Tag: nick bryan

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

THERE has been plenty of debate when talking about potential AFL prospects pertaining to the differences between judging ‘athletes’ against ‘pure footballers’. There is an argument that fitness testing should be taken with a grain of salt and that the eye test is most important, but when it comes to players being drafted – especially in the first round – prospects are often at the pointy end in at least one fitness test.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the main fitness tests conducted during preseason and at the AFL Draft Combine, they are as follows:

  • Agility Test
  • 20m Sprint
  • Standing and Running Vertical Leap
  • Yo-Yo Test
  • 2km Time Trial

Last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan excelled in the 20m sprint and vertical leap tests, with his on-field speed off the mark and jump at the ball highlighting just why he excelled at those tests. The combine, if anything, gives reassurance that those traits are indeed elite and will help try and separate talents like Ugle-Hagan from any other key forwards in that year’s crop. Athleticism is very important in modern football, with players quicker and bigger than what most talented youngsters are used to at the development levels. One club which has seemingly identified this in modern times is the fast-rising Essendon Football Club.

Since 2014, Essendon seems to have had a clear strategy with the types of players they have looked at with their high picks. Below is a list of the Bombers’ top 40 selections since 2014 and which tests those players excelled at. In a lot of cases, they were top 10 in those tests at the end-of-year combine.

2014:

Pick 17 – Jayden Laverde
(Didn’t test but athleticism was a highlight of his game)

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

Pick 6 – Aaron Francis
(Didn’t test but like Laverde, athleticism was a highlight in games)

Pick 29 – Alex Morgan (Since delisted)
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

Pick 30 – Harrison Jones
Vertical Leap, Yo-Yo, 20m Sprint

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

There is one big outlier here and that’s one of this year’s Brownlow contenders in Darcy Parish, who was only average in test results during his draft year. This could be seen as the biggest clue as to why athletic testing shouldn’t be so important, but it can also be argued that one of the main reasons for Parish’s form is due to improving his running capacity to an elite level.

Even their most recent mid-season selection, Sam Durham tested well for vertical leap and endurance, so its no surprise at least in Essendon’s case that athletic traits are a huge influence in whether the player gets taken. The current favourite for the Rising Star, Nik Cox has taken the competition by storm with his mix of athleticism and height, with that height another factor in the early Essendon selections. It was a matter of time before Cox got his nomination for the Rising Star award and in retrospect, we should have all seen his selection by Essendon coming considering all the traits he possesses are key indicators in the Bombers’ recent draft strategy.

Using this history, we can even try to narrow down the possible field of players that Essendon will look at with its first round pick in 2021. A trio of Sandringham Dragons instantly come to mind with Campbell Chesser, Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan. All three players tested well for the 20m sprint and vertical leap during preseason, highlighting their power and athleticism. With all measuring at over 185cm, they even fill a midfield need for the Bombers. They have another prospect right under their noses in Josh Goater who made his Essendon VFL debut not long ago and is an athletic beast. His speed and leap tests were all elite and at 190cm, he would be another Essendon style selection.

The modern footballer is taller, faster and can run all day, and it is getting harder and harder for pure footballers to make it at the top level. If young, pure footballers can start to develop athleticism in their game, even if it’s an elite endurance base, that’s at least a start in the right direction.

Height used to be a detractor for clubs but now with the likes of Caleb Daniel, Kysaiah Pickett, Brent Daniels and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, that is no longer the same obstacle for potential draftees as it used to be – though you also need to have that speed and class. If you are small and have the athletic traits and determination to make it as an AFL player, then you will be on the right track. If you are tall and have those traits, your chances of making an AFL list are even higher.

Fitness testing is an important tool, not just for clubs and recruiters, but also for up and coming players – especially those at the very early level. I’m hopeful coaches of junior football are able to set up some of these tests to help young players find their best traits, enhance them and embrace them. Understandably, it takes time, money and effort on their part and not every junior club or parent has that available. Programs such as Rookie Me, the official fitness testing partner of the AFL, allow junior athletes to experience professional environments at an early age, proving another handy head-start for budding footballers.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

State leagues wrap: Teams deliver monster scores

WITH another weekend coming to a close, we take a look at what happened in state league football around the country, with plenty of massive scores as teams hit their straps.

Victoria:

The VFL had some big wins around the grounds this weekend, including one outside of Victoria, as the Tigers gave the Lions a belting to the tune of 62 points at the Gabba on Saturday morning. The Tigers booted a whopping nine goals in the first quarter, including three to forward Samson Ryan. The lead would only extend from there as the Tigers cruised to a big win over a helpless Lions side. For the Tigers, Ryan and Callum Coleman-Jones combined for eight goals up forward, tormenting Lions defenders, while Josh Caddy had 38 touches and two snags from the midfield. For the Lions, Tom Joyce and Cam Ellis-Yolman fought hard despite the circumstances.

Moving back to Victoria, North Melbourne had their first win of the season, taking down Essendon by 15 points at Windy Hill on Saturday. The game was thrillingly close for all four quarters, with only five points separating the sides at the final break. The Bombers gained a 12-point lead midway through the fourth quarter thanks to a fifth goal from Bombers forward Patrick Ambrose, but this was short lived. The Roos booted four unanswered goals, and stormed home for their first triumph of the 2021 season. For the victors, ruckman Tristian Xerri was a dominant figure, collecting a game-high 36 disposals to go with nine marks, six tackles and 27 hitouts in a marvellous display. For the Bombers, Ambrose’s five goals up forward were impressive, while ruckman Nick Bryan fought bravely.

Over at Ikon Park, the Hawks delivered a dominant performance, taking home the biggest win of the round as they defeated the Blues by 84 points on Sunday afternoon. The Hawks won all four quarters, doing as they please while the Blues struggled to keep up and constantly found themselves on the back foot. Hawk Vincent Adduci was the star up forward with five goals, while through the midfield, Brayden Kilpatrick found plenty of the ball. For the Blues, midfielder Matthew Kennedy found plenty of the ball on his way to 28 disposals on what was a tough day.

South Australia:

SANFL’s round seven action kicked off on Saturday afternoon, and for the Eagles, it was a perfect start to the weekend. At Hisense Stadium, the Woodville West-Torrens produced a masterful performance, defeating the West Adelaide Bloods by 100 points in a completely one-sided affair. Dominant second and third quarters from the Eagles – booting nine goals in each – put the game well out of reach for the Bloods, as they could not compete with a side that was firing on all cylinders. For the Eagles, Jimmy Toumpas had a bout of leather poisoning, finding the ball 45 times, while Daniel Menzel booted five goals up forward, and could have had plenty more if he had converted his four behinds. For the Bloods, midfielder Kaine Stevens worked his way to 32 disposals.

The Central District Bulldogs held off a brave comeback from the Sturt Sabres to walk away 10-point victors at Unley Oval on Saturday afternoon. The contest looked all but over heading into the final term, with the Bulldogs holding a 28-point lead over their opponents following a couple of one-sided quarters. The Sabres refused to give up, fighting hard in the fourth quarter to bring the margin back down, but ultimately couldn’t complete the fightback. For the Bulldogs, it was midfielder Jarrod Schiller who led the way, finishing the game with 26 touches, 10 tackles and a massive 12 clearances, and provided a strong contest with Sabre Tom Lewis, who had 24 touches, eight tackles and five clearances of his own.

Moving to Coopers Stadium, Norwood was able to overcome inaccuracy to defeat the Adelaide Crows by 48 points on Saturday afternoon. The Redlegs kicked 12.20, showing that the margin could have been a lot worse for the Crows had their opponents found the big sticks more. For the Redlegs, Tasmanian forward Jackson Callow was a victim of inaccurate kicking, booting 3.7 from 24 touches, while veteran Richard Douglas controlled things through the midfield with 31 disposals. For the Crows, youngster Will Hamill was influential with his 30 disposals.

At Alberton Oval, the Port Adelaide Power were able to scrape past the North Adelaide Roosters on their way to an eight-point win on Saturday afternoon. A big final term from both sides looked like the game could go either way, but ultimately, it was the class of the Power that got them over the line, with a late goal to Taj Schofield that sealed the result for his side. For the victors, midfielder, Sam Mayes was instrumental in his side controlling the ball, finishing the match with 32 disposals. For the Roosters, Andrew Moore found plenty of the ball through the middle and floated forward to boot a goal in the third term.

In the final match of the round, Glenelg were able to remain undefeated after seven matches, taking down the South Adelaide Panthers by 40 points at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers delivered a strong first half challenge, but the Tigers were able to find the form that has worked for them all year, as they booted nine goals to three in the second half to walk away winners. For the winners, Matthew Allen and Chris Curran found plenty of the ball, while Liam McBean booted three goals up forward. For the Panthers, Bryce Gibbs was typically strong in the midfield, finding the ball 31 times and booting a goal.

Western Australia:

The WAFL resumed following a week off, and the action started at New Choice Homes Park, with Claremont proving too strong for East Fremantle, storming away 42-point victors on Saturday afternoon. Claremont started the game in dominant fashion, booting six goals to one in the first term, and never slowing down from there on their way to a fifth win for the season. For Claremont, Lachlan Martinis found plenty of the ball as he has done so many times this season, and was well aided by Jye Bolton as the pair racked up 33 disposals each. For East Fremantle, Luke English ended the match with 29 disposals in a promising outing.

At David Grays Arena, West Perth were able to keep their form rolling with a strong 28-point triumph over Peel Thunder on Saturday afternoon. Despite coming into the match with one less win, West Perth were clinical in the premiership quarter, booting four goals to none to find themselves with an eventual match-winning lead. For West Perth, Keegan Knott’s six goals proved vital in the end, while Shane Nelson had 37 touches through the midfield. For Peel Thunder, former Bomber Jackson Merrett displayed his knack for finding the ball, racking up 37 disposals through the middle.

The crowd at Mineral Resources Park were treated to an upset, as Perth knocked off South Fremantle by a margin of 20 points on Saturday afternoon. Despite finding more of the ball as a team, South Fremantle’s inaccuracy kept them out of the hunt in the second half, as Perth were able to take their chances on a consistent basis. For Perth, Kristian Cary booted four crucial goals, while ruckman Christian Eyres impressed. For South Fremantle, Dylan Main was the star with 34 disposals and two goals in an eye-catching performance.

East Perth finally notched their first win of the season, as they took down West Coast by 57 points at Leederville Oval on Saturday afternoon. Both sides entered the clash at 0-5, and East Perth took the opportunity for a first win against a struggling West Coast side. A seven-goal last term cemented the result, while West Coast’s woes continue. For East Perth, Rohan Kerr stuffed the stat sheet with 31 disposals and 12 marks, while Aiden Lynch had 29 touches and a goal. For West Coast, Mark Hutchings fought all day through the midfield, gathering 28 touches.

Subiaco were able to remain in the top two on the ladder with a thrilling win over Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday afternoon. Swan Districts delivered a serious challenge to Subiaco, who were on top of the ladder heading into the clash, but just fell short in the final term. For Subiaco, Gregory Clark was dominant with 30 disposals, 12 tackles, six marks and two goals in a match-winning performance. For Swan Districts, ruckman Corey Gault amassed a whopping 50 hitouts to give his midfielders first use.

Queensland:

There were plenty of big scores from the victorious teams over the QAFL’s eighth round of action. This began at Maroochydore Multisports Complex on Saturday afternoon, as Maroochydore were triumphant over Wilston Grange to the tune of 27 points. A tense clash for the first three quarters, the home side was able to break away in the final term on their way to their fifth win of the season. The match proved to be a shootout, as Maroochydore’s Mitchell Scholard (14 goals in three weeks) and Wilston Grange’s Sam Gribble each booted five goals, but ultimately Scholard got the last laugh with the win.

A massive third term has seen Morningside take home a 27-point win over Palm Beach Currumbin at Jack Esplen Oval on Saturday afternoon. Despite trailing by 17 points at half time, Morningside booted eight goals to none in the third term to completely turn the game in their favour, and never looked back from there. For the victors, Darcy Cameron-Reeves claimed best on ground honours, while Thomas Griffiths also impressed. For Palm Beach Currumbin, Corey Joyce’s strong form continued, ending as his side’s best for the second time in three weeks.

Over at Southside Toyota Oval, Mt Gravatt were clinical in their 88-point thrashing of Noosa on Saturday afternoon. With a strong 55-point lead at half time, Mt Gravatt never gave their opponents a hint of a comeback, dominating on all areas of the field as they sent a statement to the rest of the league. For Mt Gravatt, Jonah Licht booted five snags up forward, while teammate Luke O’Sullivan also caught the eye of coaches and spectators. For Noosa, Aaron Laskey battled hard all day despite the heavy loss.

Moving to Totally Workwear Park, Redland-Victoria Point were unable to match the intensity of Surfers Paradise, eventually falling by 17 points on Saturday afternoon. Surfers Paradise set the tone early, taking a three-goal lead into the first break. While their opponents fought valiantly to attempt a comeback, the victors proved too strong. For Surfers Paradise, Harrison Fraser delivered his strongest performance of the year, and would have impressed his coaches. For Redland-Victoria Point, Peter Yagmoor was terrific in a losing side, booting two goals.

The final match of the round saw an upset as Sherwood Districts shocked the league to take down Labrador by 40 points at Sherwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. Booting seven goals in the first quarter, Sherwood Districts dominated all day as Labrador struggled to keep up with the home side. For Sherwood Districts, Thomas Baulch booted six goals up forward, as Labrador defenders tried to find an answer for his clinical play.

Tasmania:

TSL’s eighth round of action kicked off in extraordinary fashion on Friday night, with North Launceston upsetting Launceston with a 15-point triumph at UTAS Stadium. The reigning premiers led at halftime, but were stunned in the second half, as North Launceston simply outplayed them to run away with a fantastic win that would surely give the rest of the league hope. For the victors, Jay Foon was outstanding, booting two goals on his way to a best on ground performance, while Jack Rushton also stood out. For Launceston, Jake Smith fought hard, particularly in the first half.

Over at Blundstone Arena, Clarence were dominant as they took down Lauderdale to the tune of 76 points on Saturday afternoon. The contest was closely battled in the first term, with just eight points separating the sides, before Clarence’s seven-goal second term saw them gain an unassailable lead. For Clarence, Ethan Jackson was terrific all day, while Oliver Preshaw booted three goals. For Lauderdale, skipper Allen Christensen battled hard all day to rally his troops.

The final match of round eight saw a clinical performance from the Tigers, as they smashed North Hobart by 89 points at Kingston Twin Ovals on Saturday afternoon. A seven-goal haul from Tyler Carter was the headline of the day, as he claimed best afield honours for the second week in a row. With fluctuating form over recent weeks, the win will surely inject some life into the Tigers’ season. North Hobart’s Samuel Caswell fought hard all day despite the margin.

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL – Round 5

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season rolled on into its fourth round over the weekend, with nine fixtures spread from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, as four sides enjoyed byes. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 5 action, as AFL-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS: State League wrap

Standalone state league guns dominated the stats sheet in Round 5, with brilliant ball winners and goalkicking aces finding their way to the top. Nathan Freeman not only leads the league for disposals and kicks overall, but also led those lists on the weekend as Frankston went down to Essendon. The former St Kilda and Collingwood midfielder distributed 27 kicks among his 43 disposals.

In the same game, senior-listed Essendon tall Nick Bryan won a monster 42 hitouts in his side’s win. Marcus Lentini continues to top the competition for handballs after racking up a monster 28, as Coburg toppled Port Melbourne. Meanwhile, teammate and fellow Northern Knights graduate Luke Bunker has snatched top spot in the tackle department after laying 12.

Elsewhere, Southport forward Mitch Johnson ripped through Aspley as his namesake did to England’s top order circa 2014, becoming the first VFL player to boot 10 goals this season. Also in Queensland, Brisbane rookie Carter Michael worked for a round-high 12 marks, which was matched by Sydney’s Lewis Taylor. Find the full list of Round 5, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 5 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 43

Kicks:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 27

Handballs:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 28

Goals:
Mitch Johnson (Southport) – 10

Marks:
Carter Michael* (Brisbane) – 12
Lewis Taylor* (Sydney) – 12

Tackles:
Luke Bunker (Coburg) – 12

Hitouts:
Nick Bryan* (Essendon) – 42

* – denotes AFL-listed.

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 205 total / 41.0 average

Kicks:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 128 / 25.6

Handballs:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 93 / 18.6

Goals:
Matthew Hammelmann (Aspley) – 18 / 4.5

Marks:
Connor Ballenden* (Brisbane) – 44 / 11.0

Tackles:
Luke Bunker (Coburg) – 44 / 8.8

Hitouts:
Fraser Thurlow (Southport) – 157 / 31.4

* – denotes AFL-listed

Image Credit: AFL Photos

2021 VFL Round 1 review: Queensland teams make their mark

A NEW era and a new competition full of surprises saw a number of clubs from New South Wales and Queensland join the still rather oddly-named Victorian Football League (VFL), and the majority came away with the points. The four AFL-aligned clubs in the two northern states on the east coast joined the competition, with standalone teams, Aspley Hornets and Southport Sharks also joining the fold, as did the Northern Bullants who returned to the competition. With 11 games played every weekend in the new 22-team competition, the competitiveness to finish inside the top eight has never been greater.

The match of the round was easily Southport’s come-from-behind win over Carlton at Ikon Park on Saturday. The Blues raced out of the blocks to pile on six goals to two in the opening term and lead by 26 points at quarter time. The Sharks began to claw their way back in the second, kicking five goals to four to draw to within 19 points at the main break, but the Blues seemed to keep them at arms-length. Carlton kicked 4.6 to 4.0 in the premiership quarter to again extend out to 25 points with a quarter to play, but the visitors were not done with just yet. Connor Nutting kicked two goals in the opening six minutes, and by the time Jacob Dawson had converted a major, the deficit was back in the single digits midway through the term, Lukas Webb brought it back to two points a few minutes later, and after Dawson levelled the score with a behind in the 20th minute, many thought it could be the competition’s first draw.

AFL-listed youngster Lochie O’Brien had other ideas, converting a goal in the 25th minute, and when Matt Shannon kicked a major at 26:38 on the clock, it appeared the Sharks had fought gallantly, but would not be able to comeback from a 12-point deficit, The last eight minutes of the term saw the Sharks relentlessly attacking, and forcing a rushed behind, which would prove ultimately important in the end result. Fraser Thurlow kicked a major in red time, and then it was just five points in it. The former AFL-contingent at the Queensland club had stepped up throughout the game, and indeed it would be Webb who would be the man of the moment, kicking a match-winning major in the last minute to seal the game. At one point, the deficit had got out to as much as 31 points, but the visitors had kept believing, and stunned the home side, 17.7 (109) to 16.12 (108).

Whilst he might not have kicked one in the final term, ex-Bulldog Billy Gowers had a day out with five goals from seven scoring shots, 15 disposals and six marks. Thurlow absolutely dominated the ruck for the Sharks, notching up 49 hitouts, but then going forward to slot three goals and take eight marks from 12 touches. Nutting, a former Gold Coast Academy talent kicked the three goals from 11 touches, while Webb’s two goals in the final term added to his 24 touches, five marks and four tackles. Andrew Boston (27 disposals, 11 tackles), Dawson (26 disposals, seven tackles and one goal), Jesse Joyce (23 disposals, four marks, three tackles and a goal) and Michael Manteit (21 disposals, five marks, two tackles and a goal) were among the other top ball winners.

Despite the loss, Liam Stocker practically kicked down the door for AFL selection with a whopping 38-disposal and 13-mark game, as David Cuningham (28 disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal), Sam Ramsay (22 disposals, seven marks and five tackles) and O’Brien (21 disposals, six marks and a goal) also found plenty of the footy. Matthew Owies kicked a straight four goals from 12 touches, six marks and four tackles, while ex-Pie and Crow Ben Crocker slotted 2.3 from 11 touches and five marks up forward. Another ex-AFL listed talent in Toby Wooller returned to Victoria from Queensland to kick 1.2 from 16 disposals, six marks, eight tackles and have six hitouts tor the Blues.

Fellow standalone Queensland side Aspley Hornets also sent a message to the rest of the competition with an absolute belting of one of Victoria’s proudest clubs Port Melbourne. The Hornets blew the Borough away in the opening term with a 10 goal to two first quarter, and whilst the visitors managed to get back to within 43 points at the final break with six goals to two over the next two quarters, the damage was done and the Hornets booted six last quarter goals to win 20.13 (133) to 12.8 (80). Ryan Bastinac was ridiculous with 39 touches, four marks, six tackles and three goals, with Matthew Payne (28 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and two goals), Corey Lyons (27 disposals, five marks and one goal) and Matthew Hammelmann (11 disposals, eight marks and 4.4) among the dominant players for the Hornets. Harvey Hooper (27 disposals, four marks and two tackles) tried hard for the Borough, while Anthony Anastasio and Matthew Signorello both slotted three goals apiece.

Also in the Sunshine State, Brisbane Lions reserves knocked off Essendon’s reserves in a 66-point belting at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex. Rhys Mathieson did his chances of a recall no harm thanks to a lazy 34 touches, eight marks and two goals, while Connor Ballenden (31 disposals, 15 marks and one goal) and Keidean Coleman (29 disposals, nine marks, three tackles and two goals) were also up there with the best for the Lions. First-year player Carter Michael showed he has the capacity to match it at senior level, amassing an impressive 25 touches on debut. Ex-Lion Tom Cutler had a team-high 29 disposals and 10 marks for the Bombers, while Nick Bryan racked up 34 hitouts, five marks and three tackles to show off his around-the-ground work with 27 touches.

The only Queensland team to suffer defeat in the opening round of the VFL was Gold Coast Suns, going down by 67 points to a red-hot Western Bulldogs outfit. The Bulldogs kicked 10 goals to three in the opening half to set up the win, restricting the Suns to just 12 scoring shots as the home team won, 16.13 (109) to 6.6 (42). The potent tall forward combination of Josh Schache (19 disposals, 12 marks and 5.4) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (12 disposals, 2.1) was the issue for the Suns, though father-son talent Ryley West was one of nine individual scorers, picking up 22 disposals, five marks and four disposals in the process. Will Hayes (29 disposals, 11 marks), Riley Garcia (24 disposals, three marks and nine tackles), Lin Jong (24 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and a goal) and Buku Khamis (21 disposals, 11 marks) were other AFL-listed Dogs impressing. For the Suns, Brayden Fiorini (31 disposals, 11 marks and six tackles) and Will Brodie (30 disposals, 10 marks and six tackles) had days out, while talented AFL Academy member Austin Harris kicked two goals from six touches, two marks and three tackles.

In the all-New South Wales battle, Sydney Swans emerged victorious of the GWS GIANTS, booting 12 goals to seven after quarter time to record a 15.6 (96) to 10.10 (70) victory. Colin O’Riordan had 32 disposals and 14 marks, as other Swans-listed talents in Lewis Taylor (32 disposals, eight marks and one goal) and Ryan Clarke (31 disposals, eight marks and four tackles) both racked up the ball with ease. Hayden McLean and Harry Morrison slotted three majors apiece, whilst Paddy McCartin returned to the field to have 19 disposals and nine marks in a promising return. Teenage talents, Sam Thorne (13 disposals, six marks and a goal) and Marc Sheather (10 disposals, three tackles and a goal) also gained some important experience. For the GIANTS, Alex Smout racked up 33 disposals, as Tanner Bruhn showed his AFL debut cannot be too far away with 27 touches and two goals. Josh Green, brother of GIANTS’ Tom stepped up to have 21 touches, as AFL Academy member Josh Fahey had the nine disposals, three marks and three tackles in the loss.

In a couple of the more memorable matches for the VFL, two all-standalone Victorian clashes saw Frankston Dolphins and Williamstown Seagulls win easily against Coburg Lions and Northern Bullants respectively. The Dolphins, led by ex-Bomber Josh Begley (six goals), and ex-Pie and Saint Nathan Freeman (40 disposals), proved too strong for the Lions. Coburg’s Marcus Lentini suffered leather poisoning himself, matching Freeman with a whopping 40 disposals and slotting a goal. Josh D’Intinosante and Mitch Podhajski both slotted three goals in defeat. For the Seagulls, they booted seven goals to one in the first half to set up the victory against the Bullants, as Jake Greiser (29 disposals, eight marks and one goals), Mitch Hibberd (29 disposals, five marks and one goal) and Liam Hunt (29 disposals, one goal) ran rampant. Joel Ottavi slotted four goals from eight scoring shots, while ex-Crow Jordan Gallucci slammed home three goals from 21 touches and six marks. For the Bullants, Tom Wilson had the most touches with 25 and six marks, while ex-GIANT and Roo Paul Ahern had 23 disposals, four marks, four tackles and kicked a goal.

Pies fans had something to smile about over the weekend, with a hard-fought seven-point win over Werribee, 10.9 (69) to 9.8 (62). Second year talent Jay Rantall put his hand up to return to an injury-depleted AFL lineup with 28 disposals, five marks and six tackles, while Tyler Brown (22 disposals), Caleb Poulter (18 disposals, seven marks and a goal) and Ollie Henry (11 disposals, seven marks and two goals) were among the young Pies to make an impact. Ex-Cat Wylie Buzza slotted four goals from 10 touches and four marks, as Tom Gribble (30 disposals, nine marks and five tackles) and Matthew Hanson (28 disposals, four marks and three tackles) did their thing. It was a much more one-sided contest for Richmond’s 40-point win over Sandringham Zebras, as the Tigers piled on 10 goals to three in the first three quarters to lead by 47 points at the final break, before the Zebras cut the deficit back rallying in the final term. Samson Ryan kicked three goals up forward, as Callum Coleman-Jones (22 disposals, six marks, 13 hitouts, four tackles and two goals) found plenty of the football. Jack Ross (34 disposals), Pat Naish (33) and Riley Collier-Dawkins (31) all easily dominated proceedings, whilst for the Zebras, Shaun McKernan was outstanding with 23 disposals, 10 marks, 11 hitouts, four goals and four tackles, while Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals, eight marks and a goal) and Oscar Clavarino (20 disposals, 14 marks) were among the St Kilda-listed talents to impress.

The two Sunday clashes between AFL-aligned clubs resulted in the Casey Demons getting a comfortable 41-point victory over Hawthorn at Box Hill, while Geelong posted a whopping 79-point thrashing over North Melbourne to sit at the top of the VFL ladder. Kade Chandler (25 disposals, 10 marks and a goal), Neville Jetta (25 disposals, 10 marks) and Aaron Vandenberg (25 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and a goal) were busy around the ground, whilst Ben Brown‘s debut in the red and blue (18 disposals, six marks and three goals) was overshadowed by a monstrous performance from Sam Weideman (16 disposals, seven marks and 7.2). Developing Hawk tall Emerson Jeka was one of three in the brown and gold to slot three majors in the loss, while Lachlan Bramble (20 disposals, eight tackles) and Michael Hartley (20 disposals) were among the Hawthorn-listed players to impress. For the Cats, Zach Guthrie had a day out with 27 disposals and 11 marks, as Charlie Constable (26 touches) and Oscar Brownless (24) pressed their cases for a call-up. Josh Jenkins and Ben Jarvis both slotted four goals apiece in the massive win, as two of eight individual goalkickers. Former Bushranger and Hawk’ Mat Walker had three goals from six scoring shots, as well as 16 touches and 10 marks in a dirty day for the Roos, while Dom Tyson (29 touches), Harry Jones (23) and Will Walker (20) tried hard.

VFL ROUND 1 RESULTS:

Richmond 13.17 (95) defeated Sandringham 7.13 (55)
Frankston 20.6 (126) defeated Coburg 14.12 (96)
Western Bulldogs 16.13 (109) defeated Gold Coast Suns 6.6 (42)
Brisbane Lions 15.14 (104) defeated Essendon 5.8 (38)
Sydney Swans 15.6 (96) defeated GWS GIANTS 10.10 (70)
Aspley 20.13 (133) defeated Port Melbourne 12.8 (80)
Carlton 16.12 (108) lost to Southport 17.7 (109)
Werribee 9.8 (62) lost to Collingwood 10.9 (69)
Hawthorn 10.7 (67) lost to Casey Demons 17.16 (118)
Geelong 18.15 (123) defeated North Melbourne 6.8 (44)
Northern Bullants 6.11 (47) lost to Williamstown 14.15 (99)

Picture credit: Southport Sharks Twitter

Classic Contests: Flanders’ first half magic fails to halt Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides locked horns in a classic qualifying final at Ikon Park.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.2 | 9.2 | 11.3 | 12.3 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.1 | 5.3 | 9.7 | 12.11 (83)

NAB League Qualifying Final | Sunday September 1, 2019
Ikon Park, 1:30pm

Draftees in action:

Gippsland – Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, Harrison Pepper
Oakleigh – Nick Bryan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh finished the NAB League regular season just one game adrift from top spot at 11-4, enough to see them earn a week’s rest come wildcard round. They would meet in the qualifying final, the last fixture of the competition’s first post-season weekend, and produce an instant classic full of momentum swings.

Oakleigh boasted the would-be first and second picks of the 2019 draft, but the Power had a greater number of draftees on the park in this bout led by Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. The key absence of skipper Brock Smith would prove vital though, with a certain bottom-aged Oakleigh star having a big impact on the game.

The Chargers stormed out of the blocks with five goals to two in the opening term, spearheaded by in-form forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at what proved to be the scoring end. Needing a spark at 23 points down in the first 15 minutes, the Power turned to Serong who provided a lift with his aggression from midfield.

But it was Trent Baldi who would have an even bigger say with his scoreboard impact, slamming home consecutive majors to keep Gippsland in touch. An opportunistic Reef McInnes goal late hurt the Power though, especially given they had kept Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell relatively quiet to that point. It would have to last.

The second period of play would belong to Flanders, who stole the show with one of the greatest 10-minute patches of elite junior football in history. Pushing forward, the dynamic first round draftee showed up his new Gold Coast teammates on the opposing side with four consecutive goals from over 10 touches to break the game open.

On a day where scoring was hard to come by, Flanders’ feats helped the Power pile on nine of the last 10 goals to claim a 23-point lead at the main break. The seven-goal term also went unanswered up the other end as the usually potent Oakleigh side would require a big lift come the second half with much of its bottom-age brigade standing up to that point.

Keeping with the ebb and flow of the contest, it was Oakleigh’s turn to get on top in the third stanza, but their four goals to two was not enough to reclaim the lead. But having created more clear-cut chances, the Chargers drew back to within single digits to give themselves a sniff heading into the final change, albeit if they had spurned a couple of chances to further cut the deficit.

Ugle-Hagan converted a third major early in the fourth quarter as the heavens opened, turning the game into an all-out slog. With goals hard to come by, Riley Baldi‘s major to push the margin out to over a kick looked a big one, but Oakleigh found avenues to the big sticks when they needed them as skipper Trent Bianco sunk a long bomb, and Nick Stathopoulos booted a screamer to seal the come-from-behind win.

Proving impossible to keep down, Rowell and Anderson led the disposal count among two others to lead the Oakleigh’s charge. Bottom-age jet Will Phillips also had 29 touches and added a goal for the winners, while Serong managed the same feat in a valiant effort for Gippsland. Flanders would finish with 27 disposals to go with his four second quarter goals, while St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly also hit the scoreboard from 23 touches.

Oakleigh’s bottom-age brigade proved somewhat of a difference aside from the heavyweight battle through midfield, with the likes of Finlay Macrae, Bailey Laurie, and Ugle-Hagan producing the goods early on. Under the leadership of Bianco (24 disposals, one goal), they proved they were not just there to simply fill the numbers.

The Chargers would go on to claim a dominant grand final win over Eastern after comfortably accounting for Sandringham in the preliminary final stage, while Gippsland were done-over by the Ranges at the same mark after overcoming Western in the semi-finals. With a wealth of draftees coming from either side, they were two of the premier clubs of the competition and stand to have a great impact come draft time in 2020 as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 AFL Draft club review: Essendon Bombers

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

ESSENDON:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 National AFL Draft: Round 2-5 selections

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

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

ROUND 2

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

ROUND 3

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

ROUND 4

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

ROUND 5

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

2019 AFL Draft Preview: West Coast Eagles

WEST Coast heads into 2020 as arguably the most balanced list across the competition, with depth across most positions and adding Tim Kelly to a side that was already a premiership contender signals what they might be capable of next year. However everything comes at a cost and grabbing yet another A-grade midfielder has cost them their seat at the draft for the vast majority, placed in the 2019 AFL Draft with picks 46, 91, 108 and 126 – the worst of any club in the competition. The big plus is them not needing a great deal, with only players to replace other ageing talents as the main goal.

CURRENT PICKS: 46, 91, 108, 126.

NEXT GEN ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS – COMBINE INVITES: Nil.

LIST NEEDS:

Overall depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Coming in at pick 46, it is difficult to determine who might be there by then, and what the Eagles might look at. They might try and add a mature-age prospect to further strengthen their list and bring an immediate player into the fold. Whether that could be a Cole Gerloff or a Frank Anderson to add something in multiple positions, or if they go taller for key utility Joel Ottavi or key forward Jake Riccardi, it is certainly a pick that could go either way. If the Eagles look to youth, the talls available might be Charlie Comben, Callum Jamieson or Nick Bryan who could fill a long-term role as forward-rucks, or going smaller, if Sam Philp is still there they might pounce, or look locally to the likes of Jake Pasini, Riley Garcia, Chad Warner or Trey Ruscoe to fill a need. If high-flying Mitch Georgiades was still on the board, West Coast would have to consider him as a long-term key forward replacement.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

There is not much the Eagles can do other than trade down to try and bridge the gap between their first and second picks. The Eagles could try and swing a deal with next year’s picks but might struggle given their draft placement, and will more likely head to the draft with one or two picks in the third or fourth rounds, which is the downside of being a strong side that has added more class and talent to its list over the off-season.

REMAINING CROP:

As mentioned, the Eagles could well trade down, but if predicting pick 46 was difficult, then 91 or any others the Eagles use are near on impossible. They will just have to assess which players are left by the time their pick rolls around, but be comfortable in knowing the evenness of the draft in the second half means they could get a fourth round value pick in the seventh round. They will have a chance to snap up some players before the rookie draft which is always a bonus, and may well pick up a slider from a player who due to injury or other circumstances might be floating around. Riley Garcia is a local player who while he should be off the board before then, would be one too hard to ignore, while Isaac Wareham is another who could add a long-term need to the team. Ben Sokol is a readymade forward who has been dominant in the WAFL this season, while a sliding injured tall like Jack Bell could potentially fall in their laps. It is difficult to calculate, but the Eagles will at least be able to find some diamonds in the rough despite the late picks.

*Picture credit: Michael Farnell – Sports Imagery Australia

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Sydney Swans

SYDNEY will come into the 2019 AFL draft looking to pick up a non-Academy member in the top 10 for the first time since 2011, with the Swans’ continued regeneration bringing their future to the fore. While the Swans look set to select long-term midfield replacements, they will also add to their depth of youngsters.

CURRENT PICKS: 5, 25, 32, 44, 76, 81

NEXT GEN ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS PROSPECTS WITH COMBINE INVITATIONS: Hamish Ellem (Academy), Luke Parks (Academy)

LIST NEEDS:

Inside midfielder with speed
Ruck depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Having an open high-end draft pick is something which will be slightly unfamiliar to Swans fans given the extended success of their side, with Gary Rohan (pick 6, 2011) their last non-Academy top 10 selection. An injection of pace into the midfield could bode well for the Swans, with plenty of options hovering around the mark. But a bid on GWS Academy prospect Tom Green looks likely at pick 5, pointing towards that long-term midfield depth. Sam Flanders appears to be the choice for the Swans, with Caleb Serong the option option Sydney is believed to be deciding between. A punt on Brodie Kemp would require patience given he is set to miss almost the entire 2020 season, but he would also be a great inside midfield option. Deven Robertson is another in that position, but it appears Sydney is deciding between the two Gippsland players.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Swans could package their two second round selections (25 and 32) to move up the board and ensure they snare a player like Cooper Stephens, Jay Rantall or Robertson, but that could cut off some potential bargains at those picks. With their academy choices unlikely to breach the top end, trading for late picks will not be much of a priority.

REMAINING CROP:

Excitement should come with the Swans’ current hand, as it could bring in a couple of great sliders in the second round. With Daniel Menzel delisted and Tom Papley a trade target, gifted medium forwards Dylan Williams, Elijah Taylor, and Cameron Taheny could enter the fold, while Hugo Ralphsmith has also been mentioned in top 30 contention. Should they opt for a midfielder, Thomson Dow would suit the Swans well while Darcy Chirgwin and Sam Philp would be solid options. Ruck depth could also be filled with picks 25, 32, or 44 as the likes of Charlie Comben and Nick Bryan may well be snapped up early. Given their tendency to target outside speed in recent drafts, those types may be off the agenda, and slightly taller types in the form of Hamish Ellem and Luke Parks could fill out their draft with later picks.