Knightmare's AFL draft wrap: Bailey a contested beast

Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Christopher Doerre - aka Knightmare - casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Aside from the weekly wrap, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month.

And as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.

Player focus

Northern Territory midfielder, Zac Bailey, 180cm, 66kg, elevated his draft stocks at the weekend after playing arguably the most exciting football from the AFL Under-18 trial matches.

Bailey, who lined up for the Allies against Victoria Country, stood out with his contested ball winning ability and acceleration with ball in hand. He regularly won first possession at stoppages, while showing he can break away from congestion and work through traffic with his agility and evasiveness.

On the outside, Bailey broke the lines, providing meaningful run-and-carry and was also regularly targeted from kickouts.

Bailey's 18 disposals, eight contested possessions, four marks, eight tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and one goal are strong numbers in what was a tough trial match.

The only criticism of Bailey's game was that he kicked backwards a little too frequently, often unnecessarily.

AFL Under-18 Trial matches

Game 1 - Victoria Country vs. Allies

Victoria Country

Cassidy Parish had the most disposals for the day finishing with 30, including eight contested possessions. He also took five marks, won three clearances and provided two score assists. The negatives are that Parish's impact was low, being involved but not doing anything damaging. His kicking also was poor with only three of his 11 kicks effective.

Bottom ager, Zane Barzen, 191cm, 76kg, had several positive moments through the third quarter. He took two intercept marks across half-forward in the space of a couple of minutes and also courageously, keeping his eyes on the ball, took a mark just moments before colliding with the goal post.

Allies

Sam Davidson, 180cm, 70kg, from the Gold Coast Academy showed some star qualities with his freakish clean ground ball pickups, often at speed. He is strikingly fast with ball in hand and also seemed to possess strength through the hips as he often absorbed tackles. Davidson accumulated 18 disposals, including seven contested possessions, but will need to work on his inconsistent kicking. So much so as he appeared reluctant to kick at times.

Tasmanian, Jake Hinds, 183cm, 79kg, showed real promise. He took the kick outs for the Allies, often playing on and running or hitting up targets. Hinds also showed some variety by foot, with one low drilling pass to a target particularly notable.

Game 2 - Victoria Metro vs. Allies

Victoria Metro

While his nine disposals, four inside 50s, one goal and one score assist are modest numbers, Jack Petruccelle was impactful at stages - at one point leaping for an impressive mark, another time kicking an instinctive snapped goal. He also impressed with a chasing effort where he almost mowed down the man with the ball, coming from some distance back.

Allies

Doulton Langlands' work rate was as high as any in the day's action. He ran from half back to half forward, to the wing on the other side of the field and then pushed back again, all in the one play, covering in excess of 100 metres in one sequence without slowing. On another play, Langlands ran with ball in hand 20m in the back 50m arc, kicked short to a target, then ran in support from half-back to half-forward. While the 187cm, 79kg, GWS Academy member only had the 10 disposals, he provided run with ball in hand and kicked long.

Connor Ballenden, 199cm, 95kg, from the Brisbane Academy had some positive moments, winning more ruck taps than he lost, taking the ball himself from stoppages and driving the ball forward by foot. He also picked up some ground balls cleanly and took several strong marks. Ballenden collected 15 disposals, three marks (two contested), 19 hitouts, six inside 50s and two score assists. He is likely to feature in the first round of this year's AFL Draft as a ruckman/key forward.

VFL vs. WAFL

VFL

Top ager, Tom O'Sullivan, a 183cm, 79kg midfielder was one of the few who impressed for Victoria, claiming the Frank Johnson Medal for the VFL's best player. He gathered 28 disposals (24 handballs), six tackles, six clearances and one goal.

Ex-Port Adelaide defender, Cameron O'Shea also showed strong signs in what was a disappointing display from the home team. O'Shea collected 25 disposals, laid four tackles and used the ball cleanly.

WAFL

Jonathon Marsh started in the midfield but was shifted back to cover for key defender Kyle Anderson who got hurt before quarter time. Marsh had only the 10 disposals and three tackles, but the early signs through the midfield were impressive. Marsh demonstrated explosiveness, won the ground balls, proved difficult to tackle at his size and alsO, at one point, spun out of trouble in traffic. Marsh is averaging 29 disposals, six tackles and five marks in the WAFL and is good enough to transition into an AFL midfield.

Speedy midfielder, Tim Kelly, a 183cm, 83kg, 22-year-old collected 24 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and nine inside 50s. He is being spoken about as a possible mature age choice in this year's draft and did his chances no harm. He is a powerful ball winner through the midfield who provides pressure around the football. Kelly also takes on the game with his run and can push forward and hit the scoreboard, demonstrated by his three goals in round eight and two goals in round nine.

Ex-Pie, Jye Bolton, was all class with 24 disposals, six inside 50s and one goal, which came on the run from 55m after he had run 15m at full speed. He is a ready-to-go AFL midfielder who just requires another AFL opportunity.

Haiden Schloithe, the former Docker, showed AFL qualities with 18 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and three goals. His forward pressure and tackling was a highlight and with his versatility to play midfield or forward, appears a ready-to-go player who could slip straight into an AFL side.

Ben Saunders, a 187cm, 92kg, 25-year-old forward relished the occasion. He collected 16 disposals, eight marks, and kicked six goals. However, despite his bag of goals, he was wasteful, kicking seven behinds. Saunders took home the Simpson medal as Western Australia's best player, and was clearly the game's most dominant. Saunders has kicked 20 goals from his nine WAFL games so far and is one of the WAFL's most prolific goalkickers in past seasons, kicking 59 goals in 2016.

SANFL

League

In the mix for this year's top overall draft selection, powerful utility, Darcy Fogarty, 190cm, 86kg, collected 12 disposals and four marks.

Alex Martini, 180cm, 74kg, who plays as a defender and midfielder, accumulated 13 disposals. He has played seven League games this season, averaging 15 disposals per game.

Mitch Crowden, 174cm, 82kg, is one of South Australia's most advanced and powerful ball-winning midfielders. He picked up 12 disposals, took four marks and kicked a goal.

Top ager, Steven Slimming, 182cm, 73kg, has elevated his game in recent weeks with 24 disposals, five marks, and seven inside 50s at the weekend. This is the second consecutive week he has featured among Sturt's best players.

Reserves

Top ager, Lyndon Hupfeld, 192cm, 90kg, previously part of GWS Academy, has continued to perform with 26 disposals, 11 marks, six rebound 50s. He appears ready to take the next step up to League play.

Coopey Gaffney, 178cm, 68kg, collected 29 disposals, six inside 50s and one goal through the midfield. Gaffney has built a reputation as a ball-winning midfielder who loves to tackle.

Under-18

Josh Smithson, 184cm, 81kg, continued his consistent form through the midfield with an imposing 33 disposals, four marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and three goals.

James Siviour, 194cm, 84kg, was again prominent through the ruck with 30 disposals, 10 marks and 27 hitouts. Siviour is a versatile tall who possesses striking agility and ground level skills for someone of key position size.

Nathan Kreuger, 194cm, 84kg, showed promise up forward with 21 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles, nine inside 50s and three goals.

NEAFL

Top ager and former Brisbane Academy midfielder, Jack Rolls, 182cm, 72kg, backed up last week's performance with 27 disposals, seven marks, seven tackles, five clearances, seven inside 50s and one goal. Rolls has featured in the bests for Redland in three of his four games.

Mature ager Jordan Keras, a 181cm, 23-year-old midfielder amassed 36 disposals, six tackles, 11 clearances and seven rebound 50s. Keras astonishingly has yet to drop below 30 disposals this season.