IT was another big weekend with Round 2 of the TAC Cup taking place over the Easter long weekend. Calder kicked things off with a 33-point victory over Eastern under lights at RAMS Arena on Thursday night, while it was the Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers who came out as winners in an all-country affair on Good Friday. Saturday’s double-header at RAMS Arena saw possible top-five draft pick Max King produce a stunning game, booting eight goals in the Sandringham Dragons’ win over the Oakleigh Chargers, while the Northern Knights won in a close encounter over the Western Jets. Down the highway, GWV Rebels produced the upset of the season, defeating the highly rated Geelong Falcons by 33-points thanks to an even team performance.
Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
Calder Cannons bounced back from their tight round one loss under lights to produce a much stronger 33-point win over Eastern Ranges. Playing on Thursday night, the Cannons looked the goods early, but could not capitalise with three straight behinds before Eastern put through its first major. From there though, the Cannons were predominantly in control, booting seven of the next 10 goals to head into the final break with a four-goal lead. A 4.4 to 3.1 final term saw Calder extend their lead to run out comfortable winners in the end.
Rhylee West starred through the midfield and provided some eye-catching moments with a long goal and a huge pack mark. West finished the game with a match-high 29 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s. Lucas Cavallaro (16 disposals, four rebound 50s) played well off half-back, while Curtis Taylor (22 disposals, nine clearances) and Tye Browning (22 disposals, six rebound 50s) found plenty of the ball through midfield. Jack Evans and Nathan Croft were solid throughout the four quarters, while co-captains Mitch Podhajski (the only multiple goal scorer) and Jack Bytel, were other Cannons that stood out on the night. Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher (seven marks) was clean with his ball use and a rock in defence.
For Eastern, Ben Cardamone stood out once again off half-back with 22 disposals, with Kye Quirk another player who picked up in the second half to provide some defensive rebound. Adrian Kalcovski (28 disposals, six marks) was strong in the contest, while Mitch Mellis (23 disposals, five inside 50s) provided some speed around the ground and a touch of class when required. Xavier Fry was another who continued to perform against the Calder attack, while Jacob Gilbee was admirable in defence.
Gippsland Power vs. Dandenong Stingrays
Dandenong Stingrays came from behind to give the Power their first loss of the season, running out 24-point winners – after earlier trailing by a single point going into the final quarter. The Power kept the Stingrays goalless in the third term, with their midfield stepping up, but it was not enough as the Stingrays booted six goals to two to finish the contest and remain undefeated on the top of the ladder. The Stingrays crucially won the inside 50s, – 59 to 31 – indicating their strength of how easily they were able to get the ball inside the attacking half of the ground.
For the travelling team, small forward Jai Nanscawen was the star, booting six goals from his 15 disposals. Midfielders Mitch Riordan (20 disposals), Zac Foot (20 disposals) and James Hickey (19 disposals) won plenty of the ball, with the trio combining for 16 tackles and 15 inside 50s. Bottom-ager Hayden Young (16 disposals, five rebound 50s) again put in a performance pushing his top-five credentials for the 2019 AFL Draft. AFL Academy talls Riley Bowman (15 hitouts) and Bailey Williams (13 disposals, five marks and two goals) were also impressive, while over-ager Angus Paterson impressed with his arial marking during the contest, where he pulled off four contested marks out of his game-high 12 marks.
Matthew McGannon (27 disposals, six rebound 50s) once again led the stats sheet for the home Power team. Xavier Duursma’s start to the season has been superb, recording 26 disposals (14 contested), six tackles, five inside 50s and four clearances in a standout performance from the midfield. Boadie Motton and Austin Hodge cracked in hard and won the contested ball in the fierce midfield battle, while it was Bailey Beck (13 disposals and 13 tackles) who busted his backside off in defensive 50, with plenty of game saving tackles. Kyle Reid (nine marks) was another player in defence who could hold his head high after the Power’s loss. Small forward Irving Mosquito booted two goals showing off his smarts around goal.
Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers
The Murray Bushrangers led from start to finish to win their first game of season 2018, running out 56-point winners over the Bendigo Pioneers at Deakin Reserve. The Bushrangers had plenty of contributors across the board, in what was an even team performance.
Lachlan Ash (19 disposals) once again found plenty of the football in the midfield, also laying four tackles during the contest. Overager Tom Boyd provided good rebound out of defensive 50, with six rebounds to go with his 19 disposals and five marks. Laitham Vandermeer was also a crucial cog in the Bushrangers’ midfield, with 18 disposals and two goals. GWS Academy member Mathew Walker picked up 17 disposals and kicked two goals, but it was small forward Patrick Warner who did the damage inside 50 for the Bushrangers, kicking a team-high three goals.
AFL Academy member Jye Caldwell was the clear best for the Pioneers, recording 24 disposals and seven tackles, playing in the midfield. Small Liam Marciano won five clearances, as well as collecting 24 disposals (13 contested), while dual-sport prospect Zane Keighran hunted the contested footy, finishing with 11 contested possessions from his 16 disposals. Ruckman Daniel Keating was the clear best ruck on the ground, with a game-high 23 hitouts.
Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
It was the Max King show at RAMS Arena on Saturday, as the possible pick one contender clunked nine marks and booted eight goals in a simply dominant performance in the Dragons’ 23-point victory. The game was evenly poised in the opening half, but the Dragons ran away with the contest with a strong third quarter, where they scored five goals to one.
Midfielder Alastair Richards (26 disposals, 11 marks and seven inside 50s) played arguably his best game in Dragons colours, while Angus Hanrahan (29 disposals, four rebound 50s) and Harry Houlahan (17 disposals, nine marks) showed plenty of promise coming out of the backline. Liam Stocker (13 disposals, five clearances) was good in the contest, using the ball well off either foot. Ben King (20 disposals, nine marks and six inside 50s) was a damaging defender for the Dragons, before moving forward in the final quarter of the game. He intercept work in the air meant that the Chargers were rarely able to mark the ball inside their forward 50, with King often intercepting. The hero Max King could have easily broken TAC Cup records for most goals in a game, booting five behinds to go with his eight goal haul, but his nine-mark game was overall enough to give him a certain three votes for the Morrish Medal.
For the Chargers, bottom-age midfielder Trent Bianco (26 disposals, five rebound 50s) was their most impressive player. He worked hard up and down on the wing and showed off his good skills. Midfielders James Rowbottom (23 disposals) and Xavier O’Neill (22 disposals) have flashes where they stood up and took control, but overall were beaten by the Dragons players in the contest. Bottom-age rebounding defender Dylan Williams‘ silky smooth skills were on show, with 20 out of his 21 disposals being effective throughout the afternoon. Other bottom-agers Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell both collected 20 disposals, while Collingwood NGA member Isaac Quaynor (19 disposals, five rebounds) also put in another good performance for the Chargers.
Northern Knights vs. Western Jets
It was a thrilling match to conclude Saturday’s double header at RAMS Arena. Despite leading at three-quarter time by seven points, a see-sawing final quarter saw both teams trade goals with the Knights narrowly coming out winners by eight points. Western will be ruing a slow start which allowed the Knights to kick ahead early in the game.
Tom McKenzie won 28 disposals for the Knights, again putting in a decent effort through the midfield, where he also had six tackles, five inside 50s, five clearances and four rebound 50s. However, a superb captain’s performance from Braedyn Gillard put his name in the spotlight, where he had 26 disposals and won eight clearances – including six centre clearances. He has had an outstanding start to the season and could well be the clubhouse leader for the Knights best and fairest at this stage. Thomas Hallebone won 22 hitouts in the ruck, while Harrison Grace did some good things up forward kicking two goals. Josh D’Intinosante was another player who featured in the bests, with 19 disposals, eight tackles, six marks and five goals. He showed great speed and agility during the contest, which saw him boot an impressive long set shot goal from the boundary in the final term.
Connor Thar (22 disposals, six clearances and five inside 50s) was the Jets’ leading ball winner, while fellow midfielder Zak Butters (19 disposals, five clearances and five inside 50s) had a strong game. Butters’ overhead marking throughout the day was impressive, as was his zip and speed, where he also booted an impressive snap goal right on the boundary in the third term. Strong inside midfielder Xavier O’Halloran tackled hard throughout the day and also had six inside 50s, helping the Jets move the ball forward in the final quarter. The last quarter also had O’Halloran boot an impressive goal on the run.
Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
A scintillating first half display, set up the GWV Rebels comfortable 33-point win over the Geelong Falcons at Kardinia Park on Sunday.
The Rebels were outstanding in the first half, converting what felt like every opportunity inside 50. Mitch Martin set the tone for the day, kicking a beautiful goal from the boundary within the first minute of the game, which started a succession of seven goals to none in the first quarter. Jed Hill backed up his terrific performance against the Pioneers, with two terrific set shot goals in the quarter while Josh Chatfield also kicked two in the first. Lachlan Dawson (28 disposals, four tackles) had a huge half of footy, winning the ball at stoppages and getting the ball quickly into a forward line which piled on another three goals in the second quarter, to lead 10 goals to nil at the main break.
Thankfully for the Falcons it was only a few minutes into the second half, before Charlie Sprague (22 disposals) was able to kick their first. Sprague crumbed the ball nicely off the pack before snapping the ball on his right boot and kicking truely. After half-time, classy onballer, and potential top-five draft pick, Sam Walsh started to become more effective. A lot of Walsh’s work was undone however, by the Falcons inability to remain in possession of the ball. Walsh finished the contest as the lead ball-winner on the ground, with 36 disposals and three clearances. The Falcons continually tried to use the corridor, but were being punished by a lack of foot skill, as the Rebels intercepted the ball or brought it to ground level. The Rebels use of the corridor on the other hand was terrific, and players such as Harris Jennings and Scott Carlin, were extremely effective in helping the Rebels move the ball quickly.
The Falcons had a terrific last quarter, booting six goals to two. After starting in defence, Connor Idun was moved forward and was very effective converting his two goals and displaying a beautiful set shot technique. Idun’s last quarter performance was matched by a brilliant last quarter from Kayne Councillor. The Rebels only had four inside 50’s for the quarter, yet Councillor found a way to attempt three shots on goal, kicking two of them. As signs of fatigue began to set in, the nightmare of the previous week fadeout against the Pioneers, may have began to haunt the Rebels, however Councillors back to back goal’s put the nail in the coffin of the Falcons, and the Rebels finished the game off comfortably.
The home side had no answer to Dawson all day, who was outstanding from siren to siren. Others who impressed for the visitors were, the terrific forward duo of Martin and Hill, the tough defensive pressure machine in Jacob Lohmann, and the extremely consistent onballer Matt Schnerring. Meanwhile, Sprague, Walsh and Idun did everything they could to get the home side over the line.
The Rebels will look to build on their first win of the season, playing the Stingrays at the QEO in Bendigo. The Geelong Falcons will look to get their first win of the season also at the QEO against the Bushrangers.