Tag: Under 18 National Championships

AFL Draft Watch: Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Murray Bushrangers’ Elijah Hollands, an exciting forward/midfield prospect who remains right in the top 10 discussions, despite the fact he is sitting out 2020 after tearing his ACL during preseason. Having previously afforded most of his seasons to school football with Caulfield Grammar, Hollands was set for a full-time dig in the NAB League with Murray upon the completion of his Year 12 studies in 2019.

The 188cm Wodonga native has a knack for the mercurial, able to break games open with bursts of brilliance in the form of opportunist goals, bursting runs, or high-flying marks. Hollands was one of the rare bottom-agers to play all four national carnival games as a bottom-ager in 2019, and further proved his status as a high-end prospect with an eye-catching performance in the Under 17 Futures All Stars fixture.

While he spent most of his time as a forward or on the outside at the Under 18 level, the Murray product had eyes on moving into the midfield in his top-age season. His value over time in the engine room remains to be seen, but one thing for certain is that Hollands is a rare talent and one of the absolute best of his cohort.

PLAYER PAGE:

Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

DOB: April 25, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Forward/midfielder

Strengths: Overhead marking, scoreboard impact, athleticism, versatility
Improvements: Consistency/accumulation, post-injury durability

2019 Statistics:

NAB League: 4 games | 17.0 disposals | 5.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.0 goals (4)
Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 13.5 disposals | 2.3 marks | 5.5 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 5.3 inside 50s | 0.5 goals (2)

>> Feature: Elijah Hollands

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Did not test.

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

It was a 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.

NAB League Round 14 vs. Northern

By: Scott Dougan

Hollands played through the Bushrangers’ midfield, as well as up forward where he was a regular target. Hollands had a big impact early on when he spoiled a marking contest after a poor kick-in from the Knights, resulting in Murray’s first goal of the game.

He had an electric 10 or so minutes in the first term, where he provided spark and x-factor around the contest. Hollands’ forward craft is one of his best attributes and it was evident during the match, with the talented bottom-ager finding plenty of space across half-forward.

Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Peter Williams

Is so exciting and not only does he have the offensive capabilities, but works hard defensively as well, laying a number of huge tackles in the forward half. Hollands has lightning hands in congestion and is able to win the hard ball and quickly dish off to a teammate before being dispossessed.

He had a huge highlight in the second term with an unbelievable goal out of nothing from a forward stoppage, roving Charlie Comben and booting the goal from just inside 50 close to the boundary line.

Under 18 Victorian Trials vs. Vic Metro

By: Ed Pascoe

Hollands was seriously impressive up forward, he was a constant threat and was often minded by one of 2019’s top prospects, Dylan Williams. He kicked his first goal in the first quarter running into open goal and he set up others with his kicking inside 50, all class.

One of his standout features was his ability to keep strong in the contest and get his arms up, and his second goal came from a classy snap goal 40 metres out in the third quarter. His best bit of play also came in the third quarter where he worked hard to keep the ball in play on a wing and used the ball well with a long handball to a running teammate inboard.

NAB League Round 3 vs. GWV

By: Peter Williams

A classy forward who just has that knack of finding the goals, he was disappointed in himself missing a few early chances, before kicking two for the game, including a natural instinct shot off the left to win the game for the Bushrangers. Hollands also shows good second efforts, giving off a quick handball before following up with a tackle immediately after.

NAB League Round 2 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

By: Scott Dougan

Hollands was consistent over four quarters and never seemed to fade out of the contest. He was a solid target up forward for the Bushrangers, specifically in the final term when he had a couple of shots on goal that only failed to register a score because of the tough weather conditions. Hollands also displayed his athletic ability, footy smarts, and foot skills throughout the game.

NAB League Round 1 vs, Gippsland

By: Peter Williams

The bottom-age talent showed his class early inside 50, winning a number of possessions on the outside and using his long kicking ability and was one of the top ball winners in the first half. He missed a few opportunities to capitalise from set shots, finishing the game with 1.3, but he timed his leads well, protecting the drop zone with his timing. He was quieter in the second half, but his first half showed the potential he has not only as a forward, but further up the ground as well.

>> MORE MURRAY BUSHRANGERS CONTENT

>> Marquee Matchup: Hollands vs. O’Driscoll
>> 2020 Vic Country U18s Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

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

Q&A: Sam Tucker (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

The 196cm swingman started his 2019 NAB League campaign playing up forward, but looked comfortable down back too across his six outings as a bottom-ager. Tucker’s experience as an Under 16 Vic Metro representative and trialist last year helped him earn a spot in the 2020 Academy Hub, with eyes on cracking into the Metro Under 18 squad.

Tucker was also looking forward to playing a full season with the Chargers, free from school football commitments as a top-ager, but it remains to be seen whether the competition will go ahead. With clean hands, good skills for his size, and a decent leap, Tucker is a versatile key position option for each side he runs out for.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

 

MA: Sam, how’s the day been for you?

ST: “Not bad, it’s pretty good to just get the tests done now and then get into footy next.”

 

How have you fared in the tests, were you just looking to improve?

“We test as a club before Christmas so coming in I was trying to focus on my speed and my vertical and trying to improve them.”

 

I take it has been a long preseason?

“Yes, it started back in what, November? It’s good to come to the end, have no more running and get into games.”

 

Going back to last year, you would’ve played with some high-end talent. How did that help you?

“Of course. Both Rowelly (Matt Rowell) and Ando (Noah Anderson) were just awesome players, top class. So just to be able to learn off them all year was awesome.”

 

Who are some of the players you’re looking forward to playing alongside this year?

“Obviously Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan), Finlay Macrae, Reef (McInnes). All those guys are great players so it’ll be really good, a good privilege.”

 

Being around the Metro Hub must help your development too, how’s that been?

“It’s been a really good experience. We’ve had two camps, and just the resources we (have) available to us are really good.”

 

Does that experience help you set up some goals heading into your top-age year, and what are some of the things you’re looking to tick off?

“Definitely. They’re two prime example that show you what happens when you do all the work. I just try and take tips off their training habits and how they prepare.”

 

Are you looking to lock down a certain role or continue to play up either end?

“I think I’ll play everywhere but hopefully along as a (centre) half-back.”

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Country 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 a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro squad predictions and today we take a look at Vic Country’s 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
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old inclusions are 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 injured players 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.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the second squad prediction, with Vic Country’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Clayton Gay (Dandenong), Zach Reid (Gippsland), Cam Fleeton (Geelong)
HB – Nick Stevens (GWV), Ethan Baxter (Murray), Isaac Wareham (GWV)

There is a good mix of styles and talent among this back six, with some height, power, dash, and clean ball use all to come from these potential representatives. Versatile 202cm tall Zach Reid seems a lock for full back, able to also double as ruck aid.

Leadership candidate Cam Fleeton and Dandenong standout Clayton Gay provide sound reading of the play and aerial presence on the last line, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) pair Nick Stevens and Isaac Wareham are solid options off half-back. 19-year-old Wareham has already donned the Big V at under 18 level, but may earn another chance given injury curtailed his top-age season.

Ethan Baxter is the final member of the defence, a solidly-built Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) product who is a touch undersized (192cm) to play as a pure key defender, but makes up for it with strength. He could be utilised elsewhere, but we see him fulfilling a role down back.

MIDFIELD

C – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland), Tanner Bruhn (Geelong), Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo)
FOL – Henry Walsh (Geelong), Sam Berry (Gippsland), Zavier Maher (Murray)

Zavier Maher may be the tallest of the Vic Country mids here at 184cm, but by no means will the chosen crop lack power or ball winning ability. Maher, Sam Berry, and Tanner Bruhn are all terrific at the centre bounces, with Maher and Berry the powerful types, while Bruhn is all class in congestion.

Berry can run all day, too, much like Bendigo’s Jack Ginnivan on the outside. Ginnivan could also find a spot up forward like fellow wingman, Ryan Angwin, but the pair have really come on of late and should have no trouble in making an impact further afield.

Of course, Henry Walsh will likely be the one to provide first use to his midfield fleet as the primary ruck. The brother of Carlton Rising Star, Sam is quite apt at the centre bounces with his 201cm frame and is constantly working on his ground level work.

FORWARD

HF – Noah Gadsby (Geelong), Oliver Henry (Geelong), Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo)
FF – Dominic Bedendo (Murray), Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh), Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong)

This is hardly a forward six blessed with height or overwhelming strength, but that is not to say that it lacks marking power. Much like Baxter in defence, the high-flying Oliver Henry could play above his size as a focal point, though may be better suited to a third tall role. Highly touted Bulldogs NGA prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is unbeatable off the lead at full forward, so is a lock for that spot.

Alongside him may be Dominic Bedendo, a fantastic athletic talent who can compete both in the air and at ground level, while Charlie Lazzaro occupies the other pocket. He is arguably predominantly more a midfielder, but has been adding strings to his bow as a small forward.

On the flanks, his Geelong teammate Noah Gadsby also slots in as a newcomer to the forward line, while raw Bendigo product Seamus Mitchell assumes a role familiar to him on the same line. The largely small make-up of this six is somewhat a product of the guidelines we put in place, as there are a few key position products across each age bracket who could easily add some height and strength to the structure.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Sam Conforti (Bendigo), Will Bravo (Dandenong), Bayleigh Welsh (Dandenong), Blake Kuipers (Dandenong)

Filling out the side are some versatile options, with most of these prospects able to be utilised in many roles. Sam Conforti skippered the Under 16 Country side, and could well slot in as a small forward or wingman in this lineup. Dandenong’s Will Bravo is an exciting player who should also get a run up forward, providing a touch of speed and evasion while also being able to contribute in midfield.

Two more Stingrays cap off the side, with Bayleigh Welsh a midfielder the Dandenong program is high on, while athletic over-age swingman Blake Kuipers could be one to again sneak into the team as key position or ruck depth.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

Given this may be the only chance for draft-eligible top-agers to shine in front of recruiters in 2020, there will be plenty who come onto the radar of AFL clubs. Elijah Hollands and Noah Gribble are two who would have featured in the team, but unfortunately miss out due to long-term knee injuries.

Academy prospect Josh Treacy is a key forward who could well fit into the squad having gained experience for Country at Under 17 level, with fellow tall options Mason Hawkins and Keith Robinson of Gippsland others who can fill that forward/ruck role.

In terms of smalls, classy Geelong co-captain Gennaro Bove may be in the mix, while nippy GWV forward Harry Sharp has also caught the eye alongside another Falcon, Blake Reid. Other options from the Geelong region include Charlie Brauer – another outstanding athlete – and Kyle Skene.

Speaking of athletes, Bendigo is high on elite runner Jack Hickman and could also see the likes of ex-Rebel Jack Tillig or Finn Ellis-Castle push into contention. Dandenong has a couple of products around the mark too, with Deakyn Smith and Jai Neal both likely to be considered.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Last year’s Under 16 side may not have produced pure results-based success, but there are a few fantastic prospects who should push into contention. Leading the pack is last year’s carnival MVP Josh Rachele, a damaging midfielder/forward who is incredibly skilled.

Ben Hobbs was his partner-in-crime through midfield and should also get a crack as one of many high-end GWV up-and-comers. Those include Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch, and Josh Gibcus, with the former two already boasting NAB League experience.

Fleet-footed Sandringham prospect Campbell Chesser was another to impress enough to break into the NAB League, while fellow Under 16 All Australians Toby Conway and Cooper Hamilton are also within the Academy bubble.

Given the focus will even more strictly be placed on draft eligible players, the likes of Ben Green, Connor Macdonald, Tom Brown, Justin Davies and so on will likely have to wait until next year to break into the Under-18 representative side.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-age seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

19-YEAR-OLDS

Possibly the most unlucky over-ager to miss out on our squads is Geelong’s Darcy Chirgwin, who was set to return to his original region after representing Sandringham in his draft year. After injury heavily interrupted his 2019 campaign, he should come into consideration once again.

Geelong teammate Jay Dahlhaus also suffered a long-term injury last year but should be back for more, while Murray prospect Sam Durham has shown a good rate of improvement as a latecomer to the code. Jai Newcombe is somewhat of a bolter having only now made the final cut at Gippsland, and could provide that inside presence with Chirgwin given he is yet to capture centre stage.

The two 19-year-olds we chose for both squads, Kuipers and Wareham, come into the category of players with great upside. Kuipers’ height and athleticism make him a handy option to fill gaps up either end or in the ruck, and his phenomenal testing performance puts him in good stead. Wareham is a solid athlete who will more so be looking for consistency after his top-age campaign last year.

With these additional top, bottom, and over-age prospects in mind, below is our potential best Vic Country squad without any provisions.

FB – Clayton Gay, Zach Reid, Cameron Fleeton
HB – Nick Stevens, Blake Kuipers, Ethan Baxter
C – Ryan Angwin, Tanner Bruhn, Jack Ginnivan
HF – Noah Gadsby, Oliver Henry, Seamus Mitchell
FF – Charlie Lazzaro, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Josh Rachele
FOL – Henry Walsh, Sam Berry, Zavier Maher
INT
– Will Bravo, Dominic Bedendo, Ben Hobbs, Isaac Wareham

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.

Preseason testing analysis: Which State has the best endurance runners?

THE current sporting hiatus serves as somewhat of an extended preseason for the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects, who will be itching to get back on the field. Aside from a few scratch matches on the eve of Round 1, much of the 2020 class has had little in the way of competition thus far.

But preseason testing always serves to get the competitive juices flowing, with players from each region and academy coming together to test where they are at. Rookie Me hosted the preseason testing in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, while the AFL completed testing in Western Australia and NSW/ACT.

In our second analysis of the results from those days around the country, we take a look at the yo-yo test scores and try to answer the question of ‘Which State has the best endurance runners?’. We have compiled the top 10 scores from each State, an overall top 10, and averages from around the nation to help answer the question. Stay tuned for results across each test in the near future.

>>SCROLL DOWN FOR THE OVERALL TOP 10.

STATE TOP 10’s

New South Wales:

1. Harry Grant (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.8
2. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.3
=3. Hamish Gilmore (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Samuel Frost (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Noah Clarke (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Angus Crelley (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
=3. Luke Fellons (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.8
8. Marco Rossman (Sydney Swans Academy) – 21.7
=9. Joshua Fahey (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 21.6
=9. Harrison Parker (Sydney Swans Academy) – 21.6

Top 10 Average: 21.9

Boasting the greatest average across its top 10 yo-yo testers was New South Wales, the state to also lay claim to the top two scores across the nation. The GWS GIANTS Academy boys must have eaten their Weet-Bix that morning, returning some phenomenal results and making up eight of their state’s top 10 placings. Harry Grant and Lachlan Squire are top of the tree for 2020, a giant effort from them.

Queensland:

=1. Riley Buckland (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 21.1
=1. Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 21.1
=3. Shaye Walsh (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 20.8
=3. Mason Gates (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.8
=5. Billy Evers (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) – 20.7
=5. Brinn Little (Gold Coast SUNS Academy) 20.7
=5. Max Nelson (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.7
=5. Kirk McGrory (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.7
=9. Joel Peters (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.6
=9. Reed Maskell-Dobbin (Brisbane Lions Academy) – 20.6

Top 10 Average: 20.8

The Queenslanders hold the unfortunate status of placing last in terms of their top 10 average, with just two athletes ticking onto the 21.1 stage. Though among the pair is Tahj Abberley, one of Queensland’s best prospects. It was a rather consistent showing up north though, with a good spread of scores and representation from either academy.

South Australia:

1. Benjamin Belperio (Norwood) – 21.5
2. Luke Mitton (South Adelaide) – 21.4
=3. Bailey Griffiths (West Adelaide) – 21.3
=3. Harvey Bock (West Adelaide) – 21.3
=5. Lewis Rayson (Glenelg) – 21.2
=5. Brody Stuart (North Adelaide) – 21.2
=5. Ethan Schwerdt (Norwood) – 21.2
=5. Jack Saunders (Norwood) – 21.2
=5. Morgan Ferres (Sturt) – 21.2
=5. Joshua Garrels (Sturt) – 21.2

Top 10 Average: 21.3

The South Australians were represented well during preseason testing, but were essentially the best of the rest in terms of averages across their top 10. Six clubs had players sneak into the 10, with Norwood’s Benjamin Belperio leading all-comers as one of three Redlegs to make the grade. Sturt was another well-represented side, much like in the 20m sprint times, and had bottom-age bigman Morgan Ferres feature. No scores below 21.2 in the 10, but none getting into the 22’s.

Tasmania:

1. Jake Steele (North Hobart) – 21.3
2. Alex Davies (Launceston) – 21.2
=3. Jared Dakin (Launceston) – 21.1
=3. Kye Chilcott (Launceston) – 21.1
=3. Jake Dixon (Wynyard) – 21.1
=3. Dominic White (North Hobart) – 21.1
=3. Angus Jeffries (North Launceston) – 21.1
8. Patrick Walker (North Hobart) – 20.7
=9. George McLeod (North Hobart) – 20.6
=9. Jacob Young (Clarence) – 20.6

Top 10 Average: 21.1

The small Tasmanian crop put in a solid showing for the endurance test, with a couple of standouts just breaking clear from the trailing pack. Over-age tall Jake Steele topped the sheet with 21.3, with Launceston’s Alex Davies not far behind, and five athletes managing 21.1. Just below them, Academy Hub member Patrick Walker also snuck into the rankings. Fifth place for the Tasmanians on top 10 average.

Victoria:

=1. Harry Sullivan (Dandenong Stingrays) – 22.1
=1. Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) – 22.1
3. Oskar Faulkhead (Bendigo Pioneers) – 21.8
=4. Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power) – 21.7
=4. Sam Berry (Gippsland Power) – 21.7
=4. Liam Kolar (Northern Knights) – 21.7
=7. 21.6 x7

Top 10 Average: 21.8

The NAB Leaguers contribute among a massive talent pool, so it was no surprise to see some impressive scores put on the board. No score below 21.6 – higher than the top score of three other states – helped the Victorians secure equal-second, with Noah Gadsby and Harry Sullivan top as the only athletes to breach level 22. Gippsland’s Sam Berry features on the list, a promising midfield prospect who managed 21.7.

Western Australia:

1. Alex Crowe (East Fremantle) – 22
2. Teakle Bohan (East Fremantle) – 22
=3. Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth) – 21.8
=3. Zac Sanderson (Perth) – 21.8
=3. Corey Sellars (South Fremantle) – 21.8
=3. Cameron Dean (Subiaco) – 21.8
=7. Jayden Peak (East Perth) – 21.7
=7. James Ettia (Perth) – 21.7
=7. Jack Demarte (West Perth) – 21.7
=10. 21.6 x7

Top 10 Average: 21.8

Joining the Victorians in second place are the boys from out West, who also combined to have two athletes clock up level 22. Top midfield prospect Nathan O’Driscoll leads a quartet of four players who managed to notch 21.8, which ended up being the state’s average. With a number of high-level performers down the list, WA is sure to feature highly again in the overall averages.

OVERALL TOP 10

1. Harry Grant (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.8
2. Lachlan Squire (GWS GIANTS Academy) – 22.3
=3. Harry Sullivan (Dandenong Stingrays) – 22.1
=3. Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) – 22.1
=5. Alex Crowe (East Fremantle) – 22
=5. Teakle Bohan (East Fremantle) – 22
=7. 21.8 x10

Grant and Squire lead the way, making it two GIANTS at the top, while a pair of East Fremantle products also make the top ranks. Geelong’s Gadsby is a big name among the podium placings, and there were a bunch of guns among the 10 athletes to clock 21.8. Only three states were represented at the top end; New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia.

STATE AGAINST STATE:

1. NSW/ACT – 20.7
2. Western Australia – 20.6
3. Victoria – 20.4
4. Tasmania – 20.3
=5. South Australia – 20.2
=5. Queensland – 20.2

In the question of which state is has the best endurance runners collectively? The answer is again NSW/ACT, with the GWS and Sydney academies notching an overall average score of 20.7 – backing up their triumph in the 20m sprint stakes. Western Australia again featured highly, just below the benchmark at 20.6, while Victoria and its wealth of athletes managed to sneak onto the podium. Tasmania, just clear of a joint-last spot, jumped South Australia from the top 10 averages.

AFL Draft Watch: Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)

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

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Perth Demons’ product Nathan O’Driscoll, who already looms as one of Western Australia’s top draft prospects for 2020. The 18-year-old has some handy role models to feed off en route to his AFL dream, with older sister Emma already playing at the elite level for Fremantle, while former Perth teammate Deven Robertson was drafted to Brisbane on the back of a Larke Medal-winning campaign for the Black Ducks.

O’Driscoll already has some notable experience under his belt too, having earned All-Australian honours at Under-16 level in 2018, running out as a bottom-ager for Western Australia at last year’s Under 18s carnival, and starred in the Under-17 All-Stars showcase on AFL Grand Final Day. He featured mostly on the outside or off half-back with the step-up in competition, but has his eyes set on some more midfield minutes in 2020.

The 187cm prospect has a penetrating boot which he uses to gain good meterage, making him a fantastic attacking threat from behind the ball or out of the middle. The thing that sets O’Driscoll apart though is the addition of his work going the other way, with hard tackling and shrewd reading of the play also part of his well-rounded game. Having only dropped below 20 disposals once at WAFL Colts level in 2019, O’Driscoll is primed to become a key member of each side he suits up for in 2020.

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 67cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L):
86cm/80cm
Speed (20m): 2.99 seconds
Agility: 8.46 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo):
21.8

PLAYER PAGE:

Nathan O’Driscoll

Height: 187.0cm
Weight: 76.1kg
Position: Half-back/midfield

2019 WAFL COLTS STATS: 7 games | 25.1 disposals | 4 marks | 7.6 tackles | 0 goals
2019 UNDER 18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS STATS: 3 games | 16 disposals | 1.7 marks | 6.7 tackles | 3 clearances | 2.6 inside 50s

Strengths: Contested ball, kick penetration, tackling, endurance, burst

SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Star game

By: Peter Williams

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.

2019 WAFL Colts Round 17 vs. Subiaco

By: Lenny Fogliani

The 2018 AFL Under 16s All-Australian defender showed off his versatility by playing as a midfielder for the Demons. Against Subiaco, O’Driscoll collected a team-high 29 possessions, laid an equal-game high 10 tackles, grabbed five marks and recorded three inside 50s to be Perth’s best on a tough morning.

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Lenny Fogliani

Another bottom-age prospect, O’Driscoll was brilliant on the half-back line for the Sandgropers. He finished with 21 possessions, six tackles, four marks, four inside 50s and two rebounds, providing good zip on the outside and damaging run forward.

2018 WAFL Colts Round 21 vs. Subiaco

By: Lenny Fogliani

The Northam product was superb in the midfield for the Demons with 27 possessions, eight tackles and two marks. On a bleak day for Perth fans, O’Driscoll was a beacon of light with his ball-winning ability, composure, and skill execution all on display.

Get to know: SANFL U18s – Central District

CENTRAL District’s elite fleet of smalls among its Under 18 ranks was all set to be unleashed on the big stage in 2020, with all three State Hub members – Isaiah Dudley, Corey Durdin, and Lachlan Grubb – making great inroads over the past two seasons. But given the trio and the rest of their Bulldogs teammates will have to wait to get back on the park, we trace back to the South Australian preseason testing day hosted by Rookie Me to get to know them, where Draft Central had a chat to the promising youngsters.

Cousin of recent Melbourne draftee Kysaiah Pickett, Dudley is cut from the same cloth on-field too. An aggressive and clever small forward who can also push hard up the field, the bottom-ager has a great eye for goal and knack of finding the ball. With back-to-back State Under 16 campaigns under his belt, the 165cm prospect is working on his running and looks likely to be considered strongly for a berth in South Australia’s Under 18 squad this year – all things considered.

His partner-in-crime in the State 18s forwardline may well be Durdin, a standout at each level of his junior development having picked up the Kevin Sheehan Medal in 2018 as the Under 16 Division 1 MVP. Durdin also made his League debut for Centrals last year as a bottom-ager, and looks primed to hone a small forward role having already proved himself as a worthy ball winner. With a year of State Under 18s already under his belt, the 172cm gun looks forward to being more of a leader this time around at the national carnival.

The third of the trio is Grubb, who was knocked back from the State Under 16 squad in 2018 but has kept at it to become a member of this year’s hub. Another small type at 175cm, Grubb comes from a great football and athletics pedigree and has already matched his father’s feat of playing at SANFL Reserves level. With that senior experience already made, the speedster also hopes to make moves further afield with a sharpened defensive game as he continues to develop.

Without further ado, find out everything you need to know, to get to know these three exciting youngsters, in their own words on a range of topics relating to the currently postponed season and beyond.


COREY DURDIN ON…

TESTING DAY:

“It hasn’t been too bad. Just getting through and doing my best, that’s all… I’ve done it a few times now and I think the main focus for me is just trying my best and that’s all I can do really.”

THE SA STATE ACADEMY HUB:

“It’s been good. I think last year as a bottom-ager I found myself a lot like a learner, compared to this year I’m a lot more of a teacher and a leader there. That’s probably been the main difference.”

GOALS:

“One of my goals this year is trying to get that vice-captaincy or captaincy in the State (Under) 18s this year… I’m looking to play 12-plus league games and also make the All Australian team.”

SANFL LEAGUE EXPERIENCE:

“It was a great experience, being able to have the opportunity to be coached under Roy Laird. I think the biggest thing I felt was I had to adapt to the bigger bodies – for an example, I couldn’t really wrestle them and out-strength them so I had to use my pace.”

POSITION:

“This year I’m really looking directly on my small forward craft, just my pressure role there with some time in the midfield as well.”

LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING ALONGSIDE…

Durdin – “It’s always been great playing with (Isaiah Dudley) in the 16s and the 18s so yeah, just really keen for this year… Riley Thilthorpe, I think he’s going to be great for us and also Kaine Baldwin coming back from an ACL injury. I think he’s going to be really dominant for us.”

ISAIAH DUDLEY ON…

TESTING DAY:

“It’s been pretty good so far, I’m going all good… (I went well) in the agility, and the 20m sprint, went alright in that too. It’s really to my game because I can zip-zap out of the (contest) and I can use my pace as well.”

GOALS:

“Well, hopefully I can make the Under 18s State squad as an under-ager and play nationals.”

POSITION:

“I’ll play a bit of everywhere and then hopefully improve a bit on my running and find my spot in the midfield.”

SA STATE ACADEMY HUB:

“It’s helped me develop very well, it’s helped me with my running a bit more – I get to push up the ground and push back. It’s been good.”

KYSAIAH PICKETT:

“He’s a good mentor, he’s my cousin. It was good (playing school football with Pickett), I got a lot of feedback from him and he’s a pretty good bloke.”

LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING ALONGSIDE…

“This year hopefully I play with Luke Edwards and Corey Durdin… played a fair bit (with them already).”

LACHLAN GRUBB ON…

TESTING DAY:

“Testing’s been good, obviously we were here at 1:00 and did all the education sessions which were really helpful – about drugs and alcohol, betting, gambling and all that. Now we’ve come into the testing and it’s been a really good day so far.”

STRENGTHS:

“As a small forward, I’m a sprinter as well so definitely the 20m (sprint) and agility really highlight my game. I did well on the agility, did a 7.94 which is my PB (personal best) so I was pretty happy with that.”

IMPROVEMENTS:

“Definitely just more defensive work at the moment, just trying to get my game a bit more defensive because I’m more attacking at the moment. And then just looking to get better in my endurance which the yo-yo test will be a good test for.”

SPRINTING, FAMILY, AND FOOTY:

“I grew up playing at Tea Tree Gully Football Club from about Under 6s so footy’s always been in the blood and around the family – Dad played footy at Norwood up until Ressies. But I’ve been sprinting since I was about 13, my Dad’s uncle David Grubb won the Bay Sheffield back in 1970 so sprinting runs through the family as well.”

SANFL RESERVES EXPERIENCE:

“That was awesome obviously to see Dad do it and then me follow in his footsteps is pretty good. I debuted when I was 16 in the twos and ended up playing six games I think. It was a really good experience because we ended up making finals as well, but got knocked out in the semis.”

SA STATE ACADEMY HUB:

“It’s helped my development massively. Obviously I haven’t always been in the state stuff like all the other boys have, I got knocked back from the 16s. But just used that as motivation to get where I am today, obviously being in the AFL Hub now is just massive for my improvement and I’ve just learned so much so it’s been awesome.”

GOALS:

“Obviously the main one is to get drafted, that’s everyone’s goal. And just to play consistent footy, keep the body healthy, just getting everything right so I can maximise my performance at the highest level.”

LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING ALONGSIDE…

“Boys like Riley Thilthorpe and Kaine Baldwin. They’re pretty impressive, pretty elite with the way they go about their footy. Just being exposed to everyone playing at that level is awesome so I’m just keen to get around all the boys and have a really great year.”

POSITION CHANGES:

“Maybe pushing up on a wing, using my speed to go on the outside and I’m working on my contested game as well, just getting cleaner to maybe push up into the midfield as well.”

Get to know: SANFL U18s – West Adelaide

WEST ADELAIDE is set to boast one of the more exciting Under 18 one-two combinations in 2020, with State Academy members Riley Thilthorpe and Bailey Chamberlain looking to crack through the SANFL grades alongside fellow hub representative, Jye Sinderberry – should football return this year, of course.

Draft Central was lucky enough to gain access to South Australia’s pre-season testing day hosted by Rookie Me, speaking to Thilthorpe, Chamberlain, and Under-16 jet, Tyson Coe at the event. Get to know all about the trio; from their favourite teammates, to their on-field strengths and improvements, and 2020 goals.

A versatile and athletic tall with incredible running power, Thilthorpe’s raw talent has seen him thrown into the potential number one pick conversation. While he may have endured an injury interrupted bottom-age year, his form at the 2018 Under 16 carnival and ability to crack West Adelaide’s League side prove his worth. Getting on the park consistently was one of the bigman’s goals coming into his top-age season, building on promising showings thus far.

Chamberlain, a lightning fast midfielder who balances his inside and outside game well, was a player looking forward to benefitting from Thilthorpe’s ruck craft this season across multiple teams. While the 177cm prospect was not a part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad with Thilthorpe, he has developed well since and starred in the State’s Under 17 Futures game, as well as in last year’s Under 17 All Star showcase.

One to watch for the future will be Coe, who comes into his top-age Under 16 year having already featured for South Australia at the level last year. A powerful inside midfielder who loves the tough stuff, Coe had already turned out dominant performances for the Bloods in the Under 16 season before the unfortunate postponement. Should the Under 16 national championships go ahead this year, he will again be one to watch.


CHAMBERLAIN, THILTHORPE AND COE ON…

TESTING DAY/PRE-SEASON:

Chamberlain – “It’s (been) pretty chill so far, just trying to work through some PBs (personal bests) and getting around my teammates, getting through. “I’m definitely trying to improve on my 20m (sprint) and my agility just to make them elite. I reckon that’s a key aspect of my game so if I can get them elite, I’ll become a better player.”

Thilthorpe – Did not test.

Coe – “I did alright, I warmed up pretty well but unfortunately couldn’t do the yo-yo test because of a previous calf injury but besides that I got through the rest of the day pretty well. “The pre-season’s been good, I’ve been hitting the track pretty hard, trying to get a leadership role out there at the Under 16s but unfortunately had a few weeks out with a calf injury.”

2020 GOALS:

Chamberlain – “Just trying to push for a League game really. I’ve just been working as hard as I can to try and push into that selection so hopefully I can play some good footy in the Reserves and then get the call-up… definitely (playing State Under 18s) is my major goal this year, just to play the champs, play every game and play well.”

Thilthorpe – “I just want to continue with more of the same I guess. More League footy, that’d be the dream and a good state champs this year – hopefully take it out.”

Coe – “Just trying to keep up with the bigger boys, learning from them. They’ve been through it themselves so just looking up to them (and) trying to be a leader for my own age has definitely been one of my specific goals this year.”

STRENGTHS:

Chamberlain – “My ability to play both inside and outside. I reckon I’m a pretty versatile player in the midfield, I can play that winger role or play an inside role.”

Thilthorpe – “My marking and athleticism, they’ve sort of gotten me where I am now.”

Coe – “My personal strengths would be the shorter, more powerful stuff like the vertical and the 20m sprint. On the field, just the explosive stuff – more just the powerful tackles and stuff like that, I don’t mind that.”

IMPROVEMENTS:

Chamberlain – “I’m a pretty quick player so when I can get out the pack, just setting myself and hitting my kicks a bit more. I’m a bit inconsistent when I’m at full pace so I’ve just got to slow it down a little bit and take my time.”

Thilthorpe – “Over the pre-season my speed and agility have been big ones of mine so I’ve been working hard on that… my body wasn’t right last year obviously I missed a lot of games so getting my body right and just playing a consistent year is probably the main one.”

Coe – “Overall probably playing through the midfield, just the fitness. Although, unfortunately getting injured in the pre-season didn’t help out too much. But just working that fitness up to try and be an elite midfielder through the State program this year, we’ll see how it goes.”

BEST CLUB AND STATE TEAMMATES:

Chamberlain – “Definitely Riley (Thilthorpe). We’re best mates so it’s pretty good running out next to him. Taj Schofield obviously, I go to school with him so I’m pretty close with him – those are the two main ones.”

Thilthorpe – “A lot of the boys are so good. Like Luke Edwards, just his IQ is unbelievable playing with him is amazing. Bailey Chamberlain, his speed… he’s one of my good mates, he’ll have a good year I reckon.”

Coe – “Getting the experience as an under-ager in the State 16s (under) a few good leaders in Jason Horne, Matty Roberts, and Murls (Cooper Murley). Playing through the midfield with those guys, it was a pretty elite standard and we obviously didn’t get the end result we wanted on the Gold Coast but still the experience is what counted for me.”

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – Vic Metro vs. Allies

VIC Metro’s Under 18 carnival came to an end on Friday with a tight loss at the hands of a much-improved Allies side. We were on hand in Geelong to take note of how the outstanding players from both sides fared, with opinion-based notes that of the individual writer.

Vic Metro

By: Peter Williams

#1 Jack Mahony

A standout player for Metro across the game, setting up a number of goals for his teammates, then finishing off with three of his own – two of which came in the final term to help his side charge back into it. He almost had a fourth but it dropped short and his final kick of the day almost found its way into the hands of Emerson Jeka to win the game but was spoiled away. He had a fairly complete game with great defensive pressure and rarely missing a target forward of centre with neat kicks across his body, well placed to the advantage of his teammates. Mahony was also clean above his head and hard to stop.

#5 Trent Bianco

Composed with ball-in-hand, Bianco looked very classy coming off half-back and along the wing, and was able to use it well by hand or foot. He was the player often benefiting from extras heading into stoppages, with teammates getting it out to him and he was able to move the ball well in transition. He did so under pressure in the back half, and showed a great second effort when losing a marking contest, he got up and smothered a ball to win it back and kick forward. Had a chance for a goal by playing on and putting it through in the third term, but was forced to take the set shot and it fell short.

#11 Matt Rowell

Was again one of Metro’s best even if he was contained (by his standards) after quarter time. His first quarter was outstanding, which included eight disposals, three clearances and a goal, but the Allies midfield made sure to put more work into him after the first term. He used the ball well and was able to get it out to teammates running out the outside. Rowell is great one-on-one and the goal he did kick he managed to do so while being run down from behind. The confidence he exhibited was terrific as he glanced behind him, saw an opponent and backed himself to take him on. He has such clean hands and always keeps battling on across four quarters.

#13 Daniel Mott

Had a big first half and was working hard not only offensively, but defensively as well. He managed to tackle Tom Green and lock the ball away by holding an arm with great technique. He showed clean hands in close and worked hard to get to the right positions. Had a quiet third term, but picked up again in the last quarter.

#22 Miles Bergman

Took a good mark on the lead early in the game and put it to the danger zone for Harrison Jones to mark in a pack and goal to level the scores in the first term. He had a long range shot early in the second and it was perfect off the boot to sail through the middle. Bergman covered the ground well, winning the ball in all thirds of the ground to took a strong intercept mark inside 50, and also had the crowd up on their feet when he flew high on the interchange side of the ground but could not quite bring it down.

#23 Dylan Williams

Booted the one goal and could have had a couple more. He set up the first shot of the game to Emerson Jeka in the opening term, then in the second quarter took a good mark on the lead straight in front and launched it from 50m to go through. He had a chance on the wrong side for a left footer and it pushed to the right for a behind, having a second shot after the three quarter time siren but also missed that. Looked dangerous on the lead throughout.

#24 Noah Anderson

Almost the opposite to his partner-in-crime Rowell, having a very quiet first term – just two touches – before really starting to work his way into the contest. He was strong at ground level and laid multiple tackles with great second and third efforts.On one occasion he read the tap perfectly and booted the ball straight out of the middle with a long clearance kick inside 50. He even showed a bit of audacity in the final term, selling some candy, realising he had no leads on offer, bought some time with more candy then put it to Ryan Sturgess in teh pocket who kicked the goal to put Metro in front late. Another consistent performer who can be pleased with a terrific carnival.

#25 Finn Maginness

One of Metro’s best working hard on the inside and then getting it done on the outside with some dangerous kicks inside 50. Had a long range shot in the second term but missed to the right, and his best highlight came from a dance around an opponent in the middle in that last quarter, sidestepped another and kicked perfectly to Emerson Jeka inside 50.

#29 Fischer McAsey

Has enjoyed a ripping carnival and Friday’s game was no different with another impactful performance in defence. Time and time again he intercepted the ball and rebounded out of the back half, dropping into the hole perfectly. He saved a certain Tom Green goal early with a good mark in the goalsquare, and held his line well in the defence, winning the ball and

#36 Emerson Jeka

Presented well throughout the match inside 50, and could have had three goals to his named but just finished with the one. He missed one narrowly and the other shanked a bit, but never gave up with his work rate. His goal came from a set shot 30m out in the third term, and he was often spotted pushing up to the wing at times.

#39 Jack Bell

Got involved throughout and while he sold a teammate into trouble with a poor handball early, he showed some nice skills by foot, setting up Emerson Jeka for a third term goal by having the nous to move the ball quickly and get it to his teammates’ advantage. Later in the game he dropped behind the ball and was able to use his height to win the ball and move it forward.


Allies:

By: Michael Alvaro

#1 Errol Gulden

Swans fans will be pretty pleased with what their 2020 Academy prospect has shown to date, and this was another great performance on the big stage. Playing off the half-forward flank and up onto a wing, Gulden was a constant threat moving forward when wheeling around onto his trusty left boot. He always looked to create and showed crafty vision with his passes inside 50 to find teammates on multiple occasions. Gulden was as clean as anyone at ground level and it proved a telling trait as he delivered so effectively in space around the arc. Gulden’s willingness to opt for high-risk/high-reward kicks and ability to make them work more often than not made him a game-changer, topping off his contribution with two goals in the third term. His first was a real highlight, turning his opponent with great agility and finishing clinically on the left from just inside 50. One of the best for next year’s crop.

#2 Hewago Paul Oea

The Suns Academy product did some nice things throughout the game, underlining why he is better known as ‘Ace’. He started brightly to get on the scoreboard early with a goal out the back – assisted by the other dangerous forward he would often link up with, Malcolm Rosas Jnr. Tended to flow in and out of the game, but would pop up with good bits of pressure and crafty touches in close to break congestion open and move forward. One of his better plays was finding fellow Sun Josh Gore inside 50 to notch a goal assist, and he looked like breaking towards an open forward line on a few occasions to no avail.

#4 Malcolm Rosas Jnr

Is as silky as they come in the forward half and could do nothing wrong in the latter part of the opening term. The Darwin product roamed the half forward line when the ball was up field, and did well to make himself dangerous when it entered the Allies attacking 50. Rosas’ first goal off hands showed that, but his second was even better as he slammed home a classy left foot finish on the move from just inside the arc. Was a little quieter as the game went on, but applied good pressure throughout and looked likely when the ball edged over the back. Starting to build more consistency.

#16 Ben Jungfer

Was one who at the start of the championships looked to be a depth selection in a talented midfield bunch, but proved to be much more than that as a constant at the stoppages. Jungfer complimented Tom Green beautifully at the centre bounces, doubling the Allies’ contested ball-winning threat and getting stuck in well to prize six clearances. Did a lot of the dirtywork throughout the day to flick the ball out to his runners, and looked strong over it when tackled. Not many frills about his game, but is a reliable accumulator in the middle.

#21 Luke Parks

Looks to be adapting well to being freed from having to play above his height, and proved a solid defensive contributor in this game. Found a good amount of ball and used it well in repelling out of defensive 50, with his rebounding starting to shine through. His best moment came with a terrific gather on the half-volley at pace through the corridor, followed by a kick forward which led to a goal for Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden in the third term.

#22 Tom Green

Was far and away the Allies’ best, with a game-high 33 disposals 13 more than his next best teammate. Green put in a mountain of work at the stoppages as we’ve come to expect, and proved difficult to tackle as he broke through hoards of opponents at times. Is a real leader in his actions, but also proved vocal with an audible call under a high ball in the first term. Had a couple of shots on goal early with one snap missing and another which he launched from 40 meters falling short, but eventually hit the scoreboard with a clutch set shot conversion in the third term. That side of his game was great to see, and he seemed to be kicking more while showing he can cover the ground really well for an inside midfielder. Also showed terrific spatial awareness with his use by hands with a couple of nice passes over his shoulder, and has great IQ in tight. Absolutely did his top 10 chances no harm with a more well-rounded display.

#24 Joel Jeffrey

The bottom-aged NT utility is capable of playing up either end, but looks really useful down back as a good reader of the ball in flight. Jeffrey leapt really well under high balls towards his own defensive 50 and stood strong as packs formed in his area, showing he wasn’t afraid of the inevitable contact. Looked better as the game went on and proved solid in the second half as Metro looked to charge with some one-on-one wins.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Another who can play at both ends, but looked much more at home in his outing down back in this game. By no means finds massive amounts of ball, but did what was required of him – often times deep inside defensive 50. Showed his overhead prowess as he leapt to clunk a high ball with opponents nearby, and was composed again later on as he saw the ball into touch. With more time in defence, Delahunty could be an effective intercept type, but looks just as good one-on-one with his closing speed and ability to spoil from behind.

#31 Hamish Ellem

Was super impressive early on – proving too big, strong, and smart for his opponents one-out deep inside attacking 50. Booted the first goal of the game with a snap, but caught the eye more with a couple of solid one-on-one grabs and some mobile follow-up work. Made space to be found on the lead as the game wore on, but looks to have some room for improvement in his set shot goalkicking as he could have finished with three or four goals. Had no such issues in general play though, slotting another snap with an unlikely effort from the boundary in the third term. Is somewhat of an in-between size, and has traits to play both as a second tall or as a smaller type given his work at ground level.

#37 Josh Gore

Just always seems to find the goals and this game was no different as Gore slotted three from his seven disposals. Managed to convert in each term after quarter-time, including the Allies’ sole goal in the second after following up a bellied snap to win a holding the ball free kick. Suns teammate Hewago Paul Oea handed him a second goal after finding him in the pocket, with Gore again finding space deep inside 50 to mark in the last and convert a third set shot to put the Allies back in front. Ended up being a game-winner with his clinical finishing, but can add more to his overall game.

#46 Noah Cumberland

Cumberland was ultra impressive in a final term effort which went a long way to helping the Allies hold on to victory. The Lions Academy member’s intensity and strength around the contest was outstanding, truly setting the tone for his teammates with efforts that coaches would love. Playing mostly forward, Cumberland’s impact early was mainly seen in small bursts with big fend offs and aggressive runs forward – although he bit off a little more than he bargained for when he took on Metro speedster, Lachie Potter. Cumberland provided real drive going forward, but also won the ball well with clever body positioning in-close to protect the drop zone and set a solid base. His overhead mark and pass to Tom Green in the fourth quarter was excellent, but his game-winning tackle to lock the ball up even later on was even better to see. Can add some polish, but is a real raw competitor.

Metro and Allies continue search for opening championships win

A BUMPER double-header sees the Under-18 national carnival hit South Australia, with the Allies and Vic Metro looking to get on the board against Western Australia and South Australia respectively. Check out all the teams and a preview for both games below.

ALLIES vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Saturday June 22, 10:30am
Alberton Oval, South Australia

Western Australia will look to regain a positive record in the 2019 AFL National Under 18 Championships when they face the winless Allies on neutral territory to kick off a South Australian double-header.

The Sandgropers started magnificently in their Round 1 win against Vic Metro, but fell short on home turf against the fast-finishing South Australia last time out. They are set to maintain a relatively consistent starting lineup coming into this clash, with the all-important core of the team again remaining in tact. While Luke Jackson has consolidated his status as the nation’s best Under 18 ruck, the likes of skipper Deven Robertson and Riley Garcia have benefitted from his silver service at the stoppages to dominate that area. Runners like Jeremy Sharp and Trent Rivers have also shown flashes of brilliance off half-back, and bottom-ager Logan McDonald looks to have stamped his claim as the side’s number one forward after impressing in game two.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the game will be the x-factor in each side’s forward half, with Elijah Taylor and Liam Henry finding plenty of goals so far for WA, while the Allies have included Gold Coast Academy pair Hewago Paul Oea and Josh Gore in hopes of creating some spark inside 50. After conceding 18.8 against Vic Country, the Allies have also bolstered their back six with a couple of overagers – namely Dirk Koenen and James Peatling, while shifting Braeden Campbell to his more natural half-forward spot. Connor Budarick is another who faces a move from half-back, set to spend more time running through the middle among a formidable Allies engine room set-up which should be able to match up well against WA’s. Big-bodied Suns product Ashton Crossley will add to their contested ball-winning capabilities, and over-age GWS/Oakleigh mover Jeromy Lucas could find a spot on the wing or flanks at either end. The top-end class looks to be on WA’s side in this clash, but you cannot count the talented Allies out, with match-winners in the midfield and forward of centre who will look to lift the team after a disappointing first outing.

TEAMS

Allies:

B: 21. Luke Parks, 52. Dirk Koenen, 8. Tom Griffiths
HB: 36. Sam Thorne, 44. Nicholas Brewer, 42. James Peatling
C: 9. Mitch O’Neill, 15. Will Martyn, 1. Errol Gulden
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell, 31. Hamish Ellem, 4. Malcolm Rosas jnr
F: 37. Joshua Gore, 26. Liam Delahunty, 47. Jeromy Lucas
R: 51. Samuel Gaden, 22. Tom Green, 3. Connor Budarick
Int: 24. Joel Jeffrey, 20. Matt McGrory, 2. Hewago Paul Oea, 46. Noah Cumberland, 12. Ashton Crossley

In: D. Koenen, N. Brewer, J. Peatling, J. Gore, J. Lucas, H. Oea, S. Gaden, J. Jeffrey, A. Crossley
Out: N. Murray, J. Barling, M. Conroy, S. Collins, J. Rayner, O. Davis, B. Reville, W. Chandler, S. Ryan

Western Australia:

B: 13. Ben Johnson, 21. Jake Pasini, 36. Denver Grainger-Barras
HB: 17. Jeremy Sharp, 26. Trey Ruscoe, 35. Trent Rivers
C: 12. Regan Clarke, 10. Deven Robertson, 9. Tristan Hobley
HF: 18. Jai Jackson, 30. Reuben McGuire, 19. Elijah Taylor
F: 5. Liam Henry, 25. Logan McDonald, 39. Callum Jamieson
R: 32. Luke Jackson, 14. Chad Warner, 4. Riley Garcia
Int: 6. Cameron Anderson, 20. Jaxon Prior, 3. Tyrone Thorne, 24. Ronin O’Connor, 22. Max Murphy

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. VIC METRO
Saturday June 22, 12:50pm
Alberton Oval, South Australia

In the fixture that shaped early in the year as the game of the national carnival, South Australia and Vic Metro are set to lock horns in Saturday’s second game, with the sides showing quite differing form.

The hosts kicked off their title defence in style last week after a Round 1 bye, running over the top of WA away from home to pick up an impressive win. They will be without the only multiple goal kicker from that match though in Cameron Taheny, with the exciting forward picking up a groin injury. That means the likes of Kysaiah Pickett and Josh Morris will need to provide that spark inside 50 against a dynamic Metro defence, with Brady Searle also a handy front six inclusion. The balanced SA midfield looks quite set, with Jackson Mead consolidating his spot on the centre line, while Dylan Stephens and Jed McEntee add even more class and Will Day should be an important runner on the outside. Bottom-age talent Luke Edwards remains in the side after a promising display, joined by fellow ’02 birth Zac Dumensy as the only other bottom-ager in the team.

There is notable talent on each line for SA, putting them in good stead to compete across the board – but the midfield battle looks primed for Metro to win. The Victorians have made six changes as they continue to search for a win having come into the carnival as arguable favourites. Much of that is down to the individual brilliance of the likes of Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell, who have stood up in both games despite suffering two losses. The midfield remains relatively untouched, with a shuffle in the forward line seeing Emerson Jeka, Jamieson Rossiter, and Dylan Williams all coming into the team, while surprise leading goal kicker Josh Worrell stays on the forward flank. Northern’s Adam Carafa gets another chance alongside Andrew Courtney, while Carafa’s Knights teammate Nikolas Cox is one to watch as an athletic, tall wingman. The likes of Trent Bianco, Louis Butler, and Darcy Cassar – who all like to dash from defence – will all be kept accountable by the SA forwards, so may be tested once again for form. Up the other end, they will hope for a much bigger goal haul given their inclusions and the greater team balance they look to have. Expect a tense start, but plenty of highlights given the talent on paper from either side.

TEAMS

South Australia:

B: 30. Oliver Grivell, 35. Karl Finlay, 4. Jordan O’Brien
HB: 24. Will Gould, 33. Dyson Hilder, 19. Luke Edwards
C: 7. Dylan Stephens, 18. Jackson Mead, 10. Joshua Schute
HF: 23. Brady Searle, 43. Jamie Coff, 15. Harry Schoenberg
F: 1. Kysaiah Pickett, 32. Daniel Sladojevic, 17. Josh Morris
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows, 8. Jed McEntee, 20. Lachlan McNeil
Int: 22. Harrison Magor, 16. Zac Dumensy, 5. Darnell Tucker, 31. Jordan Moore, 12. Will Day, 11. Callum Park, 28. Oliver Shaw, 34. Jack Carpenter

In: J. Moore, B. Searle, Z. Dumensy, J. Coff, J. Carpenter, O. Shaw
Out: C. Taheny (injured), C. Durdin, D. Freitag

Victoria Metro:

B: 16. Darcy Cassar, 33. Corey Watts, 26. Ryan Sturgess
HB: 15. Louis Butler, 29. Fischer McAsey, 5. Trent Bianco
C: 24. Noah Anderson, 11. Matthew Rowell, 22. Miles Bergman
HF: 31. Joshua Worrell, 28. Jamieson Rossiter, 1. Jack Mahony
F: 23. Dylan Williams, 36. Emerson Jeka, 2. Mitch Mellis
R: 40. Nick Bryan, 25. Finn Maginness, 8. Adam Carafa
Int: 37. Andrew Courtney, 18. Lachlan Potter, 13. Daniel Mott, 21. Hugo Ralphsmith, 35. Nikolas Cox
Emg: 30. Harrison Jones, 9. Will Phillips

In: E. Jeka, A. Courtney, D. Williams, J. Rossiter, A. Carafa, N. Cox
Out: O. Lewis, J. Bell, H. Jones, J. Honey, C. Dean, J. Ross (all rotated)

BYE: Victoria Country