Scouting Notes: AFL Academy vs. Coburg VFL

THE AFL Academy turned out for the first of its two showcase games on Saturday, going down by 26 points to Coburg at Ikon Park. A string of six unanswered goals between terms two and three saw the state league side take a definitive lead, before closing out strongly to win 15.10 (100) to 10.14 (74).

Sandringham Dragons defender Luke Trainor boosted his top 10 credentials to be named best afield for the Under 18 squad, which will next take on Footscray at Marvel Stadium on the weekend of April 27-28. We took note of how all 22 Academy stars performed, including the four Victorian injury inclusions.

AFL ACADEMY 2.3 | 4.9 | 8.11 | 10.14 (74)
COBURG VFL 4.2 | 7.4 | 13.5 | 15.10 (100)

GOALS: T. Hotton 2, J. Whitlock 2, L. Ashcroft, H. Langford, L. Lombard, R. Mentha, J. Shanahan, T. Welsh

RMC BEST: L. Trainor, L. Lombard, T. Hotton, L. Ashcroft, J. Smillie

  • Team
  • AFL Academy
  • Coburg

#2 Levi Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)
Midfielder/Forward | 179cm | 18/12/2006

After starting in the centre bounces, Ashcroft began to get into the game as a forward in term two before finishing strongly back through the midfield. His ability to accumulate possessions and connect by hand came to the fore in several passages, often demanding the ball back after his initial disposal. The Brisbane father-son gun also showed his stoppage nous with five clearances and looked best when launching the ball long – including with his lone goal in term three off only a step or two. In a shock to no one, he led the way with a strong 33 disposals.

#3 Ben Camporeale (Glenelg)
Midfielder/Defender | 186cm | 21/07/2006

Watching a Camporeale – let alone two – grace Princes Park once again was a sight for sore eyes. Ben was afforded full-time midfield minutes in the first half before shifting to defence, collecting 24 disposals. Despite playing on the inside, most of his best passages came on the outer, as his running ability saw him sweep back to support the defence and spark transitions. He seemed to be vocal in organising the back line and remonstrated after his brother was slung in a tackle, though could have been a little more committed when attempting tackles.

#4 Lucas Camporeale (Glenelg)
Wing | 185cm | 21/07/2006

The left-footed and slightly more outside leaning Camporeale twin, Lucas was a mainstay on the wing. He plays the position so naturally, covering good ground between the arcs and racking up possessions with relative ease – he had 25 on Saturday. His kicking lacked punch and penetration at times, but he generally put the ball into useful areas as the final link in the chain to go forward.

#8 Leonardo Lombard (Suns Academy)
Midfielder/Forward | 178cm | 05/10/2006

Fresh off a VFL premiership last year, Lombard looked arguably the most accomplished Academy player afield. He showcased a blend of power and composure, utilising his athletic gifts to buy time on the ball or surge forward. He started in midfield before rotating forward and onto the wing, looking dangerous in passages where he drove his legs and brought others into the game. Lombard also booted a goal in the second quarter and was usually among the first to celebrate his teammates’ success – a good trait for team culture.

Leo Lombard impressed through midfield | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

#9 Samuel Marshall (Sandringham Dragons/Lions Academy)
Defender/Midfielder | 185cm | 19/01/2006

Marshall enjoyed somewhat of a role change with the Academy, accounting for the side’s defensive dearth by starting down back. He eventually rolled up to the wing and was given a few centre bounce starts in term four. The Lions Academy product used his running power to get busy on the overlap and generally hit his kicks nicely – producing high percentage plays with great efficiency. While less impactful than others in the middle third, Marshall played a tidy game.

#10 Ricky Mentha (Gippsland Power)
Small Forward/Wing | 178cm | 04/09/2006

Mentha dipped into his deep bag of tricks with a few exciting moments across the day. His best was a classy checkside goal in term three, and he hit the top of the post with another in the second quarter. The Alice Springs native also displayed his clean hands at ground level and produced a nice spin to get out of trouble at half-forward. He rotated onto the wing and began to get into the game after a steady start, but looked most dangerous inside 50.

#11 Christian Moraes (Eastern Ranges)
Midfielder/Forward | 183cm | 08/11/2006

After a highly regarded start to the season, Moraes’ day was cut short after copping a nasty blow to the back in term three. He started out on the wing but soon joined the midfield-forward rotation, chaining possessions nicely with his ability to run and carry. He blended that outside work with clean handling at the coalface, proving he can carve up the opposition as a receiver or feed teammates from the inside. Moraes tended to be unselfish when beyond his limit around forward 50, but can arguably improve on his two-way running. Still, he has Zak Butters-like qualities.

#12 Jagga Smith (Oakleigh Chargers)
Midfielder/Forward | 181cm | 28/01/2006

Smith was squeezed out of the starting midfield group but eventually got a good run on-ball, gathering 22 disposals in a typically busy outing. The whippet-like runner was clean as ever and had little trouble getting his hands on the ball, keeping his feet nicely under pressure and often wheeling away to the outside. He assessed his options with ball in hand and made classy decisions on forward 50 entries, which has always been a strength.

Jagga Smith gets a kick away | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

#14 Jayden Nguyen (Calder Cannons)
Small Defender | 177cm | 27/07/2006

Nguyen was a late inclusion for Xavier Lindsay and slotted straight into the Academy’s back six, though the going was tough at times. The Essendon Next Generation Academy member was tested in the way of composure, decision making, and skill execution, but produced some nice moments when freed up to use his speed and attack into space.

#21 Joel Cochran (Swans Academy)
Tall Defender | 195cm | 28/03/2006

Cochran was plugged into his side’s defence as one of the many talls to rotate through there. The Swans Academy prospect could have lifted his intensity and purpose when moving from contest to contest, but was polished with ball in hand and played the basics well with strong overhead marking and efficient kicking on the rebound.

#23 Tom Gross (Oakleigh Chargers)
Forward/Midfielder | 181cm | 15/09/2006

Gross’ competitiveness gave the Academy a clear boost around the ball once he was given a run at the centre bounces in term two. He started up forward and showed there is room for improvement in his finishing, but there could be no doubting his effort and power. Gross willed himself to win several contests and should continue to stack up nicely against senior opposition – especially if he can sharpen up his execution inside 50. 21 disposals on a solid day out.

#24 Harvey Langford (Dandenong Stingrays)
Forward/Midfielder | 190cm | 15/03/2006

A readymade prospect in terms of his frame, Langford enjoyed some time on-ball in the second half after starting up forward. He took on the moment with a well-struck running goal in term one and was typically clean when handling the ball. While not overly quick, Langford also proved he can shift gears by bursting away on a couple of occasions to take ground in front of him.

#25 Noah Mraz (Dandenong Stingrays)
Key Defender | 198cm | 20/02/2006

Mraz was a mainstay in the Academy’s defence and often took on the tough tall matchups. He looked mobile as ever and was efficient when helping his side mop up across the back 50, though could have been tighter defensively. Mraz tends to play off the back shoulder and react to the game in front of him, but was found wanting one-on-one at times and needed to have his head on a swivel more often. Still, he’s a promising talent and did his best on a tricky day for defenders.

#26 Harry O’Farrell (Calder Cannons)
Key Defender | 196cm | 03/05/2006

Another of the Academy’s key defenders, O’Farrell started out with a terrific intercept mark from back position on the wing. Though, he arguably looked much more impressive with ball in hand, proving comfortable in his movement and stylish upon disposal. The Calder prospect used the ball efficiently and made good decisions, and while his leap catches the eye, being able to clunk more contested marks is an area for improvement.

#28 Jobe Shanahan (Bendigo Pioneers)
Tall Forward | 194cm | 02/08/2006

Shanahan, a dynamic marking target, booted the game’s opening goal with a nicely struck 40m set shot. He spent a good amount of time based one-out inside 50 before rotating up the ground and didn’t see a huge amount of opportunity. Shanahan had two more chances to hit the scoreboard, putting a pair of snaps wide from relatively close range – albeit under pressure.

Josh Smillie fires off a handball | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

#29 Josh Smillie (Eastern Ranges)
Midfielder/Defender | 194cm | 17/05/2006

Smillie’s movement and skill for a 194cm player are through the roof, and he showed out in his midfield-defence rotation on Saturday. The Academy’s captain used his big frame to crash in at the contest, but was also polished with ball in hand and composed in traffic. Smillie also got on his bike with some handy running forays and combined well with teammates. His only poor moment was an unnecessary 50-metre penalty he conceded in the third quarter, for a free kick he didn’t give away.

#30 Luke Trainor (Sandringham Dragons)
Tall Defender | 194cm | 10/04/2006

Voted best afield by the Academy coaches, Trainor was head and shoulders above the rest during the first half – in more ways than one. His intercept marking was a highlight, leaping strongly and taking the ball with one grab on several occasions. Trainor’s reading of the play and closing speed were useful in such instances, as was his composure under physical contact. The latter trait was evident with his disposal, as the tall defender distributed the ball beautifully by foot and was incredibly reliable on the kick-ins. A top 10 prospect in the making.

#31 Taj Hotton (Sandringham Dragons)
Forward/Wing | 182cm | 17/06/2006

One of three initial injury replacements, Hotton was among the Academy’s most lively players. He rotated from the wing to forward line, helping his side connect between the arcs and getting busy inside 50 with 2.2 from 16 disposals. His turn of foot gave Coburg headaches and the energy he injected to each play was eye-catching. Hotton’s ground level craft shone, but he was also terrific overhead and dynamic around goal. Both of his majors were converted over the mark – in terms two and four – he looks a natural forward.

Taj Hotton was energetic on Saturday | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

#32 Tobie Travaglia (Bendigo Pioneers)
Defender | 187cm | 26/10/2006

Another prospect who was called up to the squad, Travaglia backed up his early-season Coates Talent League form with a strong outing down back. On a day where defence wasn’t prioritised by many, he held down the fort with desperate efforts and hard running to recover lose balls. Travaglia’s speed and intensity stood out, along with his competitiveness to at least halve contests against senior opposition. Arguably his best moment was a goal-saving touch interception in the final quarter, and he began to be more productive with ball in hand as the game wore on.

#33 Oliver Dean (Tasmania Devils)
Ruck | 201cm | 16/10/2006

The lone Tasmanian representative this year, Dean played the primary ruck role and eventually found his groove. He struggled to fight for front position in early ruck jostles, but began to hold his ground better and went on to clunk a nice pack mark from behind in the final quarter. In open play, Dean was generally clean and displayed sound fundamentals with his touches in-tight.

#39 Jack Whitlock (Murray Bushrangers)
Key Forward/Ruck | 200cm | 16/05/2006

Having earned a call-up through promising Coates Talent League form, Whitlock took the opportunity by booting two goals in his forward-ruck rotation. The 200cm talent showed strong fundamentals and nimble work below his knees, proving impressively mobile for his size. Whitlock got on the board with two majors in the second half; the first being a 45m set shot, and the second a nice left-foot snap around the body.

#40 Tyler Welsh (Adelaide/Woodville-West Torrens)
Tall Forward | 191cm | 15/08/2006

Welsh has good memories of Ikon Park and provided a strong presence up forward. His full-chested, bustling leads up the ground began to come off after quarter time as teammates rewarded his efforts. He threw his weight around defensively and that got him into the contest, going on to demand possession and marking strongly overhead. The Adelaide father-son prospect bagged a goal in the third quarter with a sweetly struck set shot.

Best on ground recipient Luke Trainor | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments