Tag: Daniel Hanna

AFL Draft preview: Essendon

ESSENDON brought in Dylan Shiel during the off-season which forced their draft hand to be considerably weakened, leaving the Bombers with the second least points of any club –  behind only Hawthorn. They enter the draft at pick 34, and the next pick is 66, followed by 84 and 102 if they choose to use them. It is as much guesswork as anything else at the later point of the draft and will be a little bit of wait and see.
List needs:
  • Explosive inside midfielder
  • Ruck
  • Key position forward
  • Small forwards

Draft selections: 34, 66, 84, 102

It seems to be agreed upon talking to many Bombers supporters that an inside midfielder is the absolute necessity with the club’s first pick in the second round. Preferably if that inside midfielder has some speed out of the contest, all the better. They will arguably look to go tall at some point, with a drifting key position player or ruck, and then most likely best available in any late picks the club has in the draft.

At Pick 34, the Bombers will look and see who is left, with so many possibilities depending on how the clubs ahead of them value players. Essendon might decide to throw a spanner in the works and bid for Connor McFadyen at pick 34, forcing the Lions to match with the very next pick. Of non Academy tied players, Essendon will take a hard look at Calder Cannons co-captain, Jack Bytel, Oakleigh Chargers ball winner, James Rowbottom, or West Australian talent, Sydney Stack. If they are lucky, perhaps a sliding midfielder in Ely Smith or Xavier O’Halloran might be there, with the latter more unlikely than likely.

At the later picks, Essendon might opt for a tall and look at ruckman, Riley Bowman if he is still on the board – given the likelihood of rucks sliding on draft night. Hugo Munn or Hudson Garoni could be there, or perhaps they opt for a more athletic tall in Oscar Chapman or Zane Barzen. Perhaps Dillon O’Reilly – a hybrid of both positions – might come into Essendon’s thinking, or they might end up going with Jake Gasper or Jed Hill who could be late/rookie chances.

In terms of Essendon-tied players, Mason Fletcher has opted not to nominate for the AFL Draft and has instead chosen to play with TAC Cup side, Calder Cannons in 2019. Daniel Hanna attracted some interest with a Rookie Me Combine invitation and could be placed on the list through the rookie draft.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

FOUR teams advanced through to the finals in the Wildcard Round and our writers were on hand to take notes on how some of the combine invitees and Under 17 Futures players went in the knockout weekend.

Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

Started the game really strongly and even though he had the two goals to his name, he could have had more. After starting quietly in the past two weeks, it was great to see him up and about creating space. He was leading hard up at the footy and looked really dangerous. Importantly, he was zipping around inside 50 forcing ground level pressure as well, including acts that would not be recorded on a stats sheet. Faded out of the game in the last term, so is still looking for that four quarter effort, but got the Cannons going early and was still a target in the third term.

#8 Lachlan Sholl

Was under siege in the final term and ended as one of the Cannons best in defence. He had a couple of moments he would want back again such as trying to kick the ball off the ground instead of picking it up late, but when coming off half-back he looked good. Earlier in the game he had an absolute elite pass across his body coming out of defence hitting up a teammate on the wing. Saved a certain Oscar Brownless goal, jumping up on the line and getting finger tips to it as Brownless’ snap sailed through midway through the last term.

#20 Rhylee West

Did not win a truckload of the ball like he can do on some occasions, but had a high impact per possession game. His stoppage work was first class and his ability to move through congestion seamlessly, was a highlight. He kicked a ripping goal off hands at a stoppage to bend it around the post and in, and just has those highlight-worthy moments. Also made sure the likes of Sam Walsh and Ned McHenry knew he was up for the fight, pestering his opposition fellow AFL Academy members.

#23 Daniel Hanna

Returned to the side after some experience with Essendon’s Victorian Football League (VFL) side, and was one of the top players in the first term. His composure and cleanliness at ground level was good, and he took a number of intercept marks dropping into the hole. It also released Lachlan Sholl and the like to play more free with their game-style off half-back. He almost had a horror moment dropping what appeared to be a standard uncontested mark in the final term, but the kick was called back and he would have breathed a sigh of relief. Showed some promising signs in that key defensive post.

#30 Mitch Podhajski

Did not have his most prolific game, but just stands up when he is called to do so. Kicked an early goal in the opening term and provides a target when forward, or a big body around the stoppages in the middle.

#57 Josh Kemp

An exciting talent who looked very good in the opening term, flying for marks and backing up his highlight-worthy moments with good pressure plays. He had just three touches after quarter time, drifting right out of the game, but does have some exciting traits – that vertical leap being one.

 

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

A terrific game from McHenry, possibly his best for the season. He might have had just the 20 touches, but his ability to stand up when the game was on the line and with the Cannons focused on Sam Walsh, McHenry was terrific. He kicked Geelong’s first major of the game and then nailed the first of the final term – the most important of the game because of the balance between the sides with Calder leading by 11. He swung the momentum back in Geelong’s favour, and was fierce around the stoppages and just turned it on in the second half to be a crucial player.

#20 Brayden Ham

Did not have the scoreboard impact he has had in recent weeks, starting in defence then moving forward in the second half – a trend which has become the norm for Ham over the past month in particular. Ham also spent time in the midfield and did not look out of place around the stoppages. He uses the ball well, has a high impact per possession count, and takes the game on with his blistering speed and huge tank. Had a big third term presenting up the ground and had an opportunity to cut the final break deficit to six with a set shot from tight in the pocket, but just missed. Has become an important player in the Falcons’ outfit.

#22 Sam Walsh

Had limited influence compared to past weeks, but you can never keep him down entirely, showing his class on multiple occasions throughout the four quarters. The big thing with Walsh is, when he cannot impact offensively, he gets his hands dirty defensively, and can switch between the roles. He knew he was copping close attention on the weekend, so he turned it back on his opponents and instead laid multiple tackles and had one of his better defensive games. Walsh’s massive tank allows him to cover the ground and run opponents into it, so he managed to still find the pill in each third of the ground.

#30 Oscar Brownless

Booted a couple of goals and played what has become a typical Oscar Brownless game. Not always the cleanest player, but he just works hard time and time again. He was in the thick of the action when Calder let the Falcons know they were up for the fight, and Brownless booted his goals when the game was hot early. It was his tackling pressure that stood out, locking the ball in and restricting his opponents from an easy exit. Had a snap out of nothing to put the Falcons up by six midway through the last term, but it was touched on the line by Lachlan Sholl.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Such a smart player, he is that hybrid forward who leads out, can take strong marks, but is not lost to the contest when it hits the ground. If anything, his best piece of play was a touch that will not get a statistic, but it was a deft tap on to Ned McHenry in the final term who burst away and nailed the all-important first goal of the quarter. Did not have heaps of opportunities, but nailed a terrific set shot goal in the opening term. Had a goal assist in the final term with a nice chip pass to Jay Dahlhaus 15m out rather than having a snap.

#39 Connor Idun

Had a quiet game up forward, while still presenting. Went into the ruck to start the final term and had an immediate impact by contesting at ground level, and his follow-up work earned him a free kick for a tackle on Rhylee West. Finished with the 10 hitouts, using his body well at throw-ins. The highlight for mine was his tackle in the final term on Lucas Cavallaro leading to Charlie Sprague winning the spilled ball and setting up a Jay Dahlhaus goal.

#41 Cooper Stephens

Showed off his spacial awareness and vision in tight with some fantastic deft handballs to teammates on the outside. He has that knack for not overdoing it, and was able to turn on a dime under pressure. The most eye-catching thing about Stephens is his ability to just play within the tempo of the game because he can blaze away and kick long when required, or take weight off the kick and retain possession for his side when it is needed. Kicked a goal in the final term showing his class, with a snap off one step and using pure instinct.

 

Northern Knights vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie

McKenzie brought clean hands to the loose ball and delivered effectively by foot inside 50, having seven effective kicks for the day. McKenzie was unlucky not having his work rewarded through the passage off his seven deliveries inside 50, but regardless his work rate did not waiver. His 20 disposals for the day and 16 uncontested possessions stand as a testament to his ability to cut off the footy (six marks) and create space upfield. Though grabbed a few times, McKenzie did not get dispossessed or brought to ground, withstanding the waves of GWV’s abuse. His invite to the National Combine stands as no surprise when he stand outs as possibly the match’s best player in the losing side.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa positioned well around the stoppages, boasting loads of second efforts. He did his best to clean up some of the sloppy work out of the stoppage, laying tackles in succession in the first half. He finished with four clearances, two inside 50s, three rebounds and tied game high 14 contested possessions (Sam Philp). He was unlucky not to hit his shot at goal around the body, but that seemed to be the theme for the Knights’ day.

GWV:

#14 Jed Hill

Hill kicked the first and only goal for the Rebels in the first quarter off a strong lead into the goal square. He followed it up with a second, kicking off GWV’s 37-point second quarter. Hill’s impact continued up the ground, moving swiftly with the ball and creating space with short, effective kicks. Despite not kicking a goal in the second half, Hill kept a strong forward half presence. He worked well around the contest and took three marks (one contested) for the day. He was unlucky not to kick the day’s best goal after taking the ball and kicking from the boundary on the run. If it was not touched on the line, it would have been his.

#21 Izaac Grant

Took a brilliant intercept mark through the passage in the third, opened the ground and delivered the ball well by foot. His delivery by foot was impressive, picking his man well and hitting them up with short, sharp kicks (7 effective kicks). Despite this efficiency, Grant’s two shots on goal both resulted in behinds. Regardless, he helped create these opportunities, which was something the Knights had a lot of trouble doing. Constantly first to the football, Grant snatched up an impressive eight marks (one contested), getting in front of man with a good burst of speed while showing off strong hands over head. He judged the flight of the footy well, especially those hurried out of their defensive 50.

#24 Matty Lloyd

Lloyd delivered the ball well by foot along the wing, easily breaking down the Knights’ forward trap. Six minutes into the second he found space 45 metres out and landed his first goal. Lloyd’s work by foot was immense, delivering the ball well up the field with 10 effective kicks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and 20 disposals. He was pivotal in creating opportunities at goal, even flexing his own talents in front as well. He boasts good composure despite pressure from the Knight’s forward line. This became more evident in the fourth as he collected the ball off the deck from a poor kick and slotted his second goal for the day.

 

Western Jets vs. Eastern Ranges

Western:

By: Ed Pascoe

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews had a quiet first half but he had one good moment in the first quarter making a nice run and penetrating kick down the line. Andrews started to lift as the team did in the third quarter, he laid a nice tackle and had a few runs on the wing and kicking long effectively on a few occasions. He finished the game well with some nice run around the ground. He had a running shot at goal which he just missed and showed good attack on the contest in the backline winning the hard ball cleanly and dishing off the handball which was a fair effort with the recent rain making the ball harder to handle. Andrews finished with 14 disposals and four inside 50s.

#24 Josh Honey

He has a touch of class with the way he goes about it. Does not need a lot of the ball to have a high impact on the game and is similar to a fellow Jet, in Zak Butters, Can hurt the opposition when he gathers it inside 50, and finished with one goal from 14 disposals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

O’Halloran like his teammates had a quiet first half, but he had a great bit of play late in the first quarter bursting from the stoppage with a penetrating kick, then following up bursting away from the opposition and a nice handball out wide. O’Halloran lifted his side in the third quarter to give his team the lead going into the last quarter, he managed to win the ball inside and outside the contest with a few nice kicks on his opposite foot and some hard ball gets at stoppages getting out of tackles with sheer willpower. His best piece of play came in the last quarter where he was able to drift forward to impact a marking contest he would then follow up with a hard tackle and follow the ball up another 25 metres before getting involved in the attacking chain and kicking back inside 50 on his left foot, this really showed off his desire for the contest. O’Halloran finished with 17 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

#38 Buku Khamis

Khamis took the no-fuss approach to his game against Eastern laying plenty of spoils and only running off when necessary. He took plenty of intercept marks during the game, including one in the last quarter showing great courage coming back with the flight and taking a nice grab. Khamis used the ball well on his trusty left foot often hitting targets long and short. Khamis only had nine disposals but he also had five tackles showing off his fantastic defensive work and he will need to bring that next week with the potential matchup against a dangerous Oakleigh forward.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Radovanovic played a consistent game over the four quarters playing a number of roles for the team in the midfield and down back and up forward. Radovanovic showed plenty of run throughout the game with a few give and gets from the back half and he used his speed to get separation around the ground. Radovanovic has a running shot at goal but missed in the last quarter which involved his trademark dash, a goal would have been reward for effort. Radovanovic finished the game with 15 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

 

Eastern:

By: Michael Alvaro

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

The bottom-ager was industrious as usual in the engine room, extracting from congestion and tackling hard. He was a regular at the stoppages and found most of his ball there, and while he has a good work rate to get there, Stapleton would do well to find more ball on the outside, too. The midfielder finished with 18 disposals and six tackles.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was at his productive best across the day, starting on the wing and zipping around the outside of stoppages to compile 31 quality possessions. While he won a good amount of his own ball, Mellis was most often either a link in the chain or the one to push the ball out into space, receiving handballs 16 times and taking four marks. The bottom-ager was one of the better users on the day too, going at 77 per cent overall, and particularly standing out with his 88% handball efficiency. Mellis’ best moments came when gathering and flicking out handballs quickly, while he also darted a nice kick inbound in the opening term which caught the eye.

#31 James Blanck

It’s rare that Blanck ever troubles the statisticians too heavily, but his impact is more often than not valuable. He started off a little shakily with a dropped mark inside defensive 50, but quickly bounced back to show his composure and excellent decision making – reading the ball well in the air and coming off his man to good effect. His intercept mark in the opening quarter led to a Ranges goal, and Blanck found himself in the right spot to intercept once again in the following term to provide the catalyst for another opportunity. He finished with a nice one on one mark in the final term to cap off a solid, but not perfect day.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Murray:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Jordan Butts

It was a solid outing by the overage forward who was born on the last day of the millennium, despite not hitting the scoreboard. He plays in front and constantly presents on the lead, giving his midfielders an option to lower their eyes to. It saw him take a respectable eight marks from his 18 disposals, proving to possess strong hands on occasions. He is a nice field kick for his size too, hitting Boyer inside 50 earlier in the game with a brilliantly weighted pass. Butts was a tad fumbly at times below his knees, but produced enough moments to suggest he has improved.

#5 Ely Smith

The prolific big-bodied midfielder won a game high 29 disposals and was making his presence known in and around the stoppages as usual. He is incredibly strong and at times is happy to run directly through an opponent, knowing they won’t be able to hold him, instead of attempting to get around. This successful tactic often left Bendigo opponents on their backsides, as Smith forcefully broke through to continue running or release the ball by hand. While his possessions were not always influential or pretty, he has that knack of finding the ball and does all he can to get it forward.

#6 Will Chandler

The bottom-aged New South Welshman still does not turn 17 for a few months, but is showing promising signs in the forward half. He leads to dangerous positions and loves to turn onto his left boot. It could have been a very fruitful day if he was more accurate in front of goal, kicking three behinds, but is coming along nicely and he is one to look out for next year.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen continues to drift in and out of games, but those occasional glimpses of talent are forever making you think what ceiling he possesses and what he can become at the next level. He has natural instincts that you really cannot teach, as shown when he snapped a lovely left foot goal in the first term, movements that are not generally associated with 193cm kids. He kicked a second goal from a well read intercept mark inside 50, but was missing for long periods in between. The talent is there.

#9 Mathew Walker

The GWS Academy prospect generally gives hints of the attributes that are transferrable to the next level, but he displayed those skills on a more consistent basis on Sunday. Whether it was forward or at the stoppages, he had an impact on the game, collecting 21 disposals, seven clearances and most importantly hit the scoreboard with three goals. He has genuine goal sense inside 50, slicing the goals with a snap, inside out banana on the run and a lovely long set shot. He was clean in the contest or at the stoppages, often getting forward of centre and kicking efficiently to scoring positions. While he does not appear to be blessed with great pace, he has a solid frame to grow into and could become a bit of a bargain later in the draft.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash is going to be a player highly sought after in 2019 and did not do anything to hurt that reputation on Sunday. Starting in defence, he got in ball winning positions and made excellent decisions as we’ve become accustomed to. He spent more time forward as the game went on, kicking two goals including a brilliantly crumbed effort in the third term. He is underrated in the air too, taking two contested marks and competing whenever the opportunity presented. Exciting talent.

#16 Nick Murray

The Murray Bushrangers skipper is a tad underrated when discussing the key position defender options for the upcoming draft, despite earning himself a state combine invite. His strength is reading the ball in the air, where he is capable of taking high intercept contested marks as shown twice on Sunday. If he cannot mark the ball, he looks to impact a contest with aggression, generally killing the ball and taking bodies with him. While clubs want their KPDs taller than 193cm these days, he still could have something to offer if he ends up on a list.

#18 Hudson Garoni

The thick-framed key position forward started the game in a lively manner, presenting up to the ball and was often rewarded on the lead. He hit a nice pass inside 50 and looked to be playing a very team oriented role by feeding his teammates as opposed to kicking the goals himself. He took a particularly strong contested intercept in the third term, but drifted out of it a little as time wore on. Still ended up with 18 disposals and seven marks, but was goalless.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

The underage Boyer looks a solid prospect for next year, despite having quiet patches on Sunday. He spent time in defence and forward, getting on the end of a pass inside 50 during the second which he couldn’t convert. He is a really well balanced player and appears a calming influence with ball in hand.

#26 Riley Bice

Starting mostly on the wing, Bice is a player the Bushrangers want with ball in hand. He is an exquisite left foot kick and makes great decisions too. He has good height at 185cm and despite being extremely light, tackles hard as shown in the fourth term. He doesn’t win huge amounts of the ball, but doesn’t have to as he’ll make things happen more often than not. He is an interesting player who probably just needs one big outing to get more clubs on board.

 

Bendigo:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Jye Caldwell

Caldwell was the player most came to see at Ikon Park, with the highly touted midfielder starting the game superbly showing his class with his kicking to teammates advantage and his work by hand often hitting them with speed and precision. He had a nice bit of play in the middle of the ground where he stood up in a tackle and managed to keep his composure and fire out a nice handball. Caldwell looked every bit a first round prospect before injury struck again with another hamstring injury very late in the first quarter, Caldwell had six disposals in the first quarter and looked set for a productive game.

#8 Brodie Kemp

Kemp was left to fill the hole that Caldwell left after his injury, Kemp was the main playmaker for Bendigo showing off his class in the contest. He dropped an easy mark in the first quarter but his spin out of trouble to follow up was sublime, Kemp came off in the second quarter looking wobbly which spelled disaster for Bendigo but he managed to come back and better than ever playing behind the ball using his smarts and play making ability. He showed plenty of dash which was impressive for a bottom age player standing at 193cm, despite one poor kick his kicking was sublime out of defence and his follow up work to try and tackle was admirable. Kemp finished with 23 disposals, eight marks and seven tackles, and he was the clear best player for Bendigo and he looks to be their number one prospect in the 2019 draft.

Weekend Wash-up: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

WILDCARD Round is done and won, and four sides are out of the premiership race. While Geelong Falcons, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets advance to the finals, Calder Cannons, Northern Knights, Eastern Ranges and Bendigo Pioneers seasons are over.

 

Calder Cannons 8.7 (55) defeated by Geelong Falcons 8.8 (56)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

In one of the games of the year, and for a second week in a row, the Geelong Falcons snare a come from behind victory against the Calder Cannons to eliminate them from the finals race. Struggling to capitalise with their scoring shots in the third, the Falcons turned the tables in the final term, kicking three goals to one and winning from an 11-point deficit at the break. The Cannons’ big third quarter effort put them ahead and gave them the largest lead of the game. Neither team was ever out of the race, but in the end, it was a behind and the Falcons’ defensive pressure that snatched away the victory.

Cooper Stephens was instrumental with three rebounds, four inside 50s, five clearances, a game-high 27 disposals and a final quarter goal. Co-captain Sam Walsh finished similarly with four rebounds, three inside 50s, five clearances and 26 disposals racking up an impressive 16 contested possessions. Sam Conway dominated in the ruck with 27 hit outs, beating the Cannons’ total hit outs of 25 on his own. Jay Dahlhaus (16 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and two goals), Oscar Brownless (18 disposals, four clearances and two goals) and Ned McHenry (20 disposals and two goals) impressed in front of goals, with Doyle Madigan (23 disposals, 15 contested, four clearances and two inside 50) also proving very dominating.

Will Jury had a strong performance with a game high 16 contested possessions (19 disposals), three marks (one contested), five clearances and six inside 50s. Lachlan Sholl (23 disposals, six marks, two inside 50s and one clearance), Brodie Newman (13 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Daniel Hanna (16 disposals and seven marks) all presented strong overhead. Curtis Taylor (11 disposals and five marks) and Jake Riccardi (12 disposals, three marks, six hitouts, three clearances and four inside 50s) kicked two goals each, while Jacob Martin (17 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Rhylee West (12 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and one goal) were among the best for the Cannons. 

 

Northern Knights (3.4.22) defeated by Greater Western Victoria Rebels (14.7.91)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Finals are now well and truly over for the Northern Knights after being handed a smashing by the GWV Rebels at MARS Stadium. Though only a point between them come the second quarter, the GWV lifted to produce a 37-point second quarter, with seven shots on goal to two. The third proved just as disappointing for the Knights with just the one point scored for the quarter, summing up a rather dismal performance with 21 scoring shots to seven.

Riely Ranieri’s work in the Rebels’ defensive half was extremely pivotal in their win, racking up 19 disposals (11 contested), four clearances, and seven rebounds. Matt Schnerring boasted a team-high 22 disposals, moving the ball well with three inside 50s and two rebounds, and contributed to their big second quarter with a late goal. Matty Lloyd capped off a solid game with 20 disposals and kicked two big goals, with Scott Carlin close behind on 19 disposals, five clearances and two goals of his own. Jed Hill and Harrison Butler also put two each on the board, while Patrick Glanford (11 disposals, 27 hit outs, four clearances and three inside 50s) performed well in the ruck alongside Darcy McEldrew (18 hitouts).

Despite their poor showing, the Northern Knights still had plenty of strong performers on the day. Sam Philp had a game-high 23 disposals and dominated out of the stoppages with 9 clearances. Philp moved the ball well to collect six inside 50s for the match. Similarly, Tom McKenzie delivered well with his seven inside 50s, showcased his strong hands (six marks) and got a bit of footy with 20 disposals. Adam Carafa (four clearances, two inside 50s, three rebounds), Josh D’Intinosante (three clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds), Jackson Davies (four clearances, four inside 50s and three inside 50s) and Braedyn Gillard (10 contested possessions, three clearances and three inside 50s) also had considerable impacts.

 

Western Jets 12.12 (84) defeated Eastern Ranges 7.4 (46)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets survived an early Eastern Ranges onslaught to claim a 38-point win and earn their spot in the TAC Cup final eight. The sixth-place Jets had every reason to be nervous coming into the game against second-last Eastern given both sides outside of the top eight beat their more fancied counterparts in the previous day’s play, and that fear would have been heightened as the Ranges stormed out to a first half lead. Three first half majors to bottom ager Ben Hickleton put Eastern in good stead, as they put on five straight goals to open the game and kept Western goalless in the second term to hold a 16-point buffer at the main break.

Their run came to a grinding halt once the ball went down to start the third term, as key Western ball-winners Xavier O’Halloran and Morrish Medal runner-up Connor Thar came into the game, with Stefan Radovanovic solid down back and Emerson Jeka providing a target forward of centre. Western jetted into the lead with four goals to none in the third term, and kept their form in the last as they piled on another five to Eastern’s one.

For the winners, O’Halloran (17 disposals, four tackles) stepped up when it counted, while Thar (32 disposals, six tackles, four marks nd one goal) was arguably their best. The Western forward line was dangerous as ever too, with Daniel Pantalleresco and Jeka claiming three majors each, while 23rd man Cassius White was also dangerous, booting two.

In one of Eastern’s better displays, Kye Quirk continued to rack up the possessions with 24 touches, 10 handball receives and six marks, while Joel Burleigh and Xavier Fry were their main ball-winners with 32 touches each. Bottom ager Hickleton also impressed with his three goals, finding himself in good areas inside 50.

The Jets now face an in-form Oakleigh side full of stars in the first week of finals, while Eastern’s season ends on the back of a fighting effort.

 

Murray Bushrangers 9.18 (72) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 6.9 (45)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers rounded out the TAC Cup wildcard round with a comfortable, yet wasteful 27-point win over Bendigo Pioneers. Having been booted out of the top four in the last two rounds, the Bushies looked to have learned a lesson from the previous wildcard games as the favourites broke out to a 22-point lead to open the game, keeping the Pio’s goalless.

To Bendigo’s credit, they didn’t give in and hit back with three goals of their own in the second term to reduce the margin to 12 points at the main break. Neither side could really snatch a good run of momentum, as the buffer stayed at a steady three-four goals going into the final break – with Bendigo’s accuracy (6.4) keeping them within reach in quarters two and three as Murray complied a wasteful 5.8 in comparison.

But the class of Murray proved too much as they held on with a further 1.5 in the fourth quarter to shut out the trying contest and their nagging opposition. Ely Smith continued his good form in the midfield to be named Murray’s best with 29 disposals and six tackles, while Mathew Walker (21 disposals, nine tackles, six marks and three goals) was not far behind. Zane Barzen and Lachlan Ash were the Bushranger’s other multiple goal kickers with two each, with the latter also gathering 20 disposals in a more advanced role.

For Bendigo, Jacob Atley was the clear standout up forward as he collected 21 disposals and marked well while claiming half of his side’s six goals. Liam Marciano was also industrious with his 27 disposals, six tackles and five marks and one goal, while Bailey Henderson (22 disposals and six marks) was also solid. Jye Caldwell also showed some brilliant glimpses before unfortunately injuring his hamstring.

Murray will go on to face the Sandringham side which snatched their top-four spot in what looks like being a tantalising contest.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

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

 

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

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

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

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

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

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

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

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

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

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

THE finals are all but upon us and with most sides fielding arguably their best line-ups for the year in this week’s inaugural Wildcard Round, we should be set for some absolute belters. 

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

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

MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Calder take on the Falcons in the first match-up of the round, with recent additions to the Geelong line-up meaning they pose a serious threat to both the Cannons, and all finals contenders – despite finishing the regular season in a disappointing tenth.

Calder have bolstered a couple of areas with Jesse Taylor and Jacob Martin set to line up in the forward 50, while in-form versatile tall Daniel Hanna will slot straight back into the defensive six after outings with Essendon’s VFL team.

For Geelong, small bottom-age forward Jay Dahlhaus could be a handy inclusion, while Finlay Parish is back to provide some added depth to the midfield. Both are named on an extended bench alongside Chas Karpala, with talented 16-year-old Tanner Bruhn the 23rd man.

Calder Cannons

B: 9. C. Barton, 38. B. Newman, 43. L. Cavallaro
HB: 48. S. Ramsay, 23. D. Hanna, 8. L. Sholl
C: 27. T.  Browning, 30. M.  Podhajski, 35. S.  Graham
HF: 57. J. Kemp, 36. P. Mahoney, 14. J. Taylor
F: 33. J. Evans, 5. C. Taylor, 25. J. Martin
R: 29. J. Riccardi, 20. R. West, 1. D. Mott
Int: 44. N. Gentile, 40. L. Johnson, 51. W. Jury, 10. H. Minton-Connell, 3. I. Moussa, 12. J. O’Sullivan, 52. B. Reddick
23P: 21. H. Jones

In: N. Gentile, D. Hanna, J. Taylor, J. Martin
Out: C. Brown

Geelong Falcons

B: 40. J. Clark, 49. D. Hollenkamp, 7. C. Harris
HB: 20. B. Ham, 31. C. Cartledge, 21. L. Smith
C: 8. E.  McHenry, 6. D.  Madigan, 22. S.  Walsh
HF: 9. B. Morton, 39. C. Idun, 13. H. Whyte
F: 36. C. Sprague, 48. B. Schlensog, 2. S. Torpy
R: 44. S. Conway, 30. O. Brownless, 41. C. Stephens
Int: 1. J. Dahlhaus, 11. C. Karpala, 10. B. Mensch, 34. C. Page, 32. F. Parish, 3. K. Rayner, 42. H. Spiller
23P: 15. T. Bruhn

In: F. Parish, C. Karpala, J. Dahlhaus

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

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

MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The Knights and Rebels were destined to face each other in this eighth vs ninth fixture no matter the results of Round 16. Northern are in good form having knocked off top-eight competition in the last two weeks, and will be looking to gain their third win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) for the year.

They have some serious bottom-age talent to sure up each line, with Ryan Sturgess and Jackson Davies slotting in at half-back, Sam Philp coming into the midfield and forward James Lucente named on an extended bench alongside Charlie Simonsen. They lose the leadership of Mitch Wild and Harrison Grace though, with last round’s debutant Jack House also omitted.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have plenty of changes of their own, with the key one being Scott Carlin replacing Josh Chatfield in the midfield. Plenty of bottom-agers also make up their extended bench, while Cooper Craig-PetersRiley Polkinghorne and Izaac Grant fill spots in the forward and back halves. Also keep an eye on 16-year old key forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who is an exciting mover.

Northern Knights

B: 25. J. Davies, 28. S. Uzelac, 15. O. White
HB: 5. L. Potter, 33. J. Randall, 11. R. Sturgess
C: 30. J.  McInerney, 13. S.  Philp, 4. T.  McKenzie
HF: 24. R. Bowkett, 12. J. Naylor, 17. J. D’Intinosante
F: 3. B. Gillard, 21. M. Baker, 36. K. Yodgee
R: 19. N. Howard, 18. S. Brazier, 8. A. Carafa
Int: 10. B. Bell, 37. K. Brandt, 1. R. Gardner, 27. J. Lucente, 32. I. Rossi, 9. C. Simonsen, 44. C. Wild
23P: 55. J. Boyd

In: R. Sturgess, C. Simonsen, S. Philp, M. Baker, J. Davies, R. Bowkett, J. Lucente
Out: M. Wild, B. Leonard,  H. Grace,  J. House

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

B: 10. J. Lohmann, 18. B. Helyar, 44. R. Polkinghorne
HB: 48. J. Cleaver, 43. J. Wright, 5. H. Jennings
C: 24. M.  Lloyd, 3. S.  Carlin, 30. I.  Wareham
HF: 21. I. Grant, 20. T. Watts, 14. J. Hill
F: 1. C. Craig-Peters, 50. J. Ugle-Hagan, 6. C. Wilson
R: 29. P. Glanford, 7. M. Martin, 2. M. Schnerring
Int: 8. H. Butler, 9. L. Dawson, 41. B. Dodd, 38. I. Ewing, 27. E. Lamb, 47. T. Mahony, 45. D. McEldrew
23P: 26. R. Ranieri

In: H. Butler, C. Craig-Peters, B. Dodd, I. Grant, I. Ewing, R. Polkinghorne, S. Carlin
Out: L. Herbert, J. Chatfield, A. Gove, J. Henderson

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 11:00am

IKON Park, Carlton North

Eastern will be coming into this clash with a spring in their step, having pushed top-four side Gippsland hard in the previous round. They showed some good moments of footy and will hoping to bring that same intensity against the Jets. Still, Western have stars on every line in their side and will be hard to beat.

The Jets have brought over-ager Jack Papachatzakis into the starting line-up to replace Jaden Rice in defence, while bottom-ager Cassius White has been named as their 23rd man. The remaining ins make up an extended bench featuring Jack Watkins, with depth the key to their inclusions.

The Ranges look to have included some exciting bottom-age prospects, with Chayce Black and Lucas Vassis named on the bench, while Jayden Weichard slots into defence and bite-sized Kyle Crosby is in as their 23rd player.

Western Jets

B: 15. M. Hearne, 37. H. Murphy, 28. J. Papachatzakis
HB: 48. A. Britten, 38. B. Khamis, 6. L. Rocci
C: 17. D.  Andrews, 12. C.  Thar, 24. J.  Honey
HF: 20. D. Cassar, 31. E. Jeka, 2. T. Rudic
F: 10. S. Kyriazis, 45. A. Clarke, 49. D. Pantalleresco
R: 47. D. Walters, 39. S. Radovanovic, 33. X. O’Halloran
Int: 13. D. Bolkas, 18. B. Colley, 1. L. Failli, 25. S. Johnson, 22. O. Manton, 26. W. Smyth, 7. J. Watkins
23P: 16. C. White

In: D. Bolkas, B. Colley, J. Papachatzakis, C. White, W. Smyth
Out: N. Ellis, C. Raak, J. Rice

Eastern Ranges

B: 37. J. Weichard, 59. J. Nathan, 45. M. Zalac
HB: 23. X. Fry, 31. J. Blanck, 24. K. Quirk
C: 30. T.  Edwards, 7. L.  Stapleton, 11. M.  Mellis
HF: 2. A. Kalcovski, 18. B. McCormack, 19. J. Kritopoulos
F: 40. D. Brereton, 65. B. Hickleton, 9. J. Duffy
R: 58. R. Smith, 57. C. Leon, 8. J. Burleigh
Int: 10. C. Black, 1. B. Bredin, 27. J. Jaworski, 64. Z. Pretty, 22. C. Quirk, 25. L. Vassis, 46. B. White
23P: 43. K. Crosby

In: L. Vassis, J. Weichard, J. Jaworski, K. Crosby, C. Black
Out: R. Clausen, W. Parker

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 1:30pm

IKON Park, Carlton North

The final game of the round pits fifth placed Murray against bottom-placed Bendigo in an all-Country clash, with both sides coming off losses in the final round of the regular season.

The Bushrangers have brought in Floyd Bollinghaus to replace ruck giant Ben Kelly, while also solidifying their defence with Rory Quinn and Tom Boyd slotting into the 22. Star forward Zane Barzen also returns, and will look to continue his dangerous partnership with Hudson Garoni.

For Bendigo, Connor O’Shea comes in on the wing, with the likes of bottom-ager Logan Fitzgerald making up an extended bench alongside Alex Smith-Ralph and Will Allen. The Pioneers have also been dealt a couple of untimely blows, with Noah Wheeler out of the side, joined by Braydon Vaz. Many will be keen to see if star midfielder Jye Caldwell can impress and push for top-25 selection, having returned to competition in the last couple of weeks.

Murray Bushrangers

B: 11. E. Adams, 59. L. Fiore, 15. R. Quinn
HB: 12. L. Ash, 16. N. Murray, 34. T. Boyd
C: 55. R.  Paradzayi, 5. E.  Smith, 53. C.  Wilson
HF: 7. Z. Barzen, 2. J. Butts, 6. W. Chandler
F: 26. R. Bice, 18. H. Garoni, 13. B. Frauenfelder
R: 35. F. Bollinghaus, 9. M. Walker, 38. D. Clarke
Int: 19. J. Boyer, 20. J. Bradshaw, 1. W. Christie, 10. P. Warner
Emg: 50. K. Davies, 33. F. Ellis, 40. N. Irvine
23P: 58. E. Hollands

In: F. Bollinghaus, T. Boyd, J. Bradshaw, R. Quinn, Z. Barzen
Out: B. Kelly, H. Kaak, D. Harrington, L. Walker

Bendigo Pioneers

B: 21. D. Loveridge, 24. N. McHugh, 49. O. Perez
HB: 25. F. Perez, 18. B. Henderson, 58. J. Tillig
C: 26. C.  O’Shea, 8. B.  Kemp, 51. B.  Waasdorp
HF: 55. C. Fisher, 20. J. Schischka, 3. L. Marciano
F: 16. J. Atley, 54. M. Christensen, 1. M. Goodwin
R: 36. A. Gundry, 4. J. Caldwell, 43. H. Lawrence
Int: 53. W. Allen, 52. L. Bond, 15. L. Caccaviello, 60. L. Fitzgerald, 57. A. Smith-Ralph
23P: 50. N. Kay

In: A. Smith-Ralph, W. Allen, C. O’Shea, L. Fitzgerald, J. Tillig, L. Bond
Out: S. Conforti, N. Wheeler, J. Williams, J. McHale, B. Vaz

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 16

THE final round of the TAC Cup is here and for four sides, it will be the last round before a week off ahead of finals. Three sides – Sandringham Dragons, Oakleigh Chargers and Murray Bushrangers – are battling for the last two positions in the top four, while there are still plenty of moves that could happen lower down the ladder.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 10.30am Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

The first clash of the weekend is one that will determine the games that follow. A Sandringham Dragons outfit will be breathing fire after going down to an impressive Oakleigh Chargers side last week, and will want to make amends through knocking off the minor premiers, Dandenong Stingrays. A win for the Dragons will lock away third spot, while a loss leaves them at the mercy of other results. Oakleigh Chargers play bottom four side Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, while Murray Bushrangers go head-to-head with Northern Knights, and if both are victorious, the Dragons drop to fifth. Dandenong are close to full strength, with about 15 of its 17 combine invitees in the extended side. They will miss Riley Bowman, but with plenty of talls to cover, the bigger loss is on the Dragons side with captain Bailey Smith still out. Liam Stocker was strong on the inside last week but needed an extra hand or two in there, and the return of Samuel Forbes will see Ryan Byrnes and Darcey Chirgwin able to focus their efforts on the inside. Though Dandenong’s midfield does not have the star power of Oakleigh, it bats deep and can hurt you in multiple ways. If the Stingrays can contain Ben King and limit the inside 50s, then they will go a long way to victory, but they cannot afford to miss gettable shots at goal like they did against the Geelong Falcons last week. Bailey Williams and Campbell Hustwaite were among the Stingrays best last week, and with Jai Taylor and Zac Foot on the outside, expect a good contest here.  

GEELONG FALCONS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 11.30am MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Unless Western Jets go down to Bendigo Pioneers, this will be a pre-cursor for the Wildcard Round clash a week later. Both teams are dangerous when at full strength, and Geelong’s wildcard forward, Charlie Sprague will help to add another dimension inside 50. With fellow National AFL Draft Combine invitees, Connor IdunSam Walsh and Ned McHenry also able to rotate through the area it will make for an exciting spectacle. Geelong lost no fans after a really strong effort against the Stingrays last week, and will be looking to continue that form against the Cannons here. Calder looked dangerous inside 50 with Josh Kemp and Jake Riccardi leading the way against Eastern Ranges last week, and will look to stretch the Falcons’ defence. Curtis Taylor, Rhylee West and Mitch Podhajski have a three-way rotation through the midfield, forward line and interchange with short bursts enabling them to impact on the contest. All three will be crucial in determining how deep the Cannons go in finals, and with Daniel Hanna returning to the defence, and Lucas Cavallaro and Lachlan Sholl providing good rebound out of that back half, Calder will look to springboard out of defensive 50 and play smart football to their tall forwards.  

GIPPSLAND POWER v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 2pm Morwell Recreation Reserve, Morwell

An imposing Gippsland Power outfit hosts Eastern Ranges in a game that realistically does not mean much in terms of finals, but will serve as a way for both sides to end their regular seasons on a high. The Power have locked up second spot and earned a week off, while Eastern will head to the Wildcard Round all but certain to face the Western Jets. Unless the Pioneers upset the Jets, the Ranges will face either the Dragons, Chargers or Bushrangers. With Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders returning to the side, the Power should take care of business in this one. They did what they had to against the Bushrangers last week, and are back at home for their last Morwell game of the year. In front of a home crowd they will show off their incredible depth, particularly for next year, while captain Xavier Duursma and the in-form Noah Gown will prepare to be key cogs in their finals campaign. The Ranges looked good in the second term against Calder, with the breeze, but did not capitalise on their opportunities in front of goal, which they will need to do in this game if they are to stand a chance of the upset. They also have a number of talented bottom-agers who form a good nucleus through the midfield with Mitch Mellis and Lachlan Stapleton strong contributors, while top-age defender James Blanck will look to nullify Gown in one of the crucial match-ups on the day.  

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 2pm MARS Stadium, Ballarat

It will take some effort for the GWV Rebels to cause an upset in this one, and that is nothing against the Rebels, but the Chargers are on fire at the moment. They dismantled the highly rated Sandringham Dragons and beat them at their own game. With a large amount of draftable talent, and a top four spot on the line, Oakleigh will not take the foot off the pedal in this game. The Rebels played arguably their best game of the year aside from perhaps the Geelong Falcons win earlier in the year, with most of their side out due to St Patrick’s playing in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final. They regain most of their best 22 for the game, gaining outside run and greater depth up forward, and need to realistically win the midfield battle if they are to cause an upset. Charlie Wilson and Jed Hill were in ripping form last week, as was bottom-ager Mitch Martin, and Tylar Watts contributing a couple of goals returning to the side as a tall forward. Will Kelly did well against Ben King when they did get the chance to face-off in defensive 50, while Jack Ross, James Rowbottom and Will Golds were among the top-age brigade which racked up the ball. Bottom-agers Trent Bianco, Dylan Williams and Noah Anderson loom as danger players, while Matty Lloyd and Patrick Glanford are among those back in who should impact the contest.  

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 16 – Sunday, August 26, 1pm Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta

Depending on Saturday’s results, this could either be a live contest that seriously shakes up the top eight, or two sides that are locked into their spots on the table. The Knights cannot move from eighth – aside from dropping to ninth if the Rebels win, but will play them in the Wildcard Round anyway – while Murray will be playing for a top four spot if one of Sandringham or Oakleigh lose, otherwise they cannot move either way from fifth. With top four on the line you would expect the Bushrangers to come out firing, and despite the loss of Jye Chalcraft, they regain Ely Smith from state league duties who will be crucial against the big-bodied Northern midfielders. Both sides are not afraid to have a crack, and with the home ground advantage, Murray will look to get it long to Hudson Garoni and Zane Barzen who will be keen to hit the scoreboard. Joel Naylor booted four goals in a low-scoring game against Western Jets last weekend, while Josh D’Intinosante always looks dangerous inside 50. With the speed of Lachlan Potter off half-back, the Knights will back themselves in to win this contest and prepare for next week, likely at the same ground. Murray’s defence was good for the most part last week, and Nick Murray and Lachlan Ash will look to back up last week’s effort with a similar showing here.  

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 16 – Sunday, August 26, 1pm Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo

In the final game of the round, bottom of the table Bendigo Pioneers take on Western Jets, in a game that might not end up having much bearing on the finals race, but will be important for Western if indeed Calder get up against Geelong. It would mean the Jets drop to seventh and face the Falcons instead of the Eastern Ranges, with Geelong showing it has the capability to match it with the best as per its game against Dandenong last weekend. The Jets just needed a bit more finishing class, missing opportunities in the final quarter against Northern, narrowly missing out on the four points in that game. Leaders Jye Caldwell and Xavier O’Halloran return for their respective teams, in what adds extra interest in the clash given Caldwell has been out of football for the most part. With the home ground advantage, the Pioneers will be hoping to cause an upset and hand Eastern the spoon with a victory, while the Jets will look to cause headaches with the run of Stefan Radovanovic and Daly Andrews getting the ball forward to their array of small forwards. Brodie Kemp and Noah Wheeler both impressed last week for the Pioneers and will be key cogs in the game if Bendigo are to finish the regular season with a win. Victory also means they potentially avoid Sandringham Dragons in the Wildcard Round.

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Round 16

AFTER a long and exciting season of TAC Cup action, the final round of the competition is here, and there are some huge inclusions. It appears a number of players racing against time to be back for finals are returning, with Jye Caldwell, Charlie Sprague and Mitch Riordan all back into their respective teams in what is a finals-defining round of action from the first game.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 10.30am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

The first game of the round sets in motion the rest of the finals-defining clashes, with the third placed Sandringham Dragons looking to lock up a top four spot. They have made at least two changes, with bottom-agers Finn Maginness and Miles Bergman heading out of the 22, while forward Jack Denborough and midfielder Samuel Forbes are among five inclusions in an extended team, however captain Bailey Smith is still on the sidelines. For the Stingrays, they welcome back Mitch Riordan, Jake Frawley and Corey Ellison to an extended bench, in what is arguably just Riley Bowman away from being full strength.

Sandringham Dragons

B: 18. A. Seaton, 69. C. Watts, 48. J. Worrell
HB: 74. H. Reynolds, 52. C. Dean, 2. A. Richards
C: 19. S.  Forbes, 72. D.  Chirgwin, 53. H.  Ralphsmith
HF: 17. J. Denborough, 33. W. Kennedy, 11. N. Stamatis
F: 70. J. Bell, 29. B. King, 23. A. Hanrahan
R: 28. J. Rendell, 7. L. Stocker, 66. R. Byrnes
Int: 64. L. Butler, 3. T. Fogarty, 41. J. Goddard, 35. G. Grey, 12. C. Jones, 61. F. McAsey, 25. O. McMaster
23P: 38. J. Le Grice

In: J. Denborough, C. Jones, S. Forbes, J. Goddard, O. McMaster
Out: F. Maginness,  M. Bergman

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 12. M. Gahan, 56. M. Cumming, 41. L. Stenning
HB: 58. W. Hamill, 32. D. Frampton, 10. L. Young
C: 9. Z.  Foot, 23. C.  Hustwaite, 27. L.  McDonnell
HF: 49. M. Cottrell, 29. B. Williams, 7. J. Taylor
F: 17. F. Bayne, 59. S. Sturt, 15. T. Bedford
R: 28. B. Schmidt, 2. H. Young, 16. J. Frawley
Int: 31. H. Briggs, 36. S. Cumming, 52. C. Ellison, 1. S. Fletcher, 45. L. Goonan, 3. J. Plumridge, 18. M. Riordan, 44. C. Weightman
23P: 39. J. Toner

In: J. Frawley, M. Riordan, L. Stenning, C. Ellison, J. Toner

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 11.30am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

It has been a long time coming, but Charlie Sprague is back in Geelong colours after a long lay-off due to injury. He returns to the side along with four others on an extended bench, while the injured Jay Dahlhaus, and Bailey Scott are both out of the side. Impressive 16 year-old Tanner Bruhn holds his spot as the 23rd player after a solid debut last week. For the Cannons, a number of St Bernard’s players return back to the side, with best on ground in the Herald Sun Shield decider, Brodie Newman, among a number of key ins, with Lachlan Sholl, Daniel Hanna and Will Jury all back, while Jake Firebrace and Ben Rigoni are among five confirmed outs for the match.

Geelong Falcons

B: 40. J. Clark, 49. D. Hollenkamp, 7. C. Harris
HB: 20. B. Ham, 31. C. Cartledge, 21. L. Smith
C: 8. E.  McHenry, 6. D.  Madigan, 22. S.  Walsh
HF: 9. B. Morton, 39. C. Idun, 13. H. Whyte
F: 36. C. Sprague, 48. B. Schlensog, 2. S. Torpy
R: 44. S. Conway, 30. O. Brownless, 41. C. Stephens
Int: 37. B. Campi, 11. C. Karpala, 10. B. Mensch, 34. C. Page, 32. F. Parish, 3. K. Rayner, 42. H. Spiller
23P: 15. T. Bruhn

In: C. Sprague, C. Karpala, L. Smith, B. Campi, H. Spiller
Out: J. Dahlhaus,  B. Scott

Calder Cannons

B: 9. C. Barton, 38. B. Newman, 43. L. Cavallaro
HB: 35. S. Graham, 23. D. Hanna, 8. L. Sholl
C: 27. T.  Browning, 30. M.  Podhajski, 48. S.  Ramsay
HF: 51. W. Jury, 29. J. Riccardi, 57. J. Kemp
F: 10. H. Minton-Connell, 36. P. Mahoney, 5. C. Taylor
R: 21. H. Jones, 1. D. Mott, 20. R. West
Int: 33. J. Evans, 40. L. Johnson, 25. J. Martin, 3. I. Moussa , 12. J. O’Sullivan, 52. B. Reddick, 14. J. Taylor
23P: 56. C. Brown

In: P. Mahoney, W. Jury, L. Johnson, J. O’Sullivan, D. Hanna, J. Taylor, L. Sholl, B. Newman
Out: T. Cartwright, S. Shorten, L. Sultana, B. Rigoni, J. Firebrace

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 2pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve, Morwell

Over in Morwell, Gippsland has welcomed back a couple of big inclusions, as AFL Academy members and Vic Country representatives, Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders return to the side. They are among six inclusions, along with ruck Rylan Henkel, who are added to an extended team. Meanwhile the injured Fraser Phillips heads out along with Luke Williams and Zac Skinner. Eastern has also rolled the dice at the selection table, with Tyler Edwards and Riley Clausen among seven inclusions, while Lachlan Gawel and Chayce Black are two of four confirmed outs.

Gippsland Power

B: 12. B. Smith, 25. K. Reid, 15. R. Sparkes
HB: 18. M. McGannon, 14. T. Hourigan, 7. B. Patterson
C: 8. B.  Beck, 6. R.  Baldi, 29. B.  Motton
HF: 9. I. Mosquito, 23. N. Gown, 20. H. Neocleous
F: 4. S. Flanders, 16. J. Smith, 11. A. Hodge
R: 22. R. Henkel, 2. C. Serong, 5. X. Duursma
Int: 36. M. Bentvelzen , 10. L. Connolly, 13. N. Lowden, 24. B. Maslen, 37. H. Pepper, 39. M. Ryan, 35. J. van der Pligt
23P: 41. W. Anderson

In: M. Ryan, R. Henkel, B. Maslen, C. Serong, H. Neocleous, S. Flanders
Out: F. Phillips,  L. Williams,  Z. Skinner

Eastern Ranges

B: 1. B. Bredin, 59. J. Nathan, 19. J. Kritopoulos
HB: 8. J. Burleigh, 31. J. Blanck, 23. X. Fry
C: 2. A.  Kalcovski, 7. L.  Stapleton, 11. M.  Mellis
HF: 40. D. Brereton, 45. M. Zalac, 46. B. White
F: 4. R. Clausen, 65. B. Hickleton, 9. J. Duffy
R: 18. B. McCormack, 24. K. Quirk, 57. C. Leon
Int: 3. H. Chinn, 43. K. Crosby, 30. T. Edwards, 27. J. Jaworski, 64. Z. Pretty, 22. C. Quirk, 58. R. Smith
23P: 56. W. Parker

In: M. Zalac, R. Clausen, T. Edwards, B. White, B. Hickleton, K. Crosby, Z. Pretty
Out: J. Sullivan, T. Hallett-Tauali’i, L. Gawel, C. Black

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 2pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

In the second game at MARS Stadium, the GWV Rebels have brought in 11 players to an extended side after the return of the St Patrick’s contingent. Elliott Lamb, Matty Lloyd, Lochie Dawson and Josh Chatfield are back into the side, while bottom-agers Ben Dodd, Isaac Wareham and Patrick Glanford also return, as Under 16s talent Jamarra Ugle-Hagan makes his debut. For Oakleigh, they have just brought two players into the team, with Charlie Beasley and Zac Hart returning, and are yet to decide on the 23rd player.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

B: 10. J. Lohmann, 18. B. Helyar, 26. R. Ranieri
HB: 48. J. Cleaver, 43. J. Wright, 5. H. Jennings
C: 19. J.  Henderson, 6. C.  Wilson, 24. M.  Lloyd
HF: 12. A. Gove, 20. T. Watts, 27. E. Lamb
F: 14. J. Hill, 45. D. McEldrew, 2. M. Schnerring
R: 29. P. Glanford, 47. T. Mahony, 7. M. Martin
Int: 11. J. Chatfield, 9. L. Dawson, 41. B. Dodd, 16. E. Harvey, 49. L. Herbert, 44. R. Polkinghorne, 30. I. Wareham
23P: 50. J. Ugle-Hagan

In: E. Lamb, B. Dodd, L. Herbert, J. Ugle-Hagan, R. Polkinghorne, M. Lloyd, L. Dawson, I. Wareham, J. Chatfield, J. Lohmann, P. Glanford
Out: H. Butler,  T. Shannon,  M. Burgess,  I. Ewing,  M. Clarke,  B. Annett,  C. Heard,  C. Hinkley

Oakleigh Chargers

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

In: C. Beasley, Z. Hart

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 16 – Sunday, August 26, 1pm
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta

By the time their game rolls around, Murray Bushrangers will know if a top four spot is on the line. Expect them to hit the ground running with Ely Smith returning back to the team after a successful run with Collingwood’s Victorian Football League (VFL) side. Ben Kelly is also in, replacing Floyd Bollinghaus, while agile bottom-ager Jye Chalcraft will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. For the Knights, they welcome back Mitch and Cam Wild, Harrison Grace and Kobe Brandt among eight players on an extended bench, while Ryan Sturgess, Sam Philp and James Lucente are among five outs from their Round 15 side.

Murray Bushrangers

B: 11. E. Adams, 59. L. Fiore, 55. R. Paradzayi
HB: 12. L. Ash, 16. N. Murray, 10. P. Warner
C: 26. R.  Bice, 5. E.  Smith, 45. D.  Harrington
HF: 7. Z. Barzen, 2. J. Butts, 13. B. Frauenfelder
F: 6. W. Chandler, 18. H. Garoni, 53. C. Wilson
R: 3. B. Kelly, 9. M. Walker, 19. J. Boyer
Int: 1. W. Christie, 38. D. Clarke, 33. F. Ellis, 36. L. Walker
23P: 58. E. Hollands

In: E. Hollands, B. Kelly, L. Walker, E. Smith
Out: F. Bollinghaus,  N. Amery,  J. Chalcraft,  W. Mack

Northern Knights

B: 9. C. Simonsen, 33. J. Randall, 22. M. Wild
HB: 5. L. Potter, 28. S. Uzelac, 15. O. White
C: 30. J.  McInerney, 36. K.  Yodgee, 38. B.  Nikolovski
HF: 1. R. Gardner, 12. J. Naylor, 3. B. Gillard
F: 17. J. D’Intinosante, 21. M. Baker, 7. H. Grace
R: 19. N. Howard, 18. S. Brazier, 8. A. Carafa
Int: 10. B. Bell, 24. R. Bowkett, 37. K. Brandt, 20. P. Della Rocca, 46. J. House, 32. I. Rossi, 44. C. Wild
23P: 55. J. Boyd

In: M. Wild, C. Wild, H. Grace, B. Bell, I. Rossi, J. House, K. Brandt, B. Nikolovski
Out: R. Sturgess, S. Philp, J. Davies, J. Lucente, J. Trudgeon

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 16 – Sunday, August 26, 1pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo

Depending on other results, this might be a dead rubber by the time it rolls around, but both Bendigo Pioneers and Western Jets will be keen to finish off the regular season with a victory. Jye Caldwell is a massive inclusion for the home team, playing just his second game of the season having returned from concussion sustained at school football and a hamstring injury this year. He returns along with five others players, including Lucas Caccaviello and Deklan Loveridge, while Riley Ironside and Daniel Clohesy are among four outs for the match. For the Jets, captain Xavier O’Halloran returns from winning the Herald Sun Shield with St Bernard’s, while Lachlan Pettigrove and Nathan Ellis are among the six players named in the extended team. Josh Kellett, Will Smyth and Eddie Ford are the three confirmed outs from Western’s loss to Northern last weekend.

Bendigo Pioneers

B: 41. B. Vaz, 24. N. McHugh, 2. J. Williams
HB: 16. J. Atley, 18. B. Henderson, 49. O. Perez
C: 3. L.  Marciano, 8. B.  Kemp, 25. F.  Perez
HF: 50. N. Kay, 20. J. Schischka, 51. B. Waasdorp
F: 55. C. Fisher, 36. A. Gundry, 43. H. Lawrence
R: 54. M. Christensen, 4. J. Caldwell, 5. N. Wheeler
Int: 15. L. Caccaviello, 1. M. Goodwin, 21. D. Loveridge, 33. J. McHale, 28. C. Vick, 31. B. Worme
23P: 47. S. Conforti

In: L. Caccaviello, J. Caldwell, N. Kay, D. Loveridge, C. Vick, B. Worme
Out: R. Ironside,  D. Clohesy,  J. Treacy,  S. O’Farrell

Western Jets

B: 48. A. Britten, 37. H. Murphy, 25. S. Johnson
HB: 15. M. Hearne, 38. B. Khamis, 6. L. Rocci
C: 17. D.  Andrews , 33. X.  O’Halloran, 20. D.  Cassar
HF: 24. J. Honey, 31. E. Jeka, 12. C. Thar
F: 10. S. Kyriazis, 45. A. Clarke, 49. D. Pantalleresco
R: 47. D. Walters, 39. S. Radovanovic, 36. J. Rice
Int: 32. N. Ellis, 1. L. Failli, 22. O. Manton, 28. J. Papachatzakis, 30. L. Pettigrove, 2. T. Rudic, 7. J. Watkins
23P: 26. C. Raak

In: L. Pettigrove, X. O’Halloran, N. Ellis, C. Raak, L. Failli, A. Britten
Out: E. Ford, J. Kellett, W. Smyth

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 15

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

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

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

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

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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

 

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

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

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

 

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

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

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

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

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

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

Draft dream not over for 2018 state combine nominees

MORE than one hundred draft hopefuls will test themselves under the watchful eye of AFL club recruiters at the various State Combine’s around the country. After the list of National Combine invitations was released last week – indicating those players with the most draft interest – last night the full list of State Combine, and Rookie Me Combine lists were released.

EIGHTY INVITED TO NATIONAL DRAFT COMBINE

A total of 126 players were nominated for the combines, with Vic Country having 26 players nominated, ahead of South Australia with 24, and Western Australia and Vic Metro with 21 each. It has also proved a bumper year for the Victorian Football League (VFL) with 13 players nominated to test, behind the four Division One states. New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) has eight players nominated, the highest of the Division Two states, while Queensland has seven, and Northern Territory three and Tasmania three.

In terms of individual clubs, Dandenong Stingrays trumps all others, having 12 nominees, making it 17 players heading to testing in 2018. Murray Bushrangers is next with seven, followed by Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers (six), as well as South Australian club Norwood. Fellow South Australian club South Adelaide, West Australian clubs Peel Thunder and Swan Districts, and Sandringham Dragons, all have four nominees. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Sturt, South Fremantle and Claremont have three apiece. In terms of Academies, the GWS Academy had six players nominated, Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions Academies both had three, and Sydney Swans Academy had one.

 

Full list of State Combine nominations:

NSW/ACT: [6]

Riley Bice (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)
Jeromy Lucas (GWS Giants Academy)
Nick Murray (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)
James Peatling (GWS Giants Academy)
Guy Richardson (GWS Giants Academy)
Mathew Walker (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)

Northern Territory: [2]

Michael Mummery (NT Thunder)
Izaak Wyatt (Southern Districts)

Queensland: [4]

Caleb Graham (GC Suns Academy) 
Darcy Marsh (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Tom Matthews (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Lachlan McDonald (GC Suns Academy)

South Australia: [24]

Finn Betterman (Glenelg)
Connor Bristow (Norwood)
Chris Burgess (West Adelaide)
Declan Carmody (Glenelg)
Kade Chandler (Norwood)
Oscar Chapman (North Adelaide)
Tate Coleman (South Adelaide)
Jacob Collins (Norwood)
Job Colwell (South Adelaide)
Tobin Cox (Glenelg)
Darcy Fort (Central District)
Martin Frederick (Woodville-West Torrens)
Nathan Kreuger (South Adelaide)
Tom Lewis (Sturt)
Mihail Lochowiak (Sturt)
Tyler Martin (Norwood)
Aaron Nietschke (Central District)
Matthew Nunn (Norwood)
Kai Pudney (Woodville West Torrens)
Isaac Saywell (Norwood)
Jake Tarca (South Adelaide)
Casey Voss (Sturt)
Callum Wilkie (North Adelaide)
Boyd Woodcock (North Adelaide)

Tasmania: [1]

Rhyan Mansell (North Launceston)

VFL: [8]

Jake Aarts (Richmond VFL)
Brett Bewley (Williamstown)
Sam Collins (Werribee)
Will Hayes (Footscray VFL)
Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)
Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL)
Ethan Phillips (Port Melbourne)
Corey Rich (Frankston)

Vic Country: [21]

Jacob Atley (Bendigo Pioneers)
Stephen Cumming (Dandenong Stingrays)
Sam Fletcher (Dandenong Stingrays)
Matthew Gahan (Dandenong Stingrays)
Hudson Garoni (Murray Bushrangers)
Noah Gown (Gippsland Power)
Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons)
Jed Hill (GWV Rebels)
Austin Hodge (Gippsland Power)
Zane Keighran (Bendigo Pioneers)
Matty Lloyd (GWV Rebels)
Lachlan McDonnell (Dandenong Stingrays)
Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong Stingrays)
Finbar O’Dwyer (Murray Bushrangers)
Jamie Plumridge (Dandenong Stingrays)
Mitch Riordan (Dandenong Stingrays)
Bailey Schmidt (Dandenong Stingrays)
Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays)
Jai Taylor (Dandenong Stingrays)
Charlie Wilson (GWV Rebels)
Lachlan Young (Dandenong Stingrays)

Vic Metro: [18]

Frank Anderson (South Croydon)
Joseph Ayton-Delaney (Oakleigh Chargers)
Atu Bosenavulagi (Oakleigh Chargers)
Kyle Dunkley (Oakleigh Chargers)
Mason Fletcher (Calder Cannons)
Xavier Fry (Eastern Ranges)
Jake Gaspar (Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Graham (Calder Cannons)
Harry Houlahan (Sandringham Dragons)
James Jordan (Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons)
Justin McInerney (Northern Knights)
Mitchell Podhajski (Calder Cannons)
Stefan Radovanovic (Western Jets)
James Rendell (Sandringham Dragons)
Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons)
Alistair Richards (Sandringham Dragons)
Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers)

Western Australia: [21]

Jason Carter (Peel Thunder)
Dylan Curley (East Fremantle)
Oliver Eastland (Claremont)
Kody Eaton (East Fremantle) 
Harry Edwards (Swan Districts) 
Patrick Farrant (Swan Districts) 
Ethan Hansen (Perth) 
Wil Hickmott (Subiaco) 
Corey Hitchcock (Claremont)
Jack Mayo (Subiaco) 
Tom Medhat (West Perth)
Louis Miller (East Perth) 
Luke Moore (South Fremantle) 
Rylie Morgan (Claremont)
Matthew Parker (South Fremantle) 
Jarvis Pina (Peel Thunder)
Tyson Powell (Peel Thunder)
Regan Spooner (South Fremantle)
James Sturrock (Peel Thunder)
Tobe Watson (Swan Districts)
Graydon Wilson (Swan Districts)

Rookie Me Combine: [21]

Ryan Hebron (Sydney University)
Joey Reinhard (Sydney Swans Academy)
Adam Tipungwuti (Western Magpies)
Matthew Green (NT Thunder)
Ryan Gilmore (GC Suns Academy)
Jack Tomkinson (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Lachlan Gadomski (Kingborough Tigers) 
Matthew McGuinness (Lauderdale)
Ben Cavarra (Williamstown) 
Jay Lockhart (Casey Scorpions) 
Hayden McLean (Sandringham VFL) 
Kieran Strachan (Port Melbourne) 
Charlie Thompson (Richmond VFL)
Jordon Butts (Murray Bushrangers)
Kyle Clarke (Murray Bushrangers)
Sam Conway (Geelong Falcons)
Jake Frawley (Dandenong Stingrays)
Matt Neagle (Wodonga Raiders)
Tye Browning (Calder Cannons)
Daniel Hanna (Calder Cannons)
Cody Hirst (Eastern Ranges)

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 13

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

EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

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

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

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

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

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

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

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

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

 

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

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

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

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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