With now a game or two under their belts, the first-year players are starting to find their groove. Some have certainly been more consistent over the weeks than others, but this week a few new names stood up to earn their spot. This week we looked at the best performing players from last years’ draft and which of your players you should keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
The Geelong and West Coast clash was a game for the first-year players as Liam Ryan proved. The young man dominated the West Coast offensive, picking up three goals in only his third game. He also took home 12 disposals – five contested – three tackles and three intercept possessions, all with a 75 per cent efficiency. His smart play allowed him to be tied the leading goal kicker (Mark LeCras) for his team. Provided he keeps up his efforts, Ryan will have a big future with the Eagles.
Once again, Kelly performed like a seasoned player for Geelong, picking up 19 disposals and 10 contested possessions. Despite being his lowest game numbers-wise so far, Kelly still exceeded expectations. In his first year, he is already holding his own against some of the AFL’s most elite athletes and is on his way to cementing a spot in the starting 18. He kicked an impressive goal in the fourth quarter to further Geelong’s lead, but unluckily for him, West Coast finished on top. Kelly has a big year ahead of him if he keeps playing at this level.
Crowden had the difficult matchup in Steven May, but did not let that lessen his performance. Taken with pick 59 in last year’s AFL National Draft, Crowden has so far smashed expectations. With 13 disposals, five contested, a goal and a 92 per cent efficiency against the Suns, the kid from South Australia dominated in his second game. He also boasted seven score involvements and two goal assists. Fremantle have developed their first years well, and it definitely shows in Crowden.
St. Kilda showcased their number eight pick from the AFL National Draft, Nick Coffield, against Adelaide in Round 3. Coffield played some impressive football in his first game. He made great decisions with the ball in hand, and did not rush his disposals. By half-time, Coffield had 12 disposals, one contested possession, a goal and an outstanding 100 percent disposal efficiency. He was a highlight for the Saints despite the resulting loss. In the end, Coffield picked up 18 disposals and three contested possessions to close the game, and his efficiency finished on 89 per cent. We saw plenty of smart football from this young man, and an eagerness to prove himself. If he takes the rest of his football this way, we might see some remarkable things from Coffield.
In his first win for the Bulldogs, Richards had his fair share of the ball. With 17 disposals, two contested possessions, and a 71 per cent efficiency, Richards more than played his part to take home the win. The second gamer showed a lot fight around the football, taking on his man and laying five strong tackles. Richards showed poise and control around the pill, and with a few more games under his belt, could become a powerful defensive presence for the Dogs.
Again, Naughton had the challenging task of playing on an elite opponent. Matched up on Joe Daniher, Naughton easily held his own and kept Essendon’s key forward off his game. He went onto collect 15 disposals, six contested possessions and finished with 87 per cent disposal efficiency. Many of the Bulldogs’ players showed a better read on Essendon’s movement better than they could, and Naughton was no exception, racking up eight intercept possessions.
Brisbane’s number one pick played some efficient football in Saturday’s clash against Port Adelaide. Rayner dramatically picked up his game from last week’s four disposals with a 50 per cent efficiency. He bumped up it all up to take home nine important disposals – four contested – with an 89 per cent efficiency. He took a great contested grab going back with the flight of the ball which also snagged him a goal. He laid four tackles and had three inside 50s. Brisbane has faced some well performing teams thus far which may be forcing Rayner to push his game even further. With a few more matches, Rayner should fulfil his role even more with the Lions.
If there is one thing Geelong has proved they can do this year, that’s develop young players. Fogarty played some decent football in a tough match against West Coast. His efficiency was not as high as it can be, but he got half the job right. Fogarty will need to work on finishing properly if he’s to become a top tier player. The medium forward picked up 14 disposals, three contested possessions and a goal. He had five goes at scoring but only kicked the one goal. If he sharpens up in the matches to come, those behinds could easily become goals.
There must have been something in the water at the Optus Stadium because Banfield was one of three first year Fremantle players to cap his game off with over a 90 per cent efficiency. Banfield had 11 disposals – six contested – four tackles and a 91 per cent efficiency. He played some dominant football, and his clean plays were a big reason Fremantle came out on top.
Cerra played some efficient football in his second game against the Suns. The young man finished his game with an impressive 90 per cent efficiency from 10 disposals. He played smart football and made lots of clever decisions, but was quiet around the contested ball. Cerra is developing into a fine player along with all of Fremantle’s first year players, but will need to show he can get his own ball going forward.
The dynamic midfielder got to experience his first rivalry clash against Collingwood in Round 3. He got a decent amount of touches, taking home 15 disposals – six contested – with 67 per cent efficiency. Dow is slowly coming into his own, laying two tackles, three intercept possessions, and four score involvements. He is yet to have his big game yet but his efforts need to be noted nonetheless.