Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League Boys – Round 3
ROUND 3 of the 2022 NAB League season saw talent from five states and territories showcased across eight games in a bumper four days of action. With plenty of attacking football played, there were some big individual outings. We highlight some of the top performers from each side in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.
Note: All comments are opinion of the individual author.
By: Peter Williams
#1 Flynn Loader
The lively forward kick three goals on the night and looked the most damaging Rebels forward. His first came early in the match when he kicked a great goal on the run three minutes into the contest. His hard running got him a metre out from goal and when no Falcons stood the mark when he went back for his set shot, he cheekily dribbled the goal home. A rare miss from a 40m set shot in the second term did not deter his attack on the ball, and Loader kicked his third goal eight minutes into the final term from five metres out on a tight angle.
Accumulated plenty of the ball throughout the match and did his best to try and wrestle momentum through the midfield. He had an early long kick to set up a goal to Loader, and then continued to crack in close to win the ball. He had a nice fly in the third quarter but could not quite bring it down. Another almost highlight for Ballantyne came in the fourth term when he tried to take on multiple players but was just brought down before he could get away.
#11 Charlie Molan
Worked hard across the course of the four quarters, the over-ager was neat with his ball use, switching regularly and then also kicking long down the line. As he has become known for, Molan attacks the ball and the ball carrier hard, laying some good tackles and pressure acts. He was strong midway through the third term to stand up in the tackle and get the ball away, then in the final term he laid a good tackle at half-forward, won the ball and kicked inside 50 for a consistent all-round effort. Overall he lead his side with 22 disposals.
#3 Jet Kneebone
Doing a lot of his work in close, he had a lot of handballs to teammates both inside and outside the contest, and was busy throughout to collect 22 disposals in the game, and caught the eye with a nice clearance to start the second term out of the middle going forward. He got back defensively and helped out mopping up, continually going in hard and feeding the ball out to teammates from the stoppages.
#11 Cooper Hayes
Roaming out of defence, Hayes was a rinse and repeat player in the sense that he would mop up in defence, look to take grass and kick long down the ground. Though not needing it too often, he was tasked with the kick-ins at times, and he was always looking to clear the ball from the danger zone. As a whole he generally used it pretty well, but even if he turned it over or the kick was not perfect, it was long down the ground. He even won a 50m late in the game for encroachment, got moved up the ground and kicked inside 50.
#25 Tadgh Evans
Evans kicked a game-high four goals in the match, of which three game in the opening 30 minutes. He slotted the opening goal of the game from a set shot on the lead, and made it two after getting to the front position and marking 35m out from goal at the 10-minute mark. His third came five minutes into the second term with a free kick for being held and he made no mistake with the set shot. Evans did miss perhaps the easiest attempt of the night, running into the open goalsquare trying to kick it off the deck but it cannoned into the post. He bounced back with a goal in the final term just one minute into the quarter with a snap around his body to finish with four majors form nine disposals.
#47 Euriah Hollard
A kick-first player who is always looking to break the lines, Hollard kicked two goals in a minute to come alive just before half-time. He kicked his first around his body 15m out after crumbing the ball off hands, and then at the next centre clearance laid a big tackle on an opponent to win a holding the ball free kick. After being dealt with after, he earned a 50m penalty and made no mistake with the set shot. His third came a quarter later with a clever snap around his body again. Hollard continued to apply good pressure and also look to break the game open, winning a free kick on the wing for being taken high, and he drove the ball inside 50.
#53 Olivier Northam
The star of the night, the Falcons ruck really turned it on with a massive 39 hitouts and two goals to accompany his 16 disposals. Despite that number of touches, Northam had far more influence on the match, leaping over his opponent, producing great follow-up work and even some dancing feet by sidestepping an opponent close to the line and putting it on his left effectively. He kicked two goals in the space of a minute in the third term when resting forward. He first snapped around his body at full-forward at the 18-minute mark of the quarter, then lead out and marked the next inside 50, making no mistake with the set shot. Overall. Northam was a clear best on ground for his influence through the ruck and then still having an impact with the two goals when forward.
By: Declan Reeve
Ashcroft continued on from his Round 2 performance with another strong showing, leading the game for disposals with 36 across the four quarters. Ashcroft was challenged early on with the intensity of the GWS midfield, but adjusted quickly to the pressure and started to move the ball more effectively when he won it. Ashcroft showed off some quick bursts of speed out of congestion through the game, especially out of stoppages where he’d get himself into space and deliver well forward by foot, or when winning center clearances he’d often look to release his wingers by hand after drawing in their opponent. Ashcroft also showed he can hit the scoreboard when it the right positions, getting his first from a 50 meter penalty to the goal square, with his second coming from an impressive chain of play which he started from half back, releasing the ball by hand and getting it back multiple times and capping it off with a good shot on the run from about 40 out.
The over-ager continued his hot start to the season as a deep forward, once again showing off his strong athletic base with his ability to get separation from his opponents in the forward line and presenting as a strong marking option all game. Hall-Kahan seemed to spend more time pushing up the ground than he has done in the last two rounds, getting a few of his touches between the arcs and entering 50 with good ball use and speed.
The St. Kilda NGA prospect was once again influential, particularly in the forward half of the ground, using his speed and agility to bring the ball out of congestion and use the ball well. Mackenzie’s ability to weight his disposals for the speed of his teammates was impressive, knowing when to put as much penetration on a kick as he could or whether to chip it for a teammate to run onto easily which made his disposals damaging. Mackenzie wasn’t afraid to crack in and pull the ball out of packs either, comfortably able to win it amongst numbers and work it out of traffic.
#15 Ben Hempel
Hempel just continues to grow into his role as a winger more and more each week, having switched from a back flanker last year he registered a season high disposal tally. Hempel’s penetration by foot is what catches the eye the most, generally winning the ball in space which allowed him time to compose himself before getting the ball forward. As the game went on, Hempel got more involved and began to apply himself more to the contest, showing off his ability to win it and then use it well by hand to release it to runners. Hempel also presented himself as a marking option more, capitalising on the unimpeded kick with penetrating kicks forward.
#16 Harry Sheezel
Arguably the ‘breakout’ performance we had been waiting for from the AFL Academy member, Sheezel finished the day at 4.3, showing plenty of promising signs with his constant activity in the forward 50. Sheezel showed that he has multiple avenues to goal, his first coming from an impressive front and centre where he took the ball in the air and quickly snapped for a goal, and the other 3 coming from marks where he showed off an impressive ability to get separation on the lead, and some nice one-on-one bodywork to get in front of his opponent and hold marks. Even when not having shots on goal, Sheezel managed to get himself involved as he presented for leads well up the ground, and looked to move the ball to more central teammates later in the game.
#28 Ryley Sanders
Sanders really came to life in the second half of the game when he was moved into a more prominent on-ball position, with his positioning and work around stoppages being key to how he plays. Sanders work through traffic is extremely impressive, seemingly unable to be tackled at times as he moved around opponents to get the ball out well, and at times able to stop on the spot and hit impressive kicks out of contests. He also showed off an impressive burst of speed to get out of congestion at times, able to quickly get away from opponents at the flick of a switch.
#3 Harvey Thomas
Thomas added a touch of class that no one else quite could to the GWS side through the game, as the under-ager played a key part in a few of the Giants attacking plays with well weighted kicks and clean hands to teammates. Despite standing at just 175 cm, Thomas worked hard to be a marking target for his teammates, looking to spread across the ground to mark in space and run it forward before moving it on.
#16 Harry Rowston
A hard at it midfielder, Rowston was one that was consistently in and under around packs, but still managed to display some class with his disposal. Whilst the tackling endeavour and hardball wins were impressive, Rowston’s work rate away from the ball stood out the most on the ground, constantly following opponents to ensure they didn’t get the ball in transition, and working hard to impact marking contests and stop Sandringham moving the ball forward easily.
#18 Luke Lawrence
Whilst not a ‘flashy’ player, Lawrence was the Giants best on ground with a non-stop work rate and constant presence around the ball. Lawrence just got from contest-to-contest and was continually impactful, whether it was winning the ball in close and moving it out by hand, or applying pressure on an opponent that thought they had an easy run forward, he was there. Whilst Lawrence’s ball use wasn’t always convincing, particularly by foot, he always managed to get it to the right spot even under pressure. Lawrence managed to kick an impressive early goal, as he got the ball just outside of the forward 50 mark and showed a good burst of speed to get around an opponent, quickly slotting the goal from about 45 out.
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Brandon Leary
While he may not produce the big numbers others can, Leary showed on Friday just how good he can be as a small forward. The over-ager kicked two goals for the second week running, with both coming from eye-catching moments. The first was a ridiculous finish from the elbow of the 50, on the wrong side for a right-footer, to level the scores at half time. His second major was a set shot conversion, earned via a strong contested mark in front of Northern’s hulking key defender.
#7 Will Splann
The over-age bigman made the most of his chances on a tricky day for marking players, booting a game-high four goals in Tassie’s big win. Splann stationed inside attacking 50 and read the ball well in flight, floating across to mark and kick his first goal in term two. That mark and conversion method proved his bread and butter, as Splann added another three majors in the second half – including two of the game’s final three.
#13 Seth Campbell
Campbell is such a nifty player and pops up in important moments to help inject a bit of life into Tasmania’s efforts. He started in midfield but as per usual, also managed to find the goals. The top-ager sunk two 40-plus meter set shots, with the first proving somewhat of a lifter for the Devils who trailed late in the second quarter. With the ability to wheel and go, Campbell is capable of doing some damage on the attack.
#15 Lachlan Cowan
It was business as usual for Cowan, who got to work in the back half and created some much-needed drive for Tasmania from behind the ball. He started off with the kick-in duties and at each restart, proved aggressive in his willingness to push the ball forward. He hit each contest with intent and positioned well to do so, while also becoming an intercept piece. The AFL Academy member ended up with a team-high 25 touches and added a goal in the last five minutes.
It wasn’t necessarily a day for silky outside stars to shine, but Edmends made it work on Friday. He managed to get his hands on the ball early from out on the wing, and did his best to showcase some of his top notch kicking skills with a heavy ball. The conditions saw him come unstuck in that department on a couple of occasions, but it was otherwise a solid day out for Edmends on the uptake.
#14 Cooper Harvey
The North Melbourne father-son prospect did some nice things in midfield, displaying a clean set of hands to make good use of a greasy ball which gave others trouble. Harvey also showcased his smarts and composure around the ball, able to draw contact and dispose of the ball cleanly. He go on the board with a goal late in term four as the Devils ran rampant, providing small consolation for his side.
#18 Samuel Grant
Having mostly cut his teeth as a ruck-forward over the last couple of years, Grant has reverted back to a somewhat familiar role in defence this season to good effect. The towering over-age tall positioned nicely to intercept and read the play to make full use of his size when Tasmania attacked. His distribution was neat enough for a key position prospect, and there was plenty for him to do on a day where Northern conceded 15 goals.
By: Declan Reeve
Marked as one to watch coming into the season, Humphrey continued on his red hot start to the year with 4 goals and 20 disposals in what can only be described as a complete performance. Humphrey brings a hard edge when running through the midfield, constantly seen in and under packs and winning the hard ball then moving it forward with a quick kick, or sometimes handing it out to runners. Humphrey was obviously impactful when given time up forward, showing off his strength one on one and in the air with some impressive grabs on the way to his 4 goals.
The over-ager was impressive as a first possession winner against the Swans, able to read the ball well off the rucks hands to grab it from the air and hand out well to runners quickly. Moschetti’s decision making when in the thick of the contest stood out amongst the crowd, where other players seemed happy to go for distance on their kicks under pressure, Moschetti was balanced with his disposals, generally giving off a good handball option and only kicking long as a last resort.
#9 Zane Duursma
Whilst Duursma didn’t win a heap of the footy, he managed to hurt with all his disposals and played a crucial role in the attacking half through the game. Duursma constantly flew for marks when the ball came in his area, holding some impressive ones including a speccy in the goal square, but following up superbly at ground level on the ones he didn’t hold. Duursma’s defensive work also stood out, running hard for tackles and getting rewarded with a couple of holding the ball free kicks for his efforts.
#10 Jonti Schuback
In a day where the Gippsland defenders were rarely challenged, it was Schuback’s work in offence that stood out and saw him end up one of the more influential players on field. Schuback regularly pushed up the ground to intercept or win the ball in more dangerous positions and regularly showed off his strong disposal by foot going forward, getting good penetration for his teammates. Schuback was proactive in trying to move the ball forward quickly, often looking to run past teammates for a releasing handball in space so he could use his speed to get it long. When Schuback was challenged defensively he stood up well, able to get himself out of trouble and use the ball safely when under pressure.
#22 Archer Reid
Arguably a ‘breakout’ game of sorts, Reid registered three goals for the game but assisted many others as his aerial game proved too much for the Swans Academy to match through the game. Reid just lead hard all game, pushing up out of the 50 at times to act as a link up target, following up with good use by foot to give his teammates opportunities on goal. What’s most remarkable about Reid is his ability at ground level for a 201 cm prospect, it was rare that Archer couldn’t hold onto the ball in the air, but the few times he couldn’t he beat opponents at ground level to move the ball on, even getting his second goal from spoiling a marking attempt, following up on the ground and dribbling from the boundary line.
#10 Indhi Kirk
The father-son prospect had a strong display spending most of his game time on the wing, positioning well throughout to be in a good position for a releasing handball, or even at times taking intercept marks outside of the forward 50 to send the ball right back in. Kirk’s ball use was a standout on the day, clean both by foot and hand even under pressure, and very rarely not weighting the ball perfectly for his teammates. Despite looking most comfortable in an outside role, it was promising to see that Kirk was willing to go into the contest in an attempt to the win the ball when it was his time to.
#32 Caiden Cleary
One to watch for the 2023 draft, Cleary was the Swans main stoppage player through the game as he regularly attacked the contest at speed and beat more mature opponents in attempts to win a hard ball. It was Cleary’s speed that caught the eye the most, managing to win the ball in tight and then burst away into space to get the Swans moving quickly. Cleary’s hands in close were impressive, often one to find a teammate in space even when surrounded by opponents himself.
By: Max Hughes
Deployed as a half-forward this week, Foley showed some promising glimpses from his 15 disposals. His hands were clean and he attacked the ball well throughout the contest, with his eye-catching pace on display multiple times. What was also pleasing was Foley’s willingness to tackle and harass playing the high half-forward role. Whilst some forgo the defensive side of the game in this position, he put on fantastic pressure all day and was ultimately one of Calder’s better players. A handy goal rounded out his encouraging performance, as he showed his versatility and natural ability throughout.
#8 Rye Penny
Penny wasn’t quite as influential as he has been in the opening two weeks, but the powerfully built athlete still had some nice moments for the Cannons. Playing in defence again, Penny started the game strongly, taking a number of big intercept marks and using the ball really well by foot. His booming switches were a highlight, where he would turn a nice grab into a 50-metre cross-ground pass to open up the Jet’s defensive zone. He was played as the spare during much of the second half but wasn’t able to exert his influence in the way Calder envisaged, as he faded out of the contest a touch despite being the loose man on numerous occasions. Penny must back himself to not only take marks but to run and carry out of defence, particularly if Calder look to play him as a spare more frequently in the future. Regardless, it was another strong showing for Penny, littered with moments of sublime athleticism and aerial judgement that will continue to interest recruiters.
#13 Michael Ktona
Ktona had a really strong game from start to finish, showcasing his clean hands and beautiful kicking. Only standing and 176cm, Ktona makes up for his lack of size with strength and brilliant skills, none more so impressive than his punchy kicks. Several times he broke free from stoppages and nailed a teammate on the chess with a bullet pass, whilst also using it well as part of a running chain of possession. He kicks the ball hard, and on a windy day where many struggled, Ktona was a standout, particularly against the breeze. Plenty to like about his performance even though we were left to rue what could have been considering he finished with 0.3.
#16 Joey Dimasi
A genuine ‘effort’ footballer, Dimasi worked tirelessly all day to finish as one of Calder’s best midfielders. Whilst his disposal is often untidy, Dimasi is courageous, putting his head over the ball time and time again and pushing himself to the limit with his gut running. His immense work rate saw him finish with a goal and 25 disposals, a great return for the big-bodied on-baller. His athletic profile is solid, standing at 187cm and possessing both speed and endurance. Clearly, the question mark is over the quality of his ball use, but if Dimasi can continue to play games at this sort of level, sheer consistency alone will bring him into the calculations of recruiters.
#6 Matthew Payne
The nippy livewire electrified the Jet’s forward line on several occasions, showing some serious pace as well as a good goal sense. Payne plays like a quintessential small forward; he is fast, energetic, and applies great pressure. His goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter was by far the best of the day, a running snap where he burned off two Cannons defenders before a lovely fake resulted in a simple goal from 15 metres out. That kind of exciting play is what Payne brings to the table, and he showed flashes throughout the contest from his nine disposals and 2.2. Had he kicked a little straighter his day may have been even better, but nonetheless there were plenty of encouraging signs from the Jet’s small.
#25 Adam Azzopardi
Azzopardi accumulated quietly as the day wore on, with his influence becoming more noticeable as the contest entered its later stages. An unassuming type, Azzopardi simply finds the football and works hard around the ground, getting to likely spots and providing an option constantly. His effort was noticeable, as Azzopardi often pushed hard into space, breaking away from his opponent and getting in on the middle of the chain. His kicking is neat and reliable, as he rarely misses targets yet also doesn’t overestimate his own capacity. He is a polished, professional footballer, who just keeps working until he gets used, a trait that is rare even in the NAB League competition. Azzopardi had a really strong performance and would be looking to continue to build on his promising start to this season.
The Jet’s skipper continued his fantastic start to the season with a best afield performance. Playing primarily off half-back, D’Ambrosio did as he pleased on his way to 31 disposals. His kicking and decision making was a cut above any other player on the ground, with the perfect blend of penetration and accuracy highlighting why he is so highly touted. D’Ambrosio attacked the ball gracefully, plucking it from traffic and weaving his way through. Clearly a classy footballer, he was able to set up the Jets with his pinpoint passes and used his run and carry to great effect. His kick to handball ratio (22 kicks, seven handballs) is no doubt something that his coaches would encourage, particularly given his placement on a half back flank. He is licensed to kick and kick aggressively, which was something that paid off consistently for his side. This was a brilliant, rounded performance, and is another notch in the belt for a player who is winning himself some fans during the opening rounds of this season.
#45 Jovan Petric
The 196cm key forward had seven scoring shots from his 10 disposals, highlighting the threat that he posed throughout Saturday’s contest. Despite finishing with 4.3, which would have been slightly disappointing accuracy-wise, Petric just seemed to pop up in all the right spots. He wasn’t exactly a dominant force, but he did take a multitude of great forward 50 marks, as well as creating a few opportunistic goals out of nowhere. Petric was the standout forward on the ground, and most of his goals came at big moments in the game, where momentum was swinging slightly in Calder’s favour. As good of a game as you can ask for from a developing key forward, and it has likely earmarked him as one to watch from this point on.
By: Michael Alvaro
On a day where his side ended up with 21.21 on the board, Hart’s effort of 6.1 proved good going. The 200cm over-ager proved far too big, strong and mobile for his opponents, taking full toll in easily his most impactful game of the season. Hart clunked 10 marks and found separation on the lead time and time again, before converting his chances with five majors in the first half alone.
George is an electric player whose creativity boded well for Murray’s dominance forward of centre. Not only did the AFL Academy member get on the board himself with three third-term goals, but he brought others into the play with his array of smarts and skills. The top-ager was constantly able to hit targets after presenting to the arc or finding space around goal, making a menace of himself as per usual.
#3 Toby Murray
Murray’s second dominant bigman up forward, the 200cm ruck-forward imposed himself on the contest from the offset with a snap goal in the first 10 minutes. His presentation on the lead was great and in a forwardline which helped produce a massive score, Murray snared three goals from five scoring shots. Much like Hart, he was too big and strong for his Northern Territory counterparts, especially with the wealth of delivery which headed his way.
#21 Ryan Eyers
While many of the highlights came at the opposite end of the ground, Eyers, continued to impress in his starting defensive post. The lean 198cm over-ager competes well at ground level and in general play for a prospect of his size, making him more than just an aerial contributor. He notched up a season-best 22 disposals and 10 marks across the day, looking relatively sound once again for the Bushies.
#28 Noah Bradshaw
Another returning player for Murray, Bradshaw has put together a solid fortnight and notched season-high numbers of 25 disposals, seven marks and 1.2. The Brisbane Lions father-son candidate is a solid body on the inside and loves to compete, but has begun collecting more outside ball and using it well away from the contest. His punchy kicks and clean hands were on show, as he continues to built into his over-age season.
#22 Lloyd Johnston
The Northern Territory defence had plenty to do on Saturday, and Johnston was tasked with sweeping up plenty of Murray attacks down back. The top-ager also took on kick-in duties and much of his method came in the way of kicks, having 14 among his 19 overall disposals. Also among Johnston’s haul were six marks and five rebound 50s, as the stylish mover helped move the Thunder into transition as best he could.
#23 Antonio James
James is a highly talented prospect who has already tasted senior footy in the NT, but also cracked the grades at SANFL level with West Adelaide, and played well in the South Australian college competition. Stationed in midfield for the Thunder, the 19th-year talent got his hands on the ball straight away with a spin at the opening centre bounce, and was able to showcase glimpses of his potential in a 15-disposal outing – which also included seven rebound 50s.
By: Ed Pascoe
#1 Kai Windsor
A much quieter game compared to last week for the speedy midfielder it wasn’t the most ideal first half for Windsor who ran hard and didn’t let up but just didn’t go right highlighted by a great run but was caught by Davey in the second quarter. Windsor would have a much better second half getting a nice chase down tackle of his own on the speedy Elijah Tsatas in the last quarter and a nice kick to lower the eyes later in the quarter to set up a goal as he could have easily blasted away at goal himself. Windsor finished the game with 13 disposals and will look to improve his production in his next outing.
#5 Nick Watson
The ever dangerous Watson proved a handful in the first half always commanding a defender to stick tight to him paired often with Josh Weddle and although Watson did not kick any goals this time around he still showed the tricks that have him spoken as a top pick for 2023. Some great passages of play included a smooth left handed gather inside 50 and snap at goal and although he missed the swiftness and clean hands he showed was special, Watson missed the second half due to injury and only finished with seven disposals and two behinds but still managed to show why he is such a highly regarded prospect for 2023.
#18 Lewis Hayes
The 197cm key defender Lewis Hayes has been a steady player all year for Eastern averaging an impressive 20 disposals and although he will take a few kickouts here and there his intercept work and cool head down back where impressive against Oakleigh. Hayes started the game well with a strong intercept mark and another nice bit of play riding a tackle and showing great composure to also execute a nice long handball and despite one poor kick out his disposal by hand and foot was assured. It was a solid game for Hayes finishing with 18 disposals, four marks and four rebound 50s.
#60 Tyreece Leiu
Unlucky not to be drafted last year the strong utility Tyreece Lieu showed why he could still find an AFL home with a great showing against Oakleigh starting the game down back looking solid as ever with some strong marks and good attack and composure. In order for Eastern to try and fight back in the second half Leiu was sent forward to good effect kicking two goals with his best coming from an impressive contested mark in the last quarter, Leiu also spent some time in the midfield further showing his impressive versatility which would surely attract the attention of AFL clubs as he finished the game with 18 disposals, six marks and two goals.
Pick 1 contender Elijah Tsatas was everywhere and a consistent four-quarter player, he started the game on the wing pushing forward to create scoring opportunities but was then moved into the centre where his strong stoppage work came to the fold forming a good partnership with ruckman Hudson O’Keefe. Although Tsatas can be a bit greedy in demanding the ball when he shouldn’t and happy enough to attack at most opportunities a nice intercept mark down back in the third quarter showed he could use his attributes to also get back and help his teammates in defence and his 12 marks for the game showed his workrate. With 42 disposals, 11 inside 50s and three rebound 50s it was a very complete performance from the in-from midfielder in the NAB League competition.
It could have been a huge day for the highly rated key forward who kicked seven behinds (only six credited) for the day with each shot narrowly missing mostly to the left hand side showing his set shot action might need some tweaking but what doesn’t need tweaking is his marking ability which was exceptional. Jefferson was hard to stop not just in the lead but also in contested marking situations and despite his lighter frame was able to stay strong in the air to hold his marks. Jefferson finished the game with nine disposals and eight marks and he looks on the verge of tearing a game apart once his set shots start to hit their mark.
Returning to the team after illness struck last week Wardlaw started the game in good fashion with his clearance work coming to the fold but of course it was not just his ability with the ball but without it that stood out with a great tackle in the first quarter rewarded. As the game went on Wardlaw spent more time forward showing another string to his bow, his best bit of play came in the second quarter on the boundary somehow able to handpass to a teammate over his head while on his knees. Wardlaw’s only goal came in the last quarter after he took a brave mark not knowing what was behind him and then slotting the set shot, Wardlaw finished the game with 14 disposals, five tackles and one goal.
A lot has been said about the Oakleigh midfield and how strong they have looked but every Oakleigh midfielder would be thanking O’Keefe for his silver service which was highlighted in the second quarter with a sensational left handed tap to Elijah Tsatas at a centre bounce showing rare ruckcraft for a player his age. Although it was his only mark a strong intercept mark in the third quarter was another highlight, O’Keefe finished with eight disposals and 14 hitouts which seems lower than it should be thus was his dominance there and O’Keefe should only get better as the year goes on and looks a great long term prospect who will still be 17 when the draft takes place in November.
The talented father-son prospect has been impressive playing in the midfield in the first three rounds and against Eastern it was his most productive game to date finishing with 19 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal which was the opening goal of the game coming from a nice snap. Davey was his usual self with ball in hand showing great composure and skill but it was what he did without the ball that caught the eye in the 2nd quarter with a huge chase down tackle on the speedy Kai Windsor showing shades of his father.
#43 Josh Weddle
Coming from the clouds this year, Weddle has been a solid player each week for Oakleigh and he did it again against Eastern first starting on the dangerous Nick Watson down back and then moving to the wing once Watson left the ground due to injury. Weddle looked great in both roles not afraid to run off Watson to make him accountable and then playing a perfect wingman role working hard both ways and using the ball well by hand and foot. The 192cm prospect had 16 disposals and continues to be a consistent performer for Oakleigh who will soon head to APS duties with Carey Grammar.
By: Liam Badkin
Led the Pioneers in the disposal count, Kiraly fought tooth and nail for all four quarters and was certainly one of his side’s best. He used his speed and smarts to put pressure on the opposition around the play, while finding plenty of the ball himself. First popping up by cutting off a risky Stingrays kick inside their defensive-50, Kiraly injected himself into the game offensively by finding plenty of the ball with a 27-disposal effort, and his day could have been bigger had his two shots on goal sailed through.
Could have had a massive day had it not been for a nasty case of inaccuracy. Didn’t register a major but came extremely close on a number of occasions, finishing with three behinds. Gilbee got involved in other ways, finding the ball 26 times and pulled down nine marks. It looked as if he was going to tear the game apart early on, peppering the goals and popping up everywhere ahead of the ball, and while wayward kicking prevented a monster day, his impact was still felt.
#17 Oscar Faulkhead
Had the first touch of the day thanks to his strength over the ball at the stoppage. On a day where the opposition had the upper hand in the midfield for much of the contest, Faulkhead was a shining light in the guts for the Pioneers. He found plenty of the ball, and often had to go get it himself with his willingness to hunt and hunger for possession. Faulkhead also was one of the main generators of scores for Bendigo, sending the ball inside-50 five times to go with 23 disposals.
Found plenty of the ball with a game-high 32 touches, with the gut-running midfielder working hard from contest to contest to retain possession for his side. Szybkowski popped up everywhere, whether it was deep in defence to create an outnumber or up forward to boot a major cruising through at a stoppage. The opposition could not keep up with him, and whenever they had the ball, he made life difficult with an impressive eight tackles on the day. He was certainly a standout as the Stingrays broke away and claimed the win.
#4 Jaxon Binns
Started his day with an intercept mark at half-back, positioning himself well and preparing for the rushed kick forward by the opposition. It was a similar story for the remainder of the game, as Binns pulled down 10 marks thanks to some excellent work in placing himself in a dangerous position. He hit the scoreboard with a major, and like many in the matchup, could have had a few more if not for a few misses in front of goal. Was outstanding by foot and finished with 27 touches on the day.
#16 Henry Hustwaite
Continuing on from a solid performance last week, Hustwaite remained a pilar of consistency in the back half for the Stingrays. Opting to go by hand as his preferred method of disposal on the day (20 handballs, seven kicks), Hustwaite was often the outlet inside the contest, releasing his teammates into an ideal position. He kept a close eye on his direct opponent at all times, and his pressure on the ball carrier may not have registered as a statistic, it was invaluable in preventing the ball movement of Bendigo.