AFL Draft

U18 National Championships: Allies vs Vic Country/Vic Metro Trial Games

Ikon Park

It was perfect weather to be viewing underage football on Sunday at Ikon Park as the Allies split its squad in half to take on Vic Country and Vic Metro respectively. The first game in particular was of high standard, as the Allies players impressed and perhaps surprised many to run away with a 27 point victory. The second encounter certainly didn’t have as many obvious standouts and wasn’t as free flowing, but Metro produced an even performance for a comfortable 23 point win.
Below are the players who impressed throughout the day.

Trial Game No.1: Vic Country

SAM WALSH, 183CM, 74KG, MID

The standout performer of the day, this kid is going to be a star at AFL level. He just has so much time and can make his opponents look like witches hats as he weaves through traffic with minimal fuss, much like a shorter Scott Pendlebury. It was so easy for the potential No.1 pick in the first half as he collected 21 disposals, kicked two class goals and barely missed a target. He was put in cotton wool half way through the third quarter as there is bigger fish to fry in the coming weeks.

XAVIER DUURSMA, 185CM, 71KG, MID
The Gippsland Power skipper didn’t win huge amounts of the ball, but made every possession count with an eye catching display. He is an all-round midfielder who has tricks offensively, but is also hard as nails without the ball. He provided one of the great highlights of the match with a courageous, overhead contested mark deep in his defensive 50. He won contested ball, but also provided run and carry in a display that has many excited about his upcoming Championships campaign.

LAITHAM VANDERMEER, 180CM, 76KG, DEF (19YO)
Vandermeer is a competitive and creative little footballer that loves to take the game on behind the ball. Whenever I watch him play this role I can’t help but think of Kade Simpson, as he carries the ball with efficiency, reads the play superbly and puts his smaller frame on the line whenever required. He was extremely unlucky to not end up on a list last year and will be looking to replicate what Ben Paton achieved at the 2017 Championships.

SAM FLANDERS, 183CM, 81KG, MID (BOTTOM AGE)
We have already seen how dangerous Flanders is I50 on numerous occasions throughout 2018, but greater time in the middle on Sunday provided further evidence that he is a midfielder at heart. He was influential in tight with 10 of his 18 possessions contested and again showcased his sticky hands with two strong overhead. He is such a difficult match up in any position and is a genuine star in the making.

ZAC FOOT, 180CM, 71KG, MID
Zac Foot is a player I’ve come to enjoy watching throughout 2018 and he again caught the eye on Sunday. He was influential in the first half in collecting 12 possessions and was especially creative by hand. He has time and can find space when others can’t, while a nice turn of speed and good skills make him a dangerous proposition on the outside. Went out of the game in the second half, but there is something about him.

BAILEY SCHMIDT, 199CM, 97KG, RUCK/FWD
Schmidt is one of the abundance of Dandenong talls that I have craved to prove more on field. I feel there is talent here and he provided some decent moments in the ruck for Vic Country on Sunday. He is improving and clunked a couple of impressive overhead contested marks, but I’d love to see him be more competitive and engage physical contact consistently.

Trial Game No.1: Allies
CONNOR McFAYDEN, 190CM, 88KG, FWD/MID
The Brisbane Lions academy prospect had genuine best on ground claims with four goals and 17 disposals in an eye catching display. He was particularly dangerous in the air inside 50, taking three contested marks, highlighted by a one-handed scoop in the goal square during the final term. He also spent time at the stoppages, providing clean hands and composure in tight. He continued to pop up throughout the day and is one to watch at the Championships.

FRASER TURNER, 186CM, 75KG, MID/DEF
Coming off an excellent Division 2 campaign for Tasmania, Turner showed exactly why he is a potential bolter leading into the Champsionships. He provided excellent run and carry throughout the day for the Allies, displaying agility and the ability to change direction quickly. He is a very nice size, but looks more accustomed to the outside at this stage. I must say I was surprised to see he had racked up 32 disposals including 27 kicks, but he demands the ball in space and gets in smart offensive positions. We’ll hear much more about him during the Championships.

CHAYCE JONES, 180CM, 74KG, MID
Jones is another Tasmanian who is making loud noises ahead of the Championships. He is your classic competitive in and under midfielder who really got into the game when the Allies began its charge in the second half. His 22 disposals included 13 contested possessions and seven clearances, but he was also able to work hard inside 50 and kick two goals off the pack. You know what you are going to get from the Level 2 Academy scholar.

MICHAEL MUMMERY, 185CM, 87KG, MID/FWD
On first glance you wouldn’t necessarily expect Mummery to be an elite draft prospect, but it doesn’t take long for the talent to win you over. A brilliant and extremely smart contested mark against two opponents inside 50 got him going and while he didn’t win mountains of footy, he kept providing moments. He has a thick behind but is slippery in tight, possesses a mean side step and has excellent skills. There is a bit of Darren Jarman about him, which is sure to excite every club.

KEIDEAN COLEMAN, 181CM, 74KG, DEF/MID
Coleman is another Brisbane Lions Academy prospect that on my first look has talent to burn and tremendous scope. He started behind the play and was getting his hands on the ball early, showing class on his natural left foot despite the occasional error. A couple of brilliantly clean ground pickups provided some excitement, while two pinpoint passes I50 in the second half had recruiters reaching for their notepads.

THOMAS MATTHEWS, 184CM, 82KG, DEF
The third Brisbane Lions Academy player to impress in the first game, Thomas Matthews’ kicking had everyone talking. Possessing a booming right foot, he hit Mummery in the goal square from long range first quarter before kicking a 50 metre low bullet to advantage in the goal square again final term. He also turned Zac Foot inside out on the back flank on the far side before hitting a target lace out 50 metres further up the ground. Matthews was trusted with the kick outs too and I’m looking forward to seeing more.

Trial Game No.2: Vic Metro
RILEY COLLIER-DAWKINS, 193CM, 88KG, MID
The big bodied midfielder was definitely the most eye catching Metro player in an even performance, creating further confidence that he is in the first round mix. He was influential at the stoppages as usual, often winning first possession and raising his arms high to release to teammates. Although it was his offensive play that really stood out on Sunday, as he used his surprisingly explosive speed to get goal side of contests. He found space in the second quarter to run inside 50 and kick a nice goal, only to better that with a long range effort at pace in the third term. He even went back later in the game to take an excellent intercept mark. He ended the day with 16 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five clearances and 2 goals.

JACK EVANS, 186CM, 83KG, FWD/MID
He caught my attention early in the game while running through the midfield with an excellent clean hardball win in congestion, but it was inside 50 that he really made his mark. He became a genuine target as the game went on and his confidence grew with every disposal won. Evans took seven marks (all in the 2nd half), of which two were contested as the ball kept landing in his sticky hands after the main break. He should have finished with more than one goal, but consistently got in dangerous positions and had a defensive presence with nine tackles.

WILL KELLY, 193CM, 83KG, DEF
I haven’t had the opportunity to see a whole lot of Will Kelly, but he has impressed in patches on each occasion. He started the game well in defence, moving elegantly to get in ball winning positions and finish off with excellent skills. He is a very good size at 193cm and has intercept capabilities that will keep the scouts interested all year. Went quiet in the second half, but did enough the warrant a closer look throughout the season.

STEFAN RADOVANOVIC, 192CM, 85KG, DEF
It was hard not to like the game of Radovanovic, who balanced his offensive and defensive football well at half back. He caught everyone’s attention immediately by chasing down Tarryn Thomas early in the game. He was strong overhead, taking two excellent intercept marks in the third term and generally made good decisions. He is another nicely sized kid with a good turn of speed, while he also found an opportunity to push forward and kick a great goal in the second quarter. He finished with 19 disposals and had an impact.

JAMES RENDELL, 198CM, 90KG, KPF
Rendell isn’t a player who is currently expected to feature in the first rounds of the draft, but he is one who has the potential to bolt. He played as a tall forward on Sunday and led high up the ground to win the ball. Seven of his 11 kicks were ineffective including three behinds, but he is a better user than those numbers suggest. He is flexible, has strong hands, moves superbly for his size and is capable of playing most positions despite his height. I’d love to see him behind the ball before long, but for the time being I like Rendell enough on attributes alone.

JAMES ROWBOTTOM, 185CM, 78KG, MID
He was again Metro’s key ball winner at the stoppages and through the midfield, collecting 22 disposals and a team high six clearances. He is an unassuming type who goes about his business with minimal fuss, but just knows how to win the ball in congestion or running hard to space. He was excellent defensively too, laying an equal game high 11 tackles. Probably Metro’s most consistent player on the day.

JOSEPH AYTON-DELANEY, 180CM, 68KG, MID/DEF
It looks like Ayton-Delaney is going to be the class and polish of the Vic Metro side in 2018, performing admirably by rotating through the midfield and in defence. He is mostly an outside player at this stage and there isn’t much of him, but he moves gracefully, has excellent dual-sided skills and is a decent decision maker. However, he did turn the ball over at times on Sunday and had kicks smothered, but it wasn’t from being rushed and perhaps tried to bite off a little too much at times.

Trial Game No.2: Allies
TARRYN THOMAS, 189CM, 73KG, MID
The star Tasmanian and North Melbourne Next Generation Academy player again showed why some rate him as a top three talent. He is a brilliantly rounded footballer, proving his absolute class on the outside while also having such an influence inside. While I was a little surprised to see he had won so much of the ball, 18 of his 25 disposals were contested and his 11 tackles proved an outstanding defensive attitude. Inside 50 he reads the ball so much quicker than his opponent and coupled with those clean hands, he is such a stressful matchup. He looks ready to tear the Champs apart.

MATTHEW GREEN, 189CM, 73KG, WING
I really enjoyed the outside game of Green, whose rangy style on the wing left many taking notes. He is a great size at 189cm and looks to have some agility, side stepping through traffic in the first quarter with ease. He has pace, flare and loves to carry the ball. He linked up creatively throughout the game and looked strong overhead when given the opportunity. I’d like to see what he offers on the inside down the track, but it was a pleasant first viewing of the Territorian.

MATTHEW McGUINESS, 192CM, 75KG, DEF
The skinny Tasmanian was a solid contributor for the Allies in defence, often being fed the ball to utilise his excellent decision making and lovely left foot. He has nice height at 192cm, but his light frame means he can easily be pushed off the ball. He plays to his strengths though and is smart enough to win the ball in areas that work for him. 16 of his 18 disposals were uncontested, so those numbers will naturally balance out as he fills out.

JOSH RAYNER, 192CM, 89KG, DEF (BOTTOM AGE)
Rayner already looks a player to keep an eye on for next year. He started the game in defence, generally manning a tall but at times playing loose in the hole. He provided some excellent intercept moments and wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line. He was moved forward later in the game and took a strong mark inside 50, before laying off to a teammate in a better position.

THOMAS GREEN, 188CM, 85KG, MID (BOTTOM AGE)
The big bodied bottom ager who is aligned with the GWS academy was arguably the Allies best on Sunday. He monstered the stoppages and statistical data, collecting game high disposals (30), contested possessions (20) and clearances (10). From a distance, you had to check the page twice to ensure he had a 2001 DOB, as he possessed the frame of an adult next to some of the 2000 top aged kids. He seemed to thrive on physical contact and will be a difficult matchup in the middle for the Allies.

BAXTER NORTON, 179CM, 75KG, DEF (19YO)
The 19 year old Tasmanian played a creative role behind the ball, often being released to utilise his good decisions and dangerous left foot. He is only small, but has the skills and vision to start chains and be influential. He moved further up the ground at times to have three inside 50 entrances, highlighted by an outstanding hit up in the third quarter that set up a goal.

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