AFL Draft | Caught the Eye – Week 4

ON what was a great day for footy on Sunday, the exciting Ikon Park redevelopments were in full swing, as were the campaigns of the best and brightest Victorian Under 16 prospects. Vic Country and Metro locked horns in two trial games to help decide the final squads, which will clash to kick off this year’s AFL Under 16 National Championships on June 11.

In game one, it was certainly Vic Metro who brought the heat, leading the the first half by 50 points before running out 68-point winners – 18.10 (118) to 7.2 (50). 188cm Sandringham Dragons prospect Angus Phillips was the leading goalkicker with four first half goals, before shifting to defence were he also looked comfortable reading the play. He was swapped with fellow Dragons teammate Murphy Reid, who was superb with his dash down back and created plenty of scoring shots himself going forward.

Other players to impress throughout the game for Metro included small Eastern Ranges midfielder Luke Wilson, Sandringham midfielders Zach Travers and Sam Marshall, though the absolute standout again was Oakleigh midfielder Jagga Smith. He tore it up with two goals in the first half before moving to defence, where he was just as damaging – even hitting the scoreboard from there with a fantastic running goal on the boundary.

For Country, it was a less than ideal showing but a few players got to impress. 186cm GWV Rebels midfielder Sam Lalor was clean and composed in the midfield, and strong overhead around the ground. He was well supported in midfield by Oakleigh Charger Finn O’Sullivan, who showed plenty of class. Geelong Falcon Xavier Ivisic showed plenty with his run and class, and his fellow Falcon William Montebello booted three goals to be Country’s leading goalkicker.

Game two once again started with Metro getting the ascendancy, as an even spread of contributors around the ground saw them win 17.13 (115) to 7.11 (53).

A few club-tied names for Metro included Isaac Kako, Lucas McInerney and Levi Ashcroft. Kako showed plenty of speed and dare, although his kicking was wayward on a few occasions, and Ashcroft played a different role in the forwardline, with the 179cm midfielder a dead ringer for his older brother Will both in looks and style. Ashcroft would later move into his preferred midfield role and kick two goals in the second half.

Western Jets midfielder Lucca Grego and Eastern Ranges utility Josh Smillie were also strong performers for Metro, and Oakleigh midfielder Tom Gross kicked four goals in a new role to showcase his versatility. Gross’ speed and skill were real highlights and he will form a dangerous midfield partnership with Smith at Oakleigh in the coming years.

Country was well beaten in the midfield but Gippsland midfielder Max Stobie caught the eye with his evasive traits and clean hands. Although they only kicked seven goals as a collective, there were plenty of forwards who played well and showed some promising signs, including talented medium forwards Asher Eastham from Gippsland and James Barrat from Bendigo. Barrat kicked a team-high three goals with his last a great shot from the boundary.

Murray small forward Joe Berry was the other forward to impress, with his goal sense and creativity inside 50 both impressive. Perhaps the standout for Country though was tall utility Matt Whitlock, who started in defence and looked fantastic before moving forward in the second half. Although he didn’t kick any goals, he helped create plenty of scoring opportunities, and the 197cm prospect is looking like one of Victoria’s best tall talents.

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