Tag: Riley Bowman

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 15

DOMINANT performances from Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons have seen them combine for nine of the 24 players in the Draft Central NAB League Boys’ Team of the Week for Round 15. The Bushrangers recorded an equal season-high five players in the team, while the Dragons had four, after massive wins over Western Jets and Tasmania Devils respectively. The Devils had an even team performance in the loss with just Liam Viney making his way into the side, though regulars Matt McGuinness and Jackson Callow were very close. Every other side had two players make the Team of the Week this round.

Murray had four of their five representatives on the field, with Charlie Byrne (half-back), Lachlan Ash (wing) and Josh Rachele and Jimmy Boyer (both forward) all making the starting side. Rachele becomes the first Under-16s player to make the Team of the Week this season, while Cam Wild also made the side on the bench after big second half. Their opponents, Western Jets had two players in the side who impacted up either end with Cody Raak and Josh Honey both making the squad. Sandringham Dragons had the second most nominees in the Team of the Week, with Player of the Week overager Angus Hanrahan, captain Ryan Byrnes, ruck Riley Bowman and midfielder Darcy Chirgwin all making the squad.

In the game at Shepley Oval, it was difficult to pick standouts, with Dandenong Stingrays duo Hayden Young and Team of the Week debutant Henry Berenger making the side, while winners Gippsland Power saw Harvey Neocleous slot into the forward pocket and captain Brock Smith also make the side. At Preston City Oval, forwards Jack Ginnivan and Josh Treacy were keys to Bendigo’s upset win on the road and make the side again, while the Northern Knights had captain Jackson Davies and bottom-age talent Nikolas Cox both fill important gaps at opposite ends of the field.

In the final game at MARS Stadium on Sunday, Calder Cannons’ Sam Ramsay made our Team of the Week once again, this time with Ned Gentile. For the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Jay Rantall got back to his best form to slot into the middle, while overager Jed Hill found himself in an unfamiliar role in defence, but starred to also make our team this round.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 15

IT may have been a shortened round of five games, but there was no such shortage of talent on show in Round 15 of the NAB League. There was a diverse range of standouts this weekend, so here are out notes highlighting representative squad members, under-agers, and a few standouts from each game. Each note is the opinion of the individual writer.

Tasmania Devils vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Peter Williams

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked hard through the midfield and like many of the Devils’ midfielders, pushed back into defence where possible. He was able to intercept the ball by being in the right place at the right time early in the game, and then did so again later on at half-forward where he set up a target with a neat kick inside 50. He offered himself as an option in the chain moving the ball forward, was able to provide quick hands in close throughout the game, and was one of Tasmania’s best.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Another workmanlike performance from the tall defender who was more often than not composed with ball in hands in the back 50. At times his disposal could go array, such as a turnover in the third term straight to a Dragons’ opponent, but his launching left foot kick-outs broke open the game with some efforts almost reaching the centre circle. Patrolled the defence and took a number of intercept marks propelling the home side forward.

#13 Sam Collins

So strong one-on-one, he stands up in tackles and was a presence around the stoppages. He moved well through the midfield sharing his disposal-winning ability between both the inside and outside. His hands in close were a highlight of his game, and was productive throughout.

#25 Jackson Callow

Had a tough day at the office but not through lack of want or trying because he was one of Tasmania’s best once again. Instead, it was more the case of often he was double-teamed inside 50 with the Devils looking to him as a target the majority of the time and the Dragons defenders identified that and at most marking contests sat someone in front of him or came across as a third-man to spoil. Regardless, Callow booted the one goal – Tasmania’s first of the game and one of his few one-on-one contests – after great body positioning. He had a massive first term working up teh ground, winning the ball in each of the thirds, and then kept presenting throughout, but most of his marks had to come up the ground given the body pressure on him inside 50. He almost had a second with a quick snap in the third term but it fell short, and tried to set up a goal to Rhyan Mansell early in the fourth with a quick handball but the snap missed. One of the top key position options next year.

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

Returned from injury at the AFL Under-18 Championships with a strong first half before being managed in the second half. After a big impact in the middle, he also went forward and provided a presence, setting up Angus Hanrahan inside 50 for a goal in the third term. He was able to fire out quick handballs from stoppages and was strong overhead, able to not only hold his ground in marking contests, but also stand up in tackles. Possesses a nice kick and good decision making to hit up a target from half-back to half-forward straight down the middle in the second term.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

One of Sandringham’s best on the day, leading from the front. The biggest differential between Byrnes and a lot of midfielders is is ability to use either foot when coming out of stoppages. He just uses the foot from which side he has been forced to lean onto in order to get his clearances away – and he had a truckload. The most dominant midfielder on the ground, Byrnes set up that many teammates for scoring opportunities, he was like a playmaker in the attacking half – they included goals to Riley Bowman in the first term and Jake Bowey in the fourth term, and an unlucky miss to Miles Bergman in the last term as well who probably should have rewarded the effort with the straight forward set shot. He kicked a goal of his own late in the second term after marking, being called to play on and snapping around his body truly. Worked cohesively with Riley Bowman and Jack Bell at ruck stoppages.

#6 Miles Bergman

Had a solid game throughout the four quarters and just kept popping up with some nice moments, but should have had a bigger day with some set shot misses he will no doubt want to take again. He kicked a terrific goal in the third term with a snap from a forward stoppage showing all class, but missed the two easier shots – one in each of the bookend quarters – both within 30m out straight in front or on a slight angle. His field kicking was good and he kept presenting high up the ground, opening the game up at one stage in the fourth term with a delightful kick into the middle on that 45-degree angle to hit-up Jack Bell.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Clearly the best on ground once again and just seemed to do it all. Played off half-back, pushed up to the wing and then went forward in the second half to finish off with three goals. His highlight-real moment came late in the fourth term with a clean pick-up, gather and nice checkside snap near the behind post to kick his third major of the day. His other two goals came from set shots just inside 50, the second of which he won for a free kick after holding his ground in the marking contest and earning a chopping the arms free. He zipped around the ground racking up the touches off half-back and running into space, and whilst most of his disposals were won in uncontested situations, he used his composure and skill to hit-up teammates down the field. He provided run and carry and made good decisions going forward, even showing off some candy late in the game to hit-up Darcy Chirgwin inside 50.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruckload with Jack Bell and importantly got forward to kick a couple of goals. He took a terrific towering grab in the first term to grab it cleanly in the air and slot the set shot from 40m out, then kicked his second major midway through the second term with a snap around his body in general play. His best work was done in the ruck however, time and time again winning the hitouts and double-tapping it to the path of a running midfielder – usually Ryan Byrnes – and worked hard to also take some intercept marks and win his fair share of the ball around the ground. He and Bell proved a handfull for the Devils.

#32 Jack Bell

Teamed well with Riley Bowman and set up the first goal with a terrific hitout at the first centre bounce to get it to Ryan Byrnes who delivered inside 50. For a big man he showed composure with clean hands under pressure, and positioned himself well in marking contests. Missed a set shot early in the game after taking a good mark going back with the flight, but then capitalised in the final term with a good chest mark by protecting the drop zone, and kicking an easy goal straight in front. Ruckwork was impressive and kept moving as a target through the middle.

#43 Jake Bowey

An exciting bottom-age prospect who looks dangerous when he has the ball-in-hand because of his zip. He played mostly on a wing where he was able to win some early touches and showed clean hands in the wet to hit-up Ryan Byrnes for a goal late in the second term with a great kick and nice vision. Sometimes he can miss his targets by foot, but the kick is still well placed to their advantage, and he does try and take that high risk-high reward kick when going inboard. Bowey uses his body well and showed off his composure in the third term with a clean pick-up late in the third term, stepping around an opponent and snapping over his shoulder for a goal. Set up Jack Bell in the fourth term with a kick to his advantage at the top of the goalsquare. Has time and space in the midfield and weighs up where to put the ball to best advantage his team.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Gippsland Power

Dandenong:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Hayden Young

We have seen on numerous occasions what the likely top five draft prospect can do behind the play, but Young showed on Saturday that his stoppage attributes could be a tad undersold. Starting on the wing, he had some nice moments on the outside before spending more time inside where he came to life. He won some brilliantly clean clearances in the second term that started dangerous forays forward for Dandenong, highlighted by a one touch collect at pace and superb hit inside 50. He used his aerial nous at half forward when the opportunity presented, reading and intercepting the high Gippsland defensive 50 exits when in his area. He attempted to take on Ryan Angwin in the fourth term and got caught holding the ball, but got straight up to chase down Ryan Sparkes and executed a spectacular diving smother. He finished the day with 26 disposals and a goal in a near best on ground display.

#11 Ned Cahill

After missing a risky kick in the defensive arc early in the game, Cahill was back to his busy and efficient self spending a majority of his time in the midfield. He was smart and clean in tight, extracting the ball with minimal fuss and working hard on the spread. He probably didn’t win the ball in his usual damaging positions, but was creative enough to ensure his 23 disposals were beneficial to his side’s cause. Coming up against a quality midfield that packs plenty of depth, Cahill more than held his own and ensured the likes of Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi were accountable by laying seven tackles.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

It was an interesting day for ‘Biggy’, who had plenty of holes to fill after the unexpected early exodus of Dandenong talls. The late exclusion of Sam De Koning saw Nyuon start in defence on Charlie Comben and he provided some eye catching moments early running off the rapidly improving Power tall. An injury to Bailey Schmidt threw another spanner in the works and Nyuon quickly found himself in the ruck. He dug deep and made the seemingly unexpected move an advantage, consistently getting first hand in the ruck and having an impact at ground level. He ended the day with 14 disposals and 22 hit outs to be one of Dandenong’s best.

#32 Blake Kuipers

It was always going to be a tough day for the Dandenong KPDs having to counter the talented Gippsland talls, but Kuipers more than held up his part of the job. While he played some minutes on the hulking Josh Smith, a majority of his day was spent standing the in-form Charlie Comben. Kuipers didn’t win much of the footy himself, but he managed to keep the Vic Country tall goalless and have minimal impact despite plenty of Gippsland entrances. His aerial decision making was excellent, spoiling when required and taking a couple of great intercept marks when in best position. His kicking was scrappy to say the least with a few poor turn overs, but it’s an area of scope. He looks comfortable in the back half.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Starting mostly on the wing, Williams was influential in collecting 21 disposals and kicking two goals. He got to dangerous positions on the outside and was often involved in long metres gained chains. He worked hard to get out the back of the pack to kick the first goal of the day and took a nice little specky inside 50 during the second quarter, striking a lovely set shot from the arc for his second goal. While he had some excellent moments, Williams had a bit of a mixed day by foot. He shanked and turned some balls over, but the evidence over the year suggests this is an exception to the rule.

Gippsland:
By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders played the game with great intent and in terms of attack on the footy he was right up there but was often let down with disposal, with his overall impact being low for his standards. Flanders had some chances to do some damage, with a set shot in the first quarter that did not quite make the distance and a snap at goal in the second quarter that registered a behind. Flanders’ attack on the ball and clean hands were very notable with plenty of players fumbling on the day and not committing, he made a great chase in the last quarter and certainly performed well in that last quarter in terms of attack and intent, even showing a nice spin move out of trouble. Flanders finished the game with 19 disposals and four inside 50s.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi had a solid outing playing through the midfield with his attack on the ball and willingness to take the game on a real feature. Like many teammates in the first quarter he had a chance to hit the scoreboard with a set shot just holding up from long range. He had some nice bits of play in the second half with a nice shark from a stoppage and a nice long clearing kick inside 50, another great bit of play was a lovely pass inside 50 lowering his eyes to hit up the leading player. Baldi finished the game with 20 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s.

#12 Brock Smith

Smith has been in a purple patch as of late and that continued against the Stingrays with an impressive showing playing as an undersized key defender. Having some talls go down early didn’t help the Stingrays but regardless Smith held strong down back and provided great counterattack on the rebound, Smith’s work overhead was strong and his body work too good for any smaller player he came up against and at this stage is proving to be Gippsland’s most valuable player. Smith’s disposal at times let him down but more often than not hit his targets and picked good options. Smith finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks and nine rebound 50s.

#17 Charlie Comben

Comben had a rough day at the office in a game where Dandenong lost their best key defender before the game and their ruck early on. It seemed everything aligned for Comben to have a big game but it just didn’t quite click for him. Comben was one of many players in the first quarter to have a shot at goal that didn’t make the distance but that came off a very nice lead up mark. Comben showed his aerial skills with his overhead marking a feature but what really impressed was his clean hands at ground level for a tall player with a magnificent gather under pressure in the forward 50 in the second quarter and hand-balling to the running player’s advantage. Comben finished the game with eight disposals, three marks and one behind and he will look to get back into goal kicking form in his next game.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips had a solid game and showed his exciting traits that make him a highly sought after talent. Phillips did not do a lot wrong throughout the game with ball in hand and he also impressed without it with a good tackle that was rewarded in the second quarter to lead to his first goal. His second goal came in the last quarter with a quality gather on the run and classy snap goal showing his speed, class and cleanliness inside 50. His kicking was again a great feature with his laser left foot and I was impressed with one but of play in the third quarter where he took a nice lead up mark on the wing and worked hard to get into forward 50 to be another option. Phillips finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks and two goals.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#1 Will Christie

Provided a good presence around the ground as a strong ruck effort in the midfield. He showed clean taps and also backed up his efforts by winning the ball at ground level. He pushed his direct opponent by getting forward and being a target, taking a strong intercept mark at half-forward, and then marking 30m out straight in front, but unfortunately missing the set shot. Was a fierce tackler on the day, not afraid to get down and stop opponents in their tracks.

#2 Charlie Byrne

Liked the look of the bottom-ager off half-back, playing the Lachie Ash role to allow Ash to play midfield and forward. He is so clean with his ball use, and positions himself well behind the play. He took a number of great intercept marks, and his left foot was a treat to watch. Whilst he did spend the majority of his time in defence, Byrne kicked a nice goal on the run in the opening term.

#5 Cam Wild

Played a mixture between half-forward and midfield, and had a big impact after a quieter first term, getting his hands on the ball more and ran rampant in the second half. He kicked a lovely running goal in the second term, timing his kick well at full speed to get on the board, then set up a goal to Will Chandler in the third, with a kick that might have been a shot on goal that fell short, but nonetheless it goes in the book as a goal assist. He balanced his disposals well between handballs to open the game up and kicks forward, and burst out of the middle in the third term for a shot on goal but it went to the right.

#6 Will Chandler

Had a couple of highlight runs down the field, taking a run down the middle in the first term but his flying shot on goal went to the left, then had another run off half-back to the wing. He had another flying shot on goal tight on the boundary but missed to the right, then finally got on the board in the third term with a running mark just inside the line and then a snap from a set shot goal. He dribbled home his second goal to bring up the 100 for Murray late in the third term. In the last he took a good intercept mark in the middle midway through the quarter, but then bit off more than he could chew playing on, fending off an opponent but was pinged for throwing the ball. Laid a good tackle in the forward 50 late in the game to lock it up and prevent a rebound.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Had the luxury of mixing between midfield and forward and had an impact in both areas of the ground. He still got back to help out the defence early, running on of defence and using his elite decision making and foot skills to hit up teammates down the ground. Gave off a goal assist to Kade Chalcraft with a wobbly kick that was effective, and after having a big first half in the middle, spent considerable time forward in the second half, kicking a goal after a strong lead and vertical leap to convert from 40m out straight in front. He missed a short just earlier from a tighter angle just inside 50, and tried to squeeze through another later in the term but the kick just lacked the distance and was intercepted in the goalsquare. Ash’s hands at ground level off the deck were lightning to give it to co-captain Cam Wilson to run in for a shot on goal. Prominent as usual.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Productive throughout the game, Chalcraft ran hard for four quarters picking up plenty of touches and being a staple in the midfield that had plenty of rotations. He would have had good metres gained given his ability to win the pill and take off, or zip around the ground and win a number of possessions in a chain to get it forward. He took a nice mark leading out inside 50 later in the game but his set shot missed, though showed off his work rate not long after, getting into defence and running the ball out with a neat kick. He did kick a goal in the second term by getting creative to kick the ball around his body mid-air and went straight through the middle to answer Western’s second goal late in the term.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Named as Murray’s best and was one of a number of players who could have bestowed the honour after an impressive game. Just kept running hard and kicked three first half goals when the game was hot. Boyer kicked his first after winning the ball in the goalsquare following hard running, turned his opponent inside out and snapped around his body from a few metres out. He kicked his second from the pocket late in the first term with a terrific kick, then his third from a quick play on and goal from 30m out in the second term. Just prior to that he set up Nicholas Irvine with the easiest of goals, winning the loose ball in the pocket and handballing over the top of an opponent to Irvine to run into the goalsquare and kick truly. Boyer had some risky touches in defence such as one in the third term, but his work rate saw him mop it up and help out his teammate after his kick dropped short. Spreads well around the ground and played further up the ground in the second half.

#31 Josh Rachele

Astonishing to think that this kid has two more years left at NAB League level, and it is easy to see how he took home the Kevin Sheehan Medal at the Under-16 National Championships. Rachele is as composed as anyone on the ground and his hands at ground level are like velcro-mits that just scoop the ball up cleanly and fire off handballs to running teammates. Aside from his clean hands, his ability to turn on a dime makes him so damaging because of his agility and then burst speed that burns off opponents, such as he did in the first term with his set shot just missing. Prior to that though he kicked a goal from 30m out straight in front having an impact from the start and setting the tone for his game. He has a damaging left foot that he used to not only capitalise himself, but set up others. He set up a goal to Jimmy Boyer in the second term with a clean handball out of a pack, and could have done the same for Cam Wilson in the third quarter but his shot on goal missed. Rachele booted his second major after kicking the ball into space inside 50 then working harder than his opponent, got forward and marked, before nailing the set shot from straight in front, His third came late in the game off a quick step with just a few minutes remaining in the game. He could have had a couple more as well, with one bouncing into the behind post from a dribble and consistently putting it deep inside 50 to the damaging positions. Had a nice mark in the second term leaping high.

Western:

#7 Daly Andrews

Tirelessly worked throughout the game despite the overwhelming run that Murray provided. He was a steady head in the midfield and won possessions in each third of the ground, having a quick snap on goal at one stage but it missed to the right. Finished with the couple of behinds but the Jets’ equal highest ball winner through midfield. He had a no-frills approach to his footy, getting the ball both on the inside and outside and pushing hard into defence, then getting it in midfield and putting it inside 50 for his forwards.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Had a big first term, taking a number of intercept marks in defence, including a huge pack mark early, though he did miskick off the boot deep in defence, but was cleaned up. He used the ball well kicking long, and provided a presence around the ground taking numerous marks. He was moved forward in the second half and helped set up a goal to Jono Horo in the third term with a neat kick in-board opening up the game for another teammate. In the final term he used good bodywork one-on-one close to goal midway through the quarter, but could not take the mark, though managed to get a handball away. Won a free kick on the wing late in the game and used a nice weighted kick to a teammate at half-forward.

#24 Josh Honey

The most dangerous forward for the Jets, Honey booted three goals, including his side’s two first half goals. he booted Western’s first with hard running onto a loose ball in front of him to boot it from the goalsquare, then converted late in the second term after winning a free kick 45m out straight in front. He kicked a third, and a consolation goal midway through the last, but he kept trying to take the game on, with a bounce late in the match and a long 60m kick, though an opponent spoiled it away from his teammate. He had a couple of chances for more goals earlier in the game but could not quite put it through the big sticks with limited time and rushed snaps.

#26 Cody Raak

The best on ground for Western with clean work out of defence to rack up rebounds on a string in a defence under siege. With the likes of Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett out of the team, much of the run and carry out of defence was left to Raak and in a game where the Jets were heavily beaten, Raak could hold his head high as a player who played four quarters and kept repelling opposition attacks. A prospect for next year, Raak is a good size and had his best game of the year with eight more touches than his next best, finishing with 24 disposals and 11 rebounds.

#47 Will Kennedy

The overager used all of his strength and ruck nous to dominate the hitouts with another 50-plus hitouts around the ground. Murray did dominate the midfield, and opponent Will Christie was good at ground level, but Kennedy still provided a target around the ground for his teammates. He won plenty of the ball in close and spread to the outside when needed, but was able to set up a scoring opportunity in the second term with a long kick inside 50.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

It is hard to ignore the month of footy that Davies has put together, and he once again proved a standout for Northern. The Knights’ skipper featured consistently throughout with his unmatched reading of the play and sticky hands overhead, while also showing improvement in his use by foot. His first bit of play was a typically strong intercept mark in the first term, and it proved a theme for Davies’ game as he plucked them one-on-one, in packs, and from both in front and behind. His setting up behind the play is what allowed him to do so at such a rate, snapping up everything that came his way backwards of defensive wing. Davies also had a nice moment with ball in hand in the third term, handballing over his shoulder with opponents circling to intelligently find a teammate in space.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was a bit of a quieter game from the small forward/midfielder when compared to his six-goal effort last time out, but he continues to provide value to the Knights line-up. Starting at half-forward once again, D’Intinosante got up the ground well to find the ball early on, but his most effective plays came when charging off the line at centre bounces. His pressure and intent in the tackle was phenomenal, hitting his opponents fairly, but hard. Kicked the one-straight goal, coming from a classy dribbled finish over the back and also had a couple of brave efforts in the air.

#7 Ryan Gardner

It was a steady return from injury for Gardner, who spent a lot of time playing up at half-forward. He started up on a wing though, finding most of his ball on the outer and providing clean use. With his move forward, Gardner led well and showed deceptively strong ability overhead despite not always pulling down the mark. He had most of his touches around the arc, drawing opponents well to flick out handballs and getting involved off the centre bounce.

#23 Nikolas Cox

The bottom-ager has proven a marvel at ground level considering his size, but used all of his height in a more forward-oriented role in this outing. It was a shrewd move, with Cox a nightmare matchup as he marked the ball at its highest point and got good separation on the lead from full forward. He kicked his first of four goals in the first term after a nice clunk close to goal, following up with another set shot conversion on the half-time siren to keep the Knights in touch. After more time up the ground in the third term, Cox returned forward and got on that lead again to find a third goal. Cox’s fourth came differently, showing his athleticism to win a ground ball and snap home a late consolation goal. Plenty to like.

Bendigo:

#2 Jack Hickman

The speedy bottom-ager provided some real spark when running through the midfield, taking the ball at pace and breaking away from congestion. Moving forward, Hickman was a threat with those line-breaking capabilities and got the Pioneers going effectively. Capped a solid day with a goal in the second term as Bendigo broke away to a handy lead, and just does some eye-catching things with his speed and agility.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Had a solid day in the ruck but impressed more with his work at ground level, covering the turf well and getting involved at the drop of the ball. While he didn’t have a massive effect with his marking or crashing of packs, Gundry also looked likely when playing forward and got on the board with a really handy goal in the first term. He read the flight of the ball well, laid a heavy bump on his direct opponent to get him out of the road, gathered the ball and coolly dribbled home into the open goal.

#19 Ben Worme

It was another workmanlike outing from Worme, who was handball-happy in the middle of the ground. He would so often get the ball on the outer of the stoppage, wheel away out the back and dish off to a runner to good effect. The Vic Country representative was also part of the midfield-forward rotation, having a hand in Cooper Smith’s first term goal and getting involved as a half-forward. Worme missed a good chance on goal at the start of the third term as he streamed into the 50 off the back of a handball chain, but made amends in the same term with a lovely long-range snap. Just always manages to find the ball, and is adding strings to his bow.

#22 Josh Treacy

Was again used in a range of roles; starting forward, pinch-hitting in the ruck, and being thrown into a few centre bounces to help combat Northern’s bigger bodies. He still looks most at home up forward though, leading up strongly to centre half-forward and providing a reliable target. Leading from closer to goal in the third term, Treacy took another strong grab inside 50 but was unable to convert the set shot, instead putting through his second chance in the following quarter from a downfield free kick. The versatile big man was also again not afraid to through his weight around, laying hits that bordered on late and tackling hard at the drop of the ball.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Another lively bottom-ager, Ginnivan racked up the possessions in the forward half, providing dangerous run out the back and linking well into Bendigo’s attacking 50. He worked really hard to work back towards goal after getting up the ground and was not afraid to take the game on. Found the goals for the third-straight occasion, booting just the one set shot in the first term but having a hand in a range of Pios attacks.

GWV Rebels vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Seldom does he win mountains of the ball, but Mahony often stands out with his clean hands in the contest. He got on the end of a couple of nice chains early on in what was a steady start to his game, going on to find a couple of nice touches inside 50 in the second term. Mahony took a strong mark from behind inside the arc but sprayed the kick, and found space shortly after but again put the kick out on the full. He continued to find the ball in-close and got his hands up smartly in tackles while trying to burst through, doing so to good effect a heap of times in the second half.

#7 Mitch Martin

The classy midfield mover was particularly deft in his use by hand, flicking out a couple of eye-catching look-aways to teammates in acres of space after drawing an opponent. His agility and smarts on the ball also shone through, getting boot to ball quickly at the stoppages to clear, while also zipping through traffic and kicking neatly after gathering on the half volley. He capitalised one one of two chances in the second term to hit the scoreboard, first missing a set shot after a 50m penalty but rectifying it with a fantastic crumb and quickfire shot from close range. Capped his game with a fantastic pass inside 50 to Nick Caris from near-on the centre circle.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was back to his ball-winning best in this outing, leading all comers in a dominant display from midfield. Rantall’s initial work was done at the stoppages, chaining handballs and getting some forward run going, while working hard around the ground in general play to find the ball just about everywhere between the arcs on the back of his enormous endurance base. While he did not always have that typical damage and drive in his disposals, Rantall was a class above with his vision from the contest and direction of play in the back half. Rightly earned a National Combine invite and should show off his quality athletic traits.

#14 Liam Herbert

Assumed his usual role of accumulating on the outside and delivered neatly by foot on a few occasions. He missed a couple of early chances to find the goals; first getting on the end of a bad Calder turnover to mark inside 50 but missing the shot, and then intercepting again but missing the lot with his quick snap opportunity. Herbert went on to work hard to find space up either end and provide a key link along the outer, and would be buoyed by his forward impact.

#32 Harry Sharp

The bottom-ager popped up very early on very an electric goal to get the Rebels going, and went on to provide plenty of spark from the wing. Sharp gathered the ball over the back inside 50 and put the foot down to burn an opponent behind him, round one in front of him and snap home an eye-catching goal. He looked dangerous when breaking forward, undeterred by a couple of fumbles when attempting to take the game on. Sharp added to his goal tally with a clever steal and snap through two or three opponents, finishing into the open goal.

#41 Fraser Marris

Marris was another bottom-ager to stand up for the Rebels, showing a happy knack for finding the ball both up the ground and closer to home from his forward starting position. He just so often found separation on the lead working up to the wing, presenting well and using the ball well by foot to link forward. He couldn’t quite take a couple of chances on goal afforded to him, missing a set shot from a downfield free kick in the first term and later missing a snap in the third term. Still had a good impact, especially in the opening stages, and works hard.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Vic Country U16 representative is impressively mobile for a tall, showing off his best traits in both the ruck and up forward. Undeterred by the more mature bodies of his opponents, Rentsch did well to grab the ball out of the ruck on a few separate occasions and boot forward, while standing up well in the contest. Rentsch worked to get to contests around the ground and presented up from the forward 50. Made a nice pass inside 50 to Liam Herbert on his left foot in the second term, doing things that not many big-men can. Wasn’t quite able to hit the scoreboard, spraying a set shot out on the full but getting in good positions to score.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Again played more of an extractor role from midfield, handing out to his runners at the stoppages and not being afforded the time and space to get going. He competed well despite being a little quiet to start off, eventually clicking into gear and clearing a few balls by foot from traffic to go inside 50. Mott also showed a willingness to tackle, doing so well at a defensive 50 stoppage in the third term and showing a different side to his game.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

He might only be a bottom-ager, but Cardillo keeps on providing good grunt in the engine room, battling hard to break tackles and applying his own with force throughout the day. He was a little down on some of his recent numbers but still popped up with a few nice touches around the ground – marking strongly on forward wing in the fourth quarter and later faking a set shot to find Sam Ramsay a little further inside attacking 50.

#8 Sam Ramsay

It was another best-on display from Ramsay, who is pretty easy on the eye in full flight. Time and again he found space breaking away from the stoppage, reading the play well to either break forward and receive over the top, or scoot out the back and wheel around onto his left side. Ramsay is hard to stop when he gets on his bike, ending his quick bursts with long raking kicks. While he did so often enough to have an effect, Ramsay could perhaps benefit from mixing up his ball use, with some of his long kicks either cut off or to no one in particular. It is still an effective way to put the opposition defenders under pressure, and Ramsay was simply a magnet to the ball. Has put together a fantastic last month after missing Metro selection, and is doing all the right things.

#38 Brodie Newman

Started to get back to his best in this outing, putting in a more attacking effort in his time down back and proving effective when thrown forward. He started with a daring kick into the corridor in the first quarter and provided a solid kick-in target across the opening half. After the main break, Newman swung forward and got involved straight away with a lead-up mark from a centre bounce clearance. Leading up once more, Newman wheeled around in the centre square, took a bounce and launched long to assist Samuel Paea’s goal in the third term in a great bit of play. He continued to present well and proved too strong for many of his opponents, combining it with good movement at the drop of the ball.

#44 Harrison Andronaco

Kept his spot after a decent showing on debut last time out, and worked into the game well this time around. The 16-year-old did not lay many tackles but made them count, locking the ball in well and earning a holding-the-ball free kick in the third term. His carving forward runs looked dangerous, using subtle signals to fake-out opponents and afford himself that bit of time and space. Ended with 1.2; missing his first shot with a quick snap from congestion and another in the final term, but slotting home late in the third quarter after a clever stop and prop inside 50.

#45 Flynn Gentile

Has been a decent contributor in his three games thus far and just seems to find the ball with ease. Most of Gentile’s work was done on the outside, drawing opponents well when handing off and getting busy in general play with some forward drive. While his kicking wasn’t always sharp, Gentile made a couple of neat passes throughout – including one to find Brodie Newman inside 50 late on. One of a few Cannons 16-year-olds to keep an eye on.

NAB League Boys Round 15 wash-up: Cannons steal points as Murray and Bendigo grab important wins

WHILE two top-tier teams ran away to comfortable wins in Round 15 of the NAB League, a couple of upsets are sure to shake up the standings heading into Wildcard Round. With Murray (ninth) and Bendigo (tenth) getting the better of higher-ranked opponents, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels almost followed suit in Sunday’s sole fixture, just falling short of Calder in an exciting end to the round.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.4 (28)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 6.8 | 11.10 | 13.15 (93)

GOALS
Tasmania: O. Sanders, L. Gadomski, J. Chaplin, J. Callow
Sandringham: A. Hanrahan 3, K. Yorke 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, J. Bowey, J. Bell, B. O’Leary, J. Mifsud, M. Bergman

BEST
Tasmania: L. Viney, J. Callow, O. Davis, S. Collins, R. Mansell, M. McGuinness
Sandringham: A. Hanrahan, R. Bowman, J. Bell, R. Byrnes, D. Chirgwin, M. Bergman

Sandringham Dragons have come home from Tasmania with a comprehensive victory over the Devils, running out 65-point winners in Launceston. The Dragons looked ominous early, booting three goals to one in the first term, and had six goals from 14 scoring shots on the board by the main break to Tasmania’s two from three. Angus Hanrahan got involved in the second half with three goals to help the Dragons pile on five majors to one in the third term as they put any doubt of a Devils comeback aside, eventually comfortably getting home, 13.15 (93) to 4.4 (28). Hanrahan was a clear best on ground in the venue next to where older brother Ollie ran out for Hawthorn, with the versatile utility picking up 33 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds, two tackles and converting three goals. Along with Hanrahan, Ryan Byrnes caused headaches around the stoppages on his way to 28 disposals, nine inside 50s and a goal, while Darcy Chirgwin, Jackson Voss and Jake Bowey were all busy throughout the game. Riley Bowman and Jack Bell dominated the hitouts against smaller opponents and gave their midfields first opportunity. For the losers, Liam Viney impressed in defence alongside Matt McGuinness, whilst Sam Collins and Oliver Davis pushed hard in midfield and Jackson Callow kept presenting up forward.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.3 | 3.4 | 4.13 | 6.15 (51)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.7 | 8.10 | 12.13 (85)

GOALS
Dandenong: W. Bravo 2, L. Williams 2, H. Young, B. Milford
Gippsland: H. Neocleous 3, K. Robinson 2, F. Phillips 2, M. McGarrity 2, J. Smith 2, S. Berry

BEST
Dandenong: H. Young, B. Nyuon, H. Berenger, W. Bravo, N. Heath, E. Cahill
Gippsland: S. Flanders, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, H. Neocleous, Z. Reid, R. Angwin

Gippsland Power strengthened its chances of holding onto a top three spot with an impressive 34-point win over Dandenong in enemy territory. The Power took the lead after nine minutes in the first term and never looked back, extending their 11-point quarter time lead with five goals to two in the second stanza to get well on top. After a quiet patch after the main break where Dandenong managed the sole third-quarter goal, Gippsland kicked away again to cruise to victory. An impressive five of the Power’s six goal kickers found multiples, led by Harvey Neocleous‘ three majors, but it was the Vic Country representative trio of Sam Flanders (19 disposals), Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, 10 inside 50s), and Brock Smith (21 disposals, eight marks, nine rebound 50s) who did most of the damage in general play. For an improving Dandenong, Hayden Young showed off his prowess around the ball with a game-high 26 disposals and one goal alongside Ned Cahill (23 disposals, seven tackles, six inside 50s). Meanwhile, Bigoa Nyuon covered the late omission of Sam De Koning and an injury to Bailey Schmidt to have 14 disposals and 22 hitouts from the ruck, with Lachlan Williams (21 disposals, two goals) good on the outside. The Stingrays have at least one game in hand against every other side, and will look to climb back up the ranks in their final two fixtures. A tough assignment against ladder leaders Eastern is up next, while Gippsland travels to face Bendigo next after a bye.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 4.2 | 9.3 | 16.9 | 18.13 (121)
WESTERN JETS 1.1 | 2.5 | 3.6 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS
Murray: J. Rachele 3, J. Boyer 3, W. Chandler 2, T. Panuccio 2, C. Wild, L. Ash, K. Chalcraft, N. Pendergast, C. Byrne, J. Chalcraft, N. Irvine, D. Bedendo
Western: J. Honey 3, J. Horo, A. Manton, B. Ryan, D. Grmusa

BEST
Murray: J. Boyer, D. Clarke, J. Rachele, L. Ash, J. Chalcraft, C. Byrne
Western: C. Raak, L. Conway, J. Honey, A. Manton, D. Andrews , E. Jeka

In the Bushrangers’ clear best performance for the year, Murray completely dominated its game with Western Jets up in Wangaratta, putting the top four hopefuls to the sword in a massive 72-point win. The 12-goal win arguably could have been more, with the game done and dusted by the final break with the margin out to 81 points and as much as 87 early in the final term, though to the Jets’ credit they kept fighting and booted four of the last five goals of the game to cut the final deficit to 72. Jimmy Boyer booted three goals from 26 disposals and seven marks, while Cam Wild (29 disposals, one goal), Jye Chalcraft (26 disposals, one goal) and Dylan Clarke (24 disposals, one goal) all hit the scoreboard as well. Charlie Byrne was impressive in defence for the winners, while up forward, Under 16s mid-forward Josh Rachele was super with three goals from 21 touches and setting up multiple scoring opportunities for his teammates. For Western, Cody Raak (24 disposals, 11 rebounds) stood up in the absence of key teammates to continue his good form, whilst overagers Daly Andrews (24 disposals) and Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 52 hitouts) worked hard throughout the midfield, and Josh Honey (16 disposals, 3.2) was the most damaging forward for the Jets in an otherwise disappointing performance.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.7 | 7.8 (50)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.1 | 6.4 | 9.7 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS
Northern: N. Cox 4, C. Barbera, J. D’Intinosante, L. McMahon
Bendigo: J. Evans 2, J. Ginnivan, C. Smith, A. Gundry, W. Wallace, E. Roberts, J. Hickman, J. Rodi, B. Worme, J. Treacy, R. Wilson, K. Atwell

BEST
Northern: J. Davies, J. Potter, N. Cox, S. Brazier, S. Philp, R. Gardner
Bendigo: J. Rodi, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, J. Hickman, K. Attwell, A. Gundry

Bendigo Pioneers delivered arguably the upset of the round, trumping the Northern Knights by 37 points at Preston City Oval in Saturday’s final fixture. The travelling side edged ahead early on after a tight start and really threatened to take the game away from Northern with three goals to nil in the first twenty minutes of the second term, but late goals to Josh D’Intinosante and Nikolas Cox kept the Knights in with a sniff. The Pioneers delivered an ideal response, again starting well after the main break and grabbing a definitive four-goal buffer heading into the last turn, before adding four goals to two in the final quarter to run away with an impressive win. An impressive tally of 11 individual goal kickers was led by two from Jack Evans, who thoroughly enjoyed celebrating each, with Jack Ginnivan (22 disposals, seven marks, one goal) another to impress in the forward half. Further afield, Jeremy Rodi and Jack Hickman provided great burst from the stoppages, with solid service coming from Aaron Gundry in the ruck. Despite the disappointing loss there were a few standouts for Northern too, with mobile bottom-age utility Cox booting four goals, while Jackson Davies (24 disposals, 10 marks) was again terrific down back and Sunny Brazier (24 disposals, seven tackles) joined Sam Philp (22 disposals) in doing a heap of dirty-work amongst the mud pit of Preston City Oval’s centre square. While the Knights can enjoy a week off before facing Western in their final fixture, Bendigo is set to do battle with GWV in Round 16.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.6 | 7.11 | 8.13 (61)
CALDER CANNONS 2.1 | 4.3 | 6.7 | 9.11 (65)

GOALS
GWV: N. Caris 2, M. Lloyd 2, H. Sharp 2, I. Grant, M. Martin
Calder: M. Fletcher 3, N. Gentile 3, H. Andronaco, S. Paea, J. O’Sullivan

BEST
GWV: I. Grant, J. Rantall, J. Hill, C. Craig-Peters, J. Dwyer, H. Sharp
Calder: S. Ramsay, J. Cardillo, F. Gentile, J. Eyre, J. Hotchkin, H. Andronaco

The GWV Rebels fell agonisingly short of what would have been a deserving upset win on home turf, fading out late to go down by four points to an inexperienced Calder Cannons side in Sunday’s only game. Despite building a steady buffer in each term and leading at every change, the Rebels just failed to hang on in the last as Calder found a second wind to boot 3.4 to their 1.2 and snatch victory. Sam Ramsay continued his outstanding form of late to collect 33 disposals and lay 12 tackles as arguably the best player afield, with only GWV ball magnet Jay Rantall (35 disposals, eight marks) topping his disposal haul. Ned Gentile was another to stand up with 21 disposals and three goals, with bottom-ager Jackson Cardillo (18 disposals) and 16-year-olds Flynn Gentile (21 disposals, six tackles) and Harrison Andronaco (17 disposals, 1.2) giving a promising glimpse into the future. For the Rebels, Izaac Grant had his best game of the year with 20 disposals and a goal, with Jed Hill handy off half-back, Cooper Craig-Peters (27 disposals, 10 tackles) busy through midfield and Mitch Martin (21 disposals, one goal) adding his usual class. GWV now faces a couple of all-country fixtures to see out its regular season, while the Cannons are booked to clash with Eastern in Round 17 after a bye.

NAB League Boys Round 14 preview: U16 talent hits the big time

AFTER a week off for all but two of the NAB League Boys sides, the competition recommences full-time action with a double-header at Box Hill City Oval in Saturday’s lone fixtures. A top-four clash between Eastern and Oakleigh firms as the game of the round, with the Geelong and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) clash set to have an impact down the other end of the ladder. Watch for the debuts of some of the nation’s best Under 16s too, fresh off their National Championship campaigns.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Saturday July 20, 11:45am
Box Hill City Oval

A near full-strength Gippsland Power unit will look to pile the pain on Tasmania when they do battle at Box Hill City Oval to kick off Round 14. Both sides are coming off losses, but the Devils have faced a few more challenges over the last four weeks in a string of losses. Results aside, their usual competitiveness has risen in the last fortnight, but Gippsland’s ins make the Power a tough proposition for even a side in the best of form. A massive seven Country representatives return to the side, with the likes of Brock Smith, Sam Flanders, Charlie Comben, and Josh Smith re-forming that strong spine. On the other hand, Tasmania will be without both Mitch O’Neill and competition leading goal kicker Jackson Callow in a big blow to their chances. O’Neill’s class through the midfield will likely be covered by the likes of Under-16 Division 2 MVP Sam Banks and bottom-aged Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins, meaning Callow’s goals could prove the most difficult void to fill. The game will be the Devils’ last in Victoria for the regular season, with their remaining two fixtures set to be played at home, while Gippsland will finish off with a couple of country fixtures.

EASTERN RANGES vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday July 20, 2:15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what looms as the game of the round, Oakleigh will look to derail Eastern’s charge atop the NAB League ladder when the sides meet to round out Saturday’s action. The Ranges are on a tear, simply finding a way to win in each of their six-consecutive victories dating back to Round 7. Having twice gotten the better of fellow top-four hopefuls Sandringham in that run, they should come into this fixture against a rampant Oakleigh outfit with the confidence to stand tall despite the Chargers’ form. Oakleigh’s attempt to make it seven wins from their last eight outings will be dented slightly by the loss of promising bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Tucker, and Reef McInnes, but gain some midfield depth as Jeromy Lucas and Fraser Elliot make the 23. Eastern’s key position strength will be tested as skipper James Ross joins Jamieson Rossiter and Joel Nathan as outs, but we should be treated to a glimpse into the future as Metro U16 stars Tyler Sonsie and Tyreece Leiu have been named to make their debuts. Both could feature through midfield, with Metro MVP Sonsie also able to move forward well. It adds another layer to what already shapes as an interesting battle, with the Ranges hoping to maintain their two-game buffer in first place.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday July 21, 9:30am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

A chance to snap losing streaks is up for grabs for Sandringham and Dandenong at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, with both sides sliding out of the top four in recent weeks. The Dragons have been on a three-game slide while Dandenong has lost its last four, and Sandringham could well jump back into the top four should results go their way. The Stingrays’ six changes seems significant, but it pales in comparison to Sandringham’s 13 with a raft of top-end talent going both ways in either starting 23. Dandenong’s ins read well, with All Australians Hayden Young and Sam De Koning slotting back in alongside Country teammates Ned Cahill, Blake Kuipers, and Bigoa Nyuon. On the other hand, the home side regains Fischer McAsey and Miles Bergman alongside over-agers Riley Bowman and Angus Hanrahan, but lose stars on each line in the form of Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Charlie Dean. The Dragons’ strength of depth has shone through thus far, and should carry them through well in this bout despite Dandenong’s sizeable inclusions. If the Eastern and Oakleigh game is the best of the round, this looks to be a close second with clear finals ramifications in play.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The Calder Cannons could shoot into the top four with a win and favourable results elsewhere, but Bendigo Pioneers stand in their way in a meeting set for Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Cannons have enjoyed a good stretch of form, winning in four of their last five outings, with some key talent in the form of Daniel Mott, Harrison Jones, and Brodie Newman set to add a bit of class to the side which is sailing along smoothly. Bendigo has fared a touch differently, but the Pioneers found form well in the last three rounds with two wins and a 10-point loss added to their record. The competition in this game is a little stiffer, but the inclusions of Brady Rowles and Logan Fitzgerald should bode well for their chances of a fifth win. Big man Josh Treacy also returns, named up forward alongside usual full back Will Wallace as the Pioneers shuffle their key position magnets – and they could well be tested in that area given Calder’s ins. Bendigo should make a game of it on home turf, with both sides refreshed after a week off and keen to gain as much ladder position as possible with just three regular season rounds remaining.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Deakin Reserve

The battle for top eight spots heats up as ninth place Murray hosts eighth place Northern with just four points separating the two sides. Both have enjoyed good bursts of form of late, with Northern on a three-game winning run and Murray’s own streak of three only just broken last round by ladder-leaders, Eastern. Either sides’ true credentials will be revealed as they go close to hitting full strength, while also welcoming some Under 16 talent to their respective line-ups. Kevin Sheehan medallist Josh Rachele is one of those talented 16-year-olds named to play, while Northern boast Darcy Wilmot and Jack Rossimel. In the top-age stakes, Murray look to have replenished well with co-skipper Lachlan Ash returning alongside Cam Wild, while fellow Country representative Elijah Hollands also slots in. For Northern, key midfield cog Adam Carafa goes out alongside Metro teammate Nikolas Cox in a blow to their depth, but the versatility of the side should see the Knights cover their losses. With the top eight make-up truly taking shape in the closing three rounds, this game will prove to be a key one in deciding Wildcard Round fixtures.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday July 21, 1:30pm
GMHBA Stadium

Bottom two sides Geelong and GWV clash at GMHBA Stadium to see out Round 14, with just four wins between the teams heading into the final few fixtures. If history is anything to go by, this is set to be a close one, as the Rebels managed to snatch a one-point win over the Falcons all the way back in Round 2 in a thriller. The stakes are arguably higher in this clash with pride on the line and some notable under-age talent breaking into either starting 23. GWV welcomes Country Under 16 representatives Ben Hobbs and Josh Rentsch, with top-age stars Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin, Toby Mahony also set to really bolster the line-up. Meanwhile, the Falcons are finally set to again field one of their two original co-captains with Jesse Clarke back into the defensive unit, with the likes of over-agers Lochlan Hocking and Sam Christensen getting another crack in the starting team. With limited opportunities to bolster up their win tallies, both sides should give this game a red hot crack on the hallowed Kardinia Park turf.

NAB League Boys Round 11 preview: Top four set for a shake up in Futures Round

AFTER a week off, the NAB League Boys top four set-up is set for a shake-up this weekend. A top of the table clash headlines the action, while the Gippsland Power face a tough task in holding onto fourth as Western and Oakleigh hunt their spot. A Mars Stadium double-header leads the five Country-based Saturday games, with Eastern hosting Sunday’s only fixture at Box Hill. This weekend also marks the first Futures Round, where teams are required to field at least 11 sixteen-seventeen year olds and squads are expanded to 24 players.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday June 22, 11:00am
Twin Oval, Kingston

The slightly replenished Tasmania Devils are set to host a Northern Knights side without all of their Vic Metro squad members, as both look to crack into the top eight with a win. The tenth-place, 4-5 Devils have been ultra competitive in their first full-time NAB League season, but struggled last time out against Murray with a host of stars instead suiting up for the Allies in their first outing for the year. This game is the first of five home games for Tasmania over the last six rounds, and with Northern missing as host of big names, could act as a chance to get on a roll. The inclusions of bottom-age Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins should inject some class into the middle and off half-back respectively, but the in-form Matt McGuinness and his fellow over-ager Lachlan Gadomski come out of the side to accomodate the Futures requirements. Meanwhile, the Knights will once again be without Adam Carafa as he slots back into the Metro side, joined by rangy bottom-age utility Nikolas Cox as key outs. A host of bottom-agers also replace the likes of Nathan Howard, Bailey Leonard and Ben Nikolovski, who have been key figures in the team this year. It will be a tough test for the Knights as they look to build on their Round 10 win, with the top-age talent of Sam Philp, Jackson Davies and Josh D’Intinosante on each line crucial to their chances. Expect a slog down on the Apple Isle to open the round.

 

GWV REBELS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday June 22, 11:30am
Mars Stadium

A top four spot could be on the horizon for Western Jets should they get over the GWV Rebels in enemy territory and have results go their way. They travel to Ballarat with high hopes of claiming a fourth consecutive victory, as their weekend opponents are coming off a goalless trumping at the hands of Eastern. Still, the Rebels should be buoyed by the inclusions of a couple of in-form Country representatives as they search for just their third win of the year, and their first at Mars Stadium. Over-ager Matty Lloyd comes out of the side, but Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony should cover the gap left in the midfield/forward rotation two-fold after promising national carnival outings. Meanwhile, the in-form Jets lose some tall timber in the form of Metro inclusion Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke, but gain some midfield depth as Josh Honey and Daly Andrews make their NAB League returns. The likes of Lucas Rocci down back and over-age tall Will Kennedy have shown form of late for the Jets, while Jack Tillig and Riley Polkinghorne have stood tall in a depleted Rebels line-up. Form may show otherwise, but the home side will be looking to really test the Jets, but Western have a lot to play for as they hope to keep pace with the top four.

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday June 22, 1:30pm
Shepley Oval

The Dandenong Stingrays will be looking to get right back onto the winners list as they host Murray Bushrangers at Shepley Oval on Saturday afternoon. A loss could remarkably see the Stingrays dislodged from the top four – barring a draw in the Gippsland-Oakleigh clash – after going undefeated across their first seven games. The raft of changes finally caught up with them last time out, and they are set to face a few more in the lead up to this game. Country representatives Sam De Koning and Lachlan Williams are welcome additions, but the depth of Luca Goonan, Corey Ellison, and Jai Nanscawen that had helped to keep the Stingrays in the hunt with their stars out are all exclusions in this week’s 24. On the other hand, Murray is set to benefit greatly from Country’s bye, regaining skipper Lachlan Ash alongside versatile midfielder Cam Wild and Allies representative, Will Chandler. Ash should add a ton of class to the back six, working in tandem with the in-form Jimmy Boyer and perhaps even freeing up Jye Chalcraft to go forward should he be moved into the middle. A disappointing start to the year is something the Bushrangers look to be putting behind them after their last outing, with the top eight still well within reach at just four points away. Beating Dandenong has proved a difficult job over the last two seasons though, and the reigning premiers should be keen to bounce back after a rare loss.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday June 22, 2:00pm
Morwell Football Ground

Oakleigh Chargers can throw a spanner in the top four works and snatch Gippsland Power’s spot in one fell swoop with a win as the two do battle in Morwell on Saturday. The Chargers look to be back to their usual selves on the back of four-straight wins, with their last two coming by a combined 126 points. Their depth has been well and truly tested during the middle part of the season and just as they look to be adapting well, they are set to contend with at least another 14 changes from their Round 10 side. Representative action calls for Jeromy Lucas and Will Phillips, while Futures round sees over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney out and school football sees last round’s five-goal hero, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan also out of the side. On the other hand, the Power should benefit greatly from a Vic Country bye – regaining the likes of Harrison Pepper, Ryan Sparkes, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben to add enormous strength and class to each line. Gippsland will look to overpower an Oakleigh midfield led by usual wingman Josh May and bottom-age gun Lochlan Jenkins, and should have some capable aerial cover in defence with Smith back. You can never rule Oakleigh out – especially given recent form – but Gippsland looks a formidable opponent for any side this week.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday June 22, 2:00pm
Mars Stadium

Two sides desperate for a win are set to clash in Saturday’s final fixture, as Bendigo looks to do the season double over Geelong at Mars Stadium. The Pioneers are reeling on the back of six-straight losses, but impressively beat the Falcons in Round 1 in their first of two wins to open the season. On the other hand, Geelong has been massively unlucky to find themselves at 1-7-1, fading out late in a number of games to surrender winning positions and remain the lowest-ranked Victorian side. The largely inexperienced Falcons side has shown promise though, and Futures round should provide the perfect platform for their younger talent to shine through once again. Noah Gribble, Charlie Brauer, and Henry Walsh are three notable bottom-age ins, with holes left by Charlie Sprague, Charlie Lazzaro, and Noah Gadsby. The Bendigo team looks near full strength barring the absence of their two top-end stars, with the likes of top-agers Ben Worme, Brady Rowles, and James Schischka all important figures with plenty of ball winning ability. This should be a cracking contest as two Country sides in varying bouts of form put it all on the line, and the prevalence of Bendigo’s top-agers could prove a key factor in deciding the outcome.

 

EASTERN RANGES vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Sunday June 23, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

A top-of-the-table clash closes Round 11 in Sunday’s only fixture, as Eastern Ranges and Sandringham Dragons go head to head for the second time this year. In their first meeting, current ladder leaders Eastern got the better of the Dragons away from home in a low-scoring tussle, and may even come in as favourites for this bout. The Dragons will be impacted once again by at least 15 changes, but have a couple of more than handy ins. Ryan Byrnes and Darcy Chirgwin will slot straight back into the midfield in their returns from injury, adding strength and class to the engine room mix with Angus Hanrahan and Jake Bowey going the other way. They should have an interesting time combating ball-winning Eastern pair Lachlan Stapleton and Zak Pretty in what will be a hotly contested midfield duel. Both sides lose stocks in the ruck department as Riley Smith is set to miss for the Ranges, while Riley Bowman and Andrew Courtney also come out of the Sandringham side. A swap of Metro representative talls from either end is also a feature of Eastern’s changed, with James Ross a handy addition as Jack Bell comes in for the Dragons. With big contests set to take place on each line, expect a high-quality contest as both sides throw everything at a result and the chance to claim top spot.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 8

A TRULY mixed bag of NAB League results in Round 8 saw some teams play above their level and match their more fancied opponents. Plenty of players shone across the weekend, and we cast eyes on each game to provide you with notes on players selected in initial representative squads. Each note is the opinion of the individual author.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

It was a typical Lachie Potter game, with the Knights top-ager driving forward well off half-back. Mopping up the loose ball in defensive 50 at speed, Potter constantly looked to round his nearest opponents and boot his side forward with long kicks. While his pace is a clear strength, it worked against him at times as he tried to properly grasp the ball in the back half and fumbled early on. When he did manage to get his hands on it though, Potter often made his Oakleigh opposition look silly as he repeatedly took them and the game on. Could look to lower his eyes more often, with his kicking accuracy compromised as he blazed away, but you wouldn’t want to thwart the instincts of such a natural player.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was not a massive game from D’Intinosante, but his work rate inside forward 50 and at the coalface in midfield was outstanding. ‘JD’ dug in with repeat efforts and was constantly on the move at stoppages, while also leading smartly when starting forward to be hit up inside 50. His kicking lacks a touch of penetration at times, and D’Intinosante looked wary of that as he looked to find targets closer to goal when others may have had a shot around the arc. While his disposal efficiency was compromised by the amount of contested ball he earned, D’Intinosante usually made good decisions when given time and showed his goal sense despite not finding a major. Took a good overhead mark going back with the flight during the third term, and is certainly a trier.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Playing mostly through the midfield, Gardner was reasonably quiet through the middle stages of the game, but was impactful in a tight final term. Gardner popped up with a couple of nice running clearances and balls inside 50, with one ending in a missed shot on goal. While he could not quite drag his side over the line, Gardner’s work at the forward-half stoppages was great to watch in the final 25 minutes, and showed plenty of the promise we saw in his bottom-age year. Was clean at ground level and bided his time well in traffic, while also cashing in with a goal from a 50-metre penalty in the third term.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess is as reliable as they come, constantly providing an outlet option in the back half and positioning himself well to intercept. Those traits boded well for his role of sweeping up across half-back, with his efficient kicking also ensuring he was trusted with kick-in duties. Took on a slightly different role in the second half as Oakleigh threw co-captain Dylan Williams forward, with Sturgess the obvious match-up for him. While Williams would boot two crucial goals and trouble Sturgess with his athleticism, the Knights defender was unlucky to concede one of them with a free kick as the two tussled one-out. Was unlucky as Williams assisted another goal too, with Sturgess left to mark two Chargers players inside 50, and coming off his man to very nearly stop the move altogether. Not a bad outing, and continues to be one of Northern’s most consistent.

#13 Sam Philp

Philp was the standout Knight on the day and is an absolute bull in the midfield. The contested-ball machine won most of his 28 possessions himself, and pushed his side forward with nine clearances. Did well to get involved outside of the stoppages at both ends when running through midfield, and accumulated nicely across the day. Would spend time forward in the second and third terms, but found the goals with a clutch set shot conversion in the fourth quarter after moving back into the middle. Looks increasingly composed on the ball, but can sharpen up his kicking.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

By no means a huge accumulator, but Macpherson looks a tidy player. Has found his spot in the back six now after a slow start to the season and is usually a neat user, finding a good amount of ball at ground level. Positions well in defence and as a smaller player, is starting to pressure more. Looks a different type of player to his brother, Darcy, and is starting to adapt.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was down on his usual numbers, and struggled to break through with the run and carry we have come to expect from midfield. Still by no means had a bad game, winning 17 disposals and having 10 tackles to show his work rate at the stoppages. The Oakleigh co-captain almost found the goals with a snap and set shot attempt, but also spent some time on the outer of the arc as Oakleigh looked to lock it in. Was employed off half-back at times too as he hoped to find more space, and provided his usual rebound from there.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

The GWS Academy product accumulated well throughout the game, and started brightly with a sharp kick forward as he carved a run through midfield. Lucas moved onto the wing as Oakleigh looked for more outside run, but he looked to be a bit down on confidence after missing a few kicks and being caught holding the ball. Lucas went to ground on occasion with opponents nipping at his heels, but still managed to find the ball and looked better with his disposal by hand. Has the potential to provide more damaging kicks, as showcased by another neat find going inside 50 during the final term, but he was a touch inconsistent in that area on the day. A solid outing.

#23 Dylan Williams

The Oakleigh co-captain proved a match-winner as he moved forward in the second half, and always makes defenders wary of his presence. Starting off half-back as he increasingly does, Williams showed his smarts with some good positioning to intercept a couple of errand Northern kicks forward. Williams was provided with plenty of instruction when he came to the bench and is clearly still adapting to the new role, with his clear skill and smoothness on the ball carrying him through. He is so effective one-on-one and creative forward of centre, so it was no surprise that he made an immediate impact when moved forward. Almost created a goal with a beautifully weighted left-foot kick inside 50, but later found the first goal of the final term as he marked on the behind line. Got out the back smartly to provide Thomas Graham with a goal, while garnering enough attention from his direct opponent to win a free kick and boot the deciding six points half-way through the last quarter. So obviously talented, and almost impossible to stop one-out inside forward 50.

#27 Josh May

May was a constant on the wing for Oakleigh, proving most effective by hand in tight situations and driving forward well by foot. Was involved early and stood out with his ability to keep his hands free in tackles, also keeping his feet and flicking the ball out to runners. Laid a nice holding the ball tackle on defensive wing and kicked beautifully inside 50 to Spiros Sklavenitis to cap off a solid first term. While he was a touch quieter in the middle-stages, May came back into the game with another long find going inside 50, and a solid one-on-one mark on the wing to finish off.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Joe Lee

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The silky left footer was reasonably quiet, held to 15 touches. Was in and out of the game but was able to manage 12 kicks and used his disposal effectively. Works hard both ways but was rather subdued by Sandringham’s dominant midfield engine room.

#11 Aaron Gundry

The ruckman finished with 13 disposals and 22 hit-outs, capping off a trying day. Worked hard when thrown both forward and back, the mobile big man moved well around the ground and fought hard against Sandringham’s duel ruck rotation.

#20 James Schischka

The intercepting defender worked tirelessly all day, even managing a goal from his 14-disposal, five-mark effort. Took a nice intercept mark playing as a loose man in the third quarter but was otherwise reasonably quiet for the most part. His highlight of the day was when he intercepted a sloppy kick from Tyson Milne in the goal square, nailing an easy goal to put Bendigo up deep into the final quarter.

#21 Riley Wilson

Playing up forward, Wilson had one play in the dying stages of the fourth quarter where he tackled which resulted in a free kick in the Bendigo back half, setting up the play for a Pioneers goal. Finishing with 23 touches, six tackles and six rebounds, Wilson was a clear standout for the Pioneers, working tirelessly against a strong opposition midfield.

#59 Riley Clarke

The electric forward only had six touches for the day but was a dangerous avenue to goal. Ended up kicking two goals, and Clarke did a number of show-stopping things, including plucking a brilliant one-handed mark on the run. Sprayed a couple of shots on goal but his marking was solid, including taking a hotly contested lead-up effort and converting the set shot from about 40m out. Does drift in and out of games but his sticky hands when marking makes him a threatening proposition for opposition clubs to curtail.

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes was sensational for the Dragons, bursting away from stoppages all day and dominating in the contest. Finished with 31 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal. Was let down by a few inside 50 entries that were gifted to the opposition but was overall outstanding from the first siren. Had a five-disposal chain of play in the third quarter and got on the end of some Miles Bergman brilliance in the fourth, taking a nice mark in the goal square and converting. His consistent performances have been key for Sandringham, standing up in the absence of his usual midfield mates. Byrnes could not have done much more for the Dragons.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman could have possibly had a huge game had he made the most of his ample opportunities in front of goal. The hard-working midfielder slotted an inaccurate 1.5 but made up for this with his work around the ground, recording 19 disposals to go with nine tackles and six inside 50s. Bergman’s offensive and defensive traits were on display all game, including a fantastic run down tackle effort in the second quarter, showcasing his elite closing speed and desperation. Was played out of the goal square and won most of his one on ones, providing a headache for Bendigo defenders. Almost kicked a Paddy Dangerfield type goal in the fourth quarter, breaking away from the centre at pace, taking a bounce and driving it long to the square where the Dragons eventually goaled. Followed it up later with a delightful snap around the body to finish off a good passage of play from the Dragons. Played a monster final quarter when the game was on the line.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Hanrahan continued his strong form into Echuca, recording 26 touches and six marks. In a game where space was hard to find, Hanrahan managed to show his good breakaway speed out of stoppages and showcased his athleticism and agility. Wasn’t as attacking with his use as he has been and failed to hit the scoreboard but played more of a midfield role. His clean disposal stood out and he started the game off strongly. Is often unmanned at stoppages and positions himself as an attacking option, often picking up the loose ball and driving it forward.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruck duties with Andrew Courtney for the majority of the game, and Bowman again impressed with his work around the ground, finishing with two goals from 14 touches. Was one of the Dragons’ best and displayed his capacity to perform in all aspects of the game, with four tackles, four marks and 19 hit-outs to go with his work up forward. Spilled a simple chance late in the last quarter but followed it up with a tackle that he won a free for, converting the straight-forward shot. Used the ball well by foot and makes his presence felt both in the air and on the ground.

#30 Andrew Courtney

The athletic ruckman was used more around the middle of the ground rather than being plugged at either end, amassing 29 hit outs and nine disposals. Courtney was serviceable for the Dragons but doesn’t do as much around the ground, as evidenced when he found space to run and carry in the second quarter but instead opted to blaze away and cough the ball up. Can also work on using his big frame more effectively to outmuscle smaller opponents and could be more aggressive to show his physical presence.

#32 Jack Bell

The tall forward finished with only one goal from three shots but showed he can be a damaging proposition, with his vertical leap and strong hands enabling him to obtain six marks from 10 disposals. Pinch-hit in the ruck as well, and Bell’s solitary goal came from a well-timed lead to a good area where he was hit on the chest by Jack Bowey, nailing the set shot from 40m out.

#33 Corey Watts

The lock down key defender was outstanding for the Dragons, with his defensive work rate and intercept marking on show all day. Watts had one terrific defensive effort in the third quarter, running off his man to pick up the ball and rebound 50, hitting his teammate lace out on the wing. Finished with 12 touches and three marks, Watts showed he’s more than a negating player, with his offensive attributes being utilised to push Sandringham forward from siren to siren.

#43 Jake Bowey

The zippy wingman worked up and down the ground, registering 17 touches, four inside 50s and five marks. Copped a big elbow to the neck region in the second quarter and had to be assisted off but finished the game to play a strong role in Sandringham’s victory. Always uses the ball well by foot and plays the percentages well. Really lifted in the last quarter, putting his small frame on the line but also providing a strong outlet for defenders, often breaking into space on the wing and providing an option.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

Kelly started in the ruck and was constantly involved. He also spent plenty of time up forward where he proved to be very difficult to stop, especially in the air. Kelly took several strong, contested marks which resulted in two goals for his team. He showcased his reach, athleticism and sticky hands throughout the match. He ended up with 13 disposals, 15 hitouts, five marks, and two goals.

#5 Cam Wild

Wild was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day. He found plenty of the pill and never faded out of the contest. He had a few fumbles early on, but he was still able to move the ball forward. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he took a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball. Wild had a team-high 27 disposals, along with seven marks and a goal.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen was able to hit the scoreboard early, with a fantastic left foot snap in the first quarter. He would then fade in and out of the game throughout the next three quarters. He was very good in patches and his ball use moving forward caught the eye.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft did not have the biggest game possession wise, finishing with just 13 disposals. But the majority of his touches were very effective and had an impact on the game. His cleanliness at ground level and vision around the contest was noticeable. Chalcraft had an influence defensively, laying a game-high seven tackles.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Boyer was relatively quiet, accumulating 16 disposals (15 kicks). He spent time through the Bushrangers midfield and across half-back. His ball use was generally good, but he did miss targets on occasions. An okay game from the talented midfielder.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was prolific around stoppages, winning a lot of his possessions on the inside of the contest. He also won plenty of the ball on the outside, where he used the ball effectively by foot. Mott ended up with a game-high 29 disposals and one goal.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Playing on the wing, Ramsay was involved early and was able to hit the scoreboard in the first term after crumbing a marking contest to perfection. His kicking skills were top notch and he always ran hard into open space, where he would make himself a good option for his teammates. Ramsay kicked his second goal of the day in the third term when he ran into an open goal, giving the Cannons a 40-point lead. He had the chance to kick another goal moments later, but his shot on goal hit the woodwork. Ramsay collected 17 disposals and kicked two goals.

#30 Josh Kemp

Kemp started well, laying a really strong tackle on his opponent that resulted in a free-kick and shot goal on goal, which he converted successfully. He was able to hit the scoreboard again in the second term after taking a good grab inside 50. Kemp also laid some impressive tackles on the day.

#38 Brodie Newman

The general down back was very solid offensively and was just as good defensively. He had 24 disposals (16 kicks) and continually used his powerful leg to drive the ball out of the back half. Newman was the perfect player to have the ball in hand because of his clean skills and decision-making. A solid all-around game.

Geelong Falcons vs. Western Jets
By: Taylah Melki

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

Won plenty of the footy and was clever with ball in hand. He used his body well to win possession and went in hard time and time again. Good strong hands and read the flight of the ball well. Give it and go mentality and runs hard to create space for the Falcons. Good evasive skills to sidestep an opponent and then dispose of the ball to a teammate further afield.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Clever kick and good spatial awareness to push the ball forward and create a scoring opportunity for his teammate. Missed a shot at goal after rushing the kick but he had more time than he expected. He consistently tried hard to win the ball and create pressure in the Falcons attacking 50 to give his side scoring chances. Harassed his opponent both at ground level and in the air making him work for each possession. Sprague showcased good football smarts to hit up teammates on the lead in the attacking 50 with well weighted kicks and won plenty of the footy getting into clever positions across the ground.

#37 Oliver Henry

Henry got into good damaging positions but was unable to convert in front of goals slotting three behinds for the afternoon. He had good hands under pressure to take some strong marks. Good lead up at the footy and clever leading patterns able to take the mark under pressure. He applied good defensive pressure in the last term to worry his opponent out of the kick and cause him to turn the ball over in the Falcons forward 50.

#40 Jesse Clark

Good strength around the contest and was able to stand up in the tackle and keep his arms free in the third term. He was involved in the play and worked hard to win the ball in and around the contest. Reads the play well and has quick hands to move the ball out of congestion and into space. Good body work to take a nice grab, shake off his opponent and then go for a run but was unable to convert in the last term only registering a point.

Western Jets:

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was impressive throughout the game with his quick hands and worked hard at the stoppages to win the ball and dish it out to teammates. Used the ball well with a clean pick up to turn and then kick the ball inside the Jets attacking 50. Took plenty of strong grabs and showcased his ability to read the flight of the ball and get into the right positions across the ground. He did a wealth of work across the ground winning the ball from half back and then pushing forward to create options in the forward half. He showcased some good dash to break away from the pack and go for a run along the boundary line to create some forward momentum for his side.

#20 Darcy Cassar

He won a truckload of the footy and was constantly involved in the contest across the ground. Cassar worked hard to impact every play and ensure he was an option. Good sidestep to get around his opponents and ran hard to create space across the ground. Clean at ground level and used the ball well with majority of his possessions kicks. He was important across the back half running the ball out of defence time and time again. He showcased his strength to stand up in a tackle and still get rid of the ball to a teammate. He was classy with ball in hand and tackled hard to win the ball back for the Jets credit.

#24 Josh Honey

Good attacking play to keep the ball moving, used his quick hands and good vision to pass the footy off to an opponent streaming by in better position. Clever back up play to help out his teammates and provide running support. Honey applied good strong physical pressure laying some crunching tackles with a big tackle in the third term to win a holding the ball call. Clever goal in the third term to pick the ball up cleanly and then stream into an open goal square and kick it straight through the middle.

#47 Will Kennedy 

Good turn of speed on the lead to accelerate away from his opponent and take the mark in the forward 50 but did not score on that opportunity. Kennedy did a wealth of work moving between a variety of positions and covering the ground well to impact the play. Good body work to win the ball in the ruck against a bigger bodied opponent. His ground work and follow up efforts were impressive, tracking the ball well at ground level and winning plenty of the footy.

Tasmania Devils vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Ed Pascoe

Tasmania:

#1 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill had a quiet game by his standards and struggled to get any meaningful run or touches for a good portion of the game. The intent was there with his attack on the ball and the man, but was sometimes a bit overzealous with his tackling which resulted in a few frees against. It was not until the last quarter where he really started to turn the game, being swung forward and kicking two quick goals while looking very lively and dangerous whenever the ball went inside forward 50. O’Neill had a few nice kicks but a few poor ones as well throughout the day, but one kick was perfectly weighted to a teammate in the second quarter. O’Neill finished the game with 15 disposals, five tackles and two goals.

#3 Oliver Davis

Davis was a ball magnet through the midfield, winning it both at the contest and around the ground. His smarts with ball in hand was notable, very rarely missing a target and rarely taking the wrong option and a lot of his disposals came from knowing where the ball was going to be next whether that was roving a pack in defence or getting forward of centre in space to kick long inside 50. Davis finished the game with 33 disposals, seven marks and nine inside 50s in a best on ground performance where he couldn’t have done much more and certainly looked a mature player and leader despite not being eligible until the 2020 draft.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness was one of many solid performers down back for Tasmania he read the play well and had a good mix of defence and offence. He kicked a lovely goal on the run, running past a teammate who had marked inside 50 and that was just before the quarter time siren to give his team some momentum. The standout trait for McGuinness was obviously his kicking with his left foot hitting targets at will whether that was short or a big long 50m kick. He also intercepted well and was a calm head down back. McGuinness finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds and a goal in a well rounded performance down back.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young battled hard down back and was a strong contributor for Dandenong across the four quarters. He was strong in defence early with a strong tackle and his general attack on the ball was stellar. A feature of his game was his kicking where it was not only penetrating but long and dangerous often perfectly placed for the leading target. He was moved to into the midfield in the last quarter and attacked the ball well but it was his work down back that again stood out most taking a very strong intercept mark late in he quarter when the heat was on. Young finished the game with 19 disposals and four rebound 50s.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Riordan was a constant in the Dandenong engine room as a standout at the stoppages with his attack and clean hands at the contest. He hit the scoreboard early taking a nice intercept mark and kicking the set shot goal in the first quarter. His second and last quarters were his most productive and eye catching, and he showed some nice burst to evade a tackler in the second quarter and also worked hard behind the ball to help out his defenders and in the last quarter. He was pivotal at the stoppages winning some big clearances and eternally using the ball well. Riordan finished the game with 23 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning started the game forward and standing at 200cm was there to be a marking option but didn’t quite excel at the role. He did however get a nice front and square at a marking on test deep in the forward pocket – showing his clean hands and agility for a tall but was unfortunately taken in a good tackle. he got to pinch hit in the ruck in the first quarter and actually looked quite impressive with his leap and good taps. He was moved to defence rather quickly and showed his good rebound and clean ball use and he also did look more comfortable back there, he rarely fumbled at all and was very clean at ground level which is often an issue for players of his height. De Koning finished the game with eight disposals but rarely wasted his touches.

Gippsland Power vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a productive day at the office playing through the middle and pushing forward. Worked hard at the stoppages, showing clean hands at ground level and able to handball clear to free teammates on the outside. He had the smarts to draw a couple of players running the opposite direction and handballed over his head to a teammate who was free because of the move. He did not rush and assessed his options well throughout the day, and had two of the easier goals he will kick in his career, receiving a couple of handballs over opponents to him in the goal square – first from Riley Baldi in the opening term and Charlie Comben in the final term, to finish off his hard work in the middle with two majors.

#6 Riley Baldi

Just gets to the right positions and finds a truckload of the ball. His vision and work rate is very high, but his execution by foot can let him down at times. A couple of early inside 50s were swallowed up by opposition defenders just because they went to the wrong side of the one-on-one contest. His field kicking through midfield was better as he used his vision to see free opponents streaming down the middle and used it to open the game up. Set up a goal to Sam Flanders and another to Josh Smith, while having a funny moment where he put his hand up for the ruck stoppage despite Smith being there. Baldi read the ball of ruck hands well throughout the game.

#10 Leo Connolly

A slick mover, Connolly was impressive in patches throughout the game, particularly moving forward in transition. He was able to spin out of trouble early in the game and handball free, something he did a number of times, using a neat sidestep to create his own space in close. He laid some good tackles and had a long shot on goal which just fell short and rushed across the line in the second term. Found space in the last quarter and marked from a short Charlie Comben kick and put it straight through the middle from 45m out.

#12 Brock Smith

Did not have the prolific numbers of past weeks, but did not need to given the lack of entries inside the defensive 50 at times. Such was Gippsland’s dominance in the first half, Smith often pushed up the ground and worked well to add an extra number to the contest, handballing with teammates to get the ball moving in transition. When in defence he settled down the side and used the ball well under pressure to gain distance up the field. Took a very good mark one-on-one against Mitch Martin in the goal square to save a certain goal, and even when he lost front position in a marking contest managed to win the ball with great second efforts. Did all he could deep in defence.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Did well on the outside working hard up the wing, but also went in to win some hard balls at ground level, clean with his hands to spin out of trouble whilst under pressure to handball to a teammate. He just burrows in at ground level and wins his own footy, then can spread to the outside and provide an option. Had a good fend-off in defence to get the ball free to a teammate by hands.

#16 Josh Smith

A big game from Smith who while he did not see much of it in the final term, had a massive first three quarters and was close to best on ground. He provided a presence with his marking ability and lead out strongly, taking the ball out in front, but also worked hard with his second efforts to make a contest at ground level. Smith finished with three goals, booting one from a mark early, and two from snaps, including his second after dropping a mark he should have taken, grabbing the ball and putting it through off a couple of steps. Had a chance for his fourth from long range which was on target, but was rushed across on the line. Laid tackles and bumps for his teammates, while sharing the ruck load when not inside 50.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips continued his good form this season, creating a number of chances inside 50 and booting a couple of goals. Had an outside of the boot kick to Josh Smith in the opening term, with Smith converting the opportunity, then had his own chance but drifted to the right. Kicked his first from a snap, then missed another chance this time to the left. Had some hit and miss passes by foot at times trying to keep the ball low, but worked hard pushing up to the wing, and even won a possession in the defensive 50. Laid a great tackle on the wing to show off his defensive capability and then kicked the perfect set shot in the third term after winning a free kick from being thrown to the ground. Had another couple of chances in the fourth term when he had a long shot from just inside 50 which was touched on the line, then attempted a dribble goal under pressure but bounced the wrong side of the post.

#22 Zach Reid

Used the ball well in defence and was strong overhead, seemed to move well around the ground but at times was a tad slow to react and was tackled a couple of times, forcing him to rush his disposal. Reid showed off a nice long, technically sound kick and showed good body work on his opponent one-on-one deep in defence.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Had a few nice plays when up the ground, providing a stronger body at stoppages, winning the ball in the middle and putting it into dangerous positions which yielded a goal in the second term. He was quick to dispose of the ball when winning it on the inside, and spot up a free teammate on the wing. Had a nice run in the third term, fending off an opponent and charge inside 50 but his low kick just missed its target.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony had some nice plays throughout the game, not winning heaps of the ball, but still showing off some quick hands at stoppages. He had a smart movement in the first half, winning the ball at ground level, rolling over, getting his hands free and handballing to a teammate. Mahony won a free kick in the third term for being infringed in a marking contest but his shot from 40m drifted to the right. He had a great clearance and kick out of the middle in the final term as well.

#4 Jed Hill

Played through the midfield and up forward, taking a sliding mark inside 50, then having a long range shot but it fell short and was intercepted in the goal square. He laid a great tackle deep in attack in the second term, and was more prominent through the stoppages, then kicked long inside 50 to Matty Lloyd’s advantage – though he could not capitalise with the mark – after Hill’s opponent fell over just outside 50. He had a unique attempt on goal in the third term kicking it off the ground, but it went across the other side to the pocket and just stayed in for a throw-in.

#7 Mitch Martin

Showed good tackling pressure early in the game and was able to extract the ball from tight situations. Did not win a heap of the footy on the day, but was able to find space inside 50, taking a mark and then having a set shot after the siren in the first term which went to the right. Had a quieter second half, but took a good mark inside defensive 50 under pressure.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a nice play on the wing at one stage where he fended off an opponent, handed it off, received the ball back then kick low into a sliding Jed Hill inside 50 in the opening term, and had a chance on goal in the second when he kicked long, received the handball back, had a long-range shot but it went to the right. Had another shot on goal with a snap but missed. Another player who was okay without standing out.

#13 Jay Rantall

Rantall’s big ball-winning streak continued on the weekend with another 30-odd touches and he just keeps running. A massive endurance base, Rantall often wins the ball in tight and handballs out to a free player, while also laying some good tackles. He was not afforded the space he often can get during games, but still played his role in the midfield and was a key player in the Rebels’ better second half. His kicking is hit and miss, but his goal sense is still good, kicking a long-range goal from free play 50m out late in the final term. He had a snap just earlier but was smothered off the boot. His quick hands from congestion to the outside is a highlight.

NAB League Boys Round 8 preview: Super Saturday to shape NAB League ladder

NAB LEAGUE teams are preparing for a huge day of action, with five of Round 8’s six games set to be played on Saturday. Despite only one top eight clash taking place, the remaining fixtures pose as a chance for the top sides to stamp their authority.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday May 18, 10:00am
Shepley Oval

A fourth consecutive win is on the line for the Northern Knights when they host Oakleigh Chargers on neutral territory. While the Knights are on a hot run after losing their first four games, the depleted Chargers scraped over the line against Tasmania in Round 6 on the back of three-straight losses, but will be refreshed after a bye round. That sees the visitors come in relatively unchanged despite star duo Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson having the week free of school football commitments with Carey Grammar, while Northern has made at least six changes. The tall Knights trio of Ben Major, Nathan Howard, and Nikolas Cox comes out of the side, with bottom-agers Rhys Seakins and Joel Trudgeon, and over-ager Bailey Leonard amongst the inclusions on an extended bench. While the ninth against tenth match-up may not set the world alight on paper, the almost opposite form of both teams and closeness of the match-ups should make this a tight one.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday May 18, 1:00pm
Victoria Park (Echuca)

A chance to separate from the remaining top eight pack and consolidate a top four spot looms for Sandringham Dragons when they travel to face Bendigo Pioneers in Echuca. The Dragons suffered a rare loss against fellow top four hopefuls, Eastern last time out, but have otherwise been dominant in their four wins to hold a league-best percentage of 174.30. After winning their first two games, the Pioneers have gone on a four-game slide since – despite finding themselves in winning positions in recent two and five point losses to Tasmania and Northern respectively. The hosts have made four changes to last week’s side with the likes of Brady Rowles and Ethan Roberts coming out, with Sandringham making the same amount of rotations. Jai Florent, brother of Sydney’s Oliver, is one of three Dragons to come straight back into the starting 22, with their tall ruck-forward trio of Riley Bowman, Jack Bell, and Andrew Courtney all named and primed to prove a handful. Both sides will be keen to bounce back off tough losses, so onlookers should be in for a hot start.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Saturday May 18, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

Murray Bushrangers will be hoping to start an ascent up the NAB League ladder with what would be a second-straight win when they do battle with Calder Cannons on home turf. Both sides have won one of their last two games, with Murray very unlucky not to have come away with more victories to this point. Calder has shown improvement after a poor start to put three wins on the board, but holds the lowest percentage of all established sides with 67.5. Last week’s 51-point loss to Gippsland was not a great indicator of their otherwise promising form, with a solid string of over-agers and in-form top-agers leading their cause. The Cannons have made two changes to last week’s side, while Murray has brought in three fresh faces on an extended bench, with Tom Bracher named as 23rd man. The Bushrangers’ own over-agers in the form of Ben Kelly and Zane Barzen are hitting their straps, and give great value to the side led again by top prospect, Lachlan Ash. They will all make it tough for Calder to get up here on its travels, but do not expect them give it up easily.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday May 18, 2:45pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Both the Geelong Falcons and Western Jets will be looking to return to the winners list when they do battle at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday afternoon. A host of red time goals cost the Falcons a second win last week as they were accounted for by Murray, but they have been competitive in most of their four losses and of course, their draw with Dandenong. Western sit just inside the top eight as one of five sides with three wins, but fell well short in Round 7 against a strong Dandenong side on the back of a bye week. The Jets have made six changes on the back of the loss, with the likes of Josh Kellett and Cassius White amongst the outs. Much in the same vein, Geelong has five outs but replenishes its tall stocks with the likes of Harry Stubbings, Sam Christensen, and Charlie Sprague all named as Henry Walsh and Lochie Hocking come out. Western have double the ladder points, but will be tested well by this persistent Geelong side, so expect a tight tussle and for the Falcons to come out strong.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 18, 3:30pm
Blundstone Arena

The sole top eight fixture for the round hits Tasmania as the seventh-placed Devils host ladder-leaders, Dandenong in Saturday’s final game. The Stingrays have had three-consecutive wins between 63 and 71 points after their Round 3 draw with Geelong, seeing them boast the only undefeated record in the competition after seven rounds. The 3-3 Devils have done well to hold an even record, with their most recent set of four points coming last week in a match decided after the siren. They will be boosted massively by the returns of top prospect Mitch O’Neill and over-ager Matt McGuiness, with Will Harper named as 23rd man in a talented team. Dandenong has also shuffled the starting lineup, with the in-form Ned Cahill a key out, while over-ager Jai Nanscawen has been named at half-back after a week off. Tasmania will have their work cut out for them against a Dandenong side building a strong premiership defence, but the Devils are not a team to go down easily – especially on home turf.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Sunday May 19, 1:00pm
Windy Hill

Country sides are set to play off at a Metro venue in Sunday’s lone fixture, with Gippsland Power and the Greater Western Victoria Rebels poised to meet at Windy Hill to see out the round. The Power have surged into the top four on the back of four-consecutive wins, with their only loss coming to the undefeated Dandenong Stingrays in what has been a strong start to the season. Meanwhile, the Rebels have managed two wins in an indifferent start, but had only lost by a combined total of 21 points before last week’s 32-point loss to Northern. The performance of Jay Rantall was a massive plus to come out of that game, and he will be key to the Rebels’ chances against a stacked Power midfield. Both sides are set to make at least three changes with extended benches named, but should come in reasonably steady. GWV will be keen to prove themselves once again against top opposition having tested Dandenong in Round 1, while Gippsland will see the game as a chance to continue its solid run of form.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 7

WITH NAB League proceedings back to the norm, performances were even across the board, but a few players managed stand out in a mixed bag of results. Our scouts cast eyes across all six games in Round 7, and here are their opinion-based notes on players included in the initial Victoria Country and Metro squads, as well as those pointed out by respective talent managers.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#12 Noah Gribble

The bottom-ager had a solid game playing along the wing and winning the ball on the outside. At half-back he had a clean turn and spin, grabbing it off one touch and despite finding himself under pressure, spun out and gave off the clean hands to a teammate running forward. He affected a Will Chandler kick inside 50 with good pressure forcing him to rush, while mostly ran hard on the outside and used the ball well while doing the defensive things right.

#37 Oliver Henry

A great finisher around goal who works really hard up the ground. He goes on long searching leads and often can win the ball in midfield or even at half-back, before running hard forward doubling back on his opponent to create an outnumber forward of centre. He is strong overhead and is good on the lead, and had a great moment in the opening term, faking a step on the right to kick on the left in board to Tom Richardson leading out. He was a little ambitious at one stage in the third term, crashing through multiple players before getting caught, but finished the term with a soccer off the ground after pushing hard then doubling back once the ball went over his head. Took a great mark late in the game and kicked an easy consolation goal, finishing the match with three majors and strapping across his face from a blood nose.

#40 Jesse Clark

Not as prolific as his usual self, Clark was playing defensive roles on his opponents, spending time on players such as Zane Barzen in defence. He swallowed up anything that came his way, but the Bushrangers made a conscious effort to avoid him where possible given his prolific rebounding skills. He still managed to provide rebound out of defence and was strong overhead, just did not get it on a silver platter as much with the Bushrangers smarter kicking inside 50.

#46 Henry Walsh

Did not win much of the footy, but still competed in the ruck. Was beaten by the more experienced Ben Kelly, but applied good defensive pressure at ground level. Laid some strong tackles following up from his hitouts to nullify the ball at stoppages and had an impressive clearing punch at one stage in the third term at half-back.

 

Murray:

#3 Ben Kelly

His form this season is arguably the best of any 19 year-old tall and that continued on the weekend against inexperienced rucks. He not only gets the hitouts, but follows up with clearances and tackles, and most importantly is able to take the game on without being a liability. He has a quick few steps and can sidestep opponents but does not overdo it, and uses hands to draw an opponent and handball clear to a teammate. Along with his above average athletic traits, Kelly was able to manhandle his opponent in the third term, throwing him out of the way, grabbing the loose ball and getting his hands free to pass to a teammate. His second efforts were exemplified in the final term when he dropped an intercept mark he should have taken, but quickly followed up cleaning it up and handballing quickly to a teammate.

#5 Cam Wild

Just a workhorse. Wild finds the ball with ease on the inside or outside and he wins a lot of his touches from outrunning his opponents. His pressure at ground level is very good and he finds space to receive the ball on the flanks. In one instance in the second term, Wild won the ball at half-back, got it to the wing, ran past multiple teammates looking for the handball, was ignored, kept running, crumbed a forward stoppage and kicked a running goal. His opponent from the original play just could not go with him and because he ran so far, disrupted the opposition set-ups. He gets separation on his opponents and is a solid user of the ball.

#6 Will Chandler

Played the role of leading forward and did it well. Set up a goal to Hudson Kaak early in the game, and kicked one of his own. Kept working up the ground and winning the ball then sending it inside 50. Almost kicked a second goal earlier in the game but snapped and missed because he was being dragged down.

#7 Zane Barzen

The overager played one of his best games for the year, leading out at the footy and creating some headaches for the opposition defence. Kicked a goal in the second term with a snap around his body, then kicked a second major from a free kick set shot 35m straight in front in the third term. Had a couple more shots in the fourth quarter but one went to the left and just missed and the other went out to the right and fell short. Was strong overhead though which was a promising sign.

#12 Lachlan Ash

The potential top five pick stood out in this game with his class and ball use by hand or foot. He took the game on when in defence, and in the second half spent time up forward and through the midfield. He has an ability to produce the unbelievable by foot, kicking across his body between opponents to hit up a teammate inboard and open up the corridor. Got a free kick for being infringed in a marking contest at one stage such was his impact in the air. Kicked a goal off the ground just before three quarter time, and narrowly missed a set shot which drifted to the right in the fourth term. Not as big statistical numbers as in the past, but played multiple roles rather than just his dominant half-back rebounding role.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Got better as the game went on and finished as one of the most prolific ball winners on the ground. You do not always notice his impact unless you are watching carefully because he fires out quick handballs to teammates while under pressure, able to work out time and space with good vision. Worked hard on the inside of the contest and then runs into space to provide an option. Did not have a heap of forward chances because of the inside work, which deserved a tick today.

 

Western Jets vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#3 Eddie Ford

The explosive bottom-ager has a good knack of getting involved up the ground from half-forward, and this game was no different as Ford worked hard to win 10 marks around the ground among his 20 disposals. He constantly looked to move the ball on, but Ford was often held up on the mark which saw him resort to handing off to runners or kicking short. While he called for the ball in odd areas at times in the defensive half, it only showed Ford’s want for the ball and his good work rate. Took a strong mark on the line against two Stingrays opponents to turn a certain behind into his first goal, while adding another in the final term to cap off a solid day. Is so clean overhead and below his knees, definitely one to watch going into 2020.

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was named the Jets’ best, and showed a greater contested output with almost 60 per cent of his 17 disposals won in the contest. Attending most of the centre bounces and stoppages across the day, Andrews won a handful of clearances and pushed Western forward as he usually does, pitching in with a classy goal after side-stepping Dandenong gun, Hayden Young. Andrews’ kicking was clearly impacted by his high contested ball rate, but he was much more productive by hand and flicked it out well to teammates in the clinches. Would be pushing for mid-season draft selection, but still has areas to improve on.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar assumed his usual role across half back, acting as a designated kicker on the rebound and accumulating the ball well across defensive 50. He affected the drop of the centre bounces when running in hard off the back flank, and often positioned himself a kick off the ball when it was further afield. Cassar looked a little unsure of whether to stick with his opponent or guard territory in those situations, but is clearly building into the new role. Was caught holding the ball in the first term, but that did not stop him from breaking the lines going forward and taking the game on as the Jets looked to stay in the game. Cassar is a natural player and also looks comfortable forward, but can sharpen his defensive acts – highlighted by his marking attempt from behind inside defensive 50, and his low tackle count. A solid outing, and finished with a game-high 29 disposals.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey was down on his usual output in this game, but came into it with a couple of neat touches. While he struggled to generate his usual running game, Honey’s presence came in the form of five clearances and some good defensive pressure throughout, which led to a Dandenong turnover early on. Honey also moved forward in the second half and while he showed promise with a nice mark inside 50, could not quite find the goals in his time there.

#47 Will Kennedy

The over-ager has shown good promise in the ruck after moving from Sandringham, and continues to improve in his work around the ground. As a slightly more mature body, Kennedy competes well in the ruck and won 22 hitouts, but impressed more with his work at the drop to find a good amount of the ball and lay some hard tackles. A particular highlight came in the first quarter where Kennedy followed up a dropped mark to effect a smother inside 50 and keep the ball in dispute.

 

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Young was his usual self across half-back, racking up a team-high 27 disposals as well as an equal game-high seven rebound 50s and five inside 50s. Ever the damaging player, Young kicked 77 per cent of the time at 76 per cent efficiency, but fell short with a few lower-distance passes by foot. Young mopped up well in the defensive half, using his clean hands to gather at ground level and quickly dispose of the ball to good effect. Young was also given the freedom to push forward well in a high Dandenong press, and had to opportunity to hit the scoreboard with a set shot early on. A contribution we have come to expect, but still always impressive.

#10 Clayton Gay

The exciting bottom-ager mixed his time between a deep forward position and up on the wing, but looked most dangerous inside 50. Kept Cassar accountable in the forward half early on and even caught him holding the ball with a terrific tackle, while later contributing a major on the back of a contested mark in the goalsquare. Looked to take it on when playing up the field, and while he is not a high accumulator, always garners attention when on the ball. One to watch for next year.

#11 Ned Cahill

One who continues to rise in my eyes, Cahill returned another eye-catching display in this game. Positioned mostly inside 50, Cahill was isolated against his Western opponent and out-worked him to find space around goals – kicking two majors in dispute during the first quarter and another couple from set shots in the last. It proved good reward for effort given Cahill’s ability to find space, and he could well have finished with a couple more goals to make it a true day out. The way Cahill plays taller than his height would suggest makes him a versatile threat inside 50, and he is certainly one who will look to prove himself further in the National Championships.

#18 Mitch Riordan

Over-ager Riordan has built a good case to be picked up in the mid-season draft after an interrupted top-age year, and was damaging from stoppages around the ground in this outing. Riordan’s run from congestion was great to watch, with an explosive first five steps allowing him to break forward quickly and dispose of the ball effectively in more space, while also flicking out handballs well. Repeat efforts in-close helped him tally his 25 disposals, including five clearances, but Riordan also contributed well in handball chains – using his pace to good effect.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning switched roles in this game with fellow tall, Nyuon, trading his time between the forward line and ruck to prove his versatility and get a different look. He started one-out in the goalsquare, but caught the eye more with his leap in the ruck early on. Took a couple of handy marks leading up to the ball, but missed early chances on goal which he later rectified with a sole major. Looks to still be learning and refining all areas of his game, and has a good athletic base.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

Nyuon was thrown back, where he played a lot of football for the Stingrays last season. Opposed to man-mountain Aaron Clarke at times, the St Kilda NGA prospect was competitive in overhead contests and followed up well at ground level to provide calm use out of defensive 50. Made a nice run forward after a clean sweep of the ball on his defensive arc, getting it back at the opposite 50 to deliver inside. Can dominate games if he can continue to snap up big marks, but is still improving at both ends.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Was by no means a high accumulator, but Williams looked lively whenever he got on the ball. Moves forward so well from the wing and is an aggressive runner, which was encapsulated well by his second-quarter goal on the fly after a running bounce. Also took a nice overhead mark early on which caught the eye, and could have added another goal in the last term.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

The bottom-ager was best-afield in a busy outing on the wing, earning him the Draft Central Player of the Week nod. While he was most influential in the first and last quarters, Conforti worked hard all day on the outside to provide a releasing option along the outer of Queen Elizabeth Oval, finding a heap of space time after time. Prepare for the inevitable Caleb Daniel comparisons, as the diminutive left footer oozes class with neat kicks and is hard at it in the contest with a low centre of gravity. He looks a much better kick on the run, using his vision and smarts to find targets others cannot – much like in the second term where he hit up James Schischka for a goal with a clever 90-degree kick. Impressed with a couple of overhead intercept marks in the final term, and finished off his day with a nice goal after sidestepping his opponent.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme started a little shakily but found his feet as the game wore on. He accumulated well, usually on the opposite wing to Conforti, and was smart in his positioning when the ball was set to come out of his side’s forward 50 – intercepting from two occasions, with one resulting in a missed shot on goal. Was let down somewhat by a combination of his decision making and execution, but had the right idea as he often looked to go inside with his kicks in particular. A solid outing.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka was a solid contributor, and looked a decent marking threat when played inside forward 50. On top of converting two set shot goals in his time forward, Schischka’s best moments came in traffic where he would often shrug off opponents and keep his head in crises with handballs out to receivers. Moved into the midfield late on, but found his second major after an impressive overhead mark in the goalsquare from a set shot which fell short, putting the Pioneers in front.

 

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

It was an indifferent display from Davis, who was a constant at the stoppages. While he tackled ferociously and was solid in the clinches, many of his kicks were hacked forward and he looked rushed in possession at times. One of his better kicks found Cohen Stephenson inside 50 to give him a set shot chance, and Davis even hit the scoreboard with a clutch free kick conversion to snatch back the lead in the final term. Can polish up areas of his game, but has a good physical base and finds the ball.

#13 Sam Collins

Played the role of sweeper in the back half well, mopping up cleanly and providing efficient rebound when given time. While many of his short kicks were effective, Collins was another who missed a couple on the back of acts under pressure – with one cross-goal ball almost leading to a turnover goal. Looked much better in space with handball receives, and certainly has potential.

#25 Jackson Callow

Arguably Tasmania’s leading bottom-age prospect, Callow mixed his time up forward and through the ruck, competing well in both areas. Almost made an ideal start when he won a contested ball at ground level deep inside 50, but dribbled to an opponent in the goalsquare. Callow’s lead up marking to the 50 and clunks overhead were a feature, with the big-man often wheeling around quickly to deliver forward. While he did not quite find the goals himself, a spearing ball to Jye Menzie gifted his side one, and Callow played an important overall role for the Devils.

#31 Jye Menzie

Menzie ended up being the hero of the day, converting a set shot after the siren to give Tasmania a miraculous win. While he was quiet early on, Menzie came into the game in the second term when he won a free kick one-out, putting through the resultant set shot. Booted another in the third quarter and crucially contributed two more in the final term, with a shimmy giving him his third and the game-winner his fourth. Finds space inside 50 well and looks most dangerous there, proving to be a clinical finisher when given the opportunity.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Northern Knights
By: Cameron Ross

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

Really like him. He is lightning quick and damaging off half back. Question marks over his kicking, but he is dangerous enough with the handball to be effective. Rebels clued onto how damaging he was when receiving handballs, and marked him tightly, but still was a positive influence on the game, and one of the best Knights on the day.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Copped a whack in the face in the second quarter, but it didn’t stop him. Very clean, and was really damaging across the half forward line where he was consistently hitting up leading forwards for scoring opportunities. Really smart player, who was rarely beaten at ground level and was crucial in the Knights’ second half dominance.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

The young defender was another who was very reliable all game, and even snuck forward for a long goal on the run in the final term. Seems to be a very nice size, and has enough pace that he could play on the smalls as well. I’m not sure if he had a direct opponent or not all game, as he seemed to easily find a lot of the ball.

 

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Kicked three nice goals, and was a presence in the air and around the all game. Took a really nice mark up forward, after floating in from the side and crashing the pack, and topping it off with a goal.

#8 James Cleaver

Very reliable down back, and I’m not sure he was beaten one on one all game. Took a couple of nice intercept marks, and limited McMahon to only the one major.

#10 Matty Lloyd

Had a couple of very flashy moments. Made a defender look foolish with clever side step, and drilled a shot at goal that just missed. Quiet through patches but others were quieter. Left the game late with a calf injury, hopefully cramp?

#13 Jay Rantall

Best player on the ground. Key in the Rebels moving the ball effectively out of the backline and midfield and one of the few players who wanted to take the game on and make the play instead of just kicking to a pack. His link up run and intelligent handballing were extremely impressive, and broke the game open. Good overhead, good below his knees, and hit most of his targets on the day. 10/10 game.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The zippy midfielder continued his strong form, finishing with a team-high 28 disposals and five inside 50s. Byrnes trademark explosive burst out of the stoppage was on show all day, easily manoeuvring his way past his Eastern opponents and driving the ball long inside 50. Used the ball well when others let themselves down in this department and never stopped trying. Byrnes looks a well-rounded prospect, who covers the ground well and is adept at winning the ball from the inside of the contest and utilising his speed to run and carry the ball. Overall was outstanding for the Dragons and was just about their best player.

#6 Miles Bergman

The big-bodied midfielder was solid for the Dragons, using his strength and frame to win the ball in the clinches. Had a quiet first half with only six touches but worked well into the game, finishing with 18 disposals, five marks, and a goal. Used the ball well and his first reaction to hit a target inside the corridor on show all day, with a number of his kicks hitting up a teammate in space. Worked hard all day and improved as the game got tighter.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Starting on the wing, the top—ager showcased his signature class and polish but also his two-way running in another strong performance. Finishing with 27 disposals and nine marks, perhaps the most telling stats for Hanrahan was his four rebounds and six inside 50s, highlighting a willingness to work both ways for the Dragons. Kicked a show-stopping goal on his opposite foot from the boundary and would’ve had a day out had he taken two opportunities running into the goals in the second and last quarters. Was a class above in the first half and was the leading disposal winner at the main break but drifted out early in the 4th when the game was in the balance. Sound performance from the wingman and is building a strong case to be selected in the mid-season/end of season draft.

#28 Riley Bowman

The athletic ruck-forward was solid for the dragons, amassing 18 hitouts to go with 15 disposals and three inside 50s. Had a quiet first quarter but lifted from then on, which included a chase down tackle in the Dragons forward 50 that resulted in a shot on goal. Moves well around the ground and hits the contest hard, both in the air and on the ground. Was sometimes out-muscled by the bigger Riley Smith in the ruck but overall probably had more influence on the game around the ground than his Eastern opponent.

#30 Andrew Courtney

Courtney had a solid day down back for the Dragons with a multitude of spoils and one—percenters that often halved or won 50-50 contests. Only had 8 disposals and was used around the ground with 11 hitouts in the ruck and a stint up forward, Courtney was thrown around the ground which may have hurt his impact. The 200cm prospect needs to improve his disposal numbers and could have more influence in the air if he got both hands to the ball rather than opting for the safety of a spoil. positions himself well in defence and engages his opponent early, using his strong frame to move them under the ball then bringing it to ground.

#32 Jack Bell

The ruck-forward was workmanlike for the Dragons, generating a goal from 13 disposals, eight hitouts, and seven marks. Had a strong first half before dropping away with only three disposals in the second half but the skinny prospect did some nice things, taking some strong contested marks. Often let himself down by playing on and being tackled and needs to work on being quicker with ball in hand, often taking too long to give off a handball or a kick. Was a good performance from the agile prospect.

#33 Corey Watts

The close-checking key defender was serviceable again for Sandringham, having more effect as the game wore on. Shows desperation in defense, often coming off his direct opponent to influence the contest but needs to do more, not having a touch in the first half. Finished with 11 disposals and four rebounds and showed he has the capabilities to become an aerial threat, taking two big pack marks late in the fourth quarter and driving the ball long out of the Dragons defense. if he can do this more consistently then Watts will become a stronger asset to the Dragons defense.

#43 Jake Bowey

The red-haired midfielder was productive for the Dragons, showcasing his elite speed and evasiveness across the whole game. Failed to hit the scoreboard but played predominantly on the wing, finishing with 23 disposals. Was often tackled and thrown around due to his small stature but did some eye-catching things, including leaping for a huge mark and following up to earn a free kick. Produces fantastic repeat efforts and has a large pressure factor. Is smart with ball in hand and uses it effectively on his left boot, the bottom-ager is one to watch out for.

 

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Stapleton was huge for the Ranges, winning 23 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal. Had the ball on a string for the second half and led the Rangers to victory, kicking a clutch goal in the third term from about 45 metres out on a tough angle and on the wrong side for a left footer. Works tirelessly on the inside and spreads hard on the outside. Didn’t put a foot wrong all day and was a huge reason for the Ranges win.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

The power forward was strong target all day for Eastern, clunking eight marks to go along with 15 disposals. Did not hit the scoreboard (one behind) and did cough up a few kicks inside 50 but tried hard and set up a Connor Downie goal that ended up being the match winner.

#17 Cody Hirst

The smart wingman ran hard all day, with most of his 31 disposals being won in the Eastern back half (six rebounds). The impressive midfielder possesses clean hands and skills, always finding a target by foot even when there seemingly is no option. On a day where most players opted to kick it long down the line or bomb it inside 50, Hirst’s clever ball use stood out. Covers the ground with ease and loves to take a bounce. Hirst had a huge last quarter and willed his team over the line.

#18 Billy McCormack

The mobile tall forward started the game strongly, kicking a goal off the ground after halving an aerial contest, bringing the ball to ground and beating two Dragons defenders. Has an accurate field kick and was a good lead up target out of defence and in attack. On a day where key forwards struggled McCormack was solid, rounding out his day with 1.2 from 12 disposals.

#20 Connor Downie

The smart bottom ager had his best game for the year, with his match-winning goal capping off a 25-disposal, seven-inside-50 and six-mark effort. Was consistently strong all day, combining with Hirst on the wing to provide rebound off the half back line and efficient use inside 50. Very clean under pressure and rarely fumbles, Downie ran hard all day and was a headache later in the piece for the Dragons, who struggled to contain Eastern’s outside midfielders.

#21 James Ross

The general in defence, Ross was prolific for the Rangers, intercepting multiple Dragons inside 50’s with his strong hands, and providing damaging rebound. Capped off a sound performance with 24 disposals, nine marks, and nine rebounds to be the best defender on the ground. Set up the Rangers defensive structures and was consistent throughout, often playing as the loose man. In the Rangers top few players.

#49 Riley Smith

The 199cm ruckman had a tough day. With the Dragons rotating Bell, Courtney, and Bowman in the middle, Smith shouldered the majority of the ruck duty for Eastern, capping off a strong performance with 10 disposals and 23 hitouts. Used his bigger and more developed frame to outmuscle opponents and the Eastern midfielders lifted in the second half thanks to Smith’s solid tap-work.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders was one of Gippsland’s best on the day, playing in the forward half and having a crucial role in extracting the ball from stoppages and pumping it inside 50. He took a great one-on-one mark in front of goal in the first term and booted a goal from the set shot. Flanders took a number of marks when leading outside of the forward 50, missing a shot later in the game, but was a consistent four quarter performance.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi continued his strong form this season since returning from injury with some hard running throughout the match. He often teamed up with Fraser Phillips when kicking inside 50, giving him a number of score assists, including a late goal. One trait that was noticeable with Baldi was his lightning quick hands, able to scoop the ball off the deck with one-touch and handball to a teammate running past without his teammate breaking stride. Had a couple of shots on goal but finished with two behinds.

#10 Leo Connolly

Had a few nice passages of play along the wing, creating run out of defence, often picking up the loose ball and kicking down the line. His kicking was neat and smart throughout the game, and he spread into space taking plenty of marks while being the outside mover to complement Gippsland’s array of inside bulls.

#12 Brock Smith

Another super performance from the defender who patrolled the backline and gobbled up everything that came his way in the first term as despite Calder having double the inside 50s. Smith’s remarkable first team saw him have 14 disposals and five marks, more than half of his total touches by the end of the game. While the Cannons used the ball better after quarter time, Smith still remained involved in the contest, showing good closing speed opposed to Josh Kemp, laying a great tackle to nullify the contest. Also loved the argy bargy with a few things to say to Kemp on the wing after being tackled. Another highlight came late in the third term with a long-range goal which got the team up and about.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Played his usual game through the middle, roaming between the arcs and getting free to win plenty of the ball in space. He also went in when he had to winning his fair share of his own ball, while getting the ball forward to advantage. He spread well and broke up play using sharp, short kicks.

#16 Josh Smith

Had a big start to the day, booting two goals in the opening term despite copping a knock to the face. Shared the ruck load with Charlie Comben and while he was quieter after quarter time, still had a number of inside 50s to put pressure on the opposition defence.

#17 Charlie Comben

The big man had a consistent four quarter effort playing through the ruck, leading up at the football when in attack, getting back and assisting his defence when in the back half, and winning his fair share of hitouts through the middle. He had a set shot in the second term but his shot fell short in the goalsquare. Comben showed good defensive pressure for a tall, laying some fierce tackles on opponents. Promising signs.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Kicked four goals for the game, including two in the final term – one coming after the siren. He had another chance from a snap tight on the boundary but missed, and then gave one off to a teammate instead of having a shot. Played almost exclusively inside 50 in the match and provided the Power with a target throughout the game. Has that excitement factor about him.

 

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was his industrious self on the weekend, playing an inside role at stoppages and along with Jacob Martin, was one of only two players to reach double-figure contested possessions. He was not able to get the time and space he normally would and thus resulted in some rushed kicks. Nonetheless he was one of Calder’s best, extracting from the stoppages and pumping the ball long, then dropping back in defence and getting it clear from the danger.

#5 Curtis Brown

Kicked Calder’s first goal in the second term after winning a free and launching a set shot from outside 50, easily making the distance. Had some nice touches at half-forward, using the ball neatly and trying to get the ball moving in the Cannons’ favour.

#30 Josh Kemp

Had a few good moments in the first half including an intercept mark at half-forward and showed clean hands leading up at the football and was clean with his disposal off the bounce. Received a 50m penalty in the third term and kicked the Cannons’ only goal of the quarter, but otherwise was quiet in the second half.

#38 Brodie Newman

A quieter game compared to his recent form, but Newman still won his fair share of touches in the back half. His work rate and on-field leadership were noticeable, running well off half-back and intercepting a number of early Gippsland forward thrusts. Tried to keep his side alive and the ball moving. Had a team-high seven rebounds and was the key general back there.

NAB League Boys Round 7 preview: Top four clash headlines ladder-shaping weekend

THE Northern Academies have come and gone in the NAB League, and proceedings will continue as normal for the remainder of the year as the ladder begins to take shape. A top four clash looms as the game of the weekend, with a host of bottom-half sides set to jostle for position in an important round of action.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Fresh off their first NAB League season win, the Geelong Falcons will be hoping for more of the same when they host Murray Bushrangers in Avalon. While both teams can only lay claim to one win thus far, Geelong sits a ladder spot above its weekend opponents having also picked up a draw. Bad luck has also followed either side to this point, with close games going the way of their opposition more often than not – seeing their effort and ability to be competitive go unrewarded. The Falcons will also be without co-captain Cooper Stephens for most of the year, so need their brigade of small running midfielders to stand up once again, while Oliver Henry remains a target up forward. The Bushrangers welcome back some over-age depth in the likes of Ben Kelly, Zane Barzen, and Liam Fiore, looking primed to make a mid-season charge up the ladder. While this could be a good chance to start a winning run, the inexperienced Falcons have showed they are often competitive and can stay with sides around their level. Expect a good battle with a second win up for grabs.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 3:15pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The ladder-leading Dandenong Stingrays travel to Williamstown to do battle with Western Jets, looking to keep their undefeated record in tact. A draw against Geelong remains the only blemish in an otherwise perfect Stingrays season, with their last two wins after a Round 4 bye both coming by over 70 points. The 3-2 Jets will be wary of their weekend opponents’ form, but are on a good run themselves after winning two-consecutive games before enjoying their own bye last week. The bye round proved perfect timing for over-agers Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy, who put their hands up for mid-season draft selection in the Young Guns game and will be back in Western colours this week. In the same vein, Dandenong welcomes Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt back to a lineup which looks like it is really starting to click – with key position and smaller guns on each line. Equal form lines aside, the Stingrays will fancy their chances in this one, but a win may not come as easily as in their last two outings.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 12, 11:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Bendigo Pioneers and Tasmania Devils will both be looking to build on their two respective wins for the year when they clash at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Sunday’s first game. The ‘Pios have been unable to add to their impressive Round 1 and 2 wins, but only went down by a combined 21 points in their last two games despite losing a couple of key players to school football. Meanwhile, Tasmania has also gone down in its last two efforts, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to Oakleigh at home last week. The positive signs are there for the Devils though, with Mitch O’Neill the only Australian representative star not to return to the side since his showcase outing. Despite others returning, Matthew McGuiness, Joseph Chaplin, Nicholas Baker, and Tyler Penwright are all key outs this week, leaving the Devils without some key experience and class. With the ability to hang with Bendigo clearly there, the travelling side will hope the continued development of their players can see them snatch another set of four points. But with travel a factor and Bendigo looking to stick with the pack of teams on 12 points, it will prove no mean feat.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Gippsland Power will look to continue its surge up the NAB League ladder at home on Sunday, but Calder Cannons stand in the way of a possible third-consecutive win. The hosts have gotten the better of three results decided by under 10 points, with their only loss coming by just six against table-toppers, Dandenong. Calder is on a run of two-straight wins after its Round 4 loss to Tasmania, faring far more competitively despite being the worst-placed of three sides on 12 points. While the Power has only named an extended bench, Calder looks set to lose some back-six class this week – with Sam Ramsay and Mason Fletcher out. Despite that, over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp should prove key ins for a Cannons side looking to compete with a formidable Gippsland outfit. With Sam Flanders kicking into gear, Riley Baldi returning well from injury, and skipper Brock Smith nominated for the Round 6 Draft Central Player of the Week, the Power should soon consolidate themselves as a genuine premiership contender.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

A third win is up for grabs for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Northern Knights as they clash in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon. Despite boasting equal wins, the Rebels have a far greater percentage than the Knights having won by 55 points over the Northern Territory Academy and their biggest loss coming by 14 points. Northern’s two victories have come in the last two weeks against Bendigo and the NT, with the Knights also breaking through for a season-high score of 98 (their next-best is 73). Some over-age and bottom-age inclusions for the Knights will aid their cause, with Sunny Brazier, Ollie Simpson, Nikolas Cox, and Ben Major returning to the side alongside top-age midfield ace, Sam Philp. Over-age talent also returns for the home side, as Jed Hill, James Cleaver, and Matty Lloyd have all been named. With the sides’ collective wins coming against bottom-half opponents, both will see this game as an opportunity for more of the same as the ladder starts to take shape. Northern should also be breathing fire after last year’s Wildcard Round thrashing at the hands of their weekend opponents, so expect a hot contest.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 2:00pm
RSEA Park

Arguably the game of the round will be played out in Moorabbin, with Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges set to do battle in a top four clash. Having been knocked off top spot after a bye round, the Dragons will be looking to pick up from where they left off, winning by 97 points in their last outing. While the Ranges were beaten by a strong Gippsland side last time out, they have been a one of the competition’s more consistent teams, with their only other loss coming to a full-strength Oakleigh in Round 1. A strong array of talls remains in the Sandringham 22, with Ryan Byrnes the key man in midfield and Angus Hanrahan and Riley Bowman coming off a Young Guns outing. The likes of Cody Hirst and Riley Smith come back for Eastern, adding strength to their running and tall games respectively. With much of the Dragons’ threats coming in their 195cm-plus players, this will again be a tough test for an Eastern side stacked with smaller runners, despite a bigger forward line. A tight tussle should ensue, with one side looking to stamp its authority and the other keen to prove it is a genuine contender.

BYE: Oakleigh Chargers

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Boys – Round 5

A NEW ladder-leader has emerged in the NAB League as one academy side suffered its first loss, and Geelong Falcons and Northern Territory remain the only ones without a win. With eyes on each of the nine games, here is the Round 5 wash-up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.1 | 6.1 | 7.2 | 7.7 (49)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Bendigo: K. Brown 2, K. Attwell, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, C. Fisher, J. Rodi.
Northern: J. Bowne 2, S. Brazier 2, J. D’Intinosante, C. Barbera, Z. Costello, J. Lucente.

BEST:

Bendigo: R. Wilson, W. Wallace, J. Ginnivan, J. Schischka, B. Worme, R. Ironside.
Northern: E. Macpherson, J. D’Intinosante, S. Philp, S. Brazier, Z. Costello, L. Potter.

It took five rounds but Northern Knights finally came away with some premiership points, downing the impressive Bendigo Pioneers by less than a kick under lights at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Friday night. Bendigo lost its second consecutive game after starting the season 2-0, despite having chances to win in both matches. In this clash, the Pioneers led throughout the night, including by 17 points at the main break. A more determined Knights outfit came out in the second half, making the most of their run and carry, booting five goals to one in the second half to secure the five-point victory. Ewan Macpherson was named best on ground for Northern, while Josh D’Intinosante was consistent across the four quarters, as were fellow inside midfielders, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier. Lachie Potter showed dash off half-back and between the run from defence to the inside ball winning capabilities, the Knights were better across the four quarters. For the Pioneers, Riley Wilson was terrific across the four quarters, while James Schischka was ever-reliable in defence with William Wallace, while Ben Worme and Riley Ironside were others who performed on the night for the Pioneers.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.10 (88)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.3 | 2.9 | 7.9 | 9.10 (64)

GOALS:

Sydney: H. Ellem 3, T. Drum 2, H. Maguire 2, M. Sheather, A. Watling, J. Barling, K. McGrath, P. Roseby, M. Rossmann.
Murray: C. Wilson 3, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, K. Chalcraft, J. Chalcraft, J. O’Dwyer.

BEST:

Sydney: L. Swaney, C. Nash, A. Watling, M. Geddes, J. Dol, S. Thorne
Murray: C. Wild, J. Chalcraft, S. Durham, K. Chalcraft, C. Wilson, W. Christie

Sydney Swans Academy extended its unbeaten NAB League run on Saturday, kicking off the Blacktown double-header with an impressive 24-point win over the Murray Bushrangers. The loss is the only result for Murray that has been decided by over seven points after going 1-2 across the first three rounds, with the Bushrangers unlucky to be languishing in the bottom half of the table. They were beaten out of the blocks by the home side, which broke out to a 29-point lead at the first break, while building on it well to find themselves an seven six goals up at half time. The Bushrangers fought back after the main break, taking their chances well to boot 5.0 to 2.2 in the third term, but the gap proved too far to bridge in a rather stalemate final stanza as the Swans cruised to victory. An impressive nine individual Swans goal kickers were led by Hamish Ellem‘s three majors from 22 disposals, while Harry Maguire and Thomas Drum snared two each in low possession games. While Kyle Martin led their possession count, Lachlan Swaney was named best for the Swans for his 18-disposal performance, while Sam Thorne, Max Geddes and Jacob Dol each had over 20 touches to also be thereabouts. Cam Wild continues to be a standout for Murray, named their best in this outing on the back of 28 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal, while both Kade and Jye Chalcraft hit the scoreboard to be named in the best alongside leading goal-getter Cameron Wilson, who bagged three. Murray goes on to face other Sydney academy, GWS in Round 6, while the Swans face Geelong Falcons in their final NAB League hit-out.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.2 | 10.4 | 12.8 | 19.10 (124)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Dandenong: E. Cahill 3, L. Williams 3, J. Neal 2, W. Bravo 2, B. Kuipers 2, J. Nanscawen 2, B. Nyuon, B. Welsh, B. Milford, A. Bradtke, L. Goonan.
Oakleigh: L. Stelling 2, T. Graham, T. Lovell, R. Valentine, H. Mundy, B. Rogers, F. Elliot.

BEST:

Dandenong: E. Cahill, J. Toner, J. Nanscawen, L. Williams, S. De Koning, C. Gay
Oakleigh: J. Woodfull, S. Seach, R. Valentine, L. Jenkins, F. Elliot, L. Stelling

In their first three clashes, the Dandenong Stingrays have enjoyed absolute nail-biters, winning by a goal twice, and the drawing with Geelong Falcons in Round 3. While the opening term scores suggested this one would head down the same path, the action told a different story with the Stingrays on top, but not putt ing the scores on the board. That happened in the second term when they took full control of the game from Oakleigh Chargers, piling on eight goals to one with the breeze in a windy day at Shepley Oval. In front of a home crowd, the Stingrays put an understrength Oakleigh to the sword, extending the lead to 52 points by the final break, before running away with it in the last term as both sides managed to break through for goals. Eleven majors were kicked as Dandenong won that quarter seven goals to four, and enjoyed a massive 70-point win. In the absence of Hayden Young, Ned Cahill stood tall to be the standout player on the ground, while Luke Williams also contributed with his long-range goals a highlight. Jack Toner and Clayton Gay were solid throughout, as was Sam De Koning who took a multitude of intercept marks at centre half-back. For Oakleigh, Jacob Woodfull is hard to miss, rocking a mullet, but the ruck was sensational throughout the match, while Sam Seach and Ryan Valentine were also named among the best. AFL Academy members and co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams showed signs across the ground, but the Stingrays controlled the play for the most part in the impressive win.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 8.3 | 13.9 | 17.13 | 19.18 (132)
BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 0.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.5 (35)

GOALS:

Sandringham: B. O’Leary 3, J. Bell 2, K. Yorke 2, A. Courtney 2, A. Hanrahan 2, R. Byrnes, T. Murray, J. Voss, J. Le Grice , T. Deane-Johns, G. Grey, D. Hipwell, A. Perkins.
Brisbane: T. Wischnat, T. Abberley, C. Bowes, M. McDonald, T. Matthews.

BEST:

Sandringham: J. Bell, J. Voss, H. Loughnan, R. Byrnes, L. Butler, R. Bowman
Brisbane: W. Martyn, T. Griffiths, B. Reville, T. Jeffrey

New NAB League table-toppers Sandringham Dragons roared to a thumping 97-point win over the Brisbane Lions academy, keeping its perfect record in tact. A 13-goal to one blitz in the first half set up the final margin of victory for the home side, with a whopping 13 Dragons getting on the scoresheet and five of them scoring multiple goals – led by Blake O’Leary‘s three. The tall timber of Jack Bell and Andrew Courtney proved a handful for the Lions defence, with over-ager Angus Hanrahan chiming in well early and bottom-ager Archie Perkins also impressive forward of centre. Midfield maestro Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) was the key catalyst for the first-half onslaught though, winning a wealth of ball through the middle and setting Sandringham forward with bursting runs and inside 50 entries on both sides. The likes of Louis Butler (31 disposals) and Harry Loughnan (25, nine marks) also covered the ground well, with Riley Bowman showing his versatility in all key-position posts. Though they were soundly beaten overall, the Lions showed good heart in the second half to keep Sandringham to six goals while scoring four of their own, with key players finding their way into the game. One who was combative all day was Will Martyn (33 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles), leading his side well from midfield and leading all-comers in disposals. Tom Griffiths was named in the best for his role in an under-siege defence, while the smooth-moving Bruce Reville lifted in the second half to also be thereabouts, and bottom-ager Tahj Abberley also showed good signs. In its final NAB League outing, Brisbane hosts Dandenong in the Sunshine State, while Sandringham can enjoy a bye.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 1.1 | 5.1 | 9.4 | 9.7 (61)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.5 | 9.5 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

GWS: L. Conlan 2, L. Delahunty 2, H. Grant 2, R. Mooney, J. Peatling, T. Organ.
Gippsland: R. Baldi 2, H. Pepper, Z. Skinner, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, B. Maslen, W. Papley, F. Phillips, K. Dunkley.

BEST:

GWS: H. Grant, N. Murray, L. Squire, J. Lucas, S. Driscoll, J. Peatling
Gippsland: J. Smith, H. Pepper, R. Baldi, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, T. Hourigan

Gippsland Power was made to work for its third win of the NAB League season, downing a spirited GWS Giants Academy side by nine points in Blacktown. The travel did not seem to faze the Victorian side, looking fresh coming off a bye round to set up an early lead. The Power’s 13-point quarter-time lead proved the difference in their second-consecutive win, as the home side poured on eight goals during the second and third terms to get within a single point heading into the final break. With the game on the line, Gippsland’s depth proved too strong, seeing the Power home in a tense and low-scoring final term. Riley Baldi sent a timely reminder of his talent with 22 disposals, eight inside 50s and two goals on his return, with big-man Josh Smith named Gippsland’s best. Harrison Pepper (26 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (18) found a good amount of ball on top of hitting the scoreboard, while Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Ryan Sparkes (18 disposals) continued their solid partnership across half-back. Harry Grant had a monster day out as GWS’ best with 31 disposals and two goals, while Liam Delahunty and Lucas Conlan were the other multiple goal kickers. Ball winners Lachlan Squire (26 disposals, Jeromy Lucas (24), and Nicholas Murray (21) also proved important for the Giants in the narrow loss. GWS’ last NAB League fixture comes against Murray in Victoria, with Gippsland returning to home turf in Round 6 to face the in-form Eastern in a top eight clash.

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Eastern: B. White 4, J. Rossiter 3, B. Hickleton 2, Z. Pretty, C. Hirst.
Gold Coast: R. Buckland, E. Dawson.

BEST:

Eastern: R. Smith, Z. Pretty, J. Nathan, J. Clarke, L. Stapleton, B. White
Gold Coast: C. Joyce, C. Budarick, M. Pescud , D. Koenen, R. Gilmore, P. Murtagh

Eastern Ranges made it a double demolition of the Northern Academies at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, downing the Gold Coast Suns academy by 59 points to climb into the competition’s top two. After a first-half arm-wrestle ensued, the Ranges broke the game open with a seven-goal to nil third term to set up their fourth-straight win. Three players did the bulk of Eastern’s scoring, with Bailey White claiming an opportunistic bag of four goals in his first game for the year, while Jamieson Rossiter booted 3.3 in a solid marking display and Ben Hickleton chimed in with 2.4. Another player to find the goals, Zak Pretty, amassed a whopping 37 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency to earn the Draft Central player of the week nod, but was beaten out by dominant ruckman Riley Smith (19 disposals, 37 hit-outs) for best-afield honours. Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis continued their good form through the middle, with bottom-age prospect Joshua Clarke impressing off half-back with plenty of dash. Ryan Buckland and Ethan Dawson were the Suns’ only goal kickers for the day, with many of their best players employed further afield. Connor Budarick (27 disposals, 16 tackles) continues to shine on the back of hard work, while Corey Joyce and Dirk Koenen were also named in the best for their roles in defence. The Suns head back home next week to face GWV and see out their NAB League cameo, while Eastern faces a tough task in keeping its win-streak alive against Gippsland in Morwell.

CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 8.11 (59)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 2.1 | 6.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

Calder: N. Gentile 3, J. Martin 2, O. Sasalu, M. Simpson, J. Keeping.
Geelong: C. Sprague 2, L. Lloyd 2, C. Seymour, L. Smith, K. Rayner, W. Batson.

BEST:

Calder: B. Newman, D. Mott, N. Gentile, O. Sasalu, S. Ramsay, S. Graham
Geelong: H. Stubbings, S. Christensen, C. Karpala, C. Sprague, S. Bourke, W. Batson

The Calder Cannons were made to earn their second win of the year, leaving Geelong Falcons winless after five rounds with a seven-point victory at RAMS Arena. With the wind favouring one end, the game was ultimately decided by Calder’s dominant second quarter, where the Cannons scored 4.5 while keeping Geelong scoreless to open up a 17-point lead. Despite bridging the gap to a single point heading into the final break, the Falcons were outlasted by the home side, which converted well in the clutch moments in an otherwise hit-and-miss display in front of goal. Ned Gentile (21 disposals, three goals) converted in each of the last three quarters to provide a key hand, while other multiple goal kicker Jacob Martin kicked the deciding goal with seven minutes to play. The game was dominated by Cannons key defender Brodie Newman, who recorded 36 disposals and an incredible 17 marks, while Daniel Mott (29 disposals) continued to build his form and Sam Ramsay (27) was also good. Not all is lost for the Falcons despite being the only full-time NAB League side without a win, with some of their depth players standing up. Over-ager Harry Stubbings was named best for his 20 disposals and nine tackles, with Will Batson (20 disposals, one goal) and Chas Karpala (19 disposals) also amongst it, while Charlie Sprague returned an impressive 18 disposals, six marks, and two goals. Geelong’s search for a win continues on neutral territory in Round 6 against an unbeaten Sydney Academy side, with Calder hosting at RAMS Arena once again against Bendigo.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western: A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

A second-consecutive win sees Western Jets fly into the NAB League top eight, accounting for Tasmania Devils by 47 points on the Apple Isle. With the two sides coming in on eight points apiece, it was the Jets who got the better of an early stalemate – snatching a two-point lead at the first break and never looking back. The travelling side gradually widened the margin as the game went on, kicking no more than three goals in each quarter to build their eventual winning score. While goals were hard to come by for the Devils, they proved competitive up the field but were beaten by a combination of Western’s strength and classy ball winners. Darcy Cassar led the way in the latter department, collecting a game-high 31 disposals (27 kicks, 13 marks) from half-back, while Josh Honey was back to his best with 25 disposals and two goals, and Josh Kellett (18 disposals) also proved effective. Over-ager Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 33 hit-outs) continues to dominate in the ruck, while fellow big-man Aaron Clarke clunked nine marks and Archi Manton converted three goals up forward. For the home side, Oscar Burrows-Cheng was named best for his combative 22 disposals, with Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon the leading disposal getters (both 25) and debutant Isaac Chugg showing some promising signs. The Devils remain in Tasmania for a clash against Oakleigh at North Hobart Oval next week, while Western has a bye in Round 6.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 10.6 | 13.9 | 17.10 (112)
NT THUNDER 1.2 | 1.5 | 6.8 | 8.9 (57)

GOALS:

GWV: N. Caris 4, R. Polkinghorne 2, I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rantall 2, T. Mahony 2, C. Craig-Peters, J. Hill, M. Martin.
NT: T. Woods 3, M. Cumming 2, B. O’Connell 2, J. Lynch.

BEST:

GWV: P. Glanford, C. Craig-Peters, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, J. Rantall, M. Lloyd
NT: B. Jungfer, B. O’Connell, L. Ferreira, S. Cumming, M. Cumming, J. Jeffrey

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have come away with an easy Round 5 victory, downing Northern Territory Thunder by 55 points at Windy Hill. The venue was aptly named for the conditions as a strong breeze blowing a gale caused for some inaccuracy at times, although both teams seemed well equipped by half-time to deal with the conditions. The Rebels never looked like losing the game, piling on 10 goals to one by half-time and essentially having put a nail in the Thunders’ coffin as they headed into the main break. The Northern Territory coaches told the players that their efforts “now” (in the second half) was what mattered and was within their control, and the visitors answered with three of the first four goals, and five foals to three in the term, to cut the deficit to 43 points by the final break. Any slight hint of a comeback was soon snuffed out within eight and a half minutes as the Rebels piled on four consecutive goals – including two to Izaac Grant – to race away to a 67-point advantage. Two late goals to Beau O’Connell and Matthew Cumming restored the final margin to 55. Patrick Glanford was named the Rebels’ best in the ruck, competing against the bigger-bodied Stephen Cumming, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne were among nine individual goalkickers. Nick Caris led the way with four majors, while Polkinghorne, Grant, Jay Rantall, Toby Mahony and Matty Lloyd all booted two apiece. For the Thunder, Tyson Woods kicked three goals all within 15 metres, while Matthew Cumming managed two majors, as did O’Connell. The small mid-forward was a standout for the Thunder, working hard on the outside with Ben Jungfer doing the heavy lifting on the inside. Down back, Joel Jeffrey had some highlight reel moments with high leaps and terrific intercept marks.