Tag: Myles Poholke

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.

AFL Draft Combine 2016 Day 3 results

ollie-florent

Day 3 was an action packed day for the 2016 AFL Draft prospects, with plenty of testing to keep the players occupied over the course of the day.

Vic Metro co-captain Jordan Gallucci broke the standing vertical jump record, whilst it was Jarrod Berry, Oliver Florent and Griffin Logue who performed extremely well in the beep test.

DAY 3 RESULTS:

Beep test
Jarrod Berry (level 15.1)
Oliver Florent (15.1)
Griffin Logue (15.1)
Harry Morrison (14.12)
Dylan Clarke (14.12)
Sam Powell-Pepper (14.7)
Liam Baker (14.5)
Tom Williamson (14.5)
Patrick Lipinski (14.5)
Jordan Gallucci (14.5)

20 metre sprint
Jacob Allison (2.87 seconds)
Ben Ainsworth (2.90)
Josh Rotham (2.92)
Josh Williams (2.93)
Bailey Morrish (2.93)
Taylin Duman (2.93)
Esava Ratugolea (2.93)
Will Hayward (2.94)
Tony Olango (2.94)
Shai Bolton (2.95)

Repeat sprint total (six x 30metre sprints)
Jordan Gallucci (24.36 seconds)
Andrew McGrath (24.44)
Bailey Morrish (24.83)
Jarrod Berry (24.99)
Ben Ainsworth (25.01)
Kym LeBois (25.08)
Griffin Logue (25.09)
Shai Bolton (25.10)
Myles Poholke (25.20)
Jacob Allison (25.30)

Agility
Tom Williamson (8.15 seconds)
Jack Maibaum (8.19)
Sam Powell-Pepper (8.24)
Harry Morrison (8.26)
Oliver Florent (8.26)
Matt Guelfi (8.29)
Isaac Cumming (8.29)
Ben Ainsworth (8.36)
Jack Scrimshaw (8.39)
Andrew McGrath (8.38)

Standing vertical jump
Jordan Gallucci (89cm)**
Esava Ratugolea (76)
Will Hayward (73)
Griffin Logue (71)
Bailey Morrish (71)
Shai Bolton (68)
Callum Brown (68)
Josh Rotham (67)
Max Lynch (67)
Jacob Allison (67)
Jack Bowes (67)
Tom Williamson (67)

Running vertical jump (left foot)
Andrew McGrath (96cm)
Shai Bolton (94)
Cameron Zurhaar (92)
Brennan Cox (92)
Tony Olango (91)
Jordan Gallucci (91)
Oliver Florent (90)
Bailey Morrish (90)
Will Hayward (90)
Esava Ratugolea (89)
Tom Williamson (88)
Harry Morrison (88)

Running vertical jump (right foot)
Griffin Logue (91cm)
Bailey Morrish (91)
Esava Ratugolea (89)
Jordan Gallucci (86)
Andrew McGrath (85)
Ben Ainsworth (84)
Tom Williamson (83)
Jack Scrimshaw (83)
Declan Watson (83)
Mitchell Hinge (83)
Jack Bowes (82)

** – Gallucci broke the record set by Marvin Baynham of 88cm set in 2014.

AFL Draft Combine 2016 Day 2 results

jonty-scharenberg-2

Day 2 saw players be put under the spotlight with medicals from clubs, as well as interviews with media and AFL clubs.

Players also completed testing for hand-eye coordination and reaction time, such as Ben Ainsworth attempting to hit the coloured lights in the image below.

Friday night saw players undertake the kicking, clean hands and goal kicking tests with the following players scoring well.

Vision of SA Under 18 players can be found under the SANFL YouTube account.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/embed?listType=playlist&list=UUM4dDlrOwCdPQrV_GK8Cjag[/embedyt]

Results:

Clean hands test (score out of a possible 30)
Ben Jarman (28)
Oliver Florent (28)
Ryan Garthwaite (28)
Callum Brown (27)
Jarrod Berry (27)
Will Hayward (27)
Patrick Lipinski (27)
Sam Powell-Pepper (27)
Jack Bowes (27)
Isaac Cumming (26)
Joe Atley (26)
Myles Poholke (26)
Jonty Scharenberg (26)
Harry Himmelberg (26)
Jack Maibaum (26)

Kicking test (score out of a possible 30)
Jordan Ridley (27)
Isaac Cumming (26)
Jarrod Berry (25)
Ben Long (25)
Sam Walker (25)
Josh Williams (25)
Ben Jarman (24)
Tom Williamson (24)
Dylan Clarke (24)
Kym LeBois (23)
Willem Drew (23)
Josh Battle (23)
Jake Waterman (23)

Goalkicking test (score out of a possible 30)
Sam Powell-Pepper (30)
Harry Morrison (25)
Joe Atley (25)
Josh Williams (25)
Jonty Scharenberg (25)
Ryan Garthwaite (25)
Zachary Sproule (25)
Tim English (25)
Liam Baker (25)
Ben Jarman (24)
Tyson Stengle (24)

Stars to shine bright at the National AFL Draft Combine

ben-jarman

FOR the draft crop of 2016, the National AFL Draft Combine is the first sign that their AFL dreams are a step closer to fruition. An invitation to the AFL Draft Combine means that at least five AFL clubs have expressed interest in the player. The AFL Draft Combine is a way for clubs to determine the players’ physical strengths as well as getting one-on-one time through combine interviews.

Draftees take on each other in a series of tests that challenge their speed, endurance, reflexes and skills to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Combine results are taken into account by clubs when deciding between players and whether they believe they can take the next step into the AFL. A total of 81 players have been invited to the 2016 AFL Draft Combine.

Matt Balmer takes a look at who might be the standouts in the testing which runs from Friday to Sunday.


Thursday:

Players will begin to arrive at Etihad Stadium before a welcome will be held for all 81 players in attendence. Not all players will be able to test due to injuries, but they will sit in on interviews and medicals with clubs early in the combine.

Thursday also sees heights and weight taken, along with all the body sizing and measurements such as skin folds and tricept sizes. My spies have told me Ollie Florent will be a likely winner for the biggest hands at the combine.

The media will also be in attendance on Thursday afternoon with Kevin Sheehan speaking alongside Jonty Scharenberg, Jy Simpkin and Sam Powell-Pepper.

Friday:

More medicals and interviews for players when they arrive for another day. Friday night from 7pm-9.30pm will be the hand balling, kicking and goal kicking tests.

The Matthew Lloyd clean hands/handpassing test measures how well a player collects the football and is able to dispose of it using a handball. There are three targets set up on both the left and right side at distances of 6m, 8m and 10m. An official will roll out or throw a ball at the player and instruct them where to handball the ball to. This is done six times and a score from 1-5 is allocated to each handball depending on how good it is.

Who could win? Hugh McCluggage‘s hands in stoppages are outstanding, whilst Andrew McGrath has the highest TAC Cup handball efficiency with 93 per cent of his handballs hitting the target.

The Brad Johnson goal kicking test will measure a players accuracy kicking for goal. Four kicking points are designated with players taking five kicks in total; two set shots (35m out in either pocket), two snaps (20m out, one left foot and one right foot) and one kick on the run (40m out directly in front). The player has 70 seconds to complete the test. A score is then worked out from the amount of goals and behinds a player kicks.

Who could win? Vic Country forward Josh Battle has a superb kick on him from short or long range distances in front of goal. Again, Hugh McCluggage has shown he can push forward and hit the scoreboard throughout 2016.

The Nathan Buckley kicking test measures players kicking efficiency over six kicks. Six targets (three on each side) are set out at distances of 20m, 30m and 40m. An official will call out a target at random to the kick, who will then to proceed to hit the target. Each kick is given a score from one to five, with five being a perfect kick.

Who could win? West Australian Josh Rotham is one of the best kicks in the draft pool, his teammate tall ruckman Tim English is another who uses the ball well. Harry Morrison, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Alex Villis and Harry Perryman are others that should perform well in this test.

Saturday:

The biggest day of the carnival will see sprints, agility, jumps and the beep test held on the purpose built floor on Etihad.

Sprints will be held in the morning , whilst the afternoon will conclude with the beep test.

Who could win in the sprints? Exciting WA midfielder Shai Bolton will test extremely well in both the 20m sprint and the agility test. Back in 2014, Bolton ran a sub 3s 20m sprint and under 8s for the agility test, considered elite.

Brandan Parfitt and Cedric Cox are among others who has shown off their speed at times this season while Jordan Gallucci should perform well in the agility test. Vic Country teammates Ben Ainsworth (8.00 seconds) and Jarrod Berry (7.80 seconds) were superb in TAC Cup preseason testing, while Stingrays defender Bailey Morrish was just behind Berry running 7.81 seconds. Queenslander Josh Williams showed a remarkable dash of speed in a division two National Under 18s Championships game earlier in the season.

Murray Bushrangers tall Esava Ratugolea is another who tested well in the past (2.92s) as has South Australian excitement machine Kym Lebois.

The vertical leap test is always an interesting test with vertical jump and running vertical jump (left and right foot) measured.

Who could win in the jumps? South Australian tall utility Brennan Cox was superb in the preseason testing in the SANFL, recording over 90cm off either foot in the running vertical jump. Ruckman Tim English, Esava Ratugolea and Tony Olango could test well above their counterparts, but it was Stingrays defender Bailey Morrish who beat all comers in the TAC Cup preseason testing with a vertical leap of 81cm.

The shuttle run/beep test or multistage fitness test depending on where you’re from is another that is closely watched by clubs. Most are looking for kids to push out one last level on the test, rather than take the easy option and drop out early. Sometimes the dedication and commitment from players can lead to them ‘spewing’ up their lunch- but an effect that some clubs might put down as a big tick in their notebook.

Who could win in the beep test? Tim Taranto will be an early front runner, having run a 15.9 in the preseason. His Sandringham Dragons team mate Ollie Florent is another who might perform well. If Jack Graham tests, he could be South Australia’s best.

Sunday:

The final day of the combine will see the 3km time trial run in groups of 10-15. The 3km time trial is one of the most strutinised tests, players pushing themselves to the limit deserve a pat on the back- while those that cruse through without little effect might come under the eyes of recruiters when they pour over all their data.

The 3km time trial has gotten faster every season, with the record being broken for three years running.

Who could win the 3km time trial? Possible number one draft pick Andrew McGrath should run well, but will his heavy work load over the last few months affect him? Again Tim Taranto will be another who could perform well.


Invites:

Small Defenders/Midfielders/Forwards

Ben Ainsworth- Vic Country
Liam Baker- Western Australia
Shai Bolton- Western Australia
Callum Brown- Vic Metro
Cedric Cox- Vic Country
Joshua Daicos- Vic Metro
Zac Fisher- Western Australia
Ben Jarman- South Australia
Kym Lebois- South Australia
Andrew McGrath- Vic Metro
Brandan Parfitt- Northern Territory
Tyson Stengle- South Australia

Medium Defenders 

Jarrod Berry- Vic Country
Isaac Cumming- NSW/ACT
Taylin Duman- Vic Metro
Ben Long- NT
Bailey Morrish- Vic Country
Harry Morrison- Vic Country
Harry Perryman- NSW/ACT
Sam Walker- South Australia
Tom Williamson- Vic Country
Alex Witherden- Vic Country
Alex Villis- South Australia

Tall Defenders

Brennan Cox- South Australia
Ryan Garthwaite- NSW/ACT
Elliot Himmelberg- Queensland
Griffin Logue- Western Australia
Harrison Macreadie- NSW/ACT
Jack Maibaum- Vic Metro
Sam McLarty- Vic Metro
Jordan Ridley- Vic Metro
Joshua Rotham- Western Australia
Jack Scrimshaw- Vic Metro
Declan Watson- Queensland

Medium Midfielders

Jacob Allison- Queensland
Joseph Atley- Vic Country
Hamish Brayshaw- Vic Metro
Will Brodie- Vic Country
Jack Bowes- Queensland
Dylan Clarke- Vic Metro
Willem Drew- Vic Country
Judah Dundon- Vic Metro
Jordan Gallucci- Vic Metro
Jack Graham- South Australia
Matt Guelfi- Western Australia
Oscar Junker- Vic Metro
Hugh McCluggage- Vic Country
Kobe Mutch- NSW/ACT
Sam Petrevski-Seton- Western Australia
Myles Poholke- Vic Country
Sam Powell-Pepper- Western Australia
Luke Ryan- VFL
Jonty Scharenberg- South Australia
Will Setterfield- NSW/ACT
Daniel Venables- Vic Metro
Josh Williams- Queensland

Medium Forwards

Joshua Begley- Vic Metro
Benjamin Davis- NSW/ACT
Sam Fisher- NSW/ACT
Oliver Florent- Vic Metro
Will Hayward- South Australia
Mitchell Hinge- South Australia
Patrick Lipinski- Vic Metro
Quinton Narkle- Western Australia
Mark O’Connor- International
Brad Scheer- Queensland
Jy Simpkin- Vic Country
Tim Taranto- Vic Metro
Cameron Zurhaar- Western Australia

Tall Forwards/Rucks

Josh Battle- Vic Country
Sean Darcy- Vic Country
Timothy English- Western Australia
Jack Henry- Vic Country
Patrick Kerr- Vic Metro
Max Lynch- NSW/ACT
Todd Marshall- NSW/ACT
Mitchell McCarthy- Vic Country
Tony Olango- NT
Esava Ratugolea- Vic Country
Zachary Sproule- NSW/ACT
Jake Waterman- Western Australia

By the states:

International (1):
NSW/ACT (11):
Northern Territory (3):
Queensland (6):
South Australia (10):
Vic Country (18):
VFL (1):
Vic Metro (19):
Western Australia (12):

Under 18 All Stars game ultimate preview

Allies - Kobe Mutch

AUSTRALIA’S top teenage footballers will take part in a new concept that is aimed to feature the best players from the 2016 draft pool.

Friday’s Under 18 All Stars match will see players divided up into two teams to play against each other in an event that the AFL hope will be in front of a blockbuster crowd at Punt Road Oval following the AFL Grand Final Parade.

The two teams have been named after AFL greats Chris Judd and Michael O’Loughlin and will be a part of the AFL’s changing program for the Grand Final weekend.

The league has made the most of the Grand Final Day public holiday and the movement of the Grand Final parade to the MCG precinct, where the junior talent coming through will be recognised.

Current NAB AFL Academy coach Brenton Sanderson will coach the Chris Judd teams, while NSW/ACT & Allies coach Tadhg Kennelly will coach the Michael O’Loughlin teams.

The match will be broadcast live on FOX FOOTY from 1.30pm on Friday.


Likely Teams:

The final U18 All Stars teams. ** Subject to late changes.
The final U18 All Stars teams. ** Subject to late changes.

** Will Setterfield‘s replacement is to be confirmed- We believe it is Mitchell Hinge**

With a five day turnaround for a large amount of the players due to the WAFL Colts, SANFL Reserves and TAC Cup Grand Finals over the weekend, there are many sore bodies.

Will Brodie hurt his nose in an incident with an umpire on Sunday and will miss the contest despite training this afternoon. Murray Bushrangers outside midfielder Harry Morrison will replace Brodie.

Will Setterfield was still in a sling on Sunday at the TAC Cup Grand Final and is expected to miss with Mitchell Hinge believed to be taking his place.

Key Defender Griffin Logue is also out for Team Judd, with Dandenong Stingrays defender Bailey Morrish taking his place.

There were also a few injury issues at training with many players on light duties. Sam Petrevski-Seton copped a knock below the knee, which affected his ankle and trained for five minutes only. Petrevski-Seton appears likely to play, but West Coast Father/Son prospect Jake Waterman is in more doubt after failing to train with what appeared to be a groin complaint.


Star Power:

On the outset, Team Judd look the most talented on paper. Featuring Andrew McGrath, Hugh McCluggage and Jack Bowes– all of whom could challenge for the number one draft pick. Up forward, they feature Josh Battle and Todd Marshall, whilst down back Declan Watson and Jack Maibaum will hold down the fort.

Harry Perryman will be a name to watch after being relatively left alone since the Under 18 championships. The GWS academy member has spent the last two months playing for his local club Collingullie-GP, hitting the scoreboard and playing through the midfield.

Tim Taranto and Ben Ainsworth are two others from Team Judd that may feature in the Top 10 come November.

For Team O’Loughlin, Jack Scrimshaw will be one of the stars worth watching. The rebounding defender has a classy left foot and was one of the best players on the ground on Sunday. Despite missing inside midfielder Will Brodie, players such as Dylan Clarke, Jonty Scharenberg and Willem Drew will likely step up in his absence. After a steller game for the Murray Bushrangers on Sunday, Ryan Garthwaite will be a likely opponent on his Bushrangers teammate Todd Marshall.

Up forward Patrick Kerr, Zach Sproule and Jake Waterman will make up their forward line whilst West Australian midfielder Sam Petrevski-Seton will look to perform well to keep his name in the first handful of picks.

Excitement machine Cedric Cox hasn’t been spoken about enough this season and the little known 19-year-old is a big chance for a Top 20 pick on draft night.


Surprise Packets:

South Australian medium forward Will Hayward has jumped out as a surprise inclusion. Hayward kicked a bag of nine goals in the SANFL U18 Preliminary Final for North Adelaide and another good performance on Friday may see him find a spot in the first half of the draft.

DRAFT PROFILE: WILL HAYWARD

Murray Bushrangers ruckman Esava Ratugolea has plenty of X-Factor and leap like no other AFL Draft prospect. Ratugolea continues to show glimpses after an eight goal haul earlier in the season saw him drafted into the Vic Country team late.

DRAFT PROFILE: ESAVA RATUGOLEA

Little known Cameron Zurhaar from East Fremantle is one to watch. The medium forward has kicked averaged 16.6 disposals in the WAFL Colts this year.

Isaac Cumming is flying under the radar and the GWS academy member may find himself as a national draft selection. Cumming was nominated for the National Combine and the smart half back flanker rebounded the ball well in the Under 18 championships.

Willem Drew played two excellent TAC Cup finals games for the North Ballarat Rebels, averaging 23 (13 contested) disposals and seven clearances in the 2016 TAC Cup. The inside midfielders contested ball winning is superb, but does lack some speed around the ground.

Brennan Cox made the All-Australian team after a strong championships down back for South Australia. Cox has played up forward for the Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL but looks likely to start in the defence.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2duh-DJIhU[/embedyt]


Key Matchups:

Willem Drew vs Hugh McCluggage

Teammates at the North Ballarat Rebels, the pair will be opponents in the big clash on Friday. Both represented Vic Country in the Under 18 championships, but McCluggage was more prominant. At TAC Cup level, Drew’s contested ball winning abilities are greater than McCluggage’s- But McCluggage’s work in traffic is elite and is his advantage despite not winning a large chunk of contested ball. McCluggage can also push forward and hit the scoreboard, something that Drew hasn’t showed throughout this season. Drew does lay plenty of tackles and win the clearances, but does lack a touch of pace and class with his skills with him at times just bombing the ball forward off his boot without looking.  

Tim English vs Max Lynch

It looks likely that the first ruck contest of the game will have West Australian tall English and NSW/ACT ruck Lynch. English only featured as the number one ruck in the final championships game, but has an elite leap and his footskills are better than some of the midfielders running around in the game. Despite being skinny in appearance, it makes for an interesting contest against former junior goalkeeper Lynch. Lynch’s form in the latter half of the season was very good for the Bushrangers and the GWS academy member may have pushed himself into a national draft selection. 

Jack Scrimshaw vs Tim Taranto

Sandringham Dragons key players Scrimshaw and Taranto may play on each other. Scrimshaw is a rebounding defender, with a pinpoint pass and was a strong player in the TAC Cup Grand Final. Scrimshaw does have the ability to rack up the clangers with his foot at times and when he’s off- he’s off. Taranto was a consistent performer right throughout the year playing through the midfield and across half forward. A good showing from either, could see them really put their hand up for Top Five players on clubs boards. 

Jack Maibaum vs Patrick Kerr

With Griffin Logue a late out for Team Judd, expect Maibaum to have first crack at strong Vic Metro forward Kerr. Both played together in the Vic Metro winning Under 18 championship team and won All Australia honours with Maibaum’s strength will be the reason he should get first chance at stopping Kerr. Kerr however is a tough match up, with strong hands overhead and one of the fastest forwards over 10m on a lead. Maibaum has played both forward and defence throughout 2016, but averaged the third most spoils in the Under 18 championships.

Ryan Garthwaite vs Todd Marshall

The pair were teammates on Sunday, but loom likely to match up on each other. Garthwaite is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the draft pool, while Marshall has shown some superb glimpses at times. Garthwaite collected 24 disposals on Sunday as one of his teams best performers, whilst Marshall was kept reasonably quiet from Ari Sakeson with just two kicks for two goals in the TAC Cup Grand Final. If Marshall can put in a strong performance that recruiters are wanting, he could keep his name amongst the top ten names. Garthwaite despite an awkward kicking style, does use to ball well more often than not and has done a great job down back this season. 


Predictions

Team Judd on paper looks too strong for Team O’Loughlin. Team Judd’s midfield looks too star studded, despite Tim English likely giving Team O’Loughlin first use at the ball. If Team O’Loughlin’s contested midfield brigade can fire, they could give the star studded Judd side a run for their money.

It would be hard to go past Andrew McGrath for BOG honours, but there are multiple players from either side that are capable of changing a game. 


Details:

Team O’Loughlin v Team Judd
1.30pm, Punt Road Oval
September 30th
Live on FOX FOOTY 1.30pm
Tweets: @afldraftcentral


Matt Balmer’s predicted starting line up:

Possible line ups

Top talent on show on AFL Grand Final weekend

MB - Will Brodie

In a new initiative announced by the AFL, the best Under 17 and Under 18 talent will play games on the Grand Final day long weekend under the eyes of recruiters and fans.

The Under 18 All Stars game will be played at Punt Road Oval at 1.30pm, broadcast on Fox Footy on Grand Final Eve (Friday 30th September). The Under 17 game will be played as a curtain-raiser to the AFL Grand Final beginning from 10am with a live stream on AFL.com.au.

For more information on the initiative click here:

Under 18 squad:

Under 18 squad ALL STARS

Under 17 squad:

Under 17 squad

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.

Week 2 finals preview

SD - Andy McGrath

WITH the first week of finals done and dusted, there is no turning back for any side now, with every match a do-or-die clash.

Last weekend we farewelled the Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges as Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers advanced to the semi-finals.

In the qualifying finals, Murray Bushrangers and Geelong Falcons advanced through to the preliminary finals at the expense of the Dandenong Stingrays and North Ballarat Rebels who now face sudden-death semi-finals against the successful metropolitan teams


Dandenong Stingrays vs. Sandringham Dragons

The minor premiers looked completely in control during their first quarter against the Murray Bushrangers, but were eventually overrun by the Bushies in the last three quarters.

Sandringham almost looked like making a shock exit late in the match against Eastern Ranges and indeed trailed for most of the game.

But a couple of late goals saw the Dragons get home by two points in a thriller.

This weekend is expected to be another beauty with both teams having legitimate claims to victory.

Sandringham has a star studded midfield, while Dandenong has consistent players all over the field.

The five questions that need answering:

1 Can the likes of Myles Poholke, Tom Glen and Tom Jok win enough inside ball to topple the Dragons classy midfield?

2 Will the inclusion of Sam Fowler who missed last week’s qualifying final be one that helps get Dandenong over the line?

3 Can Josh Battle repeat his six-goal haul from last week?

4 Who will the Dragons move to full back if their first choice defender is beaten? Would Andy McGrath have the ability to play on Battle?

5 How will the teams adjust to a game expected to be vastly different to the ones they played last week given their opposition’s styles?

Dandenong Stingrays:

The star: Josh Battle

Underrated: Myles Poholke

Danger man: Sam Fowler

Watch for: Dan Allsop

Sandringham Dragons:

The star: Andy McGrath

Underrated: Hamish Brayshaw

Danger man: Tim Taranto

Watch for: Will Setterfield

How does the match play out?

I anticipate both sides will take a disciplined approach to the match, with a lower scoring game my tip.

Sandringham will attempt to win plenty of the ball through midfield, while Dandenong’s defence is the best in the league and those players will read the play and come off their men to spoil other contests.

The key will be whether Dandenong can keep the ball in their own hands’ long enough to keep it off Sandringham’s premium ball users.

The Stingrays midfield should aim to nullify the likes of McGrath and Ollie Florent who are two of their better ball users, while keeping Tim Taranto on a tight leash.

Dandenong has the more damaging forward line, with Battle, Sam Fowler, Dan Allsop and Tom De Koning all able to kick bags on their day.

Sandringham’s defence will have its work cut out trying to reduce one-on-one contests, particularly with Battle and De Koning.

Up the other end, the Dragons’ forward line is also capable of kicking a big score, but it will need to make the most of its opportunities against the stringent Stingray’s defence.

Sandringham’s Lachlan Filipovic is likely to win the ruck battle against Dylan Atkins to give his mids first possession, but the Dandenong midfield is willing to do the hard stuff.

Tip: Dandenong by 2 points

I could certainly see Sandringham winning this contest, but as good as the Dragons’ midfield is, I feel the Stingrays have the more consistent line-up across the field.

Therefore I will tip the Stingrays in a thriller, but the result could honestly go either way.


North Ballarat Rebels vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Oakleigh Chargers’ dream of a three-peat and four premierships in five years is still alive, with a preliminary final awaiting them if they can defeat the wounded Rebels.

The Rebels have been sensational in the second half of the year, but have limped into this semi-final on the back of a string of injuries in the past fortnight.

James Gow was a late withdrawal last week with appendicitis and both Jarrod Berry and Jacob Wheelahan are omissions through injury this week along with Todd Clode who was suspended in last week’s fiery clash.

North Ballarat still has their stars in Hugh McCluggage, Willem Drew and Cedric Cox through the midfield, but will require players such as bottom-age prospect Trent Reed to step up on the big stage.

Oakleigh got through last week’s thumping win over Calder Cannons unscathed and will be fresh to take on the Rebels.

The five questions that need answering:

1 How will North Ballarat cope with the losses of Berry and Wheelahan?

2 Can Patrick Kerr have a bigger influence on the match this weekend?

3 Will we see a highlight reel of sensational runs down the field given both sides contain a great deal of pace?

4 Can the likes of Shannon Beks and Sam White stand up and deliver for the Rebels to kick them a winning score?

5 Will Oakleigh adopt a similar style to Geelong last week and place a defensive midfielder on Hugh McCluggage?

North Ballarat Rebels:

The star: Hugh McCluggage

Underrated: Tom Williamson

Danger man: Cedric Cox

Watch for: Willem Drew

Oakleigh Chargers:

The star: Patrick Kerr

Underrated: Taylin Duman

Danger Man: Jordan Ridley

Watch for: Josh Daicos

How does the match play out?

I predict Oakleigh will try and run North Ballarat off its feet. The Chargers will look to try and get a big score on the board early and dent the Rebels’ confidence.

On the other side of the coin, North Ballarat will look to limit the amount of effective inside 50s and not get caught on the counter attack.

North Ballarat’s midfield is stronger, Oakleigh’s forward line is stronger and both teams’ defences you could throw a blanket over.

Lloyd Meek should get the better of Ned Reeves in the ruck and with Todd Lawrence assisting, expect the Rebels to have first hands to it.

McCluggage must get off the chain and get plenty of it, with Cox and Williamson other good ball users who can hurt the opposition.

As good as the likes of Willem Drew and Callan Wellings are, they are better at extracting it and getting it forward rather than using outside pace or footskills.

Likewise, Oakleigh will look to Jack Higgins and Taylin Duman, with Lachie Walker and Campbell Lane at the coal face.

If Oakleigh’s forward line gets as much supply as it did last week, it is hard to see the Chargers losing here.

North Ballarat need to win the midfield convincingly and get plenty of forward 50 entries to have any chance of victory.

Tip: Oakleigh by 35 points

It pains me to predict such a large win given the Rebels were a genuine premiership contender, but given their omissions and the strength of Oakleigh, it is hard to see North Ballarat really pushing the Chargers.

Hopefully the Rebels can prove me wrong and make a real game of it and even upset the apple cart as they have earned it this year.

Scouting notes: Sunday’s TAC Cup Finals

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Matt Balmer’s scouting notes:

Sandringham Dragons 10.17 (77) defeated Eastern Ranges 10.15 (75)

Sandringham Dragons:

#4 Will Setterfield– Incredible performance on the inside from Setterfield. Was the main man in the centre for the Dragons. Laid 16 huge tackles and had nine clearances in his 19 disposals including 13 contested possessions. The GWS academy member is putting some strong form together in the last month.

#5 Andrew McGrath– “Oooo ahhh Andy McGrath” was the call from the TAC Cup Radio guys. McGrath had plenty of agile steps going around the Eastern midfielders. Had 17 disposals by HT but was moved to shut off the dangerous Jaidyn Stephenson during the third term. He kept him goalless and finished with 29 disposals and seven clearances. Didn’t do his Top five stocks any harm.

#7 Corey Lyons– One of Lyons’ best game for the season, kicking the winning goal with a few minutes to go. Had a few clangers but propelled the Dragons inside 50 on multiple occassions. He finished with 30 disposals and his kicking was better than what he’s been at stages throughout the year.

#8 Tim Taranto-Started slowly before spending most the second half in the midfield where he had 17 second half disposals finishing with 26 disposals. Spent some time on the bench in the first half but once he worked into it was very important. When he gets into a rhythm he’s hard to stop.

#10 Jack Scrimshaw– Incredible agility and can squeeze through and get around a pack when needed. He did however kick at 50% missing a few kicks he really needed to hit. I still think he’s there abouts for the top 10, but his kicking isn’t as good as I think a few of us first thought. Had a few brain fades including playing on from 15m out in front of goal, but didn’t look out of place when he spent more time forward in the game.

Eastern Ranges:

#4 Jackson McCormack– Was a spark for the Ranges through the midfield. His kicking was off at stages, but seemed to bob up at times and get involved in a few passages.

#7 Jordan Gallucci– Zippy midfielder who played mostly forward of centre. Kicking was off and he kicked 1.4 in front of goal. Was willing to use either foot to bring the ball inside 50, which he did on eight occassions.

#11 Callum Brown– Was mostly quiet for the contest but was most dangerous closer to goal. Had 18 disposals and three clearances but looms likely for a bid in the second to third round.

#12 Dylan Clarke– Really liked Clarke’s game of 22 disposals (13 contested) and you can’t knock his endeavour to win the ball back. Tackles in hard and wins the ball at the clearances. His kicking was better than it has been in previous weeks but he went missing in the third term. Standing next to him at the Morrish Medal, he’s definitely well built and seems closer to 190cm than I thought.

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson– Incredible game from the bottom-ager who I would consider as my No.1 on my rankings of the 2017 players. Was able to work Sakeson under the ball and run on to multiple goals. Good mark overhead and finished with 4.2. McGrath moving on to him kept him to one disposal for the final quarter.

#17 Hayden Stanley– Thought he was the Ranges’ best in defence. Read the play well in the back half and rebounded the ball well out of defence. A nice long boot who hardly missed a target all day, I would’ve liked to have seen more of him this year.

#51 Josh Begley– Started the match well with two of the first four scoring shots but was largely underwhelming. Is built like a brick wall, but just floated in and out of the game. He kicked a goal late to get them back infront in the final term but it was all Dragons’ way after that.


Murray Bushrangers 15.14 (104) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 12.6 (78)

Dandenong Stingrays:

#1 Luke Dalmau– Played a strong game in defence rebounding the ball well. Is a solid mark overhead and he’s been a good contributor at TAC Cup and APS school boy level this season.

#10 Myles Poholke– Best game I’ve seen Myles play this season. Had a huge opening quarter with 10 disposals and four marks, finishing with 23 disposals. Unfortunately he fizzled out and had just the single touch in the last term when the Stingrays needed him the most. I think he’s a really strong option for a club looking for value later in the draft.

#17 Josh Battle– Battle has the ability to flick a switch and turn a game. His six-goal haul really stood out, which included a burst of three goals in nine minutes in the third term. Roamed more up the ground than he has in the past and looks more suited when he gets further away from the goal square. Has the ability to bang the goals from long ranges as the video below shows.

#24 Oscar Clavarino– A rock in defence for the Stingrays. Although he didn’t win a huge amount of the ball, he was very good in one-on-one contests. His ability to shut down opposition hasn’t been recognised enough in a year where he could’ve well been in the Under 18 All-Australian side.

#40 Nathan Scagliarini– First time I’d watched him closely this season and I thought he provided plenty of energy for the Stingrays. Laid 13 tackles for the afternoon and was willing to take the ball inside 50. Disappointingly he led the clanger count of the weekend with four for the match.

Murray Bushrangers:

#1 Esava Ratugolea– There is plenty to like about Ratugolea, who despite being 194cm has a leap that can make him taller than most opposition. He had 16 hitouts and six marks, but I still feel he’s dropping marks he really needs to take.

#6 Charlie Spargo– Pint sized midfielder who got under some of the Stingrays noses when he drew a few free kicks after ‘dropping his knees.’ Finds the football and generally uses it well when taking it inside 50. GWS academy member eligible for 2017.

#7 Will Brodie– A quiet game by his standards, but still managed to record 19 disposals and 10 clearances. Really turned it on in the first six minutes of the last quarter where he had six disposals ensuring the Stingrays wouldn’t get a sniff. Is travelling ok, but you could make a case that McGrath has overtaken him in the rankings.

#22 Harry Morrison– Missed a big chunk earlier in the season but has come back well rebounding across half back on his right boot. Morrison played further up the ground this week and that might well be his best position. One to watch come their next game, as he probably will start to get some credits with another good game.

#40 Todd Marshall– Looked completely out of it, only finding the ball on five occasions. One passage of play was promising where he collected the ball and kicked it inside 50- But it missed the target. According to whispers he’s battered and bruised up, so the week off comes at a good time.

Finals preview: Sunday’s games

DS - Josh Battle

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges

Of all the matches this weekend, the clash I am most looking forward to is the Sandringham/Eastern match. The reason for this is because I believe both sides have what it takes to win the flag, but only one of them will survive the first week of finals.

Sandringham is one of the more complete sides in the competition, with a midfield to die for and enough about them at both ends to kick a winning score while reducing the opposition’s ability to score at the same time. For me, Sandringham’s midfield is star studded with the likes of Will Setterfield, Tim Taranto, Ollie Florent, Jack Scrimshaw and Andrew McGrath all floating through there.

All those players are potentially top 30 picks, which is absurd to think that one club could have that many early selections. But what do they have around the ground?

McGrath often drops back and Taranto goes forward, but other than the two stars they do have a few that can more than stand up when called upon to do so. Ari Sakeson at centre half back is one to watch, while the twin towers of Hayden McLean and Isaac Morrisby at the other end will be keen to assert themselves on the contest. Throw in Ashley Krakauer and the constantly improving Hamish Brayshaw and the Dragons are more than capable forward of centre.

The only problem is, they face one of the few teams that could beat them at full strength.

Eastern Ranges were my tip for the flag at the start of the year, but due to missing players and their other football commitments, rarely field a full strength team, thus finishing eighth. Their midfield is more blue collar than Sandringham’s with Dylan Clarke, Callum Brown and Josh Begley winning plenty of clearances and contested ball. Jordan Gallucci is the outside run the Ranges need to win the match, while Adam Cerra has plenty of run and talent.

Their forward line is as strong as any with bottom-agers Sam Hayes, Joel Garner and Jaidyn Stephenson all impressive players. In defence, Jack Maibaum is likely to limit the influence of the Dragons’ key defenders and he is someone who has come on in leaps and bounds the last 12 months.


 

What is the key to winning the match?

With the both sets of forwards lines likely to get on top of their opposition defences, I feel the midfield will be where the game is won. It might seem obvious, but the team that can get it to its forwards quicker will provide them with more chances to kick bags. Sandringham is probably able to run it out of defence a little easier so Eastern has its work cut out to get it right.

Who could be the difference for each side?

It is hard to look past Andrew McGrath for the Dragons. Clearly a top five pick, he has pace to burn, good skills and breaks lines. If he was six centimetres taller he would be guaranteed top two pick. If he gets off the chain, it is hard to see Sandringham losing.

For Eastern, Jordan Gallucci is the man to watch. In his bottom-age year he was a beautiful kick, but this year he has not hurt opposition sides by foot like he used to, so hopefully finals will bring the best out of him.

What does Sandringham need to do to win?

Sandringham will need to just win the football at the stoppages. They are ahead of Eastern for pace and outside skill, but need to win the majority of clearances, because if Eastern get it forward too often, the Dragons could be in trouble.

What does Eastern need to do to win?

Eastern must get first use of the pill in the middle. They might not have the outside skill Sandringham have, but they have the inside muscle to dominate the contested ball. They simply must do it and get the ball forward as fast as they can to win it.

Who will win?

Sandringham will go in favourites and I think they will get the job done in a very close match. We know Eastern can really dominate on their day and I feel this could end up a shoot-out with their respective forward lines.

Tip: Sandringham by 8



Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers

It is always exciting when two premiership contenders clash and that is exactly what will happen on Sunday afternoon when the Stingrays face the Murray Bushrangers at Ikon Park. The Stingrays have finished on top of the TAC Cup ladder and will rightfully head in as favourites, but the Bushrangers have enough firepower, particular at either end to get the job done.

Dandenong’s defence is what sets it apart from other sides. The Stingrays have the likes of Reece Piper, Bailey Morrish, Oscar Clavarino and Hunter Clark, all of whom are expected to be drafted in the next 18 months. Throw in Mason DeWit and Luke Dalmau who are also possible chances and the defence is a rock solid back six.

Through the midfield Myles Poholke and Sam Fowler and talented players who can drift forward and kick goals, with Fowler more of a forward/mid, with Poholke the opposite. Over-ager Tom Jok will be keen to show how he’s improved over the season, while Lachlan Gill-Renouf also finds plenty of the football through the middle. Up forward, Josh Battle is the most watched player, as a strong contested grab and reliable set shot, the smart key forward will be a barometer for the Stingrays inside 50. Tom De Koning is a bottom-ager, but already he has shown he is more than capable of kicking a bag on his day, while Dan Allsop and Aaron Darling cannot be allowed too much space.

The battle in the ruck will be interesting when Dylan Atkins takes on the athletic Esava Ratugolea. Ratugolea will look to give the Bushrangers midfielders first hands, with Will Brodie sure to be there at the coal face. The ever reliable top five pick will put in a strong performance, in a midfield with big ball winners who can drift forward and impact the scoreboard such as James Cousins, Louis Pinnuck and Isaac Wallace.

Murray also has a formidable forward line with top 10 pick Todd Marshall standing at centre half forward, while Max Lynch will rotate between full forward and the ruck. Trent McMullan could become an option if the Stingrays get on top of the key tall timber, while Lachlan Tiziani and Charlie Spargo will make the most of their opportunities.

Up the other end, Zach Sproule will have a tough job containing Battle, while Harry Morrison and Ryan Garthwaite will be the guys that players look to get the ball into the hands of coming off half-back. Overall, the Bushrangers have a consistent line-up across the park.


 

What is the key to winning the match?

Winning the one-on-one battles will be the difference in this game. There are so many good one-on-one matchups, beginning with Atkins and Ratugolea in the ruck, Poholke and Brodie in the middle, Marshall/Lynch and Clavarino/Dalmau, Battle and Sproule and Piper and Tiziani. The side that wins the most one-on-ones in these key duels will win. They are all talented players who can make the difference for their respective sides and that is what will be telling in this match.

Who could be the difference for each side?

Josh Battle is a barometer up forward for the Stingrays, and if he can get off the chain against Sproule, then he could cause Murray some real headaches in the match.

For Murray, Will Brodie is the star of the show and he will need to assert his authority on the contest and beat Poholke at the coal face to ensure his team gets plenty of supply up forward.

What does Dandenong need to do to win?

Dandenong needs to play smart football, because both teams’ defences are sound, but the Murray forward line is very dangerous. The Stingrays need to play an entertaining, fast brand of football to keep the Bushrangers on edge, but be prepared for the counter attack that Murray could produce, with several long kicks in the back half who can really roost the ball over a zone defence.

What does Murray need to do to win?

Murray must make the most of their inside 50s. Dandenong’s defence is the best of the finals teams and the reason why they have finished on top of the ladder. Murray cannot afford to just bomb the ball in, because of how well the Stingrays’ back six operates. The Bushrangers will need to lower their eyes and hit up targets with precision.

Who will win?

I have no idea. That was brutally refreshing wasn’t it? But in all seriousness, you look at this clash and think on one hand, Murray have some of the best tall timber in the league and a strong inside midfield, but you look at Dandenong and think they have the best defence and are capable of stopping the Bushrangers’ forwards. Based on recent form, I will go for Dandenong in an absolute thriller.

Tip: Dandenong by 1.