After the game was switched from Visy Park to Simonds Stadium earlier in the week, conditions couldn’t have been more perfect at Simonds Stadium with the sun shining and little to no wind to speak of for Round three of the 2014 NAB AFL National Championships.
Metro came into the game without Peter Wright , Angus Brayshaw and Corey Ellis while Country was without Patrick McCartin and Tom Lamb, as the latter was fortunate enough to escape suspension last week against South Australia, after a punch on Alex Neal-Bullen.
If you missed my first instalment of Vic Country vs Vic Metro, click here to see the scouting notes from Trevor Barker Oval in round one.
Vic Metro 2.3 4.4 3.6 4.13 (37)
Vic Country 0.2 5.5 9.7 12.9 (81)
Vic Metro: Allan, Cavka, Dear, Maynard
Vic Country: Wilson 4, Lonie 2, Butler 2, Nelson, Harnett, Schache, Richards
Vic Metro: Petracca, Laverde, Vickers-Willis, Maynard, Duggan, De Goey, Switkowski
Vic Country: Maishman, Howe, Lonie, Cordy, Nelson, Harnett, Capiron
Best on Ground:
3 – Jack Lonie
2 – Christian Petracca
1 – Joe Maishman
Vic Metro got the jump early on thanks to early goals to Damien Cavka and Harry Dear, with an 11-point buffer at the first break. Marc Pittonet was again damaging in the ruck, getting the better of Gach Nyuon, giving Christian Petracca and Sam Switkowski first use of the ball.
Country were going inside 50 haphazardly, and despite all their possession were struggling to find a way to impact the scoreboard. Even the reliable Jack Lonie sprayed one wide from 25 metres out directly in front after intercepting a stray Darcy Moore kick.
In the second quarter, Country had all the momentum, piling on five second-quarter goals thanks to Lonie, Ben Allan and Dan Butler but Brayden Maynard was able to give Metro a spark with a goal that won back the lead, before Josh Schache goaled moments from half time to give Country the lead going into half time.
Country came out all guns blazing in the third term, and goals to Lonie, Nelson and Wilson pushed the lead out to 31 points midway through the quarter, as the flood gates opened for Country. Alex Harnett got busy going inside 50, so too did shaggy-haired Rhys Mathieson who had eight clearances up to three quarter time.
The Vic Country side held Metro goalless for the second half, whilst kicking seven goals themselves. The icing on the cake for the day came via team-favourite James Richards who has been sidelined with a history of hamstring injuries, kicking a goal on the siren to record a 44-point win.
Christian Petracca made a huge impact today, and was arguably best on ground despite the Metro side going down by 44 points. Petracca played largely through the midfield with cameo appearances off halfback but it was his sheer strength in the contest that won plaudits. Petracca moves extremely well through the midfield, and importantly showed just how damaging he could be away from the goals. He was the leading possession-getter on ground, finishing with 31 disposals including six inside-50’s and showed exactly why some clubs rate him as a top-10 prospect. Given Petracca’s size and strength through his core, he’s rarely brought to ground and conversely rarely misses a tackle. He’s great for a second and third effort, which is an area that perhaps eluded him as a bottom-ager in 2013, but this year he looks a more well-rounded player, who has certainly worked hard on areas of his game to become a top-10 talent.
Sometimes I feel as though Brayden Maynard just tries to do a bit too much with the football. It’s clear at this stage he hasn’t got the work rate nor tank to really immerse himself as a bona fide midfielder, and he he looks largely content to play as a burst player, whether that is off half back or half forward. He still has a tendency to overcook basic 15 metre passes, and often looks as though he’s trying to kick the air out of the ball, but he has the immense talent to do the unthinkable that makes him so hard to read at this stage. On too many occasions today he missed targets, which looked due to fatigue, but on one occasion where he tried to kick a miracle check side from the boundary – which he almost pulled off – the disciplined thing to do would have been to put it at the top of the square. His standing in this year’s draft will really depend on how a club see’s him long term, whether they groom him as a midfielder or half forward, but personally speaking, his best football has been off half back this year where he looks a real weapon.
Coming into the game, Darcy Moore was thrown into defence and had the big job on curtailing Country forward, Hugh Goddard and did it with conviction – blanketing the Geelong Falcon forward, and allowing him to have zero impact, which was a tremendous effort. Moore got the better of Goddard early on, playing a physical brand of footy and was able to really get a step ahead of Goddard in the mental battle early. Moore was often found spoiling the ball or taking defensive marks but more often than not he was able to physically out-wrestle Goddard. For the first half, Moore went toe-to-toe in the games biggest matchup, but when thrown forward, Moore took some really nice grabs on the lead, but was unable to convert his opportunities which ultimately was the difference between him having a good game, and a great game. It wasn’t a pretty game from Moore, but in terms on his ability to nullify Hugh Goddard, it was a massive win from that point of view.
Starting to really push as a potential first-round selection, Sandringham’s Ed Vickers-Willis has floated heavily under the radar given the ‘big’ names in this year’s championships, but he’s caused on-lookers to take note given his consistency so far this championships. He’s a really nice size at 190 centimetres, and has truckloads of x-factor playing as a tall midfielder, and showed class on a wing today going inside 50 and floating around the packs. At the stoppages, his vision and awareness were well above average, whilst his quick decision making meant that he was able to hurt country on the counter-attack.
Smooth and rarely rattled, Northern Knight’s Sammy Switkowski gave a four-quarter performance today, and was so cool-headed in traffic, making pressure his friend in tight situations. It’s an attribute that isn’t a stranger to Switkowski, who relishes a contest but more importantly is smart enough to think his way through to pinpoint a kick under pressure, which was the case in the first quarter, where his calmness in traffic saw him let go of a 40-metre pass under pressure, which ultimately resulted in a goal to Harry Dear at the other end of the ground. Switkowski makes things happen, and more importantly he is a team player, as demonstrated when he went to Jack Lonie in the second half to play a close-checking role. Switkowski is tough in a contest, and for what he lacks in height, he makes up for in heart and elite decision-making.
Jayden Laverde – X-factor, x-factor, x-factor. Laverde looked his most dangerous today when he was played on a wing, but he just has a knack to pull off some amazing pieces of play when he’s floating across half forward. The Western Jets have thrown up a gem in Laverde, who at 189 centimetres has terrific composure and was clean on either side of his body today.
Jordan De Goey – I can’t for the life of me understand why people don’t know, nor rate Jordan De Goey, because he looks like a first round pick if I’ve ever seen one. Has an appetite for hard work, and has the class and polish to make things happen. Is versatile enough to play a range of positions, but has looked his best a goal-kicking midfielder than can genially put a stranglehold of the game. De Goey has super clean hands and a well-weighted kick, plus a terrific one-hand pickup from ground level.
The top-age Dandenong Stingray Jack Lonie continues to rise up the ranks, and is doing so on the big stage where he was arguably best afield today. Lonie, the cousin of the famous Lonie twins Nathan and Ryan, stands at just 174cms and has all the makings of an AFL footballer, but isn’t letting his size dictate what he can achieve on the football field. Lonie has developed from a small, opportunist fleet-footballed forward to a damaging midfielder who not only uses the ball especially well going inside 50, but when the opportunity presents in front of goal, he rarely wastes it. What I love about Lonie, is that he has beautiful kicking mechanics, whereby his kicking is elite and his ability to hit a well-weighted pass that dictates where he wants his teammate to lead to, is of AFL level standard. Even under pressure, Lonie makes great decisions with the ball and when off-balance on a few occasions today, he was still able to put enough finess on the ball to find a target. Lonie was particularly good going inside 50 but it’s desperation to corral, tackle and apply pressure that makes him really stand out. When he’s not in possession, he does some great things, but his commitment to the cause to throw himself at a contested ball, and come out with it that really has thrown his name up in lights
The Geelong Falcon had a stellar outing for Vic Country, and as an outside midfielder he was elite with the ball in hand, impacting the contest and really using his run-and-carry and elite ball use to his advantage. The cousin of Western Bulldogs Mitch Wallis was Vic Country’s leading possession getter, and his cleanness with the ball in hand has become an attribute that is dressed with maturity and conviction. Today, he found the ball with ease in space, and moved it forward swiftly, often running on to present again as an option. Not only does Maishman have the ability to accumulate that outside ball, but his skill set is also attractive, in particular his precise foot skills are efficient and damaging, and he has plenty of hurt factor to boot. Maishman also has a big tank, and shows the desire to run all day, and constantly spread to really stamp himself as a damaging outside midfielder.
A really strong inside midfielder, Nick Dixon was prolific at the stoppages today in the aggressive fashion that his Geelong Falcons teammates have come to know and admire. Dixon has an uncanny way knack of just finding the football, and he understands how to set up, and reads the ball well in a contested situation, demonstrating his vision and awareness and understanding where to put the ball in order to clear congestion. Of his 28 disposals, 17 were handballs and they’re often quick, and fed out to his damaging outside midfielders; which unlike other midfielders, he elects to dish the ball off rather than throwing the ball on his boot. Dixon is an extractor in every sense of the word, but he was also clean with his field kicking today, too. He really stamped himself across four quarters today, and one of the more underrated players in the Vic Country squad, with an equal-high six clearances.
A spectacular game today by the Geelong key defender, Zaine Cordy had the job on both Rory Sherridan-Ferrie and blanketed him, keeping him goalless and forcing Metro to throw him back in a bid to get him more involved in the game. Even then, Cordy turned his attention to Harry Dear, who only kicked the one goal against Daniel Caprion on the quarter-time siren, again taking the chocolates over the highly regarded big forward. Cordy was sensational in the air, spoiling from behind often, but was also classy enough to work his way in front and take several defensive marks in front of his opponent. Cordy read the ball terrifically in flight, whilst using it just as well coming out of Country’s back half on several occasions. He really had a lock-down job to do today, and would be pleased with his efforts. Already far more developed than his older brother Ayce, he had seven contested possessions and laid a number of fantastic tackles and despite being just 191cms, he plays much taller than he is.
With Patrick McCartin missing today, Dandenong’s Aaron Wilson proved to be much more than just a foil for Hugh Goddard, he managed to become the leading goal-kicker on field for the afernoon. The pleasing aspect of Wilson’s game today, was that his goals often came from his own hard work at ground level, rather than mark and goals. More than half of his disposals today were contested, and his six marks didn’t allow for Hugh Goddard to have any impact on the game whatsoever. The 188 centimetre, 79 kilogram third tall was elusive around the ball, and had enough zip to put distance between he and his direct opponent, whilst being creative enough to make something out of nothing. I really loved his aggressive attack on the ball, whilst his marking was of an impeccable standard.
Hugh Goddard had another quiet game at the National Championships this year, and it was a far cry from his game this time 12 months ago as a bottom aged player, bagging five goals from 11 marks whilst also breaking the collarbone of now-West Coast midfielder, Dom Sheed. But when trying to pin-point exactly what’s eating Goddard, he just looks lethargic and lazy in approach which is incredibly uncharacteristic given he is one of, if not the most diligent and professional footballers within the TAC Cup system. Today in particular, he struggled to have any type of impact, and in a side that demolished Vic Metro he often ran under the ball, dropped marks, or conversely couldn’t force his way to a contest. It said a lot about Darcy Moore who had a huge game on Goddard, wearing him like a glove, and in one particular instance, Goddard’s frustrations got the better of him as he gave a way a free kick for being overly zealous towards Moore. Metro made the move to put Moore up forward, and Goddard follow him down in a big to involve him in the game, but even then he struggled to go toe-to-toe with Moore’s speed and physicality, and was often caught behind, watching the ball sail over his head from a Darcy Moore shot on goal. Goddard has runs on the board, but he needs to find a way to rid himself of his poor output at the top level.
Dan Howe – overlooked in last year’s draft, Howe was prolific off half back gathering 23 disposals and offering class coming out of defence. 16 of his 23 disposals were kicks, whilst he took eight marks and had 10 contested possessions.
Caleb Marchbank – Didn’t have a high-possession game like his first against Metro, but again his class stood out, looking as if he were in a league of his own. His decision making under pressure was elite, as was his ability to offer polish and hurt-factor on either side of his body was of serious note. Looks a legitimate AFL player who could easily transition to the next level.
Daniel Caprion – was supposed to start forward, but was forced to play across halfback with Jacob Weitering missing due to illness. It worked, because Caprion was everywhere, finishing with 25 disposals, eight marks and 11 contested possessions.