ROUND Thirteen of the TAC Cup was completed over the weekend, with teams at full strength after Vic Metro and Vic Country players returned from Under 18 Championships commitments. We had scouts watching four of the games – read their notes below.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Northern Knights (Brandon Hutchinson)
#9 Luke Davies-Uniacke – Coming through with two goals for the game, Davies-Uniacke ended the game being one of the best on ground. His high work ethic and movement around the ground showed spectators how smart and calculating of a midfielder he really is. He is ahead of the curb defensively and offensively. His ability to read the play made for clever midfield movement and he showed no issue with putting himself on the line for his team. An all-rounder and a playmaker, who won the contested ball.
#18 Mitch Riordan – Another star for the weekend, Riordan showed off a consistent and strong work ethic. Where many others players had many ups and downs throughout the match, this man came out the gate galloping and kept up his efforts until the closing siren. A brilliant midfielder who knows how to move throughout the ground and open up pathways for his teammates, and that’s exactly what Riordan demonstrated and why he remained relevant during the whole game. While the midfielder displayed more stopping and starting than a rugby game, the bottom-ager managed to break the cycle and deliver that ball to his forwards or by snatching it from his opposition.
#25 Oscar Clavarino – A strong backline can make all the difference in a football match, so it should come at no surprise that Clavarino played a major part in his team’s victory. Possibly taking more marks than inside the Knight’s forward line than the Knights forwards combined. Clavarino read the play well and his most impressive feat was the initiation of the quick run from the backline to their forward line which ended in a goal.
#50 Riley D’Arcy – It should be no surprise to anyone that D’Arcy came through as one of the best Stingrays on the weekend. This young man’s talents in the forward line has for countless weeks put his team yards ahead of their opposition. While he seemed to be up against a tougher opponent than he may have been used to, D’Arcy fought through the challenge, showing both sides why he is a danger when the ball is in the air. His contested marking is unparalleled, muscling out anyone who tries to snatch his football away. This young man also showed his teammates that what makes a good forward by hitting them up to increase the chances at goal. A nice four goal game, along with his assistive efforts help guide his team to victory and his around the body snap from 50 out was nothing but a sight to behold.
#6 Patrick Naish – Naish played a solid game booting two goals and setting up a few others. He spent more time up forward than he has in the past few weeks and his potential did shine through. He did miss a few of his targets but he showed some good signs that should help him spring into a great second half of the season.
#30 Oliver Wilson – A strong defensive player, Wilson smashed through his competitors, laying plenty of tackles and putting on pressure. Wilson set himself apart from the rest of his game, putting in the extra effort and doing the team thing . Doing it all, he even ended the game with a goal under his belt and assisted in setting up a few others. Wilson worked well with the pressure, using it to fuel himself and step up for his team.
#39 Patrik Della Rocca – A tough match for the Dandenong defence, Della Rocca put up a firm fight against the ferocious Stingrays. Kicking two goals, and battling hard in the contest, this kid ended as one of the better players for the day. The game had plenty of interceptions, many players failing to find their targets, but often than not Della Rocca managed to find his target and pluck the ball right out of the air. On top of all that he took a wobbly but beautiful mark toward the end of game stunning spectators.
Sandringham Dragons vs. Bendigo Pioneers (Matt Balmer)
#6 Charlie Constable – Dominated the contest and was the star in the opening 10 minutes of the game. He won the ball on the inside and dished it off with ease to teammates to clear it from the contest. He also pushed forward and booted three goals and did his top five chances no harm. Was on track at quarter time for 40 disposals, but the Pioneers were able to do a reasonable job shutting him down.
#8 Will Walker – Found a lot of the ball but often turned it over by foot or just thumped it long. Walker opted to bang the ball long and high rather than slowing down and looking for the shorter targets. He did manage to bring the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions helping the Dragons hit the scoreboard.
#9 Andrew Brayshaw – Won the ball in the midfield and does a lot right, getting to the right positions and using it well off his right foot. He covers the ground well and is willing to defend, tackling hard throughout the game. His contested work is very good and perhaps underrated by some.
#29 Joel Amartey – Leaped well around the ground in the ruck and just when recruiters were beginning to pack their bags he clunked a fantastic contested mark and slotted the goal from 35m out in the last quarter. The raw ruckman is getting better with each game he plays.
#74 Nathan Murphy – Was the Dragons’ best player, moving up forward after playing his last two games in defence. His clean pick up from ground level was exceptionally and he marked well overhead, showing off a decent leap. He booted three goals, including a smart snap roving the pack in the first quarter. He snapped his third goal around the corner but it would’ve been touched if not for poor defending from the Pioneers.
#2 Kane Farrell – Spent times at both end of the ground but lifted his output when he went into the attacking half of the ground. Used it well on his left foot hitting all his targets. Had a very good passage on the wing in front of recruiters showing off his speed and agility getting around a handful of Dragons opponents with ease.
#7 Matthew Harvey – Linked up well in the midfield finding the ball around the ground. Booted a goal for the Pioneers and was one of their biggest ball winners.
#20 Angus Schumacher – The left footer used it well by foot and was able to find the ball through the midfield. His tackling was very good and he was willing to get involved in the contest. Possesses quick hands and was able to get the ball out to his teammates effectively.
#31 Caleb Sheehan – Didn’t win a lot of the ball but showed some good signs across half forward and in the midfield. Booted a goal and used the ball effectively by hand in close. Positioning at the stoppages was pretty good and he was able to win multiple clearances.
#59 Angus Byrne – The over-ager did some good things inside 50 booting two goals and provided some chop out in the ruck. Had a chance to convert an easy goal in the third term – but missed the chance. Marked well at ground level and the left footer was solid throughout the contest.
GWV Rebels vs. Oakleigh Chargers (Matt Balmer)
#4 Aiden Domic – Found the ball floating across half back and through the midfield. Did have the odd bomb out of a stoppage, but his kicking was pretty neat on his right foot. Moves well and hit a nice spear pass inside 50 early in the game. Was smart enough to boot the ball long 50+ metres with the breeze and had a goal assist in the final quarter.
#9 Flynn Appleby – I thought Appleby was the Rebels’ best playing in defence. Appleby marked exceptionally well and used his good vision to spot a player with ease when he had ball in hand. He fought hard all day often matched up on the taller Toby Wooller and rebounded the ball well. Laid a superb tackle on Scala in the final quarter earning him a free kick.
#10 Jordan Johnston – Led well inside 50 and showed off his eye catching leap on a few occasions – including multiple contested grabs. He rushed a few of his kicks and it wasn’t a great day for him efficiency wise. When he picked the ball up off the ground he was able to dish it off to a teammate using quick hands on a few occasions.
#13 Thomas Berry – The bottom-ager was impressive laying multiple crunching tackles – including one on Riley Jones right on the three quarter time siren. He also nearly took a ‘screamer’ in the second term flying high for a mark. He got to the right spots to win the footy on the inside and possesses very good agile. Booted a simple goal in the final quarter claiming an intercept mark 15 metres out from goal.
#23 Lloyd Meek – Won the hitouts with ease in the ruck using his stronger frame which allowed him to out muscle Ned Reeves on most occasions. Had his quad strapped but it didn’t appear to effect him covering the ground well. Took a good grab in the last quarter but was one of a number of players whose kicking efficiency was affected by the wind.
#4 Ned Reeves – Was able to get up and over his Rebels opponents in the ruck at the ball ups – but was out muscled by Meek when they went head-to-head. Had a great centre clearance in the second quarter and was a damaging target inside 50 in the season half, with his extra height making him an impossible task for the smaller Rebels’ key position players. He marked and goaled twice in the third term.
#7 Charlie Thompson – Didn’t find as much of the ball early but worked his way into the contest, using his clean quick hands in close at the stoppages. Had a few shots on goal that were affected by the wind (resulting in 2.3 on the scoreboard). He was willing to go in and get the ball, but did rush a few kicks around the ground. Snagged a nice snap goal in the third term.
#8 Toby Wooller – Started the game well with a nice lead up mark in the opening quarter but it was just an ok game from Wooller. He played up forward as well as spending time at the stoppages, and had an outstanding centre clearance in the second quarter. The Chargers skipper reads the ball well at the stoppages and his defensive efforts were decent.
#14 Ed Richards – Has been super for Carey Grammar this season and continued his form into the game playing in defence. He was tasked with the kick outs and was able to find a free target with most of his kicks on his left foot. His hands in traffic are very good and he was willing to show off his elite speed and agility, taking on the Rebels players at times. Controlled the play and set the Chargers up well going forward.
#35 Jack Higgins – A quiet game by Higgins’ high standard. He still found 30 disposals, but it wasn’t as impactful as some of his other games this season. He worked his way into the game in the second half with 14 disposals alone in the third term, after earlier booting a trademark snap around the corner (Stevie J style) in the first quarter. He gave away a few innocuous free kicks throughout the day, but his quick hands were on show and the trait is one of the skills that seperate him from others at the stoppages. Kicked goal of the day on his left foot (non-preferred) deep in the pocket. Was willing to get in and tackle hard around the ground and his clearance work was very good.
Geelong Falcons vs. Western Jets (Peter Williams)
#1 Lachlan Noble – He was influential after quarter time, particularly in the third quarter. Booted two goals early in that quarter to help the Falcons hit the front and they never looked back from there. Noble finished the game with four majors and read the ball drop well, combining with his good goal sense to play a perfect crumbing forward’s game on a day where smalls were prominent.
#4 Gryan Miers – One of the best on ground for sure. Booted five goals and just looked dangerous every time he went near it. Strong in the air and at ground level, Miers particularly stands out with his ability to protect the ball drop and use his body well against his opponent to take the grab. He could have finished with about eight by the end of the day if he had not missed a few through the middle stages, but showed his class with a banana from the boundary line to go with a number of set shot and snaps.
#5 Jack Henderson – A reliable defender who did not do too much wrong in the backline. Along with Cooper Stephens, Henderson was tasked with switching the ball and trying to transition it out of defence. He hit his targets more often than not and seemed a composed user with ball in hand.
#7 Harry Benson – While he might not have accumulated the numbers he has in past weeks, he showed his super quick hands at the stoppages and is one of the many Falcons runners who are used in transition to move the ball cleanly from half-back to half-forward. He played on the ball and spent time on Lachie Fogarty, Benson laid a number of strong tackles on opponents.
#8 Ned McHenry – An underrated member of the Falcons midfield in my opinion. A lot is spoken about many of the others, but the bottom-ager goes about his business quietly achieving. A good user of the ball and particularly effective forward of centre, McHenry is most used as part of the chain of possessions moving in transition.
#16 David Handley – Kicked the first goal for the Falcons and the first goal of the second half, but otherwise was quiet. Like a traditional small forward, he pops up for an effective handball or pounces on an opportunity. The highlight was a bouncing ball in the square which saw Handley beat his opponent and volley it home to keep the Falcons’ momentum going after the half-time break.
#19 Matthew Ling – The speedy midfielder has that touch of class and it is no wonder there are plenty rating him in the first round. Does not win as much of it as some of his teammates, but he certainly knows how to do damage by foot. In saying that, he had a couple of uncharacteristic errors going inside 50 on the weekend and he berated himself for it, indicating the high standard he expects from himself. Ling’s top efforts were highlighted in a couple of footraces along the boundary line, beating his opponent and quickly disposing of the ball quickly by hand.
#22 Sam Walsh – Not named among the best for the Falcons which surprised me a little as I thought his run and carry was really good. Sometimes at full speed he would miss his his targets, but when time was on his side he weighs his kicks perfectly. One of a number of Falcons who impressed moving from half-back and through the midfield.
#38 James Worpel – Played more outside as he has recently, and won plenty of the ball on the wing and half-forward. Had a number of kicks going inside 50 but just needs to work on his disposal further. On Sunday his biggest problem just seemed to be that his execution let him down with his decision making still good, such as a few kicks dropping short of their intended targets. Laid quite a number of tackles, but also gave away a few free kicks. Worpel found space really well and covers the ground with ease.
#39 Connor Idun – Played on Cam Rayner when he was forward and I would have given the points to Idun. Did not always go with him in the midfield, but wore him like a glove in the defensive 50. While he does not win a heap of it, his defensive pressure and work rate is very good. Idun has good vision and can often handball to a teammate on the outside of a contest when he is in a congested situation.
#42 Cassidy Parish – I liked his game more than previous ones because he was opting to kick long rather than using a sideways handball. His ability in close is undoubtedly up there with the best, but it is his outside game, particularly his kicking which has brought the most critics. On the weekend I thought he kicked a lot better than previously. If he did not hit the target, he was clearing 40m passes and using long kicks to just get the ball deep inside 50. For me he played a clever game in the windy conditions – going for meterage and getting deep forward entries.
#46 Blake Schlensog – I was quite impressed with Schlensog’s movement around the ground. He seemed to be in sync with his midfielders when he was in a stoppage or contest and if he did not take the grab he would bring it front and centre. Schlensog had good vision for a taller player and managed to get his arms free in tackles.
#12 Connor Thar – Really like Thar as a prospect because he rarely panics under pressure. He wins the ball and thinks his way through his disposal of it, showing good decision making and composure. Likewise his disposal by foot under pressure was also impressive and often found himself kicking to a target inside 50. As a bottom-age prospect, he will no doubt look to add size to his frame to work on the defensive attributes further, but overall he showed some promising signs.
#14 Lachlan Fogarty – A classy user when in possession, it was great to see Fogarty back at TAC Cup level with school football having the bye and his Vic Metro commitments over. Fogarty was really busy early and popped in from time to time but still needs to build his endurance further, having had a setback with a groin injury recently. When in space he uses it really well and puts it to the advantage of his teammates, but sometimes when in tight he can throw it on the boot. One instance was at a stoppage where he read the tap won the football and threw it on the boot. His opponent James Worpel had moved towards the contest and Fogarty had the open space to run inside 50 had he held it for a few more seconds to look. But given the pressure within the game he certainly could be forgiven for that, and I expect he will be a first round pick in this year’s draft with his skill set. The Jets’ best on the weekend.
#19 Cameron Rayner – Plenty of eyes would have been on the powerfully built forward. He looked strong early, fending off a few opponents to lead to a goal assist to Tristan Xerri, but over the four quarters was well contained. His opponents wore him like a glove such was their awareness of what he was capable of, and every contest he went to, he always had company by his side. A few glimpses, but overall a quieter game from the potential number one pick.
#20 Josh Mould – A risk-taking defender who I liked offensively. Penetrated past the defensive 50m arc kicking out on a number of occassions and would more often than not hit a target. Apart from a blue in the last quarter which led to a goal after attempting to kick short, Mould was quite good coming out of the back half. In the second quarter he ran about 40m to break through the Falcons zone. Does need to work on his defensive attributes as he was beaten one-on-one against Gryan Miers.
#25 Jack Noonan – Playing forward he did his job booting three goals. In the third term when the Jets looked down and out facing an eight-goal deficit coming up to half-time, Noonan had two set shots from difficult angles inside 50 and nailed them both. With the windy conditions, his set shot routine was quite good and he got a tick from me.
#37 Hamish Murphy – A typical lockdown defender who, despite not winning much of the ball, impressed me quite a bit. Early on he took a couple of intercept marks and really shut down the strong Adam Garner. Garner finished the game with one goal and could have had two, beating Murphy on the lead, but one-on-one, Murphy held his own through pure positioning and ability to read the ball in flight.
#38 Buku Khamis – Another Jets’ defender whose game I thought was quite impressive. Did not win much of it, but his role in shutting down the dangerous Tom McCartin could not be understated. He only had seven disposals, but kept McCartin goalless which was no easy feat. Khamis was good one-on-one and had a good game sense. For mine, his timing needs some work because he sometimes jumped too early to spoil.
#44 Tristan Xerri – The key forward/ruck is a hard one to read. I really like his work as a key forward, but there is still development needed around the ground. I think his leading patterns and ability to mark at the highest point, as well as a decent vertical leap make him a really solid prospect as a forward. The next step for me is that I find that he is a bit raw and needs to work further on his game sense. One instance was where the ball was about to roll out and Xerri was in hot pursuit with an opponent right behind him. Rather than let it roll out and reset, he dragged the ball back in but chose to take possession where he was immediately tackled and naturally called for holding the ball. I think he has plenty of development left in him and his field kicking seemed to be quite good, it is just his game sense which needed improvement in my opinion.