No Spargo, no worries. The Bushies got the job done in a scrappy and low scoring affair over a wasteful Gippsland line-up on Saturday afternoon. The Power registered 1.6 including several other squandered opportunities to three-quarter time, but ultimately Murray was better around the ground in their 23-point win.
Murray was without three of their best in Charlie Spargo, Daniel Johnstone and Alex Paech, enabling many of their other talented players to stand up in their absence. Gippsland’s Tyrone Hayes – arguably their best draft prospect – also didn’t play.
Here’s some of the lads that fared a lot better than my 2-minute stint on TAC Cup Radio on Saturday:
Jordon Butts | Key DEF/FWD | 195cm | 80kg
Best player on the ground for mine. Butts’ marking ability in defence was phenomenal in the first half, taking a number of intercepts marks with his reading of the play showing through. He backed this up in the next half up forward with his pace allowing him to take several marks on the lead. Couldn’t convert his set shots – spraying one in true backman fashion.
He is an extremely versatile prospect who is fantastic at ground level and clean below his knees – watching this part of his game, it’s hard to believe he is 195cm! Butts can be used at both ends of the ground – adding to his versatility – but he is probably better suited down back. We’ll definitely hear and ‘see more’ (of) Butts throughout the rest of this year.
Ben Paton | DEF | 185cm | 78kg
Paton is hard as nails and was probably just behind Butts in terms of best on ground honours. The half-back flanker disregarded his own safety a number of times to fly across packs and take crucial intercept marks, highlighting both his gutsy nature and his magnificent reading of the play. Paton’s kicking on both sides was also a feature throughout, turning defence into attack with his run and driving the ball effectively into dangerous positions with his kick. He is no slouch defensively either, laying a number of tackles with his large frame. Paton is an over-ager and it showed, proving to be one of the coolest heads in an ugly match-up.
Harrison Jones | MID | 183cm | 79kg
Jones played predominately in the guts on the weekend and didn’t disappoint. The Bushies #27 was regularly seen getting first possession from stoppages, showing fantastic poise in traffic. Had no trouble finding the footy all day and was one of the leading disposal getters on the ground, with the majority of these won contested. When Jones wasn’t in the middle he was resting in the backline, where he did not have as much influence.
Jones is a fierce competitor and a ball magnet, but his hard work does go unnoticed at times due to his average disposal by foot. If he can sure up this part of his game, he will become a much bigger name in draft circles later in the year.
Dave Smith | MID/FWD | 180cm | 74kg
The lad with one of the most generic names in the competition is very good to watch. Smith has explosive speed, showing this in particular through a breathtaking run up the wing late in the game. The small forward-cum-midfielder also has impressive evasive skills, able to get around defenders and slip tackles with ease despite his slender frame.
Kicked a nice crumbing goal in the second half from a rushed half chance, but missed a couple of other chances – one of those being a set shot that didn’t make the distance from 40m.
Xavier Duursma | MID | 184cm | 70kg
Duursma was the Power’s best on Saturday – no mean feat considering he is yet to turn 17. Played in the middle for the majority of proceedings and used the ball well on both sides of his body, serving up a couple of kicks on a platter inside 50 to his forwards. Duursma has great hands overhead, taking a number of marks around the ground. His follow-up efforts were promising as well and he just about led from the front for his side, which says a lot for a bottom-ager.
Definitely one to watch for 2018.
Nick Hogan | MID | 175cm |78kg
Hogan started the game like a house on fire, winning clearances with his big body and spreading from stoppages with pace. Put simply, Hogan is a midfield bull and at one stage in the first quarter he pulled off a fend-off that Dustin Martin would have been proud of. Hogan faded out pretty significantly, which does put a question mark over his tank. Nonetheless, his natural strength and ability in the coalface suggests he is one to keep a close eye on this season. In saying this, AFL clubs have been tentative with players of Hogan’s height in the past.
Changkuoth Jiath | UTILITY | 185cm | 74kg
Some of the things this kid does would certainly pique the interest of draft scouts across the country. Jiath produced a mixed bag on the weekend, though, often displaying an act of brilliance, then following it straight up with an error. The thing that he provides is a spark, with pace to burn and a knack for taking on the game. While this a great asset, Jiath was caught holding the ball several times on the weekend. Jiath’s marking and speed as a leading forward was impressive, but he will have to work on his decision making and set shots on goal – kicking 0.3 and one out on the full on Saturday.
One thing’s for sure, he doesn’t need to wear those orange boots – he’s eye-catching enough as it is.
Sean Masterson | Key DEF/FWD | 195cm | 78kg
Masterson was solid in defence early but made his mark on the game in attack. The big man took two huge pack marks close to goal, one in particular that was dubbed as a ‘Footy Prophet Mark of the Day’ contender by TAC Cup Radio. He slotted these two set shots as any good forward should, meaning Masterson kicked half of Gippsland’s goals. This backed up his competitive first half in defence, where he battled manfully on Hudson Garoni until he was injured. Masterson is a light build but the over-ager can certainly mark a footy.
Other players of note: Angus Hicks (MB), Jessy Wilson, (MB), Callum Porter (GP), Nicholas Richards (MB), Julian Patterson (GP), Joe Richards (MB)