Tag: Andrew Brayshaw

Keeping Tabs: Standout performances from Round 19

AS the end of the season draws near and the Rising Star conversation heats up, some familiar races return to the Keeping Tabs list after standout performances.

Jack Higgins

It’s not often a first-year player that kicks arguably the greatest goal ever, but Higgins may have done just that. How a first-year player can earn a spot in the reigning premier’s starting 22 baffles me. Richmond plays a chaotic, but clever brand of football that has seen many of the competition’s great sides break beneath it. On paper, they are the best defensive side in the competition, and second behind Melbourne in attack. At pick 17 in last year’s draft, Higgins has more than stepped up to the challenge. Unselfish with the footy, and instinctive around goal, the young tiger supplied onlookers with yet another standout performance. He finished with 14 contested possessions, recording the highest contested possession rate (70 per cent),  as well as tying first in ground ball gets (12) with Collingwood’s Taylor Adams. Though usually a great assist up forward, Higgins was able to finish with two for the match. Driven by pure instincts, the Tigers have secured a future star in Higgins for both his gifts with a microphone and hunger on the pitch. Despite his lengthier period on the bench, Higgins still managed to tie second in pressure acts (22) with skipper Trent Cotchin. The rest of his stat sheet is just as impressive at five clearances, five intercept possessions without a turnover. Surely a game to remember, for the record 19 wins at the MCG and possibly the most replayed goal we are ever going to see.

Paddy Dow

The footy gods offered young Dow an opportunity to hit his strides this weekend, giving Carlton a rare showing of dominance over the Gold Coast Suns. With one of his two goals nominated for goal of week, the pacy midfielder proved too good on the board despite spending 86 per cent of his time in Carlton’s defensive half. Rip out the stat sheet and Dow’s impact becomes even more evident. Recording 18 disposals and 11 contested possessions at a 78 per cent disposal efficiency, Dow remained vital around stoppages with three clearances and four tackles. His pressure acts topped off at 17 and he gained 314 metres for the day. Though unlikely to be in Rising Star conversations, Dow is showing steady growth despite Carlton’s poor season. Hopefully 2019 will allow the young midfielder more room to perform with a better built Carlton side. 

Andrew Brayshaw

Coming off a groin injury sustained against Melbourne, Brayshaw’s comeback brought one of his best performances for the season. Despite the poor result, Fremantle’s young stars stepped up to challenge, with the Dockers’ number two pick leading the charge. Brayshaw finished with 25 disposals and nine contested possessions. Despite an average disposal efficiency of 64 percent, Brayshaw made his impact obvious finishing with four tackles, two clearances, two rebound 50s, 19 pressure acts and three free kicks. Finding himself on the scoreboard, the number two pick finished with a goal and six score involvements, having a hand in many of Fremantle’s link ups.  It’s evident Fremantle are doing well with their debutantes, bringing in the next generation’s champions. These boys could be highly decorated players in a few years if developed right, and could make history with Fremantle’s first premiership. The sky’s the limit.

Aaron Naughton

Though intended to play up forward, it seems Naughton’s work in the backline was too good to pass up. Recording 20 disposals and 13 contested possessions, Naughton suffered a beating from Port’s persistent forward line. Despite the onslaught, the youngster managed an outstanding 15 intercept possessions and two contested marks. He won all three of his defensive one on ones and recorded a contested possession rate of 68.4 per cent. He recorded high intercept numbers, Naughton still turned the ball over six times. Unfortunately for the youngster, it seemed he was fighting a losing battle from the second quarter, but he would not let this stop him. He kept his stat sheet more than impressive, recording four tackles, three inside 50s, four rebound 50s, three free kicks and four one percenters. With the Bulldogs at full strength, we hope to see Naughton cement himself in a position and properly improve on his development.

Bailey Banfield

Fremantle’s resident tagger, Banfield was given the greatest challenge of his career in having to minimise the impact of Hawthorn’s, Tom Mitchell. A success? Not quite. Mitchell went on to deliver a 42-disposal game with two goals, but Banfield had an impact of his own despite the challenging task. Stepping up around the stoppage, Banfield picked up five clearances. His superb pressure continued with six tackles and 25 pressure acts, with 19 disposals and eight contested.  A disposal efficiency of 58 per cent let him down at times, but considering his tagging role, Banfield saw a decent amount of the footy. At 20 years-old, Banfield has already been entrusted with one of the biggest individual responsibilities in tagging the opposition’s best. Considering his experience, he is doing okay. 

Sam Taylor

Taylor had yet another solid game in GWS’s backline against St. Kilda. The Saints played some strong footy up until the final quarter, so Taylor had his works cut out for him. He collected 10 disposals and five contested with a 90 per cent disposal efficiency. He brought clean hands to everything, picking up five intercept possessions (zero turnovers) and three marks. He laid five tackles, recorded one rebound 50, 10 pressure acts and five spoils. He has no problem attacking the football and makes the most of his possessions. His presence around the contest is evident enough from his stats, playing close to his man and applying intense pressure. Taylor is developing nicely in the GWS backline in his seven games. We could be looking at a future All-Australian backman in the making.

Nick Coffield

Coffield found his way back into St. Kilda’s side in their match against the Giants. Though lower than usual for the clean defender, Coffield still managed a 71 per cent disposal efficiency from his 14 disposals. He picked up four intercept possessions and won both his contested defensive one on ones. He is undoubtedly one of the cleanest first-year players, and determined not to turn it over. He recorded three rebound 50s, eight pressure acts and four marks (one contested). Coffield also saw his way up the ground where he recorded two inside 50s and two score involvements. He also impressively turned GWS great, Josh Kelly, inside out after thwarting his tackle on Saint’s defensive 50. Coffield is too clean to be played anywhere else for the Saints. His effectiveness with the footy is invaluable and hopefully will be utilised more in the future.

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 15

NAMING the best first-years for Round 15 proved much harder than I expected, with several boys starring for their team, and a handful kicking a neat bag of goals. It seems the players are on the rise as we approach September, etching their spot in their respective teams marching towards the finals.

Cam Rayner

It is fair to say that a first-year player may only perform as good as the team they are in. Hence why players like Kelly, Fritsch and Stephenson continue to find success individually and with their team. This weekend we were able to witness Rayner perform in a confident and dominate Brisbane Lions, with a strong first half at Optus Stadium. Jumping between the midfield and the forward line, Rayner collected eight uncontested and 11 contested possessions at a 63 per cent disposal efficiency. He kicked two goals for the game, along with taking a strong contested mark on the goal line to secure an easy one. He wanted a piece of everything with his four inside 50s and six score involvements. His tackling was strong and pressure ever present, laying five with 18 pressure acts. It was a brilliant showing by the Lions, Rayner showing us all why he is the player most deserving of his number one pick.

Ed Richards 

It seems Richards’ days in the backline are behind him, again impressing in the Bulldogs’ forward half, putting away three goals in a tight victory against the Cats. For the day, Richards spent 83 per cent in the forward half of the ground, continuing to display a remarkable football sense around goal and against the opposing ball carrier. The youngster laid a strong tackle on Dangerfield after the Brownlow medallist attempted a fake. Richards won the free and with a total of five tackles for the game. In all, he had eight contested and five uncontested possessions for the game at a 69 percent disposal efficiency. Instrumental in the Doggy’s high score, Richards contributed to six score involvements, one goal assist and applied  himself to all facets of the game, collecting three clearances out of stoppages, two one percenters, 21 pressure acts, and three intercept possessions. He is on the way up, finding his zone as an attacking utility for the comeback Bulldogs.

Jaidyn Stephenson

When I watch Collingwood’s games, I sometimes forget that Stephenson is playing his first year at the elite level. His willingness to take on the game gave Collingwood a player on a sharp incline to greatness.  It does not even shock anyone that Stephenson kicked three goals against Gold Coast, putting him on 24 for the season. That makes him fifteenth overall in the competition, tied with Robbie Gray and above players like Jarryd Roughead, Taylor Walker and Tom Lynch. There is no doubting Stephenson’s impact for Collingwood and how well he fits into Collingwood’s unselfish style of attacking football. For the day, Stephenson had eight score involvements, five inside 50s, two tackles and 18 pressure acts. He finished with six contested and seven uncontested possessions at a 69 percent disposal efficiency. The young Magpie putting on an amazing one-on-one contest against Steven May in front of goals, edging the big man under the ball to take it off a bounce and kick a goal. It is a great summary of the player Stephenson is becoming in that he is not afraid of a challenge and backs himself to the very end.

Bayley Fritsch

Fritsch was a pillar of excellence in Melbourne’s high scoring loss against St. Kilda. The first year player led hard and kicked true, finishing with four goals for the game, seven score involvements and two goal assists. Almost coming from thin air, Fritsch has a knack for finding space inside 50 and pouncing on the loose ball to convert. The 21 year-old has fit nicely in this high scoring side, leading the scoring for Demons despite the poor result against the Saints. He reads the offensive play well and places himself well under the ball. He is on his way to becoming a dominant goal kicker for our competition someday.

Jack Higgins

It is no easy feat being deemed good enough to earn a place in Richmond’s dominate line-up, but Higgins has done just that 10 times this season. After a hilarious pep talk at the half-time break, Higgins went on to finish his game with eight contested and 12 uncontested possessions at a solid 75 per cent efficiency. While goalless for the game, the small forward still had seven score involvements with two goal assists and two inside 50s. He proved most dangerous off the crumb, collecting the loose ball in front of goal and hitting the better option to put away goals. He plays instinctive football and has great sense while under pressure. It seems Richmond chose well with pick 17, adding a clean and unselfish utility in to their already dangerous forward line.

Tim Kelly 

Kelly has had such a good start to his season, at times making it hard to living up to his own hype. The WA boy has already left his mark on the game, dominating the contested work for Geelong and blending nicely with a star cast of players. Kelly topped the game for disposals, finishing with 12 contested and 22 uncontested possessions. He proved poor with the ball with his disposal efficiency at 56 per cent with 10 turnovers, so this was far from his best performance. Despite that, Kelly finished the game with five clearances, four tackles, five inside 50s and two rebounds. It was a high-pressure game, but Kelly managed to make an impact, still good enough to put through a goal with six score involvements.

Stefan Giro

Giro displayed some excellent composure for the Dockers despite their poor showing at Optus Stadium. The young man finished the game with five contested and ten uncontested possessions at a 73 per cent disposal efficiency, and a goal to his name. He applied important forward pressure, laying five tackles with 20 pressure acts. Developing nicely alongside, Brayshaw and Cerra, Giro showed fans that he won’t bend beneath the pressure, remaining composed and minimising his errors.

Hunter Clark

One of the Saints’ poster boys for the year, Clark continues to put in significant effort on the pitch. Leaning off his pressure elements against Melbourne, Clarke’s presence was a little less resounding. Despite this, Clark put through his third goal for the season and took home a decent nine uncontested and five contested possessions at a 79 per cent disposal efficiency. He picked up two clearances, roaming mostly in the back half of the ground, but still managing to lay two tackles inside 50. He kept a hand in a lot of the plays, having seven score involvements and two inside 50s. The young Saint is a favourite within the Club and seems to be developing well within their walls.

Paddy Dow 

Dow may not be hitting high numbers like some of the others on this list, but he’s keeping his head well above water and showing some real glimpse of what’s soon to come. Dow had a solid performance, breaking even with seven contested and seven uncontested possessions with a 79 per cent disposal efficiency. Doing it all with his three clearances, two tackles, 26 pressure acts, four score involvements and one goal. With the way he’s travelling, Dow is well on his way to becoming a damaging, pacey midfielder for the Blues.

Andrew Brayshaw

Despite the Lions onslaught, Brayshaw stood tall. Getting involved everywhere, the number two pick had three clearances, four tackles, two inside 50s, 22 pressure acts and three intercept possessions. Despite this, he was messy with his disposals including seven turnovers and a 61 per cent disposal efficiency. Though beneath Brisbane’s stranglehold, the youngster was still able to collect six contested possessions and 12 uncontested, breaking even with his time on either end of the ground. A strong showing by the young man in a struggling side.

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 12

THE 2017 draft crop are playing some impressive football in the middle of the season, as Rising Star favourite Jaidyn Stephenson continues his great form, as does a number of mature-age stars and high draft picks.

Jaidyn Stephenson

In Collingwood’s terrific Queens Birthday victory over the Demons, top 10 draft pick Jaidyn Stephenson again showed extremely impressive signs. Spending the entire day almost isolated in the Magpie forward line (93 percent time in the forward half), the former Eastern Rangers product kicked another bag of goals, this time ending the day with four. His speed off the mark has always been one of Jaidyn’s biggest strengths and it was again on show on the big stage of the Big Freeze match. He took five marks for the game, including four inside 50, gained 271 metres and was involved in nine Collingwood scores. His defensive pressure was also impressive, which saw him lay six tackles (four tackles inside 50) and show great endurance (playing 103 of a possible 122 minutes on-field). Although his kicking will need to be worked on, having recorded a disposal efficiency of 50 percent from his 12 disposals and kicking three behinds. However, Stephenson has endured a super start to his AFL career, with his impact per possession high.

Charlie Spargo

Spargo’s game got off to a slow start against the Pies, as he looked to find his feet, playing in front of easily the biggest crowd of his career. He failed to record a disposal until after quarter time, but a prolific second term saw him finish the game with a major-statistic line which read – 12 disposals (five kicks and seven handballs), four marks, seven tackles (three inside 50) and a behind. Deployed in his natural role as a small forward, Spargo applied a heap of defensive pressure (also finished with 23 pressure acts) and worried the opposition with his speed. Spargo continues to build on his numbers each week, despite playing in a potentially difficult role for a draftee.

Bayley Fritsch

Bayley Fritsch once again proved himself at the home of football, producing a solid performance in a loosing side. Strength overhead is a real feature of Fritsch’s game, along with his tackling intensity. In the air, Fritsch was extremely strong, considering his light frame, tallying nine marks (two inside 50 and one contested). His speed, run and carry was important in linking up play from the wing into the forward 50, gaining 454 metres for the match. The former Casey forward was also typically sound with his skills, registering a disposal efficiency of 84 per cent. 

Stefan Giro

In just his second game in the purple and white of Fremantle, South Australian boy Stefan Giro had a couple of great moments which would have impressed the Dockers coaching staff. Playing across the midfield in an outside-leaning role, Giro’s effectiveness by hand was a prominent feature in his game. He was reasonably clean at ground level and did not miss a target with his handballs. Giro spent only 66 per cent of the game on-ground, but ran hard when he got his chances, expanding out to all areas of Optus Stadium to collect his possessions. Giro concluded the successful outing with 18 disposals (seven kicks and eleven handballs at a superb 89 percent disposal efficiency), two marks and two tackles. As the Dockers continue to blood their youth, expect the long haired Stefan Giro to combine with fellow 2017 draftees Bailey Banfield, Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw in the midfield for the remainder of the season and beyond.

Adam Cerra

In a performance that could potentially see him collect a few Brownlow votes, Adam Cerra proved why he was regarded so highly coming into the 2017 National Draft. In what was no doubt his best showing at AFL level to date in the Docker’s three-point win against the Crows, Cerra was deployed in the midfield and across half-back, where he was able to set up play with his silky foot skills. Last year’s fifth overall pick amassed a career-high 30 disposals (at 70 per cent disposal efficiency), eight intercept possessions, six marks (including two contested), eight inside 50s and four tackles. He showed terrific versatility, vision, composure and class, proving to be instrumental in the Dockers dismantling the Crows at Optus Stadium. Since debuting in round two, Cerra has looked right at home at the level, slotting into a relatively inexperienced Dockers side and immediately providing them with a Rolls Royce type future star.

Tim Kelly

Kelly is fast becoming one of Geelong’s most dependable players, having so far contributed more than what was expected of him as a supporting act to the trio of Dangerfield, Selwood and Ablett. This weekend, in the win over North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium, Kelly managed 19 disposals (11 of which were contested at an impressive 79 per cent disposal efficiency), five marks, four tackles and a goal in his role as an inside ball winner. Kelly was typically dynamic around the stoppages, finishing with five clearances, proving instrumental in getting the ball moving in Geelong’s direction. Another draft masterstroke by the Geelong recruiting staff, Kelly must surely be considered one of the best mature-aged pickups in recent drafts.

Charlie Ballard

Despite his side getting trounced by the Giants, Gold Coast’s South Australian draftee Charlie Ballard showed some positive signs, playing in a role across the wing which saw him also spend plenty of time in the backlines. Ballard’s nine contested possessions were a highlight, given his slim build and the fact he spent most of his under-age career as an outside type. Perhaps the Suns officials see him as more of a big-bodied, balanced midfielder once he further develops. His 10 intercept possessions were also good to see, with his overhead marking and ability to read the play standing out. Look for Ballard to be played in a wide variety of positions, such is his versatility.

Matt Guelfi

Essendon’s Matt Guelfi continued his solid start to life in the big league with a 17-disposal, two-mark, three-tackle and one-goal showing in the win over Brisbane. Guelfi found 67 per cent of his possessions in the defensive half of the Gabba, contributing to multiple Bomber attacks off the half-back line (three rebound-50’s and two intercept possessions), whilst amassing nine disposals on either wing. Guelfi was effective by foot, finishing with a 71 per cent disposal efficiency – an area of his game which he has clearly spent time working on back at Essendon’s Windy Hill base. The Western Australian’s 22 pressure acts, three tackles, eight contested possessions and six score involvements were also worth noting.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 8

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.

Ben Ronke

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.

Isaac Cumming

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.

Brayden Ainsworth

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.

Lochie O’Brien

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.

Ed Phillips

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.

Andrew Brayshaw

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.

Adam Cerra

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.

Tom McCartin

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.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 6

THERE were debuts galore in Round 6 of the AFL, as a number of 2017 draftees stood out and produced some early glimpses of their talent which they showed in under 18 competitions last year. From first round selections to rookie picks, here are some of the top first year player performances from the weekend.

Charlie Spargo

Small forward/inside midfielder Charlie Spargo endured a winning start to his AFL career in the victory over Essendon at Etihad Stadium. The former Murray Bushranger collected four kicks, 14 handballs, four marks, three tackles and kicked two majors. His terrific football smarts, goal sense and work rate were all on show in the Dee’s forward-50. Teaming up with fellow 2017 draftee Bayley Fritsch, the pair look set to spend plenty of time together in the Demons forward line throughout 2018 and seasons to come.

Bayley Fritsch

After playing a major role in the Demons first month of the season, Bayley Fritsch was dropped for the round five before returning to the senior side for the Sunday afternoon clash with Essendon. The week off from AFL football certainly did the job, with the Casey Demon draftee booting a career-high three goals, to go with 14 disposals at an impressive 86 per cent efficiency, eight marks (including three contested and three inside 50s) and 435 metres gained. He is shaping as one of the better later pick ups from the 2017 National Draft.

James Worpel

Hawthorn’s James Worpel was also included in the Hawks 22 for the first time on the weekend. The inside midfielder who is renowned for his inside grunt work spent much of the game in the midfield, tallying 13 disposals at 85 per cent efficiency and three tackles. He additionally sent the ball inside 50s on three occasions. Worpel joined fellow inside midfielders Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara in the centre of the ground, who he will no-doubt have learned plenty from over the summer. Expect to see more of the tough, combative contested ball-winner.

Bailey Banfield

The West Australian had 14 disposals, two marks and 14 tackles in Fremantle’s loss to West Coast in his home state. It might have been weird for Eagles fans to see a Banfield in the purple and white, but he showed off his hard nature, winning 10 contested possessions, two inside 50s and a clearance.

Jack Higgins

Opposed to fellow first-year player Flynn Appleby, Higgins had a memorable first term, finding space to kick a goal from the square and begin his trademark celebrations. He won a free seconds later when he was knocked over by Collingwood defender Lynden Dunn, finishing with a second goal in a minute. He had 13 disposals (nine contested), one mark, two tackles and three inside 50s for the game.

Andrew Brayshaw

Another solid outing for the number two draft pick from last year, notching up 14 disposals, two marks, four tackles and booting a goal for the Dockers in Fremantle’s narrow Western Derby defeat. Brayshaw has been a consistent performer in his first season, also having two inside 50s in the match.

Flynn Appleby

A late call-up to the Collingwood side for their clash with Richmond at the MCG, the former GWV Rebels defender did not look overawed on the huge occasion in front of a packed house. Appleby’s first touch was a lunging spoil away from fellow youngster Jack Higgins, and his day included a bone-crunching tackle on Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin. Appleby finished with eight disposals (five contested), one mark and three tackles, but his efforts away from the stats sheet were impressive.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 5

ROUND FIVE was huge for the first year players, with plenty stepping up to earn a spot on this weekly list. Most of the names here have been seen before, but we give credit when it is due. We’re hoping to see some fresh faces in the coming rounds and for the players below to ramp up their game more and more with every passing round. There are still plenty of rounds left so there’s no telling what could come next.

Tim Kelly

Kelly played some outstanding football against the Power over the weekend. In all he picked up 20 disposals, of which half were contested with an 80 per cent efficiency. He displayed 27 pressure acts, laid five tackles, kicked a goal, had four clearances and three score involvements. Kelly is a well-rounded player and has demonstrated countless times that he can do plenty to help his side. He has also kicked at least one goal a game since the start of the season showing his reliability and consistency thus far.

Adam Cerra

Cerra is well on his way to becoming a fan favourite at Optus Stadium. He has shown some incredible promise on game day, with the Bulldogs clash being no different. Cerra snagged himself 15 disposals (four contested) at an 87 percent efficiency. He also went on to kick two goals with eight total score involvements. Cerra is smooth around the football with incredible composure at the elite level. He works hard around the contests, illustrated through his impressive 24 pressure acts and four tackles (two inside 50s). This medium forward is being developed by the right team it seems with impressive first years all throughout the side.

Jaidyn Stephenson

His efficiency could use some work, but he is getting his opportunities and making most of them count. Capping off his game with 15 disposals, four contested and two goals, Stephenson went hard in the ANZAC match. He picks his spots and moments well, and capitalises well off errors. He had 19 disposals and four tackles for the game in all. He is continuing to make his mark as a forward for Collingwood and is doing so with an intense attack on the game.

Mitch Crowden

Fremantle’s first years have been dominating the competition so far. Along with his fellow draftees, Crowden is playing very efficient football. With 17 disposals at an 88 per cent efficiency, Crowden is continuing to perform at a high standard. His presence throughout the ground is clear, laying five tackles, 21 pressure acts and having nine score involvements. Developing alongside the likes of Cerra and Brayshaw, Crowden is likely to become part of the next biggest elite midfield for the AFL.

Nick Coffield

Once again, Coffield showed off his patented smooth, clean football. With excellent composure on and around the ball, Coffield is providing some much-needed efficiency around the midfield. In total, he finished with 18 disposals at an 83 per cent efficiency, with five score involvements. He is working hard to earn his spot within the side and it shows on the field. Hopefully his efforts remain at this level for a long time.

Andrew Brayshaw

A fair game for Brayshaw with 17 disposals, four contested at a 71 percent efficiency. The number two pick in the 2017 National AFL Draft is slowly evolving to suit the elite level. He performed well off and on the ball, laying five tackles, 17 pressure acts with three score involvements. Brayshaw needs to polish up his footy in some areas as shown through his five turnovers. However, if he continues to work, he is well on his way to one day dominating the game.

Lachie Fogarty

Geelong’s new recruits are hard to separate from the rest of their side due to their elite performances. In their match against Port, Fogarty had an excellent run of it. While 17 disposals with nine contested is a decent stat, it’s Fogarty’s ten tackles that really caught my eye, all of which were completed without giving away a free. He also slotted away a goal and had five score involvements. Fogarty is developing well with Geelong and should be watched closely in the coming years.

Matt Guelfi

After a stellar debut in round four, Guelfi managed earn a spot in the side for the Anzac Day match in just his second game. A surprise prospect for Essendon, Guelfi has shown no issue adapting to the elite level. A 15-disposal game at 87 per cent efficiency made him a highlight for a struggling Bombers. He had an impressive four intercept possessions as well as 20 pressure acts. With a better Essendon side, it is likely his performance will only improve.

Paddy Dow

Dow attacked the football hard over the weekend, racking up 15 disposals (11 contested) with an 80 per cent efficiency. He is a highlight for Carlton, and it is good to see his efforts still high despite a slow start to the season. Dow is fierce around the contests, with an impressive seven clearances on the weekend, only second to Patrick Cripps (eight). He laid three tackles and had five score involvements. Dow is a confident footballer who knows how to back himself. Hopefully we continue to see his level of football continue to rise in the coming years.

Lochie O’Brien

O’Brien showed some great promise in his second game in the navy blue. The number 10 draft pick played some efficient football, running at 73 per cent efficiency  from his 15 disposals (six contested). He had a few good midfield clearances, laid three tackles and earned plenty of the ball off Carlton’s flanks. With his athletic background, O’Brien should be fine to earn more of the football in the coming games.

Cam Rayner

Despite his efficiency in goal kicking, the number one pick again showed great attack on the ball in the forward half. Kicking one goal and two behinds, Rayner earned a handful of opportunities to score big, but continues to fail on the execution. He is a standout for the Lions and is slowly developing a unique brand of football. He is hungry around the ball as demonstrated through six contested possessions out of a total of 11. He needs to improve his efficiency further, but it can be explained through his high number of contested possesions.

Keeping tabs: Standout draftees from Round 2

ROUND two provided many young draftees with the chance to improve upon their debut games. With nine clubs playing in front of their home crowd for the first time in 2018, fans finally got to see their new players up close. Many of the draftees put in some greatly improved performances this Easter Weekend. 

Luke Davies-Uniacke 

Davies-Uniacke impressed for North Melbourne in their Good Friday victory over St.Kilda. In what was certainly a scrappy game, ‘LDU’ laid five tackles, had 16 disposals and took three marks. His delivery by foot was excellent, recording a disposal efficiency of 75 per cent. Having spent time as an outside and inside midfielder, Davies-Uniacke’s in-and-under stoppage work was a highlight, totalling four clearances whilst also managing nine contested possessions. In what could be a tough year for the Kangaroos, Luke Davies-Uniacke will certainly give fans something to get excited about for the future.

Adam Cerra

Taken with pick five of last year’s national draft, Fremantle’s Adam Cerra made his debut in Optus Stadium’s purple christening. The classy onballer showcased why clubs rated him so highly as he collected nine disposals at 78 pe rcent efficiency and did not record a turnover. Spending most of the night up forward, Cerra kicked two goals and took three marks inside 50, proving his ability in attack. He seemed to make a positive impact with every possession against Essendon and will no-doubt continue to feature for Fremantle in 2018.

Andrew Brayshaw

After a heavy debut loss to Port at the Adelaide Oval, Brayshaw appeared more comfortable in front of the Dockers faithful. Playing on-ball in his 65 percent time on ground, he was not flashy but recorded 16 disposals, had 23 pressure acts (second for the Dockers behind debutant Mitch Crowden), four intercept possessions, five tackles and six inside 50s. As he looks to spend more time on ground in the coming weeks, expect Brayshaw to continue to fit in well at AFL level. 

Darcy Fogarty

Darcy Fogarty also made his home debut this round, in what was one of the biggest games of the season. In trademark fashion, Fogarty crashed plenty of packs, applied serious forward pressure and certainly let the Tigers defenders know of his presence. One particular incident saw ‘Fog’ hit premiership player Josh Caddy, making him earn his mark. As the game progressed, Fogarty was involved in a number of fiery incidents and he certainly did not back down. He calmly slotted two set shots which never looked like missing, demonstrating his terrific foot skills. Only recorded the seven disposals, but Fogarty took five marks and looks set to wreck havoc for opposition defences, building a formidable partnership with skipper Taylor Walker.  

Aaron Naughton

The Bulldogs key defender had his work cut out for him in round one, opposed to Giants forwards Jeremy Cameron for parts of the day. However, with superstar Josh Kennedy out for the Eagles, Naughton’s second game proved to be an easier one. He collected 12 disposals at 67 percent efficiency, six intercept possessions, seven marks (including two contested marks), 10 score involvements and sent the ball inside 50 on three occasions. For a key position player, Naughton has made a good, solid start to his AFL career, There’s little doubt he will continue to improve as he gains further experience. 

Liam Ryan

In just his second game, Liam Ryan starred in what was a fantastic victory for the West Coast Eagles. Ryan, taken from WAFL club Subiaco with pick 26 in the 2017 AFL National Draft, recorded 93 per cent of his 14 disposals in the attacking half, finishing the game with three majors. His aerial prowess was on display with three of his six marks being contested, including one screamer late in the opening quarter. The day could’ve been even more productive, considering he totalled three behinds. After years of being looked over by AFL clubs, Ryan is beginning to repay the Eagles recruiters. He has slotted seamlessly into the Eagles forward line, forming one half of a dangerous, electrifying duo with Willie Rioli, who made his debut on Sunday afternoon.

Tim Kelly

The mature-aged recruit continued his great form from round one with a sensational game against Hawthorn in the Easter Monday blockbuster. Kelly amasssed 27 disposals, six marks, four tackles and booted a goal, to be one of Geelong’s best in a high-pressure game. His 13 contested possessions were telling, also finishing the match with four clearances and seven inside 50s, looking as if he was more a 10-year veteran than a first year player.

Keeping tabs: Standout draftees from Round 1

ROUND one of the AFL kicked-off and with it came some familiar faces making the step up from the TAC Cup and National Under 18 Championships up into the big time. Fans got the opportunity to see how some of the new boys picked up during the off season fit in with their beloved clubs. There were some outstanding performances by the debutantes. These players adjusted well to the elite level and we got the chance to see how they might fair for the rest of the season. In what will become a weekly feature, Keeping tabs will track the progress of draftees and name the top performers from the weekend.

Bayley Fritsch

Fritsch opened Melbourne’s scoring with his first goal. It started the Demons off toward a fierce forward attack, and in the end, they came close to taking the win. The 21 year-old did not have much of the football after Geelong got tighter on the ball but he laid five important tackles and earned himself four contested possessions. His efficiency was a little under par but with some time he should see some improvements and develop some consistency.

Cam Rayner
The number one pick for the 2017 National Draft pulled on the boots for Brisbane on Saturday as they took on St Kilda at Etihad Stadium. He spent most of his time in the forward line, earning himself four contested possessions and a brilliantly crumbed goal. Running around in Jonathan Brown’s old jumper, Rayner did not shy away from the ball and attacked every play with ruthless intensity. He crashed the packs and demonstrated his potential as a key forward player. With some adjusting, Rayner should only become more damaging as a player as the season progresses.

Jaidyn Stephenson
Stephenson played some outstanding footy against Hawthorn on Saturday night. Looking comfortable at the elite level, Stephenson finished the game with 16 disposals and five contested possessions. His passing was clean and he did not shy away from taking on his man. He laid an impressive tackle along his forward 50 and smothered the ball off the kick after it spilled out. He was a highlight for Collingwood and was unfortunate not to top it off with a win.

Hunter Clark
Clark marched out with the Saints to take on the Lions in his first ever AFL match. He began the game a little shy around the ball, but was smooth enough with it when it found his hands. He positioned himself well around plays and demonstrated a few effective hand-passes to get the Saints out of congestion. With sharp kicking, Hunter was consistent in hitting his man, and even picked himself up his first goal for his career. He had a total of 12 disposals with a 75 percent efficiency. In time, Clark could see himself developing his slick brand of footy with the Saints and cement his spot in their best 22.

Darcy Fogarty
Fogarty came out the gate galloping with Crows in his first three appearances. He kicked one goal in his first JLT game against the Dockers, and three in his second against Port. He kept this intensity alive going into Round One against Essendon, kicking two goals in his first  AFL match. With only the six disposals, Fogarty managed to inflict some damage on the Bombers. He went hard at the ball and put pressure on his opposition. Fogarty is a forward in the making, and if he keeps up this level of football, could see himself take home the serious awards during his AFL career.

Lachie Fogarty
Fogarty’s effort may have been a bit overshadowed by the return of Gary Ablett, but Geelong’s young guns produced some enormous efforts. Fogarty capped his game off with 20 disposals and 10 contested possessions. He had a 70 per cent disposal efficiency, four intercept possessions and kicked a goal. At pick 22 in the 2017 AFL National Draft, Fogarty played a far more damaging role for his side than other clubs may have anticipated. He was a decent utility throughout the game for Geelong and has the potential to go far in his career if he uses the Cats’ current midfield group as the standard he needs to reach.

Tim Kelly
Another first gamer for Geelong, Kelly smashed expectations with his first game. The South Australian applied some good pressure, hit his man, kicked his first goal and ended the game with a brilliant 27 disposals. He was a star for Geelong as seen through his 70 per cent efficiency. He adapted well to match their elite level of football and earned himself an outstanding 13 contested possessions, only second to Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver. This young man was outstanding overall, and played like a seasoned AFL player.

Andrew Brayshaw
The number two draft selection had a solid outing in his debut game, racking up 12 disposals for Fremantle in the Dockers’ heavy loss to Port Adelaide. Brayshaw had four kicks and eight handballs, along with two clearances, running at 75 per cent disposal efficiency. Throw in three marks and two tackles from 66 per cent time on ground, Brayshaw made the most of his time on the big stage.

TAC Cup preview: Sandringham Dragons

SANDRINGHAM Dragons were only a kick away from winning back-to-back TAC Cup titles last year, and with plenty of top talent in 2018 – they will be looking to make it three consecutive Grand Final berths. The Dragons produced seven draftees last year, headlined by Andrew Brayshaw – who was drafted by Fremantle with the second pick overall. 2018 will see the Dragons put out a taller team than previous seasons and hold two of the best key position players in the entire 2018 draft pool in the King twins.

The Haileybury College students Max & Ben both tower over 200cm and the AFL Academy members will be right in the mix as top five selections for the 2018 draft. Bailey Smith’s superb season across half-back and in the midfield, pushed him into the AFL Academy squad and the Dragons’ 2018 captain will be looking to progress into a full-time midfielder during the season. Smith’s bottom-age year was headlined by his 44 disposal, 13 inside 50s and 10 clearances game against Western Jets in Round 14 of the 2017 TAC Cup.

Another player that will feature heavily in the Dragons’ pursuit for success will be North Melbourne father-son prospect Joel Crocker (son of Darren). The rangy hybrid midfielder impressed last year at school football for Brighton Grammar playing in defence and is a good ball user by foot. The agile Crocker missed the latter parts of the Dragons 2017 campaign due to an ankle injury, but expect him to feature prominently this season.

Nineteen year-old 200cm tall Joe Griffiths might be one to keep an eye on, coming to the TAC Cup club for the first time after the boarder performed well in the ruck for Geelong Grammar at school football, earning him a State Combine invite. Ethan Casey will also return from an ACL injury and will battle it out in the ruck alongside vice-captain James Rendell (son of Fitzroy and Brisbane ruckman Matt). There’s no doubting opposition teams will need to have plenty of tall timber to combat the Dragons team.

Tom Long, Alastair Richards, Liam Stocker, Harry Houlahan and Ryan Macdermid are a handful of players who had experience as bottom-agers and they will be looking to progress their football in 2018. Angus Hanrahan (brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie) is another player who performed well at school football for St Kevin’s College in 2017, and might be a player to track during the year. Alongside Hanrahan, Rendell and Crocker – there are some other familiar last names down at the Dragons with Finn Maginness (son of Hawthorn premiership player Scott), Jai Florent (brother of Sydney’s Ollie), Jeremy Goddard (brother of St Kilda’s Hugh), Jackson Voss (son of former Saint Brett) and Tyson Milne (son of former St Kilda goalsneak Steven).

2017 Stats:

2017 Summary:

The Dragons were not far off back-to-back premierships in a see-sawing TAC Cup Grand Final that saw them come from 20 points down at three-quarter time to nearly storm home and get the win, after Geelong Falcons small forward Gryan Miers booted seven goals. They begun the season with a bang at Ikon Park, with bottom-age forward Max King bagging six marks and booting four goals. Hamish Brayshaw returned in the second half of the season after VFL commitments for Sandringham Zebras and used his power in the middle of the ground to push the Dragons side deep into the finals, eventually helping the 19 year-old find himself on an AFL list by the end of the year. Although they lost some games throughout the season that they ultimately should’ve won, the ‘next man up’ attitude at the Dragons saw them able to cover their losses during the season when the APS and AGSV school football commitments popped up.

2018 Snapshot:

The Dragons begin the season at Skybus Stadium in Frankston against Northern Knights, before playing the Oakleigh Chargers and Calder Cannons before school football season kicks-off. If the Dragons can win all three winnable games, it should set them up for the season that will see them juggle plenty of squad members as best as they can. With the Dragons’ strong squad, if they can avoid having to play off during the ‘Wildcard’ round in the lead up to finals, they should be able to progress deep into September for yet another year.

2018 Fixture:

Sandringham Dragons 2018

2018-03-24 13:30:54March 24, 2018 Northern Knights vs Sandringham Dragons27 - 72Frankston OvalRecap
2018-03-31 13:30:16March 31, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Oakleigh Chargers89 - 66Rams ArenaRecap
2018-04-08 10:45:57April 8, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Calder Cannons100 - 77Trevor Barker OvalRecap
2018-04-21 14:30:07April 21, 2018 Murray Bushrangers vs Sandringham Dragons138 - 73Norm Minns OvalRecap
2018-04-28 10:30:59April 28, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Western Jets57 - 89Trevor Barker OvalRecap
2018-05-13 13:00:57May 13, 2018 Gippsland Power vs Sandringham Dragons138 - 29Morwell Recreational ReserveRecap
2018-05-20 14:00:25May 20, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Geelong Falcons60 - 42Trevor Barker OvalRecap
2018-06-03 10:45:15June 3, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Sandringham Dragons105 - 28Shepley OvalRecap
2018-06-23 10:30:51June 23, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Sandringham Dragons58 - 61Warrawee ParkRecap
2018-06-30 12:00:14June 30, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Eastern Ranges54 - 32Trevor Barker OvalRecap
2018-07-07 14:00:19July 7, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Northern Knights66 - 39Trevor Barker OvalRecap
2018-07-15 14:00:06July 15, 2018 Geelong Falcons vs Sandringham Dragons69 - 71MARS StadiumRecap
2018-07-29 14:30:37July 29, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Bendigo Pioneers48 - 40Trevor Barker OvalRecap
2018-08-04 10:45:48August 4, 2018 Eastern Ranges vs Sandringham Dragons56 - 66Box Hill City OvalRecap
2018-08-19 15:00:52August 19, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Sandringham Dragons88 - 32Avalon Airport OvalRecap
2018-08-25 10:30:50August 25, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Sandringham Dragons 10:30:5010:30 amTrevor Barker OvalPreview

Young stars Rising up to AFL challenge

EVERY club is excited with the young talent in their team and with round one approaching we have taken a look at which players could step up and progress from the under 18s – or their first season in the AFL – and be the standout young talent at the elite level. From an already premiership player to a few top five five draft picks, there is no shortage of contenders for the 2018 AFL Rising Star Award and here are a few to look out for this year.

Jack Graham

The Richmond young gun was picked at number 53 in the 2016 AFL National Draft and has already had one year of experience in the AFL, remarkably winning a premiership with the Tigers which will help him to thrive and play to his absolute best in the Richmond midfield. He was a standout in the Grand Final, kicking three goals, while keeping Adelaide star Rory Sloane quiet. Graham is one of the favourites to take out the 2018 AFL Rising Star award, and it would be surprising not to see him at least poll some votes from the judges at the end of the season.

Paddy Dow

Carlton’s prized number three draft pick in last years draft, Paddy Dow from the Bendigo Pioneers is another one of the favourites tipped to win the 2018 AFL Rising Star Award. The young blue has the full package in he is a powerful, classy midfielder who can impact the scoreboard. He is a huge accumulator of the ball and knows how perform on the big stage. He showcased some of what he has to offer during both AFLX and the JLT Community Series. Dow’s long repertoire of skills will be on display, and is primed to play and be a young leader in a young up-and-coming side.

Jaidyn Stephenson

Collingwood have found themselves a player that has some X-factor with pick six in last year’s draft. The former Eastern Ranges enigma is a great runner who is both quick and has the tank to run out four quarters of footy . He was a playmaker during the TAC Cup in 2017, averaging 5.2 inside 50s and 3.9 clearances, and was a danger every time he went up forward, something Collingwood is hoping he can do in 2018. His X-factor trait is the explosiveness in Stephenson game style, which will likely see him up in the top 10 of the AFL Rising Star Award.

Oliver Florent

Oliver Florent was picked by Sydney Swans in the 2016 AFL National Draft with pick 11. After only playing a handful of games in 2017, Florent is still eligible to win the Rising Star in 2018. The former Dragon is a lively half-forward who can make something out of nothing. At the 2016 AFL Draft Combine he recorded the equal highest beep test (15.1)  Florent will fit in nicely to a regenerating Swans side, and add another dimension to an already star forward line with Buddy Franklin and Isaac Heeney. 

Luke Davies-Uniacke

North Melbourne’s Luke Davies-Uniacke from the Dandenong Stingrays, was picked with the fourth pick in the 2017 AFL National Draft. He is a classy player with all the characteristics of an contested ball winning and game breaking midfielder. Davies-Uniacke wins the ball similar to Sydney’s Josh Kennedy and models his marking on Luke Parker. North Melbourne’s Recruiting Officer Ben Birthisel, said Davies-Uniacke is “really good at accumulating the footy around the ground and his ability to consistently stand-up in big games has really made him stand-out amongst this year’s group. His elimination final against Eastern Ranges was super, and he’s another who’s gone forward and hit the scoreboard and is strong overhead.”  Look to see him in the top three in the Rising Star award.

Cam Rayner

Brisbane’s prized number one draft pick, Cam Rayner from the Western Jets, is another who will see plenty of game time in the 2017. His game style is compared to Richmond star Dustin Martin. Andrew Hamilton from the Courier Mail compares Rayner to ‘Dusty’ “because of his explosiveness and brutal fend-off.”  Rayner had the nickname “Hollywood” at his Junior football club, Hillside, because of his “goalkicking flair”.  So with his ability to impress, expect him at seasons end to be in the top three vote-getters of the AFL Rising Star Award.

Alex Witherden

Lions young gun Alex Witherden was selected by Brisbane with pick number 23 in the 2016 AFL National Draft. Witherden played nine of the final ten games for the season, only missing Round 21 because of injury. He was a standout in his first season in defence at the Lions, and especially in his debut match against the GWS Giants in Round 14 “where he collected 20 disposals, 12 kicks and seven marks.” In his impressive debut season, Witherden “averaged 23.6 disposals, 15.9 kicks and 5.3 marks” and therefore he was 17th “on the 2017 Rising Star Nomination tally.”  In 2018, he is tipped to finish in the top two of the AFL Rising Star award. If Witherden plays the whole season and continues with his great form in defence from 2017, he will take out the AFL Rising Star Award or at least in the top five because he will be playing against other very young talented superstars.

Andrew Brayshaw

Sandringham Dragons’ Andrew Brayshaw was taken by Fremantle with pick two in last year’s National Draft. Brayshaw’s is renowned for being “a hard worker, neat user of the ball and a superb decision maker.” His kicking is top notch and in the TAC Cup he averaged nearly seven tackles a game. Brayshaw is a versatile player who can have a significant impact whichever position he plays in, as he can not only play in the midfield, but can play as a half-back flanker and move forward when required. He had a great AFL National Draft Combine, where he showcased a rare mix of speed and elite endurance capping off an outstanding 2017 season. Look to see Brayshaw in the top five of the AFL Rising Star award, due to his versatility as a player and his incredible footy IQ .