Tag: sam conforti

Midfield maestros go to work as Knights down Pioneers

A MIDFIELD masterclass from Northern Knights duo Sam Philp and Adam Carafa has lead the Knights into the finals series after missing out last year, defeating the Bendigo Pioneers by 42 points at Preston City Oval today. The pair had a combined 52 touches in the win, as they took control of the inside midfield and let the forwards go to work with Northern booting nine of the last 10 goals to see off the Pioneers. Bendigo was in the game for the majority of the contest, and the seven-goal final deficit did not reflect the tightness of the game.

Bendigo had the favourable end in the opening term and made the most of it, capitalising with three goals to one. It was an arm-wrestle for the most part as both sides had chances to put scoreboard pressure on the opposition. Jack Boyd had a chance with a great contested mark but his shot missed, and then Sam Conforti made Northern pay with a great goal on the run to give the visitors the opening major. The sling-shot approach from defence to attack by the Pioneers in the conditions was working a treat, and Josh Treacy took advantage with a strong mark and converting the set shot for goal number two. James Lucente almost got the Knights on the board with a snap on goal but it bounced into the post. Liam McMahon managed to find the luck with a 50-metre penalty bringing him to the goalsquare to send through Northern’s first goal of the day. He had a chance for a second moments later with a great lead-out mark from the next clearance but the shot fell short and was kept in.

Bendigo rushed it down the other end but Jack Ginnivan also missed after winning a free kick for a high tackle. They peppered the goals with Jeremy Rodi having a chance after a great tackle and free kick, but missed, as did another shot which was just touched by Knights captain Jackson Davies on the line, albeit with an unwanted interaction with the goal post at the same time. Philp was doing his best in close, fending off a couple of players and getting it free forward, but the Bendigo defence, lead by William Wallace and Brady Rowles was sending it down the other end at rapid pace. Their quick ball movement soon paid off as Treacy received a 50-metre penalty and converted to put the Pioneers up by a couple of goals. At quarter time, Philp and Carafa shared in 15 disposals between them, while Ginnivan and Aaron Gundry had six apiece.

Northern took full advantage with the breeze in the second term, booting four goals to one, including the three last goals of the term, to take a narrow four-point lead into the break as the weather deteriorated and spectators began to check weather radars. Much like the first term, Boyd had an early chance, but unlike his first quarter effort, this time he made good on his set shot to cut the deficit to a goal, though the running Ginnivan made sure this was only temporary as he was involved in a number of handballs before putting one through along the ground. The Bendigo defensive pressure continued throughout the term to give the Pioneers chances, but it was the defensive aerial ability of the Pioneers back six that was causing grief for the Knights. Northern continually attacked but each forward 50 entry was picked off by the Pioneers defenders. McMahon broke back with his second goal with a terrific snap from the pocket, negotiating the breeze, then back-to-back set shots after perfect kicks inside 50 handed the Knights the lead. Lucente and McMahon both capitalised on goals and while Ben Worme had a chance to steal the lead back late, missed and the margin was four points at the main break. At half-time it was Philp who led all-comers with 13 touches, while Carafa (11), Gundry and Thomson Dow were not far behind with 11 each. But it was Rowles and Wallace’s impact off half-back and McMahon and Boyd’s work inside 50 that were standing out in the low-scoring contest.

Philp’s work through the midfield was absolutely superb, getting the ball forward early in the premiership quarter, hitting the scoreboard as Northern piled on five goals to three against the breeze. A snap from Lucente was touched as he kicked it for the first score of the game. Wallace and Rowles were combining once again, with Rowles racing it out of defensive 50, taking the game on and getting it long, only for a shot on goal from Ethan Roberts to be touched in the square. Wallace intercepted an end-to-end play from Northern off the behind and established an end-to-end play for the Pioneers as Dow ran onto the ball on the wing and through a series of handballs set up Jack Evans to put it through the middle and give his side the lead. Not to be denied, Philp got on the end of one running inside 50 to put it through and hand his side back the lead, only for Ginnivan to steal it back with a nicely timed goal to stand up as he did in the last term.

But the next 10 minutes of the term belonged to Northern as the Knights booted four goals and blew the margin out to 19 points thanks to majors from Jackson Bowne, Boyd, Koby Davies and Thomas McMahon, all of whom had booted their goals from just about identical spots 30m out from goal off a loose ball get. It rubbed salt into the wounds for the Pioneers, who had been peppering the goals but not quite putting through majors, kicking 2.4 up to that point. The pressure valve was soon given some relief with Gundry marking inside 50 and converting a goal for the visitors just to give them hope heading into the final term, trailing by 13 points. Philp and Carafa were bordering on unstoppable in the midfield, combining for 42 touches, seven more than anyone else on the ground.

The game felt like it was about to break open heading into the last if Northern continued its momentum from the third term, and when Koby Davies snapped truly in the opening few minutes, the home crowd got exactly what it wanted. It opened up the game for Josh D’Intinosante to hit the scoreboard with a set shot to push the margin beyond 20 points, and soon Liam Kolar joined the party with his first goal in Knights colours. The Knights’ lead was 32 points and although the Pioneers never gave in – continuing to get it down the ground with dare and determination, their finishing was letting them down as they kicked two more behinds from genuine chances, to sit at 7.13 to their opponents’ 13.7 with 10 minutes to go really showing the difference in goal efficiency. Ryan Sturgess enjoyed the flow-on effect of the Knights knowing they had the game in the bag, booting two late goals to add to his solid performance across the four quarters. The Knights had run out easy 42-point winners on the back of a five goals to zero final term, but it was not reflective of the Pioneers work for the majority of the game.

While Bendigo was brave for the majority of the match, the Knights’ finishing capabilities in front of goal, the defensive work of Jackson Davies (17 disposals, three marks and eight rebounds) among others in the back 50, and most importantly, the work of Carafa (29 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and five tackles) and Philp (23 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s, three tackles and a goal) in the midfield separated the sides. Lucente (18 disposals, 10 marks and one goal) was important, particularly in the first half, while Liam McMahon’s three first half goals set the Knights up. The likes of Dow (19 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s) and Riley Wilson (17 disposals, six marks) in the midfield did all they could, while Gundry (20 disposals, two marks, 16 hitouts and a goal) was a standout in the ruck and providing a target down forward. Rowles (16 disposals, three marks) and Wallace (11 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) in defence constantly stood up in the barrage of attacks, while Ginnivan (15 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s) was classy despite kicking 2.3 for the day.
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.3 | 5.5 | 10.6 | 15.7 (97)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 4.7 | 7.11 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:

Northern: L. McMahon 3, J. Boyd 2, K. Davies 2, R. Sturgess 2, J. Lucente, S. Philp, J. Bowne, T. McMahon, J. D’Intinosante, L. Kolar.
Bendigo: J. Treacy 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Conforti, J. Evans, A. Gundry.

ADC BEST:

Northern: S. Philp, A. Carafa, J. Davies, L. McMahon, J. Lucente, J. Boyd.
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan, A. Gundry, B. Rowles, T. Dow, W. Wallace, R. Wilson.

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

IT is a big round of NAB League boys action this weekend, with the Wildcard Round getting underway at Preston, Craigieburn and Box Hill across two big days. There is no turning back for the losers, so for five teams, it is curtains on season 2019, while five others live to fight another day.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday August 24, 11.45am
Preston City Oval

There was always going to be one of the highly-rated top four sides drop out of the automatic finals qualification places and in this case it was Sandringham who finished fifth and face a Wildcard Round elimination final. They meet 2019 Wooden Spooners, Geelong Falcons in the repeat of the 2017 TAC Cup Grand Final. Geelong has had its most disappointing year for some time on wins alone, but outside the win-loss ratio, the Falcons are a much better side than meets the eye. Their last quarter fadeouts have cost them on a number of occasions and the majority of their developing talent are bottom-agers. Not to dissimilar to Eastern Ranges this year, the core of the Geelong midfield will still have a year to go in the system and should be better heading into next year. Coupled with the bottom-agers is overager Charlie Sprague who has been on a goal-scoring spree over the past five rounds, piling on 18 goals in that time – including six last round against Dandenong Stingrays. He comes up against an in-form Corey Watts who, along with the likes of Jackson Voss and forward-turned-defender Charlie Dean will not make it easy for Sprague. Oliver Henry and Charlie Lazzaro provide strong support for Sprague inside 50, with Lazzaro rotating with Tanner Bruhn and Noah Gribble through the midfield. Sandringham’s midfield is star-studded and will take full advantage of their greater experience, with Darcy Chirgwin, Finn Maginness and Ryan Byrnes in the top three midfields of the competition. If the midfield gets on top, then the forwards of Fischer McAsey and Kyle Yorke could have a field day, especially with Miles Bergman, Hugo Ralphsmith and Jake Bowey named in the forward line and who are all capable of picking up midfield minutes. Jesse Clark looms as Geelong’s most important player to try and halt the Sandringham attack, while Cameron Fleeton returns to provide the Falcons with some more stability back there. It is hard to see Sandringham losing this clash, but Geelong played its best game of the season last week, so if they can build on that and start strongly, anything is possible.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday August 24, 2.15pm
Preston City Oval

In the second game of a double-header at Preston City Oval, the Knights host the Pioneers. The Knights are coming off an impressive win over Western Jets in the final round after starting slowly, while the Pioneers started strongly, and had their chances but just went down to Gippsland Power by 10 points on Sunday. The Knights midfield has the upperhand in this game with Northern trio Adam Carafa, Sam Philp and Josh Watson all in good form, while Josh D’Intinosante looms as a key for Northern up forward with 26 goals to his name this season – second over all on the goalkicking charts. James Schischka might be the man to try and stop him, while William Wallace and Riley Ironside have played good defensive roles in the back 50 of late. Brady Rowles was impressive last week and will provide good rebound, while Sam Conforti, Thomson Dow and Riley Wilson can win the pill and hit the scoreboard. Josh Treacy is strong enough to worry opposition key defenders, with Ryan Sturgess and Jackson Davies the two who will likely play a big role in the defence for the home side. Aaron Gundry has been in good form this season, as has Jack Ginnivan and Ben Worme with the former able to kick multiple goals in a game, while Worme can push up the ground and rotate through the middle. Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner are another couple of players that must be contained or Bendigo risk conceding a big score, but they will be relieved that Lachlan Potter will miss the season as his run and carry can break games open. Northern go in as favourites at home, but Bendigo beat the Knights at this venue earlier in the season so will be confident they can repeat the dose here.

CALDER CANNONS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday, August 25, 11am
RAMS Arena

In the standalone game at RAMS Arena, Calder host a somewhat depleted Tasmania side in what on paper should favour the fifth placed home side. With Mitch O’Neill already out and the likes of Sam Collins and Oliver Davis missing it means three of their top players will be unavailable for the knockout clash. Jared Dakin has returned to provide some vital leadership, while Matt McGuinness, Patrick Walker and Liam Viney provide good rebound off the back 50. With Harrison Jones, Jake Sutton and Jackson Cardillo inside the forward arc, the Cannons front six will be hard to contain, but the Devils’ forward line is capable of providing impressive contested marking with Jackson Callow and Jake Steele named in the key position spots. Steele can also play in defence if the Devils start to get overwhelmed on the scoreboard, while Sam Banks and Will Peppin are future prospects who have shown great signs. The Calder midfield of Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Ned Gentile should take control of the game given their experience, and if they get first use to their forwards nice and quickly, then the Cannons could put up a big score. Tasmania must remain composed and use the ball well to take advantage of their contested marking talls in the forward line if they are to cause an upset in this game.

WESTERN JETS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday August 25, 11.45am
Box Hill City Oval

Down the Eastern Freeway, Western Jets cross the West Gate to play the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Box Hill. Western’s defence has won it games in the past, with Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar, Cody Raak and Josh Kellett a formidable combination, while Emerson Jeka can play there as well. Jeka has been named in attack, no doubt to stretch the Rebels’ defence with the tall utility likely to cause headaches for undersized defenders. Also in attack is competition leading goalscorer Archi Manton, but the Jets have struggled to kick big scorers on a consistent basis, so quick ball movement forward is key, as the likes of Josh Honey and Eddie Ford can run and hit the scoreboard. The Rebels are more than comfortable in a shootout situation, but showed last week they can win in a slog as well, which will be great preparation for this match. Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin and Cooper Craig-Peters is an underrated midfield and capable of producing quick clearances, while Josh Rentsch is already showing signs as a top-end key forward despite being two years away from being drafted. Riley Polkinghonre and Jack Tillig have been consistent players up either end this season, while Toby Mahony adds a touch of class, and Ben Hobbs is a 2021 draft prospect with a high ceiling. The Jets have overage experience in Aaron Clarke and Daly Andrews on their side, while Will Kennedy has been phenomenal in the ruck. He meets Patrick Glanford who averages the second most hitouts behind Kennedy, while James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd have also remained in the team this season as overagers, playing roles up opposite ends of the ground.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 25, 2.15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what could be the match of the round, eighth placed Dandenong Stingrays take on ninth placed Murray Bushrangers in the second game at Box Hill. The Stingrays head into the game on an eight-game losing streak after sitting at a remarkable six wins and a draw from seven games. They have improved the past month, but were overwhelmed by the last placed Falcons in the wet at Bendigo last weekend. With elimination on the line for the reigning premiers, they must pick up if they are to overcome Murray in this match. The Bushrangers were starting to get back to their best before slipping and sliding – literally and figuratively – to a hungry GWV Rebels side in the previous round. The Stingrays still have plenty of match winners with Hayden Young, Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman in the side, and after spending time in the midfield, have been named back in their most dominant positions of half-back and the latter two, half-forward. Lachlan Williams has consistency to build, but as he showed from his three-goal last quarter in Round 17, can pop up and turn a game if it is tight. Murray is usually a strong defensive side, with Liam Fiore and Ethan Baxter able to nullify their direct opponents, as Charlie Byrne and Zavier Maher provide the run and carry out of defence. Sam Durham, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild and Dylan Clarke provide a hard edge to the midfield, while Lachlan Ash is all class and can play anywhere on the ground. Jimmy Boyer and Clayton Gay can play up both ends for their respective sides, while Ben Kelly will try and work over Bigoa Nyuon in the ruck, who will have the athletic advantage in the air. Will Lewis played his first game for the year last week and looked impressive, while Josh Rachele is a Under 16s forward who looms as a top pick in the 2021 draft already.

Player of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 17

IN the final edition of our Draft Central Player of the Week for NAB League Boys, Gippsland Power’s Riley Baldi has taken out the nomination after an impressive performance in the Power’s win over Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Power midfielder became the first Power player this season to be nominated, and the third player from a NAB League Boys Country side. He earned the nomination after winning the Facebook poll against Geelong Falcons’ Charlie Sprague.

In the narrow 10-point win, Baldi picked up 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and two rebounds, while laying seven tackles and booting two goals from three scoring shots – including a narrow miss. The 178cm midfielder/forward has played seven games for the Power this year, returning from injury in Round 5 and immediately having an impact, then missing games due to Vic Country commitments. He has picked up 20 or more disposals in six of his seven matches, averaging 24.3 disposals, 5.4 marks, 3.4 tackles, 4.3 inside 50s and 1.0 rebounds, as well as hitting the scoreboard with seven goals and five behinds. He also played all four games for Vic Country, averaging 19.0 disposals, 6.3 marks, 3.3 clearances, 6.0 tackles and 2.5 inside 50s. He looms as a crucial player for Gippsland in the upcoming NAB League Boys finals series.

DRAFT CENTRAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

ROUND 1: Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 2: Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 3: Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 4: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy)
ROUND 5: Zakery Pretty (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 6: Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 7: Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
ROUND 8: Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
ROUND 9: Lucas Rocci (Western Jets)
ROUND 10: Jordan Jaworski (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 11: Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 12: Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers)
ROUND 13: Matt McGuinness (Tasmania Devils)
ROUND 14: Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights)
ROUND 15: Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 16: Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 17: RILEY BALDI (GIPPSLAND POWER)

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 17

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

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

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

#18 Emerson Jeka

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

#20 Darcy Cassar

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

#24 Josh Honey

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

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

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

#7 Ryan Gardner

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

#8 Adam Carafa

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

#11 Ryan Sturgess

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

#14 Josh Watson

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

#23 Nikolas Cox

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

#27 Ewan Macpherson

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

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

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

#3 Jackson Cardillo

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

#8 Sam Ramsay

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

#21 Harrison Jones

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

#38 Brodie Newman

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

Eastern:

#7 Lachie Stapleton

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

#11 Mitch Mellis

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

#18 Billy McCormack

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

#20 Connor Downie

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

#23 Zak Pretty

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

#52 Tyler Sonsie

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

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

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

#4 Finn Maginness

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

#6 Miles Bergman

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

#13 Louis Butler

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

#15 Angus Hanrahan

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

#45 Archie Perkins

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

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

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

#8 Noah Anderson

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

#11 Matt Rowell

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

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

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

#29 Finlay Macrae

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

#73 Cooper Sharman

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

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams

#1 Sam Conforti

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

#4 Thomson Dow

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

#11 Aaron Gundry

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

#19 Ben Worme

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

#20 James Schischka

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

#22 Josh Treacy

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

#29 Jack Ginnivan

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

#38 Brady Rowles

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

#51 Seamus Mitchell

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

Gippsland:

#1 Ryan Angwin

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

#4 Sam Flanders

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

#6 Riley Baldi

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

#7 Sam Berry

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

#10 Leo Connolly

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

#17 Charlie Comben

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

#19 Fraser Phillips

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

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

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

#12 Noah Gribble

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

#15 Tanner Bruhn

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

#32 Noah Gadsby

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

#37 Oliver Henry

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

#40 Jesse Clark

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

#46 Henry Walsh

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

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

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

#11 Ned Cahill

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

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

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

#47 Will Bravo

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

#50 Lachlan Williams

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

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Toby Mahony

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

#6 Jack Tillig

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

#7 Mitch Martin

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

#13 Jay Rantall

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

#43 Charlie Molan

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

#44 Ben Hobbs

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

#45 Josh Rentsch

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

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

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

#14 Jye Chalcraft

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

#19 Jimmy Boyer

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

#25 Liam Fiore

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

#26 Sam Durham

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

#31 Josh Rachele

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

#54 Dominic Bedendo

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

Draft Central Player of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 16

OAKLEIGH Chargers’ midfielder Lochlan Jenkins is the Round 16 Draft Central Player of the Week for NAB League Boys, taking out the Facebook vote against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Jay Rantall. Jenkins picked up a round-high 35 disposals for the Chargers in their win over Western Jets, and becomes a remarkable fourth Charger to be nominated as Player of the Week for 2019. He joins the likes of Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell and Trent Bianco – all of whom were unavailable in the weekend’s match due to a mixture of school football and injury, which allowed Jenkins to step up and play a pivotal role in the midfield.

The 177cm bottom-ager amassed 35 disposals, two marks, five tackles, 10 inside 50s and booted a goal in his clear best performance for the year. His previous highest disposal and inside 50s tallies were 27 and six respectively. In season 2019, Jenkins is averaging 18.8 disposals, 2.1 marks, 2.1 tackles, 3.1 inside 50s and 1.0 rebounds, whilst booting 3.3. He has played every game this year as a bottom-ager and looms as an important player in the Chargers’ line-up for next season, as well as the looming finals series. Jenkins also becomes only the second bottom-ager to be nominated for Player of the Week after Sam Conforti in Round 7.

DRAFT CENTRAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

ROUND 1: Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 2: Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 3: Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 4: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy)
ROUND 5: Zakery Pretty (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 6: Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 7: Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
ROUND 8: Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
ROUND 9: Lucas Rocci (Western Jets)
ROUND 10: Jordan Jaworski (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 11: Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 12: Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers)
ROUND 13: Matt McGuinness (Tasmania Devils)
ROUND 14: Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights)
ROUND 15: Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 16: LOCHLAN JENKINS (OAKLEIGH CHARGERS)

Draft Central Player of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 15

IT was a case of second time’s a charm for Angus Hanrahan, who after missing out on the Draft Central Player of the Week in Round 14 – going down in a Facebook poll to Northern Knights’ Josh D’Intinosante – has come out on top a week later, winning the poll against Calder Cannons’ Sam Ramsay. Hanrahan was nominated for his dominant performance for the Sandringham Dragons against Tasmania Devils down in Launceston. Starting in defence and moving further up the ground as the game went on, Hanrahan as prolific with the ball in all thirds of the ground.

The over-age draft prospect racked up 33 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds and two tackles, while booting three second half goals to be a key factor in Sandringham’s huge win over the Devils. The game followed his ripping run of form over the past five games, averaging a massive 29.4 disposals, 8.4 marks, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 inside 50s, as well as booting a goal a game in that time – three of which of course came on the weekend. In his 10 games this season, Hanrahan has averaged 23.5 disposals, 6.9 marks, 4.1 inside 50s and 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 goals per game.

Hanrahan becomes the second Sandringham Dragons’ player to be nominated for Player of the Week after Darcy Chirgwin‘s win in Round 11. He also becomes the eleventh player from a metropolitan side in the 15 rounds thus far this season.

DRAFT CENTRAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

ROUND 1: Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 2: Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 3: Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 4: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy)
ROUND 5: Zakery Pretty Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 6: Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 7: Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
ROUND 8: Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
ROUND 9: Lucas Rocci (Western Jets)
ROUND 10: Jordan Jaworski (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 11: Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 12: Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers)
ROUND 13: Matt McGuinness (Tasmania Devils)
ROUND 14: Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights)
ROUND 15: ANGUS HANRAHAN (SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS)

Draft Central Player of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 14

NORTHERN Knights’ Josh D’Intinosante has been awarded the Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 14 after a sensational six-goal haul – five in the first half – against Murray Bushrangers for the Knights to overcome them at Shepparton on the weekend. D’Intinosante won the Facebook poll against Sandringham Dragons’ Angus Hanrahan, and becomes the first metropolitan-based player to win in three rounds after metropolitan sides represented nine of the first 11 nominations. The forward-midfielder also becomes the first Northern Knights player to be nominated, and helping the Knights become the fifth metropolitan club to be nominated.

On the weekend, D’Intinosante racked up 18 disposals, four marks, six tackles and three inside 50s, but most importantly, six goals from seven scoring shots. His first five kicks on the day were goals, helping the Knights race away to a fast start and secure a crucial victory over Murray who were closing in on their eighth spot. The versatile player missed out on final selection for Vic Metro, but has put together a really consistent season for the Knights, averaging 19.9 disposals, 4.9 marks, 6.3 tackles and 3.8 inside 50s. D’Intinosante has also booted a goal in all bar two of his 12 games, including 10 in the past two games to record 21.16 for the year and sit equal second on the competition goalkicking list.

DRAFT CENTRAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

ROUND 1: Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 2: Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 3: Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 4: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy)
ROUND 5: Zakery Pretty Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 6: Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
ROUND 7: Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
ROUND 8: Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
ROUND 9: Lucas Rocci (Western Jets)
ROUND 10: Jordan Jaworski (Eastern Ranges)
ROUND 11: Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
ROUND 12: Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers)
ROUND 13: Matt McGuinness (Tasmania Devils)
ROUND 14: JOSH D’INTINOSANTE (NORTHERN KNIGHTS)

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 13

IN Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition there were plenty of individual standouts as Vic Metro players made their way back into their respective squads. Our writers took a look at a number of Victorian and Allies-based squad members, as well as some impressive bottom-agers. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writers.

Western Jets vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham:

#4 Finn Maginness

Maginness was a class act through the midfield moving well through congestion and showing great composure with ball in hand. Maginness was a consistent player throughout the day and even managed to hit the scoreboard with a goal in the second quarter from a set shot and almost kicked a second in the last quarter from another set shot. Maginness hardly put a foot wrong all day finishing the game with 24 disposals and eight tackles.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The Sandringham captain lead from the front with a strong performance through the midfield winning plenty of clearances and showing his breakaway speed from stoppages. Byrnes had a stronger first half than second but was still a consistently good player in and around the contest going in hard to extract the ball time and time again. He managed to hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a nice goal on the run to complete his game finishing with 28 disposals and five tackles.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith showed his usual craftiness when forward kicking two goals. He put out another solid game but was unable to have an impact for a full four quarters. Ralphsmith impressed with his defensive side of the game with some good chases. His two goals both came from set shots with the best one coming after a nice intercept mark in the forward 50. Ralphsmith was a big part of the late attempted comeback providing a lot of run with a great dash on the wing and kick inside 50 that really caught the eye and he took a courageous intercept mark as well. He was quick to play on to give his side the best chance of making a comeback finishing the game with 16 disposals and six inside 50s.

#12 Charlie Dean

Dean was the focal point up forward but his impact up forward still has not reached the heights of his early season form and that trend continued against the Jets but his last quarter showed that it may soon click for him again. Dean kicked both of his goals in the last quarter one from a strong contested mark and the other a set shot after a 50m penalty. He had another shot at goal with a snap that bounced over the boundary. He was lined up on talented Jets player Emerson Jeka which was a great one on one battle in the last quarter. Dean finished the game with 10 disposals half resulting in scores finishing with 2.3.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler showcased his usual dash from defence but was moved onto a wing in the third quarter where he looked more dangerous and natural. Butler was his usual self rebounding from defence in the first half and was the leading disposal winner in the first quarter with nine. He only had the three in the third quarter playing on the wing but he looked dangerous just missing a snap on goal and also spinning out of trouble nicely in a contest showing his nous under pressure. He was moved back to defence in the last quarter and saved a certain goal with a good chase down tackle, Butler finished the game with 23 disposals and five rebounds.

Western

#3 Eddie Ford

Ford was again his usual self in the forward line showing his dynamic and smart play style. Ford was busiest in the first half with two consistent quarters getting involved and using the ball well, he showed his defensive work with a good punch to the boundary. Ford finished the game with 12 disposals.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Jeka was tried in a new role in defence for the Jets and despite a few errors it looks like a move worth persisting with both for Jeka and the Jets. Jeka looked composed early on using the ball well in defence. He took a nice contested mark and a good intercept mark although what would follow the intercept was a stray kick that went out on the full. He had a quiet third quarter but finished the game nicely with a strong contested mark against Charlie Dean, Jeka finished with 12 disposals and six marks.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey had a quiet start to the game but worked into the game and played an important part in the Jets getting the jump on Sandringham in the second and third quarters. Honey also looked dangerous again in the last quarter especially up forward showing his explosiveness and evasiveness to take the tacklers on and proved hard to stop when up and running. Honey finished the game with 18 disposals and five marks to be one of the Jets better and more dangerous players.

Gippsland Power vs. Northern Knights
By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland:

#7 Sam Berry

A typically tough, in and under day for the bottom age midfielder. Starting at the centre bounces, Berry got involved inside 50 during the first term with a nice goal assist to Tom Fitzpatrick by hand. He got busier through the midfield in the second quarter, somehow stealing a clearance seemingly straight out of the hands of an opponent before sending the ball forward. His possessions were heavy, which occasionally lead to him rushing the ball forward and producing some messy disposals. He fought hard though and was one of Gippsland better players, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly played a more outside orientated game this week, generally starting on the wing and getting involved in multiple link up plays to have some high metre gained moments. He still attacked the hard ball when it was his turn though, winning a clean clearance in the first term with fast hands. Connolly often found himself in a position to feed the ball inside 50 and he hit some brilliant targets. One play in particular stood out during the third term, producing a pin point pass on his left foot inside 50 before he continued on running to provide a target about 30 metres out. He got the ball back, but just tried to do too much by playing on and rushing the shot. He had a solid day, finishing with 18 disposals.

#19 Fraser Phillips

It was a bit of an “almost moments” day for Phillips, who returned to Power this week after missing selection for Vic Country’s final game at Marvel Stadium. There were times when he looked on the brink of putting his mark on the game, but the ball didn’t quite fall his way. He still had some nice moments, including an unselfish goal assist in the first term and some class hits inside 50. In one play he side stepped and turned to create enough room, before producing a lovely weighted ball to the advantage of Baldi inside 50 for a goal assist. Only the second time he has been held goalless at NAB League level this season, but he’ll bounce back.

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

In his first game back from Vic Metro duties, the electrifying wingman had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. He was especially prolific early, winning nine possessions in the first term where he had multiple fast moments with ball in hand. Potter just goes at 100% at every opportunity, which at times can produce a turnover, but he had far more good than bad moments on Saturday. A brilliant bouncing run through the middle of the ground in the third term got the ball inside 50 so quickly that the Gippsland defence was almost caught stagnant as he hit a teammate in space. He appeared from nowhere at the top of the goal square after accelerating while the ball was in the air to kick an easy goal. Apart from giving away an off the ball free kick at one stage, it was an exciting performance by the speedster to finish with 23 disposals.

#4 Jackson Davies

Davies was the most influential player on the ground for mine. The Knights skipper was completely in control behind the play, making composed decisions, using the ball brilliantly and intercepting seemingly everything. He read the play better than anyone else on the ground, highlighted by a superb flying one handed intercept “specky” in the defensive 50 earlier in the game. Even ground balls he mopped up with ease and his offensive running packed a punch. He also took the kick outs and looked to create a scoring chain on most occasions. First time I’ve seen him live and I must admit he exceeded my expectations with 23 eye catching touches.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante was another one of the Knight’s stars to have a large impact on this game, kicking four really smart goals in a near flawless display up forward. I loved his first goal, giving a look-away handball to Potter, before running hard inside 50 space to receive the ball for a set shot goal. He then exploded back into the game during the second quarter, kicking two goals in a minute from brilliantly read crumbs off the pack and finished both with excellent snaps. He kicked a fourth goal in the third while under a fair bit of heat, finding just enough space to connect a nicely executed drop punt through the sticks. He didn’t win mountains of the footy and was pretty well held after his fourth goal, but ensured every touch counted.

#8 Adam Carafa

Does not play too many bad games this fellow, and Saturday was no exception for the Vic Metro midfielder. He started the game hot, getting his hands on the footy first at the stoppages and winning 11 first term possessions. If the ball was in dispute, he just came out of the contest with it in his hands, highlighted by a pressure gather and release deep in defensive 50 early in the game. Carafa then found himself at the offensive end of the ground, striking a lovely goal from approximately the 50 metre line. He was consistently involved throughout the day, creating space or on the odd occasion he couldn’t, holding strong in a tackle and releasing calmly to a nearby teammate. It was a good outing, finishing with 28 no fuss touches.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Another Vic Metro representative to return to the Knights fold, but in a position that is a little less familiar to the behind the play roles we’ve seen in recent times. Sturgess basically played as a lead up full forward type and did so successfully too. While he didn’t win heaps of the footy, particularly in the first three quarters, he had a genuine presence when leading up to the ball. He took seven marks, the best coming deep inside 50 during the second term where he extended the arms to take a strong contested overhead effort. He got more involved in the final term, executing lovely passes to Cox and Brazier. More importantly, he consistently hit the scoreboard throughout the afternoon to kick a respectable three goals, two behinds.

#23 Nikolas Cox

This kid has some exciting attributes. It was no surprise to see the 197cm bottom ager play for Vic Metro at the Championships, the talent is there for all to see. He is almost freakishly clean for his size at ground and possesses a left foot that any 180cm footballer would be proud of. He fights at ground level, winning a holding the ball free kick in the second quarter before hitting Brazier lace out inside 50. Then there is the aerial stuff, where he took a fantastic flying mark on the wing in the fourth term. Then there was evidence of work rate, running hard inside 50 to get the ball back on the lead only moments later. From a tight angle he hit the post, but it was a fluent and really well struck kick that was unlucky to miss. He moves with a bit style and is a player that everyone should be keeping tabs on over the next 18 months.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#1 Will Christie

The big man impressed throughout the ruck, but it was his work around the ground that was arguably the best of the year for him. His second efforts, tackling and presenting as an option in all thirds of the ground was a highlight. He spent time in defence early taking a number of grabs floating across the pack, and then had a nice piece of play in the second term, scooping the ball up at ground level, turning and firing off a quick handball to the appropriate teammate free on the outside. He showed good intent throughout the four quarters, even if he did give away a couple of free kicks. He had superb run-down tackle on Lachlan Stapleton in the third term at half-back when he blindsided him, and got the ball moving for a scoring opportunity. Christie had a number of inside 50s in the final term but could not quite find a target, but overall had an impressive game.

#6 Will Chandler

Played at both ends during the game, taking a good mark in the first term flying in from the side, then converting the set shot from 40m out. He was sent back to defence where he did not win as much of the ball, but he produced a nice spoil in the third term to punch it out of bounds. His hard running in the final quarter saw him receive the handball and run inside 50 but his kick was spoiled on the line by defenders. Chandler finished the game with a terrific tackle at half-forward to lock the ball in deep in the final term.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Had another big game backing up last week and most of the season, winning a heap of it in the opening few minutes. He consistently used quick hands to try and clear it from congestion, with it working most of the time, but it did force some turnovers. He managed to get higher than his opponents and fire out handballs over the top of the stoppage to the area of where his teammates would run to try and open up play. Chalcraft had a couple of burst moments to break up the game, and won a couple of free kicks for going in hard, whilst also giving the odd one away. In the third term he found Hudson Kaak after dancing one way and then another to an opponent inside 50. In the final term he won an important contest at half-forward, wrestling the ball out, winning a free but his teammates chose to play on, kick quickly and Eastern won the football back.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Again played up forward in a different role to his running half-back/wing that he might be accustomed to, and it only took 25 seconds to look like a move of genius. Boyer read the ball off the marking contest from the first clearance, pounced and kicked a goal for the first of the game. In the second term he marked right on the line, nearly played on and slipped over but was given benefit of the doubt and he went back, snapped around his body and kicked truly. His third game early in the third term when he pounced on a ball which spilled out of a stoppage via a Jye Chalcraft handball and kicked a goal. In the final term he came close to being the difference by presenting, but a number of inside 50s went just out of his reach. He had a nice turning circle at one stage to kick to a dangerous area, and a late set shot just went across the face.

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Played a really underrated role in the midfield and was often the one picking up the loose ball and firing out a handball to his fellow midfielders. Stapleton worked really well in tandem with Mitch Mellis and Zak Pretty in midfield, and laid some fierce tackles as we have become accustomed to him doing. Showed great hands under pressure at half-forward to give off to a teammate in the third term enabling him to kick inside 50, and then timed a handball perfectly to Mellis in the last quarter to deliver an important ball inside 50. His tackling was the standout area for the game.

#11 Mitch Mellis

The most prominent Ranges player on the ground, Mellis had a typical ball-winning performance and kept running for four quarters. He started the game with a strong mark under duress at half-back and booted a superb running goal in the opening term when he ran hard, did not receive it at first and kept running, got the quick handball off Jamieson Rossiter and ran inside 50 not breaking stride for a goal. At one stage in the second term he got knocked over on the wing, bounced straight back up and got into a bit of argy bargy with Jye Chalcraft and won a free for the exchange. Mellis kicked his second goal late in the second quarter with a dribbler inside 50 that got a kind bounce and went through capping off a massive first half of about 15 touches and two goals. He kept buzzing around in the second half and produced a nice delivery to a teammate inside 50 at full speed in the final term and then broke the lines through a one-two handball and then kick following a mark from a kick out.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Worked hard up the ground in the win and kept presenting all day. He showed great hands and smarts to give a lightning quick handball to Mitch Mellis to set up his first goal, then won a huge contested ball, ripping it from an opponent and hand balling to a teammate, then winning it back and kicking to a dangerous position to set up another major. He marked well under pressure as well as pushing up to the wing on long leads. He positioned himself appropriately in marking contests, and was unlucky not to mark at the top of the square when it was not paid in the second term.

#23 Zak Pretty

Won most of his possessions at the coal face and was often diving into the pack to knock the ball clear or handball out to a teammate in space. He has very quick hands and is not afraid to tackle bigger bodied players, which he did on a number of occasions. Pretty applies pressure on the ball carrier which worked well in the third term to force a dropped mark at half-forward, and also took a nice intercept mark around the same area. Did not rack up the big numbers he has at times this season, but was prominent in other ways throughout the game.

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#3 Jackson Cardillo

The bottom-ager was persistent when running through midfield, while also proving lively when resting forward. Had an indifferent start with a turnover by hand, but warmed to the contest by standing up in tackles and busting his way through congestion. Cardillo’s ability to constantly find the ball at stoppages was promising, and he was hardly caught as he shovelled it out quickly (17 handballs/27 disposals) or broke the first tackle. His reading of the taps almost ended in a goal from a forward stoppage, but he unfortunately sprayed it out on the full. Cardillo eventually found that finish product with a goal in the second term, and a neat pass to find Jeremy O’Sullivan inside 50 later on.

#5 Curtis Brown

It was a typical game from Brown, who used his piercing left boot to penetrate off half back. He combined his easy-out via foot with some good moments in the air – drifting in inside defensive 50 and backing back to impact high balls. Brown took the risky option on many occasions in looking to switch the play and when it came off, it showed he can truly be a weapon in his position. His metres-gained kind of play often starts from the kick-ins too, with Brown pushing hard to find space and become the next option.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay is really growing into the midfield craft, attending the majority of centre bounces and collecting a game-high 32 disposals. Coming off an outside base, Ramsay is accustomed to staying on the move and he did so well to wheel around when he found the ball at stoppages. When he wasn’t slamming the ball forward by foot, Ramsay flicked out quick handballs to mixed effect, showing he still has areas to sharpen up. His best traits are easily seen in time and space, with pace to burn and the dare to move past opponents – as he did in the third and final terms. May move back onto the outside when Daniel Mott slots back in, but has shown his ability in both areas.

#26 Mason Fletcher

It seems as if Fletcher is starting to put the pieces together, and he looked ominous up forward in this game with four goals. Donning the long sleeves, Fletcher timed his leads really smartly from deep inside the 50 but didn’t always get reward for his efforts. He proved his ability to read the ball in flight down back, and did the same up forward here to mark over the back of an opponent who had committed in the third term. Fletcher also took a big pack mark in the following quarter and converted his third goal from the resultant kick, adding a fourth soon after. Hopefully he can get some consistency going.

#29 Campbell Edwardes

The bottom-ager is by no means a high accumulator, but just seemed to ooze class with every touch. He is that in-between kind of size and tends to play above his height across half back, but is so good at ground level as well. He started with a clean gather and kick on his left to clear the danger on defensive wing, and continued to sweep it up at speed throughout the game in impressive fashion. His ground work also translated into a pressure game, preventing two Ashton Williamson shots on goal with strength in the first and third terms. Edwardes also went on to show his prowess in the air, positioning well one-on-one and clunking a big mark in defensive 50 late on. One to watch.

#60 Samuel Paea

Paea was a surprise packet, quiet early but popping up in spurts. He had a good one on one win in the air against Clayton Gay, then backed it up with another in the second term, and continued to clunk them around the ground with clean hands. Is so strong in that area, but looked a little more iffy at ground level. Managed to hit the scoreboard with two goals in the final term with a neat snap and set shot conversion during Calder’s onslaught.

Dandenong:

#10 Clayton Gay

Not a massive game from Gay, who was employed at both ends of the ground. Starting down back, the bottom-ager looked to move the ball on quickly when in possession and even took on a couple of kick-ins. Gay almost made an immediate impact when thrust forward after half time, smashing a shot into the post from close range. He had another indifferent moment when shepherding a Lachlan Williams shot on the line, but bounced back with a mark up into the corridor and one down low inside 50. The resultant shot led to a Will Howe goal, and Gay constantly looked to move the ball on up forward.

#50 Lachlan Williams

The Country representative was one of Dandenong’s better players on the day, starting brightly down back with some dash. He did not have a heap of the ball early but showed glimpses with darting runs and clean delivery by foot. Once he was moved up the ground and into the midfield, Williams had a chance on goal that was touched in the goalsquare. While he couldn’t always get his usual running game going, the top-ager would be a scary proposition bursting from the centre bounce stoppages. Williams’ pressure without the ball was also handy, but he looked most effective when kicking inboard or through the corridor. Williams’ overhead marking was another solid part of his game, snapping up a couple of strong grabs in the third term to show off some versatility.

#51 Ashton Williamson

The bottom-age forward booted three of his side’s five majors, proving efficient inside 50. He made himself busy inside 50, zipping around and finding space to become an option. His first goal was also the Stingray’s opener, and he followed it up with a second in the next quarter as his set shot just scraped through. Williamson’s third goal was much of the same, and his simple game was highly effective.

Tasmania Devils vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Scott Dougan

Tasmania:

#3 Ollie Davis

Davis was always applying pressure around the contest, especially in tight where he would lay some strong tackles in the opening quarter. He was prolific on the inside when he was on his hands and knees doing his best to collect the contested ground ball. Davis was able to fill the hole a number of times down back where he took some intercept marks. His positive performance was nearly topped off with a running shot on goal from 50 metres that fell just short in the third quarter. Davis had 19 disposals, six inside 50s and five tackles.

#4 Will Peppin

Peppin was involved in the first scoring play of the day for the Devils, delivering a ball deep inside 50 that resulted in a mark and goal to teammate Jordan Lane. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when tucked the ball under his arm and sprinted away from his opponent, running at least a further 20-25 metres before finding a target in the middle of the ground by foot. Peppin nearly kicked a ripper of goal from the forward pocket after using his speed to break away from his opponent in the fourth quarter but his shot was pushed wide.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness had the ball on a string all day. He found plenty of space, was composed with ball in hand and made sure he took his time before making a decision by foot. He took some really nice intercept possessions that caught the eye. McGuinness has fantastic reach and was able to take plenty of marks at the highest point. He was able to provide his team with plenty of drive out of the back half and even showcased his defensive spoiling at times. A very good performance, which was capped off with 34 disposals and eight marks.

#13 Sam Collins

Collins would take plenty of intercept marks in the defence on the day, positioning himself perfectly in front of his opponents. He worked hard into space to make himself an option for his teammates when trying to provide some run out of the defensive 50. At times, he was the last man in defence and didn’t crack under pressure, applying some defensive spoils that resulted in only minor or no score for the Pioneers. A rock down back with eight rebound 50s.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow competed fiercely in the air in the first quarter but was unable to get his hands on the ball. He came to life late in the second term when he took a mark on the goal line and easily booted it through the big sticks for his first major. Callow got more involved as the game went on and in the third term, he took a couple of contested marks, along with some marks on the lead in the forward 50. He kicked his second goal in the final minute of the third term after clunking a tough grab on the lead. Callow ended up having a pretty imposing game after finding it difficult to get involved early on. He finished with two goals and 18 disposals.

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

Conforti was clean at ground level, gathering the loose ball and disposing of it by hand to a teammate on the outside. He laid a very impressive tackle in the third quarter and was given a free-kick. The passage of play didn’t result in a score for his team, but it was great to see his defensive efforts were rewarded. His fourth quarter was probably his best for the day, catching the eye when he drove the ball deep inside 50 to teammate Jack Ginnivan who goaled, putting the Pioneers up by five goals. He finished with 24 disposals and three tackles.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme found a bit of the ball across half-back and the wing. He was effective by hand and did the little things well, such as shepherding. He rarely fumbled and that was evident in the third term when he collected a front and centre crumb after the ball fell to ground from a marking contest down back. Occasionally, Worme was able to use his speed to weave through traffic before disposing of the ball successfully.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka was pretty dependable with ball in hand. He always found plenty of space, which gave him time to make the correct decisions. He spent the majority of the game playing across half-back, putting his raking right foot to good use. Schischka had a mammoth third term, gathering plenty of uncontested disposals around the ground and was one of the reasons for the Pioneers’ dominance. He accumulated 24 disposals (15 kicks) and six marks.

Geelong Falcons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Joe Lee

Oakleigh:

#23 Dylan Williams

The medium forward played a starring role, slotting five majors from nine disposals. His first goal came within the first minute of the game, snagging a classy goal on his trusty left boot from a tight angle. Was a consistent threat and is tough to match up on given his awkward size. Is very mobile and smart around goals, Williams positions himself very well. Slotted two goals in the first and two in the last and was a consistent presence up forward.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

The Oakleigh big man continued his recent form with a bag of four goals in another impressive athletic display. Finished with 10 touches to go with his haul of four, Ugle-Hagan was outstanding for the Chargers. Also had six marks and is piecing together a couple of fine weeks in attack for Oakleigh. Did miss a very gettable set shot early that would’ve given him five for the day but slotted a goal a minute later from the exact same spot to make up for it. Played a starring last quarter, bagging two goals and threatening to bring the margin out to triple figures.

#39 Reef McInnes

McInnes was dominant for the Chargers, highlighted by his two goals, 29 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s. The impressive display was a testimony to McInnes improved recent form and he was the best midfielder on the ground. With his draft stocks rising after outings such as the weekend, McInnes is one to keep an eye on for next year.

#73 Cooper Sharman

The tall forward slotted two goals from eight touches that included five marks. Took a nice contested grab early in the second, going back and converting the simple set shot with his sound shot for goal technique. Is a tantalising prospect given his size and athletic traits and did his draft chances so harm with his performance. Could win more of the ball around the ground but has only played two NAB League games this year. Nailed a crucial set shot from 45 metres out when Geelong was lifting, highlighting his class, poise and polish.

Geelong Falcons:

#36 Charlie Sprague

The Geelong over-ager played a lone hand up forward in trying conditions, slotting three goals from 12 possessions. Played as a key forward and used his strong frame to great effect. Was a reasonably quiet in the first half but came to life in the second, bagging most of his goals and providing a few headaches for Oakleigh defenders. Took a strong one on one contested mark in the second quarter and slotted the shot on goal.

#37 Oscar Henry

The athletic forward worked hard but was largely ineffectual in a tough day for Geelong forwards. Had to work up the ground for his kicks, finishing with a goal, nine touches and six marks. Did take some nice marks on the lead but was often on the wing or half-back line rather than his usual dangerous self inside 50. Had a really strong first quarter but drifted out of the game. Could’ve had two goals but was run down in the goal square after taking a courageous mark back with the flight.

#46 Henry Walsh

The Geelong ruckman was serviceable for his side, winning 26 hit outs and 11 disposals, showcasing his improved ability and impact around the ground. Walsh won a number of taps to advantage and was able to out-body and outmuscle Tom Graham due to his taller figure. Had a moment to forget in the second, handballing it to a teammate in trouble after a free kick which did show he has to work on his decision making and footy smarts.

NAB League Boys Round 13 wash-up: Cannons and Chargers go big

A TRULY mixed bag of results in Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition saw a couple of close contests and a couple of blowouts, with returning representative stars once again stamping their mark. While ladder-leaders Eastern still sit pretty at the top, Western put a dent in Sandringham’s top four hopes with an upset win – seeing the two trade places. Arguably the biggest surprise win belonged to Northern though, going clear in eighth with a win over second places Gippsland. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

 

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 4.4 | 12.5 | 12.7 (79)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.7 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Western: A. Clarke 3, L. Failli 3, A. Manton 2, H. White, W. Kennedy, L. Green, J. Horo.
Sandringham: C. Dean 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, B. O’Leary 2, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, K. Yorke, J. Worrell.

BEST:

Western: W. Kennedy, C. Raak, J. Honey, J. Horo, B. Ryan, A. Clarke
Sandringham: H. Ralphsmith, L. Carrigan, J. Voss, N. Burke, B. O’Leary, C. Dean

Returning stars and a final term flurry were not enough to see Sandringham over the line as the Western Jets held on to win by nine points and send the Dragons out of the top four. Before the visitors roared home, a stalemate ensued in the first term as either side mustered 3.2 apiece, with Sandringham going on to break the cycle and skip out to an eight-point half time lead. The Dragons’ purple patch did not last for long though, as the Jets flew out of the blocks after the main break to pile on a whopping eight goals as the wind picked up. Undeterred, Sandringham hit back in the last but to no avail – relinquishing their top four position to the Jets but maintaining a formidable percentage. The Dragons’ representative guns stood up despite the loss, with Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, five tackles, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, eight, one), and Louis Butler (23, five rebound 50s) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. The firepower of Charlie Dean, Hugo Ralphsmith and Blake O’Leary (all two goals) was not quite enough to outgun the eight goals between Western’s Aaron Clarke, Archi Manton, and bottom-ager Lucas Failli, as the Jets benefitted from some added efficiency in front of goal. Bailey Ryan (19 disposals, seven tackles) and Josh Honey (18, five marks) were the key ball-winners for Western, with ruckman Will Kennedy claiming best-afield honours against his former side for his 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hit-outs and one goal. Flying high, the Jets will get to enjoy a two-week break with back-to-back byes, while Sandringham will look to hit back against Dandenong in Round 14.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 7.2 | 8.6 | 8.8 (56)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.4 | 7.4 | 11.6 | 15.9 (99)

GOALS:

Gippsland: T. Fitzpatrick 2, J. van der Pligt 2, Z. Skinner, T. Baldi, M. McGarrity, J. Hume.
Northern: J. D’Intinosante 4, S. Brazier 3, R. Sturgess 3, L. Potter, B. Nikolovski, N. Long, A. Carafa, S. Philp.

BEST:

Gippsland: T. Hourigan, S. Berry, M. Hawkins, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, T. Rees
Northern: J. Davies, A. Carafa, L. Potter, R. Sturgess, J. D’Intinosante, C. Simonsen

The upset of the round came as Northern trumped the Gippsland Power by 43 points in enemy territory to go a game clear in eighth place. The Knights’ strength and flexibility across the ground proved the difference, with the likes of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess (three) and Sunny Brazier (three) all able to impact the game forward of centre with only around a dozen disposals each. After a very even first half that saw Northern lead by two points at the first two breaks, the Knights tightened the screws in defence to only concede the one goal after half time, while booting eight of their own to seal a big win. Adam Carafa and Sam Philp resumed their strong partnership in midfield to have 52 disposals between them, while Lachie Potter (23 disposals, one goal) was great on the outside and skipper Jackson Davies (23 disposals, eight rebounds) a rock down back. For Gippsland, Sam Berry continues to rack up possessions with another 21, followed closely by Tye Hourigan‘s 20. Jake van der Plight was also impactful with 19 disposals and two goals, with Tom Fitzpatrick Gippsland’s only other multiple goal kicker. Despite the loss, Gippsland remains second and will look to rebound against Tasmania on neutral territory next round. Meanwhile, the Knights will look to halt Murray’s top eight aspirations when they meet next time out.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.0 | 5.3 | 9.6 | 11.9 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 5.5 | 9.7 | 11.7 | 12.7 (79)

GOALS:

Murray: H. Kaak 3, J. Boyer 3, K. Chalcraft, E. Baxter, M. Holt, Z. Maher, W. Chandler.
Eastern: B. Hickleton 4, M. Mellis 2, C. Downie, H. Keeling, T. Edwards, C. Black, T. Hardstaff, M. Zalac.

BEST:

Murray: W. Christie, J. Chalcraft, Z. Barzen, S. Durham, Z. Maher, K. Chalcraft
Eastern: J. Nathan, B. Hickleton, B. McCormack, M. Mellis, C. Black, T. Garner

The Murray Bushrangers fell four points short of a remarkable second half comeback, going down to the ladder-leading Eastern Ranges in a tightly contested game. It was beginning to look elementary for Eastern early on as the Ranges put on 17 scoring shots to Murray’s eight to break to a 27-point half-time buffer. But the third term proved a breakthrough one for the Bushrangers, booting four goals to Eastern’s two to close within striking distance at just 13 points adrift. Another two goals to one was not enough to snatch the win though, with Eastern holding on for its ninth win from eleven games. While Joel Nathan was named best for the winners, Ben Hickleton (eight disposals, four goals) was efficient up the other end alongside Mitch Mellis (22 disposals, seven inside 50s, two goals) to make a profound impact. Zak Pretty matched Mellis’ disposal haul to lead the Ranges in that area, but was beaten out by Murray’s Jye Chalcraft – who led all-comers with 29. Ruckman Will Christie also stood tall with 19 disposals, eight marks, and 25 hit-outs, while Zane Barzen continues to mark everything (nine) and Zavier Maher (15 disposals, one goal) was also serviceable. The Bushrangers, who should cause some headaches for sides above them in the back end of the season, face Northern next for a chance to sneak into the eight, while Eastern hosts Oakleigh in a top four showdown.

 

CALDER CANNONS 4.2 | 9.3 | 10.4 | 17.5 (107)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.0 | 2.0 | 5.5 | 5.9 (39)

GOALS:

Calder: M. Fletcher 4, J. Sutton 2, H. Minton-Connell 2, J. O”Sullivan 2, N. Gentile 2, S. Paea 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, N. Stewart.
Dandenong: A. Williamson 3, W. Howe, J. Toner.

BEST:

Calder: J. Cardillo, S. Ramsay, M. Simpson, J. Sutton, C. Brown, N. Gentile
Dandenong: J. Toner, L. Williams, W. Bravo, P. Gerdan, R. Orchard, M. Gregory

Twelve goals at one end helped Calder to a comprehensive 68-point win over reigning premiers Dandenong at RAMS Arena, moving the Cannons above the Stingrays in the top eight. Seven final-quarter goals to nil really compounded the difference as the Cannons entered party mode late on, enjoying the wind advantage after Dandenong had managed three goals to one in the previous term. There simply was not enough firepower for the Stingrays, with bottom-ager Ashton Williamson claiming three of their five goals for the game and the effects of a stripped core showing as players were forced to perform out of position. Jack Toner stood up with 28 disposals and eight marks, while Lachlan Williams (23 disposals, five inside 50s) was good through defence and midfield, and Will Bravo (16 disposals, four marks) was also solid. For the winners, Mason Fletcher was outstanding up forward with his four majors and lead-up marking, while five other Cannons also managed to bag multiple goals. Sam Ramsay was prolific in the engine room with 32 disposals alongside Jackson Cardillo (27, nine tackles), while Curtis Brown (22 disposals, one goal) was effective off half-back and Ned Gentile (23, two) continues to be consistent. Calder will look to climb further up the table in its next fixture against Bendigo, while Dandenong will need to lift if it is to compete with Sandringham next round as both sides welcome back representative players.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.0 | 4.3 | 5.6 | 5.7 (37)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.4 | 3.7 | 6.10 | 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Callow 2, R. Mansell.
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 3, S. Mitchell 3, J. Dick-O’Flaherty 2, J. Rodi.

BEST:

Tasmania: M. McGuinness, J. Callow, O. Davis, O. Shaw, J. Barwick, S. Collins
Bendigo: A. Gundry, S. Mitchell, N. Walsh, J. Ginnivan, W. Wallace, R. Clarke

The Bendigo Pioneers got one back on the Tasmania Devils after a narrow Round 7 loss, this time running out 29-point winners on home turf. It was no easy task for the Pio’s, who overcame a slender half time deficit to run home strong. That came on the back of six goals to one after the main break, with Bendigo well and truly clicking into gear when it mattered most. Bottom-agers Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell each booted three goals to contribute two thirds of their side’s score, while Jake Dick-O’Flaherty claimed two to round out Bendigo’s multiple goal kickers. Sam Conforti found some good form to collect 24 disposals, while the Pioneer’s fourth goal kicker, Jeremy Rodi, had 23 touches and the James Schischka and Ben Worme again combined for over 45 disposals. Aaron Gundry was named best though for his 17 disposals and 24 hit-outs, while Matt McGuinness claimed the same honour for Tasmania – collecting a game-high 34 disposals, eight marks, and 11 rebounds. Bottom-agers Ollie Davis and Sam Collins were the next best with 19 touches each, while Jackson Callow dominated the air with 18 disposals, eight marks and two goals. With the two sides swapping ladder spots, Bendigo is set to face a firing Calder Cannons side, while Tasmania opens Round 14 against Gippsland.

 

GEELONG FALCONS 2.3 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.4 | 10.6 | 14.8 | 20.9 (129)

GOALS:

Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Lord, C. Karpala, O. Henry.
Oakleigh: D. Williams 5, J. Ugle-Hagan 4, T. Bianco 2, B. Laurie 2, R. McInnes 2, C. Sharman 2, T. Graham, J. Ayton-Delaney, T. Lovell.

BEST:

Geelong: C. Lazzaro, N. Gribble, C. Fleeton, C. Sprague, H. Whyte, O. Henry
Oakleigh: R. McInnes, D. Williams, J. Ugle-Hagan, T. Bianco, T. Graham, V. Zagari

All of Oakleigh’s top-end guns fired as the Chargers easily accounted for a depleted Geelong Falcons side by 87 points to see out the round. Returning co-captains Dylan Williams (five goals) and Trent Bianco (24 disposals, two goals) were fantastic, with a raft of bottom and top-age talents helping Oakleigh to their big win. Bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four goals) and Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) did their best to live up to the standard set by Williams and Bianco, with over-ager Thomas Graham (24 disposals, 23 hitouts, one goal) monstrous in the ruck and Kaden Schreiber handball-happy with 25 among his 29 disposals. For Geelong, Charlie Sprague‘s three goals were a shining light, while bottom-agers Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals, four rebound 50s), Noah Gribble (20 disposals, five marks), Cameron Fleeton (19 disposals, seven marks) and Henry Walsh (11 disposals, 26 hitouts) gave a glimpse of the future. Desperate for form, a meeting with GWV Rebels is next for Geelong, while Oakleigh will be red hot heading into its top four clash with table-toppers, Eastern.

NAB League Boys Round 13 preview: Representative guns return to action

WITH the national carnival come and gone, top-end NAB League regulars are starting to filter back into action, starting with Round 13. Sandringham’s inclusions will put the Dragons in good stead for a top four clash against Western, while Oakleigh and Northern also look well replenished coming into their respective fixtures.


WESTERN JETS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval

A well-stocked Sandringham Dragons line-up will be looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats when it faces fellow top-four side, the Western Jets to open Round 13. The Dragons are set to welcome back Vic Metro representatives Ryan Byrnes, Finn Maginness, Oscar Lewis, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Jack Bell, as well as over-ager Angus Hanrahan in one of the more star studded inclusion lines of any team this season. They join the likes of Hugo Ralphsmith, Charlie Dean, and Andrew Courtney from last week’s team, meaning over half of the Dragons’ Metro squad members will suit up for them as they gear towards full strength. Meanwhile, Western is also set to benefit from the conclusion of the national carnival, welcoming Emerson Jeka back into the side. He joins fellow inclusion and big man Aaron Clarke, meaning Will Kennedy is likely set to revert back to his usual ruck duties against his old side. While they gain good tall stocks, the Jets will be without Darcy Cassar for this clash, but should be able to cover their losses down back with Josh Kellett and Lucas Rocci in good form, while Eddie Ford and Josh Honey hold equal class up the other end. This will be a tough ask for Western given Sandringham’s regained midfield and defensive depth, on top of coming off a pretty dour defeat to Calder last time out. Expect the Dragons boys to come out hot after a down couple of weeks, as well as a heartbreaking loss for those who donned Metro colours against the Allies. Plenty to prove.


GIPPSLAND POWER vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday July 6, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Northern Knights will look to test an undermanned Gippsland Power unit, with a near-full strength squad named to travel up to Morwell. Metro back six regulars Ryan Sturgess and Lachie Potter bolster the Knights line-up – albeit starting on different lines – with Adam Carafa‘s inclusion set to see Josh D’Intinosante spend more time forward, while Nikolas Cox provides some versatility. Ben Major could spend some time down back with over-ager Sunny Brazier named at full forward, while 16-year-old Ned Long slots in as 23rd man. For Gippsland, Fraser Phillips is the only Country representative set to suit up this week, meaning the likes of Leo Connolly, Trent Baldi, and Jake van der Plight will have to continue to stand up alongside bottom-age gem Sam Berry as the Power’s major ball-finders. The home side will look to take full advantage of Northern’s extended break, with a trip to Morwell a tough ask coming off the bye, but a chance to refresh equally plays into Northern’s hands. The Power only just snuck home against a vastly inexperienced Geelong side last week, so will have to show some noted improvement across the four quarters to get the better of a relatively strong and more flexible Knights side. If conditions allow for it, this game could be an under-the-radar belter.


MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday July 6, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

Wins streaks are set to be broken as the Murray Bushrangers host ladder-leaders, Eastern Ranges on Saturday afternoon. The Bushies are slowly but surely making amends for a disappointing start to their season, winning their last three games to sit just outside of the top eight on percentage. On the other hand, Eastern have surpassed all pre-season expectations to sit first, boasting two wins over third-place Sandringham and their last loss coming against the second-ranked side, Gippsland in Round 6. The Ranges have the added advantage of fielding five Vic Metro representatives given they had the bye during Wednesday’s carnival action. Skipper James Ross, Lachlan Stapleton, Mitch Mellis, Jamieson Rossiter, and bottom-ager Connor Downie have all been named, making the Ranges look a pretty formidable opponent. Their pressure game across the ground will be key to victory here, with Murray coming off a 3.22 performance – albeit in wet and windy conditions. The Bushrangers will have to wait another week to regain their Country squad members, but the likes of Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Charlie Byrne have all shown solid form over the past few weeks. The dynamism of over-ager Zane Barzen will also be crucial as he again slots in at centre half-back, with Eastern’s tall strength up forward posing a big threat. They visitors look stronger across the board, but face Murray at a bad time as the Bushrangers are finally clicking into gear as the season hots up.


CALDER CANNONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday July 6, 2:15pm
RAMS Arena

Fresh off a win over top-four hopefuls, Western, the Calder Cannons will be looking to consign the Dandenong Stingrays to a fourth-straight defeat when they meet at RAMS Arena. The two sides had largely differing starts to the season, with Calder improving greatly through the middle-sector while the Stingrays are faltering after going undefeated until Round 10. The comparatively inexperienced Dandenong side features a couple of Vic Country Under 16 trial squad members with Patrick Gerdan and Miller Bergman again named, while Clayton Gay will again have to stand up in the absence of many key top and over-agers. Lachlan Williams is one Dandenong top-age gun to feature after his Country duties, named in the centre as opposed to his typical wing position given how depleted the squad is. For Calder, Sam Ramsay, Ned Gentile and Harrison Minton-Connell will look to lead the ball-winning brigade and take advantage of a weakened Dandenong engine room, with Mason Fletcher showing enough form up forward to be named there once again. Bottom-ager Campbell Edwardes slots into the back six next to Curtis Brown, with the magnets able to be shuffled around if need be. While the hosts are at a high point, they have met a lot of sides at ideal times – and this clash is no different. Dandenong have the talent to bounce back though, and should have a back end of the year we are more accustomed to.


TASMANIA DEVILS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Sunday July 7, 10:30am
Kingston Twin Ovals

Another tight tussle between the Tasmania and Bendigo is set to go down at Kingston’s Twin Ovals, with the Pioneers looking to make good on their after-the-siren loss to the Devils last time out. Both sides remain relatively steady coming off the national carnival, with only the usual suspects missing and making the ledger pretty even in that sense. Matt McGuinness is a key inclusion for Tasmania, named at centre-half back and set to join Allies representative Sam Collins as aerial dominators. Collins’ fellow Allies squad member Ollie Davis also remains in the heart of the side, with Jackson Callow making it a trio of dangerous bottom-agers for the Devils. For Bendigo, James Schischka and Ben Worme will look to mirror the efforts of McGuinness and Collins in their own defensive half, while Sam Conforti will look to show his own prowess as a bottom-ager. The Pioneers’ tall stocks take a hit with Josh Treacy out, meaning Braydon Vaz will have to play above his height and Aaron Gundry could spend some time forward. However the sides line-up, this looks a very even contest on paper and if the sides’ previous contest is anything to go by, this should be an very tight slog from start to finish, with Tasmania’s host status the only clear advantage to be had.


GEELONG FALCONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday July 7, 11:30am
Avalon Airport Oval

Geelong Falcons will be looking for leaders to rise when they play host to the Oakleigh Chargers, with the Falcons fresh off yet another heartbreaking defeat. It will be a tall order though, as some big ins all of a sudden have Oakleigh looking quite formidable after losing a raft of top-end talent to national carnival duties. Co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams slot in at either end, with bottom-ager Will Phillips joining over-agers Joe Ayton-Delaney and Cooper Sharman on the bench. Phillips’ fellow bottom-agers Sam Tucker, Lochlan Jenkins, and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan have been in fine form as Oakleigh’s makeshift spine, and should be a huge threat again in this game. The Falcons have some bottom-age talent of their own though, with Henry Walsh and Oliver Henry finding form alongside midfielders Gennaro Bove and Charlie Lazzaro. Charlie Sprague is the key inclusion, set to resume his forward partnership with Henry and add some much-needed experience and strength. The Chargers look to be taking no prisoners in their top-four tilt though, and have gone all-out in looking to break through this weekend. A win would not be enough to scrape Geelong off the bottom of the ladder, but would go a long way towards a confidence boost.