Pick 1 contender dominates VFL as Horne-Francis responds to surprise omission

Pick 1 contender dominates VFL as Horne-Francis responds to surprise omission

North Melbourne young gun Jason Horne-Francis has responded to his AFL omission with 29 touches in the VFL on Saturday afternoon.

Taking on the Coburg Lions, the Roos were on a five-game losing streak coming into the match but emerged dominant 58-point winners.

But the headline story was that of Horne-Francis, who was a shock omission when teams lobbed on Thursday night. Reports emerged on Friday that the 19-year-old’s recovery wasn’t up to North Melbourne’s standard and that it was a factor in him missing out.

He would have been playing his first game in his home state of South Australia against Adelaide on Saturday had he not been dropped.

Playing at Piranha Park, Horne-Francis finished with 29 disposals, nine clearances and six marks. He also had five inside 50s.

It’s just his second game of VFL the 2021 No.1 draft pick has played. The first came in Round 16 when he also collected 29 disposals and a goal.

Horne-Francis had only enjoyed more than 20 possessions in one of his previous nine AFL games.

Meanwhile, 2022 National Draft Pick 1 contender Will Ashcroft was one of his side’s best as Brisbane defeated Sandringham.

Ashcroft, who has nominated to play for the Lions in the AFL next year as a father-son prospect, was playing his third VFL game of the year.

The 18-year-old collected 29 disposals, six clearances and a goal in Brisbane’s 25-point win at Trevor Barker Oval.

He also recorded six inside 50s and four tackles to be in the Lions’ top handful of players.

Tom Campbell dominated in the ruck for Sandringham with 40 hitouts and 12 clearances, while Ryan Byrnes (25 disposals, seven tackles) and Jack Bytel (27 disposals, 13 clearances) were also amongst the best.

Ashcroft, son of Brisbane great Marcus, shapes as the best player in this year’s draft class. He averaged 33.3 disposals, 15 contested possessions, 10 clearances, 6.7 tackles and 6.7 inside 50s from his three Vic Metro matches at the Under 18 National Championships.