Tag: Zach Sproule

State Leagues wrap: Jeffrey slots nine as leagues limited by lockdowns

JUST three states had unimpeded state league competitions over the weekend with the Tasmanian State League (TSL), West Australian Football League (WAFL) and Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) take place, with a trio of Victorian Football League (VFL) matches in Queensland. We recap the results over the weekend.

Tasmania (TSL):

Lauderdale caused an upset on Saturday, defeating the fourth-placed Tigers by a narrow two-point margin. The Bombers led at every break, taking a 15-point advantage heading into the final term, before a fourth quarter fightback from the Tigers saw them kick four straight goals and take the lead. Consecutive goals to Edward Stanley and Samuel Siggins meant the Bombers snuck home in a thrilling contest.

Ex-Brisbane and Geelong player Allen Christensen booted three goals for Lauderdale, while Luke Graham also kicked three majors for the away side. Siggins’ final quarter goal added to his strong performance, while Lachlan Gadomski was excellent for the Tigers.

The win for the Bombers sees them jump Glenorchy into fifth spot after the Magpies conceded a 10-point three quarter time lead to go down to the rampant Roos who booted five last quarter goals to none to win by 25 points.

Meanwhile in North Hobart, visitors North Launceston were victorious by 36 points. The Northern Bombers were led by Brandon Leary who added five goals to his season tally.

Western Australia (WAFL):

A thrilling final quarter made bottom three clash between East Perth and West Coast the game of the round with the Eagles just hanging on to win by two points. Led by captain Hamish Brayshaw (27 disposals, one goal) and AFL listed players Jackson Nelson (32 disposals, nine tackles), Alex Witherden (25 disposals), Luke Foley (25 disposals), and big man Nathan Vardy (three goals, 31 hit outs) the Eagles just managed to hold off the fast-finishing Royals who kicked 5.6 to 0.0 in the final quarter. Angus Scott (33 disposals) and Matthew Young (three goals) both had an impact for the home side.

West Perth made it six wins on the trot after defeating Peel 12.10.82 to 8.10.58. League leading goal-kicker Tyler Keitel added another seven goals to his name, while Shane Nelson (34 disposals) and Aaron Black (32 disposals) continued to find the footy. Taylin Duman (32 disposals, 13 marks) and Blake Acres (27 disposals) will be hoping for a recall to Fremantle’s senior team, while Benjamin Hancock (30 disposals) also played well.

Top two sides Subiaco and Claremont were both victorious on the weekend defeating South Fremantle and East Fremantle respectively. Leigh Kitchin (33 disposals) and Gregory Clark (32 disposals) led the way for Subiaco, while Callan England and Jake Patmore both booted four goals for Claremont. Swan Districts, led by Samuel Fisher collecting 37 touches, maintained their place in fifth after a 24-point win over Perth.

New South Wales/Queensland/Victoria (VFL):

With New South Wales and Victoria still in lockdown, only three VFL games took place this weekend, all in Queensland. The third last Bombers, who are temporarily located in Queensland took on Southport, and with just 10 AFL-listed players available, the rest of the team was literally made up of ‘ring ins’. Richmond premiership player Alex Rance and ex-Saint Paddy McCartin both featured for the makeshift Bombers team who took it right up to top-two hope Southport, leading at every break before Tom Fields kicked a match-winning snap with just a couple of minutes remaining to secure the four points for the Sharks. Jacob Dawson (34 disposals) led the way for the Sharks along with Fields (two goals, 22 touches) and Mackenzie Willis (28 disposals, 15 marks). For the Bombers, McCartin booted three goals playing forward as opposed to his usual spot in defence for the Swans VFL team. Dylan Clarke had 31 touches, while Rance was an important inclusion in defence.

The Giants defeated the Lions by 27 points on the Gold Coast to help their chances of maintaining a top eight spot. Like the Bombers, the Giants had limited players available. The Giants had 13 players and borrowed nine others from crosstown rival Sydney. AFL omissions Jeremy Finlayson (three goals, 22 disposals) and Zach Sproule (two goals, 27 disposals) both responded in a big way, while Swan Ryan Clarke (38 disposals) had the most touches on the day with teammate Dylan Stephens (26 disposals) also impactful. AFL-listed Lions Tom Joyce (29 disposals), Rhys Mathieson (29 disposals) and Brock Smith (27 disposals) each had plenty of the footy, and Nakia Cockatoo booted two goals as he edges closer to a debut game with the Lions in the AFL.

Meanwhile, the Suns were big winners against Apsley. Joel Jeffrey was dominant in attack kicking nine goals straight in the 78-point victory. Matthew Payne had 35 touches for the Hornets, while Malcolm Rosas had 30 touches for the Suns. Darcy MacPherson put his forward pressure on display with a couple of goals to go along with 26 touches and 12 tackles.

Queensland (QAFL):

Labrador moved into top spot on the ladder after an 18-point win over Mt Gravatt. Charles Ford had four goals on the day, while Tom Simpson was among the best for the Tigers. For the Vultures, Jonah Licht and Benji Neal each had three majors. Surfers Paradise defeated Maroochydore to move into fourth spot following an epic comeback victory. Trailing by 18 points at three quarter time the Demons blew the Roos away in the final term with a six goal to nothing last quarter. Matthew Green led the way for the Demons with three goals in the last quarter to set up the 17-point win.

In other results, John Baker (five goals) and Thomas Baulch (four goals) both cashed in on a 71-point win by the Sherwood Districts over Morningside, and second last Wilston Grange defeated the winless Noosa by 14 points. Palm Beach Currumbin, Broadbeach, and Redland-Victoria Point all had a bye in Round 17.

Picture credit: RF Photography / AFL Photos

State Leagues wrap: Youngsters press claims for senior call-ups

A BUNCH of up-and-coming talents pressed their claims for senior selection across the state leagues this past weekend, with finals time drawing closer in the top tier. The West Australian Football League (WAFL) made its return after a week away due to lockdown, while it was business as usual around the nation with just over a month of home-and-away action left to play out. We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

The Battle of Bell Street headlined Round 13’s action in the VFL, with the Northern Bullants holding on to win by a single point against traditional local rival, Coburg. Players did justice to the resumption of this long-standing rivalry, though the Lions’ last ditch surge was not enough to snatch victory at Piranha Park. Bullants big man Daniel Hughes took home the inaugural Harold Martin Medal as best afield, having finished with 18 disposals and 35 hitouts.

While the Bullants picked up their third-consecutive win, Footscray avoided a major boilover to remain undefeated in 2021, defeating Sydney by seven points on the back of a six-goal final term. The Bulldogs twice trailed by as many as six goals throughout the contest, but did enough to power past the plucky Swans outfit. Patrick Lipinski‘s claims for a recall remain strong after 36 disposals and a goal, while tall Sydney pair Logan McDonald (14 marks, four goals) and Patrick McCartin (27 disposals, 11 marks) dominated the airways.

Collingwood and Geelong remain fixed in the top eight after earning their own closely contested victories, downing 2019 grand finalists Richmond and Williamstown respectively. The Cats lead at every break in their 12-point triumph, while senior-listed midfielder Charlie Constable (30 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) continuing his ominous form, while young forwards Jack Ginnivan (four goals) and Noah Cumberland (five) were sensational in the Magpies’ five-point salute on enemy territory.

While Port Melbourne was thumped by 95 points in Frankston on Friday, the Borough’s home deck was used on Saturday to field the clash between Greater Western Sydney (GWS) and Gold Coast. The Giants, who had a handy mix of AFL-listed players and academy products, ran out 40-point winners with Zach Sproule (five goals), Matt De Boer (35 disposals, three goals), and senior skipper Stephen Coniglio (36 disposals, eight tackles) proving a class above.

Casey and Sandringham were the other Victorian sides to register premiership points in Round 13, while Southport returned to the fray with a resounding 109-point romping of Brisbane. The result sees the Sharks sit a win clear in second, still an equal amount of points away from current frontrunner Footscray. The Round 14 fixture has also been announced, with both Sydney teams having the bye while Queensland travel is set to resume for a trio of Victorian clubs.

South Australia (SANFL):

Ladder position counted for plenty in Round 14 of the SANFL, as all of the top five sides registered wins against their bottom five counterparts. The handful of fixtures took part on a super Saturday of state league action, which did little to really shake up the order of things ranking-wise.

Reigning premier Woodville-West Torrens opened proceedings with a 19-point win over the bottom-placed West Adelaide, despite managing just nine goals from 30 scoring shots. Westies tidied up the margin with three final term consolation goals, but the Eagles’ scoring power was all too much in the end. Jack Hayes had a day to remember for the victors, clunking 20 marks (seven contested) and booting two goals, while prolific small forward Tyson Stengle managed 3.4 from eight touches.

Competition frontrunner Glenelg pushed its undefeated streak out to 13 games with a 30-point win over Sturt, kicking away in a five-goal to one third term. Bays spearhead Liam McBean booted six goals in a commanding display, as Lachie Wilsdon snared eight in North Adelaide’s 48-point salute over Central District. The likes of Harrison Wigg (42 disposals, nine clearances), Samuel McInerney (24 disposals, five goals), and Campbell Combe (29 disposals, two goals) were among the Roosters’ other outstanding individual performers.

North’s win opened up a gap to Port Adelaide in sixth, after the Magpies went down to Norwood by 36 points. The usual suspects were amongst it for the Redlegs, with Mitch Grigg (31 disposals, seven clearances, one goal), Richard Douglas (30 disposals, eight clearances), and Brad McKenzie (24 disposals, two goals) all in the thick of things. South Adelaide was the weekend’s other winner, with pick one contender Jason Horne (19 disposals, one goal) again catching plenty of eyes as his Panthers got the better of Adelaide.

Tasmania (TSL):

Launceston took out a crucial TSL top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, downing North Launceston by 53 points to strength its spot as the league leader. The Blues now boast a two-game gap to their closest rival, and consolidated their latest victory with five goals to nil in the final quarter. Brayden Pitcher booted six majors to spearhead the Blues’ win, Jake Hinds and competition stalwart Jay Blackberry took out votes as the best two players afield.

Fellow top four sides Tigers and Clarence also picked up wins against the bottom two teams, in North Hobart and Lauderdale respectively. The Tigers accelerated during a five-goal second term to end up 40-point victors on the road, while Colin Garland snared another bag of six goals as his Roos wrapped up a 49-point win on home turf. Both sides remain locked on 32 points, with Clarence ahead in third by 0.23 per cent.

Western Australia (WAFL):

The WAFL returned after last week’s lockdown with crowds enjoying five fixtures across a stacked Saturday of state league football. The home sides won out in four of those games, while Subiaco shot back to the top of the table as the race for minor premiership honours heats up.

Claremont’s one-point loss to South Fremantle opened the door for Subiaco to reclaim top spot on percentage, though all three teams now sit level on eight wins with a two-pronged chasing pack ready to pounce at just one game adrift. The top five looks relatively set, with a three-game gap now opened up between Swan Districts in fifth and Peel Thunder in sixth.

Swans scraped past the ever-improving West Coast by two points to remain in the hunt with West Perth, as the Falcons had a much easier time defeating East Perth by 30 points. Geelong champion Harry Taylor returned to East Fremantle and booted four goals as Corey Warner, the brother of Chad made his League debut, but their efforts were not enough to help overcome the Thunder in a 26-point loss.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: GWS GIANTS

HAVING lost some key personnel at the trade table this year, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) held a strong hand coming into this year’s draft with four first rounders and five picks within the top 30. While their final haul changed via live trading, the Giants came away with five terrific talents at the National Draft and added another fresh face among their three-pronged rookie intake. After a disappointing 10th place finish in 2020, GWS will hope to hit back with force next year and should be well stocked for sustained success with more draft hauls like this one, adding to an already stacked list.


National Draft:
#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59 Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Sam Reid (Re-listed), Zach Sproule (Re-listed), Will Shaw (NSW/ACT zone, Cat B)

A hat-trick of picks within the top 20 meant GWS had some trading flex, but the strategy was to reassess after those initial selections should a trade agreement not be reached. The latter ended up being the case, with top 10 slider Tanner Bruhn the Giants’ first selection at 12. Potentially the best pure midfielder in the draft behind Will Phillips, the 183cm Geelong Falcons graduate is relentless on the inside and driven to improve. While he adds to the raft of GWS midfield options, the Giants rate his versatility and can see him impacting with his mix of class and intent either down back or up forward.

The Giants then moved to bolster their outside running stocks with picks 15 and 18, making somewhat prospective selections in Conor Stone and Ryan Angwin respectively. Stone doubles as a medium forward but has the aerobic capacity to play further afield, as proven during his time with APS side St Kevin’s. He booted five goals on his NAB League debut for Oakleigh before contributing to its premiership triumph. Angwin has already drawn comparisons to fellow Foster native Xavier Duursma, with his slender frame juxtaposed by fearless attack on the ball. He is another strong runner who looks set to develop in outside roles, but has the potential to fill out and impact either up forward or on the inside.

A trade with Collingwood saw GWS bolster its 2021 hand with another first-rounder, but it came at a cost with the Giants’ remaining top 30 picks going the other way. That left picks 58 and 59 to manufacture something with and a pair of defenders rounded out a solid haul. Cameron Fleeton was called out first, a versatile type who can play tall, small, offensive, or defensive roles down back and was set to co-captain the Geelong Falcons this season. Jacob Wehr is a mature-ager who starred in Woodville-West Torrens’ premiership success in 2020, showcasing enormous class and poise off half-back. His decision making by foot is a real asset which appealed to many clubs.

Sam Reid and Zach Sproule were given rookie lifelines as re-listed players, with NSW/ACT zone selection Will Shaw a surprise Category B listing by the Giants. The classy outside runner was part of the GWS Academy before running out for the Murray Bushrangers and Bendigo Pioneers, but was overlooked in his top-age year. Having swept over vision of him, the Giants were keen to get Shaw on board as a long-term depth option.

Featured Image: Tanner Bruhn was GWS’ first pick in the 2020 National AFL Draft | Credit: Getty Images

Classic Contests: Stingrays hold on in talent-filled clash with Bushrangers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016 when the two teams were locked in an epic tussle at Shepley Oval in mid-August.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 4.1 | 4.2 | 7.7 | 10.8 (68)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.1 | 5.8 | 6.11 | 9.13 (67)

TAC Cup, Round 16 | Saturday, August 13, 2016
Shepley Oval, 2pm

Future draftees:

Dandenong: Hunter Clark (St Kilda), Tom Murphy (North Melbourne), Josh Battle (St Kilda), Lachlan Young (Western Bulldogs), Mitch Riordan (Gold Coast), Myles Poholke (Adelaide),
Murray: Todd Marshall (Port Adelaide), Will Brodie (Gold Coast), Ben Paton (St Kilda), Doulton Langlands (St Kilda), Charlie Spargo (Melbourne), Zach Sproule (GWS), Esava Ratugolea (Geelong), Harry Morrison (Hawthorn)

In a good year for both sides, Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers were set for a Round 16 clash as both teams would be close to full-strength. While the Stingrays were still missing a couple such as top prospect, Luke Davies-Uniacke, the teams would eventually field 14 future AFL draftees – four of which would head to St Kilda – in a top-end talent-filled match.

Coming into the game, Dandenong was leading all-comers with a three per cent gap on second placed Geelong, though the Bushrangers were just two points behind and just marginally a per cent behind the Stingrays. It shaped up to be an absolute epic, and unlike many, the pre-game predictions of the match being a beauty, lived up to expectations.

Dandenong took control early, booting four goals to two in order to take a 12-point lead into quarter time. Starting the game as favourites, particularly on their home deck, the Stingrays looked to take full advantage early in the game. Not to go away quietly, the Bushrangers produced one of the better quarters for the year that the Stingrays had faced, booting three goals to zero – holding their opponents to just one behind – to lead by 12 points at half-time.

Continuing the see-sawing contest, it was Dandenong that regained control in the third term, booting three goals to one, and could have led by even more than their three quarter time advantage of two points. In the premiership quarter, the Stingrays piled on 3.5 to 1.3 and grabbed the lead but were not entirely comfortable. In a thrilling final term, both teams booted three goals, and while the Bushrangers clawed back a point from the deficit, could not hit the front and fell short, 10.8 (68) to 9.13 (67).

Hunter Clark had a day out with a best on performance for the Stingrays thanks to two goals from 13 disposals, three marks and three tackles, while Sam Fowler racked up 26 disposals, two marks and three tackles to be named among the best. Fellow forward, Dan Allsop – who finished second in the Morrish Medal count, booted 2.3 from 19 disposals, three marks and six tackles, while future Roo, Tom Murphy, and Bailey Morrish were also among the best with Nathan Scagliarini (15 disposals, three marks, three tackles and a goal). Of the future draftees to play in the game, Myles Poholke had an impactful performance with 20 disposals and three tackles, while Mitch Riordan (seven disposals, three tackles) and Lachlan Young (14 disposals) also played.

For the Bushrangers, Will Brodie was a star, winning 26 disposals, two marks, eight tackles and booting a goal to be the best player on the ground. Fellow highly-rated prospect and bottom-age talent at that stage, Charlie Spargo had a strong performance of 20 disposals, four marks, four tackles and two goals, while future Port Adelaide tall, Todd Marshall had nine disposals for three marks, three tackles and 3.2. All top six players on the ground for the Bushrangers eventually found their way to AFL homes, with the others being St Kilda duo, Doulton Langlands (20 disposals, two marks, two tackles and one goal) and Ben Paton (21 disposals, five marks – three contested – and three tackles) and Richmond’s Ryan Garthwaite (15 disposals, seven marks and three tackles). Other draftees who played were Harry Morrison (14 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Zach Sproule (12 disposals, four marks and four tackles) and Esava Ratugolea (five touches, two marks, four tackles and 21 hitouts).

Murray would have the last laugh at the end of the season, upsetting the minor premiers in the qualifying final by 26 points as they went on to reach the 2016 TAC Cup Grand Final before going down to Sandringham Dragons. Two weeks earlier, Dandenong would exit in straight sets, booting just four goals in a 61-point loss to the Dragons in the semi-finals.

2019 AFL Draft club review: GWS GIANTS

GIVEN the draft circumstances, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS were able to make the most out of a hand they knew would be compromised with an elite talent coming into the club. Able to trade up to Pick 4 in order to avoid using their first pick on Northern Academy member Tom Green, the GIANTS instead nabbed the talented inside midfielder at Pick 10, and while they head into 2020 with a deficit, traded back into the 2019 National AFL Draft to snaffle up a couple of late selections. Like most sides that make a Grand Final, the GIANTS did not need to add too much, instead able to go best available, whilst adding some mature-age needs.


National Draft:
4. Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country) | 187cm | 83kg | Medium Defender
10. Tom Green (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies) | 190cm | 89kg | Inside Midfielder
51. Jake Riccardi (Werribee) | 194cm | 96kg | Key Forward
65. Thomas Hutchesson (Adelaide SANFL) | 177cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
15. Jake Stein (GWS Giants)
28. Tom Sheridan (GWS Giants)
36. Zachary Sproule (GWS Giants)

The GIANTS had already committed to redrafting their three players in Jake Stein, Tom Sheridan and Zach Sproule in the Rookie Draft, so the third day of action was nothing too exciting. Most of the GIANTS’ work was done on night one, with night two also featuring a couple of surprises. Knowing Green was all but safe from their first selection, the GIANTS would have been that bit more relieved when the Demons opted for Luke Jackson and not place a bid on the inside midfielder. It allowed the GIANTS to instead select Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country co-captain Lachlan Ash. He is a readymade talent with an elite right boot and great vision that can set up the play from half-back. By selecting Ash, GWS is able to hand Zac Williams more midfield minutes and continue the form he showed during the 2019 AFL Finals Series. Ash will rarely make too many mistakes by foot and takes the game on from half-back, able to slot straight into the GIANTS line-up.

When the bid for Green came in at Pick 10, the GIANTS did not need much time to think about it. In what could be akin to daylight robbery, the GIANTS picked up a genuine top five talent with a mid-first round selection. Like Ash, Green could slot in straight away if required, and even more so given he stands at 190cm and 89kg with deceptive athleticism. He is a hard man to bring down and bullocks his way around stoppages, allowing other midfielders to use their outside strengths. He has shown some signs he could also play as a leading forward if he was to rest there, and that would be another string to his bow and the team’s versatility.

With the final two picks in the AFL National Draft, the GIANTS scooped up a couple of mature agers, including Werribee’s key position forward Jake Riccardi after trading up to take him off Collingwood’s hands. While the Magpies were rumoured to be interested heading into the draft, the GIANTS were willing to pay up and took a punt on the forward to find a role in a strong front six that saw Jon Patton leave over the off-season. Along with Riccardi, the GIANTS liked what they saw with small but tough Adelaide midfielder, Thomas Hutchesson. The 177cm prospect is an outside player with neat skills, good decision making and most impressively, an eye for defensive pressure.

What the GIANTS achieved over the draft period was bringing in four talents of whom could all play in Round 1 if given the opportunity. Whilst there is no doubt that would be a tough feat given the strength of the side, it allows GWS to have extra depth at its disposal heading into a season where it has to be considered one of the premiership contenders.

NSW/ACT weekly wrap: All Nations and Kickstart sides enjoy Diversity Championships

OVER the past few days, the biggest story in NSW/ACT was the National Diversity Championships, where the All Nations and Kickstart sides competed against every other Australian state and territory in a three-day series. Both sides picked up a win and gained invaluable experience in the process.

National Diversity Championships:

The New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) All Nations and Kickstart sides finished the three-day tournament with a win each in what was a great experience for the footballers. The NSW/ACT All Nations side had to wait until the final day to get a victory, but it was worth it, claiming a one-point thriller over the Northern Territory thanks to a goal from Thomas Sase. In earlier games, the NSW/ACT side were competitive across the games with Victoria the only side to win by more than four goals. For the Kickstart team, a first-up victory against Queensland and a competitive effort against Victoria where they went down by just five points, ensured they started the tournament on the right foot. While they were well beaten by the other states in the final two days, they never gave in.

For more information on the National Diversity Championships, including reports and results, head to the AFL NSW/ACT website, or to go to individual days, see:

Sunday, April 15
Monday, April 16
Tuesday, April 17

All Nations results:

NSW/ACT 1.0 (6) lost to Tasmania 4.5 (29)
NSW/ACT 3.2 (20) lost to South Australia 3.4 (22)
NSW/ACT 2.4 (16) lost to Queensland 3.5 (23)
NSW/ACT 2.0 (12) lost to Victoria 9.5 (59)
NSW/ACT 6.4 (40) defeated Northern Territory 6.3 (39)
NSW/ACT 1.3 (9) lost to Western Australia 5.6 (36)

Kickstart results:

NSW/ACT  5.0 (30) defeated Queensland 4.3 (27)
NSW/ACT 4.1 (25) lost to Victoria 4.7 (31)
NSW/ACT 3.1 (19) lost to South Australia 10.7 (67)
NSW/ACT 1.0 (6) lost to Tasmania 11.3 (69)
NSW/ACT 1.1 (7) lost to Western Australia 14.9 (93)
NSW/ACT 2.1 (13) lost to Northern Territory 9.3 (57)

NEAFL results

April 7

Canberra Demons 13.5 (83) defeated by Sydney University 11.25 (91)

Sydney University got the job done against Canberra Demons despite a late scare in the final term. The visitors got away to a flyer to lead by 18 points at the first break, before Canberra piled on six goals to one in the second term, with Sydney University misfiring with the single goal coming from seven scoring shots. Trailing by eight points at the half, Sydney University booted 5.8 to 2.0 to take an 18-point lead once again with a quarter to play. Hitting back hard in the final term the Demons almost got back in front, but ultimately fell short as the visitors won 11.25 (91) to 13.5 (83) at Allinsure Park. Sydney arguably should have won by more given they had double the scoring shots of their opponents (36-18).

Mitch Maguire was nominated for the NEAFL Rising Star award after a terrific performance in the loss, booting three goals and was a clear standout. Others that impressed for Canberra were Nathan Richards and Lucas Meline, both of whom booted a goal each. For the winners, Sam Fong was named Sydney’s best, while Austin Lucy and Darcy Baron-Hay were also impressive. Jacob Derickx was the focal point up forward, finishing the game with four goals. Canberra had a bye this weekend after playing their round two match on Good Friday.

April 14

Sydney University 16.13 (109) defeated Redland 10.13 (73)

Sydney University remained undefeated in the NEAFL after an impressive 36-point victory over Redland at Henson Park on the weekend. In what was a fairly even contest in the first half, the home side broke away in the second half, booting eight goals to four, including five goals to two in the final quarter to secure the 16.13 (109) to 10.13 (73) win. Former Collingwood AFL player Tom Young continued his good form with four majors and named among the best, as was Austin Lucy who backed up his round one form. Others who were named in the best include Adam Gulden and Sam Fong, who is another player who has been sensational in the early parts of the season. Damien Bonney booted four goals to be another key player up forward.

Brisbane Lions 19.10 (124) defeated Sydney Swans 10.14 (74)

Sydney Swans reserves fell away in the second half against Brisbane Lions, going down by 50 points. Brisbane piled on 12 goals to three after half-time and went from a six-point deficit to a big win with 13 individual goalkickers. Darcy Cameron and Ben Ronke booted two goals each for the Swans, while Robbie Fox, Harry Marsh and Tom McCartin were named among Sydney’s best in the defeat.

Gold Coast Suns 14.9 (93) defeated GIANTS 11.6 (72)

Gold Coast Suns proved too good for the UWS GIANTS despite a spirited effort throughout the match. The first quarter of four goals to one in favour of the Suns proved to be the difference in the 27-point loss. Isaac Cumming starred for the Giants with 30 disposals and six marks, while Matthew Flynn had a whopping 51 hitouts and two goals from 13 disposals, and Zach Sproule finished with 22 disposals, six marks and seven tackles.

Matt Balmer’s 2016 Final AFL Draft Power Rankings Part 1

EVERY month since May, Matt Balmer has ranked his players from the 2016 AFL Draft pool. With less than three weeks until the November 25 National AFL Draft, he counts down the players ranked 50-1 over the next two weeks. Today will be 50-26, before next Monday’s final rankings from 25-1.

Well what a year it has been. Looking back at May’s rankings, it’s amazing how things can change after Sam Petrevski-Seton was #1 all those months ago. We have had injuries such as Jy Simpkin and Alex Witherden breaking their legs in separate school game incidents, while names have jumped up with strong performances throughout the season and in finals.

Having seen just under 100 games throughout the season, it is always hard to come to a final order and I have ranked the players how I would if I was an AFL club going into the draft come November, ticking names off the list as they are called out.

#50 Zac Fisher
Inside Midfielder (Perth/Western Australia)
15/06/1998 | 175.2cm | 70.3kg

Bite sized inside midfielder who jumped onto the radar with a big performance against the Allies in the first television game of the National Under 18s Championships on Fox Footy. Fisher’s awareness is one of his strengths and it is highlighted in the final quarter of the Western Australia game against the Allies, where he pulls the kick from the half forward flank into the centre 45 metres out from goal. His run and carry work through the midfield is good and he using his quick hands to clear the ball from the stoppages which is a strength. Kicking efficiency needs work and it was below 50 per cent in the WAFL this season. He played senior football all season for Perth and is not worried by bigger bodied opponents. Probably starts up forward in an AFL environment, before playing through the midfield if he can add to his frame.

#49 Josh Begley
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
03/07/1998 | 185.5cm | 96.1kg

Josh Begley is one of the bolters of the draft who begun the year playing at Upper Ferntree Gully, before Eastern Ranges added him to their squad where he bagged six goals on debut against Tasmania. Coming off no preseason, Begley bagged 27 goals this season playing up forward. He did move into the midfield, where he used his strong frame to good success. His work in close at the stoppages is very good and is willing to tackle hard to win the ball back. Will need a few preseasons under his belt to work on his body shape, but fits in as a likely Christian Petracca type of player. Skinfolds have reduced dramatically in the last few months and looms as a likely second rounder.

#48 Harry Morrison
Outside Midfielder (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
12/11/1998 | 181.5cm | 77.6kg

It’s been a tough two-year block for Harry Morrison. Morrison suffered an ACL injury in 2014 that resulted in him missing the Under 16s carnival, before an injury to his back saw him miss the Under 18 carnival this season. His form throughout the season at the Murray Bushrangers has been solid, without starring in any particular games. He looks best suited to playing across half back or on a wing – thanks to his outstanding kick and his decision making. Morrison is composed with the ball in hand across half back, reading the play well before disposing of it well off his right boot. Morrison is not the quickest player out on the ground and it may be an area of focus if he can get a run at it without injuries.

#47 Corey Lyons
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
31/05/1998 | 180.5cm | 77.1kg

The brother of current Gold Coast Sun Jarryd could not have done much more to be drafted in 2016. He continued to give it his all, right up until the final game of the TAC Cup season after a steller finals series. Lyons is an inside midfielder who is not blessed with speed, but tackles hard and wins the clearances. A knock on him has been his kicking efficiency which has been 57 per cent in the TAC Cup. Chances were limited in the National Under 18 Championships in a strong Vic Metro side, but his best position will be on the inside at AFL level despite his small size. Has the running ability to play outside and across half forward.

#46 Brennan Cox
Key Position Defender/Forward (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
13/08/1998 | 192.6cm | 91.6kg

All Australian Brennan Cox has had a strong season playing virtually in every position. Cox held down the fort for South Australia at full back in the National Under 18 Championships and often floated between forward and back, with some stints in the ruck for Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL. He played both Reserves and Under 18s football in South Australia, where he showed off his good leap and marking up forward and his intercept marking and one-on-one work in defence. Despite his early season testing results, he at times can appear slow moving around the ground. Is one of the handful of best defenders in the draft pool.

#45 Callum Brown
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/04/1998 | 177.0cm | 72.2kg

Callum Brown is the son of Collingwood great Gavin and begun the Under 18 championships with a big performance. His work in close is very good and he picks the ball up as well as anyone from ground level. After playing mostly as a small forward for the Ranges in 2015, Brown spent most of the season on the inside. Whilst his aggression and work rate is very good, he can let down with his kicking. He is a player that tends to kick short and does not have much hurt factor when he disposes of the ball. His kicking efficiency can also be affected at times when he goes to kick the ball on either side of his body. Expect a bid in the 30 plus region for Brown.

#44 Declan Watson
Key Position Defender (Aspley/Queensland)
17/09/1998 | 191.4cm | 82.8kg

Declan Watson is a strong one-on-one defender who does not lose too often to his opponent. Watson intercepts well in the back half and kicked the ball out of for Queensland in the Under 18 championships. Whilst he isn’t a big ball winner, his work stopping his opponent is very good. Watson will need some time to develop with a light frame, but all signs point to him being the first Brisbane Lions academy member being bidded on come November 25.

#43 Ryan Garthwaite
?Key Position Defender (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
30/06/1998 | 192.0cm | 83.2kg

Ryan Garthwaite finished the year outstandingly well as the Murray Bushrangers’ best defender in their TAC Cup Grand Final loss to Sandringham Dragons. Garthwaite collected 24 disposals, nine marks and six rebound 50s in one of his best games of the season. Garthwaite is a strong lock down defender that is also mobile enough to play up the ground across half back. His intercept mark work is some of the best in the Under 18 system (averaged 6.5 marks in the TAC Cup) but injuries meant an underdone Under 18 carnival. His kicking action can appear strange with both hands dropping the ball onto his foot, but the ball does get to where it needs to go, more often than not.

#42 Jack Graham
?Inside Midfielder (North Adelaide/South Australia)
25/02/1998 | 180.3cm | 81.1kg

South Australian inside midfielder Jack Graham won All-Australian honours and was the Larke Medalist for the best player in Division One in the National Under 18 Championships. Has had a few injuries that has meant he missed a few games across the season, including a quad injury which kept him out of finals for North Adelaide. Graham is a contested ball winning hard nut and is strongly built from the waist down. My only concern is, will his body shape be able to adapt for AFL level where he likely trims off a little to work on endurance? His ball winning ability on the inside is very good and should appeal to clubs with a late second round pick.

#41 Louis Cunningham
Outside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
24/02/1998 | 181.8cm | 76.6kg

Little known Oakleigh Charger Louis Cunningham impressed in 2016. Showing his dash across half back, Cunningham stood out not only for his bright orange boots, but his pinpoint left foot pass that could break the game open rebounding out of defence. His attacking flair impressed me on multiple occasions when he would have the ball sprinting out of the back half and kicking it long forward. Deserves a chance on an AFL list.

#40 Willem Drew
Inside Midfielder (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
01/10/1998 | 188.0cm | 79.3kg

Willem Drew is one of the best pure inside midfielders in the TAC Cup. Averaging 7.4 tackles and 6.9 clearances per game, Drew was a crucial cog in the North Ballarat Rebels midfield alongside Hugh McCluggage. Whilst his ball winning is great, he has not had inside form at National Under 18 Championships level or in the NAB U18 All-Stars game, making it hard to judge where he sits in the draft overall. Drew does have some areas of improvement, where he can just hack the ball out of a stoppage at times – this resulted in a kicking efficiency of 55.7 per cent in the TAC Cup. He is slow to accelerate and isn’t blessed with pace, meaning the clear a stoppage he often needs to handball to ball out to a teammate.

#39 Myles Poholke
?Inside Midfielder/General Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
10/07/1998 | 183.7cm | 81.9kg

Strong midfielder Myles Poholke has the ability to push forward and hit the scoreboard. Poholke had 18 disposals and two goals for Vic Country in their narrow loss to Vic Metro in the National Under 18s Championships. Whilst he is not a huge disposal winner, he played in a team that had one of the lowest disposal averages as a team week in week out. Poholke’s bursts can see him collect six disposals in as many minutes, before fading as he did at times throughout the year. His consistency does need work but his running ability and endurance has improved from what they were earlier in the season. His strength at the contest is very good and that can help him win one-on-one contests.

#38 Kobe Mutch
Balanced Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)
18/03/1998 | 186.1cm | 83.6kg

One of the best ball winners in the 2016 draft pool is Kobe Mutch, but just where does he play his best football? He has multiple traits that make him so attractive, but without being elite in one category. His work rate around the ground is very good and he spreads very well from the stoppages and looks to get involved. Mutch is a good clearance player when he plays through the centre of the ground and is able to link the ball up with teammates on the outside. An average kick can see Mutch lean back at times and float the ball when going forward, allowing for it to be intercepted by opposition. He is willing to kick the ball on either side of his body and is a smooth mover.

#37 Jack Maibaum
?Key Position Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/03/1998 | 191.9cm | 91.0kg

Key defender Jack Maibaum won All-Australian honours after a great National Under 18 Championships playing as Vic Metro’s number one tall. Maibaum has floated between forward and back at both Melbourne Gramamr (school) and Eastern Ranges (TAC Cup). Up forward he is mobile enough to lead further up the ground, whilst in defence he has played mainly a role shutting down the opposition best forward. Not a big disposal winner, but his efforts in one-on-one situations are very good and he gives his all week in week out. At 192cm, is he big enough to play as the number one key back?

#36 Josh Daicos
Outside Midfielder/Small Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
26/11/1998 | 177.8cm | 72.2kg

Josh Daicos is the highest ranked Father/Son prospect in my rankings. The son of Peter has had a good year in the TAC Cup providing X-Factor when playing up forward. At times he has pushed through the midfield and played across half back, but looks most at home. Against the Northern Knights, Daicos played in defence for the first half before moving forward- providing deadly booting a couple of goals to get the Chargers over the line. Some of his moments up forward are eye catching and looks agile on the field, wearing bright boots as he has for most of the season. His footy brain is very good but he can fade in and fade out of matches very quickly. Expect a bid in the 30-45 range.

#35 Luke Ryan
General Defender (Coburg/VFL)
07/02/1996 | 185.7cm | 82.9kg

Luke Ryan is the best state league prospect across Australia and seems likely to be a first round pick. Upon watching him, he looks to be ‘skinny’, but up close and testing wise he sits at a touch under 83kg. The general defender rebounds the ball and isn’t afraid to intercept mark. He is very good athletically, but from the games I have seen him play- he does collect a lot of the ball uncontested due to dropping off his man. A shoulder injury saw his season end early but was still able to win the Fothergill-Round medal as the best Under 23 player in the VFL.

#34 Sam Walker
?Medium Defender (Glenelg/South Australia)
16/03/1998 | 185.1cm | 79.2kg

I’m a big fan of rebounding defender Sam Walker. The South Australian has an exquisite left boot and hits targets at will when steaming from defence. Walker’s National Under 18 Championships saw him average 14 disposals and was named in the All Australian side. His disposal efficiency was elite from the carnival and continued his form back in the SANFL. Walker has pushed further up the ground at times, but looks most suited in defence with his great rebounding ability. Had the match up on Will Hayward in the SANFL U18 Grand Final in the wet and performed well.

#33 Isaac Cumming
Outside Midfielder (North Adelaide/NSW-ACT)
11/08/1998 | 184.2cm | 73.8kg

Someone mentioned to me back in June to keep an eye out on Isaac Cumming – and sure enough he was right. Cumming finished the year outstandingly well after a quiet performance in the under 18s carnival for both the Allies and NSW-ACT. Cumming provided a spark coming from defence in the NAB AFL U18 All Stars game on Grand Final Eve and was able to break the lines. Not a big disposal winner but uses the ball well and can be damaging across half back or on a wing.

#32 Jonty Scharenberg
Inside Midfielder (Glenelg/South Australia)
28/08/1998 | 183.2cm | 80.6kg

Jonty Scharenberg is the brother of Collingwood’s Matt, but is a completely different player. The Glenelg midfielder is an inside midfielder who is a good decision maker will ball in hand. His handballing to opponents out of a stoppage is outstanding and one of his best traits. Scharenberg collected 34 disposals in his only SANFL U18 apperance for the season in the Grand Final and was Glenelg’s best on the day. His clearance work in the Under 18 championships was very good, but kicking is a major knock on him with a kicking efficiency of 49 per cent in the carnival. Scharenberg doesn’t have a burst of speed either to get away from opponenents, often relying on his football IQ to dispose of the footy.

#31 Zach Sproule
?Key Position Forward/Defender (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
15/05/1998 | 195.6cm | 88.5kg

GWS Academy member Zach Sproule has played multiple roles in 2016. He played up forward alongside Todd Marshall, kicking seven goals in the Under 18 championships for NSW-ACT. Sproule played a similar role for the Allies but played the second half of the season in defence for the Bushrangers, playing on opponents such as Josh Battle throughout the year. A strong mark, Sproule has the running capabilities to play furthur up the ground as a roaming half forward thanks to outstanding endurance. Is still lightly framed but his set shot kicking routine is very good. His mobility should appeal to clubs looks for a tall at either end with plenty of development left in them.

#30 Dylan Clarke
?Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
06/09/1998 | 185.7cm | 83.4kg

Dylan Clarke is the younger brother of North Melbourne 2015 draftee Ryan. Clarke has had a stellar season for both Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro. The competitive midfielder is a hard nut at the ball and averaged just under eight tackles and seven clearances per TAC Cup game for the Ranges. Has a good endurance base which means he can play on the outside if required, but his strong build will allow him to transition into senior football rather quickly through the midfield. Clarke’s knocks have been hit kicking technique and it was under 50% in both the TAC Cup and the Under 18 championships for Vic Metro. Likely second round pick.

#29 Jordan Gallucci
Outside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
04/05/1998 | 180.0cm | 77.5kg

The athletic Jordan Gallucci has fluctuated around in my ratings all season. He showed plenty of promise in 2015 with many expecting him to have one of the better kicks in the draft pool. Unfortunately Gallucci could not find his feet as to where he best played his football, mixing between half back, midfield and periods up forward. For me I think he is best suited on the outside, rebounding across half back or on the wing. His kicking has struggled at times this year, at the 61 per cent (when combing TAC Cup & Under 18 championships). His athletic traits in speed and agility are outstanding, where he can burn opponents off running forward. Can win his own football in the midfield and his clearance work when on the inside has been strong.

#28 Patrick Kerr
Key Position Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
31/07/1998 | 193.4cm | 93.2kg

The grandson of Carlton’s Laurie Kerr is one of the best key forwards in the 2016 draft. Kerr was at his best booting four final quarter goals to get Vic Metro over the line against South Australia in the Under 18 championships. Kerr has terrific hands overhead and marks well on the lead. When Kerr is on, he’s hard to stop and can really take the game away from opposing sides. Kerr is a strong leader and works hard on field & is a great character, speaking well to all those who have a chat with him. His speed over the first 5-10m is good which allows him to get distance between him and opposition. Kerr has worked hard on his agility, but it still was one of the worst at the National Combine. May appeal to the Blues at Pick 25 due to the family history.

#27 Jarrod Berry
Medium utility (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
05/02/1998 | 191.0cm | 81.8kg

A large majority have Berry in their top 10-15 names, but not for me. Berry has left me wanting more all season with each game I have seen him play. Multiple injuries did not give Berry an ability to be consistent across the season and play constant football. Berry has the best leadership abilities out of any player in this draft, his vocal work out on the ground is clear and it will hold him in good stead in the AFL. But where does he play his best football? He has the size to play inside midfielder, showed his good capabilities overhead up forward at stages late in the season as well as rebounding the ball out of defence. His kicking does need some work and for me I would be playing him in the attacking half of the ground. The utility will have plenty of suiters and should be a first round selection.

#26 Shai Bolton
Outside Midfielder (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
08/12/1998 | 174.7cm | 68.8kg

Excitement machine Shai Bolton has one of the best highlight packages in 2016. His fast side step is Cyril Rioli-like and he moves as well as anyone when getting around opponents. His speed is outstanding and is a hard match up when playing up forward. Bolton’s first half in the NAB AFL U18 All-Stars shows he has the capabilities to play up on a wing and his eye-catching moments make you take notice. What does need to be improved on is his kicking, which thanks to a high ball drop and style it can result in some bad kicks. Will need to work on his endurance in an AFL environment where he could well become a very damaging playing on the outside.

So that’s my players ranked 50-26, if you want to know more: Send me a Tweet @MattBalmer7 before my final 25-1 is released next Monday night.

Daring Dragons claim their third TAC Cup Premiership


Murray Bushrangers:     1.4   4.6   7.10   9.14 68
Sandringham Dragons   2.2   6.6   9.8    12.13 85

Murray Goals: Richards 2; Marshall 2; McMullan 2; Tiziani; Pinnuck; Sproule;
Sandringham Goals: H.Brayshaw 2; Krakauer 2; Maloney 2; Florent; Lyons; McLean; Lok; Scrimshaw; Trew

Murray Best: Garthwaite, Brodie, Spargo, Cousins, Carroll, Richards
Sandringham Best: McGrath, Scrimshaw, Taranto, Burt, Lyons, Florent

The Sandringham Dragons have claimed their third TAC Cup premiership, with a tense 17-point win over Murray Bushrangers at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Sandringham led at all main-breaks, but the game continued to sea-saw right throughout the day.

The game stepped up a notch when the Bushrangers hit the front in the final quarter and they held the lead with 12 minutes remaining.

Jack Scrimshaw picked the ball up and goaled from a scrap giving the Dragons the lead.

Tom Maloney continued his strong form from the finals, nailing the winning goal for the Dragons, before Josh Trew put the extra icing on the cake with two minutes to go.

Vic Metro Under 18 MVP Andrew McGrath was enormous in the second half and was a vital cog in the Dragons’ win.

McGrath wasn’t allowed space in the first half, kept to just ten disposals before a match-winning move saw McGrath moved to half back, which allowed him to run and create for the Dragons.

McGrath finished the contest with 38 disposals (21 contested) and eight clearances, as the worthy winner of the TAC Medal for Best on Ground.

“It was a good win. I think I’m making a habit of starting slow,  every final I’ve started a bit poorly but worked my way into the game,” McGrath said post-game.

“It’s all about the team today. Yeah it’s an honour to receive the medal, but everything we did today was for the team, we come in here as a team, we’re going to leave as a team and celebrate as a team,”

“The next month is pretty interesting…Everything starts to heat up, the All Stars game next week, the combine after that, exams… It’s a busy time and you’ve just got to take it week by week and just know your priorities.”

Midfielders Tim Taranto (31 disposals, seven marks and 11 tackles), Oliver Florent (24 disposals) and Corey Lyons (24 disposals) played an important role as the Dragons won 90 more disposals than their opponents.

The Bushrangers won the midfield battle early in the contest and had countless inside 50s, but it was Scrimshaw’s strong work across half back that stopped them in their tracks.

Scrimshaw used his pinpoint left foot on multiple occasions and it was his work repelling the Bushies attacks that kept the Dragons on top.

After half time, Scrimshaw was surprisingly moved forward, a role which he has done in the past, booting the goal to put Dragons in front deep in the final quarter.

Will Brodie came off sore early after colliding with an umpire, resulting in him leaving the ground with a blood nose.

Brodie’s work at the stoppages was good throughout the day finishing with 22 disposals (12 contested), six tackles and seven clearances.

Brodie’s work on the inside was assisted by 179cm bottom-aged midfielder Charlie Spargo who had 24 disposals (11 contested) in one of his best games of the season.

Spargo’s father Paul played 81 games for North Melbourne, narrowly missing the 100 game mark to have Charlie eligible to join the Roos as a Father Son prospect. However, Spargo is part of the GWS academy and will be eligible for them in 2017.

Up forward Todd Marshall was kept off the pace, with Dragons tall Ari Sakeson doing a stellar job keeping him to three disposals and two goals.

Zach Sproule was another who couldn’t get into the game down back and moved forward booting 1.2, but was another quiet Bushranger.

Ryan Garthwaite was the Bushies best with 24 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and six rebound 50s.

A strong one-on-one defender, Garthwaite was able to win plenty of the ball and take it forward. Despite an akward kicking style with a double handed ball drop, he hit the target on 14 out of 17 occasions.

The Dragons now keep their undefeated streak at TAC Cup Grand Finals alive, with three premierships from three occasions.

The players’ attention now turns to Friday afternoon at Punt Road, where the best Under 18 prospects will have the chance to push their name up clubs’ draft boards.


Matt Balmer

Scouting notes: TAC Cup Preliminary Finals

Max Lynch

The Sandringham Dragons will meet the Murray Bushrangers in the TAC Cup Grand Final next Sunday from 11.05am at Etihad Stadium.

Sandringham Dragons 10.10 (70) defeated Geelong Falcons 7.6 (48) by 22-points.

Matt Balmer’s scouting notes:

Geelong Falcons:

#6 Sam Simpson– Geelong could have a gem here. Simpson hasn’t had a lot talked about him, but he’s a very smart footballer. He has the chance to go Father/Son to Geelong if they nominate and match the bid for him. He’s very lively around the contest, running around in his long socks. Had 14 disposals but might begin to get some more talk at club land.

#10 Mitch Diamond– Played mostly behind the ball, kicking the ball out from full back. He had 25 disposals and eight tackles as one of the best for the Falcons.

#28 Paddy Dowling– 21 disposals and two goals for the left footer. Dowling can play in multiple positions, but looked at his best playing as a high half forward. He did attend a few centre bounces, but I like him better on the outside.

#42 Cassidy Parish– With his brother watching on, I’m sure most of the AFL club recruiters had an eye on the bottom ager. With slick back hair and bright red boots there were plenty of passages where he streamed through the middle of the ground. Parish had 22 disposals and eight clearances, often electing to take the ball out of a stoppages looking for a loose player by hand.

#50 Sean Darcy– Was on fire in the first half, but slowed down a bit once Sandy worked themselves back into the day. He dominated in the ruck with 35 hitouts, but struggled when Sandy attempted to go third man up around the ground against him. Will attend the National Combine and clubs will be looking eagerly at his testing results.

Sandringham Dragons:

#4 Will Setterfield– Suffered a shoulder injury early in the 2nd quarter and that was his day done. Believe he went off the hospital and the Dragons weren’t too confident he’ll play again this season.

#5 Andrew McGrath– A huge last quarter of 14 disposals was one of the reasons Sandy are into the Grand Final. He finished with 32 disposals, eight tackles and nine clearances in another dominant display. Hit most of his targets, but played more on the outside than on the inside compared with last weekend. Could he challenge for the No.1 pick? Might be sweating on a report for a sling tackle in the 3rd term.

#7 Corey Lyons– Another solid finals performance collecting 21 disposals. His kicking was again under 50%, but his I was impressive at 3QT with his vocal work willing his teammates over the line.

#8 Tim Taranto– Another huge game for Taranto and he’s well and truly pushing himself into the top handful or so of picks. He has the ability to go and play tall inside 50 and is a tough match up either forward or on the ball. 23 disposals (17 contested) and four goals.

#10 Jack Scrimshaw– Started like a house on fire, but slowed down after quarter time. His left foot was superb playing in the back half. Might need to move further up the ground next week if Setterfield misses the contest.

#13 Oliver Florent– Easily Florent’s best game for a while. Had plenty of spark and was involved right throughout the day. He also laid seven tackles, however he does have the ability to flash in and out of the game with two touches in two passages, before not being seen for 20 minutes.

Murray Bushrangers 15.12 (102) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 8.10 (58) by 44-points. 

Peter Williams’ scouting notes:

Murray Bushrangers:

#7 Will Brodie – Was uncharacteristically quiet today, and while he does not rack up the numbers other potential top five picks do, the uncompromising inside midfielder is usually more consistent. Worked into the game more in the second half, starting with the first goal of the third term from a stoppage. Hard to keep the bull down and will be crucial in winning the hard ball next week.

#13 Lachlan Tiziani – Having a sensational season, in particularly the second half, kicking another swag of goals today. Kicked three goals in three minutes in the second term to help the Bushrangers get some breathing space and run away with the game. Finished with six goals and just looked so good in the air. Huge vertical leap and great goal sense, an over-ager who is likely to make it onto an AFL club’s list.

#20 Zach Sproule – Played an important role as a rebounding defender who is far more mobile than his 196cm would suggest. He can take the ball in flight and not lose stride, running away from the 50 and sending the ball forward. Might be an underrated tall in the draft who will likely cost GWS a pretty penny if he performs well next week. One to watch in the grand final.

#22 Harry Morrison – Reliable defender who plays like a quarterback, peeling off his opponent, positioning himself well and intercepting the ball on the last line of defence. A good kick, Morrison provides run and a link-up player who while a little small, plays taller than his standing at 182cm. Was particularly impressive when he moved up to the wing and sat a kick behind play, rebounding the ball back inside 50 or forward of centre.

#25 Ryan Garthwaite – Another rebounding defender who reads the ball really well. Can sometimes trail his opponent on the lead and is not as strong as other key defenders, but often will outsmart his opponent, reading the ball drop perfectly. Most awkward kicking style you will ever see, but is more effective than others and can clear the danger zone with ease.

#40 Todd Marshall – Really impressive game from the big man. Playing as a lead-up key forward, Marshall finished the game with seven marks and one goal. Not only did he make numerous leads and look strong overhead, but he was quick to dispose of it and keep the game moving for the Bushrangers. Laid a great tackle on Lachlan Walker in the fourth quarter who was streaming down the wing. The first round pick is no longer GWS-bound, and is on the open market with no doubt plenty of suitors likely to be impressed from his strong game today.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#6 Campbell Lane – Found plenty of the football once again and tried hard across the four quarters. Worked well on the inside, but kicking can let him down. Finished with 24 disposals, six marks and five tackles getting it done at both ends. Did not stand out particularly, but can hold his head high in a disappointing team performance.

#8 Toby Wooller – Bottom-age prospect who is continuing to show plenty. A really good mark of the football, he let himself down with his set shots. Continues to develop strongly and gets plenty of space with his leads and expect him to come back stronger next year. One to watch in 2017.

#21 Lachlan Walker – Typical workman like performance by Walker. Is not the cleanest or classiest player out there, but just wills himself to contests and does everything right. Not elite in any one category, but a really consistent player who covers ground well and was consistent by foot today.

#24 Dion Johnstone – An enigma up forward, Johnstone is an interesting prospect. From North Warrnambool boarding at Scotch, he is dangerous inside 50 and finished the game with a couple of goals including a fantastic effort from a tight angle. Johnstone is a one-touch player and while he needs to work on his consistency, will be one with plenty of scope for future development.

#28 Josh Daicos – A quiet performance from Daicos with nine disposals. Picked up a little in the last with a nice goal assist, but missed to the right with a set shot he would normally nail. Plenty of class though and rarely wastes a disposal.

TAC Cup Preliminary Finals preview

Will Brodie will be a key player if Murray are to progress to the Grand Final.
Will Brodie will be a key player if Murray are to progress to the Grand Final.

WITH just four teams and three matches left in the 2016 TAC Cup season, this weekend’s action is expected to be red hot football.

In what has become an annual trend, both the metropolitan teams – Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers – sent their respective country top four opponents packing in straight sets last weekend.

It set up another duo of country versus metro battles with Geelong Falcons facing the Dragons, while Murray Bushrangers meet Oakleigh Chargers.

At the start of the season, I tipped Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons to face off in the grand final, and both teams are just one win away from making that happen.

Standing in their way are two sides that are more than capable of providing an upset, with both Geelong and Oakleigh well and truly in the contest.

Geelong Falcons vs. Sandringham Dragons

The first preliminary final will be between the Falcons and the Dragons with the latter expected to go in strong favourites.

Geelong rarely gets to face Sandringham at full strength due to the amount of players missing due to school football, while the Falcons enjoy the luxury of most of their school footballers (but not all) playing during the week and not clashing with TAC Cup matches.

I think many people, myself included, underrated the Falcons already and believed they could well have been heading for a straight sets exit.

To their credit, the Falcons put in a strong performance to intimidate the North Ballarat Rebels in the first final and run out winners by 37 points.

On that day, Brett Blair booted five goals, while Max Augerinos starred for his role on Rebels playmaker Hugh McCluggage, collecting 22 disposals, 18 of which were effective, while containing McCluggage to 20.

Meanwhile Sandringham Dragons defeated Eastern Ranges in a thrilling comeback, booting the last three goals of the game to run over the top of them.

Last weekend, Sandringham did it much easier over Dandenong Stingrays in the semi-final, restricting the Stingrays to four goals in a 61-point victory.

Their performance has them heading into the clash as favourites, but the Falcons are fresh off a break and are a solid cohesive unit that have shown they can upset the apple cart.

Key players:

Andrew McGrath (Sandringham Dragons)

A dashing half-back and balanced midfielder, McGrath wins his own ball as well as provides his team with outside run and carry.

McGrath is a contender for pick one among a number of other players at this year’s National AFL Draft and does not do a lot wrong.

Shown he can play against players much taller than his 179cm frame, McGrath is able to impact anywhere he is placed from back, midfield to forward.

James Worpel (Geelong Falcons)

Worpel is more than 12 months away from being drafted, but is a strong prospect already.

A tireless worker underneath the packs, around the stoppages and in front of goal, Worpel impacts the game through the middle and up forward.

He still has a season to show his worth, but expect Worpel to be among the top handful of names read out at the 2018 AFL National Draft.

How will the game be played?

I expect Sandringham to look to capitalise on the contest through the midfield with so many stars rotating through there.

If Geelong can try and shut the Dragons midfield down, it is halfway to victory, with Sandringham’s quick fire handballs into space likely to cause headaches for any opposition.

The Dragons are not afraid to back themselves and constantly over possess the ball in a game style that is quite simply ‘keeping’s off’.

Their true logic is, if the opponent does not have the ball, they cannot score.

Sandringham very rarely looked rushed in its forward movement and is more than happy to switch play when required or chew up the clock in tight situations.

Geelong might not have the skills the Dragons do, but they could match them for pace, and on the inside.

Geelong will need to give its forwards silver service delivery to ensure the likes of Brett Blair can help the Falcons kick a winning score.

Who will win?

It is hard to go past Sandringham who were mighty impressive in their last couple of matches, but anything can happen in finals.

Tip: Sandringham by 25 points.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Oakleigh Chargers

The winner of preliminary final one will face the victor of Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday afternoon.

Much like Sandringham, Oakleigh go most of the season without their top line players who are missing through school football commitments.

Murray Bushrangers often miss a few players too when NSW/ACT Rams begin their championships with the likes of Todd Marshall, Zach Sproule and Max Lynch playing in the division two and division one championships meaning Murray are left short – literally.

Murray was strong in its qualifying final victory over Dandenong Stingrays after a poor start to the game.

After kicking one behind in the first term, the Bushrangers booted 15 goals to nine in the last three quarters to run out 26-point winners.

Oakleigh Chargers have felt the two polar opposites of match intensity in the last two weeks, rolling the Calder Cannons by 106 points before holding on by a goal against the North Ballarat Rebels last week.

Many expected the Chargers to knock off the wounded Rebels pretty comprehensively, but instead it was more of a dog fight, which is likely to steel themselves for some red hot pressure against Murray this weekend.

Either side has a legitimate chance of victory here and it will be whether the week off has done wonders for Murray, or if they will be slow to start against a battle-hardened Oakleigh.

Key players:

Will Brodie (Murray Bushrangers)

Another contender for the number one pick, Will Brodie is a contested ball winner who just hunts the footy around the stoppages.

A barometer for his team, Brodie is the safe pick in this year’s draft, readymade and built for AFL.

Expect Brodie to have another solid performance, where while he often does not rack up the numbers others do, has plenty of influence in the match.

Taylin Duman (Oakleigh Chargers)

While Oakleigh might have a few players read out before Duman, he is one of the most underrated players in this draft crop for me. With Jordan Ridley missing with a shoulder injury, Duman is a crucial figure in the back half for the Chargers.

A lovely kick of the football, the rebounding half-back can move into the midfield and have an impact.

While others can often rush under pressure, Duman keeps a level head and delivers the ball well in tight situations.

How will the game be played?

I predict the game could be a higher scoring affair than the other preliminary final, with both teams able to score plenty quickly.

Both have shown the capability to come back from deficits, but also battle tough and get the job done.

I feel Oakleigh will start strongly but Murray will finish better because the Bushrangers are a better second half side, while Oakleigh does most of its damage in the first half when the heat is on.

If Murray can withstand the heat and win the ball at the coalface, I expect them to get up.

But if Oakleigh can over possess the ball similar to Sandringham enough to get it forward to their key targets, then they would be my tip.

Between the sides there are plenty of potential top 30 players and recruiters will enjoy trying to sort them on their draft boards.

Of the two games many predict this will be the closer final, and I am no different, with either side staking a claim for victory.

Who will win?

While Oakleigh’s recent premiership history is well spoken about, I will tip Murray in this one. I think they have prepared well and will be right to go.

If Murray slow the pace and stop Oakleigh getting too much run, I think the Bushrangers will get home in a close one.

Tip: Murray by 7 points.