Tag: Cam Rayner

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 23

For some, it’s the last game of footy they’ll play until 2019. For others, they’ll be playing the most important games of footy they’ve ever faced. In our last Keeping Tabs, we look back on a few familiar faces, where they sit for the season, and pay our usual respects to this round’s top performers.

Tim Kelly

Though ineligible to win the NAB Rising Star Award, Kelly without a doubt was 2018’s best first year player. Averaging 23.1 disposals, four clearances, three tackles and three inside 50s across 22 games, Geelong’s newest recruit tallied up 23 goals, placing as the Cat’s fourth highest goal kicker for the season (one behind Patrick Dangerfield). In Round 23, Kelly maintained his class. His power showed out of stoppages, as he collected three clearances and an exciting goal around the body. He finished with two more goals (100 per cent efficiency) and nine score involvements for the afternoon, plus 23 possessions (seven contested) at a disposal efficiency of 74 per cent. Kelly was able to beat his stat sheet on the weekend, taking eight marks (two inside 50s), boasted 24 pressure acts and four inside 50s. Give him one more season, and Kelly could be named in the 40-man All-Australian squad. Though you could argue he was stiff not to get a nod this season, if the Cats claw their way to the end of September, a Norm Smith conversation might not be off the cards either.

Zac Bailey

Bailey injected real class into the Brisbane Lions’ line-up this year, Bailey put on another show for onlookers against the Eagles. Clean with ball in hand, Bailey finished with 20 possessions (six contested) and a list-high 85 per cent disposal efficiency. His first quarter started well, kicking a goal on the run from 30 metres out, and later adding his second in the third quarter (six score involvements). He was able to showcase his strong marking ability, with four marks on the weekend. Bailey topped off an already impressive performance with two tackles, three inside 50s, 364 metres gained, and earned three free kicks. The Lions know what they’re doing with their crop. With Cam Rayner, Hugh McCluggage, Eric Hipwood, Alex Witherden and Bailey, the future’s looking strong for Brisbane.

Aaron Naughton

Though having a few stints up forward this season, it seems Naughton’s continued reliability in the backline was again too much to pass up. Earning himself the final NAB Rising Star nomination for the year, the dependable defender played his role well in minimising Richmond’s forward onslaught. He collected 18 disposals (12 contested) at a 78 per cent disposal efficiency. Naughton took nine marks (five contested) and 12 intercept possessions with only one turnover. He sits atop the Bulldogs list for intercept possessions at 112, but only 54th in the competition. If the Bulldogs remained more consistent with Naughton’s role, perhaps he would have placed higher and received the Rising Star nomination earlier. Nevertheless, his impact is unmistakable, sustaining good football across 23 rounds.

Liam Ryan

Ryan’s game has much to be admired. He’s proven himself as a talented goal kicker (17 goals in 10 games), a slick mover with the ball, and generally just adds a lot of flavour to the plays he produces. Unsurprisingly, this game was no different. The 21-year-old kicked three goals for the game (six score involvements) and collected nine of his 12 possessions out of a contest. His disposal efficiency was a little poor at 58 per cent, but his goal sense and one-on-one work put him above, taking four marks (two contested) and laying four tackles. West Coast are going into the finals with a confident and talented forward line, with Ryan and Willie Rioli adding unfathomable amounts of finesse and agility. Their inclusion this season has made the Eagles a much more dynamic side than the one we saw in 2017.

James Worpel

Taking up the role of Hawthorn’s resident hothead in James Sicily’s absence, Worpel continued to play his footy with great intensity. His work through the midfield proved damaging, collecting 23 possessions (nine contested) at a solid 78 per cent disposal efficiency. He kicked an easy goal from a dropped mark off a Sydney kick-in, had seven score involvements and one goal assist. He worked well going forward with three clearances, four inside 50s and two marks in front of goal. He also had two tackles, 13 pressure acts, five intercept possessions, and two rebound 50s. His work rate was up for four quarters, positioning and using his body well in the contest. 

Jack Higgins

It seems Richmond’s wins at the MCG are getting slimmer with each round heading into September. Higgins expressed his frustrations early on, but found his head and maintained a strong presence in assisting Richmond’s win. The personable youngster collected 18 possessions (nine contested) at 61 per cent disposal efficiency, as well as seven score involvements and two goal assists. His clever tap-down to Jason Castagna inside 50 created an important goal in the third, making up part of his five one per centers for the game. Richmond envisioned a small-forward/midfield role in 2017 for this prospect and showed great interest in his game-average five tackles. This year, the Tigers were able to get what they wanted as Higgins topped his game with 28 pressure acts, and five tackles (three inside 50). With his speed, instincts, pressure and goal sense, Higgins should be well on his way to stardom.

Ben Paton

Paton gave St Kilda something to look at come selection next season with a stellar third-game performance. He gathered 16 disposals (seven contested) and peaked his kicking efficiency at 88.9 per cent with nine kicks. He earned himself a goal (five score involvements and one goal assist), took three marks, laid two tackles and had 19 pressure acts. In such a chaotic game of football, it’s impressive to see a young player hold their nerve and keep their efficiency at such an elevated level. 

Lochie O’Brien

This weekend O’Brien got himself to a lot of the footy even with Carlton’s inability to do much with it. Collecting 22 disposals (four contested) at 58 per cent disposal efficiency, the young Blue maintained a strong presence around the ground, finishing third behind Marc Murphy and Patrick Cripps in possessions. The No.10 pick finished with four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and four rebound 50s. It probably wasn’t the most ideal way to close out an already poor season, but O’Brien may take solace in now having 18 games under his belt come 2019. If the Blues can strengthen their list, they’ll have a better chance of strengthening their draft crop.

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 22

ANOTHER impressive debutant joined the list of first year players who adapted to the level, while a mature-aged star just continues to exceed expectations.

Tim Kelly

Every week this guy turns up and proceeds to tear it up. Can you honestly believe it is his first year in the AFL system? In the Cats demolition of a hapless Fremantle outfit, Kelly’s stat line once again left us all mesmerised. He collected 26 disposals (14 kicks and 12 handballs at 73 per cent disposal efficiency), three marks, three goals, five clearances, six tackles, seven inside 50s and 515 metres gained. Yet again, his stoppage work and ability to seriously hit the scoreboard when going forward, was brilliant. The Western Australian’s impact this year has been right up there with Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett.

James Worpel

After watching the Hawks/Saints clash expecting somewhat of a snooze-fest, the performance of James Worpel really caught my attention. A premiership captain with TAC Cup club Geelong Falcons, Worpel has transitioned beautifully into the midfield of another successful club. The blonde-haired ‘Worpedo’ impressed with his aggression and attack on the footy. After one tackle, the umpire even asked him to calm it down – not a normal conversation to be had with a first-year player. Worpel finished with 27 disposals (15 kicks and 12 handballs at 52 per cent disposal efficiency), three marks, one goal, 481 metres gained, five clearances, three tackles, six inside 50s and a number of seriously powerful stiff-arms. The Hawks have unearthed yet another talent.

Cam Rayner

Rayner is quickly becoming a fan favourite up at the Gabba and is showing strong signs why he is rated so highly among regular underage football viewers and scouts alike. While he does not collect as much of the ball as some of his fellow draftees, Rayner generally does something positive whenever he does have possession. Once again, his leap allowed him to impact almost every marking contest he was involved in during the weekends Q-clash. The future star collated 14 touches (eight of which were contested), three marks, one goal (two behinds), three stoppage clearances and four inside 50s. He certainly looks to have added a bit of excitement and X-factor to a Lions side on a steep incline.

Lochie O’Brien

The top 10 draft pick from the 2017 National Draft has fronted up 17 games this season, with his best game of his career coming against the Dogs on Sunday afternoon. O’Brien, who was utilised in an outside-leaning role across the half-back line by senior coach Brendan Bolton, impressed with his cleanness, composure, decision making and precise ball use with his penetrating left-foot. The 19 year-old recruited from the Bendigo Pioneers collected 20 disposals (at a positive 85 per cent disposal efficiency) to go with six marks and a couple of tackles. Carlton will be hoping O’Brien can build on what has been a solid, steady start to what projects to be a long and successful career. Potentially adding some more size to his frame, we could see the athletic O’Brien spend more time in the midfield rotation.

Tom De Koning

It’s never easy for young key position players to make an immediate impact, however Tom De Koning showed some seriously impressive signs on debut during Sunday’s loss to the Dogs. De Koning, or ‘TDK’ as he is commonly referred to, managed 11 disposals (eight of which were contested), five marks (including two contested grabs and two inside-50 marks), three tackles and a goal on the weekend. He had some presence about him around the ground, and held his own when playing in the ruck for a couple of contests. After an impressive start to his infant career, the forward-line partnership between De Koning, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay will prove absolutely critical for the Blues’ as they look to improve.

Aaron Naughton

Just the nine disposals for Naughton in his sides victory over the lowly Blues’, the youngster used the ball terrifically well, recording a disposal efficiency of 89 percent. His kicking action is unusual to say the least, however so far it has proven to work well enough. Naughton, a first round draft pick in 2017, showcased his aerial prowess against an inexperienced, but talented Carlton key forward line featuring Curnow, McKay and De Koning, clunking six marks with two of which were contested.  Having also been utilised in attack by senior coach Luke Beveridge at-times during his rookie year, the WA-products flexibility is a real asset. 

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

IN the past week, we have seen young guns rewarded for their sensational form, and the power of youth at the AFL level, which made for some memorable moments.

Prespakis and Morrison claim joint MVP

The Under 18 Womens National Championships wrapped up last Friday with the Victorian sides proving strongest, losing just one game each. It was only fitting that number one pick contenders Maddy Prespakis of Vic Metro and Nina Morrison of Vic Country were crowned joint MVP’s, and slotted straight into the 48-player All Australian squad. On a successful final day at Bond University, Prespakis led Metro to a comfortable win over Central Allies with arguably her best showing of the carnival. The second game saw hosts Queensland grab their second-straight win with a solid showing against Eastern Allies, while Morrison and Sophie Van De Huevel helped set up a big win for Vic Country over Western Australia. If the talent of these girls is anything to go by, the future of Womens football is incredibly bright – and it will be on full show as the All Australian squad partakes in the curtain raiser to the EJ Whitten Legends game at Adelaide Oval on Friday, August 31.

SA continue domination

Friday also saw the conclusion of the Under 16 Boys National Championships, with South Australia defeating Vic Metro to claim the title outright. Corey Durdin was awarded the Kevin Sheehan Medal and South Australian MVP for his outstanding performances from midfield throughout each of the games. Others to catch the eye for SA were the small and tall forward duo of Isaiah Dudley and Kaine Baldwin, as well as potential Adelaide father-son Luke Edwards. Having been victorious in both the U16 and U18 carnivals, South Australian talent pathways seem to be having the desired effect, with the Western Australian team also looking ominous in a demolition of Vic Country on the final day in Brisbane. With Metro’s victory over Country in Round One the only Victorian win this year, it’s fair to say both sides their work cut out for them if they’re to catch the opposition in two year’s time.

Majak and Aliir steal the show

In a game that saw 31 goals and an abundance of momentum swings, it was Majak Daw and Aliir Allir who stole the show with their enthralling battle throughout Sunday afternoon’s fixture. Despite spending the majority of the game down back matched up against Daw, it was Aliir who stepped up to slot the winning goal for Sydney as they ran out six-point victors. The young Swan merely sweetened an outstanding display, collecting 23 disposals and 10 marks in an awesome display of defensive work rate. Not to be outdone, Daw, who has spent most of his season down back, booted four goals from his six marks (four inside 50) to almost pull North over the line. In an interview with Fox Footy’s Matt Balmer, Aliir said “I think if there were any African kids watching out there today, that was an example of it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can play at the highest level, you can do anything in this country”. Inspiring and important to say the least.

Young Lions continue to grow

A rejuvinated Brisbane side is reaping the rewards of entrsuting its youth with senior responsibility, claiming their third-consecutive win. Stars Hugh McCluggage, Cam Rayner and Jarrod Berry hit the back page of the Courier Mail this week on the back of their form, and an upset 33-point win over Hawthorn at their Tasmanian fortress. With fans and media-types alike showing faith in the battling side, material reward has finally been granted in the form of four points. The Lions now move on to a tough fixture at home against a surging Adelaide outfit, fresh off a season-reviving win over Geelong. It’ll be a good test for the young Lions to see whether they can maintain a month’s worth of good results.

Gasper hits Calder for six

Jake Gasper continued his impressive goalscoring form of late in the TAC Cup with a bag of six against Calder in Round 12 action at the weekend. His half-dozen comes after hauls of three and four against Metro opponents in the previous two rounds, bringing his tally to 27 for the season. Gasper collected 16 disposals, three marks and two tackles to go with his bag of goals. The impressive feat helped Oakleigh to an important 18-point win over fellow top eight contenders Calder, as the likes of bottom-ager Noah Anderson stepped up with three goals and likely Collingwood father-son Will Kelly also pitched in with 21 disposals and eight marks across the back half.

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 17

IT IS not often that we have such a large list of defensive performers in the list, but after this round, we could be looking at the future All-Australian backline. It seems the debutants have embraced extra responsibilities with teams experimenting with positions. The bar has been raised, but the players just keep on coming. The race to the Rising Star award is close and will be hard to call at the end of the season.

Cam Rayner

The wait is finally over – this is Cam Rayner. The last three rounds, with a confident Lions, has redefined our expectations of the number one pick as he lifts to a new level with each round. Blessed with a stronger team than what we saw at the beginning of the season, Rayner is getting his chance to run free. His 19 possessions at a 74 per cent disposal efficiency alone could have been enough to earn him a spot here, but Rayner decided he’d top his game off with three goals and 11 score involvements as well. Rayner played a huge impact, finishing with two rebound 50s, two inside 50s, two clearances, two tackles and two one percenters. He gained 462 metres for the game, and only fell short by two points to Eric Hipwood on the goal front. Anywhere and everywhere, this kid dominates and could be aiming for his Rising Star award as we close out the season.

Sam Taylor

Earning a Rising Star nomination for his performance out the backline, Taylor showed off a football sense well beyond his years. With quite possibly the defensive equivalent of a bag of goals, Taylor finished the match with eight intercept possessions, five tackles, eight one percenters, all while minimising his turnovers. Despite only 13 touches, Taylor managed to take seven in a contest with each having a considerable impact. He also had three rebound 50’s, three score involvements and one clearance. While a lot of debutantes had stellar defensive performances this weekend, Taylor’s stood out due to his mistake minimisation, percentage of important possessions and work off the ball. Quite often the success of players is measured through a player’s offensive presence. People love goals, but when a player steps up and bares a responsibly Taylor had against the Tigers, it needs to be recognised and rewarded. We could be seeing a future All-Australian backman in the making.

Matt Guelfi

The hungry, high-pressure player frightened across the ground, making his opponents earn every inch of the football.  With 17 disposals, eight contested with an 82 per cent disposal efficiency, Guelfi may have been unlucky not to earn a Rising Star nomination. Though his performance didn’t end there, collecting six interceptions, seven score involvements, two clearances, six one percenters and two goals. His efforts were especially useful down back. He snagged five tackles, 16 pressure acts, two rebound 50’s and five marks. Guelfi is steadily developing into a talented, pressure midfielder and could receive a nomination soon if he continues to star like this. Pretty good for pick 76.

Charlie Spargo

Melbourne returned to their goal-front domination this round with Spargo sharing in the fun. Kicking two goals, with eight score involvements and one goal assist, the young Dee was immense in their victory of the Dogs. A careful read on the high ball and an uncanny crumbing ability, turned his opponents inside out as he kicked and affected goals. Melbourne have recruited two amazing forward players in Spargo and Fritsch, and while different footballers in front of goal, complement each other all the same. Spargo also laid an impressive seven tackles for the day with 21 pressure acts. A glimpse at the next best small forward in the competition it might seem.

Bailey Banfield

Like Taylor, Banfield was a pivotal defensive presence for the Dockers, yet to be recognised. Though low on the goal front despite playing up forward, Banfield’s pressure has been nothing short of astonishing. For the game, he recorded 41 pressure acts – the highest across the round, and laid nine tackles. He recorded 12 contested possessions with his 18 touches, six clearances, two inside 50s, two rebound 50s, five score involvements and three intercept possessions. Though messy with the ball at times (56 per cent disposal efficiency), Banfield played a unique role for his side with a commanding presence around the ball. With some tidier skill work, Banfield should easily earn himself a Rising Star nomination.

Lachlan Murphy

Despite his low disposal efficiency of 55 per cent, Murphy put on a stellar performance for his side. Noting his 23 pressure acts and clear presence up forward, it is no surprise Murphy kicked three goals for the game. He laid three tackles (two inside 50) and had a hand in five of Adelaide’s scores. A solid contender with seven contested possessions, a contested mark and three tackles. Murphy is eager to leave his mark on the game and has done just that in Round 17.

Tim Kelly

Though unable to win the Rising Star award due to his age, talks have begun as to whether Kelly will make All-Australian selection. The Western Australian sensation loves to decorate his stat sheet and his performance against the Crows was no different. With 29 disposals and 15 contested possessions, Kelly dominated around the bounce having seven clearances. He kicked his fourteenth goal for the season, had five score involvements with one goal assist and three inside 50s. I think All-Australian talks are completely justified at this point in the season. Kelly not only dominates the game, but does it on a team with Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood, blending in with the future hall of famers like he is one.

Aaron Naughton

If we are acknowledging standout defensive performances, I would be amiss if I glossed over Naughton’s performance against the Dees. With 94 per cent disposal efficiency off his game spent cleaning up messes in the backline, Naughton brought clean hands and careful positioning to the ball, collecting nine intercept possessions and ten one percenters. His game finished with 18 possessions with six contested, four marks and four rebounds. When you’re up against the best attacking side in the competition, it is no easy task defending, especially in your first year, but Naughton had a fair crack. If it wasn’t for five turnovers, lower efficiency, and less spread across his stats, Naughton could have taken home a nomination.

Colin O’Riordan

Despite North’s heavy hitters in Majak Daw, Ben Brown and Jack Ziebell, O’Riordan’s 10 intercept possessions, eight marks and 17 pressure acts kept Sydney’s walls from crashing down. He had plenty of defensive efforts with five tackles and five rebounds. His disposal efficiency rested at 79 per cent,  with 19 disposals staying clean and composed despite an aggressive offensive. All his time spent resting in the Swan’s back half, O’Riordan showed he can take the big responsibilities and stood up for the Swans

Bayley Fritsch

Though only kicking two behinds, Fritsch’s disposal efficiency of 78 was a standout with his 18 possessions. Entering unfamiliar territory, Fritsch played most of his football in Melbourne’s defensive half, collecting eight intercept possessions, three tackles and three one percenters. His impressive hands were on display with his six marks (one contested), chopping off the Bulldog’s transition with his impressive overhead ability. Consistently clean, he also had three inside 50s, five score involvements and one goal assist. Fritsch added to an already impressive resume with this performance, showing that his goals don’t define his football.

Luke Davies-Uniacke

After a lengthy stay in the VFL, Luke Davies-Uniacke (LDU) got the call up for the Kangaroos, starting his game in the centre. Initially playing on Josh Kennedy, LDU showed a composure unlike anything we’d seen in previous rounds despite the obvious mismatch. The open field offered up after the Sydney skipper was forced from the ground might have done wonders for the Dandenong boy’s game. With an 88 percent disposal efficiency, seven contested and 11 uncontested possessions, he starred around the stoppages with three clearances and one out of the centre. He often grabbed first hands to the loose ball and switched well to break Sydney’s lines. He laid five tackles with 14 pressure acts, bringing more hunger later in the game after an effective first half. While not overly impressive in his VFL performances, LDU stood up for the big stage with three inside 50s, five score involvements and one goal assist. He brought his mental game with him and cleaned up where he was lacking early in the season.

 

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 performers from Round 11

IN Round 11 there were plenty of standout performers from the 2017 draft crop, with mature agers leading the way with some impressive performances.

Tim Kelly

Again, Kelly’s form stayed true. The Western Australian lad injected plenty of class to aid Geelong in their 85-point smashing over the Suns. With a 79 per cent disposal efficiency, Kelly picked up 24 possessions, with 11 contested. His work through linkups saw him with plenty contribution to the board, racking up 10 score involvements to compliment his two goals. If we weren’t here reminding you, nobody would believe this kid to be a first-year player. With the numbers he puts on the stat sheet, Kelly is holding himself up there with the more seasoned players on his team. To round out his performance, he saw an extra five clearances, four tackles and three inside 50s. This Cat is going to be in some important conversations in the coming years if he continues to play like this.

Bayley Fritsch

Fritsch put on a bit of a clinic for spectators on the weekend. His efforts on the ground ought to fill Melbourne fans with confidence since they re-signed him in late May. At an 89 per cent disposal efficiency, the Demon tallied up a strong 26 possessions, with eight contested. A goal and six score involvements sealed his spot as one of their top performers, Fritsch’s forward pressure burning through the Bulldog’s defence. Add two more clearances, four tackles and seven rebound 50s and you’ve got a future star in the making. Fritsch’s development in this supreme offensive side should shape him into a danger for backman in these coming years. Be prepared.

Brody Mihocek

Coming straight from the Rookie Draft last year, Mihocek demonstrated what his years at Port Melbourne have offered his new club. With a 100 percent efficiency on the ball, the tall unit took home 12 disposals, nine contested. Mihocek not only kicked his first goal for his career but picked up three more to follow. His experience only adding to the Magpie’s crafty offensive.  In all, the Port Melbourne son finished with seven score involvements, 11 pressure acts, two tackles and three one percenters. The highlight for this man’s day came through perfectly efficient football and I’m excited to see what Round 12 brings.

Cam Rayner

The number one draft pick showed off some of the missed aspects of his football in the Lions loss to North Melbourne on the weekend. Gathering much of his ball through the midfield, Rayner blew up the stat sheet. He had seven score involvements, five clearances, five inside 50s and seven tackles and displayed composure breaking out of congestion, planting the ball in front of his forwards.  His 22 pressure acts certainly made the Kangaroos earn their victory. The youngster finished the game with 21 possessions, eight contested at a 76 per cent disposal efficiency. Rayner barred some dynamic football, unafraid to take on the game is other areas.

Lachie Fogarty

Fogarty has been a little hit and miss so far throughout the season, so it’s a pleasure to be able to put him on this list again.  The Cats forward was unlucky on the board, missing his shot on goal, but regrouped, making plenty of impact with eight score involvements. Fogarty finished with a 77 per cent disposal efficiency and 17 possessions in Geelong’s 85-point victory against the Gold Coast Suns. The young forward spent much of the four quarters along the forward 50, laying both his tackles inside and picking up two one percenters. The work Geelong has put into developing their youth is shown greatly through stars like this.

Zac Bailey

Bailey played integral football in his side’s loss against the Kangaroos. A 14-possession game at a 79 per cent disposal efficiency demonstrated the young lion’s class despite their thrashing. Bailey put through a goal at the end of the second, branding four score involvements for the day. He laid three tackles, with 23 pressure acts and four intercept possessions. Bailey, above all else, should be praised for his determination in the face of a stronger side. I would be curious to see his stats if his team had a better day out on the field.

Hunter Clark

Clark’s numbers on the stat sheets stood up in areas unique to what we’ve caught so far. Plenty of his 17 possessions were taken in the midfield, 11 of which were contested. His disposal efficiency came up a little short at 59 percent, but Clark more than made up for it with his pressure on the game. In total, the young Saint laid six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. He was unfortunate in coughing up five turnovers but stepped up to the midfield challenge well. Clark worked hard to re-cement himself into the side, and should be left to develop there if he works the game like he is.

Bailey Banfield

The high pressure forward stepped up in their loss to the Magpies. Kicking one and missing the other, Banfield saw plenty of contribution to the board with his six score involvements. He put in heaps of work to keep the ball in their forward 50. A 15-possession game with seven contested, closed his game off at a 73 per cent disposal efficiency. Five huge tackles, two clearances and two one percenters showed off the Dockers’ extra efforts in keeping his team above water.

Darcy Fogarty

In the biggest rollercoaster match of the round, Fogarty found his season beginning form, putting in the work on and off the play.  The Crow had plenty of impact in the side’s 16-point loss to the Giants with  11 possessions, five contested at an 82 per cent disposal efficiency. The youngster had three inside 50s, two tackles and an impressive four one percenters. He was unfortunate in turnovers and free kicks, giving away five and three, but could be forgiven given the intensity of the game. Hopefully Fogarty’s able to lift leading further into the season and we can see some of Adelaide’s 2017 form.

Paddy Dow

In a strong first half against the Swans, the Blues young prodigy took on plenty of the play. Dow put through his second goal for the season and continued to pick up another handful of clearances. He sat one per cent below his season average 63 per cent disposal efficiency, collecting 13 for the day with seven contested. His work rate was high around the loose ball and his skill work continues to be quite polished. He may need to take time to adjust his tempo to suit the flow of play, as well as picking his passes a little better. As usual, his day on the ground finished off well-rounded as he continued to go hard at everything. Some further three score involvements and three tackles top off Dow’s game and sum up his efforts appropriately.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 9

We are approaching the bye rounds now as a number of first-year draftees continue to impress on the big stage. Both top-age and mature age recruits are fitting in seamlessly to AFL life and are becoming mainstays in their respective club’s 22s.

Jaidyn Stephenson

Collingwood supporters should revel in the news that they have snagged Jaidyn Stephenson for another two years, after securing the Club’s number six pick. The fan favourite continues to exceed expectations in yet another classy performance against St. Kilda. Booting two goals after half-time, Stephenson assisted greatly in Collingwood’s 28-point victory over St Kilda, and continues to demonstrate a fluency in the forward line. The young Magpie finished with 18 disposals, four contested, 72 per cent disposal efficiency and eight score involvements. Stephenson’s uncanny footy sense has served him well, exhibited both through his careful decisions and ideal timing with ball-in-hand.

Hunter Clark

For the first time in his AFL career, St. Kilda’s number seven pick was made to start on the ground, earning a spot in the Club’s starting 18 against the Pies. Clark rose to the challenge off half-back, showing off some of the less observed aspects of his game. With a strong 21 disposals, seven contested and a 71 per cent disposal efficiency, Clark took on his role well, involving himself in linkups and going hard in the contest. His chase down in front of goals almost prevented a score, but the ball spilled out and the rest was out of his hands. Furthermore, going back with the flight of the ball, Clark copped a heavy hit in a pack mark and reeled in pain. Clark’s commitment to the contest is becoming more obvious and we hope to see this attitude continue in the coming rounds.

Bailey Fritsch

The quality of this year’s debutantes has shone through fittingly in Bayley Fritsch. With yet another impressive performance, the young Demon continues to exceed expectations with his dominance in the forward line. Fritsch finished up with 17 disposals, five contested, two goals, six score involvements, four intercept possessions, four tackles and three inside 50s.  The young Dee displayed great footy sense going forward, picked his spots well and hits his man with great precision. He is developing well under Melbourne’s guide and could bag a neat stack of goals by the end of the season.

Cam Rayner

With his first win in his AFL career, Rayner should be satisfied with the performance he contributed. A powerhouse for his age, the number one draft pick finished the match with 11 disposals, seven contested and an 82 per cent disposal efficiency. The young forward also kicked two goals, had four score involvements, three tackles and three clearances. He has adjusted well to the pace and has polished his work, beating his average disposal efficiency by 10 per cent.

Paddy Dow

On the wrong end of a huge margin, Dow stayed resilient against punishment and fought hard against a dominating Melbourne. Dow’s work on the hard ball was evident in his 10 contested possessions, and while low on his efficiency, still managed to make an impact. In all, Dow closed up with five intercept possessions, four tackles, 25 pressure acts and three score involvements. An impressive stat sheet for a player on a losing side, the young Blue refused to quit despite the odds.

Adam Cerra

With another demonstration of poise and class from Fremantle’s stellar first-year line-up, Cerra led with more trademark efficiency and impact. The No. 5 pick from the Dockers finished with 15 disposals, nine contested, an a 80 per cent disposal efficiency, 19 pressure acts and three clearances in their 69-point loss against the Swans. Cerra left his mark on the game despite a shutout victory by the home side. He’s an adaptable player who thrives in the contest and remains consistent in varying conditions.  

Nick Coffield

Coffield’s football is characterised best through his disposal efficiency. In St Kilda’s hard fought battle against Collingwood, Coffield kept his kicking clean and ball movement effective. He kept his work rate up despite a barrage of goals from his opposition and plenty of forward pressure. At an 88 per cent disposal efficiency for the season, Coffield continued prime form with  a 92 per cent disposal efficiency. The youngster finished the game against the Pies with 12 disposals, three one percenters and two rebound 50s. 

Charlie Spargo

The ferocity of this small forward is immense, complimented well by Melbourne’s fierce attack on Carlton. Spargo played high pressure football, working Carlton’s backman well as they tried to rebound. He laid three big tackles, 19 pressure acts, had four inside 50s and four score involvements. He wasn’t good enough in front of goal, missing two of his shots. However, his contribution to Melbourne’s win is evident in the range of offensive and defensive acts. In total, he racked up 12 disposals, six contested with a 75 per cent disposal efficiency.

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.

Queensland weekly wrap: Q-Clash weekend provides thrillers

THE Q-Clash was the centre of focus in Queensland football this week at both the AFL and Under 18 levels. While the senior Suns clung on to victory at the Gabba, the Lions academy claimed bragging rights to even the ledger. The other big story of the week was the landmark occasion of the first ever QAFL games being live-streamed.

AFL Round 5 | Q-Clash 15 – Gold Coast Suns vs. Brisbane Lions

Gold Coast were able to edge out Brisbane on Sunday afternoon to win the fifteenth Q-Clash by just five points. It gave the Suns their third win of the season, whilst the Lions remain winless after five rounds.  The Suns led by as much as 27 points in the third term and had to withstand a final quarter Lions comeback, but hung on to win 11.10 (76) to 10.11 (71) after successive losses in Perth. Brisbane’s number one draft pick Cam Rayner had a flying shot at goal from 50m in the final seconds to draw the contest but pulled it wide for a behind.

Touk Miller of the Gold Coast Suns showed how to play a team role to perfection at the Gabba. Miller went to Dayne Zorko and made the Lions star’s night a miserable one. At every opportunity, Miller got stuck into the All Australian, pushing, shoving and giving him no breathing space.  Zorko finished with a paltry 10 disposals and had minimal influence, while Miller became more and more involved as the night wore on, racking up 21 touches, including seven clearances. Co-captain Steven May played easily his best game of the season, while David Swallow, Brayden Fiorini and Jarrod Harbrow also excelled.  The goal of the night was a toss-up between Fiorini’s one step bomb from a stoppage just outside forward 50, and Charlie Cameron’s snap goal in the final term.

The loss will sting the Lions. It is the fourth time in five rounds they have had a chance to win in the final term, yet they remain winless.

Final Scores:

BRISBANE          2.3     4.7      7.9      10.11     (71)                 
GOLD COAST     4.2     7.3     10.6     11.10     (76)         

Goals:

Brisbane:  Hipwood 3, Cameron 2, Taylor, Bailey, Rayner, Zorko, McStay.
Gold Coast: MacPherson 2, Lynch 2, Fiorini 2, Lyons, Young, Day, Holman, May.

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Under-18 Academy Series – Brisbane Academy vs. Gold Coast Academy

The Q-Clash rivalry was in full effect in the second round of the Under 18 Academy Series as the Lions and Suns faced off. A brilliant seven goals to zero first term by the Lions helped set up their 12-point victory. The Suns would claw their way back throughout the match kicking 11 goals to four over the final three terms in a display of guts and determination.  

Standout performers for the Lions included small midfielder Jesse Quint, racking up 20 touches and a goal. Caleb Franks totalled a massive 37 disposals to lead all the ground in that category, while snagging two goals himself. Thomas Griffiths was also impressive gathering 25 touches and rebounding well across half-back.

For the Suns, Bailey Scott again was in the best players, collecting 19 disposals and two goals. Labrador midfielder Cooper Portelli had 25 disposals and eight marks, while Matthew Smith kicked three goals up forward.

Final Scores:

BRISBANE LIONS           7.1       9.5       10.10   12.11 (83)
GOLD COAST SUNS        0.0       5.3       7.4       11.5 (71)

Goals:

Brisbane: Franks, McFadyen, Tomkinson 2, Pettigrove, Quint, Matthews, Jeffrey, Smith, Ansell
Gold Coast: Smith 3, Scott 2, Portelli, Katsiris, Haua, Wingrove, Burke, Miles

BEST

Brisbane: Quint, Tomkinson, Franks, Stackelberg, Matthews, Pettigrove
Gold Coast: Portelli, Smith, Scott, Gore, Stone

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First ever QAFL games live streamed

AFL Queensland provided their first complete live streams of QAFL matches over the weekend.  On Saturday, QAFL viewers were treated to an absolute thriller between senior sides Mt Gravatt and the Western Magpies. In a game that was neck and neck throughout, the Mt Gravatt Vultures escaped six-point winners at home.

On Sunday, the second live streamed match was between Surfers Paradise and last year’s runners up Labrador. After a three goals to zero opening stand by Labrador, Surfers responded in the second term, kicking five goals to two to lead by four points at the half. The sides would go back and forth in the second half with Surfers helping themselves to a big opening round upset thanks to having 28 scoring shots to Labrador’s 17.  

At a minimum, one QAFL game each week will be streamed at www.aflq.com.au/qafl-live throughout the season. An additional six games will also be broadcast to showcase the bigger matchups of the year.

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.