Tag: Toby Bedford

AFL Draft Central Final 2018 Power Rankings

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

#1 Jack Lukosius (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

Many seem to be somewhat writing the talented tall off a little given he is not kicking five goals from 20 touches and 10 marks every single week against senior bodies. As far as we are concerned, the skillset and ability he has both athletically and physically is unbelievable, and if he was playing in the Under 18s instead of the League, you would be seeing those kind of numbers each and every week. When the opposition know you are a talented kid, they will make sure they work harder to stop you, and Lukosius has done a terrific job, but just tired towards the end of the year which is more than fair. He has the capability to be a star key forward, key defender or midfielder and for his size, most people just cannot hit targets like he can, and move as well as he can. He has not lost his number one position all year, and both he and Walsh are the clear standouts come the draft month.

#2 Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The safest pick in the National Draft bar none. It is easy to see why Carlton would select him with pick one, and in terms of midfielders he just ticks practically every box. To poke holes in his game you have to get nitty gritty, but honestly, he is just a keeper and a future leader. He will add bucketloads to that Blues midfield both on and off the field, and looks every bit a 200-game player. Just a talented midfielder who you know what you will get each and every week, and if there was a genuine way to have two number ones in this list he would be there. Walsh has not moved from this spot all year, and it is easy to see why.

#3 Izak Rankine (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Most agree he is the X-factor of the draft. No doubt that Rankine has all the tricks a player could want, and can literally produce plays that no-one else in the draft could. He can kick bags of goals as a small forward, dominate through the midfield with his speed and agility, and take a game away from the opposition in a matter of minutes. His endurance and consistency are areas that could continue to develop, and he is prone to the odd brain fade in terms of discipline with 50m penalties as such, but as we like to say – it is the price you pay for greatness, and in terms of upside and sheer brilliance, Rankine is the number one in that department.

#4 Max King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

It is not too often a kid who does his ACL after playing just one TAC Cup game still goes in the top five, but here we are. He was never going to fall too far given his athleticism and ability to just dominate games. Just ask the Oakleigh Chargers defence who had not answers to stop him – when Will Kelly was a forward – and he monstered undersized defenders with his massive vertical leap and contested marking. He booted 8.6 in windy conditions that day at RAMS Arena, and genuinely had a laugh with the ball delivered to him with ease. If he gets a big pre-season in and more strength work done, he could be a very scary prospect up forward.

#5 Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Missed seeing him strut his stuff in the second half of the TAC Cup season after that achilles injury put an end to his year. A consistent inside midfielder with great speed and elite endurance, Smith is as safe as Walsh in terms of picks, and if a team could somehow pair the two together, then that cements a terrific culture at that particular club for the future. A natural leader who is a high accumulator of the football, a massive clearance winner and a bone-crunching tackler, Smith is a top five player who like the others at the top-end of this list, could easily be pick one in most other drafts. Terrific selection.

#6 Ben King (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The third Sandringham Dragons player in the top six, Ben King has put together a terrific season for Haileybury and showed off what he is capable of for Sandringham late in the year despite having less opportunities with limited inside 50s for the Dragons. He can play at either end, and showed after a great season in defence last year, and now up forward this year, that he will fill a void wherever needed. The fact he could be this far down is remarkable given he could genuinely be a pick one in a lot of drafts. A 200cm key position utility who can run the 20m sprint in under three seconds? Yes please.

#7 Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

He has had comparisons to ‘Buddy’ Franklin, and they are not too far-fetched with Blakey having the size of a key forward, but the smarts and athleticism of a midfielder. He is a huge inclusion to the Swans outfit, and could play early on, but the Swans will be sure to bulk up his wiry frame before subjecting him to monster key defenders. Expect him to play an outside role with some time in the midfield before he can bulk up and eventually take over from ‘Buddy’ inside that forward 50. Not a huge accumulator, but boy does Blakey have some nice tricks, and some high X-factor which will excite Swans fans.

#8 Connor Rozee (North Adelaide/South Australia)

A good season really threw the light utility into high-end draft calculations, with Rozee always thereabouts, but shooting up after a good SANFL League finals series with North Adelaide. Some were wondering what had happened after a quiet National Under 18 Championships, but South Australia threw the bigger bodies in the middle, and Rozee played on flanks, using his elite kicking skills to hurt opposition sides. He is another who will need time to fill out, but he has some promising upside if he can fulfil it. A great character as well, Rozee will ensure he gets the best out of himself which is why Gold Coast would be considering him with pick three.

#9 Tarryn Thomas (North Launceston/Tasmania)

North Melbourne fans have been waiting for Thomas for some time since he burst onto the scene as an Under 16s player for the Allies at the National Under 18 Championships – showing just how gifted he was at that time. He has not waivered from the top 10 in our eyes, and just has massive upside. He is the cleanest player in the draft at ground level with velcro hands, and he oozes class all over the field. He is light, but well built in terms of height, and once he fills out and develops further at AFL level, he will be a star. Genuine X-factor talent and a fully fledged top 10 player, even if a bid comes outside that mark.

#10 Chayce Jones (Launceston/Tasmania)

The 180cm Tasmanian is the smallest midfielder to slot into the first round, but like many others, he does not have too much to fault about his game. Aside from the occasional decision, Jones tends to use the ball well, is one of the best kicks in the draft crop, wins his own ball, runs and has elite athleticism, can kick goals or play off half-back. In short, his game is fairly close to complete and we would probably argue he would be in top five talks if he was five centimetres taller. No reason Jones cannot go top 10 on draft night though, and while he could slide through to the second round, it would be an absolute steal for any club that selects the future captain.

#11 Jackson Hately (Central District/South Australia)

Hately is the South Australian balanced midfielder who just ticks a lot of boxes. He hardly does a thing wrong, yet does not receive the same plaudits as some of the other state representatives. He accumulates the football, can play inside or out, is a clearance expert and uses it consistently by hand or foot. He could walk into a lot of sides early on, and have an impact which could be a great boost for those sides needing a readymade midfielder who has already played senior football against bigger bodies. A player not to discount because he has a lot to offer and he will no doubt show that early on in his career.

#12 Riley Collier-Dawkins (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Unlike some of the other midfielders in the first round, Collier-Dawkins does not have the consistency, but what he does have is the upside. He is that prototype midfielder, built like Patrick Cripps but with Adam Treloar’s burst speed. He is not a huge accumulator of the football, but he can certainly do some amazing things with it, and he has a long, penetrating kick which he uses when up forward or bursting out of a stoppage. He needs to show it on a more consistent basis, but his hurt factor and upside is as good as anyone in the draft. He is a long-term prospect who fans will enjoy watching over the years.

#13 Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Another “Mr Consistency” with a lot of the top midfielders in the draft not having too many major deficiencies in their games. Duursma rarely had a bad game in season 2018, leading the Gippsland Power to a surprise preliminary final, and performing well for Vic Country in defence. He can slot in nearly anywhere on the field, uses the ball well and moves nicely in transition. He is light but can win the contested ball or be the runner on the outside. He also knows how to hit the scoreboard, often picking up speed during a series of quick handballs and unloading from just inside 50 on the run for an important goal.

#14 Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

One of the most consistent players in the draft crop, and you would not be completely silly to suggest he could be the third best midfielder in the draft without injuries hampering his year. He is being talked up as a top 10 prospect and deservedly so. There is not too much to tweak with Caldwell’s game, and if he can get in a big pre-season, the sky is the limit. He can play inside, outside or up forward, and we dare say he would be easily in the top 10 if he had been able to show off his ability more consistently this season. Nonetheless he looms as a very good pick-up for any club that selects him. A great leader too.

#15 Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

One of the top-age draft bloomers who was self-admittedly a fair way off 12 months ago, has turned it around to be a genuine first round prospect in 2018. He is tough as nails and despite multiple injuries – both pre and during games, Stocker battled through admirably. In the absence of Dragons skipper, Bailey Smith late in the year, Stocker stood up terrifically and added another dimension to Sandringham’s midfield brigade. He wins the contested ball, gets to the outside and has a penetrating kick. Once he can further improve his endurance, he could take his game to another level as well.

#16 Jordan Clark (Claremont/Western Australia)

One of a number of players who burst onto the draft scene after a terrific National Under 18 Championships. Could well go top 10 by draft night, but he is rated inside the top 20 safely. He is a creative half-back who moves well and just keeps winning the football. In time, he will be expected to progress onto a wing potentially, but he has made the defence his own throughout the championships. He has the ability to hit-up some terrific pinpoint passes, but it is his decision making and composure, as well as his positioning that sets him aside as a general defender. Likely to be the first natural medium defender picked in the draft.

#17 Rhylee West (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs father-son could receive a bid in the top 20, but is likely to be in that early second round. The Dogs will match and he will head to the kennel where his father, Scott became a legend. Very similar to his father, West is small in stature, but stands tall in heart and determination, with his clean hands, ability to read ruck taps and move through stoppages among the top features in his game. He also knows how to play forward as either a leading forward, or a crumber, and that is where he will start his career before ultimately progressing into the midfield. He might be the 180cm, but he can still do some serious damage in the midfield.

#18 Ian Hill (Perth/Western Australia)

We refuse to drop the exciting small forward/midfielder outside the top 20 despite him seemingly dropping on rankings everywhere. He has far too much X-factor and while 12 months ago he was talked up as a top five pick, his inconsistent season through various injuries and some form dips see him drop to late first round. The West Australian teams are perfectly situated to select him in the draft, and he is another natural born leader. With his cousins, Stephen and Brad already in the purple, Fremantle might look to add to the family tree at the club, with his skills and decision making among the best out there.

#19 Isaac Quaynor (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member will be a gift to the Magpies with Collingwood expected to very quickly match any bid that comes in. He is an outstanding leader, with great athleticism, good run and carry, and decision making. But his biggest strength is his football IQ, that is often not rewarded by looking at highlights, but the work he does off the ball to shut down gaps in play, or intercept balls that float through the middle of the ground – in some instances Quaynor would come off his opponent to dash at a ball and not break stride. He could easily play senior football next year, replacing Sam Murray off half-back.

#20 Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A kid who other than those deep in recruiting circles, many would not have heard of three months ago, now slots into the top 20. He is a medium forward who is good overhead, has elite athleticism and just competes for the football in the air or at ground level. He lacks endurance given he missed the cut for the initial Stingrays’ squad, but has not put a foot wrong since after strong performances for Peninsula Grammar in the APS. With game smarts and creativity in spades, Sturt has great upside that clubs would be excited about developing. Still raw, the forward is a player that will take time, but could be easily worth the wait.

#21 Bailey Williams (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Rated much higher throughout the year, Williams’ inconsistent season at times has him drop a little to just outside the top 20. He is a player who could be snatched up with a first round pick, but is more likely to be top 30 more so than top 20. He has the highest vertical leap of anyone, and he clunks contested marks strongly. Williams has had some worries in front of goal, with confidence and inconsistencies forcing him to miss some gettable shots. He can play ruck or down forward, but is more likely to settle into a key position forward role while giving a chop out in the ruck from time to time.

#22 Zak Butters (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Butters had an early finish to the 2018 season, given the shoulder injury ended his year. He is a fantastic talent with high upside, and can play through the midfield or up forward. He has that touch of class about him and while he is as light as they come, he does not waiver in his attack on the ball. There is no doubt he is more of a long-term prospect with his body size, but he could play forward early in his career, before progressing into the midfield down the track. He is a player that you want to have the ball in his hands, and Butters is the type who will create a nice following because of his good decision making and skill execution in the forward half.

#23 Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Jets and Vic Metro captain has been a consistent player in season 2018, playing both on the inside, outside and up forward. O’Halloran has terrific athleticism, with fantastic acceleration, speed, agility and endurance, as well as an insatiable work ethic that sees him get the best out of himself. He is strong overhead and can penetrate through zones with his kicking, and he is a player who will be considered for the first round, but should not come too much later.

#24 Jez McLennan (Central District/South Australia)

A composed user of the football at half-back, McLennan’s National Under 18 Championships performances threw him into the spotlight and has earned his place inside the top 25. With all the talk around South Australia’s top four, as well as Valente, McLennan has gone about his business well, and is that defender who should be available to most clubs, and a player that will be reliable for years to come. Has SANFL League experience too with Central District, not looking out of place against men, and showing off his elite kicking skills. Adelaide might want to pounce with their last first round pick, but there will be no shortage of clubs in the market for a “quarter-back”.

#25 Bailey Scott (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Allies)

Despite being a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Bailey Scott chose to follow his father and head to Arden Street, with the Kangaroos having first chance to snare the consistent youngster under the father-son bidding system. The Kangaroos won over Scott ahead of the Suns, and Cats, with Scott likely to play up forward early on before progressing into the midfield. He has nice offensive and defensive traits, and despite not looking at smooth as others, he uses the ball well and can hit the scoreboard. Some clubs rate him inside the top 20 – a bid will likely come shortly after, with Scott not escaping into the 30s without being claimed.

#26 Ned McHenry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

The nuggety midfielder/forward might not be the tallest player, but he has all the heart and ability you would want from a player. Not afraid of a scrap, and just attacks the contest with vigour, McHenry offers a club plenty of versatility with his agility and smarts outweighing his 174cm height. He knows where the goals are up forward and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand and executes by hand or foot. A player predicted to drift into the second round because of the size knowing he will have to play outside or as a small forward, McHenry looms as another bargain for clubs past pick 20.

#27 Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The X-factor from the Cannons has had an up-and-down year, which is what is the question mark hanging over him, but no-one could dispute his best is as good as anyone’s in the draft. He struggled for consistency, but when he was “on” he was really on, and could turn a game with a massive quarter of multiple goals. He stood up to be an important player at times through the championships, and looms as one of those players where clubs will be eyeing off each other to see who grabs him first. Taylor has great upside that could result in a genius pick down the track if he drifts to the second round as expected.

#28 Luke Valente (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian MVP and captain led from the front in the National Under 18 Championships, and despite injury curtailing his year, Valente showed enough to suggest he could even push into the first round. At his best he is a top 20 player, and it showed when Valente received an invitation to this year’s AFL National Draft, meaning he is highly likely to be taken in that first round. A natural born leader, aside from some athleticism,  there is not too many faults with his game and expect him to be one of the safest picks in the draft crop with his attack on the ball and willingness to get his hands dirty, second to none.

#29 Luke Foley (Subiaco/Western Australia)

The over-age midfielder has found his straps this season after missing out on being drafted last year. He has become more influential with and without the ball, making good decisions and using it well through the midfield and around the ground. He has a consistent base week-in, week-out and could provide some immediate relief to a team craving an inside midfielder. He made the WAFL Colts Team of the Year despite battling injuries at times, and was solid through the National Under 18 Championships. Expected to be the third or fourth West Australian drafted behind Ian Hill and Jordan Clark, and perhaps Sydney Stack.

#30 Kieren Briggs (GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)

The top GIANTS Academy prospect had a year to remember through the Academy Series and the National Under 18 Championships, winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for both the GIANTS and Allies, while also named ruck of the All Australian side. He adds a point of difference to any side given his high endurance base, and ability to just compete and do all the defensive things, and ground work/second efforts to perfection. He is not the most mobile player, but with a frame that is readymade for senior football, Briggs is highly rated both internally and externally, and is expected to receive a bid in the second round.

#31 Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

An omission from the initial Vic Country team, Smith has come on in leaps and bounds. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone’s during the early part of the season, and he was rewarded with a call-up to Vic Country against Western Australia and was best on ground. From there, he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and showed off his top athleticism, in particular his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and a player who teammates love to play alongside.

#32 Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A Collingwood father-son selection, Kelly is a developing key position defender who has also spent time forward. He is more comfortable behind the ball and the Oakleigh Chargers centre-half back is a player who will join brother, Jake in the AFL. He has shot up on draft boards after a huge year having just played the one TAC Cup game last year. The Pies have prepared to match bids on him and Isaac Quaynor, and will do so when a bid – expected to be sometime in the second round – comes in. He will slot straight into Collingwood’s defence in the future once he adds to his build to compete against stronger forwards.

#33 Sydney Stack (Perth/Western Australia)

A balanced midfield who has the hardness of an inside midfielder and the skills of an outside midfielder. He is undersized for an inside midfielder so expect him to spend more time on the outside and still apply his defensive pressure to the ball carrier. Will battle Luke Foley for the third Western Australian taken, with at least five expected to be selected in the top 40. Stack can play other roles and can hit the scoreboard, but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive ability in his arsenal.

#34 Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Bedford is an electrifying forward who can play through the midfield, and is one of the best for high impact plays. He is a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility, and that keen eye for goals. He is a player that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, otherwise he will make them pay. A member of the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, a bid should come after their first selection, so expect them to match it fairly comfortably. Still raw and needs to find more of the football on a consistent basis, but a nice foundation of skills to progress to the next level in the future.

#35 Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

A much talked about member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, McFadyen was impressive at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies. He has some great athletic traits, and his strength and sheer determination to beat his opponents are evident. McFadyen rotated between the midfield and forward at the championships, and that is what he will be expected to do at AFL level. The Lions rate him highly and he is their top prospect in the draft and they will happily match. Has some great upside to further show his athleticism on the field, and find more of the football on a consistent basis.

#36 Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The brother of Brisbane’s Charlie, Cameron is an identical small forward with equally high footy nous and goal sense inside 50. He is further progressed than his brother was at the same age, and has improved at a rapid rate this season. His five-goal performance against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in the National Under 18 Championships put his name up in lights and he has not looked back, finishing the WAFL season in ripping form for Swan Districts, standing up in big games and continuing to deliver. While he is not a huge accumulator of the football, he knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a high impact per possession.

#37 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian gut-runner is an outside midfielder who uses the ball cleanly and can play multiple roles across the field. He provides run and carry and wins plenty of the ball, making good decisions. He has good all-round athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure and build more size to his light frame, he has a well-balanced game and was one of the most notable improvers for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Expect him to push for top 30, but around this late second/early third is about right. A good pick who is a safe selection.

#38 Buku Khamis (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Khamis is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a half-back role. He is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and has an elite kick in absolutely every sense of the word. He had just over one per cent of his kicks end in clangers, which is a remarkable feat, and while he has to continue to work on his game sense and some more defensive attributes, he is good one-on-one and really strong in the air. Bulldogs fans will be very happy to welcome Khamis to the kennel in the upcoming draft.

#39 Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

While the likes of Bailey Williams and Sam Sturt have caught the headlines, the classy Will Hamill continues to fly under the radar as a prospect with high upside. He is not a huge accumulator and is still quite skinny, but Hamill has that perfect blend of speed and skill, which clubs will turn to – possibly earlier than predicted. He is a smooth mover who has played predominantly off half-back, but also through the midfield such is his ability to work his way out of trouble. He might be more of a long-term prospect than an immediate walk-up starter, but Hamill is someone who could be considered one of the better steals if he develops as he could.

#40 Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The AFL Academy member was a top 30 prospect coming into the year, possibly top 20. But back issues throughout 2018 have seen him drop down the rankings and now the big-bodied inside midfielder looms as a player who can be snatched up mid-draft and provide instant value to any side in the AFL. He is readymade and capable of slotting into the midfield, is strong overhead and has a powerful kick. Bytel was co-captain of the Calder Cannons this season so he has natural leadership qualities to add to a young side, while having the immediate impact for a finals-bound team as well.

#41 Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

The outside runner from Tasmania has had a strong 2018 season, and was one of the more impressive players for the Allies in the National Under 18 Championships. He knows how to win the ball and get forward, and would add an extra element of class to any side. The next step is improving his contested work, but his outside game is very good, and expect his run and carry to be highly sought after in the draft. Another player amongst the mid-draft log-jam of players who have improvements to make but have a nice foundation base of traits from which clubs can build upon.

#42 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia)

Another West Australian who honestly seems a little underrated for what he offers. He has only played at Colts level in the WAFL which might be a knock on him, but he consistently racks up the ball, and even at the National Under 18 Championships before injury struck, Greaves showed he has good athletic traits. He uses the ball well under pressure, executing by hand or foot. He screams a bit of Tom Doedee, not in the same comparison, but in the way that he has traits which catch the eye and Greaves could go higher than what many might think. Good value at this stage and one player we rate.

#43 Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushranges/Allies)

A versatile key position player who is better suited in defence, as shown during the National Under 18 Championships, earning All Australian honours. Koschitzke while not super athletic, is mobile enough to match it with most players, and has the size to take on the bigger forwards going around. He is a member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and is really strong one-on-one and does not often get beaten easily.  However, under the ruling of the Riverina area now being up for grabs, Koschitzke is just that – up for grabs for anyone, so not tied to the GIANTS. He has had a really impressive season, that after starting okay, came alive during the championships and has not looked back. Injury ended his year early, but he’s a perfect pick for a third round selection.

#44 Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Ross is an interesting player to place. He just received a State Combine invitation, but looking at his overall profile, there is not a lot of deficiencies in his game. He is consistent, a leader, uses the ball pretty well, wins clearances, goes in hard, runs both ways and just gets the job done, week-in, week-out. There are not too many State Combine invitees who get drafted in the top 50 – usually one per year on average, but Ross could be that player. His ability to play a multitude of roles through the midfield helps, and he is more readymade than most to stand up against senior bodies. A good mid-draft prospect.

#45 Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The exciting Dandenong utility has the capability to do some amazing things on the football field, he just needs to find the consistency to take the next step. Foot is a remarkable story, coming from a long way back having missed initial selection for the Stingrays, coming into the program in 2018 and then bursting out of the blocks with a strong first half of the season to earn Vic Country honours. He had a quieter second half of the season, but still had some eye-catching moments, and he knows how to run and hit the scoreboard, playing inside or out, and has a good base from which clubs can work with at the next level, and a high scope of improvement.

#46 Tyron Smallwood (Claremont/Western Australia)

Not much has been said about the classy outside midfielder/small forward, but he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and is one of the players we rate as a mid-draft prospect. He just does a lot right and is a player who while undersized, is capable of being accountable for an opponent. He kicks goals and lays tackles, and can also move through the midfield with an ability to win the footy and drive it forward. He is not as quick as other small forwards, but he has fairly good evasion skills, and his ability to execute by hand or foot is impressive. Smallwood just seems like the type of player that clubs secretly want to drop and then call it a bargain later on, because he has some very draftable qualities.

#47 James Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Rowbottom is the well-publicised nephew of ‘BT’ (Brian Taylor) and is another one of many inside midfielders in the draft crop. He has good speed and never takes a backwards step, being one of the top clearance midfielders in the TAC Cup. He wins it on the inside, spreads to the outside and just keeps plugging away all day long. Rowbottom needs to improve his endurance, but he has the talent to keep improving, and the dedication to make sure it happens. Another one who could easily go earlier should a club like what he has to offer, but expect him to be a mid-draft option and a player who could slide into a senior side fairly early on, with Rowbottom just needing to sharpen up his kicking a bit.

#48 Laitham Vandermeer (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Had it not been for an unfortunate sling tackle in the National Under 18 Championships, Vandermeer’s year could have been even better. To that point, the overager was looking as good as any other 1999-born player going around in the TAC Cup, and it earned him a place in Vic Country’s side. His run-and-carry, dare and dash really excited fans, and he is the type of player that just takes off and does not fear taking the game on. He wins a lot of the football and while he is predominantly an outside player, he uses his speed to also apply defensive pressure, and fiercely attacks the ball carrier. One who could go later or as a rookie, but the need for speed is great in modern football, and Vandermeer has that need in spades.

#49 Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

In the back half of the season, school footballers who did not get the call-up or choose not to play TAC Cup early in the season often throw on the jumper for the final month, and Reynolds is one of those. Not too dissimilar to Nathan Murphy the year before, Reynolds is that medium-tall utility who can play anywhere on the ground. Hailing from Brighton Grammar – the same school as Murphy – Reynolds is a nice kick of the football, and just knows how to find it. He is one of those dark horses of the draft that could be plucked out early given his scope for improvement.

#50 Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

Hawthorn fans have a beauty in ‘Mozzie’ with the exciting forward the kind of player that could walk away from a game with 10 touches and you go home thinking “gee how good was he?”. Mosquito’s clean ball use is about as good as you will see, with his ability to pick the ball off the deck in the wet like he has velcro hands is up there with the likes of Tarryn Thomas at the top of the charts. Like any small forward, Mosquito does need to work on his consistency, but he is a natural match winner who worries opponents whenever he gets near the football. Attacks both offensively and defensively with vigour and is not afraid to bring down much bigger opponents.

#51 Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A medium forward who plays taller than his 184cm, even though it looks at times as if a gust of wind might knock him over. Very light, Kemp has a great vertical leap, impressive closing speed, and an insatiable attack on the football and ball carrier. He does all the defensive things right which is what you want from any player, but especially a forward who is capable of a nice highlights package as well. Received the call-up from school football after an impressive season, then was very good for the Cannons in the final month. Knows where the goals are, and when he is not kicking them, he is trying to win the ball back.

#52 Riley Bowman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

It might be a bit strange to see the big man this far down after being so high initially, but as we see every year, rucks tend to drop towards November as the reality of whether or not talls are worth taking early continues to rage. As one of only a handful of genuine ruck talents, expect Bowman to land somewhere in the second half of the draft with some nice ruck work, but will be viewed as a long-term prospect. At times had a bit of an up-and-down year, but turned it on in the TAC Cup decider and was one of the best for the Stingrays, which gave clubs a huge indication of where he might fall.

#53 Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A high impact per possession player, Ham over-age year was a massive improvement on past years, and is yet a third 19 year-old in this list that might get a second chance. Playing half-forward, half-back and on the wing, Ham is arguably the best athlete when taking into account speed, agility and endurance, with the Falcons utility in the top few across all the tests. He is still light so will need to bulk up a bit and iron out the kicking so it is a bit more consistent, but when he is up and about he is very damaging. He is a player that only needs a handful of touches to turn a match and he has the athletic capabilities to completely wear down an opponent and on that alone, he deserves a spot on this list.

#54 Tom McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

McKenzie has had a solid year playing TAC Cup and school football, and is that mid-range draft prospect who is still raw, but has some nice traits. He is likely to have found a nice role at half-back, using his kicking to advantage, along with his ability to set-up well and position himself for intercept marks. A very lightly built player, McKenzie can also play in the midfield, often on a wing with lightning pace that he does not often show in games – he clocked 2.9 seconds on the 20m sprint. Once he can really implement his athletic abilities to impact a contest, he will be all the more damaging.

#55 Tom Berry (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

The lightning younger brother of Brisbane Lions’ Jarrod, offers really unbelievable value here. Over the past 18 months, Berry has struggled to get on the park for continuity, and therefore slipped down the order. His kicking and decision making at times is rushed, but in terms of athletic capabilities there are few better. His agility and acceleration is elite, and he can play down back or up forward, but he is best suited to the inside midfield role. He has that breakaway speed that would see him burst out of a stoppage and leave his opponents behind which is always something fans love to see.

#56 Tom Sparrow (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sparrow is a player who we have seen divide opinions as to where he falls in the draft, with his athleticism up there with the best of them, and just needing to iron out his kicking and decision making at times. He played mostly school football before returning to the South Adelaide Under 18s where he was as consistent as any other player in the competition. Sparrow has some great upside, and there’s certainly a lot to work with going forward, and like so many others here, is a top leader who will never let you down with his determination and leading by example.

#57 Tom Joyce (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

The tough, inside midfielder from East Fremantle did not get to show off his ability this year due to injury, but was rated as a solid third round choice – possibly higher with a good year – coming into 2018. While his size works against him for an inside midfielder at AFL level, he still represents great value, and is one of a number of players in this late bracket that could find a home despite having his most important footballing year ruined by injury. He has good speed, clean hands, great endurance and is one of the more professional players in the draft crop, so will be another who can slot straight in and do everything expected of him from day one.

#58 Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

A bit of an underrated player, Hanrahan offers great value later in the draft. The exciting forward has an impressive ability to impact a match inside 50, and does not need many touches to influence the contest. While he can be hot and cold at times, the brother of Hawthorn’s Ollie, has shown he has some draftable qualities. Classy, composed and an ability to move into the midfield and run off a wing, against his consistency, is something that recruiters will consider when weighing up whether to select Hanrahan. He will add a point of difference to a forward line, and has high upside for fans to look forward to in the future.

#59 Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Everyone talked about Geelong and Collingwood’s pick swap in the 50s as benefiting the Pies, but it also benefited the Cats, with the Geelong father-son selection of Brownless likely to occur sometime in the late 50s onwards. He lacks a yard of speed, but what he lacks in that area, he makes up for in almost unrivalled endurance. He can run all day long, and not only have an impact in the midfield, but up forward as well. Could end up more of a forward in his AFL career, as he has that unique goal sense and game smarts that gets him there.

#60 Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons/Coburg/Vic Metro)

The ‘Pod’ kicks off our list because after missing out last year, he has gone back and worked on various areas that he might have lacked in – which included question marks over his ability to play as a full-time midfielder. He spent most of his top-age year playing more key position or third-tall roles rather than in the midfield, and in 2018, he became that midfielder that everyone at the Cannons knew he could be. He spent time in the VFL and impressed, while not losing his versatility to play anywhere on the ground. A great leader, good overhead, just slots into any side and could instantly improve the culture with his own standards and a player that certainly deserves a call-up.

AFL Draft Central November 2018 Power Rankings: 31-45

WITH just two weeks until the 2018 AFL National Draft, AFL Draft Central is counting down by naming our top 60 players to watch out for in the draft with our final Power Rankings for the year. We have extended it from 35 to 60 just to throw out some names that might have flown under the radar and might be great value late. It is no surprise this was a hard exercise, with as many as 20 others players coming forward as legitimately deserving a place on the list, such is the evenness towards the back-end of the draft. While even for us the top 60 would change regularly based on more discussions and re-watching footage, we take a look at our top 60, looking at our 30-45 players today. Remember this is purely opinion-based and does not take into consideration any particular team selections.

Our 46-60 rankings can be found here.

#45 Zac Foot (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The exciting Dandenong utility has the capability to do some amazing things on the football field, he just needs to find the consistency to take the next step. Foot is a remarkable story, coming from a long way back having missed initial selection for the Stingrays, coming into the program in 2018 and then bursting out of the blocks with a strong first half of the season to earn Vic Country honours. He had a quieter second half of the season, but still had some eye-catching moments, and he knows how to run and hit the scoreboard, playing inside or out, and has a good base from which clubs can work with at the next level, and a high scope of improvement.

#44 Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Ross is an interesting player to place. He just received a State Combine invitation, but looking at his overall profile, there is not a lot of deficiencies in his game. He is consistent, a leader, uses the ball pretty well, wins clearances, goes in hard, runs both ways and just gets the job done, week-in, week-out. There are not too many State Combine invitees who get drafted in the top 50 – usually one per year on average, but Ross could be that player. His ability to play a multitude of roles through the midfield helps, and he is more readymade than most to stand up against senior bodies. A good mid-draft prospect.

#43 Jacob Koschitzke (Murray Bushranges/Allies)

A versatile key position player who is better suited in defence, as shown during the National Under 18 Championships, earning All Australian honours. Koschitzke while not super athletic, is mobile enough to match it with most players, and has the size to take on the bigger forwards going around. He is a member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and is really strong one-on-one and does not often get beaten easily.  However, under the ruling of the Riverina area now being up for grabs, Koschitzke is just that – up for grabs for anyone, so not tied to the GIANTS. He has had a really impressive season, that after starting okay, came alive during the championships and has not looked back. Injury ended his year early, but he’s a perfect pick for a third round selection.

#42 Damon Greaves (East Perth/Western Australia)

Another West Australian who honestly seems a little underrated for what he offers. He has only played at Colts level in the WAFL which might be a knock on him, but he consistently racks up the ball, and even at the National Under 18 Championships before injury struck, Greaves showed he has good athletic traits. He uses the ball well under pressure, executing by hand or foot. He screams a bit of Tom Doedee, not in the same comparison, but in the way that he has traits which catch the eye and Greaves could go higher than what many might think. Good value at this stage and one player we rate.

#41 Fraser Turner (Tasmania/Allies)

The outside runner from Tasmania has had a strong 2018 season, and was one of the more impressive players for the Allies in the National Under 18 Championships. He knows how to win the ball and get forward, and would add an extra element of class to any side. The next step is improving his contested work, but his outside game is very good, and expect his run and carry to be highly sought after in the draft. Another player amongst the mid-draft log-jam of players who have improvements to make but have a nice foundation base of traits from which clubs can build upon.

#40 Jack Bytel (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The AFL Academy member was a top 30 prospect coming into the year, possibly top 20. But back issues throughout 2018 have seen him drop down the rankings and now the big-bodied inside midfielder looms as a player who can be snatched up mid-draft and provide instant value to any side in the AFL. He is readymade and capable of slotting into the midfield, is strong overhead and has a powerful kick. Bytel was co-captain of the Calder Cannons this season so he has natural leadership qualities to add to a young side, while having the immediate impact for a finals-bound team as well.

#39 Will Hamill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

While the likes of Bailey Williams and Sam Sturt have caught the headlines, the classy Will Hamill continues to fly under the radar as a prospect with high upside. He is not a huge accumulator and is still quite skinny, but Hamill has that perfect blend of speed and skill, which clubs will turn to – possibly earlier than predicted. He is a smooth mover who has played predominantly off half-back, but also through the midfield such is his ability to work his way out of trouble. He might be more of a long-term prospect than an immediate walk-up starter, but Hamill is someone who could be considered one of the better steals if he develops as he could.

#38 Buku Khamis (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Khamis is a player who just needs to bulk up before slotting into a half-back role. He is a great reader of the ball in flight, positions himself well and has an elite kick in absolutely every sense of the word. He had just over one per cent of his kicks end in clangers, which is a remarkable feat, and while he has to continue to work on his game sense and some more defensive attributes, he is good one-on-one and really strong in the air. Bulldogs fans will be very happy to welcome Khamis to the kennel in the upcoming draft.

#37 Jacob Kennerley (Norwood/South Australia)

The South Australian gut-runner is an outside midfielder who uses the ball cleanly and can play multiple roles across the field. He provides run and carry and wins plenty of the ball, making good decisions. He has good all-round athleticism and while he could improve his tackling pressure and build more size to his light frame, he has a well-balanced game and was one of the most notable improvers for South Australia at the National Under 18 Championships. Expect him to push for top 30, but around this late second/early third is about right. A good pick who is a safe selection.

#36 Jarrod Cameron (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The brother of Brisbane’s Charlie, Cameron is an identical small forward with equally high footy nous and goal sense inside 50. He is further progressed than his brother was at the same age, and has improved at a rapid rate this season. His five-goal performance against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in the National Under 18 Championships put his name up in lights and he has not looked back, finishing the WAFL season in ripping form for Swan Districts, standing up in big games and continuing to deliver. While he is not a huge accumulator of the football, he knows how to hit the scoreboard and has a high impact per possession.

#35 Connor McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

A much talked about member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, McFadyen was impressive at the National Under 18 Championships for the Allies. He has some great athletic traits, and his strength and sheer determination to beat his opponents are evident. McFadyen rotated between the midfield and forward at the championships, and that is what he will be expected to do at AFL level. The Lions rate him highly and he is their top prospect in the draft and they will happily match. Has some great upside to further show his athleticism on the field, and find more of the football on a consistent basis.

#34 Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Bedford is an electrifying forward who can play through the midfield, and is one of the best for high impact plays. He is a natural match-winner with great acceleration and agility, and that keen eye for goals. He is a player that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, otherwise he will make them pay. A member of the Melbourne Next Generation Academy, a bid should come after their first selection, so expect them to match it fairly comfortably. Still raw and needs to find more of the football on a consistent basis, but a nice foundation of skills to progress to the next level in the future.

#33 Sydney Stack (Perth/Western Australia)

A balanced midfield who has the hardness of an inside midfielder and the skills of an outside midfielder. He is undersized for an inside midfielder so expect him to spend more time on the outside and still apply his defensive pressure to the ball carrier. Will battle Luke Foley for the third Western Australian taken, with at least five expected to be selected in the top 40. Stack can play other roles and can hit the scoreboard, but his balance between offence and defence is the most impressive ability in his arsenal.

#32 Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A Collingwood father-son selection, Kelly is a developing key position defender who has also spent time forward. He is more comfortable behind the ball and the Oakleigh Chargers centre-half back is a player who will join brother, Jake in the AFL. He has shot up on draft boards after a huge year having just played the one TAC Cup game last year. The Pies have prepared to match bids on him and Isaac Quaynor, and will do so when a bid – expected to be sometime in the second round – comes in. He will slot straight into Collingwood’s defence in the future once he adds to his build to compete against stronger forwards.

#31 Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

An omission from the initial Vic Country team, Smith has come on in leaps and bounds. His TAC Cup form was as good as anyone’s during the early part of the season, and he was rewarded with a call-up to Vic Country against Western Australia and was best on ground. From there, he earned a National Draft Combine invitation and showed off his top athleticism, in particular his vertical jump. A big-bodied inside midfielder, Smith is a fierce competitor and a player who teammates love to play alongside.

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: 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final

WE witnessed one of the all-time great Grand Finals on the weekend, with Dandenong Stingrays holding on by a goal against the Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park.

Dandenong Stingrays:

By: Peter Bonadio and Peter Williams

#1 Sam Fletcher

Ball magnet during the grand final always finds a way to get the footy in his hands. Pretty good by foot in his sides win, having a massive 11 disposals in the opening term, and 18 by half-time. Won more than half of his touches on the inside, and just worked hard all day long. Finished the day with a sore shoulder and blood down his face and jumper – his second jumper of the day, having to change from the number one, to the number 61 in the second half.

#2 Hayden Young

Solid defender who reads the play well when the ball comes into defence. Great vision to sense where his teammates are and has the ability by foot to get the footy to them. Has distance by foot to switch play effectively as well. Used the ball very well and won the majority of the ball in close, can play inside or outside and will be a top pick next year. All class.

#3 Jamie Plumridge

Good hands to get the ball out of congestion and find open teammates on the outside. He showed good composure and did well when under pressure. Plumridge finished the game with 17 touches four marks, three inside 50s and three tackles.

#7 Jai Taylor

A quieter game for Taylor, but he did try and break the game open at times. Has that electrifying speed when he gets going though and had a couple of eye-catching moments. Finished with the 10 disposals and two inside 50s.

#9 Zac Foot

Two goals in a grand final, Foot has a great goal sense. He was very lively when up forward and applies a lot of pressure on his opponents. Not only was he good overhead in contests, but something good always seems to happen when he is involved in the passage of play. His best finals game with 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and the two majors.

#13 Riley Bowman

One of, if not his best game for the season. Bowman was terrific across four quarters and made the most of his height advantage over the smaller Oakleigh ruckmen. He was dominant at the stoppages and got first hands to it on most occasions, but also did the defensive things right, laying tackles, and putting pressure on the ball carrier. He kicked the opening goal of the game and got the crowd up and about early. He did occasionally rush a few kicks to go for distance rather than accuracy, but overall it was a strong game, and he made his presence felt with some good contested marks.

#15 Toby Bedford

He set the tone early with a great tackle inside 50 and just seemed to find space around the ground winning the ball. At times he danced around opponents and tried to set up plays, and while he was not as effective as his past two finals, still had a few eye-catching moments. He kicked an important goal in the second term to keep Dandenong’s momentum high, he just did not have the four quarter consistency on the day, picking up nine of his 10 touches in the middle two quarters.

#16 Jake Frawley

If there is one image that will stick with Dandenong Stingrays fans from the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final, it is Frawley charging off the interchange bench to crunch Will Phillips in a bone-crunching tackle that exemplified Dandenong’s intent on the day. Unfortunately he had a mis-kick with the free he won, and his kicking was a bit hit and miss at times, but his defensive pressure and hands in close was good.

#18 Mitch Riordan

He has built some really solid form since returning from injury, and did a few nice things when the heat was on in the game. Early on he took a good intercept mark at half-back, and just used the ball really cleanly both on the inside and out. He does not win a heap of it, but he gets involved around the stoppages and provided good support along with his other midfielders.

#27 Lachlan McDonnell

The stats sheet does not do McDonnell justice for the game he played. While he was quiet early, his long kick off half-back set up a scoring chain to lead to Bailey Williams’ first goal early in the second term. With the game on the line, McDonnell’s second and third terms were very good, creating run and carry, trying to drive the ball forward. His kicking was a treat to watch, and it was his running goal from 50m in the final term that sealed the game – or so everyone thought at the time. Really strong out of defence and would have high metres gained.

#29 Bailey Williams

Had a quiet first term and was beaten on-on-one by Will Kelly, but then started to get going after that. His one kick in the first term set up a goal with a good, deep inside 50. Williams had a chance in the second term and it looked a bit of a mongrel off the boot but it floated through for his first to get the team up and about. He kicked another important goal in the third term, and missed another chance, when Oakleigh were coming at them. He did not have a massive contribution compared to some weeks, but he did kick two goals at important stages.

#58 Will Hamill

Played a really important role in the back half. He took a crucial intercept mark in the dying minutes when he read the play perfectly, floated in front of an Oakleigh forward, snatched the ball from them and kept running to kick it out of the danger zone. His decision to come off his opponent and chop off the inboard kick could have saved a goal, and potentially the match. He won a number of crucial one-on-ones throughout the match, and even coach, Craig Black praised him post-match for his consistency back there under siege. He just has that touch of class, and is a kick-first type player.

#59 Sam Sturt

The draft bolter looked lively early, and actually beat Isaac Quaynor a couple of times on the lead, forcing Oakleigh to switch Quaynor with Charlie Beasley. Sturt not only provided a presence on the lead, but his effectiveness when kicking inside 50 was a treat. He set up a goal for Zac Foot in the first term when he handballed off the deck to the waiting Foot. In the second half he hit the scoreboard, booting two goals, while finding plenty of the football for a leading forward, taking six marks and firing the ball inside 50 on five occasions.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

By: Craig Byrnes

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

The tall midfielder was enjoyable to watch, producing an influential first half in particular that garnered 13 disposals. He was strong and clean in congestion, often getting his arms high to release or accelerating with eye catching flair into the forward half. He kicked a great goal in the first term, turning into the arc to finish brilliantly from 45 metres out. He is good overhead too, which is a pretty handy trait for a mid at 193cm, taking two strong marks from opposition kicks. He even spent some time in the ruck late, winning a couple of hit outs to advantage to the surprise of many. The first round prospect fought hard all day for his 19 disposals.

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

The exciting half back won his fair share of the ball, rebounding from the defensive arc with flair and vigour as we have become accustomed to. While he is encouraged to take the game on, he uncharacteristically got caught with the ball on occasions. He lost his feet and fumbled at crucial times in dangerous positions, but a lot of that can be applauded to Dandenong’s brilliant defensive pressure. He still had a good offensive outing though, giving his team drive and carry with the occasional evasive trick during the Charger’s final term comeback to end with 18 disposals.

#4 Will Kelly

Started the game in defence as one of Oakleigh’s KPDs, manning the dangerous and athletic Bailey Williams and began in fine fashion. He killed a couple of difficult entrances to the favour of Williams in the first term and consistently read the flight of the ball well. He won plenty of leather in the first half too with 13 disposals, but this is where he sometimes let himself down. Despite possessing a technically correct and attractive kicking action for his size, he often over hit his kicks which led to turnovers, including one that directly became a Dandenong goal. Spent more time up the ground in the second half, including stints in the ruck where he won eight hit outs. He finished with 19 disposals and is a great looking prospect for Collingwood as a father-son selection.

#5 Xavier O’Neill

The smart midfielder had his moments throughout the afternoon, spending time at the stoppages and finding the ball on the offensive side of the contests. He generally used the ball well, but had times when he could have made better decisions going forward. He did create some fast links though, including a long handball through the corridor in the third quarter and a brilliantly won ground clearance in the final term when Oakleigh were fighting back into contention. He finished with 17 disposals and five tackles in what was a solid outing for the Chargers.

#9 James Rowbottom

The usually prolific midfielder was in and around the ball, but struggled to have his usual influence at the stoppages. While he often finds a way to make time slow down in congestion, that relaxed manner saw him holding the ball for too long against the Stingray’s ferocious pressure in the first term and he was chased down. His intensity lifted after that, as he started accumulating ball and taking the first option to create faster link ups for his side. He released some really creative handballs during the final term in particular, nearly all of which ended as Oakleigh scores. Certainly did not disgrace himself, winning 18 disposals in a consistent performance.

#11 Matt Rowell

If you did not know much about the Charger’s bottom-aged star, you should be all over him now as he again proved to be a high priority selection for clubs at the 2019 Draft by being a rare best on ground recipient in a losing team. He is an elite decision maker with ball in hand, a player that creates comfort for his teammates and coaches. While his 31 possessions provided many excellent moments, his clear highlight was a brilliant kick to Dylan Williams inside 50 under extreme pressure. He took the game on in the corridor to get his side back in the game and while that led to some uncharacteristic errors, he was hugely influential in getting Oakleigh close. This kid is a genuine star and a worthy medallist.

#12 Noah Answerth

I really enjoyed the game of the Charger’s skipper, a competitor that was never going to let Dandenong have anything easy in any circumstance. He started at the first centre bounce and often went back to help his defence by sitting in the hole or directing traffic. He produced a big moment in the second term, chasing down the dangerous Toby Bedford deep in defence who looked like snapping a simple goal. He was effective at the stoppages too, using his body to advantage, spinning out of trouble and quickly releasing at one point in the second quarter. He was not far off Rowell and Collier-Dawkins as Oakleigh’s best, collecting 26 disposals, four clearances and six rebound 50s.

#13 Atu Bosenavualagi

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect is giving clubs plenty to think about. He is one of the big improvers in the competition and his AFL attributes are becoming more obvious by the week. He set the early pressure intensity for Oakleigh, making himself known without the ball and being physical towards his opponents. Although it is his attacking play that has really come on in recent weeks. A subtle side step out of traffic to create a goal for Williams gave Oakleigh an early lead late in the first term, while he took a clever mark from behind his opponent later in the first half. In the third term he burned off an opponent to give his side a genuine spark by kicking a bounce and carry goal. He is lively and if he wins 17 disposals like he did on Saturday, he will more than likely have an impact.

#22 Dylan Williams

Another bottom-aged star that had a relevant influence on the close result. Williams continued his outstanding purple patch of goal kicking form to finish with four goals from full-forward. While he only had nine disposals in an underrated one on one battle with Daniel Frampton, he created problems for the Dandenong defender whenever the ball entered his zone. Three of his goals came from left foot snaps or “J-curve” set shots, a skill he already appears to have mastered. His best came from a freakish, almost half-volley pick up from which he swung onto his left again with absolute class. He also smartly went around the corner to set up a goal for Robertson in the opening term and took an excellent contested mark against three opponents in the goal square for his first goal. This latest haul means he has kicked a total of 14 goals for the finals series, a very early indication that this kid has the tools to be a big game player at the top level.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Probably one of the higher rated players that Oakleigh would have liked to get more out of. Quaynor started the game on Dandenong’s dangerous hybrid forward Sam Sturt, who exposed the Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect on the lead early. It led to Quaynor being moved off him before the end of the first quarter and he immediately looked more comfortable as the extra defender. With ball in hand he was calm and made good decisions behind the ball, before being moved to the midfield later in the game. He did not get a great opportunity to settle, but we already know what he offers and the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid come November.

#31 Will Golds

The predominantly outside midfielder or wingman consistently found himself with ball in hand, winning it 25 times in a very productive outing. He is a player who loves to be on the move when in possession, whether it is darting through traffic or running to space to create a link up option. He is smart and releases it quickly, often with the next play up the field in mind. He gets in good positions and knows where to find a handball receive, while his kicking was creative despite a missed short pass in the middle that became a turnover during the third term. He did present Collier-Dawkins with a lovely long weighted pass inside 50 in the first quarter that helped earn his teammate a free kick and regularly hit up targets on the run.

#32 Jack Ross

The thick set inside midfielder has been generating a bit of interest in recent times and again produced some good moments in the Grand Final. He impressed when he went back with the flight and then laid an aggressive tackle, gathered the loose ball cleanly and quickly released to start the chain for an important Dylan Williams goal in the first term. He also won an excellent ground ball in the third term that set up Atu’s memorable running goal, again at a vital period to keep Oakleigh within reach. He then got on the end of one to kick a goal that got his side within two goals in the final term. He is a good player and most importantly rose when his team needed it most in an underrated outing to finish with 19 disposals.

#64 James Jordan

The draft bolter of Oakleigh’s midfield started the game on fire, winning 10 first quarter possessions to be one of the best players on the ground early in the contest. He won two extremely clean ground balls during that period, releasing both to the advantage of his teammates. He was having a genuine influence, but certainly quietened as the match went on. He earned a free kick in the final term after putting his head over the ball, but was rarely sighted otherwise after the first break. He ended the game with a respectable 17 disposals and it will be interesting to see where clubs rate him, as there is certainly some talent.

 

Non-Combine invitees who stood out:

#23 Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong) – 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds and four clearances – huge contributor in the midfield by the co-captain.

#41 Lachlan Stenning (Dandenong) – 21 disposals, two marks, four clearances, four inside 50s, six rebounds – clean out of defence and stood out throughout with some important rebounds.

#10 Charlie Whitehead (Oakleigh) – 17 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s – put pressure in that forward 50 as he always does and could hold his head high.

Comprehensive 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final Preview

IT is the equivalent of Christmas Day for the TAC Cup competition, with the two best teams for the year facing off in a decider. We have the clear benchmark all season, in the Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the red-hot Oakleigh Chargers, who have been in sensational form since all their school kids returned to the team. We take a look at the big game from multiple angles in our Ultimate Preview of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

 

2018 SEASON REVIEW

1. Dandenong Stingrays – 15 wins, 1 loss, 211%, 60 points
3. Oakleigh Chargers – 10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 151%, 42 points

HEAD TO HEAD

R5: Oakleigh Chargers 11.6 (72) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 9.12 (66) at Warrawee Park
R9: Dandenong Stingrays 13.17 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 6.4 (40) at Shepley Oval

CHANGES SINCE ROUND 5 THRILLER*

*Including extended benches

Dandenong:
IN: Sam Fletcher, Hayden Young, Toby Bedford, Finlay Bayne, Mitch Riordan, Daniel Frampton, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan, Matthew Cumming, Sam Sturt
OUT: Jake Carosella, James Hickey, Jarrod Smith, William Geurts, Sam De Koning, Bailey Angwin

Oakleigh:
IN: Will Kelly, Noah Anderson, James Rowbottom, Matthew Rowell, Kyle Dunkley, Lucas Westwood, Trent Bianco, Bailey Wraith, Will Golds, Jack Ross, Matt Warren, James Jordan
OUT: Sam Harte, Lachlan Bugeja, Xavier Fry, Matthew Fewings, Ben Silvagni, Kyle Viccars, Josh May, Daniel Scala, Lachlan Harry, Sam Elliot

 

WHO HAS COMBINE INVITES?

National:

Dandenong Stingrays [6]: Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams
Oakleigh Chargers [7]: Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Will Kelly, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, James Rowbottom

State/Rookie Me:

Dandenong Stingrays [10]: Stephen Cumming, Sam Fletcher, Jake Frawley, Matthew Gahan, Lachlan McDonnell, Jamie Plumridge, Mitch Riordan, Bailey Schmidt, Jai Taylor, Lachlan Young
Oakleigh Chargers [6]: Joe Ayton Delaney, Atu Bosenavulagi, Kyle Dunkley, Jake Gasper, James Jordon, Jack Ross

Note: Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh) and Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong) have combine invitations but are unavailable due to injury.

PLAYERS

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

#1 Sam FLETCHER

Just keeps winning the football every week and puts in a consistent effort. He will join Hustwaite on the inside and look to fire out a number of handballs to teammates in space, and will often look to win that one-on-one duel when given the chance. Does not get to the outside as much as other midfielders, but does all the damage at the coal face, expect him to be prominent in there again.

#2 Hayden YOUNG

The potential number one pick next year looked sore throughout the preliminary final last week and got moved from the back pocket to the extended interchange, so it appeared to be a waiting game on whether he would play. Unbelievable talent with and a hardness at the ball, can play anywhere on the field, but he has been used off half-back with that smooth running and deadly foot skills a highlight.

#3 Jamie PLUMRIDGE

Tipped by TAC Cup Radio’s Matthew Cocks for the Best on Ground, Plumridge has been a consistent performer this year. Plumridge is an outside midfielder who often wins it on the wing and pumps it inside 50 to the tall targets.

#7 Jai TAYLOR

An electrifying speedster, Taylor is one of the fastest players in the competition, and with Toby Bedford, has the capability of breaking the lines and causing disruption amongst the opposition zone. While he does not always do it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and take the game on.

#9 Zac FOOT

Burst onto the scene early in the season to make Vic Country after never having made a previous Stingrays’ squad. He played throughout the National Under 18 Championships, and while he did not star, he still had some impressive moments. Adds a different element to the team because he can win it inside or out, play back, forward or through the midfield and has a high impact per possession when he is on.

#10 Lachlan YOUNG

A defender who loves to rebound and use the ball well, he does not find a lot of it – averaging just 12.5 disposals per game. But almost 25 per cent of his possessions are rebounds, with Young ensuring the ball can clear the defensive zone.

#11 Ned CAHILL

Named as the 23rd player, Cahill showed in last week’s preliminary final just how damaging he could be booting two goals and passed off another couple. Still a bottom-age player, Cahill has emerged as a genuine goal sneak at 177cm. Has to be respected because he just gets to the right positions.

#12 Matthew GAHAN

Has enjoyed a really solid season off half-back earning himself a State Combine invitation. Gahan is a strong ball user and a player who his teammates like getting the ball into the hands of. With Oakleigh’s strong forward line, Gahan will need to be used both offensively and defensively in order to still create drive while restricting one of the many dangerous Chargers’ defenders.

#13 Riley BOWMAN

Is suited to the number one ruck role, but can play forward which is where he is expected to play. Often the Stingrays rotate Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Bailey Williams through the ruck such is their luxury. Bowman’s pure ruckwork is arguably the best of the lot, because he gets his hands to most throw-ins or ball-ups and can palm down to his midfielders. Big men seem to be out of fashion lately, so a big game would be huge to determine where he slots in.

#15 Toby BEDFORD

One of the most in-form Stingrays of late, Bedford has a great mix of offensive and defensive skills, providing line-breaking ability as well as tackling pressure in the forward half. He can kick multiple goals in a game, and pinch-hit in the midfield to break up the game. He offers a different element to the Dandenong midfield, and the Melbourne Next Generation Academy player is one who Demons fans will enjoy watching over the years, with the assumption they match the bid that comes in.

#16 Jake FRAWLEY

A strong midfielder who can play out of full-forward such is his strength one-on-one or in the air. Booted six goals against against Bendigo Pioneers at Shepley Oval playing almost exclusively as a forward. He adds some depth to the midfield and his versatility is important when the big day rolls around.

#17 Finlay BAYNE

Another dangerous small forward who can play through the midfield. Due to the depth in the Stingrays onball brigade, Bayne has found a nice spot in the forward 50 and is good for a couple of goals a game. He is a good mover with good goal sense.

#18 Mitch RIORDAN

Highly rated at the start of the season, Riordan had injury concerns and missed the bulk of the National Under 18 Championships, and has only recently returned in the past month. He can use the ball well, and while he does not win much of it, he can often be found coming out of a stoppage and kicking forward. Athletically he is very good, testing well in the 20m sprint, agility test and yo-yo test, so it is just getting game time into him.

#23 Campbell HUSTWAITE

The Stingrays captain is another player who has been in fine form the past couple of months and seems made for the big stage. He has lead from the front in the TAC Cup finals series and does everything expected of him. Against a strong Oakleigh midfield, his desire and competitiveness will be called upon to match it with the likes of Jack Ross and James Rowbottom. Hustwaite could be a best on ground chance given you know exactly what you will get from him each week.

#27 Lachlan MCDONNELL

Played at half-forward for the start of the season and has progressed onto the wing. Of all the Dandenong midfielders, McDonnell is one of the Stingrays’ most damaging kicks in transition. He is predominantly outside compared to the others, but he finds space and pumps it long inside 50.

#28 Bailey SCHMIDT

The big man has been unlucky not to play more games because he is a damaging presence up forward with great athleticism. He has just landed at a club in a year with ridiculous amounts of talent in the ruck/forward position. Still earned a State Combine invite, and while he has been named on the extended bench, is still one who has been able to show his wares throughout the 2018 season.

#29 Bailey WILLIAMS

The big key forward/ruck looms as the player Oakleigh must stop if the Chargers are to win their fifth TAC Cup premiership. Williams is an athletic monster forward who has a massive vertical leap and can cause plenty of headaches for any opposition defender. His goal kicking has been an issue for two thirds of the season, so he will need to be on target in the game. Expect him to have a bearing on the game, and if he can get an early major and build confidence – watch out.

#32 Daniel FRAMPTON

Has held down centre half-back at times despite standing at just 188cm. Can intercept the ball and averages 3.5 marks per game. The smaller Oakleigh forward line will suit Frampton as it means he does not have to battle against a 200cm monster.

#36 Stephen CUMMING

Starting in the ruck and even though he came off a little sore early last week, Cumming still played out the game and looks set to start in the centre square tomorrow. The big man will rotate with Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams in the ruck and no doubt try and wear down the undersized Bailey Wraith.

#41 Lachlan STENNING

The defender is likely to take a defensive approach on a forward whether it be Dylan Williams, Jake Gasper or Atu Bosenavulagi and try and limit their influence on the game. He is a low-possession player but one who can play above his height of 178cm.

#45 Luca GOONAN

Still a bottom-ager, Goonan was added to the side for the Grand Final on an extended bench. It is hard to push out the strong top-age presence, but he has had some impressive signs this season. He is readymade at 83kg already, and one to keep an eye on for next year.

#49 Matthew COTTRELL

A genuine honest midfielder who you know what you are going to get. Suited to the inside, but has played outside, he just attacks the ball and tries to clear it forward. Has had some impressive games this season and will likely need to beat his opponent this weekend against a strong Chargers’ midfield.

#52 Corey ELLISON

At 191cm and 88kg, Ellison is that medium size who can play tall or small up forward, and actually averages 2.7 goals per game from seven matches. Has been in and out of the team at times because of the strength up forward, if given the chance he knows how to hit the scoreboard.

#56 Matthew CUMMING

Cumming has played predominantly key position defence this season and just tried to beat his opponent one-on-one. Like his brother, he moves well for a 198cm player, but not sure what match-up he has in this match. With Oakleigh adopting a smaller forward line, he will likely play on a player close to 10cm smaller than him, so he must prepare for that.

#57 Reid NANSCAWEN

Named as the sole emergency for the side, he looks to be the one to come in if injury strikes. He has played a bit of everywhere, and held up the midfield during the National Under 18 Championships when Dandenong had absences galore. Is the type that can come in and play his role and will no doubt be waiting in the wings if the opportunity arises.

#58 Will HAMILL

An underrated player in the Stingrays defensive half. Hamill can play through the midfield, but his class and composure off half-back has been a standout of his game. He glides around the field, and while he is not a huge accumulator, he can hurt opposition with nice delivery forward. Will be held accountable with one of many dangerous Chargers small forwards who just find the goals on a regular basis.

#59 Sam STURT

The late developer has burst onto the scene of late after some impressive performances for Peninsula Grammar. He was boosted from a State Combine invitation to a National Combine invitation, and has already showed why he is in hot demand since playing for the Stingrays. He has electric skills, great smarts and knows where the goals are – so damaging.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

#1 Riley COLLIER-DAWKINS

A potential first round prospect, Collier-Dawkins has that blistering first few steps that can burn off an opponent out of a stoppage. He has been trialled up forward, but he is his most dominant on the inside, as he showed last week in the preliminary final. If he can use his strength, acceleration and penetrating kick to effect, then the Chargers will have plenty of hurt factor roaming through the midfield in transition.

#3 Joe AYTON-DELANEY

The running defender was unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invitation after some impressive performances early in the season. He is one that will be in high demand with a good Grand Final and just finds the ball. Uses it well coming out of the backline and has shiny red boots that stand out. A player Oakleigh looks to get the ball in the hands of, along with Isaac Quaynor, in the backline.

#4 Will KELLY

He will have his work cut out for him, regardless if he takes Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. He often enjoys running off an opponent and providing rebound, but he will need to be tight with the athletic talls. He can also go forward and provide a target if Oakleigh wants to throw a spanner in the works midway through the game. A Collingwood father-son prospect who will be watched closely by any Collingwood contingent that make the trip to Ikon Park.

#5 Xavier O’NEILL

Did not make the final Vic Metro squad, but showed enough throughout the 2018 TAC Cup season to suggest to recruiters he was in their top 50, earning a National Draft Combine invitation. He just does his job each week and is a really solid contributor. He covers the ground well and wins the ball in all thirds of the ground.

#6 Matthew DAY

The former basketballer was unlucky not be thrown a lifeline late last year, and has continued on as a really solid forward prospect as an overager for the Chargers this season. Keeps kicking goals and is strong overhead. A good size for development and one that the Stingrays cannot afford to let off the chain.

#7 Jay ROBERTSON

Did not make the cut at Eastern Ranges hailing from South Belgrave, came across and has been a valuable contributor up forward for Oakleigh. He is a medium tall who just keeps hitting the scoreboard and can fly under the radar with so much talent up that end.

#8 Noah ANDERSON

Another potential number one pick, Anderson is that prototype size for a midfielder, who due to the amazing depth of the Oakleigh midfield, has had the ability to almost play exclusively up forward. He pumps the ball long, can win it inside or out, and knows how to hit the scoreboard – as he did for Vic Metro against Western Australia.

#9 James ROWBOTTOM

The most pure of the inside midfielders, he gives his team a four quarter effort and wins a truckload of the ball on the inside. He is a clearance machine and just finds the ball anywhere on the ground. Dandenong are known for their hardness at the contest, and Rowbottom will be a key contributor for Oakleigh in trying to nullify some of the opposition midfielders.

#10 Charlie WHITEHEAD

A fierce small forward who loves to pressure opponents and just gets to the right positions. He has the capability of kicking multiple goals if given space and has a great goal sense. A pure small forward in every sense, he can push up the ground if the Chargers isolate another forward.

#11 Matthew ROWELL

Another Vic Metro representative in his bottom-age year, Rowell leads by example on the field. He has an uncompromising attack on the ball and is crucial around stoppages, but has had the luxury of playing on the outside, predominantly off a wing. He can play forward and kick goals, as he has the past two finals – kicking the first goal in both games.

#12 Noah ANSWERTH

The over-age captain does not do a lot wrong and can play anywhere on the field. His brother, Kade was best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final during Oakleigh Chargers’ last premiership over Eastern Ranges, and Answerth will be keen to put in an equally impressive performance. He made the Vic Metro squad and performed strongly and will leave no stone unturned in getting the most out of himself.

#13 Atu BOSENAVULAGI

Has bolted up into draft consideration after a quieter start to the season. His second half of the TAC Cup competition has been superb, and he is starting to regularly hit the scoreboard, while still applying the defensive pressure he was known for. Has made opposition clubs consider a National Draft bid, with Collingwood able to match if they like him.

#14 Kyle DUNKLEY

Has been on the fringe of getting into the team after spending time with Sydney Swans’ Reserves. With Oakleigh winning its past three games by an average of 101 points, it is a hard team to break into, but the forward will be ready if he gets his chance.

#16 Lucas WESTWOOD

A really reliable defender. With most of the other Oakleigh defenders being offensive players, Westwood adds that defensive hardness and ability to shut down a key opposition forward. He could well be given any number of smalls from the Stingrays who can kick multiple majors.

#17 Trent BIANCO

A skilful player who provides plenty of run and carry off half-back and through the midfield. Expect him to play more on-ball next season, but he has high-end talent and adds to what is a very strong bottom-age core at the Chargers.

#22 Dylan WILLIAMS

The bottom-age small forward is in ripping form, and just keeps kicking goals week-in, week-out. He shared them last week after six snags against Western Jets in the elimination final. He does very little wrong, and after spending time in defence early in the season, Williams’ strength overhead and great goal sense has him as a key player inside 50 for the Chargers. One Dandenong defender will have their work cut out for them.

#23 Isaac QUAYNOR

The running defender takes the game on and has some eye-catching moments. He might have to use his one-on-one ability more than he has had to in the past weeks, because Dandenong’s forward line will make sure he is made accountable. If he can get out and break the lines, using his speed and skill to create run-and-carry, then it will go a long way to Oakleigh winning the match. A Collingwood Next Generation Academy member to watch.

#26 Jake GASPER

The TAC Cup Leading Goalkicker and taking into account post-season goals he is the standalone leader, Gasper has been the most consistent forward in the competition. He has booted goals in every game he has played and his set shot routine is perfect. The Dandenong defence will focus on not letting him get too much air time because he is so smart in that forward 50.

#30 Bailey WRAITH

You have to applaud Wraith, who started as a key defender, but has stood up as an undersized ruck. He is measured at 191cm (though many believe he might be a few centimetres taller), and he has matched up against much taller opponents in the ruck. He will have to play his best game of the season against the Dandenong brigade however, with practically three 200cm rucks with big vertical leaps awaiting him.

#31 Will GOLDS

The most pure outside midfielder for the Chargers, Golds will be the one spreading to the outside and carrying the ball forward when given time and space. He could well match up against Lachlan McDonnell and the pair goes their separate ways, or they run alongside each other. Likes to set up plays forward of centre and has had a really solid finals series.

#32 Jack ROSS

The underrated midfielder from the Chargers has been building consistency very nicely over the past month since returning from school football. He loves the appetite of the contest, but can also spread to the outside and provide long kicks forward. He knows how to find a goal from a stoppage inside 50, and is one of many Oakleigh midfielders who looms as a key player on the weekend and one the Stingrays will put work into.

#33 Matt WARREN

Started the year as a key defender and can play up either end. Had the tough job of manning Max King in the top five pick’s only TAC Cup game and King booted eight goals in that game. At 189cm he has had to play on much taller opponents at times, but continues to battle above his height and weight range. A versatile option if a tall drops out of the Grand Final after being added to the interchange bench.

#36 Charlie BEASLEY

Rated really highly internally, Beasley will have to play taller than his 192cm against Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. The coach, Leigh Clarke backs him in and he rarely lets him down. Regardless of opponent, Beasley is the type of defender who will stick to the task for four quarters.

#38 Zac HART

Oakleigh’s forward line is harder to break into than Fort Knox, so for the potential Adelaide father-son it has not been easy to find a spot. Hart has been added to the side on the extended interchange bench, and he is a smart forward with good goal sense, but with Oakleigh’s firepower on show the last month, it will probably take an injury for Hart to squeeze in.

#44 Will PHILLIPS

The Under 16s Vic Metro representative has managed to retain his place in the Oakleigh line-up despite it being as strong as it is, playing as the 23rd player. Great skills, good spread and does not seem phased against the bigger bodies, Phillips looks a player for the 2020 National Draft.

#64 James JORDON

Played a couple of games earlier in the season and returned after school football, Jordon has provided good run and carry on the outside. Like Golds, Jordon predominantly is used as a ball carrier with slick skills to take the game on and delivery well inside 50.

 

FATHER/SON AND ACADEMY PROSPECTS

Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays) – Melbourne Next Generation Academy

Atu Bosenavulagi, Isaac Quaynor, Bailey Wraith (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood Next Generation Academy

Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood father/son

Kyle Dunkley* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Sydney father/son

Zac Hart* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Adelaide father/son

*Extended interchange

 

STATISTICS

Dandenong defence vs. Oakleigh attack

The key in this third of the ground, is whether or not Dandenong’s slick foot skills out of defence and springboard rebound can be used against the massive forward pressure of the Chargers. Atu Bosenavulagi (4.5 tackles), Jake Gasper (4.1) and Charlie Whitehead (3.2) provide the tackling heat, while Dylan Williams (62.8 per cent kicking efficiency), Jay Robertson (60.4 per cent) and Noah Anderson (56.6 per cent) provide the skills going inside 50. Gasper has been the dominant goal kicker this season, sharing the overall competition tally and post-finals has the most goals of any player in the league.

For Dandenong, they have some very nice ball users in the back half, lead by Will Hamill and Lachlan Stenning, while five of their six defenders average more than two marks a game. Lachlan Young (3.1 rebounds), Matthew Gahan (2.9) and Daniel Frampton (2.3) are that wall at half-back, while Matthew Cumming is the athletic key position defender who can share ruck duties. The big question mark will be match-ups as Oakleigh have a small forward line, while Cumming will no doubt be matched up on a smaller player.

Dandenong midfield vs. Oakleigh midfield

Two highly talented midfields will go head-to-head with so many crucial head-to-heads. Dandenong generally loves a contested brand of football, whereas Oakleigh love using their outside foot skills to advantage. In saying that, both sides can still play the other’s game. Stingrays captain, Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will provide the inside support, whereas Matthew Cottrell can play inside or out. Lachlan McDonnell is the most outside because he has the best skills of the five onballers, and has provided a crucial link between midfield and half-forward.

Will Golds provides just that for Oakleigh, whereas both Matthew Rowell and Jack Ross are equally as impressive inside as they are outside, and can get forward and kick goals as well. Noah Answerth can also play off half-back or half-forward and hit the scoreboard for the Chargers, while Bailey Wraith has been getting the job done in the ruck despite being undersized. If he can get forward and kick a goal, it adds an extra challenge for the Stingrays. He will have his work cut out for him against the best ruck division in the league.

Dandenong attack vs. Oakleigh defence

Dandenong’s attack is likely to cause a lot more headaches for Oakleigh’s defence than other sides have in past weeks. With Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman both athletic talls, it means Charlie Beasley and Will Kelly will have to be prepared to jump as both Dandenong keys are highly athletic – particularly Williams who is second to none with vertical leap. Jai Taylor and Toby Bedford are two of the quickest players going around, while Sam Sturt and Zac Foot consistently hit the scoreboard.

The great strength with Oakleigh’s defence is its ball use out of the back 50, with Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco all wonderful kicks of the football. Often teams can have at least one liability back in their defence, but there is no player in the back 50 who the Chargers would not feel comfortable with kicking the ball out of the back 50. The challenge for the Chargers defence is they have to expect Dandenong to bring the heat. Forward pressure from the Stingrays is a must, and Oakleigh must be up for that challenge.

Extended interchange of both sides:

The depth on both these benches, particularly Oakleigh’s, is madness. Riley Collier Dawkins could be a first round pick but he sits on the pine, while James Jordon and Xavier O’Neill are crucial cogs in Oakleigh’s midfield. Matthew Day has been a really valuable forward for the Chargers this season, while Vic Metro Under 16s talent, Will Phillips has been very slick with his ball use on the outside and shapes as an impressive talent for the 2020 AFL National Draft. With father-son prospects and sneaky small forwards Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart waiting in the wings, and the versatile Matt Warren also brought in to the extended team, Oakleigh has plenty of options to head into game day.

For Dandenong, Finlay Bayne and Ned Cahill both provide depth in the forward line and showed they can kick multiple goals, as they did against Sandringham Dragons last week. Corey Ellison has been unlucky this season given the strength of talls for the Stingrays, while Hayden Young could be pick one next season, but came off sore last week and whether he makes the final team is yet to be seen. Bailey Schmidt is another athletic tall who could come in to really stretch the Oakleigh defence, while Jake Frawley kicked a bag of six earlier in the season. Jamie Plumridge has been good on  the outside for Dandenong this season, while Luca Goonan is a prospect to watch for next year. Reid Nanscawen has been named as the only emergency in the team.

WHY WILL THEY WIN?

Dandenong Stingrays: They have been the best team all year and attack the footy with numbers. A fierce intent on the ball carrier, any opposition know that the heat will come and it will depend on how they deal with it. The Stingrays are not a high possession team, and opt for sharing the ball around, but still using the ball long and effective. They have the tall timber up forward to put in the air and allow them to mark it, because no-one is spoiling Bailey Williams if he gets a run at it.

Oakleigh Chargers: They are the most skilful team in the competition who are happy to use short possessions rather than take risks with long kicks, but know when to flick the switch. Often they will use a series of short kicks until a player breaks free and then they use run-and-carry to run down the wings and pick a target out inside 50. Without the height in there, the Oakleigh midfielder put low balls out in front of their teammates to run onto with their speed off the mark, key.

 

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO STOP?

Dandenong Stingrays: They absolutely must bring the heat on the weekend. Oakleigh dominate games when they are allowed to over-possess the ball and just wait until options free up. Dandenong need to ensure that firstly, Oakleigh cannot have free numbers wandering into open space, and secondly, that there is a defensive midfielder who is happy to drop back and fill the hole in front of the Oakleigh forwards. Unlike Dandenong where a 200cm athlete will crash into your back, Oakleigh’s passes inside 50 will be low darts, so the Stingrays need to restrict the free space inside 50 and force them wide.

Oakleigh Chargers: They have to be wary of positioning themselves well inside the defensive 50. They will be playing against much taller opponents who can fly high, and some of their usually offensively-minded defenders might have to do more one-on-one defending. Isaac Quaynor is arguably the best small defender in the league one-on-one and he might be the man to go to Sam Sturt, as Quaynor can play taller and is equally as smart. Bailey Wraith will also have his work cut out for him in the ruck, and while he has been fantastic, when you’re going up against high flying rucks that are towering over you, the goal is to nullify as much as possible.

 

GRAND FINAL HISTORY

The two teams have never met in a TAC Cup Grand Final before, but have been involved in 10 between them. Dandenong has heartbreakingly lost all five of their encounters, two of which exceeded 80 points. For Oakleigh, they have won four out of a possible five attempts, including a goal point to Jack Macrae in 2012 getting them over the line against Gippsland Power.

Dandenong Stingrays:

1997: lost to North Ballarat Rebels by 35 points
2005: lost to Gippsland Power by 15 points
2008: lost to Murray Bushrangers by 81 points
2009: lost to Calder Cannons by 14 points
2013: lost to Eastern Ranges by 112 points

Oakleigh Chargers:

2006: defeated Calder Cannons by 27 points
2011: lost to Sandringham Dragons by eight points
2012: defeated Gippsland Power by one point
2014: defeated Calder Cannons by 47 points
2015: defeated Eastern Ranges by 12 points

 

AFL Draft Central tips

 

Peter Williams

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jack Ross

Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jake Gasper

Ed Pascoe

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Cameron Ross

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

 

Total Tips:

Dandenong Stingrays 2
Oakleigh Chargers 4

Best on Ground:

Toby Bedford 2
Dylan Williams 2
Jack Ross 1
Jake Gasper 1

Black hopes sixth time’s a charm for Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays coach, Craig Black is hoping for a fairytale finish to his stint at the club as head coach, before joining Collingwood in a development role. Speaking at the TAC Cup Grand Final press conference, Black said he hoped the Stingrays could win their first flag upon their sixth attempt in the competition, but would treat the game just like any other game.

“I don’t think you can probably hide from it (the 0-5 record in grand finals),” he said. “Everyone seems to bring it up, but some of these boys like Campbell (Hustwaite, co-captain) weren’t even born when they had the first Grand Finals losses. “I think you’d have those stories with everyone, but yeah we talk about it, but it’s even better when these boys get the opportunity to come out and maybe be the first person that can do it.”

Being his last game in charge of the Shepley Oval club, Black said he had mixed emotions, but was looking forward to finishing on a high for the players.

“It’s no different really, it is when you’re looking back, you’ve been there a long time, I think I’ve been back nine years, you know every bump along the road, so I definitely will miss it, I’ve got some good memories,” he said. “But I just want to get the right result so the players, the 60 players on our list, can get some success.” On the weekend we will have probably 20 players, 21 players who it will be their last game, so hopefully they can go out with a win.”

Dandenong Stingrays head into Saturday’s decider with just one loss to their name – a six-point defeat – to their grand final opponents, Oakleigh Chargers. Black said the season had been a strong one for the club, but it would not amount to much in the long-term if they dropped the final game on the weekend.

“Obviously we got some reward for our effort, the way we played throughout the year, but as you know the TAC Cup changes every year with school kids out, nationals and academy boys missing games,” he said. “We’ve been really fortunate this year, we’ve won a couple of close ones earlier in the year and we kept rolling on, but as you know with footy once you’ve sort of won one game you just move onto the next. “We’ve been lucky that we’ve won a few, but doesn’t mean much now does it when there’s one game up for grabs?”

Asked about whether the Stingrays were nervous facing the only team that had managed to stop them singing the song after the game, Black said it was indeed the opposite view that the players and staff held.

“I look at it completely different,” he said. “I think hopefully people are probably saying the two best teams have made the grand final this year. “I know our players, and I won’t speak for Clarkey, but I’m sure he’s probably the same. “Young kids just love coming out and playing against the best talent and give themselves every opportunity to fulfil their dreams and win games of footy and hopefully end up on an AFL list. “I think the TAC Cup will get that opportunity this week and supporters will come and see the two best teams play off and that’s unbelievable for us.”

One interesting factor looking ahead to the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final is the different styles that the two clubs take with their football. While Oakleigh rely on medium-tall and small options to kick their goals, Dandenong have some tall timber up forward, as well as a number of medium talls and midfielders who float through to kick winning scores. The Stingrays mentor said he would just focus on his side’s strengths rather than just looking to nullify the strengths of the Chargers.

“I think you go into the game, both teams are into awesome form, coming into the last 8-10 weeks of footy,” Black said. “If either team can get the play on their terms it will go a long way. “I know with us, you just deal with what you’ve got. “This year is a bit of an abnormal year, we’ve got some tall players and next year we mightn’t, so pre-season you get them, you keep developing them and hopefully you get the right team.”

Another aspect that comes into play which is unique for this game is the fact that Oakleigh will field four top-age players who are eligible to be recruited by Collingwood under the father-son and Next Generation Academy. Black, who will try and nullify their impact this weekend, will help develop those players, if selected by the Magpies, when he heads to the Holden Centre at the conclusion of the season. Black said he looked forward to the role, but for now, the likes of Isaac Quaynor, Atu Bosenavulagi, Bailey Wraith and Will Kelly were all opposition players.

“I think looking at the last sort of eight weeks and stuff, we’re really still leaving them in the TAC,” Black said. “The TAC Cup is a wonderful breeding ground for developing young players and obviously Oakleigh have a terrific track record of doing that over 25 years and even the last few years so really while the young NGA players are still in their TAC Cup, you sort of watch them from afar and let them develop in their own program and once the season finishes we’ll start doing a lot more with them.”

Black has his own Next Generation Academy player at the Stingrays – the exciting Toby Bedford who has been in strong form of late, and Melbourne will have first choice to select him once a bid comes in at November’s National AFL Draft.

“Yeah Tobes has been great,” Black said. “I think Clarkey (Leigh Clarke) mentioned before about how he had Vic Country, and then he was away at Melbourne Grammar for the school footy, so it’s that challenge when he gets back. “He boards at Melbourne Grammar so when he gets to training, one thing we know is with Tobes is his effort  and his intensity, he’s always up and about. “The players love it when he’s around, he’s a cheeky little thing and he plays on the edge at times and we love him for it.”

Other players who have shot into draft contention from “left field” include a newcomer to the Stingrays program, and one who had only played school footy prior to a month ago.

“We’ve probably got the one who stands out at the moment is Sam Sturt, you know who’s been playing at Peninsula and has come played four games of TAC Cup footy,” Black said. “Everyone’s watched him about as many times as I have. “It’s just people like that, and that’s what this competition gives, you know if someone is playing good football from left field, these sort of programs can give them the chance of fulfilling their talent as well. “People like Zac Foot who has come in, who wasn’t fortunate enough to play in our 17s or 16s or 15s program, come through as an 18 year-old and play as Vic Country. “Just the opportunities and everyone, I think if players weren’t improving we wouldn’t be in the position we are, and that’s lead by our captain and our leaders who are really driving high standards individually and as a team each week.”

Black thanked the support staff and development coaches around him who were always on hand to assist, and help develop these players from the start of the season until the end. Black himself has come through the program, captaining Dandenong to the 1997 TAC Cup Grand Final, returning to the club and having lead the Stingrays for the past five seasons.

“We’re lucky enough to be the head coaches of the TAC but I know we’ve got wonderful assistants and support staff around us that help out and you know, if you’re running late or can’t make it a night, they’re more than happy to step in, so it’s wonderful,” Black said. “I think it’s only going to get bigger and bigger with the the TAC Cup programs and getting chances at AFL, working with these wonderful young men that are getting opportunities, it’s great I think.”

After narrowly missing out on making the 2017 decider, going down to eventual premiers Geelong Falcons in the preliminary final at GMHBA Stadium 12 months ago, Black admitted he was nervous heading into the clash with Sandringham Dragons last weekend.

“I was really nervous going into last week’s game because you want your players to have the opportunity to experience Grand Final week, I mean they don’t do press conferences for prelims and that sort of stuff,” Black said. “So when we won this week is just all about enjoying it. “We said to our players after the game, ‘enjoy it, you might never play in a Grand Final again’ so we’re really thankful, and excited.”

It is not often a team that finishes top of the table with just one loss for the season heads into the TAC Cup Grand Final as potential underdogs. But with Oakleigh Chargers having won their past three games by an average of 101 points, including a 93-point demolition of the second placed Gippsland Power last weekend, the Chargers seem to be the in-form side, if that is even possible against a side that has won 13 on the trot. Black laughed off the matter of favouritism, because all that mattered was what happened from the first bounce to the final siren.

“I’ve been asked this question a few times and I know we’re going into the game that we can win the game of footy so I don’t know if favourites and that really matter like, it doesn’t bother me one little bit,” Black said. “Two really good teams in really good form are going to get a crack at winning a Grand Final and I’m sure I’ll speak for the Stingrays but I know we’ll go in with a lot of confidence. “Yeah we’ve got to take our chances when we get them, because I think both teams are going to get some really good chances and probably control the ball for periods of time. “Whoever makes the most of their opportunities (will likely win), but I think it’s going to be a fantastic game of footy, or I hope it is. “We’re just really excited about giving 23 players from our area an opportunity to play on Grand Final day and on Foxtel and on the big stage.”

Dandenong Stingrays take on Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park from 12.05pm on Saturday for the 2018 TAC Cup premiership.

Player Focus: Bailey Williams

The Dandenong Stingrays took out the resilient Sandringham Dragons by 42 points to earn their rightful place in next week’s Grand Final against the Oakleigh Chargers.

Despite playing against potential top five pick Ben King, Bailey Williams was easily the most dominant key forward on the day.

Williams first caught eyes in 2017 after some impressive showings for Dandenong Stingrays, earning a position in the Vic Country side as a bottom-ager. He mostly played in the ruck, which he has continued to improve on in 2018. His supreme running leap coupled with great strength was often too much for his opponents in the ruck, but despite this Williams has proved more valuable as a forward than a ruckman. Picked in the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year as forward pocket, and TAC Cup Team of the Year as ruckman, for both his size and position, Williams offers great versatility.

Williams has had a rough trot in front of goal since the Under 18 National Championships, struggling to convert off his set shot. Though this is likely more of a confidence issue than anything to do with his ability, finding himself in a bit of a funk. Before the Championships, his set shot was not brought into question. In Round Four, he kicked seven against the Western Jets. This was also around the time he was pegged within the top 10 of the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings. Though since of some his smaller issues, he sits twelfth. On the run, with players hanging off him, around the body – Williams will convert. He is a multi-dimensional player who marks well, plays low, applies intense pressure and can continue to have an impact up the ground, and that is exactly the kind of forward modern AFL sides look for.

Bailey Williams
198cm | 95kg
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

Quarter by quarter:

Though originally named in the ruck, Williams found his way down forward for the first quarter. He got around a lot of the early kicks inside 50 but none really sat to his advantage. He got his first hands on the footy off a boundary throw-in, winning the hit-out but was unlucky not to have his work converted. Later in the game, Williams dropped a chest mark after leading up into the midfield. He followed up by working back onto the ball and managing to gain possession and free it from under a tackle. Assigned to the ruck contests up forward, Williams won a hit-out in the square, followed it up with a tackle to dispossess but the ball spilled to the Dragons’ advantage. Though after a hit-out in a similar spot soon after, Williams won a ruck contest over the back of his opponent which quickly converted into a goal. Off a quick chip kick, Williams took a brave mark overhead running into Dragons defence, which he followed up with a good set-shot goal, landing his first for the day. He later found himself on the other end of the ground, knocking the ball over the line for a behind and soon followed up by applying intense pressure to the Dragons’ forwards, gaining a possession and diving onto the footy to help disrupt a run on goal, forcing a behind. Williams continued to stand up in the ruck, contributing greatly to the one-sided affair. After winning two hit-outs in the centre which quickly resulted in stoppages, Williams flew high to thump the ball far from the pack of players into the hands of Zac Foot who sent it inside 50. Towards the end of the quarter Williams saw more time in the ruck. He rarely failed to get first hands to it, using his strength and incredible leap to shadow his opponent, but his hitouts became very contentious for the players below him, seldom hitting a man on the full.

Williams started in the ruck after an impressive showing in the first. In his first contest he got bodied off the ball by James Rendell, with either of them barely getting a hand to it. The pair continued to display a strong contest under the footy, with Rendell using his positioning and Williams his athleticism to win the hitouts. Rendell later pinned Williams in a tackle and earned a free for holding the ball. After that, Williams found his way forward where he quickly began to flourish again. After being taken on as the Dragons attempted to rebound, Williams kept his man and switched quickly as they dished off the footy. He forced the defenders to rush their disposal which resulted in a turnover, a return inside 50 and subsequent goal. Tagged heavily in the marking contest, Williams took a big knee in the back under the football but was the first to regain his feet in the pack. His work in the ruck early on, involved a bit more wrestling than tap downs. For both ruckman there were very few hitouts to advantage, so despite being on the ball more, Williams’ impact was much lesser than the first.

For the third, Williams started on the bench but surged back on come the three-minute mark. Again, sticking to his forward role, the ball came his way twice, but unfortunately not to his advantage. The day’s windy conditions impacted a lot of inside 50s, so the kicks forward for both teams suffered. The second kick inside 50 found its way to the boundary line where Williams got to show his skill in the ruck contest. He won the hit-out, collected his own football off the deck and followed up with a snap at goal but missed. Williams continued to have trouble hitting his man from the ruck contest but getting first hand to the football was easy enough for him. Similarly to his first ruck contest for the quarter, he outmuscled his opponent to win the tap down, collect his own footy and again snap at goal. Like the first, he missed but continued to make these opportunities for himself. Williams later went up for a mark inside 50, knocked it in front of him, followed up and handballed to Toby Bedford who kicked a brilliant goal. The big man very rarely lost a one-on-one contest, using his second efforts to pin his opponent if they tried to break away. Williams’ highlight for the quarter came after the two defenders tagging him collided, allowing the forward to scoop and handball over his shoulder to the goal square, resulting in a run on goal. Great vision and clever football. He later followed up by marking the footy among three Dragons defenders, but missed his set shot on goal against the wind. This made for three behinds for the quarter but allowing himself these opportunities at goal with a couple of defenders following him around was impressive.

Williams sought to correct his mistakes from the third quarter early on. He proved too strong in the marking contest, earning a set shot at goal 20 metres in front. The big man kicked his second for the day and dwindled Sandringham’s hopes of a comeback. If that was not enough, Williams followed up by kicking Dandenong’s next goal after losing his man running toward goal. As the game continued, the Dragon defenders relieved a lot of their pressure, allowing the Stingrays to take a lot of uncontested marks in the forward 50. Williams could have seen himself under a lot but would have had to collected his own teammates to do it. His final highlight for the day was not bowling over teammate, Finlay Bayne, on the boundary line as the pair ran toward the high ball.

 

Stats

6 kicks

5 handballs

11 disposals

3 marks (2 contested)

4 tackles

14 hitouts

3 goals

3 behinds

Williams is likely a first round pick, being the most dominant tall in Victoria after Ben King and Max King. The big man could be taken somewhere between 15-25 but could go earlier if he fits a team’s criteria. He still has a game left to lift his stocks, so anything is on the cards until the cup gets lifted.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Preliminary Finals

THE final four became two with wins to Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers over Sandringham Dragons and Gippsland Power respectively. We took a look at some of the combine invitees from the day, as well as the Under 17 Futures players.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Sandringham Dragons

Dandenong:

By: Ed Pascoe

#9 Zac Foot

Foot had his moments showing his talent with his run and ability to get forward into dangerous positions. Despite playing an outside role he was not afraid to get his hands dirty and win the contested ball in the first quarter. He kicked a nice running goal in the second quarter to add to his sides total. Foot made a few mistakes including kicking into the man on the mark in the second quarter and a few errors were made with ball in hand, but his run and strength in one on ones shone above his few mistakes. Foot finished with 14 disposals, four marks and one goal. 

 #13 Riley Bowman

Bowman had a solid outing playing in the ruck and up forward and he got better and better as the game went on. Bowman showed nice defensive efforts which was on display early with a good chase in the first quarter. He showed his nice movement for his size in a contest up forward where he was able to get around multiple opponents although he was unable to turn that into a scoring opportunity. Bowman had some wasteful kicks inside 50 but he was able to hit up Williams for a nice pass inside 50. Bowman finished with 12 disposals, eight tackles, six inside 50s and 21 hitouts. 

 #15 Toby Bedford

Bedford was impressive once again for Dandenong with his excitement around the ball really catching the eye and he proved a constant handful for Sandringham. Bedford showed his trademark dash and agility throughout all four quarters proving to be too slick and slippery to tackle. He showed his physical side with a big bump that sent his opponent over the boundary line in the second quarter and went on to kick two goals in the quarter including a lovely snap goal on the boundary. His third would come with another nice snap in the third term and he did the team things well in the last quarter with a nice kick inside 50 to Bayne in the pocket. Bedford finished the game with 12 disposals, six tackles and three goals. 

#29 Bailey Williams

Williams was the dominant big man on the ground with three goals proving a difficult matchup for the Sandringham talls Corey Watts and Charlie Dean. His first goal came from a mark and then set shot goal in the first quarter and his final two goals came in the last quarter, one coming from a lovely contested mark where he nailed the set shot and the other was much easier with him running straight into an open goal in the goal square. Williams finished the game with 11 disposals, four tackles, 14 hitouts and three goals and three behinds 

#58 Will Hamill

Hamill was very classy with his run off half-back where he showed his clean hands and movement through traffic along with his lovely left foot to hit targets. This game was not as big as last weeks but he still played his role down back rarely getting beaten and looking comfortable with ball in hand coming out of defence. Hamill finished with 13 disposals, three marks and four rebounds. 

 #59 Sam Sturt

Sturt showed why he is a highly sought after talent displaying his great hands on multiple occasions and showing off his dangerous kicking skills on his left foot. Sturt’s best quarter was his second taking some nice marks and laying some good tackles. He showed off his kicking with a nice long pass inside 50 and he showed his creativity with ball in hand with a good handball over his head which lead to a goal. Sturt’s first goal came in the third quarter with nice recovery after a marking contest and then kicking a nice snap goal. He showed his terrific judgment overhead with a nice mark on the wing in the last quarter where he managed to take the mark behind his opponent.  Sturt finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks, six tackles and two goals. 

 

Sandringham:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Alastair Richards

Found himself mostly behind the play and while he did not win much of the ball, he had an eye catching moment when running through the middle of the ground with pace which resulted in a goal to Mahony during the first quarter. He was very reliable defensively as well, laying 10 tackles and using his acceleration to hold his opposition up.

#7 Liam Stocker

It was a character propelling performance by the Morrish Medal winner who continued on despite nursing a shoulder complaint for a majority of the match. While he already appeared sore beforehand, a hard hit from Sam Fletcher saw Stocker go off, but he returned to the field to tough it out despite being in obvious discomfort. He fought tooth and nail for his 18 disposals and still managed to lay 10 tackles with that shoulder restriction. He looked rushed on occasions with attention from Campbell Hustwaite and Jake Frawley at the stoppages, but it was a commendable effort to fight on and it was not unnoticed.

#27 Jack Mahony

The 16 year old is a really clever and creative player, especially inside 50 where his goal sense and nous is obvious. He gets in positions where defenders get panicky when the ball hits the ground and is difficult to contain. He kicked two opportunistic goals and had good moments through the midfield as well, collecting 17 disposals. He makes things happen with ball in hand and despite being only 176cm, he has plenty of tricks for clubs to be excited about next year.

#28 James Rendell

The Brisbane father-son prospect is giving the Lions and the other clubs plenty to think about after an outstanding Preliminary Final outing. He competed well in the ruck against the likes of Bowman and Williams, but it was around the ground where he was truly influential. In tricky windy conditions, he read the ball superbly in the air to take multiple contested marks. At ground level he fought to win five clearances and if he did not win the ball, he would throw his body around or tackle. He finished with 18 disposals, seven marks and 23 hitouts to clearly be Sandringham’s best player on the day.

#29 Ben King

The top five prospect had quiet periods after a hot start, where he took four marks leading up the ground in the first quarter. Although Dandenong’s dominance meant he lacked supply and could not be as involved as previous weeks. He still managed to hit the scoreboard and was dangerous when the ball was in his area. He kicked a goal from an easy crumb in the second quarter and earned a free kick after attacking the ball at its highest point late in the game.

#33 Will Kennedy

The 198cm combine invitee did not have a huge impact on the game, starting in the forward arc and relieving Rendell in the ruck. He only won seven disposals, but had a real crack defensively laying eight tackles. He had a moment in the opposition goal square during the third quarter where he cleaned up teammate Corey Watts with a lack of communication between the two, but you could not question his attack at the ball.

#48 Josh Worrell

The bottom-aged prospect has had an impressive finals series and again looked right at home in defence for Sandringham. He is a tidy left footer who at 195cm, is capable of playing tall, sitting in the hole or manning a medium type as he did on Sam Sturt. While he gave his opponent latitude at times, he reads the play well and took a strong contested intercept mark in the final term. One to keep an eye on next year.

#52 Charlie Dean

Another bottom-aged Dragon who impressed behind the play and won plenty of the ball. He looked comfortable defensively and got into smart positions. He is a good size at 194cm and appears to possess flexibility to play different roles in the back half. Dean arguably played his best game to date for Sandringham to finish with 18 disposals and seven marks.

#72 Darcy Chirgwin

Chirgwin will be yet another 2019 draft prospect for Sandringham who proved to possess some quality forward traits on Saturday. He only won nine disposals, but looked likely every time the ball was in his area inside 50. He took a strong contested mark in the second term and kicked truly, following that up shortly with a clever dribble goal. Like Dean and Worrell, we will see Chirgwin in a couple of weeks in the U17 Futures game at the MCG on Grand Final day.

#74 Harry Reynolds

One of the bolters of the draft, Reynolds started at the first centre bounce and won early midfield possessions. He consistently got his hands first on the ball, but the faster paced game and higher quality opposition meant he fumbled on occasions and did not always have the time to release efficiently. In saying that, he is a fascinating prospect at 190cm and possesses enormous scope in his game. He finished with 15 disposals and three clearances, but you suspect he has a whole lot more than those numbers to provide as he develops.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Gippsland:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

One of the few Power players who could come away satisfied with their individual performance. He started in the midfield and gathered a couple of early touches, before spending long periods forward for the rest of the game. Obviously lacking opportunities in the front half, Serong was his usual clean and efficient self when in possession of the pill. He finally got Gippsland on the board with a well read dribble goal in the fourth term, before earning a free kick shortly after to double his and the team’s tally. He finished with 14 disposals and two goals which was a respectable effort in a big loss.

#4 Sam Flanders

Despite the dominance of the Oakleigh midfield in the first half, Flanders competed and fought hard when at the stoppages to ensure the opposition didn’t have it all their own way. He laid a physical chase down tackle on Will Kelly in the first term to earn a free kick and won a couple of eye catching clearances against the play. He took a strong body on body grab inside 50 in the third term, but was not seen as frequently as the game went on.

#5 Xavier Duursma

On an extremely tough day for Gippsland, one thing you could not question was the determination of the captain. Duursma did all he possibly could to stem the Charger’s flow of goals both offensively and defensively, but was often found lacking support against the quality opposition. He wasn’t allowed to find his usual space, which often lead to Oakleigh players hanging off him from a contested situation which affected his efficiency. He did manage to break free and hit Austin Hodge lace out inside 50 from a stoppage, but these moments were few and far between. His desperate, diving tackle efforts ensured he lost no admirers and is sure to be in first round contention come November.

#9 Irving Mosquito

It certainly was not Mosquito’s most prolific or influential outing of the year, but the Hawthorn Next Generation Academy prospect still managed to create the occasional eye catching moment. “Mozzie” looked his most dangerous at the stoppages, weaving through traffic, creating space from nothing and turning onto his left as he does best. He only won nine disposals, but clubs really like him which may lead to Hawthorn matching a bid earlier than they would like.

#11 Austin Hodge

The 19 year-old was in and out of the game playing forward and rotating through the midfield. You can never doubt his intent and courage, as proven in the first term when he attacked an aerial ball from an awkward position without question. He no doubt would have liked to get more involved in his final game for the club, but his years of commitment and outstanding character have left a lasting mark.

#12 Brock Smith

In the absence of Kyle Reid, Smith was required to play a taller role behind the ball and had to deal with constant Oakleigh entrances from the outset. He defended as well as he could have considering the quality of the attacks coming in, even taking a strong intercept mark in the first term. While he made an error in the middle of the ground in the second term that resulted in a goal, he attacked the ball at every opportunity and provided a physical presence that his teammates could not replicate.

#18 Matt McGannon

Unfortunately he did not start the game in great fashion, turning the ball over from a kick out that directly resulted in a goal. It was an uncharacteristic error, but he improved as the game went on in difficult circumstances. He has had an outstanding season and has proven to be one of the best users of the ball in the competition, on either side of his body. McGannon has his second consecutive Draft Combine coming up and will embrace to opportunity to impress the clubs again.

#23 Noah Gown

Gown was deprived of the aerial opportunities of recent weeks, but still looked ominous when the ball went in his direction. He won an excellent one on one against Kelly early, keeping his feet after competing for the mark and gathering eventually in space. He also took an extremely strong mark on the lead in the second term under extreme pressure. It was the thirteenth time in 14 matches since moving forward that he has been named in Power’s best. He has arguably been the biggest improver this year and has ended the season having given himself every chance in the November drafts.

 

Oakleigh:

By: Ed Pascoe 

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

Collier-Dawkins backed up his impressive game last week with an even better performance this week proving too be too quick and too strong through the midfield. Collier-Dawkins’ hands at stoppages were clean and he often got his arms free to release to running teammates. His speed around the ground was telling where he often would take the ball either with a mark or in general play and always look to play on and get the play moving. Once the rain started, Collier-Dawkins showed his best bit of play to date where he kicked a classy checkside goal on the run in the third quarter and although missing the set shot his speed to take a nice contested mark in the last quarter was impressive. Collier-Dawkins finished with 26 disposals, six inside 50s and one goal. 

#4 Will Kelly

Will Kelly had a quiet game down back, the ball did not spend much time down there but he did the defensive things well and looked composed with ball in hand. Kelly finished with eight disposals, three marks and our rebounds.

 #9 James Rowbottom

Rowbottom has been one of Oakleigh’s most consistent midfielders this year and that was also the case against Gippsland with another tough performance. Rowbottom again did his best work at the clearances using his burst of speed and clean hands to win clearances around the ground. He has struggled to hit the scoreboard this year but he had a few chances in the third quarter where he snapped a behind at a stoppage before finally kicking a goal with a nice opposite foot snap. Rowbottom finished the game with 24 disposals and one goal. 

 #12 Noah Answerth

Answerth was one of many dominant midfielders for Oakleigh with his clearance work and tough attitude on display at stoppages. Answerth was terrific by hand often showing good vision and ran with the ball on a few occasions to give himself time to pick the right options. A few kicks he had where slammed on the boot at stoppages which would effect his efficiency but they were often the right option. He only had the four kicks for the game often using his best feature which was his handballing. He kicked a nice long goal in the first quarter coming from a set shot from 50 meters. Answerth was a solid contributor over the four quarters and he finished the game with 23 disposals, five tackles and one goal. 

 #23 Isaac Quaynor

Quaynor did not get to show a huge amount of his talent playing in defence, but he was still able to show why he is a possible top 20 pick. Quaynor was cool and clam with ball in hand and was not afraid to take the game on. He had plenty of clearing kicks from defence and he made good decisions throughout the game. Quanyor had a solid finish to game pushing up the ground and he looks set for a big game next week finishing with 14 disposals and four rebound 50s 

 #31 Will Golds

Golds was a ball magnet on the wing for Oakleigh and he was huge in the opening quarter with his run and carry and ability to find the ball. Golds had a good mix of linking play with handballs while also getting them back and pumping the ball inside 50. As much as he is an outside player he still managed to take a nice contested mark in the second quarter. Golds’ ball use was mostly very effective especially by hand and he had a great kick inside 50 to Day in the third quarter. Golds finished the game with 26 disposals and five inside 50s. 

Dandenong books Grand Final spot with strong win over Sandringham

DANDENONG Stingrays have booked their place in the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final after enjoying a solid 42-point win over Sandringham Dragons at Ikon Park today in swirling conditions. The Stingrays did not have it all their own way throughout the contest, but won every quarter with a five goals to one third term giving them a buffer at the final break and run away with the contest in the final term.

Both teams started by feeling each other out, with the ball predominantly in the Stingrays half, but it was Jack Mahony, getting on the end of an Alastair Richards kick inside 50. The ball bounced up perfectly for Mahony who kicked it from the goal square for the games’ first. A long range shot from Jamie Plumridge resulted in one behind for the Stingrays as the rain poured down. Then a quick snap from Ned Cahill in the goal square put Dandenong in front. Cahill then set up teammate, Bailey Williams with a chip over the top and the big forward made no mistake from the set shot.

Sam Fletcher had started strongly for the Stingrays, racking up 10 touches in the opening 15 minutes as he worked tirelessly on the inside. Meanwhile it was James Rendell who lined up for a set shot, with the wind pulling it to the side and it was punched across for a behind. The Dragons trailed by a goal with less than 10 minutes remaining in the quarter. Louis Butler almost had the goal of the day with a terrific snap, just hitting the goal post.

With the remainder of the term being an arm-wrestle, Fletcher finished the quarter with 10 disposals, three more than any other player, leading Plumridge (seven) and Jai Taylor (six). For the Dragons, Charlie Dean had seven disposals, while Rendell was their best with six touches and four marks, while Ben King lead out to take four marks.

It took 30 seconds for Sandringham to almost conquer something out of nothing with the Dragons two stars combining. A beautiful pick-up off the deck from King and quick hands to Morrish Medallist, Liam Stocker saw the latter have a flying shot on the goal but just missed. Riley Bowman had an equally great pick-up, but just missed the outside snap. Then the Stingrays got on the board with Zac Foot winning a couple of touches working hard with Toby Bedford to get on the end of it to kick a goal. Less than a minute later Sandringham responded through Mahony with his second of the game.

King played the role of rover in he goal square, pouncing on a loose ball after getting free at the back and dribbling a goal home to put the Dragons in front. Moments later Darcey Chirgwin extended the lead to seven points with a big mark and set shot goal. Cahill then laid a strong tackle and earned a free kick for his troubles, kicking the goal, his second of the match and being Dandenong’s most dominant forward.

A couple of pieces of Sam Sturt magic saw him set up Bedford with a pin-point perfect pass, then a quick handball over the top. While Bedford missed the set shot, the next running shot on goal the small forward made no mistake, putting the Stingrays back in front. Bedford’s impact on the game was profound as he snapped an unbelievable goal, making it two in a few minutes. Chirgwin answered Bedford’s double with his second on the term with a dribble goal in the square. At half-time, Fletcher and Callum Jones lead all-comers with 13 touches.

The first meaningful shot on goal was a quick snap off the deck from Williams who just missed. The wind was playing havoc on the game with a swirly breeze blowing to one side and forcing a number of balls out on the full or towards the boundary line. Williams had his second behind of the term with another quick snap that got caught in the breeze, but all the attack was in Dandenong’s front half. With everyone fumbling and missing stock-standard passes, it was Bedford who stood tall among all others and just summed up the situation with a handball receive from Williams, put it on the boot and bent it around the body for his third of the game.

Dandenong was doing all the attacking and Finlay Bayne was the beneficiary with a perfectly timed run and goal to put Dandenong out to their largest lead of the game, at 20 points. Just as it looked like the Stingrays were running away with the contest, 23rd player, George Grey bobbed up at the right time and snapped on the run to cut the deficit and give the Dragons some hope. That hope was soon erased when an attempted rebound was smothered by Matthew Cottrell and the ball bounced around and landed in the hands of Taylor who run into goal and punished Sandringham’s error.

A second error, this time a miscommunication by two Dragons defenders when they were three-on-one against Williams saw Will Kennedy and Corey Watts crash into each other, Williams scoop it up, handball to the running Taylor who got boot to ball with centimetres remaining and put through another. Williams took a good mark against a smaller opponent but could not quite convert, but seconds later he heard the voice of Sturt, left it for the exciting medium-tall who pounced and made no mistake to put the Dragons 34 points up at the final break.

The important first goal of the final term when to Finn Maginness who earned a 50m penalty and made no mistake from the goal square. But with all the hope that brought, it took just two minutes for the Stingrays to answer through Williams who took a great one-on-one mark and kicked the goal from 25m out. Sandringham had not given up, pushing hard with a few good inside 50s but Dandenong’s defence was holding up superbly kicking long down the wing and making sure there were repeat stoppages, or space for their smalls to run. If there was any doubt about the winner, then in the tenth minute, Williams swooped on a loose ball and went bang inside the square and the margin was 40 points and the Stingrays were heading to the TAC Cup Grand Final.

To put some great icing on a terrific cake, Sturt judged the ball in flight well and judged the ball drop to mark amongst a crowd of players and nailed the set shot to celebration. He almost had his third a few minutes later, but it swung right to left and missed. Up the other end, King answered with a good mark and set shot goal, his second of the match to hand the Dragons a consolation goal in what was ultimately a disappointing day.

Bedford was best on ground with 12 touches, six tackles and three goals in an impactful performance, while Sturt was equally busy up forward with two goals from 12 disposals, five marks and six tackles, and skipper Campbell Hustwaite stood strong throughout the four quarters with a game-high 27 disposals, nine clearances, five inside 50s and four tackles. For the Dragons, Rendell was the best with 17 disposals – all kicks – and 23 hitouts, and laid five tackles as well. Clearly hampered by his shoulder, Stocker was huge to play out the game and amass 17 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds.

DANDENONG 2.1 | 6.3 | 11.7 | 14.11 (95)
SANDRINGHAM 1.2 | 5.3 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)

GOALS:

Dandenong: Bailey Williams 3, Toby Bedford 3, Ned Cahill 2, Jai Taylor 2, Sam Sturt 2, Zac Foot, Finlay Bayne.
Sandringham: Jack Mahony 2, Darcey Chirgwin 2, Ben King 2, George Grey, Finn Maginness.

ADC BEST:

Dandenong: Toby Bedford, Ned Cahill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams, Campbell Hustwaite.
Sandringham: James Rendell, Liam Stocker, Jack Mahony, Harry Reynolds.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Preliminary finals

WE are down to the final four TAC Cup sides for season 2018, with Dandenong Stingrays taking on Sandringham Dragons, and Gippsland Power facing Oakleigh Chargers to determine the two, 2018 Grand Finalists.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 11.30am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Last week:

In the first of two preliminary finals, we take a look at the minor premiers, Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the fourth placed Sandringham Dragons. Last weekend, the Stingrays were on another level compared to the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, thumping them by 110 points, while the Dragons proved too good for the Murray Bushrangers in a 43-point win.

Last time:

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

In the final round of the TAC Cup season, Dandenong Stingrays ensured the Dragons had a nervous wait across the weekend, with a top four spot on the line. Sandringham luckily witnessed Northern Knights upsetting Murray Bushrangers to earn a weekend off. On the day, Sam Sturt and Finlay Bayne both booted three goals, while Matthew Cottrell claimed best on ground for the Stingrays. For the Dragons, Angus Hanrahan was the only multiple goal kicker with two majors, while James Rendell and Liam Stocker were impressive – Stocker picking up the three votes in the match despite the 47-point loss.

 

THE KEY – INSIDE MIDFIELD

The big key in the game is which side can win the ball at the coal face and get the ball down to their key forwards and crumbers. Both sides have good firepower inside 50, and the clearances will be an area to watch with the teams having strong contested ball winners. Looking at the starting midfields, there is not much to split them with clearances and contested possessions practically even. Dandenong’s starting three midfielders lay more tackles, with Toby Bedford also spending time up forward and adding pressure up there.

Sandringham:

Liam Stocker 12.5 contested possessions, 5.6 clearances, 4.5 tackles
Harry Reynolds 10.0 contested possessions, 3.3 clearances, 2.3 tackles
Kai Owens 8.7 contested possessions, 3.8 clearances, 6.2 tackles

= 31.2 contested possessions, 12.7 clearances, 13 tackles

vs.

Dandenong:

Sam Fletcher 13.4 contested possessions, 5.2 clearances, 7.7 tackles
Campbell Hustwaite 11.0 contested possessions, 5.0 clearances, 6.1 tackles
Toby Bedford 8.0 contested possessions, 2.3 clearances, 5.7 tackles

= 32.4 contested possessions, 12.5 clearances, 19.5 tackles

 

WHY THE TEAMS WILL WIN?

Dandenong: The best team all year, depth that is envious of any other side and equal to that of fellow challenger, Oakleigh. They seem to have winners across all thirds of the ground and just made the Rebels look silly last week. A last round win against the Dragons will have the Stingrays’ confidence high to repeat the effort again. The Stingrays love a scrap and will be keen to beat the Dragons at the contest and use their bigger bodies to extract the ball and pump it long.

Sandringham: Any side with Ben King inside 50 is a threat, and the Stingrays will not only look to nullify him, but just cut off the delivery to him, full stop. But if the Dragons midfielders can get on top on the inside, then the Stingrays defence could be under siege. They also possess the ball really well and will look to play the ball on their terms with slick, short ball use.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 2pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Last week:

Gippsland Power managed to get over the highly dangerous Geelong Falcons with a 35-point victory at Ikon Park. They took four quarters to do it – leading by just eight points at the final break before a five-goal final term saw the second placed Power storm away with the game. The Chargers had a much easier game against Western Jets, shaking off an early challenge by the Jets to post a massive 120-point victory to earn a place in the preliminary final.

Last time:

Oakleigh Chargers 8.7 (55) defeated by Gippsland Power 9.6 (60)

Not much can be read into it given Oakleigh was missing the majority of its best 22, but Gippsland got the job done in a thriller at Warrawee Park with a Noah Gown goal in the dying seconds sealing a great comeback win. Noah Answerth bombed through a goal on the siren, but not release the ball until a second too late. The result left Oakleigh’s top four hopes in the lurch, but an impressive win over Sandringham Dragons and a 15-goal rout of the GWV Rebels put any threat of missing the week off to bed pretty soon. Daniel Scala booted four goals for the Chargers, while Trent Bianco and Sam Harte were named Oakleigh’s best in the loss. For Gippsland, Gown, Harrison Pepper and Sam Flanders all booted two goals, while Gown and Boadie Motton were named in the Power’s best.

 

THE KEY – FIREPOWER FORWARDS

Both Gippsland and Oakleigh head into the clash as sides that have dynamic forward lines. Gippsland has more structure to it, with two traditional talls in Gown and Josh Smith, while Oakleigh relies on a number of medium-talls and smalls rather than a key position monster. Last week, Dylan Williams booted six goals, while Atu Bosenavulagi, Jake Gasper, Charlie Whitehead and Jay Robertson all contributed multiple goals, while Gippsland had 10 individual goal kickers, with their club leading scorer Gown, contributing just the one.

As you will see from the below total, the top six goal kickers playing in the match provide plenty of options for midfielders to kick to, with some of the forwards spending time through the middle. Oakleigh’s six will largely form the six-man forward line against the Power, while Gippsland’s will see a number of their players begin in the midfield and rest forward.

Gippsland firepower:

Noah Gown – 30.18
Josh Smith – 20.7
Sam Flanders – 19.18
Austin Hodge – 14.13
Irving Mosquito – 14.4
Xavier Duursma – 13.5

Top 6: 110.65 (725)

Oakleigh firepower:

Jake Gasper – 38.15
Matthew Day – 20.10
Dylan Williams – 18.12
Jay Robertson – 15.8
Charlie Whitehead – 14.10
Atu Bosenavulagi – 13.9

Top 6: 118.64 (772)

 

WHY THE TEAMS WILL WIN?

Gippsland: The Power play an exciting brand of football that blends both speed and pressure which is really eye-catching, and will look to match Oakleigh at its own game of doing the same. The Power must simply bring the heat to the contest, because letting Oakleigh have too much time and space results in undesirable results for the team doing so.

Oakleigh: You cannot read into the season of the Chargers despite still finishing third. They are right up there with Dandenong in terms of premiership favourites and have stamped their authority with 90 and 120-point wins in their past two outings. They have ridiculous amounts of midfield depth and big bodies to control the inside while using their runners on the outside.