Tag: patrick cripps

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Round 23

For some, it’s the last game of footy they’ll play until 2019. For others, they’ll be playing the most important games of footy they’ve ever faced. In our last Keeping Tabs, we look back on a few familiar faces, where they sit for the season, and pay our usual respects to this round’s top performers.

Tim Kelly

Though ineligible to win the NAB Rising Star Award, Kelly without a doubt was 2018’s best first year player. Averaging 23.1 disposals, four clearances, three tackles and three inside 50s across 22 games, Geelong’s newest recruit tallied up 23 goals, placing as the Cat’s fourth highest goal kicker for the season (one behind Patrick Dangerfield). In Round 23, Kelly maintained his class. His power showed out of stoppages, as he collected three clearances and an exciting goal around the body. He finished with two more goals (100 per cent efficiency) and nine score involvements for the afternoon, plus 23 possessions (seven contested) at a disposal efficiency of 74 per cent. Kelly was able to beat his stat sheet on the weekend, taking eight marks (two inside 50s), boasted 24 pressure acts and four inside 50s. Give him one more season, and Kelly could be named in the 40-man All-Australian squad. Though you could argue he was stiff not to get a nod this season, if the Cats claw their way to the end of September, a Norm Smith conversation might not be off the cards either.

Zac Bailey

Bailey injected real class into the Brisbane Lions’ line-up this year, Bailey put on another show for onlookers against the Eagles. Clean with ball in hand, Bailey finished with 20 possessions (six contested) and a list-high 85 per cent disposal efficiency. His first quarter started well, kicking a goal on the run from 30 metres out, and later adding his second in the third quarter (six score involvements). He was able to showcase his strong marking ability, with four marks on the weekend. Bailey topped off an already impressive performance with two tackles, three inside 50s, 364 metres gained, and earned three free kicks. The Lions know what they’re doing with their crop. With Cam Rayner, Hugh McCluggage, Eric Hipwood, Alex Witherden and Bailey, the future’s looking strong for Brisbane.

Aaron Naughton

Though having a few stints up forward this season, it seems Naughton’s continued reliability in the backline was again too much to pass up. Earning himself the final NAB Rising Star nomination for the year, the dependable defender played his role well in minimising Richmond’s forward onslaught. He collected 18 disposals (12 contested) at a 78 per cent disposal efficiency. Naughton took nine marks (five contested) and 12 intercept possessions with only one turnover. He sits atop the Bulldogs list for intercept possessions at 112, but only 54th in the competition. If the Bulldogs remained more consistent with Naughton’s role, perhaps he would have placed higher and received the Rising Star nomination earlier. Nevertheless, his impact is unmistakable, sustaining good football across 23 rounds.

Liam Ryan

Ryan’s game has much to be admired. He’s proven himself as a talented goal kicker (17 goals in 10 games), a slick mover with the ball, and generally just adds a lot of flavour to the plays he produces. Unsurprisingly, this game was no different. The 21-year-old kicked three goals for the game (six score involvements) and collected nine of his 12 possessions out of a contest. His disposal efficiency was a little poor at 58 per cent, but his goal sense and one-on-one work put him above, taking four marks (two contested) and laying four tackles. West Coast are going into the finals with a confident and talented forward line, with Ryan and Willie Rioli adding unfathomable amounts of finesse and agility. Their inclusion this season has made the Eagles a much more dynamic side than the one we saw in 2017.

James Worpel

Taking up the role of Hawthorn’s resident hothead in James Sicily’s absence, Worpel continued to play his footy with great intensity. His work through the midfield proved damaging, collecting 23 possessions (nine contested) at a solid 78 per cent disposal efficiency. He kicked an easy goal from a dropped mark off a Sydney kick-in, had seven score involvements and one goal assist. He worked well going forward with three clearances, four inside 50s and two marks in front of goal. He also had two tackles, 13 pressure acts, five intercept possessions, and two rebound 50s. His work rate was up for four quarters, positioning and using his body well in the contest. 

Jack Higgins

It seems Richmond’s wins at the MCG are getting slimmer with each round heading into September. Higgins expressed his frustrations early on, but found his head and maintained a strong presence in assisting Richmond’s win. The personable youngster collected 18 possessions (nine contested) at 61 per cent disposal efficiency, as well as seven score involvements and two goal assists. His clever tap-down to Jason Castagna inside 50 created an important goal in the third, making up part of his five one per centers for the game. Richmond envisioned a small-forward/midfield role in 2017 for this prospect and showed great interest in his game-average five tackles. This year, the Tigers were able to get what they wanted as Higgins topped his game with 28 pressure acts, and five tackles (three inside 50). With his speed, instincts, pressure and goal sense, Higgins should be well on his way to stardom.

Ben Paton

Paton gave St Kilda something to look at come selection next season with a stellar third-game performance. He gathered 16 disposals (seven contested) and peaked his kicking efficiency at 88.9 per cent with nine kicks. He earned himself a goal (five score involvements and one goal assist), took three marks, laid two tackles and had 19 pressure acts. In such a chaotic game of football, it’s impressive to see a young player hold their nerve and keep their efficiency at such an elevated level. 

Lochie O’Brien

This weekend O’Brien got himself to a lot of the footy even with Carlton’s inability to do much with it. Collecting 22 disposals (four contested) at 58 per cent disposal efficiency, the young Blue maintained a strong presence around the ground, finishing third behind Marc Murphy and Patrick Cripps in possessions. The No.10 pick finished with four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and four rebound 50s. It probably wasn’t the most ideal way to close out an already poor season, but O’Brien may take solace in now having 18 games under his belt come 2019. If the Blues can strengthen their list, they’ll have a better chance of strengthening their draft crop.

Fantastic Five – Memorable moments from the weekend

WITH finals spots sealed across all levels of footy, young stars stood out and one team spoiled another’s top-four aspirations. Meanwhile, an old dark navy blue favourite had a day out in what is always an exciting week of football – the one before September.

 

Walsh pushes for the #1 spot

Geelong Falcons’ Sam Walsh rarely has a bad game, and regular players rarely have a game like Sam Walsh did on the weekend. In one of the performances of the season, Walsh was everywhere in collecting 37 disposals, 10 marks, eight inside-50s, six rebounds and five clearances in Geelong’s 15 point win over Calder. The midfield gun also put three behinds on the scoreboard, while assisting another three times – adding to what was an already stunning all-round performance. With Wildcard Round and the Morrish Medal coming up this weekend, it could be a huge couple of weeks for Walsh, and reward for what has been a fantastic season for the number one pick contender.

 

Knights crash Murray’s top-four party

Northern were set to face Greater Western Victoria in Wildcard Round no matter the result, but that didn’t stop them from completing a huge win against more fancied Murray side away from home. With skipper Braedyn Gillard back in the fold, the Knights have fielded arguably their strongest sides over the last two weeks, and it showed as they came from being behind for the entire game to pip the Bushies in the final term. Flying wingman Justin McInerney was named their best with his 24 disposals, 12 marks and goal, while Adam Carafa was again instrumental through the midfield with 24 touches of his own alongside Josh D’Intinosante (18 disposals, five marks, one goal). Murray now face Bendigo after their fifth-place finish, while Northern face the Rebels on Saturday.

 

Vescio has a day out

Carlton fan-favourite Darcy Vescio absolutely beat up on bottom-placed Essendon to narrowly miss out on what would have been a famed bag of ten goals. The forward maestro both flew high and dominated at ground level to boot the first four goals of the game, while adding the only four majors of the second term. Despite also kicking the opening goal after the main break, Vescio couldn’t quite add a tenth in the second half, contributing 9.2 to her side’s 14.8 in an astonishing effort. Her 18 disposals, seven marks and two tackles rounded out the show, with Carlton finishing the VFLW season in seventh after winning four of their last six games.

 

AFL top eight finalised

With fans frantically going through all the possibilities and calculations, the AFL’s top eight has finally been sealed after what has been one of the most open seasons in recent memory. The only certainty coming into the round was Richmond’s top spot, with West Coast earning second comfortably, while Collingwood and Hawthorn rounded out the top four – separated by just 0.3 per cent. Melbourne are in top form and clinched fifth, pitting them against Geelong, who could breathe a sigh of relief after Port’s loss sealed their spot in the eight. Sydney and GWS are set to clash for the second time in three weeks, with the Giants hoping to reverse the previous result.

 

All-Australian squad revealed

Every year, fans make it known how ‘stiff’ their club’s star players are to miss out on being named in the All-Australian squad, and while there were a few surprise inclusions and omissions, the core of the final 22 will be hard to knock. Locks for the side include ruck stars Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn, with the likes of Tom Mitchell, Patrick Cripps and Clayton Oliver set to make up the midfield. Coleman Medallist Jack Riewoldt is set to be named, with Ben Brown not far behind in the goal-kicking stakes. Down back, Alex Rance seems a mainstay, while West Coast interceptors Jeremy McGovern and Shannon Hurn look likely to feature. All will be revealed tonight, in what is a great night in honouring the fantastic years that these players have produced.

Queensland weekly wrap: Under 17 Futures squad announced; AFL sides go down

THE Under 17 Futures squad has been announced as they ready to face Vic Country and improve to a positive record in the series. Meanwhile, both of the Queensland AFL sides suffered losses and the another round of the Reclink Cup played out.

Under 17 Queensland team named to face Vic County

On Monday the AFL Queensland announced their Under 17 side to face Victoria Country in their third future series game was announced. The game will take place at IKON Park on Sunday, August 12. Queensland has one win and one loss so far, going down to Tasmania then beating NSW/ACT in Southport.

Queensland Under 17 Squad

1. Danial Davidson
3. Hawego Paul Oea
5. Corey Joyce
6. Jack Wingrave
7.Lachlan Barry
8. Coby Williams
9. Connor Budarick
10. Jack Mosley
14. Will Martyn
15. Bruce Reville
16. Campbell Aston
17. Josh Gore
18. Brandon Deslandes
19. Gracen Sproule
21. Matt Fraser
22. Tom Jeffrey
23. Sam Butler
24. Nick Harberer
26. Matt Conroy
27. Ashton Crossley
28. Max Newman
30. Josh Hammond
32. Tom Wischnat
33. Samson Ryan

Lions and Suns go down

The Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns both suffered losses in Round 19 of the AFL. Brisbane were brave for the first half in their 120-78 loss to Cats in Geelong. The Lions were right in the game at half time, only down 48-37 against a finals side. Unfortunately, the home side kicked away in the second half to tune of 11 goals to Brisbane’s six.

Two of Geelong’s favourite sons were the stars of the show. Tom Hawkins bagged seven goals whilst the ‘little master’ Gary Ablett amassed 38 disposals. For Brisbane, Dayne Beams continued a strong second half of 2018, collecting 37 disposals alongside Darcy Gardiner, Lewis Taylor and Dayne Zorko who got their hands on the leather for Brisbane. The Lions next face North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon at the Gabba.

In perhaps their most disappointing loss of the season, Gold Coast went down to fellow stragglers Carlton 79-44 at Metricon last Saturday night. Gold Coast came out hard taking a 14-point lead at the first change. From there though Carlton owned the game. The Blues kicked 11 goals to the Suns’ two over the remaining three quarters to run out 35 point victors.

Patrick Cripps bullied the Suns with 37 disposals and was joined by Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson who had 36 and 29 disposals each. Darcy Lang and Paddy Dow were also strong for Carlton, both kicking two goals apiece and getting a fair bit of the footy.

For Gold Coast, it was Jarryd Lyons again leading the way with 29 disposals. Will Brodie had a career high 27 disposals with Jarrod Witts winning the ruck battle over Matthew Lobbe with 60 hitouts and more than double Lobbe’s possessions.

The Suns have a tough game this week when they face the Melbourne Demons on Sunday afternoon from the MCG.

 

Lions win Reclink Brisbane Community Cup

The Brisbane Lines took out the third annual Reclink Brisbane Community Cup on Sunday July 29, beating the Rocking Horses 6.7 (43) to 5.6 (36).

The Reclink Cup features some of Brisbane’s musicians and politicians squaring off to raise funds for Reclink.

The Reclink Community Cup will make its way all around Australia in August and September, playing in; Hobart, Adelaide, Sydney, Fremantle and Canberra.

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

A GRAND final ticket booked, some memorable wins and the 19 year-old rule continues to work wonders for TAC Cup clubs, in a memorable weekend for football.

Knights book grand final spot

It was always looking to be the likely scenario – Northern Knights taking on Geelong Falcons in the grand final – and it took realistically just one quarter to become a reality. The Knights wasted no time blowing away Murray early before a tighter contest from then on, to set up a rematch with the Falcons. The pair faced just a week earlier in round eight and now meet at Werribee in the decider at 12.30 with the Falcons looking to complete an unbeaten season, while the Knights will be out to cause an upset and claim the flag.

Calder finishes season on a high at home

Reigning TAC Cup Girls premiers Calder Cannons headed into the final round with just one win to their name despite some competitive performances. But at home in the wet, the Cannons upstaged the highly fancied Eastern Ranges to double their wins tally and give their bottom-agers great excitement heading into 2019. Led by captain Madison Prespakis who could well be the first Victorian picked this year, and the exciting bottom-ager Georgia Patrikios, the Cannons had plenty to enjoy as their said goodbye to the 2018 season with a bang.

Carlton claims first AFL victory

It has been a long time since Round 22 last year, and for Carlton fans, it was a moment to savour when they toppled Essendon at the MCG on Saturday. It was no secret both teams were in a rut this season, but the Blues have showed signs of improvement over the first two months, and it culminated in a long-awaited victory. The likes of Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow lead a host of future stars which should fill many Blues fans with optimism going forward.

Old Firm VFLW sides bounce back

After a couple of disappointing losses in round one, Darebin Falcons and Melbourne University got back to what they do best – winning. Given the return of a number of AFLW stars to their respective line-ups, it was no surprise to see an improved performance, and Darebin trounced Richmond, while Melbourne University proved too good for Essendon. While Carlton and Hawthorn remained unbeaten and NT Thunder had a bye, the performances of the standalone VFLW sides (as well as some strong showings from Southern Saints, Williamstown and Casey Demons so far this season) makes for entertaining viewing.

Overagers turn it on

Each TAC Cup club is able to bring back a handful of turning 19 year-olds who missed out on getting drafted the previous year. In some cases, the players are better for it, and the likes of Tom Phillips and Hamish Brayshaw are just some of many who have been recruited on the back of strong over-age seasons. On the weekend, Calder Cannons’ Mitch Podhajski turned it on with 27 disposals, 15 tackles and three goals to be the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week, while fellow overagers Noah Answerth (31 disposals, eight marks) and Austin Hodge (19 disposals, four goals) also lit it up in their respective games.

Team Building 101: From Tiger Turmoil to Tiger Time

REIGNING premier Richmond has historically been poor at team-building and drafting. From the mid-2000s until the mid-2010s, Richmond’s record of drafting players was horrific. Richmond supporters who are “twenty-something” or older, will remember the constant “trolling” by opposition supporters through this period.

The most infamous draft decision, being the selection of Richard Tambling at pick three, in front of the future Hall of Famer Lance Franklin. The forward from Western Australia, turned into the greatest athlete the game has seen, and was selected pick four by Hawthorn, one selection after the now-delisted Tambling. This however, was one of many errors that Richmond made at the time. They simply could not get anything right at the list management level. But now that has changed.

A NEW ERA OF DRAFTING

As soon as the cup is held aloft on the podium of the Grand Final, all other football departments immediately turn their attention to the winning clubs’ list. These football departments run the microscope over the winning clubs’ list to see what lessons they can learn, so that they can be on that stage as soon as possible. 

But this was Richmond. The club who are terrible at drafting! Or were they?

The fact is that Richmond’s football department absolutely nailed every draftee and trade over the past three seasons. Richmond had their fair share of first round draft selections, however this premiership was won on the back of being aggressive at the trade table and finding talent outside the first round of the draft. 

Here is a breakdown of Richmond’s premiership winning side, using the draft pick cost in selecting them or trading for them as the key.

FIRST ROUND PICKS.

Jack Riewoldt (Pick 13 – 2006), Trent Cotchin (Pick 2 – 2007), Alex Rance (Pick 18 – 2007), Dustin Martin (Pick 3 – 2009), Brandon Ellis (Pick 15 – 2011), Nick Vlasutin (Pick 9 – 2012), Daniel Rioli (Pick 15, 2015), Dion Prestia (2016 – Traded In for Pick 6).

Richmond drafted their “Big 4”, Riewoldt/Cotchin/Rance/Martin, across three drafts (2006, 2007 and 2009). The “Big 4” were undeniably crucial in the Premiership winning side. Dustin Martin, the Norm Smith Medallist and Brownlow Medallist in 2017 was selected at pick three, and the Demons who had picks one and two in the draft (Tom Scully and Jack Trengove) would be heartbroken as neither of their draftees are still at the club. Richmond’s ability to draft well in the first round in the past 10 years set up the spine for their Premiership, and for success in the years to come.

SECOND ROUND PICKS.

Shane Edwards (2006 – Pick 26), Kamdyn McIntosh (2012 – Pick 31), Josh Caddy (2016 – Traded In for Pick 20).

Only three of Richmond’s premiership players cost Richmond a second round draft pick. Shane Edwards, a 200-gamer and one of the games best handballers, has had a terrific career. A fan favourite and widely loved by his teammates, Edwards is one of the games most underrated footballers. He is a terrific decision maker, and although he is not a prolific ball winner, he is a beautiful kick of the ball. Caddy, a first round draft pick in 2007, was traded to Richmond after never finding his feet at Geelong. Caddy was traded in the same year his best mate, Dion Prestia was traded to the Tigers for their first round pick. 

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH (Rounds 3 onwards or Rookie selections).

David Astbury (2009 – Pick 35), Dylan Grimes (2009 – Rookie Draft), Bachar Houli (2010 – Rookie Draft), Kane Lambert (2014 – Rookie Draft), Dan Butler (2014 – Pick 67), Nathan Broad (2015 – Pick 67), Jacob Townsend (2015 – Traded In for Pick 70), Toby Nankervis (2016 – Traded In for Pick 46), Jack Graham (2016 – Pick 53)

Nine of Richmond’s 22 premiership players cost the Tigers a third round draft pick or less. That’s an incredible 41 per cent of their Grand Final side. The players listed above were not just making up the numbers either. Astbury and Grimes form the pillars of Richmond’s defence that allow Rance to play off his opponent. Houli and Lambert both had huge final series, with the former unlucky not to win the Norm Smith Medal. Nankervis had an incredible year that placed him in the top five ruckman in the league, while Graham and Townsend had remarkable rises to stardom in a short period of time. Graham kicked three goals in the AFL Grand Final while Townsend kicked 11 goals in two weeks at the end of the Home and Away season before taking that form into the finals where he kicked another five goals over three matches. 

STRONG AND BOLD

Richmond’s list managers nailed the 2015 and 2016 drafts. They selected Broad in the fourth round, and traded their fifth pick to GWS for Townsend who had a remarkable end to the year. However, it was their bold moves in 2016  that was the difference between winning the Grand Final and being stuck in relative mediocrity. 

At the end of the season, Richmond had picks 6, 42, 60, 78 to work with. The media believed that Richmond were going backwards and that they needed to trade their star players out for more picks to start a rebuild. Deledio, Rance and Riewoldt all would apparently not be a part of Richmond’s next premiership, and that Richmond should trade them while they had value. Richmond had other ideas. They traded Deledio, whose body had been wrecked by injury, for future draft picks, and lost Restricted Free Agent (RFA) Tyrone Vickery, for which they received a pick at the end of the first round.

Richmond had in essence lost Deledio and Vickery and had gained Dion Prestia, Shai Bolton, Josh Caddy, Toby Nankervis and Jack Graham. Remarkably, four of those five were premiership players within 12 months time. 

MODEL OF SUCCESS

Richmond have proven that huge rebuilds are not required if you have elite top end talent. It is crucial however, that elite talent must be there. As good as Richmond’s drafting and trading was over the past two years, they knew they had four elite players under the age of 30, that they could build their team around. Other clubs at the conclusion of 2016 who had elite talent but poor depth, such as Essendon, Port Adelaide and Melbourne, have copied Richmond’s aggressive trading model and are primed for their shot at the premiership in the coming seasons.

Melbourne looked to free agency to solidify their defence poaching promising defender, Jake Lever, from the Crows. However, I worry that Melbourne’s elite talent isn’t quite at the level of other clubs. Melbourne do have a terrific young midfield and one of the games best young forwards in Jesse Hogan and will rely heavily on them performing if they are to contend this season. 

Essendon used their selections to bring in pace and a bit of “X-Factor” in Adam Saad, Devon Smith and Jake Stringer while holding onto their early draft selections. Essendon now are extremely damaging on the counter attack, and have a terrific mix of young talent and experienced leaders. Essendon’s forward line of Joe Daniher, Stringer and Smith will put opposition defences under pressure and set them up for a big season.

Port Adelaide rolled the dice, losing some of their experienced depth players to bring in three mercurial players in Steven Motlop, Tom Rockliff and Jack Watts. Port Adelaide’s best 22 on paper is terrific, but must remain healthy. Their depth is now poor, but as Richmond showed last year, that depth can stand up if there is competition for places and the chance at a premiership.

On the other hand, sides like Carlton are in a different phase of the premiership rebuild. They lost their best midfielder in Bryce Gibbs but went to the draft with three picks inside the top 30 to add to their current bank of young stars in Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow. Carlton are in the process of building that platform of elite blue-chip players like Richmond were in the late 2000’s. Although a “ten year plan” would sound like a nightmare for many Blues fans, Cripps has the potential to be as damaging as Dustin Martin, but not for another five years. As good as Cripps is, it takes a long time for players to reach their full potential. Carlton has a rich history of success and could be tempted to sell the farm prematurely to have a shot at the premiership. However, I think Carlton have learned valuable lessons from their mistakes over the last decade and are committed to a proper rebuild this time. Carlton fans should be excited but patient and trust the job that Stephen Silvagni is doing.  A premiership is surely worth it.

B:

5 Brandon Ellis

2011 – Round 1

Pick 15

18 Alex Rance

2007 – Round 1

Pick 18

2 Dylan Grimes

2009 – PRESEASON

Rookie Draftee

HB:

14 Bachar Houli

PRESEASON 

Rookie Draftee (Essendon)

12 David Astbury

2009 – Round 3

Pick 35

1 Nick Vlastuin

2012 – Round 1

Pick 9

C:

33 Kamdyn McIntosh

2012 – Round 2

Pick 31

9 Trent Cotchin

2007 – Round 1

Pick 2

21 Jacob Townsend

2015 – TRADE 

Pick 70

HF:

23 Kane Lambert

2014 – PRESEASON

Rookie Draftee

4 Dustin Martin

2009 – Round 1

Pick 3

22 Josh Caddy

2016 – TRADE

Pick 20

F:

40 Dan Butler

2014 – Round 4

Pick 67

8 Jack Riewoldt

2006 – Round 1

Pick 13

17 Daniel Rioli

2015 – Round 1

Pick 15

Foll:

25 Toby Nankervis

2016 – TRADE

Pick 46

3 Dion Prestia

2016 – TRADE

Pick 6

6 Shaun Grigg

2010 – TRADE

Andrew Collins 

Int:

10 Shane Edwards

2006 – Round 2

Pick 26

34 Jack Graham

2016 – Round 3

Pick 53

35 Nathan Broad

2015 – Round 5

Pick 67

 

46 Jason Castagna

2014 – PRESEASON

Rookie Draftee

 

Key:

GOLD – Round 1

GREY – Round 2

BLUE – Round 3,4,5 or PS

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

THERE was no TAC Cup or TAC Cup Girls football on the weekend, but the AFLW and JLT Community Series played out their penultimate and final rounds respectively. Here are five moments which made the weekend memorable.

Jack Watts’ six goals against Adelaide

There are few players in the AFL who have come under as much scrutiny as former number one draft pick, Jack Watts. After starting to show signs of finally reaching his potential over the last couple of years, Watts gave Port Adelaide fans a glimpse of what he could offer them in season 2018, bagging a career-high six straight goals. Yes, it was only the pre-season and there have been plenty of pre-season performers who have failed to go on to dominate – Jesse White booted five goals against Geelong in his first match in the black and white – but nonetheless, Watts was a player who needed a confidence boost in his new colours and his new fans could not be happier with his output.

GWS Women’s topping the Western Bulldogs to keep their GF chance alive

GWS did not have the season they would have liked last year with injuries galore and less homegrown talent growing organically in the state compared to football-centric hubs of Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. That has all changed in 2018 with competitive efforts throughout the year, and now the Giants are in the thick of the action for a grand final berth. If they win the final game, they’ll will face either the Western Bulldogs (again) or Melbourne in the grand final. Their efforts against the ladder-leading Bulldogs were superb and there is plenty to like about the way the GWS Giants women go about it. That was obvious from their really strong showing against Melbourne at Casey Fields in round one.

Carlton’s youth coming through

While the Blues are one of a few teams opposition fans love to hate, it is hard not to get excited about the youth coming through the club. Coming into their 23rd season since winning the 1995 flag, Carlton fans are desperate to see improvement after a forgettable past 15 years. Now they can see the likes of Caleb Marchbank, Charlie Curnow, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Harry McKay, Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien and of course, Patrick Cripps all starting to create a really formidable young group who are bound to improve over the next few seasons. Sure, they might not be premiership contenders this season, but with Brendon Bolton at the helm, and a belief that seems to grow stronger each day, expect the Blues to be a team to watch over the coming years.

TAC Cup Testing Day

From the stars of today to the stars of tomorrow, the TAC Cup boys and girls all were tested on the weekend for the 2018 TAC Cup Testing Day at Maribyrnong College. More than 600 players were put through a series of tests conducted by Rookie Me, from the 20m sprint to the AFL Agility Test, the yo-yo test (boys) and the 2km time trial (girls) to the vertical leaps. In front of plenty of friends, family and AFL and AFLW recruiters, the potential next big things in the elite league got to show off their athletic ability in what was a successful day. In particular the athletes deserved massive applause with outdoor temperatures reaching up to 37 degrees (according to some weather apps) towards the end of the day.

Collingwood Women’s toppling the Lions with only pride on the line

Similar to last season, Collingwood’s best football has come when the ball game is done and dusted. But with a huge win over Melbourne, a competitive six-point loss over the Western Bulldogs and now a good win over Brisbane, the black and white women have shown they can match it with anyone on their day. Much like the AFL side, the AFLW side has not escaped scrutiny this season, but with some really talented youth prospects coming through and much better ball movement and willingness to create run, the Magpies have been as good as any side the last three weeks and reigning premiers Adelaide must be sweating a little coming into the final round.