Player focus: Andrew Brayshaw

REIGNING premiers Sandringham Dragons have started the season in tip-top shape without a loss from their opening three games, coming off a big 64-point win over Western Jets on Saturday.

Matt Balmer looks in depth at one of their most important midfield cogs.

Andrew Brayshaw is one of the few players who was part of the 2016 TAC Cup Grand Final win, that remains on the Dragons list.

While most of the spotlight that day went on future number one draft pick Andrew McGrath who starred with 38 disposals – Brayshaw himself had 12 disposals and eight handball receives wearing the number 41 guernsey playing as a bottom-ager. But it wasn’t all celebrations with Andrew suffering a knee injury from the victory.

Brother Hamish too has had his share of injuries over the past few seasons, but the pair have become important players in the middle of the ground for the Dragons in 2017.

On the field, the pairs leadership and voice is evident with both Brayshaw’s barking instructions from the interchange bench and are prepared to open their mouths at the quarter time & three quarter time huddles.

Andrew’s stellar start to season 2017 has seen him average 26 disposals (11.3 contested) at an elite 82 per cent disposal efficiency.

On Saturday, Brayshaw was one of the Dragons best players working his way through the middle of the ground to finish with 26 disposals.

The 183cm midfielders hunt on the ball was fantastic – every time at the stoppages & when the ball hit the ground, he was hunting the ball, wanting in his hands. He laid a match-high 11 tackles for the contest and is averaging eight for the season.

Brayshaw’s endurance is outstanding – posting a 15.2 beep test in the preseason but the Dragons utilised him as a pure midfielder in bursts before resting on the interchange, rarely used to rest up forward.

Andrew Brayshaw’s disposals plotted out. (KL = Kick Long, KS = Kick Short, MRK = Mark, HB = Handball)

Quarter by quarter:
In the opening quarter he recorded just four disposals. In one passage, he kicked the ball out to Haileybury College school teammate Liam Stocker – despite not hitting the target, Stocker ran onto the ball and delivered it further up the ground. Another instance, he won a free kick after being legged and then kicked short inside 50 missing tall forward Isaac Morrisby by some five metres.

But by the first few minutes of the second quarter those errors were out of his system – he weaved through three players in the centre of the ground and cleared the ball forward. His fast feet give him the ability to change direction quickly and his burst over the first five metres makes him one of the quickest in his team. He deserved a free 10 minutes later when he tackled hard and pinned the arm of a Jets player who threw the ball from the contest. A kick long along the far wing would’ve been effective had Stocker thrown two hands to the ball rather than one. Another running bounce took the ball inside 50 and hit Morrisby lace out and was one of his seven inside 50s for the contest.

The third term saw two great contested knock ons – one to brother Hamish who hit up Aaron Trusler inside 50 and another to Will Walker in the centre square allowing him to clear the ball forward.

Brayshaw wasn’t finished there however – running the game out to record eight disposals in the last quarter. A pinpoint pass from defensive 50 rebounding the ball to Quintin Montanaro a highlight.

Centre bounce attendances:
Quarter 1: two
Quarter 2: three
Quarter 3: six
Quarter 4: four

The Dragons continued to lose players throughout the contest with barely a fit player on the bench by the time the final siren blew. It meant that Brayshaw attended every centre bounce after half time. His clearance work was superb – with a large number of taps throughout the day from Ethan Casey going straight into his palms. His 10 clearances was a match high, including six of them from the ball ups around the ground. His positioning at the centre bounces saw him have his left side towards the attacking Dragons goal end allowing for Casey to palm the ball down in their direction for Brayshaw to take it forward.

Final stats:

26 disposals (13 contested)
12 kicks
14 handballs
13 handball receives
11 tackles
10 clearances
7 inside 50s

WHERE Andrew ends up in the draft remains a mystery, with some 200+ days until clubs will call out names on November 24th – but one thing is for sure if he keeps this form up into his APS school season and through to the Division One championships for Vic Metro, he’ll continue to put his hand up to be drafted.

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