AFTER one of the most competitive weekends of the season, five NAB League regions lay claim to a trio of representatives each in our Round 16 Team of the Week. We break down the 24-player squad, covering each line and three emergency spots.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Context played a big part in deciding this week’s top dog, though the recipient richly deserved his reward. Northern Knights bottom-ager Nate Caddy came out victorious, after thriving in an altered role this week. Running through midfield at over 190cm, he racked up 20 disposals and booted three goals in his side’s 41-point win over Western – Northern’s third of the season. Nate is a relative of three-club AFL retiree Josh Caddy, and will be familiar to most having featured as a tall forward for Vic Metro’s Under 18s this year.
With four of six games decided by less than a goal, defenders had their work cut out across the competition. It was relatively tough to nail down the key position spots, so Josh Weddle plays slightly above his height at centre half-back after an expansive outing for Oakleigh, while James Van Es‘ intercept marking prowess earns him the full back spot.
There’s plenty of class elsewhere, with the flankers and pockets able to shift the side into attack. Harvey Gallagher booted another two goals from half-back, earning his spot opposite fierce Geelong Falcons bottom-ager Angus Hastie. Efficient distributors in Harry Flynn and Ned Moodie fill out the last line, adding to a back six which does a bit going both ways.
This was easily the most difficult line to pick, especially with two top-five draft prospects essentially nailed on for centre bounce slots. Namely, they are Elijah Tsatas and Will Ashcroft, who were instrumental for their respective sides in the Oakleigh-Sandringham thriller. Both would have gone close to a Player of the Week nod, had they not already won said honours this season.
Hugh Bond joins them on-ball after proving instrumental in Greater Western Victoria’s (GWV) comeback win over Geelong. His selection squeezes Olli Hotton out to a wing, while Bendigo utility Jason Gillbee features on the opposite side. Not to be forgotten, Toby Murray was a lock for the ruck spot having earned 21 hitouts, eight marks and a goal for the Bushrangers.
Caddy, who is usually a centre half-forward, fills that position as a result of the midfield squeeze, seeing him lead a potent forward line. His dual position status means GWV gun Aaron Cadman is pushed to full forward, after he booted half of the Rebels’ eight goals in an epic comeback – including three in the final term.
Powerful bottom-agers Sam Frangalas and Harley Reid are others capable of shifting on-ball, and found plenty of the pill as their sides both won by four points. Even younger than them is Under 16 talent Isaac Kako, who joins Harry Sheezel on the full forward line after his four-goal game for Calder. Both players produced sensational fourth quarters, but Sheezel could not quite drag his Dragons to victory.
A star-studded interchange of six is home to three players who racked up exactly 30 disposals – Cooper Harvey, Harry Rowston, and Mitch Szybkowski. The likes of Oliver Hollands (27) and Alwyn Davey (26) were hard to deny as they further proved their first round credentials, while Coby Burgiel was Gippsland’s best in a losing effort.
Three more midfielders – Patrick Hughes, Noah Long, and Darcy Weeks – have been named as emergencies, and are incredibly unlucky to miss out this week. Others who were left on the cutting room floor include Matthew Jefferson and Bailey Humphrey, who both booted four goals from low disposal hauls.
In the same game as Jefferson, Angus Curry and Luke Teal were also terrific for Oakleigh, while Cameron Mackenzie built into his craft for Sandringham. In opposition to Humphrey, Henry Hustwaite stood tall alongside wingman Jaxon Binns as a couple more names who could well have snuck into the side.
ROOKIE ME CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 16
B: Harry Flynn (ER) – James Van Es (GWV) – Ned Moodie (DS)
HB: Harvey Gallagher (BP) – Josh Weddle (OC) – Angus Hastie (GF)
C: Olli Hotton (SD) – Hugh Bond (GWV) – Jason Gillbee (BP)
HF: Sam Frangalas (DS) – Nate Caddy (NK, c) – Harley Reid (BP)
F: Harry Sheezel (SD) – Aaron Cadman (GWV) – Isaac Kako (CC)
FOL: Toby Murray (MB) – Elijah Tsatas (OC) – Will Ashcroft (SD)
INT: Coby Burgiel (GP), Alwyn Davey Jr (OC), Cooper Harvey (NK), Oliver Hollands (MB), Harry Rowston (CC), Mitch Szybkowski (DS)
EMG: Patrick Hughes (GF), Noah Long (BP), Darcy Weeks (WJ)