Tag: western australia

East shines out West in rapid rise though the talent pathway

DANA East is not your typical state representative at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Swan Districts midfielder hails from Manjimup, more than 300km south of Perth. Having come from a basketball background, East only really took up the oblong ball sport two years ago, and rose through the state development pathway from local football to the national championships in the short space of time. It was only by chance that East even made the transition into Australian rules football.

“I only started two years ago and it was just through a family friend,” East said. “They were running their first juniors comp in Mandurah for women. “The night before the game, they called me up cause they were low on numbers and I just said ‘yeah I’ll just do it and I just fell in love with the sport from then because I was full basketball until that moment really, and from then on I just continued my football career from then.”

One of the huge breakthrough players in the 2021 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, East admitted it was pretty daunting stepping up from local level, but praised her support network and her teammates for enabling her to adapt to the senior level.

“It was pretty scary, I was really scared going into it, because I knew it was bigger bodies, faster pace and I didn’t know if I was really prepared but I had lots of coaches and support around me that prepared me and I really enjoyed it,” she said.

Possessing clean hands – which she said she is always building on – East is a natural contested ball winner who thrives on the inside, then bursts to the outside where she can go forward and hit the scoreboard. On more than a few occasions this year, East has been best on ground for the undefeated Swan Districts outfit, moving well in transition to be able to add a high impact to the game. Her favourite position is inside midfield, but she does enjoy going forward, and now she is looking to improve on some of her skills to match her contested ball-winning ability.

“I’ve been working on a lot of the contested work, just ground balls and marking and … clean hands basically,” she said. “I’m really trying to improve my opposite foot kicking, and just when you get the contested ball or something just to execute and hit a target.”

It is no surprise to see Fremantle tackling machine Kiara Bowers, and one of the rising stars of the competition in West Coast’s Mikayla Bowen as two of her greatest inspirations she looks up to at AFL Women’s level.

Swan Districts coach Adam Dancey said East’s growth at the club was noticeable, and he had enjoyed seeing her progress up to the point where she is a state representative and in the frame to be drafted.

“She’s adapted to the game really well,” he said said. “She loves running straight lines, she’s a competitive beast, loves multiple efforts. “She loves the opportunity to get up in front of goal and put some pressure on in the forward line. “She relishes the contest, just loves to be in the contest.”

While East has been highlighted as one of the draft contenders after a sensational year, the Swan Districts talent is just focused on the here and now, and what she can control – ongoing improvement – and then let everything else take care of itself.

“(I want to) just to get the best out of myself and really improve on the skills that I’m trying to work on now, and obviously in the long-run try and get drafted,” East said.

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 5 – East Perth vs. Swan Districts

AFTER an unforeseen week away due to West Australian lockdown, the WAFL Colts returned on the weekend for Round 5. The latest featured game saw East Perth take on Swan Districts at Leederville Oval on Saturday morning, with the Royals running away 34-point victors to remain top of the table.

A fast start saw the hosts look like beating their opponents black and blue, booting four goals to nil in the opening term. But Swans wrestled back some momentum and territory during the second and third quarters, answering each Royal run to remain just within striking distance at both of those breaks.

But a powerhouse final period saw East Perth pick up its third victory of the 2021 season, bookending the game nicely with a further five goals to put some meat onto the bones of its winning margin. Boasting a terrific conversion rate, the Royals won out 13.5 (83) to Swans’ 7.7 (49), with both sides now losing players to the Public Schools Association (PSA) competition.

SCOUTING NOTES

East Perth:

#4 Ethan Regan

The West Coast Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect showcased some exciting traits in the forward half, starting brightly and capping off his game with a couple of nice moments. Regan got amongst it early through sheer work rate, impacting ground level contests and applying good defensive pressure. He cut across to take a nice intercept mark inside forward 50 in term one, which saw him kick his sole goal of the game. Regan’s speed and skill would later come to the fore as he combined well with Jye Amiss, streaming forward and hitting targets by foot. Late in the piece, he popped up with a pair of eye-catching overhead marks on the move, reaching the ball at its highest point.

#7 Jye Amiss

Another who started brightly for the Royals, Amiss snared three of his four goals by 4:30 into the second quarter. Stationed almost exclusively inside attacking 50, the promising key forward had two goals on the board in a flash through terrific forward craft, quick reactions and innate goal sense. He is said to have improved his ground level work this year, and it showed in those moments. An in-the-back free kick during term two gifted Amiss his third major, while number four came in the final quarter after a mark on the lead. Goalkicking exploits aside, Amiss also had a nice moment in the third term as he desperately ran down an opponent, holding the ball.

#9 Kade Dittmar

While he was a force for most of the game, Dittmar really came to prominence during a powerhouse final quarter. His explosive ability from the centre bounces was evident, as well as his power running through the middle of the ground. Dittmar would be seen getting first hands on the ball, breaking away to bomb inside 50, and following up his kicks all in the same chain. His ability to stand up under opposition heat, fend off, and dish out was also noticeable in the earlier stages, before Swan Districts’ midfield got on top in term two. Still, Dittmar was able to impact through the middle and was very clean with his shorter-range disposal by foot – especially for such a bullocking inside type. Considering his primary role, he seems quite well balanced.

#26 Kaden Harbour

Harbour is a handy small forward who also rotates through midfield, providing a good amount of spark wherever he goes. He arguably looked most comfortable inside attacking 50 during this outing, where he was able to snap up a couple of goals and take eye-catching aerial marks. After an indifferent opening half, Harbour began to better impact as the contest wore on, helping East Perth break clear at the start of the third quarter with two goals in quick succession. The first came from a big contested mark close to goal, where Harbour rose from the back, while the second was a quick snap just as deep as he arrived first to the spillage. Known for his high flying, he’s difficult to miss in full flight.

Others:

Jake Littleton was in plenty early on for East Perth, operating on a wing and catching the eye under his helmet. Through midfield, James Tunstill found plenty of the ball, as Jayden Peak provided a bit of spark moving forward. The raw talent of Sokaa Soka, another West Coast NGA talent, became more prominent as the game wore on, while Luke Lombardi did some nice things exiting out of defence.

Swan Districts:

#2 Max Chipper

A permanent fixture in Swan Districts’ midfield, Chipper ended as his side’s most prolific ball winner and did so with plenty of quick-minded plays. Reasonably clean at ground level, the diminutive mover is not the most quick or agile out of congestion, but makes up for it with good vision and decision making on the ball. He tended to air his kicks a touch but generally hit targets and backed himself to do so heading into potentially risky areas. After a slow start, he worked into the game well during the second term and nearly nabbed a goal on the run from long range. After a solid outing in the black and white, Chipper appeared to limp off late in the final quarter after miscuing a kick.

#23 Luke Taylor

Potentially the most impressive player afield, Taylor proved his pedigree with a three-goal haul full of promise. The brother of GWS defender Sam, Taylor is a raw key forward with equally good potential in the air. While it was not always rewarded, Taylor’s work up the ground and ability to provide a contest allowed the Swans a chance to chain up play forward of centre. He brought the ball to ground on multiple occasions and had a few almost-marks, which he should begin to hold as he grows. Taylor kicked his first goal in the second quarter, using his reach to pluck a high ball in the goalsquare before duly converting. His clever leading patterns saw him gain separation and become an inside 50 target during the third term, which led to goal number two. Capping off his day, Taylor was gifted a third major via a 50-metre penalty, proving a handy reward for effort.

Others:

19-year-old Ty Sears had some nice moments running off half-back and the wing, without always possessing the finished product he would desire. Ben Hewett and Noah Hannan were both productive in midfield, while West Coast NGA talent Lawson Humphries stood up in defence. Up the other end of the ground, Bryce Watson popped up for a couple of handy goals, as Darcy Jones showed good promise and zip at ground level and Tyrell Metcalf got busy.

AROUND THE GROUNDS:

Headlining the news around Western Australia’s latest draft crop this week was the League debut of Matthew Johnson. Fresh off a solid showing for the AFL Academy, the tall Subiaco midfielder notched 11 disposals and five tackles as the Lions went down to South Fremantle. Elsewhere, star key forward Jacob Van Rooyen is being rested by Claremont after his glandular fever diagnosis, as reported by the West Australian’s Jordan McArdle. The start of the PSA season has also seen a raft of players become unavailable for WAFL Colts selection.

Back in the Colts competition, East Fremantle found a way to edge Perth in their clash on Saturday morning. Key forward Jack Williams again played a starring role with four goals, as Josh Browne (35 disposals) had the ball on a string in midfield and Melbourne father-son prospect Taj Woewodin (27 disposals) continued his good form. Jack Avery was a Goliath-like in Perth’s defence with 41 touches and 13 marks, as Zak Meloncelli proved his class having dropped back down to Colts level from the Reserves grade.

West Perth notched its first win of the season with a 23-point triumph over Claremont, with gun midfielder Lochlan Paton again finding plenty of the ball. He racked up 27 disposals and nine marks after managing 28 touches last round, while Zac Fleiner (26 disposals), Jordan Berry (10 marks), and Zarne Robis (four goals) all contributed in different ways for the victors. Talon Delacey delivered 20 of his 27 disposals by foot for Claremont, as Kendyll Blurton showed plenty more promise for 24 touches and six inside 50s.

South Fremantle became the third team to land on three wins as the Bulldogs beat Subiaco by eight points, with Liam Brandis and Jacob Plunkett combining for seven goals. Caleb Stephens (29 disposals, nine marks) was also fantastic in the win, as Fremantle NGA talent Ashwin Malik more than held his own in defence. Fellow NGA prospect Jesse Motlop kicked a goal from his 10 touches. Meanwhile, Jacob Evitt (18 disposals, two goals) and Blake Morris (13 disposals, seven marks) were solid for Subiaco.

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 3 – Claremont vs. Perth

THE 2021 WAFL Colts competition rolled on into Round 3 over the weekend, with the four fixtures providing some fairly competitive action. The West Australian Under 19s talent continues to build into the new campaign, with Claremont and Perth both enjoying spurts of momentum in our featured match of the round, on Saturday morning.

After being blown out of the water by Swan Districts in Round 2, the Demons came out with hellish intentions and dominated the opening exchanges. The Tigers fought back valiantly though and got back to within striking distance at half time, before mounting a heap of pressure thereafter and eventually running out comfortable 43-point winners, 12.13 (85) to 6.6 (42).

We take you through some of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes. Please note, they are purely the opinion of the individual scout.


SCOUTING NOTES

CLAREMONT vs. PERTH

By: Michael Alvaro

Claremont:

#1 Arthur Jones

The speedy small is only light, but electric at full flight. He was initially a little fumbly at ground level and could not quite find clear passage out of traffic, but looked ominous once he worked onto the outer and was able to break the lines in a more linear manner. Having been sighted a lot in the back half during the opening half, Jones worked well at half-forward thereafter with good attacking run through the corridor. He finished nicely for his only goal of the game during term three after composing himself inside 50, capping off a promising 16-disposal display.

#2 Max Mumme

Mumme was Claremont’s second-most prolific ball winner on the day with 19 touches, and his drive from midfield was important as the Tigers took over after quarter time. His burst with the ball and repeat efforts in congestion made for some exciting passages forward, allowing his side to quickly gain momentum. He booted a goal late in the second term and proved a factor at ground level with hard tackles, despite showing raw disposal at times.

#5 Kendyll Blurton

One who has enjoyed a move into the midfield, Blurton was super classy on the ball and showcased great speed away from congestion. The Fremantle NGA prospect popped up in eye-catching bursts, often zipping away having sharked the ball cleanly, and dashing towards Claremont’s attacking 50. He did well to stay on the move and generate some energy in the engine room, with his spread to the attacking half also quite aggressive at times. Blurton also got on the board with Claremont’s first goal, finishing nicely from a snap in the second quarter.

#27 Gus Sheldrick

A necessary point of difference in Claremont’s midfield mix, Sheldrick was the contested bull for his side on Saturday. He finished well clear as the Tigers’ top ball winner with 28 disposals, contributing plenty of hard work at the stoppages while also accumulating touches around the ground. Sheldrick also showed good courage with a mark going back with the flight and proved the kind of player Claremont needed to set the tone after being well down at quarter time.

#31 Edward Allan 

A tall and rangy wingman who likes to attack with his forward run, Allan became more productive as the contest wore on. He showed good spacial awareness in the second term to mop up a loose ball and handball over his shoulder, before applying a shepherd to send his teammate away safely. Allan’s most impactful plays came after half time though, as he began to provide run-and-carry in the attacking half and put the ball into dangerous areas by foot. One transitional passage saw him incite a handball chain on the outer, before delivering well to Joshua Ledger inside 50. The son of former Hawthorn and Fremantle player, Ben, capped off his game with a set shot goal in the final quarter. He is not father-son eligible for either AFL club.

#35 Luke Brown

Arguably the standout forward afield, Brown was able to gain good confidence having been gifted two of his total four goals. The Under 17 state squad member first got on the board in term two after a Perth defender tapped straight to him, allowing for a straightforward snap conversion on the run. He was most dangerous during the following period though, making good on the quality service which came his way for two set shot majors, before snapping up a second gift as Perth again turned the ball straight over inside defensive 50. Having impacted the scoreboard, Brown went on to showcase more of his marking prowess leading up the ground in the latter stages, but at 200cm, has plenty of filling out to do as he develops. To his credit, he took his chances well and grew throughout the game.

Others:

Ben Ramshaw was one a reliable figure down back for the Tigers, notching 18 disposals and four marks. Tall defender Hugh Davies fared well in a tough job and even took on some of the kick-in duties. Another defensive standout was Samuel Gilbey, who provided daring dash and nice aerial plays from his post. In the ruck, Fremantle NGA Eric Benning highlighted his athleticism and ability to follow up at ground level, finishing with 14 disposals, 18 hitouts, and five marks. The Tigers were also serviced well by some exciting smalls and wrestled back momentum brilliantly.

Perth:

#11 Harry Quartermaine

The focal point of Perth’s attack, Quartermaine started brightly as the Demons got on top and finished with quite respectable numbers of 18 disposals, nine marks, and three goals. While not the tallest key forward in the competition, Quartermaine is able to compete aerially with his combination of strength and general forward nous. Time and time again, he gained massive separation from his direct opponent to mark on the lead, which was the method of attack for all three of his goals. If not for some inaccurate kicking and shots falling short, the Demons forward could well have finished with a bag, but that was not to be.

#14 Jack Avery

Undoubtedly the best player afield, Avery was also the most prolific by far as he gathered a whopping 39 disposals (29 kicks) and seven marks. The former Claremont defender swept up almost everything which came his way, reading the play better than anyone else to hit ground balls first and also inflict his usual intercept marking play. He pressed up aggressively in the first half to form a formidable wall at halfway, before later reverting to more work deep inside his own 50-metre arc. As the designated kicker from defence, Avery distributed mostly by foot and was usually reliable in that space, though saw plenty of balls come straight back his way as Claremont piled on late pressure. Still, Avery showed plenty in an under-siege position and looked primed to step up for a senior berth in quick time.

#19 Menno Inverarity 

One of Perth’s best midfielders on the day, Inverarity racked up 24 touches and worked hard for eight marks, while also laying nine tackles. He boosted his numbers well by doing some solid contributions on the inside, while also getting involved in handball chains and consistently working to provide an outlet option. His work rate got him a goal in the first term, the first of the day as he was left unattended inside 50. Inverarity accumulated up and down the ground, cleanly moving the ball on to his teammates with many touches which would often go unnoticed. He was also able to bring teammates into the play and proved productive overall.

Others:

Deklyn Grocott finished with 21 disposals and six inside 50s as one of Perth’s key drivers of the ball, while Angus Luers showed plenty of promise with his 17 touches and six marks, capped by a goal. Jarrod Sturch worked for 27 hitouts in the ruck, as Jack Evans showed good signs in midfield and Daniel Hill was lively up forward.

Image Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Vic Metro survives West Australian fightback at the death

VIC Metro survived a dramatic late fightback from Western Australia on Thursday morning, holding on to win by four points at Trevor Barker Oval after Chloe Reilly‘s post-siren set shot drifted wide in the Sandringham wind. The Big V led from the first goal and were in the box seat to coast to a straightforward victory, until WA turned up the heat in a dramatic last-ditch lunge.

Over two goals down heading into the final break and throughout much of the fourth quarter, the Black Ducks were at long odds to sneak ahead, but made a real fist of it as Amy Franklin and Ella Roberts got them back to within a goal. Metro looked to have the result locked up as Tahlia Gillard held the ball inside Metro’s defensive 50 with 30 seconds left, but a miscued kick across goal sent players into a scramble, as the second-last kick of the game landed in Reilly’s lap.

While her resultant shot went wide, the West Australians got around their number 25 and could be proud of the effort they showed to play out the game to the death. In the end, Metro’s win was perhaps the deserved result for their effort across the first three terms, though it was very nearly snatched from them. Either way, inaccuracy reigned amid heavy wind in the 4.13 (37) to 4.9 (33) result.

West Australian bottom-ager and MVP, Roberts was clearly the best afield in a losing effort; collecting a game-high 31 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s, and booting two goals. Her teammate Courtney Rowley dug in for 23 touches (18 handballs) and seven clearances through midfield, and Reilly had 15 touches. Lauren Wakfer did some good work in the ruck, and the spark of Makaela Tuhakaraina was eye-catching.

It was hardly surprising to see Georgie Prespakis (23 disposals, six clearances) and skipper Charlie Rowbottom (20 disposals, eight inside 50s) lead Metro’s count from midfield, supported well by small ball winners Amanda Ling and Emelia Yassir. Tall prospect Georgia Campbell showed good signs up forward and in the ruck, as Maeve Chaplin held up in defence, Stella Reid ran the outer, and Eliza James (four behinds) had plenty of chances deep forward.

The result sees Metro earn its first win of the carnival, while Western Australia has its one victory over the Allies in the bag. The Vics will go on to play Queensland, while the Black Ducks’ championships come to an end after wonderfully competitive outings.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.3 | 2.3 | 2.6 | 4.9 (33)
VIC METRO 1.3 | 2.8 | 4.10 | 4.13 (37)

GOALS:

Western Australia: E. Roberts 2, M. Tuhakaraina, A. Franklin
Vic Metro: P. Staltari, A. Ling, G. Campbell, T. Gillard

DC BEST:

Western Australia: E Roberts, C. Rowley, L. Wakfer, C. Reilly, M. Tuhakaraina
Vic Metro: C. Rowbottom, G. Prespakis, S. Reid, E. Yassir, M. Chaplin

2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Round 1 – South Fremantle vs. West Perth

THE 2021 WAFL Colts competition got underway on the weekend, with the four fixtures providing some fairly competitive action. It took little time for much of the West Australian Under 19 talent pool to shake off the cobwebs in Round 1, and fans were treated to high-scoring games with end-to-end forays and even a bit of spirit.

Our featured match of the round, played between South Fremantle and West Perth, exemplified everything good about the opening weekend of football. In a contest littered with momentum shifts and fast-paced transitional play, the Bulldogs came out on top by 14 points 15.11 (101) to 13.9 (87) in warm conditions at Fremantle Oval on Saturday morning.

We take you through some of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes. Please note, they are the opinion of the individual scout.

SCOUTING NOTES

SOUTH FREMANTLE vs. WEST PERTH

By: Michael Alvaro

South Fremantle:

#9 Julian Hultan

Hultan was a sensation in the attacking half for South Fremantle, finishing with half-a-dozen goals and proving a handful for opposition defenders. While not an overly tall player at 182cm, Hultan defied his listing to play like a key forward at times with the way he commanded space and worked strongly in the air. He opened his account with an opportunistic goal from nothing in the first term and added another in the second, but was sighted contributing more work up the ground before the main break. Afterwards, his forward craft came to the fore inside 50 with some really crafty goals. His composure and willingness to compete at ground level proved the theme for two third term goals, while contested marking became his MO in the fourth with another two majors. Overall, it was a memorable day for the 18-year-old.

#18 Aaron Drage

A key part of the Bulldogs’ strong midfield rotation, Drage won his fair share of ball on the inside early and did not mind getting nice and physical with the opposition. He looked to send the ball forward quickly from congestion with some hurried kicks away at stoppages, but also remained strong under tackling pressure to dish out by hand. As the game wore on, Drage also worked up to either end of the ground and was competitive in his efforts to ensure South could hold on for victory.

#20 Caleb Stephens

Stephens was South’s leading ball winner on the day with 22 disposals and provided some real drive from midfield with a game-high seven inside 50 entries. He looked to set the tone by wheeling and going quickly, while also working to string together some nice handball chains as South broke forward. Stephens almost troubled the scorers in the third term but pulled a snap wide, though his long kick to Lochlan Bloomer ended in a goal assist during the same stanza. He also ran hard back to defence in the fourth quarter after South was beaten in the middle, providing a clutch intercept at the death.

#21 Angus Fraser

Another of the Bulldogs to play a key hand in midfield, Fraser provided a handy point of difference with his willingness to stay on the move once in possession at the contest. He was not as overtly dominant as a pure ball winner, but did some nice things with ball in hand and most importantly, impacted the scoreboard. Fraser’s first major came from a crafty and clean finish at a forward 50 stoppage, showcasing his quick thinking. His second was a set shot conversion on the end of a 50-metre penalty, having initially cut across to turn the ball over inside attacking 50.

#37 Jesse Motlop

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) member and son of Daniel was lively in South’s win, rotating through midfield from up forward. He bookended his game inside the attacking 50 and constantly looked to create forward of centre, showing great confidence to take on opponents and baulk his way into open spaces. He first hit the scoreboard with some quick work over the back in term two, putting boot to ball with composure to snap through a classy goal. His second major was the highlight of the day through, as Motlop initiated a give-and-go hemmed in on the boundary, before cutting inside and snapping home once again. He is still a raw type who looks more comfortable up forward, but has rare instincts and constantly backs himself to make something happen.

Others:

Lochlan Bloomer was another South Freo forward to shine, taking his chances well for three goals on the back of some lively work inside 50. Liam Brandis and Ira Jetta were others to provide some spark in the front half, while Lachlan Turley played a key role down back and Toby Dodds‘ work on the rebound was terrific. Another Fremantle NGA prospect, Riley Colborne also showed promise on the wing.


West Perth:

#3 Zac Fleiner

Difficult to miss under his brightly-coloured helmet, Fleiner also has an eye-catching style of play. The run-and-gun defender loves to break the lines out of defence and strung together a number of passages with multiple running bounces. He is a kick-first kind of talent and often sent forward short, darting passes, but can refine some of his work at full tilt. His first term goal was one of the moments of the day, as Fleiner finished from long range on his favoured left foot having taken a couple of bounces and good meterage. While lightly built, another pleasing aspect of Fleiner’s play was his intensity and courage to work back defensively; flying for intercept marks and doing some dirtywork at ground level.

#4 Luke Reilly

Reilly was one who worked well into the game and began to show his best traits once he built up a full head of steam. His first good bit of play came in the second term, with a spearing pass to assist Jack De Marte’s goal. The nippy midfielder looked smooth on the ball and often looked to dart into open space before delivering forward passes by foot. He set the tone for West Perth’s ball movement with a relentless willingness to move it on quickly, constantly looking to move with intent. Reilly seemed to lift in the final term and kicked a goal on the run having taken the advantage from a free kick.

#8 Lochlan Paton

Paton is a player with a lot of class and while he was not overly prolific with 15 disposals, his high level was evident in nearly every possession. He started a little shakily with a poor kick across defensive 50, but redeemed himself with some nice moments in the first quarter. A couple of important defensive efforts led to goals for West Perth in term two; with the first being a smother as South Fremantle looked to break out of defence, and the second a terrific holding the ball tackle which had the same effect. Paton seemed to have more time on the ball than most others and showed off with some nice spins to break out of congestion cleanly. If he can begin to accumulate better and string together such moments more consistently, he could quickly rise in 2021.

#24 Jack De Marte

Leading all comers on the day with 23 disposals (20 kicks), De Marte was one of the more busy players out there. He built into the contest well and began to take hold after quarter time, propping nicely in congestion to get an open kick away and even sneaking forward to snare a goal in term two. His kicking became neater as the game wore on and he was one of the key West Perth players to lift when the game was on the line late. One particularly clutch play saw him lay a tackle and then deliver inside 50 for a Saverio Marafioti goal.

#28 Zarne Robis

Robis was clearly West Perth’s premier forward on the day and finished with four goals in a highly promising display. He took a bit of luck to get going, but exemplified the Falcons’ ability to be efficient inside 50 with two snap goals in the first term. Later, he would showcase his smooth set shot routine to complete the four-goal haul and catch the eye of many onlookers. At 191cm, the 19-year-old is not exactly key position size, but rather dynamic and versatile in the role he plays up forward.

Others:

Cooper Blackburn showed plenty of dash coming out of defence for the Falcons, while Saverio Marafioti‘s raw talent came to the fore up forward with bull-like attack and real penetration in his play. Kane Bevan‘s transition to a key forward role yielded one goal, as Liam McWha and Riley Sprigg battled well in the ruck. Harrison Baxter was also handy in the front half and Jordan Berry had his moments.

Image Credit: AFLNT Media

2021 AFLW U19 Championships match preview: South Australia vs. Western Australia

AFTER more than 18 months without an AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, the adjusted Under 19 Championships kick-off tomorrow with South Australia up against Western Australia. It will be the first match of the Round 1 fixtures that also feature Vic Country locking horns with Vic Metro, before the four sides – along with host state Queensland and the Allies – battle it out at Metricon Stadium on April 12 and 15.

South Australia come into the match with plenty of experienced inside talents and outside runners with great speed. Their defensive pressure and abundance of running defenders are other highlights of the squad that will hold them in good stead. For Western Australia, they have a dynamic and versatile line-up, with plenty of goal-scoring options, and contested marking talents who are strong one-on-one.

SA DEFENCE vs. WA ATTACK

B: Jamie Parish – Hannah Prenzler – Madison Lane
F: Ashleigh Reidy – Ella Roberts – Bella Edgley
HB: Tamsyn Morriss – Alex Ballard – Brooke Tonon
HF: Aisha Wright – Chloe Reilly – Mylee Leitch

There is plenty of X-factor in the front six for the Sandgropers, with Ella Roberts a bottom-age marking target with great athleticism and quick speed off the mark. She can pull down contested marks and snap remarkable goals, leaving the opposition in awe of ways to contain her. Hannah Prenzler has been named to potentially take her on first, with the Sturt talent able to read the ball well in flight, and will want to stay in front of her opponent given Roberts’ speed on the lead. Bella Edgley and Chloe Reilly are the other marking targets inside 50, with Madison Lane smaller than Edgley, but smart at ground level, whilst Alex Ballard will be an even match with Reilly in the air. Glenelg duo Tamsyn Morriss and Brooke Tonon will look to provide the run off half-back against a couple of youngsters in Mylee Leitch and Aisha Wight, while Jamie Parish will look to use her strength against Ash Reidy in the other pocket.

SA ATTACK vs. WA DEFENCE

HF: Laitiah Huynh – Georgia Swan – Tahlita Buethke
HB: Bella Mann – Beth Schilling – Emily Bennett
F: Lauren Breguet – Lauren Clifton – Jade Halfpenny
B: Emma Nanut – Matilda Dyke – Melisha Hardy

Up the other end, a small South Australian forward line will look to get the ball to ground and use their speed, with the forward entries crucial to the success of the Croweaters. Western Australia have the advantage in the air, with many of their defenders more than capable one-on-one, and taller than their respective opponents. Jade Halfpenny is the key tall inside 50 for the home team, and she has been named in a forward pocket against Melisha Hardy. The Swan Districts defender is good one-on-one, and whilst she has some toe, Halfpenny might have her in that regard, so will be better to utilise her speed on the lead. One-on-one Hardy will be difficult to beat, whilst Emily Bennett and Matilda Dyke are others in the same boat. Tahlita Buethke will have the speed in her matchup, with Lauren Clifton also having that advantage despite predominantly playing up the other end at SANFL Women’s level. Lauren Breguet returns after a couple of weeks off due to concussion, and she will have a great battle one-on-one with Emma Nanut, whilst Laitiah Huynh and Bella Mann are both tackling, fierce players who will not take a backwards step. Beth Schilling will have too much height in the air for Georgia Swan, but the Sturt forward will look to compete and bring the ball to ground and create scoring opportunities.

SA MIDFIELD vs. WA MIDFIELD

R: Zoe Prowse – Lauren Young – Zoe Venning
R: Sarah Lakay – Courtney Rowley – Makaela Tuhakaraina
C: Kate Case – Keeley Kustermann – Gypsy Schirmer
C: Naomi Baker – Dana East – Jaide Britton

The midfield battle has a massive number of not-to-be-missed one-on-ones. Regardless of who lines up on who, it will be a classic contest. Lauren Young is the youngest player on the field at 15-years-old but will have the height advantage over her rivals, and ironically is two centimetres taller than her ruck, Zoe Prowse. The Sturt tall has a great leap and will look to take advantage, but has an equal in that regard with Sarah Lakay incredibly athletic and nine centimetres taller than the South Australian. Both have similar attributes but Prowse has more experience and will cause headaches with second efforts around the ground. Lakay will look to get clean taps to the advantage of her teammates to stop Prowse applying pressure as that “fourth midfielder”. The battle between Zoe Venning and Makaela Tuhakaraina will be one that provides plenty of punch. Both have an incredible appetite for contested ball, and will not take a backwards step. Tuhakaraina has the upper hand in athleticism with elite speed and agility, but Venning is no slouch either, consistent across the board. She has more runs on the board as well, with her opponent coming from a rugby union background. Venning will have the footy smarts to go forward and impact the scoreboard there.

Courtney Rowley and Dana East will take on the West Adelaide youngsters in Young and Keeley Kustermann. Rowley and Kustermann both have terrific kicking skills and great balance, whilst East is terrific inside the contest with clean hands, able to distribute the ball to teammates on the outside. Young is developing her game with great ability in the air and around the ground, and will be too tall for her respective opponents around the ground and is the tallest South Australian in the match. Prowse will have to use all of her energy to battle against multiple opponents, with Lakay likely to receive support from Schilling and South Fremantle’s Lauren Wakfer, whilst Prowse will rely on Halfpenny and Jorja Eldridge as potential back up options. On the wings, AFL Women’s Academy member Gypsy Schirmer provides that elite speed, and Sandgropers co-captain Jaide Britton will look to contain her whilst getting the ball forward in transition herself. On the other wing, Kate Case and Naomi Baker both share similar traits with the ability to move the ball in transition and play off flanks as well.

SA INTERCHANGE vs WA INTERCHANGE

SA INT: Alana Lishmund – Jorja Eldridge – Julia Clark – Charlotte Dolan – Amelie Borg – Sarah Branford
WA INT: Lauren Wakfer – Emily Gunton – Tara Stribley – Emily Boothman – Amy Franklin – Nyra Anderson

The depth of both sides is impressive, though the bench talent goes in the favour of Western Australia, with AFL Women’s Academy member with Amy Franklin keeping the opposition guessing able to play up either end. Tara Stribley is easily a starting wing on any given day and will provide terrific run on the outside. Nyra Anderson is a goal-scoring machine and has come in due to injuries and is a 2001-born talent who is making her mark at WAFL Women’s level year after year. Developing ruck Wakfer, as well as fellow bottom-agers Emily Gunton and Emily Boothman round out the interchange. For South Australia, they have a host of fierce tackling talents there, led by Norwood’s Alana Lishmund, North Adelaide’s Julia Clark and Woodville-West Torrens’ Charlotte Dolan. Eldridge has the versatility to play in multiple positions, as does Amelie Borg who gets her chance as a bottom-age tall. At the opposite end of the height scale, the tenacious Sarah Branford will provide skill and decision making in the forward half.

OVERALL:

The game is set to be a thriller, with the teams really strong in different areas. It is predicted to be mild temperatures, but no rain at this stage, so the talls of Western Australia should be strong if the inside 50s are to their advantage. South Australia have the strength on the inside to win the ball forward, but cannot afford to hack it inside with the Sandgropers’ ability to intercept so well, and be in front position on their opponent. Once the ball hits the deck, the South Australians will be favoured, but a lot of the match will be determined by the midfields. The midfield that can take full advantage and get the ball forward in terms of quality rather than quantity will automatically be well placed to take out the match.

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

21 elite top-age prospects have been named in the 2021 AFL Academy squad, as the AFL reverts back to a condensed nationwide program. Previously, the intake entailed as many as 150 talents from around the nation being nurtured in their state hubs, but with cost cutting at the hands of COVID-19 the traditional model will be reinstated.

The squad, coached by former Collingwood defender Tarkyn Lockyer, is set to play a game against a Victorian state league side and participate in camps during the year. Players are still set to be added to the list with a number of spots left vacant, as the AFL and club recruiters collaborate to finalise the intake.

Among the standouts, current pick one frontrunner Jason Horne joins the likes of Collingwood father-son hopeful Nick Daicos in the squad. Horne has already gained senior SANFL experience with South Adelaide and has a wide range of weapons, including his speed, ball winning ability, and aerial prowess. Daicos, the son of Peter, has all the skill his pedigree would suggest and enters the elite pathway with a great reputation in the APS competition under his belt.

Victorians dominate the squad with 10 selections, with a far less compromised top-end highlighting the lucky dip that is the AFL Draft. Aside from Daicos, Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide, father-son), Austin Harris (Gold Coast, Academy), and Ned Stevens (Gold Coast, Darwin zone) are the only other selections with ties to clubs. In another shift from this year’s cohort, it looks set to be a talent pool consisting largely of midfielders at the top end.

>> A look ahead: 21 in 2021
>> 2021 AFL Women’s Academy

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

Braden Andrews (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Banks (Tasmania/Clarence)
Rhett Bazzo (Western Australia/Swan Districts)
Jase Burgoyne (South Australia/Woodville West Torrens)
Campbell Chesser (Vic Country/Sandringham Dragons)
Nick Daicos (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT/GWS Academy)
Cooper Hamilton (Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers)
Austin Harris (Queensland/Gold Coast Academy)
Ben Hobbs (Vic Country/GWV Rebels)
Jason Horne (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Blake Howes (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Matthew Johnson (Western Australia/Subiaco)
Cooper Murley (South Australia/Norwood)
Josh Rachele (Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers)
Matthew Roberts (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Josh Sinn (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Tyler Sonsie (Vic Metro/Eastern Ranges)
Ned Stevens (Northern Territory/Waratah/Gold Coast Academy)
Jacob Van Rooyen (Western Australia/Claremont)
Jack Williams (Western Australia/East Fremantle)

Featured Image: Joshua Rachele looms as a top prospect in 2021 | Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: Fremantle Dockers

FREMANTLE reeled in an all-local haul in this year’s National Draft, including a couple of bargain Next Generation Academy (NGA) talents and youngsters with senior WAFL experience at the top end. After finishing 12th in 2020 under new coach Justin Longmuir, Fremantle looms as a fast-rising club with one of the best young midfields in the competition. That youthful exuberance should continue to shine with the latest intake, as a versatile crop enters the Dockers’ ranks looking to make an immediate impact. With a couple of starting roles arguably up for grabs, that could well be the case in 2021 as the West Australian side pushes for finals relevancy.

FREMANTLE

National Draft:
#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers), Bailey Banfield (Re-listed)

The first round of this year’s draft was littered with versatile tall options and Heath Chapman was one of them. The Dockers may have been tempted by some of the midfielders still available, but instead selected the 193cm West Perth product with Pick 14. While Fremantle lays claim to a bunch of tall defenders already, Chapman’s running capacity and marking ability have him pegged as one who could develop either as a wingman, or even a swingman.

With Nathan O’Driscoll on the board after round one, the Dockers opted to trade up and secure his services at the start of the second round. His value is something which divided clubs and analysts alike, but should prove a very handy selection. He joins his sister, Emma in purple and promises to provide a tireless work-rate to go with an excellent inside-outside balance in midfield. It may be a tough engine room to crack, but O’Driscoll is a versatile type who can fit in on each line.

Fremantle staff would have come away laughing as NGA graduates Brandon Walker and Joel Western were bid on with picks in the 50s. Both players are arguably top 30 talents and have some serious athleticism to go with their footballing nous. Walker is an attacking half-back who love to take the game on and makes good decisions by foot, with his overhead marking another handy trait.

Western was the Claremont Colts captain this year and overcame injury to cap of a stellar campaign, also claiming best afield honours in the first WA All-Stars game. His ground level work and acceleration from congestion are excellent, with clean skills and goal sense making him an option to feature on Fremantle’s half-forward line early.

Rounding out the Dockers’ overall haul, Josh Treacy proved their only fresh selection in the Rookie Draft as Bailey Banfield was re-listed. The Bendigo Pioneers product is another Vic Country selection and one who could play the role Jesse Hogan was recruited for, as a tall target up forward with good presence. Treacy is an aggressive type who loves to throw his weight around and is working on building his running game to potentially even move further afield.

Featured Image: NGA product Joel Western is finally a Docker | Credit: (Retrieved from) Fremantle FC

2020 AFL Draft Preview: West Coast Eagles

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 West Coast, a side now two seasons removed from its 2018 premiership triumph but still well within the flag hunt. The Eagles’ strong and mature core remains, but their recruiting staff will again have to get creative at the draft table with another set of late selections. Having only come into the equation at Pick 49 last year, the Eagles’ current first pick now lies all the way back at 62, which makes predicting their final draft hand all the more difficult. It may well be the case that in the current environment, West Coast only makes one selection at this year’s event.

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

CURRENT PICKS: 62, 86, 90, 104, 115

2021 PICKS: WCE Rd 1 | WCE Rd 2, PTA Rd 2 | SYD Rd 3 | WCE Rd 4

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Nil.

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

LIST NEEDS:

Long-term squad depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 62)

Talk about a lucky dip. This year’s draft has been pegged as a ridiculously even one past pick 30, so just imagine the due diligence West Coast will have to do with its first selection coming at 62. Given the vast expanses the 2020 talent pool reaches, West Coast may be a club to look local with what will likely be its sole pick in the National Draft. The likes of Shannon Neale and Kalin Lane, two West Australian rucks, have been linked with the Eagles as long-term key position options. Both are late bloomers of sorts, with Neale an athletics convert and Lane a 19-year-old whose first full WAFL Colts season came this year.

Outside run and class could be another area of fulfilment for the Eagles, so they would be thrilled if a player of Isiah Winder‘s talent was still available in the fourth round. Defenders like Kellen Johnson and Jack Avery could also pique interest given their intercept and rebound qualities, though they are both far from the finished product. A mature-age coup may better suit West Coast’s list profile at this range, with creative South Australian defender Jacob Wehr entering the draft radar along with combine invitees Mitch Duval and Tom Highmore. While technically mature-age, they are all young enough to still provide long-term cove down back.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

West Coast’s current 2020 hand does not offer much flex in terms of live trading, but the Eagles could table their future picks to potentially move up the order and grab a steal. They lay claim to Port’s second rounder and Sydney’s third so if only one prospect is to come through the door this year, those selections may be moved on in order to really make it a good one.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will West Coast come away with just one National Draft selection?

What kind of role will West Coast look to stock long-term?

Can West Coast nab a major slider, or will it take a chance on less proven talent?

Will West Coast look local at the draft?

Featured Image: West Coast skipper Luke Shuey is set to welcome new draftees with open arms | Credit: AAP

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: Western Australia

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. West Australian talent on the precipice are next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after an exciting season of WAFL football.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

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

DEFENDERS:

Will Collins | Swan Districts
24/02/2002 | 191cm | 81kg

Collins caught the eye towards the latter end of season 2020 and capitalised on being selected for the Under 18 All Stars games with a couple of solid performances. He is a competitive type on the precipice of key position height, able to play on medium and tall forwards.

Keanu Haddow | East Fremantle
23/08/2002 | 183cm | 83kg

Part of Fremantle’s NGA, Haddow could earn a rookie spot after proving a key cog in East Fremantle’s Colts defence this year. He is a medium height but has enough strength to play against bigger opponents, providing a safe outlet on the last line. Could also develop into a midfielder with his ability over the ball.

Tyler Nesbitt | Peel Thunder
4/07/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Earned his way into this year’s state academy intake and showed good development as he moved from a forward role, to being used almost exclusively as a defender in 2020. He is generally a good user by foot who can also impact aerially with intercepts.

Ty Sears | Swan Districts
21/01/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

An agile outside runner who plays off half-back or the wing, Sears is a player capable of breaking the lines in transition with his speed and use by foot. When afforded the time and space, he can gain good meterage with running bounces and also hit the scoreboard.

Finn Gorringe | East Fremantle
29/05/2002 | 183cm | 77kg

A hard-nosed prospect with plenty of courage, Gorringe adjusted well this season to a defensive switch having previously cut his teeth as an inside midfielder. He is a no-frills kind of player who straight lines the ball and can split contests while also applying punishing defensive pressure.

FORWARDS:

Logan Guelfi | Claremont
29/05/2002 | 180cm | 70kg

Guelfi is the kind of player who provides real spark in attack, able to create and rack up score involvements while also fulfilling his defensive duties as a small forward. He is the brother of Essendon’s Matt and does plenty of exciting things on-field.

Nick Martin | Subiaco
3/04/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

A tall forward with good marking ability, Martin came on strongly as a 19-year-old prospect in 2020. He lead Subiaco’s goalkicking charts with a total of 13 and a full year of senior WAFL football has seen him stay in the draft conversation.

Sandon Page | Subiaco
17/04/2002 | 190cm | 80kg

Page proved a player who was hard to deny this year after a terrific season at Colts level. He booted two goals in Subiaco’s Grand Final triumph and also kicked a bag in the first All-Stars game, putting his name on the map. He is an accurate set shot who also brings others into the game and has decent athleticism.

MIDFIELDERS:

Sam Fisher | Swan Districts
03/07/2002 | 182cm | 85kg

A mature-age prospect who was previously on Sydney’s AFL list, Fisher moved to WA this year and took out the Sandover Medal in his debut campaign. He is clean at the contest and has no trouble finding the ball, but is working on his explosive burst out of congestion.

Callum Johnson | West Perth
11/10/2001 | 179cm | 77kg

Johnson is a tough ball winner who dominated the Colts competition early in the season to earn a Reserves berth. He works hard going both ways and racks up consistent numbers, but may be working on adding some polish to his game.

Max Spyvee | Claremont
176cm | 72kg

The best afield in game two of the Under 18 All-Stars fixtures, Spyvee is an exciting midfielder who zips forward as a terrific attacking catalyst. He won the 2019 Colts premiership with Claremont and impressed upon hitting the League grade late this season.

Jamison Ugle | Swan Districts
1/08/2002 | 181cm | 71kg

Ugle is a smooth-moving outside type who loves to run. He impressed enough in Swan Districts’ Colts side to earn selection in the Under 18 All-Stars games, where he provided plenty of x-factor. He comes from good footballing pedigree and is said to be a terrific character.

Lachlan Vanirsen | Subiaco
27/10/2002 | 182cm | 76kg

Vanirsen won this year’s WAFL Colts best and fairest and was best afield in the Grand Final as Subiaco earned premiership glory. He is hardly a flashy type, but adds great value as a reliable and clean ball winner who has peaked at the ideal time.

Conor McPartland | Perth
28/04/2001 | 176cm | 83kg

A midfield bull who won mountains of the ball at Colts level, McPartland proved his worth in 2020 as a 19-year-old prospect. He drives the ball forward through sheer grunt and power while also tackling hard, but may look to tidy up his disposal in future. Also fared well at League level late in the season.

RUCKS:

Solomon James | South Fremantle
3/11/2001 | 199cm | 98kg

A solidly build ruck prospect, James was a solid performer for the Bulldogs’ Colts side. Rotating forward from the engine room, James used his strong frame to impact aerially and provide first use to his midfielders. Also featured in the Under 18 All-Stars games.

Michael Mallard | West Perth
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 98kg

Mallard is a giant in the ruck and won more hitouts than any other player in this year’s WAFL Colts competition. He is a talented prospect with plenty of upside, able to mark well around the ground as one of the more impactful and mobile ruck options. Was an Under 16 and 18 state representative.

Featured Image: Max Spyvee during this year’s Under 18 All-Stars showcase | Credit: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter