The Tasmania Mariners hosted the GWS Giants Academy side at North Hobart Oval on Saturday 8th April. The Mariners had their scheduled match against the Brisbane Lions Academy side washed out last week, while the Giants were coming off a loss to the Gold Coast Suns Academy the week before. The Mariners were without Chayce Jones and Tarryn Thomas, while GWS were missing Charlie Spargo, Jarred Brander and Jack Powell, all through AFL Academy representative duties.
In a physical game where the ball was moved quickly, the Mariners contested across four quarters and drew within a goal with five minutes remaining in the match, but were unable to close the gap with the Giants running out 11 point winners, 14.4.88 to 12.5.77.
Here are the players that stood out from the rest:
LACHLAN CLIFFORD | TASSIE MARINERS
MIDFIELD | 18/02/1999 | 179CM | 77KG
The Mariners captain battled the bigger bodies of the Giants to win contested possessions in the midfield, and ran hard to receive on the outside all morning. Pushed forward just before half time to kick a crucial score-levelling goal from a 25m set shot, and slotted a long bomb from 50 out to put the Mariners ahead in the third quarter. However, it was his strength to break free of his opponent and kick a checkside goal late in the match to close the margin to under a goal that impressed the most. A complete game capped off with three goals from the young Kingborough Tigers midfielder.
NICHOLAS SHIPLEY | GWS ACADEMY
MIDFIELD | 25/06/1999 | 190CM | 90KG
Shipley is built like the modern-day midfielder, and his size and awareness allowed him to win some key clearances. He was a constant target in the middle of the ground whenever the Giants moved the ball out of defence, and took some clean marks under pressure, often delivering to a team mate in an outside position. His delivery by foot was a little off at times, but he had a big impact in many possession chains and won some good contests when the ball was in dispute. The St George product was clearly the standout midfielder for the Giants on the day.
ZACHARY BUECHNER | TASSIE MARINERS
FORWARD | 05/03/1998 | 192CM | 90KG
Buechner lined up as centre half forward and made an impression almost immediately, finding space in congestion to snap the opening goal from 35 metres out. He worked up the ground to take four marks in the first quarter, and contested well at ground level. The second quarter saw less of the ball up forward for the Mariners, but Buechner capitalised on a loose ball to snap a second goal, and remained mobile throughout the quarter. He was quieter in the third, but remained a target, and kicked a booming goal from outside 50 metres with two minutes to go in the final term. With clean hands and a high work rate in the forward half, the agile Clarence forward will be one to watch as the Tasmanian State League season unfolds.
TOM HIGHMORE | GWS ACADEMY
DEFENDER | 24/02/1998 | 192CM | 82KG
Medium-sized defender Highmore was solid across half-back for the Giants, intercepting a number of kicks into the Mariners’ forward 50. He was used as an attacking defender, often remaining composed when taking possession and running the ball through the middle, often using it efficiently. He ran forward to kick a goal of his own, capping off another strong Academy Series game for the draft prospect from the Canberra Demons.
HARRISON PEARCE | TASSIE MARINERS
FORWARD | 08/02/1998 | 177CM | 80KG
Started forward and applied pressure to keep the ball inside the forward 50 for most of the quarter, laying tackles and working hard to free up space for the tall forwards. Shifted between the forward and backline for the first half, earning a couple of free kicks by being first to the football and tackling whenever he wasn’t. Took a few strong overhead marks, as he did for Glenorchy in the first round of the TSL. Set up a goal for Buechner by drawing his man in the third quarter and kicked one of his own soon after. His ability to stay involved in the play for long periods of time through repeat efforts meant that he was one of the Mariners’ most influential players across four quarters.
ALEX PAECH | GWS ACADEMY
FORWARD | 17/06/1999 | 196CM | 99KG
Paech lined up at centre half forward, and in Brander’s absence, played well. The Murray Bushranger seemed to be the Giants’ main target up forward, and displayed clean hands when marking and confidence in his set shots. His goal in the third term from outside the 50 could best be described as booming, and his accuracy up forward in kicking three majors helped GWS to get on top of the Mariners, who were in the game until the final minute.
JAMES BRENNER | TASSIE MARINERS
MIDFIELDER | 15/04/1999 | 181CM | 77KG
Brenner started the match in the midfield, and laid two big tackles in the first term as the Mariners got on top of GWS early. He ran hard into the forward line and was rewarded with a set shot from 45 metres out, which he slotted to kick Tasmania’s third goal for the quarter. He continued to stay involved through the chains of possession through the middle, but pushed forward late in the final term for another set shot, which he missed. His tenacity throughout the match was impressive, and the Clarence inside midfielder could be one to keep an eye on, as his development from playing under 18’s football to TSL seniors in 2016 was a rapid one.
RILEY BUDD | GWS ACADEMY
DEFENDER | 20/08/1999 | 193CM |88KG
An attacking defender alongside Canberra Demons team mate Highmore, Budd had a decent number of touches, especially in the first half. Performed well on the Mariners’ forwards when the ball was coming into the 50 a lot early on, and was able to link out of defence for two disposals a number of times. A hardworking player who looked at home at this level, Budd was able to give the Giants mids clean use of the football through composed kicking to first options.
HUGH DIXON | TASSIE MARINERS
FORWARD | 26/02/1999 | 195CM | 92KG
Paired with Buechner as Tasmania’s other key forward, left footer Dixon caused the GWS defence plenty of trouble. Marked strongly and converted the subsequent 35 metre set shot early in the first quarter, and was involved in a number of ground level scraps for the football. Led up the ground in the second quarter to take two one-grab contested marks, sending the ball deep inside 50 with the follow up kicks. Was quieter in the third term, but kicked a crucial goal in the final quarter from another mark and set shot. Plays in a talent-stacked forward line at the Kingborough Tigers, so it will be interesting to see how Dixon progresses in the Tasmanian State League throughout 2017.
JAKE GAYNOR | GWS ACADEMY
MIDFIELDER | 02/06/1999 | 170CM | 65KG
In a side where half of the players are listed at being over 190cm, Gaynor certainly stands out. But what mostly stood out on Saturday was his attack on the football. Gaynor puts his head over the ball in the middle, and knows where to run to receive the ball in congestion. He received a number of free kicks by being first to the contest, and wasn’t fazed by some of the physical attention he received from a couple of opponents in the final quarter. He was involved in some of the key possession chains that led to goals in the first half, and disposed of the ball cleanly and quickly. Gaynor already has a senior premiership with the Wagga Tigers under his belt, so if there’s any question about his ability to compete against bigger bodies, it should be dispelled by the way he goes about his football.
OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS
Jake Hinds – Tassie Mariners
Toby Cowen – Tassie Mariners
Ryan Tyrell – Tassie Mariners
Josh Williams – Tassie Mariners
Tim Auckland – Tassie Mariners
Harrison Gunther – Tassie Mariners
Reed Stevens – GWS Academy
Daniel Cerni – GWS Academy
Laine Fitzgerald – GWS Academy
Connor Owen-Auburn – GWS Academy