Tag: St Kilda

2021 AFLW Preview: St Kilda Saints

ST KILDA’S inaugural AFL Women’s campaign produced some notable highlights as the Saints brought football back to Moorabbin, with solid building blocks now in place for an improved second season. Another promising draft crop and handy additions during trade period will only add to the Saints’ emerging squad, which will again look to knock on the door of finals in 2021.

2020 RECAP

As one of the better performed expansion sides, St Kilda finished fifth in the stronger Conference A at 2-4. Losses in the first two rounds were quickly forgotten as the Saints upset foundation club, Melbourne by five points to open Round 3, making for a memorable maiden win. A heartbreaking one-point loss to Fremantle followed, but showed that the Saints could hang with the best on their day.

They would be rewarded for competitive form with another victory in Round 6 after keeping Richmond goalless, capping off a very respectable first crack at the top flight. Leading goalkicker and joint best and fairest, Caitlin Greiser was the sole Saint to earn All Australian honours, also finishing one spot ahead of fellow first year gun Georgia Patrikios (equal-third) in the Rising Star voting.

NEW FACES

Having already formed a solid foundational core, the Saints picked up another couple of established players to accompany their exciting draft hand. The dynamic Bianca Jakobsson was a terrific coup, but has recently undergone surgery to repair a broken collarbone sustained in a scratch match on the eve of season proper. Jayde Van Dyk was the other trade acquisition, set to help shore up the defence after crossing from Carlton.

Tyanna Smith headlined St Kilda’s draft effort and will likely prove an absolute steal at pick six. The Dandenong Stingrays graduate adds to the Saints’ exciting young midfield with her searing pace and capacity to play both inside and outside. Father-daughter selection Alice Burke was another value pick at 24, again bolstering her new side’s engine room with toughness and great tackling pressure.

The versatile Renee Saulitis was another shrewd selection, able to add some spark going forward and allow the Saints’ second year guns to perhaps spend more time in midfield. Southern Saints recruit Jacqueline Vogt rounded out St Kilda’s draft hand, with Tahlia Meyer taken after the fact and Jess Matin getting her chance in place of Irishwoman, Clara Fitzpatrick.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Prized draftee, Smith is one to watch for St Kilda, especially after the level of performance from the likes of Patrikios, Molly McDonald, and Isabella Shannon in their debut seasons. Smith represents the next generation of talent which has taken over the competition of late and only adds to St Kilda’s exciting young depth. Her athletic traits blend nicely with high-level skill and good balance in midfield, pointing towards the kind of upside which could see her prove to be one of the top two players of her draft class.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

The Saints are fierce and love to compete. Headed by a strong, established leadership group and backed by competitive youngsters with plenty of class, the Saints are well balanced in terms of their squad profile and have plenty of players who can come in and push highly-fancied opposition. Peta Searle‘s side suffered a season-high loss of 25 points in 2020, while also going down by just 13 points to the reigning premier and a single score to the undefeated Fremantle. If they can continue to rattle established teams and lean on the experience of year one, these Saints could well exceed expectations.

QUESTION MARK

A relatively heavy turnover of players means the Saints will be tested for squad cohesion and depth, but they have proven strong in the face of such challenges thus far. Scoring may be an area of concern with not much in the way of firepower aside from Greiser and the 30-mark cracked just once last season – against the winless Richmond. Kicking a winning score will be key to not just competing with the top sides, but getting the better of them on any given day.

FINAL WORD

St Kilda showed up in its maiden AFL Women’s season and proved plenty of doubters wrong with strong performances each week. A couple of wins is a solid base to work off and notching at least one more in 2021 would be a decent pass mark with finals contention in the Saints’ sights. Should they again bind together to overcome injury disruptions, this exciting young unit could cause a few big upsets.

Image Credit: AFL Photos (Retrieved from St Kilda FC)

2020 AFL Draft recap: St Kilda Saints

ST KILDA is a side looking to crack the top four and after climbing all the way to sixth at the end of this year’s home-and-away fixtures, the Saints are truly ascending. Having recently targeted established, mature-age talent to accelerate their development, St Kilda has hardly been the most active club come draft time over the last few years. That theme continued in 2020, but handy key position depth at either end sees the Saints’ squad filling out quite nicely in anticipation of a top four tilt.

ST KILDA

National Draft:
#26 Matthew Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#45 Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Rookies:
Nil.

St Kilda entered this year’s National Draft at the end of round one, selecting Calder Cannons graduate Matthew Allison with Pick 26. The 194cm utility is somewhat of a prospective selection having only shown glimpses of top-end potential across his 10 NAB League outings as a bottom-ager. But some strong marking displays during the 2020 preseason put Allison’s name on the map, pegging him as a potential bolter after earning a National Draft Combine invite. He blends aerial prowess with strong running capacity and looks like developing into a key forward, but can also roll further afield onto the wing.

Tom Highmore was the only other new Saint selected across both the National and Rookie drafts, making for a shrewd choice at Pick 45. The 22-year-old defender was overlooked as a GWS Academy product in his draft year, but has since put plenty of runs on the board in the senior NEAFL and SANFL competitions. His move to South Adelaide this year proved fruitful, as the 192cm interceptor quickly established himself as a premier player in the league. He is a strong marker who proves just as capable with ball in hand and promises to add great long-term depth to St Kilda’s backline. He should push for selection in 2021 and is a pick which suits St Kilda’s upward trend.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Saints draftee Matthew Allison dons his new colours | Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft Preview: St Kilda Saints

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

Next under the microscope is St Kilda, a side which returned to finals action in 2020 under much loved coach, Brett Ratten. The Saints were again busy during trade period, bringing in a strong raft of readymade players through the door; headlined by the free agency coup of Brad Crouch, trade for Jack Higgins, and surprise recruitment of formerly retired defender James Frawley. Having addressed immediate needs for contested midfield support and key defensive depth, the Saints are well poised to challenge the top four in 2021 and can add long-term depth at the draft. Having only entered the equation at Pick 52 last year, St Kilda managed to hold onto a first rounder this time around, albeit slightly down the order, though there remains a big gap to the Saints’ next pick (64).

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 21, 64, 67, 74, 93

2021 PICKS*: STK Rd 1 | STK Rd 3 | STK Rd 4, RIC Rd 4

* – denotes as of December 3

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

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

LIST NEEDS:

Outside runners
Long-term key defensive depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 21)

The Saints have an opportunity to continue their upward trend by selecting a readymade prospect in the first round to add to their strong competition for starting spots. Alternatively, a long-term developmental choice may be in the offing as St Kilda now has enough top-end mature talent to consistently contend with the top teams. Should the Saints look at bringing in some outside support, Nathan O’Driscoll would be a shrewd choice given his incredible work-rate and defensive acumen from midfield. He played senior WAFL football on the inside this season, but looks like spending his early development on a wing.

Bailey Laurie is a creative forward runner with silky skills who could also fit the bill, but would likely be a half-forward in the short term. Although, he may be off the board at that point given the mounting first round interest in him. Another West Australian in Jack Carroll could then be a viable option, with his class and agility on the inside balanced by athleticism and skill on the outer. At 188cm, he is a great size and would provide the efficiency St Kilda is looking for off half-back or the wing before again transitioning into midfield. Similarly, the Saints might look to pounce on Caleb Poulter slightly early, with his range of weapons as a versatile tall midfielder appealing to many clubs. Jake Bowey, the son of former Saint Brett Bowey, could also get a look-in. He is a crafty small with quick skills and the toughness of his old man.

Outside of those options, the Saints could realistically place a bid on other clubs’ academy talents with this pick, despite not laying claim to any of their own. Hawthorn NGA hopeful Connor Downie fits the bill as a run-and-gun half-back/wingman who loves to take the game on, while diminutive Swans Academy gun Errol Gulden could also be the hard-running type St Kilda is after. The bids would likely be matched though, potentially warding the Saints off that option.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

While Frawley covers St Kilda’s need for key defensive depth in the short term, there are many options available in the first round which could fill that void in the long-term. The problem for the Saints is that they are all likely to be snapped up well before Pick 21. Thus, St Kilda may look to trade up closer to the top 10 and have some 2021 stock which could appeal. The Saints’ future first rounder holds high value given how stacked next year’s crop looks to be, so may give them flex to conjure a trade and get into a better position to snare the likes of Zach Reid, Nikolas Cox, or Heath Chapman. Much further down the line, St Kilda’s two picks in the 60s could be packaged to move up the order and cap off a handy little draft haul, should an appealing prospect remain on the board.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will St Kilda look to trade up and snare a key defender?

Will St Kilda look to build its midfield depth, or key position stocks with Pick 21?

How many of St Kilda’s late picks will be used?

Can St Kilda package its late picks to obtain greater, singular value?

Featured Image: 2019 Saints draftee Ryan Byrnes on the ball | Credit: (Retrieved from) St Kilda FC

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Club AFL Draft previews (Part 2)

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, special guest Tom Cheesman joined Chief Editor Peter Williams and AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to breakdown how the this year’s draft may pan out for each club.

The clubs featured in part two are Brisbane, Fremantle, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, and St Kilda, teams which do not have overly stacked hands at the pointy end, but have some handy selections and big decisions to make. The Lions, Dockers, and Power all face dilemmas in regards to matching bids on their Next Generation Academy (NGA) talents, while the Demons and Saints will look to stock up and remain in the finals hunt.

Below are the picks held by each club, as of November 29.

Brisbane: 25, 53, 58, 66, 68, 69, 94
Fremantle: 12, 32, 55, 56, 63
Melbourne: 18, 19, 28, 50, 89
Port Adelaide: 35, 47, 57, 59, 73, 95
St Kilda: 21, 64, 67, 74, 93

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020
>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Club-by-club previews…
Club AFL Draft previews (Part 1)

The best…
AFL Draft hands
Best academy and father-son hauls
Non-aligned midfielders
Readymade prospects
Players under 175cm
Midfielders over 190cm

Player comparisons…
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison

Further analysis…
Potential cult heroes
An early top 10 look
Offence from defence

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Richmond & St Kilda

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two recent expansion sides from Victoria, in Richmond and St Kilda.

Richmond – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 1, 42 (28), 52 (33)

Off-season summary:

There’s no way around it, Richmond’s maiden AFL Women’s season was a disaster. But the fast-moving nature of the competition means the Tigers can quickly turn it around, and they have started anew (again) by targeting some more mature talent, with help from concessions.

Richmond’s end-of-first-round pick (15) granted by the AFL was used well, transferred to Carlton in exchange for heart-and-soul inaugural Blue, Sarah Hosking. The hardened midfielder adds some much-needed grunt to the engine room alongside long-term midfielder/forward Sarah Dargan, with fellow former-Magpie Sarah D’Arcy and Harriet Cordner (ex-Melbourne) within the experienced age bracket.

Grace Campbell, a pacy raw midfielder was lost to North Melbourne for not much, with 19-year-old Ella Wood a shock retirement to go with that of Laura Bailey and Lauren Tesoriero. Nekaela Butler, Ciara Fitzgerald, and Emma Horne were all delisted too, sealing what was a relatively big turnover in players for the second-year club.

A draft look:

All eyes will be on what the Tigers decide to do with pick one. The two frontrunners are Northern Knights midfielder/forward Ellie McKenzie, and Dandenong Stingrays midfielder Tyanna Smith. McKenzie, a mercurial type who boasts a well-rounded game may edge out her country counterpart at this stage, but both would be fine selections. As expected from such high draft picks, particularly of late, both will be able to immediately impact the Tigers’ side from Round 1 and provide a much-needed spark to the unit. They could also be generational players for all the loyal Tigers fans to adore for years to come.

With their later picks, 28 and 33 in the Victorian pool, the Tigers may look to consolidate their midfield even further, potentially freeing Katie Brennan up to spend more time forward, while taking some pressure off the shoulders of Monique Conti, and the incoming pick one. In a team which lacked goals in 2019, Richmond could also do with some firepower up forward – mostly in the medium/small category.

St Kilda – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 6 (4), 24 (16), 34 (23), 49 (26), 51 (32)

Off-season summary:

After a strong maiden AFL Women’s season, the Saints have came away with plenty of promise to build on. While the losses of Alison Drennan (Gold Coast) and Jess Sedunary (Adelaide) will be felt along with the retirement of Courteney Munn, St Kilda managed to bring in a couple of solid defenders to bolster the team. Bianca Jakobsson and Jayde van Dyk are those defenders set to make an impact, with the Saints’ draft hand also looking strong. That hand, as discussed below will help them secure father-daughter selection, Alice Burke at not too pretty a penny. Overall, the new Victorian team looks in good shape, boasting a solid core and some exciting members of the next generation.

A draft look:

Given the balance on St Kilda’s side, recruiters and coaching staff can look at taking the best available throughout – particularly with pick six (four). With one of McKenzie or Smith poised to be taken first off the board, the Saints can look at the likes of Alyssa Bannan and Sarah Hartwig as realistic targets. Of course, the Bulldogs may well opt to secure a key forward with pick two, meaning that Smith could even fall to St Kilda pending what Melbourne do with pick three.

The first pair mentioned are both dynamic midfielders with plenty of weapons and game-breaking abilities, while Bannan is an athletic key forward, and Hartwig a defensive marking machine. Of course, St Kilda has also already confirmed the addition of Alice Burke, the daughter of club legend and current Bulldogs coach, Nathan. The tough midfielder will likely cost the Saints one of their later picks. With the others remaining, the strong Dandenong Stingrays ties could also be maintained, given pre-listed players such as Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon both came from the region.

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #3 – Fremantle sneak over the line against the Saints

COMING in at number three in Draft Central’s Top 10 AFLW Women’s clashes is the game between St Kilda and Fremantle. The Dockers had been in ripping form, sitting undefeated at the top of the ladder despite a couple of close scares, while the Saints had plenty to prove in their inaugural season. The Round 4 battle was nothing short of impressive with both sides going blow for blow but in the end, it was Fremantle that snuck over the line with an emphatic one point win 3.6 (24) to 3.5 (23).

In what was a low scoring affair in the opening quarter neither side could seem to buy a goal with a collective three points scored. Despite not being on their home turf the Dockers rallied in the second term to apply some strong scoreboard pressure landing the first blow of the quarter. An early goal to Jasmin Stewart seemed to get the ball rolling, before the Saints answered with a major of their own to get back within level pegging. However, inaccuracy continued to plague both sides and with only two points separating the teams at half time the contest was only just about to heat up.

With a renewed belief and intensity for the ball St Kilda did not muck around in the third quarter, peppering away at the goals and trapping the footy inside their forward 50. Fremantle failed to score in the third term such was St Kilda’s defensive pressure and slick ball movement. But the Dockers were not out of the game yet, keen to keep their unbeaten record intact they upped the ante in the final term nailing two goals none bigger than Kate Flood’s. With the clock ticking down, Flood went back and took one of the biggest shots in her career to draw level with the Saints before Gemma Houghton landed the knockout punch to win by a mere point. It was an action-packed game with the lead ebbing and flowing between both sides.

Although the Saints fell agonisingly short after leading in the third they would take plenty out of the contest, proving they have what it takes to match it with the best. Their young brigade of stars once again had an influence with Georgia Patrikios and Nicola Xenos 11 and 12 touches respectively plying their trade. Rosie Dillon amassed a team-high 18 disposals along with seven tackles while Alison Drennan showcased her strength around the contest with 17 touches. Tilly Lucas-Rodd also racked up 16 touches while Rhiannon Watt displayed her strength with four marks and 14 possessions. Inside the forward 50 Caitlin Greiser, Molly McDonald and Olivia Vesely combined for three goals highlighting their options in front of the big sticks.

For Fremantle, their usual suspects in Kiara Bowers and Ebony Antonio led the way. Bowers was electric across the ground for her 13 touches and whopping 12 tackles, clearly displaying her physical intent while also managing to slot a major to cap off yet another impressive performance. Philipa Seth managed to win the pill 17 times with 15 of her disposals kicks while 24-year-old Hayley Miller was also crucial in the win thanks to her 13 touches. To go with her opening goal, Stewart accumulated 12 touches with Katie-Jayne Grieve also picking up 12 touches. Although Houghton could have had a big day out had she converted her three shots, she still managed to deliver the winning point. Leading goal kicker Sabreena Duffy also had a trying day in front of goal with two behinds.

ST KILDA 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)
FREMANTLE 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 3.6 (24)

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, M. McDonald, O. Vesley
Fremantle: J. Stewart, K. Flood, K. Bowers

BESTS:

St Kilda: R. Dillon, A. Drennan, C. Greiser, T. Lucas-Rodd
Fremantle: K. Bowers, P. Seth, E. Antonio, J. Stewart

2020 AFL Women’s season review: St Kilda

ST KILDA’S inaugural AFL Women’s season saw the newcomers bring football back to Moorabbin in 2020, and very nearly ended with an unlikely finals berth. Led by a trio of co-captains in Rhiannon Watt, Kate Shierlaw, and Cat Phillips, the Saints notched two very impressive wins on the way to a 2-4 record, combining experience with some incredibly talented youth in a promising maiden campaign. We take a look at some of those key individual performers, and delve into the highs and lows of St Kilda’s season in the latest edition of our 2020 reviews.

RECORD: 5th (B), 2-4, 90.6%

RESULTS:

R1: lost to Western Bulldogs by 25 points
R2: lost to Adelaide by 13 points
R3: defeated Melbourne by 5 points
R4:
lost to Fremantle by 1 point
R5:
lost to Carlton by 21 points 
R6:
defeated Richmond by 39 points

Pitched against five inaugural AFLW clubs in its eventual six games, outsiders would be forgiven for thinking St Kilda would be the expansion side to find the going most tough this year. But that was far from what eventuated as the Saints very nearly overcame reigning premier, Adelaide before trumping Melbourne for their first-ever win, and later giving the undefeated Fremantle an almighty scare in a one-point loss. Throw in the 39-point smashing of Richmond where the Tigers became the first AFLW team to be held goalless, and there was a wealth of positives to be drawn from the season for St Kilda.

SEASON HIGH: Knocking off Melbourne for win number one

This was a result no one truly expected, even after the Saints got within a quarter of overcoming Adelaide the week before, and there was no better way to claim a maiden AFLW win than on home turf. It made the result of this low-scoring slugfest all the more sweeter for the Saints, who proved too accurate in front of goal with their 3.1 (19) outgunning Melbourne’s 1.8 (14). Overcoming any established and finals-bound team would have been impressive, getting one over the hardened Melbourne side really proved St Kilda’s ability to compete.

SEASON LOW: Letting it slip against Fremantle

From a soaring high to a heart-breaking low, all the confidence from St Kilda’s win in the previous week fell just short of carrying it over the line against a fearsome Dockers outfit. After snatching the lead in the third term and bringing it into the final break, the Saints found themselves two goals clear thanks to a beautiful Molly McDonald snap. But just as quickly as she became the would-be hero, McDonald’s brain fade gifted the Dockers a 50m penalty and the chance to draw level, before they pinched the last-minute victory.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Georgia Patrikios (15.7 disposals, 1.8 marks, 3.3 tackles, 1.3 rebound 50s, 2.7 inside 50s)

You would be hard-pressed to find a more impressive first-year player than Patrikios, even in the face of the competition’s prosperous youth. ‘GP’ hit the ground running on debut against the Bulldogs with her 18 disposals earning her a Rising Star nomination and capturing the attention of fans everywhere. It helped form the base of a terrific year, where the Calder Cannons graduate led St Kilda for disposals, metres gained, and clearances.

Olivia Vesely (15.2 disposals, 2.3 marks, 4.3 tackles, 2.8 inside 50s, 1 goal)

Another first-year player who stood tall under enormous responsibility was Vesely, who became a key support for Patrikios through midfield. There was plenty of hype surrounding last year’s VFLW Rising Star winner, and she delivered in spades to stamp her name as a certain starter for the Saints each week. The 20-year-old’s consistency saw her earn an AFLW Rising Star nomination in Round 4, for her 18-disposal performance against Carlton.

Tilly Lucas-Rodd (13.2 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1.5 rebound 50s, 76% efficiency)

Lucas-Rodd was one who built on the promise shown in her three seasons at Carlton to fully justify the second chance awarded to her at the elite level, becoming a key member of this exciting St Kilda side. A VFLW best and fairest and team of the year member, Lucas-Rodd is a gritty utility who has adapted well to a more defensive-based role with the Saints. At 23 years of age, her rate of development means there is plenty of scope for even more improvement.

Rosie Dillon (13.3 disposals, 1.2 marks, 5.8 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s)

The Saints would have been chuffed with their selection of Dillon in last year’s draft at pick 24, as the 2019 Hawthorn VFLW best and fairest hit the ground running upon entering the elite system. A hardened midfielder who loves the contest, Dillon had a terrific back-end of the season where she averaged 17 disposals across her last four games while also keeping up her impressive tackle numbers. A shrewd recruit who combines well with the outside class of Patrikios.

Alison Drennan (12.4 disposals, 1 mark, 4.4 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 1 inside 50)

One of the Saints’ best AFLW snares was Drennan, who donned the red, black, and white once again after turning-out for the VFLW side. The former-North Melbourne midfielder is again one who loves the contest, and built into the season well after missing Round 1. Leading from her midfield post, Drennan added great value to the diverse and hard-working St Kilda engine room across her five outings.

THE SPEARHEAD:

Caitlin Greiser (9.7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 1.3 tackles, 3.2 inside 50s, 10 goals)

‘The G-Train’ was nothing short of spectacular in her maiden AFLW campaign, finishing second in the competitions’ goalkicking charts (10) while leading her side for score involvements and inside 50s. A true, traditional centre-half forward, Greiser’s lead-up work was hard to beat, and her booming boot made her a threat from all angles within 50 metres of the big sticks. With multiple goals in four games, the Round 3 Rising Star nominee is one to watch.

YOUNG GUN:

Molly McDonald (9.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 2.2 tackles, 1.7 rebound 50s, 1.3 inside 50s, 2 goals)

The pre-listed Saints draftee went above and beyond in justifying that status in her debut senior year, turning out consistent showings across all six games for her side. Rotating between the forwardline and midfield, McDonald continued her happy knack of finding the goals as displayed at Under 18 level, while also showing great poise on the ball. Impressively, the outside mover also led her side for marks this year (21).

VERDICT:

Looking back, the Saints perhaps exceeded expectations in a memorable first season at the top level, bringing football home to Moorabbin and giving their fans something to cheer about. Their two wins were of high quality, while a couple of tight losses could have gone the other way and afforded a finals berth. The most exciting thing about St Kilda’s future is its youth, with a number of Under-21 talents shining brightly already.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

FROM the future talent to the modern day match-winners, there was plenty to like about the last weekend of football.

Future AFL Women’s stars on show

Without a doubt, the highlight of the weekend was watching the bright future of the AFL Women’s with both the Under 16s and Under 18s strutting their stuff at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong. Vic Metro won both clashes against Vic Country, but it was the depth of talent across a variety of positions which will no doubt leave plenty of recruiters smiling as they accrue draft picks over the next few years. Potential top pick Madison Prespakis was the star in the Under 18s, while Olivia Meagher starred for the Under 16s, booting three goals.

King snatches victory for Vic Metro

It took them almost every minute of the designated four quarters, but Vic Metro finally shook off the Allies with the final kick of the game to win their Round 2 National Under 18 Championships clash. It was potential number one pick Ben King who put the final nail in the coffin for the visitors, booting a set shot goal from a laser pass from Xavier O’Halloran late in the game. The Allies kicked 0.9 in the second term which they will no doubt look back on as a missed opportunity, but they had heart for all the four quarters and almost snatched the win against one of the title contenders courtesy of some great play from Fraser Turner and the defensive efforts of Jacob Koschitzke.

Saints all heart after disastrous start

It was looking like another disappointing loss for St Kilda when the out-of-sorts Saints travelled north to take on the equally out-of-form Gold Coast Suns. Trailing by 31 points at the final break, many Saints fans had given up hope on social media, but a stunning turnaround and a match-winning goal from Jade Gresham turned their anger into celebration as they got out of jail and earned some relief from the constant media speculation around the club. There is still much to go in the 2018 season, but the last quarter was a rare highlight for the year.

Riccardi’s last quarter shuts down Power to claim two points

A four-goal last quarter from Calder Cannons’ over-age forward Jake Riccardi turned off the Power in Gippsland on Sunday. The big man booted 5.2 for the game, four of which came in the final term, as the teams swapped leads multiple times. His efforts were enough to haul Calder across the line, missing most of its core side with five out due to Vic Metro duties, and co-captain Mitch Podhajski also missing. Instead the young Cannons defied odds to steal two points in what was a memorable game for the forward in particular.

Western Bulldogs claim maiden VFLW win

It was a long time coming, but the Western Bulldogs’ Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side had its first win on the weekend. It took until Round 6, but with a number of its AFL Women’s stars returning, the Bulldogs made it a win to remember, belting Williamstown by 56 points as Alyssa Mifsud and Jessica Francke booted a combined nine goals. The reigning AFL Women’s premiers will be keen to add a few more wins to its tally this season, as more of its stars return to the competition and give some top sides a scare.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 9

We are approaching the bye rounds now as a number of first-year draftees continue to impress on the big stage. Both top-age and mature age recruits are fitting in seamlessly to AFL life and are becoming mainstays in their respective club’s 22s.

Jaidyn Stephenson

Collingwood supporters should revel in the news that they have snagged Jaidyn Stephenson for another two years, after securing the Club’s number six pick. The fan favourite continues to exceed expectations in yet another classy performance against St. Kilda. Booting two goals after half-time, Stephenson assisted greatly in Collingwood’s 28-point victory over St Kilda, and continues to demonstrate a fluency in the forward line. The young Magpie finished with 18 disposals, four contested, 72 per cent disposal efficiency and eight score involvements. Stephenson’s uncanny footy sense has served him well, exhibited both through his careful decisions and ideal timing with ball-in-hand.

Hunter Clark

For the first time in his AFL career, St. Kilda’s number seven pick was made to start on the ground, earning a spot in the Club’s starting 18 against the Pies. Clark rose to the challenge off half-back, showing off some of the less observed aspects of his game. With a strong 21 disposals, seven contested and a 71 per cent disposal efficiency, Clark took on his role well, involving himself in linkups and going hard in the contest. His chase down in front of goals almost prevented a score, but the ball spilled out and the rest was out of his hands. Furthermore, going back with the flight of the ball, Clark copped a heavy hit in a pack mark and reeled in pain. Clark’s commitment to the contest is becoming more obvious and we hope to see this attitude continue in the coming rounds.

Bailey Fritsch

The quality of this year’s debutantes has shone through fittingly in Bayley Fritsch. With yet another impressive performance, the young Demon continues to exceed expectations with his dominance in the forward line. Fritsch finished up with 17 disposals, five contested, two goals, six score involvements, four intercept possessions, four tackles and three inside 50s.  The young Dee displayed great footy sense going forward, picked his spots well and hits his man with great precision. He is developing well under Melbourne’s guide and could bag a neat stack of goals by the end of the season.

Cam Rayner

With his first win in his AFL career, Rayner should be satisfied with the performance he contributed. A powerhouse for his age, the number one draft pick finished the match with 11 disposals, seven contested and an 82 per cent disposal efficiency. The young forward also kicked two goals, had four score involvements, three tackles and three clearances. He has adjusted well to the pace and has polished his work, beating his average disposal efficiency by 10 per cent.

Paddy Dow

On the wrong end of a huge margin, Dow stayed resilient against punishment and fought hard against a dominating Melbourne. Dow’s work on the hard ball was evident in his 10 contested possessions, and while low on his efficiency, still managed to make an impact. In all, Dow closed up with five intercept possessions, four tackles, 25 pressure acts and three score involvements. An impressive stat sheet for a player on a losing side, the young Blue refused to quit despite the odds.

Adam Cerra

With another demonstration of poise and class from Fremantle’s stellar first-year line-up, Cerra led with more trademark efficiency and impact. The No. 5 pick from the Dockers finished with 15 disposals, nine contested, an a 80 per cent disposal efficiency, 19 pressure acts and three clearances in their 69-point loss against the Swans. Cerra left his mark on the game despite a shutout victory by the home side. He’s an adaptable player who thrives in the contest and remains consistent in varying conditions.  

Nick Coffield

Coffield’s football is characterised best through his disposal efficiency. In St Kilda’s hard fought battle against Collingwood, Coffield kept his kicking clean and ball movement effective. He kept his work rate up despite a barrage of goals from his opposition and plenty of forward pressure. At an 88 per cent disposal efficiency for the season, Coffield continued prime form with  a 92 per cent disposal efficiency. The youngster finished the game against the Pies with 12 disposals, three one percenters and two rebound 50s. 

Charlie Spargo

The ferocity of this small forward is immense, complimented well by Melbourne’s fierce attack on Carlton. Spargo played high pressure football, working Carlton’s backman well as they tried to rebound. He laid three big tackles, 19 pressure acts, had four inside 50s and four score involvements. He wasn’t good enough in front of goal, missing two of his shots. However, his contribution to Melbourne’s win is evident in the range of offensive and defensive acts. In total, he racked up 12 disposals, six contested with a 75 per cent disposal efficiency.

AFL Draft whispers – November 2017

With just 12 days until the 2017 NAB AFL Draft – our team have been working the phones and compiling the latest rumours ahead of the draft on Friday week.

Have you got a whisper? Or know more? – Direct Message us on Facebook, Twitter or leave an anonymous post below.

Want to know more about the 2017 NAB AFL Draft crop? Visit our draft pool page for all the player profiles & stats.

ADELAIDE

If Darcy Fogarty makes it to Pick 12 – it would be very very hard to see Hamish Ogilvie overlook the talented South Australian prospect. If he’s off the board, the Crows will likely look to take the best player available and the names Hunter Clark and Jarrod Brander continue to be linked with Pick 12. If Aiden Bonar manages to get outside the top 10 – it would be interesting to see whether the Crows consider him. With Pick 39 – there is some suggestion they are looking at bringing in another running defender.

BRISBANE

Most people agree that the Brisbane Lions have made their decision on the number one selection. But just who it will be is the million dollar question? Majority of the talk for a few months is that it will likely be Vic Country midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke, but talk from some continue to suggest that Cameron Rayner’s name can’t be ruled though. The Lions have shown in the past that they will prefer to take Vic Country players which means Paddy Dow will remain the conversation – but the feeling is that it’s most likely ‘LDU’. Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan is a big fan of Andrew Brayshaw and whether the Lions recruiters have a similar taste remains to be seen. Regardless of the Lions choice at No.1 – Charlie Constable is the player most likely to be selected at Pick 15. The strong bodied inside midfielder averaged 26 disposals and five marks for Vic Metro in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships. Constable is school mates with Brayshaw & Davies-Uniacke – and would fit in well if they link up at the Lions. Western Jets midfielder Lachlan Fogarty is another name the Lions have shown interest in and he could be selected at Pick 15 or Pick 18. As a rookie selection, the Lions have been linked with Box Hill Hawks’ Sam Switkowski. The Lions will also likely match a bid from Jack Payne in the third or fourth round.

CARLTON

Carlton have two top 10 selections and have heavily been linked to Adam Cerra in the last fortnight or so. The Eastern Ranges midfielder averaged 18 disposals and five tackles in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships and the feeling of some recruiters is that he would’ve challenged for the No.1 pick if not for a shoulder injury late in the season. Cameron Rayner may fall into their lap if both interstate clubs look past him and it would be hard to see them let him get past Pick 3. At pick 10, Darcy Fogarty has been linked – but could come into their thoughts at Pick 3 with some talk of North Melbourne considering him at Pick 4 – but this could be a smokescreen for the Blues hoping for another player to slip down to Pick 10. Aiden Bonar and Hunter Clark are two other midfielders who might find themselves wearing navy blue next year, while Jackson Ross and Ryley Stoddart are both in the mix at Pick 30.

COLLINGWOOD

Collingwood hold the keys to the draft – with a big selection at Pick 6. The only tall considered at this pick appears to be key defender Aaron Naughton, while draft ‘bolters’ Nathan Murphy and Aiden Bonar are also in the mix. Nick Coffield is another name that could be considered but the latest talk suggests that things might go another way. Could a top midfielder slide to the Pies? GWV Rebels defender Flynn Appleby might be a possible late draft selection.

ESSENDON

Essendon are another club without a first round draft pick – entering the draft at Pick 48. With the retirement of Jobe Watson – fans are hoping for Adrian Dodoro and his team to bring in an inside midfielder & if Vic Country’s James Worpel manages to get there – it would make sense for him to be selected. Essendon also held a private testing session for about 20 kids a month ago – with Jake Riccardi and Ben Wiggins two names to keep an eye out for as possible rookie selections. They’ve also enquired about two VAFA senior footballers as draft smokeys. Fans want the fairytale to link up the Parish brothers – but if remains very unlikely the Bombers will draft Cassidy Parish at Pick 48.

FREMANTLE

Fremantle continue to be linked with Vic Metro pair Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw – but seem likely to pick between Vic Country midfielders Paddy Dow and Luke Davies-Uniacke at Pick 2. Some suggest that Cerra is their man at Pick 5 – but should he be taken before then, Brayshaw will be picked. The early mail suggested Fremantle would opt for a tall in either Jarrod Brander or Aaron Naughton – but most believe they will take the two best midfielders. As for later in the draft, the Dockers are likely to select a ruckman – having been linked with TAC Cup Grand Final ruckman Sam Conway (Geelong Falcons) and Joel Amartey (Sandringham Dragons). They’ve also done some work on GWV Rebels’ ruck Lloyd Meek and defender Flynn Appleby.

GEELONG

Tom McCartin has jumped as an AFL Draft prospect and could push up in consideration for one of Geelong’s three second round picks. The “local” prospect could come into their thinking – but the Year 11 student will need to finish school in 2018. There has been some links to local boy Matt Ling, who has impressive agility and a deadly left foot kick. South Australian duo Jordan Houlahan and Charlie Ballard are two players who could slot into the Geelong team, with Houlahan a medium forward with plenty of X-Factor, while 195cm Ballard can play on the wing or as a key position player at either end. They are also another club who have shown some interest in Calder Cannons’ Jake Riccardi.

GOLD COAST

Gold Coast enter the draft at Pick 19 with Ed Richards and Nathan Murphy two players right on their hit list. While Murphy looks destined to be a top 10 selection, Richards is a chance to be available there. Chris Pelchen also linked the Suns with tall Sam Taylor in the SEN Inside Football draft guide. There were multiple Gold Coast Suns recruiters watching Noah Balta in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final and he might be another tall in the mix. As for academy prospect Brayden Crossley – sources suggest the Suns will need to match a late pick after pick 50.

GWS GIANTS

With the retirement of Stevie J – GWS are in the hunt for a small forward. Jack Higgins appears to be at the top of the pecking order with Pick 11, but there are multiple small forward options in Dylan Moore, Charlie Spargo and Gryan Miers – that could be instead picked in the second round which could allow the Giants to go “best available’ or a tall at Pick 11. There is some suggestion that the Giants could draft Jarrod Brander at Pick 11 or West Australian key back Aaron Naughton if he slipped outside the top 10. Midfielder Nick Shipley will likely have his bid matched somewhere 40+.

HAWTHORN

Once again Hawthorn enter the draft without a first round selection – after it was traded to the Saints as part of the Jaeger O’Meara deal. With Pick 43 – the Hawks have been linked with Eastern Ranges midfielders Trent Mynott and Tom North. They have nominated Changkuoth Jiath (CJ) as a Next-Generation Academy Member, but the bid will likely be well after their first selection at the draft. Zippy midfielder Will Walker may also be considered if he’s on the board.

MELBOURNE

Melbourne have shown in recent years that they are willing to hit the state leagues at the NAB AFL Draft. With their first selection, Aspley midfielder Oskar Baker is a name  that continues to come up in discussions and he could be selected at Pick 29 or 36. Right under their noses at Casey is Bayley Fritsch, who will likely find a home in the middle of the draft and is in the mix.

NORTH MELBOURNE

The Kangaroos are in a precarious position – not knowing how the cards will fall ahead of them. Jaidyn Stephenson has been a name they’ll likely have in the mix – but at least one of the consensus top four (Davies-Uniacke, Cerra, Rayner and Dow) will be available at Pick 4. Rayner’s attractive game style might take a fancy for the Roos, looking for some class and speed in the attacking half of the ground. Andrew Brayshaw is another name that some suggest is ready to go from Round 1. North have shown they are willing to bid on players using their picks and may do so on Richmond father-son Patrick Naish and Brisbane Lions academy member Connor Ballenden. South Australian Mitch Crowden is also a player the Roos have interviewed recently and he could be selected as a late pick/rookie. Some whispers have also suggested if West Coast pass on Tim Kelly at Pick 21 that North Melbourne will jump at Pick 23.

PORT ADELAIDE

Jackson Ross appears to be right on Port Adelaide’s radar at Pick 46 – but the former high level tennis player could be off the board by Port’s pick. Liam Ryan was linked early days with the Power – but appears likely to go inside the 2nd round. A fellow West Australian Jake Patmore might be in the mix as an outside player. Some talk of Oscar Chapman being a possible player of interest late in the draft or in the rookie draft.

RICHMOND

The latest talk suggests the 2017 Premiers might not get a bid for Patrick Naish until after their third selection in the NAB AFL Draft (Pick 25). They’ve long been linked with Vic Metro ruckman Sam Hayes, but other players like Oscar Allen, Noah Balta and Sam Taylor might be above Hayes on their draft board. If the Tigers overlook Hayes – they will likely look for a ruckman later in the draft or through the rookie list to provide some depth to their ruck stocks. It’s unlikely that possible Next Generation Academy member Derrick Smith will get a bid in the National Draft.

ST KILDA

St Kilda have two picks in a row and there is a range of players in the mix. Alan Richardson watched some of the TAC Cup Finals, with Nick Coffield catching his eye. A lot of the talk is that they will take one of the draft ‘bolters’ in Aiden Bonar or Nathan Murphy and then the best midfielders available. The best midfielder seems to be one of Andrew Brayshaw, Hunter Clark, Nick Coffield or Jaidyn Stephenson – assuming someone else doesn’t slide down to Pick 7 and 8.

SYDNEY

Sydney Swans were long linked with cricket convert Nathan Murphy – but with the whispers being that he will be selected inside the top 10, Sydney will likely need to look elsewhere. There has been some suggestion they could take Jordan Houlahan – who plays a similar medium forward role and did spend some time as an inside midfielder for Sturt. They have plenty of inside midfielders – but Charlie Constable would be a nice addition to any list. Hunter Clark is another name that has done the rounds who could be selected here. Leading into TAC Cup Finals, there was suggestion Jackson Hille was on the Swans’ radar – while fellow Dragon Hamish Brayshaw will come into their thinking as another late pick/rookie. Charlie Ballard is an intriguing player and could be in the mix for one of the Swans first two selections.

WEST COAST

West Coast continue to be linked with forward Oscar Allen. They would have to consider Hunter Clark and Charlie Constable at Pick 13 if they were available – but the suggestion is they will likely focus on midfielders with their second round selections. Second round West Australian prospects include Tim Kelly, who is right at the top of the tree with Pick 21 – while Liam Ryan will likely become an Eagle. Brandon Starcevich and Brayden Ainsworth could also come into consideration here while Eagles fan Ryley Stoddart might be a Victorian in the mix. Vic Metro key defender Noah Balta is a player they’re very interested in and they could select him at Pick 21 or Pick 26.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

The Western Bulldogs are a club who have Nathan Murphy right in their eyeline. With Pick 9 and 16 – they will get a good crack at two players. Ed Richards has some speed and a nice left foot kick and they could grab him at Pick 16. They’ve also been linked with Gippsland Power duo Matthew McGannon and Callum Porter as possible rookie picks. Lachlan Fogarty is a likely name at Pick 16 too. Whispers about the Bulldogs bidding on Richmond father-son Patrick Naish appear to be dying.

As for who has an invite to the draft? Our sources suggest there are 20 players that will be attending in Sydney at this stage.

Oscar Allen
Aiden Bonar
Jarrod Brander
Andrew Brayshaw
Adam Cerra
Hunter Clark
Nicholas Coffield
Luke Davies-Uniacke
Paddy Dow
Darcy Fogarty
Lachlan Fogarty
Jack Higgins
Nathan Murphy
Patrick Naish
Aaron Naughton
Lochie O’Brien
Cameron Rayner
Ed Richards
Nicholas Shipley
Jaidyn Stephenson