The talented Geelong Falcons continued their strong start to the season, recording a comprehensive victory over Eastern Ranges away from home. Eastern were in it up to half-time thanks to inaccurate kicking from the Falcons, but the barnstorming Geelong side got on top from then on, with Eastern providing little resistance. The Falcs sit undefeated on top of the ladder with a monster percentage of 242 after four rounds. On the other side of the ledger, Ranges have dropped to 9th and are now at a disappointing 1-3.
The matchup had a number of potential draftees, with James Worpel in particular stealing the show.
Let’s have a look at who shone at Bayswater Oval:
James Worpel | Geelong Falcons
Inside midfielder | 185cm | 84kg
Put simply, James Worpel is a contested beast. I would say he took out best on ground honours yesterday, with his nous in the coalface and his defensive pressure a delight to watch. A few of the Ranges players will be feeling the pinch of Worpel’s tackles today, or perhaps even later in the week. Worpel is a ferocious tackler when he can’t get his hands on the footy himself, with an imposing number of follow-up defensive efforts yesterday. Had the Sherrin on a string as well, showing explosive pace from stoppages and good hands inside. Recorded some ripping disposals by foot after winning clearances. Capped off his emphatic day at the office with a late goal. His draft stocks are rising by the game.
Gryan Miers | Geelong Falcons
Small forward/mid | 177cm | 73kg
Gryan Miers is a nippy small forward with plenty of class and a hard edge. Perhaps Miers’ biggest highlight yesterday was his defensive pressure, corralling the Ranges defence well and putting on several crucial smothers and tackles. Miers reminds me of Luke Dahlhaus – and not just because of his dreadlocks. Miers kicked the clear goal of the day yesterday, selling candy on the half forward flank and taking two bounces before putting it through the big sticks on the run from 30m. That was just one of his three goals, constantly buzzing around the forward fifty looking likely.
Cassidy Parish | Geelong Falcons
Inside midfielder | 190cm | 84kg
Forms one of the best one-two-punch midfields in the league with teammate James Worpel. Parish is a Rolls Royce, with time seeming to stand still when he is near the footy. His work in traffic is elite and his ability to win the footy in the clinches is up to AFL standard. Parish’s strong frame and height helps him win the footy in tight and distribute to teammates on the outside. The one big question on the lips of recruiters is his kicking, which at times overshadowed his efforts at stoppages yesterday. We saw similar with Ranges ball-winner Dylan Clarke last year, who slipped to pick 63 due to his poor kicking. If he can sure up this part of his game, he will be very highly sought after.
Sam Hayes | Eastern Ranges
Ruck | 203cm | 93kg
Possibly the best ruckman in this year’s draft pool, Sam Hayes’ draft stocks certainly weren’t hindered by his performance yesterday. Hayes dominated the hit-outs and when he could, he was able to grab the ball out of the ruck and win crucial clearances for his side. He creates a contest around the ground as well, taking a couple of strong overhead marks early. Can’t believe this kid is 18 – he is massive. Unfortunately, Sam Hayes injured himself late in the second quarter and didn’t return to the field, leaving the ground and returning with a bandage on his knee late in the piece. Appeared more precautionary than anything, though. Hayes is one of my favourites in this year’s draft and we should hear his name a lot more in the coming months.
Harrison Nolan | Eastern Ranges
Key defender | 195cm | 93kg
Harrison Nolan was tasked with the job of Tom McCartin – brother of St Kilda’s Paddy for most of the day and beat him with ease. Nolan is a fantastic marking defender – a type of player that every AFL club needs. He isn’t afraid to play in front and go full pelt at the footy, reading the play to perfection to cut off long, dangerous kicks inside fifty. Nolan clunked four intercept marks in the second quarter alone, using his strength and strong hands to get the edge over his opponent. Considering the goal-kicking form McCartin is in, Nolan’s effort was even more impressive.
Jordon Reid | Geelong Falcons
Key Forward | 194cm | 99kg
While many eyes were on his tall teammate Tom McCartin, Jordon Reid proved to be the best of the Falcons’ tall timber up forward yesterday. His first half, in particular, was very impressive booting the two goals and taking some brilliant contested marks. Could have gotten a better return if he had kicked straight, missing a couple of kickable set shots. Did some good things while pinch hitting in the ruck as well, particularly in the second half when Sam Hayes was off.
Other notable contributors: David Handley (GF), Bayley Cockerill (GF), Jaidyn Stephenson (ER), Luke Woodward (ER), Liam Noble (GF), Tom North (ER)