Tag: Sandringham Dragons

Classic Contests: Jets stream past Dragons with inspired third term

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 Western Jets and Sandringham Dragons. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides did battle in early July.

2019 NAB League, Round 13
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval, Williamstown

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


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


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

Draftees in action:

Western: Josh Honey, Emerson Jeka
Finn Maginness, Ryan Byrnes, Hugo Ralphsmith, Louis Butler, Josh Worrell, Jack Bell

It seemed the end of the 2019 Under 18 National Championships, and a school football bye would spell trouble for the Western Jets as they readied to face Sandringham Dragons in Round 13 of the NAB League, but one inspired term helped the hosts pull of an unlikely victory at Downer Oval.

The Dragons welcomed back a host of big names, with six of their eventual nine draftees taking the field; including the likes of Josh Worrell, Finn Maginness, and Round 4 AFL debutant Louis Butler. Western would also lay claim to a good bunch of its top-end talent, led by 2019 rookie draftees Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka.

Some more respect could, or perhaps should have been shown to Western from the neutral, as the two sides sat level with 7-4 records to that point. Further to it, Sandringham’s form had somewhat abandoned them during an undermanned period, losing its last two matches and narrowly escaping a defeat to the lowly Geelong Falcons. Western had also lost in Round 12, but picked up wins in its previous four outings to contend for a top three spot.

Just as there was nothing to separate the sides’ win-loss records, they went into the first break level at 3.2 apiece. That was before the Dragons threatened to take hold, edging out to an eight-point lead at half time with help from the scoring end.

Speaking of taking hold, that was exactly what Western was able to do in a game-defining third quarter. Having managed eight total scoring shots for the entire first half, the Jets piled on the same number of goals within an electric 25-minute period, keeping Sandringham to just one in the process.

While the Dragons’ top-end talent help to enact a late surge from 34-points down at the final break, the damage was well and truly already done, seeing Western hold on to win by nine points on its home deck. The win saw the Jets leapfrog Sandringham on the ladder, but both sides were also jumped by Oakleigh, who also came into Round 13 with a 7-4 record.

The small and tall combination of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke produced an evenly-split 6.4 towards Western’s total, just over half of the winning score. They were two of three Jets to boot multiple goals, while Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of Dragons to manage two majors each.

Sandringham’s ball winners got to work despite the loss, as Ryan Byrnes led all comers with 28 disposals and a goal, while Maginness (24 disposals, one goal) and Butler (23 disposals) also impressed. Bailey Ryan was Western’s leading ball winner with 19 touches, followed by Honey on 18 and Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (16).

In an odd quirk, ex-Sandringham ruck Will Kennedy was named best afield for Western on the back of 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hitouts, and a goal. Bottom-agers from either side were also recognised, in the form of Western’s Cody Raak and Sandringham’s Lachlan Carrigan.

The Jets would go on to drop slightly to a seventh-place finish at 8-7, beating out Northern in an epic elimination final but going down to Gippsland in the semis. Sandringham remained consistent to finish fourth with nine wins and six losses, but fell short of its premiership dream in a preliminary final loss to Oakleigh.

Q&A: Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Sandringham Dragons’ Blake Howes at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The medium-forward prospect impressed during last year’s Under 16 National Championships, hitting the scoreboard as a hard-working, high-marking lead-up option in Vic Metro’s undefeated carnival winning side. Howes will be looking to crack into Sandringham’s Under 18 line-up this season, and is one of eight Dragons currently involved in the Victorian Academy hubs.

Read what the impressive bottom-ager had to say about his journey so far and the year ahead in our latest Q&A.




MA: Blake, how’s the day been so far?

BH: “Pretty good. We’re just doing the multiple different tests, I’ve enjoyed it with the boys. It’s been a good day so far.”


In terms of your footy you’re coming off a strong Under 16 campaign, how was the week up in Queensland for you?

“It was a good week up on the Gold Coast. We played at the GABBA and Southport – which was pissing down that day, terrible weather – but I really enjoyed the week, meeting new guys and different coaches. It was a really, really good experience, I loved it.”


Are you looking to crack into the Sandringham Under 18 side now?

“Yes, for sure. Hopefully I get a few games here and there but I’ve just got to continue to work hard, keep training well and hope to impress the coaches.”


What kind of role are you looking to lock down?

“Probably that half-forward (role) high up the ground. Just using my work-rate, getting up and down the ground.”


Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off along the way?

“No, just to keep playing consistent footy I suppose. Showing what I can do and helping the team out. Just to have fun as well, that’s the main thing.”

Classic Contests: Dragons blow Devils away on the road

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 12 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Sandringham Dragons and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock almost a year to late-2019, when the two sides met for the first time since Tasmania’s full-time induction into the competition.

2019 NAB League, Round 15
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park, Launceston

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.4 (28)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 6.8 | 11.10 | 13.15 (93)


Tasmania: O. Sanders, L. Gadomski, J. Chaplin, J. Callow.
A. Hanrahan 3, K. Yorke 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, J. Bowey, J. Bell, B. O’Leary, J. Mifsud, M. Bergman.


Tasmania: L. Viney, J. Callow, O. Davis, S. Collins, R. Mansell, M. McGuinness
A. Hanrahan, R. Bowman, J. Bell, R. Byrnes, D. Chirgwin, M. Bergman

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matt McGuinness
 Ryan Byrnes, Miles Bergman, Jack Bell

Not much more than pride was up for grabs as Sandringham travelled down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in Launceston, with the fate of the two sides all but already sealed. The Dragons were gunning for a top three spot to avoid Wildcard Round, while Tasmania was simply battling for position having fallen to 13th spot.

Neither side was in particularly outstanding form either, with Sandringham coming in having won in its previous outing against Dandenong, but the Dragons had lost three straight games before that and five of their last six overall to sit 8-5 in fourth. The Devils were 4-11 on the back of a five-game losing run, which would end up stretching to seven by season’s end.

Of significance were also the absentees for both teams, too, with Sandringham missing a raft of eventual draftees and combine invitees, including the likes of top 30 picks Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, and Josh Worrell. Mitch O’Neill was the biggest name missing for Tasmania, one of its two 2019 draftees, but the Devils maintained their four 2020 AFL Academy prospects in the side.

Keen to flex their superiority and gain some winning form on the eve of finals, the Dragons took control from the get-go with six scoring shots to one in the opening term helping them to a 15-point lead at the first break. They would extend it to 31 points by half time, again restricting Tasmania to just one major while piling on another three of their own.

Having got the jump, Sandringham well-and-truly put the result beyond doubt with a game-high five goals in the third term, and a couple more in the closing stanza for good measure as the Devils could only again manage a goal per the final two terms. The final margin sat at 65 points in favour of the travelling side, marking Sandringham’s third win by over 10 goals at that point in the season.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan had a day out, leading all comers for goals (three) and disposals (33), with St Kilda draftee Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal) another to find both the ball and the goals. Matt McGuinness was Tasmania’s leading ball winner with 26 touches, while of the other draftees afield, Miles Bergman booted 1.2 from his 19 disposals, and Jack Bell also booted a major in his forward/ruck duties.

Despite boasting one of the more stacked Under 18 squads of recent times, Sandringham fell short of the top three and its premiership dream as injuries and some bad luck took toll, finishing fourth at 9-6 and losing to eventual premier, Oakleigh in the preliminary finals. Tasmania would end up losing seven-straight games to finish the season at 4-11 in 14th, but gave Calder a scare in Wildcard Round as the Devils went down by a single goal.

Marquee Matchups: Jackson Cardillo vs. Archie Perkins

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Calder’s Jackson Cardillo and Sandringham’s Archie Perkins – ironically already played alongside one another at representative level in 2019, and are set to do so again this year as part of Vic Metro’s Under 18 side. But it is at NAB League level where we may see these two line up on opposing sides, with Cardillo already a mainstay in the Cannons’ side, while Perkins is again set to don the Dragon in between school football commitments with Brighton Grammar.

Both are tremendous athletes who ply their trade in a mix of midfield and forward time, able to use their explosiveness in different facets of the game to catch the eye. Having spent the majority of their time inside forward 50 throughout 2019, the two movers of virtually identical size will now look to develop in more prominent midfield roles across all levels. With that being the case, Cardillo and Perkins would well oppose each other at centre bounces during the NAB League, or join each other on the opposite side of the centre and half-forward lines during the national carnival.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.


Jackson Cardillo
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

DOB: July 3, 2002

Height: 185cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: March 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward



Cardillo – 66cm
– 70cm


Cardillo – 76cm/82cm
– 92cm/84cm

SPEED (20m)

Cardillo – 2.88 seconds
– 2.94 seconds


Cardillo – 8.15 seconds
– 8.24 seconds


Cardillo – 20.2
– 20.8

These are some of the more outstanding numbers from the Victorian preseason testing day, with both prospects so well matched across each area. Perkins clearly thrives in the jumps, producing massive efforts standing and off either side – something which also shines through on-field. Cardillo certainly does not lag in those areas, but his ground-level prowess is highlighted in very slightly quicker scores in the speed and agility tests. Perkins, a terrific mover across the ground and on the spread boasts a better endurance score, but that is not entirely reflective of Cardillo’s tireless work at the contest.


20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test




18 games
13.2 disposals
2.1 marks
3.8 tackles
2.6 clearances
2.6 inside 50s
0.6 goals (11)


6 games
14.2 disposals
4.2 marks
1.8 tackles
1.3 clearances
3.2 inside 50s
1.7 goals (10)

There is obviously a much smaller sample size to work with on Perkins’ size in terms of NAB League output, but the similarities between the pair are still evident in their 2019 numbers. Both players achieved similar disposal outputs, but it is Cardillo’s ground ball nous (3.8 tackles, 2.6 clearances) and Perkins’ aerial superiority (4.2 marks) which set them apart from one another.

The ability for Perkins to be a weapon going forward is also clear in his greater inside 50 (3.2) and goal (1.7) averages, with his impact hardly waning when used forward of the ball. On the other hand, Cardillo’s tackling pressure and hardness at the ball helps him thrive up forward, with his accumulative impact evident while running through midfield.

Overall, the pair returned very solid numbers as bottom-agers, particularly given they were both moved around the ground and had talented top-aged teammates to content with.



2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Dandenong

27 disposals
5 marks
9 tackles
8 clearances
3 inside 50s
1 goal


2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. Geelong

20 disposals (16 kicks)
5 marks
4 tackles
1 clearance
5 inside 50s
5 behinds

Cardillo’s season-high effort of 27 disposals stands well clear as his best game from a midfield standpoint, thriving on the inside and remaining relevant going both ways. It was the only game in which Cardillo managed to tick over 20 touches, on top of achieving a season-high in tackles with nine to prove his defensive worth. His ability to hunt the ball was also evident as he slammed forward eight clearances and three inside 50s, providing that all-important metres-gained element.

Speaking of, Perkins is one of the most damaging metres-gained midfielder/forwards in the entire 2020 draft crop, and proved as much in his 20-disposal performance against Geelong. Unlike in Cardillo’s best game, Perkins and his Dragons teammates went perilously close to losing in this encounter, scraping over the line by two points as the player in question booted five behinds. Had he been more accurate in the Ballarat conditions, Perkins’ game would have gone to another level given his outstanding marking efforts and penetration (16 kicks, five inside 50s) from half-forward.

Cardillo’s dual two-goal efforts could well have earned a shout here, but he only managed a combined 27 disposals in those outings, while his 19 disposals and one goal against Eastern in Round 17 made for another outstanding candidate. Perkins, too was well-versed against good opposition, booting three goals against premier, Oakleigh in Round 17, with his 16 disposals and two goals against the Sydney Swans Academy another performance near the mark.


2019 Under 17 Futures, Vic Metro vs. Queensland


18 disposals
1 mark
2 clearances
1 rebound 50
1 goal


21 disposals
2 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
5 inside 50s
1 rebound 50

As mentioned, Cardillo and Perkins are already familiar with each other, but as teammates rather than foes. The two ran out for the Vic Metro Under 17s in 2019, both returning decent numbers as part of the midfield-forward rotation. Perkins was arguably the better on the day, bossing the half-forward line early while later pumping the ball towards goal amid greater midfield time. Cardillo was utilised a touch more on the outside when running further afield, while also assuming his usual secondary role inside forward 50. With efforts around the 20-disposal mark, both players were among Metro’s most influential and versatile.



Explosive speed
Kick penetration
Stoppage presence


Vertical leap

There are a few slight differences in either player’s listed strengths, despite their very similar makeups. The distinction of Cardillo’s ‘explosive speed’ to Perkins’ ‘explosiveness’ is deliberate, intended to hint that the latter is a more powerful overall package, while the former thrives slightly more in the specific area of speed. Perkins’ other strengths – vertical leap and athleticism – add to that case, though Cardillo is certainly no slouch across the board either.

While Perkins is as damaging as they come with his combination of forward penetration from high up the ground and scoreboard impact, Cardillo provides meterage in his long kicks, mostly from stoppage situations as he bursts away with that five-step speed and delivers the ball forward. The added trait of stoppage presence attributed to Cardillo is largely credit to his two-way work rate, with his attitude towards ball winning matched by a strong tenacity for tackling.

Cardillo’s nod for versatility applies to both players, but may be slightly more applicable to Cardillo at the next level, with his ground-ball presence and tackling pressure incredibly transferable to medium-small forward roles. On the other hand, Perkins is more of a dynamic, aerial threat who can have a greater say around the ground, providing a target while creating forward movement from almost nothing.



Disposal consistency



Picking out improvements for players with high ceilings is usually a relatively simple task, with such players typically quite raw and mistake-prone. But both of these prospects are pretty well polished, with only a couple of areas left to sharpen and help them become better overall footballers. Cardillo’s disposal consistency is something that can be fine-tuned, with his penetration no issue, but shorter options on the move and under pressure sometimes overlooked or missed. Though Perkins is so well suited to the outside, the suggested upping of midfield time means he can increase his ball winning rate, while not losing any of that damage or scoreboard impact he is already known for.



Round 14 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks.

His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on.

Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and ability to break tackles.


2019 NAB League Round 17 vs. Oakleigh

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going.

Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals.

His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.


The thing which makes this matchup so intriguing is how closely the pair is matched across their physical attributes. A single centimetre separates them, and they are two of the most remarkable Under 18 prospects across the country in terms of athletic ability across each department. Explosive midfield types are always a joy to watch, with those bursts from congestion often the most replayed moments on highlight reels. Both players may well be capable of producing as much at the elite level, and have the added asset of being able to impact the game up forward. Perkins may feature slightly ahead on draft boards, but both players are sure to provide eye-catching moments once back on the park as two of Vic Metro’s most promising hopefuls.

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is Sandringham Dragons’ rebounding defender, Sarah Hartwig who is as good in the air as she is on the ground.

Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Height: 173cm
Position: Centre half-back / can play midfield or forward
Strengths: Intercept marking, footy IQ, spoiling, clean hands, one-on-ones, positioning

2020 NAB League stats: 3 games | 15.0 disposals | 4.3 marks | 3.0 tackles | 1.3 inside 50s | 2.6 rebounds

2019 NAB League stats: 9 games | 13.1 disposals | 2.8 marks | 4.1 tackles | 3.4 rebounds

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 2 games | 5.0 disposals | 1.5 marks | 1.0 tackles

For AFL Women’s clubs, finding a tall defender with clean hands and high footy IQ that can also play through the midfield and up forward is tough. But luckily for Victorian teams, there are two genuine quality taller defenders in Isabelle Pritchard and Sarah Hartwig both in their top-age years this year. In Hartwig’s case, she has spent more time up the ground in 2020, which is why when you look at her stats compared to last year, her disposals and marks are up, whilst her rebounds and tackles are down. She has gone out hunting the ball and provided much more of an offensive run out of defence.

In 2019, Hartwig played nine games in the NAB League Girls competition and was one of the premier rebounders. She reads the ball well in flight, but reacts quickly at ground level, which makes her all the more damaging even when you think she is out of the contest. She attacks the ball carrier just as hard as the ball itself, and will often be the one knowing when to drop back into the hole to take an intercept mark. She can just as easily come over as a third player in a marking contest too.

In 2020, we saw Hartwig’s game develop further – albeit in just the three games – where she was able to win the ball a bit more up the ground, but still have the impact on the contest. In one play against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in Round 1, Hartwig came off half-back and ran between a number of opposition players to pick the ball up one-take on the burst, then took the opposition on by sidestepping or fending them off, and kicked neatly inside 50. It is this dare that can separate her from her peers, because she backs herself to get the job done and make the right choice.

While she only got limited time in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, if it goes ahead this year expect her to have a much greater role. She has the versatility to play in multiple positions, but she just reads the ball so well off half-back and positions herself accordingly, it is where you expect to see her line-up. With the improvement already shown and the natural development over time, Hartwig has the potential to become a quality defender at the top level.

Q&A: Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Sandringham Dragons’ Campbell Chesser at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The Lavington junior hails from Murray’s region, but features among the Sandringham program given he has boarded at Melbourne Grammar since the start of Year 9. A very capable sprinter in the athletics realm, Chesser captured attention with his speed from half-back, the wing, and through midfield in last year’s Under 16 National Championships. Having earned All Australian honours there, he made his NAB League debut in Round 17 and played in the Dragons’ two finals appearances.



MA: Campbell, how’s the day been so far?

CC: “It’s been good, I’m down here testing with the (Murray) Bushrangers at the moment. But the event’s running pretty smoothly, we’re not waiting around for too long and the results have been pretty good so far.”


Which are some of the tests you feel you can thrive in, and ones you might be improving on?

“I think the agility, the one I just did is probably one that I’ve got to improve a little bit on. I think speed’s definitely a strength in my game so being able to exploit that – I tested pretty well in the 20m sprint which was good.”


You were able to showcase that speed last year for the Vic Country Under 16s, it must have been a great week up in Queensland?

“It was good, we started down in Geelong against Metro and fell short there. It was a good game, the boys competed really well. Then we went up to Queensland and it was a great carnival, a good week with the boys away. We didn’t get the result we wanted against WA but then finally got the win in the last game at the GABBA which was good.”


How has the transition from the Murray region, to boarding at school in Melbourne and coming into Sandringham been?

“I’m loving it. I moved down at the start of Year 9 and it’s been really good to find a balance for footy, or sport in general and studies as well. It’s been good, the culture down there is awesome in the APS system, I’m loving it.”


Who are some of the boys you’re looking forward to running out alongside across your multiple teams this year?

“I’ve got Sam Berry, who’s from Gippsland and also a boarder along with Chance Doultree and Harry Sullivan. There’s a few boys from the NAB League system who have come into the APS system so I’ll be playing alongside some good players and good mates, then competing against them also.”


Are you keen to lock down a certain role this year?

“I think it depends what team I’m in. For Sandy I’ll probably play across half-back a little bit this year and just try to improve that versatility as much as I can. For school footy hopefully I’ll go inside, play a little bit through the middle and hopefully get forward a little bit as well which would be good.”


Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off?

“Yes, hopefully I’ll play in the Australia (Under 17s) vs. New Zealand game coming up in April. Then the ultimate goal for this year is to probably put myself in the best position for the National Championships as a bottom-ager.

“Hopefully I can play in the Futures game at the end of the year too, so it’ll be a long year but I’m looking forward to it. Not too much pressure which is good, (I’ll) just enjoy the year really.”

Marquee Matchups: Jake Bowey vs. Errol Gulden

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The next pair under the microscope again comes from the small department, with crafty Sandringham wingman Jake Bowey matching up against the equally clever Sydney Swans Academy product, Errol Gulden. Both players measure up at under 175cm and thrive on the outside, but are more than capable of having a big say on the sway of games. They met during last year’s Under 17 All Stars Grand Final curtain raiser, and will likely directly oppose each other during this year’s Under 18 National Championships, should it go ahead. Both also featured for their respective state sides at Under 16 and 17 level as key players in either squad.

Bowey became a mainstay for Sandringham in the NAB League in 2019 despite the Dragons boasting a wealth of high-level top-agers, running out 16 times for an average of 15.8 disposals and 2.8 inside 50s. Gulden’s resume is also impressive to this point, having taken out the Under 16 Division 2 MVP award for NSW/ACT and setting the NAB League alight across just three games to average 27.3 disposals, eight inside 50s and over a goal per game. Gulden has already broken into the Under 18 Allies side, too playing all four games during last year’s carnival.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.


Jake Bowey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: September 12, 2002

Height: 174cm
Weight: 65kg

Position: Outside midfielder

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies

DOB: July 18, 2002

Height: 172cm
Weight: 68kg

Position: Outside midfielder/half-forward



Bowey – 66cm


Bowey – 71cm/88cm

SPEED (20m)

Bowey – 2.95 seconds


Bowey – 8.07 seconds


Bowey – 20.8

Note: Gulden did not participate in the scheduled NSW/ACT preseason testing day.

While we cannot compare the two in terms of their preseason testing results given the lack of data on Gulden’s end, we can quite clearly observe the incredible athletic ability of Bowey. The diminutive Sandringham product has all the traits that smalls require as a minimum at the next level, posting elite scores for speed and agility, while also adding the surprise element of his vertical leap.

Bowey has said himself that he is working on his repeat power running and overall endurance, but stacks up well in all departments against any Under 18 athlete. As far as the eye test goes for Gulden, he would run very close to the kind of scores Bowey produced for speed and agility, while his ability to constantly stay in the game is credit to his endurance. It will be interesting to see how the two compare come combine testing later in the year.


20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test




16 games
15.8 disposals
63.9% uncontested possessions
3.6 marks
3.1 tackles
1.7 clearances
2.8 inside 50s
0.9 rebound 50s
0.4 goals (6)


3 games
27.3 disposals
63.9% uncontested possessions
6.0 marks
2.0 tackles
2.0 clearances
8 inside 50s
2.6 rebound 50s
1.3 goals (4)

Obviously it is difficult to put the statistics of Bowey, who played 16 games in a squad with superior depth, next to Gulden’s three-game cameo, though the saving grace is that the data comes from the same competition. Gulden was exceptional across those three outings, but should one pick out Bowey’s best three games, the numbers gap tightens.

One thing that does match up, identically, is the pair’s uncontested possession rate. It only proves how much they rely on running the outside areas, with 63.9 per cent of their possessions coming outside of a contest. Gulden’s unbelievable disposal average, which includes a high of 33, outlines his superior tank and ability to accumulate in those areas, while Bowey tends to find more of his own ball and participate a touch less in possession chains.

Both players have shown a terrific tendency to penetrate both arcs too, particularly the forward 50, while hitting the scoreboard to good effect. Those added strings to their bows allow recruiters to see value in their versatility, given their size would often limit them to small forward or defender roles at the next level. But given the trail a player like Caleb Daniel has blazed, there is no reason why these two cannot follow a similar path.



2019 NAB League Rd 15 vs. Tasmania

22 disposals (16 kicks)
68% uncontested possessions
5 marks
3 tackles
4 clearances
5 inside 50s
4 rebound 50s
1 goal


2019 NAB League Rd 2 vs. Tasmania

33 disposals (24 kicks)
62.5% uncontested possessions
6 marks
3 tackles
2 clearances
8 inside 50s
4 rebound 50s
2 goals

There is no denying Gulden had an absolute blinder in our chosen game, and he has achieved similar feats all the way through his junior career. He is near-unstoppable at full flight and proved as much in his NAB League debut, racking up 33 touches and booting two goals as an absolute menace to the Devils’ defence. His six marks, numerous clearances, and breaches of either arc show the diversity of Gulden’s possessions and the utterly dominant hold he can have on games.

It seems the pair shared the similar trait of beating up on Tasmania in 2019, with one of Bowey’s standout performances also coming against the Devils. The Dragons won comfortably and had boasted a strong lineup, but Bowey managed to stamp his mark with a balanced game. His 22 disposals were one shy of his season-high effort of 23, and Bowey was remarkably consistent with his ball winning numbers. In this outing, Bowey tore up the outside while also pitching in at stoppages with his clean hands and burst away from congestion. A lone major was the cherry on top.



Vertical leap
Decision making
Execution at speed
Clean hands



Given the similarities in their stature and best traits, there is obviously going to be a crossover in the pair’s listed strengths. Most notably, they do things at speed; with Bowey’s disposal execution, clean hands, and agile moves through traffic his best features, while Gulden racks up the ball and can hit targets others would not even attempt to, credit to his vision and crafty skills.

Obviously the testing justifies Bowey’s listings of speed, agility, and vertical leap, but Gulden’s agility and endurance are also up there with the best. Bowey’s decision making at full pace makes him a standout, while Gulden’s high footy IQ allows him to pull off the improbable and break the game open in a different way to your typically quick small.

It has already been noted that both players also work best on the outside, with Bowey owning the wings and able to hit targets off the flanks, while Gulden has a greater accumulative quality and work rate up the field to go with shrewd choices around goal. That ability to rack up big numbers is what sets Gulden apart, though Bowey’s bursting speed is also a highly desirable trait.



Inside game/size


Inside game
Decision making consistency

One of Bowey’s improvements comes straight from the man himself, telling Draft Central during preseason that he has been working on his finishing and goalkicking. That aside, working on his inside game would make him a more complete player, and he could well attend the centre bounces at Under 18 level with his ability to burst through congestion and break away from opponents in quick time. He is arguably more suited to transitioning to an inside role than Gulden, but lacks the size to do so at the next level even if he is also improving his repeat running ability.

Gulden faces the similar query of size at well under 180cm, though he obviously plays to his strengths and truly suits the role of a small. His inside game and contested work are areas which can grow, with much of Gulden’s game based around accumulating on the outside via handball receives, or finding space with his work rate. While Gulden can often pull off some remarkable plays, he sometimes bites off more than he can chew and would be better served playing the percentages. Though, you would not want to totally thwart his creative natural instincts.



Under 17 Futures All Stars
By: Peter Williams

One of Team Brown’s best players on the day with his run and neat kicking skills throughout. His day started with some great running power and vision to get the ball into the hands of Eddie Ford for an early goal, and then produced a lovely kick at full speed through the middle to Blake Coleman.

He used the ball well time and time again, winning a fair bit of it on the wing and half-back, but also setting up plays going forward, including a late game interception at half-forward and tight kick into Ford in the pocket. His hands in close and ability to find space, as well as his footy IQ is great. Even took a very nice high mark early in the fourth term and played on straight away to keep the ball moving.


Under 17 Futures All Stars
By: Peter Williams

His side’s best despite the loss, and the Sydney Swans fans would be pumped to see both him and Campbell playing well on the MCG. After a quieter first term by his standards often opposed to Ford at stoppages, he really got going and was crucial in getting his side back into the contest in the second term.

Kicked the easiest of goals over the back in the second term running into the square with space behind him, and looked composed in his movements in close. He sidesteps opponents with ease and gets his hands free time and time again, showing good core strength to stand up in tackles. Just a really clean player who when he gets going adds that touch of class to any side and is hard to stop.


This pair makes up two of a decent batch of sub-180cm prospects for the 2020 AFL draft who possess the skills and traits to break the barriers often put up by their size. Bowey’s athleticism, and speed in particular sets him apart from Gulden, though the Swans Academy member is more equipped in racking up high disposal counts on the back of his tank.

Bowey seems a more viable inside option given his athletic traits, though his value on the outside is high with that mix of speed and efficiency making him a damaging player going forward. His traits are easily transferrable to an attacking half-back flank, or crafty small forward role. Gulden looks so lively as a high half-forward due to his creativity, though you would not want to take the accumulation aspect out of his game. As a highly-touted junior, he will cost the Swans some decent value come draft time and he has already shown his aptitude at senior level with NEAFL experience under his belt.

AFL Draft Watch: Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft Watch is Sandringham Dragons’ Archie Perkins, a powerful midfielder/forward who is one of his regions’ leading top-age prospects. The Brighton Grammar student featured six times in the NAB League last year between school football commitments, while also running out for Vic Metro’s Under 17s side, and in the Under-17 All-Star showcase game.

Perkins’ athletic profile is as good as anyone to have come through the elite talent pathways, boasting high-level scores across the jumps, speed, and agility tests. Having found a groove up forward in 2019, Perkins will be using those explosive traits through the engine room this year as he pushes to become one of Vic Metro’s prime movers. Of course, that is if competition resumes.


Archie Perkins

Height: 186.3cm
Weight: 77.2kg
Position: Midfielder/forward

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 6 games | 14.2 disposals | 4.2 marks | 1.8 tackles | 1.3 clearances | 3.2 inside 50s | 1.7 goals (10)

Strengths: Explosiveness, vertical leap, athleticism, impact/damage
Improvements: Accumulation



Vertical Jump: 70cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 92cm/84cm
Speed (20m): 2.94 seconds
Agility: 8.24 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.8


2019 Under 17 Futures All Star Game

By: Ed Pascoe

The talented Sandringham Dragons prospect had a quiet game but still showed some of his skill with a nice baulk deep in defence showing good composure in the first quarter when Team Brown was making a charge. Perkins has plenty of talent is a player to watch next year especially in the forward half.

2019 NAB League Round 17 vs. Oakleigh

By: Michael Alvaro

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

2019 Under 17 Futures vs. Queensland

By: Michael Alvaro

Perkins was another to move through the midfield-forward rotation, catching the eye with some strong and agile bursts through traffic which he finished with smart kicks inside 50. The powerful Sandringham product went on to have an impact around the ball with more midfield time after the main break, slamming forward five clearances and standing up in tackles to dish the ball out from congestion. Sprayed a tough chance on goal on the move, with that area of his game one to work on as he gets in dangerous positions.

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. Geelong

By: Michael Alvaro

The 23rd man was one of the most influential players, making a menace of himself in the forward half. While he arguably looked the Dragons’ most likely, inaccuracy in front of goal (0.5) told the story of his day, and he could have even had six or seven goals with better conversion. Still, Perkins had some great moments throughout – getting busy around the forward stoppages and finding space to wheel around and deliver inside 50. His willingness to take the game and opponents on proved a game-winner, with one of his five behinds putting the Dragons in front in the final minute of the game as he broke away from three opponents on the arc and let fly. Showed he is good in the air and in one-on-one duels too, with plenty to like about his game overall. As a bottom-ager, can sharpen up his kicking at times and go to ground less as he builds his frame.


Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie

Vic Country:
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll

Q&A: Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Sandringham Dragons’ Darby Hipwell at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The 181cm inside midfielder was one of the surprise omissions from this year’s Vic Metro Academy Hub, especially given he had already donned the Big V at both Under 16 and Under 17 level. But unlike others, Hipwell has been able to draw from the similar experiences of some of his former teammates, of whom have now ventured on to the elite level.

Currently a student at Brighton Grammar, Hipwell is set to mix his time between the NAB League and APS competitions should athletes be allowed to recommence their season. Having returned a solid result in the preseason yo-yo test (21.1) despite a humble assessment of his athletic base, Hipwell looks primed for a big top-age year with a point to prove.

MA: Darby, how’s the day been for you?

DH: “It’s been good. It’s good to test, it’s always a pretty nerve-wracking day to see how you go. But overall, it’s good to see all your teammates perform well.”

Do you feel like you’re performing well yourself, a few personal bests?

“Not quite, I’m not the best of athletes. But I just give it my best shot.”

More of a natural footballer then, are you looking forward to showcasing that once you get back on the park?

“I’d like to think so, I’m more of a traditional footballer I guess. I don’t really thrive on the combine testing days.”

Coming off a decent bottom-age year, what are the things you’re looking to develop?

“Just that inside midfield role, I just really want to cement my spot in the team this year. Hopefully I’ll play the first few rounds and just develop my disposal efficiency, my outside run and my kicking. They’re the main things.”

Will you be mixing your time between school football and NAB League as well?

“Yeah, I’m at Brighton Grammar in the APS. So I won’t play the whole season at Dragons, only a few games. But it’s really important to balance those two teams.”

Just missing out on the Metro Academy Hub, how have you dealt with that kind of setback?

“Obviously when the squad came out I was pretty disappointed but as soon as I saw it, I’ve just used it as motivation since. I’ve really tried to have a strong preseason, trained really hard and just used that setback as something that can hopefully push me forward.”

It would have been great last year having a bunch of mentors to feed off at the Dragons?

“Definitely. Last year I got to train in the midfield group with all of those boys – Finn Maginness, Ryan Byrnes, Jack Mahony. I just learned so much off them, watched all their little tricks and how they go about it. I think that’s really put me in good stead for the season coming up.”

Has that experience helped you set your own goals now, knowing the benchmark?

“Definitely. I’ve looked at their seasons and someone like Finn Maginness who missed out on the Metro (squad) at the first selection, I’ve really tried to model my game off him and the way he went about the first few rounds, and how he went through the preseason with his head up, training strong.”

What are some of those goals now that you’re looking to tick off?

“Just to have a good start to the season and a consistent season. I don’t really want to put too many benchmarks on what I want to make and what I don’t want to make. I just want to be satisfied with how I go and try and get the best out of myself. Train hard, and the rest will take care of itself if I’m playing good footy.”

Q&A: Lachlan Brooks (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Sandringham Dragons’ Lachlan Brooks at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

A hard-at-it small midfielder who can also ply his trade up either end, Brooks comes into his bottom-aged year having earned All Australian honours at the 2019 Under 16 National Championships, representing Vic Metro. He averaged 19.7 disposals, 4.3 clearances, and 6.3 inside 50s across the carnival, with his best game a 23-disposal and two-goal effort against South Australia.

While he was not particularly keen on much of the fitness testing during pre-season, Brooks performed well in the areas where he could showcase his explosive power; clocking in at just over three second in the 20m sprint, 8.2 seconds in the agility test, and over 70cm in the running vertical leaps.

Should the class of 2020 return to action on-field, the Brighton Grammar student has set his sights on winning the APS premiership with his schoolmates, while also cracking into the Sandringham Dragons and Vic Metro Under 18 sides. His most likely position is across half-back at this point in time, though Brooks’ clean hands and hard edge are transferable to his home in midfield or up forward.


MA: Lachlan, how’s the day been so far?

LB: “Pretty intense. A lot’s been going on, I’ve done a few of these but it’s always hard. It’s been good though.”

It doesn’t get any easier does it?

“Yeah, it doesn’t get easier. The 20m sprint is always my weakest but no, it’s all been pretty good.”

If it’s not the 20m sprint, which of the tests do you think you can shine in across the day?

“The vertical jump is probably my favourite, the yo-yo is never my favourite. But apart from that, it’s alright.”

You’re coming off a pretty successful Under 16 campaign with Vic Metro, how was the week up in Queensland for you?

“It was pretty good. Obviously we were pretty successful up there, it was a great team to be in. It was a good week up there and we were lucky enough to win it. Good campaign, good coaches.”

Coming into your bottom-age year with the Dragons, what kind of role are you looking to nail down early on?

“My coaches alluded that I’ll play prominently back, (as) a small back. But there’s no guarantee, I might not even get a game but we’ll see how it goes.”

Will you be mostly with the Dragons throughout the year or juggle your time with school football as well?

“Yeah I’ve got school (football), I’m at a private school so that cuts a bit of the Dragons season out. I’ll maybe play midfield there, but apart from that it’s just Dragons.”

Who are some of the boys you’re looking forward to playing alongside across those teams?

Archie Perkins, who’s at my school and at Dragons. I played with him last year at school and he was good to play with. Caleb Lewis, who just came to Brighton Grammar and is in the 17s program. I’m just looking forward to school a lot because it’s a good team, and a good comp so we’ll see how it goes.”

Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off?

“I’ll try and win the APS premiership. It probably won’t happen, but I’ll try and get a game with Metro (Under 18s). It’s pretty hard, but hopefully (I can).”