A FIVE-goal haul from potential top five pick, Ben King has handed Sandringham Dragons the final golden ticket into the preliminary finals after a regulatory 43-point win over Murray Bushrangers at Ikon Park yesterday afternoon. The Dragons looked ominous from the first bounce with a bullet pass from Morrish Medallist Liam Stocker right down the throat of King to deliver the opening goal of the game. King marked again, but this time kicked it out on the full, then kicked a behind with a third mark.
Up the other end, Murray Bushrangers’ and TAC Cup leading goal kicker, Hudson Garoni added his first off a strong mark and long bomb with the breeze. After two straight goals, it started a series of eight behinds which was polar opposite to the first game, which had 13 scoring shots for 11 goals in the first term, whereas this match had three goals from 11 scoring shots by the time the clever Lachlan Ash put through a major. He had created something out of nothing, and handed the Bushrangers a six-point lead at quarter time.
King’s second term was even more imposing than his first, taking four marks from seven disposals and booting 2.2. Both Ash and Garoni had chances to double up on their opening term goals, but missed, while King converted his first opportunity. Bottom-agers Finn Maginness and Jack Mahony worked their forward magic to help Sandringham to the lead midway through the second term, and when King nailed his second goal in the nineteenth minute, the Dragons held a three-goal lead. Will Kennedy missed a chance late, but the Dragons headed into the break with a handy 19-point lead at the ascendancy. Josh Worrell had a terrific second term, racking up 10 disposals and five marks coming out of defence and along the wing.
The third term was a lot closer, as Garoni, and the clever forward in Elijah Hollands both kicked goals and brought the margin back to seven points. Just as it looked like Murray would storm back into the lead, King stepped up again with another goal, as did big man, James Rendell who took a strong mark and kicked a long goal. Hollands responded to join Garoni on two goals each for the Bushrangers, but then it was the magic man once again who came to the party when required. King took a couple of marks from almost identical positions, the first of which he missed, then the second he had worked out the breeze and put it straight through the middle for his fifth.
A terrific Liam Stocker goal from long range had the crowd up and about, breaking the Bushranger hearts late in the term. For all the gallant work Murray had put in, the Dragons now led by 26 points and would have the breeze in the final term. Tom Boyd had been terrific down back with 22 disposals and nine marks to three quarter time, stemming the flow from the Dragons onslaught inside 50. Sandringham had plenty of chances, but Murray’s defence was holding up despite the deficit.
Murray needed an early goal to give them a sniff in the final quarter, but it was Maginness who got on the board first after six minutes of play. Garoni stood tall to answer for the Bushrangers a few minutes later and cut the deficit back to 27 points, but it was all Sandringham from then on. Angus Hanrahan decided he did not need the lead of King inside 50, going it alone from the arc and pumping home one of the goal’s of the day, with a huge kick that sailed through half post-high. If that did not seal the game, then Darcey Chirgwin put the final nail in the Bushrangers’ coffin with a 50m penalty kick from the goal square. His work up forward had been impressive, and he got reward for his effort with the major.
After three straight behinds to Sandringham in a game which had lost it’s intensity, Bailey Frauenfelder got a consolation goal for the Bushrangers after a strong lead, mark and set shot. But an after-the-siren goal to George Grey with his only kick for the match, put the cream on top of an ultimately sweet cake for the Dragons, in what was a solid effort ahead of the massive challenge that is, the Dandenong Stingrays next week.
The Dragons had plenty of contributors, with King finishing the day with five goals from 11 shots, including five behinds and one out on the full, as well as 19 disposals and a massive 11 marks (six contested), Stocker had 19 touches, two marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and one goal, while fellow midfielder, Mahony finished with 25 touches (15 contested), five clearances, five inside 50s and 1.2. Rendell was impressive through the ruck with 19 hitouts and two clearances, to go with 20 disposals, six marks (two contested), six inside 50s and one goal. Fellow tall, Corey Watts stood up in defence with eight marks (three contested) and five rebounds from 15 disposals. Worrell was busy cross the match with 20 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s, while Kai Owens returned to record a big game with 25 disposals, three marks, four clearances and four inside 50s.
For the Bushrangers, Garoni tried hard up forward with six grabs (one contested) and 13 disposals and 3.2, while Boyd was equally as strong up the other end with 24 disposals, 11 marks and 11 rebounds. Ash’s terrific bottom-age year finished on a high with 24 disposals, eight marks (one contested), two clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ely Smith‘s work around the stoppages was not to be understated, having three clearances, six inside 50s and 20 disposals. Others who impressed with Jimmy Boyer (18 touches, six marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds), Nicholas Irvine (18 disposals, 10 marks and three rebounds) and Ed Adams (16 disposals, five marks and five rebounds), while Hollands kicked the two goals from 14 disposals and six marks.
SANDRINGHAM 1.4 | 5.8 | 9.10 | 13.16 (94)
MURRAY 2.4 | 2.7 | 5.8 | 7.9 (51)
Sandringham: Ben King 5, Finn Maginness 2, Jack Mahony, James Rendell, Liam Stocker, Darcey Chirgwin, Angus Hanrahan, George Grey.
Murray: Hudson Garoni 3, Elijah Hollands 2, Lachlan Ash, Bailey Frauenfelder.
Sandringham: Ben King, Liam Stocker, Jack Mahony, James Rendell, Josh Worrell, Corey Watts.
Murray: Lachlan Ash, Ely Smith, Tom Boyd, Jimmy Boyer, Ed Adams, Elijah Hollands