TWENTY-TWO points was the greatest margin in what was, needless to say, a tight round of NAB League action. Oakleigh kicked off the weekend with an impressive second half performance to knock Western off, followed by dramatic low-scoring wins to Geelong and Eastern. The drama continued on Sunday as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) came back from the dead twice to edge home over Bendigo, rounding off a remarkable four games of Under 18S football.
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.2 | 4.3 | 10.5 | 12.8 (80)
WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 | 9.4 (58)
Oakleigh: N. Stathopoulos 3, A. Tassell 2, C. Sharman 2, A. Lukic 2, J. Lucas, L. Jenkins, S. Seach.
Western: A. Manton 5, B. Cootee 2, S. El-Hawli, D. Andrews
Oakleigh: L. Jenkins, V. Zagari, R. McInnes, L. Westwood, N. Stathopoulos, J. Lucas.
Western: J. Honey, A. Manton, L. Conway, B. Cootee, S. El-Hawli, K. Crimmins
A barnstorming second half saw Oakleigh get the better of Western and slot into the all-important third place, with all teams bar Tasmania having now played 14 games. The Chargers gave up a six-point half-time lead after heading into the first break with an identical margin to the good, but turned it on in typical Oakleigh fashion to boot six goals to Western’s nil in the third term. While Western managed to claw back a bit of the margin in an improved final quarter, it was to no avail as Oakleigh held firm despite missing both of its co-captains. Chargers midfielder Lochlan Jenkins was the standout with 35 disposals, 10 inside 50s and a goal, backed by fellow bottom-age ball finder Reef McInnes (28 disposals, seven marks, nine tackles). Over-ager Jeromy Lucas (26 disposals, six tackles) was another to stand up with some of the Chargers’ guns absent, while Nicholas Stathopoulos was efficient in front of goal to prize three goals from seven disposals and Cooper Sharman (10 disposals, 2.1) continues to excite. For the Jets, Archi Manton was just as economical with 5.1 from seven kicks to do most of the damage as his side’s only multiple goal kicker, but Josh Honey was named best for his 24-disposal effort. Over-ager Daly Andrews (23 disposals) keeps on finding the ball, with returning defensive duo Lucas Rocci and Josh Kellett doing the same and bottom-ager Billy Cootee booting a couple of handy goals. Both sides are set to play their final regular season games in the Avalon Airport Oval triple-header, with Western opening the show against Northern and Oakleigh closing it in a mouth-watering clash with Sandringham.
TASMANIA DEVILS 2.4 | 2.5 | 4.11 | 6.13 (49)
GEELONG FALCONS 3.1 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 8.8 (56)
Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Rand, P. Walker, J. Callow, J. Menzie.
Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Annandale 2, C. Seymour, J. Clark, A. Hildebrandt
Tasmania: O. Davis, J. Rand, S. Banks, O. Shaw, J. Lane.
Geelong: O. Henry, C. Sprague, C. Fleeton, J. Clark, N. Gribble, H. Whyte
It was tough going, but Geelong finally managed to stand up in the final term and record its second win for the year, scraping past Tasmania to win by seven points on enemy territory. The game came to life in the final term after the Devils cut Geelong’s 17-point half time margin to just one heading into the last turn, with a heated scuffle ensuing at three-quarter time. It all looked like unravelling as Tasmania got on top early in the final period, but a strong final five minutes and clutch goals to Max Annandale and Chris Seymour got the Falcons home. There were plenty of standouts despite it being a bottom-two clash, with bottom-agers Oliver Henry and Oliver Davis clearly best for their respective sides. Henry reverted back to a defensive role, dominating in the air to pull down 11 marks, while Davis was relentless through midfield with 23 disposals and 10 tackles. Cameron Fleeton (21 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) complimented Henry well down back while keeping Jackson Callow to eight disposals and one goal, with skipper Jesse Clark (21 disposals, eight tackles, one goal) enjoying some midfield time and Charlie Sprague dangerous up forward with 3.2. For the Devils, Matt McGuinness continued his consistent form with 20 disposals and eight rebound 50s, while Jack Rand (16 disposals, 2.1) was good in just his second game and 16-year-old Sam Banks (14 disposals) also impressed. While the Devils can enjoy a week off, Geelong will look to finish its regular season strongly despite being cemented to last spot as it meets Dandenong in Round 17.
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 0.5 | 2.5 | 5.5 | 6.5 (41)
EASTERN RANGES 1.5 | 1.6 | 4.10 | 5.16 (46)
Dandenong: E. Cahill 2, C. Ellison 2, J. Nanscawen, W. Howe
Eastern: J. Ross 2, B. Hickleton, H. Keeling, M. Brown
Dandenong: C. Gay, H. Young, B. Nyuon, N. Heath, J. Nanscawen, E. Cahill
Eastern: J. Ross, M. Mellis, J. Nathan, T. Garner, B. McCormack, T. Sonsie
Dandenong fell agonisingly short of snapping its seven-game losing streak, going down by five points to ladder leaders Eastern at Shepley Oval. Six straight goals after quarter time was not quite enough to account for a wasteful 0.5 opening, with the equally wayward Ranges getting over the line after scrounging five behinds in the final 15 minutes to crawl to victory. It was the top-end talent of Dandenong that saw it draw close, with Hayden Young continuing his fine form to collect 26 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s, while Ned Cahill booted two goals from 18 touches, and Bigoa Nyuon was prominent in the air with 20 hitouts and seven marks. Despite their efforts, bottom-ager Clayton Gay (15 disposals, six marks, six tackles, six rebound 50s) was named the Stingrays’ best in a well-rounded performance, with Jack Toner (27 disposals) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. For the Ranges, who have now locked in top spot due to a sizeable percentage, skipper James Ross was terrific in a role further afield – collecting 20 disposals, taking seven marks and kicking two goals. Zak Pretty (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (24) found plenty of the pill, while consistent tall Billy McCormack (20 disposals, 22 hitouts) proving just that and 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie (20 disposals, five marks, six tackles) acclimatising nicely to the level. With first place all but nailed down, the Ranges move on to face Calder in the ultimate round, while Dandenong will eye off a win heading into Wildcard Round when it meets Geelong to end the regular season.
GWV REBELS 3.2 | 3.3 | 9.7 | 13.11 (89)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.2 | 8.2 | 10.4 | 13.7 (85)
GWV: I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rentsch 2, J. Rantall 2, F. Marris, M. Martin, M. Herbert, B. Hobbs, M. Jorgensen
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 4, W. Wallace 2, J. Treacy 2, A. Gundry, S. O’Farrell, J. Evans, B. Worme, B. Rowles
GWV: J. Rantall, C. Craig-Peters, T. Mahony, I. Grant, J. Rentsch, P. Glanford
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan, J. Treacy, A. Gundry, J. Schischka, J. Evans, B. Worme
By: Cam Ross
The Bendigo Pioneers travelled to MARS stadium on Sunday for the battle of the two central Victorian teams.
The first quarter saw both sides wanting to play a free-flowing game. Pioneers midfield took advantage and Riley Wilson and Josh Treacy were really important. The highlight of the first quarter was Treacy’s brilliant running goal from inside the centre square. Two goals late, one with a lucky bounce for Ben Hobbs and a delightful finish on the run from Matty Lloyd looked to be enough to give the Rebels a lead into quarter time, but the red hot Treacy won the free kick with a nice tackle, and converted the set shot to keep the scores locked at 20 at the first break.
The Pioneers started the second where they left off in the first with Aaron Gundry converting after a nice pack mark in front of goal, and within a minute, some poor discipline from the Rebels cost them again and the Pioneers got a 50 metre penalty, putting them in the square again. The Rebels needed to respond around the ball, and with gun onballer Jay Rantall being closely checked it was up to Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony to attempt to have more of an impact. The Pioneers simply kept on winning the stoppages, and kicked six straight goals, meaning that a six-point Rebels lead at the 23-minute mark of the first quickly became a 29-point deficit half way through the second. Jed Hill and Rantall (around the ground) were winning enough ball for the Rebels, but didn’t have many helpers in the first half. The Rebels couldn’t kick one major in the second term and were crippled by their ineffectiveness to move the ball inside 50. The Pioneers on the other hand were sensational. Their five straight goals in the second, meant they were able to capitalise on their midfield dominance and really put it on the scoreboard.
The Rebels needed a spark to start the second half, and when Josh Rentsch was finally was on the end of some decent service to start the third quarter, the Rebels looked to get the start they needed. He missed this shot, but the ball was locked in the forward line, and then Lloyd gave them that early goal. Rantall’s following goal was one for the highlight reels. The Rebels gun took the ball on the wing, hit the leading target, receiving the ball back for a delightful finish on the run. Rantall’s dominance at start of the quarter continued, winning a free kick, bounding away and kicking long to a contest where naturally gifted forward Martin finished the job. The Rebels kicked three straight goals early in the third to drag themselves back into the contest. The Rebels completely dominated the third term, being first to the footy, and remarkably turned around the deficit inside 15 minutes. However, The Pioneers finished the term well and took a three-point lead into the final change.
The Pio’s Jack Ginnivan took full advantage of a questionable free kick two minutes into the final term, giving the Pioneers a dream start. The Pioneers began to win a lot more of the ball around the ground, and as they had all day, the Pioneers forwards were taking their presented opportunities. When Ben Worme kicked a delightful set shot, the margin drifted out to 16 points. After this, and the Pioneers put cruise control on late in the game, and three goals from Mitchell Jorgensen, Izaac Grant and Rentsch made it a one point game in the blink of an eye and when Grant kicked his second goal in five minutes the Rebels had amazingly taken the lead. With only seconds remaining, the ever reliable James Schischka, intercepted the ball off the Rebels rebound, and quickly put on the boot where it magically ended up in the hands of Noah Walsh. The Pioneers forward unfortunately missed the goal on the siren, leaving the Rebels as four-point victors. Rantall was best for the home side, while Treacy and Schischka played well for the Pioneers in extremely entertaining contest where both sides deserved to win.