Tag: Sam Flanders

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 15 – Murray the lone home victor

MURRAY Bushrangers ended Round 15 of last year’s NAB League season as the only side to pick up a win on home turf, with four travelling teams making their away trips memorable ones across a shortened, five-game round. Five unique venues were also used over the eventful weekend, and Sandringham took a major leap towards the top three as Oakleigh and Eastern were among the three regions to enjoy a bye.

The Dragons’ move into third spot came on the back of a 65-point thumping of Tasmania on the Apple Isle, with the Devils unable to thwart their opponents’ scoring power. It didn’t take long for Sandringham to click into gear, setting up a handy 31-point margin at the main break, and doubling it over the course of the second half to win comfortably in a consistent effort.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan was once again the Dragons’ leading ball winner, booting three goals from 33 touches in a massive outing, while Saints draftee Ryan Byrnes notched 28 and Port Adelaide first rounder Miles Bergman (19 disposals, one goal) looked lively. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness led the way for Tasmania, picking up a team-high 26 disposals, with bottom-age guns Sam Collins (21 disposals) and Oliver Davis (19) also standing up in the losing effort.

Gippsland kept the ball rolling for away sides as it travelled to Dandenong’s Shepley Oval to take on the Stingrays. Akin to Sandringham, the Power got ahead early and never looked back, coasting home comfortably to a 34-point victory. After conceding a 33-point deficit to half time, the Stingrays had more than enough opportunities to get back into the contest, but could only manage 1.9 in the third term while keeping Gippsland goalless. It proved costly, as the Power got off the ropes to recover in the final quarter.

Future Fremantle young gun Hayden Young led all comers with 26 disposals and a goal, with Ned Cahill the next best on 22. Clayton Gay was a culprit of Stingrays’ the inaccuracy with four behinds, but got in the right areas, while Lachlan Williams and Will Bravo booted multiple goals for the Stingrays. Speaking of, Harvey Neocleous notched a game-high three majors for Gippsland, while skipper Brock Smith 22 disposals) and Sam Flanders (21) were among their side’s better ball winners. Ryan Sparkes led the way though with 23 touches.

In another Country-based fixture, Murray got the better of Western, credit to a resounding performance in the forward half. The Bushrangers booted 18.13 (121) to blow the Jets away by 72 points, booting at least four goals in each of the first three terms to set up the big victory. The Jets won some ground back in the final period of play after managing a goal per the previous quarters, and booted four majors to Murray’s two.

A 16-year-old star in Josh Rachele did plenty of damage with three goals from 21 disposals, alongside Jimmy Boyer‘s effort of 26 disposals and three goals. Remarkably, Western’s Josh Honey matched their feat in front of goal, contributing a third of Western’s total scoring shots. Cam Wild led all comers with 29 disposals, while Lachlan Ash (26 disposals, one goal) was in the thick of things, and Jets bottom-ager Cody Raak (24 disposals, 11 rebound 50s) was kept busy down back.

Bendigo’s road trip to Preston proved a fruitful one, as the Pioneers notched a brilliant upset win over Northern. After a tight first half which saw Bendigo claim the slight edge, a three-goal to one third quarter put the Pioneers 24 points ahead heading into the last turn. The Knights would do their best to sneak back into the game, but the away side had all the answers and ran away with the 37-point triumph.

One positive on the day for Northern was the emergence of Nikolas Cox in a true key position role, as he booted four goals to be the game’s most dangerous forward. Bendigo’s Jack Evans was the only other multiple goalkicker (two), as Knights pair Justin Davies and Sunny Brazier led the ball winning stakes with 24 touches each. Carlton draftee Sam Philp collected 22 disposals, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles looked threatening in his 11-disposal effort.

The final game of the round produced a thriller, as Calder snuck over the line against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Mars Stadium. The game was only ever edged in the Rebels’ favour by a margin of one to two goals, but they seemed the superior side on the day and could have been even further ahead if not for some inaccuracy. The Cannons took full toll, booting three goals to one in the final term to snatch a four-point win.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher came up clutch with three goals, matched by teammate Ned Gentile. Three Rebels booted multiples, while Collingwood draftee Jay Rantall dominated with a game-high 35 disposals. The cream had clearly risen to the top as Sam Ramsay followed with 33 touches, as the pair displayed all of the traits which saw them bolt into AFL Draft calculations.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 14 – Chargers, Power cut gap to Ranges

A SATURDAY double-header at Box Hill City Oval held massive finals ramifications in last year’s NAB League competition, kicking off Round 14 in style. Gippsland Power had Oakleigh to thank as the Chargers knocked off ladder leader, Eastern, seeing the two sides close within a game of top spot. Elsewhere, Sandringham kept pace with the leading pack after a thrilling win over Dandenong, while Northern and Calder got the better of their Country opponents, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) knocked off Geelong. Western Jets enjoyed the bye.

Gippsland and the Tasmania Devils were first to take the field for the weekend, doing battle on neutral territory on Saturday morning. Having fallen just behind at the first break and jolted two goals ahead heading into the last, the second-placed Power found a spark when it mattered to leave Tasmania in their wake. A six-goal final term saw the Victorians coast to a 51-point victory, not indicative of the overall contest, but a sign of their irresistible form in full flight.

Twin talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben contributed three goals each to the win, with skipper Brock Smith also booting a rare couple of majors from defence to go with 26 touches. Sam Flanders was the leading disposal getter on the day with 28, while fellow draftee Leo Connolly managed 23. Rhyan Mansell and Oliver Davis found the most ball for Tasmania en route to 18 disposals apiece, as the likes of Matt McGuinness (16 disposals, one goal) and Sam Collins (15, one) also fared well.

In the day’s later game, Oakleigh pegged back Eastern’s first quarter jump to get over the line by eight points in what would prove a Grand Final preview. The Chargers took toll in the two terms they held a wind advantage, booting 10 of their 12 goals in the second and fourth quarters to secure a massive result. While they regained the lead with under 20 minutes to play, the Ranges simply could not stop Oakleigh’s onslaught.

A forward from either side put four goals on the board, with Oakleigh 19-year-old Cooper Sharman, and Eastern’s Jordan Jaworski playing their parts. Port draftee Dylan Williams again proved a hero up forward with two important goals from eight touches in his final game for the year, with his co-captain Trent Bianco (34 disposals) the leading ball winner. Cricketing ace Wil Parker was Eastern’s best with 26 touches, while Oakleigh bottom-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Will Phillips also found plenty of the ball with 22 disposals each.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, and Sandringham was made to work for a seven-point win over Dandenong on home turf. After setting up an early lead and holding the ascendancy for the entire match, it seemed the Dragons would coast home to victory at 29 points to the good come the final break. But the Stingrays would not take the loss lying down, piling on five goals in the final 10 minutes to give the scoreless Sandringham an almighty scare.

Future Adelaide top 10 pick Fischer McAsey proved his swingman value in returning a three-goal effort, also dominating the airways with 10 marks. Ashton Williamson booted three majors for Dandenong, as Hayden Young managed two from his team-high 25 disposals. Angus Hanrahan led all comers with 35 disposals and a goal, while the likes of Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals) and Sam De Koning (16) stood strong against good opposition on either side.

Calder’s Bendigo road trip proved a fruitful one, as the Cannons raided the Pioneers’ territory to snatch all four premiership points. Bendigo held a slight advantage early, but could not quite do enough to match Calder’s constant scoreboard pressure. A four-goal to one second term in favour of Calder proved the defining period of play, with Bendigo matching their opponent otherwise in the 20-point defeat.

Diminutive Calder forward Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals, while teammate and leading ball winner Harrison Minton-Connell notched two from his 34 touches in a day out, and Essendon draftee Harrison Jones also found the goals twice. Bottom-ager Jack Ginnivan repeated the feat for Bendigo alongside Will Wallace, while Ben Worme and Noah Walsh also hit the scoreboard from their team-high 20 disposals each. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (28 disposals, one goal) continued his hot form, and Sydney recruit Brady Rowles was kept to 12 touches.

Another Metro team to make the most of its road trip was Northern, who travelled to Shepparton to take on Murray. All of the damage was done in a 10-goal to three opening half from the Knights, as the home side struggled to claw its way back into the contest. The final margin sat at 27 points having gotten out to 44 in the third term, as Northern picked up its seventh victory.

A massive outing from small forward Josh D’Intinosante saw him bag six majors from 18 disposals in a sharp display inside forward 50, with leading target Liam McMahon booting three of his own. Skipper Justin Davies saw the most ball for Northern with 26 disposals alongside Sunny Brazier, with Carlton draftee Sam Philp managing 25. Murray’s co-captains stood up too, with Dylan Clarke (28 disposals) leading all comers, while number four pick Lachlan Ash kicked two goals from his 24. 16-year-old Josh Rachele also showcased his talent with two majors.

The GWV Rebels ensured they would continue the trend of away sides picking up wins, as they comfortably accounted for Geelong to the tune of 35 points. Like many of the Round 14 winners, GWV got off to an ideal start at Kardinia Park on the back of four goals to nil in the opening term. An inaccurate Falcons outfit spurned chances to get back into the match with 2.7 in the third term, as GWV kicked away with another four majors in the last to cruise to victory.

Collingwood slider Jay Rantall was among a quartet of Rebels to claim multiple goals, booting two alongside Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin, while Nick Caris managed a game-high four. 19-year-old Charlie Sprague added another three majors to his season tally for Geelong, while bottom-ager Noah Gribble had 28 disposals to lead all comers, and skipper Jesse Clark managed 25 in the losing effort.

AFL Debut Watch – Round 3: Vic Country cohort in line for big-time berths

ROUND 3 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, and while no players made their AFL debuts for either Richmond or Hawthorn, there could be up to six fresh faces running out at the elite level for the first time this weekend. 2019 Murray Bushrangers captain Lachlan Ash is a confirmed starter for GWS’ clash with the Western Bulldogs tonight, while former Gippsland pair Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders join the likes of Shane McAdam, Will Hamill, and Miles Bergman on extended benches.

ADELAIDE:

Shane McAdam (Halls Creek/Sturt)

The Crows traded to get ahold of McAdam as a pre-draft access pick in 2018, such were the wraps on him as a mature-ager at state league level. Originally from Halls Creek in Western Australia, the exciting medium forward’s move south paid off as he booted 31 goals from 17 SANFL games with Sturt in 2017, before being picked up by the Crows.

After injury interrupted his first year in the tri-colours, McAdam may finally get to don the famous jersey as the club enters a rebuild and looks to test the depth of its list. Should he debut, expect to see some eye-catching high marking attempts, speed at ground level, and a fantastic goal sense.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“A highly skilled and athletic medium/small forward, McAdam has ability to create goals for himself and those around him with a host of scoring assists all year and 31 goals from 17 League games this year. He averaged almost a scoring shot per game as well as almost two goals per game, making him have a high impact inside 50.

“He has that terrific ability to know how to use the ball, and then find the goals with ease. He is silky and packed with class inside 50 and his X-factor is clear for all to see. These natural footballing abilities go hand in hand with his sensational athletic traits. He has always had these abilities, but in 2018, McAdam has begun to show them on a regular basis.”

Will hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Taken at pick 30 in the 2018 National Draft, the Crows obviously saw something great in the Dandenong youngster to jump the gun and snap up his services with their third overall pick. While he is able to adapt his skills and strong athletic base to multiple roles, Hamill will likely be utilised as a lockdown medium defender who uses speed to both apply pressure at ground level, and kick his side into gear going forward. He may finally crack the senior grade after playing 20 SANFL League games in 2019, missing just one outing for the year.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“Hamill got to represent Vic Country, playing in his favoured role down back and despite not getting a lot of the ball still had some eye-catching moments. He was a player known to most draft watchers and recruiters going into the start of the year but his form early, especially with ball in hand was not as good as expected. Nonetheless, Hamill worked through the early jitters to start playing some good footy, especially late in the year where he arguably played his best games.

“His finals performances were impressive being named second and fourth best in the preliminary and grand final with his grand final performance holding the most weight especially for the hard edge he had shown early in the game. Hamill had an up and down year, but his mix of attributes and finals form has him firmly in draft calculations.”

FREMANTLE:

Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Fremantle fans will undoubtedly warm to Serong very quickly; a player who bleeds for the jumper, is a terrific leader by example, and has all the skill to match his immeasurable qualities. While he may only stack up as a small, Serong has the tenacity to win his own ball and the work-rate to impact contest after contest, impressing with these traits throughout preseason. There are very few improvements to be made to his game, with Serong already showing remarkable consistency and the cleanliness to be able to keep up to speed at the elite level. As Vic Country’s MVP and best and fairest last year, the Gippsland graduate’s accolades speak for themselves and should he debut, he is sure to make a splash.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“Touted as one of the top prospected behind the obvious Oakleigh Chargers’ duo, Caleb Serong is one of the more well-rounded players in the AFL Draft crop, with very few glaring areas of improvement. The biggest upside for the 178cm midfielder/forward is the areas he could improve on are more easily doable compared to other players. Among his list of strengths in his game is his clean hands, footy IQ, clearance ability and strength, while his consistency and competitiveness is up there with Matt Rowell despite heading into the AFL Draft somewhat underrated – if that is possible from a potential top three pick.

“The areas that Serong can improve are his kicking under pressure – which has developed over the course of the season – his on-field emotion – which while good at times can also be a hindrance – and his size – which while his height will not change too much, he can still improve his muscle tone. Overall though, Serong is one of the more complete packages in the AFL Draft this year.”

GOLD COAST:

Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Serong’s partner-in-crime at the Power, Flanders blossomed into a bonafide midfield star come the end of his junior career, but may well revert back to his role as a medium forward upon entering Gold Coast’s lineup. The mercurial 182cm mover has plenty of upside, able to pull down big marks inside 50 on account of his vertical leap, while adapting that same clean hands trait to his midfield craft with strong stoppage work and outstanding power. The SUNS traded up to secure the Victorian with pick 11 in last year’s draft, and while it will be tough to crack Gold Coast’s winning side this week, Flanders will almost certainly get his chance in 2020 and create a few highlights.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

A player with plenty of upside and some readymade attributes is Sam Flanders, a Gippsland Power talent who can fulfil the role as a dangerous forward or a damaging inside midfielder. In his bottom-age year, Flanders spent the majority of his time as a goalkicking forward, booting 19.19 from 12 games, before moving into a midfield role this year, but resting forward in bursts, booting 13.5 from the same amount of games. His attributes lend themselves to moving into this role at AFL level, with the potential top 10 pick able to explode out of a stoppage, give off a clean handball, or get forward and beat his opponent one-on-one in the air or at ground level.

“He showed during the finals series – most notably against Oakleigh Chargers in the qualifying final – that he is capable to winning the game off his own boot, slamming home four goals in a quarter to help his side to the lead at the main break, but it also showed an area of improvement – his four-quarter consistency which does come in and out of games with him being dominant at his best, and ineffectual during quiet periods. Overall, Flanders is a player with serious X-factor and strength that he applies both inside and up forward.”

GWS GIANTS:

Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

The only candidate on this list to have already been guaranteed a debut thus far, Ash is yet another product of last year’s Vic Country unit who possessed great leadership capabilities and a raft of traits which can be immediately transferred to the AFL level. Though he has been named on the bench, expect Ash to showcase his trademark dash and daring disposal off half-back or the wing, gaining invaluable meterage and causing headaches for opposition defenders with that lightning-quick transition. Taken with pick four in the 2019 draft, he could be just the man the GIANTS need to unleash the likes of Zac Williams and Lachie Whitfield further afield as he develops in defence, but has the ability to fare just as well in midfield himself.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“The skilful rebounding defender was a consistent performer across the NAB League season for Murray, averaging more than 23 disposals per game. After being elected co-captain of the Bushrangers with teammate Cam Wilson, Ash would go on to co-captain the Vic Country squad throughout the AFL Under-18 National Championships, indicating that he is looked up to by his fellow teammates and admired by his coaching staff.

“Ash is the ideal footballer for an AFL team searching for a line-breaking defender who can consistently hit targets by foot with terrific vision and decision making. His test results at the NAB AFL Combine were also eye-catching, registering a 21.4 yo-yo test (finishing sixth overall) and a sub-three second 20-metre sprint. Similar to fellow half-back Hayden Young, an area of improvement for Ash is further midfield development, particularly with a focus on the contested ball aspect of the game.”

PORT ADELAIDE:

Miles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Yet another Victorian in line for an elite-level berth, but this time from a Metro region. Bergman is the classic pick made on upside; a mercurial athlete and footballing talent who stands up in big moments, can simply pull off things that others cannot, and someone who has a high impact per possession.

The explosive medium forward has an incredible vertical leap and covers the ground quickly, with scope to eventually transition from more outside roles and into the midfield. The Power already boast an array of exciting youngsters who have made an early impact on the side, and Bergman may just be the next. His penetrating kick and light frame may see him utilised on a wing, but he can be just as damaging at half-forward.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“Bolters are part and parcel of each year’s draft and Bergman finds himself fitting that bill in 2019. A confidence player, Bergman has grown into his top-age season to become a lock as one of Sandringham’s first three players to be taken off the board come draft time on the back of a serious highlight reel.

“Athleticism, power, high marking and goals from range are the things that have seen Bergman draw into the first round conversation, with his ability to take games over slowly becoming apparent. The wingman/half-forward also proved a match-winner this year, relieving late pressure in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final with a sensational pack mark to help St Bede’s scrape home on his way to best afield honours. Bergman’s enormous upside is undeniable, with all of his best traits desirable to clubs across the board.”

Classic Contests: Huge final term powers Gippsland to big win over Tasmania

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to relive a contest which was closely contested for three terms, before the Power kicked away late to secure a big win.

2019 NAB League, Round 14
Saturday July 20, 11:45am
Box Hill City Oval

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.1 | 7.3 | 8.7 | 14.10 (94)
TASMANIA DEVILS 2.4 | 5.5 | 6.7 | 6.7 (43)

Goals:

Gippsland: J. Smith 3, C. Comben 3, B. Smith 2, H. Pepper, F. Phillips, R. Baldi, M. McGarrity, S. Flanders, T. Baldi
Tasmania: W. Peppin, J. Menzie, J. Chaplin, M. McGuinness, O. Burrows-Cheng, S. Collins

Best:

Gippsland: H. Pepper, C. Comben, M. Hawkins, J. Smith, T. Baldi, B. Smith
Tasmania: J. Chaplin, J. Steele, L. Deegan, R. Mansell, L. Gadomski, M. McGuinness

Draftees in action:

Gippsland: Sam Flanders, Leo Connolly, Brock Smith, Charlie Comben, Fraser Phillips, Harrison Pepper
Tasmania: Matthew McGuinness

Two sides with perfectly opposite records would do battle in Round 14 of the 2019 NAB League, as the 8-4 Gippsland Power (2nd) met the 4-8 Tasmania Devils (13th) on the neutral territory of Box Hill City Oval. If the win-loss ratios did not already highlight the split between the two sides, the splashing of eventual AFL draftees across Gippsland’s lineup on the day would serve to. Six of the Power’s seven elite-level graduates took the field, while one of Tasmania’s two rookie selections assumed his customary role in the side.

But more recent form suggested this clash would produce a decent showing, with either region wavering in the weeks leading up to their sole clash for the year. Gippsland managed to add just two wins over the previous five weeks, suffering three of their four losses to that point in the process, while Tasmania were in the midst of a massive losing streak having suffered four in a row.

Hungry to make amends for their form across three consecutive home berths, the Devils came out strongly to more than match their fancied opponents at the first break, holding a slender three-point lead. The tide would turn in the second term as Gippsland warmed to the contest, booting five goals to Tasmania’s three to steer 10 points clear at half time – the biggest lead of the game to that point.

The contest would tighten slightly after the main break with just one goal apiece added to either side’s tally across the next 25 minutes, but that trend would be almost immediately banished come the final term. Charlie Comben‘s goal after just 27 seconds sparked a six-goal quarter for the Power, all while keeping Tasmania scoreless in a game-defining period. Gippsland added goals almost methodically, scoring six-pointers in five-minute intervals to pretty up a 51-point winning margin.

Twin talls Comben and Josh Smith did most of the damage with three goals each, accompanied by a rare two majors from Brock Smith as the only other multiple goalkicker. The skipper’s 26 disposals were second only to Sam Flanders‘ 28 on the day, with another draftee in Leo Connolly next best with 23. North Melbourne NGA rookie Matt McGuinness booted a goal from 16 touches, but saw over-ager Rhyan Mansell and bottom-age gun Oliver Davis top the ball winning charts with 18 disposals apiece.

Fremantle top 10 pick Caleb Serong was the only piece missing for Gippsland, while Tasmania suffered from the key absence of West Coast rookie, Mitch O’Neill. The Power would go on to finish second, but could only make it as far as the final four having lost to Eastern in the preliminary finals. After a promising start to life as a full-time team, Tasmania went down by a goal to Calder in Wildcard Round having finished 14th at 4-11.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 8 – Three games decided by under a goal

ROUND 8 of the 2019 NAB League delivered a truly mixed bag of results, with three games decided by less that a goal, two by over 50 points, and one fixture proving an inbetweener. Dandenong survived a scare to remain undefeated, while Gippsland fared well enough to bridge the gap to first to just two points. Two of the next three best Victorian sides – Sandringham and Western – also secured wins to remain in the top three hunt.

Northern and Oakleigh were up first though on neutral territory, battling it out at Shepley Oval in Dandenong. In a low-scoring affair, the undermanned Chargers broke back ahead at the ideal time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A shrewd change of position for Oakleigh co-captain Dylan Williams changed the game, with his two final term goals sealing a six-point victory.

His fellow skipper, Trent Bianco had an indifferent outing with 17 disposals (but 10 tackles and four rebounds), while a couple of bottom-age Chargers thrived. Fraser Elliot gathered a game-high 28 touches as well as six clearances, while Lochlan Jenkins managed 22 and eight as the pair combined through midfield.

For Northern, Sam Philp also managed 28 disposals, five marks, four tackles, four inside 50s, nine clearances and a goal, while Ryan Sturgess (19 disposals, three marks and 10 rebounds) in a strong defensive effort. Jackson Davies and Lachlan Potter both had 17 disposals and five rebounds in the defeat.

All the way up in Echuca, an inaccurate Sandringham Dragons outfit scraped home against an unlucky and dead-eye Bendigo Pioneers team. Despite having 14 more scoring shots, the Dragons struggled to find the big sticks, booting 10.18 (78) on the border up against the Pioneers’ 12.2 (74).

Future Saint and Dragons captain, Ryan Byrnes had a day out with 31 disposals (15 contested), three marks, seven tackles, eight clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Angus Hanrahan found plenty of the ball in the win with 26 disposals, six marks, four clearances and three inside 50s. Miles Bergman was also strong wiht 19 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal.

For the Pioneers, Riley Wilson had 23 disposals, six marks, six tackles, five clearances and six rebounds, while Aaron Gundry worked hard for 22 hitouts from 13 disposals, and Jack Hickman worked hard through the middle thanks to 18 touches and four clearances.

Crossing the Bass Strait to the Apple Isle, Tasmania Devils fell short against a red-hot Dandenong Stingrays outfit. The Stingrays were up at each break, but never into double-figures, eventually winning 9.6 (60) to 8.8 (56).

The onball brigade of Bailey Schmidt (14 disposals, 42 hitouts and five clearances), Reece Orchard (24 disposals, seven clearances and eight inside 50s) and Mitch Riordan (23 disposals, five clearances and five inside 50s) ran rampant for the Stingrays. Also impressive were bottom-age talents, Clayton Gay (15 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and three goals) and Henry Berenger (16 disposals, seven marks and six rebounds).

Devils’ bottom-ager Oliver Davis was best-on for the home side, amassing 33 disposals (18 contested), seven marks, three tackles, five clearances and inside 50s in the tight loss. Ethan Jackson (24 disposals, eight tackles, seven clearances and five inside 50s) was impressive as were Sam Collins (23 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and four rebounds) and Matt McGuinness (21 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds and a goal).

Western Jets held Geelong Falcons to just two goals in a 28-point win on the road, one of which came in the last term. The Jets comfortably looked good after a slow first term, piling on four goals in the second to blow out the lead and keep their opponent to just a single-digit score. In the end, they held off any sort of a comeback in the last despite a 1.5 last quarter from the Falcons to win 7.8 (50) to 2.10 (22)

Darcy Cassar suffered leather poisoning with 41 touches, 12 marks and eight rebounds out of defence to be best on ground. Meanwhile overager, Daly Andrews (31 touches, 10 marks, six clearances, three inside 50s and five rebounds) and Morrish Medallist, Lucas Rocci (28 disposals, 11 marks and seven rebounds) both dominated.

For the Falcons, Harry Stubbings led all-comers from his side with 27 disposals (15 contested), six marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds. Charlie Harris (23 disposals, eight marks and four rebounds) and Keidan Rayner (22 disposals, six marks, six tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s) were others who stood out in a disappointing day for the wooden spooners.

Meanwhile Gippsland Power had no problems scoring during a 53-point win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The Power dominated from the get-go with five goals to one in the opening term, and never looked back from there to run out 15.8 (98) to 6.9 (45) winners.

Brock Smith was a general in defence with 23 disposals, five marks and 11 rebounds, while Josh Smith dominated across the ground in his best game thanks to 22 disposals (16 contested), four marks, four tackles, 16 hitouts, 11 clearances and three goals. Sam Flanders and Fraser Phillips also booted a couple of goals each, combining for 47 touches, six marks and 10 inside 50s, while Riley Baldi had 29 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal in the win.

Jay Rantall was the biggest ball winner for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 30 touches (15 contested), as well as three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Liam Herbert (21 disposals, seven marks and a goal) and Toby Mahony (16 disposals, five clearances and three inside 50s) were also productive.

Calder Cannons had no trouble producing a huge win up in Wangaratta for the final game of the round, defeating Murray Bushrangers by 50 points at Norm Minns Oval. The Cannons were only 18 points up at the half, but really went to town in the second half to run away with the contest, 18.9 (117) to 10.7 (67).

Daniel Mott had a game-high 29 disposals, four marks, six clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, while Ned Gentile (24 touches, four marks, eight clearances, five inside 50s and two goals) was also very impressive. Captain, Brodie Newman picked up the 24 touches and seven rebounds, while in a rare showing, up the other end, Francis Evans booted three goals from 10 touches and six marks.

Cameron Wild was the clear standout for the Bushrangers with 27 disposals, seven marks, six clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while Cameron Wilson booted a three goals from 16 touches and nine marks. Dylan Clarke (14 disposals, four marks, eight tackles and five clearances) worked hard in the midfield alongside Wild.

Eastern Ranges was the team that had the bye.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 7 – Ranges, Devils clinch thrillers

WITH the school football season in full swing and each Northern Academy back on their way past the Victorian border, normality resumed come Round 7 of the 2019 NAB League competition. Dandenong again remained the sole undefeated side after a top-against-bottom clash, while Eastern showed it was there to stay among the top four with a tense win over Sandringham.

But Avalon Airport Oval would play host to the weekend’s opening fixture, with country sides Geelong and Murray travelling to meet in Werribee. The Falcons looked like causing an upset against the inconsistent Bushrangers after a tight first half, but their inaccurate kicking for goal allowed Murray to hang in there and run over the top for a 21-point victory.

Prize GWS draftee and Murray co-captain Lachlan Ash took the field, notching 19 disposals and a goal, while over-agers Ben Kelly (16 disposals, 28 hitouts) and Zane Barzen (16 disposals, two goals) also impressed, and Cam Wild led all comers with 27 touches. Chas Karpala put in a solid shift for two goals from 20 disposals, only beaten by Charlie Harris‘ 21 touches. Husdon Kaak led the goalkicking stakes with five majors, while Geelong bottom-ager Ollie Henry booted three.

Western hosted Dandenong in Saturday’s only other fixture, but could not weather the home conditions in Williamstown as the Stingrays ran out 63-point winners. The visitors were in control all game having fielded a near full strength line-up, leading at every break and capping the result with seven final term goals.

Essendon draftee Ned Cahill was a constant threat up forward with four goals from 19 disposals, while a bottom-aged Eddie Ford was Western’s sole multiple goalkicker (two). The ball winners were out in numbers, as Darcy Cassar led the way with 29 touches, followed by 26 from Hayden Young and 25 from mid-season recruit, Mitch Riordan for the winners. Another 19-year-old, Daly Andrews (17 disposals, one goal) also pitched in among the losing effort for Western.

A much closer contest followed to open Sunday’s proceedings as Tasmania scraped ahead at the ideal time to edge Bendigo in a thriller. The Devils made a great start but were soon pegged back, still managing to lead at every break. That streak looked like being broken by the final siren, Jye Menzie saved the day with a goal after the siren to see his side hold on.

Menzie’s fourth goal came at the ideal time, and ensured he would double the goal tally of any other player afield. Four Pioneers managed multiple goals, with bottom-agers Sam Conforti (30 disposals, two goals) and Jack Ginnivan (27, two) the most prominent. In an even team performance for the Devils, Ben Simpson won the most ball (22 disposals), while third-gamer Isaac Chugg (15 disposals, 1.3) was dangerous and Sam Collins solid across half-back with 19 touches.

Onto the round’s fourth venue, and Gippsland found little difficulty in accounting for Calder on home turf, thumping the Cannons by 51 points as the visitors could only manage four goals for the game. The Power’s scoring flow got going after the main break, as they piled on nine goals to Calder’s three to coast to victory.

A number of eventual Gippsland draftees showed all their quality, with Brock Smith (28 disposals, one goal) leading all comers, while Sam Flanders (24 disposals, one goal), Charlie Comben (22 disposals, 22 hitouts), and Fraser Phillips (four goals) also caught the eye. Jacob Martin again racked up the pill for Calder with a game-high 33 touches, combining well with Daniel Mott (25 disposals) through midfield as Brodie Newman (22 disposals) also fared well.

The Northern Knights and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels also started their clash at 1pm, with the travelling Knights raiding Mars Stadium successfully. The hosts started the better side with narrow leads at the first two breaks, but were overrun by Northern’s nine-goal second half as they went down by 32 points.

Northern’s strong bodies through midfield made their mark, with Sunny Brazier managing three goals from 19 disposals, while Carlton draftee Sam Philp booted two from his 20 touches. Ryan Sturgess also got on the board as he found the ball 26 times, but found himself beaten out by GWV’s Jay Rantall (36 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. Toby Mahony (20 disposals, three goals) and Mitch Martin (18, two) were others to stand up for the Rebels.

Arguably the best game of the lot was left for last as top four hopefuls Eastern and Sandringham locked horns at RSEA Park to see out the weekend’s action. 13 points was the game’s biggest lead – held by the Dragons early on – as the home side managed to nab a lead at the first three breaks. But Eastern would find an extra gear in the clutch, keeping Sandringham goalless in the final term to come away nine-point winners.

Sydney mid-season draftee Cody Hirst raised his hand for a call-up in his final game for the Ranges, amassing 31 disposals while Zak Pretty had a game-high 33 and bottom-aged gun Connor Downie managed 25 to go with a goal. Ryan Byrnes was Sandringham’s best, collecting 28 touches ahead of Angus Hanrahan (27), while Jake Bowey had 23 and Miles Bergman showed glimpses with his 18 touches and one major.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 6 – Academies bow out, Stingrays go top

FANS, recruiters, and pundits alike were treated to another eight games in Round 6 of the 2019 NAB League, with the early-May weekend serving as the last for each of the five Northern Academies’ cameos. Reigning premier Dandenong broke clear as the sole undefeated side left, while Gold Coast was crowned the Academy Series victor via percentage after Sydney lost its only game for the season. A thrilling finals preview also went down as Gippsland and Eastern battled it out, with the Power getting the better of the eventual premiers on home turf.

The round kicked off in North Hobart, with Tasmania playing host to the heavily-depleted Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday morning. It was the visitors who managed to scrape home in a nail-biting, low-scoring slog by the slimmest of margins, overcoming a half-time deficit to keep the Devils at bay. Winning skipper Trent Bianco, the only national draftee afield dominated with 42 disposals as he stepped-up in the absence of some key personnel.

Fellow top-ager Josh May was also influential with 28 touches, while bottom-aged midfielder Fraser Elliot had it 23 times, and Thomas Lovell put in his best shift for the season with four majors. For the Devils, Harrison Ireland was named best for his work as an undersized ruck, with bottom-age gun Oliver Davis getting to work at ground level with a team-high 21 touches, and fellow Allies Hub member Sam Collins not far behind on 18.

The GWS Academy and Murray Bushrangers went to battle on the New South Wales-Victorian border at midday, with the GIANTS coming away with their second win from five attempts. It was a well drawn out win for the ‘away’ side in its home state, leading at every break but being made to earn the 11-point victory. In another game headlined by the dominance of a future draftee, Tom Green amassed 37 touches for the GIANTS in a mammoth performance.

Over-agers Jeromy Lucas (33 disposals) and Ed Perryman (31) were not far behind, while Harry Grant put in a big shift for 3.2 from his 23 touches, and 2020 19-year-old hopefuls Matt McGrory and Liam Delahunty also got busy. Green’s current GIANTS teammate Lachlan Ash collected 27 touches and booted a goal as Murray’s skipper, aided by Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild who matched his ball-winning output. Jimmy Boyer also impressed with three goals from over 20 disposals, while former GWS Academy member Charlie Byrne had 20 touches exactly.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back down to Victoria, as Calder and Bendigo met at Highgate Reserve. It was the Cannons’ day in another low-scoring affair, leading relatively comfortably at every break to eek out a 16-point win over the Pioneers on home turf. The leading Calder draft candidate to that point, Daniel Mott led the way with 36 disposals and a goal in a game which featured just two eventual draftees.

Jacob Martin enjoyed a breakout performance, racking up 36 touches of his own alongside Mott, while skipper Brodie Newman had 21 from defence and Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay had 16 on the same line. James Schischka was Bendigo’s leading ball winner with 20 disposals, with Sydney draftee Brady Rowles collecting his season-high haul of 17 in tricky conditions.

Heading up north to South Pine in the Sunshine State, Gold Coast took out the overall Academy Series with a well-earned 14-point victory over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The visitors pushed the talented academy prospects all the way despite trailing for the game’s entirety, with captain and SUNS AFL rookie Connor Budarick capping off a stellar month with another terrific performance.

His 23 disposals led all comers, with the exciting Hewago Paul Oea managing 19 and two goals, while Ashton Crossley provided good fold in midfield with 19 touches. Bottom-ager Max Pescud booted a game-high four majors, matched by Rebels’ Nick Caris in his second consecutive four-goal game. 2020 over-age hopeful Isaac Wareham notched two goals of his own, with fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Martin also impressing, but Jay Rantall kept quiet at just 14 disposals.

Completing the South Pine double-header were the Brisbane Lions Academy and Dandenong Stingrays, with the visitors claiming a resounding 71-point win on their travels up north. After a low-scoring first half, the Stingrays clicked into gear after the main break with 10 goals to one to comfortably ensure they would remain undefeated and atop the NAB League ladder.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn stood tall in the defeat with a typically professional 32-disposal performance, with fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland (26 disposals) also returning a good shift. 19-year-old Tom Matthews matched Cumberland’s effort, with bottom-agers Will Tasker and Tahj Abberley also impressing. For Dandenong, new Bulldog Cody Weightman bagged three goals, while fellow draftees Hayden Young (28 disposals), Sam De Koning (17, seven marks) Ned Cahill (21, 1 goal) strutted their stuff. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was another to catch the eye, booting two goals from 21 touches.

A touch earlier and back in Victoria, the Geelong Falcons proved too good for the previously undefeated Sydney Swans Academy in their clash on neutral territory, upsetting the northern hopefuls with a 31-point win. The home side’s four-goal to one fourth term sealed the final margin, with the contest a touch tighter to that point.

It was the bottom-ager who stole the show in this clash, as Ollie Henry booted four goals for the Falcons alongside Charlie Brauer‘s two, while Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden both managed 22 disposals and a goal each. Geelong captain Jesse Clark was the leading ball winner on the ground with 25 touches, followed closely by Sydney top-ager Sam Thorne (24).

Not much may have been expected of the Gippsland-Eastern clash coming into the season, but it proved to be a belting finals preview as the Power took out the four points in Morwell. The game was tight the whole way through, with the high-quality contest ending in a 10-point triumph to the home side.

As had been the case in previous fixtures, the cream rose to the top as Sam Flanders (25 disposals, two goals), Brock Smith (27 disposals), and Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) all enjoyed fantastic outings for the winners. The midfield trio of Zak Pretty (28 disposals), Lachlan Stapleton (28), and Mitch Mellis (21) was just as handy for Eastern, while forwards Bailey White and Ben Hickleton notched three goals apiece.

The final game of the round saw a seventh venue used in Ikon Park, as the Northern Knights held off a fast-finishing Northern Territory Thunder Academy. A six-goal third term saw the Knights double their goal tally, and it set up a match-defining margin as they went on to salute to the tune of 38 points. The NT’s campaign would finish winless, but not for a lack of trying and talent.

Josh D’Intinosante and Jackson Davies both had a good amount of ball while also booting two goals each for the winners, while 2020 Vic Metro Hub member Liam McMahon also managed two goals from his 15 disposals and eight marks. Ben Jungfer was the Thunder’s leading ball winner with 22 touches, but it was Malcolm Rosas Jnr who shone with 21 and two goals, while Joel Jeffrey found the ball 21 times, Beau O’Connell 19, and Brodie Lake 16.

Classic Contests: Flanders’ first half magic fails to halt Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides locked horns in a classic qualifying final at Ikon Park.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.2 | 9.2 | 11.3 | 12.3 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.1 | 5.3 | 9.7 | 12.11 (83)

NAB League Qualifying Final | Sunday September 1, 2019
Ikon Park, 1:30pm

Draftees in action:

Gippsland – Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, Harrison Pepper
Oakleigh – Nick Bryan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh finished the NAB League regular season just one game adrift from top spot at 11-4, enough to see them earn a week’s rest come wildcard round. They would meet in the qualifying final, the last fixture of the competition’s first post-season weekend, and produce an instant classic full of momentum swings.

Oakleigh boasted the would-be first and second picks of the 2019 draft, but the Power had a greater number of draftees on the park in this bout led by Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. The key absence of skipper Brock Smith would prove vital though, with a certain bottom-aged Oakleigh star having a big impact on the game.

The Chargers stormed out of the blocks with five goals to two in the opening term, spearheaded by in-form forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at what proved to be the scoring end. Needing a spark at 23 points down in the first 15 minutes, the Power turned to Serong who provided a lift with his aggression from midfield.

But it was Trent Baldi who would have an even bigger say with his scoreboard impact, slamming home consecutive majors to keep Gippsland in touch. An opportunistic Reef McInnes goal late hurt the Power though, especially given they had kept Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell relatively quiet to that point. It would have to last.

The second period of play would belong to Flanders, who stole the show with one of the greatest 10-minute patches of elite junior football in history. Pushing forward, the dynamic first round draftee showed up his new Gold Coast teammates on the opposing side with four consecutive goals from over 10 touches to break the game open.

On a day where scoring was hard to come by, Flanders’ feats helped the Power pile on nine of the last 10 goals to claim a 23-point lead at the main break. The seven-goal term also went unanswered up the other end as the usually potent Oakleigh side would require a big lift come the second half with much of its bottom-age brigade standing up to that point.

Keeping with the ebb and flow of the contest, it was Oakleigh’s turn to get on top in the third stanza, but their four goals to two was not enough to reclaim the lead. But having created more clear-cut chances, the Chargers drew back to within single digits to give themselves a sniff heading into the final change, albeit if they had spurned a couple of chances to further cut the deficit.

Ugle-Hagan converted a third major early in the fourth quarter as the heavens opened, turning the game into an all-out slog. With goals hard to come by, Riley Baldi‘s major to push the margin out to over a kick looked a big one, but Oakleigh found avenues to the big sticks when they needed them as skipper Trent Bianco sunk a long bomb, and Nick Stathopoulos booted a screamer to seal the come-from-behind win.

Proving impossible to keep down, Rowell and Anderson led the disposal count among two others to lead the Oakleigh’s charge. Bottom-age jet Will Phillips also had 29 touches and added a goal for the winners, while Serong managed the same feat in a valiant effort for Gippsland. Flanders would finish with 27 disposals to go with his four second quarter goals, while St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly also hit the scoreboard from 23 touches.

Oakleigh’s bottom-age brigade proved somewhat of a difference aside from the heavyweight battle through midfield, with the likes of Finlay Macrae, Bailey Laurie, and Ugle-Hagan producing the goods early on. Under the leadership of Bianco (24 disposals, one goal), they proved they were not just there to simply fill the numbers.

The Chargers would go on to claim a dominant grand final win over Eastern after comfortably accounting for Sandringham in the preliminary final stage, while Gippsland were done-over by the Ranges at the same mark after overcoming Western in the semi-finals. With a wealth of draftees coming from either side, they were two of the premier clubs of the competition and stand to have a great impact come draft time in 2020 as well.

Classic Contests: Flanders and Phillips star as Gippsland finds a way against Eastern

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 4 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Eastern Ranges. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 when the teams played out a see-sawing affair in Morwell as the Power held on for victory.

GIPPSLAND POWER 4.1 | 8.2 | 9.7 | 12.9 (81)
EASTERN RANGES 5.1 | 7.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 (71)

Round 6 | Sunday May 5, 2019
Morwell Recreation Reserve, 1pm

The pre and post-National Championships periods often see NAB League sides stacked to the brim with top-end draftable talent, and it was no different in last year’s Round 6 contest between Gippsland and Eastern at Morwell Recreation Reserve. The Ranges had shot out of the blue to make a 4-1 start to the season, but a meeting with the highly-fancied Power side awaited – on the road, no less – and would always prove a test of their true credentials. The Power were 3-1 having already notched up a bye, going down only to reigning premier, Dandenong to that point. Both sides came in off wins over Northern Academies, with Gippsland scraping over the line against GWS, while Eastern comfortably accounted for Gold Coast.

Five eventual AFL draftees lined up for the hosts, as Sam Flanders, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, Charlie Comben, and Harrison Pepper formed a formidable spine, with 2020 top-ager Zach Reid only consolidating it at full back. While the 2019 Ranges squad only produced one mid-season draftee (Cody Hirst), there were a bunch of notable players in the line-up. 2020 over-ager Jamieson Rossiter slotted in at centre half-forward, with top-aged Academy members Connor Downie and Joshua Clarke also on the team sheet. 2019 Vic Metro representatives Lachlan Stapleton, Mitch Mellis, and James Ross made for reliable operators all year, and would certainly have their hands full against quality opposition in this fixture as leaders of the group.

A high-scoring opening term set the stage for an action-packed clash, with both sides shooting sharply in front of goal to register a combined 9.2. It was the Ranges who found their way on top though thanks to their superior five-goal effort, hitting back at each of the Power’s advances and gaining the ascendancy late as Bailey White cancelled out Flanders’ equalising goal. But with the advantageous end, Gippsland began to have their say with a four-goal to two second stanza – all while both sides maintained remarkably accuracy. In an end-to-end final five minutes of the half, Phillips and Riley Baldi put the Power two goals ahead, before White’s second goal brought the margin back to single digits.

It was again Eastern’s turn to shift the tide and the Ranges somewhat managed to do so with two goals to one in the third term as the contest tightened up. Harvey Neocleous’ third-minute major did little to stop Eastern from hitting back with six-pointers as the Power began to stray in front of goal. With the lead cut to four points heading into the final change, a grandstand finish awaited. Ben Hickleton immediately put the pressure on the Power as he goaled with two minutes on the clock in the final term, putting the Ranges in front before Billy McCormack extended the buffer to eight points. But the cream rises to the top, especially in the clutch, as Flanders and Comben goaled to reinstate Gippsland’s ascendancy. Tom Fitzpatrick’s major with a tick over six minutes left meant the Ranges required two goals to win, but they could only managed a single behind as the hosts held on for victory.

Eastern’s ball magnets stood up in the engine room despite the losing effort, with Stapleton (28 disposals, nine tackles, six inside 50s) and Zak Pretty (28 disposals, six inside 50s) leading all comers, while Mellis found it 21 times. White and Hickleton were the main culprits in front of goal, each bagging three majors while McCormack managed two as the only other Eastern multiple goalkicker. 2020 top-agers Downie (10 disposals) and Clarke (13) had steady games, with Rossiter able to claim one major from his eight disposals.

For the stacked Gippsland side, Flanders led the way with two goals from his 25 disposals and five inside 50s from midfield, trailing only Phillips (20 disposals, seven marks, three goals) in terms of scoreboard impact. Skipper Smith racked up a team-high 27 touches from defence, while Riley Baldi (26 disposals, one goal) and Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals) were others to stand out. The remaining two draftees, Pepper and Comben, managed 18 and 14 touches respectively, with bigman Comben also notching six marks and a goal.

The two sides would meet just once more in 2019, with Eastern getting the chocolates in their preliminary final tie to the tune of 30 points. The Ranges, who also ended up minor premiers, fell short of a rampant Oakleigh side in the grand final, while Gippsland bowed out at that preliminary final stage after finishing one game adrift in second.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 3 – First draw of the season in Country Triple Header

IN an action-packed nine games of NAB League Boys action, spectators witnessed the season’s first draw at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo as part of a huge triple header for the six country teams. The round also included a double header at Trevor Barker Oval the day before, while the Northern Academies went head-to-head across the nation, and the standalone game at RAMS Arena was a close one.

Opening up the round in Sandringham with the double header changed from Preston was the Northern Knights taking on Eastern Ranges. From the start it was clear the Ranges were going to be too strong, and by half-time led by 26 points. It would only get worse for the Knights in the second half, as Eastern piled on 7.9 to 0.2, to run away 75-point winners.

Mitch Mellis was best on ground with three goals from 29 touches, six marks, six tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while the likes of Zakery Pretty (26 disposals, five marks, three tackles, nine clearances and three inside 50s) and James Ross (30 disposals, three marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds) were not too far behind. Connor Downie (25 touches, five marks, five inside 50s and a goal), Josh Clarke (24 touches, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Lachlan Gawel (21 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) were all prolific, while Cody Hirst (19 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) looked impressive in one of his few games prior to being drafted by Sydney.

Sam Philp was a clear standout for the losing side as he amassed 26 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ryan Gardner (23 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three rebounds) worked hard on the outside, Josh D’Intinosante (21 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) was busy through midfield, and Jackson Davies (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) did his best in defence.

The second game at Trevor Barker Oval was much closer with perennial rivals and premiership contenders, Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers going at it. The end result was a 10-point win to the Dragons after booting five goals to two in the middle two quarters and then holding off a Chargers comeback to grab the bragging rights, 9.11 (65) to 8.7 (55).

Jack Mahony led the way for his side with 25 touches, five marks, five tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, teaming up well in midfield with Finn Maginness (24 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and Ryan Byrnes (21 disposals, four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds). Josh Worrell was a rock in defence thanks to 23 touches, four marks, four tackles and five rebounds, while up forward, Charlie Dean continued his good form with 16 disposals, six marks and two goals.

It was no surprise to see who led the way despite the loss for the Chargers with Matt Rowell (31 disposals, seven marks, 11 tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) dominating alongside Noah Anderson (26 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals). Future Magpie, Trent Bianco picked up 26 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds, while bottom-age talent, Will Phillips had 21 touches, seven marks and three tackles of his own. Dylan Williams booted three goals from nine disposals and four marks up forward.

Up at RAMS Arena, Calder Cannons kicked away in the final term against Western Jets to win by 12 points in what was a thrilling contest. It was only a two goals to one final quarter, but that was enough to see the home side in front at the final siren after leading by just three points at the final break. Western had worked its way back into the game after trailing by 19 and 15 points at the quarter time and half-time breaks respectively, but would ultimately not do enough to get the points in the end.

Cannons captain Daniel Mott had the ball on a string thanks to 32 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Harrison Minton-Connell joined him with leather poisoning after 30 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven clearances, two inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal. Flynn Lakey (26 disposals, five marks, four clearances and two rebounds) and Jake Sutton (18 disposals, seven marks, three clearances and six inside 50s) were busy, while Harrison Jones showed off his versatility after 17 disposals, eight marks, four hitouts and three inside 50s.

Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett were saviours in the defensive 50, combining for 44 disposals, 12 marks and 15 rebounds in a hard working effort for the Jets. Up forward, excitement machine Eddie Ford had 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Will Kennedy racked up a whopping 41 hitouts to go with 15 rouches, five marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Of the future draftees, Josh Honey had 14 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and a goal, while Emerson Jeka took six marks from nine touches and laid three tackles.

Heading north to Yeronga, the Gold Coast Suns Academy booted the last six goals of the game and five goals to zero in the final term, to post a 10.10 (70) to 5.12 (42) victory over cross-state rivals, Brisbane Lions Academy. The Lions had led by two points at the final break, but it was all Gold Coast in the last term as they ran away with the points.

Ashton Crossley racked up 31 touches, four marks, 10 clearances and two inside 50s, teaming up well with future Sun, Connor Budarick (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s) and bottom-age talent, Alex Davies (22 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds). Josh Gore booted three majors from 12 disposals and seven marks, while another future senior Sun in Matthew Conroy kicked two last quarter goals from eight touches, three marks and 25 hitouts. Hewago Paul Oea was also lively with 17 disposals, three marks, eight inside 50s and a goal.

For the Lions, Tom Griffiths (27 disposals, five marks and four rebounds) and Bruce Reville (26 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) had the most touches, while Saxon Crozier (19 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Ethan Hunt (18 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and six rebounds) were also busy. Future Tigers, Noah Cumberland (13 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Will Martyn (12 disposals, five tackles) played in the match as well.

In another dominant performance late, Sydney Swans Academy stormed past GWS GIANTS to win by 59 points in Canberra. The Swans trailed at quarter time and half-time, but piled on 12 goals to two in the second half to run away with the contest and gain some serious bragging rights early in the Academy Series.

It was a strong team effort from the Swans, with Jackson Barling (24 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three clearances) and Lachlan Swaney (22 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) both prominent. Captain Sam Thorne (19 touches, six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s) was busy, while Harrison Parker and Braeden Campbell both booted three goals in the win.

For the GIANTS it was all about Tom Green who racked up 28 touches, six marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Jeromy Lucas (25 touches, four marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) and James Peatling (24 touches, seven marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) provided support. Liam Delahunty (10 touches, six marks and two goals) was busy up forward, while Nick Murray (15 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds) stood tall under siege in defence.

Heading into the city for a clash between Northern territory and Tasmania, it was the Devils who came away with their first win after a slow start. Trailing by 10 points at the first break, Tasmania piled on 12 goals to three after that to finish with a commanding 13.14 (92) to 6.8 (44) victory over the Thunder.

Leading draft prospect, Mitch O’Neill had the ball on a string with 35 disposals, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds, as Rhyan Mansell (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Oliver Davis (22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s) provided great service to the forwards. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow showed just what he was capable of with five majors from 19 disposals and eight marks, while Matthew McGuinness was a reliever in defence with 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds.

All eyes were on Richmond father-son bottom-age prospect Maurice Rioli Jnr for the Thunder, and he had 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in a lively display. Others who impressed included Stephen Cumming (22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances), and bottom-age hopefuls, Joel Jeffrey (20 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and a goal), Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds).

Heading up the highway to Bendigo, the country triple header took place at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Pioneers were battling against premiership contender, Gippsland Power and had themselves right in the contest until the final term. The Power led by just one point at the last break, but piled on 4.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with a 12.10 (82) to 8.10 (58) victory.

Future first round pick, Caleb Serong helped himself to 23 disposals, five marks, three tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while another first round selection in Sam Flanders amassed 20 touches, two marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s), Sam Berry (20 disposals, three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal), Kyle Dunkley (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal) and Leo Connolly (15 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and six rebounds) were among the best across the four quarters, while Fraser Phillips booted three goals from 12 touches and four marks.

Bendigo’s own future first round pick in Brodie Kemp had a day out with 21 disposals, four marks, three tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, teaming up well in midfield with Sam Conforti (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Jeremy Rodi (19 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds). Riley Wilson (14 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds) was prominent in midfield, while Logan Fitzgerald and Brady Rowles combined for 26 disposals and nine rebounds in defence.

The second game was the best of the lot, with Dandenong Stingrays splitting the points with Geelong Falcons. In a wind-affected day, the see-sawing contested had everyone on the edge of their seat. Trailing by 30 points at the final break but with the wind behind their backs, the Stingrays booted 5.6 to 1.0 and managed to draw level at 12.11 (83) apiece thanks to a kick after the siren.

Ned Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s, as all of Dandenong’s future draftees stood out. Hayden Young had 22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, Cody Weightman had 20 touches, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, and Sam De Koning picked up 17 disposals, three marks, four hitouts and two goals, switching into attack in the last quarter and being a huge influence on the result.

The game was unfortunately the last for Geelong’s sole draftee, Cooper Stephens who broke his leg in the first term and would not play another game in season 2019. Jesse Clark (26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 touches, eight marks and five rebounds) worked hard, while bottom-agers, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, nine tackles and seven inside 50s) were among their side’s best.

In the final game of the round, Murray Bushrangers came back from a goal down at the final break to find their kicking boots and defeat Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. The Bushrangers had booted 6.12 to three quarter time – four more scoring shots than their opponents – but trailed them by a goal. They picked it up in the final term to slot 3.3 to 1.2 and record a 9.15 (69) to 9.8 (62) victory.

Lachlan Ash had a team-high 28 disposals, six marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals, five marks, six tackles, three clearance and five inside 50s) and Jimmy Boyer (22 disposals, nine marks and two rebounds) found plenty of the ball. In midfield, Cameron Wild (20 disposals, four marks, three clearances and seven inside 50s) and Dylan Clarke (17 disposals, three marks, four tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were strong.

Jay Rantall was a clear standout for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 31 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals in a complete game. Mitch Martin (22 disposals, 10 marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) was also impressive, while James Cleaver and Emmanuel Ajang combined for 33 disposals, 10 marks and 13 rebounds in defence.