ROUND Nine of the TAC Cup continued over the weekend and we had scouts watching five of the games. Read their scouting notes below:
Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
#2 Geordie Nagle – Arguably the Dragons’ best in the hard fought loss. Nagle played a good role in the back pocket and used the ball well. Is trusted with the kick outs and has been one of the Dragons’ best when they’ve been understrength with players at school football.
#22 Quintin Montanaro – Bounced back after a few disappointing games in a row carrying a toe injury. Clean ball user on either foot and can run hard all day. Handballing in close was better than previous weeks.
#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Took a while to get into the game mixing between forward and playing through the midfield. Finished strongly and was one of the Ranges best booting a vital goal early into the last quarter.
#18 Sam Hayes – Was a class above in the ruck. Won multiple hit outs and looked dangerous throughout the day. Had stints up forward and booted what turned out to be the match-winning goal with not long remaining in the contest.
Geelong Falcons vs. Gippsland Power (Peter Williams)
#7 Harry Benson – I was most impressed with his performance. Each time I’ve seen him live he seems to get a little bit more damaging. He’s worked on his inside game further as well as his defensive pressure which will undoubtedly show in his tackle statistics and key performance indicators at club level. Benson got his hands dirty on the weekend and played more inside shovelling out handballs, while still providing the run on the outside. The next key for him is working on his kicking under pressure because when having time and space, he is a damaging kick, but under pressure he tends to rush his disposal more than he needs to. One of, if not the best in my eyes for the Falcons.
#12 Bayley Cockerill – Seemed to get better as the game wore on. Played mostly behind the ball, he showed courage going back with the flight, and provided a running option at half-back. Was not afraid to keep the ball moving and kick long to contests. After a quieter start, he provided a real highlight later in the game with a snap from the pocket under pressure. His work rate and ability to just keep pushing throughout four quarters was good.
#17 Cooper Stephens – Played on Irving Mosquito at half-back and had his work cut out for him defensively. But despite Mosquito providing a few highlights, Stephens provided good run and drive out of the back half. He was often used as the designated kick out of defence, or the link-up handball between the back 50 and the midfield. Often combined with Harry Benson or Bayley Cockerill to get the ball moving.
#22 Sam Walsh – A player who just does not panic. Walsh showed plenty of composure in another impressive performance returning to the the Falcons’ line-up from injury. At times he does have that ability to make time stop and assess his options, almost doing a 360 degree spin to work out what to do next. He was often the player that would mark in the middle of the ground and switch play to either wing. Used in a chain of handballs or to penetrate inside forward 50, he got a tick from me for his game. Walsh is still a bottom-ager so I look forward to seeing him over the next 18 months.
#41 Tom McCartin – Aside from his strong marking, the one thing that stood out for me was his ground level work. His clean hands and ability to pick up a ball off the deck, particularly at full speed like he was in one instance in the first quarter was impressive. Despite playing key forward and not kicking a goal, I thought McCartin was one of the Falcons’ best using his work rate and ability to provide a contest to help his side. I think his work at ground level and ability to pick the ball off the deck with clean hands adds a point of difference to other key forwards in the draft.
#46 Adam Garner – Simply too big and too strong for his opponents. Played on a few different Power players, but the result was the same, his contested marking is a treat, sticking up the big gloves and if he didn’t mark it, he always brought it to ground. A straight line forward, for me the next step is his ground level work and decision making as at times he seemed to be a tad slow with disposing of the ball in play. With six goals and a plethora of big marks, Garner could be pleased with his performance in almost hauling the Falcons over the line.
#5 Xavier Duursma – The Power midfielder certainly caught the attention of opposition players with his booming kick and fierce tackling. Moved well across the ground and was one of Gippsland’s better players through the middle. Had a couple of shots on goal, kicking one and narrowly missing another. Has a forward presence with good marking ability and reading of the play. There was an instance in the first term where it looked like he might have panicked a little under pressure and rushed his disposal, but I did not see it again so it could have been a once-off. A solid overall game from Duursma.
#6 Aiden Quigley – The AFL Academy member has a presence around the ground with his tackling and repeat efforts. He showed good decision making throughout the four quarters, but his execution let him down at times. His tackling technique is one that many players could learn as he pins the arm away and forces the umpire to award him a free kick. Seemed to drift out of the game late, but he was far from alone as Geelong took control in the last quarter. Overall he showed good signs defensively, just needs to work on his kicking.
#7 Will Stephenson – This kid just lives for the big moments. Seemed to be quiet in the first half, but in the second half when Geelong was hitting back, he won a couple of cruical one-on-one contests, including one of the last centre clearances. Matched on Cassidy Parish who is arguably the best or one of the best TAC Cup clearance players in the game, Stephenson read the flight of the tap perfectly and kicked inside 50 to hit-up a target with the Falcons pushing hard. They were able to chew vital seconds off the clock and his influence late was a key reason why they held on. Stephenson has plenty of courage and is not afraid to match it with bigger players and go back with the flight.
#9 Irving Mosquito – Everyone has told me how exciting this kid is and after an indifferent start seeing him live at QEO earlier in the season, I was sold by his highlights against the Falcons. A huge vertical leap dangerous around goals, Mosquito kicked a fantastic goal off a step from a tight angle and almost had two with a dribble shot from the boundary just missing. Just oozes X-factor and has great decision making. My knock on him earlier in the season was his ability to rush his disposal at times not realising how much time and space he has, but he did not have that problem on the weekend. Was injured in the last quarter after a late knock following a kick, so hopefully his injury is not too serious.
#19 Callum Porter – A perfect game in terms of offensive and defensive impact from the tough, inside midfielder. Had four tackles within the first minute of play and would drift back to half-back and take the intercept mark, then somehow drift forward and kick four goals. He would have racked up 20 plus disposals, 10 plus tackles, eight to 10 marks and of course four goals, to really put a stap on the game. His ability to mark in a contest against bigger bodies was really telling and he just never took a backwards step. Stood up when Gippsland needed a hero and he provided the forward presence when the Power’s forwards were being well held. Clearly best on ground and a game he is unlikely to forget anytime soon.
#24 Sean Masterson – A quiet game, but stood up at crucial times similar to Stephenson. Nearly every involvement he had was important, whether it was a towering mark at centre half forward or a spoil and intercept at centre half back, Masterson really showed his versatility on the weekend. Played up both ends and while he might not have the strength of his opponents, he has a good leap and is a solid field kicker. He also took a huge mark late in the game and iced the clock, showing his maturity.
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets (Duncan Robertson)
#8 Toby Wooller – Far too strong and mobile for his Jets opponent. Played a solid game booting two goals in a game where he mostly played inside 50.
#24 Sam Harte – The bottom ager is a classy small midfielder who used his speed on multiple occasions to burst away from the stoppages.
#35 Jack Higgins – Was wasteful in front of goal and could’ve well kicked seven if he had’ve kicked straight. His quality is obvious and the Jets had no answer to his crafty ability through the midfield and up forward as a small forward. Finished with four goals.
#19 Cameron Rayner – One of the standouts for the Jets, in a solid game by his high standards. Powerful, classy and quick. His ‘speccy’ was play of the day and he booted three goals. The Jets suffered wherever he was moved from, winning the contested ball when he played in the midfield and looking dangerous inside 50 with his contested marking when he went forward. Was unable to settle into one particular role as was switching between forward and midfield constantly throughout the day.
#35 Blake Graham – Worked hard as a lead up target inside 50, making multiple leads but didn’t get much supply.
#37 Hamish Murphy -Tried hard all day in defence with multiple inside 50s for Oakleigh. His intercept work was good and he possesses a very strong left foot which helps him rebound the ball effectively.
#38 Buku Khamis – Played an excellent game as a midsized forward. Was classy and elusive when he had ball in hand. Is a strong body at the contests and has good hands to dispose of the ball.
Calder Cannons vs. Northern Knights (Billy Friend)
#1 Brad Bernacki – An inspiring best on ground performance from the Calder captain today, as he willed his team to their first home victory this season. Bernacki collected 39 touches in the midfield whilst applying constant pressure around the ball. The tough inside midfielder found pockets of space around the ground but his most influential work was done at the clearances.
#2 Dylan Landt – Accumulated in the midfield with expertise and kicked the game sealing goal with a left foot snap. He displayed his endurance and work rate throughout the contest. His football smarts are very good and he was often able to get to the right place at the right time.
#4 Mohammed Moustafa – Didn’t collect a lot of the ball, but his strength in the contest really stood out. Moustafa shook off tackles and was clean when the ball was in dispute.
#8 Lachlan Sholl – Played an outside role to perfection as he pushed back to take marks in the hole and found space to accumulate possessions all around the ground. Was efficient by foot.
#11 Jake Firebrace – Made up for a number of first half errors and fumbles with a solid second half performance. His sidestep and ferocious pressure was important for Calder heading inside forward fifty
#12 Noah Balta – Appeared to be a level above his opponents for most of the day. His athletic leap was a standout as he took three spectacular overhead marks both in defence and in the forward line. He kicked two crucial goals in the last quarter to ice the game after playing the first half at centre half back and was second best to Bernacki on the day.
#26 Mason Fletcher – Was commanding in defence and held the Northern key forwards at bay. Took some strong intercept marks and made critical spoils. Disposed of the ball well coming out of defensive 50.
#29 Jake Riccardi – Played well as the focal point of the Cannons’ attack for most of the day and finished with three goals. His hands were strong as he took contested marks, but also lead hard to present an option for teammates.
#33 Jack Evans – Played an almost identical role to Mason Fletcher. Evans was commanding in defence and held the Northern key forwards at bay. Took some strong intercept marks and made critical spoils. Disposed of the ball well coming out of defensive 50.
#39 Jesse Firebrace – Excited in the first quarter as Calder’s live wire in the forward half, kicking two early goals. His small frame didn’t stop him from imposing himself around contests and his speed & agility was a real weapon for the Cannons.
#5 Marcus Lentini – Was the delivery man in the back half and his run & dash was important. He rebounded the ball well and took a couple of intercept marks.
#7 Jack Petruccelle – A fairly quiet performance by his lofty standards, but he did show glimpses where he went forward and took two strong contested marks and kicked a goal. His impact in the midfield was subdued.
#10 Brody Bell – Played well as a loose player behind the stoppage and was clean with his disposal. Didn’t have a huge impact but had his moments.
#11 Ethan Penrith – His speed and agility was lethal deep forward and he kicked an outstanding goal beating three opponents in the third quarter. He tried hard all day and was one of Northern’s best with his tackling pressure and pinpoint field kicking.
#15 Anthony Fable – Probably kicked the goal of the day as he showed off his lightning speed and long kick. His tackling pressure was a level above most of his teammates and his service into the forward line was lethal.
#32 Patrick Howe – Kicked two goals in the first quarter and continued to be dangerous as a third tall as the game went on.
#34 Matthew Harman – Fought hard in the ruck without much help and won most of the hitouts today. His hitout to advantage rate was not high as the Cannons midfield got on top especially in the second half.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers (Billy Friend)
Greater Western Victoria Rebels:
#1 Dale Cox – Showed agility across half back and pressurised the Murray forwards constantly. He needs to improve his kicking but showed impressive signs.
#4 Aiden Domic – His hard running was a highlight and he kicked a superb midfield goal where he impacted the contest on the wing and ended up with the ball in the forward line seconds later. Was one of the leading ball winners on the ground.
#6 Keegan Gray – Found plenty of space on the wing and probably gained the most metres of all his teammates. Showed impressive endurance to cover the ground and collect possessions at ease.
#9 Flynn Appleby – Displayed overhead marking prowess. He was swung forward and took strong marks, kicking two goals.
#16 Joe Dodd – Kicked a goal and did a lot of good work up the ground.
#19 Jackson Taurau – Was outmuscled by Johnston on several occasions but fought back with impressive spoils in the second half. At 188cm was undersized against the Murray key forwards.
#22 Naish McRoberts – Stood out in the Rebels midfield as his clean hands resulted in many clearances. He kicked a booming goal from fifty metres out and was a shining light.
#24 Matty Lloyd – His disposals were classy and impactful as Lloyd once again caught the eye. He was best on ground in the first half but his impact was limited as the Rebels were overwhelmed in the second half. Kicked a nice goal too.
#40 Tylar Watts – Busted his guts all day and presented as a strong option up forward. He kicked three goals and won most of his one-on-one duals with the Bushranger defenders. When asked to pinch hit in the ruck he made some nice contributions shovelling the ball out by hand to outside runners.
#1 Daniel Johnston – Was a man mountain at full forward and got the better of Taurau and co. He kicked three goals in the second quarter and was too big and too strong. Johnston also provided an imposing physical presence when he pinch hit in the ruck through laying tackles and even clearing the ball on a couple of occasions.
#3 Benjamin Kelly – Monstered his direct opponent in the ruck and easily won the share of the hitouts. He showed off quick hands to dish the ball off to his midfielders but mainly impressed with his physicality.
#7 Zane Barzen – Showed off his impressive vertical leap by taking mark of the day in the first half. Brazen kicked three goals in a minute, (yes, you read that correctly) and shined today as one of Murray’s most dangerous forwards.
#8 Jacob Koschitzke – Read the fight of the ball excellently in defence, saving the day on a few occasions by repelling the Rebels’ entries forward.
#18 Hudson Garoni – Did not find much of the ball but did show potential taking two strong overhead marks.
#19 Will Donaghey – Showed off his flexibility today rotating between defence and midfield, and he accumulated the ball with ease.
#21 Doulton Langlands – Showed poise coming off half back and was one of Murray’s best. He took a number of intercept marks in the defensive 50 and was a partner in crime with Samuel Beasley.
#27 Harrison Jones – Started off slow in the first half but was monumental in the third and fourth quarters to orchestrate the second half smashing. Jones showed a combination of toughness and class around stoppages, and appeared to be a real leader for Murray. Kicked a great goal from 40m out too.
#42 Samuel Beasley – Was terrific rebounding the ball out of defence. Demanded the ball and didn’t let anyone down as he showed his proficiency by foot. Beasley also showed a gritty determination with one percenters and spoils in the backline.