Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 2

THERE were plenty of big individual performances over the weekend, including a big bag of eight goals from possible top-five draftee Max King. We had scouts watching five games over the weekend, read their notes below.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges (Peter Williams)

Calder Cannons:

#4 Kyle Baker – I enjoyed watching the dashing defender coming out of the back half early on, he had that air of composure about him. The most noted trait was his ability to still kick cleanly despite being at full-speed, and he was willing to back himself and take the game on. You can tell he is the type of player teammates like to give it to so he can utilise his dash and kicking skills.

#5 Curtis Taylor – He is a very noticeable player when playing through the midfield and damaging up forward. Unfortunately his kicking did let him down at times and he finished the game with 1.3. You can tell he is a player that has a presence around the stoppages and one that opposition players look to quell when getting forward. When in the middle he was a clearance machine, and also won a number of free kicks because of opposition holding on. He has good acceleration out of the stoppage too.

#11 Jake Firebrace – An exciting player who you never know what he will do with the ball. At times he did throw it on the boot inside 50 when there could have been better options, but he won a lot of his possessions in close and was constantly under pressure. Finished with one goal from a 50m penalty and almost kicked another moments later but missed.

#16 Jack Bytel – A powerful midfielder who has a lot of exciting qualities. One of my favourite moments was when he was surrounded by opponents and he seemed to remain calm and just danced around them as if he was in a telephone box, getting the handball into space to a teammate. His powerful burst out of a stoppage reminded me a bit of Luke Davies-Uniacke last year in the way that he was not overly quick across long distances, but had that first few steps that could burn off opponents. Bytel is strong one-on-one and produced one of the best passes of the night in the fourth term. Hit-up a teammate inside 50 with an absolute dart of a pass – which he initially received off a half-volley on the deck, and had to spin around blindly with a split second to weigh up his options. Really impressed with his game.

#20 Rhylee West – The potential Western Bulldogs father-son stepped up from his round one performance to put in an impressive round two game. He racked up around 30 disposals and burrowed in hard, while also being that player on the outside ready for the handball receive. He won his fair share of clearances, and was used in transition with his powerful kick going deep inside 50 on multiple occasions. At times he would give the look-away handballs that teammates were not ready for, but the penetration he gets on his kicks – particularly over long distances – was impressive. He does have that balance where he can weigh his kicks and change the power on his disposal which is a handy trait to have. West often executed the one-two give-and-goes and would burst away from the stoppage arching his back, not too dissimilar to Adam Treloar. He booted a powerful goal from outside 50 and had the highlight of the night, with a towering pack mark.

#26 Mason Fletcher – Any Essendon fans at RAMS Arena would have to have been impressed with what they saw from Dusty’s son. He brought back plenty of memories with his ability to mark or spoil the ball, peel off his man when required and just settle down the defence. He has great closing speed and is a strong spoiler, and just rarely rushes his kicks. He would have to have one of the highest kicking efficiencies of any player on the night, because I hardly saw a poor disposal from him. Really impressive performance.

#27 Tye Browning – Browning played through the middle and often dropped back into defence at times, used as the option across half-back to switch play. On multiple occasions he would receive the handball and automatically look to the “fat side” where he would clear the ball to a teammate on the opposite flank. He also drifted forward in the second term to kick the goal of the day from a tight angle in the pocket which was simply sensational. A real leader when the heat is turned up.

#30 Mitch Podhajski – A workman-like performance from the co-captain who was impressive in the first half. He booted two goals and could have had a third, while also covering the ground well and settling down the team. Most noticeable is his ability to do the one percenters and provide blocks, shepherds or lay tackles, because he was consistently stopping opponents in their tracks. The 19-year-old is one of the most versatile players out there, lining up in the middle, deep in defence, or providing a target up forward. One of his highlights in the first half was a good goal on the run in the second term.

#43 Lucas Cavallaro – Really impressed with Cavallaro’s performance on Thursday night. Just flies under the radar and gets the job done and he was one of Calder’s best in my opinion. He has a powerful kick that he can use to put into dangerous areas when going forward, or clear the danger zone in defence. He is very good defensively one-on-one in the air, and was winning a lot of ball early when Calder was rebounding. He is a composed kick of the football, usually given the job of kicking out of a defence and is always hovering around the stoppages to hunt the ball.

Eastern Ranges:

#2 Adrian Kalcovski – Won a heap of the football on the night and was one of Eastern’s most prolific midfielders. He covered much of the ground, winning the ball in defence, midfield and attack, and just used it neatly across the ground. He was the player that teammates opted to give it to to keep the run going, and never stopped trying to clear the ball out of stoppages. Capped off the night with a well-deserving goal as one of the players that stood up to the strong Calder midfield.

#11 Mitch Mellis – An exciting player who is unpredictable and can hurt opponents with his game sense and general football IQ. He is a predominantly outside player, but he has the pace to burn, and was creating some serious run for the Ranges out of their backline. He almost kicked a one-in-a-million goal, running backwards hugged against the boundary line, but his banana kick missed. He seemed to find the ball wherever he went both down back, through the middle or up forward, and has that touch of class when he steadies himself and has time to execute.

#12 Jacob Gilbee – Was a strong performer defensively. Did not win a heap of the ball, but he laid some crucial tackles, including one where he bumped an opponent off the ball as he was kicking in the goal square which forced the ball to go into the post. One of those unsung defenders who just did his job on the night when the opposition was pumping the ball deep inside 50.

#20 Ben Cardamone – Another impressive game from the defender who was his team’s best player again. He has a knack for being able to read the play, intercept and turn his opponent inside-out before kicking. Cardamone seems like one of those players that is more damaging over long distances as he kicks through the ball more and when he does, it hurts the opposition because it can clear zones. Cardamone also pushes up the ground and wins the ball as that kick behind play, penetrating opposition defences to kick it to the danger zone inside 50.

#23 Xavier Fry – Good user of the football who took a great diving intercept mark on the wing in the final quarter. Kicked out a lot of the time and had a penetrating kick that cleared the 50m arc. One of his team’s top rebounders, Fry gave the Ranges plenty of drive off half-back and while he’s not a huge possession winner, most of his possessions hurt the opposition or provide a fair amount of metres gained.

#24 Kye Quirk – Had a super last quarter after starting the game quietly. Played through the midfield before going back and I feel defence is where he is suited as he reads the play so well and rebounds accordingly. He is strong in the air and thinks his way through moving the ball out of the back half, while presenting as an option up the field too.

Gippsland Power vs. Dandenong Stingrays (Ed Pascoe)

Gippsland Power:

#5 Xavier Duursma – Duursma played a complete midfielders game winning plenty of his own ball and working hard outside the contest to run and create. Duursma showed great composure and skill in a game filled with rushed disposals and turnovers. His work rate around the ground was top notch and his leadership around the ground was fantastic always supporting his teammates and giving out instruction. Duursma is an excellent overhead mark for his size and he took a very strong mark, which resulted in him pulling up sore – but showed great courage and he played out the game well despite multiple hard knocks.

#8 Bailey Beck – Beck tried his heart out down back. He laid plenty of goal saving tackles and spoils and his one-on-one defending was very solid. Not only did Beck do all the defensive things well he also provided a lot of run out of defence. In a disappointing loss for Gippsland, he could hold his head up high as a player that gave it his all for the day.

#9 Irving Mosquito – Mosquito proved once again that he is one of the most exciting forwards in the TAC Cup. Mosquito kicked two sensational snap goals but it wasn’t just his goal sense that impressed it was his pressure and chase down tackling that really caught the eye. Mosquito had a great passage of play early in the game when he took off, had great composure and hit a creative kick proving that he might just be the most complete small forward in the TAC Cup.

#12 Brock Smith – Bottom-ager Smith is highly rated down at Gippsland and it’s not hard to see why, already in the leadership group as a bottom-ager he showed great leadership down back and also showed his tremendous talent. Smith did just about everything that makes a defender great, he took intercept marks, laid big tackles, took the game on with run and carry, showed courage and spoiled well. Smith showed signs that he will be a player to watch this year.

#25 Kyle Reid – Reid was solid in defence taking a number of contested and intercept marks. He also showed plenty of composure with ball in hand and was a major reason that Gippsland were not further behind at quarter time when Dandenong had a staggering amount of inside 50s. Reid has trimmed down over the summer and it has showed in his improved movement and ability to get to more contests down back.

Dandenong Stingrays: 

#5 Angus Paterson – Paterson was a rock in defence taking countless intercept marks and with many players missing targets by foot he was part of a select few who hit their targets and they weren’t just easy kicks to hit either. The overager Paterson was one of the main reasons for Dandenong’s victory with plenty of goal saving marks and spoils.

#18 Mitch Riordan – Riordan started the game slowly but he got better as the game went on. Gippsland had plenty of midfielders putting their head over the ball and attacked the contest hard and Riordan was the player in the middle for Dandenong to lift in that area. His attack on the ball set up plenty especially with how clean he was and his ability to get his arms up and release with a good handball. One of the main contributors in the last quarter where Dandenong pulled away.

#29 Bailey Williams – Like many of his teammates early on in the game, Williams missed a few targets but he just got better and better as the game wore on. Playing mostly as a ruckman last year, he spent most of his team playing up forward against the Power, where he provided a great target with his leap. Williams kicked a lovely snap goal and his second came from a solid mark on the full-time siren.

#42 Jai Nanscawen – Nanscawen was clearly the standout forward on the day kicking six goals and he kicked them from everywhere inside 50. Plenty were quick snap kicks, on one occasion he had a great run and kicked a long running goal and another in the last quarter working together with teammate Bailey Williams kicking an incredible running banana goal. Nanscawen proved to be one of the most dangerous forwards in the TAC Cup with his goal sense and speed a real weapon.

#58 Will Hamill – Although not is best game, Hamill still showed his standout speed and agility of half-back. Hamill’s speed stood out getting to contests he had no right to get to and taking the ball cleanly at speed. What stood out was some of the team things he would do, laying a block or two showed he wasn’t just all flash. He had a nice bit of play in the last quarter was when he took a trademark dash but his change in direction to hit the handball in the middle really opened up the play.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers (Matt Balmer)

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Alastair Richards – Played one of his better games in Dragons colours, winning plenty of the ball through the midfield. Richards played mostly as an ‘inside midfielder’, starting at a lot of the centre bounces and was able to win the ball and get it inside 50. One of his most impressive kicks inside 50 hit Max King lace out. His hands in close are good and he was able to spread around the ground to mark the ball. In the second quarter, his eye-catching run down the broadcast side of RAMS Arena saw him take four bounces but unfortunately his kick inside 50 was a clanger.

#6 Harry Houlahan – Is a really nice size for a rebounding defender and impressed with his good footskills. His second efforts were impressive around the ground and his best passage of play was a pinpoint pass in the third quarter close to goal. One to jot down and keep an eye on throughout the season.

#7 Liam Stocker – Stocker did not win as much of the ball as some of the other Dragons midfielders, but his clearance work was impressive. He used the ball effectively and won the contested ball as an ‘inside midfielder’. A piercing kick ‘down the guts’ was impressive in the third quarter and he showed his agility during the game. Is a very clean kick on either foot and he is happy to turn onto either his left or right foot when he takes possession.

#19 Sam Forbes – The Dragons left footed defender rebounded the ball well during the contest and hardly missed a target all day. When the Dragons got the ball into his hands in defensive 50, he was a steady head able to show off some speed at times, as well as looking short or long for a free target.

#29 Ben King – The defender impressed in the air throughout the contest, marking at ease in the defensive half of the ground. He isn’t afraid to back into the packs and mark the ball but it wasn’t just his one-on-one defending that was impressive, it was his offensive work. King at one point, took two bounces down the wing and kicked long to twin brother Max (who won a free-kick) and there were multiple occasions when he kicked the ball inside 50. He also moved forward in the last quarter, where he spent majority of his 2017 school football season for APS Premiers Haileybury, not looking out of place, finishing the day with a goal.

#31 Max King – Max King produced one of the better individual TAC Cup games in recent memory. He finished the day with eight goals and plenty of marks, starring up forward. King was no match for his Chargers opponents, with King outmarking on the lead and in the air. He had five goals to half-time and had he brought his kicking boots – there’s no doubt he would’ve hit double figures, finishing with five behinds and one out on the full. A run down tackle in the opening quarter inside 50 was impressive, while a snap on the run at the northern end of the ground was a real highlight. A truly special performance from a likely top-five draftee.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins – The tall midfielder had some good moments, but was largely utilised on the outside rather than the inside contested moments that he has shown in the past. He is a clean handballer in close and he rarely fumbled when he received the ball on the run. Had a very nice pick-up in the second quarter and majority of his kicks hit the target throughout the day.

#5 Xavier O’Neill – The flashy right footer worked hard throughout the entire game, winning plenty of the ball. What was impressive was his defensive work, where he laid plenty of tackles in an attempt to win the football back. The zippy Chargers midfielder stood out in his bright red boots and worked hard into defensive 50, whilst helping get the ball inside 50. Probably one of his better games for the Chargers.

#9 James Rowbottom – Had a nice run across half forward in the opening quarter with a shot on goal resulting in a point, but he largely won a lot of football in the midfield for the Chargers. Rowbottom’s kicking was ok – but he was a pivotal player winning the ball at the coal face in the clearances. Spreads well out of a contest.

#10 Charlie Whitehead – Booted a goal over the top in the second quarter just before half-time. Took a very strong mark in the opening quarter across half forward and had some good moments throughout the day. Got the ball inside 50 with speed, giving the Chargers talls a chance to get their hands on the football before the Dragons defenders had time to drop off their opponents.

#12 Noah Answerth – Played more forward of the ball than he has in past matches, hitting the scoreboard with a few behinds. He marked well overhead inside 50, and if he can convert his shots on goal – it might be a position worth pursuing. Nearly booted an incredible goal from 65m out.

#17 Trent Bianco – The Chargers bottom-ager was one of the better players on the ground, finishing the match strongly. His uncontested work was very good, but at times he did rush a few of his kicks. He worked hard in defensive 50 and then run hard forward when the Chargers won possession.

Northern Knights vs. Western Jets (Ed Pascoe)

Northern Knights:

#3 Braedyn Gillard – Gillard was huge for Northern helping them get the win. His work at the stoppages was enormous, winning countless clearances and working hard all over the ground to make as many contests as he could. Gillard tackled hard and attacked the football harder than anyone. Gillard also kicked a sensational snap goal which was a reward for his hard work in the midfield. Two weeks in a row Gillard has shown why he was named captain for the Northern Knights.

#4 Tom McKenzie – McKenzie had the ball on a string, where he was everywhere both inside and outside the contest. McKenzie showcased his great skill with ball in hand with plenty of good long kicks and slick handballs in traffic. McKenzie covered plenty of ground working hard to push the ball forward and deciding to play behind the ball late to give his team some composure and a cool head under pressure.  This game showcased McKenzie’s class, composure and work rate.

#7 Harrison Grace – Grace missed the first game of the year but he made a successful return to the Knights lineup kicking two goals, one coming with a fantastic front and square snap goal and the other coming from a good contested mark and set shot goal. Grace has outstanding athleticism for his size, which he showcased no better than in the last quarter, despite dropping an easy mark he recovered and then stepped around his opponent with ease.

#12 Joel Naylor – Naylor missed out on getting drafted last year, as he suffered an unfortunate injury that ruined his season but he returned this week playing as a forward and to great success. Naylor took plenty of impressive contested marks and he wasn’t afraid to go in hard and get physical with the opposition. Naylor in the third quarter had a great chase down tackle which showed he could do more than just take marks as a medium forward.

#17 Josh D’Intinosante – The talented bottom-ager once again had an impressive performance kicking three goals, the first two goals coming from pure goal awareness and last coming in the final quarter which in terms of difficulty and importance was the best of them all, kicking a long set shot goal from the boundary. D’Intinosante showed great speed and agility but what’s just as impressive is his composure and kicking inside 50.

Western Jets: 

#11 Zak Butters – The highly rated Butters had a slow start to the game but really came to light in the second half with his impressive zip and eagerness to take the game on. Butters is impressive overhead for his size which he showed on plenty of occasions taking some very nice marks, but he didn’t just admire his work he played on straight away as he did for most of the game. Butters kicked an impressive snap goal on the boundary in the third quarter showing his class.

#17 Daly Andrews – Andrews showcased his impressive speed and agility on the wing. He is a hard player to predict for the opposition because he is always moving and trying to create, although he got caught a few times it didn’t stop him from taking the game on. Andrews kicked one of the goals of the day taking a long run down the boundary taking on his opponent and then snapping truly for what was a classy and timely goal.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran – O’Halloran tried his heart out all day throwing himself into every contest and often running away with the ball in hand and driving it forward. O’Halloran was not just the driving force at winning stoppages he also put on good blocks for teammates and tackled hard. On the outside he took plenty of intercept marks showing his ability to read the play. O’Halloran was a driving force in the last quarter attacking the contest and kicking an impressive running goal.

#38 Buku Khamis – Khamis started the game well down back, he was clean in everything he did and was not afraid to take the game on. Khamis used the ball well by hand and foot, and his mindset was always to create and get the ball moving. Khamis was quieter as the game went on but he still did plenty to catch the eye.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic – Radovanovic was seriously impressive with his trademark run and dash. He is a 70m player often taking a long run and kicking long. He was instrumental in getting the ball forward throughout the contest. He was near impossible to stop when he got running with his strength and size along with his power making him a difficult target to bring down. Whenever he got the ball you just had to take notice because he was gone in a flash.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels (Cameron Ross)

Geelong Falcons:

#2 Sam Torpey – Had a really good first quarter, doing all of the one percenters and working hard in the face of constant pressure. Earned a lot of his footy through a high work rate and ability to get to every contest possible. Put the Rebels under pressure laying tackle after tackle all day. Used terrific vision to set up Sprague for a shot on goal. Did not win a heap of the ball, but what he did for his team when they were under pressure in the first half was really important.

#22 Sam Walsh – Despite earning a lot of the ball, didn’t have a huge impact in the first half. Walsh worked extremely hard in the second half to bring his side back into the game and was one of the big reasons the Falcons fought back. He class was vital in setting the example for his teammates, who struggled to move the ball effectively all day. Walsh started a handball chain on the wing, kept running and received it after three or four more handballs to slot a terrific goal in the last quarter. Could have been an ugly score line if he wasn’t on the field.

#36 Charlie Sprague – Beautiful kick of the ball who was able to put the Rebels defence under pressure with his long kicking into the forward line. Kicked the Falcons’ first after roving the stoppage and kicking on his right boot. Looked most dangerous as a high-half forward. Terrific performance in a forward line that was starved for opportunity all day.

#39 Connor Idun – Huge unit, who was outstanding after he was moved from defence up forward. Big kick of the footy, and kicked a massive goal from 50m with ease. He showed plenty in only a half up forward and he it would definitely be worth seeing him line up again there in the future.

GWV Rebels:

#2 Matt Schnerring – Hardnosed and somewhat unassuming, Schnerring’s first quarter was huge. His impact at stoppages was impressive and his ability to position himself to be in the best position for the tap is remarkable due to his size. Worked tirelessly all day, winning contested possessions and being an outside option at times. Set up Hill’s goal with a terrific handball in traffic. Consistent four quarter performer.

#3 Scott Carlin – After a 50 metre penalty went back and kicked a lovely set shot. After kicking the goal, pumped up his teammates with a huge celebration. Had a couple of terrific clearances. He is a beautiful field kick and set shot kick of the ball. Showed courage to back into the pack and take a big mark in defence. Had a nice all-round game, and worked hard all over the ground.

#5 Harris Jennings – One-two work with Carlin off half-back generated important run. Nailed a big tackle that won him a free kick. Is a really good “runner”, and his work ethic to receive the ball from Lochie Dawson and set up Kayne Councillor for an opportunity to kick his third in the final quarter (he unfortunately missed).

#7 Mitch Martin – Kicked a lovely set shot goal from 50m out on a tight angle in first quarter and also made the Falcons pay after they turned the ball over in his vicinity. Not only a great forward, but showed his ability at stoppages also. Dynamic player who is unstoppable when he gets going. Works really well with Hill in the forward line, and seem to compliment each other really well.

#9 Lochie Dawson – Best-on-ground performance. So strong, that the Falcons couldn’t bring him to ground. Such calm player, who seems to make really good decisions. Absolutely “beasted” the Falcons in the first half, and made it look like he was a man playing amongst boys. Topped off an outstanding day, with a goal through earned though hard gut running. Disposal lets him down at times, however if he can clean this up, he will be a star of the future. Dawson really needed to stand up for his side this week in the absence of Tom Berry and he did that and more.

#10 Jake Lohmann – Perfect tackler and won “holding the ball” decisions twice in the first quarter and again in the second. Tough player who is not afraid to put his head over the ball and win the hard ones. Had one of the best bits of play in the contest that could have gone unnoticed – under severe pressure on his own back flank, he took his time and didn’t lose his cool. Lohmann nailed a clean handball and worked into space, and got the handball back. Instead of turning the ball back over, Lohmann’s piece of play in not panicking was impressive. He stood up in defence in the final quarter, when it was required and took some key intercept marks and used the ball well.

#11 Josh Chatfield – Had a great game up forward. Kicked a nice goal on run from 40m, but his terrific strong hands before he kicked his second drew applause from the crowd. Nailed his opponent with a big tackle in the third and had another huge chase down tackle on back flank which locked the ball in the Rebels forward line.

#14 Jed Hill – Massive three quarters of footy, but starved for opportunity in the last quarter. Huge work rate in the first half. Would love to see his GPS figures. Earned a free kick and kicked an fantastic goal from the boundary in the first quarter. Kicked a lovely goal on the run after receiving a handball from Matt Schnerring. Displayed another piece of brilliance, scooping the ball up with one hand, and had the vision to snap the ball into space for his teammate. This creative piece of play almost paid off with a goal for his side if it were not for terrific piece of defence from Falcons. Extremely quiet last quarter, with little supply from his midfielders, that hurt his overall performance.

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