Around the Grounds: August 24

A host of Werribee-listed players put forward their case for a VFL finals call up last weekend as local footy seasons officially reached the pointy end. Find out who impressed.

Geelong FL

Silky half-back Keegan Gray was close to best on ground in Bell Park’s 167-point thrashing of North Shore at Hamlyn Park. His trademark dash from defence and clean foot skills were once again highlights of his game. Gray has featured at VFL level on eight occasions this season, is fit and firing and a defensive/midfield option if required. The Dragons, also home to Aiden Domic, finished sixth and missed out on finals by percentage.

Hard-nosed small Max Augerinos continued his strong form for St Mary’s in the Saints’ 33-point win over Leopold. The 22-year-old was one of his side’s best, with his work inside a feature. Augerinos was a VFL regular until round 14 when injury struck, and despite performing strongly over the past month at local level, has found it tough to break into a settled Werribee lineup. St Mary’s finished the Geelong FL regular season in fifth and will face off with Leopold in an elimination final.

Ruck-forward Jack Berry impressed in Leopold’s reserves’ 41-point loss to St Mary’s, kicking two goals and pinch-hitting in the ruck effectively. The 23-year-old big man has played 11 VFL games this season, but untimely niggles and the emergence of young talls Darcy Bennett and Tylar Watts has seen him out of the senior side since round 14. The Lions will meet the Saints in a do-or-die final on the weekend.

Reliable defender Ben McNamara had a quieter day at the office in St Joseph’s 103-point rout of Geelong West Giants. Since his sole VFL game in round five, McNamara has been one of the most consistent Werribee-listed players at local level but has found it tough to break into a rock solid defensive unit. The Joeys finished second on the Geelong FL ladder and will face Newtown & Chilwell in a qualifying final as they chase a rare three-peat.

Developing ruckman Darcy Bennett battled manfully in Lara’s 20-point loss to St Albans. It’s been a tough season for the Cats who have languished in the bottom two, but Bennett’s consistent form has been a shining light. The tall 22-year-old has impressed in six VFL games and in the AFL Victoria Young Guns Series and is in contention to feature in the finals if Werribee’s match committee opt for two genuine ruckmen.

Western Region FL

Versatile forward Oscar Junker’s rich vein of form continued in Werribee Districts’ eight-goal win over Sunshine, with the former North Melbourne rookie booting four majors, taking his season tally to 27 from 15 games. The Tigers finished fifth and will play Hoppers Crossing in an elimination final on Sunday at Avalon Airport Oval.

Baxter Norton was arguably Spotswood’s best in its 21-goal blitz of Caroline Springs. Norton kicked two majors and had a hand in seven score involvements. The crafty left-footer has played five times at VFL level in his debut season including four on the trot between rounds 12-15. His ability to play multiple positions may work in his favour if an opportunity presents itself. Spotswood have secured a double chance after finishing second. Brydan Hodgson is available for selection after almost two months on the sidelines following elbow surgery.

Essendon District FL

First-year midfielder Jack Watkins has now strung five game together since a foot injury sidelined him for three months. He was a strong performer in Avondale Heights’s 79-point win over bottom side Airport West. The teenager found plenty of the ball and setup multiple scoreing opportunities. With one round remaining, Avondale can’t play finals but can jump as high as seventh if they win.

Talented utility Hamish Murphy has been a class above at U19 Premier Division level for Avondale Heights over the past month, and put in another best on ground display in his side’s 12-goal victory over East Keilor. The versatile left-footer racked up the footy at will and drifted forward to kick two goals. Murphy has qualified for Avondale’s U19s finals campaign which kicks off in a fortnight.

Ballarat FL

Neither Nick Stuhldreier (Bacchus Marsh) or Scott Carlin (Lake Wendouree) will feature in local finals but the pair have both enjoyed productive seasons at local level with their respective clubs. Carlin once again was named in Lake Wendouree’s best in a heavy defeat at the hands of Sebastopol, while Stuhldreier again impressed on the inside in Bacchus Marsh’s 65-point loss to Sunbury.

Goulburn Valley FL

Dependable defender Matthew Brett stood tall in Shepparton’s nail-biting four-point victory over Tatura, impressing with his effective rebound and physicality in the contest. The Bears finished third on the GVFL ladder and will meet Tatura again this week in a qualifying final. Forward Tom Boyd missed last week with a fractured finger but is a chance to return.

Hampden FL

It was a tough day for Tylar Watts’ Portland who went down to Warrnambool by 89 points, but the athletic teenager showed his flexibility in a new role down back. Portland finished ninth and will not play finals.

AARON FETTER

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