Up the Grades: Bottom-agers blooded in VFL

A PAIR of bottom-agers tied to Northern Academies were unleashed unto the VFL over the weekend, as Gold Coast’s Leonardo Lombard and GWS’ Josaia Delana made their state league debuts. Both acclimated well, notching 11 and 12 disposals respectively.

Lombard’s Suns thrashed Carlton out of a Wildcard Round spot on percentage, winning to the tune of 127 points at Heritage Bank Stadium. Top-aged midfielder Will Graham (11 disposals, one goal) and defender Nick Williams (eight disposals, four marks) also continued their runs at the level.

The Giants fielded a couple more academy members on Saturday, too. Midfielder Daniel Gauci equalled his personal-best disposal haul of 16 and booted two goals, while over-age key defender Dayne Posthuma managed 10 touches in the loss to Geelong.

Tarkyn O’Leary has quickly found his feet in the VFL | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Elsewhere in the VFL, Sandringham Dragons product Tarkyn O’Leary did some nice things as his Zebras downed Williamstown. He booted two early goals and finished with 10 disposals in just his second outing, a day after the Dragons suffered an upset loss at the same venue.

Along with Gold Coast and GWS, Sydney was another side to grant their juniors more state league opportunities. Caiden Cleary again stood out with 14 touches in a defeat to Werribee, as Indhi Kirk, Max Rider, and Lachlan Cabor also took the field at Tramway Oval.

The VFL will now roll on into its inaugural Wildcard Round with two games scheduled for the upcoming weekend. Gold Coast took out the minor premiership level on points with Werribee and will have a host of young talent to call upon during finals if required.

Over in South Australia, bottom-aged Eagles talent Kade Herbert helped his side notch a 22-point upset win over ladder leader, Glenelg. The midfielder gathered 13 touches and kicked his first two senior majors, including one which was nominated for goal of the week.

A few of his Woodville-West Torrens teammates filtered through the Reserves grade. Despite going down to the Bays, state squad members Callum Fairall (13 disposals, four inside 50s), Patrick Toole (12 disposals, three clearances) and Patrick Weckert (four marks, one goal) all showed promising signs.

Norwood defender and state combine invitee Logan Evans was also among the few juniors to make the senior step up this week. He continued his turnaround in form to collect 17 disposals (14 kicks) and seven rebound 50s as the Redlegs beat North Adelaide on the road.

Clay Hall gets a kick away | Image Credit: Shazza J Photography

Claremont utility Daniel Curtin helped his side maintain its top five spot with a round left to play, claiming 14 disposals, four marks, and four tackles in the Tigers win over Swan Districts. With more of the same come finals, he’ll only strengthen his status as a top five prospect.

Fellow finals-bound side Subiaco also had a win over the weekend, and ruck-forward Luker Kentfield bagged a personal-best four goals. His Lions defeated South Fremantle, who again fielded state squad member Ashton Ferreira (15 disposals, six marks). Koltyn Tholstrup (groin) is hoping to return next week.

Peel Thunder blooded the highest number of draft prospects out West, headlined by Clay Hall in the League side. He amassed 19 disposals and four inside 50s as the Thunder went down to West Perth, while ruck Mitchell Edwards and midfielder Reece Torrent were steady contributors in the Reserves.

As is the case in the SANFL, there is just one more regular season round left to play across all WAFL grades. The final weekend, and resultant postseason matches loom as the last chance for players from either state to impress on-field before the combine events in October.

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