THE best players from the 2018 AFL Draft pool combined to run out 43-point winners over North Melbourne’s VFL team on Saturday.
The AFL Academy game was played as a curtain raiser to the AFL clash between Melbourne and North Melbourne at the MCG.
Read Matt Balmer, Dan Batten and Ed Pascoe’s scouting notes below.
#1 Ian Hill – Hill showed a lot of his trademark run and dash, despite not getting a huge amount of touches he was damaging whenever he got his hands on the ball. Hill kicked two nice goals, one a classy finish on the run and the other a nice set shot goal and both goals came in the 2nd quarter. Hill was composed and classy with ball in hand but he also laid some nice tackles.
#2 Ned McHenry – McHenry took some time to get into the game, he started forward but did most of his better work in the midfield where he showed good tackling pressure and attack on the ball. McHenry’s clean and quick hands were his standout trait for the day, he rarely fumbled and often shot a good quick handball out to his teammates.
#3 Chayce Jones – Jones played a great game on the wing and flanks where he showed his toughness and skill. Despite his height he took some impressive overhead marks and against much taller opponents, he laid some of the best tackles of the game and his pressure around the ground was important. Jones managed to make an impact whenever he was around the ball whether that was a tackle, spoil, mark or quick kick to advantage.
#5 Sam Walsh – The AFL Academy captain was the standout midfielder of the game finishing with 22 classy disposals and a goal. Walsh pushed forward early and showed no matter where he is on the ground, he will find a way to get his hands on the ball. His kicking especially inside 50 was first class and his run & composure on the outside was also important. Walsh looked the most confident with ball in hand out of the academy players.
#7 Rhylee West – West was a bulldozer all day for the academy in the midfield, he started strong with nine disposals in the 1st quarter and just willed himself in every contest. West was physical all day laying nine tackles and getting under the skin of his senior opponents, in the 2nd quarter he laid an impressive fend off that Dustin Martin would be proud of. His attack on the ball and good hands at the stoppages once again reminded us of his famous father. Finished the day with 16 disposals.
#8 Connor Rozee – The highly touted South Australian midfielder played most of the game as a forward where he showed off his clean hands and impressive speed & agility. Rozee’s only goal came from a nice set shot finish but what impressed most from his time up forward was his pressure on the ball carrier and his constant leading up the ground to provide a good lead.
#9 Jason Carter – Carter played in defence all day and often as a deep defender which took away a lot of what makes him such a talented player with his run & carry but he did manage to use his speed to good advantage down back coming from nowhere to make some good spoils. Carter did all the defensive things well, one chase down tackle in the last quarter was impressive and he even stood up to take a nice mark under pressure late in the game.
#10 Bailey Scott – Scott played mostly on the wing linking up with some nice passages of play early in the game. His hands were clean and he had a lot of quick handballs that hit their mark under pressure. Scott missed a shot at goal in the 2nd quarter and seemed to be managed for most of the 2nd half despite starting well.
#11 Luke Valente – Valente spent most of his time in the midfield where he showed his clean hands at the stoppages especially later in the game. Valente started slow and missed a few targets by foot but as the game went on he grew in confidence and he really started to have an impact. He missed two shots at goal, so could have had a very good day but despite the missed opportunities by foot, his hands at the stoppages lead to many of the Academies goals in the 2nd half.
#12 Jye Caldwell – Got in on the action early winning the footy in tight but was fairly quiet thereon and didn’t return after being crunched in a tackle during the first half of the contest. **
#13 Michael Mummery – Was slow to get into it but showed some good signs in the fourth quarter, hitting the scoreboard with two goals. The Northern Territory livewire took a deft pluck overhead and slotted the set shot from 50m, converting his second major minutes later.
#15 Jack Bytel – Bytel was busy early but faded out until the third quarter, where his contested ball winning ability came to the fore. The Calder Cannons skipper was just as effective defensively, chasing hard and laying tackles. Won a centre clearance in the third quarter and followed up well to receive the handball back, but his flying shot on the run didn’t trouble the scorers.
#16 Matthew Walker – Walker was another who’s game time was affected by the large Academy bench. Did some nice things in the second-half, including a clever rove of a pack inside 50, staying down and getting in the right position to have a shot at goal.
#17 Tarryn Thomas – Thomas gave his future teammates a taste of what they can look forward to in years to come. The North Melbourne Next-Generation Academy prospect was slow out of the blocks but his second half was sensational. Won the ball both on the outside and in tight with his clean disposal and class catching the eye. One memorable moment was his one-on-one win in the goal square, collecting the bouncing ball and finishing truly with a left foot snap. Put on good defensive pressure while forward and worked back regularly in defence while in the midfield.
#18 Buku Khamis – Overall Buku Khamis defended strongly against his North Melbourne opponents. His athleticism as a key position player was impressive, regularly leaping into the air to spoil, although he dropped a couple of marks and was hesitant to mark the ball overhead at times. Showed off some dash out of defence outpacing tacklers which was encouraging.
#19 Jackon Hately – Hately’s performance was emphatic. The 192cm midfielder was arguably best afield to half time, kicking two majors and winning the ball at the coalface to great effect, handballing to teammates in space. His tackling was another feature of his game, following up and getting his hands dirty. Took some strong marks as well, making his game a fairly complete package. A really strong showing and was certainly among the Academy’s best.
#21 Isaac Quaynor – Quaynor was another who worked into the game, with an impressive third quarter in particular. This included a fantastic intercept pack mark, marking the ball at the highest point amongst bigger opponents. His disposal was not as efficient as we know it can be, but his teammates looked to get the ball in his hands as often as possible out of defence.
#22 Nick Blakey – Kicked one of the goals of the day swinging onto his left from 40 metres out after an excellent pickup. Blakey played up forward during the first half and spent the second half in defence for the Academy side, showcasing his versatility as a player. A couple of his kicks were magnificent, but a costly error deep in defence cost them a goal in the third quarter.
#23 Jack Lukosius – Started the game in defence and slowly started getting into the contest after quarter-time. An agile run across half back along the Great Southern Stand side of the ground was impressive in the second quarter, as was his two elite pinpoint passes. Lukosius is one of the better kicks in the draft pool and as a tall – that is a huge tick. At times he was manned up on the dangerous Mason Wood when he played in defence. After half-time, Lukosius went forward and hit the scoreboard, with two goals – including a set shot goal in third quarter.
#24 Hudson Garoni – Spent the entire game up forward and took a few marks. Had a set shot kick on goal in the second quarter, but it went out on the full.
#25 Hugo Munn – Played in defence and showed he was willing to use either side of his body to dispose of the ball. Had a few words to say to Braydon Preuss, which resulted in some push and shove during the second term. He did drop a mark in the fourth quarter which he should’ve taken, but nevertheless it will be good to see how he performs on the big stage in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.
#26 Riley Bowman – Had a really good crack in the ruck, despite his slimmer frame than his VFL opposition. His hands in close were very good and his agility & mobility around the ground was very good.
#27 Max King – Started with one goal and two behinds from the opening quarter. He marked well in the goalsquare, converting his chance – but missed another 45m out from a set shot. One of his most impressive involvements was his pick-up & handball to West in the corridor early in the contest. Booted his second goal in the third quarter of the match, finishing with 2.2 and three marks.
#28 Ben King – Got better as the game went early. Early in the match, he didn’t impact a contest allowing an easy North Melbourne mark – but from that incident onwards, he showed his capabilities as the best key defender in the draft pool. He marked well overhead and spoiled on multiple occasions. He’s another good ball user for his size which allowed him to get the ball moving forward.
#29 Bailey Williams – Was the No.1 ruck for the AFL Academy going into the game and it would’ve been a daunting first centre bounce, looking at the big Braydon Preuss standing a few metres away from him. Competed well and showed off his long right boot with a big inside 50 during the contest.
#30 Matthew Green – Green played mostly as a defender for the AFL Academy team. He got involved in the second half, but was mostly quiet for the game. Expect to see him in action for the NT in the Under 18 Academy Series in the coming weeks.
#31 Bailey Smith – Played across half back and had a better second half, after just a few touches in the first half. Early on, he did set up Max King with a great pass in the first quarter. He just gets to the right positions to win the ball and is a reliable ball user.
#32 Curtis Taylor – Impressed in glimpses with some great moments as a half forward. He took multiple marks on the lead and overhead, booting two goals for the game – including a super goal right on the full-time siren. On a few occasions his set shot kicks on goal fell short. A super handball in close set up Jack Lukosius’ second goal.
** – Update on Jye Caldwell injury