Tag: Tristan Xerri

TAC Cup preview: Western Jets

DESPITE missing out on finals, 2017 proved to be an exciting year for the Jets as they saw their spearhead Cameron Rayner selected as pick one in the National Draft. While they possessed the most valuable player in last year’s draft pool, those following the club would have been equally keen on the players who would become top-age prospects this year.

The Jets’ strong suit is their top-end midfield and defensive talent, with a good bunch of them having played almost every game in their bottom age year. The likes of 2017 best and fairest winner Stefan Radovanovic (13 games), smooth midfielder Zac Butters (17), and the versatile Connor Thar (17) lead the way in terms of their 2018 draft prospects, with a wealth of TAC Cup experience already under their belts. The latter two were joined by bullocking inside midfielders Xavier O’Halloran (18 games) and Jaden Rice (16) in the Vic Metro under-17 futures side, and highlighted why they have been so highly touted.

Others to look out for include the ever-improving Buku Khamis (16 games) who thrived in a different role down back with some impressive intercept marking. The South Sudanese-born prospect is also a member of Western Bulldogs’ Next Generation Academy. Carlton fans will also be keeping an eye out for potential a father-son pick in the form of Oskar Manton (four games), who is quite raw but seems to be working hard on his game.

The Jets will again have some bottom age talent to unleash, with a number of 16 year-olds earning debuts last season. The best of them include Darcy Cassar (four games), who made his mark with four goals on debut against the Northern Knights, as well as athletic tall Emerson Jeka (one), who looks like he could be a top 10 pick in 2019. A good spread of talent from the back, forward could see the Jets propel themselves into finals contention for the first time since 2014, and they will most likely again have a good number of players pique interest come draft time.

2017 Stats:

2017 Summary:

The Jets improved on their previous season with six wins seeing them finish in tenth place – just behind Calder Cannons on percentage, and six points away from a finals berth. They started and finished the season in promising fashion, winning two of their first four and three of their last four games. In between those highlights, with eventual draftees Cameron Rayner, Lachlan Forgarty and Tristan Xerri away on Vic Metro duties, the Jets lost nine out of ten mid-season games.

They managed to snap their losing streaks with huge upset wins against Eastern in Round 10 and minor premiers Oakleigh in Round 15, which allowed the talent now coming through as top agers to experience overcoming the cream of the crop. There were also a few tight losses in the mix, with the young Jets fighting hard against teams in similar ladder positions to them – including Northern (one win each), Calder (two wins) and Greater Western Victoria (one loss). Western will be looking to build off of the upsets they caused with some added consistency, which should come with the wealth of experience their top agers now have. They will hope to again be knocking on the door of finals.

2018 Snapshot:

The Jets will fancy their chances in their first three outings for the year with clashes against Calder, Northern, and Eastern – teams which all look to place around the same mark as Western. They’ll face stiffer competition in rounds four to nine, with games against Dandenong, Sandringham, Oakleigh and Geelong twice. The June/July period afterwards could also prove crucial to their finals chances, as they face the possibility of coming up against the Cannons and Knights once again without their star players due to Vic Metro commitments.

With five games at Williamstown Football Ground as well as four at Avalon Airport Oval, they have the opportunity to create a couple of fortresses in the west. Overall, the top age talent in the current squad has been recognised for a couple of years now and there is still more to come. The Jets will be an exciting team to watch during 2018, with plenty of pace at ground level below a selection of athletic talls and amidst a couple of very strong inside midfielders. The Western squad is well placed to challenge for finals and improve on their wins tally once again, with the possibility of a few draftees come the end of the year.

2018 Fixture:

Western Jets 2018

DateEventTime/ResultsVenueArticle
Avalon Airport Oval
Rams Arena
Burbank Oval
Shepley Oval
Trevor Barker Oval
Warrawee Park
Burbank Oval
Avalon Airport Oval
Burbank Oval
Rams Arena
Morwell Recreational Reserve
Norm Minns Oval
Burbank Oval
Avalon Airport Oval
Queen Elizabeth Oval
Ikon Park
Ikon Park

Western Jets 2017 review

With the off-season now officially here for TAC Cup clubs, AFL Draft Central will go back and review what 2017 was like for each of the 12 clubs. We kick off the series with Bendigo Pioneers and will end with the Western Jets.

Western Jets

Finished: 10th
Wins: 6
Losses: 12
Draws: 0
Percentage:
 78
Points: 24

Players Drafted: (3)

  • Cameron Rayner (Brisbane)
  • Lachlan Fogarty (Geelong)
  • Tristan Xerri (North Melbourne)

2017 Review:

The Western Jets achieved their own piece of history this year with Cameron Rayner becoming the first Jets player to be a number on pick since the competition began. Rayner was picked up by Brisbane and despite some rumours that best mate Lachlan Fogarty would join him, Fogarty slid to the Cats in the second round, while developing tall Tristan Xerri was picked up by North Melbourne late.

On the field, the Jets did not have a great season, finishing tenth overall and despite some promising signs at times, they did struggle without Rayner and Fogarty for most of the season. The season did see a number of bottom-age Jets players stand up and push for permanent midfield time in 2018, which should see the Jets bounce back and potentially play finals next season.

The Jets seem to have some good quality depth, particularly through the midfield and if they can kick large enough scores each week, they could be a dangerous proposition for most sides next year.

###

2018 Preview:

Western Jets have a number of really strong prospects heading into the 2018 season, backing up their 2017 year which saw their first ever number one draft pick. They have the midfield and defence covered, and will just look for their forwards to develop, including bottom-age Emerson Jeka who is shaping as a top 10 pick in 2019. Of those eligible this year the Jets have four stand outs including Zac Butters, Buku Khamis, Xavier O’Halloran and Connor Thar.

Zac Butters (Western Jets) 177cm | 66kg | Balanced Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (17) 17.8 disposals| 3.9 marks | 2.4 tackles | 3.2 inside 50s | 53% KE | 62% DE | 41% CP

Butters managed 17 games in his bottom-age year and took almost four marks per game, spreading well across the field. His kicking needs a bit of work, but his ability to move well in transition was impressive. He had no trouble finding the ball and will be one to watch in 2018.

Buku Khamis (Western Jets) 188cm | 81kg | General Defender
2017 TAC Cup: (16) 11.6 disposals | 5.6 marks | 2.4 tackles | 0.4 rebounds | 64% KE | 71% DE | 47% CP

Playing primarily as a lock-down defender, Khamis was good one-on-one, taking 5.6 marks per game and still winning his fair share of the football. He has the size to play key position and could play on tall or small opponents. His kicking was impressive in his bottom-age year and perhaps the next step is a focus on his attacking game, such as rebounding, because his defensive game was very impressive.

Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets) 185cm | 81kg | Inside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (18) 17.3 disposals | 2.3 marks | 2.8 tackles | 3.4 clearances | 3.9 inside 50s | 53% KE | 56% DE | 54% CP

O’Halloran is a big ball winner who loves the contested work. He buries himself under packs and is really strong in close, often having to step up in the absence of the Jets’ ball winners. He did a good job as a bottom-age player and could be one of those ready-made inside midfielders in 12 months time.

Connor Thar (Western Jets) 174cm | 65kg | Balanced Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (17) 18.9 disposals | 3.8 marks | 3.6 tackles | 2.8 clearances | 51% KE | 60% DE | 42% CP

A classy player who just needs a bit more consistency in his kicking, Thar has the sidestep and awareness to be a valuable midfielder in 2018, once he can put everything together for four quarters. He wins the ball, lays tackles and gets it clear from the stoppages, and can play inside or out. If he can iron out his kicking then he could be one of the first Jets picked.

Others to keep an eye on:

Oskar Manton (Western Jets) 181cm | 68kg | Small Defender
2017 TAC Cup: (4) 8.8 disposals | 2 marks | 1.2 tackles | 2 rebounds | 70% KE | 74% DE | 39% CP

Jaden Rice (Western Jets) 186cm | 82kg | Inside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (16) 16.4 disposals | 1.4 marks | 5.1 tackles | 4.4 clearances | 51% KE | 69% DE | 70% CP

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Summary:

Western Jets have a really strong foundation for propelling themselves back into the top eight next season. Their midfield is strong on paper and has good depth, while their defence has a number of talented players. With some emerging talls in the team, the Jets are a team on the rise and one to watch in 2018.

Scouting notes: 2017 Young Guns Game

THE annual Victorian Young Guns game was held on Saturday at Fortburn Stadium, Port Melbourne. With majority of clubs in attendance, the Young Guns Green won the game by a few points. In a match that wasn’t helped by the soggy outfield, the skill level was down and the standard from previous years was lacking – where players such as Jayden Hunt (2014), Adam Saad (2014), Tom Papley (2015), Oliver Hanrahan (2016) and Rowan Marshall (2016) have stood out in past years, elevating themselves onto AFL lists.

Matt Balmer’s scouting notes:

#1 Mackenzie Doreian (Green)
Eastern Ranges | 02/09/1999
170cm | 70kg

The small forward bobbed up and had some good moments throughout the early stages of the game. A smart pinpoint inside 50 kick was impressive in the opening quarter and he was able to kick a sneaky goal in the second quarter. Has some X-Factor.

#7 Derek Smith (Green)
Bendigo Pioneers/Richmond VFL | 04/05/1998
186cm | 75kg

Smith has had multiple opportunities as 23rd man for the Richmond VFL team and has shown some glimpses throughout the year. It was impressive to see him show some leadership on the field, using his voice to direct teammates. He possesses a long left foot kick and his mix of speed & agility make him a tough match up coming off the half back flank. At times he did just hesitate before going to lay the tackle, but he was willing to tackle hard and bump opponents off the ball.

#12 Noah Answerth (Black)
Oakleigh Chargers | 6/09/1999
183cm | 77kg

Answerth has missed majority of the season, after an incident in the opening rounds at Ikon Park saw him suffer a bad back injury. Answerth was stranded up forward early in the contest, but when the game opened up in the final quarter, he was able to get on the outside and show his class. Had a few impressive runs late on the city side of the ground. Will be interesting to see if he works his way back into the Chargers’ TAC Cup side if they reach the TAC Cup Grand Final.

#22 Jake Riccardi (Black)
Calder Cannons | 7/11/1999
193cm | 88kg

Was involved early in the contest starting up forward, but rushed a shot on goal snapping around the corner kicking it out on the full. However, he soon bounced back and in the second quarter he marked well on the lead, with his set shot from 50m fell just short. Riccardi finished the game with about a handful of marks, moving into defence after half time. One of the few players who played that I’d consider taking with a rookie selection.

#28 Tristan Xerri (Green)
Western Jets | 15/03/1999
201cm | 93kg

Played up forward and in the ruck – but had more impact and time up forward. Despite the wet conditions, Xerri was able to mark overhead on multiple occasions. His second quarter was good, where he was able to take a few marks and hit the scoreboard twice. He showed he could collect the ball from ground level and took an impressive mark low to the ground. Arguably the best performing tall for the day.

Young Guns look to stake claim for AFL Draft

THIRTY-EIGHT TAC Cup players are among those striving to stake a claim in front of AFL recruiters in the AFL Young Guns game on Saturday. The game includes players from clubs that are no longer in premiership contention or have chosen to nominate for the game, VFL clubs, school football and local leagues.

The 50 players selected have been divided up into two teams that will face off at Fortburn Stadium, Port Melbourne at 11.30am with some TAC Cup teammates facing off against each other. Among those included are Gippsland Power’s starting midfield of Matthew McGannon, Callum Porter, Nick Hogan and Julian Patterson, GWV Rebels hopefuls Dale Cox, Callan Wellings, Aaron Shepherd, Flynn Appleby and highly regarded Calder Cannons’ players Brad Bernacki, Aidan Tilley, Jean-Luc Velissaris and Jake Riccardi.

The game also gives mature agers a chance to shine with a number playing including former Oakleigh Charger premiership player and grand final best on ground Kade Answerth – who will suit up alongside brother Noah – and Dandenong Stingrays turned Northern Blues livewire forward Sam Fowler. The oldest player taking the field will be 24 year-old Essendon VFL player Matt Darby.

Tom Mills, an 18 year-old from Ararat Football Club has also been plucked out to play in the match, while Hawthorn fans might be keen to cast an eye of Sandringham Dragons’ player Devlin Brereton – eligible under the father-son rule for the Hawks.

The AFL Young Guns game has previously helped recruiters catch a glimpse of players outside their TAC Cup and VFL club match day environments and helped in the recruitment of players such as Adam Saad (Gold Coast) and Tom Papley (Sydney).

It is the perfect chance for late bloomers such as Xavier College key forward Ed Delaney (who joined the Rebels’ program late), Louis Pinnuck – a former Murray Bushranger who was unlucky not to go last year – and North Ballarat’s Jacob Wheelahan who had an unlucky run with injuries in his TAC Cup days.

A number of talls who will be trying to stake their claims in front of recruiters include Western Jets’ Tristan Xerri, Northern Knights’ Joel Naylor and Murray Bushrangers’ Tom Boyd who have all showed signs throughout the season. Former Knights’ leaders Mason Blakey and Luke Bunker will again join forces after playing out the VFL season in different colours, while 19 year-old Bendigo Pioneer Derek Smith will also play after impressing for Richmond VFL this season.

2017 AFL Young Guns game team lists:

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 18

THE final round of the TAC Cup season was completed on the weekend – with the all important finals series kicking off at Victoria Park this Saturday. We had our scouts watching all six games in Round 18, read their notes below.

GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers (Peter Williams)

GWV Rebels:

#1 Dale Cox – Arguably the best game I have seen him play live. Took a couple of fantastic grabs one-on-one and kicked two goals, one from a snap and a second from a set shot. He continued to look dangerous throughout the contest, applying good pressure inside forward 50, and a touch of class when on the outside. While he did not receive a state combine invite, he could be one that falls under the Western Bulldogs Category B rookie if they choose to nominate him.

#2 Callan Wellings – The Rebels’ captain put in another strong performance on the weekend. Wellings is one of the most consistent performers in the TAC Cup and he just has a no-fuss approach to his football. He showed a high work rate and great vision in close while also finding space around the ground. He was rewarded with a goal when he snuck into space inside 50. He took a few intercept marks across half-back in the final term to snuff out any hope of a Bendigo comeback and was involved in a possession chain where he won the ball in the defensive half and then ran forward to take a mark at half-forward in the same possession chain.

#4 Aiden Domic – Domic has been a big improver in the second half of the season and was best on ground against the Pioneers on the weekend. He is a really smart footballer who does not waste time with his disposal. While his inside numbers have improved in the second half of the season, he played predominantly on the wing as Jordan Johnston took an inside role. He snapped a terrific goal in the third term with five minutes remaining to put the Rebels 39 points up. Domic has an impact up forward and great goal sense and is one of the best endurance runners in the competition.

#9 Flynn Appleby – Appleby’s draft stocks would have to be rising after yet another big performance down back, this time on top 10 hope Jarrod Brander. Appleby gave up nine centimetres and six kilograms to the big forward but held his own. He was really composed with the football and apart from a couple of minutes in the second term when Brander got hold of him, he stood up well, positioning himself well in the one-on-ones, protecting the ball drop and also peeling off Brander to assist teammates. Appleby was unlucky not to receive a state combine invitation, but his last month has been nothing short of sensational.

#10 Jordan Johnston – The exciting forward has put together a good month of football as an uncomprimising inside midfielder. He holds his own in close and played on fellow forward-cum-midfielder Brent Daniels at the stoppages. Johnston won more of the football but was exposed for leg speed against Daniels crusing out of a pack. Johnston as a whole had more of an influence, turning it on in the third term setting up a goal assist after a free kick in the middle, and then had a second clearance from the next centre bounce, finishing with a goal moments later. A highlight was in the second quarter when Johnston smothered the ball and managed to grab the footy in one motion.

#23 Lloyd Meek – The over-age ruckman continued his good form in season 2017 with another influential display across the ruck and up forward. He has developed his body this year to really use his strength and frame to outmuscle opponents and was too strong for the in-form Jobee Warde. While Warde had the athleticism, Meek was really impressive in holding his ground and ensuring Warde could not get an easy jump at the ruck stoppages. Up forward, Meek presented well, crashing packs and taking a few good marks, although his goal kicking still needs some work, missing the lot from the forward pocket, albeit on a very tight angle.

#40 Tylar Watts – I was really only focusing on top-agers, but Watts caught my eye with a pretty good performance working in tandem with Meek. While his possession numbers are not high, Watts produced arguably the biggest highlight of the game with a towering mark in the final term when the Pioneers were threatening to chase down the deficit. He stood tall, kicked the goal and iced the game, giving Rebels fans a bit of excitement about what he could be capable of in 2018.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Kane Farrell – I really liked Farrell’s game on the weekend. He is not a huge accumulator of the football but he looks balanced and has good vision through traffic and great hands in close. There were a couple of times where he sidestepped an opponent and delivered it well inside 50 to a leading target. He also showed his versatility to have an impact up forward, kicking a crucial goal late in the third term. The one knock from the weekend was there was an instance or two where he tried to do too much and was caught before he could effectively dispose of it or finish cleanly.

#6 Cooper Jones – Like his side, Jones was fairly influential early on, rebounding what he could for the Pioneers playing across half-back. He went in hard along the wing and laid a bone-crunching tackle winning a free kick. Last year he played up forward but I like him as a defender, was quieter in the second half, but still had a few nice touches across half-back and on the wing. He could potentially develop into a taller midfielder.

#8 Lochie O’Brien – It was not one of O’Brien’s better games despite picking up a vote in the Morrish Medal. He won more of the football than usual, but his kicking efficiency was well down on his usual standards, which was later reflected with just 50 per cent by foot. I regard O’Brien as a deadly left foot kick, but the Rebels captain Cal Wellings and his teammates gave O’Brien little time and space to use his strong attributes. Despite not having the influence he has had in other games, O’Brien still kicked a goal thanks to an old fashioned sausage roll from 50m in the last term.

#10 Brent Daniels – The nuggety forward played more inside midfield against the Rebels and flashed in and out with some brilliant patches. He almost created the highlight of the day, streaming down the middle of the ground taking a couple of bounces and got to about 60m from goal before taking a third bounce and fluffing it and getting caught by his chasing opponent. As a whole I felt he was composed with the football when under pressure and was good in tight by hand.

#13 Jarrod Brander – The possible top 10 draft pick continued to work throughout the four quarters but became Flynn Appleby’s latest victim. Brander was good on the lead and kicked a fantastic goal outside 50 in the second term and took a couple of marks in a two minute purple patch when he looked to break the game open, but otherwise was well held by his opponent. A combination of the swirly conditions and teammate’s inefficiency going inside 50 did not help his cause. Cannot fault his endeavour however and he continued to present up at the football, and when marking was a clean grab.

#15 Darby Henderson – The Pioneers ball magnet continued to win the pill throughout the game showing pretty good hands in close and doing everything right defensively. His kicking is still iffy at times and that’s the main knock on him, but he laid eight tackles and won the football all over the ground, clearing the ball out of the defensive 50 on a number of occasions.

#18 Bailey Henderson – The wingman continued a really solid season with a pretty solid game. He has great vision looking forward, but I questioned his peripheral vision when he had plenty of time but was run down from the side by an opponent. When in space he used a piercing kick and was able to win the ball at half-back and move forward in transition. He tends to have a slower kicking action which also saw opponents bump or tackle him when he was in possession, forcing him to make a few errors.

#20 Angus Schumacher – Like many of his teammates, Schumacher has had better games but he worked into the match in the second half. He took a good intercept mark early in the third but immediately coughed up the football with a short 20m pass. Schumacher sometimes does not kick through the ball over short distances and therefore makes errors by foot, but when kicking long he has a nice action and more often than not can hit-up a teammate 40-50m down the ground. Schumacher also showed good agility and closing speed on the lead.

Calder Cannons vs. Western Jets (Matt Balmer)

Calder Cannons:

#1 Brad Bernacki – Continued his good ball winning abilities in the midfield and was a deserving runner-up in the Morrish Medal. Was able to spread well from the contest and you couldn’t fault his endeavours in wanting to win the ball back when the Jets were in possession.

#5 Curtis Taylor – The standout Cannon for the day for me. Playing in the attacking half of the ground, he showed off his X-Factor and agility in the stoppages. Taylor provided a dangerous option when he was up forward and he was able to get the ball inside 50 effectively when he was playing through the midfield. Also marks well overhead.

#12 Noah Balta – Begun the game up forward and mixed his time between ruck/forward. Was the clear best tall in at the centre bounces, using his elite leap to effectiveness. Up forward with the wind, Balta showed on multiple occasions he could bang the ball long 60 metres at goal – and he kicked a fine set shot goal in the opening quarter from outside 50. Contested marking was impressive right around the ground.

#29 Jake Riccardi – Played as a centre half back for the majority of the game and was able to drop off his opponent and win the ball in the defensive half of the ground. Is one I think that is better suited up forward, but has shown he is more than capable at either end in recent weeks. Was also very efficient by hand and foot, hardly missing a target all day.

#30 Mitch Podhajski – Battled hard playing as a key position player and was able to win the ball and rebound it out of defensive 50. Is a handy mark and can take them in contested situations. Gave away a few unnecessary free kicks during the game, but worked hard all day.

Western Jets:

#11 Zak Butters – Kicked a great banana goal in the opening quarter and his ball use was very good right throughout the game. He was able to win the ball in the contest and was also willing to tackle back to win the ball. Looking forward to tracking him closely next season.

#14 Lachlan Fogarty – One of the stiffest players to even not collect a vote in the Morrish Medal after his best-on-ground display. Fogarty hunted the ball back with immense pressure and his tackling was phenomenal. His clearance work was good and it lead to multiple inside 50s coming from his boot. Is agile enough to get around his opponents at the stoppages and he pushed forward to boot three goals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran – Once again showed his contested ball winning abilities, working hard at every stoppage he attended. Also pushed forward and took a good mark inside 50 in the third quarter. Spent a bit more time forward than usual and didn’t win too many clearances – but was another important player in the midfield for the Jets.

#38 Buku Khamis – Played as a key defender and showed some smarts when teammates had the ball inside defensive 50, where he was often able to spread and get to the right position for the switch. Took some strong contested grabs and with the ball in hand his decision making was good.

#44 Tristan Xerri – Easily the best game I’ve seen Xerri play where he was not only able to dominate in the ruck, but win the ball around the ground. He linked up well by hand and his follow up work was very good. Booted two goals up forward, but it was his work in the contest that was super impressive for the tall.

Eastern Ranges vs. Oakleigh Chargers (Peter Williams)

Eastern Ranges:

#2 Tom North – The inside midfielder was best on ground in the first quarter, seemingly bringing his own football with him. He was noticeaby missing after quarter time given Oakleigh took more control of the midfield. North hurt his ankle and did not play a further part after a nine disposal, two clearance start to the game. He is one who has shown enough this season to be considerd around the middle of the draft.

#6 Ryley Stoddart – One of the best Ranges on the weekend, Stoddart showed off some impressive, penetrating kicks coming out of defensive 50. He was assigned to Higgins at times and while he was beaten in the air by the Morrish Medallist, he was smart in peeling off and assisting teammates in other contests. Stoddart reads the play well and times his spoils to perfection, while he also has good vision to spot up teammates in space. A player who really applies good pressure when he is around the football I noticed he tends to rush his kick under pressure at times and can lean back to get more distance but sometimes it puts him off balance.

#10 Dylan Moore – Played his part for the Ranges on the weekend as one of the best and has an equal balance of offensive and defensive pressure. He leads at the football when it is his time to go, and he pressures opponents when he does not have the football to try and keep the ball locked into the forward 50. Kicked a good goal from a set shot and when he went into the midfield he really began accumulating the football. While he has been likened to that smaller forward role, Moore showed he can more than hold his own in the midfield with a number of clearances and winning it on the inside or out.

#14 Trent Mynott – The midfielder was quiet early but pressured his opponents and got to the right positions. He won a bit more of the football in the second half, and laid a huge bone-crunching tackle that even had the crowd going “oooh”. Mynott has a fierce attack on the football and while he was not a huge accumulator on the weekend, he always does the defensive aspects right.

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – The midfielder/forward is just an excitement machine. At times his kicking can be iffy, but he wins the ball all over the ground, is good in the air or at ground level and just oozes excitement. As a spectator you cannot help but be drawn to see what he will do with the ball and what move he will pull next. He snapped a great goal under pressure in the second term and streamed through the middle of the ground showing off some great acceleration to kick inside 50. He had a couple of snaps early in the final term but could not find the radar, but was one of the few Ranges who could hold their head high for four quarters. It was one of his more consistent performances and caps off a great month.

#18 Sam Hayes – The most impressive thing about Hayes as a ruck is, despite not being overly mobile compared to other rucks, he does win a fair few clearances to go with his hitouts. A combination of grabbing it out of the ruck and putting it on the boot as well as picking it off the deck and booting it forward, Hayes put in another solid performance. He also wins a fair few free kicks because his opponents are wary of what he is capable of. He can take some good contested grabs and is a clear first round prospect and the first ruckman taken this year.

#21 Joel Garner – Had a good first quarter intercepting a number of possessions going inside 50, timing his leads and reading the ball well playing opposed to Higgins at times. But a late hit on an opponent after he kicked – nothing malicious just very late – saw him reported and set off late in the second term. Oakleigh took advantage of Garner being off the ground to boot a few late goals. Garner was not as influential after he returned in the second half, understandably.

#22 Jackson Ross – Not a big ball winner but produced a few highlights on the weekend. He had a fantastic intercept mark reading the play well on the wing, not breaking stride, but then was tackled and coughed up possession after he did not see a tackler coming hard from the side. He booted a nice goal from outside 50 in the opening minute of the final term, but otherwise was quiet.

#26 Harrison Nolan – The key position defender always applies pressure inside defensive 50 and the game against Oakleigh was no different. He lays some strong tackles and assists his teammates, also providing some rebound out of defence. Not a big ball winner, but he wins a fair chunk of his one-on-ones and therefore is good in contested situations.

#33 Tyler Brown – The son of Gavin and brother of Callum on the weekend was okay, but realtively quiet. He played at half-forward predominantly and lead up at the football on a number of occasions. He had a handball predominant game, winning most of his possessions in close, but was effective in getting it to a teammate.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#6 Matthew Day – Played inside forward 50 and had a quiet game. He took a fanastic sliding mark in the third term and kicked the goal from the set shot, while also spending stints in the midfield, but did not accumulate big numbers.

#7 Charlie Thompson – Played more of a forward role compared to his huge game the week before and was good in the way he continued to dig in and offer an option for his midfielders. He hits the contest hard and was rarely beaten overhead. He has great skills for a predominantly contested player and is a reliable set shot so I would not be surprised to see him rocket up the draft boards if he continues his good form.

#8 Toby Wooller – One of the best Oakleigh players in the win despite his kicking letting him down at times. He has developed into a hard running midfielder who is good overhead and can clear the area with some long kicks. He took a huge contested mark on the wing and while his kicking efficiency would have been average, his ability to win plenty of the football in midfield then go forward and kick three goals shows he has what it takes to make it at the next level, arguably as an athletic midfielder.

#35 Jack Higgins – The deserving Morrish Medallist again worked hard through four quarters but it probably was not his best game due to missed opportunities. His disposal by foot at times was rushed and he finished the game with 2.4 including a poster from a set shot. The wind caused much havoc and the pressure was high at times, but Higgins was a fanastic contested mark and can set up the play really well. His leading patterns are top notch and his work rate is huge. His kicking efficiency of 38 per cent and inaccuracy in front of goal stopped it from being a dominant performance once again.

Northern Knights vs. Sandringham Dragons (Peter Williams)

Northern Knights:

#4 Max Dreher – Worked hard in close and while he did not win a heap of the football, produced a lot of one percenters to help his teammates. He fought throughout the four quarters and was rewarded for his hard running with a great goal from outside 50.

#6 Patrick Naish – The Richmond father/son nominee was effective across half-back early, looking calm and composed. He was more influential in the first half than in the second, like many of his teammates. He had a flying shot at goal from outside 50 but it went well out on the full, before adding a major to his name late in the last quarter with a good goal inside 50. Not one of his better games, but was serviceable considering his team as a whole did not perform the way they would have liked.

#7 Jack Petruccelle – Did not accumulate a heap of it, but I felt he was one of the best Knights. He won the ball in close and on the outside and while he could rush his kick on occasions when disposing of it over short distances, he had an impressive purple patch in the quarter. He won the ball at half-back and spurred a dart inside 50 to a teammate and then moments later had a running shot at goal and it sailed home. Petruccelle had a good clearance out of the centre to open the final term..

#9 Alex Federico – Known for his ball winning ability and he was one of the bigger accumulators on the weekend. His work rate is really high and he is important in the Knights’ transition from half back to half-forward. Federico was really cleaver around the stoppages in extracting the ball and getting it forward, winning the bulk of his disposals in tight.

#11 Ethan Penrith – The usual defender played up forward and had a good pressuring role. Unfortunately his stats will not reflect the game he had without the football, just a couple of touches and a goal, but he laid a few tackles and did add an extra element inside 50 when the ball went down there. Didn’t see him have a touch in the second half though.

#12 Joel Naylor – The tall forward was indicative of the Knights’ performance in the sense he was super impressive when handed opportunties in the first half, but faded away in the second half. Took a few good marks and slotted a goal in the first term, but was barely sighted after half-time such was the lack of entries inside the Knights’ forward 50.

#34 Matthew Harman – Harman did his bit in the ruck, sharing the duties with Joel Grace and being serviceable across the ground. He had an ingenious moment in the second term when he kicked the ball along the ground to the advantage of his teammates when he knew he did not have time to take possesion. Did not accumulate much of the pill, but held his own in the ruck contests. 

Sandringham Dragons:

#1 Lachie Harris – Due to injury and school football I have not had the chance to see Harris live since the Dragons’ round one match and while he is not a huge accumulator, he is that small forward who adds pressure to the forward 50. He probably needs to do a bit more offensively, but defensively he was solid and kicked an important goal in the third term to put his side 24 points up with 10 minutes remaining.

#2 Geordie Nagle – Nagle is another “handball-first” player, but he is ultra-quick with his thought process and disposal. He has clean hands and won plenty of the ball in the middle of the ground, always on the move and shovelling it out to a teammate in space. Nagle earned a lot of his disposals running on the outside and also mopped up in defence on a number of occasions.

#5 Seb Williams – The Brighton Grammar midfielder was strong in the contest but his disposal let him down. His decision making at times was also questionable, such as handballing to a stationary target under pressure. However, his pros from the weekend really impressed me with his overhead strength and neat sidestep. He finds space inside 50 and kicked a great goal. He spread from the contest well and continued to present as an option coming off half-back and along the win. If he can tinker with his kicking and improve his decision making, he could be a late pick-up this year.

#6 Charlie Constable – The inside beast has had bigger games disposal wise, but when he wins the football he is really noticeable. His strength and balance in the contest is huge and in one instant he swivelled his hips to shake off a tackler and pump it long to Isaac Morrisby on the lead. Took a contested mark on the wing despite pressure coming from both sides of his body and he also defended well, adding composure to the back six. He finds space really well and looks to execute a pass inside to the corridor at every opportunity.

#8 Will Walker – Walker strikes me as a really hard runner. He is very outside in the way he goes about it, but he just gets to contest after contest. He often wins a lot of possessions through handball receives, but what impressed me on the weekend was his ability to work hard defensively and lay a number of good tackles. The knock was his influence around the ground because he won a bit through the middle of the ground, but was not as influential as others elsewhere.

#9 Andrew Brayshaw – Along with his brother, Brayshaw continued to win plenty of the football. He was more prominent in the first half, winning the ball in close and then spreading to the outside, delivering some nicely waited passes inside 50. He also set up a number of scoring opportunities when going forward and while there were a few rushed kicks, Brayshaw kicked an important goal early in the final term to snuff out Northern’s chances of a comeback.

#10 Angus Styles – One of the smarter players in terms of vision and footy nous in close. One example I saw which I liked was his ability to not rush his handball into space, but instead hold onto the footy for an extra second to enable his teammate Will Walker to run into the space required to receive the handball. He took a good intercept mark inside 50 for the Dragons by standing his ground, but missed the set shot and finished the day with two behinds. Styles was a really balanced player in the marking contest and he protects the ball drop. Not a huge accumulator, I thought Styles contributed to the Dragons’ win well.

#11 Hamish Brayshaw – The star of the show with five goals and was just influential throughout the contest. He was known for his ability to accumulate on the inside last season and on the weekend he played forward and just dominated. Then he went into the midfield and dominated there, laying some great tackles and influencing the contest in tight. Most importantly it was one of the best games I have seen him play in terms of disposal and hurt factor with some really impressive, penetrating kicks inside 50, setting up a couple of goals for teammates. An over-age player, Brayshaw would have to be in consideration at some clubs for his pure ball winning ability and his strength to make an impact when forward.

#29 Joel Amartey – An impressive game rotating through the ruck and up forward, needing to play more minutes in the midfield after Hayden McLean was concussed and taken from the ground. He started forward and took a great diving mark with his set shot from 35m out going straight through the middle. He then influenced the contest around the ground, showing off his athleticism to win a heap of hitouts and became the link-up man in transition from the midfield to the forwards. One of the best games I have seen him play.

#30 Hayden McLean – He took a huge contested grab and hurt himself doing so, with his kick on goal powerful, but missing. He presented up forward, but was not as influential as in other games, then came off concussed in the third term and did not play any further part.

#74 Nathan Murphy – The weekend’s game was the first time I have seen Murphy play live and I am sold. He was really strong in the opening moments with some deadly darts inside 50 and looked really slick along the wing. He went back later in the game and was good one-on-one and took some great marks. I thought his ground coverage was great, and he is not afraid to back himself in the contest. The one knock I would have is that he is still raw and learning aspects of the game having come from a cricketing background. With the ball he is fine, but without it there were a couple of moments where he looked uncertain of whether to shepherd a teammate or go for the ball himself. But I expect that will come with time and certainly with ball in hand, Murphy was ultra impressive.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Geelong Falcons (Matt Balmer)

Dandenong Stingrays:

#6 Aiden Bonar – Was impressive throughout the contest and spent more time in the midfield as the game went on. His pressure was very high and he laid some very strong tackles. Has presence around the contest and showed that he has a decent burst when he needs to use it. Took a strong contested mark in the third quarter and was able to find the ball around the ground. Bonar was willing to provide multiple efforts, including a great passage of play in front of recruiters on the wing – where he was able to make multiple efforts and attempt to win back the ball by applying pressure on the Geelong defenders.

#25 Oscar Clavarino – Played one of the best games I’ve seen him play, marking with ease in the defensive 50. Was also pushed forward late, but his intercept work was one of the reason that the Falcons struggled to kick goals. His usage was good on his right foot and provided a few rebound 50s.

#26 Tom Murphy – Continued his strong form showing his ball winning abilities through the midfield. Covered the ground well and his defensive efforts were good – not only dropping back to help out in defensive 50, but tackling hard through the midfield. Hitting form at a good time.

#35 Tom Freeman – Played as a third tall rebounding defender for the Stingrays and whilst most of his possessions were in uncontested situations – he reads the play well and his positioning was good. Has some burst of speed too.

Geelong Falcons:

#4 Gryan Miers – Had a quieter game than usual, not winning as much ball as he has done in some games this season. Spent most the day inside 50, and his follow up and pressure work was good. Laid some strong tackles in the wet and his hands in close were effective.

#13 Ethan Floyd – Had a superb run down tackle in the first quarter and was able to get off the chain on the outside as one of the Falcons’ best. Showed off his agility on the wing and was willing to take on opponents with his speed. Booted a great left foot goal from outside 50 and pumped the ball long on multiple occasions.

#16 David Handley – Had five scoring shots on goal – but unfortunately only managed to convert one – which was an absolute beauty booted from mid air 10 metres out. Showed off his long right foot kick at times and his leading was good – able to get space between himself and his opponent to mark the ball unopposed.

#19 Matt Ling – Started the game exceptionally well, but was quieter after quarter time. Used his good agility to effectiveness, as well as his pinpoint left foot pass. Took multiple kick outs for the Falcons and had a few good spoils when he needed to defend in one-on-one situations.

#38 James Worpel – Didn’t have as much impact than he has in other games – but his contested game was again on show. His tackling and pressure in the contest was very good and he was often found at the bottom of the packs throughout the game. In the wet, he was able to clear the ball and bang it long inside 50 to one of the Falcons’ tall targets.

#41 Tom McCartin – Leapt at a few balls throughout the day and you can tell he’s the brother of St Kilda’s Patrick. Had some good defensive efforts and was involved in a few score assists, getting the ball to teammates. Unfortunately, his day ended early suffering concussion.

#42 Cassidy Parish – Was strong on the inside and had plenty of early possessions in the opening half. Had good vision at times to find a target by hand in close and was another player that was willing to boot the ball out of the pack and get it going inside 50.

#46 Adam Garner – Pulled off a great contested mark in the opening quarter, as well as winning a free kick after being held – which he converted the shot on goal. However, once the rain came after half time, it was hard going for the Falcons tall.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Gippsland Power (Michael Alvaro)

Murray Bushrangers:

#4 Laitham Vandermeer – Amassed 25 disposals and seven clearances as one of Murray’s more consistent performers. Had a good mix of inside and outside possession, but his run and carry was what made him stand out on the day. Would like to see him finish off his bursts of speed with more kicks though, he opted to hand the ball off on the back of his runs and broke down the momentum of his move.

#7 Zane Barzen – Was a key link in the chain forward of centre for Murray with eight marks, one of which was a decent hanger on the wing in the third term. He chimed in with a couple of clever goals to cap off what was a solid shift overall. Needs to work on his defensive efforts though, as he didn’t clock a tackle despite having a strong presence up forward.

#11 Jy Lane – Lane was consistently the man moving the ball in and out of either 50 as he worked hard to take the game on and break the lines constantly. He worked well in that aspect alongside Langlands, while also quelling the influence of Jiath after quarter time on the wing.

#19 Will Donaghey – Lead all-comers in terms of disposals with 31 and was a key part in Murray’s moves out of defence. He collected a wealth of those possessions on the outside and often used his teammates to gather quick 1-2’s breaking away from stoppages. With 24 of his disposals counting as uncontested, it’s fair to say Donaghey’s strength lies on the outside, and he showed off his high footy IQ with some clever and opportunistic plays.

#21 Doulton Langlands – Langlands doesn’t often stand out in any particular areas, but this was one of his better games as he made his mark with some great run and carry. He’s a regular across half-back for Murray and he played that quarterback-type role perfectly as he gathered a wealth of uncontested ball and running bounces. He also impacted the scoreboard with his sole major and three score assists from some sharp inside 50 entries.

#30 Alex Paech – Paech was constantly a solid option up forward for the Bushies, but he struggled to reel in anything that came his way. While his hands aren’t the strongest, he does some good work at ground level and moves well for a key position player. He bagged two majors and was extremely vocal throughout the day, screaming ‘get around him’ from the bench whenever he could. Unfortunately copped a knock and limped off later on.

Gippsland Power:

#2 Nick Hogan – Part of the talented Gippsland midfield mosquito fleet, Hogan excited with some strong bursts from the stoppages and showed good clearance nous. Attended most of the centre bounces and helped his side to get on top with 8 clearances in a game-high 30 disposals. Played his part moving up the ground with 11 inside 50’s and some nice handball chains through the midfield.

#4 Changkouth Jiath – Was instrumental in the first quarter with 10 disposals, it seemed like Jiath was everywhere. Used his athleticism well to mark overhead and then break away along the wing, but just lacked a finish product. Needs to improve on his kicking if he wants to take full advantage of his damaging traits, which are outstanding. Also had a good battle with Jy Lane on the wing, rotating with Irving Mosquito throughout the game.

#5 Xavier Duursma – Duursma is as unfazed in combat as you’ll see any bottom-ager. Played his typical role in defensive-50, snuffing out opposition attacks both aerially and on the ground, while also providing plenty of rebound. He’s usually a composed kick but lost his head a couple of times today, turning it over in dangerous areas. Was still trusted with kick-in duties and put in a good shift overall down back.

#7 Will Stephenson – Was reasonably quiet in his loud green boots early on, but came to life after half time with more minutes in the midfield. He worked well at the centre bounces with Hogan, Porter and Quigley to get Gippsland on the front foot with a barrage of long inside-50 entries. Chimed in with three important goals and showed how clever he is around the big sticks, finding opportunities where not many would.

#19 Callum Porter – Arguably the best afield across the whole game, Porter capped off his consistent home and away season with a big performance. He was able to show off his inside and outside traits as a midfielder with some hard work in-tight followed up by streaming runs through the corridor. Continually popped up at the back of the centre bounces, either pumping the ball long or trying to break free of his opponents. Was an overall complete midfielder’s game today from the Gippsland star.

#41 Sam Flanders – Flanders was an absolute menace up forward and didn’t allow his opponents a moment of rest. Combined with fellow AFL Academy member Caleb Serong to amass four third-quarter goals which played a vital part in Gippsland’s second half breakaway. He lead the way in the defensive pressure stakes with some bruising tackles, but also showed some good finesse around goals despite kicking five behinds. Looks like a very promising type, and reminds me a bit of former Gippsland forward Tom Papley – who also wears the #41.

#42 Caleb Serong – The 16 year old hasn’t looked out of place at TAC Cup level and this game was no exception. Worked well in tandem with Sam Flanders inside forward 50 and chimed in with two crucial goals during the third term after moving from the wing early on. Can take a good overhead grab and does some smart work around goals, he’s another to watch in the coming years.

Draft dream not over for 2017 state combine nominees

THE draft dream is not over to the 2017 state combine nominees after the AFL today released the list of 96 players from around the country nominated by AFL clubs to attend the 2017 State Combine.

83 PLAYERS INVITED TO THE 2017 NATIONAL AFL DRAFT COMBINE

Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia will each run individual tests, with clubs sent the data to analyse before November’s draft. Recruiters will also get a chance to cast their eyes over a further 23 footballers at the ‘Rookie Me Combine,’ created due to number restrictions at Etihad Stadium. The Victorian State Combine will be held on Friday October 6th at Etihad Stadium, with the ‘Rookie Me Combine’ to run on Sunday October 8th at a venue yet to be decided.

Similar to the process for the national combine, each club nominated up to fifty players to nominate that they wanted to see test. To receive an invite to the AFL State Combine, players must receive at least three expressions of interest from AFL clubs, with players receiving 1-2 taking part in the Rookie Me Combine.

Possible Adelaide father-son Jackson Edwards headlines the list of nominees. The South Australia midfielder averaged 24 disposals and four marks throughout the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships and is one of 21 South Australian’s that will test in the state based combine.

Victorian Under 19 cricketer Ed Newman was Australia’s 13th man at the MCG on Boxing Day is one of the 11 Sandringham Dragons on the list. Newman has been a standout for Mentone Grammar in the AGSV School Football competition and made his Dragons debut on Sunday.

Former Melbourne player Dom Barry is on the verge of another AFL berth, scoring an invite to South Australia’s State Combine after being a strong performer for Glenelg this year.

The state leagues around the country have been well represented with a number of players invited to test out. The VFL has 10 players nominated to attend with Essendon VFL’s Alex Boyse looming as their best prospect. Boyse has booted 26 goals this season and the 191cm forward is one of four players nominated from Essendon’s VFL team.

Invites:

Victorian State Combine (55):

Joel Amartey (Sandringham Dragons)
Noah Answerth (Oakleigh Chargers)
Mark Baker (Northern Knights)
Oskar Baker (Aspley)
Harry Benson (Geelong Falcons)
Brett Bewley (Williamstown VFL)
James Bell (Sydney Swans Academy)
Tom Boyd (Murray Bushrangers)
Alex Boyse (Essendon VFL)

Sam Cameron (Sandringham Dragons)
Riley D’Arcy (Dandenong Stingrays)
Aaron Darling (Dandenong Stingrays)
Sam Davidson (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Palm Beach)
Lewin Davis (Bendigo Pioneers)
Max Dreher (Northern Knights)
Alex Federico (Northern Knights)
Bayley Fritsch (Casey Scorpions VFL)
Bailey Griffiths (Marcellin College)
Harrison Gunther (Glenorchy)
Jackson Hille (Sandringham Dragons)
Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)
Jake Hinds (Tasmania)
Austin Hodge (Gippsland Power)
Dane Hollenkamp (Geelong Falcons)
Nick Hogan (Gippsland Power)
Josh Jaska (Geelong Falcons)
Daniel Johnston (Murray Bushrangers)
Riley Jones (Oakleigh Chargers)
Matthew King (Oakleigh Chargers)
Dylan Landt (Calder Cannons)
Jy Lane (GWS Giants Academy/Murray Bushrangers)
Doulton Langlands (GWS Giants Academy/Murray Bushrangers)

Quintin Montanaro (Sandringham Dragons)
Thomas Mundy (Burnie)
Tom Murphy (Dandenong Stingrays)
Geordie Nagle (Sandringham Dragons)
Joel Naylor (Northern Knights)
Ed Newman (Sandringham Dragons)
Harrison Nolan (Eastern Ranges)
Connor Nutting (Gold Coast Suns Academy)

Kai Owens (Sandringham Dragons)
Alex Paech (GWS Giants Academy/Murray Bushrangers)
Cassidy Parish (Geelong Falcons)
Ethan Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers)
Callum Porter (Gippsland Power)
Aiden Quigley (Gippsland Power)
Nathan Richards (GWS Giants Academy)
Harry Simmington (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Labrador)
Derrick Smith (Richmond VFL)
Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons)
Aidan Tilley (Calder Cannons)
Laitham Vandeermeer (Murray Bushrangers)
Callan Wellings (GWV Rebels)
Seb Williams (Sandringham Dragons)

Tristan Xerri (Western Jets)

South Australian State Combine (21): 

Cameron Ball (Norwood)
Dom Barry (Glenelg)
Brodie Carroll (Norwood)
Oscar Chapman (North Adelaide)
Lochie Charlton (Norwood)
Tobin Cox (Glenelg)
Mitch Crowden (Sturt)
Sam Davis (Glenelg)
Bryce Denham (North Adelaide)
Liam Denton (Glenelg)
Jackson Edwards (Glenelg)
Stefan Giro (Norwood)
Isaac Hewson (Norwood)
Curtis McCarthy (Glenelg)
Thomas Schmusch (Woodville-West Torrens)
Josh Smithson (West Adelaide)
Jordan Sweet (North Adelaide)
Jake Weidemann (Woodville-West Torrens)
Jordan West (Woodville-West Torrens)

Patrick Wilson (Sturt)
Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (Sturt)

West Australian State Combine (20):

Christian Ameduri (East Perth)
Liam Baker (Subiaco)
Jordan Boullineau (Peel Thunder)
Ryan Burrows (South Fremantle)
Damon Cramer (Peel Thunder)
Patrick Farrant  (Swan Districts)
Jonathon Frampton (South Fremantle)
Scott Jones (East Perth)
Zac Langdon (Claremont)
Tyrese Miller (West Perth)
Lachlan Mitchell (Peel Thunder)
Gordon Narrier (Perth)
Cody Nineytte (Perth)
Will Powell (Claremont)

Aaron Redhead (East Perth)
Zareth Roe (Perth)
Liam Ryan (Subiaco)
Haiden Schloithe (Subiaco)
Chris Scott (East Fremantle)
Taryce Stewart (Swan Districts) 

Rookie Me Combine (23):

Kwaby Boakye (Gold Coast Suns Academy)
Hamish Brayshaw (Sandringham Dragons)
Damien Burke (Gold Coast Suns Academy)
Jack Clayton (Brisbane Lions Academy)
James Ferry (Essendon VFL)
Tom Freeman (Dandenong Stingrays)
Joel Griffiths (Geelong Grammar)
Jack Hardman (Sydney Swans Academy)
Matthew Harman (Northern Knights)
Lachlan Harris (Sandringham Dragons)
Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL)
Cooper Jones (Bendigo Pioneers)
Daniel Joseph (Aspley)
Francis Kinthari (NT Thunder)
Jordan Lynch (Eastern Ranges)
Josh Newman (Williamstown VFL)
Tony Olango (NT Thunder)
Kieren Parnell (NT Thunder)
Julian Patterson (Gippsland Power)
Kieran Strachan (Essendon VFL)
Sam Switkowski (Box Hill VFL)
Charlie Thompson (Oakleigh Chargers)
Aaron Trusler (Sandringham Dragons)

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 13

ROUND Thirteen of the TAC Cup was completed over the weekend, with teams at full strength after Vic Metro and Vic Country players returned from Under 18 Championships commitments. We had scouts watching four of the games – read their notes below.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Northern Knights (Brandon Hutchinson)

Dandenong Stingrays:

#9 Luke Davies-Uniacke – Coming through with two goals for the game, Davies-Uniacke ended the game being one of the best on ground. His high work ethic and movement around the ground showed spectators how smart and calculating of a midfielder he really is. He is ahead of the curb defensively and offensively. His ability to read the play made for clever midfield movement and he showed no issue with putting himself on the line for his team. An all-rounder and a playmaker, who won the contested ball.

#18 Mitch Riordan – Another star for the weekend, Riordan showed off a consistent and strong work ethic. Where many others players had many ups and downs throughout the match, this man came out the gate galloping and kept up his efforts until the closing siren. A brilliant midfielder who knows how to move throughout the ground and open up pathways for his teammates, and that’s exactly what Riordan demonstrated and why he remained relevant during the whole game. While the midfielder displayed more stopping and starting than a rugby game, the bottom-ager managed to break the cycle and deliver that ball to his forwards or by snatching it from his opposition.

#25 Oscar Clavarino – A strong backline can make all the difference in a football match, so it should come at no surprise that Clavarino played a major part in his team’s victory. Possibly taking more marks than inside the Knight’s forward line than the Knights forwards combined. Clavarino read the play well and his most impressive feat was the initiation of the quick run from the backline to their forward line which ended in a goal.

#50 Riley D’Arcy – It should be no surprise to anyone that D’Arcy came through as one of the best Stingrays on the weekend. This young man’s talents in the forward line has for countless weeks put his team yards ahead of their opposition. While he seemed to be up against a tougher opponent than he may have been used to, D’Arcy fought through the challenge, showing both sides why he is a danger when the ball is in the air. His contested marking is unparalleled, muscling out anyone who tries to snatch his football away. This young man also showed his teammates that what makes a good forward by hitting them up to increase the chances at goal. A nice four goal game, along with his assistive efforts help guide his team to victory and his around the body snap from 50 out was nothing but a sight to behold.

Northern Knights:

#6 Patrick Naish – Naish played a solid game booting two goals and setting up a few others. He spent more time up forward than he has in the past few weeks and his potential did shine through. He did miss a few of his targets but he showed some good signs that should help him spring into a great second half of the season.

#30 Oliver Wilson – A strong defensive player, Wilson smashed through his competitors, laying plenty of tackles and putting on pressure. Wilson set himself apart from the rest of his game, putting in the extra effort and doing the team thing . Doing it all, he even ended the game with a goal under his belt and assisted in setting up a few others. Wilson worked well with the pressure, using it to fuel himself and step up for his team.

#39 Patrik Della Rocca – A tough match for the Dandenong defence, Della Rocca put up a firm fight against the ferocious Stingrays. Kicking two goals, and battling hard in the contest, this kid ended as one of the better players for the day. The game had plenty of interceptions, many players failing to find their targets, but often than not Della Rocca managed to find his target and pluck the ball right out of the air. On top of all that he took a wobbly but beautiful mark toward the end of game stunning spectators.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Bendigo Pioneers (Matt Balmer)

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Charlie Constable – Dominated the contest and was the star in the opening 10 minutes of the game. He won the ball on the inside and dished it off with ease to teammates to clear it from the contest. He also pushed forward and booted three goals and did his top five chances no harm. Was on track at quarter time for 40 disposals, but the Pioneers were able to do a reasonable job shutting him down.

#8 Will Walker – Found a lot of the ball but often turned it over by foot or just thumped it long. Walker opted to bang the ball long and high rather than slowing down and looking for the shorter targets. He did manage to bring the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions helping the Dragons hit the scoreboard.

#9 Andrew Brayshaw – Won the ball in the midfield and does a lot right, getting to the right positions and using it well off his right foot. He covers the ground well and is willing to defend, tackling hard throughout the game. His contested work is very good and perhaps underrated by some.

#29 Joel Amartey – Leaped well around the ground in the ruck and just when recruiters were beginning to pack their bags he clunked a fantastic contested mark and slotted the goal from 35m out in the last quarter. The raw ruckman is getting better with each game he plays.

#74 Nathan Murphy – Was the Dragons’ best player, moving up forward after playing his last two games in defence. His clean pick up from ground level was exceptionally and he marked well overhead, showing off a decent leap. He booted three goals, including a smart snap roving the pack in the first quarter. He snapped his third goal around the corner but it would’ve been touched if not for poor defending from the Pioneers.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Kane Farrell – Spent times at both end of the ground but lifted his output when he went into the attacking half of the ground. Used it well on his left foot hitting all his targets. Had a very good passage on the wing in front of recruiters showing off his speed and agility getting around a handful of Dragons opponents with ease.

#7 Matthew Harvey – Linked up well in the midfield finding the ball around the ground. Booted a goal for the Pioneers and was one of their biggest ball winners.

#20 Angus Schumacher – The left footer used it well by foot and was able to find the ball through the midfield. His tackling was very good and he was willing to get involved in the contest. Possesses quick hands and was able to get the ball out to his teammates effectively.

#31 Caleb Sheehan – Didn’t win a lot of the ball but showed some good signs across half forward and in the midfield. Booted a goal and used the ball effectively by hand in close. Positioning at the stoppages was pretty good and he was able to win multiple clearances.

#59 Angus Byrne – The over-ager did some good things inside 50 booting two goals and provided some chop out in the ruck. Had a chance to convert an easy goal in the third term – but missed the chance. Marked well at ground level and the left footer was solid throughout the contest.

GWV Rebels vs. Oakleigh Chargers (Matt Balmer)

GWV Rebels:

#4 Aiden Domic – Found the ball floating across half back and through the midfield. Did have the odd bomb out of a stoppage, but his kicking was pretty neat on his right foot. Moves well and hit a nice spear pass inside 50 early in the game. Was smart enough to boot the ball long 50+ metres with the breeze and had a goal assist in the final quarter.

#9 Flynn Appleby – I thought Appleby was the Rebels’ best playing in defence. Appleby marked exceptionally well and used his good vision to spot a player with ease when he had ball in hand. He fought hard all day often matched up on the taller Toby Wooller and rebounded the ball well. Laid a superb tackle on Scala in the final quarter earning him a free kick.

#10 Jordan Johnston – Led well inside 50 and showed off his eye catching leap on a few occasions – including multiple contested grabs. He rushed a few of his kicks and it wasn’t a great day for him efficiency wise. When he picked the ball up off the ground he was able to dish it off to a teammate using quick hands on a few occasions.

#13 Thomas Berry – The bottom-ager was impressive laying multiple crunching tackles – including one on Riley Jones right on the three quarter time siren. He also nearly took a ‘screamer’ in the second term flying high for a mark. He got to the right spots to win the footy on the inside and possesses very good agile. Booted a simple goal in the final quarter claiming an intercept mark 15 metres out from goal.

#23 Lloyd Meek – Won the hitouts with ease in the ruck using his stronger frame which allowed him to out muscle Ned Reeves on most occasions. Had his quad strapped but it didn’t appear to effect him covering the ground well. Took a good grab in the last quarter but was one of a number of players whose kicking efficiency was affected by the wind.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#4 Ned Reeves – Was able to get up and over his Rebels opponents in the ruck at the ball ups – but was out muscled by Meek when they went head-to-head. Had a great centre clearance in the second quarter and was a damaging target inside 50 in the season half, with his extra height making him an impossible task for the smaller Rebels’ key position players. He marked and goaled twice in the third term.

#7 Charlie Thompson – Didn’t find as much of the ball early but worked his way into the contest, using his clean quick hands in close at the stoppages. Had a few shots on goal that were affected by the wind (resulting in 2.3 on the scoreboard). He was willing to go in and get the ball, but did rush a few kicks around the ground. Snagged a nice snap goal in the third term.

#8 Toby Wooller – Started the game well with a nice lead up mark in the opening quarter but it was just an ok game from Wooller. He played up forward as well as spending time at the stoppages, and had an outstanding centre clearance in the second quarter. The Chargers skipper reads the ball well at the stoppages and his defensive efforts were decent.

#14 Ed Richards – Has been super for Carey Grammar this season and continued his form into the game playing in defence. He was tasked with the kick outs and was able to find a free target with most of his kicks on his left foot. His hands in traffic are very good and he was willing to show off his elite speed and agility, taking on the Rebels players at times. Controlled the play and set the Chargers up well going forward.

#35 Jack Higgins – A quiet game by Higgins’ high standard. He still found 30 disposals, but it wasn’t as impactful as some of his other games this season. He worked his way into the game in the second half with 14 disposals alone in the third term, after earlier booting a trademark snap around the corner (Stevie J style) in the first quarter. He gave away a few innocuous free kicks throughout the day, but his quick hands were on show and the trait is one of the skills that seperate him from others at the stoppages. Kicked goal of the day on his left foot (non-preferred) deep in the pocket. Was willing to get in and tackle hard around the ground and his clearance work was very good.

Geelong Falcons vs. Western Jets (Peter Williams)

Geelong Falcons:

#1 Lachlan Noble – He was influential after quarter time, particularly in the third quarter. Booted two goals early in that quarter to help the Falcons hit the front and they never looked back from there. Noble finished the game with four majors and read the ball drop well, combining with his good goal sense to play a perfect crumbing forward’s game on a day where smalls were prominent.

#4 Gryan Miers – One of the best on ground for sure. Booted five goals and just looked dangerous every time he went near it. Strong in the air and at ground level, Miers particularly stands out with his ability to protect the ball drop and use his body well against his opponent to take the grab. He could have finished with about eight by the end of the day if he had not missed a few through the middle stages, but showed his class with a banana from the boundary line to go with a number of set shot and snaps.

#5 Jack Henderson – A reliable defender who did not do too much wrong in the backline. Along with Cooper Stephens, Henderson was tasked with switching the ball and trying to transition it out of defence. He hit his targets more often than not and seemed a composed user with ball in hand.

#7 Harry Benson – While he might not have accumulated the numbers he has in past weeks, he showed his super quick hands at the stoppages and is one of the many Falcons runners who are used in transition to move the ball cleanly from half-back to half-forward. He played on the ball and spent time on Lachie Fogarty, Benson laid a number of strong tackles on opponents.

#8 Ned McHenry – An underrated member of the Falcons midfield in my opinion. A lot is spoken about many of the others, but the bottom-ager goes about his business quietly achieving. A good user of the ball and particularly effective forward of centre, McHenry is most used as part of the chain of possessions moving in transition.

#16 David Handley – Kicked the first goal for the Falcons and the first goal of the second half, but otherwise was quiet. Like a traditional small forward, he pops up for an effective handball or pounces on an opportunity. The highlight was a bouncing ball in the square which saw Handley beat his opponent and volley it home to keep the Falcons’ momentum going after the half-time break.

#19 Matthew Ling – The speedy midfielder has that touch of class and it is no wonder there are plenty rating him in the first round. Does not win as much of it as some of his teammates, but he certainly knows how to do damage by foot. In saying that, he had a couple of uncharacteristic errors going inside 50 on the weekend and he berated himself for it, indicating the high standard he expects from himself. Ling’s top efforts were highlighted in a couple of footraces along the boundary line, beating his opponent and quickly disposing of the ball quickly by hand.

#22 Sam Walsh – Not named among the best for the Falcons which surprised me a little as I thought his run and carry was really good. Sometimes at full speed he would miss his his targets, but when time was on his side he weighs his kicks perfectly. One of a number of Falcons who impressed moving from half-back and through the midfield.

#38 James Worpel – Played more outside as he has recently, and won plenty of the ball on the wing and half-forward. Had a number of kicks going inside 50 but just needs to work on his disposal further. On Sunday his biggest problem just seemed to be that his execution let him down with his decision making still good, such as a few kicks dropping short of their intended targets. Laid quite a number of tackles, but also gave away a few free kicks. Worpel found space really well and covers the ground with ease.

#39 Connor Idun – Played on Cam Rayner when he was forward and I would have given the points to Idun. Did not always go with him in the midfield, but wore him like a glove in the defensive 50. While he does not win a heap of it, his defensive pressure and work rate is very good. Idun has good vision and can often handball to a teammate on the outside of a contest when he is in a congested situation.

#42 Cassidy Parish – I liked his game more than previous ones because he was opting to kick long rather than using a sideways handball. His ability in close is undoubtedly up there with the best, but it is his outside game, particularly his kicking which has brought the most critics. On the weekend I thought he kicked a lot better than previously. If he did not hit the target, he was clearing 40m passes and using long kicks to just get the ball deep inside 50. For me he played a clever game in the windy conditions – going for meterage and getting deep forward entries.

#46 Blake Schlensog – I was quite impressed with Schlensog’s movement around the ground. He seemed to be in sync with his midfielders when he was in a stoppage or contest and if he did not take the grab he would bring it front and centre. Schlensog had good vision for a taller player and managed to get his arms free in tackles.

Western Jets:

#12 Connor Thar – Really like Thar as a prospect because he rarely panics under pressure. He wins the ball and thinks his way through his disposal of it, showing good decision making and composure. Likewise his disposal by foot under pressure was also impressive and often found himself kicking to a target inside 50. As a bottom-age prospect, he will no doubt look to add size to his frame to work on the defensive attributes further, but overall he showed some promising signs.

#14 Lachlan Fogarty – A classy user when in possession, it was great to see Fogarty back at TAC Cup level with school football having the bye and his Vic Metro commitments over. Fogarty was really busy early and popped in from time to time but still needs to build his endurance further, having had a setback with a groin injury recently. When in space he uses it really well and puts it to the advantage of his teammates, but sometimes when in tight he can throw it on the boot. One instance was at a stoppage where he read the tap won the football and threw it on the boot. His opponent James Worpel had moved towards the contest and Fogarty had the open space to run inside 50 had he held it for a few more seconds to look. But given the pressure within the game he certainly could be forgiven for that, and I expect he will be a first round pick in this year’s draft with his skill set. The Jets’ best on the weekend.

#19 Cameron Rayner – Plenty of eyes would have been on the powerfully built forward. He looked strong early, fending off a few opponents to lead to a goal assist to Tristan Xerri, but over the four quarters was well contained. His opponents wore him like a glove such was their awareness of what he was capable of, and every contest he went to, he always had company by his side. A few glimpses, but overall a quieter game from the potential number one pick.

#20 Josh Mould – A risk-taking defender who I liked offensively. Penetrated past the defensive 50m arc kicking out on a number of occassions and would more often than not hit a target. Apart from a blue in the last quarter which led to a goal after attempting to kick short, Mould was quite good coming out of the back half. In the second quarter he ran about 40m to break through the Falcons zone. Does need to work on his defensive attributes as he was beaten one-on-one against Gryan Miers.

#25 Jack Noonan – Playing forward he did his job booting three goals. In the third term when the Jets looked down and out facing an eight-goal deficit coming up to half-time, Noonan had two set shots from difficult angles inside 50 and nailed them both. With the windy conditions, his set shot routine was quite good and he got a tick from me.

#37 Hamish Murphy – A typical lockdown defender who, despite not winning much of the ball, impressed me quite a bit. Early on he took a couple of intercept marks and really shut down the strong Adam Garner. Garner finished the game with one goal and could have had two, beating Murphy on the lead, but one-on-one, Murphy held his own through pure positioning and ability to read the ball in flight.

#38 Buku Khamis – Another Jets’ defender whose game I thought was quite impressive. Did not win much of it, but his role in shutting down the dangerous Tom McCartin could not be understated. He only had seven disposals, but kept McCartin goalless which was no easy feat. Khamis was good one-on-one and had a good game sense. For mine, his timing needs some work because he sometimes jumped too early to spoil.

#44 Tristan Xerri – The key forward/ruck is a hard one to read. I really like his work as a key forward, but there is still development needed around the ground. I think his leading patterns and ability to mark at the highest point, as well as a decent vertical leap make him a really solid prospect as a forward. The next step for me is that I find that he is a bit raw and needs to work further on his game sense. One instance was where the ball was about to roll out and Xerri was in hot pursuit with an opponent right behind him. Rather than let it roll out and reset, he dragged the ball back in but chose to take possession where he was immediately tackled and naturally called for holding the ball. I think he has plenty of development left in him and his field kicking seemed to be quite good, it is just his game sense which needed improvement in my opinion.

Under 18 Championships Preview: Vic Metro

VIC METRO enters the National Under 18 Championships as the short priced favourite to take out the title – but don’t be putting your house on it, with one unexpected result already taking place in the opening game of the carnival. After winning against the odds in 2016 – Metro will be fighting hard to go back-to-back but will need to be on their game to avoid a slip up in their opening fixture.

A deep midfield will allow them to float multiple players through the centre to find the best combination, with Eastern Ranges pair Adam Cerra and Joel Garner two such players who will likely have time in the guts, while Jack Petruccelle’s elite speed will provide a point of difference as he bursts from the packs getting the ball forward.

Medium forwards Cameron Rayner and Jaidyn Stephenson are elite marks overhead and as a bonus they can push into the midfield and win their own ball. Sandringham Dragons captain Hayden McLean will be one of the key targets infront of goal, while Will Sutherland and the tall King twins (Max and Ben) will have their opportunities through the latter stages of the carnival.

Noah Balta has seamlessly transitioned into a key defender and is looking the goods. His role will likely see him take the most dangerous opposition forward, where he can use his outstanding agility and big leap to his advantage.

Overall Metro will likely boast more of the top 20 than any other teams at this point in time – but as we have seen time and time again, the next four weeks are the make and break for players pushing their case in front of club recruiters.

Players to watch:

Jack Higgins – The midfielder/small forward averaged 20 disposals in his appearances for Vic Metro in last year’s carnival. Higgins is a very good goal sneak and is agile enough to get around opposition defenders. As a prolific ball winner, expect him to be one of Metro’s best performers in the championships.

Joel Garner – The captain of the Vic Metro team has had a solid start to the year at school and TAC Cup level. Has a long left foot and can play at all ends of the ground. Will mostly play as an outside midfielder, but his hands in close mean that he can be as damaging in the contest.

Cameron Rayner – The exciting midfielder can push forward and take excellent marks overhead. He has the ability to make things happen in a quick burst thanks to his power, and his X-Factor will appeal to clubs as a player who could content for the No.1 pick.

Jaidyn Stephenson – One of the better marks in the draft pool for a player sub 190cm. Stephenson will play as a target up forward and has a good burst of speed that adds another dimension to the marking forward. Played in Vic Metro’s game against Vic Country last year and looks set for a big carnival after showing midfield craft for the Eastern Ranges.

Will Sutherland – Sutherland won’t be running out for Vic Metro this weekend against Western Australia, but will likely line up when Metro play their games in Victoria. Sutherland is a good mark overhead and has pushed into the midfield for Scotch College using his great agility for a tall, attending multiple centre bounces. Clubs believe he could be worth an early selection should the talented cricketer choose the football pathway.

2018 names to keep an eye on:

Ben King – One of the top talls alongside brother Max for the 2018 draft. Ben is a natural key defender with an athletic leap, who reads the play superbly in defence. He will miss the opening game of the championships, but expect him to make an impact at some point in the Under 18 Championships.

Max King – One of the top talls alongside brother Ben for the 2018 draft and is a contender for the number one pick in 2018. The key forward has an athletic leap and can clunk some super marks inside 50. He will play school footy & miss Metro’s first game against WA this weekend, but expect him impact up forward when given the chance.

Curtis Taylor – One of the 2018 eligible draftees who were stiff to miss out on AFL Academy recognition after putting on some superb displays at school football for PEGS last year. Has recently returned for PEGS and Calder Cannons after an injury, and is currently little known by some – but is a player I’d expect to leave a lasting impression should he play in the Under 18 Championships.

FIXTURES

Round 1: BYE
Round 2: v WESTERN AUSTRALIA – June 18th 11.00am Domain Stadium
Round 3: v VIC COUNTRY – June 24th 2.30pm Punt Road Oval
Round 4: v SOUTH AUSTRALIA – June 30th 4.40pm Etihad Stadium (FOX FOOTY)
Round 5: v ALLIES – July 5th 2.10pm Simonds Stadium (FOX FOOTY)

Possible Round Two team:**

B: Ethan Penrith, Harrison Nolan, Mitchell Podhajski
HB: Ryley Stoddart, Noah Balta, Nicholas Coffield
C: Joel Garner, Adam Cerra, Lachlan Fogarty
HF: Patrick Naish, Hayden McLean, Cameron Rayner
F: Jack Higgins, Tristan Xerri, Jaidyn Stephenson

FOLL: Sam Hayes, Jack Petruccelle, Thomas North
INT: Toby Wooller, Trent Mynott, Curtis Taylor, Dylan Moore, Angus Styles

** – The Round two teams will be publicly announced tomorrow afternoon.

Predictions:

Finishing prediction: 1st – Metro have all the class around the ground and are short favourites to go through the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships undefeated. However – as we’ve already seen in the opening weekend upsets do happen and Western Australia should be able to push them at least for the first half this weekend. Anything is possible in the Under 18 Championships results wise, but it is Vic Metro’s title to lose.

MVP prediction: Jack Higgins – Higgins was a good contributor in the 2016 Under 18 Championships as a bottom ager and will likely play a key role through the midfield & as a small forward inside 50. Expect him to push forward and hit the scoreboard using his smarts around goal. Should be a key player in Vic Metro’s attempt of winning back-to-back titles.

2017 VIC METRO SQUAD

No.Name
DOB
HT(cm)
WT (kg)
Club
1Dylan Moore4/08/199917566Eastern Ranges/Rowville/Caulfield Grammar
2Jack Higgins19/03/199917876Oakleigh Chargers/ East Malvern
3Ethan Penrith24/10/199917976Northern Knights/West Preston
4Lachlan Fogarty1/04/199917975Western Jets/Spotswood/St Kevins
5Patrick Naish15/01/199918069Northern Knights/ Ivanhoe Grammar
6Dylan Landt18/11/199918074Calder Cannons/Sunbury
7Rhylee West12/07/200018080Calder Cannons/Strathmore/St Kevins
8Joel Garner21/05/199918381EasternRanges/Wandin/ Scotch College
9Andrew Brayshaw8/11/199918380Sandringham Dragons/Hailebury College
10Max Dreher12/04/199918375Northern Knights/Ivanhoe Grammar
11Ryley Stoddart15/10/199918373Eastern Ranges/Blackburn/Yarra Valley
12Callum Searle12/10/199818581Oakleigh Chargers/Waverley Blues
13Trent Mynott4/10/199918573Eastern Ranges/Caulfield Grammar
14Jack Petruccelle12/04/199918473Northern Knights/Epping
15Angus Styles3/05/199918576Sandringham Dragons/Caulfield Grammar
16Thomas North14/02/199918687Eastern Ranges/Heathmont FC
17Adam Cerra7/10/199918685Eastern Ranges/Wesley Grammar
18Curtis Taylor6/04/200018674Calder Cannons/Keilor FC/ PEGS
19Cameron Rayner21/10/199918788Western Jets/Essendon Doutta Stars/ PEGS
20Jack Bytel14/03/200018879Calder Cannons/Aberfeldie FC
21Buku Khamis24/03/200018881Western Jets/St Albans
22Riley Jones5/04/199919179Oakleigh Chargers/Beverley Hills FC
23Jaidyn Stephenson15/01/199918976Eastern Ranges/Ferntree Gully FC
24Charlie Constable18/05/199919083Sandringham Dragons/Haileybury College
25Nicholas Coffield23/10/199919083Northern Knights/Eltham FC
26Mitchell Podhajski4/01/199919082Calder Cannons/Aberfeldie FC
27Toby Wooller16/03/199919390Oakleigh Chargers/Old Scotch
28Noah Balta23/10/199919492Calder Cannons/Essendon/Doutta Stars/ St Bernards
29Harrison Nolan11/06/199919593Eastern Ranges/Mt Evelyn FC
30Hayden McLean20/01/199919793Sandringham Dragons/Beaumaris/St Bedes
31Will Sutherland27/10/199919590Scotch College
32Joel Grace23/06/199919990Northern Knighs/Sth Morang
33Ben King7/07/200020179Sandringham Dragons/ Haileybury College
34Max King7/07/200020182Sandringham Dragons/Haileybury College
35Matthew Harman2/06/199820087Northern Knights/Marcellin O.C.
36Tristan Xerri15/03/199920193Western Jets/ Caroline Springs FC
37Sam Hayes9/06/199920393Eastern Ranges/Ferntree Gully FC
38Alex Federico**26/09/199918477Northern Knights/Marcellin College
39Marcus Lentini**5/06/199918374Northern Knights

** – Emergencies

Vic Metro 46-man U18 training squad announced

VIC Metro will be aiming to win back-to-back titles after naming a strong Under 18 training squad for the upcoming NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

The squad will be coached by Martin Allison, who is taking over the reigns from David Flood. Allison is the new AFL Victoria Metro Talent Pathways Manager and previously coached the Vic Metro Academy back in 2013.

He will be joined by former Western Bulldogs player Steve Wallis and current Director of Coaching at Eastern Michael Rizio – who were part of last year’s assistant coaching set up, while Carlton AFL Women’s and Sandringham Dragons forward coach Jackson Kornberg and Uni Blues (VAFA) senior coach Quinton Gleeson will join as Metro assistants.

Vic Metro’s midfield will be led by talented Eastern Ranges duo Adam Cerra and Joel Garner, while Jack Petruccelle (Northern Knights) and Cameron Rayner (Western Jets) will provide some much needed X-Factor in the side.

SQUAD:

 

 

Looking Ahead TAC Cup Round 4

Bendigo Pioneers (10th, 1-2) vs. Oakleigh Chargers (4th, 2-1)

Both Bendigo and Oakleigh contain some of their top-end talent despite the likes of Lochie O’Brien, Paddy Dow and Jarrod Brander missing due to school football for the Pioneers. The Pioneers’ strength in my opinion lies across the half-back line with all those players – Kane Farrell, Keelin Betson and Darby Henderson pushing up into the midfield as well. Their midfield holds up well, but their medium talls often have to play key position roles, with the likes of Bailey Henderson and Daine Grace both showing signs despite some inconsistencies at times this season.

I think the Pioneers might struggle with height as they have so far this season with Toby Wooller the one to watch up forward for the Chargers. Jack Higgins and Louis Cunningham will provide run through the middle and the likes of Callum Searle and Riley Jones holding up the defensive end. Oakleigh rebounded from a loss to Sandringham in the first round to post two victories and I think they will record one here.

The Chargers win more of the football, dominate the contested possession and lead the Pioneers across most statistical categories. Bendigo’s rebounding has been fairly good this season, as has their disposal by hand, not so much by foot. Bendigo is not the Bendigo of past years and will put up a real fight and at full strength I think the Pioneers would have them. But looking at the teams on paper, Oakleigh is my tip for this game.

Players to watch:

Bendigo: Darby Henderson: 27 disposals (11 contested), four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s, 91 DT points

Oakleigh: Jack Higgins: 30 disposals (14 contested), eight marks, five tackles, three clearances 127 DT points


Dandenong Stingrays (6th, 2-1) vs. Sandringham Dragons (2nd, 3-0)

Since the start of the season I have tipped Dandenong Stingrays for the flag and am not one to jump off the bandwagon. The return of Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning will aid the Stingrays at Frankston Oval, with Sandringham literally unrecognisable from the previous week with a whopping 15 changes – welcome back school football.

Dandenong’s top-end talent and ability to rebound will be too much for Sandringham and hand the Dragons their first loss. Mason De Wit and Bailey Morrish are two of the unlucky ones not to be drafted this season and both Clark and De Koning will be important in the Stingrays’ push going forward. I think they will miss Ali Zijai who has been one of the Stingrays’ best this season, however I’ll look forward to seeing bottom-ager Tom Hogan strut his stuff again after impressing in glimpses. Whether he will fit in the forward line with De Koning and Riley D’Arcy is yet to be seen, but he may end up sharing the ruck duties with Bailey Williams and Tom Roberts.

For the Dragons, Hamish Brayshaw and Quintin Montanaro are a couple of midfielders that will try and maintain continuity in the side, while Hayden McLean will be a tough ask to shut down for the opposition defence, with Will Walker and Max Lohan another couple to keep an eye on in this match.

The Dragons have used the ball well on the outside and have subsequently had low contested ball numbers. They play a high-skilled outside brand of football and the Stingrays would be aiming to try and force them to play more inside in order to counteract their possession play. I think the Stingrays will be too strong and the Dragons will need a few weeks to get used to their mass changes.

Players to watch:

Dandenong: Mason De Wit: 18 disposals, five marks, six rebounds, 77 per cent kicking efficiency, 63 DT points

Sandringham: Quintin Montanaro: 19 disposals, seven marks, six handball receives, 73 per cent kicking efficiency, 71 DT points


Eastern Ranges (7th, 1-2) vs. Geelong Falcons (1st, 3-0)

This match will be the match of the round in my opinion with a number of top-end talents returning to the teams. It will be the spectators’ loss that Adam Cerra will not take the field, but with Sam Hayes and Jaidyn Stephenson running around, there will still be plenty of excitement for the Ranges. Harrison Nolan is a key defender who will no doubt be on AFL clubs radars, while Eastern’s midfield is as good as anyone’s, but I think Geelong have them covered in this game.

James Worpel returns, he joins Cassidy Parish on the inside and that is the best 1-2 inside combination in the league, while Harry Benson, Oscar Brownless and Matthew Ling provide the Falcons with an embarrassment of riches. David Handley will be looking to continue his strong early season form while Tom McCartin is moving forward to follow in brother Paddy’s footsteps. Throw in Ethan Floyd, Gryan Miers and Hayden Elliot and it’s no wonder why this side is undefeated at the top of the table.

I think Geelong will remain at the top of the table after overcoming Eastern in this game. They lead them in most categories except hitouts – which they know they will lose due to height – and then clearances and contested possessions – both of which will change given Worpel is back in and Cerra is out for the Ranges. With the Falcons having a superior kicking efficiency as well, I think the will get the job done here.

Players to watch:

Eastern: Jaidyn Stephenson: 15 disposals (10 contested), six marks (two contested), four inside 50s, eight goals, 96 DT points

Geelong: James Worpel: 19 disposals (nine contested), six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, 72 DT points


Western Jets (9th, 1-2) vs. Gippsland Power (8th, 1-2)

It is fair to say these sides have not had the start they would have liked, but after seeing Gippsland live last week, I feel they are better than their results are showing. Aidan Quigley returns this week which is a boost, and the Power has a good balance of talls and smalls around the ground. Will Stephenson just steps up when needed, while Nick Hogan, Callum Porter and Austin Hodge always provide effort over four quarters. Sean Masterson was good at full-forward last week but has been named at full-back to tackle Tristan Xerri this week. I do like him more as a forward, but we will see how that pans out.

For the Jets, they seemed lost without their two stars in Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty. Those two jets – pardon the pun – are the lynchpin of the side and allow others to run on the outside. Xerri is raw but marks the ball at the highest point, while Judah Dundon and Nicholas Stuhldreier will always work hard. Both sides are pretty even across the board, but with Gippsland ahead on both the inside and outside they will have the slight advantage. However their footskills let them down while the Jets have been comparatively good by hand or foot and with good clearance ability, the Jets will always give their forwards first use.

The ability to put out a consistent team each week works in Gippsland’s favour and based on seeing these teams last week, I will be putting my tip the way of the Power who surprised me and I think they will continue this week.

Players to watch:

Western: Nicholas Stuhldreier: 19 disposals (seven contested), four marks, four tackles, four inside 50s, 79 DT points

Gippsland: Nick Hogan: 21 disposals (12 contested), five clearances, five inside 50s, three tackles, 75 DT points


Northern Knights (5th, 2-1) vs. Murray Bushrangers (3rd, 2-1)

In the first of the Sunday games at RAMS Arena, Northern Knights and Murray Bushrangers will be fighting for a top four spot. The Knights have a really strong midfield led by Nick Coffield, Patrick Naish, Marcus Lentini and Jack Petruccelle. The emergence of Max Dreher further this season has allowed Naish to play further up the ground, with Dreher and Ethan Penrith also able to drift through that midfield. Joel Grace booted six goals in their last match so no doubt he will be tightly watched by the Bushrangers defence.

For Murray, they always put out a really competitive team and with a half-back line of Doulton Langlands, Alex Paech and Ben Paton, expect there to be no shortage of drive and rebounding out of the Bushrangers defence. Both teams’ half-back lines are strong and Murray have a number of players that have shown signs including Isaac Wallace, Will Donaghey and Angus Hicks, while Nick Richards will be keen to bounce back from a quieter round three match following two strong performances in the first fortnight.

The Bushrangers’ strengths lie in their foot skills compared to the Knights and their ability to control possession. They do struggle a little on the inside compared to past years, but provide plenty of pressure to the opposition. The Knights have been good around the stoppages and equally frenetic without the ball and I think they will get the job done here. Northern is my tip.

Players to watch:

Northern: Max Dreher: 24 disposals (12 contested), five marks, five tackles, five clearances, three rebounds, 91 DT points

Murray: Ben Paton: 25 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, 98 DT points


Calder Cannons (12th 0-3) vs. GWV Rebels (11th, 0-3)

Two of the smallest teams in the TAC Cup will do battle in the final game of the round with avoiding going winless after four rounds the carrot dangled in front of them. What makes this game more interesting than an 11th versus 12th clash is the fact that both have similar strengths and weaknesses. Both midfields are really solid, with Calder’s Jean-Luc Velissaris, Brad Bernacki and Ben Caluzzi facing Aiden Domic, Cal Wellings and Thomas Berry. I think the Rebels’ midfield bats a little deeper, but Calder does have the better talls. Keep an eye out for Scott Carlin who is skilful by foot and will be one to watch for next season, while Cannons excitement machine Jesse Firebrace is small but packs a punch.

Noah Balta is the star of the show and will be a high draft pick, but he has his work cut out for him against Lloyd Meek who has been one of the in-form ruckmen of the competition. Mitch Podhajski will look to use his “height” of 190cm to lead the Calder defence, while the Rebels will hope that their speed will counteract the Cannons’ height up the other end. It is almost scary to think 200cm Daniel Hanna could line-up on 188cm Jackson Taurau.

I think this match will come down to match conditions. I think in patches the Rebels have shown some signs, but so has Calder. The problem with both these teams is they tend to drift off for a quarter and the opposition boots a bag of goals and it hurts. Given I am very much on the fence I will turn to the stats where the Rebels have been superior by foot, in the hit-outs, clearances and inside 50s. Calder has been much better rebounding, but with the Rebels ahead in more areas, I will select them without a great deal of confidence either way.

Players to watch:

Calder: Jean-Luc Velissaris: 17 disposals (eight contested), four marks, six inside 50s, five tackles, 84 DT points

GWV: Callan Wellings: 28 disposals (15 contested), seven marks, eight clearances, eight tackles, five rebounds, 123 DT points