Mid-year reviews: Western Jets, Sandringham Dragons, Oakleigh Chargers

WESTERN JETS

Ladder Position: 5th
Win-loss ratio: 6-6-1

Year so far:
The Western Jets have relied on an even spread from their team rather than a few guns to get results this year and as a result have been quite inconsistent. When the likes of James Sicily and Jake Greiser fail to fire, so do the Jets. However they have more often than not played well and as a result their team has got some solid wins on the board. Their two best performances for the year were a 63 point thrashing of the Murray Bushrangers in atrocious conditions in Wangaratta and their 105 point mauling of an under strength Eastern Ranges. The Jets midfield of Sicily, Greiser and David Iaccarino regularly gets first use of the footy from their raw, athletic ruckman Duom Dawam and the spine of the team is strong with the likes of Harley Walshe, Harrison King and Mark Orr all being solid contributors to the team each week. The depth of the team is what is most impressive. A whopping 25 players have been named in the best players for the team on at least one occasion. The Jets have shown that they will be a tough team to beat come finals time with no weak links to target.

Top prospect: James Sicily

Sicily is a rangy outside midfielder who can go forward to great effect. At 186cm, Sicily is a super mark for his size, often out marking the opposition full back when resting forward. He is a very neat set shot for goal and is composed around the big sticks, kicking 14 goals in nine matches. Sicily spreads well and finds space out on the wings but can also win his own ball. He is likely to play as a medium forward who pushes up the ground in the Angus Monfries mould when he gets to the next level and teams could certainly do worse than pick him up from the third round or later.

Dark horse: Jake Greiser

Greiser is a tough as nails inside midfielder who provides all the grunt from the Jets midfield. Greiser has an insatiable appetite for contested footy and uses his strong frame to his advantage, making him hard to move off the ball. The standout performance for Greiser this year was a 17 possession, 8 clearance and 14 tackle game for his state against South Australia at the Under 18s Championships. This type of performance is exactly what a team can expect from Greiser each week.

Prediction: 6th

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Ladder position: 9th

Win-loss ratio: 6-6-1

Year so far:
A season that started off so promisingly for the Dragons has soured significantly in recent weeks, with players out due to school football and state commitments. The Dragons were undefeated after three matches with wins over the Western Jets and Eastern Ranges and a draw with the Northern Knights. However things haven’t quite gone to plan lately as the team has won just two of their last eight games. When the Dragons have their full squad to choose from they are a very strong side. The likes of Christian Salem, Josh Kelly and Nathan Freeman are likely to go in the top 20 in the draft while players like Zach Merrett , Max Hayes, Eliot Le Grice and Alex Spencer are all handy additions who are big chances to get drafted. When they finish with representative and school football commitments Sandringham are likely to string some more wins together and push for a finals berth.

Top prospect: Josh Kelly

The silky smooth outside midfielder is one of a host of Dragons likely to be drafted but he is the pick of the bunch. Kelly possesses elite endurance, running a 9.48 3km time trial at the draft combine last year and has a super work rate enabling him to get to a lot of contests around the ground. He is a very good kick off both sides and sets up a lot of the Dragons goals through his precise kicking. Kelly was the winner of the Ben Mitchell Medal for his performances in the AIS/AFL academy which says a lot about his attitude and performance as a footballer. Kelly is a likely top ten selection and would be a great fit for any team.

Dark horse: Zach Merrett

The brother of Essendon midfielder Jackson is a damaging wing man who can also play as a small forward. Merrett is very much an outside player and uses his speed to break the lines. He is a good kick but it is by no means elite. He has good ball winning ability and spreads well to find space.The main knock on Merrett is that he tends to fade in and out of games, something which he will need to get out of his game to have a long and successful career. Merrett could develop into a good running wingman or half forward flanker after a couple of years in the AFL system.

Prediction: 7th.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Ladder position: 10th

Win-loss ratio: 4-8-1

Year so far:
Oakleigh were predicted to be one of the top teams in the TAC Cup at the start of the year and they have been extremely disappointing. On paper they have a great squad, containing the likes of Jack Billings, Jay Kennedy-Harris and Will Maginness plus many more draftable players. The season started off with a disappointing loss to the Eastern Ranges before two tight victories over Calder and Gippsland and a draw with the Western Jets had them back on track. But since then they have won just two matches and had several disappointing losses, including a 14 point defeat to the lowly Bendigo Pioneers and a 71 point thrashing at the hands of the North Ballarat Rebels.

Top prospect: Jack Billings

Billings was talked up as a certain top ten selection at the start of the year, mainly due to an exceptional performance as an bottom-ager in last year’s National Championships. Despite a solid season this year his draft stock appears to be sliding, and his range is anywhere from pick five to 15. He is a very good lead up marking forward for his size and tends to find space inside 50 easily. He is a good kick and very consistent, chipping in with one to two goals every week. But to go early in the draft he will need to prove that he has the versatility to play in the midfield at AFL level, which is something he is yet to do. On potential, Billings could be one of the best players to come out of the draft this year.

Dark horse: Will Maginness

The Chargers co-captain is having a great season this year and is getting little attention but don’t let that fool you. Maginness is a great kick and has good evasive ability to get past his man and deliver the ball down field. Maginness is more of an outside type, and tends to accumulate possessions but he can be quite damaging with his disposal and makes good decisions most of the time. He has very good vision and can be very creative by hand, setting up play out of congested areas with sweeping handballs to runners.

Prediction: 10th.

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