Tag: QAFL

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2020

COMBINES, All-Star showcases, and state league finals have brought new life to the 2020 AFL Draft scene, as budding prospects around the nation look to prove their worth ahead of that one day in (likely) early-December. Victorian talents remain in the unknown, but feature aplenty in our list which has undergone a series of minor shuffles. In Draft Central’s latest Power Rankings, the form guide has shot out to 30 names; compared to 25 in our September analysis, and 20 in both August and July.

Among the fresh faces, a South Australian bolter enters the top 25, while two Fremantle Next-Generation Academy (NGA) prospects make their way onto the board alongside a highly-touted Sydney Swans Academy gun. All that, and more in our October Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

September Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

September Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, McDonald has showcased his game-winning ability from forward of centre in 2020 – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

September Ranking: #3

Last Month: McDonald showed off his endurance at last week’s West Australian combine, scoring third in the 2km time trial. On-field, the key forward capped off his season by helping Perth qualify for the WAFL League finals for the first time in over 20 years, but was kept goalless in the Demons’ week one loss. He booted one major the week before, and managed three against Swan Districts before Denver Grainger-Barras was switched onto him.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

September Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to showcase his high-level athleticism at the West Australian combine; scoring third in the running vertical jump (left), fifth in the 20-metre sprint, and second in the agility test. After a terrific outing against Logan McDonald’s Perth, the prolific defender rounded out his season with just six disposals and two marks as Swan Districts failed to make finals.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

September Ranking: #5

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 201cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they have most been looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

September Ranking: #6

Last Month: The West Adelaide bigman has battled through injury trouble over the last month, unable to get back on the park at SANFL League level despite being named. A niggling groin injury also kept him from testing at the South Australian combine.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

September Ranking: #7

Last Month: The exciting Swans Academy prospect booted a goal in each of his three AFL Sydney Premier Division outings for Pennant Hills in September. The Demons won two of those games, but lost most recently in their lone finals dig against St George. The NSW/ACT combine on October 25 will be Campbell’s next point of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

September Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in nearly all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

September Ranking: #10

Last Month: Jones is another to have missed some football over the past month, but thankfully not much. An ankle injury kept him from testing at the recent South Australian combine, and also saw him miss Round 14 in the SANFL. After some hit-and-miss form, the big-bodied defender returned in week one of the finals with 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s as his Eagles went down to North Adelaide.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture having already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

September Ranking: #11

Last Month: O’Driscoll finished off his top-age campaign as a regular fixture in Perth’s League midfield. While a disposal average of 11 over his last three games does not jump off the page, O’Driscoll looked composed on the ball and was able to impact defensively as well. He runs all day, and proved as much my finishing second in WA’s 2km time trial. He also came runner-up in the 20-metre sprint, while taking out the agility test. He boasts an impressive speed-endurance mix through midfield.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#11 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

September Ranking: #9

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 192cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 192cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and looked set to prove lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

September Ranking: #12

Last Month: Davies has been inactive due to an elbow injury sustained in August, missing out on Broadbeach’s run to the QAFL Seniors Grand Final.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

September Ranking: #13

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

September Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 90kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

September Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury. Earned a National Combine invite for September 30 but did not participate.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

September Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman earned a League call-up in Round 8, but saw his senior stint prove one-and-done after 11 disposals against Claremont. He made a terrific return to the Colts level with 24 disposals and eight marks against eventual premier Subiaco, before managing 16 disposals and six marks amid tough conditions as the Falcons went down to East Fremantle in a preliminary final. He was an impressive performer at the combine too, faring well in the 2km time trial.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

September Ranking: #17

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, local, and school football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

September Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#19 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 192cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australian colours last year.

September Ranking: #23

Last Month: Poulter’s stocks have risen not only on the back of a Reserves call-up and some solid form, but also due to his outstanding combine results. The tall midfielder came fourth in South Australia’s 20-metre sprint, second in the running vertical jump (right), and fifth in the 2km time trial. On-field, he managed four Reserves outings before returning to the Under 18s with a bang, booting two goals from 18 disposals. He also managed 20 touches in the Eagles’ finals win over South Adelaide, most recently. Poulter has spent a bit of time on a wing, and boasts great versatility in the sense that he can also roam forward or impact on the inside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#20 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

September Ranking: #19

Last Month: Despite Swan Districts’ inability to make finals, Trew finished his WAFL Colts campaign on a high. The inside midfielder was seemingly teased with a senior call-up, but instead racked up 22 and 32 disposals in his final two Colts appearances. He also laid a combined 19 tackles in those games, and took part in the West Australian draft combine. Trew achieved a much more consistent run this season, despite some slight injury troubles.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

September Ranking: #18

Last Month: Calf tightness restricted Powell in light of the recent South Australian combine, and he seemed to carry the same niggle into his latest game. The midfielder returned a rare performance of under 20 disposals in Sturt’s semi final loss to Norwood, but averaged 31.7 disposals and 8.3 clearances across his other three September appearances. It will take something big to keep him down for a second week, as he looks to help the Double Blues qualify for an Under 18s Grand Final.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

September Ranking: #21

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#23 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

A fresh face to last month’s expanded list, Carroll has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

September Ranking: #22

Last Month: Carroll’s season ended after he suffered a broken wrist in Round 8 of the WAFL Colts, having run out the game against Subiaco to collect 18 disposals. He still managed to test at the West Australian combine, achieving second place in the standing vertical jump, and fifth in the running jumps off either foot. He faces a race against time to play in the upcoming All-Star fixtures.

>> Draft Watch

#24 Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Search for the 2020 AFL Draft bolter, and Cook’s name is likely the one you’ll find top of any list. The South Adelaide prospects has come from the clouds to not only put himself within draft contention, but right up into top 25 calculations. Plying his trade either up on a wing or inside forward 50, Cook is a game-winner who is capable of kicking bags of goals and taking eye-catching marks. His size allows him to not just rely on his vertical leap, but also out-work his opponents one-on-one, with his terrific goal sense often helping finish the job. Having put his name on the map, the wingman/forward can now look forward to featuring among his state’s All-Star showcase.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Cook enhanced his draft stocks with some handy combine results; coming fifth in the 20-metre sprint, fourth in the standing vertical jump, and fifth again in the running vertical jump (right). Most recently, he was kept goalless as South Adelaide bowed out of the Under 18s finals race, though Cook has proven his worth with a bag of five goals this month, and two majors in every other effort.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

September Ranking: #25

Last Month: The NT native took part in the recent Queensland combine, while also starring in the NT All-Stars game with three goals. He was utilised as a lead-up forward in that outing, the position he is said to prefer, although he is arguably just as good as an interceptor down back.

>> Draft Watch

#26 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 183cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

September Ranking: #24

Last Month: A sore foot post WAFL Colts finals football kept Walker from performing at the WA combine, though he has shown some handy form on-field. The defender averaged 18 disposals over his last four games, and managed 15 in East Fremantle’s preliminary final loss to Subiaco. He has been named at centre half-back most weeks, but loves to break the lines and deliver forward. He’ll be a half-back at the next level.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 186cm | 80kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 186cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#29 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the bigtime, Gulden has long been a highly-touted prospect. The small utility broke through to claim the Division 2 MVP award at the 2018 Under 16 National Championships, racking up mountains of the ball and kicking bags of goals. Since, he has carried such form into his outings with the Swans Academy, while also playing senior footy in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, and representing the Allies Under 18s last year. The crafty mover is small, but holds his own and is as naturally talent a prospect as there is this year.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Gulden’s month began brightly with two goals, and second-best afield honours as his AFL Sydney Premier Division side beat the Inner West Magpies. He returned against the North Shore Bombers but was held goalless, with a Grand Final appearance against Sydney University and the NSW/ACT combine his next points of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#30 Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Fremantle’s NGA talent program has proven one of the more successful producers of AFL-level players since its inception, and Western is one of a few highly touted prospects set to take the next step in 2020. The Claremont captain took his side to a second consecutive WAFL Colts Grand Final after last year’s premiership triumph, overcoming some early injury concerns to run out an outstanding season. The small midfielder is all-class through the engine room, able to zip out of traffic and deliver the ball forward with freakish skill. As will be expected at the elite level, Western is also capable of playing up forward and even across half-back, making him a player with plenty of upside for Dockers fans to look forward to.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Claremont’s Colts Grand Final commitments saw Western become unavailable for the WA combine, though it mattered little given his on-field performance. Playing predominantly through midfield, Western raised his stocks with a consistent end to the year, averaging 23 disposals across his last three games. He stands up in big games and can find the goals, making for a couple more handy points of difference.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent combines and finals football has brought out the best in a lot of players, who may be flirting with top 30-40 contention. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase was recently best afield for Prince Alfred College in the SA All Schools Cup Grand Final, while Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield lit up the South Australian combine. Zac Dumesny made a solid return from injury in the SANFL Under 18s, as did Luke Edwards in the Reserves. The likes of Corey Durdin and Luke Pedlar remain sidelined, however.

Over in WA, Isiah Winder was another to test well in his state’s combine, while Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen and Claremont’s Jack Avery have shot into draft contention on the back of fantastic finals series. Vanirsen took out the Jack Clarke Medal and was also named best afield in the WAFL Colts Grand Final, which the Lions won.

Brodie Lake‘s impressive All-Stars outing and combine results will have Gold Coast fans smiling, as the NT native falls under their Darwin zoning. Brisbane Academy members Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier recently helped Morningside upset Broadbeach in the QAFL Seniors Grand Final, while Tasmanian Jackson Callow was in a rich vein of form before being injured.

Victorians Connor Downie, Jake Bowey, Max Heath, and Cody Brand are among those also around the mark.

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors Grand Final preview – Broadbeach vs. Morningside

AFTER nine regular season rounds and two enthralling weeks of finals, it all comes down to this. Undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach meets Morningside (2nd, 7-1) in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Grand Final on Saturday afternoon, and there is plenty of young talent primed to impact on the big stage.

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns in action across the two best sides in the competition, including a bunch of Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy products. We take a look at who shone when the sides previously met in 2020, while also touching on the strengths of some budding AFL Draft prospects in action.

2020 QAFL Grand Final

Broadbeach vs. Morningside
Saturday, September 26 | 2:30pm
Leyshon Park, Yeronga

Previous meeting…

Round 9 – Broadbeach 13.16 (94) def. Morningside 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Broadbeach: C. Nutting 3, C. Cameron 3, J. Moncrieff 2, J. Fisher 2, R. Gilmore, B. Chadwick, B. Reeves
Morningside: L. Edwards 2, M. Hammelmann, S. Crozier, E. Mallan, B. Coleman

BEST:

Broadbeach: K. Boakye, E. Reeves, M. Lower, C. Cameron, B. Lowe, S. Mills
Morningside: W. Pendlebury, E. Mallan, L. Russ, R. William, B. Kethro, H. Joyce

It took until the final home-and-away round for the season’s two undefeated outfits to meet, with Broadbeach the side which would stand clear after a statement-making 50-point victory. The Cats’ range of scoring options ensure they pulled away strongly in the second half, overcoming some early woes in front of goal to put Morningside to the sword. Usual suspect and former Gold Coast forward Connor Nutting booted three goals in the winning effort, with fellow SUNS Academy graduate Ryan Gilmore and Bailey Reeves also hitting the scoreboard. For the Panthers, who showed plenty of room for improvement, current Brisbane Academy prospects Saxon Crozier and Blake Coleman also found the big sticks, but 24-year-old leading goalkicker Matt Hammelmann was kept to just one major in a big tick for Broadbeach’s defence.

The finals journey…

After both earning a week’s rest as the top two ranked teams, the preliminary finals proved a relatively straightforward stage for either side. Broadbeach scrapped to beat Sherwood, who employed some defensive tactics, to the tune of 43 points to book its spot in the decider. It should prove a handy tune-up for the Cats as their defence held up well, though the finishing up forward could do with some sharpening. Meanwhile, Morningside held off a pesky Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) to advance via a 19-point victory. Crozier, Coleman, and Hammelmann were all again among the goals, but Victorian recruit Matthew McGannon was named best afield for his efforts through midfield. The Panthers will need another big effort from their forwards this coming Saturday.

Ones to watch…

A race against time will determine whether leading Queensland draft prospect Alex Davies returns to action for Broadbeach. The big-bodied inside midfielder has only managed one outing for the Cats in 2020, and is recovering from an elbow injury which saw him miss the Academy Series. It could be a risk to play him ahead of next month’s draft combine, but he would add clean extraction skills in what is usually the most hotly contested game of the season.

Conversely, another current SUNS Academy player in Aiden Fyfe promises to break the game open for Broadbeach, with his sharp ball use by foot and outside run making for valuable assets when the Cats are in need of a spark. Set to be stationed either off half-back or on the wing, Fyfe looms as a good counter to some of Morningside’s runners. Namely, Saxon Crozier‘s capacity to penetrate on the outer will be a key to much of the Panthers’ success, along with Blake Coleman‘s creativity in attack. Both make up two of the leading Lions Academy prospects for 2020, and have adjusted well to senior football.

Staying with the midfield battle, Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves has a good mix of ball-winning traits both inside and out, and should battle well against the likes of Toby Triffett and Matthew McGannon, two of Morningside’s prime movers. Up forward, livewire small Josh Gore will look to go big having turned heads in his over-age year. The SUNS Academy graduate should keep a Panthers defence which boasts Nathan Colenso busy alongside the likes of Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore. Both Gore and Nutting have booted 17 goals this season.

Tip: Broadbeach by 15

Featured Image: Broadbeach young guns Alex Davies and Josh Gore celebrate after a goal | Source: Russell Freeman Photography

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors weekend preview – Semi Finals

AFTER nine regular season rounds and a bumper elimination weekend, semi-finals time has arrived in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL). Week two of the postseason sees the top couple of sides return from a week off; as undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach hosts Sherwood (4th, 4-4), while Morningside (2nd, 7-1) takes on Palm Beach Currumbin (3rd, 6-2).

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns who will look to make a splash on the big stage this weekend. Get to know the prominent Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy players set to take the field, as well as the other young prospects who have impressed over the course of the season.

Semi Final 1:

Broadbeach vs. Sherwood
Saturday, September 19 | 2:30pm
Subaru Oval, Broadbeach

Sherwood will hope an upset is brewing when it travels to face undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach on Saturday. While the Cats were able to put their feet up in a well-earned bye week, the Magpies toiled for a five-point win in their knockout clash with Maroochydore. The competitive nature of the game should bode well for the underdogs, who could jump the highly-fancied hosts out the gates. Conversely, it could see Broadbeach come in the much fresher side.

The Cats’ bench is littered with young talent, headlined by prolific goalkicking small, Josh Gore. The crafty forward booted four majors in the Round 4 meeting between these two sides in 2020, so will again look to make a splash. Fellow Gold Coast SUNS Academy members Aiden Fyfe and Bailey Reeves join Gore on the five-man interchange, both top-aged prospects. Fyfe is a terrific user of the ball on the outer, while Reeves can play both sides of midfield and find plenty of the pill. 20-year-old SUNS Academy graduates Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore have both been named up forward for Broadbeach. Meanwhile, leading Queensland prospect Alex Davis remains on the sidelines with an elbow injury.

Over-age Brisbane Lions Academy gun Bruce Reville again takes his spot up on the wing for Sherwood, looking to provide plenty of drive going forward. Look for him to potentially rotate through the front six, or even into the centre bounces should the Magpies require a spark. Raw 20-year-old tall Samson Ryan will ply his trade in the ruck, with the ultra-athletic Jack Briskey set to provide some key position support from the bench. Fellow Lions Academy top-ager Connor Bulley has been named as an emergency for Sherwood.

Semi Final 2:

Morningside vs. Palm Beach Currumbin
Saturday, September 19 | 2:30pm
Jack Esplen Oval, Morningside

Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) will be tasked with completing a 52-point turnaround against Morningside since the two sides’ previous clash in Round 8, as they meet again at the semi-final stage. The Lions enjoyed a 50-plus point win of their own to advance to this stage, having finished just one game shy of the Panthers in third. Last week’s hitout puts PBC in winning form, but is hardly the competitive finals outing they may have sought before this clash.

A couple of leading Brisbane Lions Academy prospects – Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier – again take their place in the Panthers’ side. Coleman will look to rotate forward off the bench, providing clean hands and speed at all levels. Crozier will ply his trade off half-back with a booming kick and outside run in his arsenal. Another academy product, Toby Triffett comes in on the bench alongside Coleman, while Nathan Colenso has been named at full back, and 20-year-old Gippsland Power graduate Matthew McGannon roams through midfield.

Exciting smalls Ethan Hunt and Liam O’Brien will look to provide plenty of drive for PBC on the outside, having both fit in on the Lions’ interchange alongside 19-year-old Ashton Crossley. Top-age Gold Coast Academy prospect Jack Johnston comes in at centre half-back and will have his hands full, while Riley Buckland is another to keep an eye on with his run and attack in the forward half. Former Northern Knight Jamison Shea, who averages over two goals per game, should also make an impact in the front six.

Featured Image: Blake Coleman hunts the ball for Morningside | Source: RF Photography

QAFL Player focus: Carter Michael (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

IN our latest edition of the Player Focus, we take a look at how Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Carter Michael fared in Maroochydore’s QAFL Elimination Final against Sherwood. Although his side went down by five points, Michael showed glimpses of why Brisbane fans should be excited about his potential. His strongest asset is his booming left foot kick, which makes him an ideal person to take the kick ins for his side. Most of his disposals in Saturday’s final came from kick ins as a result, but he had some effective moments in general play as well.

Q1:

Despite spending time in the midfield during last week’s clash, Michael started this game on his customary half-back flank. He was in the thick of the action straight away, running past for a handball receive that did not quite him as he would have liked. Once the ball hit the deck, he dove into congestion to cause a stoppage. He started the game with a defensive approach, as he stayed very tight on his opponent and did not run off to provide an attacking option as much as usual. At a stoppage in the defensive 50, Michael won a contested possession but was immediately tackled for a ball up. A few minutes later, he ran hard in transition to pick up a loose ball in defensive 50, got the arms free of an oncoming tackler and dished out a handball.

After a Sherwood behind, Michael took the kick in and used his booming left foot to get the ball to a contest just in behind centre wing, and it trickled over the boundary line. He tried to be more conservative with his next kick in by going short to the pocket, but uncharacteristically he missed his target and it went out on the full. With his next one, Michael chose to go long to a contest down the line. Sherwood kicked 14 points for the match and Michael received 11 or 12 extra kicks as a result.

Late in the quarter, Michael started to get more involved in the game. Shortly after laying a solid tackle in defensive 50 to stop Sherwood’s forward momentum and force a stoppage, he ran around the back of a teammate that received a free kick and delivered a beautiful short pass to a teammate leading up on the wing. When Sherwood next went inside 50, he flew as a third man up into a marking contest to spoil the ball nicely over the boundary line.

Q2:

Michael had a very quiet second term. He took a kick in at the seven-minute mark and went long down the middle and hit ruckman Jacob Simpson lace out. This kick was fantastic because it opened up the game for his side and cleared the defensive zone.

He also had a nice moment where he contested a mark at half-back, collected the ball with one take at ground level and then dished it forwards cleanly to two running teammates. This started a great passage of offensive transition play which resulted in a goal over the back of Sherwood’s defence. Although Michael did not have any impact for the remainder of the quarter, his side was playing well and went into half time with a 10-point lead.

Q3:

Michael took another kick in early in the third where he went long down the line. Although it was marked by the opposition, this was because his teammate did not read the flight of the ball well. From his next kick in a minute later, he went up the middle and found a teammate in the centre square in between three Sherwood players. This was an incredibly difficult kick to pinpoint, yet he had the confidence to go for it (in a tight elimination final, no less) and executed it effectively which was outstanding.

His next kick was from an out-on-the-full free kick in the back pocket, from which he cleared the defensive zone and found a teammate on the wing. Although most of his kicks were great, at this stage they were all coming from behinds or other free kicks, which showed that Michael was struggling to find his own footy in general play.

At the 11-minute mark, Michael ran back to take a nice intercept mark in front of Sherwood’s Zane Lovell. He followed it up by delivering a nice short kick to a teammate on the wing. From his next kick in, Michael smartly ran wide to push the defenders in that direction before pulling his kick straight down the corridor to find teammate Thomas Holt. It was very windy at this point, so Michael’s ability to hit a flat 50 metre kick was very handy for his side coming out of defence.

Michael went up for another intercept mark in defence shortly after, but he and his teammate got in each other’s way. Fortunately for them, the crumber for Sherwood only snapped a behind. With that kick in, he went long to a contest on the wing. A few minutes later, Michael got a handball receive and fumbled it, but cleaned up his own mess and handballed back to an open teammate.

There was a lot of spice in the game late in this quarter, and the ball was consistently locked in Maroochydore’s defensive 50. Sherwood failed to take their chances though, so Michael had a couple more kick ins where he just went long to one-on-one contests on the wing. He and the other defenders held up well under immense pressure and got their side to three quarter time with a 20-point lead.

Picture: RF Photography


Q4:

At the opening centre bounce of the final term, Michael came off the back of the square, collected the ball cleanly, used his pace to break away with a few quick steps and delivered the ball inside 50. This is the type of running play that Michael has done well in the last few weeks but did not do often on Saturday. After the next stoppage, Sherwood got the ball forward but Michael worked back to take the ball cleanly and dish it out the back to a teammate.

From a kick in, Michael found a teammate 50 metres away for an uncontested mark. This was an important kick to hit because Sherwood had just slotted back-to-back goals so his side was under the pump. At the 12-minute mark, Michael gave an important handball over the top to start a link-up chain for his side down the wing. Shortly after, he affected a spoil on his opponent that was leading up at the ball carrier. Michael had two more kick ins where he simply bombed it long down the line to a contest, which was definitely the safest option at the time given that his side was only up by a goal.

When Sherwood kicked another goal and took the lead, Maroochydore’s coaching staff immediately threw Michael into the midfield. This demonstrated how much trust they have in him as a young player, and he rewarded them by having a decent impact in there. He got a couple of quick touches, rushed an important kick forward and applied good body pressure on the opposition. On the back of good midfield work from Michael and others, Maroochydore had multiple shots on goal and took a one point lead late in the quarter. However, they could not capitalise on the hard work by kicking a goal.

Sherwood and former Brisbane Lions player Ryan Harwood then kicked a miraculous goal from a stoppage in Sherwood’s forward pocket to put them five points ahead. A few minutes later, the siren sounded and Sherwood ran out victors in a thriller.

Closing Thoughts:

Competing in an elimination final at League level will prove valuable experience for Michael, as this level of football is not something that many young prospects get exposed to. His skills were typically outstanding throughout the game, and there is no doubt that his left foot will be a major weapon at any level of football that he plays. He has shown in recent weeks that he is also a good contested player, but he did not get many opportunities to showcase this on Saturday. In saying that, it was great to see Michael get some midfield time late in the contest after his inspired bursts in that role last weekend. Although half-back is probably his strongest position at this stage, he has a great size and speed that could help him become a very effective midfielder in the years to come.

For more news and updates about the AFL Draft, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors weekend preview – Elimination Finals

AFTER nine regular season rounds, finals time has arrived in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL), with the top six sides set to battle it out for premiership glory. Week one provides a pair of elimination finals, as Sherwood (4th, 4-4) hosts Maroochydore (5th, 4-4), while Palm Beach Currumbin (3rd, 6-2) takes on Mt Gravatt (6th, 3-5). Undefeated minor premier Broadbeach and second-placed Morningside (7-1) await in the semi finals stage, and have both earned a week off.

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central narrows its focus to the young guns who will look to make a splash on the big stage this weekend. Get to know the prominent Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy players set to take the field, as well as the other young prospects who have impressed over the course of the season.

Elimination Final 1:

Sherwood vs. Maroochydore
Saturday, September 12 | 2:00pm
McCarthy Homes Oval

Two sides with identical records will do battle as Sherwood takes on Maroochydore in the first elimination final, set to play out at McCarthy Homes Oval. The clash serves as somewhat of a reverse fixture to the clubs’ Round 6 meeting, which the ‘Roos won by 31 points on home turf. Despite that result, it’s the Magpies who hold a superior ladder position on account of their percentage buffer.

Bruce Reville is a name which jumps off the hosts’ team sheet, named at half-forward. An over-aged Brisbane Lions Academy member, Reville ran out in this year’s Academy Series in between his five outings for Sherwood. Listed at 185cm, Reville is a smooth moving and versatile prospect who can play both sides of midfield, and find the goals while stationed up forward. He proved as much with two goals against Labrador last week and his run-and-carry could serve to open up the contested nature of finals football.

Fellow Lions Academy products Jack Briskey and Connor Bulley have both been named as emergencies for the Magpies, while former academy ruckman Samson Ryan has been tasked with the ruck duties. Briskey, a promising athlete with raw potential, faces a fight to squeeze back into the side despite recently earning a National Combine invite.

Potentially a matchup for Reville on Maroochydore’s side is Carter Michael, one of the leading Lions AFL Draft prospects in 2020. The 187cm left-footer moves well and while he may start on the wing, can also move to half-back or into the midfield. Another couple of academy products will line up for the ‘Roos, with 19-year-old bigman Max McDonald named on the bench, while top-ager Ben Thomas slots in at half-back for just his third game at the level in 2020.

This game promises to be a cracker, with both sides evenly matched across the park and some young talent primed to make an impact. With even more prospects waiting in the wings for a late change, all of the aforementioned players could prove game-changers for either side.

Elimination Final 2:

Palm Beach Currumbin vs. Mt Gravatt
Saturday, September 12 | 2:00pm
Salk Oval

Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) will fancy its chances of advancing into week two of finals, but can take nothing for granted as Mt Gravatt comes to town. The Lions are the top-ranked side in action this week, and come up against the only finalist with a negative record. The Vultures will be up against it, especially given they went down to PBC by 48 points just last week.

18-year-old Liam O’Brien is among the young Lions to be taking the field, named alongside former Suns Academy midfielder Ashton Crossley on the bench. O’Brien is a state Under 16 representative who can craft on the outside, while Crossley provides a big body on the inside. The Lions have also named Riley Buckland, a promising 19-year-old who has played into some great late-season form and retains his senior spot. Ethan Hunt was not so lucky, listed as an emergency after seven top flight appearances.

Diminutive, but tough Lions Academy bottom-agers Lochlan Harrop and Sam Winterbottom are both set to line up for Mt Gravatt, named in the midfield and forwardline respectively. Harrop should bring some good hardness and versatility to the fore, while Winterbottom is a classy small who could wreak havoc inside 50. Others around the academy traps to be named include Ethan Kerr (interchange) and Zac Young (half-forward). While the deck is stacked against Mt Gravatt, the Vultures’ young talent should benefit from the finals experience, and give it a red-hot crack against good opposition. The Lions’ experience depth bode well for them after a solid regular season. They’ll be raring to go.

Featured Image: PBC’s Ashton Crossley gets a kick away | Credit: Jerad Williams/Gold Coast Bulletin

Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2020

THE VERDICT is in after another terrific month of football from the latest crop of budding AFL draftees. Victorian prospects remain starved of action, but the best and brightest from around the nation have been stamping their claims, making for some interesting movers and sliders. In Draft Central‘s third Power Rankings edition for 2020, we extend our list out to 25 names, with key adjustments made to our initial July and August analyses. A certain West Australian key forward continues to rise steeply, while the Northern Territory gains a representative in the extended cut. All that, and more in our September Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

August Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

August Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 85kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, expect McDonald to better showcase his game-winning ability from forward of centre – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

August Ranking: #9

Last Month: McDonald has been arguably the most consistent key position performer of all the players on this list; at the highest possible level, no less. He now sits second in the WAFL League goalkicking charts, having booted 13 goals across his five August/September outings. He boasts 20 goals in seven games overall, and has not yet failed to kick multiple goals. Even if he is having a quiet patch, McDonald has been able to make an impact and take full toll with what the Perth midfielders deliver his way. He will continue to provide a focal point as the Demons push for finals, with his conversion from range, marking on the lead, and one-on-one work deep inside 50 all excellent for his age.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 195cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

August Ranking: #4

Last Month: Another consistent performer, Grainger-Barras is still capable of delivering some ‘wow’ moments. Most recently, he produced a starring second half against McDonald and the Perth Demons, bouncing back from a lacklustre opening half to help Swan Districts power to victory. While he is still quite light for a key position prospect, Grainger-Barras showed he is not afraid to wear contact on that day, leaping for some incredible intercept marks while directly opposed to his State Under 18s teammate. He may get knocked around a touch, but loves a bit of niggle and stands up against mature bodies. Over the past month, the 18-year-old averaged 11.6 disposals and 5.2 marks per his five games, good enough to hold his spot.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

August Ranking: #3

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 200cm | 99kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 200cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they are most looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

August Ranking: #5

Last Month: West Adelaide has managed Thilthorpe over the last two weeks as he nurses a groin complaint, bringing an end to his streak of nine-straight League appearances since Round 1. The bigman had been enjoying some time in a variety of roles; from his usual key forward post, to some added responsibility in the ruck rotation, and even venturing up onto a wing. In his four August outings, Thilthorpe was kept goalless thrice, averaging 11.8 disposals, four marks, and over 12 hitouts to be squeezed just outside of the top five. He still has runs on the board and hopefully gets back into the swing of things to finish off the SANFL season.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

August Ranking: #6

Last Month: Campbell returned to AFL Sydney Premier Division football this past weekend for Pennant Hills, booting a goal in the Demons’ 80-point victory over East Coast. That came after he turned out twice for the Sydney Swans Academy, helping his side claim Academy Series points over the GWS GIANTS Academy on both occasions. He looked a class above in those outings, able to win the ball at will through midfield, while showcasing his versatility and remaining a goalkicking threat going forward.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

August Ranking: #7

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain is set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He is also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro should the Vics get on the park, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

August Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#10 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 185cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

August Ranking: #12

Last Month: Jones remains the sole South Australian Under 18 on this list to have turned out at League level for every round this season, as he goes from strength to strength. The Eagles are in the box seat to take out the minor premiership, with the Port Adelaide NGA prospect an established part of the side’s defence in a variety of roles. In his six outings since August 1, Jones has averaged 11.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, and four rebound 50s, returning to his best with 16 touches and eight rebounds against North Adelaide in Round 11. He has consistently been able to intercept, play both tall and small, and rebound effectively against mature bodies, bumping him up to #10.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#11 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture haven already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

August Ranking: #13

Last Month: After his third and final Colts outing in early-August, O’Driscoll earned a Reserves berth in Round 5, before being immediately promoted to the League side. After a steady debut, O’Driscoll has racked up 20 and 15 disposals over the last fortnight, benefitting from being allowed an extended run through midfield. The 18-year-old has showcased his toughness and hard-running ability at senior level, leaving nothing left in the tank. He works hard for his possessions and is equally as relevant in his defensive duties for the most part. There has been some conjecture about his range, we feel his current form and future scope lands him just outside the top 10.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 191cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 191cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and should prove a key figure among the Allies squad in 2020.

August Ranking: #10

Last Month: Davies was set to line up for the Gold Coast SUNS in August’s Academy Series, but suffered an elbow injury which ruled him out of action early in the month. He faces a race against the clock to return in time for Broadbeach’s upcoming QAFL finals campaign, which begins next week for the minor premiers.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

August Ranking: #11

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 92kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

August Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury, but earned a National Combine invite for September 30.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#15 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

August Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 193cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Chapman is the only new player inside this month’s top 20, rising all the way up to #16 on the back of some impressive form. From Rounds 3 to 6 in the WAFL Colts, Chapman averaged a remarkable 25.8 disposals and 8.8 marks down back, enough to earn him a League debut this past weekend. The 18-year-old reeled in five marks among his 11 touches, making for a promising start to life at senior level. With the ability to mark and use the ball so efficiently for his size, Chapman is a player with plenty of desirable traits. West Perth is in the finals race, so hopefully Chapman can hold his League spot and impress under post-season pressure.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. Should Victorian prospects finally be allowed back onto the park in 2020, expect Henry to be one who could rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

August Ranking: #17

Last Month: Henry ran out for St Joseph’s all the way back in the first week of August, battling both with and against plenty of his Geelong Falcons teammates. The 187cm prospect booted two goals for Joey’s against Geelong College in a more forward-oriented role, and was also named among his side’s best players. He has since been inactive due to fixture cancellations and a lack of NAB League football.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

August Ranking: #18

Last Month: Powell was teased with senior selection after amassing a whopping 47 disposals, 10 clearances, and two goals in Round 10, but continues to plug away at Under 18s level. It is there where the prolific midfielder has averaged nearly 36 disposals and nine clearances across his last five games, remaining atop the charts in both areas despite missing out in Round 9. The Double Blues maestro has also added goals to his game, booting seven from midfield in the last month. His numbers stack up as well as anyone in the draft pool, but whether he can maintain that output at senior level obviously remains to be seen.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#19 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

August Ranking: #16

Last Month: Another prospect who has flirted with senior promotion, Trew only really finds himself sliding down a few spots due to others’ promotions. Barring an injury-stricken outing at the start of August, the Swan Districts product has been at his ball winning best. Having returned from his lay-off due to concussion, Trew has averaged 27 disposals across his last three WAFL Colts outings. A senior berth may prove tough to crack given the Swans’ winning effort last time out, with only one more game in any grade possible due as the regular season comes to a close this week – Swan Districts have also not made finals in any competition. He did earn a National Combine invite though, and will have the opportunity to impress in Western Australia’s All-Star fixture pegged for October.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#20 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

August Ranking: #19

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

August Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#22 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Another entirely fresh face on our list, Carroll’s name is unearthed due to our expansion to an order of 25. That is not to say that he would not have featured otherwise, with the East Fremantle product a player who has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 188cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: This week will serve as Carroll’s last chance to earn senior selection before finals, though East Fremantle is only really in that frame across the Reserves and Colts grades. He would inevitably come into consideration after an outstanding performance against Claremont in Round 7, collecting 31 disposals and booting two goals as the Sharks knocked off their highly-fancied opponents. In five games over the past month, Carroll has averaged 23.4 disposals to put himself right among the top 20 mix. For us, he remains just outside it for now at #22, but has all the class to move on up.

>> Draft Watch

#23 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australia colours last year.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Poulter earned a call-up to the Eagles’ Reserves side in Round 10, booting a goal on debut and retaining his spot in the latest weekend of action. The League side will be tough to crack given its success this season, but the 190cm prospect will be keen to join fellow top-age gun, Lachlan Jones in the lineup. Prior to his promotion, Poulter averaged a tick under 28 disposals in his four Under 18s outings across August, generating plenty of forward momentum and hitting the scoreboard in two of those games. In that time, Poulter gained a big tick for his consistency and has found the ball in all areas of the ground, highlighting his versatility in production.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#24 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: Walker returns to our rankings as we expand the list, and has produced a solid month of football. The Dockers NGA hopeful has averaged bang-on 20 touches and over six marks across five games in August/September, with 74 per cent of his disposals in that time released via foot. These numbers are quite good for a prospect of his type, who pops up rather than accumulates. His marking ability, combined with speed and poise across the ground makes him a dual-pronged defensive outlet with plenty of weapons. While he is able to impact further afield and even find the goals, we feel Walker has showcased his best form at half-back.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 78kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

August Ranking: NR

Last Month: After a long waiting period since his last NTFL outing in February, Jeffrey returned to action with the Gold Coast SUNS as part of August’s Academy Series. He took part in game two against the Brisbane Lions Academy, and built into the contest well after a steady start. Having initially lined up down back, where he looks a touch more impactful as he drifts across to intercept, Jeffrey was swung forward in the second half and booted a goal. He looked lively with his turn of speed and athleticism, despite some scratchy moments early on.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

It is no secret now that South Australian Brayden Cook is bolting into top 25 calculations, as the South Adelaide wingman/forward continues to impress at Under 18s level. He remains just outside our rankings as others have more runs on the board, but another month of similar form would make him hard to ignore.

Errol Gulden has been in serious form in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, with 10 goals in his last three games – including a bag of six – putting him in the mix. West Australians Joel Western (Fremantle NGA) and Isiah Winder have also caught the eye, as the former made his return from injury, while the latter again earned a spot at League level for Peel Thunder.

Of the most unlucky Victorians to miss due to a lack of action, Bailey Laurie has previously featured in our top 20, while Hawthorn NGA prospect and Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie is also one to consider. Sandringham Dragons bigman Max Heath is a ruck prospect who lingers around the mark, along with Essendon NGA defender Cody Brand. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford also boast top 25 potential.

Back across in South Australia, small forward Corey Durdin made a short lived return from injury this week at SANFL League level, while Luke Edwards got back on the park in the Reserves. Zac Dumesny is still recovering from an ankle complaint, and all three are around the 30-35 range in our eyes.

All four Tasmania Academy hub members earned National Combine invites. Jackson Callow has been unleashed in a slightly different role down back, increasing his stocks of late in the TSL, with Oliver Davis proving consistent, and Patrick Walker continuing to show promising upside across half-back and on the wing.

QAFL weekend preview: Round 9 – Top two battle for minor premiership

A BATTLE to decide the minor premiership is what confronts top two sides, Broadbeach and Morningside this weekend, with the final round of Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) action taking place. Both sides have won every match thus far, to sit on seven wins from eight games – with one bye – heading into Round 9 of the competition prior to finals. Both teams will secure a top two spot, but first placed will take on the winner of fourth or fifth and avoid the third placed finisher in the preliminary finals.

While Broadbeach has had the much superior percentage – 239.39 per cent – Morningside has won a number of tight contests to ensure it sits on 28 points heading into the final round. Regardless of the match’s result, neither side can drop outside the top two. It is a similar story for third placed Palm Beach Currumbin that has had a strong season in response to its grand final loss last year, only dropping games to the top two sides. It has helped the Lions sit eight points clear of the mid-table crunch, and guarantee themselves third spot and facing sixth in the first week of finals.

Seven teams are still in contention for six spots, with effectively the clash between Maroochydore and Surfers Paradise determining the final spot on the ladder. Realistically, the Roos just need to be avoid getting smashed, as they are 15 per cent clear of the reigning premiers who have had just the two wins this season and had a couple of of forgettable matches in 2020. If Maroochydore win – or at least do not lose by a considerable amount – then they will play finals and potentially move up a spot in the process. The Demons must win if they are to be any chance of defending their 2019 title, but in counter contrasting to the Roos, must win, and win well. Roughly around an eight-goal win – depending on the scores – would be needed for an unlikely finals berth.

However, what makes it interesting is the fact that fifth placed Mt Gravatt – who take on Palm Beach Currumbin – hold a near-identical percentage to Maroochydore (just 1.27 per cent more). What that means is, it is possible for Surfers Paradise to have a win – realistically will need to still be a pretty healthy win – while getting into finals if Mt Gravatt suffers a disappointing loss. In the scenario that the Lions account for the Vultures well and the Demons win, then Maroochydore would actually move up to fifth despite the loss, and Mt Gravatt drop out of the six. However if Surfers only wins by a little and Mt Gravatt push the Lions, then Maroochydore can leapfrog Mt Gravatt, but the Vultures remain in sixth.

Sitting pretty in fourth is Sherwood, a side that holds its own destiny in its hands. Realistically the equation is simple – win and get third spot, lose and potentially drop as far as sixth. The Magpies have a superior percentage to the other 3-4 sides, with 98.91 per cent and no chance of any other side overtaking them on percentage – barring some 200-point shellacking – so they will have pole position in terms of home ground advantage for the elimination final if they can win. They will play one of the other three teams depending on the results, unless they lose and both Mt Gravatt and Maroochydore win, which means they will slip to sixth. They take on eighth placed Labrador which has avoided the wooden spoon – unless they cop a big loss and their percentage drops them below last placed Wilston Grange who have the bye.

Heading into the final round, Matt Hammelmann has the leading goalkicker award sewn up barring a big bag from one of his nearest rivals, having booted 33 goals in seven games at an impressive 4.7 goals per game. He leads another former Brisbane forward in Liam Dawson (26 goals in seven games), from Broadbeach’s Jordan Moncrieff (25 in six) and Maroochydore’s Mitchell Scholard (25). Young gun Josh Gore is fifth on the table with 16 goals in six games.

In terms of top performers for the season, Labrador duo Fraser Thurlow and Matthew Lee have stood up to be named in the best all seven times, as has Morningside’s Matthew Payne, and Wilston Grange’s Will McKenzie (seven from eight). Mt Gravatt’s Luke O’Sullivan and Maroochydore’ Jacob Simpson have featured in the best six times, while Hammelmann, Scholard, Palm Beach Currumbin’s Zac Harrison, Wilston Grange’s Isaac Corvo and Maroochydore’s Josh Govan, have all featured in the best on six occasions. When it comes to Rising Star possibilities, Wilston Grange’s Tahj Abberley, Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves, and Surfers Paradise duo Myles Jewell and Max Pescud are all among the mix.

QAFL ROUND 9 RESULTS:

Broadbeach vs. Morningside
Labrador vs. Sherwood
Palm Beach Currumbin vs. Mt Gravatt
Surfers Paradise vs. Maroochydore

Scouting Notes and Player Focus: QAFL – Round 8

IN a huge round of Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) action, the top two teams have secured their spots on the ladder heading into the final round of the season where they will face off for the minor premiership. Both Broadbeach and Morningside remain undefeated but that will change in Round 9 when they go head-to-head to determine who finishes on top of the table.

At the other end of the ladder, it looks like the top six sides are also locked in barring a huge loss in the final round, with Surfers Paradise now needing a massive percentage boost to jump into sixth, with Labrador and Wilston Grange ruled out being eight points behind sixth. Of the Round 8 results, Morningside’s 52-point thumping of Palm Beach Currumbin was the most impressive, while Broadbeach smacked Wilston Grange to the tune of 93 points. In the slightly closer games, Sherwood was too good for Surfers Paradise (28 points), and Maroochydore got the better of Labrador (26).

For this week, we focused on some of the outstanding Northern Academy members running around in the QAFL for the various sides in the four matches.

RESULTS:

Maroochydore 9.13 (67) defeated Labrador 6.5 (41)
Morningside 16.17 (113) defeated Palm Beach Currumbin 9.7 (61)
Sherwood 12.13 (85) defeated Surfers Paradise 8.9 (57)
Wilston Grange 4.7 (31) defeated Broadbeach 18.16 (124)

 

Scouting notes:

Maroochydore vs. Labrador – Tom Cheesman
Morningside vs. Palm Beach Currumbin – Tom Cheesman
Wilston Grange vs. Broadbeach – Peter Williams

 

Tahj Abberley (Wilston Grange) [Brisbane Lions]

Had another standout game for the Gorillas and just keeps winning the ball through the middle with ease. His attack on the ball and his quick disposal work in his favour, while his tackling pressure, and more specifically his technique are what makes him a tough player to shake even for much bigger opponents. Abberley’s ability to bounce up after being poleaxed is admirable, and he has just about the highest work rate going around. In terms of his disposal, he is more impactful when handballing to space, or being a link in the chain going forward running down the ground. When he is up and running, he is a huge metres-gained player, so has the advantage of often running 30-odd metres before kicking long down the ground and get it well out of the danger zone. His reading of the taps from the stoppage is also a highlight of his game, but his willingness to compete and keep it moving was great.

Shatna Cashen-Harris (Wilston Grange) [Brisbane Lions]

A raw prospect who hits the contest at a million miles an hour. His closing speed is worrying for an opposition player with the ball, and he spreads well around the ground to win it in space. His tackling is first class and when inside 50, he has the goal sense to be clever, such as a nice snap off the left eight minutes into the third quarter, which was unfortunately marked on the line. He did set up the first goal of the match by lowering his eyes and hitting up Angus O’Brien. As mentioned, Cashen-Harris is still a raw prospect because his kicking at times can be inconsistent and float in and out of games at times, but of his matches this year, it would definitely be up there with one of his more consistent efforts. Cashen-Harris can often also win free kicks for opponents holding onto him, knowing he has the breakaway speed to shake off opponents.

Blake Coleman (Morningside) [Brisbane Lions]

Coleman is one of the most exciting draft prospects to watch and had another fantastic performance in this clash. The Brisbane Lions Academy member spent a lot of time up forward, where he provided a great option for teammates coming out of defence and up the wings. Coleman has a good size and looked dangerous in marking contests, as he regularly used his athleticism to rise above opposition players and get his hands to the ball first. He always forced a second defender to go with him in the air to bring the ball to ground, thus creating more space for crumbers at his feet. Coleman also rolled through the midfield in short bursts, and his clearance work was definitely a highlight. He won many clearances and provided an electric moment in the first term where he burst through the front of a stoppage on the wing, collected the ball cleanly, took a bounce and then delivered a beautifully-weighted long kick to the advantage of his key forward. There was nothing Palm Beach’s defence could do in this situation and it was a great example of how unstoppable Coleman can be when in full flight. Around the ball he used quick hands effectively and laid some strong aggressive tackles, including a bone-crunching spear tackle in the second term. He can improve defensively with regards to running back and stopping opponents from getting cheap handballs around the back, but his work rate at stoppages was good. Coleman kicked two goals for the day, which were an amazing drop punt from the boundary and a clever snap around his body out of congestion. The youngster has the explosiveness and X-factor that many recruiters look for in draft prospects, and he will only get better with more experience at senior level.

Nathan Colenso (Morningside) [Gold Coast Suns]

Colenso played all across the ground for Morningside and did not seem out of place in any position. He started at half-back and played the role of positioning himself out the back of stoppages so that he could apply strong defensive pressure on attacking opposition midfielders. This was highlighted by a fantastic run-down tackle in the first quarter, which caused a turnover. He then pushed up onto a wing, and in this position he dropped into holes well and always looked to centralise the ball whenever he got the opportunity. Colenso was also clean in congestion and showed courage by taking a mark running back with the flight in the third term. He spent more time up forward throughout the second half, where he used his strong tackling ability to apply pressure and used his size to provide a good option for teammates going inside 50.

Saxon Crozier (Morningside) [Brisbane Lions]

Crozier spent most of his time on the wing and had a solid performance against Palm Beach Currumbin. He was composed ball in hand, clean below his knees and delivered some fantastic long kicks inside 50. Crozier often got involved in switches of play and worked hard to ensure his side controlled possession across the wings. In the air he usually made a good contest and regularly provided an option for teammates coming out of defence. The two main highlights of his game were a strong mark down the line in the second term, and a nice goal on the run after taking a bounce in the third term. Although Crozier did make some mistakes, he showed some very promising signs.

Aidan Fyfe (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns]

He does not need a lot of touches to really hurt the opposition, because like Abberley, he is a metres gained player. Fyfe looks to run and carry or take the game on at every opportunity, and is a good size coming off half-back. He can push up to a wing to impact and hold a firm line as an interceptor behind the play. One-on-one he can match it with most and has the athleticism to spin out of trouble as he did in the first term by turning his opponent inside out and kicking inside 50. Sometimes Fyfe can do a bit much with ball-in-hand, and had a Hollywood handball behind his head that missed the target but was luckily cleaned up, but the next overuse by hand was coughed up and turned over trying to run down the middle. Nonetheless, it is Fyfe’s ability to move the ball in transition and run down the wing that sets him apart. He took a couple of bounces in the third term and his movement helped set up a Josh Gore goal. In the final term, Fyfe intercepted off half-back with another one-on-one mark and then hit the scoreboard himself in the 12th minute, intercepting at half-forward this time, taking a run and launching from just inside 50 for it to sail home.

Josh Gore (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns]

Had another solid game playing as a small forward in a big win, and mostly took his chances when they came. He worked up to the wing at times and while he was still a bit fumbly at ground level when under pressure, once he is able to control the ball, he rarely wastes an opportunity. He did well in the first term to gather the ball under pressure and fire out the handball to a teammate, then led out and marked inside 50 to convert his first major of the game from a set shot. His second came 14 minutes into the next term, when he chucked it on his preferred left following a handball receive and did not mind it with an equally-fitting goal celebration to put his team up. Later in the term he looked like creating some magic off the back of some great defensive pressure – corralling an opponent and tackling him over the boundary line and winning the free kick – only to put the ball out on the full from 50m. His third goal was what you could describe as his bread and butter, roving the ball off hands inside 50, Gore reacted quicker than his opponents, got goal side and with an open goalsquare put it through. He had another chance late in the term but his set shot drifted and fell short, then had a final term chance close to goal but copped a “Jack Crisp-like” bounce which went behind him and the defence were able to save the day.

Carter Michael (Maroochydore) [Brisbane Lions]

Michael is one of Brisbane’s leading Academy prospects and he gave Lions fans more reasons to be excited in Maroochydore’s 26-point victory. He spent time at half-back and on the wing, where he worked hard to facilitate switches of play and provide an attacking option for teammates. Sometimes Michael’s hard running went unrewarded, but this did not bother him and he never stopped creating an option, which was a great sign. At stoppages, Michael positioned himself well (usually at the back) and attacked the ball whenever it went near him. He was frequently willing to put his head over the footy, take contact and then give quick hands on the up to teammates. Michael rarely fumbled all day, which was fantastic because it showed how comfortable he is at senior level against the stronger bodies. When in the defensive 50, Michael used his booming left foot kick to clear the area and launch some fast attacking transitions for his side. He did have one bad turnover in the last term kicking across goal, but he usually keeps his kicks flat so that they get to his intended targets very quickly and cannot be intercepted. Michael also applied some strong tackling pressure throughout the match, earning a holding the ball decision in the second term for his efforts.

Rhys Nicholls (Labrador) [Gold Coast]

Gold Coast Academy prospect Nicholls was one of the best players for Labrador on Saturday. He found plenty of footy in the first quarter when Maroochydore did most of the attacking, and this set the tone for an outstanding performance. His run off half-back was highly impressive, as he used his express pace to break-away from opponents and create some link-up play with teammates. Nicholls is very evasive and willing to take the game on, and although this meant he got himself into pressure situations at times, his pace and agility got him out of these predicaments more often than not. After getting caught holding the ball late in the second term, one of Nicholls’ coaches (or fans) was overheard saying, “head up Rhys, that’s what we want.” I thought this was great because, being a young player, Nicholls could have otherwise dropped his head after this incident, but instead he continued to take the game on and provide some much-needed run for his side. Nicholls’ spearing left foot kick was very effective and he took some nice intercept marks in defence. He also attacked the footy with aggression, followed up his possessions and applied strong defensive pressure whenever required. Nicholls is a great size for his position and skillset, so he should have a bright future.

Bailey Reeves (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns]

Reeves aided Fyfe as one of the better players on the day, predominantly for his ability to clear the defensive zone with his long raking kick. He always looked to switch play on a number of occasions, and was strong one-on-one such as his intercept mark in the first term. A terrific tackle on the slippery Cashen-Harris allowed Reeves to win the ball back for his side, and in the second term, his long bomb inside 50 set up a goal to Clay Cameron. Given Reeves’ ability to penetrate inside 50, he can afford to bomb long and put it to 15m out and worry defenders into punching which then brings Broadbeach’s crumbers – such as Gore – into play. His strength on the inside of the contest was great, showing his ability to rip the ball away from an opposition player and kick forward. While he has a tendency at times when under pressure to rush his disposal, he will often follow up with a second effort to apply pressure to the opponent or help out a teammate. He had a crack off the right with a snap from 50m good enough but just missed to the right. Reeves had quite a number of inside 50s and pressure acts on the day, and overall had an impressive performance for the Cats. 

PLAYER FOCUS:

By: Fraser Stewart

Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise) [Gold Coast Suns]

The QAFL Player Focus is chosen prior to the round and after his six-goal haul last week, Pescud was picked as the player to watch for Round 8. Unfortunately things did not go his or the Demons’ way for the exciting Gold Coast Suns forward, who kicked just one major this time after 12 goals in four games. Nonetheless, here’s how Fraser Stewart saw his performance:

Q1:

Plying his trade at full-forward did not get much use of the ball in the first quarter as he did not quite get the service he needed to have an early impact on the game or on the scoreboard. He got a few touches here and there, but nothing of significant notice as he was relatively quiet. He nearly had a score assist after giving out a handball when he was being tackled, however his teammate sprayed his shot wide and went in for a behind, apart from that he could not really get going.

Q2:

After being shut down for most of the first quarter, there were signs that he was starting to come to life, as he got more hands on the football, as well as moving up the ground to be around the contests more. He showed more desire to try and have an impact on the game, especially after kicking six goals last week, as he freed up space and made more of an effort leading for marks. His work paid off as he earned himself a set shot at goal midway through the second quarter after collecting a mark on the lead, however, his set shot went wide as he scored a behind.

Q3:

Started the third quarter leaving his full forward position to be on the wing in a bid to try and impact the game on his terms. He set up an attacking play on the left wing as he wanted to play on quickly which led to a behind, apart from that he was quiet. Ventured up forward late in the third quarter, and after the Surfers Paradise Demons cut open the Sherwood Magpies defence as they went through the corridor, he finally kicked his first goal of the afternoon and his first for the game running into an open goal and kicking it on the goalline.

Q4:

Went back to where he started the game at full-forward but once again he did not get the service he needed as the Sherwood Magpies nullified his impact. Early in the quarter he got caught holding the ball but made amends when he went in for his second effort and smothered the free kick. He tried to make things happen midway through the quarter to try and spark a demons attack as he collected a loose ball from a stoppage but managed to kick behind. He ventured down back in the later stages of the fourth term and got his hands on the footy a few more times to limit the scoring of the Sherwood Magpies.

Picture: RF Photography

QAFL weekend preview: Round 8 – Last chance saloon for bottom few teams

TWO rounds remain in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) competition, with minimal time for sides to try and squeeze into the top six spots for finals. The top three sides – Broadbeach, Morningside and Palm Beach Currumbin – are locked away for finals and considering percentages, have the top three spots booked. Top two get a week off though, so there is plenty to play for. At the other end of the ladder, Wilston Grange and Labrador can mathematically still make it despite having just one win on the board after seven rounds, but need results to go their way.

There are a number of ladder defining games this weekend starting with Maroochydore and Labrador. The winner will go a long way to booking a finals spot, whilst the loser will be in danger of missing out. For the Tigers in particular, a loss could be deadly, given they have a lower percentage than the fifth placed Sherwood, who would then be the only team Labrador could overtake. Maroochydore can secure a finals spot with a good enough win and build a large enough percentage gap to make it difficult for the sides below the Roos to make it.

Another season-defining clash is between Sherwood and Surfers Paradise which is linked the aforementioned match. If the Magpies get up with the Roos, it will all but lock away the top six spots with a round to play. The Demons showed they are not done with yet, getting a vital win over Wilston Grange last round. They will need to win here to be a realistic chance to defend their title, and if they do, will move up to at least sixth on the table, though a loss – holding the lowest percentage of any of the nine sides – would be fatal for their post-season hopes.

At the other end of the ladder, Morningside hosts Palm Beach Currumbin in the standout match for the round. The pair are fighting over a week off with the Panthers undefeated, but playing the other top two sides in the final fortnight. With Broadbeach next week, Morningside will get a good idea of where it sits in the scheme of things, while Palm Beach Currumbin will be desperate to knock over another contender and take prime position inside the top two. Considering the Lions will have an easier opponent next week, they know they will all but secure a top two spot with a win here, whilst Morningside will achieve that if the Panthers can get up.

In the final game of the round, a top-against-bottom clash looms as a potential blowout, but Wilston Grange came close to a win against Surfers Paradise last week. Broadbeach look good to be the premiership favourites, winning all six games and will have Morningside next week. A win here will secure the Cats inside the top two, but a loss just opens the door for the other top three sides. Realistically, Broadbeach should get the job done, though the Gorillas have their backs against the wall knowing a win is the only option to play finals, no matter how tough the task might be.

In terms of the competition’s leading goalkicker, Matthew Hammelmann seems to have one hand on the trophy after eight snags last week to take his total to 28 for the season. He overtook Broadbeach’s Jordan Moncrieff who had an uncharacteristic game that even saw him miss from on the line as his ball drop missed the boot. Nonetheless, Moncrieff sits three goals back, and three ahead of Maroochydore’s Mitchell Scholard. The other player with 20 majors is Liam Dawson who will return this week after a week off. In terms of young guns, Josh Gore (13 goals in five games) and Max Pescud (12 in four) have been the key scorers.

Looking at some of the top performers around the league, Mt Gravatt – who has the bye this weekend – has Luke O’Sullivan who has been named in the best six of a possible seven times, snagging six goals in the process. Morningside’s Matthew Payne, Labrador duo Fraser Thurlow and Matthew Lee and Wilston Grange’s Will McKenzie have also earned best honours in six matches. Scholard and Roos’ teammate Jacob Simpson are the next most with five bests for their respective sides.

For Brisbane Lions fans, it might be one of the last couple of weeks to see Tahj Abberley in action as Wilston Grange need to do the unthinkable and upset Broadbeach with Gold Coast fans being able to see the likes of Gore, Bailey Reeves and Aidan Fyfe running around for the Cats. Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier will run out for the Panthers against Jack Johnston for the Lions, whilst Rhys Nicholls and Carter Michael are among those who might cross paths in the Maroochydore-Labrador game. The Magpies will need to find a way to stop Pescud who slammed home 6.5 for the Demons last week in the win, in a big weekend for QAFL action.

QAFL ROUNDS 8 FIXTURES:

Maroochydore vs. Labrador
Morningside vs. Palm Beach Currumbin
Sherwood vs. Surfers Paradise
Wilston Grange vs Broadbeach

Picture: RF Photography

Scouting notes and wrap: QAFL – Round 7

A COUPLE of Gold Coast Suns Academy members had days out in front of goal, while their Brisbane Lions counterparts were also impressive in losing sides. In this week’s Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) weekend wrap and scouting notes, we take a look at how some of the top young guns performed, and which teams enjoyed massive wins. We have included scouting notes for the Broadbeach and Maroochydore clash, as well as the Surfers Paradise and Wilston Grange match.

In the biggest win of the round, Broadbeach Cats trounced Maroochydore by 94 points, with a goal after the siren to Roos’ leading goalkicker Mitchell Scholard saving his team from a triple-figure defeat. He kicked two goals in the win, but it was the shared goalkicking load on the opposite side which was the difference. Broadbeach slammed home seven goals to zero in the opening term, then had a 59-point lead by half-time. They did not take the foot off it in the third term, booting five goals to one to race out to an 88-point advantage by the final break, before reaching the three figures late in the game prior to Scholard’s consolation major in the 17.18 (120) to 4.2 (26).

The star of the show up forward was over-age small, Josh Gore who slammed home five goals in a premier crumbing effort to outscore the opposition by himself, while Clay Cameron and Connor Nutting both booted multiple goals, and Max Lower was superb around the ground. For the Roos, Carter Michael was best-on in a tough day for the visitors, and he features in our scouting notes alongside Gore, as well as Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves and Aidan Fyfe. Scholard and Zac Stone were the other players to stand out for the losers on the day.

There were some similarities in Surfers Paradise’ win over Wilston Grange, but it was also a vastly different contest, as the Demons survived a late scare from a determined Gorillas’ outfit to win 9.11 (65) to 9.8 (62). Gold Coast’s Max Pescud was slotting goals – and behinds – from everywhere, dominating the scoreboard and kicking one third of the game’s goals. He features heavily in our scouting notes alongside Wilston Grange’s best, Tahj Abberley. Despite losing by just three points, Abberley was one of the Gorillas’ standout players through the midfield, kicking a memorable goal as he tried to haul his more experienced teammates over the line in the last quarter. In the end though Pescud’s half-dozen majors were enough for the reigning premiers to have a pulse for season 2020, taking home a much needed four points in the bottom two clash.

Aside from Pescud, Perry Lewis-Smith booted two goals in the win and was amongst the best with Cameron Topping and Daniel Charlesworth. For the Gorillas, Aaron Fabian and Josh Baxter kicked five majors between them, while Will McKenzie and Sam Gribble were also named among the losing team’s best. Abberley, Pescud and Shatna Cahen-Harris all feature in our scouting notes this weekend.

Palm Beach Currumbin did what many expected one of the title favourites to do and took care of business at Labrador, getting up in a 50-point victory. The Lions actually trailed the Tigers at quarter time by five points, but then took the lead with a three goals to zero second term to head into the main break with a 13-point advantage. A dominant six goals to two third quarter put the result all but beyond doubt at the final break, with Palm Beach Currumbin finishing off strongly to win, 14.11 (95) to 6.9 (45).

Six players booted two goals apiece in the win for the Lions, with Mitchell Johnson and Jarryd Douglas amongst those players, and the best. Thomas Thynne and Zac Harrison both impressed for Palm Beach Currumbin on the road, while Fraser Thurlow and Jaise Coleman stood tall for the losers. Gold Coast Suns Academy prospect Rhys Nicholls featured in our Player Focus for the week while Bryce Retzlaff (three goals) and Blair Rubock (two) were the key goalkickers in a losing side.

In the other match, Morningside continued its unbeaten form with an easy 80-point thumping of Mt Gravatt. The Panthers piled on five goals to one in the opening term and led by 33 points at the main break. If that was not enough, they kicked the last seven goals of the game in the second half, to run away 16.7 (103) to 3.5 (23) winners. Matt Hammelmann slotted eight majors in a remarkable performance, while young talent Saxon Crozier kicked a couple alongside Reuben William for the winners. Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds and Brisbane Academy member Blake Coleman were both named among the best, while for the Vultures, Joel Leahy, Luke O’Sullivan and Daine Macdonald were impressive.

Scouting notes:

By: Peter Williams

Tahj Abberley (Wilston Grange)

The Brisbane Lions Academy member was a clear standout in a losing side for the Gorillas, playing predominantly through the midfield and getting some crucial onball minutes. He had the ball on a string in the opening six minutes, earning a rest with five touches to his name. He finished the game with close to 20 disposals and a number of tackles, but it was his work by hand that really stood out. He has the composure to pause and release in time, especially considering the amount of times an opponent would drag him to the ground the moment he got the ball. He has the smarts to keep the ball in front of him and not take possession if an opponent is hot on his collar, and then when having the time and space in front of him, takes the game on.

On a number of occasions he pushed hard down a wing or down the middle, and while he was still late, generally made good decisions with ball-in-hand. The one error he would probably take back was late in the game when he chose to keep the ball inside the field of play deep in attack, without realising opponents were right behind him, forcing them to clear and maintain possession. Otherwise, Abberley’s decision making by hand or foot was generally impressive, and a highlight in the third term was where he handballed quickly out of the stoppage, ran onto the next handball, and launched from outside 50 to see it sail home. In the fourth term, he set up a number of scoring opportunities that helped put his team in front early in the match, and pickpocketed an opponent in the middle at one stage and burst out of the stoppage to kick long. overall, Abberley played a starring role in a losing side.

Shatna Cashen-Harris (Wilston Grange)

Cashen-Harris had a mixed bag of a day with some very nice highlights, but also a few mistakes. His strengths are his pressure and speed, which he combines to run down opponents or force turnovers. While he is not a huge accumulator, he just competes throughout the day, and an example of that was in the opening term where while fighting against two opponents, he brought the ball to ground and across the boundary line safely for a throw-in. He tended to fumble a little at ground level and sometimes would rush his kicks, but he is good in marking contests in terms of his positioning and body work.

In an example of his game, Cashen-Harris won the ball on the forward side of the wing, then took off, but had a free option 30m out from goal and went long to the one-on-one contest which was marked by the defender. It still got the ball to a dangerous spot, but it was just the surveying the area and working out the best option, rather than the more predictable one as such. Nonetheless, his strength in the air saw him pull down a great contested mark leading out up forward, protecting the ball drop and then converting the set shot less than two minutes into the final term. A bit more consistency and there is some definite positives.

Aidan Fyfe (Broadbeach)

The Gold Coast Suns Academy member did not quite have the same ball-winning numbers as his Northern Academy Series efforts, but he had a number of memorable highlights, particularly in the final term when he won a number of possessions in the back half. He was often found running from defence to midfield with some slick handballs, taking a number of bounces down the wing and kicking long inside 50 to the danger zone. The majority of his disposals would have come in the final term, which included a nice left-foot kick from half-back to open up space on the wing. Picking up plenty of intercept possessions in the last 30 minutes, he showed good hands and solid defensive pressure, including stopping a Maroochydore player in his tracks at half-forward and winning the ball back for his side.

Josh Gore (Broadbeach)

If you wanted to find a DVD on how to play a small forward’s game, then Gore’s performance against Maroochydore was the perfect example. He booted five goals and just continually got to the right spots. The knock has come on being pigeonholed as a small forward, but considering what he was able to do on the weekend, he has the traits to adapt that at any level. The only knock in the game you could have for Gore was a little fumbly at times, such as midway through the second term, but both his offensive and defensive traits were on point. Gore also looked for other options inside 50 which is an important trait for a small forward, rather than just eyeing the goals first off, and when the position presented itself, he was reliable with ball-in-hand around goals.

Of Gore’s five majors, the first game 15 minutes in the opening term when competition leading goalkicker Jordan Moncrieff leapt up in the goalsquare to take the contact and tap back to the loose Gore who kicked the easiest of majors. He made it two late in the term when he received the handball following hard running and snapped around his body 20m out. A third goal came late in the final term on the back of fast ball movement inside 50 and good positioning from Gore to mark uncontested on the lead. He had a chance midway through the quarter but was tackled as he snapped. It was positive to see a good second effort as he bounced up and tackled Carter Michael, letting him know about it too. His final two goals came in the third term, one off a well read bounce into his lap which he goaled with ease, while the final game with another snap around his body after working his opponent under the footy and taking one step before sending it home.

Carter Michael (Maroochydore)

In a tough day at the office, the Brisbane Lions Academy member produced a really strong, consistent performance off half-back, trying to create something for his team in a defence that was often under-siege. It was quite literally one-way traffic for the majority of the match, but Michael was one of the few who could leave the game knowing he had done just about all he could on the day. Tasked with the kickout duties, he often played on and put the ball 60-plus metres out of the defensive zone, and positioned himself well in the back 50. Aside from a quieter second term, Michael was often prolific one-on-one or dropping back into the hole and intercepting a Cats forward thrust.

He used the ball well coming off half-back, and had a lovely left-foot piecing kick down the middle, avoiding using too many lateral possessions, and sensing the importance of rolling the dice and taking the game on. He did have a poor kick coming out late in the first term that went straight to the opposition for a goal, but as a whole, he hit most of his targets. Michael’s metres gained stat would be quite high, and he set up a rare goal with a nice handball to Lochie Laing in the last term. Overall his game was quite impressive and it is always hard to standout in a 15-goal loss.

Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise)

When a player kicks half a dozen goals, and almost the equivalent of that in behinds, it is hard to not enjoy the show. He has a nice combination of strength and speed where he can win the ball on the lead or in a one-on-one contest. At one stage he had all of his team’s goals, and four of the Demons’ five at half-time. What makes Pescud so damaging is he can kick goals in a number of ways, and do it consistently as well. The other forwards often cleared out to give him space and he stayed back almost like a lone striker in soccer, then would burst out, or get the position he needed in a marking contest and duly delivered. If there was an improvement to come out of the game, it would definitely be keeping mindful of other options as there was a couple of times where he had the chance to give off the handball but threw it on the boot quickly for a behind. An example of this was late in the fist term where he was one-on-one, grabbed the ball as he was about to tackle, had time to give the handball off with his teammate to run into an open goal, but just rushed and chucked it on the boot.

Looking at his six majors, the first two came in the opening term, with a strong leap, one-grab clunk eight and a half minutes into the quarter with a 30m set shot on a slight angle sailing home. His second came two minutes later when he ripped the ball off the deck at ground level to put ball to boot and snap truly from 20m out. His third came early in the second quarter with another snap after wrestling the ball back, then kicked his fourth at the other end of the term with a huge flying intercept grab between opponents who tried to cross the forward 50, converting the 40m set shot. He should have had at least five at the half, with a set shot 30m out jumping over the fence to retrieve the ball, but his set shot missed. He saluted with his fifth 17 minutes into the third after missing a rushed shot earlier in the term, showing good positioning, leading out and marking 35m out to convert. A 50m penalty brought him to within similar range late in the premiership quarter, but he surprisingly missed that chance, but brought up his half dozen nine minutes into the last, when he marked 15m out from goal and popped through the major to hand his team the lead, kicking six of the then eight goals.

Bailey Reeves (Broadbeach)

Starting on a wing, the Gold Coast Academy member played his role throughout the match and probably ended as one of the better Cats in the big win. He won plenty of the ball and always looked to move it on quickly, particularly by hand between the wing and half-forward. He teamed up with Aidan Fyfe on a number of occasions, and was also strong defensively, laying a shepherd to enable his teammate to get the ball forward and then had a shot on goal himself that was pinched by Clay Cameron on the line in that third term. Throughout the match, Reeves had an influence on the game, won it in transition and set up a number of scoring plays.

A few examples of his highlights were a strong intercept mark seven minutes into the first term where he kicked long inside 50 that led to a chain of handballs and eventually a goal. He showed quick hands on a number of occasions at half-forward, and was generally reliable, though did turn it over by hand once in pressure. He hit up Moncrieff a couple of times, once in the opening term – which the big man missed – then again in the final term which the competition’s leading goalkicker made no mistake this time. Occasionally he would kick long and a defender would intercept, but his low short passes were more effective when eyeing off forward 50 targets. He had a flying shot himself 12 minutes into the last term but it just sprayed to the left. Winning plenty of it in the last quarter, he showed great run and carry through the middle and with the use of his hands, set up another Broadbeach goal.

QAFL ROUND 7 RESULTS:

Labrador 6.9 (45) defeated by Palm Beach Currumbin 14.11 (95)
Mt Gravatt 3.5 (23) defeated by Morningside 16.7 (103)
Surfers Paradise 9.11 (65) defeated Wilston Grange 9.8 (62)
Broadbeach 17.18 (120) defeated Maroochydore 4.2 (26)

Picture: RF Photography

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