Tag: Western Jets

Marquee Matchups: Eddie Ford vs. Oliver Henry

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Western Jets’ Eddie Ford and Geelong Falcons’ Oliver Henry – are two high-flying prospects who have already lined up on opposing sides at NAB League level, as well as in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase fixture. While neither player was able to break through for a representative Under 18 berth in 2019, both ran out for Under 17 digs in the ‘Big V’ after also representing their regions in the 2018 Under 16 National Championships.

Western’s Ford is a forward/midfielder with plenty of x-factor, able to break games open with his scoreboard impact and knack for taking big marks. Henry is similarly gifted in the air, but is more of a swingman having rotated from end-to-end for the Falcons last year. He is likely to spend a touch more time up forward in 2020, and will be a key part of Geelong’s talented squad after 15 NAB League outings last year. Ford managed one more appearance for the Jets as a bottom-ager, and will be a focal point as he looks to develop his midfield craft.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro

DOB: June 21, 2002

Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg

Position: General forward/midfielder

Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country

DOB: June 29, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: General forward/defender

ATHLETIC PROFILES

There is no recent testing data to feed off from either player due to precautionary preseason management; with Ford sitting out testing on account of a persistent knee niggle, while Henry took the safe route with his tight left hamstring.

However, it only really takes a couple of glimpses of both prospects on-field to recognise their athletic values. Both possess terrific vertical leaps, helping Henry to play above his size up either end, and allowing Ford to take eye-catching hangers in full flight. Ford is perhaps a touch quicker off the mark, and both players are quite agile in general play given their relatively lean builds. Endurance is an area which remains to be seen on either side, especially given their interrupted preseasons and the extended break.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Ford:

16 games
14.1 disposals
3.7 marks
1.4 tackles
1.5 clearances
1.9 inside 50s
0.4 goals (7)

Henry:

15 games
10.0 disposals
4.4 marks
1.1 tackles
1.5 inside 50s
0.8 rebound 50s
1.2 goals (18)

The closeness in this pair’s 2019 statistics is quite satisfying, each running out for a virtually identical amount of games and returning very similar numbers. The small differences can also be attributed to their respective roles; as Ford was able to run through midfield and pump forward some clearances while adding to those inside 50 numbers, while Henry penetrated both arcs in his swingman duties and provided slightly better marking numbers due to his intercept marking ability in defence. His role as somewhat of a third leading tall up forward also contributed to that, allowing the Geelong product to hit the scoreboard more often with over a goal per game. Ford booted goals in six seperate games, including two with multiples, while Henry managed multiples in five of his seven scoring games.

BEST GAME

Ford:

2019 NAB League Round 7 vs. Dandenong

20 disposals
10 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50
2 goals

Henry:

2019 NAB League Round 3 vs. Dandenong

11 disposals (10 kicks)
7 marks
1 inside 50
5 goals
3 behinds

Our selections make it seem as if Dandenong were whipping boys in 2019, but it is purely a coincidence that both players performed well against the Stingrays. Ford found the ideal balance between his midfield and forward craft, shifting through the engine room at times while spreading well around the ground and making his impact felt when forward of centre. His efforts were in vein given Western’s big loss, as were Henry’s in Geelong’s draw with the Stingrays. The Falcon’s seven marks as a forward target showcased that ability to play above his size, with eight of his 11 disposals also ending in scores. Henry did have higher disposal games, primarily in the backline, but we feel this performance better exemplifies the role he can play at the next level.

PREVIOUS MEETING

2019 NAB League Round 8
Western Jets 7.8 (50) def. Geelong Falcons 2.10 (22)

Ford:

12 disposals
4 marks
1 tackle
2 clearances
1 inside 50

Henry:

8 disposals (7 kicks)
6 marks
3 tackles
2 inside 50s

In what was hardly a memorable early-season clash between Geelong and Western, these two bottom-aged guns were kept relatively quiet. Still, they were able to show flashes of their best form, with Ford nearing his overall disposal average and finding space on the outer, while Henry was a viable marking option for the Falcons. Neither player was able to find the big sticks, and it is quiet understandable as Geelong managed just two majors to Western’s seven.

STRENGTHS

Ford:

Vertical leap
Clean hands
Overhead marking
X-factor
Impact

Henry:

Marking on the lead
Intercepting
Vertical leap
Versatility
Composure

If you weren’t already aware, both of these players are terrific markers of the ball. While vertical leap is a listed strength on either side, Ford and Henry use it in slightly different ways. While Ford can pull off those explosive pack marks, Henry uses his leap to intercept while sitting in the defensive hole, or to get extension on the lead as a forward. Henry’s dual-purpose marking ability makes him an ultimate utility, which is exactly why versatility is also listed as one of his assets. Ford’s knack for hauling in those mercurial grabs gives him a touch of x-factor, which is also seen in his ability to impact the scoreboard and break games open in quick time. Another string to Henry’s bow is his composure, usually a sure disposer by foot who fared well while the Falcons were under enormous pressure in 2019. Both players only need a few touches to truly damage the opposition, with their combination of athleticism and freakish skills setting them apart.

IMPROVEMENTS

Ford:

Consistency/accumulation

Henry:

Playing to size

Pin-pointing improvements for such high-level players is often an exercise in splitting hairs, but we continue to give it a crack. Neither of the listed areas are necessarily knocks on the players, but more so little adjustments which could be made along the path to becoming more complete prospects.

With Ford eying off more time in the midfield, he will need to up his accumulative value and become a more consistent figure in games. While stats aren’t everything and his ability to tear games apart in small bursts works up forward, imagine what impact he could have with more of the ball.

For Henry, while quashing his versatility would be silly, having him lock down or show greater strength in one specific role sometimes makes a prospect easier to recruit, as you know exactly what kind of player to mould at the next level. Given he can play like a key position outlet at just 187cm among juniors, he can perhaps work on better playing to his size in harnessing that ground ball game to excel in the AFL system.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Ford:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Peter Williams

Started the game with a bang, picking up eight touches and booting two goals in an eye-opening first term. He had his hands on it early leading outside 50, then kick a great running goal on the right from 40m out. His second goal came when Ford read the tap perfectly, pushed off his opponent in Errol Gulden and chucked it on his boot for it to sail through.

It showed his high-level footy IQ and goal sense all in one play. He was still very busy throughout the game with some nice touches, though his first term was his standout. Had a shot from 45m on the run in the third term but it sprayed to the left. His best is very good.

Henry:

2019 Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Ed Pascoe

The talented Geelong Falcon who is the younger brother of rising Cats’ defender Jack Henry showed plenty of his talent in what was a hard day for the Team Dal Santo forwards. He was still able to catch the eye; he hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a quality intercept mark in the goal square showing his speed and quick decision making.

Henry was strong overhead and clean at ground level but he also did the what was required defensively as well with some good tackles and smothers, he looks to be one of the most dangerous forward prospects in the 2020 draft.

Classic Contests: Jets stream past Dragons with inspired third term

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 13 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Sandringham Dragons. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides did battle in early July.

2019 NAB League, Round 13
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval, Williamstown

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 4.4 | 12.5 | 12.7 (79)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.7 | 10.10 (70)

Goals:

Western: A. Clarke 3, L. Failli 3, A. Manton 2, H. White, W. Kennedy, L. Green, J. Horo.
Sandringham:
C. Dean 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, B. O’Leary 2, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, K. Yorke, J. Worrell.

Best:

Western: W. Kennedy, C. Raak, J. Honey, J. Horo, B. Ryan, A. Clarke
Sandringham:
H. Ralphsmith, L. Carrigan, J. Voss, N. Burke, B. O’Leary, C. Dean

Draftees in action:

Western: Josh Honey, Emerson Jeka
Sandringham:
Finn Maginness, Ryan Byrnes, Hugo Ralphsmith, Louis Butler, Josh Worrell, Jack Bell

It seemed the end of the 2019 Under 18 National Championships, and a school football bye would spell trouble for the Western Jets as they readied to face Sandringham Dragons in Round 13 of the NAB League, but one inspired term helped the hosts pull of an unlikely victory at Downer Oval.

The Dragons welcomed back a host of big names, with six of their eventual nine draftees taking the field; including the likes of Josh Worrell, Finn Maginness, and Round 4 AFL debutant Louis Butler. Western would also lay claim to a good bunch of its top-end talent, led by 2019 rookie draftees Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka.

Some more respect could, or perhaps should have been shown to Western from the neutral, as the two sides sat level with 7-4 records to that point. Further to it, Sandringham’s form had somewhat abandoned them during an undermanned period, losing its last two matches and narrowly escaping a defeat to the lowly Geelong Falcons. Western had also lost in Round 12, but picked up wins in its previous four outings to contend for a top three spot.

Just as there was nothing to separate the sides’ win-loss records, they went into the first break level at 3.2 apiece. That was before the Dragons threatened to take hold, edging out to an eight-point lead at half time with help from the scoring end.

Speaking of taking hold, that was exactly what Western was able to do in a game-defining third quarter. Having managed eight total scoring shots for the entire first half, the Jets piled on the same number of goals within an electric 25-minute period, keeping Sandringham to just one in the process.

While the Dragons’ top-end talent help to enact a late surge from 34-points down at the final break, the damage was well and truly already done, seeing Western hold on to win by nine points on its home deck. The win saw the Jets leapfrog Sandringham on the ladder, but both sides were also jumped by Oakleigh, who also came into Round 13 with a 7-4 record.

The small and tall combination of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke produced an evenly-split 6.4 towards Western’s total, just over half of the winning score. They were two of three Jets to boot multiple goals, while Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of Dragons to manage two majors each.

Sandringham’s ball winners got to work despite the loss, as Ryan Byrnes led all comers with 28 disposals and a goal, while Maginness (24 disposals, one goal) and Butler (23 disposals) also impressed. Bailey Ryan was Western’s leading ball winner with 19 touches, followed by Honey on 18 and Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (16).

In an odd quirk, ex-Sandringham ruck Will Kennedy was named best afield for Western on the back of 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hitouts, and a goal. Bottom-agers from either side were also recognised, in the form of Western’s Cody Raak and Sandringham’s Lachlan Carrigan.

The Jets would go on to drop slightly to a seventh-place finish at 8-7, beating out Northern in an epic elimination final but going down to Gippsland in the semis. Sandringham remained consistent to finish fourth with nine wins and six losses, but fell short of its premiership dream in a preliminary final loss to Oakleigh.

Classic Contests: Jets hold off fast-finishing Rebels

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to just one year to mid-2019, where the Metro side snuck home on enemy territory.

2019 NAB League, Round 11
Saturday June 22, 11:30am
Mars Stadium

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 1.7 | 4.7 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN JETS 3.1 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 9.4 (58)

Goals:

GWV: C. Giddings, L. O’Brien, C. Nagorcka, L. Herbert, F. Marris, M. Martin, N. Caris
Western:
A. Manton 2, E. Ford, M. Cousins, K. Borg, J. Honey, H. Schumann, N. Reynolds, L. Vidovic

Best:

GWV: L. Herbert, M. Martin, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, M. Herbert, N. Stevens
Western:
C. Raak, L. Rocci, J. Kellett, L. Phillips, E. Ford, M. Cousins

Draftees in action:

GWV: Nil
Western:
Josh Honey (Carlton)

A battle of the two western sides went down in Round 11 of the 2019 NAB League, with GWV Rebels hosting the Western Jets in Ballarat on a late-June Saturday morning. Both sides were a touch undermanned amid the national carnival, with just one future draftee taking the field in Western graduate and Carlton rookie, Josh Honey.

The form between the two sides was heavily contrasted, with the Rebels coming off a 111-point belting at the hands of Eastern where they were kept goalless, capping a five-game losing run. The Jets were faring much better at that point, earning three wins on the trot including the scalp of Gippsland in Round 10 as they readied for their first meeting with GWV for the year.

It all meant Western came in right in the thick of a top three charge, sitting just two points off third and four off first in fifth spot at 6-3. On the other hand, the Rebels were down in 15th with their 2-7 record, but had some decent talent in which would have been hungry to arrest their alarming form slump.

For not of a lack of trying, the hosts found themselves immediately behind as Western adjusted better to the conditions, booting 1.3 to the Jet’s 3.1 in the opening term. The yips carried through to the second term for the Rebels too, this time exceeding Western’s scoring shots with a total of four, but putting them all through the behinds as the Jets managed 1.1 to open up a 13-point buffer at the main break, with double GWV’s score.

But with the game opening up slightly and the Rebels still within striking distance, we had a game on our hands. The home side proved as much, straightening up in front of goal to slam home three-straight majors in the third term to close the gap to eight points heading into the final stanza. While a goal to Mitch Martin midway through the term brought the margin back to a single point, Western had all the answers to run home seven-point winners in a tense finish.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton was the only player to notch multiple goals with two on a low-scoring day, with 14 individuals across either side finding the big sticks. GWV’s Liam Herbert led all comers with 28 disposals and a goal, followed by Riley Polkinghorne (26) and Martin (20) for the Rebels, while Daly Andrews (27) was among four Jets to rack up over 20 touches. Honey was impactful with a goal from 16 disposals, but it was Western Bulldogs NGA hopeful Cody Raak who was named the winners’ best with 14 disposals and three marks from defence.

The two sides would go on to meet again in Wildcard Round, with Western advancing to the finals on the back of a 50-point win having finished 7th at 8-7. The Jets would crash out to Gippsland in the semi-finals after overcoming Northern in their elimination bout, with GWV’s 6-9 season ending at that. Jay Rantall would be the sole GWV graduate to find a home at AFL level, though that could well change in future, while Honey and Emerson Jeka were both picked up in the rookie draft following their time at Western.

Classic Contests: Jets pip Stingrays in 2014 thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Dandenong Stingrays and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2014 when these two last had a series of thrillers, but the tightest was a three-point win to Western at Shepley Oval.

FOR MORE CLASSIC CONTESTS, HEAD TO OUR CLASSIC CONTESTS PAGE

2014 TAC Cup, Round 5
Saturday April 26, 11.30am
Shepley Oval

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.1 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN JETS 2.2 | 3.4 | 4.10 | 7.12 (54)

Draftees in action:

Dandenong – Bailey Dale (Western Bulldogs), Bailey Rice (St Kilda)*, Tom Lamb (West Coast), Jack Lonie (St Kilda), Mitch White (Melbourne), Jacob Weitering (Carlton)*
Western – Jayden Laverde (Essendon), Liam Duggan (West Coast), Connor Menadue (Richmond), Corey Ellis (Richmond), Brenton Payne (St Kilda), Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (Carlton)

* – denotes bottom-aged

Two teams deemed to be relatively even heading into the Round 4 contest, the Stingrays had started the season fairly strongly with two wins and one loss, but only marginally with a positive percentage. The Jets were a spot behind the sixth placed Stingrays on the ladder, with one win from four games, but that win was so large they had a higher percentage than their opponents. It came the round before when the Jets smashed Northern Territory to the tune of 122 points, while the Stingrays had bounced back with a 29-point win over Bendigo Pioneers following a loss to Geelong Falcons the week before.

The match was low-scoring throughout and the visiting side to Shepley Oval found themselves seven points up at the first break with two goals to one heading into quarter time. The Stingrays had their fair share of the play in the first half, but could not capitalise, adding just a further three behinds, as Western booted 1.2 in the second term for a 12-point half-time lead.

Neither team could quite find their range in the premiership quarter, as they combined for 3.9, though this time it was the Jets who suffered more. The Stingrays booted 2.3 to keep them in contention as Western failed to land a knockout blow with 1.6 and a nine-point lead that could and should have been more heading into the final break.

The final term saw as many goals kicked as there had been for the first three quarters combined. Dandenong piled on four majors to get right back in the contest, but Western’s three goals was enough to hold on, in a low-scoring thriller, By the final siren, the Jets won 7.12 (54) to 7.9 (51) to leapfrog the Stingrays on the TAC Cup ladder.

Star talent, Liam Duggan had a day out with 33 disposals, five marks, six tackles and one goal, while fellow potential first round prospect Jayden Laverde had 28 disposals, five marks – one contested – and two goals. Richmond’s first round pick that year in Corey Ellis was named among the best for the visitors amassing 26 disposals, two marks, three tackles and 1.3 for the match, while Jackson Volpato (25 disposals, one marks, seven tackles and a goal) was also in the best for the winners.

Other draftees who played for the Jets were Connor Menadue (15 disposals, one mark and three tackles), Brenton Payne (10 disposals, two marks and two tackles) and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (10 disposals, one mark).

For the Stingrays, future Demon Mitch White was named best-on thanks to 19 disposals, four marks and three tackles, not too far ahead of future Dog Bailey Dale (12 disposals, two marks and six tackles). Jake Lovett (21 disposals, three marks and five tackles) and Blake Mullane (22 disposals, one mark, six tackles and a goal) were others named in the Stingrays best.

Other draftees who took the field for the Stingrays included Tom Lamb (17 disposals, two marks and two tackles), Jack Lonie (13 disposals, two tackles) and bottom agers, Bailey Rice (seven disposals, one mark and three tackles) and Jacob Weitering (13 disposals, four marks – one contested – and four tackles).

By the end of the 2014 season, Western Jets would finish percentage ahead of Dandenong Stingrays – ironically in the same spots they were after this game – in sixth and seventh respectively. It would be the Stingrays to have the last laugh though, defeating the Jets by 15 points in the elimination final, then stunning the second placed Geelong Falcons by a whopping 53 points in the semi-final. Their run came to an end with the Stingrays on the opposite side of that scoreline, going down to Calder Cannons by 53 points in the preliminary final.

Classic Contests: Falcons pip Jets in a mid-season thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the two sides played out a thriller in Williamstown.

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 7.4 | 8.8 | 9.10 (64)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 5.2 | 9.4 | 10.7 (67)

TAC Cup Round 10, 2013
Saturday June 22, 1:00pm
Downer Oval

Draftees in action:

Western – James Sicily, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow, Connor Menadue, Brenton Payne*, Brett Bewley
Geelong – Lewis Taylor, Nick Bourke*, Teia Miles

* – denotes rookie

Geelong scraped past Western in the 10th TAC Cup round of 2013, taking the four points home from Downer Oval in a close encounter. The Falcons came in sitting pretty atop the ladder at 8-1, but suffered a 107-point pounding at the hands of the Christian Petracca-inspired Eastern Ranges in Round 8. Western’s form saw it enter on a two-game winning run, overcoming a 0-3-1 record in the previous month to sit sixth at 4-4-1 overall.

The Jets boasted five eventual draftees on the day, with Hawthorn’s James Sicily the prime top-ager of the group and the only one taken in the 2013 AFL Draft. Three bottom-aged Jets – Dillon Viojo-Rainbow, Connor Menadue, and Brenton Payne – would be picked up in their draft year (2014), while Fremantle mature-ager Brett Bewley eventually earned his spot at the elite level after a fantastic VFL career with Williamstown.

The visitors would have 11 players drafted over the next two seasons, but could only lay claim to three in this clash with 2014 Rising Star winner and new Sydney recruit, Lewis Taylor the pick of the bunch. Bottom-aged utility Teia Miles was also on the park, and has now returned home to Barwon Heads after a six-year career at Hawthorn. Former Geelong Cats rookie Nick Bourke also took the field, finding plenty of the ball through midfield.

The match proved one of two halves, with Western getting the better of the first before Geelong gained the late ascendancy. Three goals to two in the opening term saw the Jets sneak seven points ahead, a margin which doubled at the main break on the back of another four goals to Geelong’s three.

But as champion teams do, Geelong found a way to shift the momentum and swing on top when it mattered, helping themselves to a four-goal to one third quarter to move two points ahead at the final break. The Falcons’ superior finishing despite boasting three less scoring shots gave them the upper hand, as they managed the typically tough Williamstown conditions well.

Geelong would again edge a tense and low-scoring final term by 1.3 to Western’s 1.2, sealing the win with a much more complete second half performance where its midfield began to click into gear, and its forwards would pounce on the third term momentum shift.

Future second round draft selection Taylor was named best afield for his mammoth 37 disposal performance, dominating the ground ball while spreading well to get on the end of 18 handball receives. Bourke and Jacob Sharp also notched up 30 and 28 disposals respectively to aid Taylor with terrific efficiency, while Matthew Boag led the goalkicking stakes (three), and Luke Davis dominated the ruck with 30 hitouts. Miles, the only other Falcons draftee afield racked up eight marks from his 15 touches.

Sicily was, unsurprisingly among Western’s best with 24 disposals and six marks, while Menadue (13 disposals) and wonder-boot Viojo-Rainbow (13) were also recognised for their contributions as bottom-agers. WRFL guns Braden Ferrari and David Iaccarino took out their side’s top votes though, while future St Kilda rookie Payne snagged three goals to also be thereabouts. Bewley had a steady day with 18 touches, while former Williamstown teammate Billy Myers collected the same amount.

The match was the only fixture between the two sides in 2013, as Geelong went on to finish the regular season in first at 14-3, while Western finished fifth at 9-7. The Falcons’ season would come to a disappointing end at the hands of eventual premier, Eastern in the preliminary finals, with Western falling to Calder a week earlier.

Classic Contests: Clarke powers inaccurate Jets to thunderous win over NT

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 4 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Northern Territory Thunder Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 when the teams played out a one-sided contest in Williamstown, with Western soaring to a big win after quarter time.

WESTERN JETS 3.8 | 9.14 | 12.19 | 18.24 (132)
NT THUNDER 4.3 | 5.4 | 8.7 | 9.7 (61)

Round 4 | Sunday April 14, 2019
Downer Oval, 2:30pm

The Western Jets hosted Northern Territory on a blustery Sunday afternoon in Williamstown, looking to score its second win of the season after consecutive defeats cancelled out their Round 1 triumph. It served as the Thunder’s third NAB League fixture for 2019 as part of the Northern Academy cameos, with the Top-End squad also scratching for a win. After fruitless contests against the Gold Coast Academy and newly full-time appointed Tasmania Devils, it was also NT’s first game back against a Victorian opponent. They would head into the fixture minus a couple of AFL Academy stars in Joel Jeffrey and SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr, but boasted a bunch of youngsters with senior NTFL experience. For the Jets, talls were a key asset despite the absence of now-Hawk, Emerson Jeka, while fellow rookie draftee Josh Honey was also out of action.

In an opening term of swinging momentum, the Thunder got the jump twice to snatch a quarter time lead by the narrowest of margins. Wade Derksen‘s major was cancelled out by Samuel Clifford, before Cassius White helped Western sneak ahead. But three goals in a little over five minutes saw the Thunder surge back in front once again, with a further 1.5 from the home side taking them to within a goal of their opponents.

With the wind advantage and some slightly sharper finishing, the Jets then looked to take the game away from the visitors with 6.6 to NT’s 1.1, setting up a 34-point buffer at the main break – twice the Thunder’s score. Leading goalkicker on the day, Aaron Clarke began to have a say, booting three of his four goals coming within the second stanza, while White added his second and Cooper Mackenzie-George notched two majors of his own. Tyson Woods‘ first shot through the big sticks was the Thunder’s sole form of resistance, with the physical Jets finding their groove.

The scoring somewhat settled after the main break in a period of play akin to the opener, with the two sides sharing six goals evenly. The NT cut into the telling margin through another major to Woods after talented St Mary’s product Braxton Ahmat hit the scoreboard within the first minute, bringing their side to within four goals. But Clarke’s near-immediate response and a couple further daggers hit to the heart of the Territory’s comeback, with Western’s ascendancy pushed out to 36 points with one period to play.

The respectable margin was blown out in the fourth term to 71 points upon the final siren as Western added six goals to one to take full advantage of the strong tailwind. Saad El-Hawli joined in on the scoring act to add his second and third majors, with 2019 leading goalkicker Archi Manton firing a couple through as consolations. NT’s only goalkicker happened to be Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell, who capped off a solid outing with a classy six-pointer before going on to light up the NTFL for Wanderers. The Thunder simply ran out of legs in the end and could not make up the gap with the wind advantage, succumbing to Western’s superior scoring power.

Those avenues to goal were mostly through Clarke, who finished with 4.6 and was joined by White, El-Hawli, Manton, and Mackenzie-George as multiple goalkickers, with Western boasting an impressive nine individual scorers. On the ball, overager Daly Andrews (25 disposals, four marks, six tackles, six inside 50s) sharked the taps of fellow 19-year-old Will Kennedy (25 disposals, six marks, 28 hitouts) beautifully, as the two led all-comers for disposals. One to watch for this year, Lucas Failli booted 1.3 from 15 disposals, while Bailey Ryan almost had a day out with his 0.4 from 21 touches.

For NT, Southern Districts prospect Brandon Rusca also had 25 touches to go with five marks and six inside 50s, with bigman Stephen Cumming duelling well against Kennedy in the ruck to notch 18 disposals, 30 hitouts and a goal. O’Connell was dangerous as usual with a steady 18 disposals and one goal, with Maurice Rioli Jnr returning 16 touches as a bottom-ager, while St Mary’s teammate Jacob Long had 17 and talented inside midfielder Ben Jungfer saw it 15 times. Woods’ three goals were the standout alongside the feats of Ahmat, with both taking their chances from more limited supply.

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Western Jets

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at the final side in our series, the Western Jets who filled each of the won-lost-drawn columns with a mixed bag start to the season.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 22 points
R2: drew with Murray Bushrangers
R3: lost to GWV Rebels by 25 points

The Jets got to experience the highs, lows and everything in between across the opening three rounds of the season. Western started off with an impressive win over Bendigo Pioneers, could not be split when they faced Murray Bushrangers, and then after a strong start, were just overrun in the second half against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Isabelle Pritchard (22.7 disposals, 3.3 marks, 1.7 hitouts, 7.3 tackles, 3.5 inside 50s, 3.3 rebounds)

The top age AFL Women’s National Academy member was her side’s leading ball winner over the first three rounds and seemed to be everywhere on the ground. After becoming a really consistent half-back in 2019, Pritchard showed she can play through the midfield and used her taller and stronger frame to win the ball at stoppages and get it forward for her teammates to score. A prominent tackler as well.

Montana Ham (20.3 disposals, 5.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 4.0 inside 50s, 3.7 rebounds, 1 goal)

One of a number of bottom agers, Ham looked more than capable of matching it against her older peers, having a number of highlight reel moments in the opening few rounds. She finished the three games with plenty of stats across the board, including more than 20 touches and five marks per game, having some of the strongest hands going around. Her goal from 50m against the Rebels in Round 3 was one of the best of the competition.

Amelia Velardo (18.0 disposals, 5.0 hitouts, 4.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds)

Playing the tough gig of undersized ruck, the new top ager seemed to take everything in her stride and was one of the Jets’ top four performers across the first two rounds. She did her best in the ruck, but then would dominate her opponent once the ball hit the ground, showing off great athleticism and the ability to cover ground and offer herself as a target around the field.

Charlotte Baskaran (20.3 disposals, 2.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, 3.7 inside 50s, 2.7 rebounds)

One of the best ball users and decision makers in the competition, the bottom age talent still has a couple of years to run in the system and will be one to watch in the future. She often comes off half-back and takes the game on, and more often than not is able to hit targets in situations very few can. A player expected to rotate around the ground in coming years, but once she has time and space, can do some real damage to the opposition.

Caitlin Sargent (9.7 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 4 goals)

The forward getting on the end of the most opportunities from her teammates, Sargent booted four goals in her three games, and then would also work hard up the field to create opportunities for others. She would go on searching leads and then apply pressure to the opposition, and as a middle ager still has a year to run in the program. She played eight games last season, but has already made noticeable improvement from her few games in 2020, so another to keep an eye on in 2021.

Others who have stood out: Nikita Wright, Ciara Singleton, Jemima Woods, Sarah Golding

A top ager in Wright and an overager in Singleton come into the list after strong starts to the season, with Wright working hard through the midfield and Singleton being a reliable option in defence, whilst pushing up the ground to pump the ball inside 50 on a number of occasions too. Woods and Golding are both middle agers who have another year to run in the system, and both showed good signs to start 2020.

Classic Contests: Last-placed Jets shock ladder-leading Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Western Jets and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017, when a top-of-the-table Oakleigh Chargers outfit was expected to make light work of last placed Western Jets heading across the West Gate Bridge to play at Burbank Oval. Except nobody told future pick one, Cameron Rayner.

WESTERN JETS 3.4 | 4.11 | 5.12 | 8.15 (63)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 5.2 | 7.7 | 8.9 (57)

Round 15 | Saturday, August 5, 2017
Burbank Oval, 10.30am

The Round 15 clash took place at Western Jets’ home ground down at Williamstown. When first takes on last, not too many expect a surprise result, especially when the opposition is littered with potential AFL stars. That was to take nothing away from Western who had a couple of guns of their own in highly touted AFL Academy members, Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty, and the smooth moving Buku Khamis, as well as a couple of talented bottom-agers in Xavier O’Halloran and Zak Butters. It was more Oakleigh’s roll call was ultra impressive as Jack Higgins, Xavier O’Neill, James Rowbottom and Riley Collier-Dawkins would go on to be drafted a couple of months later, with Isaac Quaynor and Atu Bosenavulagi joining them in the AFL a year later, and even a 16-year-old Dylan Williams was strutting his stuff and showing his future potential for the Chargers. The round marked the return of the school footballers, with Western having gone down to Sandringham Dragons by five goals the week before, while Oakleigh had triumphed over Calder Cannons by 33 points.

Straight out of the blocks it was clear the Jets were firing with the return of their stars, Rayner and Fogarty. In fact it was the latter who got on the board early, and while his major was countered by the clever Higgins, Western added a couple more majors before the first quarter break to lead by 14 points. It had taken Oakleigh more than 10 minutes to score, but considering the blustery conditions, it would be hardly panic stations just yet. Soon, it was the Chargers that decided enough was enough, with Higgins snagging is second, and then Lucas Westwood and Daniel Scala piling on the next three goals to regain the lead for the visiting team by less than a kick. Up stepped Rayner who booted a crucial major late in the quarter for his side to head into the main break with a three-point advantage still.

Former basketballer, Matthew Day showed why he was highly rated with a clever goal four minutes into the third term to hand his side back the lead, something that would change regularly from this point on. O’Halloran kicked truly for his side and the home fans were up and about again, before future Eagle, O’Neill kicked his first to hand his side the lead – a seven-point buffer going into what would be a highly anticipated last quarter. When called upon, Rayner stepped up again to kick a crucial major and draw within two points, though no sooner had he done that and Scala had his third and the Chargers had some breathing space. Blake Graham kept the game on edge with a goal in the ninth minute mark, and for the next 10 minutes, a Jets behind was the only score, and the close was ticking down with two points separating the sides. Neither team was giving an inch until Toby Kopa popped up with a massive match-winning goal with eight minutes remaining as the Jets were able to trap the ball in their forward half for the most part, and despite inaccuracy, hold on for a memorable six-point win.

The soon-to-be number one pick in Rayner had a day out with 23 disposals, two marks (one contested), 11 tackles and 2.4 in a prominent effort through the middle of the ground and resting forward. Fogarty (17 disposals, three marks, nine tackles and 1.3) and Khamis (17 disposals, five marks – three contested) were also named among the best, while O’Halloran finished with 18 disposals, three marks, two tackles and a goal. Butters was a highly touted prospect but still very light, picking up the six disposals and one tackle in the challenging conditions.

For the Chargers, the always unlucky in terms of injury, Jack Roughsedge racked up 28 disposals and seven tackles, while Williams was named second best with 16 disposals, one mark and one tackle. Higgins had his lion-share of the ball with 27 disposals, two marks, six tackles and a goal, while Scala was the dominant goalkicker with three majors from 10 touches, one mark and three tackles. Collier-Dawkins (six disposals) and Quaynor (five disposals) were quiet, while Rowbottom (16 disposals), O’Neill (15 disposals, seven tackles and one goal) and Bosenavulagi (eight disposals and one goal) were solid.

Oakleigh would still finish as minor premiers for the 2017 season, but due to the straight elimination finals series – after smashing Northern Knights at Victoria Park – would bow out to Sandringham Dragons in the preliminary finals. Despite Western Jets picking up three wins in the last four games of the season – thanks to the inclusions of Rayner and Fogarty – they would fall short of finals, finishing 10th and six points outside the top eight. It was reasons like this that ultimately saw AFL Victoria change the finals series to include Wildcard Round.

Classic Contests: Jets hold on against fast-finishing Cannons

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 1 clashes in the NAB League this year between Calder Cannons and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, when the teams met in Round 8 and despite the Jets getting off to a dominant start, had to hold on against an impressive Cannons outfit in the last term.

WESTERN JETS 3.3 | 5.5 | 7.6 | 8.7 (55)
CALDER CANNONS 1.1 | 2.4 | 3.8 | 7.11 (53)

Round 8 | Saturday, May 28, 2016
Burbank Oval, 11am

With the APS and AGV school competitions underway, two sides that were missing a couple of their top talents went head-to-head in Williamstown at the end of May, 2016. It was Round 8 and both sides had struggled thus far, registering two wins from seven games to sit ninth (Calder) and 11th (Western) respectively. In fact, even Queensland – a side that had played just the two games total – was above the teams in eighth. The sides were coming in off a week’s rest, and unfortunately for Calder, it had a lot to think about after running into the red-hot Geelong Falcons at Kardinia Park and suffering an 86-point loss under lights, while Western had got up in a tight won for their second win of the year against Bendigo Pioneers.

As usual fans were treated to blustery conditions in Williamstown, as the home team got off to a strong start, kicking 3.3 to 1.1 in the opening term. They soon extended that lead to 19 by the main break as future North Melbourne tall, Tristan Xerri was proving to be a problem for the Cannons. Western was able to maintain a strong lead even through the third term, booting another two goals to Calder’s one, to hold a 22-point advantage and restrict the Cannons to 3.8 by the final break. Given the circumstances, an almost-four goal break seemed more than enough. However in the muddy and swirly conditions, Calder found a way to break back, booting four consecutive goals to scare the life out of the home side and hit the front, but Western stepped up for a match-winning goal to win by two points. It was made all the more tense that in the final five minutes, the ball was trapped inside the Cannons’ forward 50.

Xerri was playing in just his second game, but caught plenty of attention for his four goals from 13 disposals, seven marks (four contested), three tackles and 11 hitouts in the win. Connor Griffiths was named best-on for the Jets with 23 disposals, two marks and eight tackles, while Brodie Romensky had a match-high 12 tackles in the mud to accompany 24 disposals and six marks (one contested). Daniel Foley was the other Jet who was praised for his performance with 23 disposals, three marks and two tackles, often on the receiving end and trying to create metres gained. The other Jet to land on an AFL list was another Roo in Oscar Junker, who had 13 disposals, four marks (one contested) and four tackles.

For the Cannons, future Cat Zach Guthrie was brave in the defensive 50, recording 21 disposals, six marks (one contested), and nine tackles, while captain Brad Bernacki had 12 disposals, four marks (one contested) and nine tackles rated highly by the coaches. Muhammed Saad (20 disposals, two marks and six tackles) was impressive, as was Ben Caluzzi (23 disposals, five marks, two tackles and a goal). Tyson Lever – brother of drafted Jake – had 12 disposals, five marks and 10 tackles working hard in the back 50. Whilst only the three players that day were eventually drafted, there was plenty of future state leaguers running around in the tough conditions.

Calder Cannons would end up making the finals, finishing seventh overall by winning six of the last 10, while Western Jets would two of the next 10 and finished 11th on the table. The Cannons unfortunately ran into a full strength Oakleigh Chargers outfit in the elimination final and suffered a 106-point defeat.

Second half charge helps Rebels remain undefeated in wind-swept Ballarat

AN impressive second half from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at wind-swept Mars Stadium in Ballarat, has seen them remain undefeated after three rounds. The winners did not kick a goal until the twelfth minute mark of the third term, but when they got a taste for it, they took control, running out 4.9 (33) to 1.2 (8), keeping the Jets to just two behinds after quarter time in an impressive 25-point win.

With a huge breeze blowing to the Midland Highway end of the ground, the Jets were able to have the early advantage, but it took a remarkable effort from Montana Ham just inside 50 to get the first and only score of the first term on the board after some nice running and the release handball from Charlotte Baskaran. Ham utilised the open goalsquare for it to bounce home with a wonderfully accurate kick, coming moments after she rebounded it out of the back 50 following a safe mark to repel a Rebels attack. While the scores were not piling up, there were a number of defensive efforts from both sides with Marli Klaumanns-Moller laying a terrific tackle on Isabella Simmons to save a goal in the opening five minutes, while Melina Ciavarella did the same up the opposite end to stop a certain goal. Isabelle Pritchard was having an impact off half-back, with the AFL Women’s National Academy member teaming up well with Ham and Baskaran in the back half of the ground, while Caitlin Sargent was presenting at every opportunity. Despite the Jets largely dominating possession – and an impressive run down the win by Baskaran – they only led by six points heading into quarter time. For the Rebels, Alice Astbury was having an impact on debut, while Zoe Larkins was busy in the first term.

Now with the breeze themselves, the Rebels continued their brutal defensive pressure with Chloe Leonard laying a ripping tackle at half-back, as Round 1 hero, Renee Saulitis achieved the home team’s first score – albeit a behind – with a snap from a tight angle. Astbury was continually building through the middle with some important touches, while Maggie Caris‘ height and leap was a huge factor in the middle giving her smaller midfielders a chance at first touch against the taller Jets’ midfield. Sargent continued to be a headache for the Rebels defenders with her work up and down the ground, while Amelia Velardo was doing her best in the ruck, but impressing around the ground with a long wobbly kick inside 50 but Annie Gray could not quite find the space to capitalise close to goal and Nyakoat Dojiok cleared the danger. Late in the term, Ham copped a knock to the back of her head through a marking contest, but bounced back up and with Pritchard was a key reason for the Jets maintaining a three-point lead at half-time and keeping the Rebels goalless.

It was the third term where the game was won, with the Rebels remarkably having the ball locked inside their forward 50 for the majority of the quarter, with their defenders holding a high line. Despite the Jets having the wind, they could not get it into the forward 50 until the 15th minute of the term, with the only saving grace being the fact that the Rebels had kicked three consecutive behinds to be level with the Jets, 0.6 to 1.0. Such was the wind up the scoreboard end that one shot on goal from a snap by the Rebels held up in the breeze and came back into the field of play for the Jets to clear. Simmons was continually involved but could not break free, and it took an unlucky high tackle from a Jets defender on Astbury to finally break the deadlock. The debutant won the free kick straight in front and slotted it truly 12 minutes into the term. While it was the only goal of the term, it handed the home team a six-point lead with a quarter – and the wind – to play. Western’s big ball winners were still finding plenty of it, with Velardo (20 disposals, five tackles), Pritchard (17 disposals, three marks and three tackles), Ham (17 disposals, two marks and four rebounds) and Baskaran (15 disposals, two marks, eight tackles and three inside 50s). For the Rebels, Friend (14 touches, three marks, four tackles and five inside 50s) and Astbury (14 disposals, two marks and six inside 50s) were the best, while Caris was up to 23 hitouts from 12 disposals and a couple of inside 50s.

Both sides knew the importance of an early goal in the contest, and Sargent almost got her name in the books with a great passage of play. She won the ball off Pritchard at half-forward, kicked it long, then worked her way into space to mark uncontested about 35m out from goal. The set shot was on target but touched on the line. The Jets had a couple of chances in the final term, but the wind was making it difficult for the visitors, only kicking the two behinds as the likes of Astbury and Friend were combining well between midfield and forward. In fact it was Friend who took it upon her self on a tight angle to kick a running goal at the end of a chain of handballs to give the Rebels a 10-point buffer, and then backed up not long after to take a strong one-grab mark outside 50 on the lead. Sargeant, along with Ciara Singleton was working hard in the defensive half to nullify the forward thrusts. It was feeling like one more major would seal the deal, and it came through Paige Scott who perfectly roved a contest with the ball getting out to her and she snapped it off a step for a terrific goal and a 16-point lead at the 12-minute mark of the term. Lilli Condon was also working hard through the midfield with bursts and had a chance on the end of another chain of handballs, but missed, as did Saulitis who finished with four behinds for the day, but all were from tricky angles under pressure.

It was fitting that the best on ground, Astbury (15 disposals, three marks, six inside 50s and two goals) would put through the final nail in the coffin off Friend (19 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six inside 50s and one goal) who pumped a ball-burster into her teammate on the lead and pierced one home. It was a real team effort from the Rebels who celebrated the win, while the Jets were strong for the most part, but were unable to take advantage with the wind in the third term, and then the opposition got momentum in the final quarter. Also impressive was Caris (15 disposals, four inside 50s and 33 hitouts) through the ruck and Condon (16 disposals, five tackles, six inside 50s) across the ground, while Dojiok (12 disposals, two inside 50s and two rebounds) and Leonard (12 disposals, three tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds) were impressive in the back half. For the Jets, Pritchard and Velardo both shared in 50 disposals and 19 tackles, as well as a combined four inside 50s and eight rebounds. Ham worked hard for 19 touches, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Baskaran (17 disposals, two marks, nine tackles and three inside 50s), Singleton (11 disposals, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds), Sargent (10 disposals, eight tackles) and Klaumanns-Moller (13 disposals, five tackles and five rebounds) were all impressive for the losing side.

GWV REBELS 0.0 | 0.3 | 1.6 | 4.9 (33)
WESTERN JETS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

GWV: A. Astbury 2, P. Scott, E. Friend.
Western: M. Ham.

ADC BEST:

GWV: A. Astbury, M. Caris, E. Friend,  L. Condon, N. Dojiok, C. Leonard
Western: I. Pritchard, A. Velardo, M. Ham, C. Sargent, C. Singleton, C. Baskaran

DC Medal:

5 – Alice Astbury (GWV)
4 – Maggie Caris (GWV)
3 – Isabelle Pritchard (WJ)
2 – Ella Friend (GWV)
1 – Amelia Velardo (WJ)