Classic Contests: Dragons down Rebels with final term turnaround

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 18 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Sandringham Dragons and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, when both sides were cemented in the top eight, the Rebels were called North Ballarat, and the Dragons managed to snatch four points on the road.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 11
Saturday June 25, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

NORTH BALLARAT REBELS 7.0 | 9.1 | 11.3 | 13.5 (83)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.1 | 4.2 | 9.6 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS:

North Ballarat: J. Johnston 7, S. Beks 2, I. Johnson, J. Jones, J. Harrison, M. Scales
Sandringham:
J. Trew 4, W. Walker 2, H. Burt, K. Beveridge, C. Larkin, H. Mclean, L. Harris, A. Sakeson, I. Morrisby

BEST:

North Ballarat: J. Johnston, C. Wellings, J. Wheelahan, J. McQueen, C. Cox, N. McRoberts
Sandringham:
J. Trew, A. Sakeson, R. Hayward, K. Nissenbaum, T. Maloney, H. Burt

Draftees in action:

North Ballarat: Cedric Cox, Jamaine Jones, Flynn Appleby
Sandringham: Will Walker, Hayden McLean

The Sandringham Dragons and GWV Rebels have not faced each other since May in 2017, but produced a captivating contest just a year prior to that at Mars Stadium. Both sides boasted stacked squads and were firmly entrenched in the finals race. While they met amid the early fixturing of that year’s Under 18 National Championships, the two regions had enough depth to put on a quality showing.

Playing at home, the Rebels came in at 6-4, enough to put them in sixth spot. They had just come off a loss to the Geelong Falcons after winning six games in a row. The Dragons were six points clear at 7-2-1 to slot into third place, and looked to be turning back into some form with consecutive wins which followed two-straight losses. North Ballarat would be without the likes of Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage, with Sandringham had to go without Tim Taranto, Will Setterfield, Andrew McGrath, and Oliver Florent, among others.

It meant the Rebels were able to get the early jump, storming out of the blocks with seven-straight goals to Sandringham’s two in the opening term. The 29-point lead held at the first break remained exactly the same at half time as either side added two majors to their tallies, but the hosts looked rather comfortable out in front.

That comfort wouldn’t remain for too much longer, though. After the two teams went goal-for-goal across the first 15 minutes of the third term, Sandringham piled on three unanswered majors late in the piece to bring the margin back to within two goals. That same momentum carried on into the final period of play, as North Ballarat could not quite hold on in the face of the Dragons’ scoreboard pressure. The visitors would sneak over the line by four points in a remarkable late turnaround.

A couple of big goal hauls headlined the effort on either side, with North Ballarat’s Jordan Johnston booting seven, while Sandringham’s Josh Trew managed four. North Melbourne draftee Will Walker snared two majors, while Cat-turned-Eagle Jamaine Jones also found the big sticks, and Cedric Cox was named among the Rebels’ best players. Cal Wellings was terrific with 32 disposals, and Ari Sakeson pushed his case with 18 disposals, seven marks, and a goal.

The two regions went on to swap ladder positions come the end of the regular season, with North Ballarat jumping to third (12-5), while Sandringham slid to fifth (11-5-1). It mattered little for the Dragons, who claimed the 2016 TAC Cup premiership and had seven players go in the National Draft – including five in the first 11 picks. North Ballarat bowed out to Oakleigh in the semi finals, and had six players drafted from its squad that year.

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