Tag: Rhylee West

Future stars fly high on big day of testing

MANY players stood out on the third day of the National AFL Draft Combine, with a couple of huge efforts across the board. Among the top performers were Tasmanian, Chayce Jones, Dandenong Stingrays stars, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams and Will Hamill, Murray Bushrangers midfielder, Ely Smith, South Australians, Connor Rozee and Izak Rankine, and Geelong Falcons’ Ned McHenry and Sam Walsh. Northern Knights’ Tom McKenzie also took out the 20m sprint.

Draft bolter, Sturt took out the running vertical jump (right) with a massive 91cm jump, while Stingrays teammate, Williams recorded 94cm on his left. Smith was the highest flyer from a standing start, recording 77cm, five clear of teammate, Laitham Vandermeer, and South Australian tall, Ben Jarvis. Jones finished second in both running vertical jumps, while Rozee and Gippsland Power captain, Xavier Duursma also impressed in the category.

McKenzie, Rozee and Hamill were the three fastest 20m sprinters on the day, while Rankine took out the agility test ahead of Western Bulldogs father-son prospect, Rhylee West and Western Jets captain, Xavier O’Halloran. In the Yo-Yo test, it was a Falcons duo with McHenry ahead of Walsh, with West Australian Luke English also finishing equal second.

NATIONAL AFL DRAFT COMBINE RESULTS

Standing vertical jump:

Ely Smith – 77cm
Laitham Vandermeer – 72cm
Ben Jarvis – 72cm
Izak Rankine – 70cm
Irving Mosquito – 68cm
Bailey Scott – 68cm
Isaac Quaynor 67cm
Connor Rozee – 67cm
Buku Khamis – 67cm
Chayce Jones – 66cm
Will Hamill – 66cm
Charlie Sprague – 66cm
Xavier O’Halloran – 66cm
Rhylee West – 66cm
Riley Grundy – 66cm
Connor Idun – 66cm
Bailey Williams – 66cm

Running vertical jump (right foot):

Sam Sturt – 91cm
Chayce Jones – 85cm
Xavier Duursma – 83cm
Ely Smith – 82cm
Isaac Quaynor – 81cm
Riley Grundy – 81cm
Xavier O’Neill – 81cm
Connor Rozee – 79cm
Rhylee West – 79cm
Irving Mosquito – 78cm
Noah Answerth – 78cm

Running vertical jump (left foot):

Bailey Williams – 94cm
Chayce Jones – 91cm
Connor Rozee – 88cm
Laitham Vandermeer – 88cm
Ely Smith – 86cm
Isaac Quaynor – 86cm
Will Hamill – 86cm
Ben Jarvis – 86cm
Xavier O’Neill – 84cm
Zac Foot – 84cm
Jackson Hately – 84cm
Bailey Scott – 84cm

20m sprint:

Tom McKenzie – 2.904 seconds
Connor Rozee – 2.91 seconds
Will Hamill – 2.914 seconds
Izak Rankine – 2.93 seconds
Connor Idun – 2.945 seconds
Bailey Williams – 2.946 seconds
Xavier O’Neill – 2.957
Xavier O’Halloran – 2.96 seconds
Ben King – 2.965 seconds
Sam Sturt – 2.966 seconds

Agility:

Izak Rankine – 8.039 seconds
Xavier O’Halloran – 8.063 seconds
Rhylee West – 8.216 seconds
Will Hamill – 8.222 seconds
James Blanck – 8.258 seconds
Chayce Jones – 8.270 seconds
Ben Jarvis – 8.308 seconds
Connor Rozee – 8.326 seconds
Ely Smith – 8.328 seconds
Sam Sturt – 8.396 seconds

Yo-Yo test:

Ned McHenry – level 22.2
Sam Walsh – 22.1
Luke English – 22.1
Will Golds – 21.8
Xavier O’Halloran – 21.6
Oscar Brownless – 21.6
Will Hamill – 21.4
Ely Smith – 21.4
Jez McLennan – 21.4
Lachlan Sholl – 21.4
Fraser Turner – 21.4

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2018

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

 

September rank: #1

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #2

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #3

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #4

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #5

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #6

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

Past month:

Smith missed the past month due to an achilles injury.

 

September rank: #11

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #7

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #8

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #9

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #13

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #20

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #14

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #12

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #15

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #16

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

Past month: 

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

 

September rank: #11

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #17

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #24

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #19

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #21

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: N/A

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #22

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #30

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #18

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #25

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #19

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #27

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: N/A

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #29

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #28

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: N/A

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: #30

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: N/A

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

Past month:

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

 

September rank: N/A

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

Past month:

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

 

IN THE MIX:

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

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

FOUR teams advanced through to the finals in the Wildcard Round and our writers were on hand to take notes on how some of the combine invitees and Under 17 Futures players went in the knockout weekend.

Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

Started the game really strongly and even though he had the two goals to his name, he could have had more. After starting quietly in the past two weeks, it was great to see him up and about creating space. He was leading hard up at the footy and looked really dangerous. Importantly, he was zipping around inside 50 forcing ground level pressure as well, including acts that would not be recorded on a stats sheet. Faded out of the game in the last term, so is still looking for that four quarter effort, but got the Cannons going early and was still a target in the third term.

#8 Lachlan Sholl

Was under siege in the final term and ended as one of the Cannons best in defence. He had a couple of moments he would want back again such as trying to kick the ball off the ground instead of picking it up late, but when coming off half-back he looked good. Earlier in the game he had an absolute elite pass across his body coming out of defence hitting up a teammate on the wing. Saved a certain Oscar Brownless goal, jumping up on the line and getting finger tips to it as Brownless’ snap sailed through midway through the last term.

#20 Rhylee West

Did not win a truckload of the ball like he can do on some occasions, but had a high impact per possession game. His stoppage work was first class and his ability to move through congestion seamlessly, was a highlight. He kicked a ripping goal off hands at a stoppage to bend it around the post and in, and just has those highlight-worthy moments. Also made sure the likes of Sam Walsh and Ned McHenry knew he was up for the fight, pestering his opposition fellow AFL Academy members.

#23 Daniel Hanna

Returned to the side after some experience with Essendon’s Victorian Football League (VFL) side, and was one of the top players in the first term. His composure and cleanliness at ground level was good, and he took a number of intercept marks dropping into the hole. It also released Lachlan Sholl and the like to play more free with their game-style off half-back. He almost had a horror moment dropping what appeared to be a standard uncontested mark in the final term, but the kick was called back and he would have breathed a sigh of relief. Showed some promising signs in that key defensive post.

#30 Mitch Podhajski

Did not have his most prolific game, but just stands up when he is called to do so. Kicked an early goal in the opening term and provides a target when forward, or a big body around the stoppages in the middle.

#57 Josh Kemp

An exciting talent who looked very good in the opening term, flying for marks and backing up his highlight-worthy moments with good pressure plays. He had just three touches after quarter time, drifting right out of the game, but does have some exciting traits – that vertical leap being one.

 

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

A terrific game from McHenry, possibly his best for the season. He might have had just the 20 touches, but his ability to stand up when the game was on the line and with the Cannons focused on Sam Walsh, McHenry was terrific. He kicked Geelong’s first major of the game and then nailed the first of the final term – the most important of the game because of the balance between the sides with Calder leading by 11. He swung the momentum back in Geelong’s favour, and was fierce around the stoppages and just turned it on in the second half to be a crucial player.

#20 Brayden Ham

Did not have the scoreboard impact he has had in recent weeks, starting in defence then moving forward in the second half – a trend which has become the norm for Ham over the past month in particular. Ham also spent time in the midfield and did not look out of place around the stoppages. He uses the ball well, has a high impact per possession count, and takes the game on with his blistering speed and huge tank. Had a big third term presenting up the ground and had an opportunity to cut the final break deficit to six with a set shot from tight in the pocket, but just missed. Has become an important player in the Falcons’ outfit.

#22 Sam Walsh

Had limited influence compared to past weeks, but you can never keep him down entirely, showing his class on multiple occasions throughout the four quarters. The big thing with Walsh is, when he cannot impact offensively, he gets his hands dirty defensively, and can switch between the roles. He knew he was copping close attention on the weekend, so he turned it back on his opponents and instead laid multiple tackles and had one of his better defensive games. Walsh’s massive tank allows him to cover the ground and run opponents into it, so he managed to still find the pill in each third of the ground.

#30 Oscar Brownless

Booted a couple of goals and played what has become a typical Oscar Brownless game. Not always the cleanest player, but he just works hard time and time again. He was in the thick of the action when Calder let the Falcons know they were up for the fight, and Brownless booted his goals when the game was hot early. It was his tackling pressure that stood out, locking the ball in and restricting his opponents from an easy exit. Had a snap out of nothing to put the Falcons up by six midway through the last term, but it was touched on the line by Lachlan Sholl.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Such a smart player, he is that hybrid forward who leads out, can take strong marks, but is not lost to the contest when it hits the ground. If anything, his best piece of play was a touch that will not get a statistic, but it was a deft tap on to Ned McHenry in the final term who burst away and nailed the all-important first goal of the quarter. Did not have heaps of opportunities, but nailed a terrific set shot goal in the opening term. Had a goal assist in the final term with a nice chip pass to Jay Dahlhaus 15m out rather than having a snap.

#39 Connor Idun

Had a quiet game up forward, while still presenting. Went into the ruck to start the final term and had an immediate impact by contesting at ground level, and his follow-up work earned him a free kick for a tackle on Rhylee West. Finished with the 10 hitouts, using his body well at throw-ins. The highlight for mine was his tackle in the final term on Lucas Cavallaro leading to Charlie Sprague winning the spilled ball and setting up a Jay Dahlhaus goal.

#41 Cooper Stephens

Showed off his spacial awareness and vision in tight with some fantastic deft handballs to teammates on the outside. He has that knack for not overdoing it, and was able to turn on a dime under pressure. The most eye-catching thing about Stephens is his ability to just play within the tempo of the game because he can blaze away and kick long when required, or take weight off the kick and retain possession for his side when it is needed. Kicked a goal in the final term showing his class, with a snap off one step and using pure instinct.

 

Northern Knights vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie

McKenzie brought clean hands to the loose ball and delivered effectively by foot inside 50, having seven effective kicks for the day. McKenzie was unlucky not having his work rewarded through the passage off his seven deliveries inside 50, but regardless his work rate did not waiver. His 20 disposals for the day and 16 uncontested possessions stand as a testament to his ability to cut off the footy (six marks) and create space upfield. Though grabbed a few times, McKenzie did not get dispossessed or brought to ground, withstanding the waves of GWV’s abuse. His invite to the National Combine stands as no surprise when he stand outs as possibly the match’s best player in the losing side.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa positioned well around the stoppages, boasting loads of second efforts. He did his best to clean up some of the sloppy work out of the stoppage, laying tackles in succession in the first half. He finished with four clearances, two inside 50s, three rebounds and tied game high 14 contested possessions (Sam Philp). He was unlucky not to hit his shot at goal around the body, but that seemed to be the theme for the Knights’ day.

GWV:

#14 Jed Hill

Hill kicked the first and only goal for the Rebels in the first quarter off a strong lead into the goal square. He followed it up with a second, kicking off GWV’s 37-point second quarter. Hill’s impact continued up the ground, moving swiftly with the ball and creating space with short, effective kicks. Despite not kicking a goal in the second half, Hill kept a strong forward half presence. He worked well around the contest and took three marks (one contested) for the day. He was unlucky not to kick the day’s best goal after taking the ball and kicking from the boundary on the run. If it was not touched on the line, it would have been his.

#21 Izaac Grant

Took a brilliant intercept mark through the passage in the third, opened the ground and delivered the ball well by foot. His delivery by foot was impressive, picking his man well and hitting them up with short, sharp kicks (7 effective kicks). Despite this efficiency, Grant’s two shots on goal both resulted in behinds. Regardless, he helped create these opportunities, which was something the Knights had a lot of trouble doing. Constantly first to the football, Grant snatched up an impressive eight marks (one contested), getting in front of man with a good burst of speed while showing off strong hands over head. He judged the flight of the footy well, especially those hurried out of their defensive 50.

#24 Matty Lloyd

Lloyd delivered the ball well by foot along the wing, easily breaking down the Knights’ forward trap. Six minutes into the second he found space 45 metres out and landed his first goal. Lloyd’s work by foot was immense, delivering the ball well up the field with 10 effective kicks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and 20 disposals. He was pivotal in creating opportunities at goal, even flexing his own talents in front as well. He boasts good composure despite pressure from the Knight’s forward line. This became more evident in the fourth as he collected the ball off the deck from a poor kick and slotted his second goal for the day.

 

Western Jets vs. Eastern Ranges

Western:

By: Ed Pascoe

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews had a quiet first half but he had one good moment in the first quarter making a nice run and penetrating kick down the line. Andrews started to lift as the team did in the third quarter, he laid a nice tackle and had a few runs on the wing and kicking long effectively on a few occasions. He finished the game well with some nice run around the ground. He had a running shot at goal which he just missed and showed good attack on the contest in the backline winning the hard ball cleanly and dishing off the handball which was a fair effort with the recent rain making the ball harder to handle. Andrews finished with 14 disposals and four inside 50s.

#24 Josh Honey

He has a touch of class with the way he goes about it. Does not need a lot of the ball to have a high impact on the game and is similar to a fellow Jet, in Zak Butters, Can hurt the opposition when he gathers it inside 50, and finished with one goal from 14 disposals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

O’Halloran like his teammates had a quiet first half, but he had a great bit of play late in the first quarter bursting from the stoppage with a penetrating kick, then following up bursting away from the opposition and a nice handball out wide. O’Halloran lifted his side in the third quarter to give his team the lead going into the last quarter, he managed to win the ball inside and outside the contest with a few nice kicks on his opposite foot and some hard ball gets at stoppages getting out of tackles with sheer willpower. His best piece of play came in the last quarter where he was able to drift forward to impact a marking contest he would then follow up with a hard tackle and follow the ball up another 25 metres before getting involved in the attacking chain and kicking back inside 50 on his left foot, this really showed off his desire for the contest. O’Halloran finished with 17 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

#38 Buku Khamis

Khamis took the no-fuss approach to his game against Eastern laying plenty of spoils and only running off when necessary. He took plenty of intercept marks during the game, including one in the last quarter showing great courage coming back with the flight and taking a nice grab. Khamis used the ball well on his trusty left foot often hitting targets long and short. Khamis only had nine disposals but he also had five tackles showing off his fantastic defensive work and he will need to bring that next week with the potential matchup against a dangerous Oakleigh forward.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Radovanovic played a consistent game over the four quarters playing a number of roles for the team in the midfield and down back and up forward. Radovanovic showed plenty of run throughout the game with a few give and gets from the back half and he used his speed to get separation around the ground. Radovanovic has a running shot at goal but missed in the last quarter which involved his trademark dash, a goal would have been reward for effort. Radovanovic finished the game with 15 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

 

Eastern:

By: Michael Alvaro

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

The bottom-ager was industrious as usual in the engine room, extracting from congestion and tackling hard. He was a regular at the stoppages and found most of his ball there, and while he has a good work rate to get there, Stapleton would do well to find more ball on the outside, too. The midfielder finished with 18 disposals and six tackles.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was at his productive best across the day, starting on the wing and zipping around the outside of stoppages to compile 31 quality possessions. While he won a good amount of his own ball, Mellis was most often either a link in the chain or the one to push the ball out into space, receiving handballs 16 times and taking four marks. The bottom-ager was one of the better users on the day too, going at 77 per cent overall, and particularly standing out with his 88% handball efficiency. Mellis’ best moments came when gathering and flicking out handballs quickly, while he also darted a nice kick inbound in the opening term which caught the eye.

#31 James Blanck

It’s rare that Blanck ever troubles the statisticians too heavily, but his impact is more often than not valuable. He started off a little shakily with a dropped mark inside defensive 50, but quickly bounced back to show his composure and excellent decision making – reading the ball well in the air and coming off his man to good effect. His intercept mark in the opening quarter led to a Ranges goal, and Blanck found himself in the right spot to intercept once again in the following term to provide the catalyst for another opportunity. He finished with a nice one on one mark in the final term to cap off a solid, but not perfect day.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Murray:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Jordan Butts

It was a solid outing by the overage forward who was born on the last day of the millennium, despite not hitting the scoreboard. He plays in front and constantly presents on the lead, giving his midfielders an option to lower their eyes to. It saw him take a respectable eight marks from his 18 disposals, proving to possess strong hands on occasions. He is a nice field kick for his size too, hitting Boyer inside 50 earlier in the game with a brilliantly weighted pass. Butts was a tad fumbly at times below his knees, but produced enough moments to suggest he has improved.

#5 Ely Smith

The prolific big-bodied midfielder won a game high 29 disposals and was making his presence known in and around the stoppages as usual. He is incredibly strong and at times is happy to run directly through an opponent, knowing they won’t be able to hold him, instead of attempting to get around. This successful tactic often left Bendigo opponents on their backsides, as Smith forcefully broke through to continue running or release the ball by hand. While his possessions were not always influential or pretty, he has that knack of finding the ball and does all he can to get it forward.

#6 Will Chandler

The bottom-aged New South Welshman still does not turn 17 for a few months, but is showing promising signs in the forward half. He leads to dangerous positions and loves to turn onto his left boot. It could have been a very fruitful day if he was more accurate in front of goal, kicking three behinds, but is coming along nicely and he is one to look out for next year.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen continues to drift in and out of games, but those occasional glimpses of talent are forever making you think what ceiling he possesses and what he can become at the next level. He has natural instincts that you really cannot teach, as shown when he snapped a lovely left foot goal in the first term, movements that are not generally associated with 193cm kids. He kicked a second goal from a well read intercept mark inside 50, but was missing for long periods in between. The talent is there.

#9 Mathew Walker

The GWS Academy prospect generally gives hints of the attributes that are transferrable to the next level, but he displayed those skills on a more consistent basis on Sunday. Whether it was forward or at the stoppages, he had an impact on the game, collecting 21 disposals, seven clearances and most importantly hit the scoreboard with three goals. He has genuine goal sense inside 50, slicing the goals with a snap, inside out banana on the run and a lovely long set shot. He was clean in the contest or at the stoppages, often getting forward of centre and kicking efficiently to scoring positions. While he does not appear to be blessed with great pace, he has a solid frame to grow into and could become a bit of a bargain later in the draft.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash is going to be a player highly sought after in 2019 and did not do anything to hurt that reputation on Sunday. Starting in defence, he got in ball winning positions and made excellent decisions as we’ve become accustomed to. He spent more time forward as the game went on, kicking two goals including a brilliantly crumbed effort in the third term. He is underrated in the air too, taking two contested marks and competing whenever the opportunity presented. Exciting talent.

#16 Nick Murray

The Murray Bushrangers skipper is a tad underrated when discussing the key position defender options for the upcoming draft, despite earning himself a state combine invite. His strength is reading the ball in the air, where he is capable of taking high intercept contested marks as shown twice on Sunday. If he cannot mark the ball, he looks to impact a contest with aggression, generally killing the ball and taking bodies with him. While clubs want their KPDs taller than 193cm these days, he still could have something to offer if he ends up on a list.

#18 Hudson Garoni

The thick-framed key position forward started the game in a lively manner, presenting up to the ball and was often rewarded on the lead. He hit a nice pass inside 50 and looked to be playing a very team oriented role by feeding his teammates as opposed to kicking the goals himself. He took a particularly strong contested intercept in the third term, but drifted out of it a little as time wore on. Still ended up with 18 disposals and seven marks, but was goalless.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

The underage Boyer looks a solid prospect for next year, despite having quiet patches on Sunday. He spent time in defence and forward, getting on the end of a pass inside 50 during the second which he couldn’t convert. He is a really well balanced player and appears a calming influence with ball in hand.

#26 Riley Bice

Starting mostly on the wing, Bice is a player the Bushrangers want with ball in hand. He is an exquisite left foot kick and makes great decisions too. He has good height at 185cm and despite being extremely light, tackles hard as shown in the fourth term. He doesn’t win huge amounts of the ball, but doesn’t have to as he’ll make things happen more often than not. He is an interesting player who probably just needs one big outing to get more clubs on board.

 

Bendigo:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Jye Caldwell

Caldwell was the player most came to see at Ikon Park, with the highly touted midfielder starting the game superbly showing his class with his kicking to teammates advantage and his work by hand often hitting them with speed and precision. He had a nice bit of play in the middle of the ground where he stood up in a tackle and managed to keep his composure and fire out a nice handball. Caldwell looked every bit a first round prospect before injury struck again with another hamstring injury very late in the first quarter, Caldwell had six disposals in the first quarter and looked set for a productive game.

#8 Brodie Kemp

Kemp was left to fill the hole that Caldwell left after his injury, Kemp was the main playmaker for Bendigo showing off his class in the contest. He dropped an easy mark in the first quarter but his spin out of trouble to follow up was sublime, Kemp came off in the second quarter looking wobbly which spelled disaster for Bendigo but he managed to come back and better than ever playing behind the ball using his smarts and play making ability. He showed plenty of dash which was impressive for a bottom age player standing at 193cm, despite one poor kick his kicking was sublime out of defence and his follow up work to try and tackle was admirable. Kemp finished with 23 disposals, eight marks and seven tackles, and he was the clear best player for Bendigo and he looks to be their number one prospect in the 2019 draft.

Weekend Wash-up: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

WILDCARD Round is done and won, and four sides are out of the premiership race. While Geelong Falcons, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets advance to the finals, Calder Cannons, Northern Knights, Eastern Ranges and Bendigo Pioneers seasons are over.

 

Calder Cannons 8.7 (55) defeated by Geelong Falcons 8.8 (56)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

In one of the games of the year, and for a second week in a row, the Geelong Falcons snare a come from behind victory against the Calder Cannons to eliminate them from the finals race. Struggling to capitalise with their scoring shots in the third, the Falcons turned the tables in the final term, kicking three goals to one and winning from an 11-point deficit at the break. The Cannons’ big third quarter effort put them ahead and gave them the largest lead of the game. Neither team was ever out of the race, but in the end, it was a behind and the Falcons’ defensive pressure that snatched away the victory.

Cooper Stephens was instrumental with three rebounds, four inside 50s, five clearances, a game-high 27 disposals and a final quarter goal. Co-captain Sam Walsh finished similarly with four rebounds, three inside 50s, five clearances and 26 disposals racking up an impressive 16 contested possessions. Sam Conway dominated in the ruck with 27 hit outs, beating the Cannons’ total hit outs of 25 on his own. Jay Dahlhaus (16 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and two goals), Oscar Brownless (18 disposals, four clearances and two goals) and Ned McHenry (20 disposals and two goals) impressed in front of goals, with Doyle Madigan (23 disposals, 15 contested, four clearances and two inside 50) also proving very dominating.

Will Jury had a strong performance with a game high 16 contested possessions (19 disposals), three marks (one contested), five clearances and six inside 50s. Lachlan Sholl (23 disposals, six marks, two inside 50s and one clearance), Brodie Newman (13 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Daniel Hanna (16 disposals and seven marks) all presented strong overhead. Curtis Taylor (11 disposals and five marks) and Jake Riccardi (12 disposals, three marks, six hitouts, three clearances and four inside 50s) kicked two goals each, while Jacob Martin (17 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Rhylee West (12 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and one goal) were among the best for the Cannons. 

 

Northern Knights (3.4.22) defeated by Greater Western Victoria Rebels (14.7.91)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Finals are now well and truly over for the Northern Knights after being handed a smashing by the GWV Rebels at MARS Stadium. Though only a point between them come the second quarter, the GWV lifted to produce a 37-point second quarter, with seven shots on goal to two. The third proved just as disappointing for the Knights with just the one point scored for the quarter, summing up a rather dismal performance with 21 scoring shots to seven.

Riely Ranieri’s work in the Rebels’ defensive half was extremely pivotal in their win, racking up 19 disposals (11 contested), four clearances, and seven rebounds. Matt Schnerring boasted a team-high 22 disposals, moving the ball well with three inside 50s and two rebounds, and contributed to their big second quarter with a late goal. Matty Lloyd capped off a solid game with 20 disposals and kicked two big goals, with Scott Carlin close behind on 19 disposals, five clearances and two goals of his own. Jed Hill and Harrison Butler also put two each on the board, while Patrick Glanford (11 disposals, 27 hit outs, four clearances and three inside 50s) performed well in the ruck alongside Darcy McEldrew (18 hitouts).

Despite their poor showing, the Northern Knights still had plenty of strong performers on the day. Sam Philp had a game-high 23 disposals and dominated out of the stoppages with 9 clearances. Philp moved the ball well to collect six inside 50s for the match. Similarly, Tom McKenzie delivered well with his seven inside 50s, showcased his strong hands (six marks) and got a bit of footy with 20 disposals. Adam Carafa (four clearances, two inside 50s, three rebounds), Josh D’Intinosante (three clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds), Jackson Davies (four clearances, four inside 50s and three inside 50s) and Braedyn Gillard (10 contested possessions, three clearances and three inside 50s) also had considerable impacts.

 

Western Jets 12.12 (84) defeated Eastern Ranges 7.4 (46)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets survived an early Eastern Ranges onslaught to claim a 38-point win and earn their spot in the TAC Cup final eight. The sixth-place Jets had every reason to be nervous coming into the game against second-last Eastern given both sides outside of the top eight beat their more fancied counterparts in the previous day’s play, and that fear would have been heightened as the Ranges stormed out to a first half lead. Three first half majors to bottom ager Ben Hickleton put Eastern in good stead, as they put on five straight goals to open the game and kept Western goalless in the second term to hold a 16-point buffer at the main break.

Their run came to a grinding halt once the ball went down to start the third term, as key Western ball-winners Xavier O’Halloran and Morrish Medal runner-up Connor Thar came into the game, with Stefan Radovanovic solid down back and Emerson Jeka providing a target forward of centre. Western jetted into the lead with four goals to none in the third term, and kept their form in the last as they piled on another five to Eastern’s one.

For the winners, O’Halloran (17 disposals, four tackles) stepped up when it counted, while Thar (32 disposals, six tackles, four marks nd one goal) was arguably their best. The Western forward line was dangerous as ever too, with Daniel Pantalleresco and Jeka claiming three majors each, while 23rd man Cassius White was also dangerous, booting two.

In one of Eastern’s better displays, Kye Quirk continued to rack up the possessions with 24 touches, 10 handball receives and six marks, while Joel Burleigh and Xavier Fry were their main ball-winners with 32 touches each. Bottom ager Hickleton also impressed with his three goals, finding himself in good areas inside 50.

The Jets now face an in-form Oakleigh side full of stars in the first week of finals, while Eastern’s season ends on the back of a fighting effort.

 

Murray Bushrangers 9.18 (72) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 6.9 (45)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers rounded out the TAC Cup wildcard round with a comfortable, yet wasteful 27-point win over Bendigo Pioneers. Having been booted out of the top four in the last two rounds, the Bushies looked to have learned a lesson from the previous wildcard games as the favourites broke out to a 22-point lead to open the game, keeping the Pio’s goalless.

To Bendigo’s credit, they didn’t give in and hit back with three goals of their own in the second term to reduce the margin to 12 points at the main break. Neither side could really snatch a good run of momentum, as the buffer stayed at a steady three-four goals going into the final break – with Bendigo’s accuracy (6.4) keeping them within reach in quarters two and three as Murray complied a wasteful 5.8 in comparison.

But the class of Murray proved too much as they held on with a further 1.5 in the fourth quarter to shut out the trying contest and their nagging opposition. Ely Smith continued his good form in the midfield to be named Murray’s best with 29 disposals and six tackles, while Mathew Walker (21 disposals, nine tackles, six marks and three goals) was not far behind. Zane Barzen and Lachlan Ash were the Bushranger’s other multiple goal kickers with two each, with the latter also gathering 20 disposals in a more advanced role.

For Bendigo, Jacob Atley was the clear standout up forward as he collected 21 disposals and marked well while claiming half of his side’s six goals. Liam Marciano was also industrious with his 27 disposals, six tackles and five marks and one goal, while Bailey Henderson (22 disposals and six marks) was also solid. Jye Caldwell also showed some brilliant glimpses before unfortunately injuring his hamstring.

Murray will go on to face the Sandringham side which snatched their top-four spot in what looks like being a tantalising contest.

AFL Draft Central Power Rankings: September 2018

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

August rank: #1

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #2

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #5

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

Past month:

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

 

 

August rank: #4

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #3

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #6

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #7

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #8

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #9

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #11

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #10

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #12

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #13

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #15

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #20

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

Past month:

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

 

July rank: #25

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

Past month: 

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

 

August rank: #24

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #16

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #18

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #17

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #21

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #14

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #27

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #30

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #22

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #19

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: N/A

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #23

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #28

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

Past month:

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

 

August rank: #29

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

Past month:

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

 

Keep an eye out:

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

Dandenong, Oakleigh make up one third of the 2018 TAC Cup Team of the Year

DANDENONG Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers have made up one third of the TAC Cup Team of the Year, with four players each in the league’s best 24. Calder Cannons and Sandringham Dragons have three representatives each, while Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets have two players each. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Northern Knights have one player each, while neither Bendigo Pioneers nor Eastern Ranges have a player in the team.

Dandenong Stingrays’ coach Craig Black was named coach of the Team of the Year after winning the minor premiership last week. Among the team are Victorian Most Valuable Players (MVPs) Bailey Smith and Sam Walsh, and TAC Cup leading goal kickers Hudson Garoni and Charlie Wilson. Of the 24 players, all bar Liam Stocker (injured) and Campbell Hustwaite, represented Victoria at the National Under 18 Championships.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

FOR players of four TAC Cup sides, they will run out for the final time this weekend with the new concept of a Wild Card Round giving every team the chance of winning a premiership, regardless of finishing position during the season. The four games will be played across two days, with a Double Header at MARS Stadium on Saturday, before a Double Header takes place at Ikon Park on Sunday.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 11:30am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

It will be a case of déjà vu for fans who make the trip to MARS Stadium tomorrow. The Calder Cannons take on the Geelong Falcons at 11.30am, an identical match, time and place of their Round 16 clash a week ago. In that game, the Falcons proved too good, coming from behind at quarter time to run away with the game before the Cannons kicked back to go down by just 15 points. Arguably the Falcons should have won by more, as despite having 29 scoring shots to 19, they ended the match with an inaccurate 11.18 for the match. Co-captain Sam Walsh was a clear best on ground. Brayden Ham, while inaccurate in front of goal with 1.4, was exciting in the forward half, as was Connor Idun. Cooper Stephens and Ned McHenry were tough on the inside, while Cooper Cartledge and Charlie Sprague played their roles up their respective ends. For the Cannons, Rhylee West was sensational drifting forward to boot three goals, while Daniel Mott and Mitch Podhajski were strong through the midfield, with Podhajski getting forward to finish with two goals. Harrison Jones enjoyed a great game in the ruck, while Lachlan Sholl and Brodie Newman continue to impress behind the ball. Daniel Hanna has been named in the Cannons’ extended team, and will be a crucial inclusion to take a tall in the Falcons forward line, allowing the smaller rebounders to create more run out of defence. Geelong rightfully hold favouritism after last week, and pushing the minor premiers the week before, but both these teams are sleepers in the premiership race, and it is somewhat disappointing one has to go.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 2:00pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The second game marks the third time that the Northern Knights will travel to MARS Stadium for the season to tackle the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The venue holds no fears for the Knights, who have been victorious twice, once with a come-from-behind victory in Round 9 by four points, and then again in Round 12 when they won by 22 points. In the first encounter, it took until the 21st minute of the final term for the Northern Knights to hit the front for just the second time that day, with a Patrik Della Rocca goal. That was also the breakout game for bottom-ager Izaac Grant, who booted seven of the Rebels’ nine goals for the day. Elliott Lamb, Scott Carlin and Lochie Dawson were named the Rebels best on the day with Grant, while for the Knights, James Lucente‘s five majors saw him named the best, along with Della Rocca and Stefan Uzelac. In the second encounter, Sunny Brazier and Charlie Wilson booted three goals for their respective sides, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Patrick Glanford were the Rebels’ best. Adam Carafa had a day out with 37 disposals, while speedster Lachlan Potter was also impressive. On form, the Knights will head in as favourites, but some crucial inclusions for the Rebels in Carlin, Grant and Craig-Peters should be equally as important as Lucente and Ryan Sturgess for Northern.

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 11:00am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

On Sunday, the Western Jets will take on the Eastern Ranges in a game that is one of two that should be fairly straight forward. As we have seen with finals or pre-finals however, anything can happen and regular season form means nothing now that we are at the knockout stage of the season. Eastern had just the two wins, but pushed Western all the way back in the only encounter between the sides this season. In blustery Williamstown, the Ranges led throughout the match and only trailed by a goal at the final break – mostly due to the Jets inaccuracy, booting 2.12. The home side found its kicking boots in the final term however, booting five goals to one and ran away with the 31-point win. Steven Kyriazis booted two goals that day, while Zak Butters earned best on ground honours (he will not be out there this weekend) and Connor Thar and Stefan Radovanovic were also impressive. Billy McCormack was the multiple goalkicker for Eastern, while Jarrod Gilbee, James Ross and Mitch Mellis were the top Ranges. Mellis will be the only one of the trio playing on Sunday, with Eastern hoping to cause an upset. The winner will face Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination final, so will want to hit the game with some great form.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 1:30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Murray Bushrangers were the side unlucky to drop out of the top four race, but by being the top-seeded team in the Wild Card Round, they take on the bottom-placed Bendigo Pioneers. The Pioneers have just had the two wins so far this season, while the Bushrangers won both their previous encounters against Bendigo. Murray won by 57 points in Round 2 up in Shepparton, before claiming a 40-point win at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Round 9. In the first game, Laitham Vandermeer was named best on ground, with the injured speedster not able to be out there on the weekend, but his partner in crime that day, Lachlan Ash will be, as will Nick Murray who was impressive in defence. Noah Wheeler was unsurprisingly named best for the Pioneers with another top performance, while Jye Caldwell amassed 24 disposals and laid seven tackles in his only TAC Cup game until last weekend. He will be crucial for the Pioneers this weekend if they are to get the upset, however the Bushrangers look to be too strong on season form. In the second encounter, Ely Smith was best on ground with 28 disposals and nine tackles, while Jordon Butts slotted six goals in a terrific effort up forward. Oscar Perez and Zane Keighran booted two goals each, while ruck Daniel Keating was named the Pioneers’ top player. With no Wheeler, Keighran or Keating this weekend, it will be a big ask for the Pioneers to get up, but there is no coming back. 

Team of the Week: TAC Cup – Round 16

IN the final round of the TAC Cup season it was incredibly hard to narrow down the best 22 to create the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week for Round 16. In the end, with impressive wins to Dandenong Stingrays, Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets each team had three players named in the side, while losers Eastern Ranges and Murray Bushrangers had two representatives with the other winners. Equally, Northern Knights had just the one representative indicating the team effort to get the job done against Murray, along with the remaining losers of Round 16.

Dandenong’s big win over Sandringham Dragons resulted in defender Matthew Gahan, forward Sam Sturt, and inside midfielder, Matthew Cottrell earn their places in the Team of the Week. Fellow top four side, Oakleigh had a huge win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, and also had three players make the best 22 for the week with Bailey Wraith‘s ruck performance, James Rowbottom‘s midfield work and Atu Bosenavulagi‘s forward craft among the deserving nominees. Oakleigh had plenty of others who could have made the side as well, including Charlie Whitehead and Noah Anderson.

Western Jets also had three players in the Team of the Week, with consistent midfielder, Connor Thar, and speedster Daly Andrews making the team, as did key forward Aaron Clarke. Captain Xavier O’Halloran came close to making the side yet again but just missed out. Geelong Falcons duo Sam Walsh and Brayden Ham have been regulars in the Team of the Week this year and Round 16 was no different, as Ham was named on the half-back flank having played at both ends. Their opponents, Calder Cannons had just the one nominee in Rhylee West who stood tall up forward, but Daniel Mott was considered unlucky and was the 23rd player in the team.

Gippsland Power and Eastern Ranges both had two players make the Team of the Week from their clash, as key forward, Noah Gown and captain, Xavier Duursma made the team once again backing up their impressive recent form. For Eastern, Xavier Fry and Kye Quirk slotted into the best 22. Murray Bushrangers also had two talls make the side despite the loss, with Nick Murray and Jordon Butts slotting into the key defensive posts. While Butts did not play the role on the weekend, he has the versatility to play anywhere and deserved to make it into the 22 after a strong performance.

Of the remaining players in the 22, those who made the Team of the Week as individual nominees were the hardworking Noah Wheeler (Bendigo Pioneers), GWV Rebels forward Jed Hill, Northern Knights midfielder Justin McInerney and Sandringham Dragons star Liam Stocker. Stocker’s teammate, James Rendell was unlucky not to make the team, as was McInerney’s bottom-age teammate, Adam Carafa who could both be hypothetical emergencies in the Team of the Week.

 

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 16

THE final round of the TAC Cup threw up some surprising results, and some standout individual performances. Here is how Round 16 went down.

 

Sandringham Dragons 6.10 (46) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 14.9 (93)

Dandenong Stingrays capped off a near-perfect home and away season, defeating top four side, Sandringham Dragons by 49 points at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on the weekend. The Stingrays finished the season with a 15-1 record and that loss was a six-point defeat at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers. The Stingrays burst out of the blocks booting six goals to one in the opening half, and by the final break had 10 goals on the board to the Dragons’ two. The final term was a goal fest with eight of the 20 goals kicked, as both teams shared in the feast booting four goals apiece. 

Sam Fletcher won plenty of the ball once again with 30 disposals, three marks, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, joined on the inside by captain Campbell Hustwaite (28 disposals, four clearances and a goal) who had a combined 34 contested possessions between them. Matthew Cottrell was voted the Stingrays best for his 28 disposals, four clearances, eight inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal, while Sam Sturt continued to impress at TAC Cup level, booting 3.2 from 18 disposals and five marks. Toby Bedford (18 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s) and Matthew Gahan (16 disposals, four marks and five rebounds) were others who impressed for the winners.

For the Dragons, Liam Stocker had another day out, amassing 32 disposals, one mark, nine clearances, eight inside 50s and three rebounds, winning two thirds of his possessions at the coal face. Alastair Richards was equally effective on the outside, collecting 25 disposals, three marks, two clearances and four rebounds to give the Dragons some important run. James Rendell (14 disposals, two contested marks, 29 hitouts and a goal) and Corey Watts (20 disposals and eight marks) were others who stood tall for the losing side.

 

Geelong Falcons 11.12 (84) defeated Calder Cannons 10.9 (69)

Geelong Falcons gained a vital mental advantage over the Calder Cannons, claiming bragging rights  ahead of the pair’s duel in the Wild Card Round next weekend. The Falcons had to fight from eight points down at quarter time to put pressure on their opponents and had 11 scoring shots to two in the second quarter, heading in with a 16-point advantage. They built on that lead in the third term, before the Cannons finished stronger, but it was just too little, too late in the game, as the Falcons celebrated by 15 points.

Co-captain Sam Walsh was sensational with 37 disposals, 10 marks (one contested), five clearances, eight inside 50s, six rebounds and three behinds, while fellow co-captain Oscar Brownless got the Falcons moving early, finishing the game with 19 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s and a powerful long-range goal. Brayden Ham‘s consistent season continued with 20 disposals, nine marks and eight inside 50s, albeit with an inaccurate 1.4. Ned McHenry (27 disposals, seven marks, three clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal), Cooper Stephens (21 disposals, seven marks, six clearances and three inside 50s) and Connor Idun (16 disposals, seven marks and three inside 50s and a goal) were others who stood out for the winners.

Calder had a number of strong contributors with Daniel Mott having a team-high 29 disposals, three marks, nine clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds. Rhylee West was strong up forward, booting three goals while resting up there to go with his 20 touches, four marks (two contested), six clearances and four inside 50s. Lachlan Sholl (20 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) and Mitch Podhajski (21 disposals, eight marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and two goals) were others who stood out for the Cannons.

 

GWV Rebels 5.3 (33) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 18.15 (123)

In a match that started positively for the Rebels, it ended in disaster as Oakleigh Chargers stormed home with a 90-point win at MARS Stadium. The Rebels, although down at the first break, had been matching the Chargers around the ground, and faced a 13-point deficit at the first break. A five goals to two second term put the Rebels to the sword, but it was the nine goals to one second half that saw Oakleigh waltz away with the huge win, peppering the goals in the second half, having a whopping 20 scoring shots to two, in a game which the deficit could have been even greater.

Jack Ross had the most disposals, with 26 touches, five marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, ably assisted on the inside by James Rowbottom (24 disposals and eight clearances) and Riley Collier-Dawkins (16 disposals and seven clearances). Trent Bianco had another impressive game highlighted by a strong second half, picking up 15 disposals and having 24 overall, to go with his five marks and six rebounds, while Zac Hart buzzed around to collect 23 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds. Atu Bosenavulagi and Jake Gasper caused headaches up forward, while Noah Anderson and Jay Robertson also booted three goals.

For the Rebels, Matty Lloyd was the sole player with more than 20 disposals, having 24 touches, five marks and eight rebounds, while forward, Jed Hill was the clear standout player, having 12 disposals, three marks (one contested), two clearances and three goals – all in the first half. Jayden Wright played well in defence with five rebounds from 19 disposals and three marks, while Charlie Wilson had four clearances and four inside 50s from 14 disposals.

 

Gippsland Power 11.11 (77) defeated Eastern Ranges 10.8 (68)

Gippsland Power finished their season off with a hard-fought nine-point win over Eastern Ranges. The Power had to work for it against the bottom two side, booting the first four goals of the game, but being reeled in over the next two quarters to trail at the final break by three points. Luckily for Gippsland, they booted four goals to two in the final term and ensured their regular season ended on a high.

Captain Xavier Duursma was consistent once again with 21 touches, two marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and two goals, while bottom-age forward, Sam Flanders also had 21 disposals, two marks, eight inside 50s and booted an inaccurate 1.4. Noah Gown continued his strong form up forward with another four goals from 20 disposals and eight marks (two contested), while Leo Connolly (20 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Riley Baldi (18 disposals, three marks, four clearances and three inside 50s) were other prominent ball winners.

For Eastern, Kye Quirk had a massive game-high 34 disposals, five marks, two clearances, eight inside 50s and two rebounds, while Xavier Fry was prominent in defence with seven rebounds from 24 disposals and five marks. Joel Burleigh had 23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, six inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Lachlan Stapleton was busy at the stoppages, recording eight clearances and 21 disposals. Adrian Kalcovski booted three goals from 22 disposals and seven marks, while Mitch Mellis had 19 touches and three marks.

 

Murray Bushrangers 8.7 (55) defeated by Northern Knights 9.10 (64)

Northern Knights spoiled the party for Murray Bushrangers, who were looking to cement a top four spot with a win. The Knights could not move out of eighth spot, and the home side got on top early, booting six goals to three in the first half. Northern clawed back into the contest in the third quarter, to cut the deficit to nine points at the final change, but came over the top of the Bushrangers, booting four goals to one in the nine-point victory.

Justin McInerney was busy around the ground for the Knights, picking up 24 disposals, 12 marks (one contested), two inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Adam Carafa also found 24 touches and had five marks, four clearances, three rebounds and a goal. Cameron Wild was busy with 22 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and a goal, while Josh D’Intinosante had 18 touches, five marks, seven inside 50s and a goal. Teammate Oscar White also covered the ground well with six inside 50s and five rebounds from 17 disposals and five marks (one contested).

Jimmy Boyer was the top ball winner for the Bushrangers, racking up 25 touches, seven marks, seven clearances and three inside 50s, while Edward Adams had 22 disposals, seven marks (one contested) and four rebounds. Jordon Butts was productive through the midfield, sending the ball inside 50 on six occasions from 21 disposals and seven marks, while Nick Murray had five rebounds from 21 disposals and seven marks. Bottom-ager Lachlan Ash (17 disposals, five marks and five rebounds) and Ely Smith (18 disposals, two marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) were others who impressed for the losing side.

 

Bendigo Pioneers 8.9 (57) defeated by Western Jets 15.8 (98)

A six goals to two first term effectively ended the contest before it began, as the finals-bound Western Jets got the job done against the Bendigo Pioneers. After quarter time it was much closer as the Pioneers booted six goals to the Jets’ nine, but could not quite capitalise and the Jets enjoyed the 41-point lead heading into the Wild Card Round next weekend.

Connor Thar had a super game with 32 disposals, five marks, three contested, five inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals to be named the AFL Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 16, while Daly Andrews (26 disposals, nine marks, six inside 50s, four rebounds and one goal) was busy around the ground. Captain Xavier O’Halloran was deadly going inside 50, having 10 entries along with 25 touches, six marks, four clearances and a goal. Jack Watkins was also instrumental with 25 disposals, four marks, five clearances, eight inside 50s and a goal. Aaron Clarke was the key forward with four majors while Steven Kyriazis booted three.

For the Pioneers, Noah Wheeler was again the top performer for the home side, picking up 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, six rebounds and a goal, while Bailey Henderson had six rebounds from 22 disposals and seven marks. Talented bottom-ager Brodie Kemp had 21 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Jye Caldwell had 19 disposals, four marks and four clearances in his first TAC Cup game since early in the year.

Walsh favourite in open field for Morrish Medal

GEELONG Falcons dynamo Sam Walsh is predicted to be the front runner in Sunday’s Morrish Medal count, despite playing just the 10 games in the TAC Cup competition if the AFL Draft Central predictions are anything to go by. The number one pick contender is likely to poll votes in as many as eight games, including his last five since returning from the National Under 18 Championships. He is not alone in the stakes for the medal, with AFL Draft Central predicting a number of other contenders hot on his heels, with nine of the top 10 placegetters in our count from different TAC Cup clubs.

Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons)

The Falcons midfielder has enjoyed a terrific season in 2018, firing on all cylinders since returning from the championships, and expect him to power home like Hugh McCluggage did in 2016 with a huge run home. It is almost hard to ignore him in most games, and we have him polling in eight of a possible 10 matches, and usually with the three or two votes. Some heavy losses to Geelong at times will not help, but he missed quite a few of the mid-year games where the Falcons had trouble.

Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power)

The biggest challenger to Walsh is fellow captain, Gippsland Power midfielder, Xavier Duursma. He also missed games due to National Under 18 Championships, and also missed a game due to injury, but when he has played, he has been ultra-consistent. He will have plenty of teammates threatening to take votes off him such as Noah Gown, Kyle Reid or Riley Baldi among others, but if the umpires saw him as the key in many of the Power’s wins, Duursma is in with a huge chance of causing an upset.

Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons)

Prior to returning in Round 9 following injury, we predicted Liam Stocker to be sitting on just four votes. Over four of the next five games we predicted Stocker would pick up 10 votes, before collecting another three on the weekend for a big weekend in the umpires eyes. He is one who could poll even better if the umpires vote him ahead of the Kings or Bailey Smith, but when they played they dominated.

Charlie Wilson (GWV Rebels)

The GWV Rebels forward is a bit of an unknown come Morrish Medal night because he is one who could poll regularly, or be the one that gets left behind being a forward instead of a midfielder. But his consistency through the mid-season and on the back straight is not to be underestimated, having at least three best on grounds in the run home.

Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons)

You get the feeling he could be pushing Walsh if Geelong had won more games, but expect Ham and Walsh to combine for the top two votegetters on a few occasions. He has that eye-catching ability that is likely to poll him quite a few votes, but like Wilson, it just depends if they opt for that powerful forward who can play up the ground – and in defence at times – or if they opt for pure midfielders with the votes.

Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets)

The Jets captain is likely to run out to an early lead in the count with a strong season pre-Under 18 Championships. Aside from a couple of quiet games in the first month, we predict O’Halloran to be on 11 votes after seven rounds. From there though others have stood out more with the votes shared around late in the season, but is sure to poll well early. It will be interesting to see how the votes are divided up between himself and Connor Thar, in particular.

Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons)

It is a bit hard to read how the Cannons co-captain will poll because he spent time in the Victorian Football League (VFL) throughout the season, and will have to fight the likes of Rhylee West and Jack Bytel for votes at either end of the season. His purple patch from Rounds 12 to 14 could see him rack up quite a few votes with at least two best on grounds, and be another top 10 certainty one would think.

Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers)

A slow start to the season, but once he got going, he really got going. Had the luxury of playing the majority of games, and had no trouble finding the ball. The fact he caught the eye of Vic Country coaches to be a late-call up, one would think he would catch the eye of the umpires as well.

Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong Stingrays)

Dandenong is the toughest team to read how votes will go. They won 15 of a possible 16 votes which means the most votes of any side. The problem? The votes are likely to be split by as many as 12 players who could float in and out as the top vote getters. Captain Campbell Hustwaite is likely to poll the most for the Stingrays, but we also have Bailey Williams, Riley Bowman, Sam Fletcher, Corey Ellison, Matthew Cottrell and Zac Foot all polling in multiple games.

Jake Gasper (Oakleigh Chargers)

In the same boat as Wilson and Ham, comes Oakleigh Chargers’ Jake Gasper. Like Dandenong, Oakleigh is hard to predict where votes will go given the high volume of top performances. Jack Ross, Trent Bianco, James Rowbottom, Isaac Quaynor and Noah Anderson are among those who we have predicted will poll solidly.

 

In terms of club leading vote getters of the three remaining clubs, Bendigo’s Noah Wheeler seems the clear choice for the Pioneers and will likely attract votes in the games where Bendigo got close, or won. Eastern Ranges’ bottom-ager Mitch Mellis is one of a number of players who could poll the most from the other bottom two side, while Northern has a number of contenders fighting over votes, but we have thought Josh D’Intinosante might be the top pick of the bunch. Others just outside the top 10 elsewhere are Stingrays duo Williams and Bowman, Murray trio Lachlan Ash, Hudson Garoni and Laitham Vandermeer, and Oakleigh trio Ross, Bianco and Rowbottom.

 

AFL Draft Central Predicted Leaderboard:

Sam Walsh (Geelong) 21 votes
Xavier Duursma (Gippsland) 20
Liam Stocker (Sandringham) 17
Charlie Wilson (GWV) 15
Brayden Ham (Geelong) 14
Xavier O’Halloran (Western) 14
Ely Smith (Murray) 14
Mitch Podhajski (Calder) 13
Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong) 12
Jake Gasper (Oakleigh) 12

Top by club not mentioned above:

Bendigo: Noah Wheeler (8)
Eastern: Mitch Mellis (7)
Northern: Josh D’Intinosante (10)

Votes by Club:

Dandenong Stingrays (75)
Gippsland Power (68)
Oakleigh Chargers (67)
Murray Bushrangers (58)
Sandringham Dragons (52)
Calder Cannons (47)
Geelong Falcons (46)
Western Jets (45)
Northern Knights (41)
GWV Rebels (36)
Eastern Ranges (24)
Bendigo Pioneers (17)