Tag: dylan clarke

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 8 – Three games decided by under a goal

ROUND 8 of the 2019 NAB League delivered a truly mixed bag of results, with three games decided by less that a goal, two by over 50 points, and one fixture proving an inbetweener. Dandenong survived a scare to remain undefeated, while Gippsland fared well enough to bridge the gap to first to just two points. Two of the next three best Victorian sides – Sandringham and Western – also secured wins to remain in the top three hunt.

Northern and Oakleigh were up first though on neutral territory, battling it out at Shepley Oval in Dandenong. In a low-scoring affair, the undermanned Chargers broke back ahead at the ideal time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A shrewd change of position for Oakleigh co-captain Dylan Williams changed the game, with his two final term goals sealing a six-point victory.

His fellow skipper, Trent Bianco had an indifferent outing with 17 disposals (but 10 tackles and four rebounds), while a couple of bottom-age Chargers thrived. Fraser Elliot gathered a game-high 28 touches as well as six clearances, while Lochlan Jenkins managed 22 and eight as the pair combined through midfield.

For Northern, Sam Philp also managed 28 disposals, five marks, four tackles, four inside 50s, nine clearances and a goal, while Ryan Sturgess (19 disposals, three marks and 10 rebounds) in a strong defensive effort. Jackson Davies and Lachlan Potter both had 17 disposals and five rebounds in the defeat.

All the way up in Echuca, an inaccurate Sandringham Dragons outfit scraped home against an unlucky and dead-eye Bendigo Pioneers team. Despite having 14 more scoring shots, the Dragons struggled to find the big sticks, booting 10.18 (78) on the border up against the Pioneers’ 12.2 (74).

Future Saint and Dragons captain, Ryan Byrnes had a day out with 31 disposals (15 contested), three marks, seven tackles, eight clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Angus Hanrahan found plenty of the ball in the win with 26 disposals, six marks, four clearances and three inside 50s. Miles Bergman was also strong wiht 19 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal.

For the Pioneers, Riley Wilson had 23 disposals, six marks, six tackles, five clearances and six rebounds, while Aaron Gundry worked hard for 22 hitouts from 13 disposals, and Jack Hickman worked hard through the middle thanks to 18 touches and four clearances.

Crossing the Bass Strait to the Apple Isle, Tasmania Devils fell short against a red-hot Dandenong Stingrays outfit. The Stingrays were up at each break, but never into double-figures, eventually winning 9.6 (60) to 8.8 (56).

The onball brigade of Bailey Schmidt (14 disposals, 42 hitouts and five clearances), Reece Orchard (24 disposals, seven clearances and eight inside 50s) and Mitch Riordan (23 disposals, five clearances and five inside 50s) ran rampant for the Stingrays. Also impressive were bottom-age talents, Clayton Gay (15 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and three goals) and Henry Berenger (16 disposals, seven marks and six rebounds).

Devils’ bottom-ager Oliver Davis was best-on for the home side, amassing 33 disposals (18 contested), seven marks, three tackles, five clearances and inside 50s in the tight loss. Ethan Jackson (24 disposals, eight tackles, seven clearances and five inside 50s) was impressive as were Sam Collins (23 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and four rebounds) and Matt McGuinness (21 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds and a goal).

Western Jets held Geelong Falcons to just two goals in a 28-point win on the road, one of which came in the last term. The Jets comfortably looked good after a slow first term, piling on four goals in the second to blow out the lead and keep their opponent to just a single-digit score. In the end, they held off any sort of a comeback in the last despite a 1.5 last quarter from the Falcons to win 7.8 (50) to 2.10 (22)

Darcy Cassar suffered leather poisoning with 41 touches, 12 marks and eight rebounds out of defence to be best on ground. Meanwhile overager, Daly Andrews (31 touches, 10 marks, six clearances, three inside 50s and five rebounds) and Morrish Medallist, Lucas Rocci (28 disposals, 11 marks and seven rebounds) both dominated.

For the Falcons, Harry Stubbings led all-comers from his side with 27 disposals (15 contested), six marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds. Charlie Harris (23 disposals, eight marks and four rebounds) and Keidan Rayner (22 disposals, six marks, six tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s) were others who stood out in a disappointing day for the wooden spooners.

Meanwhile Gippsland Power had no problems scoring during a 53-point win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The Power dominated from the get-go with five goals to one in the opening term, and never looked back from there to run out 15.8 (98) to 6.9 (45) winners.

Brock Smith was a general in defence with 23 disposals, five marks and 11 rebounds, while Josh Smith dominated across the ground in his best game thanks to 22 disposals (16 contested), four marks, four tackles, 16 hitouts, 11 clearances and three goals. Sam Flanders and Fraser Phillips also booted a couple of goals each, combining for 47 touches, six marks and 10 inside 50s, while Riley Baldi had 29 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal in the win.

Jay Rantall was the biggest ball winner for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 30 touches (15 contested), as well as three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Liam Herbert (21 disposals, seven marks and a goal) and Toby Mahony (16 disposals, five clearances and three inside 50s) were also productive.

Calder Cannons had no trouble producing a huge win up in Wangaratta for the final game of the round, defeating Murray Bushrangers by 50 points at Norm Minns Oval. The Cannons were only 18 points up at the half, but really went to town in the second half to run away with the contest, 18.9 (117) to 10.7 (67).

Daniel Mott had a game-high 29 disposals, four marks, six clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, while Ned Gentile (24 touches, four marks, eight clearances, five inside 50s and two goals) was also very impressive. Captain, Brodie Newman picked up the 24 touches and seven rebounds, while in a rare showing, up the other end, Francis Evans booted three goals from 10 touches and six marks.

Cameron Wild was the clear standout for the Bushrangers with 27 disposals, seven marks, six clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while Cameron Wilson booted a three goals from 16 touches and nine marks. Dylan Clarke (14 disposals, four marks, eight tackles and five clearances) worked hard in the midfield alongside Wild.

Eastern Ranges was the team that had the bye.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 6 – Academies bow out, Stingrays go top

FANS, recruiters, and pundits alike were treated to another eight games in Round 6 of the 2019 NAB League, with the early-May weekend serving as the last for each of the five Northern Academies’ cameos. Reigning premier Dandenong broke clear as the sole undefeated side left, while Gold Coast was crowned the Academy Series victor via percentage after Sydney lost its only game for the season. A thrilling finals preview also went down as Gippsland and Eastern battled it out, with the Power getting the better of the eventual premiers on home turf.

The round kicked off in North Hobart, with Tasmania playing host to the heavily-depleted Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday morning. It was the visitors who managed to scrape home in a nail-biting, low-scoring slog by the slimmest of margins, overcoming a half-time deficit to keep the Devils at bay. Winning skipper Trent Bianco, the only national draftee afield dominated with 42 disposals as he stepped-up in the absence of some key personnel.

Fellow top-ager Josh May was also influential with 28 touches, while bottom-aged midfielder Fraser Elliot had it 23 times, and Thomas Lovell put in his best shift for the season with four majors. For the Devils, Harrison Ireland was named best for his work as an undersized ruck, with bottom-age gun Oliver Davis getting to work at ground level with a team-high 21 touches, and fellow Allies Hub member Sam Collins not far behind on 18.

The GWS Academy and Murray Bushrangers went to battle on the New South Wales-Victorian border at midday, with the GIANTS coming away with their second win from five attempts. It was a well drawn out win for the ‘away’ side in its home state, leading at every break but being made to earn the 11-point victory. In another game headlined by the dominance of a future draftee, Tom Green amassed 37 touches for the GIANTS in a mammoth performance.

Over-agers Jeromy Lucas (33 disposals) and Ed Perryman (31) were not far behind, while Harry Grant put in a big shift for 3.2 from his 23 touches, and 2020 19-year-old hopefuls Matt McGrory and Liam Delahunty also got busy. Green’s current GIANTS teammate Lachlan Ash collected 27 touches and booted a goal as Murray’s skipper, aided by Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild who matched his ball-winning output. Jimmy Boyer also impressed with three goals from over 20 disposals, while former GWS Academy member Charlie Byrne had 20 touches exactly.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back down to Victoria, as Calder and Bendigo met at Highgate Reserve. It was the Cannons’ day in another low-scoring affair, leading relatively comfortably at every break to eek out a 16-point win over the Pioneers on home turf. The leading Calder draft candidate to that point, Daniel Mott led the way with 36 disposals and a goal in a game which featured just two eventual draftees.

Jacob Martin enjoyed a breakout performance, racking up 36 touches of his own alongside Mott, while skipper Brodie Newman had 21 from defence and Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay had 16 on the same line. James Schischka was Bendigo’s leading ball winner with 20 disposals, with Sydney draftee Brady Rowles collecting his season-high haul of 17 in tricky conditions.

Heading up north to South Pine in the Sunshine State, Gold Coast took out the overall Academy Series with a well-earned 14-point victory over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The visitors pushed the talented academy prospects all the way despite trailing for the game’s entirety, with captain and SUNS AFL rookie Connor Budarick capping off a stellar month with another terrific performance.

His 23 disposals led all comers, with the exciting Hewago Paul Oea managing 19 and two goals, while Ashton Crossley provided good fold in midfield with 19 touches. Bottom-ager Max Pescud booted a game-high four majors, matched by Rebels’ Nick Caris in his second consecutive four-goal game. 2020 over-age hopeful Isaac Wareham notched two goals of his own, with fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Martin also impressing, but Jay Rantall kept quiet at just 14 disposals.

Completing the South Pine double-header were the Brisbane Lions Academy and Dandenong Stingrays, with the visitors claiming a resounding 71-point win on their travels up north. After a low-scoring first half, the Stingrays clicked into gear after the main break with 10 goals to one to comfortably ensure they would remain undefeated and atop the NAB League ladder.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn stood tall in the defeat with a typically professional 32-disposal performance, with fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland (26 disposals) also returning a good shift. 19-year-old Tom Matthews matched Cumberland’s effort, with bottom-agers Will Tasker and Tahj Abberley also impressing. For Dandenong, new Bulldog Cody Weightman bagged three goals, while fellow draftees Hayden Young (28 disposals), Sam De Koning (17, seven marks) Ned Cahill (21, 1 goal) strutted their stuff. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was another to catch the eye, booting two goals from 21 touches.

A touch earlier and back in Victoria, the Geelong Falcons proved too good for the previously undefeated Sydney Swans Academy in their clash on neutral territory, upsetting the northern hopefuls with a 31-point win. The home side’s four-goal to one fourth term sealed the final margin, with the contest a touch tighter to that point.

It was the bottom-ager who stole the show in this clash, as Ollie Henry booted four goals for the Falcons alongside Charlie Brauer‘s two, while Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden both managed 22 disposals and a goal each. Geelong captain Jesse Clark was the leading ball winner on the ground with 25 touches, followed closely by Sydney top-ager Sam Thorne (24).

Not much may have been expected of the Gippsland-Eastern clash coming into the season, but it proved to be a belting finals preview as the Power took out the four points in Morwell. The game was tight the whole way through, with the high-quality contest ending in a 10-point triumph to the home side.

As had been the case in previous fixtures, the cream rose to the top as Sam Flanders (25 disposals, two goals), Brock Smith (27 disposals), and Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) all enjoyed fantastic outings for the winners. The midfield trio of Zak Pretty (28 disposals), Lachlan Stapleton (28), and Mitch Mellis (21) was just as handy for Eastern, while forwards Bailey White and Ben Hickleton notched three goals apiece.

The final game of the round saw a seventh venue used in Ikon Park, as the Northern Knights held off a fast-finishing Northern Territory Thunder Academy. A six-goal third term saw the Knights double their goal tally, and it set up a match-defining margin as they went on to salute to the tune of 38 points. The NT’s campaign would finish winless, but not for a lack of trying and talent.

Josh D’Intinosante and Jackson Davies both had a good amount of ball while also booting two goals each for the winners, while 2020 Vic Metro Hub member Liam McMahon also managed two goals from his 15 disposals and eight marks. Ben Jungfer was the Thunder’s leading ball winner with 22 touches, but it was Malcolm Rosas Jnr who shone with 21 and two goals, while Joel Jeffrey found the ball 21 times, Beau O’Connell 19, and Brodie Lake 16.

Classic Contests: GIANTS hold off Bushrangers in tight contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 5 – Dragons, Ranges humble Academies to go top

ROUND 5 of the 2019 NAB League season saw the Victorian mainstays peg back their Northern visitors in an action packed nine-game weekend. Sandringham and Eastern delivered big wins over the two Queensland academies at Trevor Barker Oval, while the Sydney Academy won strongly to remain undefeated alongside Dandenong (3-0-1).

But first to take the field were the Bendigo Pioneers and Northern Knights at Queen Elizabeth Oval, with the visitors taking four points back to Preston after trailing at every other break. After streaming ahead by 17 points at half-time with double the goal tally, the Pioneers ran out of legs to be held to just one major in the second half as the Knights snuck ahead to come away five-point victors.

As was a theme in Round 5, both sides were weakened but had some solid talent running around from each age bracket. Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier had plenty of the ball while also hitting the scoreboard, while Lachlan Potter created some zip on the outside. Top-age Pioneers James Schischka, Ben Worme, and Logan Fitzgerald all had 25 touches, while bottom-age jet Jack Ginnivan showed promise with 20 and a goal.

Sam Philp was the best ball winner of the 2019 draftees, earning 17 touches for Northern, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles had just 11 as he popped up in spurts. Ryan Sturgess, who almost joined Philp at the Blues as a supplementary top-up, was also impressive with 21 disposals and seven marks.

Saturday’s first game opened a Blacktown double-header as the Swans Academy accounted for Murray in a close encounter to move to equal-first. The Sydneysiders shot out of the blocks with five goals to nil to open the match, adding another four in the second term to lead by six goals at half time. Although they fared much better in the second half, the Bushrangers could not fully recover the deficit and went down by 24 points.

Sydney over-ager Kyle Martin led all comers with 29 disposals, just one touch ahead of Bushrangers runner Cam Wild (28, one goal). Dylan Clarke also led the way for Murray with 23 disposals, with Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Sam Durham all also ticking over the 20-mark. Max Geddes (23 disposals) was also influential for the Swans, but it was big man Hamish Ellem who stole the show with 22 disposals, nine marks, and 3.3 in a performance which went a long way to securing him an Allies berth.

The GWS Academy was next up on its home turf against another Victorian country side in Gippsland, only it could not repeat the feats of its New South Wales rival. The GIANTS trailed at every break but brought the contest to the highly-fancied Power, getting within a single point at three-quarter time before falling by nine points.

Harry Grant had an outstanding game for GWS, booting two goals from his game-high 31 disposals, while Oakleigh squad member Jeromy Lucas had 24 touches and newly-transferred Northern Knight Liam Delahunty booted two goals. But a talent rich Gippsland unit was led well by Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Hawthorn rookie Harrison Pepper (26 disposals, one goal), with Riley Baldi also stepping up through midfield. Draftees Kyle Dunkley, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben were also in action for the Power.

Skipping back, and Dandenong extended its unbeaten start to the season with a huge win over Oakleigh on home turf. After a tight opener, the Stingrays played the conditions perfectly to pile on eight goals in the second term, and seven in the last to storm away 70-point victors with 11 individual goalkickers.

Lachlan Williams and Ned Cahill slotted three majors each for the winners, while bottom-ager Will Bravo slotted two and Richmond recruit Bigoa Nyuon managed one from 17 touches. Cahill was the leading disposal getter with 29, while Joe Ayton-Delaney, Lochlan Jenkins, and Trent Bianco all managed 24 for the Chargers. Port draftee Dylan Williams went goalless in a different role, while Gold Coast mid-season recruit Mitch Riordan had 15 touches and Melbourne rookie Austin Bradtke had just eight disposals and a goal.

Saturday’s other double-header began with Sandringham thumping the Brisbane Lions Academy by 97 points on home turf. The Lions had won just one game to that point, and were in for more immediate pain as the Dragons helped themselves to 13 first half goals while holding the visitors to one. There was no way back from there, with Sandringham coasting to victory.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn was one of the sole Lions to stand up all day, collecting a game-high 31 touches while fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland was kept to just nine. Louis Butler and Ryan Byrnes strutted their stuff for the Dragons to win plenty of the ball, while Miles Bergman started to get into his stride with 17 touches, Jack Bell impressed with two goals from the same disposal haul, and Blake O’Leary finished with a game-high three goals.

Eastern completed the academy rout with a defensively sound 59-point thumping of Gold Coast’s academy, keeping the SUNS to just two goals. After just three goals were scored in the first half, the Ranges clicked into gear to break the game open with seven in the third term and run home comfortable winners.

Zak Pretty had a monster day out with 37 disposals, aided well by Lachlan Stapleton (27) and Mitch Mellis (24), while bottom-age defenders Wil Parker and Josh Clarke also impressed. Bailey White led the goal count with four, while Jamieson Rossiter managed three and Cody Hirst played one of his last games before being snapped up by Sydney. Skipper Connor Budarick was the standout for Gold Coast, accumulating 27 touches, with bottom-ager Max Pescud also thereabouts, and fellow SUNS recruits Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh also taking the field.

Saturday’s final fixture saw Calder edge Geelong in a close battle at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with both sides enjoying time in the lead. The Cannons looked the goods after coming out on top in a low-scoring first half, but were pegged back to within a point at the final break. Keeping their heads, the hosts held on to win by seven points.

Sam Ramsay was the sole draftee afield, and he had a decent outing with 27 disposals – behind only Daniel Mott (29) and Brodie Newman (36). Ned Gentile booted three goals from 21 disposals to also be among the best, while skipper Jesse Clark claimed that honour for Geelong. Nineteen-year-old Charlie Sprague was another to impress with two goals from 18 touches, with fellow over-ager Henry Stubbings managing 20.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and Western got the better of Tasmania in their trip to the Apple Isle, trumping the hosts by 47 points to get within touch of the top four. A steady opening half saw Tasmania prove wasteful, booting 1.6 as Western eventually took flight to run home with six goals to two after half-time.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton took full toll with a game-high three majors, supported well by Carlton rookie Josh Honey (two from 25 disposals) and bottom-age jet Eddie Ford (two from 16 disposals). Darcy Cassar racked it up across half back to finish with 31 disposals, while Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon shared that feat for Tasmania (25). Isaac Chugg was also impressive on debut for a Devils side which was missing a lot of its star power.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels took home a huge win in the round’s final match, defeating the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 55 points on neutral territory. The Rebels never looked back after a 10 goals to one opening half at Windy Hill, which proved more than enough for the win despite a more even second half.

Nick Caris led the goal count with four for GWV, while Jay Rantall (27 disposals, two goals), Matty Lloyd (28, two), and Riley Polkinghorne (23, two) all had an impact. There was plenty of class on show for NT despite the loss too, with Beau O’Connell (29 disposals, two goals) having a day out, while Ben Jungfer had it 28 times, Joel Jeffrey had 24 touches and six marks, and new SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr also got on the park.

Classic Contests: Crushing first half sees Murray set up 38-point win

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 5 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Tasmania Devils and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 in what has been the only clash between the pair.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.1 | 1.3 | 2.5 | 4.12 (36)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 5.5 | 7.9 | 9.11 | 10.14 (74)

Round 10 | Sunday, June 9, 2019
UTAS Stadium, 11am

At the mid-point of the season and the 2020 AFL Under 18 National Championships underway, Murray Bushrangers crossed the Bass Strait to visit Tasmania Devils in Launceston. Coming into the match, Tasmania was sitting just outside the top eight with four wins from eight games and a healthy percentage of 106.11. In what had been a shaky start to the season for the Bushrangers, then had won just two games from eight themselves, but a win could see them jump as high as 12th from their 15th on the table. With both side missing quality players due to the championships, it would be interesting to see who could show off its depth in the early stages of winter over the long weekend.

Dylan Clarke had a goal on the board for the visitors three minutes into the contest, and Zane Barzen joined him soon after to hand Murray an early lead. Lachlan Borsboom ensured Tasmania would get a major back in response, but it would be the only one for the half, as Murray would pile on five consecutive goals over the next two quarters. Ryley Bouker snagged back-to-back majors and Dominic Bedendo kicked one after the siren for a 28-point lead at the first break. Their dominance continued in the second term, but could not quite find their range with 2.4, and the majors coming from Thomas Panuccio and Ben Kelly.

Now holding a massive 42-point advantage at the half, it was always going to be hard to stop Murray, though Will Peppin tried with his side’s major coming almost an hour after the first. Co-captain Cameron Wilson and forward Hudson Kaak both converted majors to end out the term and lead was an even more impressive 48 points at the last change. Wiht the game done and dusted, Tasmania lifted up a couple of gears, with a Barzen goal at the eight-minute mark giving Murray a game-high 53-point lead. The visitors would only score two more behinds at the Devils would boot 2.5 from that point in a case of missed opportunities. It did cut the final deficit back to 28 however, though it was Murray who would go home happy.

Jimmy Boyer finished the game with a match-high 27 disposals, five marks and five rebounds, running at 50 per cent contested, while Clarke (25 disposals, five clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Declan Everett (20 disposals, three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s) were the two key players around the stoppages. Wilson also had a big game defensively to rack up 19 touches, three marks, 12 tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Barzen finished with 15 disposals, six marks, five tackles, three inside 50s and two majors. Kelly found plenty of the ball across the ground on his way to 19 disposals, five marks, 15 hitouts, five rebounds and a goal, as did defender Charlie Byrne who finished with 22 touches, five marks, two tackles and three rebounds.

For the Devils, Matthew McGuinness was the standout in defence with 21 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds, teaming up with Patrick Walker (15 touches, four marks, five tackles and five rebounds) in the back 50. Oliver Burrows-Cheng had 18 disposals, four marks, 13 tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s working through midfield, while Jackson Callow (16 disposals, three marks and five tackles) and Borsboom (16 disposals, three marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) worked hard up forward.

Murray would end up finishing ninth at the end of the season, going down to Dandenong in the Wildcard Round, while Tasmania would effectively finish 12th excluding the part-time Academy sides, where it would push fifth placed Calder Cannons in their Wildcard match but fall short and be eliminated from finals contention.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 3 – First draw of the season in Country Triple Header

IN an action-packed nine games of NAB League Boys action, spectators witnessed the season’s first draw at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo as part of a huge triple header for the six country teams. The round also included a double header at Trevor Barker Oval the day before, while the Northern Academies went head-to-head across the nation, and the standalone game at RAMS Arena was a close one.

Opening up the round in Sandringham with the double header changed from Preston was the Northern Knights taking on Eastern Ranges. From the start it was clear the Ranges were going to be too strong, and by half-time led by 26 points. It would only get worse for the Knights in the second half, as Eastern piled on 7.9 to 0.2, to run away 75-point winners.

Mitch Mellis was best on ground with three goals from 29 touches, six marks, six tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while the likes of Zakery Pretty (26 disposals, five marks, three tackles, nine clearances and three inside 50s) and James Ross (30 disposals, three marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds) were not too far behind. Connor Downie (25 touches, five marks, five inside 50s and a goal), Josh Clarke (24 touches, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Lachlan Gawel (21 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) were all prolific, while Cody Hirst (19 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) looked impressive in one of his few games prior to being drafted by Sydney.

Sam Philp was a clear standout for the losing side as he amassed 26 touches, five marks, nine tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Ryan Gardner (23 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three rebounds) worked hard on the outside, Josh D’Intinosante (21 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) was busy through midfield, and Jackson Davies (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) did his best in defence.

The second game at Trevor Barker Oval was much closer with perennial rivals and premiership contenders, Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers going at it. The end result was a 10-point win to the Dragons after booting five goals to two in the middle two quarters and then holding off a Chargers comeback to grab the bragging rights, 9.11 (65) to 8.7 (55).

Jack Mahony led the way for his side with 25 touches, five marks, five tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, teaming up well in midfield with Finn Maginness (24 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and Ryan Byrnes (21 disposals, four marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds). Josh Worrell was a rock in defence thanks to 23 touches, four marks, four tackles and five rebounds, while up forward, Charlie Dean continued his good form with 16 disposals, six marks and two goals.

It was no surprise to see who led the way despite the loss for the Chargers with Matt Rowell (31 disposals, seven marks, 11 tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) dominating alongside Noah Anderson (26 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals). Future Magpie, Trent Bianco picked up 26 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds, while bottom-age talent, Will Phillips had 21 touches, seven marks and three tackles of his own. Dylan Williams booted three goals from nine disposals and four marks up forward.

Up at RAMS Arena, Calder Cannons kicked away in the final term against Western Jets to win by 12 points in what was a thrilling contest. It was only a two goals to one final quarter, but that was enough to see the home side in front at the final siren after leading by just three points at the final break. Western had worked its way back into the game after trailing by 19 and 15 points at the quarter time and half-time breaks respectively, but would ultimately not do enough to get the points in the end.

Cannons captain Daniel Mott had the ball on a string thanks to 32 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, seven clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Harrison Minton-Connell joined him with leather poisoning after 30 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven clearances, two inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal. Flynn Lakey (26 disposals, five marks, four clearances and two rebounds) and Jake Sutton (18 disposals, seven marks, three clearances and six inside 50s) were busy, while Harrison Jones showed off his versatility after 17 disposals, eight marks, four hitouts and three inside 50s.

Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett were saviours in the defensive 50, combining for 44 disposals, 12 marks and 15 rebounds in a hard working effort for the Jets. Up forward, excitement machine Eddie Ford had 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Will Kennedy racked up a whopping 41 hitouts to go with 15 rouches, five marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Of the future draftees, Josh Honey had 14 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and a goal, while Emerson Jeka took six marks from nine touches and laid three tackles.

Heading north to Yeronga, the Gold Coast Suns Academy booted the last six goals of the game and five goals to zero in the final term, to post a 10.10 (70) to 5.12 (42) victory over cross-state rivals, Brisbane Lions Academy. The Lions had led by two points at the final break, but it was all Gold Coast in the last term as they ran away with the points.

Ashton Crossley racked up 31 touches, four marks, 10 clearances and two inside 50s, teaming up well with future Sun, Connor Budarick (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s) and bottom-age talent, Alex Davies (22 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds). Josh Gore booted three majors from 12 disposals and seven marks, while another future senior Sun in Matthew Conroy kicked two last quarter goals from eight touches, three marks and 25 hitouts. Hewago Paul Oea was also lively with 17 disposals, three marks, eight inside 50s and a goal.

For the Lions, Tom Griffiths (27 disposals, five marks and four rebounds) and Bruce Reville (26 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) had the most touches, while Saxon Crozier (19 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Ethan Hunt (18 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and six rebounds) were also busy. Future Tigers, Noah Cumberland (13 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) and Will Martyn (12 disposals, five tackles) played in the match as well.

In another dominant performance late, Sydney Swans Academy stormed past GWS GIANTS to win by 59 points in Canberra. The Swans trailed at quarter time and half-time, but piled on 12 goals to two in the second half to run away with the contest and gain some serious bragging rights early in the Academy Series.

It was a strong team effort from the Swans, with Jackson Barling (24 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three clearances) and Lachlan Swaney (22 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) both prominent. Captain Sam Thorne (19 touches, six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s) was busy, while Harrison Parker and Braeden Campbell both booted three goals in the win.

For the GIANTS it was all about Tom Green who racked up 28 touches, six marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Jeromy Lucas (25 touches, four marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) and James Peatling (24 touches, seven marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) provided support. Liam Delahunty (10 touches, six marks and two goals) was busy up forward, while Nick Murray (15 disposals, seven marks and nine rebounds) stood tall under siege in defence.

Heading into the city for a clash between Northern territory and Tasmania, it was the Devils who came away with their first win after a slow start. Trailing by 10 points at the first break, Tasmania piled on 12 goals to three after that to finish with a commanding 13.14 (92) to 6.8 (44) victory over the Thunder.

Leading draft prospect, Mitch O’Neill had the ball on a string with 35 disposals, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds, as Rhyan Mansell (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Oliver Davis (22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s) provided great service to the forwards. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow showed just what he was capable of with five majors from 19 disposals and eight marks, while Matthew McGuinness was a reliever in defence with 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds.

All eyes were on Richmond father-son bottom-age prospect Maurice Rioli Jnr for the Thunder, and he had 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in a lively display. Others who impressed included Stephen Cumming (22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances), and bottom-age hopefuls, Joel Jeffrey (20 disposals, seven marks, seven rebounds and a goal), Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds).

Heading up the highway to Bendigo, the country triple header took place at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Pioneers were battling against premiership contender, Gippsland Power and had themselves right in the contest until the final term. The Power led by just one point at the last break, but piled on 4.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with a 12.10 (82) to 8.10 (58) victory.

Future first round pick, Caleb Serong helped himself to 23 disposals, five marks, three tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while another first round selection in Sam Flanders amassed 20 touches, two marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s), Sam Berry (20 disposals, three tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal), Kyle Dunkley (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a goal) and Leo Connolly (15 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and six rebounds) were among the best across the four quarters, while Fraser Phillips booted three goals from 12 touches and four marks.

Bendigo’s own future first round pick in Brodie Kemp had a day out with 21 disposals, four marks, three tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, teaming up well in midfield with Sam Conforti (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Jeremy Rodi (19 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds). Riley Wilson (14 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds) was prominent in midfield, while Logan Fitzgerald and Brady Rowles combined for 26 disposals and nine rebounds in defence.

The second game was the best of the lot, with Dandenong Stingrays splitting the points with Geelong Falcons. In a wind-affected day, the see-sawing contested had everyone on the edge of their seat. Trailing by 30 points at the final break but with the wind behind their backs, the Stingrays booted 5.6 to 1.0 and managed to draw level at 12.11 (83) apiece thanks to a kick after the siren.

Ned Cahill had 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and eight inside 50s, as all of Dandenong’s future draftees stood out. Hayden Young had 22 disposals, five marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, Cody Weightman had 20 touches, three marks, five clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal, and Sam De Koning picked up 17 disposals, three marks, four hitouts and two goals, switching into attack in the last quarter and being a huge influence on the result.

The game was unfortunately the last for Geelong’s sole draftee, Cooper Stephens who broke his leg in the first term and would not play another game in season 2019. Jesse Clark (26 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds) and Charlie Harris (24 touches, eight marks and five rebounds) worked hard, while bottom-agers, Noah Gribble (22 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, nine tackles and seven inside 50s) were among their side’s best.

In the final game of the round, Murray Bushrangers came back from a goal down at the final break to find their kicking boots and defeat Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. The Bushrangers had booted 6.12 to three quarter time – four more scoring shots than their opponents – but trailed them by a goal. They picked it up in the final term to slot 3.3 to 1.2 and record a 9.15 (69) to 9.8 (62) victory.

Lachlan Ash had a team-high 28 disposals, six marks, four tackles, seven inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals, five marks, six tackles, three clearance and five inside 50s) and Jimmy Boyer (22 disposals, nine marks and two rebounds) found plenty of the ball. In midfield, Cameron Wild (20 disposals, four marks, three clearances and seven inside 50s) and Dylan Clarke (17 disposals, three marks, four tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) were strong.

Jay Rantall was a clear standout for the Rebels, amassing an impressive 31 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals in a complete game. Mitch Martin (22 disposals, 10 marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and two goals) was also impressive, while James Cleaver and Emmanuel Ajang combined for 33 disposals, 10 marks and 13 rebounds in defence.

Classic Contests: Power pip Bushrangers in RAMS thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest it is a clash between sides who would have played in Round 1 this year. Today we travel back in time to last year’s Round 1 encounter between the Murray Bushrangers and Gippsland Power who played out a thriller at windy Craigieburn.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 6.6 | 9.9 | 9.12 (66)
GIPPSLAND POWER 2.1 | 6.3 | 9.4 | 10.9 (69)

Round 1 | Sunday, March 24, 2019
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn, 1.00pm

Fresh optimism joined two country sides at Highgate Recreation Reserve for the start of a new season in 2019. The newly rebranded NAB League was about to get underway and Gippsland Power were considered one of the title contenders. The Power had been smashed in the previous preliminary final with the majority of their top-end players in their bottom-age year so there was much excitement about what they could produce in 2019. Murray was always a tough competitor and nearly always produced a hard-fought effort regardless of opponent. With a top five talent in Lachlan Ash co-captaining the side and one of Gippsland Power’s top talents in Caleb Serong out of the team for his respective side, it was anticipated to be a beauty, and the game did not let spectators down.

In what was ultimately a see-sawing affair for the most part, it was Murray that always seemed to have the upper hand when required. The Bushrangers led by three points at the first break and whilst they were missing some opportunities (booting 2.4), they were getting more looks on goal than their highly fancied opponents. The one player on the opposition side that was making life particularly difficult was Kyle Dunkley, who had crossed back to the Power having finished his schooling last year and missing out on being drafted after a season with Oakleigh Chargers. Seemingly making the transition from medium forward to inside midfielder, Dunkley was everywhere with a long-range goal a highlight in the first half. Up the other end, it was co-captain Cam Wilson who was keeping his side in front, with the Murray forward having a real day out roaming in and out of the forward 50 and providing a target despite being just 170cm. At one stage in the second term, Gippsland got out to an 11-point lead before the Bushrangers hit back to grab the advantage at the main break courtesy of a Wilson major.

The second half started and it was more of the same with both sides challenging and making it increasingly difficult to pick a winner. Gippsland seemed to be more on top by kicking consecutive goals, but again Murray would get back in front with Wilson’s third late in the term. By the final break, the Bushrangers led by five points, but were far from sage. In what would be an arm-wrestle of a last term, the Power would kick three consecutive behinds before Harrison Pepper broke free and converted a major to be the difference. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Gippsland had the eighth lead change, which would be the last. Another couple of behinds to the Power stretched the lead out to three points, with Murray doing most of the attacking in the dying few minutes to try and get a result. Jimmy Boyer and Jye Chalcraft both kicked behinds to get within three, and while the Bushrangers had the ball when the siren sounded, Will Chandler was just too far out to score, and played on with the sounding.

The game would ultimately throw Dunkley in the spotlight for his 21 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s, two rebounds and three goals to land at Melbourne in the mid-season draft. In the absence of his partner-in-crime, Sam Flanders had a strong performance with 19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, six clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds through the midfield, while Pepper – who would later become a defender throughout the year – booted two majors including the match-winner from 13 disposals, six marks and four tackles. Ryan Sparkes was the top ball-winner for the Power with 26 touches, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and eight rebounds, while future Lions talent and Power captain, Brock Smith had a solid 18 disposals, four marks, three clearances and four rebounds working tirelessly from defence. In terms of other future draftees who played, Leo Connolly (10 disposals), Fraser Phillips (five) and Charlie Comben (three) were all relatively quiet compared to their output later in the season. Talented bottom-ager Sam Berry also made his presence felt in the match, winning a team-high 13 contested disposals, and picking up 18 disposals, five marks, five tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and a goal to arguably be second best behind Dunkley.

For the Bushrangers, it was the co-captains who led the way with Ash (24 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds showing off his slick skills, while Wilson finished with 21 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s and three goals in a best-on performance for the losing side. Dylan Clarke (24 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s) and Cameron Wild (22 disposals, five marks, three tackles, five inside 50s and four rebounds) mixed well on the inside and outside, while Boyer had 16 touches, three marks, five clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds. Top prospect for 2020, Elijah Hollands looked ever-dangerous inside 50 but could not quite find the accuracy with the wind, recording 15 disposals, 10 marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and 1.3 for the day. He was far from alone though with Boyer (three behinds), Clarke (two) and Chandler (two) also missing opportunities. Another player who stood out in the loss was overage tall, Ben Kelly who racked up 14 touches, seven marks, 25 hitouts, three clearances, two inside 50s and four rebounds seemingly everywhere on the ground.

At the end of the season it was a similar story for Gippsland Power who ultimately suffered a disappointing defeat in the preliminary final after looking so impressive in week one of the finals against eventual premiers, Oakleigh Chargers. For Murray, the Bushrangers would go onto miss finals after bowing out in Wildcard Round to Dandenong Stingrays at Box Hill.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 1 – Future Blues light up Ikon Park

A SPIRITED comeback from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels was not enough to see them topple the Dandenong Stingrays in the opening round of the 2019 season. The Stingrays led by as much as 36 points at the 15-minute mark of the third term, before the Rebels bolted home to boot eight of the last 12 goals to get within eight points with eight minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the home side, they could only manage back-to-back behinds on the day.

Captain and top prospect, Hayden Young had 15 disposals, five marks, four tackles and seven rebounds in the Stingrays’ win, while the talented Cody Weightman had 12 disposals, two tackles, three inside 50s and a goal. It was Lachlan Williams in defence who was instrumental with 23 disposals and 11 rebounds, as bottom-age talent Clayton Gay had a big game across the ground, picking up 20 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals. Future draftees, Bigoa Nyuon (seven disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, four inside 50s and two goals) and Ned Cahill (nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) had an impact, and Sam De Koning (six disposals, three hitouts, one rebound) also played in the match. Mitchell Riordan also started his overage year positively – though he would only be at the club for another month and a half before heading north – picking up 16 touches, four marks, three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s.

A former Australian basketballer by the name of Jay Rantall made his debut for the GWV Rebels, picking up 24 touches and having five clearances in a strong performance through the midfield group. Cooper Craig-Peters led the way with 30 disposals (16 contested), 10 tackles, 10 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, while Mitch Martin (24 disposals, four clearances, seven inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Matty Lloyd (26 disposals, nine marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three goals) also impressed despite the loss.

The next day, Murray Bushrangers and Gippsland Power engaged in an equally tough tussle at Rams Arena, where Will Chandler had the ball in the dying seconds, but was just a touch too far out to score as the Bushrangers went down by three points. The Bushrangers had been in front by that margin at quarter time and half-time against the title-contending Power team, and even led by as much as five points at the final break. But the only goal of the final term went to the Power in what was a struggle between two top defences in the 10.9 (69) to 8.12 (66) defeat.

Kyle Dunkley made onlookers check twice when they saw the former Oakleigh Chargers forward dominating through the midfield for Gippsland on his way to 21 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and three goals in what would prove to be one of only a handful of outings at NAB League level, switching RAMS Arena for Etihad Stadium. Without Caleb Serong, it was Sam Flanders who brought the highlights, picking up 19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s, while Ryan Sparkes had the most touches with 26 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and eight rebounds. Charlie Comben returned for a modest three touches, two marks and 11 hitouts, while other future draftees who played in the game included Brock Smith (18 disposals, four marks and four rebounds), Harrison Pepper (13 disposals, six marks and four tackles), Leo Connolly (10 disposals, two marks) and Fraser Phillips (five disposals, two marks and one goal).

It was no surprise to see future GIANT, Lachlan Ash having a big day out for Murray with 24 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while the midfield duo of Dylan Clarke (24 touches, five marks, four tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s) and Cameron Wild (22 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds) were productive. Co-captain Cameron Wilson slotted three goals in a big game up forward with 21 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s, while bottom-age talent Elijah Hollands showed off his class with 15 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and a goal.

At RSEA Park, premiership contenders Sandringham Dragons made an early statement on the competition with a big win over Calder. The Dragons had a host of draftable prospects heading into the year and destroyed Calder Cannons by 109 points. It was the likes of future Saint, Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) and future Hawk, Finn Maginness (23 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, six clearances and a goal) who shone. Louis Butler (22 disposals) and Miles Bergman (16) both had strong games, as top 10 pick Fischer McAsey had two rebounds from 14 disposals and five marks in what was a pretty comfortable day to be a Dragons defender. Instead it was Charlie Dean‘s five goals that stole the show. For the Cannons, future draftees Sam Ramsay (23 disposals, three marks and a goal) and Harrison Jones (12 disposals, three marks and six hitouts) both played, while Tye Browning and Daniel Mott did all they could sharing in 24 disposals each, with Mott also having four clearances and six inside 50s.

A full-strength Oakleigh Chargers also had an impressive win in the first match of the season against a far-from-disgraced Eastern Ranges outfit. Top two picks, Matt Rowell (21 touches, five tackles, four clearances and one goal) and Noah Anderson (26 disposals, five marks, five clearances, six inside 50s and four goals) were the best, as Joe Ayton-Delaney picked up a game-high 32 touches as well as nine clearances, four inside 50s and five rebounds. The likes of future draftees, Trent Bianco (22 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three clearances) and Dylan Williams (19 disposals, five clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) were also prominent. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan made his Oakleigh debut but was quiet with four touches and two marks, though fellow bottom-age prospect Will Phillips was solid with 17 disposals and five tackles. Future draftees Nick Bryan (10 disposals, 18 hitouts) and Lachlan Johnson (11 touches, five tackles) also played in the match. For Eastern, soon-to-be-listed Swans player, Cody Hirst had 20 touches, five clearances and three inside 50s in the loss, as bottom-age talent Connor Downie was strong alongside top-age hopefuls Zakery Pretty and Mitch Mellis.

Bendigo Pioneers also opened their season off on the right foot courtesy of a big 43-point win over Geelong Falcons. Future Cat, Cooper Stephens did all he could for the Falcons in the loss, picking up 22 touches, three marks, three tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, working hard with Jesse Clark (24 disposals, seven marks and four rebounds). For the Pioneers, Thomson Dow quickly asserted himself on the competition with two goals from 28 disposals, eight marks, three clearances and three inside 50s, while fellow first round selection Brodie Kemp had 22 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. The Pioneers’ other draftee in the match was Brady Rowles who helped himself to 15 touches, two clearances and two rebounds.

In the final game of the round, Western Jets got up in a thrilling come-from-behind seven-point victory over Northern Knights at Ikon Park. They teams traded blows throughout the match and the Knights led by 18 points at the final break, but a high-scoring last term saw the Jets pile on six goals to two to run over the top of Northern in the end. Future Blue, Josh Honey lit up his future home training ground with 22 touches, six marks, three clearances, six inside 50s and a goal, while future Hawk, Emerson Jeka booted a goal from 14 touches, six marks and four inside 50s. If Honey being Western’s best at Carlton’s home was not freaky enough, Sam Philp – one of Carlton’s first round draft picks – stamped his authority with 22 disposals, nine tackles, nine clearances, three inside 50s and a goal for the Knights. Josh D’Intinosante and Ryan Sturgess booted two goals apiece from 20 touches, while competition leading goalkicker, Archi Manton snagged three majors on his way to that title.

NAB League Boys team review: Murray Bushrangers

AS the NAB League season finals approach, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title, checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Murray Bushrangers.

Position: 9th
Wins: 6
Losses: 9
Draws: 0

Points For: 1087 (Ranked #4)
Points Against: 1101 (Ranked eq. #13)
Percentage: 99
Points: 24

Top draft prospects:

Lachlan Ash

The top 10 draft prospect has enjoyed an absolutely outstanding year, and pushed himself up into top five calculations. He showed he can play anywhere on the field, possessing an elite kick and elite leadership abilities having co-captained both Murray and Vic Country this year. While he was the only Murray player to receive a National Draft Combine invite, no-one expects to wait too long to hear his name read out in November’s National AFL Draft. A top-end prospect with great upside who could slot into a side fairly early in his career.

Jimmy Boyer

While Ash was the only national invite, Boyer was one of eight other players to receive a state or Rookie Me combine invitation. He started as a running defender who could also play wing, then moved to full-forward to display what he is capable of inside 50. He is strong one-on-one and crafty at ground level, he can kick goals on the lead or in general play. A late-rookie prospect like many state combine invitees.

Other in the mix:

The seven other players who received combine invitations are all in the draft mix as late-rookies include overage talls Ben Kelly and Will Christie, midfielders Sam Durham, Jye Chalcraft and Cam Wild, and utilities Will Chandler and Liam Fiore.

BnF chances:

Like many teams there will be a fair few in the running for this award, but the top two names from our perspective are Chalcraft and Boyer, both of whom have put in outstanding seasons. Durham and Charlie Byrne played all the games, while co-captain Cam Wilson, Dylan Clarke and Wild were named among the best for most of the season.

2020 Draft Crop:

Next year looms as a good year for the Bushrangers, with both top-age and bottom-age prospects coming through. Elijah Hollands is a genuine top five chance if he continues the form he has produced in his bottom-age year, while Byrne and Kade Chalcraft played every game this season and provide options up either end, while Dominic Bedendo finished the year really strongly. Ethan Baxter is a key position defender who continues to develop, while Zavier Maher is another one who has shown nice signs through the middle. Josh Rachele is two years away but is already one of top few prospects for the 2021 draft and it will be exciting to see what he offers next year.

Final word:

It was a strange year for Murray Bushrangers, but not just because they missed out on finals. They are traditionally a team that wins in low-scoring encounters, or is defensively minded with hard, uncompromising midfielders and not always an array of scoring options up forward. In 2019, it was more of the opposite with plenty of firepower inside 50, ranked in the top four for points this year, but leaked high scores too often, conceding the most points of any side in the competition. With a number of bottom-age and 16-year-old prospects coming through though, expect the Bushrangers to be in September next year.

Stingrays break winless drought with strong second half

DANDENONG Stingrays have snapped an eight-game losing streak at just the right time, downing Murray Bushrangers to move through to the NAB League Boys finals series. The Stingrays seemed to answer all of the Bushrangers’ challenges, racing to a five-goal lead at one stage, being pegged back in the same quarter to trail at half-time, then gaining breathing space in the third and never looking back. They ended up getting home in a tight contest thanks to some terrific individual efforts.

The first quarter provided a number of highlights in a see-sawing affair with Jimmy Boyer booting an early goal on the run, before Cody Weightman earned a free kick from the very next inside 50 and levelled the scores. The next inside 50 saw Boyer burst away to take a great mark out in front but his accuracy betrayed him on the shot as it drifted to the side. Clayton Gay was having an early impact for the Stingrays through the middle, while Hayden Young was intercepting and mopping up in defence. Weightman was the star in terms of potential though, flying high to almost pull down a massive grab, before attempting a tricky goal from the same play. Connor Macdonald made the Bushrangers pay when a mistake deep in defensive 50 saw the 2021 draft eligible player sidestep his opponent and kick truly on the run from 15m out. Murray co-captain Cam Wilson stepped up when they needed him, putting the Bushrangers back in front. Dominic Bedendo came close to setting up a loose Boyer in the square, but a desperate smother from a Stingrays opponent ensured the ball went out of bounds. Dandenong made no such mistake running it down the other end, with Ned Cahill pouncing and snapping around his body with a great goal to again hand Dandenong the lead back. At quarter time, Young and Dylan Clarke were the top disposal winners for their respective clubs with 10 apiece, while Cahill and Luca Goonan had seven each. With just six inside 50s for 3.1, the efficiency of the Stingrays was terrific, while the Bushrangers had more than double that with 14, but could only manage the 2.3.

In a tale of two halves, the second quarter was all Dandenong and then all Murray for the Bushrangers to lead by four points at the main break. In what looked to be a complete rout in the first half of the quarter, Dandenong piled on four consecutive goals to open the term and the margin was 30 points with Murray yet to have an impact in that period. Gay booted the first of the term, before a rarely seen free kick handed Bryce Milford back-to-back goals, converting one then pushed over after it had gone through, for the forward to boot his second consecutive goal in the space of 30 seconds. A minute later, Cahill pounced on a loose ball and put it through and the Murray faithful would have been sweating with the scoreboard reading 7.3 (45) to 2.3 (15) at the 11-minute mark of the quarter. Enter Lachlan Ash and Josh Rachele. The pair took the game by the scruff of the neck, with Ash mopping up off half-back and getting it forward for Bedendo to kick his first, and set off the chain of midfield dominance. Murray won all the centre clearances for the remainder of the quarter, as Rachele booted two, almost set up another, and Cam Wild ran onto his own clearance after a quick handball and booted one home as well. Cameron McLeod was the other beneficiary in front of the sticks with a major from long-range, but it was Rachele’s second major just before the half-time siren that had the crowd up and about. In 15 minutes of football, Murray had turned a 30-point deficit into a four-point lead. Clarke (15 disposals, five inside 50s) and Ash (14 and two) were so important, while Rachele had 12 disposals, four marks and two goals to his name, For the Stingrays, Cahill (14 disposals, two marks and two goals) and Young (13 disposals, two rebounds were the standout players.

Unlike the high scoring second term, just two goals were converted in the third, as Dandenong retook control with a 2.2 to 0.2 quarter and headed into the final change with a 14-point advantage. William Howe put his side back in front and enjoyed a big term, nailing a goal then narrowly missing a second when it hit the post. Jye Chalcraft had the chance to regain the lead with a 50m penalty and shot from just inside 50 but it sprayed out on the full to the left, something his brother Kade did later in the term on the run but to the right. Despite having their chances, the Bushrangers could not add a goal to their total as the passage of the term was brilliant play by the Stingrays, as Howe switched into the middle to Nathan Heath who bombed long to Gay backing back and taking a strong grab. His goal, coupled with an earlier running goal from Will Lewis gave the Stingrays a comfortable 16-point buffer, with a few misses late in the quarter to the Bushrangers pegging it back to 14. Ash (22 touches) and Clarke (18) were the standout ball winners for Murray, while Young (18), Goonan (18) and Gay (13 and two goals) were the prominent players for Dandenong.

If there was any doubt about whether the goals had dried up in the game following the slow third term, then that doubt was quickly erased in the opening two minutes with three goals on the board. Cahill claimed goal number three with yet another hard running goal in just 16 seconds, while Cam Wild got on the end of one up the other end after a chain of handballs despite Dandenong’s pressure. Bigoa Nyuon had a purple patch early in the fourth, clunking a towering mark and slotting the goal, then repeating the effort in the air on the other side but could not quite put it through the big sticks again. Gay had an opportunity for another major close to the pocket and almost put the game beyond doubt, but the dribbler bounced the wrong side of the post. Instead it went up the other end and Bedendo capitalised on his second major with a long-range set shot and the game was still alive with just 17 points. Moments later, the man of the second quarter stepped up with a mid-air kick to cut it to just 11 and the atmosphere was fever-pitch. Ben Kelly almost made it less than a kick the difference with a clever snap but could not quite convert. Dandenong almost had an end-to-end goal up the other end with Nyuon winning a foot race but having a fresh air kick and the ball was rushed across the line. Murray was trying to move the ball along the boundary, but the Stingrays camped back there, and with three minutes left, a turnover saw Cahill free inside 50 taking an uncontested chest mark but missing the set shot though it was a handy point, putting the margin out to 13. When Lachlan Williams had a flying shot on goal with a minutes remaining, the miss hardly mattered as the Stingrays would move through to the finals series. One last icing on the cake was Nyuon popping up once again to cap off a massive final term, taking a grab just before the siren and making it a 21-point win.

Cahill was the standout Stingray in the end with 23 disposals, four marks and 3.3, in a game that could have been even bigger, while Young (21 disposals, six tackles and three rebounds) and Gay (15 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s and two goals) were also very impressive. For the Bushrangers, Ash stood up across four quarters to no-one’s surprise, finishing his season with 29 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s, eight rebounds and five tackles. Rachele showed his class with another three goals from 18 disposals and five marks, while Clarke (22 disposals), Chalcraft (20) and Wild (16 and two goals) all tried hard in defeat.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.2 | 7.3 | 10.5 | 13.13 (91)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.3 | 7.7 | 7.9 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Dandenong: N. Cahill 3, B. Milford 2, B. Nyuon 2, C. Weightman, C. Macdonald, C. Gay, W. Howe, W. Lewis.
Murray: J. Rachele 3, D. Bedendo 2, C. Wild 2, J. Boyer, C. Wilson, C. McLeod

ADC BEST:

Dandenong: N. Cahill, H. Young, C. Gay, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, B Kuipers
Murray: L. Ash, J. Rachele, D. Bedendo, D. Clarke, C. Wild, J. Chalcraft