Oakleigh recorded its first win of the season against Eastern Ranges at IKON Park on Sunday. The Chargers got out to an early lead, but were pegged back to six points early in the fourth term before kicking away for a 21-point win.
There were plenty of notable performances from players looking to impress AFL recruiters. Here are some of the best players from the game.
JACK HIGGINS | OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
MID | 19/3/99 | 178CM | 76KG
Higgins demonstrated exactly why he is one of the highest rated midfield prospects in this year’s class. He found time and space consistently through the middle of the ground and invariably made good decisions with the ball. At one stage in the second quarter, he sprinted to collect the ball in between four Ranges players, who duly crunched him in a gang tackle. This showed Higgins’ toughness in contested situations, which has endeared him to AFL recruiters. Higgins spent time in the second half of the game playing as a deep forward. He was instrumental in the final quarter to hold off a late charge from Eastern, scoring one goal and creating another to seal victory.
JAIDYN STEPHENSON | EASTERN RANGES
FWD | 15/1/99 | 189CM | 76KG
Stephenson showed off the full range of his skills on Sunday. The spring-heeled forward’s marking was a feature of the game. The anticipation and timing of his leaps were spot-on and made it extremely difficult for defenders to spoil the ball. Stephenson also showed he is no slouch when the ball comes to feet. He is agile enough to win the ball or apply pressure at ground level. He finished the game with three goals.
TOBY WOOLLER | OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
FWD | 16/3/99 | 193CM | 90KG
The Chargers skipper was dominant in the first half, where he booted all four of his goals. He should have had another in the first quarter, but he elected to play on following a mark on the goal line and had his kick touched. He also gave a handball off to Matthew Day rather than shoot from 40m out straight in front for another of Oakleigh’s goals. Wooller flew for everything in the Chargers forward 50, where his imposing physical presence menaced the Ranges defence. Wooller also spent time at centre bounces in the last quarter, indicating that Oakleigh may try and utilise him further up the ground as the year progresses.
SAM HAYES | EASTERN RANGES
RUC | 9/6/99 | 203CM | 93KG
The mobile ruckman was one of Eastern’s best performers, especially in the first half. He was strong in ruck contests, but did his best work around the ground. Hayes collected plenty of the ball through the middle of the ground, where he showed he is unusually comfortable with ball in hand for a big man. Oakleigh’s reduced output in the middle when Hayes rested forward was noticeable. His influence also fell away toward the end of the game, perhaps as a result of being worked over by Oakleigh’s more heavily built duo of Anthony Jenkins and Nathan White. As a forward, Hayes competed well, but didn’t bring in as many marks as he’d have liked. If he can add this extra dimension to his game it will affirm his status as one of the hottest ruck prospects in this year’s draft.
MATTHEW DAY | OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
MID | 1/4/99 | 189CM | 78KG
I left IKON Park some time ago, but there’s every chance that Day is still running around out there. He didn’t stop at any stage during the game and was rewarded with plenty of possessions in a stand-out performance. Day worked well in tandem with Higgins early in the game, but went up another level in the second half when Higgins spent more time up forward. His heat map would resemble an Irish backpacker’s skin following an afternoon at St.Kilda beach, as he assisted his defence with rebounding work and hit the scoreboard up forward. Day comes from a basketball background, which is evident in his slick work in traffic and good decision-making.
JOEL GARNER | EASTERN RANGES
MID | 21/5/99 | 183CM | 81KG
Garner performed below his usual high standards in the first half of the game. The Ranges captain was clearly frustrated by his own and his team’s performance and he channelled this into plenty of aggression. He may have taken it a step too far in the second quarter when he shoved an Oakleigh player across the boundary line into the fence. He was moved out of the midfield onto a half-back flank in the third term and was much more effective. Garner found more of the ball and use his damaging left-foot kicks to open up the Charger’s defence.
Other notable performers: Adam Cerra (EAS), Dylan Moore (EAS), Nathan Boucher (OAK), Noah Answerth (OAK), Jordan Lynch (EAS), Louis Cunningham (OAK).