Making their mark: Binns and Simpson make AFL debuts

Dandenong Stingrays graduate Cooper Simpson made an impressive AFL debut for Fremantle against the Western Bulldogs. 404487 Picture: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAP

By Jonty Ralphsmith

Dandenong Stingrays graduates Jaxon Binns and Cooper Simpson both made their AFL debuts on the weekend, while Collingwood AFL-listed Harry DeMattia made his VFL debut for the Pies.

Berwick’s Binns was a late inclusion for Carlton following 12 months of scintillating VFL form running the wing since being drafted.

The pick 32 in the 2022 national draft wore the sub’s vest after being presented with his jersey by Marc Murphy, and didn’t get on until the last quarter of the Blues’ loss, when he had a couple of involvements.

Simpson, meanwhile, also started as the sub for Fremantle but came on at the start of the second quarter and showed off his poise, maturity and speed.

The six disposals he finished with belied his impact with the footy, with the 2023 Stingrays co-captain thrice putting the ball to teammates’ advantage for direct score assists.

Simpson also finished with the equal-most total sprint efforts (22) and most repeat sprint efforts (six).

He set up Bailey Banfield’s match-winner and also laid a big last-quarter tackle.

DeMattia’s Pies VFL debut followed a finger injury sustained in preseason – he finished with 10 disposals playing in the backline.

Williamstown and Narre Warren-listed Mitch Cox was the standout local VFL player, kicking 3.2 including an 80-metre bomb in the Seagulls’ 52-point win over Werribee.

Teammate Jack Toner was excellent in the second half while Corey Ellison was a typical aerial threat inside 50 for Williamstown.

Beaconsfield’s Harrison Coe backed up his Frankston debut with 1.1, five marks and seven hitouts on the weekend in the Dolphins third straight win.

Meanwhile, the following current and former Dandenong Stingrays and Gippsland Power boys were in action in the Young Guns v Vic Country match on Sunday: Kane Hurst, Cooper Hynes, Ben Hopkins, Riak Andrew, Kobe Shipp, Kade De La Rue, Jordan Doherty, Julian Callahan, Max Stobie, Tom Hanily, Max Donohue, Asher Eastham.

Hynes, the co-captain for Dandenong this year, was busy in the midfield, working hard to get to plenty of contests, winning clearances and providing run for Vic Country.

Berwick’s Andrew and Beaconsfield’s Shipp took two and three intercept marks respectively and were calm figures in the backline for the Young Guns.

Doherty kicked a nice set shot goal and backed himself in general play, playing as a ruck/forward for Vic Country, while Stobie got some on-ball minutes and showed his quick hands.