Tag: saxon crozier

Value picks: This year’s potential AFL Draft sliders

YESTERDAY, we took a look at this year’s bolters – the players who have come from seemingly nowhere to put their names in lights as genuine draft chances. Now, we turn our attention to the potential sliders – those who have long been highly touted but for one reason or another, might find themselves sliding down draft boards. It is not necessarily a negative, with sliders like James Worpel, Jack Graham, Curtis Taylor, and Trent Rivers all making good impressions early in their AFL careers. Among one of the most even drafts in recent memory, there are bound to be a bunch of prospects who end up providing great value despite falling down the order, proving many a doubter wrong.

You can find full draft profiles for all the players mentioned in our 2020 AFL Draft Guide.

ALLIES:

The Allied states and territories (Northern Territory, NSW/ACT, Queensland, Tasmania) are difficult to pin down for sliders, given the Northern Academies remove a bunch of prospects from the open draft. Nonetheless, there are some well known Tasmanian talents who could turn out to be handy late pick ups, among others.

Oliver Davis and Sam Collins were both named in the 2018 Under 16 All Australian side and had been pegged as ones to watch from an early age. They have since gone on to play regular NAB League football for Tasmania and proved key figures in their respective senior TSL sides this year. Davis is a reliable inside midfielder who has no trouble finding the ball, which helped him take out the 2020 TSL Rising Star award. Collins is a medium defender who can play above his size, soaring well to intercept while also providing good value on the rebound with his damaging left boot.

Fellow Tasmanian Jackson Callow could also be considered in this category as he has blazed a similar trail, but he is equally as likely to attract interest in the second round for any clubs keen on a readymade key position talent. One academy talent who has long been billed as one of his state’s brightest is Saxon Crozier, who is tied to the Brisbane Lions. He is a tall outside midfielder with good potential and a raking kick, but Brisbane have a bunch of academy products to keep tabs on. Thus, another club could snap him, Carter Michael, or a number of other aligned players up. That includes Brodie Lake, who Gold Coast lays claim to. The Suns have not yet committed to the Northern Territory native, but his versatility and athleticism point towards great upside at a gettable late range.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

Having been able to put together a near-full season of football, South Australia boasts arguably the deepest talent pool outside of Victoria, which typically provides over 50 per cent of drafted players. This batch of Croweaters also took out the Under 16 National Championships back in 2018, which marked a sign of just how good the upcoming talent would be. MVP of that carnival was Corey Durdin, a tenacious ground level player who racked up plenty of ball and impressed with his turn of speed. Having reached such lofty heights, Durdin was very quickly given opportunities at SANFL League level and has adjusted his game to transition from midfield work to becoming a small forward. That role is said to suit his 173cm frame better, but he still holds great value and senior experience as a potential late pick.

Among the decent list of early standouts also lies Zac Dumesny and Luke Edwards. While neither are particularly athletic types, they are both natural footballers who managed to crack the senior grade in 2020. Dumesny is a medium utility with quick and clean skills who is often utilised on a wing or half-back flank. Edwards is more of an inside type who rotates either forward or back into defence from midfield, and much has been talked about the Glenelg product given Adelaide refrained from committing to him as a father-son nominee in the National Draft. Opportunities may still present for the pair though, who were recognised as top talents early in their junior careers.

Others in a similar boat include Taj Schofield and Kaine Baldwin. Like Edwards, Schofield is father-son eligible and has garnered attention for much of his journey throughout the state pathways. He was poised to prove his top 30 potential in a more inside-leaning role this year, but remains arguably more comfortable on a wing or at half-forward with his silky skills and agility. Port Adelaide will hope the Woodville-West Torrens product slips through to the Rookie Draft. Baldwin looms as one of the hard luck stories of the draft given the early potential he showed, but was subsequently hampered by consecutive ACL tears. Despite not playing any competitive football for two seasons, he could be one to repay a club’s faith ten-fold if he can get on the park, with contested marking a truly dominant part of his game.

VICTORIA:

It is difficult to put a finger on just which Victorian prospects might slide, purely because none of them were able to add to their resumes as top-agers. Still, there are some who perhaps do not get the amount of plaudits they deserve – starting with Gippsland’s Sam Berry. The hard-working midfield bull addressed the stigma, in his own words, that he is slow at this week’s Victorian training session, but is rated by some clubs as a top 25 talent. His performances as a bottom-ager and high-level endurance will appeal to those clubs, who may either pounce early or trust that they can get him with a slightly later pick.

Clayton Gay was identified early as a prospect with good natural abilities, but was looking to iron out his consistency in 2020 as a key member of Dandenong’s side. His clean hands versatility to play up either end bode well for steep future development. Calder’s Jackson Cardillo is one who was recognised with selection in Vic Metro’s Under 17 side and the 2020 state academy hub intake, but did not earn a combine invite. He is a lively midfielder/forward with terrific, explosive athletic traits and plenty of room to grow.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

While Western Australia is another state to have put together a state league season, there are slightly less prospects in the slider category given how many of their highly rated talents have gone on to meet expectations. That is not to say the players mentioned here have not done so, but they could perhaps slide under the radar. Zane Trew seems to be the one most suited to this listing, a player who was well poised to push for top 25 status at the start of the year, but suffered injury setbacks and could not quite find the consistency required. He is a ball winning inside midfielder who uses the ball effortlessly by hand. Nathan O’Driscoll is rated as a top 10 talent by some clubs, but may instead find a home late in the first round or among round two. His upside includes a phenomenal work-rate and the balance to play both inside and out of midfield.

Featured Image: South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny is a potential draft slider | Credit: Nick Hook/SANFL

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Brisbane Lions

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Brisbane is the next side under the microscope, fresh off a season good enough for fourth spot in the final standings. As a team looking to truly contend for the premiership over the coming years, the Lions have traded down the order a touch and focused on securing mature talent from other clubs to further aid their push. A strong academy cohort has also seen them bolster their late hand, with five of the Lions’ current seven picks sitting in the third and fourth rounds. There also lies an opportunity to bring in a second round talent, though the Lions are said to only be looking to use two to three picks overall.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 25, 53, 58, 63, 68, 69, 94
* – denotes as of November 20

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Blake Coleman (Academy), Saxon Crozier (Academy), Carter Michael (Academy)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Best available

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 25)

As it stands, Brisbane’s first selection will be made in the 20s for the third year running, signalling the Lions’ steep rise and clear intentions. While it is subject to trade offers, Brisbane could get some good value from the pick despite not having any glaring list needs. Perhaps a running half-back would provide long-term cover for the ageing Daniel Rich and Grant Birchall with Alex Witherden out the door, or a point of difference through midfield could be the way to go.

Zavier Maher is a player who has been linked with top 25 honours of late and may come into contention. Brisbane has been known for selecting Vic Country players over the years and the Murray Bushrangers product has all the speed, grunt and competitiveness Brisbane would love. Although, the Lions have stocked up on inside midfielders with their first picks in 2018 and 2019, obtaining Ely Smith and Deven Robertson.

Should they look elsewhere because of that factor, a bid for Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie may be in the offing. Given the pick will be pushed back slightly, it will fall right into the Eastern Ranges captain’s range, and he could be the attacking half-back Brisbane is after. Jack Carroll has his first round suitors but is a classy half-back/midfielder who may fit the bill if available, while Nathan O’Driscoll could be the one and join former Perth teammate, Robertson at the elite level.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

An early bid for one of Brisbane’s academy prospects may send its list management team into a scramble trying to scrounge the points to match, though the Lions’ cover in that department looks quite sound after a raft of pick swaps during trade period. Given they have traded out of the first round this year and into that of 2021, the Lions may one of the quieter clubs at this year’s draft and obtain a rather straightforward hand. Pick 25 may be of interest to other clubs wanting to move up the order, with picks from the late-second round onwards arguably more relevant to Brisbane, unless it is keen on a particular player. With no glaring list needs, there is a good sense of freedom in what the Queensland-based club can do.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Brisbane match bids inside the top 30 for their academy players?

Which academy players will Brisbane end up with?

Will other clubs move in for Brisbane’s overlooked academy players?

Will Brisbane hold on to pick 25?

Will Brisbane look to further bolster its 2021 draft hand?

Featured Image: RF Photography

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best midfielders over 190cm

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare and contrast the best midfielders over 190cm available in this year’s AFL Draft pool. It is a prototype which is in vogue at the moment among AFL circles, with clubs keen to uncover the next Nat Fyfe, Patrick Cripps, or Marcus Bontempelli with tall midfielders who are contested beasts and can take ahold of games.

For the most part, the discussion centred around three key draft talents in said category; Alex Davies, Reef McInnes, and Caleb Poulter. Each of them are regarded as top 25 talents in this year’s crop and shape as the three best 190cm-plus midfielders. Unfortunately for the sake of most fans, both Davies (Gold Coast) and McInnes (Collingwood) are already tied to AFL clubs through their respective academy systems. Davies is set to be pre-listed by the Suns, while Oakleigh’s McInnes could attract a bid between picks 15 and 25. That leaves Poulter, a South Australian bolter of sorts who is the ideal hybrid type and may have clubs fighting over his services in the late-first to early-second round.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

PLAYER PROFILES

(click on their names highlighted in red for full draft profiles)

Alex Davies
Gold Coast Academy/Allies

Height: 192cm
Weight: 85kg
DOB: March 18, 2002

Plays… almost exclusively on the inside as a primary ball winner.

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

Height: 193cm
Weight: 86kg
DOB: December 12, 2002

Plays… at both ends when required, but thrives on the inside with his size and athleticism.

Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia

Height: 192cm
Weight: 79kg
DOB: October 12, 2002

Plays… inside, outside, and up forward with great presence and class.

Other players who entered the discussion include:

Josh Green – brother of Tom who is also tied to the GWS Academy, can play key position or inside midfield.
Lachlan Carrigan – Sandringham wingman who is developing quickly, runs well and has a damaging kick.
Saxon Crozier – Brisbane Academy product who is versatile but outside leaning, and boasts a thumping boot.
Aiden Fyfe – Gold Coast Academy wingman/half-back who is highly athletic and may attract interest from other clubs.

The likes of Elijah Hollands (189cm), Archie Perkins (188cm), Jack Carroll (187cm), and Nathan O’Driscoll (187cm) were among the first round candidates to narrowly miss the 190cm cut, but are similarly tall midfielders who could provide the same kind of value as those listed above.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Best academy and father-son hauls
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best academy & father-son hauls

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to discuss which AFL club shapes as boasting the strongest combined academy and father-son hauls.

The Next Generation Academy (NGA) and Northern Academy programs have garnered plenty of attention as we prepare for what will arguably be the most compromised AFL Draft in history. Adding fuel to the fire, consensus number one prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is a Western Bulldogs NGA product, while fellow potential top 10 picks Braeden Campbell (Sydney) and Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide) are also already aligned to clubs. Add to that Gold Coast’s pre-listing rights and access to the Darwin zone, as well as some handy father-son prospects overall, and around a quarter of the likely draft pool will include club-aligned juniors.

It got our editors thinking, ‘which club lays claim to the strongest academy and father-son pool?’. We outline the strongest eight hauls, and touch on a few others to look out for in the latest pocket podcast.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Here are some of the strongest likely academy and father-son hauls:

Sydney:
Braeden Campbell (Academy) | 181cm/75kg | Midfielder/Forward | Range: 8-15
Errol Gulden (Academy) | 175cm/75kg | Outside Midfielder/Small Utility | Range: 15-30

Gold Coast:
Alex Davies (Academy) | 192cm/85kg | Inside Midfielder | Range: 10-15
Joel Jeffrey (Darwin Zone) | 192cm/80kg | Tall Utility | Range: 20-30

Fremantle:
Joel Western (NGA) | 172cm/68kg | Midfielder/Small Forward | Range: 25-40
Brandon Walker (NGA) | 184cm/75kg | Medium Defender | Range: 25-40

Port Adelaide:
Lachlan Jones (NGA) | 186cm/89kg | General Defender | Range: 7-12
Taj Schofield (F/S) | 178cm/72kg | Outside Midfielder/Forward | Range: 35+

Western Bulldogs:
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA) | 195cm/90kg | Key Forward | Range: 1-5
Ewan Macpherson (F/S) | 181cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder | Range: Late/Rookie
Cody Raak (NGA) | 190cm/78kg | Defender | Range: Rookie

Adelaide:
Luke Edwards (F/S) | 188cm/83kg | Inside Midfielder/Utility | Range: 30-45
Tariek Newchurch (NGA) | Small Forward/Midfielder | Range: 30-45
James Borlase (NGA) | 192cm/93kg | Tall Utility | Range: 40+

Brisbane:
Blake Coleman (Academy) | 181cm/79kg | Small Forward | Range: 30-45
Carter Michael (Academy) | 188cm/74kg | Balanced Midfielder | Range: 40+
Saxon Crozier (Academy) | 190cm/80kg | Outside Midfielder | Range: Late-Rookie

Essendon:
Cody Brand (NGA) | 196cm/87kg | Key Defender | Range: 30-50
Joshua Eyre (NGA) | 198cm/85kg | Tall Utility | Range: Late/Rookie

There are plenty of others who loom as solid options not only aligned to the clubs listed here, but also to others around the league. Additionally, the selections above are not indicative of those clubs’ entire available pools, but rather the top prospects who have garnered the most attention.

Elsewhere, Reef McInnes is arguably a first round talent who may slide to the 20-30 range for Collingwood, another from their NGA program. Connor Downie is a proven quantity out of the Eastern Ranges, a line-breaking outside mover who boasts a penetrating left boot and is tied to Hawthorn through its NGA. Of course, another prospect who has already garnered plenty of attention is Maurice Rioli Jnr, the son of late Richmond and South Fremantle great, Maurice Rioli. He is a hard-tackling small forward with terrific goal sense and will most likely be picked up as a Richmond father-son, despite also qualifying for Fremantle under the same rule, and Essendon via the NGA.

Expect to see most of the above names find homes at AFL level in 2020, and for the inevitable top five bid on Ugle-Hagan to shape the pointy end of the draft. About a third of the top 30 names could well come from academies, bringing out plenty of baulking and bluffing in the bidding process. As we have seen in previous drafts, being aligned to a club does not always mean you will end up there, so those with big hauls will undoubtedly be made to pay a pretty price for their products.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2020

COMBINES, All-Star showcases, and state league finals have brought new life to the 2020 AFL Draft scene, as budding prospects around the nation look to prove their worth ahead of that one day in (likely) early-December. Victorian talents remain in the unknown, but feature aplenty in our list which has undergone a series of minor shuffles. In Draft Central’s latest Power Rankings, the form guide has shot out to 30 names; compared to 25 in our September analysis, and 20 in both August and July.

Among the fresh faces, a South Australian bolter enters the top 25, while two Fremantle Next-Generation Academy (NGA) prospects make their way onto the board alongside a highly-touted Sydney Swans Academy gun. All that, and more in our October Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

September Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

September Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, McDonald has showcased his game-winning ability from forward of centre in 2020 – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

September Ranking: #3

Last Month: McDonald showed off his endurance at last week’s West Australian combine, scoring third in the 2km time trial. On-field, the key forward capped off his season by helping Perth qualify for the WAFL League finals for the first time in over 20 years, but was kept goalless in the Demons’ week one loss. He booted one major the week before, and managed three against Swan Districts before Denver Grainger-Barras was switched onto him.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

September Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to showcase his high-level athleticism at the West Australian combine; scoring third in the running vertical jump (left), fifth in the 20-metre sprint, and second in the agility test. After a terrific outing against Logan McDonald’s Perth, the prolific defender rounded out his season with just six disposals and two marks as Swan Districts failed to make finals.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

September Ranking: #5

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 201cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they have most been looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

September Ranking: #6

Last Month: The West Adelaide bigman has battled through injury trouble over the last month, unable to get back on the park at SANFL League level despite being named. A niggling groin injury also kept him from testing at the South Australian combine.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

September Ranking: #7

Last Month: The exciting Swans Academy prospect booted a goal in each of his three AFL Sydney Premier Division outings for Pennant Hills in September. The Demons won two of those games, but lost most recently in their lone finals dig against St George. The NSW/ACT combine on October 25 will be Campbell’s next point of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

September Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in nearly all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

September Ranking: #10

Last Month: Jones is another to have missed some football over the past month, but thankfully not much. An ankle injury kept him from testing at the recent South Australian combine, and also saw him miss Round 14 in the SANFL. After some hit-and-miss form, the big-bodied defender returned in week one of the finals with 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s as his Eagles went down to North Adelaide.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture having already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

September Ranking: #11

Last Month: O’Driscoll finished off his top-age campaign as a regular fixture in Perth’s League midfield. While a disposal average of 11 over his last three games does not jump off the page, O’Driscoll looked composed on the ball and was able to impact defensively as well. He runs all day, and proved as much my finishing second in WA’s 2km time trial. He also came runner-up in the 20-metre sprint, while taking out the agility test. He boasts an impressive speed-endurance mix through midfield.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#11 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

September Ranking: #9

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 192cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 192cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and looked set to prove lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

September Ranking: #12

Last Month: Davies has been inactive due to an elbow injury sustained in August, missing out on Broadbeach’s run to the QAFL Seniors Grand Final.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

September Ranking: #13

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

September Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 90kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

September Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury. Earned a National Combine invite for September 30 but did not participate.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

September Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman earned a League call-up in Round 8, but saw his senior stint prove one-and-done after 11 disposals against Claremont. He made a terrific return to the Colts level with 24 disposals and eight marks against eventual premier Subiaco, before managing 16 disposals and six marks amid tough conditions as the Falcons went down to East Fremantle in a preliminary final. He was an impressive performer at the combine too, faring well in the 2km time trial.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

September Ranking: #17

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, local, and school football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

September Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#19 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 192cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australian colours last year.

September Ranking: #23

Last Month: Poulter’s stocks have risen not only on the back of a Reserves call-up and some solid form, but also due to his outstanding combine results. The tall midfielder came fourth in South Australia’s 20-metre sprint, second in the running vertical jump (right), and fifth in the 2km time trial. On-field, he managed four Reserves outings before returning to the Under 18s with a bang, booting two goals from 18 disposals. He also managed 20 touches in the Eagles’ finals win over South Adelaide, most recently. Poulter has spent a bit of time on a wing, and boasts great versatility in the sense that he can also roam forward or impact on the inside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#20 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

September Ranking: #19

Last Month: Despite Swan Districts’ inability to make finals, Trew finished his WAFL Colts campaign on a high. The inside midfielder was seemingly teased with a senior call-up, but instead racked up 22 and 32 disposals in his final two Colts appearances. He also laid a combined 19 tackles in those games, and took part in the West Australian draft combine. Trew achieved a much more consistent run this season, despite some slight injury troubles.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

September Ranking: #18

Last Month: Calf tightness restricted Powell in light of the recent South Australian combine, and he seemed to carry the same niggle into his latest game. The midfielder returned a rare performance of under 20 disposals in Sturt’s semi final loss to Norwood, but averaged 31.7 disposals and 8.3 clearances across his other three September appearances. It will take something big to keep him down for a second week, as he looks to help the Double Blues qualify for an Under 18s Grand Final.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

September Ranking: #21

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#23 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

A fresh face to last month’s expanded list, Carroll has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

September Ranking: #22

Last Month: Carroll’s season ended after he suffered a broken wrist in Round 8 of the WAFL Colts, having run out the game against Subiaco to collect 18 disposals. He still managed to test at the West Australian combine, achieving second place in the standing vertical jump, and fifth in the running jumps off either foot. He faces a race against time to play in the upcoming All-Star fixtures.

>> Draft Watch

#24 Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Search for the 2020 AFL Draft bolter, and Cook’s name is likely the one you’ll find top of any list. The South Adelaide prospects has come from the clouds to not only put himself within draft contention, but right up into top 25 calculations. Plying his trade either up on a wing or inside forward 50, Cook is a game-winner who is capable of kicking bags of goals and taking eye-catching marks. His size allows him to not just rely on his vertical leap, but also out-work his opponents one-on-one, with his terrific goal sense often helping finish the job. Having put his name on the map, the wingman/forward can now look forward to featuring among his state’s All-Star showcase.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Cook enhanced his draft stocks with some handy combine results; coming fifth in the 20-metre sprint, fourth in the standing vertical jump, and fifth again in the running vertical jump (right). Most recently, he was kept goalless as South Adelaide bowed out of the Under 18s finals race, though Cook has proven his worth with a bag of five goals this month, and two majors in every other effort.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

September Ranking: #25

Last Month: The NT native took part in the recent Queensland combine, while also starring in the NT All-Stars game with three goals. He was utilised as a lead-up forward in that outing, the position he is said to prefer, although he is arguably just as good as an interceptor down back.

>> Draft Watch

#26 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 183cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

September Ranking: #24

Last Month: A sore foot post WAFL Colts finals football kept Walker from performing at the WA combine, though he has shown some handy form on-field. The defender averaged 18 disposals over his last four games, and managed 15 in East Fremantle’s preliminary final loss to Subiaco. He has been named at centre half-back most weeks, but loves to break the lines and deliver forward. He’ll be a half-back at the next level.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 186cm | 80kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 186cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#29 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the bigtime, Gulden has long been a highly-touted prospect. The small utility broke through to claim the Division 2 MVP award at the 2018 Under 16 National Championships, racking up mountains of the ball and kicking bags of goals. Since, he has carried such form into his outings with the Swans Academy, while also playing senior footy in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, and representing the Allies Under 18s last year. The crafty mover is small, but holds his own and is as naturally talent a prospect as there is this year.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Gulden’s month began brightly with two goals, and second-best afield honours as his AFL Sydney Premier Division side beat the Inner West Magpies. He returned against the North Shore Bombers but was held goalless, with a Grand Final appearance against Sydney University and the NSW/ACT combine his next points of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#30 Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Fremantle’s NGA talent program has proven one of the more successful producers of AFL-level players since its inception, and Western is one of a few highly touted prospects set to take the next step in 2020. The Claremont captain took his side to a second consecutive WAFL Colts Grand Final after last year’s premiership triumph, overcoming some early injury concerns to run out an outstanding season. The small midfielder is all-class through the engine room, able to zip out of traffic and deliver the ball forward with freakish skill. As will be expected at the elite level, Western is also capable of playing up forward and even across half-back, making him a player with plenty of upside for Dockers fans to look forward to.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Claremont’s Colts Grand Final commitments saw Western become unavailable for the WA combine, though it mattered little given his on-field performance. Playing predominantly through midfield, Western raised his stocks with a consistent end to the year, averaging 23 disposals across his last three games. He stands up in big games and can find the goals, making for a couple more handy points of difference.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent combines and finals football has brought out the best in a lot of players, who may be flirting with top 30-40 contention. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase was recently best afield for Prince Alfred College in the SA All Schools Cup Grand Final, while Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield lit up the South Australian combine. Zac Dumesny made a solid return from injury in the SANFL Under 18s, as did Luke Edwards in the Reserves. The likes of Corey Durdin and Luke Pedlar remain sidelined, however.

Over in WA, Isiah Winder was another to test well in his state’s combine, while Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen and Claremont’s Jack Avery have shot into draft contention on the back of fantastic finals series. Vanirsen took out the Jack Clarke Medal and was also named best afield in the WAFL Colts Grand Final, which the Lions won.

Brodie Lake‘s impressive All-Stars outing and combine results will have Gold Coast fans smiling, as the NT native falls under their Darwin zoning. Brisbane Academy members Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier recently helped Morningside upset Broadbeach in the QAFL Seniors Grand Final, while Tasmanian Jackson Callow was in a rich vein of form before being injured.

Victorians Connor Downie, Jake Bowey, Max Heath, and Cody Brand are among those also around the mark.

QAFL wrap and scout notes: Morningside claim premiership glory over undefeated Broadbeach

Morningside has won their tenth club premiership with a thrilling nine-point victory over the previously undefeated Broadbeach. Aside from a 15-minute patch in the second quarter, the Panthers were the better side all day and are very deserving premiers. Superstar midfielder Matthew Payne backed up his third Grogan Medal win during the week by earning the Joe Grant Medal for best on ground in the Grand Final. At age 35, this is an incredible feat to go with another premiership medallion.

Fans piled into Yeronga for the clash and delivered an amazing atmosphere. Yeronga is a beautiful ground, but it is also much smaller than these two sides were used to. Broadbeach were the best side through the home and away season and were hungry for their first flag since 1996. Morningside had only lost one game for the season, which was to their Grand Final rivals by 50 points in Round 9. They clearly learnt a lot from that game, as they immediately got their matchups right and controlled the stoppages for the majority of the match.

It was a good old-fashioned arm wrestle early, as both sides had their opportunities but failed to capitalise. After some nice work from Saxon Crozier on the wing, former Brisbane Lions rookie Reuben William snapped the opening goal of the game at the ten-minute mark. Broadbeach immediately responded with a goal through Kai Sheers after he won a free kick for too high. There was plenty of heat in the contest early, including a brutal bump to the head of classy Morningside half-back William Pendlebury. Although the start was a bit scrappy, this was mainly due to the relentless pressure being applied by both sides. Morningside got another goal after a poor handball from Bailey Reeves went straight into the hands of young Panthers forward Nathan Colenso. The Panthers went into quarter time with a seven-point buffer that probably should have been more given the number of chances they had late in the quarter.

Morningside had a chance to snag one early in the second, but they kicked a behind. From that kick in, Connor Nutting started a great piece of transition play with a strong contested mark at half-back. Broadbeach went end-to-end and Ryan Gilmore kicked their second goal. Livewire forward Josh Gore followed this with a goal from a stoppage, then a bit of individual brilliance from Brandon Chadwick gave the Cats some breathing space. Morningside committed a shocking turnover coming out of defence just minutes later, and Blake Erickson capitalised with a goal from 50. This made it four unanswered goals for Broadbeach, and it looked like they were about to run away with the game in similar fashion to Round 9. However, Morningside responded this time. Blake Coleman put through an important goal after some great run and link-up down the outer wing, then key forward Matthew Hammelmann clunked a contested mark in the pocket and put through a clever snap to bring his side back within four points. Exciting Panthers duo Coleman and William took over from there, kicking back-to-back unbelievable soccer goals to give their side an eight-point lead at the half.

In the opening minute of the third, Gilmore got an unfortunate concussion when diving for a mark on the 50-metre arc and as a result did not take any further part in the game, but did earn a free kick for that contest. Former Gold Coast player Clay Cameron was able to take the shot, but his kick faded late with the breeze and hit the post. The Panthers went straight down the other end and Hammelmann booted through his second from a set shot outside 50. The game went back and forth in the third until Gore got loose in the goal square and kicked his second for the day. Morningside held a seven-point lead at the final change.

The Panthers absolutely suffocated Broadbeach for the first half of the final term, as the Cats could not get any quick forward movement going out of their defence. More individual brilliance from William on the goal line gave the Panthers a 13-point lead early in the term, then Payne almost kicked a goal straight from the centre clearance but just did not get enough purchase on the kick. Morningside had a couple more golden chances to put the game away, including a set shot to Coleman after he took an amazing hanger in the forward pocket. He missed the shot, then hit the post with a difficult snap from a stoppage just moments later. Broadbeach were very lucky to be within three goals at this stage, as the ball had barely exited their defensive half the whole quarter. Finally, the Cats got themselves a forward stoppage at the 19-minute mark and Cameron put through a clever snap on the left. This brought the margin back to ten points and Broadbeach had all the play for the next five minutes. Then, the unimaginable happened. The Cats earned a free kick in the goal square for a hold and would have kicked a certain goal. However, one of the Cats players elected to take the advantage, snapped at goal, and kicked a behind.

From there, Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds stood up with two clutch intercept marks. Although he missed his chance to become an unlikely goal scorer from a set shot, he did well to get the ball to the other end and take some time off the clock. The Cats went end-to-end from the kick in, but Panthers defender Bradley Dale ran back with the flight to take an outstanding mark five metres out from their defensive goal. The siren went just seconds later, and Morningside finished with an astonishing eight-point victory. It made for remarkable scenes at the ground as many players, coaches and fans ran onto the field to celebrate with the Morningside team. It has to be considered one of the great grand final victories in recent memory, and the jubilant post-match scenes were exactly what footy is all about.

While stars including Payne, Pendlebury and William will understandably get most of the attention, some young prospects also stood up under immense pressure.

Broadbeach 1.1 | 5.1 | 6.5 | 7.8 (50)
Morningside 2.2 | 6.3 | 7.6 | 8.11 (59)

GOALS:

Broadbeach: J. Gore 2, B. Erickson, R. Gilmore, K. Sheers, B. Chadwick, C. Cameron
Morningside: N/A at time of publishing

BROADBEACH:

#31 Aiden Fyfe

Fyfe was given third best by the Broadbeach staff on the day, and I would agree with this assessment. He played at half-back for most of the game, a role he has proven to play very well. Fyfe took a nice contested mark against Crozier in a one-on-one contest from a kick in early, then found his target in Chadwick down the wing with a beautifully weighted kick. He was great in one-on-ones all day, highlighted when he had another huge win in one of these situations at half-back in the last quarter. Fyfe out-bodied his opponent brilliantly in this contest, proving that he is much stronger than one would think.

Fyfe’s desperation in defence was noticeable all day, as he worked hard to track down loose balls and not allow opposition forwards any clean possessions. He was willing to push up to lock the ball in his side’s forward line, and he was good at getting onto his left and delivering some quick forward entries to the advantage of forwards.

Fyfe has strong hands under pressure, as shown when he took a nice contested mark at the 23-minute mark of the final term. He is also willing to fly as the third man up to help his teammates in defence, which was evident when he took an intercept mark in the opposition’s goal square during the third quarter. Fyfe also has a booming left-foot kick, works to get a lot of handball receives and has the composure to kick the ball short when necessary. Although he has a reliable short kick in defence, he did give one kick across goal in the third term a bit too much air and it was intercepted. Thankfully, the end result was only a stoppage. This was the only noticeable mistake Fyfe made through the entire match.

#35 Josh Gore

Gore, a lively small forward, was Broadbeach’s only multiple goal scorer on the day. He applied plenty of forward pressure early in the game, highlighted by a strong tackle on Pendlebury at a stoppage. His speed and intense pressure forced opponents to rush their kicks out of defence, and this led to multiple turnovers and repeat inside 50s for his side. In the second term, Gore got on the end of a chain of handballs from a forward 50 stoppage to kick a nice goal and give his side the lead. At the 16-minute mark of the third, he read the flight of the ball well to take a mark and kick his second from the goal square. He finished with 2.2, as twice in the game he misjudged the breeze and missed set shots that he should have nailed. Gore’s finish to the game was strong, as he was one of the few Cats players that moved the ball forward quickly at half-forward.

#56 Bailey Reeves

Reeves’ work rate was outstanding once again on Saturday, as he worked tirelessly from contest to contest to have an impact. The wingman provided a short lead-up target through the centre of the ground on numerous occasions, and he always held his marks. However, he often chose to kick long to a contest from wing and half-forward positions. Reeves’ main highlight of the day was a courageous intercept mark flying across the pack in the defensive 50 during the second term. His tackling was consistently strong and he never shied away from a contest. A lowlight was a poor forward handball in defence that handed Colenso a goal during the first term. If Reeves maintains his exceptional work ethic and continues to refine his skills, he should be a good player for a long time.

MORNINGSIDE:

#23 Blake Coleman

Coleman played deep in the forward 50 for the Panthers and was undoubtedly one of their best players. The Brisbane Lions Academy prospect started the match with a lead-up mark in the opening minute and a strong tackle on Kwaby Boakye. Coleman used his electric speed to find space from his opponent early and provide a great option for teammates moving the ball forward.

He took a nice mark back with the flight on the wing early in the second quarter, then delivered a short pass onto the chest of Colenso. Just 15 seconds later, he pushed forward to apply pressure and cause a turnover, which highlighted how hard Coleman was willing to work to get to contests during this game. He kicked his first goal for the day shortly after to shift the momentum back Morningside’s way after four unanswered goals by Broadbeach. Coleman started the play on the wing with a handball inside, then burst forward hard to get on the end of the link up play and kick a simple goal in the square. He kicked another goal in the same quarter with a soccer from the goal square to put his side back in front.

Coleman frequently used his elite leaping ability to fly for marks. Multiple defenders went with him when he jumped for marks because he is so dangerous in the air, and this created space for his teammates on the ground. At the start of third, he won an important one-on-one marking contest at half-forward then composed himself to find Hammelmann with a clever short pass inside 50.

At the start of the last quarter, Coleman was very lively once again. He repeatedly collected the ball cleanly off the ground and could not be tackled because of his impressive combination of strength, speed and agility. Coleman took an absolute screamer in the forward pocket at the 12-minute mark that will be on his highlight reel for the years to come. He missed the tricky set shot from the boundary, and just minutes later he hit the post with a difficult snap from a stoppage. Coleman played a major role in making Morningside’s win happen and Brisbane Lions fans should be ecstatic about what may potentially be coming their way next year. 

#27 Saxon Crozier

Crozier backed up his outstanding game last week with another strong performance in the Grand Final. He started the game on fire, positioning himself well defensively at stoppages and using brilliant hands and link up through the middle on numerous occasions. He showed composure in a contest at the seven-minute mark when others were panicking under pressure, and his handball inside set up the opening score of the game. Crozier followed this up with a clean collect off the ground while running down the wing, then composed himself to get an inside 50 to set up the opening goal of the game.

In the second term, he took too long to get rid of the ball a couple of times and got caught by tackles and smothers from the opposition. However, Crozier adjusted to Broadbeach’s increased intensity late in the term and went back to having his usual impact. He combined nicely with Toby Triffett by hand in traffic to get an inside 50, then laid an important tackle to win a holding the ball decision at half-forward.

Crozier produced a clever rove at a stoppage early in the third to move the ball forward. He always retains his width at stoppages, which gets him easy possessions while others get sucked into the contest. Crozier’s tackling intensity definitely lifted in the third term, highlighted when he laid a strong tackle on Gore in defensive 50. He was also composed in traffic, as shown when he spun around opponents and took tackles whilst giving handballs to create space for teammates.

In the last, a beautiful left-foot kick down the line to Liam Dwyer demonstrated how competent Crozier is on both sides of his body. He repeatedly took some sting out of the contest in this term by chipping the ball around with teammates to control possession. This has become a regular feature of Crozier’s game, as he runs hard in final quarters when his team is in front to get these possessions all over the ground. It gave his tired teammates some time to rest and successfully took time off the clock.

#32 Nathan Colenso

Colenso played his role as a lead-up forward very well on the big stage. He kicked an early goal with a left foot snap after intercepting an errant handball, and had a chance to kick a second later in the term. This came about because Colenso played in front while his defender lagged off him, so was able to take an uncontested diving mark from a quick kick inside 50. However, he missed the shot at goal. He took a couple of lead-up marks down the corridor in the second term, but he was not sighted too much otherwise. In the third, he laid a strong tackle at half-forward to earn holding the ball decision at the 21-minute mark. His tackling has been outstanding this year, as he always makes opponents pay when they try to take him on. Colenso laid another strong tackle at start of the last quarter to earn a free kick and kicked long to find Hammelmann at half-forward. His kicking is usually quite reliable, and this was no exception. 

#35 Toby Triffett

Triffett was made for a tough, congested, high-pressure final like this. He is a contested animal that attacks the ball with pace and loves to lay a strong tackle. Early in the game he played as a forward, where he crumbed contests with intensity and aimed to create chaos. In the second quarter, he laid a huge crunching tackle on the wing that left his opponent slow to get up. He also linked up well down the wings to help his teammates transition the ball. After Broadbeach hit the lead, Triffett ran from the forward 50 into centre square to win an important centre clearance for his side. He was moved into the middle shortly after, which showed how much the coaches trust him because this was when Broadbeach were getting on top. Triffett won many contested possessions in there and aggressively sought to find his own footy. With some clean quick hands in tight on the wing, Triffett released a teammate and helped set up an important goal to Coleman. He continued his contested ways in the second half with some more strong tackles, and he also took a couple of important marks at half-forward.

 

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Out to impress: QAFL Seniors Grand Final preview – Broadbeach vs. Morningside

AFTER nine regular season rounds and two enthralling weeks of finals, it all comes down to this. Undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach meets Morningside (2nd, 7-1) in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Grand Final on Saturday afternoon, and there is plenty of young talent primed to impact on the big stage.

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns in action across the two best sides in the competition, including a bunch of Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy products. We take a look at who shone when the sides previously met in 2020, while also touching on the strengths of some budding AFL Draft prospects in action.

2020 QAFL Grand Final

Broadbeach vs. Morningside
Saturday, September 26 | 2:30pm
Leyshon Park, Yeronga

Previous meeting…

Round 9 – Broadbeach 13.16 (94) def. Morningside 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Broadbeach: C. Nutting 3, C. Cameron 3, J. Moncrieff 2, J. Fisher 2, R. Gilmore, B. Chadwick, B. Reeves
Morningside: L. Edwards 2, M. Hammelmann, S. Crozier, E. Mallan, B. Coleman

BEST:

Broadbeach: K. Boakye, E. Reeves, M. Lower, C. Cameron, B. Lowe, S. Mills
Morningside: W. Pendlebury, E. Mallan, L. Russ, R. William, B. Kethro, H. Joyce

It took until the final home-and-away round for the season’s two undefeated outfits to meet, with Broadbeach the side which would stand clear after a statement-making 50-point victory. The Cats’ range of scoring options ensure they pulled away strongly in the second half, overcoming some early woes in front of goal to put Morningside to the sword. Usual suspect and former Gold Coast forward Connor Nutting booted three goals in the winning effort, with fellow SUNS Academy graduate Ryan Gilmore and Bailey Reeves also hitting the scoreboard. For the Panthers, who showed plenty of room for improvement, current Brisbane Academy prospects Saxon Crozier and Blake Coleman also found the big sticks, but 24-year-old leading goalkicker Matt Hammelmann was kept to just one major in a big tick for Broadbeach’s defence.

The finals journey…

After both earning a week’s rest as the top two ranked teams, the preliminary finals proved a relatively straightforward stage for either side. Broadbeach scrapped to beat Sherwood, who employed some defensive tactics, to the tune of 43 points to book its spot in the decider. It should prove a handy tune-up for the Cats as their defence held up well, though the finishing up forward could do with some sharpening. Meanwhile, Morningside held off a pesky Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) to advance via a 19-point victory. Crozier, Coleman, and Hammelmann were all again among the goals, but Victorian recruit Matthew McGannon was named best afield for his efforts through midfield. The Panthers will need another big effort from their forwards this coming Saturday.

Ones to watch…

A race against time will determine whether leading Queensland draft prospect Alex Davies returns to action for Broadbeach. The big-bodied inside midfielder has only managed one outing for the Cats in 2020, and is recovering from an elbow injury which saw him miss the Academy Series. It could be a risk to play him ahead of next month’s draft combine, but he would add clean extraction skills in what is usually the most hotly contested game of the season.

Conversely, another current SUNS Academy player in Aiden Fyfe promises to break the game open for Broadbeach, with his sharp ball use by foot and outside run making for valuable assets when the Cats are in need of a spark. Set to be stationed either off half-back or on the wing, Fyfe looms as a good counter to some of Morningside’s runners. Namely, Saxon Crozier‘s capacity to penetrate on the outer will be a key to much of the Panthers’ success, along with Blake Coleman‘s creativity in attack. Both make up two of the leading Lions Academy prospects for 2020, and have adjusted well to senior football.

Staying with the midfield battle, Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves has a good mix of ball-winning traits both inside and out, and should battle well against the likes of Toby Triffett and Matthew McGannon, two of Morningside’s prime movers. Up forward, livewire small Josh Gore will look to go big having turned heads in his over-age year. The SUNS Academy graduate should keep a Panthers defence which boasts Nathan Colenso busy alongside the likes of Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore. Both Gore and Nutting have booted 17 goals this season.

Tip: Broadbeach by 15

Featured Image: Broadbeach young guns Alex Davies and Josh Gore celebrate after a goal | Source: Russell Freeman Photography

QAFL Scouting notes: Semi-finals – Morningside and Broadbeach book spots in decider

IT was semi-final weekend in the QAFL, and the competition’s two best sides performed superbly after their week off. Broadbeach were far too good for Sherwood, keeping them to just four goals in a 43-point victory. Morningside led comfortably for the majority of their clash against Palm Beach Currumbin on the back of strong performances from Matthew McGannon, Nathan Colenso and William Pendlebury. They ran out 19-point winners, thus ending Palm Beach’s recent stranglehold on Grand Final day and setting up a blockbuster. It will be Morningside’s first QAFL decider since 2015, while the undefeated Broadbeach will be hoping to avenge their 2018 Grand Final defeat. When the two teams played each other earlier this month, Broadbeach got the chocolates with a thumping 50-point victory. This was a Broadbeach home game and Morningside’s only loss of the season to date, so fans should expect a closer contest next Saturday.

MORNINGSIDE:

#23 Blake Coleman

Coleman has had a fantastic draft year and put in another impressive performance against Palm Beach. The Brisbane Lions Academy prospect started the game on fire, kicking the first goal of the match just two minutes in. This came from a set shot after he earnt a free kick for a hold in a one-on-one contest deep inside forward 50. Coleman is such a dangerous threat in one-on-one situations because of his amazing combination of strength, speed and agility, so his defenders often panic in these situations and give away cheap free kicks. Coleman showed how skilled he is when he produced a brilliant handball in the first term on the up, out of congestion, to a teammate in the corridor. This started some great running play by his teammates and resulted in a goal. Coleman has great versatility too, because he can fly aerially with his fantastic leap or stay down and use his pace to crumb the contest. Despite predominantly being a forward, he usually also gets some midfield minutes because he is a clever stoppage player. However, he was not given many opportunities in the middle on Saturday.

#27 Saxon Crozier

This was one of the best games I have seen Crozier play, which speaks volumes given that it was a semi-final. He played his usual wing role and ran very hard to impact the contest offensively and defensively. Crozier pushed forward on multiple occasions to take uncontested marks inside 50 and earn shots at goal. Although he missed one shot in the first term, he made up for it with a lovely set shot in the third. Crozier’s great fitness level and willingness to push to the next contest made him very difficult for the opposition to stop, as he got a lot of handball receives and frequently found himself with plenty of space on the wings. He has clearly mastered the art of controlling possession as well, as he chipped the ball around a lot in the defensive half with teammates. This helped his side regain composure when Palm Beach started to get back into the game, and it was handy in the last quarter because it took some time off the clock. Crozier’s performance was fantastic and he will undoubtedly be one to watch in next week’s Grand Final.

#32 Nathan Colenso

Colenso had an outstanding game at half-forward for Morningside. He started the match with a beautiful front and centre crumb on the 50, and then quickly gave the ball on the up to a teammate running past. This early possession gave him some confidence, and it led to him flourishing for the rest of the match. His game style is very well suited to finals footy, as he shows a lot of aggression towards the contest and his opponents when they have the ball. This was highlighted when he laid a strong tackle in the forward half to earn a holding the ball decision in the first term. Colenso is a great long kick of the footy, as shown when he nailed a set shot from just inside the 50-metre arc. He followed this up just moments later by setting up another goal with a lovely weighted kick to a teammate. Throughout the day, Colenso applied some strong forward pressure and used his strength to shrug off tacklers and keep his feet after contact. His body use in marking contests was fantastic and he linked up well with other forwards, including Coleman and Liam Dwyer, to set up scoring opportunities. Colenso had a passage of play in the second quarter that was definitely one for the highlight reel. It started at half-back when he took the ball cleanly, drew an oncoming tackler and fed the handball inside to a teammate. He then pushed hard forward to get on the end of the play and kick an important goal for his side on the run. Colenso was a strong contributor for Morningside and he will be hoping to thrive once again in next week’s decider.

#35 Toby Triffett

Triffett had some good moments for Morningside in their victory. In the first term, he took a fantastic overhead mark on the wing whilst under pressure and linked up well with teammates to transition the ball forward. He spent time in the midfield throughout the day, where he read the ball nicely off the hands of the ruckmen and won some contested possessions and clearances. In the second half, he laid plenty of strong tackles and gave no space to his opponents at stoppages. He capped off the game with a smart kick inside 50 to find Dwyer in the last quarter for a scoring opportunity.

BROADBEACH:

#31 Aidan Fyfe

Fyfe is an athletic half-back that played his usual intercepting role beautifully for Broadbeach. He has a great leap and strong hands, and he sits off his opponent while getting into great positions behind the play so he can use these attributes to stop the opposition’s forward bursts. This was evident just before quarter time when he took a brilliant intercept mark in the middle of the ground and delivered the ball nicely to forward Jordan Moncrieff. Although Moncrieff’s marking attempt was well spoiled by a defender, the play still led to Broadbeach’s fourth goal of the day. Fyfe is a good ball user in defence, as he has an effective left foot kick and can also deliver cleanly on his right. He is a crafty player as well, which was shown when he cleverly snapped a pass around an opponent to find a teammate on the wing in the second quarter.

#35 Josh Gore

Gore was very lively up forward once again for the Cats. He applied some great forward pressure by using his electric pace and strong tackling ability. At forward 50 stoppages he frequently burst through the contest at speed and took opposition players with him, thus creating space for his teammates. Gore was also good at pushing up to the wings to provide a lead-up option for teammates coming out of defence. He was confident taking marks in the hands and his kicking was quite efficient. Gore only kicked one goal for the day, but it was an absolute gem in the second quarter. He drifted off his opponent into the pocket to take a nice mark, then he went back and kicked a difficult checkside from tight on the boundary. This gave Broadbeach a healthy lead and they never looked back.

#56 Bailey Reeves

Reeves had a solid impact for his team on the wing. He is one of the hardest runners offensively and defensively in the Broadbeach side, and his willingness to produce second, third and fourth efforts was on show once again in this game. This was particularly evident in the second quarter, when Reeves worked hard to get across and commit an important spoil inside his side’s attacking 50. He also regularly picked the ball up cleanly, held his own in marking contests and attacked the footy with ferocity. Although he did make some disposal errors as the day wore on, he never dropped his head and always worked to redeem himself at the next contest.

SHERWOOD:

#45 Jack Briskey

Briskey was one of Sherwood’s best performers on Saturday. He played as a deep defender for most of the match and was extremely reliable, frequently using his size and strength to win or halve one-on-one contests. Broadbeach were great at locking the ball in their forward half and getting repeat inside 50s, so Briskey and the other Sherwood defenders were under constant pressure all day. Despite this, Briskey continually stepped up for his team defensively. He always positioned himself well, gave his opponent no space to work with and saved some certain goals with fantastic spoils. Briskey also laid some strong tackles in the defensive 50, attacked the ball hard in congestion and provided an option for teammates to link up with coming out of defence. While his performance was mostly strong, Briskey did make some skill errors throughout the day. In the third term, he took a brilliant intercept mark in the defensive goal square but immediately turned the ball back over with a poor kick down the middle, luckily resulting in just a behind. In the final term, Briskey was pushed forward to give his side a strong leading option. He took some nice marks and provided a decent presence up there, but unfortunately it was too little too late for Sherwood.

Picture: RF Photography

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors weekend preview – Semi Finals

AFTER nine regular season rounds and a bumper elimination weekend, semi-finals time has arrived in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL). Week two of the postseason sees the top couple of sides return from a week off; as undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach hosts Sherwood (4th, 4-4), while Morningside (2nd, 7-1) takes on Palm Beach Currumbin (3rd, 6-2).

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns who will look to make a splash on the big stage this weekend. Get to know the prominent Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy players set to take the field, as well as the other young prospects who have impressed over the course of the season.

Semi Final 1:

Broadbeach vs. Sherwood
Saturday, September 19 | 2:30pm
Subaru Oval, Broadbeach

Sherwood will hope an upset is brewing when it travels to face undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach on Saturday. While the Cats were able to put their feet up in a well-earned bye week, the Magpies toiled for a five-point win in their knockout clash with Maroochydore. The competitive nature of the game should bode well for the underdogs, who could jump the highly-fancied hosts out the gates. Conversely, it could see Broadbeach come in the much fresher side.

The Cats’ bench is littered with young talent, headlined by prolific goalkicking small, Josh Gore. The crafty forward booted four majors in the Round 4 meeting between these two sides in 2020, so will again look to make a splash. Fellow Gold Coast SUNS Academy members Aiden Fyfe and Bailey Reeves join Gore on the five-man interchange, both top-aged prospects. Fyfe is a terrific user of the ball on the outer, while Reeves can play both sides of midfield and find plenty of the pill. 20-year-old SUNS Academy graduates Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore have both been named up forward for Broadbeach. Meanwhile, leading Queensland prospect Alex Davis remains on the sidelines with an elbow injury.

Over-age Brisbane Lions Academy gun Bruce Reville again takes his spot up on the wing for Sherwood, looking to provide plenty of drive going forward. Look for him to potentially rotate through the front six, or even into the centre bounces should the Magpies require a spark. Raw 20-year-old tall Samson Ryan will ply his trade in the ruck, with the ultra-athletic Jack Briskey set to provide some key position support from the bench. Fellow Lions Academy top-ager Connor Bulley has been named as an emergency for Sherwood.

Semi Final 2:

Morningside vs. Palm Beach Currumbin
Saturday, September 19 | 2:30pm
Jack Esplen Oval, Morningside

Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) will be tasked with completing a 52-point turnaround against Morningside since the two sides’ previous clash in Round 8, as they meet again at the semi-final stage. The Lions enjoyed a 50-plus point win of their own to advance to this stage, having finished just one game shy of the Panthers in third. Last week’s hitout puts PBC in winning form, but is hardly the competitive finals outing they may have sought before this clash.

A couple of leading Brisbane Lions Academy prospects – Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier – again take their place in the Panthers’ side. Coleman will look to rotate forward off the bench, providing clean hands and speed at all levels. Crozier will ply his trade off half-back with a booming kick and outside run in his arsenal. Another academy product, Toby Triffett comes in on the bench alongside Coleman, while Nathan Colenso has been named at full back, and 20-year-old Gippsland Power graduate Matthew McGannon roams through midfield.

Exciting smalls Ethan Hunt and Liam O’Brien will look to provide plenty of drive for PBC on the outside, having both fit in on the Lions’ interchange alongside 19-year-old Ashton Crossley. Top-age Gold Coast Academy prospect Jack Johnston comes in at centre half-back and will have his hands full, while Riley Buckland is another to keep an eye on with his run and attack in the forward half. Former Northern Knight Jamison Shea, who averages over two goals per game, should also make an impact in the front six.

Featured Image: Blake Coleman hunts the ball for Morningside | Source: RF Photography

QAFL scouting notes and wraps: Round 9 – Cats seal top spot as finals order determined

BROADBEACH solidified itself as the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) premiership favourite following a 50-point victory over second placed Morningside in the final round on the weekend. The victory guaranteed the Cats top spot and the minor premiership, whilst the Panthers finished second. Palm Beach Currumbin locked up third spot with a comprehensive win over Mt Gravatt, while Maroochydore and Sherwood both picked up vital wins ahead of finals.

In the top of the table clash between the Cats and Panthers, Broadbeach overcame an inaccurate start of just 1.7 in the opening term, to boot 12.9 after that, and run away with a 50-point win. The Panthers booted four last quarter goals, bu still fell well short despite the efforts of Will Pendlebury and Edward Mallan. Clay Cameron and Connor Nutting both kicked three goals apiece, while Kwaby Boakye, Ethan Reeves and Max Lower were named the Cats’ best in the win.

Palm Beach Currumbin enjoyed a comprehensive eight-goal win over Mt Gravatt, booting nine goals in the first half on their way to a strong 15.12 (102) to 7.12 (54) victory. Max Spencer was best on ground with five majors, while Jamison Shea (four) and Brayden Crossley (three) also stood out. For the Vultures, Jonah Licht was a shining light in attack, snagging five goals, while Joel Leahy and Todd Carbone were named among the best. The win knocked Mt Gravatt down to sixth, which means the two sides face off again this weekend.

Maroochydore ensured it booked itself a finals spot and avoided sixth placed with a 37-point triumph over Surfers Paradise. It was the final nail in the reigning premiers coffin, as the Demons failed to make finals after holding the cup aloft last year. Mitchell Scholard continued his goalkicking form this season with three goals for the Roos, as Carter Michael was one of four players to kick a couple of goals, but was also named among the best with Jacob Simpson. For the Demons, Max Pescud kicked a couple of majors, named in the best with Jack Prestegar and Daniel Charlesworth.

In the final game of the round, Sherwood nabbed fourth spot courtesy of a hard-fought 18-point win over Labrador. The Magpies did the bulk of the work in the opening term, booting six goals from 14 scoring shots to lead by 32 points at quarter time. The Tigers cut the deficit to eight by the main break but Sherwood was the better side after half-time, booting four goals to three, and dominating possession in what could have been a larger margin in the 11.18 (84) to 10.6 (66) – 13 more scoring shots. Liam Dawson kicked the three majors in the win, while Claye Beams and Bruce Reville were named among the best booting a couple each, and Errin Wasley-Black was named best on ground. For the Tigers, Blair Rubock snagged four majors and Bryce Retzlaff kicked three, while Thomas Miller was deemed best.

SCOUTING NOTES:

The following scouting notes focused on the top of the table clash, Broadbeach vs. Morningside and the last-chance saloon sixth-against-seventh Surfers Paradise vs. Maroochydore.

Blake Coleman (Morningside) [Brisbane Lions Academy]

Coleman backed up his outstanding game last week with another strong performance in a losing side. He started the game well by impacting clearances and creating some effective link-up play through the middle of the ground. Coleman always provided an option for teammates moving the ball forward and has a clean grab, evidenced by a nice mark in the hands from a kick out in the first quarter. He has a great leaping ability and is very athletic for his size, so opposition players have trouble defending him in the air.

Coleman drifted out of the game in the second term but had a solid second half. He spent most of his time up forward and rolled through the midfield in short bursts. His impact as a midfielder was more profound, as he won plenty of contested possessions and always picked the ball up cleanly. This was highlighted when he burst through a stoppage at pace, plucked the ball off the ground one-handed and got the clearance in the last term.

He did have his moments as a forward despite the minimal opportunities. This included a nice front and square in the third quarter and a great mark he took in the goal square just minutes later. He got the mark by reading the flight of the ball better than anyone else, and then he finished off the good work by putting the goal through. Morningside were a long way behind in the last term, but Coleman never stopped working tirelessly. This was validated when he produced a magnificent run-down tackle in the final term to cause a turnover (holding the ball) in the middle of the ground. He did well to not fall in the player’s back as well, as his momentum could have easily launched him forward and caused him to give away a free kick. Coleman will play a major role for Morningside this finals series.

Saxon Crozier (Morningside) [Brisbane Lions Academy]

Crozier drifted in and out of the game on Saturday but still showed some positive signs. He played on a wing most of the time and worked hard defensively and offensively to get involved in the contest. When the ball was in his area, Crozier attacked it hard and won some strong contested footy. He gave some nice handballs in congestion and positioned himself well defensively. Morningside continually bombed the ball forward though rather than looking for runners, so this meant Crozier was unable to provide much of the link-up run that he is known for. In the second term, he took a nice intercept mark, won a 50-metre penalty and put through the set shot from about 40 out to kick his side’s first goal for the day.

Nathan Colenso (Morningside) [Gold Coast Suns Academy]

Colenso played up forward for most of the game, and it was a very tough day to be a Morningside forward. The delivery was rushed and rarely to Colenso’s advantage, so he never had much of a chance to make a major impact. To his credit, he did not drop his head and worked very hard to keep providing an option and apply pressure on the opposition. Late in the game he got thrown into the midfield to try and give his side a much-needed spark, and he had some nice moments where he picked the ball up cleanly and dished it out to teammates. When he gets the footy he always looks to move it quickly, which is important at half-forward because it means other forwards can get one-on-one opportunities before the opposition flood their numbers back.

Bailey Reeves (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns Academy]

Reeves played as a defensive wingman and was absolutely outstanding. He has a fantastic work rate and was more than willing to put his head over the footy, take contact and create space for his teammates. Reeves positioned himself well around the contest so that he could impact at clearances but also could spread quickly into open space when his side won the footy. Second and third efforts are a trademark of Reeves’ game, as he never gives up on a contested situation, never stops running and always follows up his possessions.

As the commentators noted during the match, Reeves’ kicking is known to let him down at times. However, his short kicking was reasonably effective in this match and he delivered some very nice inside 50s to the advantage of his teammates. One of these was in the final term, where he demonstrated that he has good vision by finding an open teammate inside on the 45. Reeves also collected some nice half-volleys in congestion and impacted aerial contests with some excellent spoils.

In the final term, Reeves had a great moment that exemplified the type of player he is. He stood under a high-ball on the 50-metre arc and got crashed into by others flying for the mark. While he could have stayed down, he popped straight back up and hunted the footy, immediately winning a contested ball amongst a big pack of players. For his efforts, he won a free kick and then went back and kicked a well-deserved goal. Reeves will be very important for Broadbeach throughout the finals series.

Josh Gore (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns Academy]

Gore had a strong game for the Cats. He is a lively forward that impacted the game in multiple ways, but mainly through his pressure inside 50. Gore used his pace to make the opposition panic when coming out of defence, highlighted in the second quarter when he laid two strong aggressive tackles to win holding the ball decisions. He also used his pace to consistently get to ideal crumbing positions and break away from opponents when he got the ball. Gore showed great composure in the final term when he quickly got off the ground with the ball in hand to turn, deliver a short kick inside 50 and set up a goal.

Aidan Fyfe (Broadbeach) [Gold Coast Suns Academy]

Fyfe played at half-back for the Cats and had a solid game. He was quiet in the first quarter, but this was mainly because the ball barely went to that end of the ground. In the second, he lifted to apply some outstanding pressure and impact aerial contests in the defensive 50. He regularly went up to spoil as the third-man-in to help his fellow defenders combat the opposition forwards’ marking abilities. Fyfe was very clean in the second half, particularly when picking the ball up in congestion and handballing to teammates. Although the service to Morningside’s forwards was not great, Fyfe proved very difficult to out-mark and looked very comfortable in one-on-one contests.

Carter Michael (Maroochydore) [Brisbane Lions Academy]

Michael’s strong season continued will another stellar performance for Maroochydore on Saturday. The Brisbane Lions Academy prospect started the game on fire, running around the back of a teammate to receive a handball on the 50-metre arc and kick the first goal. His opponents clearly did not learn from this occurrence, as about 15 minutes later he made the exact same play to kick his second from a similar distance. Michael’s booming left foot kick is his strongest asset, so he looks to get onto that side of the body whenever possible and his teammates always look to give him the ball. This resulted in a lot of great ball movement out of the defensive 50, as Michael effortlessly found teammates by foot on a consistent basis in the first half. He also took the kick outs and showed-off the range in his kicking by launching one all the way to centre-wing in the opening term.

Late in the game, Michael spent a bit of time in the midfield and did not look out of place. He was willing to put his head over the ball, win his own footy and use quick hands to release open teammates. Throughout the game he also applied some strong pressure on the opposition, as shown when he stuck a tackle in the second term to win a holding the ball decision. After this, he immediately looked into the centre corridor and found a teammate with a typical spearing kick. When Michael plays with this type of confidence, he is very difficult to stop.

Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise) [Gold Coast Suns Academy]

Pescud was one of Surfers Paradise’s standout players on Saturday. He kicked his team’s first goal after producing a nice lead up at the ball carrier and taking the mark with strong hands. In the second term, he showed poise with some clean takes and quick hands on the up to teammates. He also took a spectacular hanger with a great leap in this term. Although this was definitely one for the highlight reel, he unfortunately missed the set shot at goal. This was a theme for Pescud on the day, as he kicked two goals but could have easily had five or six if he had kicked straight. Regardless, he was very lively up forward by consistently hunting the ball and applying plenty of pressure on the opposition. He also took a nice intercept mark in the last quarter, worked hard on the lead and demonstrated that he has good speed.

Picture: RF Photography