Tag: paul tsapatolis

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 12

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

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 12 snapshot

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

By: Eli Duxson

Calder Cannons:

#8 Paul Pascu

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

#26 Matthew Gook

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

Sandringham Dragons:

#1 Harry Sheezel

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

#5 Lachlan Benton

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

#13 Luca Macnab

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

#52 Luke Nankervis

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

#53 Eren Soylemez

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

#61 Max Heath

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

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

By: Eli Duxson

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

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

#8 Zavier Maher

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

#51 Brayden George

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

Tasmania Devils:

#7 Will Splann

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

#12 Jye Menzie

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#17 Jackson Bowne

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

#19 Joel Trudgeon

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

#23 Anthony Caminiti

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

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

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

Geelong Falcons:

#1 Will Baker

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

#4 Gennaro Bove

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

#11 Cooper Whyte

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#6 Matthew Payne

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

#18 Nash Reynolds

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

#35 Liam Conway

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

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

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

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

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

#11 Cobi Maxted

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

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

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

#29 Cooper Smith

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

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

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

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

#9 Will Papley

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

#28 Zane Duursma

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

Eastern Ranges:

#3 Jake Arundell

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

#8 Nick Watson

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

#35 Max Hall

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

#58 Kai Windsor

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

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

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

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

#4 Jaxon Binns

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

#35 Finn Jakstas

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

#42 James Cahill

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

 #47 Henry Hustwaite

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

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Blake Drury 

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

#17 Braden Andrews

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

#33 Patrick Voss 

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

#57 George Wardlaw

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

#79 Jack O’Sullivan

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

Image Credit: Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 12

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

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

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

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 12

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

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

IN A SENTENCE:

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

TEAM STATS:

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

KEY PLAYERS:

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

DC MEDAL VOTES:

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

NEXT UP:

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

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

IN A SENTENCE:

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

TEAM STATS:

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

KEY PLAYERS:

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

DC MEDAL VOTES:

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

NEXT UP:

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

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

IN A SENTENCE:

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

TEAM STATS:

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

KEY PLAYERS:

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

DC MEDAL VOTES:

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

NEXT UP:

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

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

IN A SENTENCE:

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

TEAM STATS:

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

KEY PLAYERS:

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

DC MEDAL VOTES:

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

NEXT UP:

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

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

IN A SENTENCE:

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

TEAM STATS:

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

KEY PLAYERS:

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

DC MEDAL VOTES:

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

NEXT UP:

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

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

IN A SENTENCE:

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

TEAM STATS:

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

KEY PLAYERS:

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

DC MEDAL VOTES:

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

NEXT UP:

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

Image Credit: Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos

PREVIEW | NAB League guns return to stacked squads after representative action

AFTER fulfilling their representative obligations last week, a bunch of draft eligible guns are set to return to the NAB League in Round 11. Five of the weekend’s six fixtures are set to be played on Saturday, starting with a trio of intriguing matchups which bounce down at 1:00pm across the state.

Headlining the inclusions in those games is Western Bulldogs father-son prospect Sam Darcy, fresh off his six-goal haul in last week’s trials. Having previously started down back for Oakleigh, he has unsurprisingly been named at centre half-forward for the Chargers’ clash with Greater Western Victoria (GWV).

While Darcy is a massive in, the Chargers look like they will be without skipper Nick Daicos, who continues to be managed. Nonetheless, they should be buoyed by Lachlan Rankin‘s return among a raft of other Vic Metro Under 19 squad members. Tasmanian Sam Collins also gets an extended run in midfield after impressing there last time out.

GWV also has plenty of its own representative talent returning to the fold, led by first round prospect Ben Hobbs. The combative midfielder has played just three games this season amid injury troubles, but has served a reminded of his high-end talent over the last fortnight.

With Marcus Herbert, Sam Breuer, and returning Allies hopeful Nick Hodgson part of the primary centre bounce mix, Hobbs has been named to start at half-forward. The Rebels have quite the spine too, bookended by Josh Gibcus and powerhouse skipper Josh Rentsch.

A solid midfield battle is brewing between the Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons, who meet at Highgate Recreation Reserve. Mitch Knevitt, Noah Gribble, and Cooper Whyte slot straight into the Falcons’ engine room, while Zac Taylor and Josh Goater join the in-form Flynn Lakey in Calder’s midfield mix. The potential matchup of Calder forward Sam Paea and Geelong defender Oscar Morrison could also make for an exciting watch.

In the day’s other 1:00 start, Murray Bushrangers host Northern Knights in Wangaratta, with plenty of players to watch on each line. After lining up on Daicos a couple of weeks ago, Josh Ward‘s next assignment may come against Bushies top-ager Zavier Maher. The latter’s inclusion has squeezed Charlie Byrne to the wing, while Josh Rachele will start forward and Tom Brown returns in defence. Twin Northern talls Sam Grant and Anthony Caminiti also come in for their second games in the navy, black and white.

Sandringham has named a bumper midfield trio for its trip down to Tasmania on Saturday, with Josh Sinn, Campbell Chesser, and Finn Callaghan to attend the opening centre bounce. Chesser makes his long-awaited return from a knee injury, while Sinn did so last week in the NAB League, and Callaghan has been in red-hot form on both sides of midfield.

The competition for spots sees Charlie McKay shifted to half-back and Lachlan Benton starting on the bench, while debutant Lachlan Brooks may ply his trade as a small defender. St Kilda Next Generation Academy members Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens are also among the Dragons to watch. For the Devils, Sam Banks is a massive inclusion after missing a chunk of football through injury, as is Darcy Gardner who will look to crack a rather settled midfield once again.

After an impressive five-goal haul in Vic Country colours, Dandenong Stingrays midfielder-forward Judson Clarke would have been one of the first on Nick Cox‘s team sheet for his side’s clash with Eastern Ranges. The showcase Saturday night game also sees Will Bravo and Connor Macdonald return to the hosts’ midfield.

Jake Soligo will be the go-to ball winner for Eastern as Tyler Sonsie recovers from bone bruising, with a tough test ahead. Corey Preston has been named at half-back after impressing there with his ball use during last week’s trials, but intercept marking machine Tyreece Leiu remains absent as he nurses a corkie.

In Sunday’s standalone fixture, the Western Jets travel to take on Gippsland Power in Morwell. The hosts should get plenty of drive from their starting centeline of Max Walton, Will Papley, and Cooper Alger, while Jai Serong in a welcome inclusion up forward. Western welcomes back match-winning small forward Paul Curtis, with the likes of Liam Conway and Harrison White also handy additions to a midfield which will operate under Geelong-listed ruck Paul Tsapatolis.

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 10

THE Draft Central NAB League Round 10 Team of the Week has dropped, with 24 of the weekend’s best performed-players featuring in a competitive lineup. Player of the Week nominees Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) and Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges) co-captain the side from midfield after stellar displays in their respective regions’ victories.

Lowe’s Devils teammates feature heavily along the spine, which is bookended by over-ager Tyler McGinnis at full back and bottom-ager Tom McCallum at centre half-forward. Both players put in phenomenal aerial performances against Dandenong Stingrays on Sunday, while Lowe was in the thick of the midfield action.

Clarke is joined by teammate Mitchell Sruk (half-back), who helped the Ranges rebound out of defence in tough conditions out in Williamstown. Eastern is the only Round 10 victor with two nominees, while Tasmania, Northern, and Sandringham all contributed three members, and Bendigo Pioneers boast four.

At the other end of the scale, the Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers have just one representative apiece after their respective losses, but could have had a couple more.

The likes of Flynn Lakey, Josh Hamilton, Lachlan Benton, and Jack Hickman arguably produced best afield performances, though the battle for spots in the midfield meant the latter two talents were pushed out to the half-forward flanks. Charlie Byrne was in a similar boat, pushed out to a familiar wing post despite mostly playing on the inside.

A trio of father-son hopefuls also feature in the 24-man squad. Calder’s Dane Whitnall (son of Lance) lines up next to Jackson Archer (Glenn) on the half-back line, while another Carlton-tied player in Charlie McKay (Andrew) snuck in on the bench for his 30-disposal effort.

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 10

B: Ethan Warburton (MB), Tyler McGinnis (TD), Daniel Didomenicantonio (DS)
HB:
Mitchell Sruk (ER), Dane Whitnall (CC), Jackson Archer (NK)
C: Jack Evans (BP), Baynen Lowe (TD, c) Charlie Byrne (MB)
HF:
Jack Hickman (BP), Tom McCallum (TD), Lachlan Benton (SD)
F:
Jack Rossimel (NK), Felix Flockart, Jack Stewart (BP)
FOL: Paul Tsapatolis (WJ), Joshua Clarke (ER, vc), Flynn Lakey (CC)

INT: Sam Clohesy (CC), Sam Collins (OC), Josh Hamilton (NK), Billy Cootee (WJ), Anthony Depasquale (BP), Charlie McKay (SD)

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 10

NAB League regions had their depth tested over the weekend as Under 17 and 19 representative action took place over Saturday and Sunday, but a bunch of prospects were left to battle it out in the elite underage competition. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side across all five games, in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 10 snapshot

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 17.12 (114) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.5 (17)

By: Eli Duxson

Sandringham Dragons:

#5 Lachlan Benton

Was prolific all day for the Dragons playing through the midfield and notching up his best game for the season numbers-wise, finding the footy 26 times. Making the most of his extended minutes around the ball with teammates on Vic Metro duties, he showed a willingness to get to contests and be active at them. His speed out of stoppages was impressive with his tank allowing him to cover ground and find the ball uncontested (nine marks) as well under pressure. He kicked a set shot goal from just inside 50 at the start of the second quarter to round out arguably a best on ground performance.

#39 Matthew Harms

The lively debutant more than proved his worth with his two goal, 14 disposal, and five tackle effort out of half-forward. With the mullet flowing, his first impact on the game was a run-down tackle as he brought that physicality to every contest. He is not big in size, but he certainly did not play like it as he showed good work rate to push up the ground and help his midfielders, while also clearing space behind him for his big forwards to lead into. He kicked the Dragons’ second goal of the game with a tidy snap, while also kicking their second-last goal by getting on the end of a smooth chain of possessions.

#53 Eren Soylemez

The 19-year-old continued his impressive form, collecting his most disposals on the season (12), while bobbing up for his usual few shots a game. As a forward in the first half, he often pushed out of the arc to be the one delivering balls inside 50 or working back to crumb which often was not required with the clean and unaffected entries and marks. Speaking of marks, he showed he was capable overhead. His ball use by foot inside 50 was almost flawless as he found multiple targets with his four inside 50s. He was shifted back in the third quarter and continued to show his tidy ball use was necessary in the defensive half, although his defensive ability was hardly required and displayed. Moving forward to end the game, he managed two majors as he moved to 14 goals from six games.

#61 Max Heath

The St Kilda mid-season draftee performed at his new home in RSEA Park, showing why he is in the AFL system. Although at times he was caught out of position in the ruck either through unfavourable throw-ins/ball-ups or as he engaged body, he did look the most likely in the contest having led all comers with 23 hit outs on the day. He has a strong base and is prepared to create space for teammates when the ball hits the deck, throwing his weight around. Heath also proved a viable option up forward, being too tall for opposition defenders to effectively spoil, managing a goal from a strong mark.

#66 Charlie McKay

The father-son prospect enjoyed another big performance in his side’s dominant display, totalling 30 disposals to go with a goal, five inside 50s, and four tackles. He provided a lot of grunt on the inside as usual although his tackling numbers were just below his season average, keeping in mind Sandringham almost won by 100 points. His physicality around stoppages is not represented through stats as his pressure and strength inside were featured heavily. He capitalised on his side’s dominance around the ball, providing a running option moving forward, proving to be composed and tidy with his disposal.

#74 Felix Flockart

The 202cm over-ager kicked the most goals in the game with three, also his first goals of the season. A backup ruckman to Heath, he spent some unimpeded time up forward and managed the first goal of the game with a lead up mark and set shot from distance. His second goal came from a snap, with his last bookending the game after a big mark. He took five for the game but created many more contests with his leap and attack on the aerial ball, providing a solid option down the line for the Dragons. Flockart used his strength to his advantage in the ruck as he has 13 hit outs and was more than handy as a second option for Sandy.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#5 Sam Collins

Collins returned to the footy expected of him with 21 disposals, six marks, and five tackles in what was a tough outing for his Chargers. He was active early in the greasy conditions, burrowing in at stoppages while shooting balls inside 50 and being an option for defensive 50 exits. He showed good awareness in tight with a nice spin out of traffic a highlight, while also utilising strong and steady hips to stay upright in tackles. A good return to form despite the disappointing result.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

Another one of the few performers for Oakleigh who also did his best out of their engine room but was overrun in the end. Jenkins had 22 disposals and a goal to go with four tackles and three inside 50s and looked impressive on the inside, as well as in space. His third quarter was busy with his side down nine goals, as Jenkins helped the Chargers to their best quarter by clearing deep inside 50, while turning disputed balls into clear possession. Another spin and slip of a tackle was nice in tight as he had his highest disposal game for the season with his Metro teammates away.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 6.15 (51) def. CALDER CANNONS 6.1 (37)

By: Seb Bartholomeusz

Northern Knights:

#11 Jackson Archer 

Plying his trade across half-back, Archer had some good moments throughout the match. He had 18 disposals to go along with six marks and five tackles. While he doesn’t have the biggest frame, Archer still laid some strong tackles and competed well in one-on-one contests in defence. He also showed some good skills playing on the outside and sweeping across half-back. A couple skill errors were rectified by his second efforts and composure to execute under pressure. Composure was a highlight of his game, as Archer knew how to take his time, find targets, and importantly not succumb to pressure.

#17 Jackson Bowne 

Bowne had an impressive game, collecting 26 disposals and showing some good signs of what he may be capable of in the future. He often displayed good bursts of speed and explosiveness to break away from tackles and evade defenders. Standing at 174cm, Bowne doesn’t shy away from a contest and is the type of player that seems like he just loves that side of the game. He loves to take the game on, and he backs his ability to beat opponents. He kicked two behinds for the day but was always dangerous around stoppages and running towards goal.

#22 Jack Rossimel 

It could’ve been a big day for Rossimel after he put in a super impressive performance for a tall forward. His only downfall was his 0.3 on the scoreboard which didn’t reflect the game he had. He competed well and flew at every contest, he offered a strong aerial target for his team mates to kick to, and he provided some good leads to get on the end of a few marks, resulting in shots at goal. In addition to his marking abilities, Rossimel showcased his agility, getting down and dirty to lay some hard tackles, and following up his work with second and third efforts at the ball. He is a versatile forward and has already kicked multiple goals on more than one occasion. A big bag could be around the corner.

#55 Josh Hamilton 

Hamilton collected 29 disposals on the day and led all comers. He was ferocious with his hunt on the footy, and he worked hard from the first bounce to the final siren. He stood out with his speed and footwork to sidestep oncoming tacklers. Hamilton showed off his skills in some impressive passages, making use of the forward handball, and always following his play to be an option again. One passage of play in the third term would’ve caught the eye of many, after a desperate smother, Hamilton continued to fight for the ball and laid a tackle, before eventually getting a handball. He was always determined to win the ball, great game.

Calder Cannons:

#3 Jackson Cardillo 

Cardillo was a bit quiet in the first half, but he certainly got busy in the second, spending more time in the guts. He finished with 16 disposals, showing off his ability to stand up in a tackle and handball under pressure. He competes well in the middle, can break lines, and hit targets. He is a good size and very capable of competing in a one-one-one. He also read the play well in the second half as he begun to have a bigger influence. Cardillo is a big danger to opposition teams if he is at his peak for four quarters.

#4 Sam Clohesy 

Clohesy is a bit of a utility and has the attributes to play in multiple positions across the ground. He spent most of his time against the Knights across half-back and through the middle. A reasonably tall player at 189cm, Clohesy showed good endurance to cover large parts of the ground on his way to 23 touches. He played a bit like Jack Lukosius, the way he swept across half back with good skills, but also pushed up the ground and was a good user heading inside 50. He uses his size to stand up well in tackles and dispose of the ball in contested situations. He had a nice minute of play in the second term where he caught the ball while smothering an opposition kick, before getting it inside 50 quickly. Moments later he took an intercept mark. He added five marks and six tackles to his stat sheet in what was a strong four quarter effort.

#6 Flynn Lakey 

It was a sixth 20-plus disposal game for Lakey in as many matches, and this one was probably a best on ground performance. A total of 27 touches, paired with 11 tackles, the midfielder was relentless all day. He went in hard and found his own ball, read the ruck taps well and got clearances and put his teammates in space. He made a great play in the third quarter after going in for the hard ball, winning the free kick for a sling tackle, and then having the presence of mind to play on quickly and handball to a teammate who was able to kick a goal. He was courageous and kept competing until the final siren. For his small size he certainly gives everything a crack and is not afraid to put his body on the line. Great performance in a losing side.

#35 Dane Whitnall 

Whitnall plays as a key pillar down back for the Cannons. For his 193cm stature, he has quite good mobility and coupled with his ability to read the play, there were multiple times where he was able to leave his man to spoil or take a mark. One of his best attributes was holding structure, he was often set up well in defence and got into good positions to impact contests. Whitnall was also an option exiting defence. He took 11 marks for the game and had 18 disposals in what was a solid performance. A couple of times he was a bit sloppy with his disposal which led to re-entries into the Cannons defensive 50. With a bit more experience, the Carlton father-son hopeful can remove those errors from his game.

WESTERN JETS 5.8 (38) def. by EASTERN RANGES 9.11 (65)

By: Peter Williams

Western Jets:

#18 Nash Reynolds

Played an important role on the inside and was in-sync with ruck Paul Tsapatolis at the stoppages. Reynolds knew where to move, read the tap well and would chuck the ball on the boot to clear it. The end result was hit and miss, but he was getting it forward and giving his forwards first chance to get in front. He showed a fierce intent when tackling and quick hands, then received a 50m penalty and nailed the set shot from just inside 50 in the second term. He spread well and took a number of marks around the ground, including a contested grab on the wing in the final term, then not long after intercepted the ball at half-forward reading it well in flight.

#33 Billy Cootee

Started off with a double fend-off early in the game on the wing, and had a quick shot on goal under pressure which went to the goalsquare. Cootee worked hard to mark in the defensive 50 and then give off the quick handball to release a running teammate in transition. A mixture of hard and clean at ground level in the match, he had a few chances going forward, but missed a set shot in the second term and was forced to rush off the left in the third term on the wing. Overall he won his fair share of the ball and contributed strongly to the team’s cause.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

Each stoppage was like watching a clip on repeat. Tsapatolis’ body work and strength was too good and his ability to plant his leg then protect the drop of the ball to palm the pill wherever he wanted was a standout. Once he had his body positioning, he was unmovable, and his set play which was a tap behind the head to Reynolds a few times was good. He won a free kick inside 50 in the first term but it drifted in the wind, then clunk a strong contested mark at half-back. The clear dominant ruck on the ground, the AFL-listed Cats rookie is progressing nicely.

Eastern Ranges:

#4 Josh Clarke

A simply massive accumulating game from the Eastern skipper who did as he pleased around the ground. The amount of times he would receive the handball on the outside to favour his trusty left foot without too much notice was fortunate for him. Even when he was closed down, Clarke showed off his terrific strength and evasion combination to shrug the would-be tacklers, then execute by hand to a teammate on the outside. He showed great on-field leadership in all thirds of the ground, and used the ball well in the conditions. He always tried to take the game on, and slotted home a great goal from the top of 50 in the first term. He had a few more chances, with a couple of shots in the third term which just missed, then a shot in the fourth that was marked in the goalsquare. Able to play the game on his terms, Clarke was far and away the best on ground.

#9 Mitchell Sruk

Had a crack throughout the four quarters and after missing a few kicks early in the game, settled into the conditions and was able to use better composure in the latter three quarters. He worked hard and ran for second and third possessions out of defence and through the midfield, and was often tasked with the kickouts. One of the noticeable strengths of Sruk’s was his tacking technique, where he was able to pin the arms and roll his opponent rather than going into his back. He showed great strength in close to rip the ball way from an opponent and get it out, then won a lot of his touches on the outside by working hard to get to teammates to receive the handball.

#32 Flynn Kroeger

Kroeger found the ball all over the field, often winning it in defence, spending time in the midfield and then holding a firm line at the top of 50 for the rushed kick out. His handballing and vision under pressure was mostly solid. He did drop a mark going back with the flight in the second term, but showed good second effort to win it at ground level, though rushed his handball which missed the target. Kroeger showed some good bursts of speed at times and when inside would often chuck it on his boot, but his ability to gather at ground level around stoppages was impressive. Overall a solid performance with some hits and misses.

TASMANIA DEVILS 11.17 (83) def. DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.2 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Baynen Lowe

The busy small midfielder led all comers on Sunday, collecting 33 disposals to go with 10 inside 50s and nine tackles in a Draft Central Player of the Week performance. His happy knack of finding the ball and short bursts of speed allowed for plenty of distance-snatching plays in midfield, where Lowe would either receive or win the hard ball before bombing a long kick forward. He also provided fierce tackling intent, hunting the ball carrier and hitting hard whenever possible to force stoppages or spillages. While a lot of his early possessions were won in the clinches, Lowe went on to work into positions to be released before disposing forward. A lot of his kicks were rushed and sought distance rather than a direct target, which contributed to Lowe’s three behinds on the day.

#12 Jye Menzie

Menzie started brightly in his usual forward post, working high up the ground to complement his inside 50 threat. The top-ager’s running back towards goal resulted in his first major, a pretty straightforward finish over the back. He added another in the opening term, adjusting his run nicely to crumb off hands and dribble home with class. Menzie’s pressure and ability to keep his feet both proved outstanding in the early stages, before enduring a quiet patch. He popped back up after half time and converted a 45m set shot on the wrong side for a right footer, finishing with three goals but leaving a couple more out there with two behinds.

#20 Tyler McGinnis

As expected of the 2001-born over-ager, he often looked the most composed and polished player afield. He leaned on his greater level of experience to read the play well and clunk numerous intercept marks, judging the ball better than most in flight. He showed good courage when flying or cutting across opposition forwards, keeping his eyes on the ball rather than worrying about oncoming contact or his direct opponent. That same trait could be observed in his one-on-one wins, as McGinnis easily plucked the ball while his adversary scrambled to get body or a spoil in. His ball use was also clean, distributing well-hit kicks both forward and laterally throughout the game.

#37 Tom McCallum

McCallum marked just about everything that came his way at half-forward, snapping up 11 grabs in what was an outstanding aerial performance. He seemed to grow in confidence as the game wore on, initially contesting well before making good on most balls which came his way with clean clunks. That also translated to his kicking, as the bottom-ager gradually took on more risky inboard passes and pulled them off well. At 191cm, his reach was difficult for Dandenong’s defenders to combat and he often marked with good separation on the lead. McCallum also hit the scoreboard with two majors, both in the first half as reward for his overall effort.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#38 Max Gregory

Gregory was a really productive distributor out of defence, finishing with four rebound 50s among his 12 kicks and 20 disposals overall. The top-ager was composed across half-back, able to either run it out of his own area or clear his lines with efficiency by foot. Combined, those two features saw Gregory run out as one of the better rebounders on the day in a performance where he equalled his season-high tally for disposals.

#39 Daniel Didomenicantonio

Didomenicantonio was a leader among Dandenong’s group with the Stingray’s other leadership group members on Vic Country duties. He set up his side from the back, often tasked with kick-in duties and looking to gain meterage with his penetrative boot. He provided solid forward drive when released via hand, able to take on the green ball and quickly transition Dandenong into attack. One such instance saw him stream through the corridor during the second term, before spearing a ball to Jai Culley on the lead at half-forward. It was a solid game overall for the 17-year-old, who managed a team-high 26 disposals.

#44 Jai Culley

As part of the midfield-forward rotation, Culley arguably looked at his best in attack where he was one of the Stingrays’ most reliable targets. He managed to get his hands on the ball around the contest, but had more impact with his possessions in the front half. Culley converted well from his long-range set shots, but was a little less reliable when made to rush his disposals, getting less direction and penetration. Still, multiple goals and five marks made for a promising game from the 2003-born talent.

#50 Sam Frangalas

An emergency for Vic Country’s Under 17 fixture, Frangalas was one of the best bottom-agers afield. As part of the starting centre bounce combination, he looked to get on the move at stoppages and often got first hands to the ball. His repeat running and continued following of the play allowed him to chain possessions up the ground, though his disposal at full tilt was sometimes hit and miss. Frangalas found plenty of ball dropping back during term two, but his rotation was up forward, where he constantly got the ball and either wheeled to go long, or dished off quickly to a runner.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 15.14 (104) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 8.3 (51)

By: Nick Kitchell

Bendigo Pioneers:

#4 Jack Hickman

It was a superb day out for the Bendigo mid/forward as he put together a best on ground performance for the Pioneers. It felt as though Hickman was everywhere, utilising his massive tank to get to every contest and more often than not impact it, whether it was digging a handball out of the congestion or using his acceleration to break away and open up the game. He showed confidence in his kicking, backing himself take the game on with kicks into the corridor. An impressive feature of Hickman’s game is his running patterns and positioning, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time. He also exhibited his versatility in his stints down forward, lowering his eyes and delivering a composed pass to teammate who goaled. He then proceeded to reward himself for a hard day’s work, snapping a goal of his own on his left from directly in front in the dying minutes of the game. A trait that stood out whilst Hickman was in the midfield was his competitiveness, laying a strong tackle on the opposition ruckman and showing good aggression against a bigger-bodied Murray midfield.

#13 Jack Evans

Typically found along half-back, Evans spent the entirety of the game on the wing. After a slow start he eventually worked his way into the game, doing most of his damage forward of centre. Evans was always able to impact when the ball came his way, winning his one-on-ones and creating numerous scoring opportunities, including a quality goal off a step from 40 metres out. In what had the potential to be a tough day for an outside midfielder due to the scrappy nature of the game, Evans still managed to be one of the more involved Pioneers in Sunday’s contest on the way to racking up 23 disposals.

#15 Jack Stewart

With numerous absences from the Pioneers’ usual midfield group, Stewart stepped up in a big way. Sharing his time evenly between midfield and forward, he found a good balance between winning the ball on the inside and linking up on the outside, doing both with composure. His spread and work rate up and down the ground was notable, seemingly bobbing up at most contests. Stewart remained busy whilst forward, getting a great front and centre crumb off a marking contest and snapping on goal as well as taking an intercept mark in the forward 50, however put the set shot wide for a minor score. His cleanliness by hand stood out in addition to his willingness to take the short option by foot rather than blazing away.

#36 Will Sheehan

The pillar up forward for the Pioneers, Sheehan bagged a game-high three goals. The smooth moving forward got up and down the ground with ease, reaching as high up as centre wing and wheeling back deep inside forward 50 to contest aerially. Leading up at the ball carrier was where Sheehan looked most dangerous, creating separation from his opponent with ease. A moment that gave a good depiction of Sheehan’s character was when he marked 15 metres out on a slight angle and rather than going back and slotting an easy goal, he gave a handball over the top for a teammate to walk into an open goal, exemplifying his unselfishness. In addition to his offensive ability, Sheehan exhibited strong defensive traits, laying solid tackles as well as working hard to force a forward half turnover in the dying seconds of the game.

#39 Anthony Depasquale

For what Depasquale lacks in athleticism he makes up for in just about every other aspect of his game. Arguably the cleanest player on the ground, Depasquale was near perfect below his knees and created numerous clearances via handballs out of congestion, using his composure to weave his way out of stoppages. Whilst his blue-collar work on the inside cannot be commended enough, Depasquale’s work rate around the ground should also receive praise, finding pockets of space seemingly at will. When not on the ball he spent time forward, utilising his footy smarts to read the ball off the hands of forwards and constantly putting himself in the right position to get the footy. A couple contested marks rounded out Depasquale’s rather complete performance.

#58 Max Dow

A famous name among the Bendigo Pioneers region, Dow looked right at home in his NAB League debut. He adjusted well to the pace of the game from the outset, playing with composure and confidence. For an undersized body, Dow’s attack on the ball was impressive, earning a couple of free kicks thanks to his willingness to take contact from a bigger body. He was busy up forward, creating a turnover and shovelling a handball out to Jack Evans who goaled, as well as creating another scoring shot which sailed wide of the big sticks. In addition to distributing, Dow slotted two goals of his own on debut, one coming from a set shot after a free kick and the other on the run from 30m out. After having a strong first half, Dow was rewarded with some midfield time which was short lived before he was moved back forward.

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

On a day where his team was lacklustre, Byrne was far from it. A player who typically spends his time across half-back or on a wing, the Under 19 Allies squad member made the smoothest of transitions into the midfield, collecting a game-high 32 disposals. Byrne capitalised on his team’s dominance in the ruck, frequently getting first use and utilising his strength to break tackles and get hands free or occasionally backing in his leg speed to burst out of stoppages and send forward one of his game-high 11 inside 50s. When not in the midfield Byrne spent time as a high half-forward, demonstrating a willingness to work high up the ground and get involved in play as opposed to sitting in the forward 50 and waiting for play to come to him. Byrne made a few impressive plays by foot around the ground including some crafty short kicks to teammates, however there were times when he missed easy targets as well as blazing away to a contest rather than lowering his eyes to an open teammate.

#10 Jedd Longmire

A member of the Under 17 NSW-ACT squad, Longmire did plenty of good work in the forward half of the ground as well as being a solid contributor in his time in the midfield. Leading patterns and positioning were standout traits in Longmire’s game when forward, finding good lanes to lead up at the ball carrier as well as putting himself in the right position to be used when in his own forward 50. This smart positioning paid dividends when he placed himself in the perfect spot for a mark inside 50 and proceeded to go back and nail the set shot. In his limited time in the midfield, Longmire exhibited a strong inside game, embracing the physical nature of this contest whilst also being clean under pressure.

#31 Ethan Warburton

The Bushies’ defensive 50 was under attack all day long, and if not for Warburton the final margin would have been far greater. The 18-year-old stood tall all day against the Pioneers forwards, exhibiting some strong intercept marks, the first of which a specky where he flaunted his athletic traits. In addition to his intercepting ability, Warburton provided plenty of rebound for his team in the way of a game-high nine rebound 50s. Trusted with kick-ins, his penetrating left foot ignited numerous attacks for the Bushies which often resulted in forward 50 entries.

#37 Jake Hodgkin

It was a hard day at the office for Hodgkin, however the big-bodied defender did himself no disservice with his performance. You couldn’t ask for much more out of Hodgkin who was just about as reliable as they come in Sunday’s contest. With ball in hand Hodgkin was always composed, breaking tackles and getting his hands free when he got himself into trouble, always finding targets when given time. Defensively Hodgkin didn’t give his opponent an inch, tackling strongly as well as taking a strong intercept mark.

PREVIEW | NAB League rolls on amid representative action

THE NAB League regular season enters double digits this weekend, with Round 10 offering up five fixtures across Saturday and Sunday. While plenty of top end talent will be observed at the Under 19 Victorian trials and Country-Metro Under 17 clash, a solid core of talent remains among the elite talent pathway. Debutants continue to filter through, and more established talent will also get a chance to shine in greater roles.

A much different looking rematch kicks off the round’s action, as Sandringham and Oakleigh do battle at RSEA Park for the second time this season. Both sides are set to field sides with hosts of changes, as up to eight Dragons debutants enter the fold. Among them, Hugo Hall-Kahan has been a standout for Haileybury College, while Charlie Clarke‘s local form for Port Melbourne Colts sees him earn a NAB League berth.

The home side is also set to be bolstered by the return of co-captain Josh Sinn, who has shaken off a hamstring strain. Fellow first round prospect Campbell Chesser is said to be another week away. Sandringham’s midfield will feature the likes of Lachlan Benton and Charlie McKay, under the ruckmanship of St Kilda mid-season recruit Max Heath. Up either end, 20th-year players Felix Flockart and Jesse Castan fill out the spine.

Oakleigh’s midfield will also be full of experience, with top-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Sam Collins poised for a permanent run. Collins, a Tasmanian who debuted for Oakleigh last week, is also familiar to the half-back role and even started up forward in Round 9. Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy and Allies squad member Patrick Voss is another to watch for Oakleigh, as he continues his defensive apprenticeship.

Northern Knights take on Calder Cannons at Preston City Oval in a second all-metro clash for the day, with a number of club-aligned players set to feature across either team. Jackson Archer (son of Glenn) will again line up in the Knights’ defence, alongside Carlton Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Regan Uwandu. Blues fans can also look out for father-son eligible pair Tom Gleeson (Adrian) and Dane Whitnall (Lance) for Calder.

Essendon has a few potential academy and father-son prospects to monitor, all on the Cannons’ side. Bottom-ager NGA pair Carlos Egan and Reuben Rode get a crack at Under 19s level, while Josh Misiti returns to the fold after making his debut in Round 1 and featuring thrice. The likes of Sam Clohesy and Jack Rossimel are handy types who were overlooked for trial duties, while bottom-agers Caleb Burquest and Josh Hamilton should enjoy a few tussles in midfield.

Western Jets and Eastern Ranges round out Saturday’s action, locking horns at Downer Oval. Fresh off honours in the cricketing realm, Jets leader Billy Cootee will line up in midfield, potentially across from Ranges skipper Josh Clarke, who plays his second game for the season. Geelong-listed rookie Paul Tsapatolis is back in the ruck for the hosts, while Sahaf Ali is one to watch up forward for the Ranges after a promising debut last week.

Proceedings head down to Tasmania on Sunday as the Devils host Dandenong in Launceston, with the Stingrays hit hard by the weekend’s representative fixtures. Fresh off a 97-point triumph in Round 9, the visitors will be heavily rotated coming into this clash. The Devils’ side featured Allies squad members Baker Smith (centre half-back) and Jye Menzie (half-forward), the latter of which was best afield for his side last time out.

Seeing out the weekend’s play, Bendigo battles with Murray in Echuca, making for a replay of their Round 7 meeting. The Pioneers are set to unleash Max Dow, the third brother to enter through the NAB League pathway. NSW-ACT Under 17 squad members Jason Gillbee and Jedd Longmire will line up on opposite sides, while solid draft eligible players also remain.

Budding Allies representatives Charlie Byrne, Ryan Eyers, Cameron McLeod, and Toby Murray will all feature for the Bushrangers, while Essendon VFL-experienced pair Jack Hickman and Jack Evans should bolster Bendigo on either side of midfield.

Jack Hickman in action for Essendon VFL | Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Country regions Geelong, Gippsland, and Greater Western Victoria all have byes this round.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 4

THE 2021 NAB League season resumed over the weekend after a month-long hiatus, with a handful of Northern Academies entering the fray and making for a bumper nine-game weekend. It meant budding AFL Draft prospects from around the nation were on full show, with some staking their claims for mid-season draft honours. Check out the top performers from each fixture in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 4 snapshot

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. WESTERN JETS

By: Declan Reeve

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes 

A knock-on effect of the outs that Sandringham had saw Howes play majority of the game on the wing, where his speed, skill and ball winning were well highlighted in what was his most prolific performance of the season to date. As a winger, he still managed to find ways to impact on the inside with his quick and clean hands at ground level, as well as to teammates, tearing up the Western midfield at various points in the game. His positioning and ability to time his run led to some highlight moments, winning crucial clearances in the early stages of the game while also gathering intercept marks around the ground, with one leading to the first goal of the game. 

#17 Finn Callaghan

With some starting midfielders out due to injury or VFL selection, Callaghan got the chance to shine with a move inside, playing the game out as a major ball winner for the Dragons. What stood out most with Callaghan’s game, was his stoppage craft and clearance winning in tight space, demonstrating this best at stoppages around the ground where he’d read the ball off the rucks hands, and then burst free from opponents and look to switch the play across ground with his strong kicking. Able to balance his disposal well, Callaghan also looked to get his defenders involved in offensive play, encouraging teammates to run past and receive the handball to then kick long. When Sandringham were looking to get back into the game in the fourth quarter Callaghan’s defensive workrate shone, even taking a kick in late, then running up and winning the clearance that resulted from the kick to the wing.

#42 Luke Cleary

Continued to do the things he does well, playing to his strengths with his run from behind setting up plenty of opportunities, linking up well with teammates Callaghan and Howes with his handball receive work when he pushed up the ground. Cleary positioned himself really well in the backline, especially after the initial first two goals from Western in the third quarter, to be one of the first players to the ball every time it entered defensive 50, looking to handball it to a teammate out the back. 

#52 Luke Nankervis

Splitting his time between the forward line and midfield, Nankervis Stood out with his ability to keep his hands free through traffic, or when being tackled, to get a handball off to a teammate and keep Sandringham moving with the ball. Bringing a creative spark around goals in the second half, he kicked two highlight reel worthy goals, using the wind to his advantage to get them from tricky spots along the boundary. When he was given his opportunity on the inside he looked good, being clean below his knees and maintaining that cleanliness through traffic.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Always capable of having an impact if given even the smallest of opportunities, Soylemez continued his goal kicking ways with 3 goals in the tight contest, kicking 2 of them in the second quarter to give Sandringham a lead heading into half time. He was able to find the goals from almost anywhere when in the forward 50, with a couple of shots falling just short or being touched, with a little refining on finishing, Soylemez could’ve had 5 or 6. 

#66 Charlie McKay

With Hipwell selected for Sandringham VFL, his spot as the major contested ball winner for Sandringham opened up for McKay who has been forced into a defensive role prior to this game. Not looking to waste his opportunity, Mckay impressed with his constant attack on the ball and opponent around stoppages, leading to a game high 37 disposals and playing a big part in Sandringham’s attempt to claw back the lead in the fourth quarter. Perhaps lacked some penetration with his skills at times, but looked to move the ball to the right spots.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

Perhaps Western’s most consistent player throughout the day, White was a constant driver from the midfield, looking to create dangerous plays around stoppages with his speed and agility. This agility was shown throughout the day, with plays where he’d get through packs with the ball, avoiding tackles, a pretty common occurrence through the game. His use by foot was particularly impressive as well, able to follow up that dancing through packs with pinpoint kicks to targets inside 50. Got himself two goals in the scoring frenzy third term, with the first being the most impressive as a snap under pressure from about 50 out.

#26 Cody Raak

Returning from the NAB League Break with added VFL experience, the mid-season draft prospect had a solid performance as a composed figure in the Western defence. He was rarely caught behind his opponents, but managed to close down the distance well and spoil. He used the ball exceptionally well by foot, especially in the defensive half, where he’d look to switch the play or slow it down to assess his options. As usual, he intercepted well throughout the game, pushing off opponents, especially in the last quarter, to impact the ball further up the ground and keep the pressure on.

#32 Paul Curtis

Started the game fairly quiet as the ball was around the Sandringham forward half for majority of it, still managing to get a couple of tackles inside 50 when it came down. It was the third quarter in particular where the Jets piled on 8 goals, with Curtis putting in 4 of those for his side. Whilst not a tall player, he played as a lead up target, with his leading patterns near perfect, getting his first two goals by leading well to smart spots, where his midfielders could put it easily in front of him from the centre clearances. 

#35 Liam Conway

Was the main player in the Western midfield to step up in the second half, with his work around the ground crucial to Western’s massive third quarter. What was most evident, was how well he uses his burst around stoppages to get away from opponents, where with that separation he steadies himself well and uses the ball beautifully by foot, setting up the first goal of the third quarter with the first clearance, pinpointing the kick to teammate Curtis. He was also a threat aerially, with his leap and ability to hold the ball well making it hard for anyone to impact his marking without giving away a free kick. When he wasn’t the target of a kick, he played a crumbing role well at ground level around contests, often at the fall of the ball off hands and then able to take it cleanly.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

Comfortably the most dominant ruck in the game, Tsapatolis took full advantage in the absence of Jacob Edwards and Max Heath, the main Sandringham rucks, who were out with school football commitments. What was most impressive for Tsapatolis was how easily he found front position in the ruck contests to win taps relatively uncontested, taking full advantage of the height and size difference of his opponents. After Sandringham had started to read his taps he switched on and started to grab the ball from the ruck and bomb it long forward.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY

By: Liam Badkin

Northern Knights:

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Fantastic off half back, particularly in the first half when the Knights had most of the footy. His pace was damaging, as he sliced through the opposition with his inboard running, and was able to find a target by foot. For his size at 183cm, he showed his fantastic capability above his head, taking a nice intercept mark in the second quarter, and provided countless spoils that thwarted Brisbane attacks. He was closely checked in the second half, as the opposition realised how much damage he was capable of causing, but overall he combined very well with his fellow backmen, and was probably his side’s strongest performers on the day. Disappointingly, finished the game with an injured neck after smashing in hard to a contest, and had to be helped off.

#10 Ben De Bolfo

Much like Wilmot, was damaging off half back, combining with teammates to clear the ball out of defensive 50 with ease. Has a talent for reading the crumb off the marking contest, consistently reading the drop of the ball and finding a teammate to rebound the ball out of Brisbane’s forward line. Skills by foot and hand were solid all day, and his defensive work was fantastic too. Combined well with Wilmot on multiple occasions in the first half when the Knights half back line was the most damaging weapon in their arsenal.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

The Knights captain led by example in a masterful display through the midfield. You will struggle to find a better set of hands in the contest, as he was rarely wrapped up, instead using his strength to keep his arms free and find a teammate to clear the contest. From the very first bounce, he was prominent in and around the contest, never fearful of attacking the ball. His tackling pressure was immensely physical too, and his knack for timing his tackles perfectly to avoid giving away a free kick. Floated forward to kick a goal in the third quarter, and nearly booted two in a row, but his set shot faded right. Was clearly best on ground for the day, leading his side to a strong victory.

#26 Dominic Akuei

A strong defensive performance from the 192cm backman, as he delivered a performance that will give him confidence moving forward. Had a desire to create run from the backline, constantly looking to spread from the backline when his side gained possession. Kept his opponents quiet and wasn’t afraid to get in the face of his opponents. He was even thrown into the ruck in the last quarter and displayed his athletic capabilities. Had his moment of the day in the last term with a brilliant goal saving run down. A promising outing, and plenty to build on in future matches.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Worked his way into the game strongly after a quiet first term. A moment that seemed to kickstart his game came in the second term, when he won a contest on the wing, handballed to a teammate, ran hard to receive it back, before delivering a lace-out pass to a teammate inside 50. After this, he was finding himself in all the right positions, and proved hard to tackle on more than one occasion. Kept his players accountable and hurt them with his two-way running.

Lions Academy:

#4 Shatna Cashen-Harris

Looked capable of breaking the game open at stages, with his pace around the ball evident, and his pressure constantly making the opposition nervous. Quietened off after a bright first quarter, but still showed promising signs in glimpses throughout the match. Spent time rotating up forward and through the midfield, where he injected some desperately needed energy.

#16 Lochlan Harrop

Was impressive for the Lions on a tough day at the office. Started the match coming off the bench straight into the midfield, before moving to the backline where he truly excelled. Can read the ball outstandingly well, and while he didn’t mark them all, his willingness to launch himself at the Knights’ inside 50 delivery stopped plenty of scores and displayed tremendous courage. Missed a couple of targets by foot, but overall a gutsy performance that would have inspired his teammates.

#24 Connor Bulley

Was solid throughout the day, as he battled hard to defend the Knights’ attacks. Found himself on the losing side of a few contests, with near perfect delivery to his opponents, but never dropped his head. Was much better in the third quarter, when his side put themselves in the contest. Floated forward to boot a goal in the third term, and will be better for the experience.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

Geelong Falcons:

#4 Gennaro Bove

Played a four-quarter effort with his usual impact up forward, getting involved further up the ground when the Falcons were struggling to get it forward. He kicked his first goal in the opening minute of the second term from a set shot, and whilst his second did not come until the final quarter thanks to some clever crumbing, he still worked hard across the ground, set up another goal to Mitch Knevitt and took some strong grabs for a smaller player.

#11 Cooper Whyte

Had some eye-catching plays through the midfield and had more of an impact than his stats might suggest. Whilst he had lower numbers compared to some others in the game, he showed off a sweet sidestep, a front-on fend-off and a clean set of hands in close when being tackled. At times he might do too much, but he tried to create, which did pay off as well.

#12 Noah Gribble

Brought his own football to the game with 14 more disposals than anyone else on his team. Personified four quarters and kept working hard, and whilst at times his field kicking still let him down, his work rate and spread was what helped him stand out. He has a thumping long boot that can travel 50m, and he hit the scoreboard early in the second term with a great running goal after going from the wing to just inside 50. His defensive pressure and second efforts, as emphasised by his great smother on the wing 17 minutes into the fourth term was indicative of his effort.

#16 Charlie Ham

Found plenty of the ball working up and down the ground, and whilst he might have had more impactful performances before, got back into it after a few weeks off pretty well. A kick-first player, Ham was able to get back and help his defence, then drive it forward to put it to his teammates advantages when in transition, to finish with the second most touches on his team.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

A mixed performance where his best was unbelievable, but he had patches where he needed to get more involved. His ability to clunk contested marks, and athletically take control was really impressive, and he was able to play both through the midfield and up forward. He did cop a knock which limited him somewhat forward, but he still kicked a goal and did some nice things across the board.

#32 Noah Gadsby

It was great to see Gadsby back after a long-term injury, with the talent really standing out in the forward half. He slotted two goals, which included one from hard running and popping it through the goalsquare, then a second major off a step to slot it home early in the second quarter. In the same term he produced a well done run-down tackle at half-back, spreading well to the wings and covering the whole ground impressively.

GIANTS Academy:

#1 Harry Grintell

Ended up being the match-winner with three last quarter goals to help his side over the line. Spending time in the midfield then going forward to be that damaging player close to goal, Grintell really came alive in the final term after a quiet game to-date. His first goal came from a free kick nine minutes in, then responded to the Falcons’ major with a quick-fire goal two minutes later, then kicked the winning goal late in the game after running hard towards a bouncing ball, getting boot to ball in a flash to snap it through.

#19 Maximus Monaghan

Was arguably the GIANTS’ most eye-catching midfielder, working well at the stoppages and even sliding in to take a mark in the second term and converting the set shot. He applied plenty of defensive pressure and showed some nice moves out of congestion with clever sidestepping. He was able to adjust his kick mid-run which was impressive and overall had an impact for his team.

#21 Fraser Kelly

Kicked a couple of goals from 12 touches and only the two kicks. He kicked a very clever goal from 50m that caught the eye and bounced through well, then took a strong contested grab in the fourth term and nailed the set shot from 15m out. One moment he had that really caught the eye was his ability to win the ball at the coal face, and hold off delivering the handball until the second option which he did well to execute perfectly.

#24 Sam Frost

His defensive work was really impressive, gobbling up anything that came his way and then offered himself up as a rebounding option. His disposal at times was a concern, turning over a number of touches including one not under pressure. However his work without the ball and an ability to rebound out of the back 50 was a real highlight, as Frost picked up 12 rebounds – nine more than any other player on his team and served as an anchor back there.

#30 Brad Rauter

Another defender who had some great defensive work but just needed to sharpen his disposal, Rauter stood up well against pressure and was able to often win contests against multiple opponents. He laid a great tackle after trapping the ball in against an opponent – and beating another – to win a free kick, but unfortunately turned over the kick. He took some good marks and had some solid moments as a whole.

#31 Josh Green

Constantly involved inside 50 and always looked liked a damaging forward, he kicked an early major for the GIANTS dribbling one home from the behind post. He kicked his second in the third term with a snap around his body to cut the deficit to five points at that stage. He was always lively, pushing up and down the ground and racking up some big numbers rotating through the midfield and laying some big tackles. Possibly the more impressive aspect was his ability to get up the ground then get it inside 50.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

One of a few promising talls afield, Murray seemed to grow in confidence as the game wore on and showcased his upside rotating through the ruck and forwardline. He started in attack and was able to get separation on the lead while presenting out, with his reach also coming in handy while attempting overhead marks. While he may have some filling out to do to clunk those grabs more consistently and wrestle in the ruck, Murray’s athleticism and ability to adapt by using said trait was terrific to watch. One of his best moments was a holding the ball tackle at centre half-forward, which he used to hit up Cameron McLeod inside 50.

#5 Paddy Parnell

A run-and-gun type of rebounder out of defence, Parnell seemed to be in perpetual forward motion throughout his latest outing. There isn’t much of him, but the top-ager made an impact with his aggressive running patterns and timing when searching for handball receives. Tasked with taking the kick-outs, Parnell would often play on and weave through holes in the zone, getting as far as 40 meters at times before delivering by foot, or chaining by hand. While it sometimes invited unnecessary pressure, he would often opt to kick short so he could run on and get the hand off – such instances saw him move the ball across the defensive 50 arc, or all the way through the corridor. Parnell’s clean kicking skills were also a feature, and he used them to launch a nice goal on the fly in term two.

#8 Zavier Maher

In his return NAB League outing, the top-age mid-season draft candidate would have done his chances no harm. Maher found plenty of the ball in his usual midfield post, proving a strong body at the stoppages and dropping back well during the second half to accumulate a wealth of possessions. A couple of knocks which saw him overlooked at last year’s draft were his kicking skills and ground level cleanliness, which he still looks to be working on. He bombed out of the contest and sent forward a few floaters on the move, but looked clean by hand at the stoppages when fresh. His upside is clear to see, with great power and an explosive turn of speed allowing him to drive Murray forward out of congestion. Maher showed good smarts when using his body, and if he can continue to add polish to his game and impact away from the contest, will be very hard to deny at the next level.

#24 Cameron McLeod

Another promising top-age prospect, McLeod played a key hand in Murray’s win by allowing his side to apply sustained scoreboard pressure. The 19-year-old presented beautifully high up the ground, where he would mark and quickly move the ball on with terrific skills for his size. Most things he did on Saturday were clean, able to clunk the ball without much fuss and then keep the chain going smoothly by foot. The first of McLeod’s four majors came in the second term, where he waited down inside 50 and latched onto the bouncing ball before finishing well. He showed similar ground level nous in the following period for goal number two, dropping a mark but recovering quickly before snapping home once more. He booted two more well-struck goals, both coming from range with one being a set shot. Arguably his best outing to date.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Changes in the Oakleigh side saw Dib utilised almost permanently through midfield, where his physicality, turn of speed, and pressure game combined well. He looked to have brought in a good deal of confidence having gained VFL experience during the break, but made some costly skill errors coming away from the contest at full tilt. As the game wore on, he seemed to actively take more time before disposing of the ball, getting the legs pumping and choosing the right option. Dib also spent a bit of time up forward but was a midfield mainstay, setting a good tone at the stoppages and welcoming a bit of niggle.

#3 Nick Daicos

The Chargers skipper missed out on a berth with Collingwood’s VFL side having been managed over the break, but had the ball on a string in his return to action. His game-high 44 disposals were accumulated on the back of an unbelievably sound understanding of the game, which saw Daicos anticipate exactly where his next possession would come. He stayed active at the stoppages, looking to push off his man and burst through the contest to work a viable exit from congestion. Later in the game, he put more of a defensive hat on by anchoring the stoppages and opting against streaming to the front. A team-first kind of leader, he showed clear intent to bring his teammates into the game and that is why his numbers were so inflated, as he also worked to demand the ball back and push into dangerous areas. He won and received the ball in good spots, but did a lot of early work under pressure which limited the impact of his disposals – particularly by foot. While that was the case, you have to marvel at Daicos’ ability to consistently look a class above the Under 19 level.

#4 Sam Tucker

Another top-ager who made his first appearance in 2021, Tucker was a prominent forward figure.He got amongst the action early too, boosting his confidence with consecutive first term goals – both from long range. Tucker’s presentation up to the forward 50 arc allowed him to showcase his clean hands at ground level, operating in front position and making good of whatever kind of delivery came his way by running through the line of the ball, collecting, and disposing. He missed a few more chances to find the goals throughout the game, but overall made for a steady return.

#64 Ned Moyle

A true ruckman, Moyle again proved why he is one to watch at the upcoming mid-season draft. He looked to impose himself on the contest by using his strength against less mature opponents, nudging them under the ball and grabbing clearance after clearance. While some of his kicks under pressure can be scrubbers with little penetration, Moyle got better length on his disposals in this outing and also did well to dish by hand when appropriate. His work around the ground is also improving, but adjusting against more athletic rucks who won’t engage and can outmanoeuvre him will be the bigman’s next big test. Elsewhere, he followed up well and tackled hard, while also doing the one-percenters like shepherding to release his midfielders.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY

By: Liam Badkin

Dandenong Stingrays:

#8 Bayleigh Welsh

The Stingrays captain provided some of his signature run against the Suns. He frequently burst from deep in the backline to provide some pace for his side that proved crucial in the end. His kicking skills are to be marvelled at, as he never tried to do too much with the ball, just enough to hit a target and keep the ball in his side’s possession. Kept his opponents accountable playing on the likes of Shaye Walsh for the majority of the contest. His leadership was also fantastic as he marshalled the troops from half back.

#14 Will Bravo

Was busy throughout the midfield for the entire contest as he battled for the ball on the inside of the contest and was used as an outlet on plenty of occasions. Was willing to run both ways, as he worked hard into defence to clear the ball. Gathered a crucial ball in the second term and was able to clear the ball from the contest despite the pressure from Gold Coast forward Malachi Dumas. Displayed incredible endurance as he pushed from contest to contest, and worked hard for the entire game.

#17 Bryce Milford

The talented utility was used in the backline throughout the contest, as the Dandenong coaches attempted to take away Gold Coast’s height advantage up forward. Didn’t get too much of the ball, but certainly nullified the impact of his opponent, being matched up on players such as Will Bella at times. Moved to a wing where he displayed his ability to play multiple positions, where he used his height and endurance to create some space. His 195cm height gives him a significant advantage on his opponents on the wing and looked more settled out there.

#22 Mac Andrew

The Melbourne Next Generation Talent displayed his enormous potential in the contest as he proved to consistently prove a threat wherever he was placed. Starting the game up forward, Andrew launched at everything, showcasing his tremendous athletic ability. While he didn’t clunk any marks, he was vital in bringing the ball to ground for his smaller teammates. He later moved into the ruck, where he displayed outstanding leaping ability, but his follow up work was just as impressive. Andrew didn’t let his 200cm height prevent him from battling hard on the ground to fight for the ball. A player with no ceiling and one to keep an eye on.

SUNS Academy:

#4 Austin Harris

The AFL Academy member certainly lived up to the hype whenever he got the ball, using his magnificent foot skills to clear the ball from defensive 50, or find a teammate up the field. Splitting his time between half back and the wing, Harris stood out in both lines. When he was in the backline, he played as loose man at times, which is logical given his lethalness when the ball is in his hands. He took plenty of kickouts too, which showcased his booming boot that cleared the ball from the Stingray forward line. Delivered a bullet pass to Bella in the second term, but the forward couldn’t convert. Continues to impress.

#17 Bodhi Uwland

Was terrific in the backline, with an ability to compete in the air, and then mesmerise opponents when the ball was on the ground. Had an outstanding second term, as he appeared to pop up everywhere for the Suns, saving countless scores with his ability to read the play. Had serious composure when the ball was in his hands, and was able to weave his way through traffic despite the manic Dandenong pressure. Looked settled down back and likely impressed coaches with his performance.

#35 Will Bella

The talented big man worked his way into the game, despite close checking from the opposition. The delivery to him was scrappy at times, but he never stopped competing, and was able to draw a few free kicks, despite being out positioned in the marking contest. Booted Gold Coast’s first with an absolute ripper, as he gathered the ball at the point post, and snapped around his body from a tight angle to give his team some desperately needed spark. Didn’t spend too much time in the ruck, and was stationed around the 50m arc most of the time, allowing Hamann to play one out deep in the forward line.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power:

#5 Chance Doultree

Had the ball on a string all day for the Power and never stopped trying over four quarters, although his efficiency throughout the contest could lift as he was often forced into rushing or bombing long. He was able to have an influence on the game with two goals, including a thumping kick after a sidestep from 50m to nail a long-range goal. His penetrating kick was able to get his team out of trouble on a number of occasions, but just needed more composure at times to have the full effect. Could not fault his effort on the day though, as always.

#28 Zane Duursma

The excitement machine up forward, Duursma certainly had a memorable debut with three goals to his named. Playing as that permanent forward, Duursma kicked his first eight and a half minutes into the second term with a clever snap off the right boot inside 50. His net two came from set shots in the third term, the first from a mark and then the second from a push in the back. He pulled down a lovely contested grab in the fourth term on the wing, and looked the most damaging every time he went near it.

#37 Max Walton

While he has typically looked more suited to defence, Walton was able to expand his repertoire to include forward and through the midfield. He ran hard, was able to use the ball well under pressure and read the ball well in flight. He took a nice grab on the wing at one stage, chipped quickly to the boundary line playing on, ran hard and marked 60m out, but was pushed late so got a 50m penalty and nailed the set shot goal.

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

A real lively type in the forward half, Rogers was the dynamic link between midfield and forward, setting up a number of goal-scoring opportunities. He finished the game with a goal himself, but it was his work in transition getting it inside 50, and working hard around the ground that stood out, and he moved quickly in little bursts, finding space to mark and then keep it moving.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another one who worked hard through the midfield then drifted forward to hit the scoreboard with two majors, Roseby found plenty of the ball in the win. He was able to extract it from the contest and get it going forward inside 50, then kicked a couple of goals as one of a number of midfielders who went forward and converted important shots.

#10 Jordan Endemann

Had a great day up forward with three majors from 19 disposals and four marks. His first goal came from point-blank range, but his next one showed just what he was capable off, winning it at speed, grabbing it cleanly off the burst and a half-volley pickup, turning around and snapping for a major late in the second term. He was a dangerous forward and did all his work in the first half when his team was down moreso than adding cheapies at the end, which was impressive.

#26 Angus Anderson

Really stood out for mine as a prominent midfielder with high-level competitiveness and an ability to work through traffic. He made the odd mistake, but as a whole he showed off a penetrating kick and looked lively through the midfield, accumulating the ball at will and finishing with a goal for his troubles. A lot of his touches were in close, and he was the one shovelling it out to teammates, or bursting away, drawing an opponent and handballing to a teammate on the outside.

#28 Luke Giacometti

One to keep an eye on in 2021, Giacometti showed good footy IQ and an ability to read the ball well in flight coming off half-back. He tried to create from defence and move the ball in transition, and whilst he would make the odd mistake, he certainly knew how to find it and then keep it moving going forward. A player with upside for the future.

CALDER CANNONS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

Employed in a couple of different roles after his Young Guns outing, Clohesy started forward and was also sighted up on the wing this time out. He registered the second score of the match with a quick snap close to goal and hit the post in term three, making up a couple of Calder’s 20-plus minor scores. The top-ager found it difficult to stay involved at times, but timed his runs well to be a handball receive option on the outer, and adjusted well overall. One of his best moments came in the final quarter, as he propped and made a brilliant decision to kick inboard from the wing. With nothing on down the line, the poise to look and deliver into the corridor opened up the play for Calder.

#5 Zac Taylor

Arguably the best player afield, Taylor came up clutch with some wonderful exhibitions of skill and smarts at crucial junctures in the match. He started up forward and was a busy member of the attack, looking to get the ball on the move and working over his opponents to find space inside 50. He rotated into midfield during term two, where he got his hands on the ball more and showed terrific decision making on the uptake. His foot skills going inside 50 were superb, particularly during the final term where he made all the right choices and hit teammates on the lead. He was one who really stood up when it mattered and helped drag Calder over the line.

#8 Paul Pascu

This kid is one to watch for the future. Having participated in the Under 17 carnival and trialled for Vic Metro, Pascu slotted into the Cannons’ engine room and looked right up to the level. He looks a hardened ball winner who competes well and is pretty slick in possession, with a couple of plays seeing him fend off when exiting congestion or breaking forward with aggression. He capped his day with a clutch goal on the run during the final term, showing he is not afraid of the big moment.

#18 Jack Newitt

This was one of Newitt’s better outings for the Cannons this year, with his best traits coming to the fore more consistently. Stationed out on the wing, he was able to move forward dangerously and competed well in the air, showcasing his sticky hands and solid leap. When allowed more minutes inside 50, he presented on the lead and was found on multiple occasions, allowing for chances to add to his first term goal. He would eventually do so in the final quarter via a set shot, but did most of his good work earlier with clean hands and skills on display.

#25 Josh Goater

Goater was one of the bigger bodies in midfield, as per usual, and got to work by getting first hands on the ball at stoppages. His size and power proved difficult for the Bendigo midfielders to combat, as he slipped out of would-be tackles and was constantly able to get a disposal away. While some kicks were rushed, Goater was clean by hand and improved in that facet as the game wore on. His closing speed and pressure on the ball carrier were prominent during term three, before he was moved out onto the wing in the latter stages.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#11 Cobi Maxted

Arguably Bendigo’s best and most important player on the day, Maxted was made to quickly adjust to a variety of roles on the fly and did so with aplomb. He started forward and was rotated into the ruck, where he competed well despite being quite undersized. The top-ager was also used as a rover at the centre bounces, showcasing his versatile range and sound movement. He did most of his best work up forward though, booting three goals and taking eight marks. All three of those majors came at important points of the match; scoring against the run of play, in red time, and during the final term with what should have been the sealer. His set shot motion was quite fluent and made for good viewing, with plenty to like about Maxted’s overall game.

#13 Jack Evans

A leader of this Bendigo side from the back, Evans was kept busy in defence and had to lean on his strengths to help Bendigo stay alive. Much of his work was rinse and repeat, as Evans looked to distribute by foot and went long on many occasions. He was tasked with the kick-ins and often breached the defensive 50 arc with those responsibilities, before later taking on more attacking and varied options as Calder caught onto his tendencies. Overall, it was a solid return for Evans, who was made to absorb a heap of pressure in the backline.

#23 Xavier Mitchell

The top-ager was level as Bendigo’s top rebounder for the day, employed deep in defence and doing his best work there. He was a productive driver of the ball out of danger zones, able to use his long peg to gain good meterage coming away from his own scoring end. Mitchell was able to compete aerially but also did some solid work mopping up at ground level, sweeping cleanly under pressure and being kept busy during the second and third terms in particular. With Calder holding so much territory throughout the game, he played an important role.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER ACADEMY

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#2 Darcy Gardner

The leading ball winner on the day, Gardner caught the eye with slick work at the stoppages and agile spins out of trouble. His decision making while exiting congestion was sound, able to zip away and hit targets further afield. He looked deceptively strong for his size and was very difficult to wrap up, proving a slippery mover around would-be tacklers and making some look silly. He could not quite hit the scoreboard in this clash, putting wide a set shot after the half time siren.

#5 Oliver Sanders

Another of the relatively small Tasmanian midfielders, Sanders continued his good form to date with a productive outing in the engine room. He was able to cleanly extract or receive at the contest, before getting the legs pumping and looking to deliver into attack by foot. While he was able to snatch meterage in those plays, Sanders also showcased a sound short-range game and generated some really positive momentum for his side. He was in the wars a bit too, copping a knock during the third term but running out the game.

#9 Jonty McIvor

McIvor may not have had a wealth of possessions, but made them count and broke the game open in term two for his side. Playing his first game for the season, the opportunistic forward was first sighted closing in for an intercept mark in attacking 50, which he used to slot his first goal. He looked strong on the lead and used that method to boot goal number two, before making it three in quick succession by snapping up a forward 50 spillage first and finishing well on the left. McIvor bagged a fourth in term three, converting from the tightest on angles right on the siren.

#29 Dom White

Difficult to miss out on the field, White impacted well on the outer and worked hard to find plenty of the ball. He came off the line hard to receive from centre bounces and go inside 50, getting good separation in quick time from his direct opponent. That also became a factor in general play, as White worked over his opponent by running forward aggressively to become a free option in the front half. His ball use was generally sound too, and he even found the big sticks with a goal in the second quarter, running in over the back.

NT Thunder Academy:

#4 Beau Tedcastle

Tedcastle came into the game as one of the NT’s most highly fancied youngsters, and he didn’t disappoint with some slick work up forward. He snared the first goal of the game after about five minutes, using his instinct and foot speed to sneak the ball home from close range. The St Mary’s product also presented well as a target inside 50, playing slightly above his size and thriving on the chaos footy his side attempted to enforce. He made good on another quick entry to boot goal number two in the third quarter, before providing pressure around the ball during his move into midfield in the next period. Tedcastle can zig, zag and create in the front half, looming as one to watch.

#8 Ronald Fejo Jnr

An over-ager in this clash, Fejo looked far and away the NT’s most clean and skilful prospect. He started on the wing and operated there for most of the day, slicing forward like a knife through butter with his speed and repeat run efforts to chain through the corridor. He often looked to position at the back of stoppages, where he could clearly view the best path forward and carve out an attack in electric form. Fejo also showcased good foot skills, hitting targets on the move and picking the right options going inside 50.

EASTERN RANGES vs. GWV REBELS

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

The highly touted prospect started brightly and was able to get his hands on the ball, but found the going tough as GWV’s midfield began to get on top. He got first hands to the ball at the opening centre bounce and showcased his slick hands with a nice dish-off, which he would continue to do around the ground. A lot of his work was done under pressure, but Sonsie proved his class and was not afraid to compete. He jagged a goal from nothing in the opening term and later combined his dual-sided foot skills with rare vision to turn and hit targets others would not attempt to. A really smooth mover, his classy stoppage exits were blanketed, but still came through in spurts.

#2 James O’Connor

The top-ager played an unheralded role on GWV key forward Josh Rentsch, thrust into the lop-sided matchup (in terms of size) after quarter time and competing well despite the clear discrepancy. While he had his hands full with the Rebels goalkicking ace one-out inside defensive 50, O’Connor was still able to compete aerially and had some nice moments sweeping out of his own area. He looked to make every post a winner at ground level and ran the ball well, providing a bit of spark on the rebound in some tough spots.

#3 Jake Arundell

One who showed a bit in the Young Guns fixture, Arundell returned with the Ranges and got back to his busy ways up forward. He looked a lot more productive in the second half, showing great speed to chase up loose balls up onto the wing and presenting a solid option there on the lead. With his back to goal, Arundell would twist and turn to buy enough time before disposing of the ball, and hit some really nice kicks going inside 50. He finished well and added a goal to his game in the fourth quarter from a set shot, 35 metres out after being made to earn the mark.

#5 Jake Soligo

Soligo finished equal as the Ranges’ leading ball winner and set the tone for a terrific first term with the game’s opening goal. Having turned his back on goal at the 50-metre arc, his decision proved a good one as he slammed home the long-range shot with aplomb. The Eastern skipper proved nice and evasive in traffic and often found a way to dish out of congestion, while not being afraid to crack in and do the tough stuff. He had a good moment late on, flying in a contest against Fraser Marris and winning the ball before hitting Bradley Watson inside 50 with plenty of class.

#31 Tyreece Leiu

A constant in the Ranges’ besieged defence, Leiu proved a reliable figure who was able to read the play well and intercept a number of promising GWV attacks. His intercept marking ability was evident throughout the game, as he did so in one-on-one battles or by peeling off his direct opponent to impact third-up. Leiu’s clean hands allowed him to be a cool head in the crisis, while sound disposal furthered that influence on the rebound. A really solid game overall, and one which forced the Rebels to get creative with their ball use.

GWV Rebels:

#3 Charlie Molan

Employed up on the wing, Molan did all the fundamentals well and was reliable as ever for the Rebels. He positioned well at the back of stoppages to help his defence and read the play well to know when to attack, or when to hang back. Working into the back half, he was a sound outlet option on the rebound and in possession, his strong kicking came to the fore. Molan is as competitive as they come and got the Rebels out of trouble on numerous occasions by splitting or winning key ground balls, sweeping his side onto the front foot.

#5 Josh Rentsch

The skipper looked on track for a mammoth goal haul and settled on five, with no Eastern defender able to properly go with him throughout the entire contest. He looked ominous early, with his power and marking ability causing headaches as he positioned one-out inside 50. Rebels players only had to kick the ball long over the back and he would easily clunk the mark within range of goal. The finishing touch was Rentsch’s only downfall, as he missed some gettable opportunities from set shots in between those five conversions. He was either incredibly unselfish, or lacking in a bit of confidence in that department as he constantly looked to dish off to teammates – even at the top of the goalsquare after a strong mark. It was a commanding display though, and a good showcase of his key strengths.

#6 Marcus Herbert

A really classy type in midfield, the top-ager just knows how to get out of tight spots. Herbert may have been in the wars during this outing, but battled on to run out the game and displayed his typically smooth ability to slip away from the stoppages. His delivery by foot was a bit shaky in the first half, but he soon fixed up and made his exit kicks work. One particular passage saw him come away from the centre bounce and deliver laterally to the wingman, who ran onto the kick without breaking stride. The Geelong VFL representative certainly looks ominous at his best.

#8 Josh Gibcus

The fast rising intercept defender picked up right from where he left off, putting in another handy shift across the back half. He reads the play so well and proved as much with a series of intercept marks, using his sizeable leap and clean hands to stop Eastern attacks in their tracks. While the ball did not enter his area for long periods in the match, Gibcus set up beautifully and was consistently in the right spots, making the right decisions to ensure he could intercept. From there, he distributed the ball nicely despite a rare kicking error in the final quarter. He continues to be one to watch.

#12 Fraser Marris

Marris finished as the best player afield and really took over as the game wore on with his unrelenting accumulation of possessions. Running through midfield, the top-ager got his hands on it early and was able to distribute, using the ball cleanly at short range and using his smarts to navigate at the stoppages. He ramped up his forward drive in the second half, finding the ball in increasingly advanced areas and getting his legs pumping through the middle of the ground to have a greater impact outside the contest. He even hit the scoreboard in term free after winning a free kick, and had a hand in many more goals throughout the game through sheer weight of numbers in the engine room.

2021 NAB League: Post-Round 3 fallout – Which 19-year-olds have raised their stocks?

THE FIRST three rounds of NAB League action were pegged as important ones for 19-year-old AFL Draft prospects this year, after the competition was restructured and the top-age lifted to provide ample opportunity for said age group to prove their worth. For some, their stocks have risen immensely, so much so that there is already interest awaiting them at the midseason draft. Others are climbing steadily and will take advantage of greater state league opportunities, while a promising group has been held back by injuries.

Atop the list of 19th-year talents to come out of the NAB League in 2021 is Sandringham Dragons tall, Jacob Edwards. The agile ruck-forward caught the eye with an outstanding preseason intraclub performance, before translating that form into three top-notch games for the Dragons come season proper. Partner in crime, Max Heath has returned strongly too, building on last year’s promise to also be in the mix. Both are still in school though, so will likely garner attention mostly from Victorian clubs.

A bunch of up-and-comers will also feature in the VFL as soon as this round. Western Jets standout Cody Raak ran out for the Western Bulldogs’ reserves on Thursday night, taking four marks among his nine disposals on debut. The Bulldogs NGA product has looked above the NAB League level this year, dominating across his usual centre half-back post with intercept marking and ever-improving distributive skills. Calder Cannons forward Sam Paea was also selected for Essendon in Round 1, clunking five marks.

The game to watch this week for draftable talent will be the AFL Academy clash with Geelong VFL, though there will be some exciting youngsters lining up on the side not many would expect to look at in that sense. Athletic Falcons defender Charlie Ham will suit up for the Cats alongside smooth GWV midfielder Marcus Herbert, while Category B rookie Paul Tsapatolis will also feature having represented Western Jets thus far. Oakleigh ruck Ned Moyle will also run out in that game, as the Academy’s sole top-ager.

Elsewhere, Collingwood and Essendon lock horns on Satirday afternoon and will also blood some youth from the elite talent pathway. Dynamic Oakleigh Chargers forward Dylan Thomas gets a gig for the Magpies after booting six goals in three games, with NGA prospect Youseph Dib set to start up forward while Will Hart has been named as an emergency. Nippy Bendigo midfielder-forward Jack Hickman has been named for the Bombers, with Pioneers skipper Jack Evans also an emergency.

Speaking of emergencies, Tasmanian pair Oliver Sanders and Tyler McGinniss are on that list for North Melbourne. Sanders has averaged 29 disposals across his two NAB League outings this season, while 20-year-old McGinniss also showed promise in those two matches. Fellow Devils product Oliver Davis may also earn his own state league shot, set to link up with Sturt over in the SANFL having already trained with the Double Blues.

In terms of other prospects in the mix for opportunities at higher levels, Dandenong’s Will Bravo, Murray’s Charlie Byrne, and Eastern’s Corey Preston should both garner VFL attention after spending the preseason fighting for AFL spots at Hawthorn, Essendon, and Western Bulldogs respectively. While he has not been sighted on-field as of yet, Zavier Maher is a recent Carlton VFL signing having also spent the preseason mixing it with senior Blues.

Bravo’s Stingrays teammates Clayton Gay and Bryce Milford should both soon link up with Casey after spending time there. Oakleigh Chargers midfield duo Lochlan Jenkins and Fraser Elliot have also proven their worth thus far, as has Ewan Macpherson for Northern after being overlooked by the Bulldogs as a father-son. Charlie McKay is also in that boat, having been passed on last year by Carlton.

There are plenty of others in the mix too, with revamped rules allowing for more pathways products to feature each week in the VFL. With so much talent vying for those spots after three rounds of NAB League football, there is sure to be pretty stiff competition for those expanded spots. Some will filter to that next level, while others will stay in or return via the NAB League, as others spill into local leagues. The regeneration will continue too, as Under 17 prospects will soon enter the NAB League at a greater rate.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 3

VICTORIA’S hottest AFL Draft prospects returned for Round 3 of the 2021 NAB League season on the weekend, with plenty of top end talent scattered across the six fixtures. Our scouts were on hand to take note and run you through the top performers from each game, in their opinion-based Scouting Notes. Check out some of the top performers from the 12 talent regions in action.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. EASTERN RANGES

By: Hamish Spence

TASMANIA:

#1 Baynen Lowe

Lowe provided a spark whenever he was near the ball, with the 17-year-old splitting his time up forward and in the midfield. He’s a point of difference in the middle with his bursts of speed around stoppages and he looks dangerous anytime he’s inside 50. His leading patterns and strong forward craft saw him take six marks and kick 2.2, while also gathering 20 disposals. He looms as one of Tasmania’s more exciting prospects heading into this year’s draft.

#3 Oliver Davis

Tasmania’s main conduit around the contest, Davis played his usual role as a powerful inside midfielder. He started strongly in the first half, to the point that Eastern started accounting for him more around stoppages in the second half. He starred in the clearances and contested game, finishing with 23 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s. After unluckily going undrafted last year, Davis has strung two impressive performances together to kick off the season.

#4 Samuel Foley

Foley anchored a stout performance from Tasmania’s back six, who restricted the Ranges to just one goal in the first half. He wasn’t afraid to play aggressively and go for the ball, while still being accountable to his direct opponent at centre half-back. In a nice turnaround from last week, he also won several key one-on-one contests, after giving way to Jackson Cardillo against Calder in Round 2. Foley and Tyler McGinniss (his fellow key defender) read the ball well, creating a contest and bringing the ball to ground if they couldn’t mark it. He finished with 18 disposals, six marks, and seven inside 50s in an impressive defensive performance.

#5 Oliver Sanders

Sanders was the most prolific midfielder on Saturday, finishing with an equal game-high 29 disposals, five marks and four inside 50s. He possesses a natural ball-winning ability and knows how to create space around stoppages, often helping the Devils with their attacks going forward. He had a nice moment in the third quarter when he went back with the flight and took a strong mark on the right-hand wing.

#6 Sam Banks

The Devils’ captain led from the front, starring in a best on ground performance off half-back. Banks got the ball rolling with the first goal of the game and was a constant force all match, finishing with 29 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s. His ball movement out of the backline often set Tasmania up and he remained level-headed when the team was put under pressure in the second half. Unfortunately, he suffered a suspected broken wrist in the final quarter, which could keep him out for several weeks.

#21 Jacob Young

Young was the most dangerous key forward on Saturday because of the way he presented and marked the ball. He has a safe pair of mitts when he hits full flight and he looked likely all game. He started strongly in the first quarter and didn’t let up, flying for every contest and crashing packs throughout the match. He kicked 2.1, while gathering 11 disposals and clunking six marks. After the Devils’ tall forward set-up struggled to fire last week, the way Young, Noah Holmes and Will Splann worked together and gave each other space was encouraging to see.

EASTERN:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

Sonsie shone through in what was a tough day for most of his teammates, leaving as Eastern’s best player. He was good all game, but had a noticeable impact in the third quarter when there was a hint of a Ranges comeback. He was a threat around stoppages and provided the x-factor that his side needed by kicking two of their four goals for the term, including a neat checkside on the run. He also had 21 disposals in a performance that reinforced his status as one of the top prospects heading into this year’s draft.

#5 Jake Soligo

While he didn’t gather the footy as much as some other players, it was Soligo’s unrelenting pressure and competitiveness that made him stand out. After the Ranges were left shellshocked by the Devils’ dominance in the first term, he was one of the players who immediately lifted his standards, exactly what you’d expect from your co-captain. Eastern was ambushed and tackled 19 times in the first quarter, but it went on to win the tackle count, with Soligo contributing a game-high eight of them. He also had 16 disposals and five inside 50s, and his ball use was often effective despite most of his possessions being contested.

#9 Mitchell Sruk

Sruk was put under constant pressure due to Tasmania’s repeat inside 50 entries, but the half-back flanker didn’t lower his colours and stood up consistently. He led his team in disposals with 22 and the game in rebound 50s with nine. He got plenty of touches because the ball lived at his end of the ground for large portions of the game, but it was his clean decision-making and the way he intercepted the Devils’ attacks that made him one of Eastern’s better players.

#21 Corey Preston

Preston was key to getting his side going in the third quarter, with the Ranges’ coaching staff utilising him in a unique way. He would start at the top of forward 50 during every centre bounce, before running onto the back of the contest and playing as a midfielder from then on. His blistering speed meant this added a new element to Eastern’s game at centre clearances and his work at the contest around the ground was strong. This meant he didn’t spend as much time up forward as in previous weeks though. He finished with 18 disposals, five tackles, four inside 50s and two behinds, with his impact in the second half lifting the team around him.

#29 Harrison Keeling

Keeling had a workman’s like game, running all over the ground and covering an enormous amount of territory. He played his role as a wingman, being an outlet on the outside and supporting his teammates. His hard work saw him rack up 20 disposals, five tackles, four inside 50s and kick one goal. He continued the form that has seen him among the Ranges’ best to start the year.

#30 Jack Diedrich

Diedrich was easily the best ruckman on the ground, finishing with a game-high 32 hit outs (the next best was 10 from Noah Holmes). His dominance didn’t translate at times during the match, with Tasmania winning the midfield battle in the first half. But when Eastern started to get on top in the third term, there was no way to stem his influence. He didn’t make the biggest impact around the ground with just eight disposals, but he still had some key moments. He put himself in the right spots to compete in marking contests and there were a couple of times where he kept a cool head when he was involved in general chains of play.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

By: Peter Williams

GIPPSLAND:

#4 Nathan Noblett

Had a solid game across the board, but was particularly noticeable late in the game, taking a number of strong intercept marks. Showing good hands and an ability to get to the right spots, he tried hard in the defensive 50. One of the better ones in the air in defence.

#5 Chance Doultree

Won plenty of the ball in close, Doultree was able to amass more touches than anyone else on his team. He worked hard to push around the ground against the momentum and even kicked a goal in the last minute to bring the margin back to under 12 goals.

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Arguably the most noticeable Power player across the four quarters, Moschetti just kept having a crack and then took it upon himself to hit the scoreboard. His work rate in particular, spreading from the contest and winning in space was strong, and he kicked his first goal off the outside of the boot running into goal in the second term. His second major came early in the fourth, and he working hard right to the final siren as one of the prime midfield movers.

#23 Jai Serong

After a quieter first term, Serong began building into the game, and used his size around the ground to spread and take some important marks. He was used in transition from the back half to the forward 50, and whilst it was a tough day for the Power, he generally used it well and was able to have more of an impact as the game went on.

NORTHERN:

#2 Ned Long

A really exciting talent because of his size and versatility. He kicked three goals for the game, with his first a clever snap, then handed off another chance to a free teammate to set him up. He kicked his second major in the goalsquare with a quick boot to ball, then took a good mark and spun well in the fourth term to kick his third. In between his bursts of goals, Long went into the middle and found plenty of the football, using his bigger body to advantage and having an influence around the stoppages.

#3 Josh Ward

Had the ball on a string throughout the match, and whilst he was one of hte few Knights that did not end up hitting the scoreboard, he kept plugging away in close and getting the ball out. A consistent four-quarter performer, Ward did his fair share of defensive acts, and drove the ball forward to end up with the most touches on the field with 33.

#7 Ewan Macpherson

It was an even team performance, but Macpherson might have been the best on the lot. Kicked a couple of goals including a couple of tricky long-range set shots from around 45m out with the blustery wind, then would go into the midfield and create an option. He racked the ball up and did not take a backwards step, laying tackle after tackle and putting his body on the line. He was consistent throughout the four quarters and moved well in the forward half, to utilise his run in transition, and his hardness at the contest.

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Was a rock in defence early, intercepting anything that came his way and opting to switch and try and create more run from the back 50 to the forward 50. As the Knights began to control forward half possession, he did not have a great deal to do, but still pushed up and aided where possible. Used the ball well by foot and was composed under pressure, and was one of the best on in the opening term when the game was alive.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Another standout performer from the Knights, Trudgeon was hard to stop inside 50, slotting three goals from 29 disposals in a remarkable performance. He missed an early set shot after a great mark, then dropped a rare chance, before seemingly having sticky hands throughout the game. He marked on the line to grab a cheapie one metre out, but worked hard with a couple more great goals, including one from the pocket after a great run. Strong hands and good work rate inside 50, also pushing up the ground to be a leading target.

#22 Jack Rossimel

Showed some promising signs throughout the match, able to kick a couple of goals, though the second was from the goalsquare following a 50m penalty for a late push in the marking contest. His first major was a snap around his body in the second term, ad then a set shot drifted to the right midway through the third. He presented well, and whilst he did not win as much of it as others, took some strong marks and led hard at the footy inside 50.

#26 Dom Akuei

As eye-catching as they get when it comes to athleticism, Akuei has a ridiculous leap, but also has remarkable footy IQ both in the air and at ground level. Time and time again he would leap up and palm off to a midfielder as part of a set play, but when he battled against a couple of opponents on the ground, quickly tapped it out to the extra number on his team rather than take possession. He won a free kick and sidestepped his opponent to gain a few extra metres and kick forward, and was relied upon to be a link in the chain and provide an option around the ground as he did.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Another player who just found the ball at will, Fitzgerald worked hard for his touches and finished with the second most on the ground with 30. He would accumulate them and quickly give off or look to get it forward, but also worked defensively when needed to help out the defence. Just a solid four-quarter performance across the board.

#33 Mackenzie Hogg

Could well have been best-on had it not been for an injury early in the third term. His eight disposals, three marks and 2.2 might not look like much, but factoring in that it was effectively from a half of footy, really showed what he could do. The majority of it was also in the second term where he kicked well off his left running in with the breeze to put one through, then nailed his set shot from a tighter angle after marking close to goal. He had another couple of early snaps in the third term for two behinds, then by the third minute was helped off.

#39 Emilio Rinaudo

Showed some great toe around the ground and ended up getting on the end of a couple of goals. His athleticism – which helped him quick a goal thanks to a quick-thinking sidestep in the second term – was a standout of his on the day. He ran down an opponent with his pace in the fourth term, whilst his hard running was rewarded early prior to the previously mentioned goal with a clever snap from the pocket after picking it up cleanly in challenging conditions.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

By: Michael Alvaro

SANDRINGHAM:

#4 Josh Sinn

It was somewhat of a hit-and-miss kind of day for Sinn, who found a good amount of ball but took a few attempts to settle and use it as well as he can. Having been utilised on the inside earlier than expected, Sinn again showed his value there after being granted starting status at the first centre bounce. His size and explosive traits proved a handful around the contest, but it was in situations where Sinn broke on the outer which were arguably more eye-catching. He pumped forward 10 inside 50s and while plenty of his early attempts were turned over or scuffed, Sinn was able to gain confidence by hitting his targets at a greater rate thereafter. Having copped a knock to his calf in the final term, he was put on ice ahead of the AFL Academy game this week.

#11 Jack Peris

This was far and away Peris’ best competitive outing in Sandringham colours, with the St Kilda NGA prospect showcasing his rare athletic traits and causing headaches with his forward movement from the wing. He notched 17 disposals and looked to take the game on with each, backing his speed to burn opponents and showing flashy agility to weave out of sticky situations. Peris is still quite light, so was caught on a few occasions, but was able to produce a game more indicative of his potential this time out. He capped his day with crafty goals in the first and final quarters.

#17 Finn Callaghan

Callaghan is a prospect who built a decent reputation during preseason, but has more than delivered on that early promise three rounds into the NAB League season. The flying wingman was recently added to the AFL Academy squad and richly deserves it on the back of Saturday’s effort, in which he showcased all his best traits. Callaghan was a relentless force on the outer, proving difficult to stop with his size, speed and agility on the move. He constantly looked to break lines with aggression, putting Sandringham on the front foot and driving his side forward superbly. He kicked cleanly and made good decisions, including in the fourth term when he baulked the man on the mark at half-forward before unleashing a terrific long goal from 50 metres out. Watch his rise.

#18 Darby Hipwell

The Sandringham co-captain is one who has actively recognised and worked on his deficiencies to produce some really solid form early this season. He racked up the equal-most disposals on Saturday with 27, working hard to not only win his usual possessions on the inside, but to also make his mark in all areas of the ground. Hipwell led with intent, using good strength at the contest and proving difficult to beat at ground level – as is expected of the 19th-year prospect. He brought a greater accumulation factor this time around and was able to penetrate both arcs too, making for a well-rounded midfield game. He could be one to now move in to the VFL system given his top-age status.

#42 Luke Cleary

One who showed enough potential to earn a National Combine invite last year, Cleary has built up a good head of steam in 2021 having been overlooked at the draft table. Stationed in his familiar defensive post, the 189cm prospect had his most prolific outing to date on the stat sheet with 21 disposals, eight marks and four rebound 50s. His numbers were indicative of his game, able to read the play and set in perfect position to intercept – whether that be aerially or at ground level. From there, Cleary used the ball typically well with shrewd decisions in tight spots, showing his cool head in a crisis. He’s just a reliable figure back there and knows his role well.

#70 Jacob Edwards

Edwards has been touted for mid-season draft selection and it is not hard to see why, with the agile big man again impressive for the Dragons in a big win. He started up forward where his marking has been a real feature, before rotating into the ruck and further showcasing his leap. Edwards’ mobility and work around the ground is also noticeable, though he cuts a raw figure and has some work to do before becoming a physical, contested marking force at senior level. The fast-rising tall again found the goals with two majors at the same end, snagged in the second and fourth quarters. As far as 200cm players go, his consistent output has been outstanding.

DANDENONG:

#6 Connor Macdonald

Having set the scene alight last week with an absolute blinder, Macdonald was arguably Dandenong’s most productive player once more. He was the sole Stingray to tick over 20 touches, finishing with 25 to go with six marks and three tackles. His work rate and accumulative factor again came to the fore, as the 184cm talent penetrated either arc and was able to find the ball in all areas of the ground. He was up against it given Sandringham’s midfield strength, but was a near-permanent fixture there for Dandenong and showed nice speed away from the contest. Macdonald capped his day with a goal, thanks to being awarded a 50-metre penalty just outside his side’s attacking arc.

#10 Clayton Gay

All 15 of Gay’s disposals on Saturday were kicks, which you could have guess given the attack-minded style he adopted. Starting out on the wing before being trialled on the inside, Gay was able to launch the Stingrays forward with his penetrative boot and did so in style on many occasions. His punchy action made for eye-catching spear kicks into the corridor, which were indicative of Dandenong’s intent with ball in hand. As the pressure gauge lifted, those kicks would more often be sent long down the line, but still carried good meterage. Gay has proven his versatility and natural footballing skills, which could set him up for some VFL action in 2021 seeing as he is a top-ager.

#14 Will Bravo

Bravo was a real driver of the ball for Dandenong with his speed and intensity through midfield. That intensity could be observed in both an attacking and defensive sense, as he looked to run with ball in hand and burst away from congestion, while also working back to apply a game-high 10 tackles. Dandenong may not have had the size of some of Sandringham’s midfielders, but Bravo was once who looked to bridge the difference with hard work and some good presence around the ball. Having started on the inside, the top-ager was moved to a variety of roles as the Stingrays shuffled the magnets throughout.

#22 Mac Andrew

The 200cm ruck continues to show great potential and was duly added to the AFL Academy squad. His raw ability and versatility as a tall are exciting, with Andrew spending a good amount of time up forward and contributing strong work around the ground. He finished with four marks for the day but showcased some really nice traits in that area, able to utilise his reach to easily beat smaller opponents while also marking strongly in contested situations. The Melbourne NGA prospect also converted a goal in the second term and may make Demons’ list managers sweat with his top 25 potential, especially in such a strong draft for midfielders.

#46 Justin Davies

Again playing an unheralded role against some dangerous forwards, Davies stood up well and was able to bring forward some of his own best traits on Saturday. He is a pretty good mover for his size and competes well aerially, meaning he can cover all sorts of key forwards. Davies was also able to swing forward and show some nous there, booting a goal in the final term and again looking promising with his work in the air.

WESTERN JETS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

By: Eli Duxson

WESTERN:

#26 Cody Raak

Raak was the General for the Jets defence having a say in most contests and rebounds inside defensive 50. The still weather allowed him to display his aerial prowess where he made good decisions to either mark or spoil the ball, being very effective at both. He read the flight of the ball terrifically, as well as the play where he opted to zone off from his opponent and intercept mark. After one particular intercept he earnt himself a free kick for holding the ball, highlighting his defensive ability both in the air and on the ground. Offensively, he kicked much more than he handballed, but that was partly because his teammates often looked for him to clear play. He was trusted with most of the kick outs and was efficient with his field kicking all game. Raak finished the game with 33 disposals (25 kicks), seven marks, and 10 rebound 50’s.

#33 Billy Cootee

The Jets skipper was valiant all game putting in big efforts deep into the game when the result was beyond doubt. He showed a good mix of inside and outside efforts utilising his speed as he was clean in tight through hands but managed to find space often and be a target. He took 11 marks for the game and displayed a penetrating kick when he was found. A set shot for goal made the distance quite comfortably off just a few momentum-gaining steps as the man on the mark was on the 50-metre arc. Cootee finished with 24 disposals and five inside 50’s.

#35 Liam Conway

The big-bodied midfielder was strong from the outset showing composure and cleanliness in congestion. He had a knack of getting first hands on the ball at stoppages when it was in his vicinity either through relentless bustling or good use of his body. However, his eagerness did result in five conceded free kicks. His first few steps are powerful and allows him to build momentum quickly so he can get into space to dispose of the ball, or break through tackles. Once the ball was cleared, he covered the ground well to find possession or zone off defensively. Conway managed 26 disposals and five tackles for the game.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

Tsapatolis had a tough battle with Chargers ruckman Ned Moyle where he narrowly lost the hit out count but managed to make an impact forward kicking two goals. He was clean below his knees for his size but often got flustered and rushed with possession. He at times got caught out with his defensive positioning and running but showed good endurance to get to most stoppages as the Jets primary ruckman. He had 10 disposals and 15 hit outs to go with his 2 goals.

OAKLEIGH:

#1 Youseph Dib

The speedy small was seen all over the ground at times but spent most of the game playing half-back and around the middle of the ground. He was utilised in an Adelaide Crows Charlie Cameron-type role streaming off half-back into the centre bounce and actually gaining possession and breaking the line on one occasion. His acceleration and strides were impressively quick which he used to apply immense pressure, laying six tackles for the game. He was reliable with his disposal and when he did miss a handball, his follow up work allowed him to win possession again or help a teammate. He took a terrific intercept mark in the third quarter and was stringent defensively. Dib finished with 20 disposals and six inside 50’s in his best game this season.

#3 Nick Daicos

A class above and clearly the best-on-ground again as he amassed 40 disposals to go with two goals, nine marks, and 11 inside 50’s. He could not stay away from the ball it seemed as he patrolled the middle of the ground and snuck forward to rest. His first goal came from a free quick and his second out the back in the goal square, although he did manage a further four shots that would miss. Two of them were in the final term where he had options to pass, but instead had a shot from 50 metres and another tight against the boundary. Both minor blemishes in a game where the result was out of question and the sting was out of the game though. He looked like he had so much time when he had possession and very few of his 40 disposals would have been ineffective. His set up at stoppages varied and was clearly making to the hit zones, but he then worked hard to spread from stoppages, sometimes at the detriment of his defensive running. He also did a good job of directing teammates and being constructive in structural set ups. Will be interesting to see whether he remains at NAB League level and boosts his draft stock or opts to develop in the VFL.

#8 Fraser Elliot

Backed up a good performance in Round three where he had 18 disposals and 11 tackles, but his defensive ability was not required as much in their comfortable win. Rotating through the middle and forward, the big-bodied midfielder was strong in tight and showed good hip and core strength to remain upright through contact. Often the extractor, he handballed more than he kicked and was clean and level under pressure. Although his tackle count was low, his defensive work rate highlighted his endurance as he often made his way to defensive 50 stoppages or linked up in rebounding forays. Elliot also managed a goal to go with his 19 disposals.

#14 Sam Darcy

The lumbering defender found himself in the ruck where he was serviceable, but his intercept marking and kicking efficiency in defence put him as probably the second best-on behind Daicos. Darcy finished the game with nine marks and most of them would have been interceptions or contested grabs. He read the flight of the ball much better than his opponent and was clean in his one-grab overhead marks. His kicking long and short was consistent and he even showed confidence in his opposite boot late in the game. He had 21 disposals (16 kicks) to go with his nine marks as well as seven hit outs.

#27 Karl Worner

Playing predominantly off half-back and between the arcs either on ball or on the wing, Worner also enjoyed his best game of the season. He found space often enough to accumulate possession with his 10 marks, one notably going back with the flight to mark courageously. He looked calm with ball in hand with a great mark and hit up inside 50 in the first quarter a feature. 22 disposals was his final tally with 13 kicks and nine handballs indicative of his inside/outside mix.

#64 Ned Moyle

The Oakleigh ruckman had his toughest matchup to date in Tsapatolis but managed a minor victory. It was a relatively even ruck contest all game, but he edged out his opponent by three hit outs with better positioning often a factor. Rucks a bit like Oscar McInerney in the sense he is not overtly athletically gifted with his leaping ability like a Nic Naitanui, but he times his jump well and is mobile and fit enough to cover good territory. He often outworked Tsapatolis in that regard as he was able to push back defensively and get in the way of Western’s forward movement. He worked hard the other way too as he pushed forward at times when Darcy gave him a break. Moyle managed a goal early in the second term with a nice mark and set shot. He looked comfortable with ball in hand and found the ball 11 times to go with his 18 hit outs.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GEELONG FALCONS

By: Michael Alvaro

BENDIGO:

#1 Sam Conforti

The 19th-year prospect was as productive as any Pioneer on Sunday, ending as their most prolific ball winner with 23 touches. Rotating through the engine room from attacking 50, Conforti was his busy self at ground level and attended a high amount of stoppages. He exited traffic on a few occasions with good agility, using his nous to find a way forward or dish out quickly to bring others into the game. His best moment of the day came in the second term, as he showed great composure to baulk an opponent before letting fly from 50 metres for a terrific long goal.

#4 Jack Hickman

The nippy midfielder-forward again swapped his time between both positions and popped up with some eye-catching work away from the contest. His turn of speed made for some really nice exits from congestion, able to nip away from would-be tacklers and wheel onto his favoured side. A clever kind of player, Hickman won a holding-the-ball free kick in term two after pinning his opponent’s arm, and later hit some nice targets going forward. In the same period of play, he ran onto a loose ball over the top and slotted home his lone goal of the game.

#5 Cooper Hamilton

Part of the AFL Academy squad set to take on Geelong VFL on Saturday, Hamilton got through his final NAB League test unscathed and continues to produce good moments. Playing mostly through midfield, he started well with a bustling clearance and showed his trademark strength at the contest, even under tackling pressure. He found the goals in the second term after stealing an errand Geelong handball and converting in a flash from close range. Hamilton would then kick a steadier in the fourth quarter, finishing with composure from a swift handball receive. Though not overly prolific, 16 disposals and two goals made for a solid contribution.

#11 Cobi Maxted

Maxted has put together a promising couple of weeks, this time performing as a valuable swingman for the Pioneers. Having impressed as somewhat of a marking defender last time out, he continued said form early in this outing before shifting forward and duly hitting the scoreboard. His first major came in the third term, as he latched onto a nice chain of Bendigo handballs to snap home well, while his second goal was a set shot conversion in the following quarter. Overall, Maxted was able to again show some nice traits and get busy in key areas of the ground.

#13 Jack Evans

One who found plenty of the ball in the first half, the Pioneers leader proved a reliable figure across half-back during said period. He often looked to go by foot on the rebound, with 16 kicks and six rebound 50s coming among his total 19 disposals. Evans was able to gain good meterage from the back half, reading the play well to move into the correct areas to either mop up or receive on the outer once Bendigo had forced the turnover. While he faded out of the contest a touch, Evans helped absorb early pressure before Bendigo gained a greater hold on proceedings.

GEELONG:

#12 Noah Gribble

One of the hardest workers in the competition, it is hard to believe Gribble did not come away with more disposals, but 24 still proved a great return. The wingman was employed in his usual post, running hard both ways to accumulate possessions and help generate some forward momentum on the outer for Geelong. He constantly tried to make things happen and was competitive both in the air and at ground level, but looked to fare much better in open spaces where he could cover ground and deliver with more assuredness. Gribble’s hard running earned him a goal in the third term, as he snuck forward to mark uncontested before converting the set shot.

#16 Charlie Ham

Having earned a National Combine invite last year, Ham’s performance on Sunday was perhaps most indicative of what recruiters saw in him back then. The defender did a lot of work to sweep up across Geelong’s back 50 and also distributed from the kick-ins, seeing him finish as the highest ball winner afield with 29 disposals (20 kicks) and six rebound 50s. A beautifully timed overhead mark in the first term set the tone for Ham’s game, as he would go on to take some similarly graceful grabs coming from the side or rear of packs, really utilising his athleticism. He bottled the confidence gained from those acts to provide some dash, but tended to show a little too much of his kicks to the opposition at times, putting pressure on the receiver. Still, there are plenty of positive traits to work with for Ham.

#25 Josh Sorgiovanni

Sorgiovanni was a solid worker for Geelong through midfield, able to provide some much-needed drive through the corridor. He would often win or receive the first possession out of congestion, before looking to run his measure and pump the Falcons forward. He produced a clutch moment after the half time siren, dropping well to earn a high free kick before slotting home a set shot goal to get his side back to within a goal at the main break. As expected, his teammates got around him and he enjoyed some more good patches thereafter.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

The day’s most prolific midfield ball winner, Knevitt amassed 27 disposals and did some solid work on the inside upon his return to the lineup. Hard to miss with his flowing hair, the 18-year-old accumulated well throughout the game and was often able to put first hands on the ball at stoppages. He had a couple of nice moments outside the contest too, streaming forward well on one occasion and also backing back to clunk a courageous mark on the stretch in front of Falcons bigman, Toby Conway. It is easy to see why Knevitt was so highly touted by his teammates in preseason.

#60 Toby Conway

The subject of our Player Focus this week, the AFL Academy inclusion continued his good start to the season as Geelong’s primary ruck. He was simply too big and strong at most contests, able to use his reach or work into prime position to direct helpful hitouts down to his midfielders. Instead of rotating heavily as he did last week, Conway was also able to showcase his improving forward craft as he rested forward, kicking a goal in the second quarter. He also set up behind the ball to provide an outlet or lock it into Geelong’s front half, another aspect he is improving on.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. GWV REBELS

By: Ed Pascoe

MURRAY:

#2 Charlie Byrne

Likely to feature in the Essendon VFL going forward Byrne has added another strong to his bow as the rebound defender of previous years has made a strong transition into the midfield for Murray this year. Although not his most prolific game he made his disposals count with some strong clearances using his stronger frame to his advantage with some nice bursts and long kicking inside 50 with his trusty long left boot. Also drifting forward he managed to kick a lovely snap goal on the run in the first quarter and almost did the same later in the game with a long goal from 50m but unfortunately a teammate gave away a free kick to take away what would have been a lovely goal. Byrne finished the game with 15 disposals, 4 inside 50s and kicked 1.1 and has set himself up well for a likely debut for Essendon VFL this year.

#3 Toby Murray

Murray started the game in hot form and proved a handful in the first quarter kicking two goals and although he wouldn’t add to his tally he would still go on to have a good game. Murray would kicks his first goal from a nice tackle which was rewarded inside 50 and the 2nd goal was kicked from a nice a lead up mark in the pocket, he would slot both goals with the set shot and looked steady with his approach. The 198cm Murray would also go into the ruck on occasion winning some nice hit outs and following up his work well with some good tackles and great dexterity and clean hands at ground level. Murray finished the game with 11 disposals, 14 hit outs and 2 goals as he puts together a strong start to the season.

#5 Patrick Parnell

The speedy mid-season draft prospect has put together a strong start to the NAB League season and he was again one of Murrays best providing great rebound at half back and was a solid 4 quarter performer. Although a smaller and skinnier defender he did well to take some nice intercept marks and even a contested mark against the highly touted forward Kai Lohmann in the first quarter, Parnell impressed with his quick ball movement and desperate defending showing a good mix down back and its no surprise to see him taking kickouts with his speed and kicking. Along with some nice spoils and 1% plays Parnell finished the game with 24 disposals, 5 marks and 6 rebound 50s.

#9 Kade Chalcraft

The tough inside midfielder adept at winning clearances did so with ease against the Rebels with his strong frame and appetite for the contest really impressing. A no thrills midfielder he won the hard ball and tackled hard all day and didn’t let up in his attack on the contest and with ball in hand sending the ball inside 50 multiple times and always wanting to keep the ball moving. Chalcraft finished the game with 25 disposals, 5 inside 50s and 6 tackles with the mid-season draft prospect continuing to impress.

#10 Daniel Turner

A wall in defence for Murray Bushrangers Turner took plenty of intercept marks throughout the game and despite his 191cm frame he played above his height. Turner has been one of Murrays most consistent players proving to be a big obstacle for the opposition with his courage to sit in the hole or infront of key forwards to stay strong and take big intercept marks. Turner finished the game with 18 disposals and 8 marks with plenty of those being intercepts as the mid-season draft prospect stakes his claim as one of the better defenders in the NAB League.

#13 Tom Brown

After a quiet first round Brown has started to find his feet playing half back for Murray Bushrangers with the super athletic prospect put in a strong performance. Brown is a great athlete and used his athletic traits to his advantage offering plenty of drive from alf back with his endurance and speed across the ground and his leap was handy in taking plenty of good intercept marks including a strong contested mark in the last quarter. Getting better every week the break isnt timely for Brown but should take great confidence out of his recent form, with 22 disposals, 6 mark and 5 rebound 50s it was a great return for Brown.

GWV:

#1 Sam Butler

Usually a crafty forward and starting in that role Butler helped turn the game with his addition to the Rebels midfield in the 2nd half using his speed and class at stoppages to help gets his side over the line. Butler was quiet forward in the first half but had some great forward pressure and he would bring that enthusiasm into the midfield winning some good clearances and he had some strong tackles aswell, his pace and strength over the ball was influential in combating the stronger but slower Murray midfield and with 20 disposals, 5 marks and 4 tackles it was a strong game from Butler despite not kicking a major.

#3 Charlie Molan

Although not prolific it would have been his efforts without the ball that impressed his teammates and coaches the most with Molan playing an outstanding defensive game. The smooth moving defender set the seen for his game with a desperate goal saving tackle in the 2nd quarter and would follow that effort up in the last quarter with a desperate chase down tackle that should have been rewarded and then followed up again with a crunching tackle but gave away the free kick which was dissipating for Molan who showed great determination and really should have been rewarded. Molan started back but was moved to the wing in the 2nd half using his desperate defence all over the ground finishing with 13 disposals and 4 marks.

#8 Josh Gibcus

It’s been an outstanding season so far for the athletic key defender Gibcus who has proved why he has been called up to represent the AFL Academy in their game against Geelong VFL with another fantastic performance down back taking intercept marks with ease.Just about every one of his 9 marks for the day where intercepts, a lot of them took the eye but non more-so than a contested intercept mark in the 3rd quarter and although he turned the ball over after the mark was no less impressive showing of his great leap and timing to mark overhead. Gibcus was just as adept at ground level shaping great composure and agility on multiple occasions deep in defence able to sell a bit of candy which is impressive for a 195cm prospect. Gibcus finished the game with 17 disposals, 9 marks and 5 rebound 50s to further enhance his draft stocks.

#10 Blake Scott

The bulldogs NGA prospect has started the year in fine form and the speedy forward again caused havoc for opposition defenders with an exciting display. Despite a quiet start to the game Scott just got better as the game went on and really hit his straps in the second half as he seemed to be everywhere inside 50 popping up to hit the scoreboard but he wouldn’t kick a goal until the last quarter with a nice set shot goal from the pocket. Scott also did well to set up a goal using his trademark dash to escape his opponents and handball of to a teammate over the top running into open goal, Scott finished the game with 20 disposals, 5 marks, 6 inside 50s and kicked 1.3 in another strong game.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

Improving with every game the elusive wingman made that position his own proving pretty of run and creativity using his eye catching agility to get around opponents with ease and dispose of the ball well. Ballantyne did well to push back into defence to help his teammates highlighted with a good spoil going back with the flight showing he had a good defensive side to his attacking style of play with the ball. An elusive and composed player on the wing Ballantyne finished the game with 22 disposals, 8 marks and 6 inside 50s playing the wing role very well.

#16 Kai Lohmann

The exciting forward put together his most complete performance so far this year showing of his athleticism and skills consistently over the 4 quarters highlighting his impressive speed and leap. His best bit of play came in the 2nd quarter with an awesome run from half back starting inside defensive 50 where he took on multiple players while also taking multiple bounces aswell to finally kick inside 50 in a great show of athleticism and what he is capable of. The last quarter highlighted all of his best traits with a leap from the back of the pack and some nice plays deep in the forwardline in one instance going back with the flight and creating a contest and then quickly put on forward pressure. Lohmann finished the game with 19 disposals, 5 marks and 6 tackles and although he didn’t kick any goals himself with 3 behinds he helped set up he helped create so many opportunities