41 – Geelong – Francis Evans (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 182cm | 78kg | Medium Forward
Pick 42 – Adelaide Crows –  Ronin O’Connor (Claremont/Western Australia) | 192cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder
Pick 43 – Richmond – Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland) | 183cm | 79kg | Medium Utility
Pick 44 – Richmond – Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland) | 185cm | 83kg | Outside Midfielder

ROUND 3

Pick 45 – Collingwood – Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro) | 178cm | 73kg | Midfielder/Defender
Pick 46 – Richmond – Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 188cm | 75kg | Forward/Midfielder
Pick 47 – Carlton – Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro) | 180cm | 72kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 48 – Adelaide Crows – Lachlan Gollant (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | 191cm | 72kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 49 – West Coast Eagles – Callum Jamieson (Claremont/Western Australia) | 199cm | 84kg | Ruck
Pick 50 – Geelong – Cameron Taheny (Norwood/South Australia) | 185cm | 80kg | Medium Forward
Pick 51 – GWS GIANTS – Jake Riccardi (Werribee/VFL) | 194cm | 96kg | Key Forward
Pick 52 – St Kilda – Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 182cm | 84kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 53 – Western Bulldogs – Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 185cm | 75kg | Medium Defender
Pick 54 – Richmond – Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 195cm | 87kg | Key Position Utility

ROUND 4

Pick 55 – Collingwood – Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 192cm | 75kg | Defender/Midfielder
Pick 56 – Essendon – Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country) | 179cm | 78kg | Small Forward
Pick 57 – Hawthorn – Josh Morris (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 186cm | 76kg | Medium Forward
Pick 58 – West Coast Eagles – Ben Johnson (West Perth/Western Australia) | 178cm | 68kg | Small Defender
Pick 59 – Brisbane Lions – Jaxon Prior (West Perth/Western Australia) | 189cm | 82kg | Tall Defender
Pick 60 – Gold Coast SUNS – Jy Farrar (Adelaide SANFL/South Australia) | 191cm | 79kg | Tall Utility
Pick 61 – Fremantle – Minairo Frederick (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia) | 183cm | 71kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 62 – Western Bulldogs – Riley Garcia (Swan Districts) | 177cm | 70kg | Balanced Midfielder

ROUND 5

Pick 63 – Essendon – Lachlan Johnson (Oakleigh Chargers) | 176cm | 74kg | Small Utility
Pick 64 – St Kilda – Leo Connolly (Gippsland Power) | 181cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 65 – GWS GIANTS – Tom Hutchesson (Adelaide SANFL/South Australia) | 177cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder

2019 Draft Central Phantom Draft

THE 2019 AFL National Draft is just a couple of days away and it is clear that trying to work out which clubs favour which players is incredibly difficult given the evenness of the draft crop outside the first round. Even inside the first round, preferences will play a huge role in where players go with certain clubs battling with another one or two for certain players. In this Phantom Draft, we have done the first three rounds, but have not included any live trades which will undoubtedly come in on the night.

ROUND 1:

1 Gold Coast – Matt Rowell
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 180cm | 78kg

The number one pick has been in little doubt for many months now, with the Oakleigh Chargers ball magnet a standout player throughout the 2019 season. He won nearly every accolade he possibly could, and never played a bad game. Rowell will have been prepared for the move north for some time now and he will be a Round 1 starter for the SUNS.

2 Gold Coast – Noah Anderson
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 191cm | 87kg

Like Rowell, expect Anderson to suit up in Round 1, likely playing forward as a marking target who can also rotate through the midfield. He has a high scope of improvement given he is that prototype tall midfielder who has a nice burst of speed through the middle, so expect him to be one who catches the eye quite often.

3 Melbourne – Luke Jackson
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 199cm | 94kg

The Demons caused a bit of a stir when they announced Jackson as a potential top three pick. Not because of his ability because that was never in doubt, but the fact they were willing to risk a top three pick on a ruck which bucks the trend of recent years. A former Australian basketballer, Jackson was highly sought after by the GIANTS and Dockers among others, so the Dees had to pull the trigger at pick three. Hayden Young was the other consideration at the selection.

4 GWS – Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Defender
21/06/2001 | 187cm | 83kg

While at first many thought that Hayden Young might be the pick here – or Jackson if the Dees went with Young – the GIANTS have opted towards the speedy and slick half-back Lachlan Ash who provides great run and carry out of defence. Nathan Wilson left to go to Fremantle two years ago, and the inclusion of Ash allows Zac Williams to play more midfield time if required. An elite kick with terrific athleticism.

5 Sydney – Sam Flanders
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Mid/Forward
24/06/2001 | 183cm | 82kg

The Swans are believed to be tossing up between Gippsland Power teammates, Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. Flanders provides that slight more height and elite hands on the inside, while being a match-winner up forward. He still has areas of consistency to work on, but in terms of what he could become, the ceiling is endless. At this selection, Sydney cannot do too much wrong, but Flanders will offer them plenty of highlights inside 50 in the early days before developing into a midfielder in time.

6 Adelaide – Fischer McAsey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
08/03/2001 | 197cm | 91kg

The Crows were weighing up four potential players at this selection, and expected this pick to be a choice between Dylan Stephens and Fischer McAsey. McAsey is the option to be that key defensive replacement for Alex Keath, while being able to play inside 50 if required as a switch man. If Sydney opt for Stephens, then Flanders would be another thought for the Crows potentially.

7 Fremantle – Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Defender
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

An absolute steal here at Pick 8, but that is the way it looks like panning out, with Fremantle picking up elite kick Hayden Young with Pick 8. The Dockers would consider Stephens if available, and given Stephens is still on the board, might even lean towards the Gippsland Power mid/forward. Fremantle seem pretty settled with this selection given Young could well have been gone by Pick 3.

8 Fremantle – Caleb Serong
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

Another steal here with the Gippsland Power strong midfielder/forward Caleb Serong landing in Fremantle. Fremantle might have looked at grabbing West Australian captain Deven Robertson to begin with, but once it became clear Serong would be available, the Dockers have narrowed their sights on Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). He is so strong overhead he is more than capable of matching it with taller players, while his competitive nature and desire to be the best possible player will provide the Blues with a really strong option going forward.

9 Carlton – Dylan Stephens
Norwood/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 183cm | 74kg

While the Blues were originally thought to have eyed off Caleb Serong, it looks like Dylan Stephens will be the one left on the board presuming Adelaide opt for Fischer McAsey. Stephens is the best available and also fits a need, with the outside mover capable of playing from next year. Already having played at SANFL League level, Stephens adds a high work rate and strong character to the side. Deven Robertson would be a consideration here, as would down-trading to grab a couple of first round picks.

10 GWS (matched/bid) – Tom Green
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 190cm | 89kg

There is a reason the GIANTS moved from Pick 6 to Pick 4, and that was because the Swans had committed to bid on GIANTS Academy member Tom Green. They have publicly said they are unlikely to do so now, but will still force GWS out of the draft and into deficit, but the GIANTS will happily cop that given they pick up Green to join Ash as a couple of elite talents at the club. Either could start from early on, and expect Green to have a real impact from the moment he gets out there.

11 Melbourne – Cody Weightman
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Forward
15/01/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

The Demons are set on picking up a small forward at this selection, with Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett the two most talked about at this selection. The Demons have put plenty of time and effort into Weightman and might just get the nudge over Pickett, but it is a lineball call. The Dees also could consider Miles Bergman at this pick given the Dragons’ forward could develop into a taller midfielder, but the firepower up forward is what the Dees are after.

12 Fremantle (matched/bid) – Liam Henry
Claremont/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 180cm | 68kg

A bid for Liam Henry was always going to come in the first round and push Fremantle well down to the back-end of the draft, but the Dockers will not be too worried in matching this bid. Having already picked up Hayden Young and Caleb Serong, they have filled three different spots in their team and the exciting Next Generation Academy prospect in Henry will provide plenty of highlights over the coming years.

13 Hawthorn – Brodie Kemp
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 89kg

Versatile tall Brodie Kemp is somewhat of a slider here and could well slide further to Port Adelaide or Geelong. Will eventually be an inside midfielder, but can play a third tall role at either end of the ground and had a terrific Under-18 Championships. Is overcoming an ACL injury sustained mid-year.

14 Port Adelaide – Will Day
West Adelaide/South Australia | Defender
06/05/2001 | 189cm | 76kg

Get the feeling the first of Port Adelaide’s picks will be between Day, Bergman and Kemp depending on who is available. The slick ball user from West Adelaide, Day has links to Gold Coast with his cousin Sam there, and would be a huge chance to be off the board before Port Adelaide’s second selection. After adding skilled users last year in Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters, Day adds that extra touch of class coming off half-back and is a good size at 189cm.

15 Western Bulldogs – Kysaiah Pickett
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 171cm | 71kg

One of a couple of draft bolters, Kysaiah Pickett is well in consideration to be taken by Melbourne at Pick 10 (to become 11), but the Dogs will be all over the tenacious small forward if he drops. Miles Bergman is the other potential choice here, while if the Dees go with Pickett, expect Cody Weightman to be the strong chance for Pick 15. Pickett is still very light but loves the contested aspect of the game and the Dogs have shown through drafting Caleb Daniel, they are not worried about height but instead look at skill and Pickett has bucketloads of that.

16 Geelong – Deven Robertson
Perth/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
30/06/2001 | 184cm | 81kg

Robertson was rumoured to be a possible top 10 selection, with the West Australian captain leading from the front during the Under-18 Championships to win the Larke Medal and state Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Would be a steal here for Geelong but a number of clubs along the way would be looking at him carefully. A future captain at AFL level.

17 Gold Coast – Trent Bianco
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Defender
20/01/2001 | 178cm | 73kg

It is thought that this selection will be between Will Day and Trent Bianco, and with Port taking Day off the board in this scenario, Bianco is the man to step up to the plate. Port would also be keen on picking up Bianco if Day is snapped up elsewhere, so the Suns will want to use this selection on him. He joins Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson from the Oakleigh Chargers program up on the Gold Coast and adds more leadership to the side coming into that team. Will provide skill and dash off half-back.

18 Port Adelaide – Josh Worrell
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 83kg

With the skilful defender in Will Day secured, Port will look to bring in a tall to replenish some of their stocks lost over the off-season. Well aware that Geelong is in the business of finding a key position player, the Power will have to pounce at this selection rather than wait another two picks. Knowing they will likely just take the one tall, getting one here and knowing the Cats will take a tall at the next pick allows them to go best available at Pick 20. Josh Worrell can play either end and is great value here as a long-term developing tall.

19 Geelong – Harrison Jones
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 196cm | 78kg

After a couple of talls dropped in the top 10, Geelong and Port may well do a merry dance to snap up the next couple and see who will pounce on who in the back-end of the first round. With Port having the first chance at Pick 18, Geelong will either need to pounce on Josh Worrell and risk losing Deven Robertson, or take the chance and secure the developing utility in Harrison Jones. Jones is as versatile as they come and has even spent time in the ruck this year. Whilst he might be considered a bolter to land in the first round, his athletic attributes – mainly his speed and endurance – make him a player to watch.

20 Port Adelaide – Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
18/010/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

Port would look at teaming up Will Day with Trent Bianco at this selection – if Bianco was left on the board – to continue the influx of speed and skill, but Miles Bergman being on the board is the choice here. Bergman could well be snapped up by Melbourne, or the Western Bulldogs who are both in the market for a small forward, meaning one of Weightman or Pickett could be left for the Power to secure. Bergman has the height on the others and could well develop into a midfielder who can hit the scoreboard, and played most of the year sore but still had terrific moments in 2019.

21 Hawthorn (matched/bid) – Finn Maginness
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

Given Richmond is targeting inside midfielders, it is tipped that the Tigers will place a bid on Finn Maginness at the end of the first round. The Hawks will quickly match the bid to bring the midfielder into the club, and traded picks to ensure they have plenty of points available. This bid would see the Hawks lose Picks 44 and 52 (which are given up due to Academy bids, whilst Pick 56 would slide to Pick 63).

22 Richmond – Cooper Stephens
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

With the Maginness bid match, Richmond will focus its attention on securing that inside midfielder. Geelong Falcons’ Cooper Stephens is among a number of selections left on the board and could well be snapped up at this pick. Jay Rantall is a consideration, though Stephens is more readymade to slot straight into the line-up and will be that pure inside midfielder with time. A good size at 188cm, Stephens is one who will have an immediate impact.

ROUND 2:

23 Gold Coast – Trent Rivers
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
30/07/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

There is every chance Rivers is at a new club by Wednesday night, but if he is not, then he will not take long at all to come off the board at this selection. The four clubs over the next five picks would all be keen on the tall midfielder who can also play other roles around the ground, and has good development left.

24 Brisbane – Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 185cm | 83kg

Could go as high as Richmond in Round 1, but more likely to land at either Brisbane or Adelaide in Round 2. The Lions cannot not risk him dropping to their next pick, so would need to pounce with #24 and add an extra Rebel to the mix. Elite endurance and can play multiple roles through the midfield. A former Australian basketballer.

25 Adelaide – Jeremy Sharp
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
13/08/2001 | 189cm | 79kg

Picked at this selection because of his ability to provide outside run and carry, and can fulfil that role coming off half-back. A dual All-Australian, the knocks are whether or not he can win the contested ball, but at 189cm and the ability to hit penetrating passes makes him too good to turn down. Not completely out of the question for him to slip a bit further, however.

26 Adelaide – Sam De Koning
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 201cm | 86kg

Given the Crows have picked up Fischer McAsey, they may err on collecting another key position player, but like McAsey, Sam De Koning has an ability to play at both ends, or even through the ruck. He is the last of the top 30 talls available, so the Crows might want to bundle him up with McAsey. If they end up with Dylan Stephens at Pick 6, expect De Koning to be a massive shot here – if available.

27 Geelong – Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
16/10/2001 | 184cm | 76kg

A number of picks the Cats could make at this selection, but Thomson Dow seems very ‘Geelong’ like. Another Geelong Grammar boy to possibly go with Brodie Kemp or in this phantom, Deven Robertson, Dow is the brother of Carlton’s Paddy. While he is not as readymade as his brother, he has similar athleticism and is good inside 50 on the lead. A forward to start his career, but will eventually develop into a full-time midfielder.

28 Sydney – Elijah Taylor
Perth/Western Australia | Medium Forward
01/05/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

Elijah Taylor is incredibly talented and adds more X-factor to a Swans side that will have already brought Sam Flanders earlier in the draft in this Phantom Draft scenario. Taylor is a good size at 188cm, and while staying in Western Australia might be a priority, the Swans have a good system in place to make players from interstate fit in well. Far too good to ignore at this selection, and if bypassed, chances are he will not be there at the Swans’ next selection.

29 North Melbourne – Will Gould
Glenelg/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/01/2001 | 192cm | 106kg

Surely the South Australian captain could not drop this far? It is possible, and some think it might be into the 30s. He could go as high as Gold Coast at 23, or maybe even Adelaide at 26 if De Koning is off the board, but Gould will slide outside the top 20. He is an unbelievable talent, and one we have rated in the top 15 most of the year. Elite footballing qualities, once he gets into an AFL environment, he will likely prove a few people wrong. A bargain at this selection.

30 North Melbourne – Cameron Taheny
Norwood/South Australia | Medium Forward
03/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

There is a feeling the Roos will pick a small forward at their selections, whether it be Cameron Taheny, Elijah Taylor or Dylan Williams. With Williams touted to slide the furthest when it is all said and done, Taheny looks to be the more readymade prospect for North, and the transition into the blue and white stripes will be made easier in this scenario coming across with Gould. Another bargain pick.

31 Melbourne – Darcy Cassar
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Utility
31/07/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Providing some speed and dash off half-back with neat kicking skills, Darcy Cassar is a player with some top shelf traits, and just needs to iron out inconsistencies to take the next step. At his best he is contending for a top 20 spot, and Melbourne fit the need they were targeting at the top end of the draft in a skilful half-back by adding Cassar to their list in the second round.

32 Brisbane – Dylan Williams
Oakleigh Chargers | Medium Forward
01/07/2001 | 186cm | 81kg

An interesting selection looms for the Lions at this pick, and the likes of Harry Schoenberg and Sam Philp were considered, but given the Lions have picked up a number of exciting players with upside in recent years, Dylan Williams is one who might appeal to them. He might not fit a direct need, but at this selection he is a bargain and also has those leadership qualities – co-captaining Oakleigh Chargers – and is surely too good to pass up because he will not be there at the next pick.

33 Port Adelaide (matched/bid) – Jackson Mead
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

Port has enough points to match a bid for Jackson Mead at this point in the draft, and will not have a problem matching should a team like North Melbourne put the offer out there. North is known for making bids on players that fill needs, and Mead’s range is tipped to be in this hitting zone. Expected to make his way to the Power without any fuss.

34 North Melbourne – Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
09/11/2001 | 188cm | 75kg

A few options to pick from here, but North has interest in Hugo Ralphsmith, and may well take him with one of their picks inside the top 30. If not and he is still on the board here, Ralphsmith will be difficult to pass up. Sam Philp, Harry Schoenberg and Mitch O’Neill will be considerations, but Ralphsmith may be the first choice.

35 Essendon – Harry Schoenberg
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Inside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 182cm | 83kg

The South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner offers a solid inside presence at the selection for the Bombers, with his inside craft and ball-winning abilities among his strengths. Essendon might consider Sam Philp at this selection as well, with the Bombers and Swans potentially targeting similar types to round out their list.

36 Sydney – Sam Philp
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
04/08/2001 | 186cm | 79kg

A perfect fit for the Swans, Sam Philp is a running machine on the inside with terrific burst speed out of the contest – a 2.87-second 20m sprint – which fills a need whilst adding his contested ball winning ability. Despite missing out on Vic Metro selection, Philp offers plenty to the club that picks him, and Sydney could be that club.

37 Essendon – Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

The Bombers need another ruck for depth, and Comben is a player who can also play that key position forward role. He is a good size and still developing, and given the likes of Collingwood and Geelong are not far away, Essendon might have to make their move at this pick to secure him.

38 Brisbane – Mitch O’Neill
Tasmania Devils/Allies | Small Utility
21/02/2001 | 176cm | 72kg

A steal at Pick 38, Tasmania’s top player makes his way north and will be a welcome addition given his ability to play anywhere on the ground. He adds to the Lions’ skilful and exuberant young side and is another player like Gould who may prove a fair few wrong in the coming years.

39 Collingwood – Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Seems to be the obvious pick for Collingwood, with Mitch Georgiades the best tall forward available at this selection and a clear need for the Magpies. Collingwood might be tempted to opt for a tall defender in Karl Finlay or Dyson Hilder, or maybe the upside of Fraser Phillips, but these are all the selections coming in the next few selections.

40 Geelong – Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193cm | 90kg

Geelong may not opt for a second tall, but Finlay is the type who has great agility and is able to play on a tall or small in defence, which in this Phantom Draft would allow Harrison Jones to play forward. Finlay is an Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner and it would not be surprising to see him go higher and perhaps even pounced on in the 20s – particularly if De Koning joins the other talls in the first round. Like many talls, it is often a needs basis, so could slide to around here, but Collingwood would seriously consider him with their last pick.

41 Adelaide – Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Medium Forward
15/05/2001 | 187cm | 72kg

Has the talent to become anything, and could end up at a number of clubs in the 30s, but the Crows could not take a chance any longer with Richmond and Carlton no doubt keen to acquire his services. Has the potential to become a midfielder long-term and just moves well and creates havoc inside 50. A player who has drawn traits similar to Jack Macrae and Scott Pendlebury at the same age – even if much rawer than those players.

42 Richmond – Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

With three consecutive selections, Richmond is likely to select one key position player just to add to the depth in the squad, and given they have picked up Cooper Stephens with the first selection, the additional inside midfielder need is filled. Hilder is a readymade key position option, but can work with the Tigers’ back six to become a strong negating defender who is also capable of creating offensive rebound. Another key position player who might go higher than this due to needs.

43 Richmond – Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

The Gippsland Power captain is a hard nut and would be a perfect fit for Richmond given his accountability in defence and willingness to put his body on the line for his teammates. He showed in 2019 that he can also create offensive drive, and that will be attractive for the Tigers to fill that Brandon Ellis role, or play deeper and release one of the other defenders.

ROUND 3:

44 Richmond – Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

Hard to see Mahony slipping this far, but if he did it would certainly be a bargain. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Mahony rarely wastes a kick and is able to set up his forwards with neat 45-degree passes that can be deadly for the opposition. A high footy IQ and one who will develop into a very handy player.

45 Carlton – Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 179cm | 78kg

Has been long linked to Carlton at this selection, but will he be there? It is possible, and he fills a perfect need which allows the Blues to go best available at Pick 9. Has a lot of growth left in his game, and is more consistent than a lot of other small forwards. Adds a touch of class inside 50.

46 Sydney – Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

While it is becoming increasingly difficult to try and predict which way clubs will go by this stage, the Sturt winger adds some terrific pace and line-breaking willingness that can attract clubs in the third round. He takes the game on and is a good size, just needs to iron out a few things and could be a real valuable contributor on the outside.

47 Adelaide – Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
01/05/2001 | 183cm | 80kg

While Mott is not the fastest midfielder going around, he has such clean hands and skill on the inside, which he has been developing over the past 12 months. Mott can also play outside where he uses his terrific kicking ability to advantage and replaces the wealth of midfield depth that has been lost at the Crows this year.

48 West Coast – Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

West Coast seem tipped to look local at this selection, and one of Jake Pasini, Trey Ruscoe or Riley Garcia might be a choice. Pasini is the tallest option and able to replace one of the Eagles’ key defenders in time, having worked on areas of his game such as his kicking and decision making.

49 North Melbourne – Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

A number of clubs over the next few picks are still in the market for a key position player, and with North Melbourne having picked up a number of faster, outside types – as well as Gould – Jeka presents a different option for the Roos. He can play at either end and is an elite contested mark, potentially sharing the forward line with Nick Larkey in years to come, learning from Ben Brown.

50 Collingwood – Jake Riccardi
Werribee/VFL | Key Position Forward
07/11/1999 | 194cm | 96kg

One of the strongest rumours floating around the mid and later stages of the draft is Jake Riccardi to Collingwood, and the Magpies will not want to wait too much longer from here. Could well end up the first State Draft Combine invitee to go in the National AFL Draft, but the question will be whether or not the Magpies pick up two tall forwards – Georgiades and Riccardi – or if they go best available then take Riccardi.

52 St Kilda – Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

A long-term developing forward, Sharman has great upside and would be considered by some clubs in the 40s. As accurate shot on goal as anyone else, Sharman will not immediately step in due to needing to improve his endurance, but when he does, he would add some great speed on the lead, strong overhead and convert his opportunities. Saints could go a number of ways, but they will like Sharman’s upside.

53 Western Bulldogs – Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Arguably the hardest to place in the draft, Nick Bryan could go anywhere from the late 30s, up into the 60s, but Western Bulldogs could opt for some ruck depth at Pick 53 and has been linked here if available. A long-term prospect, Bryan is more a player who will take over in a few years and given his athletic traits, could be something special.

54 Richmond – Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

A workhorse through the middle, Byrnes has transitioned from a player on the fringes of his NAB League side Sandringham Dragons, to captaining the side, representing Vic Metro and making himself all but a certain draft candidate. He has to build his kicking, but he is dual-sided and a threat out of stoppages with a quick burst here and there and often pumps the ball to the danger zone inside 50. A perfect fit for the Tigers.

55 Carlton – Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A big-bodied midfielder tipped to slide down later in the draft, Pick 55 for Darcy Chirgwin could be another selection that makes people look silly in the future. He is a perfect fit for the Blues to provide assistance for Patrick Cripps in the midfield and is not afraid to crash and bash around the stoppages.

Others not far away had the draft extended out: Riley Garcia, Callum Jamieson, Trey Ruscoe (Western Australia), Luke Partington, Callum Park, Josh Morris (South Australia), Angus Baker, Liam Delahunty (NSW-ACT), Brady Rowles, Lachlan Williams (Vic Country), Louis Butler, Josh Honey, Lachlan Stapleton (Vic Metro), Frank Anderson, Sam Lowson (VFL)

ACADEMY/FATHER-SON SELECTIONS IN CONTENTION LATE/ROOKIE WITH COMBINE INVITES OR HAVE BEEN NOMINATED:

*Note the below does not mean the club has committed to them – although in some cases they have – it is merely a list of those clubs with players tied to the club that received combine invitations and were in the respective club’s Academy or father-son prospect at the start of the year.

Anzac Lochowiak -> Adelaide
Noah Cumberland, Keidean Coleman, Lachlan Johnson, Bruce Reville and Will Martyn, Tom Griffiths -> Brisbane
Cameron Wild -> Carlton
Isaiah Butters, Leno Thomas -> Fremantle
Ryan Gilmore, Josh Gore, Dirk Koenen -> Gold Coast SUNS
Liam Delahunty, Matt McGrory, James Peatling, Jeromy Lucas, Ed Perryman -> GWS GIANTS
Harrison Pepper -> Hawthorn
Matthew McGuinness -> North Melbourne
Trent Burgoyne -> Port Adelaide
Bigoa Nyuon -> St Kilda
Luke Parks, Hamish Ellem, Jackson Barling, Nicholas Brewer, Samuel Gaden, Max Geddes, Harry Maguire, Samuel Thorne-> Sydney