Category: Classic Contests

Classic Contests: Wayward Dragons survive Falcons scare

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Geelong Falcons and Sandringham Dragons. In this edition, we wind back the clock just over a year to when the two sides played out a thriller on neutral territory.

2019 NAB League, Round 10
Saturday June 8, 11:30am
Mars Stadium, Ballarat

GEELONG FALCONS 3.1 | 6.3 | 7.9 | 8.10 (58)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 0.3 | 1.7 | 4.8 | 7.18 (60)


Geelong: C. Sprague 3, O. Henry 2, K. Rayner, G. Bove, C. Harris.
G. Grey, L. Lamble, K. Yorke, J. Florent, O. Lord, J. Voss, R. Bowman.


Geelong: L. Smith, G. Bove, C. Harris, C. Fleeton, J. Paterson, O. Barrow 
J. Bowey, J. Castan, J. Lloyd, W. Mackay, N. Burke, A. Perkins

The Geelong Falcons and Sandringham Dragons have played out some epic NAB League (formerly TAC Cup) encounters over the years. In our latest Classic Contest, we’ve opted to relive their most recent meeting, a two-point thriller which saw blustery Ballarat conditions wreak havoc on the scoreboard.

The Round 10 clash saw two sides in very different form come together; with Sandringham riding out some mid-season inconsistency and a raft of team changes to sit second (6-2), while Geelong was beginning to unearth its bottom-aged cohort after a 1-6-1 start to the season which saw them placed 16th on an extended competition ladder. The Falcons had lost three-consecutive games, a far cry from Sandringham’s three wins in its last four outings.

But the country region threw the form guide out into the Ballarat wind and proceeded to kick ahead early, managing three goals to nil in the opening term, and extending its lead to 26 points at half time. Given Sandringham had managed just 1.7 to the main break, the margin seemed like a mountain too high.

Having found their kicking boots during the second interval, the Dragons came out in the third term with three goals to remain a fighting chance at reigning back the Falcons. It seemed they would need more than another three-goal period to get over the line, and while 10 behinds helped, a hat-trick of majors still proved vital in seeing Sandringham home. Final minute minor scores from Archie Perkins and Jake Bowey made up the difference between the two sides, as the Dragons snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Perkins and Bowey ended the game with a combined 0.8, but made up for it with some stellar forward momentum to help Sandringham kick into gear. Geelong duo Charlie Sprague (three goals) and Oliver Henry (two) accounted for over half of their side’s score, as the game’s sole multiple goal kickers. Fellow Falcon Charlie Harris led all comers with 27 disposals and a goal, while Angus Hanrahan (26 disposals) was Sandringham’s leading ball winner. Lachlan Smith was named Geelong’s best player in the defeat.

The Falcons would go on to finish 15th of the 18 teams to compete in last year’s NAB League, with their 3-11-1 record pitting them against Sandringham once again in Wildcard Round. The Dragons (fourth, 9-6) dismantled their less experienced opposition to the tune of 103 points, played on another neutral ground in Preston City Oval. Sandringham’s 2019 run was brought to a half by eventual premier, Oakleigh in the preliminary finals.

Classic Contests: Eight-goal first term helps Falcons eliminate Bushies

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Geelong Falcons and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2012, when the two sides met in a free-flowing elimination final.

2012 TAC Cup, Elimination Final
Saturday September 1, 11:45am
Princes Park

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.1 | 6.3 | 8.7 | 9.8 (62)
GEELONG FALCONS 8.0 | 8.0 | 12.1 | 16.6 (102)


Murray: K. Antonowicz 2, J. Porter 2, J. Cousins, L. Howe, N. Drummond, M. Taberner, T. Clurey
T. Batarilo 3, D. Bond 2, S. Dixon 2, J. Sharp 2, M. Wood 2, L. Taylor, D. Lang, A. Christensen, D. Gardiner, J. Saunders


Murray: L. Hampton, J. Cousins, S. Martyn, M. Gibbons, J. Woodcock, M. Brett
T. Gribble, J. Saunders, M. Wood, S. Dixon, J. Tsitas, F. Fort

Draftees in action:

Murray: Tom Clurey, Matt Taberner, Josh Prudden, Nathan Drummond, Michael Gibbons, Jarman Impey
Geelong: Josh Saunders, Mason Wood, Darcy Fort, Lewis Taylor, Nick Bourke, Darcy Gardiner, Darcy Lang, Sam Russell

An eight-goal to nil first term helped set up the Geelong Falcons’ 2012 elimination final triumph over Murray, proving the perfect start to their TAC Cup finals campaign. The Bushrangers went into the clash as a steady favourite having finished fifth at 10-7. Their double-digit win tally was two figures higher than that of Geelong, who landed in eighth spot with an 8-8-1 record.

Form was not exactly kind to either region, as they both failed to win in three of their last six outings. The two sides had met twice before in that season, and the ledger sat at one win apiece after Murray won by 34 points in Round 4, while Geelong snuck home by three points in Round 10. As was the case in those fixtures, this knockout bout would be played on neutral territory.

Clearly out to prove they weren’t making up the numbers, the Falcons shot out of the blocks and put all eight of their first term scoring shots through the big sticks. But it was their turn to go goalless in the second period, as Murray hit back with six majors to keep within reach at the main break, still nine points adrift. The fightback would only spur Geelong back into action though, as the lower-ranked side clicked back into scoring gear with four goals in each of the final two terms to run out comfortable 40-point winners.

Prolific state leaguer Tom Gribble was named Geelong’s best on the day, racking up a monster 40 disposals, while draftees Mason Wood (18 disposals, eight marks, two goals) and Josh Saunders (22 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) were also amongst it. Scott Dixon was another to find both the ball and goals with 22 touches and two majors, while James Tsitas had it 25 times. Other AFL products to feature included Darcy Lang (20 disposals, one goal), Lewis Taylor (17 disposals, one goal), Nick Bourke (22 disposals), and Darcy Fort (26 hitouts).

Even as a bottom-ager, Michael Gibbons managed to accumulate a mountain of possession for Murray, finishing with 30 disposals. Lonnie Hampton (16 disposals) was named the best Bushranger though, followed by Joseph Cousins (10 disposals, five marks, one goal). Among the future draftees afield, Tom Clurey and Nathan Drummond both hit the scoreboard, while Josh Prudden gathered 21 disposals, Jarman Impey had 15, and Matt Taberner booted a goal from his 10 disposals and six marks.

While the Bushrangers’ promising season ended there and then, the Falcons would go on to face Sandringham in the semi finals. They went down by 25 points, with the 2012 season most famous for its famous golden point Grand Final where Jack Macrae won Oakleigh a thriller against Gippsland.

Featured Image: Brian Bartlett/News Corp

Classic Contests: Coffield winner sees Knights sink the Stingrays

Featured Image: Robert Prezioso/AFL Media/Getty Images


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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Dandenong Stingrays and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017, when the Knights hosted their county counterparts in an early-season heart-stopper.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 6
Saturday May 6, 10:30am
Preston City Oval

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 0.1 | 5.3 | 6.3 | 10.9 (69)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.6 | 5.7 | 7.12 | 9.12 (66)


Northern: J. Shea 4, N. Coffield 2, J. Petruccelle, S. Binion, O. Stapleton, B. Gillard
T. De Koning 3, J. Nanscawen 3, R. Piper, L. Young, H. Clark


Northern: J. Shea, J. Petruccelle, O. Wilson, S. Binion, J. Grace, M. Andrews
A. Paterson, T. Murphy, J. Davies, T. Dekoning, B. Williams, W. Hamill

Draftees in action:

Northern: Nick Coffield, Jack Petruccelle
Dandenong: Hunter Clark, Tom De Koning, Tom Murphy, Lachie Young, Sam Fletcher, Bailey Williams, Will Hamill

>> Scouting Notes: 2017 TAC Cup – Round 6

There wasn’t much splitting the Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays as they readied to face-off in Round 6 of the 2017 TAC Cup season. Both regions sat comfortably in the top eight with 3-2 records, but were searching for their first set of consecutive wins having struggled to string together consistent form to that point. Barring a draw, one of the two sides would do so in this game.

A bunch of top-end junior talent missed out on taking to Preston City Oval for the clash, with Northern going in without Patrick Naish and Tom McKenzie, while the likes of Aiden Bonar, Luke Davies-Uniacke, and Oscar Clavarino were among Dandenong’s glaring top-age absentees. Still, quality remained in the form of Nick Coffield and Jack Petruccelle for the home side, with Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning among the most promising Stingrays to feature in the line-up.

Boasting arguably a greater depth of talent, the Stingrays sought to take toll as they began proceedings kicking towards the slightly advantageous end. Two majors was the best they could manage from eight scoring shots, though keeping Northern goalless helped to build a handy quarter-time buffer. After breaking five goals ahead in the second term, that lead was slashed in the as Northern piled on its first five goals to remain just four points adrift at the main break.

The game began to close up a touch in the third period as Dandenong looked to consolidate. The Stingrays boasted a 15-point lead at the last break, and stretched it to 21 in the final term, but the Knights weren’t done yet. Having only managed six goals across the first three quarters, Northern sunk home four late majors to snatch a memorable home victory, with Coffield swinging forward to claim the winning goal. Pressure machine Ollie Wilson also stamped his impact, with the most important of his 11 tackles coming in the dying stages as his Dandenong opponent ran into an open goal.

Jamison Shea was named best for his four-goal performance in the navy, black, and white. Petruccelle was lively with 20 disposals and a goal, while Coffield finished with two majors from 22 touches, and the likes of Mitch Andrews (32 disposals, 12 marks) and Braedyn Gillard (23 disposals, 10 tackles) also made an impact. Angus Paterson was Dandenong’s best with seven marks down back, followed closely by the likes of Tom Murphy (29 disposals) and De Koning (three goals). Fellow draftees Bailey Williams (19 hitouts) and Will Hamill were also named among the best, while Clark racked up 34 touches and laid seven tackles in the loss.

After finally claiming consecutive wins, the Knights would go on to add just three more for the remainder of the season. They finished eighth at 7-10-1, losing convincingly to Oakleigh in their elimination final dig. Dandenong (12-6) improved to third come the end of the regular season, and while the Stingrays pulled off a terrific finals win over Eastern, they were knocked out by eventual premier, Geelong one game away from the Grand Final.

Classic Contests: Falcons down Swans to earn first win for 2019

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Geelong Falcons and Sydney Swans Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock just over a year to last season, when the two sides met as part of Swans’ five-game NAB League cameo.

2019 NAB League, Round 6
Sunday May 5, 12:00pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 6.5 | 8.8 | 12.12 (84)
SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 7.11 (53)


Geelong: O. Henry 4, W. Batson 2, C. Brauer 2, S. Ham, W. Kilpatrick, C. Seymour, J. Makuey
K. McGrath 2, E. Gulden, L. Swaney, B. Campbell, H. Ellem, S. Gaden


Geelong: J. Clark, C. Harris, C. Karpala, L. Smith, S. Bourke, O. Henry
A. Watling, E. Gulden, R. van Huisstede, M. Geddes, L. Parks, B. Campbell

2019/20 AFL Academy members in action:

Geelong: Jesse Clark, Henry Walsh, Noah Gribble, Oliver Henry
Hamish Ellem, Luke Parks, Josh Rayner, Braeden Campbell, Errol Gulden, Marco Rossmann

The Sydney Swans Academy had the opportunity to take out the NAB League Academy Series when they took on Geelong in Round 6 of the 2019 season. At a flawless 4-0 in their cameo to that point, the Swans needed only another win or draw to clinch top spot among their northern counterparts. The Falcons were winless at 0-3-1, with their sole points coming in a draw to reigning premier, Dandenong.

Adding to their lack of winning form, the Falcons would also go in without the likes of Cooper Stephens and Tanner Bruhn through their respective long-term injuries. Stephens’ absence left Jesse Clarke with the sole captaincy responsibilities, though the top and over-age representation was high. Sydney came in at relative full strength, only missing Jackson Barling from its AFL Academy group.

On neutral territory in Sandringham, the Swans were able to register the same amount of scoring shots (1.3) to Geelong (2.2) in the opening term, but conceded a quarter time deficit despite going ahead twice. After reclaiming the ascendancy 15 minutes into the first period, the Falcons never looked back. The Victorians had an answer for each test the Swans threw out, most importantly in the final term as they stretched a five-point buffer out to 31 by the final siren. Not only did the result signal Geelong’s first win for the campaign, but it also allowed the Gold Coast SUNS Academy to take out Academy Series gold from under Sydney’s noses.

Skipper, Clark was named best afield for Geelong, accumulating a game-high 25 disposals which included six marks and eight rebound 50s. A bottom-aged Oliver Henry booted four goals in a signal of intention for this year’s draft, while Charlie Brauer and Will Batson also booted multiple majors (two each). Small midfielders Charlie Harris and Chas Karpala were others to be named among the Falcons’ best half-dozen players.

Aidan Watling took out best afield honours for Sydney with his 15-disposal effort, while bottom-aged wombo combo Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell contributed 22 touches and a goal apiece. Max Geddes (17 disposals, nine rebound 50s) was also around the mark for the Swans, while Sam Thorne racked up a team-high 24 touches – his best effort across the five games.

The win didn’t exactly kickstart a Falcons resurgence in 2019, with the country region only managing to add two more victories to its season tally. The Falcons finished the year 15th on the extended ladder at 3-11-1, and lost to Sandringham by 103 points in Wildcard Round. The Swans were beaten out by Gold Coast via percentage as far as the Northern Academies go, finishing with a respectable 4-1 record.

Featured Image: George Salpigtidis/AFL Photos/Getty Images

Classic Contests: Saad’s seven fires Cannons to victory over Chargers

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Gippsland Power and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to early 2017, when the two sides went down to the wire in a game of heavy momentum swings.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 9
Saturday June 4, 11:30am
Highgate Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 1.5 | 4.9 | 7.14 | 9.16 (70)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.3 | 8.6 | 8.6 | 9.8 (62)


Calder: M. Saad 7, K. Brown, B. Ronke
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker


Calder: M. Saad, B. Ronke, Z. Guthrie, H. Blythe, B. Caluzzi, B. Bernacki
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker

Draftees in action:

Calder: Ben Ronke, Zach Guthrie
Oakleigh: Jordan Ridley, Taylin Duman

Conditions at Highgate Reserve often blanket the ability of even the most potent match winners, but all the rain and wind in the world could do little to stop Muhammad Saad in early June, 2016. The brother of Essendon speedster, Adam put on a seven-goal show to inspire his Calder Cannons to a comeback victory over the Oakleigh Chargers in Round 9 of the TAC Cup season,

The Cannons needed something special to turn their season around, sitting 10th with two wins from eight games – including losses in their first four outings, and two in the last fortnight. Oakleigh was faring a touch better in seventh at 4-4, but had lost three of its last four games in what was the start of a mid-season skid. The Chargers would also go in without a considerable amount of top-end, top-age talent, including the likes of Josh Daicos, Nick Larkey, and Ed Phillips.

But through the weather and absentees, Oakleigh showed its class with a five goals to one opening term, making much better of its eight scoring shots (5.3) compared to the hosts’ six (1.5). The buffer would remain relatively the same heading into the main break, as the Chargers got out to a six-goal lead, but had the margin reigned back to 21 points at half-time.

Saad had already clicked into gear, booting a couple of majors to keep his side within reach, before flicking the switch midway through the third term to help the Cannons hit the front. The game was on the line with Calder ahead by two points at three quarter time, and the ascendancy would change hands multiple times in the final term. Saad proved the difference again, putting the Cannons back in front for good as they ran out eight-point victors.

With seven of Calder’s total nine goals, the number 43 was inevitably named best afield for his remarkable exploits inside forward 50. Ben Ronke was one of two other Cannons to hit the scoreboard, with fellow draftee Zach Guthrie played his part up the other end of the field. Adam Moate booted three majors for Oakleigh, while Xavier Jordan was named the most valuable Charger.

The result proved somewhat of a turning point for the Cannons, as they shot back into finals contention and eventually finished the regular season in seventh (8-9). The Chargers landed in sixth with an identical record, but exacted revenge with a 106-point elimination final belting, before eventually going down in the preliminary finals to Murray.

Featured Image: Greg Kowalczewski/News Corp

Classic Contests: Jets, Power share 36 minor scores in Round 4 thriller

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Gippsland Power and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to early 2017, when the two sides went down to the wire in a game of heavy momentum swings.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 4
Saturday April 22, 2:00pm
Downer Oval

WESTERN JETS 3.10 | 4.11 | 5.15 | 9.21 (75)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.3 | 5.9 | 9.12 | 9.15 (69)


Western: C. Thar 2, O. King, J. Hazik, Z. Butters, L. Hitch, J. Noonan, J. Dundon, B. Smokrovic
M. McGannon 2, I. Mosquito 2, W. Broadbent 2, C. Henness, A. Quigley, N. Hogan


Western: J. Dundon, Z. Butters, B. McGregor, S. Radovanovic, C. Thar, N. Stuhldreier
W. Stephenson, S. Masterson, J. Hudson, T. Bindley, B. Motton, A. Hodge

Draftees in action:

Western: Tristan Xerri, Buku Khamis, Zak Butters, Xavier O’Halloran
Gippsland: Callum Porter, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito

A pair of teams looking to even up their negative records met in Round 4 of the 2017 TAC Cup season, with Gippsland and Western sitting on the precipice of the top eight at 1-2 apiece. The Power had just broken through for their first win of the campaign a week earlier, while the Jets’ sole set of premiership points were earned in Round 2.

Some notable bottom-age talent took the field, with current Port Adelaide wombo combo Zak Butters (Western) taking on Xavier Duursma (Gippsland), while the highly touted Xavier O’Halloran also lined up for the Jets, and soon-to-be Essendon debutant Irving Mosquito was stationed up forward for Gippsland. Arguably the most glaring absentees were Western’s best two top-age prospects, in Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty.

In somewhat of an omen for things to come, Western made the better start, albeit an inaccurate one shooting towards the scoring end at Downer Oval, Williamstown. A Mosquito major split the Jets’ 3.10 with one quarter played, and ended up being the difference come half time after Gippsland enjoyed its own period of dominance in the second term. A four-point lead was extended to 21 at the final break, as the hosts continued to struggle in front of goal.

A mad scramble for the Jets’ kicking boots must have finally become fruitful over that break, as Western stormed home with four goals to nil in the fourth period to snatch victory by a single goal. Gun small midfielder Connor Thar got the ball rolling with two majors in the opening 10 minutes, before Jack Noonan sealed the deal with less than 60 seconds left on the clock.

Judah Dundon, whose late third term goal gave Western a sniff, was named his side’s best player ahead of Butters and Thar, while O’Halloran racked up 23 disposals. Will Stephenson was adjudged the top Power performer with Sean Masterson in tow, while Mosquito added two goals to Gippsland’s cause and Aiden Quigley had 25 touches.

The Jets weren’t able to scrape themselves into finals contention throughout the year, finishing the regular season in 10th at 6-12. Gippsland scrounged enough wins to do so with eight triumphs carrying the Power to seventh place. Their season was brought to an emphatic end at the hands of eventual premier Geelong, who beat them by 85 points in the first round of finals. Gippsland also won the reverse fixture between these two sides by 16 points in Round 17.

Featured Image: Mike Owen/AFL Media

Classic Contests: Tailwind helps Jets soar past Bushrangers

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the two sides threw down in an epic elimination final.

2013 TAC Cup, Elimination Final
Sunday September 1, 2:00pm
Princes Park

WESTERN JETS 4.2 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 10.12 (72)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 7.1 | 8.4 | 9.6 | 9.9 (63)


Western: D. Iaccarino 3, J. Sicily 2, M. Singleton, J. Greiser, C. Ellis, L. Hickey, B. Myers
N. Holman 2, M. Gibbons, B. Squire, J. Sharp, N. Sneyd, M. Brett, M. King, J. Neagle


Western: J. Greiser, D. Iaccarino, L. Hickey, H. Walshe, C. Ellis, D. O’Leary
M. Gibbons, J. Cousins, N. Sneyd, J. Impey, N. Mellington, K. Cary

Draftees in action:

Western: James Sicily, Brett Bewley, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow, Jayden Laverde, Connor Menadue, Corey Ellis, Liam Duggan
Murray: Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, Jarman Impey, Max King, Daniel Howe, Kayne Turner

The first week of NAB League (formerly TAC Cup) finals always delivers on upsets and high drama, with most sides near full strength and firing on all cylinders in hopes of impressing on the eve of draft time. Murray was the side hoping to throw a spanner in the works as it met Western for an elimination final clash in 2013, set to face one of the stronger Jets squads of the last decade – a team which beat them by 63 points in Round 8.

Streaks of form were noticeable in the recent form lines of either team, with Murray (8th, 9-8) having just snapped a three-game losing run to bring some slight winning form into finals, while Western (5th, 9-7-1) had its streak of three-consecutive victories cut at the worst possible time. But among a top eight where third was separated to eighth by just four points, anything was possible in the post-season.

The Bushrangers proved just that with a sizzling seven-goal opening term, and while they opened up a handy 17-point buffer, the Jets weren’t too far behind having managed four majors of their own. After such a frantic start, the scoring came to a grinding halt in the second and third periods, with either side managing just two goals each over the 50-minute period.

Western had cut the quarter-time gap by just two points in that time, but were soon about to flick the switch and boost past a fast-starting Bushrangers outfit. Four unanswered goals saw the Jets enact an even 24-point turnaround in the final term, seeing them get over the line by nine points. They managed six goals to Murray’s two after quarter time after promising a shootout, controlling the game well and opening it back up on their terms to advance to the semi finals.

Jake Greiser (31 disposals, one goal) and David Iaccarino (28 disposals, three goals) were named the victors’ best players, while a bottom-aged Corey Ellis was also thereabouts with 21 touches, and James Sicily chimed in with two goals. Michael Gibbons (29 disposals, one goal) found a heap of ball as usual to be name Murray’s best, with fellow draftee Jarman Impey also impactful. Blue-turned-Sun Nick Holman booted two goals for the Bushies.

While Murray’s season was brought to an end there and then, Western lasted only one more week as Calder bundled it out of the premiership race in the semi finals.

Classic Contests: Late Pioneers charge falls short against the Stingrays

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Bendigo Pioneers and Dandenong Stingrays. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the sides met in Round 7 of the formerly named TAC Cup competition.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 7
Saturday May 18, 1:00pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.1 | 3.3 | 6.5 | 9.5 (59)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 6.4 | 8.8 | 10.12 | 10.16 (76)


Bendigo: J. Helman 3, B. Poyser, D. Darby, F. Payne, J. Maher, I. Miller, H. Conway
B. Hartung 3, M. Rennie 2, J. Lonie 2, C. McCartney 2, B. Egan


Bendigo: J. Helman, F. Payne, J. Chisari, L. Barrett, D. Jones, I. Miller
K. Gray, J. Pickess, Z. Jones, M. Rennie, B. Hartung, J. Bastinac

Draftees in action:

Bendigo: Jaden McGrath, Billy Evans
Dandenong: Billy Hartung, Zak Jones, James Harmes, Jack Lonie

There haven’t been many close games between the Bendigo Pioneers and Dandenong Stingrays over the last decade, with the closest battle decided by a margin of 17 points in 2013. As has often been the case, Dandenong got up on that day, led by a trio of top-aged future AFL draftees, who helped fend off a late surge from the Pioneers.

The two regions came into their Round 7 TAC Cup clash with opposite records; as the Pioneers had just snapped a three-game losing streak to sit 11th at 2-4, while the Stingrays were riding a four-game unbeaten run having started the season at 0-2. Their now 4-2 record had them poised nicely in fourth.

Somewhat true to form, it was the Stingrays who shot out to an early lead, notching 10 scoring shots in the opening term to soar 21 points ahead. That margin was extended to a formidable 45 points in the following period as they managed to keep the Pioneers goalless across 25 minutes, but that’s where the buck stopped.

While the deficit was ultimately unassailable, Bendigo outscored its opponent in the final two terms to greatly reduce the final margin, booting three majors in each period and keeping Dandenong goalless in the last. The Pioneers’ accuracy (9.5) was still not enough to combat Dandenong’s weight of scoring chances (10.16), as they suffered a fifth loss for the season.

Kyle Gray was named best afield for the winners, credit to his 14 disposals and nine marks at 100 per cent efficiency. Billy Hartung was exceptional with 33 disposals and three goals, supported well by fellow draftee Zak Jones (17 disposals, seven marks). A bottom-aged Jack Lonie also found the big stick with two majors, while James Harmes collected 20 touches.

For Bendigo, Joel Helman‘s three goals saw him recognised as the best in a losing effort, while Fergus Payne (14 disposals, one goal) and Isaiah Miller (30 disposals, one goal) were others in the top six to have hit the scoreboard. Jacob Chisari (29 disposals, 10 tackles) was also lively around the ball, as future draftees Jaden McGrath and Billy Evans were kept to 18 touches between them.

Dandenong would go on to have a strong season, qualifying for the grand final after finishing the regular season in third at 10-7. While they went down in the decider, the Stingrays managed to knock off Bendigo once again during the home-and-away allotment, by a much more comfortable 70 points at home in Round 13. That was one of 14 losses for the Pioneers in 2013, as they finished 11th having gone down in their last eight outings.

Classic Contests: Chargers and Rebels go down to the wire in semi final showdown

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, when the sides threw down in a tense semi final.

2016 TAC Cup, Semi Finals
Sunday September 11, 2:15pm
Princes Park

N. BALLARAT REBELS 2.2 | 6.4 | 8.5 | 12.8 (80)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.4 | 6.5 | 10.7 | 12.14 (86)


N. Ballarat: S. Beks 3, H. Dawborn, A. Domic, J. Korewha, I. Johnson, W. Drew, T. Williamson, C. Cox, L. Huppatz, J. McQueen
D. Johnstone 3, E. Phillips 2, P. Kerr 2, J. Daicos 2, J. Higgins, V. Adduci, N. Larkey


N. Ballarat: C. Wellings, H. McCluggage, W. Drew, C. Bilney, J. McQueen, J. Harrison
C. Lane, E. Phillips, D. Stanford, N. Reeves, V. Adduci, T. Wooller

Draftees in action:

N. Ballarat: Cedric Cox, Hugh McCluggage, Jamaine Jones, Willem Drew, Tom Williamson, Lloyd Meek
Oakleigh: Ed Phillips, Taylin Duman, Dion Johnstone, Nick Larkey, Patrick Kerr, Jordan Ridley, Josh Daicos, Ned Reeves, Toby Wooller, Jack Higgins

A lot has changed since 2016; the North Ballarat Rebels are now known as the Greater Western Victoria Rebels, and the premier Victorian Under 18s competition has been rebranded to the NAB League. But one thing that has barely changed of late, particularly for the Oakleigh Chargers, is their ability to produce AFL-worthy prospects, of which were on show during a tight TAC Cup semi final showdown.

16 players who took to Princes Park as the Rebels and Chargers went to battle would eventually land on AFL lists, split 10-6 in favour of Oakleigh. It could have been more too, with both sides missing a key top-age gun each. The Rebels went in without Jarrod Berry, who was arguably built for finals football, while Oakleigh was missing bigman Sam McLarty. But with a heap of quality remaining and both sides near full-strength, a spectacle was still there to be had.

The Rebels were clearly the superior side throughout the regular season, having earned a second finals chance by finishing third at 12-5. They had beaten Oakleigh by 39 points in Round 6, and boasted a six-game winning streak in the lead-up to finals. That second chance would come into play after a loss to Geelong in the qualifying finals, on the same weekend that Oakleigh won its elimination dig over Calder by 106 points. It meant the Chargers had won four on the trot after finishing sixth (8-9), and would look to bundle the Rebels out in straight sets.

An early break went the way of the underdogs too, despite two Shannon Beks goals for North Ballarat in the first 10 minutes. The Chargers held a one-point lead at the main break, with no side able to string together a streak of over two goals to that point. While Aiden Domic put the Rebels ahead with an early third term major, Oakleigh soared back in front with four unanswered goals of their own – only halted by Jake McQueen‘s late steadier.

With everything to play for in the final period, Tom Williamson got North Ballarat off to the perfect start with a goal in the second minute, and after a 15-minute stalemate, Jarrod Korewha brought the margin back to a single kick. Oakleigh looked to have done enough with two quick replies but the Rebels were not done yet, and bridged the gap once more. A handy Ed Phillips point with a minute on the clock would make it tough for North Ballarat at seven points down, proving as much as they went down by six points.

Two players who were unlucky to miss out on being drafted that year, Cal Wellings and Campbell Lane were named best afield for their respective sides, and ended up as teammates in Collingwood’s VFL squad. It was no surprise to see the likes of Hugh McCluggage and Willem Drew amongst the action for North Ballarat, while Phillips and a bottom-aged Toby Wooller were influential for Oakleigh. Eventual draftees Dion Johnstone (three goals), Patrick Kerr (two), Josh Daicos (two), Jack Higgins (one), and Nick Larkey (one) all hit the scoreboard for the victors.

Oakleigh’s finals charge would grind to a halt at the very next stage, going down to Murray by 44 points.

Classic Contests: Bushrangers scrape into the eight with narrow win over Knights

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 another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the sides locked horns in the final round of the home-and-away season.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 17
Saturday August 24, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 5.0 | 5.4 | 7.8 | 9.10 (64)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.5 | 5.7 | 6.10 | 8.13 (61)


Murray: J. Schache 4, M. King, D. McDonald, J. Impey, N. Holman, K. Turner
Northern: H. Curnow 2, L. Hunt, M. Haynes, S. Peet, C. McCabe, W. Murphy, B. Lennon


Murray: K. Turner, D. Howe, M. Gibbons, J. Schache, N. Holman, J. Impey
Northern: B. Lennon, L. Hunt, H. Curnow, J. Short, M. Bontempelli, J. Potter

Draftees in action:

Murray: Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, Jarman Impey, Max King, Daniel Howe, Kayne Turner, Josh Schache
Northern: Marcus Bontempelli, Ben Lennon, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Kyle Langford

The scenario was simple for Murray heading into the final TAC Cup round in 2013; beat the fifth-placed Northern Knights, and you make finals. Sandringham was lurking just two points adrift, and would have the chance to capitalise on any slip-up from the Bushrangers in the weekend’s final fixture. With the fate of their season in their hands, the country region delivered at the death.

Looking at the form guide, one could hardly be blamed for counting Murray out, as it would have to halt a three-game losing skid against a higher-ranked opponent just to guarantee a post-season spot. Northern had produced the goods towards the back-end of the season too, coming in with wins in six of its last seven outings. Both teams were at relative full-strength, with a total of 12 future AFL draftees taking the field – split seven to five in Murray’s favour.

Out to prove their credentials, the Bushrangers slammed home five-straight goals in the opening term to signal their intentions. Northern remained in the hunt, but could only manage 2.5 from its superior weight of scoring shots. That factor would take toll in the second period, as the Knights booted three unanswered majors to take a three-point advantage into the main break.

The less-than one goal swing was reclaimed by Murray heading into the final turn, leaving everything to play for across the remaining 25 minutes. Knowing full well of the finals ramifications, Northern made it tough for the hosts and even outscored them, but was unable to get back on top as Murray held on to win by three points. Both sides booted two goals each in the final term, making for a grandstand finish.

An incredible four goals from 16-year-old talent Josh Schache proved massive for Murray in the steady-scoring affair, but it was Kayne Turner who was adjudged the victors’ most valuable player. All six of the Bushies’ best players went on to make the AFL grade, as Daniel Howe, Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, and Jarman Impey joined the aforementioned pair. Top-age gun Ben Lennon was recognised as Northern’s best player, with Jayden Short and Marcus Bontempelli also among the action.

Despite the result, Northern would go on to have the better post-season run of the two sides; beating Gippsland in a week one elimination final, but going down to eventual premier, Eastern in the semis. Murray would immediately bow out of finals despite boasting a stacked squad, losing to Western by nine points in their knockout dig.