Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League – Preliminary Finals
THE 2022 NAB League grand finalists have been set, with Dandenong Stingrays and Sandringham Dragons advancing via Saturday’s preliminary bouts. With a bunch of AFL Draft prospects still in action, we noted some of the top talents in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.
It didn’t take too long for Callinan to make his mark on the game, as he snared the day’s first goal within a minute of the opening bounce. Finishing with typical class on that occasion, the bottom-aged small went on to rotate through midfield and got his hands on the ball 18 times. He proved most productive inside 50, setting up others with inboard kicks and making a menace of himself with constant movement.
#13 Seth Campbell
Another crafty midfielder-forward at the Devils’ disposal, Campbell was a dangerous mover through the middle of the ground and going inside 50. While Tasmania went the route-one method for much of the day, Campbell’s ability to carry forward and make clever decisions helped connect his side between the arcs with greater fluency. He was another to hit the scoreboard, slotting a 40m set shot in the third quarter.
#15 Lachlan Cowan
Though he looked to be favouring his strapped-up left shoulder, Cowan returned a typically prolific performance across Tasmania’s backline. The skipper ended up with 22 touches, five marks, and five rebound 50s as a general behind the ball, competing well defensively with spoils and tackles. He tended to rush his kicks a touch amid the speed of the game, but showed greater composure on the last line when the game was up for grabs, and used his long kicking positively when Tasmania needed it.
#27 Colby McKercher
Finishing level with fellow bottom-ager Tom Beaumont as Tasmania’s top ball winner, McKercher did well to get his numbers up having started inside attacking 50. He eventually rotated on-ball and manufactured his usual carving runs through the corridor, taking the game on with speed. His sharp left boot was a touch off when it came to finishing, as he registered two behinds and had to really hustle when carrying the ball.
Simpson has been an outstanding bottom-aged performer for Dandenong, and that was no different on Saturday as he could be seen doing a bit of everything. The midfielder-forward popped up with an early goal-saving effort on the last line of defence, before showing his class in midfield and booting two crucial second quarter goals. His 50m set shot conversion was particularly impressive, as were his clean hands and turn of speed to get out of tight spots.
#4 Jaxon Binns
Binns again rotated between his wing a forward roles, leaning on a ridiculously high running capacity and sound outside game. The top-ager showed good toe in transition to run the ball forward and get over the back on fast breaks, asking questions of Tasmania’s defence. He snared a set shot goal in the third term, but still has improvements to make in the kicking department with plenty of balls put to grass, rather than pinpointing a teammate. Binns also got a run at the centre bounces in the absence of Mitch Szybkowski and Henry Hustwaite.
Frangalas has the power and swagger to suit the finals stage, and utilised both attributes at different times on Saturday. 15 of his 16 disposals were kicks, and he clunked six marks in a performance which saw him test the likes of Lachlan Cowan as a direct opponent. He looked most productive up forward where he worked up the field, and quickly moved the ball on to ensure Tasmania did not get the opportunity to set up behind the play. Though he failed to find the goals, it was a productive day for the bottom-ager.
#35 Luke Bailey
With a couple of key inside ball winners unavailable for the Stingrays, Bailey has stepped in off a solid school football campaign and become his side’s most prominent extractor. Backing up 33 disposals last week, the top-ager managed another game-high with 27 as he looked particularly comfortable at the contest. There, his clean and quick hands helped bring others into the play as he racked up the numbers.
#41 Sam Latreille
Though his 12 disposals and one goal hardly make for groundbreaking reading, Latreille was lively as ever in Dandenong’s forward line. The St Kilda Next Generation Academy member popped up on the attacking arc and looked to trouble Tasmania with his lateral movement, providing a handy point of creativity. He blasted home a big-time goal on the run during the final term, but unfortunately looks set to miss the grand final after being suspended for rough conduct.
#47 Kobe Shipp
Shipp is another who may not be heralded for his pure numbers on Saturday, but played important roles in Dandenong’s defence. He matched up on both smalls and talls, seen taking one-on-one grabs against Seth Campbell (182cm), and marking Cam Owen (203cm) while measuring up at 186cm himself. Kicking is among Shipp’s greatest strengths, and he was efficient with 17 disposals and five marks behind the ball.
It was a tough day at the office for Humphrey who, after spending plenty of time in midfield during last week’s quarter final, found the ball 14 times with many more minutes up forward. Nonetheless, he did everything in his power to help will his side into the contest, proving strong over the ball and booting a team-lifting goal in the third quarter. His bodywork to mark in that instance was indicative of his improvement this year, and is why he remains right among the top 10 mix. The strength of Sandringham’s on-ball brigade was telling.
One of the many top Gippsland prospects whose numbers were not indicative of his promise, Konstanty spent most of his time in the forward line for 12 disposals, five marks, and five tackles. As a clever type, he consistently lead into the right channels and looked near-unstoppable with his speed off the mark and clean hands. His kicking left a little to be desired at times, but Konstanty could not be faulted for his creative intent.
#9 Zane Duursma
On the same weekend elder sister Yasmin made her AFLW debut, Duursma showed glimpses of his high-end potential without being overly prolific. The bottom-ager managed nine disposals and three marks, but it could have been many more given the way he attacked aerial contests. With a clear run and jump, he leapt aggressively at the ball with little reward, and made a couple of key touches count. Starting forward, he claimed Gippsland’s second goal of the game, and jetted out of defence to spark Nate Pipicelli‘s third quarter major.
#10 Jonti Schuback
Playing on both sides of midfield, Schuback injected some of his typical class to Gippsland’s ball movement and looked most comfortable on the outside, where he made great decisions. Even in tight spots, he drew opponents in before dishing off and looked slick when stepping around them, hardly looking fazed in the face of pressure. He penetrated both arcs with his 19 disposals, as one of the more productive Power players.
#11 Tom Hanily
Among a star studded lineup of teammates, Hanily stood out as an impactful member of the midfield-forward rotation. The bottom-ager took the game on with his 22 touches, breaking forward at speed and standing up in key moments. His best bit of play was a 50-metre set shot goal in the fourth quarter, and he almost pulled off a remarkable run into the forward 50 before being caught on the bounce. His four NAB League games this year were encouraging.
#22 Archer Reid
In what was arguably his best game for the year, Reid showcased just why he is already considered among the top prospects for 2023. The bottom-aged key forward got on the board early with a 40-metre set shot, and later snapped a second in the opening quarter. He would use the same method to claim a third major in term four, displaying wonderful dexterity at 201cm. That was a factor in much of Reid’s play, as he got separation on the lead and performed a memorable blind turn late in the day.
#27 Cooper Vickery
Vickery was made to absorb plenty of heat in Gippsland’s defence, but stood up typically well to it with his ability to position smartly, win the ball back, and set off on the rebound. Aside from a dropped mark in the first quarter, the top-aged Vic Country representative was a sure head with his 18 disposals and even earned some midfield time. Capping off a well rounded game, he also kicked a 40-metre goal in the final quarter.
The type of player who loves big crowds and grand occasions, Clarke stamped his mark on the preliminary final with two excellent goals and a brilliant third quarter. Before nabbing his own scores, Clarke was setting them up for others with pressure, contests bringing the ball to ground, and darting runs over the back. He could perhaps lower his eyes at times, but snared both goals through unteachable instinct on the snap. As always, he celebrated in a big way and was a constant attacking threat.
Ashcroft’s notes from week to week border on a copy-paste job, such is his consistency and high-level production. The Sandringham skipper got into the game early with a set shot goal, but began to take over as the contest wore on, accumulating a game-high 32 disposals and nine inside 50s. His repeat run and ability to be the last link in a stoppage exit made for productive play from stoppages, where the Dragons tended to be on top. A one-two handball chain and clever inboard kick to Ben Andrews was among Ashcroft’s highlight passages, though there are always many.
The Dragons’ second most prolific midfielder with 22 disposals, Mackenzie went about his business as per usual with great craft on the inside. He found a lot of his possessions between the arcs and tended to blast the ball long by foot in general play, but was sharper by hand when releasing from stoppages. Along with Ashcroft and Olli Hotton, his combination play helped Sandringham win the midfield battle and wreak havoc once on the outside.
#16 Harry Sheezel
After a couple of leaner weeks, Sheezel registered three goals from six scoring shots as one of Sandringham’s many dangerous medium forwards. His reading of the ball in flight was on show early, as he judged it better than his opponent one-on-one to mark and kick the first goal of the day. He missed a couple of chances he would normally nail in the second quarter, but nabbed a joe the goose goal and made it three with an easy goalsquare conversion in term three. Whenever the ball is in his area, he seems to make things happen.
#21 Olli Hotton
A bit like last week, this wasn’t Hotton’s most prolific performance but he showed flashes of what makes him such a highly touted prospect. As part of a fearsome midfield mix, he looked best when waxing with Ashcroft and Mackenzie, doing his best work by hand at stoppages. He can work on hurting the opposition more away from those situations, but popped up with a nice leap to intercept in the back half, and showcased his evasive technique with a few tricky twists and turns.
#75 Levi Ashcroft
Ashcroft’s nine disposals and three inside 50s do not exactly jump off the stats sheet, but the 2024-eligible talent made some big plays on Saturday. Spending most of the day up forward, the Brisbane Lions father-son candidate impressed most with his defensive efforts, laying a huge rundown tackle and applying a smother in the third term. He’ll be an important piece on Friday evening.