Tag: Irving Mosquito

AFL Draft Central Final 2018 Power Rankings

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

#1 Jack Lukosius (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

Many seem to be somewhat writing the talented tall off a little given he is not kicking five goals from 20 touches and 10 marks every single week against senior bodies. As far as we are concerned, the skillset and ability he has both athletically and physically is unbelievable, and if he was playing in the Under 18s instead of the League, you would be seeing those kind of numbers each and every week. When the opposition know you are a talented kid, they will make sure they work harder to stop you, and Lukosius has done a terrific job, but just tired towards the end of the year which is more than fair. He has the capability to be a star key forward, key defender or midfielder and for his size, most people just cannot hit targets like he can, and move as well as he can. He has not lost his number one position all year, and both he and Walsh are the clear standouts come the draft month.

#2 Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The safest pick in the National Draft bar none. It is easy to see why Carlton would select him with pick one, and in terms of midfielders he just ticks practically every box. To poke holes in his game you have to get nitty gritty, but honestly, he is just a keeper and a future leader. He will add bucketloads to that Blues midfield both on and off the field, and looks every bit a 200-game player. Just a talented midfielder who you know what you will get each and every week, and if there was a genuine way to have two number ones in this list he would be there. Walsh has not moved from this spot all year, and it is easy to see why.

#3 Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Most agree he is the X-factor of the draft. No doubt that Rankine has all the tricks a player could want, and can literally produce plays that no-one else in the draft could. He can kick bags of goals as a small forward, dominate through the midfield with his speed and agility, and take a game away from the opposition in a matter of minutes. His endurance and consistency are areas that could continue to develop, and he is prone to the odd brain fade in terms of discipline with 50m penalties as such, but as we like to say – it is the price you pay for greatness, and in terms of upside and sheer brilliance, Rankine is the number one in that department.

#4 Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

It is not too often a kid who does his ACL after playing just one TAC Cup game still goes in the top five, but here we are. He was never going to fall too far given his athleticism and ability to just dominate games. Just ask the Oakleigh Chargers defence who had not answers to stop him – when Will Kelly was a forward – and he monstered undersized defenders with his massive vertical leap and contested marking. He booted 8.6 in windy conditions that day at RAMS Arena, and genuinely had a laugh with the ball delivered to him with ease. If he gets a big pre-season in and more strength work done, he could be a very scary prospect up forward.

#5 Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Missed seeing him strut his stuff in the second half of the TAC Cup season after that achilles injury put an end to his year. A consistent inside midfielder with great speed and elite endurance, Smith is as safe as Walsh in terms of picks, and if a team could somehow pair the two together, then that cements a terrific culture at that particular club for the future. A natural leader who is a high accumulator of the football, a massive clearance winner and a bone-crunching tackler, Smith is a top five player who like the others at the top-end of this list, could easily be pick one in most other drafts. Terrific selection.

#6 Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The third Sandringham Dragons player in the top six, Ben King has put together a terrific season for Haileybury and showed off what he is capable of for Sandringham late in the year despite having less opportunities with limited inside 50s for the Dragons. He can play at either end, and showed after a great season in defence last year, and now up forward this year, that he will fill a void wherever needed. The fact he could be this far down is remarkable given he could genuinely be a pick one in a lot of drafts. A 200cm key position utility who can run the 20m sprint in under three seconds? Yes please.

#7 Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

He has had comparisons to ‘Buddy’ Franklin, and they are not too far-fetched with Blakey having the size of a key forward, but the smarts and athleticism of a midfielder. He is a huge inclusion to the Swans outfit, and could play early on, but the Swans will be sure to bulk up his wiry frame before subjecting him to monster key defenders. Expect him to play an outside role with some time in the midfield before he can bulk up and eventually take over from ‘Buddy’ inside that forward 50. Not a huge accumulator, but boy does Blakey have some nice tricks, and some high X-factor which will excite Swans fans.

#8 Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)

A good season really threw the light utility into high-end draft calculations, with Rozee always thereabouts, but shooting up after a good SANFL League finals series with North Adelaide. Some were wondering what had happened after a quiet National Under 18 Championships, but South Australia threw the bigger bodies in the middle, and Rozee played on flanks, using his elite kicking skills to hurt opposition sides. He is another who will need time to fill out, but he has some promising upside if he can fulfil it. A great character as well, Rozee will ensure he gets the best out of himself which is why Gold Coast would be considering him with pick three.

#9 Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)

North Melbourne fans have been waiting for Thomas for some time since he burst onto the scene as an Under 16s player for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships – showing just how gifted he was at that time. He has not waivered from the top 10 in our eyes, and just has massive upside. He is the cleanest player in the draft at ground level with velcro hands, and he oozes class all over the field. He is light, but well built in terms of height, and once he fills out and develops further at AFL level, he will be a star. Genuine X-factor talent and a fully fledged top 10 player, even if a bid comes outside that mark.

#10 Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)

The 180cm Tasmanian is the smallest midfielder to slot into the first round, but like many others, he does not have too much to fault about his game. Aside from the occasional decision, Jones tends to use the ball well, is one of the best kicks in the draft crop, wins his own ball, runs and has elite athleticism, can kick goals or play off half-back. In short, his game is fairly close to complete and we would probably argue he would be in top five talks if he was five centimetres taller. No reason Jones cannot go top 10 on draft night though, and while he could slide through to the second round, it would be an absolute steal for any club that selects the future captain.

#11 Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)

Hately is the South Australian balanced midfielder who just ticks a lot of boxes. He hardly does a thing wrong, yet does not receive the same plaudits as some of the other state representatives. He accumulates the football, can play inside or out, is a clearance expert and uses it consistently by hand or foot. He could walk into a lot of sides early on, and have an impact which could be a great boost for those sides needing a readymade midfielder who has already played senior football against bigger bodies. A player not to discount because he has a lot to offer and he will no doubt show that early on in his career.

#12 Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Unlike some of the other midfielders in the first round, Collier-Dawkins does not have the consistency, but what he does have is the upside. He is that prototype midfielder, built like Patrick Cripps but with Adam Treloar’s burst speed. He is not a huge accumulator of the football, but he can certainly do some amazing things with it, and he has a long, penetrating kick which he uses when up forward or bursting out of a stoppage. He needs to show it on a more consistent basis, but his hurt factor and upside is as good as anyone in the draft. He is a long-term prospect who fans will enjoy watching over the years.

#13 Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Another “Mr Consistency” with a lot of the top midfielders in the draft not having too many major deficiencies in their games. Duursma rarely had a bad game in season 2018, leading the Gippsland Power to a surprise preliminary final, and performing well for Vic Country in defence. He can slot in nearly anywhere on the field, uses the ball well and moves nicely in transition. He is light but can win the contested ball or be the runner on the outside. He also knows how to hit the scoreboard, often picking up speed during a series of quick handballs and unloading from just inside 50 on the run for an important goal.

#14 Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

One of the most consistent players in the draft crop, and you would not be completely silly to suggest he could be the third best midfielder in the draft without injuries hampering his year. He is being talked up as a top 10 prospect and deservedly so. There is not too much to tweak with Caldwell’s game, and if he can get in a big pre-season, the sky is the limit. He can play inside, outside or up forward, and we dare say he would be easily in the top 10 if he had been able to show off his ability more consistently this season. Nonetheless he looms as a very good pick-up for any club that selects him. A great leader too.

#15 Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

One of the top-age draft bloomers who was self-admittedly a fair way off 12 months ago, has turned it around to be a genuine first round prospect in 2018. He is tough as nails and despite multiple injuries – both pre and during games, Stocker battled through admirably. In the absence of Dragons skipper, Bailey Smith late in the year, Stocker stood up terrifically and added another dimension to Sandringham’s midfield brigade. He wins the contested ball, gets to the outside and has a penetrating kick. Once he can further improve his endurance, he could take his game to another level as well.

#16 Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)

One of a number of players who burst onto the draft scene after a terrific National Under 18 Championships. Could well go top 10 by draft night, but he is rated inside the top 20 safely. He is a creative half-back who moves well and just keeps winning the football. In time, he will be expected to progress onto a wing potentially, but he has made the defence his own throughout the championships. He has the ability to hit-up some terrific pinpoint passes, but it is his decision making and composure, as well as his positioning that sets him aside as a general defender. Likely to be the first natural medium defender picked in the draft.

#17 Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs father-son could receive a bid in the top 20, but is likely to be in that early second round. The Dogs will match and he will head to the kennel where his father, Scott became a legend. Very similar to his father, West is small in stature, but stands tall in heart and determination, with his clean hands, ability to read ruck taps and move through stoppages among the top features in his game. He also knows how to play forward as either a leading forward, or a crumber, and that is where he will start his career before ultimately progressing into the midfield. He might be the 180cm, but he can still do some serious damage in the midfield.

#18 Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)

We refuse to drop the exciting small forward/midfielder outside the top 20 despite him seemingly dropping on rankings everywhere. He has far too much X-factor and while 12 months ago he was talked up as a top five pick, his inconsistent season through various injuries and some form dips see him drop to late first round. The West Australian teams are perfectly situated to select him in the draft, and he is another natural born leader. With his cousins, Stephen and Brad already in the purple, Fremantle might look to add to the family tree at the club, with his skills and decision making among the best out there.

#19 Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member will be a gift to the Magpies with Collingwood expected to very quickly match any bid that comes in. He is an outstanding leader, with great athleticism, good run and carry, and decision making. But his biggest strength is his football IQ, that is often not rewarded by looking at highlights, but the work he does off the ball to shut down gaps in play, or intercept balls that float through the middle of the ground – in some instances Quaynor would come off his opponent to dash at a ball and not break stride. He could easily play senior football next year, replacing Sam Murray off half-back.

#20 Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A kid who other than those deep in recruiting circles, many would not have heard of three months ago, now slots into the top 20. He is a medium forward who is good overhead, has elite athleticism and just competes for the football in the air or at ground level. He lacks endurance given he missed the cut for the initial Stingrays’ squad, but has not put a foot wrong since after strong performances for Peninsula Grammar in the APS. With game smarts and creativity in spades, Sturt has great upside that clubs would be excited about developing. Still raw, the forward is a player that will take time, but could be easily worth the wait.

#21 Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Rated much higher throughout the year, Williams’ inconsistent season at times has him drop a little to just outside the top 20. He is a player who could be snatched up with a first round pick, but is more likely to be top 30 more so than top 20. He has the highest vertical leap of anyone, and he clunks contested marks strongly. Williams has had some worries in front of goal, with confidence and inconsistencies forcing him to miss some gettable shots. He can play ruck or down forward, but is more likely to settle into a key position forward role while giving a chop out in the ruck from time to time.

#22 Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Butters had an early finish to the 2018 season, given the shoulder injury ended his year. He is a fantastic talent with high upside, and can play through the midfield or up forward. He has that touch of class about him and while he is as light as they come, he does not waiver in his attack on the ball. There is no doubt he is more of a long-term prospect with his body size, but he could play forward early in his career, before progressing into the midfield down the track. He is a player that you want to have the ball in his hands, and Butters is the type who will create a nice following because of his good decision making and skill execution in the forward half.

#23 Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Jets and Vic Metro captain has been a consistent player in season 2018, playing both on the inside, outside and up forward. O’Halloran has terrific athleticism, with fantastic acceleration, speed, agility and endurance, as well as an insatiable work ethic that sees him get the best out of himself. He is strong overhead and can penetrate through zones with his kicking, and he is a player who will be considered for the first round, but should not come too much later.

#24 Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

A composed user of the football at half-back, McLennan’s National Under 18 Championships performances threw him into the spotlight and has earned his place inside the top 25. With all the talk around South Australia’s top four, as well as Valente, McLennan has gone about his business well, and is that defender who should be available to most clubs, and a player that will be reliable for years to come. Has SANFL League experience too with Central District, not looking out of place against men, and showing off his elite kicking skills. Adelaide might want to pounce with their last first round pick, but there will be no shortage of clubs in the market for a “quarter-back”.

#25 Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)

Despite being a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Bailey Scott chose to follow his father and head to Arden Street, with the Kangaroos having first chance to snare the consistent youngster under the father-son bidding system. The Kangaroos won over Scott ahead of the Suns, and Cats, with Scott likely to play up forward early on before progressing into the midfield. He has nice offensive and defensive traits, and despite not looking at smooth as others, he uses the ball well and can hit the scoreboard. Some clubs rate him inside the top 20 – a bid will likely come shortly after, with Scott not escaping into the 30s without being claimed.

#26 Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The nuggety midfielder/forward might not be the tallest player, but he has all the heart and ability you would want from a player. Not afraid of a scrap, and just attacks the contest with vigour, McHenry offers a club plenty of versatility with his agility and smarts outweighing his 174cm height. He knows where the goals are up forward and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand and executes by hand or foot. A player predicted to drift into the second round because of the size knowing he will have to play outside or as a small forward, McHenry looms as another bargain for clubs past pick 20.

#27 Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The X-factor from the Cannons has had an up-and-down year, which is what is the question mark hanging over him, but no-one could dispute his best is as good as anyone’s in the draft. He struggled for consistency, but when he was “on” he was really on, and could turn a game with a massive quarter of multiple goals. He stood up to be an important player at times through the championships, and looms as one of those players where clubs will be eyeing off each other to see who grabs him first. Taylor has great upside that could result in a genius pick down the track if he drifts to the second round as expected.

#28 Luke Valente (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian MVP and captain led from the front in the National Under 18 Championships, and despite injury curtailing his year, Valente showed enough to suggest he could even push into the first round. At his best he is a top 20 player, and it showed when Valente received an invitation to this year’s AFL National Draft, meaning he is highly likely to be taken in that first round. A natural born leader, aside from some athleticism,  there is not too many faults with his game and expect him to be one of the safest picks in the draft crop with his attack on the ball and willingness to get his hands dirty, second to none.

#29 Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)

The over-age midfielder has found his straps this season after missing out on being drafted last year. He has become more influential with and without the ball, making good decisions and using it well through the midfield and around the ground. He has a consistent base week-in, week-out and could provide some immediate relief to a team craving an inside midfielder. He made the WAFL Colts Team of the Year despite battling injuries at times, and was solid through the National Under 18 Championships. Expected to be the third or fourth West Australian drafted behind Ian Hill and Jordan Clark, and perhaps Sydney Stack.

#30 Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)

The top GIANTS Academy prospect had a year to remember through the Academy Series and the National Under 18 Championships, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for both the GIANTS and Allies, while also named ruck of the All Australian side. He adds a point of difference to any side given his high endurance base, and ability to just compete and do all the defensive things, and ground work/second efforts to perfection. He is not the most mobile player, but with a frame that is readymade for senior football, Briggs is highly rated both internally and externally, and is expected to receive a bid in the second round.

#31 Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

An omission from the initial Vic Country team, Smith has come on in leaps and bounds. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone’s during the early part of the season, and he was rewarded with a call-up to Vic Country against Western Australia and was best on ground. From there, he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and showed off his top athleticism, in particular his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and a player who teammates love to play alongside.

#32 Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A Collingwood father-son selection, Kelly is a developing key position defender who has also spent time forward. He is more comfortable behind the ball and the Oakleigh Chargers centre-half back is a player who will join brother, Jake in the AFL. He has shot up on draft boards after a huge year having just played the one TAC Cup game last year. The Pies have prepared to match bids on him and Isaac Quaynor, and will do so when a bid – expected to be sometime in the second round – comes in. He will slot straight into Collingwood’s defence in the future once he adds to his build to compete against stronger forwards.

#33 Sydney Stack (Perth/Western Australia)

A balanced midfield who has the hardness of an inside midfielder and the skills of an outside midfielder. He is undersized for an inside midfielder so expect him to spend more time on the outside and still apply his defensive pressure to the ball carrier. Will battle Luke Foley for the third Western Australian taken, with at least five expected to be selected in the top 40. Stack can play other roles and can hit the scoreboard, but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive ability in his arsenal.

#34 Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Bedford is an electrifying forward who can play through the midfield, and is one of the best for high impact plays. He is a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility, and that keen eye for goals. He is a player that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, otherwise he will make them pay. A member of the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, a bid should come after their first selection, so expect them to match it fairly comfortably. Still raw and needs to find more of the football on a consistent basis, but a nice foundation of skills to progress to the next level in the future.

#35 Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

A much talked about member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, McFadyen was impressive at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies. He has some great athletic traits, and his strength and sheer determination to beat his opponents are evident. McFadyen rotated between the midfield and forward at the championships, and that is what he will be expected to do at AFL level. The Lions rate him highly and he is their top prospect in the draft and they will happily match. Has some great upside to further show his athleticism on the field, and find more of the football on a consistent basis.

#36 Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The brother of Brisbane’s Charlie, Cameron is an identical small forward with equally high footy nous and goal sense inside 50. He is further progressed than his brother was at the same age, and has improved at a rapid rate this season. His five-goal performance against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in the National Under 18 Championships put his name up in lights and he has not looked back, finishing the WAFL season in ripping form for Swan Districts, standing up in big games and continuing to deliver. While he is not a huge accumulator of the football, he knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a high impact per possession.

#37 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian gut-runner is an outside midfielder who uses the ball cleanly and can play multiple roles across the field. He provides run and carry and wins plenty of the ball, making good decisions. He has good all-round athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure and build more size to his light frame, he has a well-balanced game and was one of the most notable improvers for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Expect him to push for top 30, but around this late second/early third is about right. A good pick who is a safe selection.

#38 Buku Khamis (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Khamis is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a half-back role. He is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and has an elite kick in absolutely every sense of the word. He had just over one per cent of his kicks end in clangers, which is a remarkable feat, and while he has to continue to work on his game sense and some more defensive attributes, he is good one-on-one and really strong in the air. Bulldogs fans will be very happy to welcome Khamis to the kennel in the upcoming draft.

#39 Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

While the likes of Bailey Williams and Sam Sturt have caught the headlines, the classy Will Hamill continues to fly under the radar as a prospect with high upside. He is not a huge accumulator and is still quite skinny, but Hamill has that perfect blend of speed and skill, which clubs will turn to – possibly earlier than predicted. He is a smooth mover who has played predominantly off half-back, but also through the midfield such is his ability to work his way out of trouble. He might be more of a long-term prospect than an immediate walk-up starter, but Hamill is someone who could be considered one of the better steals if he develops as he could.

#40 Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The AFL Academy member was a top 30 prospect coming into the year, possibly top 20. But back issues throughout 2018 have seen him drop down the rankings and now the big-bodied inside midfielder looms as a player who can be snatched up mid-draft and provide instant value to any side in the AFL. He is readymade and capable of slotting into the midfield, is strong overhead and has a powerful kick. Bytel was co-captain of the Calder Cannons this season so he has natural leadership qualities to add to a young side, while having the immediate impact for a finals-bound team as well.

#41 Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

The outside runner from Tasmania has had a strong 2018 season, and was one of the more impressive players for the Allies in the National Under 18 Championships. He knows how to win the ball and get forward, and would add an extra element of class to any side. The next step is improving his contested work, but his outside game is very good, and expect his run and carry to be highly sought after in the draft. Another player amongst the mid-draft log-jam of players who have improvements to make but have a nice foundation base of traits from which clubs can build upon.

#42 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia)

Another West Australian who honestly seems a little underrated for what he offers. He has only played at Colts level in the WAFL which might be a knock on him, but he consistently racks up the ball, and even at the National Under 18 Championships before injury struck, Greaves showed he has good athletic traits. He uses the ball well under pressure, executing by hand or foot. He screams a bit of Tom Doedee, not in the same comparison, but in the way that he has traits which catch the eye and Greaves could go higher than what many might think. Good value at this stage and one player we rate.

#43 Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushranges/Allies)

A versatile key position player who is better suited in defence, as shown during the National Under 18 Championships, earning All Australian honours. Koschitzke while not super athletic, is mobile enough to match it with most players, and has the size to take on the bigger forwards going around. He is a member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and is really strong one-on-one and does not often get beaten easily.  However, under the ruling of the Riverina area now being up for grabs, Koschitzke is just that – up for grabs for anyone, so not tied to the GIANTS. He has had a really impressive season, that after starting okay, came alive during the championships and has not looked back. Injury ended his year early, but he’s a perfect pick for a third round selection.

#44 Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Ross is an interesting player to place. He just received a State Combine invitation, but looking at his overall profile, there is not a lot of deficiencies in his game. He is consistent, a leader, uses the ball pretty well, wins clearances, goes in hard, runs both ways and just gets the job done, week-in, week-out. There are not too many State Combine invitees who get drafted in the top 50 – usually one per year on average, but Ross could be that player. His ability to play a multitude of roles through the midfield helps, and he is more readymade than most to stand up against senior bodies. A good mid-draft prospect.

#45 Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The exciting Dandenong utility has the capability to do some amazing things on the football field, he just needs to find the consistency to take the next step. Foot is a remarkable story, coming from a long way back having missed initial selection for the Stingrays, coming into the program in 2018 and then bursting out of the blocks with a strong first half of the season to earn Vic Country honours. He had a quieter second half of the season, but still had some eye-catching moments, and he knows how to run and hit the scoreboard, playing inside or out, and has a good base from which clubs can work with at the next level, and a high scope of improvement.

#46 Tyron Smallwood (Claremont/Western Australia)

Not much has been said about the classy outside midfielder/small forward, but he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and is one of the players we rate as a mid-draft prospect. He just does a lot right and is a player who while undersized, is capable of being accountable for an opponent. He kicks goals and lays tackles, and can also move through the midfield with an ability to win the footy and drive it forward. He is not as quick as other small forwards, but he has fairly good evasion skills, and his ability to execute by hand or foot is impressive. Smallwood just seems like the type of player that clubs secretly want to drop and then call it a bargain later on, because he has some very draftable qualities.

#47 James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Rowbottom is the well-publicised nephew of ‘BT’ (Brian Taylor) and is another one of many inside midfielders in the draft crop. He has good speed and never takes a backwards step, being one of the top clearance midfielders in the TAC Cup. He wins it on the inside, spreads to the outside and just keeps plugging away all day long. Rowbottom needs to improve his endurance, but he has the talent to keep improving, and the dedication to make sure it happens. Another one who could easily go earlier should a club like what he has to offer, but expect him to be a mid-draft option and a player who could slide into a senior side fairly early on, with Rowbottom just needing to sharpen up his kicking a bit.

#48 Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Had it not been for an unfortunate sling tackle in the National Under 18 Championships, Vandermeer’s year could have been even better. To that point, the overager was looking as good as any other 1999-born player going around in the TAC Cup, and it earned him a place in Vic Country’s side. His run-and-carry, dare and dash really excited fans, and he is the type of player that just takes off and does not fear taking the game on. He wins a lot of the football and while he is predominantly an outside player, he uses his speed to also apply defensive pressure, and fiercely attacks the ball carrier. One who could go later or as a rookie, but the need for speed is great in modern football, and Vandermeer has that need in spades.

#49 Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

In the back half of the season, school footballers who did not get the call-up or choose not to play TAC Cup early in the season often throw on the jumper for the final month, and Reynolds is one of those. Not too dissimilar to Nathan Murphy the year before, Reynolds is that medium-tall utility who can play anywhere on the ground. Hailing from Brighton Grammar – the same school as Murphy – Reynolds is a nice kick of the football, and just knows how to find it. He is one of those dark horses of the draft that could be plucked out early given his scope for improvement.

#50 Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Hawthorn fans have a beauty in ‘Mozzie’ with the exciting forward the kind of player that could walk away from a game with 10 touches and you go home thinking “gee how good was he?”. Mosquito’s clean ball use is about as good as you will see, with his ability to pick the ball off the deck in the wet like he has velcro hands is up there with the likes of Tarryn Thomas at the top of the charts. Like any small forward, Mosquito does need to work on his consistency, but he is a natural match winner who worries opponents whenever he gets near the football. Attacks both offensively and defensively with vigour and is not afraid to bring down much bigger opponents.

#51 Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A medium forward who plays taller than his 184cm, even though it looks at times as if a gust of wind might knock him over. Very light, Kemp has a great vertical leap, impressive closing speed, and an insatiable attack on the football and ball carrier. He does all the defensive things right which is what you want from any player, but especially a forward who is capable of a nice highlights package as well. Received the call-up from school football after an impressive season, then was very good for the Cannons in the final month. Knows where the goals are, and when he is not kicking them, he is trying to win the ball back.

#52 Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

It might be a bit strange to see the big man this far down after being so high initially, but as we see every year, rucks tend to drop towards November as the reality of whether or not talls are worth taking early continues to rage. As one of only a handful of genuine ruck talents, expect Bowman to land somewhere in the second half of the draft with some nice ruck work, but will be viewed as a long-term prospect. At times had a bit of an up-and-down year, but turned it on in the TAC Cup decider and was one of the best for the Stingrays, which gave clubs a huge indication of where he might fall.

#53 Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A high impact per possession player, Ham over-age year was a massive improvement on past years, and is yet a third 19 year-old in this list that might get a second chance. Playing half-forward, half-back and on the wing, Ham is arguably the best athlete when taking into account speed, agility and endurance, with the Falcons utility in the top few across all the tests. He is still light so will need to bulk up a bit and iron out the kicking so it is a bit more consistent, but when he is up and about he is very damaging. He is a player that only needs a handful of touches to turn a match and he has the athletic capabilities to completely wear down an opponent and on that alone, he deserves a spot on this list.

#54 Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

McKenzie has had a solid year playing TAC Cup and school football, and is that mid-range draft prospect who is still raw, but has some nice traits. He is likely to have found a nice role at half-back, using his kicking to advantage, along with his ability to set-up well and position himself for intercept marks. A very lightly built player, McKenzie can also play in the midfield, often on a wing with lightning pace that he does not often show in games – he clocked 2.9 seconds on the 20m sprint. Once he can really implement his athletic abilities to impact a contest, he will be all the more damaging.

#55 Tom Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

The lightning younger brother of Brisbane Lions’ Jarrod, offers really unbelievable value here. Over the past 18 months, Berry has struggled to get on the park for continuity, and therefore slipped down the order. His kicking and decision making at times is rushed, but in terms of athletic capabilities there are few better. His agility and acceleration is elite, and he can play down back or up forward, but he is best suited to the inside midfield role. He has that breakaway speed that would see him burst out of a stoppage and leave his opponents behind which is always something fans love to see.

#56 Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sparrow is a player who we have seen divide opinions as to where he falls in the draft, with his athleticism up there with the best of them, and just needing to iron out his kicking and decision making at times. He played mostly school football before returning to the South Adelaide Under 18s where he was as consistent as any other player in the competition. Sparrow has some great upside, and there’s certainly a lot to work with going forward, and like so many others here, is a top leader who will never let you down with his determination and leading by example.

#57 Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The tough, inside midfielder from East Fremantle did not get to show off his ability this year due to injury, but was rated as a solid third round choice – possibly higher with a good year – coming into 2018. While his size works against him for an inside midfielder at AFL level, he still represents great value, and is one of a number of players in this late bracket that could find a home despite having his most important footballing year ruined by injury. He has good speed, clean hands, great endurance and is one of the more professional players in the draft crop, so will be another who can slot straight in and do everything expected of him from day one.

#58 Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

A bit of an underrated player, Hanrahan offers great value later in the draft. The exciting forward has an impressive ability to impact a match inside 50, and does not need many touches to influence the contest. While he can be hot and cold at times, the brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie, has shown he has some draftable qualities. Classy, composed and an ability to move into the midfield and run off a wing, against his consistency, is something that recruiters will consider when weighing up whether to select Hanrahan. He will add a point of difference to a forward line, and has high upside for fans to look forward to in the future.

#59 Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Everyone talked about Geelong and Collingwood’s pick swap in the 50s as benefiting the Pies, but it also benefited the Cats, with the Geelong father-son selection of Brownless likely to occur sometime in the late 50s onwards. He lacks a yard of speed, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for in almost unrivalled endurance. He can run all day long, and not only have an impact in the midfield, but up forward as well. Could end up more of a forward in his AFL career, as he has that unique goal sense and game smarts that gets him there.

#60 Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons/Coburg/Vic Metro)

The ‘Pod’ kicks off our list because after missing out last year, he has gone back and worked on various areas that he might have lacked in – which included question marks over his ability to play as a full-time midfielder. He spent most of his top-age year playing more key position or third-tall roles rather than in the midfield, and in 2018, he became that midfielder that everyone at the Cannons knew he could be. He spent time in the VFL and impressed, while not losing his versatility to play anywhere on the ground. A great leader, good overhead, just slots into any side and could instantly improve the culture with his own standards and a player that certainly deserves a call-up.

AFL Draft Central November 2018 Power Rankings: 46-60

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. While even for us the top 60 would change regularly based on more discussions and re-watching footage, we take a look at our top 60, starting with the 46-60 players today. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

#60 Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons/Coburg/Vic Metro)

The ‘Pod’ kicks off our list because after missing out last year, he has gone back and worked on various areas that he might have lacked in – which included question marks over his ability to play as a full-time midfielder. He spent most of his top-age year playing more key position or third-tall roles rather than in the midfield, and in 2018, he became that midfielder that everyone at the Cannons knew he could be. He spent time in the VFL and impressed, while not losing his versatility to play anywhere on the ground. A great leader, good overhead, just slots into any side and could instantly improve the culture with his own standards and a player that certainly deserves a call-up.

#59 Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Everyone talked about Geelong and Collingwood’s pick swap in the 50s as benefiting the Pies, but it also benefited the Cats, with the Geelong father-son selection of Brownless likely to occur sometime in the late 50s onwards. He lacks a yard of speed, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for in almost unrivalled endurance. He can run all day long, and not only have an impact in the midfield, but up forward as well. Could end up more of a forward in his AFL career, as he has that unique goal sense and game smarts that gets him there.

#58 Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

A bit of an underrated player, Hanrahan offers great value later in the draft. The exciting forward has an impressive ability to impact a match inside 50, and does not need many touches to influence the contest. While he can be hot and cold at times, the brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie, has shown he has some draftable qualities. Classy, composed and an ability to move into the midfield and run off a wing, against his consistency, is something that recruiters will consider when weighing up whether to select Hanrahan. He will add a point of difference to a forward line, and has high upside for fans to look forward to in the future.

#57 Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The tough, inside midfielder from East Fremantle did not get to show off his ability this year due to injury, but was rated as a solid third round choice – possibly higher with a good year – coming into 2018. While his size works against him for an inside midfielder at AFL level, he still represents great value, and is one of a number of players in this late bracket that could find a home despite having his most important footballing year ruined by injury. He has good speed, clean hands, great endurance and is one of the more professional players in the draft crop, so will be another who can slot straight in and do everything expected of him from day one.

#56 Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sparrow is a player who we have seen divide opinions as to where he falls in the draft, with his athleticism up there with the best of them, and just needing to iron out his kicking and decision making at times. He played mostly school football before returning to the South Adelaide Under 18s where he was as consistent as any other player in the competition. Sparrow has some great upside, and there’s certainly a lot to work with going forward, and like so many others here, is a top leader who will never let you down with his determination and leading by example.

#55 Tom Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

The lightning younger brother of Brisbane Lions’ Jarrod, offers really unbelievable value here. Over the past 18 months, Berry has struggled to get on the park for continuity, and therefore slipped down the order. His kicking and decision making at times is rushed, but in terms of athletic capabilities there are few better. His agility and acceleration is elite, and he can play down back or up forward, but he is best suited to the inside midfield role. He has that breakaway speed that would see him burst out of a stoppage and leave his opponents behind which is always something fans love to see.

#54 Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

McKenzie has had a solid year playing TAC Cup and school football, and is that mid-range draft prospect who is still raw, but has some nice traits. He is likely to have found a nice role at half-back, using his kicking to advantage, along with his ability to set-up well and position himself for intercept marks. A very lightly built player, McKenzie can also play in the midfield, often on a wing with lightning pace that he does not often show in games – he clocked 2.9 seconds on the 20m sprint. Once he can really implement his athletic abilities to impact a contest, he will be all the more damaging.

#53 Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A high impact per possession player, Ham over-age year was a massive improvement on past years, and is yet a third 19 year-old in this list that might get a second chance. Playing half-forward, half-back and on the wing, Ham is arguably the best athlete when taking into account speed, agility and endurance, with the Falcons utility in the top few across all the tests. He is still light so will need to bulk up a bit and iron out the kicking so it is a bit more consistent, but when he is up and about he is very damaging. He is a player that only needs a handful of touches to turn a match and he has the athletic capabilities to completely wear down an opponent and on that alone, he deserves a spot on this list.

#52 Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

It might be a bit strange to see the big man this far down after being so high initially, but as we see every year, rucks tend to drop towards November as the reality of whether or not talls are worth taking early continues to rage. As one of only a handful of genuine ruck talents, expect Bowman to land somewhere in the second half of the draft with some nice ruck work, but will be viewed as a long-term prospect. At times had a bit of an up-and-down year, but turned it on in the TAC Cup decider and was one of the best for the Stingrays, which gave clubs a huge indication of where he might fall.

#51 Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A medium forward who plays taller than his 184cm, even though it looks at times as if a gust of wind might knock him over. Very light, Kemp has a great vertical leap, impressive closing speed, and an insatiable attack on the football and ball carrier. He does all the defensive things right which is what you want from any player, but especially a forward who is capable of a nice highlights package as well. Received the call-up from school football after an impressive season, then was very good for the Cannons in the final month. Knows where the goals are, and when he is not kicking them, he is trying to win the ball back.

#50 Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Hawthorn fans have a beauty in ‘Mozzie’ with the exciting forward the kind of player that could walk away from a game with 10 touches and you go home thinking “gee how good was he?”. Mosquito’s clean ball use is about as good as you will see, with his ability to pick the ball off the deck in the wet like he has velcro hands is up there with the likes of Tarryn Thomas at the top of the charts. Like any small forward, Mosquito does need to work on his consistency, but he is a natural match winner who worries opponents whenever he gets near the football. Attacks both offensively and defensively with vigour and is not afraid to bring down much bigger opponents.

#49 Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

In the back half of the season, school footballers who did not get the call-up or choose not to play TAC Cup early in the season often throw on the jumper for the final month, and Reynolds is one of those. Not too dissimilar to Nathan Murphy the year before, Reynolds is that medium-tall utility who can play anywhere on the ground. Hailing from Brighton Grammar – the same school as Murphy – Reynolds is a nice kick of the football, and just knows how to find it. He is one of those dark horses of the draft that could be plucked out early given his scope for improvement.

#48 Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Had it not been for an unfortunate sling tackle in the National Under 18 Championships, Vandermeer’s year could have been even better. To that point, the overager was looking as good as any other 1999-born player going around in the TAC Cup, and it earned him a place in Vic Country’s side. His run-and-carry, dare and dash really excited fans, and he is the type of player that just takes off and does not fear taking the game on. He wins a lot of the football and while he is predominantly an outside player, he uses his speed to also apply defensive pressure, and fiercely attacks the ball carrier. One who could go later or as a rookie, but the need for speed is great in modern football, and Vandermeer has that need in spades.

#47 James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Rowbottom is the well-publicised nephew of ‘BT’ (Brian Taylor) and is another one of many inside midfielders in the draft crop. He has good speed and never takes a backwards step, being one of the top clearance midfielders in the TAC Cup. He wins it on the inside, spreads to the outside and just keeps plugging away all day long. Rowbottom needs to improve his endurance, but he has the talent to keep improving, and the dedication to make sure it happens. Another one who could easily go earlier should a club like what he has to offer, but expect him to be a mid-draft option and a player who could slide into a senior side fairly early on, with Rowbottom just needing to sharpen up his kicking a bit.

#46 Tyron Smallwood (Claremont/Western Australia)

Not much has been said about the classy outside midfielder/small forward, but he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and is one of the players we rate as a mid-draft prospect. He just does a lot right and is a player who while undersized, is capable of being accountable for an opponent. He kicks goals and lays tackles, and can also move through the midfield with an ability to win the footy and drive it forward. He is not as quick as other small forwards, but he has fairly good evasion skills, and his ability to execute by hand or foot is impressive. Smallwood just seems like the type of player that clubs secretly want to drop and then call it a bargain later on, because he has some very draftable qualities.

 

Who were next in line?

South Australians, Hugo Munn and Tom Lewis, Gippsland Power over-ager Matthew McGannon, Dandenong inside midfielder, Sam Fletcher and Oakleigh Chargers’ ball-winner, Will Golds were all borderline on making the top 60.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Preliminary Finals

THE final four became two with wins to Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers over Sandringham Dragons and Gippsland Power respectively. We took a look at some of the combine invitees from the day, as well as the Under 17 Futures players.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Sandringham Dragons

Dandenong:

By: Ed Pascoe

#9 Zac Foot

Foot had his moments showing his talent with his run and ability to get forward into dangerous positions. Despite playing an outside role he was not afraid to get his hands dirty and win the contested ball in the first quarter. He kicked a nice running goal in the second quarter to add to his sides total. Foot made a few mistakes including kicking into the man on the mark in the second quarter and a few errors were made with ball in hand, but his run and strength in one on ones shone above his few mistakes. Foot finished with 14 disposals, four marks and one goal. 

 #13 Riley Bowman

Bowman had a solid outing playing in the ruck and up forward and he got better and better as the game went on. Bowman showed nice defensive efforts which was on display early with a good chase in the first quarter. He showed his nice movement for his size in a contest up forward where he was able to get around multiple opponents although he was unable to turn that into a scoring opportunity. Bowman had some wasteful kicks inside 50 but he was able to hit up Williams for a nice pass inside 50. Bowman finished with 12 disposals, eight tackles, six inside 50s and 21 hitouts. 

 #15 Toby Bedford

Bedford was impressive once again for Dandenong with his excitement around the ball really catching the eye and he proved a constant handful for Sandringham. Bedford showed his trademark dash and agility throughout all four quarters proving to be too slick and slippery to tackle. He showed his physical side with a big bump that sent his opponent over the boundary line in the second quarter and went on to kick two goals in the quarter including a lovely snap goal on the boundary. His third would come with another nice snap in the third term and he did the team things well in the last quarter with a nice kick inside 50 to Bayne in the pocket. Bedford finished the game with 12 disposals, six tackles and three goals. 

#29 Bailey Williams

Williams was the dominant big man on the ground with three goals proving a difficult matchup for the Sandringham talls Corey Watts and Charlie Dean. His first goal came from a mark and then set shot goal in the first quarter and his final two goals came in the last quarter, one coming from a lovely contested mark where he nailed the set shot and the other was much easier with him running straight into an open goal in the goal square. Williams finished the game with 11 disposals, four tackles, 14 hitouts and three goals and three behinds 

#58 Will Hamill

Hamill was very classy with his run off half-back where he showed his clean hands and movement through traffic along with his lovely left foot to hit targets. This game was not as big as last weeks but he still played his role down back rarely getting beaten and looking comfortable with ball in hand coming out of defence. Hamill finished with 13 disposals, three marks and four rebounds. 

 #59 Sam Sturt

Sturt showed why he is a highly sought after talent displaying his great hands on multiple occasions and showing off his dangerous kicking skills on his left foot. Sturt’s best quarter was his second taking some nice marks and laying some good tackles. He showed off his kicking with a nice long pass inside 50 and he showed his creativity with ball in hand with a good handball over his head which lead to a goal. Sturt’s first goal came in the third quarter with nice recovery after a marking contest and then kicking a nice snap goal. He showed his terrific judgment overhead with a nice mark on the wing in the last quarter where he managed to take the mark behind his opponent.  Sturt finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks, six tackles and two goals. 

 

Sandringham:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Alastair Richards

Found himself mostly behind the play and while he did not win much of the ball, he had an eye catching moment when running through the middle of the ground with pace which resulted in a goal to Mahony during the first quarter. He was very reliable defensively as well, laying 10 tackles and using his acceleration to hold his opposition up.

#7 Liam Stocker

It was a character propelling performance by the Morrish Medal winner who continued on despite nursing a shoulder complaint for a majority of the match. While he already appeared sore beforehand, a hard hit from Sam Fletcher saw Stocker go off, but he returned to the field to tough it out despite being in obvious discomfort. He fought tooth and nail for his 18 disposals and still managed to lay 10 tackles with that shoulder restriction. He looked rushed on occasions with attention from Campbell Hustwaite and Jake Frawley at the stoppages, but it was a commendable effort to fight on and it was not unnoticed.

#27 Jack Mahony

The 16 year old is a really clever and creative player, especially inside 50 where his goal sense and nous is obvious. He gets in positions where defenders get panicky when the ball hits the ground and is difficult to contain. He kicked two opportunistic goals and had good moments through the midfield as well, collecting 17 disposals. He makes things happen with ball in hand and despite being only 176cm, he has plenty of tricks for clubs to be excited about next year.

#28 James Rendell

The Brisbane father-son prospect is giving the Lions and the other clubs plenty to think about after an outstanding Preliminary Final outing. He competed well in the ruck against the likes of Bowman and Williams, but it was around the ground where he was truly influential. In tricky windy conditions, he read the ball superbly in the air to take multiple contested marks. At ground level he fought to win five clearances and if he did not win the ball, he would throw his body around or tackle. He finished with 18 disposals, seven marks and 23 hitouts to clearly be Sandringham’s best player on the day.

#29 Ben King

The top five prospect had quiet periods after a hot start, where he took four marks leading up the ground in the first quarter. Although Dandenong’s dominance meant he lacked supply and could not be as involved as previous weeks. He still managed to hit the scoreboard and was dangerous when the ball was in his area. He kicked a goal from an easy crumb in the second quarter and earned a free kick after attacking the ball at its highest point late in the game.

#33 Will Kennedy

The 198cm combine invitee did not have a huge impact on the game, starting in the forward arc and relieving Rendell in the ruck. He only won seven disposals, but had a real crack defensively laying eight tackles. He had a moment in the opposition goal square during the third quarter where he cleaned up teammate Corey Watts with a lack of communication between the two, but you could not question his attack at the ball.

#48 Josh Worrell

The bottom-aged prospect has had an impressive finals series and again looked right at home in defence for Sandringham. He is a tidy left footer who at 195cm, is capable of playing tall, sitting in the hole or manning a medium type as he did on Sam Sturt. While he gave his opponent latitude at times, he reads the play well and took a strong contested intercept mark in the final term. One to keep an eye on next year.

#52 Charlie Dean

Another bottom-aged Dragon who impressed behind the play and won plenty of the ball. He looked comfortable defensively and got into smart positions. He is a good size at 194cm and appears to possess flexibility to play different roles in the back half. Dean arguably played his best game to date for Sandringham to finish with 18 disposals and seven marks.

#72 Darcy Chirgwin

Chirgwin will be yet another 2019 draft prospect for Sandringham who proved to possess some quality forward traits on Saturday. He only won nine disposals, but looked likely every time the ball was in his area inside 50. He took a strong contested mark in the second term and kicked truly, following that up shortly with a clever dribble goal. Like Dean and Worrell, we will see Chirgwin in a couple of weeks in the U17 Futures game at the MCG on Grand Final day.

#74 Harry Reynolds

One of the bolters of the draft, Reynolds started at the first centre bounce and won early midfield possessions. He consistently got his hands first on the ball, but the faster paced game and higher quality opposition meant he fumbled on occasions and did not always have the time to release efficiently. In saying that, he is a fascinating prospect at 190cm and possesses enormous scope in his game. He finished with 15 disposals and three clearances, but you suspect he has a whole lot more than those numbers to provide as he develops.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Gippsland:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

One of the few Power players who could come away satisfied with their individual performance. He started in the midfield and gathered a couple of early touches, before spending long periods forward for the rest of the game. Obviously lacking opportunities in the front half, Serong was his usual clean and efficient self when in possession of the pill. He finally got Gippsland on the board with a well read dribble goal in the fourth term, before earning a free kick shortly after to double his and the team’s tally. He finished with 14 disposals and two goals which was a respectable effort in a big loss.

#4 Sam Flanders

Despite the dominance of the Oakleigh midfield in the first half, Flanders competed and fought hard when at the stoppages to ensure the opposition didn’t have it all their own way. He laid a physical chase down tackle on Will Kelly in the first term to earn a free kick and won a couple of eye catching clearances against the play. He took a strong body on body grab inside 50 in the third term, but was not seen as frequently as the game went on.

#5 Xavier Duursma

On an extremely tough day for Gippsland, one thing you could not question was the determination of the captain. Duursma did all he possibly could to stem the Charger’s flow of goals both offensively and defensively, but was often found lacking support against the quality opposition. He wasn’t allowed to find his usual space, which often lead to Oakleigh players hanging off him from a contested situation which affected his efficiency. He did manage to break free and hit Austin Hodge lace out inside 50 from a stoppage, but these moments were few and far between. His desperate, diving tackle efforts ensured he lost no admirers and is sure to be in first round contention come November.

#9 Irving Mosquito

It certainly was not Mosquito’s most prolific or influential outing of the year, but the Hawthorn Next Generation Academy prospect still managed to create the occasional eye catching moment. “Mozzie” looked his most dangerous at the stoppages, weaving through traffic, creating space from nothing and turning onto his left as he does best. He only won nine disposals, but clubs really like him which may lead to Hawthorn matching a bid earlier than they would like.

#11 Austin Hodge

The 19 year-old was in and out of the game playing forward and rotating through the midfield. You can never doubt his intent and courage, as proven in the first term when he attacked an aerial ball from an awkward position without question. He no doubt would have liked to get more involved in his final game for the club, but his years of commitment and outstanding character have left a lasting mark.

#12 Brock Smith

In the absence of Kyle Reid, Smith was required to play a taller role behind the ball and had to deal with constant Oakleigh entrances from the outset. He defended as well as he could have considering the quality of the attacks coming in, even taking a strong intercept mark in the first term. While he made an error in the middle of the ground in the second term that resulted in a goal, he attacked the ball at every opportunity and provided a physical presence that his teammates could not replicate.

#18 Matt McGannon

Unfortunately he did not start the game in great fashion, turning the ball over from a kick out that directly resulted in a goal. It was an uncharacteristic error, but he improved as the game went on in difficult circumstances. He has had an outstanding season and has proven to be one of the best users of the ball in the competition, on either side of his body. McGannon has his second consecutive Draft Combine coming up and will embrace to opportunity to impress the clubs again.

#23 Noah Gown

Gown was deprived of the aerial opportunities of recent weeks, but still looked ominous when the ball went in his direction. He won an excellent one on one against Kelly early, keeping his feet after competing for the mark and gathering eventually in space. He also took an extremely strong mark on the lead in the second term under extreme pressure. It was the thirteenth time in 14 matches since moving forward that he has been named in Power’s best. He has arguably been the biggest improver this year and has ended the season having given himself every chance in the November drafts.

 

Oakleigh:

By: Ed Pascoe 

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

Collier-Dawkins backed up his impressive game last week with an even better performance this week proving too be too quick and too strong through the midfield. Collier-Dawkins’ hands at stoppages were clean and he often got his arms free to release to running teammates. His speed around the ground was telling where he often would take the ball either with a mark or in general play and always look to play on and get the play moving. Once the rain started, Collier-Dawkins showed his best bit of play to date where he kicked a classy checkside goal on the run in the third quarter and although missing the set shot his speed to take a nice contested mark in the last quarter was impressive. Collier-Dawkins finished with 26 disposals, six inside 50s and one goal. 

#4 Will Kelly

Will Kelly had a quiet game down back, the ball did not spend much time down there but he did the defensive things well and looked composed with ball in hand. Kelly finished with eight disposals, three marks and our rebounds.

 #9 James Rowbottom

Rowbottom has been one of Oakleigh’s most consistent midfielders this year and that was also the case against Gippsland with another tough performance. Rowbottom again did his best work at the clearances using his burst of speed and clean hands to win clearances around the ground. He has struggled to hit the scoreboard this year but he had a few chances in the third quarter where he snapped a behind at a stoppage before finally kicking a goal with a nice opposite foot snap. Rowbottom finished the game with 24 disposals and one goal. 

 #12 Noah Answerth

Answerth was one of many dominant midfielders for Oakleigh with his clearance work and tough attitude on display at stoppages. Answerth was terrific by hand often showing good vision and ran with the ball on a few occasions to give himself time to pick the right options. A few kicks he had where slammed on the boot at stoppages which would effect his efficiency but they were often the right option. He only had the four kicks for the game often using his best feature which was his handballing. He kicked a nice long goal in the first quarter coming from a set shot from 50 meters. Answerth was a solid contributor over the four quarters and he finished the game with 23 disposals, five tackles and one goal. 

 #23 Isaac Quaynor

Quaynor did not get to show a huge amount of his talent playing in defence, but he was still able to show why he is a possible top 20 pick. Quaynor was cool and clam with ball in hand and was not afraid to take the game on. He had plenty of clearing kicks from defence and he made good decisions throughout the game. Quanyor had a solid finish to game pushing up the ground and he looks set for a big game next week finishing with 14 disposals and four rebound 50s 

 #31 Will Golds

Golds was a ball magnet on the wing for Oakleigh and he was huge in the opening quarter with his run and carry and ability to find the ball. Golds had a good mix of linking play with handballs while also getting them back and pumping the ball inside 50. As much as he is an outside player he still managed to take a nice contested mark in the second quarter. Golds’ ball use was mostly very effective especially by hand and he had a great kick inside 50 to Day in the third quarter. Golds finished the game with 26 disposals and five inside 50s. 

Oakleigh charges into Grand Final with 93-point victory over Gippsland

OAKLEIGH Chargers have won their third consecutive game by 15 goals or more with a 93-point thrashing of second-placed Gippsland Power. The Chargers were all over the Power from start to finish and never realistically looked like losing. Their ball use in the wet was superb

It was a sense of deja vu for the crowd from the week before, as Oakleigh’s Matt Rowell put the ball through the big sticks and got the first major on the board with a running shot – slightly different to his set shot against Western the week before, but nonetheless, he was the first key scorer. Gippsland was sanding strong with a couple of important inside 50s, with a couple of opportunities but could not convert, and it was six-goal hero from last week, Dylan Williams who made it two for the Chargers with a great goal off a couple of steps.

A piece of class from Atu Bosenavulagi saw him centre into the middle to hit-up Noah Answerth on the 50m line. The subsequent 60m roost from Answerth sailed through and got the Chargers up and about. Then when Jake Gasper kicked one through the middle, the danger signs were there for the Power, as Oakleigh moved 25 points up. The third member of Oakleigh’s version of the Holy Trinity – Noah Anderson – used some terrific soccer skills to boot the ball off the ground in the wet to sail one home for the Chargers’ fifth.

Rowell almost had a second goal on the run but it just missed to the left. Oakleigh’s passing in horrible conditions was a treat, with a superb pass from Trent Bianco off half-back to Gasper in midfield one of the top kicks of the day. The play from end-to-end lead to a shot on goal to Charlie Whitehead after a strong tackle, but his set shot also drifted to the left.

Gippsland came out with a better intensity early, with Austin Hodge having a set shot but just missing early. Noah Gown took a huge one-on-one mark on the lead against Will Kelly, clunking a big grab despite Kelly’s pressure. His shot just missed to the left, with Gippsland ruing a few missed opportunities. Sam Flanders laid a big tackle at half-back to earn a free in a second term derived of highlights. Gippsland had stemmed the flow, but neither side could hit the scoreboard.

Then, just as it looked like they were struggling to find a way to press on, Williams went bang, bang and booted two majors in the space of a minute. First he got goal side of his opponent and ran into an easy major, then outmarked his opponent and snapped it round to give the Chargers two quick replies and extend the margin out to 45. Williams piled on some more pain as Oakleigh ran the length of the ground from half-back and the small forward made it four with three consecutive goals, receiving the handball on the line, turning around and kicked it from point blank to push it past 50. A minute later, Gasper conquered up an amazing snap from the pocket bouncing its way through and making it a whopping 57 points.

While a few positional changes from the Power hoped to bring on some better news in the second half, it was a perfect kick from Will Golds to the leading Matthew Day, adding his name to the goal kickers chart. If there was a goal to beat Gasper’s second term effort for goal of the day, it belonged to Oakleigh midfielder, Jack Ross who snapped around his body and it sailed through, showing great smarts. Ross was one of the best on the ground, winning a truckload of the ball and really having an influence on the game.

Gippsland had a nice passage of play from half-back leading to a strong mark inside 50 to Flanders, who had been one of the Power’s top players. He went back and had a shot from a tight angle, but it drifted to the right in the wind and just missed. Gasper’s prowess in front of the big sticks continued with the goal sneak nailed another set shot from just inside 50 and the game was well and truly done. Caleb Serong, Boadie Motton and Gown were trying hard along with Duursma and Flanders, but the overwhelming Oakleigh numbers were proving too much for the Power players.

Riley Collier-Dawkins showed off his strength and acceleration in two instances, first breaking the tackle of Irving Mosquito and kicking long, then moving forward, receiving the handball and bursting away to snap a great goal. A couple of minutes later, James Rowbottom snapped around his body courtesy of a Gasper handball and put it through and all of a sudden it was 90 points the margin and much like the weather, Gippsland’s day went from bad to worse.

It took until the first minute of the final term for Gippsland to break through for their first goal, but a quick dribbler from Caleb Serong put them on the board to ensure they did not go goalless for the match. Then Serong had another chance running into goal but sprayed it to the left. He was pushed in the back and awarded a free, but in a weird decision, the behind counted and Serong took the free kick from 15m out, putting it through for two in as many minutes.

Oakleigh missed a chance through Gasper, and the game had lost its intensity. Gown kicked a dribbler to add his name on the board and make it three consecutive goals for the Power. The frustration of the result for the Power was boiling over as Josh Smith was reported for a clash with Charlie Beasley. Oakleigh moved the ball into attack where Charlie Whitehead had a crack on goal but it was touched en-route to goal and registered just one behind.

Collier-Dawkin  (26 disposals, four marks, five clearances and five inside 50s) was arguably Oakleigh’s best player in the win, while he missed a late chance, scoring a behind from a set shot, he was strong throughout the match. While the game was over, Atu Bosenavulagi and Matthew Day both kicked late goals to put the Chargers beyond 100. Then Bailey Wraith put one through to ensure Oakleigh won all four quarters in a thumping 93-point win.

Others who stood out for Oakleigh were Ross (29 disposals, six marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and one goal), Joe Ayton Delaney (32 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds), and Answerth (23 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances and one goal) were others who found plenty of the football. Duursma (18 disposals, seven tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) stood tall for his team, while Serong had a big last term, finishing the game with 13 disposals, two inside 50s and two goals).

GIPPSLAND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.3 | 3.4 (22)
OAKLEIGH 5.4 | 9.5 | 14.10 | 17.13 (115)

GOALS:

Gippsland: Caleb Serong 2, Noah Gown
Oakleigh: Dylan Williams 4, Jake Gasper 3, Matthew Day 2, Matt Rowell, Noah Answerth, Noah Anderson, Jack Ross, Riley Collier-Dawkins, James Rowbottom, Atu Bosenavulagi, Bailey Wraith.

BEST:

Gippsland: Xavier Duursma, Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Boadie Motton, Ryan Sparkes.
Oakleigh: Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jack Ross, Jake Gasper, Dylan Williams, Noah Answerth, Joe Ayton-Delaney, Will Golds.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Preliminary finals

WE are down to the final four TAC Cup sides for season 2018, with Dandenong Stingrays taking on Sandringham Dragons, and Gippsland Power facing Oakleigh Chargers to determine the two, 2018 Grand Finalists.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 11.30am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Last week:

In the first of two preliminary finals, we take a look at the minor premiers, Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the fourth placed Sandringham Dragons. Last weekend, the Stingrays were on another level compared to the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, thumping them by 110 points, while the Dragons proved too good for the Murray Bushrangers in a 43-point win.

Last time:

Sandringham Dragons 6.10 (46) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 14.9 (93)

In the final round of the TAC Cup season, Dandenong Stingrays ensured the Dragons had a nervous wait across the weekend, with a top four spot on the line. Sandringham luckily witnessed Northern Knights upsetting Murray Bushrangers to earn a weekend off. On the day, Sam Sturt and Finlay Bayne both booted three goals, while Matthew Cottrell claimed best on ground for the Stingrays. For the Dragons, Angus Hanrahan was the only multiple goal kicker with two majors, while James Rendell and Liam Stocker were impressive – Stocker picking up the three votes in the match despite the 47-point loss.

 

THE KEY – INSIDE MIDFIELD

The big key in the game is which side can win the ball at the coal face and get the ball down to their key forwards and crumbers. Both sides have good firepower inside 50, and the clearances will be an area to watch with the teams having strong contested ball winners. Looking at the starting midfields, there is not much to split them with clearances and contested possessions practically even. Dandenong’s starting three midfielders lay more tackles, with Toby Bedford also spending time up forward and adding pressure up there.

Sandringham:

Liam Stocker 12.5 contested possessions, 5.6 clearances, 4.5 tackles
Harry Reynolds 10.0 contested possessions, 3.3 clearances, 2.3 tackles
Kai Owens 8.7 contested possessions, 3.8 clearances, 6.2 tackles

= 31.2 contested possessions, 12.7 clearances, 13 tackles

vs.

Dandenong:

Sam Fletcher 13.4 contested possessions, 5.2 clearances, 7.7 tackles
Campbell Hustwaite 11.0 contested possessions, 5.0 clearances, 6.1 tackles
Toby Bedford 8.0 contested possessions, 2.3 clearances, 5.7 tackles

= 32.4 contested possessions, 12.5 clearances, 19.5 tackles

 

WHY THE TEAMS WILL WIN?

Dandenong: The best team all year, depth that is envious of any other side and equal to that of fellow challenger, Oakleigh. They seem to have winners across all thirds of the ground and just made the Rebels look silly last week. A last round win against the Dragons will have the Stingrays’ confidence high to repeat the effort again. The Stingrays love a scrap and will be keen to beat the Dragons at the contest and use their bigger bodies to extract the ball and pump it long.

Sandringham: Any side with Ben King inside 50 is a threat, and the Stingrays will not only look to nullify him, but just cut off the delivery to him, full stop. But if the Dragons midfielders can get on top on the inside, then the Stingrays defence could be under siege. They also possess the ball really well and will look to play the ball on their terms with slick, short ball use.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 2pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Last week:

Gippsland Power managed to get over the highly dangerous Geelong Falcons with a 35-point victory at Ikon Park. They took four quarters to do it – leading by just eight points at the final break before a five-goal final term saw the second placed Power storm away with the game. The Chargers had a much easier game against Western Jets, shaking off an early challenge by the Jets to post a massive 120-point victory to earn a place in the preliminary final.

Last time:

Oakleigh Chargers 8.7 (55) defeated by Gippsland Power 9.6 (60)

Not much can be read into it given Oakleigh was missing the majority of its best 22, but Gippsland got the job done in a thriller at Warrawee Park with a Noah Gown goal in the dying seconds sealing a great comeback win. Noah Answerth bombed through a goal on the siren, but not release the ball until a second too late. The result left Oakleigh’s top four hopes in the lurch, but an impressive win over Sandringham Dragons and a 15-goal rout of the GWV Rebels put any threat of missing the week off to bed pretty soon. Daniel Scala booted four goals for the Chargers, while Trent Bianco and Sam Harte were named Oakleigh’s best in the loss. For Gippsland, Gown, Harrison Pepper and Sam Flanders all booted two goals, while Gown and Boadie Motton were named in the Power’s best.

 

THE KEY – FIREPOWER FORWARDS

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh head into the clash as sides that have dynamic forward lines. Gippsland has more structure to it, with two traditional talls in Gown and Josh Smith, while Oakleigh relies on a number of medium-talls and smalls rather than a key position monster. Last week, Dylan Williams booted six goals, while Atu Bosenavulagi, Jake Gasper, Charlie Whitehead and Jay Robertson all contributed multiple goals, while Gippsland had 10 individual goal kickers, with their club leading scorer Gown, contributing just the one.

As you will see from the below total, the top six goal kickers playing in the match provide plenty of options for midfielders to kick to, with some of the forwards spending time through the middle. Oakleigh’s six will largely form the six-man forward line against the Power, while Gippsland’s will see a number of their players begin in the midfield and rest forward.

Gippsland firepower:

Noah Gown – 30.18
Josh Smith – 20.7
Sam Flanders – 19.18
Austin Hodge – 14.13
Irving Mosquito – 14.4
Xavier Duursma – 13.5

Top 6: 110.65 (725)

Oakleigh firepower:

Jake Gasper – 38.15
Matthew Day – 20.10
Dylan Williams – 18.12
Jay Robertson – 15.8
Charlie Whitehead – 14.10
Atu Bosenavulagi – 13.9

Top 6: 118.64 (772)

 

WHY THE TEAMS WILL WIN?

Gippsland: The Power play an exciting brand of football that blends both speed and pressure which is really eye-catching, and will look to match Oakleigh at its own game of doing the same. The Power must simply bring the heat to the contest, because letting Oakleigh have too much time and space results in undesirable results for the team doing so.

Oakleigh: You cannot read into the season of the Chargers despite still finishing third. They are right up there with Dandenong in terms of premiership favourites and have stamped their authority with 90 and 120-point wins in their past two outings. They have ridiculous amounts of midfield depth and big bodies to control the inside while using their runners on the outside.

Gippsland powers to first finals win in six years with terrific victory over Geelong

GIPPSLAND Power are through to the preliminary for the first time since 2012, after knocking off the Geelong Falcons by 35 points. The Power had a fight on their hands after kicking the first four goals of the game, and lead by just 16 points at the final break, but powered home in the final term.

The first score of the day came courtesy of a Tye Hourigan error, marking on the goal line but then kicking between the behinds to force a rushed behind. Gippsland captain Xavier Duursma had about five touches in the opening few minutes and his run handed Josh Smith the opening goal of the game. The next clearance inside 50 saw the unbelievable talents of Irving Mosquito get boot to ball with class in the square and Gippsland had two majors on the board.

Geelong were still winning the football but the Gippsland defence was up to the task. Despite a good inside 50, Gippsland rushed it down the other end and big Rylan Henkel kicked a goal off a couple of steps and Gippsland was on fire. Noah Gown‘s aerial prowess was on show with a towering mark, but his decision to play on from the 35m set shot was surprising, however he found Leo Connolly who snapped a goal to make it four on the trot.

Blake Schlensog had clean hands off the deck and kick inside 50 but hit-up a Gippsland opponent. Ben Morton won a crucial one-on-one deep in defence, keeping his feet but did not realise he had time and space to his left, he handballed back in-board to Baxter Mensch who had a shot but it cannoned into the woodwork.

Keidan Rayner was producing some nice moves through midfield, sidestepping his opponents and kicking cleanly inside 50. Connor Idun lead hard from a quick snap on the boundary to mark on the ground. His set shot was perfect off the boot and got Gippsland on the board in the opening term. Mensch took a good mark one-on-one on 50, gave off the handball to Jay Dahlhaus, but the ball was rushed across the line by Hourigan. some great work by Dahlhaus saw him break a few tackles, handball to the free man in Idun and he kicked to Schlensog’s advantage 15m out, delivering the goal. to reduce the margin back to single digits. It did not last long, however with Smith taking a good mark and converting the set shot for his second major.

The second quarter started like the first, with Gippsland getting an early inside 50 and Duursma getting on the end of it with a great set shot goal. Sam Walsh got involved with a quick handpass to Brayden Ham in defence, but the kick was smothered and Bailey Beck pounced. Beck had a nice shot on goal but it bounced to the left and missed. A smothered kick off Riley Baldi‘s boot almost saw Geelong make the Power pay, with Charlie Harris snapping from 15m out, but spraying the attempt.

Charlie Sprague did not make the same mistake, being opportunistic with a fantastic snap to get the Falcons on the board and keep the momentum balanced. Sam Conway was winning some big hitouts through the ruck and Sam Walsh was getting involved everywhere. He won the football at the stoppage and cleared to a wing, then marked at half-forward. His shot on goal dropped short, but was marked in a big pack by Idun, who booted his second goal of the game.

One could sense the tide was turning, with Geelong getting more of the football forward of centre. Sprague had another chance from a good mark, but he went too close to the man on the mark and his set shot went out on the full. Just as it appeared to be that way, Oscar Brownless had a late tackle on Matthew McGannon for a downfield free. Harvey Neocleous made no mistake and kicked the goal. The Power pressure was mounting and it lead to a mistake on the goal line with Cooper Cartledge trying to rush the ball through but was tackled by Harrison Pepper. Lucky for the Geelong defence, Pepper missed the snap. It was not long before Connolly pounced on his second bending it around the body to sail one home from 40m out.

Cartledge’s work in defence was good one-on-one against Gown, beating him on multiple occasions, but unfortunately his kicking was off target with a number of clangers. Duursma had a chance from a set shot early in the piece, but got too close to the mark and tugged it to the left for a behind. Tempers flared a touch when a non-malicious but late all the same, push by Henkel on Keidan Rayner saw the Power ruck go into the umpire’s book. Ham had been quiet in the first half, but made it count with his set shot from outside 50, with a perfectly weighted kick to cut the deficit to 15 points early in the third. Caleb Serong was another who was not up to his usual high production standards in the first half, but had a chance in the third quarter with a snap that just missed.

Schlensog took a big mark at half-forward and had no hesitation in lining up for the set shot, but it drifted to the left and was punched across the line. The big man took another big grab moments later, and then a long bomb into the goal square off the next possession saw Walsh pounce and turn one way and then the other to get boot to ball. The goal umpire extraordinarily signalled it had been touched before changing his mind and calling it a goal after Walsh celebrated with teammates. Kyle Reid signalled he had indeed touched it, but with no goal review, the major stood and the Falcons were up to their ears in the contest. Everything was building towards a huge finish to the game with Gippsland still in front, but Geelong charging home. A great tackle from Sprague on the siren exemplified how much the Falcons had lifted in the term.

The momentum quickly shifted early in the final term with a great one-on-one mark and goal to Serong from the goal square. A few minutes later a Mosquito tackle at half-forward was rewarded and almost resulted in a goal to Beck, but the shot just missed. Nick Lowden also missed a chance running into goal, but Gippsland had the momentum. Lachlan Smith did well to lock up Mosquito inside 50 and clear the ball from danger. The Power fans could sense a preliminary final spot was almost there, and when Pepper ran into goal and nailed it, the crowd went up. A great chase by Duursma on Walsh resulted in a less than effective kick, with the Gippsland leader showing the way. If the nail was not already in the coffin, it certainly was when Beck kicked a running goal midway through the quarter.

Henkel received a free kick and converted the set shot, letting the Falcons defenders know about the score. Gippsland was home and hosed and through to a preliminary final. Gippsland was supremely confident, so much so Smith had a crack from the centre square and made the distance, but the accuracy was just to the right. Matthew McGannon‘s work off half-back throughout the game was consistent throughout, as was Boadie Motton in the midfield. Mosquito missed his chance for a second not long after, just spraying a flying shot on the goal. Sprague had a crack in the dying minutes but also missed. A 50m penalty to Ham saw the exciting forward finish the game with two and be among the best once again. While he did not have the points on Cartledge for the day, Gown kicked a late on for the Power.

Gippsland Power 5.1 | 8.3 | 9.5 | 13.10 (88)
Geelong Falcons 2.3 | 4.7 | 6.9 | 7.11 (53)

Gippsland: Josh Smith 2, Leo Connolly 2, Rylan Henkel 2, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito, Harvey Neocleous, Caleb Serong, Harrison Pepper, Noah Gown.
Geelong: Connor Idun 2, Brayden Ham 2, Charlie Sprague, Blake Schlensog, Sam Walsh.

ADC BEST:

Gippsland: Xavier Duursma, Leo Connolly, Rylan Henkel, Josh Smith, Matthew McGannon, Tye Hourigan
Geelong: Cooper Cartledge, Brayden Ham, Baxter Mensch, Lachlan Smith, Connor Idun, Charlie Sprague

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 15 Country

WE braved the chilly weather at Ballarat to take notes on some of the top performers in the Country Triple Header, while tomorrow we will post those top performers from today’s Metro Triple Header. The players were focused on either have received a state combine invitation, represented Vic Country or played in the Under 17 Futures game.

Gippsland Power vs. Murray Bushrangers

Gippsland:

By: Michael Alvaro

#5 Xavier Duursma

By his own accord, Duursma took time finding his feet in this game, but had a real impact on proceedings in the second half. He started off in typical fashion, on the move at stoppages and looking to push the ball forward quickly with his burst and clearance nous, while finding more ball on the outside in the second term. Some of his best moments came through his sheer presence around the ball, with a good bit of harassment in the third quarter leading to an Austin Hodge goal, and another repeat effort almost gifting Noah Gown one. He was clean in tricky conditions and showed his mix of class and toughness with a Worpel-esque hard ball get, shortly after he had evaded an opponent and dribbled through the sealing goal. A good testament to his character was that he told TAC Cup Radio he had to finish shaking hands with the opposition before giving a post-game interview – the kid is a ripper.

#6 Riley Baldi

Fresh off a great showing in the Under 17 Futures game for Vic Country, Baldi continued his impressive form through the midfield. He’s a master extractor, always busy at the stoppages and ever-present at the centre bounces in his long sleeves. He started off well with good attack on the footy, and his courageous marking attempt in the first term almost led to a Luke Williams goal. Baldi also showed he is a good judge of the ball in flight, with numerous marks taken as the ball came from high over his shoulder – one of which led to his highlight for the game in a clever snap from the boundary. He missed a couple more chances to hit the scoreboard, but his work rate to create those opportunities was fantastic to see, with one coming from an intercepted kick-out. It was a consistent showing throughout the day from the bottom-ager, one to keep an eye on for next year.

#9 Irving Mosquito

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy product was a little quiet throughout the game, but only needs a few touches to have an impact. He showed his typical flashes of brilliance though, handing off to Fraser Phillips for the first goal of the game, flicking out another to Josh Smith before he missed the shot, and taking the ball at speed in the midfield. He spent a good amount of time at the centre bounces, and was close to bursting away for some highlight reel clearances, but couldn’t quite break away.

#11 Austin Hodge

While Hodge didn’t rack up his usual amount of possessions, he managed to have an impact in a slightly different role. The over-ager started off finding a good amount of the footy between the arcs, but looked most damaging later on in a more advanced position. He kicked a nice goal on the run from just inside the 50 in the third term, but he would be disappointed not to have converted the two or three other chances he had in the second half.

#12 Brock Smith

Smith was part of Gippsland’s solid defensive unit, breaking down Murray’s attack and swiftly moving the ball out of danger. His rebounding was good in the first half as he often chose to kick long down the line, despite coughing the ball back up on occasion. While Smith made him earn it, he struggled during the third term to keep Zane Barzen quiet as Murray made a late push, but overall racked up a good amount of footy and did a good job of mopping up.

#16 Josh Smith

Smith was solid in the ruck with plenty of numbers around the stoppages and hitting his targets with his taps. He also worked well around the ground and found the ball in good areas inside 50, but couldn’t hit the scoreboard with two snaps falling short. He still managed to claim an assist for Riley Baldi’s goal with a long bomb into the pocket.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Another Gippsland product that starred in the Under 17s game, Phillips had an influential first half. Sporting two different coloured boots, Phillips booted the first goal of the game with a nice snap. He was front and centre at a heap of stoppages and pushed up the ground from half-forward to win more of the ball. His twists, turns and handball-fakes confused opponents and gave him time to deliver the ball on his left foot. Phillips had a particularly smooth turn in the second quarter which led to an inside 50, but unfortunately looked to have limped off later on.

#23 Noah Gown

Arguably the in-form key forward of the competition, Gown continued his tremendous second half of the season with another three goals. He looked strong one-on-one with solid contested marks and led up hard at the footy all day. Perhaps the most impressive part of Gown’s game was his work rate and physical presence, with a hard-earned holding the ball tackle in the first term followed by an intercept mark from a kick-out, a shepherd which allowed Harrison Pepper to run into an open goal, and repeat digs at the ball to almost claim an overhead kick goal. The unsurpassable highlight of Gown’s day however was his sensational goal from the boundary from about 40 metres out, with a long hoof somehow bouncing its way through the middle.

#25 Kyle Reid

While Reid didn’t have much to do at times, he led the Gippsland defence well and was solid as ever. He did a good job on the dangerous Hudson Garoni in keeping him goalless, while also calmly rebounding out of defence by foot.

Murray:

By: Scott Dougan

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen started off quietly but was able to work himself into the match after quarter time. He kicked the Bushrangers first goal of the match in the second quarter after taking a strong mark on the lead, showing off his sticky fingers. His leading patterns were superb all day, along with his ability to mark the ball at the highest point, which made it extremely difficult for the Power defenders to stop. Barzen was unstoppable in the third quarter, booting two impressive goals to keep the Bushrangers within striking distance. He was the most dangerous forward on the ground, along with Gippsland Power’s, Noah Gown. Overall, Barzen was outstanding for the Bushrangers, kicking three goals. His versatility and athleticism is what makes him such an exciting prospect.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash was involved in a heavy collision halfway through the first and appeared to be sore for the remainder of the quarter. He started to get more involved in the second term when he was awarded a free kick for a brilliant tackle in the defensive 50 on livewire, Irving Mosquito. Due to windy conditions on the day, his kicking wasn’t at his usual high standards, but he was still able to find plenty of the ball, especially in the second half. Ash’s final quarter was his best for the day. He was able to find plenty of space throughout the middle of the ground, putting his speed and agility to good use. He did his best to provide some effective run and carry, which was important for the Bushrangers moving forward. Ash has spent a lot of time across half-back this season but he was able to play the majority of his minutes as an outside midfielder today. Definitely one to keep a close eye on next year.

#18 Hudson Garoni

It was a difficult day for Garoni, with the powerful forward lining up on the in-form defender, Kyle Reid. The lack of inside 50s for the Bushrangers in the first quarter made it near impossible for Garoni to get involved. He worked himself into the match during the second quarter, setting up the first score of the day for the Bushrangers. Garoni displayed good vision with ball in hand and he was able to lower his eyes on multiple occasions to deliver the ball to his teammates on the lead. Garoni competed hard all day, but in the end, had his coloured lowered by Reid.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Geelong:

By: Scott Dougan

#8 Ned McHenry

The fiery midfielder was important for the Falcons with his consistent efforts on the contest and his defensive running. He wasn’t one of the biggest ball-winners on the ground but when he won the ball, he did his best to provide some run and carry for his team. McHenry’s pace and agility proved beneficial when it came to escaping congestion and breaking tackles. He finished with 18 disposals and five tackles.

#20 Brayden Ham

Ham was terrific playing across the half-back line for the Falcons and occasionally contributed through the midfield. He found the ball in all areas of the ground and he was exceptionally clean, especially in the wet conditions. Ham demonstrated that he is capable of playing in any position. This season, he has spent time in the forward line, backline and through the midfield, signifying his versatility. His marking was one of the highlights of his game, along with his clean and quick hands in tight.

#22 Sam Walsh

Walsh did what Walsh does best – accumulate plenty of possessions and run hard. Walsh was consistent throughout four quarters, but I thought he was not extremely damaging with ball in hand. In the first term, Walsh kicked an impressive goal on the run in the first term after impacting a marking contest that resulted in a turnover. He played mainly as an outside midfielder but he was able to win the contested ball when needed. Walsh knows how and where to win the ball, in all areas of the ground, which is what makes him such a damaging player. He was able to boot his second goal of the day in the final term, with an impressive snapshot from 35 metres out, keeping the Falcons within striking distance. The possible number one pick finished two goals and 25 disposals, leading all-comers on the ground.

#30 Oscar Brownless

The father-son midfielder was good but still needs to work on his consistency. He worked hard all day to get from contest to contest and showcased his offensive attributes with an exciting running goal in the second term. His defensive efforts were was also a highlight, laying a match-high 10 tackles.

#39 Connor Idun

It was a tough day at the office for the defender, especially in the difficult conditions. Idun played as a forward and with the strong winds and rain, was unable to get heavily involved. Idun is a natural defender and playing him as a forward had an impact on his output. As he develops, Idun will work on his forward craft and will hopefully become extremely dangerous at both ends of the ground.

#41 Cooper Stephens

The bottom-ager was outstanding in close and he continuously released the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. Stephens was not afraid to put his head over the ball and he worked exceptionally hard to apply as much defensive pressure as possible. His tackling was relentless and effective, laying eight for the match. An exciting prospect to watch next year.

#44 Sam Conway

The weather did not suit the big man but he worked tirelessly in the ruck all match. His first quarter was his best of the day, gathering plenty of possessions in all areas of the ground while providing his midfielders first use around stoppages. As conditions worsened after half-time, Conway’s impact was limited but he showed positive signs early on.

#48 Blake Schlensog

The imposing 198cm forward was fantastic in the first term. He had two shots on goal within 30 seconds, with the second shot converted successfully. Schlensog’s presence on the ground and in the air, was clear, taking plenty of strong marks and winning plenty of the ball in contested situations. He shared ruck duties with Sam Conway throughout the day and handed himself terrifically. His influence was limited in the second half but his inspiring first half did not go unnoticed.

#49 Dane Hollenkamp

Hollenkamp spent plenty of time on the highly-rated Stingray, Bailey Williams. Hollenkamp competed well and tried hard defensively, laying plenty of tackles and spoils when required. The highlight of his game came in the second quarter when he laid an important smother on William’s attempted shot on goal. Hollenkamp is still lacking in strength and size and will need to build on his frame before he can have an impact at a higher level. However, his defensive positioning, spoiling and efforts are encouraging.

 

Dandenong:

By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Hayden Young

The bottom-ager didn’t have his most damaging game, but showed glimpses of why he is already so highly touted for the 2019 draft. Young was clean in the contest and ran hard to make as many as he could, with one particular effort in the second term seeing him follow up to meet a long kick he had put forward. His best quarter was the fourth, where he almost managed to snare a goal from congestion with a snap, while finding the ball more and clearing pressure for his side.

#7 Jai Taylor

The wingman was again one of the more calm and effective users for his side, most often by foot. Taylor’s pressure and tackling was also handy, as he came hard off the line to have an impact on the centre bounces. He had a good passage of play in the second term with repeat efforts ending in a shot on goal which missed, but it was a decent measure of his effort throughout the game.

#9 Zac Foot

Based on the opposite wing to Taylor, Foot struggled at time to get his typical running game going. He had an opportunity in the first quarter to make a good start with a running shot on goal but sprayed it at speed, but made up for it in the third with a major after narrowly missing another snapshot at goal. Still, his bursts of speed out of defence were effective, and he gains so much ground when ending them with long kicks.

#10 Lachlan Young

Young made his presence felt in defence with manic attacks on both the football and his opponents – fairly, of course. He is a real competitor, and showed his hard edge with tackles early to set the tone, while carrying on with courageous marking attempts and efforts at ground level. His aggression almost hit a boiling point with a strong sling tackle in the third term, but it was otherwise a solid defensive display from the over-ager.

#12 Matthew Gahan

Gahan was part of the Dandenong’s robust defensive unit, providing a touch of class bringing the ball out of the danger-zones. He was cool in traffic, bursting through it on one occasion in the opening term, and delivered the ball forward via foot on many occasions. He had a good moment in the third quarter with a handy intercept mark and long kick forward which put his side on the front foot.

#15 Toby Bedford

Bite-sized Bedford was industrious from the midfield with plenty of one-percenters fronting his impact. He is deceptively strong and laid a huge tackle in the second term, while working hard to impact as many contests as he could and buzzing around the stoppages. Bedford provided a great releasing handball to Zac Foot for his goal in the third term, and stood up for his teammates when things got a bit heated – he loves a chat.

#27 Lachlan McDonnell

McDonnell started well forward of centre with a holding the ball tackle in the first term to set the tone for his game. He missed out on hitting the scoreboard after a desperate sliding intercept mark in the second quarter, and was then thrown back into defence. It was in the back half that McDonnell showed clean hands in congestion and mopped up really well at ground level. The best example of that was his one-on-one contest with Brayden Ham near his defensive 50 arc, where he brought the ball to ground and battled to get it over the boundary line.

#28 Bailey Schmidt

Schmidt was again solid in his rucking role, providing a good match-up for Blake Schlensog. He made a heap of contests around the ground, both intercepting and providing a target for Dandenong’s next kick up the line. Schmidt also chipped in with a couple of clearances and attacked it hard at ground level.

#29 Bailey Williams

It was an unusually tough day at the office for Williams, who battled hard all game nonetheless. His leap was outstanding, as would be expected, and he took a nice mark on the lead in the opening quarter. Williams also clunked a good contested mark in the following term, playing on immediately and indulging in a bounce, only to have his shot smothered. His repeat efforts and shows of agility were also typically great, but conversion has been a big thorn in Williams’ side and today was no different as he didn’t manage to trouble to scorers.

#58 William Hamill

Hamill was effective coming out of defence by both hand and foot, but it was his assist to Lachie Williams for Dandenong’s first goal that proved his best contribution early on. He also narrowly missed what would have been a memorable goal on the wrong side for a left footer after snatching an intercept mark deep in the 50. Hamill’s work rate was good and he found the ball in all areas, putting in a solid shift.

#59 Sam Sturt

Sturt provided one of the most impressive second games in recent memory with three important second half goals proving to be the difference between the two sides. He could have had more, hitting the post after intercepting a kick-out directed at Sam Walsh in the first term, and giving an opportunity off to Luca Goonan later on. Two of his goals came in the dying minutes, with his snap breaking free from congestion proving to be the sealer, and his goal from deep immediately after putting the icing on the cake. Certainly one to watch come finals and draft time, also loves a celebration.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers

By: Ed Pascoe

GWV Rebels:

#6 Charlie Wilson

Wilson was a ball magnet playing through the midfield in the first quarter (26 disposals total) but it was his work forward of centre that he is known for and he showed his outstanding forward craft on multiple occasions. In the midfield Wilson showed good vision by hand at stoppages and often attacked the contest hard. Wilson played predominantly forward after quarter time and kicked two terrific snap goals on either foot which now has him in the lead for the TAC goal kicking. It wasn’t just his goal kicking but his vision and ability to hit targets by foot inside 50 that impressed, hitting up Mitch Martin with a lovely pass in the third term.  

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin was another solid performer for Vic Country in the Under 17 Futures game and he brought that form against Bendigo providing a dangerous option when forward while also going through the midfield and attacking the contest hard ending the game with 21 disposals. Martin managed to kick three goals when resting forward with two set shot goals in the third quarter and a lovely opposite foot snap goal where he spun out of trouble. Martin along with Wilson was very influential and a major reason for the Rebels running away with the game. 

#14 Jed Hill

Hill was a hard worker throughout the day playing through the midfield and going forward on occasion. Hill finished with 19 disposals and six inside 50s showing his ability to drive he ball forward from the midfield. He attacked the contest hard through the middle and laid some heavy tackles. Hill wasn’t accurate around the goals kicking one goal and three behinds for the match. 

Bendigo:

#8 Brodie Kemp

AFL Academy member and bottom ager Kemp was one of Bendigo’s strongest performers playing as a big bodied midfielder while also going forward on occasion he finished with 26 disposals. Kemp played his role well, often getting his hands dirty at stoppages winning the ball at the coalface and cleanly dishing off on many occasions. Kemp’s hands where important at stoppages but also overhead where he took many intercept marks behind the ball while also taking some marks up forward with his goal in the second quarter coming from a nice contested mark. 

#17 Riley Ironside

Coming off a solid performance in the Under 17 Futures game for Vic Country, Ironside was a hard worker through the midfield going in hard at stoppages while also working hard to win the ball in transition.  He finished with 18 disposals for the match. Despite his good work rate, he was let down because of his poor disposals with a lot of rushed kicks at times. It was nice to see him trying to create play across the ground, and consistently go in hard to win the footy. 

#25 Flynn Perez

Also coming off a very good game for Vic Country in the Under 17 Futures last week, Perez was all class often running through the wings and half forward where he showed his great agility and composure with ball in hand with his skills a real standout on either side. Perez is the sort of player that can be real damaging when his teammates can look for him and give him time and space to work his magic. He is certainly one to watch for the 2019 draft racking up another 18 disposals and four inside 50s for the match. 

The run home: Gippsland Power

GIPPSLAND Power have been the surprise packet in 2018, sitting second on the TAC Cup table with two rounds to go. The Power always had a strong core of bottom-age players coming through, but the ability for the top-agers to provide strength and leadership, and the bottom-agers to provide not only depth, but equal talent to the top-agers has helped the Power to the position they are in. Arguably they should be even more distanced in second, with draws against the Northern Knights and Calder Cannons, and a shock loss to Bendigo Pioneers one of only two losses for the season – the other was to Dandenong Stingrays.

Wins: 10
Losses: 2
Draws: 2
Position: 2nd
Points For: 1192 (2nd)
Points Against: 779 (2nd)
Percentage: 153
Points: 44

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Murray Bushrangers – MARS Stadium
R16: vs. Eastern Ranges – Morwell Recreation Reserve

National Combine Invitations: [4] Xavier Duursma, Matthew McGannon, Irving Mosquito, Kyle Reid

State Combine Invitations: [2] Noah Gown, Austin Hodge

Gippsland take on Murray Bushrangers in the opening game of the Triple Header at MARS Stadium on Saturday, before finishing its season with a home game against Eastern Ranges. The Power just need one win to lock up second spot given their percentage is far superior to that of Sandringham Dragons. Even two losses might be enough given Sandringham plays Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers, but regardless, they have their fate in their own hands. With a bye over the Wildcard Round, Gippsland is set to play either the Western Jets, Calder Cannons, Northern Knights or Geelong Falcons depending on results, with a potential preliminary final against Sandringham Dragons. Captain Xavier Duursma has lead from the front this season and firms as a potential first round pick, while Irving Mosquito‘s ceiling ensures Hawthorn will have to pay a pretty penny for him. Matthew McGannon has reignited recruiters interest in him by earning a National Combine invitation, while Kyle Reid and Noah Gown have been consistent bookends this season. The likes of Riley Baldi, Fraser Phillips and Josh Smith have added to the remarkable bottom-age talent at the Power which features Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders and Brock Smith in what quite frankly can only be described as a “scary good” team in 2019.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Riley Baldi – 255 (17th overall)
2 – Bailey Beck – 251
3 – Boadie Motton – 250
4 – Austin Hodge – 225
5 – Bailey Patterson – 209

Marks:

1 – Noah Gown – 76 (eq. 3rd overall)
2 – Bailey Beck – 68
3 – Matthew McGannon – 65
4 – Kyle Reid – 62
5 – Riley Baldi – 51
5 – Ryan Sparkes – 51

Contested Possessions:

1 – Austin Hodge – 128 (14th overall)
2 – Riley Baldi – 127
3 – Boadie Motton – 119
4 – Xavier Duursma – 102
5 – Irving Mosquito – 85

Tackles:

1 – Bailey Beck – 67 (eq. 14th overall)
2 – Jake Van Der Pligt – 62
3 – Austin Hodge – 55
4 – Boadie Motton – 53
5 – Ryan Sparkes – 50

Hitouts:

1 – Rylan Henkel – 152 (11th overall)
2 – Josh Smith – 97
3 – Marcus Toussaint – 40
4 – Noah Gown – 31
5 – Josh Wykes – 30

Clearances:

1 – Riley Baldi – 57 (eq. 6th overall)
2 – Austin Hodge – 36
3 – Boadie Motton – 33
4 – Irving Mosquito – 28
5 – Xavier Duursma – 26

Inside 50s:

1 – Irving Mosquito – 45 (eq. 14th overall)
2 – Riley Baldi – 43
3 – Xavier Duursma – 41
3 – Noah Gown – 41
5 – Josh Smith – 40
5 – Bailey Beck – 40

Rebounds:

1 – Kyle Reid – 35 (eq. 19th overall)
2 – Ryan Sparkes – 34
3 – Bailey Patterson – 32
4 – Matthew McGannon – 30
4 – Tye Hourigan – 30

Goals:

1 – Noah Gown – 22 (4th overall)
2 – Sam Flanders – 18 (eq. 7th overall)
2 – Josh Smith – 18 (eq. 7th overall)
4 – Austin Hodge – 13
4 – Irving Mosquito – 13

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 13

A FULL round of TAC Cup action and we were at four games on the weekend, casting an eye over proceedings at Box Hill, Preston, Craigieburn and Sandringham. We also noted down some top performers in Wangaratta and Colac.

Eastern Ranges vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

By: Peter Williams

Eastern:

#11 Mitch Mellis

The bottom-age midfielder won a lot of his possessions in close on the move with quick fire handballs to teammates and then ran on to receive the ball back. Early on in the contest he was one-on-one with an opponent, handballed to space to his advantage to give himself an extra second, then cleanly picked it up and handballed it off to a teammate. Finished off his hard running with a set shot goal in the final term.

#23 Xavier Fry

Created some great run and carry as well as metres gained coming out of defence. Had a few well-placed kicks, but made the odd error, which included a handball straight to Matt Schnerring just before quarter time and was made pay. He charged into the next contest and showed his intent to make up, and continued to provide drive out of defence.

#31 James Blanck

One of Eastern’s more composed users, the noticeable trait is his clean spoiling ability – he gets a fist to it well. He positions himself in the defensive hole and was okay by foot. He swung forward in the final term and presented well, giving off the hands to Chayce Black who goaled. He used some good bodywork up forward and his second efforts when down there were impressive. Showed he is capable of playing down forward if needed.

 

GWV:

#3 Scott Carlin

Had a big first term, not necessarily in terms of possessions, but each handball to space was effective. He made some good decisions by hand or foot and took a good intercept mark cleanly in the air. He delivered well inside 50 to hit-up a target as well. In the final term, he intercepted a handball from the running Adrian Kalcovski, then used his agility to sidestep him and then kick long to Charlie Wilson in the forward pocket.

#6 Charlie Wilson

The most consistent forward in the competition continued with another bag of five goals. He started a little shaky in the first term, rushing a kick inside 50 but then went forward and provided a vital target down there. His strength in the air and ability to clunk marks cleanly is something that makes him stand out compared to other forwards. Wilson was consistent across the final three quarters, booting two goals in the second term, two in the third term and one in the last quarter, mostly from set shots, with the last being an opportunistic snap in front of goal.

#14 Jed Hill

Started the game with an intercept mark at half-forward and delivered a well drilled pass inside 50 to Lochie Dawson. His transition work between midfield and forward was good; did not win a lot of the football, but continued to work hard. In the third term he was important in setting up a scoring chain, pinpointing Izaac Grant in the middle which lead to a Charlie Wilson goal down the track. He had a chance to goal in the third term, but was pushed as he kicked it, as his shot bounced through for a behind.

#20 Tylar Watts

Had a game where most of the work he did was off the ball rather than on the stats sheet. All you can ask of a big man is to contest and go for his grabs, which he did. Took a couple of big clunks, but still dropped a couple as well. His most important mark was a pack mark on the defensive goal line in the third term. He also worked hard back towards goal, spoiling a Mitch Mellis certain goal in the third term across the line. Covered the ground well.

#21 Izaac Grant

The bottom-age goal sneak has always been smart around goals and seems to find the right positions, but in this weekend’s game I was happy with his tackling pressure which is vital for a small forward. He is strong in the air, uses his body well and keeps his feet. Assisted in a scoring chain in the third term, kicking well to Harris Jennings at half-forward. Booted two goals himself as well.

#24 Matty Lloyd

Had the ball on a string for most of the day and played off half-back and along the wing. Had a lot of outside ball and could have made better decisions at times in terms of lowering the eyes, but spread well and covered a large amount of ground. Was used in transition between defence and attack quite a lot, rebounding and pumping the ball inside 50 on numerous occasions.

#30 Isaac Wareham

Another bottom-age talent who continues to have glimpses of brilliance. A perfectly weighted kick to Izaac Grant in the first term to pinpoint him in between two opponents was great. He showed cleanliness at ground level, and defensive pressure as well. Wareham ran down an opponent in the forward 50, earned a free kick and then kicked a goal on the half-time siren. Clean and strong performance.

 

Northern Knights vs Gippsland Power:

By Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#1 Ryan Gardner

It was a quieter than usual day for Gardner, who built into the game slowly. The conditions set up a great opportunity for him to show off his run and carry ability, but the bottom-ager only managed to pop up in patches with his trademark dash. Opposing a red-hot Matthew McGannon on the wing for most of the contest, it proved a big test of Gardner’s two-way running, but he showed an aptitude for seeing out the game as he found more of the footy in the second half and began to carry it forward. It was good to see the Vic Metro representative continue to take the game on after being caught holding the ball in the third term, that’s what he’s best at.

#4 Tom McKenzie

Having taken on leadership responsibilities for the match, much was expected of McKenzie leading up to the first bounce. The Ivanhoe product started nicely with a goal out of nothing, booting the ball home from 50 after a scramble around the arc. It would prove to be one of his only highlights of the game though, despite accumulating a good amount of possessions and pushing his side forward from the back. McKenzie spent a heap of time through the midfield too, digging in to claim a few clearances. While his kicking out of defence was a highlight in the National Championships, the Metro star could not quite get the same form going and turned it over at times with rushed kicks out of congestion.

#7 Harrison Grace

This was one of Grace’s better performances in terms of what he was able to produce with ball in hand. The Fitzroy junior looked composed in traffic, weaving his way through danger and cooly picking out teammates with handballs. Assuming his regular position at half-forward and advancing to the wing, Grace would often be seen pushing high up the ground and working his way back towards goal, providing a good contested link between the arcs. While his time on the ball was key, Grace had other standout moments with an intercept mark in the first term leading to McKenzie’s only goal, and a strong fend off on McGannon allowing him to push the ball forward.

#17 Josh D’Intinosante

While the TAC Cup Radio team may have trouble with the pronunciation of his name at times, ‘JD’ proved once again to be largely no-fuss on the field. The bottom-ager’s attack on the ball was superb early on, as he beat two opponents to the punch with an impressive gather in the first term. He went on to produce a smart checkside goal in the same quarter, and narrowly missed an opportunistic dribbler later on. While he had a large amount of midfield minutes, D’Intinosante looked so dangerous forward of the ball and his smarts inside 50 helped him snare a second goal late in the piece to round out a solid performance.

 

Gippsland Power:

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders continued his impressive form with another strong outing in multiple roles. Assuming his most natural half-forward position to start the game, the Vic Country goalkicker was hard at the contest early despite limited opportunity. His high flies for marks in the first half were a standout, and he brought that facet of his game with him in a move to half-back. Remaining a kick behind the ball, Flanders set up well and was able to quell a lot of the Knights’ attacks. With the game on the line and Gippsland needing goals, the bottom-ager was swung back forward with immediate impact, booting the first major of the final term to spark the Power’s onslaught. Flanders’ repeat efforts and ability to find a way to constantly win the ball was terrific, and was matched by his efficient use by foot.

#5 Xavier Duursma

The skipper led from the front right off the bat, and his first quarter goal stemmed the flow of a surging Knights outfit. Duursma was terrific in the midfield congestion, snatching his fair share of hard ball gets and showing a good five-meter burst to push his side forward from the midfield. While his explosiveness from stoppages was a highlight, his goal in the last term to seal the win after getting absolutely poleaxed by Northern’s Joel Randall summed up his game pretty nicely.

#9 Irving Mosquito

There’s always a bit of buzz about the Power when Mosquito is near the ball, and he once again provided some nice moments. The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy prospect played mostly deep forward under the presence of big-man Noah Gown, and made an ideal start with his long-range set shot goal in the opening term. While he drifted in and out of the game at times, he came right back into it with a courageous contested mark late on, as well as a good bit of foot-candy in the final quarter which led to one of Gown’s five goals.

#12 Brock Smith

While it was not one of his best games, Smith was still able to pitch in with some moments that remind us why he has stood out as a bottom-ager. He showed clean hands early when the game was being hotly contested, and stood up well under some immense pressure in defence. A solid outing.

#18 Matt McGannon

McGannon was once again prolific throughout the game, accumulating a wealth of possessions from the wing and half-back. Despite making a horror start with a turnover leading to Tom McKenzie’s goal, the over-ager provided solidarity to protect his defence and rebound accordingly. He had a couple of nice runs in the third term, helping himself to a bounce or two, and was damaging with both inside 50 entries and exits. At times during the second half he did turn the ball over with long balls forward, where he may have found a shorter target under less pressure, but overall it was another solid outing.

#22 Rylan Henkel

Henkel played his role well in the ruck, and used his sizeable leap to help the Gippsland midfield get on top. He did well to follow up with some tackles and took a couple of marks around the ground to help provide an exit out of the Power’s defence.

#23 Noah Gown

Gown was again in sensational form, matching last week’s haul of five goals in a solid forward display. While he was not in the game at all times, he managed to hit the scoreboard when given the opportunity and began to dominate in the last quarter with strong marks on the lead deep into the pocket. His goals undoubtedly came at crucial moments, with his fourth and fifth pushing Gippsland into the lead late on. Gown could well have ended up with six or seven majors, but sprayed almost identical opportunities with snaps that ended up out on the full. While his marking on the lead and presence inside 50 were a standout, Gown also found other avenues to goal with a sneaky one off the ground, and one where he worked his opponent under the ball nicely to head into an open goal.

#25 Kyle Reid

The red-headed full-back was as solid as ever, continuing the breakout form he showed in the National Under 18 Championships. He was fierce early, crashing contests and having a real go with some hard tackles. His ability to win one-on-ones and turn defence into rebound is sensational, and he was rarely beaten when long balls came his way as he reads the ball so well. The TAC Cup Radio team summed up his game nicely, describing him as being “cool in a crisis”, which was largely needed for Gippsland as they kept within touch going into the final term.

#29 Boadie Motton

While he was quiet for parts of the game, Motton showed glimpses of his best form and ran hard to push the pace when going forward. There’s not much of Motton, but he was good overhead and pulled down some crucial marks in positions where he needed to. His run and carry proved dangerous, and he was rewarded with a big long-range goal on the fly in the second term.

 

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

By: Ed Pascoe

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

With his first game since coming back from playing National Championships, Taylor had a very quiet game by his standards finishing the game with only 11 disposals and no goals. Taylor showed nice movement on the wing early in the game, getting out of trouble with ease. He dropped an easy mark late in the first quarter, with the windy conditions being considered as a factor but it was his lack of second effort really stood out in that contest recording no tackles for the game. Taylor however did start the second quarter well competing hard in the midfield almost winning a classy clearance with his good judgement and movement when receiving the ball from the tap out. In the third quarter he took some nice marks and his kicking was solid. Taylor like many of his teammates struggled in the last quarter.

#8 Lachlan Sholl

Sholl had a shaky start to the game with a few fumbles but he really lifted as the game went on often setting up the play with his run and good disposal. He took a quality contested mark in the second quarter and worked hard down the wing to hit up a target on his non-preferred kicking inside 50. Sholl did not fumble in the second term with his work by hand a standout feature. He continued this into the third quarter winning plenty of the ball at half back he finished the game with 27 disposals.

#30 Mitchell Podhajski

Podhajski was the standout midfielder over both teams winning 33 disposals in a well rounded game that included a set shot goal in the first quarter and half a dozen marks and tackles. Podhajski had a few poor kicks inside 50 as both sides tried to adjust to the windy conditions, but his kicking improved as the game went on with some nice penetrating kicks. He roved well at stoppages and his handballs and vision where a step above anyone else in the midfield for the day, his work rate was important as was his voice around the contest.

 

Dandenong:

#9 Zac Foot

Foot had a quiet game recording only 11 disposals and just the one behind which was a running shot at goal hitting the post in the last quarter. Foot took some nice marks in the first quarter when plenty of taller players struggled in this area, kicking wasn’t at his best in the first quarter but it got better as the game went on. Despite the low disposal count Foot still competed hard when the ball was there to be won which was promising from a smaller player, he will be hoping to bounce back and hit the scoreboard next week after having one of his better games last week.

#13 Riley Bowman

The conditions did not suit Bowman, who had one of his quieter games for the year recording only 10 disposals and no goals. Bowman did his best work in the ruck winning plenty of hit outs, with the amount of talls Dandenong had he spent a lot of time on the bench swapping with players such as Bailey Williams, Bailey Schmidt and Stephen Cumming. Apart from a kick into the man on the mark, his disposal was good throughout the day especially by hand, second efforts could have been there more often but when he did he laid a good tackle.

#29 Bailey Williams

Williams was the standout big man on the ground despite some wayward kicking at goal early on. His first nice mark in the opening quarter was followed by an absolute howler kick that went out on the full, he would however not make the same mistake with another strong mark later in the game leading to a goal.  The windy conditions made it tough for the talls but he still managed to take plenty of good marks and if he was not able to mark it, he at least flew at the contests showing his intent. Williams would repeat his goal kicking woes in the third quarter, but one of those missed shots came from a fantastic contested mark. Despite the wind playing a big part in the missed shots, he was still the standout key forward through the day, always looking like a threat. He finished the game with two goals, eight marks and 17 disposals.

#58 Will Hamill

Despite a slow start to the year Hamill earned selection for the National AFL Draft Combine. He started the game in the midfield and despite his light frame he was able to win some of his own ball with his clean hands and slick handballs really standing out in the first quarter. Hamill was a very composed player throughout the day, he was caught once for holding the ball which was no fault of his own. Though his speed has been questioned at times, it is his class and agility that often gives him ample time to use his lethal left boot. Hamill was moved to half-back after the first quarter taking a few nice intercept marks and hitting some lace out passes by foot. He finished the game with 14 disposals.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Bendigo Pioneers

By: Owen Leonard

Sandringham:

#7 Liam Stocker

Leading the Sandringham midfield, it was a typically authoritative performance from the Dragons onballer, with 21 kicks from 35 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal. While Stocker’s ability to rest forward and hit the scoreboard has been notable this season, he played purely through the midfield in the absence of usual stalwarts Bailey Smith, Alastair Richards, Harry Houlahan and Kai Owens. In windy conditions at Trevor Barker Oval, the first-round prospect kicked a freakish left-foot goal in the second term. After appearing to miss its intended target, the Sherrin — aided by the breeze — had a mind of its own, somehow evading the Pioneers’ defence before bouncing through for a miracle major. The Haileybury product was bumped crudely into the fence in the dying stages, but appeared unscathed as the final siren sounded, confirming an eight-point Dragons victory.

#28 James Rendell

The Brisbane Lions father-son prospect did his draft chances no harm with a solid display despite unfavourable weather for key-position players. Rendell managed a game-high seven marks, to go with 20 hitouts and 18 disposals. Applied impressive pressure for a big man, too, laying four tackles. Also managed a pair of behinds in blustery conditions.

#39 Jai Florent

The younger brother of Sydney Swans midfielder Ollie, Florent is starting to secure his position in the Dragons line-up with an impressive two-goal effort on Sunday. Playing as a small forward, the bottom-ager found enough of the football — while applying strong pressure around the goals with five tackles — to warrant further selection. Gaining vital experience at TAC Cup level this season, Florent could be one to watch in 2019.

 

Bendigo:

#16 Jacob Atley

Managing 19 disposals and six marks across the backline, the younger brother of North Melbourne regular Shaun and Port Adelaide midfielder Joe, Jacob Atley provided speed, skill and leadership out of defence, and was among the better players on the ground in a tight encounter on Sunday afternoon. Since winning a junior league best and fairest in 2014, the Bendigo skipper’s talent has been obvious. While his stats haven’t stood out throughout his 2018 TAC Cup campaign, Atley’s ability to break the lines is sure to have club recruiters taking notice.

#20 James Schischka

Another among the best in Sunday’s affair, Schischka’s intercept marking ability was prominent in a close loss. The impressive key-defender plays a game similar to that of West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern, and his capacity to read the play is exceptional, seemingly unfazed by the wind-affected, unpredictable direction of the Sherrin. Drifted forward at stages, but was unable to convert in the howling wind after a good grab inside-50 early in the final quarter. Finished the game with 16 disposals, four marks and six tackles.

#25 Flynn Perez

It was a more-than-respectable performance from the Bendigo midfielder, who contributed well with 17 disposals, four marks and five tackles. Since surviving an injury scare a month ago after a heavy landing from a contested mark playing school football, Perez has compiled a consistent string of games together, and has become one of the Pioneers’ most dependable performers.

###

Other games’ notes:

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets

Murray:

#5 Ely Smith – The inside midfielder had 18 disposals, starting finishing strongly with 12 disposals in the second half. He was strong at the stoppages, racking up nine clearances, including four centre bounce clearances. Smith also finished with four inside 50s and two rebounds in a solid performance.

#7 Zane Barzen – After three goals last week, Barzen finished Round 13 with two majors from four scoring shots, to go with 14 disposals and six marks. He started with a bang in the first term, racking up six disposals before booting the opening goal in both the second and third terms.

#18 Hudson Garoni – The TAC Cup leading goal kicker was at his dominant best in the air. Not kicking a bag like he has in past weeks, Garoni was still too strong for his opponents, taking a game-high 10 marks, including three contested to go with his 15 disposals, three inside 50s, and impressively, two rebounds. The stats showed the amount of ground he covered during the game.

Western:

#33 Xavier O’Halloran – When Murray applied the pressure in the final term, O’Halloran was one to stand up, having six final quarter kicks – three more than any other Jet. He finished with 16 disposals, seven clearances, six inside 50s and booted a goal against the flow early in the final term.

#38 Buku Khamis – The rebounding defender certainly had his hands full with Murray’s efficiency inside 50. He had the three rebounds to go with 18 disposals – including 10 kicks at 100 per cent efficiency! Khamis took five marks, one of which was contested.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic – Named in Western’s bests, Radovanovic found the ball and used it well, kicking at 70 per cent by foot. He took a couple of marks and had four rebounds, getting back to the form he has showed throughout the season, using his dash to advantage.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Geelong:

#20 Brayden Ham – Ham’s superb season continued on the weekend, playing off half-back and having five rebounds to go with his 20 disposals and showing his versatility to play at either end once again. He is not afraid to attack the contest, winning the majority of his possessions one-on-one and shows strength by extracting the ball and kicking forward.

#22 Sam Walsh – Not much to be said about Walsh that has not been said before. Another 33-disposal game to go with six inside 50s, six rebounds and six clearances. He covers the ground incredibly well, wins the ball with ease and hurts the opposition whenever he goes near it. Laid six tackles on the weekend too which was good to see highlighting his ability to impact the contest.

#41 Cooper Stephens – The bottom-age prospect racked up 17 disposals and laid a strong seven tackles on the weekend, as well as having five clearances.

Oakleigh:

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins – Not usually a handball-dominant player, Collier-Dawkins found little space, having to work in close and deliver 14 handballs in his 15 disposals, winning the majority in tight. He had three clearances, two inside 50s and laid a team-high 10 tackles showcasing his intent to win the footy.

#23 Isaac Quaynor – The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member was Oakleigh’s best player at Colac, playing further up the ground than his usual half-back flank. He amassed 21 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s and two clearances. He showed good composure and class around the contest to help move the ball out of dangerous areas.

#26 Jake Gasper – The exciting small forward was able to find the ball up the ground, while still having an impact on the scoreboard. Gasper booted 3.2 from 18 disposals, laying nine tackles and having four clearances and three inside 50s to go with it. He continues to press his claim with consistent performances throughout the season.

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 13

TAC Cup action returns this weekend with all 12 teams back at it. While some are understrength due to school football, the ladder is taking shape as just four rounds remain in the competition ahead of the new addition of a wildcard round after Round 16.

EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 12pm
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill

The opening game of the round pits two bottom four sides against each other, with the Rebels able to draw within four points of the eighth placed Northern Knights if they can win, while Eastern can draw level with Geelong Falcons and within two points of the Rebels if they can take home the four points. Eastern’s midfield has been relatively settled this year, with Joel Burleigh, Kye Quirk, Adrian Kalcovski and Mitch Mellis all busy through the middle, while Ben Cardamone and Xavier Fry have proved important in the back half. James Blanck‘s return to the side in the past week has settled the defence down, while in attack, the return of Thomas Lockman combining with Billy McCormack should provide some targets up front. For the Rebels, they have beefed up their attack, bringing in Tylar Watts and Josh Chatfield, making for an even more damaging forward line with the likes of Jed Hill, Charlie Wilson and Izaac Grant set to cause headaches for Eastern’s defence. While the half-back line of Scott Carlin and Matty Lloyd provides good rebound. It’s a 50/50 game with Eastern having the home ground advantage.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 1pm
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta

In arguably the match of the round, Murray Bushrangers hosts Western Jets up in Wangaratta where two of the top inside midfielders will go head-to-head in Ely Smith and Xavier O’Halloran. There are fantastic one-on-ones across the field with the likes of Jacob Koschitzke taking Emerson Jeka, Buku Khamis potentially lining up on Hudson Garoni, and Hamish Murphy going head-to-head with Zane Barzen. Both sides pride themselves on contested ball and speed from half-back, so it is likely to be an entertaining contest of end-to-end football. Jaden Rice is a crucial loss for the Jets on this road trip, but they have plenty of depth through the midfield, and potency up forward with Darcy Cassar, Aaron Clarke and Steven Kyriazis being sources of scoreboard pressure. Murray arguably have the best forward line in the league with Jordon Butts joining Barzen and Garoni, while Jye Chalcraft and Bailey Frauenfelder are always damaging. If the Bushrangers win they will retain third spot, while the Jets could leap frog both Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers with favourable results in other games if they take home the points.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 2pm
Preston City Oval, Preston

Another important top eight clash tomorrow is that between the Northern Knights and Gippsland Power. The Knights sit eighth with an eight-point buffer, but will be keen to have another win and upset the Power. The Power sit in second spot, but Murray Bushrangers are hot on their heels and with the finals approaching, a top four spot is at a premium. Last time these two sides played it was a draw at Morwell Recreation Reserve after Irving Mosquito kicked a goal in the dying seconds. Mosquito is in the team again to cause some serious headaches, while Tyrone Hayes also returns to provide some speed around the ground. Noah Gown is fresh off a five-goal haul and will be keen to impress once again at full-forward, while Sam Flanders and Austin Hodge know how to hit the scoreboard. For the Knights, they have Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier who consistently find goals, while Harrison Grace is an important inclusion at half-forward, with he and James Lucente capable of creating opportunities in the front half. Tom McKenzie and Lachlan Potter will provide plenty of run off half-back, while Matthew McGannon will look to continue his strong form from last week to carry over into this important game. Gippsland will head in as favourites, but the Knights have the speed and talent to cause an upset at home.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 11.30am
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

An early Sunday game at RAMS Arena is set to provide a treat with an almost full-strength Dandenong side taking on a Calder team with Curtis Taylor back in the side. Dandenong seem to be the clear benchmark this season and will go in as strong favourites, but Calder have matched it with most sides this year and have caused a number of upsets. Opposing captains Campbell Hustwaite and Mitch Podhajski could go head-to-head in the middle, both capable of running both ways and working hard to help their team gain momentum. The speed of the Stingrays might trouble the Cannons, with Zac Foot and Jai Taylor providing plenty of outside run, while Will Hamill and Sam Fletcher provide the inside hands. Bailey Williams is a monster in the air, and Riley Bowman and the returning Bailey Schmidt will push the Cannons for height. Daniel Hanna could be handed the job on Williams, while Lucas Cavallaro and Lachlan Sholl will look to be the ones rebounding from defence. Taylor is a hard match-up for any opposition up forward, and could go head-to-head with potential number one pick in 2019, Hayden Young. The Stingrays seem almost assured of the minor premiership this season, but the wind at RAMS Arena always throws up a few surprises, while the Cannons can go outright seventh with breathing space if the Power defeat the Knights.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 1pm
Central Reserve, Colac

Out in the south west, Geelong Falcons will look to take advantage of mass changes for Oakleigh to snatch a win in the Falcons’ home away from home in Colac. While Ned McHenry is a big loss for the Falcons, the Chargers will have to overcome wholesale changes with players heading back to school football. Sam Walsh, Oscar Brownless and Cooper Stephens will still have a fascinating battle in midfield, with Riley Collier-Dawkins, Xavier O’Neill and Noah Answerth, while Oakleigh’s dominant forward line still has serious threats with bottom-agers Noah Anderson and Dylan Williams down there, as well as over-ager Matthew Day and top-ager Jake Gasper who have both booted bags of goals this season – Gasper last week. The strength in attack means Oakleigh will be a danger if they can control the midfield, while Geelong can control play if they win the contested ball. Connor Idun and Dane Hollenkamp will look to contain the forwards, while Brayden Ham is back at half-back where he will try and provide both offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. Up forward, Blake Schlensog provides a target, while Baxter Mensch and Jay Dahlhaus are others who can find the ball and keep it moving forward. Despite the changes and the home ground advantage, Oakleigh would be rightfully favourites in this game, but Geelong pushed Sandringham Dragons all the way last round and will be hoping for a repeat effort this week.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 2.30pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

In the final game of the round, Sandringham Dragons will take on Bendigo Pioneers in what should be a close game on paper. The Dragons will rightfully head in as favourites, but any time a team makes 17 changes is always going to present challenges. The Pioneers have remained relatively stable and welcomed James Schischka back into the side. While the Dragons have plenty of depth and still some serious talent around the field, they will look to their next tier of players to step up in front of a home crowd. Liam Stocker will look to build on his great form of late since returning from injury, while James Rendell is back in the team to provide a tall target up front. Jai Florent and Tyson Milne are small forwards who create opportunities at ground level, while Corey Watts and Ryan Byrnes are others who have shown good signs throughout the season. For the Pioneers, Jacob Atley provides good speed and effort out of defence, and will combine well with Schischka back there. Noah Wheeler, Hunter Lawrence and Liam Marciano are always involved, while Oscar and Flynn Perez provide some excitement up forward and on the outside. A win to Sandringham could see them move past Murray into third spot, while a loss could see them drop back as far as sixth. The Pioneers can get off the bottom of the TAC Cup table with a win here.