DANIEL Watson’s form line in his debut VFL season is following a similar upwards trajectory to that of his final TAC Cup campaign.
Simply put, the Cobden teenager is getting better and better each week.
Watson, 18, was named Northern Blues’ best in their 15.13 (103) to 9.11 (65) development league win against Werribee on Sunday.
The result sewed up the Blues’ finals spot.
They sit third with one round to play. The VFL development league, a stepping stone for under 23 players, uses a six-team finals system.
Watson said his first best-on-ground effort came after he played a negating role on former Collingwood rookie Jye Bolton.
“On the weekend I was playing in the back line and one of their midfielders had 10 or so touches in the first quarter so I tagged him,” he said.
“It was good to be back in the midfield.”
Bolton was restricted to seven touches in the remaining three quarters with Watson as his shadow.
Watson said his improvement coincided with the Northern Blues’ spike in form.
He said the Blues would play development league finals for the first time in five seasons.
“It’s very exciting. We needed to win and if Werribee won they were in the box seat to play finals because they play North Ballarat and we play Williamstown in the final round,” Watson said.
“It was a must-win and we’re rapt. It’s a pretty big thing for the club.
“Williamstown are the benchmark because Western Bulldogs (players) are playing for them, but we think we can take it up to them because we’ve won five in a row and are playing good footy.”
The top two sides have the first week of the finals off, with third to play sixth and fourth to play fifth in the elimination finals.
Watson has played all 17 games for Northern Blues’ development side this season after graduating from the Geelong Falcons.
The midfielder-cum-defender said he now felt settled in the VFL.
“Like last year, I started off a bit slow and it was frustrating but I kept working at it and found a spot and have been lucky enough to play every game,” he said.
Watson said he enjoyed playing for the Northern Blues — Carlton’s VFL affiliate — and was eager to push for his senior debut next season.
“There are a lot of 18 to 22-year-olds playing (in the development league) and they are really trying to play senior football,” he said.
“It’s very competitive and a good standard for me this year and it’s great to play at a higher level.
“I like the concept. There is talk they might not have it any more but I hope that it stays.”
Watson was part of Cobden’s 2012 senior grand final side.
He has played one Hampden league game this season, lining up against North Warrnambool Eagles in round five.
“Our finals align with their finals. If the opportunity presents itself (Cobden coach) Wayne (Robertson) said he’d have me back but at the moment my sole focus is the Northern Blues,” Watson said.
Koroit’s Haydn Drew made his Northern Blues’ debut in May.
The former North Ballarat Rebel has played nine games.
“He came in seven or eight weeks ago and has held his spot and in the past two or three weeks they couldn’t be more happy with him,” Watson said.
“He’s playing a back line shut-down role, sort of like me. On the weekend he hurt his shoulder and had scans.”
Northern Blues play ladder-leader Williamstown in the final round on Saturday.