(Photo: Nathan Freeman evades a tackler – Rising Stars Head Photographer Christian Hartung)
With the first round of the Under 18s Championships beginning in a fortnight, the Victorian sides had a couple of scratch matches for their squads to dust off the cobwebs and begin getting players from across the twelve TAC Cup clubs used to their teammates. There were a number of healthy contributors from both sides that caught the eye.
Jacob Chisari (Bendigo Pioneers)
Chisari played very well off the wing for Country in the first game by his ability to find himself some space multiple times throughout the game and use the ball effectively. For most of the game, Chisari was the main link between defense and attack. He was able to pick the ball of the half back flank and bring a bit of pace to his side, and when he got around the 50, Chisari was able to execute well and find his teammates in dangerous positions.
Josh Cashman (Gippsland Power)
Cashman was very dangerous around the stoppages in today’s game. Gippsland’s over-age captain was playing off the flank and when the ball was around he always made an impact as his run and carry gave the team a lift. Most of his touches were in the forward half of the ground, which benefited the team as he was able to create plenty of scoring opportunities. Cashman was also able to sneak into the forward line a few times and he managed to kick two goals, including a brilliant mark and snap from 50 meters out.
Lewis Taylor (Geelong Falcons)
Taylor was the shining light today for Country in Game two. He racked up a lot of the ball in every quarter and just seemed to have plenty of time with the ball in his hands. Taylor was dangerous when coming off the half back line with the ball as he set up attacks with his accurate ball use. He was also a handful for the opposition when he was forward of the centre as he just used that extra second he had on the ball to pick out his teammates in the best position. Taylor was all around the ground getting possessions, which shows just how capable he is of running out a game and having an impact in all four quarters.
Nathan Freeman (Sandringham Dragons)
Freeman was again the standout player for his team today. He picked up countless possessions and generally used the ball quite well. He was able to give his team some run coming out the the defensive 50 numerous times, which set up many attacks on the opposition goal. Freeman was more dangerous when sitting just behind the pack, as every time he received a handball out of a stoppage, he looked up and released his team with his great decision making. As he’s shown in previous matches, Freeman has the ability to cover all areas of the ground and he showed that today by kicking a goal, as well as making numerous efforts in the defensive 50.
Ben Cavarra (Eastern Ranges)
Every time Cavarra gets the ball, he creates something positive for his team. He was one of the best on the ground in today’s game. An inside midfielder, Cavarra has great awareness and rarely makes a bad decision with the ball in his hands. He was able to break the lines and generate a lot of run when his team needed it, and was also able to steady and hit a target up the field. He is very skillful and sometimes dances around opponents, but he knows exactly when to give the ball off to keep the play moving. Cavarra also grabbed himself a goal with a brilliant set shot from 50 on the boundary line.
Hugh Curnow (Northern Knights)
Curnow was the best Metro player in Game one today. His positioning in the back line is exceptional as time and time again he found himself taking intercept marks from balls kicked into dangerous areas. Curnow wasn’t dragged away from the ball by his opponent as some defenders are, but instead was smart enough to peel off when he could and give his other teammates a hand. As well as helping others, Curnow did his own job by limiting his opponents influence on the match.
Both sides are shaping up well for their clashes with Northern Territory and Queensland in a fortnight. The above players along with names such as Thomas Boyd, Ben Lennon, James Tsitas and Christian Salem will all be fighting to impress recruiters as the Under 18s championships begin.