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HFNL AFL Wrap: Finals, Week 1


Week 1 of the AFL finals delivered ecstasy for some of our local exports and heartbreak for others.

The first of our exports to feature over the weekend was Sam Walsh, with his Carlton side recording a spirited win over Sydney at the MCG on Friday evening.

The Blues hit the front early and held off a surging Swans to win their first final in 10 years, with Walsh playing a key role for the victors.

The midfielder had a game-high 28 possessions, laid six tackles, had six clearances and sent the ball inside 50 nine times in a best on ground performance.

Walsh and Carlton will now meet the Demons in the semi-final at the MCG on Friday night, with the winner to play Brisbane for a spot in the decider.

The following day saw Rowan Marshall’s strong season come to an end when St Kilda was defeated by GWS Giants at the MCG.

The Giants kicked out to an early lead and rarely looked troubled as they strolled to a 24 point victory, with Marshall one of the Saints best.

He was dominant across the ground as he collected 31 touches, 18 hit-outs and nine clearances to go alongside a goal.

Giant Toby McMullin missed out on selection in the victory.

The final game saw Brisbane Lions and Hugh McCluggage square off against Port Adelaide Power featuring Willem Drew and Ken Hinkley at the GABBA.

McCluggage and the Lions got the last laugh as they stormed to a 48 point victory, booking a home preliminary final in the process.

The South export was prolific for Brisbane, finishing the contest with 26 touches, nine clearances and a goal, while Drew played a key role for the Power in nullifying Lachie Neale’s influence, restricting him to 19 touches while collecting 20 disposals himself.

The Power will now meet the Giants at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, with the victor to face Collingwood at the MCG in the preliminary final.

Meanwhile, Josh Corbett and Peel Thunder will have to qualify for the WAFL Grand Final via the preliminary final after losing the second semi-final to East Fremantle. The Thunder went down by five points in a thrilling game, with Corbett kicking a goal from five possessions.

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 24


The final round of the AFL season came to a close last week, with our local exports enduring mixed fortunes amongst their clubs.

Bombers skipper Zach Merrett’s year ended on a disappointing note with Essendon easily beaten by Collingwood.

The midfielder produced a big performance, racking up 36 touches, six inside 50s and five tackles, and almost capped off his night with two goals.

Hugh McCluggage and Rowan Marshall went head-to-head at the GABBA, with McCluggage’s Lions proving too strong for St Kilda as both sides had one last match before the start of finals next week.

McCluggage collected 21 disposals, three clearances, five inside 50s and kicked a goal in the victory, while Marshall produced another dominant display in the ruck for the Saints, finishing with 27 hit-outs, 24 possessions, seven marks and five tackles.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan kicked a goal in the Western Bulldogs win over Geelong but his season ended after GWS Giants defeated Carlton the following day.

The Dogs forward also had 11 touches and four marks in the triumph.

Jamaine Jones capped off one of his best seasons at the elite level yet, kicking a goal in West Coast’s season-ending defeat to Adelaide.

The defender also had 13 touches and six rebound 50s for the Eagles.

Koroit product Willem Drew was influential in Port Adelaide’s win over Richmond.

The midfielder recorded 20 possessions, six clearances, eight tackles and four inside 50s in a solid outing ahead of a qualifying contest on September 9.

The final game between Carlton and GWS Giants saw Sam Walsh make his return from injury for the Blues against Giant Toby McMullin.

Walsh had 28 disposals, six clearances and six inside 50s for the Blues, while McMullin collected three touches and one inside 50 before he was tactically subbed in the third quarter.

Sean Darcy (Fremantle), Gary Rohan (Geelong) and Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne) did not feature due to injury or retirement, while Josh Corbett (Fremantle) had a monster game in the WAFL, kicking 5.3 from 14 touches for Peel Thunder.

Meanwhile, Zach Merrett added to his growing resume with another All-Australian blazer.

The Cobden export was named on the bench of this year’s team which was announced on Wednesday evening.

Portland product Rowan Marshall was unlucky to be named in the final team after originally being included in the 44 man squad.

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 23


IT was another big weekend of performances from our AFL exports as the home and away season draws closer to a finish.

Hugh McCluggage and the Brisbane Lions went one step closer to earning a home qualifying final with a 24 point win over Collingwood.

The midfielder finished with 20 touches, seven inside 50s, five clearances and three tackles.

Toby McMullin tasted victory for the first time as the GWS Giants triumphed easily over Essendon.

McMullin kicked 1.1 from five touches after coming on as the substitute in the third quarter.

Rowan Marshall’s claims for All Australian selection suffered no harm as the ruckman produced another big game for St Kilda in their victory over Geelong.

The big man kicked a goal from 24 touches and added 28 hit-outs and six inside 50s in a dominant display.

Zach Merrett finished with 27 touches for the Bombers, with the skipper also finishing with seven clearances and five tackles.

Jamaine Jones contributed to West Coast’s upset victory against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.

Jones finished with 13 touches, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s across half-back for the Eagles, while fellow export Jamarra Ugle-Hagan had a quieter outing for the Bulldogs, finishing with 1.1 from seven touches.

Willem Drew was once again productive for Port Adelaide in the Power’s win over Fremantle.

Drew racked up 18 touches, claimed seven clearances and laid four tackles to keep the Power’s chances of a top two spot alive.

Meanwhile, Josh Corbett did not feature at either AFL or WAFL level, Sam Walsh is still recovering from injury and is expected to return this week, Gary Rohan missed Geelong’s loss and is likely out for the remainder of the year, while Sean Darcy’s season ended in July and Ben Cunnington has retired.

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 18


OUR Hampden league exports once again produced big performances but their club’s fortunes were varied across the latest round of the AFL.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Hugh McCluggage were both a part of close games to start the round although both players unfortunately ended up on losing sides.

Ugle-Hagan kicked 1.2 from 11 touches for the Western Bulldogs in their narrow two point loss to Sydney at the SCG last Thursday night, before McCluggage and the Brisbane Lions lost to Melbourne at the MCG by the barest of margins with McCluggage collecting 22 disposals.

The following day, Sean Darcy sustained an ankle injury in Fremantle’s loss to Collingwood, with the big man subbed out in the third quarter. He had recorded nine possessions, laid five tackles and won 24 hit-outs prior to his injury.

Rowan Marshall was one of St Kilda’s best despite his side going down to the Gold Coast Suns at Gold’s Coast’s Heritage Bank Stadium. Marshall had 19 touches, 26 hit-outs and kicked a goal for the Saints.

Willem Drew and his Port Adelaide team-mates tasted defeat for the first time in 14 matches, with the Power falling to Sam Walsh Carlton at Marvel Stadium. Drew was busy through the midfield, collecting 27 touches, six clearances, six inside 50s and laying eight tackles, while Walsh racked up 23 possessions and six tackles for the Blues.

 Zach Merrett’s 200th game ended in disappointing fashion, with Essendon well beaten by Gary Rohan and Geelong at GMHBA Stadium. Merrett finished his milestone match with 18 possessions and five tackles, while Rohan kicked a goal from 10 touches for the Cats.

Meanwhile, Josh Corbett kicked two goals from seven possessions in Peel Thunder’s WAFL loss to East Fremantle, Ben Cunnington was a late withdrawal due to calf tightness from North Melbourne’s VFL contest and Jamaine Jones is still recovering from ankle surgery earlier in the season. 

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 13


IT was another week of big performances and victories for Hampden league exports at the elite level as six players graced the big stage last weekend.

The round kicked off on Thursday night with Rowan Marshall producing a monster game in the ruck to help St Kilda to a 14 point win over Sydney at the SCG.

The Portland export had 50 hit-outs in a dominant performance and also had an impact at ground level, recording 16 touches and seven tackles.

On Friday night, Willem Drew and Port Adelaide’s winning run continued as the Power recorded a 10th straight win over Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.

Drew had 14 possessions and four tackles through the midfield in the victory, while Ugle-Hagan kicked 2.2 from 12 touches up forward for the Dogs.

On Saturday, Brisbane’s Hugh McCluggage failed to play out the entire match after sustaining a concussion in the Lions shock loss to Hawthorn at the MCG.

The South export had racked up 18 touches and seven tackles before he was injured in the incident with Hawks skipper James Sicily in the fourth quarter.

On Sunday evening, Cobden exports Zach Merrett (Essendon) and Sam Walsh (Carlton) went head-to-head at the MCG, with Merrett’s Bombers coming away with the chocolates.

Merrett was heavily tagged but still managed to kick a goal from 18 disposals, while Walsh finished with a match high 35 possessions.

In the state leagues, Josh Corbett had 11 possessions in Peel Thunder’s WAFL defeat and Ben Cunnington did not play as he was an emergency for North Melbourne’s AFL side.

Meanwhile, Sean Darcy (injury), Gary Rohan (bye) and Jamaine Jones (injury) did not feature over the weekend.

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 12


Only a handful of local exports graced the AFL stage last weekend, as injuries and mid-season byes saw players spend time on the sidelines.

Only five featured at the elite level, with three players featuring in wins for their sides.

On Sunday, Essendon’s Zach Merrett produced one of his best games of the season to lead the Bombers to a thrilling victory over North Melbourne.

The skipper collected a match-high 34 touches, eight clearances, seven inside 50s and laid six tackles alongside kicking two goals in a monster performance at Marvel Stadium.

A day earlier, Willem Drew was again involved in another victory for Port Adelaide, this time against Hawthorn at the Adelaide Oval.

The midfielder finished with 17 touches, five inside 50s, four clearances and laid a game-high nine tackles as the Power strolled to a 55 point triumph.

Two goals from Gary Rohan helped Geelong break a form slump against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.

Rohan made a return from injury and was influential across half-forward with eight touches and three tackles in the Cats win.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for the Bulldogs in the loss, finished the match with 14 possessions but was once again wayward in front of the sticks, kicking 1.3.

On Friday night, Sam Walsh was unable to lift Carlton over the line against Melbourne at the MCG.

The Blues midfielder was a bit quieter in terms of influence compared to previous weeks but still managed to rack up 22 possessions, four clearances and two inside 50s.

Meanwhile, Rowan Marshall and Hugh McCluggage did not feature due to byes for St Kilda and Brisbane respectively, while Fremantle’s Sean Darcy also enjoyed a week off and West Coast’s Jamaine Jones missed due to injury.

Josh Corbett collected eight touches and kicked a goal in the WAFL for Peel Thunder, while Ben Cunnington had 23 touches for North Melbourne’s VFL side.

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 10


IT was a weekend of big performances for a number of former Hampden league players on the big stage, as the AFL celebrated Sir Douglas Nicholls Indigenous Round last weekend.

Koroit export Willem Drew played a key role in Port Adelaide’s narrow victory over Melbourne.

The Power made a spirited comeback in the final term to triumph, with Drew recording 22 possessions and laying 10 tackles.

Fremantle big man Sean Darcy once again starred for the Dockers as they prevailed over Geelong at Optus Stadium.

Darcy was the dominant ruckman throughout the contest as he notched up 43 hit-outs, eight possessions and seven score involvements.

Hugh McCluggage produced one of his best games of the year to help Brisbane Lions defeat the Gold Coast Suns.

The South Warrnambool product kicked a goal from 30 possessions and laid seven tackles in a complete display at the GABBA.

Essendon skipper Zach Merrett produced one of his best performances of the season to help the Bombers break a 13 match drought against Richmond.

Merrett was crowned the Yiooken Medal winner after a 39 touch performance, with the midfielder also adding five clearances.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan failed to hit the scoreboard but he was still involved in the Western Bulldogs win over Adelaide.

Ugle-Hagan had 13 disposals and five score involvements in the Dogs triumph at Mars Stadium.

Sam Walsh was prolific with 29 touches for Carlton but the Blues were contained by Collingwood at the MCG.

Walsh also laid five tackles and was involved in seven of the Blues scores throughout the loss.

St Kilda tall Rowan Marshall was once again at his best as the Saints defeated GWS Giants.

Marshall enjoyed a 24 touch outing, and also had plenty of influence at the stoppages as he finished with 30 hit-outs and six clearances.

West Coast’s Jamaine Jones finished with a goal from 12 possessions in the Eagles big defeat to Hawthorn. Meanwhile, Ben Cunnington is in line for a senior recall after starring for North Melbourne’s VFL side with 32 possessions and 17 clearances, while Geelong’s Gary Rohan and Fremantle’s Josh Cortbett did not feature across the weekend.

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 9


A SEAN Darcy-inspired Fremantle produced its best performance of season 2023 to defeat Sydney last weekend.

Darcy, who was best on ground, set the tone in the midfield, claiming 18 disposals, nine clearances and 44 hit-outs in a 16.7 (103) to 13.8 (86) victory.

It was one of his best games of the season, with new life being breathed into the Dockers campaign after a sluggish start.

Over in Tasmania, Willem Drew and Port Adelaide extended its run of consecutive wins to six with a thumping victory against North Melbourne.

Drew collected 17 possessions and laid five tackles in the victory, with the Kangaroos missing Cobden export Ben Cunnington.

Back in Melbourne, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan’s Western Bulldogs held off Sam Walsh’s Carlton at Marvel Stadium.

The Blues trailed for the majority of the contest but managed to hit the front in the last quarter before the Dogs steadied with the final four goals to run out 20 point victors.

Ugle-Hagan once again had opportunities in front of goal but finished with 1.2 from nine disposals, while Walsh racked up 29 touches and nine inside 50s.

In Brisbane, Hugh McCluggage’s Brisbane Lions proved too strong for an Essendon side featuring Zach Merrett.

McCluggage was productive for the Lions with 26 touches but kicked three behinds, while Merrett had 23 disposals for the Bombers.

Rowan Marshall could not lift St Kilda to victory against Adelaide despite getting the upper hand in the ruck.

Marshall had 49 hit-outs and 10 possessions in the loss and was prominent at ground level with eight tackles.

Meanwhile, West Coast midfielder Jamaine Jones missed the majority of his side’s loss to the Gold Coast Suns after breaking his nose.

He was subbed out at half-time after sustaining the injury, which came just one week after a career best performance.

Ben Cunnington impressed in his demotion to the VFL, collecting 24 possessions in North’s win over Frankston, while Josh Corbett and Gary Rohan spent the week on the sidelines with injury.

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 8


IT was a week of match-ups between the Hampden League’s AFL exports, with numerous players going head-to-head for their respective sides in round 8 last weekend.

At Marvel Stadium on Friday night, Hugh McCluggage’s Brisbane Lions got the better of Sam Walsh’s Carlton, with both players enjoying strong games.

McCluggage collected 27 possessions and laid four tackles, while Walsh was productive with 28 disposals, eight tackles and nine clearances.

The following day, Jamaine Jones’ strong form continued for West Coast despite the Eagles loss to Richmond.

The winger recorded 30 touches on the wide expanses of the MCG and rebounded the ball from defensive 50 on eight occasions in one of his better performances this season.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan finished with 1.1 from nine touches in the Bulldogs hard fought win over GWS Giants in Canberra, while Sean Darcy was again influential from Fremantle, finishing with 38 hit-outs and 11 touches in the Dockers triumph over Hawthorn.

On Sunday, Willem Drew’s Port Adelaide squared off with Zach Merrett’s Essendon, with the Power getting the chocolates in Adelaide.

Merrett was superb for the Bombers, kicking a goal from 28 touches and laying 10 tackles, while Drew also had a strong influence for Port, with the midfielder collecting 22 disposals alongside four clearances and eight tackles.

Rowan Marshall’s St Kilda had the better of Ben Cunnington’s North Melbourne in the final match of the weekend.

Marshall did not finish the game after pikcing up an injury but he still managed 21 touches and 14 hit-outs for the Saints, while Cunnington was subbed out after a quiet game.

Geelong’s Gary Rohan missed his side’s win over with injury, while Fremantle’s Josh Corbett featured for Peel Thunder in the WAFL.

HFNL AFL Wrap – Round 2


THE perfect start to Cobden export Zach Merrett’s tenure as Essendon captain continued last weekend.

Merrett, one of the Hampden leagues 10 listed AFL players, was instrumental for the Bombers to a 28 point win over the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium.

He finished with 31 possessions, four clearances and seven inside 50s in a best on ground performance, with the Dons kicking five goals to one in the final quarter to secure the four points.

Fellow Cobden products Sean Darcy and Gary Rohan endured losses with Fremantle and Geelong respectively, with the Dockers falling short against Ben Cunnington’s North Melbourne and the Cats downed by Carlton.

Darcy enjoyed a strong battle with Todd Goldstein and finished with six touches and 27 hit-outs, while Cunnington was prominent for the Roos in a 24 possession and six clearance outing which also featured three inside 50s.

Rohan kicked a goal from seven touches in the Cats eight point loss, with the reigning premiers’ currently winless in their defence of last year’s premiership.

Portland duo Rowan Marshall and Jamaine Jones featured in wins for their sides, with Marshall one of St Kilda’s best in their win over the Western Bulldogs and Jones among the best players in West Coast’s win over GWS Giants.

Marshall was the leading ruckman on the ground in the Saints victory, finishing with 29 hit-outs, 20 touches, nine clearances and three inside 50s.

South Warrnambool’s Jamarra Ugle-Hagan featured for the Bulldogs, kicking two behinds from eight touches but his night ended on a sour note when he was racially abused a Saints fan, an incident which was condemned by both clubs and the AFL post-match.

Jones, meanwhile, recorded 27 touches, 11 inside 50s and gained a match-high 776 metres playing on the wing for the Eagles in what was one of the best games of his career to date.

Another Roosters’ product in Hugh McCluggage was prolific in the Lions victory over Melbourne.

The midfielder managed six clearances alongside 21 touches as Brisbane bounced back from a shock opening-round loss to Port Adelaide.

Rounding out the contingent is North Warrnambool’s Josh Corbett and Cobden’s Sam Walsh, with the pair not featuring at AFL level.

Corbett lined up for the Peel Thunder in a WAFL practice match and kicked two goals, while Walsh is still recovering from off-season back surgery.

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