AS the NAB League Boys season enters its final month, a bunch of representative stars have begun to filter back into the pathway competition. Just four fixtures took place, with two big thrashings and one thriller among the results. We noted some of the top performers from each region.
All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
By: Liam Badkin
#9 Tom Rowland
The first of a few standout defenders on the day, Rowland provided a nice blend of dash and composure out of the back 50. The 2003-born backman was in plenty of the play as the day went on, and had some big moments as the Jets held off an almighty comeback from the Falcons. Finished with 18 disposals, six marks and six rebound 50s and combined well with his fellow Western defenders.
#16 Cameron Kizan
Quite possibly the best game of his NAB League tenure, Kizan produced a tough showing in the backline, and had a nice balance about his game. Not afraid to take the game on when he had the ball in his hands, Kizan amassed 19 touches and rebounded the ball out of the defensive 50 seven times, hitting a target more often than not. On the other side of the coin, he also laid a whopping 10 tackles, with a couple likely preventing a Geelong score. It was a magnificent performance from the promising talent.
#33 Darcy Weeks
The biggest accumulator in the backline for the winning side, Weeks found plenty of the ball throughout the course of the game. Like Kizan, he also enjoyed the best game of his 2022 campaign, finishing with 22 touches, pulling down five marks and exiting the ball from defensive 50 six times. He combined well with his teammates mentioned above and helped the Jets move the ball swiftly up the field without sacrificing any accountability for his direct opponent.
#41 Jake Smith
Smith was the standout for Western at the coalface, finding plenty of possession at the bottom of the pack and was the premier extractor for the entirety of the game. His 27 touches was 10 more than his previous best, and he was the one that was able to kickstart any forward momentum for the Jets. When the Falcons were coming hard in the final term, Smith still managed to get first possession and slow up play, a move that proved to be crucial in the context of the match. He added six marks and seven tackles to this performance and was Western’s best performer.
#5 Jhye Clark
One of the main reasons why the Falcons were able to get themselves back in the game, Clark fought tooth and nail to give his side a spark in the second half. Posting some eye-catching numbers, he was electric in the final two quarters and provided a real lift from the midfield. He ended the game with two goals from 27 touches (21 kicks) and seven inside 50s, and could not have done much more to get the Falcons over the line in what was a disappointing result in the end.
#9 Ted Clohesy
It was another brave performance from Geelong’s premier accumulator, as Clohesy managed to find the ball more than anyone else on the field across the span of four quarters. His disposal count of 30 was a game-high number, while he also impacted the game in other ways. Defence was no weak point for Clohesy, who laid six crunching tackles, and whenever he had ball in hand, he looked to push the ball forward, ending the game with seven entries inside his team’s forward line.
By: Peter Williams
The returning Gippsland Power skipper had himself a day out, and was a clear best on ground in the 100-point win. Playing predominantly forward and rotating through the midfield, he showed off his power and strength in the air and on the lead, providing too strong for his opponents. The one area of his game that needs improving is just that finishing capability, with Humphrey kicking 4.5 and had a couple go out of bounds, with many of the assumption that Humphrey could have finished the day with double-figure goals. Keep an eye out for our NAB League Player Focus on his performance tomorrow.
Thrived through the middle and when forward being that creative player in front half of the ground. His kicking was sublime and kicked a goal after running hard forward, and set up multiple others with a couple of bullet passes inside 50, hitting up both Duursma and Paddy Cross. He played onball and won clearances, and showed his defensive intensity with an outstanding smother in the forward pocket.
#9 Zane Duursma
Much like Humphrey, Duursma could have absolutely feasted in front of goal had he had his kicking boots on, booting 2.4 and one out on the full. Despite that last kicking finishing going a little awry, Duursma’s leading inside 50, his clean hands and fearless attitude to throw himself at the pack was very noticeable. He won a number of key clearances, often starting in the centre bounce and getting an early clearance which has become a trademark of his. Given the bottom-ager still has another year to come, there is still plenty to look forward to for the rest of this season and in 2023.
#10 Jonti Schuback
It was like jumping in a time machine watching Schuback wind back the clock to his best. One of the standout Under 16 performers for Vic Country, Schuback has been impressive without completely dominating, but on the weekend, he did the latter. Racking up a whopping 36 disposals – around double his season average – Schuback was prolific, often taking multiple bounces and tucking the ball under the arm to break the lines. He sidestepped opponents, mopped up in defence, cut up opposition zones with his kicking and then when he went forward took a mark in space and nailed the set shot goal.
#15 Coby Burgiel
Worked well returning to the side with Humphrey and was just as good early, kicking his three goals in the first half, including two within a minute both on the run. He too had his chances with some shots on goal that missed, but spent more time in the midfield later in the game, then pushed hard to help out the defence, doing a bit of everything. He won a lot of the ball through the middle, releasing by hand or kicking inside 50 to leading targets, Burgiel will be a welcome addition to the Power side once school football is finished, amassing 29 disposals, six marks and booting 3.2.
#22 Archer Reid
Looming as one of the top key position players in next year’s AFL Draft, Reid was impressive playing up forward, slotting three goals for the game and remaining active throughout the match. He was strong overhead, read the ball well and takes it at the highest point, but is equally clean below his knees. Working hard to be a kick out option in defence when playing as a higher forward, Reid is always a reliable target. Hs first two goals came from close range, but his third was a great pickup off the deck in the final term after an opponent left it behind and snapped around his body to sail home.
#40 Max Knobel
The bigman showed some impressive traits rotating between he ruck and forward, and though still raw was able to be a presence inside 50. He did miss a set shot from 40m in the final term, but kicked the goal of the day in the third, when at the 14-minute mark, cleaned up a dropped mark, recovered and snapped around his body from 45m to sail home much to the thrill of the crowd. Not a huge possession winner, but he is able to cleanly take it out of the ruck and give it off, with enough smarts to work with in the future.
#2 Nate Caddy
It was a tough day for the bottom-age forward who did his best to keep presenting and working hard. He kicked his sole goal from a good mark in the goalsquare and booted it into the bushes behind the goals two minutes into the second term. He laid some big tackles and ended up playing more midfield and helping out in defence in the last quarter, with the ball firmly up the Power’s scoring end.
One of Northern’s most consistent across the game, Seiter just kept battling away in the midfield, and read the situations well, even intercepting stray handballs. He did well to chop off a ball in close then intercepted a kick inboard in his defensive 50 and looked to take off, winning a lot of quick touches in close. Seiter kicked a good goal on the run to give him reward for effort.
#46 Nathan Raphael
Mopped up in defence and was a target for his teammates in the back 50, Raphael provided great support in a challenging day and continued to battle away and moving the ball in transition. He would be one of his side’s most prolific markers and when going forward was able to dispose of the ball well enough whilst under immense pressure.
#53 Aleksandr D’Arro
A bottom-age small, D’Arro had another big game and was his side’s biggest disposal winner with 28. a kick-first player who worked hard roaming in the back half of the ground, he kept accumulating the ball and moving it in transition. He offered himself up as a target at half-back and was a player who finished with the most rebound 50s in the match (eight).
By: Peter Williams
#5 Aaron Cadman
The Top 10 prospect started really strong against the Ranges, slotting 2.2 in the opening term and looking like he was on track for a huge day out. Though he would only add another three behinds to his tally for the match, Cadman remained involved throughout the contest. He kicked his first goal from a one-on-one mark and launched from 55m out, then his second came after marking in the goalsquare near quarter time. He gave away a couple of free kicks for going in hard, but was making his presence felt outside of the scoreboard. Any key forward who can finish with 23 disposals, six marks and six tackles is doing well.
#16 Luamon Lual
Still a bottom-ager, Lual has some nice traits, and just needs to sharpen up some of his execution at times. He provides some nice run and has neat technique, with just the final execution – such as a stray out on the full or a handball turnover under pressure – ways he can take his game to the next level. He has some eye-catching athleticism, weaving around opponents, and was even tasked with the kick outs at times to deliver long down the line.
#27 Alex Molan
Another bottom-ager at the Rebels, Molan is a clean, reliable user not too dissimilar to older brother Charlie. He ticks a lot of boxes and is a terrific decision maker who can impact both offensively and defensively. When going offensively he makes the right calls by hand or foot, and is not afraid to open up the game with a pass inboard. Defensively, he lays tackles, applies shepherds and runs both ways, with his unselfishness on show in the final 30 seconds of the match where he had the ball in the goalsquare and opted to handball to teammate and debutant Sam Lalor for Lalor’s first NAB League goal.
#34 Beau Tedcastle
The dynamic forward took just 20 seconds to get on the board in the win against the Ranges, sidestepping an opponent in side 50 and taking a shot from 45m that sailed home. Tedcastle would finish with two goals from 15 disposals, but did well pushing up to the wing at times, and even provided a nice run in the second term. He looked active and was creative in front of goal, though did try to do a touch too much in the third term, fending off an opponent inside 50 then dropping the ball. Overall a dangerous small inside the Rebels’ forwardline.
#1 Kai Windsor
A consistent player throughout the match, Windsor looked to burst away and provide some run in transition wherever possible. He would win the ball in each third of the ground, working hard to run both ways. Though at times his kicks would fall short, he did deliver on target when one was running straight at him, hitting a neat inside 50 pass to set up a goal. Windsor kicked his own goal on the edge of half-time with a nice running play that sailed home courtesy of bouncing the right way on the goalline.
#8 Cam Nyko
Another future talent who is impressive despite less touches than others on the field, Nyko finished with the 14 disposals, four marks and four tackles but just seemed to do a lot of things right. He times his handballs well and has a low centre of gravity allowing him to win contested ball, whilst having enough evasion to sidestep opponents and deliver inside 50. His defensive intensity goes beyond his tackle count, and he almost had a fantastic passage of play in the third term, tucking the ball under the arm and charging forward but his kick was a little short.
#18 Lewis Hayes
The Vic Metro key defender again came away with the most touches on the field, and given the ball was down his end, he certainly saw a lot of it. Used for the kickouts more often than not, Hayes provided an aerial presence even if it was just to spoil away. Once the ball hit the deck, he laid big tackles, and even won one when he was taken high by Cadman in the opening term. In the final quarter with the game seemingly done and dusted, Hayes went forward and nailed a set shot goal six minutes into the term.
#45 Trent Marotta
Tried hard in defence and was strong aerially to try and limit the influence of Cadman in that regard. He took a number of good marks including intercept, which one featured him putting his body on the line in front position against Cadman leading out. He found plenty of the ball in a similar circumstance to Hayes – with the pill down his end – but Marotta played a higher role and even kicked long inside 50 on a couple of occasions to end up with 24 touches and five marks for his troubles.
By: Liam Badkin
One of the most dangerous players in Tasmania’s thumping win over the Cannons, Callinan stuffed the stat sheet and played his role to perfection. Often used as a linking player between midfield and the forward line, he amassed 22 touches, which was the third-most of any player on the ground. Callinan’s hard work was rewarded on a number of occasions, hitting the scoreboard to record three majors to top off a classy performance.
#7 Will Splann
Just edging out his teammates on the scoreboard, Splann proved to be the most damaging Devil in front of the big sticks. He nailed four goals in the win, which was the most of any player. The opposition defence had no answer for his work in the air and on the ground. Splann was also able to get involved in a few other ways, racking up 13 touches and creating goals for his teammates in the process.
#15 Lachlan Cowan
We have come to expect to see Cowan in the bests on a weekly basis, and the win over Calder continued that trend. His leadership from the backline was once again on full display, never allowing his side to ease up on the Cannons, even when they had a massive lead on the scoreboard. He ended the day with 27 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and seven entries inside 50 in what was a complete performance.
#27 Colby McKercher
It was yet another best-on-ground performance from the young gun, who really hurt Calder in a number of ways on Saturday. McKercher looked unstoppable at times, and the Cannons’ midfield and defence had no solutions for slowing him down. His stats show how dominant he was, but those who watched the game truly now the impact he had on the contest. He produced 28 touches, five tackles, two goals and 10 inside 50s in one of the better individual outings the competition has seen in 2022.
On a day where the ball lived in Tasmania’s forward line, Foley fought bravely and can hold his head high. Despite the entire backline being under pressure for much of the game, he was always looking to extract the ball from defensive 50, and ended the day with an eye-catching eight rebound 50s to go with 19 touches and four tackles. It was a strong showing given the conditions and frequency in which the ball was pumped into the Calder backline.
#24 Declan Willmore
Despite the disappointing performance from a team perspective, Willmore was still able to produce his best showing of the year. He racked up 22 touches and six marks, and was the highest disposal-getter for the Cannons. He was ferocious in his attack on the ball and often managed to create space on the lead when his teammates could not. It was an impressive display and if he can build on this performance, it may change the fortunes of Calder in the coming weeks.