Tag: Isaac Quaynor

Quaynor, Thomas and O’Neill kicking goals early at AFL Draft Combine

POTENTIAL Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) draft prospect, Isaac Quaynor aced the National AFL Draft Combine Goalkicking test last night, finishing the first evening of testing with a perfect score. Each of the players have five attempts at goal from various positions, with the Oakleigh Chargers talent kicking all five goals, despite being most suited to being a defender. Quaynor is most known for his kicking, and while he did not finish in the top 10 of the Kicking test, he was the clear standout in front of goals.

Brisbane Lions Academy member, and fellow defender, Keidean Coleman also impressed in front of the big sticks, scoring 4.1 from his five attempts, along with North Melbourne NGA prospect and top 10 hopeful, Tarryn Thomas, potential number one pick, Jack Lukosius, Northern Knights midfielder, Tom McKenzie and Irish hopeful, Mark Keane. Fellow Irish draft prospect, Jordan Morrisey scored four goals from five attempts, equal to that of top 10 hopeful and excitement machine, West Adelaide’s Izak Rankine, and Sandringham Dragons’ Angus Hanrahan.

In the kicking test, it was Thomas and Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Xavier O’Neill who proved they can use either foot, scoring 27 of a possible 30. They finished ahead of Gippsland Power overager, Matt McGannon (25) and Murray Bushrangers’ midfielder Ely Smith (24). Murray teammate, Laitham Vandermeer and Lukosius were next with 23/30. Vic Metro players, Noah Answerth, James Blanck and Metro captain, Xavier O’Halloran were all on 22, as were Allies, Chayce Jones and Nicholas Baker, and South Australian defender, Riley Grundy – brother of Collingwood’s Brodie.

NATIONAL AFL DRAFT COMBINE RESULTS

Kicking test (score out of 30)
1 – Tarryn Thomas 27
1 – Xavier O’Neill 27
3 – Matt McGannon 25
4 – Ely Smith 24
5 – Laithan Vandermeer 23
5 – Jack Lukosius 23
7 – Chayce Jones 22
7 – Noah Answerth 22
7 – Nicholas Baker 22
7 – Xavier O’Halloran 22
7 – James Blanck 22
7 – Riley Grundy 22

Goalkicking test (score out of 30)
1 – Isaac Quaynor 30
2 – Keidean Coleman 25
2 – Tarryn Thomas 25
2 – Tom McKenzie 25
2 – Mark Keane 25
2 – Jack Lukosius 25
7 – Izak Rankine 24
7 – Jordan Morrisey 24
7 – Angus Hanrahan 24

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 35:

 

September rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

Lukosius looked tired in the now-infamous SANFL Preliminary Final where the Eagles gave up a seven-goal lead to North Adelaide to be bundled out of the finals series. After a long season, the talented utility has earned a nice break and expect him to test well at the National Draft Combine this week.

 

September rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh’s Falcons side was knocked out in the elimination finals stage, but the ball magnet still had a day out, collecting 28 touches, three marks, four clearances, four inside 50s and booting a goal. He is now the favourite to go at Carlton’s first pick, with Walsh locked into a top two selection.

 

September rank: #3

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Given West Adelaide missed out on finals, Rankine has not played in the past month, but the excitement machine did win a handy payout on Grand Final, taking out the ‘Dash for Cash’.

 

September rank: #4

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

 

September rank: #5

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

King played both finals and looked dominant against the Murray Bushrangers, hauling in 11 marks (six contested) from 19 disposals, and booting five goals from 10 scoring shots in a clear best on ground performance. He was more subdued against the Dandenong Stingrays in the Dragons’ Preliminary Final loss, amassing 11 disposals, four marks (one contested) and booting two goals from limited opportunities.

 

September rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith missed the past month due to an achilles injury.

 

September rank: #11

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Has been one of the most talked about prospects in the past month, and is the first player to break into the top seven since early in the season. A real chance to go in the top three, Rozee has been all class, taking speckies and shining on the biggest stage. He had the nine touches on Grand Final day, but played his role in North Adelaide’s premiership, a week after amassing 15 disposals and seven marks in the Preliminary Final comeback against Eagles.

 

September rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Has been out of action due to injury and will miss the rest of the season.

 

September rank: #8

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

With the League team eliminated from the finals race, Hately headed back to the Reserves where he tore it up, collecting 20 disposals and six clearances in the Preliminary Final loss to Norwood, after racking up 27 touches and seven clearances a week earlier. Firmly in the race for the top 10, yet could be the fourth South Australian taken, which is a remarkable result for the National Under 18 Championship winning side.

 

September rank: #9

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas was ultra-impressive in North Launceston’s Tasmanian State League premiership, booting two goals and named among the Bombers’ best in the 30-point win over Lauderdale. One who should test well at the National AFL Draft Combine.

 

September rank: #13

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Stocker held his head high during the finals series, amassing 18 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and two clearances in Sandringham’s Preliminary Final loss to Dandenong when he was clearly hampered by a shoulder injury. A brave effort and one of a Morrish Medallist who will surely find a home in the top 20.

 

September rank: #20

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Bouncing up and down like a yo-yo, Collier-Dawkins was terrific throughout Oakleigh’s finals series after a quiet month in August. Collier-Dawkins had 19 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and one goal in the Grand Final loss, after a near best on ground effort of 26 disposals, four marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal in the Preliminary Final win over Gippsland Power the week before.

 

September rank: #14

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

One of the few Power players to hold his head high in Gippsland’s horror Preliminary Final loss to Oakleigh Chargers. He had 18 disposals, three marks, six clearances, eight tackles and four inside 50s. A consistent season has come to an end, and is a player who is expected to test well in the National AFL Draft Combine this week.

 

September rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams had a solid, without being outstanding finals series and still looms as a genuine first round tall for a finals side that is out of reach of the top echelon talls. His vertical leap was on show in the Grand Final win over Oakleigh Chargers, taking five marks from 12 disposals and two goals, as well as nine hitouts.

 

September rank: #15

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

West has not played since the last Power Rankings, but holds his spot at 15 and expect him to cost the Western Bulldogs a top 25 selection.

 

September rank: #16

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Despite his season finishing in early September, Jones has held his place in the top 20. While he had a quiet elimination final, he did finish the season averaging 23.3 disposals, 17.7 kicks, 5.6 handballs, 2.4 marks, 8.3 clearances and 6.6 tackles from seven games, while booting five goals. A really good all-round player with a deadly kick and top leadership.

 

September rank: #11

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

Has missed the past month and a half of football due to injury and has slipped as others have stood up over the past couple of months. Still a value pick and a first round selection who will add leadership and skill to any AFL side.

 

September rank: #17

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor had a quiet Grand Final, beaten a few times by draft bolter, Sam Sturt, but he also showed off his versatility, going into a couple of centre square bounces, and even having a shot on goal. Given Oakleigh’s dominant first two finals, Quaynor did not have a lot to do in the back half, but had the 14 touches, two clearances and four rebounds in the Chargers’ huge win over Gippsland Power.

 

September rank: #24

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Clark was huge in Claremont’s League Elimination Final, taking 10 marks from 15 disposals and laying four tackles, before having 13 disposals and one mark in his side’s Semi-Final loss to West Perth. Very skilful and a draft bolter after the National AFL Under 18 Championships, not completely out of the realms of possibility to be taken ahead of state teammate, Ian Hill.

 

September rank: #19

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

Has been on ice after shoulder surgery in July. Still an unbelievable talent that has serious X-factor.

 

September rank: #21

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

O’Halloran’s season came on an end in the worst possible way from a team perspective, going down by 20 goals to Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination finals. He was one of only a couple of Jets who could hold their head high, as he never stopped trying for 18 disposals, five marks, five clearances and five tackles, as well as a long-range goal to try and keep the Jets positivity up. A natural leader.

 

September rank: N/A

A huge draft bolter out of Peninsula Grammar, Sturt is a medium forward who is good overhead, an unbelievable kick, and so dangerous inside 50. He added another dimension to Dandenong’s forward line in the finals series, and proved crucial from the final round of the TAC Cup season, through to the Grand Final. It is hard to make the top 30 of this list at this point of the season after not being considered earlier in the year, but his form has been a huge upward trend.

Past month:

A terrific last four games of the season, Sturt booted 11 goals from four games, which included three finals for Dandenong. In the Grand Final he was strong earlier, showing too much speed for Isaac Quaynor, and his strength overhead was a highlight. He finished the Grand Final with 15 disposals, six marks and two goals and has well and truly pushed into top 25, if not top 20, contention.

 

September rank: #22

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings and remains one of those players hard to place. Taylor could easily go top 15 if a team takes a punt on him, but will be somewhere in that top 25 range.

 

September rank: #30

He was a new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, and McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

Much like Hately, McLennan dropped down to the Reserves for Central District after the League side was knocked out of the finals race at the end of the regular season. In his final game, McLennan picked up 15 disposals and four marks, as well as two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds in the Bulldogs’ loss to Norwood. In the semi-final win over Glenelg, McLennan finished with 23 disposals, six marks (two contested), six tackles, two inside 50s and four rebounds, playing a more contested brand of football and standing up against the senior bodies.

 

September rank: #18

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

Has only slipped as others jump up, McHenry did not have the ideal Elimination Final after a huge Wildcard Round performance against Calder Cannons. In the Falcons’ loss to Gippsland Power, McHenry had the 18 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and nine tackles, standing out with his defensive pressure, but not quite having the influence of the week before. Still one likely to land in the top 30, but like many at his height, size can work against him. A value mid-draft pick.

 

September rank: #25

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

Has not played since the last Power Rankings after a hamstring injury ended his year at quarter time of the Pioneers’ loss to Western Jets. Does not have too many weaknesses, and is another who is hard to place. Top 15 on quality, it will depend on where the clubs see him as he could be a really value pick for a premiership contender.

 

September rank: #19

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Foley overcame a quad injury to return for the WAFL Colts finals series, and what an impact he had. Foley finished the second semi-final with 22 disposals, five marks and two goals against Swan Districts, before doing it again in Subiaco’s premiership win over the same opposition. He had 22 disposals, seven marks and laid six tackles on Optus Stadium, a ground he may well become very familiar with in the future. Readymade option for clubs who are searching for a midfielder to slot straight in.

 

September rank: #27

The Collingwood father-son prospect continues to bolt up the order with a fantastic second half of the year, following on from the National Under 18 Championships. He can play both defensive and offensive roles, finding a good balance between playing one-on-one and running off his man. A good size with some development left in him in terms of size, Kelly will be a big bonus for Collingwood to assist in that defensive half of the ground. Can also play forward but his work in defence is considered far superior.

Past month:

Narrowly missed out on being a premiership player this year in the TAC Cup, but has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Expected to cost Collingwood the equivalent of a second round pick, Kelly matched it with Bailey Williams early in the Grand Final and has been good both one-on-one and as a loose defender floating back to assist teammates. Had 19 disposals, five marks and four rebounds, while also being thrown into the ruck, winning seven hitouts.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who has divided opinions this year, but has had a sensational second half of the season for Swan Districts. He was a five-goal hero at the National Under 18 Championships for Western Australia, and while he is lightly built, is a member of West Coast’s Next Generation Academy. Looms as a player whom the Eagles will need to match a bid for, and is the brother of Lion, Charlie. More physically advanced than his brother and having more of an impact in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Booted two goals from 11 disposals and two marks in the Grand Final defeat to Subiaco, while also laying four tackles. Had a quieter Preliminary Final with just seven touches, with his best final coming in the Qualifying Final where he booted four goals to be a dominant force inside 50. One who with a consistent second half of the season and any past worries behind him, is a genuine talent in the front half of the draft.

 

September rank: #29

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs has not played since the GIANTS got knocked out of the NEAFL finals race, but all eyes will be on the big man at the National AFL Draft Combine. His endurance in particular is one area to keep an eye on given he rarely takes a break on-field. The best pure ruck in the draft crop.

 

September rank: #28

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has not been able to get out on the park in the past two months due to bone bruising in the knee and others have risen. A quality get if he did land this late, expect somewhere in that second round.

 

September rank: N/A

A small forward who is a member of Melbourne’s Next Generation Academy, Bedford has improved as the season went on. He is a player who showed some impressive signs pre-National Championships, but the experience of playing with Vic Country made him improve further in the second half of the season. Played most of the TAC Cup season with Melbourne Grammar in the APS, but has the agility and X-factor that just make draft watchers take note.

Past month:

Bedford is a player who might just drop behind Melbourne’s first pick, but it would not be unconceivable for him to be bid on just ahead of their first selection. Very light and needs to add strength to his frame, he is very quick with ball-in-hand, and can work his way out of trouble with ease. Great goal sense, and defensive pressure, Bedford is an ideal small forward who can pinch hit through the midfield.

 

September rank: #30

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott has not played in the past month since being awarded the Suns’ Academy Player of the Year. One who continues to bring intrigue about his future, still being available for three clubs, and many expect a decision to be made soon. Gold Coast the expected favourite given location.

 

September rank: N/A

The Brisbane Lions Academy member has been in this region for most of the season, having a consistent year. He is built to play senior football from early on, and has rotated between midfield and forward for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships. Very strong overhead and knows how to kick a goal, it will be interesting to see how he tests at the National Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month, but McFadyen managed the five games with Brisbane in the NEAFL, averaging eight disposals and 3.4 marks per game. Still has a bit to work on, but is developing nicely for the Lions.

 

September rank: N/A

In the final place in the 35 for October, another Perth player makes his way into the rankings, with the very balanced Sydney Stack slotting in. He has the hardness of an inside midfielder, combined with the skill of an outside player, with the endurance being the big question mark over Stack. He missed the first National Under 18 Championships due to needing to improve training standards, but since then he has really impressed, both for the rest of the championships, and for Perth in the WAFL Colts.

Past month:

Has not played in the past month due to Perth not making the WAFL Finals, but in his final three games, Stack made the League side, picking up 12, 13 and 17 disposals respectively, holding his own against senior bodies, and with a full pre-season is one to watch.

 

IN THE MIX:

#36 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia) Outside Midfielder, 184cm, 76kg
#37 Ely Smith (Murray/Vic Country) Inside Midfielder, 188cm, 86kg
#38 Riley Bowman (Dandenong/Vic Country) Ruck, 198cm, 82kg
#39 Buku Khamis (Western/Vic Metro) General Defender, 190cm, 81kg
#40 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia) General Defender, 186cm, 74kg

Scouting notes: 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final

WE witnessed one of the all-time great Grand Finals on the weekend, with Dandenong Stingrays holding on by a goal against the Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park.

Dandenong Stingrays:

By: Peter Bonadio and Peter Williams

#1 Sam Fletcher

Ball magnet during the grand final always finds a way to get the footy in his hands. Pretty good by foot in his sides win, having a massive 11 disposals in the opening term, and 18 by half-time. Won more than half of his touches on the inside, and just worked hard all day long. Finished the day with a sore shoulder and blood down his face and jumper – his second jumper of the day, having to change from the number one, to the number 61 in the second half.

#2 Hayden Young

Solid defender who reads the play well when the ball comes into defence. Great vision to sense where his teammates are and has the ability by foot to get the footy to them. Has distance by foot to switch play effectively as well. Used the ball very well and won the majority of the ball in close, can play inside or outside and will be a top pick next year. All class.

#3 Jamie Plumridge

Good hands to get the ball out of congestion and find open teammates on the outside. He showed good composure and did well when under pressure. Plumridge finished the game with 17 touches four marks, three inside 50s and three tackles.

#7 Jai Taylor

A quieter game for Taylor, but he did try and break the game open at times. Has that electrifying speed when he gets going though and had a couple of eye-catching moments. Finished with the 10 disposals and two inside 50s.

#9 Zac Foot

Two goals in a grand final, Foot has a great goal sense. He was very lively when up forward and applies a lot of pressure on his opponents. Not only was he good overhead in contests, but something good always seems to happen when he is involved in the passage of play. His best finals game with 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and the two majors.

#13 Riley Bowman

One of, if not his best game for the season. Bowman was terrific across four quarters and made the most of his height advantage over the smaller Oakleigh ruckmen. He was dominant at the stoppages and got first hands to it on most occasions, but also did the defensive things right, laying tackles, and putting pressure on the ball carrier. He kicked the opening goal of the game and got the crowd up and about early. He did occasionally rush a few kicks to go for distance rather than accuracy, but overall it was a strong game, and he made his presence felt with some good contested marks.

#15 Toby Bedford

He set the tone early with a great tackle inside 50 and just seemed to find space around the ground winning the ball. At times he danced around opponents and tried to set up plays, and while he was not as effective as his past two finals, still had a few eye-catching moments. He kicked an important goal in the second term to keep Dandenong’s momentum high, he just did not have the four quarter consistency on the day, picking up nine of his 10 touches in the middle two quarters.

#16 Jake Frawley

If there is one image that will stick with Dandenong Stingrays fans from the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final, it is Frawley charging off the interchange bench to crunch Will Phillips in a bone-crunching tackle that exemplified Dandenong’s intent on the day. Unfortunately he had a mis-kick with the free he won, and his kicking was a bit hit and miss at times, but his defensive pressure and hands in close was good.

#18 Mitch Riordan

He has built some really solid form since returning from injury, and did a few nice things when the heat was on in the game. Early on he took a good intercept mark at half-back, and just used the ball really cleanly both on the inside and out. He does not win a heap of it, but he gets involved around the stoppages and provided good support along with his other midfielders.

#27 Lachlan McDonnell

The stats sheet does not do McDonnell justice for the game he played. While he was quiet early, his long kick off half-back set up a scoring chain to lead to Bailey Williams’ first goal early in the second term. With the game on the line, McDonnell’s second and third terms were very good, creating run and carry, trying to drive the ball forward. His kicking was a treat to watch, and it was his running goal from 50m in the final term that sealed the game – or so everyone thought at the time. Really strong out of defence and would have high metres gained.

#29 Bailey Williams

Had a quiet first term and was beaten on-on-one by Will Kelly, but then started to get going after that. His one kick in the first term set up a goal with a good, deep inside 50. Williams had a chance in the second term and it looked a bit of a mongrel off the boot but it floated through for his first to get the team up and about. He kicked another important goal in the third term, and missed another chance, when Oakleigh were coming at them. He did not have a massive contribution compared to some weeks, but he did kick two goals at important stages.

#58 Will Hamill

Played a really important role in the back half. He took a crucial intercept mark in the dying minutes when he read the play perfectly, floated in front of an Oakleigh forward, snatched the ball from them and kept running to kick it out of the danger zone. His decision to come off his opponent and chop off the inboard kick could have saved a goal, and potentially the match. He won a number of crucial one-on-ones throughout the match, and even coach, Craig Black praised him post-match for his consistency back there under siege. He just has that touch of class, and is a kick-first type player.

#59 Sam Sturt

The draft bolter looked lively early, and actually beat Isaac Quaynor a couple of times on the lead, forcing Oakleigh to switch Quaynor with Charlie Beasley. Sturt not only provided a presence on the lead, but his effectiveness when kicking inside 50 was a treat. He set up a goal for Zac Foot in the first term when he handballed off the deck to the waiting Foot. In the second half he hit the scoreboard, booting two goals, while finding plenty of the football for a leading forward, taking six marks and firing the ball inside 50 on five occasions.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

By: Craig Byrnes

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

The tall midfielder was enjoyable to watch, producing an influential first half in particular that garnered 13 disposals. He was strong and clean in congestion, often getting his arms high to release or accelerating with eye catching flair into the forward half. He kicked a great goal in the first term, turning into the arc to finish brilliantly from 45 metres out. He is good overhead too, which is a pretty handy trait for a mid at 193cm, taking two strong marks from opposition kicks. He even spent some time in the ruck late, winning a couple of hit outs to advantage to the surprise of many. The first round prospect fought hard all day for his 19 disposals.

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

The exciting half back won his fair share of the ball, rebounding from the defensive arc with flair and vigour as we have become accustomed to. While he is encouraged to take the game on, he uncharacteristically got caught with the ball on occasions. He lost his feet and fumbled at crucial times in dangerous positions, but a lot of that can be applauded to Dandenong’s brilliant defensive pressure. He still had a good offensive outing though, giving his team drive and carry with the occasional evasive trick during the Charger’s final term comeback to end with 18 disposals.

#4 Will Kelly

Started the game in defence as one of Oakleigh’s KPDs, manning the dangerous and athletic Bailey Williams and began in fine fashion. He killed a couple of difficult entrances to the favour of Williams in the first term and consistently read the flight of the ball well. He won plenty of leather in the first half too with 13 disposals, but this is where he sometimes let himself down. Despite possessing a technically correct and attractive kicking action for his size, he often over hit his kicks which led to turnovers, including one that directly became a Dandenong goal. Spent more time up the ground in the second half, including stints in the ruck where he won eight hit outs. He finished with 19 disposals and is a great looking prospect for Collingwood as a father-son selection.

#5 Xavier O’Neill

The smart midfielder had his moments throughout the afternoon, spending time at the stoppages and finding the ball on the offensive side of the contests. He generally used the ball well, but had times when he could have made better decisions going forward. He did create some fast links though, including a long handball through the corridor in the third quarter and a brilliantly won ground clearance in the final term when Oakleigh were fighting back into contention. He finished with 17 disposals and five tackles in what was a solid outing for the Chargers.

#9 James Rowbottom

The usually prolific midfielder was in and around the ball, but struggled to have his usual influence at the stoppages. While he often finds a way to make time slow down in congestion, that relaxed manner saw him holding the ball for too long against the Stingray’s ferocious pressure in the first term and he was chased down. His intensity lifted after that, as he started accumulating ball and taking the first option to create faster link ups for his side. He released some really creative handballs during the final term in particular, nearly all of which ended as Oakleigh scores. Certainly did not disgrace himself, winning 18 disposals in a consistent performance.

#11 Matt Rowell

If you did not know much about the Charger’s bottom-aged star, you should be all over him now as he again proved to be a high priority selection for clubs at the 2019 Draft by being a rare best on ground recipient in a losing team. He is an elite decision maker with ball in hand, a player that creates comfort for his teammates and coaches. While his 31 possessions provided many excellent moments, his clear highlight was a brilliant kick to Dylan Williams inside 50 under extreme pressure. He took the game on in the corridor to get his side back in the game and while that led to some uncharacteristic errors, he was hugely influential in getting Oakleigh close. This kid is a genuine star and a worthy medallist.

#12 Noah Answerth

I really enjoyed the game of the Charger’s skipper, a competitor that was never going to let Dandenong have anything easy in any circumstance. He started at the first centre bounce and often went back to help his defence by sitting in the hole or directing traffic. He produced a big moment in the second term, chasing down the dangerous Toby Bedford deep in defence who looked like snapping a simple goal. He was effective at the stoppages too, using his body to advantage, spinning out of trouble and quickly releasing at one point in the second quarter. He was not far off Rowell and Collier-Dawkins as Oakleigh’s best, collecting 26 disposals, four clearances and six rebound 50s.

#13 Atu Bosenavualagi

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect is giving clubs plenty to think about. He is one of the big improvers in the competition and his AFL attributes are becoming more obvious by the week. He set the early pressure intensity for Oakleigh, making himself known without the ball and being physical towards his opponents. Although it is his attacking play that has really come on in recent weeks. A subtle side step out of traffic to create a goal for Williams gave Oakleigh an early lead late in the first term, while he took a clever mark from behind his opponent later in the first half. In the third term he burned off an opponent to give his side a genuine spark by kicking a bounce and carry goal. He is lively and if he wins 17 disposals like he did on Saturday, he will more than likely have an impact.

#22 Dylan Williams

Another bottom-aged star that had a relevant influence on the close result. Williams continued his outstanding purple patch of goal kicking form to finish with four goals from full-forward. While he only had nine disposals in an underrated one on one battle with Daniel Frampton, he created problems for the Dandenong defender whenever the ball entered his zone. Three of his goals came from left foot snaps or “J-curve” set shots, a skill he already appears to have mastered. His best came from a freakish, almost half-volley pick up from which he swung onto his left again with absolute class. He also smartly went around the corner to set up a goal for Robertson in the opening term and took an excellent contested mark against three opponents in the goal square for his first goal. This latest haul means he has kicked a total of 14 goals for the finals series, a very early indication that this kid has the tools to be a big game player at the top level.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Probably one of the higher rated players that Oakleigh would have liked to get more out of. Quaynor started the game on Dandenong’s dangerous hybrid forward Sam Sturt, who exposed the Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect on the lead early. It led to Quaynor being moved off him before the end of the first quarter and he immediately looked more comfortable as the extra defender. With ball in hand he was calm and made good decisions behind the ball, before being moved to the midfield later in the game. He did not get a great opportunity to settle, but we already know what he offers and the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid come November.

#31 Will Golds

The predominantly outside midfielder or wingman consistently found himself with ball in hand, winning it 25 times in a very productive outing. He is a player who loves to be on the move when in possession, whether it is darting through traffic or running to space to create a link up option. He is smart and releases it quickly, often with the next play up the field in mind. He gets in good positions and knows where to find a handball receive, while his kicking was creative despite a missed short pass in the middle that became a turnover during the third term. He did present Collier-Dawkins with a lovely long weighted pass inside 50 in the first quarter that helped earn his teammate a free kick and regularly hit up targets on the run.

#32 Jack Ross

The thick set inside midfielder has been generating a bit of interest in recent times and again produced some good moments in the Grand Final. He impressed when he went back with the flight and then laid an aggressive tackle, gathered the loose ball cleanly and quickly released to start the chain for an important Dylan Williams goal in the first term. He also won an excellent ground ball in the third term that set up Atu’s memorable running goal, again at a vital period to keep Oakleigh within reach. He then got on the end of one to kick a goal that got his side within two goals in the final term. He is a good player and most importantly rose when his team needed it most in an underrated outing to finish with 19 disposals.

#64 James Jordan

The draft bolter of Oakleigh’s midfield started the game on fire, winning 10 first quarter possessions to be one of the best players on the ground early in the contest. He won two extremely clean ground balls during that period, releasing both to the advantage of his teammates. He was having a genuine influence, but certainly quietened as the match went on. He earned a free kick in the final term after putting his head over the ball, but was rarely sighted otherwise after the first break. He ended the game with a respectable 17 disposals and it will be interesting to see where clubs rate him, as there is certainly some talent.

 

Non-Combine invitees who stood out:

#23 Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong) – 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds and four clearances – huge contributor in the midfield by the co-captain.

#41 Lachlan Stenning (Dandenong) – 21 disposals, two marks, four clearances, four inside 50s, six rebounds – clean out of defence and stood out throughout with some important rebounds.

#10 Charlie Whitehead (Oakleigh) – 17 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s – put pressure in that forward 50 as he always does and could hold his head high.

Clarke comes full circle with grand final feat

AS the first former player to coach the club, Oakleigh Chargers coach Leigh Clarke can go one better on Saturday and become the first former player to coach his side to a TAC Cup premiership.

Clarke has endured a longer journey than most to come full circle at the helm of the Chargers, with a Peninsula league playing career, experience as both a strength and conditioning and line coach at the club, and as forward line coach with Richmond’s reserves.

Taking over from dual premiership coach Mick Stinear was never going to be an easy feat, but the talent of the Oakleigh squad speaks for itself, and Clarke revealed his troops all but coach themselves in driving a culture of success.

“Our boys have a really strong connection amongst each other so you can see in the previous couple of weeks they’ve shown that they’re really keen just to turn up,” Clarke said. “We don’t ask them to be perfect, but we certainly ask them to turn up and fix each other’s mistakes which are going to come often in a game of footy. “So yeah they really drive the culture and that connection that we keep getting back to… and they’re a very easy group to coach.”

Oakleigh has been in irresistible form over the last three weeks, with an average winning margin of 101 points seeing them poised better than almost any side in recent memory coming into an Under 18 decider. Clarke is well aware of their recent credentials, but considering the opposition, is keeping a lid on it.

“We’re feeling quietly confident, I think on the back of our wins we just keep playing our way whether it’s five points or 95 points,” he said. “We’ve been really proud of the boys, they’ve been able to continue to play for four quarters of footy throughout the last two weeks and they haven’t dropped off, which is what we’ve challenged them on is to be able to play four times 25 minutes and we’ll need to do that again this week.”

Dandenong have been the benchmark team all year though, and despite being the only side to overcome the ‘Rays this season, Clarke is still wary and respectful of his side’s opposition having also suffered a loss at their hands.

“I’m sure (Craig Black) isn’t planning to lose and we’re not planning to lose either,” he said. “They’ve had a great year consistently and to finish on top is a real credit to ‘Blacky’ and the program they run out there. “Ours has probably ebbed and flowed a little bit, charting through the year but coming into form in the last month… I’m sure both regions just hope it’s injury-free, that everything goes to course and it’s a good sign of 23 talented kids verses 23 talented kids.”

The strength of the Stingrays has undoubtedly been their aerial dominance, with an array of highly talented ruck and forwards, as well as big bodied medium players who can intercept well off half back. Despite being focussed on his own side’s progression and top four aspirations, Clarke inevitably had an eye on Dandenong’s heroics and key threats.

“You’re well aware throughout the year of each other’s wins, losses and who’s playing well, so in terms of what we focus on, we’re more focussed on what we’re doing but yeah you’re right there are some key players that we’ll have to match for height or find a better way of doing it,” Clarke said. “They’ll present with that height… we believe we’ve got the match-ups to go with them, which ultimately just gives you a chance to see the best talent and the best defenders play on the best forwards.”

But with all of the opposition’s talent comes Oakleigh’s undeniable ability, too, with a number of players showing notable improvement throughout the year around the outstanding seasons from each of their recognised stars. Clarke noted the how Collingwood father-son Will Kelly has come on leaps and bounds, while the likes of Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospects Bailey Wraith and Isaac Quaynor have continued to learn, grow, and drive standards.

All of the above have been led by over-ager Noah Answerth, who holds a special connection to TAC Cup grand finals. Having had his top age year marred by a freak back injury, the rebounding half-back has returned to the level hoped of him and has the opportunity to follow in his brother Kade’s footsteps in lifting the trophy aloft.

He is keen to match it against the best and gain reward for effort. “They’re a pretty good team all-round, they wouldn’t be in the Grand Final if they weren’t,” Answerth said. “So, we haven’t really looked at match-ups yet but we have one on ones all around the ground, we’ll find out at the end of the day.”

While favouritism has changed hands throughout the week and depending on who you ask, it is certain that this is as enthralling a grand final match up as we’ve seen in recent memory.

On Saturday, the season’s best will be crowned, with Clarke hoping his Chargers can continue to storm home and continue Dandenong’s grand final wobbles.

Comprehensive 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final Preview

IT is the equivalent of Christmas Day for the TAC Cup competition, with the two best teams for the year facing off in a decider. We have the clear benchmark all season, in the Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the red-hot Oakleigh Chargers, who have been in sensational form since all their school kids returned to the team. We take a look at the big game from multiple angles in our Ultimate Preview of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

 

2018 SEASON REVIEW

1. Dandenong Stingrays – 15 wins, 1 loss, 211%, 60 points
3. Oakleigh Chargers – 10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 151%, 42 points

HEAD TO HEAD

R5: Oakleigh Chargers 11.6 (72) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 9.12 (66) at Warrawee Park
R9: Dandenong Stingrays 13.17 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 6.4 (40) at Shepley Oval

CHANGES SINCE ROUND 5 THRILLER*

*Including extended benches

Dandenong:
IN: Sam Fletcher, Hayden Young, Toby Bedford, Finlay Bayne, Mitch Riordan, Daniel Frampton, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan, Matthew Cumming, Sam Sturt
OUT: Jake Carosella, James Hickey, Jarrod Smith, William Geurts, Sam De Koning, Bailey Angwin

Oakleigh:
IN: Will Kelly, Noah Anderson, James Rowbottom, Matthew Rowell, Kyle Dunkley, Lucas Westwood, Trent Bianco, Bailey Wraith, Will Golds, Jack Ross, Matt Warren, James Jordan
OUT: Sam Harte, Lachlan Bugeja, Xavier Fry, Matthew Fewings, Ben Silvagni, Kyle Viccars, Josh May, Daniel Scala, Lachlan Harry, Sam Elliot

 

WHO HAS COMBINE INVITES?

National:

Dandenong Stingrays [6]: Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams
Oakleigh Chargers [7]: Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Will Kelly, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, James Rowbottom

State/Rookie Me:

Dandenong Stingrays [10]: Stephen Cumming, Sam Fletcher, Jake Frawley, Matthew Gahan, Lachlan McDonnell, Jamie Plumridge, Mitch Riordan, Bailey Schmidt, Jai Taylor, Lachlan Young
Oakleigh Chargers [6]: Joe Ayton Delaney, Atu Bosenavulagi, Kyle Dunkley, Jake Gasper, James Jordon, Jack Ross

Note: Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh) and Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong) have combine invitations but are unavailable due to injury.

PLAYERS

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

#1 Sam FLETCHER

Just keeps winning the football every week and puts in a consistent effort. He will join Hustwaite on the inside and look to fire out a number of handballs to teammates in space, and will often look to win that one-on-one duel when given the chance. Does not get to the outside as much as other midfielders, but does all the damage at the coal face, expect him to be prominent in there again.

#2 Hayden YOUNG

The potential number one pick next year looked sore throughout the preliminary final last week and got moved from the back pocket to the extended interchange, so it appeared to be a waiting game on whether he would play. Unbelievable talent with and a hardness at the ball, can play anywhere on the field, but he has been used off half-back with that smooth running and deadly foot skills a highlight.

#3 Jamie PLUMRIDGE

Tipped by TAC Cup Radio’s Matthew Cocks for the Best on Ground, Plumridge has been a consistent performer this year. Plumridge is an outside midfielder who often wins it on the wing and pumps it inside 50 to the tall targets.

#7 Jai TAYLOR

An electrifying speedster, Taylor is one of the fastest players in the competition, and with Toby Bedford, has the capability of breaking the lines and causing disruption amongst the opposition zone. While he does not always do it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and take the game on.

#9 Zac FOOT

Burst onto the scene early in the season to make Vic Country after never having made a previous Stingrays’ squad. He played throughout the National Under 18 Championships, and while he did not star, he still had some impressive moments. Adds a different element to the team because he can win it inside or out, play back, forward or through the midfield and has a high impact per possession when he is on.

#10 Lachlan YOUNG

A defender who loves to rebound and use the ball well, he does not find a lot of it – averaging just 12.5 disposals per game. But almost 25 per cent of his possessions are rebounds, with Young ensuring the ball can clear the defensive zone.

#11 Ned CAHILL

Named as the 23rd player, Cahill showed in last week’s preliminary final just how damaging he could be booting two goals and passed off another couple. Still a bottom-age player, Cahill has emerged as a genuine goal sneak at 177cm. Has to be respected because he just gets to the right positions.

#12 Matthew GAHAN

Has enjoyed a really solid season off half-back earning himself a State Combine invitation. Gahan is a strong ball user and a player who his teammates like getting the ball into the hands of. With Oakleigh’s strong forward line, Gahan will need to be used both offensively and defensively in order to still create drive while restricting one of the many dangerous Chargers’ defenders.

#13 Riley BOWMAN

Is suited to the number one ruck role, but can play forward which is where he is expected to play. Often the Stingrays rotate Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Bailey Williams through the ruck such is their luxury. Bowman’s pure ruckwork is arguably the best of the lot, because he gets his hands to most throw-ins or ball-ups and can palm down to his midfielders. Big men seem to be out of fashion lately, so a big game would be huge to determine where he slots in.

#15 Toby BEDFORD

One of the most in-form Stingrays of late, Bedford has a great mix of offensive and defensive skills, providing line-breaking ability as well as tackling pressure in the forward half. He can kick multiple goals in a game, and pinch-hit in the midfield to break up the game. He offers a different element to the Dandenong midfield, and the Melbourne Next Generation Academy player is one who Demons fans will enjoy watching over the years, with the assumption they match the bid that comes in.

#16 Jake FRAWLEY

A strong midfielder who can play out of full-forward such is his strength one-on-one or in the air. Booted six goals against against Bendigo Pioneers at Shepley Oval playing almost exclusively as a forward. He adds some depth to the midfield and his versatility is important when the big day rolls around.

#17 Finlay BAYNE

Another dangerous small forward who can play through the midfield. Due to the depth in the Stingrays onball brigade, Bayne has found a nice spot in the forward 50 and is good for a couple of goals a game. He is a good mover with good goal sense.

#18 Mitch RIORDAN

Highly rated at the start of the season, Riordan had injury concerns and missed the bulk of the National Under 18 Championships, and has only recently returned in the past month. He can use the ball well, and while he does not win much of it, he can often be found coming out of a stoppage and kicking forward. Athletically he is very good, testing well in the 20m sprint, agility test and yo-yo test, so it is just getting game time into him.

#23 Campbell HUSTWAITE

The Stingrays captain is another player who has been in fine form the past couple of months and seems made for the big stage. He has lead from the front in the TAC Cup finals series and does everything expected of him. Against a strong Oakleigh midfield, his desire and competitiveness will be called upon to match it with the likes of Jack Ross and James Rowbottom. Hustwaite could be a best on ground chance given you know exactly what you will get from him each week.

#27 Lachlan MCDONNELL

Played at half-forward for the start of the season and has progressed onto the wing. Of all the Dandenong midfielders, McDonnell is one of the Stingrays’ most damaging kicks in transition. He is predominantly outside compared to the others, but he finds space and pumps it long inside 50.

#28 Bailey SCHMIDT

The big man has been unlucky not to play more games because he is a damaging presence up forward with great athleticism. He has just landed at a club in a year with ridiculous amounts of talent in the ruck/forward position. Still earned a State Combine invite, and while he has been named on the extended bench, is still one who has been able to show his wares throughout the 2018 season.

#29 Bailey WILLIAMS

The big key forward/ruck looms as the player Oakleigh must stop if the Chargers are to win their fifth TAC Cup premiership. Williams is an athletic monster forward who has a massive vertical leap and can cause plenty of headaches for any opposition defender. His goal kicking has been an issue for two thirds of the season, so he will need to be on target in the game. Expect him to have a bearing on the game, and if he can get an early major and build confidence – watch out.

#32 Daniel FRAMPTON

Has held down centre half-back at times despite standing at just 188cm. Can intercept the ball and averages 3.5 marks per game. The smaller Oakleigh forward line will suit Frampton as it means he does not have to battle against a 200cm monster.

#36 Stephen CUMMING

Starting in the ruck and even though he came off a little sore early last week, Cumming still played out the game and looks set to start in the centre square tomorrow. The big man will rotate with Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams in the ruck and no doubt try and wear down the undersized Bailey Wraith.

#41 Lachlan STENNING

The defender is likely to take a defensive approach on a forward whether it be Dylan Williams, Jake Gasper or Atu Bosenavulagi and try and limit their influence on the game. He is a low-possession player but one who can play above his height of 178cm.

#45 Luca GOONAN

Still a bottom-ager, Goonan was added to the side for the Grand Final on an extended bench. It is hard to push out the strong top-age presence, but he has had some impressive signs this season. He is readymade at 83kg already, and one to keep an eye on for next year.

#49 Matthew COTTRELL

A genuine honest midfielder who you know what you are going to get. Suited to the inside, but has played outside, he just attacks the ball and tries to clear it forward. Has had some impressive games this season and will likely need to beat his opponent this weekend against a strong Chargers’ midfield.

#52 Corey ELLISON

At 191cm and 88kg, Ellison is that medium size who can play tall or small up forward, and actually averages 2.7 goals per game from seven matches. Has been in and out of the team at times because of the strength up forward, if given the chance he knows how to hit the scoreboard.

#56 Matthew CUMMING

Cumming has played predominantly key position defence this season and just tried to beat his opponent one-on-one. Like his brother, he moves well for a 198cm player, but not sure what match-up he has in this match. With Oakleigh adopting a smaller forward line, he will likely play on a player close to 10cm smaller than him, so he must prepare for that.

#57 Reid NANSCAWEN

Named as the sole emergency for the side, he looks to be the one to come in if injury strikes. He has played a bit of everywhere, and held up the midfield during the National Under 18 Championships when Dandenong had absences galore. Is the type that can come in and play his role and will no doubt be waiting in the wings if the opportunity arises.

#58 Will HAMILL

An underrated player in the Stingrays defensive half. Hamill can play through the midfield, but his class and composure off half-back has been a standout of his game. He glides around the field, and while he is not a huge accumulator, he can hurt opposition with nice delivery forward. Will be held accountable with one of many dangerous Chargers small forwards who just find the goals on a regular basis.

#59 Sam STURT

The late developer has burst onto the scene of late after some impressive performances for Peninsula Grammar. He was boosted from a State Combine invitation to a National Combine invitation, and has already showed why he is in hot demand since playing for the Stingrays. He has electric skills, great smarts and knows where the goals are – so damaging.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

#1 Riley COLLIER-DAWKINS

A potential first round prospect, Collier-Dawkins has that blistering first few steps that can burn off an opponent out of a stoppage. He has been trialled up forward, but he is his most dominant on the inside, as he showed last week in the preliminary final. If he can use his strength, acceleration and penetrating kick to effect, then the Chargers will have plenty of hurt factor roaming through the midfield in transition.

#3 Joe AYTON-DELANEY

The running defender was unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invitation after some impressive performances early in the season. He is one that will be in high demand with a good Grand Final and just finds the ball. Uses it well coming out of the backline and has shiny red boots that stand out. A player Oakleigh looks to get the ball in the hands of, along with Isaac Quaynor, in the backline.

#4 Will KELLY

He will have his work cut out for him, regardless if he takes Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. He often enjoys running off an opponent and providing rebound, but he will need to be tight with the athletic talls. He can also go forward and provide a target if Oakleigh wants to throw a spanner in the works midway through the game. A Collingwood father-son prospect who will be watched closely by any Collingwood contingent that make the trip to Ikon Park.

#5 Xavier O’NEILL

Did not make the final Vic Metro squad, but showed enough throughout the 2018 TAC Cup season to suggest to recruiters he was in their top 50, earning a National Draft Combine invitation. He just does his job each week and is a really solid contributor. He covers the ground well and wins the ball in all thirds of the ground.

#6 Matthew DAY

The former basketballer was unlucky not be thrown a lifeline late last year, and has continued on as a really solid forward prospect as an overager for the Chargers this season. Keeps kicking goals and is strong overhead. A good size for development and one that the Stingrays cannot afford to let off the chain.

#7 Jay ROBERTSON

Did not make the cut at Eastern Ranges hailing from South Belgrave, came across and has been a valuable contributor up forward for Oakleigh. He is a medium tall who just keeps hitting the scoreboard and can fly under the radar with so much talent up that end.

#8 Noah ANDERSON

Another potential number one pick, Anderson is that prototype size for a midfielder, who due to the amazing depth of the Oakleigh midfield, has had the ability to almost play exclusively up forward. He pumps the ball long, can win it inside or out, and knows how to hit the scoreboard – as he did for Vic Metro against Western Australia.

#9 James ROWBOTTOM

The most pure of the inside midfielders, he gives his team a four quarter effort and wins a truckload of the ball on the inside. He is a clearance machine and just finds the ball anywhere on the ground. Dandenong are known for their hardness at the contest, and Rowbottom will be a key contributor for Oakleigh in trying to nullify some of the opposition midfielders.

#10 Charlie WHITEHEAD

A fierce small forward who loves to pressure opponents and just gets to the right positions. He has the capability of kicking multiple goals if given space and has a great goal sense. A pure small forward in every sense, he can push up the ground if the Chargers isolate another forward.

#11 Matthew ROWELL

Another Vic Metro representative in his bottom-age year, Rowell leads by example on the field. He has an uncompromising attack on the ball and is crucial around stoppages, but has had the luxury of playing on the outside, predominantly off a wing. He can play forward and kick goals, as he has the past two finals – kicking the first goal in both games.

#12 Noah ANSWERTH

The over-age captain does not do a lot wrong and can play anywhere on the field. His brother, Kade was best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final during Oakleigh Chargers’ last premiership over Eastern Ranges, and Answerth will be keen to put in an equally impressive performance. He made the Vic Metro squad and performed strongly and will leave no stone unturned in getting the most out of himself.

#13 Atu BOSENAVULAGI

Has bolted up into draft consideration after a quieter start to the season. His second half of the TAC Cup competition has been superb, and he is starting to regularly hit the scoreboard, while still applying the defensive pressure he was known for. Has made opposition clubs consider a National Draft bid, with Collingwood able to match if they like him.

#14 Kyle DUNKLEY

Has been on the fringe of getting into the team after spending time with Sydney Swans’ Reserves. With Oakleigh winning its past three games by an average of 101 points, it is a hard team to break into, but the forward will be ready if he gets his chance.

#16 Lucas WESTWOOD

A really reliable defender. With most of the other Oakleigh defenders being offensive players, Westwood adds that defensive hardness and ability to shut down a key opposition forward. He could well be given any number of smalls from the Stingrays who can kick multiple majors.

#17 Trent BIANCO

A skilful player who provides plenty of run and carry off half-back and through the midfield. Expect him to play more on-ball next season, but he has high-end talent and adds to what is a very strong bottom-age core at the Chargers.

#22 Dylan WILLIAMS

The bottom-age small forward is in ripping form, and just keeps kicking goals week-in, week-out. He shared them last week after six snags against Western Jets in the elimination final. He does very little wrong, and after spending time in defence early in the season, Williams’ strength overhead and great goal sense has him as a key player inside 50 for the Chargers. One Dandenong defender will have their work cut out for them.

#23 Isaac QUAYNOR

The running defender takes the game on and has some eye-catching moments. He might have to use his one-on-one ability more than he has had to in the past weeks, because Dandenong’s forward line will make sure he is made accountable. If he can get out and break the lines, using his speed and skill to create run-and-carry, then it will go a long way to Oakleigh winning the match. A Collingwood Next Generation Academy member to watch.

#26 Jake GASPER

The TAC Cup Leading Goalkicker and taking into account post-season goals he is the standalone leader, Gasper has been the most consistent forward in the competition. He has booted goals in every game he has played and his set shot routine is perfect. The Dandenong defence will focus on not letting him get too much air time because he is so smart in that forward 50.

#30 Bailey WRAITH

You have to applaud Wraith, who started as a key defender, but has stood up as an undersized ruck. He is measured at 191cm (though many believe he might be a few centimetres taller), and he has matched up against much taller opponents in the ruck. He will have to play his best game of the season against the Dandenong brigade however, with practically three 200cm rucks with big vertical leaps awaiting him.

#31 Will GOLDS

The most pure outside midfielder for the Chargers, Golds will be the one spreading to the outside and carrying the ball forward when given time and space. He could well match up against Lachlan McDonnell and the pair goes their separate ways, or they run alongside each other. Likes to set up plays forward of centre and has had a really solid finals series.

#32 Jack ROSS

The underrated midfielder from the Chargers has been building consistency very nicely over the past month since returning from school football. He loves the appetite of the contest, but can also spread to the outside and provide long kicks forward. He knows how to find a goal from a stoppage inside 50, and is one of many Oakleigh midfielders who looms as a key player on the weekend and one the Stingrays will put work into.

#33 Matt WARREN

Started the year as a key defender and can play up either end. Had the tough job of manning Max King in the top five pick’s only TAC Cup game and King booted eight goals in that game. At 189cm he has had to play on much taller opponents at times, but continues to battle above his height and weight range. A versatile option if a tall drops out of the Grand Final after being added to the interchange bench.

#36 Charlie BEASLEY

Rated really highly internally, Beasley will have to play taller than his 192cm against Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. The coach, Leigh Clarke backs him in and he rarely lets him down. Regardless of opponent, Beasley is the type of defender who will stick to the task for four quarters.

#38 Zac HART

Oakleigh’s forward line is harder to break into than Fort Knox, so for the potential Adelaide father-son it has not been easy to find a spot. Hart has been added to the side on the extended interchange bench, and he is a smart forward with good goal sense, but with Oakleigh’s firepower on show the last month, it will probably take an injury for Hart to squeeze in.

#44 Will PHILLIPS

The Under 16s Vic Metro representative has managed to retain his place in the Oakleigh line-up despite it being as strong as it is, playing as the 23rd player. Great skills, good spread and does not seem phased against the bigger bodies, Phillips looks a player for the 2020 National Draft.

#64 James JORDON

Played a couple of games earlier in the season and returned after school football, Jordon has provided good run and carry on the outside. Like Golds, Jordon predominantly is used as a ball carrier with slick skills to take the game on and delivery well inside 50.

 

FATHER/SON AND ACADEMY PROSPECTS

Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays) – Melbourne Next Generation Academy

Atu Bosenavulagi, Isaac Quaynor, Bailey Wraith (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood Next Generation Academy

Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood father/son

Kyle Dunkley* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Sydney father/son

Zac Hart* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Adelaide father/son

*Extended interchange

 

STATISTICS

Dandenong defence vs. Oakleigh attack

The key in this third of the ground, is whether or not Dandenong’s slick foot skills out of defence and springboard rebound can be used against the massive forward pressure of the Chargers. Atu Bosenavulagi (4.5 tackles), Jake Gasper (4.1) and Charlie Whitehead (3.2) provide the tackling heat, while Dylan Williams (62.8 per cent kicking efficiency), Jay Robertson (60.4 per cent) and Noah Anderson (56.6 per cent) provide the skills going inside 50. Gasper has been the dominant goal kicker this season, sharing the overall competition tally and post-finals has the most goals of any player in the league.

For Dandenong, they have some very nice ball users in the back half, lead by Will Hamill and Lachlan Stenning, while five of their six defenders average more than two marks a game. Lachlan Young (3.1 rebounds), Matthew Gahan (2.9) and Daniel Frampton (2.3) are that wall at half-back, while Matthew Cumming is the athletic key position defender who can share ruck duties. The big question mark will be match-ups as Oakleigh have a small forward line, while Cumming will no doubt be matched up on a smaller player.

Dandenong midfield vs. Oakleigh midfield

Two highly talented midfields will go head-to-head with so many crucial head-to-heads. Dandenong generally loves a contested brand of football, whereas Oakleigh love using their outside foot skills to advantage. In saying that, both sides can still play the other’s game. Stingrays captain, Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will provide the inside support, whereas Matthew Cottrell can play inside or out. Lachlan McDonnell is the most outside because he has the best skills of the five onballers, and has provided a crucial link between midfield and half-forward.

Will Golds provides just that for Oakleigh, whereas both Matthew Rowell and Jack Ross are equally as impressive inside as they are outside, and can get forward and kick goals as well. Noah Answerth can also play off half-back or half-forward and hit the scoreboard for the Chargers, while Bailey Wraith has been getting the job done in the ruck despite being undersized. If he can get forward and kick a goal, it adds an extra challenge for the Stingrays. He will have his work cut out for him against the best ruck division in the league.

Dandenong attack vs. Oakleigh defence

Dandenong’s attack is likely to cause a lot more headaches for Oakleigh’s defence than other sides have in past weeks. With Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman both athletic talls, it means Charlie Beasley and Will Kelly will have to be prepared to jump as both Dandenong keys are highly athletic – particularly Williams who is second to none with vertical leap. Jai Taylor and Toby Bedford are two of the quickest players going around, while Sam Sturt and Zac Foot consistently hit the scoreboard.

The great strength with Oakleigh’s defence is its ball use out of the back 50, with Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco all wonderful kicks of the football. Often teams can have at least one liability back in their defence, but there is no player in the back 50 who the Chargers would not feel comfortable with kicking the ball out of the back 50. The challenge for the Chargers defence is they have to expect Dandenong to bring the heat. Forward pressure from the Stingrays is a must, and Oakleigh must be up for that challenge.

Extended interchange of both sides:

The depth on both these benches, particularly Oakleigh’s, is madness. Riley Collier Dawkins could be a first round pick but he sits on the pine, while James Jordon and Xavier O’Neill are crucial cogs in Oakleigh’s midfield. Matthew Day has been a really valuable forward for the Chargers this season, while Vic Metro Under 16s talent, Will Phillips has been very slick with his ball use on the outside and shapes as an impressive talent for the 2020 AFL National Draft. With father-son prospects and sneaky small forwards Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart waiting in the wings, and the versatile Matt Warren also brought in to the extended team, Oakleigh has plenty of options to head into game day.

For Dandenong, Finlay Bayne and Ned Cahill both provide depth in the forward line and showed they can kick multiple goals, as they did against Sandringham Dragons last week. Corey Ellison has been unlucky this season given the strength of talls for the Stingrays, while Hayden Young could be pick one next season, but came off sore last week and whether he makes the final team is yet to be seen. Bailey Schmidt is another athletic tall who could come in to really stretch the Oakleigh defence, while Jake Frawley kicked a bag of six earlier in the season. Jamie Plumridge has been good on  the outside for Dandenong this season, while Luca Goonan is a prospect to watch for next year. Reid Nanscawen has been named as the only emergency in the team.

WHY WILL THEY WIN?

Dandenong Stingrays: They have been the best team all year and attack the footy with numbers. A fierce intent on the ball carrier, any opposition know that the heat will come and it will depend on how they deal with it. The Stingrays are not a high possession team, and opt for sharing the ball around, but still using the ball long and effective. They have the tall timber up forward to put in the air and allow them to mark it, because no-one is spoiling Bailey Williams if he gets a run at it.

Oakleigh Chargers: They are the most skilful team in the competition who are happy to use short possessions rather than take risks with long kicks, but know when to flick the switch. Often they will use a series of short kicks until a player breaks free and then they use run-and-carry to run down the wings and pick a target out inside 50. Without the height in there, the Oakleigh midfielder put low balls out in front of their teammates to run onto with their speed off the mark, key.

 

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO STOP?

Dandenong Stingrays: They absolutely must bring the heat on the weekend. Oakleigh dominate games when they are allowed to over-possess the ball and just wait until options free up. Dandenong need to ensure that firstly, Oakleigh cannot have free numbers wandering into open space, and secondly, that there is a defensive midfielder who is happy to drop back and fill the hole in front of the Oakleigh forwards. Unlike Dandenong where a 200cm athlete will crash into your back, Oakleigh’s passes inside 50 will be low darts, so the Stingrays need to restrict the free space inside 50 and force them wide.

Oakleigh Chargers: They have to be wary of positioning themselves well inside the defensive 50. They will be playing against much taller opponents who can fly high, and some of their usually offensively-minded defenders might have to do more one-on-one defending. Isaac Quaynor is arguably the best small defender in the league one-on-one and he might be the man to go to Sam Sturt, as Quaynor can play taller and is equally as smart. Bailey Wraith will also have his work cut out for him in the ruck, and while he has been fantastic, when you’re going up against high flying rucks that are towering over you, the goal is to nullify as much as possible.

 

GRAND FINAL HISTORY

The two teams have never met in a TAC Cup Grand Final before, but have been involved in 10 between them. Dandenong has heartbreakingly lost all five of their encounters, two of which exceeded 80 points. For Oakleigh, they have won four out of a possible five attempts, including a goal point to Jack Macrae in 2012 getting them over the line against Gippsland Power.

Dandenong Stingrays:

1997: lost to North Ballarat Rebels by 35 points
2005: lost to Gippsland Power by 15 points
2008: lost to Murray Bushrangers by 81 points
2009: lost to Calder Cannons by 14 points
2013: lost to Eastern Ranges by 112 points

Oakleigh Chargers:

2006: defeated Calder Cannons by 27 points
2011: lost to Sandringham Dragons by eight points
2012: defeated Gippsland Power by one point
2014: defeated Calder Cannons by 47 points
2015: defeated Eastern Ranges by 12 points

 

AFL Draft Central tips

 

Peter Williams

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jack Ross

Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jake Gasper

Ed Pascoe

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Cameron Ross

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

 

Total Tips:

Dandenong Stingrays 2
Oakleigh Chargers 4

Best on Ground:

Toby Bedford 2
Dylan Williams 2
Jack Ross 1
Jake Gasper 1

Black hopes sixth time’s a charm for Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays coach, Craig Black is hoping for a fairytale finish to his stint at the club as head coach, before joining Collingwood in a development role. Speaking at the TAC Cup Grand Final press conference, Black said he hoped the Stingrays could win their first flag upon their sixth attempt in the competition, but would treat the game just like any other game.

“I don’t think you can probably hide from it (the 0-5 record in grand finals),” he said. “Everyone seems to bring it up, but some of these boys like Campbell (Hustwaite, co-captain) weren’t even born when they had the first Grand Finals losses. “I think you’d have those stories with everyone, but yeah we talk about it, but it’s even better when these boys get the opportunity to come out and maybe be the first person that can do it.”

Being his last game in charge of the Shepley Oval club, Black said he had mixed emotions, but was looking forward to finishing on a high for the players.

“It’s no different really, it is when you’re looking back, you’ve been there a long time, I think I’ve been back nine years, you know every bump along the road, so I definitely will miss it, I’ve got some good memories,” he said. “But I just want to get the right result so the players, the 60 players on our list, can get some success.” On the weekend we will have probably 20 players, 21 players who it will be their last game, so hopefully they can go out with a win.”

Dandenong Stingrays head into Saturday’s decider with just one loss to their name – a six-point defeat – to their grand final opponents, Oakleigh Chargers. Black said the season had been a strong one for the club, but it would not amount to much in the long-term if they dropped the final game on the weekend.

“Obviously we got some reward for our effort, the way we played throughout the year, but as you know the TAC Cup changes every year with school kids out, nationals and academy boys missing games,” he said. “We’ve been really fortunate this year, we’ve won a couple of close ones earlier in the year and we kept rolling on, but as you know with footy once you’ve sort of won one game you just move onto the next. “We’ve been lucky that we’ve won a few, but doesn’t mean much now does it when there’s one game up for grabs?”

Asked about whether the Stingrays were nervous facing the only team that had managed to stop them singing the song after the game, Black said it was indeed the opposite view that the players and staff held.

“I look at it completely different,” he said. “I think hopefully people are probably saying the two best teams have made the grand final this year. “I know our players, and I won’t speak for Clarkey, but I’m sure he’s probably the same. “Young kids just love coming out and playing against the best talent and give themselves every opportunity to fulfil their dreams and win games of footy and hopefully end up on an AFL list. “I think the TAC Cup will get that opportunity this week and supporters will come and see the two best teams play off and that’s unbelievable for us.”

One interesting factor looking ahead to the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final is the different styles that the two clubs take with their football. While Oakleigh rely on medium-tall and small options to kick their goals, Dandenong have some tall timber up forward, as well as a number of medium talls and midfielders who float through to kick winning scores. The Stingrays mentor said he would just focus on his side’s strengths rather than just looking to nullify the strengths of the Chargers.

“I think you go into the game, both teams are into awesome form, coming into the last 8-10 weeks of footy,” Black said. “If either team can get the play on their terms it will go a long way. “I know with us, you just deal with what you’ve got. “This year is a bit of an abnormal year, we’ve got some tall players and next year we mightn’t, so pre-season you get them, you keep developing them and hopefully you get the right team.”

Another aspect that comes into play which is unique for this game is the fact that Oakleigh will field four top-age players who are eligible to be recruited by Collingwood under the father-son and Next Generation Academy. Black, who will try and nullify their impact this weekend, will help develop those players, if selected by the Magpies, when he heads to the Holden Centre at the conclusion of the season. Black said he looked forward to the role, but for now, the likes of Isaac Quaynor, Atu Bosenavulagi, Bailey Wraith and Will Kelly were all opposition players.

“I think looking at the last sort of eight weeks and stuff, we’re really still leaving them in the TAC,” Black said. “The TAC Cup is a wonderful breeding ground for developing young players and obviously Oakleigh have a terrific track record of doing that over 25 years and even the last few years so really while the young NGA players are still in their TAC Cup, you sort of watch them from afar and let them develop in their own program and once the season finishes we’ll start doing a lot more with them.”

Black has his own Next Generation Academy player at the Stingrays – the exciting Toby Bedford who has been in strong form of late, and Melbourne will have first choice to select him once a bid comes in at November’s National AFL Draft.

“Yeah Tobes has been great,” Black said. “I think Clarkey (Leigh Clarke) mentioned before about how he had Vic Country, and then he was away at Melbourne Grammar for the school footy, so it’s that challenge when he gets back. “He boards at Melbourne Grammar so when he gets to training, one thing we know is with Tobes is his effort  and his intensity, he’s always up and about. “The players love it when he’s around, he’s a cheeky little thing and he plays on the edge at times and we love him for it.”

Other players who have shot into draft contention from “left field” include a newcomer to the Stingrays program, and one who had only played school footy prior to a month ago.

“We’ve probably got the one who stands out at the moment is Sam Sturt, you know who’s been playing at Peninsula and has come played four games of TAC Cup footy,” Black said. “Everyone’s watched him about as many times as I have. “It’s just people like that, and that’s what this competition gives, you know if someone is playing good football from left field, these sort of programs can give them the chance of fulfilling their talent as well. “People like Zac Foot who has come in, who wasn’t fortunate enough to play in our 17s or 16s or 15s program, come through as an 18 year-old and play as Vic Country. “Just the opportunities and everyone, I think if players weren’t improving we wouldn’t be in the position we are, and that’s lead by our captain and our leaders who are really driving high standards individually and as a team each week.”

Black thanked the support staff and development coaches around him who were always on hand to assist, and help develop these players from the start of the season until the end. Black himself has come through the program, captaining Dandenong to the 1997 TAC Cup Grand Final, returning to the club and having lead the Stingrays for the past five seasons.

“We’re lucky enough to be the head coaches of the TAC but I know we’ve got wonderful assistants and support staff around us that help out and you know, if you’re running late or can’t make it a night, they’re more than happy to step in, so it’s wonderful,” Black said. “I think it’s only going to get bigger and bigger with the the TAC Cup programs and getting chances at AFL, working with these wonderful young men that are getting opportunities, it’s great I think.”

After narrowly missing out on making the 2017 decider, going down to eventual premiers Geelong Falcons in the preliminary final at GMHBA Stadium 12 months ago, Black admitted he was nervous heading into the clash with Sandringham Dragons last weekend.

“I was really nervous going into last week’s game because you want your players to have the opportunity to experience Grand Final week, I mean they don’t do press conferences for prelims and that sort of stuff,” Black said. “So when we won this week is just all about enjoying it. “We said to our players after the game, ‘enjoy it, you might never play in a Grand Final again’ so we’re really thankful, and excited.”

It is not often a team that finishes top of the table with just one loss for the season heads into the TAC Cup Grand Final as potential underdogs. But with Oakleigh Chargers having won their past three games by an average of 101 points, including a 93-point demolition of the second placed Gippsland Power last weekend, the Chargers seem to be the in-form side, if that is even possible against a side that has won 13 on the trot. Black laughed off the matter of favouritism, because all that mattered was what happened from the first bounce to the final siren.

“I’ve been asked this question a few times and I know we’re going into the game that we can win the game of footy so I don’t know if favourites and that really matter like, it doesn’t bother me one little bit,” Black said. “Two really good teams in really good form are going to get a crack at winning a Grand Final and I’m sure I’ll speak for the Stingrays but I know we’ll go in with a lot of confidence. “Yeah we’ve got to take our chances when we get them, because I think both teams are going to get some really good chances and probably control the ball for periods of time. “Whoever makes the most of their opportunities (will likely win), but I think it’s going to be a fantastic game of footy, or I hope it is. “We’re just really excited about giving 23 players from our area an opportunity to play on Grand Final day and on Foxtel and on the big stage.”

Dandenong Stingrays take on Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park from 12.05pm on Saturday for the 2018 TAC Cup premiership.

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. 

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

AFTER publishing our notes from Saturday’s elimination finals yesterday, we took a look at some of the combine invitees and future stars from Sunday’s two elimination finals.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets

Oakleigh:

By: Scott Dougan

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

Collier-Dawkins started on the bench but quickly found himself heavily involved when he came onto the ground. He was able to accumulate plenty of possessions and he hit the scoreboard early after he pushed forward to take a mark inside 50. His clearance work was superb and he was able to put his acceleration to good use when trying to escape congestion. Collier-Dawkins seemed to have more time than he actually had and due to his size, he was able to break numerous amount of tackles.

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

The classy rebounding defender provided some much-needed run and carry for the Chargers early on in the match. He demonstrated clean ball use by using both feet to hit a number of targets. He was able to find plenty of space and moped up everything that came in his direction. His defensive efforts were also handy, spoiling the ball when required. Ayton-Delaney tallied a game-high 24 disposals.

#4 Will Kelly

Kelly played on dangerous forward Emerson Jeka and played really well. Kelly impressed with his ability to provide some effective run out of the defensive 50. He was able to run off his opponent with ease, collecting the ball from his teammates on the outside of the contest. His ball use was superb by hand and foot and he rarely missed a target. Kelly can effectively lock down an opponent and play well as an intercepting rebounding defender at the same time, making him very valuable.

#9 James Rowbottom

Rowbottom’s clearance work was first-class, winning plenty of first possession around the contest. He matched up on Western Jets inside midfielder Xavier O’Halloran, with both of them winning a fair of the ball. His kicking was respectable and he was able to deliver the ball inside 50 to the advantage of his teammates. Rowbottom was fierce at the contest and his defensive pressure and tackling was consistent. He ended the day with 23 touches and 10 tackles showcasing his physical presence.

#11 Matthew Rowell

The bottom-age midfielder worked tirelessly all day, running from contest to contest. He was the first player to hit the scoreboard for the day, booting an impressive goal from 40 metres out. Rowell continuously put his head over the ball and he was not afraid to attack the contest at full pace. He accumulated 22 possessions for the day and won them predominantly on the outside of the contest. His decision-making was also really good.

#13 Atu Bosenavulagi

Bosenavulagi came to life in the third and fourth quarters, booting four second-half goals. He was dangerous inside the forward 50, finding plenty of space. His best passage of play came in the third term when he sprinted away from Jets defender Buku Khamis and ran inside 50 to an open goal.

#22 Dylan Williams

The 185cm bottom-age forward was outstanding over four quarters. His leading patterns were effective and he was able to take plenty of marks on the lead, with many resulting in shots on goal. He used his body exceptionally well for his size, winning a plethora of one-on-one contests. His goal sense and footy smarts made him a difficult match-up deep inside the forward 50. He finished the day with a game-high six goals.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Quaynor did his best to provide run and carry for his team in the first half but was not heavily involved, with the ball rarely finding its way into the Chargers backline due to their dominance. He was more involved in the second half, especially when he moved further up the ground. Quaynor moved forward in the final term and even had a shot on goal, but he pushed his kick out on the full.

 

Western:

By: Ed Pascoe

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews had another quiet game with some strong quarters mixed with some quiet ones. In this case it was his first and fourth quarters that stood out. He kicked a lovely set shot goal outside 50 in the first quarter and in the last quarter he took a nice intercept mark and showed off his trademark smooth movement through traffic. Andrews finished with 12 disposals, three inside 50s and one goal. 

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

O’Halloran was the clear best player for Western Jets. He played a consistent four quarter game and just continued to hunt the ball and move the footy forward. O’Halloran won plenty of clearances in the first quarter and was instrumental in keeping his side relatively close going into quarter time. He showed he could make an impact away from the stoppages as well with a lovely contested mark in the second quarter. O’Halloran also kicked a long goal from 55m with a set shot from a free kick. He was also fantastic in this quarter with his desperate efforts where he continued to tap the ball on before being outnumbered and then laying a lunging tackle. O’Halloran finished with 17 disposals, seven tackles, eight inside 50s and one goal and he couldn’t have done anymore as captain of the Jets. 

 #38 Buku Khamis

Khamis played a brave game down back with the Oakleigh charge making sure Khamis was always under pressure with the ball coming in with precision and speed. Khamis took a couple of nice intercept marks in the first quarter and he used the ball well on his trusty left foot. He did not stop trying all day, continuing to intercept and get in the right spots to try and help repel Oakleigh’s attack. Khamis did not make many mistakes by hand or foot throughout the match finishing with 15 disposals, six marks and four rebound 50s. 

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Murray Bushrangers

Sandringham:

By: Scott Dougan

#7 Liam Stocker

Stocker won the first clearance of the day, delivering the ball inside 50 to teammate, Ben King. His work rate was noticeable throughout the first term, winning the footy in the back half of the ground then applying a strong tackle in the forward 50 shortly after. His stoppage work was again, a standout. He amassed 19 possessions and was able to kick an eye-catching goal on the run, after receiving a handball from Jack Mahony. Stocker’s day was finished early, with the midfield icing his shoulder on the bench late in the final term.

#23 Angus Hanrahan

Hanrahan did his best to provide some run and carry on the outside of the contest. He displayed good vision with ball in hand when he delivered a risky kick to a teammate in the middle of the ground, that paid off. He hit the scoreboard late in the fourth with a running goal from 50 metres out, contributing to the Dragons dominant last quarter.

#27 Jack Mahony

Mahony was influential throughout the four quarters, with the majority of his game time shared between the midfield and forward line. His class and composure with ball in hand was handy for the Dragons, with the bottom-age midfielder lowering the eyes to hit shorter targets with ease. He was dangerous inside the 50, booting one goal and setting up a handful of others. He was the equal highest ball-winner on the ground with 25 touches.

#28 James Rendell

Rendell shared ruck duties with fellow big man, Will Kennedy. He competed hard all day and he was able to win some important hit-outs to advantage. His third quarter was his best, winning plenty of centre clearances, along with kicking a crucial goal that gave his team a healthy three-goal lead late in the term. Rendell ended the match with 20 disposals and 19 hitouts.

#29 Ben King

King was involved in the first passage of play of the day, with the athletic forward immediately finding himself on the scoresheet, after taking a contested mark from a Liam Stocker pass. King had many opponents throughout the day and he proved to be very difficult to stop. His sticky hands and ability to mark the ball at its highest point was a highlight. King ended up with five goals for the day but could have nailed more if he had of kicked straight.

#74 Harry Reynolds

Reynolds started across the half-back line and occasionally through the midfield, impressing with his composure with ball in hand. He found plenty of the footy and used it very well. He rebounded effectively out of the defensive 50, providing some run and carry for his team. Reynolds coped a head knock after a powerful sling tackle from an opposition player but he appeared to be fine, getting to his feet moments later.  He finished with 18 disposals.

 

Murray:

By: Ed Pascoe

#5 Ely Smith

Ely Smith was a workhorse in the midfield for Murray, winning plenty of contested ball and bursting from clearances. Smith worked tirelessly throughout the day not just in the contest but so too on the outside. He ran hard to be an option and was often burnt by his teammates, but yet he still worked continuously hard to make space. His attack on the ball was a highlight with one play in the first quarter where he showcased his physical presence at the contest and kicking long to teammate Hudson Garoni inside 50. Smith’s hands at the stoppages where clean, often bursting away and firing off a handball to running teammates. Smith finished with 20 disposals, six marks and six inside 50s. 

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen had a quiet game starting forward and working hard to be a lead up option. He took a nice mark at half back showing his work rate to get up the ground and he displayed his good foot skills with a nice quick pass down the line. He was moved to defence in the third quarter moping up a few loose balls. Barzen finished with 13 disposals. 

 #9 Mathew Walker 

Walker was a workhorse through the midfield often going in hard. He had a good clearance in the first quarter which included a great fend off. He had a few chances to convert goals but sprayed a few. One a running shot in the first quarter, in the third quarter he had a good intercept mark before quickly playing on and blazing away at goal and missing. Walker’s kicking was at its best when he lowered his eyes with nice short passes but he often blazed away going inside 50. Walker finished with 14 disposals, six inside 50s and three behinds. 

 #18 Hudson Garoni

Garoni was the main avenue to goal for Murray, he finished the game with a team high three goals. With two coming from set shots and one over the top in the last quarter. Garoni took some nice marks early in the game showcasing his strong hands and ability to read the flight of the ball. He took a nice lead up mark where he kicked a goal from 50m and another strong mark in that first quarter which would only lead to a behind.  Garoni finished with 13 disposals, six marks and three goals. 

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

THE weekend is set for four huge games, with no turning back for the eight sides running out on Ikon Park in the elimination finals this weekend. Here is a quick look at how the four games shape up.

Dandenong Stingrays vs Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Saturday, September 8, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels face their most daunting challenge yet as they come up against the Dandenong Stingrays in the first round of finals at Ikon Park. GWV faced the Northern Knights the week prior and won comprehensively, but unfortunately the Stingrays are a much different beast. With 15 wins and a single loss, Dandenong sit three wins ahead of second place (Gippsland Power) and boasts 17 Combine invites compared to the Rebels’ four. Dandenong bolter Sam Sturt has been the talk of the town lately, with every club interested in the forward, while Zac Foot, Bailey Williams and Will Hamill are among some of the names who loom as big players in the finals series. The last time the pair faced in Round 10, the Rebels copped a 59-point loss at the hands of the significantly undermanned Stingrays as they had many players competing in the National Championships. While at neutral territory this time, the Rebels face a complete Stingrays side. If they win, it will be arguably the upset of the season, so it is important for GWV’s talent to embrace the challenge.

Jed Hill had a strong showing against the Knights last week, kicking two goals and again proving useful by foot. Riley Ranieri rebounded well and earned the contested ball, with Matt Schnerring getting plenty of the pill and Matty Lloyd caressing the ball well along the wing. Lloyd, along with Scott Carlin and Harrison Butler, all put two each on the board, while Patrick Glanford and Darcy McEldrew both did well in the ruck. Dandenong’s boys are well and truly rested as Riley Bowman returns to the side for Bailey Schmidt. The Stingrays look to add a perfect finals run to an amazing year of footy and take home their first premiership ever.

 

Gippsland Power vs Geelong Falcons

Saturday, September 8, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The last time they faced, the Falcons were severely let down by their accuracy in front of goal, kicking three goals from 16 shots. Comparatively, the Power kicked 10 goals from their 15 shots, having seven goalkickers compared to two. It was not the Falcon’s finest game, but Saturday is a new day, and this time they have Connor Idun, Charlie Sprague, Oscar Brownless, Ned McHenry and possible number on pick, Sam Walsh. In the Wildcard Roound, the Falcons only just snared a victory from the Calder Cannons, coming back from an 11-point deficit at three quarter time to win by a point. While this game could go either way, the Power finished second on the table for a reason. If Cooper Stephens and Walsh can maintain their form from last week, the Power are bound to have some trouble.

The Power will be looking for Xavier Duursma to have a significant impact, racking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three August games, and placing high in the Morrish Medal vote count. The Gippsland Power captain is one of many players looking to cement a future in the AFL and can do so by helping eliminate the Falcons from the finals race. McHenry and Brownless impressed with their two goals against the Cannons last week but could have some trouble going shot for shot with Noah Gown, who kicked four in his last game and placed fourth for the home and away season in goals. Sam Flanders also poses a threat up forward coming in at eleventh in the overall goal kicking tally.The Power will have their work cut out against this full-strength Falcons side, with no telling how it will go down. It is a game to watch.

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs Western Jets

Sunday, September 9, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Not much separates the Oakleigh Chargers and the Western Jets, sitting a single win apart at the end of the home and away season. In terms of form, the Chargers emerged as a genuine premiership contender in the final couple of rounds, while the Jets will need to be at their best here to challenge them. In the Wildcard round last week, the Jets had some issues dealing with the Eastern Ranges’ first half onslaught. While managing to lift in the second half to secure a 38-point win, the Jets will not be able to get away with those standards against the Chargers.

Pivotal in their success were Xavier O’Halloran and Connor Thar who combined well in the midfielder, with Thar earning best on ground honours. Emerson Jeka kicked three while Stefan Radovanovic remained a pillar in the backline. While the Jets took the win (19 points) the last time they faced the Chargers, the team they faced were not a complete Oakleigh side, playing without the likes of Will Golds, Will Kelly and James Rowbottom. The difference is evident since Round 15.  In Round 16, the Chargers defeated GWV Rebels by 90 points, giving them their largest winning margin all season. Oakleigh will be looking for a huge performance from Riley Collier-Dawkins if he aims to increase his stock come draft night. Similarly, O’Halloran will need to bring his best if the Jets are to get up. Potential first-rounder, Isaac Quaynor is also pegged to have a big game for the Chargers with a strong month leading into finals. Chargers are tipped to win, but the Jets are still a chance to surprise a few people.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs Murray Bushrangers

Sunday, September 9, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Unlucky not to land a top four spot, the Murray Bushrangers made short work of the Bendigo Pioneers over the weekend to move on to the Elimination Finals and face the Sandringham Dragons. Both teams have not been in their best form these last few rounds, with the Bushrangers losing their last three during the home and away season, and the Dragons losing their final two. Unlike the Dragons though, the Bushrangers are coming into this game with a win, simply outclassing their opposition at Ikon Park.

Ely Smith’s clearance and contest work was at his usual standard, mopping up the footy off the hit outs and breaking lines with booming kicks. Mathew Walker’s pressure was well over standard as well, laying nine tackles. The test they face is whether they can minimise Liam Stocker’s impact for the Dragons. The Dragons’ Morrish Medal winner stands to make a big statement, playing to earn a finals appearance and a possible top 10 pick in the National Draft. His work on the inside has been his biggest highlight for the month, stepping up in Bailey Smith’s absence. Ben King, returning in Round 15, is also set to make waves and prove himself as a potential number one pick. The last time they faced, the Bushrangers claimed a 65-point win, with Hudson Garoni kicking eight. The Bushrangers forward was kept goalless last week so could be ready to prove himself come the weekend. The Dragons are still favourites to take the win and eliminate the Bushrangers from the race, but it will be a hotly contested match.

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2018

IN one of the most recognisable draft crops in some time, the 2018 AFL National Draft is heating up to be one of the most talked about in the lead-up with so many tall and small prospects who are already looking like genuine AFL stars. As with last year, on the first Monday of the month, we take a look at the top 20 prospects and where we see them throughout the season. Some will rise and drop depending on performances, while others will remain steady throughout. Keep in mind that the Power Rankings are an opinion-based ranking system, without taking into account AFL club finishing positions or needs – ie. not a Phantom Draft. It is purely measuring players on our opinion of their ability. Without further ado, here are our current top 30:

August rank: #1

Lukosius started the season as the consensus number one after jumping on the scene as a 17-year-old for WWT Eagles in the SANFL Preliminary Final, booting four goals and clunking eight marks on his League debut. He has continued his form into this season, booting seven goals from five matches, including an 18-disposal, 11-mark and three-goal game against Glenelg. He also showed his versatility collecting 25 disposals, 14 marks and six inside 50s from centre-half back in a South Australia Under 18 trial match at the beginning of the year. For the AFL Academy he was utilised at both ends, looking most at home as a forward, finishing the match with 12 disposals and two goals. The thing that separates Lukosius from other talls is his foot skills, where you could argue he is one of the best kicks in the entire draft pool, hitting targets at ease off his right foot around the ground. A genuine franchise player.

Past month:

Lukosius was named best on ground for Henley High in the School Championships final, when he and Izak Rankine lead the way to defeat reigning premiers, Prince Alfred College. He has continued averaging 14 disposals per game in the past month at SANFL League level, and while he has not been dominating games, he has still been a key contributor to the Eagles’ outfit.

 

August rank: #2

The best midfielder in the 2018 AFL Draft pool has started the season exceptionally well at TAC Cup level. Walsh’s smarts help him around the ground and it is very hard to keep him quiet or out of a game. Against the North Melbourne VFL team, Walsh had 22 disposals, nine marks and four clearances, working through the midfield and booting the opening goal of the game. His spread on the outside is good and he has shown he can win the footy in both contested and uncontested situations. He leads from the front and is probably the safest player in this draft pool for a club to draft. The knock was his disposal at full speed last season, but he is as consistent as they come across all areas.

Past month:

Walsh is just a complete midfielder and continues kicking on, having 37 disposals and booting two goals in Geelong Falcons’ last round win over Calder Cannons, before a more focused effort by the Cannons on the weekend saw him with the more limited 26 disposals, but spent more time on the inside with five clearances and seven tackles. He is really giving Lukosius a run for his money in these Power Rankings, and could be a photo finish.

 

August rank: #5

Probably the most exciting prospect in the 2018 AFL Draft pool, Rankine can do some special things that a majority of others cannot. He is a lively forward who can push into the midfield and win his own footy, with his agility a key trait. Rankine was so good in last year’s NAB AFL Under 17 All Stars match that they made him switch teams at half-time! He missed the opening few weeks through suspension, but has since returned back to SANFL League footy with West Adelaide, booting four goals from 12 disposals. At this stage he is more of a forward/midfielder than a pure midfielder – and it will be interesting to see how he goes throughout the year, working on his craft with more midfield time for the South Australian side in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Past month:

Since he starred at the National Under 18 Championships, Rankine has returned to the SANFL where he has put together a really strong month of football. He has lifted his disposal rate in the League competition, and in the final round of the regular season, booted three goals from 20 touches and 11 marks in an impressive display. Has gone from a talent with inconsistent form, to a genuine four-quarter player and everyone is hoping he keeps it up.

 

 

August rank: #4

The tall forward is one of the best tall prospects we have seen in recent years and is most certainly in the mix as a top five pick, despite the fact that King will not play another game this season. After booting a few goals in the opening quarter for Haileybury College at school football, King’s knee buckled from underneath him in the second quarter and he was stretchered off. Scans later confirmed that the talented forward suffered a torn ACL. Nevertheless, King is a superb prospect who is outstanding in the air (thanks to a big wingspan) and a goal-kicking option, having booted 8.5 against Oakleigh Chargers earlier in the TAC Cup last month. A real strength of King’s is his ability to collect the ball when it hits the ground, with a strong recovery helping the 201cm tall. While some say he could slip down the order due to injury, he won’t be falling outside the top 10, or even maybe the top five due to his impressive skill set.

Past month:

Recovering from an ACL injury which will see him miss the rest of the 2018 season.

 

August rank: #3

Ben King has started the season very well, used at both ends at all levels. While Ben is a natural key defender, he has shown at school level that he can be a valuable forward, booting 18 goals in the first two school games. Like brother Max, he is very mobile and has an outstanding leap. He recovers very well when the ball hits the ground and when he flies to mark or spoil the ball and the footy falls to ground. Is one of the best tall defenders and competes exceptionally well. Reckon we might see him more as a forward as the season goes, could become a genuine ‘swingman’ if he isn’t already. After a good AFL Academy game, Ben King won the Melbourne Cricket Club’s President’s Medal as the best player.

Past month:

King dominated the APS football competition, booting regular bags of goals for Haileybury as they went on to defend their title. He has come back to TAC Cup and managed just the two goals in the final two matches, but in fairness it has been tough in the forward 50 with the Dragons facing arguably the two best sides in the competition. The finals series will determine where he lands in the draft order, but cannot see him slipping outside the top six.

 

August rank: #6

Bailey Smith had a great finish to the 2017 season which saw him elevated to the NAB AFL Academy Level Two group. Smith played mostly across half back last year, but did show his ball winning capabilities on the inside for Xavier College and the Dragons, including a huge 44 disposals (22 contested) at 72 per cent efficiency, 13 inside 50s, 10 clearances, six marks and four rebound 50s match against Western. The Dragons 2018 captain is a strong leader and has really transitioned into an inside ball winning midfielder, having collected 37 disposals (22 contested) in the opening match of the season this year. In his most recent outing for the Dragons against the Jets, Smith had 28 disposals, 11 clearances and booted two goals, where he used his quick and clean hands to effectiveness on the inside. The right footer is a capable target around the ground and runs very well.

Past month:

Smith has not been able to get on the park lately due to an achilles injury, and Sandringham is sorely missing him as another inside body to help Liam Stocker at the stoppages. Just the two TAC Cup matches this season, but he made them count with two huge games.

 

August rank: #7

Up until this time last week, Blakey had multiple options as the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player John. Blakey also fell into the Sydney Swans Academy, while he could have opted for the open draft. However – Blakey has made a decision to stick with the Sydney Swans Academy and the Swans are going to get a ‘goodie’. Blakey is a natural forward with a good goal sense and marks well overhead. He glides around the ground and can play in defence if required, while there is midfield potential should some of his coaches see fit. Blakey has dominated in the AFL Under 18 Academy Series against some average opposition, but he booted an exceptional goal off a few steps in the AFL Academy match against North Melbourne’s VFL side. While injuries kept him out of a lot of football last year, expect Blakey to warrant an early bid inside the top 10 at this stage.

Past month:

Has been out of action due to injury and will miss the rest of the season.

 

August rank: #8

Jackson Hately is one of the few pure inside midfielders in the top half of the rankings list. While he still has some size to put on, the 192cm midfielder is strong in the contest, where he can win the contested ball, tackle hard and win clearances. Hately can also hit the scoreboard when required. The Central Districts product has had a taste of SANFL League footy, recording 21 disposals and seven tackles against Glenelg a few weeks ago. Hately was one of the standouts for the AFL Academy in their match against the North Melbourne VFL side, where he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and kicked two goals.

Past month:

Hately had a quieter end to the month of August, having just the 13 disposals, but still taking nine marks. He showed he still has the capability to win the football at senior level, amassing 22 and 18 disposals in the earlier two games, but his spread and ability to be that player who kicks inside 50 and hits up a leading forward is still growing.

 

August rank: #9

Thomas is a really exciting player whose glimpses over the last few years suggest he is going to be a special player in the future. The Tasmanian falls into North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy and therefore the Kangaroos will have first dibs on Thomas who will likely command a first round bid. Thomas is an outside midfielder who has a good burst of speed and agility, using it well off his right foot. He can also push forward and hit the scoreboard. One of the cleanest players in the draft crop, Thomas is a one-touch player and turns an inch into a mile.

Past month:

Thomas will have a break this weekend after his North Launceston side automatically earned a spot in the Tasmanian State League (TSL) Grand Final. They knocked off Glenorchy with Thomas named in the best and booting a goal. Some rumours floating around that he will slide, but we are confident he is still a quality talent and a clear first round prospect.

 

August rank: #11

Rozee is another of South Australia’s top draft prospects and in recent weeks has pushed into the SANFL League side for North Adelaide. The midfielder has smarts around the ground, getting into the right positions and has shown his capabilities to run hard. He rarely wastes a disposal and moves well in and around the stoppages. While he has spent some time playing as a half forward in recent times, he will likely end up as a pure midfielder with his strong skill set. Rozee has made his SANFL League debut, booting two goals in both appearances in the last fortnight. Rozee played all four games as a bottom-ager for South Australia in the 2017 Under 18 Championships, averaging 14 disposals and seven tackles.

Past month:

Despite his light frame he continues to use his precise kicking skills at League level in the SANFL. He is a low possession but high-impact player, mostly playing up forward. Rozee had just the eight touches in the final round of the regular season, but had four inside 50s, showing he makes the most of each disposal. Long-term he is that player you just want the ball in his hands.

 

August rank: #10

Ian “Bobby” Hill is an exciting small forward similar to Rankine in the way that he can make recruiters and fans go “wow” at certain moments. While at this stage, he is far from the finished product – he has produced plenty of glimpses that suggest he’ll be a strong player for the future. He has superb speed and agility, while his goal sense is outstanding. So far in the WAFL Colts for Perth he has been very good – having overcome a concussion earlier in the season. Hill is Western Australia’s best draft prospect and the second cousin of Fremantle pair Brad and Stephen Hill.

Past month:

Since a 25-disposal, three-goal game in the Colts in Round 16, Hill has played two Reserves games, averaging the 10.5 disposals and having booted three behinds. He is more of an exciting long-term prospect and it showed against the bigger bodies. Still one that will be exciting to develop over the years.

 

August rank: #12

The red-haired Williams burst onto the scene last year with some eye-catching displays for the Dandenong Stingrays, while he was also able to represent the Vic Country Under 18 team as a bottom-ager, where he mostly played in the ruck. While Williams is a strong ruck, he is probably a better forward at the moment – in the mould of Gold Coast’s 2014 draftee Peter Wright. Williams has an outstanding leap and is a capable set shot for goal and booted a stunning bag of seven against the Western Jets in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup.

Past month:

Williams has had a quiet past fortnight, but started the month strongly with a 17-disposal, nine-mark and two-goal game. He was rewarded for his impressive season with a place in the TAC Cup Team of the Year. Plays predominantly forward, but can move through the ruck and still have an impact.

 

August rank: #13

Stocker is a player who could definitely find himself as a first round prospect by November. Stocker is a strong midfielder who wins the football on the inside and spreads well from the stoppages. His clearance work is very good, while he can play on the outside where he can use the ball very well off either his right or left foot. Stocker will have the entire season at TAC Cup level, having finished school at Haileybury College in 2017.

Past month:

Stocker capped off his fantastic season with the 2018 Morrish Medal. He has been enormous on the inside in Bailey Smith’s absence, and has continually put his body on the line time and time again. Does not do too much wrong and has well and truly held his place in this spot with another 30-plus disposal game a couple of weeks ago and will be needed when the Dragons tackle the Murray Bushrangers in the elimination final.

 

August rank: #15

The Gippsland Power captain is one of those players that in his bottom-age year looked like an outside midfielder, but won the majority of his possessions on the inside. In 2018, it has balanced out for him to impact on the outside and he is strong through the core despite being one of the lightest midfielders out there. He is a transition player who can give-and-go and can get forward and impact on the scoreboard. The biggest thing with Duursma is he has not got an obvious weakness, and while he does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders in the top end, he has both top skill and the ability to gain meterage with each disposal.

Past month:

Has not slowed down this season, picking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three games during August to continue leading the Gippsland Power from his on-field actions. Was one of the top placegetters in the Morrish Medal and has spent more time on the inside in the second half of the season, winning his own ball then spreading to the outside and creating good run in transition. Just keeps rising.

 

August rank: #20

An inside midfielder with lightning hands, West has the ability to impact in close or in the air. He has a vice-like grip and is one of the best contested marks of the midfielders in the competition. Rarely beaten one-on-one, West’s next step is just working on doing the fundamentals perfectly as there have been times where he can over-use the football or overcomplicate a situation. No doubt Western Bulldogs fans will keep a close eye on him.

Past month:

One who ultra impressed me over the last few weeks, West is a player who I think has settled into first round discussions. His midfield work is solid, and while he is smaller compared to most inside midfielders, it is his clean hands and ability to read the ball off a ruck tap and seamlessly move through a stoppage. He has done it multiple times in the forward half resulting in goals, and it is just his field kicking at times that needs cleaning up, but overall he is coming together nicely at the right time of the year.

 

July rank: #25

A classy midfielder who can also hit the scoreboard, Jones has been going about his business very nicely. The Tasmanian was overshadowed by the efforts of top 10 pick Tarryn Thomas at the Under 18 Academy Series, but his ability to win clearances and burn off his opponents is eye-catching. He often gets forward and hurts opposition teams on the scoreboard, and is always dangerous at ground level. Just the 180cm, but is versatile and slot in anywhere.

Past month: 

Despite a lower impact game in his final match of the season in the Tasmanian State League (TSL), Jones has been Launceston’s best since his return from National Under 18 Championships. He is great at the stoppages and impacts the scoreboard as well. One of the best kicks available, his height like others can worry clubs, but he has the outside capabilities that means he can overcome any concerns.

 

August rank: #24

Collingwood fans would be excited to see a Next Generation Academy Member come through the ranks next season. The AFL Academy defender is a run-and-carry player and despite being just 179cm, plays much taller and has even opposed key position players before. Expect him to develop into a medium tall defender, and with no second round pick following acquisition of Sam Murray last off-season, the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid given it will come after their first round selection.

Past month:

Quaynor is a player who you cannot help but put up high on your draft boards when you see all the little things he does right. His footy IQ and ability to intercept through reading a situation perfectly, is top notch. Remarkably despite his height, he is strong one-on-one in both the air and at ground level. He has played on 200cm players such is his ability to cover height, and no doubt Pies fans will look forward to him running off half-back for them. They will also be quietly hoping he does not rise too much more pre-draft.

 

August rank: #16

McHenry’s super 2017 season saw him elevated to the National AFL Under 18 Academy Level Two squad and is a player that gives his all in every game. Despite his light frame, McHenry starts at the centre bounce and can win the contested football. The Falcons midfielder is a great character and you really need to check out his work on the Geelong Falcons Facebook page and watch the ‘Ned’s Falcons files’ videos. McHenry impressed in the National AFL Under 18 Championships for Vic Country last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 18 disposals at 75 per cent efficiency and laying 5.5 tackles.

Past month:

Just as it looked like McHenry’s overall production had dropped, he put in a best on ground performance against Calder Cannons in the do-or-die Wildcard Round on the weekend. While he only had the 20 touches, he was superb around the ground, booting a couple of goals and laying six tackles. He stood up when the Falcons needed a player to do so, and like so many others in the first round, he might lack height, but not ability, nor talent and he might finish in the second round, but boy he has the talent of a first rounder.

 

August rank: #18

The lightly-built outside midfielder who spends a lot of time forward, is a little on the small side, but plays taller than his 178cm. He has that touch of class that shines through when he wins the football, and his first few steps are lightning. Butters spreads well across the ground and can win the ball on the wing and be on the receiving end of a pass inside 50 moments later.

Past month:

Has been on ice after shoulder surgery in July. Still an unbelievable talent that has serious X-factor.

 

August rank: #17

Based on potential – Collier-Dawkins could well be a first round prospect come later in the season. He still has some work to do in order to reach this level, but the signs early in the season are very good. Collier-Dawkins was very good in the #57 last year as a bottom-ager for the Oakleigh Chargers winning the ball as a hybrid midfielder, and ‘RCD’ has had a big growth spurt over recent years, seeing him jump to 193cm (and growing!). Collier-Dawkins looks most at home as an inside midfielder – using his clean and quick hands to effectiveness, but has played on the outside at times this year, including the Vic Metro trial game where he recorded 13 disposals and four marks.

Past month:

Shows glimpses every week and is one of the hardest to judge. On production he is a second rounder, but on scope he is a first rounder. Needs to close the gap between his top and bottom games, but that burst out of a stoppage and long, penetrating kick will have plenty of recruiters, interested.

 

August rank: #21

An inside midfielder at TAC Cup level, his consistent form this season is as good as anyone in the competition. He lead the Western Jets in style with his contested work, acceleration and clearance ability among his top strengths. His leadership was recognised at state level, earning the Vic Metro captaincy over fellow captain Bailey Smith.

Past month:

Has rotated between midfield and forward lately, being that player used on the outside to pump the ball inside 50, or the one to extract a ball out of a stoppage. Had 10 inside 50s with his 20 plus disposals a fortnight ago. Does his job each week and is one that will need to have a big game if Western are to upset Oakleigh this weekend. TAC Cup Team of the Year honours too.

 

August rank: #14

Taylor might be earlier than many others have him – it is based on the potential that the Calder Cannons product has. Taylor has plenty of X-factor, which he showed in past years at school football for PEGS, playing alongside top draftees Cameron Rayner and Daniel Venables. Taylor at this stage is far more comfortable across half forward than as an inside midfielder, but has plenty of opportunities across the year to improve his midfield calibre. He has a good skill set and can mark well overhead.

Past month:

After quiet games against Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons to finish the regular season, Taylor had a much improved effort against the Falcons in the first half of the Wildcard Round clash. He fired early with two goals and has that serious X-factor, but it’s that four-quarter effort that has the question mark over him. Has huge upside however.

 

August rank: #27

The virtually unknown West Australian defender has bolted up the rankings in draft calculations following an impressive National Under 18 Championships. He was very good at GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country, and then dominated at Etihad Stadium against the Allies. Clark has fantastic foot skills, good agility and thinks his way through situations. Has not had a huge WAFL Colts season, but since the National Championships he has turned it on at Reserves level. One to watch.

Past month:

Remarkably Clark is one player who maintains the same output despite going up to a higher quality level. He has matched it with senior bodies in the WAFL League, and now has a month of good production behind him. A member of the Elimination Final winning Claremont side, he averages almost six marks per game as a general in defence. Another player whose stocks are rising.

 

August rank: #30

He was a new August addition to the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, and McLennan is a player who caught the eye in the National Under 18 Championships with his composure and ability to read the ball in flight from half-back. One of the top defenders across the carnival, McLennan is a fantastic kick of the football and firming as another medium defender option in that second round. Last month he was one to watch, this month he is in the top 30.

Past month:

After making his League debut for Central District in July, he has strung together a month of football at the level. He had one breakout game where he had 17 disposals, nine marks and six tackles, however his other three he has averaged 8.25 disposals. His elite kicking has been on display in the back half, and similar to Rozee is a high impact per possession player.

 

August rank: #22

Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Grammar product Jye Caldwell is a good midfielder who has some strong tricks. Injury forced him off the ground early in the AFL Academy match against the North Melbourne VFL team, but he has returned to football and is one who showed some talent in the Under 18 Championships last year for Vic Country, averaging 18 disposals. Caldwell tackles well and can win both the contested and uncontested ball.

Past month:

Had a strong hit-out against the Western Jets and started promisingly with some electrifying skills on the weekend against Murray Bushrangers, before suffering a hamstring injury on the quarter time siren. Won’t hurt his overall draft chances, but it is unfortunate we were not treated to his sublime talent for longer periods of time.

 

August rank: #19

Foley is an overager who plays on the inside and can win a truckload of clearances, while laying some strong tackles. He has impressed for Subiaco in the WAFL Colts, and earned a place in the Black Swans side for the National Under 18s Championships. Consistent as any midfielder in the draft crop.

Past month:

Foley injured his quad in mid-July and has not played since, but is expected to return this weekend for Subiaco’s finals campaign.

 

August rank: N/A

The Collingwood father-son prospect continues to bolt up the order with a fantastic second half of the year, following on from the National Under 18 Championships. He can play both defensive and offensive roles, finding a good balance between playing one-on-one and running off his man. A good size with some development left in him in terms of size, Kelly will be a big bonus for Collingwood to assist in that defensive half of the ground. Can also play forward but his work in defence is considered far superior.

Past month:

Since returning from the National Under 18 Championships and school football, Kelly has put together a consistent block of football in the TAC Cup. He restricted Ben King to one goal in blustery conditions at Werribee, albeit in a match where Oakleigh strangled the life out of the Dragons. Then he showed off his versatility playing both one-on-one in defence, peeling off and then going forward and kicking two goals for the Chargers in their 15-goal rout of the GWV Rebels.

 

August rank: #23

The Norwood midfielder has a nice balance of skills and grunt, able to play on the inside or out and is set to play a pivotal role for South Australia at the National Championships. Valente was nominated captain of the Croweaters and his leadership shines through on the field. Known for his ball-winning abilities and clearance expertise, Valente is not overawed by bigger bodies and would be one player who is AFL ready from round one.

Past month:

Valente has not been able to get out on the park in the past month due to bone bruising in the knee. Still in contention for top 30, some top performances by others have seen him slip a little.

 

August rank: #28

The readymade ruck has had a breakout year in his top-age season, when most rucks are struggling for consistency. He won the GWS GIANTS Academy MVP, then took out the Allies MVP to go with it, in a team which also had top 10 picks Blakey and Thomas. While he is not an athletic ruck in the speed sense, he has an enormous tank and his second efforts and tackling are reminiscent of what Brodie Grundy produces on a regular basis – a tall that can impact a contest after the hitout.

Past month:

Briggs has played the three games in August for the UWS GIANTS, dominating in the ruck against Gold Coast Suns with 17 disposals, four marks, a whopping 59 hitouts and a goal, before respectfully losing the battle against AFL-listed Darcy Cameron in the GIANTS loss to Sydney. Briggs still had 33 hitouts to Cameron’s 53, while also laying eight tackles. While the GIANTS, and his season is over, he has finished the year in the best possible position and looks set to be a second round selection.

 

August rank: #29

While fellow Academy and father-son prospect Nick Blakey made his call earlier in the season, there is still a three-way tussle for Bailey Scott. The Gold Coast Academy utility also has North Melbourne and Geelong that will be after his services, and he has a big decision to make. He is strong, can play up either end or on the inside, while his kicking can still be cleaned up a little, he impacts the contest, leads by example and hurts teams on the scoreboard when up forward.

Past month:

Scott was just about the only shining light in the Gold Coast’s disastrous 91-point loss to Brisbane in the NEAFL on August 18. With the Suns season over, it was the last chance for Scott to impress, and he did just that, racking up an impressive 31 disposals, eight marks, two tackles and kicked a goal. His season has seen Scott awarded with the Academy Player of the Year.

 

Keep an eye out:

Riley Bowman (Vic Country)
Angus Hanrahan (Vic Metro)
Tom McKenzie (Vic Metro)
Toby Bedford (Vic Country)
Ely Smith (Vic Country)
Brayden Ham (Vic Country)
Sydney Stack (Western Australia)
Connor McFadyen (Allies)
Jacob Kennerley (South Australia)