Tag: Scouting Notes

Scouting Notes: WA Under 19s vs. Perth

WESTERN Australia’s Under 19 squad completed its third-consecutive dig ahead of this year’s National Championships, comfortably accounting for a select Perth side, 13.17 (95) to 1.6 (12) on Saturday. The Black Ducks continued their ominous form with its midfield again proving difficult to contain, including leading WA prospects Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson. Squad members Jesse Motlop, Corey Warner, and Jack Avery were among those to miss once again due to League commitments, along with debutant Luke Polson. There were some impressive performances nonetheless, which we narrow down to in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

WA U19s 4.2 | 7.3 | 10.7 | 13.17 (95)
PERTH 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)

GOALS:

WA U19s: E. Benning 3, J. Amiss 2, E. Curley 2, A. Sheldrick 2, K. Dittmar, N. Erasmus, E. Regan, J. Stretch
Perth: J Wilson

Previous WA Trials:
>> WA U19s vs. East Perth
>> WA U19s vs. WA U17s

WA UNDER 19s:

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder

The powerful Claremont midfielder started the game like a house on fire, winning plenty of the ball (10 disposals) in the first quarter. He was strong in the contests with his ability to win the hard ball a real feature, helping to release the runners out into space. Although Sheldrick’s in and under work was strong, he also showed his ability to break away with a very good long range goal in the last quarter, taking the game on and kicking from 50m on his favoured left foot. Sheldrick would find the goals again, working inside 50 to take a mark and nailing the set shot from 45m in the second quarter. He continued to attack the contest hard in the second half but would not replicate his previous ball winning feats, where he found the ball with ease on the outside and inside. Sheldrick continues to push his draft credentials, finishing the game with 19 disposals, six marks, five clearances and two goals.

#21 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco)
2/12/2003 | 188cm/80kg | Midfielder

After a best on ground performance last week, the Subiaco midfielder was again at his ball winning best and although his skills were not quiet as sharp as last week, he was still very effective. With a few tackles and shots at goal early on, you could see Erasmus was wanting to get involved a lot quicker than he did last week and although his first shot went out on the full, his second attempt was much better – working into space inside 50 and converting the simple set shot. The main concern with Erasmus’ kicking was on his non-preferred side and although on occasion he showed great composure to give himself time, he often had enough time to go on his preferred more often than not, and can further try to to get as much impact out of his disposal as possible. Erasmus finished with a game-high 28 disposals despite spending the last quarter forward, where he still easily managed to find the ball, and with that also finished with eight marks, seven tackles and one goal.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder

It was another solid game from the tall Subiaco midfielder, with Johnson a consistent four-quarter performer who showed plenty of class and composure with ball in hand. Johnson was steady in the first half, winning eight disposals, but it was his second half and especially his third quarter that really caught the eye. His first goal assist was inside 50 where he showed great composure and agility to get around one opponent, before using a short burst of speed to get away from another and hand off to Dittmar who finished well. His second great effort came on the wing, recovering from a marking contest to gather cleanly and side step an opponent with good composure, then hitting a beautiful pass inside 50 to Benning. Johnson finished the game with 19 disposals, six inside 50s and six marks as he continues to impress as a potential first round draft prospect.

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward

The talented key forward form East Perth once again kicked multiple goals in what could have been an even bigger haul if his set shot kicking was as reliable as it has been all year, missing some very gettable attempts. Amiss impressed early with the first goal of the game coming from a lovely banana set shot hard on the boundary. Getting the opportunity was well done as he was the one to pressure the turnover to give him the set shot. He was able to kick the hardest of the day, yet missed some gettable goals late in the game, finishing with four behinds. His second goal was in open play, quickly kicking another banana in the fourth quarter, but what impressed in his game was his work without the ball – often playing one-on-two and competing well in the air, before applying pressure at ground level with a holding the ball tackle late in the last term. Amiss finished the game with 13 disposals, four marks and kicked 2.4.

Featured Image: (L-R) West Australian draft prospects Matthew Johnson, Jacob van Rooyen, Rhett Bazzo, and Jack Williams | Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

WA U19s Player Focus: Neil Erasmus (Subiaco)

SUBIACO midfielder-forward Neil Erasmus has become arguably Western Australia’s top draft prospect in 2021 after some outstanding form to date. On Saturday, he made his return from a month-long injury lay-off, helping his state Under 19s side defeat a select East Perth squad 16.6 (102) to 9.6 (60). The 17-year-old got right back to his ball winning ways, notching 30 disposals and six marks as he warmed to the contest nicely.

With averages of 28 disposals, eight marks and four tackles at WAFL Colts level for Subiaco, and 37 disposals, nine marks and a goal for Hale School in the PSA, Erasmus is as consistent and dynamic an accumulator as any among the talent pool. We put his latest performance under the Player Focus microscope, covering his every move quarter-by-quarter.

>> Scouting Notes: WA U19s vs. East Perth

Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia

DOB: 2/12/2003
Height/Weight: 188cm/80kg
Position: Midfielder/Forward

Strengths: 

Overhead marking
Accumulation
Clean skills

2021 Averages:

WAFL Colts: 28.0 disposals | 7.8 marks | 4.0 tackles | 4.0 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1 total)

Source: WAFL

WA Under 19s 16.6 (102) def. East Perth 9.6 (60)

Player Focus:
#21 Neil Erasmus (WA U19s)

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1

The West Australian coaching staff would have been forgiven for wanting to ease Erasmus back into action off his quad injury, but the 17-year-old proved ready to go as he started at the opening centre bounce.

His first touch was a sighter for things to come, an uncontested mark at half-back which was followed by a neat kick down the line. In an early showing of his accumulative ability, Erasmus worked into space to receive the kick back and chip another forward.

He looked more comfortable in those open spaces during the opening exchanges, with the couple of times he got first hands to the ball in-tight resulting in rushed handballs away under tackling pressure. That tendency would later be refined.

Most of Erasmus’ work was done by hand as he peeled off the stoppages and worked back to finished the term with seven disposals (two kicks, five handballs) and two marks, despite going off sore with under five minutes left to play.

Q2

After being clipped in the latter stages of the first quarter, Erasmus wasn’t sighted at the opening centre bounce of term two. Once rotated on, he was thrust straight back into the on-ball mix and took some time to get involved.

The Subiaco star’s first big moment came with a terrific overhead mark at half-back, cutting across the waiting contest to pluck the ball solidly. In that same passage, Erasmus went on to chain three disposals together, following his short kicks to get the ball back and continue his side’s forward momentum.

In those instances, Erasmus was clean and used both feet with efficiency, showing great improvement in the kicking department. While not overly quick, he also hit ground balls at speed and was quite slick in his ball handling.

He fed plenty of runners in term two to finish with eight disposals (four kicks, four handballs) in total, bringing his tally for the half up to 15 disposals and four marks.

Q3

Having attended nine of 14 centre bounces in the first half, Erasmus was present at all seven during term three as he produced his equal-most productive term – at least in terms of pure numbers.

He began to show great poise in possession, taking time to assess his options before delivering neat kicks forward or flicking out handballs under pressure. His use by hand was again effective in releasing runners and opening up the play.

Erasmus also had a good defensive moment deep in his own 50m arc, corralling an opponent towards the boundary line and laying a tackle to force the throw-in.

He finished the quarter with eight disposals (four kicks, four handballs) once more, to go with one mark, one tackle, and an inside 50 kick as he broke clear from the corridor.

Q4

Erasmus began to utilise his kicking game in more diverse and impactful ways during a strong final quarter, in which he was again rotated on through the midfield.

His first break with ball in hand came at a centre bounce, where he swooped on the loose pill and kicked a bullet pass up to half-forward, before following up to ask for the hands back.

He still worked around the ground to find plenty of uncontested ball, but also snared first possession more often at the coalface. Erasmus’ best moment came late on as he received on the wing, turned forward quickly and executed a beautiful pass to assist Richard Farmer’s goal.

In the end, another seven disposals (four kicks, three handballs) saw Erasmus finish with 30 touches (14 kicks, 16 handballs) and six marks to put the stamp on an impressive return outing.

In closing…

Erasmus firmed his case as Western Australia’s top draft prospect this year, hardly missing a beat in his return from a quad injury. The Subiaco talent ran out a full game in midfield and leant on his running capacity to find plenty of the ball, which he has had no trouble doing this year. He displayed marked improvement with his kicking on both sides and was typically clean by hand, while showing a single glimpse of his aerial ability with an overhead mark in term two. While not overly quick, Erasmus showed nice poise under tackling pressure and looked to stay on the move at stoppages, most often peeling forward once his teammates had won the contested ball. He attended 21 of 29 centre bounces for the day, but found most of his 30 disposals around the ground. As he continues to work back to full flight, Erasmus will continue to lurk around the top 10 mark, but certainly looks a first round talent.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: WA Under 19s vs. East Perth

THE WEST Australian Under 19s squad made good on another opportunity to gel, this time by trumping East Perth by 42 points on Saturday. Magnets were shuffled and top prospect Neil Erasmus made his return from a quad injury in the 16.6 (102) to 9.6 (60) win, which came against a Royals line-up consisting of Colts and Reserves players.

While usual forward Jacob van Rooyen showed promise in defence, the Black Ducks’ stocks were dealt a blow with talls Jarrad McIlvinney (concussion) and Rhett Bazzo (ankle) failing to run out the game. There were plenty of impressive performances nonetheless, which we outline in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

WA U19s 5.2 | 8.5 | 12.6 | 16.6 (102)
EAST PERTH 1.0 | 4.2 | 6.4 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:

WA U19s: L. Polson 4, J. Amiss 3, J. Stretch 3, L. Paton 2, R. Farmer 2, K. Harbour, A. Sheldrick
East Perth: C. Sparks 2, T. Graham 2, J. Hubbard, S. Kuek, M. Thomas, J. Cahill, R. Cox

WA UNDER 19s:

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder

A strong performer all year for Claremont and Christ Church Grammar, the hard-nosed midfielder did what he does best – winning plenty of the ball through the midfield and using his strength and smarts at stoppages, while also accumulating around the ground. Although not known for his speed, he had a great passage of play after first winning a clearance, then finding his way on the end of the passage by burning an opponent into goal, but just missing the shot. Sheldrick would finally nail a goal from a free kick after showing his strong play to take on tacklers, which he did all game. He proved difficult to tackle, while also being a strong tackler in his own right.

#8 Jahmal Stretch (Claremont)
16/01/2003 | 181cm/62kg | Small Forward

The Halls Creek product plying his trade at Claremont isn’t eligible for Fremantle under their NGA, so he will be available to every team in the 2021 National Draft and is certainly catching the eye with every passing game with his clear talent and smooth movement. Stretch nailed three goals; his first came from a running passage in the second quarter, before nailing a set shot after an impressive mark going back with the flight. His final goal was a lovely gather and snap goal in the third quarter. Stretch was able to hit the scoreboard but also set up others goals with his clean hands and skills inside 50.

#13 Bryce Watson (Swan Districts)
28/01/2003 | 182cm/71kg | Defender

The smoothing moving defender from Swan Districts showed plenty of class and athleticism, proving a strong defender while also offering plenty of composure and skill with ball in hand. Watson has a good leap and often did well to spoil from behind. When he got front position he attacked the contests hard and cleanly, with a nice passage of play in the second quarter highlighting this as Watson gathered and spun, although his kick was ultimately smothered. While his kicking wasn’t as sound in the second half, he still looked composed and clean from half-back and with continued games like this, he will announce himself as one of the better draft options as a small defender.

#21 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco)
2/12/2003 | 188cm/80kg | Midfielder

Despite a slow start, Erasmus had a huge game playing through the midfield coming off an injury. The Subiaco and Hale prospect was a smooth mover in the midfield, with his composure with ball in hand and skills by hand and foot a real step above. Erasmus showed shades of Brisbane young gun Hugh McCluggage with his work-rate around the ground and composure to hit all his targets despite the pressure, with is kicking on either foot a real feature. Erasmus was great in chaining disposals with some nice marks at half-back and then working up the ground to get involved multiple times in the same chain. Although he seems more suited to the outside, he showed good clearance work in the last quarter and as a player at 188cm with good marking overhead, Erasmus is looking a very complete prospect.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder

Although not as strong as in last week’s game, Johnson was solid through the midfield working well with his fellow on-ballers. Spreading well from the contest, the Subiaco midfielder standing at 192cm didn’t play the traditional big-bodied midfield role, leaving that to the likes of Sheldrick and Dittmar with Johnson helping out with his clean hands in the midfield chains. Johnson was very steady with his disposal for the most part and a long creative handball in the last quarter showcased his vision and smarts under pressure.

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward

The East Perth key forward just continues to find the goals with ease, adding another three majors to his long tally of goals kicked this year. Amiss was hard to stop in the air, with his first goal coming in the first quarter – using his body well to protect the ball drop and mark. Amiss’ next two goals were more stock standard, with a nice lead up mark and set shot later in the opening term, and his third goal coming in the third quarter via a routine set shot from 50m. Amiss has a lovely set shot action with his only blemishes coming from shots in general play. Although he needs to do more outside 50, he took a nice contested mark in third quarter outside 50, showing he can be a good target up the ground.

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s – Round 14

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season continued over the weekend, with the latest round of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 17 and 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 4.13 (37) def. by NORWOOD 10.10 (70)

By: Michael Alvaro

Woodville-West Torrens:

#14 Blake Hansen

With plenty to do in the Eagles’ defence, Hansen racked up an equal game-high 25 disposals and nine rebound 50s. The bottom-ager took on the kick-in duties while stationed in his usual defensive post, often snatching metres out of the goalsquare before unleashing a long kick. He was also shifted up onto the wing, showing the same kind of positive forward run and looking for handball receives on the outer.

#16 Will Pearce

Pearce was a strong and consistent part of the Eagles’ midfield mix, proving prominent around the contest in conditions which made clean extraction tough. He managed to get his hands on the ball plenty of times and finished with 21 disposals, seven marks, and six tackles in a pretty well-rounded display, though he couldn’t quite find the goals like he usually does up forward.

#18 William Neumann

Another strong body in midfield, Neumann seemed well suited to the conditions with his ample work over the ball and ability to break tackles with brute force. Neumann also showed some nice points of difference, with one being his overhead marking as he rose for a couple of solid grabs around the ground. He also won a free kick inside 50 and slotted a well-hit set shot goal, adding to his 20 touches and four clearances.

Others:

Dustin Launer again finished as one of the Eagles’ highest ball winners with 23 disposals, as the likes of Jack Murphy (19 disposals, nine marks) and Nathan Barkla (16 disposals, five tackles) put in solid shifts. Meanwhile, state Under 17s squad member Hunter Carter had it 14 times though midfield and snared a goal early in the final term.

Norwood:

#3 Noah Hyde

Hyde was super busy for Norwood on the outer, breaking the lines with positive run-and-carry and proving clever with ball in hand. He racked up 22 touches, seven marks and five inside 50s for the Redlegs, helping link forward in transition and breaking into some really dangerous areas. He very nearly impacted the scoreboard in a major way too, but could only register two behinds.

#9 Tyson Walls

Like Hyde, Walls helped link Norwood into attack with productive carry and clever ball use between the arcs. He looked to get creative with ball in hand; darting short kicks to his forwards, chaining possessions by hand, and working hard to have repeat impacts in his side’s passages of play. The state Under 17 squad member had another terrific outing overall, finishing with 21 disposals and five inside 50s.

#10 Taj Rahui

Arguably best afield for the Redlegs, Rahui was perhaps even better than his final statline of 25 disposals, six marks, and three rebound 50s. The bottom-ager mopped up beautifully across Norwood’s defensive half, setting a high line to help force turnovers and keep his side locked into attack mode. He handled the ball cleanly in tough conditions and was not afraid to take on tackles, with rebounding run a key feature of his game. Rahui also looked to kick through the corridor, hitting some aggressive passes through the middle to really compound his impact in a well-rounded performance.

#20 Charles Kemp

Another player who handled the ball exceptionally well in muddy conditions, Kemp clunked a remarkable seven contested marks among his total of eight overall. He used his strength well when stationed as Norwood’s deepest forward, engaging well with his opponent before snapping the ball up. As the game wore on, Kemp also worked further afield and presented strongly on the lead, proving a reliable marking target. He kicked three goals for the game, turning crumber for the last with a nice shark off hands and snap finish.

Others:

Norwood’s midfield worked hard at the coalface to set the Redlegs on the front foot, with the likes of Benjamin Belperio (24 disposals, eight clearances), Peter Minervini (23 disposals, five inside 50s, and Will Charlton (21 disposals, two goals) all returning really solid efforts. Jayden Gale was productive with nine inside 50s, while Will Bowman and Riley Verrall stood up in defence.

NORTH ADELAIDE 10.5 (65) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 15.7 (97)

By: Tom Wyman

North Adelaide:

#5 Shaun Bennier

Donning the long-sleeves, defender Shaun Bennier was one of the Roosters best performers on an otherwise disappointing day for the red and whites. Starting the game deep in defence, he was seemingly involved in everything for the Roosters as West Adelaide peppered the goal-face. His long kicking was on display as Bennier was charged with the kick-in duties. He had some good battles with a couple of the West Adelaide forwards, including Tom Scully, and did well despite giving away some height. Late in the second term he was moved to the other end of the ground, with the change paying immediate dividends as Bennier booted a set-shot goal. Moving back into defence after the main break, his ball use remained clean and his rebound proved important. He finished the game with 16 disposals, three marks and seven rebounds.

#28 Max Blacker

With important midfielders Hugh Jackson, Harvey Harrison and James Willis out of the side due to state commitments, bottom-aged on-baller Max Blacker was given a more balanced role through the midfield. He found plenty of the ball and seemed to enjoy spending some more time on the inside, compared to his predominately wing-role when the Roosters are at full-strength. He used the ball fairly well for most of the game, with his disposal by foot generally careful and precise. The equal-leading disposal getter for the home side, Blacker finished with 24 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and three inside-50s.

Others: 

Midfielder William Dowling (24 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three clearances, six inside-50s and a goal) was certainly one of North’s best, working hard through the middle. He was joined by Kane McAuliffe (18 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and two goals) and Adam Heath (17 disposals and four clearances) who both fought hard. The former produced one of the highlights of the game by launching a left-foot goal from outside-50 late in the game. Angus Tully joined McAuliffe as the Roosters only multiple goal-kickers, booting a couple apiece, while James White laid a game-high 12 tackles to go with 16 disposals and a goal.

West Adelaide:

#7 Kobe Ryan

Bottom-aged midfielder Kobe Ryan was once again his sides most prolific player in the triumph over North Adelaide. The Sacred Heart College student showed excellent vision and skill to hit up his targets with ball in-hand. The placement of his kicks, despite the blustery conditions, highlighted his terrific skillset. He cracked in typically hard all-game, drawing a number of free kicks simply by going in lower than his opponent. A natural ball-winner who reads the game well in-tight, Ryan was knocked off the ball at-times by bigger bodied opposition, but concluded another positive showing with 32 possessions, five tackles, eight clearances and nine inside-50s.

#37 Tom Scully

Key forward Tom Scully had a great day in attack for West Adelaide. Scully provided teammate Harry Barnett with a cop-out in the ruck at-times, but was stationed deep in attack for much of the contest. He presented up the ground well, with his size and reach clearly worrying the North Adelaide defenders. He looked capable overhead without being dominant. A highlight was his strong one-on-one mark in the third term which led to a set-shot goal. Scully was very clean below his knees and showed a willingness to get involved in the game in general play rather than simply wait for his opportunities in the air. The tall utility finished with 12 disposals, three goals, two marks and 17 hit-outs.

#40 Luke Young

Medium forward Luke Young tore open the game with a brilliant passage in the second quarter which saw him boot three goals in as many minutes. Strong overhead, Young used his size to advantage in attack, nudging his opponent under the ball to take a couple of solid grabs. He combined well with Tom Scully inside-50, with the duo proving difficult to stop in-tandem. Young would add a fourth goal in the final term to complete a terrific showing which saw him also manage 17 disposals and six marks (two contested).

#51 Harry Barnett

Big-man Harry Barnett was terrific in the ruck for West Adelaide, often getting both hands to the ball at stoppages and either clearing space or palming it down to his midfielders. However Barnett’s ability to impact the game aerially was particularly exciting. His judgement of the ball in-flight and strong hands overhead allowed him to take five grabs for the game – two of which were contested. Barnett showed off his leap and athleticism by soaring high early in the first term to haul in a spectacular grab. The teenager worked hard around the ground and booted a second-term goal. He finished the day with 9 disposals and 23 hit-outs in an encouraging performance given the less-than favourable conditions at Prospect Oval.

Others:

Small defender Charlie Pridham didn’t accumulate as much of the ball as in recent weeks, however he still had some important touches, particularly under pressure down back. The under-18 competition’s leading rebounder, Pridham managed 17 disposals, four tackles and three rebounds in the Bloods win. Midfielders Tyson Coe and Dylan McCormick produced workmanlike performances through the middle. Coe impressed with his brute strength and clean hands in-tight, finishing the game with 18 touches, five tackles, six clearances and four inside-50s. The speedy McCormick also gathered 18 possessions, to go with four tackles, five clearances and three inside-50s.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 6.7 (43) def. GLENELG 4.9 (33)

By: Tom Wyman

South Adelaide:

#5 Angus Bradley

The blonde-haired utility spent the game in the midfield, having shown an ability to fill a role across half-back earlier in the year. Bradley was effective at stoppages, positioning himself well, reading the ruckman’s taps and often clearing the area with a quick snap. In tricky conditions, he showed a desire to break open the game with some passages of run and carry. However Bradley could have lowered his eyes to spot up shorter targets at-times instead of kicking long, particularly when going forward. He added a goal in the third term after capitalising on a Bays fumble on the goal-line and finished the day with 22 disposals, five tackles, seven clearances and six inside-50s.

#11 Jaiden Magor

Bottom-ager Jaiden Magor started the game at half-forward but rotated through the midfield as the game wore on. He didn’t accumulate the numbers of fellow on-ballers Angus Bradley or Luke Mitton, however Magor showed some glimpses which suggests he has a very bright future. He was clean at ground level and weaved through traffic nicely. His highlight of the game came tucked against the boundary line where Magor danced past a couple of would-be tacklers, located a target in the corridor and picked him off with a pin-point drop punt. He tackled hard as always and moved well across the ground but missed a couple of opportunities in-front of goal, finishing with three behinds to go with 13 disposals, five tackles, three clearances and four inside-50s.

#13 Lachlan Hayes

Lachlan Hayes was South Adelaide’s glue down back in what was arguably a best on-ground performance. The diminutive defender read the play well and positioned himself well to cut off a number of Glenelg attacking moments. Spending some time on the dangerous Harry Tunkin at-times, he not only held his own in one-on-one situations, but covered for a number of his teammates, always seeming to be in the thick of it in defence. He provided plenty of rebound from South Adelaide’s defensive-50 and used the ball well in windy and slippery conditions. The 17-year-old from the Cove Football Club finished with a team-high 27 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and 11 rebounds.

Others: 

Small midfielder Luke Mitton was combative in his on-ball role, providing some all-important energy around the contest. He gathered 20 disposals (including 18 kicks), five tackles and six clearances. Fellow midfielder Tom Wheaton managed 17 disposals, five tackles and three clearances. Talented ruckman Will Verrall fought hard against Glenelg big-man Henry Gould, with the pair both having their moments. Verrall finished with 24 hit-outs along with eight disposals. Clever forward Jack Delean booted two goals from his seven touches, including a well-taken set-shot.

Glenelg:

#6 Darcy Gluyas

With a couple of Glenelg’s best players absent from the under-18 side due to state commitments on Friday night, Darcy Gluyas was the Bays go-to guy in the middle. He was dominant in the first term, winning 14 possession and providing some calmness and composure in an otherwise scrappy, heavily contested-style game. Wearing the long-sleeves, Gluyas spent some time on the inside and the outside and looked particularly damaging when given some time and space. He gathered 26 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances and four inside-50s in a well-rounded display.

#29 Hayden Brokensha

Bottom-ager Hayden Brokensha played arguably his best game in Bays colours in the clubs ten-point defeat. He was deployed across half-back where he demonstrated good poise and looked quite at home. An unfortunate mistake on the Panthers goal-line led to a South Adelaide major, however Brokensha accumulated plenty of the football and showed some promising signs in the yellow and black, finishing with a game-high 29 disposals, two marks and six rebounds.

#38 Jakob Ryan

Jakob Ryan lined-up across half-forward to start the game but was moved onto the wing as the game progressed. He had a set-shot early in the game but pushed the kick across the face. He was clean by hand on a couple of occasions on the outer wing and was composed with his ball-use all day, both by hand and by foot. A classy mover who has performed well for Glenelg’s under-18s since re-joining the team a couple of weeks ago, Ryan gathered 26 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three inside-50s.

Others:

Adelaide father-son product Brodie Edwards produced another solid performance playing a variety of roles for Glenelg. Clean by hand throughout the contest, he finished with 22 disposals, four clearances and three rebounds. Harry Tunkin managed 20 disposals, three marks, four tackles and a goal and was typically busy around the ball. Archie Lovelock and Will Watts both accumulated 22 disposals, whilst key forward Harry McInnes booted three of Glenelg’s four goals for the game.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 7.12 (54) def. by STURT 15.13 (103)

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#17 Tahjin Krieg

Krieg was Centrals’ best player afield and the most prolific across both sides, finishing with impressive numbers of 37 disposals, 10 marks, and five clearances. He was constantly on the move in midfield, breaking to the outer and generating plenty of forward momentum for his side. While Sturt was well on top for most of the game, Krieg proved a consistent figure and was clever in his decision making with ball in hand. Whether it was darting away to avoid tacklers or drawing the opponent one way before moving the other, Krieg found ways to manufacture room to run, with his sharp kicks the only facet which sometimes let him down.

#38 Brodie Tuck

Considering his side was dominated for much of the contest, Tuck fared well to come away with 21 disposals, eight marks, and 3.3 as Centrals’ rotating ruck-forward. He was mostly stationed forward and proved a focal point for the Bulldogs, but not always in a traditional key position sense. While Tuck presented nicely up the ground as a marking option, he was also made to work with plenty of ground balls inside 50, and showcased some dynamism when doing so. The bottom-ager snagged two of his three majors during the third term, putting through consecutive snaps with class for a man of his 193cm standing.

Others:

Ruben Carreno had plenty to do down back before being shifted to midfield, showcasing a sound short kicking game among his 25-disposal effort. Henry Ratcliff also rolled through midfield and collected 21 touches, while Jake Grubb (17 disposals, seven marks) was handy on the outer and Adam Deakin (12 disposals, six marks, three behinds) was dangerous once swung forward from defence.

Sturt:

#7 Nick Sadler

Sadler was superb for Sturt, showcasing every bit of his class from midfield with 26 disposals, six clearances and a goal. He looked as polished as anyone in possession, with his clean hands and punchy kicking helping the Double Blues gain ascendancy in the centre. The bottom-ager proved a slippery customer and utilised his speed on the ball, snatching metres or gaining ample separation to ensure his kicks were either well directed or at least penetrative. He was even busy when resting forward and speared some lovely passes to others, while also producing a highlight-reel speccy and goal at the end of the third term.

#11 Luca Slade

Sturt has some really promising Under 16 talent coming through its 18s squad, and Slade is one of them. The 2005-born midfielder-forward enjoyed plenty of minutes in the engine and looked dangerous on the break, using his speed to carry the Double Blues into attack. When stationed forward, Slade worked up to the arc and helped link his side towards goal. His smarts showed more and more as the game wore on, and Slade finished with 28 disposals, seven marks and a goal – with more than just one look at the big sticks.

#28 George Pope

Another of Sturt’s up-and-coming Under 16s, Pope continues to show promise after contributing 24 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals. The under-ager rotated through midfield but spent plenty of time forward, using his strength to bustle through tackles and release handballs under that kind of pressure. He helped the Double Blues break into attack and while his disposal by foot remains a touch raw, Pope managed to convert two terrific goals.

Others:

Sturt was served well by its forwards, as Jackson Bishop (13 disposals, four goals), Chad Reschke (15 disposals, nine marks, two goals), and Blake Fidge (14 disposals, one goal) formed a very handy trio. Cormac Dwyer was productive in midfield with 28 disposals, five clearances and a goal, while the likes of Jamie Taylor and Kai Tucker also had their moments on either side of midfield.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography via South Adelaide FC

Scouting Notes: Western Australia U17 vs. U19 trial game

THE NEXT generation of West Australian talent took centre stage on Saturday, as the Under 17 and Under 19 state squads went head-to-head in Claremont. As expected, the elder and more developed Under 19s took out a one-sided victory, 17.13 (115) to 4.9 (33), but prospects from both sides were able to showcase high-level potential. We highlight some of the top performers in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

Note, Neil Erasmus, Josh Browne, Jaiden Hunter (injured), Jack Avery, Corey Warner, and Jesse Motlop (League commitments) were all unavailable for the clash. Rucks Jake South and Eric Benning also swapped to play a half for either side.

WA U17s 1.2 | 1.5 | 4.7 | 4.9 (33)
WA U19s 4.4 | 9.6 | 14.9 | 17.13 (115)

GOALS:

U17s: J. South, D. Curtin, E. Hewitt, J. Baker
U19s: J. Stretch 3, J. Amiss 3, J. Williams 2, A. Sheldrick 2, K. Dittmar 2, J. van Rooyen, M. Johnson, L. Polson, E. Regan, K. Harbour

BEST:

U17s: E. Hewitt, S. Gilbey, D. Jones, E. Allan, D. Curtin, J. Cleaver
U19s: K. Dittmar, M. Johnson, E. Regan, J. Stretch, J. Tunstill, A. Sheldrick

WA UNDER 17s (YELLOW):

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Darcy Jones (Swan Districts)
3/04/2004 | 173cm/60kg | Midfielder

Jones didn’t play against South Australia in West Australia’s first 17s hitout, but proved he would have been a handy edition to the side as the creative small midfielder showed plenty with his clean hands and ability to find the football despite his size. Obvious comparisons could be made with Bulldogs star Caleb Daniel, who is another helmet wearing little star, although Jones’ disposal wasn’t to that high level. He still won plenty of the ball inside and outside the contest, and looked composed and clean when in possession.

#9 Elijah Hewett (Swan Districts)
27/05/2004 | 182cm/80kg | Midfielder

A tough customer and arguably best on ground for the 17s side, Hewett was a contested beast in the midfield, winning plenty of hard ball and releasing his runners well. Playing against some very solidly built midfielders in the 19s side, Hewett more than held his own in terms of contested ball winning and skill. He was a tough player to take down with his agility and ability to fend off with ease, and was rewarded with a lovely running goal after escaping congestion to dish off before working hard to get on the end of it and kick a long bomb from 50m in the third quarter. The solid midfielder continues to show he is one of the better midfield prospects for Western Australia in the 2022 draft.

#14 Sam Gilbey (Claremont)
14/05/2004 | 185cm/67kg | Defender

The smooth moving left-footed defender draws comparisons to a former Essendon star in Adam Ramanauskas, with his speed and agility to go with his class and skill by foot, making him one of the leading defensive prospects for the 2022 draft. Gilbey took a little bit of time to get into the game but once he did he got to show his quality, with his kicking and athleticism from the back half really catching the eye both offensively and defensively. A great run through the middle taking a bounce in the last quarter highlighted why he is such an exciting young talent, with the dangerous combination of speed and class.

#20 Jack Cleaver (East Fremantle)
22/05/2004 | 187cm/83kg | Midfielder

The tough left-footed midfielder has leadership written all over him and with his stronger body and smarts, he has shown over a few games now that he could play a range of positions. Cleaver didn’t get a huge amount of the ball but still showed plenty of his better traits with some nice bodywork and clean hands at stoppages, and an impressive mark in the second quarter which showed his strength overhead. Cleaver has proven to be one of WA’s leading draft prospects this season and will certainly feature again when the 17s championships continue later in the year.

#25 Edward Allan (Claremont)
26/05/2004 | 191cm/77kg | Wing

Missing the first game against South Australia like Jones, Allan showed he could have been a handy addition himself by winning plenty of the ball on the wing and proving to be a great link up option with his smarts and skills. A taller wingman at 191cm, he showed he could use that height to advantage, taking a very nice intercept mark down back in the first quarter to show he could work both ways as well. With solid skills and smarts, the Claremont prospect will look to stamp his place in the side when the championships conclude later in the year.

#30 Daniel Curtin (Claremont)
8/03/2005 | 190cm/86kg | Tall Defender/Forward

A standout in Western Australia’s first game of the Under 17 championships against South Australia, the medium sized key position player looked solid in his preferred role against the 19s down back in the first half, before getting a change of pace playing forward in the second half and showing some great versatility. It wasn’t the standout game like his first for the 17s, but he still managed to show his when class kicking a goal up forward. Although laconic in his approach, he was composed and strong with ball in hand and showed great bodywork against the bigger 19s key defenders.

WA UNDER 19s (BLACK):

By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Jed Hagan (East Fremantle)
15/10/2004 | 174cm/71kg | Small Defender

The sole bottom-ager afield for the Under 19s, Hagan proved once again he is up to the level with an assured game from defence. While capable of rolling through midfield, the East Fremantle product took a back seat to allow draft eligible prospects to shine, but performed his role well. Hagan’s clean skills played perfectly into his side’s style, with his short kicking game seeing the Under 19s transition efficiently. He was even entrusted with the kick-in duties, which he looked comfortable with.

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)
7/11/2003 | 179cm/88kg | Inside Midfielder/Forward

Rotating between the midfield and forwardline, Sheldrick played a key hand in his side’s midfield domination in the first half. The strong bodied ball winner wasn’t afraid to bustle through traffic and got his hands dirty at the contest, doing his best to break clear with little room to move. The second quarter was his best, as Sheldrick worked his opponent over to repeatedly get loose inside 50 and boot two goals. Both came via set shots, and Sheldrick even showcased some solid overhead marking on a couple of occasions later on.

#8 Jahmal Stretch (Claremont)
16/01/2003 | 181cm/62kg | Small Forward

A raw and exciting small forward, Stretch provided some spark for the Under 19s with his pace and pressure. He was gifted a good start by Jacob van Rooyen, who cut off an errant kick-in and handed him a goal over the top, but Stretch crafted his own chances as the game wore on. The Claremont talent took a nice two-grab mark at full stretch in the second term to convert another major, before adding a third in the following period from the same method. Stretch hit the post with a dribbler and put a couple more shots out on the full, but was certainly amongst the action inside 50. He capped his game with a spring-heeled fly and mark from the back just before the final siren.

#19 Kade Dittmar (East Perth)
14/01/2003 | 185cm/86kg | Inside Midfielder

Arguably the best player afield, Dittmar brought his bash-and-crash style to the midfield battle, but also added some more refined work in his disposal going forward. As expected of the big-bodied East Perth ball winner, he used his strength over the ball and burst out of packs at will, proving difficult to combat on the inside. He spread forward nicely too, breaking inside 50 to take a mark and goal in the first quarter, before bombing a long goal from the arc in term four. Dittmar also had a hand in multiple other goals, steadying to spear passes forward, hitting targets cleanly to really balance his game.

#20 James Tunstill (East Perth) 
18/07/2003 | 185cm/76kg | Midfielder

Waxing with East Perth teammate Dittmar in midfield, Tunstill found plenty of possessions and impressed with his ability to burst onto the outer. His turn of speed was a key feature while getting first hands to the ball, as Tunstill broke tackles and move the ball on effectively from the engine room. With the likes of Neil Erasmus and Josh Browne still to return for WA, Tunstill is one who may have just caused selectors the right kind of selection headache.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)
16/03/2003 | 192cm/82kg | Midfielder

Johnson showed his class on Saturday and was the most polished player afield, looking smooth as ever in midfield. The first round prospect benefitted from others’ hard work at the coalface, proving a point of difference with his cleanliness and poise in possession. He often propped in traffic, drew opponents, and found teammates with aplomb by hand, seemingly unfazed by oncoming pressure. His kicking was also terrific, making for a really well-rounded game in the middle. Johnson hit the scoreboard too by taking a clean half-volley and snapping the ball home during term two.

#25 Ethan Regan (East Perth)
9/04/2003 | 189cm/80kg | Forward

The West Coast NGA talent enjoyed a few really promising purple patches, where he looked dangerous as the Under 19s headed into attack. One of Regan’s first acts was a crucial mark in the corridor, showcasing his explosiveness and aerial ability to make a risky kick look good. That same leap and reach was on show in a couple more instances, and while he was often an effective link inside 50, Regan also got forward himself for some chances on goal. He ended with just one major, from a set shot in the third quarter.

#29 Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont)
16/04/2003 | 193cm/91kg | Key Forward/Defender

On what ended up being an indifferent day for van Rooyen, he spent the first half up forward before behind shifted to defence. After handing one off, missing a sitter from the open goalsquare and spurning a set shot, the Claremont key forward got on the board in term two having used his body well in a marking contest. van Rooyen’s second efforts and ability to break tackles translated well in defence, as he had a couple of tough one-on-one moments but recovered to apply pressure and help relieve any danger.

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg | Key Forward

Amiss simply doesn’t miss out and that was no different on Saturday, as the WAFL Colts leading goalkicker snared three majors for the Under 19s. All three of them came after half time, as Amiss benefitted from a personnel shift in the front six. He showcased his improving ground level game with a good crumb and snap in term three, before getting on the lead for another major in the same quarter. While most of his best work was done inside attacking 50, Amiss also took a couple of strong grabs presenting further afield. He looks a lock for WA’s starting forwardline.

#32 Luke Polson (Peel Thunder)
10/04/2003 | 196cm/94kg | Key Defender/Forward

Another tall who spent time at both ends of the ground, Polson earned another big tick for his versatility. He started in defence and displayed great mobility, enjoying his time in possession and looking to make things happen in transition. While that led to a few odd decisions in his disposal, Polson carried the ball well and stood up strongly in tackles. When shifted forward, he used that same strength when presenting as a leading target up the ground. The Peel Thunder prospect also slotted a nice goal on the fly during term three to further prove his dynamism.

#36 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts)
17/10/2003 | 195cm/79kg | Key Defender

While not an overly prolific outing for Bazzo, the Swan Districts swingman was able to bring forward some of his best traits in defence. He looked composed on the ball and distributed it nicely by foot, choosing the right options when there was nothing to kick to down the line. He also rose for a couple of nice intercepts across the defensive 50, but generally did not have too much to do down back with the Under 19s dominant for large stints of the game.

#43 Jack Williams (East Fremantle)
1/12/2003 | 194cm/95kg | Key Forward/Ruck

Williams looked ominous early as he snagged two goals in the opening term, coming from a mixed bag of opportunities. The standout East Fremantle tall used his size and reach in aerial contests and followed up well on a few instances, but was caught out for a lack of speed in others. He also pinch-hit in the ruck and was solid with his bodywork, but arguably looked more productive in attack. Williams could have finished with a couple more majors if not for inaccuracy, missing a pair of long set shots in the final term with a heavy ball.

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: 2021 South Australia Under 19 trials

SOUTH Australia’s best available Under 19 talent went head-to-head on Friday night, contending with shocking weather to stake their claims for representative honours. A stronger Team Yellow handily beat its Team Blue counterpart, 8.7 (55) to 2.8 (20), though the result was an afterthought with state squad spots up for grabs.

First round prospects Jason Horne (League), Matthew Roberts, Arlo Draper, and Cooper Murley (all injured) were among those unavailable, but there were still some handy standouts who showed their class on a tough night for clean footy. We highlight them below in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

TEAM YELLOW 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 (55)
TEAM BLUE 0.1 | 0.4 | 0.6 | 2.8 (20)

GOALS:

Yellow: I. Dudley 2, M. Ferres 2, J. Lukac, W. Spain, Z. Phillips, M. Liddy
Blue: D. McDonald, H. Kittel

BEST:

Yellow: N. Wanganeen, B. O’Loughlin, M. Liddy, I. Dudley, J. Burgoyne, H. Jackson
Blue: L. Whitlum, B. Thomson, M. Dnistriansky, C. Horsnell, D. McDonald, Z. Dumesny

TEAM YELLOW:

By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Isaiah Dudley (Central District)
30/04/2003 | 166cm/69kg | Small Forward/Midfielder

Wet conditions typically suit those low to the ground and Dudley, the smallest player afield at 166cm, took toll. The Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) product was crafty in his small forward post, proving near-impossible to monitor on the lead with his clever runs and deft bodywork. He kicked the only goal of the second term, edging the heavy ball home from a set shot, before adding another in the third. Dudley also got a late run in midfield and showcased slick skills, but looked most dangerous inside 50 when Team Yellow entered on a fast break.

#4 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide)
11/01/2003 | 171cm/74kg | Small Defender/Midfielder

Another of the crafty smalls for Team Yellow, O’Loughlin took up his usual position down back but also rotated nicely through midfield. He helped form a high line behind the ball, pushing up aggressively to force turnovers at ground level and thrust his side into attack with a sharp kicking game. The Adelaide NGA hopeful was particularly prominent in term four, as he found the ball in more space around the ground and hit some nice targets on the move.

#8 Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)
3/05/2003 | 181cm/70kg | Midfielder

Usually a consistent ball winner, Jackson proved as much once again as a staple in the Team Yellow midfield. He often took up the anchor spot at the back of centre bounces and read the flow of play beautifully to receive first hands on the outer. With a burst of speed, Jackson would then wheel around and carry the ball forward on his left side, but was sometimes let down by his kicking in the tough conditions. The North Adelaide midfielder also had a shot on goal in term one, seeing his attempt pushed wide as he was squeezed for space while kicking.

#12 Lachlan Grubb (Central District)
7/12/2002 | 177cm/75kg | Small Forward

One of six 19th year prospects afield for Team Yellow, Grubb warmed to the contest well and got quite busy in the front half after quarter time. Starting forward, the Centrals speedster pushed up the ground before looking to use his pace when carrying back towards goal. He proved threatening in those quick passages and even had a couple of set shot chances on goal, which he couldn’t quite convert with the heavy ball.

#14 Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)
14/01/2003 | 183cm/69kg | Wing/Half-Back

While not his most prolific performance, Rayson was still able to showcase some of his value in a variety of roles. Stationed behind the ball and on both sides of midfield, the Glenelg prospect ran hard and provided nice drive with his speed and equally quick ball movement. He lurked on the outer and looked to either receive or work into space around the ground, where he typically does his best work in transition.

#16 Jase Burgoyne (WWT Eagles)
15/07/2003 | 186cm/65kg | Defender/Midfielder

The lightly-built Port Adelaide father-son prospect was one of the best players afield before half time, racking up plenty of ball as he waxed between midfield and defence. Burgoyne, whose champion uncle is aptly nicknamed ‘Silk’, showed some of that exact trait with his sharp baulks and poise in possession. He found his way out of tough spots with class, propping in traffic before distributing cleanly by foot. He accumulated many of his touches across the backline in term two, but saw the play head back his way many times with clean ball movement difficult to generate.

#22 Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)
22/2/2003 | 188cm/70kg | Wing

Another talent with famous names to carry, Wanganeen-Milera is blazing his own trail. He looked the most polished player afield amid heavy rain and wind, making the wing his own and operating nicely between the arcs. The recent Glenelg League debutant proved threatening with his classy ball use going forward, making terrific decisions under pressure and finding ways to hit targets inside 50. While not always leaning on his speed, Milera played the conditions well with more agile shifts and can be damaging either way on the outer.

#26 Mani Liddy (Sturt)
20/02/2002 | 183cm/80kg | Inside Midfielder

Liddy staked his claim for best afield honours, and could well have been through sheer output across the four quarters. The 19-year-old Sturt midfielder was a mainstay at the contest, using his mature frame to burrow in over the ball and bustle out of stoppages. He used his strength in those instances and was quite effective in both his decision making and use by hand, while still looking to develop his kicking and outside run. Liddy capped off his effort with a goal on the run in term three, taking the advantage and steadying nicely inside 50.

TEAM BLUE:

By: Declan Reeve

#7 Brock Thomson (WWT Eagles)
20/02/2003 | 178cm/64kg | Small Defender/Midfielder

Involved throughout the defensive half, Thomson did his best to impact contests and stop incoming opposition attacks as they flew in. Had a few crucial moments early on, taking a couple of intercept marks in the defensive 50 and kicking it out wide. It became evident pretty quickly that Thomson is able to get good distance behind his kicks, generally gaining 40 or 50 meters on each one, with a kick in during the second quarter where he took three steps and launched it to the centre square the best example of his penetration. 

#27 Matthew Dnistriansky (Norwood)
22/03/2003 | 187cm/75kg | General Defender

Looking like one of the standout performers from the Blue side, Dnistriansky was seemingly involved in everything in the backline, mixing his intercept marking and kicking ability to cause constant headaches for the Yellow forwardline. He took his time to work into things but once he stuck his first mark he was always present. The Norwood prospect looked to kick the ball wide when he had possession and there weren’t any options up the ground, but wasn’t afraid to take trickier kicks further up the field to try and create something offensively, in a game where those opportunities didn’t come about too often. He pushed up the ground as the game went on and started taking marks on the wing to send the ball long inside 50.

#29 Luca Whitlum (Central District)
16/07/2003 | 188cm/77kg | Midfielder/Utility

Whitlum was sighted everywhere through the game, impacting in all thirds of the ground. He looked his best in the thick of the contest, able to throw his weight around and knock others off balance to win the ball, or apply high pressure on opposition ball winners to force stoppages. It was the story of his game early on, unable to really stick tackles but pushing opponents into tricky spots, but as he worked into the game he started sticking them more. Whitlum generally used the ball well by foot, taking safer options when they were presented.

Image Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 13 – East Fremantle vs. Peel Thunder

PEEL Thunder pulled off a memorable upset over East Fremantle on Saturday morning, coming from behind at each break to snatch victory within the last 90 seconds, 9.8 (62) to 7.16 (58).

The inaccurate Sharks were made to pay for their inability to shut the door on Peel, with their early control of the territory, midfield and scoring shot domination counting for little as they fell behind at the last hurdle.

16-year-old Koen Sanchez had the chance to win back the points for East Freo with a flying shot in the last 30 seconds, but pulled it wide to seal the result in soggy conditions at New Choice Homes Park.

We take a look at a few of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes, and go around the grounds with some of the other outstanding Colts performances out of Round 13.

SCOUTING NOTES

East Fremantle 7.16 (58) def. by Peel Thunder 9.8 (62)

East Fremantle:

#2 Koen Sanchez

The 2005-born talent is an exciting prospect for the future, and started brightly in his latest WAFL Colts outing. Sanchez was stationed out on the wing and provided really good drive between the arcs, running hard and proving a quick thinker in possession. He unfortunately put wide a game-winning opportunity in the last 30 seconds, but it was a decent effort on the fly from the 16-year-old.

#4 Jed Hagan

Hagan was another who started well, contributing the first two scores of the game – albeit both behinds. As a permanent fixture in midfield, the bottom-ager was wonderfully clean below his knees and clever at the contest, able to win the ball at will and draw free kicks under pressure. He again found plenty of the ball with 26 disposals, working to all areas of the ground with smooth movement and slick ball use. Looks a dead ringer for recent North Melbourne draftee, Will Phillips.

#6 Josh Browne

As he so often does, Browne finished Saturday’s game as the clear leading ball winner, racking up 33 disposals and looking particularly ominous in the first half. He was the go-to midfielder at stoppages, often able to get first hands on the ball and move it on cleanly by hand. His quick clearing kicks were less effective and not quite penetrative, but Browne consistently got his hands on the ball and corrected some of those deficiencies. After spurning a set shot opportunity in term two, he straightened up to slot one home in the following quarter.

#7 Judd McVee

One of the more polished players afield, McVee was able to display his smooth movement on the rebound off half-back. He positioned well to intercept across the backline, before distributing nicely by foot. His composure on the ball pointed towards great class, and there were a couple of instances where McVee spun out of tight spots or sold candy to keep the play moving fluently.

#8 Taj Woewodin

The Melbourne father-son hopeful was another of East Fremantle’s prolific ball winners, providing good drive out of the engine room. He often received the ball facing forward, or had momentum going that way, which he continued with his carry and capped off with clean kicks. He began to find more of the ball away from the contest after half time and snuck forward to drill through a terrific goal in the final term.

#19 Richard Bartlett

In his first WAFL Colts outing for the season, Bartlett showed some promise and class in the front half. The Fremantle NGA prospect has slick hands and a punchy kind of kick, which he used to get creative at half-forward. He presented well and took a couple of clean overhead marks, but mostly caught the eye with his goal at the start of the fourth term. He had also kicked one in the second quarter but missed another late set shot chance and even gave a couple off.

#22 Jack Cleaver

14 disposals and six marks do not quite do justice to the mark Cleaver made at half-back, with his no-frills kind of approach proving important in the defensive half. The solidly built bottom-ager was exactly that – solid – as he saw most of his possessions on the defensive side of the corridor where he looked to distribute with short kicks. While there was nothing spectacular about his game, Cleaver played his role well and was handy in most departments.

#25 Jack Williams

Spending more time in the ruck than usual, Williams had his work cut out for him but still managed to put up good numbers with 17 disposals, five marks, 18 hitouts and 1.2 on the scoreboard. The versatile tall prospect was shrewd with his ruck bodywork and just as clever in his ability to peel off after initial forward marking contests. He showed this on two occasions, with both breaks leading to set shot opportunities and the first resulting in a goal. He was typically assured in the air, but could be a touch stronger when bodied in contests.

Peel Thunder:

#7 Byron Finch

Finch popped up to be one of Peel’s best midfielders in crucial moments, including a couple of centre bounce breaks during term four. He also came up clutch with the game-winning goal with 90 seconds left on the clock, winning a free kick inside 50 before coolly converting. With crafty movement and foot skills, Finch impacted both at the fall of the ball and coming away from the contest.

#8 Brady Hough

Hough spent plenty of time forward before shifting back into midfield, proving another who stood up in the tough moments. He provided Jackson Klepzig with the game’s first goal, breaking over the back in transition and kicking long inside 50. He really started to get going after half time, helping Peel shift into attack with positive forward carry. The state Under 19 squad member lifted his urgency late on, breaking tackles and looking to move inside 50 quickly.

#23 Luke Polson

The mobile tall again rotated into the ruck from his key forward post, moving well in both roles and taking the game on with vigour for a player of his stature. Polson looked ominous in the early-goings with a solid mark and shot on goal, but popped up for more moment- type plays as the game wore on. He was not afraid to back his athleticism to burn opponents or move through traffic, and his effort to break multiple tackles led to Blake Offer’s important fourth term goal.

#24 Blake Offer

Offer was the most effective key forward afield in terms of scoreboard impact, booting a game-high three goals with each of them coming in different terms. He got on the board with two set shots in the opening half, and snapped a clutch goal in the final quarter to help draw Peel back within two goals. His clean finishing proved key to the Thunder’s comeback victory as East Fremantle faltered.

#28 Jackson Broadbent

The bottom-aged tall showed some nice signs throughout the match, using his height advantage well in the ruck and hitting to dangerous zones at stoppages. He won a game-high 24 hitouts, competing plenty against highly touted Sharks prospect, Jack Williams. Broadbent only notched eight disposals and spend a good amount of time forward, but did his best work in the ruck.

#30 Jarrad McIlvinney

Another of Peel’s state Under 19 squad members, McIlvinney was strong in his usual defensive post and did most of his best work aerially. He took four marks for the day, winning one-on-ones inside defensive 50 and using his reach to advantage to pluck the ball at high points.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Subiaco earned a thumping 70-point win over Perth to open the round, with leading Lions prospect Matthew Johnson notching 28 disposals, nine marks, 10 tackles and a goal. Jed Kemp (33 disposals) was also prominent, while Jacob Evitt (23 disposals, two goals) and Ezekiel Bolton (22 and three) found plenty of the ball and the goals.

East Perth’s push for top spot continued with a 19-point win over West Perth on the road, spearheaded once again by rising prospect Jye Amiss. The prolific key forward booted four goals, while the likes of Kalani Brooks (27 disposals) and James Tunstill (19 disposals, two goals) were also productive. Falcons skipper Luke Reilly was his side’s leading ball winner with 23 touches, trailed by versatile tall Kane Bevan (20) as Darcy Dixon (19 disposals, two goals) and the returning Lochlan Paton (19 disposals, six tackles) also stood up.

Claremont were the other big winners in Round 14, trouncing South Fremantle to the tune of 68 points away from home. Small forward Jahmal Stretch booted four goals to prove his credentials as a state squad member, as ball winners Angus Sheldrick (28 disposals) and Talon Delacey (22, one goal) went to work. Caleb Stephens was again prolific for the Bulldogs, winning a game-high 29 touches and snagging a goal.

A few Colts guns were also sighted at League level, headlined by the debut of East Fremantle midfielder Corey Warner. The brother of Chad managed 14 disposals and five marks in his maiden outing, making for a solid start to his senior career. Claremont forward Jacob Van Rooyen made another appearance as the Tigers lost to South Fremantle by a point, while Fremantle NGA prospect Jesse Motlop kicked a goal for the Bulldogs’ Reserves.

Big-bodied East Perth midfielder Kade Dittmar was also sighted in the seconds, collecting 29 disposals and laying five tackles as the Royals downed West Perth.

Image Credit: Phil Elliott/Justin Elliott (Pixell Photography) via East Fremantle Football Club

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 12

WITH Victoria’s most highly touted top-agers recouping on the back of representative action, it was time for bottom-aged prospects to shine in the NAB League. A raft of fresh faces shot on the scene for their respective regions across the six-game weekend, supporting a wealth of usual suspects who continue to perform well. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 12 snapshot

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 (14) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 11.12 (78)

By: Eli Duxson

Calder Cannons:

#8 Paul Pascu

It was the 16-year-old’s third game of the season and arguably his best in the heavy defeat he and his side suffered. Pascu found the footy mostly exiting defensive 50 in which Sandringham provided plenty of opportunities for recording three rebound 50’s. His follow up work was impressive as he continued to try and assist with the link between the arcs, but was missed on multiple occasions when he was free in the corridor with poor kicks. When found, he looked composed with ball in hand and even managed three inside 50s on the day. He worked hard defensively laying eight tackles and looked comfortable in contested situations despite playing against more mature frames.

#26 Matthew Gook

A tough assignment coming up against AFL-listed Max Heath in the ruck, but he provided a contest all day and showed promising signs in open play. At 201cm he looked quite mobile and long which assisted with a couple of nice pick ups below the knees, as well as a nice mark in the second quarter. His decision making was a little on the slow side but there were some positives. In the ruck he got out-bodied by the stronger frames, but he did not stop competing.

Sandringham Dragons:

#1 Harry Sheezel

The Vic Metro Under 17s squad member showed genuine class and composure all game playing mostly out of the forwardline, where he kicked 3.3 from 21 disposals to go with six marks. His first goal came on the run from 40 metres taking advantage from a free kick with the result never in doubt, while his second came from a well-judged mark in the goal square. His third was after earning a free kick for holding the ball where he drilled the set shot. He looked dangerous running back at goal with or without the ball, managing five inside 50s, while his pressure made him look even more so, laying six tackles for the game.

#5 Lachlan Benton

Dominated around the stoppages all game, looking very comfortable in traffic as he accumulated 28 disposals and five inside 50s. He has had a strong season to date, but this performance has typified a solid three-week stretch for Benton as he looks to increase his standard and consistency. Benton’s clearance work was impressive, showing good acceleration into space as well as positional awareness with the dominating ruckmen. He moved well around the ground getting back into defence, as well as hitting contests forward of centre to crumb. An intercept mark and hit inside 50 early in the game set the tone for his day.

#13 Luca Macnab

The dashing rebounding defender was amongst it all game but slowly moved his positioning forward as the game wore on with his side’s ascendency on the play. He and his lovely left boot were streaming off half back early where he showed a good balance of composure and aggression, notably hitting a short target to slow down a frantic play in the second quarter while also penetrating further out of defensive 50 on another occasion. A pair of beautiful hits inside 50 highlighted his ability to deliver forward as his team maintained territory for much of the game. Macnab finished with 25 disposals (season-high), six marks, and six inside 50s.

#52 Luke Nankervis

Playing as a high half-forward for much of the day, Nankervis was often the link player for the Dragons between the arcs using his 189cm frame and his athleticism to provide a threat both in the air and on the ground. He also spent time at stoppages but looked his best in open space in one-on-one situations. He took six marks for the game and his 18 disposals were mostly efficient, showing a propensity for either side of his body. His pressure game as a forward and around stoppages was just as good, laying a whopping 12 tackles despite his side’s control of the game.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Vibrancy for the whole game from Soylemez who maintained his consistency in front of goals with 3.1 from 14 disposals and seven marks. He kicked the first goal of the game marking inside 50 and drilling the set shot. He looked to lead at the ball carrier and often a kick outside the forward 50, using his trusty left boot to deliver inside 50 which he did on three occasions. His second goal came from a contested mark on the behind line which he snapped through truly, while his third was another snap but this time out of nothing, showing a brilliant goal sense. His ground ball gathers were clean and he moved smoothly with ball in hand all game.

#61 Max Heath

It was a super Saturday for St Kilda fans as they watched their side beat AFL premiership contenders Brisbane, while their newly drafted ruckman had a day out and showed why the Saints were eager to secure his services. His ruckwork was dominant as he often held a strong position to direct taps to teammates cleanly, while then also getting after it when the ball hit the deck. His work rate and tank allowed him to get back defensively and mark on multiple occasions. Heath had 21 disposals and 26 hitouts, but it was his two goals and eight marks as a forward that was most exciting. He was able to create space on the lead and marked cleanly overhead at pace.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 12.8 (80) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 12.9 (81)

By: Eli Duxson

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

The mobile ruckman showed his versatility in all thirds after a strong second half almost helped propel his side to a memorable comeback win. Probably tied the ruck battle with Tasmania’s Tony Aganas but looked much more likely when play continued showing good speed and agility for his 198cm body. He started the second half with a couple of inside 50s before getting on the end of one of those kicks himself, and kicking a long set shot from 50 metres. Fitting the evolving mould of the mobile and capable ball-using ruckmen, Murray showed all the hallmarks of being a two-way runner and player finishing with 11 disposals, four marks, and 17 hitouts.

#8 Zavier Maher

A competitive beast who went hard at the contest all game, showing a strong ability to tackle effectively while also keeping his balance over the ball through contact. While being threatening without the ball, he was composed in tight and showed a good step. Maher also seemed intent on finding it in open space as well often spreading hard out of stoppages to either get to the fall of the next contest or be an option in the link. He finished with 17 disposals, seven tackles, and three inside 50s.

#51 Brayden George

The Under 17s Vic Country squad member led all comers with goals on the day booting four straight as he did his best to keep the Bushrangers in the contest. His first came from a free kick, drilling the 35-metre set shot, while his next two came back-to-back to start the second half and drag his side back in the game. He is a one-touch player who marks cleanly on hard leads and looks solid underneath the ball. His final goal came over the top in the goal square as he finished with 11 disposals and four marks.

Tasmania Devils:

#7 Will Splann

The focal point of the Devils forward line looked likely all day using his 195cm frame to mark reliably overhead, leading to him kicking a season-high three goals. Two of his goals came after marking on the lead and drilling the set shots, while his third came from a free kick in a marking contest. He is not a high-disposal forward as so few you are in the key position, but he showed he does not need many touches to be effective in front of goal. He took six marks in what was perhaps his most involved game this season.

#12 Jye Menzie

Menzie is also not a high possession winner but is damaging when he does find the ball as a half forward operator. His speed allows him to lose his opponent, especially when his side regains possession and he drifts into space, but his ball use is equally impressive. He lowers his eyes and makes good decisions, favouring to kick more than handball (nine kicks, two handballs). From his 11 disposals he had three shots on goal scoring 2.1 with his first being a lovely snap from the boundary.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55) def. GEELONG FALCONS 6.11 (47)

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#17 Jackson Bowne

Bowne provided plenty of spark from midfield for the Knights, utilising his speed to exit the contest and bring a rather scrappy game to the outer. He could be seen zipping out of traffic in all areas of the ground, penetrating the arcs a combined 10 times and taking nine marks as he worked to become an easy outlet. The top-ager also booted a goal in the second term and could have had a couple more with more polished finishing, but was quite productive nonetheless.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Clearly the best player afield, Trudgeon dominated as the biggest and strongest body at each stoppage. He was in the thick of things throughout and brought a hard physical presence, getting his hands dirty to win 35 disposals and lay 15 tackles. The imposing Knights skipper led from the front in a ball winning sense and was able to generate some scores with his disposal on the attack. He contributed at least three direct goal assists with kicks to teammates inside 50, while also adding a major of his own by converting a 50m set shot in the opening term. Trudgeon also rested forward and sought to find more green ball on the weekend, but looked most impactful with his work on the inside.

#23 Anthony Caminiti

The mobile tall forward returned another promising performance in Knights colours, showcasing his class as a leading target. Caminiti did his best work when let off the least further afield, where he would lead as high as the wing and help link Northern into attack. His reach was made more effective by generally clean hands and handy spurts of mobility with ball in hand, while that same pattern of movement allowed for ample separation on the lead. Caminiti couldn’t quite put through a couple of tough set shot chances, but snared a snap goal in the third quarter after marking deep on the behind line.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

A mainstay in the Knights’ defence, Fitzgerald was relentless in his pursuit to rebound out of the back half with run and a sound kicking game. His actions proved repetitive, but largely effective, as Fitzgerald hit short targets forward of the ball and constantly looked to move the play on quickly. He racked up 27 disposals (20 kicks) and six rebound 50s, while also displaying a solid marking game as he floated across to clunk a couple of intercepts among his eight overall grabs. With plenty of work to do, the 17-year-old stood tall.

Geelong Falcons:

#1 Will Baker

The crafty bottom-aged forward displayed some of his best traits on Saturday, popping up with little bursts of brilliance in the front half. While quite small at 176cm, Baker proved his toughness and won a bit of his own ball, either spinning out of trouble or leaning on his speed and agility to come away from congestion cleanly. He was able to roam further afield as the game wore on, finishing with 13 disposals to go with his second term goal.

#4 Gennaro Bove

Leading from the front, Bove took his extended midfield opportunity with both hands and was arguably Geelong’s best player on the day. He finished with a team-high 23 disposals along with five marks and six tackles, with three wayward behinds the only thing stopping his very good game from being a massive one. Starting on-ball, he showed typically clean hands and skills in-tight, before finding more possessions in space around the ground. He seemed to lift in the final term when Geelong needed a spark, but his valiant efforts at the source fell just short.

#11 Cooper Whyte

While it was a relatively quiet day by Whyte’s recent standards, he still managed to be a positive forward mover from midfield for the Falcons. Among his 13 disposals, the 18-year-old pumped forward seven inside 50s and looked his best when breaking into attack with speed – particularly in the first half. Whyte also showed good courage on a few seperate occasions; leaping up in the face of oncoming contact to spoil and mark in the corridor, allowing the Falcons to turn the ball over and manufacture bonus chances on goal.

WESTERN JETS 14.11 (95) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 10.7 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#6 Matthew Payne

The diminutive Western forward was really lively in exciting bursts, bringing his pace to the fore on the ball. He snared a nice goal in the opening term after attacking an aerial ball, before recovering first and snapping home the six points. He added two more in the second half, again showing good smarts and quick reactions to take his chances. Payne also broke the game open with a couple of chaining passages, burning forward and looking to get the ball back after dishing off.

#18 Nash Reynolds

A constant presence in midfield for Western, Reynolds looked to push his side forward with intent. He showed a nice step in traffic but was not afraid to cop contact when required, helping set the tone for his side at the source. Reynolds did not quite find the goals himself but provided that opportunity for others, including in the fourth term when he side-stepped the man on the mark and kicked long for Payne to crumb and finish.

#35 Liam Conway

Conway was mega for Western once again, seemingly popping up everywhere at times and boasting the statline to match that notion with 32 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s. When he wasn’t bustling the ball forward at stoppages, Conway positioned well to mark around the ground and was quite clean in his handling. The top-ager’s ball winning ability is proven, with this his third 30-plus disposal effort for the season.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

This was potentially Tsapatolis’ best outing yet, with the Geelong-listed ruckman able to showcase his ruck craft and improving work on the follow-up. At the centre bounces, he looked to tap to advantage instead of just hitting the ball, finding his rovers with some deft touches early on. He also fared well with a couple of strong grabs around the ground, while also getting low to make an impact at ground level and bombing forward a few clearances. He also managed a snap goal among his 21 disposals, and won 41 hitouts.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

Usually a productive line-breaker rotating forward from midfield, Gallagher was made to step up and become a more permanent fixture of Bendigo’s engine room. The pacey Pioneer ended the day as his side’s most prolific ball winner, notching 27 disposals and penetrating either arc a combined nine times. In a different style than usual, Gallagher won more ball in-close – rather than being released on the outer himself where his speed shines. He was still effective in those instances, using the ball well by foot heading inside 50.

#11 Cobi Maxted

In a monster effort, Maxted showcased every bit of his versatility on Sunday in a dynamic display. The Pioneers utility started at the centre bounces, but tended to shift forward in general play and got busy in both departments to finish with 25 disposals, nine marks and four goals. The top-ager used his big frame around the ball to stand up in and break tackles before disposing, but he looked arguably more damaging on hard forward spreads. Maxted snuck inside 50 for two goals during the first half, and provided a more permanent marking option there after the main break. His clean hands and strong presentation were key features during that time, and Maxted capped his day with another couple of majors in the fourth quarter.

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

The smooth-moving defender had a few quiet patches, but looked like opening up the game with his run-and-carry out of the backline at times. He looked stylish in possession and timed his runs well to be released on the outer, sending Bendigo forward in transition with his foot skills and willingness to take on opponents. Faulkhead also got a run in midfield during the fourth quarter.

#29 Cooper Smith

Smith was another of Bendigo’s positive forward movers, as he constantly looked to weaponise his kicks and carry the ball towards goal with intent. The top-ager broke tackles, made repeat running efforts and hit targets in the front half, operating nicely on the outer and pushing into advanced areas. He dropped back a touch more in the second half, helping distribute out of defence and doing some of the tough stuff when called upon.

GIPPSLAND POWER 7.6 (48) def. by EASTERN RANGES 11.12 (78)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Gippsland’s best player on the day, Moschetti again looked his side’s most polished player in possession. The classy left-footer showed good poise on the ball and worked it into space before delivering sharp kicks forward. As the game wore on, he began to manufacture more time and space, linking play on the outer and generating valuable momentum as Gippsland attacked. Moschetti ended with a game-high 30 disposals and five marks from midfield, including a couple of handy goal assists.

#9 Will Papley

In his usual midfield-forward rotation, Papley was a productive and versatile member of the Gippsland set-up. He started at the centre bounces and used his burst of speed to break forward, often getting to the front of the stoppage and streaming inside forward 50. When stationed forward, he initially presented as a lead-up kind of option in a role which defied his size, before getting busy closer to goal with that typical mix of speed and smarts. Papley got on the board early, smothering on the mark before finishing beautifully from range, while adding a second major in the third term with a snap from the pocket.

#28 Zane Duursma

The 2005-born prospect already looks comfortable alongside players as many as four years his senior, and proved as much with some time in the midfield on Sunday. Duursma started brightly but missed a 45m set shot in the opening term, before getting back into the game with some handy work in term three. He displayed good courage to protect the drop zone under a high ball and mark inside 50, before converting a classy snap goal and going on to show sharp skills when running through midfield.

Eastern Ranges:

#3 Jake Arundell

Arundell was at his crafty best on Sunday, stationed forward and contributing plenty both inside 50 and up the ground. He consistently showed high level smarts and evasion, while a zippy turn of speed saw him gain considerable separation on the lead time and time again. The diminutive top-ager worked beautifully in tandem with under-ager Nick Watson, as the two found each other inside 50 on multiple occasions. Arundell snared three goals from five scoring shots, while also twice turning provider in a balanced effort, where he brought others into the game and was a constant threat in the front half. No Gippsland defender could go with him.

#8 Nick Watson

The other half of Eastern’s dangerous small forward pairing, Watson also went about getting busy both up the ground and closer to goal. After missing a couple of chances in the first term, Watson straightened up to convert two majors in the following period and all three of his goals for the day came via set shots. The 2005-born talent defied his size as a viable leading option, leaning on his high footy IQ to also get to handy spots when the ball hit the deck. Watson fulfilled his usual small forward duties with smothering pressure acts and tackling efforts, making for a well-rounded performance.

#35 Max Hall

With some of Eastern’s prime midfield movers unavailable in recent weeks, Hall has consistently stood up as a reliable inside ball winner. He had no trouble finding the ball at the coalface, digging in and proving strong over the ground ball before looking to bullock his way out of tackles. While he tended to bomb kick out of the contest, Hall showed he could lower his eyes when afforded more time and even put through a well-hit set shot in the first quarter. Away from the stoppages, the top-ager worked hard around the ground and his final statline of 29 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s was exemplary of that.

#58 Kai Windsor

Windsor showed plenty during his stint in the Vic Metro Under 17 squad, and carried his form back into the NAB League on Sunday. Playing mostly in the forward half before shifting into the midfield, Windsor was an apt carrier of the ball forward and seemed to enjoy operating in time and space. The bottom-ager was also able to show his skills at time, including on one instance in the second quarter where he provided a goal assist for Arundell as he streamed forward.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.8 (56) def. by OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 15.7 (97)

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

The St Kilda NGA prospect yet again displayed some eye-catching athletic traits throughout the contest, where he was, at times, played as the deepest forward target for the Stingrays. He looked at his most dangerous when he was able to run onto a free ball, with his pace and clean pick ups from ground level giving him the tools to make the most of those opportunities and keep the ball going quickly, with one moment in the first quarter highlighting this best when he got free, side stepped an opponent and pinpointed a kick inside 50 where his teammate didn’t have to move to hold onto the mark. Ended the day with one goal, where he ran onto a kick over the top of his head and snapped the goal whilst being brought to ground. Despite what the stat sheet may say, he created plenty of scoring opportunities for Dandenong with his plays in the forward half causing headaches for the Chargers defence.

#4 Jaxon Binns

The Under 17 Vic Country representative demonstrated exactly why he was selected in that side in his NAB League debut, looking like Dandenong’s best player early on, showing off high work rate and running capacity on the wing. Was far more inclined to kick than handball when he was disposing of the ball, where he regularly got good penetration and showed good technique with his kicking but sometimes lacked the accuracy to make it truly damaging. Positioned well to get the releasing handball from inside winners, able to beat most opponents in one-on-ones foot races. Kicked an impressive goal in the first, winning the ball off the ground in the forward pocket and snapping it through in the first. Unfortunately had his day cut short after suffering a suspected knee injury. 

#35 Finn Jakstas

Looking composed with ball in and well positioned in the defensive half, Jakstas did some underrated one-percenter acts throughout the game that either stopped certain Oakleigh goals or got Dandenong the upper hand in moving the footy. Whether it was tapping the ball in front of a running teammate, laying a smother in the middle of the ground or spoiling a ball in a two-on-one, he was able to impact plays well to win them for Dandenong. Looked strong overhead as well in the defensive 50, following up with clean ball use to teammates. 

#42 James Cahill

Playing essentially exclusively as a rover for the game, Cahill looked particularly good when collecting the ball off the ground, looking clean even when under pressure. Fed well to receivers via hand when the option was there, never just throwing the ball onto his hand or foot if there wasn’t a teammate ready to get it. Worked hard to follow up and get the ball back as well when he could, with one moment in the first quarter demonstrating this best, inside defensive 50 where he handballed to a teammate, got it back, handed it off again, then got it back and kicked long to a leading teammate. He was composed through most of the game, having moments where he just picked out an option through congestion that not many would’ve found, or had the confidence to try and take. His ability to spread from a contest or stoppage was also a highlight, able to burst away from these situations and spot up teammates to get Dandenong moving forward. 

 #47 Henry Hustwaite

Another Under 17s Vic Country representative, Hustwaite was stationed mostly on the wing, where he showed composure with ball in hand, even when caught in congested spots under pressure. His quick hands in close were on full display, keeping his hands free and firing them out to release runners from behind, or pinpointing a handball through traffic to teammate closer to the forward 50. Didn’t kick often but was composed and kicked with purpose when he chose to, finding targets laterally who were able to take space. 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Blake Drury 

In his first outing for Oakleigh at Under 19s level, Drury took no time at all to get involved and show why he was selected for the Vic Metro U17s side, winning plenty of ball around the midfield and forward half, using it well by hand to get the ball to teammates in better spots. Showed plenty of confidence with his movement with ball in hand, never biting off more than he could chew, but always willing to run the ball forward and get around opponents before getting rid of the ball. What was particularly impressive to see from his Under 17s Metro performances, was how much better his kicking looked at this level, regularly putting it in front of teammates inside 50 to run onto, and taking wider options when nothing presented up the line.

#17 Braden Andrews

The AFL Academy member was thrown about positionally again, spending time in all thirds of the ground and showing promise in each spot. In the first three quarters he split his time down back and through the midfield mostly, with his work around stoppages the highlight, picking up the ball from below his knees cleanly and firing out quick hands on the up as teammates moved for him. He looked composed with his kicking when given time in space to compose himself. When moved into the forwardline he got himself two goals in the final quarter, the first of which came from smart positioning in a marking contest, able to run onto the ball as it went over the top and kicking it straight through from the goal square. His second came after receiving a handball from a teammate he was running alongside going into 50 and slotting it from about 25 out. He paid this back later, after giving off a shot on goal despite being in range.

#33 Patrick Voss 

Continuing his impressive run of form in the backline, Voss looked more convincing, providing run from behind than he previously has, not afraid to take opponents on coming out of the defensive 50. This was highlighted best when he went for a run from the back 50 mark, taking two bounces along the way, as well as a give and go, then stiff arming an opponent and kicking the ball inside 50 to finish it off. That stiff arm wasn’t his only show of physicality, continuing his strong tackling that often rattled opponents whilst still being fair. He got himself a lot of marks by being a switch option in the back line, with Oakleigh looking to switch when it was on, but also got a couple of intercept marks showing his strength to push opponents out of the contest, with one being a good sign of courage, running 20 meters to mark a ball that was hacked out of a centre stoppage, with incoming front on pressure. Kicking was good with time to compose himself, but is a general area of improvement.

#57 George Wardlaw

With arguably the highest profile of any of the debutants from this game, the Under 17s Vic Metro representative was dominant from beginning to end with his inside game a clear standout across both sides. Regularly getting first possession around stoppages, Wardlaw commanded more and more attention around stoppages as the game went on to negate his effect from the midfield, where if given the slightest amount of space he’d get a handball away, having a few moments where he fired a pinpoint pass through congestion and past two or three opponents to release a runner on the other side of the contest. Managed to get good spread from stoppages when he was right in the thick of it, able to stay balanced and on his feet when copping contact, still managing to get the ball to a teammate. Wardlaw drew in some free kicks for high contact with how low he gets when picking the ball up and how fast he tries to straighten up. 

#79 Jack O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was yet another Oakleigh debutant, and a Vic Country Under 17s representative over the past two weeks. He showed himself to be a damaging pressure forward. Collected ground balls at speed well, following up with damaging ball use even if he didn’t have clear vision, putting the ball in danger spots in front of goal if he was under pressure. Looked dangerous with his leading, not always sticking marks but getting his hands to the ball. Ended the game with two goals and two behinds, although he set up a couple of goals that he could have easily gotten, showing a sense of selfless in his game and want to get teammates involved.

Image Credit: Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes | 2021 U19 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro came up trumps in the 2021 Under 19 National Championships opener against Vic Country, winning bragging rights at Windy Hill via a comprehensive 15.15 (105) to 7.7 (49) scoreline. From pick one contenders, to first round hopefuls and fast-rising talents, the current Victorian draft crop shone in its showcase game for the year. We highlight some of the top performances in our latest edition of Scouting Notes. Note, they are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Top 25 Ranked: July 2021 Power Rankings

VIC COUNTRY:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
16/09/2003 | 183cm/80kg | Inside Midfielder

Doing what he has always done well, Hobbs was a consistent first possession winner in and under packs and stoppages, pushing opponents out of the way to win the ball and fire it out via hand with deadly precision. Those quick hands were especially dangerous in the early stages of the game when the scores were close, where Hobbs could get hand to ball quickly to release runners. Whilst his kicking wasn’t at its best, when he had time to steady himself up he placed his kicks well and made good decisions. He demonstrated his usual high work rate, with a gut run from the defensive 50 mark to the forward 50 resulting in him getting a mark and converting in the third quarter. His marking was strong for the game as well, spreading wide to be a switch or inboard kick option.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
11/04/2003 | 180cm/78kg | Forward/Midfielder

It was a game of two halves for the mercurial forward, struggling to consistently impact the contest in the first half, admittedly with limited forward 50 entries, but moving up into the midfield in the second half and providing a spark for Country around stoppages. He still provided an option when in the forwardline, getting good separation on his leads even if he wasn’t always used by teammates. When he moved into the midfield, he immediately impacted as he started roaming down into the defensive 50 and making smart leads to help Country get further up the ground, following up with his own classy use by foot. He became the best option to receive a handball from first possession winners at stoppages quite often, bursting away and kicking long forward in the latter stages of the contest, and getting himself on the scoreboard.

#6 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)
13/01/2003 | 184cm/77kg | Midfielder

Forming quite the partnership through the midfield with Hobbs, Macdonald brought some of the same strengths through the midfield. His positioning around stoppages meant he was at the fall of the ball at times where his teammates weren’t, winning first possession and following up with a quick handball or kick out of the pack. Macdonald’s game sense also allowed him to be the receiver from the first possession winner pretty consistently, balancing his game around stoppages quite well and allowing his teammates to play to their strengths. He presented well as a shorter option around the ground, being used a few times as a short inboard kick option, then following up with a bomb down forward. His kicking was shaky early on but ended up improving by the end of the game, getting better distance and placement. He brought his usual high workrate around the stoppages as well, flicking out handballs midair and laying tackles in close.

#17 Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
23/01/2003 | 186cm/83kg | Defender/Wing

Whilst not necessarily winning a massive amount of ball, Molan was one of the harder workers for Country around the defensive half of the ground. Molan’s most notable play came as he ran from the back pocket to receive a switch kick on the wing, handballing to a teammate and continuing his run to then receive a kick over the top from the same teammate, before slotting Country’s second goal. It was a play which perfectly demonstrated the hard work he’s become renowned for. He worked hard to pressure opponents in the defensive half as well, laying some good tackles – one where his opponent tried to fend him off was particularly eye catching. Molan pushed up the ground more and more as the game wore on, using his skills by hand to set up some scoring opportunities around the top of the forward 50.

#18 Tom Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
30/07/2003 | 186cm/71kg | Defender

Brown was particularly impressive in the second half of the contest, winning more possession and showcasing his impressive leap to beat taller opponents in the air. That leap didn’t always get him a mark, but often got him high enough to get a fist in to stop taller Metro opponents like Sam Darcy from taking marks inside 50. When he was the extra number in a contest, he flew high and took intercept marks in front oncoming packs. He took kick-ins for most of the game, balancing it up between short options and running it out before kicking long, where he looked faster than the Metro forwards were able to match. His kicking was measured and generally placed to the advantage of teammates.

#21 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels)
04/04/2003 | 195cm/84kg | Tall Defender

Gibcus was a typically assured aerial presence in the Country defence, taking impressive intercept marks in contested and uncontested fashion. His confidence to push off his opponent and impact the ball higher up the ground meant he intercepted in areas where Country was a bigger chance to score in transition, rather than from deep in defence. His leap meant he could afford to concede some ground on his opponents, as he would jump and spoil the ball against any opponent afield without issue. His handballing in tight was especially impressive for a tall player, appearing to prefer to handball it off rather than kick and looking comfortable delivering it even through traffic. A lot of onlookers came wanting to see Gibcus play on Metro’s Sam Darcy, as two of Victoria’s highest ratted key position prospects, and they were treated to the match up in the final quarter where the pair competed in a few one-on-one contests. Gibcus arguably came out on top of the battle, spoiling a lot of the balls that came in and keeping Darcy quiet.

#28 Mitchell Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
8/01/2003 | 193cm | Midfielder

Whilst not winning a massive amount of the ball, Knevitt looked one of the most well rounded players on ground with his skillset, showcasing well weighted kicks, high contested marks, quick hands in tight, burst around stoppages, and spread around the ground. It was around stoppages and in the thick of congestion where he did his best work, winning first possession well and then feeding out a handball to release runners into space. His kicking was good when he had time to compose himself, placing them well in front of leading forwards or distributing out wide for his teammates, but he was prone to the odd hack kick forward out of the stoppages. 

#36 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays)
12/04/2003 | 200cm/70kg | Tall Forward/Ruck

Pushing himself up draft boards after another big game performance, Andrew showed a lot of eye catching traits throughout the contest. Starting up forward, early on Andrew wasn’t holding a lot of his marks due to the pressure, but would treat aerial contests almost as ruck situations in open play, tapping the ball straight down in front of teammates and putting them in dangerous spots inside 50. He kicked the opening goal of the contest after getting separation and taking a mark on his chest, slotting it from about 50 out. Andrew used the ball well through the game, handballing into the right spots and taking safer shorter kicks more often than long bombs, keeping Country in possession. He looked to be the best ruck on ground when rolling through there as well, placing taps well for his midfielders and having moments where he followed up his own taps and won the ball at ground level. The highlight from Andrew’s game was his aerial work around the ground however, demonstrating his positional awareness and athleticism with some high leap contested marks, plus the ability to quickly get separation when up forward. He took one of his most impressive marks when stationed up forward, where at full pace on the lead he was nudged from the side, but managed to hold his balance and juggle the ball with one hand to take the mark. So strong was his aerial work, that Metro started to double team him down the line in an effort to body his leap and nullify his impact.

VIC METRO:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)
25/02/2003 | 174cm/76kg | Small Utility

The Collingwood NGA prospect played his role well as a creative small forward. Having played in the backline and midfield at times for Oakleigh, Dib is also a dangerous forward which he showed early in the game, providing a lot of spark and looking dangerous whenever he was around the ball. His agility stood out along with his clean hands at ground level, but he showed he could win the hard ball as well, as in the second quarter when he won a free kick in the process of attacking the contested ball at pace. Although Dib didn’t hit the scoreboard, he still caused headaches for the Country defenders with his ability to impact and stay involved, playing a mostly high half-forward role.

#4 Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

The elusive Calder Cannons midfielder has been in fine form in recent weeks and that continued again against Country, as he offered plenty of skill and composure through the engine room. Taylor’s agility and vision were key features of his game, able to turn on a dime to evade tackles and find a teammate by foot on his left, or preferred right side. Although he leans more to the outside as a midfielder, it suits his style with his composure and skill by hand and foot. He could have added scoreboard impact to his game with a tough attempt on the run in the last quarter, but it was nonetheless a solid hitout for Taylor, finishing with 21 disposals.

#6 Josh Ward (Northern Knights)
15/08/2003 | 181cm/79kg | Midfielder

Its been an incredible month for the Northern Knights midfielder, with his recent form putting him amongst the better performed ball winners in this year’s draft class, and his game against Country only further enhanced his stocks as he returned another stellar performance. It was no surprise to see Ward named as captain of Vic Metro, with his consistency and reliability undoubtedly loved by both his coaches and teammates, and Ward showed his ability to run both ways while leading from the front. Clean with ball in hand around the ground and barely missing a target by hand or foot, Ward would go on to impact the scoreboard in the second half with two classy goals; one in the third quarter after spinning nicely and kicking from long range, and then in the last quarter from a standard shot on the run. With 29 disposals, eight clearances and two goals, this was one of Ward’s most complete games to date.

#9 Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg | Defender

Wilmot has made a reputation for himself as a courageous and team orientated player, and that was of course a staple of his game on Saturday. The Northern Knights defender started the game well, taking a nice courageous intercept mark in front of incoming players. That same marking ability was also apparent in a contest in the second quarter, winning a mark against highly fancied prospect Josh Rachele, who he kept well under wraps in the first half before moving off him. Second and third efforts were a feature of his second half, constantly going for marks and tackles and his willingness to go and go again often had him winning possession eventually. On the bench and on-field Wilmot was a supportive teammate, giving encouragement and showing he wasn’t just out there to prove his own wares, but try and lift the whole team’s performance which will certainly be noticed by recruiters.

#12 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers)
3/01/2003 | 183cm/72kg | Midfielder

Writing about Daicos this year has felt like déjà vu, you could almost copy and paste any write up from his performances this year and it would describe his game to a tee. It was a clinical display from the highly rated Collingwood father-son prospect, with the silky ball magnet a presence around the ground for all four quarters. His obvious class was highlighted early with handball over his shoulder, easy as you like, and it’s a typical play from Daicos as he seems to make football seem like a breeze whenever he gets possession. His ability to win the ball around the ground stems from his workrate to get to spots that any seasoned midfielder would get to, which stems from a pure ability to read the game. Daicos, as usual, hit the scoreboard with his first coming from a steady set shot goal in the second quarter, and in the last quarter with a classy crumb and snap on his non-preferred. Daicos finished the game with 41 disposals, six clearances and two goals in what was a clinical display, made all to easy for the highly rated prospect.

#16 Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)
7/01/2003 | 186cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder

Still on the comeback trail from injury, the Sandringham prospect wasn’t quite able to showcase his top line speed against Country, but it was another positive step with a more prolific game compared to previous weeks – before injury struck again with an ankle knock sustained in a marking contest during the last quarter. Sinn offered plenty of drive with his kicking from half-back and despite a poor kick to start, he was able to work on it and even kicked nicely on his non-preferred. Sinn was involved heavily in five minute spurts in the first and third quarters, using his ability to follow up his disposals and get meterage with his long left foot. It’s a shame for Sinn to get injured again and hopefully he gets a more sustained run at it soon.

#24 Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2/06/2003 | 190cm/79kg | Midfielder

The Calder Cannons prospect has had a rich vein of form and that continued again with the athletic midfielder improving his draft stocks once more with a strong game. Goater showed plenty of traits you want to see in a midfielder with his ability to escape congestion via a burst of speed or spin out of tackles. He showed great composure in those situations, which was highlighted in the second quarter as he rode a Ben Hobbs tackle, who is one of the toughest and strongest tacklers in this year’s draft crop. Standing at 190cm his ability to show off his athletic traits along with his obvious talent with ball in hand will make him a very sought after prospect come November in this year’s draft. Goater’s kicking was the one area that let him down at times but his run and carry on the outside and his composure and skill by hand from stoppages was impactful. It couldn’t be doubted that he was amongst the very best players on the day, finishing with 23 disposals.

#36 Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
19/08/2003 | 204cm/75kg | Tall Utility/Ruck

Although it wasn’t the same goal fest like his last outing, the Western Bulldogs father-son prospect still showed why he is considered one of the leading prospects in this year’s draft pool, as the tall key forward provided a great target for Vic Metro inside 50. It took until he second quarter for Darcy to hit the scoreboard, kicking a lovely snap goal on his left after taking a strong mark in the pocket. His second and final goal came in the following quarter after taking a strong contested mark just inside 50, converting the long range set shot. Although it wasn’t his most prolific game on the season, Darcy was a real threat in the air and his skill really stands out for a player standing at 204cm.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 11

A RAFT of draft eligible representative guns returned to the NAB League in Round 11, ensuring squads were stacked in one of the strongest weekends for talent so far this year. There were plenty of top showings across the six fixtures, as players stepped up across a generally competitive round – which featured three games decided by a goal or less. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 11 snapshot

CALDER CANNONS 8.5 (53) def. GEELONG FALCONS 7.8 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#5 Zac Taylor

It seemed Taylor was everywhere at times, with the small midfielder a consistent figure at each contest and a hard-worker around the ground. While Geelong applied decent pressure, Taylor often looked to back his pace and nearly always steadied before delivering by foot. That kind of trait made for better efficiency going forward, with the Calder midfielder very creative in possession. He also claimed the game’s first goal after launching a huge set shot from the arc in a tone-setting act.

#6 Flynn Lakey

Another constant in Calder’s midfield mix, Lakey continues to play an under-appreciated and selfless role for the Cannons. He was often the one digging in for first possession before dishing out to runners, bringing his teammates into the game with slick handballs. Even when accumulating away from the contest, Lakey did not bite off too much and continued to feed his runners, allowing Calder to flow forward. He defies his size in terms of toughness too, a factor observed as he laid a big hit on big-bodied Falcon, Mitch Knevitt.

#25 Josh Goater

Shifting from midfield to half-back, Goater was simply superb in a game which fully showcased his rare versatility. His clean hands have been evident within his midfield craft, but Goater transferred that same skill to be a reliable intercept marker in the backline. When in possession, he used the ball typically well by foot with precision passes and hardly wasted a touch. In motion, Goater leant on his athleticism with eye-catching turns of speed to weave through traffic and spark rebounding chains. He worked well with others too, starting one-two passages to move the ball down the field in style. The draft eligible talent did it all and was near-untouchable at times.

#30 Sam Paea

Paea was the dominant key forward afield and proved far too much for his opponents to contain across a five-goal game. He made good on two set shot chances in the opening term and never looked back, harnessing the confidence gained from his conversions to provide marking presence up the ground and get dangerous inside 50. Paea did not always clunk the ball cleanly overhead, but showed good athleticism in his follow-up work to snare two more goals. His fifth was a lovely snap from the boundary in the third quarter, capping a promising display from the developing tall.

Geelong Falcons:

#11 Cooper Whyte

While others had more of the ball, Whyte was one of the more productive midfielders out there on Saturday. He often got his legs pumping to exit the contest with speed and looked to break tackles, proving aggressive in his approach to driving Geelong forward. He hardly took a backwards step and defied his size to clunk overhead marks in important areas, before again generating that forward momentum and moving the ball on quickly.

#12 Noah Gribble

One of the league’s most consistent accumulators, Gribble racked up another 39 touches for the Falcons in his latest effort. He runs as hard as anyone at the level and leans on that work rate to find the ball at either end of the ground, while also following his disposals to get the ball back and go again. Gribble sometimes halted the Falcons’ momentum when turning back into traffic, but did well to find more ball on the outer after half time and lifted when the game was up for grabs late. His intent to achieve penetration with each kick during that period was clear, but ultimately to no avail.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

Spending a good chunk of time forward in this outing, Knevitt enjoyed a handy little purple patch late in term two. The big-bodied midfielder continually worked his direct opponent over, finding separation on the lead inside 50 and being afforded shots on goal. He missed a set shot and sent a snap into the post, before eventually converting before the half was up. When running though midfield, Knevitt’s hard tackling and clean hands were key features of his game.

#56 Oscar Morrison

Morrison was handed a tough match-up for most of the day in Calder spearhead Sam Paea, but looked effective when he was able to roll off and take intercept marks. The Falcons defender clunked some nice grabs early, stretching well overhead to cut off Calder’s forward forays and often relieve Geelong on the last line. He was sometimes beaten in the follow-up work after competing aerially, having initially done well to create spills by having body on his opponent or affecting a spoil.

GWV REBELS 5.7 (37) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 4.11 (35)

By: Michael Alvaro

GWV Rebels:

#2 Ben Hobbs

Having made a splash upon his return from injury over the last few weeks, Hobbs continued his strong ball winning form on Saturday. The hard-at-it midfielder started forward but soon found his way into the middle, bringing his usual grunt and hardness to the engine room. Hobbs often looked to bustle his way out of congestion and break tackles, which saw him caught on a couple of occasions, but set a positive tone for his side. He also worked hard around the ground to boost his disposal tally, as one of the leading possession-getters afield.

#3 Charlie Molan

The ever-reliable Molan was again integral to the Rebels’ cause, stationed in his newly-customary wing position. He got in all the right positions behind the ball to either intercept or contest and force turnovers, producing plenty of influential play. His radar was a touch off at times, particularly when opting to go long, but Molan sharpened up and knocked around some clever forward passes as the game wore on.

#6 Marcus Herbert

Such a stylish mover on the ball, Herbert came to prominence in the early stages with a terrific goal. The Rebels top-ager showed off his dancing feet and strong core, baulking past two opponents in quick succession before slamming home the six points. He looked strong over the ball at ground level and competed well in that aspect, while also looking far more polished with his disposal by foot. Herbert later missed another chance on goal from range, but hit a couple of nice targets going inside 50 in what was a really solid performance in midfield.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

Another who has found some promising form of late, Ballantyne continued that trend in Round 11. While he is known to provide a bit of dash on the outer, the wingman showed he is not afraid to contest the hard ball and get his hands dirty. There was less room than usual to operate in for Ballantyne, but he adjusted well to run through the loose balls and dispose cleanly even with contact imminent.

#15 Nick Hodgson

The Allies Under 19 hopeful returned to the Rebels’ line-up and has seen competition for midfield spots rise, but went about his usual business with some tough work on the inside. Hodgson thrives at the contest and that was hardly different on Saturday, as he dug in at ground level and made his mark with fierce tackles. He really started to warm to the contest in term two, finding a good amount of ball and getting others into the game.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Operating through midfield as he has done in recent weeks, Dib leant on some of his strongest traits to have an impact. The Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect proved evasive with his turn of speed, but was also strong at the contest where his mature build held up well. Dib also rotated forward, but missed a fourth quarter set shot via the post. He still produced a couple of big moments; running down Herbert as he broke from a centre bounce, and winning a crucial late clearance to help give Oakleigh once last chance on goal.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The top-ager produced work expected of him at this stage, getting busy though midfield with tough work in the clinches. He was particularly busy early on as he and his Chargers looked to set off on the right foot, competing well in-and-under the packs. Jenkins did well to consistently rip the ball free and pump his legs to get a bit of space before sending kicks forward. His tackling was also strong, making for a solid inside midfielder’s game.

#22 Lachlan Rankin

A player capable of being employed on each line, Rankin was mostly sighted in defence during his latest NAB League appearance. The Chargers trusted his skills as he took on kick-in duties, mixing up his outlets to search for both short and long targets. Rankin also opened up general play by foot, with one particularly daring defensive switch in the final term catching the eye. The utility would also sneak forward but could not quite make good on his shots on goal, including a 20m set shot in the last 90 second which may well have won Oakleigh the game.

#27 Karl Worner

Fresh off his impressive Vic Metro trial outing, Worner continued his usual stints out on the wing for Oakleigh and had a say moving forward. He found his fair share of ball but could not quite get the space he was after early on, before finding a few more blades to operate in and pumping his side into attack by foot.

#33 Patrick Voss

Voss brought all the physicality and intent he usually does to this contest, setting the tone early with a crushing holding the ball tackle. His strength was impressive throughout the contest, but sometimes resulted in free kicks against due to overzealous defensive acts. Voss also tended to bomb forward by foot and while he gained good meterage, would sometimes have been better off lowering his eyes. He got a run in midfield late on and proved a pest to opposition ball winners.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 11.5 (71) def. NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

Pushed back out to the wing after a foray on the inside, Byrne went about his usual business by generating positive run on the outer. His skills looked sharp and Byrne was often the player Murray looked for at half-back to spark their transitional play. The top-ager would either use the ball soundly by foot, or move on quickly with a fend-off or burst of speed to kick-start the attack. He played an ideal outside role and would have gained plenty of metres throughout the day.

#4 Josh Rachele

It is fair to say that Rachele was well and truly back to his best on Saturday. The highly talented forward looked switched on from the outset, working over his first direct opponent and forcing a switch having repeatedly gotten loose up the field. He sunk two goals in the first term to get things rolling, before turning it on in the second with three typically genius conversions. Rachele showed his smarts with a nice tap over the back, before running onto the loose ball and snaring his third major, with his fourth a clever checkside out of the forward 50 stoppage. He sent through another on the half time siren and after getting few looks in term three, made it six with a wonderfully hit 50m bomb in the final quarter. Outstanding stuff from the Draft Central Player of the Week, who served a reminder of his top five potential.

#13 Tom Brown

In his first NAB League outing since Round 4, Brown took little time to get going. With a tricky match-up at half-back, the defender was constantly able to mop up at ground level and get a better read of the aerial ball to intercept Northern’s attacks. Brown also backed his pace on the rebound, setting off quickly before delivering neat passes at full tilt. While he was a touch less prominent after half time, this was a more than steady return for the 17-year-old.

#24 Cameron McLeod

McLeod popped up to snare goals in three of the four quarters against Northern, showcasing classy finishing skills on the move for a player of his size. The top-ager got on the board in term one with a nice bit of play on the forward break, and kicked another on the run in term four after working up the ground. McLeod became more prominent in that department as the game wore on, searching outside the attacking arc to help link Murray into attack.

Northern Knights:

#3 Josh Ward

It was another stellar display from Ward on Saturday, who has put himself firmly in the first round frame with a series of top performances. The Northern Knights standout was his side’s most permanent and prolific midfielder, getting stuck in at the coalface while also continuing to show good speed away from the contest. Ward’s ability to get productive and chain together one-two handball passages proved a positive way forward for the Knights, who sometimes needed that kind of spark on the uptake. He was also made to work into defence to find the ball and start such passages, leaning on a strong work ethic to do so. Ward appeared to clutch at a knee after being brought down in a fourth quarter tackle, but ultimately ran off the knock.

#23 Anthony Caminiti

Caminiti has proven to be one of the finds of the season for Northern, with such status only consolidated after just his second NAB League outing. The mobile tall forward was able to repeat his best skills, which were often marks taken on the lead at full stretch with plenty of separation to his direct opponent. Caminiti also showcased his mobility on the ball, proving confident enough to burn the trailing opponent and manufacture some space to dispose efficiently. He was also thrown into the ruck and while there was no reward in the form of goals, Caminiti certainly deserved at least one for his efforts.

#27 Jason McCormick

With a certain small forward exciting at the opposite end of the ground, McCormick proved his own worth with a well-crafted four-goal outing – his second for the season. The bottom-ager converted well from set shots and was clever in his reading of the play, nudging his opponent under the ball to then either mark or run onto it over the back. He also lurked at the back of packs and finished in quick time after sharking the spills, playing the small forward role perfectly in terms of his attacking 50 craft.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald racked up plenty of possessions on the rebound from defence, setting Northern on the front foot with his run and clean kicking game. He cushioned the ball well for leading targets and often looked to carry through the corridor, making for more direct avenues forward. Fitzgerald put together a pretty neat performance and was another to perform repeatable skills, with that short kicking game quite sound in transition.

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.6 (18) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 6.20 (56)

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Baynen Lowe

Lowe was his usually busy self throughout the day, but understandably found the going tough at times against some pretty stiff opposition. He often worked back to help out Tasmania’s besieged defence, accumulating across the back half and looking to pump his side forward under pressure. He also popped up at the other end after half time, hitting the post with a set shot and contributing the one-percenters – like a spoil at half-forward to help lock the ball in.

#6 Sam Banks

One of the many highly-touted prospects making their return this week, Banks’ first game back was a steady one in defence. He looked to generate some momentum out of the back half when kicking short, working hard to get the next possession and continue his foray up the field. Banks, who took on kick-in duties, also looked for distance in his use by foot, as Tasmania struggled to exit its own half at times. He seemed to be managed after half time but showed some positive signs early on.

#8 Zach Morris

Morris was solid as a rock in defence, with his strong intercept marking a real feature throughout the day. He often rose against an opponent and managed to pull the ball down, not afraid to do so from behind or with heat coming either way. He had a really tough gig in the backline but stood up well with plenty of work to be done.

#15 Lachlan Cowan

Cowan has shown some really promising signs this season as a bottom-ager, looking quite assured in defence. He was another who fared well aerially and had plenty on his plate, but took to the task with aplomb. Cowan pushed a high line early and intercepted in advanced areas, before being forced to drop much further back after half time and produce the same feats inside defensive 50. He proved a good judge of the ball in flight and often clunked the ball at full stretch, before calmly distributing.

#22 Baker Smith

The Allies Under 19 squad member is the fourth Tasmanian defender to feature here, and rightly so after standing up in a tough spot. He did much of his work under enormous pressure on the last line, but positioned well to prevent many Sandringham scores by intercepting on the goal line. Smith was another whose marking became prominent, but it was also his tackling and one-percent efforts which helped the Devils keep their opponents somewhat at bay.

Sandringham Dragons:

#4 Josh Sinn

After getting back into the swing of things off half-back last week, it did not take long for the Dragons to thrust Sinn back into midfield this time around. The Sandringham co-captain looked terrific in the early stages, sharking the ruck taps at speed and backing his pace to burn forward out of congestion. He trusted his foot skills too, taking on aggressive options going forward. Sinn registered a couple of behinds in the second term; one on the run as he just could not steady enough, and the other a 45m set shot after marking uncontested. He was not as prominent in the second half, perhaps a product of being managed.

#5 Lachlan Benton

After enjoying some added responsibility in different roles over the last couple of weeks, Benton rolled forward from the wing on Saturday. He proved strong in the air for a player of his size, rising with courage to take a couple of solid overhead marks in the first half. Benton dropped back well to find the ball and worked hard to chain his possessions in transition, even if he did not always get the ball back. Another example of his repeat running came in the third term, when Benton hit Blake Howes on the lead, then worked inside 50 to receive a short kick over the top. He missed the resultant set shot, but later got a run at the centre bounces and was a solid contributor overall.

#6 Blake Howes

There is plenty to like about Howes’ game and he once again impressed with not only his athletic traits, but footballing ability. The forward-turned-wingman remained prolific in the air and got to plenty of good spots forward of centre to get involved in scoring passages. He was incredibly unlucky not to hit the scoreboard himself, at least in a major way, registering four behinds with most of his efforts coming from range on the fly.

#7 Campbell Chesser

At risk of sounding like a broken record, Chesser was another player to return this week and took some time to get adjusted to the pace of the game. Usually a prolific carrier of the ball, he backed himself to do so but was afforded less time and space than he might have desired, which impacted his ball use. Still, Chesser found his groove and got in some great positions to receive on the outer – using his speed once released, rather than to manufacture than space himself. The midfielder had a nice patch in the third term with a couple of clearances, rounding out a solid game to build off.

#17 Finn Callaghan

Callaghan’s output of late has been simply exceptional, and he was again the best player afield on Saturday among a host of big names. He has truly found a home on the inside, where is poise and agility in traffic has only become more pronounced with each passing week. Callaghan hardly wasted a touch and was effective both by hand and foot, never looking rushed on the ball and proving a level above in terms of his overall polish. His first half was as good as it gets and he carried that on to finish with a game-high 28 disposals.

#45 Marcus Windhager

Fresh off a promising display in the Victorian Under 19 trials, Windhager popped up to produce some eye-catching plays once again. The St Kilda NGA prospect rotated through the midfield and forwardline, with his disposal while on-ball leading to plenty of chances on goal in the first half. He was consistently able to hit targets inside attacking 50, working up to half-forward and using the ball beautifully by foot heading back towards goal. While he did not find the goals himself, Windhager helped the Dragons do so with his sound decision making.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 7.8 (50) def. by EASTERN RANGES 7.10 (52)

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays:

#3 Miller Bergman 

Taking up a role on the wing for most of the game, Bergman was a big part of transitional play from the defensive half, working hard to push in the back 50 and provide an option for a switch kick or to apply pressure of his own, getting a free kick early on when he caught an opponent holding the ball. Was effective with his ball use throughout the game even if he had little time to balance himself when delivering a kick, hitting some pinpoint kicks from just a step. Used his agility to get around opponents quickly, selling candy at crucial moments to keep the ball moving quickly forward.

#6 Connor Macdonald

Continuing to impress as he did prior to the NAB League break, Macdonald was a major ball winner through the Dandenong midfield. Continually clean below his knees, Macdonald took some clean one-hand pick-ups whilst moving at top speed, or under pressure from opponents, bursting away to get a disposal away. Macdonald has become somewhat renowned for that burst, as well as his leap, able to impact plays he has no right to, at times leaping high to get a hand to an attempted handball and tapping to his own advantage, or taking marks over the top of opponents, getting above their reach. Whilst he didn’t have much luck getting goals himself, missing a few ones you’d expect him to nail, his footy IQ and decision making around the forward 50 helped set up a few in the second half, happy to pass the ball off to options behind or in more central spots to open up the inside 50, or handball and follow up with a shepherd to buy his teammates more time with the footy. Was strong around stoppages as well, winning hardballs at ground level at times to win clearances, with one in the third quarter resulting in a goal after one of his teammates ran onto it.

#7 Judson Clark

Coming into the game with the momentum of five goals from the previous weeks Victorian trial games, Clarke wasn’t quite given the time in the forwardline against Eastern, but still looked dangerous forward of centre with his lighting speed and agility catching a few eyes. One of the biggest strengths Clarke showed was his workrate around the ground, both offensively and defensively, working hard around the contests to apply pressure and assisting in the defensive 50 to work the ball out. Would follow up his handballs and kicks to get it back and dispose of it with momentum, with one of these moments in the final term seeing him run about 80 meters, starting on the wing, getting a handball to a teammate on the 50 meter mark, getting it back and snapping a goal to momentarily put Dandenong in front.

#43 Billy Taylor

The 2004-born ruck/forward had some impressive moments throughout the game, where his athleticism and skill at ground level suggested he was a smaller than his 195cm stature would suggest he could. Kicked the first two Dandenong goals in the second quarter, with the second one particularly impressive as he got an opponent for holding the ball inside the forward 50 when he looked like he was out of the contest. When he went through the ruck his leap allowed him to win most of the hitouts, with his follow up work around the ground also impressive, seemingly marking everything that came his way. 

#46 Justin Davies

Being switched between the forwardline and backline throughout the game, whilst Davies struggled to gain consistency in finding the ball, his aerial dominance was a constant, able to hold onto the ball even when copping heavy contact in the contest. His positioning when approaching aerial contests was impressive as well, putting himself in a spot where if he didn’t hold the mark, he’d be able to follow up strongly at ground level.

Eastern Ranges:

#5 Jake Soligo

After an impressive display in the recent Victorian trial matches, Solgio returned to the NAB League with another impressive outing through the Eastern midfield and forwardline. Continuing to impress with the things he does well, getting separation around the ground and looking strong overhead, winning contested ball and clearances well, working hard both ways and hitting his in tight handballs. What was different was the cleanliness of Soligo’s kicking, hitting a lot of targets by foot through the game, even when under pressure. Took a good mark inside 50 where he nudged his opponent under it to hold it out the back, and kicked it straight through.

#21 Corey Preston

Continued his transition into the defensive half as he lined up at half-back for a large majority of the game. Not overly flashy as he can be in the forward half, Preston did the fundamentals really well, positioning strongly behind the ball to intercept when it came in from his side of the ground, and pushing wide to be a switch kick option for his teammates. His follow up ball use was also impressive, with his kicking in particular getting penetration behind it going forward. In the dying stages of the game, as Eastern looked to hold onto their two-point lead, Preston was switched into the rover role, adding some composure on ball.

#35 Max Hall

Looking at his best around stoppages, Hall seemingly won every second clearance he could, able to burst away from opponents to collect it off the ground and bomb the ball forward. Was impressive with his hands in close, finding teammates out of congestion to release them going forward. Was really strong in holding his ground when copping contact, not being knocked off balance when opponents tried to bring him down.

GIPPSLAND POWER 9.3 (57) def. WESTERN JETS 7.9 (51)

By: Eli Duxson

Gippsland Power:

#4 Nathan Noblett

Not typically one to dominate the scoreboard with just two majors before this game, but he proved to be the difference bagging four goals straight to get the accurate Power over the line. It was a mixture of fortune and opportunistic positioning with two of his four goals coming from well timed runs out the back into open goals. His pressure up forward was strong in a day that was tough to exit defensive 50 with a holding the ball free kick for netting him a set shot chance which he drilled. Noblett found most of his 15 disposals in the forward half of the ground often presenting outside 50 and working back. When around the ball, he was able to get in and find it as well as receive on the outside, his second goal came from a kick out of a pack.

#11 Caleb Van Oostveen

The 17-year-old small enjoyed one of his better days out from his four games this season collecting 13 disposals to go with a goal, but more importantly laying a game-high 10 tackles. His goal came from a holding the ball free kick for of which he nailed the set shot for, a reward for effort. Van Oostveen averages eight tackles a game and played a pivotal role in making the already difficult rebound 50’s for the Jets even more so compensating for his 171cm frame with tenacious pressure.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

Another reliably productive game from D’Angelo in conditions made for contested football, and clearly made of him. Was one of Gippsland’s more prominent inside midfielders using his hip strength to keep his balance and offload from packs more efficiently. He had a perfect balance of inside and outside play and disposal type (11 handballs and kicks) due to his ability to spread from stoppages and get involved further down the chain. His vision was solid on multiple occasions with pulled kicks and on a better day weather wise, he would have looked a lot more polished. Despite his presence in the contest, he did not lay a tackle all game.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

Was lively all game and kept the Jets in the contest for much of the day. He almost kicked three goals in a row for Western with his first coming after the quarter time siren to extend their lead, and his second coming early in the second term as he manufactured a snap out of nothing. It seemed he could not be stopped as he was almost everywhere at one point, his third shot at goal being deemed touched halted the Jets momentum. White spent more time in the forward line but pushed up the ground and found the ball 21 times with some midfield minutes, providing great run and contest all game.

#11 Harrison Schumann

Entrusted with the kick out duties on a day you would rather not but did a serviceable job for the few behinds the Power scored and was generally reliable with ball in hand coming out of defence. The 18-year-old recorded five rebound 50’s among his season-high 17 disposals (12 kicks, five handballs), but he also managed to push further afield and deliver inside 50 following his opponent on a day where balls were falling short and swirling. Defensively he was disciplined being strong in the contest aerially and on the deck, with his cleanliness below the knees a feature of his tidy abilities.

#14 Mace Cousins

Looked threatening and classy all in one selling candy and spinning out of trouble onto his often-trusty left boot. His cleanliness also suffered at times due to the blustery conditions but looked one to be dangerous entering forward 50 which he did on five occasions. Playing out of half forward he would not push up too far and chose to remain closer to goal. Like many of his teammates he was unable to hit the scoreboard and was often a little too kick-happy, but it was an almost game for Cousins who was not far off breaking the game open.

#20 Dylan Laurie

The small defender put together another solid game collecting 17 disposals and three rebound 50’s in a similar role to Schumann. Often got on the end of handballs to exit defence and was generally efficient considering the conditions which no one could master consistently. Laurie defended well and applied good pressure at ground level, despite being pushed up into space to meet the ball. Disciplined in position and disciplined with ball in hand.

#35 Liam Conway

A season-high in disposals in what has been an impressive season for the big-bodied midfielder as he made his way to 34 disposals along with five marks and a whopping 11 inside 50s. Around the contest he showed his strength and balance over the ball and ability to extract, while then also spreading and creating space for teammates with his disposal. He played a more defensive role setting up behind the ball well to intercept and drive the ball back in to the forward 50, while also sweeping at stoppages and using his strength and acceleration to find teammates or clear forward. The Jets best on the day as he continues to compile a strong case for a spot at the higher level.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos