Tag: bailey schmidt

NAB League Boys Round 8 wash-up: Mixed bag sees three games decided by under a goal

ROUND 8 of the NAB League Boys season threw up three close results, as well as three not so close ones. Calder broke the early trend of tight finishes with a huge victory to keep Murray languishing near the bottom, while Tasmania brought it to league-leaders Dandenong in another surprise scoreline. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.10 (40)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 2.6 | 3.8 | 6.10 (46)

GOALS:
Northern:
S. Brazier, R. Gardner, S. Philp, J. Zapantis , J. Trudgeon
Oakleigh: T. Graham 2, D. Williams 2, T. Lovell, R. Sklavenitis

BEST:
Northern:
S. Philp, R. Sturgess, R. Gardner, L. Potter, K. Brandt, J. Davies
Oakleigh: L. Jenkins, D. Williams, J. Woodfull, J. May, S. Seach, M. Steiner

By: Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers scraped home in a dour low-scoring affair, overcoming a three-quarter time deficit to beat the Northern Knights by six points. The match served as a curtain-raiser to the NAB League Girls finals at Shepley Oval, but both sides came out slowly on the big stage to play out a deadlocked 1.2 apiece first term. It proved much of the same in the following quarter, but Oakleigh managed to hold on to a two-point lead at half time after kicking the first goal of the term through Spiros Sklavenitis. The Knights hit back following the main break after Oakleigh’s Thomas ‘Love Machine’ Lovell again ensured the Chargers had the first goal of the quarter, with majors to Ryan Gardner and Joel Trudgeon putting them in a winning position heading into the last turn. It wasn’t to be though, with Dylan Williams‘ inspired move forward proving the difference as the Oakleigh co-captain booted two last quarter goals and assisted another to help his side sneak ahead and hold on. Bottom-aged Chargers Lochlan Jenkins (23 disposals, eight clearances) and Fraser Elliot (28 disposals, six clearances) were terrific in midfield, with the wing pairing of Josh May (24 disposals, six inside 50s) and Jeromy Lucas (23 disposals) also finding plenty of the ball. Thomas Graham joined Williams as the only other Oakleigh multiple goal-kicker, with no Knight achieving the same feat. Sam Philp (28 disposals, nine clearances) and Gardner (15 disposals, seven inside 50s) were named amongst Northern’s best and also found the goals, with Ryan Sturgess (19 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) resolute in defence and Lachie Potter (17 disposals) providing plenty of run. A second-consecutive narrow win sees Oakleigh sneak into the top eight, with Northern just outside on three wins as the competition heads into a development weekend.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 4.0 | 6.0 | 10.1 | 12.2 (74)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 4.10 | 6.12 | 10.18 (78)

GOALS:
Bendigo:
J. Dick-O’Flaherty 3, J. Treacy 3, R. Clarke 2, J. Evans, K. Attwell, J. Schischka, Z. Murley
Sandringham: J. Florent 2, E. Soylemez 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, T. Spencer, J. Bell, M. Bergman

BEST:
Bendigo:
W. Wallace, J. Treacy, J. Evans, J. Ginnivan, W. Shaw, R. Wilson
Sandringham: C. Watts, M. Bergman, A. Hanrahan, R. Byrnes, J. Voss, J. Bell

By: Joe Lee

A wasteful Sandringham escaped with a four-point victory at Victoria Park, Echuca, with Bendigo pushing the Dragons right until the final siren. Whilst Bendigo made the most of their entries, Sandringham was the antithesis, recording 18 behinds. Miles Bergman was outstanding but was the main culprit, kicking five behinds and only one goal. In what was a consistently tight contest, Bendigo managed to hold a 19-point lead early in the fourth, but Sandringham fought back to run out eventual victors. It was the Pioneers’ efficiency inside 50 that kept them in the game, registering 14 shots from 24 inside 50s compared to the 54 inside 50s for Sandy. Ryan Byrnes and Bergman continued their sensational form for the Dragons whilst Riley Wilson worked hard for the Pioneers. The win cements Sandringham as one of the teams to beat whilst Bendigo are left languishing down the lower echelon of the ladder.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.3 | 8.4 | 10.5 | 10.7 (67)
CALDER CANNONS 6.2 | 11.4 | 15.7 | 18.9 (117)

GOALS:
Murray:
C. Wilson 3, B. Kelly 2, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, L. Fiore, Z. Barzen
Calder: F. Evans 3, J. O’Sullivan 3, S. Ramsay 2, B. Bozinovski 2, N. Gentile 2, J. Kemp 2, A. Righele, S. Graham, D. Mott, T. Browning

BEST:
Murray:
B. Kelly, C. Wilson, C. Wild, L. Fiore, S. Durham, D. Bedendo
Calder: N. Gentile, B. Newman, J. O’Sullivan, A. Righele, D. Mott, T. Browning

By: Michael Alvaro

The Calder Cannons continued their recent upward trend, with a 50-point victory over Murray Bushrangers on Saturday making it three wins from their last four outings. After having their previous win streak broken by the highly-fancied Gippsland Power last week, the Cannons came out firing with 11 goals in a high-scoring opening half. While Murray managed to stay with them throughout the first two stanzas, Calder thwarted the home side’s scoring after the main break while piling on a further eight majors to come out comprehensive winners. Draft Central player of the week nominee Ned Gentile was named best afield for his 24 disposals, eight clearances and two goals, while Daniel Mott was the leading possession-getter on the ground with 29 and Brodie Newman (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) again impressed. Calder had an impressive 10 individual goal kickers with Francis Evans and Jeremy O’Sullivan booting three, while Sam Ramsay was one of four others to find multiple goals. Murray also three players kick multiple goals as Cameron Wilson booted three, and Ben Kelly and Hudson Kaak each had two with Kelly named their best as he pushes for mid-season draft selection. Cam Wild (27 disposals, six clearances, one goal) clearly led the Bushrangers’ possession count, with Wilson and Jimmy Boyer the next best on 16. The Bushies’ biggest loss of the season sees them stuck much closer to the bottom than expected with two wins, while Calder has shot up to ninth – equal on points with four top-eight sides.

GEELONG FALCONS 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.10 (22)
WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 5.6 | 7.6 | 7.8 (50)

GOALS:
Geelong:
C. Brauer, L. Smith
Western: A. Clarke 2, A. Manton 2, J. Honey, B. Ryan, S. Clifford

BEST:
Geelong:
K. Rayner, S. Bourke, L. Smith, H. Stubbings, J. Clark, W. Kilpatrick
Western: L. Rocci, W. Kennedy, D. Andrews , K. Crimmins, D. Cassar, J. Horo

By: Taylah Melki

The Western Jets put on a strong defensive effort to limit the Falcons to a mere two goals for the game while applying plenty of attacking pressure themselves. The Falcons had plenty of opportunities however, inaccuracy killed them unable to capitalise on scoring chances registering 10 points. It was a tight tussle to start with as the both sides only managed a goal in the first quarter but the Jets pushed away as the game went on, piling on four goals to none in the second term to ultimately set up the game for them. In the last term, the Falcons had all the play winning the ball out of the middle and peppering the goals but they could not convert slotting 1.5 to the Jets 0.2. Western were led by Darcy Cassar who was prolific amassing a game high 41 disposals while Daly Andrews was also important for the Jets winning the ball at the coalface and delivering it to teammates on the lead. Aaron Clarke and Archi Manton made their presence felt on the scoreboard nailing two goals apiece while Josh Honey was equally important with his 11 touches and one goal. For the Falcons William Kilpatrick and Harry Stubbings were impressive winning their fair share of the ball and using it well. Stubbings was the leading disposals winner for Geelong with 27 to go with his seven clearances showcasing his hard work across the ground. Charlie Sprague was also impressive applying strong pressure to win the ball and offering good leads to be a constant option for the Falcons racking up four inside 50s. Another key player for the Falcons was Keidan Rayner who contested hard to win the ball and created plenty of attacking forays with five inside 50s and six clearances.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 4.5 | 4.7 | 8.8 (56)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.1 | 5.1 | 6.3 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:
Tasmania:
H. Allan 2, M. O’Neill 2, M. McGuinness, C. Stephenson, B. Gordon, W. Peppin
Dandenong: C. Gay 3, M. Riordan, W. Bravo, D. Popa, J. Nanscawen, D. Gould, L. Goonan

BEST:
Tasmania:
O. Davis, B. Gordon, E. Jackson, M. McGuinness, J. Callow, O. Shaw
Dandenong: B. Schmidt, N. Heath, H. Berenger, J. Nanscawen, C. Gay, D. Popa

By: Michael Alvaro

The Tasmania Devils were this time on the wrong end of a third-consecutive game decided by less than a goal, going down to ladder-leaders Dandenong by four points on home turf. In what was a thrilling final term where Tasmania snatched the lead for just the second time on the back of four unanswered goals, Dandenong’s Declan Gould came up clutch to break Tasmanian hearts with a goal in the final five minutes. Returning Devils star Mitch O’Neill almost proved a match-winner with his two majors both coming in the final quarter after a steady opening three, but bottom-ager Oliver Davis was the clear standout, collecting a game-high 33 disposals and nine inside 50s. Ethan Jackson (24 disposals, eight tackles), Bailey Gordon (23 disposals, eight clearances), and Matt McGuiness (21 disposals, one goal) were the other Devils to impress with solid amounts of ball throughout. The Stingrays also had a number of contributors, with over-agers Bailey Schmidt (14 disposals, 42 hitouts) and Mitch Riordan (23 disposals, five clearances) leading the way. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was the only Dandenong player to boot multiple goals, finishing with three from his 15 disposals, while Jai Nanscawen made a steady return with 18 disposals and a goal. The win serves as Dandenong’s fourth-straight, helping them to consolidate top spot in an undefeated premiership defence to date. Meanwhile, the Devils will be happy with the level of competitiveness they have shown, sitting a win outside the top eight with three already on the board.

GIPPSLAND POWER 5.3 | 9.5 | 12.6 | 15.8 (98)
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.7 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:
Gippsland: J. Smith 3, M. McGarrity 2, S. Flanders 2, F. Phillips 2, J. McGrath, H. Neocleous, M. McGannon, L. Connolly, R. Baldi, T. Baldi
GWV: F. Macdonald 3, L. Herbert, J. Rantall, P. Rea

BEST:
Gippsland: F. Phillips, R. Baldi, J. Smith, S. Flanders, J. van der Pligt, B. Smith
GWV: J. Rantall, J. Cleaver, H. Sharp, J. Tillig, J. Dwyer, F. Macdonald

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland powered to a big win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Windy Hill in the standalone game on Sunday afternoon. In a game that the Power controlled from the first bounce, Gippsland piled on five goals to one in the first quarter, and by half-time had nine majors on the board to the Rebels’ two. GWV tightened up in the second half and hit the scoreboard themselves, booting four goals to the Power’s six in a much more even half, but the game was done and dusted by that stage. Fraser Phillips was impressive in the forward half with 24 disposals, five marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and two goals from five scoring shots, while Riley Baldi was the top ball winner with 29 touches, five marks, eight tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Also impressive for the Power up front was Josh Smith who rotated through the ruck and had 16 hiouts, 11 clearances, 22 disposals, four marks and three goals in one of his best games for the season. On the inside Sam Flanders (25 disposals, five clearances, four inside 50s and two goals) was good, while Jake Van Der Plight and Brock Smith were also impressive. For the Rebels, Jay Rantall racked up 30 disposals, six clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the standout Rebel once again, while James Cleaver (16 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Harry Sharp (16 disposals, five marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) were also named among the best, while Fergus Macdonald hit the scoreboard with three majors.

NAB League Boys Round 7 preview: Top four clash headlines ladder-shaping weekend

THE Northern Academies have come and gone in the NAB League, and proceedings will continue as normal for the remainder of the year as the ladder begins to take shape. A top four clash looms as the game of the weekend, with a host of bottom-half sides set to jostle for position in an important round of action.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Fresh off their first NAB League season win, the Geelong Falcons will be hoping for more of the same when they host Murray Bushrangers in Avalon. While both teams can only lay claim to one win thus far, Geelong sits a ladder spot above its weekend opponents having also picked up a draw. Bad luck has also followed either side to this point, with close games going the way of their opposition more often than not – seeing their effort and ability to be competitive go unrewarded. The Falcons will also be without co-captain Cooper Stephens for most of the year, so need their brigade of small running midfielders to stand up once again, while Oliver Henry remains a target up forward. The Bushrangers welcome back some over-age depth in the likes of Ben Kelly, Zane Barzen, and Liam Fiore, looking primed to make a mid-season charge up the ladder. While this could be a good chance to start a winning run, the inexperienced Falcons have showed they are often competitive and can stay with sides around their level. Expect a good battle with a second win up for grabs.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 3:15pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The ladder-leading Dandenong Stingrays travel to Williamstown to do battle with Western Jets, looking to keep their undefeated record in tact. A draw against Geelong remains the only blemish in an otherwise perfect Stingrays season, with their last two wins after a Round 4 bye both coming by over 70 points. The 3-2 Jets will be wary of their weekend opponents’ form, but are on a good run themselves after winning two-consecutive games before enjoying their own bye last week. The bye round proved perfect timing for over-agers Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy, who put their hands up for mid-season draft selection in the Young Guns game and will be back in Western colours this week. In the same vein, Dandenong welcomes Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt back to a lineup which looks like it is really starting to click – with key position and smaller guns on each line. Equal form lines aside, the Stingrays will fancy their chances in this one, but a win may not come as easily as in their last two outings.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 12, 11:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Bendigo Pioneers and Tasmania Devils will both be looking to build on their two respective wins for the year when they clash at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Sunday’s first game. The ‘Pios have been unable to add to their impressive Round 1 and 2 wins, but only went down by a combined 21 points in their last two games despite losing a couple of key players to school football. Meanwhile, Tasmania has also gone down in its last two efforts, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to Oakleigh at home last week. The positive signs are there for the Devils though, with Mitch O’Neill the only Australian representative star not to return to the side since his showcase outing. Despite others returning, Matthew McGuiness, Joseph Chaplin, Nicholas Baker, and Tyler Penwright are all key outs this week, leaving the Devils without some key experience and class. With the ability to hang with Bendigo clearly there, the travelling side will hope the continued development of their players can see them snatch another set of four points. But with travel a factor and Bendigo looking to stick with the pack of teams on 12 points, it will prove no mean feat.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Gippsland Power will look to continue its surge up the NAB League ladder at home on Sunday, but Calder Cannons stand in the way of a possible third-consecutive win. The hosts have gotten the better of three results decided by under 10 points, with their only loss coming by just six against table-toppers, Dandenong. Calder is on a run of two-straight wins after its Round 4 loss to Tasmania, faring far more competitively despite being the worst-placed of three sides on 12 points. While the Power has only named an extended bench, Calder looks set to lose some back-six class this week – with Sam Ramsay and Mason Fletcher out. Despite that, over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp should prove key ins for a Cannons side looking to compete with a formidable Gippsland outfit. With Sam Flanders kicking into gear, Riley Baldi returning well from injury, and skipper Brock Smith nominated for the Round 6 Draft Central Player of the Week, the Power should soon consolidate themselves as a genuine premiership contender.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

A third win is up for grabs for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Northern Knights as they clash in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon. Despite boasting equal wins, the Rebels have a far greater percentage than the Knights having won by 55 points over the Northern Territory Academy and their biggest loss coming by 14 points. Northern’s two victories have come in the last two weeks against Bendigo and the NT, with the Knights also breaking through for a season-high score of 98 (their next-best is 73). Some over-age and bottom-age inclusions for the Knights will aid their cause, with Sunny Brazier, Ollie Simpson, Nikolas Cox, and Ben Major returning to the side alongside top-age midfield ace, Sam Philp. Over-age talent also returns for the home side, as Jed Hill, James Cleaver, and Matty Lloyd have all been named. With the sides’ collective wins coming against bottom-half opponents, both will see this game as an opportunity for more of the same as the ladder starts to take shape. Northern should also be breathing fire after last year’s Wildcard Round thrashing at the hands of their weekend opponents, so expect a hot contest.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 2:00pm
RSEA Park

Arguably the game of the round will be played out in Moorabbin, with Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges set to do battle in a top four clash. Having been knocked off top spot after a bye round, the Dragons will be looking to pick up from where they left off, winning by 97 points in their last outing. While the Ranges were beaten by a strong Gippsland side last time out, they have been a one of the competition’s more consistent teams, with their only other loss coming to a full-strength Oakleigh in Round 1. A strong array of talls remains in the Sandringham 22, with Ryan Byrnes the key man in midfield and Angus Hanrahan and Riley Bowman coming off a Young Guns outing. The likes of Cody Hirst and Riley Smith come back for Eastern, adding strength to their running and tall games respectively. With much of the Dragons’ threats coming in their 195cm-plus players, this will again be a tough test for an Eastern side stacked with smaller runners, despite a bigger forward line. A tight tussle should ensue, with one side looking to stamp its authority and the other keen to prove it is a genuine contender.

BYE: Oakleigh Chargers

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 3

WITH a landmark Round 2 come and gone, Round 3’s set of fixtures delivers another nine games and another nine opportunities to observe the best talent from across the nation as the Northern Academies and Tasmania settle into NAB League proceedings. With a Sandringham double-header on Saturday and Bendigo triple-header on Sunday, settle in for some non-stop Under 18 action.

Northern Knights v Eastern Ranges
Saturday April 6, 9:45
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Northern Knights host Eastern Ranges on neutral ground to open the round and Saturday’s double-header at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. The Knights are still without a win in 2019 after going down narrowly to Western and more comfortably to Sandringham, while Eastern come in 1-1 after toppling the Jets last week. Lachie Potter returns to the side after missing through injury, and will look to provide run on the outside of in-form Northern ball winners Adam Carafa and Sam Philp. While Potter gives the Knights’ defence more dynamism, the Ranges have brought in 19-year old Vic Metro representative James Blanck to sure up the back six – not that it has been particularly leaky. Further afield, Eastern’s Mitch Mellis will hope to build on his Round 2 Draft Central player of the week performance, with the midfield combination of Lachlan Stapleton and Cody Hirst effective so far. Both sides will see this clash as a good opportunity to pick up a win, with the Knights especially keen to get on the board as quickly as possible.

GWS GIANTS Academy v Sydney Swans Academy
Saturday April 6, 11:00
Manuka Oval

The battle of the bridge comes to the NAB League as the GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans academies prepare to do battle in Canberra. While the Swans had a winning start to NAB League life, GWS will look towards this opportunity to get on the board having gone down to academy counterparts, Brisbane in Round 2. The Swans have been dealt a major blow as star of their opening game, Errol Gulden has been named as an out, with fellow bottom-ager Pierce Roseby set to slot right into his place. Samuel Thorne is one who can also pick up the slack alongside the likes of Jackson Barling and Kyle McKellar after good performances last week, and the midfield battle will be a cracker. Leading Giants prospect Tom Green showed his class last week and will hope to overwhelm the Swans mids, while the dynamic forward combination of Liam Delahunty and James Peatling should cause some headaches for the Swans. This is certainly one to watch with some high-end academy prospects running around, and should be a good contest to boot.

Brisbane Lions Academy v Gold Coast Suns Academy
Saturday April 6, 12:00
Yerong Football Ground

The academy state derbies continue as the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS academies play off in an Under 18 Q-clash up in the sunshine state. Both Round 2 winners, the sides will be playing off for bragging rights before testing themselves against established NAB League opponents. A potential midfield match-up between Gold Coast’s Connor Budarick Brisbane’s Will Martyn should be a belter, as would a shootout between Suns goalsneak Josh Gore and Lions forward ace Tom Wischnat – who bagged seven collective goals last week. With plenty of forward runners in either lineup and sunny conditions an forecasted, this fixture should well and truly attract some eyes, and will be as good an opportunity as ever for each side’s top-end talent to showcase their skills – or even use as preparation for future AFL Q-clashes.

Sandringham Dragons v Oakleigh Chargers
Saturday April 6, 12:15
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

The game of the round hits Trevor Barker Beach Oval as Metro premiership fancies, Sandringham and Oakleigh play off in what could well be an early season finals dress rehearsal. Both sides come into the game at 2-0 as the top two on the ladder, but the Dragons should come in as favourites given they hold home ground advantage and have won more comfortably thus far. The home side backed up a Round 1 shellacking of Calder with a solid win over Northern, while Oakleigh was tested last week against a fighting Calder side in tough conditions. With stars studded across each line for both teams, there will be no shortage of mouth-watering match-ups to grab the attention of recruiters. Sandringham’s forward line has been lethal so far, with Charlie Dean leading the competition for goals (nine), and fellow talls Riley Bowman and Jack Bell also pitching in. While they will no doubt trouble the visitors’ defence, Oakleigh’s midfield is set to feature three genuine top 10 draft pick contenders – with returning co-captain Trent Bianco joining Round 1 Draft Central Player of the Week, Noah Anderson, and the unflappable Matt Rowell. Over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney also features in that midfield rotation, with he and Bianco able to join the back six or play on the outside. Recent AFL Vic Metro Academy squad inclusion, Nick Bryan will hope to continue his early-season run and provide his fleet with first use in the ruck, with Dylan Williams showing signs of clicking into full gear up forward. While Oakleigh’s midfield is arguably the competition’s best on paper, Sandringham’s engine room is proving to be right up there – as the likes of Jack Mahony, Ryan Byrnes, and Finn Maginness have formed a consistent ball-winning trio. Sandringham’s defence features a combination of aerial prowess and calm ball users, with Josh Worrell, Corey Watts, and Fischer McAsey versatile enough to tackle all sorts of forwards. With potential draftees littered across this game, it is simply a must watch – and the chance to watch this much elite talent most likely will not come until the National Championships.

Calder Cannons v Western Jets
Saturday April 6, 3:30
RAMS Arena

The winless Calder Cannons will have a point to prove when they meet Western Jets in another home fixture at RAMS Arena to close out Sunday’s games. Having been dealt a tough hand with their first two games being against premiership fancies Sandringham and Oakleigh, the Cannons showed marked improvement in Round 2 as they matched it with the Chargers for three quarters. On the other hand, Western suffered a comprehensive loss to Eastern after a promising Round 1 victory, so will be looking to pave a more consistent path as the season progresses. Calder’s tall defensive duo of Brodie Newman and Mason Fletcher will have their hands full with probably match-ups against Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke, while both sets of midfielders will hope to improve on last week’s outings – namely Western’s Josh Honey and Calder’s Daniel Mott, who have outstanding potential. Enigmatic Calder forward Josh Kemp is also set to be a factor, coming off three goals last week and hoping to build a case for the next level as a 19-year-old. The Cannons may surprise a few, but Western will hope it can get back on the winners list with an stronger output here.

Bendigo Pioneers v Gippsland Power
Sunday April 7, 10:00
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The season’s surprise packet to date, Bendigo Pioneers, will hope to keep its perfect record in tact when it faces Gippsland to open Sunday’s all-Country triple-header. The hosts have taken full advantage of retaining their top-end talent for the early-season proceedings, with Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp leading the way well from midfield to provide an eye-catching mix of grunt and creativity. A thrilling win last week against Murray puts them in good stead at 2-0, with Gippsland on the wrong end of a tight loss last time out and coming in with a 1-1 record. Much like the Pioneers, Gippsland will hope to take advantage of having Caleb Serong free from school football and Vic Country commitments, but have a wealth of talent to see them through in any case. Ryan Sparkes has started the season well on the outside, with the powerful Sam Flanders mixing time in the midfield and forward line seamlessly, and over-ager Kyle Dunkley looking a much-improved prospect. With one side playing in a rare vein of form and the other looking to click into gear as most expect them to, this clash could well be right up there with the Sandringham and Oakleigh game for pure entertainment.

Dandenong Stingrays v Geelong Falcons
Sunday April 7, 12:30
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons take centre stage in the second QEO all-Country clash, with either side coming in on the back of polar opposite form-lines. While the reigning premiers have managed to scrape in for two six-point wins, the Falcons are one of four established NAB League teams still searching for their first win. Usual suspects are already appearing in the Geelong side, with co-captains Cooper Stephens and Jesse Clark continually standing up, while 19-year-old Charlie Sprague has also been lively thus far. The Falcons will unfortunately be without Jay Dahlhaus for what looks like being most of the season though, with the speedster partially tearing his ACL last week. On Dandenong’s end, Hayden Young is coming into form, with over-ager Mitch Riordan following suit in the midfield, while talls Bigoa Nyuon and Bailey Schmidt are also making a mark. With plenty of experience remaining from last year’s premiership side, the Stingrays will prove a tough test for Geelong as they look to bounce back by collecting a set of four points.

Northern Territory Thunder Academy v Tasmania Devils
Sunday April 7, 1:00
Holden Centre

Someone’s winless start will end when Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmania Devils take their talent to neutral ground in Melbourne, with both sides hoping to bounce back from defeats in their respective NAB League debuts. The Thunder is set to take an unchanged line-up to the Holden Centre, while Tasmania will have at least two fresh faces in the team this week with an extended squad named. The Devils fell respectably short of the Sydney Swans Academy last time out, with leading prospect Mitch O’Neill the standout alongside Matt McGuiness. They will be important once again alongside the running power of Sam Collins, while the versatile forward duo of Will Harper and Jye Menzie will hope to again combine effectively to help the Taswegians get on the board. Ben Jungfer was the NT’s clear best ball winner last week, and will play a key role against the Devils’ best, while twin tall pair Stephen and Matthew Cumming should again prove a handful wherever they are required. With plenty of speed set to come to the fore, expect some fireworks between two sides battling for their first win.

Murray Bushrangers v Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Sunday April 7, 3:00
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Murray Bushrangers and Greater Western Victoria Rebels are set to see out the round of action and Sunday’s QEO fixtures as they clash for regional bragging rights. While Murray have been unlucky not to snatch the win thus far – going down by a collective seven points in the first two rounds – GWV managed to get up by the narrowest of margins last week as they snatched a win from under the Falcons’ beaks. The Rebels have a number of triers who contribute well, with Jay Rantall and James Cleaver among the best so far, but they are set to lose key contributors Cooper Craig-Peters and Matty Lloyd for this week’s clash. On the other hand, Murray has named a handy inclusion, with over-ager Zane Barzen slotting straight into the forward line. With Will Chandler set to join him up there and Jye Chalcraft able to rest inside 50 from midfield duties, the Bushrangers’ look a dangerous prospect. Lachlan Ash and former-Knight Cam Wild have also gone about their business well as ball-winners, so should collectively provide some headaches for the Rebels midfield. With wins imperative as sides are at relative full strength, Murray will be keen to pick up four points here.

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 2

AN HISTORIC weekend of NAB League football will see Northern Academies thrown in the mixer for the first of five rounds, while the Tasmania Devils get their first crack in the competition after an opening round bye. With a massive nine games across two days, we are set for a true feast of football.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY v. TASMANIA DEVILS

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
9:30AM
Blacktown Olympic Park

One of the more anticipated aspects of the exciting new NAB League era is the inclusion of Tasmania and interstate academies, giving the competition a truely national feel. On Saturday, onlookers will get their first look at both an academy side and the Apple Isle talent as Sydney Swans Academy and Tasmania open Round 2 proceedings in Blacktown. The Swans are set to showcase the wealth of talent available to them over the next two draft years, led by dynamic forward Josh Rayner. Named at full forward, Rayner is also capable of using his big frame in the midfield. Skipper Sam Thorne is named at the heart of an exciting midfield alongside Jackson Barling, with bottom-aged stars Braedon Campbell and Errol Gulden set to start on either wing. The likes of Mitch O’Neill, Ollie Davis and Nic Baker will put their hands up to match the Swans’ midfield class, with Sam Collins also one to watch across half back. The neat Tassie ball users will all be looking to hit up imposing spearhead, Jackson Callow, although he could well be sent down back to cover the dangerous Rayner. An exciting match should provide a fitting opening to the new phase of Under 18 football, with both sides looking to make a memorable entrance.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY v. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
11:55am
Blacktown International Sports Park

The second game of the round features the first all-academy NAB League clash, as the GWS Giants and Brisbane Lions academies do battle as part of the Blacktown triple-header. Liam Delahunty headlines the Giants’ talent, with the versatile tall set to provide some highlights from centre-half-forward. Tom Green is also one to keep a keen eye on, set to anchor the midfield alongside Matt McGrory. The Lions have some promising types, too, with an impressive centre line jumping off the page. Bottom ager Saxon Crozier holds down a wing, with Bruce Reville on the other and Will Martyn holding post in the middle. Smalls Tahj Abberley and Tom Wischnat will also provide good run and goal sense respectively, with the Lions side full of impressive forward movers. With games against fellow state academies to come in Round 3, this game will be a good opportunity to blow out the cobwebs and polish up before the all-important state derbies.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
1:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

Gippsland hosts the first hit-out between established NAB League teams for Round 2, with an all-country clash against Murray set to hit Morwell. Both sides are coming off wins by under a goal in the opening round, but it is a strong Gippsland outfit that will come into the bout as favourite. The Power will be further strengthened by the inclusion of Caleb Serong, named in the forward line but sure to join the dynamic Sam Flanders through midfield. With Brock Smith and Josh Smith holding down key positions at either end of the ground, expect a complete team display from the hosts. The reigning premiers have some serious talent of their own, with potential No. 1 pick Hayden Young looking to build on a steady Round 1 performance. Versatile talls Sam De Koning and Bigoa Nyuon should hold down either end, with Nyuon looking to solidify a promising forward partnership with goalsneak, Ned Cahill. The over-age trio of Jai Nanscawen, Bailey Schmidt and Mitch Riordan will also provide some much-needed experience and grunt. While the Power’s top-end talent runs a little deeper, count the Stingrays out at your own peril.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
2:00pm
Deakin Reserve – Shepparton

Bendigo travels to Shepparton in Saturday’s second all-country clash, set to do battle with narrow Round 1 losers, Murray. The Pioneers hit the ground running last week, storming out of the blocks against Geelong with a six goal to nil opening term setting up a memorable win. Murray had a tighter tussle at home to Gippsland, being edged out early in the final term to go down by three points. Despite the result, there is plenty of promise coming into this round for Murray, with Lachlan Ash leading a talented bunch. With Jye Chalcraft named in the midfield and bottom-ager Elijah Hollands at half-forward, the Bushrangers look a dynamic unit with a good deal of versatility. While they are a good chance to bounce back this week, their opponents, Bendigo are up and about. The midfield duo of Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp will be key again in providing drive from midfield. The mopping up of James Schischka and James Conforti in defence will also be important if Bendigo are to back up their impressive performance.

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY v. NORTHERN TERRITORY

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
2:20pm
Blacktown International Sports Park

The final interstate feature game in Blacktown sees the Gold Coast Suns Academy face off against Northern Territory in a clash that should produce some fireworks. The SUNS are set to unleash all five of their AFL Academy members, with Connor Budarick the clear standout of the group. Fellow member Ashton Crossley will join him in midfield, with Hewago Paul-Oea another to watch across half-forward opposite Josh Gore. The Thunder has its own formidable forward threat, with Wanderers gun Joel Jeffrey named at the heart of their attack, and 2020 Richmond father-son hopeful Maurice Rioli Jr set to light up the field. They will be without arguably their best player in Malcolm Rosas Jr, but boast the returning tall timber of Matthew and Stephen Cumming. With excitement machines on either forward line and a couple of classy mids to boot, expect this one to be easy on the eye as the game opens up. With a tough draw to come for both sides, this may well prove to be their greatest opportunity to snatch a win.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
10:00am
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

Sandringham will be looking to make it two wins on the trot as it faces a Northern side still looking four its first set of four points. The Dragons were formidable last week, trouncing Calder in an awesome display from the midfield and forward. Northern will hope to contain Sandringham’s tall attacking trio of Riley Bowman, Charlie Dean, and Jack Bell – which combined for 10 goals in the 109-point Round 1 win. A combination of bottom-age defenders Regan Uwandu, Jaden Collins, and Nicholas Cox look set to cover two of the three, while Ryan Sturgess‘ intercept game will surely be tested as well. The Knights’ fleet of runners, including Lachlan Potter and Ryan Gardner, will be key in getting the visitors out of trouble quickly, while ball-winners Sam Philp and Adam Carafa will battle hard against the in-form trio of Ryan Byrnes, Jack Mahony, and Finn Maginness. The first game in a Trevor Barker Beach Oval double-header, this one will feature a host of draftable talent and will be important for the Dragons as they remain at full strength during the early season.

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
12:30pm
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

A second consecutive win to open the season is up for grabs for the Western Jets as they play Eastern Ranges on neutral ground to close out a Sunday double-header. While the Jets soared home to an impressive comeback win over the Knights last round, the Ranges went down to a stacked Oakleigh side – but it was not without a fight. With the Jets surely looking to not leave their charge so late, Eastern will have to start strongly once again and maintain the standard they set in Round 1 if they are to be competitive once again. Cody Hirst and Lachlan Stapleton will prop up the midfield as usual, with Jets stars Darcy Cassar and Josh Honey the ‘hosts’ key ball-winners. Western’s tall forward duo of Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke could well prove to be the difference, with the former looking dangerous last week and the latter booting three crucial goals. East vs. West – it promises to be a good one.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
1:00pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

An opportunity to get on the board for season 2019 looms for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Geelong Falcons when they clash in Ballarat. The Rebels looked the better of the two sides last week, going down by just six points to the reigning premiers despite a spirited final term. On the other hand, the Falcons looked unlikely of pulling back the six-goal opening term deficit they conceded against Bendigo, and had their score doubled in the upset loss at home. Travelling this time around, Geelong will hope the form of co-captains Cooper Stephens and Jesse Clark remains good, with 19-year old Charlie Sprague another who stood up and will be important. Another over-ager, Matty Lloyd, was crucial to the Rebels’ effort last week, and will hope to again excel with delivery from Cooper Craig-Peters and Mitch Martin. With goalsneak Izaac Grant in the side and Jed Hill also able to play forward, GWV will look to have Geelong’s defence overwhelmed for the second week running. With players set to leave for school football commitments during the middle of the year, this is a crucial chance for Geelong to claim an early win, but GWV never give it up easily.

CALDER CANNONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
3:40pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

Calder Cannons faces a tough task in bettering the Round 1 thumping it suffered, with a talented Oakleigh Chargers side posing as its next challenger. The Cannons went down by 109 points to Sandringham, a side equally fancied to Oakleigh, in their season opener. Despite the heavy loss, the likes of Daniel Mott and over-ager Tye Browning stood up in the drubbing and the home side is set to be boosted by the inclusions of Mason Fletcher down back and Campbell Edwardes into the midfield. There is not much that needs to be said about the Chargers’ talent, with Noah Anderson looking to back up his Draft Central player of the week heroics – without the aid of Trent Bianco, who will miss with concussion. While it looks a stiff ask on paper, Calder will be breathing fire after a poor display and will hope to really bring it to Oakleigh on home turf.

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 1

TOMORROW marks the start of a new era in Victorian Under 18 Boys football, with the brand new NAB League Boys competition kicking off. A standalone game at MARS Stadium begins the first round, before a spread of matches across Victoria on Sunday will provide plenty of highlights for the 2019 draft crop.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 1 – 23/03/2019
3:00pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

The standalone game on Saturday afternoon pits the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels against reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays. The game marks the second consecutive match the Rebels have played against the Stingrays, having been on the receiving end of a belting in last year’s elimination final. The Stingrays have made some changes with a new coach and talent manager coming into the fold, while also losing a fair chunk of their premiership side. They will now rely on a lot of bottom-agers as well as some talented top-agers who featured in parts throughout the 2018 season. Led by top prospect, Hayden Young, the Stingrays have a solid team across the board with last year’s co-catain Mitch Riordan slotting into the centre for this match, and the likes of overager Jai Nanscawen and Luca Goonan also named there, while Sam Merrick – who tested well at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day on a wing. It will largely be a new-look side both on an off the field for the Stingrays, while for the Rebels, they have a large among of players who tasted plenty of football last year. The midfield contains overager, Matty Lloyd who is looking at a new inside role, as well as some silky top-agers in Mitch Martin and Isaac Wareham, the inside ability of Cooper Craig-Peters and bottom-age talent, Nick Stevens. Fellow overagers, James Cleaver and Jed Hill provide some good run up either end, while the ruck duel between Patrick Glanford and Bailey Schmidt will be one to watch. The Stingrays deserve to be favourites, having the wood over the Rebels the past few years, but with so much change, it is as good a time as any for the home team to grab much needed points in the opening round.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
10:00am
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

The next day at RSEA Park, Sandringham Dragons face Calder Cannons in the first of a Metro double header at the ground. The Dragons are stacked with talent across the board and will be one of the teams to beat this season. The Dragons’ spine of Corey Watts, Fischer McAsey, Jack Mahony, Charlie Dean and Riley Bowman looks ominous, while a midfield containing Ryan Byrnes, Finn Magginness and Josh Worrell will match it with the best. For the Cannons, captain Brodie Newman holds down half-back with overager Tye Browning, while the athletic Thomas Cartwright has been named at full-back. The Cannons midfield is a strength with Daniel Mott, Sam Graham and Harrison Minton-Connell named in the middle. Josh Kemp is an exciting prospect who while overage, is still only in his second year in the system. There is no doubt the Cannons have a massive challenge on their hands here against a full-strength Dragons outfit. Winning the midfield battle is crucial and backing themselves to match Sandringham’s run is the challenge, while the Dragons will be keen to win in the first game at their new home in Moorabbin.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
12:30pm
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

In the second match of the double header, Eastern Ranges take on a full-strength Oakleigh Chargers which is a huge challenge for the Ranges. A year more experienced with the likes of Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Chayce Black in the middle, captain James Ross, Todd Garner and Jarrod Gilbee in defence, and Billy McCormack and Jamieson Rossiter in attack, Eastern has a solid side on paper. Overagers, Cody Hirst and James Blanck will play key roles in the side, but they will all need to be at their best to topple the might of the Chargers. Nick Bryan heads up the ruck and will look to get first hands to Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell and Joe Ayton-Delaney who moves into a more contested role this year. Dylan Williams and former Rebel, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan provide excitement up forward, while Trent Bianco and Will Phillips use the ball well coming down the ground. The top-end talent and depth is clearly there for the Chargers and is a key reason why they are arguably the team to beat this season along with Sandringham and Gippsland, of whom all three are well represented in the AFL Academy.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
1:00pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

The second all-country clash of the weekend occurs at RAMS Arena in Craigieburn where Murray Bushrangers meet Gippsland Power. The Power are one of the contenders this season and look to be the top country team for season 2019. Coming off a preliminary final, albeit with a disappointing exit in the end, the large proportion of bottom-agers who steered the team to such a successful season are now top-agers and have the extra year of experience. For the Bushrangers, they also have their fair share of talented bottom-agers and should be the country side most likely to give Gippsland a run for its money. For Muray, its dynamic forward line will cause headaches, which in the past has been dominated by talls, but is more likely to be the hybrid-medium-smalls who create some issues for opposition defenders. Jye ChalcraftCam Wilson and Elijah Hollands can be damaging at ground level while Will Chandler provides some height up forward, and the match-ups with Jake van der Pligt, Brock Smith, Ryan Sparkes and Tye Hourigan will be the ones to watch. Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips and Sam Flanders going head-to-head with the likes of Jimmy Boyer, Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild will be another interesting battle, while Josh Smith and Ben Kelly could go head-to-head in the Power forwad line. While Gippsland are missing key midfielder Caleb Serong, expect them to get the job done in what could be a thrilling contest to open the season.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
2:00pm
Colac Football Ground – Colac

A couple of teams with unknowns about them face-off in Colac, as Geelong Falcons host Bendigo Pioneers. The Falcons have a lot of new players in their side, while the Pioneers are always a young team. With many of the names getting games last year, the Pioneers should feel some line-up consistency for round 1. High-flyers, Braydon Vaz and Will Wallace hold down the key defensive posts for the Pioneers, while Brodie Kemp, Thomson Dow and Riley Ironside all fill out the midfield. They will have to battle top talent, Cooper Stephens, as well as overage forward-turned-midfielder, Charlie Sprague and Charlie Harris. Jesse Clark will look to provide some run and carry out of a new-look defence in 2019, while the likes of Jay Dahlhaus and Charlie Lazzaro are ever-dangerous inside 50. The Falcons given their record and form late last year, including from some of their bottom-agers in 2018, will have them heading in as favourites, but Bendigo could well take home the points given the majority of their line-up – minus Flynn Perez who is out with an ACL and a couple of others like Matt Hird – is able to play.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 1 – 24/03/2019
3:40pm
Ikon Park – Carlton

The final game of the round heads to Ikon Park where the Knights and Jets go head-to-head in what could be a battle of the two most improved sides heading into this year. Last year the Jets made the finals but were bundled out in the elimination final, while the Knights had a disapponting loss to GWV Rebels the week before in the Wild Card round. Both teams are capable of creating scoring opportunities, as Josh D’Intinosante and Darcy Cassar were a couple of the more dangerous half-forwards last season. Emerson Jeka will start at centre half-forward and no doubt be the main target inside 50, while Eddie Ford and Josh Honey know where the goals are. Daly Andrews is a handy overager to return to the side, while Spencer Johnson and Josh Kellett will come out of defence. The Knights’ bottom-agers were among the top players last season, and Nathan Howard will take up the ruck duties, while Adam Crafa, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier will use their bigger bodies to try and outmuscle the Jets midfield. Ryan Gardner, Lachlan Potter and Ryan Sturgess will move the ball in transition, while former Sandringham Dragon, Will Kennedy and Aaron Clarke are two Jets who will look to stretch the Knights when forward.

NAB League season preview: Dandenong Stingrays

REIGNING premiers, Dandenong Stingrays are one of a number of sides with a fresh face in the Talent Manager role, as Darren Flanigan returned to the club for the 2019 season. The Stingrays claimed the ultimate TAC Cup glory last year in the club’s sixth attempt, and now under the new NAB League banner, will be keen to build on that momentum.

Flanigan said while he did not arrive until after the pre-season had started – in late November – he had liked what he had seen from the group.

“I missed the start of it (preseason), but I’ve been really impressed with the level of intensity of the group,” he said. “We’ve got some really nice athletes and we’ve got some good size, skills are always a work in progress of course, but the attitude and application of the players has been fantastic.”

The premiership had been a boost to the entire club and described it as “good promotion for the area”. While many of those premiership players have left now, a number of bottom-agers from that memorable day remain. One of them is Hayden Young, the Stingrays’ top prospect and club captain.

“Hayden’s our captain, he sets a really good example, he’s dong a really good job of driving the group and he sets really high standards on himself and his game,” Flanigan said. “I think he’s probably a little bit disappointed in his first practice match, but that was the first bit of competitiveness all preseason so we just know with the kid with his level of professionalism that’ll be just the springboard to a better season.”

One player who played in the premiership last year but spent considerable time on the sidelines due to injury, was co-captain Mitch Riordan. He has returned as a 19-year-old this season and will provide invaluable experience to the midfield group.

“Mitch had a great game last week, coming back as a 19-year-old he’ll do a little bit of work with mentoring the leadership group because he was in the leadership group last year,” Flanigan said. “So that’ll add another string to his bow. “Ned Cahill is our vice captain, he’s also learning from the front, so he and Hayden are setting really high standards.”

Speaking of Cahill, he is currently overcoming some tendonitis in his ankle, held back from testing at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day by Rookie Me.

“We could’ve tested him today but, what does that achieve?” Flanigan said. “He’s got a really long year in front of him with Nationals and we assume he’ll be playing a lot of footy with us, so it’s just a little bit of precaution with him.”

Along with Riordan, the Stingrays have brought back small forward Jai Nanscawen, forward-ruck Bailey Schmidt and medium forward Corey Ellison as the overagers this season. The other 19-year-old prospect this season is described by Flanigan as a “bit of a smoky” in John Roysmith.

“He’s been a boarder at Melbourne Grammar for the last couple years so hasn’t been in the system, but we were alerted to him, and he’s tested really well,” Flanigan said. “He’s top 10 athletically in the club, still got a little bit to learn about the speed of the game, he’s come from playing school footy which is a lot slower than what we play here, so the speed of the game is something he’s got to learn, absorbing all the knowledge he can. “We think he’s a really good prospect, especially for the second half of the year.”

As for expectations, Flanigan said there was good depth across the field in multiple positions and the side would look to make finals in 2019.

“You don’t know with such a raw list, with so few games coming back, we really don’t know how we’ll go, but some of our talls are really talented,” he said. “In this comp you need a good, deep midfield, and I think we’ve got some nice strong bodies around the footy, got a bit of speed around the outside so we think as far as team balance goes, we’ll be okay.”

Dandenong Stingrays’ season begins on Saturday, March 23 at MARS Stadium when they face the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels.

Comprehensive 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final Preview

IT is the equivalent of Christmas Day for the TAC Cup competition, with the two best teams for the year facing off in a decider. We have the clear benchmark all season, in the Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the red-hot Oakleigh Chargers, who have been in sensational form since all their school kids returned to the team. We take a look at the big game from multiple angles in our Ultimate Preview of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

 

2018 SEASON REVIEW

1. Dandenong Stingrays – 15 wins, 1 loss, 211%, 60 points
3. Oakleigh Chargers – 10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 151%, 42 points

HEAD TO HEAD

R5: Oakleigh Chargers 11.6 (72) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 9.12 (66) at Warrawee Park
R9: Dandenong Stingrays 13.17 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 6.4 (40) at Shepley Oval

CHANGES SINCE ROUND 5 THRILLER*

*Including extended benches

Dandenong:
IN: Sam Fletcher, Hayden Young, Toby Bedford, Finlay Bayne, Mitch Riordan, Daniel Frampton, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan, Matthew Cumming, Sam Sturt
OUT: Jake Carosella, James Hickey, Jarrod Smith, William Geurts, Sam De Koning, Bailey Angwin

Oakleigh:
IN: Will Kelly, Noah Anderson, James Rowbottom, Matthew Rowell, Kyle Dunkley, Lucas Westwood, Trent Bianco, Bailey Wraith, Will Golds, Jack Ross, Matt Warren, James Jordan
OUT: Sam Harte, Lachlan Bugeja, Xavier Fry, Matthew Fewings, Ben Silvagni, Kyle Viccars, Josh May, Daniel Scala, Lachlan Harry, Sam Elliot

 

WHO HAS COMBINE INVITES?

National:

Dandenong Stingrays [6]: Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams
Oakleigh Chargers [7]: Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Will Kelly, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, James Rowbottom

State/Rookie Me:

Dandenong Stingrays [10]: Stephen Cumming, Sam Fletcher, Jake Frawley, Matthew Gahan, Lachlan McDonnell, Jamie Plumridge, Mitch Riordan, Bailey Schmidt, Jai Taylor, Lachlan Young
Oakleigh Chargers [6]: Joe Ayton Delaney, Atu Bosenavulagi, Kyle Dunkley, Jake Gasper, James Jordon, Jack Ross

Note: Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh) and Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong) have combine invitations but are unavailable due to injury.

PLAYERS

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

#1 Sam FLETCHER

Just keeps winning the football every week and puts in a consistent effort. He will join Hustwaite on the inside and look to fire out a number of handballs to teammates in space, and will often look to win that one-on-one duel when given the chance. Does not get to the outside as much as other midfielders, but does all the damage at the coal face, expect him to be prominent in there again.

#2 Hayden YOUNG

The potential number one pick next year looked sore throughout the preliminary final last week and got moved from the back pocket to the extended interchange, so it appeared to be a waiting game on whether he would play. Unbelievable talent with and a hardness at the ball, can play anywhere on the field, but he has been used off half-back with that smooth running and deadly foot skills a highlight.

#3 Jamie PLUMRIDGE

Tipped by TAC Cup Radio’s Matthew Cocks for the Best on Ground, Plumridge has been a consistent performer this year. Plumridge is an outside midfielder who often wins it on the wing and pumps it inside 50 to the tall targets.

#7 Jai TAYLOR

An electrifying speedster, Taylor is one of the fastest players in the competition, and with Toby Bedford, has the capability of breaking the lines and causing disruption amongst the opposition zone. While he does not always do it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and take the game on.

#9 Zac FOOT

Burst onto the scene early in the season to make Vic Country after never having made a previous Stingrays’ squad. He played throughout the National Under 18 Championships, and while he did not star, he still had some impressive moments. Adds a different element to the team because he can win it inside or out, play back, forward or through the midfield and has a high impact per possession when he is on.

#10 Lachlan YOUNG

A defender who loves to rebound and use the ball well, he does not find a lot of it – averaging just 12.5 disposals per game. But almost 25 per cent of his possessions are rebounds, with Young ensuring the ball can clear the defensive zone.

#11 Ned CAHILL

Named as the 23rd player, Cahill showed in last week’s preliminary final just how damaging he could be booting two goals and passed off another couple. Still a bottom-age player, Cahill has emerged as a genuine goal sneak at 177cm. Has to be respected because he just gets to the right positions.

#12 Matthew GAHAN

Has enjoyed a really solid season off half-back earning himself a State Combine invitation. Gahan is a strong ball user and a player who his teammates like getting the ball into the hands of. With Oakleigh’s strong forward line, Gahan will need to be used both offensively and defensively in order to still create drive while restricting one of the many dangerous Chargers’ defenders.

#13 Riley BOWMAN

Is suited to the number one ruck role, but can play forward which is where he is expected to play. Often the Stingrays rotate Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Bailey Williams through the ruck such is their luxury. Bowman’s pure ruckwork is arguably the best of the lot, because he gets his hands to most throw-ins or ball-ups and can palm down to his midfielders. Big men seem to be out of fashion lately, so a big game would be huge to determine where he slots in.

#15 Toby BEDFORD

One of the most in-form Stingrays of late, Bedford has a great mix of offensive and defensive skills, providing line-breaking ability as well as tackling pressure in the forward half. He can kick multiple goals in a game, and pinch-hit in the midfield to break up the game. He offers a different element to the Dandenong midfield, and the Melbourne Next Generation Academy player is one who Demons fans will enjoy watching over the years, with the assumption they match the bid that comes in.

#16 Jake FRAWLEY

A strong midfielder who can play out of full-forward such is his strength one-on-one or in the air. Booted six goals against against Bendigo Pioneers at Shepley Oval playing almost exclusively as a forward. He adds some depth to the midfield and his versatility is important when the big day rolls around.

#17 Finlay BAYNE

Another dangerous small forward who can play through the midfield. Due to the depth in the Stingrays onball brigade, Bayne has found a nice spot in the forward 50 and is good for a couple of goals a game. He is a good mover with good goal sense.

#18 Mitch RIORDAN

Highly rated at the start of the season, Riordan had injury concerns and missed the bulk of the National Under 18 Championships, and has only recently returned in the past month. He can use the ball well, and while he does not win much of it, he can often be found coming out of a stoppage and kicking forward. Athletically he is very good, testing well in the 20m sprint, agility test and yo-yo test, so it is just getting game time into him.

#23 Campbell HUSTWAITE

The Stingrays captain is another player who has been in fine form the past couple of months and seems made for the big stage. He has lead from the front in the TAC Cup finals series and does everything expected of him. Against a strong Oakleigh midfield, his desire and competitiveness will be called upon to match it with the likes of Jack Ross and James Rowbottom. Hustwaite could be a best on ground chance given you know exactly what you will get from him each week.

#27 Lachlan MCDONNELL

Played at half-forward for the start of the season and has progressed onto the wing. Of all the Dandenong midfielders, McDonnell is one of the Stingrays’ most damaging kicks in transition. He is predominantly outside compared to the others, but he finds space and pumps it long inside 50.

#28 Bailey SCHMIDT

The big man has been unlucky not to play more games because he is a damaging presence up forward with great athleticism. He has just landed at a club in a year with ridiculous amounts of talent in the ruck/forward position. Still earned a State Combine invite, and while he has been named on the extended bench, is still one who has been able to show his wares throughout the 2018 season.

#29 Bailey WILLIAMS

The big key forward/ruck looms as the player Oakleigh must stop if the Chargers are to win their fifth TAC Cup premiership. Williams is an athletic monster forward who has a massive vertical leap and can cause plenty of headaches for any opposition defender. His goal kicking has been an issue for two thirds of the season, so he will need to be on target in the game. Expect him to have a bearing on the game, and if he can get an early major and build confidence – watch out.

#32 Daniel FRAMPTON

Has held down centre half-back at times despite standing at just 188cm. Can intercept the ball and averages 3.5 marks per game. The smaller Oakleigh forward line will suit Frampton as it means he does not have to battle against a 200cm monster.

#36 Stephen CUMMING

Starting in the ruck and even though he came off a little sore early last week, Cumming still played out the game and looks set to start in the centre square tomorrow. The big man will rotate with Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams in the ruck and no doubt try and wear down the undersized Bailey Wraith.

#41 Lachlan STENNING

The defender is likely to take a defensive approach on a forward whether it be Dylan Williams, Jake Gasper or Atu Bosenavulagi and try and limit their influence on the game. He is a low-possession player but one who can play above his height of 178cm.

#45 Luca GOONAN

Still a bottom-ager, Goonan was added to the side for the Grand Final on an extended bench. It is hard to push out the strong top-age presence, but he has had some impressive signs this season. He is readymade at 83kg already, and one to keep an eye on for next year.

#49 Matthew COTTRELL

A genuine honest midfielder who you know what you are going to get. Suited to the inside, but has played outside, he just attacks the ball and tries to clear it forward. Has had some impressive games this season and will likely need to beat his opponent this weekend against a strong Chargers’ midfield.

#52 Corey ELLISON

At 191cm and 88kg, Ellison is that medium size who can play tall or small up forward, and actually averages 2.7 goals per game from seven matches. Has been in and out of the team at times because of the strength up forward, if given the chance he knows how to hit the scoreboard.

#56 Matthew CUMMING

Cumming has played predominantly key position defence this season and just tried to beat his opponent one-on-one. Like his brother, he moves well for a 198cm player, but not sure what match-up he has in this match. With Oakleigh adopting a smaller forward line, he will likely play on a player close to 10cm smaller than him, so he must prepare for that.

#57 Reid NANSCAWEN

Named as the sole emergency for the side, he looks to be the one to come in if injury strikes. He has played a bit of everywhere, and held up the midfield during the National Under 18 Championships when Dandenong had absences galore. Is the type that can come in and play his role and will no doubt be waiting in the wings if the opportunity arises.

#58 Will HAMILL

An underrated player in the Stingrays defensive half. Hamill can play through the midfield, but his class and composure off half-back has been a standout of his game. He glides around the field, and while he is not a huge accumulator, he can hurt opposition with nice delivery forward. Will be held accountable with one of many dangerous Chargers small forwards who just find the goals on a regular basis.

#59 Sam STURT

The late developer has burst onto the scene of late after some impressive performances for Peninsula Grammar. He was boosted from a State Combine invitation to a National Combine invitation, and has already showed why he is in hot demand since playing for the Stingrays. He has electric skills, great smarts and knows where the goals are – so damaging.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

#1 Riley COLLIER-DAWKINS

A potential first round prospect, Collier-Dawkins has that blistering first few steps that can burn off an opponent out of a stoppage. He has been trialled up forward, but he is his most dominant on the inside, as he showed last week in the preliminary final. If he can use his strength, acceleration and penetrating kick to effect, then the Chargers will have plenty of hurt factor roaming through the midfield in transition.

#3 Joe AYTON-DELANEY

The running defender was unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invitation after some impressive performances early in the season. He is one that will be in high demand with a good Grand Final and just finds the ball. Uses it well coming out of the backline and has shiny red boots that stand out. A player Oakleigh looks to get the ball in the hands of, along with Isaac Quaynor, in the backline.

#4 Will KELLY

He will have his work cut out for him, regardless if he takes Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. He often enjoys running off an opponent and providing rebound, but he will need to be tight with the athletic talls. He can also go forward and provide a target if Oakleigh wants to throw a spanner in the works midway through the game. A Collingwood father-son prospect who will be watched closely by any Collingwood contingent that make the trip to Ikon Park.

#5 Xavier O’NEILL

Did not make the final Vic Metro squad, but showed enough throughout the 2018 TAC Cup season to suggest to recruiters he was in their top 50, earning a National Draft Combine invitation. He just does his job each week and is a really solid contributor. He covers the ground well and wins the ball in all thirds of the ground.

#6 Matthew DAY

The former basketballer was unlucky not be thrown a lifeline late last year, and has continued on as a really solid forward prospect as an overager for the Chargers this season. Keeps kicking goals and is strong overhead. A good size for development and one that the Stingrays cannot afford to let off the chain.

#7 Jay ROBERTSON

Did not make the cut at Eastern Ranges hailing from South Belgrave, came across and has been a valuable contributor up forward for Oakleigh. He is a medium tall who just keeps hitting the scoreboard and can fly under the radar with so much talent up that end.

#8 Noah ANDERSON

Another potential number one pick, Anderson is that prototype size for a midfielder, who due to the amazing depth of the Oakleigh midfield, has had the ability to almost play exclusively up forward. He pumps the ball long, can win it inside or out, and knows how to hit the scoreboard – as he did for Vic Metro against Western Australia.

#9 James ROWBOTTOM

The most pure of the inside midfielders, he gives his team a four quarter effort and wins a truckload of the ball on the inside. He is a clearance machine and just finds the ball anywhere on the ground. Dandenong are known for their hardness at the contest, and Rowbottom will be a key contributor for Oakleigh in trying to nullify some of the opposition midfielders.

#10 Charlie WHITEHEAD

A fierce small forward who loves to pressure opponents and just gets to the right positions. He has the capability of kicking multiple goals if given space and has a great goal sense. A pure small forward in every sense, he can push up the ground if the Chargers isolate another forward.

#11 Matthew ROWELL

Another Vic Metro representative in his bottom-age year, Rowell leads by example on the field. He has an uncompromising attack on the ball and is crucial around stoppages, but has had the luxury of playing on the outside, predominantly off a wing. He can play forward and kick goals, as he has the past two finals – kicking the first goal in both games.

#12 Noah ANSWERTH

The over-age captain does not do a lot wrong and can play anywhere on the field. His brother, Kade was best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final during Oakleigh Chargers’ last premiership over Eastern Ranges, and Answerth will be keen to put in an equally impressive performance. He made the Vic Metro squad and performed strongly and will leave no stone unturned in getting the most out of himself.

#13 Atu BOSENAVULAGI

Has bolted up into draft consideration after a quieter start to the season. His second half of the TAC Cup competition has been superb, and he is starting to regularly hit the scoreboard, while still applying the defensive pressure he was known for. Has made opposition clubs consider a National Draft bid, with Collingwood able to match if they like him.

#14 Kyle DUNKLEY

Has been on the fringe of getting into the team after spending time with Sydney Swans’ Reserves. With Oakleigh winning its past three games by an average of 101 points, it is a hard team to break into, but the forward will be ready if he gets his chance.

#16 Lucas WESTWOOD

A really reliable defender. With most of the other Oakleigh defenders being offensive players, Westwood adds that defensive hardness and ability to shut down a key opposition forward. He could well be given any number of smalls from the Stingrays who can kick multiple majors.

#17 Trent BIANCO

A skilful player who provides plenty of run and carry off half-back and through the midfield. Expect him to play more on-ball next season, but he has high-end talent and adds to what is a very strong bottom-age core at the Chargers.

#22 Dylan WILLIAMS

The bottom-age small forward is in ripping form, and just keeps kicking goals week-in, week-out. He shared them last week after six snags against Western Jets in the elimination final. He does very little wrong, and after spending time in defence early in the season, Williams’ strength overhead and great goal sense has him as a key player inside 50 for the Chargers. One Dandenong defender will have their work cut out for them.

#23 Isaac QUAYNOR

The running defender takes the game on and has some eye-catching moments. He might have to use his one-on-one ability more than he has had to in the past weeks, because Dandenong’s forward line will make sure he is made accountable. If he can get out and break the lines, using his speed and skill to create run-and-carry, then it will go a long way to Oakleigh winning the match. A Collingwood Next Generation Academy member to watch.

#26 Jake GASPER

The TAC Cup Leading Goalkicker and taking into account post-season goals he is the standalone leader, Gasper has been the most consistent forward in the competition. He has booted goals in every game he has played and his set shot routine is perfect. The Dandenong defence will focus on not letting him get too much air time because he is so smart in that forward 50.

#30 Bailey WRAITH

You have to applaud Wraith, who started as a key defender, but has stood up as an undersized ruck. He is measured at 191cm (though many believe he might be a few centimetres taller), and he has matched up against much taller opponents in the ruck. He will have to play his best game of the season against the Dandenong brigade however, with practically three 200cm rucks with big vertical leaps awaiting him.

#31 Will GOLDS

The most pure outside midfielder for the Chargers, Golds will be the one spreading to the outside and carrying the ball forward when given time and space. He could well match up against Lachlan McDonnell and the pair goes their separate ways, or they run alongside each other. Likes to set up plays forward of centre and has had a really solid finals series.

#32 Jack ROSS

The underrated midfielder from the Chargers has been building consistency very nicely over the past month since returning from school football. He loves the appetite of the contest, but can also spread to the outside and provide long kicks forward. He knows how to find a goal from a stoppage inside 50, and is one of many Oakleigh midfielders who looms as a key player on the weekend and one the Stingrays will put work into.

#33 Matt WARREN

Started the year as a key defender and can play up either end. Had the tough job of manning Max King in the top five pick’s only TAC Cup game and King booted eight goals in that game. At 189cm he has had to play on much taller opponents at times, but continues to battle above his height and weight range. A versatile option if a tall drops out of the Grand Final after being added to the interchange bench.

#36 Charlie BEASLEY

Rated really highly internally, Beasley will have to play taller than his 192cm against Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. The coach, Leigh Clarke backs him in and he rarely lets him down. Regardless of opponent, Beasley is the type of defender who will stick to the task for four quarters.

#38 Zac HART

Oakleigh’s forward line is harder to break into than Fort Knox, so for the potential Adelaide father-son it has not been easy to find a spot. Hart has been added to the side on the extended interchange bench, and he is a smart forward with good goal sense, but with Oakleigh’s firepower on show the last month, it will probably take an injury for Hart to squeeze in.

#44 Will PHILLIPS

The Under 16s Vic Metro representative has managed to retain his place in the Oakleigh line-up despite it being as strong as it is, playing as the 23rd player. Great skills, good spread and does not seem phased against the bigger bodies, Phillips looks a player for the 2020 National Draft.

#64 James JORDON

Played a couple of games earlier in the season and returned after school football, Jordon has provided good run and carry on the outside. Like Golds, Jordon predominantly is used as a ball carrier with slick skills to take the game on and delivery well inside 50.

 

FATHER/SON AND ACADEMY PROSPECTS

Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays) – Melbourne Next Generation Academy

Atu Bosenavulagi, Isaac Quaynor, Bailey Wraith (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood Next Generation Academy

Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood father/son

Kyle Dunkley* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Sydney father/son

Zac Hart* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Adelaide father/son

*Extended interchange

 

STATISTICS

Dandenong defence vs. Oakleigh attack

The key in this third of the ground, is whether or not Dandenong’s slick foot skills out of defence and springboard rebound can be used against the massive forward pressure of the Chargers. Atu Bosenavulagi (4.5 tackles), Jake Gasper (4.1) and Charlie Whitehead (3.2) provide the tackling heat, while Dylan Williams (62.8 per cent kicking efficiency), Jay Robertson (60.4 per cent) and Noah Anderson (56.6 per cent) provide the skills going inside 50. Gasper has been the dominant goal kicker this season, sharing the overall competition tally and post-finals has the most goals of any player in the league.

For Dandenong, they have some very nice ball users in the back half, lead by Will Hamill and Lachlan Stenning, while five of their six defenders average more than two marks a game. Lachlan Young (3.1 rebounds), Matthew Gahan (2.9) and Daniel Frampton (2.3) are that wall at half-back, while Matthew Cumming is the athletic key position defender who can share ruck duties. The big question mark will be match-ups as Oakleigh have a small forward line, while Cumming will no doubt be matched up on a smaller player.

Dandenong midfield vs. Oakleigh midfield

Two highly talented midfields will go head-to-head with so many crucial head-to-heads. Dandenong generally loves a contested brand of football, whereas Oakleigh love using their outside foot skills to advantage. In saying that, both sides can still play the other’s game. Stingrays captain, Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will provide the inside support, whereas Matthew Cottrell can play inside or out. Lachlan McDonnell is the most outside because he has the best skills of the five onballers, and has provided a crucial link between midfield and half-forward.

Will Golds provides just that for Oakleigh, whereas both Matthew Rowell and Jack Ross are equally as impressive inside as they are outside, and can get forward and kick goals as well. Noah Answerth can also play off half-back or half-forward and hit the scoreboard for the Chargers, while Bailey Wraith has been getting the job done in the ruck despite being undersized. If he can get forward and kick a goal, it adds an extra challenge for the Stingrays. He will have his work cut out for him against the best ruck division in the league.

Dandenong attack vs. Oakleigh defence

Dandenong’s attack is likely to cause a lot more headaches for Oakleigh’s defence than other sides have in past weeks. With Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman both athletic talls, it means Charlie Beasley and Will Kelly will have to be prepared to jump as both Dandenong keys are highly athletic – particularly Williams who is second to none with vertical leap. Jai Taylor and Toby Bedford are two of the quickest players going around, while Sam Sturt and Zac Foot consistently hit the scoreboard.

The great strength with Oakleigh’s defence is its ball use out of the back 50, with Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco all wonderful kicks of the football. Often teams can have at least one liability back in their defence, but there is no player in the back 50 who the Chargers would not feel comfortable with kicking the ball out of the back 50. The challenge for the Chargers defence is they have to expect Dandenong to bring the heat. Forward pressure from the Stingrays is a must, and Oakleigh must be up for that challenge.

Extended interchange of both sides:

The depth on both these benches, particularly Oakleigh’s, is madness. Riley Collier Dawkins could be a first round pick but he sits on the pine, while James Jordon and Xavier O’Neill are crucial cogs in Oakleigh’s midfield. Matthew Day has been a really valuable forward for the Chargers this season, while Vic Metro Under 16s talent, Will Phillips has been very slick with his ball use on the outside and shapes as an impressive talent for the 2020 AFL National Draft. With father-son prospects and sneaky small forwards Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart waiting in the wings, and the versatile Matt Warren also brought in to the extended team, Oakleigh has plenty of options to head into game day.

For Dandenong, Finlay Bayne and Ned Cahill both provide depth in the forward line and showed they can kick multiple goals, as they did against Sandringham Dragons last week. Corey Ellison has been unlucky this season given the strength of talls for the Stingrays, while Hayden Young could be pick one next season, but came off sore last week and whether he makes the final team is yet to be seen. Bailey Schmidt is another athletic tall who could come in to really stretch the Oakleigh defence, while Jake Frawley kicked a bag of six earlier in the season. Jamie Plumridge has been good on  the outside for Dandenong this season, while Luca Goonan is a prospect to watch for next year. Reid Nanscawen has been named as the only emergency in the team.

WHY WILL THEY WIN?

Dandenong Stingrays: They have been the best team all year and attack the footy with numbers. A fierce intent on the ball carrier, any opposition know that the heat will come and it will depend on how they deal with it. The Stingrays are not a high possession team, and opt for sharing the ball around, but still using the ball long and effective. They have the tall timber up forward to put in the air and allow them to mark it, because no-one is spoiling Bailey Williams if he gets a run at it.

Oakleigh Chargers: They are the most skilful team in the competition who are happy to use short possessions rather than take risks with long kicks, but know when to flick the switch. Often they will use a series of short kicks until a player breaks free and then they use run-and-carry to run down the wings and pick a target out inside 50. Without the height in there, the Oakleigh midfielder put low balls out in front of their teammates to run onto with their speed off the mark, key.

 

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO STOP?

Dandenong Stingrays: They absolutely must bring the heat on the weekend. Oakleigh dominate games when they are allowed to over-possess the ball and just wait until options free up. Dandenong need to ensure that firstly, Oakleigh cannot have free numbers wandering into open space, and secondly, that there is a defensive midfielder who is happy to drop back and fill the hole in front of the Oakleigh forwards. Unlike Dandenong where a 200cm athlete will crash into your back, Oakleigh’s passes inside 50 will be low darts, so the Stingrays need to restrict the free space inside 50 and force them wide.

Oakleigh Chargers: They have to be wary of positioning themselves well inside the defensive 50. They will be playing against much taller opponents who can fly high, and some of their usually offensively-minded defenders might have to do more one-on-one defending. Isaac Quaynor is arguably the best small defender in the league one-on-one and he might be the man to go to Sam Sturt, as Quaynor can play taller and is equally as smart. Bailey Wraith will also have his work cut out for him in the ruck, and while he has been fantastic, when you’re going up against high flying rucks that are towering over you, the goal is to nullify as much as possible.

 

GRAND FINAL HISTORY

The two teams have never met in a TAC Cup Grand Final before, but have been involved in 10 between them. Dandenong has heartbreakingly lost all five of their encounters, two of which exceeded 80 points. For Oakleigh, they have won four out of a possible five attempts, including a goal point to Jack Macrae in 2012 getting them over the line against Gippsland Power.

Dandenong Stingrays:

1997: lost to North Ballarat Rebels by 35 points
2005: lost to Gippsland Power by 15 points
2008: lost to Murray Bushrangers by 81 points
2009: lost to Calder Cannons by 14 points
2013: lost to Eastern Ranges by 112 points

Oakleigh Chargers:

2006: defeated Calder Cannons by 27 points
2011: lost to Sandringham Dragons by eight points
2012: defeated Gippsland Power by one point
2014: defeated Calder Cannons by 47 points
2015: defeated Eastern Ranges by 12 points

 

AFL Draft Central tips

 

Peter Williams

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jack Ross

Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jake Gasper

Ed Pascoe

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Cameron Ross

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

 

Total Tips:

Dandenong Stingrays 2
Oakleigh Chargers 4

Best on Ground:

Toby Bedford 2
Dylan Williams 2
Jack Ross 1
Jake Gasper 1

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Grand Final

BOTH 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final sides have remained coy about their team selection this week, opting for extended benches before finalising their sides ahead of Saturday’s decider. Dandenong have brought in Luca Goonan, Bailey Schmidt and Corey Ellison, while Reid Nanscawen has been named as the sole emergency for the Stingrays. Meanwhile the Chargers have brought in the three players they included on the extended bench the week before in Matt Warren, Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart. Both Dunkley (Sydney) and Hart (Adelaide) are potential father-son prospects.

Dandenong Stingrays:

B: 58. Will Hamill – 56. Matthew Cumming – 41. Lachlan Stenning
HB: 12. Matthew Gahan – 32. Daniel Frampton – 10. Lachlan Young
C: 49. Matthew Cottrell – 23. Campbell Hustwaite – 27. Lachlan McDonnell
HF: 9. Zac Foot – 13. Riley Bowman – 7. Jai Taylor
F: 15. Toby Bedford – 29. Bailey Williams – 59. Sam Sturt
R: 36. Stephen Cumming – 1. Sam Fletcher – 18. Mitch Riordan
INT: 17. Finlay Bayne – 52. Corey Ellison – 16. Jake Frawley – 45. Luca Goonan – 3. Jamie Plumridge – 28. Bailey Schmidt – 2. Hayden Young
23P: 11. Ned Cahill
EMG: 57. Reid Nanscawen

In: L. Goonan, B. Schmidt, R. Nanscawen, C. Ellison

Oakleigh Chargers:

B: 3. Joe Ayton-Delaney – 36. Charlie Beasley – 16. Lucas Westwood
HB: 17. Trent Bianco – 4. Will Kelly – 23. Isaac Quaynor
C: 31. Will Golds – 32. Jack Ross – 11. Matthew Rowell
HF: 26. Jake Gasper – 7. Jay Robertson – 10. Charlie Whitehead
F: 8. Noah Anderson – 22. Dylan Williams – 13. Atu Bosenavulagi
R: 30. Bailey Wraith – 9. James Rowbottom – 12. Noah Answerth
INT: 1. Riley Collier-Dawkins – 6. Matthew Day – 14. Kyle Dunkley – 38. Zac Hart – 64. James Jordon – 5. Xavier O’Neill – 33. Matt Warren
23P: 44. Will Phillips

In: M. Warren, K. Dunkley, Z. Hart

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Preliminary Finals

OUR final four TAC Cup teams remaining in the hunt for the 2018 premiership have made a combined three changes, with Gippsland the only side to confirm any players out at this stage. The winners of both clashes advance to the TAC Cup decider the week after at Ikon Park, with three of the four teams reaching this stage last year.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 11.30am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Coming off a 110-point thrashing of the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels side, the Dandenong Stingrays have brought back four players, including Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt who have both earned State Combine invitations. Teammates, Reid Nanscawen and Corey Ellison are also into the side having impressed throughout the year for the Stingrays. The Dragons will be looking to cause an upset against the minor premiers with three players returning, in bottom-age tall Fischer McAsey, Louis Butler and Josh Le Grice.

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 58. W. Hamill, 56. M. Cumming, 2. H. Young
HB: 12. M. Gahan, 32. D. Frampton, 10. L. Young
C: 49. M.  Cottrell, 23. C.  Hustwaite, 27. L.  McDonnell
HF: 9. Z. Foot, 29. B. Williams, 7. J. Taylor
F: 17. F. Bayne, 13. R. Bowman, 59. S. Sturt
R: 36. S. Cumming, 1. S. Fletcher, 15. T. Bedford
Int: 52. C. Ellison, 16. J. Frawley, 45. L. Goonan, 3. J. Plumridge, 18. M. Riordan, 28. B. Schmidt, 41. L. Stenning
Emg: 57. R. Nanscawen
23P: 11. E. Cahill

In: M. Riordan, B. Schmidt, R. Nanscawen, C. Ellison

Sandringham Dragons

B: 18. A. Seaton, 69. C. Watts, 48. J. Worrell
HB: 53. H. Ralphsmith, 52. C. Dean, 2. A. Richards
C: 19. S.  Forbes, 8. K.  Owens, 12. C.  Jones
HF: 66. R. Byrnes, 29. B. King, 23. A. Hanrahan
F: 72. D. Chirgwin, 33. W. Kennedy, 27. J. Mahony
R: 28. J. Rendell, 74. H. Reynolds, 7. L. Stocker
Int: 51. N. Burke, 64. L. Butler, 17. J. Denborough, 38. J. Le Grice , 26. F. Maginness, 61. F. McAsey, 11. N. Stamatis
23P: 35. G. Grey

In: F. McAsey, L. Butler, J. Le Grice

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 2pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

In the second game of the day at Ikon Park, Gippsland Power will have to overcome the loss of Vic Country defender Kyle Reid, who is out of he side along with Jake Van Der Pligt and Mitch Bentvelzen. They have named six players to come into the side, with their extended team to be reduced by three. Zac Hurley, Brett Thorson, Luke Williams, Burkeley Macfarlane, Jack Hume and Mason McGannon are the six players into the side. Oakleigh has added tall, Matthew Warren, and father-son forward prospects Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart to their extended side.

Gippsland Power

B: 40. Z. Hurley, 14. T. Hourigan, 15. R. Sparkes
HB: 18. M. McGannon, 12. B. Smith, 7. B. Patterson
C: 8. B.  Beck, 6. R.  Baldi, 29. B.  Motton
HF: 9. I. Mosquito, 23. N. Gown, 20. H. Neocleous
F: 4. S. Flanders, 16. J. Smith, 2. C. Serong
R: 22. R. Henkel, 11. A. Hodge, 5. X. Duursma
Int: 10. L. Connolly, 13. N. Lowden, 31. B. Macfarlane, 3. M. McGannon, 37. H. Pepper, 33. B. Thorson, 32. L. Williams
23P: 34. J. Hume

In: Z. Hurley, B. Thorson, L. Williams, B. Macfarlane, J. Hume, M. McGannon
Out: K. Reid,  J. van der Pligt,  M. Bentvelzen

Oakleigh Chargers

B: 3. J. Ayton-Delaney, 36. C. Beasley, 16. L. Westwood
HB: 17. T. Bianco, 4. W. Kelly, 23. I. Quaynor
C: 31. W.  Golds, 32. J.  Ross, 11. M.  Rowell
HF: 26. J. Gasper, 7. J. Robertson, 10. C. Whitehead
F: 8. N. Anderson, 22. D. Williams, 13. A. Bosenavulagi
R: 30. B. Wraith, 9. J. Rowbottom, 12. N. Answerth
Int: 1. R. Collier-Dawkins, 6. M. Day, 14. K. Dunkley, 38. Z. Hart, 64. J. Jordon, 5. X. O’Neill, 33. M. Warren
23P: 44. W. Phillips

In: M. Warren, K. Dunkley, Z. Hart

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

THE weekend is set for four huge games, with no turning back for the eight sides running out on Ikon Park in the elimination finals this weekend. Here is a quick look at how the four games shape up.

Dandenong Stingrays vs Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Saturday, September 8, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels face their most daunting challenge yet as they come up against the Dandenong Stingrays in the first round of finals at Ikon Park. GWV faced the Northern Knights the week prior and won comprehensively, but unfortunately the Stingrays are a much different beast. With 15 wins and a single loss, Dandenong sit three wins ahead of second place (Gippsland Power) and boasts 17 Combine invites compared to the Rebels’ four. Dandenong bolter Sam Sturt has been the talk of the town lately, with every club interested in the forward, while Zac Foot, Bailey Williams and Will Hamill are among some of the names who loom as big players in the finals series. The last time the pair faced in Round 10, the Rebels copped a 59-point loss at the hands of the significantly undermanned Stingrays as they had many players competing in the National Championships. While at neutral territory this time, the Rebels face a complete Stingrays side. If they win, it will be arguably the upset of the season, so it is important for GWV’s talent to embrace the challenge.

Jed Hill had a strong showing against the Knights last week, kicking two goals and again proving useful by foot. Riley Ranieri rebounded well and earned the contested ball, with Matt Schnerring getting plenty of the pill and Matty Lloyd caressing the ball well along the wing. Lloyd, along with Scott Carlin and Harrison Butler, all put two each on the board, while Patrick Glanford and Darcy McEldrew both did well in the ruck. Dandenong’s boys are well and truly rested as Riley Bowman returns to the side for Bailey Schmidt. The Stingrays look to add a perfect finals run to an amazing year of footy and take home their first premiership ever.

 

Gippsland Power vs Geelong Falcons

Saturday, September 8, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The last time they faced, the Falcons were severely let down by their accuracy in front of goal, kicking three goals from 16 shots. Comparatively, the Power kicked 10 goals from their 15 shots, having seven goalkickers compared to two. It was not the Falcon’s finest game, but Saturday is a new day, and this time they have Connor Idun, Charlie Sprague, Oscar Brownless, Ned McHenry and possible number on pick, Sam Walsh. In the Wildcard Roound, the Falcons only just snared a victory from the Calder Cannons, coming back from an 11-point deficit at three quarter time to win by a point. While this game could go either way, the Power finished second on the table for a reason. If Cooper Stephens and Walsh can maintain their form from last week, the Power are bound to have some trouble.

The Power will be looking for Xavier Duursma to have a significant impact, racking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three August games, and placing high in the Morrish Medal vote count. The Gippsland Power captain is one of many players looking to cement a future in the AFL and can do so by helping eliminate the Falcons from the finals race. McHenry and Brownless impressed with their two goals against the Cannons last week but could have some trouble going shot for shot with Noah Gown, who kicked four in his last game and placed fourth for the home and away season in goals. Sam Flanders also poses a threat up forward coming in at eleventh in the overall goal kicking tally.The Power will have their work cut out against this full-strength Falcons side, with no telling how it will go down. It is a game to watch.

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs Western Jets

Sunday, September 9, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Not much separates the Oakleigh Chargers and the Western Jets, sitting a single win apart at the end of the home and away season. In terms of form, the Chargers emerged as a genuine premiership contender in the final couple of rounds, while the Jets will need to be at their best here to challenge them. In the Wildcard round last week, the Jets had some issues dealing with the Eastern Ranges’ first half onslaught. While managing to lift in the second half to secure a 38-point win, the Jets will not be able to get away with those standards against the Chargers.

Pivotal in their success were Xavier O’Halloran and Connor Thar who combined well in the midfielder, with Thar earning best on ground honours. Emerson Jeka kicked three while Stefan Radovanovic remained a pillar in the backline. While the Jets took the win (19 points) the last time they faced the Chargers, the team they faced were not a complete Oakleigh side, playing without the likes of Will Golds, Will Kelly and James Rowbottom. The difference is evident since Round 15.  In Round 16, the Chargers defeated GWV Rebels by 90 points, giving them their largest winning margin all season. Oakleigh will be looking for a huge performance from Riley Collier-Dawkins if he aims to increase his stock come draft night. Similarly, O’Halloran will need to bring his best if the Jets are to get up. Potential first-rounder, Isaac Quaynor is also pegged to have a big game for the Chargers with a strong month leading into finals. Chargers are tipped to win, but the Jets are still a chance to surprise a few people.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs Murray Bushrangers

Sunday, September 9, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Unlucky not to land a top four spot, the Murray Bushrangers made short work of the Bendigo Pioneers over the weekend to move on to the Elimination Finals and face the Sandringham Dragons. Both teams have not been in their best form these last few rounds, with the Bushrangers losing their last three during the home and away season, and the Dragons losing their final two. Unlike the Dragons though, the Bushrangers are coming into this game with a win, simply outclassing their opposition at Ikon Park.

Ely Smith’s clearance and contest work was at his usual standard, mopping up the footy off the hit outs and breaking lines with booming kicks. Mathew Walker’s pressure was well over standard as well, laying nine tackles. The test they face is whether they can minimise Liam Stocker’s impact for the Dragons. The Dragons’ Morrish Medal winner stands to make a big statement, playing to earn a finals appearance and a possible top 10 pick in the National Draft. His work on the inside has been his biggest highlight for the month, stepping up in Bailey Smith’s absence. Ben King, returning in Round 15, is also set to make waves and prove himself as a potential number one pick. The last time they faced, the Bushrangers claimed a 65-point win, with Hudson Garoni kicking eight. The Bushrangers forward was kept goalless last week so could be ready to prove himself come the weekend. The Dragons are still favourites to take the win and eliminate the Bushrangers from the race, but it will be a hotly contested match.