Tag: Nick Coffield

Classic Contests: Coffield winner sees Knights sink the Stingrays

Featured Image: Robert Prezioso/AFL Media/Getty Images


IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Dandenong Stingrays and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017, when the Knights hosted their county counterparts in an early-season heart-stopper.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 6
Saturday May 6, 10:30am
Preston City Oval

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 0.1 | 5.3 | 6.3 | 10.9 (69)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.6 | 5.7 | 7.12 | 9.12 (66)


Northern: J. Shea 4, N. Coffield 2, J. Petruccelle, S. Binion, O. Stapleton, B. Gillard
T. De Koning 3, J. Nanscawen 3, R. Piper, L. Young, H. Clark


Northern: J. Shea, J. Petruccelle, O. Wilson, S. Binion, J. Grace, M. Andrews
A. Paterson, T. Murphy, J. Davies, T. Dekoning, B. Williams, W. Hamill

Draftees in action:

Northern: Nick Coffield, Jack Petruccelle
Dandenong: Hunter Clark, Tom De Koning, Tom Murphy, Lachie Young, Sam Fletcher, Bailey Williams, Will Hamill

>> Scouting Notes: 2017 TAC Cup – Round 6

There wasn’t much splitting the Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays as they readied to face-off in Round 6 of the 2017 TAC Cup season. Both regions sat comfortably in the top eight with 3-2 records, but were searching for their first set of consecutive wins having struggled to string together consistent form to that point. Barring a draw, one of the two sides would do so in this game.

A bunch of top-end junior talent missed out on taking to Preston City Oval for the clash, with Northern going in without Patrick Naish and Tom McKenzie, while the likes of Aiden Bonar, Luke Davies-Uniacke, and Oscar Clavarino were among Dandenong’s glaring top-age absentees. Still, quality remained in the form of Nick Coffield and Jack Petruccelle for the home side, with Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning among the most promising Stingrays to feature in the line-up.

Boasting arguably a greater depth of talent, the Stingrays sought to take toll as they began proceedings kicking towards the slightly advantageous end. Two majors was the best they could manage from eight scoring shots, though keeping Northern goalless helped to build a handy quarter-time buffer. After breaking five goals ahead in the second term, that lead was slashed in the as Northern piled on its first five goals to remain just four points adrift at the main break.

The game began to close up a touch in the third period as Dandenong looked to consolidate. The Stingrays boasted a 15-point lead at the last break, and stretched it to 21 in the final term, but the Knights weren’t done yet. Having only managed six goals across the first three quarters, Northern sunk home four late majors to snatch a memorable home victory, with Coffield swinging forward to claim the winning goal. Pressure machine Ollie Wilson also stamped his impact, with the most important of his 11 tackles coming in the dying stages as his Dandenong opponent ran into an open goal.

Jamison Shea was named best for his four-goal performance in the navy, black, and white. Petruccelle was lively with 20 disposals and a goal, while Coffield finished with two majors from 22 touches, and the likes of Mitch Andrews (32 disposals, 12 marks) and Braedyn Gillard (23 disposals, 10 tackles) also made an impact. Angus Paterson was Dandenong’s best with seven marks down back, followed closely by the likes of Tom Murphy (29 disposals) and De Koning (three goals). Fellow draftees Bailey Williams (19 hitouts) and Will Hamill were also named among the best, while Clark racked up 34 touches and laid seven tackles in the loss.

After finally claiming consecutive wins, the Knights would go on to add just three more for the remainder of the season. They finished eighth at 7-10-1, losing convincingly to Oakleigh in their elimination final dig. Dandenong (12-6) improved to third come the end of the regular season, and while the Stingrays pulled off a terrific finals win over Eastern, they were knocked out by eventual premier, Geelong one game away from the Grand Final.

Classic Contests: Cannons hold off wasteful Knights

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 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to…

2016 TAC Cup, Round 13
Saturday July 9, 11:00am
Highgate Reserve

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 2.7 | 4.12 | 8.14 (62)
CALDER CANNONS 4.2 | 7.2 | 8.4 | 10.7 (67)


Northern: C. McKay 2, J. Shea 2, L. Murphy, M. Perry, A. Federico, M. Signorello
L. Middleton 2, T. Burnside 2, M. Saad 2, L. Bramble, N. Balta, M. Lewis, B. Ronke


Northern: M. Lentini, M. Signorello, L. Murphy, E. Penrith, L. Bunker, C. Roberts
B. Ronke, J. Velissaris, H. Blythe, M. Saad, B. Caluzzi, J. Owen

Draftees in action:

Northern: Nick Coffield*, Patrick Naish*, Matthew Signorello, Lachlan Murphy
Calder: Noah Balta*, Mitchell Lewis, Ben Ronke, Zach Guthrie

* – denotes bottom-aged

Calder and Northern ensured their only meeting for the 2016 TAC Cup season would be a close one, with the more accurate Cannons made to work for a five-point victory on home turf. While either side boasted four eventual draftees each, the gap in their respective form was evidenced by Calder’s four straight wins to sit sixth at 6-6, while Northern had won two of its last four games to improve to 3-9 in 11th place.

The Knights’ crop of high-end talent was propped up a touch more by bottom-agers, including the likes of Patrick Naish and Nick Coffield, with top-ager Patrick Lipinski absent for the clash. On the other hand, all three of Calder’s 2016 draftees took the field, with Ben Ronke among them and adjudged his side’s best on the day. As the action showed, that slight experience advantage paid dividends for Calder in typically tough Highgate conditions.

True to form, the Cannons broke out to an early lead at 4.2 to 2.2 come the first break, while Northern spurned the chance to hit back in the second, registering behinds with each of its five scoring shots as Calder put away its three chances to create a 25-point buffer heading into half time.

The trend continued into the third term as Northern desperately tried to claw its way back into the contest, with an added 2.5 setting up what would be a tense finish at just 16 points adrift. Having finally broken the kicking curse with 4.2 to Calder’s 2.3, it proved too little and too late with the Cannons holding on to a five-point lead as the final siren sounded.

Ronke’s 23 disposals, 10 tackles, and one goal for the winners helped him earn best-on honours, with the VFL-listed Jean-Luc Velissaris and Muhammad Saad also thereabouts. Fellow Coburg pair Marcus Lentini (30 disposals) and Luke Bunker (23) were among Northern’s best, with Adelaide draftees Matthew Signorello and Lachlan Murphy managed 27 disposals and a goal each.

In terms of the other future AFL-listed players afield, Noah Balta and Mitchell Lewis were both kept to under 10 disposals and a goal each, while Zach Guthrie had 11 touches. For Northern, Naish had 18 disposals and Coffield, 15 as bottom-agers. The Knights would have two players drafted in 2016 and four in 2017, while Calder laid claim to three and one over the next two years respectively.

Both sides dropped slightly come the end of the regular season in 2016, as Calder held on to a finals spot in seventh with its 8-9 record, only to be bundled out of the post-season upon the first hurdle. Northern finished last of the Victorian sides in 12th, adding just one more win after Round 13 to sit at 4-14.

Classic Contests: Dragons breathe fire after half-time

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 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Sandringham Dragons and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, and as has been the case the last few years with Sandringham winning each contest between the sides since, the Dragons produced one of the best second half performances in recent times, booting 15 goals to three to win by a whopping 90 points.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 7.11 (53)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 6.5 | 7.6 | 14.9 | 22.11 (143)

Round 1 | Saturday, March 26 2016
Ikon Park, 1.30pm

In what would become an ominous sign of things to come from the Sandringham outfit, the Dragons would shake off a lack of AFL Academy members – only Jack Scrimshaw was in the Level Two Academy – to end 2016 with five players drafted in the top 11 and eight overall with ridiculous top-end talent guiding them through the finals series. But rewind to the start of the season, and the Dragons’ first clash was at Ikon Park against Northern Knights who themselves had just the one AFL Academy member at Level One in Richmond father-son prospect, Patrick Naish.

From the first bounce, it was clear the Dragons were going to be a team to beat, booting 6.5 to 2.0 and holding a 29-point advantage heading into quarter time. It could have been greater with improved accuracy, and no doubt by half-time Dragons fans might have been a little worried. Northern had cut the deficit to a manageable 18 points, but luckily for the Dragons, the Knights had also struggled in the conditions, booting 2.6 to Sandringham’s 1.1. Both side had failed to make the most of their opportunities by the main break, with 11.12 between them, and Sandringham still on top.

It was after the break that spectators got a glimpse of what the Dragons outfit was capable of. Sandringham slammed home a stunning seven goals to one to effectively end the contest in a brutal 25 minutes. The Dragons booted 7.3 to 1.4, with inaccuracy again not helping the Knights at their second home in Ikon Park. With game done and dusted, most sides might have taken the foot off the pedal, but not this Dragons outfit that stepped it up another notch again with eight goals to two in the final term to run away a whopping 22.11 (143) to 7.11 (53) winner. It was a remarkable win for a side with talent to burn and points to prove.

Hayden McLean snagged five goals from 12 disposals and eight marks – four contested – as a massive force up forward. Future pick two, Tim Taranto played his best football in the finals series, but he gave everyone a glimpse of his future potential that day with three goals from 21 touches and six marks. Lachlan Filipovic was named the best by the Dragons for his work through the ruck with 23 hitouts from eight touches, three marks and four tackles. Oliver Florent was another in the best thanks to 17 disposals, one mark and five tackles, while the names of future AFL players included Will Setterfield, Cam Polson, Andrew McGrath and Corey Lyons. McGrath became the number one overall pick, and started his year with 18 touches, three marks, two tackles and a goal, while Setterfield recorded 22 touches, three marks, nine tackles and two goals. Polson (20 disposals, two marks, three tackles and 1.2) and Lyons (20 disposals, five marks and 1.2) also hit the scoreboard in the massive win.

For the Knights, Naish found plenty of it trying to run in transition with 20 touches – 12 handball receives – and three marks, while future top 10 pick, Nick Coffield racked up 16 disposals, seven marks (two contested) and three tackles in his first game as a bottom-age prospect. Lachlan Wilson (15 disposals, five marks, five tackles and two goals) was deemed the clear standout for the Knights, while Northern also had a number of future AFL players running around. Matthew Signorello (18 disposals, six marks – one contested – five tackles and a goal) and Patrick Lipinski (12 disposals, six marks – three contested – two tackles and 1.3) were both named among the best, while Lachlan Murphy had a day out feasting on 26 disposals, 14 handball receives, two marks and three tackles. Luke Bunker was not far behind with 25 touches, 12 marks and five tackles in a hard working effort.

As history would go on to show, the Dragons would win the premiership in magnificent style, defeating Murray Bushrangers in the 2016 TAC Cup Grand Final and dominating the top end of the draft. Northern would finish 12th, just 0.68 per cent behind 11th placed Bendigo Pioneers.

Classic Contests: Ranges hold off Knights in tight thriller at Box Hill

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 it is a clash between sides who would have played in Round 1 this year. Today we travel back in time to a late-2017 encounter between the Eastern Ranges and Northern Knights, who played out a thriller at Box Hill City Oval.

EASTERN RANGES 2.2 | 6.6 | 8.10 | 10.11 (71)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.4 | 4.5 | 6.6 | 9.8 (62)

Round 14 | Saturday, July 29, 2017
Box Hill City Oval, 2.00pm

With the season winding down in late July, 2017 and only five rounds remaining, two metropolitan clubs faced off at Box Hill in a mid-table clash. Just two points separated the sides with Northern Knights sitting in sixth with six wins and a draw, while Eastern Ranges were seventh with just the six wins flat. Both were a couple of games clear of eighth and ninth Gippsland Power and Calder Cannons respectively. Eastern was closing the gap on Northern having knocked off Gippsland Power by nine goals the week before on the road, while Northern had fallen to Dandenong Stingrays by 29 points a week earlier.

Heading into the clash, the Ranges had a number of highly fancied prospects in Jaidyn Stephenson, Sam Hayes, Thomas North and Ryley Stoddart, with the likes of Cody Hirst, Xavier Fry and Harrison Nolan also putting in strong consistent performances throughout the season. A couple of 16-year-old talents were also making their debuts for the Ranges with James Ross and Jamieson Rossiter playing for the first time off the back of the Under 16 Championships. For Northern, first round prospect Nick Coffield was the standout in the side, while they also had speedster Jack Petruccelle who could turn the game in a moment. Aside from the AFL talent, the Knights would go on to have a number of VFL stars on the books as well, namely Marcus Lentini and Braedyn Gillard – the latter of whom would suffer a broken elbow in his top-age year the following season.

The first quarter was a tight tussle with the Knights taking the early advantage by just two points at quarter time. They continued to push, but the firepower of the Ranges was starting to come out as the team booted 4.4 to 2.1 to take back the lead and race out to a 13-point advantage at the main break. It proved to be a real difference in the game, with both sides converting two majors in the third term, though the Ranges could have had more with an inaccurate 2.4 to 2.1, pushing the lead out to 16. A more accurate Eastern side had to hold on in the final term as the Knights came charging home, booting 3.2 to Eastern’s 2.1 and get within nine points at the final siren.

Hirst was named best on ground for his four goals off 19 disposals, three marks, six tackles, two clearances and two rebounds with the future Sydney talent showing off his athletic abilities as a bottom-ager. Hayes was phenomenal through the ruck, having 30 hitouts and seven clearances to go with 17 disposals, three marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and a goal, while Stephenson (17 disposals, four marks, six tackles and four inside 50s) was prominent up the ground. Stoddart (15 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) continued his good form in defence alongside Nolan (12 disposals, five marks and four rebounds). Rossiter finished the game with 11 touches and a goal, as Ross also booted a major from four disposals. In terms of the big ball winners, it was Kye Quirk (28 disposals, four inside 50s), Jordan Lynch (26 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s) and MacKenzie Doreian (23 disposals, three marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) working hard with North (19 disposals, eight tackles and four clearances).

The Knights found plenty of the ball themselves, as Gillard had a day out with 36 disposals (16 contested), four tackles, seven clearances, four rebounds and two goals, partnering up with Mitchell Andrews (31 disposals, eight marks, two inside 50s, five rebounds and a goal). Lentini (24 disposals, dive marks, 11 tackles, five clearances and three rebounds) and Patrick Howe (25 disposals, six marks and six rebounds) were also among the big ball winners, as was Sam Binion (20 disposals, five marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal). From the two future draftees, Coffield picked up 19 touches, six marks, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while Petruccelle had 16 touches, four marks, three clearances and four inside 50s.

Both sides would end up making finals with Eastern Ranges finishing sixth and Northern Knights, eighth. It would be a forgettable day at Victoria Park for those elimination finals as the Knights were completely destroyed by Oakleigh Chargers, while Eastern was on the receiving end of one of the best comebacks in TAC Cup history when Dandenong Stingrays came from the clouds to overrun them. The Ranges would end up with their best draft haul ever though in what was a terrific year for them,

Keeping Tabs: Standout performances from Round 19

AS the end of the season draws near and the Rising Star conversation heats up, some familiar races return to the Keeping Tabs list after standout performances.

Jack Higgins

It’s not often a first-year player that kicks arguably the greatest goal ever, but Higgins may have done just that. How a first-year player can earn a spot in the reigning premier’s starting 22 baffles me. Richmond plays a chaotic, but clever brand of football that has seen many of the competition’s great sides break beneath it. On paper, they are the best defensive side in the competition, and second behind Melbourne in attack. At pick 17 in last year’s draft, Higgins has more than stepped up to the challenge. Unselfish with the footy, and instinctive around goal, the young tiger supplied onlookers with yet another standout performance. He finished with 14 contested possessions, recording the highest contested possession rate (70 per cent),  as well as tying first in ground ball gets (12) with Collingwood’s Taylor Adams. Though usually a great assist up forward, Higgins was able to finish with two for the match. Driven by pure instincts, the Tigers have secured a future star in Higgins for both his gifts with a microphone and hunger on the pitch. Despite his lengthier period on the bench, Higgins still managed to tie second in pressure acts (22) with skipper Trent Cotchin. The rest of his stat sheet is just as impressive at five clearances, five intercept possessions without a turnover. Surely a game to remember, for the record 19 wins at the MCG and possibly the most replayed goal we are ever going to see.

Paddy Dow

The footy gods offered young Dow an opportunity to hit his strides this weekend, giving Carlton a rare showing of dominance over the Gold Coast Suns. With one of his two goals nominated for goal of week, the pacy midfielder proved too good on the board despite spending 86 per cent of his time in Carlton’s defensive half. Rip out the stat sheet and Dow’s impact becomes even more evident. Recording 18 disposals and 11 contested possessions at a 78 per cent disposal efficiency, Dow remained vital around stoppages with three clearances and four tackles. His pressure acts topped off at 17 and he gained 314 metres for the day. Though unlikely to be in Rising Star conversations, Dow is showing steady growth despite Carlton’s poor season. Hopefully 2019 will allow the young midfielder more room to perform with a better built Carlton side. 

Andrew Brayshaw

Coming off a groin injury sustained against Melbourne, Brayshaw’s comeback brought one of his best performances for the season. Despite the poor result, Fremantle’s young stars stepped up to challenge, with the Dockers’ number two pick leading the charge. Brayshaw finished with 25 disposals and nine contested possessions. Despite an average disposal efficiency of 64 percent, Brayshaw made his impact obvious finishing with four tackles, two clearances, two rebound 50s, 19 pressure acts and three free kicks. Finding himself on the scoreboard, the number two pick finished with a goal and six score involvements, having a hand in many of Fremantle’s link ups.  It’s evident Fremantle are doing well with their debutantes, bringing in the next generation’s champions. These boys could be highly decorated players in a few years if developed right, and could make history with Fremantle’s first premiership. The sky’s the limit.

Aaron Naughton

Though intended to play up forward, it seems Naughton’s work in the backline was too good to pass up. Recording 20 disposals and 13 contested possessions, Naughton suffered a beating from Port’s persistent forward line. Despite the onslaught, the youngster managed an outstanding 15 intercept possessions and two contested marks. He won all three of his defensive one on ones and recorded a contested possession rate of 68.4 per cent. He recorded high intercept numbers, Naughton still turned the ball over six times. Unfortunately for the youngster, it seemed he was fighting a losing battle from the second quarter, but he would not let this stop him. He kept his stat sheet more than impressive, recording four tackles, three inside 50s, four rebound 50s, three free kicks and four one percenters. With the Bulldogs at full strength, we hope to see Naughton cement himself in a position and properly improve on his development.

Bailey Banfield

Fremantle’s resident tagger, Banfield was given the greatest challenge of his career in having to minimise the impact of Hawthorn’s, Tom Mitchell. A success? Not quite. Mitchell went on to deliver a 42-disposal game with two goals, but Banfield had an impact of his own despite the challenging task. Stepping up around the stoppage, Banfield picked up five clearances. His superb pressure continued with six tackles and 25 pressure acts, with 19 disposals and eight contested.  A disposal efficiency of 58 per cent let him down at times, but considering his tagging role, Banfield saw a decent amount of the footy. At 20 years-old, Banfield has already been entrusted with one of the biggest individual responsibilities in tagging the opposition’s best. Considering his experience, he is doing okay. 

Sam Taylor

Taylor had yet another solid game in GWS’s backline against St. Kilda. The Saints played some strong footy up until the final quarter, so Taylor had his works cut out for him. He collected 10 disposals and five contested with a 90 per cent disposal efficiency. He brought clean hands to everything, picking up five intercept possessions (zero turnovers) and three marks. He laid five tackles, recorded one rebound 50, 10 pressure acts and five spoils. He has no problem attacking the football and makes the most of his possessions. His presence around the contest is evident enough from his stats, playing close to his man and applying intense pressure. Taylor is developing nicely in the GWS backline in his seven games. We could be looking at a future All-Australian backman in the making.

Nick Coffield

Coffield found his way back into St. Kilda’s side in their match against the Giants. Though lower than usual for the clean defender, Coffield still managed a 71 per cent disposal efficiency from his 14 disposals. He picked up four intercept possessions and won both his contested defensive one on ones. He is undoubtedly one of the cleanest first-year players, and determined not to turn it over. He recorded three rebound 50s, eight pressure acts and four marks (one contested). Coffield also saw his way up the ground where he recorded two inside 50s and two score involvements. He also impressively turned GWS great, Josh Kelly, inside out after thwarting his tackle on Saint’s defensive 50. Coffield is too clean to be played anywhere else for the Saints. His effectiveness with the footy is invaluable and hopefully will be utilised more in the future.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 8

IN Round 8, we make an exception from the first-year draftee rule with two debutants from the 2016 draft making an impact – and a third in just his third game – being the match-winner in a crunch game. Here are some of the top draftees from round eight.

Ben Ronke

Third-gamer Ben Ronke kicked off the round in remarkable style, booting no less than seven goals including four in the first quarter and the sealer, to get the Swans over the line against Hawthorn. Having been taken in the 2016 Rookie Draft by the Swans, the former Calder Cannon made the most of his opportunities inside-50. He collected 11 disposals two marks and 10 tackles (including seven inside-50 tackles), spending 88 per cent of the game in the attacking half. He created chances for himself and his teammates through relentless pressure and capitalised when he found time and space. It certainly appears as if the Swans have unearthed yet another gem from the rookie list.

Isaac Cumming

On debut for the Giants, the flashy 2016 first round draftee showed promise off the half back line and along the wings. He amassed 14 disposals, repelled from the back-50 twice, sent the ball inside the attacking-50 three times, and gained 205 metres. Renowned for his speed, run and carry and precise foot skills, it appears difficult for Cumming to keep his spot in the side once some of the Giants big names return from injury. However, he did himself no harm in the loss to West Coast, showing why he was rated so highly. Cumming is another graduate of the GWS Academy.

Brayden Ainsworth

The baby-faced Brayden Ainsworth produced an outstanding second quarter to kick-start his AFL career. The second-round draftee from last year found the majority of his 15 possessions on the outside of the contest, but also showcased his toughness on the inside, laying eight tackles. In what was a very solid debut game, the Western Australian native will look to build on his endurance base and foot skills throughout the remainder of the year, having spent just 67 per cent of time on the ground.

Lochie O’Brien

In Carlton’s first win of the season, Lochie O’Brien provided great run and spread from the contest to worry his Essendon opponents, collecting eight marks as a result. O’Brien came into the year having been regarded as one of the best kicks in the draft pool and his neat skills were on display on Saturday afternoon. Of his 15 disposals, 13 of them were kicks, highlighting the Blues faith in his kicking off half-back and the wing. He gained 380 metres and continued to build on his time on ground.

Ed Phillips

Away to Fremantle is a reasonably tough start to your AFL career, but dashing outside midfielder Ed Phillips was one of the Saints’ best players in his first game at the highest level. He was involved in multiple chains of handballs through the centre of the ground, linking up well with his teammates. Phillips collected an impressive 24 disposals, delivering the ball at 79 per cent efficiency along with wings, while recording just one turnover for the game. The former Oakleigh Charger also tallied five intercept possessions, three marks and five tackles. Of particular promise were his time on ground figures (84 per cent time on ground) which indicates he has the aerobic fitness to run out matches. Given St.Kilda’s current state, Phillips, along with Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield, should be given every chance to play week-in-week-out, providing they maintain their early season output.

Andrew Brayshaw

The second overall draft pick from the most recent national draft, Andrew Brayshaw, continues to front up and show promising signs every week. Playing mostly on the ball in an outside-leaning role, Brayshaw’s balance and well-roundedness was apparent, as he managed 16 disposals (69 per cent efficiency), five marks and six tackles. His ability to find the football, work hard both ways, apply plenty of pressure and use it cleanly on the outside have been impressive so far in 2018. As he builds on his time on ground, Brayshaw will only improve. Fremantle will no-doubt be pleased with his production early in the year.

Adam Cerra

Classy, smooth moving midfielder Adam Cerra once again hit the scoreboard and made the most of his possessions in the win over St.Kilda. The top five draft pick spent much of the game on-ball, where his exciting combination of polish on the outside and contested ball winning on the inside were evident. Cerra tallied 14 disposals (eight of which were contested) at a strong 79 per cent efficiency to go with three tackles and two majors. His scoreboard impact has been terrific for a 18-year-old, having booted six goals in his opening seven matches. The signs suggest it will not be long before Cerra joins the likes of Nat Fyfe, Lachie Neale and potentially Andrew Brayshaw to form an elite midfield combination.

Tom McCartin

In the absence of superstar centre half-forward Lance Franklin, the youngest player in the competition, Tom McCartin, was handed his debut by John Longmire. The third-tall forward, who is known for his extremely high endurance, was seen pushing up the ground and helping out in the backline when he wasn’t providing a target in attack, as a testament to his work rate. Although he didn’t hit the scoreboard, McCartin, the brother of St.Kilda’s Paddy, tallied eight disposals, clunked four marks and laid three tackles. The Swans coaching staff may look to make the most of his strong work rate by using him in a linkup role, not dissimilar to the one Tom Lynch plays for the Crows.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 5

ROUND FIVE was huge for the first year players, with plenty stepping up to earn a spot on this weekly list. Most of the names here have been seen before, but we give credit when it is due. We’re hoping to see some fresh faces in the coming rounds and for the players below to ramp up their game more and more with every passing round. There are still plenty of rounds left so there’s no telling what could come next.

Tim Kelly

Kelly played some outstanding football against the Power over the weekend. In all he picked up 20 disposals, of which half were contested with an 80 per cent efficiency. He displayed 27 pressure acts, laid five tackles, kicked a goal, had four clearances and three score involvements. Kelly is a well-rounded player and has demonstrated countless times that he can do plenty to help his side. He has also kicked at least one goal a game since the start of the season showing his reliability and consistency thus far.

Adam Cerra

Cerra is well on his way to becoming a fan favourite at Optus Stadium. He has shown some incredible promise on game day, with the Bulldogs clash being no different. Cerra snagged himself 15 disposals (four contested) at an 87 percent efficiency. He also went on to kick two goals with eight total score involvements. Cerra is smooth around the football with incredible composure at the elite level. He works hard around the contests, illustrated through his impressive 24 pressure acts and four tackles (two inside 50s). This medium forward is being developed by the right team it seems with impressive first years all throughout the side.

Jaidyn Stephenson

His efficiency could use some work, but he is getting his opportunities and making most of them count. Capping off his game with 15 disposals, four contested and two goals, Stephenson went hard in the ANZAC match. He picks his spots and moments well, and capitalises well off errors. He had 19 disposals and four tackles for the game in all. He is continuing to make his mark as a forward for Collingwood and is doing so with an intense attack on the game.

Mitch Crowden

Fremantle’s first years have been dominating the competition so far. Along with his fellow draftees, Crowden is playing very efficient football. With 17 disposals at an 88 per cent efficiency, Crowden is continuing to perform at a high standard. His presence throughout the ground is clear, laying five tackles, 21 pressure acts and having nine score involvements. Developing alongside the likes of Cerra and Brayshaw, Crowden is likely to become part of the next biggest elite midfield for the AFL.

Nick Coffield

Once again, Coffield showed off his patented smooth, clean football. With excellent composure on and around the ball, Coffield is providing some much-needed efficiency around the midfield. In total, he finished with 18 disposals at an 83 per cent efficiency, with five score involvements. He is working hard to earn his spot within the side and it shows on the field. Hopefully his efforts remain at this level for a long time.

Andrew Brayshaw

A fair game for Brayshaw with 17 disposals, four contested at a 71 percent efficiency. The number two pick in the 2017 National AFL Draft is slowly evolving to suit the elite level. He performed well off and on the ball, laying five tackles, 17 pressure acts with three score involvements. Brayshaw needs to polish up his footy in some areas as shown through his five turnovers. However, if he continues to work, he is well on his way to one day dominating the game.

Lachie Fogarty

Geelong’s new recruits are hard to separate from the rest of their side due to their elite performances. In their match against Port, Fogarty had an excellent run of it. While 17 disposals with nine contested is a decent stat, it’s Fogarty’s ten tackles that really caught my eye, all of which were completed without giving away a free. He also slotted away a goal and had five score involvements. Fogarty is developing well with Geelong and should be watched closely in the coming years.

Matt Guelfi

After a stellar debut in round four, Guelfi managed earn a spot in the side for the Anzac Day match in just his second game. A surprise prospect for Essendon, Guelfi has shown no issue adapting to the elite level. A 15-disposal game at 87 per cent efficiency made him a highlight for a struggling Bombers. He had an impressive four intercept possessions as well as 20 pressure acts. With a better Essendon side, it is likely his performance will only improve.

Paddy Dow

Dow attacked the football hard over the weekend, racking up 15 disposals (11 contested) with an 80 per cent efficiency. He is a highlight for Carlton, and it is good to see his efforts still high despite a slow start to the season. Dow is fierce around the contests, with an impressive seven clearances on the weekend, only second to Patrick Cripps (eight). He laid three tackles and had five score involvements. Dow is a confident footballer who knows how to back himself. Hopefully we continue to see his level of football continue to rise in the coming years.

Lochie O’Brien

O’Brien showed some great promise in his second game in the navy blue. The number 10 draft pick played some efficient football, running at 73 per cent efficiency  from his 15 disposals (six contested). He had a few good midfield clearances, laid three tackles and earned plenty of the ball off Carlton’s flanks. With his athletic background, O’Brien should be fine to earn more of the football in the coming games.

Cam Rayner

Despite his efficiency in goal kicking, the number one pick again showed great attack on the ball in the forward half. Kicking one goal and two behinds, Rayner earned a handful of opportunities to score big, but continues to fail on the execution. He is a standout for the Lions and is slowly developing a unique brand of football. He is hungry around the ball as demonstrated through six contested possessions out of a total of 11. He needs to improve his efficiency further, but it can be explained through his high number of contested possesions.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 4

ROUND four provided many young prospects with the opportunity to build on their starts. Many have been backed in by their respective clubs and look likely to feature in most games throughout the year. This week we looked at the best performing players draftees and which of your players you should keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

Jaidyn Stephenson

Stephenson starred for the Pies in their upset victory over the Crows in a performance which resulted in the round four Rising Star nomination. In wet and windy conditions, last year’s fifth overall pick kicked a game-high five goals, collected, 13 disposals at 92 per cent efficiency and took four marks, helping the Magpies to a seemingly unlikely victory. Stephenson has featured in all four rounds in his debut season, showcasing his blistering speed and strong aerial ability. He will continue to add plenty of excitement to the Collingwood side.

Cameron Rayner

Despite the hefty loss to the reigning premiers, last year’s number one draft pick produced the best performance of his young career so far. Spending the majority of the game across half-forward Rayner collected 22 touches (12 contested possessions), took four marks (including three contested), laid three tackles, launched the ball inside 50 on six occasions and kicked a goal in his first game on the MCG for premiership points. After showing glimpses of his undoubted potential in the first three games, this was Rayner’s most complete performance to date.

Mitch Crowden

Fremantle’s Mitch Crowden has made an immediate impact at AFL level, having made his debut in round two after heading west as a rookie selection. The South Australian’s ball-winning ability and toughness was on show throughout the National Under 18 Championships last year, and the inside midfielder has been able to display these traits early in his AFL career. In the loss to GWS, he amassed 15 disposals, five marks, seven tackles and had 22 pressure acts playing across half-forward and the midfield. Having set a strong foundation and cemented his spot in the Dockers side for the time being, with Crowden to now focus on improving his disposal efficiency.

Bailey Banfield

Banfield has fitted into the ‘Freo’ lineup terrifically well in 2018, having been recruited from WAFL club Claremont. His AFL-ready body allowed Banfield to spend considerable time in the midfield from the get-go, alongside the likes of Lachie Neale and Nat Fyfe. Having been used as a tagger in previous rounds, Banfield played a predominately outside role against the Giants, finishing the game with 17 disposals (15 uncontested at 88 per cent efficiency), five marks (all uncontested), three marks and a goal. Banfield has proven his ability on both the inside and outside and will be given every opportunity to fully establish himself in the Dockers on-ball brigade.

Aaron Naughton

The key defender continues to improve in his first season at AFL level. The Bulldogs have a couple of promising key defenders on their hands in Marcus Adams and Lewis Young but last seasons ninth overall pick could be the best on the lot. Having featured in all four games so far, Naughton would have taken enormous confidence from last weekends game, where he was able to restrict the influence of Joe Daniher. This week, he again showcased his toughness,  ability to read the play and drift in to take intercept marks. With more and more games under his belt, Naughton will firm as a leader in the Bulldogs defence soon enough. Made a couple of errors, but has progressed very well for a young key position player.

Nick Coffield

After being introduced to AFL football last weekend against the Crows at Etihad Stadium, a trip down to Geelong was always going to be difficult. However the first round draftee once again showed class and composure well beyond his years. Coffield racked up 17 disposals at 82 per cent efficiency (including eight contested possessions), seven intercept possessions, four marks, five tackles and five rebounds. He was deployed across half-back where his foot skills and decision making stood out. He looks to be justifying his early selection already.

Lachlan Fogarty

The hard working, small midfielder/forward showed off his ability to find the football in just his fourth game of senior football for the cats, amassing 18 disposals – 11 of which were contested. Used across half-forward for much of the day, Fogarty also laid three tackles and propelled the ball inside 50 on six occasions. He looks to have locked down a spot in the Cats side, along with fellow 2016 draftee Tim Kelly, however Fogarty will be looking to improve upon his ball use, recording an efficiency of just 56 per cent against the Saints.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 3

With now a game or two under their belts, the first-year players are starting to find their groove. Some have certainly been more consistent over the weeks than others, but this week a few new names stood up to earn their spot. This week we looked at the best performing players from last years’ draft and which of your players you should keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

Liam Ryan

The Geelong and West Coast clash was a game for the first-year players as Liam Ryan proved. The young man dominated the West Coast offensive, picking up three goals in only his third game. He also took home 12 disposals – five contested – three tackles and three intercept possessions, all with a 75 per cent efficiency. His smart play allowed him to be tied the leading goal kicker (Mark LeCras) for his team. Provided he keeps up his efforts, Ryan will have a big future with the Eagles.

Tim Kelly

Once again, Kelly performed like a seasoned player for Geelong, picking up 19 disposals and 10 contested possessions. Despite being his lowest game numbers-wise so far, Kelly still exceeded expectations. In his first year, he is already holding his own against some of the AFL’s most elite athletes and is on his way to cementing a spot in the starting 18. He kicked an impressive goal in the fourth quarter to further Geelong’s lead, but unluckily for him, West Coast finished on top. Kelly has a big year ahead of him if he keeps playing at this level.

Mitchell Crowden

Crowden had the difficult matchup in Steven May, but did not let that lessen his performance. Taken with pick 59 in last year’s AFL National Draft, Crowden has so far smashed expectations. With 13 disposals, five contested, a goal and a 92 per cent efficiency against the Suns, the kid from South Australia dominated in his second game. He also boasted seven score involvements and two goal assists. Fremantle have developed their first years well, and it definitely shows in Crowden.

Nick Coffield

St. Kilda showcased their number eight pick from the AFL National Draft, Nick Coffield, against Adelaide in Round 3. Coffield played some impressive football in his first game. He made great decisions with the ball in hand, and did not rush his disposals. By half-time, Coffield had 12 disposals, one contested possession, a goal and an outstanding 100 percent disposal efficiency. He was a highlight for the Saints despite the resulting loss. In the end, Coffield picked up 18 disposals and three contested possessions to close the game, and his efficiency finished on 89 per cent. We saw plenty of smart football from this young man, and an eagerness to prove himself. If he takes the rest of his football this way, we might see some remarkable things from Coffield.

Ed Richards

In his first win for the Bulldogs, Richards had his fair share of the ball. With 17 disposals, two contested possessions, and a 71 per cent efficiency, Richards more than played his part to take home the win. The second gamer showed a lot fight around the football, taking on his man and laying five strong tackles. Richards showed poise and control around the pill, and with a few more games under his belt, could become a powerful defensive presence for the Dogs.

Aaron Naughton

Again, Naughton had the challenging task of playing on an elite opponent. Matched up on Joe Daniher, Naughton easily held his own and kept Essendon’s key forward off his game. He went onto collect 15 disposals, six contested possessions and finished with 87 per cent disposal efficiency. Many of the Bulldogs’ players showed a better read on Essendon’s movement better than they could, and Naughton was no exception, racking up eight intercept possessions.

Cameron Rayner

Brisbane’s number one pick played some efficient football in Saturday’s clash against Port Adelaide. Rayner dramatically picked up his game from last week’s four disposals with a 50 per cent efficiency. He bumped up it all up to take home nine important disposals – four contested – with an 89 per cent efficiency. He took a great contested grab going back with the flight of the ball which also snagged him a goal. He laid four tackles and had three inside 50s. Brisbane has faced some well performing teams thus far which may be forcing Rayner to push his game even further. With a few more matches, Rayner should fulfil his role even more with the Lions.

Lachie Fogarty

If there is one thing Geelong has proved they can do this year, that’s develop young players. Fogarty played some decent football in a tough match against West Coast. His efficiency was not as high as it can be, but he got half the job right. Fogarty will need to work on finishing properly if he’s to become a top tier player. The medium forward picked up 14 disposals, three contested possessions and a goal. He had five goes at scoring but only kicked the one goal. If he sharpens up in the matches to come, those behinds could easily become goals.

Bailey Banfield

There must have been something in the water at the Optus Stadium because Banfield was one of three first year Fremantle players to cap his game off with over a 90 per cent efficiency. Banfield had 11 disposals – six contested – four tackles and a 91 per cent efficiency. He played some dominant football, and his clean plays were a big reason Fremantle came out on top.

Adam Cerra

Cerra played some efficient football in his second game against the Suns. The young man finished his game with an impressive 90 per cent efficiency from 10 disposals. He played smart football and made lots of clever decisions, but was quiet around the contested ball. Cerra is developing into a fine player along with all of Fremantle’s first year players, but will need to show he can get his own ball going forward.

Paddy Dow

The dynamic midfielder got to experience his first rivalry clash against Collingwood in Round 3. He got a decent amount of touches, taking home 15 disposals – six contested – with 67 per cent efficiency. Dow is slowly coming into his own, laying two tackles, three intercept possessions, and four score involvements. He is yet to have his big game yet but his efforts need to be noted nonetheless.

TAC Cup preview: Northern Knights

NORTHERN Knights were a much improved side in 2017, with an exciting bunch of elite talent steering them through somewhat of a rollercoaster season. They managed impressive wins over top eight sides Dandenong and Eastern, but still fell short against the top two teams – Oakleigh and Geelong – quite convincingly.

While they may not have top-end talent to match the likes of Nick Coffield, Jack Petruccelle, and Patrick Naish of 2017, they have a number of solid top agers who were able to gain valuable experience last season as depth players in what was the best Northern side for a few years.

Players like Braedyn Gillard (19 games), Harrison Grace (12) and Joseph Ciranna (10) will continue to provide depth through the midfield, while the likes of Stefan Uzelac (13 games) and Patrik Della Rocca (eight) will be solid tall options at either end of the ground. In addition to that experience is the return of 19 year-olds Mark Baker (17 games), who was invited to last year’s Victorian state combine, and Joel Naylor (six), who missed most of his top-age year with a torn meniscus. Both will be looking to catch the eyes of scouts after being overlooked last year.

Thomas Hallebone – a rangy, raw ruckman – and midfielders Brody Bell, Ryan Bowkett and Kareem Nasser have already been put through the ringer at an elite level with their Under-17’s Vic Metro selection last year and will be hoping to show a bit more of what saw them gain selection in that team. Meanwhile, Tom McKenzie – a smooth moving, clever midfielder – who starred in the same game looks to be the Knights’ most promising prospect, and will be hoping to secure a spot in the Vic Metro Under-18 Championships squad.

The bottom age talent in the squad is also something to keep an eye on. Xavier Naish and Aaron Castagna both have brothers in the AFL system at Richmond, while Lucas Perry became the third of his family to come through the Knights system with his debut last season. Cameron Wild joins brother, Mitch, in the squad and both are members of Carlton’s Next Generation Academy, which is ironic given their father played for Collingwood.

Overall, the Knights will be looking to build on what was a solid year in 2017, and their mix of talls and smalls should see them have the depth to hang around the finals mark once again, but it will be tough.

2017 Stats:

2017 Summary:

The first four games last year saw the Knights unable to snap a win/loss pattern, before breaking through with consecutive wins in rounds five and six. Their round six win over a strong Dandenong outfit which ended up 3rd was a standout for the season, with the Knights fighting back from 21 points down in the final term, and having skipper Nick Coffield slot the winning goal in the dying minutes.

After a thumping at the hands of eventual premiers Geelong, they went on to beat finalists Gippsland in their own backyard, which was a telling pattern of their season. A mid-season slump saw them lose seven of their last 10 games, with a draw against Greater Western Victoria Rebels and two crucial losses against Calder proving decisive in their final ladder placing.

Their strong start saw them make finals for the first time since 2013. They came up against a formidable Oakleigh side in the first week of finals having lost by 84 points to them earlier in the year, and were overpowered once again by 70 points. Having made finals and overcome some of the competition’s best, the Knights’ first season under coach Justin Wenke will be regarded as a huge success. In 2018, they will perhaps be looking to gain a little more consistency to continue on with their upward trend.

2018 Snapshot:

In 2018, Northern will again have a good mix of top-end talent and depth to carry them through the year. While they might again struggle to match it with the best of the best, their even spread of talent across the ground means they’ll be capable of causing a few more upsets. Their midfield is usually their best asset, as is the case again with ruckman Hallebone looking to give the likes of McKenzie and Gillard good service. But they will still be a more well-rounded side with some strong options up forward and a good fleet of runners on the outside.

They start off with a tough fixture against Sandringham in Frankston on top of meeting Oakleigh in round three at Preston City Oval. They will fancy themselves to pinch a few wins during the middle of the season with a couple more home outings and the top teams losing their best players to the Under-18 National Championships.

The last few rounds could prove to be a mixed bag as they host country sides Gippsland and Dandenong, while making the trip to Wangaratta to face Murray in the final round. The Knights will play six games at PCO, which will hopefully see a packed-out grandstand there to cheer the boys on.

2018 Fixture:

Northern Knights 2018

Frankston Oval
Rams Arena
Preston City Oval
Morwell Recreational Reserve
Preston City Oval
Preston City Oval
Rams Arena
Preston City Oval
MARS Stadium
Burbank Oval
Trevor Barker Oval
MARS Stadium
Preston City Oval
Preston City Oval
Avalon Airport Oval
Norm Minns Oval
MARS Stadium