Tag: nga

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 4 – Debutants raise eyebrows

WITH the NAB League in the midst of a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun filtering into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also got some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football levels. Note, some prospects missed VFL action this week due to the Under 23 Young Guns showcase.

>> SCOUT NOTES: 2021 Victorian Under 23 Young Guns

Geelong kicked off the round in style on Thursday night, with a 45-point win over the Northern Bullants at Marvel Stadium. The Cats unveiled Greater Western Victoria (GWV) midfielder Marcus Herbert on the night, and he fared well in his official debut with 14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal. The smooth mover also turned out for the Cats against the AFL Academy last month. In the same game, developing ruck-forward Liam Podhajski showed plenty for the Bullants, booting his first state league goal to go with eight touches and 12 hitouts against stiff opposition.

Podhajski, and Collingwood ruck Ned Moyle were due to play in Saturday’s Young Guns showcase before earning VFL selection, with both firming as viable mid-season draft options on June 2. Moyle suited up for his second game in black and white, almost doubling the output from his debut outing. The Oakleigh Chargers product notched 17 disposals, four marks and 19 hitouts, while NAB League teammate and Next Generation Academy prospect Youseph Dib slotted another two goals for the Magpies. Dib’s disposal tally of 12 was also a new personal best across his three VFL performances thus far.

With little to cheer about in the top flight, plenty of North Melbourne fans would have been eager to see how father-son talent Jackson Archer, the son of club great Glenn, fared in his VFL debut. The 18-year-old managed eight touches (seven kicks) and six marks from defence as the Roos went down heavily to Southport, with Archer among four North debutants out of the NAB League. Most of them got among the goals too, with Tasmanian Jye Menzie and Bendigo’s Nathan Kay snaring majors along with second-gamer Oliver Sanders, who also had 16 disposals and four marks. Cooper Smith, another Pioneers product was a standout with 20 touches and nine marks, but could not quite find the big sticks as he registered two behinds.

Elsewhere, the state league debut of top five prospect Tyler Sonsie raised plenty of eyebrows. His class came to the fore despite Box Hill’s loss to Werribee, as the youngster finished with 24 disposals and a couple of very nice goals. Sonsie’s second was the highlight of his game, coming on the run from 50 metres out during the third term as Box Hill mounted a charge. Potential Bulldogs father-son Ewan Macpherson was also a late call-up for Footscray, managing 11 touches and five tackles in his maiden outing – a win against Carlton.

Around the nation, there were a few more debuts and standout performances. Top 10 prospect Matthew Roberts broke through for his first League outing in South Adelaide colours, joining top pick contender Jason Horne in the Panthers side which beat Woodville-West Torrens. Roberts warmed to the occasion nicely with 14 disposals and a goal, while Horne’s consistent start to the 2021 season continued with 17 touches, five clearances and a goal.

Port Adelaide father-son talent Jase Burgoyne was called up for a SANFL League showdown on Saturday, building steadily for 14 touches as the Magpies won out by 14 points. Elsewhere at League level, Tasmanian key forward Jackson Callow returned his best outing for Norwood, booting three goals from eight marks (seven contested) in the Redlegs’ win over Central District. Nasiah Wanganeen and Blayne O’Loughlin also turned out for their respective sides at Reserves level, continuing their promising runs of form.

Over in Western Australia, Matthew Johnson managed six disposals and three marks as Subiaco beat Claremont in his second League appearance. Star key forward Jacob Van Rooyen continues to be rested by Claremont having been diagnosed with glandular fever.

Image Credit: Mike Owen/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 6

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s rolled on into Round 6, with the latest weekend of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

STURT 5.7 (37) def. by GLENELG 16.20 (116)

By: Tom Wyman

STURT:

#10 Jake Aish

The Sturt midfielders were soundly beaten by the high-flying Tigers, but Aish was clearly Sturt’s best through the engine room. The number one clearance player on the ground, Aish spent the game cracking in hard at ground level, where he won his fair share of contested ball. When the heavens opened and the game turned into a stoppage-fest, Aish adapted well, with his strong inside game suited to the slippery conditions. His clearance ability was particularly important when the game became one of yardage. Although he lacked some polish when in space on the outside, Aish can hold his head high despite the lop-sided result, finishing with 24 disposals, six tackles, eleven clearances, nine inside 50s and five rebound 50s.

#17 Mitch Felton

With the ball seemingly living in the Glenelg forward half of the ground for much of the clash, Felton was never far from the action in defence. Charged with the kick-in duties in the first half, Felton was one of few Double Blues who regularly looked to take the game on, attacking each contest at speed and looking to utilise his clean, long foot skills out of defence. He took a couple of important intercept marks by positioning himself well down back. In the second half, Felton appeared to take on a more close-checking role, spending some time on Glenelg spearhead Corey Brougham. Clearly among Sturt’s best, Felton accumulated a team-high 29 touches (including 26 kicks), five marks, five tackles and 13 rebounds.

#25 Kade Harvey

Playing a similar role to the aforementioned Felton, Sturt’s Harvey was also in-and-around the action from start to finish. Harvey’s aerial ability was a real feature of his game, with the defender’s intercept marking particularly impressive. Although some poor kicking let him down at various stages, Harvey was often under the pump, especially when the rain set in. Sharing the kick-ins with Felton, Harvey generated some meaningful drive from the half-back line and finished with a game-high 14 rebounds from defence.

Others: 

Midfielder George Pope fought hard in the loss, winning nine clearances for the Double Blues along with 15 disposals. Edward Davies and Blake Fidge both applied plenty of pressure, laying seven and six tackles respectively. In attack, Chad Baulderstone and Nathan Houston were Sturt’s only multiple goalkickers, while Dylan Thredgold was strong in the ruck, winning 25 hitouts.

GLENELG:

#5 Hugh Stagg

Stagg produced another impressive performance in the yellow and black. With his explosiveness and ability to break tackles up there with the best in the state, the talented forward/midfielder wasted no time getting involved. Possessing one-touch cleanliness at ground level and the ability to brush off opponents with relative ease, Stagg appeared unstoppable at times. His kicking was inconsistent, with some hitting their desired target and others being chopped off or falling short, however Stagg produced another very strong showing. He concluded the contest with 24 disposals, two marks, nine inside 50s and a goal.

#12 Brodie Edwards

Edwards, the youngest son of Adelaide Crows legend Tyson, was typically classy for the Bays. The bottom-ager lined up in defence but was soon moved into the midfield. In both positions, he displayed calmness under pressure and made the most of his possessions. One of a long list of Tigers with the capacity to play a variety of roles across the field, Edwards finished the game with 19 touches, three marks, six tackles and three inside 50s in a solid showing.

#20 Lewis Rayson

The ever-consistent Rayson once again had a significant say over proceedings at Unley Oval. Spending time through the midfield and down back, Rayson was able to break lines with his dash and cut through the Sturt defence with his precise foot skills. Although his football smarts, skills and speed will stand out to recruiters, Rayson certainly cracks in hard when unleashed in the middle and showed he is a capable contested ball winner. When allowed to drift back a kick behind the play, Rayson took intercept after intercept, positioning himself to perfection and using it well for the most part. Certainly one of the most exciting South Australian draft prospects, Rayson continued his sensational start to the year by gathering 35 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and five clearances in the 79-point triumph.

#31 William Watts

Strongly-built utility, Watts put on a clinic for Glenelg, dominating proceedings in the midfield and up forward. Watts used his strength to damaging effect through the guts, where his contested ball winning and cleanliness by hand proved the catalyst for several Bays forward movements. Given the Tigers’ excellent depth through the midfield, Watts was often rotated through the forwardline and proved hard to contain. His vice-like hands on the lead ensured Watts became a genuine focal point in attack. Watts’ bigger frame was ideally suited to the slippery conditions of the clash, with his contested ball winning capacity and stoppage nous proving important. In a best-on-ground showing, Watts finished with 36 disposals, 10 marks, three tackles, eight clearances and a goal.

Others: 

Glenelg’s outstanding depth was on full display at Unley Oval, with 14 players accumulating 15 or more disposals. Darcy Gluyas was important in the middle and up forward, looking particularly threatening in attack as the rain fell. His classy snap goal was a highlight, however he probably should have finished with a couple more to his name. He finished with 30 disposals, four marks, three tackles and five inside-50s. Darcy Porter was excellent up forward, booting two goals (and three behinds) to go with 29 touches and four clearances. Hunter Window was busy and his effectiveness by hand stood out. He finished with 30 disposals, four marks, six tackles, six clearances and 12 inside 50s. Harrison Kaesler won 23 touches of his own, while forward Corey Brougham made the most of his limited opportunities, nailing three goals from six disposals.

NORTH ADELAIDE 8.12 (60) drew w/ WWT EAGLES 8.12 (60)

By: Tom Wyman

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Isaac Keeler

After an impressive showing in the ruck last weekend against the Tigers, Keeler was moved back into the forwardline for the Roosters’ encounter with Woodville-West Torrens. Although he still did much of the ruckwork in the forward half of the ground, the talented bottom-ager struggled to get his hands on the football early on, with North bigman Adam Heath being the primary target in attack. He showed glimpses of elite athleticism and cleanliness below his knees, however it was a largely frustrating day for the South Augusta product. But, as all good players do, Keeler stood up when it mattered most, flying high for a mark-of-the-year contender with a couple of minutes left on the clock before calmly slotting the subsequent set shot to level the scores. Recruiters will certainly have enjoyed his clutch grab when the game was on the line. Keeler finished the game with 14 disposals, four marks, six hitouts and a goal.

#12 Hugh Jackson

It was quite simply the Hugh Jackson show on Saturday afternoon at Prospect Oval, with the balanced midfielder having it on a string. He spent much of the first term stationed down back, where he was able to set up the play with his deadly left foot. His skillset is well suited to a role as a ‘kicker’ down back, however, with the Roosters needing a lift around the ball, Jackson was soon thrown into the middle and dictated terms from then on. As has been on display all throughout the season, Jackson’s quick-give handballing was elite, as was his vision, ability to win the ball at ground level, and burst of acceleration. Jackson always seems to free his hands, even while being tackled, allowing him to pass it off despite the mounting pressure. His extraction work and stoppage smarts were excellent, but when allowed time and space, Jackson really made the Eagles pay, hitting targets by foot with ease over a variety of distances. Even when he was rested up forward, Jackson still couldn’t get away from the action, getting on the end of a spearing inside-50 ball from Isaac Keeler. His couple of misses in front of goal were just about the only blemish in what was a complete performance from the ball magnet, who finished with 41 disposals, nine marks and eight clearances.

#15 Harvey Harrison

After struggling slightly against the Tigers, Harrison was back to his prolific best in the Roosters’ draw with the Eagles. Once again, his eye-catching run-and-carry really opened up the ground and provided a point-of-difference through the middle. His foot skills on the run were excellent and, albeit for a rare miscued bounce, Harrison rarely wasted a possession. His ability to win the footy at the coalface and apply pressure around the ball is well complimented by his speed and composure. Harrison concluded the game with 24 disposals, five marks, six tackles and three clearances.

Others:

Defender Shaun Bennier stood tall for the Roosters, putting a stop to several inside 50s. Tough and courageous in the air, Bennier was strong overhead, hauling in four contested marks, but also provided plenty of rebound. Crafty midfielder Zyton Santillo had some excellent moments, with the speedster providing some energy through the middle. Using the ball well, he finished with 22 touches, five marks, four tackles and four clearances.

Providing serviceable support for Jackson and Harrison through the midfield, Kelsey Rypstra won 23 possessions and booted a goal while James White gathered 18 disposals and sent the ball inside 50 four times. Up forward, Adam Heath booted the first goal of the match and also snagged an important major late in the contest, finishing with three maximums. His presence up forward proved important for the red and whites. Ruckman Oliver Moors competed well against Eagle big-man Zac Phillipswinning 18 hitouts to go with eight touches and four marks.

EAGLES:

#4 Jack Murphy

Murphy was one of the Eagles’ best performers at Prospect Oval. A natural ball-winner with a clean kicking action, Murphy used the ball well on the outside and also showed an ability to win his own ball in-and-under. He finished the game with an impressive 30 disposals, three marks and three inside 50s.

#5 Brayden Calvett

Calvett provided the Eagles with some run-and-carry from defence. Pushing into the midfield as the game wore on, Calvett used the ball well by foot and booted a nice goal late in the final term, but will likely rue his three behinds. The hard-working Calvett finished with 26 disposals, two marks, two tackles and four inside 50s.

#24 Zac Phillips

Ruckman, Phillips was the dominant bigman on the park for much of the contest. He regularly provided the Eagles on-ballers with first-use (Eagles won the hit-outs 30-20), but it was his work away from the stoppages which impressed. Phillips clunked several big pack marks, despite flying from three-deep at times. Showing handy athleticism and mobility for a player of his size, Phillips looked to play on wherever possible and generally used the ball well.

Others:

With Port Adelaide father/son prospect Jase Burgoyne playing League football for the Magpies, William Neumann and Dustin Launer stood up for Woodville-West Torrens. Neumann, the Eagles leading possession winner, showed excellent work rate up around the ground. He finished with 31 disposals and 11 marks, while Launer gathered 29 possessions, four marks, six clearances and four rebounds. Up forward, Will Pearce booted three majors and also gathered 19 disposals. At the other end of the ground, Jonte Hunter-Price was solid in defence, taking a couple of important overhead grabs.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 8.5 (53) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 8.6 (54)

By: Tom Cheesman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#10 Isaac Birt

Birt was one of South Adelaide’s best players on Saturday with 27 disposals, six inside 50s, four clearances, four marks and a goal. His second half was particularly outstanding, as he provided some important run-and-carry down the wing and used his pace to break the game open. Despite the slippery conditions, Birt always picked up the ball cleanly and found targets by hand and foot with ease. He also used the corridor well and followed up his possessions to ensure that the ball kept moving forward. Midway through the final term, Birt kicked a brilliant goal from 40 metres out off a couple of steps to give his side the lead. Unfortunately for Panthers fans, their side could not hold on and went down by one point.

#33 Arlo Draper

Draper continued his impressive start to 2021 with another good performance for South. He was very active at clearances, as he worked hard to win the contested ball and applied some strong pressure on the opposition. Draper had 24 kicks and just three handballs, showing that he played to the slippery conditions well. Gaining ground (especially from clearances) is an important part of wet weather footy, so Draper got the ball on the boot as often as possible to move it into his side’s forward half. With that said, Draper also showed more composure with ball in hand than most other players on the field. Most players were just bombing the ball down the line, whereas Draper took that extra second to look inside and find a target in the corridor on several occasions. Draper finished with 27 touches, nine clearances, five tackles, three inside 50s and an important goal that levelled the scores going into the final break.

#37 Kyle Marshall

Marshall was impressive for the Panthers on Saturday, providing a strong marking target for them when they exited their defensive 50. He continually led up hard at the footy, made a contest and (at least) brought the ball to ground for his teammates. He tried to be too cute with his possessions at times in the slippery conditions, but his decision making with ball in hand improved as the game wore on. Marshall finished with 12 disposals, four hitouts, three tackles, two marks, two clearances and two inside 50s for the day.

#39 Will Verrall

Verrall was South’s best performer on Saturday. He toiled away in the ruck all day, winning the majority of the hitouts and giving his midfielders first use at the stoppages. Verrall has good chemistry with Draper and Luke Mitton, and these three combined for 24 clearances between them. This was a major reason why their side won the clearance battle 41 to 29. Verrall used his huge frame to position himself well in ruck contests, and he often provided a good marking target for his teammates kicking down the line. A strong intercept mark in the last quarter when scores were tied was another individual highlight. He finished with 21 disposals, 37 hitouts, six marks (two contested), five tackles and five clearances.

Others:

Nathan Hicks (15 disposals, six tackles, one goal) was good for the Panthers up forward, as he applied consistent frontal pressure and used the ball well going inside 50. Luke Mitton (23 disposals, 10 clearances, six tackles) was crafty at the stoppages, while Dylan Brown (20 disposals, seven inside 50s, six tackles) initiated some important passages of play in the forward half.

WEST ADELAIDE:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Pridham did some good things in the defensive half for the Bloods. He was a ball magnet, earning 35 disposals to go with seven rebound 50s, five tackles and four marks for the day. His ball use was great most of the time, he never fumbled and he linked up well with teammates when bringing the ball out of defence. Pridham’s ability to choose the right option was important too, as he helped his side control possession with some short passes in defence whenever the Panthers appeared to be gaining the momentum. He also attacked the ball hard throughout the match, particularly loose balls that he sprinted to in defensive 50. One negative was that he gave away some unnecessary free kicks in the defensive half, which he can work on going forward.

#7 Ben Burbridge

Burbridge was West’s most prominent midfielder in this clash. He was tough at the contest, always in and under, found plenty of the ball around the ground and used it well whenever he got it. His quick hands to release his teammates into open space were outstanding, and this is undoubtedly a feature of his game. Burbridge took some important marks too, both when receiving from teammates and when intercepting the opposition’s kicks. His pressure was relentless, highlighted when he applied a great tackle on Draper in second term to cause a turnover. He finished with 25 disposals, six tackles, five marks and four inside 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Kennedy is a bull for the Bloods and he thrived in the slippery conditions on Saturday. He works harder around the ground than most at Under 18s level, and as much was evident in this match through the amount of contests he was able to get to despite spending much of his time in a half-forward role. Kennedy does the little things well, such as blocks and smothers to help his teammates out around the ball. Although he missed a shot on goal that he should have nailed in the opening term, he made up for it in second quarter with a crisp snap to put his side 20 points up. Kennedy finished with 16 disposals, seven tackles and five inside 50s.

#13 Hugh Desira

Desira was fantastic for the Bloods in the first half of this match. He kicked West’s first goal of the game early, using the wet conditions well to skid the ball through with a nice kick around his body. After that, Desira frequently used his electric pace and ability to kick on both feet to break the game open and get the ball moving forward with speed. The wingman always competes in the air despite lacking in size, and he has quick hands that he uses to release teammates into space on the outside of contests. Although he drifted out of the game a bit in the second half, Desira still finished with 17 disposals (15 kicks), five marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s and a goal.

#53 David Midwinter

Key defender, Midwinter was a brick wall in defence, frequently using his size and strength to spoil his opponents and repel South’s persistent attacks going forward. He has clean hands, is agile for his size and uses the ball quite well by foot. With five minutes remaining and scores level, Midwinter won a huge one-on-one contest deep inside West’s defensive 50 by out-bodying his opponent, taking the ball cleanly off the ground and finding a teammate with a quick handball. Many defenders would panic in this situation, but Midwinter stayed composed under the high ball, did not give away a free kick and was able to release the pressure by winning the contest and without conceding a behind. This was one of many instances where Midwinter’s composure was important for the Bloods.

Others:

Jesse Thackeray (20 disposals, six marks, five clearances) worked hard in the midfield, Kade Harkins (16 disposals, six rebound 50s) was reliable down back and Jaeden Watts (two goals, five tackles) was dynamic up forward. Dylan McCormick (nine disposals, three marks) applied some outstanding pressure throughout the day and finished with a whopping 16 tackles.

NORWOOD 7.2 (44) def. by CENTRAL DISTRICT 11.16 (82)

By: Tom Cheesman

NORWOOD:

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

While it has been a tough few weeks for Norwood in the Under 18s, Dnistriansky has maintained consistency and been a shining light in defence. His defensive work is reliable, his composure under pressure is outstanding and his kicks rarely miss a target. Some of his kicking in this contest was exceptional, including one bullet pass from full back (in the wet) that found Corey Jones-Bobridge inside the centre square in the third term. As usual, he facilitated many switches of play and created plenty of run and link up out of defence. Dnistriansky had a nice moment in the second quarter when, after biding his time, he ran past a teammate that was lining up for a set shot, received the handball and booted an important goal from outside 50. As poor as the defending was from the Bulldogs in this instance, it was great awareness from Dnistriansky to see the opening and take full advantage with his booming right foot kick. Although Dnistriansky made a couple of uncharacteristic errors by hand, overall it was another strong performance from the defender.

Others:

Given Centrals won the inside 50 count 58 to 25, it was a very tough day to be a Redlegs defender. Despite this, Oliver Stenchlik (21 disposals, four rebound 50s, two tackles), Riley Verrall (21 disposals, seven rebound 50s, five tackles) and Taj Rahui (12 disposals, six tackles, two clearances, one goal) fought hard and did well to help keep the margin to under 40 points. Connor Kent (29 disposals, nine tackles, seven marks) worked hard as well.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

Rotating between midfield and forward, Dudley was one of the Bulldogs’ best contributors. The Adelaide Crows NGA prospect was brilliant whenever he went near the ball, providing a major spark and using his skills to open up the play for his side. He is so clean below his knees, very creative and a fantastic decision maker. His high football IQ was on display in several instances, including a moment in the first quarter when he twist and turned around multiple Redlegs players before executing a beautiful long handball inside to find Finn Reed. Dudley used his pace to his advantage in this match by applying constant pressure all over the ground and using his low centre of gravity to gather the ball without fumbling. Although he is probably going to be a small forward in the long-term as he moves up the grades, he was more prolific in the midfield throughout this contest. His tackling pressure in the centre square was relentless, as demonstrated when he caught two Norwood players holding the ball at seperate contests within a one-minute period in the second term. Dudley kicked a well-deserved goal in the closing minutes from a set shot after crumbing a marking contest at pace and earning a free kick for a high tackle. He finished with 27 disposals, nine tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s to go with his goal.

#15 Finn Reed

Read was another fantastic midfielder for the Bulldogs in their first Under 18 victory of the season. He showed good pace, tackled strongly and provided plenty of link up play through the middle of the ground. A powerful intercept mark he took in defensive 50 at the 12-minute mark of the opening term helped set the tone for his side. Although he missed a couple of shots at goal, he launched the ball inside 50 on eight occasions and had multiple other score involvements. He finished with 24 touches, eight tackles, eight inside 50s, five marks and two clearances.

#34 Darcy McDonald

McDonald was a standout for Centrals. Playing predominantly as an inside midfielder, he collected 20 disposals to go with a tremendous 12 tackles, four inside 50s and three clearances. As his statline suggests, his tackling pressure and willingness to hunt down opposition players was outstanding, but this was not the only feature of his game. McDonald is a good size, silky mover and won plenty of contested ball. He had arguably the moment of the match in the third term when, in the wet, he scooped the ball up one-handed, sold some candy to get past an oncoming tackler and then delivered the ball inside 50. There were many times in this match where McDonald won his own ball and used his agility to escape a stoppage with ease before releasing a teammate on the outside. The challenge for McDonald now is to produce this level of play on a consistent basis.

Others:

Saxon Evans (37 hitouts, 12 disposals, one goal) and Brodie Tuck (13 hitouts, 15 disposals, two goals) dominated in the ruck and gave their inside midfielders first use. Tomas Hahn (22 disposals, 11 tackles, eight clearances) was another prominent Bulldog midfielder and kicked a glorious goal on the outside of his boot in the third term.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

Scouting Notes: 2021 Victorian Under 23 Young Guns

THE Victorian Under 23 Young Guns showcase returned on Saturday, with the Country and Metro squads locking horns at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee. Metro ran out convincing 61-point victors, as players staked their claims for mid-season draft selection. The teams, which featured 48 NAB League products and no player over the age of 20, were essentially hand-picked by recruiters and provide an insight into just who may be on the draft radar. We take you through the top performers in our Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of the individual.

>> SCROLL for final scores and goalkickers

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Michael Alvaro

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

One who looks to have gained a great deal of confidence through recent VFL exposure with Essendon, Conforti had the ball on a string during the early stages. Part of a relatively small Country midfield, the Bendigo Pioneers product was as busy as anyone around the ball and went about accumulating plenty of disposals during the first half. He proved difficult to catch as a slippery kind of mover who was constantly in motion, using his work rate to zip up and down the ground and get involved in chains of possession. Conforti nearly troubled the scorers with a flying shot from long range during term three, and having that kind of impact with his many uses of the ball will be another step in his development. He was also co-captain on the day, and has held multiple leadership roles though the pathways.

#2 Charlie Ham (Geelong Falcons)
11/11/2002 | 180cm | 74kg

Ham was part of Country’s under-siege defensive unit during the first half, but arguably did his best work when rotating into midfield after the main break. He looked to generate a bit of run on the rebound from half-back, but was met with heavy pressure which only cramped his style. When thrown into the centre bounces, Ham was able to compete at ground level and mopped up well with his clean hands. On one occasion, he dropped a mark in the back half but remained composed enough to sweep up quickly before dishing off to a runner. He made up for the previous missed mark in term four when the ball was wet, juggling an overhead attempt nicely.

#3 Kobi George (Dandenong Stingrays)
19/04/2002 | 182cm | 74kg

Having been overlooked as a Melbourne Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect last year, George has been able to showcase glimpses of his best traits in 2021. They all came to the fore in this outing, as the Dandenong Stingrays speedster provided great spark with his run-and-gun style. Even in precarious positions, George constantly looked to take the game and his opponents on with exciting dash from the back half, gaining good meterage before delivering by foot. Some of his disposals came off a touch wobbly at full tilt, though the 19-year-old was able to correct as the conditions got tougher. He is not always a huge accumulator of possessions, but had enough on this occasion to make a real impact and catch the eye. Unfortunately, George was helped off the ground in the final term, appearing quite proppy.

#5 Patrick Parnell (Murray Bushrangers)
4/03/2002 | 178cm | 60kg

There may not be much of the diminutive Murray Bushrangers defender, but it hardly mattered as Parnell went about his business with typical assuredness from defence. His turn of speed and willingness to move the ball on quickly from defensive 50 was an early feature, capped by terrific decision making. With most things happening at speed, Parnell was able to execute his skills with aplomb, including one particularly memorable inboard kick across his body to hit a target at half-back during term one. The 19-year-old is a very neat kind of player who is reliable in tough situations and seems to understand the game well. He impressed with his spurts of possession, but has plenty of size to put on.

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

The worsened conditions after half time suited a player of Bravo’s style more than most, as he worked to compete for ground level possession and drive the ball forward in strong bursts. As one of Country’s starting midfielders, Bravo was up against it given Metro’s size and strength in the engine room, though he was not afraid to get stuck in at the coalface and got first hands to the ball a few times. He also showed a bit when afforded more space, using his pace to generate momentum moving forward and chaining possessions in those thrusts. The 19-year-old also applied solid defensive pressure and got his hands dirty in a tackling sense, but can look to add polish with his disposal.

#11 Will Papley (Gippsland Power)
26/11/2002 | 178cm | 78kg

Constantly compared to his elder brother, Tom given their uncanny resemblance in style and mannerisms, Papley remains an exciting player in his own right. Starting in his familiar forward post, the 178cm prospect presented nicely on the lead and showed handy forward craft when looking to work his opponents under the ball. He had three set shots on goal during the first half but could not quite make up the 40-plus metre distance from relatively tough angles. On two occasions, those attempts led to scoring shots nonetheless. The 18-year-old would later transfer his defensive pressure to the midfield as he was shifted after half time, but arguably looked most at home inside forward 50. With good smarts and the competitiveness his pedigree would suggest, Papley can certainly make things happen.

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

The Country co-captain accumulated possessions in a manner which we have now come to expect, working hard both ways from his usual wing position. On a deck which he would be familiar with having trained with Werribee’s VFL side, Gribble read the flow of play nicely and got on his bike to get to position wherever the ball was about to be. He was also a viable option off the centre bounces, able to receive just outside the contest and attempt to continue the chain for his side. The Geelong Falcons top-ager also found the goals in term two thanks to a very generous Caleb Ernst handball, finishing easily from about 25 metres out. Gribble would continue to rack up possessions and while he could be more damaging in his disposal or neater under pressure, he showed nice composure in one instance to weave and hit a short kick at half-back in the final quarter.

#22 Caleb Ernst (Bendigo Pioneers)
12/10/2002 | 194cm | 91kg

Ernst consistently looked like the most dangerous key position player for Country, presenting beautifully up forward and finishing as his side’s sole multiple goalkicker. He took advantage of the dry ball early on with a couple of terrific overhead marks; one coming from the back of a two-on-two contest on the wing, and the other a strong pack grab in the goalsquare, which resulted his first goal. Ernst would continue to present nicely and gained good separation with his combination of strength and athleticism. His finishing was the only issue at times, and a hand-off to Noah Gribble in the second term may have highlighted his wavering confidence in that area. Nonetheless, the Bendigo Pioneers tall went on to showcase his versatility by pinch-hitting in the ruck and even attending centre bounces during term four, in which he added his second major from close to the big sticks.

#23 Mutaz El Nour (Northern Bullants VFL)
14/08/2001 | 192cm | 83kg

Somewhat a surprise packet on the day, El Nour was ultra impressive in Country’s backline. The Western Bulldogs NGA graduate proved as consistent and reliable as anyone afield in his role, constantly getting into good positions to intercept before using the ball with wonderful composure on the rebound. His short kicking game was sound, as was his decision making by hand when working out of tight spots. The VFL-listed talent also made smart runs to receive and relieve others of pressure, working the percentages well as his side became increasingly besieged. El Nour was also able to use his height to compete aerially when needed, mostly bring the ball to ground or spoiling, but also taking a couple of nice intercept marks. Overall, he could well have been the player who looked most comfortable at the level, putting his name on the radar from seemingly nowhere.

Others:

Richmond VFL-listed prospect Sam Durham had his moments for Country, building nicely into the game from the wing. Dandenong Stingrays tall Bryce Milford started in defence but was later swung up forward, competing well at both ends. Murray’s Daniel Turner also played a key role down back with some super work and decision making under immense pressure. Jai Neal was another to show signs up forward, as did Aaron Gundry rotating there from the ruck. The likes of Jack Hickman and Charlie Byrne got their opportunities through midfield, as did Isaac Wareham having started in defence, but the going was tough for all.

VIC METRO:

By: Declan Reeve

#6 Corey Preston (Eastern Ranges)
18/12/2002 | 181cm | 77kg

Usually stationed as a small forward, Preston got to show his capabilities as a winger for essentially the entire contest. He took his time to work into the game as he was on the opposite side of the play or just couldn’t get a clean possession. When he started getting into it, it felt like he was impacting every time he was near it; causing turn overs with his pressure work, pushing down into defence to win it and get it forward, or handballing to central teammates. He did all he could to get the Metro side moving dangerously. 

#7 Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons)
15/08/2002 | 182cm | 82kg

One of the few who was consistent across the four quarters having run through midfield all game, Hipwell looked comfortable throughout even with the constant physicality – looking to have gained confidence from his games at VFL level with Sandringham Zebras. He was regularly the first possession winner around stoppages, where he’d so often look to handball out the back to a player in space, copping contact when required and standing strong in the tackles. He was a real lead by example sort, often looking for targets in the corridor and weighting his disposals well by foot.

#9 Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights)
13/08/2002 | 186cm | 86kg

Spent the first half working into the game, spending time in the forwardline where his hard work at ground level and aggression on opponents got him opportunities to set up goals, where he’d put the ball in the right spot for a teammate to run onto. It was the second half when he was given more midfield time that he came to life and showed his skill at ground level. Even with oncoming pressure, he’d hold his composure and win the contested ball, following up with a handball to a teammate and then running hard to get it back or apply a shepherd to allow them to run through without pressure. 

#10 Charlie McKay (Sandringham Dragons)
9/08/2002 | 186cm | 83kg

The Carlton father-son prospect spent the first half of the game as a defender, where he positioned well in marking contests to take quite a few intercept marks, either waiting for the ball out the back of a contest or even taking contested grabs further up the ground. The second half saw him move to the midfield for an extended period, where he looked extremely comfortable in and under the contest, and his prowess as a clearance winner came to the fore.

#15 Sam Clohesy (Calder Cannons)
12/12/2002 | 189cm | 72kg

Got more and more of the ball as the game went on, seemingly building in confidence with each successful disposal. Played well when he was in the high half-forward sort of role, providing an option as a link up player in transition where his long and penetrating kick would open up the Metro forward 50 and result in a shot on goal. Showed some good pace at times as well, mixed with a little bit of agility to get around opponents and then release the ball.

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

Far from the best day to be showing off your skillset as a defender for Metro, Cleary still managed to pop up and have his nice moments throughout the game. Positioned well behind the play in a similar fashion to the other Metro defenders, Cleary was not afraid to push up the ground when the ball was inside his teams’s forward 50 to jump on any long rebounding kick. This positioning got him a few intercept marks, one in particular impressed in the third quarter, where he ran back with the flight of the ball and took it on the chest in front of a pack in the goal square. He took some riskier kicks in the defensive 50, most of which paid off, where he’d look to move it out quickly straight through the corridor.

#19 Marc Massarotti (Eastern Ranges)
29/09/2002 | 191cm | 91kg

Despite being an undersized target up forward, Massarotti managed to impact all around the ground as he worked hard to win the ball or provide an option in the forward half. Had a really good moment early in the first quarter where he ran onto the ball that had been kicked over his head, cleanly picked it up, took a bounce and slotted Metro’s second goal, all while out-running three opponents. He also showed that despite his height he has some classic small forward traits, able to rove and crumb balls well in the second half in particular, to end the day with two goals.

#20 Cody Raak (Western Jets)
8/10/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

Coming into the game as one a well known name, the Western Bulldogs NGA prospect looked to be one of the more confident and comfortable players throughout the game. Started in his usual role in the defensive half as a safe pair of hands to chop off incoming Country bombs, where more often than not he’d look to switch the play or hit a central option after marking in an effort to get Metro moving in transition quickly. When Metro started to comfortably get on top in the second quarter, Raak pushed up to ground to do the same sorts of things, giving the Country defence no rest. Not content with a solid defensive display, Raak moved forward in the second half, where the aforementioned marking skill came out again, paired with some really good leading patterns that resulted in him finishing with two goals for the day

#21 Dominic Akuei (Northern Knights)
12/05/2002 | 192cm | 78kg

The Carlton NGA prospect was impressive in his first game not being a number one ruck. With Smith in the side, Akuei was given the freedom to ply his trade down in defence, where his elite leap and marking ability led to two particularly memorable moments. Both times, he got up on the shoulders of opponents to take the ball above his head. Perhaps seen as risky given he was in defensive 50 for both of these, it was an eye-catching display of confidence and skill. He moved the footy well by foot, delivering darting kicks to inside 45 options every time the opportunity presented itself. He then played mostly on a wing in the second half, where he looked comfortable with his positioning and ability to hold space, again utilising that marking a few times to hand Metro possession and move quickly. 

#22 Samuel Paea (Calder Cannons)
14/07/2002 | 194cm | 94kg

Whilst not prolific in a ball winning sense, the tall forward impressed with his leap, burst of speed and leading patterns throughout the game. As Metro’s main target up forward, he constantly provided as an option and worked hard up the ground in an effort to work over his opponents. There was one particular mark inside 50 in the second quarter, where he wasn’t expecting his teammate to pass it off, but he reacted to the kick splendidly, hitting top speed after only a few steps and then leaping to take the ball at the highest point he could. Ended the day with two goals despite the second half providing poor conditions for a tall marking player.

#25 Riley Smith (Eastern Ranges)
31/07/2000 | 200cm | 104kg

The captain of the Metro side, and convincingly one of the better players of the game, Smith added his hat into the ring as another ruck option for the upcoming mid-season draft. In the absence of Ned Moyle (Collingwood VFL), Liam Podjashki (Preston Bullants VFL), Jacob Edwards and Max Heath (not selected), Smith took the opportunity as the main ruck to prove that he is one of the most physically ready rucks in Victoria outside of the AFL. He used his strength to get front position in the ruck contest, pushing his opponent aside as he tapped the ball well for his midfielders. Also showed some neat skills in the game, with one particular kick, where he moved it from the wing to the middle of the forward 50 mark, evading an opponent in the process, proving this well. 

Others:

Small forwards Eren Soylemez and Harrison White were good at ground level all game, showing some nice bits of speed and agility on their way to two goals each. Lachlan Riley was particularly prolific early on in the midfield, before moving into the backline and looking solid the few times it came down to him. Logan Young wasn’t necessarily a major ball winner, but was clean with his hands and foot skills when called upon and looked comfortable playing in defence.

FINAL SCORES:

COUNTRY 2.0 | 3.3 | 3.3 | 5.6 (36)
METRO 4.1 | 10.4 | 13.9 | 14.13 (97)

GOALS:

Country: C. Ernst 2, X. Mitchell, N. Gribble, I. Wareham
Metro: E. Soylemez 2, M. Massarotti 2, H. White 2, S. Paea 2, C. Raak 2, J. Arundell, L. Riley, R. Smith, D. Hipwell

DC BEST:

Country: D. Hipwell, R. Smith, S. Clohesy, C. McKay, C. Preston
Metro: C. Ernst, M. El Nour, K. George, W. Papley, N. Gribble

Full squads: 2021 Victorian Young Guns showcase

THE ANNUAL Victorian Young Guns showcase is back in 2021, with Metro and Country squads set to battle it out as prospects look to stake their claims for mid-season draft (June 2) selection. Bouncing down at 2:30pm tomorrow at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee, the fixture will see a selection of Victoria’s brightest Under 23 talent fielded all at once.

Though the parameters have been set at the 23-year-old limit, no player selected is older than 20, with 48 of the nominated prospects coming from the NAB League – including the entire Metro team – and just four out of the Victorian Football League (VFL). With players essentially hand-picked by AFL recruiters, the match promises to provide a useful insight into who is on the draft radar at this point.

>> SCROLL to see the full squads

SQUAD SNAPSHOTS:

Metro

Among the Metro standouts are a couple of talls who come in fresh off some VFL exposure. Oakleigh Chargers bigman Ned Moyle is one of them, and he looms as a favourable mid-season draft option having also turned out for the AFL Academy recently. The other is Calder Cannons ruck-forward Liam Podhajski, a fast-developing type who has proven his upside this year. The pair respectively played for Collingwood and Northern Bullants at state league level.

Some promising Next Generation Academy (NGA) graduates are also in the mix, with Cody Raak (Western Bulldogs) among them. The marking defender has been a level above the NAB League and recently earned a VFL berth with the Bulldogs. The raw athleticism of Carlton-tied prospect Dominic Akuei should also catch the eye, he can rotate up either end of the field while pinch-hitting in the ruck with a huge leap.

Bulldogs and Blues fans should also be on the lookout for a pair of father-sons in NAB League top-agers Ewan Macpherson and Charlie McKay. Both were overlooked last year but have returned in fine form, boasting good size as inside midfielders who win plenty of ball at the coalface, but can also rotate back to defence. Macpherson was also seen kicking a bag of five goals for local side, Diamond Creek a fortnight ago.

Elsewhere, skilled small forward Corey Preston remains on the radar after fighting for a preseason supplementary selection spot at the Western Bulldogs. The likes of Darby Hipwell (midfielder, Sandringham), Dylan Thomas (forward, Collingwood), Sam Paea (key forward, Essendon) have all gained VFL experience this year, while Logan Young is a West Australian native who crossed to play with Sandringham Dragons this year. He is a tall midfielder who has also rotated forward.

Country

Country will field the only four non-NAB League listed players on Saturday, including one of just two selected 20-year-olds in Aaron Gundry. The 201cm Bendigo Pioneers product is a developing ruck who currently plies his trade for Carlton’s reserves. Isaac Wareham (Geelong VFL) and Sam Durham (Richmond VFL) are familiar names with plenty of their own upside, while 2019 Bulldogs NGA graduate Mutaz El Nour (Northern Bullants) rounds out the state league selection.

Dandenong Stingrays speedster Kobi George is Country’s sole current NGA prospect, tied to Melbourne, but the likes of Will Bravo and Charlie Byrne have experienced the rigours of AFL-level training having fought for preseason supplementary selection spots at Hawthorn and Essendon respectively, before rolling back into the NAB League system come season proper.

Among those with VFL exposure this year are nippy Bendigo Pioneers smalls Sam Conforti and Jack Hickman. Both have turned out twice for Essendon’s reserves side and showed plenty – particularly in last week’s outing against Carlton. Expect them to rotate forward through midfield, or station on the outer. Geelong VFL-listed pair Charlie Ham and Marcus Herbert will also play, having turned out against the AFL Academy last month.

Ham, the brother of Essendon’s Brayden will be joined by another brother-of in the squad. Will Papley, who has similar forward craft to his elder sibling Tom, also earned a berth in the side and will likely start inside attacking 50 with the potential to roll into midfield. Elsewhere, watch for the work-rate of wingman Noah Gribble, who has impressed in the NAB League after tearing his ACL last year.

FULL SQUADS:

Metro

1. Jake Arundell, 18, 169cm, 65kg, Eastern Ranges
2. Harrison White, 19, 175cm, 70kg, Western Jets
3. Eren Soylemez, 19, 179cm, 82kg, Sandringham Dragons
4. Ewan Macpherson, 19, 179cm, 82kg, Northern Knights
5. Tom Blamires, 18, 180cm, 76kg, Sandringham Dragons
6. Corey Preston, 18, 181cm, 77kg, Eastern Ranges
7. Darby Hipwell, 18, 182cm, 82kg, Sandringham Dragons
8. Harrison Keeling, 19, 183cm, 68kg, Eastern Ranges
9. Joel Trudgeon, 18, 185cm, 90kg, Northern Knights
10. Charlie McKay, 18, 186cm, 83kg, Sandringham Dragons
11. Lachlan Riley, 19, 186cm, 85kg, Sandringham Dragons
12. Dylan Thomas, 18, 187cm, 77kg, Oakleigh Chargers
13. Liam Conway, 19, 188cm, 87kg, Western Jets
14. Ben De Bolfo, 18, 188cm, 79kg, Northern Knights
15. Sam Clohesy, 18, 189cm, 72kg, Calder Cannons
16. Fraser Elliot, 18, 189cm, 88kg, Oakleigh Chargers
17. Luke Cleary, 19, 189cm, 80kg, Sandringham Dragons
18. Logan Young, 19, 190cm, 84kg, Sandringham Dragons
19. Marc Massarotti, 18, 191cm, 91kg, Eastern Ranges
20. Cody Raak, 18, 192cm, 80kg, Western Jets
21. Dominic Akuei, 18, 192cm, 76kg, Northern Knights
22. Samuel Paea, 18, 194cm, 94kg, Calder Cannons
23. Flynn Maguire, 19, 195cm, 82kg, Oakleigh Chargers
24. Riley Smith, 20, 200cm, 104kg, Eastern Ranges
25. Felix Flockart, 19, 202cm, 80kg, Sandringham Dragons
26. Liam Podhajski, 18, 202cm, 99kg, Calder Cannons
27. Ned Moyle, 19, 205cm, 87kg, Oakleigh Chargers

Country

1. Sam Conforti, 19, 173cm, 74kg, Bendigo Pioneers
2. Charlie Ham, 18, 180cm, 74kg, Geelong Falcons
3. Kobi George, 19, 182cm, 74kg, Dandenong Stingrays
4. Jack Hickman, 19, 177cm, 71kg, Bendigo Pioneers
5. Patrick Parnell, 19, 178cm, 60kg, Murray Bushrangers
6. Clayton Gay, 19, 183cm, 77kg, Dandenong Stingrays
7. Will Bravo, 19, 181cm, 77kg, Dandenong Stingrays
8. Marcus Herbert, 18, 181cm, 81kg, GWV Rebels
9. Flynn Young, 19, 181cm, 69kg, Geelong Falcons
10. Isaac Wareham, 19, 183cm, 81kg, Geelong VFL
11. Will Papley, 18, 178cm, 78kg, Gippsland Power
12. Noah Gribble, 18, 180cm, 79kg, Geelong Falcons
14. Charlie Byrne, 18, 184cm, 79kg, Murray Bushrangers
15. Sam Durham, 19, 190cm, 82kg, Richmond VFL
16. Cobi Maxted, 18, 188cm, 88kg, Bendigo Pioneers
17. Bryce Milford, 18, 195cm, 82kg, Dandenong Stingrays
18. Xavier Mitchell, 18, 191cm, 78kg, Bendigo Pioneers
19. Daniel Turner, 19, 191cm, 79kg, Murray Bushrangers
20. Ryan O’Keefe, 19, 192cm, 69kg, Bendigo Pioneers
22. Caleb Ernst, 18, 194cm, 91kg, Bendigo Pioneers
23. Mutaz El Nour, 19, 192cm, 83kg, Northern Bullants VFL
24. Cameron McLeod, 18, 192cm, 78kg, Murray Bushrangers
25. Jai Neal, 18, 192cm, 88kg, Dandenong Stingrays
27. Mason Hawkins, 19, 198cm, 82kg, Gippsland Power
28. Aaron Gundry, 20, 201cm, 91kg, Carlton VFL

The game is set to be streamed live via the official AFL app and website. Stay tuned to Draft Central for scouting notes on the outstanding players from both sides.

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 3 – Debutants continue to roll through

WITH the NAB League in the midst of a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun filtering into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also got some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football levels.

>> INSIGHT | Which 19-year-olds have improved their stocks?

Debuts have been synonymous with Collingwood of late, and the Magpies continued the theme by fielding another fresh face through the state league system. Mid-season draft fancy Ned Moyle came into the side and looked comfortable in his usual ruck post, winning 11 hitouts and taking four marks among his eight disposals. The 19-year-old Oakleigh product was joined by Chargers teammate Youseph Dib in the Magpies’ three-point win over Gold Coast. Dib, a Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect, booted two goals as he played mostly forward of centre once again.

Leaning on their Academy stocks, the Suns also continue to blood a good amount of youngsters. Leading draft prospect Austin Harris returned after his AFL Academy commitments, notching eight disposals and four marks as he rotated further afield from the forwardline. Bigman Will Bella, the brother of Suns AFLW ruck Lauren, clunked seven marks and booted a goal, while Bodhi Uwland also took seven marks among his 12 touches. 2002-born players including Bailey Reeves, Jack Johnston, and Thomas Hofert also ran out for the Suns in their narrow loss.

The Western Bulldogs were too strong for a gallant Preston Bullants outfit on Saturday afternoon, as both sides gave berths to promising NAB League products. Cody Raak suited up for his second game in red, white, and blue, with the defender bringing his marking game to the fore. He took seven grabs and delivered nine of his 10 disposals by foot. Developing Calder Cannons tall Liam Podhajski was another to make his VFL debut in Round 3, battling against AFL-listed opposition for Preston to finish with four disposals and 10 hitouts.

A relatively young Brisbane outfit went down to Coburg on Sunday afternoon, with a raft of Academy graduates and members filling the squad at present. 18-year-old small Daniel Lanthois booted a goal in his maiden VFL appearance, as the youngest player afield. A bunch of 2002-born players also ran out for the Lions; Will Tasker had 19 disposals and five marks, Saxon Crozier and Toby Triffett both claimed 16 touches, while Tahj Abberley had it 14 times (11 kicks), Charlie Bowes kicked a couple of behinds, and Jack Briskey took three marks from 11 disposals in the defeat.

Essendon is another club which has turned to youth to good effect and despite going down to Carlton on Sunday, yielded good results from their NAB League talents. In their second outings, nippy Bendigo Pioneers pair Sam Conforti (23 disposals, one goal) and Jack Hickman (17 disposals, four marks) both impressed, working hard for their keep. Pios’ skipper Jack Evans made his debut in the sash and ended with five marks from 10 touches, while fellow debutant Billy Cootee (Western Jets) also found it 10 times and booted a goal.

Elsewhere, Sandringham Dragons co-captain Darby Hipwell enjoyed a second outing for the Zebras, despite their loss to Box Hill. He worked hard for 18 disposals and eight marks, which included a couple of nice moments. Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy standout Josh Green, the brother of Tom, again turned out for the Giants, ticking up to 17 disposals in his side’s win over Southport.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 5 – East Perth vs. Swan Districts

AFTER an unforeseen week away due to West Australian lockdown, the WAFL Colts returned on the weekend for Round 5. The latest featured game saw East Perth take on Swan Districts at Leederville Oval on Saturday morning, with the Royals running away 34-point victors to remain top of the table.

A fast start saw the hosts look like beating their opponents black and blue, booting four goals to nil in the opening term. But Swans wrestled back some momentum and territory during the second and third quarters, answering each Royal run to remain just within striking distance at both of those breaks.

But a powerhouse final period saw East Perth pick up its third victory of the 2021 season, bookending the game nicely with a further five goals to put some meat onto the bones of its winning margin. Boasting a terrific conversion rate, the Royals won out 13.5 (83) to Swans’ 7.7 (49), with both sides now losing players to the Public Schools Association (PSA) competition.

SCOUTING NOTES

East Perth:

#4 Ethan Regan

The West Coast Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect showcased some exciting traits in the forward half, starting brightly and capping off his game with a couple of nice moments. Regan got amongst it early through sheer work rate, impacting ground level contests and applying good defensive pressure. He cut across to take a nice intercept mark inside forward 50 in term one, which saw him kick his sole goal of the game. Regan’s speed and skill would later come to the fore as he combined well with Jye Amiss, streaming forward and hitting targets by foot. Late in the piece, he popped up with a pair of eye-catching overhead marks on the move, reaching the ball at its highest point.

#7 Jye Amiss

Another who started brightly for the Royals, Amiss snared three of his four goals by 4:30 into the second quarter. Stationed almost exclusively inside attacking 50, the promising key forward had two goals on the board in a flash through terrific forward craft, quick reactions and innate goal sense. He is said to have improved his ground level work this year, and it showed in those moments. An in-the-back free kick during term two gifted Amiss his third major, while number four came in the final quarter after a mark on the lead. Goalkicking exploits aside, Amiss also had a nice moment in the third term as he desperately ran down an opponent, holding the ball.

#9 Kade Dittmar

While he was a force for most of the game, Dittmar really came to prominence during a powerhouse final quarter. His explosive ability from the centre bounces was evident, as well as his power running through the middle of the ground. Dittmar would be seen getting first hands on the ball, breaking away to bomb inside 50, and following up his kicks all in the same chain. His ability to stand up under opposition heat, fend off, and dish out was also noticeable in the earlier stages, before Swan Districts’ midfield got on top in term two. Still, Dittmar was able to impact through the middle and was very clean with his shorter-range disposal by foot – especially for such a bullocking inside type. Considering his primary role, he seems quite well balanced.

#26 Kaden Harbour

Harbour is a handy small forward who also rotates through midfield, providing a good amount of spark wherever he goes. He arguably looked most comfortable inside attacking 50 during this outing, where he was able to snap up a couple of goals and take eye-catching aerial marks. After an indifferent opening half, Harbour began to better impact as the contest wore on, helping East Perth break clear at the start of the third quarter with two goals in quick succession. The first came from a big contested mark close to goal, where Harbour rose from the back, while the second was a quick snap just as deep as he arrived first to the spillage. Known for his high flying, he’s difficult to miss in full flight.

Others:

Jake Littleton was in plenty early on for East Perth, operating on a wing and catching the eye under his helmet. Through midfield, James Tunstill found plenty of the ball, as Jayden Peak provided a bit of spark moving forward. The raw talent of Sokaa Soka, another West Coast NGA talent, became more prominent as the game wore on, while Luke Lombardi did some nice things exiting out of defence.

Swan Districts:

#2 Max Chipper

A permanent fixture in Swan Districts’ midfield, Chipper ended as his side’s most prolific ball winner and did so with plenty of quick-minded plays. Reasonably clean at ground level, the diminutive mover is not the most quick or agile out of congestion, but makes up for it with good vision and decision making on the ball. He tended to air his kicks a touch but generally hit targets and backed himself to do so heading into potentially risky areas. After a slow start, he worked into the game well during the second term and nearly nabbed a goal on the run from long range. After a solid outing in the black and white, Chipper appeared to limp off late in the final quarter after miscuing a kick.

#23 Luke Taylor

Potentially the most impressive player afield, Taylor proved his pedigree with a three-goal haul full of promise. The brother of GWS defender Sam, Taylor is a raw key forward with equally good potential in the air. While it was not always rewarded, Taylor’s work up the ground and ability to provide a contest allowed the Swans a chance to chain up play forward of centre. He brought the ball to ground on multiple occasions and had a few almost-marks, which he should begin to hold as he grows. Taylor kicked his first goal in the second quarter, using his reach to pluck a high ball in the goalsquare before duly converting. His clever leading patterns saw him gain separation and become an inside 50 target during the third term, which led to goal number two. Capping off his day, Taylor was gifted a third major via a 50-metre penalty, proving a handy reward for effort.

Others:

19-year-old Ty Sears had some nice moments running off half-back and the wing, without always possessing the finished product he would desire. Ben Hewett and Noah Hannan were both productive in midfield, while West Coast NGA talent Lawson Humphries stood up in defence. Up the other end of the ground, Bryce Watson popped up for a couple of handy goals, as Darcy Jones showed good promise and zip at ground level and Tyrell Metcalf got busy.

AROUND THE GROUNDS:

Headlining the news around Western Australia’s latest draft crop this week was the League debut of Matthew Johnson. Fresh off a solid showing for the AFL Academy, the tall Subiaco midfielder notched 11 disposals and five tackles as the Lions went down to South Fremantle. Elsewhere, star key forward Jacob Van Rooyen is being rested by Claremont after his glandular fever diagnosis, as reported by the West Australian’s Jordan McArdle. The start of the PSA season has also seen a raft of players become unavailable for WAFL Colts selection.

Back in the Colts competition, East Fremantle found a way to edge Perth in their clash on Saturday morning. Key forward Jack Williams again played a starring role with four goals, as Josh Browne (35 disposals) had the ball on a string in midfield and Melbourne father-son prospect Taj Woewodin (27 disposals) continued his good form. Jack Avery was a Goliath-like in Perth’s defence with 41 touches and 13 marks, as Zak Meloncelli proved his class having dropped back down to Colts level from the Reserves grade.

West Perth notched its first win of the season with a 23-point triumph over Claremont, with gun midfielder Lochlan Paton again finding plenty of the ball. He racked up 27 disposals and nine marks after managing 28 touches last round, while Zac Fleiner (26 disposals), Jordan Berry (10 marks), and Zarne Robis (four goals) all contributed in different ways for the victors. Talon Delacey delivered 20 of his 27 disposals by foot for Claremont, as Kendyll Blurton showed plenty more promise for 24 touches and six inside 50s.

South Fremantle became the third team to land on three wins as the Bulldogs beat Subiaco by eight points, with Liam Brandis and Jacob Plunkett combining for seven goals. Caleb Stephens (29 disposals, nine marks) was also fantastic in the win, as Fremantle NGA talent Ashwin Malik more than held his own in defence. Fellow NGA prospect Jesse Motlop kicked a goal from his 10 touches. Meanwhile, Jacob Evitt (18 disposals, two goals) and Blake Morris (13 disposals, seven marks) were solid for Subiaco.

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 5

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s rolled on into Round 5, with the latest weekend of action producing some excellent performances from plenty of 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

GLENELG 15.10 (100) def. NORTH ADELAIDE 8.14 (62)

By: Tom Wyman

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

Tunkin provided good intensity, speed and pressure up forward as he has all season. Pushing up into the midfield at times, the diminutive Tunkin won a number of clearances through excellent stoppage nous, positioning himself well to get on the end of the taps. He booted two goals, including a terrific rove and snap, but could have had a couple more if not for two half-chance misses. A consistent performer throughout the contest, Tunkin finished with 23 disposals, two goals, four marks and four clearances.

#5 Hugh Stagg

Powerful utility, Stagg was terrific for the Bays in their 38-point victory. Starting at the centre bounce, Stagg split his time between the midfield and the forwardline and made a real impact whenever he was around the ball. A strongly-built teenager, Stagg used his physical advantage to damaging effect, brushing off a number of would-be tacklers in-tight throughout the game. Importantly, Stagg made sure his tackles stuck and also showed his strength overhead to take a strong contested mark early in the match. His snap goal in the third term put the icing on a really strong game from the midfielder/forward, who finished with 22 disposals, six tackles, three clearances and seven inside 50s.

#20 Lewis Rayson

Rayson was everywhere for the Tigers in what was a clear best on ground performance. The speedster started the game in the middle, where scouts will have been impressed by his contested ball winning and fight at ground level. Rayson moved to the backlines at various stages throughout the contest, to damaging effect. His ability to read the play and position himself to take intercept marks put a stop to several Roosters forward thrusts. Although he did turn the ball over a couple of times by foot, Rayson was predominantly clean and effective, particularly when going inside 50. A very dangerous player when allowed to float a kick behind the play, Rayson concluded another strong outing with 31 disposals, 11 marks, four inside 50s and five rebound 50s.

#21 Cooper Beecken

Medium-defender, Beecken played a crucial role down back for Glenelg, particularly when the Roosters were threatening early on. He was strong one-on-one, composed with ball in hand and found himself in the right place at the right time on several occasions to mop up in the defensive 50. Especially busy early in the contest, Beecken finished with 25 disposals and five rebound 50s.

Others:

Forward Corey Brougham was Glenelg’s most damaging player forward of centre. Brougham bagged a game-high four majors, with his contested marking ability proving a real handful for his Roosters opponents. He finished the game with nine disposals and six marks (four of which were contested). Darcy Gluyas was heavily involved for the Tigers. Patrolling the wing, he looked poised and composed with ball in hand and used it to great effect. His snap goal late in the piece was a highlight of his game. Gluyas finished with 23 disposals and six marks. Crows father-son prospect Brodie Edwards (22 disposals, four marks and three clearances) and ruckman Oscar Adams (six disposals, 16 hit-outs and a goal) were also among the Tigers’ best performers.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Isaac Keeler

The athletic bottom-ager was terrific for the Roosters. After spending time as a permanent forward earlier in the season, Keeler had a greater impact on the game when given the lead ruck role. A classy mover, Keeler fought hard against Glenelg ruck duo Oscar Adams and Sam Thomson, but it was his follow-up work and efforts at ground level which elevated his performance. Keeler was involved in several handball chains, with his natural football smarts and cleanliness holding him in good stead. He was also very clean by foot, with an inside 50 kick to teammate Adam Heath a prime example of his skillset. Certainly one of the Roosters’ best players on the day, Keeler finished with 21 disposals, six marks (two contested), 15 hit-outs and two clearances.

#12 Hugh Jackson

Prolific midfielder, Jackson spent some more time on the defensive side of the ball this week, with star teammate Blayne O’Loughlin elevated to the Reserves. Always assured with ball in hand, the classy left-footer may not have been as dominant on the inside as previous weeks, but his skills helped set up several Roosters attacks. His work rate between the arcs was high, and his distribution by hand was clean. North’s Mr. Consistent finished the game with 26 touches, seven marks, five inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#29 Zyton Santillo

Zippy on-baller, Santillo was typically productive for the red and whites. He looked the most threatening Rooster around the contest, winning a game-high nine clearances – four more than any other player on the ground. Santillo was clever with ball in hand, using his quick turn of pace to weave around opponents with ease. He booted an important goal at the 10-minute mark of the third term which triggered a run of four-straight Roosters goals, and finished the game with 24 disposals, three tackles and five inside 50s.

Others: 

Midfielder James Willis found plenty of the ball, gathering 26 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and seven inside 50s. However, his kicking did let him down at times, particularly in front of goal where he booted four behinds. His fellow on-baller Harvey Harrison won 18 disposals, three tackles and two clearances. Although he didn’t accumulate his regular numbers, Harrison’s run-and-carry through the middle of the ground was still evident. Key forward Adam Heath provided a strong target, taking a couple of nice contested grabs to go with 22 disposals and a couple of majors.

WEST ADELAIDE 13.9 (87) def. CENTRAL DISTRICT 13.8 (86)

By: Tom Wyman

WEST ADELAIDE:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Small defender, Pridham was once again productive in West Adelaide’s narrow victory under Saturday night lights. Tasked with setting up the play from the half-back line, Pridham had the ball on a string from the get-go. He has a knack of getting into the right spots in defence, and his teammates clearly recognise his talent with ball in hand, looking to give it to him whenever possible. What he lacks in size, Pridham makes up for in polish and smarts, whilst also applying plenty of pressure on the ball carrier. One of the SANFL Under 18 competition’s most consistent performers across the opening five rounds of action, Pridham finished the game with 29 disposals, eight marks, five tackles and nine rebound 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

With gun bottom-aged midfielders Kobe Ryan and Tyson Coe missing the clash due to college football commitments, Kennedy stood up through the middle for the Bloods. The skipper did struggle by foot at times, with a couple of his kicks resulting in turnovers, however he was typically combative in-tight, winning plenty of contested ball at the coalface. Kennedy pushed forward at stages to good effect, with his hands overhead a feature. He worked hard between the arcs, sending the ball inside 50 on eight occasions, and finished with a game-high 30 disposals, six marks (two contested), five tackles and three clearances.

Others:

The smooth-moving Dylan McCormick showed off his speed, run and booming long kick. He kicked the Bloods’ first goal of the game and finished the contest with 17 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three rebounds. In the ruck, Tom Scully and Oscar Steene battled hard against competition hit-out leader Saxon Evans. Scully, whose mobility and cleanliness were again impressive, finished with 12 disposals, 15 hit-outs and two clearances, while Steene managed 15 disposals, five marks (four contested), four tackles, 19 hit-outs and five inside-50s in a strong aerial display. Luke Young stood up in attack, booting three majors and taking a couple of strong grabs, while Hugh Desira (21 disposals, three marks, two tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds) produced his best performance of the season, with his speed, foot skills and relentless work rate impressive.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect provided genuine spark whenever he was around the ball for Central District. In a side which came within a point of claiming its first win of the season, Dudley did just about all he could to get his side over the line. As he has done throughout the opening month of action, Dudley divided his time between the small forward role and midfield, and it was in the middle where he looked most damaging, able to use his terrific blend of fancy footwork, power and contested ball winning to best effect. Dudley’s skills appeared a class above those of his teammates for parts of the night, with his kicking boasting accuracy and penetration. But whilst his fancy side-steps, elite agility and eye-catching skills will fill the highlight reels, Dudley’s relentless pressure and tackling intensity will also have recruiters excited. Against the Bloods he tackled with real intent, never backing down despite being smaller than the majority of his opponents. In another encouraging display, Dudley gathered 23 disposals, nine tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s.

#37 Cody Gilchrist

Gilchrist provided the Bulldogs with a genuine target in attack. He often appeared simply too big for the West Adelaide defenders, positioning himself well to take grab after grab up forward. Gilchrist’s ability to not only use his size to advantage, but read the flight of the ball proved too difficult to contain. He finished the game with five goals, the most of anyone for the round, to compliment his 19 disposals and eight marks (four of which were contested).

Others:

Half-backman Ruben Carreno was excellent for the Bulldogs, winning a team-high 25 disposals and nine rebounds. Bigman Saxon Evans has clearly been the best performed ruckman in the competition’s early stages, however the Bloods talls were able to curb his influence on the game at Hisense Stadium. However, the Willaston product was still able to play a role, finishing with 11 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and 13 hit-outs. When he wasn’t stationed up forward, fellow tall Brodie Tuck provided Evans with a chop-out in the ruck, winning nine hit-outs of his own. He didn’t hit the scoreboard, but managed five disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.

WWT EAGLES 14.13 (97) def. STURT 8.12 (60)

By: Tom Cheesman

EAGLES:

#9 Jase Burgoyne

Port Adelaide fans should get excited (if they aren’t already), as father-son prospect Burgoyne returned to the Eagles’ Under 18 line up this week and delivered a best on ground performance. After an interrupted pre-season due to knee surgery, Burgoyne showed that he has lost none of his agility and deserves to be considered among South Australia’s best AFL Draft prospects in 2021. He was on fire from the opening bounce against Sturt, spreading from a stoppage just minutes into the game and kicking a beautiful goal on the run from 45 metres out. He played predominantly in the midfield but also spent some time at half-back, exhibiting his silky skills in both positions. Burgoyne won plenty of ground balls, rarely fumbled and made great decisions when disposing of the footy. No Double Blues player could go with him when he spread from stoppages, as his turn of speed was too much for them to handle. His skills by foot were magnificent, finding targets all over the ground with ease. Going inside 50, he always kicked it to his forwards’ advantage to enable them to capitalise on one-on-one situations. At half-back, he read the play well and used his height and leaping ability to take some nice intercept marks. He finished with 28 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s, four tackles and two clearances for the day.

#15 Adam D’Aloia

D’Aloia backed up his best on ground performance last weekend with another strong showing on Saturday. Playing mainly has an inside midfielder, the State Talent Hub member read the ball well off the hands of the ruckmen, released his side’s outside midfielders with quick hands, and always followed up to the next contest. His composure with ball in hand was outstanding, as he made smart decisions and consistently chose the right option. The highlight of his match occurred in the second term when he received a short pass from Burgoyne on the 50-metre arc, immediately turned, took three steps and booted a magnificent goal on a tight angle. D’Aloia is already one of the best handballers in traffic in the competition. This was demonstrated on many occasions including when he gave quick hands to set up Mattaes Phillipou’s important goal midway through the third term. His defensive pressure was relentless as well, both at stoppages and around the ground. The bottom-ager finished with 26 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s, four tackles, four clearances and a goal.

Others:

Brock Thomson (33 disposals, ten marks) found plenty of the ball in defence once again, showing class with both feet coming out of the defensive 50. Will Pearce (19 disposals, five marks, four clearances) was prominent in the midfield and up forward, while Nick Mitzithras (23 disposals, seven marks, two goals) and Liam Ueding (16 disposals, nine marks, four tackles) were important contributors. Ben Schwartz (ten disposals, two contested marks, four goals) closed out the game well, booting three of his four goals in the second half.

STURT:

#5 Jordan Hein

Hein was one of Sturt’s best, finishing with an impressive stat-line of 29 disposals, eight tackles, seven marks, six inside 50s, five clearances and a goal. His hands were good inside, and he used his pace to apply solid pressure on the opposition throughout the match. Hein used his endurance to work to each contest and provide teammate Brad Jefferies with some much-needed assistance in the midfield. His goal came at an important stage late in the third term with a left-foot snap from a forward 50 stoppage, and this brought his side to within 12 points at three-quarter time. While he is a nice kick on most occasions, he did make a couple of costly turnovers by foot, including a misguided short pass late in the second term that should have led to an Eagles goal. Despite this, it was a strong performance from Hein and he will be an important player for the Double Blues this season.

#13 Brad Jefferies

Jefferies was Sturt’s best player again, finding the ball with ease and using it to the best of his ability. He collected a game-high 37 disposals (28 kicks) to go with 12 marks, nine inside 50s, eight clearances, four tackles and two rebound 50s. While his contested ball-winning ability and dominance at stoppages was profound once again, it was his work rate and desire to earn uncontested possessions that took his game to a new level on Saturday. Jefferies pushed into the right spots to gain uncontested marks and help side bring the ball out of defence on numerous occasions. Some of his kicking completely opened up the play, including when he went down the middle to Jake Aish in the final term. He attempted to use the corridor as much as possible, and he found Felix Packer up forward on the lead several times. Jefferies earned free kicks at stoppages because he got to the ball first, held his ground and proved difficult for opposition players to tackle. It will be interesting to see whether Jefferies moves up the grades at Sturt in 2021.

#39 Felix Packer

Packer was Sturt’s most imposing forward in this contest. He provided a powerful presence, pushed hard on the lead and used his reach to take the ball at its highest point. He booted three majors for the match, and they all came in different ways. The first was from a set shot after taking a mark on the lead, the second came from a nice kick on the run (following some good work from teammate Lachie Thomas), and the third came from a set shot after a free kick for a push in the back. Given Packer’s size, reach and ability to hold front position, it is difficult for defenders to spoil his marking attempts without giving away free kicks. Packer had 16 disposals and five marks in a solid outing.

Others:

Charlie Fryer (14 disposals, eight marks, four tackles) and Will Torode (12 disposals, five marks, eight rebound 50s) were great in defence, as they consistently read the ball well and took some nice intercept marks. Patrick Tidemann (16 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s) worked hard throughout the contest, and Jake Aish (24 disposals, three goals) was lively.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 16.10 (106) def. NORWOOD 7.8 (50)

By: Tom Cheesman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#13 Lachlan Hayes

Hayes was Mr. Reliable for South in defence on Saturday. He was very active from the beginning of the match, using his agility to impact contests and provide an option for teammates on the outside. His brilliant quick hands helped set up an Isaac Birt goal in the second term, one of several occasions where he made good instinctive decisions with ball in hand. He also has a nice sidestep, which is valuable when used in the right situation, and he spread well off half-back to help his side switch the play. He finished with 22 disposals, five marks and three tackles.

#21 Matthew Roberts

Roberts was easily the best player on the ground in this contest. He set the tone at opening bounce, where he laid a strong run-down tackle on Redlegs ruckman Aidan Lake to earn a free kick for holding the ball, and then delivered his kick beautifully inside 50 to a leading Jack Delean to set up the first goalscoring opportunity of the match. Roberts dominated at the stoppages, winning eight clearances to go with 34 disposals, 10 inside 50s, nine tackles and eight marks for the day. Most of his marks were uncontested, as he used his incredible work rate to burn away from opponents and help his side bring the ball out of defence. Roberts delivered several classy forward entries from his 10 inside 50s, including when he kicked a huge goal from inside the centre square (with the wind) off a couple of steps to give his side the lead in the second term. He also spent some time resting at full forward, and he kicked two more goals in the second term while playing this position. He showed great composure to steady when drilling his second on the run at the 16-minute mark, and his third came from the next centre clearance when Luke Mitton hit him beautifully on the lead. Roberts was never in doubt from the set shot, as he has a wonderful kicking technique and is reliable under pressure. He took two contested marks in this game as well, proving that he truly has no weaknesses. Akin to fellow Panther Jason Horne, Roberts is a class above the Under 18 level, so don’t be surprised if he moves up the grades this season.

#33 Arlo Draper

Draper is another of South Adelaide’s promising draft prospects and he churned out another solid performance on Saturday. He was particularly impressive early, finding plenty of the ball and winning clearances with ease. His balance between getting contested and uncontested ball is fantastic, and his versatility enables him to play almost any position. Draper spent some time forward to rest in this contest, and although he provided a strong marking target, he did not get any opportunities to hit the scoreboard. His best moments in this match came at the midfield stoppages, where he and Roberts tore the game apart in the second term. Draper is a reliable kick, good size and very athletic. His composure under pressure is elite, as he regularly gets his arms free when tackled to give handballs that release teammates on the outside. Draper could be another to earn an opportunity to play at higher levels later in the season as well.

#35 Koby Cockshell

Cockshell was South’s most powerful presence up forward in this match, finishing with 15 disposals, six tackles, four marks and three majors. He was a reliable marking target, showed impressive agility and, as evidenced by his tackle numbers, applied relentless pressure on the opposition. Some highlights of his performance included a clever intercept mark and beautiful set shot goal in the second term, and a fantastic contested mark against Norwood’s Matthew Dnistriansky early in the third term. Another exciting moment also came in the third quarter when Cockshell swooped on a loose ball, took a bounce down the wing and found fellow key forward Tom Schirmer with a long kick inside 50 to set up a score. Cockshell’s second and third goals came from the goalsquare in the final term.

Others:

Will Verrall (31 hitouts, six clearances) was a major reason why the Panthers had the ascendancy at the stoppages, and Tom Schirmer (five marks, three tackles, three goals) was good in tandem with Cockshell up forward. Isaac Birt (20 disposals, six inside 50s), Luke Mitton (20 disposals, eight clearances, seven tackles) and Jack Delean (11 disposals, two goals) were also standouts.

NORWOOD:

#10 Taj Rahui

Rahui was fantastic for the Redlegs in defeat. Playing off half-back, the State Talent Hub member provided some exciting run-and-carry, used his body well and produced many significant defensive efforts. His spoiling was solid, his attack on the ball was ferocious and his willingness to commit to the contest was outstanding. A prime example of his commitment occurred when he took a brave contested mark at half-back after standing under the flight of the ball for a lengthy period. Rahui knew the contact was coming from all directions, but he was not afraid to take the hit and did not back out of the contest. This was a great sign from a young player. Rahui was also composed in traffic, reliable by foot and agile in evading oncoming tacklers. He finished with 21 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s, two rebound 50s, two tackles, two clearances and a goal, which came from a nice set shot in the opening term.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Dnistriansky was solid in defence for the visitors, particularly in the first half. He used his booming right foot kick to switch the play, open up the centre of the ground and clear the defensive 50. He was not afraid to take the game on by foot, as demonstrated when he hit teammate Joseph Cristancig with a beautiful pass down the corridor in the opening term. Dnistriansky intercepted South’s forward thrusts on many occasions and provided some nice run and link up with teammates coming out of defence. He is a good size for his position and can hold his own in one-on-one contests. Besides one uncharacteristic turnover in the second term that handed Cockshell a goal, Dnistriansky’s ball use was very effective. He finished with 25 disposals, 10 rebound 50s, six tackles and five marks.

Others:

Oliver Stenchlik (13 disposals, two marks) and Riley Verrall (19 disposals, six marks, five tackles) were solid in defence, while Corey Jones-Bobridge (16 disposals, four tackles, three clearances) did some good things in the midfield.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Next Gen gripes: The Academy prospects who will have recruiters sweating

THE SHIFT in Next Generation Academy (NGA) related rules means clubs will only be able to match bids which come after pick 20 in this year’s draft, with the ‘first dibs’ concession set to be pushed back to pick 40 in 2022. Still, there will be a few clubs sweating on the form of their academy talents.

Headlining the list of NGA bolters is Dandenong Stingrays standout Mac Andrew (Melbourne), a raw and athletic tall whose NAB League form earned him a call up to the AFL Academy squad. Having already shown his wares across three games with the ‘Rays, the 18-year-old stamped his top 25 potential with an eye-catching final term performance in the ruck, as the Academy was thumped by Geelong VFL last Saturday.

While Andrews’ form will buoy Melbourne’s recruiting and list management staff, it may also throw a spanner in the works if other clubs take rightful notice of his upside. In a draft pool stocked well on midfielders, versatile talls like Andrew could accelerate up the order. The Dees also have access to Ryan Koo Kwet Kim and Kobi George from the Dandenong region, while Josiah Kyle is tied to St Kilda.

The Saints came into the year with one of the more promising NGA lists, but foster more long-term prospects at this stage. Jack Peris, the son of Olympic champion Nova, is beginning to show his true potential for Sandringham Dragons alongside teammates Angus McLennan, Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens. Peris is an agile outside runner who snuck forward to kick a couple of goals against Dandenong in Round 3, after debuting in Round 1. Scott Beilby is another for St Kilda to monitor, a defender with good attacking traits.

Adelaide may lose out massively with the new rulings – if not this year, than certainly next. The Crows currently lay claim to North Adelaide small defender Blayne O’Loughlin, the nephew of Sydney great Michael, who also played in the AFL Academy game. He started the SANFL Under 18s season with averages of 35 disposals and seven inside 50s, captaining his side. He is arguably still safe of that top 20 range.

Blayne O’Loughlin is tied to Adelaide’s NGA | Image Credit: AFL Photos

The Crows have seen Isaiah Dudley, who also boasts strong family ties to the top level, return with aplomb in 2021 for Central District, while Jacob Lochowiak earned a Reserves berth at Sturt. They will likely have one eye on next year’s crop though, as dynamic tall Isaac Keeler is coming through the ranks. He has already been billed as a first round talent and bagged five goals in Round 1 of this year’s SANFL Under 18s. If he maintains such form, Adelaide will inevitably miss out on him in 2022.

Fremantle is another team with a typically strong NGA program, having nurtured the likes of Joel Western and Brandon Walker to the top level as recently as last year. In 2021, Jesse Motlop is a name making waves. The son of Daniel, he is not eligible to be taken as a father-son by North Melbourne or Port Adelaide, but is another exciting talent for Dockers fans to look out for.

The crafty forward/midfielder has booted five goals in his three WAFL Colts outings thus far, with eyes on a League call-up as he continues to showcase his eye-catching work in the front half. Richard Bartlett is another on the radar, with Freo officially granted access to the East Fremantle talent this year, while South Fremantle’s Riley Colborne has good potential.

Speaking of potential, Collingwood will be able to snap up another NGA product coming through the Oakleigh Chargers’ pathway in Youseph Dib. Having graduated from Caulfield Grammar last year, the well-built small utility has made the step up to Collingwood’s VFL side amid the NAB League hiatus. He is another sitting outside that top 20 range, but has terrific traits.

Collingwood NGA prospect Youseph Dib

Looking at others tied to clubs who have impressed via the NAB League, Cody Raak is arguably top of the list. He trained for a final spot in the Western Bulldogs’ squad over the off-season, and has really hit the ground running in 2021 having been overlooked. Northern Knights ruck Dominic Akuei has impressed with his athleticism and will have Carlton taking a closer look, while Blake Scott (Western Bulldogs) has shown glimpses along with Achoung Agog (Richmond).

Greater Western Sydney (GWS) fans have yet another academy product rising the ranks, with Josh Fahey proving his top 20 credentials of late. The was some conjecture surrounding his eligibility for the Giants after moving up to the Gold Coast last year, but having returned to the region in 2021 he will have enough years in the program to qualify, and be snapped up by GWS when a bid arrives. Gold Coast has classy small Austin Harris in its program, a little further down the order at this stage.

There should be a few father-son prospects in the top 20 mix too, headed by Nick Daicos. The son of Collingwood legend Peter is becoming hard to deny as the number one player in this year’s crop after scintillating performances for Oakleigh. Jase Burgoyne, the son of Peter and nephew of Shaun, played alongside Daicos in the AFL Academy showcase, while Daicos’ Oakleigh teammate Sam Darcy (son of Luke) is shooting up draft boards. He is a key position player with great versatility, upside, and aerial ability.

Elsewhere, Charlie McKay has proven his worth as an inside midfielder and hardened defender, and could be looked at by Carlton, while Ewan Macpherson (Western Bulldogs) and West Australian Taj Woewodin (Melbourne) may also garner some attention this year.

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 2 – NAB Leaguers filter into the state league

WITH the NAB League in the midst a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun to filter into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects made their state league debuts in Round 2, while members of all four Northern Academies also took the field for their respective sides. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit senior level footballs.

>> INSIGHT | Which 19-year-olds have improved their stocks?

The Footscray Bulldogs unveiled Next Generation Academy (NGA) graduate, Cody Raak in their 72-point thumping of GWS on Thursday night. Raak contributed nine disposals and four marks in his maiden game, after making a stellar start to this year’s NAB League proceedings. The marking defender has worked on his weapons after narrowly missing out on a senior spot at the Bulldogs, averaging 27 disposals, six marks, and nine rebound 50s in three Under 19s outings.

Meanwhile, Giants Academy product, Josh Green (21 disposals, three marks) was named his side’s best player on Thursday. The brother of current GWS midfielder Tom, he trained with Richmond after also being overlooked at last year’s draft. The 18-year-old is a versatile tall who is working on his midfield craft, but can be a true utility.

Speaking of academy talent, Gold Coast continues to blood its youth squad products, with past and present members among the Suns side which beat Sydney on Saturday morning. 19th-year tall Jack Johnston earned full votes in his team’s triumph, clunking six marks in his 12-disposal performance. Fellow 2002-births Bailey Reeves (12 disposals, five marks) and Thomas Hofert (seven disposals) also got some run in their legs, as 2003-births Will Bella (10 disposals, five marks, three goals) and Bodhi Uwland (seven disposals) also featured. Bella is the brother of Suns AFLW ruck, Lauren.

The Brisbane Lions also fielded a bunch of Academy graduates, with six in the Under 19 category. Will Tasker impressed with 14 touches and two goals, as the likes of Saxon Crozier (12 disposals, four marks) and Toby Triffett (11 disposals, eight tackles) worked hard in the Lions’ 69-point loss to Carlton. Athletic bigman Jack Briskey, who vied for a Collingwood AFL spot in preseason, was also amongst the action with Tahj Abberley and Shatna Cashen-Harris.

Saturday’s game to watch for NAB League talent making the step-up was Essendon against Collingwood, which the Bombers won by 35 points at Victoria Park. The Bombers had current Bendigo Pioneers top-agers Jack Hickman and Sam Conforti make their debuts, with the latter named among his new side’s best players. Collingwood NGA Youseph Dib made the step up and laid eight tackles in the front half, while fellow Oakleigh players Will Hart and Dylan Thomas also made their debuts.

North Melbourne was another side to dip into the NAB League over the weekend, with a couple of Tasmania Devils talents coming into the side. Oliver Sanders (12 disposals, one goal) was among the Kangaroos’ votes as they went down to Frankston, while Tyler McGinnis (five disposals, four marks) also had a crack. For Sandringham, Dragons co-captain Darby Hipwell suited up for the Zebras and showed promise for his 13 touches.

Scouting Notes: 2021 AFL Under 19 Academy vs. Geelong VFL

THE AFL Under 19 Academy suffered a 130-point thumping at the hands of Geelong VFL on Saturday morning, with the hosts flexing their muscle in the showcase fixture at GMHBA Stadium. Result aside, it proved an eye-opening opportunity for the nation’s brightest young talents to test their measure against seasoned operators. Our scouts were on hand in Geelong to deliver their opinion-based notes all 24 Academy players.

>> Match report: AFL Academy vs. Geelong VFL

#1-17 (By Ed Pascoe)

#1 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide/SA)

The usually prolific North Adelaide prospect found the going a bit tougher against the Geelong VFL side but made his possessions count by both hand and foot and often looked composed under pressure. O’Loughlin showed great courage sitting in front of oncoming talls leading up at the ball where he was crunched.

#2 Austin Harris (Gold Coast/QLD)

The speedy defender tied to the Gold Coast Suns, Harris had some nice moments down back showing plenty of dare and dash with ball in hand, despite his light and small frame Harris still managed to get involved and even got a run on the wing late in the game. It is still up in the air which position will be his best going forward.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers/VC)

The exciting Murray forward took some time to get into the game but he certainly looked like the Academy’s most dangerous forward, looking dangerous whenever he got the ball or was in the vicinity. He kicked a great goal from beyond 50m after taking a lead up mark which was one of only two goals scored for the Academy. Rachele was skilful in the air and at ground level and his efforts to tackle were also a highlight.

#5 Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/VM)

Not the game Sonsie would have wanted as he pushes for his claim in the first round of this year’s draft, the smooth moving midfielder from Eastern Ranges found the going tough against the bigger bodies in the Geelong midfield and was later moved to defence, yet still could not work his way into the game. Despite using the ball well when he got it, he did not get it enough to really make a big impact.

#6 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

The Collingwood father-son prospect continued his strong start to the year with another prolific game through the midfield leading his side as captain he also lead in disposals with 26. The smooth moving midfielder from Oakleigh Chargers was crafty around stoppages and smart around the ground just knowing where to be at all times and his skill by hand and foot was superb especially with some of his kicks inside 50 early in the game. Although he did not kick any goals as he usually does – he had a few missed shots showing great agility both times but just missing – it was another strong game from Daicos who continues to press his claim as the best prospect in this years draft pool.

#7 Cooper Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers/VC)

The tough Bendigo defender/midfielder showed his usual traits as a clean and tough competitor with his sturdy frame and desperation on show. Starting down back it took a while for Hamilton to work into the game but got more involved with some midfield time in the last quarter.

#9 Jason Horne (South Adelaide/SA)

The impressive midfielder who has already tasted action against senior bodies at South Adelaide, took what he has learnt from that time into the Academy game showing great tackling intent and playing with a lot of maturity. Despite not being overly prolific with 13 disposals for the game, Horne made every touch count, looking impressive with his burst and clean hands at stoppages and his ability overhead with a strong mark at half-back in the second quarter showcasing his overall elite attributes.

#10 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/SA)

Coming off a 37-disposal game last week for South Adelaide, the tough midfielder was played forward all game for the Academy and although it was disappointing that he did not get a run in his favoured position, he managed to do some nice things and was perhaps his side’s most prolific forward. Roberts got to show his long left foot with a nice kick inside 50 and a 50m shot at goal in the first quarter. Although the shot was a behind, he would have likely had a more prolific game forward with a closer game and better service coming inside 50.

#11 Jase Burgoyne (WWT Eagles/SA)

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect from Woodville-West Torrens started the game in his usual role at half-back showing his clean hands and composure with ball in hand. Burgoyne would move to the wing in the second half which proved a good move as he started to win more of the ball although his kicking did not come off a few times he did well to try and create although he will want to work on his defensive side on a more consistent basis to better round out his game.

#13 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

Used on the wing and later forward, Rankin would not have a prolific day like his fellow forwards and wingmen, and despite his best efforts defensively, he would not get to show why he was a late addition to the Academy squad, with the small utility impressing at NAB League level for Oakleigh Chargers.

#16 Josh Fahey (GWS/NSW-ACT)

One of the few standouts for the Academy side, the GWS GIANTS Academy member offered plenty of drive from defence using his speed and long left foot to break the lines and it was no surprise that he took kick-outs with those strengths. He took one good intercept mark which could be considered low, but he played percentages and went with the fist multiple times to great success. Fahey showed great leadership qualities being vocal down back and he was prepared to work hard with and without the ball. Sharing some similarities to AA defender Michael Hibberd, he could be set for similar accolades at the next level. Speaking of accolades, he would win the Presidents Medal for his 23-disposal and nine-rebound 50 game.

#17 Nasiah Wanganeen (Glenelg/South Australia)

The athletic wingman from Glenelg did not win a lot of the ball, but he had some good moments by foot playing wing early in the game before moving back in the last quarter showing good composure and a nice spoil deep in defence was also good.

#19-31 (By Michael Alvaro)

#19 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco/WA)

The West Australian ended up being quite a handy addition to the Academy squad, able to show his worth in some nice pockets of play. He came to life during a second term purple patch, where his vertical leap and overhead marking were prominent. Erasmus rose well both on the lead and to intercept across half-forward, where he was posted for most of the game. He would later be shifted up onto the wing where he worked back more defensively, but arguably looked more dangerous in attack during the first half. Erasmus had a set shot attempt on goal fall shot in term two and took some time to eventually hit his targets by foot on the move, but returned a promising game overall.

#20 Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

Another late inclusion, Callaghan took some time to get up to speed with the pressure gauge set, but began to string together plays more indicative of his talent as the contest wore on. When given the opportunity, he showcased his long and penetrative left-foot kick, looking a touch more comfortable when streaming forward in space. The Sandringham Dragons bolter was a little fumbly below his knees which brought on more pressure than required, though he has the frame to beat opponents when going low and hard. Callaghan shifted to half-back in the final term and was released for a couple of trademark runs before breaching the forward 50 arc by foot. He is difficult to stop in full flight with that mix of size, speed and agility.

#21 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

On a tough day for Academy forwards, Howes returned a relatively quiet outing having been permanently employed among the front six. With a light frame considering his height, Howes could not quite burst free from tackles he normally would at Under 19s level, but competed well to win a couple of contests in the opening and closing terms. The first was a handy split at half-forward before dishing off to the running Lachlan Rankin, and the second was an instance where he had to cop contact to create a spill inside 50, as the ball was not delivered to his advantage. A good leaper with sticky hands, it was a difficult outing for Howes to show those traits.

#22 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco/WA)

While injury scuppered his chances of an early-season League debut in the WAFL, Johnson put his hand up for such honours with a solid outing against mature bodies. Having played exclusively in midfield, the tall ball winner looks like being in the right shape to do so after his time off. He was the Academy’s third most prolific player, even with a disposal count of 13, showing clean hands and poise at the coalface. His one-touch potential was shown early with a beautiful half-volley gather at half-forward, before going on to take a strong overhead grab later in the first term. Johnson also notched a few clearances but was given little time to think about delivering anything more than a quick kick forward. His uncontested touches were polished though, and he looms as the prime tall inside midfielder in this crop.

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont/WA)

Arguably the leading key position forward among a raft of high-level midfielders in this year’s draft pool, Van Rooyen was posted permanently in the familiar centre half-forward position. The Claremont product competed well among a front six that was afforded few opportunities and less than ideal delivery. He presented up the ground and was unlucky not to have been paid a sliding mark on defensive wing in the first term. He would continue to gain separation while up the ground, even when his efforts went unrewarded, while also playing a hand in attempting to lock the ball in his side’s attacking 50 with pressure at the contest. Despite a frustrating outing at times, the ‘Flying Dutchman’ remains a frontrunner in his role.

#24 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts/WA)

While he has swung forward to good effect in the WAFL Colts, Bazzo reverted back to his defensive duties for the Academy and built into the game well despite being handed tough assignments. A good reader of the ball, Bazzo was caught lacking early as he was caught behind, but saw that kind of positioning pay off later on as he chimed in with well-timed spoils and some terrific intercept marks inside defensive 50. He was under the pump at times given the speed of which Geelong moved the ball forward, but stood up in one-on-one battles against taller and more developed opponents, like Sam De Koning. His confidence seemed to grow with each defensive act, though he could do little at times as the Cats swept up relentlessly after the initial effort. Bazzo’s disposal, mostly by foot, was also assured on the last line.

#25 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels/VC)

The GWV Rebels defender is such a smooth operator on the last line, contributing wonderfully poised disposal on the rebound under a good amount of pressure. He was kept very busy inside defensive 50 and did his best to repel by foot, hitting targets both short and long on the rebound. Gibcus’ reading of the play is also sound, as he popped up to clunk eye-catching marks with nice timing and clean hands. In such a tough role deep among an under-siege defence, he was also impressive at the fall of the ball and swept up as per usual for the Academy. He should be one climbing draft boards after a stunning start to the year.

#27 Jack Williams (East Fremantle/WA)

It was somewhat of an almost day for Williams, who very nearly made the best of limited chances in the Academy forward line. The rising East Fremantle talent started with a strong mark on the lead, before booting his side’s first goal of the game with a wonderfully fluent set shot routine. He would go on to work up the ground and present well down the line, but could not quite hold his marks as he was met with contact by stronger-bodied opponents. Perhaps different umpires would have paid a couple of marks for the balls he got first hands to, but it was not to be for Williams. Still, his short moments were eye-catching despite the absence of end product after his first term goal.

#28 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays/VC)

One of the steepest risers in this year’s crop, the Melbourne Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect proved his true first round potential. He played up either end and gained a good tick for his versatility, but well and truly came to life in the final term with an awesome showing in the ruck – despite the result being well beyond his side at that point. Andrew caught the eye with phenomenal vertical leaps at each centre bounce, with his first act of the final term a follow-up clearance. He highlighted his marking ability with a nice clunk in front, and showed off some finesse in the ruck with a wonderfully directed hit to the anchoring Jason Horne. Having started forward, the Dandenong Stingrays talent snared the first score of the game with a snap, before displaying clean hands on the move and flying well in his less fruitful move to defence. Demons recruiters will now be sweating on his potential after a string of terrific performances, if they were not already.

#29 Toby Conway (Geelong Falcons/VC)

Playing in his home region, Conway was afforded the starting ruck gig and got to battle it out with an AFL-listed big man in Darcy Fort. He would have learned some handy lessons in positioning and bodywork in each ruck contest, but Conway did his best to compete in those situations. He worked back to offer some aerial support to his defenders and even took an early mark from a long kick-in. Conway also rested forward and spent plenty of time deep in the final term without seeing too much action. He led well on one occasion but was spoiled from behind, unable to cap his outing with a goal.

#30 Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

One of two 19-year-old prospects afield, Moyle carried his promising NAB League form into this outing and competed well against stiff opposition. The Oakleigh Chargers big man rotated into the ruck and was not afraid to leap into or wrestle with his senior adversaries. He also did well to stay relevant as the ball fell to ground level, prizing a few clearances forward – even if they were rushed scrubber kicks. Moyle also had the confidence to grab from the ruck and took a nice mark from a kick-in during term two. Like Conway, he rested forward and was stationed there more frequently during the second half, but just lacked the mobility and composure to make a true impact in those attacking positions.

#31 Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels/VC)

The latest of inclusions in this Academy squad, Marris was relatively competitive in his late-notice opportunity and contributed some handy clean touches. Posted in defence as a small, the GWV product fared well in early one-on-ones without having too many wins, but showed his ability to find the ball in space with neat uncontested touches, mostly delivered by foot. He played his role well and should be one to gain some VFL opportunities, ironically enough with the Cats.

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos