Tag: Sam Thorne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 4 – Academies run riot among joint top four

DESPITE reverting back to a six-game format after Round 3’s nine-game marathon, there was plenty of worthy action to come out of Round 4 of last year’s NAB League season. The Northern Academies continued to get into the swing of things, with two of them making up a top four all joined on 12 points by the weekend’s conclusion. Fans were treated to two separate double-headers – at Southport and Sandringham – while Calder became the first side to make the trip down to Tasmania to face the Devils. All six Victorian Country sides underwent a bye round, while some of the remaining Metro clubs took slightly weakened line-ups into their matches.

First to take the park in Saturday’s lone pair of fixtures were the Northern Knights and GWS GIANTS Academy, with the New South Welshmen overcoming a half time deficit to storm home 26-point winners. A four-goal to one third term proved the difference for GWS as both sides struggled for accuracy in front of goal in the face of Sandringham’s coastal breeze.

GIANTS Academy jet Tom Green had a day out as his side’s only eventual draftee afield, racking up a game-high 38 disposals as far-and-away the best player on the park. Carlton may have bid on Green in last year’s draft, but would end up taking arguably the next best inside midfielder out there on this occasion within the first round in Sam Philp, who competed hard for his team-high 26 touches. Ayce Taylor, the only other draftee was quiet with eight disposals, while newly-made Knight Liam Delahunty booted three goals, and former Oakleigh recruit Jeromy Lucas managed two majors from his 28 disposals.

Sydney faced a tough test next up on the Trevor Barker Beach Oval turf, facing the talented – albeit slightly compromised – Sandringham side on its home patch. But lead by an inspired couple of bottom-aged smalls, the Swans were able to get on top and stay there for an unlikely win against the eventual preliminary finalists. A 10-goal to five opening half made for an unassailable lead, with the Dragons pouring on some late consolations to bring the final margin to a more respectable 22 points.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan was Sandringham’s best, covering the ground well for 28 touches and 2.4, while bottom-agers Darby Hipwell (24 disposals, 0.3) and Archie Perkins (16 disposals, two goals) enjoyed some added responsibility given Sandringham’s many omissions. 2020 over-age hopeful Kyle Yorke also impressed with three majors, but was ultimately outdone by Sydney bottom-age gun Braeden Campbell, who booted four from his 13 disposals. Allies squad member Hamish Ellem also managed two majors alongside Sam Thorne, but it was Errol Gulden who caught the eye on the outside and going forward, as he amassed 27 disposals and a goal to continue his electrifying form.

Fast forward a day and travelling up to Southport were the Oakleigh Chargers to take on Gold Coast’s Academy, minus all of their 2019 draftees. The squad shuffling and travel took toll as the visitors went down by a resounding 71 points to the SUNS, managing just three goals in an unusually impotent performance going forward. With eight goals to one in a dominant second half, the home side took away the four points and rose atop of the NAB League ladder with its perfect 3-0 record.

Connor Budarick took the field with fellow SUNS draftees Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh, returning a best afield performance on the back of his game-high 28 disposals and one major. The two aforementioned talls were quieter with a combined 11 disposals, but also contributed three collective goals and 29 hitouts. Josh Gore could have had a day out had he been more accurate than his 2.5 from 20 disposals, while 2020 prospect Alex Davies found it 16 times and also booted a goal. For Oakleigh, over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney stood up to amass 26 disposals, followed by Kaden Schreiber‘s 24. 2020 top-ager Lochlan Jenkins had it 17 times, while Collingwood NGA prospect Reef McInnes was a touch quieter with 13 disposals – two less than 2020 19-year-old prospect Jacob Woodfull‘s 15 to go with 16 hitouts.

The second match in the Sunshine State saw Eastern come from behind to down an accurate Brisbane Lions Academy, with a pair of Richmond draftees having an impact on the contest among a raft of bottom-aged talent. The Ranges had the better of the first half in tricky conditions, but found themselves behind come three quarter time as the Lions turned up the heat. The eventual minor premiers had plenty left in the tank though, booting five goals to Brisbane’s one in an epic final term surge.

At the forefront of the win was bottom-ager Salele Faegaimalii, who racked up 28 disposals and slammed home two goals from midfield in a barnstorming performance. He was supported well by half-back Joshua Clarke, who booted a terrific goal from his 21 touches, while cricketing prodigy Wil Parker found it 14 times. For the Lions, skipper Will Martyn amassed a monster 37 disposals, while fellow Richmond recruit Noah Cumberland snared three goals from 15 touches. Others to impress were bottom-agers Saxon Crozier (24 touches), Carter Michael (19), and Blake Coleman (four goals), while bigmen Tom Wischnat (19 disposals, three goals) and Ben Hickleton (three goals) also had a say for their respective sides. But is was Eastern’s team spread which won it on the day and earned a top four berth.

Down on the Apple Isle, Tasmania made good on its first full-time hosting duties in the NAB League, knocking over Calder by 12 points at Penguin Reserve. While the Devils were essentially at full strength, the Cannons were missing a few top-age stars but came in boasting some promising bottom-agers to match that of their opponent. After a goalless opening term, the game picked up with Tasmania kicking out to a 21-point lead at the main break despite only having one more scoring shot. The Devils’ accuracy held them in good stead, helping them to maintain the lead in the face of Calder’s greater number of opportunities come the final siren.

The only two draftees afield both donned the Tasmanian green, with AFL rookies Mitch O’Neill (16 disposals) and Matthew McGuiness (20) both having their say in patches. But the impressive bottom-age contingent featuring Patrick Walker (24 disposals, one goal), Oliver Davis (19 disposals), Sam Collins (18), and Jackson Callow (four goals) mattered most, with 16-year-old Division 2 MVP Sam Banks also collecting 17 touches on his NAB League debut. For Calder, Essendon NGA prospect Cody Brand booted three goals to prove his versatility, but it was Harrison Minton-Connell who led the way with 26 touches and 1.3 from midfield. Coburg-listed over-ager Tye Browning had it 22 times, with Lions teammate Ben Overman notching 17 touches from defence, and bottom-aged gun Jackson Cardillo showing his potential with 15 disposals.

The final game of the round brought us to our fourth venue, as Western Jets thumped the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 71 points at Downer Oval in Williamstown. While the Jets struggled to adjust to their ‘home’ conditions with a massive 24 behinds, their weight of opportunities ensured they would also put 18 shots through the big sticks to deliver the winning score. For the Thunder, who ran out of legs after a bright opening term, this would be their third loss in as many NAB League appearances for the year.

Western’s bigmen stood tall on the day, with Aaron Clarke booting 4.6 from 18 disposals and 10 marks, while former-Sandringham product Will Kennedy had 25 disposals and 28 hitouts in the ruck, providing terrific service to fellow over-ager Daly Andrews (25 disposals, six inside 50s). There was a bunch of talent which ran out for the Thunder, as Maurice Rioli Jnr made his debut with 16 touches, Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell starred with 18 disposals and a goal, and Brandon Rusca lead the disposal count with 25. Stephen Cumming battled hard in the ruck for 18 touches, 30 hitouts and a goal, while Tyson Woods was the standout forward (13 disposals, 3.2).

Classic Contests: Swans strong start helps them fly past Dragons

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 4 clashes in the NAB League this year between Sandringham Dragons and Sydney Swans Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 in the only other previous clash between these sides where the Swans got the win at Trevor Barker Oval.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.3 | 5.5 | 7.9 | 12.11 (83)
SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.1 | 10.4 | 14.6 | 16.9 (105)

Round 4 | Saturday, April 13 2019
Trevor Barker Oval, 1.15pm

Given Round 4 of the 2019 NAB League season clashed with the Vic Metro trials, Sandringham Dragons headed into their home match with Sydney Swans Academy understrength. The Swans were coming off a couple of impressive wins against Tasmania Devils and GWS GIANTS Academy, and welcomed back star bottom ager, Errol Gulden into the mix for this game.

The Swans showed plenty of intent through the early stages of the match, rushing to a 16-point lead at quarter time courtesy of five goals on the board. Gulden was already starting to have an impact in his return, while the Swans forwards were sharing the ball around well. They piled on more pain in the second term by booting 5.3 to 3.2 and raced out to a 29-point advantage at the main break. Returning after half-time, the Dragons seemed to gel better with a largely new-look outfit for the game with so many changes. They kicked a couple of majors, but the Swans further increased their lead with four goals to head into the last break 39 points in front. The final term saw the home team click and pile on five last quarter goals to come close, but ultimately fall short as the Swans managed to steady in the quarter with two majors to ensure they held on by 22 points.

Gulden finished the game with a match-high 27 disposals and 10 inside 50s, as well as six marks and a goal for his troubles using his pace and skill on the outside. On the inside, it was the likes of Sam Thorne (22 disposals, four marks, four tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s and two goals) and Ky McGrath (15 disposals, three tackles, eight clearances and one goal) and Aidan Watling (15 disposals, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and one goal) who did the grunt work and also all hit the scoreboard. Luke Parks (19 disposals, six marks and six rebounds), Josh Rayner (15 disposals, five marks, five tackles and six rebounds) and Jacob Dol (13 disposals, four marks and five rebounds) were instrumental in defence. The cream on the cake belonged to another highly talented bottom-ager in Braeden Campbell who snagged four majors from 13 disposals, four tackles and three inside 50s in the win. Harry Maguire (three goals), Hamish Ellem (two) and Thomas Tyson (two) were others to kick multiple goals.

For the Dragons, overage midfielder, Angus Hanrahan tried to get his side going, picking up 28 disposals, nine marks, seven inside 50s and two goals, while Bill Mackay (24 disposals – 18 contested – four marks, five clearances and five inside 50s) and bottom-age hope Darby Hipwell (24 disposals – 12 contested – four tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds) worked hard at the coal face. Kyle Yorke was the leading goalkicker with three majors from 12 disposals and seven marks, while Jai Florent – brother of Ollie who ironically is a Swan – booted two majors from 12 disposals. Bottom ager Archie Perkins had a prominent day out with 16 disposals, four marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and two goals, as over ager Riley Bowman showed off his experience through the ruck thanks to 15 touches, five marks, five tackles, 35 hitouts, four clearances and a goal.

The Dragons would go on to reach a preliminary final before falling short to Oakleigh Chargers, while the Swans would finish second overall in the Academy Series to Gold Coast Suns in a successful campaign.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classic Contests: Second half dominance sees Swans fly

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 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between Sydney Swans Academy and GWS GIANTS Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, as both teams are new to the competition and therefore only have the one previous meeting.

GWS GIANTS 4.3 | 5.7 | 7.7 | 7.9 (51)
SYDNEY SWANS 2.1 | 4.5 | 11.6 | 16.14 (110)

Round 3 | Saturday, April 6, 2019
Manuka Oval, 11am

The two sides from New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) faced off in the nation’s capital at Manuka Oval to try and grab bragging rights in the inaugural NAB League Boys game between the teams. Both these sides had some draft prospects, with GIANTS’ inside midfielder Tom Green the pick of the bunch for 2020. Sydney had plenty of depth in the side though, with Braeden Campbell one of a number of talented bottom-agers, though the Swans were without star midfielder, Errol Gulden for the clash. Sydney was coming off a 14-point triumph over Tasmania the week before, while GWS GIANTS fell to Brisbane by 26 points in the match immediately after.

Sydney started strongly with the first goal on the board to Aidan Watling just 41 seconds into the match. Soon enough though, the GIANTS piled on four consecutive majors, including ones to Green and fellow draft hopeful, Liam Delahunty. A late goal to Sydney’s Harry Maguire gave them some ascendancy heading into the first break trailing by 14 points. Campbell’s major just a minute into the next term brought the margin back to eight, but when James Peatling converted a chance midway through the term, GWS led by 14 points, which would be the largest margin for the rest of the game.

Coming out all guns-blazing in the second half, Sydney piled on the goals early with Marc Sheather, Campbell, Harrison Parker and Kyle McKellar blowing the margin out to 17 points. A much-needed major from Delahunty followed, before Campbell kicked his third. Peatling had his second on the board with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, which would prove to be the last goal of the game for the GIANTS as they would kick just two behinds while the Swans booted the last seven goals of the game in a 16.13 (110) to 7.9 (51) victory.

Jackson Barling won the most touches in the Swans’ win, picking up 24 disposals, as well as six marks, four tackles and three clearances. Lachlan Swaney was not far behind with 22 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal while captain Sam Thorne had 19 disposals, six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. Parker capped off his day with three goals from 15 touches, three marks, three clearances and six inside 50s, while Campbell (three goals), McKellar (two), Sheather (two) and Hamish Ellem (two) alls recorded multiple majors. Kyle Martin was another who was strong in defence, picking up five rebounds to go with 14 disposals and four marks.

It was no surprise to see Green as the standout GIANT, racking up 28 disposals (15 contested), six marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Peatling was damaging with 24 disposals (10 contested), seven marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals. Other Academy members who stood out were Jeromy Lucas (25 disposals, four marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) and Matthew McGrory (18 disposals, four marks, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal), while Nick Murray was a rock in defence, picking up 15 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds.

Sydney would go on to finish second overall in the series, just percentage behind Gold Coast Suns Academy, while the GIANTS would end with a couple of wins from their five games.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 2 – Academies join competition

ROUND 2 last year will be forever known as the return of Allied teams to the Victorian Under-18 boys competition. While some states have participated in past years on and off, all four northern Academies, along with Northern Territory Thunder joined the competition. Tasmania Devils also joined in, but on a full-time basis, with the Devils playing their first official match in the round across a whopping nine games.

Kicking off the round as part of a Triple Header at Blacktown, Tasmania travelled north for its first game, coming up against Sydney Swans Academy. The Devils had to wait until the second term to score, as the Swans booted 3.7 before Nicholas Baker made history as the first official goalkicker for the Devils. A goal to Jye Menzie just 19 seconds into the third term saw the margin cut as little as five points, but that was as close as it got for the rest of the game as the Swans booted the last three goals of the term to be 26 points up at the final break. Jackson Callow converted another major in the opening minute of the final term to give his team a sniff, and by the time Will Harper put his second on the board, the margin was just nine points with 14 minutes remaining. Unfortunately for the visitors, Marc Sheather kicked a settling goal to help ease the pressure and the Swans got up by 14 points.

Bottom-age talent, Errol Gulden had a day out with 33 disposals, six marks, three tackles, two clearances, eight inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, with Sam Thorne (23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) also prominent for the Swans. Another talented bottom ager in Braeden Campbell collected 15 disposals, three marks, eight tackles and five inside 50s, while Kyle McKellar and Jackson Barling were also impressive. For the Devils, overager Matthew McGuinness picked up 27 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds, working hard with Patrick Walker (25 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds) and Sam Collins (23 disposals, five marks and nine rebounds) in defence. The Devils’ top rated prospect, Mitch O’Neill helped himself to 21 touches, nine tackles, 12 clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds in the loss.

In the next game at Blacktown, the Brisbane Lions Academy fought back from a disappointing first quarter to down the GIANTS Academy, winning 14.12 (96) to 10.10 (70). GWS led by 19 points at quarter time, but a six goals to three second term had Brisbane just three points down by the main break. A seven goals to three second half saw the Lions run over the top of the GIANTS despite the best efforts of GIANTS star, Tom Green (29 disposals – 18 contested – nine clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and three tackles).

Will Martyn (30 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, as was the likes of Tom Griffiths (20 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Ethan Hunt (19 disposals) and Bruce Reville (16 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s). Aside from Green, Jeromy Lucas had his fair share of the ball with 24 touches, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Matt McGrory (18 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s), Nick Murray (19 disposals, 10 marks), Lachlan Squire (15 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Liam Delahunty (15 disposals, seven marks, three inside 50s and three goals) all impressed.

Rounding out the triple header at Blacktown, Gold Coast Suns Academy never looked like losing to Northern Territory. The Suns piled on eight goals to one in the opening half, and while the Thunder hit back in the third term to cut the deficit to 31 points, Gold Coast stepped up again to boot three goals to one in the final term and win by 44 points.

Ashton Crossley had 27 disposals and seven clearances through the midfield, while top prospect, Connor Budarick racked up 22 touches, six marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal across the ground. Bottom-age talent, Alex Davies had 22 touches, nine clearances, four tackles and four inside 50s, while Max Pescud (20 touches, three clearances and three inside 50s), Hewago Paul Oea (16 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal) and Josh Gore (15 touches, three marks, seven tackles and three goals) all looked lively. Future Sun, Matthew Conroy looked strong through the ruck with 22 hitouts from 15 touches, three marks and a goal.

Heading down to Victoria and Dandenong Stingrays caused a boil-over against premiership contenders, Gippsland Power. The reigning premiers had a new-look line-up after the 2018 success, but started strongly to lead by a goal at quarter time. Gippsland hit the front to have the advantage by half-time, but it flipped again by the last break with the Stingrays in front by four points. When Bailey Schmidt kicked a goal with six minutes to play, the Stingrays hit the front and never surrendered it in a match that had a whopping 11 lead changes.

Mitch Riordan picked up 23 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds in one of his few games before being selected in the mid-season draft, as captain Hayden Young was strong off half-back with 21 disposals, four marks, five tackles and three rebounds. Jack Toner (19 touches, two marks, five tackles, five clearances and seven inside 50s) had a truckload of the ball, while future first round pick, Cody Weightman racked up 14 disposals, five marks, six tackles and a goal. Other future draftees who played in the game included Ned Cahill (12 disposals, seven tackles and a goal), Bigoa Nyuon (six disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal) and Sam De Koning (four disposals).

For the Power, first round picks Sam Flanders (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) and Caleb Serong (21 disposals, nine tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) were prominent. Another mid-season recruit in Kyle Dunkley (20 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) was lively again, while Leo Connolly (16 disposals, three marks and six rebounds), Fraser Phillips (15 disposals, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Harrison Pepper (14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, three clearances and one goal) were among other future draftees who impressed.

In the other Saturday game, Murray Bushrangers had a second heart-breaking loss in a row, losing by five points to Bendigo Pioneers after dropping their first game by under a kick. They led by 18 points at the first change, but the Pioneers booted three goals to zero in the second term to lead by half-time, and then a see-sawing contest ensued with the Pioneers saluting in a thrilling game.

Thomson Dow was busy with 24 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven clearances and a goal, as fellow first round pick, Brodie Kemp had a strong day out with 17 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal. Future Swan, Brady Rowles would have 12 touches, two clearances and two inside 50s, while Logan Fitzgerald (22 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and four rebounds) had plenty of the ball. Cam Wild was the prominent ball winner with 30 touches, seven marks, seven tackles, seven clearances, three inside 50s and six rebounds, while top five pick Lachlan Ash had 26 touches, eight marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds. Jye Chalcraft (26 touches, four marks, six clearances and two goals), Will Quirk (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Elijah Hollands (22 disposals, three marks and a goal) were also impressive.

Looking to Sunday, Sandringham Dragons continued their form to start the season with a comfortable 43-point win over Northern Knights. The Dragons booted six goals to two in the opening half and then kept their opponents at arms-length after that to secure a strong win in the first of two games at Trevor Barker Oval.

Ryan Byrnes picked up 24 touches, two marks, four tackles and six clearances, as Louis Butler looked lively across the ground thanks to 18 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Jack Mahony (17 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s), Hugo Ralphsmith (17 disposals, three marks), Josh Worrell (17 disposals, seven marks and three rebounds) and Finn Maginness (14 disposals, six tackles and four inside 50s) were among future draftees to win plenty of the ball as Charlie Dean caught attention with four majors from 15 touches and eight marks. Adam Carafa (28 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s) and Sam Philp (18 disposals, eight marks and five clearances) were busy through midfield, while Ryan Gardner (19 disposals, five inside 50s) worked the outside and Ryan Sturgess (22 touches, eight rebounds) was strong in defence.

A dominant six goals to zero first term set Eastern Ranges up for an impressive 63-point win over Western in the second game of a double header at Trevor Barker Oval. With 13 scoring shots to one in the first term, the margin could have been bigger than the 42 points, and while Western managed to stem the bleeding after that, the Ranges had opened up a 58-point lead by the final break to ensure they would enjoy a big win.

Mitch Mellis (35 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and three goals) and Lachlan Stapleton (33 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, six clearances and 10 inside 50s) ran rampant as future Swan, Cody Hirst (29 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and three rebounds) and inside midfielder, Zakery Pretty (23 disposals, two marks, five clearances and five inside 50s were also prominent. Bottom-ager Josh Clarke work hard with his run-and-carry picking up 15 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and a goal, while Josh Tilly capped off his day with three majors. For the Jets, Darcy Cassar had the ball on a string from defence, racking up 31 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and nine rebounds, working in tandem with Daly Andrews (24 disposals, six marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and eight rebounds). Josh Kellett was instrumental mopping up in defence as well with 12 rebounds to go with his 20 touches in the defeat.

In the final game of the round, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels put the Round 1 heart-breaking loss to Dandenong Stingrays to the back of their mind as they came from behind to down the Geelong Falcons by a point in a thrilling contest. Darcy McEldrew kicked the winning goal late in the fourth term to get his side over the line. Jay Rantall was enormous in his second game for the Rebels, racking up 24 disposals, three marks, six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while James Cleaver booted two majors from 17 touches in his new role up forward. Cooper Craig-Peters impressive with six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds from 19 disposals and eight tackles, while Riley Polkinghorne had seven rebounds working hard out of defence.

Cooper Stephens led from the front in his last full game prior to injury, amassing a game-high 28 touches, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and a goal, while Charlie Lazzaro worked hard as a bottom-ager to pick up 26 touches, four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Out of defence, Keidan Rayner racked up 10 rebounds with his 25 disposals, while Jesse Clark had nine and 16 respectively. Also busy but in the other half of the ground was Charlie Sprague (23 disposals, three marks and seven inside 50s).

Vic Country makes it two on the trot with big win over Allies

VIC Country continued its ominous start to the AFL Under 18 National Championships, comprehensively beating the Allies by 97 points in Launceston on Sunday to stake its claim as the new team to beat.

Cody Weightman ensured Country got off on the right foot, reading a long-range Caleb Serong set shot best to win the spoils and snap an opportunistic first goal from deep in the pocket. After Will Chandler missed the chance to hit back with a free kick from 25 metres out, Tom Green and Hamish Ellem snapped wide with the Allies’ only other opportunities for the term. Serong made them pay shortly after two quick goals to go with a Jay Rantall major, seeing Country break to a 23-point quarter time lead.

It was more of the same after the first break, with Country dominating the course of general play to pile on another five majors. Weightman was again in the action, winning a free kick in his customary pocket and duly converting, with Thomson Dow slotting home from the goalsquare, while Mitch Martin and Lachlan Williams hit set shots from further out sweetly and Ned Cahill made it nine first half goals. While the Allies double their score in the term, they remained goalless heading into the main break.

Warning bells were ringing as an Elijah Hollands shot on the fly sailed on target to start the third term, but Tom Griffiths cut it off with a mark on the goal line. Vic Country had 54 points on the board before Jackson Barling marked strongly and made good on his set shot to give the Allies their first goal, but it would be their only big moment for the term as the Vics again kicked away. Another free kick inside 50 saw Josh Smith provide an immediate reply, while also playing a part in Cam Wild‘s goal shortly after. Ryan Sparkes put through another to make the lead 64 heading into the final straight, with the result well beyond doubt.

A Martin dribbler goal after some early deadlock meant it was party time for Country, as he celebrated his work with the ever exuberant Cahill. A double to Weightman, second from Rantall and third from Serong and Martin, ensured the visitors put their foot to the throat of the Allies, with the penultimate goal from Noah Cumberland the only resistance in a six goals to one closing term.

Lachlan Ash was again superb for Country, leading the ball-winning stakes with 30 and providing plenty of run, with his mates on the half-back line Brodie Kemp (20 disposals, 10 marks) and Hayden Young (18 disposals, seven marks) intercepting everything. Ash’s co-captain Serong was arguably best afield with 23 disposals and three goals with fantastic attack on the ball, joined with three goals by Martin but beaten out by Weightman’s four.

For the Allies, Mitch O’Neill was named best for his 26-disposal showing, while Green did a wealth of work on the inside to finish with 18 disposals (16 contested) and nine clearances in a more unheralded role. Tom Griffiths (21 disposals, three rebound 50s) collected plenty of it down back, with Will Martyn and Sam Thorne constants in the midfield with 16 disposals each, as Martyn also had five clearances on a tough day for his side.

ALLIES 0.2 | 0.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 (19)
VIC COUNTRY 4.1 | 9.2 | 12.4 | 18.8 (116)

GOALS
Allies: J. Barling, N. Cumberland.
Vic Country: C. Weightman 4, C. Serong 3, M. Martin 3, J. Rantall 2, L. Williams, R. Sparkes, C. Wild, J. Smith, N. Cahill, T. Dow.

BEST
Allies: M. O’Neill, N. Murray, T. Green, T. Griffiths, C. Budarick
Vic Country: C. Serong, B. Kemp, L. Ash, R. Baldi, H. Young, C. Weightman, J. Clark

2019 Draft Central Academy Team of the Series

SYDNEY Swans Academy has dominated our 2019 Draft Central Academy Team of the Series, with eight players inside the 24-man squad – one third of the side. While the Swans did not win the overall Division 2 Under 18 Championships, they did show off their depth, and had eight players who made our Team of the Week three or more times. The squad is comprised of 22 players who made our Team of the Week’s at least three times, with two players – Samson Ryan and Corey Joyce – making it twice, but were the top performers of those players with two nominations. Those who also had two nominations and narrowly missed out were Northern Territory’s Beau O’Connell, GWS GIANTS’ Hamish Grant, Brisbane Lions Academy’s Tom Wischnat and Gold Coast SUNS’ Jack Johnston and Hewago Paul Oea, while overage twins Matthew and Stephen Cumming also received two nominations.

Sydney’s representation sees the Swans have three players in defence, with Max Geddes, Jacob Dol and Luke Parks making up the back six, while Sam Thorne slots into midfield, forwards Hamish Ellem and Braeden Campbell sit inside 50, and Errol Gulden – who missed a couple of games – and Aidan Watling – are also in the team. Thorne and Dol were the top representatives for the Swans with four of a possible five nominations.

Gold Coast SUNS Academy won the title, and had four players make the side, with the even spread of players making it difficult to select just a few. Connor Budarick, Ashton Crossley and Josh Gore all easily qualify for the side with four nominations, while Joyce was one of three Suns to receive two, and was named on the bench.

Brisbane Lions Academy had the equal second most nominations of all sides with five, as Tom Griffiths and Will Martyn receiving four nominations, and Noah Cumberland and Bruce Reville having the three. Ryan’s work in the ruck throughout the series, along with his two nominations, was enough to see him fill the starting ruck position. He got the nod ahead of the two Cumming’s whose teammates, Ben Jungfer and Joel Jeffrey both made the side, while O’Connell was the unluckiest not to squeeze into the team.

Jungfer was one of just two players to be nominated every single week, joining GWS GIANTS’ Jeromy Lucas as five-time nominees and thus the pair are co-captains in the hypothetical team. Also in the team are GIANTS’ Thomas Green and Nick Murray who received four nominations apiece, while Liam Delahunty and James Peatling made it in for their three nominations each.

Allies announce 50-player squad for national championships

THE Allies have today announced the 50-player squad to take to the National Under 18 Championships following the conclusion of the NAB League Boys competition which gave the Allies teams a chance to test themselves against Victorian opponents ahead of the championships next month. Of the sides, Sydney Swans Academy had the most representatives with 10, while the two Queensland Academies had eight apiece as did Tasmania Devils. GWS GIANTS Academy and the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) region – comprised of Murray Bushrangers and Bendigo Pioneers – had six each, while Northern Territory had the four.

Among the names to watch are potential first round picks, Connor Budarick (Gold Coast), Mitch O’Neill (Tasmania) and Tom Green (GWS GIANTS), while the likes of Malcolm Rosas Jr (Northern Territory) and Hewago Paul Oea (Gold Coast) will provide excitement inside 50. The team will have some serious talent in the key position posts, with Liam Delahunty (GWS GIANTS), Jackson Callow (Tasmania) and Hamish Ellem (Sydney) among those talls vying for the spot, while Kobe Tozer has been named in the squad and will aim to return after some bad luck with injury. Both Murray Bushrangers and Bendigo Pioneers have three players in the side, with the first game to commence in Launceston on June 9.

Brisbane Lions Academy: [8]
Tom Griffiths (Maroochydore)
Will Martyn (Aspley)
Bruce Reville (Western Magpies/Maryborough)
Saxon Crozier (Wests)
Samson Ryan (Toowoomba)
Kobe Tozer (Aspley/Bribie Island)
Noah Cumberland (Maroochydore)
Nikolas Haberer (Sandgate/Caloundra)

Gold Coast SUNS Academy: [8]
Hewago Paul Oea (PNG/Broadbeach)
Connor Buderick (Labrador)
Ashton Crossley (Burleigh/Palm Beach Currumbin)
Alex Davies (Cairns Hawks)
Jack Johnston (Palm Beach Currumbin)
Matt Conroy (Hermit Park Townsville/Broadbeach)
Joshua Gore (Southport/Broadbeach)
Dirk Koenan (Palm Beach Currumbin)

GWS GIANTS Academy: [6]
Liam Delahunty (Coolamon)
Tom Green (Marist)
Jeromy Lucas (Northern Jets)
Matt McGrory (Gungahlin)
Nicholas Murray (Wangaratta Rovers)
James Peatling (Pennant Hills)

NSW/ACT: [6]
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)
Will Chandler (Murray Bushrangers)
Jake Dick-O’Flaherty (Bendigo Pioneers)
Logan Fitzgerald (Bendigo Pioneers)
Ben Kelly (Murray Bushrangers)
Will Shaw (Bendigo Pioneers)

Northern Territory Academy: [4]
Malcolm Rosas Jnr (Darwin)
Ben Jungfer (Waratah)
Joel Jeffrey (Wanderers)
Beau O’Connell (Wanderers)

Sydney Swans Academy: [10]
Jackson Barling (Willoughby Mosman)
Braeden Campbell (Westbrook)
Hamish Ellem (Manly Warringah)
Samuel Gaden (Easts Bulldogs)
Max Geddes (Easts Bulldogs)
Errol Gulden (Maroubra)
Ky McGrath (Warners Bay)
Luke Parks (North Shore)
Josh Rayner (North Shore)
Sam Thorne (Figtree Kangaroos)

Tasmania Devils: [8]
Hamish Allan (North Hobart)
Jackson Callow (North Launceston)
Sam Collins (North Hobart)
Jared Dakin (Launceston)
Oliver Davis (Clarence)
Mitch O’Neill (North Hobart)
Matt McGuinness (Lauderdale)
Will Peppin (North Hobart)

Allies Under 18 Championships fixture:

vs. Vic Country – Launceston, June 9
vs. Western Australia – Alberton Oval, June 22
vs. Vic Metro – GMHBA Stadium, June 28
vs. South Australia – Marvel Stadium, July 3

Team of the Week: Academy Series – Round 5

NEW South Wales and Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) sides had a good weekend across the NAB League with Sydney Swans Academy gaining an important win over Murray Bushrangers, and GWS GIANTS Academy narrowly going down to Gippsland Power. The two sides were recognised with a massive combined 14 players in the Draft Central Academy Series Team of the Week for Round 5. For the other three sides, they all suffered disappointing losses with Northern Territory Thunder (four representatives), Brisbane Lions Academy (three) and Gold Coast SUNS Academy (three).

Sydney Swans Academy’s sole win out of the five Academy sides saw Kyle Martin and Aidan Watling named up either end, Hamish Ellem locked into full-forward, Lachlan Swaney on a wing, Max Geddes pushed to a half-back flank after pushing back hard in the victory, and Callum Nash in the ruck. It meant one third of the starting side are Sydney Swans, with a further two – Jacob Dol and Sam Thorne – also making our bench in the Academy Series Team of the Week.

GWS GIANTS might not have won, but they lost no admirers against one of the strongest Victorian sides. Missing Tom Green, the GIANTS battled well throughout the match, with defender Nick Murray holding down centre half-back, midfielders Lachlan Squire and Hamish Grant having terrific games, and Shaun Driscoll and James Peatling in attack. Five of their six representatives are on the field, meaning half of the starting line-up is from the NSW/ACT Academies. Jeromy Lucas was the sixth player from the GIANTS to make the squad.

Of the three teams that suffered big losses, Northern Territory Thunder had four representatives, with Beau O’Connell, Joel Jeffrey and Matthew Cumming among the best, while Ben Jungfer made the team after a strong effort on the inside. Looking east to Queensland, both Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academies had three players in our Team of the Week. Tom Griffiths, Will Martyn and Bruce Reville are the Lions’ representatives, while Corey Joyce and Connor Budarick make the team again for Gold Coast, as does Max Pexcud.