Tag: will bravo

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders

STRONG, big-bodied, and tall inside midfielders have been in vogue for quite a while, but this year’s crop of engine room operators comes in varied shapes and sizes. Though they may not currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

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

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

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

Sam Berry
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
180cm/81kg

Berry is one of the smaller inside midfielders in terms of height, but one who works incredibly hard and is not afraid to put his head over the ball. The 180cm Gippsland product slotted right into a talented Power engine room pre and post his school football commitments with Melbourne Grammar, proving a match winner on his day with terrific extraction, endurance, and powerful burst from the contest. Berry averaged 17.7 disposals and 4.4 clearances across his 10 NAB League outings, going at a rate of 52 per cent contested possessions while showcasing his two-way work ethic with the all-important addition of 6.5 tackles per game.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies
191cm/84kg

The leading Gold Coast SUNS Academy prospect for 2020 is Davies, a prototypical big-bodied inside midfielder who will fit right in at the elite level given his physical attributes. Davies ran out four times for the SUNS during their NAB League stint, averaging an even 18 disposals and almost four clearances and tackles per game. He was not quite able to break into the 2019 Allies side, but represented Queensland at Under 17 level and was a prime mover in the Under 17 All Stars showcase fixture. If not for his ties to an AFL club already, Davies would perhaps sit even further up draft boards and is set to cost the SUNS a pretty penny in terms of points come draft time.

>> Get to know
>> Marquee Matchup

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies
182cm/75kg

Tasmania’s most promising midfield candidate is Davis, a consistent performer who would have always been among the first Devils on the team sheet during their inaugural full-time NAB League season. He is another who is not tall in comparison to other inside types, but his desire at the contest and ability to get first hands on the ball more than make up for the fact. Davis averaged 22 disposals (53 per cent contested) as Tasmania’s prime mover in 13 NAB League games as a bottom-ager, accompanied by a whopping 7.8 tackles and 5.4 clearances per outing. With those kind of numbers, he earned a call-up to the Allies side for a single game and will be a key cog in the same side for 2020.

>> Draft Watch

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia
187cm/80kg

One of the more prominent names among the overall 2020 draft crop is Edwards, whose allegiance to the Adelaide Crows as a potential father-son selection remains up in the air. The Glenelg product has already cracked the SANFL Reserve grade, and was a key part of South Australia’s defence throughout the entire 2019 Under 18 National Championships. At 187cm and 80kg, Edwards has remarkably not added a single centimetre to his height since his Under 16 year but remains a readymade body once called upon at senior level. Having been utilised as a general defender who uses the ball efficiently, Edwards is primed to move back into the middle where he can use his big frame and contested prowess to dominate at stoppages.

>> Get to know
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Finn Gorringe
East Fremantle/Western Australia
183cm/77kg

Gorringe is somewhat of a bolter among the top-level ranks, but looks set to slot straight into the West Australian state side in 2020 as a ball winning midfielder. The East Fremantle product impressed across his six WAFL Colts outings for the Sharks in 2019, averaging 15.5 disposals and a tick over four tackles to again fit into the category of those who remain relevant going both ways. A very handy string to Gorringe’s bow is his ability to find the goals as an inside type, managing a goal per game last year in a tick to his versatility.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide/South Australia
184cm/81kg

There is a good amount of South Australian representation on this list, and Kraemer is yet another solidly-built ball winner who is set to shine in 2020. At 184cm and 81kg, the South Adelaide junior has the perfect makeup for his position, but is more than just an inside battler in the sense that he can also play as a defender, and may swing up the other end at SANFL senior level. He may not have cracked last year’s Under 18 state side, but has been a mainstay in the Academy system and was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. Kraemer played every game in the Panthers’ run to last year’s SANFL Under 18 grand final, finishing the season strongly to average 20.2 disposals and five tackles.

>> Get to know

Mani Liddy
Sturt/South Australia
181cm/79kg

One of the more versatile inside midfielders to hit this list is Liddy, who has previously been forced out to the flanks at representative level, but thrived with his ground level presence and ability to get to contests nonetheless. Employed in his more comfortable midfield role at SANFL Under 18 level with Sturt, Liddy averaged just over 25 disposals, 4.2 marks, and 5.5 clearances, but surprisingly went at a higher rate of uncontested possessions. Still, the 181cm prospect is hard at the contest and seldom shies away from it, making him a good option for his state come the national carnival.

Zavier Maher
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

184cm/82kg

Maher is a rare inside type who also possesses terrific athleticism, seeing him feature a touch higher up draft boards when compared to others of a similar build. He is solid at 82kg and has the typical power you come to expect of an inside type, but what sets Maher apart is his combination explosive speed and agility at the stoppages. A true metres-gained kind of midfielder, Maher averaged around three inside 50s and clearances in his six NAB League appearances for Murray in 2019, while also representing Vic Country at Under 17 level. Expect him to break into the heart of this year’s Under 18 side.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
192cm/84kg

McInnes is another whose name will already be well known to keep draft watchers, as the next in line among a talented group of Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was pushed forward in 2019 due to the Chargers’ incredible depth through the engine room, but he still managed to have an impact across 12 games en route to becoming a NAB League premiership player. At 192cm, he has the size to transition seamlessly into the elite level, and possesses surprisingly good athleticism in congestion to keep him out of trouble. When utilised as a midfielder for Vic Metro’s Under 17s, McInnes truly showed his worth with a great first half display, but can work on staying in the game more consistently.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Jamison Murphy
North Adelaide/South Australia
180cm/85kg

Murphy’s story is one of the more interesting ones across the entire 2020 cohort, as he turned down a promising cricketing career which had already seen him captain Australia as a junior to pursue Australian rules football. He is undoubtedly one of the most solidly built smaller types in this lot, weighing in at 85kg to ensure he can endure the rigours of playing such a position, and enforce his way into the contest. The 180cm North Adelaide product played nine SANFL Under 18 games in 2019, averaging 23.6 disposals and 5.2 tackles, putting in the hard yards as per usual.

>> Get to know

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia
186cm/78kg

An outstanding inside midfielder for 2020 is Trew, potentially the best user of the ball both by hand and foot of this entire group. He comes in at a decent height (186cm) but is not at all bogged down, able to weave through traffic with class and deliver the ball expertly with terrific vision and poise. Trew was a standout for the Black Ducks at Under 16 level, earning All Australian honours, and looks set for a similar projection in this year’s Under 18 crop as one of his state’s prime midfield movers.

>> Draft Diary

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of prospects who you may be itching to point out as deserving for this list, but we think we have them all covered both above and below. Among the most outstanding overall midfield candidates this year are Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Finlay Macrae, all of whom we categorise as balanced midfielders, rather than pure inside types.

Among those who may transition to inside roles but currently thrive elsewhere are Nathan O’Driscoll (wing/half-back), Connor Downie (wing/utility), Archie Perkins (half-forward), Jackson Cardillo (balanced midfielder/forward), Eddie Ford (general forward), Corey Durdin (small forward), and Braeden Campbell (outside midfielder/forward). Elijah Hollands could also be considered, but is again, more of a forward, while the likes of Will Bravo and Charlie Lazzaro may continue outside of the midfield realm in future.

Outside of the AFL Academy intake are Bayleigh Welsh and Darby Hipwell, both very viable options, while 19-year-old candidates include Jared Dakin, Darcy Chirgwin, and Jai Newcombe.

Positional Analysis: Key Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

Q&A: Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

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

The 181cm prospect was lauded for his leadership and form during preseason despite a knee niggle late in the piece, and will be looking to back up his solid bottom-age season as one of two Vic Country Academy hub members from the Dandenong program.

Bravo was expected to start the NAB League season through midfield, but has shown his ability to have an impact off flanks at either end of the ground. The speedy customer averaged 10.9 disposals and a goal every other game across his 14 outings for the Stingrays in 2019, enough to earn him a spot in the Vic Country Under 17s side. Should a carnival go ahead, he is poised to feature in the Under 18 setup for 2020 as well.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

 

MA: Will, how’s the day been so far?

WB: “It’s been pretty good. “I haven’t actually been testing due to an injury in my knee but it’s been a good day to get around the boys, push them on and watch them get some good scores.”

 

Have there been some decent results?

“Yes, we’ve got a pretty quick group. “I think we had about three boys who got sub-three seconds (20m sprint) so that’s pretty good.”

 

Coming off a solid 2019, how’d you rate your bottom-age year?

“It was a pretty good year. “I sort of came on a bit better at the end of the year, at the start of the year I was a bit nervous.

“But I just built into it and all the boys get around you and once you get involved, your confidence levels obviously rise and you start to play your game, do your thing. “It was a really good year with the boys and definitely a good experience.”

 

You showed good speed and a killer instinct as a mid-forward last season, are you hoping to continue in a similar role?

“I actually hadn’t played too much forward until last year and I think towards the end of the year I did play a bit in the midfield.

“This year we’ve been talking about with my pace, being able to run off half-back and to have a bit of a run through the midfield. “But whenever they need me obviously I can go down forward as well so I think it’ll be good for me to play in all different positions.”

 

What are some of the things you’re looking to develop to fit into those roles comfortably?

“Just understanding the (defensive) structure, how they like to move the ball and their defence. “Obviously a big motto we have is always defence first so I think just working with them and understanding everything they like to do would be good to have a big year.”

 

You’ve got a decent bottom-age crop and top-agers like yourself and Clayton Gay in the Academy, how do you think the Dandenong squad stacks up?

“I think this year already we’ve been doing pretty well. Considering we’ve all got a pretty good bond, I think that really helps. “Everyone always gets around each other, obviously the boys are pretty skilful and we’re pretty versatile with our skills around all three (thirds) of the field. “Our forwards, mids, and backs, we’ve got some strong players throughout them.”

 

Who are some of those boys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“Definitely Clayton Gay, obviously us two have been going through Vic Country together which is pretty cool. Bayleigh Welsh through the midfield and James Thomas off the backline.

“We’ve got a new player who has never played at this level, Declan Cole. “He’ll probably play a bit through the midfield so that’s pretty exciting. “We’ve obviously got a lot of boys who haven’t played in this kind of environment before but I think they’ve all bonded to it really well and it’s going to be an exciting year.”

 

How was the step-up being around the Vic Country hub?

“It’s been really good. “Obviously to be able to go to that next level and see what it’s all about, how quick it is.

“You make a lot of mates out of it, all the boys out of Vic Country are really good blokes, they’re all really warm and inviting so I think that’s really good. “Going into NAB League as well from Vic Country I think it’ll help a lot.”

 

What are some of the goals you’re looking to tick off in 2020?

“Just to be the best player and person I can be, to help everyone in my team that needs help and in Vic Country as well, just to always be there.

“To bring some bottom-agers under my wing and help them out when they’re finding it hard, just like how last year I was pretty nervous and wasn’t playing my game so I know a few of the boys this year might be the same.”

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 10 – Stingrays finally beaten, Ranges go top

ROUND 10 of last year’s NAB League saw Dandenong’s seven-game unbeaten run come to an empathic end, as Eastern produced one of the more remarkable performances of the season to jump into top spot. For the second round running, all bar one of the Victorian Metro sides secured wins while Murray was the lone Country side to do so, and Bendigo enjoyed a bye.

Northern’s 11-goal thumping of reigning premier, Dandenong opened the weekend at Shepley Oval, with the Stingrays managing just one goal after half time in front of a home crowd. Meanwhile, the Knights would excel, booting 10 majors over the same period in a ruthless display forward of centre to run home 67-point winners.

Ben Major (three goals), Josh D’Intinosante, and Carlton draftee Sam Philp (both two) found the big sticks more than once among Northern’s 12 individual goalkickers, with Philp’s 19 disposals also among his side’s best. Ashton Williamson booted multiples for the Stingrays, while Adam Carafa (24 disposals) led 2020 co-captain Ewan Macpherson (21) as the leading ball winner. Academy member Will Bravo also impressed with 16 for Dandenong.

The round’s next fixture proved to be a far more tense one as Sandringham and Geelong opened a Mars Stadium double-header. The Falcons looked to be coasting to victory in a low-scorer having kept Sandringham to 1.7 in the first half and extended the lead to 30 points in the third term. But as was the case for much of 2019, Geelong faded late with two of Sandringham’s 18 behinds crawling the Dragons over the line.

The one-two combination of Charlie Sprague and Ollie Henry produced five of Geelong’s eight goals, with no Sandringham player breaking through for multiples. That could well have been different had Archie Perkins and Jake Bowey put one of their combined eight behinds on target. Angus Hanrahan led the winners’ disposal count with 26, while Charlie Harris (27) and Cam Fleeton (24) were Geelong’s best in that department.

Skipping out to Morwell, and Western stamped its finals claim with an upset 18-point win over top-three fancy, Gippsland on the road. The Jets led all day and put eight more scoring shots on the board in their big win, restricting the Power to just one goal at one end of the ground.

Harvey Neocleous popped up to boot four of Gippsland’s seven goals from his 20 disposals, with Western’s Emerson Jeka the only other to bag multiple goals (two). St Kilda draftee Leo Connolly led all comers with 28 disposals, while Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (25) did the same for the winners with bottom-age Academy gun Eddie Ford (17 disposals, one goal) also lively.

Back in Ballarat in the second of two games, home side Greater Western Victoria (GWV) was absolutely dismantled by the rampaging Eastern Ranges. The Rebels were kept goalless across the match and scoreless for half of it in the 111-point thumping as Eastern had their way en-route to an 18.8 effort in tricky conditions.

One of the more incredible efforts for the weekend was Jordan Jaworski‘s seven-goal haul, backed by three each from Connor Downie and Jamieson Rossiter. Zak Pretty had a game-high 35 disposals, while Tyler Edwards saw it 31 times – equal to GWV’s best in that department, Jack Tillig. Cricketing convert Wil Parker was the other player to notch 30 disposals, with the Ranges’ defence solid as ever.

Oakleigh’s win over Calder was the only other Saturday result, as the away side stormed home to notched a big victory. The game opened up after a close first term, with Oakleigh’s nine-goal to two second half consolidating the win to the tune of 69 points.

The Chargers’ high-end bottom-agers went to work, with potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booting five goals, while Will Phillips (33 disposals), Fraser Elliot (32), and Lochlan Jenkins (27) were menacing from midfield. Incredibly, four Chargers booted two goals, with Jeremy O’Sullivan the only Cannon to do so. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay was among his side’s leading ball winners, trailing only Ned Gentile with 24 touches.

Sunday’s sole fixture saw the competition again head down to Tasmania, as Murray crossed Bass Strait to take on the Devils in Launceston. The action was relatively straightforward for the visitors as they broke out to an early lead and never looked back, resisting Tasmania’s 2.7 final term to coast home 38-point victors.

Over-ager Zane Barzen was one of just two Bushrangers to boot multiple goals, while Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals), Dylan Clarke (25), and Charlie Byrne (22) went to work with ball in hand. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness fared best for Tasmania with 21 touches, while Murray bottom-ager Dominic Bedendo impressed on the back of 1.2 from his 18 disposals.

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Country Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro squad predictions and today we take a look at Vic Country’s potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

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

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

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

DEFENCE

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

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

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

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

MIDFIELD

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

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

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

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

FORWARD

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

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

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

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

INTERCHANGE

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

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

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

TOP-AGE DEPTH

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

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

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

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

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

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

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

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

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

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

19-YEAR-OLDS

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

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

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

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

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 5 – Dragons, Ranges humble Academies to go top

ROUND 5 of the 2019 NAB League season saw the Victorian mainstays peg back their Northern visitors in an action packed nine-game weekend. Sandringham and Eastern delivered big wins over the two Queensland academies at Trevor Barker Oval, while the Sydney Academy won strongly to remain undefeated alongside Dandenong (3-0-1).

But first to take the field were the Bendigo Pioneers and Northern Knights at Queen Elizabeth Oval, with the visitors taking four points back to Preston after trailing at every other break. After streaming ahead by 17 points at half-time with double the goal tally, the Pioneers ran out of legs to be held to just one major in the second half as the Knights snuck ahead to come away five-point victors.

As was a theme in Round 5, both sides were weakened but had some solid talent running around from each age bracket. Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier had plenty of the ball while also hitting the scoreboard, while Lachlan Potter created some zip on the outside. Top-age Pioneers James Schischka, Ben Worme, and Logan Fitzgerald all had 25 touches, while bottom-age jet Jack Ginnivan showed promise with 20 and a goal.

Sam Philp was the best ball winner of the 2019 draftees, earning 17 touches for Northern, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles had just 11 as he popped up in spurts. Ryan Sturgess, who almost joined Philp at the Blues as a supplementary top-up, was also impressive with 21 disposals and seven marks.

Saturday’s first game opened a Blacktown double-header as the Swans Academy accounted for Murray in a close encounter to move to equal-first. The Sydneysiders shot out of the blocks with five goals to nil to open the match, adding another four in the second term to lead by six goals at half time. Although they fared much better in the second half, the Bushrangers could not fully recover the deficit and went down by 24 points.

Sydney over-ager Kyle Martin led all comers with 29 disposals, just one touch ahead of Bushrangers runner Cam Wild (28, one goal). Dylan Clarke also led the way for Murray with 23 disposals, with Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Sam Durham all also ticking over the 20-mark. Max Geddes (23 disposals) was also influential for the Swans, but it was big man Hamish Ellem who stole the show with 22 disposals, nine marks, and 3.3 in a performance which went a long way to securing him an Allies berth.

The GWS Academy was next up on its home turf against another Victorian country side in Gippsland, only it could not repeat the feats of its New South Wales rival. The GIANTS trailed at every break but brought the contest to the highly-fancied Power, getting within a single point at three-quarter time before falling by nine points.

Harry Grant had an outstanding game for GWS, booting two goals from his game-high 31 disposals, while Oakleigh squad member Jeromy Lucas had 24 touches and newly-transferred Northern Knight Liam Delahunty booted two goals. But a talent rich Gippsland unit was led well by Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Hawthorn rookie Harrison Pepper (26 disposals, one goal), with Riley Baldi also stepping up through midfield. Draftees Kyle Dunkley, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben were also in action for the Power.

Skipping back, and Dandenong extended its unbeaten start to the season with a huge win over Oakleigh on home turf. After a tight opener, the Stingrays played the conditions perfectly to pile on eight goals in the second term, and seven in the last to storm away 70-point victors with 11 individual goalkickers.

Lachlan Williams and Ned Cahill slotted three majors each for the winners, while bottom-ager Will Bravo slotted two and Richmond recruit Bigoa Nyuon managed one from 17 touches. Cahill was the leading disposal getter with 29, while Joe Ayton-Delaney, Lochlan Jenkins, and Trent Bianco all managed 24 for the Chargers. Port draftee Dylan Williams went goalless in a different role, while Gold Coast mid-season recruit Mitch Riordan had 15 touches and Melbourne rookie Austin Bradtke had just eight disposals and a goal.

Saturday’s other double-header began with Sandringham thumping the Brisbane Lions Academy by 97 points on home turf. The Lions had won just one game to that point, and were in for more immediate pain as the Dragons helped themselves to 13 first half goals while holding the visitors to one. There was no way back from there, with Sandringham coasting to victory.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn was one of the sole Lions to stand up all day, collecting a game-high 31 touches while fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland was kept to just nine. Louis Butler and Ryan Byrnes strutted their stuff for the Dragons to win plenty of the ball, while Miles Bergman started to get into his stride with 17 touches, Jack Bell impressed with two goals from the same disposal haul, and Blake O’Leary finished with a game-high three goals.

Eastern completed the academy rout with a defensively sound 59-point thumping of Gold Coast’s academy, keeping the SUNS to just two goals. After just three goals were scored in the first half, the Ranges clicked into gear to break the game open with seven in the third term and run home comfortable winners.

Zak Pretty had a monster day out with 37 disposals, aided well by Lachlan Stapleton (27) and Mitch Mellis (24), while bottom-age defenders Wil Parker and Josh Clarke also impressed. Bailey White led the goal count with four, while Jamieson Rossiter managed three and Cody Hirst played one of his last games before being snapped up by Sydney. Skipper Connor Budarick was the standout for Gold Coast, accumulating 27 touches, with bottom-ager Max Pescud also thereabouts, and fellow SUNS recruits Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh also taking the field.

Saturday’s final fixture saw Calder edge Geelong in a close battle at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with both sides enjoying time in the lead. The Cannons looked the goods after coming out on top in a low-scoring first half, but were pegged back to within a point at the final break. Keeping their heads, the hosts held on to win by seven points.

Sam Ramsay was the sole draftee afield, and he had a decent outing with 27 disposals – behind only Daniel Mott (29) and Brodie Newman (36). Ned Gentile booted three goals from 21 disposals to also be among the best, while skipper Jesse Clark claimed that honour for Geelong. Nineteen-year-old Charlie Sprague was another to impress with two goals from 18 touches, with fellow over-ager Henry Stubbings managing 20.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and Western got the better of Tasmania in their trip to the Apple Isle, trumping the hosts by 47 points to get within touch of the top four. A steady opening half saw Tasmania prove wasteful, booting 1.6 as Western eventually took flight to run home with six goals to two after half-time.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton took full toll with a game-high three majors, supported well by Carlton rookie Josh Honey (two from 25 disposals) and bottom-age jet Eddie Ford (two from 16 disposals). Darcy Cassar racked it up across half back to finish with 31 disposals, while Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon shared that feat for Tasmania (25). Isaac Chugg was also impressive on debut for a Devils side which was missing a lot of its star power.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels took home a huge win in the round’s final match, defeating the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 55 points on neutral territory. The Rebels never looked back after a 10 goals to one opening half at Windy Hill, which proved more than enough for the win despite a more even second half.

Nick Caris led the goal count with four for GWV, while Jay Rantall (27 disposals, two goals), Matty Lloyd (28, two), and Riley Polkinghorne (23, two) all had an impact. There was plenty of class on show for NT despite the loss too, with Beau O’Connell (29 disposals, two goals) having a day out, while Ben Jungfer had it 28 times, Joel Jeffrey had 24 touches and six marks, and new SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr also got on the park.

Improvement and consistency the key for Gay

CLAYTON Gay has played at both ends and showed off his natural footballing ability as a bottom-ager in 2019. Now in his top-age year, the Dandenong Stingrays utility has his sights set on just improving and building consistent form throughout the season. While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has at the very least delayed the start of the season, Gay spoke to Draft Central at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me about his hopes for the season ahead.

“(I) just (want to) keep improving every game and being more consistent,” Gay said. “I had a couple of high games and a few low games (last season). “If I can get that margin close together, that’s my main goal this year. “I just think play consistently, that’s the main one that I’m focusing on at the moment.”

It is said you are your own worst critic, and that was certainly the case with Gay, prior to his yo-yo test at Maribyrnong College, declaring he was disappointed with his results thus far, but conceded that “it happens” and that it was just not his day.

“I haven’t really hit the scores that I wanted to, but that happens sometimes, and it’s just not your day,” Gay said. “The 20m sprint I was hoping to at least improve, which I was a bit far off. “I dunno, it wasn’t really my day. “Then I had two DQs (disqualifications) in the agility which hurt me a little bit. “So I only had one to go off.”

While it might have been below his own self standards, Gay enjoyed his bottom-age year with the Stingrays, and was looking forward to 2020, albeit with more responsibility as one of the older players in the side.

It is stressful a little bit, because you’ve got the younger boys looking up to you,” Gay said. “I’m just keen to get out there, get on the park and hopefully play some good footy again and see how we go.”

Being a member of the AFL National Academy Vic Country hub – along with teammate Will Bravo – Gay said the experience of training with “so much talent” was unbelievable.

Yeah for sure (it was great for development),” he said. “You don’t get that much talent at all (in one place), so having a week or two with them, just learning off the coaches there who have got a lot of knowledge, just getting to know them as well. “Come to these testing days you get to come say hello too.”

Getting to know the Vic Country players better, Gay said he was excited to play alongside a promising key forward at the National Under 18 Championships, and named a teammate he thought will shine in a more preferred position this season.

Looking forward to playing alongside Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan) in Vic Country, I think he’ll have a pretty strong year,” he said. “Then Stingrays, looking forward to seeing Bayleigh Welsh. “I think he played a bit out of position last year and I think he hopefully gets some more mid time this year and hopefully see him develop a lot throughout the year.”

When Draft Central chatted to Dandenong Stingrays Talent Manger Darren Flanigan, he said Gay would likely start behind the ball where he had been very impressive in 2019, though had the capacity to play in other positions as well. For Gay himself, he thought the back 50 was the best spot for him, but he was happy to play anywhere.

It depends,” Gay said. “At the start of preseason, fitness wasn’t that up to scratch, so probably forward. “But now I feel like I’ve improved my running and endurance, hopefully just being able to play on my player and stick with him all line in the backline, so backline I reckon.”

Now it is just a waiting game to see if Gay and the Dandenong Stingrays can indeed get out on the park and begin the 2020 NAB League Boys season.

2020 NAB League Boys team preview: Dandenong Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays are coming off a self-proclaimed “very successful” year, with Talent Manager Darren Flanigan pleased a number of bottom-agers were able to squeeze into the team last year and are more prepared for the year ahead. Flanigan said the measure of success for the club was in terms of development, and thus the Stingrays were thrilled with the result at the drafts.

I think we had with 13 Stingrays players added or upgraded onto AFL lists onto AFL lists,” Flanigan said. “That’s some previous blokes being picked up in the preseason draft, four girls and five boys in the National Draft. “As well as Mitch Riordan in the mid-season draft, so an incredibly successful year as far as draft goes and I think that’s our measure.”

While double-figure players made their way onto senior AFL lists at the drafts, three of those came on night one in the first round, with Hayden Young (Fremantle), Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs) and Sam De Koning (Geelong) earning spots on AFL lists early in the draft.

To have three boys picked up on the first night was a really, really great boom for the club and shows we are doing some things right,” Flanigan said.

De Koning was one of a number of talls who provided plenty of height across the ground for the Stingrays, but this year the team will look different with most of the towering types on the younger end of the scale, and the top-agers predominantly smalls to medium types.

This year we’re a little bit short,” Flanigan said. “Probably our tallest two are Paddy Gerdan the 16-year-old who played some games last year and is now a 17-year-old and we’ve got Walter Delahunty across from the Sandy Dragons who at 199cm are really are our only real genuine talls. Then you’ve got young Hudsyn Hill as a bottom-ager who’s got a lot of development left in him. “So we’re not overly endowed with talls. “Bryce Milford‘s had a pretty good preseason, he’s put on eight kilos and he’s now a pretty good size, so we haven’t got any 200s but we’ve got a few 195s.”

Last year the Stingrays ability to blood so many 17 and 16-year-olds gave them plenty of scope for 2020 and 2021, particularly late in the year agains stronger opposition. Flanigan said that extra experience also saw the players come back bigger and better for this season.

Yeah that’s one of the most impressive things about preseason is Miller Bergman and Connor Macdonald and Paddy Gerdan have all come back in really good nick,” he said. “They’ve actually performed really strong in each of the practice matches so they’ll be in line for selection even as early as Round 1. “Justin Davies has come back in good nick, his hands are super he’s kicking it well. “Lachie Robinson‘s another one who’s tall and skinny. We’ve got half a dozen bottom-agers who will certainly be in the mix for Round 1.”

The Stingrays started the preseason a 60 which meant more focused attention on the bottom half of the list to make it a highly competitive one for spots this year. Flanigan said there were a couple of surprise packets who have shone on the track, including Vic Country hub member, Will Bravo.

His (Bravo’s) form was pretty exposed but him and Bayleigh Welsh have been outstanding as far as they’ve attacked preseason,” he said. “Their testing and the way they’ve led the group. “They’ve been really good and we’ve been really pleased with how they’ve come on. “Of course Will’s already in the Country hub and we’re hopeful that Bailey might get an opportunity after three or four rounds to put his hand up as well. “Those two are probably the two who have been the standouts over preseason.”

Bravo and Clayton Gay are Dandenong’s two Country hub members, and both offer different aspects to the team and were shining as leaders amongst the 2020 playing group.

Clayton’s probably the natural footballer, he’s got really good skills, he understands the game well. Can play back and forward,” Flanigan said. “Will’s a hard worker, he’s a really strong, really quick, plays with high intensity. “We’re really pleased with the way they’ve attacked preseason, constantly improving week in, week out. “Clayton’s leadership’s been really good as well.”

The Stingrays also hold a Melbourne Next Generation Academy (NGA) member in Deakyn Smith who possesses some nice athletic traits and is ironing out other aspects of his game.

Good speed, really good speed,” Flanigan said of Smith. “He’s doing a bit of work with Melbourne and Corey Maynard on just his fundamental skills. “Occasionally in games he collapses in and hunts the footy whereas you’d like him to stay on the outside and use his speed. “(We want to) use his run to his advantage, so we’re sort of educating him on that as well. “Once he gets strong in pre-season, you look at at the way he just ran there, well under three for the 20. “Just good form, good strong body. “He’s got school footy again this year, which is going to be a challenge, balancing that with us and his school commitments, but it will be a big year for Deakyn.”

The trio of Bravo, Gay and Smith will play a multitude of roles to show off their talent, but will begin in their preferred positions at the start of the season.

Will will probably start inside mid, Deakyn will start outside mid and Clayton will probably be behind the footy,” Flanigan said. “But they can all play forward, they can all play inside, outside. “We’re really blessed to have talent that can play multiple positions. “But at this level you like to expose them to multiple positions so the AFL clubs can see them with more than just their A grade.”

Along with a host of bottom-agers, a number of overagers have returned to the club to share their time between the Stingrays and respective Victorian Football League (VFL) clubs.

Blake Kuipers has been approved to come back as a 19-year-old and he’s been doing a lot of preseason down in Frankston which is exposing him to the next level,” Flanigan said. “He’s come back into our group the last couple of weeks. “You’ve got Jarryd Barker and Will Lewis, one’s at Casey and one’s at Northern Blues so they’re all our 19-year-olds.”

“As far as newbies, probably Josiah Kyle is an interesting one. He’s an Indigenous lad from far North Queensland whose been living in the region for a couple of years and he’s shown some signs that he could be a player. Jye Culley has shown a bit as well. “He’s a taller, stronger-bodied bottom-ager middle-ager with a strong left foot. “Probably won’t play Round 1 those two but they’re kids who have just come from outside the system and done well.”

Overall, Flanigan was quite pleased with how preseason had gone to-date and was just excited for the season to start.

It’s a really close group,” he said. “They’ve united really well. “The coaching staff have done a tremendous job preparing them physically and for footy. “The club’s ticking along quite nicely.”

NAB League Boys team review: Dandenong Stingrays

AS the NAB League season finals approach, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title, checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Dandenong Stingrays.

Position: 8th
Wins: 6
Losses: 8
Draws: 1

Points For: 1024 (Ranked #6)
Points Against: 1078 (Ranked eq. #10)
Percentage: 95
Points: 26

Top draft prospects:

Hayden Young

The captain and standout prospect from the Stingrays, one would expect Young is a top 10 lock with a potential top five selection. He is one of, if not the top kick in the draft, with his elite, penetrating left boot able to carry past opposition zones. He is strong overhead, often intercepting forward thrusts at will, and puts in four quarters of effort each and every game. He has also been trialled through the midfield and even up forward with his aerial ability good enough to do so, but his best position is running off that half-back. With great agility and top decision making, Young will hit targets easily down the field, and is a player you can rely on to find a target in difficult circumstances.

Cody Weightman

A player with real upside, Weightman is still quite raw compared to other players in the draft crop and weighing in at just 73kg at the start of the season. He has shown he has some serious power with his burst and can launch goals from outside 50. He just seems to create something out of nothing when he goes near the ball and oozes X-factor in that regard. He still has areas to work on such as his consistency, and continuing to build his midfield game as he is more influential up forward, but he has plenty of tools from which clubs can work with going into the future at the elite level. A potential top 30 pick.

Tom De Koning

The All-Australian key defender is one of those rare players who steps up and performs better, the higher the level. His best games came at the AFL Under-18 Championships, where he was rewarded with a spot in the nation’s top side from the carnival, holding down the fort for Vic Country at full-back. He is not a high possession winner, but he is strong overhead and can play at either end. He seems to be more at home in the back 50, and one would imagine he will go in the first half of the draft, possibly the top 30 for a side keen for a key position defender who can swing forward.

Other in the mix:

Along with the above three, the Stingrays had an additional two players receiving National Draft Combine invites, which were small forward Ned Cahill, and versatile flanker, Lachlan Williams. Both tasted Vic Country representation, as did key position defender Blake Kuipers and ruck Bigoa Nyuon who were the other two players to receive State Draft Combine invitations.

BnF chances:

There are a number of possibilities for the Stingrays’ Best and Fairest. While Young will pick up plenty of votes in the games he played, there are also a lot of consistent performers such as Jack Toner, Clayton Gay, Reece Orchard and Luca Goonan who will attract plenty of votes from coaches. Young and Williams are two of the names above who will ones to watch in the count still, however.

2020 Draft Crop:

The Stingrays were predominantly bottom-age this year with plenty of fresh faces in the side and getting great exposure for next season. Gay, Max Gregory and Bayleigh Welsh are among those players to have cemented their spots in the Stingrays’ side this year, as did key position player Henry Berenger. It is hard to look past the lightning pace of Will Bravo who will no doubt catch plenty of eyes next season with his bursts down the field, while Deakyn Smith is one of a number of others to watch for in 2020.

Final word:

The Stingrays made finals which was a tick considering the list overhaul at the end of 2018. They won the flag with a consistent top-age group, so a lot of change was forced into the line-up for 2019. They remarkably fired on all cylinders early in the season racing to seven games unbeaten, but once the AFL Under-18 Championships hit and the Stingrays lost that top-end talent, they slipped to an eight-game losing streak. A win over Murray in Wildcard Round ensured the Stingrays played finals, and they were right in the game against Calder on the weekend before the Cannons flew home in the final term.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 17

THE cream is beginning to rise to the top in the NAB League as we reach the business end of the season. There was a bunch of top-end prospects to stand up in tight games this weekend, with out scouts getting to both the Metro and Country triple-headers. Here are their opinion-based notes on some of the players who received a National, State or Rookie Me Draft Combine invitation, or represented Vic Country and Vic Metro at the Under-16 Championships and Under-17 Futures games.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

The energetic small enjoyed time in the midfield, bringing good attack and speed to the engine room. He started well with an accurate hit-up kick to Archi Manton and excelled with penetrating kicks into the forward 50 off only a few steps. Failli also zipped away from congestion well and was often present at the fall of the ball, where he used his agility and clean hands to stay in possession. Not a massive game, but was busy.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Continued his apprenticeship as a key defender for most of the game, positioning well inside defensive 50 to cut off a few Northern attacks – especially early on. Jeka positioned smartly to intercept in the first term and used his ideal foot skills to find both short options and penetrate long on the rebound. He was swung back to his more familiar forward position in the second half but missed the chance to hit the scoreboard as he missed with a third term set shot. But Jeka would still have an impact in that department despite Western’s low-scoring effort, assisting an Archi Manton goal after finding him by foot inside 50.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Had a slow start to the game but built into it with repeat running and driving bursts along the outside. Positioned on the wing and off half-back, Cassar worked well both ways and tried his best to help Western exit the Knights’ territory after quarter time. His instincts in reading the high balls came into play with a defensive 50 intercept mark over the back in the third term, and Cassar went on to accumulate many of his team-high 22 disposals in a more influential second half.

#24 Josh Honey

Was far and away the Jets’ best player for mine, building in confidence as the game went on and causing headaches with his explosiveness from midfield. Honey’s aggression going both ways went a ways to setting the tone for his side, and his willingness to get on the move at every opportunity was a key part of Western’s promising start. Time and time again, Honey broke away from congestion with pure speed and strength, burning opponents with ease and pumping the ball forward. His aggression translated to a bit of niggle and a particularly strong tackle on Sam Philp in the second term, and Honey had an eye-catching three-bounce run later on. Has some terrific traits, just needs to find consistency and eliminate his down games.

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Is really coming into his own as a more permanent small forward, bouncing back to form with his second four-goal haul for the year. D’Intinosante broke the game open in the second term, booting three goals in quick succession early in the piece to get Northern well on top and build the game-defining margin. His first goal came off the back of some great pressure, snapping up the resultant turnover and slamming the ball home. His second goal came a bit easier as he was found over the back in the goalsquare, but he produced another fine bit of work with his third goal from a shrewd front and centre take off hands. D’Intinosante went on to add his fourth with a nicely hit set shot in the third term, and was dangerous throughout with his work deep in the forward half.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner recovered from a couple of shaky moments early on, winning a good amount of ball on the outer and providing neat use by foot going forward. Rotating between the wing and half forward, Gardner was terrific in the middle period of the game with clearing balls forward and a nice goal assist to Nikolas Cox. He continually got the ball in good areas and booted inside 50, getting involved as the Jets looked to mount a comeback. Finds space well but can also get to work on both sides of the stoppages.

#8 Adam Carafa

It was a pretty typical outing from Carafa, who accumulated his possessions at the coalface and flicked out well to his runners with 17 handballs from 23 disposals. He first caught the eye with a well weighted kick though, finding Josh D’Intinosante through the corridor with little fuss. While he is a touch fumbly in collecting the loose ball on occasion, Carafa proved his poise in possession with a couple of classy one-on-one wins in space and had the presence of mind to step around oncoming opponents. Will enjoy playing mostly through the middle having been used up either end throughout the last two years at representative level.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Was arguably a very, very close second for best afield on the back of some fantastic aerial efforts. Starting the game at centre-half-back, Sturgess was his reliable self as he acted as an outlet and intercepter across defensive 50. His flying speckie from behind in the second term was a sign of things to come as Sturgess continued to fly confidently over opponents after half time. His courage in hitting the ball hard and plowing through anyone in the way was great to see, leading up and crashing the packs. Sturgess’ whopping 13 marks really showcased the best of the National Combine invitee, and he almost finished with another highlight as he narrowly missed a long-range attempt in the fourth quarter.

#14 Josh Watson

Was named best afield for the Knights and rightly so having made an electric start to the game. Watson did some great work up the ground at the stoppages, snapping the ball up cleanly and breaking away with speed and pumping the ball inside 50 on his left side. His use by foot was often a weapon, finding good range and looking for his tall leading targets – even if he could have lowered his eyes on a few occasions. Was a relative unknown coming into just his fifth game, but the bottom ager certainly captured some attention.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Is such an exciting prospect on athleticism and versatility alone, doing some nice work up either end as more of a key position option. Cox’s leap and clean hands on both levels were exceptional, making him a threat no matter what kind of delivery he was given. He hit the scoreboard early on the back of a 50m penalty and would later add a second with an outstanding wheeling goal in the following term from on the arc to show his true capabilities. Cox was thrown down back to finish the game and was good with his positioning, contesting Western’s forward forays and rebounding to good effect.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

Is just a consistent performer in the back half, doing the defensive things well and working hard to become relevant when exiting the arc. Macpherson racked up a fair chunk of the ball in the first term as Northern played a more high-possession and slow defensive game, but had more important touches later on under heat. Is usually a sound short kick and has good awareness in knowing when to release, while also proving solid in mopping up one-on-one ground balls.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Was one who really lifted when the game was on the line, often found at the bottom of packs and extracting from the stoppages as he has done more often since the national carnival. Mott just always found a way to will the ball forward, getting out the back of a few stoppages and booting long while wheeling away from the traffic. He made a more typical play in the third term with a neat goal assist kick to Jake Sutton, but was sometimes a touch more rushed in possession. Will thrive off receiving more ball on the outside at the next level when not acting as the number one ball winner.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Started brightly with a goal in the first term and found a lot of his possessions going forward, proving dangerous when in full flight. While he can sure up his short-range kicking at times, Cardillo made a couple of neat plays in-tight when keeping his hands free and shifting to release around opponents, while also getting good penetration with longer kicks going inside 50. Clunked a really strong mark from behind in the third term and came off worse for wear, but that kind of attack is just part of his game.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Again proved industrious going both ways in midfield, wheeling away to boot forward clearing kicks and tackling hard when not in possession. His chase to catch an opponent hold the ball in the second term was exceptional and he went on to lay a few more hard tackles at stoppages. Ramsay had a long range snap touched on the line in the final term which could have been a deciding factor, but otherwise made his impact around the ball.

#21 Harrison Jones

Moves so well for his size and was prominent in the air in patches, showing good courage going back and hitting up strongly on the lead at full stretch. Jones found the goals early with a set shot conversion, while assisting for Jake Sutton in the second term and later missing a chance for his second major after marking well one-on-one. Has great potential and favourable traits, but is yet to truly rip a game apart.

#38 Brodie Newman

Had a couple of tricky matchups down back, being held accountable by Eastern’s dangerous talls while still trying to get some rebounding drive going. Newman was caught out a couple of times biting off too much in possession, but looked more assured as the game went on with quicker disposals and some smart decisions. He took a strong pack mark in the second term and looked safe on the last line as the game heated up. A solid game without being exceptional.

Eastern:

#7 Lachie Stapleton

Was his usual productive self through midfield, repeatedly getting to the drop of the ball and sweeping up the loose ball. Stapleton’s short game was neat and he often used it after breaking well from congestion where he read the taps from both rucks. He moved forward to good effect, intercepting inside 50 in the second term and putting through the set shot, and later capping his game with a beautiful finish on the run to level the scores in the final term. Stapleton also got stuck in with his tackles, laying a couple on the end of persistent chases early on and rising to the occasion as the game tightened up.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Another of Eastern’s diminutive midfielders who just always puts in the work and sets the tone for his side. Mellis constantly looked to get on the move in possession, using his speed and agility to break free. His repeat running was a feature, dishing the ball out to runners and going on to get it back up the field to continue the Ranges’ forward forays. He contributed a handy goal assist to Ben Hickleton in the final term when the pressure was on, adding to his ball winning feats.

#18 Billy McCormack

The Eastern big man was used in a different role this time around, tried up the other end as a key defender. His positioning was sound, often getting to long balls into defensive 50 and plucking the ball with ease. He made some good reads out the back when others were sucked into the ball and also affected some long rebounding kicks. McCormack finished the game up forward where he had less of an impact, but was still solid.

#20 Connor Downie

The hero of the day, Downie had a slightly more patchy game in the build up to his match winning goal. He started with some dangerous accumulation around half-forward, missing a quickfire long-range shot on goal in the first term and having another go out on the full. He sharpened up after the main break, becoming the chain on the outside we have come to expect while still going forward well. His moment in the sun came on the back of staying with the play and laying a strong tackle to force the spillage and deciding free kick, converting cooly after the siren.

#23 Zak Pretty

Compliments his midfield partners so well and while he is slightly less heralded, Pretty is clever in congestion and does things you have to look closely to see. He kicked off his game with the very first clearance and a few hacked kicks forward, but looked a lot better when propping in possession and releasing drawing handballs out with good vision and execution. Pretty’s ability to hand out to a voice was also noticeable and was more than handy as the game became more contested.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old is really coming on quickly and racked up 17 disposals in this game, spending time up forward and through the midfield. He was a good link going forward and penetrated both arcs, having his most important one in the final term and Eastern broke inside 50 for the game winning play. He missed a couple of tough chances on goal but is usually pretty clinical around the big sticks. Has plenty of potential, and could be a wildcard for the Ranges heading into finals a-la Jaidyn Stephenson a few years ago.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

What a handy addition to the Sandringham side Chirgwin has been after a long injury layoff, putting in the hard yards through midfield and providing a great point of difference. A lot of his work was done on the inside in a more unheralded role, digging in at the stoppages going both ways to prize a team-high 30 disposals and lay seven tackles. His handballs from in-close under tackling pressure worked well, and his cleanliness by hand translated to overhead marking as he pulled down a couple of important ones in the thick of the action. Lifted when the game was on the line and he will be important in the crunch finals moments.

#4 Finn Maginness

Arguably the Dragons player who stood up most in the final term and tried to will his side over the line, making an impact through the midfield and booting three clutch goals – including two at the start of the fourth quarter. His first goal came all the way back in the first term with a straightforward conversion from close range, and while he was a touch quiet after that, Maginness popped up with a couple of strong marks and bustling bursts through the corridor. His second goal came from a lovely snap and wheeling finish, with his third another set shot inside 50. Still has some improvement left in him, which makes him all the more valuable as a prospect.

#6 Miles Bergman

A player who does not have many touches but has truly important ones, which was the case again in this game. His overhead marking was again strong, starting with one in the first term while also mopping up below his knees around the ground well. Kicking remains an areas of improvement for Bergman despite all of his eye-catching traits, turning the ball over going inside 50 on two occasions going inside 50 and rushing a touch when throwing it on his boot. Is still very promising and found the goals as he usually does with a free kick in the second term.

#13 Louis Butler

Was his usual self in the back half, getting to an absolute raft of contests across the defensive arc and providing his trademark rebound. He was another who was sometimes rushed on the ball when going long or clearing his lines, but worked into that area as he accumulated across the day. He took an important overhead mark in the corridor with pressure on in the final term and intercepted inside defensive 50 in the same term to show the kind of impact he can have.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Again won a heap of ball on the outside and worked so well between the arcs, linking the play and providing an outlet from tight spaces. The over-ager’s short kicking and work along the line was sound, and he began to have more of an impact on the game with his drifting runs forward. Both of his goals came in the second half; the first was a classy snap as the ball dropped inside 50, and the second came after again finding space inside 50 to mark and boot home the set shot.

#45 Archie Perkins

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going. Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals. His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

It was a real captain’s effort from Bianco, who was influential in the closing stages to cap off a solid outing. Assuming his familiar role off half-back, Bianco started with a few receives on the back and outside of the centre bounces, using his trademark pace to accelerate away from congestion and get the Chargers going forward. The look of his weaving runs along the outer are pretty unique to Bianco, always looking for holes to run into and the best options up the ground. He put in an important touch up on the wing to spark the chain for one of Noah Anderson’s fourth quarter goals, and just has so much class.

#8 Noah Anderson

Was an out and out match winner for Oakleigh, lifting for a mammoth final quarter effort where he booted two of the final three goals – including the one to put his side in front. Earlier, Anderson began up forward and worked up the ground well, proving impossible to tackle when on the move forward and having a couple of tight shies on goal. Anderson’s combination of bursts and baulks was outstanding, allowing him to find the space to deliver effectively by foot. His final quarter consisted of a goal assist to Fraser Elliot, an intercept mark and goal from the shot, and his third goal shortly after from a strong bit of play as he snapped the ball home. He is just such an impact player, able to tear the game to shreds either up forward or through midfield.

#11 Matt Rowell

What more is there to say about Rowell; he is just so consistent and seldom puts a foot wrong, while also displaying just about every desirable trait in a midfield prospect. His wheeling runs and arching back saw the commentary team reach full voice, extracting a game-high 34 disposals in a permanent midfield game and using the ball brilliantly going forward. Rowell looked on early as he hit up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for Oakleigh’s first goal, later providing another for Finlay Macrae on the back of a centre bounce clearance. He seemed tireless when working through midfield, willing himself to the ball at stoppages and showing good vision with his handballs out. Rowell’s overhead marking was also prominent, backing back with courage and proving safe with his hands. Just as much of a game winner as his highly credentialed mate, Noah Anderson, and has an influence throughout each game.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

It was another eye-catching display from the highlight reel forward, making the most of his few possessions to prove a menace up forward with four high quality goals. His hands overhead are so strong, helping him to hold onto a mark for his first goal in the square and another in the opening term. His highlight for the game came in the following quarter as the ball sat up perfectly for him to rise above two opponents and clunk a sensational mark inside 50, which led to a third goal. The Bulldogs NGA member has rare athleticism for a tall, making him such a difficult match up as he covers the ground well but also towers above defenders with his leap. His fourth goal was another beauty, stealing the ball inside 50 and propping before deciding to go for goal himself and slamming the ball home. Just does the mercurial every game and hardly misses a chance, unbelievable talent.

#29 Finlay Macrae

Is coming into a nice patch of form, looking comfortable among some of the best top-age ball winners to find plenty of the pill. His class on the ball is obvious, finding it in all areas and using it effectively with polished kicks. He also gets forward well and found the goals again in this game with a nice finish during Oakleigh’s final quarter onslaught. Will be a leading candidate heading into 2020.

#73 Cooper Sharman

It was not Sharman’s biggest game considering the lofty standard he has set thus far in Chargers colours, but he still managed to pitch in with a few exciting touches. He covered the ground well and worked up to half forward to provide an option, while knowing when to stay forward and get onto the long entry. His second term was his most busy, hitting the post from a near impossible soccer attempt and later finding the mark beautifully after taking a grab at full stretch. Added a second goal in the final term, which was the last for the match, to seal the win.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams

#1 Sam Conforti

The powerful small midfielder provided fierce tackling pressure from the first bounce and also had a number of deft touches, kicking inside 50 perfectly to the leading Thomson Dow. He did it again later in the game, hitting up Seamus Mitchell inside 50 and showed strength in contested situations. He intercepted a Brock Smith kick at half-forward at one stage and played on to kick inside 50 but it fell short just bouncing through for a behind.

#4 Thomson Dow

Had a really busy opening term where he put through an early goal after some nice leading inside 50 and his subsequent set shot from 40m out on a 45-degree angle. He showed off his one-touch ability, clean in the conditions and did a nice move under pressure in the second term where he went one way, was corralled so calmly changed directions and hit his target. Dow had a quieter third term before picking up again in the last term at both ends. He took a terrific mark inside 50 but his set shot missed to the right and fell short but it was kept in play for Jack Ginnivan to snap truly. Then he was seen down in defence showing good composure with ball-in-hand under pressure, and took a great contested mark in the forward half.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Gets involved around the ground and does more than just the usual ruck role. He showed good hands at ground level and was not afraid to get down and do the ground work as well as the aerial stuff. He used terrific bodywork inside 50 in the second term for Jack Ginnivan to swoop in and dribble a goal, then took a good contested mark at half-forward and continued to present as an option across the ground.

#19 Ben Worme

Started the game on the right note with great vision and a nice kick to hit-up Jack Ginnivan inside 50. He had a flying shot on goal himself but went to the right, and then went into the middle and continued to look busy. He was really solid across the four quarters with the one question mark coming around the urgency to move the ball as he looked a tad too casual late in the game where he had time to dispose of it but waited and his kick was smothered deep in defence.

#20 James Schischka

Was rock solid in defence, particularly in the first half before being sent forward. He repelled opposition attacks and then when he went forward looked to be an option. He had a shot on goal from the boundary line but shanked it out on the full, then set up a goal to Josh Treacy the next quarter with a low bullet inside 50. Schischka went back into defence late and took a courageous mark in front of Josh Smith floating back into defence and then took an important grab in the back 50 to settle the side down late in the match.

#22 Josh Treacy

The bottom-age key forward showed some good signs from limited opportunities taking a strong one-on-one mark against Tye Hourigan in the third term only to hit the post from the set shot. He converted later in the quarter courtesy of a long-range bomb from 50m and put his side back up by a point nearing the final break. His body work against more experienced defenders was really strong and he almost handed a teammate a goal with a handball in the square after good bodywork but the teammate fumbled and the Power defenders cleared it.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Played a typical small forward’s role, always looking dangerous at ground level and taking his opportunities when presented. He showed quick hands at ground level and pounced on a couple of goals in the game, including a loose ball in the second quarter when he dribbled one home close to goal. He converted his second major in the last term, pouncing on a loose ball after Thomson Dow’s set shot fell short and stayed in, with Ginnivan snapping around his body.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles was one of Bendigo’s best in the win, having a number of crucial rebounds and being a rock in defence when Gippsland was furiously attacking. He continually looked to run and carry down the ground, using the ball well and making good decisions by hand or foot. Not a huge accumulator of the ball, Rowles is noticeable with his ball use because he does not waste a lot of touches and has a high impact per possession.

#51 Seamus Mitchell

The bottom-age talent showed some nice traits inside 50 with smarts and speed providing a good combination and a danger at ground level. He kicked a goal from a down-field free kick in the first term, and then showed off his great burst speed in the final term to create separation going forward and boot a goal on the run with a low kicking action to put the Pioneers 12 points up. He had a chance in the third term for another major but the set shot from 35m out in the pocket held up in the breeze and went to the left.

Gippsland:

#1 Ryan Angwin

The bottom-ager played a really solid game through the midfield roaming up the wings and using neat skills to dispose of the ball. A lightly-framed player, he took a good intercept mark at half-back in the first term, played on to give it to Sam Berry and then received it back on the wing with hard running. Angwin showed classy around the stoppages and did not panic with ball-in-hand.

#4 Sam Flanders

Did not have his best game, but stood up through the middle patches to have some important touches in close. His first quarter saw opponents working him over and causing a reaction which resulted in a couple of free kicks leading to goals – one pushing over an opponent at a stoppage and one down-field – before coming out in the second term to deliver a major of his own early. He showed great courage flying for an intercept mark, not taking it but copping contact. His hands in close were elite and picked the right exit to dispose of the ball cleanly, and showed great bodywork in the third term to bump an opponent off the ball and give it to Josh Smith to kick forward.

#6 Riley Baldi

Best on ground and was the difference between the teams, continuing his good form this season. He converted a couple of goals and was a four quarter performer which was difficult in the conditions. He had the first clearance of the game, and had the ball on a string early, marking from a lead and converted a set shot from 35m out. He kicked his second from 40m out in the second term, also applying good defensive pressure, winning a free kick in the middle for restricting Thomson Dow from finding a way out of the stoppage. He handed a goal off to Fraser Phillips in the third term after poor checking from Pioneers defenders with the natural left footer converting the goal with an easy snap. Baldi had a chance to make it three goals, but his flying shot on goal just bounced the wrong side of the post for one behind.

#7 Sam Berry

The bottom-age midfielder provided a number of highlights in the game, able to gain separation from his opponents in midfield and hit targets forward of centre. He created a goal for Riley Baldi kicking well inside 50, and then showed off his lovely left foot again, playing on to hit-up another target later in the game inside 50. He ran hard throughout and took a courageous mark back with the flight early in the third term.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided some important run and carry for Gippsland throughout the match, and tried to break the lines by running down the middle. He took the game on in the second term with a number of bounces, avoiding opposition players along the way. With time and space Connolly’s disposal was very good, but he did get rushed on a few occasions. He worked hard throughout the game on his way to a really solid contribution.

#17 Charlie Comben

Provided a fierce attack on the ball and whilst the conditions did not suit the taller marking players, still crashed packs and provided the target inside 50. He took a towering mark in the goalsquare in the second term back with the flight and his set shot on an angle went straight through. Unfortunately he missed a couple of chances later in the game, not able to connect cleanly with a dribble attempt in the third term, rolling through for a behind, and then having a mongrel set shot attempt which also went through for a behind. Contributed well throughout with his body work and presence at congested areas.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Started slowly but worked into the game to end up with two goals from five scoring shots as well as finding plenty of the footy roaming up the ground and providing an option. He assisted Ryan Sparkes in getting a goal in the second term with a nice kick inside 50, and managed to snap his first goal thanks to loose checking from the Pioneers defenders later in the third term, receiving the quick handball from Riley Baldi near the boundary and snapping on his left. He kicked his second after the final siren, chewing up the remaining time on the clock to give the Power the win by 10 poitns. He could have finished with a big bag had he converted a few more of his chances, but got amongst it and always looked busy.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

Played through the middle and had a four quarter performance with his ability to create plays up the ground and do the tough work in the middle as well as get free to keep the ball moving in transition. He placed a kick inside 50 to Charlie Sprague early in the game and the created his own chance shortly after, with the ball touched by an opposition before he could mark it, but he showed clean hands to recover, turn around and snap around his body for a goal. His highlight passage of play was a run down the middle of the ground in the third term to set up a goal.

#12 Noah Gribble

Showed composure at both ends, winning the ball in defence then going forward and had a shot on goal late in the first quarter from a stoppage but put it to the left. A second shot shortly after from a set shot also drifted to the left, but did his best work in close. He had clean and quick hands in close, and won his fair share of the football, covering the ground well and providing an option in defence including marking from a kickout.

#15 Tanner Bruhn

Returning from a long-term injury, Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half, booting a couple of goals and could have had another one early in the game with the set shot that swung to the right from 35 metres out. He snapped a goal off a step in the last minute of the opening term, then kicked an unbelievable goal in the third term, taking a step of two and snapping under pressure from 40m out to put it straight through the middle. He had nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.

#32 Noah Gadsby

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and kept presenting along the wing. Gadsby was able to complement the rest of the midfield and had his fair share of the ball at the same time, pushing up and trying to create some run in wet conditions.

#37 Oliver Henry

After spending time in defence in recent weeks, the medium-sized utility was back inside 50 and showed off his talent when it comes to providing a target leading out. He had great hands overhead to continually remained involved in the contest, presenting at marking opportunities. He took an intercept mark early in the match but rushed his kick and it was smothered. Henry lead long up the wing to win a number of touches up the ground, but also crashed a pack in the second term and gave it off quickly to keep it moving. He did err late in the quarter opting for a quick snap rather than giving the hands off to Charlie Sprague who was free nearby. He converted a set shot after being held midway through the third term and did have the two from the game, also setting up Sprague for his fourth after wrestling the ball from two opponents and giving it over to his teammate.

#40 Jesse Clark

Just a rock in defence and had a really influential first term, before not having a great deal of work to do after that. He still remained steadfast across the remaining three quarters, but kept the Falcons moving by taking a number of intercept marks in the back 50, then clearing the danger and getting it to a teammate by switching or hitting up a short target on the wing. Lead the team well and will hope to continue the form next week against a talented Sandringham Dragons’ forward line.

#46 Henry Walsh

Performed well in the ruck against a more mobile ruck in Bigoa Nyoun, but positioned himself impressively at stoppages. Can leap high and took a strong mark in the second term before kicking long down the line. He hit the scoreboard after receiving a free kick and a 50m penalty, lining up from straight in front early in the third term and putting it through the middle. Laid a couple of good tackles defensively to work hard that way as well.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Played a bit of everywhere in the match and could not fault his effort. The potential top five pick was winning touches around the ground early starting on a wing before playing exclusively forward in the second term. He lead out of attack and presented on a number of opportunities but was well worn by opposition defenders. He moved back into defence in the third term to try and stem the flow of goals, creating run and carry off half-back but was caught once and dispossessed. He still remained a calm and composed leader, never giving in despite the mounting opposition scoreline and was able to hit-up a target on the wing with a lovely kick out of defence having to negotiate three opposition players and remaining calm to think his way through the situation.

#11 Ned Cahill

Not his biggest game playing through the midfield, but still had a number of nice moments. He showed off his agility early with Cahill turning on a dime after winning the ball at half-back and sidestepping a couple of opponents to kick long down the wing. He was able to win an important clearance midway through the second term, and used the ball well under pressure to hook a kick and hit-up Bigoa Nyuon inside 50 in the opening quarter.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The athletic ruck showed good positioning in the marking contest and gave Jack Toner an opportunity for a goal in the first quarter but he missed the set shot, but created another opportunity not long after with the smarts to intercept a pass in attacking 50, and start a chain of handballs leading to a Jordan Andrews snap goal. Nyuon also took a strong grab later in the game in defence helping out.

#47 Will Bravo

The bottom-age prospect had some nice plays, showing his quick sidestep to evade a couple of players and snap around his body to Hayden Young’s advantage early in the game. He kicked a vital goal from a set shot midway through the second term, and had a chance for another goal but his quick snap was marked by opposition defenders just out from goal.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Had a quieter first three quarters, though did take a terrific contested mark at half-back and received a 50m penalty for an opponent infringing the mark. Once the fourth term rolled around, Williams lit it up, booting three consecutive goals, albeit at a stage when the game seemed done and dusted, though his set shot routine was consistent. He booted all three to cut the deficit from 50 to 32 points in the space of 15 minutes and show what he is capable of in a quarter of football.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony did not have the biggest game on the stats sheet, but most of his touches were in the forward half with attempts on goal. Unfortunately the wet weather wrecked havoc for his goalkicking as the talented mid/forward booted three behinds, two of which came from flying shots on goal in the first and third terms, and a third miss from a set shot. Continued to present inside 50 and was really good defensively, locking the ball up in terrible conditions and keeping the ball in the Rebels’ forward half.

#6 Jack Tillig

Had the ball on a string early in the game running off half-back and through the middle, winning an impressive one-on-one against the much taller Will Christie, and remained busy when linking up in transition. Later in the game Tillig drifted back to take a strong intercept mark in the defensive 50 hole. An impressive game from the bottom-ager.

#7 Mitch Martin

Played nearly exclusively forward and managed to capitalise with three majors in a day that was difficult to kick them with the wet ball. He started with a behind from a tight angle in the opening term, and a second snap shortly after went out of bounds. He kicked with first goal late in the second term with time ticking down, and almost had a second when he got taken high close to the boundary 35m out on a set shot but it fell just short in the square. He was the beneficiary of a free kick 30m out straight in front for the density ruling late in the quarter as the siren sounded to kick his second. Late in the final term he kicked his third from a great snap and then shortly after fended off an opponent and kept the ball moving with quick hands to Jack Tillig. Finished the game with three goals from six shots so could have had a massive day in the wet.

#13 Jay Rantall

Had a really quiet first term notching up just one touch and had six by half-time before getting into his usual groove and just outrunning everyone. He had a couple of nice clearances and won a free kick early in the fourth term, delivered to a teammate then ran hard to receive a handball from the receiver of his kick and go forward. Finished with a solid 20-odd touches to restore the status quo, but his defensive work was what stood out with numerous tackles time and time again and leading the way in that department with his attitude and attack on the ball and ball carrier.

#43 Charlie Molan

The Vic Country Under 16s representative stepped up from his debut last week to have a real impact in the conditions. He played along a wing and also went in and won his own ball to be one of the more prominent four quarter performers for the winners. He pushed hard and kept it moving in transition and got back in defence to help out and clear the danger.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Did not have as many touches as some others, but the Under 16s midfielder was noticeable every time he went near it. Apart from the colourful boots, Hobbs showed clean hands in the wet and continually picked the right option when handballing to a teammate on the outside to set up scoring opportunities. Took a good intercept mark at half-forward early, and then read the ruck stoppage perfectly in the second term to win the ball on the outside and bend it around his body for a goal midway through the second term. He had another flying shot at goal in the third term but it went out on the full, then set up Matty Lloyd with a lovely lace-out pass inside 50. Had a quieter second half but remained involved with moments like that.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Did not have a huge game but kick-started the Rebels with the opening goal of the game with a strong one-on-one mark deep in attack off the first clearance and inside 50. Rentsch converted the set shot to ensure he got on the goalkickers list and while he did not add to the total, still provided a target inside 50. He showed clean hands in the forward 50 and intercepted a ball in that first term and delivered to Mitch Martin deep in the pocket.

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Spent most of his time in the forward half to show off the running defender’s versatility. He had a quiet first term with just the two touches and having to push up the ground, but soon showed his composure and leadership in the wet. He stood up and got his hands away in a tackle early, then intercepted a Matty Lloyd rebound with a good mark at half-forward before moving to the goalsquare where he rotated with Jimmy Boyer between there and the midfield. Ash almost kicked a goal from 60m with the wind carrying it past the pack of players in that second term, but the ball bounced through for a behind. He also had a great kick under pressure to hit-up a target at half-forward, always vocal and leading his side throughout the four quarters.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Enjoyed the conditions and was one of Murray’s best again in the middle, shovelling the ball out and getting his hands dirty – both figuratively and literally. He read the ruck taps well and kicked inside 50 and keep the pressure on teh opposition defenders and tried to run and carry as best he could on the slippery ground surface. He won a free kick 40m out for a tackle on an opposition player forcing him to throw it out, but Chalcraft’s set shot was touched on the line and went into the post. He put in one of his better four quarter performances to have another 20-plus disposals, working hard across the ground and taking a mark from a kickout in defence such was his ground coverage.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Set the tone defensively with a magnificent front-on tackle on Toby Mahony to bring him to ground early in the game and rotated between midfield and forward. He got involved more as the game went on and was able to pump the ball inside 50 a few times, but his defensive work was the highlight, laying tackle after tackle which was crucial in Murray staying in the contest. He kicked a late consolation goal on the run thanks to his hard running with less than five minutes to go in the game.

#25 Liam Fiore

Had a really big first term driving the ball out of the back 50 and still did some nice things after that. He takes the game on and is willing to risk it by running down the middle and breaking the lines. He used the ball well and always looked for switching play to find the open player on the outside. Played deeper in defence as the game went on but did well one-on-one.

#26 Sam Durham

Found the ball in all thirds of the ground, firing out handballs from in close, sliding in for a great mark at half-back and pumping a long kick inside 50 as part of a big first term. He continued to win the ball and get it moving forward in transition by picking up touches on the wing or at stoppages and getting it to the danger zone inside forward 50. Durham also provided some good defensive pressure with a number of tackles.

#31 Josh Rachele

The Under 16s forward was not to be outdone by his Vic Country teammates on the Rebels’ side, pushing up the ground to win the ball when required, and being an option inside 50 at times as well. He played to the conditions, often bombing it long to try and gain distance, showing off a quick release by hand in the fourth term to give a running teammate a shot on goal.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

The bottom-age forward showed a number of impressive traits playing exclusively inside 50, having Murray’s first set shot from 50m out on a slight angle but it just fell short and was rushed through. It happened again late in the game with the ball punched through for a rushed behind up the other end, while his goal came from general play in the second term, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping around his body to put Murray in front. He tried to be too inventive at one stage, kicking the ball off the ground but it went out on the full. Got talent to work with, it will just be a case of building on the consistency and lowering the eyes at times.

NAB League Boys Round 13 wash-up: Cannons and Chargers go big

A TRULY mixed bag of results in Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition saw a couple of close contests and a couple of blowouts, with returning representative stars once again stamping their mark. While ladder-leaders Eastern still sit pretty at the top, Western put a dent in Sandringham’s top four hopes with an upset win – seeing the two trade places. Arguably the biggest surprise win belonged to Northern though, going clear in eighth with a win over second places Gippsland. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

 

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

Returning stars and a final term flurry were not enough to see Sandringham over the line as the Western Jets held on to win by nine points and send the Dragons out of the top four. Before the visitors roared home, a stalemate ensued in the first term as either side mustered 3.2 apiece, with Sandringham going on to break the cycle and skip out to an eight-point half time lead. The Dragons’ purple patch did not last for long though, as the Jets flew out of the blocks after the main break to pile on a whopping eight goals as the wind picked up. Undeterred, Sandringham hit back in the last but to no avail – relinquishing their top four position to the Jets but maintaining a formidable percentage. The Dragons’ representative guns stood up despite the loss, with Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, five tackles, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, eight, one), and Louis Butler (23, five rebound 50s) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. The firepower of Charlie Dean, Hugo Ralphsmith and Blake O’Leary (all two goals) was not quite enough to outgun the eight goals between Western’s Aaron Clarke, Archi Manton, and bottom-ager Lucas Failli, as the Jets benefitted from some added efficiency in front of goal. Bailey Ryan (19 disposals, seven tackles) and Josh Honey (18, five marks) were the key ball-winners for Western, with ruckman Will Kennedy claiming best-afield honours against his former side for his 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hit-outs and one goal. Flying high, the Jets will get to enjoy a two-week break with back-to-back byes, while Sandringham will look to hit back against Dandenong in Round 14.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 7.2 | 8.6 | 8.8 (56)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.4 | 7.4 | 11.6 | 15.9 (99)

GOALS:

Gippsland: T. Fitzpatrick 2, J. van der Pligt 2, Z. Skinner, T. Baldi, M. McGarrity, J. Hume.
Northern: J. D’Intinosante 4, S. Brazier 3, R. Sturgess 3, L. Potter, B. Nikolovski, N. Long, A. Carafa, S. Philp.

BEST:

Gippsland: T. Hourigan, S. Berry, M. Hawkins, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, T. Rees
Northern: J. Davies, A. Carafa, L. Potter, R. Sturgess, J. D’Intinosante, C. Simonsen

The upset of the round came as Northern trumped the Gippsland Power by 43 points in enemy territory to go a game clear in eighth place. The Knights’ strength and flexibility across the ground proved the difference, with the likes of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess (three) and Sunny Brazier (three) all able to impact the game forward of centre with only around a dozen disposals each. After a very even first half that saw Northern lead by two points at the first two breaks, the Knights tightened the screws in defence to only concede the one goal after half time, while booting eight of their own to seal a big win. Adam Carafa and Sam Philp resumed their strong partnership in midfield to have 52 disposals between them, while Lachie Potter (23 disposals, one goal) was great on the outside and skipper Jackson Davies (23 disposals, eight rebounds) a rock down back. For Gippsland, Sam Berry continues to rack up possessions with another 21, followed closely by Tye Hourigan‘s 20. Jake van der Plight was also impactful with 19 disposals and two goals, with Tom Fitzpatrick Gippsland’s only other multiple goal kicker. Despite the loss, Gippsland remains second and will look to rebound against Tasmania on neutral territory next round. Meanwhile, the Knights will look to halt Murray’s top eight aspirations when they meet next time out.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.0 | 5.3 | 9.6 | 11.9 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 5.5 | 9.7 | 11.7 | 12.7 (79)

GOALS:

Murray: H. Kaak 3, J. Boyer 3, K. Chalcraft, E. Baxter, M. Holt, Z. Maher, W. Chandler.
Eastern: B. Hickleton 4, M. Mellis 2, C. Downie, H. Keeling, T. Edwards, C. Black, T. Hardstaff, M. Zalac.

BEST:

Murray: W. Christie, J. Chalcraft, Z. Barzen, S. Durham, Z. Maher, K. Chalcraft
Eastern: J. Nathan, B. Hickleton, B. McCormack, M. Mellis, C. Black, T. Garner

The Murray Bushrangers fell four points short of a remarkable second half comeback, going down to the ladder-leading Eastern Ranges in a tightly contested game. It was beginning to look elementary for Eastern early on as the Ranges put on 17 scoring shots to Murray’s eight to break to a 27-point half-time buffer. But the third term proved a breakthrough one for the Bushrangers, booting four goals to Eastern’s two to close within striking distance at just 13 points adrift. Another two goals to one was not enough to snatch the win though, with Eastern holding on for its ninth win from eleven games. While Joel Nathan was named best for the winners, Ben Hickleton (eight disposals, four goals) was efficient up the other end alongside Mitch Mellis (22 disposals, seven inside 50s, two goals) to make a profound impact. Zak Pretty matched Mellis’ disposal haul to lead the Ranges in that area, but was beaten out by Murray’s Jye Chalcraft – who led all-comers with 29. Ruckman Will Christie also stood tall with 19 disposals, eight marks, and 25 hit-outs, while Zane Barzen continues to mark everything (nine) and Zavier Maher (15 disposals, one goal) was also serviceable. The Bushrangers, who should cause some headaches for sides above them in the back end of the season, face Northern next for a chance to sneak into the eight, while Eastern hosts Oakleigh in a top four showdown.

 

CALDER CANNONS 4.2 | 9.3 | 10.4 | 17.5 (107)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.0 | 2.0 | 5.5 | 5.9 (39)

GOALS:

Calder: M. Fletcher 4, J. Sutton 2, H. Minton-Connell 2, J. O”Sullivan 2, N. Gentile 2, S. Paea 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, N. Stewart.
Dandenong: A. Williamson 3, W. Howe, J. Toner.

BEST:

Calder: J. Cardillo, S. Ramsay, M. Simpson, J. Sutton, C. Brown, N. Gentile
Dandenong: J. Toner, L. Williams, W. Bravo, P. Gerdan, R. Orchard, M. Gregory

Twelve goals at one end helped Calder to a comprehensive 68-point win over reigning premiers Dandenong at RAMS Arena, moving the Cannons above the Stingrays in the top eight. Seven final-quarter goals to nil really compounded the difference as the Cannons entered party mode late on, enjoying the wind advantage after Dandenong had managed three goals to one in the previous term. There simply was not enough firepower for the Stingrays, with bottom-ager Ashton Williamson claiming three of their five goals for the game and the effects of a stripped core showing as players were forced to perform out of position. Jack Toner stood up with 28 disposals and eight marks, while Lachlan Williams (23 disposals, five inside 50s) was good through defence and midfield, and Will Bravo (16 disposals, four marks) was also solid. For the winners, Mason Fletcher was outstanding up forward with his four majors and lead-up marking, while five other Cannons also managed to bag multiple goals. Sam Ramsay was prolific in the engine room with 32 disposals alongside Jackson Cardillo (27, nine tackles), while Curtis Brown (22 disposals, one goal) was effective off half-back and Ned Gentile (23, two) continues to be consistent. Calder will look to climb further up the table in its next fixture against Bendigo, while Dandenong will need to lift if it is to compete with Sandringham next round as both sides welcome back representative players.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.0 | 4.3 | 5.6 | 5.7 (37)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.4 | 3.7 | 6.10 | 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Callow 2, R. Mansell.
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 3, S. Mitchell 3, J. Dick-O’Flaherty 2, J. Rodi.

BEST:

Tasmania: M. McGuinness, J. Callow, O. Davis, O. Shaw, J. Barwick, S. Collins
Bendigo: A. Gundry, S. Mitchell, N. Walsh, J. Ginnivan, W. Wallace, R. Clarke

The Bendigo Pioneers got one back on the Tasmania Devils after a narrow Round 7 loss, this time running out 29-point winners on home turf. It was no easy task for the Pio’s, who overcame a slender half time deficit to run home strong. That came on the back of six goals to one after the main break, with Bendigo well and truly clicking into gear when it mattered most. Bottom-agers Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell each booted three goals to contribute two thirds of their side’s score, while Jake Dick-O’Flaherty claimed two to round out Bendigo’s multiple goal kickers. Sam Conforti found some good form to collect 24 disposals, while the Pioneer’s fourth goal kicker, Jeremy Rodi, had 23 touches and the James Schischka and Ben Worme again combined for over 45 disposals. Aaron Gundry was named best though for his 17 disposals and 24 hit-outs, while Matt McGuinness claimed the same honour for Tasmania – collecting a game-high 34 disposals, eight marks, and 11 rebounds. Bottom-agers Ollie Davis and Sam Collins were the next best with 19 touches each, while Jackson Callow dominated the air with 18 disposals, eight marks and two goals. With the two sides swapping ladder spots, Bendigo is set to face a firing Calder Cannons side, while Tasmania opens Round 14 against Gippsland.

 

GEELONG FALCONS 2.3 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.4 | 10.6 | 14.8 | 20.9 (129)

GOALS:

Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Lord, C. Karpala, O. Henry.
Oakleigh: D. Williams 5, J. Ugle-Hagan 4, T. Bianco 2, B. Laurie 2, R. McInnes 2, C. Sharman 2, T. Graham, J. Ayton-Delaney, T. Lovell.

BEST:

Geelong: C. Lazzaro, N. Gribble, C. Fleeton, C. Sprague, H. Whyte, O. Henry
Oakleigh: R. McInnes, D. Williams, J. Ugle-Hagan, T. Bianco, T. Graham, V. Zagari

All of Oakleigh’s top-end guns fired as the Chargers easily accounted for a depleted Geelong Falcons side by 87 points to see out the round. Returning co-captains Dylan Williams (five goals) and Trent Bianco (24 disposals, two goals) were fantastic, with a raft of bottom and top-age talents helping Oakleigh to their big win. Bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four goals) and Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) did their best to live up to the standard set by Williams and Bianco, with over-ager Thomas Graham (24 disposals, 23 hitouts, one goal) monstrous in the ruck and Kaden Schreiber handball-happy with 25 among his 29 disposals. For Geelong, Charlie Sprague‘s three goals were a shining light, while bottom-agers Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals, four rebound 50s), Noah Gribble (20 disposals, five marks), Cameron Fleeton (19 disposals, seven marks) and Henry Walsh (11 disposals, 26 hitouts) gave a glimpse of the future. Desperate for form, a meeting with GWV Rebels is next for Geelong, while Oakleigh will be red hot heading into its top four clash with table-toppers, Eastern.