IN Round 8, we make an exception from the first-year draftee rule with two debutants from the 2016 draft making an impact – and a third in just his third game – being the match-winner in a crunch game. Here are some of the top draftees from round eight.
Third-gamer Ben Ronke kicked off the round in remarkable style, booting no less than seven goals including four in the first quarter and the sealer, to get the Swans over the line against Hawthorn. Having been taken in the 2016 Rookie Draft by the Swans, the former Calder Cannon made the most of his opportunities inside-50. He collected 11 disposals two marks and 10 tackles (including seven inside-50 tackles), spending 88 per cent of the game in the attacking half. He created chances for himself and his teammates through relentless pressure and capitalised when he found time and space. It certainly appears as if the Swans have unearthed yet another gem from the rookie list.
On debut for the Giants, the flashy 2016 first round draftee showed promise off the half back line and along the wings. He amassed 14 disposals, repelled from the back-50 twice, sent the ball inside the attacking-50 three times, and gained 205 metres. Renowned for his speed, run and carry and precise foot skills, it appears difficult for Cumming to keep his spot in the side once some of the Giants big names return from injury. However, he did himself no harm in the loss to West Coast, showing why he was rated so highly. Cumming is another graduate of the GWS Academy.
The baby-faced Brayden Ainsworth produced an outstanding second quarter to kick-start his AFL career. The second-round draftee from last year found the majority of his 15 possessions on the outside of the contest, but also showcased his toughness on the inside, laying eight tackles. In what was a very solid debut game, the Western Australian native will look to build on his endurance base and foot skills throughout the remainder of the year, having spent just 67 per cent of time on the ground.
In Carlton’s first win of the season, Lochie O’Brien provided great run and spread from the contest to worry his Essendon opponents, collecting eight marks as a result. O’Brien came into the year having been regarded as one of the best kicks in the draft pool and his neat skills were on display on Saturday afternoon. Of his 15 disposals, 13 of them were kicks, highlighting the Blues faith in his kicking off half-back and the wing. He gained 380 metres and continued to build on his time on ground.
Away to Fremantle is a reasonably tough start to your AFL career, but dashing outside midfielder Ed Phillips was one of the Saints’ best players in his first game at the highest level. He was involved in multiple chains of handballs through the centre of the ground, linking up well with his teammates. Phillips collected an impressive 24 disposals, delivering the ball at 79 per cent efficiency along with wings, while recording just one turnover for the game. The former Oakleigh Charger also tallied five intercept possessions, three marks and five tackles. Of particular promise were his time on ground figures (84 per cent time on ground) which indicates he has the aerobic fitness to run out matches. Given St.Kilda’s current state, Phillips, along with Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield, should be given every chance to play week-in-week-out, providing they maintain their early season output.
The second overall draft pick from the most recent national draft, Andrew Brayshaw, continues to front up and show promising signs every week. Playing mostly on the ball in an outside-leaning role, Brayshaw’s balance and well-roundedness was apparent, as he managed 16 disposals (69 per cent efficiency), five marks and six tackles. His ability to find the football, work hard both ways, apply plenty of pressure and use it cleanly on the outside have been impressive so far in 2018. As he builds on his time on ground, Brayshaw will only improve. Fremantle will no-doubt be pleased with his production early in the year.
Classy, smooth moving midfielder Adam Cerra once again hit the scoreboard and made the most of his possessions in the win over St.Kilda. The top five draft pick spent much of the game on-ball, where his exciting combination of polish on the outside and contested ball winning on the inside were evident. Cerra tallied 14 disposals (eight of which were contested) at a strong 79 per cent efficiency to go with three tackles and two majors. His scoreboard impact has been terrific for a 18-year-old, having booted six goals in his opening seven matches. The signs suggest it will not be long before Cerra joins the likes of Nat Fyfe, Lachie Neale and potentially Andrew Brayshaw to form an elite midfield combination.
In the absence of superstar centre half-forward Lance Franklin, the youngest player in the competition, Tom McCartin, was handed his debut by John Longmire. The third-tall forward, who is known for his extremely high endurance, was seen pushing up the ground and helping out in the backline when he wasn’t providing a target in attack, as a testament to his work rate. Although he didn’t hit the scoreboard, McCartin, the brother of St.Kilda’s Paddy, tallied eight disposals, clunked four marks and laid three tackles. The Swans coaching staff may look to make the most of his strong work rate by using him in a linkup role, not dissimilar to the one Tom Lynch plays for the Crows.