Tag: Next Generation Academy

WAFL League Player Focus: Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)

SOUTH FREMANTLE young small forward Jesse Motlop, the son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne player Daniel, has had an impressive 2021 season across the WAFL Colts and PSA competitions. His form and undeniable potential earned him a WAFL League debut with South Fremantle, against fellow finals contenders Swan Districts.

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy prospect ended up being an important part of the side’s six-goal victory, chiming in with two goals of his own in the third quarter whilst setting up a few more throughout the entirety of the game.

POCKET PROFILE

Jesse Motlop
South Fremantle/Western Australia

DOB: 23/11/2003
Height/Weight: 176cm/74kg
Position: Small Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Speed, smarts, goal sense

2021 Averages:
WAFL Colts
(4 games)

15.3 disposals | 2.5 marks | 3.0 tackles | 4.0 inside 50s | 1.5 goals (6 total)

Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

2021 WAFL League, Round 15 | Swan Districts 9.5 (59) def. by South Fremantle 15.5 (95)

#49 Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)

Stats: 13 disposals (10 kicks, 3 handballs), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 2 goals

Q1

It was a low-key opening term for Motlop in his debut senior outing. Starting the game on the bench, he wasn’t sighted until about eight minutes in as he took his position in the goal square as the deepest forward for his first centre bounce.

His first involvement in general play came deep inside 50 where he hit the front and centre of a marking contest, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground and in a position to run into an open goal, but was brought down as soon as he picked it up for a stoppage.

He held the ball to an opponent not long after to get a stoppage in front of goal, though it didn’t result in anything. The only disposal Motlop would record for the first term came as he pushed up the ground to be a switch option from the corridor to the boundary, taking the ball on his chest uncontested before running it up a few steps and then lacing it out to a teammate on the wing, who was able to move the ball quickly and get it inside 50 for a goal.

Despite not racking up numbers on the stats sheet, Motlop was involved in the South Fremantle forward half, pressuring opponents to cause a few turnovers and stoppages, giving his side opportunities to score and making his one kick count.

Q2

Once again taking the role as a deep forward, Motlop wasn’t given many opportunities to use the footy, with the talls of South Fremantle being the targets and Swan Districts doing well to intercept balls as they flew in. He did continue to show the pressure work he did the previous quarter, laying two tackles around the forward 50 where his second efforts saw him get back at the opposition with the ball. He showed a lot of courage at times as well, getting involved in a marking contest where neither player held the ball, but he got straight back up to follow up.

Motlop moved up the ground to get involved when it was a bit of an arm wrestle, where he won the ball off the hands of a marking contest and followed his momentum by running back towards his defensive 50 through traffic, able to maintain possession whilst running through a pack of five Swan Districts players. He side-stepped to avoid being grabbed and hit a handball to a runner from the backline. He made it obvious the front and centres were a speciality area a few times, demonstrating why he was being paired under a tall forward down deep with his clean pick-ups below his knees.

Motlop worked into the game well in the second quarter, making the most of his opportunities to show his potential for eye-catching plays, but really impressing with his pressure work, second efforts and reading of the ball off hands more than anything, playing his small forward role particularly well despite not hitting the scoreboard.

Q3

The third quarter saw Motlop taking a bit more freedom and pushing up the ground, getting free around the back end of the centre square to be used a couple of times by his teammates. In those instances, he was able to lose opponents with his acceleration or repeated lead efforts. He followed up with generally good ball use, spotting out leading teammates up the field to put them in a good spot to move the ball forward.

One kick into the middle of the ground initially looked poor, but bounced well for his teammates to win the contest and get it long forward for an easy South Fremantle goal. Motlop’s high work rate was again on display, as he made gut runs to impact opponents, even if they moved the ball on before he got there he’d follow up and try and impact the next contest.

He got himself on the scoreboard with two goals in the third quarter, with both being a good example of his forward craft and ability to get free in dangerous spots. The first was more through his high work rate and repeat leading efforts, as he lost his opponent inside forward 50 and was spotted up by a teammate, taking a mark over his head about 40 out right in front of goal, where he went back and slotted it straight through from afar. The second goal came through his footy smarts, peeling off from where a pack was going to form, standing free right in front of goal about 25 out, then being used by his teammate coming out of the pack taking it on the chest and slotting his second.

Motlop continued to do the things he had been doing well in the third, whilst adding two goals for some additional impact and reward for all his hard work over the game. When given the freedom to push further up the ground, he finds the ball and can get into good spots to be a marking option, with generally strong ball use forward and a great ability to kick start scoring opportunities with his disposal choice.

Q4

As both teams reverted to a safer way of moving and carrying the ball the opportunities for a front and centre specialist dried up very quickly, meaning Motlop wasn’t as lively around the goals but still won a bait of ball around the boundary line inside 50. There were a couple of times he found himself stuck with a close option, but opted to kick to the square or go for goal, but the Swan Districts defenders would intercept and move the ball on. Moved up the ground and got a mark in the defensive 50 as South brought it in from a behind and kicked well to a teammate.

He essentially handed a goal to one of his taller teammates in the final quarter, as he collected a ground ball off one bounce about three meters out from the goal square, standing his ground in a tackle as he spun to face the goals, handballing it off to ensure it was a goal.

Closing thoughts:

It was an impressive debut at League level for Motlop after impressing at Colts and PSA levels through the year. He looked comfortable amongst bigger bodies and didn’t noticeably struggle with the physicality, looking courageous as he ran head first into packs and impacted contests in the forward half of the ground.

He had quite a few flashy moments with his agility and ability to find the right options with his disposal, setting up scoring plays, but his fundamentals of the game and work rate are what ultimately sets him up to be the smart and damaging player he is, forcing turnovers or backwards disposals from the opposition by pressuring them with his closing speed. This game showed a good base for Motlop and suggests plenty of potential to impact at the next level.

Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

Scouting Notes: Western Australia U17 vs. U19 trial game

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

WA UNDER 17s (YELLOW):

By: Ed Pascoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WA UNDER 19s (BLACK):

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: 2021 South Australia Under 19 trials

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

TEAM YELLOW:

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEAM BLUE:

By: Declan Reeve

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 13 – East Fremantle vs. Peel Thunder

PEEL Thunder pulled off a memorable upset over East Fremantle on Saturday morning, coming from behind at each break to snatch victory within the last 90 seconds, 9.8 (62) to 7.16 (58).

The inaccurate Sharks were made to pay for their inability to shut the door on Peel, with their early control of the territory, midfield and scoring shot domination counting for little as they fell behind at the last hurdle.

16-year-old Koen Sanchez had the chance to win back the points for East Freo with a flying shot in the last 30 seconds, but pulled it wide to seal the result in soggy conditions at New Choice Homes Park.

We take a look at a few of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes, and go around the grounds with some of the other outstanding Colts performances out of Round 13.

SCOUTING NOTES

East Fremantle 7.16 (58) def. by Peel Thunder 9.8 (62)

East Fremantle:

#2 Koen Sanchez

The 2005-born talent is an exciting prospect for the future, and started brightly in his latest WAFL Colts outing. Sanchez was stationed out on the wing and provided really good drive between the arcs, running hard and proving a quick thinker in possession. He unfortunately put wide a game-winning opportunity in the last 30 seconds, but it was a decent effort on the fly from the 16-year-old.

#4 Jed Hagan

Hagan was another who started well, contributing the first two scores of the game – albeit both behinds. As a permanent fixture in midfield, the bottom-ager was wonderfully clean below his knees and clever at the contest, able to win the ball at will and draw free kicks under pressure. He again found plenty of the ball with 26 disposals, working to all areas of the ground with smooth movement and slick ball use. Looks a dead ringer for recent North Melbourne draftee, Will Phillips.

#6 Josh Browne

As he so often does, Browne finished Saturday’s game as the clear leading ball winner, racking up 33 disposals and looking particularly ominous in the first half. He was the go-to midfielder at stoppages, often able to get first hands on the ball and move it on cleanly by hand. His quick clearing kicks were less effective and not quite penetrative, but Browne consistently got his hands on the ball and corrected some of those deficiencies. After spurning a set shot opportunity in term two, he straightened up to slot one home in the following quarter.

#7 Judd McVee

One of the more polished players afield, McVee was able to display his smooth movement on the rebound off half-back. He positioned well to intercept across the backline, before distributing nicely by foot. His composure on the ball pointed towards great class, and there were a couple of instances where McVee spun out of tight spots or sold candy to keep the play moving fluently.

#8 Taj Woewodin

The Melbourne father-son hopeful was another of East Fremantle’s prolific ball winners, providing good drive out of the engine room. He often received the ball facing forward, or had momentum going that way, which he continued with his carry and capped off with clean kicks. He began to find more of the ball away from the contest after half time and snuck forward to drill through a terrific goal in the final term.

#19 Richard Bartlett

In his first WAFL Colts outing for the season, Bartlett showed some promise and class in the front half. The Fremantle NGA prospect has slick hands and a punchy kind of kick, which he used to get creative at half-forward. He presented well and took a couple of clean overhead marks, but mostly caught the eye with his goal at the start of the fourth term. He had also kicked one in the second quarter but missed another late set shot chance and even gave a couple off.

#22 Jack Cleaver

14 disposals and six marks do not quite do justice to the mark Cleaver made at half-back, with his no-frills kind of approach proving important in the defensive half. The solidly built bottom-ager was exactly that – solid – as he saw most of his possessions on the defensive side of the corridor where he looked to distribute with short kicks. While there was nothing spectacular about his game, Cleaver played his role well and was handy in most departments.

#25 Jack Williams

Spending more time in the ruck than usual, Williams had his work cut out for him but still managed to put up good numbers with 17 disposals, five marks, 18 hitouts and 1.2 on the scoreboard. The versatile tall prospect was shrewd with his ruck bodywork and just as clever in his ability to peel off after initial forward marking contests. He showed this on two occasions, with both breaks leading to set shot opportunities and the first resulting in a goal. He was typically assured in the air, but could be a touch stronger when bodied in contests.

Peel Thunder:

#7 Byron Finch

Finch popped up to be one of Peel’s best midfielders in crucial moments, including a couple of centre bounce breaks during term four. He also came up clutch with the game-winning goal with 90 seconds left on the clock, winning a free kick inside 50 before coolly converting. With crafty movement and foot skills, Finch impacted both at the fall of the ball and coming away from the contest.

#8 Brady Hough

Hough spent plenty of time forward before shifting back into midfield, proving another who stood up in the tough moments. He provided Jackson Klepzig with the game’s first goal, breaking over the back in transition and kicking long inside 50. He really started to get going after half time, helping Peel shift into attack with positive forward carry. The state Under 19 squad member lifted his urgency late on, breaking tackles and looking to move inside 50 quickly.

#23 Luke Polson

The mobile tall again rotated into the ruck from his key forward post, moving well in both roles and taking the game on with vigour for a player of his stature. Polson looked ominous in the early-goings with a solid mark and shot on goal, but popped up for more moment- type plays as the game wore on. He was not afraid to back his athleticism to burn opponents or move through traffic, and his effort to break multiple tackles led to Blake Offer’s important fourth term goal.

#24 Blake Offer

Offer was the most effective key forward afield in terms of scoreboard impact, booting a game-high three goals with each of them coming in different terms. He got on the board with two set shots in the opening half, and snapped a clutch goal in the final quarter to help draw Peel back within two goals. His clean finishing proved key to the Thunder’s comeback victory as East Fremantle faltered.

#28 Jackson Broadbent

The bottom-aged tall showed some nice signs throughout the match, using his height advantage well in the ruck and hitting to dangerous zones at stoppages. He won a game-high 24 hitouts, competing plenty against highly touted Sharks prospect, Jack Williams. Broadbent only notched eight disposals and spend a good amount of time forward, but did his best work in the ruck.

#30 Jarrad McIlvinney

Another of Peel’s state Under 19 squad members, McIlvinney was strong in his usual defensive post and did most of his best work aerially. He took four marks for the day, winning one-on-ones inside defensive 50 and using his reach to advantage to pluck the ball at high points.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Subiaco earned a thumping 70-point win over Perth to open the round, with leading Lions prospect Matthew Johnson notching 28 disposals, nine marks, 10 tackles and a goal. Jed Kemp (33 disposals) was also prominent, while Jacob Evitt (23 disposals, two goals) and Ezekiel Bolton (22 and three) found plenty of the ball and the goals.

East Perth’s push for top spot continued with a 19-point win over West Perth on the road, spearheaded once again by rising prospect Jye Amiss. The prolific key forward booted four goals, while the likes of Kalani Brooks (27 disposals) and James Tunstill (19 disposals, two goals) were also productive. Falcons skipper Luke Reilly was his side’s leading ball winner with 23 touches, trailed by versatile tall Kane Bevan (20) as Darcy Dixon (19 disposals, two goals) and the returning Lochlan Paton (19 disposals, six tackles) also stood up.

Claremont were the other big winners in Round 14, trouncing South Fremantle to the tune of 68 points away from home. Small forward Jahmal Stretch booted four goals to prove his credentials as a state squad member, as ball winners Angus Sheldrick (28 disposals) and Talon Delacey (22, one goal) went to work. Caleb Stephens was again prolific for the Bulldogs, winning a game-high 29 touches and snagging a goal.

A few Colts guns were also sighted at League level, headlined by the debut of East Fremantle midfielder Corey Warner. The brother of Chad managed 14 disposals and five marks in his maiden outing, making for a solid start to his senior career. Claremont forward Jacob Van Rooyen made another appearance as the Tigers lost to South Fremantle by a point, while Fremantle NGA prospect Jesse Motlop kicked a goal for the Bulldogs’ Reserves.

Big-bodied East Perth midfielder Kade Dittmar was also sighted in the seconds, collecting 29 disposals and laying five tackles as the Royals downed West Perth.

Image Credit: Phil Elliott/Justin Elliott (Pixell Photography) via East Fremantle Football Club

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

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

>> Top 25 Ranked: July 2021 Power Rankings

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Declan Reeve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIC METRO:

By: Ed Pascoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2021

THE Draft Central July Power Rankings have been locked in after an interrupted, but nonetheless productive month of football around the nation. Two fresh faces feature among the top five as a new number one contender arises, while another two previously unranked players have thrust their way into the overall list of 25 on the back of undeniable form. We profile the full array of prospects in our latest edition, taking you through each players’ last month and the factors behind their moves. Also highlighted are some other names potentially around the mark.

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

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

June Ranking: #1

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

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

Last month:

Horne has continued on his merry way at SANFL League level, with his consistent output displayed across the last month of action. Despite three of his four outings in that time being losses, Horne played above his season averages to produce numbers of 16 disposals, 4.3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 2.3 clearances, and 0.5 goals per game. Given he is so entrenched in the top three spots, it is easy to look past his development and sustained success, but the pick one contender is in as good a form as ever currently.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

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

June Ranking: #2

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

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

Last month:

Daicos only played one game throughout June, but it was a ripper. The Oakleigh Chargers captain got some decent attention in his side’s loss to the Northern Knights, but still managed to rack up 37 disposals and kick a goal. He was perhaps not as damaging as he could have been with his disposal, but most qualms on his season thus far are essentially nit-picks, and exemplary of the quality he is judged at. His average of 35.8 disposals remains a league high, but he did not have the chance to add to it last week after again being managed. He also missed out on Vic Metro trial duties.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

#3 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Utility/Ruck
19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg

June Ranking: #15

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

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

Last month:

Darcy shot into top three calculations with a brilliant few games in June, most significantly his six-goal during the Victorian Under 19 trials. The Bulldogs father-son prospect was swung forward as he has done during the school football season and was near-impossible to stop. He had a 10cm height advantage on most opponents but took full toll to dominate aerially, while also showing great athleticism and football smarts across the attacking arc. During his one outing for Oakleigh, Darcy started in defence and was similarly assured with his clean intercept marking, before rolling through the ruck and eventually finding the goals up forward. He has solidified his status as the best tall available, and may challenge the previously untouchable top two.

#4 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

June Ranking: #11

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

One who seems destined to crack the top five picks come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back has recently transitioned to an inside role, but continues to prove difficult to stop at full flight with his blend of straight-line power and swift agility. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his long boot, and seems to manufacture time on the ball in the clinches.

Last month:

The top five trigger has been pulled on Callaghan after even more undeniable performances, who was arguably best afield during his two NAB League appearances in June and impressive when suiting up for Vic Metro. He continued his transition to the inside with Sandringham, producing 31 and 28 disposals in his most recent outings and looking ominous in the process. Callaghan was shifted back out to the wing in between those games for the Victorian Under 19 trials, warming to the contest and showing some of his best traits, despite not racking up the usual numbers.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

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

June Ranking: #3

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

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

Last month:

Another to have only played once during June, Sonsie is currently on the road to recovery after suffering bone bruising in his last appearance for Eastern. The injury was sustained during the final quarter against Sandringham and Sonsie was quiet to that point by his lofty standards, managing 15 disposals and three inside 50s. Luckily the knock wasn’t any worse, though Sonsie also missed out on the Vic Metro trial games and is facing a few more weeks on the sidelines.

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

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

June Ranking: #5

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

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

Last month:

Sinn was eased back from a hamstring strain in June, turning out twice for the Sandringham Dragons and proving steady in his output. The Dragons co-captain started at half-back in his first outing, finishing on 13 touches in a big win against Oakleigh, before raising that slightly in 15 and five inside 50s against Tasmania last week. He spent more time in the midfield during that game and advanced the ball well, in a promising sign for his run towards the National Championships.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

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

June Ranking: #4

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

A second South Adelaide midfielder within the top 10 of our count, Roberts’ form has seen him prove difficult to deny of such honours. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 17-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, Roberts is also a sound user of the ball and looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Last month:

Roberts is currently sidelined with a syndesmosis injury, set for another couple of months out of action due to the injury sustained during a school football hitout. He had played two League games for South Adelaide to that point, but will have to wait to further prove his credentials.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus

#8 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Balanced Midfielder
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

June Ranking: #6

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

A third Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 10, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser has only just cracked Sandringham’s stacked midfield in a bid to showcase his balance, having recently returned from injury.

Last month:

Chesser is another who only recently made his return from injury, coming back from work on his meniscus. The dashing midfielder was thrust into a formidable Sandringham Dragons midfield mix having played his earlier games on a wing, finishing with 19 disposals and five inside 50s as his side defeated Tasmania.

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

June Ranking: #10

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

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

Last month:

The high-marking defender has had a stead sort of month, playing at both ends of the ground and even through the ruck. When stationed down back, Gibcus performed his usual feats in the air, and is slowly getting back to his best in terms of his distribution by foot. GWV threw him in the ruck against Geelong Falcons to help boost his output, and he has since had a few stints up forward both in the NAB League and Under 19 trials.

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

June Ranking: #17

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

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

Last month:

After enduring an injury-interrupted start to the season, Hobbs returned with a bang to thrust himself back into top 10 contention. The bull-like midfielder helped himself to 34 touches and two goals in his first NAB League outing since Round 3, before starring for Vic Country in the Under 19 trials. His willingness to hunt the ball, tackle, and then move forward to kick goals means he impacts consistently, and hopefully he can do so with an extended run.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

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

June Ranking: #7

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

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

Last month:

After a three-game stint at League level, Johnson has dropped back down to the Colts competition and as expected, found much more of the ball. He notched 30 disposals and six tackles in his second game back, before a 16-touch effort in his latest outing. With good skills on the inside and a growing frame, Johnson should be dominant against his peers.

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

June Ranking: #14

Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching athletic traits both aerially and at ground level.

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

Last month:

Erasmus hasn’t returned to the WAFL grades since his Round 7 outing, which consolidated the exciting midfielder’s consistent start to the year. He has been going along strong in the PSA as skipper at Hale though, making him difficult to look past among the top 15 as he continues to sharpen his disposal.

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

June Ranking: #8

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

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

Last month:

While Rachele is certainly mercurial at his best, we haven’t always seen that level of form in 2021. He has essentially remained a permanent forward while turning out for the Murray Bushrangers and played the same role in his Vic Country trial outing. Rachele is finding the goals though, with a round-high six majors in his latest NAB League appearance an indicator that his best is worthy of top 10 status – if he can find it.

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

June Ranking: #20

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

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

Last month:

Draper is said to be sparking a bidding war between the two Adelaide clubs, which could push his value into the top 10. He started June off in the SANFL Reserves, breaking through for two games after scintillating Under 18s form. He averaged 16.5 disposals in those outings, before making a splash on his junior return with 31 touches, seven inside 50s and a goal in South’s win against Sturt. He is set for an extended stint on the sidelines having suffered a syndesmosis injury.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus

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

June Ranking: #21

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

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

Last month:

Andrew was set to add to his exciting opening rounds with a return to NAB League action, but unfortunately fell to injury early in his outing against Bendigo. Having gone down in a heavy contest, Andrew hasn’t been sighted on-field since and also missed the Under 19 trials.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

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

June Ranking: #12

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

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

Last month:

Another who has had some time away, Fahey did not take part in the Giants Academy’s NAB League stint, but made his third appearance for the Giants’ VFL last week. He was understandably quiet with seven disposals in his first outing at the level since Round 5 (May).

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

June Ranking: #19

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with explosive athletic traits and clean hands on the inside, Goater is a prospect with great potential.

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

Last month:

Goater remains in the mix after some really consistent form for the Calder Cannons, as well as a strong showing in the Vic Metro trial game. As a permanent fixture in midfield, the big-bodied prospect showcased his strong ball winning ability and clean hands, playing the role of extractor and distributor perfectly. He ticked over 30 touches in his latest appearance for Calder and uses the ball efficiently, suiting his side’s kick-mark style.

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

June Ranking: #9

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

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams has been in sensational form at WAFL Colts level. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 23 goals in eight WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

Williams’ goalkicking record at Colts level speaks for itself, and the East Fremantle tall continues to find the big sticks consistently. He booted two majors in each of his last two outings, but was really impressive in his latest dig with 22 disposals, eight marks and 21 hitouts to continue his aerial dominance. With such a strong group of key forwards at Western Australia’s disposal, Williams’ form will have to be constant if he is to retain focal point status at representative level. He does have the added string to his bow of versatility, with a ruck chop-out proving useful at various times this season.

#19 Josh Ward
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Midfielder
15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg

June Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A classy midfielder who is capable of winning mountains of possessions, Ward proves a centre bounce mainstay with his clean skills and work rate.

Having started the year on the precipice, Ward has broken into and consolidated his spot among the 2021 crop’s top 25 places. The Northern Knights midfielder is one who works hard both ways and gets stuck in at the contest, able to win his own ball and distribute with clean skills to the outer. He is also beginning to showcase his own traits on the outside and can impact while resting forward, but holds clear value as a reliable ball winner at the stoppages. A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Ward is destined for the same honours as a rising draft eligible Under 19 talent this year.

Last month:

Ward has been one of the form players of the draft pool since our last edition, seeing him soar into the top 20 and look quite comfortable there. It all started with an outstanding 34-disposal effort in Northern’s win over Oakleigh, where he matched Daicos around the contest and was super productive with his ball use. Ward carried that form into the Vic Metro trial game as captain, showcasing more of his outside ability with transitional run and time in the forward half. He capped off a brilliant month of football by racking up another 35 touches and laying nine tackles as the Knights went down to Murray last week.

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

June Ranking: #13

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

Pegged as Western Australia’s best draft prospect and potentially the leading tall coming into the year, Van Rooyen continues to impress in 2021. He was part of Claremont’s WAFL Colts side which went down in last season’s Grand Final, booting 19 goals in 10 games. He donned the Black Ducks jersey in 2020’s West Australian All Stars fixtures and was a lock for the AFL Academy intake in 2021. A glandular fever diagnosis has halted his progress a touch, but Van Rooyen started out the season at League level and was difficult to deny for a return after showing great form in the WAFL Colts.

Last month:

Having been managed back into some form and full-time minutes via the Colts, Van Rooyen returned to the senior WAFL grade last week. He managed a combined 10 goals in his three Colts outings beforehand, but only snared one from six touches and four marks upon cracking into the League set-up for his fourth cap. With an uninterrupted run up forward and potentially some better midfield form, Van Rooyen could once again climb the order.

>> WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 8

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

June Ranking: #18

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

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

Last month:

Murley is another who has battled injury in 2021, but is now finding his feet having gotten back on the park. He returned via the Reserves grade but has since found form back in the Under 18s, notching two games of over 30 disposals and two goals in the last three weeks. As was the case at times last season, Murley seems a class above his peers but the true test will be how he can adapt should he be thrust back into the senior grades. If he keeps his form up, a promotion seems inevitable.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus: Cooper Murley

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

June Ranking: #16

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

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

Last month:

Mixing his time between PSA football and the WAFL Colts, Bazzo continues to be utilised at either end of the ground. He didn’t have much to do in his lone Colts outing for the month, managing 10 disposals, two marks and eight tackles in Swan Districts’ 80-point Round 12 win over Subiaco. It was his fourth Colts appearance for 2021 and it is becoming evident that Bazzo looks most suited to his intercept marking role down back, where he is likely to be stationed for Western Australia at the Under 19 National Championships.

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

June Ranking: #23

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

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

Last month:

Browne’s sensational WAFL Colts form continued into June, as the reliable midfielder found plenty of the ball and even hit the scoreboard in some big efforts. Two of his last three outings for East Fremantle yielded 38 disposals, with his latest appearance also seeing Browne end up with three goals to his name against Perth. His output is undeniable and more dominant performances like that of Round 11 will only put his stocks in good stead around this even range.

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

June Ranking: #25

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

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

Last month:

Wilmot continued his exciting form with a strong start to his month, turning out for Northern and notching 22 touches in his usual defensive post, as the Knights toppled Oakleigh. He was able to utilise his running power, speed, and sharp ball use in the trial games too, lining up across half-back and even rolling up to a wing for Vic Metro. He continues to showcase handy points of difference for a player of his size and position, essentially holding his place in our count.

#25 Blake Howes
Sandringham Dragons | Forward/Wing
7/04/2003 | 190cm/79kg

June Ranking: NR

Snapshot: One of the best athletes available in this year’s draft, Howes boasts a terrific aerial game but also competes well at ground level and shows promising versatility.

Rounding out the top 25 is another new name in the mix, but one who should be well known to keen draft watchers. Howes was an All Australian at Under 16 level, plying his trade as a high-marking forward with wonderful athleticism and clean hands. While he started the year off in that usual forward post, Howes has since shown his versatility with a shift to the wing and is a classic high-ceiling type of prospect. He was included in this year’s initial AFL Academy intake and continues to back up that selection with form fitting of his potential as a mainstay in the Sandringham Dragons’ side.

Last month:

A name which has hovered around the mark, Howes makes his Power Rankings debut on the back of some really promising displays over the last month. Since moving up to a wing for Sandringham Dragons, Howes has played the position well by getting his hands on the ball more while still showcasing his marking prowess. In finding more possessions, Howes has also proven his ground level prowess. He very nearly had a blinder on the weekend, managing 24 disposals and nine marks against Tasmania, but just falling short on the end product with four behinds. At 190cm, his athleticism and versatility will excite many watchers.

IN THE MIX:

The two to fall out of the rankings since last month’s edition are Glenelg midfielder-defender Lewis Rayson and tall Northern Knights midfielder Ned Long. Rayson continues to tick along with more midfield minutes in the SANFL Under 18s, while Long has not been sighted at NAB League level in the last month and did not feature in the Victorian trials.

West Australian goalkicking ace Jye Amiss is becoming increasingly hard to deny. The East Perth spearhead is the leading WAFL Colts goalkicking charts with 37 in nine games, proving a dead-eye with his set shot conversions and difficult to stop when stationed one-on-one inside 50. His latest outing yielded a bag of seven majors, and he doesn’t need too many opportunities to make an impact.

After snaring five goals for Vic Country during last month’s trials, Dandenong midfielder-forward Judson Clarke is climbing draft boards. His mix of pace and skill catches the eye, with his current form pointing towards top 25 potential. Sam Butler, the brother of St Kilda’s Dan is another in that boat, but was recently injured having made a successful transition into midfield. GWV teammate Sam Breuer has also done so, only from defence, showing good speed and intent around the ball.

The likes of Zac Taylor and Lachlan Rankin are clever footballers who also enjoyed solid trial games to go with their NAB League form, so too Connor Macdonald. Back over in South Australia, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera could be another to watch after breaking through for his League debut, having strung together some form at the Reserves level.

Scouting Notes | 2021 Victorian Under 19 trials

IT was Vic Country’s day on Sunday, taking out both Under 19 trial games against their Metro counterparts at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee. But the results mattered little, with fans, recruiters and pundits alike keen to see which players would put their hands up for further representative honours at the upcoming Under 19 National Championships. We outline some of the best performers from all four squads, with each set of Scouting Notes the opinion of the individual author.

GAME ONE | VIC COUNTRY 10.11 (71) def. VIC METRO 8.11 (59)

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Michael Alvaro

#1 Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
173cm/74kg | 15/03/2002 | Midfielder/Small Forward

The Bendigo Pioneers top-ager did his usual job rotating between the midfield and forwardline, finding a decent amount of ball and looking to be creative with his run and foot skills. Conforti started in attack and booted the game’s first goal from a 45m set shot, but was far busier after half time with his move to midfield. He used his run positively to help Country stream forward, like in one instance during the fourth term where he took on the man on the mark, backing his pace and delivering inside 50 through the corridor.

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

Arguably the best player afield in game one, Hobbs proved his top 10 credentials with another superb outing. His return from injury has been seamless, cracking in and running hard to find plenty of the ball over the last fortnight. Hobbs started in midfield and got to work straight away, though some of his ball use was rushed under the early pressure. He still got good penetration on his kicks and brought good intensity to the contest with his tackling. Having moved forward after half time, Hobbs still managed to find the ball through sheer work rate and finished the game with two goals, one of which was a clean snap in term three.

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

From what we saw on Sunday, Country is set to use Rachele as a pretty permanent forward fixture. The mercurial Murray Bushrangers talent looked switched on early, presenting well up at the forward 50 arc with good separation on the lead. He notched an early score via that method, then speared a pass to Conforti for the game’s first goal having been hit further out. Rachele grew a touch quieter after his early glimpses, but still provided an option at half-forward and slotted his first goal in the third term, before adding another from a goalmouth scramble in the following period.

#6 Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels)
181cm/81kg | 13/08/2002 | Midfielder/Forward

The smooth-moving Rebels midfielder was a centre bounce starter for Country, before being shifted forward in the second half. In his primary post, Herbert got busy around the ball and showed nice agility on a few occasions to wheel into space before delivering a kick. He was one of the many Rebels to end up in attack, booting two goals after half time with one from a 40m set shot and the other out the back in open play.

#8 Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers)
179cm/75kg | 26/09/2003 | Midfielder/Forward

Gallagher was another to feature in the midfield-forward rotation, starting in attack before spending more time among the engine room. In his time up forward, the Bendigo Pioneers product worked hard up the ground and looked to run the ball back towards goal, showing positive intent when in possession and releasing kicks at full tilt. He also worked hard in that sense without the ball, burning his opponent with his work rate on fast breaks to get to the next contest inside 50.

#11 Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)
184cm/82kg | 5/05/2002 | Inside Midfielder

As one of Country’s centre bounce staples, Maher produced a big performance from the engine room. He set his side on the front foot, winning a heap of ball at the coalface with his mature frame and turn of speed allowing for regular extraction. He was often the player to get first hands on the ball and looked a lot cleaner than in previous outings, while also getting good penetration on his clearing kicks out of congestion. Maher’s explosiveness also allowed him to get to the outside, where he lowered his eyes a touch more but still showed room for improvement in that department.

#13 Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels)
183cm/80kg | 26/06/2003 | Defender/Midfielder

The story of Breuer’s season could be observed through the journey of his four quarters on Sunday, as he started steadily in defence before coming to life through midfield. Once he entered the centre bounce mix, Breuer was able to find much more of the ball and have an impact moving forward, using his turn of speed and penetrating kick coming to the fore. His intent and pressure acts were also up, making for a well-rounded midfield game.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne (GWV Rebels)
183cm/79kg | 16/04/2003 | Wing

In what was one of his best performances to date, Ballantyne made the wing his own and was a crucial cog to Country’s success between the arcs. He battled really well to split and win a bunch of contests on the outer, before helping his side progress its transition with his run and carry. The Rebels prospects also snuck forward and hit the scoreboard, converting well via set shots.

#16 Kai Lohmann (GWV Rebels)
6/05/2003 | 185cm/76kg | Forward

A player with plenty of flair and eye-catching athletic traits, Lohmann always promises to provide some exciting moments. That was again the case on Sunday, though he just lacked that finishing touch at times to cap off his good work. The dynamic forward did well to impact further afield and link Country into attacking 50, while also becoming a threat closer to goal. He missed a couple of chances on goal during the third term, with a set shot falling short and a snap put just off target.

#21 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels)
195cm/84kg | 4/04/2003 | Tall Defender/Forward

Utilised at either end of the ground, Gibcus was again able to showcase his strong aerial prowess and athleticism. The standout GWV Rebels prospect started in his usual defensive post and timed his leaps well, rising for typically assured intercept marks and spoils. His distribution by foot was also noticeably more clean than in previous weeks, shown as he took the kick-ins. Gibcus was then swung forward, where he continued to compete in the air and despite not clunking too many marks, he managed to bring the ball to ground and allow others to enter the play inside 50.

#30 Toby Conway (Geelong Falcons)
204cm/90kg | 24/04/2003 | Ruck

Conway was one who had a nice moment in each term, plying his trade in the ruck and eventually spending some time up forward. The Geelong Falcons bigman used his size and reach on a couple of occasions to clunk strong marks down the line, with his pack grab on the wing during the first quarter particularly strong. He is also building his follow-up work and did well to win a centre clearance in term two, but had one effort by foot he would want back in the following period. Conway’s forward stint was not as productive, but he was solid as usual in the ruck with his craft.

VIC METRO:

By: Declan Reeve

#3 Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges)
179cm/80kg | 25/01/2003 | Midfielder

Has somewhat been overshadowed at times by Eastern teammate Tyler Sonsie, but with Sonsie missing in this clash, Soligo took the opportunity to put his name up as arguably the best Metro player on ground for the game. He was at his usual best with his inside ball winning, throwing himself into everything in an attempt to win the hard balls and handball out to runners. He took some good marks throughout the game, with an early one being full stretch overhead under direct pressure off an opposition inside 50. He was always happy to do the hard work, with his pressure and tackling top notch once again, putting on so much pressure it forced an out on the full kick from an opponent at one stage in the game. Early on in the game when goals weren’t flowing, Soligo was the one to break through for Metro with two early goals; the first of which was a kick on the run from 50 out, and the second of which less than two minutes later, converting a set shot from about 45 meters out.

#4 Corey Preston (Eastern Ranges)
181cm/76kg | 18/12/2002 | Defender/Forward

Lining up across the half-back line, Preston was one of Metro’s best with some exceptional ball use coming out of the defensive half, in a game where clean kicks to marks were few and far between. Positioning well behind the play to rack up intercept possessions, Preston’s tendency was to push up and impact contests in the middle of the ground, before turning on the jets and kicking well when he got the ball, causing headaches for Vic Country. He was an aerial threat at times, taking an impressive overhead contested mark in the second quarter to highlight what he can do in that regard. There were times when he found himself one-on-one with Country’s Josh Rachele, able to match his exceptional athleticism to spoil a few of his marking attempts.

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

Forming a good dynamic with Soligo, Ward played his usual balanced role around the midfield, able to crack in and win it in tight, but just as capable of holding out to receive a releasing handball. What was impressive was Ward’s confidence in his speed and elusiveness, which he doesn’t always show off, going for a few runs with ball in hand that led to dangerous Metro plays. One such instance came in the first quarter where he went just the 10 meters with speed, then delivered the ball to a leading target inside 50. That same kind of burst was shown when he scored the first goal of the second quarter as well, getting onto the end of a kick in transition, taking a run from the centre square with two bounces en route to kicking the goal from a slight angle. 

#8 Marcus Windhager (Sandringham Dragons)
183cm/82kg | 16/05/2003 | Defender/Midfielder

The St Kilda Next Generation Academy (NGA) member had arguably his best display for the year playing in the defensive 50 and midfield, where his power in his acceleration and leap caught the eye. His leaping was most obvious in the backline, where he often got first hands to the ball in the air. Even if he didn’t always hold onto the ball, he could stop opponents winning it cleanly. His acceleration was obvious around stoppages, where he would get in at the contest and burst out to handball to runners.

#12 Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons)
189cm/82kg | 26/04/2003 | Balanaced Midfielder

Being pushed back out to the wing as he had done earlier in the NAB League season, it took Callaghan some time to work into the game and start impacting like he’s proven he can. Apart from taking the advantage from a teammate’s free kick and missing a shot on goal from 25 out early on, it was another typical Callaghan display that we’ve become slowly accustomed to. He held his space well when positioned on the wing, taking some good overhead grabs but also proving crafty when having to pick the ball up off the ground, getting separation on opponents when he had the ball to give himself space to deliver via foot, usually to a central target. He moved into a rover spot in the second half where he really put his foot down and started stamping some more authority on the game, able to accelerate away from the opposition as he got handball receives from the stoppage winners. Callaghan also looked particularly classy when bringing the ball out of the defensive half, side stepping opponents and delivering in front of leading targets.

#13 Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
189cm/80kg | 5/03/2002 | Defender

A pretty standard day at the office for Cleary, where he showed some superb positioning in the defensive half that led to him racking up intercept possessions. Cleary used this positioning to get in front of opponents or be an extra number to other contests and take marks in the defensive half, using his penetrative and accurate kick to hit some game opening passes going forward. He took the kick-ins at stages where he ran the ball out and kicked long, often to the top of the centre square.

#14 Luke Nankervis (Sandringham Dragons)
189cm/76kg | 25/05/2003 | Wing/Forward

Splitting his game time between the wing and the half-forward role as he does in the NAB League, Nankervis had some nice moments throughout the game, bringing his usual strengths with his leap, speed and marking particularly impressive. It’s been noted before that his ability to keep his hands free in tackles and contests is outstanding. It led to him getting some free kicks as the game went on, as opponents tried to get the ball out of his hands, pushing him in the back or getting him high in the process. He was the first link in a fourth quarter chain of play that led to a Metro goal, taking a high-leaping contested mark and then kicking it in front of a teammate to run onto. He showed defensive accountability as well throughout the game, running hard for tackles and spoils even when it wasn’t in his area.

#18 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons)
190cm/79kg | 7/04/2003 | Wing/Forward

Playing a bit everywhere, Howes showed he has the versatility to impact around the ground really well regardless of the position his magnet is in. He managed to consistently get good separation on his leads, making it easy for him to take marks on his chest or out in front. He was good in contested marking situations as well, even out-marking highly touted Vic Country product Josh Gibcus when he ran back with the flight in defensive 50 and held it well. Howes was a strong tackler when in close, especially around stoppages, making it hard for Country to run it out cleanly when he was around. He would follow up from his marks and free kicks with clean ball use, trying to get it into the corridor with most of his disposals.

#19 Mitch Owens (Sandringham Dragons)
190cm/85kg | 24/09/2003 | Forward

Another St Kilda NGA prospect for Metro, Owens impressed with his work inside 50. Standing up in tackles was one of his biggest strengths and led to a moment in the second quarter where he won the ball off the ground, kept his feet with the contact and handed it off to a teammate in the goal square for an easy goal. His work aerially was also really strong, taking some good one grab marks around the ground – one of which in the fourth quarter came deep inside 50, taking an intercept mark from an intended switch kick, and put himself on the scoreboard. 

#23 Cody Raak (Western Jets)
193cm/80kg | 8/10/2002 | Defender

The Western Bulldogs NGA member has been one of the strongest defenders in the NAB League this season, and continued that in the trial game for Metro. Looking most impressive in the first half, Raak was doing a lot of the same things he’s become renowned for, taking marks as a kick behind the play defender, spreading the opposition with his switch kicks and stopping opposition attacks with his tackling and defensive work. What was good to see, was how proactive he was in initiating offensive plays with his kicking, rather than always looking for safe options.

#26 Anthony Caminiti (Northern Knights)
Key Forward

A late call-up to the trials, Caminiti has previously impressed in APS footy with bags of goals. Whilst the scoreboard alluded him to a degree in this contest, he still managed to look good as a lead up forward option, getting separation from his opponents well and sticking most marks. He looked surprisingly elusive for a big man as well, having a few moments where he was composed in traffic to give hands off to a runner in a good spot. Whilst he might have liked a more complete performance, he certainly showed some really good glimpses.

GAME TWO | VIC COUNTRY 14.5 (89) def. VIC METRO 12.15 (87)

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Michael Alvaro

#3 Max Walton (Gippsland Power)
180cm/73kg | 6/11/2003 | Small Defender

Walton brought his best traits to the fore on Sunday, reverting back to his usual running defender role and providing plenty of offensive drive for Country. The Gippsland Power product took some of the early kick-ins and did not hesitate to get on his bike straight away, carrying the ball out of defensive 50 and utilising his long kick. His positive rebounding and ability to chain one-two plays down the line made for some smooth transitions, traits which are also applicable to the wing, where Walton may also end up.

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

Macdonald provided a good bit of spark to the centre bounces for Country, with his clean bursts away from congestion proving a real weapon in the opening stages. The Dandenong Stingrays midfielder was able to win a bunch of centre clearances, either breaking into space with speed or kicking long under immediate pressure. He snuck forward in the second quarter and struck a handy 45m set shot goal, before being shifted forward more often after half time, but missing another chance to add to Country’s tally.

#7 Judson Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays)
179cm/69kg | 17/10/2003 | Small Forward/Midfielder

While his five-goal performance was somewhat overshadowed by the exploits of Metro’s Sam Darcy, Clarke emerged as a genuine top 25 prospect with his team-best performance on Sunday. The zippy midfielder-forward started brightly, slamming home the game’s first goal from a set shot and sharking a sharp nice later in the opening term. He added majors in each of the next three quarters, including one on the three quarter time siren and a lovely conversion from range which capped off his outing nicely. Clarke’s pace, clean hands and spearing left-foot kicking were real highlights on the day, especially on the attack.

#9 Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
193cm/77kg | 8/01/2003 | Inside Midfielder/Forward

Knevitt continues to show a few different sides to his game, with the big-bodied midfielder showing glimpses of his high potential. He played almost exclusively in midfield for the first three quarters and was typically strong around the ball, winning clearances and standing up in tackles to flick out handballs over his shoulder – one of his best traits at stoppages. Knevitt also did well to compete aerially and was eventually moved forward, hitting the post with a snap and unfortunately putting a set shot well wide in the fourth term.

#12 Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
181cm/77kg | 6/05/2002 | Midfielder/Forward

While he only stands at 181cm, Bravo brings real physicality and hardness to the contest each time he plays. The top-ager’s speed is also a useful trait in midfield, and he leant on it while breaking forward and looking to chain possessions with repeat running efforts. He also used his pace to impact defensively and applied some absolutely crunching tackles in an attempt to set the tone after half time. Bravo moved forward in the final term, but looked much more impactful further afield.

#13 Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
180cm/79kg | 8/07/2002 | Wing

It is no secret that Gribble knows how to find the ball. That was no different on Sunday, as the Geelong Falcons running man found plenty of it through sheer work rate and smarts. He was everywhere early, dropping back to the defensive 50 to help shift the ball forward, while doing his usual bit between the arcs and accumulating possessions. Gribble also snuck forward and was gifted a goal in the second term, converting well with a snap right on the behind post. The top-ager didn’t try and do too much in possession either, meaning Country could link cleanly.

#14 James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)
183cm/80kg | 10/01/2003 | Forward/Wing

In his usual half-forward to wing rotation, Cahill was a busy type as he worked up the ground and looked to use his skills going into attack. He started inside attacking 50 and finished with aplomb for the game’s second goal, before providing useful dash in transition as a link into Country’s forward arc. He was a touch quieter after half time with his move to the wing, but popped up with some nice moments.

#17 Bryce Milford (Dandenong Stingrays)
195cm/82kg | 8/07/2002 | Tall Utility

Milford was involved in almost everything Country produced going forward in the first half, as he presented with separation on the lead time and time again to good effect. A mobile type at 195cm, the Dandenong Stingrays utility also gave a chop-out in the ruck, but looked most dangerous with his marking in the front half. His lone goal of the game came in the opening quarter, via a clean set shot, and Milford could have finished with a couple more if not for inaccuracy. His first half was a good measure of his potential, though he faded a touch after the main break.

#24 Oscar Morrison (Geelong Falcons)
193cm/86kg | 21/08/2003 | Defender

While Morrison’s game would not have been one to yield enormous numbers, the aerially adept defender played a couple of key roles and held firm across Country’s backline. The Geelong Falcons prospect, donning his usual headband, was easy to spot out there and also caught the eye with his play. He was typically assured in the air and read the play well to intercept, while also distributing the ball quite reliably. He even spent some time on Darcy during the second half, engaging the key forward in battles of strength inside 50 to help combat the 11cm height difference.

#25 Justin Davies (Dandenong Stingrays)
192cm/92kg | 29/04/2003 | Defender

Another Country defender with sharp skills and versatility, Davies played both tall and small on Sunday. He matched up on bigger opponents at times but held his own, before looking productive when let off the leash and allowed to intercept more freely. The Dandenong Stingrays talent showed good smarts to meet the ball on the intercept both in the air and at ground level, taking it cleanly and keeping the play moving with his quick decision making on the rebound.

#29 Max Annandale (Geelong Falcons)
192cm/86kg | 30/01/2002 | Forward

Country’s hero in game two having booted the winning goal, Annandale did most of his work inside attacking 50 and proved a viable marking target. His hands were strong overhead, as the Geelong Falcons forward took advantage of quick and long delivery to his area for two of his three major scores. The top-ager was also gifted one in the second term, cutting off a kick across goal and converting without fuss. Overall he was a solid option deep in attack, and an important one in the end.

VIC METRO:

By: Declan Reeve

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

Playing almost exclusively in the midfield for the game, Dib showed cleanliness below his knees and a seemingly fearless approach to winning contested footy. Whilst this change meant he wasn’t getting as much time to compose himself before getting rid of the ball, he still managed to show glimpses of smart ball use, with his natural tendency to use both sides of his body meaning he could always get rid of the ball quickly under pressure. He needs to find a way to add more penetration consistently, but overall it was a good outing.

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

Playing through the midfield for most of the contest, Taylor had a quiet start to the game, but really came into it from the second quarter onwards. He became a regular danger around stoppages and provided clean ball use when given the slightest bit of space, often running to be the receiver if he wasn’t the initial ball winner. He was however, still finding himself as that initial ball winner from clearances pretty often, with a really good purple patch for centre clearances in the second quarter where he won three in a row and followed up with clean ball use when the options were there. He was smart and realistic in his own ability with the footy, often being in a spot where he could try and pull off a miracle disposal, but would go for a shorter handball or kick – never as flashy as the other option but infinitely better. This was best highlighted in the third quarter, where he collected a ground ball, had enough room to snap around the body on goal but opted to handpass to Sam Darcy who was running into goal.

#7 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers)
182cm/68kg | 5/02/2003 | Defender/Forward

Splitting his time between the forwardline and backline, Rankin added a touch of class to both lines and demonstrated composure with the ball. He kicked Metro’s opening goal for the game, getting the handball from a pack and kicking it off a step from 45 meters out. His switch into the defensive half worked wonders for Metro, as he set up well for intercept possessions behind the play, where he’d run on with the ball and use it well by hand and foot alike, often spotting up the inside 45 options well and darting his kicks low and hard. Had a great display of workrate in the final quarter, where he tripped up as an opponent side-stepped him on the half-forward line, but ran hard to chase the same opponent and lay a tackle about 25 meters out from goal. 

#8 Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)
183cm/75kg | 31/12/2003 | Defender

Whilst not necessarily winning as much ball as he has done in the NAB League of late, he brought his same eye catching and daring dash out of the defensive 50 and kick-ins, causing headaches for Country as they were unable to consistently structure against it. He used the ball well by foot as he didn’t try to blaze away with his top line speed, rather composing himself prior to kicking the ball to make sure it was effective. Wilmot even took time to get it onto the opposite foot when going forward and being pressured on his favoured right side. He looked strong in the air as well, taking some impressive quick reflex intercept marks in the defensive 50.

#10 Paul Curtis (Western Jets)
183cm/73kg | 4/03/2003 | Forward

As a smaller marking target in the forwardline, Curtis was a dangerous option up forward even if overshadowed by Darcy. With his ability to get separation from opponents and take marks, but also his cleanliness below his knees, he’s rather versatile in his approach to getting the ball. His kicking for goal left a bit to be desired at times, but the way he managed to win the ball inside 50 meant through sheer quantity of shots he ended the day with three goals, where he could’ve had four or five more had it not been for inaccuracy. With some polishing of that kicking for goal, there’s no doubt Curtis could be a very serious threat at the next level.

#16 Karl Worner (Oakleigh Chargers)
188cm/78kg | 16/06/2002 | Wing

In arguably his best display for the year, Worner was consistently impactful around the ground, making the wing his own but often getting down deep into defence to assist with his strong marking. That marking was often a headache for Country, consistently strong above his head even in packs and seemingly never being spoiled through the game which gave Metro a level of certainty when kicking the ball to him. He also showed good follow up ball use with penetrative kicking to the advantage of his teammates when moving it forward or laterally, and was happy to take on opponents with his run and carry when applicable.

#19 Braden Andrews (Oakleigh Chargers)
189cm/83kg | 21/02/2003 | Defender/Midfielder

With an injury affected start to the year for the AFL Academy member, Andrews took the trials as an opportunity to remind those that may have forgotten of his skill and strengths. Splitting his game time between the defensive 50 and the midfield, Andrews was impressive in patches across both roles. In the backline, he looked good with his positioning behind the ball, taking some impressive marks above his head and following up with good use by foot, mostly hitting his targets but getting smothered off the boot a couple of times. When getting his runs through the midfield he was a strong body around stoppages, able to win the ball and move through traffic, then handball to release runners going forward.

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

One of the best performing Metro players across the day, at least in the midfield, Goater pushed his draft credentials higher with some stellar midfield play, especially around stoppages. He did pretty much everything well, demonstrating cleanliness below his knees, even when under pressure, with multiple one hand pick ups on the run and pinpoint handballs to runners in the same motion. He kicked well, balancing how he kicked for the situation, hitting short 45s and switching the ball when it was the best option, but also demonstrating some real dangerous kicking in transition – with one in particular being a 50 meter pass from the wing to the forward pocket. His stoppage work was at its usual high level, able to read the ball off the rucks’ hands better than most opponents and weave through heavy traffic in a way he has little right to, then using those quick hands or kicking to get Metro forward.

#27 Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
204cm/73kg | 19/07/2003 | Tall Utility/Ruck

Arguably the highest profile prospect playing across either game, the Western Bulldogs father-son prospect well and truly put himself into pick one conversations, slotting six goals and missing some fairly gettable late shots to prove that he gets enough of the ball when he’s being targeted by his teammates. Darcy’s marking was strong throughout the game, with his reach and overall height meaning he was able to take marks relatively easily, even without getting much separation from his opponents. He made up for the difficulty in getting separation on certain opponents with solid leading patterns, switching direction and turning opponents around with his constant movement which was particularly helpful in transition, as Metro’s damaging ball users moved it quickly. There was a switch of opposition in the last quarter, and with a slower opponent Darcy was able to get separation with more ease, meaning he was able to just lead straight at the ball carrier rather than get carried away with complicating his leads. As mentioned, his marking was superb, but one particular one late in the game, where he got tripped up but still managed to take the mark when falling down perfectly demonstrated just how strong his marking was. A good set shot and able to snap the ball straight through the big sticks when on an angle, it was a great showing from Darcy, and one that’ll get Dogs fans extremely excited.  

Scouting Notes | 2021 U17 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro won out in Saturday’s Under 17 Victorian derby, powering away with the last seven goals of the game to defeat Vic Country by 34 points at GMHBA Stadium. The hard-fought contest and exciting bursts of scoring allowed a number of budding 2022 draft prospects to shine, with 10 of the top performers from either side featuring in our Scouting Notes. Each note is the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: Vic Metro def. Vic Country

Vic Country:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
22/10/2004 | 176cm | Forward/Midfielder

Predominantly playing across the half-forward line with some stints through the midfield, O’Sullivan impressed with his ferociousness on the ball and opponent alike, throwing himself into the thick of every contest he was around. With pressure forwards worth their weight in gold at the next level, O’Sullivan marked himself as one to watch for the 2022 draft, repeatedly laying tackles or forcing opponents to rush their disposal with his pressure. A really impressive aspect of his game is how quickly he can get up off the ground after being brought down or laying a tackle himself, almost striding himself back up to try and win the spilled ball. Despite standing at just 176cm, he made himself an aerial threat, taking an impressive contested mark on the half-forward line against a bigger opponent.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 182cm | Balanced Midfielder

Like his older brother, Gold Coasts’ Elijah, Oliver was a key part of the Country team, playing across all lines throughout the four quarters to prove himself a versatile and consistently impactful prospect. What was evident almost immediately with Hollands was his cleanliness with the ball and below his knees, able to take clean pick-ups off of packs, even when under pressure, and follow up with a clean handball to a teammate or kick forward. He looked at his best when he was attending centre bounces in the second half, where he just consistently got to the fall of the ball off the rucks’ hands, even when he had specific attention from Metro, battling for front position and putting himself in an area where he could run straight onto the ball and not worry about pressure coming from the other way. Had a few eye catching moments with his zip and agility away from stoppages, particularly with a moment in the second quarter where he got past two opponents with two side-steps, despite being right up on the boundary. It wasn’t all offensive from Hollands either having started the game on the wing, where he didn’t win a heap of it early, but still impacted with tackling and high defensive work rate, diving to smother a few kicks off the boot at times.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Inside Midfielder

Playing a style not too dissimilar to 2020 AFL Rising Star winner, Fremantle’s’ Caleb Serong, Long was a bull and consistent ball winner on the inside throughout the entire contest. One of the few players on ground to play midfield pretty much all game, it wasn’t hard to understand why the Country coaches wanted to keep him there as much as possible. Long won the first clearance of the day, setting the tone early with his ferociousness in the contest, pushing past opponents to get first hands on the ball. Unsurprisingly, as an insider midfielder Long’s hands in close were exceptional, able to quickly fire out handballs to release runners even when being brought to ground. Those quick hands translate to his kicking as well, able to pick the ball up off the ground cleanly and then put it on his boot in one action. Although at times his kicking was rushed and didn’t look pretty, he got distance behind it, pulling out the barrel a couple of times. He was part of the early scoreboard pressure Country applied in the third quarter, taking a contested mark above his head and slotting it from about 30 out, showing that when given time he can kick really well. Appointed the Country co-captain alongside Hollands, it was good to see him be directive and vocal with his teammates throughout the contest.

#11 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 180cm | Inside Midfielder

Looking far more imposing than his 180cm frame would suggest, Clark was arguably the most impressive of the contested ball winning brigade for the game. At times looking like recent Geelong Falcons graduate Tanner Bruhn with his inside work and follow up clean ball use, it was truly amazing what Clark managed to do with the ball under so much pressure. Like a lot of inside midfielders, his quick handballing and cleanliness at ground level was top notch, picking it up with one hand under pressure at times, not being knocked off balance or brought down by heavy contact from opponents. His kicking was also impressively clean, whilst sometimes not pretty, it was always weighted well to the advantage of his teammates. One of his more impressive kicks came when he received a handball under pressure at the top of the centre square, stood up and broke free from a tackle, then composed himself and laced it out to a teammate laterally off one step, in front of him so he could keep his opponent away from it. He won a lot of clearances around the ground, with the one impressing the most being deep inside defensive 50, where he took the ball in the air off the rucks’ hands, at full stretch, and handballed off to a runner straight away.

#13 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)
28/08/2005 | 185cm | Medium Utility

Being thrown about positionally, starting in defence, moving forward and then getting on the wing, 2023 draft prospect Duursma looked classy and composed throughout, taking any challenge that came his way with both hands. What stood out most in his defensive role was his cleanliness at ground level and composure under pressure, taking the ball off the ground well and finding good options by hand, even in the middle of packs. There was one particular chain of play where he gave a handball off, got it back, and handballed again where the ball didn’t hit the target he wanted, but he won it off the ground in a pack and then handballed out to a runner. Duursma kicked a goal up forward in the second quarter that was as straight as you can kick a footy.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Half-Back/Wing

Schuback was a consistently classy user of the footy out of the backline and on the wing throughout the game. Being trusted with the kick-ins in the first and final quarters, Schuback would regularly run the ball out of the square a good 20 meters, and then kick it 40-50 out wide to give the Country defence time to reset, whilst often putting the ball in an area that his teammates could take advantage of and launch attacks. Schuback was proactive with switch kicks in the defensive half as well, running to spots just laterally or slightly behind the ball carrier to get free, mark it and launch it forward with his speed and penetration.

#16 Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
17/04/2005 | 182cm | Half-Back

Reid switch from his usual role up forward or on a wing to play in defence, and played the role well. The 2005-born speedster made life difficult for the Metro small forwards, with that speed meaning he could close down distance between himself and anyone going for a mark to get there and create a contest. Despite being one of the youngest on ground, he was one of the more effective ball users, extremely composed and able to put his kicks to the advantage of teammates up the line or on the short 45 options. It was clear the coaching team knew this as well, giving him kick-in responsibilities when Schuback wasn’t in the backline, where he also would run the ball out and kick long to advantage. One of the more impressive parts of Reid’s game was how strong his tackling was, taking on some of the 195cm plus prospects and bringing them to ground without any issue.

#22 Ned Moodie (Dandenong Stingrays)
31/03/2004 | 188cm | Medium Utility

Gradually moving further up the ground as the game went on, Moodie was particularly impactful when playing in the backline and midfield in the first half of the clash. His strength and consistency above his head were impressive, taking a few contested marks or holding bullet-like kicks that many others would have struggled to hold with one grab. He’d utilise this often in every position he played, with his patrolling of the centre corridor meaning he was used as an inboard option when he got free. He showed a good amount of game smarts, faking a handball to distract his opponent on the mark and then kicking long forward a couple of times. One such moment lead to Country’s second goal. He kicked a goal when up forward, managing to get free of an opponent and mark well in front. 

#30 Harvey Howe (Gippsland Power)
26/10/2004 | 200cm | Ruck

Just played an extremely consistent but pivotal role in Country’s early midfield wins, and continued to win hitouts as the game went on, even if Metro midfielders started to rove his taps. He battled well for front position around the ground and followed up on his taps when there weren’t any Country midfielders in a position to win it, where he displayed some good pick-ups at times.

Vic Metro:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
24/02/2005 | 168cm | Small Forward/Wing

The zippy small forward came in off a strong NAB League debut and showed why he gained Vic Metro representation despite his 168cm stature. The 2023 prospect from Eastern Ranges was a live-wire up forward, creating headaches with his speed and smarts around the ball. Watson is a natural footballer, knowing when to pop up at the right times and creating opportunities up forward with tackling pressure and timely smothers. He also has some nice athletic traits, jumping at packs for an unlikely mark or dancing around opponents with ease, highlighting both traits in the third quarter. Although Watson didn’t hit the scoreboard, a great smother in the third term set up one for his team – expect the scores to come as Watson has a nose for goals which he showed the week before at NAB League level.

#3 Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers)
11/01/2004 | 176cm | Midfielder

The Vic Metro captain set the tone early, showing great workrate and smarts through the midfield. The Oakleigh Chargers prospect is a smaller type at 176cm, but his stature didn’t effect his ability to win the hard ball at stoppages and win plenty of clearances as well. You could see why Drury was made captain, as he displayed workrate and toughness but was also vocal at stoppages and got around his teammates in that way. Drury was clean with the ball and while his disposal by foot was often pressured and not overly clean, with time and space he didn’t have many problems with his disposal.

#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/04/2004 | 178cm | Wing/Small Forward

Spending some time on the wing and then forward, the 178cm Eastern Ranges prospect didn’t necessarily win the most of the ball or kick the most goals, but he just showed little signs in every quarter that he is a player to keep an eye on. Windsor showed plenty of speed and workrate on the wing and often looked quick and composed with ball in hand, always looking to create. Windsor had some great plays in the third quarter, with a lovely mark inside 50 showing his prowess overhead and a lovely goal on the run after balking an opponent showing his craftiness.

#6 Cooper Harvey (Northern Knights)
12/07/2004 | 179cm | Forward

The son of a gun Harvey didn’t have a productive game for the first three quarters, but got off the leash in the last quarter,  kicking two goals by getting into good spots for some marks inside 50. He nailed his set shots, although he missed one of them he could have easily kicked it to finish with three late goals. The Northern Knights prospect is already a bit taller than his old man, Brent at 179cm and plays a different style. Hopefully gets a run in the midfield as well in the later games of these Under 17 championships.

#8 Darcy Edmends (Northern Knights)
28/05/2004 | 180cm | Wing

The classy wingman from the Northern Knights, Edmends was able to show his ability as a smooth mover. Although his disposal wasn’t to his best standards early on, he grew into the game and adjusted to the pace, and then his skillset really started to shine. As classy and smooth as he looks, he also showed a tough side to his game by going back with the flight to take a nice mark in defence in the second quarter. Although it wasn’t one of his better outings, Edmends still showed signs of his talent as the 180cm midfielder looks to have a strong championships going forward.

#10 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/06/2004 | 181cm | Inside Midfielder

The tough inside midfielder from Oakleigh Chargers took a little bit of time to get going but after half time he was right up there with Ashcroft as the most influential midfielder afield, with his desperation to win the ball and put on pressure a real highlight. Wardlaw showed plenty on the inside with his burst from congestion separating from the pack, but despite his contested nature was also composed with ball in hand and often released teammates into better positions. Wardlaw’s desperation was on display in the third quarter with a great second effort and smother, while also showing some great work in a marking contest against highly fancied player Ollie Hollands, convincingly taking the contested mark. It was a strong showing for Wardlaw who would add a goal as reward for effort in the last quarter, recieving the hard ball and settling to kick a lovely goal on the run.

#12 Will Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)
6/05/2004 | 183cm | Midfielder

The Brisbane Lions father-son prospect plying his trade at Sandringham Dragons showed why he is considered one of the best prospects for the 2022 draft with a dominant display in the midfield. Ashcroft showed a great mix of toughness, class and flashy play, with his toughness on show in the first quarter going back with the flight and getting back up quickly to go again. The second quarter is where he kicked his first of two goals with a lovely long range finish hard on the boundary which he would somehow outdo in the last quarter, bursting away to kick another long range goal. That same burst was a highlight in his clearance work too, which included classy clearances to go with some gritty bull-like wins. With 33 disposals, 11 clearances and two goals, it was by far the best performance not only for this game but for the whole Round 1 of the Under 17 championships.

#13 Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)
20/08/2004 | 183cm | Medium Defender/Midfielder

The tough 183cm Calder Cannons prospect started strongly in defence, showing plenty of drive and taking the game on with ball in hand, while also attacking the contest in the air. Usually a midfielder for Calder, Pascu was able to show his versatility for Metro as a defender but he would go on to get some midfield time later in the game and showed how handy he can be in his preferred position. A great chase down tackle in the midfield in the last quarter and a strong shrugged tackle in the third showcased his toughness and willingness to take the game on. The powerful left-footer has started the championships strongly.

#14 Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons)
13/10/2004 | 183cm | Forward

The classy and damaging forward from Sandringham Dragons was influential early on with a lovely rove from a forward stoppage, kicking a nice snap goal in the process, He showed plenty of agility whenever he had possession, getting around opponents with ease. Sheezel managed his second goal in the second quarter from a free kick, but his third in the third quarter was another special goal, roving a ruck tap and kicking the ball seemingly over his head. He had more opportunities to convert in the last quarter but he did well to set up others and provide a nice marking option as well. The 183cm prospect has a few tricks as a forward and is proving to be one of the more difficult match-ups in this year’s championships.

#16 Elijah Tsatas (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/10/2004 | 184cm | Wing

Returning from a collarbone injury earlier in the year, the Oakleigh Chargers prospect has been on the comeback trail, making his NAB League debut the previous week. Although the exciting midfielder excels at stoppages, he made the wing position his own, getting better as the game went on by using his speed and clean hands. The second half is where Tsatas really started to make an impact, offering plenty of run and carry and link up from half-back to half-forward. He also got to showcase his class, taking a running bounce and nailing a nice goal from 45m. Tsatas was at his damaging best in the last quarter with plenty of quality kicks inside 50 leading to goals, with Cooper Harvey the beneficiary on two occasions. A promising first up game for Tsatas, who can hopefully get some time in the centre in the upcoming fixtures.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 9

METRO regions returned to the NAB League in Round 9 as full-time competition resuming, with seven games played on a bumper weekend of action. It meant plenty of Victorian, Tasmanian, and Giants Academy prospects were able to show their wares ahead of the Under 17 and 19 National Championships, with a good amount of budding representatives strutting their stuff in style. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side, in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 9 snapshot

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 7.10 (52) def. by NORTHERN KNIGHTS 14.10 (94)

By: Declan Reeve

Oakleigh Chargers:

#3 Nick Daicos

Once again topping the disposal count for the game, Daicos took some time to work into the contest, looking uncharacteristically rushed with his disposal early as Northern burst out of the blocks. When he found his feet later on in the first quarter he returned to his usual classy self, with his ball use, particularly by foot, damaging offensively as he looked to put it into space for his forwards to run onto. He would also handball to teammates already on the fly, keeping Oakleigh moving quickly forward. He continued on with his top level positioning around the midfield, especially at stoppages, to be a constant danger once he had figured out how to play on his opponent – regularly Northern’s Josh Ward.

#14 Sam Darcy

The rapidly rising Western Bulldogs father-son prospect further solidified his claims to the best key position prospect in the pool, with a strong display where he was put into a few different spots. Starting the day in the defensive 50, Darcy looked clean throughout, showing off some clean pick-ups below his knees early on where he followed up with good use by foot, usually into central spots to keep the ground open for Oakleigh up ahead. In the second quarter he seemingly couldn’t drop anything, holding onto the ball overhead even when there was heavy contact, or in pack situations. It was impressive to see his confidence to take the game on following his marks, happy to play on and get past or around opponents to get extra distance and penetration on his kicks. He played a little more in the ruck in the third term where his height was too much to deal with for Northern, directing the ball well from the taps clear from his opposition ruck. In the forwardline, he presented well even with a heavy lockdown focus from the opposition, getting himself a goal in the fourth term.

#33 Patrick Voss

Having less time away than most on ground due to his games for the Giants Academy, Voss looked one of the most up to the task on field, switching from his usual forward role into the defensive half, which paid off wonderfully. He was a threat aerially and generally used the ball well coming out of defence, but what was most impressive was his physicality and confidence with his tackling and carry of the ball. He performed two really good fend-offs in the second quarter, where he had the ball and put his opponents to ground, with the second one being followed by a good run forward and a torpedo kick to a pack. He moved into the midfield later on where that physicality was again on show as he ran through opponents when hunting for the ball.

Northern Knights:

#3 Josh Ward

Arguably the best on ground across both sides, Ward was a step above with his ball winning and clean disposal throughout the game, despite the wet conditions. While it took others a while to work into it, he was ready from the get go. Ward set the tone early, winning the first clearance and kicking well long for a teammate to mark and convert the first goal of the game, and it only continued on from there. Able to get the ball out quickly to teammates, he became a dangerous option for Northern around the ground, made even more obvious by their efforts to get it in his hands. A point of interest from Ward’s game was the fact he often put himself on Oakleigh’s Nick Daicos around stoppages, able to negate his usual impact well in the early stages of the game whilst not letting his own numbers slip.

#7 Ewan Macpherson

The ever reliable inside bull flourished in the conditions early on and then maintained his impact in the latter stages of the game when it became more and more contested. His follow up efforts around the contest and the ground were impressive, applying pressure and laying tackles to everyone that got within arm’s reach, while also able to pick the ball up even when under heavy pressure and fire out hands to outside runners.

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Wilmot was consistently seen streaming out of defence with ball in hand, trying to be creative with his disposal in order to make Northern more dangerous on the rebound. Whilst he occasionally struggled to execute his skills when running at full speed, overall he hit it his targets more often than not. His workrate was exceptional; proving just as willing to work hard offensively by pushing up and getting handball receives, as he was to run back and impact contests or lay tackles. He came into his own in the second half in particular, as Northern started to run over the top of Oakleigh, as he provided a dangerous option behind the ball.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Felt like he brought his own footy at stages in the game given how much he had it. Was just a constant sight on the inside of contests, battling hard to keep Northern in possession then disposing of it to teammates who were in space. As usual he worked hard defensively as well, seemingly landing every tackle and impressing with his follow up on the ball when it spilled, able to beat all comers to it and hand it out. Whilst he didn’t have many ‘flashy’ moments through the game, Trudgeon was just consistent and showed good football instinct with his positioning, timing and use by hand.

#27 Jason McCormick

The bottom-aged small forward had a game to be proud of, registering a game-high four goals. His read of the ball off hands led to him crumbing well off of packs, able to see if the ball was going to go over the top or in front of the contest and hit the area at speed to pick the ball up, usually with one grab, consistently. Despite being smaller in height than most on field, he wasn’t afraid to compete for the ball in air, leaping for a few high balls and reaching impressive heights, whilst showing strong leading patterns and impressive speed to get separation from opponents. 

GWV REBELS 11.8 (74) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.5 (41)

By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#2 Ben Hobbs

An outstanding game from the inside midfielder who racked up a massive amount of the ball and never took a backwards step. In conditions that suited him to a t, Hobbs was a work horse on the inside and just crashed and bashed his way around the ground. Despite injury ruling him out of the first part of the year, Hobbs showed no signs of being held back by it, using the ball by hand regularly and racking up the possessions with ease from the opening bounce. Always under pressure, Hobbs has to rush his kicks, but it was his hands in close which stood out, as well as his fierce tackling. Hobbs won a free kick for being taken high in the second term and earned a 50m penalty where he slotted it from the goalsquare. He had another flying shot on goal running hard from the initial centre square stoppage to receive the ball and launch on goal, only to just miss to the left. Hobbs kicked his second goal from a forward stoppage in the final term, with a clever snap around his body sailing home. His natural footy IQ combined with his desire to never lose a contest made him a difficult player to contain.

#3 Charlie Molan

Started the game with a clever intercept in the middle, reading the handball from an opposition to steal it back and give it off. Composed with ball in hand, Molan spreads well to the outside and often looked to draw the opponent in before firing off the handball to a teammate. Late in the second quarter, Molan pushed back deep into defence and produced a long, accurate kick to the wing, and then early in the third term was back mopping up in defence again. He tried to spin out of trouble in the middle at one stage in the third but was pinged for holding the ball, though he is able to use both feet which helps him get out of trouble when being corralled.

#6 Marcus Herbert

Herbert donned the long sleeves and found plenty of it in the wet, showing clean hands at ground level and being able to shovel out passes to teammates on the outside. He had some more time in the first half where he was able to spread and win a few uncontested marks, and whilst his kicking under pressure was a bit rushed, he used it well with time on his side. Herbert had a nice passage of play in the third term where he dribbled a kick out of the defensive stoppage and then ran hard to win the next possession via hand, before distributing to a teammate. His clean flick out of a stoppage to an open runner early in the fourth, and his hard ball get to aide in Hobbs’ goal meant he had an influence on the game.

#13 Sam Breuer

Set the tone with Hobbs early, going in for a fierce tackle and then getting the ball away to a teammate, and went on to have an impressive game. Winning a match-high 35 disposals, Breuer covered the ground well and kicked a remarkable thumping goal from the wing. By the wing, that’s centre wing, where an open goalsquare saw it bounce home and in early in the first term. Throughout the match Breuer worked hard for his touches, showing good hands in the wet, spreading well and applying immense defensive pressure. He had a poor turnover in the second term trying to cross from the middle to half-forward, but otherwise was able to impact going forward.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

Rotating through the midfield, Ballantyne had a few nice moments throughout the match, which included a release handball to Breuer for that long goal, and then showing some nice toe of his own to burst away from an opponent at half-forward. The right footer showed he can kick off his left as well, and predominantly looked to open up the play by hand or with a short kick, finishing off with a good goal from an uncontested mark 20m out in the final term. He then produced a well-weighted kick to Josh Gibcus up forward, but the usual defender missed to the left.

Murray Bushrangers:

#8 Zavier Maher

Maher provided some experience and stoppage nous around the contest, able to win the ball in close and use his elite sidestep to get himself out of trouble. A few times he was a little fumbly, such as dropping a mark on the wing then unable to gather quickly, though he redeemed himself with some great second efforts. He read the taps at the stoppages well, and took a strong contested juggling mark late in the game at half-back. Maher had a flying snap on goal in the second term, but it did not swing enough and missed to the left.

#9 Kade Chalcraft

Started strongly with a gather from the stoppage, and got back in defence to help out not long after to clear the ball to half-back and move it on quickly. Playing on-ball, Chalcraft used his stronger frame to frame in and protect the ball when required, lay a big tackle or shovel it out to the outside. Chalcraft had a flying shot from 50m out under pressure just drifted it to the left early in the second term. At one stage in the second quarter, he was tackled by multiple opponents then still shovelled it out showing great strength.

#52 Tom Bracher

Playing on the last line, Bracher provided some good run and carry out of defence to be one of the best Murray players on the day. He read the ball in flight consistently and then was able to run off and receive the handball when he was not marking it. He timed his marking attempts well, and when he had to spoil, using the ball well by foot coming out of defence. He had a big opening term and took a couple of intercept marks in the opening half, tasked with the kickout duties for the Bushrangers on the day. He took some risky passes at times but was able to open the game up through the middle or via a switch, nailing the short harp attempts to his teammates in the back half more often than not.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 12.11 (83) def. EASTERN RANGES 5.5 (35)

By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes

In perhaps Howes’ best game this year, he made the wing position his own after playing the bulk of his time as a high half-forward earlier in the year. Howes, standing at 190cm, moves incredibly well for a player of his stature, with his agility over the ground and clean hands – not just overhead but also at ground level – a real feature in his game against Eastern Ranges. One of the best showcases of his talent came in the second quarter, taking a nice mark at half-back before quickly playing on, showing his great speed and willingness to take the game on. He would get better as the game went on as well, showing great skill at the back of stoppages and with a 50m penalty, he converted a goal which was reward for his efforts up to that point. Howes finished the game with 18 disposals in what is two very strong back to back games for Sandringham Dragons.

#17 Finn Callaghan

Callaghan has likely left the wing position behind him playing for Sandringham, as he has not only excelled in his move to the stoppages, but is starting to look like one of the prime midfielders in this year’s draft crop. His game against Eastern was his most complete game to date. It felt like Callaghan was everywhere, not just having an influence at stoppages in winning multiple clearances, but also getting the ball in open play using his trademark agility to escape congestion, leaving opponents in his wake. It’s hard to showcase as a wingman, but as he is now playing on the inside more he has started to show good attack on the loose ball, showing great balance to his outside class which was already well noted. That harder edge is what will push him towards the very top end of the draft and with a game high 31 disposals to go with four tackles and seven inside 50s, Callaghan’s stocks continue to improve.

#32 Dante Visentini

In his best outing to date, the Under 16 Vic Metro representative showed why he won those accolades back in 2019 with a strong display playing forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck. Visentini was a real threat in the air, taking some strong marks highlighted with one contested grab inside 50 in the third quarter. He would miss the resultant set shot there, but his marking on the wing was also impressive, showing he could get on his bike and present as a leading option all over the ground. Visentini finished the game with 13 disposals, seven marks, 13 hit outs and a goal in a timely reminder to recruiters of his talent ahead of the National Championships.

#52 Luke Nankervis

The smooth moving forward hasn’t been the type of forward to kick bags of goals, but he is certainly one of the more creative ones in this year’s crop with his clean hands and agility with ball in hand real features of his game. That was again evident against Eastern Ranges, where Nankervis showed a great ability to take the ball cleanly below his knees and get his arms up to release by hand. Although he hasn’t been able to use those hands in marking contests, he does have that in his arsenal. Defensively, Nankervis was also very sound with six tackles for the game, with one in the first quarter rewarded for holding the ball. If Nankervis can start to really weave around opponents more often with his agility and start to be a threat in the air, he will cause major headaches for any defender. Nankervis finished the game with 18 disposals and five inside 50s.

#61 Max Heath

The newest acquisition to the St Kilda Football Club, Heath was an imposing force around the ground with his trademark bash and crash style on show – not just in the ruck, but also up forward where he would lay multiple bone crunching tackles. Heath relishes on the tackling side of football, which showed with his five tackles and every one of them certainly left his opponent worse for ware. Heath’s ruck work was also good, forming a great partnership with his on-ballers – especially Finn Callaghan who was fed some quality taps from Heath. The AFL-listed bigman finished the game with seven disposals, five tackles and 21 hit-outs in a typical Heath display.

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

It wasn’t Sonsie’s day, with the classy first round prospect struggling to really get going in the midfield and despite looking good when he got the ball at stoppages, those moments were few and far between by his lofty standards. Usually a dangerous forward threat, Sonsie had numerous opportunities to kick some majors but just couldn’t get the finish, missing some snaps at goal he would usually nail. Things wouldn’t get any better for Sonsie late on, going down with a suspected lower leg injury while being tackled early in the last quarter. Sonsie finished the game with 15 disposals and four tackles and we can only hope the leg injury isn’t too serious.

#5 Jake Soligo

In what was Soligo’s most prolific game to date, the hard nosed Eastern Ranges midfielder proved why he was considered one of Victoria’s most promising midfielders after his strong performances in the 2019 Under 16 National Championships. Soligo was a workhorse through the midfield, winning plenty of the ball at the coalface while also getting back into defence to help his defenders. That defensive nous was on show in the second quarter with a strong intercept mark sitting in the hole, as well as a crunching tackle on fellow hardnut Charlie McKay. Soligo looked elusive and composed whenever he got possession and although it has taken a few games for Soligo to find his feet, he looks to have hit his straps at the right time with Vic Metro soon to take on Allies in the Under 19 National Championships, Soligo finished with a team-high 29 disposals to go with eight marks and 10 tackles.

#8 Nick Watson

A player not eligible for the draft until 2023, the nippy and creative forward only stands at 168cm but his impact and smarts make him an incredible prospect to look out for, and he couldn’t have impressed more in his NAB League debut. Watson was active early, having no issue finding the ball and offering plenty of pressure inside 50. His first goal came on the half time siren where he would kick an impressive major from long range. His second was even better in the last quarter, kicking an incredible snap hard on the boundary from a set shot, showing his obvious class and skill. He was rewarded for his first half with some midfield time in the second half and he again showed plenty of dash and skill through the middle. Watson finished with 13 disposals, five tackles and kicked 2.1 and looks a player to watch for Vic Metro in the upcoming Under 17 championships.

#31 Tyreece Leiu

After starting the year in the midfield and up forward, Leiu has had a stunning turn of form playing down back in recent times for Eastern Ranges. His intercept marking was a key feature of his game, taking strong marks in the contest and reading the play really well. The Eastern Ranges defence was adept at taking intercept marks, non more-so than Leiu, but it was also his intercepts in general where he would body line a loose contest and either take the ball himself or cause a 50/50, using his stronger frame to his advantage. Leiu finished the game with 26 disposals, nine marks and nine rebound 50s in a performance which could have solidified his spot in Vic Metro’s backline in the upcoming Under 19 National Championships.

#49 Sahaf Ali

Another exciting debutant for the Eastern Ranges, Ali showed plenty of eye catching traits up forward with his leap and marking ability on show multiple times. The East Ringwood prospect had impressed in his senior EFL debut and has taken that form into the NAB League, where he looks to be a mainstay for the rest of the year. The athletic forward wouldn’t kick a goal until the last quarter, which came from a free kick, but he was certainly one of the more dangerous marking options and he even got a run in the midfield later in the game, showing some versatility. Ali finished the game with 11 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and kicked 1.1.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 8.16 (64) def. TASMANIA DEVILS 8.10 (58)

By: Eli Duxson

Giants Academy:

#1 Harrison Grintell

Grintell was crafty, hovering around the half-forward flank all game while also showing a strong intent to hit the contest hard and do his bit defensively. It was his attacking play that stood out on the day though, as he notched seven inside 50’s with impressive sprinting efforts with and without the ball. His ability in space matched his silkiness in tight as his agility allowed him to get out of packs and deliver to a teammate on several occasions. This play led to a goal after a pair of disposals on centre wing saw him deliver to hit a teammate inside forward 50. His field kicking was sound, but he could not quite convert the way he would have liked, kicking 1.2. Grintell also finished with 18 disposals.

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Probably GWS’ best on the day, showing a willingness to hit legs and cover ground to make his way to stoppages and contests all over the ground, but staying mostly between the arcs as a link player. His work rate to contests was on par with his aggression once he got there, often trying to get first hands on it at stoppages with his bustling style. He did also play a role for his side being the sweeper many times to which he received some balls to slingshot forward or move laterally. Hamblin put in some big efforts in the tense final quarter which was eventually rewarded with an off-the-ball free kick, which saw him slot through a set shot from 30 metres out to give the Giants a two-goal buffer. He managed 29 disposals, seven marks, and five inside 50s.

#24 Sam Frost

The GWS captain led all comers with 30 disposals and a whopping 10 rebound 50s. That probably typifies his game as well as possible, as the defender looked solid in one-on-ones, while also looking to attack once the ball hit the deck managing six inside 50s. He played a bit like Brandon Starcevich showing good confidence aerially to mark, while also being a steady user by foot. There were several blunders on his behalf however, including a lazy kick, two free kicks, and a 50-metre penalty which could have resulted in Tasmania goals but luckily did not. Beyond those though, he led valiantly for the Giants.

#31 Josh Green

It seemed no position was impossible for Green as he tried his hand everywhere bar the defence on Sunday. Starting as a lead up forward, he kicked GWS’ first goal of the game with a tidy finish across his body, looking dangerous for in one-on-one situations. His mobility once the ball hit the ground posed more problems for Tasmania as he could bust through packs due to his size. He moved into the middle in the second half and made good decisions with his hands in tight, while also showing a willingness to work back and help defensively at stoppages. Green rucked in the forwardline when he was there, but also rotated as the main ruck at times, especially in the final quarter as he became another midfielder after the ruck contest. He finished with 20 disposals and four marks to go with his goal.

Tasmania Devils:

#12 Jye Menzie

Tasmania’s best on the day playing predominantly half-forward, he managed three goals from 15 disposals, with his goals all coming in the first half. His first two were bursts into space to snap through well, with his third being a set shot after the half-time siren to put Tasmania back in front. He scrapped and hustled in contests and showed a cleanliness in tight not many others on the ground possessed. His defensive abilities were adequate for his role, but his forward movement showed he has a good sense for the forward craft.

#22 Baker Smith

The key defender was generally very good with his positioning and body in aerial contests, being rarely beaten. Repeat entries challenged him, like it would most defenders, but his ability to read the flight of the ball was impressive knowing when to spoil and when to mark. Even more impressive was his temperament. He did not look flustered within his defensive role despite the +22 inside 50s for the Giants, but he also did not give any free kicks away which can be easy to do playing on key forwards.

CALDER CANNONS 10.12 (72) def. WESTERN JETS 8.9 (57)

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

Shifting between the wing and forwardline, Clohesy warmed to the contest and showcased some of his best traits as it wore on. While Calder often opted to play a controlled kick-mark style, Clohesy looked to break the play open with his penetrative disposal by foot, seeing him gain good meterage along the line. His strong overhead marking also came to the fore, with Clohesy clunking some nice grabs in important areas to either intercept, or help keep Calder in possession. Overall a solid outing, with the top-ager ending on 23 disposals and 12 marks.

#5 Zac Taylor

Arguably the best player afield, Taylor was a consistent ball winner for Calder and a productive member of the midfield-forward rotation. A crafty type on the ball, he always took his time in possession and looked to create with his kicks. While some of those kicks were delivered a touch short in the early stages, Taylor continued to back his skills and went on to hit leading targets inside 50. He finished with a game-high 32 disposals and nine inside 50s, while also contributing defensively with a couple of notable chase-down tackles.

#25 Josh Goater

The big body in Calder’s midfield, Goater played the distributor role perfectly at stoppages with his clean hands and strength in tight spots. He often got first hands to the ball and proved difficult to tackle, allowing for fluent ball movement to the outer where runners awaited. Goater is a terrific athlete and showed as much aerially with a spekky during the second term, but could perhaps better showcase his explosiveness at stoppages by pumping his legs instead of always dishing to the first option. Finishing with 28 touches, Goater was typically efficient with his ball use.

#30 Sam Paea

That standout key forward afield, Paea produced arguably his best outing to date. The high-marking Cannon proved near-unstoppable when allowed a full run at the ball, rising to clunk some outstanding overhead marks with his combination of reach and vertical leap. His athleticism also allowed for handy separation on the lead, as Paea worked hard up the ground to provide a link into attack for Calder. He seems a real confidence player, so is still a touch inconsistent with his goalkicking but still managed to convert four set shot goals with fluency. Eight marks and four majors from 13 disposals makes for good reading.

#41 Liam Podhajski

Making his NAB League return after gaining senior experience in the VFL, Podhajski took some of the learnings he inevitably made back into the elite junior competition. The developing ruckman showcased his vertical ability with sizeable leaps at each centre bounce, before following up nicely at ground level. He did not have as profound an impact around the ground in terms of marking, but still had his moments and dropped behind the ball nicely when Western was attacking. His directional work was also handy in the ruck, including some deft taps over his shoulder.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

White ended as Western’s leading ball winner on the day with 23 disposals, which included seven inside 50s and three rebound 50s. He was a positive member of the midfield mix, constantly looking to generate some forward spark with his run and foot skills coming away from the contest. The top-ager backed his speed in those instances but was also quite no-fuss around the ball with quick and clean touches at the contest. He missed a chance to hit the scoreboard via a set shot during term three, but had a solid day overall.

#32 Paul Curtis

Curtis was again Western’s most productive forward, leaning on his smarts and goal sense to snare three goals from five scoring shots. Mostly stationed deep inside 50, he presented well for a player of his size to mark on the lead, while also holding his own in one-on-one situations. He snared two majors via those methods with set shots, with his third an opportunistic volley from the goalsquare. Curtis also tackled well, laying five overall, including a strong effort in the pocket to earn another shot on goal.

#33 Billy Cootee

Western’s skipper lead from the front on Sunday, working hard in midfield and showing positive attacking intent with ball in hand. He would often mark uncontested and look to wheel around quickly to release long by foot, allowing Western’s forwards to get to work on swift inside 50 entries. He also impacted at the contest, with his clearance work at the centre bounces helping the Jets stay in touch during the third term. His urgency remained heading into the closing stages with more of that typical meterage, and Cootee also made his mark with a well-hit snap goal late in the opening quarter.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 6.10 (46) def. by DANDENONG STINGRAYS 22.11 (143)

By: Peter Williams

Bendigo Pioneers:

#15 Jack Stewart

One of the more lively Pioneers on the day, Stewart showed off some neat evasion skills and clean hands in close. More often than not, the midfielder was able to identify the target he needed to hit, and threaded the needle through traffic. His kicking at times was rushed when in play, often trying to open up angles and go long, but when resting forward, Stewart kicked a couple of goals, one from a good mark on the lead and set shot in the second term, and another running into an open goal in the final few minutes of the match.

#29 Cooper Smith

Provided great run out of defence and down the ground, often acting as the interceptor in the back half of the ground. He was often under pressure and forced to rush his kicks, but he kept accumulating the ball and just looking to take grass at every opportunity. One of the Pioneers more prominent ball-winners, he was under siege more often than not, but kept working hard throughout the game.

#56 Harley Reid

A real eye-catcher on the day, Reid was strong in the contest and able to stand up in tackles to get free by brute force, At one stage late in the first term he produced a low bullet to a teammate going inside 50 after leading out to take a great grab. He did not win a heap of the ball, but seemed to look dangerous every time he went near it, clunking a good mark in the final term and converting the set shot.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

Possessing high level footy smarts, incredibly clean hands and a great goal sense, Kyle feasted on the Stingrays’ dominance going forward to slot 3.1 from limited touches roaming deep inside 50. He was a worry for the opposition, and still provided that defensive pressure required of him, providing a contest in the air or at ground level. His first goal came with a great run and mark heading with the flight towards goal. He missed his second set shot from straight in front in the second term, then snuck out the back of a contest, to use one mitt to win the ball at speed and kick with the outside of the boot for a goal. More impressively, his second term run-down tackle forced a turnover and goal for the Stingrays. He nailed his third goal in the third term from a mark and set shot.

#3 Miller Bergman

Bergman covered the ground well and was involved from early on, putting pressure on the opposition.He pushed to the outside and an early touch 12 minutes into the game lead to a Stingrays’ goal. He slotted a nice goal on the run himself in the second term from a one-two in one of the plays of the day. Bergman provided some good run throughout the game, worked hard and generally made the right decisions with ball-in-hand, setting up a goal to Judson Clarke in the final term. Bergman then capped off his day with a tidy snap from the pocket as casual as you like to slot home his second.

#14 Will Bravo

Played the role you would come to expect of the talent who was close to earning a spot on an AFL list. He looked too strong for his opponents and showed off his athletic traits in close, often winning the ball and getting and going forward, accumulating the ball at will. Bravo was clean at ground level and able to move through the stoppages well, finding the space to exit. He gave away a number of free kicks going hard at the contest, but his spread and work rate was really impressive, and you can never doubt his intent at the coal face where he really did his best work.

#17 Bryce Milford

Started his day in defence to smack a wayward set shot into the behind post, but funnily enough found himself slotting four majors up the other end. The left footer found plenty of space on the outside, though he was fumbly at ground level, needing to take the ball a little cleaner at times. When in possession and playing his game, Milford was dangerous, missing a chance early in the third term, then went to work slotting four goals in the final 39 minutes of the match. His first was from a mark and lead nine minutes into the third quarter, then he took a good contested grab at half-forward, played on and slotted it from 50m, before kicking back-to-back goals in the fourth, the first from an uncontested mark and the second from getting behind his opponent to get boot to ball on the run.

#23 Jai Neal

A strong presence in the air, Neal’s marking was noticeable throughout the game, positioning himself well in the back 50 from the opening few minutes and taking back-to-back intercept marks in the hole. Neal had a really big first term with plenty of involvements both in the back 50 and pushing up the ground to impact the contest. As the game went well and truly on the Stingrays’ terms, Neal had less work to do, but still positioning himself well.

#40 Colby Nayna

Had a really eye-catching game up forward pushing further afield at times to slot three goals from 13 touches and always look dangerous. His first involvement was an incredibly high leap to grab midway through the first term, with his set shot sailing through the middle. He slotted his second just five minutes later from another mark on the lead, showing his burst to create separation from opponents. He is quick off the first few steps and then set up a goal to Sam Frangalas with a well-weighted kick. His used the ball well by hand or foot and kicked his third in the third quarter on the run cleverly reading the drop of the ball off hands inside 50.

#42 James Cahill

Cahill worked hard around the ground to provide plenty of drive going forward. Not only did he pump the ball inside 50 time and time again, but applied defensive pressure – through tackling or implied pressure – to opponents. Midway through the first term, he got free inside 50, gathered the ball well under pressure and snapped around his body for his first goal. He then played a part in the next forward thrust with a mark, then a rushed handball that proved effective and lead to a goal off the next disposal. He had a chance for goal early in the second term running in but drifted to the left. at times Cahill was a little fumbly under pressure, but he still had an overall solid game, kicking his second goal from a mark and set shot in the third term.

#48 Declan Cole

The leading ball winner on the ground, Cole just accumulated the pill with ease in the big win. He cracked in hard alongside Bravo and Henry Berenger and won a lot of his touches in close be it himself or as the first handball receiver spreading from the contest. Late in the first term he had a set shot but missed to the right in his only score for the day, but his best work was done up the field. He was strong overhead and looked to open up the play when possible and get it to dangerous areas. He made a mistake in the second term missing a crucial handball in defensive 50 which lead to a shot on goal, but generally attacked the ball carrier well and worked hard up and down the ground.

GIPPSLAND POWER 6.9 (45) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.13 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Moschetti offered real class on the ball with his movement coming away from traffic, as he sped into space before looking to deliver by foot. The draft eligible midfielder did well to shift to the outside and managed to get Gippsland going with a couple of running bounce passages, even if the end product was not always effective. He added a stylish centre bounce break to his game in the final quarter, and finished with 20 disposals.

#9 Will Papley

Rotating forward from the midfield, Papley proved a slippery customer with ball in hand. He was hard on the inside with his speed and tackling pressure, but also presented nicely for a small forward when stationed inside 50. He often led to the ball at half-forward, before wheeling around and pumping a long kick to the hot spot. The top-ager finished strongly with more time in midfield, getting busy at the contest and continuing to provide important defensive acts. Papley was lively overall, finishing with 21 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

D’Angelo was quite crafty and clean with his work on the inside, winning the contested ball and getting it out to receivers on the outer by hand. In more open play, the Gippsland leader looked quite polished in possession with his short kicking, able to find the ball in dangerous areas and deliver forward by foot. He contributed to a couple of scores with that kind of work; the first was an intercept mark from a kick-in which he handed off, and the second was a clever knock on which allowed Chance Doultree to waltz inside 50 and convert a major score.

Geelong Falcons:

#12 Noah Gribble

Gribble continues to be one of the more consistent accumulators in the NAB League, racking up another game-high tally of 32 disposals on the back of sheer work rate and smarts. Having transitioned to the inside, he was able to contribute neat touches around the contest with clean and quick hands, having no trouble finding the ball. As the play broke either way, the top-ager worked hard to impact in either arc and provide an outlet coming out of defence. He seemed a lot more assured in possession, not rushing his disposals as much and not trying to do too much with each touch.

#32 Noah Gadsby

One of the more handy inclusions to this Geelong side of late, Gadsby was able to showcase some of his high-level athletic traits on Sunday. The top-ager was stationed forward for most of the day but worked hard up the ground and was also given a late run in the midfield, attending centre bounces during term four. His athleticism was mostly observed in overhead marking contests, where Gadsby rose well to contest with courage. He also leant on his running capacity to work over his opponent en route to collecting 28 disposals, while also becoming a threat inside 50 with four scoring shots. Only one of them was a goal, converted craftily from a quick snap in the pocket.

#56 Oscar Morrison

The intercept marking defender continues to make strong strides in 2021, putting in a strong shift across the backline and cutting off a number of Gippsland attacks. Morrison was superb aerially, reading the play and flight of the ball beautifully to rise third-up and cleanly take some quality grabs in the back half. He was hardly beaten in the air, but also distributed the ball with good poise and skill to keep the Falcons out of trouble, proving a no-fuss kind of operator.

#60 Toby Conway

Conway returned another strong showing in the ruck, proving too big and strong with his 204cm frame. He showed good confidence to grab out of the ruck and dispose of the ball, while also continuing to show handy ruck craft with his directional taps. He protected his space well and was quite strong on the ball, looking a touch more comfortable in possession than in other weeks. Conway also positioned nicely down the line and behind the ball, with his impact around the ground an area of growth.

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

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

FINAL SCORES:

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

GOALS:

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

DC BEST:

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

SCOUTING NOTES

South Australia:

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Australia:

By: Ed Pascoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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