Tag: classic contests

Classic Contests: Bianco’s Chargers survive Devils scare

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 14 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Oakleigh Chargers and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides met in Tasmania’s maiden full-time campaign.

2019 NAB League, Round 6
Saturday May 4, 11:30am
North Hobart Oval

TASMANIA DEVILS 3.0 | 5.2 | 6.5 | 8.7 (55)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.4 | 3.5 | 6.6 | 8.8 (56)


Tasmania: R. Mansell 2, W. Harper 2, M. McGuinness, S. Banks, B. Gordon, J. Callow
T. Lovell 4, T. Graham, L. Westwood, H. Mundy, A. Tassell


Tasmania: H. Ireland, R. Mansell, O. Davis, P. Walker, L. Viney, I. Chugg
T. Bianco, J. Woodfull, J. May, H. Mastras, L. Westwood, S. Seach

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matthew McGuinness 
Trent Bianco

Oakleigh may have been the much higher fancied side in 2019 when compared to incoming full-time side, Tasmania, but the two regions sat level on points coming into their Round 6 NAB League clash. The Chargers got up in Rounds 1 and 2, but were starting to feel the effects of school and representative football commitments having suffered three-straight losses. A second interstate trip in three weeks would hardly help, with Tasmania gaining the benefit of another home game to help buoy its 2-2 record. The Devils had notched consecutive wins after their Round 2 debuts, but lost to Western in Round 5.

Co-captain Trent Bianco would taking the reigns solo as the sole eventual draftee in Oakleigh’s side to make the trip, while North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness was Tasmania’s lone AFL product afield with Mitchell O’Neill absent. In a boost to the Devils’ lineup, they would boast bottom-aged Allies hub members Oliver Davis, Sam Collins, and Jackson Callow, along with Patrick Walker and leading 2021 hopeful, Sam Banks.

As the action got underway at North Hobart Oval, the Victorians were unable to take full advantage of starting at the scoring end, taking a four-point lead into the first change as their four superior scoring shots all ended in behinds. Tasmania, blessed with kicking boots, showed them the way in the second term, keeping the Chargers goalless while adding two majors to snatch a nine-point buffer heading into half time.

One of the outstanding traits of Oakleigh’s side in 2019 was it was able to score quickly, and signs began to look ominous as the Chargers booted three goals within the first 11 minutes of the third term. The Devils were able to mount somewhat of a comeback, but some inaccurate kicking of their own late in the piece would prove costly. A grandstand finish was set up with just one point separating the sides heading into the final term, and the two teams did not disappoint.

Four lead changes would occur, with Banks giving Tasmania the jump early, only to see Thomas Lovell edge Oakleigh back in front twice with his third and fourth goals. Jye Menzie‘s shy at goal with under three minutes left on the clock would prove Tasmania’s last chance at victory, as Oakleigh broke the hearts of home fans and travelled back to the mainland with four points.

Lovell came up clutch with his four goals making up almost half of Oakleigh’s tally, but it was Bianco who proved the standout of the day. The Collingwood draftee was a cut above the rest, racking up a monster 42 disposals in what was a complete performance, putting him 14 touches ahead of the next-best ball winner – Josh May, 28 disposals. Fraser Elliot was another Charger to impress from midfield, while Davis (21 disposals) was Tasmania’s leading ball winner, and the pairing of Will Harper and Rhyan Mansell combined for four goals.

The Devils would go on to add just two more wins to their tally in 2019, putting up a valiant effort in Wildcard Round to lose by only six points to Calder. Oakleigh finished the regular season in third at 11-4, and went on to win the NAB League premiership on the back of an unstoppable late-season run. Six Chargers, including Bianco were drafted. Most famously, the region boasted both of the first two picks in the 2019 draft as Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson headed to the Gold Coast SUNS.

Classic Contests: Williams the hero as Chargers scrape home over Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 13 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to when the two sides met for a low-scoring thriller.

2019 NAB League, Round 8
Saturday May 18, 10:00am
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

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


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


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

Draftees in action:

Northern: Sam Philp, Ayce Taylor
Trent Bianco, Dylan Williams

Two metropolitan sides would meet on neutral, country territory come Round 8 of last year’s NAB League season, as Northern and Oakleigh went to battle at Shepley Oval. The highly fancied Chargers had only just fought to an even 3-3 record to that point, snapping a three-game losing run upon the commencement of school football with a one-point win over Tasmania. Northern managed to retain most of its key talent, and had won two games on the trot after a lacklustre 0-5 start to its campaign.

While Oakleigh’s two co-captains in Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco took the field, the Chargers’ remaining four 2019 draftees – including top two pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson – were absent. Northern evened the ledger in terms of future AFL products with bolter Sam Philp a mainstay in the side, and 19-year-old Adelaide top-up Ayce Taylor also running out with plenty of interest.

As expected, Oakleigh arguably had the better of the opening exchanges, but could not quite capitalise on its territorial pressure as the sides entered the first break level at 1.2 apiece. The theme continued into the second term as both sides proved inaccurate in front of goal, but the Chargers’ superior two scoring shots saw them sneak ahead at half time by two points.

That was where the buck stopped for Northern, as it began to better take hold through midfield and apply scoreboard pressure in the process. A slender four-point lead at the final break was stolen back almost immediately by Williams in the following period of play, before Philp did the same for Northern. A second from Williams after Thomas Graham reclaimed the lead would prove the sealer for Oakleigh in a real scare, getting over the line by six points.

Williams’ move from half-back to his more comfortable forward role in the final term proved a game-winning decision, as the Port draftee booted two defining goals to see the Chargers home. Co-captain and new Collingwood recruit Bianco was kept relatively quiet for 17 disposals as bottom-ager Fraser Elliot led all comers with 28 touches, and partner-in-crime Lochlan Jenkins was named best-afield for his 22.

Philp returned a performance consistent of his form for the Knights throughout 2019, racking up 28 touches and booting an important goal in the losing effort. A player who very nearly joined him at Carlton, Ryan Sturgess was also influential with 19 disposals from defence, on top of having the difficult task of manning Williams at the death. Taylor was quiet with seven disposals but laid six tackles to display his versatility.

Northern would go on to finish sixth at 8-7 and disposed of Bendigo in Wildcard Round, but came undone against Western come finals time to see an end to its season. Oakleigh won the NAB League premiership from third, storming undefeated through a brilliant finals campaign which culminated in a 53-point triumph in the decider.

Classic Contests: Dragons blow Devils away on the road

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 12 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Sandringham Dragons and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock almost a year to late-2019, when the two sides met for the first time since Tasmania’s full-time induction into the competition.

2019 NAB League, Round 15
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park, Launceston

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.4 (28)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 6.8 | 11.10 | 13.15 (93)


Tasmania: O. Sanders, L. Gadomski, J. Chaplin, J. Callow.
A. Hanrahan 3, K. Yorke 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, J. Bowey, J. Bell, B. O’Leary, J. Mifsud, M. Bergman.


Tasmania: L. Viney, J. Callow, O. Davis, S. Collins, R. Mansell, M. McGuinness
A. Hanrahan, R. Bowman, J. Bell, R. Byrnes, D. Chirgwin, M. Bergman

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matt McGuinness
 Ryan Byrnes, Miles Bergman, Jack Bell

Not much more than pride was up for grabs as Sandringham travelled down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in Launceston, with the fate of the two sides all but already sealed. The Dragons were gunning for a top three spot to avoid Wildcard Round, while Tasmania was simply battling for position having fallen to 13th spot.

Neither side was in particularly outstanding form either, with Sandringham coming in having won in its previous outing against Dandenong, but the Dragons had lost three straight games before that and five of their last six overall to sit 8-5 in fourth. The Devils were 4-11 on the back of a five-game losing run, which would end up stretching to seven by season’s end.

Of significance were also the absentees for both teams, too, with Sandringham missing a raft of eventual draftees and combine invitees, including the likes of top 30 picks Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, and Josh Worrell. Mitch O’Neill was the biggest name missing for Tasmania, one of its two 2019 draftees, but the Devils maintained their four 2020 AFL Academy prospects in the side.

Keen to flex their superiority and gain some winning form on the eve of finals, the Dragons took control from the get-go with six scoring shots to one in the opening term helping them to a 15-point lead at the first break. They would extend it to 31 points by half time, again restricting Tasmania to just one major while piling on another three of their own.

Having got the jump, Sandringham well-and-truly put the result beyond doubt with a game-high five goals in the third term, and a couple more in the closing stanza for good measure as the Devils could only again manage a goal per the final two terms. The final margin sat at 65 points in favour of the travelling side, marking Sandringham’s third win by over 10 goals at that point in the season.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan had a day out, leading all comers for goals (three) and disposals (33), with St Kilda draftee Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal) another to find both the ball and the goals. Matt McGuinness was Tasmania’s leading ball winner with 26 touches, while of the other draftees afield, Miles Bergman booted 1.2 from his 19 disposals, and Jack Bell also booted a major in his forward/ruck duties.

Despite boasting one of the more stacked Under 18 squads of recent times, Sandringham fell short of the top three and its premiership dream as injuries and some bad luck took toll, finishing fourth at 9-6 and losing to eventual premier, Oakleigh in the preliminary finals. Tasmania would end up losing seven-straight games to finish the season at 4-11 in 14th, but gave Calder a scare in Wildcard Round as the Devils went down by a single goal.

Classic Contests: Young Ranges upset classy Cannons

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2012, where Eastern got one up over their Metro counterparts on the road.

2012 TAC Cup, Round 10
Sunday June 24, 11:00am
Highgate Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 1.1 | 3.1 | 4.1 | 6.10 (46)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 2.7 | 5.9 | 8.10 (58)


Calder: A. Gallucci 3, N. Fletcher, J. Boyd, O. Abdallah
Eastern: S. McGowan 2, M. Honeychurch 2, B. Cavarra, P. Ashton, J. Zboril, T. Boyd


Calder: A. Gallucci, J. Owen, R. Atkins, E. McConnell, A. Christensen, A. Shipard
Eastern: B. Cavarra, M. Honeychurch, J. Walker, S. McGowan, T. Jones, C. O’Sullivan

Draftees in action:

Calder: Sean Gregory, Rory Atkins, Matthew Dick, Andrew Gallucci, Adam Saad
Eastern: Mitch Honeychurch, Daniel McStay, Tom Boyd, Ben Cavarra

Calder would have been feeling good coming into its clash with the 2-7, 11th placed Eastern Ranges in Round 10 of the 2012 TAC Cup season, sitting pretty in third place at 6-3 themselves and with five wins in its last six outings – including two on the trot. While the Ranges could also lay claim to consecutive wins in the build-up, their overall form and greater depth of bottom-agers spelt trouble against their next opponent.

While the Cannons had the likes of Joe Daniher, Lachie Plowman, and Jonathan O’Rourke absent amid the Under 18 National Championships, a total of five eventual AFL draftees – all top-agers – graced the field for them on the day. Conversely, Eastern’s bottom-age talent was beginning to shine through, with four players who went on to make the elite grade running out for the winners, including 2013 number one pick Tom Boyd.

There may have been plenty of class afield, but the game was a typically scrappy and low-scoring affair in Highgate due to the conditions, The Ranges had five scoring shots in the first term but could only manage one goal, which was matched by Calder heading into the break. Come half time, the ledger would be all-square again as Calder took advantage of the Ranges’ inaccuracy, booting 3.1 to their opponents’ 2.7 in a trying half of play.

But the Ranges eventually sured up in front of goal to retake the lead at three-quarter time, booting three goals while keeping Calder to just one in a defining term. Their form would continue into the last, making it a 6.3 to 3.9 second half as the goalkicking yips ended up biting Calder when it mattered. It saw Eastern come away with a 12-point win over more fancied opponents, a good feather in the region’s cap before improving out of sight in 2013 with that young core.

Bulldogs draftee Mitch Honeychurch was one of two Ranges to boot multiple goals, going with 18 disposals and seven marks from midfield to be named behind only Ben Cavarra (23 disposals, four marks, five tackles, one goal) as Eastern’s best. The remaining draftees, Boyd and Daniel McStay were kept relatively quiet, with the former booting 1.2 from seven disposals and five marks, while the latter managed 13 disposals and four marks.

Former Carlton mature-age recruit Andrew Gallucci was named Calder’s best for his game-high three goals, with Adelaide’s Rory Atkins (19 disposals) also around the mark. Another former-Blue, Matthew Dick had 18 touches, while Sean Gregory managed five marks from his 12. Essendon’s fleet-footed rebounding defender Adam Saad rounded out the draftees afield, notching 15 touches.

The Cannons would falter slightly after this hiccup, boasting an 8-8-1 record come the end of the regular season to finish seventh, before being knocked out by eventual premier Oakleigh in an elimination final. Eastern won just one more game for the year to finish 12th at 3-14, as the worst-performed Victorian side. The Ranges would pull off a remarkable turnaround in 2013 though, with its raft of 2012 bottom-agers carrying them to premiership glory.

Classic Contests: Jets pip Stingrays in 2014 thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Dandenong Stingrays and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2014 when these two last had a series of thrillers, but the tightest was a three-point win to Western at Shepley Oval.


2014 TAC Cup, Round 5
Saturday April 26, 11.30am
Shepley Oval

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.1 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN JETS 2.2 | 3.4 | 4.10 | 7.12 (54)

Draftees in action:

Dandenong – Bailey Dale (Western Bulldogs), Bailey Rice (St Kilda)*, Tom Lamb (West Coast), Jack Lonie (St Kilda), Mitch White (Melbourne), Jacob Weitering (Carlton)*
Western – Jayden Laverde (Essendon), Liam Duggan (West Coast), Connor Menadue (Richmond), Corey Ellis (Richmond), Brenton Payne (St Kilda), Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (Carlton)

* – denotes bottom-aged

Two teams deemed to be relatively even heading into the Round 4 contest, the Stingrays had started the season fairly strongly with two wins and one loss, but only marginally with a positive percentage. The Jets were a spot behind the sixth placed Stingrays on the ladder, with one win from four games, but that win was so large they had a higher percentage than their opponents. It came the round before when the Jets smashed Northern Territory to the tune of 122 points, while the Stingrays had bounced back with a 29-point win over Bendigo Pioneers following a loss to Geelong Falcons the week before.

The match was low-scoring throughout and the visiting side to Shepley Oval found themselves seven points up at the first break with two goals to one heading into quarter time. The Stingrays had their fair share of the play in the first half, but could not capitalise, adding just a further three behinds, as Western booted 1.2 in the second term for a 12-point half-time lead.

Neither team could quite find their range in the premiership quarter, as they combined for 3.9, though this time it was the Jets who suffered more. The Stingrays booted 2.3 to keep them in contention as Western failed to land a knockout blow with 1.6 and a nine-point lead that could and should have been more heading into the final break.

The final term saw as many goals kicked as there had been for the first three quarters combined. Dandenong piled on four majors to get right back in the contest, but Western’s three goals was enough to hold on, in a low-scoring thriller, By the final siren, the Jets won 7.12 (54) to 7.9 (51) to leapfrog the Stingrays on the TAC Cup ladder.

Star talent, Liam Duggan had a day out with 33 disposals, five marks, six tackles and one goal, while fellow potential first round prospect Jayden Laverde had 28 disposals, five marks – one contested – and two goals. Richmond’s first round pick that year in Corey Ellis was named among the best for the visitors amassing 26 disposals, two marks, three tackles and 1.3 for the match, while Jackson Volpato (25 disposals, one marks, seven tackles and a goal) was also in the best for the winners.

Other draftees who played for the Jets were Connor Menadue (15 disposals, one mark and three tackles), Brenton Payne (10 disposals, two marks and two tackles) and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (10 disposals, one mark).

For the Stingrays, future Demon Mitch White was named best-on thanks to 19 disposals, four marks and three tackles, not too far ahead of future Dog Bailey Dale (12 disposals, two marks and six tackles). Jake Lovett (21 disposals, three marks and five tackles) and Blake Mullane (22 disposals, one mark, six tackles and a goal) were others named in the Stingrays best.

Other draftees who took the field for the Stingrays included Tom Lamb (17 disposals, two marks and two tackles), Jack Lonie (13 disposals, two tackles) and bottom agers, Bailey Rice (seven disposals, one mark and three tackles) and Jacob Weitering (13 disposals, four marks – one contested – and four tackles).

By the end of the 2014 season, Western Jets would finish percentage ahead of Dandenong Stingrays – ironically in the same spots they were after this game – in sixth and seventh respectively. It would be the Stingrays to have the last laugh though, defeating the Jets by 15 points in the elimination final, then stunning the second placed Geelong Falcons by a whopping 53 points in the semi-final. Their run came to an end with the Stingrays on the opposite side of that scoreline, going down to Calder Cannons by 53 points in the preliminary final.

Classic Contests: Stingrays hold on in talent-filled clash with Bushrangers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016 when the two teams were locked in an epic tussle at Shepley Oval in mid-August.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 4.1 | 4.2 | 7.7 | 10.8 (68)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.1 | 5.8 | 6.11 | 9.13 (67)

TAC Cup, Round 16 | Saturday, August 13, 2016
Shepley Oval, 2pm

Future draftees:

Dandenong: Hunter Clark (St Kilda), Tom Murphy (North Melbourne), Josh Battle (St Kilda), Lachlan Young (Western Bulldogs), Mitch Riordan (Gold Coast), Myles Poholke (Adelaide),
Murray: Todd Marshall (Port Adelaide), Will Brodie (Gold Coast), Ben Paton (St Kilda), Doulton Langlands (St Kilda), Charlie Spargo (Melbourne), Zach Sproule (GWS), Esava Ratugolea (Geelong), Harry Morrison (Hawthorn)

In a good year for both sides, Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers were set for a Round 16 clash as both teams would be close to full-strength. While the Stingrays were still missing a couple such as top prospect, Luke Davies-Uniacke, the teams would eventually field 14 future AFL draftees – four of which would head to St Kilda – in a top-end talent-filled match.

Coming into the game, Dandenong was leading all-comers with a three per cent gap on second placed Geelong, though the Bushrangers were just two points behind and just marginally a per cent behind the Stingrays. It shaped up to be an absolute epic, and unlike many, the pre-game predictions of the match being a beauty, lived up to expectations.

Dandenong took control early, booting four goals to two in order to take a 12-point lead into quarter time. Starting the game as favourites, particularly on their home deck, the Stingrays looked to take full advantage early in the game. Not to go away quietly, the Bushrangers produced one of the better quarters for the year that the Stingrays had faced, booting three goals to zero – holding their opponents to just one behind – to lead by 12 points at half-time.

Continuing the see-sawing contest, it was Dandenong that regained control in the third term, booting three goals to one, and could have led by even more than their three quarter time advantage of two points. In the premiership quarter, the Stingrays piled on 3.5 to 1.3 and grabbed the lead but were not entirely comfortable. In a thrilling final term, both teams booted three goals, and while the Bushrangers clawed back a point from the deficit, could not hit the front and fell short, 10.8 (68) to 9.13 (67).

Hunter Clark had a day out with a best on performance for the Stingrays thanks to two goals from 13 disposals, three marks and three tackles, while Sam Fowler racked up 26 disposals, two marks and three tackles to be named among the best. Fellow forward, Dan Allsop – who finished second in the Morrish Medal count, booted 2.3 from 19 disposals, three marks and six tackles, while future Roo, Tom Murphy, and Bailey Morrish were also among the best with Nathan Scagliarini (15 disposals, three marks, three tackles and a goal). Of the future draftees to play in the game, Myles Poholke had an impactful performance with 20 disposals and three tackles, while Mitch Riordan (seven disposals, three tackles) and Lachlan Young (14 disposals) also played.

For the Bushrangers, Will Brodie was a star, winning 26 disposals, two marks, eight tackles and booting a goal to be the best player on the ground. Fellow highly-rated prospect and bottom-age talent at that stage, Charlie Spargo had a strong performance of 20 disposals, four marks, four tackles and two goals, while future Port Adelaide tall, Todd Marshall had nine disposals for three marks, three tackles and 3.2. All top six players on the ground for the Bushrangers eventually found their way to AFL homes, with the others being St Kilda duo, Doulton Langlands (20 disposals, two marks, two tackles and one goal) and Ben Paton (21 disposals, five marks – three contested – and three tackles) and Richmond’s Ryan Garthwaite (15 disposals, seven marks and three tackles). Other draftees who played were Harry Morrison (14 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Zach Sproule (12 disposals, four marks and four tackles) and Esava Ratugolea (five touches, two marks, four tackles and 21 hitouts).

Murray would have the last laugh at the end of the season, upsetting the minor premiers in the qualifying final by 26 points as they went on to reach the 2016 TAC Cup Grand Final before going down to Sandringham Dragons. Two weeks earlier, Dandenong would exit in straight sets, booting just four goals in a 61-point loss to the Dragons in the semi-finals.

Classic Contests: Falcons overcome Stephenson-inspired Ranges in Box Hill thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016 when the two teams faced off at Box Hill City Oval.

EASTERN RANGES 4.3 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.7 (85)
GEELONG FALCONS 4.3 | 7.5 | 11.7 | 13.14 (92)

TAC Cup, Round 15 | Sunday, July 31, 2016
Box Hill City Oval, 2pm

Future draftees:

Eastern: Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood), Jordan Gallucci (Adelaide), Dylan Moore (Hawthorn), Josh Begley (Essendon), Trent Mynott (Essendon), Sam Hayes (Port Adelaide)
Geelong: James Worpel (Hawthorn), Gryan Miers (Geelong)

Crossing the West Gate and heading up the Eastern to meet the Ranges at Box Hill, the top of the table Geelong Falcons were strong favourites against a seventh placed Ranges outfit. Despite having a ton of talent – almost 20 draftees over the next two years – Eastern was six wins from 14 games with a number of players unavailable throughout the season. The Falcons also had plenty of top-end talent missing, but the game was not without some future AFL young stars in Jaidyn Stephenson and James Worpel on opposing sides.

Both sides hit it off early with neither team able to be split in the first term. From seven scoring shots, the sides headed into the first break with a 4.3 scoreline each and the knowledge that their opposition was not going to back down. Against the odds it was Eastern that broke clear in the second term. The Ranges piled on five goals, largely helped by the influence of Stephenson up forward, whilst the Falcons booted the three to be trailing by 10 points at the break. Again both sides had the same amount of scoring shots, but the 5.0 to 3.2 in favour of the home side was the difference at half-time.

The ladder leaders would get back on track in the third quarter, booting 4.2 to 2.2 and take a two-point lead by the final break, The stage was set for a ripping last quarter, and while there was only a combined four goals kicked between the sides, the tension was unbelievable. Geelong had the lion-share of disposal, recording nine scoring shots to the Ranges’ four. Whilst inaccuracy could have hurt the Falcons, they did enough to dominate the ball and capitalise where possible with forward 50 possession and eventually got the four points, 13.14 (92) to 13.7 (85) in a tight contest.

Tough midfielder, Max Augerinos was named best for the Falcons with 18 disposals, two marks, six tackles and a couple of goals, just ahead of the Falcons top prospect Worpel. He racked up 17 disposals, two marks and a goal, whilst laying a game-high 19 tackles. Harry Benson (14 disposals, three marks and six tackles) and co-captain Cooper Stephens (14 disposals, two tackles) were also named among the best, as were Zachary Zdybel (21 disposals, eight marks, 19 hitouts, two tackles and a goal) and Patrick Killen (23 disposals, six marks and four tackles).  The other drafted Falcon in Gryan Miers was lively up forward with a goal from 17 disposals, three marks and two tackles.

Despite the loss, Stephenson was the clear best on ground, slotting five goals from 14 touches, four marks – two contested – and four tackles, while Trent Mynott (two goals) was busy with 20 disposals, four marks and four tackles. Future Crow, Gallucci was also among the top Ranges, helping himself to 18 disposals, two marks and four tackles, but gave away five free kicks. Working hard through the ruck, Sam Hayes had 33 hitouts from 18 touches, seven marks – two contested – and two tackles in the defeat, while Tate Short and Billy Norris booted a couple of majors each and were named in the best. Of the other draftees, Dylan Moore (18 disposals, three marks and two tackles) and Josh Begley (16 disposals, three marks and eight tackles) both contributed strongly.

The Falcons would end up finishing second on the TAC Cup ladder and reach a preliminary final but fade away in the second half against Sandringham Dragons. A fortnight earlier, Eastern Ranges would fall two points short of the Dragons on their way to the 2016 TAC Cup premiership.

Classic Contests: Dragons flurry of goals pips Power at Casey

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Sandringham Dragons. In this edition, we wind back the clock only a few years to 2017 when the two teams played out a low-scoring thriller.

GIPPSLAND POWER 0.2 | 3.5 | 3.6 | 4.8 (32)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 5.3 (33)

TAC Cup, Round 12 | Saturday, July 8, 2017
Casey Fields, 1.15pm

Future draftees:

Gippsland: Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide)*, Callum Porter (Western Bulldogs)
Sandringham: Max King (St Kilda)*, Ben King (Gold Coast)*, Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)*, Liam Stocker (Carlton)*, Will Walker (North Melbourne), Nathan Murphy (Collingwood), Joel Amartey (Sydney)

Midway through the 2017 TAC Cup season, premiership contenders Sandringham Dragons met mid-table side Gippsland Power at Casey Fields in Cranbourne with a host of bottom-age talent on display. The Dragons sat fourth with seven wins from 11 games, less than a per cent behind third placed Murray Bushrangers – who were also four points clear – while being just percentage ahead of Dandenong Stingrays in fifth. The Power were back in seventh, two points behind sixth placed Northern Knights, and only percentage – albeit 10 per cent – ahead of eighth placed Eastern Ranges.

The teams would field an eventual five future first round picks, all bottom-agers who would make their way to AFL clubs less than 18 months later. Despite the talent – with plenty of scoring firepower – spectators would witness just nine goals on the day and accuracy becoming the ultimate factor in the Dragons’ one-point win.

Isaac Morrisby would be the only player to find the big sticks from either team in the opening term, as he slotted a goal seven minutes into the contest after the Power had missed a couple of opportunities. The second term was much more lively as Matthew McGannon kicked a major for the Power to regain the lead, only to be countered by future Roo, Will Walker in the 13th minute. Back-to-back goals to the Power through Will Leslie and Jack Hudson handed the home team an important 10-point buffer at the main break.

While the second term had experienced a flurry of goals, the premiership quarter was much the opposite with just two behinds – one to each team – kicked for the entire quarter as the Power retained their 10-point lead.

The fourth term was one of the strangest to see as Leslie converted his second major for the Power to race out to an 18-point lead six minutes in. Neither side looked to make inroads by the final five minutes with Gippsland still leading by 17 points at that point. Few would have predicted that within five minutes, the Dragons would hit the front.

Alfie Jarnstrom, Kai Owens and Max King found the big sticks for the first time since Walker’s goal midway through the second. Whilst the visiting fans had to wait more than 40 minutes between goals, it was worth the wait as the Dragons picked up the slack in red time to pile on the majors. King’s goal with less than 40 seconds remaining saw the Dragons hit the front for the first time since late in the second term and claim a remarkable one-point victory.

Future Western Bulldogs talent, Bailey Smith had a day out with 32 disposals, five marks and 10 tackles, while Geordie Nagle (30 disposals, five marks, nine tackles and nine rebounds) and Jarnestrom (27 disposals – 16 contested – 11 clearances, six tackles, four rebounds and a goal) were also sensational in the win. Walker picked up 24 disposals of his own with three marks, four tackles and a goal, while future Magpies Nathan Murphy continued his rise crossing from cricket with 22 disposals, three marks and six rebounds. Owens was the other 20-plus disposal winner with 20 touches, six tackles and a goal. Of the Dragons other draftees, King had 11 disposals, two marks, four tackles and a goal, while brother Ben was strong in defence with 17 disposals, four marks and five rebounds. Liam Stocker had 15 touches and nine tackles, while Joel Amartey recorded 13 disposals, seven tackles and 25 hitouts roaming through the ruck.

For the Power, the only 2017 AFL Draftee playing in the match from the Power, Callum Porter, had an equal team-high 20 disposals, as well as three marks, 14 tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and two rebounds. Bailey Beck shared the team-high disposals with 20, as well as six tackles and four inside 50s, while McGannon was busy with 19 touches, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and a goal. Future first round draft pick, Xavier Duursma finished with 14 disposals, four tackles, four clearances and three rebounds, while Leslie was the only multiple goal kicker in the match with two majors from 12 touches, three marks and three inside 50s.

Sandringham Dragons would end up reaching the TAC Cup Grand Final before going down to Geelong Falcons, while Gippsland Power finished seventh on the table, and would be humbled by the Falcons two weeks earlier in the elimination final.

Classic Contests: Cannons fire late to survive Devils scare

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides met in Wildcard Round.

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.7 | 6.9 (63)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 2.9 | 6.12 | 7.15 (57)

NAB League Wildcard Round | Sunday August 25, 2019
RAMS Arena, 11am

Future draftees:

Calder: Harrison Jones (Essendon) Sam Ramsay (Carlton), Lachlan Gollant (Adelaide)
Tasmania: Matt McGuinness (North Melbourne)

At the end of the regular season, all sides ranked fourth to 13th were opposed to sides at the opposite ends of the ladder. Very few would have predicted the 12th placed Tasmania Devils to have challenged the fifth placed Calder Cannons. The Cannons had a couple of challenging weeks early in the season, but had really hit form by the second half and come into the pointy end of the season looking the goods. The Devils had been competitive throughout matches, but could not quite get the wins on the board. Despite having to travel across the Bass Strait once again to challenge the Cannons on their home deck, the Devils gave Calder a massive scare and even led at the final break.

With the Wildcard Round treated as effectively an elimination final, there was no turning back when the two sides headed out onto RAMS Arena in late August. Calder’s Daniel Mott was the first one on the scoreboard with a goal six-and-a-half minutes into the match. Defender and future Roo, Matt McGuinness responded a few minutes later to level the scores, something that would indicate just how tight the match would be. A late major to Harrison Jones would separate the sides at the first break, but Tasmania had its fair share of chances with 1.4 from an extra chance to the Cannons.

When Jake Steele booted a goal at the five minute mark of the second term, the Devils had hit the front. But five straight behinds hurt the visiting team as they could, and should have been further ahead at the main break, instead a unlikely major to defender-turned-forward Mason Fletcher with 45 seconds left on the clock tied the scores. In comparison, the Devils had achieved 11 scoring shots to six, but were not able to capitalise on their scoring attempts.

Back-to-back goals to Campbell Edwardes and Fletcher in the first six minutes of the second half had the visiting fans wondering if they had blown their chance. The lead would stretch out to 14 points – the most of the game at any stage. Instead of fading away, Tasmania booted three consecutive goals to go as much as six points up. Yet again however, Calder would have the answer, as Carlton draftee, Sam Ramsay put through a crucial major against the momentum to level the scores again with less than five minutes remaining in the quarter. When the teams looked set to head into the final change level once again, Baynen Lowe found the big sticks and the Devils once again led – albeit by five points.

After both teams booted back-to-back behinds, it was Harrison Minton-Connell who became the home team’s saviour, booting two last quarter goals to give his side a seven-point lead with six minutes remaining in the match. Jeremy O’Sullivan converted with two-and-a-half on the clock and with a 13-point lead it looked near insurmountable. But nobody told the Devils as a quick behind and then goal to Jared Dakin with 22 seconds remaining had them believing. Unfortunately for them, the time ran out by the time the centre square ball up had occurred and the Cannons were home by just six points.

Ramsay was best afield, continuing his ripping second half form with 33 disposals, 11 marks, four clearances and a goal, well supported by Mott (21 touches, five clearances, four tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Ned Gentile (26 disposals, six marks, four clearances and seven inside 50s. Brodie Newman racked up 22 disposals and 12 marks, while Curtis Brown (20 touches, four marks and eight rebounds) and Edwardes (20 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) were instrumental in the back half. Minton-Connell’s last quarter efforts saw him end with 19 disposals, five marks and two goals, while other draftees playing on that day were Adelaide’s Lachlan Gollant (11 disposals, eight marks) and Essendon’s Jones (five disposals, one mark and one goal).

For the Devils, McGuinness was the equal top disposal winner with 25 touches, five marks, three inside 50s, nine rebounds and a goal along with Dakin – playing his first game of the year post-injury – who racked up 25 disposals (12 contested), eight clearances, 10 inside 50s and a goal. Will Peppin (21 disposals, five marks, six tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s) and Jackson Callow (18 disposals, six marks) also won plenty of contested footy, while Harvey Griffiths (14 disposals, five marks and eight inside 50s) found plenty of the ball going forward.

Calder Cannons would go on to win the following week’s elimination final against Dandenong Stingrays before going down to Sandringham Dragons in the semi-finals.

Classic Contests: GIANTS hold off Bushrangers in tight contest

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Murray Bushrangers and GWS GIANTS Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides met for the first official time in the NAB League competition.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 5.7 | 7.7 | 11.11 (77)
GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 4.5 | 6.8 | 8.11 | 12.16 (88)

NAB League Round 6 | Saturday May 4, 2019
Albury Sports Ground, 1pm

In a battle of the border, Murray Bushrangers took on the GWS GIANTS Academy having had a number of players who represented both sides over the years. A perfect example was Nick Murray on the GIANTS’ team as the overage had played for the Bushrangers in defence for the years prior. Heading into the match, neither team had set the world on fire, having both played four games and won just one, with the Bushrangers holding a 12 per cent lead over the GIANTS in 13th to 14th on the NAB League Boys ladder. The two players touted as top 10 picks coming into the match were Bushrangers’ Lachlan Ash and GIANTS’ Tom Green who both would end up in the orange and charcoal by year’s ned.

Green made an early statement with a strong mark and goal two minutes into the contest, in what would be a rare appearance up forward. With Harry Grant converting the first of what would be three majors, the GIANTS raced out to a 13-point lead midway through the quarter before Jimmy Boyer and Hudson Kaak broke the Bushrangers’ drought with back-to-back goals in 90 seconds. The visiting team kicked away again with two goals in the last five minutes to lead by 13 points at quarter time.

The Bushrangers needed a response early, and like Green in the first term, this time is was Ash who stepped up with a big goal to give his team confidence. After a couple of near misses, Boyer booted his second of the game to level the scores. Liam Delahunty and Jye Chalcraft traded goals before Grant found his second and the GIANTS had a seven-point buffer at the main break.

Josh Green and Jeromy Lucas booted the first two goals of the term as the GIANTS dominated the third stanza of the match, leading by as much as 22 points at one stage, with 2.3 to 0.0 on the board. Luckily for the Bushrangers, they managed to grab some momentum back going into the final break as Kaak and Mitchell Holt found the big sticks. With the deficit back to a manageable 10 points, it was well and truly game on in the final term.

GIANTS’ Lucas Conlan kicked the all-important first goal of the term, before Chalcraft capitalised with his second and the margin was back to 13 points. A couple of misses and then a third Grant goal had the GIANTS back out to a 20-point lead with 15 minutes left on the clock. With a scoreline of 10.15 inaccuracy was an issue for the visitors despite the solid advantage. Lachlan Sykes kept the Bushrangers hopes alive with an important goal, but back-to-back misses, this time from Ash and Chalcraft left Murray with some work to do at 11 points down. With seven minutes remaining, Matthew Hamblin booted his second and the game was as good as done with a couple of late goals to Cam Wilson and Boyer either side of Conlan’s second was not enough to get their side over the line.

It was no surprise to see Tom Green at the top of the disposal count with a mammoth 37 touches, 11 clearances, three marks, five tackles, five hitouts, two inside 50s and a goal in a best on ground performance. Lucas was not too far behind with 33 touches, seven marks, five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Ed Perryman picked up 31 disposals, nine marks and six rebounds out of defence. Up forward, Grant booted three majors from 23 touches and eight marks while laying eight tackles, as Liam Delahunty was busy with 21 disposals, seven marks, three tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal. Murray had five rebounds from 10 touches and four marks against his former side, while Conlan and Josh Green both booted multiple goals.

Ash was one of three players to record the most disposals, teaming up with fellow midfielders, Dylan Clarke and Cameron Wild. All three had 27 disposals, and combined for 13 marks and eight clearances. Ash also had the five inside 50s and a goal, while Boyer was the most lively in the forward half with three majors from 22 disposals, five marks and three clearances. Sam Durham (22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s) and Charlie Byrne (20 disposals, three tackles and nine rebounds) also found plenty of the ball, while Chalcraft (14 touches, four marks) and Kaak (eight touches, three marks) booted two goals each.

The win was the GIANTS’ last match in the Academy Series, finishing with a 2-3 record, while the Bushrangers would go on to finish ninth, only to narrowly bow out to Dandenong Stingrays in Wildcard Round.