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Young gun enhances top-five claims with stunning performance

Sam Flanders in action during Sunday's qualifying final. Picture: AFL Photos - AFL,Draft,Tag-Draft
Sam Flanders in action during Sunday's qualifying final. Picture: AFL Photos

GIPPSLAND Power midfielder Sam Flanders' brilliant finals performance on Sunday furthered his claims as a possible top-five pick at November's NAB AFL Draft.

Flanders was outstanding in the Power's tough eight-point loss to the Oakleigh Chargers, putting in a best-on-ground showing to boost his stocks at the business end of the season.

The powerful 18-year-old kicked four goals in the first half and finished with 27 disposals (16 contested), nine clearances and seven tackles in a well-rounded display at Ikon Park.

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Flanders' season has been consistent, having highlighted his potential last season as a half-forward/midfield option who has spring, is good overhead and dangerous around goal.

This season he has lifted his consistency, having averaged 22 disposals across the NAB League season and also booted 12 goals from 10 appearances for the Power.

Flanders was named as a half-forward in the Under-18 All Australian team after averaging 22 disposals, five clearances and nearly five marks a game for Vic Country at the mid-season national carnival. 

Most clubs see Flanders as a likely top-10 option, with his effort against the star-studded Oakleigh midfield pushing his name into top-five conversations.

He has won comparisons to Melbourne's Christian Petracca for his explosive streak and strength one-on-one at the same stage of their development.

The clash between the sides was seen as a battle of some of the country's high-end talent, with Gippsland's Flanders and Caleb Serong taking on Oakleigh pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson.

Serong was also terrific throughout the contest, collecting 29 disposals, nine clearances and seven inside-50 entries. His form as a tough, contested ball-winner has continued unabated throughout the year. 

Caleb Serong was one of Gippland's best players. Picture: AFL Photos

Rowell and Anderson lifted in the second half to will Oakleigh over the line in the qualifying final.

The midfield pair, who look bound for Gold Coast with the first two picks in the NAB AFL Draft if a priority selection is given to the Suns, both had 29 disposals in the comeback win.

Matt Rowell helped inspire his side to victory. Picture: AFL Photos