Tag: Sam Flanders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – Vic Country vs. Western Australia

WESTERN Australia took out the AFL Under-18 National Championships title with a narrow victory over Vic Country thanks to a goal after the siren. We were on hand to note down some of the prominent players, with all notes opinion-based of the individual writer.

Vic Country:

By: Peter Williams

#2 Caleb Serong

Had one of the more quiet halves he has had on the big stage with just four touches in the first half against Western Australia. Visibly frustrated as he came to the bench at one point in the second term, Serong came out with intent in the second half to pick up 12 touches and finish with 16 by the final siren. Only the one effective kick, but buried himself under the packs and won 10 contested possessions and four hardball gets. Not the best game overall, but he was able to inspire his team more in the second half and it was a key reason Country got back in the contest. His overall carnival was superb and he throughly deserved his Country Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and All Australian honours.

#4 Sam Flanders

Was one of the more dominant Vic Country players early, but let himself down by foot in the first half, with four clangers by half-time. He was winning the ball in tight and able to get it out to his teammates and keep it moving, but found himself under pressure when at defensive stoppages and had to throw in on the boot. After half-time he was sharper by foot and ended up with a team-high 24 touches and seven clearances as the dominant inside midfielder on the Country side. He almost had a quarter of his team’s clearances and continued what was a marvellous carnival with an All Australian jumper.

#9 Isaac Wareham

Underrated performance by the GWV Rebels’ midfielder who while he made some mistakes, kept trying to take the game on and would have been high up there with metres gained. He almost created a highlight-reel burst out of the middle at one point but just slipped with a bounce and had to rush to get it out, and on another occasion was sold into trouble by a teammate. As a whole, he was one of the better Country players and he has good vision that sets up teammates laterally and opens up scoring opportunities. He looked most comfortable on the wing and was able to execute the kick inside the corridor, and also provide some opportunities for teammates going forward.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Like many of his teammates, he seemed a tad off in the first half with a couple of clangers – something that no-one associates Ash with given his elite kicking skills. He shook that off in the third term, as he burst off half-back, won a one-on-one against Liam Henry, took on the opposition and then with a dart inside 50 hit-up Brodie Kemp for a goal reminiscent of last week’s match winner against South Australia. His foot skills in the second half were back to what we have come to know from the exciting runner, and he and Hayden Young’s slicing kicks were forcing Western Australia onto the back foot. Finished with a team-high eight rebounds, five more than his next highest teammate.

#13 Jay Rantall

Just kept buzzing around the stoppages and running all day, using quick hands in close and when in space to open up opportunities for teammates. Knowing his own strengths, Rantall executed under pressure handballs to good effect and went in hard to win a team-high amount of hardball gets. He also was able to win a number of important clearances around the ground and had a flying shot on the goal to create something out of nothing, but missed.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Another standout game for Country and continues his ascent up draft boards with some crucial marks inside 50. He booted two goals from four scoring shots, and always threatened to be a danger in the air. One of the few consistent Country performers across the game, Kemp spent a lot of time on the inside and then went forward, winning 11 contested possessions and taking two contested marks. His strength in the air or at ground level was clear, and he was able to pump the ball inside 50 on numerous occasions. While he still made some mistakes by foot, Kemp was another player who took risks and was willing to put it on the line to try and win the championships for Country. A deserving All Australian member.

#17 Hayden Young

When Young hit-up a Western Australian opponent 40m out with a short kick from deep in defence under limited pressure, it was clear Vic County were not on their game early. Similar to Ash, Young and clanger kicks do not belong in the same sentence, and he fixed that in the second half with some terrific long bombs to find teammates in difficult positions but made it look easy with his ability. One kick that exemplified what Young is capable of came in the final term when under pressure he kicked 40m across his body inboard, over a few West Australian opponents to land in the lap of the running Isaac Wareham who did not need to break stride. Also collected an All Australian jumper for his carnival.

#36 Sam De Koning

The tall defender was Country’s best player if you take into account all four quarters. When very few were standing up, he was repelling attacks in the back 50 with strong intercept marks and rebounds out of defence. He came in with timely spoils on the lead and was able to nullify his opponents one-on-one. He also settled down the defence and kicked long out of the back half, though did make mistakes by foot. De Koning was at his best when able to drop back and take a settling mark then set up plays from defence to attack.

Western Australia:

By: Lenny Fogliani

#4 Riley Garcia

Until he injured his knee midway through the first quarter, Garcia was arguably Western Australia’s best player. He provided a heap of energy and zip around the contest and proved to be a damaging link-up player. His final statistics were seven possessions, three clearances and two tackles.

#5 Liam Henry

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy member increased his draft stocks with another exquisite performance. Against the ‘Big V’, Henry racked up 25 possessions, took six marks, recorded five rebounds, laid five tackles and produced four inside 50s. His mercurial ability to weave his way around opposition pressure, before composing himself and finding a team-mate in space, is extraordinary for someone his age.

#7 Nathan O’Driscoll

Another bottom-age prospect, O’Driscoll was brilliant on the half-back line for the Sandgropers. He finished with 21 possessions, six tackles, four marks, four inside 50s and two rebounds, providing good zip on the outside and damaging run forward.

#10 Deven Robertson

The WA Under 18 captain continued his magnificent campaign that saw him win the Larke Medal and the WA U18 MVP. Against Vic Country, he accumulated a game-high 28 possessions, laid eight tackles, won six clearances and recorded six inside 50s to be WA’s best player. His contested possessions and clearance work were outstanding and pivotal for WA’s victory.

#12 Regan Clarke

The match winner – Clarke will go down in WA history after he kicked the winning goal with five seconds to go in the final quarter. After taking the mark, Clarke was able to duly convert his set shot to give WA its first Championships triumph since 2009. But he was also fantastic throughout the game, finishing with 14 possessions, seven marks, three inside 50s and two tackles.

#14 Chad Warner

The Willetton product was busy in the midfield for the Sandgropers, often throwing himself into stoppages to win the contested possession for his team. He finished with 22 possessions, six inside 50s, five tackles, four clearances, and three marks. Warner shares similar traits to West Coast star Jack Redden – both are clearance machines and get the ball going forward for their respective teams.

#17 Jeremy Sharp

The reigning All-Australian put forward his best game for the WA at this year’s Championships. Against Vic Country he finished with 20 possessions, 11 marks, and a goal. His penetrating kicking, line-breaking ability and composure with ball in hand were all on display.

#21 Jake Pasini

The no-nonsense defender produced another solid performance for the Sandgropers. Lined up on Josh Smith, Pasini only gathered seven possessions and took two marks, but restricted Smith to five possessions and no goals.

#32 Luke Jackson

The runner-up in this year’s Larke Medal, Jackson showed why he is considered to be the best ruckman in this year’s draft pool. He accumulated 19 possessions, won 37 hitouts, five clearances, recorded five inside 50s, took three marks and laid two tackles to be one of the most influential players for Western Australia. His follow-up work and ability to cover the ground are elite for a ruckman his age.

#36 Denver Grainger-Barras

The bottom-ager was excellent in defence for the Sandgropers, often thwarting many of Vic Country’s attacking forays. Stationed at centre half-back and opposed to Elijah Hollands, Grainger-Barras accumulated 13 possessions and took eight marks, while Hollands gathered 14 possessions but failed to kick a goal.

Robertson leads class of 2019 in All Australian side

LARKE medallist Deven Robertson leads a strong brigade of midfielders in the 2019 Under 18 All Australian side which was announced today. The team features an impressive seven players from Vic Country and six from champions Western Australia, while South Australia has four players. The Allies and Vic Metro have supplied three players each to the team.

Vic Country’s defence was a strength of its 2019 campaign, with full-back Sam De Koning, and half backs Lachlan Ash and Hayden Young making the side. Up forward, Gippsland Power teammates Sam Flanders and Country Most Valuable Player (MVP) Caleb Serong have both secured spots, while Cody Weightman has been named on the bench after a superb carnival as the leading goal kicker. For the eventual champions Western Australia, their entire midfield just about made the cut with captain Robertson leading the charge, joined in the side by Trent Rivers, Jeremy Sharp, Liam Henry and ruckman Luke Jackson. Elijah Taylor also earned All Australian honours up forward after an electrifying few weeks.

South Australia provided Will Gould who along with Sharp and Mitch O’Neill made it back-to-back All Australian appearances, with the Croweaters captain supported by teammates, Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Dylan Stephens. The Allies MVP Tom Green and Harrison Medallist (best Academy Series player) Connor Budarick made the side along with O’Neill, meaning one from each of Queensland, New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) and Tasmania have achieved All Australian status. Vic Metro’s potential top two picks Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson were unsurprising inclusions in the side, along with Metro MVP Fischer McAsey who holds down a key back position.

Western Australia’s title-winning coach Peter Sumich was named as coach of the 2019 Under-18 All Australian side. Remarkably, no bottom-age players made the All Australian side this year, meaning next year’s squad is likely to be made up of 23 fresh new players.

FULL BACKS:

CONNOR BUDARICK – ALLIES

The talented midfielder was named in the back pocket having spent time in defence during the Academy Series, averaging 15.5 disposals, 2.3 marks and 9.3 rebounds in the AFL National Under 18 Championships. He had just the two rebounds during the four-game championships, but can play anywhere on the field and earned his place after winning the Harrison Medal.

SAM DE KONING – VIC COUNTRY

Consistent as ever across the series, De Koning got better as the carnival went on, and was one of Vic Country’s best in the final two games when a lot of his teammates were down on form. His intercept marking was a treat to watch as he finished the carnival with 12.5 disposals, 4.8 marks and 2.3 rebounds, playing mostly as a one-on-one defender with great spoiling technique.

WILL GOULD – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The South Australian captain made it back-to-back all Australian jumpers and as the premier rebounder of the competition, it was no surprise to see his name feature in defence. He averaged 21.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 2.5 tackles and a mammoth 7.5 rebounds – seven more total rebounds than his nearest competitor. An absolute beast who almost won his side the game against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium.

 

HALF BACKS:

LACHLAN ASH – VIC COUNTRY

The slick, powerful boot of Lachlan Ash featured plenty of times over the championships, and he ranked third in the competition for rebounds and the highest disposal winner of the five rebounders. Ash finished with 23.0 disposals, 5.0 marks and 5.0 rebounds, as well as a handy 3.0 inside 50s getting forward and setting up attacking plays. Ash was the one who found Brodie Kemp for the winning goal against South Australia.

FISCHER MCASEY – VIC METRO

The Metro MVP was a revelation during the carnival and showed off his strength, intercept marking and long kicking out of defence. The Sandringham Dragons product racked up 14.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.3 tackles and 2.5 rebounds clearly being the most important player for Metro and helping them in each and every game with great consistency.

HAYDEN YOUNG – VIC COUNTRY

Similar to Ash, Young has a super boot that he uses to penetrate through opposition zones and his elite kicking skills were on display throughout the carnival. Ranked fourth overall for rebounds, Young completed the series with an averaged of 22.0 disposals, 5.3 marks, 2.3 tackles and 4.5 rebounds.

 

CENTRE:

NOAH ANDERSON – VIC METRO

The powerful midfielder averaged an impressive 23.5 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.8 tackles, 5.3 clearances and 3.0 rebounds, living up to pre-carnival expectations. He recorded the equal fifth and equal third most disposals across the tournament, being a key difference in the midfield battle between teams and finishing top five in the Larke Medal voting.

DEVEN ROBERTSON – WESTERN AUSTRALIA (CAPTAIN)

The Western Australia captain finished with a swagger of awards including state MVP, Larke Medal and All Australian jumper and the captaincy to boot. The ball winning midfielder not only had an impressive carnival, but he dominated, picking up the most ever disposals – 120 – which was two more than Sam Walsh last year. He also amassed an average of 4.3 marks, 6.8 tackles, 4.8 clearances, 4.0 inside 50s and 3.5 rebounds in a well-rounded game overall.

MITCH O’NEILL – ALLIES

The Tasmania Devils talent had two best on ground performances for the Allies across the carnival, averaging 20.3 disposals, 5.5 marks, 2.5 clearances and 3.3 rebounds spending time in defence and using his effective skills when driving the Allies forward. A key talent who does not win as much of the footy as others, but uses it well. Back-to-back All-Australians for O’Neill after making the squad on the bench last year.

 

HALF FORWARDS:

JACKSON MEAD – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

One of five midfielders named in the forward line, Mead did show an ability to play forward, booting two crucial last quarter goals for South Australia against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium. They were his only two goals of the carnival as he dominated the midfield with 21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.0 clearances, 3.8 inside 50s and 5.0 tackles to be the playmaker in the forward half setting up scoring opportunities for his teammates.

ELIJAH TAYLOR – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The exciting forward looked classy throughout the past month, booting three goals against the Allies to help turn the game in the Sandgropers favour, and earning a place in the All Australian forward line. He finished with six goals from his four games to be equal third in the competition for goals, also averaging 12.3 disposals and 2.5 marks.

SAM FLANDERS – VIC COUNTRY

The Gippsland Power potential top five pick was one of Vic Country’s most consistent along with Power teammate and Country MVP Caleb Serong. He averaged 22.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 6.0 tackles, 4.5 clearances and 4.8 inside 50s across his four games to stamp his authority on each and every match. He only managed the two goals, but was constantly looking like a threat in the forward half.

 

FORWARDS:

CALEB SERONG – VIC COUNTRY

Vic Country’s MVP ball-winning midfielder finds a place in the forward pocket, a role he has played as a bottom ager and is capable of doing. He booted three goals from his four games this carnival, racking up the equal fifth most disposals across the matches, averaging 23.5 disposals, 5.5 marks, 8.5 tackles, 5.3 clearances and 3.0 inside 50s.

BRODIE KEMP – VIC COUNTRY

The Bendigo Pioneers utility played everywhere over the championships, starting in the back pocket, moving into his dominant midfield role, then going forward and kicking crucial goals after towering marks. The most memorable was the winning goal for Vic Country against South Australia, but his whole carnival was a highlight, raising his draft stakes by averaging 20.0 disposals, 6.5 marks, 2.3 tackles and booting three goals in his four games.

LIAM HENRY – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Mixed emotions for Fremantle fans as their Next Generation Academy prospect Liam Henry earns a spot in the All Australian team. His talent is undeniable but his value at the draft board just skyrocketed, as he enjoyed an impressive carnival, booting three goals in four games, but having 17.5 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.0 tackles and 3.3 inside 50s.

 

RUCK/ROVERS:

LUKE JACKSON – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The dominant ruckman across the championships, Jackson stamped his authority as the top ruck in this year’s draft crop with four impressive games. Jackson recorded a massive 59 more hitouts than the next highest ruck, averaging 36.8 per game, while finding the ball with 14.5 disposals, 2.5 marks and 3.0 tackles.

TOM GREEN – ALLIES

The big-bodied inside midfielder took out the Allies’ MVP and showed off his leadership skills throughout as captain of the combined side. His inside work was the best of anyone and followed on from a remarkable Academy Series where he averaged more than 30 disposals and 10 clearances. Green once again was the number one clearance player, averaging eight per game as well as 23.8 disposals, 2.8 marks and 4.5 tackles, with almost 50 per cent of his possessions once in the the contest.

MATT ROWELL – VIC METRO

The potential number one pick in the 2019 AFL National Draft did not harm his draft chances one iota after he was named among the best in each of the four games, including a couple of best on ground performances. He amassed 24.8 disposals, 5.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, 5.3 clearances and 3.0 inside 50s, ranked third for both disposals and clearances in a terrific carnival, adding yet another award to his already impressive collection.

 

INTERCHANGE:

HARRY SCHOENBERG – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The South Australian MVP was a bolter of the carnival, impressing over highly fancied teammates and becoming a crucial player both on the inside and outside of the contest. He averaged the second most disposals behind the Larke Medallist Robertson, finished with 27.0 disposals, 4.8 marks, 4.8 tackles and 5.8 clearances.

JEREMY SHARP – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The third back-to-back All Australian played all over the ground, from defence to attack and in midfield, and had a solid all-round game with 21.0 disposals, 5.8 marks and three goals from his four games to earn a place in the 23-player squad.

CODY WEIGHTMAN – VIC COUNTRY

The speedy small forward continued his rise in the NAB League Boys with Dandenong Stingrays by topping the goal kicking in his four games. He finished with nine goals – eight of them came in two games, and also recorded 11.0 disposals, 3.5 marks, 2.0 tackles and 2.3 goals and could have arguably made the field as the top performing pure forward in the side.

TRENT RIVERS – WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The classy midfielder never let his team down and was a key player with Robertson in the midfield, working hard on the outside and from half-back to use his vision and skill to pinpoint targets up the field. He had 21.8 disposals, 5.0 marks, 2.5 tackles and 3.0 rebounds across the tournament and could be the Sandgropers first player picked in November.

DYLAN STEPHENS – SOUTH AUSTRALIA

In three of the four games, Stephens was terrific using his slick skills and movement in transition to great effect going forward with the ball. He averaged 23.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.3 tackles, 4.5 clearances and 4.8 inside 50s playing his role as that outside midfielder perfectly.

Western Australia and Vic Country to decide AFL U18s title

A NEW national champion will be crowned tomorrow evening with Vic Country and Western Australia set to lock horns for the national title, while South Australia and the Allies play after in what has become a dead rubber match, but still plenty of talent on show. Vic Country has not won since 2015, with Vic Metro and South Australia combining for the other seven titles in that time. Josh Schache was named the Larke Medallist for his dominance up forward, in a team that included Darcy Parish, Ben Ainsworth, Jarrod Berry, Jacob Weitering and Rhys Mathieson. For Western Australia, the time between wins is even longer, with a decade passing since their 2009 triumph where the likes of David Swallow, Mitch Duncan, Jack Darling, Brandon Matera and Travis Colyer were running around in the yellow and black.

 

VIC COUNTRY vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Wednesday July 3, 2.10pm
Marvel Stadium

The 2019 AFL Under-18 National Championships once again comes down to the final day, and the winner of this match between Vic Country and Western Australia with the home side undefeated from its three games, while Western Australia has won two out of three, the only blip coming in a low-scoring against South Australia in Round 1. Both teams have accounted for the Allies and Vic Metro – with Country notching up its two wins early on including a 15-goal humiliation of the Allies, while Western Australia had to fight hard but recorded strong wins over both. This game is set to be a beauty with the strong defence of the Country side going head-to-head with the excitement machines that represent Western Australia.

Vic Country has made two changes for the game with Sandringham Dragons’ Darcy Chirgwin coming in for his first game of the series following a successful return from injury a couple of weekends ago against Eastern Ranges. That day he collected 32 disposals and 11 clearances in an impressive return match, joined in the Country side by Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild who was left out of the Murray side on the weekend in order to play this game, but picked up 29 touches the week prior. Fraser Phillips and Lachlan Williams are the two players to miss out after quiet games in the narrow win over South Australia. Western Australia has opted for four changes with the highly rated Jeremy Sharp missing out on the side this week, while Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley and Reuben McGuire are also out of the team. In their place come a couple of overagers in Ryan Bennell and Jarvis Pina, as well as Nathan O’Driscoll and Nicholas Martin.

Both teams have the capability to move the ball with speed, and for Country, it has the two best half-backs in the draft in Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash making life difficult for any side as they slice up opposition zones. Brock Smith and Sam De Koning have proven to stand up as the key talls, with Smith having to play in a higher weight division as he will with a potential match-up against bottom-age tall Logan McDonald on the cards. The small forwards of Country have been very damaging with Cody Weightman the leading goalkicker of the carnival and it will be between him and Elijah Taylor to take out the title. Elijah Hollands has weaved magic across the past month despite being a bottom-ager, while Ned Cahill has worked well with Weightman transitioning from Dandenong Stingrays to the Country side. The midfield of Gippsland Power duo, Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders, and Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp has made a massive difference and will no doubt look to control the ball in there, able to match it with the strong West Australian midfielders.

Western Australia’s strength lies in its ruck and speed. Luke Jackson is the dominant ruck and is set for All-Australian honours, while Taylor, Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne have that X-factor about them and can create something out of nothing. Deven Robertson has done his draft chances no harm after being injured last year, coming second in the disposals across the carnival, and being a shining light as captain of the Sandgropers. Riley Garcia and Chad Warner have also been consistent in there, while Trent Rivers is a touch of class who can play between half-back and the wing, or go through the middle. The bottom-age talls of McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras hold the visitors in good stead for next year, while Jake Pasini and Callum Jamieson have been strong up either end at the carnival. Spectators also get a glimpse of bottom-age talent O’Driscoll who has been named at half-back, in a game that is predicted to be an absolute beauty.

Vic Country will head in as favourites having gone undefeated thus far, but Western Australia are fresh off a rest whereas Vic Country have the five-day break so it will be interesting to see how that affects them.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 26. Jesse Clark – 36. Sam De Koning – 9. Isaac Wareham
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash – 24. Brock Smith – 18. Hayden Young
C: 8. Thomson Dow – 16. Brodie Kemp – 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill – 20. Elijah Hollands – 13. Jay Rantall
F: 6. Riley Baldi – 39. Josh Smith – 3. Cody Weightman
R: 40. Charlie Comben – 4. Sam Flanders – 2. Caleb Serong
INT: 22. Darcy Chirgwin – 14. Liam Herbert – 10. Harrison Pepper – 5. Cameron Wild

IN: Darcy Chirgwin, Cam Wild
OUT: Fraser Phillips, Lachlan Williams

Western Australia:

B: 13. Ben Johnson – 21. Jake Pasini – 20. Jaxon Prior
HB: 22. Max Murphy – 36. Denver Grainger-Barras – 7. Nathan O’Driscoll
C: 12. Regan Clarke – 10. Deven Robertson – 5. Liam Henry
HF: 18. Jai Jackson – 25. Logan McDonald – 19. ELijah Taylor
F: 23. Nicholas Martin – 39. Callum Jamieson – 3. Tyrone Thorne
R: 32. Luke Jackson – 14. Chad Warner – 4. Riley Garcia
INT: 34. Ryan Bennell – 24. Ronin O’Connor – 11. Jarvis Pina – 35. Trent Rivers – 26. Trey Ruscoe

IN: Nathan O’Driscoll – Nicholas Martin, Ryan Bennell, Jarvis Pina
OUT: Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley, Jeremy Sharp, Reuben McGuire

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. ALLIES
Wednesday July 3, 4.40pm
Marvel Stadium

In the second game of the double-header, South Australia and Allies will effectively play-off for third spot having already amassed two losses from three games. As South Australia defeated Western Australia, the Croweaters can effectively grab second with a win over the Allies and a Vic Country triumph in the first game. However they could also finish last with a loss, because they also lost to Vic Metro who sit with the same amount of wins – one. If the Allies win they will grab third, while if they lose they will be fourth after ensuring they will not finish last thanks to the win over Vic Metro. South Australia came agonisingly close to making this a title game if they had come away with the points against Vic Country, but with their back-to-back hopes dashed, the Croweaters will be keen to finish off the carnival with a good win.

The Allies have made two changes to the side that got over the line by two points against Vic Metro, recalling exciting bottom-age forward Braeden Campbell, as well as ball winner, Jeromy Lucas who has been named at full-forward. Out of the side go Nicholas Brewer and James Peatling. The South Australians have also made the two changes with Kysaiah Pickett returning from suspension for the game, joined in the side by Jordan Moore, while Jordan O’Brien and Brady Searle are the outs from the team that narrowly lost to Vic Country in the previous game.

The battle of the midfields will be entertaining with Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Lachlan McNeil going head-to-head with Tom Green, Ben Jungfer and Connor Budarick on the outside, while Will Martyn and Mitch O’Neill will hope to match the run provided by Dylan Stephens and Josh Shute on the wing. Up forward, South Australia has some great variety with Daniel Sladojevic the key tall, Cameron Taheny as the talented medium forward, and Pickett as the electrifying small. Noah Cumberland, Tom Griffiths and Luke Parks are in some good form and will look to cover the smalls and mediums, while Liam Delahunty could have the job on Sladojevic.

Up the other end, the South Australian defence is right up there in terms of quality with Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay a couple of dominant tall intercept markers, allowing captain Will Gould to run riot off half-back. Will Day and Luke Edwards also create great run and rebound out of the back half, but will need to be accountable to the likes of Campbell and Hewago Paul Oea who are nimble and damaging if given time and space. Josh Gore is in some ripping form after three goals in the last game, and Hamish Ellem has also produced the goods at ground level. Add in the Allies depth of Errol Gulden and Malcolm Rosas Jr coming off the bench through the forward half and they have plenty of scoring options. Corey Durdin is a name to remember for next year for the Croweaters, while Damon Freitag could cause issues given his size and strength.

South Australia will be favourites in this game given how close all of their games have been, but the Allies have improved each game they have run out, so if that is any indication, they are set to hold up here against strong opposition.

TEAMS:

South Australia:

B: 35. Karl Finlay – 33. Dyson Hilder – 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 19. Luke Edwards – 24. Will Gould – 12. Will Day
C: 10. Joshua Shute – 18. Jackson Mead – 7. Dylan Stephens
HF: 8. Jed McEntee – 32. Daniel Sladojevic – 17. Josh Morris
F: 31. Jordan Moore – 9. Cameron Taheny – 1. Kysaiah Pickett
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows – 15. Harry Schoenberg – 20. Lachlan McNeil
INT: 14. Declan Carmody – 3. Corey Durdin – 42. Damon Freitag – 11. Callum Park – 28 Oliver Shaw

IN: Kysaiah Pickett, Jordan Moore
OUT: Jordan O’Brien, Brady Searle

Allies:

B: 8. Tom Griffiths – 52. Dirk Koenen – 21. Luke Parks
HB: 46. Noah Cumberland – 26. Liam Delahunty – 36. Sam Thorne
C: 15. Will Martyn – 3. Connor Budarick – 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell – 37. Josh Gore – 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 31. Hamish Ellem – 47. Jeromy Lucas – 32. Jack Steele
R: 54. Ben Kelly – 22. Thomas Green – 16. Ben Jungfer
INT: 12. Ashton Crossley – 1. Errol Gulden – 24.Joel Jeffrey – 20. Matt McGrory – 4. Malcolm Rosas Jr

IN: Jeromy Lucas, Braeden Campbell
OUT: Nicholas Brewer, James Peatling

Draft Central Power Rankings: July 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the third edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we have compiled our top 30 players at this stage of the year. So much changes over the next 12 months, with only bottom-age form and the first couple of months of the seasons to go by so far. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs. In July, despite the list extended out to our top 30, there are still a number of prospects knocking on the door. For our June monthly rankings, check out this link.

#1 Matthew Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

June Ranking: #1

Last month: Rowell was a standout performer for Vic Metro in the AFL Under 18 Championships to no-one’s surprise. While many teammates could not lift in the opening two games, Rowell was a steady force for the Metro team and continued his form throughout the four matches. He averaged 24.8 disposals, 5.0 marks and 0.8 goals at the carnival and it is hard to see him displaced from the top spot on the list.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

June Ranking: #2

Last month: Much like Rowell, Anderson has not lowered his colours over the national carnival, being another standout performer with Rowell and Fischer McAsey for Vic Metro. In the four matches, Anderson has averaged 23.5 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.8 tackles and 0.5 goals. Expect him to finish the year strongly in the NAB League once returning from his Carey Grammar duties.

#3 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

June Ranking: #3

Last month: We had him up in the region for some time but his national carnival pushed his name into lights as a potential contender for Pick 1, and along with Lachlan Ash as one of the most damaging ball users in the draft crop. In three games, Young has averaged 22.0 disposals, 5.7 marks and 5.0 rebounds. He is more of an offensive defender, laying just the 1.3 tackles, but is strong one-on-one and knows how to intercept both in the air or at ground level.

#4 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. He will be a massive chance for the Morrish Medal if he stays fit, and is a crucial part of the Murray Bushrangers outfit. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

June Ranking: #4

Last month: Ash had another terrific carnival game against South Australia, setting up the kick to Brodie Kemp for the winning goal. He has averaged 23.3 disposals, 5.3 marks, 3.3 inside 50s and 4.0 rebounds, getting up the ground and having an influence as well. A great choice for a team looking for that half-back with a deadly boot and terrific decision making skills under pressure.

#5 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

June Ranking: #6

Last month: Moves up into number five on our rankings because of his consistency through the midfield. Stepped up to be one of the dominant Vic Country midfielders, and his hands in close are every bit as good as anyone else, and he has a match-winning ability. Needs to iron out his set shots which can be inconsistent, but in terms of his talent, it is untapped and could have a higher ceiling than most. Averaging 22.0 disposals, 4.3 marks, 6.0 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and 0.7 goals per game.

#6 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

June Ranking: #5

Last month: After a quiet couple of games earlier in the carnival by his standards, Green was back to his best against Vic Metro and really stood tall in the narrow two-point win at GMHBA Stadium. In his three games, Green has averaged 24.0 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.0 inside 50s and 3.7 tackles, but most importantly, is averaging almost seven clearances per game. He is the inside distributor who the GWS GIANTS will have to fork out a pretty penny to match.

#7 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

June Ranking: #8

Last month: One of the leading contenders for the Larke Medal should he play another blinder against Western Australia at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday. He has moved up a spot on our rankings and is averaging the third most dispsoals behind Deven Robertson and Harry Schoenberg at the championships.  This carnival he has averaged 26.0 disposals, 6.0 clearances, 3.7 inside 50s, 2.0 tackles, 1.0 goals and a massive 7.7 tackles. He can win the ball inside or out and despite his size has plenty to like.

#8 Mitch O’Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Outside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

June Ranking: #13

Last month: Overcoming a pesky ankle injury, O’Neill produced two best-on-ground performances for the Allies in their losses, before being solid without being outstanding in the win over Vic Metro. His ball use is what sets him aside from many other prospects, and while he does not always rack up the numbers others do, he rarely wastes a disposal. Has averaged 21.7 disposals, 7.0 marks and 3.7 rebounds at the championships, often playing in the defensive half of the ground. Could play as a running defender or as a winger at the top level, with his lighter frame used more as an outside player rather than inside one.

#9 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

June Ranking: #15

Last month: One of a number of bolters up the draft board for this month, the hero from Vic Country’s win over South Australia makes it into the top 10. Kemp played his first full game in the midfield for the championships after spending the first couple of matches in defence. Kemp has that nice size of 192cm that makes him a prospect with good upside given nice athletic traits and a clutch ability (winning a high-level game with the final kick). He has averaged 21.0 disposals, 7.0 marks, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 clearances across his three games at the championships.

#10 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings, but I rate him as the standout tall in the draft. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendancies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

June Ranking: #9

Last month: After a quiet game against Vic Metro in South Australia’s loss, Gould was one of the Croweaters’ best in their one-point defeat at the hands of Vic Country. Gould was almost the hero with a last quarter goal showing his ability to sum up the game and his burst through the middle and long-range goal came at a crucial time. Readymade player with his strength and size, and has averaged 20.3 disposals, 6.3 rebounds and 4.0 marks in his three games at the carnival.

#11 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

June Ranking: #12

Last month: A mixed bag for the national carnival, had one impressive game, one disappointing game and one strong game form his three matches thus far. He still moves up one spot from last month, and when given time and space can be very damaging. Like O’Neill, Stephens is still lightly built and has been used as an outside midfielder, avearging 20.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.7 tackles and 3.7 inside 50s.

#12 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required. He might play more of an inside role at the National Championships, but South Australia will be keen to give him time and space to impact the contest best.

June Ranking: #14

Last month: Arguably South Australia’s most consistent player in the three games thus far along with Harry Schoenberg, Mead has every chance to be the first South Australian picked in this year’s AFL Draft. Port Adelaide fans will be keen to keep him under wraps, but Mead has averaged 21.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3,7 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 5.7 tackles in the carnival so far and moves up two spots in our rankings to follow two of his South Australian compatriots.

#13 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

June Ranking: #12

Last month: After a quiet first game in the AFL Under 18 National Championships, Bianco has put together a few strong performances. He has been utilised as more of a winger, which has benefited him, averaging 18.5 disposals. 4.3 marks, 3.8 clearances, 3.8 inside 50s and 3.0 tackles. Predominantly outside, Bianco’s next step would be his defensive capabilities as a way to grow further, but he is still quite light compared to other players.

#14 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

June Ranking: #10

Last month: The exciting medium forward has been battling injury and form on and off this season and while he has shown glimpses, has not lived up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. He is still a natural match-winner, and one can expect with a good finals series in the NAB League that Williams could be similar to others before him (think Tim Taranto) and shoot up into the top 10 calculations – which he would be considered in for upside. 

#15 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitment machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

June Ranking: #11

Last month: Similar to Williams, Taheny has also had injury concerns and has not been able to dominate to this stage, but still has plenty of tricks in his arsenal. In South Australia’s final game at Marvel Stadium, Taheny could be one who gets off the leash and announces himself as a genuine top 10 prospect with a big game. Huge celing for the general forward.

#16 Fischer McAsey

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender
11/04/2001 | 195cm | 86kg

Fischer McAsey is a key position defender who has played up the attacking end in previous years. He has found his place in the defence in 2019. and seems to be a settled player there not only doing well for Sandringham Dragons and at Caulfield Grammar, but stepping up for Vic Metro at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He is considered one of the draft bolters this season, with not too many key position talls jumping up, McAsey is a player who is firmly putting his hand up as a top 10 prospect should his form continue, and he has plenty of traits to like. His intercept marking, athleticism and ball use by foot is very solid and does not have too many weaknesses across the board.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: The draft bolter of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, McAsey earned the title of Vic Metro’s Most Valuable Player (MVP)  for his work in defence. In his four games, McAsey has averaged 14.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 tackles, not only nullifying his direct opponent, but creating offensive run out of defence.

#17 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

June Ranking: #23

Last month: Class with a capital ‘C’. Rivers is a big-bodied midfielder who uses it well on the inside or outside , and has been utilised as a winger or off half-back for the Sandgropers at the national carnival. It has allowed Rivers to use his precise decision making and foot skills to be advantage his team, and in the three games thus far, has averaged 22.3 disposals, 5.3 marks, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 tackles. Does not need many touches to impact a contest.

#18 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College and Vic Metro before returning to the Dragons for the finals series.

June Ranking: #16

Last month: A hard player to place because he could be a top 10 pick on his best days, which he has shown capable of being just that at both ends. For Vic Metro he has filled the void up forward, booting seven goals from his first three games before going kickless in the last match against the Allies. In the national carnival he averaged 10.8 disposals and 3.8 marks, but could be an attractive prospect to clubs at either end.

#19 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

June Ranking: #17

Last month: The tackling machine has averaged two more tackles per game than any other player at the AFL Under 18 National Championships, laying a massive 9.7 across his three matches. He has played on the outside, and while he has not racked up massive numbers (13.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s), he has a high work rate and rarely makes too many mistakes. Has dropped two places only due to others pushing a case ahead of him.

#20 Cody Weightman

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Forward
15/01/2001 | 177cm | 73kg

For the first two months of our Power Rankings, the electric small forward has been on the periphery of making it, and after a terrific national carnival – where he booted four goals in two of his three games – Weightman makes it into the Power Rankings in July. He has a high ceiling given he can create goals out of nothing and score from general play or set shots and has a powerful kicking action to boot. Just 177cm and 73kg, Weightman is another light prospect who has plenty of development left in him. Could be another player who lights up NAB League finals as he is a big game player.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: After four goals in two of his three national championship games, Weightman slots into the top 20. There is not much of him, but he is likely to win the leading goalkicker award for the carnival , and has averaged 13.3 disposals, 4.7 marks and 3.0 inside 50s in his three games with one to go. Weightman will be keen to finish off on the right note in the final game at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday against Western Australia.

#21 Liam Henry

Claremont/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder/Forward
28/08/2001 | 179cm | 67kg

A member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy, Henry is another lightly built midfielder who can go forward and impact a game inside 50. Henry has nice skills and slick athletic traits that help him work his way out of congestion while making good decisions with ball-in-hand. He does need to find a bit more of the football at times which is the next step, but he is a player who will rarely waste a possession and one who Fremantle fans would be excited to have on their list. Still has scope to develop further, and grow into his body at just 67kg and another sub-180cm midfielder. One who would be keen to finish off the year strongly – although perhaps Fremantle would prefer he kept it in check. A highly talented player.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been solid in the AFL Under 18 National Championships, averaging 15.0 disposals, 5.0 marks, 3.7 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and 1.0 goals per game from his first three matches. He could be one who thrives at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday in the final game of the championships when the Sandgropers play for the title against Vic Country. Another player some clubs might rate really highly depending on needs and where they see his scope for potential.

#22 Jack Mahony

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Small Forward/Midfielder
12/11/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

One of the top performed and highly rated players at Under-15 level, Jack Mahony remains a top prospect despite others putting their hand up since. He might only stand at 176cm, but the Sandringham Dragons midfielder/forward has plenty to like about what he can offer to an AFL club. His kicking is as good as anyone in the draft crop, but more for his vision and decision making more so than a penetrating boot like others. He is a unique playmaker in the sense that he can set others up inside 50 with centimetre-perfect passes to leading teammates over any distance. Has more impact in the forward half, particularly as the player with the last disposal going inside 50. Hits the scoreboard himself as well which is important, and can run all day through the midfield if need be, though his size may limit him at the elite level.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Mahony has stepped up at the AFL Under 18 National Championships, playing consistently across the board, but impressing in the final game at GMHBA Stadium last Friday. He was one of Metro’s best, booting three goals – including two in the final term – and setting up countless others for teammates with his swift decision making and ball use in the forward half. In his four games for Metro, Mahony averaged 18.0 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s and 2.8 clearances, as well as averaging a goal per game. He loves the contested stuff, winning the ball at the coalface more than half of the time.

#23 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

June Ranking: #20

Last month: The standout ruck across the AFL Under 18 National Championships, averaging a massive 36.7 hitouts as well as 13.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 3.0 tackles and 4.3 clearances. While smaller players have knocked him down a couple of players in these rankings, the athletic tall is almost certain to be named All-Australian ruck as the only pure ruck to be averaging double-figure disposals at the carnival. Like with most big men, he could be a draft bolter, or slide, depending on team preferences.

#24 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

June Ranking: #18

Last month: Sharp will be keen to bounce back with a good performance after a bit of inconsistency by foot in Western Australia’s win over the Allies. He creates space and can be penetrating when given the area to do so. He averaged 21.3 disposals, 4.0 marks, 2.0 clearances and 2.0 rebounds, as well as booting a couple of goals in his first three games. Will be a key runner at Marvel Stadium for Western Australia if they can get up, and burst onto the scene at that very venue last year, making the All Australian side as a bottom-ager.

#25 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

The Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3 and will miss a few months, hoping to return in time for a big second half of the year. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month.  Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions. The question mark will be how he returns from his injury, but with the injury not being season-ending, expect him to come back and be a crucial player in the final couple of months for the Falcons.

June Ranking: #19

Last month: Has been injured, but was named vice-captain of Vic Country despite not being able to play in the national championships. Might slide over the next month, but hopefully will remind recruiters of his talent later in the year.

#26 Will Day

West Adelaide/South Australia | General Defender
17/01/2001 | 187cm | 70kg

The underrated South Australian utility has been one of the big improvers this season, showing off some nice signs at school football and then South Australia at the AFL Under 18 National Championships. Like Weightman, Day has been on the periphery of our Power Rankings the past two months, and after some solid performances at the national carnival, makes the list for July. Day has shown signs similar to last year’s bolter, Jez McLennan who had a good carnival and emerged as a top 30 prospect with nice foot skills and composure. Day can kick on either side of his body and is a good size at 187cm despite still being very light at 70kg.

June Ranking: #19

Last month: A promising start to the national carnival for Day, playing all three games and destined to play at Marvel Stadium against the Allies on Wednesday. He has averaged 18.3 disposals, 4.7 marks and 3.8 rebounds, using the ball wisely while remaining composed in defence. Could build on the defensive side of his game – averaging just the one tackle per game so far – but has some really damaging offensive traits that catch the eye.

#27 Darcy Cassar

Western Jets/Vic Metro | General Utility
31/07/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

As a bottom-ager last year, Cassar thrived as a half-forward/wing who would move the ball in transition and show power in his running to be able to impact for his side going inside 50. He is capable of hitting the scoreboard while playing in the forward half, but as he has shown so far in season 2019, he is just as adaptable in defence. Cassar has spent the season in the backline for the Western Jets, averaging a massive 28.2 disposals, 6.8 marks and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has added that element to his game, and expect him to be a versatile player at the national championships for Vic Metro, playing up whichever end is required of him, while also being able to play in the midfield.

June Ranking: #22

Last month: Has not had the greatest of national carnivals, ending up missing out on the final game after averaging 16.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 3.0 inside 50s and booting just the one goal playing forward – that came in the first match against Vic Country. Still making the list on potential and upside, Cassar will be keen to finish off the year strong and show the signs he was showing pre-championships in defence for the Western Jets.

#28 Kysaiah Pickett

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 170cm | 68kg

Arguably the most naturally gifted player in the draft, the nephew of Port Adelaide and North Melbourne premiership player Byron, is small in stature but big on X-factor and his ability to do the impossible. He is clean at ground level, has high-level goal sense, and despite being so lightly built, was able to force his way into the Woodville-West Torrens League side courtesy of a massive six-goal game against North Adelaide in the first round of the SANFL Reserves competition. Adds an extra dimension to the South Australian forward line and will be one that could light up the big stage over the next month.

June Ranking: #24

Last month: Another player who has class with a capital ‘C’ and was a point of difference in South Australia’s dogged win over Western Australia in Round 1 of the championships, booting the goal of the carnival with clean hands and unbelievable skill from the tighest of angles. He missed the Round 4 game against Vic Country after being suspended for a game following the Vic Metro match, but will return for South Australia’s final game against the Allies on Wednesday. He is not a huge accumulator of the footy – just averaging the 9.5 disposals, 2.0 mark and 2.5 tackles but he does not need much of the football to be a damaging prospect inside 50.

#29 Nick Bryan

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

The super athletic ruck has come on in leaps and bounds this year, and posts a 2.91-second 20m sprint and 78cm running vertical leap, making him an elite speedster, let alone for his size. He has not spent as much time in the elite system with the AFL Academy as others, and still needs to keep building his tank, but Bryan has a huge upside, which is what will attract recruiters to him. He is also capable of going forward and impacting the scoreboard when required, and was plucked out to play in the AFL Academy game against Casey Demons, taking on mature-aged rucks and holding his own. At 202cm, he is the right size for a ruck, and could well be the first ruck chosen this year, depending on how he and Luke Jackson go at the national championships.

June Ranking: #21

Last month: Is rated on upside because of the rarity of his athletic traits for a 202cm ruck to be able to run as quick as he can. Bryan has a really high ceiling for clubs to develop, but slots in as the number two ruck behind Luke Jackson at the championships. Has been okay without being overly impressive, but has still managed 22.0 hitouts from 9.3 disposals and 2.5 marks. Heads back to school footy and will be keen to assert himself in the NAB League once back in the competition.

#30 Finn Maginness

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
23/02/2001 | 187cm | 80kg

The underrated midfielder missed out on being included in the State Victorian Metro Academy, but has not let that get him down, performing strongly across the NAB League and school seasons, and working his way up the boards with some strong performances against the best players around the country. He has a nice sidestep that can get him out of trouble and wins a lot of the ball in close, with a few areas to iron out such as his kicking, but he has some great developing traits and plenty of future development. Most importantly, he can win the ball on the inside and extract it out, but can also play an outside role too.

June Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been one of the most noticeable players at the national carnival behind the big two midfielders of Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson. Maginness has averaged 18.3 disposals, 3.5 marks, 7.5 tackles, 3.8 clearances and 4.3 inside 50s across the four games at the carnival, and is one of the most prolific tacklers showing a strong defensive side.

Names to watch:

 

Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia)

The massive ball-winning midfielder from Western Australia has been a dominant force in the AFL Under 18 National Championships. He has averaged 30.7 disposals, 5.0 marks, 6.3 tackles, 4.3 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s and 4.3 rebounds in his three games across the carnival. He still has areas to tidy up such as kicking under pressure, but could be one who rises up the boards with another strong performance against Vic Country and finishing off the year strong in the WAFL.

Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Clearly possesses high-level talent, Phillips just needs to take hold of a game and put together a performance he has been building in the NAB League. He has quite a few nice traits and has plenty of X-factor inside 50, he has just been overshadowed by the likes of Weightman at the national championships. He will still be firmly in recruiters’ minds with a strong finish to the NAB League Boys season where he could stake a case to be the leading goalkicker for the competition there.

Harry Schoenberg (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

One of those players who has risen up thanks to strong performances across the championships and will be keen to continue that form in the final game against the Allies on Wednesday. Works hard on the inside and is a handball-first midfielder out to teammates running on the outside, having averaged 27 disposals in his three games so far for South Australia.

Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia)

Taylor has X-factor and plenty of scope for the future as a medium forward. He always looks damaging when in possession and a worry for opposition defenders when not in possession. He is still raw compared to other forwards, but his ceiling is quite high and no doubt clubs will keep him on their radar.

Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

Makes the list based on his traits that would be attractive to clubs. Not a huge ball winner, Cumberland has terrific closing speed and can burst away from stoppages, whilst also applying plenty of defensive pressure with a terrific tackling technique. Cumberland laid a match-winning tackle against Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium on Friday, and can play anywhere on the field with scope for the future.

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – Vic Country vs. South Australia

VIC Country kept its perfect 2019 National Championships record in tact with a heart-stopping one-point win over South Australia at on Sunday. We were on hand at GMHBA Stadium to note the standouts from either side – and there were plenty – with the opinion-based notes that of each individual writer.

Vic Country:
By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Caleb Serong

Again led from the front for Country, posting fantastic numbers as a constant in the midfield. Serong showcased his inside qualities, making up for a lack of height with his clear strength and intensity around the ball to prize out 10 clearances in all areas of the ground. Given over half of his possessions were contested, Serong’s kicking was compensated at times with some clearing balls skidding along the turf and others ending in turnovers or throw-ins. Still has obvious class though and looks neat with more high percentage kicks, but had a bit of a down day in that area. That still doesn’t take away from his outstanding performance, and he could have ended up with a couple of goals to cap off the display had quick snaps had he put away some his quick chances. Just works so hard and looks tireless, making him a reliable commodity with good versatility.

#3 Cody Weightman

The livewire Stingrays small forward was electric once again for Country, posting his second four-goal haul of the carnival. He is just so dynamic inside 50, hunting the ball and his opponents at ground level, while also flying hight to compound the threats he presented. Weightman’s desperation showed, as he was simply more hungry for the ball in an aerial duel against three opponents in the first term, bringing it to ground. His first goal came with a straightforward mark on the lead and set shot conversion, backing it up with a more typical finish over the back just before the quarter time siren to have two early on. While he looked most likely inside 50, Weightman did well to also find the ball up the ground as the game progressed, but ran forward hard to get free once again. He snared a third goal in the second term with a clever steal in the goalsquare, and added a fourth after half time with a left-footed snap, while also almost producing another highlight as he smothered and hit the post with the ball he won in the final term. Really rising among the small forward stocks.

#4 Sam Flanders

Was brilliant again through the midfield alongside partner-in-crime, Caleb Serong. Has real athleticism and burst at the stoppages to go with his clean hands, allowing him to provide real drive going forward – as shown in his 10 inside 50 entries. Spent some time forward where he looked just as comfortable, using his sizeable leap to mark well overhead and get to a number of contests. A finished product was the only thing lacking for Flanders in those stints, but he did find the goals in the final term with a neat checkside conversion from his holding the ball free kick. Has really adapted well to his midfield minutes and it looks a primary role for him now, with so many weapons to turn to athletically and skill-wise.

#6 Riley Baldi

Was not as prolific in terms of ball-winning as he has been lately, but still made a steady contribution when running through the engine room. Is a hard worker at the stoppages with his willingness to run both ways – tackling well when he isn’t scooting away with ball in hand and onto his left foot. Initially caught the eye with a tackling effort on the wing to earn a free kick, and then started the second half brightly with the first clearance as he moved into the centre bounce. Continued to accumulate from there, and popped up again in the final quarter with a precise kick inside 50 to find Lachie Williams – which is something he seems to have added to his arsenal.

#9 Isaac Wareham

The Rebels defender proved to be a shrewd inclusion for Country, adding to the class across their back six despite not being a huge ball winner. Wareham’s point of difference to his aerially-apt teammates is his ground-level game, mopping the ball up well with clean hands and flicking it on quickly to alleviate any previous danger. Had some nice moments in the final term as he came into the game with some dashing bursts forward, proving an effective mover of the ball out of the defensive half and one-touch below his knees.

#12 Lachlan Ash

It was a typical day out for the Country co-captain, gaining serious meterage with his line-breaking speed and elite kicking skills. Ash’s impact early on came in the air with superior reading of the ball in flight to intercept, recovering well on one occasion as he spilt the mark to move forward. He had a hand in Cody Weightman’s late goal in the first term with a run from half back, which proved a sign of things to come. Ash would go on to accumulate well across half back – positioning smartly, swooping on ground balls, and zipping through traffic at speed to release long balls into Country’s attacking half. His previous work culminated in a couple of unreal plays in the final term, with the first a three-bounce run which he couldn’t quite finish off from 50m. The second proved a game-winner, as Ash backed himself to take on an opponent on defensive wing, burn him off through the corridor and deliver a pin-point pass to Brodie Kemp inside 50 with two opponents closing fast. Ash’s ability to take on such responsibility and create the chance was incredibly impressive, and makes him a real leader.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was one who popped up in patches throughout the game despite consistently featuring at stoppages, catching the eye most as he broke from congestion. Is really starting to come into his own in the midfield, with a strong athletic base boding well for his breakaway traits and bursts forward. The kick on the end of such plays was the only slight issue with Rantall’s game, spearing a couple of stray passes going inside 50 despite looking stylish while delivering at full stride. One of those kicks across the 50 arc ended up coming off as Cody Weightman found the goals, and Rantall almost booted his own major in the third term on the run. Has so much upside and a wealth of nice traits, making him a prospect who is easy on the eye but still developing.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Was the hero of the day, slotting an ice-cool set shot with the last kick of the game to give Country a miraculous win. While Kemp’s strong overhead mark and clinical conversion was the talking point at the final siren, he had already proved his worth earlier in the day. The big-bodied Bendigo product finally enjoyed an extended run through the midfield and was even used forward on the back of his strong overhead capabilities, amassing 27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, and four inside 50s. Kemp’s cleanliness in snapping up the ball and using it by foot made him so effective early on as he accumulated strongly, working well at stoppages and linking into the forward arc in general play. He just seemed to get into the right spots and made the most of each touch, exemplified best with his game-winning play. Will be moving up draft boards on the back of his versatility and one-touch ability, and will look to finish off the carnival strongly on Wednesday.

#17 Hayden Young

Was one of Young’s quieter games given the lofty standard he has already set, but he still managed to get his rebound game going and won a good amount of ball. The Stingrays product positioned well inside defensive 50 to get on the last line, and worked hard to find space after delivering kick-ins. His kicking game is usually arguably the best of anyone in this year’s draft pool, but Young tended to more often play the percentages with his long-range kicks down the line or into space – showing good decision making but not necessarily always hitting a direct target. You always sensed that Young was hanging around when a Country player marked at half forward, wanting the hand-off to launch a bomb towards goal. He managed to get a couple, but they didn’t quite come off with one shot being smothered straight off the boot. A solid outing, and hardly made a mistake as per usual.

#24 Brock Smith

Smith was ultra-impressive deep inside defensive 50, intercepting well in the air with good judgement while also mopping up the ground balls. He hardly loses a one-on-one, backing up much of the niggle he engages in with his direct opponents as a typical defender. Smith was also composed in possession, using the ball efficiently by foot from defensive 50 and just seems to be a really calm outlet for whichever side he plays in. An important part of a very talented Country back six, providing physical presence and good defensive traits on top of his skill.

#36 Sam De Koning

De Koning was fantastic in the air as a permanent key defender, leaping to intercept almost everything that came his way – whether it was through strong marking or an assured fist. The dynamic tall was as competitive as I’ve seen throughout his top-age year, closing quickly on opponents and leaping well to get to contests he had no right to. Looks to have finally found his position having been tried up forward and through the ruck, with his reading of the play and athleticism making him one of the more exciting key defenders this year.

#40 Charlie Comben

Took on his usual duties in the ruck, winning a game-high 22 hitouts. Comben has been somewhat of a surprise packet during the carnival, and continued his form with some solid contested marks and competitive follow-up work. Showed his marking traits off early with a nice overhead clunk on the lead up to his forward 50, followed by another up the other end from a kick-in. With his aerial prowess in mind, Comben also positoned a kick behind the play on his forward 50 arc for the rushed rebound kick, despite it not coming off on numerous occasions. Capped off a decent day with a terrific chase on Corey Durdin to halt an exciting run and effect the bottom-ager’s shot on goal.

South Australia:
By: Craig Byrnes

#7 Dylan Stephens

A solid outing by the highly rated wingman, who did most of his good work on the outside of the contest. He has some class with the footy and can move through congestion with ease. He was able to run and carry forward of centre, particularly early, highlighted by a brilliant goal in the first term which he calmly slotted after running and bouncing at speed. He has some genuine composure, but perhaps tries to take on to much by foot on occasions and was one of many victims of the skinny GMHBA Stadium boundaries throughout the day by kicking it out on the full in the third term. Stephens finished the day with 20 disposals.

#10 Josh Shute

Another South Australian wingman with some impressive outside tricks who is a lovely modern size at 187cm. Shute caught the eye early with an outstanding smother in the first term which he followed up to collect and kick inside 50 to a dangerous position. He is a one touch player and clean under pressure, but the attribute that’s really exciting is his willingness to take on his opponent. He had multiple moments throughout the day where he’d use a simple side step or candy sell to make the opposition over commit and he was off in no time. He worked hard to create an option in space too, taking 10 marks. While he still has some work defensively, Shute’s 19 disposals had impact.

#12 Will Day

Despite a light 70kg frame, Day is a real goer who will throw his body toward the ball in any situation. He started really well, attacking the in dispute footy and rebounding with penetration. He is equally capable in the air as he is on the ground, creating the flexibility to play on different sized players in the back half. His seven rebound 50s were an equal match high, but he also managed to link further up the ground and find the ball forward of centre. A rangy type who is really starting to win some admirers, he ended the day with 24 disposals.

#15 Harry Schoenberg

This guy is having an outstanding individual tournament and is flying under the radar to an extent. He set the tone for South Australia in the first term, winning 12 disposals and while 10 were handballs, his touches were relevant. He is really clean inside and has sharp hands, perfectly shown in the first term when he executed a fast link up escape in the defensive 50. He is quicker than he looks and possesses some explosive attributes to evade tackles, giving a “don’t argue” fend and hip flick in the term third to get away from an opponent. He finished the day with a team high 32 disposals and six clearances to again be one of South Australia’s better performers.

#18 Jackson Mead

The Port Adelaide father/son prospect produced a real eye catching match, getting involved during defining moments and lifting when the game was on the line. He was clean on the inside and influential on the spread, showcasing both elements in the first half when he won a clearance, carried the ball and superbly hit a target inside 50. He ran both ways, helping the defensive unit when he could and getting in dangerous positions in the front half. He went up a gear in the final term kicking two goals, the first a superb bending snapped finish that got the South Australians up and about. 22 disposals, four clearances and scoreboard impact meant that Mead was arguably one of the most influential players on the day.

#19 Luke Edwards

The son of former Adelaide champion Tyson, Luke is a potential father/son option for next year, but speculation continues to grow that he may opt to nominate for the open draft. With plenty to play out until then, the talented bottom ager is currently playing some outstanding footy and looking like being one of the better 2020 prospects. He again found himself behind the ball on Friday, intercepting, rebounding and often starting dangerous scoring chains. He took an excellent intercept mark in the third term which set up a goal for his team at a vital time. Edward’s ended the game with 23 disposals and is looking more comfortable with every game.

#20 Lachlan McNeil

An inside midfielder who does a lot of heavy work at ground contests, both offensively and defensively. He puts his head over the ball and fights, ensuring that he has a physical impact with or without the ball. While he isn’t the prettiest player in the South Australian side, you know what you are going to get and I suspect Tony Bamford would lock him in to complete his role successfully every game. He is solid overhead too, taking an excellent mark under pressure in the defensive 50 during the tense third term. A solid return again, finishing the game with 23 disposals, six tackles and three clearances.

#24 Will Gould

The intercept defender with the thick set and booming right foot is well on track to become a dual All Australian, after producing a near best on ground performance against Vic Country. It is the first time I’ve seen him live and boy does he provide a physical, almost scary presence when the ball is in his area. He controlled the back half with his ability to read the play and make smart decisions to pick the ball off at will to win 26 disposals. In the second term he competed for a difficult aerial contest and despite being out of position, won the ground ball to highlight his determination. Gould had some huge moments in defence during that manic fourth term, but with the game on the line he managed to win the ball forward of centre and give South Australia the lead with a brilliant running goal from just inside the arc in the final minutes. Vic Country ultimately got that goal back to win, but Gould gave recruiters the best evidence possible that he is a big moment star.

#33 Dyson Hilder

Another South Australian defender who had a large say, the 196cm key position player continues to gain fans with his consistent performances. While he dropped a mark he would usually take in the first term, he barely made another error for the rest of the day. He reads the drop of the ball so quickly, often coming off his man or using excellent body work to protect the position he wants to be. He out bodied the much heavier Josh Smith on multiple occasions and was so calm in difficult situations late in the game. He took some great intercept marks when his side really needed it and made great decisions by foot too. You get the feeling he is one of the best KPDs available in 2019.

#35 Karl Finlay

The South Australian defensive unit is really well credentialed and Finlay was another to impress at GMHBA Stadium on Friday afternoon. Finlay is a little shorter than your modern key position type at 192cm, but he has the flexibility to play on smaller players and is loves to have a say aerially. He really lifted in the second half, taking multiple contested intercept marks and complimented, Gould, Hilder, Edwards, Day and the like perfectly. He flies under the radar a tad like a few South Australians, but he just continues to tick so many boxes.

Country gets home with last kick of the day

A BRODIE Kemp goal in the dying seconds has helped Vic Country remain alive in the AFL Under 18 National Championships competition, defeating South Australia by a solitary point and ending their opponent’s dream of back-to-back national titles. While Country went into the match undefeated and South Australia at 1-1 after dropping a game to Vic Metro, Country needed to win otherwise there was danger of losing the title under the head-to-head rule. It was a see-sawing contest that looked to be in South Australia’s clutches at one stage, particularly when Croweaters’ captain Will Gould had enough of the arm-wrestle and burst off half-back, charged down the middle to half-forward and launched a ripping goal in the dying minutes to put the visitors in front. It took an equally special play from the Country side – starting with Harrison Pepper at half-back winning a crucial contest, to the slick Lachlan Ash in the midfield, pin-pointing an elite kick forward which saw Kemp lunge in from the side and hold it. Taking time off the clock with the set shot, the fate of Vic Country’s title hopes effectively rested on the kick, which Kemp duly delivered from about 50m and saw the home side get up 9.9 (63) to 9.8 (62).

Earlier, South Australia’s top-10 hopeful Dylan Stephens got his side off to the perfect start with a terrific running goal to get the visiting fans up and about in the opening term. The red-hot form of Cody Weightman continued with the exciting Dandenong Stingrays’ forward looking dangerous every time he went near it, combining well with fellow Stingray, Ned Cahill inside 50, and capitalising with two majors. The Gippsland Power brigade of Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders and Brock Smith were superb in the opening term, combining for 24 disposals, while Ash was already having an impact through his slick kicking. Harry Schoenberg‘s ripping form at the carnival continued, extracting the ball from the inside and getting it out, picking up a game-high 12 disposals in the first quarter, while Gould and Jackson Mead were able to execute well with nine touches a piece.

The second term saw South Australia start with more flair as bottom-age talent Corey Durdin and Josh Morris booted goals to help the Croweaters to a little break. Once again, it was the likes of Flanders and Serong who answered the call, with Flanders picking up 11 disposals in the term, and missing a great chance at goal, while Serong was dominating around the stoppages with six clearances to his name by the main break – three more than any other player on the field. Weightman was again causing headaches when he converted his third, while Cahill and potential top five pick next year, Elijah Hollands got in on the party with majors. Country had all the momentum heading into the break, while Schoenberg (19 disposals, three clearances) was a standout for the South Australians, as was Gould and Will Day.

The third quarter saw South Australia again get back on top before Country reeled them in with a late goal, as Durdin booted his second, and Jordan O’Brien and Daniel Sladojevic also converted majors, with Josh Smith‘s late goal crucial for the one side to remain in touch at the final break, just one point behind. Another 10 disposals to Serong in the term saw the Power midfielder looking towards his biggest numbers, while Kemp and Hayden Young were having impact around the ground, particularly coming off half-back. Sam De Koning‘s defensive work outside the stats sheet – including spoils and blocks – were as important as his intercept marking, while up the other end, South Australian tall duo of Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay were intercepting everything that came their way. It allowed Gould to run off and create passages of play up the ground, while bottom-ager Luke Edwards showed his class as one of the bigger ball winners on the day, and Lachlan McNeil was crucial with quick hands in congestion, as Josh Shute was caused all sorts of issues along the wing.

The final quarter was a nail-biting contest that looked to be going one way then the other, and after an arm-wrestle for the majority, the last few minutes were electrifying. Both sides found their range with Country booting 3.3 to South Australia’s 3.1 after having kicked a combined 12.13 in the first three quarters. Mead had a huge last quarter in the forward half, converting two goals to keep his side in it. The passage of play that saw Gould launch from 50 had the visiting fans up and about with the captain mobbed by teammates believing that had won with only a couple of minutes left. South Australia were able to do the majority of the attacking for the last couple of minutes, with Pepper’s ability to get it to Ash who had the audacity to sidestep and opponent, buy himself time and deliver under pressure to a perfect position for Kemp being the difference. With the weight of his state on his shoulders, Kemp would have received a big tick from recruiters to take all the time off the clock then go back and nail the set shot to help Country to victory, with the siren going before another meaningful possession could occur.

Serong was best on ground for his 33 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles, 10 clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, while Flanders finished with 28 touches, seven marks, four tackles, three clearances, 10 inside 50s and one goal. Kemp’s heroics were far from the only impact he had for the day, racking up 27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, four inside 50s and that memorable goal, while Ash had 19 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds, working well with Young (18 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and seven rebounds), and Weightman finished with four goals for the second time this carnival. For South Australia, Schoenberg racked up another 32 disposals, five marks, six clearances, three tackles and three rebounds, while Gould had 26 disposals, five marks, three clearances, four inside 50s, five rebounds and that long range goal. Day helped himself to 24 disposals, five marks and seven rebounds in a promising performance off half-back, while Edwards (23 disposals, five marks, three rebounds), McNeil (23 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds), Mead (22 disposals, three marks, four clearances, four rebounds and his two last quarter goals) and Hilder (15 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds) were all strong among others in an even contribution for the visitors.

Vic Country now plays Western Australia for the title in the first game at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday, while South Australia wraps up its carnival with the game against the Allies after that.

VIC COUNTRY 2.2 | 5.3 | 6.6 | 9.9 (63)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.3 | 3.6 | 6.7 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:

Vic Country: Weightman 4, Flanders, Kemp, Cahill, J. Smith, Hollands.
South Australia: Mead 2, Durdin 2, Gould, Stephens, O’Brien, Sladojevic, Morris.

ADC BEST:

Vic Country: Serong, Flanders, Kemp, Weightman, Ash, De Koning
South Australia: Gould, Schoenberg, Hilder, Day, Mead, McNeil

Country looks to remain undefeated in Geelong double-header

GMHBA Stadium hosts Round 4 of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, as Vic Metro faces the winless Allies and the undefeated Vic Country hosts South Australia, while Western Australia will enjoy a bye. Find the full teams and a preview for both games below.

VIC METRO vs. ALLIES
Friday June 28, 10:30am
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Metro comes to Geelong looking to roll on with the same form that saw them pick up their first win for the carnival last time out, while the Allies’ search for the same feat continues. Much was made of Metro’s chances coming into the championships given their talent on paper, and while they have not quite lived up to the billing of favourites, the Oakleigh/Sandringham quartet of Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Josh Worrell, and Fischer McAsey has been terrific across each outing. Having previously been a case of too much from too few, Metro seemed to brake that mould against South Australia last week as Louis Butler and Lachie Potter held their dangerous forward opponents well, Trent Bianco and Jack Mahony won their fair share of the ball, and the inclusion of Emerson Jeka up forward proved more than handy as a key position target. Metro’s highly-touted ball winning capabilities will only be further strengthened in this game against a formidable Allies engine room, with Ryan Byrnes coming in after returning well from injury, Lachie Stapleton finally knocking down the selection door, and bottom-ager Will Phillips also getting his chance. The forward line balance looks much more settled too, with Dylan Williams coming back in and Jamieson Rossiter forming a solid tall partnership with Jeka.

The Allies will fancy their match-ups up forward, albeit with small stocks, as Suns Academy guns Josh Gore and Hewago Paul Oea proved their worth last week, while Braeden Campbell and Malcolm Rosas Jnr are also set to cause headaches in front of goal. Their midfield strength will also get a work-out, with Tom Green likely to duke it out with Anderson and Finn Maginness, while Mitch O’Neill could take on Rowell, and Ben Jungfer comes in for some depth. They will not be getting service from Sam Gaden like last week though, with over-age Murray ruck Ben Kelly coming in to fill the void alongside the undersized Jake Steele. The likes of Steele will certainly compete, which is something that the Allies had worked on given a much-improved effort against the fast finishing West Australian side. Greater efficiency in front of goal will be the test, and this classy Metro side will surely make them pay for any missed opportunities.

Look for the midfield battle to really take centre stage in this one, with Metro’s overall depth putting them in good stead coming into the clash.

TEAMS

Vic Metro:

B: 15. Louis Butler, 38. Brodie Newman, 26. Ryan Sturgess
HB: 18. Lachlan Potter, 29. Fischer McAsey, 5. Trent Bianco
C: 24. Noah Anderson (C), 25. Finn Maginness, 22. Miles Bergman
HF: 31. Joshua Worrell, 28. Jamieson Rossiter, 7. Lachlan Stapleton
F: 1. Jack Mahony, 36. Emerson Jeka, 23. Dylan Williams
R: 40. Nick Bryan, 11. Matthew Rowell, 12. Ryan Byrnes
Int: (from) 30. Harrison Jones, 13. Daniel Mott, 9. Will Phillips, 39. Jack Bell, 27. Oscar Lewis, 16. Darcy Cassar, 35. Nikolas Cox

Allies:

B: 21. Luke Parks, 52. Dirk Koenen, 8. Tom Griffiths
HB: 20. Matt McGrory, 26. Liam Delahunty, 24. Joel Jeffrey
C: 42. James Peatling, 3. Connor Budarick, 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 46. Noah Cumberland, 37. Joshua Gore, 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 32. Jake Steele, 31. Hamish Ellem, 36. Sam Thorne
R: 54. Ben Kelly, 22. Tom Green, 16. Ben Jungfer
Int: (from) 44. Nicholas Brewer, 5. Braeden Campbell, 12. Ashton Crossley, 1. Errol Gulden, 47. Jeromy Lucas, 15. Will Martyn, 4. Malcolm Rosas Jnr

VIC COUNTRY vs. SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Friday June 28, 1:00pm
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Country will look to keep its perfect record in tact in what is set to be a cracking match-up against South Australia to close out the day’s play. Country have been the surprise packet of the tournament thus far, with their obvious class and top-end talent being matched by the manic pressure and application of their depth players. Coming off a bye round, they will be hungry to claim a third-straight win and effectively clinch the championship title against the last year’s winners. A comprehensive win against the Allies last time out puts them in good stead, with a wealth of contributors putting their hands up on each line. Hayden Young and Lachie Ash have been terrific both in the air and by foot thus far down back, with Brodie Kemp another to contribute while mixing time in the midfield. Gippsland pair Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders have also been solid in the engine room. Goals from the likes of small forwards Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman will again be important, but one of the better aspects of Country’s performances has been the rise of some more unheralded names – with the likes of Brady Rowles, Riley Baldi, Jay Rantall, and Thomson Dow all poised to continue their solid form in this game.

Country’s free-scoring ways from Round 2 will not come as easily against a sturdy South Australian defence though, with Oliver Shaw returning from injury to add to a back six comprised of key performers in Will Gould, Will Day, Luke Edwards, and Karl Finlay. Their forward line looks a touch more dangerous despite having Kysaiah Pickett missing due to suspension, with the dynamic Cameron Taheny good to go after a corked thigh kept him out of last week’s squad, and Declan Carmody another who should add some class alongside bottom-age midfielder Corey Durdin – who slots into the forward pocket on his return. While the start to their title defence was ideal, a losing effort against the previously winless Vic Metro was not their best, and the likes of Jackson Mead and Harry Schoenberg will have to step up once again in the midfield, with Dylan Stephens one who can bounce back from a slightly down day. Simply competing will be key on the road against a Country side that will test them in the contest, so the Croweaters will need to be on their game if they are to keep their title defence alive.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 18. Brady Rowles, 36. Sam De Koning, 26. Jesse Clark
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash (C), 24. Brock Smith, 17. Hayden Young
C: 29. Lachlan Williams, 16. Brodie Kemp, 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill, 20. Elijah Hollands, 3. Cody Weightman
F: 19. Fraser Phillips, 39. Joshua Smith, 6. Riley Baldi
R: 40. Charlie Comben, 4. Sam Flanders, 2. Caleb Serong (C)
Int: (from) 8. Thomson Dow, 14. Liam Herbert, 37. Blake Kuipers, 10. Harrison Pepper, 13. Jay Rantall, 9. Isaac Wareham, 5. Cameron Wild

South Australia:

B: 19. Luke Edwards, 35. Karl Finlay, 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 24. Will Gould, 33. Dyson Hilder, 12. Will Day
C: 7. Dylan Stephens, 18. Jackson Mead, 10. Joshua Shute
HF: 23. Brady Searle, 9. Cameron Taheny, 14. Declan Carmody
F: 3. Corey Durdin, 32. Daniel Sladojevic, 17. Josh Morris
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows, 15. Harry Schoenberg, 20. Lachlan McNeil
Int: 4. Jordan O’Brien, 11. Callum Park, 28. Oliver Shaw, 42. Damon Freitag, 8. Jed McEntee, 31. Jordan Moore

BYE: Western Australia

WA and Allies ready for battle against Vics

WHILE the Vic Country-Vic Metro clash commenced the national championships last week, Round 1 officially begins this weekend as the same sides face off against the Allies and Western Australia respectively. Metro’s search for its first win will continue on Saturday at Lathlain Park in Western Australia, while the Allies will hope to bring a halt to Country’s momentum when they clash at UTAS Stadium in Launceston on Sunday.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA vs. VIC METRO
Lathlain Park – Saturday June 8, 10:00am

An exciting West Australian team hosts Vic Metro in the first of Round 1’s fixtures, looking to inflict further pain on the highly-fancied Victorians after they had no answers for their Country counterparts last week.

The Black Swans come in with a relatively small line-up, with their starting key position posts filled by players no taller than 192cm – barring the 198cm Luke Jackson at ruck. Speed will obviously be a key to their game, as they undoubtedly will look to emulate the pressure that Vic Country put on Metro to shut down their run and classy ball movers. Look for the likes of in-form East Fremantle products Trent Rivers and Jeremy Sharp to find plenty of the ball in linking up between half-back and the wing, with Rivers a chance to join skipper Deven Robertson – the nephew of Eagles champion Darren Glass – in the engine room to provide some physicality. X-factor will come from the likes of Jarvis Pina off half back, as well as Fremantle NGA prospect Liam Henry up the other end, who booted four goals in his last WAFL Colts outing.

The battle between Jackson and Metro’s Nick Bryan is arguably the most exciting of all across the field, as the two are currently the consensus leading ruck prospects. Bryan remains part of the all-Oakleigh followers line, with star Chargers Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell set to resume their partnership through the middle. The exclusion of Northern’s Adam Carafa is the only real change to the Metro midfield, but he does not necessarily have a like-for-like replacement amongst the five changes. Mitch Mellis earns his spot on the back of a 39-disposal performance, and will likely take Carafa’s place in the midfield/forward rotation, with outside mover Oscar Lewis also coming in for Josh Honey. Lewis’ Sandringham teammate Corey Watts will sure up the Metro defensive stocks in a key post, while James Ross also slots into the back six with Eastern teammate Connor Downie and Ryan Sturgess going the other way. Jack Bell is the other relatively straight-forward swap, coming in for fellow Dragons tall, Andrew Courtney.

It will be interesting to see whether this West Australian side can shut down Metro’s obvious outside class for a second week running, but the Victorians’ strength on paper suggests they will be hard to deny more than once. A sured-up defence will help their cause, and they have plenty of prospects who will be looking to rectify last week’s effort. For WA, their prime movers will look to announce themselves to the rest of the nation, and they will no doubt bring some excitement to this stage with plenty of flair.

Western Australia:

B: 20. Jaxon Prior – 21. Jake Pasini – 13. Ben Johnson
HB: 11. Jarvis Pina – 26. Trey Ruscoe – 35. Trent Rivers
C: 12. Regan Clarke – 10. Deven Robertson (C) – 17. Jeremy Sharp
HF: 34. Ryan Bennell – 19. Elijah Taylor – 3. Tyrone Thorne
F: 5. Liam Henry – 23. Nicholas Martin – 39. Callum Jamieson
R: 32. Luke Jackson – 14. Chad Warner – 4. Riley Garcia
Int: 36. Denver Grainger-Barras, 7. Nathan O’Driscoll, 28. Ryan Hudson, 24. Ronin O’Connor, 18. Jai Jackson, 27. Jack Buller, 6. Cameron Anderson

Vic Metro:

B: 38. Brodie Newman – 33. Corey Watts – 14. James Ross
HB: 15. Louis Butler – 29. Fischer McAsey – 5. Trent Bianco
C: 31. Joshua Worrell – 25. Finn Maginness – 22. Miles Bergman
HF: 16. Darcy Cassar – 30. Harrison Jones – 1. Jack Mahony
F: 2. Mitch Mellis – 34. Charlie Dean – 23. Dylan Williams
R: 40. Nick Bryan – 24. Noah Anderson (C) – 11. Matthew Rowell
Int: 39. Jack Bell, 27. Oscar Lewis, 13. Daniel Mott, 18. Lachlan Potter, 21. Hugo Ralphsmith
Emg: 26. Ryan Sturgess, 19. Josh Honey

In: Corey Watts (Sandringham), James Ross (Eastern), Mitch Mellis (Eastern), Jack Bell (Sandringham), Oscar Lewis (Sandringham)
Out: Ryan Sturgess (Northern – rotated), Josh Honey (Western – rotated), Adam Carafa (Northern – rotated), Andrew Courtney (Sandringham – rotated), Connor Downie (Eastern – rotated)


ALLIES vs. VIC COUNTRY
UTAS Stadium – Sunday June 9, 12:30pm

Vic Country will be looking to back up an incredible opening win over their Metro counterparts when they travel to Launceston to face the Allies.

The allied forces of each Northern academy and Tasmania are set to provide some stiff competition though, with a balanced midfield mix, zippy outside movers, and a couple of dynamic talls making up the 23. GWS inside gun Tom Green is set to lead the midfield brigade, with Brisbane skipper Will Martyn providing a mix of inside and outside traits, while Tasmania’s Mitch O’Neill looks set to feature on the outside. Diminutive Gold Coast leader Connor Budarick is the other who may feature through the midfield, but will get a shot on the flanks at either end first. Liam Delahunty and Hamish Ellem should create a formidable all-NSW key forward pairing, with both more than capable overhead and always a threat in front of goal. The Allies’ outside running types in the form of Sydney bottom-age pair Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden will also be key, while the Devils have a couple of bottom-aged representatives of their own; with Oliver Davis thrust onto a forward flank from midfield, and Sam Collins one to watch off half-back. There is one noticable absentee, with Hewago Paul Oea set to miss through injury – but the likes of Bruce Reville and Malcolm Rosas Jnr should provide enough cover.

While the versatility and run that the Allies side will bring should prove a handful, Country have already shown they can shut down such a style of play. Brodie Kemp firmed as an early candidate to tackle Green in the midfield but has been named in defence, with Gippsland pair Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong set to take on that load instead alongside Thomson Dow. Look for the damaging half-back pairing of Lachlan Ash and Hayden Young to again dominate, with Jesse Clark also set to take on an important role as Brock Smith comes out of the back six through injury. Lachlan Williams comes in to add even more speed on the outside for Country, joined by Cam Wild and Toby Mahony – who will both most likely spend time between the forward line and midfield. It will be a tough ask for Josh Smith and Charlie Comben to back up their performances, but they will again be key as the most likely Country talls going forward.

This should be a tight one, and if Country’s first performance is anything to go by, they will be more than up for it. The gelling of a talented Allies side will be key to the contest, and Tom Green looms as a crucial figure with Country lacking like-for-like answers. All will be revealed on Sunday though, with many looking forward to a hot contest.

Allies:

B: 21. Luke Parks – 49. Nicholas Murray – 8. Tom Griffiths
HB: 3. Connor Budarick – 27. Josh Rayner – 5. Braeden Campbell
C: 20. Matt McGrory – 15. Will Martyn – 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 7. Oliver Davis – 26. Liam Delahunty – 17. Bruce Reville
F: 14. Will Chandler – 31. Hamish Ellem – 46. Noah Cumberland
R: 30. Samson Ryan – 22. Tom Green – 36. Sam Thorne
Int:13. Jackson Barling, 29. Matt Conroy, 1. Errol Gulden, 19. Sam Collins, 4. Malcolm Rosas Jnr

Vic Country:

B: 10. Harrison Pepper – 36. Sam De Koning – 26. Jesse Clark
HB: 17. Hayden Young – 16. Brodie Kemp – 12. Lachlan Ash (C)
C: 29. Lachlan Williams – 2. Caleb Serong (C) – 18. Brady Rowles
HF: 3. Cody Weightman – 20. Elijah Hollands – 1. Ned Cahill
F: 19. Fraser Phillips – 39. Joshua Smith – 6. Riley Baldi
R: 40. Charlie Comben – 4. Sam Flanders – 8. Thomson Dow
Int: 7. Mitchell Martin, 35. Toby Mahony, 13. Jay Rantall, 15. Ryan Sparkes, 5. Cameron Wild
Emg: 32. Benjamin Worme, 38. Henry Walsh

In: Lachlan Williams (Dandenong), Toby Mahony (GWV), Cam Wild (Murray)
Out: Ben Worme (Bendigo – rotated), Brock Smith (Gippsland – injured), Bigoa Nyuon (Dandenong – rotated)

Draft Central Power Rankings: June 2019

AFTER a massive 2018 which saw so many talented players realise their dreams, we turn our attention to the 2019 AFL Draft crop. In the second edition of our monthly Power Rankings which is posted on the first Monday of every month, we have compiled our top 20 players at this stage of the year. So much changes over the next 12 months, with only bottom-age form and the first couple of months of the seasons to go by so far. Take note that the order is based purely on opinion and ability, not on any AFL club lists or needs. For our May monthly rankings, check out this link.

#1 Matthew Rowell

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
01/07/2001 | 178cm | 75kg

Easily the most consistent player in the 2019 draft crop, having barely ever played a bad game. The inside midfielder is a tackling machine, averaging double-figure tackles at NAB League Boys level, while also racking up a massive 7.3 clearances per game. What is remarkable about Rowell is not only his ability to win the ball, but his ability to bring teammates into the game. Rowell is always looking to provide possession to a teammate in a better position, but when he needs to step up, Rowell is more than capable of finishing on his own. When at forward stoppages, Rowell has a nous of breaking away and snapping off his left as he did twice against Casey Demons on the MCG. There are plenty of candidates to the number one pick this year, but Rowell looks the 2019 equivalent of Sam Walsh – consistent across the board and just ticks all the boxes. He will spend the year playing school footy outside his National Under 18 Championships commitments before returning to the Chargers’ for their finals campaign.

May Ranking: #1

Last month: Rowell has been playing for Carey Grammar in the APS competition,  and was named best on ground in Carey’s 44-point victory over St Kevin’s in Round 2, where he booted four goals. Starred on the MCG as expected for Vic Metro in the loss to Vic Country on Saturday after a quiet start, but recovered to finish with 28 disposals and eight marks. Has not put a foot wrong this season.

#2 Noah Anderson

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/02/2001 | 190cm | 87kg

In what was thought to be an anomaly last year with Henley High pairing Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine touted as potential pick one and two, Anderson and Rowell both attend Carey Grammar, making it a daunting combo for any other APS school. Anderson is different to Rowell in the sense he is taller, has the ability to break open a game in a quarter, and has a booming kick that easily travels greater than 50 metres. He has enjoyed a consistent start to the year and has not done too much wrong, with his field kicking an area he could improve on at times. When inside the forward half, Anderson is one of the most damaging prospects in the draft crop, and expect him to have an impact around goals at the National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro. His game-breaking ability is as good as anyone’s in the draft crop.

May Ranking: #2

Last month: Similar to Rowell, Anderson has not done too much wrong, being amongst the best for Carey Grammar in their strong season thus far in the APS competition. On the MCG, he and Rowell were the two best with the tall midfielder working hard for 25 disposals, five marks, five clearances and eight tackles, most importantly with 11 of his 16 kicks being effective.

#3 Hayden Young

Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | General Defender/Inside Midfielder
11/04/2001 | 188cm | 82kg

One of the prime movers last season and a player who has the potential to be a deadly half-back. He has elite kicking skills coming out of defence, aided by the fact he has a penetrating kick that can clear 50m with ease. He just gets to the right positions and pushes up the ground where he takes a number of intercept marks. He will contest any marking contest regardless of opponent, and is a composed user in defence. He was tried in the middle early in the season, but his greatest influence is in the back half. After an okay start to the year without being anything dazzling, Young reminded everyone of his talent on the MCG, starring alongside Rowell and Anderson, taking a number of crucial intercept marks and setting up scoring plays. A hard edge with terrific kicking skills, Young is one to certainly keep in mind for Pick 1.

May Ranking: #3

Last month: If Saturday’s opening game of the Under 18 National Championships is anything to go by, Young is the clear third best prospect, if not closing the gap to two above. The standout player on the ground, Young showed off his elite kicking skills with 29 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and two inside 50s – both of which came in the first term along with 10 touches when the heat was on. Importantly wins a lot of his touches from intercept marks, rather than handball receives and is the best kick in the draft crop.

#4 Lachlan Ash

Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | General Defender
21/06/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Along with Young, Ash is the other standout Country prospect in defence. The Murray Bushrangers runner has few flaws to his game, owning the defensive 50 with a massive amount of intercept marks and rebounds, while slicing up opposition zones with his elite kicking ability. He is a player that just catches the eye, gets himself into the right positions, and can set up teammates around the ground or in attack. He has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and while his performance on the MCG had its ups and downs, his NAB League form is not to be questioned. He will be a massive chance for the Morrish Medal if he stays fit, and is a crucial part of the Murray Bushrangers outfit. The noticeable advantage with Ash compared to a lot of half-backs is he can win his own ball, and while he might only win a third of his possessions in a contest, he is comparably low with handball receives, almost winning more touches from marking than from handballs. If he and Young both play off half-back at the National Under 18 Championships, expect Country to have plenty of run and penetration.

May Ranking: #5

Last month: If Young is the best kick in the draft crop, then this powerful user is the next best with terrific penetration and a variety of ways to hurt you coming out of defence or through the midfield. He racked up 21 disposals, at greater than 90 per cent efficiency, while also haveing five marks, two inside 50s and three rebounds for Vic Country on the weekend. Earned a spot higher in the rankings for his efforts as a clean ball user and damaging player.

#5 Tom Green

GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Inside Midfielder
23/01/2001 | 188cm | 85kg

The inside hard nut has drawn comparisons to Patrick Cripps in the way he excels at the contested ball, bullying his way to a truckload of possessions and clearances. He has clean and quick hands on the inside and a long kick, while having no issues whatsoever finding the pill. In the opening few NAB League games, Green racked up an average of 33 disposals and 10.25 clearances, still going at more than 60 per cent efficiency despite running at greater than 60 per cent contested. Across the board he is very consistent – similar to Cripps – in order to have an influence on the contest. He will be the top pure tall inside midfielder in the draft, with adding more scoreboard pressure the key between Green and the likes of Rowell and Anderson.

May Ranking: #4

Last month: The inside midfielder again acquitted himself very well over the weekend, backing up an impressive Academy Series by standing up against AFL-listed players in the GWS GIANTS’ win over Gold Coast in the NEAFL. Green had 28 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds while booting a goal, to be one of the most consistent players this season. He might not be as flashy as others, but just gets the job done each and every week and is readymade for AFL football.

#6 Sam Flanders

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder/Forward
24/07/2001 | 182cm | 81kg

After playing as a damaging forward in 2018, Flanders has moved into the midfield this season and been one of the more prolific extractors. While it could be argued his greatest impact is around goals – where he seems to kick the impossible at times – he also has the nous in the midfield to find the ball at stoppages and kick long inside 50, or sweep the handball out to a running teammate. Gippsland has missed his influence and strength in attack, but he has added another dimension to a deep Power midfield. Flanders is a player who will divide draft watchers as he could be top five, or later first round depending on what you look at. He plays taller than his 182cm, and is strong overhead or at ground level. Another top-end Country prospect to watch this year.

May Ranking: #7

Last month: Rated highly for his match-winning ability, Flanders has also added a no-fuss approach to his game this season with some terrific inside work. He has some of the cleanest hands going around at ground level, with his kicking being a knock when he can blaze away by foot. He is doing everything right defensively, laying nine tackles at the MCG on Saturday, as well as 21 disposals and four marks, but will be keen to sharpen up his set shots, hitting the post on one occasion on his way to 1.2.

#7 Dylan Stephens

Norwood/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
08/01/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stephens is another lightly built midfielder who despite being just 70kg has forced his way into the SANFL League side for Norwood already in season 2019. Given the Redlegs’ tendancy to restrict kids from being exposed at the top level – see Luke Valente last year – it is a credit to Stephens – and teammate Taheny, to already earn their stripes. He has held his own too, admitedly playing a very outside game, but with many bigger bodies at the Redlegs, Stephens has terrific skills and moves well in transition, able to win the ball in midfield, take off and kick perfectly inside 50. He still has to add bulk to his frame, but he showed when taking on his peers he is capable of playing an inside role as well. Expect him to be the prime mover for South Australia at the Under 18 Championships and raise his stocks with a big couple of months.

May Ranking: #12

Last month: Played his best SANFL League game to date on the weekend in Norwood’s big win over West Adelaide, posting up 25 disposals, six marks, five tackles, two clearances and six inside 50s. In season 2019, Stephens has averaged 17.6 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency, while averaging four marks, three tackles and 3.8 clearances. Has jumped to the top of the South Australian contingent.

#8 Caleb Serong

Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
09/02/2001 | 178cm | 83kg

A tireless worker, Serong missed the opening game of the NAB League season and has been working his way back into the year finding plenty of the ball around the ground. For a smaller player, Serong never takes a backwards step and seems to find the ball in all three areas of the ground, having plenty of influence around the stoppages, particularly in the forward half. He is very strong overhead and brings his teammates into the game. Both he and close mate, Sam Flanders lead the Gippsland Power charge for draftees in what should be a big year for them. Will miss most of the NAB League season due to school and state commitments, but will be a welcome return come finals time.

May Ranking: #13

Last month: Was one of the best Country players in the Vic Country win over Vic Metro at the MCG on Saturday. So powerful on the inside for a smaller player, Serong racked up 22 touches, five clearances and laid seven tackles, pumping the ball inside 50 on four occasions as well. Is a player who can play midfield or forward and always brings the heat to the contest. Co-captain of Vic Country with Lachlan Ash as well.

#9 Will Gould

Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Defender
14/01/2001 | 191cm | 98kg

The key defender is the player likely to be the big point of difference in the top-end of the rankings, but I rate him as the standout tall in the draft. At 191cm he is a tad undersized for a key position player, but he has the ability to play small or tall, and has been working on his tank to play midfield at times. He wins plenty of the ball at half-back and averages almost eight rebounds per game at League level for Glenelg – holding his own against bigger bodies and dropping into the hole with his game smarts reading the ball in flight well. He has leadership tendancies and captained the Australian Under 18s at the MCG against Casey Demons and will be a prime candidate for the South Australian job as well. Gould has put on seven kilograms since the championships last season, enabling him to take the more monster key forwards, and while he might still be undersized, he just competes and has a massive work rate which stands out each time he plays.

May Ranking: #6

Last month: Gould has remained in the Glenelg League side in the SANFL and is holding his own with 20 disposals, 5.7 marks and 6.7 rebounds playing in defence. A natural-born leader, Gould is the standout key position defender in the draft, and while talls often drift a bit, it will be interesting to see how he performs at the National Under 18 Championships.

#10 Dylan Williams

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | General Utility
01/07/2001 | 185cm | 81kg

After having a terrific second half of the year playing as a medium forward, Williams has spent time mixed between attack and defence in season 2019. He is definitely more suited to attack where he has a high vertical leap and is dangerous around goals. He is as strong overhead as anyone and certainly impressive for a player of his size. Not a huge ball winner, Williams just needs to find four quarter consistency this season as he is the player that can boot four goals in a term and take the game away from the opposition. He also has terrific skills, and hits three out of his four targets despite finding half his possessions in a contest. When at stoppages, Williams is more than capable of winning clearances as he showed against Dandenong, bursting away and pumping the ball long. One area of improvement is his defensive work, which is why he has been played in defence at times to build that area of his game. In the wet at Craigieburn against Calder Cannons in Round 2, Williams had eight out of 12 disposals effective, running at a much higher efficiency than his teammates. Does not have APS school commitments so will play the full year at NAB League Boys level with the Chargers, co-captaining the side with Trent Bianco.

May Ranking: #10

Last month: He did not have the greatest of starts to his championship campaign, injured in Vic Metro’s loss to Vic Country, and finishing with just the four disposals and two tackles. The week before he won the game for the Chargers with two final-quarter goals to get over the Knights, also amassing 18 disposals and five marks. Still hot and cold at times, Williams has that potential that shows he cannot drift that far from the top 10.

#11 Cameron Taheny

Norwood/South Australia | General Forward
03/08/2001 | 184cm | 80kg

The medium forward is an excitment machine who lit up the National Under 16 Championships in 2017. He continued that form in his bottom-age year for Norwood, booting six goals in a game last year to show off his talents inside 50. Similar to Dylan Williams, Taheny has his ups and downs, but his best is as good as anyone else’s in the draft crop. A good season could propel him into the top half of the first round, and he is a player who could turn a match on its head which will be crucial for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Has already broken into the League side for Norwood and booted three goals on debut. One to watch through the year as someone who could rise.

May Ranking: #11

Last month: Has consolidated himself in the League side for Norwood along with Dylan Stephens, which has not been an easy thing to do for a forward. Taheny has benefited from a talented midfield, capitalising on his opportunities with 11 goals in three games at senior level, including a bag of five on the weekend where he also had six marks. He is knocking on the door of this top 10, and a good championships will see him leap into that group.

#12 Trent Bianco

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Outside Midfielder
20/01/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

Arguably quite underrated given his size and the ability of his highly touted Oakleigh teammates, Bianco is one of the best ball users in the draft crop this season. Like Lachlan Ash, Bianco rebounds off half-back and can go into the middle when required, a place he will no doubt spend a lot of time this season having wrapped up his Year 12 studies last year. The co-captain of the Oakleigh Chargers is an outside ball user, and finding more contested ball could be an area he looks to in season 2019, but his skills are good enough that he could easily play as that outside user, especially considering his size. A versatile player, expect Bianco to be one of the Morrish Medal contenders this season when he is not running around for Vic Metro. He had a massive game against Tasmania Devils, racking up 42 disposals, although he did have seven clangers on the day. Keeps rising and despite being smaller, just finds the ball and uses it well more often than not.

May Ranking: #9

Last month: After a massive 42-disposal game back in Round 6 for the Chargers, Bianco had a quieter 17-disposal outing against the Knights, albeit laying 10 tackles in a great defensive effort. He was subdued on the MCG by his standards, finishing with 14 disposals, four marks, three clearances and four rebounds. Will no doubt have more impact going forward, and still looms as a crucial player in the Metro side.

#13 Mitch O’Neill

Tasmania Devils/Allies | Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 178cm | 69kg

The top Tasmanian prospect was an All-Australian in his bottom-age year, and has a nice blend of inside and outside capabilities. Given his lightly built frame, expect O’Neill to stick to the outside during the National Under 18 Championships, but he can win his own ball at the same time. He reads the taps well and is able to spread to the outside, pumping the ball inside 50 to set up scoring chains. Having spent time in defence last year, O’Neill has moved into the midfield and found just as much of the ball, and is a crucial ball user on the outside. He will be the player most analysed by opposition sides when playing Tasmania Devils in the NAB League, and O’Neill will enjoy added freedom at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

May Ranking: #8

Last month: O’Neill returned from his ankle injury to play the last couple of matches for Tasmania Devils in the NAB League Boys competition. Slowly building back into it, O’Neill finished with 15 disposals and two goals drifting forward against the Stingrays in Round 8, before having 20 disposals on the weekend against the Rebels in the Devils’ win. O’Neill showed his clean ball use and running ability for the Allies in the trial matches against Victoria a fortnight ago and will have the benefit of an outside role at the championships.

#14 Jackson Mead

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide inaugural Best and Fairest winner, Darren has made a promising start to the 2019 SANFL season, starting in the Reserves and impressing, showing that a League debut would be in the not-too-distint future. Mead will team up with Stephens at the National Under 18 Championships to lead the side through his penetrating kick and good skills, spreading around and using the ball well forward of centre. Not as prolific a ball winner as some others, Mead has good smarts and does not waste too many disposals. Importantly, Mead hits the scoreboard as a midfielder, and can win his own ball on the inside when required. He might play more of an inside role at the National Championships, but South Australia will be keen to give him time and space to impact the contest best.

May Ranking: #14

Last month: Continues to play consistent football in the SANFL Reserves for Woodville-West Torrens, meaning a League call-up cannot be too far away. Mead has averaged 20.7 disposals at 74 per cent efficiency, while also averaging 3.3 marks, 4.0 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 2.8 tackles. Another player whose stocks will depend on how he fares at the championships.

#15 Brodie Kemp

Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Tall Utility
01/05/2001 | 192cm | 82kg

Kemp is a player that will be looked at as a long-term prospect, and one who could be moulded into nearly anything. At 192cm, he has played a hybrid role over the past few years, rotating between attack and midfield, and even some time in defence. He knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a long kick but could tidy it up when at full-speed. His ability to get to the outside and move in transition is a strength. He is a smooth mover who looks like an outside player, but wins the majority of his possessions at the coal face. Another player who will miss the majority of the NAB League season due to his school football commitments, but will be one to watch at the National Under 18 Championships.

May Ranking: #16

Last month: Moves up a place on the back of a strong showing for Vic Country at the MCG on the weekend. His kicking at top-speed is still a concern, but the way he bursts off half-back and can split through opponents with ease is eye-catching. Played in defence on the weekend despite his best role being an inside midfielder, but had 16 disposals, four marks and six rebounds.

#16 Josh Worrell

Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender
11/04/2001 | 193cm | 78kg

The Sandringham Dragons defender has had an impressive past few weeks after not having to do too much in the Dragons’ obliteration of Calder in the opening round of the NAB League season. On the MCG against Casey Demons, Worrell stood tall in defence, showing an ability to remain calm under pressure and use the ball well. At 193cm, Worrell will be a player that clubs look at differently, being that few cms smaller than the current trend for key position defenders, which is fine considering Worrell’s ability to provide run and carry out of defence. He is still lightly built, but he is strong overhead and has the potential to develop into a tall midfielder or one who roams off half-back and sets up attacking plays. A player who will spend the season at Haileybury College and Vic Metro before returning to the Dragons for the finals series.

May Ranking: #15

Last month: Worrell continues to show some nice signs, not one of the best but sitll a solid contributor at times for Metro in their loss to Country at the MCG on Saturday. Had 10 touches, five marks and three inside 50s playing higher up in defence, and will be used as that rebounding type more-so than his key position nature, but will still have the defensive abilities to nullify an opponent.

#17 Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies | General Utility
06/04/2001 | 176cm | 70kg

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy player could draw comparisons to Ned McHenry in both his stature and defensive pressure. Budarick played as a forward last year, and has spent more time in the midfield in 2019, but will likely rotate between both at the National Under 18 Championships. Weighing in at about 70kg, Budarick is outside leaning when in the midfield and just has little bursts where he wins the football. In the exhibition match against Casey Demons, Budarick played in defence and held his own back there, but his best comes forward of centre where he lays an average of seven tackles per game, and forces turnovers close to goal. He runs hard between the arcs and will likely cost Gold Coast a top 30 pick based on his skills and work rate.

May Ranking: #20

Last month: Hardly puts a foot wrong with anything he does. Was one of the Allies’ best in the trial game against Victoria, and despite his size, still plays an important role through the midfield. He will have the freedom to play on the outside and use his slick skills to advantage. The Allies line-up against Vic Country this weekend in what should be a cracker, and Budarick will be a key player.

#18 Jeremy Sharp

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm | 79kg

One of a number of East Fremantle potential draftees, Sharp is a skilled midfielder who is capable of playing off half-back as well as along the wing. He is not a massive ball winner, but he is a terrific kick of the footy and is a run-and-carry player. Along with Jackson, Sharp is a potential top 10 player who is a good size at 187cm and has added some bulk to his frame over the off-season. He is one of just three players who earned All-Australian honours as a bottom-ager last season following a magnificent Under 18 Championships. Sharp is one of those players you want the ball in their hands going forward as he will likely pinpoint a target inside 50. One to watch if he can go to another level at his top-age championships.

May Ranking: #17

Last month: The talented mover and ball user is one who will retain a place in the top 20 until he can have a crack at the championships, because he showed some terrific signs last year, and in the WAFL so far this season. Plenty of guys pushing up in the West Australian side, and will have an important distribution role over the next month.

#19 Cooper Stephens

Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

The Geelong Falcons midfielder unfortunately fractured his fibula in in Round 3 and will miss a few months, hoping to return in time for a big second half of the year. Stephens is a huge loss for Vic Country as Falcons Talent Manager Mick Turner said he would not take part in the National Under 18 Championships next month.  Stephens is a neat user of the ball, recording 65 per cent by foot, and in the two games before his injury, Stephens averaged 26 disposals, 3.5 marks, 4.0 clearances and ran at more than 60 per cent contested possessions. The question mark will be how he returns from his injury, but with the injury not being season-ending, expect him to come back and be a crucial player in the final couple of months for the Falcons.

May Ranking: #18

Last month: Has been injured, but was named vice-captain of Vic Country despite not being able to play in the national championships. Might slide over the next month, but hopefully will remind recruiters of his talent later in the year.

#20 Luke Jackson

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Ruck
29/09/2001 | 197cm | 93kg

The athletic West Australian ruck picked Australian Rules over basketball last year despite donning the green and gold on the court. Jackson plays like an extra midfielder when moving around the ground and has been plying his trade at Colts level in the WAFL given the strength of ruck stocks at East Fremantle. Jackson looms as a potential first round pick, even though rucks are traditionally taken later. He would be viewed as a long-term prospect, and certainly if his two National Under 18 Championships games from 2018 are anything to go by, he has plenty of talent at his disposal. Clubs will like the fact he is not out of the contest once the ball hits ground level, and was solid against Casey Demons’ bigger-bodied rucks on the MCG. The standout ruck in the 2019 draft crop in a crop that does not have as many top-end talls as last year.

May Ranking: #19

Last month: Like many of his highly-touted East Fremantle teammates, has not played over the past month at WAFL level, but was dominent in his last match a month ago with 17 disposals, 28 hitouts, five marks and two goals proving quite a handful. All eyes will be on Jackson when he takes on fellow talented ruck Nick Bryan at the championships.

#21 Nick Bryan

Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

The super athletic ruck has come on in leaps and bounds this year, and posts a 2.91-second 20m sprint and 78cm running vertical leap, making him an elite speedster, let alone for his size. He has not spent as much time in the elite system with the AFL Academy as others, and still needs to keep building his tank, but Bryan has a huge upside, which is what will attract recruiters to him. He is also capable of going forward and impacting the scoreboard when required, and was plucked out to play in the AFL Academy game against Casey Demons, taking on mature-aged rucks and holding his own. At 202cm, he is the right size for a ruck, and could well be the first ruck chosen this year, depending on how he and Luke Jackson go at the national championships.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Has been playing school football for St Kevin’s since the APS competition started, and then had went out and competed for Vic Metro at the MCG on Saturday. He had his colours lowered by a red-hot Charlie Comben on the day, but Bryan still showed enough to suggest he will be vital in the upcoming championships. He will have a terrific duel against Luke Jackson next round, and will be keen to put in a strong effort against the other standout ruck in the draft crop.

#22 Darcy Cassar

Western Jets/Vic Metro | General Utility
31/07/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

As a bottom-ager last year, Cassar thrived as a half-forward/wing who would move the ball in transition and show power in his running to be able to impact for his side going inside 50. He is capable of hitting the scoreboard while playing in the forward half, but as he has shown so far in season 2019, he is just as adaptable in defence. Cassar has spent the season in the backline for the Western Jets, averaging a massive 28.2 disposals, 6.8 marks and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has added that element to his game, and expect him to be a versatile player at the national championships for Vic Metro, playing up whichever end is required of him, while also being able to play in the midfield.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Played in attack for Metro on the weekend in their loss to Vic Country. He set up the opening goal to teammate Josh Honey, then kicked one of his own in the first term. Was quieter from then on, but still showed glimpses and his season form this year has been nothing short of exceptional..

#23 Trent Rivers

East Fremantle/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
30/07/2001 | 189cm | 84kg

It is a good year for East Fremantle, with prospects basically growing on trees, and Rivers is another touted top 30 prospect along with Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson. Rivers is a natural-born leader who thrives on the contest and is as consistent as they come, racking up more than 20 disposals in most outings. He loves to tackle and put his body on the line, and is a crucial key to the inside midfield of Western Australia at the national championships. Unlike a lot of other top-end midfielders this year, Rivers has the size on him, standing at 189cm and 84kg, and readymade for senior football.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Was named in Western Australia’s leadership group last week and is perparing to tackle Vic Metro at home next weekend. Was close to making the top 20 last month and is thereabouts this month with the extension to 25.

#24 Kysaiah Pickett

WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 170cm | 68kg

Arguably the most naturally gifted player in the draft, the nephew of Port Adelaide and North Melbourne premiership player Byron, is small in stature but big on X-factor and his ability to do the impossible. He is clean at ground level, has high-level goal sense, and despite being so lightly built, was able to force his way into the Woodville-West Torrens League side courtesy of a massive six-goal game against North Adelaide in the first round of the SANFL Reserves competition. Adds an extra dimension to the South Australian forward line and will be one that could light up the big stage over the next month.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Pickett has managed two League games for the Eagles, booting a goal on debut against Sturt, before seeing what it was like playing on AFL-listed players in the Eagles’ loss to Adelaide.

#25 Fraser Phillips

Gippsland Power | General Forward
15/05/2001 | 186cm | 71kg

A lightly built medium forward, Phillips has some really exciting traits that he has begun to show more often than not as he builds his consistency. He started the season slowly, but has built into his role at Gippsland Power, and can launch goals from just about anywhere inside 50. He is clean at ground level, has a nice turn of foot and great goal sense, as well as applying defensive pressure whenever he gets a chance. A good size who will develop as he adds more bulk to his frame to compete more one-on-one against stronger defenders.

May Ranking: N/A

Last month: Coming into the national championships, Phillips averaged 13.3 disposals and 2.0 goals at NAB League Boys level, but his past two games were particularly eye-catching with 24 disposals, five marks and two goals against GWV Rebels, following on from a deeper forward role with four majors against Calder Cannons. Building form nicely, he had a quieter game on the weekend for Vic Country, but while he did not win a heap of the ball, never stopped putting in effort – laying six tackles and winning a crucial late hardball get to set up a goal.

Names to watch:

 

Charlie Dean (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The key position forward made a promising start to his year at the Dragons, and could have been a potential leading goalkicker this season had it not been for APS football commitments with Wesley College. Works hard up the ground.

Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Had a big role in the second half for the Country side in the win over Vic Metro, and just has great game sense and nous around goals.

Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The underrated midfielder just keeps on going strong and was solid in Metro’s loss to Vic Country. A player to keep tabs on as the season develops.

Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Has some really nice traits with a penetrating kick and ability to impact forward of centre. Could easily be considered top 25.

Will Day (West Adelaide/South Adelaide)

Talented half-back returning from a hamstring injury to play school footy with Sacred Heart. Able to use both sides of his body well.

Liam Henry (Claremont/Western Australia)

Had a good start to the season in Western Australia and is a member of Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy (NGA).