On a beautiful sunny afternoon, Collingwood’s Victoria Park hosted the Northern Knights for a series of practice matches against the Oakleigh Chargers. After the U16 sides and the U18 ‘Possibles’ slugged it out, the U18 ‘Probables’ took the stage with the Knights coming away with an impressive victory. The scores for the game weren’t officially noted, however, there was no doubt which side came out on top, with the Knights showcasing a number of players that we will no doubt hear more about as the season unfolds. Here are the day’s key performers.
DEF/MID | 179cm | 74kg | NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Penrith played the first half through the midfield and showed that there is plenty there for him to build on during the year. He wanted the ball in his hands, and disposed of it cleanly by both hand and foot. He was visibly looking to slow the pace down and really nail his kicking – an area that has been highlighted as one for improvement. In the second half he was moved back to his familiar defensive role and he really shone. Broke lines with his run on the rebound, demonstrated plenty of skill in traffic, and performed his defensive duties well.
MID | 184cm | 78kg | NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Another ex-AIS Academy basketballer who has chosen to focus on footy, Petruccelle marked himself as another to watch closely this year. He spent the majority of the game on the wing and half-back flank with some time at half-forward late on, and really looked to take the game on at any opportunity. Great on the ball, he demonstrated his athleticism with a couple of surging runs up the wing and showed fantastic agility, spinning through congestion. He overcooked a number of his kicks inside 50, but in general, his distribution was good.
MID | 183cm | 69kg | NORTHERN KNIGHTS
A smooth-moving outside midfielder, who was another contributor in the constant waves of Knights attacks. Lentini showed some real improvement towards the end of his bottom-aged year for the Knights, and looks to be heading in the right direction for this year. He knows how to find the footy, and demonstrated some good hand skills in congestion. Lentini also showed potential for impacting the scoreboard kicking a beautiful early set shot after taking a good mark inside 50.
MID | 189cm | 79kg | NORTHERN KNIGHTS
One of the Knights’ best on the day, and a very interesting prospect. After missing his bottom aged year in 2015 through illness and injury, Binion showed some form in his top-age season last year as a forward. Overlooked in the draft, he has returned to the Knights as an over-age player and cut a fine figure through the middle of the ground. His contested work was very good, and his agility enabled to move well through the picks before hitting team-mates with accuracy. A nice snap goal in the third quarter rounded off a very nice performance.
DEF/FWD | 189cm | 84kg | NORTHERN KNIGHTS
It was a very eyecatching performance from Naylor, who impressed at both ends of the ground, and even showed flashes in the middle. Starting across the backline, Naylor impressed with his dogged pressure, taking a number of intercept marks, and a number of smothers – one of which he held onto before calmly handballing to a teammate in space, to launch another Knights attack. Naylor was moved forward in the second half, and he showed another side to his game by snagging two late goals, and competing strongly. Big bodied, quick and with good hands and big left boot, he ticks a lot of boxes. If he develops an inside game, which he hinted at, he could be a big bolter this year.
FWD | 194cm | 84cm | OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
It was a tough gig for Wooller, who found himself isolated at times in a side that was well beaten. He was involved early on, demonstrating his elite endurance as he continually stretched the Knights defence as he looked to create options forward. He has grown slightly over the summer, which makes him an even more appealing prospect, yet his work below his knees was still on point. He was moved into the defensive half for a spell in the third quarter and didn’t look too out of place, taking a couple of marks and distributing the ball reasonably well.
DEF | 182cm | OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Oakleigh’s best for the day was probably Ed Richards. The medium defender’s work-rate was exemplary all game, as he defended stoutly with a number of marks and spoils in the defensive 50, and demonstrated genuine speed in a couple of chase down tackles. He was calm under pressure, showed great anticipation and game awareness, and used the ball well. Quick and agile, he could be one to keep an eye on as the year progresses.