Tag: sam philp

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 5: Pick one down, but draftees fly high

11 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. Top pick Matt Rowell may have been rubbed out early with a dislocated shoulder, but there was plenty to take out of Round 5 for the class of 2019 as plenty of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level. For the first time this year, none of the weekend’s debutants came from the most recent draft, but there promises to be plenty to come.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Hayden Young (Fremantle)

STATS: 15 disposals (10 kicks), 6 marks, 2 rebound 50s, 73% disposal efficiency

The stats may not overly flatter him, but Young is building nicely into is AFL career having returned another strong performance in Fremantle’s first win for 2020. Stationed in his usual defensive post, Young delivered 12 of his 15 disposals from the back half and did so with accuracy. His intercept marking ability is also coming to the fore as he gains in confidence, able to read the ball well in flight and have a crack backing into traffic. At four games into his elite level venture, the Dandenong Stingrays graduate is beginning to bring his best traits forward and has cemented his spot in the Dockers’ side.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)

18 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements

As good mate, Rowell went down, Anderson stepped up to deliver one of his better performances across his first five career games. Continuing in his role on the wing, Anderson got involved in the contest and managed to find the ball in important areas while also fulfilling his defensive duties with 11 pressure acts. The former Oakleigh Charger may have turned the ball over six times amid the heat of the contest, but has impactful touches and has the potential to have a big say once all the factors in his game click.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

15 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 2 score involvements

Ash is another who is beginning to click into gear having been granted ample opportunity upon his AFL berth, and he was among the GIANTS’ top 10 disposal winners in their win against Hawthorn on Sunday. Moving along the line from defence to the wing, Ash was able to penetrate the forward 50 in transition to show a glimpse of his attacking quality, while also providing a safe outlet in the back half. He won half of his possessions in contested situations too, displaying a good appetite for the contest and the rigours of the elite level.

Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

14 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 score involvements

Right behind Ash in terms of disposals was GIANTS Academy graduate, Green with 14. After a breakout game in Round 4 saw him earn a Rising Star nomination, the big-bodied midfielder continued on his ball winning ways to contribute some solid numbers to GWS’ Sunday salute. The GIANTS’ coaching staff has shown great faith in Green in allowing him to run through midfield, attending centre bounces where he thrives on the contested side of the game. He’s another who looks to be locking down a spot, and is providing ample cover some some absent GWS stars.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

10 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 1 goal assist

Following the example set by former Vic Country teammate, Young is Serong, who also played his part in Fremantle’s opening win for season 2020. The diminutive Gippsland Power product is another who has been thrust right into the engine room action at times, holding his own against big-bodied opposition and remaining relevant going both ways. He is proving more comfortable with ball in hand as time goes on, and it is positive that he manages to find it in the first place.

Others in action:

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFL Debut Watch – Round 5: AFL and club debuts up for grabs

ROUND 5 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, with a late change seeing Northern Knights graduate Sam Philp keep his spot after a Round 4 debut. This weekend, another three newcomers are in line to make their maiden elite-level appearances, while an Essendon pair is set to run out for the Bombers for the first time. We take you through the list and give a little reminder of what each player may bring to the table.

Note: * denotes named on extended bench.

Collingwood vs. Essendon

AFL Debuts: Nil
Club Debuts: Mitchell Hibberd, Andrew Phillips

Mitchell Hibberd (Essendon)

The 23-year-old entered his second chance saloon with Essendon via the 2019 rookie draft, given another crack at the elite level after being cut by North Melbourne at the end of 2018. An outstanding VFL campaign with Williamstown shot the Tasmanian right back into AFL contention, as he looks to build on his four previous career outings.

Hibberd is now a well-built inside midfielder at 190cm, fitting the mould of modern day engine room operators with a good mix of size, speed, and the ability to find the ball. He should prove a handy point of difference in the Essendon midfield, which is quite short in comparison, and in-need of that hardened inside type. With sharp skills and a penetrating boot, Hibberd could also feature on the outside or off half-back.

Andrew Phillips (Essendon)

The former Carlton bigman gets a berth for his new club against arguably the best ruckman in the competition, Brodie Grundy as Essendon takes on Collingwood on Friday night. Tom Bellchambers has been given the axe, although the Bombers would tell you he is being ‘managed’, providing the perfect opportunity for Phillips to finally cement a starting spot at AFL level.

The 29-year-old should be able to compete well in the ruck battles at 201cm, but will be tested around the ground and below his knees by Grundy. Phillips may also be forced to ware on his Collingwood opponents in the role for long periods, with Shaun McKernan Essendon’s only other viable ruck option in the side.

Adelaide vs. Fremantle

AFL Debuts: Andrew McPherson*
Club Debuts: Nil

Andrew McPherson (Adelaide)

Adelaide fans may well witness yet another 2020 debut, as McPherson awaits confirmation of his spot in the starting side to face Fremantle on Sunday afternoon. He is one of four inclusions named on an extended Crows bench, with no omissions made at this point and gun midfielder Matt Crouch set to return to the line-up after his inglorious axing.

A graduate of the 2017 draft class, McPherson had high hopes billed of him during his top-age year, but missed nearly all of it through injury. Nonetheless, the Crows showed faith in the local talent and snapped him up with pick 40 in the National Draft. He managed nine SANFL outings in 2019 and may get his first crack at the next level at 21 years of age, providing elite endurance and rebound quality from defence.

Melbourne vs. Richmond

AFL Debuts: Jake Aarts*
Club Debuts: Nil

Jake Aarts (Richmond)

Having taken the long road to landing on an AFL list, Aarts may finally get his shot at the bigtime on Sunday in Richmond’s clash against Melbourne. The diminutive forward comes in as part of an eight-man Tigers interchange, facing stiff opposition to sneak into the starting 22 as the likes of Sydney Stack and Jack Ross come the other way.

The former VFL Tiger will fit perfectly into his side’s system, providing that relentless, rolling pressure in the forward half and the work rate to push back to goal hard. He is difficult to beat at ground level with this hardness and low centre of gravity, and will undoubtedly look to impact the scoreboard given his smarts around the big sticks. Expect the 25-year-old to hit the ground running once he gets a shot, placing pressure on others of a similar mould among the squad.

GWS vs. Hawthorn

AFL Debuts: Harry Jones*
Club Debuts: Nil

Harry Jones (Hawthorn)

One who features on this list for a second week running, Jones will have to compete with four others on Hawthorn’s extended bench to replace the injured Luke Breust and face GWS to see out Round 5. The 20-year-old inside midfielder hails from the Murray region, and has the size to compete at AFL level should he be given the opportunity.

Hawthorn’s midfield is difficult to crack, but fans have been yearning for Jones to be handed a senior berth after he impressed last year in the VFL. He was close then, last week, and will be close now to breaking into the 3-1 Hawks side.

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 4: Green shoots appear for GWS gun

13 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. From a Gold Coast trio who continue to flourish, to a number of other high picks who earned their spots, the draft class of 2019 is already showing promising signs for the future. There were a total of four debutants from last year’s cohort in Round 4, with others either holding their spots or returning to the line-up.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

STATS: 18 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 72% disposal efficiency, 2 marks, 7 clearances, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 1 goal

In a low-disposal game, Green was among the GIANTS’ top five ball winners as they snuck home to a thrilling win over Collingwood on home turf. Thrust straight back into the midfield fold, the GWS Academy graduate looked at home in his second AFL outing, getting stuck straight in with the tough stuff to notch 12 contested possessions and seven clearances. Last year’s number 10 draft pick was also able to boot his first goal at the elite level, and an important one at that given the final score.

Louis Butler (Western Bulldogs)

14 disposals (11 kicks), 2 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 4 score involvements

A Thursday night debut saw Butler collect 14 disposals in his usual defensive role, slotting in well across half-back and generating some decent forward momentum. While he kicked well below his usual rate at 21 per cent efficiency, the Sandringham Dragons product put the ball in dangerous areas, breaching either arc five times and having a hand in four score involvements as the Bulldogs downed Sydney.

Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)

10 disposals, 9 contested possessions, 3 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 4 score involvements

After serving an avoidable suspension, Pickett returned to the Demons’ fold and was one of his side’s more lively forward 50 options. He was often Melbourne’s most dangerous outlet at the fall of the ball, wreaking havoc with his ability to hit the contest at full pace and extract, while also doing all the right things defensively. He may have hit five turnovers and could not quite find the goals, but you knew something was about to happen when Pickett neared the ball, and he brings a different dimension to the Melbourne team.

Matt Rowell (Gold Coast SUNS)

20 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 7 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 6 score involvements, 2 goals

Rowell may finally have been knocked off his ‘Star of the Round‘ perch, but still put in a performance worthy of the honour in his fourth AFL appearance. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate clicked over the 20 disposal mark once again and added another two goals to his haul, while proving a key cog in the SUNS’ engine room operations. Not many draftees have been able to match the grunt work of Rowell, who continues to put up fantastic tackle and clearance numbers to prove his two-way relevance.

Hayden Young (Fremantle)

15 disposals (12 kicks), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s, 1 goal assist

Having kept his spot in the 0-4 Fremantle side, Young repaid the faith this week with arguably his best performance in three games at the elite level. Stationed in his usual half-back post, the 19-year-old provided a great glimpse of his damaging left-foot kick with a spearing goal assist pass as he cut through the corridor, while also contributing seven rebound 50s. As he adjusts to the pace and pressure of the AFL, Young has been able to better showcase his offensive game and join in the play going both ways.

Others in action:

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)
Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS)
Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Fischer McAsey (Adelaide)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 13 – Chargers, Cannons win big

SIX different venues played host to the NAB League’s Round 13 fixtures in 2019, with a couple of big upsets kicking off the action, while Oakleigh and Calder came out big winners in their clashes against Country opponents. Some big names returned to the competition as the National Championships came to an end, and school football completed its bye rounds.

Western pulled off the weekend’s first upset victory, holding off a surge from Sandringham and its returning catalogue of big names to claim a nine-point win come the final siren. After Sandringham snuck ahead at half time, the Jets broke the game open with eight goals to one in a defining third term at Downer Oval. The Dragons would keep Western goalless in the last, but failed to make up the difference in time.

The small/tall pairing of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke split a combined 6.4 evenly for Western, while Richmond draftee Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of three Dragons to boot two majors each. Fellow draftees Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, one), and Louis Butler (23) were other high-end Dragons to perform, while Carlton rookie Josh Honey was among Western’s best with 18 touches.

Northern ensured the unlikely victories would roll on early in Round 13, trumping Gippsland by 43 points on the road. Akin to Western’s effort, the Knights battled hard in the first half but only led by two points at the main break, only to boot eight goals to one in a dominant second half display to take the four points back home to Preston.

The versatile Knights forward trio of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess, and Sunny Brazier (both three) dealt most of the damage as the contest skewed to one side, while Carlton’s Sam Philp (24 disposals, one) goal finished behind only Adam Carafa (28 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. Bottom-ager Sam Berry was Gippsland’s best in that department with 21 touches, while Saints draftee Leo Connolly had 18, and Philp’s Blues teammate Fraser Phillips, 13.

Murray could not quite keep the train going as it hosted the table-topping Eastern Ranges at Norm Minns Oval, falling four points short of its highly-fancied opposition. The Ranges managed to get out to a hot start, leading by 17 points despite wasting half of their 10 first term scoring shots. The lead was extended to 27 at half-time, but only worked to shift the Bushrangers into gear as they stormed home with a 6.6 second half to Eastern’s 3.0, as only wastefulness cost them in the end.

Ben Hickleton‘s season-best effort of four goals helped Eastern over the line, while Jimmy Boyer was one of two Bushrangers to notch three majors. Mitch Mellis put in a shift with two goals from 22 disposals, as he an Zak Pretty were beaten out only by Jye Chalcraft (29 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. In a rare instance, no 2019 draftees took the field in this fixture.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back to metropolitan territory, as Calder ran out comfortable 68-point winners against Dandenong at home. The Cannons shot out of the blocks with nine goals to two in the first half and despite being held well in the third term, prettied up the scoreboard with seven goals to nil in the final quarter to put an exclamation mark on the victory.

College punter Mason Fletcher booted four majors in this outing before his departure to the United States, joined by five Calder teammates as multiple goalkickers. Bottom-ager Ashton Williamson‘s three goals were a slight form of resistance for Dandenong, with Jack Toner another to stand up with 28 disposals. But it was Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay who led all comers on 32 touches, followed by bottom-age jet Jackson Cardillo (27, one goal).

Fast forward to Sunday, and Bendigo made its trip down to Tasmania worthwhile, downing the Devils by 29 points at Kingston Twins Oval. In a relatively low-scoring affair, the Pioneers were made to fight back from behind, booting six goals to Tasmania’s one in a one-sided second half effort. The win would also serve as redemption for Bendigo after going down to the Devils by two points in Round 7.

Exciting bottom-age Bendigo products Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell booted three goals each, while Jackson Callow was one of two multiple goalkickers for the home side. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness had 10 more disposals than the next-best player afield, racking up 34 while Pioneers Sam Conforti and James Schischka had 24 each. Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Oliver Davis also fared well with 19 touches apiece.

Oakleigh saw the round out with the biggest win of the lot, proving ruthlessly brilliant in front of goal to down and already lowly Geelong outfit by 87 points at Avalon Airport Oval. The Chargers led by over seven goals at the main break and never looked back, piling on a further 10 to Geelong’s three in the second half to finish with an incredible 20 goals and nine behinds en route to victory.

The forward partnership of Dylan Williams (five goals) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four) proved unstoppable, with the likes of Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) and Trent Bianco (24, two) also finding the big sticks and plenty of the ball. In a stacked Oakleigh side, Will Phillips and Lochlan Jenkins were also prominent with 21 touches each. Bottom-ager Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals) was among Geelong’s best alongside 2020 co-captain Cam Fleeton (19), while over-ager Charlie Sprague booted three majors.

Classic Contests: Williams the hero as Chargers scrape home over Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 13 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to when the two sides met for a low-scoring thriller.

2019 NAB League, Round 8
Saturday May 18, 10:00am
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.10 (40)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 2.6 | 3.8 | 6.10 (46)

Goals:

Northern: S. Brazier, R. Gardner, S. Philp, J. Zapantis , J. Trudgeon
Oakleigh:
T. Graham 2, D. Williams 2, T. Lovell, R. Sklavenitis

Best:

Northern: S. Philp, R. Sturgess, R. Gardner, L. Potter, K. Brandt, J. Davies
Oakleigh:
L. Jenkins, D. Williams, J. Woodfull, J. May, S. Seach, M. Steiner

Draftees in action:

Northern: Sam Philp, Ayce Taylor
Oakleigh:
Trent Bianco, Dylan Williams

Two metropolitan sides would meet on neutral, country territory come Round 8 of last year’s NAB League season, as Northern and Oakleigh went to battle at Shepley Oval. The highly fancied Chargers had only just fought to an even 3-3 record to that point, snapping a three-game losing run upon the commencement of school football with a one-point win over Tasmania. Northern managed to retain most of its key talent, and had won two games on the trot after a lacklustre 0-5 start to its campaign.

While Oakleigh’s two co-captains in Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco took the field, the Chargers’ remaining four 2019 draftees – including top two pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson – were absent. Northern evened the ledger in terms of future AFL products with bolter Sam Philp a mainstay in the side, and 19-year-old Adelaide top-up Ayce Taylor also running out with plenty of interest.

As expected, Oakleigh arguably had the better of the opening exchanges, but could not quite capitalise on its territorial pressure as the sides entered the first break level at 1.2 apiece. The theme continued into the second term as both sides proved inaccurate in front of goal, but the Chargers’ superior two scoring shots saw them sneak ahead at half time by two points.

That was where the buck stopped for Northern, as it began to better take hold through midfield and apply scoreboard pressure in the process. A slender four-point lead at the final break was stolen back almost immediately by Williams in the following period of play, before Philp did the same for Northern. A second from Williams after Thomas Graham reclaimed the lead would prove the sealer for Oakleigh in a real scare, getting over the line by six points.

Williams’ move from half-back to his more comfortable forward role in the final term proved a game-winning decision, as the Port draftee booted two defining goals to see the Chargers home. Co-captain and new Collingwood recruit Bianco was kept relatively quiet for 17 disposals as bottom-ager Fraser Elliot led all comers with 28 touches, and partner-in-crime Lochlan Jenkins was named best-afield for his 22.

Philp returned a performance consistent of his form for the Knights throughout 2019, racking up 28 touches and booting an important goal in the losing effort. A player who very nearly joined him at Carlton, Ryan Sturgess was also influential with 19 disposals from defence, on top of having the difficult task of manning Williams at the death. Taylor was quiet with seven disposals but laid six tackles to display his versatility.

Northern would go on to finish sixth at 8-7 and disposed of Bendigo in Wildcard Round, but came undone against Western come finals time to see an end to its season. Oakleigh won the NAB League premiership from third, storming undefeated through a brilliant finals campaign which culminated in a 53-point triumph in the decider.

AFL Debut Watch – Round 4: Eight in line for AFL debuts

ROUND 4 of the AFL Premiership Season got underway last night, with Sandringham Dragons graduate Louis Butler making his debut in the Western Bulldogs’ win over Sydney. He is one of four confirmed debutants, with a further four hopefuls named among extended squads in anticipation of this weekend’s action. Jamaine Jones will also make his club debut for West Coast after appearing seven times for Geelong. We take you through the list and give a little reminder of what each player may bring to the table.

ADELAIDE:

Shane McAdam* (Halls Creek/Sturt)

Named among an extended squad once again, McAdam will be hoping that new coach Matthew Nicks hands out another debut in Round 4. The high-flying medium forward promises to bring some excitement back to the Crows’ lineup, which has lacked pace and the ability to bring the ball to ground inside forward 50.

As mentioned when McAdam narrowly missed selection last week, the Crows traded to get ahold of the 181cm hopeful as a pre-access draft pick, so obviously think highly of his talent. Adelaide really has little to lose given its current form, so do not be surprised to see yet another fresh face take the field in the tri-colours come Sunday.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

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

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


BRISBANE: 

Connor Ballenden* (Brisbane Lions Academy)

A Brisbane Lions Academy product who was drafted back in 2017, Ballenden has since staked his claim for senior selection with some promising form at NEAFL level. While he looked poised to suit the Lions’ structures as a key forward in his draft year, the 21-year-old has shown he is capable of also rotating through the ruck and key defensive posts.

The 200cm bigman has been named in an extended squad to take on the Crows, a selection which puts pressure on the likes of Eric Hipwood to perform, and makes for good competition for Stefan Martin‘s currently-vacant ruck spot. The Lions may also feel the need to add height to their defence, so there are plenty of ways which Balldenden could sneak into the Round 4 side.

Draft Central’s 2017 Player Profile Summary:

“If the Brisbane Lions utilise Ballenden as a forward/ruck, there’s no doubting that he has the ability to fit into their structures up forward in the future. His contested marking and pinpoint set shot goal kicking are forwards dreams, and despite a quiet top age season, his bottom-age year was very impressive and suggested that Ballenden has a bright future ahead of him.”


CARLTON:

Sam Philp (Northern Knights)

The first confirmed debutant on this alphabetical list, Carlton fans, coaches, and players alike are excited to see what Philp can produce at the elite level. Somewhat of a surprise first round selection in last year’s National Draft, Philp was a feel-good story of hard work and perseverance among his cohort, bolting into contention despite having missed out on Vic Metro representative selection.

Philp is a hard-nosed midfielder with the ideal balance of speed and endurance, which he uses both ways to either charge the ball forward or apply smothering pressure on the opposition. He was the fastest player of his draft class with a 2.867-second 20-metre sprint time at the National Combine, and will certainly showcase all of that power upon his berth at the AFL level.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“On the field, Philp wins his own ball and is most typically seen bustling out of congestion with his trademark speed and strength to generate some forward run. He is just as apt going the other way too, with Philp’s aggression translating to a fearsome tackling game on the rare occasion where he does not win the ball himself.

“A big improver from his bottom-age season, Philp has continued on the upward trend and could be the kind of player a club will seek to snap up earlier than expected given the upside his unique mix of traits brings.”


FREMANTLE

Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power)

Another confirmed starter who narrowly missed out on a selection nod last week, Serong is set to make his AFL debut against the red-hot Gold Coast SUNS. The opposition boasts a number of 2019 draftees who have made an immediate impact, but the prime-time Saturday night fixture gives Fremantle’s budding first-round stars like Serong and Hayden Young the chance to snatch centre stage.

Dockers fans will love the intensity that Serong brings to the table, a true leader who does not shy away from the tough stuff and will bleed for the jumper. His skills are also notable too, with a terrific burst of speed and the clean hands to make up for the supposed disadvantage of his sub-180cm frame in contested situations. While he is a capable ball winning midfielder, Serong will likely start on a wing or inside forward 50.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“Touted as one of the top prospected behind the obvious Oakleigh Chargers’ duo, Serong is one of the more well-rounded players in the AFL Draft crop, with very few glaring areas of improvement. The biggest upside for the 178cm midfielder/forward is the areas he could improve on are more easily doable compared to other players.

“Among his list of strengths in his game is his clean hands, footy IQ, clearance ability and strength, while his consistency and competitiveness are up there with Matt Rowell. The areas that Serong can improve are his kicking under pressure – which has developed over the course of the season – his on-field emotion – which while good at times can also be a hindrance – and his size – which while his height will not change too much, he can still improve his muscle tone.”


HAWTHORN:

Harry Jones (Murray Bushrangers)

One of a few 2017 draftees who will hope to finally crack the senior side in Round 4 is Jones, an early rookie selection who can provide midfield depth for the Hawks. Despite suffering untimely injuries in his draft year, the Hawthorn showed faith in what the youngster had already produced as a strong, extractor-type midfielder who can accumulate and run all day.

He was touted for a senior opportunity in 2019 and after having been made to wait his turn, could see a debut appear on the cards early this season as Alastair Clarkson searches for the right balance. A starting midfield of James Worpel, Tom Mitchell, and Jaeger O’Meara is tough to look past though, making it tough for budding starters like Jones.

Draft Central’s 2017 Player Profile Summary:

“Jones had his year cruelly ended early after a back stress fracture mid-season. At that stage he was hitting his strides winning plenty of the ball and impressing in close for the Murray Bushrangers. Jones is a strong inside midfielder who has a great centre of gravity which sees him stand up in tackles and handball to teammates who are free on the outside.

“He is a fierce tackler and endurance runner who just wears down opponents across four quarters. While his kicking could improve and he could have more of an impact on the scoreboard, Jones’ bread and butter is at the coal face, dishing off handballs with quick hands.”


NORTH MELBOURNE:

Jack Mahony* (Sandringham Dragons)

Mahony is among two potential newcomers named in North Melbourne’s side to face Hawthorn on Sunday night, having impressed in last week’s scratch match with three goals. The crafty sub-180cm prospect was highly-touted at junior level, but lacked the explosiveness or size to be seen as a true midfielder upon transitioning to the AFL ranks – hence his slide to pick 34.

But the Sandringham graduate has all the smarts, agility, and professionalism to break into the Kangaroos’ side in 2020 should his first opportunity not be afforded here. Employed mostly as a small forward by North, Mahony will use his work rate to get up the field as a high half-forward, while also getting back deep inside attacking 50 to generate terrific creative output and a sneaky goal threat.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“While big-bodied and athletic midfielders seem to be the in-vogue archetype for recruiters in the modern game, Sandringham’s Mahony proved this year that smaller, creative types can have just as much of an impact through the engine room. Touted as a high-end prospect from as early as his Under-16 year, Mahony has consistently performed for the Dragons when available, while also proving a match winner for Vic Metro and school side, St Kevin’s.

“The final on-field glimpse we got of Mahony was one which stuck in the memory, with his 19 disposals and three goals against the Allies very nearly dragging Vic Metro over the line to end a sub-par carnival. His combination of shrewd winning, spread from the contest, and crafty use going forward make him relevant in many ways, with the potential to continue as a forward flanker absolutely there.”

Tristan Xerri* (Western Jets)

From small to tall, Xerri is the other possible Kangaroos debutant for Round 4. With Mason Wood a key omission, Xerri could well slot straight into the forward line to provide a touch more height, while also aiding Todd Goldstein in the ruck. The Western Jets product is a terrific overhead marker and remains strong in one-on-one situations or in the ruck, with his 201cm frame a constant presence around the ground. He has been a big improver upon entering the AFL system, and could be in with a shot in 2020.

Draft Central’s 2018 Player Profile Summary:

“Xerri is a raw tall who despite his 96kg frame is still learning the game. At times he would make some mindboggling decisions on the field, but he seemed better suited in the ruck than up forward. He is a nice field kick who, while not overly quick, is good in the air and can play deep or high in the forward line.”


WESTERN BULLDOGS: 

Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)

The sole player on this list to have already taken the field in Round 4, Butler was a late pick by the Bulldogs in last year’s draft, but impressed enough on the training track to make a steep rise into the senior side. A classic rebounding half-back who is hard at the contest and uses the ball well, Butler looked relatively comfortable among more experienced peers, collecting 14 disposals (11 kicks) in his side’s Thursday night victory over Sydney.

Draft Central’s 2019 Player Profile Summary:

“High-possession half-back flankers are dime-a-dozen in each draft crop, but Sandringham’s Butler is one with a point of difference. The ultra-competitive defender has not only proven his worth in setting up play from the back half with long rebounding kicks, but also showed traits more typical of lock-down types.

“Early in the year, Butler caught the eye with his ability to get to a number of contests on the defensive arc and sweep the ball up at pace, earning a spot in the Vic Metro side for all four games before being tried in a couple of different roles upon re-joining the Dragons squad. The kick-happy prospect seldom had a game under 20 disposals across his 10 NAB League games, getting as high as 31 touches and averaging 22.3 to show marked improvement in his impact on games from his bottom-age year.

* – denotes named in extended squad.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 11 – Gippsland the big winners on super Saturday

FIVE of the six fixtures scheduled for Round 11 of the 2019 NAB League were played out on a super Saturday, with Gippsland among the big winners. In an interesting quirk, the eventual top four sides all squared off against each other, with the Power facing Oakleigh, while Eastern and Sandringham went head-to-head in Sunday’s lone fixture. Mars Stadium in Ballarat hosted the lone double-header of the weekend, while Tasmania was again raided by a Victorian side and Calder enjoyed the bye.

That side was Northern, who came out narrow nine-point winners against the Devils at Kingston Twins Ovals. The Knights looked to be coasting to victory having led at every break, laying claim to a 19-point buffer at three-quarter time, and extending the margin out to 34 points less that 10 minutes into the final term. A late charge by the home side would fall short as Northern took its foot off the gas, but still travelled back to Victoria with the four points.

Tasmania’s Jordan Lane booted a game-high with three majors as his side’s only multiple goalkicker, while Carlton draftee Sam Philp shared top honours in the ball winning stakes alongside Josh D’Intinosante with 30 disposals apiece. Oliver Davis fared best for Tasmania in that department with 28 touches, while fellow bottom-agers Patrick Walker (25 disposals, one goal) and Jackson Callow (16 disposals, 1.2) also impressed.

Heading back to Victoria, and Western made its trip to Ballarat a fruitful one by trumping the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. In a similar vein to Northern, the Jets led at every break in the low-scoring affair, but were made to work for their victory as GWV pulled to within a single point midway through the final term. The fightback would again prove too little, too late though, as Western held on to secure its seventh win.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton was the only player to boot multiple majors (two), with individual goalkickers spread across the two sides. Liam Herbert (28 disposals) and Mitch Martin were among the Rebels to find a good amount of ball and the big sticks, with Carlton rookie Josh Honey (16 disposals) Western’s highest disposal winner to also bag a goal. Daly Andrews impressed with 27 touches, as did the pairing of Josh Kellett and Lucas Rocci in defence.

They say when it rains, it pours, and that proved the case for Dandenong after having its undefeated streak snapped in Round 10, following it up with another loss – this time to the Murray Bushrangers to the tune of 34 points. Murray’s inaccuracy was the only factor keeping the Stingrays in the game for the best part of three quarters, with its 25 scoring shots to 11 only yielding a 19-point lead at the main break. The Bushrangers finally managed to reverse the trend in the fourth term to run out comfortable winners.

Ryley Bouker and Dominic Bedendo were a couple of bottom-age Bushrangers to impress in front of goal, evenly sharing six of their side’s goals in the win. Another bottom-age pair, Max Gregory and Jai Neal also booted multiple goals, combining for four of Dandenong’s 10 majors. Murray’s hold on the game shone through in its ball winners, with Cam Wild (29 disposals) and Jye Chalcraft (27) well ahead of Dandenong’s best in Bayleigh Welsh, who managed 19 touches and a goal.

In the second game of Saturday’s Ballarat double-header, two country sides went at it for the second time in season 2019. Bendigo would again come up trumps over Geelong, setting up the 29-point win with a six-goal to one second term and holding on to secure victory despite being kept scoreless in the final quarter. The Falcons’ superior finish provided a slight positive despite the loss, as the young side had become known for late fade-outs.

Big-bodied bottom-ager Josh Treacy had a good day at the office with four goals, while the over-age Harry Stubbings also booted multiple goals (two) from his 19 disposals. Sharing the spoils as top ball winners were Geelong’s Keidan Rayner and Bendigo’s Ben Worme with 26 touches apiece, while 2020 Falcons co-captain Cam Fleeton continued his mid-season rise with 21 disposals from defence, and Swans draftee Brady Rowles found the ball 15 times.

Morwell was the next country venue to host NAB League action, as Gippsland took on Oakleigh in what would end up being a qualifying final preview. But the strong Power unit took home the points on this occasion against the undermanned Chargers, keeping them scoreless in the third term while booting five majors of their own to make up most of the eventual 46-point winning margin.

The day arguably belonged to rookie draftee Fraser Phillips, who booted 5.3 from 20 disposals in a huge outing, with Tom Fitzpatrick the sole other multiple goalkicker. St Kilda recruit Leo Connolly led all comers with 32 disposals and a goal, while bottom-ager Sam Berry and former skipper Brock Smith were among three players to notch 26 touches. Vincent Zagari (22 disposals) was Oakleigh’s leading ball winner, followed by bolting 19-year-old forward Cooper Sharman (20 disposals, one goal) on a down day for the eventual premiers.

Sunday’s sole fixture again proved to be a finals preview, as Eastern and Sandringham did battle in a top of the table clash at Box Hill City Oval. Both teams were slightly undermanned, especially the Dragons, and it somewhat showed as the low-scoring affair was played on the terms of the structured and disciplined Ranges side. They would prove a tough nut to crack, holding out for the 18-point victory and keeping Sandringham goalless in the final term.

Big forwards Ben Hickleton and Billy McCormack combined for five of Eastern’s eight goals, with no Dragon able to find the big sticks on multiple occasions. Darcy Chirgwin led the ball winning stakes though with 32 touches, while eventual draftee Ryan Byrnes managed 21 of his own. Jarrod Gilbee (26 disposals) was Eastern’s leading possession getter, followed closely by usual suspects Zak Pretty (24) and Lachlan Stapleton (22).

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 10 – Stingrays finally beaten, Ranges go top

ROUND 10 of last year’s NAB League saw Dandenong’s seven-game unbeaten run come to an empathic end, as Eastern produced one of the more remarkable performances of the season to jump into top spot. For the second round running, all bar one of the Victorian Metro sides secured wins while Murray was the lone Country side to do so, and Bendigo enjoyed a bye.

Northern’s 11-goal thumping of reigning premier, Dandenong opened the weekend at Shepley Oval, with the Stingrays managing just one goal after half time in front of a home crowd. Meanwhile, the Knights would excel, booting 10 majors over the same period in a ruthless display forward of centre to run home 67-point winners.

Ben Major (three goals), Josh D’Intinosante, and Carlton draftee Sam Philp (both two) found the big sticks more than once among Northern’s 12 individual goalkickers, with Philp’s 19 disposals also among his side’s best. Ashton Williamson booted multiples for the Stingrays, while Adam Carafa (24 disposals) led 2020 co-captain Ewan Macpherson (21) as the leading ball winner. Academy member Will Bravo also impressed with 16 for Dandenong.

The round’s next fixture proved to be a far more tense one as Sandringham and Geelong opened a Mars Stadium double-header. The Falcons looked to be coasting to victory in a low-scorer having kept Sandringham to 1.7 in the first half and extended the lead to 30 points in the third term. But as was the case for much of 2019, Geelong faded late with two of Sandringham’s 18 behinds crawling the Dragons over the line.

The one-two combination of Charlie Sprague and Ollie Henry produced five of Geelong’s eight goals, with no Sandringham player breaking through for multiples. That could well have been different had Archie Perkins and Jake Bowey put one of their combined eight behinds on target. Angus Hanrahan led the winners’ disposal count with 26, while Charlie Harris (27) and Cam Fleeton (24) were Geelong’s best in that department.

Skipping out to Morwell, and Western stamped its finals claim with an upset 18-point win over top-three fancy, Gippsland on the road. The Jets led all day and put eight more scoring shots on the board in their big win, restricting the Power to just one goal at one end of the ground.

Harvey Neocleous popped up to boot four of Gippsland’s seven goals from his 20 disposals, with Western’s Emerson Jeka the only other to bag multiple goals (two). St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly led all comers with 28 disposals, while Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (25) did the same for the winners with bottom-age Academy gun Eddie Ford (17 disposals, one goal) also lively.

Back in Ballarat in the second of two games, home side Greater Western Victoria (GWV) was absolutely dismantled by the rampaging Eastern Ranges. The Rebels were kept goalless across the match and scoreless for half of it in the 111-point thumping as Eastern had their way en-route to an 18.8 effort in tricky conditions.

One of the more incredible efforts for the weekend was Jordan Jaworski‘s seven-goal haul, backed by three each from Connor Downie and Jamieson Rossiter. Zak Pretty had a game-high 35 disposals, while Tyler Edwards saw it 31 times – equal to GWV’s best in that department, Jack Tillig. Cricketing convert Wil Parker was the other player to notch 30 disposals, with the Ranges’ defence solid as ever.

Oakleigh’s win over Calder was the only other Saturday result, as the away side stormed home to notched a big victory. The game opened up after a close first term, with Oakleigh’s nine-goal to two second half consolidating the win to the tune of 69 points.

The Chargers’ high-end bottom-agers went to work, with potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booting five goals, while Will Phillips (33 disposals), Fraser Elliot (32), and Lochlan Jenkins (27) were menacing from midfield. Incredibly, four Chargers booted two goals, with Jeremy O’Sullivan the only Cannon to do so. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay was among his side’s leading ball winners, trailing only Ned Gentile with 24 touches.

Sunday’s sole fixture saw the competition again head down to Tasmania, as Murray crossed Bass Strait to take on the Devils in Launceston. The action was relatively straightforward for the visitors as they broke out to an early lead and never looked back, resisting Tasmania’s 2.7 final term to coast home 38-point victors.

Over-ager Zane Barzen was one of just two Bushrangers to boot multiple goals, while Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals), Dylan Clarke (25), and Charlie Byrne (22) went to work with ball in hand. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness fared best for Tasmania with 21 touches, while Murray bottom-ager Dominic Bedendo impressed on the back of 1.2 from his 18 disposals.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 9 – Metro sides enjoy a field day

SIX fixtures were spilt evenly across Saturday and Sunday in Round 9 of 2019’s NAB League competition, with all bar one of the Victorian Metropolitan clubs picking up four points. Beneficiaries of that stat, Eastern and Sandringham jumped Gippsland to soar into the top three, but still trailed Dandenong by half a game. Six separate venues would also be utilised across the weekend in both Country and Metro regions.

The weekend’s action kicked off in typically tough Ballarat conditions as the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels hosted Tasmania at Mars Stadium. Both sides struggled for accuracy in front of goal, combining for 15.30 on the day, but the Devils effort of 10.16 would see them home comfortably to the tune of 32 points.

In terms of ball winning, the day belonged to Riley Polkinghorne, who racked up a game-high 39 disposals – 14 touches adrift from the next best effort, achieved by Tasmania’s Matt McGuiness and Oliver Davis. In front of goal, it was Jackson Callow who stole the show with four goals, double the tally of any other player afield.

A rare outing for Northern at Preston City Oval followed just after midday, but the Knights fell nine points short in their homecoming at the hands of Calder. An even start would soon be left behind by the Cannons, who shot away to a handy three-goal buffer at the main break and would hold on by a little over a goal in the end.

Calder’s Max Simpson led all comers with 27 disposals, followed closely by Carlton draftee Sam Philp (25) and new Adelaide rookie Ayce Taylor (22). Knights skipper Jackson Davies was also prominent, and forward James Lucente booted three goals. He was matched by Calder’s Jeremy O’Sullivan in that department, while Philp’s Blues teammate Sam Ramsay collected 19 touches.

A pair of monster efforts in front of goal helped Oakleigh to a big win over Murray on the road, keeping touch with the top three in the process. The Chargers led all day, breaking the game open in the second and third terms to coast home 57-point winners.

Conor Stone and Nicholas Stathopoulos did the damage inside forward 50, snaring five goals each in standout performances. Jeromy Lucas and Murray’s Jimmy Boyer shared top ball winning honours with 27 disposals each, followed by Oakleigh bottom-agers Fraser Elliot (26) and Lochlan Jenkins (24, two goals), while Charlie Byrne managed 22 in a losing effort.

Eastern’s run of form continued with another well-managed win, coming on home turf to the tune of 40 points against the struggling Geelong Falcons. The Ranges kept their opponents goalless in the second and fourth terms while adding three goals in each of those periods to make up much of the final margin in an efficient display.

Mitch Mellis‘ mammoth 39-disposal effort was massive for the winners, as teammate Zak Pretty also made his mark with 28 disposals and one goal, and diminutive forward Jonte Duffy booted a game-high three goals. Chas Karpala led Geelong for disposals with 24, followed by Sam Bourke (21) in a Falcons side stacked with 11 bottom-agers.

Western soared to a 42-point victory over Bendigo in Sunday’s second fixture, at another venue renowned for its tricky conditions, Williamstown Oval. It was all one-way traffic after the Pioneers snuck ahead by a goal at the main break, as the Jets piled on eight majors while keeping their opponents to just three behinds for the entire second half.

Samuel Clifford booted 4.1 from his seven disposals as the most effective forward afield, with two other Jets also bagging multiple goals. Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci had the ball on a string from defence, collecting it 34 times, while Eddie Ford also impressed with his 22 touches. For Bendigo, Logan Fitzgerald saw it 29 times, followed by Sam Conforti (27) and Jack Evans (23).

Arguably the most high-level clash was left til last in Round 9, as Gippsland and Sandringham closed the show in Morwell. Despite boasting the home ground advantage and a half time lead, the Power were overrun by the Dragons, as the winners booted seven goals to three after the main break to ensure a 25-point triumph.

Kyle Yorke incredibly kicked half of his side’s goals as the only player to bag multiples, booting 5.2 from 19 disposals and nine marks. Lachlan Lamble, Jackson Voss, and Blake O’Leary all collected 27 touches to lead the way for Sandringham, while Leo Connolly and Jake Van Der Plight combined to do so for Gippsland with 20 disposals each.