TAC Cup draftees in NAB Challenge week 1
A handful of TAC Cup players selected in the 2015 AFL and Rookie Drafts made debuts for their new clubs in the weekend’s NAB Challenge matches, with several playing starring roles.
Darcy Tucker (pick no.27, AFL Draft - pictured) was particularly impressive for Fremantle in the Dockers’ 60-point win against Richmond in Mandurah on Friday night. The former North Ballarat Rebels captain had 21 disposals (15 kicks), eight marks, three rebound-50s and three tackles in just 62 per cent game time.
Tucker’s ex-North Ballarat teammate, the livewire Daniel Rioli (pick no.15, AFL Draft), appeared in the same game for Richmond, collecting four disposals in 83 per cent game time.
Hard-running Ryan Clarke (pick no.31, AFL Draft) starred for North Melbourne in the Kangaroos’ 44-point victory over St Kilda in Wangaratta on Saturday. The former Eastern Ranges midfielder helped himself to 13 disposals, six inside-50s and two goal assists in 70 per cent game time.
A pair of new Saints also made their first AFL appearances in the same game. Former Northern Knights captain and 2015 Vic Metro MVP Jade Gresham (pick no.18, AFL Draft) was busy in recording 11 disposals, four inside-50s and three tackles in 73 per cent game time, while ex-Murray Bushrangers key-position player Nick Coughlan (pick no.23, Rookie Draft) had eight disposals, three marks, three rebound-50s and four one-percenters in 88 per cent game time.
Two former TAC Cup stars represented the Brisbane Lions in Sunday’s 25-point loss to Gold Coast in Burpengary. Murray Bushrangers key forward and 2015 U18 Championships Division 1 MVP Josh Schache (pick no.2, AFL Draft) had five disposals and took four marks in a half of football, while Geelong Falcons hard-nut Rhys Mathieson (pick no.39, AFL Draft) collected 13 disposals, seven contested possessions and booted a goal.
They were arguably out-shone in the same game by Gold Coast’s Darcy MacPherson (pick no.21, Rookie Draft) though. The ex-Northern Knights small forward attacked contests with vigour, recording 12 disposals, eight contested possessions, an impressive 10 tackles and a goal.
Classy half back Tom Cole (pick no.36, AFL Draft) appeared for West Coast in the Eagles’ 100-point loss to Adelaide at Unley Oval, Adelaide on Sunday. The former Bendigo Pioneers playmaker had five disposals in 76 per cent game time.
Charlie Curnow (pick no.12, AFL Draft) played 43 per cent game time in Carlton’s 21-point loss to Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium on Thursday night. The ex-Geelong Falcons key forward had two disposals for the Blues.
Two speedy TAC Cup graduates also saw limited game time in Sydney’s 21-point defeat of Port Adelaide in Blacktown on Saturday. Former Northern Knights half back Tyrone Leonardis (pick no.51, AFL Draft) had six disposals for the Swans, while ex-Bendigo Pioneers forward Aidyn Johnson (pick no.45, AFL Draft) had six touches for the Power.