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2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year 48-player squad announced

DRAFT Central has announced its 2019 NAB League Boys Team of the Year squad today, with the final team and Second Team of the Year to be announced on Friday. The Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year takes into account the top performers across the NAB League season, not incorporating any performances at school football or National Under-18 Championships, which is why some top-end stars that have missed most of the season through school football such as Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Finn Maginness and Fischer McAsey are not included in the side.

We also placed a five-game minimum on any player to qualify for our Team of the Year, and based our selections off the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week nominations. Of the nominations, five players received a massive seven Team of the Week nominations, with four players named six times throughout the season. These nine players automatically qualify for the side. From the remaining 39 players, every one had at least three nominations, with players requiring at least FOUR nominations to make the first side. Each player who does not make the first side is named in the second side.

In terms of club-by-club nominations, Western Jets had the most with five players making the squad, with Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights all recording four players. Due to school football, Oakleigh Chargers (three), Sandringham Dragons (two) and a lesser extent Dandenong Stingrays (three) had more of a shared contribution across the season, while Tasmania Devils had three players named in their debut season.

Of the 48 players, Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Ash, Jye Chalcraft, Josh D’Intinosante, Trent Bianco and Ryan Byrnes made the Team of the Year squad last year, with Ash, D’Intinosante and Bianco all making the first side with the others slotting into the second team.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [4]: Jack Ginnivan, Aaron Gundry, Josh Treacy, Riley Wilson.

Calder [4]: Ned Gentile, Daniel Mott, Brodie Newman, Sam Ramsay.

Dandenong [3]: Ned Cahill, Lachlan Williams, Hayden Young.

Eastern [4]: Ben Hickleton, Mitch Mellis, Zakery Pretty, Lachlan Stapleton.

Geelong [4]: Jesse Clark, Oliver Henry, Charlie Sprague, Henry Walsh.

Gippsland [4]: Riley Baldi, Tye Hourigan, Fraser Phillips, Brock Smith.

GWV [4]: Cooper Craig-Peters, Mitch Martin, Riley Polkinghorne, Jay Rantall.

Murray [4]: Lachlan Ash, Jimmy Boyer, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild.

Northern [4]: Jackson Davies, Josh D’Intinosante, Sam Philp, Ryan Sturgess.

Oakleigh [3]: Trent Bianco, Lochlan Jenkins, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

Sandringham [2]: Ryan Byrnes, Angus Hanrahan.

Tasmania [3]: Jackson Callow, Oliver Davis, Matt McGuinness.

Western [5]: Darcy Cassar, Josh Honey, Josh Kellett, Will Kennedy, Lucas Rocci.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 17

THE cream is beginning to rise to the top in the NAB League as we reach the business end of the season. There was a bunch of top-end prospects to stand up in tight games this weekend, with out scouts getting to both the Metro and Country triple-headers. Here are their opinion-based notes on some of the players who received a National, State or Rookie Me Draft Combine invitation, or represented Vic Country and Vic Metro at the Under-16 Championships and Under-17 Futures games.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

The energetic small enjoyed time in the midfield, bringing good attack and speed to the engine room. He started well with an accurate hit-up kick to Archi Manton and excelled with penetrating kicks into the forward 50 off only a few steps. Failli also zipped away from congestion well and was often present at the fall of the ball, where he used his agility and clean hands to stay in possession. Not a massive game, but was busy.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Continued his apprenticeship as a key defender for most of the game, positioning well inside defensive 50 to cut off a few Northern attacks – especially early on. Jeka positioned smartly to intercept in the first term and used his ideal foot skills to find both short options and penetrate long on the rebound. He was swung back to his more familiar forward position in the second half but missed the chance to hit the scoreboard as he missed with a third term set shot. But Jeka would still have an impact in that department despite Western’s low-scoring effort, assisting an Archi Manton goal after finding him by foot inside 50.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Had a slow start to the game but built into it with repeat running and driving bursts along the outside. Positioned on the wing and off half-back, Cassar worked well both ways and tried his best to help Western exit the Knights’ territory after quarter time. His instincts in reading the high balls came into play with a defensive 50 intercept mark over the back in the third term, and Cassar went on to accumulate many of his team-high 22 disposals in a more influential second half.

#24 Josh Honey

Was far and away the Jets’ best player for mine, building in confidence as the game went on and causing headaches with his explosiveness from midfield. Honey’s aggression going both ways went a ways to setting the tone for his side, and his willingness to get on the move at every opportunity was a key part of Western’s promising start. Time and time again, Honey broke away from congestion with pure speed and strength, burning opponents with ease and pumping the ball forward. His aggression translated to a bit of niggle and a particularly strong tackle on Sam Philp in the second term, and Honey had an eye-catching three-bounce run later on. Has some terrific traits, just needs to find consistency and eliminate his down games.

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Is really coming into his own as a more permanent small forward, bouncing back to form with his second four-goal haul for the year. D’Intinosante broke the game open in the second term, booting three goals in quick succession early in the piece to get Northern well on top and build the game-defining margin. His first goal came off the back of some great pressure, snapping up the resultant turnover and slamming the ball home. His second goal came a bit easier as he was found over the back in the goalsquare, but he produced another fine bit of work with his third goal from a shrewd front and centre take off hands. D’Intinosante went on to add his fourth with a nicely hit set shot in the third term, and was dangerous throughout with his work deep in the forward half.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner recovered from a couple of shaky moments early on, winning a good amount of ball on the outer and providing neat use by foot going forward. Rotating between the wing and half forward, Gardner was terrific in the middle period of the game with clearing balls forward and a nice goal assist to Nikolas Cox. He continually got the ball in good areas and booted inside 50, getting involved as the Jets looked to mount a comeback. Finds space well but can also get to work on both sides of the stoppages.

#8 Adam Carafa

It was a pretty typical outing from Carafa, who accumulated his possessions at the coalface and flicked out well to his runners with 17 handballs from 23 disposals. He first caught the eye with a well weighted kick though, finding Josh D’Intinosante through the corridor with little fuss. While he is a touch fumbly in collecting the loose ball on occasion, Carafa proved his poise in possession with a couple of classy one-on-one wins in space and had the presence of mind to step around oncoming opponents. Will enjoy playing mostly through the middle having been used up either end throughout the last two years at representative level.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Was arguably a very, very close second for best afield on the back of some fantastic aerial efforts. Starting the game at centre-half-back, Sturgess was his reliable self as he acted as an outlet and intercepter across defensive 50. His flying speckie from behind in the second term was a sign of things to come as Sturgess continued to fly confidently over opponents after half time. His courage in hitting the ball hard and plowing through anyone in the way was great to see, leading up and crashing the packs. Sturgess’ whopping 13 marks really showcased the best of the National Combine invitee, and he almost finished with another highlight as he narrowly missed a long-range attempt in the fourth quarter.

#14 Josh Watson

Was named best afield for the Knights and rightly so having made an electric start to the game. Watson did some great work up the ground at the stoppages, snapping the ball up cleanly and breaking away with speed and pumping the ball inside 50 on his left side. His use by foot was often a weapon, finding good range and looking for his tall leading targets – even if he could have lowered his eyes on a few occasions. Was a relative unknown coming into just his fifth game, but the bottom ager certainly captured some attention.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Is such an exciting prospect on athleticism and versatility alone, doing some nice work up either end as more of a key position option. Cox’s leap and clean hands on both levels were exceptional, making him a threat no matter what kind of delivery he was given. He hit the scoreboard early on the back of a 50m penalty and would later add a second with an outstanding wheeling goal in the following term from on the arc to show his true capabilities. Cox was thrown down back to finish the game and was good with his positioning, contesting Western’s forward forays and rebounding to good effect.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

Is just a consistent performer in the back half, doing the defensive things well and working hard to become relevant when exiting the arc. Macpherson racked up a fair chunk of the ball in the first term as Northern played a more high-possession and slow defensive game, but had more important touches later on under heat. Is usually a sound short kick and has good awareness in knowing when to release, while also proving solid in mopping up one-on-one ground balls.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Was one who really lifted when the game was on the line, often found at the bottom of packs and extracting from the stoppages as he has done more often since the national carnival. Mott just always found a way to will the ball forward, getting out the back of a few stoppages and booting long while wheeling away from the traffic. He made a more typical play in the third term with a neat goal assist kick to Jake Sutton, but was sometimes a touch more rushed in possession. Will thrive off receiving more ball on the outside at the next level when not acting as the number one ball winner.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Started brightly with a goal in the first term and found a lot of his possessions going forward, proving dangerous when in full flight. While he can sure up his short-range kicking at times, Cardillo made a couple of neat plays in-tight when keeping his hands free and shifting to release around opponents, while also getting good penetration with longer kicks going inside 50. Clunked a really strong mark from behind in the third term and came off worse for wear, but that kind of attack is just part of his game.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Again proved industrious going both ways in midfield, wheeling away to boot forward clearing kicks and tackling hard when not in possession. His chase to catch an opponent hold the ball in the second term was exceptional and he went on to lay a few more hard tackles at stoppages. Ramsay had a long range snap touched on the line in the final term which could have been a deciding factor, but otherwise made his impact around the ball.

#21 Harrison Jones

Moves so well for his size and was prominent in the air in patches, showing good courage going back and hitting up strongly on the lead at full stretch. Jones found the goals early with a set shot conversion, while assisting for Jake Sutton in the second term and later missing a chance for his second major after marking well one-on-one. Has great potential and favourable traits, but is yet to truly rip a game apart.

#38 Brodie Newman

Had a couple of tricky matchups down back, being held accountable by Eastern’s dangerous talls while still trying to get some rebounding drive going. Newman was caught out a couple of times biting off too much in possession, but looked more assured as the game went on with quicker disposals and some smart decisions. He took a strong pack mark in the second term and looked safe on the last line as the game heated up. A solid game without being exceptional.

Eastern:

#7 Lachie Stapleton

Was his usual productive self through midfield, repeatedly getting to the drop of the ball and sweeping up the loose ball. Stapleton’s short game was neat and he often used it after breaking well from congestion where he read the taps from both rucks. He moved forward to good effect, intercepting inside 50 in the second term and putting through the set shot, and later capping his game with a beautiful finish on the run to level the scores in the final term. Stapleton also got stuck in with his tackles, laying a couple on the end of persistent chases early on and rising to the occasion as the game tightened up.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Another of Eastern’s diminutive midfielders who just always puts in the work and sets the tone for his side. Mellis constantly looked to get on the move in possession, using his speed and agility to break free. His repeat running was a feature, dishing the ball out to runners and going on to get it back up the field to continue the Ranges’ forward forays. He contributed a handy goal assist to Ben Hickleton in the final term when the pressure was on, adding to his ball winning feats.

#18 Billy McCormack

The Eastern big man was used in a different role this time around, tried up the other end as a key defender. His positioning was sound, often getting to long balls into defensive 50 and plucking the ball with ease. He made some good reads out the back when others were sucked into the ball and also affected some long rebounding kicks. McCormack finished the game up forward where he had less of an impact, but was still solid.

#20 Connor Downie

The hero of the day, Downie had a slightly more patchy game in the build up to his match winning goal. He started with some dangerous accumulation around half-forward, missing a quickfire long-range shot on goal in the first term and having another go out on the full. He sharpened up after the main break, becoming the chain on the outside we have come to expect while still going forward well. His moment in the sun came on the back of staying with the play and laying a strong tackle to force the spillage and deciding free kick, converting cooly after the siren.

#23 Zak Pretty

Compliments his midfield partners so well and while he is slightly less heralded, Pretty is clever in congestion and does things you have to look closely to see. He kicked off his game with the very first clearance and a few hacked kicks forward, but looked a lot better when propping in possession and releasing drawing handballs out with good vision and execution. Pretty’s ability to hand out to a voice was also noticeable and was more than handy as the game became more contested.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old is really coming on quickly and racked up 17 disposals in this game, spending time up forward and through the midfield. He was a good link going forward and penetrated both arcs, having his most important one in the final term and Eastern broke inside 50 for the game winning play. He missed a couple of tough chances on goal but is usually pretty clinical around the big sticks. Has plenty of potential, and could be a wildcard for the Ranges heading into finals a-la Jaidyn Stephenson a few years ago.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

What a handy addition to the Sandringham side Chirgwin has been after a long injury layoff, putting in the hard yards through midfield and providing a great point of difference. A lot of his work was done on the inside in a more unheralded role, digging in at the stoppages going both ways to prize a team-high 30 disposals and lay seven tackles. His handballs from in-close under tackling pressure worked well, and his cleanliness by hand translated to overhead marking as he pulled down a couple of important ones in the thick of the action. Lifted when the game was on the line and he will be important in the crunch finals moments.

#4 Finn Maginness

Arguably the Dragons player who stood up most in the final term and tried to will his side over the line, making an impact through the midfield and booting three clutch goals – including two at the start of the fourth quarter. His first goal came all the way back in the first term with a straightforward conversion from close range, and while he was a touch quiet after that, Maginness popped up with a couple of strong marks and bustling bursts through the corridor. His second goal came from a lovely snap and wheeling finish, with his third another set shot inside 50. Still has some improvement left in him, which makes him all the more valuable as a prospect.

#6 Miles Bergman

A player who does not have many touches but has truly important ones, which was the case again in this game. His overhead marking was again strong, starting with one in the first term while also mopping up below his knees around the ground well. Kicking remains an areas of improvement for Bergman despite all of his eye-catching traits, turning the ball over going inside 50 on two occasions going inside 50 and rushing a touch when throwing it on his boot. Is still very promising and found the goals as he usually does with a free kick in the second term.

#13 Louis Butler

Was his usual self in the back half, getting to an absolute raft of contests across the defensive arc and providing his trademark rebound. He was another who was sometimes rushed on the ball when going long or clearing his lines, but worked into that area as he accumulated across the day. He took an important overhead mark in the corridor with pressure on in the final term and intercepted inside defensive 50 in the same term to show the kind of impact he can have.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Again won a heap of ball on the outside and worked so well between the arcs, linking the play and providing an outlet from tight spaces. The over-ager’s short kicking and work along the line was sound, and he began to have more of an impact on the game with his drifting runs forward. Both of his goals came in the second half; the first was a classy snap as the ball dropped inside 50, and the second came after again finding space inside 50 to mark and boot home the set shot.

#45 Archie Perkins

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going. Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals. His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

It was a real captain’s effort from Bianco, who was influential in the closing stages to cap off a solid outing. Assuming his familiar role off half-back, Bianco started with a few receives on the back and outside of the centre bounces, using his trademark pace to accelerate away from congestion and get the Chargers going forward. The look of his weaving runs along the outer are pretty unique to Bianco, always looking for holes to run into and the best options up the ground. He put in an important touch up on the wing to spark the chain for one of Noah Anderson’s fourth quarter goals, and just has so much class.

#8 Noah Anderson

Was an out and out match winner for Oakleigh, lifting for a mammoth final quarter effort where he booted two of the final three goals – including the one to put his side in front. Earlier, Anderson began up forward and worked up the ground well, proving impossible to tackle when on the move forward and having a couple of tight shies on goal. Anderson’s combination of bursts and baulks was outstanding, allowing him to find the space to deliver effectively by foot. His final quarter consisted of a goal assist to Fraser Elliot, an intercept mark and goal from the shot, and his third goal shortly after from a strong bit of play as he snapped the ball home. He is just such an impact player, able to tear the game to shreds either up forward or through midfield.

#11 Matt Rowell

What more is there to say about Rowell; he is just so consistent and seldom puts a foot wrong, while also displaying just about every desirable trait in a midfield prospect. His wheeling runs and arching back saw the commentary team reach full voice, extracting a game-high 34 disposals in a permanent midfield game and using the ball brilliantly going forward. Rowell looked on early as he hit up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for Oakleigh’s first goal, later providing another for Finlay Macrae on the back of a centre bounce clearance. He seemed tireless when working through midfield, willing himself to the ball at stoppages and showing good vision with his handballs out. Rowell’s overhead marking was also prominent, backing back with courage and proving safe with his hands. Just as much of a game winner as his highly credentialed mate, Noah Anderson, and has an influence throughout each game.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

It was another eye-catching display from the highlight reel forward, making the most of his few possessions to prove a menace up forward with four high quality goals. His hands overhead are so strong, helping him to hold onto a mark for his first goal in the square and another in the opening term. His highlight for the game came in the following quarter as the ball sat up perfectly for him to rise above two opponents and clunk a sensational mark inside 50, which led to a third goal. The Bulldogs NGA member has rare athleticism for a tall, making him such a difficult match up as he covers the ground well but also towers above defenders with his leap. His fourth goal was another beauty, stealing the ball inside 50 and propping before deciding to go for goal himself and slamming the ball home. Just does the mercurial every game and hardly misses a chance, unbelievable talent.

#29 Finlay Macrae

Is coming into a nice patch of form, looking comfortable among some of the best top-age ball winners to find plenty of the pill. His class on the ball is obvious, finding it in all areas and using it effectively with polished kicks. He also gets forward well and found the goals again in this game with a nice finish during Oakleigh’s final quarter onslaught. Will be a leading candidate heading into 2020.

#73 Cooper Sharman

It was not Sharman’s biggest game considering the lofty standard he has set thus far in Chargers colours, but he still managed to pitch in with a few exciting touches. He covered the ground well and worked up to half forward to provide an option, while knowing when to stay forward and get onto the long entry. His second term was his most busy, hitting the post from a near impossible soccer attempt and later finding the mark beautifully after taking a grab at full stretch. Added a second goal in the final term, which was the last for the match, to seal the win.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams

#1 Sam Conforti

The powerful small midfielder provided fierce tackling pressure from the first bounce and also had a number of deft touches, kicking inside 50 perfectly to the leading Thomson Dow. He did it again later in the game, hitting up Seamus Mitchell inside 50 and showed strength in contested situations. He intercepted a Brock Smith kick at half-forward at one stage and played on to kick inside 50 but it fell short just bouncing through for a behind.

#4 Thomson Dow

Had a really busy opening term where he put through an early goal after some nice leading inside 50 and his subsequent set shot from 40m out on a 45-degree angle. He showed off his one-touch ability, clean in the conditions and did a nice move under pressure in the second term where he went one way, was corralled so calmly changed directions and hit his target. Dow had a quieter third term before picking up again in the last term at both ends. He took a terrific mark inside 50 but his set shot missed to the right and fell short but it was kept in play for Jack Ginnivan to snap truly. Then he was seen down in defence showing good composure with ball-in-hand under pressure, and took a great contested mark in the forward half.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Gets involved around the ground and does more than just the usual ruck role. He showed good hands at ground level and was not afraid to get down and do the ground work as well as the aerial stuff. He used terrific bodywork inside 50 in the second term for Jack Ginnivan to swoop in and dribble a goal, then took a good contested mark at half-forward and continued to present as an option across the ground.

#19 Ben Worme

Started the game on the right note with great vision and a nice kick to hit-up Jack Ginnivan inside 50. He had a flying shot on goal himself but went to the right, and then went into the middle and continued to look busy. He was really solid across the four quarters with the one question mark coming around the urgency to move the ball as he looked a tad too casual late in the game where he had time to dispose of it but waited and his kick was smothered deep in defence.

#20 James Schischka

Was rock solid in defence, particularly in the first half before being sent forward. He repelled opposition attacks and then when he went forward looked to be an option. He had a shot on goal from the boundary line but shanked it out on the full, then set up a goal to Josh Treacy the next quarter with a low bullet inside 50. Schischka went back into defence late and took a courageous mark in front of Josh Smith floating back into defence and then took an important grab in the back 50 to settle the side down late in the match.

#22 Josh Treacy

The bottom-age key forward showed some good signs from limited opportunities taking a strong one-on-one mark against Tye Hourigan in the third term only to hit the post from the set shot. He converted later in the quarter courtesy of a long-range bomb from 50m and put his side back up by a point nearing the final break. His body work against more experienced defenders was really strong and he almost handed a teammate a goal with a handball in the square after good bodywork but the teammate fumbled and the Power defenders cleared it.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Played a typical small forward’s role, always looking dangerous at ground level and taking his opportunities when presented. He showed quick hands at ground level and pounced on a couple of goals in the game, including a loose ball in the second quarter when he dribbled one home close to goal. He converted his second major in the last term, pouncing on a loose ball after Thomson Dow’s set shot fell short and stayed in, with Ginnivan snapping around his body.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles was one of Bendigo’s best in the win, having a number of crucial rebounds and being a rock in defence when Gippsland was furiously attacking. He continually looked to run and carry down the ground, using the ball well and making good decisions by hand or foot. Not a huge accumulator of the ball, Rowles is noticeable with his ball use because he does not waste a lot of touches and has a high impact per possession.

#51 Seamus Mitchell

The bottom-age talent showed some nice traits inside 50 with smarts and speed providing a good combination and a danger at ground level. He kicked a goal from a down-field free kick in the first term, and then showed off his great burst speed in the final term to create separation going forward and boot a goal on the run with a low kicking action to put the Pioneers 12 points up. He had a chance in the third term for another major but the set shot from 35m out in the pocket held up in the breeze and went to the left.

Gippsland:

#1 Ryan Angwin

The bottom-ager played a really solid game through the midfield roaming up the wings and using neat skills to dispose of the ball. A lightly-framed player, he took a good intercept mark at half-back in the first term, played on to give it to Sam Berry and then received it back on the wing with hard running. Angwin showed classy around the stoppages and did not panic with ball-in-hand.

#4 Sam Flanders

Did not have his best game, but stood up through the middle patches to have some important touches in close. His first quarter saw opponents working him over and causing a reaction which resulted in a couple of free kicks leading to goals – one pushing over an opponent at a stoppage and one down-field – before coming out in the second term to deliver a major of his own early. He showed great courage flying for an intercept mark, not taking it but copping contact. His hands in close were elite and picked the right exit to dispose of the ball cleanly, and showed great bodywork in the third term to bump an opponent off the ball and give it to Josh Smith to kick forward.

#6 Riley Baldi

Best on ground and was the difference between the teams, continuing his good form this season. He converted a couple of goals and was a four quarter performer which was difficult in the conditions. He had the first clearance of the game, and had the ball on a string early, marking from a lead and converted a set shot from 35m out. He kicked his second from 40m out in the second term, also applying good defensive pressure, winning a free kick in the middle for restricting Thomson Dow from finding a way out of the stoppage. He handed a goal off to Fraser Phillips in the third term after poor checking from Pioneers defenders with the natural left footer converting the goal with an easy snap. Baldi had a chance to make it three goals, but his flying shot on goal just bounced the wrong side of the post for one behind.

#7 Sam Berry

The bottom-age midfielder provided a number of highlights in the game, able to gain separation from his opponents in midfield and hit targets forward of centre. He created a goal for Riley Baldi kicking well inside 50, and then showed off his lovely left foot again, playing on to hit-up another target later in the game inside 50. He ran hard throughout and took a courageous mark back with the flight early in the third term.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided some important run and carry for Gippsland throughout the match, and tried to break the lines by running down the middle. He took the game on in the second term with a number of bounces, avoiding opposition players along the way. With time and space Connolly’s disposal was very good, but he did get rushed on a few occasions. He worked hard throughout the game on his way to a really solid contribution.

#17 Charlie Comben

Provided a fierce attack on the ball and whilst the conditions did not suit the taller marking players, still crashed packs and provided the target inside 50. He took a towering mark in the goalsquare in the second term back with the flight and his set shot on an angle went straight through. Unfortunately he missed a couple of chances later in the game, not able to connect cleanly with a dribble attempt in the third term, rolling through for a behind, and then having a mongrel set shot attempt which also went through for a behind. Contributed well throughout with his body work and presence at congested areas.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Started slowly but worked into the game to end up with two goals from five scoring shots as well as finding plenty of the footy roaming up the ground and providing an option. He assisted Ryan Sparkes in getting a goal in the second term with a nice kick inside 50, and managed to snap his first goal thanks to loose checking from the Pioneers defenders later in the third term, receiving the quick handball from Riley Baldi near the boundary and snapping on his left. He kicked his second after the final siren, chewing up the remaining time on the clock to give the Power the win by 10 poitns. He could have finished with a big bag had he converted a few more of his chances, but got amongst it and always looked busy.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

Played through the middle and had a four quarter performance with his ability to create plays up the ground and do the tough work in the middle as well as get free to keep the ball moving in transition. He placed a kick inside 50 to Charlie Sprague early in the game and the created his own chance shortly after, with the ball touched by an opposition before he could mark it, but he showed clean hands to recover, turn around and snap around his body for a goal. His highlight passage of play was a run down the middle of the ground in the third term to set up a goal.

#12 Noah Gribble

Showed composure at both ends, winning the ball in defence then going forward and had a shot on goal late in the first quarter from a stoppage but put it to the left. A second shot shortly after from a set shot also drifted to the left, but did his best work in close. He had clean and quick hands in close, and won his fair share of the football, covering the ground well and providing an option in defence including marking from a kickout.

#15 Tanner Bruhn

Returning from a long-term injury, Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half, booting a couple of goals and could have had another one early in the game with the set shot that swung to the right from 35 metres out. He snapped a goal off a step in the last minute of the opening term, then kicked an unbelievable goal in the third term, taking a step of two and snapping under pressure from 40m out to put it straight through the middle. He had nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.

#32 Noah Gadsby

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and kept presenting along the wing. Gadsby was able to complement the rest of the midfield and had his fair share of the ball at the same time, pushing up and trying to create some run in wet conditions.

#37 Oliver Henry

After spending time in defence in recent weeks, the medium-sized utility was back inside 50 and showed off his talent when it comes to providing a target leading out. He had great hands overhead to continually remained involved in the contest, presenting at marking opportunities. He took an intercept mark early in the match but rushed his kick and it was smothered. Henry lead long up the wing to win a number of touches up the ground, but also crashed a pack in the second term and gave it off quickly to keep it moving. He did err late in the quarter opting for a quick snap rather than giving the hands off to Charlie Sprague who was free nearby. He converted a set shot after being held midway through the third term and did have the two from the game, also setting up Sprague for his fourth after wrestling the ball from two opponents and giving it over to his teammate.

#40 Jesse Clark

Just a rock in defence and had a really influential first term, before not having a great deal of work to do after that. He still remained steadfast across the remaining three quarters, but kept the Falcons moving by taking a number of intercept marks in the back 50, then clearing the danger and getting it to a teammate by switching or hitting up a short target on the wing. Lead the team well and will hope to continue the form next week against a talented Sandringham Dragons’ forward line.

#46 Henry Walsh

Performed well in the ruck against a more mobile ruck in Bigoa Nyoun, but positioned himself impressively at stoppages. Can leap high and took a strong mark in the second term before kicking long down the line. He hit the scoreboard after receiving a free kick and a 50m penalty, lining up from straight in front early in the third term and putting it through the middle. Laid a couple of good tackles defensively to work hard that way as well.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Played a bit of everywhere in the match and could not fault his effort. The potential top five pick was winning touches around the ground early starting on a wing before playing exclusively forward in the second term. He lead out of attack and presented on a number of opportunities but was well worn by opposition defenders. He moved back into defence in the third term to try and stem the flow of goals, creating run and carry off half-back but was caught once and dispossessed. He still remained a calm and composed leader, never giving in despite the mounting opposition scoreline and was able to hit-up a target on the wing with a lovely kick out of defence having to negotiate three opposition players and remaining calm to think his way through the situation.

#11 Ned Cahill

Not his biggest game playing through the midfield, but still had a number of nice moments. He showed off his agility early with Cahill turning on a dime after winning the ball at half-back and sidestepping a couple of opponents to kick long down the wing. He was able to win an important clearance midway through the second term, and used the ball well under pressure to hook a kick and hit-up Bigoa Nyuon inside 50 in the opening quarter.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The athletic ruck showed good positioning in the marking contest and gave Jack Toner an opportunity for a goal in the first quarter but he missed the set shot, but created another opportunity not long after with the smarts to intercept a pass in attacking 50, and start a chain of handballs leading to a Jordan Andrews snap goal. Nyuon also took a strong grab later in the game in defence helping out.

#47 Will Bravo

The bottom-age prospect had some nice plays, showing his quick sidestep to evade a couple of players and snap around his body to Hayden Young’s advantage early in the game. He kicked a vital goal from a set shot midway through the second term, and had a chance for another goal but his quick snap was marked by opposition defenders just out from goal.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Had a quieter first three quarters, though did take a terrific contested mark at half-back and received a 50m penalty for an opponent infringing the mark. Once the fourth term rolled around, Williams lit it up, booting three consecutive goals, albeit at a stage when the game seemed done and dusted, though his set shot routine was consistent. He booted all three to cut the deficit from 50 to 32 points in the space of 15 minutes and show what he is capable of in a quarter of football.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony did not have the biggest game on the stats sheet, but most of his touches were in the forward half with attempts on goal. Unfortunately the wet weather wrecked havoc for his goalkicking as the talented mid/forward booted three behinds, two of which came from flying shots on goal in the first and third terms, and a third miss from a set shot. Continued to present inside 50 and was really good defensively, locking the ball up in terrible conditions and keeping the ball in the Rebels’ forward half.

#6 Jack Tillig

Had the ball on a string early in the game running off half-back and through the middle, winning an impressive one-on-one against the much taller Will Christie, and remained busy when linking up in transition. Later in the game Tillig drifted back to take a strong intercept mark in the defensive 50 hole. An impressive game from the bottom-ager.

#7 Mitch Martin

Played nearly exclusively forward and managed to capitalise with three majors in a day that was difficult to kick them with the wet ball. He started with a behind from a tight angle in the opening term, and a second snap shortly after went out of bounds. He kicked with first goal late in the second term with time ticking down, and almost had a second when he got taken high close to the boundary 35m out on a set shot but it fell just short in the square. He was the beneficiary of a free kick 30m out straight in front for the density ruling late in the quarter as the siren sounded to kick his second. Late in the final term he kicked his third from a great snap and then shortly after fended off an opponent and kept the ball moving with quick hands to Jack Tillig. Finished the game with three goals from six shots so could have had a massive day in the wet.

#13 Jay Rantall

Had a really quiet first term notching up just one touch and had six by half-time before getting into his usual groove and just outrunning everyone. He had a couple of nice clearances and won a free kick early in the fourth term, delivered to a teammate then ran hard to receive a handball from the receiver of his kick and go forward. Finished with a solid 20-odd touches to restore the status quo, but his defensive work was what stood out with numerous tackles time and time again and leading the way in that department with his attitude and attack on the ball and ball carrier.

#43 Charlie Molan

The Vic Country Under 16s representative stepped up from his debut last week to have a real impact in the conditions. He played along a wing and also went in and won his own ball to be one of the more prominent four quarter performers for the winners. He pushed hard and kept it moving in transition and got back in defence to help out and clear the danger.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Did not have as many touches as some others, but the Under 16s midfielder was noticeable every time he went near it. Apart from the colourful boots, Hobbs showed clean hands in the wet and continually picked the right option when handballing to a teammate on the outside to set up scoring opportunities. Took a good intercept mark at half-forward early, and then read the ruck stoppage perfectly in the second term to win the ball on the outside and bend it around his body for a goal midway through the second term. He had another flying shot at goal in the third term but it went out on the full, then set up Matty Lloyd with a lovely lace-out pass inside 50. Had a quieter second half but remained involved with moments like that.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Did not have a huge game but kick-started the Rebels with the opening goal of the game with a strong one-on-one mark deep in attack off the first clearance and inside 50. Rentsch converted the set shot to ensure he got on the goalkickers list and while he did not add to the total, still provided a target inside 50. He showed clean hands in the forward 50 and intercepted a ball in that first term and delivered to Mitch Martin deep in the pocket.

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Spent most of his time in the forward half to show off the running defender’s versatility. He had a quiet first term with just the two touches and having to push up the ground, but soon showed his composure and leadership in the wet. He stood up and got his hands away in a tackle early, then intercepted a Matty Lloyd rebound with a good mark at half-forward before moving to the goalsquare where he rotated with Jimmy Boyer between there and the midfield. Ash almost kicked a goal from 60m with the wind carrying it past the pack of players in that second term, but the ball bounced through for a behind. He also had a great kick under pressure to hit-up a target at half-forward, always vocal and leading his side throughout the four quarters.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Enjoyed the conditions and was one of Murray’s best again in the middle, shovelling the ball out and getting his hands dirty – both figuratively and literally. He read the ruck taps well and kicked inside 50 and keep the pressure on teh opposition defenders and tried to run and carry as best he could on the slippery ground surface. He won a free kick 40m out for a tackle on an opposition player forcing him to throw it out, but Chalcraft’s set shot was touched on the line and went into the post. He put in one of his better four quarter performances to have another 20-plus disposals, working hard across the ground and taking a mark from a kickout in defence such was his ground coverage.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Set the tone defensively with a magnificent front-on tackle on Toby Mahony to bring him to ground early in the game and rotated between midfield and forward. He got involved more as the game went on and was able to pump the ball inside 50 a few times, but his defensive work was the highlight, laying tackle after tackle which was crucial in Murray staying in the contest. He kicked a late consolation goal on the run thanks to his hard running with less than five minutes to go in the game.

#25 Liam Fiore

Had a really big first term driving the ball out of the back 50 and still did some nice things after that. He takes the game on and is willing to risk it by running down the middle and breaking the lines. He used the ball well and always looked for switching play to find the open player on the outside. Played deeper in defence as the game went on but did well one-on-one.

#26 Sam Durham

Found the ball in all thirds of the ground, firing out handballs from in close, sliding in for a great mark at half-back and pumping a long kick inside 50 as part of a big first term. He continued to win the ball and get it moving forward in transition by picking up touches on the wing or at stoppages and getting it to the danger zone inside forward 50. Durham also provided some good defensive pressure with a number of tackles.

#31 Josh Rachele

The Under 16s forward was not to be outdone by his Vic Country teammates on the Rebels’ side, pushing up the ground to win the ball when required, and being an option inside 50 at times as well. He played to the conditions, often bombing it long to try and gain distance, showing off a quick release by hand in the fourth term to give a running teammate a shot on goal.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

The bottom-age forward showed a number of impressive traits playing exclusively inside 50, having Murray’s first set shot from 50m out on a slight angle but it just fell short and was rushed through. It happened again late in the game with the ball punched through for a rushed behind up the other end, while his goal came from general play in the second term, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping around his body to put Murray in front. He tried to be too inventive at one stage, kicking the ball off the ground but it went out on the full. Got talent to work with, it will just be a case of building on the consistency and lowering the eyes at times.

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

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

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

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

By: Peter Williams

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

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

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

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

By: Peter Williams

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

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

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

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

By: Peter Williams

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

Vic Country U17s lift in second half to power past NSW/ACT

VIC COUNTRY U17’s class shone through in a seven goal to three second half as they overcame NSW/ACT 11.9 (75) to 7.8 (50) at Ikon Park on Sunday.

Despite the frosty conditions, both sides warmed to the contest well early on in an opening term which ebbed and flowed. The Rams made the better start as Kale Gabila booted the first two goals of the game in style to see his side break to an early lead. The momentum took a 180-degree turn though as goals to Dominic Bedendo and Sam Berry saw Country level proceedings, before Josh Green replied in good time to give NSW/ACT a slim lead at the first break. A repeat of the first term looked on the cards as Swans Academy gun Pierce Roseby put the Rams back in front to start the second stanza, but Country began to get on top on the back of some unrelenting attack to snatch a three-point half time buffer with goals to Will Bravo and Deakyn Smith.

Gabila’s third major was the only glimmer of resistance in a rampant five goals to one third term for the Victorians, who began to get on top in the midfield battle and put the clamps on to lock the ball in their attacking half. It was then a case of the damage already being done as Country hardly looked phased in a more anticlimactic final term which featured two classy Braeden Campbell goals, Max Annandale‘s second, and one to Ryan Angwin. Country also seemed to get the better of a few magnet shuffles, with Oliver Henry faring better up forward and Josh Treacy getting more involved at the centre bounces. The level-pegged term saw the hosts run away with 25-point final margin of victory, with the Rams just unable to take a couple of gilt edge chances to truly get back into the contest.

Gippsland pocket rocket Berry was clearly best afield, racking up 23 disposals, four marks, six clearances and a goal in a complete performance from midfield. His engine room partners Charlie Lazzaro (21 disposals, five tackles) and Zavier Maher (20 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s) supported him well, while the likes of Smith (14 disposals, eight marks, two goals), Angwin (16 disposals, four marks, one goal) and Seamus Mitchell (11 disposals, one goal) proved handfuls forward of centre. The Rams’ top-end talent led the way despite the loss, with Swans academy trio Errol Gulden (19 disposals, five marks, four clearances), Campbell (18 disposals, seven tackles, seven inside 50s, two goals) and Roseby (17 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) all influential around the ball. Marco Rossmann was threatening up forward alongside major goal kicker Gabila, while Marc Sheather (14 disposals, four rebound 50s) provided a cool head down back in the first half.

VIC COUNTRY 11.9 (75)
NSW/ACT 7.8 (50)

GOALS
Vic Country: D. Smith 2, M. Annandale 2, S. Berry, J. Tillig, R. Angwin, W. Bravo, S. Mitchell, D. Bendendo, O. Henry.
NSW/ACT: K. Gabila 3, B. Campbell 2, P. Roseby, J. Green.

ADC BEST:
Vic Country: S. Berry, D. Smith, Z. Maher, J. Tillig, N. Gadsby, R. Angwin
NSW/ACT: B. Campbell, K. Gabila, E. Gulden, P. Roseby, M. Rossmann, M. Sheather

Bottom-age talent to hit Ikon Park

A DOUBLE header at Ikon Park is exactly what footy fans will be after during the NAB League’s development weekend. The top Victorian Under 17s will go head-to-head against NSW/ACT and Queensland which gives fans of the four AFL clubs with Northern Academies a chance to see them in action. While some players such as Will Phillips and Elijah Hollands are not named, there is still plenty of talent to go around.

VIC COUNTRY vs. NSW/ACT
Sunday August 11, 9.45am
Ikon Park

Vic Country:

1 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power)
2 Deakyn Smith (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels)
4 Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers)
5 Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers)
6 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)
7 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power)
8 Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)
9 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)
10 Clayton Gay (Dandenong Stingrays)
11 Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
12 Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
13 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)
14 Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons)
15 Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
16 Jack Tillig (GWV Rebels)
17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)
18 Max Annadale (Geelong Falcons)
19 Ethan Baxter (Murray Bushrangers)
20 Finn Ellis Castle (Bendigo Pioneers)
21 Kyle Skene (Geelong Falcons)
22 Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)
24 Jai Neal (Dandenong Stingrays)
25 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)
26 Mason Hawkins (Gippsland Power)
27 Keith Robinson (Gippsland Power)

Vic Country’s side has a number of nice developing talls including Bendigo Pioneers’ Josh Treacy up forward and Geelong Falcons’ Cameron Fleeton down back, both of whom have been in good form of late. The defensive lines look strong with the likes of Oliver Henry and Clayton Gay likely to provide plenty of run and carry out of defence with their terrific ball skills, whilst Sam Berry, Charlie Lazzaro and Noah Gadsby provide some fierce tackling pressure.

NSW/ACT Rams:

1 Jackson Tikkeros (Sydney Swans)
2 Cooper Wilson (Sydney Swans)
8 Oscar Davis (Sydney Swans)
9 Taine Wright (Sydney Swans)
10 Matthew Hamblin (GWS GIANTS)
12 Kale Gabila (Sydney Swans)
13 Pierce Roseby (Sydney Swans)
26 Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans)
27 Coopa Steele (GWS GIANTS)
28 Sam Frost (GWS GIANTS)
29 Drew Beavan (GWS GIANTS)
34 Sebastian Quirk (GWS GIANTS)
35 Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS)
36 Maximus Monaghan (GWS GIANTS)
37 Scott Brown (GWS GIANTS)
38 Sam Eynaud (Sydney Swans)
39 Marc Sheather (Sydney Swans)
40 Jack Driscoll (GWS GIANTS)
41 Jarred Gardiner (GWS GIANTS)
43 Aidan Beveridge (Sydney Swans)
## Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans)
## Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans)
## Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

NSW/ACT have named a strong team for the contest, with the bottom three players yet to receive a number the keys to watch. Errol Gulden is the top prospect of this group and has already shown he can match it with top-agers as a great left footer who can win plenty of the pill on the outside and do damage by foot. Braeden Campbell is a dangerous forward who knows where the goals are and can push up the ground, while Charlie Byrne has elite foot skills and can play off half-back or drift forward.

VIC METRO vs. QUEENSLAND
Sunday August 11, 12.15pm
Ikon Park

VIC METRO:

1 Lucas Failli (Western Jets)
2 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons)
3 Eddie Ford (Western Jets)
4 Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
6 Jackson Cardillo (Calder Cannons)
7 Ewan Macpherson (Northern Knigts)
8 Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons)
9 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)
10 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)
11 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)
12 Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
13 Liam Conway (Western Jets)
15 Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
16 Jack Keeping (Calder Cannons)
17 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights)
18 Fraser Elliot (Oakleigh Chargers)
19 Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges)
20 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)
21 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)
23 Joshua Eyre (Calder Cannons)
25 Jack Diedrich (Eastern Ranges)
26 Cody Raak (Western Jets)
27 Joe Nowell (Sandringham Dragons)
29 Campbell Edwardes (Calder Cannons)

X-factor galore in this side, with Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford providing the speed and high-flying marks, while Collingwood Next Generation Academy member Reef McInnes and Wil Parker will be strong through midfield. Ewan Macpherson has provided support up in defence for the Northern Knights, while Lochie Jenkins and Cody Raak are in great form as well. Connor Downie and Finlay Macrae were both named in the Vic Metro squad with Downie getting to run out on the MCG. Also watch for the lightning speed of Joshua Clarke.

QUEENSLAND:

3 Ethan Hunt (Gold Coast Suns)
4 Shatna Cashen-Harris (Brisbane Lions)
5 Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions)
6 Will O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions)
7 James Smith (Gold Coast Suns)
9 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions)
10 Will Tasker (Brisbane Lions)
11 Ky McKenzie (Brisbane Lions)
12 Max Pescud (Gold Coast Suns)
13 Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions)
15 Toby Trffett (Brisbane Lions)
16 Bailey Reeves (Gold Coast Suns)
18 Oliver Rojo (Gold Coast Suns)
20 Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast Suns)
23 Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions)
24 Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions)
26 Alex Davies (Gold Coast Suns)
27 Connor Bulley (Gold Coast Suns)
29 Lleyton Cottrell (Brisbane Lions)
30 Jack Johnston (Gold Coast Suns)
33 Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast Suns)
34 Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast Suns)
35 Ethan Harris (Brisbane Lions)

A squad full of zippy smalls and outside types will make the trip down for Queensland, with each member assigned to either to Gold Coast or Brisbane academies. The likes of Tahj Abberley and Ethan Hunt are likely to run through the midfield, respectively providing class and hardness to the engine room, while Saxon Crozier looks to be a leading prospect who can roam between the flanks. Blake Coleman provides some excitement up forward, with the likes of James Smith and Darcy Prest likely to solidify the half-back line. Another to watch for is Alex Davies, who is a brutish inside midfielder and finds plenty of clearances.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 16

EASTERN Ranges and Geelong Falcons might sit at either end of the NAB League Boys ladder, but both were featured heavily in the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week for Round 16. Both the Ranges and Falcons had a round-high four nominations each in the Team of the Week, while other winners, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Oakleigh Chargers had three players each, as did narrow losers Bendigo Pioneers and Dandenong Stingrays. Tasmania Devils and Western Jets both had two players each in the side to round out the 24-player squad decided over four games.

Geelong Falcons broke through for just their second win of the season, which was led by a number of bottom-agers including Oliver Henry and Cameron Fleeton who held up the defence well down on the Apple Isle. Also returning to the side but having more of a midfield presence was co-captain Jesse Clark who made the side along with overager, Charlie Sprague. At the other end of the table, Eastern secured a narrow win over Dandenong, which was led by captain James Ross who was strong in defence and got forward to boot two goals, as well as Team of the Week regulars Mitch Mellis and Zak Pretty in midfield, and Billy McCormack through the ruck and pushing forward.

Oakleigh Chargers’ Lochlan Jenkins won our Player of the Week for Round 16 and was named in midfield along with teammates Reef McInnes and Vincent Zagari who both impressed, while their opponents Western Jets saw the classy Josh Honey and five-goal forward Archi Manton make Team of the Week this week. Rounding out the back six are Dandenong Stingrays’ duo Clayton Gay and Hayden Young, while Ned Cahill showed impressive signs up forward.

Up at MARS Stadium on Sunday, Jay Rantall was superb again for GWV Rebels through the midfield, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Under 16s key forward Josh Rentsch were also named in our Team of the Week. Bendigo Pioneers had the three players as well in the tight game with Jack Ginnivan making it once again after four goals, while Josh Treacy was strong up forward too, and Aaron Gundry solid through the ruck. Rounding out the team is Tasmania’s Oliver Davis and Sam Banks who were among the best for the Devils in their loss to the Falcons.

Caught the Eye: NAB League Boys – Round 16

IN a new weekly feature article highlighting the best upcoming NAB League talent, we take a look at who best staked their claim over the weekend, in ‘Caught the Eye’. For full scouting notes on each player’s game and more, click here. Note that the players mentioned were not necessarily the best performers, but ones who caught the eye with some promising glimpses.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets

Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 190cm |

Stats: 10 disposals, three marks, four tackles, 2.1

Our scouts said: “Continued his great form with more exciting moments, showing off his terrific vertical leap and clean set shot routine.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Looks to be this year’s draft bolter after being prized from local footy, and is on the path to completing a great story. Earned a national combine invite and looks an exciting prospect, playing well above his 190cm height.

Josh Honey
Western Jets | Balanced Midfielder
17/10/2001 | 184cm | 85kg

Stats: 24 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s

Our scouts said: “Impressed throughout the game with a mix of offensive and defensive attributes… best of all for Honey was his clean use with a slippery ball.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Is starting to again find some strong form after slotting back into the Western line-up and has obvious class. Can work on consistency, but is dangerous when forward and explosive through midfield.

Tasmania Devils vs. Geelong Falcons

Sam Banks
Tasmania Devils | Wing
2/04/2003 | 184cm |

Stats: 14 disposals, two marks, three inside 50s, two rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “The 16-year-old has unbelievable class and poise… Banks’ best moments came with little baulks and clever props.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: It’s still early days for the Under 16 Division 2 MVP, but all the hallmarks are there for him to be Tasmania’s leading 2021 prospect. Has a damaging kick and will be one to watch with his skills in traffic.

Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons | Intercept Defender
29/07/2002 | 186cm | 72kg

Stats: 24 disposals, 11 marks, eight rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Henry’s clean hands and reading of the ball in flight were on full show, with his ability to rebound and find short options bringing a calmness to Geelong’s back half.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Has great versatility and is really growing as a player despite Geelong’s down year. His reading of the play and strong hands overhead help him to influence the game up either end, so expect him to feature both as an intercept defender and lead-up forward over the next 12 months.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Eastern Ranges

Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays | Midfielder/Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 178cm | 77kg

Stats: 18 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s, 2.0

Our scouts said: “Cahill had a slow start to the game but he really came alive in the second and third quarters showing his fantastic work rate through the midfield and proving a dangerous option when forward.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: You’d already be well aware of Cahill’s ability and he just keeps on proving his worth with some more midfield time, while remaining productive up forward. Works hard, is smart, and hunts the ball, meaning he’ll most likely be a small forward at the next level.

Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges | Midfielder/Forward
27/01/2003 | 181cm |

Stats: 20 disposals, five marks, six tackles, five inside 50s

Our scouts said: “Sonsie stood out with his quick reaction times and clean and crisp ball use.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Is already well credentialed as the Under 16 Vic Metro MVP, and has acclimatised so well to NAB League football. Although he gives up some size against top-age opponents, Sonsie has competed well so far and oozes class. One to watch.

GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Josh Rentsch
GWV Rebels | Key Forward/Ruck
14/09/2003 | 196cm |

Stats: 13 disposals, six marks, seven hitouts, 2.1

Our scouts said: “Took a few really nice marks inside 50, showing signs that he could be one to watch over the next two years.” – Cam Ross

Verdict: Rentsch is fantastically mobile for a big-man, showing off his athleticism to date both overhead and below his knees. The 16-year-old is steadily improving and is sure to become an aerial force.

Josh Treacy
Bendigo Pioneers | Utility
4/08/2002 | 193cm | 88kg

Stats: 18 disposals, three marks, six tackles, five inside 50s, eight hitouts, 2.0

Our scouts said: “Best player for the Pioneers. Treacy won his own clearances in the ruck, and impacted further with tackle pressure at ground level.” – Cam Ross

Verdict: Has really shown off his versatility over the past few weeks, spending time at the centre bounces to add to his key forward and ruck crafts. Loves to throw his weight around and has strong hands, with some room left to grow over the next 12 months.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 16

TWO of four games being played between the bottom-four sides did not stop a good amount of talent from shining through in Round 16 of the NAB League. We cast an eye over each match, highlighting the performances of representative squad members, as well as impressive under and over-agers, with our notes the opinion of each individual writer.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams

Oakleigh:

#6 Jeromy Lucas

Played an important role through the midfield to be a key cog in linking up the defence through to attack. He worked hard defensively to support the Chargers’ back six and was composed when providing an option and moving the ball off half-back, whilst applying plenty of defensive pressure around the stoppages. He had a number of important inside 50s, but finished off his own work with a good running goal in the third term after running hard to find space 40m out and converting the set shot from straight in front.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The small bottom-aged midfielder won the ball with ease throughout the match, having a big influence around the stoppages and then spreading to the outside to set up attacking plays. He had a massive 10 inside 50s, and along with Reef McInnes, provided the link from midfield to the forward line. He not only had some nice attacking plays, but laid a number of strong tackles, accumulating the ball by winning it himself and winning it back from the opposition.

#39 Reef McInnes

One of Oakleigh’s best and was a bigger body in terms of height in the midfield for the Chargers. He had a massive first term and was strong throughout the game, putting together a nice four-quarter effort. The Collingwood Next Generation Academy bottom-ager looked good around the clearances, winning a number of big clearances from in close, and set up scoring opportunities with nice kicks inside 50. He is able to get his hands free when tackles and had a shot on goal in the first term but his kick was rushed and it went to the left. McInnes showed good decision making ability when in congestion, picking the right option when handballing clear and stood tall against a number of opponents.

#72 Alex Lukic

Built on his recent debut with an even improved performance. The tall 16-year-old seemed more like a small with his ability to crumb the ball, kicking the easiest of goals after a free kick and play on by a teammate found him alone at the top of the the square in the first term, then kicked another later on from a tight angle to put it straight through in general play.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Continued his great form with more exciting moments, showing off his terrific vertical leap and clean set shot routine. He missed his first chance to the right – his first set shot miss in four games, but then converted his first opportunity from a 30m set shot on a slight angle in the second term. Sharman’s defensive pressure was noticeably up compared to his other matches, working on that area of his game, laying a great tackle in the back pocket in the second term as an example. He was strong and clean overhead, taking a great mark in front of Emerson Jeka in the third term and converting the set shot from 40m out. He did lose a one-on-one against a smaller but stronger opponent shortly after showing an area of improvement, but again had some really eye-catching moments in the game.

Western:

#3 Eddie Ford

The bottom-age forward reads the play well and times his marks, almost providing another massive highlight as he had at the Victorian trials at Ikon Park, but could not quite bring it down. He wanted to keep the ball moving at every opportunity, playing on and getting it deep into attack. Ford set up a goal to Billy Cootee with a quick handball out of congestion to his teammate free in space for a great goal. He had a chance himself earlier in the game but was dragged down and his shot went to the right.

#7 Daly Andrews

Tried hard throughout the four quarters and managed to win the ball in all thirds of the ground. He occasionally would rush kicks to get it out of the danger zone, or have a flying shot on goal such as he did in the first term, but was dragged down as he kicked it. His long raking kick was used to effect to put the ball inside 50 on a number of occasions and it impacted the scoreboard with a long-range shot from 50m out in the final term to cut the deficit to 21 points midway through the final term. Won a lot of his touches in close.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Played a full game down in defence and held his own. It was not his best game, but still showed plenty of signs to continue his good form of late. Jeka took a strong intercept mark one-on-one deep in defence to stop a potential goal early in the first term and had a timely punch short after to get it out of the danger zone. He contested well at every opportunity and continued to present at marking contests, taking another good intercept mark in the second term 25 metres out from goal.

#24 Josh Honey

Impressed throughout the game with a mix of offensive and defensive attributes, and whilst sometimes it might cost him – such as being pinged for holding the ball later in the game – it can be a massive benefit such as when he burst out of the middle in the second term for the first stoppage and set up the opening goal with a damaging long kick. He pushed hard into defence to win the ball at times, but was predominantly used as an option through midfield, kicking it long into attack. Best of all for Honey was his clean use with a slippery ball which forced others to fumble. His defensive work such as tackling and pressure on the ball carrier was also very good.

Tasmania Devils vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Just continues to do the dirty-work in Tasmania’s engine room, digging in hard to extract contested ball and tackling with just as much intent. He wasn’t as prolific as usual, but still led the Devils’ disposal count with 23 on the back of some willing clearances in the final term with the game on the line. Is so clean at the stoppages, and looks to be sharpening up his use when coming away from them with more handballs and targeted kicks.

#6 Sam Banks

The 16-year-old has unbelievable class and poise, catching the eye with a couple of deft moves around opponents and long kicks forward. A lot of Banks’ work was done on the outside given his starting position on the wing, but he worked hard to have an impact at either end and penetrate both arcs. Banks’ best moments came with little baulks and clever props, using one to trick an opponent and find Jack Rand inside 50 before creating his own goal opportunity with another, but only managing to hit the post.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Known as the designated kicker for Tasmania, McGuinness was particularly influential in the second term and got to plenty of contests with his superior positioning. Truly plays above his height when setting himself to intercept, and did so on plenty of occasions while doubling as a driver out of the back half. He got forward well early on to get a hand-off on the forward arc, but put the long-range shot wide. Has shown marked improvement from his top-age year.

#8 Jake Steele

You know what you’re going to get from Steele, who put in another competitive shift for the Devils in a range of roles. Starting down back as he has done in the past few weeks, Steele was matched one-on-one against the dangerous Charlie Sprague, but had a greater impact when getting free to provide an outlet out of defence. The Allies representative was thrown into the ruck after half time where he became influential as the game tightened up, taking a couple of nice overhead marks and pushing Tasmania forward with long kicks. Missed a couple of sharp chances on goal, but was solid overall.

#25 Jackson Callow

It was a trying day for the Tasmanian target man but he started really brightly with some terrific shows of sticky hands on the lead and pure one-on-one strength. Callow’s only goal of the game came from a textbook set shot in the opening term, and his influence was quelled as the contest wore on as he was forced to lead up further afield and often flew for marks in packs. Definitely is not afraid to throw his weight around, providing a bit of niggle and sparking a three-quarter time melee – perhaps out of a bit of frustration. Is such a competitor though, and will be a leading tall prospect for next year.

#49 Baynen Lowe

Was by no means a high-disposal output from the 16-year-old debutant, but Lowe showed some nice signs in patches. Employed up forward, Lowe’s aggression and intent when hunting the ball and tackling was impressive given his diminutive size, having a real crack with great tenacity. Lowe paired those traits with touches of class, roving a ball nicely at speed, reading a high ball well to mark over the back of an opponent, and proving clean below his knees.

Geelong:

#1 Jay Dahlhaus

It was a steady return for the zippy top-ager, coming back from a serious knee injury sustained all the way back in Round 2. Playing permanently forward, Dahlhaus made a bright start as he found the goals in the opening term, going on to have his best impact with tackling pressure and by getting in the right spots. Didn’t all come together for him on the day, but it was good to see him moving well and back out there. Could be one to come back as an over-ager if he shows what he is capable of in Geelong’s closing games.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Has really found a home up forward and turned it on in patches to boot three goals for the fourth-consecutive time. Often starting out of the goalsquare, Sprague’s work on the lead made him particularly dangerous, getting good separation while also being able to gain an advantage with his bodywork. Booted his first major in straightforward fashion with a close-range set shot, before assisting Jay Dahlhaus shortly after. He would go on to put through another textbook set shot in the following quarter after finding space inside 50, but missed another chance after a fantastic run-down tackle close to goal. Had arguably the highlight of the day with a beautiful pick up in the pocket, spin, and snap to claim a sensational goal and cap an influential first half. Did not have the same scoreboard impact after half time, but continued to lead up well.

#37 Oliver Henry

Had some sort of start to the game, clunking just about everything that came his way in defence with some brave efforts going back with the flight and others coming in from the side. Henry’s clean hands and reading of the ball in flight were on full show, with his ability to rebound and find short options bringing a calmness to Geelong’s back half. Was arguably the most influential player afield in the first half, just continually attacking the ball in the air and bringing it down. Henry was eventually thrown forward as the Falcons rolled the dice late, but didn’t quite have the same impact. Will be a top prospect next year given his versatility, marking ability, and pedigree.

#40 Jesse Clark

Is doing well to show off different sides to his game with some more midfield minutes, and was relevant throughout the contest with his work at the stoppages. Clark just constantly found a way to find enough space amid congestion and break away or get the ball onto his boot quickly, pushing the Falcons forward. He caused enough of a headache around the ball to earn a holding free kick inside 50 in the first term, which he took full advantage of to boot his only goal for the game. The Geelong skipper accumulated at a good rate across the match, with a couple of nice tap reads and good tackling in-close.

#46 Henry Walsh

The big, lumbering bottom-ager continues to get the job done in the ruck, dominating around the ground to smack down 44 hitouts – albeit against smaller opponents. Walsh’s seems to be growing in his ruck craft, palming some nice hits to advantage and looking to put the ball into the best areas for his ball winners. The brother of Sam also impressed with his follow-up work at ground level, laying some heavy tackles at stoppages and even winning a couple of clearances. Was unfazed by some heat from the Devils after a goal in the third term, putting the ball down Jesse Clark’s throat at the very next centre bounce, which was good to see. Is still pretty raw but has shown his potential in recent weeks.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Another exciting Falcons bottom-ager, Fleeton played a massive role in what was arguable the contest of the day against Devils forward Jackson Callow. Despite conceding some size, Fleeton trimmed the difference with his leap and combativeness, following Callow’s every step and managing to get a hand in at the opportune moment. He improved his positioning as the game went on after getting caught behind and too far under the ball on separate occasions early, while making his opponent work the other way with some run on the rebound. Can sharpen up his use by foot at times, but has played every game since his Round 8 debut and is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Ed Pascoe

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young was Dandenong’s clear best on ground and he did everything he could to try and get his team over the line. Young’s first quarter was his best and his first great bit of play was a trademark kick on his left hitting up leading teammate Sam De Koning close to the boundary with no margin for error, and he would later hit up De Koning again with a nice spin out of trouble and great kick inside 50. Young was quieter until the last quarter where he was influential through the midfield attacking the contests hard and working hard up and down the ground to try and win his team the game. Young has been fantastic through the midfield in recent weeks and has certainly showed another string to his bow and using his strong marking and kicking higher up the ground, Young finished the game with 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill had a slow start to the game but he really came alive in the second and third quarters showing his fantastic work rate through the midfield and proving a dangerous option when forward. Cahill was crafty forward of centre and in the second quarter pulled off a super quick handball that lead to a goal and would kick a goal himself after winning a high free kick and converted the set shot. Cahill’s best bit of play came in the third quarter winning a stoppage at the defensive 50m arc then later linking up on the wing to kick inboard and would then keep running inside 50 to take a well earned mark and would convert the set shot which was well deserved for the massive effort. Cahill finished the game with 18 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and two goals.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning played forward after showing his quality as a defender at the Under 18 championships winning AA honours. He started the game well taking a nice leading mark to the boundary of a nice pass from teammate Hayden Young, it was a tough spot and he would miss the set shot. Despite being as taller player, De Koning was among the quicker decision makers and users of the ball with his handballs really standing out, he showed great courage going back to try and take a mark and would get hurt in the process and then in the third quarter would come off limping and take no more part in the game. De Koning finished the game with seven disposals, three marks and four hitouts.

Eastern:

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was one of Eastern’s better players for the day working hard through the midfield and using his pace any chance he got. Mellis was not afraid to take the game on and that was evident in the first quarter after taking a great mark, he would take the player on the mark on and got around him comfortably using his great explosiveness, he showed great attack on the ball inside 50 hitting it at pace and then using his explosiveness to evade and narrowly miss the running shot at goal. He would also use his speed without the ball as well doing well to work back into defence in the second quarter going back with the flight to spoil a certain mark to dangerous small forward Ned Cahill, he was a busy player through the day and finished the game with 24 disposals, three tackles and four inside 50s.

#21 James Ross

The Eastern captain was certainly influential and did so at both ends of the ground to remind recruiters of his talent. Ross started the game down back and was an intercept king often taking some courageous marks and also showing his reading of the play and clean hands with some marks coming from the side of contests. He was most annoying to Dandenong in the second quarter seemingly owning the defensive 50m arc. Ross was surprisingly sent forward in the third quarter and that move proved a game changer in a long scoring game as he would go on to kick two goals that quarter, his first came from an uncontested mark and would slot the set shot and the second came from a fantastic contested mark and he would again prove a solid set shot for goal. He wouldn’t add to his tally in the last quarter kicking a behind with a snap but he had done the damage to finish the game with 20 disposals, seven marks and two goals.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The MVP for Vic Metro in the Under 16 championships, Sonsie showed why he is a highly rated prospect for the 2021 draft with a solid outing playing through the midfield. Sonsie stood out with his quick reaction times and clean and crisp ball use, the one area Sonsie struggled in was his tackling with his lighter build working against him to properly hold up the opposition but the intent was certainly there and you couldn’t fault that for a 16 year old. He did however show good strength in a contest keeping his feet as this year’s highly touted prospect Hayden Young flew from the side to spoil him, he would then gather the ball and step Young in a great bit of play involving two great prospects of the future. Sonsie started on the wing but was moved into the midfield and would contest with Young on multiple occasions and despite the obvious size difference he more than held his own at the contest. Sonsie finished the game with 20 disposals, five marks, six tackles and five inside 50s.

GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Cam Ross

GWV:

#4 Jed Hill

Really smooth off half-back where he able to showcase his terrific foot-skills. Twice hit up forward targets with perfect long kicks on the lead. Played a very outside game, but his usage by foot was important.

#7 Mitch Martin

Had a quieter first half where he spent the majority of time on-ball. The talented forward was moved back to his natural position in the second half where he immediately hit the scoreboard, and had an influence in the Rebels’ comeback.

#13 Jay Rantall

Despite being closely monitored at stoppages in the first half, he was still was finding a lot of the ball around the ground. Using the word “singlehandedly” in a team sport is usually unfair, but Rantall’s efforts were as close to singlehandedly bringing his side back into the game as you could get. In the opening 10 minutes of the second half he had kicked two goals, and had a hand in two others, bringing the Rebels back into the game.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Barely sighted in the first half, due to the ineffectiveness of the Rebels’ forward 50 entries. Got a nice easy goal from the goal square, which was well deserved considering the amount of work he put in that went unrewarded, and then came alive after that. Took a few really nice marks inside 50, showing signs that he could be one to watch over the next two years. Took a big mark late in the game and kicked a clutch goal to make it a one point game. Really good size, athleticism and agility for a big man.

Bendigo:

#11 Aaron Gundry

Took a nice pack mark in front of goal, finishing the goal from point blank range. Looked better up forward than in the ruck.

#19 Ben Worme

Snuck forward and kicked a really important goal in the fourth quarter, turning an solid game into a good game.

#20 James Schischka

Played really well. His direct opponent had hardly any influence on the game. He showcased an ability to mark an opponent closely and defend with a big fist, while also proving his intercept marking ability. Nearly set up the winning goal with a quick kick forward that wasn’t converted on the siren.

#22 Josh Treacy

Best player for the Pioneers. Treacy won his own clearances in the ruck, and impacted further with tackle pressure at ground level. He booted two sensational goals; one on the run from the square, the other from winning a free kick with a nice tackle in front of goal.

NAB League Boys Round 16 wash-up: Three games decided by a combined 16 points

TWENTY-TWO points was the greatest margin in what was, needless to say, a tight round of NAB League action. Oakleigh kicked off the weekend with an impressive second half performance to knock Western off, followed by dramatic low-scoring wins to Geelong and Eastern. The drama continued on Sunday as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) came back from the dead twice to edge home over Bendigo, rounding off a remarkable four games of Under 18S football.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.2 | 4.3 | 10.5 | 12.8 (80)
WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 | 9.4 (58)

GOALS
Oakleigh: N. Stathopoulos 3, A. Tassell 2, C. Sharman 2, A. Lukic 2, J. Lucas, L. Jenkins, S. Seach.
Western: A. Manton 5, B. Cootee 2, S. El-Hawli, D. Andrews

BEST
Oakleigh: L. Jenkins, V. Zagari, R. McInnes, L. Westwood, N. Stathopoulos, J. Lucas.
Western: J. Honey, A. Manton, L. Conway, B. Cootee, S. El-Hawli, K. Crimmins

A barnstorming second half saw Oakleigh get the better of Western and slot into the all-important third place, with all teams bar Tasmania having now played 14 games. The Chargers gave up a six-point half-time lead after heading into the first break with an identical margin to the good, but turned it on in typical Oakleigh fashion to boot six goals to Western’s nil in the third term. While Western managed to claw back a bit of the margin in an improved final quarter, it was to no avail as Oakleigh held firm despite missing both of its co-captains. Chargers midfielder Lochlan Jenkins was the standout with 35 disposals, 10 inside 50s and a goal, backed by fellow bottom-age ball finder Reef McInnes (28 disposals, seven marks, nine tackles). Over-ager Jeromy Lucas (26 disposals, six tackles) was another to stand up with some of the Chargers’ guns absent, while Nicholas Stathopoulos was efficient in front of goal to prize three goals from seven disposals and Cooper Sharman (10 disposals, 2.1) continues to excite. For the Jets, Archi Manton was just as economical with 5.1 from seven kicks to do most of the damage as his side’s only multiple goal kicker, but Josh Honey was named best for his 24-disposal effort. Over-ager Daly Andrews (23 disposals) keeps on finding the ball, with returning defensive duo Lucas Rocci and Josh Kellett doing the same and bottom-ager Billy Cootee booting a couple of handy goals. Both sides are set to play their final regular season games in the Avalon Airport Oval triple-header, with Western opening the show against Northern and Oakleigh closing it in a mouth-watering clash with Sandringham.

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.4 | 2.5 | 4.11 | 6.13 (49)
GEELONG FALCONS 3.1 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS
Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Rand, P. Walker, J. Callow, J. Menzie.
Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Annandale 2, C. Seymour, J. Clark, A. Hildebrandt

BEST:
Tasmania: O. Davis, J. Rand, S. Banks, O. Shaw, J. Lane.
Geelong: O. Henry, C. Sprague, C. Fleeton, J. Clark, N. Gribble, H. Whyte

It was tough going, but Geelong finally managed to stand up in the final term and record its second win for the year, scraping past Tasmania to win by seven points on enemy territory. The game came to life in the final term after the Devils cut Geelong’s 17-point half time margin to just one heading into the last turn, with a heated scuffle ensuing at three-quarter time. It all looked like unravelling as Tasmania got on top early in the final period, but a strong final five minutes and clutch goals to Max Annandale and Chris Seymour got the Falcons home. There were plenty of standouts despite it being a bottom-two clash, with bottom-agers Oliver Henry and Oliver Davis clearly best for their respective sides. Henry reverted back to a defensive role, dominating in the air to pull down 11 marks, while Davis was relentless through midfield with 23 disposals and 10 tackles. Cameron Fleeton (21 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) complimented Henry well down back while keeping Jackson Callow to eight disposals and one goal, with skipper Jesse Clark (21 disposals, eight tackles, one goal) enjoying some midfield time and Charlie Sprague dangerous up forward with 3.2. For the Devils, Matt McGuinness continued his consistent form with 20 disposals and eight rebound 50s, while Jack Rand (16 disposals, 2.1) was good in just his second game and 16-year-old Sam Banks (14 disposals) also impressed. While the Devils can enjoy a week off, Geelong will look to finish its regular season strongly despite being cemented to last spot as it meets Dandenong in Round 17.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 0.5 | 2.5 | 5.5 | 6.5 (41)
EASTERN RANGES 1.5 | 1.6 | 4.10 | 5.16 (46)

GOALS
Dandenong: E. Cahill 2, C. Ellison 2, J. Nanscawen, W. Howe
Eastern: J. Ross 2, B. Hickleton, H. Keeling, M. Brown

BEST
Dandenong: C. Gay, H. Young, B. Nyuon, N. Heath, J. Nanscawen, E. Cahill
Eastern: J. Ross, M. Mellis, J. Nathan, T. Garner, B. McCormack, T. Sonsie

Dandenong fell agonisingly short of snapping its seven-game losing streak, going down by five points to ladder leaders Eastern at Shepley Oval. Six straight goals after quarter time was not quite enough to account for a wasteful 0.5 opening, with the equally wayward Ranges getting over the line after scrounging five behinds in the final 15 minutes to crawl to victory. It was the top-end talent of Dandenong that saw it draw close, with Hayden Young continuing his fine form to collect 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s, while Ned Cahill booted two goals from 18 touches, and Bigoa Nyuon was prominent in the air with 20 hitouts and seven marks. Despite their efforts, bottom-ager Clayton Gay (15 disposals, six marks, six tackles, six rebound 50s) was named the Stingrays’ best in a well-rounded performance, with Jack Toner (27 disposals) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. For the Ranges, who have now locked in top spot due to a sizeable percentage, skipper James Ross was terrific in a role further afield – collecting 20 disposals, taking seven marks and kicking two goals. Zak Pretty (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (24) found plenty of the pill, while consistent tall Billy McCormack (20 disposals, 22 hitouts) proving just that and 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie (20 disposals, five marks, six tackles) acclimatising nicely to the level. With first place all but nailed down, the Ranges move on to face Calder in the ultimate round, while Dandenong will eye off a win heading into Wildcard Round when it meets Geelong to end the regular season.

GWV REBELS 3.2 | 3.3 | 9.7 | 13.11 (89)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.2 | 8.2 | 10.4 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS
GWV: I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rentsch 2, J. Rantall 2, F. Marris, M. Martin, M. Herbert, B. Hobbs, M. Jorgensen
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 4, W. Wallace 2, J. Treacy 2, A. Gundry, S. O’Farrell, J. Evans, B. Worme, B. Rowles

BEST
GWV: J. Rantall, C. Craig-Peters, T. Mahony, I. Grant, J. Rentsch, P. Glanford
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan, J. Treacy, A. Gundry, J. Schischka, J. Evans, B. Worme

By: Cam Ross

The Bendigo Pioneers travelled to MARS stadium on Sunday for the battle of the two central Victorian teams.
The first quarter saw both sides wanting to play a free-flowing game. Pioneers midfield took advantage and Riley Wilson and Josh Treacy were really important. The highlight of the first quarter was Treacy’s brilliant running goal from inside the centre square. Two goals late, one with a lucky bounce for Ben Hobbs and a delightful finish on the run from Matty Lloyd looked to be enough to give the Rebels a lead into quarter time, but the red hot Treacy won the free kick with a nice tackle, and converted the set shot to keep the scores locked at 20 at the first break.

The Pioneers started the second where they left off in the first with Aaron Gundry converting after a nice pack mark in front of goal, and within a minute, some poor discipline from the Rebels cost them again and the Pioneers got a 50 metre penalty, putting them in the square again. The Rebels needed to respond around the ball, and with gun onballer Jay Rantall being closely checked it was up to Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony to attempt to have more of an impact. The Pioneers simply kept on winning the stoppages, and kicked six straight goals, meaning that a six-point Rebels lead at the 23-minute mark of the first quickly became a 29-point deficit half way through the second. Jed Hill and Rantall (around the ground) were winning enough ball for the Rebels, but didn’t have many helpers in the first half. The Rebels couldn’t kick one major in the second term and were crippled by their ineffectiveness to move the ball inside 50. The Pioneers on the other hand were sensational. Their five straight goals in the second, meant they were able to capitalise on their midfield dominance and really put it on the scoreboard.

The Rebels needed a spark to start the second half, and when Josh Rentsch was finally was on the end of some decent service to start the third quarter, the Rebels looked to get the start they needed. He missed this shot, but the ball was locked in the forward line, and then Lloyd gave them that early goal. Rantall’s following goal was one for the highlight reels. The Rebels gun took the ball on the wing, hit the leading target, receiving the ball back for a delightful finish on the run. Rantall’s dominance at start of the quarter continued, winning a free kick, bounding away and kicking long to a contest where naturally gifted forward Martin finished the job. The Rebels kicked three straight goals early in the third to drag themselves back into the contest. The Rebels completely dominated the third term, being first to the footy, and remarkably turned around the deficit inside 15 minutes. However, The Pioneers finished the term well and took a three-point lead into the final change.

The Pio’s Jack Ginnivan took full advantage of a questionable free kick two minutes into the final term, giving the Pioneers a dream start. The Pioneers began to win a lot more of the ball around the ground, and as they had all day, the Pioneers forwards were taking their presented opportunities. When Ben Worme kicked a delightful set shot, the margin drifted out to 16 points. After this, and the Pioneers put cruise control on late in the game, and three goals from Mitchell Jorgensen, Izaac Grant and Rentsch made it a one point game in the blink of an eye and when Grant kicked his second goal in five minutes the Rebels had amazingly taken the lead. With only seconds remaining, the ever reliable James Schischka, intercepted the ball off the Rebels rebound, and quickly put on the boot where it magically ended up in the hands of Noah Walsh. The Pioneers forward unfortunately missed the goal on the siren, leaving the Rebels as four-point victors. Rantall was best for the home side, while Treacy and Schischka played well for the Pioneers in extremely entertaining contest where both sides deserved to win.

NAB League Boys Round 16 preview – Teams jostle for position ahead of Wildcard Round

THE penultimate regular season round of NAB League action sees just eight of the thirteen teams set to take the field, with time running out to gain valuable ladder position. In its final home and away fixture, Tasmania hosts Geelong in a bottom two clash, while Oakleigh looks to take another step towards top three qualification against Western, Eastern will hope to secure top spot against Dandenong, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) hosts Bendigo.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday August 3, 10:30am
Box Hill City Oval

The chance to remain within the hunt for top three qualification looms for Oakleigh as they ready themselves for a clash with Western on neutral territory at Box Hill City Oval. The Chargers continue to grow towards full strength in the final two rounds, which makes them an even scarier proposition for a Western side coming off a 72-point smashing at the hands of Murray. The Jets have plenty on the line too, though, with the top eight squeeze firming and some pride on the line after their last outing. They are set for at least four changes with some key talent returning to the side in the form of Lucas Rocci and Josh Kellett down back, as well as Aaron Clarke and Eddie Ford up forward. On the other hand, Oakleigh will be without co-skippers Trent Bianco – quad injury – and Dylan Williams back injury – but draft bolter Cooper Sharman is sure to plug that hole at full forward. Under 16 All Australian Alex Lukic also remains in the side for his second outing and should provide some goals as 23rd man. The tall timber of Western looks a threat though, with the likes of Clarke, Archi Manton, and Will Kennedy all able to provide a presence inside 50 – not to mention Emerson Jeka, who has been named at centre half-back. It will be interesting to observe the battle of a few midfield movers too, with Josh Honey and Daly Andrews set to clash with Bianco and Jeromy Lucas in a direct top and over-ager battle. Whichever way it goes, expect Oakleigh to be on form and Western keen to show some of their own.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday August 3, 11:30am
North Hobart Oval

North Hobart Oval is the scene for a bottom-two clash on Saturday, as Tasmania plays host to Geelong in what is set to be a tight tussle. The sides are yet to meet this season, but form can be identified in the losing streaks in excess of six games for either team. Still, the Falcons have been largely competitive bar some final-quarter fade outs, and the same goes for Tasmania on home turf until recent weeks. The Devils are set to regain Under 16 Division 2 MVP Sam Banks and hand fellow representative Baynen Lowe a debut, which should add depth to their midfield rotation and free up the likes of Sam Collins to get a solid run through there. Geelong will also be buoyed by news at the selection table as Jay Dahlhaus returns from a long-term injury having been named in the forward pocket. A shuffling of the magnets also looks likely, with co-captain Jesse Clark set for some midfield minutes as bottom-ager Cameron Fleeton grows in confidence across half-back, while Oliver Henry lines up beside him. While results have not gone their way and bottom place is cemented, the talent of the Falcons’ bottom-age pool is promising and should pose some problems for the competitive Tasmanian outfit. It looms as both sides’ best chance to snatch a late-season win, so expect them to be up for it.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday August 3, 2:00pm
Shepley Oval

A win against reigning premiers Dandenong when the two sides meet on Saturday would secure top spot for Eastern, with the home side coming in on a sizeable losing streak. Although the Stingrays’ six game skid makes this clash seem like an ideal chance for the Ranges to claim a straightforward victory, the return of Dandenong’s top-end talent has seen them perform more competitively over the last fortnight. On the other hand, Eastern’s six game winning run was snapped at the hands of Oakleigh last time out, but the Ranges remain the benchmark team at this stage. The Ranges’ style of play allows their strong forward line to feed off quick and repeated inside 50 entries, but returning All Australian Sam De Koning is sure to give them stiff opposition despite being named forward, while Bigoa Nyuon holds down a ruck spot in Bailey Schmidt‘s absence and Blake Kuipers remains at full back. It’s rare that a side’s tall versatility looks likely to overpower the Ranges, who will look to get on top in the midfield battle and take that out of the equation. Along with their core of consistent ball winners, the visitors are set to blood another Under-16 gun in the form of Jake Soligo, who joins fellow Vic Metro representative Tyler Sonsie in the 23. This looms as one of the games of the round, with Dandenong slowly getting on the up but Eastern always consistent. We know what to expect from the Ranges, it is a matter of how much of a challenge the Stingrays can mount.

GWV REBELS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Sunday August 4, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

Sunday’s sole fixture sees the two better placed bottom-four sides do battle, as GWV hosts Bendigo to see out the penultimate round. While Bendigo broke through for an impressive upset win over Northern last week, GWV fell just short of its own unlikely victory in a four-point loss to Calder despite leading at every other break. The Rebels will again have the benefit of being able to lean on its top-end representative talent, with Bendigo also looking to regain its guns at the pointy end of the season but competing well recently with its evenness across the board. One of the stories of the round comes from Bendigo’s team selection, with twins Cooper and Hugh Hamilton named to make their debuts together. Both represented Vic Country in the Under-16 national carnival with Cooper named All Australian, and the 15-year-olds should add a mix of spark and combativeness to the lineup. Their Country teammate Charlie Molan is also set to debut, lining up for the Rebels as 23rd man and joining Under 16 stars Ben Hobbs and Josh Rentsch in the team. The Rebels will need to bring a good team spread to the table if Bendigo provides the same willingness it did against Northern, with the focal points of Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin, and Toby Mahony in midfield leading the way. This should be a close one, with the sides really evenly matched.