A FULL round of TAC Cup action and we were at four games on the weekend, casting an eye over proceedings at Box Hill, Preston, Craigieburn and Sandringham. We also noted down some top performers in Wangaratta and Colac.
Eastern Ranges vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels
By: Peter Williams
#11 Mitch Mellis
The bottom-age midfielder won a lot of his possessions in close on the move with quick fire handballs to teammates and then ran on to receive the ball back. Early on in the contest he was one-on-one with an opponent, handballed to space to his advantage to give himself an extra second, then cleanly picked it up and handballed it off to a teammate. Finished off his hard running with a set shot goal in the final term.
#23 Xavier Fry
Created some great run and carry as well as metres gained coming out of defence. Had a few well-placed kicks, but made the odd error, which included a handball straight to Matt Schnerring just before quarter time and was made pay. He charged into the next contest and showed his intent to make up, and continued to provide drive out of defence.
#31 James Blanck
One of Eastern’s more composed users, the noticeable trait is his clean spoiling ability – he gets a fist to it well. He positions himself in the defensive hole and was okay by foot. He swung forward in the final term and presented well, giving off the hands to Chayce Black who goaled. He used some good bodywork up forward and his second efforts when down there were impressive. Showed he is capable of playing down forward if needed.
#3 Scott Carlin
Had a big first term, not necessarily in terms of possessions, but each handball to space was effective. He made some good decisions by hand or foot and took a good intercept mark cleanly in the air. He delivered well inside 50 to hit-up a target as well. In the final term, he intercepted a handball from the running Adrian Kalcovski, then used his agility to sidestep him and then kick long to Charlie Wilson in the forward pocket.
#6 Charlie Wilson
The most consistent forward in the competition continued with another bag of five goals. He started a little shaky in the first term, rushing a kick inside 50 but then went forward and provided a vital target down there. His strength in the air and ability to clunk marks cleanly is something that makes him stand out compared to other forwards. Wilson was consistent across the final three quarters, booting two goals in the second term, two in the third term and one in the last quarter, mostly from set shots, with the last being an opportunistic snap in front of goal.
#14 Jed Hill
Started the game with an intercept mark at half-forward and delivered a well drilled pass inside 50 to Lochie Dawson. His transition work between midfield and forward was good; did not win a lot of the football, but continued to work hard. In the third term he was important in setting up a scoring chain, pinpointing Izaac Grant in the middle which lead to a Charlie Wilson goal down the track. He had a chance to goal in the third term, but was pushed as he kicked it, as his shot bounced through for a behind.
#20 Tylar Watts
Had a game where most of the work he did was off the ball rather than on the stats sheet. All you can ask of a big man is to contest and go for his grabs, which he did. Took a couple of big clunks, but still dropped a couple as well. His most important mark was a pack mark on the defensive goal line in the third term. He also worked hard back towards goal, spoiling a Mitch Mellis certain goal in the third term across the line. Covered the ground well.
#21 Izaac Grant
The bottom-age goal sneak has always been smart around goals and seems to find the right positions, but in this weekend’s game I was happy with his tackling pressure which is vital for a small forward. He is strong in the air, uses his body well and keeps his feet. Assisted in a scoring chain in the third term, kicking well to Harris Jennings at half-forward. Booted two goals himself as well.
#24 Matty Lloyd
Had the ball on a string for most of the day and played off half-back and along the wing. Had a lot of outside ball and could have made better decisions at times in terms of lowering the eyes, but spread well and covered a large amount of ground. Was used in transition between defence and attack quite a lot, rebounding and pumping the ball inside 50 on numerous occasions.
#30 Isaac Wareham
Another bottom-age talent who continues to have glimpses of brilliance. A perfectly weighted kick to Izaac Grant in the first term to pinpoint him in between two opponents was great. He showed cleanliness at ground level, and defensive pressure as well. Wareham ran down an opponent in the forward 50, earned a free kick and then kicked a goal on the half-time siren. Clean and strong performance.
Northern Knights vs Gippsland Power:
By Michael Alvaro
#1 Ryan Gardner
It was a quieter than usual day for Gardner, who built into the game slowly. The conditions set up a great opportunity for him to show off his run and carry ability, but the bottom-ager only managed to pop up in patches with his trademark dash. Opposing a red-hot Matthew McGannon on the wing for most of the contest, it proved a big test of Gardner’s two-way running, but he showed an aptitude for seeing out the game as he found more of the footy in the second half and began to carry it forward. It was good to see the Vic Metro representative continue to take the game on after being caught holding the ball in the third term, that’s what he’s best at.
#4 Tom McKenzie
Having taken on leadership responsibilities for the match, much was expected of McKenzie leading up to the first bounce. The Ivanhoe product started nicely with a goal out of nothing, booting the ball home from 50 after a scramble around the arc. It would prove to be one of his only highlights of the game though, despite accumulating a good amount of possessions and pushing his side forward from the back. McKenzie spent a heap of time through the midfield too, digging in to claim a few clearances. While his kicking out of defence was a highlight in the National Championships, the Metro star could not quite get the same form going and turned it over at times with rushed kicks out of congestion.
#7 Harrison Grace
This was one of Grace’s better performances in terms of what he was able to produce with ball in hand. The Fitzroy junior looked composed in traffic, weaving his way through danger and cooly picking out teammates with handballs. Assuming his regular position at half-forward and advancing to the wing, Grace would often be seen pushing high up the ground and working his way back towards goal, providing a good contested link between the arcs. While his time on the ball was key, Grace had other standout moments with an intercept mark in the first term leading to McKenzie’s only goal, and a strong fend off on McGannon allowing him to push the ball forward.
#17 Josh D’Intinosante
While the TAC Cup Radio team may have trouble with the pronunciation of his name at times, ‘JD’ proved once again to be largely no-fuss on the field. The bottom-ager’s attack on the ball was superb early on, as he beat two opponents to the punch with an impressive gather in the first term. He went on to produce a smart checkside goal in the same quarter, and narrowly missed an opportunistic dribbler later on. While he had a large amount of midfield minutes, D’Intinosante looked so dangerous forward of the ball and his smarts inside 50 helped him snare a second goal late in the piece to round out a solid performance.
#4 Sam Flanders
Flanders continued his impressive form with another strong outing in multiple roles. Assuming his most natural half-forward position to start the game, the Vic Country goalkicker was hard at the contest early despite limited opportunity. His high flies for marks in the first half were a standout, and he brought that facet of his game with him in a move to half-back. Remaining a kick behind the ball, Flanders set up well and was able to quell a lot of the Knights’ attacks. With the game on the line and Gippsland needing goals, the bottom-ager was swung back forward with immediate impact, booting the first major of the final term to spark the Power’s onslaught. Flanders’ repeat efforts and ability to find a way to constantly win the ball was terrific, and was matched by his efficient use by foot.
#5 Xavier Duursma
The skipper led from the front right off the bat, and his first quarter goal stemmed the flow of a surging Knights outfit. Duursma was terrific in the midfield congestion, snatching his fair share of hard ball gets and showing a good five-meter burst to push his side forward from the midfield. While his explosiveness from stoppages was a highlight, his goal in the last term to seal the win after getting absolutely poleaxed by Northern’s Joel Randall summed up his game pretty nicely.
#9 Irving Mosquito
There’s always a bit of buzz about the Power when Mosquito is near the ball, and he once again provided some nice moments. The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy prospect played mostly deep forward under the presence of big-man Noah Gown, and made an ideal start with his long-range set shot goal in the opening term. While he drifted in and out of the game at times, he came right back into it with a courageous contested mark late on, as well as a good bit of foot-candy in the final quarter which led to one of Gown’s five goals.
#12 Brock Smith
While it was not one of his best games, Smith was still able to pitch in with some moments that remind us why he has stood out as a bottom-ager. He showed clean hands early when the game was being hotly contested, and stood up well under some immense pressure in defence. A solid outing.
#18 Matt McGannon
McGannon was once again prolific throughout the game, accumulating a wealth of possessions from the wing and half-back. Despite making a horror start with a turnover leading to Tom McKenzie’s goal, the over-ager provided solidarity to protect his defence and rebound accordingly. He had a couple of nice runs in the third term, helping himself to a bounce or two, and was damaging with both inside 50 entries and exits. At times during the second half he did turn the ball over with long balls forward, where he may have found a shorter target under less pressure, but overall it was another solid outing.
#22 Rylan Henkel
Henkel played his role well in the ruck, and used his sizeable leap to help the Gippsland midfield get on top. He did well to follow up with some tackles and took a couple of marks around the ground to help provide an exit out of the Power’s defence.
#23 Noah Gown
Gown was again in sensational form, matching last week’s haul of five goals in a solid forward display. While he was not in the game at all times, he managed to hit the scoreboard when given the opportunity and began to dominate in the last quarter with strong marks on the lead deep into the pocket. His goals undoubtedly came at crucial moments, with his fourth and fifth pushing Gippsland into the lead late on. Gown could well have ended up with six or seven majors, but sprayed almost identical opportunities with snaps that ended up out on the full. While his marking on the lead and presence inside 50 were a standout, Gown also found other avenues to goal with a sneaky one off the ground, and one where he worked his opponent under the ball nicely to head into an open goal.
#25 Kyle Reid
The red-headed full-back was as solid as ever, continuing the breakout form he showed in the National Under 18 Championships. He was fierce early, crashing contests and having a real go with some hard tackles. His ability to win one-on-ones and turn defence into rebound is sensational, and he was rarely beaten when long balls came his way as he reads the ball so well. The TAC Cup Radio team summed up his game nicely, describing him as being “cool in a crisis”, which was largely needed for Gippsland as they kept within touch going into the final term.
#29 Boadie Motton
While he was quiet for parts of the game, Motton showed glimpses of his best form and ran hard to push the pace when going forward. There’s not much of Motton, but he was good overhead and pulled down some crucial marks in positions where he needed to. His run and carry proved dangerous, and he was rewarded with a big long-range goal on the fly in the second term.
Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Ed Pascoe
#5 Curtis Taylor
With his first game since coming back from playing National Championships, Taylor had a very quiet game by his standards finishing the game with only 11 disposals and no goals. Taylor showed nice movement on the wing early in the game, getting out of trouble with ease. He dropped an easy mark late in the first quarter, with the windy conditions being considered as a factor but it was his lack of second effort really stood out in that contest recording no tackles for the game. Taylor however did start the second quarter well competing hard in the midfield almost winning a classy clearance with his good judgement and movement when receiving the ball from the tap out. In the third quarter he took some nice marks and his kicking was solid. Taylor like many of his teammates struggled in the last quarter.
#8 Lachlan Sholl
Sholl had a shaky start to the game with a few fumbles but he really lifted as the game went on often setting up the play with his run and good disposal. He took a quality contested mark in the second quarter and worked hard down the wing to hit up a target on his non-preferred kicking inside 50. Sholl did not fumble in the second term with his work by hand a standout feature. He continued this into the third quarter winning plenty of the ball at half back he finished the game with 27 disposals.
#30 Mitchell Podhajski
Podhajski was the standout midfielder over both teams winning 33 disposals in a well rounded game that included a set shot goal in the first quarter and half a dozen marks and tackles. Podhajski had a few poor kicks inside 50 as both sides tried to adjust to the windy conditions, but his kicking improved as the game went on with some nice penetrating kicks. He roved well at stoppages and his handballs and vision where a step above anyone else in the midfield for the day, his work rate was important as was his voice around the contest.
#9 Zac Foot
Foot had a quiet game recording only 11 disposals and just the one behind which was a running shot at goal hitting the post in the last quarter. Foot took some nice marks in the first quarter when plenty of taller players struggled in this area, kicking wasn’t at his best in the first quarter but it got better as the game went on. Despite the low disposal count Foot still competed hard when the ball was there to be won which was promising from a smaller player, he will be hoping to bounce back and hit the scoreboard next week after having one of his better games last week.
#13 Riley Bowman
The conditions did not suit Bowman, who had one of his quieter games for the year recording only 10 disposals and no goals. Bowman did his best work in the ruck winning plenty of hit outs, with the amount of talls Dandenong had he spent a lot of time on the bench swapping with players such as Bailey Williams, Bailey Schmidt and Stephen Cumming. Apart from a kick into the man on the mark, his disposal was good throughout the day especially by hand, second efforts could have been there more often but when he did he laid a good tackle.
#29 Bailey Williams
Williams was the standout big man on the ground despite some wayward kicking at goal early on. His first nice mark in the opening quarter was followed by an absolute howler kick that went out on the full, he would however not make the same mistake with another strong mark later in the game leading to a goal. The windy conditions made it tough for the talls but he still managed to take plenty of good marks and if he was not able to mark it, he at least flew at the contests showing his intent. Williams would repeat his goal kicking woes in the third quarter, but one of those missed shots came from a fantastic contested mark. Despite the wind playing a big part in the missed shots, he was still the standout key forward through the day, always looking like a threat. He finished the game with two goals, eight marks and 17 disposals.
#58 Will Hamill
Despite a slow start to the year Hamill earned selection for the National AFL Draft Combine. He started the game in the midfield and despite his light frame he was able to win some of his own ball with his clean hands and slick handballs really standing out in the first quarter. Hamill was a very composed player throughout the day, he was caught once for holding the ball which was no fault of his own. Though his speed has been questioned at times, it is his class and agility that often gives him ample time to use his lethal left boot. Hamill was moved to half-back after the first quarter taking a few nice intercept marks and hitting some lace out passes by foot. He finished the game with 14 disposals.
Sandringham Dragons vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Owen Leonard
#7 Liam Stocker
Leading the Sandringham midfield, it was a typically authoritative performance from the Dragons onballer, with 21 kicks from 35 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal. While Stocker’s ability to rest forward and hit the scoreboard has been notable this season, he played purely through the midfield in the absence of usual stalwarts Bailey Smith, Alastair Richards, Harry Houlahan and Kai Owens. In windy conditions at Trevor Barker Oval, the first-round prospect kicked a freakish left-foot goal in the second term. After appearing to miss its intended target, the Sherrin — aided by the breeze — had a mind of its own, somehow evading the Pioneers’ defence before bouncing through for a miracle major. The Haileybury product was bumped crudely into the fence in the dying stages, but appeared unscathed as the final siren sounded, confirming an eight-point Dragons victory.
#28 James Rendell
The Brisbane Lions father-son prospect did his draft chances no harm with a solid display despite unfavourable weather for key-position players. Rendell managed a game-high seven marks, to go with 20 hitouts and 18 disposals. Applied impressive pressure for a big man, too, laying four tackles. Also managed a pair of behinds in blustery conditions.
#39 Jai Florent
The younger brother of Sydney Swans midfielder Ollie, Florent is starting to secure his position in the Dragons line-up with an impressive two-goal effort on Sunday. Playing as a small forward, the bottom-ager found enough of the football — while applying strong pressure around the goals with five tackles — to warrant further selection. Gaining vital experience at TAC Cup level this season, Florent could be one to watch in 2019.
#16 Jacob Atley
Managing 19 disposals and six marks across the backline, the younger brother of North Melbourne regular Shaun and Port Adelaide midfielder Joe, Jacob Atley provided speed, skill and leadership out of defence, and was among the better players on the ground in a tight encounter on Sunday afternoon. Since winning a junior league best and fairest in 2014, the Bendigo skipper’s talent has been obvious. While his stats haven’t stood out throughout his 2018 TAC Cup campaign, Atley’s ability to break the lines is sure to have club recruiters taking notice.
#20 James Schischka
Another among the best in Sunday’s affair, Schischka’s intercept marking ability was prominent in a close loss. The impressive key-defender plays a game similar to that of West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern, and his capacity to read the play is exceptional, seemingly unfazed by the wind-affected, unpredictable direction of the Sherrin. Drifted forward at stages, but was unable to convert in the howling wind after a good grab inside-50 early in the final quarter. Finished the game with 16 disposals, four marks and six tackles.
#25 Flynn Perez
It was a more-than-respectable performance from the Bendigo midfielder, who contributed well with 17 disposals, four marks and five tackles. Since surviving an injury scare a month ago after a heavy landing from a contested mark playing school football, Perez has compiled a consistent string of games together, and has become one of the Pioneers’ most dependable performers.
Other games’ notes:
Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets
#5 Ely Smith – The inside midfielder had 18 disposals, starting finishing strongly with 12 disposals in the second half. He was strong at the stoppages, racking up nine clearances, including four centre bounce clearances. Smith also finished with four inside 50s and two rebounds in a solid performance.
#7 Zane Barzen – After three goals last week, Barzen finished Round 13 with two majors from four scoring shots, to go with 14 disposals and six marks. He started with a bang in the first term, racking up six disposals before booting the opening goal in both the second and third terms.
#18 Hudson Garoni – The TAC Cup leading goal kicker was at his dominant best in the air. Not kicking a bag like he has in past weeks, Garoni was still too strong for his opponents, taking a game-high 10 marks, including three contested to go with his 15 disposals, three inside 50s, and impressively, two rebounds. The stats showed the amount of ground he covered during the game.
#33 Xavier O’Halloran – When Murray applied the pressure in the final term, O’Halloran was one to stand up, having six final quarter kicks – three more than any other Jet. He finished with 16 disposals, seven clearances, six inside 50s and booted a goal against the flow early in the final term.
#38 Buku Khamis – The rebounding defender certainly had his hands full with Murray’s efficiency inside 50. He had the three rebounds to go with 18 disposals – including 10 kicks at 100 per cent efficiency! Khamis took five marks, one of which was contested.
#39 Stefan Radovanovic – Named in Western’s bests, Radovanovic found the ball and used it well, kicking at 70 per cent by foot. He took a couple of marks and had four rebounds, getting back to the form he has showed throughout the season, using his dash to advantage.
Geelong Falcons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
#20 Brayden Ham – Ham’s superb season continued on the weekend, playing off half-back and having five rebounds to go with his 20 disposals and showing his versatility to play at either end once again. He is not afraid to attack the contest, winning the majority of his possessions one-on-one and shows strength by extracting the ball and kicking forward.
#22 Sam Walsh – Not much to be said about Walsh that has not been said before. Another 33-disposal game to go with six inside 50s, six rebounds and six clearances. He covers the ground incredibly well, wins the ball with ease and hurts the opposition whenever he goes near it. Laid six tackles on the weekend too which was good to see highlighting his ability to impact the contest.
#41 Cooper Stephens – The bottom-age prospect racked up 17 disposals and laid a strong seven tackles on the weekend, as well as having five clearances.
#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins – Not usually a handball-dominant player, Collier-Dawkins found little space, having to work in close and deliver 14 handballs in his 15 disposals, winning the majority in tight. He had three clearances, two inside 50s and laid a team-high 10 tackles showcasing his intent to win the footy.
#23 Isaac Quaynor – The Collingwood Next Generation Academy member was Oakleigh’s best player at Colac, playing further up the ground than his usual half-back flank. He amassed 21 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s and two clearances. He showed good composure and class around the contest to help move the ball out of dangerous areas.
#26 Jake Gasper – The exciting small forward was able to find the ball up the ground, while still having an impact on the scoreboard. Gasper booted 3.2 from 18 disposals, laying nine tackles and having four clearances and three inside 50s to go with it. He continues to press his claim with consistent performances throughout the season.