Tag: shannon neale

Squad predictions: 2020 Western Australia Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with carnival likely to take place in October. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the championships come around, but with a few stipulations in place. We began with our Vic Metro, Vic Country, and South Australian squad predictions, and today we take a look at Western Australia’s (WA) potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • The inclusion of bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it is limited to three spots in the starting 18
  • 19-year-old inclusions are also limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the fourth squad prediction, with WA’s talent broken down line-by-line.

* – denotes bottom-aged
** – denotes 19-yo

DEFENCE

FB – Blake Morris (Subiaco), Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts), Rhett Bazzo* (Swan Districts)
HB – Brandon Walker (East Fremantle), Heath Chapman (West Perth), Ty Sears (Swan Districts)

The West Australian spine is one of the few to boast genuine talls in most key position posts, starting with Denver Grainger-Barras and Heath Chapman in defence. Both are terrific in the air and provide good versatility as talls, able to shut down opponents, impact the play aerially, and use the ball soundly out of defensive 50.

Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Brandon Walker‘s name will quickly be placed on the team sheet, with Ty Sears an agile outside mover who takes up the opposite half-back flank in our side. Making it three Swan Districts products in the back six is Rhett Bazzo, joined by WA’s 2019 Under 16 MVP, Blake Morris on the last line.

Both are good competitors in the air; with Bazzo a potential key position prospect at 194cm as a bottom-ager, while Morris is a late bloomer who can intercept with his high marking and shrewd reading of the play. The defence has a bit of everything, and should compete well on all levels with Grainger-Barras the centrepiece and leading draft prospect.


MIDFIELD

C – Jack Carroll (East Fremantle), Zane Trew (Swan Districts), Judd McVee* (East Fremantle)
FOL – Kalin Lane** (Claremont), Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth), Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle)

A trio of tough, big-bodied ball winners look likely to attend the centre bounces for WA, with Nathan O’Driscoll (187cm), Zane Trew (186cm), and Finn Gorringe (183cm) all inside types who can crack in and win the hard ball. O’Driscoll is a thumping left-foot kick and capable marker who may also feature across half-back, while Trew is perhaps an even better disposer by foot who also earned Under 16 All Australian honours in 2018.

Palming down to them could well be a true bolter in Kalin Lane, who featured in the 2020 AFL Academy intake despite only playing one WAFL Colts game for Claremont. The 202cm big-man is also the sole 19-year-old to feature in the side, and should be aided well by a couple of other talls in terms of ruck duties.

On the outside, Jack Carroll adds to the high-level kicking abilities to make it three East Fremantle prospects among the midfield group. He displayed his class in last year’s Under 17 All Stars showcase, and is joined on the opposite wing by Judd McVee, a bottom-aged small who has that classic burst out of the stoppages and may feature on the inside.


FORWARD

HF – Joel Western (Claremont), Shannon Neale (South Fremantle), Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder)
FF – Owen Dann (East Fremantle), Logan McDonald (Perth), Ira Jetta (South Fremantle)

There is plenty of versatility among the proposed West Australian forward group, with two genuine talls again slotting into key position spots, while each of the smaller options can also rotate through different roles. Among them, Joel Western is an exciting prospect who is part of Fremantle’s NGA and can rotate through the midfield, credit to his freakish skills and evasiveness.

Ira Jetta is another small who can also double as a midfielder at the Under 18 level, but has terrific goal sense and fills a spot up forward here. Owen Dann takes up the other pocket but can be thrown into defence, while Peel Thunder’s Isiah Winder slots in at half-forward – a player who catches the eye, and yet another sub-180cm mover who can shuffle further afield.

Logan McDonald is one of the leading key position prospects in the national talent pool and is simply a lock at full forward, having already represented the Black Ducks at Under 18 level in 2019. His athleticism, clean hands, and contested marking will put WA in good stead and he has grown to true key position height at 195cm. Shannon Neale, another late bloomer will rotate between the ruck and forwardline, able to compete in the air while also possessing good athletic traits at 200cm.

The flexibility of the side as a whole is stamped with that of the forward six here, with each player both versatile in their respective positions while being able to double in separate roles. With a couple of solid talls to help the smalls crumb, this group could also produce a handy highlight reel.


INTERCHANGE

INT – Luke Polson* (Peel Thunder), Kade Dittmar* (East Perth), Kellen Johnson (West Perth), Tyler Nesbitt (Peel Thunder)

A pair of bottom-agers head our interchange, which was a typically difficult one to whittle down. Luke Polson is a 195cm ruck/forward who can provide depth on either line, while Kade Dittmar is a hard-working and physical midfielder with a booming kick and the ability to play elsewhere if required. Polson’s Peel Thunder teammate Tyler Nesbitt rounds out the 22 alongside fellow top-age academy member Kellen Johnson, both medium-sized prospects who may feature at either end of the ground.


SQUAD DEPTH

There is a good amount of bottom-age depth in the West Australian ranks, and some top-agers outside of the AFL Academy bubble who could push their case for selection. Jack Hindle is the only top-age academy member to miss out on our 22, but will likely rotate through the side. Chris Walker, the twin brother of Brandon is another who may be thereabouts, while Jamison Ugle is a speedy type who could garner attention along with Subiaco’s Tyler Brockman as forward options. Talented 199cm ruck/forward Michael Mallard had a decent Under 16 campaign for WA, and is already a known quantity if selectors are looking for even more key position depth.

In terms of those eligible for the 2021 draft who feature in the academy hub, Max Chipper is a classy midfielder from the stacked Swan Districts squad. Matthew Johnson is a tall but raw prospect who can also play forward, and Mitchell Brown is another midfield option who may put his hand up. Rounding out the crop is Claremont’s Jacob van Rooyen and Richard Bartlett, both of whom featured for the Black Ducks in last year’s Under 16 national carnival.

>> READ UP ON THE 2020 WA U18s:
>> 2019 WAFL Colts Content

AFL Draft Watch:

Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll

Marquee Matchups:

Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Kaine Baldwin

Positional Analysis:

Key Forwards

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Key Forwards

FOLLOWING a draft class somewhat short on pure key position forward options comes a cohort which has already shown promise in that exact area. Though they may not currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central begins its line-by-line positional breakdowns, starting with the big men. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier key forwards who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Kaine Baldwin (Glenelg/South Australia)
193cm | 91kg

A rare case in that he may well find his way into draft contention despite not playing any football for two seasons. Baldwin had cracked the SANFL Reserves level for Glenelg after an outstanding Under 16 national carnival, but unfortunately went down with an untimely ACL injury in 2019. A year of recovery has him ready to go though, and a 20.8 yo-yo test score in preseason suggests he is building back the running ability that sets him apart. Baldwin’s contested marking is also eye-catching, utilising his strong frame to split packs. He comes in lightly below true key position height, so is also working on moving further afield.

>> DRAFT WATCH: Kaine Baldwin


Jackson Callow (Tasmania/Allies)

193cm | 95kg

A traditional, hulking key forward who thrives on the physical aspect of the game. Callow was a standout for Tasmania at Under 16 level, and more recently in the NAB League having booted 24 goals from 14 games for the Devils in 2019. At 95kg, he is well built and hardly beaten one-on-one, but also has the clean hands and speed to mark strongly at full tilt. Callow has garnered heavy opposition attention thus far as Tasmania’s spearhead, but does not hold back on the aggression to shake it off. He can work on sometimes reigning that aspect of his game in, while also sharpening his consistency in front of goal.

>> MARQUEE MATCHUP: Callow vs. Fleeton


Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

197cm | 85kg

Eyre is an Essendon Next Generation Academy (NGA) member who is still quite raw, but has some terrific attributes. Having endured his share of injuries across the last two seasons, Eyre has grown to a more traditional key position height and is filling out nicely. Those extra centimetres and an added five kilograms since the start of last year point towards Eyre featuring as a centre half-forward in 2020, though he is able to play up either end or even on a wing. An exciting one for Bombers fans, who have some worthy academy talents coming through the ranks.

>> Q&A: Josh Eyre


Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

195cm | 83kg

The Sandringham product came on strongly last season, featuring across five games for Sandringham in between his Geelong Grammar commitments, while also running out for Vic Metro’s Under 17 side. Lord is an athletic tall who sits at the precipice of true key position size, with his leap and high marking the most prominent features of his game. Still very much a developing type, the 18-year-old did well to crack into Sandringham’s side last year given its plethora of tall options. Trained at Melbourne during the off-season, and should make up part of Vic Metro’s spine in 2020.

>> Q&A: Ollie Lord


Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)

195cm | 85kg

Another standout from the 2018 Under 16 carnival, McDonald has since shown plenty of the same potential having represented the Black Ducks at Under 18 level in 2019 as a bottom-ager. The Perth product has grown to key position size over the past year, and is one of the leading candidates in his role on the back of his ability to cover the ground well, clunk strong marks on the lead, and most importantly, find the goals. Has great endurance for a player of his size, notching a score of 21.3 on the preseason yo-yo test.

>> DRAFT WATCH: Logan McDonald


Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

193cm | 80kg

A developing forward who shot into calculations for representative honours, McMahon is perhaps a prospect who finds himself measuring up at an in-between size. While he certainly plays like a key forward with his terrific leap and sticky hands on the lead, McMahon does not have the height or weight of some of the other forwards on this list – perhaps suiting more of a third tall option at the elite level. Still, he averaged almost a goal per game over 15 NAB League outings in 2019 and should be another to feature in Vic Metro’s starting side.

>> FEATURE: Liam McMahon


Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)

200cm | 98kg

One of the most exciting draft prospects and a candidate to be taken first off the board is West Adelaide’s Thilthorpe, who mixes his time between the ruck and centre half-forward. The South Australian already has experience at SANFL League level and at 200cm and 98kg, is a readymade key position player. Thilthorpe’s running capacity is elite for a player of his size, with his aerial presence and impact around the ground also desirable assets. He could develop into a modern day ruck who plays like a fourth midfielder, or become a swingman given his high ceiling.

>> GET TO KNOW: West Adelaide U18s


Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

193cm | 95kg

Another more traditional key forward is Treacy, one of Bendigo’s leading prospects. The well built centre half-forward is not afraid to throw his weight around and is aggressive both in his leading and ground-level presence. While that aggression can sometimes land him in trouble, the 193cm Pioneer has shown there is more to his game. Speaking of, Treacy was spotted at a few centre bounces last year, so may even be poised for a move up the ground given he lacks the height of others in this category.

>> FEATURE: Josh Treacy


Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)

194cm | 83kg

Arguably the most talked about draft prospect to this point has been Ugle-Hagan, a candidate to join the exclusive number one pick list, and a Western Bulldogs NGA product. The Warrnambool native formerly represented the Greater Western Victoria region, but has since relocated to Oakleigh’s zone given he boards at Scotch College. Ugle-Hagan is remarkably athletic, testing well across all areas during pre-season and proving just why he is near-unbeatable at full flight. His breakaway speed on the lead and high marking are outstanding, though Ugle-Hagan will be working on his field kicking and consistency in front of goal. Has also played in defence at times, but looks most comfortable up forward.

>> DRAFT WATCH: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan


OTHERS TO CONSIDER

Among the others to consider are a good number of prospects who missed out on being drafted last year as top-agers, and 2020-eligible players who may well find their way onto other lists – position-wise.

Sandringham over-ager Felix Flockart is a mobile 200cm bolter who can play forward or through the ruck, and will be one to watch when/if football returns having impressed during pre-season.

Another in that category is Northern’s Liam Kolar, who has transferred some elite traits from an athletics and soccer background. The 194cm Knight has a high-level mix of speed and endurance, and looks promising with his lead-up work from the forward 50.

The likes of West Australian Shannon Neale, South Australia’s Zac Phillips, Ned Carey, and Henry Smith, and Victorian Jack Diedrich also came into consideration, but should feature on the list of rucks to later be analysed.

Dynamic NT Thunder Academy jet Joel Jeffrey can fulfil the high marking forward role, but is a touch undersized to be considered key position at this stage, while James Borlase and Sam Tucker are tall utilities who may feature more as defenders.

In terms of other 19-year-olds, Kobe Tozer is a likely type whose development has been restricted by injury, while 2019 Allies representative Liam Delahunty may look to stake his claim having crossed to Victoria from the GWS GIANTS Academy.

NAB Leaguers Jamieson Rossiter and Kyle Yorke are others who may get a second look as over-agers, while Charlie Dean is another who was poised to return in between VFL duties – though he may be utilised up the other end.

Scouting notes: Under-17 Futures

TEAM BROWN romped home by 47 points in the Under-17 Futures showpiece game on grand final day on the MCG, with a number of prospects putting their hands up for top-end selection at this early stage. With recruiters watching on, we also cast an eye over the game to bring you our opinion-based scouting notes on every player afield.

Team Brown (Black)

By: Peter Williams (#1-8) and Michael Alvaro (#16-36)

#1 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons)

One of Team Brown’s best players on the day with his run and neat kicking skills throughout. His day started with some great running power and vision to get the ball into the hands of Eddie Ford for an early goal, and then produced a lovely kick at full speed through the middle to Blake Coleman. He used the ball well time and time again, winning a fair bit of it on the wing and half-back, but also setting up plays going forward, including a late game interception at half-forward and tight kick into Ford in the pocket. His hands in close and ability to find space, as well as his footy IQ is great. Even took a very nice high mark early in the fourth term and played on straight away to keep the ball moving.

#2 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy)

Deservingly Best on Ground and it was easy to see why. He rarely wasted it and his left foot was a treat. On a day where the skill level was hit and miss, Campbell seemed to turn everything he touched to gold with his three majors from 14 disposals. The Sydney Swans Academy member had a couple of early touches then got his team on the board running out of a stoppage and launching from 40m on the left to sail it home. He kicked a second early in the third with a lovely left foot snap on the boundary, then made it two in a short space of time with a ripping goal from 55m on the run. At times he did a bit too much, such as being pinged for holding the ball by Henry Walsh in the second term, but his dare and run was something to admire and by taking on the game, he set up scoring opportunities to Reef McInnes and Joel Jeffrey late in the game, and even had a chance himself with a snap which bounced towards goal but was kept in, only for teammates to finish off the job with a major.

#3 Taj Schofield (Woodville-West Torrens)

Was not the biggest ball winner, but felt after a quiet first half, he had some really nice plays in the second half. He took the game on from half-back and set up an end-to-end goal which lead to a massive Braeden Campbell goal early in the third. Schofield showed clean hands at ground level and hit the ball at full speed to deliver a pinpoint pass into Saxon Crozier, but rushed a kick shortly after trying to get to James Borlase at half-forward and it was intercepted. Had a highlight play early in the fourth term by spinning out of an opponent’s grasp and producing a neat kick forward.

#4 Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)

Needs to work on his ground balls further, but battled hard throughout the four quarters. Got going more as the game went on, kicking an important set shot early in the third term to get Team Brown going again. He won a lot of his touches under pressure in close but turned over some of his kicks, however produced a hard body at the coalface.

#5 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy)

Lively to say the least. He is one of those players you would come to the football to see. Laid a terrific couple of tackles to set the tone early in the game, with his second being a big run-down tackle and win a free straight in front of goal. He converted that and continued to look dangerous, taking a mark outside 50 but his delivery inside was a scrubber kick to the pocket. It was one of his only poor kicks going inside, because he seemed to hit-up targets well throughout, setting up Braeden Campbell for a goal with the one-two at half-forward and produced a very nice kick into Reef McInnes inside 50 in the third term. He was able to win the ball at a stoppage in the midfield to show his midfield potential, then finished the game on a high note by selling candy to Wil Parker in the goalsquare and booting it from point blank range.

#6 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers)

Just a tackling machine who keeps on battling hard. Philips is a work horse who continues to dig in and win the ball and do all the team things to support his teammates. He laid a massive 14 tackles for the game while winning another 20-plus disposals. One of the better inside midfield options heading into next year, he is strong at the stoppages and can spread to the outside to win it as well and set up teammates. He kicked a goal in the third term by winning the ball from a stoppage, fending off an opponent and snapping it off his right at the top of the square. He then set up Joel Jeffrey with a goal thanks to a very nice kick inside 50.

#8 Eddie Ford (Western Jets)

Started the game with a bang, picking up eight touches and booting two goals in an eye-opening first term. He had his hands on it early leading outside 50, then kick a great running goal on the right from 40m out. His second goal came when Ford read the tap perfectly, pushed off his opponent in Errol Gulden and chucked it on his boot for it to sail through. It showed his high-level footy IQ and goal sense all in one play. He was still very busy throughout the game with some nice touches, though his first term was his standout. Had a shot from 45m on the run in the third term but it sprayed to the left. His best is very good.

#16 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)

Gave a glimpse into his role for next year with a mix of time between his usual wing/half-back position, and in the midfield. Downie’s willingness to get on his bike at every opportunity and move the ball forward was a feature, fitting the metres-gained role well on the outside. He would often dish off on the move and continue his run to get it back, ending his move with a long kick forward on his customary left side. May well continue his shift towards a more inside role and has the size to do so, but arguably looked more damaging on the outer as he has been all year.

#17 Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions Academy)

Crozier was one of many high-level outside runners for Team Brown, looking to find space and break forward on the ball. One of his first ominous looking runs was cut short by a nice run-down tackle, but Crozier was not to be deterred and found a good amount of possessions from half-back to the wing. He worked up the ground in the third term to mark on the 50 arc, but missed the resultant set shot. It was a standard performance from the Lions Academy member, who will look to develop from simply being a linker between the arcs.

#18 Luke Edwards (Glenelg)

The potential Adelaide father-son has composure beyond his years and looks a versatile type. Starting in his usual half-back role, Edwards showed great composure in his disposal coming out of defence and worked hard to impact the play further afield once he had released the ball himself. His intercept marking game was also sound, reading the ball well in flight to get in the right position on defensive wing. He is the accumulating type in the backline, but looks a different player once thrown into the midfield with his strong hands and frame allowing him to play that inside game. His smart handballs out of congestion were terrific in the second half, especially at centre bounces, and he would benefit from spending more time there.

#19 Sam Collins (Tasmania)

It was a more handball happy game from the damaging rebounder, who swept up the loose balls well on the outside all day. He was clever with his flicks out of congestion and into space, but also brought his kicking into the frame with a couple of long roosts down the line to send Team Brown forward. Collins got back well to cover the defence, as shown by a run-down tackle in the first term, while also directing traffic as his teammates moved the ball on. Will be one of the Devils’ top prospects in 2020, and is a good interceptor on his day as well.

#20 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)

It was a very near-complete performance from the Team Brown captain, who booted two classy goals in his time between the midfield and forward line. His work rate in the engine room was top notch, digging in to win the ball himself and tackling hard going the other way with the opposition breaking. Hollands also impacted the centre bounces from his starting position on the wing early on, proving clean and composed when the footy was hot. His first goal was a typical one, propping after he collected the loose ball and snapping home. The second was a show-stopper, slamming the ball through the big sticks from 55m out off a couple of steps. Is one of the leading prospects at this early stage, and narrowly missed out on best afield honours.

#21 Blake Morris (Subiaco)

After what was a shaky start with Morris looking a touch lost in defence, the recent WA Under-16 MVP began to show off some of his best traits. His best moment in the first half was a courageous double-effort going back with the flight of the ball, but Morris’ best came to the fore after the main break. He gained confidence with ball in hand, finding Riley Thilthorpe inside 50 with a lace out kick and going on to use it well on the last line. While Morris was unable to showcase his theatrical aerial prowess as a whole, he almost pulled down a huge mark in the centre square, but landed heavily for his troubles. Looks raw at this stage but can be very exciting.

#22 Joel Jeffrey (Northern Territory)

Jeffrey is an excitement machine up either end with his marking and running abilities and proved as much in this game. He started down back and positioned well behind the ball to snap up much of what came his way. Jeffrey’s one-on-one marking was sound too, which is a handy addition to his eye-catching outside play. While his forward run and long kicks helped him impact the play past the wing, Jeffrey was moved up the other end more permanently to good effect with two goals in the second half. The Wanderers’ product snuck out the back well on both occasions, marking inside 50 and slotting home with a lovely set shot action.

#23 James Borlase (Sturt)

Borlase is in the rare position of being a player whose father played more than 250 games for Port Adelaide, while also being an Adelaide Crows academy member, and he may cost either club a pretty penny at this stage. Drifting across the defensive 50, Borlase took a couple of strong intercept marks in the third term and chased the ball up well at ground level. He is that in-between size – not quite having key-position height but possessing a strong frame – and can play both tall and small roles. While his marking game was strong, Borlase had a couple of less comfortable moments on the ground, getting caught holding the ball on two occasions despite a solid overall game.

#24 Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels)

The classy mover looked at home across half back, competing well and getting the ball moving along the line. He took some time to build into the game and had his best moments during the second and third terms with shows of clever use by both hand and foot. His mix of competitiveness and class came to the fore, winning his own ball one-on-one but doing so with quick gathers and flashy spins. Unfortunately had a horror kick across goal in the final term which cost his side a goal, but was otherwise a valuable member of the back six.

#25 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)

McInnes continues to step up in showcase games and did so here with a solid display of ball winning across the day. Starting in midfield, McInnes proved he was more than an inside workhorse with his poise on the ball and decision making when hemmed in. He has that surprising agility at times – much like GWS Academy product Tom Green and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps – which helps to get him out of trouble on top of his strength in the tackle. He went on to become influential up forward, finding separation on the lead and almost pulling in some strong marks. It proved a shrewd move, as McInnes booted two goals; the first coming from a 50m penalty, and the second shortly after with a classy snap from the tightest of angles. The Pies have yet another promising NGA product on their hands.

#31 Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)

It was a quiet outing from the physical Pioneers forward, who chimed in with a few neat touches. One of his first was a typical lead-up mark on the wing, and he followed that up in the last term with a strong pack mark inside 50 which led to his sole goal of the game. In between those moments was a take out of the ruck which led to a Will Phillips goal, highlighting Treacy’s potential to impact the play inside 50.

#32 Logan McDonald (Perth)

McDonald looked like becoming an ominous target early as he bolted out of the goalsquare on the lead and snapped up the ball well at ground level. He was the deepest tall inside 50 in the first term but could not quite put it all together, going on to work up the ground and link into the arc. Has great athleticism and showed he can kick well too, finding fellow Black Duck, Shannon Neale inside 50.

#33 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers)

It was a promising display from the Bulldogs NGA product played out of position for the most part at centre half-back. He started off on his usual leads up forward but soon slotted in behind the ball and did well to leap at whatever came his way. He was terrific at the drop of the ball in the third term with his athleticism, and would have been a really effective player had he stuck more of his kicks on the run. That is the area of his game he seems to be working on, so expect to see some improvement heading into his top-age year after some inconsistencies here. Almost found the goals too with a set shot on the half time siren.

#34 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide)

The promising tall is solidly built but has the look of a raw and rangy ruckman as a clearly more athletic type. While he was beaten in the ruck contests at times, Thilthorpe worked well around the ground to showed clean hands and ball use. He spent most of his time up forward after quarter time, hitting the post after a nice piece of agility to gather and find space to let fly deep inside 50. He had a similar moment leading up with a midfielder-like gather and give to Connor Downie, but could not quite get down to a couple of half-volleys later on. Thilthorpe showed glimpses of his high-end talent, and is certainly one to watch if he can showcase his marking game more often.

#35 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle)

Like Morris, Neale played in this year’s Under-16 carnival as an over-ager and impressed enough to get the nod here. An athletic ruckman, the South Fremantle product took over those duties for most of the day and positioned well for ball-ups and throw-ins. It was that positioning which allowed him to palm down to Eddie Ford for his second goal from a forward 50 stoppage in the first term, showing a good bit of combination. Neale went on to rest forward and found the ball up on the arc, kicking well for his size – except for a set shot which fell short, but fortunately led to a Reef McInnes goal. Is a likely type as a late bloomer.

#36 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power)

While he spent a bit of time in the ruck, Reid’s best work is arguably always done down back and he proved that again here. He was composed with ball in hand and dished off to his runners well, while also kicking capably on the last line. He capped his game with a strong pack mark in the third term and got involved well in Team Brown’s rebounding efforts.

Team Dal Santo (White)

By: Peter Williams (#1-10) and Ed Pascoe (#16-37)

#1 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy)

His side’s best despite the loss, and the Sydney Swans fans would be pumped to see both him and Campbell playing well on the MCG. After a quieter first term by his standards often opposed to Ford at stoppages, he really got going and was crucial in getting his side back into the contest in the second term. Kicked the easiest of goals over the back in the second term running into the square with space behind him, and looked composed in his movements in close. He sidesteps opponents with ease and gets his hands free time and time again, showing good core strength to stand up in tackles. Just a really clean player who when he gets going adds that touch of class to any side and is hard to stop.

#2 Joel Western (Claremont)

The West Australian was one of Team Dal Santo’s better players on the day, showing good composure at half-back under pressure. He did go forward at times but looked more rushed going inside 50 with the odd turnover from a quick snap. He had a shot on goal but the kick went out on the full, and spent the second half in the defensive half of the ground, being a reliable player who picked up a number of touches back there trying to settle his team down.

#3 Corey Durdin (Central District)

The pocket rocket had some highlight plays to suggest he can be a damaging player when he is on, and generally used it pretty well despite not racking up a heap of it. He has that great burst of speed that can burn off opponents and showed it early running down the middle but unfortunately only had a one-on-three option to kick to, which he did pretty well to put it to his teammate’s advantage to at least nullify the contest. He almost kicked a dribbler goal late in the first term but just missed, then made up for it with a great outside-of-the-boot goal two minutes into the second term. Was quieter in the second half as Team Brown controlled possession in the front half, but the forward still had a lovely straight kick down the middle, and had a scoring chance in the final term but it hit the woodwork.

#4 Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges)

A quiet game by Parker after a big NAB League Grand Final the weekend before, and the increased pressure showed despite his best efforts. His first kick was perfect at half-back taking the risk with a pinpoint dagger to a teammate under pressure with centimetre perfect accuracy, but his risks also came unstuck by trying to get the ball in-board, but was intercepted by opposition players reading the play well, and then tried to use his jets to run down the middle, but was caught in doing so. An exciting player who is not afraid to take the game on, but it is a high-risk, high-reward style of play.

#5 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)

A solid game by the NAB League premiership player who was busy in all thirds of the ground. He used it well in the back half early in the match, seeming composed for his side and just settling down and releasing the pressure valve with safe kicks in defensive 50. When he went further up the ground he was able to set up his team going inside 50, winning more of the ball as the game went on. Macrae showed good hands under pressure in defence, but will thrive in the midfield next season.

#6 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons)

Quiet game in realistically what was his third elite level game since a long-term injury. He showed good strength early to get a handball away whilst being tackled in the middle, and had a shot on goal in the opening term but was run down inside 50 by Sam Collins before he could.

#7 Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)

Was one of the better Team Dal Santo players and when with time and space, knows how to use it. He was continually running along the wing pumping it inside 50, setting up scoring opportunities for his teammates. He got the ball to Oliver henry inside 50 and hit up Nathan O’Driscoll at half-forward, then had a couple of scoring chances himself with a bounding shot late in the second term and later on a flying shot on the goal but just missed both. When under pressure he rushed his kicks at time to try and get it forward, but was generally eye-catching and showed good strength around the stoppages.

#8 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth)

Spread well to win the ball in all thirds of the ground and found plenty of it, particularly early. He took a strong mark at half-forward in the first term and then won a lot of his touches at half-back as the game turned against his side. He would play the defensive side of the wing to mop up and kick long, providing a release option for his side going forward.

#9 Zac Dumesny (South Adelaide)

Did not win a heap of it but was fairly economical with his ball use. He had a quick handball whilst being tackled at half-forward, but was not so lucky when he tried to play on in a similar spot and was run down by Reef McInnes. Managed to hit-up Zavier Maher and Joel Western on the wing coming off half-back with neat passes in the second half as well.

#10 Jack Carroll (East Fremantle)

A quiet start but worked into it with a strong mark at half-back late in the second term and opened the game right up. Had a courageous marking attempt to spoil it away in the middle of the ground against Eddie Ford, then played in the forward half of the ground with midfield minutes in the second half. He fired a no-look handball out to space late in the third term for a teammate to run onto at the centre stoppage, then proceeded to find plenty of the ball through the middle. He finished the game with a nice kick off the left on the run for a consolation goal midway through the last quarter.

#16 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)

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

#17 Lachlan Jones (Woodville-West Torrens)

The strong bodied Jones is a Port Adelaide NGA prospect who has had a good year for Woodville-West Torrens, looking most at home in defence. He was strong over the ball and made good decisions with ball in hand.

#18 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)

The talented Geelong Falcon who is the younger brother of rising Cats’ defender Jack Henry showed plenty of his talent in what was a hard day for the Team Dal Santo forwards. He was still able to catch the eye; he hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a quality intercept mark in the goal square showing his speed and quick decision making. Henry was strong overhead and clean at ground level but he also did the what was required defensively as well with some good tackles and smothers, he looks to be one of the most dangerous forward prospects in the 2020 draft.

#19 Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions Academy)

The Brisbane Lions academy prospect showed his class on the wing moving well through traffic and sending the ball well inside 50 on his long left boot. What also impressed was his strong marking ability and he looks a good prospect as a tall wingman and was hard not top notice with the blonde hair and the way he moved through congestion to deliver the ball.

#20 Brodie Lake (Northern Territory/Peel Thunder)

The Peel Thunder prospect did not get a lot of the ball but he still caught the eye with some nice plays where he got to showcase his athleticism. Lake impressed down back with his kicking and speed and willingness to attack the contest. With his willingness to use his speed to both run with the ball and spoil he looks like the type of defender who can play on talls and smalls while also providing rebound.

#21 Alex Davies (Gold Coast SUNS Academy)

The Gold Coast academy prospect was one of Team Dal Santo’s better performers going through the midfield and winning plenty of the ball especially early. He is a nice size as a modern day tall midfielder and he had no trouble winning first possession and dishing it out to his runners. He kicked a lovely goal in the last quarter under pressure he was able to cleanly pickup and quickly kick a nice running goal.

#22 Heath Chapman (West Perth)

The talented Chapman has had a strong year for his club West Perth and playing as a tall defender for Team Dal Santo he did some nice things especially late in the game. Chapman had a good couple of minutes taking a strong intercept mark before the ball came back in once again where he span out of trouble, showing his athleticism.

#31 Josh Green (GWS GIANTS Academy)

Green is a solid and strong player already and you could see it in the way he played. The Giants academy player and younger brother of Top 10 prospect for this year Tom Green shares a lot of physical traits with his brother but is more of a key position type with his strong body and marking ability. He converted a nice goal after a fantastic chase down tackle in the last quarter.

#32 Jackson Callow (Tasmania)

The strong bodied key position forward had a solid game showing he didn’t just rely on his size to take marks to kick his goals as he gathered a loose ball and kicked a lovely snap goal in the second quarter. He was moved to defence in the second half and looked better as the game went on taking a nice intercept mark in the last quarter, Callow looks to be the leading Tasmanian prospect for the 2020 draft.

#33 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)

Lord did not get a lot of supply playing as a key forward for Team Dal Santo but the Sandringham prospect still showed some nice things. Lord showed good athleticism and looked comfortable with ball in hand up the ground in transition showing he isn’t just a forward half player, laid a good tackle in the first quarter as well showing good aggression.

#34 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons)

Brand played his usual role that he did for Calder Cannons all year playing a dour role down back. The Essendon NGA prospect took a few nice intercept marks showing he was not afraid to come off his opponent and his long kicking was always an asset. Brand also showed he was good at ground level as well with a nice trap to pickup the ball in defence under heavy pressure and clear the ball out of the area.

#36 Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons)

The brother of 2018 Number 1 pick Sam Walsh played well in the ruck and was not afraid to give a good contest. The Falcon’s decision making with the ball was slow early but he did not let that get him down kicking a goal roving a contest right on the line which was odd for a ruckman to do to say the least. Walsh had a nice moment in the last quarter roving his own hitout and sending the ball long inside 50.

#37 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens)

The other big Henry to ruck for Team Dal Santo – Smith actually showed more up forward with a strong contested mark and set shot goal in the first quarter. The Woodville-West Torrens prospect, as good as he looked overhead, also had a great pickup in the middle of the ground which was excellent for a 200-plus cm player and if he could improve his aggression in general he could prove to be a hard player to stop at the next level.

Next year’s stars to strut stuff on AFL Grand Final Day

NEXT year’s top draft prospects will once again get the chance to impress recruiters and stand out in front of AFL fans in a curtain raiser to the 2019 AFL Draft Final. Last year Oakleigh Chargers’ Matt Rowell was named best on ground in the Under-17 All Stars game and has emerged as the front runner for pick one in this year’s draft. The game pits the 48 highest rated available players against each other in mixed teams named after AFL stars, Nick Dal Santo and Jonathan Brown. Coached by fellow former AFL players, NAB AFL Academy Head Coach Luke Power (Team Brown) and Vic Country Under-18 coach Leigh Brown (Team Dal Santo), the players will get a taste of what their future could hold before the elite level’s most prestigious match of the season.

Among the names who have already shown promising signs throughout either the AFL Under-16 Championships or AFL Under-18 Championships over the past few years, are Oakleigh Chargers pair Will Phillips and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, West Adelaide’s Riley Thilthorpe and Glenelg’s Luke Edwards, Murray Bushrangers’ Elijah Hollands and Sydney Swans Academy’s Braeden Campbell who represent Team Brown. For Team Dal Santo, Central District’s Corey Durdin, North Launceston’s Jackson Callow, Geelong Falcons’ Tanner Bruhn, Sydney Swans Academy’s Errol Gulden, Perth’s Nathan O’Driscoll and Northern Territory’s Brodie Lake.

In terms of state-by-state representation, Victoria leads the way with 21 players – 11 for Vic Metro and 10 for Vic Country – ahead of South Australia and Western Australia (both nine). Queensland (four) has the most of the Allied states, with NSW/ACT (three) and Tasmania and Northern Territory (two each). Indidivdual clubs with multiple players are Geelong Falcons and Oakleigh Chargers (four each), while Brisbane Lions Academy, Woodville-West Torrens, Sandringham Dragons and Perth all have three representatives.

Team Brown:

Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans/NSW-ACT)
Taj Schofield (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions/Queensland)
Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions/Queensland)
Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
Sam Collins (North Hobart/Tasmania)
Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Blake Morris (Subiaco/Western Australia)
Joel Jeffrey (Wanderers/Northern Territory)
James Borlase (Sturt/South Australia)
Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Team Dal Santo:

Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans/NSW-ACT)
Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)
Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)
Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
Zac Dumesny (South Adelaide/South Australia)
Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
Lachlan Jones (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions/Queensland)
Brodie Lake (Southern Districts/Northern Territory)
Alex Davies (Gold Coast SUNS/Queensland)
Josh Green (GWS GIANTS/NSW-ACT)
Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
Jackson Callow (North Launceston/Tasmania)
Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
Nikolas Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
Henry Smith (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

WAFL Colts weekly wrap: Royals rise to second with win over South Fremantle

WE have finally arrived in the final month of the regular season. While the top five has been decided, jostling between the teams will be fascinating to observe. Just half a game separated second and fifth on the ladder meaning no team could afford a off day otherwise they could quickly slip down the ladder which could prove pivotal come finals time.

WAFL Colts wrap – Round 17

East Perth 10.12 (72) def. South Fremantle 5.7 (37)

East Perth continued their fine stretch of form by defeating a gallant South Fremantle by 35 points at Leederville Oval on Saturday morning.

It was the tale of two teams going in opposite directions. East Perth had won five of their past six games and were a premiership dark horse, while the Bulldogs had lost five on the bounce and were sitting last on the ladder. But the Royals knew every game from now was massively important.

It was an open beginning to the match with the ball moving freely to either end but the pressure from both defences being at an extremely high level. The home side were beginning to pepper the goals but a breakthrough was still to come as we ticked past the 20 minute mark. Eventually, the perseverance of the Royals paid off as Sam Van Diemen kicked the Royals’ first goal from 40 metres. That was soon followed by a major to Harley Sparks and the Royals had a 15-point break at quarter time. For all their endeavour, South Fremantle were yet to register a score in the first 25 minutes

That soon changed when Eric Botha converted from close range after some fine work further up the ground. South Fremantle were certainly making East Perth work hard across the ground and it had turned into a attritional battle. After many missed chances, East Perth finally kicked their first for the term courtesy of quick hands by Sebit Kuek and finished by Max Fabre. But to the Dogs credit, they were committed to give their higher placed opponents a real contest. A kick by the exciting bottom ager Ira Jetta found fellow youngster Aiden Hall and he duly converted cutting the margin to 12 points at the long break.

The Royals had 41 more disposals (175-134), four more inside 50s (24-20) and seven more scoring shots (10-3) but the visitors were well and truly in the contest. However, they would have to find a way to curve the accumulative talents of Harley Sparks who had amassed 25 disposals, four tackles and four inside 50s. Ira Jetta had shown flashes of his brilliance with 10 disposals and four inside 50s for the visitors.

Kyle Robinson gave the Royals a perfect start to the second half and that was soon followed by one to Luke Furlong and within a blink of a eye the margin of the game which was 24 points. Furlong then kicked his second on the run and the game was well and truly on East Perth’s terms now.

South Freo needed to find something quickly if they were not to be blown away and Jetta delivered a pin-point pass to Shannon Neale who converted truly. However bottom-ager Luke Lombardi kicked a fine goal on the run from just inside 50 in response to give the Royals back their five-goal lead. The Royals were not at their free-flowing best, but still were doing enough to keep a committed opponent in check.

Kuek started the final term in fine fashion kicking a goal from the boundary. Botha then responded for the Bulldogs as they continued their committed performance. Some smart work by Neale on the goal line give him his second and brought the margin back to 27 points. It was soon three in a row to the Bulldogs when Jermaine Pickett scored his first and they were getting full reward for their effort. Time was against the Bulldogs in terms of producing an inspiring comeback, but you could certainly see the confidence ooze out of their play.

Despite all their efforts the final say in this game went to the home team. Firstly, Robinson mopped up own crumb and snapped truly from 15 metres. And with the siren blowing in the background, Kuek put a cherry on top of the cake with a goal from 45 metres and he was duly mobbed by his teammates. It was not their best performance this year, but these are the games that really decide whether you have the will to get yourself over the line.

When you take scoring into the equation (22-7), you may think that it was fortunate that South Fremantle did not receive a real belting. But on the other hand, the visitors took it into their 50 on 37 occasions, only five fewer than their opponents. The lack of a third forward that could help out Botha and Shannon Neale really hurt. The snakes and ladders of the top five see East Perth take advantage of some of their rivals misfortune this round and work their way to second position. It is the highest they have been placed since the first week of the season.

Star of the day.

When you have a season-high 47 disposals, there can be only one name with that man being Harley Sparks. The 17-year-old (turns 18 in September) has a terrific ability to get to every contest and is able to distribute the ball to the outside runners. While he could be excused for dropping off in the second half after he amassing 25 disposals in the first half, Sparks certainly kept running to the very end and produced 13 touches in the last quarter. If he continues in the same vein and has a strong finals campaign, the midfielder may well be a smart smoky pick around draft time.

Other notables

Adam Boules produced a valuable contribution in midfield for the Royals with 27 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, and five inside 50s. Liam Dellamarta was accomplished with 26 disposals, nine marks, five tackles and five inside 50s. While Ruckman Josh Ladhams was colossal around the ground taking strong marks across half back and in the forward line. The accomplished big man had 19 disposals, nine marks and 36 hitouts. For the Bulldogs, Jack Musika never stopped working hard in his usual fashion and had 22 disposals and 11 marks, while George Wessels worked himself into the contest and had 22 disposals, eight tackles and seven marks.

Peel Thunder 12.4 (76) def. Claremont 9.6 (60)

Peel Thunder showed they are still the team to beat in the 2019 Colts competition after recording a 16-point victory over Claremont at David Grays Arena on Saturday morning.

Peel were desperate to taste that winning feeling again after falling to defeat for only the second time this season in their last game against East Fremantle. Meanwhile, Claremont had won four in a row and wanted to cut the margin between first and second to just one game, while inflicting a mental blow on their opponents.

The home team did not trail throughout the contest and set up their victory in the first term kicking six goals to three with Jackson Knight kicking three of them. While Claremont trimmed the margin back to 16 points at the long break, they seemed to be always playing catchup. Ben Middleton kicked two goals in the third term as they pushed the margin out to 35 points with one quarter to play. Although the Tigers never gave up on the course, kicking three goals to none in the final 25 minutes, it was little more than consolation as Peel got some revenge for their round six defeat.

Tyrone Thorne can normally effect the nature of the contest with his goalkicking and defensive pressure but today the state/U18s player got his hands on the ball plenty of times picking up 25 disposals, five tackles and three marks. Knight was influential when the game was on the line and he ended up with a fantastic all-round stat line of 15 disposals, six inside 50s, five tackles, five marks and three goals. The steady hand of Bradley Oldfield was also important with 24 disposals, six marks and two goals. For the Tigers who slip to third with the defeat, Jack Cooley and Jye Clark each had 29 disposals.

East Fremantle 11.10.(76) def. West Perth 8.11.(59)

The outstanding late season form of East Fremantle continued as they knocked off another finals bound team in West Perth to the tune of 17 points at Joondalup Arena on Saturday morning.

The Sharks while out of finals contention were keen on playing the spoilers role having defeated Swan Districts and Peel in consecutive weeks. Meanwhile, West Perth were coming off the bye having lost last time out against rivals East Perth which was their first defeat in five games.

The Sharks displayed their A-game from the opening quarter, kicking five goals to one and going on with the job in the second term extending their lead to 39 points at the long break. Although the Falcons kicked seven goals to three in the second half, they did not get closer than 16 points.

The WA state 18s title winning quartet of Chad Warner, Trent Rivers, Jai and Luke Jackson were elite again for the Sharks combining for 114 disposals and five goals between them. Luke Jackson gave his on-ballers great service with 36 hit-outs. Bottom age talent Logan Foley competed well for the Falcons with 12 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and two goals.

Subiaco 15.8(98) def Perth 6.4(40)

Subiaco produced one of their best all-round performances of the season with a 58-point win over Perth at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday afternoon.

This clash was all about pride with both teams out of finals contention. Perth especially would have wanted to show something after the ignominy of a goalless game against Claremont two weeks ago. However that drought continued in the first quarter as Perth was kept scoreless while the Lions put on four goals. The second term was more even with three goals each, but that trend suited the Lions as they led by 25 points at the long break. The second half saw the visitors kick eight goals to three and seal their fifth win of the season.

The margin could have been even more when you take into account that the Lions had 45 more hitouts (70-25), 30 more inside 50s (53-23) and 13 more scoring shots (23-10). The Lions duo of Abraham Clinch and Ben Golding have been prolific for the reigning premiers throughout the 2018 season. Again they were magnificent with the duo combining for 60 disposals and 17 tackles while Clinch also kicked two goals. Kane Foley was a terrific target up forward with three goals. Meanwhile for the Demons, Hamish McFarlane made the most of limited opportunities with three goals while Nathan O’ Driscoll was terrific and tireless in a well beaten side with 29 disposals and ten tackles.

Scouting notes: U16 Division 1 – Round 2

VIC Metro and Western Australia both enjoyed impressive wins in a day of hard-fought Under 16 Division 1 contests in extremely trying conditions at Southport. Michael Alvaro was on hand to provide his opinion-based notes on the outstanding players from all four sides.


Vic Metro vs. South Australia

Vic Metro:

#1 Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)

The Oakleigh product started well, showing off his athleticism and explosiveness in traffic. Despite only being 171cm tall, Dib proved to be one of the stronger players around the contest, converting his ball-prizing will to hard tackles when not in possession. Dib accumulated well in the first half, moving with good agility at stoppages, moving this way and that to make room for clearances (four) and inside 50 balls (three). He almost found the goals with a couple of quick shots early, and had less of an impact after the main break.

#3 Henry Brown (Oakleigh Chargers)

Brown showed a good mix of ball winning in what is usually a mostly outside role on the wing. Like his Chargers teammate Youseph Dib, Brown played the conditions well to thrust the ball forward (four clearances and three inside 50s), with one kick finding Blake Howes inside 50 for his first goal. Brown did the tough stuff well in gathering his 18 disposals and was a solid contributor.

#6 Josh Ward (Northern Knights)

The Northern forward had an outstanding first quarter and was in everything within Metro’s attacking half. He first caught the eye with a spin out of trouble in the opening minutes and was simply cleaner than most others on the field in trying conditions. Ward found most of his 22 disposals early on and looked most dangerous when on the move, almost snapping a first quarter goal with a neat bit of play. He went on to move further afield and find the ball wherever he went, using the ball efficiently by foot with short, sharp kicks.

#8 Lachlan Brooks (Sandringham Dragons)

Arguably best afield, Brooks was another to impress with his clean hands and movement forward. He started with a strong pack mark from a kick-in and by winning possession around the stoppages, but really came to life after the main break with Metro’s only goals for the the second half. Starting in the centre bounce, Brooks won the first clearance of the third term and never looked back, winning six for the game and proving damaging with 20 of his 23 disposals coming by foot. He showed a great first five steps to break away and boot his first goal on the run, adding another in the final term by coming across to intercept a kick-in yet again and slot the resultant shot. Has some good burst and proved a shrewd addition to the Metro midfield.

#10 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers)

You would think that the conditions would not really suit Rankin’s game, but the half-back flanker still managed to show a bit of class. Taking on the designated kicking duties in the back half, Rankin often opted to go long, but also did some nice things in close – with a pretty clever look-away handball over his shoulder in the first term. He’s only slight, but Rankin also did well to win a couple of on-on-one duels and was effective in the air, while proving agile on the ground to get free and release by foot.

#11 Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges)

While Sonsie did not always get his typically damaging running game from stoppages going, he still found a good amount of ball and was efficient with it. He missed a set shot chance early, a checkside in the second term, and had another shot marked on the line, but wasn’t deterred as he went on to chain together some nice handballs in close and get Metro moving out of tight spaces. Sonsie is a real prime mover, so hopefully he can show off his skills in drier conditions later in the carnival, with clean pick-ups and reads off the packs a feature of his game.

#13 Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)

Benton made himself busy and came into the game with a good patch late in the second term, applying pressure and eventually earning a free kick to slot his lone goal for the game, while also missing another chance on the run shortly after. A dangerous feature in the forward half, Benton also finished the final quarter well with a brave mark on the 50-metre arc and with a clever steal to give Lachlan Brooks a chance on goal. Finished with 16 disposals, four marks, and three inside 50s to go with 1.2.

#14 Angus McLennan (Sandringham Dragons)

A handy point of difference in the Metro back six, McLennan was influential early alongside Lachlan Rankin in moving the ball efficiently from defence. He tends to find a lot of possession inside defensive 50 and shows great composure there, while also showing his aerial prowess with a couple of intercept marks in the second term. McLennan was fantastic in the final term, taking two solid grabs on the last line, outbodying an opponent in the defensive corridor, and getting on his bike to repel SA’s attacks to good effect.

#15 Joshua Goater (Calder Cannons)

This was far and away the best game I have seen from Goater, proving an absolute wall with his superior positioning in the back half. The Cannons product consistently popped up with overhead marks to cut of SA’s long bombs forward as he dominated the area a kick behind the play. He was an attacking rebounder too, moving past opponents and kicking long to keep Metro relevant on the attack for as long as possible. Finished with another big grab in the final term and should thrive in drier conditions and a role he looks comfortable in.

#17 Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)

The skipper battled hard through midfield to pick up a more unassuming 19 disposals than usual, unable to always provide his signature penetration on the outside. Sinn just finds the ball with ease and loves latching onto his left boot, bombing five clearances from congestion and breaching both arcs. He warmed to the contest to have a greater influence as it went on, adapting his game to convert his smart to tighter situations with a couple of clever handballs into space. A solid contributor, but can bring it to the next level.

#19 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons)

Howes was by no means one who was dominant throughout the game, but he popped up at the most important time with two goals in the second term to break the game open and put Metro ahead. Howes had an early chance to goal with a soccer from the goalsquare, but came alive with a purple patch that saw him convert a free kick and finish with absolute class on the run shortly after. Looks a pretty raw impact player at this stage, but always seems to find the goals.

#21 Tyreece Leiu (Eastern Ranges)

The strong Ranges midfielder did a lot of the grunt work through the engine room, leading his side for disposals with 24. While he does not always have the flashes of class that the likes of Sonsie and Sinn provide, Leiu thrived in the contested game and was prominent at the coalface. That makes him a good point of difference for Metro, and he should be able to match it with others in the NAB League given his already solid frame.

#23 Jed Rule (Oakleigh Chargers)

Rule is simply one of the better readers of the game in defence and used his nous to snuff out some dangerous SA attacks. He began with a sliding effort to intercept in the first term, backing it up with a more typical aerial clunk in the third and another terrific pack mark in the fourth. He also uses the ball really well for a taller player, making him the kind of modern defender that clubs love. Hardly made a mistake with his 17 disposals and five marks, and was as reliable as anyone.


South Australia:

#5 Isaiah Dudley (Central District)

Constantly looks like the busiest player on the field and was made to work up the field to have an impact. Dudley started with a few small glimpses of his usual self with a holding the ball tackle, high fly for a mark, and some clever touches to keep the ball in dispute. His agility in traffic again caused headaches for his opponents and allowed him to free himself for clean use, proving damaging in general play with repeat efforts in congestion. While he did not find the goals himself, Dudley did his best to create for others and made a sensational pass on the turn to find Jason Horne inside 50 as South Australia looked to charge, while also assisting a Morgan Ferres goal late on with a clever checkside under pressure.

#6 Lachlan Thomas (Sturt)

The conditions did not always allow for Thomas’ usual run and carry out of the defensive 50, but he still managed to breach the arc with almost half (six) of his 14 disposals. He always looked to gain distance when entrusted with the kick-ins, using the new play on rule to good effect and unleashing long kicks. His choice of kicks and opting for distance didn’t always pay off, particularly with a torpedo attempt in the second term, but you can’t fault his effort. Thomas is quick to release and makes his opponents do the same, applying good pressure around the ball in the back half.

#8 Cooper Murley (Norwood)

Murley was a great forward driver for SA through midfield, adding a bit of zip to a tough inside mix. He has the pace to hunt the ball and puts in a heap of efforts until he does just that, breaking with speed and delivering forward well. Murley is still pretty light-on, but showed good tenacity to hold on with his tackles, and took a brave mark in the third term. Was caught out on one occasion when looking to play on quickly, but was otherwise effective in doing so.

#11 Harry Tunkin (Glenelg)

Tunkin is one who makes up for a lack of height with heart, and showed that off the bat with a courageous effort under a high ball to earn a free kick in the opening term. He seems to thrive in contested situations and has a no-nonsense approach, hitting the contest when required and putting his body on the line. Mixed his hard edge with an ability to find the footy, racking up 19 disposals in a solid outing.

#17 Matthew Dnistriansky (Norwood)

A constant in the back half, Dnistriansky did well to remain a composed figure inside defensive 50 across the day. He has the happy knack of clearing his lines by foot, as shown with 14 of his 16 disposals being kicks, and repelled some good looking Metro attacks with apt rebounding.

#18 Tyson Coe (West Adelaide)

One who is actually an under-ager in this year’s competition – much like Roberts, Dudley, and Horne were in 2018 – as a 2004-birth. He still held his own around the stoppages with his decent frame for his age and did not fray from the contest, collecting 14 disposals and laying seven tackles. Should really benefit from the experience and will be one to watch for next year’s carnival if the form of the aforementioned three is anything to go by.

#19 Jason Thorne (South Adelaide)

The skipper put in a brave and workmanlike shift, initially in his usual midfield post and later up either end. He started with good intent, laying a big tackle at one of the earliest stoppages, following up with strong clearance work and ball winning in-close. Thorne showed he has the finesse to match his grunt work, lowering his eyes beautifully to find a teammate going inside 50 in the second term. He went on to spend some time down back after the main break, throwing his weight around down there and rebounding with clearing kicks. He copped a heavy knock in the same term and spend some time on the pine, before getting straight back into the thick of it. He then moved forward and was sensational in SA’s final push, winning a free kick deep to slot his only goal for the game and getting into position twice more to mark inside the arc. Unfortunately could not help his side over the line, but was a top effort.

#20 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide)

Roberts was arguably the best afield with his 31 disposals, five marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and one goal. He just seemed to be everywhere and won the ball in all areas of the ground – dominating at stoppages and finding space well forward of centre to make his threat two-pronged. He booted his side’s first goal of the game after clunking a nice mark deep inside 50 and remained relevant when resting forward, continually popping up with marks around half forward to lock the ball in. He may have been playing to the conditions, but many of Roberts’ kicks from the contest went long off a couple of steps, where he would otherwise wheel around further and find a more direct target. Still a dominant game and one who is shaping as South Australia’s most valuable players.

#23 Morgan Ferres (Sturt)

Was far from a massive game from Ferres, but he remained a dangerous prospect for SA up forward and provided a target in tough conditions for key position players. Could have bagged his first goal in the second term after winning a holding free inside 50 but missed the shot, later making up for it with somewhat of a consolation goal via the brilliance of Isaiah Dudley. Has the potential to do more as he has already shown, and should benefit from drier conditions in Round 3.

Vic Country vs. Western Australia

Vic Country:

#2 Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons)

The Country co-captain built into the game slowly but eventually found his rhythm to contribute class and clean use. A usually efficient kick, Chesser unleashed long when on the the move to clear pockets of congestion and opposition set-ups at either end. His run was also effective as a point of difference, baulking an opponent on the way to breaking inside 50 in the second term in a play more suited to dry weather footy. The Melbourne Grammar boarder ended up with a very respectable 21 disposals and two tackles, with his influence felt across the field.

#3 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)

The hard-nosed midfielder came off the ground as near-on the muddiest player of the lot, such was his desperation to find the footy. Thriving in the conditions with his contested game, Hobbs collected 29 disposals, laid 10 tackles and rebounded four times in what was a workmanlike display, consistent throughout the four quarters. Hobbs will his way to the ball and through traffic time after time, running through whoever was in his way on path to his goal. With his contested game down pat and overhead marking a solid added trait, Hobbs can work on finding better targets in congestion, with much of his disposal at the stoppages being long kicks to no one in particular. Is still such a competitor, and one of Country’s best two or three thus far.

#5 Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power)

The Gippsland product just seems to find the ball unassumingly, collecting 20 disposals and five rebound 50s in another solid shift. Moschetti positioned well behind the ball early to mark on the wing and began to accumulate the ball forward of the defensive 50 arc in the second term. His diving mark to intercept in the following quarter was a highlight, and he consistently has a say in proceedings by getting to as many contests as he can from behind the ball.

#8 Cooper Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers)

The Pioneers defender provided good spark moving forward, chiming in with a couple of handy plays throughout the day. He started with a slide to win the ball and kick to Ben Hobbs to show good awareness, while going on to influence proceedings in the third term with neat disposal and a nice contested win to rebound from the back half. Hamilton began the final term where he had left off with a brave take under pressure and handball out to Joshua Rachele, finishing with 14 disposals, five tackles and two rebound 50s.

#9 Hugh Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers)

The more stocky of the two Hamiltons, Hugh made his impact up forward. Was a little shaky early on with a set shot that went out on the full, but had some nice moments in the second term. The first was a strong one-on-one win at half forward, and the second was a really clean pick-up to show his quality under pressure. Hamilton went on to finish with 16 disposals and four inside 50s after a good middle period of the game.

#10 Benjamin Green (Gippsland Power)

Complimented Hobbs well in midfield with his own contested ball winning, and made an immediate impact with the assist for Josh Rentsch’s first goal with a long kick forward. A regular at the centre bounces and stoppages, Green found a decent amount of ball with 18 disposals and three clearances, while also having an influence in his side’s forward movement with six inside 50s. Capped his game with a slow snap that dribbled over the line just in time at the start of the third term and played an important role.

#11 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)

Macdonald was again one of Country’s most damaging forward movers, providing a reliable and creative link into attacking 50 with clean use, while finding a good amount of ball to make an impact. He is zippy when weaving a way through traffic and pops up in little spurts, but his haul of 24 disposals suggests he is finding some solid consistency.

#13 Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)

The Country leader was absolutely outstanding with the game in the balance and very nearly proved to be a match-winner, falling just short with his chances to do so. Rachele was impactful early on with his nous around the contest and presence of mind under pressure, but really came to life in an spurring second half performance. He showed rare vision to give Blake Scott a chance on goal in the opening stages of the third quarter and began to become more prominent as a clearance winner at the centre bounces. His flair began to take over in the following term as he tried to inspire his side, tackling beautifully in the corridor before hitting the post with what could well have been the game-sealing goal. It wasn’t to be, but Rachele had a game-high 32 disposals to go with six marks, four inside 50s, four rebound 50s, and 0.3.

#16 Lincoln White (Bendigo Pioneers)

White was another to spur his teammates on with a very influential purple patch, with most of his impact felt in the third term. The Pioneers product was able to hit the scoreboard in quick succession, first slipping an opponent to finish well and then sharply snatch the ball off hands to finish on the bounce and give a big ‘c’mon’ cry. He almost gifted Judson Clarke another goal straight after, and was a slippery opponent inside 50 for the WA defenders all day with his 21 disposals and three inside 50s.

#27 Josh Rentsch (GWV Rebels)

One of the better big-men on the ground in the early stages, Rentsch looked like one who could break the game open as he bagged two first-quarter goals with some added time deep forward. The Penhurst product was strong one-on-one, marking in the opening five minutes and putting through the resultant shot. He would back it up with a juggled attempt and second conversion later in the term before somewhat fading out of the game. He almost had the chance to produce another couple of shots but had delivery fall just short of him on the lead, instead getting the ball back up to smaller players off the deck. In tough conditions for key position players, Rentsch definitely showed signs.


Western Australia:

#7 Judd McVee (East Fremantle)

Aptly named given the stamp a certain Judd made in WA, McVee was fantastic through midfield and finished with a team-high 23 disposals to go with seven tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds. The quick but diminutive mover crashed in to win his own ball and zip away from traffic in the same motion, picking up from where Lochlan Paton left off early on. He was a consistent figure throughout and provided important spark, despite making a couple of turnovers by foot. His best moment was a lightning quick gather on defensive wing in the third term, and he looks an exciting player.

#8 Lochlan Paton (West Perth)

Paton was arguably the best player on the ground up to quarter time, when a hand injury became apparent. He is another midfielder who isn’t massively built, but was so hard at it and won his own ball at will. His evasion in traffic and breaking speed proved troublesome, with his work rate around the stoppages more than handy given the conditions. Hopefully we will get another glimpse of Paton before the carnival ends after his day was cut short, with plenty to like out of his first two outings.

#9 Max Chipper (Swan Districts)

Nicknamed ‘Chip’, the Swan Districts wingman was poised to have a big influence with his poise and class around the ball. Chipper is just so calm and clean in possession, but also proved brave with an intercept play in the second term to cause a turnover. His cool head would help WA prevail in a 3v1 contest, working out what could have been a disaster with a snap over the oncoming Country player to see Saverio Marafioti into an open goal. Finished with 17 disposals and nine tackles in a slightly different role, with much of the play occurring between the arcs.

#10 Mitchell Brown (South Fremantle)

You had to watch closely to truly appreciate Brown’s output, with a lot of his work done in-close as he won 17 disposals, six clearances and four inside 50s. Getting involved as part of WA’s usual midfield group, Brown showed he simply knows how to find the ball and did so with ease throughout the day. He began to find it in more open areas as the game progressed, finding ways to send his side inside 50 while also pitching in up the other end to save a certain Country goal with fantastic desperation alongside Blake Morris in defensive 50. A reliable prospect, and played his role well.

#12 Jake Littleton (East Perth)

The WA outside mover was not always in the game, but seems to chime in with handy touches and neat passages of play. While he is often a handy driver forward off a wing, Littleton showed good work rate to get back and close in on a taller Country opponent in the third term to prevent an easy chance on goal. He did a little bit of everything throughout the game with 15 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, and four rebound 50s, looking very efficient with ball in hand and opting for high percentage short kicks.

#18 Saverio Marafioti (West Perth)

Marafioti is very much a raw prospect, but there is a lot to like about him as an exciting forward. He absolutely burst out of the blocks with an impactful first half, popping up with a couple of touches at half-forward in a good amount of space. He found the goals with a soccered attempt early in the piece, and booted another major after again getting free out the back and latching onto a clever Max Chipper kick. While he faded out of the game a touch and gave away a couple of 50-metre penalties, Marafioti was a key figure in setting up the win early.

#30 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts)

The Swan District product proved very effective with his positioning behind the ball and ability to intercept, popping up in the first term with a sliding mark deep inside defensive 50. Bazzo would again position well to cut off another Country kick in the same term, going on to provide some attack with after cutting off the play with long rebounds. He finished with a very serviceable 15 disposals and five marks as a key figure behind the ball.

#32 Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont)

Van Rooyen caught the eye in the opening stages with a strong bit of play to clunk a mark on the second attempt, and he became a useful part of the midfield rotation with his high work rate both ways. The Claremont youngster is already a good size and looks able to play multiple roles, adapting well in this game to have 17 disposals, five marks, nine tackles and a goal – which came in the second term. He tried to cap off his game with another in the last with a torpedo attempt from range after sliding well for a mark, but fell short.

#38 Kade Dittmar (East Perth)

Dittmar was productive around the contests all day, finishing with 22 disposals, nine tackles, four clearances, and four inside 50s as one who pushed forward well from the midfield rotation. He did well to also pull in a couple of marks early on, flying to take one overhead and proving strong to hold another one-on-one. Dittmar had a set shot touched after following up from a short set shot from that second mark, but really got involved forward of centre in a strong second term. Is one who has really grown when donning representative colours.

#39 Luke Polson (Peel Thunder)

One of the heroes of the day, Polson booted the winning goal after earning a holding the ball free kick with just over a minute left in the game – coolly slotting the set shot and celebrating joyously with his teammates. Earlier, he took a solid grab backing up in the first term, but missed a shot gifted to him via a 50-metre penalty in the same play. Playing in defence during the first half, Polson read the ball well in flight to intercept in tandem with Blake Morris before moving into the ruck. He moves like a fourth midfielder in that position at 194cm, following up well at ground level and playing his part. He finished with 16 disposals, 14 hitouts and the winning goal in a great all-round display.

#41 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle)

One of the rotating rucks, Neale was initially slow to build into the game but warrants a mention for standing up in the all-important dying stages. He was frighteningly good at ground level for a 198cm player, scooping the ball up off the deck and dishing off like his outside movers normally would. Neale positioned so well behind the ball to lock it in on two occasions when WA finally got forward in the final term, taking a mark in one of the contests he made. Ended up with a pretty handy stat-line, collecting 12 disposals, five inside 50s and 0.2 while also having five tackles and 13 hitouts.

#42 Blake Morris (Subiaco)

Morris was an absolute wall in defence for the winners, mixing a strong marking ability and superior reading of the play with desperate ground level work to keep Country at bay. He had already showed his knack for marking overhead with a slippery ball, and did so again in this game with four very impressive marks across the day. While he gives up a massive amount of size against key position opponents at 187cm and 68kg, Morris is all heart and makes up for it with his speed and judgement. Once he built confidence, Morris began to attack more with his intercept possessions, but never strayed from his primary role of covering deep in defence. He was so composed on the last line and stopped a couple of certain goals with the sheer will to get back and stall until helped arrived. Super impressive, and looks like a modern prototypical defender who plays well above his height.

Black Ducks continue to break Vic Country hearts

WESTERN Australia’s Under 16s took a leaf out of the book written by their Under 18 counterparts, breaking Vic Country hearts with a hotly contested two-point win, claimed by a Luke Polson goal late in the piece.

Country broke to a slight lead after a close opening term, with either side enjoying bursts of momentum to each put two goals on the board. Saverio Marafioti was electric early in the forward half, booting WA’s first goal and having a hand in their second when he bombed long to a wide open Ethan Regan inside 50. Two majors from Country big-man Josh Rentsch split them and put his side just ahead at the first break, finishing well given the conditions. With arguably the best afield player to that point, Lochlan Paton, in the rooms with a hand injury at the first break, WA needed a big lift to get back on top. Paton would come back on (and off again) despite still being troubled by that hand, and the Sandgropers soared back into the lead in a quarter played mostly in their attacking half. With fluency in ball movement hard to come by on a muddy deck, the Black Ducks’ pressure boded well for locking the ball in – with Jacob van Rooyen and Marafioti the beneficiaries in claiming the term’s only majors. The less-than-ideal scoreless quarter for Country could have been a touch different had a couple of kicks to Rentsch not fallen short, and if Blake Morris had not been so strong in the air and at ground level for WA inside defensive 50. The saving grace for the Victorians was a half time margin of just 11 points, looking manageable as conditions cleared and the ground began to dry.

It proved telling as Vic Country replied in almost identical fashion to how WA had originally broken away, keeping them goalless in the third term while piling on three goals of their own. While Ben Green’s long-range snap rolled over the line to get Country going, Lincoln White and Josh Rachele proved the true catalysts for Country’s change in fortunes – with the former snaring two terrific goals and the latter getting involved in everything through midfield to push his side forward. The Victorians entered the final break seven points in front, but the Black Duckss would kick to the scoring end to finish. They took full advantage in a tense closing term, with the ball locked into Country’s forward 50 for what seemed like an eternity after Regan booted his second goal early on. With Country unable to capitalise and only adding four behinds with all their possession, WA would go up the other end and snatch victory as Polson goaled with 90 seconds left on the clock – as if it were out of a script.

The aptly named Judd McVee (23 disposals, seven tackles) was fantastic through midfield, picking up from where Paton had left off. Kade Dittmar was not far behind with his 22 disposals, nine tackles and four clearances, with WA’s big men providing a huge edge. Morris (16 disposals, six rebound 50s), Polson (16 disposals, 14 hitouts, one goal) and Shannon Neale (12 disposals, 13 hitouts, five inside 50s) all covered the ground beautifully and had real presence.

For Country, Rachele almost proved a match-winner – leading all-comers with a classy 32 disposals, six marks and 0.3, while Ben Hobbs worked tirelessly for 29 disposals and 10 tackles. Connor Macdonald (24 disposals, three inside 50s) proved a good forward runner, with White (21 disposals, two goals) dangerous inside 50 and Campbell Chesser (21 disposals, 10 tackles) solid.

 

VIC COUNTRY 2.3 | 2.4 | 5.8 | 5.12 (42)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 2.1 | 4.4 | 4.7 | 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

VC: J. Rentsch 2, L. White 2, B. Green.
WA: S. Marafioti 2, E. Regan 2, J. van Rooyen, L. Polson.

ADC BEST:

VC: J. Rachele, B. Hobbs, B. Green, C. Chesser, C. Macdonald
WA: J. McVee, B. Morris, K. Dittmar, S. Marafioti, S. Neale