THE National Under 18s Championships first round got underway yesterday, with Allies taking on Vic Country. We watched the game with Peter Williams and Michael Alvaro noting down the Allies players, while Ed Pascoe looked at the Vic Country players.
#8 Baxter Norton – He plays as that pressure player who can slot into any position. He laid a number of strong tackles on opponents, including one in the second term on the much bigger Bailey Williams. He forced a miskick from Oscar Brownless in the third quarter, and his follow-up pressure locked the ball up at a stoppage at half-forward. He laid a good tackle in the fourth term to lock the ball up 30m from the Allies goal. He also took the game on a couple of times, including a good run out of defence.
#9 Blair Rudock – Fantastic closing speed and good pressure, Rubock always gave the ball carrier something to think about. He played through the midfield but also covered areas around the ground, laying a good mark in defence, and later on showing off a good vertical leap to mark over the top of a Country opponent.
#10 Chayce Jones – One of the Allies best across four quarters, putting in another consistent performance. He was clean at ground level or in the air – a one-grab player, and seemed to be everywhere from defence to attack and of course through the midfield. He racked up a number of clearances and has a nice kicking technique. He intercepted a kick-out and nailed the set shot from 35m and then kicked a second goal from long range. He has a quick first few steps and is able to kick well under pressure, winning the ball on the inside or outside.
#11 Keidean Coleman – The most noticeable trait for Coleman is his cleanliness at ground level. He is a long kick of the football and has good vision on the run. He puts pressure on the opposition ball carrier, and can pinpoint bullets to teammates, such as a perfect pass to Michael Mummery at half-back in the third term, and a weighted kick to Chayce Jones in the last quarter. He had the second last kick of the day with a pass in the road of Kieren Briggs who dribbled home a goal in the dying seconds. The main blemish was taking a step out of the goal square when kicking out, causing a ball-up.
#12 Mitchell O’Neill – Laid a number of fierce tackles on opponents and showed quick hands under pressure. He took a strong mark at half-back under immense pressure in the third term, and was brave not long after to do the same thing, but was spoiled. He had a quick shot on goal but missed.
#13 Ethan Jackson – Strong at the contest and is able to stand up in a tackle. He generally picks the right option under pressure and handballed well to Fraser Turner in the third quarter but the shot from Turner missed. Had his own shot on the run in the final term but it went to the right and missed.
#16 James Peatling – Grabbed the ball on the wing and nullified a contest in the opening term by sliding across the boundary line. He took a good mark in space in the second term, but his set shot from 30m missed to the left. He handballed to a teammate early in the fourth quarter, pinpointing him through a couple of Vic Country opponents.
#18 Lachlan McDonald – Seemed to fin the ball at half-forward and half-back. A long kick, he put it to dangerous areas deep, and also provided a target leading out of the forward 50. McDonald took a good mark running back with the flight in the third term with the backline under pressure.
#19 Bailey Scott – Probably the Allies best in the first term, seemingly everywhere with a snap on goal which bounced through. He was clean at ground level, showed quick hands and put pressure on the opposition ball carrier. He was a little quieter later in the match, but laid some good tackles. Scott took a strong mark at half-forward but made a poor decision to handball to a teammate under pressure. He made up for it not long after, reading the ball drop off hands up forward and snapping a great goal.
#20 Fraser Turner – Another Allies midfielder who was busy throughout the game. He showed plenty of hard running and put good pressure on the ball carrier. He had a nice shot on goal while being tackled in the second term, capitalising through the big sticks. Turner had another shot on goal in the third term but it went out on the full. Throughout the match he found space through his gut running.
#23 Michael Mummery – Did a few nice things throughout the match, showing good speed and spun out of trouble early in the game. Was not a huge possession winner, but popped up at times.
#25 Ryan Gilmore – Not a bad performance from the defender who attacks the contest hard. He produced a good spoil in the opening term, then smothered a shot on goal. He fended off an opponent not long after but his own kick was smothered. Gilmore is quick and is strong overhead. He is clean winning it at full speed and showed plenty of courage throughout the match.
#26 Thomas Green – Bottom-ager Green started well with a couple of nice front and centre snares at the stoppages, keeping his arms free above his head in order to dish the ball out. Despite his good clearance work, his output around the contest slowed a bit in the approach to half time and he was thrown forward to good effect in the third term. He managed to back a handy goal from a long-range set shot and put on some hard tackles to keep the ball locked in the Allies 50.
#28 Matthew Green – Despite standing at 189cm, there is not much of Matthew Green. He has the perfect rangy figure for a running outside player, and he assumed his position on the wing for most of the game. Like his namesake Thomas, Green started well with some good follow up efforts around the ball and a nice chase in the first quarter to set the tone for his side.
#31 Connor McFadyen – McFadyen began the game inside the forward 50 but after a very quiet first half, was thrown into the centre bounce to find more of the ball. He made an immediate impact with the first clearance of the third quarter, followed up by a Kouta-esque pick up which led to a goal assist, and additional clearances around the ground. At 190cm, he is not quite tall enough to hold down a key forward role, but looked comfortable as a prototypical modern day midfielder. He showed surprising agility and moved well in traffic, dishing out some deft handballs in the clinches.
#36 Matthew McGuiness – Another of the Allies’ big-bodied utilities, McGuiness found it hard to break into the game at times. He did not accumulate possessions at his usual rate, but had some good moments in the second half to make his presence felt. His run down effort in the third term was admirable, and his diving smother to stop a snap on goal in the last quarter was one of his highlights.
#37 Jacob Koschitzke – Koschitzke was used in various roles throughout the day as part of a major rotation of the Allies big-men. Starting forward, the GWS Academy product also took up a good amount of the ruck duties forward of centre and did not look entirely out of place. With the Allies magnet-board shuffled heavily in the second half, Koschitzke was thrown into defence to quell the influence of his Murray Bushrangers teammate Hudson Garoni. While Garoni proved dangerous and continued to dominate on the lead, Koschitzke took a couple of handy intercept marks and made some good decisions in the back half.
#40 Kieren Briggs – Briggs played a key hand in bringing the Allies home with three last quarter goals. The highlight was easily his third goal – a smart dribbler from deep in the 50 with an opponent closing in. The versatile tall was able to find space well and looked dangerous one-out when forward. He spent most of the first half rucking, leaping well and most notably showing off his clean hands overhead in tough conditions. As an over-ager, Briggs certainly put his name down as one to watch further with his performance.
#44 Caleb Graham – Graham started the game at full-back and looked comfortable in defiance of the ball flooding into the Allies defence early. Despite direct opponent Hudson Garoni finding space on the lead on a couple of occasions, the Gold Coast Suns Academy member was rarely beaten one-on-one or at ground level. He showed good desperation in the wet conditions and save the Allies’ blushes early on with spoils, tackles, and dives for the ball. With Garoni getting on top, Graham was moved to centre half forward in the third quarter and provided a reliable first option coming out of the midfield.
#45 Jack Tomkinson – The bullocking Queenslander spent his day taking on the bulk of the ruck duties against two very worthy Vic Country adversaries, and held his own with 32 hit-outs. At 200cm and 100kg, Tomkinson has the physical edge over most rucks at this level, but certainly had his work cut out for him with the leap of Bailey Williams in particular. He used his body well at the stoppages, but could work on getting off the ground more often in the ruck contests.
#46 Tarryn Thomas – It was a quiet day by Thomas’ now highly lofty standards, but he still managed to look dangerous wherever he was played. After attending the first centre bounce, Thomas was shifted to a deep forward position during most of the second and third terms, applying some decent pressure and tackling well. He continues to show great ability below his knees and his trademark twists and turns, always looking to make something happen with ball in hand. He also has the tendency to use his hips well when winning the ball off the deck, protecting the ball and eliminating his opponent in one motion. With the game up for grabs, he was thrown back into the middle in the last quarter and behind the ball late on where he took a nice pack mark.
#47 Nicholas Baker – Donning a helmet, Baker was not all that hard to spot as he went about his business in the back half. He is another prospect who is forced to play both tall and small, and he played a good sweeping role for the Allies. Baker’s defensive pressure stood out early on with a couple of acts sparing his side a further deficit, and he was able to impact the contest through his work rate and smart positioning.
#48 Dirk Koenen – Playing largely in tandem with Baker, Koenen made his way to a good number of aerial contests down back, while doing his best to sweep the ball out of there. He had a few fumbly moments and slipped up a bit in the wet, but made good decisions by foot which proved important.
#2 Sam Walsh – Walsh was the standout midfielder on the day for Vic Country with his run and skill a feature for all four quarters. Walsh in the wet conditions was clean with his hands all day at ground level and overhead, he took a nice contested intercept mark in the third quarter and he quickly played on with a kick inboard and then quickly following up with the receive handball where he would continue to run and hit a long switch kick. Walsh showed impressive movement and composure with ball in hand where he would spin one way and then the other way keeping the opposition on their toes while also helping him take the best option which he often did. One passage of play stood out in the second quarter where he ran into the incoming Tarryn Thomas and he just turned on a dime and managed to get away. The kick was ineffective, but the way he was able to avoid trouble was eye-catching. Walsh was impressive at winning the ball at stoppages after half-time which he had to do with the injuries to key inside midfielders Jye Caldwell and Mitch Riordan. Walsh’s kicking this year has not been as good as he would like but his kicking on this day was first class with one such kick inside 50 in the last quarter where he lowered his eyes and found a target.
#3 Toby Bedford – Bedford was energetic as a small forward for all four quarters often putting on great pressure and tackling with intent. He had one excellent chase down tackle in the first quarter and he would continue to buzz around the forward 50 and be a threat. What really impressed was his multiple efforts to tackle and get involved in the play, he was also very clean with his hands and often made good decisions with the ball. He got to play around the ball more in the last quarter often getting involved in defence, he showed nice vision under pressure in one bit of play although his handball was a but too long the vision he showed in that situation was impressive.
#4 Jye Caldwell – Caldwell unfortunately had his game cut short with a hamstring injury early in the second quarter. Caldwell managed to make an impact in the first quarter however, where he kicked a goal on the run on his opposite foot. He would continue to work hard at stoppages and lay some solid tackles and work deep in defence to help his defenders. Caldwell had some shaky kicks on his left foot but it was good to see him at least try and use it instead of trying to go back on his right and be corralled with the kick.
#5 Xavier Duurmsa – Duursma had a quiet game starting in defence, he used the ball well early with his hands at ground level and handballs good in the wet conditions. He did some nice things later on before going forward in the last quarter where he had a nice front and square rove although the kick was nicely smothered by the Allies defender. Not long after that he laid a hard tackle and he should have been rewarded with a shot on goal.
#6 Laitham Vandermeer – The over-ager showed nice run and carry from half-back especially in the first quarter. One such play early in the game stood out where he marked on the wing with a kick down the line that he would end up following up and receiving then kicking nicely inside 50 which would lead to a shot at goal for Garoni. Late in the quarter he showed great attack at the contest, he would then lay a nice tackle then follow up with a run and fake finally handballing out wide to a teammate. Some of his handballs in the second quarter were very slick, with one handball done in the blink of an eye which was put perfectly to the advantage of Bedford who was running at full pace. In the last quarter he showed good evasion getting around multiple opponents in the forward half.
#8 Ned McHenry – McHenry played an excellent game working hard to win the ball while also working hard defensively with some great chases and hard tackles. McHenry’s quick clean hands were a feature in the first quarter along with his nice movement at stoppages. He would keep up his pressure and attack on the ball in the second quarter with a great bit of play in the forward half where he attacked the ball at speed evading an opponent and running into open goal, he would miss the shot but what he did to get into that position caught the eye. In the third quarter he would continue to lay plenty of hard tackles while also getting around his teammates at stoppages and gave plenty of encouragement around the ball.
#10 Zac Foot – Foot had a mixed game, it was not ideal conditions for a running wingman, but he worked hard to impact contests. His hands in the wet were mostly clean, especially in the second quarter with a few nice pickups on the run. Foot made a number of mistakes, but what impressed was his efforts to win the ball back and make up for his mistakes and in the wet conditions that’s all you could ask for.
#12 Caleb Serong – Despite a quiet first half Serong would finish the game strongly, usually a midfielder for Gippsland he played most of the game as a forward and he showed plenty of his midfield traits with some nice ground level gathers and clean hands. His attack on the ball and second efforts up forward where important in the second half and he just continued to get involved as the game went on, he missed a snap goal in the last quarter but he did well to even get a boot to it so quickly with pressure coming. What really stood out with his game was how he was able to improve as the game went on and how effective he was when going for the ball and distributing the ball by hand.
#13 Tom Berry – Usually a midfielder for the Rebels, Berry played mostly as a forward in the first half. He had a nice rove from a pack although fumbling he quickly regathered the ball and snapped at goal which was only just touched. His attack on the ball and pressure was his standout feature in the second quarter he would later be sent into defence in the second half. Berry did some very gutsy things in defence, one bit of play he went back with the flight with no thought for his body, he would continue to put his body on the line and impact the contests at ground level and overhead with some nice spoils. Berry used the ball quickly in defence he had both a great kick and a poor kick in the last quarter trying to take the game on.
#14 Sam Flanders – Flanders was arguably the most dangerous small forward in the game constantly getting to dangerous spots, he would also put on a lot of pressure and would attack the contests up forward. His first goal came from a kick of the ground in the goal square and his second goal came with a classy snap in the third quarter where he had worked hard beforehand to lock the ball inside 50. He had a nice bit of play in the midfield in the last quarter where he just whacked into Allies gun Tarryn Thomas and then followed up the loose ball from a stoppage having a run and delivering a nice pass to the 50m arc.
#15 Lachlan Ash – Bottom ager Ash had quiet second half, but his first half was full of eye catching moments with his quick ball movement and agility impressing. One such play stood out in the first quarter where he would sidestep an opponent in defence stay composed and hit a nice switch kick under pressure. He had some really good efforts competing hard in a 2-on-1 at half-forward attacking the contest hard and won the ball. He had some good efforts deep in defence where he just worked the ball to the boundary to kill the ball.
#18 Mitchell Riordan – Riordan had his day cut short getting injured late in the second quarter, he had a quiet first quarter but he worked hard in the second quarter putting on some good pressure around the stoppages while also cracking in hard with his attack on the ball which got him rewarded with a free kick in the middle of the ground.
#19 Sam Fletcher – Fletcher was a hard worker in the midfield laying plenty of tackles and getting to plenty of stoppages where he would use his clean hands at the clearances. He was rewarded for a good tackle in the second quarter and he would continue winning multiple tackles over every quarter. Fletcher’s clean hands at the stoppages stood out where he rarely fumbled and was able to release the outside running players. Fletcher would use his clean hands late in the game to take a lovely contested mark, his kicking throughout the day was not a feature and his speed hindered him at times but his constant effort over four quarters couldn’t be faulted.
#25 Kyle Reid – Reid had a mixed bag in defence, his kicking was shaky early on with a few poor kicks but one of his pickups on the run in the wet was impressive for a player his size. Reid continued to do some great defensive efforts with a good intercept mark deep in defence where he quickly played on, his quick ball movement was a positive with a bit of play in the last quarter standing out where he took a nice intercept mark, he would quickly play on with a kick and follow up his kick with some dash and a nice rebound kick. He laid a good tackle late in the last quarter and was rewarded with a free kick and he would then deliver a nice kick inside 50.
#26 Matt McGannon – The over-ager showed some nice movement and kicking from half-back and he would often take kick-outs and deliver nicely. McGannon hit the target often by foot and would often follow up his kicks with good run and carry. Decision making under pressure would be something he can work on because he is damaging with time and space.
#27 Zane Barzen – Barzen spent most of his time on a wing despite playing as a forward for the Murray Bushrangers. Barzen took multiple lead up marks in the first quarter he also took an intercept mark but his kick inside 50 was a bit too wide. Barzen has a presence in the air which he showed later in the last quarter taking a nice mark floating from the side, eh would miss the set shot at goal however. Barzen had some promising moments but if he is to play more time on the wing he needs to be stronger over the ball and not be so easily pushed off as he was on a few occasions during the day.
#28 Bailey Schmidt – Schmidt had a solid game in the ruck, what impressed most was his follow up work and attack on the contest. He had a good spoil in the third quarter where he followed up nicely with a hard tackle. Other than a poor kick over the head of his teammate in the third quarter, his ball use was otherwise solid and he showed some promising signs when following up his ruck work.
#29 Bailey Williams – Williams won plenty of taps especially early in the game with his superior leap, he would often run hard to follow up his ruck work throughout the day. Williams showed some nice movement for his size with a nice side step and long kick inside 50 in the first quarter and a lovely piece of play late in the second quarter where he would tap the ball on along the wing, gather the ball then handball and would end up following that up kicking a nice running shot at goal. He would have a quiet second half but he would take a fantastic contested mark on the lead in the third quarter; his tap work and leap would prove an asset for all four quarters.
#30 Oscar Brownless – Brownless toiled hard for a lot of the day playing forward and through the midfield. He started the game well with some good attack and desperation around the ball and used the ball well by hand, he would have a quiet second quarter before getting more involved in the third with some nice pressure in the forward half with his efforts leading to Flanders goal in the third quarter and he showed good courage going back with the flight in one contest. Brownless impressed with some good tackles and he competed well in the air in the last quarter.
#31 Brock Smith – The Gippsland defender had a quiet game but his hardness at the contest was still a feature. He was tasked with the job on dangerous Allies player Tarryn Thomas when he was resting forward and Smith more than held his own with that match up often letting him know where he was and putting on constant body contact and pressure.
#35 Hudson Garoni – Garoni worked hard in the first quarter, he took a nice contested mark only to kick a behind but he would later capitalise with a chest mark then go back and slot the set shot goal. He was good with his hands with one good handball to McHenry while Garoni was on the ground, he kicked his second goal from a free kick and almost had his third with the next centre clearance where he lead out and took a nice mark only to miss the set shot from 50. He would add another point in the last quarter coming from an impressive contested mark on the lead.
#37 Dane Hollenkamp – Hollenkamp did not do a lot wrong playing as a key defender, he often used the ball well and his defensive work was top notch with some solid spoils. He had one good bit of play in the second quarter where he showed desperation to work the ball towards the boundary. His best bit of play came in the last quarter where he attacked the ball hard, had a run and then kicked truly out of defence.
#39 Connor Idun – Toiled hard in defence and often used the ball well and quickly by hand. Idun took some nice intercept marks throughout the day including some timely spoils and good tackles. Idun did well to win the ball and take some marks but his ball movement was often slow not taking the first option and would end up just kicking long down the line and if Idun is going to make that next step it would be promising to see him use the ball quicker after a mark like he does in general play because his quick hands in general play were fantastic.