Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League – Round 8

WITH AFL Academy stars returning to the fold and usual programming resuming, Round 8 of the 2022 NAB League saw a bunch of fresh and familiar faces put up impressive displays. Across the six games, we highlighted some of the top performers in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.

All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

  • Team
  • Dandenong Stingrays
  • Sandringham Dragons

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays;

#6 Taj Campbell-Farrell

A picture of consistency throughout the season to date, Campbell-Farrell stood up in a game where others struggled to find consistency across the four quarters. Registering a game high 40 disposals, Campbell-Farrell was everywhere all game and continued to apply himself to the contest in a clinical and aggressive manner, seeing him rarely come out second best. Whilst he struggled with skill execution in the slippery conditions like many others, Campbell-Farrell was mostly clean at ground level which saw him as the difference early on. Showing off some versatility, Campbell-Farrell even competed in, and won some ruck contests in the forward 50.

#13 Finn Emile-Brennan

Finn has been quite the breakout player this season and continued to show why in greasy conditions. Despite an early kick not working out for him, Emile-Brennan continued to use the footy aggressively, looking to move the ball centrally at every opportunity and hitting some wonderful kicks through congestion. When the pressure of the game began to rise, Emile-Brennan added some much needed composure to the Stingrays game and ball movement, slowing the game down by looking to take safe options from the backline. He snuck forward in the second quarter, earning a shot on goal and converting from roughly 45 out.

#16 Henry Hustwaite

Plying his trade largely in the defensive 50 for this season, Hustwaite played almost entirely through the centre, attending a large amount of centre clearances through the game. Hustwaite was the prime stoppage winner from the centre early days, positioning superbly and timing his runs well to win first possession, he really caught the eye with his composure under pressure, always finding the best option by hand and releasing his runners well. Hustwaite was clean by foot all day, even hitting the scoreboard after receiving a 50 meter penalty from the centre.

#34 Jesse Davidson-Lopo

The lively small was on debut for the Stingrays and made an instant impact in the forward line, providing a contest every time the ball entered and earning free kicks from getting to the ball first. Davidson Lopo showed really natural forward craft with his reading of the ball off hands and crumbing work, with his few leads also showing a good knack for getting separation. He ended the day with three goals but could’ve had a few more had it not been for some wayward kicking through the game.

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Charlie Clarke

Despite the Sandringham forward line being quiet early on, Clarke found ways to get in to the game by working up the ground and acting as a target from the defensive 50, being used quite often as he was left unmanned. Clarke’s speed was his biggest trait, as he ran the ball forward and got teammates involved with handballs, running hard to get the ball back in the same chain and continue driving forward with speed. Whilst he had a few goal scoring opportunities, like many of his teammates it just wasn’t his day for converting, although he did end up kicking a goal, playing on from a chest mark and snapping well.

#3 Will Ashcroft

Whilst Ashcroft still managed 27 disposals through the game, his usual impact wasn’t felt as Dandenong managed to pressure the contests heavily. Despite this Ashcroft stood out as one of the best users by hand from both sides, and maintained his consistency in playing a part in the same chain of play multiple times.

#5 Lachlan Benton

A workhorse for Sandringham all game, Benton worked hard up and down the ground and provided as a consistent inside ball winner through the midfield. Classically clean with his hands around the ground, Benton just found good options whenever he won the ball, looking for options forward of him to release teammates into space and open up the ground heading forward.

#29 Max Ramsden

Likely playing his final game for the Dragons, Ramsden showed off some of his versatility by playing the first half at full forward, getting himself two goals and showing off some solid contested marking when in one-on-ones. Given how the ruck battle was going in the first half, Ramsden was thrown back into his natural position and provided his midfielders with some clean hitouts despite the conditions.

  • Team
  • GWV Rebels
  • Western Jets

By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Hamish Sinnott

The silky outside runner was able to move well around the ground and win his fair share of the ball again. His kicking technique is pure and accurate, and he had plenty of clean touches across the four quarters. He kicked one ball off the deck in midair and hit a target such was his luck. In third term he tried to sell some candy to an opponent but his opponent did not fall for it so had to handball off cleanly. Earlier in the game he successfully sold the dummy to an opponent and then was able to hit a target under pressure. He remained involved throughout the game and set up Beau Tedcastle for a goal.

#5 Aaron Cadman

The key forward had a sensational game and was among the best players on the ground with his kicking – which has been up and down this year – on point. He took a number of strong marks, kicking his first major 20 minutes into the game off a step from the behind post to curl it in. He almost had a second minutes later but as it bounced towards the goal it was rushed across. He pushed up the ground to present and be a target, then slotted his second and third goals in the second quarters, with one from a set shot on a tight angle and then a second off a step around his body brilliantly. He competed defensively as well, and then kicked his fifth after a strong grab, launching a major from 50m. He even moved into the ruck for a spell. Overall a really impressive outing.

#9 Felix Fogaty

Pairing well with Cadman inside 50 and then rotating through the ruck, Fogaty provided a presence and target up forward. He competed well and was able to lead into space to pull down some good marks, kicking his first leading out 35m and nailing the set shot. His second came in the third term when he ran into the right place at the right time, marked 15m out and dribbled it home.He kicked his third late in the game with a strong mark 40m out then nailed it from a perfectly timed set shot. His one blemish on goal came from spraying a snap 20m out after he could have made it four.

#10 Thomas Baulch

The over-age utility played in defence and was quite eye-catching with his intercept marking and positioning in the back half. He was able to stop a number of Western Jets forward forays, with a nice play coming at the 10-minute mark of the first term, where he intercepted in the defensive goalsquare, hit the short kick, ran on to receive the handball, then kicked long to the wing to gain 80m in the play. At times he put himself under pressure at ground level, but his aerial ability – which included a well-timed spoil and a number of strong marks – was what really stood out.

#23 James Van Es

A really strong game from the key defender who was strong in the back half, with reliable positioning each time. Though at times he was a little fumbly below his knees, he was a rock in the air. He took a good intercept mark between two opponents and had the composure to sidestep between them and kick to the top of the defensive 50. He was mopping up everything in the last term as he really stepped it up, though had been one of the Rebels best all game. Very composed by hand, Van Es reads the flight so well and was a real headache for the Western attack. His kicking was not always consistent, but his incredible work behind the ball made him invaluable to the cause.

Western Jets:

#13 Jaelen Pavlidis

The over-age prospect put together another consistent game through the midfield, winning the ball across all four quarters and balancing between offensive and defensive traits. Possessing a pretty neat short, sharp kick, he was able to hit up teammates in the forward half of the ground. He had a great run down tackle at one stage when his opponent was about to have a shot on goal. He went for a high fly in the first term but just misjudged the leap, though overall caught the eye with various moves out of the stoppage and extracting it consistently.

#17 Jake Whybrow

Possessing a quick first few steps to be able to burst away from a stoppage and kick the ball quickly, Whybrow covered the ground well and was able to accumulate it consistently. He was often winning the ball between the arcs and firing off quick handballs, with cleanliness. He did hit up Jovan Petric for a goal in the fourth term, and continued to get involved. An area of improvement would be being cleaner at ground level, but his desperation to win each contest was noticeable.

#27 Jhett Gaskett

Had some big terms in the first and third particularly, Gaskett was able to provide some eye-catching run out of defence, and hitting targets with lovely weighted passes. Though he occasionally turned the ball over, he went for the high-risk, high-reward kicks, and when they paid off it was something to behold. He also showed some great vision and was able to always look to impact the game by foot and open up the corridor when possible.

  • Team
  • Tasmania Devils
  • Eastern Ranges

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Brandon Leary

The eventual hero of the day for Tasmania, Leary’s goal with the last kick of the day dramatically secured the Devils’ come-from-behind win. Stationed in his usual forward post, the over-ager still showed signs of rawness with his decision making and disposal, but could hardly be faulted for effort when the game was on the line. He ended up with a game-high three goals (and three behinds), but also offered Tasmania plenty in the way of defensive pressure to add a frantic pace to the action. While unrewarded for large chunks of the contest, his game-winning snap will live long in the memory.

#2 Jack Callinan

In tandem with Leary, Callinan was Tasmania’s other crafty small who injected a deal of intensity and speed to the game. Luckily for him, it was played in large parts within the Devils’ attacking half, meaning there was plenty of opportunity to get involved. The bottom-ager made a menace of himself hitting up to half-forward and getting busy at ground level, while importantly finding the big sticks twice – in the second and fourth quarters.

#13 Seth Campbell

Campbell’s smarts continue to come to the fore at NAB League level, and he looked a threat inside 50 whenever the ball entered his area. The top-ager often had his opponents on toast when one-out, using his evasive skills to craft a shot on goal. Unfortunately, that finishing touch lacked for Campbell on Saturday with four behinds, though his decision making and execution going inside 50 was a touch more refined.

#15 Lachlan Cowan

Returning from AFL Academy duties, Cowan got right back into the swing of things as Tasmania’s main distributor from defence. The Devils skipper loves to attack from the back, and did so with his typical run and booming kick. He was absolutely on the hunt for a goal too, streaming by for several hand-offs from long range but not quite managing to launch any of them through the big sticks. Cowan seemed to be involved in everything at times and when his intercept and rebound game were flowing, he proved difficult to stop. He even sought to lower his eyes on occasion, but was also caught in possession when trying to do too much – including in the passage which saw Eastern sneak back ahead with 90 seconds left.

#27 Colby McKercher

McKercker has been in excellent form of late as arguably Tasmania’s most potent midfielder, and he continued that trend with another promising shift on Saturday. The bottom-ager began to get going in the second term, using his speed to carry the ball forward and hitting the scoreboard via a set shot. He proved clever in tight spots and evasive enough to work his way out, before making good decisions by foot to add polish to Tasmania’s frequent forward forays.

#33 Liam Jones

Though he has been a consistent figure throughout the season, this was potentially Jones’ best performance thus far. Based in midfield, the top-ager made an impact early with a couple of well-hit kicks inside 50 which lead to scores. His delivery and decision making from the arc were exceptional, as Jones bided his time and picked out the right pass to his forwards time after time. He also accumulated with his work rate around the ground and was solid at the coalface, ending up as one of the most prominent performers afield across four quarters.

Eastern Ranges:

#2 Lachlan Reidy

Reidy was just about Eastern’s best on the day, leaning on his running capacity to work deep into both halves and rack up a good amount of ball in space. Notching his highest disposal haul for the season (20), the winger popped up consistently to mop up loose balls and add numbers to the contest. Reidy was generally tidy with his ball use too, using a kick-first approach to string together short possessions.

#11 Connor Smith

A lively small, Smith looked to trouble the Tasmanian defence with his speed and step. The top-ager brought great energy to the contest early on, assisting a goal and almost notching one himself from a 50-metre penalty. Smith eventually got on the board with a crumb and snap in the second term and was another who looked productive as he rotated through the midfield and forward line.

#13 Callum Verrell

A solid type of operator from defence, Verrell was a composed figure for Eastern and looked to generate a bit of rebound with ball in hand. He comfortably carried the ball his measure and positioned well across a high line to ensure Eastern could lock the ball into its attacking half before the dam wall broke. Verrell even snuck forward for a goal in term three, converting a long set shot to add to his work behind the play.

#18 Lewis Hayes

Again taking on the role of distributor for Eastern, Hayes topped his side’s disposal count for a second week running and notched seven rebound 50s among his 23 touches. The rangy tall talent took on some of the kick-in duties, which padded those stats a touch, and proved clean by hand when the ball hit the deck inside defensive 50. For a prospect of his 197cm stature, he plays a lot smaller.

#42 Brayden La Planche

There’s plenty to like about La Planche, who backed up a promising debut last week with seven marks and a goal on Saturday. The bottom-ager presented up the ground with authority, constantly getting separation and getting on his bike straight away to move Eastern inside 50. His hands were vice-like and he was not afraid to crash packs when required. With his ability to land like a cat and wheel away, La Planche looked dynamic and kicked a goal that way in the first quarter, before scuppering a couple of later chances.

  • Team
  • Geelong Falcons
  • Oakleigh Chargers

By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong Falcons:

#5 Jhye Clark

Clark produced one of the best opening terms you could ever hope to, collecting just about half of his 28 disposals across a dominant 25 minutes. The Falcons skipper set the tone in relentless fashion, working hard around the ground and proving unmatched in his desire to win the ball. He kept his disposal relatively simple, but picked out a particularly elite pass going inside 50 on his left foot in term one, with that dual-sidedness proving incredibly useful. Clark went on to spend a good amount of time up forward, and was much more prominent with his contested work after half time, driving low to win ground balls and lay punishing tackles. As far as complete midfielders go, Clark is right up there with the best of them.

#9 Ted Clohesy

Returning for his first game since Round 2, Clohesy finished as Geelong’s second highest possession winner as he was thrust right back into the thick of midfield. He was typically clean at the contest and looked best on the inside, with many of his disposals being clearing kicks. Despite having his right knee heavily strapped, Clohesy was not afraid to crack in and clunked a big defensive 50 pack mark from front position to effectively seal the game for Geelong.

#28 Oscar Murdoch

Though his output may be deceiving on paper, Murdoch has been really solid for Geelong this season as an intercept marker in defence. The 189cm top-ager was super clean with his aerial work, clunking a quartet of clean marks – including a couple of pack efforts. His positioning to do so was sound, but Murdoch also played an important defensive role one-on-one to help nullify the dynamic Jerome Lawrence.

#53 Olivier Northam

In an important ruck battle, the likely Vic Country starter came up against Vic Metro’s prime candidate in Hudson O’Keeffe, and was able to showcase his leap as the smaller tall – at 195cm. His follow-up work was a handy point of difference, with Northam not only able to lay tackles and lock the ball up, but also dish out disposals of his own at stoppage. His competitiveness shone through in those instances, and while he only took three marks for the day, Northam linked well with his fellow Falcons engine room operators.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#9 Luke Teal

Spending most of his time up on the wing, the AFL Academy member was a solid contributor without being outstanding. Coming off a bout of appendicitis, Teal has taken some time to build into his usual work but continues to show glimpses as a prototypical footballer. He showed great commitment both in the air and at ground level, and eventually got his skills going with plenty of short passes among his 15 disposals. With the game on the line, Oakleigh even looked to utilise Teal’s competitiveness at the centre bounces, but could not quite come away with the win.

#17 Braden Andrews

From a current AFL Academy member to one from last year, Andrews again had little trouble getting his hands on the ball as one of Oakleigh’s prime movers. He is generally neat in possession, without being overly expansive, but lifted that area of his game in the second half with terrific distributive work coming away from the contest. Much like last week, the over-ager lifted when required and took ahold of the midfield battle with his size and clean hands.

#18 Jed Rule

Rule is a player who knows his role and continues to perform each week, producing strong numbers from the last line of defence. The over-ager racked up another 22 disposals, 10 marks and five rebound 50s, with his reading of the play complimenting the usually sound distributive skills he offers. Rule sometimes bit off a little too much with his kicks, but mixed them up short and long and looked to chain possessions in transition, playing a touch below his 197cm height. His two intercept marks in the third term were particularly pure.

#29 Jerome Lawence

The mobile 19th-year prospect is one who just looks developable, and continues to show promise each week. He was again stationed up forward and even got a go in the ruck, but provided more of the dynamism he has been lauded for at 196cm. Lawrence had some stiff opposition to contend with, though that did not prevent him from making his mark in the third term with back-to-back goals. In those instances, he held his grabs much better and converted the straightforward chances.

#44 Kynan Brown

In just his second NAB League outing, the bottom-aged Melbourne father-son candidate topped his side’s disposal chart with 25, including four scoring shots. After a steady start, he began to come to prominence with in-and-under work at the contest, producing second and third efforts aplenty to help will the ball out. He also provided a good deal of drive in the second half, bursting forward and kicking a clutch goal to draw level in the final quarter. That touch of polish is something Brown can refine going forward, though his effort was evident.

  • Team
  • Bendigo Pioneers
  • Calder Cannons

By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo Pioneers:

#4 Harley Reid

The bottom-ager was again a prolific and polished member of Bendigo’s midfield-forward rotation, proving as clean as anyone afield with his work around the contest. When utilised on-ball, he worked hard to sweep back and create a bit of drive, but also jetted forward in the final quarter to notch a richly deserved goal. Reid’s explosive speed and pure power were evident when breaking away from stoppages, and the exciting prospect looked to be creative by foot without a whole lot coming off. Despite that, he looked as damaging as any other Pioneer.

#14 Corbin Anderson

Playing his first game since Round 3, Anderson got right back into the swing of things with a game-high 28 disposals. He started down back as the designated kicker for Bendigo, before shifting into midfield and continuing to get his hands on the ball. The top-ager generally looked to go short and safe with his kicks, hitting the right options – albeit with a couple of hairy moments. Overall though, it was a positive return from Anderson.

#32 Malik Gordan

A brute of a bottom-ager with serious power, Gordan had some impressive moments among his 17 disposals, seven marks and three goals. The 189cm forward is an explosive type, which not only helped him create separation on the lead, but also made for some terrific aerial efforts. Gordan finished in style on Sunday, booting two of his three goals in the final term – one coming from a huge grab inside attacking 50.

Calder Cannons:

#6 Carlos Egan

The livewire small was one who constantly looked to bustle his way forward, generating eight inside 50 entries among his 17 disposals. At 167cm, there isn’t much of him, but Egan found ways to get to space and weave his way through traffic when attacking. He ended up with a goal in the final quarter, earning a free kick just within the arc before slotting home the resultant set shot.

#7 Reuben Rode

Much like Egan, Rode is a productive small who works best when on the move. He played his usual role off half-back and linked Calder forward with repeat possessions, proving most effective in the short-range and looking to be crafty with each touch. Among his best contributions was one of his first, a one-on-one intercept mark on the wing which then saw him get his usual running game going.

#24 Declan Willmore

Having produced somewhat of a breakout performance last week, Willmore backed up his form with another solid outing. This time, he featured up on the wing and looked a dynamic unit at 189cm – able to impact aerially and over the ground. The top-ager has great range, and while he can certainly look to improve his ground level game, produced a scintillating bit of play off a loose ball in the third quarter. Collecting the bobbling bounce, Willmore shrugged off one opponent and blind-turned another, giving an insight into his potential and dexterity.

#27 Paul Pascu

Easily the best player afield in the first half, Pascu dominated the midfield battle with his ability to hit the ball in motion and surge it forward in powerful bursts. The Cannons standout seemed to always be at the fall of the stoppage ball, collecting it on his way out and leaving many an opponent in his wake. Happy to use both feet when kicking, he hit some terrific passes but also scuppered others, though a classy goal on the run in term two showed what he is capable of.

  • Team
  • Murray Bushrangers
  • Gippsland Power

By: Declan Reeve

Murray Bushrangers:

#4 Darcy Wilson

One of quite a few bottom agers to take to the field, Wilson was a real playmaker for Murray heading forward. Utilising his speed and agility, Wilson lead well all game and took the game on with ball in hand, beating most opponents when running for a loose ball. He also used the ball well through the contest, with some neat kicks to leading forwards and a focus on moving the ball centrally highlighting that best.

#14 Joeve Cooper

Another bottom-aged forward, Cooper was deployed in a role that kept him closer to goal, and with his scoreboard impact through the day it wasn’t hard to understand why. Cooper ended the day with three goals despite the strength of the Gippsland defence through the game, showing off some really solid forward craft with his leading patterns, ability to get separation and ability to crumb at speed. As the game went on Cooper’s teammates looked to him more and more when entering inside 50, and even when he didn’t hold marks he impressed with his follow up work at ground level.

#17 Caleb Mitchell

Playing a large chunk of his game on the wing, you’d be forgiven for thinking there were three Caleb Mitchell’s on the ground with how often he popped up down back or up forward. Mitchell was just a workhorse through the game and constantly provided for Murray as an outside option. Whilst his disposal wasn’t always the cleanest, Mitchell did well to ensure Murray got moving forward quickly with every touch, looking to get over the opposition defence with his kicking.

#28 Noah Bradshaw

The over-ager continued his stellar season with another great performance despite the loss, imposing himself on the contest with his inside grunt work and classy use of the ball. Bradshaw just seemed to spot the best option every time, with his kicking opening up the game well for Murray even when disposing of the ball while copping contact. Bradshaw’s defensive work was also a standout, constantly running hard to assist his defence when it was under pressure to win the ball and get it out to a runner.

Gippsland Power:

#5 Bailey Humphrey

One that has just turned up and provided every week this season, Humphrey brought his usual crash and bash style of football to the game and stood out as he consistently threw himself into contest after contest. Whilst Humphrey has become somewhat renowned for this style of play, it was his contested marking that really caught the eye, winning a few one-on-ones in the forward half that led to goal scoring opportunities, including his own. Unsurprisingly, Humphrey’s aggression at the ball carrier was crucial through the midfield as he forced some mistakes from the opposition as he closed them down quickly.

#7 Jacob Konstanty

A really eye catching performance from the small forward, Konstanty ended the day with three goals as he showed off some impressive reading of the ball off of hands, and some keen goal sense on the run. Whilst goals are always impressive, especially when you kick three, Konstanty’s pressure work was a real standout for the game, as he registered a game high nine tackles to get his side a few goal scoring opportunities, or created a stoppage to get numbers into the forward 50.

#9 Zane Duursma

Playing his first half in the midfield, Duursma made an instant impact as he won the first centre clearance of the game, kicking long inside 50 and allowing Gippsland to kick the opening goal in the opening minute. His presence continued to be felt around stoppages, where he held his own well with his positioning and timing of his runs, allowing him to win a few more clearances despite the bigger bodies around him. He was moved back down forward for the second half, kicking two goals, with one being an impressive no look snap from roughly 40 meters out.

#10 Jonti Schuback

Moving further up the ground each week, Schuback played almost the entirety of the game from the wing or through the midfield, not looking out of place with his positioning. Schuback was arguably the classiest player on field, whether it was finding the best option by hand while being brought down, or composing himself through traffic to hit an impressive kick, he just found a way to keep the momentum rolling forward for his side.

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