Mid-year reviews: Murray Bushrangers, Bendigo Pioneers, North Ballarat Rebels

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Ladder Position: 4th

Win-Loss ratio: 6-4

Year so far:
Once again the Murray Bushrangers are a middle of the road side finding themselves in the log jam of teams sitting mid table behind the front running Geelong Falcons and Eastern Ranges. After being knocked out of the finals in the first round last year, the Bushrangers turned over their squad heavily this year, adding many new faces to the team. Murray has struggled to gel together at times; which hasn’t been helped by Vic Country and NSW/ACT representatives coming in and out of the team each week for camps and matches; that has seen the Bushrangers become wildly inconsistent. A perfect example came when the Bushrangers defeated the Gippsland Power with a Dylan Van Berlo goal after the siren before being thumped by the Dandenong Stingrays the following week.

Top prospect: Jarman Impey
The Bushrangers have many draftable players, yet none of them rate as top chances in the draft. The Bushies have many players who are eligible to be selected by GWS through their Academy zone selections, but it is a Vic Country livewire who is the most likely to be selected in November. Jarman Impey is a livewire small forward who has had a fantastic start to the season. Impey has kicked eight goals from five games, and averages 17 disposals and three tackles per game in the TAC Cup while he has set the Championships alight with a 24-possession and three-goal performance against the Northern Territory.

Dark horse: Bryden Squire
Squire is the forgotten man in the Bushrangers midfield, which contains prospects like Gibbons and Holman, however he is exactly the sort of guy that recruiters will look at. Squire racks up possessions on a regular basis and is a super kick which makes him so dangerous. Squire is extremely quick and possesses a solid running game, linking up through the middle with other midfielders and often being the man trusted to kick the ball inside 50.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
The Bushrangers face a tough few weeks during the champs, facing Bendigo, Oakleigh and Dandenong, while missing most of their best players due to representative duties. I can’t see them winning too many of those games which will put them behind the eight ball and battling to make finals.

Ladder prediction: 5th

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS

Ladder position: 11th

Win-Loss ratio: 3-7

Season so far:
Bendigo have been quite disappointing this season and have only managed to scrape together two victories so far. Despite having a quality midfield, containing the likes of Sam Heavyside, Jacob Chisari and Harry O’Meara, the Pioneers have struggled to kick a score due to a lack of quality in their forward line with five players leading their goal kicking on just six goals.

Top prospect: Isaiah Miller
Miller is a running defender who plays the quarterback role for the Pioneers. Miller loves to take the game on and it is his run from defence that sets up most of Bendigo’s forward thrusts. The only thing holding back Miller from being a top 20 pick is his kicking, which often lacks penetration.

Dark horse: Jacob Chisari
Despite being one of the best midfielders in the league statistically, Chisari’s performances this year have largely been overlooked by most people including the Vic Country selectors. Chisari is an inside midfielder who uses his acceleration and strong body to break clear of contests and get the ball forward. Chisari could be a good AFL prospect if given a chance.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
The Pioneers will continue to struggle unless they can uncover a target inside the forward 50. Despite staying with most teams, their inability to put a score on the board is continually costing them games and will continue to do so. While their midfield is filled with strong bodied talent, they will need someone to stand up if they are to play finals.

Ladder prediction: 11th

 

NORTH BALLARAT REBELS

Ladder position: 13th

Win-Loss ratio: 2-8

Season so far:
The Rebels have been the worst team in the competition this year, providing a percentage boost to most other teams. Their position has not been helped by the injury to their best player Matt Crouch, who is set to return from a broken hand in the coming weeks. The Rebels have been unable to put the score on the board consistently, with many of their scores being in the 30 to 40-point region which is not enough to win games of football.

Top prospect: Matt Crouch
The brother of Adelaide’s Brad Crouch, is rated by some to be a top ten selection despite playing just two matches for the Rebels this year due to injury. Crouch is a strong inside midfielder and is probably the best clearance winner in the draft this year. He is a strong tackler and sets up the play with his creative hand skills, although his kicking needs work.

Dark horse: Dallas Willsmore
Willsmore is an undersized key forward who has shown an ability to kick goals. Willsmore could be a useful second or third tall for an AFL team, using his aerial ability to create a contest and either bring the ball to ground or clunk the mark. In a draft which is rather low on dominating key forwards, after Boyd of course, you could do worse than take Willsmore.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
The Rebels will continue to struggle because they just do not have the talent that other teams possess. However the addition of Matt Crouch will definitely help the team as he is the clearance player they have been missing. The Rebels will be brimming with confidence after their huge win over Oakleigh and will look to continue their form against Gippsland and Geelong teams who will be missing players to the Championships.

Ladder prediction: 12th

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