IN Round 7 of the TAC Cup, spectators can witness a Triple Header at RAMS Arena on Saturday, before a number of neck-and-neck contests on the Sunday at various metropolitan grounds.
CALDER CANNONS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Round 7 – Saturday, May 19, 10am
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn
In the first game of the round, the sixth placed Calder Cannons take on the eighth placed Northern Knights from 10am at RAMS Arena. The Cannons have had a yo-yo start to the season, not able to string two consecutive wins together thus far, but with a home ground advantage against the Knights, Calder will be keen to build on their strong performance against the Bendigo Pioneers last week. The big question is where the Cannons are rated in the scheme of things because they clearly have talent in the team, but so far have just beaten the bottom three sides and will be keen to add a top eight scalp to the mix. The Knights started the season pretty rocky in wet conditions at Frankston, but have since performed fairly well, notching up two wins and a draw – which was unlucky not to be a win – from five games.
Dylan Landt is a key inclusion for the Cannons and will provide another strong body for co-captain Mitch Podhajski after his best on ground performance last week. With Jack Bytel still out injured and Rhylee West suiting up for St Kevin’s, the pair will look to lead the side through the midfield, with help from Curtis Taylor, Tye Browning and Jack Evans. Lachlan Sholl played more of a defensive role for his 35 disposals last week, and will be looking to combine with Lucas Cavallaro to keep the ball rebounding out of the defensive 50. For the Knights, Josh D’Intinosante might be the danger man up forward, while Patrik Della Rocca and Braedyn Gillard join him on the half-forward line in which is a dangerous trio in the makings. Thomas Hallebone will look to take full advantage in the ruck, and with Justin McInerney and Joel Naylor among a host of inclusions, the Knights have beefed up their best 22 for this weekend’s clash.
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Round 7 – Saturday, May 19, 12.30pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn
Spectators making the trip to RAMS Arena could be in for an absolute treat in the second game, with a top-of-the-table clash between Murray Bushrangers and Dandenong Stingrays. The Bushrangers have not missed a beat since they were outclassed by Gippsland Power in round one, while the Stingrays have almost had the perfect start to the season – with two 15 goal plus wins and aside from a last quarter fadeout against Oakleigh, have been fairly dominant. It also makes for a simple reward for the winner – whoever takes home the four points secures top spot, while for the loser, it could mean dropping as low as fourth if both Gippsland and Oakleigh can win their respective games.
For Murray, welcoming back Mathew Walker will be a huge bonus, while the loss of Mark Marriott is countered by the inclusion of Ben Kelly. After a best on ground performance in the middle last week, Ely Smith will look to continue his strong form and combine well with the Clarke’s in Dylan and Kyle through the midfield. Hudson Garoni always looms as a danger up forward, while both sides head into the game with a number of quality talls. Overager Angus Paterson is likely to be given the job on Garoni, while Sam De Koning could line-up against Jacob Koschitzke when he roams up the ground. Jordon Butts and Nick Murray are likely to have their hands full with Bailey Schmidt and Bailey Williams, while Lachlan Ash and Zac Foot will provide great dash through their respective midfields.
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. GIPPSLAND POWER
Round 7 – Saturday, May 19, 3pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn
In the final game of the RAMS Arena Triple Header, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will look to build on their first positive final quarter from last week to head into this game full of running. They stole two points off the second placed Oakleigh Chargers, and can sneak into the eight with a good win here, and a Knights loss. However the Gippsland Power will be a formidable opponent, as one of the most in-form sides this season. Only a loss to the Dandenong Stingrays and a draw to the Northern Knights has stopped them being at the top of the table. Heading into the season it was clear the Power had an enormous amount of raw talent, particularly at the bottom-age level, but 2019 was expected to be their year. However thus far they have really taken it up to more experienced sides and have been incredibly enjoyable to watch.
The Rebels will no doubt need to be at their absolute best to knock off the Power – and we have seen in patches what they are capable of both offensively and defensively. They held Geelong Falcons goalless in the first half of their clash, and hit the front early in the final quarter against Murray Bushrangers a few weeks ago. The likes of Thomas Berry, Scott Carlin and Lochie Dawson form a good core midfield with Matt Schnerring and Harrison Jennings also playing good footy. Ben Annett had his best game of the year last week, while Charlie Wilson and Jed Hill are two of the most damaging small forwards in the competition. Tylar Watts has been named at centre half-back, potentially matching up on the in-form Noah Gown. Sam Flanders and Austin Hodge both booted four goals last week and are just some of the key players for the Power heading into this game. Captain Xavier Duursma, Matthew McGannon and Riley Baldi form a strong midfield that can match it with anyone, while Brock Smith and Jake Van Der Pligt are bottom-agers who have been in great form this season.
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. WESTERN JETS
Round 7 – Sunday, May 20, 10.45am
Warrawee Park, Oakleigh
In the early Sunday game, Oakleigh Chargers host Western Jets at Warrawee Park with a top four spot on the line. The Jets have come a long way in the past fortnight and are playing some good football with wins over Sandringham Dragons and Geelong Falcons. The Chargers will be ruing they dropped two points against the GWV Rebels last week and will be keen to make a statement back at home in round seven. A win would see them retain a top four spot, however a loss would certainly see them forfeit their fourth place to the Jets.
Oakleigh has a strong defence that is ruthless, but also skilful, with the likes of Dylan Williams, Noah Answerth and Isaac Quaynor providing good rebound out of the back half. The midfield is somewhat stretched with the APS season running, however Riley Collier-Dawkins and Xavier O’Neill can have the ball on a string when at their best. Atu Bosenavulagi played his best game of the season last week in that dangerous small forward role, while Trent Bianco and Bailey Griffiths return to the onball brigade. For the Jets, they will go in the same as last week and keen to continue their good form. Stefan Radovanovic was sensational through the midfield last week, with he and captain Xavier O’Halloran taking control while Zak Butters, Daly Andrews and Connor Thar provide strong support around the ground. Up forward, Emerson Jeka, Aaron Clarke and Josh Honey provide good targets, while Steven Kyriazis and Darcy Cassar have shown they can hit the scoreboard with multiple goals.
EASTERN RANGES v. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Round 7 – Sunday, May 20, 2pm
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill
Over at Box Hill, the Eastern Ranges and Bendigo Pioneers face off in a bottom two battle. The Ranges are yet to get a win on the board, while the Pioneers have just the one victory – a one-point win in round one against the GWV Rebels. The Ranges are back at home with Cody Hirst returning from injury and a number of other fresh faces to hopefully turn their form around. The Pioneers have also had a rough start to the season, and will be keen to take home the four points here in what would be considered a must-win by both sides to kick-start their 2018 campaigns.
The return of James Blanck will be welcomed after he started the season strongly and will work well with Jarrod Gilbee in defence. Kye Quirk and Ben Cardamone will hope to provide some good rebound out of the back half, while Joel Burleigh and Tyler Edwards have been in good form of late. Lachlan Stapleton brings the tackling pressure, while Mitch Mellis adds a touch of class to the outside with Eastern’s midfield looking as strong as it has been all year. For the Pioneers, they lose Jacob Atley, but regain Zane Keighran and Thomson Dow, while Riley Ironside and Bailey Waasdorp add depth and strength through the midfield. Bailey Henderson looks to be set to fill Will Holt’s shoes lining up at full-forward, while Daniel Keating is one of the most in-form rucks and will look to feed the ball to Noah Wheeler and James Schischka in the midfield.
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. GEELONG FALCONS
Round 7 – Sunday, May 20, 2pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham
In the final game of the round, Sandringham Dragons will look to reverse their recent form and get back to their winning form early in the season. The Dragons have lost their past three games after winning their first three matches, while their opponents Geelong Falcons will look for their third win of the season after winning two of their past three games. A win for the Falcons will see the reigning premiers jump back into the top eight at the expense of either the Dragons or Northern Knights.
Sandringham always have it tough with continuity in their team due to the comings and goings of school football, and this week is no different. Liam Stocker is a key out for the home side, but the Dragons will be hoping the experience of overager Kai Owens returning will help cover Stocker’s loss on the inside. Harry Bede and Corey Watts have been a couple of shining lights for the Dragons at either end of late, while James Rendell will be a welcome return to the forward line, providing a target deep inside 50. For the Falcons, possible top 20 draft prospects Ed McHenry and Brayden Ham are set to miss the match which will be a big loss for Geelong. Bailey Scott was good in Geelong’s narrow loss to Murray Bushrangers a month ago and could add some X-factor in the forward half, while a midfield with Sam Walsh and Oscar Brownless is always going to be tough to beat. The defensive pairing of Dane Hollenkamp and Cooper Cartledge is proving a good combination, while Blake Schlensog, Baxter Mensch and Connor Idun have also looked good throughout 2018.