Knightmare's AFL draft wrap: Balta excites in blistering performance

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Bolton: Kelly has to be tagged (2:10)

Jude Bolton can't believe how much freedom Giants star Josh Kelly received from the Bombers on the weekend. (2:10)

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 - Noah Balta

Calder Cannons athlete, and potential first round selection, Noah Balta, 194cm, 92kg, put forward one of the weekend's most exciting performances and as a result will be shooting up club draft boards. Balta gathered 15 disposals, took eight marks (three contested), laid seven tackles, won six hitouts, kicked two goals and had a score assist.

Balta imposed himself on the game during key moments, kicking two important final quarter goals and playing an important part in Calder's second win of the season. Balta often leaped in pack situations to take marks and also came in from the side for an athletic intercept mark. Up forward on the lead, twice, he caught his opponent off balance by leading suddenly towards the ball, taking a powerful mark with his arms fully extended.

There were two or three dropped marks of varying difficulty that Balta should have taken, but overall he proved too difficult to defend on the lead with his size, acceleration, leap and marking at full stretch.

Balta's work around the ground was also highly impressive. He was clean with his ground ball pickups and also took on the game with his run, demonstrating excellent acceleration and agility, both of which are regular features of his game.

One key to Balta's game is his versatility. He is a threat up forward both as a ground level player and as a marking target. Down back he can take intercept marks, provide run and shut down opponents, while through the ruck he can outleap opponents. Some also speculate that he would be well suited to playing through the midfield due to his cleanness at ground level and power and agility.

To improve further, Balta would benefit from developing greater consistency from week to week, with his marking and kicking also not as consistent as they need to be.

TAC Cup:

Bottom ager, Lachlan Sholl, 185cm, 69kg, impressed down back with his intercept marking. Sholl collected 27 disposals, eight contested possessions, eight marks and one score assist.

Another bottom ager, Jack Bytel, 188cm, 79kg, was outstanding at stoppages, regularly winning first possession. He gathered 27 disposals, 15 contested possessions, six marks (one contested), seven tackles, 11 clearances and two score assists.

Mohammed Moustafa, 176cm, 72kg, while only collecting 15 disposals, 6 contested possessions, six marks and one score assist, had several noteworthy moments. His ground ball winning, acceleration, agility, evasiveness, ability to keep his feet and some of his low bullet-like kicks were exceptional.

The Firebrace brothers, bottom ager, Jake Firebrace, 169cm, 60kg, and Jesse Firebrace 164cm, 61kg, both excited with 13 and 10 disposals respectively. Jake's line breaking run and carry was exceptional with Jesse's forward pressure, crumbing and goalkicking also eye-catching. They're both exceptionally quick and possess good skills. Every time the pair is in the vicinity of the ball, the influence they exert is notable; with a sense of perceived pressure.

Nicholas Coffield continued his consistent form with 30 disposals, seven contested possessions and 10 marks (one contested). His composure with ball in hand and clean skills was once again a highlight.

Younger brother of Brisbane's Jarrod Berry, bottom ager, Thomas Berry, 184cm, 74kg was exceptional for Greater Western Victoria with 26 disposals, 14 contested possessions, eight tackles, eight centre clearances, 10 inside 50s and one score assist. Thomas Berry's contested ball winning, overhead marking and run were all features.

Standing out for his work rate and clean skills, Aidan Domic, 185cm, 81kg, amassed 34 disposals, seven contested possessions, eight marks, seven tackles, one goal and two score assists.

Providing meaningful outside run, Doulton Langlands, 187cm, 79kg, collected 16 disposals, eight contested possessions and one goal. Langlands possesses outstanding acceleration, classy ball use and finishing which was demonstrated with an impressive goal at speed after a 25m run from the wing,

Bottom ager, Zane Barzen, 191cm, 76kg, will be a prospect to watch in 2018. Barzen gathered 16 disposals, eight contested possessions, seven marks (two contested) and three goals. His sticky hands when marking overhead is a feature of the game.

Daniel Johnston, 196cm, 99kg, proved an imposing target close to goal with 11 disposals, three marks (two contested), nine hitouts and three goals. His one-on-one marking and pack marking were both very strong. Johnston will need to improve his endurance and agility to find his way onto club draft boards.

Angus Schumacher was again prolific for Bendigo with 26 disposals, 16 contested possessions, seven tackles and seven clearances.

In a breakout performance, Wade Donnan, 183cm, 87kg, was named Bendigo's best player with 16 disposals, seven contested possessions, five marks, 11 tackles, three goals and one score assist. In each of his three matches this season, Donnan has not dropped below 10 tackles.

Hunter Clark continued his consistent play, gathering 30 disposals, 14 contested possessions, eight tackles, and five inside 50s.

Strong bodied marking forward, Riley D'Arcy figured prominently up forward with 20 disposals, 12 contested possessions, seven marks (two contested), five tackles and three goals.

For Geelong, Bayley Cockerill, bottom ager Sam Walsh and Harry Benson were all prolific through the midfield with 31 disposals, 30 disposals and 27 disposals,respectively.

Adam Garner, 194cm, 93kg, made the most of the Geelong midfield dominance and finished with 14 disposals, 12 contested possessions, nine marks (seven contested), six goals and one score assist. Garner has played a strong month of football with 15 goals from his last four TAC Cup matches and with further improvement can push up draft boards.

In a complete performance that will see his draft stocks rise, Callum Porter amassed 36 disposals, 23 contested possessions, 10 marks (four contested), 12 tackles, eight clearances, five inside 50s and four goals.

Small midfielder, Will Stephenson was again lively with 25 disposals, 16 contested possessions, nine tackles, nine clearances, nine inside 50s and three score assists.

Jack Higgins was again damaging as a small forward with 15 disposals, nine marks, four goals and three score assists.

Providing a powerful target up forward, Toby Wooller collected 12 disposals, 10 contested possessions, six marks (five contested), two goals and four score assists.

Charlie Thompson, 183cm, 78kg, accumulated 32 disposals, eight contested possessions, nine marks (one contested), eight inside 50s, one goal and three score assists. Thompson, an inconsistent kick, showed improvement with 11 of his 14 kicks effective on the day.

Bottom ager Xavier O'Neill used the ball efficiently with 12 of his 16 kicks effective. He secured 25 disposals, seven contested possessions, eight inside 50s and one score assist.

Potential top-ten prospect, Cameron Rayner was impactful in his stints forward and through the midfield, gathering, 18 disposals, nine contested possessions, five clearances and three goals. Rayner had the equal most disposals for Western and led his side in contested possessions, clearances and goals.

Geordie Nagle, 185cm, 79kg, impressed down back for Sandringham with 32 disposals, 11 contested possessions, seven marks (one contested), five tackles and 11 rebound 50s.

This year's leading ruck prospect, Sam Hayes continued his dominant form with 23 disposals, 15 contested possessions, five marks (two contested), 41 hitouts, four clearances and one goal.

Thomas North, impressed through the midfield with 27 disposals, 17 contested possessions, six tackles, eight clearances, seven inside 50s and one score assist.

Athletic talent, Jaidyn Stephenson, contributed well for Eastern with 26 disposals, 12 contested possessions, eight marks, seven tackles, one goal and one score assist.

SANFL:

Reserves

Top ager and previous GWS Academy member, Lyndon Hupfeld, 192cm, 90kg, has continued his strong form down back with 32 disposals, seven marks and 11 rebound 50s.

Under-18

Son of Wayne, Jake Weidemann, 188cm, 73kg, put forward a promising performance with 23 disposals, seven marks and six tackles.

Ruckman James Siviour, 194cm, 84kg, continued to have an impact around the ground with 19 disposals, 11 marks and 29 hitouts.

WAFL

League

Mature age teammates Timothy Kelly and Haiden Schloithe turned in dominant performances in a 145-point thrashing. Kelly collected 35 disposals, nine marks and seven goals while Schloithe gathered 38 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and four goals. Schloithe and Kelly are among the most ready-to-go potential mature age recruits in the WAFL.

Colts

Eligible for the 2019 draft, Rhai-arn Cox made an impressive Colts debut. He was named East Perth's best player in a winning effort. Cox collected 17 disposals, six marks, eight tackles and three goals.

NEAFL

Top ager Mitch Maguire, 175cm, 72kg, previously a GWS Academy member, collected 31 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and two goals. He has been a staple in Canberra's midfield this season. This is his fifth match with 25 or more disposals for the classy, goalkicking midfielder.

Athletic utility, Nicholas Shipley, from the GWS Academy, 190cm, 90kg, showed promise with 16 disposals, nine marks and five clearances.