Tag: Eastern Ranges

Hockey to footy no problem for Kendall

IT is fair to say that Mietta Kendall is a pretty well rounded sports star with the youngster representing Victoria in hockey, attaining her black belt in Karate and also representing the Eastern Ranges. However, it is the latter that Kendall had always been interested in for a long time.

“So I played footy with the boys at school just recess and lunch and stuff. Then Blackburn, my local club, started up a girls team, I was in grade four when they started and I joined in grade five. So that’s how it all kind of started and I just went through the pathways,” Kendall said.

The ability to inject your own flair into the game and the family-like culture are what initially drew Kendall to the sport, along with the fact that she is a dedicated Richmond supporter.

“I’ve always loved it (football), I’ve always been a really strong Richmond supporter. I would go with my dad to the games every week,” she reminisced. “So I guess I’ve just always loved it as a little kid. I love, I suppose, the room in the game to kind of be a bit unique and be your own player to add your own magic and your own touch to the game in whatever way that might be. As well as being able to play in a team that’s really like a family and being amongst that culture that you can’t really find anywhere else.”

Speaking of culture, that is something Kendall particularly loves about the Ranges. Having been there for four years now, Kendall has become a part of the furniture at the club and credits the nurturing environment of the club and strong friendships she has made throughout her time there.

“Definitely our culture, we’re all very much there for one another, we are more of a family than we are a team on and off the field, and that’s been built through our coaches that we’ve had since the start and managers like Jessica Hollands. As well as having good leaders and a really good bunch of girls. It’s not cliquey, it’s not segregated we are all one and I think it is a beautiful thing,” Kendall said.

Playing as a goalkeeper, the switch from hockey to footy was an easy one for Kendall with the Ranges defender explaining she was able to bring those attributes from hockey onto the footy field, especially when it came to reading the play – an area she highlighted as one of her strengths.

“I’m hard going at the ball so that’s definitely one of my strengths. I will follow up on second, third, fourth efforts wherever I can, and my reading the play. And I’ve got quite a long kick that’s usually accurate. I think being able to read the play comes from previously playing hockey, as a goalkeeper and being able to lead the girls as much as I can with direction and communication,” she said.

“I think karate and hockey have both really helped my footy, karate in my strength, hockey in my read of the play,” Kendall said. “I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to play more than just one sport.”

Representing Victoria in hockey for roughly six years, which is no mean feat, Kendall decided with her busy schedule that it was time to forgo the sport and solely focus on her football dreams. It was a big move in the scheme of things, but something she felt she had to do.

“I sort of gave up hockey a little bit I suppose over the last couple of years. I gave that up to focus on footy when things started getting a bit hectic with Vic footy and plus school, there wasn’t really enough time. I think I was getting a little bit bored and playing in goalkeeper, you know, sometimes don’t get a touch,” she said. “You go to footy and you promise to get, you know, 30, roughly touches at club. I think the game of football is very different in the sense of there’s less rules and there’s more freedom, and I love that about it.”

In terms of areas of improvement, Kendall identified elements such as the ability to kick on her “alternate left foot” as a prime focus along with increasing her endurance, groundball gets and short sprints to ensure she is continuously developing and growing her game.

Much like many of her teammates and fellow Victorians gearing up for the Draft Combine it has been an incredibly unconventional year with the NAB League season only lasting three rounds before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation came somewhat of a shock to Kendall who was on her way to training when she found out and was left a bit emotional by the news.

“A few of the girls were there and we had a massive cry. Me and my two best mates El (Eloise Chaston) and Bridget (Deed) we kind of just hung out for a bit and just moped around with each other. We knew it was a sad rough day but we knew there was always going to be opportunities in the future so keep going.”

Initially upset by the news, Kendall found ways to keep motivate noting that her teammates and people at the Ranges provided her with that encouragement to keep pushing.

“So obviously it was super hard and the biggest thing that helped for me is actually having like majority of my team have Strava, and we post our runs and stuff we do, we follow each other, we like each others posts and stuff and keep supporting one another,” she said. “Throughout the year, I think that’s a really good motivation to keep pushing and keep training, as well as coaches and staff checking in on us to see how we’re going.”

With hopes of doing a double degree in education majoring in psychology in 2021, the centre half back has found some silver linings when it comes to the NAB League season being cancelled, able to spend more time focusing on her studies, although she did admit she did some motivation was “lacking now that I have been online learning for so long.”

“Yeah, in a weird way school this year has been a lot harder but a lot easier at the same time because usually I’m juggling driving out to Kilsyth for Eastern training two nights a week, which is about 40 minutes from me in traffic. My time was very precious last year and I didn’t have a lot of it when it came to study. So I think that’s a positive to come out of this year, I’ve been able to really focus on my studies a bit more in such an important year, Year 12,” she said.

When it came to inspirations, it is no surprise her parents came to the forefront of her mind crediting them for the support they have given her over the years.

“My step dad works at the Hawthorn Football Club and is the boxing and tackling coach so he has been a huge support this year. Training me every week, like, two, three times a week to help me out, which has been amazing and then mum is so supportive and always has been. They’ve definitely helped me stay motivated and get through this year to try to be as good as I can for the draft,” she said.

With her parents an inspiration off the footy field, on the footy field it was the likes of four-time premiership captain Luke Hodge and Adelaide Crows AFLW star Chelsea Randall that caught her eye, highlighting the way they lead the troops – something she hopes to include in her game and bring into the AFLW if all goes to plan on Tuesday.

“Their work rate at the ball ability to lead their teammates, and really lead by example is something that I like to try and strive towards in my own game. They’re two of my favourite players of all time.”

Brown becomes the first Collingwood father-daughter pick

A TRIO of Browns are set to grace the Holden Centre in 2021 as the youngest of the Brown siblings, Tarni Brown joins the black and white. Following in her father’s footsteps, Eastern Ranges star and now Collingwood draftee, Brown is the first father-daughter selection in Collingwood’s history – a moment that felt a little surreal for the youngster.

“It didn’t feel quite real at the start,” Brown said. “I trained down there bit last year and early this year so I already had a bit of a feel for it but it just really came true and I got the call and everything so that was pretty cool.”

Brown decided that she needed a change in her sporting life and given that football has been ingrained in her from a young age given the family history, it is no surprise she picked up the oblong-shaped ball. Brown’s father, Gavin Brown is a well-known name amongst footy fans, especially one-eyed Collingwood supporters given his illustrious career with the club that resulted in 254 games and multiple Copeland trophies. Brown’s brothers Callum and Tyler are into their fourth and second seasons respectively with the Pies.

“Well I played basketball my whole life so I didn’t start footy until I was about 14 or 15,” she said. “So it was probably my basketball, dreaming of footy just wanted to try a different sport. And then I ended up liking it, just as much or nearly more than basketball.”

Receiving plenty of pointers along the way from her family, Brown is determined to make her own path and use her own attributes, ones she picked up from years of basketball to have an influence on the footy field.

“Yeah, I definitely reckon being a basketballer helped with my footy and just, my skills of being able to get out of tight situations, so that definitely all came from my basketball,” she said.

A couple of other key on-field attributes are the speed and agility Brown approaches her footy with, constantly on the lookout for opportunities to run freely into open space and create opportunities for her teammates. However, the youngster did make note of a few areas she wants to hone in on prior to the AFLW season commencing.

“Just trying to perfect my kicking. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot recently so I’m just aiming to get that really good so I can make sure I hit my targets properly and also my goal kicking for going into a more elite level,” Brown said.

Elevated to a leader at the Ranges, Brown noted that it was her on-field actions that set the tone, as the typically quiet footballer focused on playing her role and letting others follow, rather than direct the traffic.

“It was pretty cool. I’ve been at Ranges for three years and I was always a pretty quiet player so I was pretty happy to be able to get named a leader, so obviously not for being the loudest player but maybe just for showing different sort of attributes to the girls,” she said.

“I probably try to lead them obviously not so much for my voice but get around like the younger girls and lead them by the way I play, just being a team player, and like, trying to get on. Probably more so in that way.”

Securing that position on Collingwood’s list is just one of many goals that Brown has ahead of the AFLW season as she looks towards running out in the black and white in season 2021.

“My next goal will be to make my debut at Collingwood and then just play the best footy I can and then once I get that, I’ll make some new goals of what I want to do,” she said.

When asked about whether she was nervous to take the next step up to that elite level of football, Brown highlighted that she was more excited for the challenge and was keen to play against some of the best in the business. One player that she noted was Richmond’s Monique Conti, who is renowned for her classy movement, attack on the footy and all-round footy smarts.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous but probably more excited to see how I match up against like older and bigger girls and just see how much improvement I need to get to be at that level,” she said.

“It’d be pretty cool to get the opportunity to play against Monique Conti, she’s the one person who obviously everyone knows how good she is so she’s the one person I’d really like to play against for sure,” Brown said.

Much like many Melburnians it has been a challenging time for Brown, with the youngster not only having to contend with the lockdown but so too the absence of her two brothers and father who were away with their respective AFL clubs up in the Queensland hubs.

“I have my school work to keep me busy obviously my family’s been away, not my mum but my brothers and my dad have all been away so it’s been pretty quiet,” Brown said. “But just studying, going up the oval, kicking with friends and running, trying to stay fit all things like that.”

“For me I find, getting out and going for a run, probably more relaxing than anything. It’s better than just being at home with nothing to do so I prefer to stay busy and go out, go for a kick and things like that.”

“Yeah, it’s very quiet for sure, missing the boys, I’ve got dad back but really missing Cal and Tyler so I’m excited for them to come home,” Brown said. “But they usually have a lot to say at home so that’s different too, but just calling and facetiming them a lot. But excited to get them back.”

For many of the Collingwood faithful the signing of Brown is a momentous occasion with no one prouder than her father, according to the new recruit.

“He said is very proud of, not just me but Cal and Tyler as well, all three of us so he’s pretty happy to have all three of us down there and yeah just obviously proud as well.”

Meagher’s motivation to keep pushing

IT has been an unconventional season of NAB League, with the competition cancelled three games in and subsequently putting a halt to Eastern Ranges captain Olivia Meagher’s top age year and captaincy aspirations.

“I didn’t believe that,” she said. “We were on our way to training and then we got the text saying that it’s cancelled. And we were literally five seconds away from the ground so pretty upsetting.”

“After that and not being able to go back I just missed all the girls, and having the chance to be a captain for a full season and seeing where we ended up towards the end of the season, if we made finals or not. I just couldn’t believe it, just felt really fake and like we were going to go back and then it really hit that it was cancelled and I got really upset,” the Ranges captain said.

Meagher recognised that the cancellation of the season not only affected her but so too her fellow teammates and competitors that were in their top-age year of NAB League, who shared the same hopes of getting drafted.

“You know, me being a top age, kind of just been taken away from me. But everyone (that were) top agers (are) in the same boat I guess, I just had to keep going at home and just like try my best to stay fit and everything else,” Meagher said.

Despite only playing the three games, Meagher highlighted just how excited she was to lead the girls out onto the field and really provide that voice of reason and guidance for the young up and coming prospects in the Ranges squad.

“Awesome being able to run out and lead the girls from the club rooms, it’s just one of the best feelings to turn around and see them all following me,” she said. “Even though there was only three games. They still were different compared to every other season just because I was that top age. I had just a different feeling running out onto the ground, not being a little baby anymore.”

Joining the boys footy team at Upper Gully in Under 10s, Meagher developed her love for the game and while she had a short stint on the netball court, found her way back to the oblong-ball in Under 16s. The Eastern Ranges product has blossomed into an influential leader noting a couple of key attributes when on the footy field, ranging from her body strength to her voice.

“I love to be a leader especially to help guide the girls in footy as well,” she said. “I think I’m a good role model as well, a lot of the younger girls look up to me just because I’ve been playing footy for quite a few years.”

Coming to terms with a cancelled season, a potential forgo of her AFLW dreams and a state-wide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the youngster admits there were moments where she really struggled to find motivation to keep pushing.

“At the start I was thinking that the season was going go going to go back and I had to just keep my fitness up and then when we got the final announcement that it was really cancelled, I did lose a bit of motivation because I thought it was done for the year, there’d be no draft and, you know, it was over,” she said. “But then I got the announcement that the draft combine was coming up and that’s when I was like, pull my head in. I need to, get ready for this.”

Her get up and go mentality was in part due to her three brothers, spurring her on and encouraging when it came to her fitness regime and diet to ensure she was in tip top shape ahead of the Draft Combine.

“My older brothers have helped me out because we all know a lot about nutrition and diet and fitness and all that so they were helping me, telling me the right thing to have, helping me with my running and my fitness and making sure that I always had the Draft Combine testing in mind. So, always thought about it with my actions of what I ate, or what I did in terms of training,” she said.

In terms of balancing her schedule with things such as training and school, Meagher had her hands full. The Year 12 student was rendered to remote learning for most of the term due to the COVID-19 outbreak, while also having to manage her own training load in order to stay ahead of the pack for the upcoming Draft Combine. A difficult feat no doubt.

“Yeah I found it pretty challenging at the start, having to do school from home and then motivate myself to get up, get dressed. And, you know, go for a run or do a workout. It was hard because I just get so drained from sitting in front of a computer screen all day, and then having to get up. That’s one thing I found challenging,” she said.

“It’s a lot more easier to motivate myself now and to get up and just having that Draft Combine testing in the back of my head just kept me going as well, to know that I have a reason to do this and that is something that’s going to come out of it, and not just you know doing it for the sake of staying fit. Yeah, just having a reason to keep pushing,” Meagher said.

Receiving the Draft Combine invite was an incredibly exciting and humbling moment for the tenacious footballer, given the rollercoaster year that 2020 has been. It also proved that her stature was not going to get in the way of her potentially living her dream of getting drafted and playing AFLW.

“I was really honoured to be recognised. I was very nervous as well because there are 80 other girls in it as well. But I just have to believe in myself when it comes to the testing to know that I have been picked for a reason, regardless of what I do get because of lockdown and everyone hasn’t been able to maintain the fitness that they usually do, just to keep in mind that I have been picked for a reason. Like, just hope for the best when it comes to draft day,” Meagher said.

With the draft just around the corner and Meagher counting down the days until her dream potentially becomes a reality, she is not concerned with “what pick, or what club” she lands at, she just has “a dream to go to any AFLW club”.

AFLW U18s to Watch: Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Eastern Ranges’ midfielder Tarni Brown who is tied to Collingwood as a potential father-daughter selection and has some eye-catching traits.

Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Height: 166cm
Position: Balanced Midfielder
Strengths: Footy smarts, speed, agility, vision, tackling

2020 NAB League stats: 2 games | 24.0 disposals | 2.5 marks | 4.5 tackles | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goal

2019 NAB League stats: 10 games | 17.9 disposals | 1.8 marks | 5.0 tackles | 3.3 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goals

The most talked about prospect in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft from a Collingwood perspective is Tarni Brown. The Eastern Ranges small is looking to follow brothers, Callum and Tyler into the elite level, making it three from three siblings playing at a high enough level they can make it to the top. There have been many iconic photos over the year with their dad Gavin and the trio all decked out in their Collingwood gear, and now next year it looks like it will go from supporter gear to playing attire.

Brown is not dissimilar to her brothers in the style she plays, being such an evasive, slippery player with great speed. She can weave in and out of contests, and as a dual-sport player with basketball, is all too familiar with ankle-breakers leaving her opponent committing to one way as she doubles back and leaves them in her dust. Her athleticism as a whole adds to her natural footballing ability.

She certainly has plenty of natural footballing ability, with her football smarts and vision to spot teammates going forward a handy attribute of the midfielder’s game. Often a winger who has moved more inside in 2020, Brown showed she was more than capable around the stoppages, averaging 24 disposals in her two games this year, whilst still hitting the scoreboard.

While her offensive output is terrific, Brown’s defensive output is just as impressive, being a tackling machine averaging almost five tackles in both her 2019 and 2020 seasons. She can hunt the ball or the ball carrier, and she is anticipated to play at half-forward when she reaches the top level, whilst providing that speed through the midfield rotation. Consistency was always the thing for Brown to develop from last year, and this year, albeit off only a couple of showings, gave an indication she was ready to take her game to the next level.

As someone who is unsurprisingly a Collingwood fan, it is rare when all three siblings can be following the career they love under the one roof, but expect that roof to be the Holden Centre.

AFLW U18s to Watch: Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Eastern Ranges’ midfielder Olivia Meagher who was named captain at the Ranges for the 2020 season and always puts in a four-quarter effort.

Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Height: 157cm
Position: Inside Midfielder
Strengths: Tackling, strength, clean hands, leadership, work rate

2020 NAB League stats: 2 games | 21.5 disposals | 2.0 marks | 3.0 tackles | 2.0 inside 50s | 2.0 rebounds

2019 NAB League stats: 7 games | 15.0 disposals | 2.0 marks | 3.1 tackles | 3.4 inside 50s | 0.9 rebounds | 2 goals

A pocket rocket who despite standing at just 157cm, strikes fear into opposition midfielders with her tenacity and ability to just hunt the ball and the ball carrier. Meagher will fly the flag for her teammates and lead by example with her fierce determination to grab the loose ball or bring down an opponent. In our recent Final Siren Podcast with Northern Knights’ Jess Fitzgerald, the Knights’ co-captain described Meagher as “terrifying on-field, but one of the nicest people you’ll meet off it”.

Among her key strengths with her defensive pressure are her clean hands and her work rate, which sees her get knocked over and get straight back up again. Most of her disposals are won at either the coalface or because she has simply outworked her opponent to get to possessions on a wing or half-forward. She is able to spot up targets inside 50 and even hit the scoreboard in 2019.

Named Eastern Ranges captain in 2020, Meagher has that natural leadership ability too that stands out on the field. She is a player that teammates love to play alongside because not only do you know she will provide a four-quarter effort, but she will consistently dig in when the chips are down and continue to fight, which she continued to show this year like at Beaconsfield when the Ranges were losing to Dandenong Stingrays.

At her size, Meagher is the kind of player who will likely play as a pressure player around the ground, but you can imagine if she played as a forward, she would worry opposition defenders as they looked over their shoulders regularly. The fact she has the traits that can lend themselves to multiple positions – her clean hands and defensive pressure – means she is able to slot in wherever needed, which is a great ability to have when chasing your dream at the highest level.

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: GWV Rebels vs. Eastern Ranges

OUR next All-Star Team battle is one between two Victorian clubs, in the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Adam Goodes (GWV) and Sam Mitchell (Eastern).

TEAMS:

These teams are fairly evenly matched with strengths in different areas. GWV Rebels have been seeded marginally higher (15th) compared to the Ranges (18th), but there is not much to split them at this stage.

STRENGTHS:

GWV Rebels have a dominant spine, some what almost too much with quality talls probably missing out on selection due to the strength. But James Frawley, David Astbury and Troy Chaplin in defence, with Drew Petrie, Jeremy Cameron and Tom McDonald up forward, then throw in Jordan Roughead and Nathan J. Brown off the bench, and it is fair to say, the Rebels would not have a problem with height. Outside of height, they also have a tough midfield with Shane O’Bree and Brad Sewell alongside James McDonald and the Crouch brothers, Brad and Matt.

Eastern’s strength is definitely in its contested ball winning ability. An onball combination of Rory Sloane and Sam Mitchell, with Kane Johnson added for good measure and the likes of Christian Petracca and the Scott brothers – Chris and Brad – and the Ranges will be hard to beat around the coal face. They also have some reliable medium defenders back there in Nick Malceski and Lindsay Gilbee to ensure the ball is in safe hands exciting the 50.

WEAKNESSES:

The Rebels’ weakness might be its strength as well, with an overabundance of key position players and hardened midfielders. They have speed in the back half with Nathan Lovett-Murray and Jake Lloyd, but if there was a weakness in the side, you would say it might be the speed across the field. Lucky they can put it on heads inside 50 and really stretch the defence.

Eastern Ranges is the opposite to the Rebels in the sense of key defenders. They rely on Mark Bolton and Jason Saddington to hold down the fort, though they have some strong talls up the other end. Expect Dan McStay to play in defence rather than up forward because of this fact, but that is where the improvement could come from, height in defence.

SUMMARY

You get the feeling that this match could be dependent on conditions. If the conditions are dry, then expect the Rebels to get up with so many tall targets. If they can hit them lace out or put it in their vicinity, they could kick a big score. If it is a wet day, then expect the battle-hardened and smaller Ranges to come to the fore, with Travis Cloke among one of the best contested marks in history, regardless of conditions.

All-Star Team of the AFL Draft Era: Which club is the best of the best?

EVERY year, a new crop of AFL Draft talents rise up and make waves at AFL level. Some clubs such as Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons are referred to as ‘footy factories’. Others are less well known, but nonetheless vital in providing players with their start to the AFL.

Over the past couple of months, Draft Central has gone through all of the NAB League, SANFL and WAFL clubs and tried to determine the best 24-player squad for their respective clubs. The captains and vice-captains were determined by the public through Instagram voting. Now, it is up to the public to decide which All-Star Team is the greatest of the lot. That’s right, the 30 teams from Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia are going head to head in a knockout draw.

Which teams are competing?

NAB League [12]: Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Dandenong Stingrays, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons, Western Jets
SANFL [9]: Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, Port Adelaide, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens
WAFL [9]: Claremont, East Fremantle, East Perth, South Fremantle, Peel Thunder, Perth, Subiaco, Swan Districts, West Perth

How will it work?

Each day at 10am, we will publish the two All-Star Teams of the AFL Draft era, and the public will be able to vote through the article, Facebook and Twitter, with the overall winner moving through to the next round.

Given there are 30 teams, two sides who we have picked out as the top two seeds – East Fremantle and Geelong Falcons – will have the bye in the opening round, with the other 28 teams seeded appropriately similar to the All-Star Player voting (3rd against 28th, 4th against 27th etc.).

Who is up first?

The first All-Star Team battle is between a couple of metropolitan sides who we have seeded 16th and 17th in the draw. They both have some absolute elite stars, but Calder Cannons and Western Jets will begin the voting on Monday. They will be followed by the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges on Tuesday, before a cross-state clash sees third seed Port Adelaide Magpies tackle Peel Thunder.

Classic Contests: Begley and Stephenson combine for nine, but Pioneers clinch shootout

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Bendigo Pioneers and Eastern Ranges. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, when the two sides met in Kyabram for what was a high-scoring affair.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 6
Saturday May 7, 1:00pm
Kyabram Recreational Reserve

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.7 | 7.7 | 16.8 | 19.11 (125)
EASTERN RANGES 1.1 | 8.7 | 9.11 | 15.14 (104)

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Neaves 4, K. Kirby 3, B. Whitford 3, A. Schumacher 2, J. Atley 2, C. Jones, J. Rosengren, M. Booth, N. Twigg, D. Henderson.
Eastern:
J. Begley 5, J. Stephenson 4, S. Hayes 2, J. Lynch, T. Jacotine, P. Wallis, N. Mullenger-McHugh.

BEST:

Bendigo: A. Schumacher, C. Jones, D. Henderson, B. Blake, J. Sheahan, L. Wallace
Eastern:
J. Begley, J. Stephenson, H. Nolan, N. Mullenger-Mchugh, T. North, J. Lynch

Draftees in action:

Bendigo: Joe Atley, Kayle Kirby, Angus Schumacher, Kane Farrell
Eastern: Josh Begley, Jaidyn Stephenson, Tom North, Sam Hayes, Nathan Mullenger-McHugh

There may have been a host of big names missing when Bendigo and Eastern went head-to-head in the 2016 TAC Cup season, but it didn’t stop the extensive talent afield from putting on a high-scoring showcase. A total of 34 goals were kicked between the Pioneers and Ranges as they met in Kyabram, with 17 individual goalkickers spread between the teams, and two star Ranges combining for more than half of their side’s score.

Eastern made the long road trip without the likes of Jordan Gallucci, Callum Brown, and Dylan Clarke, as well as a host of jets from their bottom-age crop which went on to produce 10 AFL draftees. Bendigo also boasted a terrific under-age core in that period, but would not have access to the likes of Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien, and Brent Daniels for this encounter. Nine future AFL players still took the field, split five to four in the Ranges’ favour.

Speaking of favours, a clear scoring end was established throughout the match, and the hosts would have access to it first-up. Eight scoring shots to two told of Bendigo’s immense territorial gains, but a 12-point quarter time lead meant the Pioneers had failed to truly capitalise. The game would be opened up massively after the first break, with Eastern edging ahead by one goal at half time on the back of 7.6 to Bendigo’s 5.0.

The third term is often referred to as the premiership quarter, and it was where the Pioneers made their move. In keeping with their accurate conversion rate in term two, the hosts slammed home 9.1 to stream ahead by 39 points heading into the final break. It proved more than enough to withstand Eastern’s final charge, as the Ranges remained 21 points adrift upon the final siren.

Five goals from that year’s Victorian draft bolter, Josh Begley, and four from Collingwood star Jaidyn Stephenson were not enough to peg back Bendigo’s even spread of scorers, even with bigman Sam Hayes (two goals) getting in on the act. Begley was rightly named best afield for the Ranges, with draftees Nathan Mullenger-McHugh and Tom North also recognised for their efforts.

But they would prove fruitless, as Jonty Neaves (four goals) led Bendigo’s scoring surge, backed by the likes of Kayle Kirby (three goals), and Angus Schumacher (two), who was named the winners’ most valuable player. Cooper Jones and Darby Henderson both collected 26 touches to be named among the best, while Joe Atley found it 24 times and Kane Farrell, 18.

The Pioneers would hardly improve their ladder position by season’s end, missing out on finals as their 4-14 record was only good enough for 11th. Eastern fared much better, but only added three more wins to their tally after Round 6, finishing eighth at 7-10. The Ranges were pipped by Sandringham Dragons in a dramatic elimination final to end their season.

Classic Contests: Menadue helps Jets hold off Ranges fightback

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 19 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Western Jets. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2014, when the two sides met for a mid-season clash at Box Hill City Oval.

2014 TAC Cup, Round 10
Sunday June 15, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

EASTERN RANGES 3.1 | 6.3 | 8.5 | 12.9 (81)
WESTERN JETS 4.1 | 9.3 | 12.4 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS:

Eastern: S. Weideman 3, P. Klep 2, S. Lennox 2, B. Hardwick 2, M. Traynor, R. Sheridan-Ferrie, L. Sverns
Western:
B. Coletta 5, L. Spiteri 3, C. Menadue 2, M. Orr, L. Delahey, R. Stuhldreier

BEST:

Eastern: L. Hannon, D. Crocker, J. Collins, J. Healy, M. Traynor, A. Cotte
Western:
B. Myers, C. Menadue, B. Monk, B. Coletta, M. Orr, L. Spiteri

Draftees in action:

Eastern: Blake Hardwick, Sam Weideman
Western: Connor Menadue

Only percentage separated the Western Jets (third) and Eastern Ranges (sixth) before their Round 10 TAC Cup clash in 2014, making for what would be a scintillating contest. Both sides boasted 5-4 records to that point and had accumulated their wins in identical fashion. After dropping their first three games for the season, they would embark on five-game winning runs, before both going down in Round 9. With five teams on five wins creating a logjam among the top eight, premiership points were at a premium.

Plenty of draftees came out of either region throughout the 2013/14 period too, though names like Christian Petracca and Ryan Clarke would miss for Eastern, while Western went in without Liam Duggan, Corey Ellis, Jayden Laverde, and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow. Of the future AFL-listed players to take the field were bottom-agers Blake Hardwick and Sam Weideman for the Ranges, with Connor Menadue the lone prospect in that category for Western.

In a high-scoring opening term, Western found a way to edge ahead with four goals to three, acclimatising well to conditions on the road. The Jets would extend their even one-goal lead out to three at the main break, and it seemed as though they would be able to cruise home as the buffer sat at a very handy 23 points heading into the final change.

But Eastern would not go down without a fight, and managed to produce its best term of football at the death. Four unanswered goals helped the Ranges sneak ahead with under five minutes left to play, and it looked for all hope that they simply had more left in the tank – not to mention all the momentum. In need of a hero, Menadue stepped up for Western to boot his side’s only major for the quarter and save the Jets from heartbreak, as they held on to win by four points.

Menadue’s efforts (31 disposals, six marks, five tackles, 2.3) were good enough only for second-best afield honours behind teammate Billy Myers (29 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles). Brandon Coletta (five goals) and Leigh Spiteri (three) were dangerous inside forward 50 for the winners, combining for over half their total goals.

Skipper Luke Hannon was named Eastern’s best for his 31 disposals and 12 tackles, in front of a debuting Jayden Collins. Weideman showed his high-level potential with three goals, while Hardwick added two in a role much different to what he plays for Hawthorn, and Matthew Traynor found plenty of the ball (26 disposals, one goal).

The Jets would go on to add three more wins to its regular season tally to finish with a positive record (9-8) in sixth, but were bundled out in an elimination final at the hands of Dandenong. Eastern slipped as well, missing out on finals by two games with a 7-10 record to slot in to the unwanted ninth place.

Classic Contests: Ranges find a way to hold on against plucky Bushies

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 18 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind the clock back just over a year to when the two sides played out the closest contest between them in nearly a decade.

2019 NAB League, Round 13
Saturday July 6, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.0 | 5.5 | 9.6 | 11.9 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 5.5 | 9.7 | 11.7 | 12.7 (79)

GOALS:

Murray: H. Kaak 3, J. Boyer 3, J. Chalcraft, E. Baxter, M. Holt, Z. Maher, W. Chandler
Eastern:
B. Hickleton 4, M. Mellis 2, C. Downie, H. Keeling, T. Edwards, C. Black, T. Hardstaff, M. Zalac

BEST:

Murray: W. Christie, J. Chalcraft, Z. Barzen, S. Durham, Z. Maher, K. Chalcraft
Eastern:
J. Nathan, B. Hickleton, B. McCormack, M. Mellis, C. Black, T. Garner

Draftees in action:

Murray: Nil
Eastern:
Nil

Two teams in hot form met come Round 13 of last year’s NAB League competition, though there was plenty separating them in terms of ladder position. In the red corner was Eastern, flying high on the back of five-straight wins which put the Ranges firmly in the box seat with a 9-2 record. In the blue corner, Murray had a patch of mid-late season form to string together three-consecutive wins coming into this contest, but would have to challenge the ladder-leaders without co-captains Lachlan Ash and Dylan Clarke.

That factor looked like having a telling impact early at Norm Minns Oval. While the sides went goal-for-goal across the first ten minutes with two apiece, the Ranges began to take hold of the opening term. If not for some inaccuracy (5.5), the visiting team would have been further in front, but were made to settle for a 17-point buffer.

In a case of déjà vu, the Bushrangers again found the opening major in term two, but were sucked into another goal-for-goal sequence – this time across the first 15 minutes of the term. The Ranges would break away again with two late majors, extending the margin to 28 points at half time.

Murray fell away, then reversed the pattern in the third term to get back to within three goals heading into the final break, giving them a fighting chance at snatching the win. After just six minutes in the fourth period, the hosts had managed to get back to level pegging, but Ben Hickleton‘s goal three minutes later to put Eastern back in front would prove the last major score of the game. As good teams do, Eastern simply found a way to win once again, having made the most of their opportunities after half time with 3.0 to Murray’s 6.6.

Hickleton finished the game with four goals, including the all-important game winner, with Mitch Mellis Eastern’s only other multiple goalkicker (two) to go with 22 disposals. Jimmy Boyer and Hudson Kaak each bagged three majors for Murray, while Jye Chalcraft led all comers with 29 disposals. Zak Pretty joined Mellis on 22 touches to be Eastern’s leading ball winners. Bigmen Joel Nathan (14 disposals, three marks) and Will Christie (19 disposals, eight marks, 25 hitouts) were named best afield for their respective sides.

The Ranges would of course go on to win the minor premiership in grand style on the back of a 12-3 record, but fell at the final hurdle to a rampant Oakleigh side in the decider. Murray added just one more win to its tally across the final month, and was bundled out in Wildcard Round by Dandenong after finishing ninth. Ash was the sole player across the two regions to be picked up in the 2019 National Draft, after Eastern’s Cody Hirst got his chance at Sydney at the mid-season opening.