TO complete Round 12, the final three games were played across three Country venues, with the top three sides getting wins at their home grounds.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Brandon Hutchinson
It was first versus last this week at Shepley Oval, with the Dandenong Stingrays grabbing an easy win over the Bendigo Pioneers. Other than the light winds from the spectator side, the boys were gifted decent conditions. Dandenong led by 51 points at the main break, keeping Bendigo to a single goal, while also showing a less than average efficiency in front of the sticks themselves. Not much changed on that front come the second half, but it was still a 66-point margin that saw Dandenong to a comfortable win.
Jake Frawley starred for the stingrays up forward, kicking four for the game, with Zac Foot following close with three of his own. Despite kicking two behinds, Jai Taylor played some impactful football, along with Will Hamill and Campbell Hustwaite, all being effective with hands. Hustwaite also laid eight tackles for the game with Bailey Williams, and despite struggling off his set shots, keeping his contest work strong with four contested marks and eight hit outs. Midfield efforts were evident for both sides, but the Stingrays were much hungrier on the day.
If you watched the game on Saturday, there were times where you wouldn’t have been able to tell how one sided the affair was. Hunter Lawrence, Braydon Vaz and Jacob Atley were all effective by foot, countering Dandenong’s pressure with clean skills. Riley Clarke had a few shots in front of goal, kicking 2.2, with Lucas Caccaviello demonstrating more efficient football in hitting both his shots. The Pioneers were clean in their disposals and strong overhead, but struggled to match the Stingrays intensity around a contest.
Gippsland Power vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams
In a battle for a top four spot, Gippsland Power retained its second place on the table, and gained some breathing space with a victory over Western Jets. The Power burst out of the blocks with a five goals to two first term, before maintaining their advantage heading into the half with a 20-point lead despite inaccuracy on the scoreboard (3.8 in the second quarter). It was the third term which was the difference however, as Gippsland slammed home six goals to zero to blow the margin out to 57 points by the final break. Both teams booted 3.3 in the last quarter, but it was too little, too late for the Jets as Gippsland enjoyed its eighth win of the season.
Noah Gown was the star for Gippsland, booting five goals in a dominant performance up forward for the Power, as well as taking seven marks (two contested) and 18 disposals. Austin Hodge had 25 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s and two goals, while captain Xavier Duursma also booted two goals from 26 disposals and four marks, having four clearances and five inside 50s as well. Matthew McGannon was superb off half-back, using the ball at 78 per cent with his 23 disposals, seven marks, and covered ground with seven inside 50s and five rebounds. Irving Mosquito (14 disposals, eight inside 50s and a goal) and Boadie Motton (22 disposals and seven marks) were others who impressed for the winners.
For the Jets, captain Xavier O’Halloran returned and was the best for his side, racking up 25 disposals, six marks, six clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds. Defender Buku Khamis provided plenty of drive out of defence with six rebounds from 23 disposals, while Connor Thar was consistent once again with 22 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s and a goal. Stefan Radovanovic and Daly Andrews created run out of the back half with a combined 30 disposals and seven rebounds.
Murray Bushrangers vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Peter Williams
Murray Bushrangers have overcome a slow start to defeat Eastern Ranges and retain their place inside the top four. The Bushrangers booted the first goal of the day through Jordon Butts, but the next four went the way of the visitors to shock the home side early with Eastern holding a 19-point lead at the first break. Murray fought back to draw within 10 points at the main break and then ran away with it in the second half, booting six goals to one, recording a comfortable 26-point win.
Lachlan Ash was elite by foot with 91 per cent of his 22 disposals finding the target, and also had four inside 50s and four rebounds as well as seven marks. Ely Smith (24 disposals, four marks, five clearances and eight inside 50s) was again prominent in the middle, while Zane Barzen had plenty of opportunities up forward, booting 3.5 from 17 disposals and eight marks. Jacob Koschitzke continued his stellar form from the national carnival at TAC Cup level with 16 disposals and nine marks, teaming well with Nick Murray (23 disposals and seven marks) in the back half.
For Eastern, Kye Quirk had a game-high 26 disposals, three marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds to continue his strong form. Lachlan Stapleton and Mitch Mellis were again named Eastern’s best, combining for 47 disposals, eight clearances, eight marks and six inside 50s. Bailey White was the dominant forward for the Ranges, booting three goals, while Tevita Tauali’i was prominent in defence with seven rebounds from 22 disposals and three marks.