Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League – Quarter Finals
TOP-RANKED NAB League sides ensured upsets would be left in Wildcard Round, as they advanced to the preliminary final stage. Plenty of promising AFL Draft prospects have stepped up on the big stage as of late, and we highlighted a bunch of them in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.
By: Michael Alvaro
Leary was at his busy best on Saturday, racking up 15 disposals, five marks and seven scoring shots for four goals. The over-ager was super clean at ground level and had a strong presence inside attacking 50, but also worked hard up the ground to add a touch of flair to Tasmania’s transitions. At the end of the day, while a few shots strayed, his four majors almost exactly accounted for the final margin.
Another crafty small who added a good deal of creativity to Tasmania’s attacks, Callinan’s smarts and evasiveness proved troublesome to Bendigo’s defence. His sharp shifts and ability to turn on a dime granted him time and space in possession, before picking out clever passes in the forward half. He also got a run in midfield, hit the scoreboard with a pair of goals, and played above his height when clunking a few of his five marks.
#13 Seth Campbell
Smart small forwards seem to be a theme among Tasmania’s team, and Campbell is another who fits that bill. He started out with a shrewd goal assist for Will Splann, snatching a Bendigo handpass and delivering to the goalsquare from 50 metres. He constantly found the ball at half-forward and drove his legs to pump it inside 50, providing quick scoring opportunities as the Devils broke out the back. Unfortunately, he could not convert any chances of his own with three behinds.
#15 Lachlan Cowan
It was hardly a surprise to see Cowan end up as Tasmania’s top disposal winner (27), as he took on his usual kick-in duties and looked to spark attacks from defence. In most instances, there was an air of anticipation that the Devils skipper would play on quickly, take the game on, and gain 50-plus metres by foot in typically stylish fashion. With a license to launch, Cowan got Tasmania into attack in a flash, but also utilised his speed to react and close in on intercept marks behind the ball.
#27 Colby McKercher
The bottom-ager has already established himself as one of Tasmania’s prime movers, and while others found slightly more of the ball, he looked among the most productive Devils afield. McKercher’s turn of speed was again impressive, as he wheeled away on his left side in stylish breaks from the centre bounces. Usually slick by foot, he was pressured well and missed a couple of chances on goal – including a sitter in the final term, although the game was won at that point.
Gallagher’s end to the season has been nothing short of sensational, and he rounded it out with another top performance which yielded 28 disposals, eight rebound 50s and a goal. He took on the kick-in duties and drove forward from there, providing immense overlap run with his deep running capacity. It meant he had half-a-dozen scoring shots, of which five ended up as behinds with Gallagher not quite finding the mark at full tilt. Nonetheless, he set up beautifully behind the ball and was typically positive in his approach, before getting a run in the midfield-forward rotation to finish his NAB League career.
#4 Harley Reid
A highlight machine, Reid came into the game under somewhat of an injury cloud but still managed to light up Ikon Park at times. His speccy in the first quarter had plenty of important onlookers taking note, and it came after a gutsy mark earlier in the term. Reid was not as explosive as usual at the contest and it showed as he favoured the handball, plying his trade as a midfielder-forward before shifting to defence in the final quarter.
#5 Noah Long
Long was Bendigo’s most prolific midfielder on Saturday, notching 24 disposals and four inside 50s. The 178cm prospect cleared the ball well from centre bounces, leaning on his sharp burst of speed to escape to the outside and boot the ball long. With less pressure on his kicks, he was able to hit more targets forward of the ball and even found the goals himself. The handy snap conversion came after an excellent overhead mark.
It was a somewhat indifferent day for Gillbee, who had little trouble getting his hands on the ball, but found disposing of it efficiently slightly more difficult. He overcooked a couple of kicks going inside 50, but worked incredibly hard both ways to accumulate his 22 touches, five inside 50s, and five rebound 50s. He used his height to advantage in a couple of contested situations, and moved back as one of the magnet shuffles in term four.
By: Peter Williams
The potential top 10 pick was busy throughout the match, and while he could not quite repeat his 4.5 haul against the Knights last time, still got his hands on the ball plenty rotating between midfield and forward. He kicked the one behind after a good grab inside 50, and his hands were again a menace for the opposition with several contested marks in dangerous spots. His kicking is still scratchy at times but did produce a nice pass inside 50 off his left, and was able to get it to Konstanty inside 50 at another point in the second term. He took the game on and even found himself helping defend in the last quarter, running off the half-back line to thump it as far as he could. In the end he had his fair share of not only disposals, but also inside 50 entries.
Lively and exciting across the match, Konstanty had some big moments, but few were bigger than his third term goal. When his side needed someone to stand up, Konstanty delivered, taking a good mark 40 metres out on a 45-degree angle, and calmly slotting the goal. He missed a couple of chances earlier in the game when presented with them, but he always looked dangerous. His high-level footy IQ was on show inside 50, and his clean hands at ground level were crucial. Had he made more of his chances earlier in the game, Konstanty could have finished with a big haul, but he provided plenty of dash and brought his defensive pressure, laying a game-high seven tackles.
#9 Zane Duursma
Duursma started off the game like a house on fire, being involved in just about everything early. Like many of his teammates, Duursma rotated positions in the forward half and had his chances but missed a couple of chances including two behinds and one out on the full. Involved in the final kick of the game, Duursma took a strong mark inside 50 and converted the set shot after the final siren to put the icing on the cake for the Power. Despite definitely having bigger games, Duursma was always thereabouts and capable of breaking the game open.
#10 Jonti Schuback
Covering the ground well, Schuback was able to win the ball out of defence, but also hold a high line when required and roll through the midfield and even have a shot on goal after a tackle inside 50. That set shot missed to the right, but his evasion and highlights – which included an eye-catching speccy in the second term – were again on show. He finished with a handy 22 touches and five marks, working the ground well and just getting into the right spots. He did have a couple of forgettable turnovers by foot, but aside from those, was reliable with ball in hand.
#15 Coby Burgiel
Just plays his role each week, Burgiel provides that hardness through the middle and can rest forward like so many other Power players. Missing a set shot in the opening term after a good lead and mark 35 metres out, Burgiel was involved in play through the middle, often getting it forward and showing desperation. Though he did not hit the scoreboard with a major in the elimination final, Burgiel was able to win the ball with consistency, cleanly getting it at ground level and working hard defensively as well.
#20 Thomas Hamilton
One of the surprise packets from the match was Gippsland forward Hamilton who kicked a nice goal from a set shot 35 metres out in the second term, then did it again from a near-identical range in the third quarter. He almost completed a massive leap on the wing but could not quite pull it down, then won a free kick inside 50 on a tight angle within range but opted to pass rather than go for his third. He almost dribbled home a winner lat in the game from outside the goalsquare, but was tackled and it bounced across the face. Hamilton finished with 12 disposals, four marks and 2.1 playing just his second game in the past couple of months.
#27 Cooper Vickery
A workhorse with his ground coverage, Vickery was a consistent ball-winner in each third of the ground. He would springboard out of defence, often teaming up with Max Walton to provide run in transition, then thump it inside 50 on a few occasions. He knows how to get into dangerous positions and just mops up from the back half, and had the game sense to chew time off the clock in the final term as Gippsland looked to hold onto their lead. Another 20-disposal game from the top-ager.
#40 Max Knobel
A high-upside prospect, Knobel does a lot of things right, and once again he provided a target around the ground and through the ruck. Teaming up with Harvey Howe in the ruck, Knobel won his fair share of hitouts (14), but his around the ground capacity stood out, pulling down four marks from 11 disposals. He provides a contest each time when forward, and his ability to crash a pack in the second term allowed Vinnie Caia to snap a great goal. At times, Knobel would win the ball out of the ruck and slam it on the boot to escape the contest, with the 204cm talent a long-term prospect but one with draftable qualities.
The Vic Metro Under 18 representative played his best game since the championships, racking up a team-high 25 disposals and took 11 marks, working hard to spread well. He competes fiercely both in the air and at ground level, and though not possessing athletic gifts compared to other wingers, Edmends can get into the right ball-winning positions. His performance, which was exemplified by winning a critical one-on-one in the midfield late in the game, showed why he earned a State Draft Combine, with a strong four-quarter performance in the narrow loss.
#2 Nate Caddy
Though not his most productive game, Caddy again stepped up when it counted in the air, and threatened to take the match away from the Power. He took a great mark on the lead tight in the pocket midway through the last, and converted the 40-metre set shot to reduce the deficit to just six points. He had another chance to draw his side within a kick shortly after from a good mark 15m out but that shot sprayed wide and went across the face of goal. Though quieter earlier in the game, Caddy still competed well and pushed up the ground when required.
#10 William Green
The bottom-age tall started his day on a high with a great mark close to goal, but unfortunately the 202cm talent rushed his snap and sprayed it to the right. Not a massive accumulator, Green works up and down the ground rotating between the ruck and full-forward, finishing with the 12 hitouts, 10 disposals and four marks, but also getting his hands dirty and laying five tackles. He can compete well in the air and has enough leap to be a worry for the opposition, with generally safe hands. One to keep an eye on next year for the Knights tall stocks.
#14 Cooper Harvey
The North Melbourne father-son prospect was busy across the match, accumulating a strong 24 touches through the midfield. His execution was less efficient than previous matches, but his work rate still remained high. He spread well around the ground, was a link in transition and just kept having a crack. Harvey had a flying shot on goal in the last term but just pushed it to the right when he could have steadied. Overall he adds that element of pressure and when on-song can hit the scoreboard, but played an important midfield role for the Knights in the match.
#23 Anthony Caminiti
The over-age forward was a key reason the Knights remained in the game, as the major target inside 50. He kicked a good goal running in during the first term, and after a quieter second term, took a great contested mark in the third where he calmly slotted his second, His third goal came in the same quarter winning a one-on-one contest and working well back after it spilled to win the loose ball and deliver under pressure. In the final term he had the first inside 50 mark and went shot to Patrick Dozzi who unfortunately missed the set shot. Caminiti pulled down a mark in the goalsquare during that fourth term, but was called for a push much to the disappointment of both him and the Knights fans.
By: Michael Alvaro
He has certainly proven more prolific at times this year, but Szybkowski provided some of his best work all the same as Dandenong claimed a big win. He was a mainstay in midfield before being shifted forward late, and got stuck right into the thick of the action at the first centre bounce. While not the quickest coverer of ground, he combined well with his fellow on-ballers by hand, and some of his kicking was impressive too – including a couple of spearing passes to leading forwards.
Simpson was particularly prominent in the first half, looking sharp with his use by hand and helping Dandenong shift to the outside with spurts of speed. The bottom-ager fed his fellow on-ballers with quick distribution at stoppages, and proved just as slick with some of his passing by foot. Simpson also got on the board with two goals, sinking one on the run during term two and converting a 50-metre bomb of a set shot just before three quarter time.
#4 Jaxon Binns
Binns’ work rate is nothing short of remarkable, and he leant on it to help Dandenong link forward with fluency. When stationed on a wing, the top-age running machine racked up plenty of ball and carried it into dangerous areas, but just lacked a touch of polish on his directed kicks. He got a run playing deeper forward than he usually would, and slotted a couple of goals in the last quarter to cap off some hard work earlier in the game.
The stage was set for Jones’ third five-goal haul for 2022, with his remarkable goalkicking form now yielding 18 majors in his last four NAB League games. The 187cm forward plays above his height, presenting strongly as a leading target from deep in attack. He worked up the field early on, but looked most dangerous deep inside 50 where he could use his strength and goal sense to impact the scoreboard. Arguably the most impressive goal was his first, where Jones won a one-on-one and snapped home from 45 metres out. Powerful.
Emile-Brennan’s figures of 14 disposals and three rebound 50s don’t exactly jump off the page, but his influence with ball in hand was impressive. The lean defender used his deadly long kicking to move the play from half-back to half-forward in an instant, but also opted to take the game on with his speed when he could. Many of his possessions were uncontested, but proved a handy link in the chain as Dandenong turned defence into attack.
#33 Luke Bailey
Playing just his second NAB League game, the Haileybury College midfielder finished with nine more touches than anyone afield (33) and quickly imposed himself on the contest. Much of his work was done either at the contest or between the arcs, displaying a clean set of hands and good enough movement for a player of his size. A left-footer, he clearly favoured that side and while not the most fluent kick, pumped Dandenong forward with six inside 50s. Given the absence of Henry Hustwaite, Bailey’s feats came just at the right time.
#13 Jaelen Pavlidis
The Western Jets skipper rounded out his NAB League career with one more fine performance, leading his side’s midfield. Pavlidis brought his typical turn of speed to the centre bounces and broke away with a clean pair of heels, before pumping the ball to half-forward. With a decent amount of supply, he was able to drive his legs and ask questions of Dandenong’s defence with quick forward entries. His 19-disposal effort was solid, fronting a relatively young midfield group.
#22 Ned Conway
Particularly in the first half, Conway was as polished as anyone afield with his work in Western’s defence. The top-ager absorbed plenty of heat and gave it right back, proving clean in clutch moments and moving the ball with positivity. One specific contest conveyed his game well, as Conway beat his opponent to the ball, fended him off with his back to the boundary, and set off on the rebound. He hardly made a mistake in the first 25 minutes, and ended up as Western’s most prolific player with 24 disposals and nine marks.
#41 Jake Smith
Joining his skipper on-ball, Smith looked relatively comfortable against stiff opposition in midfield. The bottom-ager showcased a clean set of hands and while a touch awkward when kicking, his left foot was used to good effect on a couple of occasions – once with a centre clearance to hit Jovan Petric inside 50, and then to spread the ball wide to the corridor. He should prove an important piece for the Jets next year.
#53 Logan Morris
Another among Western’s promising fleet of bottom-agers, Morris was not quite his free scoring self but played an important role for the heavily beaten Jets. He was forced to work up to the wing, starting out with a strong juggling mark in term one, and competing hard throughout the contest. Though little reward came his way, Morris’ ability to impact aerially saw Harrison Miller snare a major in term two, but a goal of his own proved elusive. Morris missed a checkside from the pocket, and hit the post with a more straightforward set shot.
By: Michael Alvaro
Clarke was at his lively best inside Sandringham’s attacking 50, snaring three goals from six scoring shots. While his hat-trick of majors came in a variety of impressive ways, Clarke’s tendency to throw the ball on his boot or go alone saw a few teammates burned, perhaps as a product of the finals intensity. When he got it right, Clarke snapped home on either foot and capped off his day with a 45-metre dribbler – rare stuff.
It took him some time to reach his expansive best, Ashcroft had little trouble accumulating his team-high 28 disposals and impacting the contest. He was forced to work hard at stoppage to rip the ball free and dish off, but began to get his running game going as the match opened up. In what was a scrappy game at times, Ashcroft added a touch of polish with his running goal in term two, and combined with all of his fellow on-ballers to deliver a typically productive performance.
Roberts has added plenty to Sandringham’s setup behind the ball upon his return, and that was no different on Sunday. The bottom-ager is a real accumulator in defence, but does so with clever positioning and a slew of intercepts. He again got into great spots and competed hard when his name was called, before blasting the ball forward on his favoured left side.
#12 Jakob Anderson
He fell just short of cracking the 20-mark, but Anderson notched a season-best 19 disposals in one of his better outings for the Dragons. Another of the school and representative football returnees, he impressed with his super clean hands in defence, used to clunk intercept marks and mop up at ground level. Anderson’s composure was also sound, as he dished off quickly with little fuss as a cool and experienced head.
The best midfield groups work well in combination and Sandringham have that factor with the likes of Mackenzie and Ashcroft. Sharing the ball well by hand with his top-age mate, Mackenzie was effective at stoppage but also helped his side link into attack amid general play between the arcs. He was super polished in possession and produced a couple of nice moments on the break, including a slick feint to create a stoppage exit in the first quarter.
#21 Olli Hotton
Hotton’s numbers don’t exactly do justice to some of the glimpses he showed on Sunday, with the slick midfielder chaining together a bunch of handy passages. One of his first big plays was a handball passage along the boundary, showing his speed and ability to share with teammates, but Hotton began to get going in term two. He was typically clean by hand and read the play well to force a pair of intercepts, with the first leading to a shot on goal. His best moment was a smother at stoppage, before collecting the ball and stepping into space. The turnover kick wasn’t as clean, but the work beforehand was excellent.
#75 Levi Ashcroft
The younger Ashcroft brother played one of his best four-quarter games in Dragons colours, booting three goals as a half-forward before earning some late midfield minutes. The Vic Metro Under 16s representative consistently worked into good spots at the top of attacking 50, and helped generate plenty of scores. After a set shot conversion in term one, Ashcroft benefitted from a 50-metre penalty in term four, and capped his day by goalling after a rundown tackle inside 50.
Taking on the enormous job of marking mercurial Sandringham forward Harry Sheezel, Foley took the challenge on and not only nullified his opponent, but generated some offence of his own. The Essendon NGA candidate padded his 29 disposals and 14 rebound 50s with kick-ins, but stood up in a besieged defence to win some key contests and get the ball moving the other way. He left his best until last, with the aforementioned numbers proving season-bests.
#17 Harry Rowston
Rowston was always going to be Calder’s key man against some of the competition’s best midfielders, and he stood up to the task to rack up 26 disposals. He was seemingly everywhere in the opening stages, winning first possession cleanly and throwing the ball on his boot to tick up in the clearance column. Rowston’s flat kicking improved as the game wore on, and his power also translated to a couple of impressive overhead marks, including a gusty defensive 50 intercept in term one. In just a few late-season games, he established himself as the Cannons’ best midfielder.
#24 Declan Willmore
Adding a bit of size to Calder’s midfield mix, Willmore fell just short of a personal best disposal haul, but fared well for 21 touches and seven inside 50s. The 189cm utility won his fare share of clearances and continued to impress with his aerial game, looking confident as he flew for marks. One of his four grabs lead to a goal in the opening quarter, and Willmore’s presence seemed to be more consistent throughout the four quarters when used on-ball.