Tag: billy mccormack

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

FOR players of four TAC Cup sides, they will run out for the final time this weekend with the new concept of a Wild Card Round giving every team the chance of winning a premiership, regardless of finishing position during the season. The four games will be played across two days, with a Double Header at MARS Stadium on Saturday, before a Double Header takes place at Ikon Park on Sunday.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 11:30am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

It will be a case of déjà vu for fans who make the trip to MARS Stadium tomorrow. The Calder Cannons take on the Geelong Falcons at 11.30am, an identical match, time and place of their Round 16 clash a week ago. In that game, the Falcons proved too good, coming from behind at quarter time to run away with the game before the Cannons kicked back to go down by just 15 points. Arguably the Falcons should have won by more, as despite having 29 scoring shots to 19, they ended the match with an inaccurate 11.18 for the match. Co-captain Sam Walsh was a clear best on ground. Brayden Ham, while inaccurate in front of goal with 1.4, was exciting in the forward half, as was Connor Idun. Cooper Stephens and Ned McHenry were tough on the inside, while Cooper Cartledge and Charlie Sprague played their roles up their respective ends. For the Cannons, Rhylee West was sensational drifting forward to boot three goals, while Daniel Mott and Mitch Podhajski were strong through the midfield, with Podhajski getting forward to finish with two goals. Harrison Jones enjoyed a great game in the ruck, while Lachlan Sholl and Brodie Newman continue to impress behind the ball. Daniel Hanna has been named in the Cannons’ extended team, and will be a crucial inclusion to take a tall in the Falcons forward line, allowing the smaller rebounders to create more run out of defence. Geelong rightfully hold favouritism after last week, and pushing the minor premiers the week before, but both these teams are sleepers in the premiership race, and it is somewhat disappointing one has to go.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 2:00pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The second game marks the third time that the Northern Knights will travel to MARS Stadium for the season to tackle the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The venue holds no fears for the Knights, who have been victorious twice, once with a come-from-behind victory in Round 9 by four points, and then again in Round 12 when they won by 22 points. In the first encounter, it took until the 21st minute of the final term for the Northern Knights to hit the front for just the second time that day, with a Patrik Della Rocca goal. That was also the breakout game for bottom-ager Izaac Grant, who booted seven of the Rebels’ nine goals for the day. Elliott Lamb, Scott Carlin and Lochie Dawson were named the Rebels best on the day with Grant, while for the Knights, James Lucente‘s five majors saw him named the best, along with Della Rocca and Stefan Uzelac. In the second encounter, Sunny Brazier and Charlie Wilson booted three goals for their respective sides, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Patrick Glanford were the Rebels’ best. Adam Carafa had a day out with 37 disposals, while speedster Lachlan Potter was also impressive. On form, the Knights will head in as favourites, but some crucial inclusions for the Rebels in Carlin, Grant and Craig-Peters should be equally as important as Lucente and Ryan Sturgess for Northern.

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 11:00am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

On Sunday, the Western Jets will take on the Eastern Ranges in a game that is one of two that should be fairly straight forward. As we have seen with finals or pre-finals however, anything can happen and regular season form means nothing now that we are at the knockout stage of the season. Eastern had just the two wins, but pushed Western all the way back in the only encounter between the sides this season. In blustery Williamstown, the Ranges led throughout the match and only trailed by a goal at the final break – mostly due to the Jets inaccuracy, booting 2.12. The home side found its kicking boots in the final term however, booting five goals to one and ran away with the 31-point win. Steven Kyriazis booted two goals that day, while Zak Butters earned best on ground honours (he will not be out there this weekend) and Connor Thar and Stefan Radovanovic were also impressive. Billy McCormack was the multiple goalkicker for Eastern, while Jarrod Gilbee, James Ross and Mitch Mellis were the top Ranges. Mellis will be the only one of the trio playing on Sunday, with Eastern hoping to cause an upset. The winner will face Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination final, so will want to hit the game with some great form.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 1:30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Murray Bushrangers were the side unlucky to drop out of the top four race, but by being the top-seeded team in the Wild Card Round, they take on the bottom-placed Bendigo Pioneers. The Pioneers have just had the two wins so far this season, while the Bushrangers won both their previous encounters against Bendigo. Murray won by 57 points in Round 2 up in Shepparton, before claiming a 40-point win at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Round 9. In the first game, Laitham Vandermeer was named best on ground, with the injured speedster not able to be out there on the weekend, but his partner in crime that day, Lachlan Ash will be, as will Nick Murray who was impressive in defence. Noah Wheeler was unsurprisingly named best for the Pioneers with another top performance, while Jye Caldwell amassed 24 disposals and laid seven tackles in his only TAC Cup game until last weekend. He will be crucial for the Pioneers this weekend if they are to get the upset, however the Bushrangers look to be too strong on season form. In the second encounter, Ely Smith was best on ground with 28 disposals and nine tackles, while Jordon Butts slotted six goals in a terrific effort up forward. Oscar Perez and Zane Keighran booted two goals each, while ruck Daniel Keating was named the Pioneers’ top player. With no Wheeler, Keighran or Keating this weekend, it will be a big ask for the Pioneers to get up, but there is no coming back. 

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 15

TAC Cup football is back and with two rounds left, the end of the season is near. For the penultimate round of action there are some big guns back, while others head out to play the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final on the MCG tomorrow.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Round 15 – Saturday, August 18, 10am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

In the opening game of the round, two top four sides go head-to-head in a season-defining clash for both teams. Gippsland will lock away second spot with a victory, while Murray will need to win to put itself in the best position for a top four position as Oakleigh Chargers sit just two points adrift of the Bushrangers. The Power has only had the two losses this season, with two draws in season 2018 – against Calder Cannons and Northern Knights. It will be a good opportunity for the Power to grab the four points as the Bushrangers have a number of key outs. The side has lost Kyle Clarke and Jacob Koschitzke to injury, as well as Ely Smith to the VFL. The previous two head-to-head clashes between the teams have also gone the way of the Power, winning both by more than seven goals. Gippsland come into the game in good form coming off a victory against the Chargers. With Noah Gown and Fraser Phillips causing headaches up forward, Xavier Duursma in midfield and Kyle Reid in defence, they will be tough to beat. Their bottom-age brigade of Riley Baldi, Josh Smith and Brock Smith among others form a strong group, but Murray is a side that can topple anyone on its day. Hudson Garoni and Jye Chalcraft are always capable to creating scoring opportunities, while Jordon Butts is a very handy inclusion, patrolling the airways and finding plenty of the football. Jimmy Boyer, Willson Mack and Will Chandler are just a handful of talented bottom-agers for the Bushrangers who could have an impact against the Power. Gippsland head into the game as deserving favourites, but you can never write-off the Bushrangers.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 15 – Saturday, August 18, 12.30pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The midfield battle between Geelong Falcons and Dandenong Stingrays is poised to be a battle within a battle. Sam Walsh, Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless will go head-to-head against the likes of Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Finlay Bayne, while Baxter Mensch and Cooper Stephens rotate through there, as will the likes of Zac Foot and Jamie Plumridge. Dandenong’s advantage has always been in the ruck, with Bailey Schmidt joining Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams between there and the key forward posts. The Falcons are in great form after a big win last round and will love the challenge of testing themselves against the benchmark in this game. For the Stingrays, they’re not in so much good form as they have never been in anything other than good form this season, dropping just the one game – by a kick no less. Now they travel up to MARS Stadium with top spot locked up, and will look to have a good win against the side that knocked the Stingrays out of the finals series last year. Expect this game to be a cracker and the likes of Dane Hollenkamp, Connor Idun and Blake Schlensog to have their work cut out against quality talls, while Brayden Ham continues to impress by hitting the scoreboard on a regular basis. Up the other end, Toby Bedford is sure to cause a few headaches with his tackling pressure and goal nous.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 15 – Saturday, August 18, 3pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The final game up in Ballarat is a battle between the country rivals in Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Bendigo Pioneers. The teams have played twice, with the head-to-head split one each. The Pioneers won the round one game by a point coming home strongly in the final term, before the Rebels accounted for them in the next clash. With the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final on at the MCG, the GWV Rebels’ depth will be tested, making at least 10 changes to their line-up, losing the likes of Scott Carlin, Matty Lloyd, Lochie Dawson, Josh Chatfield and Izaac Grant among others, while Tom Berry is of course out for the season through injury. For the Pioneers, they have strengthened their line-up massively with the inclusions of bottom-age tall Brodie Kemp, brothers Flynn and Oscar Perez, and the ever-consistent Bailey Henderson. If there was a game the Pioneers would go in as favourites despite being bottom of the ladder, it would be this one. Spectators will get a great indication of the strength of the Rebels’ depth, while also seeing if the Pioneers can utilise their speed and bottom-age talent to get the job done. While Jye Caldwell is still not out on the park, the Pioneers go in with one of their strongest line-ups this season and will back their chances here. GWV Rebels’ forward Charlie Wilson has been named in the middle, with he and Jed Hill the keys to putting scores on the board with so many outs in the team. Mitch Martin showed some great signs in the Under 17 Futures game and has a big opportunity in the midfield here, while Harris Jennings and Ben Annett are others who have shown signs throughout the season this year.

 

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 15 – Sunday, August 19, 10am
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

Moving to the Sunday games, two sides in the bottom half of the eight do battle with Western Jets hosting Northern Knights. Captain Xavier O’Halloran will swap Avalon Airport Oval for the MCG when he runs out for St Bernards in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final. His leadership is a big loss on-field and with Zak Butters out for the year, the Jets will look to their strong inside midfield of Connor Thar, Jack Watkins and Jaden Rice to win the footy at the coal face and distribute to their runners on the outside in Stefan Radovanovic and Daly Andrews. Northern welcomes back its captain Braedyn Gillard after a long-term lay-off due to injury. He is one of a number of crucial inclusions along with Oscar White and Lachlan Potter in defence, and Josh D’Intinosante up forward. Tom Hallebone will be a loss in the ruck, especially against Darren Walters, but the Knights will back themselves in against the Jets’ midfielders with Adam Carafa in good form, and Justin McInerney and Ryan Gardner providing good run on the outside. This is expected to be a great contest and important in the scheme of finals. While the Knights cannot make top four and the Jets need all the luck in the world, positioning in the bottom half of the eight is still important because it determines their opponents in the Wildcard Round. Both sides are well coached, well drilled line-ups so expect a hard fought battle and no-one giving an inch across the four quarters.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 15 – Sunday, August 19, 12.30pm
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

In the middle game, Eastern Ranges will be hoping to bring its A-game against a Calder Cannons team that keeps getting the job done each week. The Cannons lose a number of players to the St Bernards team in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final, but welcome back top 30 draft prospect Rhylee West, forward Josh Kemp and Vic Metro representative Jack Evans among others. Eastern also has a number of inclusions, as Lachlan Stapleton and Caleb Quirk strengthen the side in their bid to upset the Cannons in this clash. Calder’s choice of overagers this year has been very clever with Mitch Podhajski patrolling the midfield, Daniel Hanna strengthening the defence and Jake Riccardi providing a reliable target up forward. Curtis Taylor provides the X-factor up forward and Lucas Cavallaro continues to rebound the ball at will, and are two players Eastern has to keep under wraps. For the Ranges, the midfield of Kye Quirk, Mitch Mellis, Adrian Kalcovski and Stapleton is a consistent core, they just need more out of the next tier. Key defender, James Blanck will have an important role in defence for the Ranges, while Billy McCormack will keep a Cannons defender accountable up the other end. In the earlier match between these two teams, Calder got the job done under lights at RAMS Arena in chilly conditions. With the weather hit and miss this weekend, the Cannons will be hoping for a similar result.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 15 – Sunday, August 19, 3pm
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

The last game of the round is arguably the best, with everyone looking forward to practically full-strength Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons outfits going head-to-head in a battle between two genuine premiership contenders. Earlier in the year prior to his knee injury, Max King had a day out with eight majors against the Chargers at RAMS Arena in the Dragons’ come-from-behind win. This time around, it could be twin brother Ben who will hope to repeat the feat, with Will Kelly playing in defence this time around and a likely opponent for King. The Dragons are still missing captain Bailey Smith to injury, but Liam Stocker, Ryan Byrnes and Darcey Chirgwin is a strong core on the inside, while Alastair Richards and Angus Hanrahan provide good run and skill up either end. Draft watchers will get a first look at Harry Reynolds who makes his debut in Dragons colours, similar to Nathan Murphy last season – rewarded for school football form with a TAC Cup debut. Will Kennedy has been named forward with James Rendell in the ruck which should keep the Chargers’ talls busy. Oakleigh has its own top-end talent and depth which will test the Dragons outfit. Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco is a ridiculously good small defensive trio, while Riley Collier-Dawkins, James Rowbottom, Jack Ross, Will Golds and Matt Rowell in the middle is as strong as it has been all season. They do not have the key position forwards Sandringham do at the top-end, but with Will James coming in from APS football and Dylan Williams and Noah Anderson capable of kicking multiple goals, it is likely to result in an absolute classic.

Scouting notes: Vic Metro vs. NSW/ACT

IN the second game at Ikon Park yesterday, Vic Metro defeated NSW/ACT in the Under 17s Futures game. We took a look at all the players from both sides.

Vic Metro:

By: Michael Alvaro & Ed Pascoe

#2 Mitch Mellis

It was the kind of performance that TAC Cup followers have come to expect from Mellis, working hard to impact the contest from half-back. He started in a more advanced position and was able to push the ball inside 50 on the back of some solid marks on the wing, matched with his dash. Mellis was effective by foot and hurt Queensland as he accumulated a decent amount of possessions in the first half. The nuggety Eastern product’s rebounding became more of a feature in the second half and he managed to do all of the defensive things right, too with a few important tackles and ground level efforts.

#3 Chayce Black

Black crashed in from the get-go and worked hard to set the tone for his side from the wing. While he struggled to get a handle on it early, Black later found more of the ball – flicking it out while standing in tackles and bursting through at stoppages. He laid a great tackle where he almost jumped on the back of his opponent and clung on, highlighting his desire for the contest and good presence.

#4 Lucas Rocci

Rocci didn’t find a heap of the ball during his midfield minutes, but managed to bag two goals at a crucial stage of the game in the third term. Both were set shots deep in the 50, but Rocci’s best moments were when he was seen reigning the ball in and keeping composed under pressure with vision and good hands.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

‘JD’ was one of the stars of the show, owning his half-forward role while contributing well at stoppages forward of centre. The Northern Knight was perennially on the move, whether while applying pressure to the opposition or looking to move the ball on quickly. His best traits suit the role he played but he has shown an aptitude to play midfield, and this game was no different as his extraction was very good. D’Intinosante’s end product was also enjoyable to watch as he converted his two chances at goal, while also playing a key role in Brodie Newman’s two last quarter majors which sealed the game. His final term was exceptional, having a part in almost every contest that came towards Metro’s attacking 50 late on with strong one-on-one work to protect the drop of the ball.

#6 Lachlan Johnson

The son of Brisbane Lions champion, Chris is a handy prospect and will attract attention given he is also tied to Essendon’s Next Generation Academy. Playing forward and through the middle, Johnson showed off his good spring early on as he leapt for marks and pulled in a couple. He has the handles, but also showed a hard edge as he crashed through would-be tackles in the second term. Later on, he had a nice passage where he willed the ball forward, wanting it more than his opponents with the scoreboard close to level.

#7 Harrison Minton-Connell

While he rushed his kicks at times when looking to send it long under pressure, Minton-Connell stood out with his hardness at the ball. He did find Emerson Jeka with a composed short pass early on, but the Calder product’s highlights came when standing in tackles and taking solid marks with heat coming the other way.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay seemed to have played in a few positions, but mostly from half-back. Yet another Calder product in the line-up, Ramsay used the ball really well when going forward, highlighted by his assist for one of Josh D’Intinosante’s goals, and a bullet pass to Daniel Mott. Ramsay was strong enough in congestion and managed to burst away on occasion, with one of them being for his snap goal out of nothing in the final term.

#9 Lachlan Stapleton

The Eastern Ranges mid started well with a brave smother leading to Darcy Cassar’s early goal. He provided a cool head in the clinches and flicked some good handballs out to release teammates. Stapleton did have a couple of shaky moments after a big hit in the third term though; missing a good chance to seal the game after that.

#10 Steven Kyriazis

Kyriazis started forward with good effect, booting Metro’s first goal of the game from a mark deep in the 50. After a move to defence in the second half, the Western Jet provided some good composure and often kicked forward as a good link out of defensive 50. His hands were clean at pace and he collected some sharp balls to set his side forward.

#11 Adam Carafa

Carafa is a natural midfielder, but had a role to play at half-back and did a good job of it. While he provided a laser pass to Daniel Mott for his goal, it was Carafa’s ability to effect the first kick from the stoppage that really stood out. His smothers and spoiling were important, and he willed himself to most often be first to the contest. He is normally a good long kick, and would be hoping to add rebound to his game should he spend more time in defence.

#12 Daniel Mott

The smooth-moving Calder Cannon played mostly forward and looked lively around the 50. His best work was done early as he spread well, provided a dangerous inside 50, and slotted a nice set shot goal. He also had a nice moment in the third quarter as he burnt an opponent and sent the ball forward.

#13 Lachlan Potter

It was a real eye-catching performance from Potter, working his magic from the wing with daring run and blistering pace. He showed his opponents a clean pair of heals time and time again, and everyone at the ground could tell what was about to happen when the ball was in his hands. The Northern Knight was damaging as ever going forward with his line-breaking allowing him to deliver short passes inside 50, and while he may not have always found a direct target, it more often than not led to a goal. A particular highlight was his drive to the arc in the last quarter, where he absolutely ruined an opponent and finished off by hitting Knights teammate Josh D’Intinosante on the chest.

#14 Darcy Cassar

Cassar showed plenty of run throughout the game mostly playing on the wing and going forward on occasion. His only goal came in the first quarter on the last line, he had another shot at goal on the run in the second quarter but missed. His second half was mostly spent on the wing where he showed good run and kicked well.

#15 Josh Honey

Honey got better as the game went on, he started forward kicking a classy dribble goal in the second quarter before getting to play up the ground in the second half using his good skills and speed to his advantage. Honey’s second goal came in the third quarter through good positioning and snapping truly.

#16 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith showed a lot of class mostly on the wing with his clean ball use and run for all four quarters. He managed to get dangerous running forward of the ball especially in the third quarter where he moved through traffic and kicked a long snap goal on the run. Ralphsmith was one of the better users of the ball for Metro with his work by hand and kicking a real standout.

#17 Miles Bergman

The Sandringham player showed plenty of dash early playing down back in the first half, he managed to take some nice intercept marks and was also taking the game on. In the second half he was able to get up the ground where he delivered the ball inside 50 with precision. His run was the real standout, often getting past the opposition with ease.

#18 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess was all class in defence in the first half with plenty of intercept marks while also showing composure with ball in hand and rebounding effectively. Sturgess showed great movement in traffic and he even showed some nice desperation with a big chase to try and stop an opponent running into open goal. Sturgess would later move up the ground although he was not as effective as he was down back, but still managed some nice bits of play with some good roves at stoppages and clean ball use.

#19 Mihaele Zalac

Zalac had a quiet day but he did the small things well, his best highlight was a great spoil in defence showing his good timing and leap.

#20 Billy McCormack

The tall started the game down back taking some nice intercept marks and showing good ball use, he also did it at ground level with some nice tackles. McCormack was later moved forward where he looked dangerous, and had a long shot at goal that just faded short and a snap behind.

#21 Brodie Newman

Newman was a standout in defence in the first half taking some nice intercept marks and spoiling well. His standout quarter in defence was in the second where he took countless intercept marks. His kicking was good at times although he had a few direct turnovers as the game went on. He was moved forward in the last quarter and managed two goals on the last line in the dying minutes to win the game for Metro.

#22 Josh May

May was played everywhere, he rucked for parts where he had some nice taps, he showed good athleticism for a taller player with some nice pickups at ground level and a nice chase in the second quarter. He looked settled in the defence in the second half taking some nice intercept marks and using the ball very well by hand and foot.

#23 Nathan Howard

Like May, Howard was moved around a bit, he had some nice taps in the ruck and often followed up his work. He also had a nice handball in the first quarter showing that he has some skill to go with his size.

#24 Emerson Jeka

Jeka took plenty of lead up marks playing as a key forward, he used his long kicking for countless inside 50 entries. He did not kick any goals but he gave a few off with some nice short passes and his two shots on goal where a behind and a kick that dropped short. Jeka was moved into the midfield in the last quarter and he had a nice gather at ground level in the centre showing he could have an impact not just overhead but at ground level.

#25 Nick Bryan

Bryan rucked well throughout the game using his body well and working to be involved in open play. Some of his work by hand was very good for a ruckman and he was not afraid to tackle either.

NSW/ACT:

By: Craig Byrnes & Peter Williams

#1 Harry Grant

Grant is a busy small forward who stands 169cms, spending most of his time inside 50 and at the stoppages. He produced moments of good intent and defensive pressure, laying six tackles. although he did not kick a goal, he has some nice skills though and was clean when the opportunity presented.

#2 Samuel Thorne

A 174cm zippy and at times bustling midfielder who provided a good balance of offensive and defensive play throughout the day. He ran in both directions and tackled with aggression, hitting his opponent hard to ensure they earned their possessions. He provided some nice attacking disposals too, highlighted by a lovely exiting kick from his defensive arc in the third term and he hit a target inside 50 shortly after.

#4 Cameron Edwards

The small forward was a bit of a livewire for NSW/ACT inside 50, constantly raising the anxiety levels of the Vic Country defenders. He was dangerous at ground level and presented on the lead, taking a ball out in front, before centring brilliantly to Green in the better scoring position. He exploded in the second term, kicking two smart goals out the back to give his side momentum. Although he left his best to the final term, kicking an outstanding left foot banana goal to get his side up and about. Unfortunately he suffered a nasty looking injury late and was stretchered off the ground.

#5 Max D’Agostino

The Sydney Academy might only stand 178cm, but showed at times that he possesses extremely strong hands and is aerially relevant. He provided one of the highlights of the match, jumping into a pack on the opposition goal line to stick a huge contested mark before landing awkwardly on his back. He nearly dragged down another great mark later on, proving he will fly for the ball consistently. He smartly snapped a ball inside 50 to a teammate’s advantage during the third term, but didn’t win mountains of the footy overall.

#9 Aidan Watling

Watling had some good moments with ball in hand from the wing and through the midfield. He hit a dangerous pass inside 50 early in the first, but his teammates couldn’t take advantage. In the second term he provided an effective fend off on an opponent to create space and almost finished a brilliant piece of play by missing a difficult target by only centimetres which ultimately and unluckily floated out of bounds on the full. He has a bit of talent and will be looking to provide it on a more regular basis.

#10 Max Geddes

Playing behind the ball, Geddes started getting into it in the second half and took the game on. He provided an excellent long handball in the third term that created a fast foray forward for NSW/ACT and later produced an excellent spoil one on one against Rocci deep in defensive 50. He read the play well and despite making some errors, got more confident as the game went on.

#12 Harrison Parker

Parker was in and around the stoppages for a majority of the game and was pretty tidy inside. He hit an excellent kick to advantage early in the game and looked to have solid all-round skills throughout the afternoon. Not overly flashy, but did the job through the midfield and competed in the contests.

#14 Will Chandler

As the youngest player on the ground (does not turn 17 until December), the GWS Academy prospect may well possess the greatest scope of the NSW/ACT kids from Sunday. Playing mostly in the forward half, Chandler looked most threatening on the lead before swinging onto an at times lethal looking left boot. He didn’t hit all his balls perfectly, but was stylish and potentially damaging. Like Cameron Edwards he left his best to last, kicking another left foot banana from almost exactly the same position as his teammate to claim the lead late in the game. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get his team across the line.

#15 Thomas Tyson

Tyson was another of the NSW/ACT players who had quiet periods as the side relied on too few for a majority of the day. He mostly found himself forward and while he possessed a nice left foot, he didn’t win enough of it to impact the game consistently. He did produce a stylish shimmy and side step in traffic during the second half, so there is something there to look out for in future outings.

#19 Ky McGrath

McGrath spend a majority of his time in the midfield and may turn out to be a decent prospect for the Swans who have first rights. He won a brilliantly clean clearance in the first term and provided stoppage nous throughout the match. He went when it was his turn too, laying a big tackle in the second term and putting his body on the line when the game was there to be won. He is a good size at 184cm and is one I’m keen to have another look at.

#21 Jackson Barling

Set the tone early with two first quarter goals. He delivered with a great set shot from 35m out, and then pounced on an opportunistic ground ball in the goal square. He could have had a third goal – arguably his easiest attempt, but missed the set shot from 30m out when it cannoned into the woodwork. Handed off a goal once he won the ball inside 50 in the second term, giving it to Cameron Edwards in the goalsquare. Caught an opponent high in the third term, but showed real character to go over and check on his welfare. One of the better Rams on the day.

#23 Luke Parks

Had a few good moments, winning the ball in contested situations. He laid a strong tackle in the second term to stop and opponent in his tracks, and took an important contested mark outside 50 in the third term. He is a long kick, and gained good distance on his disposal.

#24 Adam Whyte

Whyte showed good agility, side-stepping an opponent in the second term to move well out of defence, and while he had the odd mistake by foot, including an out-on-the-full kick, he was good by hand. He opted to kick long most of the time.

#25 Thomas Green

The star on the day and just showed his class at every opportunity. His hands in close and ability to extract the ball from the inside to the outside was superb. He directed traffic, handed out goals with great precision inside 50 and nailed a couple of majors from long range with a great kicking technique. Honestly did not do much wrong and looked a class above at times, while also doing all the defensive things right. Best on ground for mine despite the loss.

#29 Liam Delahunty

If Green was best on ground, Delahunty was not far behind him. His kicking at times was a little inconsistent, but as a whole, Delahunty looked dangerous whenever he went near it. Opposed to Emerson Jeka for three quarters, he not only managed to do well one-on-one, he provided run and carry out of the back half, taking a number of crucial intercept marks. He gets to the right positions and is clean by hand under pressure. He went forward in the last quarter and had a couple of chances, including an impressive shot on the run storming through congestion, but just missed.

#31 Hamish Ellem

The big man was busy early, winning a few touches and kicking low inside 50, but was chopped off. He took a big contested grab late in the game at half-forward, was awarded a 50m penalty for a mark encroachment and then nailed the set shot. Had another chance not long after with a good mark inside 50 but his shot missed to the left on the siren.

#32 Lachlan Bayliss

Played a solid role in defence early with a big jump to punch a ball clear of an opponent. Moved up the ground and kicked a long goal from 50m in the final term as the Rams’ comeback was on.

#33 Luke Gallen

Nailed a set shot goal from 40m out in the second term after a good mark, and had another chance but his kick went wide. Managed to collect 14 disposals and five marks in a solid outing

#36 Ben Gibbeson

Remarkable that a 197cm player lined up on the wing, but that is exactly what happened with Gibbeson. While he did not win a lot of the football, he showed off his athleticism and his long kicking prowess at times. Had a snap in the final term, but it went a mile in the air and straight back to him and the contest.

#37 Oscar Bird

Had a lovely early pass inside 50 to set up Jackson Barling on the lead. He had his own shot on goal, but missed to the left. In the third term, Bird had a running shot at the goal, but missed again, then pushed up the ground and moved well along the wing.

#38 Reed Van Huisstede

Played in defence, and while he did not win a heap of the ball, played a strong brand of football, registering a number of rebounds out of the back 50, including a clearance to space out of the danger zone.

#41 Willson Mack

Had a huge opening term, and then bobbed up with some good highlights in the second half. Mack showed good vision after a mark on the boundary to kick inboard to Thomas Green in space. He attacked the contest hard and handballed clear to teammates in space, then got reward for effort with a big grab in the third term and converted a long-range set shot from 45m out on a 45 degree angle. He won an outnumber at a contest in the fourth term, handballed behind his head to the running Thomas Green who kicked the goal and gave the Rams some real fighting spirit.

#45 Kye Wilson

Took a good intercept mark at half-forward in the first term and passed well to Wilson Mack inside 50. He looked composed while being tackled, and late in the game, copped a knock via an “accidental” smother, with the opponents kick hitting him in a place that had him incapacitated for a bit of time.

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 13

TAC Cup action returns this weekend with all 12 teams back at it. While some are understrength due to school football, the ladder is taking shape as just four rounds remain in the competition ahead of the new addition of a wildcard round after Round 16.

EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 12pm
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill

The opening game of the round pits two bottom four sides against each other, with the Rebels able to draw within four points of the eighth placed Northern Knights if they can win, while Eastern can draw level with Geelong Falcons and within two points of the Rebels if they can take home the four points. Eastern’s midfield has been relatively settled this year, with Joel Burleigh, Kye Quirk, Adrian Kalcovski and Mitch Mellis all busy through the middle, while Ben Cardamone and Xavier Fry have proved important in the back half. James Blanck‘s return to the side in the past week has settled the defence down, while in attack, the return of Thomas Lockman combining with Billy McCormack should provide some targets up front. For the Rebels, they have beefed up their attack, bringing in Tylar Watts and Josh Chatfield, making for an even more damaging forward line with the likes of Jed Hill, Charlie Wilson and Izaac Grant set to cause headaches for Eastern’s defence. While the half-back line of Scott Carlin and Matty Lloyd provides good rebound. It’s a 50/50 game with Eastern having the home ground advantage.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 1pm
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta

In arguably the match of the round, Murray Bushrangers hosts Western Jets up in Wangaratta where two of the top inside midfielders will go head-to-head in Ely Smith and Xavier O’Halloran. There are fantastic one-on-ones across the field with the likes of Jacob Koschitzke taking Emerson Jeka, Buku Khamis potentially lining up on Hudson Garoni, and Hamish Murphy going head-to-head with Zane Barzen. Both sides pride themselves on contested ball and speed from half-back, so it is likely to be an entertaining contest of end-to-end football. Jaden Rice is a crucial loss for the Jets on this road trip, but they have plenty of depth through the midfield, and potency up forward with Darcy Cassar, Aaron Clarke and Steven Kyriazis being sources of scoreboard pressure. Murray arguably have the best forward line in the league with Jordon Butts joining Barzen and Garoni, while Jye Chalcraft and Bailey Frauenfelder are always damaging. If the Bushrangers win they will retain third spot, while the Jets could leap frog both Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers with favourable results in other games if they take home the points.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 2pm
Preston City Oval, Preston

Another important top eight clash tomorrow is that between the Northern Knights and Gippsland Power. The Knights sit eighth with an eight-point buffer, but will be keen to have another win and upset the Power. The Power sit in second spot, but Murray Bushrangers are hot on their heels and with the finals approaching, a top four spot is at a premium. Last time these two sides played it was a draw at Morwell Recreation Reserve after Irving Mosquito kicked a goal in the dying seconds. Mosquito is in the team again to cause some serious headaches, while Tyrone Hayes also returns to provide some speed around the ground. Noah Gown is fresh off a five-goal haul and will be keen to impress once again at full-forward, while Sam Flanders and Austin Hodge know how to hit the scoreboard. For the Knights, they have Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier who consistently find goals, while Harrison Grace is an important inclusion at half-forward, with he and James Lucente capable of creating opportunities in the front half. Tom McKenzie and Lachlan Potter will provide plenty of run off half-back, while Matthew McGannon will look to continue his strong form from last week to carry over into this important game. Gippsland will head in as favourites, but the Knights have the speed and talent to cause an upset at home.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 11.30am
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

An early Sunday game at RAMS Arena is set to provide a treat with an almost full-strength Dandenong side taking on a Calder team with Curtis Taylor back in the side. Dandenong seem to be the clear benchmark this season and will go in as strong favourites, but Calder have matched it with most sides this year and have caused a number of upsets. Opposing captains Campbell Hustwaite and Mitch Podhajski could go head-to-head in the middle, both capable of running both ways and working hard to help their team gain momentum. The speed of the Stingrays might trouble the Cannons, with Zac Foot and Jai Taylor providing plenty of outside run, while Will Hamill and Sam Fletcher provide the inside hands. Bailey Williams is a monster in the air, and Riley Bowman and the returning Bailey Schmidt will push the Cannons for height. Daniel Hanna could be handed the job on Williams, while Lucas Cavallaro and Lachlan Sholl will look to be the ones rebounding from defence. Taylor is a hard match-up for any opposition up forward, and could go head-to-head with potential number one pick in 2019, Hayden Young. The Stingrays seem almost assured of the minor premiership this season, but the wind at RAMS Arena always throws up a few surprises, while the Cannons can go outright seventh with breathing space if the Power defeat the Knights.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 1pm
Central Reserve, Colac

Out in the south west, Geelong Falcons will look to take advantage of mass changes for Oakleigh to snatch a win in the Falcons’ home away from home in Colac. While Ned McHenry is a big loss for the Falcons, the Chargers will have to overcome wholesale changes with players heading back to school football. Sam Walsh, Oscar Brownless and Cooper Stephens will still have a fascinating battle in midfield, with Riley Collier-Dawkins, Xavier O’Neill and Noah Answerth, while Oakleigh’s dominant forward line still has serious threats with bottom-agers Noah Anderson and Dylan Williams down there, as well as over-ager Matthew Day and top-ager Jake Gasper who have both booted bags of goals this season – Gasper last week. The strength in attack means Oakleigh will be a danger if they can control the midfield, while Geelong can control play if they win the contested ball. Connor Idun and Dane Hollenkamp will look to contain the forwards, while Brayden Ham is back at half-back where he will try and provide both offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. Up forward, Blake Schlensog provides a target, while Baxter Mensch and Jay Dahlhaus are others who can find the ball and keep it moving forward. Despite the changes and the home ground advantage, Oakleigh would be rightfully favourites in this game, but Geelong pushed Sandringham Dragons all the way last round and will be hoping for a repeat effort this week.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 2.30pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

In the final game of the round, Sandringham Dragons will take on Bendigo Pioneers in what should be a close game on paper. The Dragons will rightfully head in as favourites, but any time a team makes 17 changes is always going to present challenges. The Pioneers have remained relatively stable and welcomed James Schischka back into the side. While the Dragons have plenty of depth and still some serious talent around the field, they will look to their next tier of players to step up in front of a home crowd. Liam Stocker will look to build on his great form of late since returning from injury, while James Rendell is back in the team to provide a tall target up front. Jai Florent and Tyson Milne are small forwards who create opportunities at ground level, while Corey Watts and Ryan Byrnes are others who have shown good signs throughout the season. For the Pioneers, Jacob Atley provides good speed and effort out of defence, and will combine well with Schischka back there. Noah Wheeler, Hunter Lawrence and Liam Marciano are always involved, while Oscar and Flynn Perez provide some excitement up forward and on the outside. A win to Sandringham could see them move past Murray into third spot, while a loss could see them drop back as far as sixth. The Pioneers can get off the bottom of the TAC Cup table with a win here.

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 6

IT was a good week for the Country teams as every Metro side met a Country counterpart, with a 3-2 advantage in favour of the latter. Western Jets and Calder Cannons got the job done over Geelong Falcons and Bendigo Pioneers respectively, but Murray Bushrangers, Dandenong Stingrays and Gippsland Power all had good wins, as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels split the points with Oakleigh Chargers.

 

Western Jets 9.13 (67) defeated Geelong Falcons 7.1 (43)

The Western Jets made it back-to-back wins with a solid four-goal victory over an accurate Geelong Falcons on the weekend. After succumbing to a disappointing 126-point humiliation at the hands of Dandenong Stingrays, the Jets have strung together two good victories and are back on track showing their depth and talent. The wind-affected Williamstown Football Ground resulted in 13 of the game’s 16 goals kicked up one end, Darcy Cassar (three goals) and Aaron Clarke (two) the main beneficiaries on the day.

Zak Butters notched up 28 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s and three tackles, while Connor Thar was also impressive with 24 disposals, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Stefan Radovanovic provided great run through the middle with 23 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds, while Xavier O’Halloran put in another captain’s performance with a team-high seven clearances to go with his 18 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds.

For Geelong, Sam Walsh topped the disposal winners with 33 touches, three marks and seven tackles, while Ed McHenry was a tackling machine, laying 11 tackles and gathering 22 disposals, five clearances and seven rebounds when dropping into defence to help out. Ben Morton went one better than McHenry with 12 tackles, while also having 21 disposals and a team-high eight clearances. Baxter Mensch (20 disposals) and Oscar Brownless (19) were the other two Falcons to win more than 15 disposals in the loss.

 

Northern Knights 8.11 (59) defeated by Murray Bushrangers 13.16 (94)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers ran out comfortable 35-point winners against a brave Northern Knights outfit at Preston City Oval. In tough, blustery conditions, the game was often played between both 50 arcs, but still provided forwards the chance to prove their worth as clear-cut chances were sparse. With the scores level at the first break, the Bushies went on to boot nine of the next twelve goals during the second and third terms to set up a handy buffer. While they were valiant for most of the day and ended up winning the last-quarter battle, the Knights lost the war, but will take some solice out of hanging on to their top eight spot.

Murray’s willingness to take the game on at all costs proved to be a real game-changer, and it allowed their potent forward line to do work their magic from a range of positions. Each player who rotated through the forward 50 looked dangerous, with the likes of Riley Bice, Bailey Frauenfelder, Zane Barzen and Hudson Garoni all bagging multiple goals. Midfielder Kyle Clarke was also impressive as he mixed his minutes between the centre bounces and forward 50.

For Northern, skipper Braedyn Gillard led from the front and was aided well by Harrison Grace in the midfield, while ruckman Tom Hallebone had one of his best games for the year. With their defence under constant pressure, rebounding bottomager Ryan Gardner stood up, while Stefan Uzelac impressed with his contested marking.

 

Dandenong Stingrays 13.13 (91) defeated Eastern Ranges 6.3 (39)

Dandenong Stingrays bounced back from their first loss of the season to shake off a determined Eastern Ranges outfit at Shepley Oval. The Stingrays went in as heavy favourites against the winless Ranges, but had a competitive match with the Ranges taking it up to them in the first term to trail by just two points. The Stingrays kicked away in the second quarter with a four goals to one term to open up a 22-point advantage at the main break, before extending that to an even five goals by three quarter time. A three goal to zero final quarter saw the final margin blow out to 52 points, which was arguably not indicative of the closeness between the teams.

AFL Academy member Sam Fletcher came back into the side for his first game of 2018 and went handball crazy, picking up 21 handballs as part of his 24-possession, six-tackle and four-clearance game. Talented Stingrays bottom-ager Hayden Young stood up with 20 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds, capping off his all-round game with a goal. Usual ball winners Campbell Hustwaite and Jamie Plumridge had just 12 disposals each, but in their place the likes of James Hickey and Reid Nanscawen (both 17 disposals) stood up, as did AFL Academy member Bailey Williams with 25 hitouts and a goal, while Corey Ellison slotted three majors.

For Eastern, Tyler Edwards was the highest disposal winner, notching up 24 disposals, four tackles, five clearances and five rebounds, while last week’s AFL Draft Central Player of the Week, Joel Burleigh, had a modest 18 disposals compared to his 40 in round five, but laid 13 tackles in a good defensive effort. Kye Quirk had 20 disposals and six rebounds off half-back, while Billy McCormack had 19 disposals, seven hitouts and four rebounds.

 

Calder Cannons 10.8 (68) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 4.5 (29)

A six goals to one third term helped Calder Cannons secure their third win of the season over a plucky Bendigo Pioneers in a rain-affected game at RAMS Arena. Playing in the evening, the Cannons and Pioneers had to endure some heavy showers early on, with a dour first half producing just three goals. A spirited third term saw the Cannons all but put the game to bed, piling on six goals to one to open up a 43-point advantage at the final break. Bendigo booted two of the final three goals to outscore the home side in the final term, but were unable to bridge the deficit as the Cannons celebrated a 39-point victory at home.

Mitch Podhajski was the star of the show in his return to the Cannons side, with the Calder co-captain amassing 27 disposals, seven marks, laying 15 tackles and booting three goals in a best on ground performance in the victory. After a quiet first half, Lachlan Sholl turned it on with a 26-disposal second half to bring his night’s total to 35, to go with his eight marks and six rebounds. Daniel Hanna was important taking five marks from his 26 disposals and a major, while Ismail Moussa was important in the first half, finishing with 23 disposals, five marks and three rebounds, and Jack Evans (22 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) was used more up the field than in previous weeks to be an important link in the chain.

For Bendigo, Noah Wheeler racked up 21 kicks in his 25 disposals, four clearances, five inside 50s and four tackles, while Daniel Keating was good around the ground in the ruck with 16 disposals, five marks, 22 hitouts four clearances and a goal. Hunter Lawrence had 18 disposals, six tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while bottom-ager James Schischka (18 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) was also important for the losing side.

 

Gippsland Power 20.18 (138) defeated Sandringham Dragons 4.5 (29)

Gippsland Power put Sandringham Dragons to the sword on Sunday with a thumping 109-point victory at Morwell Recreation Reserve. The Power put their top four credentials on the table with 10 goals in each half, restricting the Dragons to just one goal after the main break, and held the visitors scoreless in the final term. The highlight was a seven goal to one third term, with Gippsland piling on 13 goals up one end in a dominant display. For the Dragons, it was their third consecutive loss as they continue to shuffle the magnets around in the absence of their top players with the APS football season forcing them to experiment which will hopefully see them record a win soon. 

Gippsland had 11 individual goal kickers in the victory, led by Sam Flanders (four goals), Austin Hodge (four) and Harvey Neocleous (three). Boadie Motton topped the disposal count with 30 touches, while also taking four marks, racking up four clearances and booting a goal. Riley Baldi lead the team clearances again with five, to go with his 27 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s, while Matthew McGannon (25 disposals, five marks and four tackles), Bailey Beck (24 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s) and Bailey Patterson (23 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) all booted a goal. Captain Xavier Duursma continued his consistent season with 23 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s.

For the Dragons, Harry Bede was Sandringham’s best, collecting 25 disposals, eight marks, six rebounds and booting a goal, while Dawit McNeish returned to the side with positive numbers including 19 disposals, six tackles and two clearances. Beaten in the clearances, Thomas Deane-Johns was a shining light for the Dragons, picking up four clearances in a team-high performance. Ethan Casey (24 hitouts), Corey Watts (13 disposals and five rebounds) and Ryan Byrnes (16 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s) were the other busy players.

 

GWV Rebels 9.10 (64) drew with Oakleigh Chargers 9.10 (64)

By: Cameron Ross

A determined Oakleigh Chargers shared the points with the desperate GWV Rebels in miserable conditions on Sunday. In somewhat typical Ballarat fashion, a freezing south-westerly made for a two goal advantage to the Midlands Highway end of the field and the Chargers took advantage early. Atu Bosenavulagi started the game in fine fashion, kicking the two early goals for the visitors and asserting himself physically at the contest. The Rebels struggled to get the ball past halfway before Scott Carlin set the blueprint for the remainder of the game, with run and carry being the best method to advance the ball into the wind.

The Rebels clung on with the Chargers dominating the game early, as solid defence from Jacob Lohmann and Harrison Butler, kept the visitors within three goals at quarter time. The second quarter played out remarkably similar to the first quarter, with the Rebels taking over the game instead. Jed Hill got his hands on the footy and kicked an early goal from long range but it was Ben Annett who led the way for the Rebels with his ferocious attack on the footy sparking his teammates into action. Annett kicked two goals in the second term to bring the Rebels within a point at the long break.

The third quarter was once again dominated by the team with the wind, and Lachlan Bugeja had a huge say. Bugeja not only kicked back to back goals but his work rate through the midfield was outstanding. Bugeja was winning clearances, free kicks, and setting up goals and it felt like every stoppage the Chargers “number 2” was having an impact. This impact was felt on the scoreboard with the Chargers leading by two goals at the final change. Rebels coach Marc Greig urged his side for one more big quarter, and when Charlie Wilson goaled for the Rebels early, it looked as though he may have his wish. Yet within moments the exciting Collier-Dawkins snapped the quick reply and it was game on.

A strange umpiring decision for a “deliberate” rushed behind gave Jed Hill the easiest goal of the season, and moments later, Hill nailed another, this time an unbelievably skilful goal on his non-preferred left that tied the game. The final ten minutes were extremely tense with skill errors from both sides giving their opponents the chance to win. In the final seconds, Collier Dawkins had a chance to win the game for his side, but slightly pushed his kick across goal. The siren blew before the Rebels had a chance to take the kick in and both teams had to settle for a draw. The game wasn’t one that will be remembered by many, but both sides played extremely well in difficult conditions.

TAC Cup previews: Round 4

SO many changes at the selection table and ahead of round four we investigate which players will need to stand out, and those who will need to continue their form in order to get their team across the line in round four of the TAC Cup competition.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 

Round 4 – Friday, April 20, 7pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo

Bendigo Pioneers host Oakleigh Chargers under lights tonight at Queen Elizabeth Oval and it becomes a game which is almost impossible to predict how it is going to go. Bendigo has made at least six changes, something that pales in comparison with Oakleigh’s team selection as 13 players return to school football or other commitments. Noah Anderson will be a key out, second overall in clearances for the Chargers, but Bendigo will still need to watch James Rowbottom, who has notched up 17 clearances (eight centre clearances) and is influential at the stoppages.

Bendigo’s 1-2 counter punch at the stoppages are Noah Wheeler and Zane Keighran with the latter named at half-back for the match. They have 21 clearances between them in season 2018, but Wheeler has also been crucial for 12 inside 50s. Bailey Henderson has been named up forward after being Mr Consistent at half-back, and he will line-up alongside Will Holt who is leading the goal kicking in the competition with Max King. The injury to Daniel Keating will be felt, with the in-form ruck having played some great football to date, and the Pioneers will look to Matt Hird in his first game this year to provide the midfielders with the first possession.

For Oakleigh, they will need their depth to step up in the absence of Anderson, Trent Bianco, Matt Rowell, Jack Ross and Charlie Whitehead in the middle, while Ben Silvagni has been the most influential forward in terms of scoreboard influence this year. In his place comes Sam Elliott who moves to full-forward with Daniel Scala the key small down there. With Anderson, Silvagni, Whitehead and Zac Hart gone, the Chargers lose four of their top five players involved in scoring chains this year. Instead of having eight of the top 10 in this match-up, it is more even 6-4 split. Oakleigh still has the depth to win the game, but Bendigo will be hoping to take advantage of the mass changes and its strong inside brigade make the most of its experience at the stoppages.

GEELONG FALCONS v. EASTERN RANGES 

Round 4 – Saturday, April 21, 11.15am
Avalon Airport Oval, Werribee

In a game where both sides are still looking for their first win, last year’s reigning premiers and the team with the most players drafted in 2017, find themselves in a vastly different situation six months on. Geelong will welcome back Sam Walsh who is a crucial cog in the Falcons midfield, especially against an Eastern Ranges outfit which will be without the likes of Xavier Fry and Cody Hirst who both rotate through there.

Geelong will miss Charlie Sprague who has been arguably the most consistent Falcons player who has played all three games, as Sprague heads back to play school football, as will Cooper Stephens and a host of others among seven changes for Geelong. Eastern have also made six changes, with Hirst’s a forced one through injury. One area in which Eastern can try and take control is in the midfield with a strong inside brigade. With no Ed McHenry, the Ranges have four of the top five clearance players in the game, with Joel Burleigh, Jonte Duffy, Adrian Kalcovski and Lachlan Stapleton all providing good extraction from the stoppages. Oscar Brownless, Baxter Mensch, Brayden Ham and of course Walsh will look to go head-to-head with the Eastern onballers in what could decide the match.

The big question for these teams is scoring, with the Falcons missing Sprague (who would have the highest scoreboard impact in this match-up) and relying on Blake Schlensog who has had nine score involvements, three more than any other player on the field this season. Based on the season so far, both teams will look to share the load in terms of scoring, with Billy McCormack and Thomas Lockman named as the key position posts for Eastern, while Finlay Parish comes in for his first game and will line-up at centre-half forward in between Ham and Walsh. Throwing Connor Idun forward continues to offer a different look for the Falcons, and with a marked improvement in round three compared to the prior two rounds, the Falcons will be confident going into this one.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 

Round 4 – Saturday, April 21, 11.30am
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta

In the other early game on Saturday, Murray Bushrangers will look to win their third consecutive match, while Sandringham Dragons head into the game unbeaten. With the start of the APS and AGVS seasons, the Dragons are hit harder than any other team and lose almost all of their best 22 – they made 16 changes. It will be a great test to see if they can overcome the Bushrangers with their next tier of players, and see some stand up in the absence of others.

Players who have been in form for the Dragons include Alastair Richards, Liam Stocker and Kai Owen, the three highest extractors for the Dragons this season who have been named in the line-up. Without Dawit McNeish and Bailey Smith, the Dragons will need to win the clearances against a Bushrangers midfield which includes Ely Smith and Dylan Clarke, with Mark Marriott dominant in the ruck more often than not. Losing the King twins always hurts, but the Dragons got the job done against Calder without them, and they will look to James Rendell to continue his good form – booting four goals in the second half against the Cannons – to have an impact on the contest. Up the other end, the Bushrangers have no shortage of contributors, with Patrick Warner (six goals), Bailey Frauenfelder (five), Riley Bice (four) and Jacob Koschitkze (three) all having an impact. Sandringham will be vastly unknown quantity up forward, with Liam Stocker (two) the highest season goal kicker behind Rendell, with Angus Hanrahan thrown forward for this match.

Last year the Dragons knocked off Dandenong Stingrays at Frankston Oval after making 17 changes to its side at the start of the APS season. It was a remarkable win, and they will be looking to do the same here. The trick will be trying to limit the influence of Murray’s midfield and working as a team to ensure they don’t concede too many early goals as they try and gel which is always difficult with wholesale changes. Murray does not rely on one goal kicker to kick a high score, something Sandringham will look for this round as the teams aim to share the goals around and provide a great contest in Wangaratta.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS 

Round 4 – Saturday, April 21, 12.45pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve, Morwell

In what is shaping to be a great contest, Gippsland Power takes on Northern Knights at Morwell, a ground where the Power pushed Dandenong Stingrays all the way a few weeks back. The Knights have also improved since a round one capitulation against the Sandringham Dragons, and are starting to find their groove – so naturally both sides have been scattered with the start of the school football system with Gippsland’s four omissions among their four most important players – Xavier Duursma, Sam Flanders, Austin Hodge and Caleb Serong. Northern has also lost their most consistent ball winner in Tom McKenzie, as well as the likes of Justin McInerney, Oscar White and Joel Naylor among at least seven changes.

Gippsland will look to rely on Matthew McGannon for plenty of drive out of the back half, with the overager leading the competition in disposals (84) and marks (30). Through the midfield, Riley Baldi’s role as a clearance gem will become more important given the loss of partner in crime Hodge, and the fact the Knights will be without the only player with more clearances than Baldi this season in McKenzie. Gippsland will look to the likes of Nick Lowden, Brett Thorson and Boadie Motton to stand up through the middle and around the ground who have been that next tier of players behind the four omissions. Brock Smith is a talented bottom-ager who provides great drive, while Ryan Sparkes is another one who has impressed so far this season. Gippsland’s forward line is vastly untouched outside of Flanders, with Irving Mosquito and Josh Smith – two of the three highest Power goal kickers – both in the side.

For Northern, Josh D’Intinosante and Braedyn Gillard shape as the two most important players. D’Intinosante is a bottom-ager who has a good all-round game providing forward pressure and scoreboard impact. He also gets up the ground and sets up his teammates, as does Gillard through the middle with his work at stoppages. Without McKenzie, Gillard will look to Harrison Grace and Ryan Gardner among others to try and win the midfield battle – an area which is weakened for the Power by their omissions. Lachlan Potter provides a good link down back, while Patrik Della Rocca and Mark Baker will be a couple of targets who can hit the scoreboard if given the opportunity. The battle between Rylan Henkel and Thomas Hallebone in the ruck will be fascinating with both players selected in the extended Vic Country and Vic Metro squads respectively.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. WESTERN JETS 

Round 4 – Sunday, April 22, 12.30pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Dandenong Stingrays face Western Jets in the first game on Sunday, with the Stingrays losing a number of key players to school football and Under 18 Academy Series commitments. The Stingrays are yet to lose in season 2018, but their depth will be put to the test with the likes of Stephen and Matthew Cumming, Hayden Young, Mitch Riordan, Toby Bedford, Jai Nanscawen and Heath Briggs out of the side. Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams return from the AFL Academy game among a host of fresh faces including familiar Stingrays name Sam De Koning who lines up at centre-half back. For the Jets, Emerson Jeka is a big loss down forward, while Lucas Rocci is another out; but the return of AFL Academy member Buku Khamis will buoy the Jets coaching staff.

Western might have the upper hand if they can control Williams and Bowman in their defensive 50, with Aaron Clarke, Steven Kyriazis and Zak Butters three of the most damaging forwards in the game, all adding a different element inside 50 for the Jets. Bailey Schmidt, captain Campbell Hustwaite, and Finlay Bayne have the three highest score involvements of the remaining Dragons, although expect both Williams and Bowman to have a say in the team’s fortune down forward. Zac Foot booted four goals in the last outing against the GWV Rebels, so is another who could be damaging, but the Jets also have a strong defence to rely upon.

The likes of Khamis and Hamish Murphy hold down the key defensive posts, while Stefan Radovanovic and Jack Papachatzakis provide good run and defensive pressure. Xavier O’Halloran has been Mr Consistent through midfield, while Connor Thar provides a strong presence at the stoppages and is a known ball winner. Daly Andrews and Darcy Cassar are others who have shown some good signs throughout the season. For Dandenong, Jamie Plumridge and Will Hamill provide a good trio with Hustwaite, while Angus Paterson has been a rock in defence.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. CALDER CANNONS 

Round 4 – Sunday, April 22, 1.30pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The final game of the round sees GWV Rebels return to MARS Stadium where they take on the Calder Cannons with both sides at a crucial junction in the early part of the season, sitting 1-2 after three rounds. The Rebels will look to turnaround from the heavy defeat at the hands of Dandenong Stingrays up in Bendigo, while Calder will look to build on the performance against Sandringham Dragons without their AFL Academy members, and bring the same level of intensity into this clash. Unlike many other teams, both sides have got stronger at the top end, with the Rebels welcoming back midfielder Tom Berry, while the Cannons have their AFL Academy trio in, of Jack Bytel, Curtis Taylor and Rhylee West. They do lose Mitch Podhajski and Mason Fletcher who have been consistent all season, but will be bolstered by the important returns.

Without a second thought, the clearances are going to be an entertaining battle with Lochie Dawson and Scott Carlin leading the way in this game, while Taylor, Bytel and Curtis will add some serious grunt in the middle. Neither side has a dominant key forward, and instead looks to share the goals around between talls and smalls, with Jed Hill (five), Mitch Martin (four) and Josh Chatfield (three) the top Rebels goal kickers; and Taylor (four) and Jack O’Sullivan (three) the top Cannons in the absence of Podhajski. Tylar Watts returns to the ruck against Devereux Pretty who is back into the side this week, with the ruck battle a crucial one-on-one in the overall scheme of things.

Calder has a consistent defence with Jack Evans, Lucas Cavallaro and Lachlan Sholl back there, while Kyle Baker adds composure and speed. Dylan Landt and Tye Browning are other consistent mid/forwards, while the Rebels have a mosquito fleet in attack. Matt Schnerring and Toby Mahony joining Hill, Chatfield and Martin as dangerous forwards, while Jed Henderson will look to provide a target as well. Harris Jennings and Charlie Wilson are other players to watch, while Angus Gove links well between midfield and attack.