Tag: charlie lazzaro

Dragons reign of fire blows away Falcons in 103-point win

ELEVEN unanswered goals from Sandringham Dragons in the space of 47 minutes gave spectators at Preston City Oval an idea of what the fourth placed side is capable of, completely dismantling Geelong Falcons. The Falcons were brave for the first term, but ultimately overwhelmed once the Dragons’ machine got going, piling on eight goals to zero in the second term to open up a 62-point lead by half-time. Despite the Dragons missing top talents Jack Mahony and Josh Worrell to injury, the side that had double-figure Victorian representatives and draft combine invites went to work and once the pressure eased around the ground, the Dragons took complete control. While the Falcons managed to stem the flow at times, the Dragons still took control in the second half with a nine goals to two half which saw them run out 103-point winners.

Geelong started the game with serious intent against the fourth placed Dragons, keeping them on par in the first half of the opening term. After a scrappy opening few minutes with both defences standing up, Fischer McAsey marked out on the lead 35m from goal. He shanked the kick, but Blake O’Leary was fortuitously in front of his opponent and marked 15m out straight in front to convert and put through the Dragons’ first. Angus Hanrahan and Ryan Byrnes were having a feast in midfield, and while the Falcons domination going forward – more inside 50s finally paid off with a couple of shots on goal, the Dragons defence was steady. Oliver Henry missed a chance with his set shot blowing to the right, before a 50-metre penalty to Archie Hildebrandt handed Geelong the lead midway through the quarter.

It was not long before the combination of Hanrahan, Byrnes and Darcy Chirgwin soon got the Dragons back on top, with Byrnes pumping the ball long inside 50 in front of Kyle Yorke who did the rest with a dribbler from the boundary line. In the final minute, a 50-metre penalty to Chirgwin handed his side a third goal heading into the first break, and a handy 11-point lead. The Dragons’ desire was typified by a crucial one-on-two contest win by Harry Loughnan at half-back who not only nullified the contest while outnumbered, but got the ball to his teammates to run it down the field. Hanrahan (12 disposals) and Byrnes (nine) were dominant, while O’Leary (seven and a goal) and Chirgwin (seven and a goal) were also among the best. For Geelong, Charlie Lazzaro had seven touches, while Tanner Bruhn showed touches of class, and Cam Fleeton took two great intercept marks. Remarkably the Dragons had 40 more disposals (97-57) at quarter time, but the Falcons had an extra inside 50 (9-8).

If there was any doubt about Sandringham’s claim as a genuine NAB League contender, it was put to bed in the second term, as the Dragons negotiated the wind perfectly with a complete domination of the Falcons. They ended the wooden spooners’ hopes of an upset, with eight goals to zero, four of which came in the first nine minutes. In those nine minutes, the Dragons needed just 30 disposals to slam home the four goals, with a Byrnes pass into Jack Bell, Chirgwin hitting up McAsey, Archie Perkins snapping truly, and then the best goal to Hugo Ralphsmith. The midfielder-forward smothered the ball, intercepted it in one motion and bombed long from 50m. Bell plucked out a full bag of tricks with a massive hanger on the wing, and while Jackson Voss’ subsequent shot on goal from Bell’s kick missed in the breeze, it would not be long before the Dragons added more.

Every time Geelong went forward, the Dragons would look composed, run it out of defence and get it straight down the other end, with Josh Le Grice hitting up McAsey for his second, and a forward 50 turnover helping Miles Bergman mark and add his name to the goalkickers list. After the only score of the second term for the Falcons – a double poster from a Gennaro Bove snap – business as usual resumed for the Dragons as Bergman put it through the middle from 50, and then Byrnes added his name to the goalkickers list with the final goal of the quarter – the Dragons’ eleventh. Such was their dominance with the blustery wind, Bergman added a behind after the half-time siren with a bomb from the wing that bounced all the way home thanks to shepherding but went the wrong side of the post. At the main break, the top five ball winners were all Dragons, with Hanrahan and Byrnes the clear best with 18 touches each, while Finn Maginness stepped up in the second term to have 14 by half-time. For the Falcons, Bruhn was one of few to stand up the in second quarter and had 10 touches by the main break. The Dragons’ efficiency was the most impressive, with just 24 more disposals in the term (84-60) but 21 inside 50s to five, and of course eight goals to zero.

The third term was almost identical to the first, with Sandringham doing enough to win the term, booting three goals to one with the blustery wind favouring the Falcons’ end. The Dragons booted their eleventh on the trot thanks to a well-positioned Bergman who marked off a set shot from Chirgwin. Similar to McAsey’s shank in the first term, the ball weirdly dropped short and Bergman rose high to pull it down and convert the goal. Geelong finally broke its goal drought when Bruhn won a free kick in the pocket, and some choice words from Dragons defender led to him earning a 50-metre penalty and kicking from the square with no one on the mark. They had more chances in the term, but the Falcons could not convert with Lazzaro’s shot going wide, and then Bergman’s work around the ground was having a massive impact. The midfield of the Dragons got back on top in the second half of the quarter, with Byrnes running it down the wing and a chain of possessions leading to Charlie Dean in the pocket who centred it to O’Leary for his second straight in front. Dean’s switch to the forward line proved extra beneficial when he took a good grab in the goalsquare off a Ralphsmith high pass, then Dean kicked it from point blank for the Dragons’ third of the term. Both teams suffered injury concerns in the quarter with Henry helped off after coming off second best in a marking contest, and Voss going down with what looked to be a serious leg injury after falling close to the post in defence just before the three quarter time siren. The Dragons were home and hosed heading into the final term, leading by an even 12 goals.

Sandringham ran out the game strongly with the blustery gale still giving them plenty of distance on the kicks going forward. Chirgwin almost added another major to his name early but the set shot missed. Ralphsmith had no such trouble from the boundary line, surprising even himself with a snap around the body sailing through for a miraculous goal. His effort was followed by Maginness – who booted his first of the game – and Bergman who nailed his fourth from a set shot after an uncontested mark inside 50. Max Annadale had an opportunity to kick Geelong’s third of the game against the tide, but sprayed the shot to the right from 15m out after winning the free kick from a great tackle. Dean capitalised up the other end with a goal straight in front, and then Bell booted his second and with six minutes remaining the margin was into triple figures. Hilderbrandt booted a consolation goal for the Falcons late in the game, but Jake Bowey then countered with a goal of his own for the Dragons to run out the game 103-point victors.

Hanrahan finished the game with a match-high 31 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Byrnes picked up 27 dispossals, four marks, eight inside 50s, four tackles and a goal. Chirgwin (27 touches, four marks, four inside 50s, four tackles and a goal), Maginness (27 disposals, five marks, six tackles and four inside 50s) were also prominent through the middle. Bergman was the dominant player with four majors from 17 disposals, eight marks, five inside 50s and four tackles, while Ralphsmith booted two majors from 16 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s. For the Falcons, Lazzaro had 18 touches, three marks, six inside 50s and three tackles, while Noah Gribble (15 disposals, four tackles) and Bruhn (14 disposals, three inside 50s and two tackles) worked hard throughout the game.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.0 | 11.4 | 14.4 | 20.6 (126)
GEELONG FALCONS 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Sandringham: M. Bergman 4, F. McAsey 2, B. O’Leary 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, J. Bell 2, C. Dean 2, K. Yorke, D. Chirgwin, A. Perkins, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, J. Bowey.
Geelong: A. Hildebrandt 2, T. Bruhn.

ADC BEST:

Sandringham: M. Bergman, R. Byrnes, A. Hanrahan, D. Chirgwin, H. Ralphsmith, F. Maginness.
Geelong: T. Bruhn, G. Bove, C. Lazzaro, N. Gribble, J. Clark, C. Karpala.

Morrish Medal Preview: Tight contest predicted for 2019

IT is hard to pick a winner in this year’s Morrish Medal count which will take place on Sunday, with a number of potential draft prospects putting their hands up for the NAB League Boys’ top award. We will run through some of the key contenders from each side and our predictions.

Bendigo Pioneers:

The Pioneers are unlikely to have a winner because of the shared effort between their best players week-to-week. Thomson Dow will poll well at either end of the season, but missed far too many games due to school football, while the likes of Riley Wilson, Josh Treacy, Aaron Gundry and James Schischka will steal votes off each other depending on who the umpires liked on the day. Not having a huge amount of wins means there will not be a great deal of three-votes either.

Calder Cannons:

There is a chance a Cannon could don the Morrish Medal, but it will rely on one of Daniel Mott or Sam Ramsay picking up the votes when both are in the team. If they end up splitting them like it will likely occur, it means they might fall short of an individual win. Brodie Newman should poll some good votes early in the season as well, while Ned Gentile will arguably grab some later in the season, and maybe roll into the higher votes with Mott and Ramsay.

Dandenong Stingrays:

Much like Hugh McCluggage before him, Hayden Young would be a chance given he has only missed due to the championships. Later in the season he was thrown around in different roles which might detract some votes, but his early season form was terrific and will still poll some later in the year, but more likely single votes. Ned Cahill is the other Stingray who will likely poll strongly in the vote count, while Jack Toner and Lachlan Williams might grab some lower votes for consistency.

Eastern Ranges:

The club that will be the most interesting to watch because they genuinely have three players that could win it in Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Zakery Pretty. All three have been consistent throughout the year, with our preference leaning towards Mellis just for the reason of hitting the scoreboard more often and has hardly had a bad game. In our prediction we had Mellis picking up 18 votes, including four best on grounds, while Pretty finished with 15 – two best on grounds – and Stapleton on 10 – mostly picking up the ‘two’ votes because others had huge games while he was consistent. Though they will likely steal votes off each other, if the umpires favour a particular player, then that player will likely take control given Eastern will roll in the votes this year.

Geelong Falcons:

Hard to see the bottom side polling enough votes to present a winner this year. Jesse Clark would be the Falcons’ top hope, and we have him on 11 for the season, but they are likely to be single votes given most games were losses. After Clark it is extremely even with the Charlie trio – Charlie Sprague, Charlie Harris and Charlie Lazzaro among the next in line.

Gippsland Power”

Similar to Eastern, watching how the Gippsland votes will play out is something worth keeping an eye on. We have Riley Baldi topping the list with 10 votes, one ahead of Sam Flanders and Brock Smith, but given the consistency and nature of the performances by those players, it will be hard for umpires to separate them. Fraser Phillips and Ryan Sparkes might steal the odd vote off the trio as well.

GWV Rebels:

Jay Rantall is one of the front-runners for the award because he is likely to pick up a host of three-votes, strong in the Rebels’ early wins and tight losses. He racks up big numbers and is eye-catching which helps, though Mitch Martin (who we have reaching double-figure votes) could also pick up votes from him. Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne are others who should poll in a few games given their consistency.

Murray Bushrangers:

Another team that has an even contribution from its top-end with Jye Chalcraft, Lachlan Ash, Cam Wild and Jimmy Boyer the four names to keep an eye on in this space. Chalcraft is the one we have polling the most, and with Ash missing a number of games due to Vic Country and AFL Academy commitments, the other trio are potentially going to benefit on Morrish Medal night. Depending on how the votes go, they could steal them off each other or if one can monopolise them, then they will be a serious contender.

Northern Knights:

Two names emerge from the Knights as genuine contenders in Josh D’Intinosante and Sam Philp. The pair did not play for Vic Metro and therefore have more games to poll in, and similar to Jackson Davies, will pick up three or two votes in matches when they have really stood out. We know small forwards have traditionally polled well, so D’Intinosante is a chance, though the umpires might lean towards the contested mid in Philp.

Oakleigh Chargers:

With all the school football and injuries at times to co-captains, Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams, it is hard to get a read on how Oakleigh’s votes will poll. There is little doubt that had Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell played full seasons we could be looking at a one-two from Oakleigh. We still have Anderson polling nine votes and Rowell seven despite playing just four games each to be the highest vote getters. But also on seven are Bianco, Fraser Elliot, Lochlan Jenkins and Reef McInnes, signifying how hard it is to work out who will secure the votes mid-season.

Sandringham Dragons:

Liam Stocker won it last year, and now a player who also did not have school football commitments could get the job done in 2019 with Ryan Byrnes. He missed some games due to injury, but is a genuine chance to take home the Morrish, with realistically only Angus Hanrahan the other player likely to steal votes when the school footballers were away. They will end up with a lot of players having votes on the night, but these two stand out above the others.

Tasmania Devils:

Did not win enough games to get too many three votes, but Matt McGuinness and Oliver Davis are the two players who will compete for the most votes at the league’s newest club. Jackson Callow will pick some up for his work up forward, while Mitch O’Neill will steal them when he got out on the park.

Western Jets:

Lucas Rocci is predicted to be the Jets’ highest voter, finishing the season in a blaze of glory to take up Darcy Cassar‘s role, who will ironically be the one polling votes early in the season. Those two will pick up the key votes either end of the season, with Josh Honey and Daly Andrews the other two who might come into consideration from the umpires.

TOP CONTENDERS: (Based on our prediction)

Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges) 18 votes

R1: 0 – Okay first game, but just the 17 touches in a dominant day for Noah Anderson. Oakleigh likely to take top votes.
R2: 3 – Was a clear best on ground in the win over the Jets, racking up 35 touches and booting three majors.
R3: 3 – Had the 29 touches and three goals in an easy win over the Knights. James Ross the one who could steal the three-vote with 30 disposals in defence.
R5: 1 – Was solid with 24 touches, but Zak Pretty had a mammoth day out against the Suns with 37, while Lachlan Stapleton racked up big numbers.
R6: 0 – Was solid with 21 touches, but was shaded by Pretty and Stapleton on the day, but more so the Power with Riley Baldi, Brock Smith and Sam Flanders all in contention for votes.
R9: 3 – Safe as houses for the three votes with a mammoth 39 disposals and seven inside 50s.
R12: 3 – Another likely best-on-ground performance after 33 touches and a goal – 10 more touches than any other player in Eastern’s win over the Devils.
R13: 2 – Narrow win over the Bushrangers, a chance for the three votes with 22 touches and two goals, but Jye Chalcraft was superb that day with 29.
R16: 2 – Amongst it for votes, Zak Pretty, Hayden Young and Jack Toner all possibilities, though Mellis had 24 touches in a strong game.
R17: 1 – Tightest of wins over Eastern, Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Lachlan Stapleton the big vote threats.

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels) 16 votes

R1: 0 – Rebels fell short of victory against Stingrays, a number of others on both sides ahead of Rantall for votes.
R2: 3 – Was a key reason the Rebels snuck home, but votes could go to Cooper Stephens who was terrific in the one-point loss.
R3: 3 – A clear best-on-ground performance with 31 touches and two goals, but a loss to the Bushrangers might prevent him from picking up the three.
R5: 3 – Stood out against the Thunder with 27 disposals and two goals. Riley Polkinghorne and Toby Mahony could be vote threats.
R6: 0 – Just 14 touches in the loss to the Suns, won’t poll in this game.
R7: 3 – The Rebels lost by 32 to the Knights which might cost him the votes, but he had a massive 36 touches, 10 more than any other player.
R8: 0 – A game-high 30 touches, but the Rebels were thrashed by the Power with a raft of players likely to collect all the votes. Will be the one to get one if Rebels get a look in, though.
R14: 0 – Comfortable win over the Falcons, but Mitch Martin was superb, while Noah Gribble and Jesse Clark will get chances for the Falcons.
R15: 2 – Expect Sam Ramsay to pick up the three in the Cannons’ tight win over the Rebels, though Rantall was just as good despite the loss.
R16: 3 – Turned it on when required against the Pioneers with 21 touches and two goals in a low-possession game. Jack Ginnivan’s 19 and four might earn the three votes, while Josh Treacy was also in contention.
R17: 0 – Finished the game with 20 touches but just five in the first half will hurt his vote chances. Feeling is he misses out, but could pick up a vote.

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons) 16 votes

R1: 2 – Massive win to the Dragons over the Cannons, Byrnes among the best with 27 touches and a goal, but Charlie Dean booted five goals.
R2: 3 – Accounted for the Knights and was the standout midfielder for the Dragons. Adam Carafa had 29 touches for the Knights, while Dean was inaccurate with 4.3.
R3: 0 – Okay but Matt Rowell, Trent Bianco, Jack Mahony and Finn Maginness are likely to poll votes ahead of him.
R5: 3 – A smashing win over the Lions with 26 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal. Louis Butler’s 31 is a threat to steal the ‘three’.
R7: 1 – Went down to the Ranges and Zak Pretty and Cody Hirst both impressed. Best of the Dragons though with Angus Hanrahan the other a chance to sneak a vote.
R8: 3 – Should poll the three votes here in the Dragons’ narrow win over Bendigo thanks to 31 touches, three marks and a goal. If Miles Bergman kicked straighter (1.5) it might be a different story.
R11: 0 – Went down to the Ranges and Darcy Chirgwin dominated upon return.
R13: 2 – Loss to the Jets, with Lucas Rocci picking up nine rebounds, and Finn Maginness also impressive, but should poll one or two.
R14: 0 – Tight win over the Stingrays, Angus Hanrahan and Hayden Young the clear standouts. Fischer McAsey with three goals likely to poll as well.
R15: 2 – Massive game to Angus Hanrahan (33 touches, three goals) will earn him the three votes, but Byrnes was next best with 28 and one.
R17: 0 – Just the 13 touches and plenty in line for votes ahead of him in the massive game against Oakleigh.

Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights) 16 votes

R1: 0 – Went down to the Jets, and Josh Honey, Sam Philp, Adam Carafa and Ryan Sturgess among those in contention, though he could grab a minor vote.
R2: 0 – Went down to the Dragons by 43 points and was inaccurate with 1.4.
R3: 0 – Held his own with 21 touches and a goal, but Knights were smashed by the Ranges and Philp was Northern’s best. Mellis and Ross the top vote getters.
R5: 3 – The difference in the Knights’ win over Bendigo, booted a goal from 30 touches, six marks and eight tackles.
R6: 3 – Again the standout player with two goals from 25 touches, Lachlan Potter and Jackson Davies two that could steal votes.
R7: 2 – They won by 32 but Jay Rantall had a field day, while ‘JD’ finished with 1.3 from 20 touches.
R8: 0 – Narrow loss to the Chargers and others were better, just the 16 touches and one behind.
R9: 0 – Loss to the Cannons and Philp and Davies good again, unlikely to pick up a vote.
R10: 0 – Massive win over the Stingrays, but not among the best despite two goals.
R11: 2 – A chance to pick up the three, but will likely go to Philp. Both had the 30 touches, with D’Intinosante slightly inaccurate with three behinds.
R13: 0 – Seven-goal win and he booted four majors – a chance for votes, though Carafa, Philp, Davies and Potter were all impressive.
R14: 3 – Six goals from 18 touches – Lock in the three votes, Eddie.
R15: 0 – Just the 13 touches and one goal in the 37-point loss to Bendigo.
R17: 3 – Booted 4.2 from 13 touches on the weekend in a low-disposal winning game, with Carafa, Ewan Macpherson, Ryan Sturgess and Josh Watson all potential for votes though.

Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) – 16 votes

R1: 0 – Just 10 disposals and a behind in a quiet outing at RAMS Arena.
R2: 0 – A chance for votes with two goals from 26 touches in the tight loss to Bendigo, but Lachlan Ash and Cam Wild were impressive, as was Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp.
R3: 1 – Jay Rantall had a great day with 31 touches and two goals, while Ash starred with 28. Chalcraft next best in the seven-point win.
R5: 0 – 22 touches and a goal, but Wild had a good day as Hamish Ellem (22 touches, nine marks and 3.3) should get the ‘three’.
R6: 0 – Booted two goals but just 14 touches in the loss to the GIANTS as Tom Green monstered them and Jeromy Lucas and Ed Perryman had big numbers, while Ash was best for the Bushrangers.
R7: 3 – Finally got the win and Chalcraft was important with 26 touches in the midfield. Wild (27 and one goal) and Dylan Clarke (23 and two) the two biggest threats.
R8: 0 – Well beaten by the Cannons and just 13 touches.
R9: 0 – Okay with 17 disposals and a goal, but Bushrangers were smashed by Chargers so no votes, and Wild and Jimmy Boyer both better.
R10: 0 – Boyer, Clarke and Charlie Byrne in the running for votes as Murray accounted for the Devils. Chalcraft not far behind with 20 touches.
R11: 3 – 27 disposals and six inside 50s, competing for the top votes with Wild.
R12: 3 – 33 disposals, four inside 50s and five tackles in a low-scoring win over the Pioneers, Boyer booted 1.4 from 27 disposals as his biggest challenger for votes.
R13: 3 – Topped the disposals comfortably with 29, though Ranges won by four points and Mellis and Pretty both had 22, with Mellis booting two goals.
R14: 0 – 18 touches and a goal in a 20-point loss, others ahead of him for votes.
R15: 2 – Big win over the Jets, but will be competing with Wild, Ash and Boyer for votes.
R17: 1 – Loss to the Rebels, but had 22 touches and was one of Murray’s best with Wild and Josh Rachele, might be behind Cooper Craig-Peters as well though.

Others: (Based on our predictions)

Zakery Pretty (Eastern Ranges) – 15 votes – Could take some of the Mellis votes if the umps prefer clearance midfielders.
Sam Philp (Northern Knights) 15 votes – Could take some of the D’Intinosante votes.
Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons) 14 votes – Misses quite a few games, but when at his best he is looking at high votes.
Lucas Rocci (Western Jets) 13 votes – Had a purple patch in the second half of the season, have him for four best-on-grounds.
Tom Green (GWS GIANTS) 12 votes – Four games, four BOGs, absolute domination.
Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons) 12 votes – Might take votes off Byrnes, and guaranteed some threes after huge games.
Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons) 11 votes – Battling with Mott for Cannons votes.
Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays) 11 votes – Should pick up plenty, but run home not as much.
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS) 11 votes – Like Green, was massive in the Academy Series games.
Jesse Clark (Geelong Falcons) 11 votes – Should monopolise most of the Falcons’ votes.
Mitch Martin (GWV Rebels) 11 votes – Toss up between him and Rantall for votes at the Rebels.
Lachlan Stapleton (Eastern Ranges) 10 votes – May take votes off Mellis and Pretty, particularly if the umps like tackling midfielders.
Riley Baldi (Gippsland Power) 10 votes – Has plenty of competitors for votes at the Power, but seems to do it all.
Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers) 10 votes – Stands out even in average games, but missed a fair chunk due to Vic Country and AFL Academy.

Our Predictions after Round 5:

Tom Green (GWS) – 9 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 8 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 8 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 8 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 7 votes
Lachlan Ash (MB) – 7 votes

Our Predictions after Round 10:

Tom Green (GWS) – 12 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 12 votes
Zakery Pretty (ER) – 12 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 11 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 11 cotes
Daniel Mott (CC) – 11 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 10 votes
Sam Philp (NK) – 10 votes

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 17

THE cream is beginning to rise to the top in the NAB League as we reach the business end of the season. There was a bunch of top-end prospects to stand up in tight games this weekend, with out scouts getting to both the Metro and Country triple-headers. Here are their opinion-based notes on some of the players who received a National, State or Rookie Me Draft Combine invitation, or represented Vic Country and Vic Metro at the Under-16 Championships and Under-17 Futures games.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

The energetic small enjoyed time in the midfield, bringing good attack and speed to the engine room. He started well with an accurate hit-up kick to Archi Manton and excelled with penetrating kicks into the forward 50 off only a few steps. Failli also zipped away from congestion well and was often present at the fall of the ball, where he used his agility and clean hands to stay in possession. Not a massive game, but was busy.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Continued his apprenticeship as a key defender for most of the game, positioning well inside defensive 50 to cut off a few Northern attacks – especially early on. Jeka positioned smartly to intercept in the first term and used his ideal foot skills to find both short options and penetrate long on the rebound. He was swung back to his more familiar forward position in the second half but missed the chance to hit the scoreboard as he missed with a third term set shot. But Jeka would still have an impact in that department despite Western’s low-scoring effort, assisting an Archi Manton goal after finding him by foot inside 50.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Had a slow start to the game but built into it with repeat running and driving bursts along the outside. Positioned on the wing and off half-back, Cassar worked well both ways and tried his best to help Western exit the Knights’ territory after quarter time. His instincts in reading the high balls came into play with a defensive 50 intercept mark over the back in the third term, and Cassar went on to accumulate many of his team-high 22 disposals in a more influential second half.

#24 Josh Honey

Was far and away the Jets’ best player for mine, building in confidence as the game went on and causing headaches with his explosiveness from midfield. Honey’s aggression going both ways went a ways to setting the tone for his side, and his willingness to get on the move at every opportunity was a key part of Western’s promising start. Time and time again, Honey broke away from congestion with pure speed and strength, burning opponents with ease and pumping the ball forward. His aggression translated to a bit of niggle and a particularly strong tackle on Sam Philp in the second term, and Honey had an eye-catching three-bounce run later on. Has some terrific traits, just needs to find consistency and eliminate his down games.

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Is really coming into his own as a more permanent small forward, bouncing back to form with his second four-goal haul for the year. D’Intinosante broke the game open in the second term, booting three goals in quick succession early in the piece to get Northern well on top and build the game-defining margin. His first goal came off the back of some great pressure, snapping up the resultant turnover and slamming the ball home. His second goal came a bit easier as he was found over the back in the goalsquare, but he produced another fine bit of work with his third goal from a shrewd front and centre take off hands. D’Intinosante went on to add his fourth with a nicely hit set shot in the third term, and was dangerous throughout with his work deep in the forward half.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner recovered from a couple of shaky moments early on, winning a good amount of ball on the outer and providing neat use by foot going forward. Rotating between the wing and half forward, Gardner was terrific in the middle period of the game with clearing balls forward and a nice goal assist to Nikolas Cox. He continually got the ball in good areas and booted inside 50, getting involved as the Jets looked to mount a comeback. Finds space well but can also get to work on both sides of the stoppages.

#8 Adam Carafa

It was a pretty typical outing from Carafa, who accumulated his possessions at the coalface and flicked out well to his runners with 17 handballs from 23 disposals. He first caught the eye with a well weighted kick though, finding Josh D’Intinosante through the corridor with little fuss. While he is a touch fumbly in collecting the loose ball on occasion, Carafa proved his poise in possession with a couple of classy one-on-one wins in space and had the presence of mind to step around oncoming opponents. Will enjoy playing mostly through the middle having been used up either end throughout the last two years at representative level.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Was arguably a very, very close second for best afield on the back of some fantastic aerial efforts. Starting the game at centre-half-back, Sturgess was his reliable self as he acted as an outlet and intercepter across defensive 50. His flying speckie from behind in the second term was a sign of things to come as Sturgess continued to fly confidently over opponents after half time. His courage in hitting the ball hard and plowing through anyone in the way was great to see, leading up and crashing the packs. Sturgess’ whopping 13 marks really showcased the best of the National Combine invitee, and he almost finished with another highlight as he narrowly missed a long-range attempt in the fourth quarter.

#14 Josh Watson

Was named best afield for the Knights and rightly so having made an electric start to the game. Watson did some great work up the ground at the stoppages, snapping the ball up cleanly and breaking away with speed and pumping the ball inside 50 on his left side. His use by foot was often a weapon, finding good range and looking for his tall leading targets – even if he could have lowered his eyes on a few occasions. Was a relative unknown coming into just his fifth game, but the bottom ager certainly captured some attention.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Is such an exciting prospect on athleticism and versatility alone, doing some nice work up either end as more of a key position option. Cox’s leap and clean hands on both levels were exceptional, making him a threat no matter what kind of delivery he was given. He hit the scoreboard early on the back of a 50m penalty and would later add a second with an outstanding wheeling goal in the following term from on the arc to show his true capabilities. Cox was thrown down back to finish the game and was good with his positioning, contesting Western’s forward forays and rebounding to good effect.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

Is just a consistent performer in the back half, doing the defensive things well and working hard to become relevant when exiting the arc. Macpherson racked up a fair chunk of the ball in the first term as Northern played a more high-possession and slow defensive game, but had more important touches later on under heat. Is usually a sound short kick and has good awareness in knowing when to release, while also proving solid in mopping up one-on-one ground balls.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Was one who really lifted when the game was on the line, often found at the bottom of packs and extracting from the stoppages as he has done more often since the national carnival. Mott just always found a way to will the ball forward, getting out the back of a few stoppages and booting long while wheeling away from the traffic. He made a more typical play in the third term with a neat goal assist kick to Jake Sutton, but was sometimes a touch more rushed in possession. Will thrive off receiving more ball on the outside at the next level when not acting as the number one ball winner.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Started brightly with a goal in the first term and found a lot of his possessions going forward, proving dangerous when in full flight. While he can sure up his short-range kicking at times, Cardillo made a couple of neat plays in-tight when keeping his hands free and shifting to release around opponents, while also getting good penetration with longer kicks going inside 50. Clunked a really strong mark from behind in the third term and came off worse for wear, but that kind of attack is just part of his game.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Again proved industrious going both ways in midfield, wheeling away to boot forward clearing kicks and tackling hard when not in possession. His chase to catch an opponent hold the ball in the second term was exceptional and he went on to lay a few more hard tackles at stoppages. Ramsay had a long range snap touched on the line in the final term which could have been a deciding factor, but otherwise made his impact around the ball.

#21 Harrison Jones

Moves so well for his size and was prominent in the air in patches, showing good courage going back and hitting up strongly on the lead at full stretch. Jones found the goals early with a set shot conversion, while assisting for Jake Sutton in the second term and later missing a chance for his second major after marking well one-on-one. Has great potential and favourable traits, but is yet to truly rip a game apart.

#38 Brodie Newman

Had a couple of tricky matchups down back, being held accountable by Eastern’s dangerous talls while still trying to get some rebounding drive going. Newman was caught out a couple of times biting off too much in possession, but looked more assured as the game went on with quicker disposals and some smart decisions. He took a strong pack mark in the second term and looked safe on the last line as the game heated up. A solid game without being exceptional.

Eastern:

#7 Lachie Stapleton

Was his usual productive self through midfield, repeatedly getting to the drop of the ball and sweeping up the loose ball. Stapleton’s short game was neat and he often used it after breaking well from congestion where he read the taps from both rucks. He moved forward to good effect, intercepting inside 50 in the second term and putting through the set shot, and later capping his game with a beautiful finish on the run to level the scores in the final term. Stapleton also got stuck in with his tackles, laying a couple on the end of persistent chases early on and rising to the occasion as the game tightened up.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Another of Eastern’s diminutive midfielders who just always puts in the work and sets the tone for his side. Mellis constantly looked to get on the move in possession, using his speed and agility to break free. His repeat running was a feature, dishing the ball out to runners and going on to get it back up the field to continue the Ranges’ forward forays. He contributed a handy goal assist to Ben Hickleton in the final term when the pressure was on, adding to his ball winning feats.

#18 Billy McCormack

The Eastern big man was used in a different role this time around, tried up the other end as a key defender. His positioning was sound, often getting to long balls into defensive 50 and plucking the ball with ease. He made some good reads out the back when others were sucked into the ball and also affected some long rebounding kicks. McCormack finished the game up forward where he had less of an impact, but was still solid.

#20 Connor Downie

The hero of the day, Downie had a slightly more patchy game in the build up to his match winning goal. He started with some dangerous accumulation around half-forward, missing a quickfire long-range shot on goal in the first term and having another go out on the full. He sharpened up after the main break, becoming the chain on the outside we have come to expect while still going forward well. His moment in the sun came on the back of staying with the play and laying a strong tackle to force the spillage and deciding free kick, converting cooly after the siren.

#23 Zak Pretty

Compliments his midfield partners so well and while he is slightly less heralded, Pretty is clever in congestion and does things you have to look closely to see. He kicked off his game with the very first clearance and a few hacked kicks forward, but looked a lot better when propping in possession and releasing drawing handballs out with good vision and execution. Pretty’s ability to hand out to a voice was also noticeable and was more than handy as the game became more contested.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old is really coming on quickly and racked up 17 disposals in this game, spending time up forward and through the midfield. He was a good link going forward and penetrated both arcs, having his most important one in the final term and Eastern broke inside 50 for the game winning play. He missed a couple of tough chances on goal but is usually pretty clinical around the big sticks. Has plenty of potential, and could be a wildcard for the Ranges heading into finals a-la Jaidyn Stephenson a few years ago.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

What a handy addition to the Sandringham side Chirgwin has been after a long injury layoff, putting in the hard yards through midfield and providing a great point of difference. A lot of his work was done on the inside in a more unheralded role, digging in at the stoppages going both ways to prize a team-high 30 disposals and lay seven tackles. His handballs from in-close under tackling pressure worked well, and his cleanliness by hand translated to overhead marking as he pulled down a couple of important ones in the thick of the action. Lifted when the game was on the line and he will be important in the crunch finals moments.

#4 Finn Maginness

Arguably the Dragons player who stood up most in the final term and tried to will his side over the line, making an impact through the midfield and booting three clutch goals – including two at the start of the fourth quarter. His first goal came all the way back in the first term with a straightforward conversion from close range, and while he was a touch quiet after that, Maginness popped up with a couple of strong marks and bustling bursts through the corridor. His second goal came from a lovely snap and wheeling finish, with his third another set shot inside 50. Still has some improvement left in him, which makes him all the more valuable as a prospect.

#6 Miles Bergman

A player who does not have many touches but has truly important ones, which was the case again in this game. His overhead marking was again strong, starting with one in the first term while also mopping up below his knees around the ground well. Kicking remains an areas of improvement for Bergman despite all of his eye-catching traits, turning the ball over going inside 50 on two occasions going inside 50 and rushing a touch when throwing it on his boot. Is still very promising and found the goals as he usually does with a free kick in the second term.

#13 Louis Butler

Was his usual self in the back half, getting to an absolute raft of contests across the defensive arc and providing his trademark rebound. He was another who was sometimes rushed on the ball when going long or clearing his lines, but worked into that area as he accumulated across the day. He took an important overhead mark in the corridor with pressure on in the final term and intercepted inside defensive 50 in the same term to show the kind of impact he can have.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Again won a heap of ball on the outside and worked so well between the arcs, linking the play and providing an outlet from tight spaces. The over-ager’s short kicking and work along the line was sound, and he began to have more of an impact on the game with his drifting runs forward. Both of his goals came in the second half; the first was a classy snap as the ball dropped inside 50, and the second came after again finding space inside 50 to mark and boot home the set shot.

#45 Archie Perkins

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going. Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals. His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

It was a real captain’s effort from Bianco, who was influential in the closing stages to cap off a solid outing. Assuming his familiar role off half-back, Bianco started with a few receives on the back and outside of the centre bounces, using his trademark pace to accelerate away from congestion and get the Chargers going forward. The look of his weaving runs along the outer are pretty unique to Bianco, always looking for holes to run into and the best options up the ground. He put in an important touch up on the wing to spark the chain for one of Noah Anderson’s fourth quarter goals, and just has so much class.

#8 Noah Anderson

Was an out and out match winner for Oakleigh, lifting for a mammoth final quarter effort where he booted two of the final three goals – including the one to put his side in front. Earlier, Anderson began up forward and worked up the ground well, proving impossible to tackle when on the move forward and having a couple of tight shies on goal. Anderson’s combination of bursts and baulks was outstanding, allowing him to find the space to deliver effectively by foot. His final quarter consisted of a goal assist to Fraser Elliot, an intercept mark and goal from the shot, and his third goal shortly after from a strong bit of play as he snapped the ball home. He is just such an impact player, able to tear the game to shreds either up forward or through midfield.

#11 Matt Rowell

What more is there to say about Rowell; he is just so consistent and seldom puts a foot wrong, while also displaying just about every desirable trait in a midfield prospect. His wheeling runs and arching back saw the commentary team reach full voice, extracting a game-high 34 disposals in a permanent midfield game and using the ball brilliantly going forward. Rowell looked on early as he hit up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for Oakleigh’s first goal, later providing another for Finlay Macrae on the back of a centre bounce clearance. He seemed tireless when working through midfield, willing himself to the ball at stoppages and showing good vision with his handballs out. Rowell’s overhead marking was also prominent, backing back with courage and proving safe with his hands. Just as much of a game winner as his highly credentialed mate, Noah Anderson, and has an influence throughout each game.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

It was another eye-catching display from the highlight reel forward, making the most of his few possessions to prove a menace up forward with four high quality goals. His hands overhead are so strong, helping him to hold onto a mark for his first goal in the square and another in the opening term. His highlight for the game came in the following quarter as the ball sat up perfectly for him to rise above two opponents and clunk a sensational mark inside 50, which led to a third goal. The Bulldogs NGA member has rare athleticism for a tall, making him such a difficult match up as he covers the ground well but also towers above defenders with his leap. His fourth goal was another beauty, stealing the ball inside 50 and propping before deciding to go for goal himself and slamming the ball home. Just does the mercurial every game and hardly misses a chance, unbelievable talent.

#29 Finlay Macrae

Is coming into a nice patch of form, looking comfortable among some of the best top-age ball winners to find plenty of the pill. His class on the ball is obvious, finding it in all areas and using it effectively with polished kicks. He also gets forward well and found the goals again in this game with a nice finish during Oakleigh’s final quarter onslaught. Will be a leading candidate heading into 2020.

#73 Cooper Sharman

It was not Sharman’s biggest game considering the lofty standard he has set thus far in Chargers colours, but he still managed to pitch in with a few exciting touches. He covered the ground well and worked up to half forward to provide an option, while knowing when to stay forward and get onto the long entry. His second term was his most busy, hitting the post from a near impossible soccer attempt and later finding the mark beautifully after taking a grab at full stretch. Added a second goal in the final term, which was the last for the match, to seal the win.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams

#1 Sam Conforti

The powerful small midfielder provided fierce tackling pressure from the first bounce and also had a number of deft touches, kicking inside 50 perfectly to the leading Thomson Dow. He did it again later in the game, hitting up Seamus Mitchell inside 50 and showed strength in contested situations. He intercepted a Brock Smith kick at half-forward at one stage and played on to kick inside 50 but it fell short just bouncing through for a behind.

#4 Thomson Dow

Had a really busy opening term where he put through an early goal after some nice leading inside 50 and his subsequent set shot from 40m out on a 45-degree angle. He showed off his one-touch ability, clean in the conditions and did a nice move under pressure in the second term where he went one way, was corralled so calmly changed directions and hit his target. Dow had a quieter third term before picking up again in the last term at both ends. He took a terrific mark inside 50 but his set shot missed to the right and fell short but it was kept in play for Jack Ginnivan to snap truly. Then he was seen down in defence showing good composure with ball-in-hand under pressure, and took a great contested mark in the forward half.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Gets involved around the ground and does more than just the usual ruck role. He showed good hands at ground level and was not afraid to get down and do the ground work as well as the aerial stuff. He used terrific bodywork inside 50 in the second term for Jack Ginnivan to swoop in and dribble a goal, then took a good contested mark at half-forward and continued to present as an option across the ground.

#19 Ben Worme

Started the game on the right note with great vision and a nice kick to hit-up Jack Ginnivan inside 50. He had a flying shot on goal himself but went to the right, and then went into the middle and continued to look busy. He was really solid across the four quarters with the one question mark coming around the urgency to move the ball as he looked a tad too casual late in the game where he had time to dispose of it but waited and his kick was smothered deep in defence.

#20 James Schischka

Was rock solid in defence, particularly in the first half before being sent forward. He repelled opposition attacks and then when he went forward looked to be an option. He had a shot on goal from the boundary line but shanked it out on the full, then set up a goal to Josh Treacy the next quarter with a low bullet inside 50. Schischka went back into defence late and took a courageous mark in front of Josh Smith floating back into defence and then took an important grab in the back 50 to settle the side down late in the match.

#22 Josh Treacy

The bottom-age key forward showed some good signs from limited opportunities taking a strong one-on-one mark against Tye Hourigan in the third term only to hit the post from the set shot. He converted later in the quarter courtesy of a long-range bomb from 50m and put his side back up by a point nearing the final break. His body work against more experienced defenders was really strong and he almost handed a teammate a goal with a handball in the square after good bodywork but the teammate fumbled and the Power defenders cleared it.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Played a typical small forward’s role, always looking dangerous at ground level and taking his opportunities when presented. He showed quick hands at ground level and pounced on a couple of goals in the game, including a loose ball in the second quarter when he dribbled one home close to goal. He converted his second major in the last term, pouncing on a loose ball after Thomson Dow’s set shot fell short and stayed in, with Ginnivan snapping around his body.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles was one of Bendigo’s best in the win, having a number of crucial rebounds and being a rock in defence when Gippsland was furiously attacking. He continually looked to run and carry down the ground, using the ball well and making good decisions by hand or foot. Not a huge accumulator of the ball, Rowles is noticeable with his ball use because he does not waste a lot of touches and has a high impact per possession.

#51 Seamus Mitchell

The bottom-age talent showed some nice traits inside 50 with smarts and speed providing a good combination and a danger at ground level. He kicked a goal from a down-field free kick in the first term, and then showed off his great burst speed in the final term to create separation going forward and boot a goal on the run with a low kicking action to put the Pioneers 12 points up. He had a chance in the third term for another major but the set shot from 35m out in the pocket held up in the breeze and went to the left.

Gippsland:

#1 Ryan Angwin

The bottom-ager played a really solid game through the midfield roaming up the wings and using neat skills to dispose of the ball. A lightly-framed player, he took a good intercept mark at half-back in the first term, played on to give it to Sam Berry and then received it back on the wing with hard running. Angwin showed classy around the stoppages and did not panic with ball-in-hand.

#4 Sam Flanders

Did not have his best game, but stood up through the middle patches to have some important touches in close. His first quarter saw opponents working him over and causing a reaction which resulted in a couple of free kicks leading to goals – one pushing over an opponent at a stoppage and one down-field – before coming out in the second term to deliver a major of his own early. He showed great courage flying for an intercept mark, not taking it but copping contact. His hands in close were elite and picked the right exit to dispose of the ball cleanly, and showed great bodywork in the third term to bump an opponent off the ball and give it to Josh Smith to kick forward.

#6 Riley Baldi

Best on ground and was the difference between the teams, continuing his good form this season. He converted a couple of goals and was a four quarter performer which was difficult in the conditions. He had the first clearance of the game, and had the ball on a string early, marking from a lead and converted a set shot from 35m out. He kicked his second from 40m out in the second term, also applying good defensive pressure, winning a free kick in the middle for restricting Thomson Dow from finding a way out of the stoppage. He handed a goal off to Fraser Phillips in the third term after poor checking from Pioneers defenders with the natural left footer converting the goal with an easy snap. Baldi had a chance to make it three goals, but his flying shot on goal just bounced the wrong side of the post for one behind.

#7 Sam Berry

The bottom-age midfielder provided a number of highlights in the game, able to gain separation from his opponents in midfield and hit targets forward of centre. He created a goal for Riley Baldi kicking well inside 50, and then showed off his lovely left foot again, playing on to hit-up another target later in the game inside 50. He ran hard throughout and took a courageous mark back with the flight early in the third term.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided some important run and carry for Gippsland throughout the match, and tried to break the lines by running down the middle. He took the game on in the second term with a number of bounces, avoiding opposition players along the way. With time and space Connolly’s disposal was very good, but he did get rushed on a few occasions. He worked hard throughout the game on his way to a really solid contribution.

#17 Charlie Comben

Provided a fierce attack on the ball and whilst the conditions did not suit the taller marking players, still crashed packs and provided the target inside 50. He took a towering mark in the goalsquare in the second term back with the flight and his set shot on an angle went straight through. Unfortunately he missed a couple of chances later in the game, not able to connect cleanly with a dribble attempt in the third term, rolling through for a behind, and then having a mongrel set shot attempt which also went through for a behind. Contributed well throughout with his body work and presence at congested areas.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Started slowly but worked into the game to end up with two goals from five scoring shots as well as finding plenty of the footy roaming up the ground and providing an option. He assisted Ryan Sparkes in getting a goal in the second term with a nice kick inside 50, and managed to snap his first goal thanks to loose checking from the Pioneers defenders later in the third term, receiving the quick handball from Riley Baldi near the boundary and snapping on his left. He kicked his second after the final siren, chewing up the remaining time on the clock to give the Power the win by 10 poitns. He could have finished with a big bag had he converted a few more of his chances, but got amongst it and always looked busy.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

Played through the middle and had a four quarter performance with his ability to create plays up the ground and do the tough work in the middle as well as get free to keep the ball moving in transition. He placed a kick inside 50 to Charlie Sprague early in the game and the created his own chance shortly after, with the ball touched by an opposition before he could mark it, but he showed clean hands to recover, turn around and snap around his body for a goal. His highlight passage of play was a run down the middle of the ground in the third term to set up a goal.

#12 Noah Gribble

Showed composure at both ends, winning the ball in defence then going forward and had a shot on goal late in the first quarter from a stoppage but put it to the left. A second shot shortly after from a set shot also drifted to the left, but did his best work in close. He had clean and quick hands in close, and won his fair share of the football, covering the ground well and providing an option in defence including marking from a kickout.

#15 Tanner Bruhn

Returning from a long-term injury, Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half, booting a couple of goals and could have had another one early in the game with the set shot that swung to the right from 35 metres out. He snapped a goal off a step in the last minute of the opening term, then kicked an unbelievable goal in the third term, taking a step of two and snapping under pressure from 40m out to put it straight through the middle. He had nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.

#32 Noah Gadsby

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and kept presenting along the wing. Gadsby was able to complement the rest of the midfield and had his fair share of the ball at the same time, pushing up and trying to create some run in wet conditions.

#37 Oliver Henry

After spending time in defence in recent weeks, the medium-sized utility was back inside 50 and showed off his talent when it comes to providing a target leading out. He had great hands overhead to continually remained involved in the contest, presenting at marking opportunities. He took an intercept mark early in the match but rushed his kick and it was smothered. Henry lead long up the wing to win a number of touches up the ground, but also crashed a pack in the second term and gave it off quickly to keep it moving. He did err late in the quarter opting for a quick snap rather than giving the hands off to Charlie Sprague who was free nearby. He converted a set shot after being held midway through the third term and did have the two from the game, also setting up Sprague for his fourth after wrestling the ball from two opponents and giving it over to his teammate.

#40 Jesse Clark

Just a rock in defence and had a really influential first term, before not having a great deal of work to do after that. He still remained steadfast across the remaining three quarters, but kept the Falcons moving by taking a number of intercept marks in the back 50, then clearing the danger and getting it to a teammate by switching or hitting up a short target on the wing. Lead the team well and will hope to continue the form next week against a talented Sandringham Dragons’ forward line.

#46 Henry Walsh

Performed well in the ruck against a more mobile ruck in Bigoa Nyoun, but positioned himself impressively at stoppages. Can leap high and took a strong mark in the second term before kicking long down the line. He hit the scoreboard after receiving a free kick and a 50m penalty, lining up from straight in front early in the third term and putting it through the middle. Laid a couple of good tackles defensively to work hard that way as well.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Played a bit of everywhere in the match and could not fault his effort. The potential top five pick was winning touches around the ground early starting on a wing before playing exclusively forward in the second term. He lead out of attack and presented on a number of opportunities but was well worn by opposition defenders. He moved back into defence in the third term to try and stem the flow of goals, creating run and carry off half-back but was caught once and dispossessed. He still remained a calm and composed leader, never giving in despite the mounting opposition scoreline and was able to hit-up a target on the wing with a lovely kick out of defence having to negotiate three opposition players and remaining calm to think his way through the situation.

#11 Ned Cahill

Not his biggest game playing through the midfield, but still had a number of nice moments. He showed off his agility early with Cahill turning on a dime after winning the ball at half-back and sidestepping a couple of opponents to kick long down the wing. He was able to win an important clearance midway through the second term, and used the ball well under pressure to hook a kick and hit-up Bigoa Nyuon inside 50 in the opening quarter.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The athletic ruck showed good positioning in the marking contest and gave Jack Toner an opportunity for a goal in the first quarter but he missed the set shot, but created another opportunity not long after with the smarts to intercept a pass in attacking 50, and start a chain of handballs leading to a Jordan Andrews snap goal. Nyuon also took a strong grab later in the game in defence helping out.

#47 Will Bravo

The bottom-age prospect had some nice plays, showing his quick sidestep to evade a couple of players and snap around his body to Hayden Young’s advantage early in the game. He kicked a vital goal from a set shot midway through the second term, and had a chance for another goal but his quick snap was marked by opposition defenders just out from goal.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Had a quieter first three quarters, though did take a terrific contested mark at half-back and received a 50m penalty for an opponent infringing the mark. Once the fourth term rolled around, Williams lit it up, booting three consecutive goals, albeit at a stage when the game seemed done and dusted, though his set shot routine was consistent. He booted all three to cut the deficit from 50 to 32 points in the space of 15 minutes and show what he is capable of in a quarter of football.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony did not have the biggest game on the stats sheet, but most of his touches were in the forward half with attempts on goal. Unfortunately the wet weather wrecked havoc for his goalkicking as the talented mid/forward booted three behinds, two of which came from flying shots on goal in the first and third terms, and a third miss from a set shot. Continued to present inside 50 and was really good defensively, locking the ball up in terrible conditions and keeping the ball in the Rebels’ forward half.

#6 Jack Tillig

Had the ball on a string early in the game running off half-back and through the middle, winning an impressive one-on-one against the much taller Will Christie, and remained busy when linking up in transition. Later in the game Tillig drifted back to take a strong intercept mark in the defensive 50 hole. An impressive game from the bottom-ager.

#7 Mitch Martin

Played nearly exclusively forward and managed to capitalise with three majors in a day that was difficult to kick them with the wet ball. He started with a behind from a tight angle in the opening term, and a second snap shortly after went out of bounds. He kicked with first goal late in the second term with time ticking down, and almost had a second when he got taken high close to the boundary 35m out on a set shot but it fell just short in the square. He was the beneficiary of a free kick 30m out straight in front for the density ruling late in the quarter as the siren sounded to kick his second. Late in the final term he kicked his third from a great snap and then shortly after fended off an opponent and kept the ball moving with quick hands to Jack Tillig. Finished the game with three goals from six shots so could have had a massive day in the wet.

#13 Jay Rantall

Had a really quiet first term notching up just one touch and had six by half-time before getting into his usual groove and just outrunning everyone. He had a couple of nice clearances and won a free kick early in the fourth term, delivered to a teammate then ran hard to receive a handball from the receiver of his kick and go forward. Finished with a solid 20-odd touches to restore the status quo, but his defensive work was what stood out with numerous tackles time and time again and leading the way in that department with his attitude and attack on the ball and ball carrier.

#43 Charlie Molan

The Vic Country Under 16s representative stepped up from his debut last week to have a real impact in the conditions. He played along a wing and also went in and won his own ball to be one of the more prominent four quarter performers for the winners. He pushed hard and kept it moving in transition and got back in defence to help out and clear the danger.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Did not have as many touches as some others, but the Under 16s midfielder was noticeable every time he went near it. Apart from the colourful boots, Hobbs showed clean hands in the wet and continually picked the right option when handballing to a teammate on the outside to set up scoring opportunities. Took a good intercept mark at half-forward early, and then read the ruck stoppage perfectly in the second term to win the ball on the outside and bend it around his body for a goal midway through the second term. He had another flying shot at goal in the third term but it went out on the full, then set up Matty Lloyd with a lovely lace-out pass inside 50. Had a quieter second half but remained involved with moments like that.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Did not have a huge game but kick-started the Rebels with the opening goal of the game with a strong one-on-one mark deep in attack off the first clearance and inside 50. Rentsch converted the set shot to ensure he got on the goalkickers list and while he did not add to the total, still provided a target inside 50. He showed clean hands in the forward 50 and intercepted a ball in that first term and delivered to Mitch Martin deep in the pocket.

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Spent most of his time in the forward half to show off the running defender’s versatility. He had a quiet first term with just the two touches and having to push up the ground, but soon showed his composure and leadership in the wet. He stood up and got his hands away in a tackle early, then intercepted a Matty Lloyd rebound with a good mark at half-forward before moving to the goalsquare where he rotated with Jimmy Boyer between there and the midfield. Ash almost kicked a goal from 60m with the wind carrying it past the pack of players in that second term, but the ball bounced through for a behind. He also had a great kick under pressure to hit-up a target at half-forward, always vocal and leading his side throughout the four quarters.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Enjoyed the conditions and was one of Murray’s best again in the middle, shovelling the ball out and getting his hands dirty – both figuratively and literally. He read the ruck taps well and kicked inside 50 and keep the pressure on teh opposition defenders and tried to run and carry as best he could on the slippery ground surface. He won a free kick 40m out for a tackle on an opposition player forcing him to throw it out, but Chalcraft’s set shot was touched on the line and went into the post. He put in one of his better four quarter performances to have another 20-plus disposals, working hard across the ground and taking a mark from a kickout in defence such was his ground coverage.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Set the tone defensively with a magnificent front-on tackle on Toby Mahony to bring him to ground early in the game and rotated between midfield and forward. He got involved more as the game went on and was able to pump the ball inside 50 a few times, but his defensive work was the highlight, laying tackle after tackle which was crucial in Murray staying in the contest. He kicked a late consolation goal on the run thanks to his hard running with less than five minutes to go in the game.

#25 Liam Fiore

Had a really big first term driving the ball out of the back 50 and still did some nice things after that. He takes the game on and is willing to risk it by running down the middle and breaking the lines. He used the ball well and always looked for switching play to find the open player on the outside. Played deeper in defence as the game went on but did well one-on-one.

#26 Sam Durham

Found the ball in all thirds of the ground, firing out handballs from in close, sliding in for a great mark at half-back and pumping a long kick inside 50 as part of a big first term. He continued to win the ball and get it moving forward in transition by picking up touches on the wing or at stoppages and getting it to the danger zone inside forward 50. Durham also provided some good defensive pressure with a number of tackles.

#31 Josh Rachele

The Under 16s forward was not to be outdone by his Vic Country teammates on the Rebels’ side, pushing up the ground to win the ball when required, and being an option inside 50 at times as well. He played to the conditions, often bombing it long to try and gain distance, showing off a quick release by hand in the fourth term to give a running teammate a shot on goal.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

The bottom-age forward showed a number of impressive traits playing exclusively inside 50, having Murray’s first set shot from 50m out on a slight angle but it just fell short and was rushed through. It happened again late in the game with the ball punched through for a rushed behind up the other end, while his goal came from general play in the second term, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping around his body to put Murray in front. He tried to be too inventive at one stage, kicking the ball off the ground but it went out on the full. Got talent to work with, it will just be a case of building on the consistency and lowering the eyes at times.

NAB League Boys Round 17 wash-up: Chargers snatch finals spot in thriller

THE NAB League Boys regular season came to a close on the weekend with a pair of triple-headers, finalising the all-important automatic finals qualifiers and Wildcard Round fixtures. There were plenty of standouts across the six games despite indifferent conditions, with the Oakleigh-Sandringham game living up to the pre-game hype.

WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.9 | 4.12 (36)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:
Western – A. Manton 3, A. Clarke
Northern – J. D’Intinosante 4, N. Cox 2, J. Watson, J. Lucente, S. House, J. Boyd

BEST:
Western – L. Rocci, J. Honey, D. Bolkas, C. Raak, L. Failli, J. Kellett
Northern – J. Watson, R. Sturgess, N. Cox, J. Boyd, A. Carafa, J. D’Intinosante

By: Michael Alvaro

A sense of redemption was achieved by the Northern Knights on Saturday as they got one back over the Western Jets with a 32-point win at Avalon Airport Oval. The win sees the Knights jump their opponents into sixth place on the back of superior percentage, making it that little bit sweeter on top of redeeming a Round 1 loss to the Jets. After a relatively steady opening term where Western arguably had the better of general play, Northern sprung to life with an explosive six-goal to nil second quarter to set up the win. The Knights’ dare and transition from a high-possession defensive game helped them dominate the scoreboard during middle-period of the game, rapidly building the game-defining margin. Josh D’Intinosante played a big part in that, snaring three goals in quick succession at the start of the term to break the game open. Two late goals as the heat simmered proved consolations for the Jets, who have now lost their last three games. Strong stay-at-home forward Archi Manton had all of Western’s goals for over three quarters and was the sole threat inside 50, finishing with 3.2 from seven disposals and five marks. Josh Honey (18 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s) was also terrific for the Jets with his burst from congestion, with the likes of Darcy Cassar (22 disposals, four marks) and Lucas Rocci (20 disposals, five rebounds) also standing up. But it was Northern bottom-ager Josh Watson who was best afield in a breakout game, collecting 21 disposals, four marks and booting a lovely goal. Adam Carafa led the disposal count with 23 and a lot of work in-close, while Ryan Sturgess (21 disposals, 13 marks) was terrific in the air at both ends and D’Intinosante finished with 4.2 from 13 disposals and six marks. The result now sees Northern host Bendigo in Wildcard Round, while Western will face the Knights’ 2018 Wildcard nemesis, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) next week.

CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 4.1 | 7.6 | 9.9 (63)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:
Calder – J. Sutton 3, M. Fletcher 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, J. O”Sullivan, H. Jones
Eastern – B. Hickleton 2, L. Stapleton 2, J. Rossiter, C. Downie, L. Gawel, R. Smith, J. Jaworski, M. Zalac

BEST:
Calder – D. Mott, S. Ramsay, J. Sutton, G. Thomas, J. Cardillo, M. Fletcher
Eastern – L. Stapleton, J. Ross, Z. Pretty, M. Mellis, R. Smith, M. Zalac

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges snatched a dramatic after-the-siren win over Calder on Saturday to finish the regular season a game clear on top of the ladder. Bottom-age gun Connor Downie proved the hero, slotting home cooly with his twelfth disposal after earning a 50/50 incorrect disposal free kick with just seconds left. Earlier, the Cannons chipped away well to earn leads at two of the first three breaks and looked to have done enough to hold off the Ranges, with Mason Fletcher converting as time ticked away. But in the last roll of the dice play at the end of an action-packed final minute, the Ranges broke forward quickly and created the all-important scramble inside 50 to come up trumps through Downie. The diminutive Eastern midfield trio of Mitch Mellis (26 disposals), Zak Pretty (24) and Lachie Stapleton (23, two goals) was arguably led by the latter in a typically workmanlike display through the engine room, while 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie was also influential moving forward with his 17 touches and two minor scores. For the unlucky losers, Daniel Mott was very nearly a match-winner as he lifted late through midfield to prize a bunch of clearances among his 21 disposals and six inside 50s. State combine invitee Sam Ramsay led the disposal count with 27, while Ned Gentile (20 disposals, 0.3) had some nice moments and Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals. The result had little bearing on the final ladder and looked to prove as much in the build-up, with results at the other end of the ladder poising Calder against Tasmania in Wildcard Round while Eastern can enjoy a week off.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.6 (84)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 | 14.7 (91)

GOALS:
Sandringham – F. Maginness 3, A. Perkins 3, K. Yorke 2, A. Hanrahan 2, N. Burke, M. Bergman, C. Dean
Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan 4, N. Anderson 3, C. Sharman 2, F. Elliot, C. Stone, R. McInnes, F. Macrae, N. Stathopoulos

BEST:
Sandringham – C. Watts, F. Maginness, J. Bell, N. Burke, K. Yorke, J. Voss
Oakleigh – M. Rowell, N. Anderson, R. Valentine, J. Ugle-Hagan, J. Lucas, V. Zagari

By: Michael Alvaro

Pure star power dragged the Oakleigh Chargers over the line and into third place with an incredible seven-point come-from-behind win over Sandringham Dragons in the thick of what was a finals-like atmosphere. After the Dragons looked to have sealed the game with three goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter, a Noah Anderson-inspired Oakleigh hit back in style with four majors in the following five minutes, and ended with the last six of the game altogether to snatch victory. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout the game and looked like getting on top on numerous occasions, but Oakleigh’s final thrust came at the ideal time as they charged home to claim the remarkable win. Anderson’s game-winning 24 disposals and three goals were arguably matched for importance by the efforts of Matt Rowell (34 disposals, seven tackles) – who hardly put a foot wrong – and skipper Trent Bianco (28 disposals). The high-marking forward duo of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Cooper Sharman also shone, combining for six goals and a couple of highlight reel moments. For the Dragons, Finn Maginness did his level best to drag his side over the line with 17 disposals and three goals, with Darcy Chirgwin (30 disposals, seven tackles) doing the tough stuff through midfield and Angus Hanrahan influential on the outside (23 disposals, two goals). Bottom-ager Archie Perkins was another to impress with his three goals from 11 disposals, while Corey Watts put in a mammoth effort in defence with 12 disposals, six marks and seven rebound 50s. With an absolute raft of combine invitees and representative players taking the field, it was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent memory and truly lived up to the pre-game hype as a number of top-end stars stood up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 9.9 (63)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 5.4 | 6.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:
Bendigo – R. Wilson 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Mitchell 2, J. Treacy, N. Walsh, T. Dow
Gippsland – M. McGarrity 2, F. Phillips 2, R. Baldi 2, C. Comben, S. Flanders, T. Hourigan, R. Sparkes

BEST:
Bendigo – R. Wilson, B. Rowles, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Ginnivan, B. Worme
Gippsland – R. Baldi, T. Hourigan, F. Phillips, R. Sparkes, L. Connolly, R. Angwin

By: Peter Williams

In a day of upsets, Bendigo Pioneers almost set the tone with an impressive performance against top two side, Gippsland Power. The Pioneers regained a number of players back to the line-up, including Thomson Dow who returned from school football, but were missing the injured Brodie Kemp. Despite Caleb Serong being the only key omission from the premiership contending Power, the Pioneers jumped them in the first quarter to boot three goals to one, two of which came from free kicks and another from a turnover as the home side looked to be disciplined on the day. With Bendigo booting the first goal of the second term, it looked like the Pioneers might start to run away with it, before Gippsland piled on five of the next seven over the two quarters to keep within a point at both breaks. The last quarter was topsy turvy with lead changes galore, and it took until Fraser Phillips‘ goal after the siren to relieve the nerves of the Power supporters. Riley Baldi was the clear standout performer from the Power, booting two goals and could have had a third to go with his 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and seven tackles, while Tye Hourigan was good in defence before kicking what almost looked like the winning goal late, in attack. He had 20 disposals, 11 marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal on the day. Leo Connolly (22 disposals, seven marks) and Phillips (2.3 from 19 disposals and four marks) also showed signs. For the Pioneers, Dow showed his class in patches with 24 disposals, six marks and a goal, while Ben Worme (21 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and four rebounds), Riley Ironside (26 disposals, six marks, five rebounds and three tackles) and Riley Wilson (21 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and two goals) were the Pioneers’ best.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.5 | 8.7 | 14.8 | 15.9 (99)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.3 | 3.9 | 5.12 | 9.14 (68)

GOALS:
Geelong – C. Sprague 6, O. Henry 2, T. Bruhn 2, C. Lazzaro, K. Skene, C. Karpala, H. Walsh, S. Fonseca-Hateley
Dandenong – L. Williams 3, J. Toner, N. Heath, J. Andrews, W. Howe, W. Lewis, W. Bravo

BEST:
Geelong – C. Sprague, T. Bruhn, H. Walsh, C. Lazzaro, J. Dahlhaus, K. Rayner
Dandenong – W. Bravo, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, L. Scott, J. Toner, B. Kuipers

By: Peter Williams

In what was clearly Geelong’s best performance of the season, the 2019 wooden spooners showed they might just have life in their season yet with a strong 31-point win over Dandenong Stingrays. While the Falcons have to contend with the star-studded Sandringham Dragons this weekend, they played a commanding three quarters against the Stingrays before Dandenong booted four of the five last goals to cut the deficit back to a reasonable margin. The Falcons had some troubles with accuracy early, while the Stingrays found the same issues in the second term, booting 1.6 to the Falcons’ 5.2 to ultimately be the difference with Geelong heading into the main break 28 points in front. They did not stop there however, as the Falcons added another six goals to the Stingrays’ two, effectively ending the contest at a game-high 50 points. Lachlan Williams had a last quarter to remember with three consecutive goals – not that it did enough to turn the momentum – while Charlie Sprague said enough was enough booting his sixth goal of the game late to ensure the Falcons had a major in the final term. To the final break, Sprague had booted the same amount of goals as the Stingrays side, eventually finishing with a clear best-on performance of 16 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and 6.1 for the day. Jesse Clark was a rock in defence with 23 disposals, six marks, nine rebounds and three tackles, while bottom agers Noah Gribble (19 disposals, four marks three inside 50s and three behinds) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and a goal) were also impressive. Assisting Sprague in attack was Oliver Henry with two goals from 12 touches and always presenting, while bottom-ager Tanner Bruhn showed no signs that he was coming off a long-term injury, booting two majors and could have had a third, with 16 disposals, two marks, four tackles and six inside 50s. For Dandenong, William Lewis had 24 disposals, two marks, four tackles, nine inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the best across four quarters, while Luca Goonan had a superb first half to finish with 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles and three inside 50s. Jack Toner (20 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Hayden Young (17 disposals, three marks three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles) tried hard, while Cody Weightman had his moments, finishing with 16 disposals and three behinds.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 8.11 (59)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 5.14 (44)

GOALS:
GWV – M. Martin 3, M. Lloyd, J. Rentsch, F. Marris, R. Polkinghorne, B. Hobbs
Murray – J. Boyer, T. Panuccio, D. Bedendo, B. Kelly, W. Chandler

BEST:
GWV – C. Molan, M. Martin, C. Craig-Peters, J. Rantall, F. Marris, P. Glanford
Murray – N. Irvine, S. Durham, L. Fiore, J. Chalcraft, C. McLeod, B. Kelly

By: Peter Williams

Given the pouring rain had set in midway through the last game, by the time the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers took the field, the ground could have doubled up for the swimming pool next to Queen Elizabeth Oval. The game itself was not one either side will be reaching for the highlight tapes too quickly, as the conditions made it a genuine slog and difficult for sides to firstly mark the ball inside 50, and secondly hit the scoreboard. Players were slipping and sliding in the mud, with one Rebels play indicative of the weather, going for a run through the middle but as he went to kick slipped in the mud and slid a metre of two along the ground. When it was all said and done however, it was the Rebels who managed to kick away in the second half, booting five consecutive goals to blow the margin out to 29 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, before a couple of late majors to the Bushrangers cut the final deficit to just 15. With 13.25 between the sides, it could have been a lot worse, but at least the sun decided to show up in the last 10 minutes of the match, instead blinding the players who were already soaked thanks to Mother Nature. Cooper Craig-Peters had a game-high 24 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebounds and eight tackles to relish in the conditions for the Rebels, while Jack Tillig finished with 20 disposals, six marks, four tackles and six rebounds. A frequent sufferer of leather poisoning, Jay Rantall had just one touch in the first term and six by the main break, but produced a big second half to end with 20 disposals and a massive 18 tackles in the win. Mitch Martin impressed up forward with three goals from 17 disposals and four marks, as well as a couple of other opportunities, while 16-year-olds Charlie Molan (17 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Ben Hobbs (12 disposals, nine tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) stood tall, as did bottom-ager Nick Stevens (17 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and four tackles). For the Bushrangers, Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals), Cam Wild (21) and Dylan Clarke (20) unsurprisingly loved the wet weather, going in hard and winning the ball in close, while Lachlan Ash overcame a similarly slow start to Rantall with just two disposals in the first term to finish the game with 19 playing in all areas of the ground. Josh Rachele presented well up forward with 19 disposals and four inside 50s, while bottom-age forward Dominic Bedendo had 13 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal.

NAB League Boys: Round 17 – Clubs put it all on the line in final round

THE big guns are back in action for the final regular season NAB League round, with the safety of third position up for grabs in what is arguably the game of the weekend between Sandringham and Oakleigh. As has become tradition, the six games will be played over two triple-headers, with Saturday’s all-metro games to be played in Werribee, and Sunday’s all-country fixtures in Bendigo.

WESTERN JETS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday August 17, 10:00am
Avalon Airport Oval

Both the Western Jets and Northern Knights will be looking to improve their ladder position heading into Wildcard Round as they open Saturday’s Werribee triple-header. The 8-6 Jets come in a game in front of the Knights but hold an inferior percentage, meaning a loss would see the two teams swap spots. Western’s Round 1 win over their weekend opponents is now the only factor separating the sides after 17 rounds, and the Knights will be keen to get one back over their metropolitan counterparts. They’ll have been chomping at the bit during their fortnight off after going down at home to Bendigo, with Western also coming in off a defeat. The Jets will be boosted by the return of Metro representative Darcy Cassar, who slots straight back into the lineup alongside Metro’s U17 Futures squad member, Lucas Failli. Northern has a couple of handy inclusions too, with Adam Carafa and Ewan Macpherson back after undergoing similar duties to Cassar and Failli, but key overage depth in Sunny Brazier and Oscar Simpson goes the other way among eight changes. Both sides have been difficult to predict in recent games but enjoyed solid mid-season runs, but it remains to be seen which of them will bounce back best from a minor skid. Should be a tight one if their previous meeting is anything to go by.

CALDER CANNONS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday August 17, 12:30pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The chance to finish clear on top looms for Eastern Ranges when they clash with the Calder, with the Cannons still able to go level on points with third. The Ranges have shown few weaknesses across their 14 games thus far, losing just three of them and boasting a percentage 14 per cent clear of their next best rival. Despite keeping on track in terms of clinching the minor premiership, Eastern has encountered a couple of scares in recent weeks to go with a loss to Oakleigh, scraping over the line by a collective margin of nine points against Murray and Dandenong. They’ll have to bring their best against Calder, who just keep finding a way to win on their streak of four victories. They have sured up their side for the task too, with a trio of Under 16s making way for PEGS representatives Harrison Jones, Harrison Minton-Connell, and Campbell Edwardes. Eastern’s answer to that is just as promising, with Jamieson Rossiter, Lachie Stapleton, and Connor Downie among six inclusions at the selection table. There should be no excuses from either side as they once again hit full strength, looking to cap off their seasons strongly heading into the business end. Expect Eastern’s consistency and all-round strength to shine through, but don’t be surprised to see Calder run very closely.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday August 17, 3:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

The game of the round pits Sandringham against Oakleigh, with both sides looking to claim third spot and earn a week off heading into finals. As if the stakes weren’t high enough, a raft of big names are back after the close of the school football season as both sides have made at least 10 changes each. Seven Vic Metro guns are set to return for the Dragons, with the likes of Louis Butler, Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, and Charlie Dean adding so much class to each of Sandringham’s lines. Under 16 Vic Country co-captain Campbell Chesser is set to debut as 23rd man, with U17 Futures representative Archie Perkins also slotting in. If you thought those names were impressive, Oakleigh have done their best to show the Dragons up with Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson returning alongside skippers Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco, bottom-age guns Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae, and exciting ruckman Nick Bryan. 16-year-old Youseph Dib will also feature for his debut, and there would hardly be a better home-and-away game to do it in. With the sides so evenly matched and big names popping up across the field, this should be the highest quality NAB League game since… well, since their Round 3 encounter. The ledger is even at 1-1 after Oakleigh got one back on the Dragons in Round 12, so the grudge match should be a cracker.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Sunday August 18, 10:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Gippsland Power will be looking to lock away second spot when it opens Sunday’s all-country triple-header against Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The fixture is a repeat of the Round 3 clash between the two sides, when Gippsland handed the Pioneers their first loss of the season by 24 points. Since then, the two sides have embarked on very different paths; with Gippsland proving to be the standout country side as they sit second with a 10-4 record, while the loss sparked a six-game losing streak for the now 5-9 Pioneers. The Power side, littered with an impressive eight Vic Country representatives, looks superior on paper as the two teams near full strength, highlighted by the need to only make two changes coming into this game. Meanwhile, Bendigo is set to make at least four, with Vic Country midfield ace Thomson Dow a welcome addition to the engine room yearning for a bit of grunt. That area is one the Power will hope to get on top in, as well as up forward as the likes of representative talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben look to match up on smaller opponents. Count the Pioneers out at your own peril, but expect Gippsland to click into full gear when required.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday August 18, 12:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two sides with all but confirmed ladder positions in Geelong and Dandenong are set to do battle to close out their regular seasons, looking to end on a high note. While the Falcons are locked into last place, the Stingrays could move up or down one spot from eighth on the back of this weekend’s results. After an undefeated first eight rounds, the reigning premiers find themselves in a far less desirable situation on the back of their mid-late season slump – losing their next seven games. While a fixture against the bottom side which boasts just two wins may seem like a good opportunity to snap that run, a draw in the previous meeting between the two sides will not fill them with much confidence. Needless to say, that game will have the opposite effect on the much-improved Geelong side which has made some handy inclusions. Bottom-age gun Tanner Bruhn heads them, slotting straight back into the lineup after a long-term injury layoff alongside the likes of Gennaro Bove, Noah Gadsby and Charlie Lazzaro. That added midfield depth bodes very well for the Falcons considering Henry Walsh‘s form in the ruck, and given Dandenong’s Hayden Young is spending more time in the midfield. Dandenong’s changes see Cody Weightman and Lachie Williams inject some pace into the lineup, with 16-year-old Connor Macdonald another who could well excite forward of centre. With the Falcons buoyed by a win last time out, they should prove tricky opposition for Dandenong, who themselves will look to break through for a similar victory.

GWV REBELS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 18, 3:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Two bottom-half teams are set to scrap it out to end the regular season, with the GWV Rebels and Murray Bushrangers taking on the honours in Bendigo. The Bushrangers have shown marked improvement in recent weeks after an indifferent start to the season, culminating in a 72-point thrashing of Western Jets last time out as they near full strength. The Rebels have shown similar signs of progression too, picking up three wins in their last four outings after a six-game losing run. Ladder position is a little less relevant in this clash as both sides can only move up or down one spot, with Murray a chance to slot into eight if things go their way, and GWV’s only way up to tenth also dependant on other results. Both sides have sought to add some bottom-age class to their lineups, with GWV adding Nick Stevens and Jack Tillig to the 23, while Murray has brought in Tillig’s Vic Country Under 17 teammate Zavier Maher, with over-ager Ben Kelly another solid option for the key position stakes. While Murray has been a touch more inconsistent, you can often bet on the Rebels being competitive and up for the fight, so this could be a tight one if they bring that intensity.

Vic Country U17s lift in second half to power past NSW/ACT

VIC COUNTRY U17’s class shone through in a seven goal to three second half as they overcame NSW/ACT 11.9 (75) to 7.8 (50) at Ikon Park on Sunday.

Despite the frosty conditions, both sides warmed to the contest well early on in an opening term which ebbed and flowed. The Rams made the better start as Kale Gabila booted the first two goals of the game in style to see his side break to an early lead. The momentum took a 180-degree turn though as goals to Dominic Bedendo and Sam Berry saw Country level proceedings, before Josh Green replied in good time to give NSW/ACT a slim lead at the first break. A repeat of the first term looked on the cards as Swans Academy gun Pierce Roseby put the Rams back in front to start the second stanza, but Country began to get on top on the back of some unrelenting attack to snatch a three-point half time buffer with goals to Will Bravo and Deakyn Smith.

Gabila’s third major was the only glimmer of resistance in a rampant five goals to one third term for the Victorians, who began to get on top in the midfield battle and put the clamps on to lock the ball in their attacking half. It was then a case of the damage already being done as Country hardly looked phased in a more anticlimactic final term which featured two classy Braeden Campbell goals, Max Annandale‘s second, and one to Ryan Angwin. Country also seemed to get the better of a few magnet shuffles, with Oliver Henry faring better up forward and Josh Treacy getting more involved at the centre bounces. The level-pegged term saw the hosts run away with 25-point final margin of victory, with the Rams just unable to take a couple of gilt edge chances to truly get back into the contest.

Gippsland pocket rocket Berry was clearly best afield, racking up 23 disposals, four marks, six clearances and a goal in a complete performance from midfield. His engine room partners Charlie Lazzaro (21 disposals, five tackles) and Zavier Maher (20 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s) supported him well, while the likes of Smith (14 disposals, eight marks, two goals), Angwin (16 disposals, four marks, one goal) and Seamus Mitchell (11 disposals, one goal) proved handfuls forward of centre. The Rams’ top-end talent led the way despite the loss, with Swans academy trio Errol Gulden (19 disposals, five marks, four clearances), Campbell (18 disposals, seven tackles, seven inside 50s, two goals) and Roseby (17 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) all influential around the ball. Marco Rossmann was threatening up forward alongside major goal kicker Gabila, while Marc Sheather (14 disposals, four rebound 50s) provided a cool head down back in the first half.

VIC COUNTRY 11.9 (75)
NSW/ACT 7.8 (50)

GOALS
Vic Country: D. Smith 2, M. Annandale 2, S. Berry, J. Tillig, R. Angwin, W. Bravo, S. Mitchell, D. Bendendo, O. Henry.
NSW/ACT: K. Gabila 3, B. Campbell 2, P. Roseby, J. Green.

ADC BEST:
Vic Country: S. Berry, D. Smith, Z. Maher, J. Tillig, N. Gadsby, R. Angwin
NSW/ACT: B. Campbell, K. Gabila, E. Gulden, P. Roseby, M. Rossmann, M. Sheather

Bottom-age talent to hit Ikon Park

A DOUBLE header at Ikon Park is exactly what footy fans will be after during the NAB League’s development weekend. The top Victorian Under 17s will go head-to-head against NSW/ACT and Queensland which gives fans of the four AFL clubs with Northern Academies a chance to see them in action. While some players such as Will Phillips and Elijah Hollands are not named, there is still plenty of talent to go around.

VIC COUNTRY vs. NSW/ACT
Sunday August 11, 9.45am
Ikon Park

Vic Country:

1 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power)
2 Deakyn Smith (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels)
4 Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers)
5 Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers)
6 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)
7 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power)
8 Zavier Maher (Murray Bushrangers)
9 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)
10 Clayton Gay (Dandenong Stingrays)
11 Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
12 Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
13 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)
14 Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons)
15 Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
16 Jack Tillig (GWV Rebels)
17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons)
18 Max Annadale (Geelong Falcons)
19 Ethan Baxter (Murray Bushrangers)
20 Finn Ellis Castle (Bendigo Pioneers)
21 Kyle Skene (Geelong Falcons)
22 Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers)
24 Jai Neal (Dandenong Stingrays)
25 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)
26 Mason Hawkins (Gippsland Power)
27 Keith Robinson (Gippsland Power)

Vic Country’s side has a number of nice developing talls including Bendigo Pioneers’ Josh Treacy up forward and Geelong Falcons’ Cameron Fleeton down back, both of whom have been in good form of late. The defensive lines look strong with the likes of Oliver Henry and Clayton Gay likely to provide plenty of run and carry out of defence with their terrific ball skills, whilst Sam Berry, Charlie Lazzaro and Noah Gadsby provide some fierce tackling pressure.

NSW/ACT Rams:

1 Jackson Tikkeros (Sydney Swans)
2 Cooper Wilson (Sydney Swans)
8 Oscar Davis (Sydney Swans)
9 Taine Wright (Sydney Swans)
10 Matthew Hamblin (GWS GIANTS)
12 Kale Gabila (Sydney Swans)
13 Pierce Roseby (Sydney Swans)
26 Marco Rossmann (Sydney Swans)
27 Coopa Steele (GWS GIANTS)
28 Sam Frost (GWS GIANTS)
29 Drew Beavan (GWS GIANTS)
34 Sebastian Quirk (GWS GIANTS)
35 Fraser Kelly (GWS GIANTS)
36 Maximus Monaghan (GWS GIANTS)
37 Scott Brown (GWS GIANTS)
38 Sam Eynaud (Sydney Swans)
39 Marc Sheather (Sydney Swans)
40 Jack Driscoll (GWS GIANTS)
41 Jarred Gardiner (GWS GIANTS)
43 Aidan Beveridge (Sydney Swans)
## Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans)
## Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans)
## Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

NSW/ACT have named a strong team for the contest, with the bottom three players yet to receive a number the keys to watch. Errol Gulden is the top prospect of this group and has already shown he can match it with top-agers as a great left footer who can win plenty of the pill on the outside and do damage by foot. Braeden Campbell is a dangerous forward who knows where the goals are and can push up the ground, while Charlie Byrne has elite foot skills and can play off half-back or drift forward.

VIC METRO vs. QUEENSLAND
Sunday August 11, 12.15pm
Ikon Park

VIC METRO:

1 Lucas Failli (Western Jets)
2 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons)
3 Eddie Ford (Western Jets)
4 Joshua Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
6 Jackson Cardillo (Calder Cannons)
7 Ewan Macpherson (Northern Knigts)
8 Darby Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons)
9 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers)
10 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges)
11 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons)
12 Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
13 Liam Conway (Western Jets)
15 Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
16 Jack Keeping (Calder Cannons)
17 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights)
18 Fraser Elliot (Oakleigh Chargers)
19 Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges)
20 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)
21 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers)
23 Joshua Eyre (Calder Cannons)
25 Jack Diedrich (Eastern Ranges)
26 Cody Raak (Western Jets)
27 Joe Nowell (Sandringham Dragons)
29 Campbell Edwardes (Calder Cannons)

X-factor galore in this side, with Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford providing the speed and high-flying marks, while Collingwood Next Generation Academy member Reef McInnes and Wil Parker will be strong through midfield. Ewan Macpherson has provided support up in defence for the Northern Knights, while Lochie Jenkins and Cody Raak are in great form as well. Connor Downie and Finlay Macrae were both named in the Vic Metro squad with Downie getting to run out on the MCG. Also watch for the lightning speed of Joshua Clarke.

QUEENSLAND:

3 Ethan Hunt (Gold Coast Suns)
4 Shatna Cashen-Harris (Brisbane Lions)
5 Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions)
6 Will O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions)
7 James Smith (Gold Coast Suns)
9 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions)
10 Will Tasker (Brisbane Lions)
11 Ky McKenzie (Brisbane Lions)
12 Max Pescud (Gold Coast Suns)
13 Darcy Prest (Brisbane Lions)
15 Toby Trffett (Brisbane Lions)
16 Bailey Reeves (Gold Coast Suns)
18 Oliver Rojo (Gold Coast Suns)
20 Aiden Fyfe (Gold Coast Suns)
23 Carter Michael (Brisbane Lions)
24 Saxon Crozier (Brisbane Lions)
26 Alex Davies (Gold Coast Suns)
27 Connor Bulley (Gold Coast Suns)
29 Lleyton Cottrell (Brisbane Lions)
30 Jack Johnston (Gold Coast Suns)
33 Thomas Hofert (Gold Coast Suns)
34 Ryan Pickering (Gold Coast Suns)
35 Ethan Harris (Brisbane Lions)

A squad full of zippy smalls and outside types will make the trip down for Queensland, with each member assigned to either to Gold Coast or Brisbane academies. The likes of Tahj Abberley and Ethan Hunt are likely to run through the midfield, respectively providing class and hardness to the engine room, while Saxon Crozier looks to be a leading prospect who can roam between the flanks. Blake Coleman provides some excitement up forward, with the likes of James Smith and Darcy Prest likely to solidify the half-back line. Another to watch for is Alex Davies, who is a brutish inside midfielder and finds plenty of clearances.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 12

IN a Draft Central first, the Round 12 NAB League Boys Team of the Week featured two players from the 12 sides across the competition in the 24-player squad. The Round which was split over two weekends – was completed on the weekend with Eastern Ranges defeating Tasmania Devils. The other five games were played the weekend prior to Round 13 last weekend, with no one scoring more than 60 points in a rain-affected round.

In the standalone game on the weekend, Eastern Ranges’ Mitch Mellis continued his terrific season with a spot in the team, joined by ruck Billy McCormack who can spend time up forward. Also in the forward line is Tasmania’s Jackson Callow and up the other end, his teammate Matt McGuinness, both of whom make the team once again. Speaking of regulars in the Team of the Week, Western Jets’ captain Lucas Rocci has become a lock in the back pocket over the past couple of months, making the side with Josh Kellett. Their opponents Calder Cannons had Sam Ramsay make the team on the wing, whilst Ben Overman was impressive in the back half.

The double header at Shepley Oval resulted in eight players making the side, with Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels duo Mitch Martin and Mitchell Burgess making the side up either end on flanks, while Clayton Gay and Max Gregory worked hard in the Dandenong Stingrays’ loss and made the side. In the ohter game, Sam Berry was sensational with 18 tackles from 20 touches and three goals for Gippsland Power, joined in the side by teammate Tye Hourigan. Their opponents Geelong Falcons had ruck Henry Walsh, and tireless midfielder Charlie Lazzaro make the side – the latter was the only player to pick up more than four touches in the final term (eight) when they were overran by the Power.

In the other two games, Murray Bushrangers’ Jye Chalcraft slotted into the team after he earned the Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 12, joined by overager Zane Barzen in the side. Their opponents were Bendigo Pioneers, as James Schischka was named on half-back and Ben Worme on a wing. In the all-metropolitan battle, Oakleigh Chargers’ Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booted three goals and fits into the forward line, with Reef McInnes also making the team. Sandringham Dragons’ Hugo Ralphsmith and Will Mackay round out the Team of the Week for Round 12.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 13

BENDIGO Pioneers and Oakleigh Chargers have received the most nominations for the Draft Central Team of the Week for Round 13 in the NAB League Boys. All other sides have two players each in an even spread, with Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons the two exceptions (one player each) after heavy losses.

Bendigo’s forward duo of Seamus Mitchell and Jack Ginnivan both made the side along with ruck Aaron Gundry. Oakleigh’s trio of nominations occur in the forward half, with Dylan Williams and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booting nine goals between them, while Reef McInnes also hit the scoreboard from the midfield. Their opponents Geelong had a sole representative in Charlie Lazzaro with the midfielder working hard defensively to pick up five rebounds and was named on the half-back flank. On the other half-back flank is Matt McGuinness who played in Tasmania Devils’ loss to Bendigo, named in the side with teammate Jackson Callow at the other end.

Other winners with two nominees include Calder Cannons who had Sam Ramsay and Jackson Cardillo both make the side, as did Eastern Ranges’ Mitch Mellis and forward Ben Hickleton. Northern Knights’ captain Jackson Davies and inside midfielder, Adam Carafa both made the team, as did Western Jets’ captain Lucas Rocci and overager Will Kennedy. The other side with just one sole nominee was Dandenong Stingrays, seeing Jack Toner‘s performance in his side’s loss earn him a spot in the 24-player team.

Gippsland Power defender Tye Hourigan and midfielder Sam Berry squeeze into the team once again, while Murray Bushrangers’ Jye Chalcraft backed up his Player of the Week nomination last round with another strong performance in Round 13. He and Will Christie are the two Bushrangers’ representatives with Christie rotating between defence and ruck. Sandringham Dragons welcomed back a number of Vic Metro representatives to the team over the weekend with two Metro players in Hugo Ralphsmith and captain Ryan Byrnes making the side.

NAB League Boys Round 13 preview: Representative guns return to action

WITH the national carnival come and gone, top-end NAB League regulars are starting to filter back into action, starting with Round 13. Sandringham’s inclusions will put the Dragons in good stead for a top four clash against Western, while Oakleigh and Northern also look well replenished coming into their respective fixtures.


WESTERN JETS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval

A well-stocked Sandringham Dragons line-up will be looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats when it faces fellow top-four side, the Western Jets to open Round 13. The Dragons are set to welcome back Vic Metro representatives Ryan Byrnes, Finn Maginness, Oscar Lewis, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Jack Bell, as well as over-ager Angus Hanrahan in one of the more star studded inclusion lines of any team this season. They join the likes of Hugo Ralphsmith, Charlie Dean, and Andrew Courtney from last week’s team, meaning over half of the Dragons’ Metro squad members will suit up for them as they gear towards full strength. Meanwhile, Western is also set to benefit from the conclusion of the national carnival, welcoming Emerson Jeka back into the side. He joins fellow inclusion and big man Aaron Clarke, meaning Will Kennedy is likely set to revert back to his usual ruck duties against his old side. While they gain good tall stocks, the Jets will be without Darcy Cassar for this clash, but should be able to cover their losses down back with Josh Kellett and Lucas Rocci in good form, while Eddie Ford and Josh Honey hold equal class up the other end. This will be a tough ask for Western given Sandringham’s regained midfield and defensive depth, on top of coming off a pretty dour defeat to Calder last time out. Expect the Dragons boys to come out hot after a down couple of weeks, as well as a heartbreaking loss for those who donned Metro colours against the Allies. Plenty to prove.


GIPPSLAND POWER vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday July 6, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Northern Knights will look to test an undermanned Gippsland Power unit, with a near-full strength squad named to travel up to Morwell. Metro back six regulars Ryan Sturgess and Lachie Potter bolster the Knights line-up – albeit starting on different lines – with Adam Carafa‘s inclusion set to see Josh D’Intinosante spend more time forward, while Nikolas Cox provides some versatility. Ben Major could spend some time down back with over-ager Sunny Brazier named at full forward, while 16-year-old Ned Long slots in as 23rd man. For Gippsland, Fraser Phillips is the only Country representative set to suit up this week, meaning the likes of Leo Connolly, Trent Baldi, and Jake van der Plight will have to continue to stand up alongside bottom-age gem Sam Berry as the Power’s major ball-finders. The home side will look to take full advantage of Northern’s extended break, with a trip to Morwell a tough ask coming off the bye, but a chance to refresh equally plays into Northern’s hands. The Power only just snuck home against a vastly inexperienced Geelong side last week, so will have to show some noted improvement across the four quarters to get the better of a relatively strong and more flexible Knights side. If conditions allow for it, this game could be an under-the-radar belter.


MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday July 6, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

Wins streaks are set to be broken as the Murray Bushrangers host ladder-leaders, Eastern Ranges on Saturday afternoon. The Bushies are slowly but surely making amends for a disappointing start to their season, winning their last three games to sit just outside of the top eight on percentage. On the other hand, Eastern have surpassed all pre-season expectations to sit first, boasting two wins over third-place Sandringham and their last loss coming against the second-ranked side, Gippsland in Round 6. The Ranges have the added advantage of fielding five Vic Metro representatives given they had the bye during Wednesday’s carnival action. Skipper James Ross, Lachlan Stapleton, Mitch Mellis, Jamieson Rossiter, and bottom-ager Connor Downie have all been named, making the Ranges look a pretty formidable opponent. Their pressure game across the ground will be key to victory here, with Murray coming off a 3.22 performance – albeit in wet and windy conditions. The Bushrangers will have to wait another week to regain their Country squad members, but the likes of Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Charlie Byrne have all shown solid form over the past few weeks. The dynamism of over-ager Zane Barzen will also be crucial as he again slots in at centre half-back, with Eastern’s tall strength up forward posing a big threat. They visitors look stronger across the board, but face Murray at a bad time as the Bushrangers are finally clicking into gear as the season hots up.


CALDER CANNONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday July 6, 2:15pm
RAMS Arena

Fresh off a win over top-four hopefuls, Western, the Calder Cannons will be looking to consign the Dandenong Stingrays to a fourth-straight defeat when they meet at RAMS Arena. The two sides had largely differing starts to the season, with Calder improving greatly through the middle-sector while the Stingrays are faltering after going undefeated until Round 10. The comparatively inexperienced Dandenong side features a couple of Vic Country Under 16 trial squad members with Patrick Gerdan and Miller Bergman again named, while Clayton Gay will again have to stand up in the absence of many key top and over-agers. Lachlan Williams is one Dandenong top-age gun to feature after his Country duties, named in the centre as opposed to his typical wing position given how depleted the squad is. For Calder, Sam Ramsay, Ned Gentile and Harrison Minton-Connell will look to lead the ball-winning brigade and take advantage of a weakened Dandenong engine room, with Mason Fletcher showing enough form up forward to be named there once again. Bottom-ager Campbell Edwardes slots into the back six next to Curtis Brown, with the magnets able to be shuffled around if need be. While the hosts are at a high point, they have met a lot of sides at ideal times – and this clash is no different. Dandenong have the talent to bounce back though, and should have a back end of the year we are more accustomed to.


TASMANIA DEVILS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Sunday July 7, 10:30am
Kingston Twin Ovals

Another tight tussle between the Tasmania and Bendigo is set to go down at Kingston’s Twin Ovals, with the Pioneers looking to make good on their after-the-siren loss to the Devils last time out. Both sides remain relatively steady coming off the national carnival, with only the usual suspects missing and making the ledger pretty even in that sense. Matt McGuinness is a key inclusion for Tasmania, named at centre-half back and set to join Allies representative Sam Collins as aerial dominators. Collins’ fellow Allies squad member Ollie Davis also remains in the heart of the side, with Jackson Callow making it a trio of dangerous bottom-agers for the Devils. For Bendigo, James Schischka and Ben Worme will look to mirror the efforts of McGuinness and Collins in their own defensive half, while Sam Conforti will look to show his own prowess as a bottom-ager. The Pioneers’ tall stocks take a hit with Josh Treacy out, meaning Braydon Vaz will have to play above his height and Aaron Gundry could spend some time forward. However the sides line-up, this looks a very even contest on paper and if the sides’ previous contest is anything to go by, this should be an very tight slog from start to finish, with Tasmania’s host status the only clear advantage to be had.


GEELONG FALCONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday July 7, 11:30am
Avalon Airport Oval

Geelong Falcons will be looking for leaders to rise when they play host to the Oakleigh Chargers, with the Falcons fresh off yet another heartbreaking defeat. It will be a tall order though, as some big ins all of a sudden have Oakleigh looking quite formidable after losing a raft of top-end talent to national carnival duties. Co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams slot in at either end, with bottom-ager Will Phillips joining over-agers Joe Ayton-Delaney and Cooper Sharman on the bench. Phillips’ fellow bottom-agers Sam Tucker, Lochlan Jenkins, and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan have been in fine form as Oakleigh’s makeshift spine, and should be a huge threat again in this game. The Falcons have some bottom-age talent of their own though, with Henry Walsh and Oliver Henry finding form alongside midfielders Gennaro Bove and Charlie Lazzaro. Charlie Sprague is the key inclusion, set to resume his forward partnership with Henry and add some much-needed experience and strength. The Chargers look to be taking no prisoners in their top-four tilt though, and have gone all-out in looking to break through this weekend. A win would not be enough to scrape Geelong off the bottom of the ladder, but would go a long way towards a confidence boost.