Tag: nick watson

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 12

WITH Victoria’s most highly touted top-agers recouping on the back of representative action, it was time for bottom-aged prospects to shine in the NAB League. A raft of fresh faces shot on the scene for their respective regions across the six-game weekend, supporting a wealth of usual suspects who continue to perform well. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 12 snapshot

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 (14) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 11.12 (78)

By: Eli Duxson

Calder Cannons:

#8 Paul Pascu

It was the 16-year-old’s third game of the season and arguably his best in the heavy defeat he and his side suffered. Pascu found the footy mostly exiting defensive 50 in which Sandringham provided plenty of opportunities for recording three rebound 50’s. His follow up work was impressive as he continued to try and assist with the link between the arcs, but was missed on multiple occasions when he was free in the corridor with poor kicks. When found, he looked composed with ball in hand and even managed three inside 50s on the day. He worked hard defensively laying eight tackles and looked comfortable in contested situations despite playing against more mature frames.

#26 Matthew Gook

A tough assignment coming up against AFL-listed Max Heath in the ruck, but he provided a contest all day and showed promising signs in open play. At 201cm he looked quite mobile and long which assisted with a couple of nice pick ups below the knees, as well as a nice mark in the second quarter. His decision making was a little on the slow side but there were some positives. In the ruck he got out-bodied by the stronger frames, but he did not stop competing.

Sandringham Dragons:

#1 Harry Sheezel

The Vic Metro Under 17s squad member showed genuine class and composure all game playing mostly out of the forwardline, where he kicked 3.3 from 21 disposals to go with six marks. His first goal came on the run from 40 metres taking advantage from a free kick with the result never in doubt, while his second came from a well-judged mark in the goal square. His third was after earning a free kick for holding the ball where he drilled the set shot. He looked dangerous running back at goal with or without the ball, managing five inside 50s, while his pressure made him look even more so, laying six tackles for the game.

#5 Lachlan Benton

Dominated around the stoppages all game, looking very comfortable in traffic as he accumulated 28 disposals and five inside 50s. He has had a strong season to date, but this performance has typified a solid three-week stretch for Benton as he looks to increase his standard and consistency. Benton’s clearance work was impressive, showing good acceleration into space as well as positional awareness with the dominating ruckmen. He moved well around the ground getting back into defence, as well as hitting contests forward of centre to crumb. An intercept mark and hit inside 50 early in the game set the tone for his day.

#13 Luca Macnab

The dashing rebounding defender was amongst it all game but slowly moved his positioning forward as the game wore on with his side’s ascendency on the play. He and his lovely left boot were streaming off half back early where he showed a good balance of composure and aggression, notably hitting a short target to slow down a frantic play in the second quarter while also penetrating further out of defensive 50 on another occasion. A pair of beautiful hits inside 50 highlighted his ability to deliver forward as his team maintained territory for much of the game. Macnab finished with 25 disposals (season-high), six marks, and six inside 50s.

#52 Luke Nankervis

Playing as a high half-forward for much of the day, Nankervis was often the link player for the Dragons between the arcs using his 189cm frame and his athleticism to provide a threat both in the air and on the ground. He also spent time at stoppages but looked his best in open space in one-on-one situations. He took six marks for the game and his 18 disposals were mostly efficient, showing a propensity for either side of his body. His pressure game as a forward and around stoppages was just as good, laying a whopping 12 tackles despite his side’s control of the game.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Vibrancy for the whole game from Soylemez who maintained his consistency in front of goals with 3.1 from 14 disposals and seven marks. He kicked the first goal of the game marking inside 50 and drilling the set shot. He looked to lead at the ball carrier and often a kick outside the forward 50, using his trusty left boot to deliver inside 50 which he did on three occasions. His second goal came from a contested mark on the behind line which he snapped through truly, while his third was another snap but this time out of nothing, showing a brilliant goal sense. His ground ball gathers were clean and he moved smoothly with ball in hand all game.

#61 Max Heath

It was a super Saturday for St Kilda fans as they watched their side beat AFL premiership contenders Brisbane, while their newly drafted ruckman had a day out and showed why the Saints were eager to secure his services. His ruckwork was dominant as he often held a strong position to direct taps to teammates cleanly, while then also getting after it when the ball hit the deck. His work rate and tank allowed him to get back defensively and mark on multiple occasions. Heath had 21 disposals and 26 hitouts, but it was his two goals and eight marks as a forward that was most exciting. He was able to create space on the lead and marked cleanly overhead at pace.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 12.8 (80) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 12.9 (81)

By: Eli Duxson

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

The mobile ruckman showed his versatility in all thirds after a strong second half almost helped propel his side to a memorable comeback win. Probably tied the ruck battle with Tasmania’s Tony Aganas but looked much more likely when play continued showing good speed and agility for his 198cm body. He started the second half with a couple of inside 50s before getting on the end of one of those kicks himself, and kicking a long set shot from 50 metres. Fitting the evolving mould of the mobile and capable ball-using ruckmen, Murray showed all the hallmarks of being a two-way runner and player finishing with 11 disposals, four marks, and 17 hitouts.

#8 Zavier Maher

A competitive beast who went hard at the contest all game, showing a strong ability to tackle effectively while also keeping his balance over the ball through contact. While being threatening without the ball, he was composed in tight and showed a good step. Maher also seemed intent on finding it in open space as well often spreading hard out of stoppages to either get to the fall of the next contest or be an option in the link. He finished with 17 disposals, seven tackles, and three inside 50s.

#51 Brayden George

The Under 17s Vic Country squad member led all comers with goals on the day booting four straight as he did his best to keep the Bushrangers in the contest. His first came from a free kick, drilling the 35-metre set shot, while his next two came back-to-back to start the second half and drag his side back in the game. He is a one-touch player who marks cleanly on hard leads and looks solid underneath the ball. His final goal came over the top in the goal square as he finished with 11 disposals and four marks.

Tasmania Devils:

#7 Will Splann

The focal point of the Devils forward line looked likely all day using his 195cm frame to mark reliably overhead, leading to him kicking a season-high three goals. Two of his goals came after marking on the lead and drilling the set shots, while his third came from a free kick in a marking contest. He is not a high-disposal forward as so few you are in the key position, but he showed he does not need many touches to be effective in front of goal. He took six marks in what was perhaps his most involved game this season.

#12 Jye Menzie

Menzie is also not a high possession winner but is damaging when he does find the ball as a half forward operator. His speed allows him to lose his opponent, especially when his side regains possession and he drifts into space, but his ball use is equally impressive. He lowers his eyes and makes good decisions, favouring to kick more than handball (nine kicks, two handballs). From his 11 disposals he had three shots on goal scoring 2.1 with his first being a lovely snap from the boundary.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55) def. GEELONG FALCONS 6.11 (47)

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#17 Jackson Bowne

Bowne provided plenty of spark from midfield for the Knights, utilising his speed to exit the contest and bring a rather scrappy game to the outer. He could be seen zipping out of traffic in all areas of the ground, penetrating the arcs a combined 10 times and taking nine marks as he worked to become an easy outlet. The top-ager also booted a goal in the second term and could have had a couple more with more polished finishing, but was quite productive nonetheless.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Clearly the best player afield, Trudgeon dominated as the biggest and strongest body at each stoppage. He was in the thick of things throughout and brought a hard physical presence, getting his hands dirty to win 35 disposals and lay 15 tackles. The imposing Knights skipper led from the front in a ball winning sense and was able to generate some scores with his disposal on the attack. He contributed at least three direct goal assists with kicks to teammates inside 50, while also adding a major of his own by converting a 50m set shot in the opening term. Trudgeon also rested forward and sought to find more green ball on the weekend, but looked most impactful with his work on the inside.

#23 Anthony Caminiti

The mobile tall forward returned another promising performance in Knights colours, showcasing his class as a leading target. Caminiti did his best work when let off the least further afield, where he would lead as high as the wing and help link Northern into attack. His reach was made more effective by generally clean hands and handy spurts of mobility with ball in hand, while that same pattern of movement allowed for ample separation on the lead. Caminiti couldn’t quite put through a couple of tough set shot chances, but snared a snap goal in the third quarter after marking deep on the behind line.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

A mainstay in the Knights’ defence, Fitzgerald was relentless in his pursuit to rebound out of the back half with run and a sound kicking game. His actions proved repetitive, but largely effective, as Fitzgerald hit short targets forward of the ball and constantly looked to move the play on quickly. He racked up 27 disposals (20 kicks) and six rebound 50s, while also displaying a solid marking game as he floated across to clunk a couple of intercepts among his eight overall grabs. With plenty of work to do, the 17-year-old stood tall.

Geelong Falcons:

#1 Will Baker

The crafty bottom-aged forward displayed some of his best traits on Saturday, popping up with little bursts of brilliance in the front half. While quite small at 176cm, Baker proved his toughness and won a bit of his own ball, either spinning out of trouble or leaning on his speed and agility to come away from congestion cleanly. He was able to roam further afield as the game wore on, finishing with 13 disposals to go with his second term goal.

#4 Gennaro Bove

Leading from the front, Bove took his extended midfield opportunity with both hands and was arguably Geelong’s best player on the day. He finished with a team-high 23 disposals along with five marks and six tackles, with three wayward behinds the only thing stopping his very good game from being a massive one. Starting on-ball, he showed typically clean hands and skills in-tight, before finding more possessions in space around the ground. He seemed to lift in the final term when Geelong needed a spark, but his valiant efforts at the source fell just short.

#11 Cooper Whyte

While it was a relatively quiet day by Whyte’s recent standards, he still managed to be a positive forward mover from midfield for the Falcons. Among his 13 disposals, the 18-year-old pumped forward seven inside 50s and looked his best when breaking into attack with speed – particularly in the first half. Whyte also showed good courage on a few seperate occasions; leaping up in the face of oncoming contact to spoil and mark in the corridor, allowing the Falcons to turn the ball over and manufacture bonus chances on goal.

WESTERN JETS 14.11 (95) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 10.7 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#6 Matthew Payne

The diminutive Western forward was really lively in exciting bursts, bringing his pace to the fore on the ball. He snared a nice goal in the opening term after attacking an aerial ball, before recovering first and snapping home the six points. He added two more in the second half, again showing good smarts and quick reactions to take his chances. Payne also broke the game open with a couple of chaining passages, burning forward and looking to get the ball back after dishing off.

#18 Nash Reynolds

A constant presence in midfield for Western, Reynolds looked to push his side forward with intent. He showed a nice step in traffic but was not afraid to cop contact when required, helping set the tone for his side at the source. Reynolds did not quite find the goals himself but provided that opportunity for others, including in the fourth term when he side-stepped the man on the mark and kicked long for Payne to crumb and finish.

#35 Liam Conway

Conway was mega for Western once again, seemingly popping up everywhere at times and boasting the statline to match that notion with 32 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s. When he wasn’t bustling the ball forward at stoppages, Conway positioned well to mark around the ground and was quite clean in his handling. The top-ager’s ball winning ability is proven, with this his third 30-plus disposal effort for the season.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

This was potentially Tsapatolis’ best outing yet, with the Geelong-listed ruckman able to showcase his ruck craft and improving work on the follow-up. At the centre bounces, he looked to tap to advantage instead of just hitting the ball, finding his rovers with some deft touches early on. He also fared well with a couple of strong grabs around the ground, while also getting low to make an impact at ground level and bombing forward a few clearances. He also managed a snap goal among his 21 disposals, and won 41 hitouts.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

Usually a productive line-breaker rotating forward from midfield, Gallagher was made to step up and become a more permanent fixture of Bendigo’s engine room. The pacey Pioneer ended the day as his side’s most prolific ball winner, notching 27 disposals and penetrating either arc a combined nine times. In a different style than usual, Gallagher won more ball in-close – rather than being released on the outer himself where his speed shines. He was still effective in those instances, using the ball well by foot heading inside 50.

#11 Cobi Maxted

In a monster effort, Maxted showcased every bit of his versatility on Sunday in a dynamic display. The Pioneers utility started at the centre bounces, but tended to shift forward in general play and got busy in both departments to finish with 25 disposals, nine marks and four goals. The top-ager used his big frame around the ball to stand up in and break tackles before disposing, but he looked arguably more damaging on hard forward spreads. Maxted snuck inside 50 for two goals during the first half, and provided a more permanent marking option there after the main break. His clean hands and strong presentation were key features during that time, and Maxted capped his day with another couple of majors in the fourth quarter.

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

The smooth-moving defender had a few quiet patches, but looked like opening up the game with his run-and-carry out of the backline at times. He looked stylish in possession and timed his runs well to be released on the outer, sending Bendigo forward in transition with his foot skills and willingness to take on opponents. Faulkhead also got a run in midfield during the fourth quarter.

#29 Cooper Smith

Smith was another of Bendigo’s positive forward movers, as he constantly looked to weaponise his kicks and carry the ball towards goal with intent. The top-ager broke tackles, made repeat running efforts and hit targets in the front half, operating nicely on the outer and pushing into advanced areas. He dropped back a touch more in the second half, helping distribute out of defence and doing some of the tough stuff when called upon.

GIPPSLAND POWER 7.6 (48) def. by EASTERN RANGES 11.12 (78)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Gippsland’s best player on the day, Moschetti again looked his side’s most polished player in possession. The classy left-footer showed good poise on the ball and worked it into space before delivering sharp kicks forward. As the game wore on, he began to manufacture more time and space, linking play on the outer and generating valuable momentum as Gippsland attacked. Moschetti ended with a game-high 30 disposals and five marks from midfield, including a couple of handy goal assists.

#9 Will Papley

In his usual midfield-forward rotation, Papley was a productive and versatile member of the Gippsland set-up. He started at the centre bounces and used his burst of speed to break forward, often getting to the front of the stoppage and streaming inside forward 50. When stationed forward, he initially presented as a lead-up kind of option in a role which defied his size, before getting busy closer to goal with that typical mix of speed and smarts. Papley got on the board early, smothering on the mark before finishing beautifully from range, while adding a second major in the third term with a snap from the pocket.

#28 Zane Duursma

The 2005-born prospect already looks comfortable alongside players as many as four years his senior, and proved as much with some time in the midfield on Sunday. Duursma started brightly but missed a 45m set shot in the opening term, before getting back into the game with some handy work in term three. He displayed good courage to protect the drop zone under a high ball and mark inside 50, before converting a classy snap goal and going on to show sharp skills when running through midfield.

Eastern Ranges:

#3 Jake Arundell

Arundell was at his crafty best on Sunday, stationed forward and contributing plenty both inside 50 and up the ground. He consistently showed high level smarts and evasion, while a zippy turn of speed saw him gain considerable separation on the lead time and time again. The diminutive top-ager worked beautifully in tandem with under-ager Nick Watson, as the two found each other inside 50 on multiple occasions. Arundell snared three goals from five scoring shots, while also twice turning provider in a balanced effort, where he brought others into the game and was a constant threat in the front half. No Gippsland defender could go with him.

#8 Nick Watson

The other half of Eastern’s dangerous small forward pairing, Watson also went about getting busy both up the ground and closer to goal. After missing a couple of chances in the first term, Watson straightened up to convert two majors in the following period and all three of his goals for the day came via set shots. The 2005-born talent defied his size as a viable leading option, leaning on his high footy IQ to also get to handy spots when the ball hit the deck. Watson fulfilled his usual small forward duties with smothering pressure acts and tackling efforts, making for a well-rounded performance.

#35 Max Hall

With some of Eastern’s prime midfield movers unavailable in recent weeks, Hall has consistently stood up as a reliable inside ball winner. He had no trouble finding the ball at the coalface, digging in and proving strong over the ground ball before looking to bullock his way out of tackles. While he tended to bomb kick out of the contest, Hall showed he could lower his eyes when afforded more time and even put through a well-hit set shot in the first quarter. Away from the stoppages, the top-ager worked hard around the ground and his final statline of 29 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s was exemplary of that.

#58 Kai Windsor

Windsor showed plenty during his stint in the Vic Metro Under 17 squad, and carried his form back into the NAB League on Sunday. Playing mostly in the forward half before shifting into the midfield, Windsor was an apt carrier of the ball forward and seemed to enjoy operating in time and space. The bottom-ager was also able to show his skills at time, including on one instance in the second quarter where he provided a goal assist for Arundell as he streamed forward.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.8 (56) def. by OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 15.7 (97)

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

The St Kilda NGA prospect yet again displayed some eye-catching athletic traits throughout the contest, where he was, at times, played as the deepest forward target for the Stingrays. He looked at his most dangerous when he was able to run onto a free ball, with his pace and clean pick ups from ground level giving him the tools to make the most of those opportunities and keep the ball going quickly, with one moment in the first quarter highlighting this best when he got free, side stepped an opponent and pinpointed a kick inside 50 where his teammate didn’t have to move to hold onto the mark. Ended the day with one goal, where he ran onto a kick over the top of his head and snapped the goal whilst being brought to ground. Despite what the stat sheet may say, he created plenty of scoring opportunities for Dandenong with his plays in the forward half causing headaches for the Chargers defence.

#4 Jaxon Binns

The Under 17 Vic Country representative demonstrated exactly why he was selected in that side in his NAB League debut, looking like Dandenong’s best player early on, showing off high work rate and running capacity on the wing. Was far more inclined to kick than handball when he was disposing of the ball, where he regularly got good penetration and showed good technique with his kicking but sometimes lacked the accuracy to make it truly damaging. Positioned well to get the releasing handball from inside winners, able to beat most opponents in one-on-ones foot races. Kicked an impressive goal in the first, winning the ball off the ground in the forward pocket and snapping it through in the first. Unfortunately had his day cut short after suffering a suspected knee injury. 

#35 Finn Jakstas

Looking composed with ball in and well positioned in the defensive half, Jakstas did some underrated one-percenter acts throughout the game that either stopped certain Oakleigh goals or got Dandenong the upper hand in moving the footy. Whether it was tapping the ball in front of a running teammate, laying a smother in the middle of the ground or spoiling a ball in a two-on-one, he was able to impact plays well to win them for Dandenong. Looked strong overhead as well in the defensive 50, following up with clean ball use to teammates. 

#42 James Cahill

Playing essentially exclusively as a rover for the game, Cahill looked particularly good when collecting the ball off the ground, looking clean even when under pressure. Fed well to receivers via hand when the option was there, never just throwing the ball onto his hand or foot if there wasn’t a teammate ready to get it. Worked hard to follow up and get the ball back as well when he could, with one moment in the first quarter demonstrating this best, inside defensive 50 where he handballed to a teammate, got it back, handed it off again, then got it back and kicked long to a leading teammate. He was composed through most of the game, having moments where he just picked out an option through congestion that not many would’ve found, or had the confidence to try and take. His ability to spread from a contest or stoppage was also a highlight, able to burst away from these situations and spot up teammates to get Dandenong moving forward. 

 #47 Henry Hustwaite

Another Under 17s Vic Country representative, Hustwaite was stationed mostly on the wing, where he showed composure with ball in hand, even when caught in congested spots under pressure. His quick hands in close were on full display, keeping his hands free and firing them out to release runners from behind, or pinpointing a handball through traffic to teammate closer to the forward 50. Didn’t kick often but was composed and kicked with purpose when he chose to, finding targets laterally who were able to take space. 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Blake Drury 

In his first outing for Oakleigh at Under 19s level, Drury took no time at all to get involved and show why he was selected for the Vic Metro U17s side, winning plenty of ball around the midfield and forward half, using it well by hand to get the ball to teammates in better spots. Showed plenty of confidence with his movement with ball in hand, never biting off more than he could chew, but always willing to run the ball forward and get around opponents before getting rid of the ball. What was particularly impressive to see from his Under 17s Metro performances, was how much better his kicking looked at this level, regularly putting it in front of teammates inside 50 to run onto, and taking wider options when nothing presented up the line.

#17 Braden Andrews

The AFL Academy member was thrown about positionally again, spending time in all thirds of the ground and showing promise in each spot. In the first three quarters he split his time down back and through the midfield mostly, with his work around stoppages the highlight, picking up the ball from below his knees cleanly and firing out quick hands on the up as teammates moved for him. He looked composed with his kicking when given time in space to compose himself. When moved into the forwardline he got himself two goals in the final quarter, the first of which came from smart positioning in a marking contest, able to run onto the ball as it went over the top and kicking it straight through from the goal square. His second came after receiving a handball from a teammate he was running alongside going into 50 and slotting it from about 25 out. He paid this back later, after giving off a shot on goal despite being in range.

#33 Patrick Voss 

Continuing his impressive run of form in the backline, Voss looked more convincing, providing run from behind than he previously has, not afraid to take opponents on coming out of the defensive 50. This was highlighted best when he went for a run from the back 50 mark, taking two bounces along the way, as well as a give and go, then stiff arming an opponent and kicking the ball inside 50 to finish it off. That stiff arm wasn’t his only show of physicality, continuing his strong tackling that often rattled opponents whilst still being fair. He got himself a lot of marks by being a switch option in the back line, with Oakleigh looking to switch when it was on, but also got a couple of intercept marks showing his strength to push opponents out of the contest, with one being a good sign of courage, running 20 meters to mark a ball that was hacked out of a centre stoppage, with incoming front on pressure. Kicking was good with time to compose himself, but is a general area of improvement.

#57 George Wardlaw

With arguably the highest profile of any of the debutants from this game, the Under 17s Vic Metro representative was dominant from beginning to end with his inside game a clear standout across both sides. Regularly getting first possession around stoppages, Wardlaw commanded more and more attention around stoppages as the game went on to negate his effect from the midfield, where if given the slightest amount of space he’d get a handball away, having a few moments where he fired a pinpoint pass through congestion and past two or three opponents to release a runner on the other side of the contest. Managed to get good spread from stoppages when he was right in the thick of it, able to stay balanced and on his feet when copping contact, still managing to get the ball to a teammate. Wardlaw drew in some free kicks for high contact with how low he gets when picking the ball up and how fast he tries to straighten up. 

#79 Jack O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was yet another Oakleigh debutant, and a Vic Country Under 17s representative over the past two weeks. He showed himself to be a damaging pressure forward. Collected ground balls at speed well, following up with damaging ball use even if he didn’t have clear vision, putting the ball in danger spots in front of goal if he was under pressure. Looked dangerous with his leading, not always sticking marks but getting his hands to the ball. Ended the game with two goals and two behinds, although he set up a couple of goals that he could have easily gotten, showing a sense of selfless in his game and want to get teammates involved.

Image Credit: Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 12

THE Draft Central NAB League Round 11 Team of the Week (TOTW) has dropped, with 24 of the weekend’s best performed-players featuring in a competitive lineup. Player of the Week nominees Cobi Maxted (Bendigo Pioneers) and Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) take out leadership honours in the 24-man squad, headlining a very even spread of prospects from around the league.

Trudgeon’s Knights, who beat Geelong on Saturday join the Western Jets and Eastern Ranges as winning teams with three TOTW representatives, while Sandringham Dragons have four after their dominant win over Calder Cannons. Each region has contributed at least one player, with standouts from each fixture just about picking themselves this week.

There are two AFL-listed players in the squad, with Western and Geelong ruck Paul Tsapatolis starting at the centre bounces, while St Kilda-listed bigman Max Heath was a lock at full forward. Both were imposing in their respective victories, and help make up quite a solid spine.

It was a good week for small forwards, with Eastern Ranges small Jake Arundell pushed up to the wing to accomodate a raft of well-performed flankers and pocketmen. 2005-born teammate Nick Watson is among them, as well as bottom-agers Brayden George, Harry Sheezel, and Blake Drury. The former two combined for seven majors in Round 12, while Drury was a standout rotating from midfield alongside fellow debutant George Wardlaw, who takes his place on the bench.

James Cahill has also been squeezed out to the wing despite playing on the inside, with Western’s Liam Conway and Sandringham’s Charlie McKay taking up starting spots alongside Trudgeon. The likes of Gennaro Bove, Max Hall, and Mitchell Moschetti could all have snuck into those spots having returned solid performances.

There are a few mainstays back once more too, mostly in defence, with Henry Berenger, Zach Morris, and Joel Fitzgerald all retaining their places in the starting back six. Conway, Hall, and Heath are others to feature for a second week running.

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 12

B: Tom Bracher (MB), Zach Morris (TD), Tyler McGinnis (TD)
HB: Joel Fitzgerald (NK), Henry Berenger (DS), Luca Macnab (SD)
C: Jake Arundell (ER), Joel Trudgeon (NK, vc), James Cahill (DS)
HF: Blake Drury (OC), Cobi Maxted (BP, c), Nick Watson (ER)
F: Harry Sheezel (SD), Max Heath (SD), Brayden George (MB)
FOL: Paul Tsapatolis (WJ), Liam Conway (WJ), Charlie McKay (SD)

INT: Gennaro Bove (GF), Max Hall (ER), Mitchell Moschetti (GP), Paul Pascu (CC), Nash Reynolds (WJ), George Wardlaw (OC)

EMG: Sam Banks (TD), Lachlan Benton (SD), Eren Soylemez (SD)

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 12

WITH many of Victoria’s best top-agers running out for Vic Country and Vic Metro during last week’s Under 19 National Championships fixture, Round 12 of the NAB League provided bottom-agers the chance to shine, with many coming off their own representative honours. There were a couple of close games among the weekend’s offering, including a one-point thriller, but some dominant second half showings saw most margins exceed the five-goal mark. We run you through all the results and big performances in the Round 12 snapshot, stay tuned for Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 (14) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 11.12 (78)

IN A SENTENCE:

A stingy Sandringham Dragons outfit kept the Calder Cannons to just two goals, both after half time, while managing 11 of their own to win by 64 points at RAMS Arena.

TEAM STATS:

  • Calder Cannons won the rebound 50s (39-21)
  • Sandringham Dragons won the disposals (341-271), marks (78-48), inside 50s (51-24), and hitouts (44-16)
  • The tackles were even at 68-apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Flynn Gentile (Calder Cannons) 28 disposals, 1 mark, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons) 20 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Flynn Lakey (Calder Cannons) 20 disposals, 2 marks, 7 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s
  • Charlie McKay (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Max Heath (Sandringham Dragons) 21 disposals, 8 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 26 hitouts, 2 goals
  • Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 6 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Max Heath (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons)
3 – Charlie McKay (Sandringham Dragons)
2 – Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)
1 – Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)

NEXT UP:

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges | Saturday July 17, 11:00am @ RAMS Arena
Sandringham Dragons vs. Northern Knights | Saturday July 17, 2:00pm @ Preston City Oval

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 12.8 (80) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 12.9 (81)

IN A SENTENCE:

A four-goal flurry in the final 10 minutes was not enough to see Murray Bushrangers pull off a miracle comeback against Tasmania, with the Devils holding firm to win by a single point on neutral territory.

TEAM STATS:

  • Murray Bushrangers won the kicks (196-190), rebound 50s (30-26), and marks (92-91)
  • Tasmania Devils won the handballs (125-116), inside 50s (42-38), and tackles (66-42)
  • The hitouts were even at 29-apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers) 31 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s
  • Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers) 17 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Brayden George (Murray Bushrangers) 11 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 4 goals
  • Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) 29 disposals, 8 marks, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Tyler McGinnis (Tasmania Devils) 24 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 4 rebound 50s
  • Sam Banks (Tasmania Devils) 17 disposals, 3 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Tyler McGinnis (Tasmania Devils)
4 – Zach Morris (Tasmania Devils)
3 – Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Brayden George (Murray Bushrangers)
1 – Sam Banks (Tasmania Devils)

NEXT UP:

Murray Bushrangers – Bye
Tasmania Devils vs. Geelong Falcons | Sunday July 18, 1:30pm @ Avalon Airport Oval

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55) def. GEELONG FALCONS 6.11 (47)

IN A SENTENCE:

Northern Knights wrestled momentum in the second half with four goals to one, helping defeat the Geelong Falcons by eight points in a scrappy affair at Preston City Oval.

TEAM STATS:

  • Northern Knights won the disposals (296-257), rebound 50s (28-26), marks (73-62), and tackles (71-66)
  • Geelong Falcons won the inside 50s (36-34) and scoring shots (17-15)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) 35 disposals, 6 marks, 15 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Joel Fitzgerald (Northern Knights) 27 disposals, 8 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s
  • Jackson Bowne (Northern Knights) 21 disposals, 9 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Gennaro Bove (Geelong Falcons) 23 disposals, 5 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 3 behinds
  • Cooper Whyte (Geelong Falcons) 13 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 7 inside 50s
  • Tom Gillett (Geelong Falcons) 12 disposals, 5 marks, 1 inside 50, 1 goal, 3 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights)
4 – Jackson Bowne (Northern Knights)
3 – Gennaro Bove (Geelong Falcons)
2 – Joel Fitzgerald (Northern Knights)
1 – Tom Gillett (Geelong Falcons)

NEXT UP:

Northern Knights vs. Sandringham Dragons | Saturday July 17, 2:00pm @ Preston City Oval
Geelong Falcons vs. Tasmania Devils | Sunday July 18, 1:30pm @ Avalon Airport Oval

WESTERN JETS 14.11 (95) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 10.7 (67)

IN A SENTENCE:

A six-goal to nil third term was the difference as Western Jets overcame a half time deficit to beat Bendigo Pioneers by 28 points, overrunning the country region in style.

TEAM STATS:

  • Western Jets won the kicks (191-159), inside 50s (53-45), marks (64-55), and hitouts (49-17)
  • Bendigo Pioneers won the rebound 50s (38-34)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Liam Conway (Western Jets) 32 disposals, 9 marks, 5 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Paul Tsapatolis (Western Jets) 21 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 41 hitouts, 1 goal
  • Nash Reynolds (Western Jets) 21 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Cobi Maxted (Bendigo Pioneers) 25 disposals, 9 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 4 goals
  • Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) 27 disposals, 2 marks, 6 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Cooper Smith (Bendigo Pioneers) 6 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Cobi Maxted (Bendigo Pioneers)
4 – Liam Conway (Western Jets)
3 – Nash Reynolds (Western Jets)
2 – Paul Tsapatolis (Western Jets)
1 – Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers)

NEXT UP:

Western Jets vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Saturday July 17, 12:00pm @ Warrawee Park
Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power | Saturday July 17, 2:00pm @ Shepley Oval

GIPPSLAND POWER 7.6 (48) def. by EASTERN RANGES 11.12 (78)

IN A SENTENCE:

Eastern Ranges made it three-straight wins on Saturday, leading at every break and kicking away late to beat a competitive Gippsland Power side by 30 points on the road.

TEAM STATS:

  • Gippsland Power won the handballs (151-125) and rebound 50s (33-23)
  • Eastern Ranges won the kicks (193-145), inside 50s (50-30), and marks (93-71)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power) 30 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Cooper Alger (Gippsland Power) 21 disposals, 4 marks, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50
  • Will Papley (Gippsland Power) 13 disposals, 5 marks, 2 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Max Hall (Eastern Ranges) 29 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Jake Arundell (Eastern Ranges) 23 disposals, 9 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 goals
  • Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges) 15 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Max Hall (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Jake Arundell (Eastern Ranges)
3 – Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power)
1 – Will Papley (Gippsland Power)

NEXT UP:

Gippsland Power vs. Bendigo Pioneers | Saturday July 17, 2:00pm @ Shepley Oval
Eastern Ranges vs. Calder Cannons | Saturday July 17, 11:00am @ RAMS Arena

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.8 (56) def. by OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 15.7 (97)

IN A SENTENCE:

An injection of gun bottom-agers helped Oakleigh overturn a narrow half time deficit, piling on 10 goals thereafter to defeat the Dandenong Stingrays by 41 points.

TEAM STATS:

  • Dandenong Stingrays won the rebound 50s (27-23)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the kicks (183-163), inside 50s (43-33), marks (64-59), and hitouts (42-24)
  • The handballs (121-apiece) and tackles (60-apiece) were even

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Declan Cole (Dandenong Stingrays) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 9 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays) 23 disposals, 5 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Henry Berenger (Dandenong Stingrays) 14 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 5 rebound 50s
  • Henry Brown (Oakleigh Chargers) 26 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s
  • Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers) 21 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers) 19 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
4 – Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers)
3 – James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – Henry Brown (Oakleigh Chargers)

NEXT UP:

Dandenong Stingrays vs. GWV Rebels | Saturday July 17, 11:30am @ Shepley Oval
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets | Saturday July 17, 12:00pm @ Warrawee Park

Image Credit: Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes | 2021 U17 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro (Game 2)

A FIXTURE adjustment saw the Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17s face off once more, and it was the Country side which came out on top this time around – claiming a nine-point win in Bendigo. There were a few changes scattered across either side and plenty while the usual suspects continue to impress, others also put their hands up in representative colours. We run through some of the top performers in the latest edition of Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro – Game 2

VIC COUNTRY:

#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)
9/11/2004 | 174cm | Small Forward

After a relatively quiet game in the previous fixture, Konstanty ended the game as Country’s leading goal kicker with three majors – all of which were different from the others, but all equally as exciting as he showed the ability to get goals through multiple avenues. The first goal came as he laid a strong tackle inside forward 50 and converted the shot on a slight angle. His second came as Country moved the ball quickly in transition, with Konstanty the only forward inside 50. He leaped up against two defenders and held the ball strongly above his head despite receiving contact, before slotting the goal from about 45 out. His third and final goal came from a long kick inside 50, where Konstanty managed to nudge his opponent off balance and beat the other defenders in a foot race for the loose ball, and dribbled it through. He had his opportunities to get more goals on the board, but chose to do the team first thing and pass it off to other teammates, even if he was in achievable positions.

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

Positioning more up forward than in the midfield, O’Sullivan played a great pressure forwards’ game. His attack on the ball and carrier in the forward half caused rushed disposals or turnovers from the Metro defenders, and quite often he laid some impressive tackles where he’d run in from seemingly nowhere to apply it. Showed some good leaping when he flew for the ball, taking a strong grab overhead early on where he took it at the highest point and followed up with a short kick inboard. He also showed an impressive sense of footy IQ in the second quarter where he got the ball from a teammate, running towards the boundary, then turned on a dime to hit a teammate inside 50 on the chest.

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

Continued on from the previous fixture to be one of the best midfielders across the game, with his balance around the contest being a particularly big part of Country’s ability to get the ball forward often. Played well around stoppages, getting his way in front of opponents regularly and putting himself in a spot to win the ball cleanly, but still able to win it when it was a 50-50 and then get a quick handball out to a runner. The fact he found it so easy to keep his hands free when being tackled by opponents made it easier for him to get effective hands out, with his Metro opponents seemingly unable to pin an arm at any time. When playing more of a receiver role through the midfield, his movement around the contests to get into a prime spot for the handball was good, with his follow up burst always catching opponents off guard, allowing him to get free in space and take his time delivering well weighted kicks to his teammates.

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

Whilst Long wasn’t necessarily as prolific as he had been the previous week, at least to the eye, he still managed to have a big impact in the win, working hard to get handball receives on the outside to keep Country moving forward. Looked at his best early on in the contest where he continued to do the impressive work with his contested side of the game, and follow up clean handballs. A later move into a more forward role would limit his ball winning opportunities, but allowed him to show off some polish with his kicking that he was missing previously, proving that when in space he can execute some penetrative kicks. Showed good smarts and vision as well, with some switch kicks later in the game allowing Country to ultimately get further up the ground than if he had taken other options.

#7 Max Clohesy (Murray Bushrangers)
12/02/2004 | 179cm | Defender

Playing a watertight defensive game, Clohesy was a consistent hindrance to Metro’s scoring attempts as he worked hard to impact the play in the defensive 50, and followed up strongly in transition to provide an offensive threat as well. Set the tone early in the backline with his rebound kicking looking good up to the wings or down the line, and aggression in collecting loose balls meaning Metro had to hit targets or it would be coming straight back out. Showed some impressive balance in the second quarter where he won the ball at ground level and managed to get his way through a pack of three or four opponents, keeping his feet and coming out the other side to deliver long up the ground for a teammate to run onto. Was measured in his pressing from the backline, never being too far away from his opponent as to let them have the ball uncontested, but also in a spot where he could intercept a rushed Metro kick.

#8 Sam Frangalas (Dandenong Stingrays)
20/04/2005 | 186cm | Midfielder/Forward

After missing selection in the first fixture, Frangalas took no time at all to validate his selection in this game. A strong bodied midfielder, Frangalas excelled with his work below his knees, even when under direct pressure, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground with one grab consistently and following up with quick hands to runners when the option was there, or using his footwork to get around opponents. One moment like this saw Frangalas pick the ball up with pressure form behind, fake one way, then fake the other and go on the third time round, handball to a teammate, then get it back and kick long inside 50. His kicking was also solid despite some errors, especially over long distance as he weighted and placed the kick well for leading teammates.

#9 Cooper Vickery (Gippsland Power)
16/12/2004 | 180cm | Defender

Playing in a similar manner to fellow defender Clohesy, Vickery was a more ‘defend first’ type of player in his approach to the game, although he didn’t allow it to stunt his overall game, as he was still able to impact the play away from his opponent, pushing to create outnumbers and get the ball out long. He contested well aerially and was a reliable intercept option, taking some contested grabs in the defensive 50.

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

Started the game looking like he may have a quieter one than the previous fixture, but worked into it as it went on to have a particularly strong second half. Just did his bread and butter stuff, which covers a lot of desirable traits, with his contested work standing out as he was again difficult to beat one-on-one at ground level, and even harder to bring down in tackles. Continually kept his arms free in congestion to fire off some extremely impressive handballs in close where he released runners into dangerous spots, with one moment in the third quarter catching the eye in particular, where he was being tackled by two opponents and had a third closing in, but he managed to hold his ground and get a handball out to a runner that kick-started a counter attack. His kicking was once again impressive for a player that’s almost always winning the footy in congestion, managing to get through traffic and hit targets laterally or leading at him, but he also chose the right options when in space or kicking from a mark. His marking looked improved from the previous fixture, flying high a few times and holding contested marks above his head, able to get on shoulders on a few occasions as well to get onlookers excited for more. Overall, Clark was arguably best on ground, with his defensive efforts resulting in a few promising Metro plays being stopped in their tracks in the final term.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Making an immediate and consistent impact on the contest, Schuback built on the previous game where he displayed class and composure with ball in hand through the defensive half, winning more of the ball and running through the midfield to show exciting glimpses of his potential. Was clean through traffic early on, finding himself involved in congested plays around the top of the defensive 50 and weaving through traffic to dispose of the ball to free teammates – often putting it in front of leading teammates to run onto, or popping a handball over the top for teammates in close to collect and continue moving forward. Took the majority of the early kick-ins where he was balanced with his decisions, kicking to shorter options when the long ones were covered, but running it out and kicking long when a teammate presented well. Held his marks well, even getting a pack mark on the wing early on in front of four or five opponents. Looked comfortable with his move to the midfield, adding a touch of extra class and composure with his ball use and positioning.

#18 George Stevens (GWV Rebels)
14/04/2005 | 190cm | Defender

Playing a similar role to the previous game, Stevens often found himself as one of the last lines of defence for Country. Where others may have struggled with this role, Stevens thrived with his reactions in transition vital to a few of his intercept marks in the defensive 50 to stop Metro attacks. Used the ball well by foot on his shorter options, not afraid to go through the corridor out of defensive 50, and make himself an option for a follow up kick out wide. Was strong with his tackling and ground level work as well, not being knocked off balance and staying in it until the ball was out of play.

VIC METRO:

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

The Eastern Ranges livewire forward was active and exciting as ever in the forward half for Metro. Early on in the game, Watson was roving off packs well in the forwardline, hitting the drop zone with speed and quickly handing out when he won it. Flew for a mark on the goalline and held it well, but it was unfortunately called over the line for a behind. Kicked Metro’s first goal when he reacted well to a teammate moving out of congestion, getting separation on the lead, taking it on the chest and converting. Was present without being exceptional in the middle two quarters, getting a few nice touches and impressing with his kicking, but it was his final quarter that stood out the most, as he slotted three of his own goals to almost drag Metro to a victory. All three were good displays of his forward instinct, with the most impressive being his final one as he got it out the back of a pack on the goal line and got boot to ball before an opponent could.

#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/01/2004 | 178cm | Wing

Demonstrating his class and elusiveness with the ball, Windsor was a delight to see throughout the contest. Made the wing his own for a large chunk of the game, looking particularly damaging with his attacking plays by foot. Had a moment in the first quarter where he collected a ground ball running towards his defensive goals, gave it off via hand and got it back two times, then turned on a dime and hit a centring kick, showing his composure and elusiveness. Held his space well, highlighted best in the third quarter where he was on the opposite wing to a stoppage on the defensive 50 mark, was used by the clearance winner that placed the ball in front of him, where he collected it at full speed, took a couple of bounces and kicked long inside 50. Whilst he had his flashy plays and impressive kicks, a standout feature of Windsor’s game is his approach to ground balls under pressure, pushing opponents away with his hips to take the ball a little easier and burst away after collecting it.

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

Wardlaw demonstrated his strength throughout the contest, regularly able to fend off opponents trying to bring him down, or stand up in tackles even when two opponents were hanging off him in an attempt to bring him down. Kept his hands free through congestion as well, letting him release to runners with his quick hands in tight. He won a lot of first possession around stoppages, positioning well to ensure there wasn’t any opposition between himself and the ball, giving him a clean run at it and quickly firing out hands. Was a strong tackler, particularly around stoppages, making it particularly difficult for the inside midfielders from Country to consistently get the ball out after winning first possession off ruck taps.

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

Playing in a variety of roles, Pascu looked at his best when given an extended run through the rover role in the final term, where his attack on the footy from the rucks’ hands and in the contest was a big part in Metro’s late scoreboard surge. He was clean with the footy for most of the contest, not looking fazed by pressure or congestion around him to deliver well weighted kicks forward for his teammates to run onto without issue. Was defensively accountable throughout the game, with one particular tackle in the last quarter on the wing proving vital for a late goal, as he got a free kick for holding the ball.

#15 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)
20/05/2004 | 184cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Starting the game in the defensive 50, Teal was particularly impressive with his contested marking, standing strong and holding the ball over his head multiple times. He drifted off his opponent to take intercept marks in front of packs early on in the game, and followed up with smart ball use by foot, often looking to switch the ball and get Metro taking up space. Moved into the midfield from the third quarter onwards where he had some nice moments with his disposal, with his handballing under pressure particularly impressive from stoppages – able to read the ball well off rucks hands and then quickly fire a handball of his own to the outside. Showed a lot of courage with his tendency to sit under the flight of the ball in an effort to mark it or receive a handball on the full, not flinching even with contact and then releasing the ball quickly.

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

Already looking like one of the top end prospects for 2022, Tsatas managed to have a major impact throughout the entirety of the contest despite being put into the backline at times, with his burst of speed particularly eye-catching and leading to some exciting plays. That same burst got him separation on the outside really quickly, making him a dangerous runner when given the handball from an inside ball winner, running it the distance before following up with a penetrative kick. His kicking was superb throughout the clash as well, regularly putting it to the advantage of his teammates, or pinpointing it straight to their chest when he could. On the rare occasion he found himself stuck in congestion or in the thick of the contest, his quick hands, and ability to keep them free, meant the ball didn’t get held up – even having a moment where he jumped to collect the ball mid air from a handball, and immediately fired it off to a teammate as he was tackled.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Country evens the ledger with clinical goalkicking display

A clinical goalkicking display from the Vic Country Under 17s has seen them even the ledger against Vic Metro, downing their rivals by nine points at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Monday afternoon. Hosts for a second time running, the Country side made better of their fewer chances on goal, holding off a late Metro surge to win 12.2 (74) to 9.11 (65).

While they had most of the early territory, Metro’s radar was off and Country made them pay. Gippsland Power small forward Jacob Konstanty was involved in the game’s first two goals, first catching Zac Greeves cold in a run-down tackle, and then using a downfield free kick to pass off to Zane Duursma. When Henry Hustwaite made good on another inside 50 free kick, Country were three goals in the ascendancy. Nick Watson, who had a bunch of chances for Metro, finally replied with less than five minutes on the clock, ensuring Elijah Tsatas’ classy delivery inside 50 would not be wasted. Still, Metro trailed by seven points at the first break.

It was more of the same during term two on the scoreboard, with Country able to capitalise much more frequently. They booted five goals to Metro’s one, including the last four, with two of them coming via some brilliant Konstanty forward craft. Country’s ability to hit the leading talls inside 50 was terrific, as were the resultant conversions from Felix Fogarty and Olivier Northam at range. Matthew Jefferson was Metro’s sole form of scoring resistance and moved well for a player of his 193cm frame. His side still trailed by 28 points at half time, despite having two more scoring shots than Country.

Country looked like well and truly running away with it when George opened the scoring after half time, with the function of his side’s forwardline proving difficult to combat. Jaxon Binns’ eye-catching dribbler signalled party time, with the momentum only halted by Kai Windsor’s 50m penalty conversion for Metro. As they had done all day, Country hit back with an instant reply with Northam’s second major, before adding another for good measure to lead by 46 points heading into the last break – with only one more scoring shot.

It seemed as if the sting was well and truly out of the game during term four, with Metro taking eight minutes to get on the board and mount their fightback. But when it rains, it pours, and the visiting side slammed on a further five unanswered goals to finish in a flurry. Watson capped off the game with three in the quarter, finishing with a game-high four majors – though it was to no avail.

Jhye Clark was again a force in the Country midfield and around the ground, along with skipper Oliver Hollands and Noah Long. Classy defender Jonti Schuback provided his usual drive out of the back half before roaming further afield, while Konstanty (three goals) was a menace inside forward 50.

Watson was among Metro’s best and the spark for his side’s fightback, but it was George Wardlaw who started plenty of chains with his tough work in midfield. Tsatas used the ball beautifully from the wing and half-back, as did Paul Pascu and the productive Kai Windsor. Having made a promising start to the game, Will Ashcroft was not used after half time.

VIC COUNTRY 3.0 | 8.0 | 12.1 | 12.2 (74)
VIC METRO 1.5 | 2.8 | 3.9 | 9.11 (65)

GOALS:

Vic Country: J. Konstanty 3, B. George 2, O. Northam 2, Z. Duursma, H. Hustwaite, F. Fogarty, J. Binns, S. Frangalas
Vic Metro: N. Watson 4, M. Jefferson, K. Windsor, C. Harvey, A. Tsia, B. Drury

BEST:

Vic Country: J. Clark, J. Schuback, C. Vickery, J. Konstanty, O. Hollands, N. Long
Vic Metro: N. Watson, G. Wardlaw, E. Tsatas, H. O’Keefe, K. Windsor, P. Pascu

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

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

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

>> Match Report: Vic Metro def. Vic Country

Vic Country:

By: Declan Reeve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vic Metro:

By: Ed Pascoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 9

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

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 9 snapshot

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

By: Declan Reeve

Oakleigh Chargers:

#3 Nick Daicos

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

#14 Sam Darcy

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

#33 Patrick Voss

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

Northern Knights:

#3 Josh Ward

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

#7 Ewan Macpherson

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

#9 Darcy Wilmot

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

#19 Joel Trudgeon

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

#27 Jason McCormick

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

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

By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#2 Ben Hobbs

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

#3 Charlie Molan

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

#6 Marcus Herbert

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

#13 Sam Breuer

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

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

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

Murray Bushrangers:

#8 Zavier Maher

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

#9 Kade Chalcraft

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

#52 Tom Bracher

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

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

By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes

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

#17 Finn Callaghan

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

#32 Dante Visentini

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

#52 Luke Nankervis

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

#61 Max Heath

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

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

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

#5 Jake Soligo

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

#8 Nick Watson

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

#31 Tyreece Leiu

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

#49 Sahaf Ali

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

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

By: Eli Duxson

Giants Academy:

#1 Harrison Grintell

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

#7 Matthew Hamblin

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

#24 Sam Frost

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

#31 Josh Green

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

Tasmania Devils:

#12 Jye Menzie

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

#22 Baker Smith

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

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

#5 Zac Taylor

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

#25 Josh Goater

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

#30 Sam Paea

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

#41 Liam Podhajski

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

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

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

#32 Paul Curtis

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

#33 Billy Cootee

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

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

By: Peter Williams

Bendigo Pioneers:

#15 Jack Stewart

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

#29 Cooper Smith

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

#56 Harley Reid

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

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

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

#3 Miller Bergman

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

#14 Will Bravo

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

#17 Bryce Milford

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

#23 Jai Neal

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

#40 Colby Nayna

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

#42 James Cahill

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

#48 Declan Cole

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

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

#9 Will Papley

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

#17 Luis D’Angelo

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

Geelong Falcons:

#12 Noah Gribble

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

#32 Noah Gadsby

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

#56 Oscar Morrison

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

#60 Toby Conway

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

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 9

FULL competition resumed in the NAB League, with seven games played across Round 9 as metropolitan regions returned to the fold. Four of the fixtures were decided by 33 points or more, with Dandenong romping to the weekend’s widest margin of victory (97 points), while the GIANTS Academy rounded out their undefeated cameo with a one-goal triumph. Check out the key performances and stats in our weekend snapshot, with Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

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

IN A SENTENCE:

The determined Northern Knights stormed Warrawee Park to take home a rare win over Oakleigh, beating the Chargers by 42 points on the back of a five-goal opening term and consistent scoreboard pressure.

TEAM STATS:

  • Northern Knights won the disposals (326-279), handballs (153-112), and inside 50s (42-36)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the tackles (60-57) and hitouts (35-26)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers) 37 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Patrick Voss (Oakleigh Chargers) 20 disposals, 9 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers) 14 disposals, 8 marks, 1 rebound 50, 4 hitouts, 1 goal
  • Josh Ward (Northern Knights) 34 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) 30 disposals, 8 marks, 9 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal, 3 behinds
  • Jason McCormick (Northern Knights) 7 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 4 goals, 2 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Josh Ward (Northern Knights)
4 – Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights)
3 – Jason McCormick (Northern Knights)
2 – Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – Patrick Voss (Oakleigh Chargers)

NEXT UP:

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons | Saturday June 26, 10:45am @ RSEA Park
Northern Knights vs. Calder Cannons | Saturday June 26, 2:15pm @ Preston City Oval

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

IN A SENTENCE:

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels boosted their buffer atop the table with a 33-point win over Murray, kicking away via seven goals across the second half.

TEAM STATS:

  • GWV Rebels won the handballs (199-85), tackles (92-76), and hitouts (55-26)
  • Murray Bushrangers won the rebound 50s (33-25)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) 34 disposals, 3 marks, 9 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 goals, 2 behinds
  • Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels) 35 disposals, 4 marks, 12 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels) 31 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers) 25 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Kade Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) 17 disposals, 1 mark, 9 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers) 17 disposals, 5 marks, 5 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
4 – Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels)
3 – Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels)
1 – Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)

NEXT UP:

GWV Rebels vs. Western Jets | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ Mars Stadium
Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers | Sunday June 27, 1:00pm @ Victoria Park (Echuca)

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

IN A SENTENCE:

Sandringham Dragons dominated territory and did enough to penetrate a plucky Eastern Ranges defence, winning by 48 points on home turf.

TEAM STATS:

  • Sandringham Dragons won the handballs (139-96), inside 50s (64-33), and hitouts (45-21)
  • Eastern Ranges won the kicks (186-175), rebound 50s (51-28), and marks (94-82)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons) 31 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons) 19 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges) 29 disposals, 8 marks, 10 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges) 26 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 9 rebound 50s
  • Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges) 13 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges)
3 – Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
1 – Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons

UP NEXT:

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Saturday June 26, 10:45am @ RSEA Park
Eastern Ranges vs. Geelong Falcons | Saturday June 26, 1:00pm @ TBC

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

IN A SENTENCE:

The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy capped off its unbeaten NAB League cameo with another tight victory, this time by six points as the GIANTS snuck past Tasmania Devils.

TEAM STATS:

  • GIANTS Academy won the disposals (338-322), handballs (150-133), and inside 50s (57-35)
  • Tasmania Devils won the rebound 50s (49-27) and tackles (54-44)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy) 30 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 10 rebound 50s
  • Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy) 29 disposals, 7 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Luke Fellows (GIANTS Academy) 28 disposals, 5 marks, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) 29 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s
  • Ryley Sanders (Tasmania Devils) 25 disposals, 8 marks, 3 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils) 15 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy)
4 – Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy)
3 – Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils)
2 – Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils)
1 – Luke Fellows (GIANTS Academy)

UP NEXT:

Tasmania Devils vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ UTAS Stadium

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

IN A SENTENCE:

A three-goal flurry in the final term saw Calder Cannons open up a tight contest against the Western Jets, eventually coming away 15-point victors at RAMS Arena.

TEAM STATS:

  • Calder Cannons won the disposals (317-279), kicks (206-149), and marks (114-58)
  • Western Jets won the handballs (130-111) and rebound 50s (32-31)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) 32 disposals, 10 marks, 6 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Josh Goater (Calder Cannons) 28 disposals, 9 marks, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Sam Paea (Calder Cannons) 13 disposals, 8 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 goals, 2 behinds
  • Harrison White (Western Jets) 23 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Billy Cootee (Western Jets) 22 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Paul Curtis (Western Jets) 11 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 goals, 2 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
4 – Sam Paea (Calder Cannons)
3 – Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2 – Billy Cootee (Western Jets)
1 – Harrison White (Western Jets)

NEXT UP:

Calder Cannons vs. Northern Knights | Saturday June 26, 2:15pm @ Preston City Oval
Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ Mars Stadium

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

IN A SENTENCE:

Dandenong Stingrays overwhelmed the Bendigo Pioneers forward of centre, accelerating to a 97-point victory on the road with 33 scoring shots to 16.

TEAM STATS:

  • Bendigo Pioneers won the rebound 50s (36-31) and tackles (52-48)
  • Dandenong Stingrays won the kicks (197-150), marks (83-48), inside 50s (59-38), and scoring shots (33-16)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Bode Stevens (Bendigo Pioneers) 17 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 5 rebound 50s
  • Cooper Smith (Bendigo Pioneers) 17 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s
  • Jack Stewart (Bendigo Pioneers) 15 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Bryce Milford (Dandenong Stingrays) 16 disposals, 6 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 4 goals
  • Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays) 22 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 6 inside 50s
  • James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays) 18 disposals, 6 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals, 2 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Bryce Milford (Dandenong Stingrays)
4 – Colby Nayna (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 – Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Josiah Kyle (Dandenong Stingrays)
1 – James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)

UP NEXT:

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers | Sunday June 27, 1:00pm @ Victoria Park (Echuca)
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Tasmania Devils | Sunday June 27, 12:00pm @ UTAS Stadium

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

IN A SENTENCE:

Geelong Falcons stretched its winning run to three games, holding firm against a competitive Gippsland Power outfit to come out 22 points to the good.

TEAM STATS:

  • Geelong Falcons won the kicks (198-166), rebound 50s (35-30), and marks (94-55)
  • Gippsland Power won the tackles (67-57)
  • The inside 50s were level at 41-apiece

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power) 29 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power) 27 disposals, 1 mark, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Will Papley (Gippsland Power) 21 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons) 32 disposals, 9 marks, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s
  • Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 1 goal, 3 behinds
  • Olivier Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons) 20 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power)
2 – Olivier Wiltshire (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power)

UP NEXT:

Gippsland Power – Bye
Geelong Falcons vs. Eastern Ranges | Saturday June 26, 1:00pm @ TBC

PREVIEW | Debuts galore as Metro sides make NAB League return

METRO regions are set to make their long-awaited return to the NAB League this weekend, as the competition extends back out to eight fixtures in Round 9. While fans are still not allowed to attend metropolitan games, one recruiter from each club will be allowed on the scene to observe the next generation of talent, with rules more relaxed at country and interstate fixtures.

As advertised, a bunch of bottom-age prospects will continue to be blooded through the elite talent pathways and there are some absolute gems to keep an eye out for ahead of the Under 17 National Championships. Returning 18th-year and top-age stars also fill out the list of names to watch, while both New South Wales (NSW) academies remain along with the Northern Territory (NT) Thunder.

Scotch College pair Sam Darcy and Scott Beilby have been named in Oakleigh’s side to face the Northern Knights on Saturday morning. Both boast ties to AFL clubs, with the former a Western Bulldogs father-son candidate, while the latter is part of St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy (NGA).

The Chargers will also unveil Tasmanian top-ager Sam Collins, who will make his first appearance for the region having shifted to live in Melbourne this year. 2019 premiership midfielder Fraser Elliot is another 19-year-old back in the mix having had a taste of VFL football, while GIANTS Academy member Patrick Voss is back in Oakleigh colours after earning an Allies nod. Elijah Tsatas is the bottom-ager to watch, an explosive midfielder who was previously sidelined with a broken collarbone.

Northern is also set to blood a couple of promising Under 17s, as coach Leigh Clarke returns to face his former side. Brayden Ham and Josh Hamilton add to those under-age stocks, while Melbourne Grammar student Josh Ward is a welcome addition to the midfield. He’ll operate alongside in-form skipper Joel Trudgeon and Ewan Macpherson, who returns after a stint with Footscray in the VFL.

The day’s other all-metro bout sees Sandringham host Eastern Ranges, boasting mid-season draftee Max Heath. The St Kilda ruck is set to palm down to a formidable midfield trio, which includes co-captain Darby Hipwell, and the newly-formed combination of Finn Callaghan and Charlie McKay. Allies squad member Jack Peris has also been named on the wing.

The midfield battle should be fierce, with Tyler Sonsie and Jake Soligo resuming for Eastern. Dashing top-ager Josh Clarke comes in for his first game in 2021, named in his usual half-back post, while 2005-born talent Nick Watson is in line to make his debut. The diminutive midfielder-forward has serious talent, akin to the likes of Errol Gulden in terms of natural ability which defies his size.

Eastern Ranges half-back Josh Clarke (centre) is in line to return

In the final game on Saturday, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) locks horns with Murray, as Mars Stadium continues to get a workout from the Rebels. Gun inside midfielder Ben Hobbs is set to return for the hosts, named in a forward pocket as GWV boasts an embarrassment of midfield riches.

Allies squad members Toby Murray (ruck) and Cameron McLeod (centre half-forward) are set to rotate through the Bushrangers’ structure, with Carlton VFL listed midfielder Zavier Maher again suiting up for Murray as former Caulfield Grammar schoolmate Josh Rachele comes out of the side.

Sunday’s action starts early as the GIANTS Academy takes on Tasmania Devils in the first game of a Blacktown double-header. Sydney is the other NSW-based academy to play host, taking on the NT Thunder in the afternoon. All four sides boast a bunch of prospects named in the Allies squad, who should acquaint themselves nicely.

Calder and Western battle it out in the round’s sole other metro clash, making for a repeat of the season-opener in Craigieburn. Carlton father-son hopeful Dane Whitnall comes in for his Calder debut, bolstering his side’s spine along with developing ruck Liam Podhajski. The latter is one of a few players afield with VFL experience, including Jets top-agers Cody Raak (defence) and Billy Cootee (midfield).

The in-form Geelong Falcons take on Gippsland Power in Morwell, with both sides having fielded a bunch of up-and-comers of late. Geelong will again go with midfielder Jhye Clark, ruckman Olivier Northam, and forward Will Baker, while Gippsland will be buoyed by the returns of Will Papley and Chance Doultree as Jai Serong goes the other way. 2005-born forward Zane Duursma is again one to watch.

The Dandenong Stingrays enter the fold once again to see out the weekend’s action, travelling to face Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. 2005-born Vic Country Under 17 squad member Harley Reid has shown plenty of promise for the Pios, as one of many under-agers settling into the side. Dandenong will have a bunch of fresh faces take the field too, including 16-year-old Sam Frangalas, along with a strong core of familiar names.

Scouting Notes: 2021 Vic Metro vs. Vic Country Under 17 trials

WITH the NAB League Under 17 carnival done and dusted, the best performers from each region came together on Friday to compete in two trial games. The pair of scratch matches, held at Trevor Barker Oval, will help determine the final Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17 squads set to compete at this year’s National Championships.

Vic Country snared wins in both games, though the focus will be on which individuals made claims for representative honours. That is also the case in our Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of each individual author.

GAME ONE:

Vic Country 12.7 (79) def. Vic Country 8.15 (63)

By: Declan Reeve

Vic Country:

#3 Will Baker (Geelong Falcons)

Was a consistent workhorse in the forward half for Country, looking to get into good areas to be a marking option, where he was spoiled a few times by his opponent but comprehensively beat them with the follow up work at ground level, beforegetting it forward with his boot. The workrate translated to his tackling as well, able to bring down bigger opponents or hold them up to cause a stoppage. Finished the day with two goals, with one of those being an impressive effort, as he sold some candy to his opponent before kicking it well straight through the big sticks.

#4 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)

Another brother of an AFL-listed player, this time being Port Adelaide’s Xavier Duursma, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re the same player, with Zane also a hard-working runner with clean disposal. He genuinely did not miss a target for the game, with his kicking the standout on field, looking to utilise the width of the ground with switch kicks, but also happy to take those riskier inside 45 kicks and always having them pay off. Being a 2023 draft eligible prospect, you’d expect that his size would be a hindrance against the bigger bodies, but when moved from the wing to the inside role, Duursma took it in his stride, winning a couple of clearances with well timed runs and following up with perfect delivery.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)

The brother of recently-drafted Gold Coast player, Elijah Hollands, Oliver showed that he possesses perhaps equally impressive athletic traits and midfield craft than his older brother. He won the very first clearance of the game, where he got away from his direct opponent, and then outran the other two Metro mids to kick well inside 50 and set up Country’s first goal. That sort of burst and skill continued to be on display throughout the contest. His work rate was immense, with some particularly good defensive work in-close where he intercepted a few handballs from Metro, that were only going from a player 2 meters away from their intended target, and then pumped the ball long forward before he could be wrapped up and brought to ground. Also like his brother, he is impactful forward of centre, taking some good grabs in the forward half and getting himself a goal in the first quarter.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)

Earning comparisons to AFL Rising Star Winner Caleb Serong from onlookers, it’s not hard to see why Long recieved such high praise. Despite being shorter than most of the opposing midfielders, Long was consistently harder at it on the inside and came off best most times when the ball was contested. Something that really stuck, was he seemed to want to run through packs rather than just run in and win the ball, with his ferociousness meaning he often succeeded and then disposed of it quickly by hand to the outside. Unsurprisingly, this was all paired with possibly the highest defensive workrate on the ground, running both ways and often seen deep in defence to help out his team, with his strong tackling and physicality troubling Metro.

#12 Bailey Humphrey (Gippsland Power)

Really came into the game in the second half where he was a strong defensive presence in the midfield, putting himself in good spots to tackle opponents that thought they had gotten clear out of a stoppage or contest, really driving them into the ground. Also showed some strong aerial strength, where he took some crucial marks, including one particularly impressive contested grab over a pack of four or five other players.

#19 Ashtyn Atkinson (Murray Bushrangers)

A real natural and crafty forward, Ashtyn finished the day with three goals from smart leads and positioning, but could have easily had 5 or 6 had his conversion from set shots been a little higher. The sheer amount of marks inside 50 he got was impressive, and highlighted his ability to lead to the right spots and get separation on those leads, with a quick first three-to-four steps being a big part of that.

#22 Ned Moodie (Dandenong Stingrays)

Despite being on the end of the Hollands’ clearance at the very start of the game, then passing it off to a teammate who kicked the opening goal, he was relatively quiet in the first half of the game where he spent most of his time up forward. It was in the second half when he be moved into the midfield where Moodie showed his potential as a big bodied inside ball winner. He won a few clearances and showed quick, clean hands on the run, as well as a high level work rate, often being involved multiple times in the same chain of play leading forward.

#25 Nate Pipicelli (Gippsland Power)

Played at both ends, kicking the first goal of the match but then going quiet for quite some time, before bobbing up to be one of the better players in the second half as the Country full back. It was there where he took some good intercept grabs in front of packs, but also knew not to get sucked into forming packs, holding out the back to take some easy grabs because everyone was caught too far in front. 

#26 Aaron Cadman (GWV Rebels)

Similar to Atkinson, Cadman just seemed to understand what was required of him as a forward, getting to the right spots to mark, or being in the right place at the right time to receive a handball to get himself a goal, ending the game with three.

#30 Jess McManus (Dandenong Stingrays)

Played in all thirds of the ground, starting as a defender where he took some good grabs working in front of his opponents, or spoiled strongly when stuck behind. Then moved into the ruck where he fought hard for front position in every battle, and followed up much better at ground level than his opponent, even getting himself some free kicks when tackling opponents who tried to get past him. Then moved into the forwardline where he showed a real prowess for leading into good spots with purpose.

Vic Metro:

#2 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)

It’s incredible that a player who is a year younger than those he’s playing against, and standing at only 168 cm, can have such a high level performance, arguably best afield for the match across both teams. Watson just consistently had a crack throughout the game, showing enormous bravery with his hunt for the ball, and going back with the flight to take strong marks multiple times – even having a few moments where his speed let him run a good 20-25 meters to take an intercept mark just outside of Metro’s forward 50, against opponents 20cm taller than him. He has blistering speed which allows him to get separation that not many others can, while also seeing him dash away from packs before anyone else has realised what’s happened. He was rewarded for such a well rounded performance with a goal in the third quarter, after setting up four or five himself.

#4 Reuben Rode (Calder Cannons)

The Essendon NGA prospect played up both ends and utilised his scintillating speed and agility to, at times, embarrass opponents with how well he managed to weave through traffic or take them on. His speed was his main weapon though, running head-on to spilled balls around the defensive 50 to then deliver kicks out to the wing, in an attempt to keep his disposals safe. When the ball was inside forward 50 he set up well on the outer, taking some uncontested intercept marks to deliver straight back inside.

#5 Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers)

Skipper for Metro in this game, Drury worked his way into the contest as it went on, where he eventually got his move into the midfield and decided he didn’t like other players winning clearances. There was a passage in the fourth quarter in particular, where it felt like he won six or seven clearances in a row, just reading the ball off the ruck tap exceptionally well, taking a few really quick steps to get space and momentum, before delivering long inside 50 to create pressure for the Country defence. Country rotated different players on him, but he just kept on doing it. Presented well as an option around the ground as well, using his kicking skill to move the ball more centrally going forward. 

#6 Alwyn Davey Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers)

Whilst not racking up the most ball of the day, he had some absolute moments of brilliance where you could see the excitement he’ll bring to the game in a few years. Clean below his knees, Davey took the ball with one grab consistently, showing amazing speed that he maintained even when turning 180 degrees. He took on opponents consistently with a few bounces and weaved here and there. Got a brilliant goal assist in the second quarter where he crumbed the ball perfectly from the pack and fired of a handball to a loose teammate who capitalised.

#8 Cooper Harvey (Northern Knights)

A game that was truly made up of two halves for Harvey. In the first half he played his usual role as a smaller forward target, capable of making smart and well timed leads, while linking up well with Nick Watson to get onto the end of some genuine bullet kicks – looking more than comfortable taking them out in front and on the chest. He didn’t always convert to goal, with a couple shots falling short but ending up in the right areas. The one attempt he did slot came from right in front after again leading well. In the second half, he moved into the rover role almost permanently, where that same marking prowess was dangerous and heavily utilised by Metro when looking to slow down the play. He’d look for options most others wouldn’t. In a game where long bombs were common, he lowered the eyes to hit leading targets or switch kick options which made him standout amongst the midfield group. 

#10 Darcy Edmends (Northern Knights)

The word ‘class’ gets thrown about a lot these days, but this kid genuinely demonstrates it in its truest form. Starting the game on the wing, Edmends used his composure well, timing his runs perfectly and holding space as to allow his teammates to break out if they could. If not, he would remain close enough to get the hands on the outside, where his kicking forward or across the ground was a treat to watch. Just had moments where he looked a class above anyone else in his area, with many plays where he was being closed in on by multiple opponents, but weaved through them like they were frozen in place. He was also the standout for drawing opponents in to give more space to teammates to run into, holding the ball until the very last second he could and then releasing, copping contact if needed. Moved into the backline in the second half, where he positioned well for uncontested chest marks.

#11 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)

The standout inside midfielder for the game, Wardlaw is a commanding physical presence around stoppages, able to get to top speed with only a few steps. If he gets a clean run at the ball, you can chalk it in for a clearance, and if he doesn’t, you can guarantee that he’ll run through whoever is in the way to get it. What was most impressive was how clean and quick his hands were in-close, just knowing where his teammates were when he had the ball and firing out sharp and accurate handballs. While his kicking was rushed at times, he still got good distance and penetration to quickly move forward. Had a great show of courage in the third quarter, where he was playing as a defender, and went back with the flight of the ball in an attempt to mark it overhead, but collided heavily with a Country player. Not allowing this to stop his hunt for the ball, he then dived across to pick it up and handball to a teammate in the corridor, before going off for the rest of the game icing his calf.

#24 Matthew Jefferson (Oakleigh Chargers)

Does this kid have sticky hands or what? Seemed to mark any ball that was in the air within 10 meters of him, seriously challenging the Country defence as they rotated players constantly in an effort to disturb his aerial impact. Two of his three goals came directly from contested marks, and what would’ve been five or so scoring opportunities created from kicks he earned from marks. His ball use was good as well, putting it in front of teammates to run onto easily and take it on the chest. His three goals obviously suggest his set shots are reliable when he’s in range.

GAME TWO:

Vic Country 13.11 (89) def. Vic Country 8.10 (58)

By: Ed Pascoe

Vic Country:

#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)

The exciting small forward from Gippsland looked dangerous early, kicking his only two goals in the first quarter to get Country off to a great start. The 176cm pocket rocket showed he could make an impact overhead and at ground level, with his first goal coming from a nice lead up mark before the converted set shot from 40 metres, while a great snap goal in the pocket on his opposite foot highlighted his class. He wouldn’t add to his goal tally and was a bit quieter as the game went on, but he still showed great skill and forward pressure and could be a handful for Vic Country at the Under 17 championships.

#9 Jai McGough (Geelong Falcons)

The speedy small defender with the long sleeves had plenty of the ball, being trusted with kick-outs early in the game and showing great creativity and vision by foot. The 178cm McGough offered plenty of drive from half-back and wasn’t hard to miss with his speed. He would later bring those traits to the wing in the second half and would still win plenty of the ball and help drive it forward for Country, even having a running shot at goal despite missing. The Geelong Falcons prospect looks very exciting and one to keep an eye on with his dash.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)

Usually a smooth moving midfielder for Gippsland Power, Schuback was used at half-back early on, offering plenty of skill and composure in the back half. Schuback started to look more damaging on a wing, kicking a behind from a long shot from 50, while a 50-metre penalty would give him his first goal which he slotted calmly. The 185cm prospect played a similar type of game to that of Josh Browne who is a 2021 prospect out of East Fremantle, and Schuback should be an important cog in Vic Country’s midfield depth during the Under 17 championships.

#17 Ted Clohesy (Geelong Falcons)

With a no-fuss haircut, the 182cm Geelong Falcons midfielder proved tough and damaging, playing a contested and efficient game through the midfield while also looking dynamic forward of centre, where he would kick two very nice goals. Despite a light frame, Clohesy wasn’t afraid of winning the hard ball and to balance out his contested side, he would use the ball well on the outside and really move it forward well. Clohesy did his chances of playing for Country at this year’s Under 17 carnival no harm.

#20 Brayden George (Murray Bushrangers)

Game 1 had a Murray Bushrangers forward at 185cm in Ashtyn Atkinson causing havoc, and Game 2 had his teammate in George do just that. The powerful medium forward kicked two goals in an impressive display. showing plenty of class. The first came from some intelligent work in open play; instead of rushing a snap, he quickly summed up is options and then straitened up to kick a nice drop punt goal. His second was also classy, kicking a great snap goal from a set shot, repeating what many AFL forwards seem to be doing this year. Murray Bushrangers will be a hard team to stop with both he and Atkinson providing plenty of excitement.

#25 Felix Fogarty (GWV Rebels)

The GWV Rebels key forward provided a great target for his midfielders leading up at the ball well and nailing his marks. Fogarty showed plenty of skill for a taller player as well, with the 197cm prospect really hitting his straps in the second quarter to show good agility to get around a man on the mark and kick a lovely set shot goal from 50 metres, which was his only major of the day. Fogarty will look to have a great forward partnership with fellow Rebel Aaron Cadman, not only for the Rebels but perhaps also for Vic Country at the Under 17 championships.

Vic Metro:

#9 Will Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)

The Sandringham prospect and son of gun former-Brisbane player Marcus Ashcroft was one of Metro’s best players, winning plenty of clearances and breaking away from congestion. Ashcroft is a talented midfielder much like his father was, and at 183cm looks a top prospect for the 2022 draft. He was able to kick his only goal in the first quarter with a free kick, but converted the set shot from 50 metres out, showing his great kicking skills. Ashcroft has a great mix of skill and burst from stoppages, which is a highly regarded trait. Ashcroft had a few shots at goal stopped on the line and he could have had a much bigger day, but he certainly looks like a player to watch at the upcoming Under 17 championships.

#10 Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons)

Arguably the best small forward for Vic Metro over the two games, the 183cm Sandringham prospect looked dangerous whenever he was around the ball, showing clean hands and agility when in possession and finding the ball in dangerous situations. Sheezel showed great courage early, going the back with the flight to take a nice mark inside 50 and although he didn’t convert the set shot, he would kick his only two goals in the same quarter. One came from a free kick and another a nice shot on the run. Sheezel was quieter in the second half but he was able to show why he would be a player to watch for Vic Metro in the Under 17 championships.

#11 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)

The dynamic Oakleigh Charger started the game well at half-back, taking some nice intercept marks and playing on at every opportunity. Teal showed great movement in traffic and he would then use those traits in the midfield when he was moved into there in the second half, winning plenty of the ball and escaping congestion well, while also using his clean hands to his advantage. Teal looks like a player to watch for Vic Metro at the championships and he could play a variety of roles at 184cm.

#12 Zac Greeves (Eastern Ranges)

The Eastern Ranges prospect isn’t too dissimilar to Luke Teal in size and style and like Teal, showed some good form in all areas of the ground. A strong player at 185cm, Greeves showed a great willingness to take the game on and he moved well in traffic and looked a very composed player under pressure, willing to stay strong and brace for impact. Before the Under 17 championships start he will certainly be one to watch for Caulfield Grammar in the APS.

#21 Will Elliott (Oakleigh Chargers) 

The athletic young ruckman from Oakleigh Chargers had some real eye-catching moments both in the ruck and up forward. He had plenty of good moments on every line, with a strong contested intercept mark on the last line in defence during the third quarter and a nice bit of play in the last quarter showing good agility under pressure, along with good composure to then handpass to a teammate to set up a goal. Elliot might not be a starting ruck for Metro at the championships but he was able to show plenty of traits behind the play and up forward to make him a potentially versatile prospect at 200cm.