Tag: oliver davis

Scouting Notes: 2021 AFL U19 National Championships – Queensland vs. Tasmania

QUEENSLAND and Tasmania locked horns in back-to-back representative fixtures on Friday, with either states’ brightest Under 17 and 19 prospects taking the field in Yeronga. The home side came out narrow two-point victors in the Under 19 main event, controlling the match but forced to survive a late Tasmanian flurry to salute 9.8 (62) to 8.12 (60). The match also served as an Allies selection audition, with a fixture against South Australia set for Sunday. We take you through some of the top performers from either top-age squad, with notes on the Under 17s game to come tomorrow.

>> Match Report: AFL U19s – Queensland vs. Tasmania

QUEENSLAND:

By: Declan Reeve

#15 Cody Harrington (Broadbeach/Suns Academy)
9/10/2004 | 178cm | 70kg

One of three bottom-agers in the Queensland squad, Harrington worked into the game slowly but surely with some flashes of brilliance later in the piece. Harrington’s speed and agility are arguably his biggest strengths as he rotates through the forwardline and midfield, attacking the ball at speed and not flinching under oncoming pressure. One of Harrington’s best plays displayed this well, as he was nudged under the ball as it flew in, but got right back up and picked it up with opponents coming towards him from two directions, then accelerated away and had a shot from the boundary line which went just wide of the mark. Whilst playing primarily on the outside, Harrington will be a dangerous balanced option as he adds more size to his frame.

#16 Luke Coombes (Labrador/Suns Academy)
19/09/2003 | 184cm | 72kg

Coombes spent majority of his time on the wing and consistently worked into the backline to help his defenders with winning the ball or providing a switch option, patrolling his side of the ground well. Coombes’ ball use was also reliable throughout the game with very few bad decisions or poor disposals.

#18 Jaspa Fletcher (Sherwood/Lions Academy)
24/02/2004 | 179cm | 72kg

Whilst not accumulating massive amounts of the footy, Fletcher was classy and composed with the ball when he won it, not needing too much time to assess his options and then make a good decision with it – even in traffic. Fletcher showed a good amount of two-way running as well, often seen in the backline as a switch option or a handball receiver out of the contest and then running hard forward to be an option in transition. Fletcher kicked a goal where he ran onto a spilled ball out the front of a contest that had formed, tucking it under his arm and running his distance, before finishing from about 45 out.

#26 Toby Triffett (Morningside/Lions Academy)
24/02/2002 | 188cm | 85kg 

Not necessarily flashy in his play but one that catches the eye through his sheer tenacity and will to win the ball at the coalface, when Triffett wasn’t the one getting first possession he wasn’t far behind the ball winner to apply a tackle, rarely having opponents escape his grip once he got hold. Triffett earned two vital holding the ball free kicks inside 50 during the day, with one being on the boundary line in a pocket, where he slotted it easily, and the other being on a flank where he kicked to a pack for a teammate to hold a mark.

#33 Jack Briskey (Sherwood/Lions Academy)
18/01/2002 | 193cm | 86kg

Briskey split his time between the ruck and the forward line and ended up being one of his side’s more vital players with his presence in both roles. The speed and leap of Briskey are major weapons for him in his rucking and forward work, able to get easy separation on the lead and time his run and jump in the ruck to get above opponents. Briskey played as a major target for Queensland, slotting three goals.

#36 Will Bella (Palm Beach Currumbin/Suns Academy)
31/01/2003 | 195cm | 97kg

Playing as the deepest forward for most of the game, Bella was a big part of Queensland’s attacking forays as a target for a lot of forward 50 entries. Bella showed some incredible bodywork in marking contests and ability to get separation on the lead, credit to his strength to push off opponents. He took a few nice marks out in front, usually forced to the top of the 50-meter arc and forced to try and kick goals from outside 50, with distance never being an issue but accuracy at times evading him. Bella took strong contested pack marks as well, able to hold the ball up against three or four opponents at times.

TASMANIA:

By: Michael Alvaro

#3 Oliver Davis (Clarence)
18/07/2002 | 183cm | 79kg

After cutting his teeth at SANFL League level for the latter half of this season, Davis has clearly taken some valuable learnings from his time abroad. The Clarence product was a constant in midfield during his Tasmanian return, steadily accumulating throughout the day. He is a noted clearance winner but showcased a terrific work-rate to find more ball on the spread before turning it on in a dominant fourth quarter. With the game there to be won, Davis stepped up at the centre bounces and was super clean by hand, but a touch more scrappy with his long clearances. Still, he showed positive improvements with his decision making by foot, lowering his eyes going inside 50 on a few occasions.

#5 Oliver Sanders (North Launceston)
30/05/2002 | 177cm | 76kg

Arguably Tasmania’s best and most consistent player throughout the four quarters, Sanders proved incredibly productive through midfield. The speedy small was terrific at ground level and looked dangerous when released from congestion, able to gain metres with his energetic bursts. Sanders’ left-foot delivery was another key weapon, and he hit several long targets on the move with burning passes heading into attack. He got great reward for his forward carry and overall output in the fourth term, slotting a goal from close range before launching a 60-metre bomb for his second major.

#8 Zachary Morris (Launceston)
28/01/2003 | 188cm | 88kg

Starting in the defensive post he often owned for the Tasmania Devils this season, Morris had plenty to do amid his side’s besieged back six. The strongly-built Launceston product, who recently won a senior flag with the Blues, was strong in the contest and powerful with his kick penetration. While the ball often came back his way, Morris racked up plenty of touches in the first half and attempted to drive Tasmania out of trouble. He was a touch quieter after half time and eventually swung forward, where he could not quite clunk marks or hit the scoreboard.

#20 Tyler McGinniss (North Hobart)
12/01/2001 | 192cm | 83kg

The sole 2001-born player afield, McGinniss’ extra year of experience somewhat showed with his reading of the play and decisions on the ball. He was a key figure in Tasmania’s defence, chiming in with important intercept marks and showing good intent to move the ball on quickly in transition. His kicking came into play with those aggressive rebounds, as McGinniss showed a nice balance between his tall and small traits at 192cm.

#22 Baker Smith (Clarence)
26/08/2003 | 194cm | 81kg

Another Tasmanian defender who was given a mighty task, Smith found the going tough at times against bigger and more developed Queensland key forwards. He arguably got better as the game wore on, kick-starting his usual intercept game with a few nice grabs after half time. He was a key part of Tasmania’s setup behind the ball in term four, helping lock the ball in his side’s front half as a major comeback was mounted, but ultimately fell short.

#36 Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers)
6/01/2002 | 187cm | 83kg

Another 19th-year prospect who did some learning abroad in 2021, Collins donned the Tasmanian jersey once again after linking with the Oakleigh Chargers NAB League program. He started in defence for his home state and looked to add a bit of power around the ball, but ended up being rushed with a lot of his early disposals. Usually a penetrating kick, Collins began to get that side of his game going with a move into midfield after half time, before really stepping up as he slid forward in term four. Collins hit the scoreboard after earning a free kick 20m from goal, and almost added another major after marking just outside the attacking arc, with his long shot punched over.

Featured Image: Tasmania’s Baker Smith fends off Queensland’s Jack Briskey | Credit: Russell Freeman/AFL Photos

Queensland survive late scare from Tasmania to hold on in AFL U19s contest

QUEENSLAND has survived an almighty last quarter scare from Tasmania to post a narrow two-point win at Yeronga as part of the states’ clash for the AFL Under 19 Championships. After a scrappy first term, the home team piled on seven of the next eight goals to lead by as much as 35 points late in the third term. Tasmania found the momentum in the last 23 minutes, booting six of the last seven themselves to roar to within two points, and even have a shot after the siren for the win, but the kick sailed out on the full. For all the last quarter fight, Queensland held on to a narrow 9.8 (62) to 8.12 (60) win.

In perfect sunny conditions with a breeze blowing to the Queensland end early, it was in fact Baynen Lowe who would have the first shot of the day from outside 50. Easily making the distance, it sailed out on the full, providing an eerily opening and closing symmetry to the match. Despite Queensland having more chances in the opening term, it was key forward Will Splann who marked on the lead from an Oliver Davis pass inside 50, who kicked the first major of the contest five minutes in. Only one more goal in the next hour of play went the way of the visitors, as Toby Triffett‘s perfect set shot from the boundary getting Queensland on the board.

From the second term on it was all Queensland, as they piled on the five consecutive goals including Triffett’s major, with Max Pescud providing a high-flying highlight for mark of the game with a pack effort and subsequent goal. From the next stoppage, Saxon Crozier burst away and launched from 55m in a 90-second purple patch of of bliss. The key forwards started to get involved and were overpowering the smaller Devils defenders, with Will Tasker and Will Bella both converting majors, and the lead was suddenly out to beyond 25 points. A late goal against the flow to Bailey Gillow on the run gave Tasmania some hope, with both Jonty McIvor and Jye Menzie hitting woodwork either side, and the team combining for an inaccuracy 1.5 to Queensland’s 4.1.

Accuracy was the difference in the game and Queensland kept the foot on the pedal with Jack Briskey marking well and kicking a goal early in the third term, and then some more Pescud magic found Bella on the line for one of the easiest goals of his career. Briskey gave fans a sense of deja vu as he marked and delivered from an almost identical place as his earlier goal, and the Queenslanders were blowing the game right open with a six-goal lead. Desperate for a major and a late momentum swing, Sam Collins hit up McIvor inside 50 who marked and then made no mistake from straight in front to give the Devils a sniff heading into the last.

That was all they needed, as the top-agers of Ollie Sanders, Davis and Collins went to another level in the final term, determined to drag their team across the line. Collins was thrown forward and immediately had an impact just 75 seconds into the match, and then a couple of poor turnovers inside their defensive 50 saw the Queenslanders cough up two consecutive goals to Sanders and Menzie. A couple of almost chances drew to a single-digit deficit and the visitors were storming home. Luckily for the home side, Briskey kicked his third with a clever snap around his body to settle the home fans nerves, putting it back out to a 14-point lead.

The boys from the Apple Isle were not done yet though, with Sanders launching a ripping shot from 55m and then in the dying moments, Alex Davies kicked a goal with the outside of the boot to draw within two points. With less than a minute left, the next centre clearance was crucial, and it went the way of Queensland. A quick kick inside 50 fell in front of Bella who rushed the kick and it flew out on the full. Desperate times saw an end-to-end play by the Tasmanians, finishing with Sam Tilley moments before the final siren. Looking just outside his range, he was told to settle down and the siren sounded forcing him to attempt a barrel. The shot on goal sailed off the side and out on the full, handing Queensland the victory.

Triffett was a consistent performer throughout for Queensland, with Jed Foggo providing some good drive off half-back. Crozier was busy through the middle, and the likes of Briskey, Bella and Tasker all played their roles by hitting the scoreboard. For Tasmania, the trio of Sanders, Davis and Collins stepped up when required, whilst Zac Morris in defence, and the likes of Sam Foley and Dom White in midfield, provided good run and carry.

QUEENSLAND 1.4 | 5.5 | 8.8 | 9.8 (62)
TASMANIA 1.2 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 8.12 (60)

GOALS:

Queensland: J. Briskey 3, W. Bella 2, T. Triffett, M. Pescud, S. Crozier, W. Tasker.
Tasmania: O. Sanders 2, W. Splann, J. McIvor B. Gillow, S. Collins, J. Menzie, A. Davies.

DC BEST:

Queensland: T. Triffett, S. Crozier, J. Briskey, W. Tasker, J. Foggo
Tasmania: O. Sanders, O. Davis, S. Collins, Z. Morris, S. Foley

Up the Grades: Which youngsters cracked senior footy?

WITH finals time finally upon us in state leagues around the nation, there are plenty of budding AFL Draft prospects who are stepping up on the big stage. In a look Up the Grades, we highlight some of the National Combine invitees, state squad members, and academy products who plied their trade at senior level this past weekend.

A talented quartet of South Australian Under 19 representatives plied their trade in the SANFL top flight this past weekend, headlined by pick one contender Jason Horne-Francis. After a relatively quiet National Championships dig by his lofty standards, the explosive midfielder-forward sent a reminder of his talents with 24 disposals, five clearances, nine inside 50s and a goal as the Panthers downed West Adelaide. Matthew Roberts also featured as South secured finals, snaring two goals from 13 disposals.

First round bolter Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera also returned to the League grade, though his Glenelg side lost its first game for the season right on the eve of finals. The 18-year-old wingman notched nine disposals and four marks for the Bays. Elsewhere, top-ager Max Litster was productive on debut with 23 touches and seven marks as Woodville-West Torrens trounced Central District. Raw Bulldogs defender and combine invitee Leek Alleer took two marks from eight disposals, while Tasmanian Oliver Davis (16 disposals) turned out for Adelaide’s last game of the season – a loss to Norwood.

There were a few more debuts in the Reserves, including North Adelaide midfield pair Hugh Jackson and Harvey Harrison. Both managed 11 disposals with the latter, an emergency for last week’s championships clash, also kicking a goal. Under 18s skipper and Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate Blayne O’Loughlin also featured for the Roosters, who beat Sturt.

The Double Blues were served well by state vice-captain Mani Liddy (26 disposals, eight clearances) who is in good touch, while Zac Becker also built on his representative form with 22 touches and a whopping 13 rebound 50s in the loss. Up the other end, it was a quieter day for fellow tall Morgan Ferres.

Woodville-West Torrens and Central Districts were the other two sides to field a bunch of Under 19 state squad members, as the Eagles got up by 15 points. Most of them turned out in Bulldogs colours, including debutant Luca Whitelum (21 disposals, nine marks) and Shay Linke (18 disposals, nine marks, eight tackles), who narrowly missed the starting squad.

Adelaide NGA small forward Isaiah Dudley was productive with 15 touches and a goal, while the speedy Lachlan Grubb had it 12 times. For the Eagles, bottom-ager Adam D’Aloia ran out at the level once more and laid six tackles to go with his 14 disposals. Northern Territory native Ronald Fejo was another to watch in the two’s, booting a goal from 24 disposals as West Adelaide downed South.

Over in Western Australia, a trio of state squad guns hit League level after helping the Black Ducks to last week’s Under 19 win. Peel Thunder utility Brady Hough was arguably the pick of the bunch, registering 22 disposals, nine marks, five inside 50s and a goal in his sparkling top flight debut.

Backman Jack Avery took five marks for Perth in a loss to West Perth, while Fremantle NGA prospect Jesse Motlop booted 2.2 from his 13 touches as South Fremantle beat West Coast. Classy Subiaco midfielder Matthew Johnson was also set to line up for the Reserves, but did not end up taking the field at any level.

Three seperate age groups were represented among the Tasmania Devils players to turn out in Sunday’s TSL preliminary final, which saw Launceston qualify for this week’s decider with a big win over Clarence. National Combine invitee Baker Smith was among the Roos’ best in the loss along with Darcy Gardner (one goal), as Noah Holmes again got stuck into his ruck duties.

Bottom-agers Tom McCallum and Bryce Alomes also lined up for Clarence, as did the 2002-born Lachlan Borsboom. In the navy blue of Launceston, Zach Morris continues to provide quality with his versatility, while top-agers Jayden Hinds and Bailey Gillow played their parts off the bench with a grand final appearance up for grabs.

The QAFL entered its second week of finals, leaving a couple more left to play, with a scattering of Brisbane and Gold Coast academy products hitting the senior grade. Suns Academy player of the year Bodhi Uwland turned out for Broadbeach, who secured a spot in the grand final by downing Labrador.

The exciting defender-midfielder was joined by Cody Harrington (one goal) and Ryan Pickering in the winning side. For Labrador, top-ager Bailey Reeves and Mackenzie Riddle were among the squad which will get a second chance at grand final qualification next week.

Maroochydore is the team the Tigers await, after the Roos defeated reigning premier Morningside in style on Saturday. Daniel Lanthois booted a goal for the victors, while big-bodied midfielder Toby Triffett was named the Panthers’ best, as fellow top-ager Saxon Crozier managed a goal and Max Nelson again played his part.

Featured Image: Brady Hough (left) earned a WAFL League debut this week | Credit: Shazza J Photography

State leagues wrap: Some seasons are over, others are fighting for finals glory

IT was another week without VFL and QAFL action, but there were still plenty of big performances and exciting finishes across the SANFL, final round of the TSL, and the WAFL. We take a look at everything that happened in this week’s state league wrap.

 

South Australia (SANFL):

There were just two games of SANFL action over the weekend with Port Adelaide keeping the finals door open after defeating fifth placed South Adelaide by 13 points, while Central District was too strong for Adelaide, winning by 33 points.

At Alberton Oval, Port Adelaide were in control early leading by four goals at the first break, but a big second term meant South Adelaide trailed by just two points at half time. The Magpies extended their lead to three goals at the final change, before the Panthers came out firing to begin the last quarter kicking four straight majors to take the lead. Jake Weidemann took control soon after, kicking three goals, as Ollie Lord booted the sealer with just a couple of minutes remaining, leading the Magpies to a 15.7 (97) to 13.6 (84) victory.

Boyd Woodcock certainly put his hand for the AFL finals after amassing 43 disposals, 13 marks, seven clearances and one goal. AFL fringe players Tom Clurey (23 touches and seven marks) and Sam Powell-Pepper (21 disposals and one goal) will also be hoping for a recall, while Dylan Williams booted three goals for the Magpies.

For the Panthers, Liam Fitt (four goals) and Eamon Wilkinson (three goals) were potent up forward, while Bryce Gibbs (31 disposals) and Matthew Broadbent (29 disposals) continued to win the footy.

Adelaide’s trip to play Central District did not go to plan, with the Crows on the back foot from the beginning of the match. The Bulldogs kicked four goals in the first and second quarters on their way to a 33-point half-time advantage, and the Crows never troubled them in the second half as they won the contest, 11.9 (75) to 6.6 (42).

Nicholas Lange (three goals), Fraser Fort (three goals) and Aiden Grace (two goals) were all multiple goal kickers for Central District, while Kyle Presbury (25 disposals) and Dylan Morton (22 disposals) were the major ball winners. The Crows had six individual goal kickers, as Jay Boyle (25 disposals), James Borlase (23 disposals), Lachlan Sholl (21 disposals) and Oliver Davis (20 disposals) all recorded 20 plus touches for the match.

 

Tasmania (TSL):

The TSL season concluded with finals teams Launceston, North Launceston, and Clarence all recording big victories, while the Tigers had a bye in round 21, but will finish in fourth spot.

Jay Blackberry booted four goals, as teammates Jack Donnellan and Brendan Taylor kicked three apiece in Launceston’s 17.15 (117) to 5.4 (34) demolition of Lauderdale. A seven goals to one first half set up the big win as the Bombers could not keep up with the minor premiers. Brodie Palfreyman, Blackberry and Donnellan were among the best for the Blues, while ex-Lion and Cat Allen Christensen was impressive for the Bombers.

Meanwhile, North Launceston’s 10-goal first half saw them lead by 51 points at half-time as they went on to defeat Glenorchy 15.17 (107) to 5.6 (36). Magpies’ player Harrison Gunther was among the best on ground, booting four of his side’s five goals, while Brandon Leary (three goals) led a group of five multiple goal scorers for the Northern Bombers.

In the other match, six goals from Colin Garland led Clarence to 35-point win over wooden spooners North Hobart. A tight first half saw the Roos lead by one straight kick at the main break, before they hit their straps with a six goal to two second half. Connor Smith and Callum Kilpatrick were amongst the best in the Demons’ final game of the year, while Garland, Darcy Gardner and Oscar Paprotny had strong outings ahead of the Roos’ finals series.

 

Western Australia (WAFL):

There were close games all round in the WAFL this weekend, with a combined margin of just 11 points across the three games played.

A top-five battle between West Perth and South Fremantle went down to the wire, with the Falcons kicking the final two goals of the game to win by one goal. Tyler Keitel had another great game kicking four goals, while teammates Rudy Riddoch (three goals) and Conal Lynch (two goals) were also multiple goal kickers. Aaron Black continues to dominate across the middle of the ground racking up another 40 touches, with Shane Nelson (32 touches) also winning plenty of it again.

The Bulldogs were led by Jake Florenca and Tom Blechynden who both had 29 disposals, and Mason Shaw, Zachary Storm, Haiden Schloithe who each kicked two majors.

At Leederville Oval, it was the hosts who came charging home with a six-goal to three final term, however it was not enough as East Perth went down to East Fremantle by two points. Matthew Young was massive for the Royals slotting five goals, while teammate Edward Simpson booted three. Hugh Dixon and Dillon O’Reilly each had three majors for the Sharks, while Royals duo Rohan Kerr and Angus Scott led all comers with 30 disposals each.

Meanwhile, it was a battle of the two AFL affiliated clubs as Peel got the better of West Coast in another nail-biting contest. The Thunder kicked four goals to one in the final term to defeat the Eagles 10.16 (76) to 11.8 (74). Michael Randall was dominant collecting 36 touches and kicking two goals for Peel, while Stefan Giro (26 disposals), Tyrone Thorne (25 disposals, two goals) and Benjamin Hancock (24 disposals, one goals) were also impressive for the home team. Xavier O’Neill (32 disposals) and Brayden Ainsworth (31 disposals) were the major ball winners for the Eagles, while Bailey Williams was commanding with 58 hit outs and two goals.

 

Victoria/New South Wales/ Queensland (VFL):

The league was forced to cancel yet another round due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak across Victoria and New South Wales. On Monday, the AFL announced the final round of the season will be cancelled and the top eight teams (by percentage of matches won from games played) will hopefully be able to take part in a unique elimination finals format scheduled to start on the weekend of September 4.

 

Queensland (QAFL):

Following its own lockdown and restrictions, the QAFL finals series is set to begin this weekend with the top six teams facing off for premiership glory.

 

Picture credit: David Mariuz / SANFL

Ones to Watch: The draft prospect bottleneck brimming with talent

WHILE the top end of the 2021 AFL Draft pool is shaping up nicely despite constant injuries to gun players, unexpected season intermissions, and the absence of an Under 19 National Championships, a massive bottleneck remains just outside of first round contention. Draft Central released its August Power Rankings update on Monday, which ranked the nation’s 25 best prospects, but had about 40 in contention for said honours.

With such an even crop forming around the 20-35 mark, we nominate a player from each national carnival region who could soon rise up the ranks to feature in future rankings, while also highlighting a bunch of other players to watch as regular season fixtures wind down. Some of the talents listed below were also spoken about in the latest Final Siren Podcast episode, where the Draft Central crew fielded your questions.

VICTORIA

Potential Riser: 

Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

Arguably the 26th player in our August Rankings, Taylor may have already made a case for pushing into the top 25 come September’s edition. The small midfielder boasts excellent skills, vision, and decision making, which is exactly what you want from a player who finds the ball as much as he does. At 180cm, Taylor can also double as a pressure forward and utilise those reliable skills in the front half, but has really found a home as Calder’s primary ball winner of late. Over his last three NAB League outings, the 18-year-old has averaged 34 disposals, seven marks and six tackles en route to taking out the Round 15 Player of the Week. He is one of the form players of the draft pool right now, and is proving difficult to deny.

Ones to Watch:

There are plenty of Victorians in the mix as usual, with most already sneaking into the top 25 – like Tom Brown, Sam Butler, and Judson Clarke this past month. Arguably the next biggest riser has been St Kilda Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Mitch Owens, a winger from the stacked Sandringham Dragons regions. The 190cm gloved goer has done plenty of growing over the last year and was a late call-up to last month’s Vic Metro side. He took his chance well, and was in fine form for the Dragons with 25 disposals, six marks, and seven tackles in their most recent outing.

Fellow Sandringham wingman Blake Howes has previously featured in our rankings and remains around the mark, with his athleticism and versatility boding well for a talent with incredible upside. Having rolled up to the wing from his usual forward post in 2021, the 190cm Vic Metro representative has added strings to his bow and booted two goals from 20 touches in his latest NAB League appearance.

Connor Macdonald and Jake Soligo are a couple of small midfielders with handy turns of speed who have no trouble finding the ball, and can also roll forward to impact the scoreboard. Collingwood NGA prospect Youseph Dib is another in that small category at 174cm, but has a mature body which stood up to the rigours of VFL football earlier in the year. He has stood up in midfield recently with his strength and speed around the contest, but is also able to play pressure roles at either end of the ground. Oakleigh teammate Lachlan Rankin is another to monitor; offering versatility, natural smarts, and clean skills in a range of roles.

At the taller end of the midfield scale, Geelong Falcons ball winner Mitch Knevitt has consistently been a standout for his region at the coalface. While he has plenty of room left for improvement, clubs will likely look at his speed, contested work and 193cm frame as traits which point towards workable upside. Fellow big-bodied mid Ned Long has been sidelined of late, but was in promising form at the start of the NAB League season.

There are a couple of defenders who have also impressed throughout the year to prove their potential, in Justin Davies and Oscar Morrison. Both represented Vic Country and have nice combinations of tall and small traits at just under 195cm. Meanwhile, Morrison’s Geelong Falcons teammate Toby Conway has firmed as one of the premier rucks available, standing at over 200cm with handy craft in that department and evolving influence around the ground.

Dandenong Stingrays midfielder Connor Macdonald

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
22/02/2003 | 188cm/70kg | Wing

A smooth-moving wingman with elite pedigree, Wanganeen-Milera is among one of the more eye-catching South Australian prospects. The nephew of Essendon and Port Adelaide champion, Gavin, he caught the eye last year with his speed and dare on the outer for Glenelg’s Under 18s, and has since plied his trade in the senior grades. After 11 Reserves outings, the 18-year-old earned a League berth with the Bays this season and was even a late addition to the AFL Academy squad in April. His skill and poise on the ball made him a standout in South Australia’s Under 19 trial game last month, and with his collection of high-level attributes as a tall and raw wingman, Wanganeen-Milera is certainly on the rise.

Ones to Watch:

After being considered among the top 10-20 prospects coming into 2021, Norwood midfielder-forward Cooper Murley was squeezed out of out latest top 25. It’s through no real fault of his own though, with the productive attacking runner first missing out on AFL Academy duties due to an ankle injury in April, before suffering a collarbone injury in the opening minutes of a SANFL Under 18s outing last month. With an extended run and some more senior action, he can quickly improve his stocks.

A trio of club-linked prospects have put themselves in contention with sustained form in 2021, particularly at Under 18s level. Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne is quite highly regarded in his state, with versatility and clean foot skills among his best traits. While he is quite light-on, he enjoyed a steady three-game stint with Port’s SANFL outfit this season and has no trouble finding the ball.

Adelaide NGA products Blayne O’Loughlin and Isaiah Dudley are crafty smalls who will also come into consideration, and both have even managed to crack the Reserves grade. North Adelaide leader O’Loughlin is the nephew of Michael and loves to generate defensive rebound with his speed and kicking, while Centrals’ speedster Dudley also has good pedigree, with his high-level footy smarts boding well for a future in the small forward role.

North Adelaide midfielders Hugh Jackson and James Willis have both thrown their hats in the ring as potential bolters, but offer quite different strengths. Jackson has clearly been the SANFL Under 18s’ top ball winner with an average of 31.7, while also leading the league for handballs and inside 50s. He has a handy turn of speed, as does the explosive Willis. While a touch more raw in his finished product, Willis certainly catches the eye with his power and agility in the engine room.

State Under 16 and Under 19 teammates Lewis Rayson and Morgan Ferres continue to be thereabouts too. Rayson’s drive and kick penetration on the outer has proven a consistent feature of his game, while Ferres booted 13 goals from a whopping 21 scoring shots in his two SANFL Under 18s outings this season. Both have earned Reserves berths, while Centrals midfielder-forward Shay Linke has broken through to the top flight this year and showed some promise.

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in SA colours | Image Credit: AFL Photos

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Potential Riser:

Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)
23/11/03 | 176cm/74kg | Small Forward

Fremantle staff and fans alike will be cursing a technicality in the NGA rules which may see Motlop snatched from their grasp. NGA products from metro regions in South and Western Australia are only eligible to join their aligned clubs with a bid past pick 40, and Motlop has certainly staked his claim to be taken well within that range. The speedy small forward has a terrific eye for goal and applies valuable pressure, which he showed in his WAFL League debut for South Fremantle last month. The son of former Port and North Melbourne forward, Daniel, has also featured at PSA level for Aquinas College and led the competition’s goalkicking as a Year 11 last year. He can also roll into midfield but will likely pique the most interest with his work inside attacking 50.

Ones to Watch:

Twin talls Jacob van Rooyen and Rhett Bazzo were highly touted coming into the season and while they have shown glimpses of top 25 potential thus far, may have fallen just outside that range. Claremont’s van Rooyen is a noted key forward who has shown his versatility this year with time in midfield and more recently, down back. A glandular fever diagnosis halted his initial run at League level. Bazzo, an Under 16 All Australian defender, has arced back to his intercept-marking roots of late after being trialled up forward earlier in the year. Both are AFL Academy members and will be key state Under 19s figures.

Among the recent League debutants are Corey Warner and Luke Polson, who are quite different prospects. Warner, the brother of Sydney’s Chad, is a real goer out on the wing while Polson is a mobile and versatile tall talent who is not afraid to run with the ball. Along with this pair, one of the state’s biggest risers has been West Coast NGA product Ethan Regan, out of East Perth. At 189cm, he is an explosive unit with terrific aerial prowess and the ability to cover good ground in transition.

It would be remiss not to mention some of WA’s top performers in the recent state Under 19s hitouts. Big-bodied midfielders Kade Dittmar and Angus Sheldrick have been superb across the three games, while Dittmar’s Royals teammate James Tunstill is a promising type. The likes of Jahmal Stretch and Kaden Harbour are lively small forwards entering the conversation, while Taj Woewodin should have Melbourne’s attention as a potential father-son pick-up. Meanwhile Lochlan Paton and Brady Hough have been solid across a few different roles for the Black Ducks.

Jesse Motlop celebrates a goal on his League debut | Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

ALLIES

Potential Riser:

Sam Banks (Tasmania Devils)
2/04/2003 | 187cm/73kg | Half-Back

Banks has long been on the radar as Tasmania’s standout draft prospect for 2021, having taken out Under 16 Division 2 MVP honours in 2019. He also made eight appearances for the Devils’ NAB League side in the same year and has turned out in the TSL for Clarence. While he was sighted up on a wing and through midfield in the past, Banks has played almost exclusively in defence this season upon battling injury. A broken wrist saw him miss out on representing the AFL Academy in April, but the 18-year-old made his NAB League return in Round 11 and has looked promising with his rebound running and skills by foot across half-back. He could be in for a boost with an extended run and some more showings of his potential in roles further afield.

Ones to Watch:

Banks’ fellow Tasmanians Oliver Davis and Sam Collins have gotten back on the horse after being overlooked last year. Hard-nosed midfielder Davis attracted mid-season draft interest and is currently part of Adelaide’s reserves squad, while Collins has moved up to Victoria and linked with reigning NAB League premier, Oakleigh Chargers, where he has featured in midfield upon returning from injury. Forward Jye Menzie is another in the top-age category, and recently snared a bag of goals in the Devils’ Under 17 vs. Under 19 clash.

There are plenty of Northern Academy prospects who their respective clubs will look at closely. Brisbane has seen the likes of Saxon Crozier, Tahj Abberley, Toby Triffett, Charlie Bowes, and Will Tasker take strides at state league level this year, having all remained in the Lions’ system as 19-year-old talents. Gold Coast has more 2003-born talents in the pipeline, including AFL Academy member Austin Harris. He, too has gained VFL experience along with defender Bodhi Uwland and twin talls Will Bella and Jack Johnston.

Elsewhere, Giants Academy member Josh Green (brother of Tom) trained with Richmond during preseason and may still have some interest, while Murray Bushrangers prospects Charlie Byrne and Cameron McLeod were among those to have some interest at the next level – both during preseason and in this year’s mid-season intake.

Sam Banks in action for Clarence | Image Credit: Solstice Digital

2021 Allies Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 Allies Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with the 39-man squad featuring players originating from four different states and territories. Made up of prospects from the Northern Territory, NSW-ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania, the Allies are set to field a largely competitive team at the upcoming National Championships, boasting a strong core of top-agers. In a quirk not many other squads will have, there were no bottom-agers selected.

Among the talents from each state are Northern Academy products, with the GIANTS, Swans, Lions and SUNS academies represented, along with the Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmanian NAB League side. With stints in the Victorian pathways competition, all five academies have been able to enjoy an extended run of competitive action, with the top echelon of players also filtering into the state leagues.

NSW-ACT and Queensland are set to be the most represented states, with the former producing 15 squad members – including three from the Murray Bushrangers – while the latter lays claim to 13. There were six Tasmanians included, while four hail from the Northern Territory.

There are a few prospects playing outside of their native zonings, with the likes of Patrick Voss and Sam Collins (both Oakleigh Chargers), Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons), Oliver Davis (Adelaide SANFL), and Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder), and Ned Stevens (SUNS Academy) all competing in seperate states. That is not to mention the four Murray Bushrangers representatives; Charlie Byrne, Cameron McLeod, Toby Murray, and Ryan Eyers.

Standouts in the squad include GIANTS Academy gun Josh Fahey, a dashing defender who earned the President’s Medal as best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. Versatile tall, Stevens is also part of the national academy, as is fellow SUNS Academy member Austin Harris and Tasmanian Sam Banks, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

The Allies are set to begin their carnival on July 8 against Vic Country, playing host to the Victorians at Metricon stadium. They then travel to face South Australia at Adelaide Oval on July 24, before taking on Western Australia in Blacktown on July 31, and ending at GMHBA Stadium on August 14 by taking on Vic Country.

Below is a preview of how the Allies team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Charlie Byrne (MB) – Ryan Eyers (MB) – Josh Fahey (GWS)
HB: Bodhi Uwland (GCS) – Jack Briskey (BL) – Sam Banks (TAS)
C: Jack Peris (NT) – Josh Green (GWS) – Saxon Crozier (BL)
HF: Patrick Voss (GWS) – Ned Stevens (NT) – Jye Menzie (TAS)
F: Max Pescud (GCS) – Will Bella (GCS) – Austin Harris (GCS)
FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS) – Brodie Lake (NT) – Oliver Davis (TAS)

INT: Tahj Abberley (BL), Sam Collins (TAS), Cameron McLeod (MB), Toby Murray (MB), Bailey Reeves (GCS), Toby Triffett (BL)

EMG: Toby Alker (SYD), Angus Anderson (SYD), Charlie Bowes (BL), Sam Frost (GWS), Darcy Gardner (TAS), Harrison Grintell (GWS), Thomas Hofert (GCS), Jack Johnston (GCS), Brinn Little (GCS), Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT), Kye Pfrengle (SYD), Liam Puncher (SYD), Felix Rogers (SYD), Pierce Roseby (SYD), Baker Smith (TAS)

FULL SQUAD:

Tahj Abberley (Lions Academy)
Jack Briskey (Lions Academy)
Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
Toby Triffett (Lions Academy)
Jack Johnston (Suns Academy)
Brinn Little (Suns Academy)
Austin Harris (Suns Academy)
Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy)
Max Pescud (Suns Academy)
Bailey Reeves (Suns Academy)
Will Bella (Suns Academy)
Thomas Hofert (Suns Academy)
Josh Fahey (Giants Academy)
Sam Frost (Giants Academy)
Harrison Grintell (Giants Academy)
Josh Green (Giants Academy)
Paddy Voss (Oakleigh Chargers/Giants Academy)
Jack Driscoll (Giants Academy)
Toby Alker (Swans Academy)
Kye Pfrengle (Swans Academy)
Liam Puncher (Swans Academy)
Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
Angus Anderson (Swans Academy)
Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
Sam Banks (Tasmania)
Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers/Tasmania)
Baker Smith (Tasmania)
Oliver Davis (Adelaide/Tasmania)
Jye Menzie (Tasmania)
Darcy Gardner (Tasmania)
Andy Moniz-Wakefield (Northern Territory)
Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Northern Territory)
Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons/Northern Territory)
Ned Stevens (Suns Academy/Northern Territory)
Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers)
Ryan Eyers (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Murray (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

PREVIEW | The top 2021 AFL mid-season draft candidates

THE 2021 AFL mid-season draft finally arrives on Wednesday night, with around 15 players expected to find homes at the elite level after weeks of speculation and on-field auditions. A spill of overlooked talents from last year’s draft pool have staked their claims as worthy candidates through the elite talent pathways and state leagues, while mature-agers are also inevitably in the mix. We run you through the most likely draftees across both groups, with an insight into how they play and where they may end up.

THE NAB LEAGUERS

It is well known that Sandringham Dragons ruck-forward Jacob Edwards is likely to be snapped up by North Melbourne with pick one, having burst onto the scene this year. The Mentone Grammar student was pegged as a long-term prospect last year and quickly rose to prominence during pre-season in 2021, showing great signs during the Dragons’ intraclub match.

At 202cm, he is a terrific athlete who not only marks well, but is also quite mobile and offers the dual threat of forward and ruck craft. Edwards averaged 12 disposals, 14 hitouts, and booted five goals across three NAB League appearances this season. He turns 19 in December, so has plenty of development left and could well have been considered a first round chance for the National Draft.

There are plenty of other talls in the mix, with a bunch of clubs scrambling to bolster their ruck and key forward stocks. Oakleigh Chargers ruck Ned Moyle is another who has come on strongly in 2021, improving out of sight to also earn a VFL berth with Collingwood. There, he tussled with AFL-level rucks and showed he was not afraid to compete hard, before transferring his ruck craft learnings back to the NAB League in one final audition before Wednesday. With pick two, Hawthorn could be into Moyle, while Collingwood would also be a fitting home, and Gold Coast is desperate for ruck cover at pick five.

Max Heath, a teammate of Edwards at Sandringham who is also completing his Year 12 studies, will likely also attract a Victorian suitor. He has been linked with St Kilda, a team which potentially has plenty of spots to fill given its growing injury woes. The 204cm ruckman was deemed a chance to go in last year’s National Draft after imposing pre-season performances, but was eventually overlooked and made to prove his worth through the NAB League this year. His aggression and physicality are key strengths at the contest.

A region which could produce multiple mid-season draftees is Murray, with key forward Cameron McLeod, defender Patrick Parnell, and midfielder Zavier Maher all attracting interest. Carlton are said to be into McLeod and Maher, with the latter tied to the Blues’ VFL side having trained there during pre-season. Parnell is a dashing small defender who is being monitored by clubs like GWS, where he turned out for a single VFL outing this year. McLeod has impressed of late with his mobility as a leading target, booting a bag of four goals in his latest NAB League outing. Maher made his return in that same game, winning 30 disposals as an explosive midfielder who just needs to polish his disposal coming away from the contest.

Another top-ager on the Blues’ radar is Noah Gribble, a hard-running wingman who has been ultra consistent upon returning from an ACL tear in 2021. The Geelong Falcons product is one of many in this group to have turned out in the Victorian Young Guns game, and has little trouble finding the ball. His knocks have been speed and disposal in the past, but he is hard to deny as a genuine prospect.

Elsewhere, Cody Raak has been one of the better performed top-agers in the NAB League this season, even making the step up to VFL level for Footscray. He is also a Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) graduate, but his home side does not currently have a selection available. Raak, and Eastern Ranges forward-midfielder Corey Preston trained at Whitten Oval during pre-season, and while both missed out on a spot then, they could come into consideration for other clubs now.

Like Raak, Luke Cleary is a reliable intercept defender who sweeps across half-back with work both in the air and on the ground. He is likely to have impressed a number of clubs with his ability to set up play from the defence, and also earned a National Combine invite last year before being overlooked.

Also in the mix are Aiden Begg and Liam Podhajski, a couple of fast-developing rucks who can also play at either end of the ground. Begg, of the Eastern Ranges may be considered despite being injured during NAB League duties this year, and may suit a need at either end of the ground. Podhajski has turned out for Calder Cannons and the Northern Bullants, rotating forward through the ruck as a mobile type who can also impact with his marking.

GWS and Richmond could be among the clubs looking at Giants Academy product Tom Green, who recently turned out in charcoal and orange in the NAB League. The brother of Tom also has family ties to Richmond, and is a versatile type who can play as a tall midfielder, or marking forward target. He racked up 25 touches and a goal against the Swans Academy on Sunday.

STATE LEAGUERS

Among the younger crop of state league players in the mix, Tasmanian pair Oliver Davis and Jackson Callow have created plenty of buzz. The former is a ball winning midfielder who returned to his state’s NAB League program in 2021, before jetting off to Adelaide to join the Crows’ reserves side. He could be looked at by either South Australian team, while Callow would be a great fit for Collingwood. The contested marking beast tore apart AFL opposition for Norwood in the SANFL recently, and is a readymade key forward.

Jai Newcombe is one who, after being robbed of an over-age NAB League season last year, has been excellent for Box Hill in the VFL. He is a combative inside midfielder who Gippsland Power staff were very high on, and he has come on well once again to be in the box seat to be taken under special terms by Hawthorn.

Richmond VFL utility Sam Durham is another in the mix, potentially for the Tigers having shown steady development but terrific upside. He featured in the recent Young Guns showcase and built into the contest nicely. The former Murray Bushranger can play on a wing or off half-back, with potential to even run through the engine room as he fills out.

Of the state leaguers who haven’t yet experienced the top flight, Carlton VFL ruck Alex Mirkov is one poised to do so soon. While he has not gained much in the way of on-field exposure, the 210cm ex-volleyballer showcased his potential in two outings for the Blues this season. He could be in for a Navy Blue promotion, but Gold Coast is lurking with a pick beforehand and his upside is clear for others to pounce on.

In a similar vein, Essendon VFL gun Angus Baker could finally earn his own call-up having continued to return terrific state league form. The 2019 NEAFL Rising Star was in contention for a spot at the Bombers during pre-season and continues to knock on the door having been overlooked there. Essendon has covered the running half-back role well, but has a readymade prospect in Baker waiting in the wings.

The likes of Ash Johnson (Sturt, SANFL) and Tyrone Thorne (Peel Thunder, WAFL) are other exciting state leaguers to have thrown their hats in the ring. Johnson is a high-marking forward who hails from the prosperous Halls Creek region and has good ties to the elite level through his pedigree. While small in stature, Thorne has stood out as a zippy midfielder who has the potential to impact as a small forward at AFL level.

Of those who have already been drafted to the AFL level, Wylie Buzza seems destined for another shot. He has been linked with Gold Coast’s pick after Michael Knoll failed a medical at the Suns, with Carlton another potential suitor given the two clubs’ competing interests coming into the intake. Tyson Stengle could land at Richmond once again, with Collingwood also potentially in for the talented small forward.

Another former Crow, Riley Knight has been in terrific SANFL form and has St Kilda taking a look, while former Saint Nathan Freeman is becoming increasingly difficult to deny given his dominant VFL feats. Geelong NGA graduate Blake Schlensog is said to have matured greatly during his time in Western Australia, while Jarrod Garlett has nominated in hopes of finding a home – though neither West Coast or Fremantle have opened up a list spot as of yet.

NEED TO KNOWS

The mid-season draft order will be structured like the National Draft, following the reverse ladder order set at the conclusion of Round 11. 602 players nominated for the draft, with 18 rookie list spots currently available. Clubs have until 5:00pm on Tuesday June 1 to make any changes to their lists, as the draft is set to commence at 7:00pm the following evening in a virtual event.

Below are the current availabilities per the AFL, again, subject to change until 5:00pm on Tuesday June 1.

Adelaide: 1 selection
Brisbane Lions: 0 selections
Carlton: 2 selections
Collingwood: 2 selections
Essendon: 1 Selection
Fremantle: 0 selections
Geelong: 0 selections
Gold Coast: 2 selections
GWS: 1 selection
Hawthorn: 1 selection
Melbourne: 2 selections
North Melbourne: 2 selections
Port Adelaide: 1 selection
Richmond: 1 selection
St Kilda: 1 selection
Sydney: 1 selection
West Coast: 0 selections
Western Bulldogs: 0 selections

Image Credit: Solstice Digital

State leagues preview: Pressure on undefeated sides

AS the weekend approaches, state leagues around the country prepare for another big round of footy. With high stakes across the board, don’t be surprised to see some thrilling contests.

Victoria:

The VFL will be holding less games this week, with eight teams set to have a bye this weekend as the competition breaks up the matches with the added interstate teams. However, this does not mean there will be a shortage of exciting matchups.

The Casey Demons were hoping to maintain their spot on top of the ladder with a win over the Sydney Swans at Casey Fields on Sunday morning, however that encounter has been delayed due to COVID-19 related issues. The Demons find themselves in first place after starting the season 3-0 with a handy percentage and their big win over North Melbourne last round will give them plenty of confidence despite not being able to head into a clash with the struggling Swans side. Sydney have started the season with just one win from their three games, with their heartbreak from last week’s three-point loss a driving factor for the Swans players.

Sunday afternoon will also see the Carlton Blue travelling to Whitten Oval to take on the undefeated Footscray Bulldogs in a tantalising matchup. Carlton have been no slumps this season, winning two out of their first three matches, and dominating Essendon by 49 points in round three. They will fancy themselves against the Dogs here, but it will be a tough task to slow down their opponents. Footscray soundly defeated the Northern Bullants to the tune of 43 points last week, marking their third win by over seven goals. Prized Bulldog Jamarra Ugle-Hagan continues to find his feet at this level, so expect him to have a big presence in the forward line. Carlton’s Will Setterfield will be looking to perform at the level that has seen him collect over 25 disposals in each of the last two games.

South Australia:

The SANFL season is flying as South Australia’s premier league heads into their sixth round of action. The most intriguing matchup of the round comes first as the Woodville-West Torrens host the South Adelaide Panthers in a clash that will prove vital for each of the two sides. The Panthers have lost just the one match from their first five games, good enough for second place on the ladder. Their chances will be bolstered by the return of Matthew Broadbent and Liam Fitt, while 17-year-old Matty Roberts will make his debut after a strong performance in the U18’s last round. The Eagles sit just behind their opponents in third place, having won one less game, but will be driven by last round’s loss to Port Adelaide. The inclusion of star forward Jack Hayes will give them a huge confidence boost heading into a crucial game on Saturday afternoon.

The Central District Bulldogs will be looking for their second win for the season as they prepare for this round’s match against Norwood at X Convenience Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs have had a less than ideal start to the season, finding themselves on the bottom of the ladder after six rounds, and have decided to change things up at selection. Key forward Connor McLean has been named in the forward pocket, in an attempt to stretch Norwood’s defence. Norwood could be recalling Mitch Grigg, who is named on the extended bench after his shocking relegation to the reserves in recent weeks. Grigg collected 20 touches in last week’s match, so don’t be surprised to see him line up for the senior side this week.

The SANFL showdown always delivers a buzz around Adelaide, with this year proving no exception, as the Port Adelaide Power and the Adelaide Crows prepare to go to war on Saturday afternoon at Adelaide Oval as a curtain raiser to the AFL match between the two sides. The Power find themselves just inside the top five based on percentage, but last week’s ten-goal win over the Eagles will see them enter this match with their tails up. Experienced defender Tyson Goldsack will debut for the side having overcome a knee injury, while potential draftee Jase Burgoyne will line up for the Power in his debut as a part of his work in the Power’s Next Generation academy. The Crows sit on the same amount of wins as their fifth-placed opponents, but find themselves down the pecking order in eighth place. They will unleash Tasmanian development player Oliver Davis on the wing, after being recruited from Clarence for the rest of the season.

Kicking off the Sunday football action, the North Adelaide Roosters will host the West Adelaide Bloods at Prospect Oval on Sunday afternoon, with both sides keen to take home a very important win. The Roosters have started the season with just the one win from five games, so a triumph in this match would be vital for reigniting their 2021 season. They will welcome back utility Sam McInerney, who will play his first match since 2019, following a series of back injuries, while former Hawk Billy Hartung has been named on a wing in his first game of the year. The West Adelaide Bloods will be hoping to ride the momentum of last week’s win over Central District into this week, as they look to enter the top five with a victory on Sunday. They will be welcoming mature-age recruit Nick Steele, who will be lining up at centre-half-forward for his first SANFL match.

Sturt face a tough task this round, as they face off against the top of the table Glenelg at ACH Group Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the round. Sturt have started the season with two wins and three losses from five games, with their round five triumph over the Crows coming by just one point. They have not confirmed their changes yet, with all inclusions named on the extended bench, and one of these inclusions is former Power player Riley Grundy, who could debut to boost his side’s backline. Glenelg have started the season like a house on fire, winning all five of their matches to date, and will be looking to keep their unbeaten streak rolling. As a result of their hot start, they will likely enter the clash unchanged.

Western Australia:

The sixth round of WAFL action kicks off with an absolute blockbuster, as Claremont travel to Leederville Oval to face off against a fired-up Subiaco side on Saturday afternoon. Claremont have not put a foot wrong in their start to the season, ending round five with a 4-0 record as the dominant team of the competition. Forward Jack Butler kicked five goals from nine scoring shots, so expect Subiaco to send their best defender to keep an eye on him all day. Subiaco started the season 3-0, but were handed their first loss of the season by South Fremantle in round five, so look for them to come out eager to make amends. Ruckman Lachlan Delahunty will play a crucial role in his side’s success, and if he can back up last week’s 21 disposal and 29 hitout effort, Subiaco’s midfield should gain ascendancy.

Perth will be hoping to move up the ladder with a second consecutive win as they prepare to take on a Peel Thunder side in a similar situation. Both sides sit at 2-2 on the season and a third win could see the victor move into the top four after this high-stake game. Perth broke a two-game losing streak with a five-goal win over East Fremantle last round in a promising display and would love to back it up this round. Brady Grey played his best game of the season last week, with 29 disposals, 11 marks and nine tackles, and was crucial in the win, and should prove important again this week. Peel Thunder dominated West Coast last week, crushing their opponents by 79 points, so they will be confident in their ability heading into this clash. Blair Bell is fresh off a six-goal haul against the Eagles, so keep an eye on his presence around goal.

Swan Districts will be looking to edge closer to top spot on the ladder with a win over a faulting West Perth team at Provident Financial Oval on Saturday afternoon. Swan Districts are on a three-game winning streak to see them currently sit with a 3-1 record in second place and will be heavy favourites this week. Midfielder Samuel Fisher is averaging 34.5 disposals on the season in a blistering start and should rack up plenty of the ball in this clash. West Perth have only managed the one win in the 2021 season, and look unlikely to snatch one here, but if they do, it could kickstart a promising campaign.

East Perth will have the opportunity to grab their first win of the season on Saturday afternoon, as they travel to Fremantle Community Bank Oval to take on South Fremantle. East Perth have started the season with a disappointing 0-4 record and sit second last on the ladder. Last week’s performance was promising as they pushed second placed Swan Districts right to the final siren, only falling two goals short of a massive upset. If they can bring a similar effort this week, they may finally sing the song. Edward Simpson booted five snags in the loss and should once again give defenders a headache. South Fremantle have won two games in a row to finally build some momentum as the season progresses. A win here could push them into the top three, so they will be eager to walk away victors. Haiden Schloithe has displayed his talents as a goalkicking midfielder all year so expect Saturday to prove no different.

The final match of round six will see East Fremantle host a West Coast side that is yet to compete all year, as the sides go head-to-head at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon. East Fremantle are making a strong push for the top four, but last round’s loss to Perth made that slightly harder. They will be looking to grab this game with both hands early on, with Cameron Eardley likely to prove influential through the midfield. West Coast have simply looked off the pace all year, yet to register their first win and have been soundly beaten by plenty of sides. A bright spot for the season has been Hamish Brayshaw, who will look to find plenty of the ball around the ground.

Queensland:

QAFL action begins at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, as Surfers Paradise host Noosa at Sir Bruce Small Park, as both sides look to recover from shaky starts. Surfers Paradise have won just the one game so far this year, and a loss here could see them fall right down in the race for the flag. Luckily for them, they face an out of form side, and a win would likely pump some life into their season. Look for Alby Jones to back up last week’s strong outing. Noosa are yet to win a game after four games and will be desperate to change that with a win this round. They were competitive against Sherwood Districts, but missed an opportunity to defeat a side that was also searching for their first win. Ryley Buntain has delivered two fantastic performances in losing sides, so he will be eager to walk off a winner.

Labrador will be thrilled with the opportunity to jump up the ladder as they head into Saturday afternoon’s clash with Mt Gravatt at Cooke-Murphy Oval. Labrador sit fourth on the ladder with three wins and one loss from their matches this year, and a win could see them reach second depending on results around the league. Heading into the match as favourites, their motivation will be high to continue to set themselves up as the season progresses. Former AFL gun Pearce Hanley has been on fire in the last two weeks, so if he is once again allowed to roam free, Labrador will be hard to stop. Mt Gravatt have won only the solitary game this year but have had two byes in five weeks. Nevertheless, a second win is crucial, and Saturday provides a perfectly good opportunity. Gavin Grose’s start to the year has been eye catching and should continue in this match.

A fresh Morningside team will be hosting Redland-Victoria Point at Jack Esplen Oval on Saturday afternoon in an exciting matchup. Fresh off the bye, Morningside will be ready for the challenge from a strong Redland-Victoria Point side, as both sides look to climb the ladder with an important win on Saturday. Redland-Victoria Point’s Harrison Kerr has booted 11 goals in his past three games and will need to be held accountable if Morningside are to slow down the scoring of their opponent.

Sherwood Districts will be looking to cause an upset as they prepare to host an impressive Maroochydore at Sherwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. Sherwood Districts have only won a single game this season, while their opponents have won three, so a boilover here looks unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Maroochydore sit second on the ladder, and if ladder leaders Broadbeach are beaten this round, a big win in this match could see them move to the top of the table. Keep an eye on Maroochydore’s Jacob Simpson, who has performed strongly all year. Sherwood Districts’ William Fletcher has been equally impressive and has also put his hand up as one to watch.

Wilston Grange face the tough task of slowing down the ladder leaders, as they host the undefeated Broadbeach at Hickey Park on Saturday afternoon. Wilston Grange have a 1-3 record after four games in an underwhelming start to the year, but a win here would truly send a message to the rest of the competition. They have the ability to kick a winning score, highlighted by Will McKenzie’s seven goals in his last two games. Broadbeach will be a tough beast to tame though. 4-0 on the season, they simply know how to get the job. With the top spot comes the pressure, and they will be eager to show they can more than handle it. Liam Nelson has been strong in the last three games and will be hoping to maintain this.

Tasmania:

The sixth round of TSL football kicks off with a bang as Clarence host competition powerhouse Launceston at Blundstone Arena on Saturday afternoon. Launceston have looked unstoppable but face arguably their toughest challenger this week on their home deck. Clarence have looked fantastic this year, especially since returning to Blundstone Arena, and will fancy themselves a strong chance to knock off the reigning premiers on Saturday. The inclusion of experienced forward Josh Green should make them more dangerous forward of the ball. Launceston will be regaining stand-in captain Jake Hinds after serving his suspension, while Dylan Riley will be eager to continue the run of form that has seen him boot 19 goals in the last two matches.

Another key clash this weekend comes in the form of North Hobart taking on Glenorchy at North Hobart Oval on Saturday afternoon. Both sides sit with a 1-3 record and changing that to 2-3 is crucial for the season moving forward. North Hobart will bring in ruckman Logan Elphinstone to establish some midfield dominance. Glenorchy will be regaining the services of experienced midfielder Sam Rundle who should prove a crucial inclusion to the side.

The Tigers and North Launceston will clash at UTAS Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the final match of the round. The Tigers have a 3-2 record and had their colours lowered by a firing Clarence side last weekend, so they will be desperate to get back on the winners list. Star Elijah Reardon was kept reasonably quiet last round so he should be keen to bounce back in this game. North Launceston sit at 2-2 having played one less game than their opponent, but will regain the services of Bradley Cox-Goodyer, setting up a thrilling clash.

Picture credit: The Examiner

State Leagues Wrap: Weekend of thrillers

AS the weekend came to an end, so did a round of exciting football around the country. State leagues saw plenty of contests that came down to the wire, while other teams flexed their muscles with big wins.

Victoria:

VFL action kicked off on Thursday night with the Casey Demons’ big win over North Melbourne as VFL finally returned to Marvel Stadium. The Demons kicked a whopping 19 goals and finished the game as 107-point winners in a game that would not have impressed North Melbourne fans. Sam Weideman kicked four goals as he continues his ripping form that is sure to earn him an AFL recall in the near future. Unfortunately for him, Casey’s AFL affiliate Melbourne is absolutely flying at the moment, but if the key forward keeps up these performances, he will be hard to ignore come selection time. For the Roos, ruckman Tristian Xerri fought hard, and won the duel with Casey’s rucks, collecting 16 disposals to go with his 35 hitouts.

Collingwood stole a victory at the death as they snuck away with a three-point win against the Gold Coast Suns at Olympic Park Oval on Friday afternoon. With his 20th disposal, Magpie Reef McInnes kicked a goal at the 26-minute mark of the final term to put his side in front, and the rest is history. Young Pie Oliver Henry’s three goal haul would have impressed coaches, while Sun Will Brodie dominated in the midfield, collecting 41 touches and laying 11 tackles.

Geelong held off a fast-finishing Sydney side to claim a tense four-point win at Tramway Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Swans led by three points heading into the final term but Logan McDonald’s three goal effort was not enough to get the Swans home. Charlie Constable found the ball 28 times in a promising display, while Josh Jenkins booted two goals. For the Swans, Lewis Taylor and Robbie Fox combined for 59 disposals and looked dangerous whenever the ball was in dispute.

Essendon’s fast start couldn’t be maintained, eventually falling to Carlton by 49 points at Windy Hill on Sunday afternoon. The Bombers led by 14 points at the first break, but a five goal to nil second term got the Blues in front, and they never looked back. Out of favour Blue Will Setterfield continued his strong VFL form with a 26 disposal effort as he continues to push for a recall, while Nic Newman returned from a serious knee injury sustained last year to gather 23 disposals in a promising outing for Blues fans. First game Don Nick O’Kearney gathered 36 disposals in an eye-catching performance.

South Australia:

Round 5 of the SANFL began with an upset, as Norwood took down the previously undefeated South Adelaide Panthers at Coopers Stadium on Friday night. The Redlegs kicked a whopping five goals to one in the second goal to give themselves a 26-point lead at half time, and the Panthers simply couldn’t get the comeback done in time. Norwood midfielders Matthew Nunn and Jacob Kennerley combined for a whopping 29 tackles with 16 and 13 respectively, while former Crow Richard Douglas racked up 30 disposals. Joseph Haines was the Panthers’ best with 28 touches.

Glenelg remain the best team in the competition after their 31-point triumph over the North Adelaide Roosters on Saturday afternoon at Prospect Oval. A four-goal lead at quarter time was a sign of things to come, as Glenelg rode the first quarter effort until the final siren. Former Tiger Liam McBean kicked a bag of five of Glenelg, while midfielder Luke Partington had 35 disposals and seven clearances. Thomas Schwarz kicked three goals for the Roosters.

A strong final term saw West Adelaide claim their second win of the season, taking down Central Districts by four goals at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. There were only four points separating the two sides at three quarter time, but West Adelaide were able to extend that lead after kicking four goals to none in the final term. Edward Allan was strong in the midfield for North Adelaide, finishing with 22 disposals, five clearances and 11 tackles, while teammate Thomas Keough kicked four snags. For Central Districts, Justin Hoskin’s 26 disposals and two goals were excellent.

Over at Unley Oval, Sturt were able to pull off a heist, stealing a one-point win from the Crows on Sunday afternoon. Sturt’s Ashley Johnson kicked his fourth goal 26 minutes into the final quarter to give his side a one-point lead that proved to be enough. He was well aided by teammate Albania Davis who had 33 disposals, 11 marks and a goal. Crows skipper Matthew Wright kicked three goals in what could have been a match-winning performance.

Port Adelaide’s ten goal win over the West-Woodville Torrens was set up by a clinical second quarter performance at Alberton Oval on Sunday afternoon. The Power kicked seven goals in the second quarter to take a 47-point lead into half time, which they only improved on in the second half. Port’s skipper Cam Sutcliffe was marvellous rotating through the midfield and forward line, finishing with 25 disposals and three goals, while Tom Rockliff had 34 touches and eight clearances. Eagles mid James Tsitas had a whopping 39 disposals for the losing side.

Western Australia:

In the WAFL, Round 5 kicked off with Swan Districts surviving a massive scare from an East Perth side who are still searching for their first win. The inaccuracy of East Perth really hurt their chances, kicking 7.13, while Swan Districts kicked 10.8 to run out 13-point victors for their third win of the season. Swan Districts midfielder Samuel Fisher had the ball on a string as he worked his way to 37 disposals and a goal, while teammate Frank Anderson had 35 touches of his own. Edward Simpson was nearly the hero for East Perth, booting five goals in a near match-winning performance.

Perth were able to cruise to their second win of the season with a triumph over East Fremantle by five goals at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon. A six-goal opening term set up the win, with the home side unable to close the gap in the next three quarters. Brady Grey was the star for the victors, with 29 disposals and a huge 10 inside 50’s for the match, while Doultan Langlands kicked three goals. For East Fremantle, Cameron Eardley led the way with 32 touches.

Despite a slow start, Claremont were able to find their rhythm in the second quarter, steamrolling their way to a 52-point win over West Perth at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Claremont trailed by two goals at quarter time, before kicking six goals in the second term to get the game back in their control. Claremont’s Lachlan Martinis racked up a whopping 42 disposals and nine marks in a dominant display, while Jack Buller kicked five goals for the victors. For West Perth, Shane Nelson had 39 disposals in an impressive display.

South Fremantle caused a major upset with their 18-point win over Subiaco, handing them their first loss of the year at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco were at the top of the table heading into this game, while South Fremantle had only won the two games, but they turned the table in this dominant display, set up by their seven goal second term. Haiden Schloithe put in a star turn for the winners, ending the match with 39 disposals and two goals in a clear best on ground performance. For Subiaco, Gregory Clark led with 30 touches.

West Coast’s struggles continued on Sunday morning after being convincingly beaten by Peel Thunder to the tune of 79 points at David Grays Arena. The Eagles trailed by seven goals at half time, and could not get themselves back in the game against a dominant Thunder side. Blair Bell kicked six goals for Peel, while teammate Josh Treacy kicked five of his own. West Coast’s Hamish Brayshaw performed admirably with 29 disposals.

Queensland:

QAFL’s fifth round of action kicked off with a blockbuster as Labrador upset Maroochydore by 12 points at Maroochydore Multisports Complex on Saturday afternoon. Labrador had one less win than the home side heading into this clash, but a strong third term saw the visitors take a lead that they would end up holding for the remainder of the game. Labrador’s Pearce Hanley once again claimed best on ground honours, running riot through the midfield as he continues to show that age will not slow him down. For Maroochydore, Jacob Simpson fought hard all day to be his side’s best.

Redland-Victoria Point cruised their way to their third win for the year against Mt Gravatt on Saturday afternoon at Southside Toyota Oval. Redland-Victoria Point jumped to an early lead in the first quarter and then only extended their control from there, waltzing to a crucial win that keeps them well in the hunt for top spot on the ladder. Redland-Victoria Point full back Mitchell Stallard was named his side’s best after a dominant display in defence. Gavin Grose was Mt Gravatt’s best for the second week in a row.

Sherwood Districts have finally found their first win for the season, defeating bottom-placed Noosa by 22 points at Rococo Oval on Saturday afternoon. Noosa remain winless, but Sherwood Districts will be hoping this is the triumph that kick starts their season. For the winners, Joshua Coombes led the way with three goals up forward, but it was truly a team effort that delivered the win. For Noosa, Ryley Buntain was his side’s best for the second consecutive week.

A bag of seven goals from forward John Anthony has led Palm Beach Currumbin to an important win over Wilston Grange at Salk Oval on Saturday afternoon. Anthony’s bag of seven was inspiring and proved crucial to Palm Beach Currumbin securing their second win of the season, shooting them up the ladder. Anthony was his side’s best, but had plenty of help from teammate Matthew Gahan. For Wilston Grange, Isaac Corvo was a clear standout.

Broadbeach kept their unbeaten streak rolling with their fourth win of the year, defeating a brave Surfers Paradise side by 10 points at Subaru Oval on Sunday afternoon. A close game all day, Broadbeach kicked three final quarter goals to seal the game to hold off the upset. For the winners, Liam Nelson was the star, leading his side all day in a best afield display, while Alby Jones was the bright spark for Surfers Paradise.

Tasmania:

TSL action resumed this weekend, as Clarence continued their hot streak, knocking off the Tigers at Kingston Twin Ovals on Saturday afternoon. The victors led all afternoon, and never looked like giving up the lead on their way to recording their third win of the season. For Clarence, Oliver Davis was best on ground for the second week in a row. For the Tigers, Blake McCulloch stood out through the backline to end the day as his side’s best.

North Hobart have recorded their first win for the 2021 season, kicking away in the last quarter to defeat Lauderdale by 18 points at Lauderdale Oval on Saturday afternoon. There was two points separating the sides heading into the last quarter, but North Hobart were too strong, kicking four final quarter goals on their way to a maiden win for the year. For the victors, Thomas Liefhebber was outstanding all day, while Jye Menzie kicked four goals. For Lauderdale, Alex Hevey never gave up and performed admirably.

Launceston continue to uphold their status as league powerhouse, demolishing Glenorchy by 148 points at Windsor Park on Saturday Oval. Launceston hit the 100-point mark by half time, and Glenorchy never stood a chance against this well-oiled machine. Launceston star forward Dylan Riley backed up his 10-goal haul last week with a nine-goal effort this round, putting emphasis on the importance of shutting him down. For Glenorchy, Nick Reibelt impressed despite the loss.

State Leagues Preview: Key games across the board

STATE league football will continue over the weekend with plenty at stake for the teams involved. With some sides looking for their first win and others trying to keep themselves ahead of the pack, expect plenty of thrilling action this weekend.

Victoria:

The third round of VFL action kicks off this weekend with Collingwood taking on Gold Coast at Olympic Park Oval on Friday afternoon. Gold Coast registered their first win last weekend over Sydney by 14 points, getting on a roll and will be looking to back it up this weekend against the Pies. Suns midfielders Will Brodie and Brayden Fiorni fired in the engine room last round and will need to do the same if they are to grab their second win of the season. Collingwood couldn’t back up their Round 1 win with another last week, falling to the Bombers by 35 points in a disappointing second half. Big man Mason Cox will miss due to suspension while the side will look extremely different with plenty of injuries at AFL level. The Pies depth will be tested here, which should make the win even sweeter if they can pull it off.

The Sydney Swans and the Geelong Cats will make for an interesting matchup when they face off on Saturday afternoon at Tramway Oval. With a 1-1 start to the year, the Swans will be eager to the return to their Round 1 form, which saw them take down the Giants by 26 points. If they are to take down this Cats side, experienced heads such as Sam Gray and Lewis Taylor will need to lead by example. The Cats will be fully refreshed after a bye last weekend, and will be looking to back up their Round 1 effort which saw them run out 79-point winners. Forwards Ben Jarvis and Josh Jenkins combined for eight goals, and if they can do something similar this weekend, it will be hard to stop the Cats.

In a battle of cross-town rivals, Carlton will travel to Windy Hill to take on Essendon on Sunday afternoon as both sides look for their second win to take them up the ladder. The Blues clinched a massive 69-point win over the Lions last weekend, which should give them a world of confidence heading into this match. A combined 12 goals from former AFL listed players Ben Crocker and James Parsons drove the Carlton win and if either can get off the chain again this weekend, Essendon coaches will have plenty to ponder from the sidelines. The Bombers took down the Pies last weekend, and should be looking to use the win as a spark for their season following a Round 1 loss. Tom Cutler was Essendon’s best in the win with 27 disposals and three goals, so expect the Blues to pay some attention to him throughout the match.

South Australia:

Round 5 of state league action kicks off with a blockbuster match, as Norwood host South Adelaide at Coopers Stadium under lights on Friday night. Norwood has landed a selection bombshell heading into the match, stunningly dropping dual-Magarey Medalist Mitch Grigg, who had just 14 disposals and a goal in last week’s 18-point loss to West Adelaide. Brad Mckenzie will line up on a wing in his return to the side while Brad Carroll is also confirmed to return to the side. Highly touted youngster Fraser Turner will finally debut for South Adelaide, named to start on a wing. The former Richmond utility has been named on the extended bench for consecutive weeks and will finally get his chance against Norwood. Liam Fitt will miss following a nasty head knock while Anthony Biemans is expected to miss multiple weeks following a leg injury.

North Adelaide will be looking to erase the memory of last week’s heartbreaking loss with a win this week over Glenelg at Prospect Oval on Saturday afternoon. North Adelaide fell to Woodville-West Torrens by three points in Round 4, and this pain will still be fresh in their minds. They could be bolstered by the return of star defender Cameron Craig, who has been named on the extended bench following a hamstring injury, but changes are yet to be confirmed. Don’t be surprised if Glenelg choose to not make any changes at selection this weekend, following a 10-point win over Port Adelaide last round, with no changes confirmed to the lineup that achieved that feat.

West Adelaide and Central Districts will go head-to-head, with the winner certainly moving up the ladder following their clash at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both sides are in the bottom half of the ladder sitting at 1-3, so a win on Saturday afternoon is crucial for both these sides. West Adelaide will unleash a new player, as Canberra Demons recruit Lucas Meline is named to line up in the midfield for his first game in the new colours. There have been no confirmed outs at the time of publication. Central Districts coaches have been busy shuffling the magnets with four confirmed changes to their team. Rhett Montgomerie, Connor Mclean and Jacob Templeton will all miss through injury while Nick Gillard has been omitted. Fraser Fort, Wyatt Patterson, Cooper Dahms and Travis Schiller have been named as their replacements.

Bottom placed Sturt will have the opportunity to move up the standings as they host Adelaide at Unley Oval on Sunday afternoon. Sturt have not been able to register a second win on the season and will be desperate to take this opportunity against the Crows. Forwards Abe Davis and Josh Hone will return to give Sturt a boost while Charlie Parker will debut for the side across half back. Sturt will lose the services of Jordan Houlahan and Matt Crocker through injury while Adam Trenorden has been dropped. Adelaide will be waiting for AFL emergencies to affect their lineup but will certainly be without midfielders David Mackay (AFL) and Luke Pedlar (injured). Nick Murray has also earned an AFL call up.

In the final SANFL game for Round 5, Port Adelaide will return to Alberton Oval to host Woodville-West Torrens on Sunday afternoon in a key clash for both sides. Port Adelaide currently sit with a disappointing 1-3 record, and with Trent Burgoyne and Matt Appleton both ruled out through injury, a chance to improve this record seems unlikely. In saying this, don’t rule out the Power just yet, with plenty of talent around the ground, they won’t give up without a fight. Woodville-West Torrens have worked their way to a 3-1 record and will see this weekend’s match as the perfect opportunity to improve this. They will be without the services of former AFL forward Daniel Menzel, who will miss with an ankle injury and has been replaced by debutant Cooper Sharman.

Tasmania:

TSL action kicks off on Saturday with Clarence travelling to the Twin Ovals in Kingston to take on the Tigers. The Tigers found their form again last week, defeating Glenorchy by 24 points in the ANZAC day clash. The side will go in unchanged following the victory, and the obvious player to watch is Elijah Reardon who should continue his blistering season this weekend. Clarence had the bye last weekend and have brought in some firepower to combat this Tigers team, while the Roos have brought in Oliver Davis, Baker Smith, Darcy Gardner, Colin Garland and Jacob Young to make their side look much stronger. Expect a close contest.

Lauderdale will be keen to bounce back after last round’s 93-point belting at the hands of a brutal North Launceston side, and this round’s matchup against a struggling North Hobart side will get their hopes up. Lauderdale have shaken things up at team selection in order to conjure a response from their side. Among the ins are Tyler Martin, Luke Hodoninczky, Bryce Walsh and Ozzie Warmbrunn as the Bombers fight for their second win. North Hobart were embarrassed by Launceston last round, conceding 25 goals and losing by 125 points, and they have also opted to change things up at team selection. The Demons are bringing in Johnathon Pullen, George Mcleod, Jye Menzie, Tyler Mcginniss and Will Splann. Both sides have plenty to play for here.

Glenorchy face a tough obstacle if they want to bounce back from last week’s loss, and that obstacle comes in the form of an outrageously in-form Launceston side. The Magpies were defeated by the Tigers to the tune of a 24 point margin but face an even tougher task this week in the Blues. Glenorchy will need to change things up if they are to upset the juggernaut, and the team selection reflects this. The Magpies will lose former Blue Sam Rundle but will be bringing in Riley Best, Darrean Wyatt, Joshua Whitford, Dominic Brown and Isaac Manson. The Blues have made only one change in their quest to remain undefeated, bringing in hard-running midfielder Miller Hodge at the expense of Grant Holt who has been omitted.

Western Australia:

The fourth round of the WAFL was unfortunately cancelled last weekend as Western Australia battled a minor COVID outbreak. This has since been resolved and Round 5 is scheduled to go ahead, with all sides nice and refreshed. The first game of the round will see East Perth welcome Swan Districts to Leederville Oval as they attempt to find their maiden win of the 2021 season. In Round 3 they fell by 25 points, in a promising display. They aren’t far away from a win and this weekend could be the drought breaker. Expect centre half-back Nathan Blee to find plenty of the ball as he did in Round 3. Swan Districts are tracking nicely, sitting in third place on the ladder and looking to improve on their 2-1 record with a win this weekend. The team regains former Eagle Lewis Jetta who is sure to break the game open with his blistering pace.

East Fremantle will host Perth at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon in a match with implications for both sides. A win for East Fremantle keeps them in touch with the top of the ladder as they currently sit in fourth place and a loss could see them slip down the standings. Perth are barely keeping in touch with the top five, but a win here could potentially see them enter the top half of the ladder. Keep an eye on East Fremantle half-back flanker Cameron Eardley, who racked up 26 disposals and 14 marks in Round 3.

Claremont will be looking to extend their undefeated streak as they welcome West Perth to Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Claremont couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, and they currently hold a 3-0 record, along with Subiaco. West Perth’s start to the season hasn’t quite been as successful. They sit in sixth place on the ladder with a 1-2 record, and face a serious challenge to improve this in Round 5. Can Aaron Black continue his strong form and lead his side to an upset over this powerful Claremont side?

Speaking of undefeated sides, Subiaco are as good as it gets this year. They sit on top of the ladder and will be keen on staying up there this weekend with a win over South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco were able to sneak past West Perth in Round 3 and will probably need a slight lift if they are to keep their spot on top of the table. Meanwhile South Fremantle took down Peel Thunder in Round 3 and will give themselves every chance to walk away with the upset win here. Expect South Fremantle’s Haiden Schloithe to play a big role in the result of this game, fresh off best on ground honours in Round 3.

The final game of the round sees some Sunday footy action as the Peel Thunder will face off against West Coast at David Grays Arena. West Coast have struggled to fly this year and will be keen to get some runs on the board after a 0-3 start to the 2021 season. Peel Thunder have started the season 1-2, good enough to see them sit seventh after three rounds. They will be eager to return to their Round 2 form which saw them with a triple-digit win over East Perth. Pending AFL selection, should Connor Blakely play, expect him to find plenty of the ball for Peel Thunder.

Queensland:

The fifth round of QAFL action sees plenty of exciting matchups. The first will see Maroochydore look to remain undefeated with a win over a surging Labrador side. Maroochydore are yet to lose a game in the 2021 season, but expect Labrador to push them right to the final siren. Labrador have only lost the one game so far, and an upset here would push them into the ‘contender’ category by the end of the weekend. Former Lion and Sun Pearce Hanley has worked his way into the season for Labrador and should prove a headache for Maroochydore players and coaches.

Redland-Victoria Point have started the season in strong fashion, with two wins from three games, and will be looking to snatch a fourth as they travel to Southside Toyota Oval to face off against Mt Gravatt on Saturday. Mt Gravatt have had two byes so far, but still sit at 1-1, with the loss coming against an in-form Maroochydore side. Mt Gravatt forward Jonah Licht has kicked 10 goals in his two games this season, and if he can prove dangerous around the big sticks again, it is hard to see his side losing.

The last two teams on the ladder in Noosa and Sherwood Districts will clash on Saturday afternoon at Rococo Oval, in a vital match for both sides. A perfect opportunity for both teams, whoever emerges victorious could find themselves with a spark to start their season, while the other will be left in no man’s land on 0-4 and much less likely to make finals. Sherwood Districts midfielder William Fletcher has enjoyed a consistent start to the season and could play a key role here, as he has proved himself as a goal kicking midfielder. No matter what happens, one of these sides will be singing the song for the first time in 2021.

In a battle for a second win, Palm Beach Currumbin and Wilston Grange will face off at Salk Oval in the final match of Saturday QAFL action. Not much separates these sides, with both teams sitting on a 1-2 record, this is another vital clash in the fifth round of action. A second win could see either side move into the top five, which is crucial heading into a sixth round. At the time of publication, team lineups had not been released.

Finally, a seemingly unstoppable Broadbeach side will host a struggling Surfers Paradise side at Subaru Oval on Sunday afternoon. Broadbeach are yet to lose a game and boasting the best percentage in the league, they sit on top of the table. Surfers Paradise are a completely different story, having only won one game in their first three, and in dire need of a second. The key question is can they contain Broadbeach forward Sam Jasper, who is fresh off a bag of eight goals last weekend? This matchup will prove important in determining a winner.