Under 18s Power Rankings July 19th: Running defenders

The season is at the midway point and we are starting to get an idea about who is likely to be drafted this year. We have seen a lot of good performances this year, although it can be hard to tell a good display of talent from the rest.

It is very subjective and difficult to compare a big five-goal game from Tom Boyd, to a 30-possession game from Lewis Taylor, to a 15-possession game from Dom Sheed in the WAFL seniors. The idea of these rankings is to put all individual games on a scale to make it easier to compare the potential draftees.

In a similar way to Dream Team and SuperCoach scores, a player’s statistics from each match are analysed and the players gain a point score due to a formula devised by myself. Points are gained for qualities that recruiters look for in a player; for example contested marking, effective kicking and tackles gain higher points than ineffective possessions, so players that burn the ball are negatively affected. Senior matches and reserve grade matches are weighted to compensate for the higher standard of football, so players like Dom Sheed and Trent Dumont are not punished for having a weaker statistical output in a more difficult competition.

Over the course of the season the scores have been compiled and an average score for each player is noted, sorted in order of average. Please note that some players will have inflated averages due to playing less games (school football and Under 18 Championships games are not included at the moment as the AFL have not released the full set of statistics for them).

Mid season rankings:

1. Riley Knight (Woodville-West Torrens)- Avg 134
2. Matt Crouch (North Ballarat Rebels)- Avg 126
3. Tom Boyd (Eastern Ranges)- Avg 123.6
4. James Tsitas (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 121.8
5. Billy Hartung (Dandenong Stingrays)- Avg 120.6
6. Josh Kelly (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 118.7
7. Lewis Taylor (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 118.6
8. James Battersby (Sturt)- Avg 116.9
9. Tom Langdon (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 115.3
10. Campbell Combe (North Adelaide)- Avg 115
11. George Hewett (North Adelaide)- Avg 114.8
12. Marcus Bontempelli (Northern Knights)- Avg 114
13. Mitch Harvey (North Adelaide)- Avg 109
14. Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers)- Avg 108
15. Nick Favretto (West Adelaide)- Avg 107.5
16. Christian Salem (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 106.3
17. James Sicily (Western Jets)- Avg 106.2
18. Ben Cavarra (Eastern Ranges)- Avg 106.1
19. Dayle Garlett (Swan Districts)- Avg 105.8
20. Ben Sokol (South Fremantle)- Avg 105.5
21. Eli Templeton (Burnie)- Avg 105
22. Blake Acres (West Perth)- Avg 104.7
23. Michael Gibbons (Murray Bushrangers)- Avg 104.5
24. Lachlan Cassidy (North Ballarat Rebels)- Avg 104.4
25. Sam Heavyside (Bendigo Pioneers)- Avg 104
26. Josh Scott (Gippsland Power)- Avg 103.7
27. David Iaccarino (Western Jets)- Avg 103.5
28. Peter Bampton (Norwood)- Avg 102.7*
29. Jacob Chisari (Bendigo Pioneers)- Avg 102.6
30. Kade Kolodjashnij (Launceston)- Avg 102
31. Dominic Sheed (Subiaco)- Avg 101.8
32. Will Maginness (Oakleigh Chargers)- Avg 101.5
33. Alexander Carr (Gippsland Power)- Avg 101.3
34. Luke McDonald (Werribee)- Avg 100.5
35. Darcy Lang (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 100.5
36. Bryden Squire (Murray Bushrangers)- Avg 100
37. Zach Merrett (Sandringham Dragons)- Avg 98.6
38. Louis Herbert (North Ballarat Rebels)- Avg 97.5
39. Christian Petracca (Eastern Ranges)- Avg 97.4*
40. Merryck Buchanan (Geelong Falcons)- Avg 94.3
41. Aiden Franetic (Oakleigh Chargers)- Avg 94
42. Matthew Haynes (Northern Knights)- Avg 93.4
43. Jay Kennedy-Harris (Oakleigh Chargers)- Avg 92.4
44. Toby Nankervis (North Launceston)- Avg 91
45. Zac Webster (Glenorchy)- Avg 91
46. Isaac Conway (Aspley)- Avg 91
47. Brady Grey (Burnie)- Avg 91
48. Nick Robertson ( West Perth)- Avg 90.6
49. Matthew Merlo (Calder Cannons)- Avg 90.1
50. Jarrad Jansen (East Fremantle)- Avg 90.1

This week we look at an interesting position in the draft; the running defender. Each year there are a number of defenders that have great stats because they play unopposed in the back line, getting easy kicks all day. This is a strategy that does not translate to AFL football. But this year there are a number of quality flankers who are more than capable midfielders, but also take care of a man and provide the run from half-back that sparks most attacks.

1. James Battersby- 177cm, 78g, Sturt
Battersby is a strong-bodied back flanker who has the versatility and ball winning ability to play in the midfield. He has played senior footy in the midfield and has held his own, even racking up 31 disposals last weekend. Despite his strong performances in the midfield, Battersby has shown a lot of promise as a backman, a position he played superbly in at the Champs. Battersby can not only win the ball and rebound from his own defensive 50 but can blanket his man and stop him from getting a touch.

2. Kade Kolodjashnij- 188cm, 77kg, Launceston.
Kolodjashnij is a tall, athletic player who can play midfield but is more likely to settle as a back flanker, playing the quarterback role and setting up the play with his precise kicking. He is quite pacy and a good kick so he can break the lines off half-back or pick off the short option. Defensively he is below average but his attacking skills make up for that, allowing him to rack up possessions both off half-back and through the midfield.

3. Luke McDonald- 188cm, 80kg, Werribee
McDonald is another who is equally adept at playing in the midfield or off half-back. His elite kicking allows him to break open the play with his 60-metre kicks clearing the ball out of the dangerous area. He would play the “quarterback” role to a high standard due to his kicking ability, since he is arguably the best kick in the draft, but he can also defend well and does the little things like blocks spoils to break up play.

4. Matt Scharenberg- 190cm, 89kg, Glenelg
You could make an argument that Scharenberg is more of a key position player or third tall but he has great potential as a flanker or even as a midfielder. The best thing about Scharenberg is he is more worried about defending rather than chasing easy kicks in the backline. Because of his size he can match up on almost anyone depending on the situation. His kicking is neat enough and there are certainly no doubts on his ball winning ability, as he is regularly in the top possession winners for his club Glenelg, despite playing behind the ball.

5. Jake Sharp- 187cm, 76kg, Murray Bushrangers
Sharp is not one of the better defenders in the draft this year, however he has shown an ability to get a lot of the footy. Sharp often plays loose in defence and provides a lot of run for the Bushies but struggles with consistency issues and often goes missing, especially when he is forced to play on a man. As a man on man defender, you will find better than Sharp but in terms of finding the ball and delivering it up the field you will find few better than Sharp.

6. Issiah Miller- 187cm, 82kg, Bendigo Pioneers
Miller is another of the attacking defenders that this draft is full of. Miller is an exciting line breaker who possesses a great kick. Miller loves to take the game on and run down the wings but also gets back to cover his man. Defensively he is not fantastic but he is improving this aspect of his game.

7. Darcy Byrne-Jones- 180cm, 69kg, Oakleigh Chargers
Byrne-Jones is a defender first and a rebounder second. He is strong overhead and can shut down his opponent, both talls and smalls. He obviously won’t play on any big key forwards but could easily battle with a third tall since he plays much taller than his 180cm height suggests. He is decent offensively and provides some rebound but is more worried about shutting down his man which is something recruiters will like.

8. Jake Pitt-192cm, 75kg, Glenelg
Pitt is a versatile defender who can play tall or small, but probably settles as a third tall who provides some run off the back line. He played half back for South Australia in the Champs, and despite being a regular in the forward line for Glenelg, he excelled at the position. He zoned to space and used his pace and agility to break the lines. As he is relatively new to the position there is plenty of scope for improvement with Pitt.

9. Sean Lemmens- 184cm, 76kg, Port Adelaide
Lemmens is a 19 year old who played for South Australia as an over-ager this year. He is a bit of a late bloomer, after he didn’t make the Under 18 squad last year, but has been super for Port Adelaide and South Australia since moving to the backline. He cuts off a lot of forward entries and makes good decisions with the ball in hand. Lemmens is one to look out for late in the draft, despite the lack of talk about him.

10. Zak Jones- 181cm, 74kg, Dandenong Stingrays
The Vic Country MVP is a solid defender, providing plenty of run from defence but also cuts off a lot of opposition attacks. Jones is composed with the ball in hand and makes good decisions with the footy but his kicking is by no means excellent and he will not be the primary ball handler of half back. In saying that, he is more than capable of kick starting some attacking moves and is more than happy to play a shut down role on his man for the benefit of the team.

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