Tag: Louis Cunningham

Sharp kickers shape up early

AS the saying goes, good kicking is good football. But exactly what is a good kick? Generally it is one that hits the target, but that can just be an effective kick. A damaging kick will influence a contest. As a general rule of thumb, the better kicks in the competition are usually outside players or defenders and the more contests they attack, generally the lower the kicking efficiency. To put it in a nutshell, the more pressure placed upon the kicker, the more difficult it is to hit a target.

While contested possessions are not divided up into kicks and handballs, today we look at which TAC Cup players excel with the ball, while also winning their fair share of contested possessions. For this analysis, we have placed the parameter as AT LEAST 40 effective kicks in the TAC Cup. We considered adding SANFL and WAFL players; however it is much fairer to compare players against others within the same competition. So for this we look at purely TAC Cup players and reveal the 32 players that have had at least 45 effective kicks this season.

Of the 32 players, nine of them have recorded a kicking efficiency of above 70 per cent. Then of those nine, five have also won more than 30 per cent of their possessions in a contest. These five players are: Ben Paton (Murray Bushrangers), Nicholas Coffield (Northern Knights), Callum Searle (Oakleigh Chargers), Riley Jones (Oakleigh Chargers) and Ari Sakeson (Sandringham Dragons). We have also included the percentage at which they have chosen to kick long effectively, which is deemed as a kick 40m or longer to a 50/50 contest or greater odds of winning the contest.

Of these five players we then compare the raw numbers to rank them on their performance by foot statistically. Please note: It is purely based on the statistics rather than opinion.

Nicholas Coffield (Northern Knights)

Games: 6
Effective kicks: 70
Kicking efficiency: 82.69%
Contested rate: 33.7%
Long kick rate: 50.8%

Ben Paton (Murray Bushrangers)

Games: 6
Effective kicks: 70
Kicking efficiency: 77.9%
Contested rate: 30.7%
Long kick rate: 54.3%

Riley Jones (Oakleigh Chargers)

Games: 6
Effective kicks: 51
Kicking efficiency: 78.3%
Contested rate: 44.7%
Long kick rate: 52.4%

Callum Searle (Oakleigh Chargers)

Games: 6
Effective kicks: 57
Kicking efficiency: 76.2%
Contested rate: 37.4%
Long kick rate: 51.3%

Ari Sakeson (Sandringham Dragons)

Games: 6
Effective kicks: 42
Kicking efficiency: 73.2%
Contested rate: 29%
Long kick rate: 22.2%

Top five players per stat:

Effective kicks:
1. Nicholas Coffield (Northern Knights) 70
1. Ben Paton (Murray Bushrangers) 70
3. Matty Lloyd (GWV Rebels) 68
4. Judah Dundon (Western Jets) 63
5. Jamison Shea (Northern Knights) 59

Kicking efficiency:
1. Nicholas Coffield (Northern Knights) 82.69%
2. Riley Jones (Oakleigh Chargers) 78.3%
3. Ben Paton (Murray Bushrangers) 77.9%
4. Callum Searle (Oakleigh Chargers) 76.2%
5. Jamison Shea (Northern Knights) 74.7%

Contested possession rate:
1. Callan Wellings (GWV Rebels) 55.2%
2. Cassidy Parish (Geelong Falcons) 50.2%
3. Callum Porter (Gippsland Power) 48.8%
4. Louis Cunningham (Oakleigh Chargers) 45.4%
5. Riley Jones (Oakleigh Chargers) 44.7%

Long kick rate:
1. Ethan Floyd (Geelong Falcons) 66.7%
2. Kane Farrell (Bendigo Pioneers) 62.3%
3. Callan Wellings (GWV Rebels) 59%
4. Will Stephenson (Gippsland Power) 55.8%
4. Nicholas Stuhldreier (Western Jets) 55.8%

The other players which were not listed in any of the top five statistics but still recorded 45 effective long kicks to this point in the TAC Cup season are as follows: Matt Harvey and Darby Henderson (Bendigo Pioneers), Jean-Luc Velissaris, Ben Caluzzi and Mitchell Podhajski (Calder Cannons), Josh Bateman, Mason De Wit and Ali Zijai (Dandenong Stingrays), Gryan Miers (Geelong Falcons), Aiden Domic (GWV Rebels), Angus Hicks (Murray Bushrangers), Toby Wooller and Jack Higgins (Oakleigh Chargers), and Quintin Montanaro and Max Lohan (Sandringham Dragons).

Weekend That Was – Round 6

A STERLING victory by Bendigo Pioneers over Sandringham Dragons has helped the Pioneers move within percentage of a top eight spot.

Bendigo led throughout the game, but it was a six goals to three third term which saw the Pioneers move 19 points clear, before holding on in a dour final term to win 11.13 (79) to 8.10 (58).

Darby Henderson led all comers with 35 disposals, eight marks, five clearances, six rebounds and three inside 50s, while Angus Schumacher (28 disposals, eight marks, four clearances, four inside 50s and five rebounds) and Matt Harvey (23 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s and two goals) were also impressive.

For the Dragons, Hamish Brayshaw had another big day across the ground with 32 disposals, four marks, five tackles, eight clearances, seven inside 50s and four rebounds. Fellow over-ager Ari Sakeson also racked up 30 disposals and 11 marks, while Quintin Montanaro had 25 disposals, nine marks, five inside 50s and kicked a goal.

TAC Cup scouting notes: Round Six

A strong third term by Oakleigh Chargers put their result beyond doubt against Greater Western Victoria Rebels. The Chargers booted six goals to zero in the premiership quarter to lead by 45 points at the final break, before holding up the Rebels with the breeze in the final term, to win 12.10 (82) to 6.6 (42).

Jack Higgins collected 28 disposals, four marks, four clearances and booted a goal, while Louis Cunningham continued his good form with 24 disposals (16 contested), 10 clearances, 10 tackles, five inside 50s and a goal playing further up the ground than his typical defensive role. Sam Harte had 27 disposals, four clearances and four inside 50s, while Jordan Troiani laid seven tackles to go with his 21 disposals, seven inside 50s and two goals.

For the Rebels, Callan Wellings laid nine tackles from 19 disposals in defeat, while Jordan Johnston (16 disposals, five marks and five clearances) and Matty Lloyd (16 disposals, eight tackles and nine rebounds) were also in the Rebels’ best.

Murray Bushrangers held off a determined Calder Cannons outfit during the Bushrangers’ 19-point win over the cellar dwellers. Leading by five goals at half-time, the Bushrangers had their work cut out for them in the third term as the Cannons booted six goals to two, clawing their way back to within 10 points. The Bushrangers steadied in the final term, booting 3.4 to 2.1 to win 10.17 (77) to 9.4 (58).

Harry Jones was busy once again with 26 disposals, four clearances, eight inside 50s and seven tackles, while Nick Richards (25 disposals, four marks and five tackles) and Ben Paton (19 disposals, four marks and five rebounds) were also important for the winners.

Mitch Podhajski (24 disposals, nine marks and seven rebounds) and Ben Caluzzi (22 disposals, six marks and seven rebounds) were prominent behind the ball, while Aidan Tilley took 12 marks (three contested) from 18 disposals playing in the defensive half. Top prospect Noah Balta had 13 disposals, 19 hitouts, three clearances and six inside 50s.

Eastern Ranges held on against a fast finishing Gippsland Power to record their second win over the season. Leading by 17 points at half-time, the Ranges had to battle tooth and nail in the second half as Gippsland booted six goals to four to come within two points at the final siren.

Sam Hayes’ draft stocks continued to rise with six goals and 18 hitouts for the Ranges with a best on ground performance by the big man. Others to impress were returning midfielders Dylan Moore and Trent Mynott who combined for a whopping 65 disposals, 19 clearances, 20 tackles, 10 inside 50s and two goals, while Thomas North and Jordan Lynch were also promising again.

For Gippsland, Will Stephenson continues to put his hand up into draft calculations with 25 disposals, seven clearances, six inside 50s, 12 tackles and two goals. Callum Porter was just as impressive with 25 disposals, three marks, seven clearances, eight inside 50s and 13 tackles, while Aiden Quigley had 21 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four tackles and a goal.

In another tight encounter, Northern Knights got up over Dandenong Stingrays by three points after an impressive final term. The Knights trailed by 15 points at the final break, but added 4.6 to Dandenong’s 2.0 to run over the top of the Stingrays 10.9 (69) to 9.12 (66).

Mitch Andrews had 33 disposals, 12 marks, seven rebounds and five tackles, while Jamison Shea (25 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s, four goals and 10 tackles) and Jack Petruccelle (20 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) were the Knights’ best. Nicholas Coffield booted the winning goal of the day, one of two from the Knights’ skipper, who also racked up 22 disposals and six marks.

PLAYER FOCUS: Nicholas Coffield

For Dandenong, Hunter Clark had a day out with 34 disposals (20 contested), four marks, 11 clearances, seven tackles, 10 inside 50s, five rebounds and a goal – but his efficiency by foot was poor. Over-ager Tom Murphy racked up 29 disposals, six clearances and seven inside 50s, while Tom De Koning booted three goals from 17 disposals.

In the other remaining game, top-of-the-table Geelong Falcons got the job done against Western Jets in a four-goal victory. They did not have it all their own way and only led by six points by the final break before kicking away with the only three goals of the last quarter to win 15.9 (99) to 11.9 (75).

Sam Walsh had 34 disposals (18 contested), eight clearances, eight inside 50s and six tackles, while James Worpel had his best game of the year with 32 disposals, five marks, 11 clearances, eight inside 50s, nine tackles and two goals. Bayley Cockerill also had 11 clearances and seven inside 50s from 30 disposals, while Gryan Miers booted four goals from 17 disposals.

For the Jets, Nicholas Stuhldreier continues to stand up with another 34 disposals (17 contested), six marks, seven clearances, seven tackles and four inside 50s. Jaden Rice had 27 disposals, eight clearances and 12 tackles, while Matthew Volkanovski had a dominant 40 hitouts from 11 disposals in the middle.

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 5

ROUND Four of the TAC Cup continued over the weekend and we had scouts watching four of the games over the weekend. Read their scouting notes below:

Eastern Ranges vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels (Peter Williams)

Eastern Ranges:

#2 Thomas North – Worked hard all day around the ground, found plenty of the football and showed good agility. Notched up the clearances and was a key reason Eastern was in the game early. Has a trademark turn where he spins around to change direction.

#7 Jordan Lynch – Really strong performance from the over-ager. He is tough as nails, but clean at ground level. Showed quick hands at the stoppage to handball under pressure. Was reliable with the ball and took a few marks backing into the contest and has a penetrating kick which he used to kick inside 50. Wasn’t afraid to aggravate the opposition with a hilarious trash talk to Jordan Johnston saying “That’s the worst head I’ve ever seen”.

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Kicked an early goal but then was largely unsighted in a quiet game for the AFL Academy member. Ended up playing full-back on Dale Cox in the final term and actually picked up the ball cleanly and bombed out of defensive 50 in a rare highlight. Not a game to remember for the talented utility who is one of many contesting for a top five pick.

#17 Cody Hirst – Good pace and showed it off with a clever snap for a goal on the run in the second half.

#19 Josiah Duncan – Finished the game with four goals and was clearly the Ranges’ most dangerous forward. Seemed to be good in the air, strong above his head and quick on the lead. A good size at 187cm and stood up when many others were quiet.

#26 Harrison Nolan – Was one of Eastern’s best in the first half rebounding many of the Rebels’ attacks. Then moved to the midfield in a surprise move in the third quarter and the Rebels dominated. Returned to defence and held it up, but was too late and showed what a crucial cog he is back there. Played a Ben Reid role with intercept marks and using his long, accurate kick to clear the danger in defensive 50.

GWV Rebels:

#1 Dale Cox – Still got a lot of improvement to be in consideration, but built a bit in the second half. Provides good pressure on the ball carrier and is super clean with his pickups – just grabbed a ball off the wet deck with one hand – just needs to do more for longer.

#2 Cal Wellings – A typical Wellings performance. Just good across the ground, booted four goals and lifted his team. One of the unluckiest players not to be drafted last season and he would be leading many of the over-agers this year. His kicking seems to have improved a bit and showed a bit of penetration throughout the game. Copped a few knocks and just kept getting up. A lionheart performer.

#3 Scott Carlin – A clean player who runs off half-back. Doesn’t panic and can change his kick midway through his action. Didn’t see too much penetration on his kicking, but uses it well enough even if his disposals are mostly short.

#4 Aiden Domic – Not one of his better games. Seemed a bit off and was not that clean at ground level. Still found a fair bit of the ball and got into space, but wasn’t as classy as usual. Not sure if he was under the weather but that was what it looked like. Will no doubt learn from the game and be better for the run.

#8 Aaron Shepherd – I don’t get excited about players off a game, but boy did this kid excite me. Reminded me of Josh Begley last season the way he led at the ball, had Velcro mits and clunked a series of marks. Was able to kick a goal from outside 50 off a couple of steps and constantly provide an option. He’s earned his way onto my watch list this season.

#10 Jordan Johnston – It seemed like today was the day that “JJ” finally came of age. I thought he had potential last season and would show it in bursts, but Saturday’s game it came to the fore. Six goals and just a dominant performance in the air and at ground level. His opponents were constantly wary of him and he nailed all his set shots. Just a great run-up, he is one I hope builds on this and goes on with it because he’s been threatening to break out for some time. Think Jamie Elliot, that’s the excitement he provides.

#13 Thomas Berry – This kid is a serious talent. Just gives the don’t argues and the fend-offs like players and specky bags. He wins plenty of his own ball, both inside and out, and has a penetrating kick. Brother of Jarrod, I think he could be even better and was one of the Rebels’ best with Wellings in the midfield. Had a lot of intercept possessions too and owned a wing on the day.

#15 Trent Reed – Another workman like performance from Reed. Continually pushes to each contest, gets knocked down and gets up again, always presenting and has quick hands. Had a chance to kick a goal but it fell short and that’s the area I’d like to see him improve on, become a more damaging player forward of centre and impact the scoreboard like a Cal Wellings.

#23 Lloyd Meek – A genuine chance to be drafted as an over-ager. Meek is strong in the ruck and presents an option up forward. He works hard and constantly provides second and third efforts. His biggest plus is his awareness around the stoppage where he seems to find his midfielders and one example was grabbing the ball out of the ruck, turning around and handballing to a running Jed Hill who sped off, which showed his awareness and vision.

#24 Matty Lloyd – Clean defender who is tasked with the kick-in duties. Always loves a good play on to get the ball out of the defensive 50 – and picking up a kick in the process – but has the license to do so as he does have penetration on his kicking and will hit his target more often than not. The next step for me is to see how he goes in contested situations as there were a couple where he might have rushed his disposal a little bit. But in terms of courage and ability to position himself in an area where he can find the footy from a quick kick forward by the opposition, Lloyd gets a tick from me.

#25 Charlie Wilson – Bottom-ager who has that class around goals. Kicked a couple of snap goals and a set shot goal and did his job. One to watch over the next 18 months and while he didn’t find it as much as others, was mostly forward and just clean in that forward 50.


Oakleigh Chargers vs. Geelong Falcons (Peter Williams)

Oakleigh Chargers:

#5 Callum Searle – Racked up the football across half-back and through the midfield, mostly uncontested but was a key player behind the ball rebounding for the Chargets along with Louis Cunningham. Had one bad passage where he turned it over straight to the Falcons from deep inside defensive 50 which resulted in a goal. Was largely tasked with kick out duties.

#8 Toby Wooller – Really good movement for a bigger bloke and presents up that high half-forward. Didn’t get as much as his 22-possession game, but will be a prospect watched over the course of the season. It was impressive to see him work hard at the stoppages, winning a few clearances rather than as a deep forward at times.

#13 Daniel Stanford – A key target for the Chargers and that medium size 189cm who plays taller. He missed a couple of set shots but kicked a third in a busy opening term. Stanford showed impressive positioning and use of the body, bringing the ball down in front if he didn’t mark it.

#19 Jordan Troani – Busy as a bee around goals. Showed versatility in his ability to lead and mark or snap, with a couple of impressive goals throughout the day, including a first quarter highlight tight against the boundary line with only a split second to kick.

#35 Jack Higgins – Found plenty of the football but did have a tendancy to get on his right foot. Had plenty of attention from opposition players and to his credit got back up each time. Always busy darting from contest to contest, looking for the quick handball to a teammate out the back to clear the stoppage.

#39 Atu Bosemvulagi – A bottom-age player who showed plenty of signs to say he might be one to watch over the next 18 months, with good body use one-on-one and movement, as well as a strong pack mark. It was hard to believe he measures in at 178cm.

#42 Louis Cunningham – Thought he was unlucky not to get drafted last season and he looks to still have the attributes this season with a piecing left foot kick that can travel the distance. He also has good agility and vision, positioning himself well behind the ball and is one who could be used to break down zones at AFL level.

#57 Riley Collier-Dawkins – A player who I hadn’t seen before the game, but was super in the middle. Started the day standing next to Cassidy Parish and won the ball in the centre of the ground. His first quarter was very good and I’m looking to see the bottom ager as the season progresses.

Geelong Falcons: 

#1 Lachlan Noble – Plays a small forward’s role to a tee with his defensive pressure, courage and able to kick goals.

#7 Harry Benson – A really fierce tackler with a long boot. Kicked a good goal after winning a holding-the-ball free kick, showed strength with a fend-off tackle and was busy between the arcs.

#13 Ethan Floyd – Showed some precise kicking skills with confidence in the defensive half and was sensible with his ball use under pressure. Is an attack first, defend second defender, showing plenty of dash.

#38 James Worpel – Worked into the game and is usually found right at the coal face shovelling the ball out to teammates by hand. Worpel showed good lateral movement.

#40 Hayden Elliot – Appeared to be more involved than in his top-age year and gets around the ground. Played in defence and took some good marks.

#42 Cassidy Parish – Another impressive game by the big bodied inside midfielder. Just has the ball on a string, strong around the contest and gets his arms free from the tackler to handball. His kicking is one area that is always pointed out as an improvement, but he has good athleticism and a quick closing speed when going to tackle.

#44 Jordon Reid – Liked his game where he played in the forward 50 continually presenting as a target. Reid crashed packs and brought the ball to ground even if he didn’t mark them all the time.

#46 Adam Garner – Imposing forward at 194cm/93kg and took some great grabs. Finished off his hard work in front of the big sticks and will be one to watch throughout the season.


Dandenong Stingrays vs. Calder Cannons (Brandon Hutchinson)

Dandenong Stingrays: 

#2 Hunter Clark – The hands on this boy would make you think he’s a magician; managing to get to a contest seemingly out of nowhere. He played a quieter game than what we are used to but a solid one nonetheless. The Cannons drew him deep in the first half and he was often isolated away from the play. Clark took plenty of strong grabs in the second half, helping to keep the Cannons back after they began to show a bit of fight. The youngster ejected the footy with ease, creating strong runs along the flanks for plenty scoring opportunities.

#3 Jamie Plumridge –  ­This kid had no trouble at all ending his first quarter with a goal. His handling of the ball and the way he moves through his opposition is astounding. He effectively moved the ball through the middle, presenting no problem and zig-zagging his opponents. This young man was one of the best on ground, helping to keep the Dandenong’s midfield a well-oiled machine.

#42 Jai Nanscawen – Coming out strong in the first quarter, Nanscawen proved to be someone to hit up in the Dandenong forward line. He presented plenty of strong leads, ending up with two goals by the end of the match.

#50 Riley D’Arcy – This big fella had an excellent first half, cracking in the first few goals, ending the second quarter with four under his belt. His presence in the forward line demanded the ball, muscling out his opponents with ease. His kicking remained sharp up until the beginning of the third where D’Arcy punted through three consecutive behinds. The Cannons’ pressure kept his disposals thin for a while, but he managed to play a more supporting role as he pushed up the field.

Calder Cannons:

#2 Dylan Landt – He played a pivotal role in the second half, slowing the Stingray’s run down. Landt’s movement and speed through the backline remained consistent throughout the match. His command of the backline drove momentum in their direction, managing to set up a few goals himself. His intelligence on the field is easily recognised in his keen ability to break through pressure and set his midfield up for a smooth counterattack.

#33 Jack Evans – Much like the rest of the boys, Evans came out slow in the first half. Though as soon as that siren sounded for the third quarter, he was off like a rocket. Making his presence known immediately as he slotted away two to put up a fight against the Home team. Hungry for more, he later went onto kick another in the fourth as well popping up a beautiful screamer in the closing moments of the match. Finished the day with three goals.

#39 Jesse Firebrace – It was impossible to keep your eyes off him today. His intelligent placing off the ball set the Cannons up for numerous goal scoring opportunities, kicking the first for his team in the second half. Throughout the match Firebrace laid several strong tackles which implied intense pressure on the Stingrays’ backline, and impressively shrugged off two men attempting to apply their own. If there’s one thing he showed today, it’s that we should keep a close eye on him these coming weeks.


Sandringham Dragons vs. Gippsland Power (Matt Balmer)

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Geordie Nagle – A rock in defence in the first half, with multiple marks in the second quarter. Fought hard and was one of the better Dragons players before half time.

#7 Aaron Trusler – Kicked a good goal early thanks to an “off-break” bounce. His second goal was superb, running through the middle and finishing from 45m He also spent a fair bit more of the game in the midfield with the ‘weakened’ Dragons team.

#8 Will Walker – Took a smart intercept mark about 80 metres from goal, before a long kick to hit a Dragons teammate. Spent majority of the game on the inside and played a solid game throughout the day. He also kicked a great goal on the run in the first quarter.

#22 Quintin Montanaro – Played on the wing and was judged the Dragons best player. Took a while to get into the game but was always the player in the defensive half of the ground that the Dragons looked to use whenever they switched or went to attack. The Power’s pressure was superb throughout the day and at times Montanaro missed some of his handballs under pressure.

#30 Hayden McLean – Took two marks in the opening two minutes of the game but disappointingly opted to pass them off in kickable positions for goal. Was influential due to his size and the Power not having anyone with strength to match him in the air. Kicked his only goal for the day in the second quarter and rucked for periods.

Gippsland Power:

#2 Nick Hogan – Missed a kickable shot in the first quarter, but unfortunately his day ended early not reappearing after half time with an injury.

#5 Xavier Duursma – One of the more exciting Power players. Kicked a huge goal in the context of the game on the verge of half time, laying plenty of tackles in an attempt to win the ball back. Appeared to hurt his groin in the third quarter – but continued to fight hard playing inside 50 in the last quarter.

#6 Aidan Quigley – One of the best games I’ve seen Quigley play. He laid tackles in the middle and through the forward 50. But it was a moment in the final term which summed up his day – The ball came inside 50 with Quigley laying two tackles to pressure two different Dragon players helping the Power get the ball back and slot the goal. Two great games in two weeks is a positive sign for Quigley.

#7 Will Stephenson – Again gets the job done and people are beginning to take note. While his size is always going to count against him, he fought hard and got into the right positions inside 50. He bagged four goals for the day, including a few nice snaps close to goal.

#9 Irving Mosquito – With a big group of Power parents in the stands, Mosquito provided plenty of entertainment up forward. He was millimetres away from clunking the TAC Cup mark of the year in the second quarter. At times he just bombs it forward when he’s outside 50, but close to goal is where he does his best work. Kicked a fantastic goal in the last quarter where he kept his feet unlike the Dragons defenders to bag his second goal for the afternoon.

Looking Ahead TAC Cup Round 4

Bendigo Pioneers (10th, 1-2) vs. Oakleigh Chargers (4th, 2-1)

Both Bendigo and Oakleigh contain some of their top-end talent despite the likes of Lochie O’Brien, Paddy Dow and Jarrod Brander missing due to school football for the Pioneers. The Pioneers’ strength in my opinion lies across the half-back line with all those players – Kane Farrell, Keelin Betson and Darby Henderson pushing up into the midfield as well. Their midfield holds up well, but their medium talls often have to play key position roles, with the likes of Bailey Henderson and Daine Grace both showing signs despite some inconsistencies at times this season.

I think the Pioneers might struggle with height as they have so far this season with Toby Wooller the one to watch up forward for the Chargers. Jack Higgins and Louis Cunningham will provide run through the middle and the likes of Callum Searle and Riley Jones holding up the defensive end. Oakleigh rebounded from a loss to Sandringham in the first round to post two victories and I think they will record one here.

The Chargers win more of the football, dominate the contested possession and lead the Pioneers across most statistical categories. Bendigo’s rebounding has been fairly good this season, as has their disposal by hand, not so much by foot. Bendigo is not the Bendigo of past years and will put up a real fight and at full strength I think the Pioneers would have them. But looking at the teams on paper, Oakleigh is my tip for this game.

Players to watch:

Bendigo: Darby Henderson: 27 disposals (11 contested), four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s, 91 DT points

Oakleigh: Jack Higgins: 30 disposals (14 contested), eight marks, five tackles, three clearances 127 DT points


Dandenong Stingrays (6th, 2-1) vs. Sandringham Dragons (2nd, 3-0)

Since the start of the season I have tipped Dandenong Stingrays for the flag and am not one to jump off the bandwagon. The return of Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning will aid the Stingrays at Frankston Oval, with Sandringham literally unrecognisable from the previous week with a whopping 15 changes – welcome back school football.

Dandenong’s top-end talent and ability to rebound will be too much for Sandringham and hand the Dragons their first loss. Mason De Wit and Bailey Morrish are two of the unlucky ones not to be drafted this season and both Clark and De Koning will be important in the Stingrays’ push going forward. I think they will miss Ali Zijai who has been one of the Stingrays’ best this season, however I’ll look forward to seeing bottom-ager Tom Hogan strut his stuff again after impressing in glimpses. Whether he will fit in the forward line with De Koning and Riley D’Arcy is yet to be seen, but he may end up sharing the ruck duties with Bailey Williams and Tom Roberts.

For the Dragons, Hamish Brayshaw and Quintin Montanaro are a couple of midfielders that will try and maintain continuity in the side, while Hayden McLean will be a tough ask to shut down for the opposition defence, with Will Walker and Max Lohan another couple to keep an eye on in this match.

The Dragons have used the ball well on the outside and have subsequently had low contested ball numbers. They play a high-skilled outside brand of football and the Stingrays would be aiming to try and force them to play more inside in order to counteract their possession play. I think the Stingrays will be too strong and the Dragons will need a few weeks to get used to their mass changes.

Players to watch:

Dandenong: Mason De Wit: 18 disposals, five marks, six rebounds, 77 per cent kicking efficiency, 63 DT points

Sandringham: Quintin Montanaro: 19 disposals, seven marks, six handball receives, 73 per cent kicking efficiency, 71 DT points


Eastern Ranges (7th, 1-2) vs. Geelong Falcons (1st, 3-0)

This match will be the match of the round in my opinion with a number of top-end talents returning to the teams. It will be the spectators’ loss that Adam Cerra will not take the field, but with Sam Hayes and Jaidyn Stephenson running around, there will still be plenty of excitement for the Ranges. Harrison Nolan is a key defender who will no doubt be on AFL clubs radars, while Eastern’s midfield is as good as anyone’s, but I think Geelong have them covered in this game.

James Worpel returns, he joins Cassidy Parish on the inside and that is the best 1-2 inside combination in the league, while Harry Benson, Oscar Brownless and Matthew Ling provide the Falcons with an embarrassment of riches. David Handley will be looking to continue his strong early season form while Tom McCartin is moving forward to follow in brother Paddy’s footsteps. Throw in Ethan Floyd, Gryan Miers and Hayden Elliot and it’s no wonder why this side is undefeated at the top of the table.

I think Geelong will remain at the top of the table after overcoming Eastern in this game. They lead them in most categories except hitouts – which they know they will lose due to height – and then clearances and contested possessions – both of which will change given Worpel is back in and Cerra is out for the Ranges. With the Falcons having a superior kicking efficiency as well, I think the will get the job done here.

Players to watch:

Eastern: Jaidyn Stephenson: 15 disposals (10 contested), six marks (two contested), four inside 50s, eight goals, 96 DT points

Geelong: James Worpel: 19 disposals (nine contested), six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, 72 DT points


Western Jets (9th, 1-2) vs. Gippsland Power (8th, 1-2)

It is fair to say these sides have not had the start they would have liked, but after seeing Gippsland live last week, I feel they are better than their results are showing. Aidan Quigley returns this week which is a boost, and the Power has a good balance of talls and smalls around the ground. Will Stephenson just steps up when needed, while Nick Hogan, Callum Porter and Austin Hodge always provide effort over four quarters. Sean Masterson was good at full-forward last week but has been named at full-back to tackle Tristan Xerri this week. I do like him more as a forward, but we will see how that pans out.

For the Jets, they seemed lost without their two stars in Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty. Those two jets – pardon the pun – are the lynchpin of the side and allow others to run on the outside. Xerri is raw but marks the ball at the highest point, while Judah Dundon and Nicholas Stuhldreier will always work hard. Both sides are pretty even across the board, but with Gippsland ahead on both the inside and outside they will have the slight advantage. However their footskills let them down while the Jets have been comparatively good by hand or foot and with good clearance ability, the Jets will always give their forwards first use.

The ability to put out a consistent team each week works in Gippsland’s favour and based on seeing these teams last week, I will be putting my tip the way of the Power who surprised me and I think they will continue this week.

Players to watch:

Western: Nicholas Stuhldreier: 19 disposals (seven contested), four marks, four tackles, four inside 50s, 79 DT points

Gippsland: Nick Hogan: 21 disposals (12 contested), five clearances, five inside 50s, three tackles, 75 DT points


Northern Knights (5th, 2-1) vs. Murray Bushrangers (3rd, 2-1)

In the first of the Sunday games at RAMS Arena, Northern Knights and Murray Bushrangers will be fighting for a top four spot. The Knights have a really strong midfield led by Nick Coffield, Patrick Naish, Marcus Lentini and Jack Petruccelle. The emergence of Max Dreher further this season has allowed Naish to play further up the ground, with Dreher and Ethan Penrith also able to drift through that midfield. Joel Grace booted six goals in their last match so no doubt he will be tightly watched by the Bushrangers defence.

For Murray, they always put out a really competitive team and with a half-back line of Doulton Langlands, Alex Paech and Ben Paton, expect there to be no shortage of drive and rebounding out of the Bushrangers defence. Both teams’ half-back lines are strong and Murray have a number of players that have shown signs including Isaac Wallace, Will Donaghey and Angus Hicks, while Nick Richards will be keen to bounce back from a quieter round three match following two strong performances in the first fortnight.

The Bushrangers’ strengths lie in their foot skills compared to the Knights and their ability to control possession. They do struggle a little on the inside compared to past years, but provide plenty of pressure to the opposition. The Knights have been good around the stoppages and equally frenetic without the ball and I think they will get the job done here. Northern is my tip.

Players to watch:

Northern: Max Dreher: 24 disposals (12 contested), five marks, five tackles, five clearances, three rebounds, 91 DT points

Murray: Ben Paton: 25 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, 98 DT points


Calder Cannons (12th 0-3) vs. GWV Rebels (11th, 0-3)

Two of the smallest teams in the TAC Cup will do battle in the final game of the round with avoiding going winless after four rounds the carrot dangled in front of them. What makes this game more interesting than an 11th versus 12th clash is the fact that both have similar strengths and weaknesses. Both midfields are really solid, with Calder’s Jean-Luc Velissaris, Brad Bernacki and Ben Caluzzi facing Aiden Domic, Cal Wellings and Thomas Berry. I think the Rebels’ midfield bats a little deeper, but Calder does have the better talls. Keep an eye out for Scott Carlin who is skilful by foot and will be one to watch for next season, while Cannons excitement machine Jesse Firebrace is small but packs a punch.

Noah Balta is the star of the show and will be a high draft pick, but he has his work cut out for him against Lloyd Meek who has been one of the in-form ruckmen of the competition. Mitch Podhajski will look to use his “height” of 190cm to lead the Calder defence, while the Rebels will hope that their speed will counteract the Cannons’ height up the other end. It is almost scary to think 200cm Daniel Hanna could line-up on 188cm Jackson Taurau.

I think this match will come down to match conditions. I think in patches the Rebels have shown some signs, but so has Calder. The problem with both these teams is they tend to drift off for a quarter and the opposition boots a bag of goals and it hurts. Given I am very much on the fence I will turn to the stats where the Rebels have been superior by foot, in the hit-outs, clearances and inside 50s. Calder has been much better rebounding, but with the Rebels ahead in more areas, I will select them without a great deal of confidence either way.

Players to watch:

Calder: Jean-Luc Velissaris: 17 disposals (eight contested), four marks, six inside 50s, five tackles, 84 DT points

GWV: Callan Wellings: 28 disposals (15 contested), seven marks, eight clearances, eight tackles, five rebounds, 123 DT points

Weekend That Was: Round 2

GEELONG Falcons put an exclamation mark on their premiership chances with a thumping 77-point win over fellow flag hope Dandenong Stingrays at Simonds Stadium on Saturday. The Falcons dominated after quarter time, booting 16 goals to five to run away with the 19.16 (130) to 8.5 (53) victory.

James Worpel did his draft chances no harm early in the season with a damaging 22 disposal game with his penetration and ability to work hard around the ground on show. The potential top five pick had seven clearances, laid six tackles and had nine inside 50s and two rebounds in a strong all-round game. Other Falcons to impress in the rout was Cassidy Parish (33 disposals, seven clearances) and Gryan Miers (23 disposals, five goals). For the Stingrays, Ali Zijai had 20 disposals, 10 tackles, five inside 50s and a goal, while Bailey Morrish was steadfast in defence with nine rebounds.

Western Jets bounced back from an opening round loss to Northern with a 31-point win over Calder on the weekend. The Jets raced out of the blocks with an inaccurate 3.7 to 0.1 in the first term, and while inaccuracy plagued them throughout the game, were too good for the Cannons to win 11.19 (85) to 8.6 (54).

Lachlan Fogarty starred again with 30 disposals, seven tackles, nine inside 50s and four clearances, while Judah Dundon finished with 30 disposals, four inside 50s and a goal. For Calder, Mitch Podhajski was the key ball winner, collecting 26 disposals and 10 marks, while Ben Caluzzi and captain Brad Bernacki worked hard around the ground.

Murray Bushrangers made it two wins from two games after prevailing by 24 points over Gippsland Power in a dour affair. In a game which saw just 11 goals kicked – including just four in the first half – Murray proved the better of the sides in the 7.13 (55) to 4.7 (31) win. Ben Paton had 24 disposals, six marks and two tackles in the win, while Floyd Bollinghaus was prominent in the ruck, collecting 24 hitouts from 14 disposals. For Gippsland, Will Stephenson notched up 20 disposals, five marks and six tackles, while Grady Cocksedge was strong in defence with a 77 per cent disposal efficiency from 13 touches, six rebounds and nine tackles.

SCOUTING NOTES: TAC Cup Round 2

Bendigo Pioneers recorded their first win in a see-sawing wind-affected contest at Alfredton Recreation Reserve on Sunday. Greater Western Victoria Rebels had control of the contest in the second term, but to the Pioneers credit, they booted nine of the next 13 goals to run away and record a 16.12 (108) to 14.12 (96) win. Lochie O’Brien showed why he is a contender for pick one with 26 disposals (81 per cent efficiency), seven marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals.

But it was Paddy Dow (21 disposals and seven clearances) and Brent Daniels (five goals) that stole the show for the Pioneers. Meanwhile for the Rebels, overage captain Callan Wellings starred with 35 disposals, 10 marks, nine clearances, nine tackles, three inside 50s and six rebounds in a strong performance. The only knock was he had 10 of his team’s 29 clangers, but with 16 contested possessions he worked hard both inside and out.

Ikon Park hosted a double header on Sunday, with Oakleigh recording a 21-point win over Eastern in what many would consider an upset. The Chargers were outplayed by the Dragons in a poor performance a week earlier, while the Ranges put in a dominant display against Calder under lights. But it was roles reversed when the sides clashed with Oakleigh enjoying a 13.14 (92) to 10.11 (71) victory.

Jack Higgins was again busy, racking up 30 disposals, but with 17 contested, he found himself winning plenty of them on the inside and still ran at 87 per cent efficiency. He also took seven marks, laid six tackles and booted two goals. Others to impress from the winners included Nathan Boucher with 22 touches, six marks and three tackles, while overager Louis Cunningham had seven rebound 50s from his 20 disposals. Adam Cerra again was sensational for Eastern, racking up 26 disposals, seven marks, five clearances and five inside 50s, while Jaidyn Stephenson booted three goals and had five inside 50s for the winners.

In the final game of the round, the two winners from last week, Sandringham Dragons and Northern Knights went head-to-head with the Dragons prevailing 10.15 (75) to 7.7 (49). Northern led by a point at the final break, but a 5.6 to 1.3 final term saw Sandringham run away with the contest. Andrew Brayshaw was strong inside with 11 contested possessions and nine tackles from his 27 disposals, while Charlie Constable buzzed around the outside, collecting 31 disposals, taking 10 marks and recording five rebounds. Max Dreher continued his early form with a 26 disposal game which saw the defender take eight marks, while Marcus Lentini had 26 disposals, three clearances and a goal and Richmond father-son prospect Patrick Naish was busy once again, playing further up the ground.

After two rounds, just three teams remain undefeated with Geelong and Murray leading the way ahead of Sandringham in third. Eastern Ranges leads a log-jam of teams with one win from two matches, ahead of Western, Northern, Oakleigh, Bendigo and Dandenong. Gippsland, GWV Rebels and Calder are looking for their first wins of the season this week.

This weekend will see a number of teams weakened with AFL Academy games running over the next two weeks  and teams’ depth will be questioned.

2017 TAC Cup season preview: Metro teams

AS the start of the 2017 TAC Cup season draws near, AFL Draft Central’s Matt Balmer will look at the six metro sides and investigate which ones are contenders, and which ones are pretenders this year. To check out Peter Williams‘ country previews, click here.

Calder Cannons

Calder Cannons only had a single player drafted in the AFL National Draft last season, but showed off their ability to win games when they needed to and finished in eighth place in the TAC Cup.

Their 2017 season will be relient on Noah Balta, who some predict the tall could easily find himself as a top 10 pick by November. The tall has played through the ruck and up forward and covers the ground well for a player at 194cm.

Their bottom age group is full of future stars including Rhylee West (son of Western Bulldogs great Scott), Curtis Taylor and Jack Bytel and they will be hoping to get plenty of opportunity in 2017.

Brad Bernacki showed some good form last season and has been named captain of the Cannons group. Bernacki finished third in the Cannons’ best and fairest last year and will be looking to take another step forward to lead his team.

I think overall it will be a similar season to 2016 for the Cannons, but if their top talent can gel together they will be able to take some scalps across the season and fight their way into the top eight.

Finishing position: 8th-10th

Eastern Ranges

2016 saw the Sandringham Dragons have five players drafted in the top 20 – well Eastern may equal that with some top talent that is sure to mark them as premierships favourite before the ball is even bounced on the season.

AFL Academy members Joel Garner, Sam Hayes and Jaidyn Stephenson were strong performers in 2016, with Hayes named as an All-Australian after a steller Under 18 championships with Vic Metro.

Hayes was good in the ruck, as well as showing off his skills inside 50 taking marks and kicking goals.

The smooth moving Garner might just be the best Metro player, with the Scotch College student using his speed and agility to take the ball inside 50 on his left boot.

Adam Cerra and Jackson Ross are two others who have not got the plaudits of the other three and may be two others who could be first round talents come November.

With Eastern the best team from Metro, it should be enough to see them reach the TAC Cup Grand Final – but with a different finals system in 2017 anything can happen.

Finishing position: 1st-2nd

Northern Knights

The Northern Knights had a coaching change over the summer with Justin Wenke appointed to take over from Andrew Shakespeare.

The Knights had some strong bottom agers last season who will progress into their top-age year nicely and should hopefully push them into finals.

Patrick Naish (son of former Richmond player Chris) headlines their draft prospects and will likely play more of a role in attack, after spending 2016 playing off the half back flank.

Jack Petruccelle will provide much needed speed through their midfield and is a player that should be noted down to keep an eye on this season. Ethan Penrith is another who showed speed from defensive 50 in 2016 and will look to take a bigger role this season.

Christian Farchione and Max Dreher are two who impressive in school football last year and when available the Knights have some strong talent from the AGSV schools.

After missing out on finals in 2016, they have a list that is capable of contending for the top eight and they have some real talent that could find themselves on AFL lists in 2018.

Finishing position: 6th-10th

Oakleigh Chargers

It’s hard to tell how the Chargers will go in 2017. With a large contingent of APS and AGSV school boys they are always going to be strong when they aren’t playing – but what type of performances will they dish up when they lose half of their best players?

Having Jack Higgins available all year will be a big plus for their midfielder, as Higgins can win the football on the inside and then push forward and hit the scoreboard.

Toby Wooller impressed up forward for Scotch and the Chargers last year and having finished school will head up their forward line looking for a 30+ goals season.

Louis Cunningham was one of the closest players to being drafted last year using his steller left boot coming out of defence, but the Chargers will look to push him up the ground this season which hopefully should help his draft chances.

Charlie Thompson has had injuries in the past but some of his performances in 2016 showed that he could be the surprise packet in the Chargers list.

2016 captain Jack Roughsedge continues on the road to recover after an injury riddled season and it will be good to see him back out on the field later in the season.

Overall you know what you’re going to get with Oakleigh, they have a strong enough team to make the finals and if it all clicks come September anything is possible.

Finishing position: 3rd-7th

Sandringham Dragons

After a record breaking 2016 draftee numbers and a TAC Cup premiership, Sandringham will look to continue their superb work in 2017.

Andrew Brayshaw, Hayden McLean and Isaac Morrisby were all a part of the Grand Final and their experience will hopefully drive the 2017 Dragons to another finals appearance.

Like Oakleigh, they have a truckload of talent when school football isn’t on – but they will look towards others to step up in their absence.

McLean has been named captain of the Dragons and his strong form inside 50 saw him gain a stop in the AFL Academy for 2017. He marks well overhead and hit the scoreboard at will last season.

Charlie Constable has been a strong performer in the preseason after missing most of 2016 with injury, whilst twins Max and Ben King will be two talls at either ends who will standout as likely top 10 players for the 2018 draft.

Father-Sons Devlin Brereton (son of Dermott) and Joel Crocker (son of Darren) are two that may get opportunity throughout the season.

While winning back-to-back premierships will be tough, they will be at team that will make finals and have the depth in their squad to know they have what it takes to get to the Grand Final.

Finishing position: 3rd-6th

Western Jets

The Jets have some high top age talent that should be able to help them jump into finals in 2017.

Midfielders Lachlan Fogarty and Cameron Rayner are the pair that will make the Jets hard to beat in the centre contest. Fogarty is a smart player around the contest, while Rayner bashes in hard and can push forward to take a contested mark overhead.

Tall Tristan Xerri impressed last season as 23rd man and is one that may bolt if he can help the Jets to a finals berth.

Smart defender Thomas Yorgey joins the Jets in 2017 and his mature football brain will help them remain composed coming from defence.

Judah Dundon was very close to being selected in the 2016 draft and will be out to impress clubs in what is hopefully an injury free season.

The Jets have a balanced squad and they are expected to win a lot of the contested ball which should hold them in good stead to hit the scoreboard.

Finishing position: 7th-11th

Matt Balmer’s 2016 Final AFL Draft Power Rankings Part 1

EVERY month since May, Matt Balmer has ranked his players from the 2016 AFL Draft pool. With less than three weeks until the November 25 National AFL Draft, he counts down the players ranked 50-1 over the next two weeks. Today will be 50-26, before next Monday’s final rankings from 25-1.

Well what a year it has been. Looking back at May’s rankings, it’s amazing how things can change after Sam Petrevski-Seton was #1 all those months ago. We have had injuries such as Jy Simpkin and Alex Witherden breaking their legs in separate school game incidents, while names have jumped up with strong performances throughout the season and in finals.

Having seen just under 100 games throughout the season, it is always hard to come to a final order and I have ranked the players how I would if I was an AFL club going into the draft come November, ticking names off the list as they are called out.

#50 Zac Fisher
Inside Midfielder (Perth/Western Australia)
15/06/1998 | 175.2cm | 70.3kg

Bite sized inside midfielder who jumped onto the radar with a big performance against the Allies in the first television game of the National Under 18s Championships on Fox Footy. Fisher’s awareness is one of his strengths and it is highlighted in the final quarter of the Western Australia game against the Allies, where he pulls the kick from the half forward flank into the centre 45 metres out from goal. His run and carry work through the midfield is good and he using his quick hands to clear the ball from the stoppages which is a strength. Kicking efficiency needs work and it was below 50 per cent in the WAFL this season. He played senior football all season for Perth and is not worried by bigger bodied opponents. Probably starts up forward in an AFL environment, before playing through the midfield if he can add to his frame.

#49 Josh Begley
General Forward/Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
03/07/1998 | 185.5cm | 96.1kg

Josh Begley is one of the bolters of the draft who begun the year playing at Upper Ferntree Gully, before Eastern Ranges added him to their squad where he bagged six goals on debut against Tasmania. Coming off no preseason, Begley bagged 27 goals this season playing up forward. He did move into the midfield, where he used his strong frame to good success. His work in close at the stoppages is very good and is willing to tackle hard to win the ball back. Will need a few preseasons under his belt to work on his body shape, but fits in as a likely Christian Petracca type of player. Skinfolds have reduced dramatically in the last few months and looms as a likely second rounder.

#48 Harry Morrison
Outside Midfielder (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
12/11/1998 | 181.5cm | 77.6kg

It’s been a tough two-year block for Harry Morrison. Morrison suffered an ACL injury in 2014 that resulted in him missing the Under 16s carnival, before an injury to his back saw him miss the Under 18 carnival this season. His form throughout the season at the Murray Bushrangers has been solid, without starring in any particular games. He looks best suited to playing across half back or on a wing – thanks to his outstanding kick and his decision making. Morrison is composed with the ball in hand across half back, reading the play well before disposing of it well off his right boot. Morrison is not the quickest player out on the ground and it may be an area of focus if he can get a run at it without injuries.

#47 Corey Lyons
Inside Midfielder (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
31/05/1998 | 180.5cm | 77.1kg

The brother of current Gold Coast Sun Jarryd could not have done much more to be drafted in 2016. He continued to give it his all, right up until the final game of the TAC Cup season after a steller finals series. Lyons is an inside midfielder who is not blessed with speed, but tackles hard and wins the clearances. A knock on him has been his kicking efficiency which has been 57 per cent in the TAC Cup. Chances were limited in the National Under 18 Championships in a strong Vic Metro side, but his best position will be on the inside at AFL level despite his small size. Has the running ability to play outside and across half forward.

#46 Brennan Cox
Key Position Defender/Forward (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
13/08/1998 | 192.6cm | 91.6kg

All Australian Brennan Cox has had a strong season playing virtually in every position. Cox held down the fort for South Australia at full back in the National Under 18 Championships and often floated between forward and back, with some stints in the ruck for Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL. He played both Reserves and Under 18s football in South Australia, where he showed off his good leap and marking up forward and his intercept marking and one-on-one work in defence. Despite his early season testing results, he at times can appear slow moving around the ground. Is one of the handful of best defenders in the draft pool.

#45 Callum Brown
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/04/1998 | 177.0cm | 72.2kg

Callum Brown is the son of Collingwood great Gavin and begun the Under 18 championships with a big performance. His work in close is very good and he picks the ball up as well as anyone from ground level. After playing mostly as a small forward for the Ranges in 2015, Brown spent most of the season on the inside. Whilst his aggression and work rate is very good, he can let down with his kicking. He is a player that tends to kick short and does not have much hurt factor when he disposes of the ball. His kicking efficiency can also be affected at times when he goes to kick the ball on either side of his body. Expect a bid in the 30 plus region for Brown.

#44 Declan Watson
Key Position Defender (Aspley/Queensland)
17/09/1998 | 191.4cm | 82.8kg

Declan Watson is a strong one-on-one defender who does not lose too often to his opponent. Watson intercepts well in the back half and kicked the ball out of for Queensland in the Under 18 championships. Whilst he isn’t a big ball winner, his work stopping his opponent is very good. Watson will need some time to develop with a light frame, but all signs point to him being the first Brisbane Lions academy member being bidded on come November 25.

#43 Ryan Garthwaite
Key Position Defender (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
30/06/1998 | 192.0cm | 83.2kg

Ryan Garthwaite finished the year outstandingly well as the Murray Bushrangers’ best defender in their TAC Cup Grand Final loss to Sandringham Dragons. Garthwaite collected 24 disposals, nine marks and six rebound 50s in one of his best games of the season. Garthwaite is a strong lock down defender that is also mobile enough to play up the ground across half back. His intercept mark work is some of the best in the Under 18 system (averaged 6.5 marks in the TAC Cup) but injuries meant an underdone Under 18 carnival. His kicking action can appear strange with both hands dropping the ball onto his foot, but the ball does get to where it needs to go, more often than not.

#42 Jack Graham
Inside Midfielder (North Adelaide/South Australia)
25/02/1998 | 180.3cm | 81.1kg

South Australian inside midfielder Jack Graham won All-Australian honours and was the Larke Medalist for the best player in Division One in the National Under 18 Championships. Has had a few injuries that has meant he missed a few games across the season, including a quad injury which kept him out of finals for North Adelaide. Graham is a contested ball winning hard nut and is strongly built from the waist down. My only concern is, will his body shape be able to adapt for AFL level where he likely trims off a little to work on endurance? His ball winning ability on the inside is very good and should appeal to clubs with a late second round pick.

#41 Louis Cunningham
Outside Midfielder (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
24/02/1998 | 181.8cm | 76.6kg

Little known Oakleigh Charger Louis Cunningham impressed in 2016. Showing his dash across half back, Cunningham stood out not only for his bright orange boots, but his pinpoint left foot pass that could break the game open rebounding out of defence. His attacking flair impressed me on multiple occasions when he would have the ball sprinting out of the back half and kicking it long forward. Deserves a chance on an AFL list.

#40 Willem Drew
Inside Midfielder (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
01/10/1998 | 188.0cm | 79.3kg

Willem Drew is one of the best pure inside midfielders in the TAC Cup. Averaging 7.4 tackles and 6.9 clearances per game, Drew was a crucial cog in the North Ballarat Rebels midfield alongside Hugh McCluggage. Whilst his ball winning is great, he has not had inside form at National Under 18 Championships level or in the NAB U18 All-Stars game, making it hard to judge where he sits in the draft overall. Drew does have some areas of improvement, where he can just hack the ball out of a stoppage at times – this resulted in a kicking efficiency of 55.7 per cent in the TAC Cup. He is slow to accelerate and isn’t blessed with pace, meaning the clear a stoppage he often needs to handball to ball out to a teammate.

#39 Myles Poholke
Inside Midfielder/General Forward (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
10/07/1998 | 183.7cm | 81.9kg

Strong midfielder Myles Poholke has the ability to push forward and hit the scoreboard. Poholke had 18 disposals and two goals for Vic Country in their narrow loss to Vic Metro in the National Under 18s Championships. Whilst he is not a huge disposal winner, he played in a team that had one of the lowest disposal averages as a team week in week out. Poholke’s bursts can see him collect six disposals in as many minutes, before fading as he did at times throughout the year. His consistency does need work but his running ability and endurance has improved from what they were earlier in the season. His strength at the contest is very good and that can help him win one-on-one contests.

#38 Kobe Mutch
Balanced Midfielder (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)
18/03/1998 | 186.1cm | 83.6kg

One of the best ball winners in the 2016 draft pool is Kobe Mutch, but just where does he play his best football? He has multiple traits that make him so attractive, but without being elite in one category. His work rate around the ground is very good and he spreads very well from the stoppages and looks to get involved. Mutch is a good clearance player when he plays through the centre of the ground and is able to link the ball up with teammates on the outside. An average kick can see Mutch lean back at times and float the ball when going forward, allowing for it to be intercepted by opposition. He is willing to kick the ball on either side of his body and is a smooth mover.

#37 Jack Maibaum
Key Position Defender (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
27/03/1998 | 191.9cm | 91.0kg

Key defender Jack Maibaum won All-Australian honours after a great National Under 18 Championships playing as Vic Metro’s number one tall. Maibaum has floated between forward and back at both Melbourne Gramamr (school) and Eastern Ranges (TAC Cup). Up forward he is mobile enough to lead further up the ground, whilst in defence he has played mainly a role shutting down the opposition best forward. Not a big disposal winner, but his efforts in one-on-one situations are very good and he gives his all week in week out. At 192cm, is he big enough to play as the number one key back?

#36 Josh Daicos
Outside Midfielder/Small Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
26/11/1998 | 177.8cm | 72.2kg

Josh Daicos is the highest ranked Father/Son prospect in my rankings. The son of Peter has had a good year in the TAC Cup providing X-Factor when playing up forward. At times he has pushed through the midfield and played across half back, but looks most at home. Against the Northern Knights, Daicos played in defence for the first half before moving forward- providing deadly booting a couple of goals to get the Chargers over the line. Some of his moments up forward are eye catching and looks agile on the field, wearing bright boots as he has for most of the season. His footy brain is very good but he can fade in and fade out of matches very quickly. Expect a bid in the 30-45 range.

#35 Luke Ryan
General Defender (Coburg/VFL)
07/02/1996 | 185.7cm | 82.9kg

Luke Ryan is the best state league prospect across Australia and seems likely to be a first round pick. Upon watching him, he looks to be ‘skinny’, but up close and testing wise he sits at a touch under 83kg. The general defender rebounds the ball and isn’t afraid to intercept mark. He is very good athletically, but from the games I have seen him play- he does collect a lot of the ball uncontested due to dropping off his man. A shoulder injury saw his season end early but was still able to win the Fothergill-Round medal as the best Under 23 player in the VFL.

#34 Sam Walker
Medium Defender (Glenelg/South Australia)
16/03/1998 | 185.1cm | 79.2kg

I’m a big fan of rebounding defender Sam Walker. The South Australian has an exquisite left boot and hits targets at will when steaming from defence. Walker’s National Under 18 Championships saw him average 14 disposals and was named in the All Australian side. His disposal efficiency was elite from the carnival and continued his form back in the SANFL. Walker has pushed further up the ground at times, but looks most suited in defence with his great rebounding ability. Had the match up on Will Hayward in the SANFL U18 Grand Final in the wet and performed well.

#33 Isaac Cumming
Outside Midfielder (North Adelaide/NSW-ACT)
11/08/1998 | 184.2cm | 73.8kg

Someone mentioned to me back in June to keep an eye out on Isaac Cumming – and sure enough he was right. Cumming finished the year outstandingly well after a quiet performance in the under 18s carnival for both the Allies and NSW-ACT. Cumming provided a spark coming from defence in the NAB AFL U18 All Stars game on Grand Final Eve and was able to break the lines. Not a big disposal winner but uses the ball well and can be damaging across half back or on a wing.

#32 Jonty Scharenberg
Inside Midfielder (Glenelg/South Australia)
28/08/1998 | 183.2cm | 80.6kg

Jonty Scharenberg is the brother of Collingwood’s Matt, but is a completely different player. The Glenelg midfielder is an inside midfielder who is a good decision maker will ball in hand. His handballing to opponents out of a stoppage is outstanding and one of his best traits. Scharenberg collected 34 disposals in his only SANFL U18 apperance for the season in the Grand Final and was Glenelg’s best on the day. His clearance work in the Under 18 championships was very good, but kicking is a major knock on him with a kicking efficiency of 49 per cent in the carnival. Scharenberg doesn’t have a burst of speed either to get away from opponenents, often relying on his football IQ to dispose of the footy.

#31 Zach Sproule
Key Position Forward/Defender (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
15/05/1998 | 195.6cm | 88.5kg

GWS Academy member Zach Sproule has played multiple roles in 2016. He played up forward alongside Todd Marshall, kicking seven goals in the Under 18 championships for NSW-ACT. Sproule played a similar role for the Allies but played the second half of the season in defence for the Bushrangers, playing on opponents such as Josh Battle throughout the year. A strong mark, Sproule has the running capabilities to play furthur up the ground as a roaming half forward thanks to outstanding endurance. Is still lightly framed but his set shot kicking routine is very good. His mobility should appeal to clubs looks for a tall at either end with plenty of development left in them.

#30 Dylan Clarke
Inside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
06/09/1998 | 185.7cm | 83.4kg

Dylan Clarke is the younger brother of North Melbourne 2015 draftee Ryan. Clarke has had a stellar season for both Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro. The competitive midfielder is a hard nut at the ball and averaged just under eight tackles and seven clearances per TAC Cup game for the Ranges. Has a good endurance base which means he can play on the outside if required, but his strong build will allow him to transition into senior football rather quickly through the midfield. Clarke’s knocks have been hit kicking technique and it was under 50% in both the TAC Cup and the Under 18 championships for Vic Metro. Likely second round pick.

#29 Jordan Gallucci
Outside Midfielder (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
04/05/1998 | 180.0cm | 77.5kg

The athletic Jordan Gallucci has fluctuated around in my ratings all season. He showed plenty of promise in 2015 with many expecting him to have one of the better kicks in the draft pool. Unfortunately Gallucci could not find his feet as to where he best played his football, mixing between half back, midfield and periods up forward. For me I think he is best suited on the outside, rebounding across half back or on the wing. His kicking has struggled at times this year, at the 61 per cent (when combing TAC Cup & Under 18 championships). His athletic traits in speed and agility are outstanding, where he can burn opponents off running forward. Can win his own football in the midfield and his clearance work when on the inside has been strong.

#28 Patrick Kerr
Key Position Forward (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
31/07/1998 | 193.4cm | 93.2kg

The grandson of Carlton’s Laurie Kerr is one of the best key forwards in the 2016 draft. Kerr was at his best booting four final quarter goals to get Vic Metro over the line against South Australia in the Under 18 championships. Kerr has terrific hands overhead and marks well on the lead. When Kerr is on, he’s hard to stop and can really take the game away from opposing sides. Kerr is a strong leader and works hard on field & is a great character, speaking well to all those who have a chat with him. His speed over the first 5-10m is good which allows him to get distance between him and opposition. Kerr has worked hard on his agility, but it still was one of the worst at the National Combine. May appeal to the Blues at Pick 25 due to the family history.

#27 Jarrod Berry
Medium utility (North Ballarat Rebels/Vic Country)
05/02/1998 | 191.0cm | 81.8kg

A large majority have Berry in their top 10-15 names, but not for me. Berry has left me wanting more all season with each game I have seen him play. Multiple injuries did not give Berry an ability to be consistent across the season and play constant football. Berry has the best leadership abilities out of any player in this draft, his vocal work out on the ground is clear and it will hold him in good stead in the AFL. But where does he play his best football? He has the size to play inside midfielder, showed his good capabilities overhead up forward at stages late in the season as well as rebounding the ball out of defence. His kicking does need some work and for me I would be playing him in the attacking half of the ground. The utility will have plenty of suiters and should be a first round selection.

#26 Shai Bolton
Outside Midfielder (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
08/12/1998 | 174.7cm | 68.8kg

Excitement machine Shai Bolton has one of the best highlight packages in 2016. His fast side step is Cyril Rioli-like and he moves as well as anyone when getting around opponents. His speed is outstanding and is a hard match up when playing up forward. Bolton’s first half in the NAB AFL U18 All-Stars shows he has the capabilities to play up on a wing and his eye-catching moments make you take notice. What does need to be improved on is his kicking, which thanks to a high ball drop and style it can result in some bad kicks. Will need to work on his endurance in an AFL environment where he could well become a very damaging playing on the outside.

So that’s my players ranked 50-26, if you want to know more: Send me a Tweet @MattBalmer7 before my final 25-1 is released next Monday night.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup Semi-Finals

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Sunday’s TAC Cup Semi-Final scouting notes:


Sandringham Dragons 13.13 (91) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 4.6 (30)

Matt Balmer’s scouting notes

Dandenong Stingrays:

#10 Myles Poholke– Spent a fair chunk of the first quarter on the bench, but found plenty of the ball post his time on the pine. He finished with 22 disposals and three clearances, picking the ball up cleanly off the ground throughout the day. Could hold his head up high.

#13 Tom Jok– Picked up an injury and wasn’t sighted after half-time. Can fumble with ball in hand at times and is probably unlikely to be picked in the draft at this stage. Left the game on crutches.

#15 Sam Fowler– Was the big inclusion for the Stingrays but was kept quiet for most the afternoon with just five disposals. His best passage came from him taking three bounces down the wing before taking it inside 50.

#17 Josh Battle– Just the two goals for Battle after nailing six last weekend. Was well held by Ari Sakeson but kicked through well off his right foot when shooting for goal.

Sandringham Dragons:

#4 Will Setterfield– Backed up last weekends effort with 22 disposals and nine tackles. His attack on the ball was great and drilled the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions. His work in close is very strong and he’s a big chance to earn a bid (GWS academy) in mid first round of the draft.

#5 Andrew McGrath– McGrath spent more time on the inside than last weekend and collected 27 disposals and six clearances. The Stingrays tried to rough him up early, but it didn’t work and McGrath let the play do the talking. Hit most of his targets at short range and looked sideways & backwards at stages to find a loose Dragon.

#7 Corey Lyons– Kicking has been a knock but he was good today. Numbers wise he was down on last weekend but wasn’t afraid to get the ball in deep to the Dragons talls inside 50. Finished with 18 disposals.

#8 Tim Taranto– Was the best player on the ground for me. Started slowly last week but didn’t today and was good all match. Finished with 29 disposals, seven marks and eight tackles. His overhead marking is a strength and if he keeps this form up there is no doubt he could push for a Top five pick.

#10 Jack Scrimshaw– Weaves through the packs, lifts his arms and knows where to run. His kicking has been poor the last few weeks, but hardly missed a target today. He collected 27 disposals and took some really nice marks playing across half back. Another who could push for a Top five pick.

#13 Oliver Florent– Had 20 disposals and five inside 50s in his best finals display. Has a lot of X-Factor about him and looks the goods forward of centre. Took seven marks and gets in the right positions.

#25 Tom Maloney– Nabbed four goals and was exciting for the Dragons. Easily his best performance of the season. He’s a smart rover inside 50 and marks well.


Oakleigh Chargers 12.14 (86) defeated North Ballarat Rebels 12.8 (80)

Peter Williams’ scouting notes:

North Ballarat Rebels:

#1 Jamaine Jones – Quiet game from the small forward after a lively first final. Did a couple of nice things on the wing, but did not have his usual scoreboard impact when forward.

#2 Callan Wellings – Sensational game by the captain. Was everywhere and put in a four quarter performance. Finished with 30 disposals, six marks, six clearances and seven inside 50s.

#6 Willem Drew – Another hard working effort from Drew. Consistently won the hardball and put his body on the line with no regard for his own safety. Not the cleanest user of the ball, but you can never question his intensity and bravery.

#7 Hugh McCluggage – Found plenty of the ball again, but was not his usual self. Made a few uncharacteristic errors, but still made space and got the forward to advantage. Another one who did not impact the scoreboard as much as he normally does.

#8 Shannon Beks – One of the best first halves I have seen from Beks, booting three goals and looking like the most dangerous forward on the ground. He drifted out of the game after half-time, but was one of the reasons the Rebels managed to keep in touch to the main break.

#19 Jarrod Korewha – It was a typical Korewha performance. His offensive run off half-back was an asset, reading the play well and getting it moving, but his disposal can hurt at times. Really good one-on-one considering there is not much of him and takes risks, which is a big plus about him, opting for longer kicks rather than the easy short option..

#23 Lloyd Meek – Really strong in the air and looked good around the ground for a bigger bloke. Got frustrated at times and gave away a few undisciplined free kicks (five against total). Was beaten in the hitouts however which would have led to his frustrations.

#46 Cedric Cox – Had a really strong second quarter and kicked his first TAC Cup goal. After starting in defence and being a little quiet he moved forward and was a danger around the goals. Kicked the one but assisted with others and while his stat sheet was not overly high with only 10 touches, his work off the ball with pressure acts was good.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#2 Ed Phillips – Really liked his game as a link-up player between midfield and half-forward. When the Rebels were on top, it was Phillips who along with Aujard, stood up and took control. Had several key inside 50s that led to goals and provided energy and enthusiasm forward of centre.

#3 Vincent Adduci – For a small forward he certainly finds the ball and uses it well. Looked dangerous every time he went near it and provided the Rebels defence with a few headaches. Very small, but just goes in grabs the pill and shoots out quick fire handballs to his teammates.

#6 Campbell Lane – Not the silkiest of players, but is a footballer’s footballer. Does all the hard stuff and puts his body on the line to help his side. Consistently wins one-on-one contests and drives it forward.

#9 Jono Aujard – Another top player for the Chargers that really stood out to me. Found plenty of it on the wing and covered the ground really well, kicking out of defence and being on the end of it at the other end.

#11 Patrick Kerr – Floated in an out of patches much like the first final. Did not do a lot overall, but the opportunities he had he looked solid. Seems to have a penetrating kick for goal and is very quick on the lead. Due for a big game next weekend.

#21 Lachlan Walker – Was solid without being outstanding after a very good first final. Always finds plenty of the ball and is a solid kick without being a star. Often impacts the scoreboard which he did not in the semi-final, but still worked hard. Was reported for a high tackle, but I would be shocked if that was not thrown out pretty quickly.

#28 Josh Daicos – Was quiet for two and a half quarters then snapped a typical ‘Daicos’ goal with a banana after wrong footing his opponent. Then turned it on in the last quarter kicking another and almost had a third with a dribbler from the boundary line. Ultimately kicked the sealer to put the Chargers 18 points up 20 minutes into the final term. Still needs to work on consistency, but the class is there.

#42 Louis Cunningham – His work off half-back was first class. The amount of times he would step back and take a goal-saving mark or stem the flow forward was quite impressive. Another one that was willing to fight the Rebel resistance in the second half.

Scouting notes: Oakleigh v Calder

IMG_6765Matt Balmer’s scouting notes:

Oakleigh Chargers 23.10 (148) defeated Calder 5.12 (42)

 Oakleigh Chargers:

 #2 Ed Phillips– A lively performer right throughout the day booting two goals and collecting 19 disposals. Phillips provided plenty of spark and was left largely unopposed throughout the contest able to run at will for the Chargers. Played mostly inside 50.

 #6 Campbell Lane– The best 19-year-old on the ground. Linked up well with his teammates and was able to propel the ball forward with his best work coming in the first half.

 #8 Toby Wooller– Bottom-ager who showed good signs inside 50. Took 10 marks for the match, finishing with 2.2. Is strongly built from the waist down and has a good vertical leap. One to watch throughout the finals and will have a spot in the Vic Metro Under 18 squad next season.

 #15 Jordan Ridley– Arguably his best game of the season, collecting 28 disposals and 12 marks. His composure in the back half of the ground was outstanding and he set the Chargers up coming out of defence. Could be the big bolter if he continues to show form throughout the finals.

 #21 Lachlan Walker– Walker just knows how to win the football. Had 25 disposals (16 contested) and propel the ball inside 50 at will for the Chargers. He worked hard at the clearances and in the past the knock has been him just bombing it forward on his left boot- but he was much better today.

 #33 Nick Larkey– A lack of talls in defence for Calder saw Larkey collect the ball at will. He finished with five goals and nine marks in a strong showing. Has the height and size, but is built like a stick. Looks better suited forward and through the ruck than in defence.

 #42 Louis Cunningham– A really nice left footer across half back for the Chargers. Was strong in their win against highly rated Sandringham a few weeks back and looked to continue on from that effort. 18 disposals and 10 marks for his afternoon as the Cannons let him run free at will across their forward line.

Calder Cannons:

 #14 Zach Guthrie– Played a role early in defence for the Cannons but largely struggled like most of his teammates. Was very quiet in the second half, finishing with 14 disposals for the day.

#28 Ben Ronke– Arguably Calder’s best player for the day. Showed off his speed with a big 30m sprint in an attempt to chase down an opponent on the wing. Ronke won the ball at the clearances in the centre and was able to get the ball inside 50 for Calder. One of the few Cannons who can hold their head up high.

 #47 Jackson McDonald– Flashed in and out of the contest. When he had the ball in hand he was good, but struggled to get to the right areas and find the football. Has shown some good form throughout this year.

Weekend That Was – Round 17

CC - Tyson Lever

BLOWOUTS, close finishes and wet weather featured in round 17 of the TAC Cup.

In the first game of the round, Calder Cannons held on to defeat a fast finishing Western Jets side.

After trailing at three-quarter time, the Jets levelled the scores twice but Jean-Luc Velissaris‘ last minute goal secured the Cannons’ spot in seventh place.

Ben Ronke was the Cannons’ best, collecting 31 disposals and seven tackles, dominating the clearances for the home side. Tyson Lever also found the footy, with 33 disposals to his name.

For the Jets, bottom-age AFL Academy member Lachlan Fogarty had a whopping 16 tackles to go with his 33 disposals. The Jets laid 96 tackles with Brodie Romensky (12 tackles) also hitting double figures, but it wasn’t enough to get the Jets over the line.

Forward Cameron Rayner backed up his bag of seven from the week before with five goals.

Up in Ballarat, the cold weather suited the home side with North Ballarat Rebels accounting for the Eastern Ranges by 22-points.

Hugh McCluggage continued his sublime form with 29 disposals and two goals, while Willem Drew was a standout in the contested situations with 30 disposals, seven marks and nine tackles for the afternoon.

Dylan Clarke once again found the football for the Ranges with 33 disposals and nine tackles, but his kicking let him down once again going at less than 50%.

At Deakin Reserve, Oakleigh Chargers pulled off a surprise upset over the highly rated Murray Bushrangers.

The Chargers led at all the main breaks to take the four points, winning by 14-points. Jack Higgins continued his good ball winning capabilities with 31 disposals, but it was Louis Cunningham (24 disposals) who shone across half back and was Oakleigh’s best.

Patrick Kerr made his return from a finger injury, but was well held by Ryan Garthwaite who kept him to a single goal.

Will Brodie had 20 disposals but attracted close attention from his opponents at the stoppages. Harry Morrison has shown some good signs since returning from a back injury and finished the afternoon with 17 disposals.

Out at Preston, Gippsland Power were far too strong for Northern Knights winning by 47-points.

Ben Ainsworth showed he is more than just a small forward, collecting 26 disposals and booting three goals. Ainsworth spent most of the first quarter in the middle, before playing the rest of the game forward pinch hitting through the middle.

Nathan Voss was also lively inside 50, finishing with three goals.

For the Knights, Lachlan Murphy racked up 28 disposals spending most of the contest on the inside. Patrick Lipinski was quiet, but still managed to accumulate 23 disposals but it was Lachlan Wilson who finished as the leading ball winner with 35 disposals and six marks.

Sandringham Dragons went into their clash with Bendigo Pioneers, knowing that a victory by about 25 goals was going to be enough to snatch fourth spot off the Bushies.

At half-time, all signs pointed to that result with Dragons leading 87 to six. However, Bendigo hit back in the third term winning the quarter by a point.

The last quarter showed that Sandy can’t become complacent with many players running forward of the ball in an attempt to score with some moments of play that screamed out players being selfish. In the end, the Dragons won by 96-points but not enough to avoid an elimination final.

Andrew McGrath was the standout for Sandringham with 40 disposals and nine clearances, with Tim Taranto also prominent with 33 disposals, nine marks and eight tackles. Will Setterfield played his best game of the season finishing the afternoon with 29 disposals in an effort that would’ve pleased the GWS recruiters who were watching on.

Jack Scrimshaw had 21 disposals, but his ball use at times was poor with multiple clangers affecting his overall kicking efficiency. Hamish Brayshaw spent most of the game up forward, kicking 4.4.

The young Pioneers side didn’t have too many positives, but bottom-ager Lochie O’Brien was their standout with 24 disposals. Laine Fitzgerald (26 disposals and 10 marks) and Darby Henderson (27 disposals) showed the future is bring for the Pioneers.

The final match of the round at Simonds Stadium had everything to play for, with the winner being proclaimed as the TAC Cup minor premiers.

In a match that seesawed for most of the day, Dandenong Stingrays ran out winners by 14-points over Geelong Falcons.

Mason De Wit used his left boot well finishing the afternoon with 22 disposals, while Myles Poholke backed up his good game against Murray with 21 disposals and six marks.

Paddy Dowling (28 disposals), Mitch Diamond (25 disposals) and Sam Simpson (23 disposals) worked hard through the midfield for the Falcons but they were unable to hang on with the Stingrays booting the last three goals of the contest.