ROUND 16 of the TAC Cup was completed over the weekend – with all teams at full strength following the conclusion of school football. We had scouts watching all six games, read their notes below.
Northern Knights vs. Western Jets (Michael Alvaro)
#2 Mitchell Andrews – Put on the long sleeves in the second half and didn’t look back, racking up the ball with ease from half back to the wing. Played a settling role for the Knights throughout the game and did well to break the lines in bringing his side forward. Showed good poise and even chimed in with a goal on the back of a 50-meter penalty
#5 Marcus Lentini – Played the role he’s been so consistent at all year for the Knights – mopping up between midfield and half back and setting up attacks with penetrating kicks. Showed good improvement in his decision making and short kicking accuracy too, while doing all the hard stuff that coaches love. Has the valuable quality of being able to play well in both wet and dry conditions
#8 Nick Coffield – The skipper produced another decent outing, acting as sergeant of the Knight’s back half. He was able to again show off his poise and class in-close, while also displaying his quick step and good turn of pace on the outside. Was prolific by foot as usual and tried his best to use his skill to settle the fast-paced game. Unfortunately, he gave away two uncharacteristic and costly free kicks in the final quarter that ended up handing Western the game – one was a very stiff deliberate rushed behind call, and the other a holding the ball decision. That shouldn’t take anything away from his solid game and overall credentials and is firmly in the top 10 mix.
#9 Alex Federico – Started off like a house on fire with 10 disposals and a handful of tackles in the first quarter. He continued that form and was probably the best for the Knights throughout the day, cracking in and winning the ball relentlessly. Attended most of the centre bounces and willed himself at the ball at each one, while making sure to follow up and not give his opponents an inch. Showed signs of the good outside traits he’s always had, too, and found targets with ease.
#11 Ethan Penrith – Was another who started the game well with half-a-dozen touches and a set shot goal in the first term. While he often drifts in and out of games, his pressure allows him to make his presence be felt on the field. You’d think opposition coaches would tell their players to take on anyone but Penrith, but he continues to wrap up players in great tackles to win the ball back. While he excels in that area, he just lacks a bit of polish in his disposal and decision making.
#18 Jamo Shea – Was very quiet for most of the game playing as a key forward, but dragged the Knights back into the game with his three second-half goals. Took his opportunities when they came but otherwise struggled to get going, along with the likes of Patrick Naish and Matt Harman.
#11 Zak Butters – A member of the strong Western bottom-age contingent, Butters was reliable in the moments that counted. Most notably, he brought down Knights skipper Nick Coffiled late in the last quarter, allowing Cam Rayner to take the advantage and kick the sealing goal. Provided a wealth of drive for the Jets between the wing and half forward with his speed on the outside and grunt on the inside – despite his size. And while his name suggests otherwise, he showed a clean pair of hands in trying conditions.
#12 Connor Thar – Another bottom-ager, Thar backed up his performance for the Under 17 Vic Metro side with a solid outing here. Switching characteristically between defence and attack, the classy small provided plenty of run for the Jets on the outside. He isn’t afraid to take on an opponent (or three) and he regularly put his step to good use, buying himself time and space with ease.
#14 Lachlan Fogarty – Was arguably best afield in the first half as he won plenty of the ball and hit the scoreboard with two majors. Demonstrated a good work rate to find space in the forward 50 where not many can, and then put on a show of overhead marking to get full reward for his efforts. He’s another one who showed good desire in the contest while it was up for grabs, but sometimes got ahead of himself and gave away an undisciplined 50-meter penalty in the second half.
#19 Cameron Rayner – Rayner did his chances of snaring top spot in this year’s draft no harm with an impressive best-on-ground performance. He was slow to get going and the second quarter rain halted his ability to mark overhead momentarily, but he came to life after that. Chimed in with a couple of clutch goals to will his side over the line and continued to show signs of an improved work rate with some big efforts around the ground. He managed to do all of that and even throw in a typical fend off with a fractured thumb – freakish.
#26 Darcy Cassar – One who came from left-field, Cassar was as composed and assured as you’ll ever see a 16-year old be. With four first-half goals and an eye-catching set of locks, Cassar proved a real handful for the Knights defence all day and really took control of the half-forward line. He’s very clean with ball in hand and quite smart in the way he moves – certainly one to keep an eye on.
#38 Buku Khamis – Khamis is a late-comer to footy, but he looked like a natural out there today. Took some impressive grabs in defence, intercepting a lot of the long balls that went in and then setting up his side on the rebound. Uses the ball well by foot and is a promising, versatile talent for 2018’s draft.
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons (Matt Balmer)
#6 Matthew Day – Had a very quiet first quarter, but impacted in the second quarter with multiple clearances on the inside. Has a burst of speed that can help him to burst away when he collects the ball. Took a nice mark in the fourth quarter, judging it better than his opponents.
#7 Charlie Thompson – Played as a strong bodied inside midfielder. Is willing to use it off either foot when going forward and is follow up is superb. Has good clean hands in close and kicked a good goal in the second quarter after his 2nd efforts saw him able to intercept the ball.
#8 Toby Wooller – Made a very good tackle on Andrew Brayshaw and should’ve been rewarded with a holding the ball call in the opening quarter. Took some marks throughout the contest – including a very nice sliding mark in four quarter with his shot missing on goal. Also intercepted a kick from Charlie Constable close to full time deep inside 50.
#14 Ed Richards – Took majority of the kickouts for the Chargers and used his pinpoint left foot to find a target short. On some occasions he played on and used his zip to gain 25 metres and bang it long. Had a nice early run down the broadcast wing in the first quarter and used his clean hands to find targets in the contest. Had a good contested knock-on to Jack Higgins that set up a goal in the last quarter. Also spent time playing as an inside midfielder, mostly in the final term.
#35 Jack Higgins – Spent a lot of time as a small forward and finished with three goals for the match. Laid some strong tackles and his defensive smothers were very good – including two in quick succession showing his desperation. Showed off his contested marking ability inside 50 as the game progressed. Won a free for ‘ducking’ close to goal and did his trademark ‘Stevie J’ run around snap to slot the goal with ease.
#1 Lachlan Harris – Has played as an inside midfielder for Caulfield Grammar but returned playing as a small forward for the Dragons. Marked early in the game from 20 metres out and slotted the goal. He was willing to block to help his teammates and showed off some speed at times. Roved a nice tap in the third quarter but didn’t have time to get a shot on target. Finished with two goals for the day.
#6 Charlie Constable – Won a stack of the ball and used it well by hand and foot. Had a few chances on goal from 55 metres but just fell a few metres short into the wind. Had a nice rebound 50 in the second term that got the Dragons running down the far wing at RAMS Arena. His contested mark right on half time allowed him to go back and slot the chance giving them some momentum into the main break. Had another very good centre clearance in the last quarter and did his top 10 chances no harm.
#9 Andrew Brayshaw – Like Constable, would’ve won a lot of the football. What is noticeable is his contested ball winning and he weaves very well in tight spaces. His vision is good and he hits targets with ease. He worked hard defensively and was able to win the ball in multiple positions around the ground. Has a bit of zip in the midfield and could well push into the Top 10 come draft night.
#12 Jackson Hille – Played as a defender for the Dragons and possesses good hands in close. Was able to break free and rundown the wing in the opening quarter and his offensive work is good. At times he can get caught out with his defensive positioning and that is one area that he will improve as he spends more time in defence. Has a long right foot kick.
#24 Sam Cameron – Showed some speed across half back and has very good agility. Switched the ball well early in the contest and was composed with ball in hand. Is willing to use it off either foot.
Eastern Ranges vs. Calder Cannons
#2 Thomas North – Played through the midfield and was able to find the ball at ease. He used it well on his left foot and had hurt factor with his disposals.
#6 Ryley Stoddart – The Vic Metro defender is in stellar form at the moment, after being one of the Ranges’ best against Sandringham Dragons. He started back against Calder, but worked himself up the ground – finishing up forward with two goals. He impacted the play throughout the day and was again in the best players.
#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Again spent time in the midfield after being the best player on the ground against Sandringham Dragons. Won the footy in contested situations and was able to find targets ahead of him.
#18 Sam Hayes – Was the clear best ruckman throughout the day winning a lot of taps. For the second game in a row had a more of an athletic ruckman (Balta) that attempted to jump over him at times, but he was able to compete strongly using his strength around the ground. Also pushed forward to boot two goals.
#22 Jackson Ross – Ross booted 29 goals for Haileybury in the APS competition and left no doubts to recruiters on Saturday, that he has the ability to dominate at not just school level. Ross booted five goals in a best-on-ground display, covering the ground well and finding the football. A very athletic type, he is a player to keep an eye on.
#12 Noah Balta – Has been trialled in different positions for the Cannons this season, but played in the attacking half of the ground. Balta booted two goals up forward and completed well in the ruck against Sam Hayes, in what was a good battle when they went against each other. Showed his athletic traits off throughout the contest.
#20 Rhylee West – Found the ball easily through the midfield and was able to get the ball moving forward. Has a strong build below his waist and is able to stay standing when he is tackles.
Geelong Falcons vs. Murray Bushrangers (Peter Williams)
#4 Gryan Miers – Miers played predominantly forward in the game, pushing up the ground and then creating space for himself in the forward 50 when his team had possession. Took a couple of strong diving marks, although the second of which looked like it hit the ground. Had a couple of set shots but missed opportunities to have a big impact on the scoreboard. Miers kicked a goal on the siren at the end of the third term to give the Falcons a two-goal lead when the Bushrangers had the momentum.
#7 Harry Benson – Benson was strong defensively but did not spend as much time in the midfield as he had in past games. Played a bit off half-back, Benson laid a few desperate tackles and showed good vision when moving the ball from half-back. Had a clanger in the second term when he hooked a kick inside 50 to a defender, but showed some super clean hands at ground level under pressure to dish off to a teammate earlier in the game.
#16 David Handley – Handley was impressive in the first term and got his fair share of the football throughout. He provided some good link-up through the middle and when one-on-one, protected the ball drop well. Handley kicked a couple of goals, both of which game in the first half, but he spread his ground cover to include the defensive half, having a rebound outside defensive 50. His kick was a bit rushed and went to an opponent, but overall his decision making was reasonable. He showed a good sidestep when taking on Daniel Johnston in the second term.
#17 Cooper Stephens – Stephens continues to have his moments of brilliance. He is a nice, penetrating kick of the football coming out of defence, it is just a case of working on his shorter kicks where he tends to not kick through the football and therefore drops short of loops his kicks. Stephens was a presence in the air and took a good contested grab in the third quarter.
#19 Matt Ling – Ling was another who showed a few highlights, but ultimately was well held through the game. Had a couple of eye-catching dashes on the wing, but was constantly under pressure. He has good vision when coming off half-back. Ling’s best quarter was his last as he managed to win a bit more of the football and used his delicate kicking skills to influence the contest coming out of defence and into attack.
#38 James Worpel – Worpel played his typically consistent game, winning the ball and just grinding out a strong effort. His kicking still leaves a bit to be desired, but his quick hands under pressure is really good. When in close, his decision making also appears to be good and kicked a goal in the opening minute of the third term which gave his side a boost.
#42 Cassidy Parish – Parish was busy around the ground, winning plenty of the football and spreading well. He is good at getting his arms free in a tackle and handballing to a teammate running into space. Had a nice moment where he arched his back and kicked inside 50 to hit up David Handley, but his kicking still needs much work. Overall one of the better Falcons and tried his heart out for four quarters.
#43 Josh Jaska – Jaska is a developing key position defender who has a nice mix of speed and strength. He took a few strong grabs and provided some rebound off half-back. Jaska laid a strong tackle against a midfielder on the wing to kill a contest and help his side reset.
#1 Daniel Johnston – Johnston had a quieter game against the Falcons after big bags in recent weeks. He leads at the football strongly, but needs to work on his second and third efforts. He noticeably lifted his intensity after quarter time, but has some areas to work on in regards to athleticism. Johnston found a bit more of it in the ruck but gave away a free kick which looked to be in frustration. Kept trying, but just wasn’t his day.
#2 Jordon Butts – Butts played in defence and was impressively offensively. He took a chest mark going back with the flight when he should have stuck the mitts up, but he protected the ball drop which was important. Butts is a reliable kick over any distance and showed good athleticism to be involved in a chain of handballs on the wing. He also did well to corral the speedster Matt Ling, and has a good tackling technique.
#4 Laitham Vandermeer – Vandermeer battled hard for four quarters and won a bit of inside ball but is not the big ball winner compared to some of his teammates and opposition on the day. He has quick hands under pressure and often looks to clear the area quickly by hand. He can tend to loop his handballs a bit which can put teammates under pressure at times.
#5 Ben Paton – Lined up on Miers early on and throughout the game at times and did a fairly good job. He has a penetrating kick coming out of defence and a good sidestep which he showed on multiple occasions. Paton took a fantastic contested mark sliding in from the side of a pack and then took an intercept grab in a rare stint pushing forward, cutting the deficit to just six points late in the third term.
#11 Jy Lane – Quiet game offensively for Lane who was tasked to oppose Ling early on. Kept his opponent quiet and did his job, but did not win a heap of the football himself. Provided a great run down tackle on Ling in the opening term, but was not sighted as much since.
#21 Doulton Langlands – Langlands was definitely one of the better Bushrangers, starting off half-back then moving through the midfield and finishing up forward. He created some line-breaking speed in the opening half, and while his decision making at times was questionable, he starred up forward late. Langlands finished the game with three majors and along with Joe Richards (four goals), was the major goal kicker for the Bushrangers.
#30 Alex Paech – Paech showed off his athleticism against the Falcons with some good closing speed and defensive pressure. He smothered Gryan Miers who has having a shot on goal, but then caught him high in frustration after Miers was paid what seemed to be a questionable mark. He was moved onto Garner who had two majors in the first term and kept the big forward quiet. He applied plenty of team pressure across the ground with shepherds and bumps.
#34 Tom Boyd – Boyd played forward and was quiet early, but worked into the game as he moved further up the ground. Laid a great tackle in the third term at half-forward and was more involved in the play through the middle of the ground. Boyd kicked inside 50 for a goal assist in the third quarter and took a good lead-up mark through the middle of Mars Stadium.
Gippsland Power vs. Bendigo Pioneers (Peter Williams)
#2 Nick Hogan – Hogan was one of the Power’s top performers across four quarters, winning plenty of the football and buzzing around the stoppages. He had a number of inside 50s pushing forward hard, and showed great vision throughout the game. Hogan’s hard running was rewarded when he got on the end of a handball chain in the third term and booted a goal. One of his better kicks came when going inside 50 to hit-up Irving Mosquito who took a great grab.
#6 Aidan Quigley – Quigley has an imposing figure around the stoppages and has an influence on the contest when he’s “on”. Made a statement early with a goal from just inside 50 after receiving the handball from Cal Porter, then had a goal assist with a lovely clearance to Kyle Reid. At times he can rush his kick when under pressure, but has a booming rake when he gets onto it.
#11 Austin Hodge – Hodge’s trademark is his penetrating kick which he used to effect early. He would win the ball in the midfield and then pump the footy long to a contest which advantaged his forwards. A couple of times his kick would be a little predictable and was chopped off, but he showed his versatility, sneaking inside 50 to grab a mark.
#19 Callum Porter – Porter continues to stand out for the Power, working hard around the stoppages and having that unique combination of strength and acceleration. He can burst away from a stoppage, but also get his hands dirty and fire out a handball to a teammate on the outside. Porter is a really strong contested mark, especially for his size and he has a decent vertical leap as well. He rarely loses a one-on-one.
#1 Paddy Dow – Dow is an A grade player and it is clear to see why he would come into consideration for the first pick in the National AFL Draft. He can win the ball inside or out, but does most of his damage when in space. He has super quick hands, a great kick when he has time and space, and he is a goal kicker as well. Dow booted a goal from outside 50 and then set up another later on in the game when he won the ball, kicked short, got to the contest to win the ball again and then weaved through three players to hit Angus Byrne lace out inside 50. Dow had another chance later in the third term but his shot drifted to the right. A last quarter goal after a contested grab again saw the Pioneers claw to within six points midway through the term.
#2 Kane Farrell – Farrell played a tough, inside role throughout the match and had clean hands in tight. He won a number of crucial one-on-ones and showed a good penetrating kick when going inside 50. Farrell booted a goal in the final term when the momentum was against the Pioneers and continued to battle hard. He just does all the defensive things right.
#10 Brent Daniels – A nuggety midfielder/forward, Daniels is the prototype defensive forward who can also punish opponents on the scoreboard. Daniels works hard to push forward and looks to play on at all costs. He is solid by foot and is able to kick laterally at full speed while fending off an opponent. Daniels booted a goal after being on the end of a chain of handballs, rewarding him for his hard work.
#13 Jarrod Brander – The likely top 10 pick looked a dominant force all game and began to influence the game on the scoreboard with a couple of goals and a narrow miss in the third term. Brander took a ton of contested marks, and was impressive at ground level for a bigger player. He has a penetrating kick for goal and looked every bit a marquee tall forward. He earned a few free kicks as well with his opponents wary of his ability.
#18 Bailey Henderson – Henderson started at half-back and moved through the midfield, particularly spending time on a wing. He knows how to find the football and is a good size with good accelerations. A couple of times he stood up in a tackle and used his body to win the ball and move it on to a teammate’s advantage.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Dandenong Stingrays (Peter Williams)
Greater Western Victoria Rebels:
#2 Callan Wellings – The GWV Rebels’ captain continued to try throughout the four quarters, constantly pushing to contest after contest. Wellings used his quick hands to get it to teammates to run down the ground and worked hard with Aiden Domic in the third term when everyone else seemed to be down. He really started to rack up the ball, particularly off half-back and could hold his head high for his efforts. Narrowly missed a shot on goal from outside 50 after taking a grab on a long lead.
#4 Aiden Domic – After a quiet start, Domic began to exert his influence on the game in the second term. While he had a couple of forgettable kicks, more often than not he managed to kick it to his teammates’ advantage and showed clean hands throughout the match. A highlight was his clean pick up at ground level, spin out of traffic and snap on goal, but it was unfortunately punched through by Oscar Clavarino after the ball bounced the wrong way on the goal line. Domic continued to win the ball throughout the third term, being used well in transition from half-back to half-forward.
#10 Jordan Johnston – A quieter game for the exciting talent. Johnston started in the midfield to show what he could do on the inside and he did not disappoint, earning a few free kicks after burying himself under packs and winning the ball first. He showed good vision across half-back under pressure, hitting up a teammate with a lateral pass while under pressure. Johnston also continued to apply defensive pressure despite not winning much of the ball, laying a few tackles and providing shepherds for his teammates. Johnston had a highlight earlier in the last term with a clever spin but then ruined it with a kick that landed in an opposition player’s lap. Johnston had a rare shot at goal late in the final term but his shot drifted away for a behind.
#23 Lloyd Meek – One of GWV Rebels’ best with the way he presented himself across the ground. He went when he had to go and provided a target up forward when he was not rucking. He took a few good contested marks and was equally as impressive at ground level. Meek knows how to use his body, shows good positioning and his tap work was also impressive. For a taller player, he is surprisingly good at ground level, and he is able to stand his ground well when one-on-one. Meek continued presenting throughout the four quarters.
#2 Hunter Clark – Clark put in another impressive performance with a good mixture of speed and strength. His kicking was once again questionable with a few rushed kicks off the boot, including one that was smothered. Nonetheless, Clark was one of the better Stingrays, bursting out of a stoppage and kicking long to the forwards. His repeat efforts during the game were also impressive, while his one-on-one work was really good. Clark has good vision coming out of a stoppage and has a greater influence when he handballs to the advantage of a teammate rather than throwing it on the boot. Clark won a 50m penalty in the last quarter and kicked truly to put a goal on the board for his team.
#6 Aiden Bonar – After a quiet first quarter at half-back, Bonar was moved to half-forward with instant results. He took a great grab and missed a chance at capitalising, but then snagged a great goal off a forward 50 stoppage when he read the tap to perfection. Despite having a few errors by foot, Bonar on the whole was reasonably effective by foot and his class without the ball shone through. He took a huge grab in the third term and kicked truly from the set shot to put the Stingrays 39-points up. Bonar won a bit of the football early in the last term and continued to push hard.
#9 Luke Davies-Uniacke – The potential number one draft pick actually had an anti-climactic start without impacting the contest a great deal. Once he got going however, he really got going and began to collect the ball across the ground. While he would not have won as much of the football as Hunter Clark, most of his kicks were long, penetrating kicks deep inside 50 to his teammates’ advantage. Davies-Uniacke had a snap in the final term but just missed. His work in close was good as was his ability to cover the ground, from mopping up in to defence to having score assists inside 50. A highlight was a pinpoint penetrating kick to Riley D’Arcy on the lead inside 50 in the third quarter.
#25 Oscar Clavarino – Clavarino is Mr Consistency and a complete rock in defence. He won a truckload of intercept possessions, going back, taking good contested grabs and rebounding off half-back. The most noticeable aspect about his game is his ability to seem composed at all times and is a good decision maker by hand or foot. Clavarino propelled a number of Rebels’ attacks throughout the match.
#26 Tom Murphy – Murphy had a few fleeting moments, but overall was quieter than other games. He had a booming shot at goal early from outside 50, but kicked it out on the full. Later on in the third term he did a good job clearing the ball out of defence with his penetrating boot to clear the defensive arc.
#35 Tom Freeman – Freeman did not have a huge game, but he was good in the contest. He continually put his body on the line and battled hard and lightened the load of Luke Davies-Uniacke and Hunter Clark on the inside. In one instance he got his hands free in a tackle when he looked well and truly wrapped up.
#50 Riley D’Arcy – D’Arcy had a huge first quarter but was relatively quiet after that. While he did not put a goal on the board, he took a number of contested grabs, and shepherded through a goal on the siren to allow Bailey Williams to goal. His kick to the top of the goal square moments earlier allowed Jai Nanscawen to pounce and snap a goal. D’Arcy showed good aggressiveness when tackling and had clean hands around the ground. Flynn Appleby locked down on him well after quarter time, with a rare mark in the third term and shot on goal just missing to the left.