Tag: nick stevens

Draft Central All-Star Team: Northern Knights

NORTHERN KNIGHTS have some elite players in their All-Star team of the AFL Draft era led by captain and VFL/AFL games record holder Brent Harvey.

THE TEAM:

The Knights have a well balanced side with some quality talls, an elite midfield and plenty of hardened players who could roost the football and impact on the big stage.

DEFENCE:

The balance of offensive and negating defenders is healthy within the Knights defence, led by key talls, Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley. The pair could not be more different with ‘Presti’ being one of the best negating defenders of the modern era, though he also rarely reached double-figure disposals. Hurley on the other hand could be an offensive weapon racking up plenty of disposals and rebounds for the Bombers, having made the All-Australian team twice.

A third tall included in the back six is Richmond premiership defender Dylan Grimes, an All-Australian in his own right. Surrounding the talls are some quality smalls with Brisbane legend and two-time All-Australian Chris Johnson, and Collingwood premiership player, Ben Johnson, as well as Sydney premiership player and now North Melbourne coach, Rhyce Shaw. With the exception of Grimes, the other five players are 200-plus game players. On the bench, Nick Vlastuin could easily slot in as a rebounding defender.

MIDFIELD:

The midfield has a relative mix of current and past players. Its onball brigade of Marcus Bontempelli and Trent Cotchin shows a couple of the elite players in the AFL, as the pair have a Brownlow, three All-Australians, six best and fairests and three flags between them. Leading the ruck division is the incredibly talented Matthew Kreuzer who has had his fair share of injuries over the years, but still played almost 200 games.

Through the centre line, North Melbourne 300-gamer Adam Simpson stands out, having won an All-Australian and best and fairest to go with his two flags in the 90s. He is flanked on either wing by another couple of talented midfielders in 287-gamer Leigh Montagna (two All-Australians) and two-time best and fairest Magpie, Paul Licuria. The core five would be a difficult midfield to stop, with a hardened attack on the ball and one that could use tagging to effect.

On the bench, the midfield runs deep with Nick Stevens, Brent Stanton, John Barker and Daniel Harford all capable of running through the middle.

FORWARD:

Up forward, there is a nice balance between the talls and smalls, with strong marking key forwards, Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall providing some big marking targets. Rocca booted 415 goals in 242 games, renowned as one of the ‘super boots’ of the competition, often launching goals from 70 metres out. Whitnall managed 348 goals in 216 games, but also earned an All-Australian place and a best and fairest in his time with the Navy Blues.

Jarrod Molloy was best known for his work with the Lions before critically being traded in a huge deal for Mal Michael. As history would have it, Molloy missed out on a flag as Michael established himself in the three-peat Lions outfit. Still, Molloy booted 200 goals in 169 games as a really strong forward. The biggest name inside 50 is VFL/AFL games record holder, Harvey with the small forward booting 581 majors in 432 games, winning five best and fairests and four All-Australians in his time. Blake Caracella (187 games, 218 goals) and David Zaharakis (207 games, 125 goals) round out the front six.

Josh Caddy and Harford are among those on the pine who could come on and have an impact in the team if given the opportunity.

DEPTH:

Whilst the 24-player team itself is pretty strong, Northern Knights have a number of players just outside that core group who could understandably make it. Of the 100-game club not in the side, Angelo Lekkas (180), Jack Newnes (155) and Daniel Wheatley (135) are the next three highest in terms of games played, whilst Shane Clayton (117), Ricky Dyson (114), Anthony Franchina (105) and Jack Grimes (100) all reached the triple-figure milestone.

High-flyer Gary Moorcroft (98 games) went close to squeezing in despite falling just short of the ton, whilst Kane Lambert (95) – though drafted out of the VFL as a mature-ager – Aidan Corr, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Brayden Fiorini, Jade Gresham and Darcy MacPherson are among other modern day players who could squeeze into the All-Star side in the coming years.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Country Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro squad predictions and today we take a look at Vic Country’s potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old inclusions are limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that injured players will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the second squad prediction, with Vic Country’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Clayton Gay (Dandenong), Zach Reid (Gippsland), Cam Fleeton (Geelong)
HB – Nick Stevens (GWV), Ethan Baxter (Murray), Isaac Wareham (GWV)

There is a good mix of styles and talent among this back six, with some height, power, dash, and clean ball use all to come from these potential representatives. Versatile 202cm tall Zach Reid seems a lock for full back, able to also double as ruck aid.

Leadership candidate Cam Fleeton and Dandenong standout Clayton Gay provide sound reading of the play and aerial presence on the last line, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) pair Nick Stevens and Isaac Wareham are solid options off half-back. 19-year-old Wareham has already donned the Big V at under 18 level, but may earn another chance given injury curtailed his top-age season.

Ethan Baxter is the final member of the defence, a solidly-built Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) product who is a touch undersized (192cm) to play as a pure key defender, but makes up for it with strength. He could be utilised elsewhere, but we see him fulfilling a role down back.

MIDFIELD

C – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland), Tanner Bruhn (Geelong), Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo)
FOL – Henry Walsh (Geelong), Sam Berry (Gippsland), Zavier Maher (Murray)

Zavier Maher may be the tallest of the Vic Country mids here at 184cm, but by no means will the chosen crop lack power or ball winning ability. Maher, Sam Berry, and Tanner Bruhn are all terrific at the centre bounces, with Maher and Berry the powerful types, while Bruhn is all class in congestion.

Berry can run all day, too, much like Bendigo’s Jack Ginnivan on the outside. Ginnivan could also find a spot up forward like fellow wingman, Ryan Angwin, but the pair have really come on of late and should have no trouble in making an impact further afield.

Of course, Henry Walsh will likely be the one to provide first use to his midfield fleet as the primary ruck. The brother of Carlton Rising Star, Sam is quite apt at the centre bounces with his 201cm frame and is constantly working on his ground level work.

FORWARD

HF – Noah Gadsby (Geelong), Oliver Henry (Geelong), Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo)
FF – Dominic Bedendo (Murray), Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh), Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong)

This is hardly a forward six blessed with height or overwhelming strength, but that is not to say that it lacks marking power. Much like Baxter in defence, the high-flying Oliver Henry could play above his size as a focal point, though may be better suited to a third tall role. Highly touted Bulldogs NGA prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is unbeatable off the lead at full forward, so is a lock for that spot.

Alongside him may be Dominic Bedendo, a fantastic athletic talent who can compete both in the air and at ground level, while Charlie Lazzaro occupies the other pocket. He is arguably predominantly more a midfielder, but has been adding strings to his bow as a small forward.

On the flanks, his Geelong teammate Noah Gadsby also slots in as a newcomer to the forward line, while raw Bendigo product Seamus Mitchell assumes a role familiar to him on the same line. The largely small make-up of this six is somewhat a product of the guidelines we put in place, as there are a few key position products across each age bracket who could easily add some height and strength to the structure.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Sam Conforti (Bendigo), Will Bravo (Dandenong), Bayleigh Welsh (Dandenong), Blake Kuipers (Dandenong)

Filling out the side are some versatile options, with most of these prospects able to be utilised in many roles. Sam Conforti skippered the Under 16 Country side, and could well slot in as a small forward or wingman in this lineup. Dandenong’s Will Bravo is an exciting player who should also get a run up forward, providing a touch of speed and evasion while also being able to contribute in midfield.

Two more Stingrays cap off the side, with Bayleigh Welsh a midfielder the Dandenong program is high on, while athletic over-age swingman Blake Kuipers could be one to again sneak into the team as key position or ruck depth.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

Given this may be the only chance for draft-eligible top-agers to shine in front of recruiters in 2020, there will be plenty who come onto the radar of AFL clubs. Elijah Hollands and Noah Gribble are two who would have featured in the team, but unfortunately miss out due to long-term knee injuries.

Academy prospect Josh Treacy is a key forward who could well fit into the squad having gained experience for Country at Under 17 level, with fellow tall options Mason Hawkins and Keith Robinson of Gippsland others who can fill that forward/ruck role.

In terms of smalls, classy Geelong co-captain Gennaro Bove may be in the mix, while nippy GWV forward Harry Sharp has also caught the eye alongside another Falcon, Blake Reid. Other options from the Geelong region include Charlie Brauer – another outstanding athlete – and Kyle Skene.

Speaking of athletes, Bendigo is high on elite runner Jack Hickman and could also see the likes of ex-Rebel Jack Tillig or Finn Ellis-Castle push into contention. Dandenong has a couple of products around the mark too, with Deakyn Smith and Jai Neal both likely to be considered.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Last year’s Under 16 side may not have produced pure results-based success, but there are a few fantastic prospects who should push into contention. Leading the pack is last year’s carnival MVP Josh Rachele, a damaging midfielder/forward who is incredibly skilled.

Ben Hobbs was his partner-in-crime through midfield and should also get a crack as one of many high-end GWV up-and-comers. Those include Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch, and Josh Gibcus, with the former two already boasting NAB League experience.

Fleet-footed Sandringham prospect Campbell Chesser was another to impress enough to break into the NAB League, while fellow Under 16 All Australians Toby Conway and Cooper Hamilton are also within the Academy bubble.

Given the focus will even more strictly be placed on draft eligible players, the likes of Ben Green, Connor Macdonald, Tom Brown, Justin Davies and so on will likely have to wait until next year to break into the Under-18 representative side.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-age seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

19-YEAR-OLDS

Possibly the most unlucky over-ager to miss out on our squads is Geelong’s Darcy Chirgwin, who was set to return to his original region after representing Sandringham in his draft year. After injury heavily interrupted his 2019 campaign, he should come into consideration once again.

Geelong teammate Jay Dahlhaus also suffered a long-term injury last year but should be back for more, while Murray prospect Sam Durham has shown a good rate of improvement as a latecomer to the code. Jai Newcombe is somewhat of a bolter having only now made the final cut at Gippsland, and could provide that inside presence with Chirgwin given he is yet to capture centre stage.

The two 19-year-olds we chose for both squads, Kuipers and Wareham, come into the category of players with great upside. Kuipers’ height and athleticism make him a handy option to fill gaps up either end or in the ruck, and his phenomenal testing performance puts him in good stead. Wareham is a solid athlete who will more so be looking for consistency after his top-age campaign last year.

With these additional top, bottom, and over-age prospects in mind, below is our potential best Vic Country squad without any provisions.

FB – Clayton Gay, Zach Reid, Cameron Fleeton
HB – Nick Stevens, Blake Kuipers, Ethan Baxter
C – Ryan Angwin, Tanner Bruhn, Jack Ginnivan
HF – Noah Gadsby, Oliver Henry, Seamus Mitchell
FF – Charlie Lazzaro, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Josh Rachele
FOL – Henry Walsh, Sam Berry, Zavier Maher
INT
– Will Bravo, Dominic Bedendo, Ben Hobbs, Isaac Wareham

AFL Draft Watch: Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central  takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels prospect Nick Stevens, who has already played representative football across multiple age groups, as well as featuring in last year’s Under 17 All Star showcase. The classy half-back is set to once again line up on the flank he looked most comfortable across in 2019, with six NAB League appearances scattered in between Geelong Grammar commitments and an unfortunate early-season injury.

Now raring to get back on the park, the 191cm draft hopeful will be one of his region’s great hopes and outlets heading into his top-age season, standing alone as the Rebels’ sole 18-year-old Vic Country Hub member. Get up to speed with how he has performed off-field in 2020, with a look back at his 2019 campaign.

NAB LEAGUE PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Speed (20m): 3.09 seconds
Agility: 8.60 seconds
Running Vertical Jump:
74cm

NICK STEVENS PRESEASON FEATURE

PLAYER PAGE:

Nick Stevens

Height: 191.2cm
Weight: 82.4kg
Position: Half-back

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 6 games | 14.3 disposals | 2 marks | 2.5 tackles | 1 clearance | 3.5 rebound 50s | 2.6 inside 50s

Strengths: Poise/class, decision making, rebounding
Improvements: Inside game, endurance

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Star Game

By: Michael Alvaro

The classy mover looked at home across half back, competing well and getting the ball moving along the line. He took some time to build into the game and had his best moments during the second and third terms with shows of clever use by both hand and foot. His mix of competitiveness and class came to the fore, winning his own ball one-on-one but doing so with quick gathers and flashy spins.

NAB League Round 12 vs. Dandenong

By: Peter Williams

He was injured earlier in the season, but the talented Under-16 Vic Country representative was clean with his ball use and showed good hands under pressure in terrible conditions. He possesses a nice long kick, and was often tasked with the kick out duties. He tried to play on and take the game on more often than not, and benefited late when the opposition gave away a 50m penalty trying to stop him doing just that. Stevens applied good pressure on the kicker having a shot for goal inside 50 and forced a mistake by foot.

Q&A: Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Geelong Falcons’ Tanner Bruhn at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The classy midfielder has long been touted as one to watch come his draft year, earning the MVP award in Vic Country’s 2018 Under 16 side, and becoming a Geelong Grammar First XVIII best and fairest winner in the same year. His father, Matt was also an inaugural Geelong Falcons member, and somewhat of a local legend having won the 1996 Mathieson Medal during his time at Grovedale.

Bruhn managed four games for the Falcons as a 16-year-old, but that total was halved in 2019 as the youngster suffered an injury setback that had him sent in for knee surgery. His two outings at the back-end of last season and an appearance in the Under 17 Futures All Stars showcase game only highlighted Bruhn’s talent, with his stoppage craft and poise on the ball helping him shine.

Another knee setback saw Bruhn sit out the pre-season testing and was set to see him miss the first few rounds of the season, but the unforeseen break in action could come as somewhat of a blessing in disguise for the Newtown & Chilwell product, who can now build towards full fitness and be raring to go once – and if – called upon.

Q&A:

MA: How’s the day treated you so far?

TB: “Not too bad. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to participate with the rest of the group just due to an ongoing injury at the moment, but I think the boys have done pretty well so far and we’ve tested well which is good.”

You obviously had a long-term injury last year as well, how have you found the recovery time?

“Last year was pretty tough obviously missing the majority of the season and not being able to be out there with the boys. “But there was still plenty for me to do in terms of my rehab and then also helping the coaches and the staff on the sidelines. “I think I handled it pretty well and just can’t wait for this season.”

When you have been on the field, how’ve you rated your experience so far?

“Yeah not too bad. “I guess it’s a tough one really, I haven’t played much footy in the last 12 months so looking back; Under 16s, I really enjoyed my time there, then obviously getting the opportunity to play with the Falcons as an under-ager was awesome. “So yeah, just really keen for this year and hopefully I can just put my best foot forward.”

Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off along the way?

“Hopefully just to start the NAB League season off well and then obviously transition into school (football) and hopefully play some consistent footy throughout the year. But just overall to have a healthy season and try to get the best out of myself as possible.”

The Falcons seem to have a lot of talls in the team, are you looking to be that leader in the midfield?

“Yeah I’d say so. Like you said, we’ve got a lot of talls this year and hopefully a pretty strong side so that’s a big part of my game that I try and develop and improve – that leadership side. “So hopefully, we’ll see how we go but yeah, I’ll definitely take it into account for sure.”

You’d be juggling a few commitments with school footy, Falcons, and Vic Country – who are some of the boys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“Definitely. I think with Falcons especially the likes of Ollie Henry and Henry Walsh. “Obviously being able to play with those boys for the last few years has been pretty special so to run out there this year with those boys – I really can’t wait. And then Nick Stevens as well from the Rebels, he’s out at school with me so yeah, there’s a few boys in the numerous teams that I’m in but I just can’t wait really to get out there.”

And being around the Vic Country Hub, how has that aided your development?

“Immensely. “Obviously being in it last year as a bottom-ager, I’ve just grown so much as a player and as a person. “The experiences last year in the hub, there’s just great people there who’ve helped me with my injury and I’ve learned so much and developed heaps. “I really enjoyed the camps as well that we had through December and January and I’m just raring for the season ahead.”

Improvement every session the aim for Stevens

ALREADY representing Vic Country in the Under-17 Futures game and showing promising signs as a bottom-ager for the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in 2019, Nick Stevens has no intention of slowing down in his top-age year. The 17-year-old debuted on his birthday last year for the western Victoria side, picking up 10 touches and not looking out of place. A torn hip flexor would see the bottom-ager miss five games across the next couple of months.

Returning to the side in June, Stevens looked like he had not missed a beat, picking up 15 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds being the prime mover in what was albeit a disappointing day for the Rebels, losing by 111 points to top of the table Eastern Ranges. Having missed so much football, Stevens was keen to improve his endurance, but his result at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me was not to his liking.

Nah not happy to be honest, but it’s done now so not much I can do about it,” Stevens said. “Just try to keep moving forward I guess. “Yeah it definitely was (an area of improvement), definitely from last year. “I always want to keep get better at that endurance type running so that was part of it.”

He finished the 2019 season strongly, representing Vic Country in the Under-17 Futures game having played in the Under 16 National Championships the year before. Primarily used as an outside player for his ability to move the ball in transition and his size (191cm and 82kg), Stevens has found a home at half-back where he will likely remain when the NAB League Boys action returns. When asked if he was likely to push for an inside role, Stevens said given his strengths and improvements, he was likely to hone in and get matches under his belt in that offensive half-back role.

Nah not this year I don’t reckon (midfield role),” he said. “I think I’ll stay half-back and keep playing that role and just keep getting better at that half-back, back role.”

Over the preseason, Stevens trained with Geelong’s AFL side as part of the Vic Country Academy hub program. Following the pathway at the elite junior level, the tall utility said it was an offseason to remember.

Yeah that was a pretty surreal experience with the Cats,” Stevens said. “So thankful for that opportunity and they treated me well down there so it was good fun.”

The Rebels finished 10th last year with six wins from 16 games, but were able to blood a number of bottom-agers and under 16s who form the nucleus of the side going forward. Stevens said he was looking forward to playing alongside a number of these players in 2020.

I think a few Warrnambool boys, Fraser Marris, the third year players as well they’re always good coming back,” he said. “Also the bottom-agers Charlie Molan, Ben Hobbs. “Good quality football there, so it should be good fun. “We had our first praccy match on the weekend (back in March) and it was really exciting, so just looking for more.”

As for his personal goals in 2020, Stevens were pretty straightforward – just get better.

I just want to keep improving, keep getting better every time we go out on the track,” he said. “Aim to get better than the player I was before, so that’s probably the short-term goal.”

2020 NAB League Boys team preview: GWV Rebels

THE Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels are set to bring a bottom-age heavy list into the 2020 NAB League season, with some fast-developing top-agers and 19-year-olds also in the fold. Talent Manager Phil Partington said his club is “buoyant” about their prospects in the new year despite the current air of uncertainty, with a strong pre-season for all age groups putting the Ballarat-based program in good stead.

“We’ve been really pleased with the way our boys have gone throughout the pre-season,” Partington said. “Certainly our coaches have been really focussing on the fundamentals of the game, the skill development of the game which we’ve seen a marked improvement on in our skillset with the boys. “We’ve performed well over the pre-season trial games and into the practice games so we’re buoyant about how we’ll go this year. “We’ve got a very bottom-age group; we’ve got 50 boys in the squad so basically 18 top-agers this year, four 19-year-olds, and I think it’s 28 bottom-agers, so our bottom-aged boys are really talented across the whole region and we’re looking forward to seeing how they develop throughout the year.”

The Rebels had an impressive nine products turn out at the Under-16 National Championships last year, with a bunch of them injected into the NAB League squad post-carnival to good effect. Among them was Josh Rentsch, a developing tall who, along with Queenslander, Jye Lockett is set to have an impact on the GWV team this season.

“We had eight (16-year-old) players play Vic Country last year and one for Queensland and those boys are ready to go,” Partington said. “Those boys presented themselves really well last year as 16-year-olds in the games they did play so we’re looking forward to seeing how they go. “Young Josh Rentsch is now at boarding school in Ballarat so we’re really pleased to have Josh semi-full-time in our program. “For a young developing tall to be in our backyard and to have a bit more development that we can do with him is good for his development overall.”

“Jye is Tony Lockett‘s nephew and the family have got a really good connection with the North Ballarat Football Club through Tony’s dad and also Jye’s father, Neil. “They’ve sent him down to boarding school to further his studies and have footy opportunities as well so Jye’s been in the program now for the last two years as a 16-year-old with us and now a 17-year-old. “He’s developing quite well over time with us.”

Lockett is a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy and will represent Queensland or the Allies if selected. He is one of a few familiar names scattered across the Rebels’ list, but Partington insists each prospect merits their own selection.

“We certainly don’t pick players on names, every player in our squad is deserving of their opportunity through their potential and also their development they’ve had through the pre-season, he said. “We want these boys, and the boys want to make their own name in footy going through. “We’ve got Myles McCluggage and young Sam Butler as well – Sam’s the brother of Daniel Butler. “These boys are performing well, we just need them to continue to develop and we don’t want to put too much external pressure on these boys because they are their own player and they’ve got their own traits in how they play.”

Arguably leading the pack of the Rebels’ draft eligible players is their sole 18-year-old Vic Country Hub member, Nick Stevens, who will look to back up a promising 17th year. Partington said the development of returning top-agers and 19-year-olds has been the most pleasing aspect of the program.

“Our talented players are becoming more developed, and our 19-year-olds are developing further through the Geelong VFL program and our alignment with them,” he said. “Nick’s in the AFL Academy, the Vic Country academy. Harry Sharp‘s an elite runner, Harry’s done a lot of things right as a 17-year-old and certainly developed further as an 18-year-old, combining his athletics and football this year. “So we’ve got some nice developing types for our top-age. “The beauty of our program is because we’ve got some boys from all over Western Victoria, (there are) boys who are travelling 3-4 hours to get to training on Thursday night so we see the development for boys that have missed out last year as 17-year-olds that have gone back and played senior football. “I think we’ve had five players that missed our squad as 17-year-olds last year that’ve come into our squad as 18-year-olds this year… so we’re really buoyant that that’s happened.”

Isaac (Wareham), unfortunately we probably wouldn’t be talking about him now if he played the last six games of the year without injury, he missed the last half of the year after the national championships. “He’s born on 24/12 so he’s a very young boy still and only a week from being a NAB League player officially as an 18-year-old this year. “All our 19-year-olds have got special AFL traits about them, but looking to have a bit more consistency in their games. “A lot of those boys have been disadvantaged as well with where they live – one night a week we only see them, compared to some boys in other areas who are two or three nights a week. “Our boys are underdeveloped (in that sense) and being in a Geelong VFL program full-time, we’ve already seen marked improvement in these boys when they’ve come back and played our trial games and we’ll see when the season starts up again they’ll be further developed once they get into it.”

A prime example of what each of the Rebels’ draft hopefuls should be aspiring towards comes from a 2019 graduate who bolted from a long way back in Jay Rantall. As GWV’s sole draftee last year, Partington said one key off-field trait helped him to harness his full potential at the junior level.

“Character and work ethic, that’s the number one driver for boys to make the AFL and Jay had bucketloads of that,” he said. “He’s very determined and he hadn’t been in some of the pathway programs at all because he had his basketball commitments, so he knew he had to improve on parts of his game and his skill assets and he certainly did that in his own time and during training to get himself better.

The Rebels were set to kick off their 2020 NAB League season against Dandenong Stingrays on home turf, but that clash has been pushed back amid competition postponement.

Scouting notes: Under-17 Futures

TEAM BROWN romped home by 47 points in the Under-17 Futures showpiece game on grand final day on the MCG, with a number of prospects putting their hands up for top-end selection at this early stage. With recruiters watching on, we also cast an eye over the game to bring you our opinion-based scouting notes on every player afield.

Team Brown (Black)

By: Peter Williams (#1-8) and Michael Alvaro (#16-36)

#1 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons)

One of Team Brown’s best players on the day with his run and neat kicking skills throughout. His day started with some great running power and vision to get the ball into the hands of Eddie Ford for an early goal, and then produced a lovely kick at full speed through the middle to Blake Coleman. He used the ball well time and time again, winning a fair bit of it on the wing and half-back, but also setting up plays going forward, including a late game interception at half-forward and tight kick into Ford in the pocket. His hands in close and ability to find space, as well as his footy IQ is great. Even took a very nice high mark early in the fourth term and played on straight away to keep the ball moving.

#2 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy)

Deservingly Best on Ground and it was easy to see why. He rarely wasted it and his left foot was a treat. On a day where the skill level was hit and miss, Campbell seemed to turn everything he touched to gold with his three majors from 14 disposals. The Sydney Swans Academy member had a couple of early touches then got his team on the board running out of a stoppage and launching from 40m on the left to sail it home. He kicked a second early in the third with a lovely left foot snap on the boundary, then made it two in a short space of time with a ripping goal from 55m on the run. At times he did a bit too much, such as being pinged for holding the ball by Henry Walsh in the second term, but his dare and run was something to admire and by taking on the game, he set up scoring opportunities to Reef McInnes and Joel Jeffrey late in the game, and even had a chance himself with a snap which bounced towards goal but was kept in, only for teammates to finish off the job with a major.

#3 Taj Schofield (Woodville-West Torrens)

Was not the biggest ball winner, but felt after a quiet first half, he had some really nice plays in the second half. He took the game on from half-back and set up an end-to-end goal which lead to a massive Braeden Campbell goal early in the third. Schofield showed clean hands at ground level and hit the ball at full speed to deliver a pinpoint pass into Saxon Crozier, but rushed a kick shortly after trying to get to James Borlase at half-forward and it was intercepted. Had a highlight play early in the fourth term by spinning out of an opponent’s grasp and producing a neat kick forward.

#4 Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)

Needs to work on his ground balls further, but battled hard throughout the four quarters. Got going more as the game went on, kicking an important set shot early in the third term to get Team Brown going again. He won a lot of his touches under pressure in close but turned over some of his kicks, however produced a hard body at the coalface.

#5 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy)

Lively to say the least. He is one of those players you would come to the football to see. Laid a terrific couple of tackles to set the tone early in the game, with his second being a big run-down tackle and win a free straight in front of goal. He converted that and continued to look dangerous, taking a mark outside 50 but his delivery inside was a scrubber kick to the pocket. It was one of his only poor kicks going inside, because he seemed to hit-up targets well throughout, setting up Braeden Campbell for a goal with the one-two at half-forward and produced a very nice kick into Reef McInnes inside 50 in the third term. He was able to win the ball at a stoppage in the midfield to show his midfield potential, then finished the game on a high note by selling candy to Wil Parker in the goalsquare and booting it from point blank range.

#6 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers)

Just a tackling machine who keeps on battling hard. Philips is a work horse who continues to dig in and win the ball and do all the team things to support his teammates. He laid a massive 14 tackles for the game while winning another 20-plus disposals. One of the better inside midfield options heading into next year, he is strong at the stoppages and can spread to the outside to win it as well and set up teammates. He kicked a goal in the third term by winning the ball from a stoppage, fending off an opponent and snapping it off his right at the top of the square. He then set up Joel Jeffrey with a goal thanks to a very nice kick inside 50.

#8 Eddie Ford (Western Jets)

Started the game with a bang, picking up eight touches and booting two goals in an eye-opening first term. He had his hands on it early leading outside 50, then kick a great running goal on the right from 40m out. His second goal came when Ford read the tap perfectly, pushed off his opponent in Errol Gulden and chucked it on his boot for it to sail through. It showed his high-level footy IQ and goal sense all in one play. He was still very busy throughout the game with some nice touches, though his first term was his standout. Had a shot from 45m on the run in the third term but it sprayed to the left. His best is very good.

#16 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)

Gave a glimpse into his role for next year with a mix of time between his usual wing/half-back position, and in the midfield. Downie’s willingness to get on his bike at every opportunity and move the ball forward was a feature, fitting the metres-gained role well on the outside. He would often dish off on the move and continue his run to get it back, ending his move with a long kick forward on his customary left side. May well continue his shift towards a more inside role and has the size to do so, but arguably looked more damaging on the outer as he has been all year.

#17 Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions Academy)

Crozier was one of many high-level outside runners for Team Brown, looking to find space and break forward on the ball. One of his first ominous looking runs was cut short by a nice run-down tackle, but Crozier was not to be deterred and found a good amount of possessions from half-back to the wing. He worked up the ground in the third term to mark on the 50 arc, but missed the resultant set shot. It was a standard performance from the Lions Academy member, who will look to develop from simply being a linker between the arcs.

#18 Luke Edwards (Glenelg)

The potential Adelaide father-son has composure beyond his years and looks a versatile type. Starting in his usual half-back role, Edwards showed great composure in his disposal coming out of defence and worked hard to impact the play further afield once he had released the ball himself. His intercept marking game was also sound, reading the ball well in flight to get in the right position on defensive wing. He is the accumulating type in the backline, but looks a different player once thrown into the midfield with his strong hands and frame allowing him to play that inside game. His smart handballs out of congestion were terrific in the second half, especially at centre bounces, and he would benefit from spending more time there.

#19 Sam Collins (Tasmania)

It was a more handball happy game from the damaging rebounder, who swept up the loose balls well on the outside all day. He was clever with his flicks out of congestion and into space, but also brought his kicking into the frame with a couple of long roosts down the line to send Team Brown forward. Collins got back well to cover the defence, as shown by a run-down tackle in the first term, while also directing traffic as his teammates moved the ball on. Will be one of the Devils’ top prospects in 2020, and is a good interceptor on his day as well.

#20 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)

It was a very near-complete performance from the Team Brown captain, who booted two classy goals in his time between the midfield and forward line. His work rate in the engine room was top notch, digging in to win the ball himself and tackling hard going the other way with the opposition breaking. Hollands also impacted the centre bounces from his starting position on the wing early on, proving clean and composed when the footy was hot. His first goal was a typical one, propping after he collected the loose ball and snapping home. The second was a show-stopper, slamming the ball through the big sticks from 55m out off a couple of steps. Is one of the leading prospects at this early stage, and narrowly missed out on best afield honours.

#21 Blake Morris (Subiaco)

After what was a shaky start with Morris looking a touch lost in defence, the recent WA Under-16 MVP began to show off some of his best traits. His best moment in the first half was a courageous double-effort going back with the flight of the ball, but Morris’ best came to the fore after the main break. He gained confidence with ball in hand, finding Riley Thilthorpe inside 50 with a lace out kick and going on to use it well on the last line. While Morris was unable to showcase his theatrical aerial prowess as a whole, he almost pulled down a huge mark in the centre square, but landed heavily for his troubles. Looks raw at this stage but can be very exciting.

#22 Joel Jeffrey (Northern Territory)

Jeffrey is an excitement machine up either end with his marking and running abilities and proved as much in this game. He started down back and positioned well behind the ball to snap up much of what came his way. Jeffrey’s one-on-one marking was sound too, which is a handy addition to his eye-catching outside play. While his forward run and long kicks helped him impact the play past the wing, Jeffrey was moved up the other end more permanently to good effect with two goals in the second half. The Wanderers’ product snuck out the back well on both occasions, marking inside 50 and slotting home with a lovely set shot action.

#23 James Borlase (Sturt)

Borlase is in the rare position of being a player whose father played more than 250 games for Port Adelaide, while also being an Adelaide Crows academy member, and he may cost either club a pretty penny at this stage. Drifting across the defensive 50, Borlase took a couple of strong intercept marks in the third term and chased the ball up well at ground level. He is that in-between size – not quite having key-position height but possessing a strong frame – and can play both tall and small roles. While his marking game was strong, Borlase had a couple of less comfortable moments on the ground, getting caught holding the ball on two occasions despite a solid overall game.

#24 Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels)

The classy mover looked at home across half back, competing well and getting the ball moving along the line. He took some time to build into the game and had his best moments during the second and third terms with shows of clever use by both hand and foot. His mix of competitiveness and class came to the fore, winning his own ball one-on-one but doing so with quick gathers and flashy spins. Unfortunately had a horror kick across goal in the final term which cost his side a goal, but was otherwise a valuable member of the back six.

#25 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)

McInnes continues to step up in showcase games and did so here with a solid display of ball winning across the day. Starting in midfield, McInnes proved he was more than an inside workhorse with his poise on the ball and decision making when hemmed in. He has that surprising agility at times – much like GWS Academy product Tom Green and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps – which helps to get him out of trouble on top of his strength in the tackle. He went on to become influential up forward, finding separation on the lead and almost pulling in some strong marks. It proved a shrewd move, as McInnes booted two goals; the first coming from a 50m penalty, and the second shortly after with a classy snap from the tightest of angles. The Pies have yet another promising NGA product on their hands.

#31 Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)

It was a quiet outing from the physical Pioneers forward, who chimed in with a few neat touches. One of his first was a typical lead-up mark on the wing, and he followed that up in the last term with a strong pack mark inside 50 which led to his sole goal of the game. In between those moments was a take out of the ruck which led to a Will Phillips goal, highlighting Treacy’s potential to impact the play inside 50.

#32 Logan McDonald (Perth)

McDonald looked like becoming an ominous target early as he bolted out of the goalsquare on the lead and snapped up the ball well at ground level. He was the deepest tall inside 50 in the first term but could not quite put it all together, going on to work up the ground and link into the arc. Has great athleticism and showed he can kick well too, finding fellow Black Duck, Shannon Neale inside 50.

#33 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers)

It was a promising display from the Bulldogs NGA product played out of position for the most part at centre half-back. He started off on his usual leads up forward but soon slotted in behind the ball and did well to leap at whatever came his way. He was terrific at the drop of the ball in the third term with his athleticism, and would have been a really effective player had he stuck more of his kicks on the run. That is the area of his game he seems to be working on, so expect to see some improvement heading into his top-age year after some inconsistencies here. Almost found the goals too with a set shot on the half time siren.

#34 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide)

The promising tall is solidly built but has the look of a raw and rangy ruckman as a clearly more athletic type. While he was beaten in the ruck contests at times, Thilthorpe worked well around the ground to showed clean hands and ball use. He spent most of his time up forward after quarter time, hitting the post after a nice piece of agility to gather and find space to let fly deep inside 50. He had a similar moment leading up with a midfielder-like gather and give to Connor Downie, but could not quite get down to a couple of half-volleys later on. Thilthorpe showed glimpses of his high-end talent, and is certainly one to watch if he can showcase his marking game more often.

#35 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle)

Like Morris, Neale played in this year’s Under-16 carnival as an over-ager and impressed enough to get the nod here. An athletic ruckman, the South Fremantle product took over those duties for most of the day and positioned well for ball-ups and throw-ins. It was that positioning which allowed him to palm down to Eddie Ford for his second goal from a forward 50 stoppage in the first term, showing a good bit of combination. Neale went on to rest forward and found the ball up on the arc, kicking well for his size – except for a set shot which fell short, but fortunately led to a Reef McInnes goal. Is a likely type as a late bloomer.

#36 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power)

While he spent a bit of time in the ruck, Reid’s best work is arguably always done down back and he proved that again here. He was composed with ball in hand and dished off to his runners well, while also kicking capably on the last line. He capped his game with a strong pack mark in the third term and got involved well in Team Brown’s rebounding efforts.

Team Dal Santo (White)

By: Peter Williams (#1-10) and Ed Pascoe (#16-37)

#1 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy)

His side’s best despite the loss, and the Sydney Swans fans would be pumped to see both him and Campbell playing well on the MCG. After a quieter first term by his standards often opposed to Ford at stoppages, he really got going and was crucial in getting his side back into the contest in the second term. Kicked the easiest of goals over the back in the second term running into the square with space behind him, and looked composed in his movements in close. He sidesteps opponents with ease and gets his hands free time and time again, showing good core strength to stand up in tackles. Just a really clean player who when he gets going adds that touch of class to any side and is hard to stop.

#2 Joel Western (Claremont)

The West Australian was one of Team Dal Santo’s better players on the day, showing good composure at half-back under pressure. He did go forward at times but looked more rushed going inside 50 with the odd turnover from a quick snap. He had a shot on goal but the kick went out on the full, and spent the second half in the defensive half of the ground, being a reliable player who picked up a number of touches back there trying to settle his team down.

#3 Corey Durdin (Central District)

The pocket rocket had some highlight plays to suggest he can be a damaging player when he is on, and generally used it pretty well despite not racking up a heap of it. He has that great burst of speed that can burn off opponents and showed it early running down the middle but unfortunately only had a one-on-three option to kick to, which he did pretty well to put it to his teammate’s advantage to at least nullify the contest. He almost kicked a dribbler goal late in the first term but just missed, then made up for it with a great outside-of-the-boot goal two minutes into the second term. Was quieter in the second half as Team Brown controlled possession in the front half, but the forward still had a lovely straight kick down the middle, and had a scoring chance in the final term but it hit the woodwork.

#4 Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges)

A quiet game by Parker after a big NAB League Grand Final the weekend before, and the increased pressure showed despite his best efforts. His first kick was perfect at half-back taking the risk with a pinpoint dagger to a teammate under pressure with centimetre perfect accuracy, but his risks also came unstuck by trying to get the ball in-board, but was intercepted by opposition players reading the play well, and then tried to use his jets to run down the middle, but was caught in doing so. An exciting player who is not afraid to take the game on, but it is a high-risk, high-reward style of play.

#5 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)

A solid game by the NAB League premiership player who was busy in all thirds of the ground. He used it well in the back half early in the match, seeming composed for his side and just settling down and releasing the pressure valve with safe kicks in defensive 50. When he went further up the ground he was able to set up his team going inside 50, winning more of the ball as the game went on. Macrae showed good hands under pressure in defence, but will thrive in the midfield next season.

#6 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons)

Quiet game in realistically what was his third elite level game since a long-term injury. He showed good strength early to get a handball away whilst being tackled in the middle, and had a shot on goal in the opening term but was run down inside 50 by Sam Collins before he could.

#7 Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)

Was one of the better Team Dal Santo players and when with time and space, knows how to use it. He was continually running along the wing pumping it inside 50, setting up scoring opportunities for his teammates. He got the ball to Oliver henry inside 50 and hit up Nathan O’Driscoll at half-forward, then had a couple of scoring chances himself with a bounding shot late in the second term and later on a flying shot on the goal but just missed both. When under pressure he rushed his kicks at time to try and get it forward, but was generally eye-catching and showed good strength around the stoppages.

#8 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth)

Spread well to win the ball in all thirds of the ground and found plenty of it, particularly early. He took a strong mark at half-forward in the first term and then won a lot of his touches at half-back as the game turned against his side. He would play the defensive side of the wing to mop up and kick long, providing a release option for his side going forward.

#9 Zac Dumesny (South Adelaide)

Did not win a heap of it but was fairly economical with his ball use. He had a quick handball whilst being tackled at half-forward, but was not so lucky when he tried to play on in a similar spot and was run down by Reef McInnes. Managed to hit-up Zavier Maher and Joel Western on the wing coming off half-back with neat passes in the second half as well.

#10 Jack Carroll (East Fremantle)

A quiet start but worked into it with a strong mark at half-back late in the second term and opened the game right up. Had a courageous marking attempt to spoil it away in the middle of the ground against Eddie Ford, then played in the forward half of the ground with midfield minutes in the second half. He fired a no-look handball out to space late in the third term for a teammate to run onto at the centre stoppage, then proceeded to find plenty of the ball through the middle. He finished the game with a nice kick off the left on the run for a consolation goal midway through the last quarter.

#16 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)

The talented Sandringham Dragons prospect had a quiet game but still showed some of his skill with a nice baulk deep in defence showing good composure in the first quarter when Team Brown was making a charge. Perkins has plenty of talent is a player to watch next year especially in the forward half.

#17 Lachlan Jones (Woodville-West Torrens)

The strong bodied Jones is a Port Adelaide NGA prospect who has had a good year for Woodville-West Torrens, looking most at home in defence. He was strong over the ball and made good decisions with ball in hand.

#18 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)

The talented Geelong Falcon who is the younger brother of rising Cats’ defender Jack Henry showed plenty of his talent in what was a hard day for the Team Dal Santo forwards. He was still able to catch the eye; he hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a quality intercept mark in the goal square showing his speed and quick decision making. Henry was strong overhead and clean at ground level but he also did the what was required defensively as well with some good tackles and smothers, he looks to be one of the most dangerous forward prospects in the 2020 draft.

#19 Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions Academy)

The Brisbane Lions academy prospect showed his class on the wing moving well through traffic and sending the ball well inside 50 on his long left boot. What also impressed was his strong marking ability and he looks a good prospect as a tall wingman and was hard not top notice with the blonde hair and the way he moved through congestion to deliver the ball.

#20 Brodie Lake (Northern Territory/Peel Thunder)

The Peel Thunder prospect did not get a lot of the ball but he still caught the eye with some nice plays where he got to showcase his athleticism. Lake impressed down back with his kicking and speed and willingness to attack the contest. With his willingness to use his speed to both run with the ball and spoil he looks like the type of defender who can play on talls and smalls while also providing rebound.

#21 Alex Davies (Gold Coast SUNS Academy)

The Gold Coast academy prospect was one of Team Dal Santo’s better performers going through the midfield and winning plenty of the ball especially early. He is a nice size as a modern day tall midfielder and he had no trouble winning first possession and dishing it out to his runners. He kicked a lovely goal in the last quarter under pressure he was able to cleanly pickup and quickly kick a nice running goal.

#22 Heath Chapman (West Perth)

The talented Chapman has had a strong year for his club West Perth and playing as a tall defender for Team Dal Santo he did some nice things especially late in the game. Chapman had a good couple of minutes taking a strong intercept mark before the ball came back in once again where he span out of trouble, showing his athleticism.

#31 Josh Green (GWS GIANTS Academy)

Green is a solid and strong player already and you could see it in the way he played. The Giants academy player and younger brother of Top 10 prospect for this year Tom Green shares a lot of physical traits with his brother but is more of a key position type with his strong body and marking ability. He converted a nice goal after a fantastic chase down tackle in the last quarter.

#32 Jackson Callow (Tasmania)

The strong bodied key position forward had a solid game showing he didn’t just rely on his size to take marks to kick his goals as he gathered a loose ball and kicked a lovely snap goal in the second quarter. He was moved to defence in the second half and looked better as the game went on taking a nice intercept mark in the last quarter, Callow looks to be the leading Tasmanian prospect for the 2020 draft.

#33 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)

Lord did not get a lot of supply playing as a key forward for Team Dal Santo but the Sandringham prospect still showed some nice things. Lord showed good athleticism and looked comfortable with ball in hand up the ground in transition showing he isn’t just a forward half player, laid a good tackle in the first quarter as well showing good aggression.

#34 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons)

Brand played his usual role that he did for Calder Cannons all year playing a dour role down back. The Essendon NGA prospect took a few nice intercept marks showing he was not afraid to come off his opponent and his long kicking was always an asset. Brand also showed he was good at ground level as well with a nice trap to pickup the ball in defence under heavy pressure and clear the ball out of the area.

#36 Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons)

The brother of 2018 Number 1 pick Sam Walsh played well in the ruck and was not afraid to give a good contest. The Falcon’s decision making with the ball was slow early but he did not let that get him down kicking a goal roving a contest right on the line which was odd for a ruckman to do to say the least. Walsh had a nice moment in the last quarter roving his own hitout and sending the ball long inside 50.

#37 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens)

The other big Henry to ruck for Team Dal Santo – Smith actually showed more up forward with a strong contested mark and set shot goal in the first quarter. The Woodville-West Torrens prospect, as good as he looked overhead, also had a great pickup in the middle of the ground which was excellent for a 200-plus cm player and if he could improve his aggression in general he could prove to be a hard player to stop at the next level.

Next year’s stars to strut stuff on AFL Grand Final Day

NEXT year’s top draft prospects will once again get the chance to impress recruiters and stand out in front of AFL fans in a curtain raiser to the 2019 AFL Draft Final. Last year Oakleigh Chargers’ Matt Rowell was named best on ground in the Under-17 All Stars game and has emerged as the front runner for pick one in this year’s draft. The game pits the 48 highest rated available players against each other in mixed teams named after AFL stars, Nick Dal Santo and Jonathan Brown. Coached by fellow former AFL players, NAB AFL Academy Head Coach Luke Power (Team Brown) and Vic Country Under-18 coach Leigh Brown (Team Dal Santo), the players will get a taste of what their future could hold before the elite level’s most prestigious match of the season.

Among the names who have already shown promising signs throughout either the AFL Under-16 Championships or AFL Under-18 Championships over the past few years, are Oakleigh Chargers pair Will Phillips and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, West Adelaide’s Riley Thilthorpe and Glenelg’s Luke Edwards, Murray Bushrangers’ Elijah Hollands and Sydney Swans Academy’s Braeden Campbell who represent Team Brown. For Team Dal Santo, Central District’s Corey Durdin, North Launceston’s Jackson Callow, Geelong Falcons’ Tanner Bruhn, Sydney Swans Academy’s Errol Gulden, Perth’s Nathan O’Driscoll and Northern Territory’s Brodie Lake.

In terms of state-by-state representation, Victoria leads the way with 21 players – 11 for Vic Metro and 10 for Vic Country – ahead of South Australia and Western Australia (both nine). Queensland (four) has the most of the Allied states, with NSW/ACT (three) and Tasmania and Northern Territory (two each). Indidivdual clubs with multiple players are Geelong Falcons and Oakleigh Chargers (four each), while Brisbane Lions Academy, Woodville-West Torrens, Sandringham Dragons and Perth all have three representatives.

Team Brown:

Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans/NSW-ACT)
Taj Schofield (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions/Queensland)
Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions/Queensland)
Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
Sam Collins (North Hobart/Tasmania)
Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Blake Morris (Subiaco/Western Australia)
Joel Jeffrey (Wanderers/Northern Territory)
James Borlase (Sturt/South Australia)
Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Team Dal Santo:

Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans/NSW-ACT)
Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)
Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)
Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
Zac Dumesny (South Adelaide/South Australia)
Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Lachlan Jones (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions/Queensland)
Brodie Lake (Southern Districts/Northern Territory)
Alex Davies (Gold Coast SUNS/Queensland)
Josh Green (GWS GIANTS/NSW-ACT)
Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
Jackson Callow (North Launceston/Tasmania)
Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Henry Smith (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

NAB League Boys Round 17 wash-up: Chargers snatch finals spot in thriller

THE NAB League Boys regular season came to a close on the weekend with a pair of triple-headers, finalising the all-important automatic finals qualifiers and Wildcard Round fixtures. There were plenty of standouts across the six games despite indifferent conditions, with the Oakleigh-Sandringham game living up to the pre-game hype.

WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.9 | 4.12 (36)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:
Western – A. Manton 3, A. Clarke
Northern – J. D’Intinosante 4, N. Cox 2, J. Watson, J. Lucente, S. House, J. Boyd

BEST:
Western – L. Rocci, J. Honey, D. Bolkas, C. Raak, L. Failli, J. Kellett
Northern – J. Watson, R. Sturgess, N. Cox, J. Boyd, A. Carafa, J. D’Intinosante

By: Michael Alvaro

A sense of redemption was achieved by the Northern Knights on Saturday as they got one back over the Western Jets with a 32-point win at Avalon Airport Oval. The win sees the Knights jump their opponents into sixth place on the back of superior percentage, making it that little bit sweeter on top of redeeming a Round 1 loss to the Jets. After a relatively steady opening term where Western arguably had the better of general play, Northern sprung to life with an explosive six-goal to nil second quarter to set up the win. The Knights’ dare and transition from a high-possession defensive game helped them dominate the scoreboard during middle-period of the game, rapidly building the game-defining margin. Josh D’Intinosante played a big part in that, snaring three goals in quick succession at the start of the term to break the game open. Two late goals as the heat simmered proved consolations for the Jets, who have now lost their last three games. Strong stay-at-home forward Archi Manton had all of Western’s goals for over three quarters and was the sole threat inside 50, finishing with 3.2 from seven disposals and five marks. Josh Honey (18 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s) was also terrific for the Jets with his burst from congestion, with the likes of Darcy Cassar (22 disposals, four marks) and Lucas Rocci (20 disposals, five rebounds) also standing up. But it was Northern bottom-ager Josh Watson who was best afield in a breakout game, collecting 21 disposals, four marks and booting a lovely goal. Adam Carafa led the disposal count with 23 and a lot of work in-close, while Ryan Sturgess (21 disposals, 13 marks) was terrific in the air at both ends and D’Intinosante finished with 4.2 from 13 disposals and six marks. The result now sees Northern host Bendigo in Wildcard Round, while Western will face the Knights’ 2018 Wildcard nemesis, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) next week.

CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 4.1 | 7.6 | 9.9 (63)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:
Calder – J. Sutton 3, M. Fletcher 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, J. O”Sullivan, H. Jones
Eastern – B. Hickleton 2, L. Stapleton 2, J. Rossiter, C. Downie, L. Gawel, R. Smith, J. Jaworski, M. Zalac

BEST:
Calder – D. Mott, S. Ramsay, J. Sutton, G. Thomas, J. Cardillo, M. Fletcher
Eastern – L. Stapleton, J. Ross, Z. Pretty, M. Mellis, R. Smith, M. Zalac

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges snatched a dramatic after-the-siren win over Calder on Saturday to finish the regular season a game clear on top of the ladder. Bottom-age gun Connor Downie proved the hero, slotting home cooly with his twelfth disposal after earning a 50/50 incorrect disposal free kick with just seconds left. Earlier, the Cannons chipped away well to earn leads at two of the first three breaks and looked to have done enough to hold off the Ranges, with Mason Fletcher converting as time ticked away. But in the last roll of the dice play at the end of an action-packed final minute, the Ranges broke forward quickly and created the all-important scramble inside 50 to come up trumps through Downie. The diminutive Eastern midfield trio of Mitch Mellis (26 disposals), Zak Pretty (24) and Lachie Stapleton (23, two goals) was arguably led by the latter in a typically workmanlike display through the engine room, while 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie was also influential moving forward with his 17 touches and two minor scores. For the unlucky losers, Daniel Mott was very nearly a match-winner as he lifted late through midfield to prize a bunch of clearances among his 21 disposals and six inside 50s. State combine invitee Sam Ramsay led the disposal count with 27, while Ned Gentile (20 disposals, 0.3) had some nice moments and Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals. The result had little bearing on the final ladder and looked to prove as much in the build-up, with results at the other end of the ladder poising Calder against Tasmania in Wildcard Round while Eastern can enjoy a week off.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.6 (84)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 | 14.7 (91)

GOALS:
Sandringham – F. Maginness 3, A. Perkins 3, K. Yorke 2, A. Hanrahan 2, N. Burke, M. Bergman, C. Dean
Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan 4, N. Anderson 3, C. Sharman 2, F. Elliot, C. Stone, R. McInnes, F. Macrae, N. Stathopoulos

BEST:
Sandringham – C. Watts, F. Maginness, J. Bell, N. Burke, K. Yorke, J. Voss
Oakleigh – M. Rowell, N. Anderson, R. Valentine, J. Ugle-Hagan, J. Lucas, V. Zagari

By: Michael Alvaro

Pure star power dragged the Oakleigh Chargers over the line and into third place with an incredible seven-point come-from-behind win over Sandringham Dragons in the thick of what was a finals-like atmosphere. After the Dragons looked to have sealed the game with three goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter, a Noah Anderson-inspired Oakleigh hit back in style with four majors in the following five minutes, and ended with the last six of the game altogether to snatch victory. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout the game and looked like getting on top on numerous occasions, but Oakleigh’s final thrust came at the ideal time as they charged home to claim the remarkable win. Anderson’s game-winning 24 disposals and three goals were arguably matched for importance by the efforts of Matt Rowell (34 disposals, seven tackles) – who hardly put a foot wrong – and skipper Trent Bianco (28 disposals). The high-marking forward duo of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Cooper Sharman also shone, combining for six goals and a couple of highlight reel moments. For the Dragons, Finn Maginness did his level best to drag his side over the line with 17 disposals and three goals, with Darcy Chirgwin (30 disposals, seven tackles) doing the tough stuff through midfield and Angus Hanrahan influential on the outside (23 disposals, two goals). Bottom-ager Archie Perkins was another to impress with his three goals from 11 disposals, while Corey Watts put in a mammoth effort in defence with 12 disposals, six marks and seven rebound 50s. With an absolute raft of combine invitees and representative players taking the field, it was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent memory and truly lived up to the pre-game hype as a number of top-end stars stood up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 9.9 (63)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 5.4 | 6.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:
Bendigo – R. Wilson 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Mitchell 2, J. Treacy, N. Walsh, T. Dow
Gippsland – M. McGarrity 2, F. Phillips 2, R. Baldi 2, C. Comben, S. Flanders, T. Hourigan, R. Sparkes

BEST:
Bendigo – R. Wilson, B. Rowles, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Ginnivan, B. Worme
Gippsland – R. Baldi, T. Hourigan, F. Phillips, R. Sparkes, L. Connolly, R. Angwin

By: Peter Williams

In a day of upsets, Bendigo Pioneers almost set the tone with an impressive performance against top two side, Gippsland Power. The Pioneers regained a number of players back to the line-up, including Thomson Dow who returned from school football, but were missing the injured Brodie Kemp. Despite Caleb Serong being the only key omission from the premiership contending Power, the Pioneers jumped them in the first quarter to boot three goals to one, two of which came from free kicks and another from a turnover as the home side looked to be disciplined on the day. With Bendigo booting the first goal of the second term, it looked like the Pioneers might start to run away with it, before Gippsland piled on five of the next seven over the two quarters to keep within a point at both breaks. The last quarter was topsy turvy with lead changes galore, and it took until Fraser Phillips‘ goal after the siren to relieve the nerves of the Power supporters. Riley Baldi was the clear standout performer from the Power, booting two goals and could have had a third to go with his 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and seven tackles, while Tye Hourigan was good in defence before kicking what almost looked like the winning goal late, in attack. He had 20 disposals, 11 marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal on the day. Leo Connolly (22 disposals, seven marks) and Phillips (2.3 from 19 disposals and four marks) also showed signs. For the Pioneers, Dow showed his class in patches with 24 disposals, six marks and a goal, while Ben Worme (21 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and four rebounds), Riley Ironside (26 disposals, six marks, five rebounds and three tackles) and Riley Wilson (21 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and two goals) were the Pioneers’ best.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.5 | 8.7 | 14.8 | 15.9 (99)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.3 | 3.9 | 5.12 | 9.14 (68)

GOALS:
Geelong – C. Sprague 6, O. Henry 2, T. Bruhn 2, C. Lazzaro, K. Skene, C. Karpala, H. Walsh, S. Fonseca-Hateley
Dandenong – L. Williams 3, J. Toner, N. Heath, J. Andrews, W. Howe, W. Lewis, W. Bravo

BEST:
Geelong – C. Sprague, T. Bruhn, H. Walsh, C. Lazzaro, J. Dahlhaus, K. Rayner
Dandenong – W. Bravo, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, L. Scott, J. Toner, B. Kuipers

By: Peter Williams

In what was clearly Geelong’s best performance of the season, the 2019 wooden spooners showed they might just have life in their season yet with a strong 31-point win over Dandenong Stingrays. While the Falcons have to contend with the star-studded Sandringham Dragons this weekend, they played a commanding three quarters against the Stingrays before Dandenong booted four of the five last goals to cut the deficit back to a reasonable margin. The Falcons had some troubles with accuracy early, while the Stingrays found the same issues in the second term, booting 1.6 to the Falcons’ 5.2 to ultimately be the difference with Geelong heading into the main break 28 points in front. They did not stop there however, as the Falcons added another six goals to the Stingrays’ two, effectively ending the contest at a game-high 50 points. Lachlan Williams had a last quarter to remember with three consecutive goals – not that it did enough to turn the momentum – while Charlie Sprague said enough was enough booting his sixth goal of the game late to ensure the Falcons had a major in the final term. To the final break, Sprague had booted the same amount of goals as the Stingrays side, eventually finishing with a clear best-on performance of 16 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and 6.1 for the day. Jesse Clark was a rock in defence with 23 disposals, six marks, nine rebounds and three tackles, while bottom agers Noah Gribble (19 disposals, four marks three inside 50s and three behinds) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and a goal) were also impressive. Assisting Sprague in attack was Oliver Henry with two goals from 12 touches and always presenting, while bottom-ager Tanner Bruhn showed no signs that he was coming off a long-term injury, booting two majors and could have had a third, with 16 disposals, two marks, four tackles and six inside 50s. For Dandenong, William Lewis had 24 disposals, two marks, four tackles, nine inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the best across four quarters, while Luca Goonan had a superb first half to finish with 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles and three inside 50s. Jack Toner (20 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Hayden Young (17 disposals, three marks three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles) tried hard, while Cody Weightman had his moments, finishing with 16 disposals and three behinds.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 8.11 (59)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 5.14 (44)

GOALS:
GWV – M. Martin 3, M. Lloyd, J. Rentsch, F. Marris, R. Polkinghorne, B. Hobbs
Murray – J. Boyer, T. Panuccio, D. Bedendo, B. Kelly, W. Chandler

BEST:
GWV – C. Molan, M. Martin, C. Craig-Peters, J. Rantall, F. Marris, P. Glanford
Murray – N. Irvine, S. Durham, L. Fiore, J. Chalcraft, C. McLeod, B. Kelly

By: Peter Williams

Given the pouring rain had set in midway through the last game, by the time the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers took the field, the ground could have doubled up for the swimming pool next to Queen Elizabeth Oval. The game itself was not one either side will be reaching for the highlight tapes too quickly, as the conditions made it a genuine slog and difficult for sides to firstly mark the ball inside 50, and secondly hit the scoreboard. Players were slipping and sliding in the mud, with one Rebels play indicative of the weather, going for a run through the middle but as he went to kick slipped in the mud and slid a metre of two along the ground. When it was all said and done however, it was the Rebels who managed to kick away in the second half, booting five consecutive goals to blow the margin out to 29 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, before a couple of late majors to the Bushrangers cut the final deficit to just 15. With 13.25 between the sides, it could have been a lot worse, but at least the sun decided to show up in the last 10 minutes of the match, instead blinding the players who were already soaked thanks to Mother Nature. Cooper Craig-Peters had a game-high 24 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebounds and eight tackles to relish in the conditions for the Rebels, while Jack Tillig finished with 20 disposals, six marks, four tackles and six rebounds. A frequent sufferer of leather poisoning, Jay Rantall had just one touch in the first term and six by the main break, but produced a big second half to end with 20 disposals and a massive 18 tackles in the win. Mitch Martin impressed up forward with three goals from 17 disposals and four marks, as well as a couple of other opportunities, while 16-year-olds Charlie Molan (17 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Ben Hobbs (12 disposals, nine tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) stood tall, as did bottom-ager Nick Stevens (17 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and four tackles). For the Bushrangers, Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals), Cam Wild (21) and Dylan Clarke (20) unsurprisingly loved the wet weather, going in hard and winning the ball in close, while Lachlan Ash overcame a similarly slow start to Rantall with just two disposals in the first term to finish the game with 19 playing in all areas of the ground. Josh Rachele presented well up forward with 19 disposals and four inside 50s, while bottom-age forward Dominic Bedendo had 13 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal.

NAB League Boys: Round 17 – Clubs put it all on the line in final round

THE big guns are back in action for the final regular season NAB League round, with the safety of third position up for grabs in what is arguably the game of the weekend between Sandringham and Oakleigh. As has become tradition, the six games will be played over two triple-headers, with Saturday’s all-metro games to be played in Werribee, and Sunday’s all-country fixtures in Bendigo.

WESTERN JETS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday August 17, 10:00am
Avalon Airport Oval

Both the Western Jets and Northern Knights will be looking to improve their ladder position heading into Wildcard Round as they open Saturday’s Werribee triple-header. The 8-6 Jets come in a game in front of the Knights but hold an inferior percentage, meaning a loss would see the two teams swap spots. Western’s Round 1 win over their weekend opponents is now the only factor separating the sides after 17 rounds, and the Knights will be keen to get one back over their metropolitan counterparts. They’ll have been chomping at the bit during their fortnight off after going down at home to Bendigo, with Western also coming in off a defeat. The Jets will be boosted by the return of Metro representative Darcy Cassar, who slots straight back into the lineup alongside Metro’s U17 Futures squad member, Lucas Failli. Northern has a couple of handy inclusions too, with Adam Carafa and Ewan Macpherson back after undergoing similar duties to Cassar and Failli, but key overage depth in Sunny Brazier and Oscar Simpson goes the other way among eight changes. Both sides have been difficult to predict in recent games but enjoyed solid mid-season runs, but it remains to be seen which of them will bounce back best from a minor skid. Should be a tight one if their previous meeting is anything to go by.

CALDER CANNONS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday August 17, 12:30pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The chance to finish clear on top looms for Eastern Ranges when they clash with the Calder, with the Cannons still able to go level on points with third. The Ranges have shown few weaknesses across their 14 games thus far, losing just three of them and boasting a percentage 14 per cent clear of their next best rival. Despite keeping on track in terms of clinching the minor premiership, Eastern has encountered a couple of scares in recent weeks to go with a loss to Oakleigh, scraping over the line by a collective margin of nine points against Murray and Dandenong. They’ll have to bring their best against Calder, who just keep finding a way to win on their streak of four victories. They have sured up their side for the task too, with a trio of Under 16s making way for PEGS representatives Harrison Jones, Harrison Minton-Connell, and Campbell Edwardes. Eastern’s answer to that is just as promising, with Jamieson Rossiter, Lachie Stapleton, and Connor Downie among six inclusions at the selection table. There should be no excuses from either side as they once again hit full strength, looking to cap off their seasons strongly heading into the business end. Expect Eastern’s consistency and all-round strength to shine through, but don’t be surprised to see Calder run very closely.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday August 17, 3:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The game of the round pits Sandringham against Oakleigh, with both sides looking to claim third spot and earn a week off heading into finals. As if the stakes weren’t high enough, a raft of big names are back after the close of the school football season as both sides have made at least 10 changes each. Seven Vic Metro guns are set to return for the Dragons, with the likes of Louis Butler, Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, and Charlie Dean adding so much class to each of Sandringham’s lines. Under 16 Vic Country co-captain Campbell Chesser is set to debut as 23rd man, with U17 Futures representative Archie Perkins also slotting in. If you thought those names were impressive, Oakleigh have done their best to show the Dragons up with Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson returning alongside skippers Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco, bottom-age guns Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae, and exciting ruckman Nick Bryan. 16-year-old Youseph Dib will also feature for his debut, and there would hardly be a better home-and-away game to do it in. With the sides so evenly matched and big names popping up across the field, this should be the highest quality NAB League game since… well, since their Round 3 encounter. The ledger is even at 1-1 after Oakleigh got one back on the Dragons in Round 12, so the grudge match should be a cracker.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Sunday August 18, 10:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Gippsland Power will be looking to lock away second spot when it opens Sunday’s all-country triple-header against Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The fixture is a repeat of the Round 3 clash between the two sides, when Gippsland handed the Pioneers their first loss of the season by 24 points. Since then, the two sides have embarked on very different paths; with Gippsland proving to be the standout country side as they sit second with a 10-4 record, while the loss sparked a six-game losing streak for the now 5-9 Pioneers. The Power side, littered with an impressive eight Vic Country representatives, looks superior on paper as the two teams near full strength, highlighted by the need to only make two changes coming into this game. Meanwhile, Bendigo is set to make at least four, with Vic Country midfield ace Thomson Dow a welcome addition to the engine room yearning for a bit of grunt. That area is one the Power will hope to get on top in, as well as up forward as the likes of representative talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben look to match up on smaller opponents. Count the Pioneers out at your own peril, but expect Gippsland to click into full gear when required.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday August 18, 12:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two sides with all but confirmed ladder positions in Geelong and Dandenong are set to do battle to close out their regular seasons, looking to end on a high note. While the Falcons are locked into last place, the Stingrays could move up or down one spot from eighth on the back of this weekend’s results. After an undefeated first eight rounds, the reigning premiers find themselves in a far less desirable situation on the back of their mid-late season slump – losing their next seven games. While a fixture against the bottom side which boasts just two wins may seem like a good opportunity to snap that run, a draw in the previous meeting between the two sides will not fill them with much confidence. Needless to say, that game will have the opposite effect on the much-improved Geelong side which has made some handy inclusions. Bottom-age gun Tanner Bruhn heads them, slotting straight back into the lineup after a long-term injury layoff alongside the likes of Gennaro Bove, Noah Gadsby and Charlie Lazzaro. That added midfield depth bodes very well for the Falcons considering Henry Walsh‘s form in the ruck, and given Dandenong’s Hayden Young is spending more time in the midfield. Dandenong’s changes see Cody Weightman and Lachie Williams inject some pace into the lineup, with 16-year-old Connor Macdonald another who could well excite forward of centre. With the Falcons buoyed by a win last time out, they should prove tricky opposition for Dandenong, who themselves will look to break through for a similar victory.

GWV REBELS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 18, 3:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two bottom-half teams are set to scrap it out to end the regular season, with the GWV Rebels and Murray Bushrangers taking on the honours in Bendigo. The Bushrangers have shown marked improvement in recent weeks after an indifferent start to the season, culminating in a 72-point thrashing of Western Jets last time out as they near full strength. The Rebels have shown similar signs of progression too, picking up three wins in their last four outings after a six-game losing run. Ladder position is a little less relevant in this clash as both sides can only move up or down one spot, with Murray a chance to slot into eight if things go their way, and GWV’s only way up to tenth also dependant on other results. Both sides have sought to add some bottom-age class to their lineups, with GWV adding Nick Stevens and Jack Tillig to the 23, while Murray has brought in Tillig’s Vic Country Under 17 teammate Zavier Maher, with over-ager Ben Kelly another solid option for the key position stakes. While Murray has been a touch more inconsistent, you can often bet on the Rebels being competitive and up for the fight, so this could be a tight one if they bring that intensity.