Tag: ryan byrnes

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Carlton Blues

FOR the first time in a long time, Carlton heads into the draft without a stacked hand, featuring only one in the first round and re-entering in the third with a few later picks. A year on from the much-publicised live trade which saw them land pick nine and Liam Stocker, the Blues have hinted they will go in targeting the best available at each pick despite having some holes to plug.

CURRENT PICKS: 9, 43, 57, 70, 85

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Nil

LIST NEEDS:

Small forward
Midfield depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

The openness of the first round means that the Blues’ current first selection will come largely at the mercy of those with picks before them. The player currently in the frame is big-bodied Bendigo utility Brodie Kemp, who unfortunately will not be available for most of his debut year after tearing his ACL late in the season. While his talent is undeniable and he would provide the perfect midfield fold for Patrick Cripps in the future, Carlton looks to still be at the stage where its high-end picks need to be making an impact straight away given the slow development of previous early selections. Elsewhere, Caleb Serong would be a great choice if he slides to pick nine, able to make an impact up forward or win contested ball through the midfield. The same goes for his Gippsland teammate Sam Flanders, but he may well be off the board and would be more of a forward at AFL level. Lifelong Carlton fan Dylan Stephens is a balanced midfielder with senior experience who fans would welcome with open arms, while the Blues are also said to be considering a bid for Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Liam Henry – a lively small forward. Fellow West Australian Luke Jackson is the best ruck in the draft, and would be an ideal replacement for the ageing Matthew Kreuzer if available.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Blues could do worse than to split pick nine and pick up players which suit their needs at a more correct value. While they hold pick nine in high regard and have some great options there, exciting small forwards Cody Weightman and Kysaiah Pickett will come into contention with picks amid the teens, and they could even pair their choice with a player like Josh Worrell depending on what they trade for. Miles Bergman is another forward option around the 15-mark, while Dylan Williams and Elijah Taylor would be high-upside choices in the 20s. Given a lack of their own NGA and father-son options, the Blues will not have to stack up on picks, but could rather spurn the plans of others in that department.

REMAINING CROP:

Outside class is an area the Blues could look to prop up with pick 43, with Tasmanian Mitch O’Neill one who may slide and provide terrific value in that range. Midfield depth will be the other priority, with the Sandringham pair Ryan Byrnes and Darcy Chirgwin options around the mark alongside Sam Philp and Daniel Mott. A small forward/midfield like Ned Cahill could also pique Carlton’s interest as a safe choice for his position. The Blues often opt to package or go with project players with their late picks, and GWV trio Toby Mahony, Isaac Wareham, and Mitch Martin are all players with great potential who fit the bill. 194cm midfielder Mahony could be of particular interest, while delisted train-on players Josh Deluca and Lukas Webb could also be taken late or with rookie picks.

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 60-41

AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at those players we have ranked 60-41.

#60 Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
14/04/2001 | 179cm | 73kg

The only State Draft Combine player in our Power Rankings, the Eastern Ranges ball magnet has been one of the more consistent players this year. One of the few unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invite, Stapleton has plenty of tricks despite his size, and can win the ball inside or out. In season 2019, Stapleton averaged 22.3 disposals, 2.5 marks, 5.2 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.1 tackles from 13 games, predominantly playing an inside role. His hands in close were very good, with athletic traits that are handy but could still improve such as his in-game acceleration – clocking a sub-three second 20m sprint at the State Combine, and his kicking consistency. A rough chance still, but should have done enough to find a place on an AFL list.

#59 Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

Mr Consistent, Sandringham’s fearless captain has been as reliable as just about anyone in the NAB League this season. Byrnes can play inside or out, wins the ball out of a stoppage and has a trademark five-step burst to create separation from his opponent and send the ball inside 50 to leading teammates. His kicking could certainly sharpen up, but he can use either foot which makes him more of an asset, and while he is shorter compared to some inside midfielders, he has the readymade frame to compete at senior level. Almost missed out on a bottom-age year at Sandringham and has been a workhorse to put himself in a position where he could be drafted. Just a no-fuss footballer who leads by actions and will be a popular player at a club should he be selected.

#58 Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

On upside, Jeka is a lot higher, but it is just piecing all of his traits together for some consistency. He is an elite contested mark, is virtually an eight-second flat agility test and near three seconds 20m sprint candidate. This athleticism is something rare in players of his size, but the inconsistencies of the past few years, as well as finding his best position – between forward and back – means he is still a raw prospect who has to develop. Given his traits, if he can be put to work and learn off a more aggressive mentor at an AFL club, then he will add more to his game. He has the physicality to really worry opposition defenders when leading out, it is just showing it on a more consistent basis. His best is winning a game off his own boot, but it just happens in seldom, so the best is yet to come from the Western Jets tall.

#57 Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender
25/04/2001 | 185cm | 74kg

An interesting prospect, Butler at his best can be a damaging half-back who floats through the middle and wins plenty of the ball. When it comes to off-field testing, Butler’s numbers do not jump off a page. But when it comes to in-game work, he moves well and has the smarts to evade opponents with ball-in-hand and open up space for his teammates. He seems a confidence player, because when he starts hitting targets, he can hardly miss, but when he sprays the odd kick early, he can be a bit more error prone throughout the game. Showed plenty throughout his school footballing, and finished the NAB League season averaging 23 disposals and three rebounds a game.

#56 Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

A lightly built, but talented outside midfielder with some good size, Shute is the stereotypical winger who likes to run and create from the back half going forward. Shute has nice foot skills with a touch of class, as well as a high work rate that sees him push up and down the ground. His endurance could still improve, as could his impact per possession, and while standing at 73kg, Shute could add size to his frame. Overall though, Shute has a nice outside game from which clubs can work with, and is one of the more prominent wingers available in the AFL Draft crop. He could go higher than this based on his ball use and outside run, but is still a developing talent.

#55 Flynn Perez
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder
25/08/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

One of the players hardest to rate this year, Perez has missed his entire top-age season after injuring his knee late last year at a Vic Country camp. From what he showed as a bottom-ager, Perez has some neat outside traits, and class when in close. He moves well and is a creator for his team, it is just about getting some consistency in both his disposal and game. At 188cm, Perez is a nice height for a midfielder, and when adding in his athleticism, the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder is unlikely to be forgotten by an AFL club come November.

#54 Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Considered a potential first rounder at the start of the year, Bryan has slipped down the order after an inconsistent year. He had a good finals series, particularly in the last couple of games which gave recruiters another glimpse at the highly athletic ruck. While he is far from the finished product, it is hard to imagine he will be overlooked based on his sub three-second 20m sprint and his size at 202cm makes him a valuable commodity. While he might not have the consistency of some of the other talls higher on the list, he has plenty of upside and a club could certainly find a need for Bryan should they be on the lookout for another ruck.

#53 Josh Honey
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
17/10/2001 | 185cm | 82kg

Another player with great upside, Honey has the versatility to rotate between midfield and forward, and is an athlete to-boot. Honey was one of the more impressive performers at the National Draft Combine, clocking up times of 2.97 seconds (20m sprint) and 8.10 seconds (agility test). His consistency can be a worry at times, particularly when it comes to influence throughout long periods in games, with his accumulation lower than most other comparable players – 16.1 disposals per game. But when on his game, Honey has that hurt factor about him, with his clean hands and defensive pressure – 4.6 tackles per game – a feature, as well as his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly, contributing 12 goals in 14 games at NAB League level, and two from two at the Under-18 National Championships.

#52 Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

A really consistent and reliable defender, Pasini is a player who could step up and play from early on in his career. At 193cm, Pasini is a little undersized to match up against the bigger-bodied key forwards, so will likely fill out as a running defender who takes a third tall, or could play on smaller players if need be. He has the skill level to be that offensive running back, and he reads the ball in flight really well. Averaging 18.3 disposals and 4.1 marks at WAFL Colts level from seven games, Pasini also got a call-up to both the Reserves and League sides for Swan Districts where he did not look out of place in two and one games respectively. After playing for Western Australia at the Under-18 Championships as a bottom-ager, Pasini returned as a top-ager and again was able to provide a steadying influence, picking up his rebound numbers to average two per game.

#51 Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Similar to Perez, Georgiades is one who is hard to read where he goes. On talent, he could be a top 30 pick, but the fact a quad injury has kept him out of action throughout his entire top-age year would be a concern. He is too talented and has too much upside to not be looked at, and with his vertical leap (85cm running) and acceleration (2.925 seconds 20m sprint), Georgiades is a headache for any defender. Once the air space is clear and there is a body in front of him, expect the high-flying forward to sit on their head and bring the ball down. While he has not been able to show any improvements this year due to injury, he could also improve his defensive attributes, with few tackles despite his obvious athletic talent. In terms of what he offers offensively however, Georgiades can be a dominant goal kicker both in the air and at ground level and be that X-factor that sets him aside from other tall forwards in this draft.

#50 Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

A versatile player who could well end up as a key forward and second ruck, Comben is capable of playing either role to a high standard. His ruck craft itself is good, and his second efforts at ground level such as laying a follow-up tackle or providing a block or shepherd is impressive. He can float forward and lead out of the goalsquare with sticky hands and an ability to crash a pack if needed. He has had his fair share of injuries over the journey so is arguably a tad behind on his development. But the fact he has come such a long way in his top-age year means Comben has plenty of upside for the future and is one who clubs can look to for the long term if they are after a bigger body up forward who can play that second ruck role to a t. Could be the second ruck picked in the AFL Draft, depending on how clubs view his progress against Bryan’s and what they are looking for, but we have him here due to his versatility and greater consistency over the season, as well as impact at the Under-18 National Championships for Vic Country.

#49 Liam Delahunty
GWS GIANTS/Allies | Forward/Defender
13/02/2001 | 192cm | 91kg

A member of the GWS GIANTS Academy, where Delahunty ends up on draft night will be interesting considering the GIANTS’ picks in this year’s draft. With Pick 6 likely to be Tom Green, Delahunty could be matched with one of the later picks, potentially 59 or 60. If the GIANTS choose to trade up to grab a second elite talent to avoid using Pick 6 on Green, then matching Green with their few picks, they might struggle to match a bid. Either way, Delahunty has shown enough to suggest a club could use a player of his services, with his kicking ability and reliability up forward – or in defence at times. He is a strong mark and covers the ground well, and while he is undersized, he could develop into a midfielder with time if required, and given his smarts could be very handy there. He could improve his accumulation numbers from ground level with the majority of his touches coming from marks. Once he develops that area of his game, he can have an equal impact at ground level as he can in the air.

#48 Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193m | 90kg

The Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner from the championships two years ago, Finlay has remained consistent across all areas. While his ground balls and decision making at times could improve, his work without the ball is top notch, able to intercept at will across half-back. He will likely play as that third tall defender, and has superb agility for a player of his size, and captained his school, Prince Alfred College (PAC) during the season. He reads the play well and is a dominant one-on-one player who could play from early on in his career if given the chance, but still has those areas to work on and will undoubtedly do so. A potent defensive weapon, Finlay might be the awkward size at 192cm, but he is a two-way player, nullifying an opponent and creating drive from half-back.

#47 Noah Cumberland
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies | Forward
15/03/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A player we at Draft Central are a fan of, Cumberland has some seriously great athletic traits. In particular his break-neck speed coming off a flank or charging down the ground, recording a 2.931-second 20m sprint and 8.208-second agility test at the National Draft Combine. Tied to the Lions’ Academy, Cumberland could well be the first Lion bid on in the AFL Draft, and his versatility and high upside would be something attractive to the club and other clubs. He is a great pressure player as well, with his aggression at both the ball and opponent, and with ball-in-hand or without. He averaged almost five tackles a game at the championships, and while he will want to lift his accumulation and kicking consistency – he averaged just the 11 touches per game – he has some great traits from which a club can develop.

#46 Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

As reliable and competitive as they come, Smith is a defender who can play both offensive and defensive roles, and almost always achieve the team requirement of him by the end of the game. Rarely having a game where he does not in some part contribute, Smith will attack contests without fear for his own safety, and also provide rebound out of the back half. He ticks a lot of boxes across the board, and while he could improve his speed, and add more dimensions to his game up the ground, his flexibility to play against taller or smaller opponents is a bonus. His one-on-one strength helps him take on the stronger players, while his competitive nature helps him challenge those with greater athletic traits. His rebounding and intercept marking, as well as his penetrating kick are other features of his game, and he is a player who will be loved by teammates, but bemoaned by opposition players.

#45 Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

There are not too many readymade key defenders in this AFL Draft, which makes Hilder a unique prospect for clubs. If an AFL club is contending and needs a key position player who is more prepared to tackle senior footy earlier in his career, then Hilder looms as a value mid-draft option. While he is not as agile as some others, and could work on his ground ball craft, Hilder is strong in the air, and composed with ball-in-hand in defence. Much like his North Adelaide teammate Finlay, Hilder has experienced all three levels of SANFL football this year, with eight games at Reserves level his predominant grade. He was as reliable as they came for South Australia at the national carnival, and is a nullifying defender who can take an opposition forward out of the game, averaging almost five marks from 12.5 disposals per game at the championships.

#44 Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

Another player who is difficult to rate and could go anywhere from 30 to 60 is Sharman, who had plenty of highlights this year since joining the Oakleigh Chargers program. Having made the move from New South Wales to Victoria and playing out at Balwyn, Sharman burst onto the scene with a few hauls of goals, including four against Eastern Ranges in a tight game. His goal kicking accuracy and marking is quite impressive, and while he has to build his endurance and other areas of his game to be more of a complete package, Sharman has that upside which clubs will hope to harness. For a player of his size with his smarts and X-factor, Sharman could play that third tall role inside 50 and with his athleticism, he is able to play as a leading forward out of the square.

#43 Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

A smart player who knows how to find the ball and use it delicately to hit targets over short distances like very few can, Mahony is a bit of a unique option as a small utility. Predominantly used in the forward half, Mahony is still light, but can compete with players in contested situations, and with his footy IQ and creativity, Mahony rarely makes too many mistakes by hand or foot. In saying that, his size will always come into question as a sub-180cm player, with Mahony lacking that explosiveness that others have playing a similar role. He will likely become that half-forward who can rotate through the middle, mainly because of his ability to pinpoint players inside 50 with sharp 45-degree kicks in between a host of opponents. Importantly, Mahony does not try and go for too much outside his limitations and therefore is highly influential with the game he employs.

#42 Trey Ruscoe
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Defender
03/11/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

A bit undersized to be a key defender at the elite level, Trey Ruscoe has proven to be a player who can easily play that role in the WAFL Colts, and while that is against lighter bodies, he will be challenged to do so against bigger-bodied forwards. In saying that, Ruscoe has great strength and the skills to also play as a running half-back. He has spent time in the midfield which is an area he can further develop and potentially become a readymade inside midfielder who can have an influence around the stoppages. Ruscoe is ultra-competitive and positions himself well in the defensive 50, but could play a midfield-defence hybrid role with his running capacity and versatility to play either position.

#41 Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A good sized inside midfielder who might be somewhat underrated compared to his peers due to injury issues that ruled him out of early season games then was injured in the opening quarter of his Under-18 Championships match. What he offers to a club is a big body with an appetite for winning the ball in the contest. His disposal (24.7), clearance (5.2) and tackling (7.9) numbers are right up there with the best, and his defensive approach to the game will certainly win him over at AFL level. His outside game and athleticism could do with some work, as could his ability to hit the scoreboard, but lock him in to be a inside midfielder who can provide a presence around the stoppages, especially once he has added more size to his frame in the coming years.

NAB League Boys team review: Sandringham Dragons

AS the NAB League grand final approaches, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title; checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Sandringham Dragons.

Position: 4th
Wins: 9
Losses: 6
Draws: 0

Points For: 1135 (Ranked #2)
Points Against: 856 (Ranked #2)
Percentage: 132.60
Points: 36

Top draft prospects:

Miles Bergman

The dynamic forward/wingman has improved out of sight to become a genuine first round bolter. A player with real x-factor, Bergman has strong hands in the air, an explosive vertical leap and the ability to find the goals from range. His game-defining mark in the Herald Sun Shield grand final will also stick in the minds of recruiters as part of a strong back end of the year.

Fischer McAsey

The versatile tall has been touted for a while now, and lived up to expectations in his top-age year to be named All Australian centre half-back. While he was enormous as an intercepting type in Vic Metro’s back six, McAsey also showed his ability to make a difference in the forward half in his games for Sandringham. Will be favourite to be the first Dragon taken on draft night.

Finn Maginness

Maginness has shot into first round contention on the back of a bed of high quality performances for both Sandringham and Vic Metro. His clearance winning ability and strong hands are terrific, as is his knack of finding the goals when moving forward. As a father-son prospect tied to Hawthorn, Maginness may slide a bit on draft night but has some fantastic traits for an inside midfielder.

Josh Worrell

A genuine utility, Worrell adapted his prowess as an intercept and rebound defender to become the unlikely leading goal kicker for Vic Metro this year. His reading of the play, overhead marking and effective kick are all traits that make him a smoky for the top 10, but injury has sidelined him in the back end of the season.

Others in the mix:

Where do we start? The Dragons have unprecedented numbers in terms of representative squad members and combine invitees (18), making their talent across the board hard to miss. Midfield/forward types Jack Mahony and Hugo Ralphsmith look the next best of the lot, while skipper Ryan Byrnes has put his hand up with a brilliantly consistent season from midfield, with Louis Butler a constant in defence and Oscar Lewis and Darcy Chirgwin showing signs around the ground. The raw raft of Sandringham talls should also feature, with the likes of Jack Bell, Corey Watts, Andrew Courtney, and Charlie Dean all garnering combine invites. The list goes on, so expect Dragons to litter the draft board.

BnF chances:

Byrnes seems the obvious choice given his consistency and prominence when a raft of other key names were out of the side during the school football season and national carnival. Butler is another to have performed well across each game at either end of the season, while Jackson Voss enjoyed a purple patch in the middle of the year, over-ager Angus Hanrahan was undeniable when available and Kyle Yorke was one to have garnered attention for his performances. Count out 2018 best and fairest Corey Watts at your own peril, as well as the bottom-age talent looking to match his feat in Jake Bowey.

2020 Draft Crop:

While matching their 2019 haul will be a tough ask, Sandringham is set to have another strong cohort with some exciting types having already made their mark. The clean and classy Bowey looks to be leading the lot on the back of his reliability on the wing, while Archie Perkins is a player with enormous scope, set for more midfield time next year alongside Darby Hipwell. Up forward, Ollie Lord looks a leading candidate to follow on from this year’s batch, already showing some aerial prowess.

Final word:

The Dragons’ ability to adapt to the mass changes they face each week is so impressive and was a feature of their season once again. They looked to be an early premiership favourite as they toppled Oakleigh in Round 3, but had to overcome some mid-season hurdles to recover and finish fourth. In the end, they could not quite get it done often enough against the two grand finalists, with another three losses to Oakleigh going alongside a hat-trick of losses to Eastern. Still, the Dragons are well poised to have the biggest haul of drafted players among each NAB League side.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Preliminary Finals

THE Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers advanced to the NAB League grand final after comprehensive preliminary final victories on Saturday at Princes Park. Before they do battle at the same venue a week later, we take a look at the standout combine invitees and under-agers players from all of the final four sides in our opinion-based scouting notes.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons

Oakleigh Chargers:
By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Nick Bryan

Bryan had one of his better games for the year hitting 15 disposals in a game for the first time. Despite looking calm with the ball around the ground some of his kicks where rather laconic so there is certainly room for improvement there. His hitout work again was great, often giving his midfielders first use. Bryan finished the game with 15 disposals, five marks and 21 hitouts.

#5 Trent Bianco

The Oakleigh captain was again all class for four quarters, patrolling the wing and back flank, winning plenty of the ball and using it incredibly well. Bianco’s kicking especially on both feet is perhaps one of the best in the NAB League as he often picks the right option and weights his kicks perfectly – one kick he had inside 50 in the third quarter was particularly sublime. Bianco had a complete performance finishing the game with 27 disposals, six marks, five tackles and five inside 50s.

#8 Noah Anderson

Anderson was kept goalless for the first time this year in Oakleigh’s first final but he was back to his damaging best kicking three goals and making it look easy. Anderson was again solid through the midfield showing great composure with ball in hand and using the ball well by hand and foot. Anderson’s first goal was a solid set shot from 45m and second was an easy goal running into open goal but his third was the best showing confidence to go back and kick a huge set shot from 55m. Anderson finished the game with 23 disposals, four marks and three goals.

#9 Will Phillips

Phillips backed up his impressive game in the first final to once again make an impact in the preliminary final, showcasing his ability to find the ball and use it well, also showing great movement in traffic and composure with ball in hand. Phillips has been playing mostly on the wing where he does well but he looks most natural winning his own ball and exiting the stoppages with his acceleration out of traffic and ability to weave through congestion and hit a target by hand or foot. He can also impact the contest with his strong tackling which he also showcased against Sandringham, Phillips finished the game with 27 disposals and eight tackles.

#11 Matt Rowell

Rowell had a slow start but finished the game extremely strongly as usual with his work rate first class, ability to attack the contest all day and tackle hard as well. Rowell just continues to power through with his strength at the contests and willingness to win the ball and extract it for is teammates but he works equally as hard to cover the ground and help out. Rowell showed off his great acceleration getting away from his opponent but just missing a goal on the run, it was a tough kick and the effort to even get the kick away was eye catching. Rowell finished the game with 32 disposals, five marks, six tackles and five inside 50s

#15 Kaden Schreiber

Schreiber enhanced his draft stocks with an eye catching display on the wing winning plenty of the ball and showcasing his ability to hit targets with his trusty left foot. Schreiber started the game well getting involved willing to get his hands dirty and although his handballs at times lacked penetration he did well to get in positions to bring teammates into the game. Schreiber was a solid four-quarter player winning plenty of the ball and working well offensively and defensively showing good courage with an intercept mark in defensive 50. Schreiber finished the game with 24 disposals and eight marks.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Another dominant outing from the 2020 draft prospect who is tied to the Western Bulldogs’ NGA, the talented key forward was again the clear standout key forward with his speed off the lead and marking power too much for Sandringham to handle. Ugle-Hagan had a great start taking two great lead up marks an converting both set shots but his best goal came in the third quarter marking deep in the pocket and kicking a sensational goal right on the siren. His last goal came easy in the last quarter with a mark and quick kick in the goal square. Ugle-Hagan finished the game with 12 disposals, nine marks and kicked 4.2 with a few on the full as well.

#29 Finlay Macrae

It would seem a second Macrae is on the horizon in the AFL with 2020 prospect Finlay playing a fantastic game showing his class and composure. Macrae’s best bit of play came in the second quarter selling a bit of candy before kicking a perfect pass inside 50 to teammate Cooper Sharman, Macrae found it easy to find space around the ground and use the ball superbly by hand and foot. Macrae finished the game with 22 disposals, nine marks and six inside 50s.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Despite not having a huge game Sharman was able to showcase why he was invited to the national combine with some great bits of play and showing his solid set shot technique. His first goal came from a free kick in the second quarter converting an easy set shot from 30m and he kicked the last goal of the game from a great pass from teammate Will Phillips then converting the set shot from a slight angle. Sharman looked at his best early in the game presenting up the ground and showing some nice plays on the wings. Sharman finished the game with seven disposals and two goals.

Sandringham Dragons:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

The tall midfielder started at the first centre bounce and began the contest really well, gathering 11 disposals in the opening quarter. His hands were clean and he moved through traffic with ease at times, highlighted by a couple of stylish side steps. He made an awful error late in the first term, turning the ball over in the defensive 50, but there was certainly more good than bad. As Oakleigh took control in the second and third quarters, Chirgwin wasn’t sighted as often, but he finished the game off well to end with a respectable 22 disposals.

#4 Finn Maginness

It was an uncharacteristically quiet game from the Hawthorn father-son prospect, who struggled to get involved when Oakleigh was on top. When he did win the ball, he was able to get clear from the stoppage and get the ball long inside 50 on occasions. There were times when he lacked options though, which lead to him being chased down in the corridor during the third term. He would only finish the game with 13 disposals, but he has shown more than enough throughout the year for the Hawks to know they have a good one on their hands.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

On a dirty day for the Dragons, the prolific Byrnes still found a way to get involved and win plenty of the footy. He just knows how to get in ball winning positions and is often used as a dangerous conduit to enter the forward 50. He possesses underrated pace from congestion and uses the ball well on either side of his body. As we have become accustomed to, Byrnes finished the day as Sandy’s leading ball winner with 23.

#6 Miles Bergman

This guy is a really exciting talent. Starting forward, Bergman took a strong mark on the lead in the first term before launching a set shot goal from outside 50. It was an impressive start and while he didn’t win mountains of the ball, the eye catching AFL attributes continued to emerge as the day went on. Some smooth movement through traffic in the second term was not long followed by a lace out 55 metre pass inside 50 to set up a goal to Hugo Ralphsmith. During a play in the second half, he sold some candy and side stepped an opponent without fuss, before kicking long to advantage. You can add courage to his list of qualities too, as he threw himself with the flight of the ball to impact an aerial contest late in the day, despite his side being done and dusted. 14 touches and a goal doesn’t sound too exciting, but Bergman passes the eye test with flying colours.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

It was a tough day for a Sandringham forward to get involved, but Ralphsmith always looked a likely option whenever the ball entered his area. He attacked the aerial contests and got in dangerous scoring options when Sandy won the ball forward of centre. He took some nice overhead marks and could have easily finished with more than one goal, kicking three behinds of which a couple were very convertible set shots. His one goal was a stylish banana finish though, after being on the end of a superb Bergman hit.

#13 Louis Butler

The ball winning half-back did not start the game in great fashion, missing an easy target in the pocket which resulted in a goal for Oakleigh. From then on his ball use was much better, picking out safe options in the corridor and down the line. He spent more time in the midfield as time went on, winning a couple of excellent ground balls in the final term with his head over the ball. He finished the game with 19 disposals.

#14 Kyle Yorke

Yorke is a bit of an old school key position forward who can mark, kick and importantly has some goal sense. Playing in front, he took an easy overhead mark in the first quarter and converted the set shot from close range directly in front. In the second term he got involved again, collecting the ball in the left hand pocket and superbly executed a dribble kick from the angle for a second.

Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power

Eastern Ranges:
By: Ed Pascoe

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

It was another typical game from Stapleton, showcasing his hard edge at the contest in winning the contested ball and tackling hard to once again be an important cog in the Eastern Ranges midfield. Stapleton was a strong four-quarter player, putting his body on the line all day and moving quickly to either win the ball at a stoppage or hit the opposition with a hard tackle. Stapleton finished the game with 22 disposals, eight tackles and four inside 50s in a great performance to keep enhancing his draft stocks.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was again a hard worker for Eastern Ranges, setting the standard with his two way running and willingness to take the game on and create. Mellis although not hitting the scoreboard as much as recruiters would like is doing great work to set up countless forward forays with his speed with ball in hand. Mellis finished the game with 21 disposals and four tackles.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter again was Eastern’s main target up forward and once again was able to hit the scoreboard and make an impact from his limited disposals. He came out with good intent with a strong tackle inside 50 to lock the ball in and soon after would take a nice lead up mark and slot the set shot from 25m with not much angle. He would set up a goal in the third quarter with a nice turn and handball to Jordan Jaworski running into open goal and he finished his game converting a set shot from a downfield free kick. Rossiter finished the game with nine disposals, four marks and two goals.

#19 Wil Parker

The young defender Parker was cool, calm and collected with his ball use a real feature coming out of defence. Often tasked with the kickouts, his ability to sum up his options and hit a target was superb. Not just a designated kicker and runner, he also showed he could take an intercept mark with a well read mark in the first quarter. Parker’s composure was sensational, often picking the right option instead of blazing away and his ball use from defence was a big reason for Eastern winning the game. The talented Parker finished the game with 23 disposals, six marks and eight rebounds.

#20 Connor Downie

The Hawthorn NGA prospect for the 2020 draft continued his fine form in this years finals series with another stellar game on the wing, showcasing his ability to get around the ground and cause havoc with his silky left boot and marking ability across the ground. Downie would show his class with a long goal on the run from 50m in the second quarter after receiving a handball from a teammate, and Downie glides across the ground well and looks to have great athleticism to go with his skill. Downie finished the game with 18 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old sensation would get a rude awakening getting matched up on dour defender and Gippsland captain Brock Smith, showing how dangerous Sonsie can be to get the quality defender to curb his influence. Smith ruffed up Sonsie early not giving him an inch and testing the young player, but Sonsie would show his class with a brilliant pick up and turned his opponent inside out to hit a nice kick out wide. Smith would sit out the rest of the game, which allowed Sonsie off the leash to quickly hit the scoreboard in the second term for only a behind, he would finally kick a goal in the last quarter with a nice snap, and Sonsie finished the game with 11 disposals while kicking 1.2.

Gippsland Power:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

Serong started the game hot, collecting numerous inside possessions in the opening minutes and getting in ball winning positions. He used his body to advantage and got the ball forward when he could. He gave his side a sniff in the second term, running down an opponent inside 50 before converting the set shot to get Gippsland within a goal. As the Ranges took control, Serong’s influence lessened, but he hit the scoreboard again late to finish with a respectable 21 disposals and two goals. He has almost locked himself a top five position now and is a big chance to be playing senior footy early 2020.

#4 Sam Flanders

It was another bullocking performance by Flanders who has enhanced his reputation further with a massive finals series that may now have him in top five contention. He was explosive at the stoppages, at one point handballing to himself (I’m not sure whether deliberately or not to be honest) before collecting and kicking long inside 50. He’s become a genuine two-way midfielder now and has a natural feel on how to impact the contest offensively and defensively. Flanders has much improvement to come in an AFL environment too, he is going to be great fun to watch develop.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder was solid at the contest again, but was arguably more influential on the spread as he won the ball on the flanks and made good decisions. He isn’t blessed with pace, but makes up for that with smarts and finds a way to get away from his opponents. He has courage in the air too, going back with the flight during the second quarter to impact a contest. He finished with 23 disposals to match his NAB League average and prove again how reliable he is.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Sparkes has had some great games throughout 2019, but I feel Saturday’s effort was one of his best for the season. Starting on the wing, he ran hard up and down the ground to provide a target or impact any contest he could. He won a brilliant ground ball in the second term, before kicking long inside 50 to advantage in a rare Power attacking foray. When Brock Smith went down with a shoulder injury in the first half, Sparkes took it upon himself to help out in the back half. He seemed to intercept and rebound at will in the fourth term, impacting aerial contests and running offensively when the opportunity presented. One of Gippsland’s highlights on a disappointing day, finishing with 26 disposals.

#17 Charlie Comben

It certainly was not one of Comben’s better days, but he wasn’t alone. He took an excellent reaching contested mark in the first term, but that was about as good as it got for Comben. Riley Smith had the better of him in ruck, while he lacked supply inside the forward half. Despite that, I love what he offers and I doubt there are many more talls in the draft who have a higher ceiling. An AFL club could land themselves a bargain here.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The highly talented Phillips was in and out of the contest, but provided some eye catching moments as he always does. He took a nice lead up mark early and a long running kick inside 50 during the first term. He earned a 50m penalty and kicked a vital goal after the siren on three quarter time to keep Power alive, but couldn’t have an impact in the final term. Didn’t have the finals series he would have liked, but was one of the leading goal kickers in the NAB League with 28 majors and has the scope to develop rapidly once in that AFL environment. He has many admirers.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Another outstanding final by the thick set defender, who has come to life and given recruiters (particularly Hawthorn) a bit to ponder over the coming months. He got Gippsland on the board in the first term with a long running goal that lifted spirits after Eastern kicked the first two. He had long metres gained, highlighted taking an intercept mark in defensive 50 and playing on to run through the corridor and get the ball forward fast. His body positioning was excellent to win the ball or protect a teammate. He had genuine claims to be Gippsland’s best and carried the flag on a day when his side had minimal winners.

Oakleigh charge into second-straight grand final

OAKLEIGH Chargers earned a second crack at premiership glory in as many years, trumping metro rivals Sandringham by 75 points at Princes Park.

The Chargers got on top early with a 28-point half-time lead and never looked back, sealing the 17.7 (109) to 4.10 (34) result.

The signs were ominous early as Jamarra Ugle-Hagan produced a mark on the lead and set shot goal typical of his form, backed by a Thomas Graham goal on the run shortly after – all within the first three minutes. But as expected, Sandringham hit back as Finn Maginness got on top at the stoppages. The Dragons even snatched the lead for the only time of the game after some improved finishing, with Kyle Yorke’s set shot sailing through. The Chargers hit back swiftly with one of their better passages forward of centre, with Noah Anderson and Trent Bianco combining to set up Ugle-Hagan’s second for the term, sealing the five-point quarter time lead.

The game began to open up as the Chargers quickly got on the board again on the back of a classy Finlay Macrae finish, and he had a say in Oakleigh’s third goal of the term with a nice baulk in the lead up to Graham’s second major. The momentum was halted momentarily as Yorke again found the big sticks with a deft dribbler over the back, but it was business as usual as Cooper Sharman got on the board with a reply and Graham roosted a huge set shot goal late on to give the Chargers an ominous 28-point half time lead.

Oakleigh again started the better in the third and broke out to a game-high lead in the back-end of the term, sparked by a couple of great moments from bottom-age forward Connor Stone. A goal to Hugo Ralphsmith on the back of a spearing Miles Bergman ball was the only form of resistance from the Dragons, as they could only stand and watch as Oakleigh put through another three goals to end the term 45 points to the good and with one foot in the grand final. With the game all but dead and buried, the Chargers added another four goals to the Dragons’ nil to see out the win in a heated final term, with state combine invitee Kaden Schreiber going in the book late on.

Matt Rowell led all-comers with a typically consistent 32 disposals, followed by Schreiber’s 28 and skipper Bianco’s 27. Will Phillips enjoyed his time through midfield with 26 touches, while Anderson was impactful with three goals from 21 disposals in a statement performance. In a dour day for the Dragons, Ryan Byrnes racked up 27 disposals in a trying effort, while Darcy Chirgwin and Maginness combined well early and Louis Butler was solid down back with Harry Loughnan.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.2 | 8.3 | 12.6 | 17.7 (109)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.3 | 3.5 | 4.9 | 4.10 (34)

GOALS:

Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan 4, T. Graham 3, N. Anderson 3, C. Stone 2, C. Sharman 2, F. Macrae, N. Stathopoulos
Sandringham – K. Yorke 2, H. Ralphsmith, M. Bergman

ADC BEST:

Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan, T. Bianco, K. Schreiber, N. Anderson, F. Macrae, M. Rowell
Sandringham – R. Byrnes, J. Bowey, L. Butler, K. Yorke, M. Bergman, H. Ralphsmith

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Semi-finals

THE cream is rising to the top as the NAB League finals series narrows down to the final four contenders after a pair of hard fought semi-finals. With a host of national and state combine invitees in action, we cast our eye over the weekend’s action to highlight the best-performing invitees in our opinion-based notes.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Calder Cannons

Sandringham:

By: Ed Pascoe

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

It was not a huge game from Chirgwin disposal wise but he was still a key cog in the Sandringham midfield where they out-worked their opponents. Chirgwin’s ball use was improved on last week and he made some good composed decisions at stoppages, he used his body well at stoppages and tackled hard when he did not have possession. Chirgwin finished the game with 17 disposals and eight tackles.

#4 Finn Maginness

Maginness was his teams best player playing a great four quarter performance with his work on the inside and workrate around the ground proving unstoppable for the Calder midfielders. The Hawthorn father-son prospect set the tone early winning the hard ball and proving impossible to tackle keeping his feet and firing out handballs, he was too strong to take down and his running too powerful for the Calder midfielders to go with him on the outside. Maginness kicked a classy goal in the first quarter faking his opponent and then kicking the goal on the run, his disposal by foot has never been a strong suit but he was able to hit some good targets especially inside 50. MAginness finished the game with 32 disposals, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s and a goal.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes, despite a slowish start, really hit his straps half way through he first quarter and never looked back, playing a huge game through the midfield in winning plenty of the ball and firing the it inside 50. Byrnes has been Sandringham’s player of the finals so far and the captain played his role well, winning the ball on the inside and working hard around the ground while showing great composure with ball in hand and moving it quickly inside 50 when needed. Byrnes finished the game with 32 disposals and 10 inside 50s.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman had a very quiet game by his standards and was well held by Calder’s Ben Overman. Bergman’s poor game was not through lack of effort since he still led hard to provide an option up forward, it was disappointing that Sandringham did not move him into the middle in the last quarter to try and get him some touch going into their preliminary final next week. Bergman finished with four marks and four disposals.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith was the player to take the game away from Calder early kicking three first quarter goals and despite not adding to that tally, still finished the game as one of Sandringham’s most influential players. Ralphsmith was unstoppable both in the air and at ground level taking some strong marks in the pack and on the lead and also swooping on the loose ball which is how he kicked two of his three goals in the first quarter. Ralphsmith seemed to lack a bit of composure after the first quarter just attacking the goals from very situation where he could have looked for his teammates more, still he would continue to show his exciting traits as he finished the game with 19 disposals, eight marks and kicked 3.3.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler again won plenty of the ball in defence providing important rebound for his side. Butler is one of the most consistent defenders in the NAB League having no trouble finding the ball and he proved that again and although it is mostly his attacking side that is highlighted he showed his improved defensive side with some strong tackles. Butler’s ball use was again good but still had some turnovers which he will need to better avoid if he is to get his side into a grand final. He finished the game with 25 disposals, five tackles and five rebound 50s.

#36 Oscar Lewis

Lewis played a different role for Sandringham playing mostly forward and despite not hitting the scoreboard still contributed well. The evasive left footer was energetic up forward both with and without the ball always looking to create with the ball and try and lock the ball in when he did not have it. Lewis finished the game with 12 disposals and seven tackles.

Calder:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Daniel Mott

The standout four quarter contributor from the Cannons who looked sore towards the end of the game but never stopped trying. He was frustrated with himself when he coughed up a handball on the deck to Dragons’ skipper Ryan Byrnes, but kept pushing hard and was one of the few ball winners from his side in the first term. He produced a lovely kick inside 50 to hit-up Mason Fletcher up one end in the third term, and intercepted a ball in the final quarter but his set shot just missed. He had another snap on goal late and it was bouncing through but touched by Corey Watts on the line.

#8 Sam Ramsay

After a quiet first term, Ramsay found the ball with ease, racking it up in the second half and becoming the main man with Mott tiring. He was working hard to try and create run and carry in the back half and open up the game. At times made mistakes going down the middle such as being chopped off by Byrnes late in the game, but he was doing his best to keep his side alive in the finals series. The biggest disposal winner from the Cannons and equal most on the ground, which was remarkable after only a few in the first quarter.

#21 Harrison Jones

Showed clean hands with a quick handball early in the second term, but the shot on goal from his teammate missed. He had a chance of his own from 55m out straight in front with a huge roost but just fell a few metres short and was rushed across the line. In the third term, Jones tried to create something going forward but ended up spraying the kick inside 50 out on the full, but the next kick was a low drilling kick inside 50. Jones also dropped back into defence at times, taking a nice intercept mark later in the game and switching play.

#38 Brodie Newman

The captain tried hard throughout the game in an often under-siege defence. He was having to back-up his teammates in the air and at ground level trying to maintain composure there, and was doing one percenters throughout the match. He went forward in the final term to try and spark something, doing well in a one-on-one contest against Watts to force a stoppage.

#43 Lachlan Gollant

His day started with winning a free kick for being thrown to the ground with his kick going out on the full, but it got better from there. Not a huge disposal game with just the 14, but his defensive work was very impressive. On a number of occasions he put his body on the line when he had to go and protected the ball drop zone, as well as applying shepherds and bumps when required. In one instant he won the ball, handballed off then shepherded for a teammate to run off half-back, then later on was tackled, had to cough up the ball quickly, but ran down an opponent with a terrific tackle.

#48 Nathan Stewart

Played out of defence and pushed up the ground to be solid overall in the scheme of things. He created some run and quick hands out of the back 50 and along the wing, including a great tackle on Jesse Castan on the wing to win a free kick.

Gippsland Power vs. Western Jets

By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland:

#2 Caleb Serong

It was another consistent four quarter effort from the highly rated Serong, who again topped the Gippsland disposal tally with 27. His stoppage work was a highlight as usual, as his clean hands and strength often gave Power first use with seven clearances. He kicked a lovely running snap goal in the second term, but he could have had an even greater scoreboard impact. He took a leaping overhead mark inside 50 during the third term, but didn’t connect well with the set shot. After keeping the ball in front from a stoppage in the last, he collected to run inside 50 and just missed on his left foot, but still showed the penetration he gets on his non-preferred. A double 50 metre penalty late was a lowlight, but he plays his best footy on the edge.

#4 Sam Flanders

Not as influential as the week before, but the explosive Flanders still produced some eye catching moments throughout the afternoon. His first half was a tad quiet, but was highlighted by a big torp that caused some panic inside 50. He got involved in the third quarter, escaping from a strong tackle at a stoppage, released to a teammate, before getting the ball back and kicking inside 50. His best moment came later in the third when he superbly read the drop of the ball off a pack to gather cleanly and run into an open goal. A solid 18 disposal outing.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder was back to his ball winning best for the semi-final, getting involved offensively and defensively. He set the tone in the first quarter with a heavy tackle in the defensive 50, before executing a rundown tackle later in the term. He was smart at the stoppages, reading the drop first as he often does and extracting to the advantage of his side. Baldi spread hard to the flanks and was used to on multiple occasions to deliver inside 50, with a composed left foot pass to Ryan Sparkes during the third term the best of them. He finished the day with 23 disposals to be one of many good contributors.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly’s excellent form continued on Saturday as he again took the game on with great intent from the back half. He took a great contested intercept mark in the opening minutes of the game, using smart body work to keep his opponent at bay. He was then on the end of multiple running plays, baulking around opponents and cutting through the corridor with dare before generally executing a pin point pass. He is Power’s go to man in the back half and he rarely lets his teammates down with those dual sided elite skills. Connolly finished with 19 disposals for the game of which most produced long metres to advantage.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Another Gippsland Vic Country representative who had a more profound impact in the second final, running up and down the wing and hitting the scoreboard. He produced a long metres gained movement in the second term and ran to dangerous positions. What I loved was that he created an option forward, hitting a lovely long set shot into the wind during the third term. Sparkes pushed inside 50 again in the final quarter, finding space in the right hand pocket and finishing well from a difficult position. As usual, he impacted aerial contests at every opportunity with courage and finished with a respectable 19 disposals to go with the brace of goals.

#16 Josh Smith

Again, it was extremely tough conditions for the talls, but Smith always finds a way to impact the contest. He threw his body around in the ruck and at ground level, on occasions looking hell bent on steamrolling through some of the Western midfielders. Some were smart enough to get out of the way, others were not so lucky. You can never question his endeavour, providing an excellent double effort on the wing in the first quarter. While he didn’t dominate, he managed to kick a nice running goal in the third term and played his role.

#17 Charlie Comben

Comben returned to the side after missing the Qualifying Final and was better than his disposal tally of eight suggested. He again provided moments that suggests why he is generating so much attention from a draft prospective. He started in the ruck and won his fair share of hit outs, before often resting forward to provide a target. He clunked an excellent overhead mark in the first quarter inside 50 and provided a second aerial highlight later in the third. At ground level he fought aggressively, laying a physical tackle on Daly Andrews in the first term. An excellent snapped goal under pressure in the final term capped off an underrated performance.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The medium forward had an ok day without setting the game alight. He started with a lovely hit up inside 50 in the opening quarter, but missed a gettable left foot snap shortly after by his lofty standards. It was a difficult wind to penetrate through though, as he kicked another snap across the face later in the day. He took a nice chest mark in the third quarter and kicked truly to finish with a goal and 15 disposals.

#37 Harrison Pepper

The Vic Country representative played arguably his best game of the season, picking off balls from half back for fun and rebounded with vigour. He read the drop of a pack ball brilliantly in the first term, in which he hit up a teammate inside 50 that started things off for him. A great smother, pick up and intercept in the second term earned an applause from the crowd, as he continued to find himself with the ball when it mattered. He was efficient and made really sound decisions, ending with an impressive 25 disposals and seven rebounds.

Western:

#7 Daly Andrews

Andrews was one of the best players on the ground, for either side. Starting at the centre bounces, Andrews was dynamic inside and out, providing an early match highlight by kicking a monster goal from outside 50 in the opening minutes. He was able collect cleanly on numerous occasions, sometimes getting his arms high to release or cut through traffic with ease and kick long. The 19-year-old continued to find the ball in the second half, despite Power holding control and he was able to kick a second goal in the final term. He finished with 26 disposals to end his campaign on an individual high.

#18 Emerson Jeka

The big key position forward made the most of his limited opportunities to be one of the Jets better performers. Playing on the miserly Tye Hourigan, Jeka had to fight for everyone one of his disposals. He took a Jonathon Brown style contested chest mark on the wing in the first half, coming over the top of the pack with presence. Not long after he marked on the lead, turned quickly and superbly hit Archi Manton lace out inside 50. Jeka hit the scoreboard in the final term for well earned snapped goal to end with 11 disposals.

#20 Darcy Cassar

The highly rated half back probably hasn’t had the finals series he would have hoped, but was still solid for the Jets on Saturday. With ball in hand he made good decisions and used it well, often getting in space behind the contest. Cassar struggled for options up the line and often had to retreat via handball to ensure his side held possession, finishing with 17 disposals.

Ones to watch – AFL Draft watch

FOLLOWING on from Monday night’s Power Rankings which included our current top 30 players, we take a look at some of the players who could make a move up the draft boards based on their season to date, their upcoming finals or perhaps their testing results come October. Mostly, this piece will mention a number of players who were very close to the top 30, and given the evenness of the competition, it is hard to fit a high amount of players into those spots. All the players chosen are those who have received National Draft Combine invitations and therefore have at least four AFL clubs who have expressed interest in them. For extended profiles on each player, click on their name highlighted in red.

Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)

The exciting runner has been building since returning to the Dragons from school football and was second best-on for the side in the narrow loss to Eastern Ranges. His kicking his improved since the start of the season and he has eye-catching traits coming out of defence and along a wing.

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons)

The tireless working midfielder is a player who could slot into a senior midfield immediately and has a great first few metres out of a stoppage with his burst able to create separation from his opponent. He is one of the most consistent players in the competition and while his kicking can be ironed out further, he is as dual-footed as they come which is very handy, as well as dangerous going inside 50.

Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)

Is no stranger to racking up big numbers in the back half, and will be keen to put together a good finals series. He knows how to find the pill and get it out of defence, and while the elimination final win was not his finest game, he has the versatility to play further up the ground. He also has power in the way he moves, and is a reliable interceptor.

Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power)

The ruck missed the qualifying final loss to Oakleigh Chargers but is expected to be back for the semi-final clash with Western. Behind Luke Jackson, Comben has emerged as potentially the second picked ruck in the draft and when he is up and about looks just as dangerous up forward as through the middle. He can clunk marks and follow up with second efforts around the stoppages.

Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy)

Will be an interesting one to see where a bid falls because while he is not the highest disposal winner, he has some athletic traits that are hard to ignore. His break-line pace is very eye-catching and his defensive work is terrific. He takes the game on, and while at times it can cause some mistakes, he has pace to burn and the versatility to fulfil a number of roles.

Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays)

The All-Australian key defender can play forward if required and has a good set of hands, reading the ball well in flight. He seems better suited in the defensive 50, but given a lack of top-end talls like there was last year, De Koning is a player who could go higher than expected and join his brother Tom in the AFL.

Mitch Georgiades (Subiaco)

Sidelined with a quad injury all year, trying to work out where the exciting but seriously raw forward will go is anyone’s guess. His work at the 2018 AFL Under-18 Championships was a treat with his high leaping and marking ability on display. He was still very raw in the sense he did not find a lot of it, but his ceiling could be great value for a club mid-draft, though a club could pounce earlier.

Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons)

Similar to De Koning, Jones is a versatile tall who put his name in lights with some strong performances for Vic Metro at the AFL Under-18 Championships. He spent a fair bit of time in the ruck on the weekend for the Cannons, but can play defensive roles, or be a leading target up forward. Still lightly built, the 194cm player is a genuine project key position prospect and they do not grow on trees.

Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons)

The balanced midfielder has always been a name in earlier draft conversation, but his form of late has been really impressive. The knock was his contested work but he is finding more of it to accompany his great kicking skills. More so, his work rate to find space is very good and he can hit the scoreboard, looming as a player who could play a key role in a senior midfield in the not-too-distant future.

Jake Pasini (Swan Districts)

The Swan Districts defender is as reliable as they come, having spent time across all three levels – League, Reserves and Colts – in the WAFL. While he was able to have more time and space to win the ball in the Colts competition, he showed he was still strong in the air regardless of opponent, averaging five marks per game in the senior ranks. Not talked about as much as some of the other key position defenders, but could be a really solid pick to play a lockdown role or be more offensive at the top level.

Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power)

Always exciting, the general forward can sniff a goal a mile away and just creates plays inside 50. His consistency is still an area of improvement, but when he gets going, he can do the impossible with a deadly left foot that has some distance on it. He roams outside 50 and can double back to crumb a ball, and at his medium size, can boot goals from set shots or from general play.

Sam Philp (Northern Knights)

Overlooked for Vic Metro selection, Philp is one player who I personally have noticed change since the start of the season. In the opening few rounds you could tell his was solid with good speed and ease at which he won the ball, but his run home has been nothing short of exceptional. He is now using not only his speed but burst out of stoppages, and he would be racking up the metres gained out of the midfield, and getting the ball into the forward 50 to set up goal scoring opportunities. Just as importantly, he got forward and managed to provide a target when resting up there meaning he has added versatility to his repertoire. Should be the first Knights player picked on form this season.

Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens)

The exciting forward and nephew of Byron has always been a crowd-pleaser with his magical goals from impossible angles and high-flying marks. He is still raw and lightly built, but he attacks the ball with vigour and is a player who could play that perfect crumbing role at AFL level. While Pickett will probably be the shortest player drafted this year, it is hard not to get excited about the potential highlight reel in the future that this kid could produce.

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels)

With an endurance base that rivals Sam Walsh or Bailey Smith from last year, Rantall just burns his opponents into the ground. He moves well and gets to areas on the ground that make it hard for opponents to keep track of him, and he racks up the ball with ease. An inside midfielder with athletic capabilities, Rantall is at his most damaging around stoppages where he can burst away, or when inside 50 snap around his body to hit the scoreboard. He seems like a perfect second round prospect because he has areas to work on such as his composure when kicking, but it has been improving since the early rounds and having come from a basketball background, he is still raw and developing.

Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens)

The South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the AFL Under-18 Championships has managed to fly under the radar this year comparatively to some of his state teammates. He has been ultra-consistent and his performances at the championships put his name right up into draft contention. Against senior bodies in the SANFL, Schoenberg has averaged 22.0 disposals, 5.0 marks, 4.0 clearances and 3.5 tackles showing he is one of a number of readymade prospects who could fill a role at senior level should he be required to in 2020.

Josh Shute (Sturt)

The yin to Schoenberg’s yang, Shute is the definition of a winger, with his hard running, good pace and nice kicking skills on display. He will provide a nice outside prospect who can slot into other roles such as half-back which is a place he has found himself for the Double Blues. Like Schoenberg, Shute is already playing against senior bodies in the Reserves and despite weighing in at 73kg at the start of the year, has shown no signs of being overawed against bigger bodies.

Brock Smith (Gippsland Power)

The reliable Gippsland defender missed out on the Power’s qualifying final loss to Oakleigh, but has put together a body of work this season. His offensive work has been more damaging than in past years where he has been asked to play more defensive-minded roles. He had to do just that at the AFL Under-18 Championships, but some of the games he put together for the Power this year have been superb with not only intercepting, but his work going forward and hitting the scoreboard as well. Occasionally makes mistakes but is generally reliable with the ball, and is just an animal who bleeds for the club he plays for and leaves nothing out on the field.

Chad Warner (East Fremantle)

An absolute contested ball-winning machine, Warner racks up the touches with ease and shows composure through the midfield when going forward. He has drawn comparisons to Jack Redden in the way he goes about it, but his drive and desire is what sets him apart from other midfielders. He works his way through stoppages and picks up plenty of clearances, but can also get back and assist the defence, acting as a two-way runner with solid defensive and offensive traits which hold him in good stead.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Week 1 Finals

NAB League Boys finals action got underway over the weekend and we took a look at those players who received draft combine invitations as well as some bottom-age and 16-year-old prospects who impressed on the big stage. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writer.

Northern Knights vs. Western Jets

By: Ed Pascoe

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante was a thorn in the side of the Western Jets with his forward craft proving a real handful. His efficiency was impressive considering the windy conditions and his most impressive goal came in the first quarter with a fantastic rove from a stoppage assisted by his teammates trying to lay blocks for the crafty forward. D’Intinosante had good company all day with Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci manning him most of the game. D’Intinosante finished the game with 13 disposals and five goals with his last game a good reminder to club scouts of what he is capable of up forward.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess impressed playing a range of roles where needed, with the versatile player being thrown forward at times when his team had the wind. Sturgess battled hard all day and was courageous to come back onto the ground after limping off late in the game. Sturgess looked best in his normal defensive role attacking the contests and showing good composure when in possession, finishing the game with 16 disposals and five tackles.

#13 Sam Philp

Philp was the standout midfielder for the game with his explosiveness and spread from stoppages really catching the eye. Philp earned a national combine invite with a strong year despite missing Vic Metro selection and he proved why he got that nomination with some eye-catching plays, running the ball out of stoppages and hitting targets by foot. He will not get a stat for it but laid a great block inside forward 50 for his dangerous teammate Josh D’Intinosante in the first quarter, showing that he is a team player and not just out to do the flashy plays. Philp finished the game with 21 disposals and eight tackles.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Cox looked dangerous early on playing as a key forward, making use of the wind and judging the ball in flight to take a nice contested mark, kicking a nice set shot goal in the first quarter. Both his goals came in the first quarter and was moved around the ground more as the game went on to finish the game on the wing. He started the game better than he finished it, showing good composure and movement in the first half but caught holding the ball on multiple occasions in the second half which could come down to biting off more than he could chew. Cox looks a good prospect for the 2020 draft as a taller player that can play a range of roles, finishing with 11 disposals, four marks and two goals.

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

Although small in stature Failli had a big impact on the game with his work through the midfield really impressing. Usually a goal sneak forward, Failli played well in the midfield often winning the ball at ground level and quickly kicking the ball inside 50. He still managed to hit the scoreboard in the third quarter, bobbing up at exactly the right time to kick an easy goal in the square. His clean hands at ground level are often used to snag goals up forward and were used to good effect at stoppages instead. Failli has really shown in the last few weeks that he is more than just an opportunistic forward, finishing the game with 14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Jeka made the most of his time up forward when his side had the wind, kicking two goals in the second quarter with his bets coming from a nice mark close to goal. Jeka provided a good target for the Jets who had no shortage of talls to go to but Jeka was the one with the most height to potentially expose the Northern Knights’ defence. Jeka was good in the air but did not offer as much when the ball hit the ground, so could be an area to improve on ahead of next week’s big semi-final. Jeka finished the game with 13 disposals and two goals.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar was not able to replicate his big game in defence last week, and although not many of his teammates won a high amount of ball it was still a quiet game by Cassar’s standards. Cassar is one of his team’s better ball users so it would have been good to see him moved up the ground after his quiet first half – hopefully this move can be done if he has another quiet half next week. Cassar finished the game with 11 disposals and four tackles.

Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

By: Ed Pascoe

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Stapleton typified the brand of football Eastern wanted to play against Sandringham with his attack on both the ball and man setting the tone through the midfield. Stapleton’s brand of football isn’t fancy but it gets the job done, though that didn’t stop him from trying to show some attacking flair which he did with a nice goal on the run in the second quarter. Stapleton finished the game with 18 disposals, 10 tackles and a goal.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was one of the most important players in Eastern’s engine room, providing the speed and dare with ball in hand that he has made a staple of his game this year. His kicking was rather scrappy at times, but always tried to make up for any mistakes and was always willing to do the one percenters. Mellis showed a good mix winning his own ball but also providing that run on the outside, finishing the game with 21 disposals and three inside 50s.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Rossiter was the dominant big man on the ground and has picked a good time of the year to hit some strong form. His first goal was his team’s first, taking a lead up mark and converting the set shot from 45 metres out. His best play was a bone crunching tackle in the second quarter, showing he could influence without ball in hand. He was also strong in the second quarter taking a strong mark on the wing, flying over the pack. Rossiter finished the game with 10 disposals, four marks and four goals.

#20 Connor Downie

Downie is not eligible to be drafted until next year but he has already made a name for himself this year and had another strong performance showcasing his run and dash and willingness to drive the ball forward. Downie showed great composure and intent throughout the game and worked hard up and down the ground. His left foot can really be a weapon when given time and space and he finished the game with 19 disposals and three marks.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

Sonsie did not get a lot of the ball but he bobbed up with goals just when his team needed them. His first goal was something special crumbing a pack 40 metres out on a pocket, running to goal and kicking the ball perfectly with the wind to guide the ball through. It was the best goal for the day and really showed why he is considered such a high talent for the 2021 draft. Earlier that quarter he showed terrific vision, kicking across ground to find a target that took real courage to hit. Sonsie finished the game with two goals from six disposals.

Sandringham:

#4 Finn Maginness

Not a lot went right for Hawthorn father-son Maginness, and he had a tough day at the office. Despite not having the impact he would have liked he really worked hard in the last quarter and looked desperate to try and get his team the win. Maginness had an average day unable to get his hands on the ball, and when he did find the footy he did not use it as well as he has shown he can. He got to a point in the last quarter where he just threw himself into contests and tackled hard, finishing the game with 14 disposals and 10 tackles.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Byrnes was the clear standout through the midfield for Sandringham and as their captain led from the front to do everything he could to win the ball and drive it forward. Byrnes was a hard worker at stoppages, getting to the fall of the ball and bursting away from stoppages. His kicking has been an area to work on this year and it didn’t let him down as he often picked the right options. Byrnes finished the game with 28 disposals, 11 inside 50s and three tackles.

#6 Miles Bergman

Bergman was his team’s most dangerous forward, proving too strong overhead and too slick at ground level. His first goal came from a nice clunk mark before going back to slot the set shot close to goal on a slight angle. His best patch of play came with a quick lay on and kick into the middle of the ground, opening up the play which was something his teammates couldn’t quite pull off all day. His second goal came in the final quarter with a long bomb from past the 50 metre arc, finishing on a high with 13 disposals, seven marks and two goals.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler was the standout defender for his team, winning plenty of the ball and using it very well in the windy conditions. Many players throughout the day struggled with the wind but Butler kept confident with his kicking and kept many kicks low and straight. His rebound from defence was fantastic, though he could have used some more support from his teammates. Butler finished the game with 26 disposals and nine rebounds.

#29 Fischer McAsey

McAsey played more of a loose role down back, often floating around to impact contests with a strong mark or a big spoil. His marking wasn’t as strong as usual but the wind was playing tricks on plenty of players throughout the day. McAsey had a good knack of reading the play and he would have been dominant if it wasn’t for the conditions, which made it hard work for talls. He will look to improve his output next week as he will be incredibly important for Sandringham’s tilt at a flag. McAsey finished the game with 11 disposals and four marks.

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Calder:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Daniel Mott

Mott was one of Calder’s standouts through the midfield, winning the ball with ease on both the inside and outside. Mott was rewarded early when he shot up Mason Fletcher nicely inside 50 before being returned the favour further inside 50 where he went on to nail a classy set shot goal. His entries inside 50 were dangerous and he was especially dangerous inside 50 himself kicking a classy goal on the run in the last quarter. Mott finished the game with 23 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s and two goals in a complete performance through the midfield.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay continued his hot form with a big game through the midfield, showcasing his running power both with and without the ball. Ramsay was all class with ball in hand and would often use his long left foot kick to his advantage with some nice kicks inside 50. He kicked his only goal from a nice set shot in the third quarter and would continue to set up other scoring opportunities with his run and spread from the midfield. Ramsay has averaged 31 disposals from his last seven games and this was one of his biggest games with the midfielder finishing with 35 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and a goal.

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was a great target up forward, able to get up the ground and take some great marks. O’Sullivan didn’t hit the scoreboard himself but he played a pivotal role up the ground with his marking a real feature, taking two big contested marks in the last quarter that really caught the eye. In general play he looked to move well, showing he had some tricks other than his leading and marking. O’Sullivan finished the game with 20 disposals and eight marks.

#21 Harrison Jones

Despite not hitting the scoreboard Jones still showed why he is one of Calder’s prime prospects for this year’s draft. You can see Jones’s talent when he gets the ball, showing slick and clean skills with ball in hand for a taller player. Jones showed he could also have an impact without the ball with a fantastic chase-down tackle in the last quarter and an occasional stint in the ruck where he would follow up well around the ground. Jones finished the game with 11 disposals, eight tackles and seven hit outs.

#23 Cody Brand

The Essendon NGA prospect in 2020 was recently selected to feature in the U17 Futures game before this year’s AFL Grand Final, and he showed why he was selected with a strong performance in defence playing on the dangerous Sam De Koning for most of the game. Brand was strong and assured in defence, marking and spoiling strongly and showing good composure with ball in hand. Brand even showed some foot candy in the last quarter to prove he is more than just a dour defender. Brand only finished with eight disposals and six rebound 50s but played his role perfectly to keep De Koning goalless.

Dandenong:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Hayden Young

The potential top five prospect was not as influential behind the ball as we’ve become accustomed to, but still provided those moments that prove why he is so highly rated. He used his body to perfection to win a well fought ground ball on the city wing before hitting a target with ease. Young finds targets in the corridor that others either wouldn’t see or dare to take on, and is rarely made to regret those risks. As Calder gained momentum as the game went on Young found it difficult to find the ball in positions to impact the contest, but still finished with a respectable 19 disposals.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill worked hard in the opening three quarters, but struggled to get his hands on the ball as Calder often got first possession through Mott or Ramsay. He often ran without reward offensively and defensively, highlighted by a 100 metre effort from inside 50 to the wing during the first term that was ultimately fruitless. He went to the opening centre bounce of the fourth term and immediately won a long clearance that he kicked inside 50, which sparked a busy period for him. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to change the momentum of the game and Cahill ended with 15 disposals.

#20 Sam De Koning

It was a tough day for the All Australian defender, who could not get into the game forward and fell victim to some average supply throughout. He fought when the ball was in his area, but it rarely fell his way. He made his way back to defence in the final term and looked more comfortable, but the damage was already done by then.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

Nyuon had some good moments in the ruck and forward for the Stingrays. He didn’t dominate, but you couldn’t question his effort on a difficult day. He had a real crack at the stoppages against a much bigger body in Josh Hotchkin, winning his fair share of hit outs. He was able to expose his opponent once the ball hit the ground, spreading to space to create an option forward or get in intercepting positions. He nearly kicked an outstanding goal on the run in the first term and clunked an impressive intercept mark on the lead in the third. ‘Biggy’ gave away a couple of unnecessary free kicks competing in the ruck, but got on the end of a 50-metre penalty to kick a goal in the second quarter.

#32 Blake Kuipers

The athletic tall started the game well in defence, getting his hands on the ball and was unlucky not to be paid an outstanding contested intercept mark in the first term. But like many of his teammates, as Calder took control he became less of a factor. He certainly didn’t disgrace himself, but the excellent Calder entrances were difficult to counter. Kuipers finished the day in the ruck and collected nine disposals by the final siren.

#50 Lachlan Williams

One of Dandenong’s better performers for the day, Williams started on the wing and was involved from the outset. After a long snapped behind in the first term, he showed his strength in a big tackle, keeping his balance and releasing in a difficult position. He took the game on when the opportunity presented, running to receive the ‘one-two’ from half back before superbly hitting a target at half forward. He proved his speed and carry again later in the game, intercepting a handball and exploding from the contest. I still feel Williams is underrated overhead too, taking a brilliant contested intercept mark in the second term. He moved to defence in the fourth quarter and was serviceable when his team was down and out, finishing the game with 25 disposals.

Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Gippsland:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

A well rested Serong returned to the NAB League for just his third game of the season in the Power colours, after approximately a month off footy to be cherry ripe for finals. He was influential from the start, just missing a set shot in the opening minutes before taking two big contested intercept marks to showcase his aerial strengths. He was super aggressive, asserting his physicality toward Anderson and Rowell whenever the opportunity presented. He went a little far when giving away a free kick off the ball, but immediately got one back after getting in the face of his opponent and drawing a reaction. He was excellent around the stoppages, clean in congestion and used the ball well in space, highlighted by a well placed kick inside to Flanders while on his hot streak. Serong finished with 29 disposals and will be even better next week after the run.

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders may have produced the best underage half of footy for the season to date, or at the very least the most dynamic 10 minutes of the year. From the eleventh to the twenty-second minute of the second quarter, Flanders completely took control of the game and at the time it did not look like anything was going to stop him. He kicked four goals during this period to give Gippsland a huge advantage going into half-time, highlighted by brilliant body work, positioning and quality kicking. He was excellent through the midfield too, constantly winning first possession and providing explosive clearances. He went into the main break with crazy numbers, 18 disposals and four goals. Unfortunately he was reported immediately after the break and wasn’t able to get near the heights of the first two quarters, which was not helped by the rain arriving when Gippsland were kicking home with the breeze. Still, it was a brilliant 27 possession performance despite Power not being able to take advantage of his earlier heroics.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi started the game at the opening centre bounce, but wasn’t his usual prolific self as he spent more time forward to finish with his lowest disposal tally (14) of the season. He still had an impact though, winning the heavy footy when required against the likes of Rowell and Anderson. Baldi’s stoppage nous is as good as any, protecting the ball with smart body positioning and getting in the drop areas first. He kicked a clutch goal in the final quarter just before the rain arrived which appeared to be an important moment at the time before Oakleigh’s bigger bodies took hold.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly is improving with every game he plays in 2019 and appears to be gaining confidence with every touch too. He is a genuine elite user of the pill and is becoming a vital cog at half back. The obvious highlight was his thumping goal from outside 50 in the second term that sparked the Gippsland goal flurry before half time. He had some excellent contested moments to balance out the carry and skills nicely, using smart body work to take a great intercept mark in the second term. He finished with 23 disposals and a match high 11 rebound 50s. Connolly is in form at the right time of the year and giving recruiters plenty to think about.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Starting on the wing, it wasn’t Sparkes’ busiest day with the ball, but he still managed to find it on 15 occasions. The play often bypassed his area, but he put his body on the line when required. He had an awkward aerial ball to contest on the wing in the second term and despite being completely out of position, he went back with the flight and impacted the drop. Expect him to bounce back with big numbers next week.

#16 Josh Smith

Smith struggled to have an impact forward, but made his physical presence known in the ruck against Nick Bryan in the absence of Charlie Comben. He was the relief for Zach Reid, but threw his body around and made it tough for Bryan to have an impact at the stoppages. Smith helped out his defenders when he could too, getting back to take a well-read intercept in the third term before competing again shortly after in the defensive 50 to spoil a dangerous entry. Smith will benefit with the return of Comben next week.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips was in and out of the game, but constantly created anxiety when the ball went in his area. A brilliantly read crumb in the second quarter saw him convert his first for the day during Power’s purple patch. His best goal would come in the third term when he competed for an aerial ball and kept his feet to gather the ground ball, before swinging onto that lovely left foot to kick an important goal. He has serious goal sense and naturally knows how to get in scoring positions. While he may take time, I am looking forward to seeing what he can produce at the elite level.

#37 Harrison Pepper

The Hawthorn NGA prospect had some excellent moments in defence and perhaps some others he would like to have back, but was solid overall. While there was the occasional fumble under pressure, he won some important ground balls and rebounded the ball out of dangerous positions on numerous occasions. His highlight came in the third term when he held Matt Rowell in a physical tackle to earn a holding the ball free kick, a feat only few can boast to have achieved. Pepper finished with 14 disposals and five rebounds from the defensive arc.

Oakleigh:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Nick Bryan

Bryan was expected to win the hit outs easily against bottom age key defender Zach Reid coming into the game and though he did so, the Gippsland midfielders did a good job of reading Bryan’s taps throughout the game. His tap work is great which makes it more dangerous when the opposition can also rove it. Bryan looked good around the ground with his use by hand just as good as most midfielders, finishing the game with 13 disposals and 30 hitouts.

#5 Trent Bianco

Bianco was all class down back, playing his usual role sweeping and causing damage by foot both on his left and right. Bianco was a consistent player down back providing good rebound and using the ball well as usual, the rain hit in the last quarter and Bianco got some time on the wing, making the most of his time up the ground. Kicked a classy goal on the run in the wet conditions showing his talent in any weather condition, finishing the game with 24 disposals and one goal.

#8 Noah Anderson

Anderson did not have his usual output, with the talented midfielder usually a dangerous threat going forward. The Gippsland side did a great job of nullifying Anderson’s influence to get forward and hit the scoreboard. Anderson was later moved forward to give Oakleigh the dynamic they needed in the third quarter but still could not quite hit the scoreboard. Anderson still looked good with ball in hand and looked composed and clean whenever he was around the ball, finishing the game with 29 disposals and four tackles.

#9 Will Phillips

Phillips was fantastic in Oakleigh’s strong start to the game, seeing the bottom age midfielder show some good clean hands in transition and getting involved in a number of plays going forward. Mostly playing on the wing he had no issues winning the ball with his smart running and willingness to also get in and win his own ball. Phillips kicked a nice goal in the third quarter showing some dash and getting back the handball to snap on the run. Phillips finished the game with 29 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal.

#11 Matt Rowell

The incredibly consistent Rowell was again a force that couldn’t be stopped through the midfield, and despite a slow start it was his desire and drive that really turned the game back in Oakleigh’s favour in the second half. Rowell was targeted by the opposition, copping some big tackles and blocks and made to earn a lot of his possessions through the midfield. When he did he would usually still get a handball out, proving he is as hard a worker on the outside as well as working into space to show off his great running power. Rowell finished the game with 29 disposals and eight tackles.

#25 Jamara Ugle-Hagan

Ugle-Hagan was the dominant key position player on the ground, proving a real handful with the clean ball movement of Oakleigh particularly early on. His lead up marking was superb with every one sticking and he kicked two nice goals and even passed another off unselfishly. He would show again he wasn’t just a lead up and mark player with a great chase down tackle in the last quarter, converting the set shot to reward his effort. The bottom age talent could have had an even bigger day if he had kicked straight, going on to collect 13 disposals, six marks and kicking 3.3 with a few kicks going out on the full as well.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Sharman had one of his quieter games for the year especially in front of goal but he still had some good moments. His best movement came with a quick thinking handball over the top of his head that lead to a goal in the first quarter. His most productive quarter was his final quarter in the wet weather, moved back in the last five minutes. He took some telling marks that showed he could have some versatility to play both forward and back. Sharman finished the game with 13 disposals and six marks.

Ranges down Dragons to move through to preliminary final

EASTERN Ranges are through to the preliminary finals after downing a highly rated Sandringham Dragons outfit at Mars Stadium this afternoon. The Ranges were ferocious from the opening bounce and looked like a side on a mission to show they were every bit the title contender. By the time the final siren sounded, the feeling around the stadium was that there was now four realistic premiership contenders, as an even team performance put them through. Jamieson Rossiter booted four goals, while the Ranges’ midfield was steady as always, but it was such an even contribution that they held firm and got the job done.

Eastern started strongly, but could not seem to miss the post with a remarkable four posters in the first quarter, two from Jordan Jaworski set shots, one from a Billy McCormack snap and one from a Lachlan Gawel set shot, all of which had they been goals could have seen the margin 25 points at quarter time. Instead, it was just six points with the breeze less dominant than the first game, but still just as influential compared to the other end. The only goals in the term came from Eastern’s Rossiter who converted a set shot from straight in front early, followed by a clunk from Miles Bergman in a pack with his shot sailing home. Louis Butler was busy in defence for the Dragons with nine touches and a couple of rebounds, while Ryan Byrnes (seven disposals) was busy in midfield. For the Ranges, McCormack had four inside 50s from eight disposals, while Zakery Pretty (eight disposals) and Mitch Mellis (seven) were just as busy.

With the wind by their side, it did not take long for the Dragons to hit back with the first major after a long shot from Darcy Chirgwin landed short, came off hands and was soccered through by Andrew Courtney to level the scores. But from that point on, the Ranges’ defence was a thing of beauty, not giving the Dragons an inch and rebounding everything that Sandringham threw at them. Lachlan Stapleton was the first to capitalise through a team goal that went from a series of a handballs and he finished off the great team work. Then came a bit of class from Tyler Sonsie with the Under 16s talent marking, playing on and negotiating the breeze perfectly with a violent turn that spun around the post for a major. The term was about to get better as a long shot on goal from Jaworski was marked close to the boundary by Rossiter, who turned and snapped his second and the lead was 18 points. A couple of late behinds – including a disappointing miss after the siren from Jake Bowey drew some choice words from Eastern players as the ladder leaders headed into half-time with a 16-point lead. Early in the term, Sandringham key forward/ruck Jack Bell was stretchered off in the with what looked to be a serious knee injury.

Sandringham looked a different team out in the second half, opening the half with great intent and back into their running game. The likes of Butler, Byrnes and Bergman were getting their hands on the ball and moving it quick, switching it through the middle and getting it inside 50 to set up scoring opportunities. On the other side, Eastern still pressured the ball carrier and had plenty of chances, but like the first term, missed a number of gettable opportunities inside 50. Byrnes set up a goal with a super pass inside 50 to Charlie Dean. While Dean’s shot missed, it gave Will Mackay a crumbing opportunity to snap around his body and boot his side’s third of the day. Another goal came shortly after, again thanks to running from a stoppage by Byrnes which lead to a Blake O’Leary free kick for front-on contact and goal. With the margin back within a kick, Eastern held on for dear life – such as a goal-saving spoil from captain James Ross on the line – and it paid dividends with their constant opportunities eventually getting them a goal on the board through Rossiter who again was clean at ground level, turned and snapped for his third major late in the quarter. The siren sounded with the Ranges 12 points up with the Dragons kicking towards a two-goal breeze but not much in it.

The fourth quarter was an entertaining arm wrestle with nothing in it, and it took a couple of class moments from players to keep the game alive on both sides. First it was Sonsie who received the last handball in a chain of a handballs and kicked it on the run which bounced through. Then it was the defensive work of Joel Nathan and Ross up the other end, such as Nathan’s one-on-one win against Dean under pressure to get it out. Unfortunately for the Ranges, Bergman was there to intercept on the 50m line and his kick sailed over the goal umpires head to put it back in single digits. For the next 10 minutes there was not much that separated the sides as Courtney missed a chance on goal and various Dragons attacks were stopped by the stringent Eastern back six. Instead, a costly 50m penalty with a couple of minutes left saw Rossiter with a free kick and then from the set shot put it through to send his side into the preliminary finals.

Pretty finished with a team-high 22 touches, while Mellis was everywhere with 21 disposals, four inside 50s and five tackles. Rossiter was the most crucial player with four majors in a low scoring contest from just 10 disposals and four marks, while Stapleton (19 disposals, eight tackles) and Connor Downie (18 disposals, two marks) were also impressive. For the Dragons, Byrnes was arguably best on ground with a Herculean four-quarter effort for his side with 27 disposals, four marks, 10 inside 50s and three tackles, setting up his team in any way he could. Butler also played on of his best games with 25 disposals and eight rebounds, while Bowey (14 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s) looked busy throughout.

EASTERN RANGES 1.6 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 7.10 (52)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.0 | 2.2 | 4.4 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:

Eastern: J. Rossiter 4, T. Sonsie 2, L. Stapleton.
Sandringham: M. Bergman 2, A. Courtney, W. Mackay, B. O’Leary.

ADC BEST:

Eastern: J. Rossiter, C. Downie, M. Mellis, Z. Pretty, B. McCormack, L. Stapleton
Sandringham: R. Byrnes, L. Butler, J. Bowey, M. Bergman, C. Watts, F. Maginness

NAB League Boys 2019 Finals Series preview: Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

EASTERN RANGES (1st, 12-3) vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS (4th, 9-6)
Saturday, August 31, 2.00pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Match Preview:

One of the most interesting clashes for the weekend pits top-of-the-table Eastern Ranges against fourth placed Sandringham Dragons for a spot in the preliminary final. On paper, one side has had a dominant season, winning 12 of a possible 15 games and beaten its opponent on both occasions they have met, while the opponents has won nine out of 15 and survived a knockout Wildcard Round match by providing a KO in the opening term to run away with the easiest of wins. It is therefore remarkable that the top side heads in as the underdog in this clash, but with Sandringham back at full strength – a luxury they were not afforded in the previous two encounters with the Ranges – it is hard not to see them coming away with the win. If form is an indicator, the Ranges got past Calder in the final round of the season with the Cannons narrowly scraping past bottom two side Tasmania. While Sandringham easily belted Geelong last week, they surrendered a 29-point lead against Oakleigh to lose the right to a week off after being overrun in the final term. Eastern has been the feel good story of 2019, rising from eleventh and escaping the wooden spoon by percentage, to be the dominant home and away side of the competition. But the theory that they are a champion team was proven right with no National Draft Combine invites – instead a host of names heading to the state and Rookie Me combines. Sandringham on the other hand had a remarkable 11 National Draft Combine invites, and while some of them – Jack Mahony and Josh Worrell – will not be out there, they still have enviable amounts of talent across the ground. Eastern’s midfield simply has to get on top of the Dragons because we saw last week what happens when the likes of Ryan Byrnes, Darcy Chirgwin and Finn Maginness get on top. Add in Miles Bergman who kicks goals for fun, and Hugo Ralphsmith, Charlie Dean and Fischer McAsey all of whom hit the scoreboard regularly and the team is stacked for talent. For Eastern, Mitch Mellis, Zakery Pretty and Lachlan Stapleton have all been in superb form this year, and adding in the key position defensive duo of James Ross and Joel Nathan, and the forward pairing of tall Jamieson Rossiter and small Jordan Jaworski, and the side has players who can get off the chain at both ends. Their defence is as reliable as they come, and while their forward line does not have a dominant goal kicker like some sides, they rely on a host of unpredictable goal scoring options which makes them hard to stop going forward. Everyone loves a good underdog story and it is hard to imagine the top side would be the underdog heading into the game, but their pressure game will aim to put the Dragons to the test early and try and put scores on the board before the Dragons can get a run-on.

Prediction: Sandringham Dragons by 20 points.

Key match-ups:

Zakery Pretty/Mitch Mellis/Lachlan Stapleton vs. Finn Maginness/Darcy Chirgwin/Ryan Byrnes

The coalface is where the game is to be won and both these sides have midfielders who can accumulate plenty of the football and clearances. The Dragons trio of Maginness, Chirgwin and Byrnes average 67 disposals between them per game, while the combination of Pretty, Mellis and Stapleton are not far behind with 65.

James Ross vs. Fischer McAsey

The key match-up outside the midfield battle is that inside the Dragons’ forward 50 with All-Australian centre half-back McAsey playing a key role up forward and marking everything that comes his way. Eastern captain Ross will be the main man to try and nullify his influence, while still creating rebound out of the back 50.

Head to Head:

2019:
Eastern Ranges – 2
Sandringham Dragons – 0

Overall:
Eastern Ranges – 24
Sandringham Dragons – 30

Teams:

EASTERN RANGES

B: 10. C. Black, 39. J. Nathan, 40. J. Hourihan
HB: 16. T. Garner, 21. J. Ross, 19. W. Parker
C: 20. C. Downie, 7. L. Stapleton, 30. T. Edwards
HF: 11. M. Mellis, 18. B. McCormack, 52. T. Sonsie
F: 9. J. Duffy, 13. J. Rossiter, 27. J. Jaworski
R: 49. R. Smith, 23. Z. Pretty, 45. M. Zalac
Int: 4. J. Clarke, 14. L. Gawel, 1. K. Hubber, 26. C. Norris, 41. K. Phelan, 59. B. Tennant, 53. J. Tilly
23P: 44. H. Keeling

In: K. Phelan, K. Hubber, B. Tennant, C. Norris, J. Tilly, H. Keeling
Out: B. Hickleton, J. Soligo, J. Gilbee

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 9. N. Burke, 33. C. Watts, 18. J. Lloyd
HB: 13. L. Butler, 29. F. McAsey, 74. H. Loughnan
C: 15. A. Hanrahan, 5. R. Byrnes, 36. O. Lewis
HF: 6. M. Bergman, 14. K. Yorke, 11. H. Ralphsmith
F: 3. G. Grey, 12. C. Dean, 39. B. O’Leary
R: 32. J. Bell, 2. D. Chirgwin, 4. F. Maginness
Int: 43. J. Bowey, 26. J. Castan, 30. A. Courtney, 51. D. Hipwell, 10. J. Le Grice , 37. W. Mackay, 17. T. Milne
23P: 49. L. Carrigan

In: L. Carrigan, T. Milne, J. Castan, D. Hipwell, G. Grey
Out: A. Perkins, J. Voss