Tag: Hamish Murphy

The run home: Western Jets

WESTERN Jets have had an up-and-down season to date, but still loom as a dark horse in the finals series. They sit sixth, and while they would need both Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers to lose both games to finish top four, they have enough about them to secure a top six spot and play a bottom two team in the Wildcard Round. The Jets have looked very good at times, and realistically, the blowout 20-goal loss to Dandenong Stingrays makes their points against look worse than it actually is. Defensively they stand up well, and they rate around where they sit offensively, which makes them unpredictable and good enough to cause headaches for the top sides.

Wins: 8
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Position: 6th
Points For: 899 (6th)
Points Against: 1001 (9th)
Percentage: 90
Points: 32

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Northern Knights – Avalon Airport Oval
R16: vs. Bendigo Pioneers – Queen Elizabeth Oval

National Combine Invitations: [4] Daly Andrews, Zak Butters, Buku Khamis, Xavier O’Halloran

State Combine Invitations: [1] Stefan Radovanovic

Five players received combine invitations, with the speedy Daly Andrews and Stefan Radovanovic, intercept machine Buku Khamis, and the X-factor in Zak Butters, all earning the right to test at the National and State combines. Along with the quartet, they have consistent midfielders Connor TharJaden Rice and Jack Watkins roaming through the midfield, talls Aaron Clarke and Hamish Murphy up either end, and a host of bottom-agers who have shown enough to suggest they will have plenty of draft potential next year. Steven KyriazisLucas Rocci and Emerson Jeka provide a forward presence, while Darcy Cassar and Josh Honey link between midfield and forward.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Connor Thar – 355 (1st overall)
2 – Jack Watkins – 284
3 – Darcy Cassar – 239
4 – Jaden Rice – 221
5 – Daly Anderws – 214

Marks:

1 – Darcy Cassar – 58 (eq. 20th overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 53
3 – Buku Khamis – 52
4 – Aaron Clarke – 51
4 – Steven Kyriazis – 51

Contested Possessions:

1 – Jack Watkins – 155 (2nd overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 147 (5th overall)
3 – Jaden Rice – 142 (8th overall)
4 – Xavier O’Halloran – 104
5 – Darcy Cassar – 103

Tackles:

1 – Jack Watkins – 111 (1st overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 77 (6th overall)
3 – Lucas Rocci – 57
4 – Josh Honey – 54
5 – Jaden Rice – 53

Hitouts:

1 – Darren Walters – 285 (2nd overall)
2 – Tom Warner – 59
3 – Aaron Clarke – 58
4 – Ayden Tanner – 31
5 – Emerson Jeka – 15

Clearances:

1 – Jack Watkins – 67 (3rd overall)
2 – Connor Thar – 62 (4th overall)
3 – Xavier O’Halloran – 58 (5th overall)
4 – Jaden Rice – 52
5 – Darren Walters – 28
5 – Zak Butters – 28

Inside 50s:

1 – Xavier O’Halloran – 62 (eq. 1st overall)
2 – Jack Watkins – 50 (9th overall)
3 – Connor Thar – 47
3 – Daly Andrews – 47
5 – Darcy Cassar – 45

Rebounds:

1 – Spencer Johnson – 38 (12th overall)
2 – Hamish Murphy – 37
3 – Jack Papachatzakis – 34
4 – Stefan Radovanovic – 32
5 – Daly Andrews – 30

Goals:

1 – Steven Kyriazis – 16 (eq. 13th overall)
2 – Aaron Clarke – 13
3 – Josh Honey – 12
4 – Daniel Pantalleresco – 9
5 – Darcy Cassar – 8

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 13

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

EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

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

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

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

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

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

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

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

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

 

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

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

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

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 12

THERE were some low-scoring contests in Round 12, as well as some big final scores for some teams in a weekend littered with heavy rain, and we took down notes at the four Saturday games. The Gippsland Power/Murray Bushrangers notes will come tomorrow.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Northern Knights

By Owen Leonard and Scott Dougan

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Alastair Richards 

In cold, windy conditions at the Trevor Barker Oval by Port Phillip Bay, Richards’ skills stood out early. The outside midfielder was always looking to take the game on and has serious speed. Used his pace to link up on numerous occasions, dishing off and receiving handballs. Richards did not stop running all day and applied strong pressure when the opposition were in possession. The type of player whose presence makes the opposition nervous.

#6 Harry Houlahan

With the Dragons’ Vic Metro representatives out of the side, Houlahan was able to play as a pure midfielder, a promotion from his usual defensive role – and he relished the opportunity. The Mentone Grammar school football captain had no issues finding the leather, while his gut-running was on display, gaining possession all over the ground. Put the icing on an impressive performance by kicking truly after a 50-metre penalty in the third quarter, which effectively brought the margin to an unassailable 25 points in horrible conditions. It was the type of game that could have Houlahan firmly placed into draft calculations.

#7 Liam Stocker

After missing the Vic Metro campaign at the Under 18 National Championships with a broken jaw, Stocker’s Dragons return was nothing short of sensational. The clearance king dominated around stoppages and displayed the scarce ability to not only win the ball on the inside, but find the Sherrin on the outside, too. A genuine midfield bull, Stocker’s road to the draft could be similar to that of Clayton Oliver’s, who also missed the national championships, but dominated the back end of the TAC Cup season to eventually be drafted with pick four. Stocker shrugged off tackles with ease and consistently sent the ball to the hotspot. Menacing when resting up forward, when the ball is in Stocker’s territory, something is going to happen. Plays similarly to Dustin Martin – one to watch closely as the season starts to enter its twilight.

#19 Sam Forbes

Playing a traditional winger role, Forbes was an important outside player in trying conditions. While the St Kevin’s College student isn’t a mass accumulator, he often made possessions count, and on a day where disposal efficiency was understandably down, Forbes’ above-average skills stood out. In addition, he was a consistent outside option, constantly hovering around stoppages.

#33 Will Kennedy

Coming off a strong game against Oakleigh, Kennedy played a centre half-back role against the Knights. An important piece of the Dragons defensive puzzle which were able to rebound any Northern Knights threat on multiple occasions and kept the opposition to a paltry five goals.

#61 Fischer McAsey

The bottom-age ruckman was a strong presence for the majority of the day. More than competitive in ruck contests, McAsey gave the Dragons midfielders regular opportunity. Notably, McAsey’s big frame was well-used to block the defensive 50 exits of the opposition, even despite not intercept marking, creating a strong contest where Dragons ‘crumbers were often beneficiaries.

Northern Knights:

#1 Ryan Gardner

Gardner won plenty of the ball early in the first quarter, on the inside and outside of the contest. He provided plenty of run for the Knights going forward and his ball use was clean, especially on an extremely windy day. Gardner was involved in a crunching tackle from an opposition player half-way through the first term and was unable to take any further part in the game.

#7 Harrison Grace

Grace was involved in the Knights first scoring play of the day, delivering the ball inside 50 to the leading Ryan Bowkett. During the second quarter, Grace spent plenty of time on the bench with what appeared to be a sore back. He was unable to return to the field, leaving the Knights two men short for the remainder of the game.

#15 Oscar White

In only his fifth match of the season, White impressed playing predominately on the wing. He was efficient around stoppages, demonstrating his clean hands in tight situations. During the first quarter, White took a diving mark in the middle of the ground and was able to kick the ball forward, resulting in an important goal for the Knights.

#17 Josh D’Intinosante

The classy forward was instrumental up forward, booting two goals. D’Intinosante has impressive goal sense and always finds a way to hit the scoreboard. His ball use was exceptionally clean in blustery conditions and his decision making was evident. He showcased his defensive pressure with some impressive chase down tackles, proving that he can influence the contest both offensively and defensively.

#30 Justin McInerney

McInerney was significant for the Knights, playing across half-back and on the wing. His speed on the outside was clear and he worked hard to present himself as a strong option for his teammates around the ground. His ball use was good for the majority of the day and he even took some of his teams’ defensive kick-outs.

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs Eastern Ranges

By James Goller and Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers:

#31 Will Golds
 
I’ve watched him play a couple of times by today he really stood out. Playing on the wing. Golds had 26 possessions for the day. Golds showed he has really good foot skills on both his left and right. He was the best kick out there. He showed also some speed breaking away from stoppages. What was impressive was the defensive part to his game. Laying four tackles. He was also running hard defensively. Not only that he works himself out of traffic fairly well. Definitely one to keep a eye on.
 
#5 Xavier O’ Neill
 
He had really good hands in close. He had a little bit of class about him took the game on at times that paid off. His kicking was solid.
 
#32 Jack Ross
 
Ross is a inside mid. He kicked the ball ok and I thought he was composed and made some good decisions with It. Kicked a great clearance goal from about 50 out. With a little bit of wind helping. The big thing for Ross is his defensive pressure. You know what your going to get. He laid seven tackles.
 
#17 Trent Bianco
 
The bottom-ager had a really strong game for the chargers collecting 25 possessions for the day. He is a good kick and used that asset of his game well. Bianco is real class and definitely one to keep a eye on for the 2019 draft. His defensive parts to his game were on show having six tackles.
 

Eastern Ranges:

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis started the match on the wing, having a positive effect around stoppages and as an outside runner. He won some early contested possessions and was able to put his speed to good use, bursting away from congestion in tight situations. He found plenty of space on the outside and worked hard to have an influence on the match, but due to the Chargers dominance on the day, his impact was limited.

#23 Xavier Fry

In difficult conditions, Fry’s skills were important for the Ranges when rebounding out of the defensive 50. He spent most of the game across the half-back line but also drifted through the midfield at times. Fry accumulated plenty of possessions and made smart decisions with the ball in hand, rarely turning the ball over. He spreads well from the contest and his work-rate gives him the ability to get involved in many passages of play. Fry was one of the Ranges most dominant players on the day.

#24 Kye Quirk

After amassing 30 disposals for the Ranges last week, Quirk found it difficult to have the same impact against the Chargers. He started the match across half-forward but saw little of the ball, with the Charges booting six goals to the zero in the first quarter. Quirk was at his best in tight, gathering the majority of his possessions in contested situations. He showcased his clean skills throughout the match, especially at ground level. He drifted forward in the fourth quarter and was able to hit the scoreboard, kicking an impressive goal from 40 metres out.

 

Dandenong Stingrays vs Geelong Falcons

By Brandon Hutchinson

Dandenong Stingrays

#13 Riley Bowman

Bowman put a lot of space between his best efforts this Saturday, kicking one goal in the first term and an additional three in the fourth. It was evident in the final quarter that he knew how to work the forward line. Bowman created space leading up the guts and read the ball best in the marking contest, all while positioning himself for the best kick at goal. He was one of Dandenong’s best for the day with his final efforts reminding the competition why the Stingrays are placed at the top. Though in the future, we would prefer to see more consistency across the game. It seems Bowman punished a withering Falcons, sensing weakness in the game’s last moments.

#15 Toby Bedford

When Bedford grips the football, it is not likely a player will bring him to ground. His countless efforts on the contested ball had him take it with ease, showing great agility and control as he passed the ball off to the best option. Despite players hanging off him, he stood his ground and cleaned up the congestion. His ball work was clean, deliberate and effective, often centring the ball and assisting successful link ups through the passage. An instinctive footballer, Bedford showed no trouble beating his opponent on the loose ball and seemed oblivious to pressure. He brought quick hands to everything and remained agile and evasive when it meant feeding off the football. With repeat inside 50s, Bedford had a hand in most goals, directly assisting a couple as well. It’s obvious Dandenong’s midfield would be very different without him gaining the hard ball.

#17 Finlay Bayne

Consistent and effective, Bayne kept himself in form and involved for all four terms. He was great off hands, with line breaking passes and his involvement in a good deal of link ups. He worked his man well around the stoppages and picking up a handful of clearances. He lost the ball on the wing in the Dandenong’s forward half but with a tackle and follow up pressure, he managed to force a turn over. A composed footballer with great vision.

#20 Sam De Koning

De Koning’s regard for his own safety is quite minimal as evident on the pitch. Charging head on into the contest, De Koning will put his body over the everything. If he was late to the hard ball, he made his opponent earn that possession. He laid strong tackles to help switch momentum and promoted a counter attack which aided in their victory. The aggressive backman provided an offensive brand of defence to the Stingrays backline, keeping his opponents off balance and under pressure as they approach goals. Though wild off the football, De Koning shows great focus with it in hand, switching well and picking the right pass to clear the backline.

#58 William Hamill

Hamill’s efforts off the ball proved just as effective as his ability with it in hands. His defensive work was on display throughout the midfield, as he forced the turnovers and stopped ball carriers in their tracks. Possessions were made to be worked for when Hamill was close by, keeping his man under pressure until the ball released. He opened the game up with his smothering, tackling and general presence around a contest.  In the first quarter, he prevented a definite goal by bringing his opponent to ground. He showed good composure and focus when he set his sights downfield, picking up repeat inside 50s and a beautiful goal on the run from the pocket. It was his presence through midfield that helped trap the ball forward and crushed rising momentum as the Falcon’s propelled forward.

 

Geelong Falcons

#39 Connor Idun

Showed off his power around stoppages, and lengthy kicks when clearing danger. Idun knows how to use his body to dominate his opponents, powering through congestion and holding his form despite being tackled. He was strong overhead, gaining a few intercepts and winning the contested mark. Idun made no mistake in desperate times, bringing clean hands to the low ball and clearing kicks out from their defensive half. A built unit who offers a lot in the midfield and possibly one of the safest options to hit up in a link.

#44 Sam Conway

Conway dominated the ruck contest despite having his opponent switched on him quite regularly. He proved very adaptable in switching up his approach to different opponents, using a superior leap to get first hands to the ball. He was pivotal to the Falcon’s clearance work out of the midfield, but did not utilise himself well enough out of the ruck work. It would be good to see him collect a few disposals and make an impact in ways outside the bounce.

#48 Blake Schlensog

Though quiet for much of the game, Schlensog had a decent final quarter. The big man led up the ground well and ran hard at the loose ball. He showed no problems getting low to the ground, laying strong tackles and scooping up the football. He is clean off hands and quick for his size. He showed great strength in bringing down Matthew Cumming in front of goal, but was unlucky not to be awarded a free. It was unfortunate that we only saw glimpses of Schlensog’s greatness on Saturday, but the young man was pivotal nonetheless.

#49 Dane Hollenkamp

Hollenkamp marked more of Dandenong’s ball than their forwards, racking up a tonne of intercept marks for the day. Playing out of full back, Hollenkamp often found himself in one on one contests in the square, winning a lot more than he lost. His ability to read the ball and his strong hands overhead, made him near impossible to beat even with added pressure. He positioned himself well and lunged at the footy at the best moment. On the loose ball, he used his body better against his man, taking him out of the contest and rushing it to safety. He was unfortunate a couple times when outnumbered in crucial moments, so had a couple goals kicked on him. Though given that’s the life of a backman, a couple isn’t so bad. Hollenkamp played some elite level defence this weekend and despite being the smaller man, worked his opponent to perfection, rebounding the football countless times.

 

Calder Cannons vs Western Jets

By Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#8 Lachlan Sholl

In his first TAC Cup outing since returning from Vic Metro duties, Sholl looked a class above. Typically effective by foot, the clever half-back often played a kick behind the ball and intercepted a number of Western’s rushed forays forward with some strong overhead marks. When the ball hit the deck, Sholl showed both a clean pair of hands and heels to set Calder on the attack in a very direct manner. His trap gather at speed in the third quarter was a particular highlight, and had the TAC Cup Radio team fawning over him.

#27 Tye Browning

Browning was another Cannon who looked a step above, despite requiring some time to warm into the contest. His first of two goals came in the opening term with the Cannons only managing to snare five behinds to that stage – it was a tidy snap from about 35 out in blustery RAMS conditions. His hands were strong as we’ve come to expect, with some trademark one-hand gathers catching the eye. Mixing time between the wing and half-forward, Browning made most of his impact during the second half as he found more of the ball in forward positions and ended up with another goal and assist to round out his day.

#30 Mitch Podhajski

Fresh off a successful stint with Coburg in the VFL, Podhajski was near best-on in a hard-working display. Starting in the midfield, the overager worked Jets star Stefan Radovanovic over at the stoppages with some solid contested ball gets as he willed the pill forward. As if he were his side’s barometer, Podhajski came to life in the third quarter with a blistering run from centre half back to assist Will Jury’s goal, while also setting one up for Mohammed Abou-Eid later in the term. Having spent more time forward in the second half, Calder’s co-captain also managed to hit the scoreboard with what was one of two highlight reel moments. His goal came after a desperate run down tackle on Daly Andrews, running on to slot the six-pointer from 50 and displaying his enormous work rate. The second highlight was a contested mark floating in from the side of a pack, but he failed to convert the set shot.

 

Western Jets:

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews took guard on the wing and did not stray far from it throughout the match. While the way the game was played didn’t exactly suit his brand of football, Andrews was still able to show off his agility and speed in short bursts. The wingman has a good tendency of keeping his hands free while being tackled, and it proved valuable as it allowed the Jets to keep the ball rolling. Andrews found himself on the outer at most of the stoppages, dipping in at the right moments and dishing out when he managed to snare the ball. He likes to take the game on and went on a big run through the middle of the ground in the third quarter to remind spectators of his presence.

#20 Darcy Cassar

The bottom-ager was hard to miss with his dreadlocks and long sleever, calmly going about his business throughout the day. While he started forward, Cassar pushed hard up the ground and made it to a wealth of contests, often accompanying Lachie Sholl at the stoppages early on. A clever user of the ball by hand, Cassar looked unfazed under pressure and is a natural footballer. He copped a heavy knock in the second half from a marking contest which looked to have taken him out of the game.

#37 Hamish Murphy

Murphy had the tough job of accompanying an in-form Jake Riccardi in the early stages of the game, and did relatively well to keep the mobile forward goaless despite his dominance. Riccardi almost caught him out with a fumbled mark, while also catching him holding the ball, but Murphy kept at it and was more composed leading into the main break. The key back looked at his best when the ball hit the deck where he gathered well, ran his measure and delivered the ball effectively. Unfortunately, there was not much he could do in the face of the Cannons second half onslaught.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Another star returning from Vic Metro duties, Radovanovic put in a solid shift for his side. Plying his trade further up the ground in the midfield, Radovanovic was a presence at the stoppages and tried hard to get his trademark run going. While he was caught holding the ball early, the Jet was confident enough to stand in tackles and take them on with good aggression. The highlight of his game was a lunging tackle on Tye Browning in the second quarter which prevented a near-certain major. He was solid defensively, but turned the ball over a few times with rushed kicks out of congestion as Western struggled to find their way forward in the second half.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Murray Bushrangers

By Craig Byrnes

Gippsland Power:

#2 Caleb Serong

Coming off an impressive Vic Country campaign across half forward, the talented bottom ager was given the opportunity to spend long minutes through the midfield and was arguably the most influential player on the ground. He started Gippsland’s dominance with an intercept and two class inside 50s before producing the highlight of the day, an instinctive torpedo from the arc that sailed through the goals with minimal effort. He was brilliantly clean in the slippery conditions and just as effectively defensively, laying eight tackles and doing so with physical intent. A second goal came in the third with a brilliant left foot snap, before eventually ending a quality outing with 23 disposals and five clearances.

#9 Irving Mosquito

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy prospect provided the spark for Gippsland’s fast start, kicking two vital first quarter goals that were worth much more in the horrendous conditions. The first came from a clever crumb, before finding space inside 50 and rolling onto his trusty left boot in characteristic fashion. He was in and out of the game from there on, but the damage was already done in a low scoring contest. He went to the midfield and won some vital clearances, finishing the day with nine disposals and four tackles.

#12 Brock Smith

The reliable bottom age defender didn’t have a whole lot to do as Gippsland dominated possession in the forward half, but did his job well when called upon. He reads the play well and is often found in the prime position against his opponent when the ball arrives. He is a fighter and would have been frustrated to have given away an unlucky free kick inside 50 to Barzen in the final term.

#16 Josh Smith

With Rylan Henkel a late withdrawal due to illness, Smith was forced to take on the ruck load with fellow 17 year-old Marcus Toussaint against Vic Country ruckman Mark Marriott. Giving seven centimetres to his opponent and having to attend many stoppages due to the heavy conditions, Smith exceeded expectations to be one of Gippsland’s best. He competed all day to win 16 hitouts, but made his physical presence known at ground level to lay seven tackles and even cleanly gain possession on occasions. Consecutive intercept marks on the far wing topped off an admirable performance.

#23 Noah Gown

The talented basketballer has been making plenty of noise up forward in recent weeks, but was required to start in defence on Hudson Garoni in the absence of Kyle Reid. While the ball hardly entered Murray’s forward arc, Gown’s close checking literally restricted his highly regarded opponent to zero impact. Garoni did not look himself and came off at half-time, which freed Gown up to go forward. He once again looked dangerous, creating anxiety for his opponent with smart leads and presence. A brilliant one-on-one strength win against Nick Murray in the third term saw him gather possession, turn and calmly kick a goal. Potential bolter.

#29 Boadie Motton

I have been a bit of Boadie Motton advocate for some time now and he continues to provide those AFL attributes that can be easily missed on first glance. He is such a clean and efficient, one touch footballer. After getting an awkwardly spinning wet ball to ground in the first term, he followed up brilliantly to gather and deliver inside 50 to Mosquito for a goal assist. His sharp releases often get teammates into offensive positions that are difficult to defend once executed. He is defensively relevant too, laying nine tackles including a vital holding the ball in the corridor early in the game. If there is one area of improvement, it is turning more of those 15-20 disposal games into 25-30 versions.

Murray Bushrangers:

#5 Ely Smith

Coming off a typically prolific Vic Country debut the week before, the big bodied Smith continued his outstanding form in weather made for his style of play. He is a true stoppage specialist, using his strength to protect his position and powerfully breakaway or push through congestion. His use of the ball was good considering the heavy ball and the contested nature of his possessions, even though an occasional handball missed the intended target. He finished brilliantly on the run with a banana goal in the fourth term to end a solid outing with 30 disposals, eight clearances and six tackles.

#7 Zane Barzen

The extremely talented Barzen started in defence and provided moments throughout the day, as he has done all year without reaching his full potential. He provided a couple of strong defensive one on one efforts deep in the back half, read the play well and rebounded attractively with ball in hand. He moved forward in the second half and looked dangerous on occasions despite the lack of supply, highlighted by a diving lead and nice set shot late. But he has so much more to give and hopefully the talented Shepparton product can get close to his high ceiling by the end of the season.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Another bottom-aged player who was a clear standout for their team, Ash singlehandedly ended numerous potentially dangerous Gippsland chains throughout the day. He was one of the few Bushrangers who found time under pressure, calmly moving through traffic with elite lateral movement on occasions and getting the ball forward. He read the play superbly and put his body on the line, courageously running back with the flight to intercept or acrobatically spoiling to advantage as he did in the second and third terms. A prolific third quarter in particular saved Murray more scoreboard misery and he would end the day with 26 disposals to rival Serong for best on ground honours.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Playing mostly as a small forward option, Chalcraft made the most of the limited opportunities inside 50 to have an impact. He took a brilliantly clean mark on the lead in the second term which unfortunately wouldn’t be paid due to a free further up the ground, but it showcased his elite hands in the slop. He provided another clean moment later in the quarter to gather a ground ball and smartly draw the high free kick inside 50. He missed the set shot, but didn’t waste his next chance in the third term when finding space in the pocket and snapping the set shot to finally bring up the Bushrangers first goal.

#16 Nick Murray

The Bushranger’s number one key defender had plenty to do as Gippsland bombarded its forward arc with entrances throughout the day. He rotated through many opponents including Gown in the second half, throwing his fist at any aerial ball to ensure the contest was killed. He looked hell bent on breaking spoil records Harris Andrews style at times and was rarely, if at all beaten in the air. His only blemish was losing a battle of strength against Gown in the third term that resulted in a goal. You could not question his effort though.

#23 Mark Marriott

The 201cm ruckman was dominant at the stoppages in the absence of Henkel with 31 hitouts, but couldn’t replicate the impact of his opponents at ground level, especially defensively. He gave Ely Smith some silver service at times and possesses good peripheral vision, but it would have been nice to see some greater physical intent and to see him take control as the most experienced ruckman on the ground.

#28 Kyle Clarke

The small midfielder come forward was one of Murray’s better contributors for the day, fighting offensively and defensively to collect 21 disposals, four clearances and eight tackles. He arguably provided the greatest intent on a poor day for his side, highlighted by a multiple effort play defensively in the second term that set up a rare score. While his kicking was a bit messy overall, he hit a diving Chalcraft lace out with a bullet in the centre of the ground during the third term, after taking an impressive mark from the kick out.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 10

IT was a wet and wild weekend of footy, and we watched three games – Western Jets vs. Northern Knights, Dandenong Stingrays vs. GWV Rebels and Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power. Here are some of the notes taken from the day on players in the extended Vic Metro/Vic Country squads as well as some promising bottom-age performances.
 
Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
 
By: Brandon Hutchinson
 
Western:
 
#20 Darcy Cassar
 
Though quiet in the first half, Cassar lifted for his team in the second to help carry the Jets to a comfortable win. His powerful tackles, high marks and inside 50s kept the play swinging in their favour. He helped trap the ball in their attacking half through link-ups and intercept marks. The loose ball had his name all over it, displaying clean hands when scooping it up. In the third quarter, he almost kicked a Goal of the Year contender on the boundary line. If he had not been under pressure, he might have kicked it. The second efforts from Cassar were pivotal in lifting his side and the pressure he applied across the ground was evident throughout a well fought second half.
 
#37 Hamish Murphy
 
Once again Murphy was strong coming out of full-back. He impressed with his ability to lock down his opponents and bring the football to ground in the marking contest. He showed great composure under pressure and proved to be effective by foot. He was strong in the air and was quick to shut down his man, the Northern forwards had their work cut out for them when facing Murphy. He moved up the ground to provide a strong marking option and showed off his long drilling kick through the midfield. Murphy may not have seen a lot of the football on the day, but his work in closing off his competition and decreasing the shots on goal was immense.
 
Northern:
 
#17 Josh D’Intinosante
 
D’Intinosante’s work in the backline during the first quarter was immense. He ejected the ball plenty while under pressure and was often first to the loose ball. He took a pack mark along the wing against Kyriazsis and Clarke, despite his size and dominance overhead. Too hard to hold down, D’Intinosante’s silk in breaking through congestion, and speed getting to the loose ball, assisted in link ups. He earned free kicks while keeping his eyes on the footy and his work in clearing was outmatched. He displayed good composure under pressure and was good overhead given his size.
 
#19 Nathan Howard
 
Howard’s work in the ruck was invaluable. The tall flew high in the ruck, often getting first hands to the ball. He helped his midfielders winning plenty of clearances and demonstrated great confidence when the ball went up. He was a strong option overhead around the ground and he was huge in keeping the Knights within grasp of the win. It would be great to see the tall get more involved off the bounce, as his size and jump could have been utilised more than it was. However, he did not go without having a significant impact, winning the ruck with his perfect timing and accuracy.
 
#30 Justin McInerney
 
After his performance against the Jets on Saturday, McInerney is on his way. Strong in everything he threw himself in, McInerney won his contests and displayed perfect marking overhead. His delivery by hand and foot caused many link-ups, inside 50s, and rebounds. Pressure did not seem to faze him despite the onslaught of forward attack when ejecting the ball. A strong utility around the ground, McInerney was often used to kick through the passage and cut off the Jets attempt at rebounding. Knocking the ball, tapping it down, smothering and shepherding; the stat sheet for McInerney’s one percenters would be impressive. McInerney stood tall for his team and was a dominant force around the ground.
 
 
Dandenong vs. GWV Rebels
 
Dandenong:
 
#7 Jai Taylor
 
Impressed early with his ability to break the lines and use his pace and acceleration to worry opponents. He also applied a good amount of defensive pressure, also chopping off a pass for an intercept mark at half-back, but his subsequent shot on goal was spoiled on the line. Later on he kicked deep inside 50 which led to a goal after accelerating away from his opponent.
 
#17 Finlay Bayne
 
One of the best Stingrays for his work on the inside. Started in attack then when into the middle and had a huge impact. He booted a goal in the first half and handed off a second. He had an early set shot in the first term after running down Lochie Dawson but his shot hit the post. He kicked a remarkable goal running into the square, juggling it between his hands and just getting it to his boot. He looked good on the inside, able to stand up in a tackle, and at ground level, was able to choose the right exit for a handball. Good vision and strong overhead.
 
#23 Campbell Hustwaite
 
Worked hard throughout the four quarters and had a couple of good clearances and rebounded off half-back, dropping into defence to help his side and managing to hit targets up the ground.
 
#28 Bailey Schmidt
 
A dominant performance rotating between ruck and forward, booting four goals in the first half, along with a tonne of hitouts, to be the clear standout in the first half. His athleticism was on show with a great vertical leap, and he was nailing his set shots from everywhere. Not as influential in the second half, but had a good centring kick to Finlay Bayne at centre-half-forward in the third term, then missed a set shot from 20m out straight in front.
 
#36 Stephen Cumming
 
Played all over the ground, but predominantly ruck and forward in the first half. He showed a good vertical leap and a really strong pair of hands taking a number of strong marks out in front in wet conditions. He booted one goal in the first term and three in the second term all from set shots, including one from an intercept mark 30m out. He went into defence in patches and took a good intercept mark at full-back in the final quarter.
 
GWV:
 
#5 Harris Jennings
 
Showed good patches, and is quite strong in the air. Took a number of contested grabs in defence and had a nice left foot kick. Able to dispose of it well and showed quick hands, teaming up with Jed Hill in defence late in the game.
 
#9 Lochie Dawson
 
Worked really hard in the wet conditions, often playing off half-back and being a steadying force back there with a number of marks and just kicking to gain territory. He showcased his footy smarts with his ability to switch play when required and try and open up space.
 
#11 Josh Chatfield
 
An eye-catcher when on, he has a nice vertical leap, strong in the air and can play anywhere on the ground. Started up forward and went to defence. Did not win a heap of it, but has a few tricks.
 
#14 Jed Hill
 
Easily one of the Rebels best, starting forward then going into the midfield in the second quarter and looking ultra impressive. He won the first two clearances of the second term and was able to read the ball well from the taps and at ground level. When in space he has a lovely kick and looks for the one- two when going down the ground. He does have a tendency to rush the kick under pressure, or miss a handball when on his non-dominant side such as in the second term, but overall it was a strong performance. He is very vocal out there and a clear leader in the playing group. Also strong in the air and a hard worker, he has good smarts both through the midfield and up forward.
 
#20 Tylar Watts
 
Playing against Bailey Schmidt and Stephen Cumming, it was always going to be tough in the air, but I did notice that on occasion he would use his body to trap the ball and stop his opponent winning it which was smart. He protected the ball area, enabling him to handball or kick the ball away from the stoppage. When up forward he led up a number of times and laid a good tackle in the third term.
 
#24 Matty Lloyd
 
Returned from Vic Country and played his usual role in defence. He creates run through give and go’s and working hard up the field, often running on the outside for the handball to kick long. He showed off his trademark play-on from a kick-out to use his booming kick to clear the 50m mark. On a couple of occasions he tried to do a bit too much, such as in the opening term when he fended off an opponent but did not see a second opponent coming from behind and was pinged for holding the ball. Is a better long kick than short kick because he kicks through it more.
 
 
Gippsland Power vs. Bendigo Pioneers
 
By: Taylah Melki
 
Gippsland:
 
#9 Irving Mosquito
 
After missing a few weeks with injury, the small forward applied plenty of pressure and looked ominous in the forward line and through the midfield. Though he was not able to hit the scoreboard, Mosquito showed some good patches of play pick-pocketing the footy out of his opponents hands multiple times. His cleanliness around the stoppages and clever ball use was important to provide that spark in their attacking 50 as shown with a clever pick up in the first quarter and quick kick into the forward line to create a forward thrust for his team. He was never far from the footy constantly lurking around the pack ready to break through and run with the ball. His clever taps allowed his teammates run onto the footy while his agility allowed him to open up space and hit targets.
 
#12 Brock Smith
 
Slotted a goal in the opening term of the game after winning a free kick for holding the ball. He tackled hard throughout the match and applied good pressure around the stoppages to try and stop the run of the Pioneers midfielders. He was really clean around the contest and his quick hands allowed him to release his teammates.
 
#22 Ryan Henkel
 
Henkel used his long booming kick to create options up forward and help to provide a contest for his teammates. Showcased his footy smarts to keep the ball in along the boundary line in the third quarter and used his body well to protect the footy and dish off the ball to a teammate.
 
#23 Noah Gown
 
Gown was at his damaging best being named best afield for his strong performance. He attacked the footy and did not take a backwards step throughout the whole game. He worked tirelessly around the stoppages going in hard to win the footy and scrapping for the ball on the deck. Gown applied plenty of physical pressure and took a strong contested mark in the second quarter about 25m out from goal but was unable to convert. He used his long booming kick to Gippsland’s advantage and pushed hard up into the midfield to create an option for his teammates to hit up. Gown competed hard all game, covering the ground well and consistently tackling hard making him really influential for the Power.
 
# 29 Boadie Motton
 
He played a huge role for the Power winning plenty of the footy. Motton worked tirelessly all game and was a real beast in the midfield and down back getting in hard to extract the ball. He was clean in and around the contest and his quick hands were invaluable for Gippsland. Motton showcased his ability to hit targets while under pressure and demonstrated good composure with ball in hand.
 
Bendigo
 
#8 Brodie Kemp
 
Kemp positioned himself well and worked hard all game. He slotted two huge last quarter goals to help seal the deal for the Pioneers. His ability to find the footy in the last term and use it effectively and efficiently was impressive. Kemp showed great composure while under pressure and expressed a high level of footy smarts to be able to hit targets and kick with precision. Another key part of his game was his ability to take strong contested marks.
 
#16 Jacob Atley
 
Really quiet first quarter by his standards but picked up his intensity and hunt for the footy in the second quarter. His follow up efforts around the ground were important and worked himself into the match. Used his running ability to create scoring opportunities up forward. Had the ball on a string in the last quarter, and was instrumental in wrestling the momentum back for the Pioneers. Atley popped up everywhere and was peppering the footy inside 50.
 
#20 James Schischka
 
Was solid once again and took a good intercept mark in the first quarter to stop the forward momentum of the Power. He showcased his aerial ability and strong hands taking good overhead marks. Schischka used the footy well and hit his targets. Started to get more involved in the game in the third term after having a relatively quiet first half.

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 10

AFTER a five-game round last week, the full set is back for Round 10 with all 12 teams taking part in the first of two Futures Rounds. In Futures Rounds, squads are extended to 24, and at least 11 bottom-age players must be in the side. This gives recruiters a chance to get a glimpse of the bottom-age talent coming through the ranks and get an idea about where players sit for 2019.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 10.30am
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill

It would have been hard to believe a few rounds ago, but Eastern Ranges head into the home clash with Calder Cannons on a hot streak, having picked up two consecutive wins and looking strong. They play yet another game there and come up against a Calder Cannons side that took it right up to the Gippsland Power despite the Cannons missing the majority of their best 22. Calder’s two key forwards are in good form, with Jake Riccardi booting four goals in the final term last round to single-handedly ensure the Cannons snatched two points, while John Roumeliotis is building up some consistency after missing three years through knee injuries. Daniel Hanna is rock solid in defence, while Lucas Cavallaro had another consistent performance out of the back half last week and looks to be a danger man in this clash. For Eastern, the loss of Xavier Fry and James Blanck will hurt, but the midfield that got the job done against Bendigo Pioneers is still intact with Lachlan Stapleton, Joel Burleigh, Kye Quirk and Mitch Mellis forming a good quartet in the centre. Ben Cardamone has been consistent in defence. This is set to be a close contest.  

 

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 10.30am
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown

The Western Jets will be disappointed their winning streak was broken last week, with their depth tested against an impressive Geelong Falcons outfit. The Northern Knights on the other hand will be pleased they got over the line against GWV Rebels in tough conditions at MARS Stadium following a good final term. Oscar White and Justin McInerney both return to the visitors team in what will be a boost for the Knights in the clash, while a couple of potential father-son prospects are in for the Jets in Oskar Manton and Tyler Kolyniuk. Western’s strength is in its midfield, similar to Northern, and it will be a great contest to watch Connor Thar, Jack Watkins and Jaden Rice go head-to-head with McInerney, White and Ryan Sturgess among others in a deep midfield group. Aaron Clarke and Steven Kyriazis can cause headaches up forward for the Jets, while talented bottom-ager Josh D’Intinosante has been named at half-back after an impressive game on-ball last week. Patrik Della Rocca, Sunny Brazier and Harrison Grace provide three different elements to the Knights’ forward line, while Hamish Murphy and Darcy Cassar are others who have been important players for the home side this season.  

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 10.30am
Warrawee Park, Oakleigh

A mid-season clash between Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons does not always bring about too many top-age talents given the National Championships and school football commitments, but there is plenty to like about both sides when they go head-to-head at Warrawee Park tomorrow. The Dragons will look to address a form slump due to the amount of upheaval to their side, losing four of the past five games. Meanwhile the Chargers have also slipped, albeit defeating the Murray Bushrangers a couple of weeks ago. A win to Oakleigh could see the Chargers back in the top four, while it could also mean the Dragons drop outside the top eight. On the other side of the coin, the Dragons could move to sixth, and sit just four points behind the Chargers in fifth, with a victory. In line with Futures Round, Oakleigh has gone in with a young, but talented side, with Matt Rowell headlining the bottom-agers after returning from Vic Metro duties. He, Trent Bianco and Bailey Wraith will be important inclusions, in a side that looks to have plenty of grunt, speed and class. After a big day out last week, Matt Day will be a loss up forward, while Sam Harte and Lachlan Bugeja have been consistent, however Atu Bosenavulagi is finding some good form, and Jack Ross is a crucial inclusion as well. For the Dragons, their side might look even stronger on paper, with the return of many players from school football. Key position players Fischer McAsey and Will Kennedy return to the fold to provide some quality height, while Kai Owens, Liam Stocker and Harry Houlahan will provide a good core midfield that will challenge the Chargers.  

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 1pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Dandenong has been the benchmark in the competition this season, and can move eight points clear on top with a victory here and an unlikely loss to Gippsland. For the Rebels, they can leapfrog Geelong into ninth and be just percentage away from Calder in eighth with a win. GWV will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing final term against Northern Knights last weekend. Stephen Cumming is an important inclusion into the team, allowing Bailey Schmidt to go forward more often for the Stingrays, while Finlay Bayne returns to the team due to a bye in school football. Jai Taylor also slots back into the team after representing Vic Country last week, and a midfield of Campbell Hustwaite, Jamie Plumridge and Lachlan McDonnell is always going to be challenging, while Reid Nanscawen was another who stepped up for the Stingrays in Round 9. For the Rebels, they lose Scott Carlin who has been a slick ball user off half-back, but regain Matty Lloyd in the same position, while retaining what on paper could be the most underrated forward line. With Josh Chatfield, Jed Hill, Izaac Grant and Charlie Wilson all rotating through there, the speed and goal sense is high, it will just be putting it all together for four quarters. The Stingrays will head in as strong favourites for the clash, but the Rebels could trouble them with their speed up forward.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 2pm
Windy Hill, Essendon

In an afternoon game, Gippsland Power hosts Bendigo Pioneers at Windy Hill in a venue about halfway between both locations. The Power will be disappointed they only took two points away from their clash against Calder Cannons at home, their second draw of the season at the venue. While the Pioneers notched up another defeat, this time to Eastern Ranges leaving them outright bottom of the table with nine straight losses. They will hope to turn it around with a good win here, but will have to do so without a series of important players. Zane Keighran, Liam Marciano, Josh Grace, Phill Moi Moi and Lucas Caccaviello have all been consistent players of late and will be sorely missed, but the return of AFL Academy member Brodie Kemp will be important for the Pioneers. Along with in-form ruck Daniel Keating and the Perez brothers – Oscar and Flynn – tearing it up on the wings, the Pioneers still have plenty of speed around the ground and capable of getting it inside 50. For the Power, they bring back live-wire Irving Mosquito who did not quite come up last week from a hamstring injury, but seems right to go now, and will be keen to play well in the hope of a Vic Country call-up in the final game against South Australia at GMHBA Stadium. The Power midfield is very strong with Brock Smith, Riley Baldi, Bailey Beck, Boadie Motton and Mosquito forming a really consistent base at the feet of Rylan Henkel. Austin Hodge can play forward or through the midfield, and Tyrone Hayes, Ryan Sparkes and Jake Van Der Pligt provide plenty of speed and rebound out of defence. Gippsland head in as very strong favourites, but they were last week, so they will be hoping to learn from the lessons and grab the four points here.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 2.15pm
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

In the final game of the round, an understrength young Geelong Falcons side meets an almost full-strength Murray Bushrangers outfit in what will be a great challenge for the Falcons. Vic Country selection has not done the Falcons much favours, losing Dane Hollenkamp and Blake Schlensog in what will be exciting for Geelong to see them on the MCG, but more so for the opposition with key position forward and TAC Cup leading goal kicker Hudson Garoni, X-factor Zane Barzen, and talented bottom-ager Lachlan Ash, all returning to the Bushrangers side. Couple that with the fact a virtually untouched midfield of Ely Smith, Dylan Clarke and Kyle Clarke has been performing, and Geelong will need to be at its best to topple the Bushrangers. For Geelong, Brayden Ham continues to put his hand up to recruiters with another four goals last week, named at half-back this week. Baxter Mensch has not slowed down pulling in big numbers and clearances week-in, week-out, while acting captain Cooper Cartledge will be tasked with leading a young defence – while potentially given the job on the in-form Garoni. The match is likely to see what the bottom-agers can do for the Falcons, while the Bushrangers will be supremely confident they can take the four points in this clash.

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 9

MURRAY Bushrangers have bounced back into the top four and now sit just two points behind second after favourable results. The Bushrangers defeated the Bendigo Pioneers, while losses to the Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets ensured the Bushrangers stay outside the top four was just a short one. Meanwhile Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power played out a draw, and the Northern Knights came from behind to defeat GWV Rebels away.

Western Jets vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Brandon Hutchinson

In poor conditions at Avalon Airport Oval, the Falcons and Jets were locked in a tight contest ending in a low a low scoring affair. By the end of the first, Falcons led by a goal, and by halftime that dropped to just a point. The game was scrappy and accuracy was less than subpar, but by the third the Falcons took control taking a 10-point lead and holding it until the end of the game.

Brayden Ham (18 disposals and six inside 50s) was pivotal in the Falcons win, having kicked four goals for the game. Cooper Cartledge stepped up to captain his side and dominated in the final quarter, taking plenty of intercept marks and finishing the game with 18 disposals, seven marks and five rebounds. Titit Nyak (15 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds) Baxter Mensch (34 disposals, seven marks, five clearances and seven inside 50s and one goal) Sheldon Ham (11 disposals and three inside 50s) also impressed with great composure and ball sense.

Hamish Murphy played strong out of the backline, keeping centred and in control of the ball. Darcy Cassar and Lucas Rocci fought hard through the Jets’ midfield to earn the contested ball and Steven Kyriazis played supreme overhead. The boys fought hard but were unfortunate in their fight back during the second half.

 

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Liam Connop

On a breezy day at Shepley Oval, top-side Dandenong were too strong for a gallant Oakleigh. The Stingrays were noticeably taller than their opposition over the ground, which would be influential as the game went on. Though the game was tight early, Dandenong broke the shackles in the second term, piling on five goals to one to lead by 42 points at half-time. Despite this, the Chargers fought hard until the final siren, eventually succumbing to a 55-point loss and losing a place in the top four.

Campbell Hustwaite (22 possessions, 11 tackles) was great in-and-under all day in the midfield for the Stingrays, while Reid Nanscawen (26 touches, six marks and five tackles) had an outstanding game in the midfield. Effective ball-use was provided off half-back by Will Hamill (16 possessions, three marks) and Hayden Young (12 possessions, three marks) to help set-up many attacking plays for the Stingrays.

For the Chargers, Jake Gasper (13 possessions, four tackles, two goals) presented to the midfielders all day while teammates Xavier O’Neill (22 possessions) and Fraser Elliott (21 possessions) were prominent in the midfield. Daniel Scala (13 possessions, seven tackles) also tried hard all day, competing well to win the footy.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Peter Williams

Murray Bushrangers have bounced back from a rare loss to Oakleigh Chargers last week, to record a 40-point win over Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Sunday. Murray booted the only two goals of the first quarter, and led by 20 points at the main break. Much like the first term, Murray came out firing in the third quarter, booting the only three goals of the term to stretch their lead to 39 points at the final break. A spirited Pioneers outfit only lost the final quarter by a point, but still suffered their eighth consecutive loss.

Jimmy Boyer and Ely Smith were busy for the Bushrangers, racking up 28 disposals each. Boyer took seven marks and laid five tackles, while Smith was instrumental on the inside with nine clearances and nine tackles. Kyle Clarke had a massive 24 kicks from his 25 disposals, also notching up five marks, six clearances, four rebounds and eight tackles. Up forward Jordon Butts was the main man in Hudson Garoni‘s absence, slotting six goals, while Bailey Frauenfelder had plenty of chances with five scoring shots from 19 disposals, but finished the game with 1.4. Bottom-ager Jye Chalcraft was one of the best on the ground, with his agility and forward prowess resulting in him collecting 24 disposals, four marks, four tackles and booting a goal.

Liam Marciano was once again impressive for the Pioneers, racking up 25 disposals, seven marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds. Jacob Atley was equally as busy with 25 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and two rebounds. The Perez brothers continued their good form from the week before with Oscar booting two goals from 21 disposals and six marks, while Flynn racked up 20 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four inside 50s. Zane Keighran got on the scoreboard with two majors, while Noah Wheeler had an equal team-high four clearances to go with his 18 disposals.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons

By: Peter Williams

Jake Riccardi-inspired Calder Cannons outfit has stunned an in-form Gippsland Power at Morwell on Sunday. The Power went into the game as strong favourites, having brought back a number of talented players into the line-up, although they were still missing some stars due to Vic Country. The Cannons were well and truly picked apart thanks to the high level of Vic Metro representation, meaning their next tier of players had to stand up, and they certainly did that. When Gippsland held a 16-point lead at half-time, things looked good for the home side, but the determined Cannons fired plenty of shots in the second half, to hit the front at the final break by a single kick. Gippsland refused to give in and threw everything at the Cannons, but it was the over-ager Riccardi who single-handedly dominated the scoreboard, booting four goals in the final term, including the last goal of the game, to tie the scores and split the points. It was Gippsland’s second draw of the season after splitting the points with Northern Knights earlier in the year at the same venue.

Riccardi was the star of the show, booting 5.2 for the game off 10 disposals (eight kicks) making the most of his opportunities, while also taking six marks and laying two tackles. Sam Graham topped the disposal count for Calder with 20 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while also laying nine tackles. Ismail Moussa had 19 disposals and five rebounds, while Lucas Cavallaro was a rock in defence, notching up a game-high eight rebounds – three more than any other player. Sam Ramsay (19 disposals and four marks) and Daniel Hanna (18 disposals and six marks) were also among the high possession winners.

For Gippsland, Riley Baldi had a good day out with 29 disposals, nine tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s, while overager Austin Hodge was consistent again with 24 disposals, five marks, four tackles and four inside 50s, while also nailing two goals. Bottom-ager Brock Smith had 19 disposals, six clearances and booted two goals in his return to the team from Vic Country, while Josh Smith booted three goals from 14 disposals, while sharing the ruck load with 10 hitouts. Jake Van Der Pligt had another promising game in defence with a team-high five rebounds from 19 disposals and seven marks. Bailey Beck (20 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Rylan Henkel (26 hitouts) were others that impressed.

 

GWV Rebels vs. Northern Knights

By: Cameron Ross

Ugly conditions made it difficult, but the Northern Knights overpowered the GWV Rebels for a big win at MARS Stadium in Ballarat on Sunday. It was a game of inches with both teams having their opportunities to claim the four points and with the south-westerly breeze favouring the Midland Highway end, they needed to take their chances kicking to this end if they were to win. Both teams struggled in the first quarter but seemed to settle as the game progressed.

From early in the first quarter, Izaac Grant looked superb. The Rebels forward kicked his sides only two goals in the first term, the second being a delightful piece of play. The Knights kicked a very important goal against the run of play and into the wind in the last five minutes of the quarter, signalling their intent to win.

Both teams started to adjust to the conditions in the second quarter, and the Rebels began to clean up their disposal, and use their running players and when Grant kicked his third at the fourth minute mark, it looked as though it was going to be a good day for his side. However, this kicked the Knights into gear, and after Patrik Della Rocca responded moments later, the Knights all of a sudden were all over the Rebels. But the Knights struggled to capitalise on this momentum, kicking their set shots poorly, and not allowing for the wind anywhere near enough. The Knights missed three or four crucial goals, holding an eight-point lead at half-time.

The third term was the Grant show. He was outstanding kicking another three goals, bringing his overall tally to six up until three quarter time. The final quarter was tense and tight, but with the Rebels holding a slender lead for the majority. However, once again, the Rebels began to falter in the last 10 minutes of the final quarter, and you could see the Knights players running over the top of them. The Knights were first to the footy, and pressuring the Rebels players into uncharacteristic mistakes. However, the Rebels did have a chance to win it. In the final two minutes of the game, the Rebels owned the ball inside their forward 50. Despite it being chaotic, Charlie Wilson attempted a quick kick out of the pack which dribbled into the point post. This was as close as the Rebels got, as the resulting throw in was cleared as the Knights clung on for the victory.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, this game was like so many others for them this year. They have had so many opportunities to win games, and have not been able to get the job done. Instead of being 2-6-1, the Rebels could easily be 5-4, as the Bendigo, Oakleigh and now the Knights games were there to be won. The Knights deserved this win however. Della Rocca was impressive up forward, Josh D’Intosante was superb in the middle and the Knights engine room was outstanding and outworked the Rebels all day. Knights key defender Stefan Uzelac was their best player on the day. He stood up in big moments, and intercepted numerous inside 50 attempts. Grant was the best player for the Rebels, kicking seven goals in a losing side. Many of his goals came from 15-20 out, but this did not mean they weren’t deserved. He worked hard to get himself in the right positions and earned his big bag.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges

By: Peter Williams

Sandringham Dragons have made it two wins on the trot, defeating Eastern Ranges in a scrappy affair at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, claiming a 22-point win. The Dragons held their opponents scoreless in the opening term and a wasteful second quarter saw Eastern boot one goal from eight scoring shots as the home side lead by seven points at the main break. A four goals to zero third quarter blew the low-scoring game open to hand the Dragons a 31-point lead, before Eastern used the breeze to boot three majors in the final term and draw within 14, before a Dawit McNeish goal in the dying moments pushed it out to 22 by the final siren.

Liam Stocker was best on ground for the second consecutive week, notching up 30 disposals, five marks, four tackles, 10 clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds, while Jackson Voss – son of Brett – had another promising effort between midfield and defence with 24 disposals, five marks, five clearances, two inside 50s and three rebounds. Will Kennedy also backed up his form with 23 disposals, six marks and three rebounds playing in defence, while Harry Houlahan and Alastair Richards both had 20 touches and assisted through the midfield with a combined six clearances.

For Eastern, Kye Quirk racked up 30 disposals, two marks, five clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and laid eight tackles, while Joel Burleigh was also strong defensively with nine tackles from 29 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s. Mitch Mellis (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two clearances), Adrian Kalcovski (24 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and Xavier Fry (21 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) were other prominent ball winners.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 9

TAC Cup action returned to an almost-full round on the weekend when five games were played across Saturday and Sunday. We were at four of them, and focused on those extended Vic Metro and Vic Country players back at TAC Cup level as well as a few bottom-agers who have already shown promising signs this season.

Western Jets vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Western Jets:

#20 Darcy Cassar

As usual, Cassar went hard to win the contested ball, earning a great deal of possessions. The high-pressure player laid a few strong tackles and showed little regard for his own safety when the ball was loose. He runs hard and provides plenty of support for his teammates around stoppages. He had a handful of clearances, moving up the ground to assist in the contest. He kicked a goal in the fourth as his side struggled against the Falcons. It is his hunger that separates Cassar from a lot of other players. With the ball in sight, Cassar is not afraid to go in and rip the ball out of the contest. 

#37 Hamish Murphy

Clean and composed, Murphy’s decision making was a definite highlight of his game. Working off centre half-back, he picked his targets well, hitting his man well off the leads and picking up a handful of inside 50s. He knows when and how to switch the pace of the game to regain control and moved the pill well up through the guts on the counter attack. On occasion he struggled hitting targets, as did most of the players, but struck it well when he took his time. In all, Murphy showed us he’s a great decision maker and a well composed backman who encouraged great offensive movement.

 

Geelong Falcons:

#20 Brayden Ham

Despite the heavy conditions, Ham went home with four goals, having three of them by half-time. Ham set up his teammates well with his supreme passing ability and kicks true from set shots. He presented a high footy IQ through a careful read on the ball and good decision-making. Playing his final quarter in the midfield, Ham proved his versatility and ability to win the footy in the contest. The small forward went up against bigger bodies and still snuck his way to the goals. Ham once again stepped up for the Falcons.

 

Dandenong Stingrays v. Oakleigh Chargers 

By Liam Connop 

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Hayden Young

Young spent much of the day matched up on Bosenavulagi in defence. He played tight to his man and showed good defensive capabilities, where he was then able to use his damaging left foot for many rebound 50s. Another feature of Young’s game is the poise he shows with ball in hand. He rarely gets phased and makes good decisions with the footy.

#23 Campbell Hustwaite

Hustwaite is a tough, in-and-under midfielder who works hard to get to each contest and has clean skills with balls in hand. He also peels off the back of contests well, using a handball link-up and using his skilful left foot to progress the Stingrays forward. Hustwaite will impress recruiters looking for a contested ball winner someone who will run all day.

#28 Bailey Schmidt

Certainly the most versatile player on the field, Schmidt had stints in defence, up forward as well as in the ruck, demonstrating an array of skills. He showed his speed with a nice mark on the lead in the second quarter, and is a lovely kick of the footy, slotting the goal from 40 metres out. Schmidt also did some nice work in the ruck-up, with his follow-up work a key aspect of his game.

#58 Will Hamill

Hamill’s agility and dash through the stoppages is a standout. He looks to be a great mover who is able to evade opponents and use his classy left-foot, which was on display in the second quarter, kicking a goal from 45 metres. Playing predominantly off halfback, Hamill spent more time in the midfield in the second half, where accumulated plenty of the footy. High impact player who has a real spark about his game

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

 #5 Xavier O’Neill 

O’Neill started the game reasonably slowly, but worked his way into the game in the second half with pure effort to run hard and create position. This allowed him to be involved in many link-up plays with both defence and forward. O’Neill has clean hands and kicks well on both feet, and tried valiantly hard in the second half to lift his side back into the game.

#7 Jay Robertson

Robertson spent his majority of time up forward, but with his outstanding vertical leap, the Chargers were able to utilise him in the ruck, winning a few tapouts and give their primary ruckman a rest. Although not getting an abundance of possessions, Robertson has good mobility and skills, and knows where the goals are, slotting a nice goal in the last term. A bright prospect who will improve with more development.

#13 Atu Bosenavulagi

Bosenavulagi is a beautifully-sized footballer, who played mostly forward with stints in the backline in the second half. He has excellent balance in the contests, demonstrating good clean hands allowing him to mark overhead well. In a game where Oakleigh were starved off forward opportunities, Bosenavulagi was one of Oakleigh’s best on the day.

#79 Bailey Griffiths

Griffiths is a very good tap ruckman who is not shy of putting his body into the contests. However, Griffiths needs to work on impacting the game more around the ground by taking some marks and gathering possessions. Once Griffith’s develops his confidence with his skills, he should be able to impact the game in more ways than just his ruckwork. He certainly has the makings of a good player if he pieces the jigsaw puzzle together.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo Pioneers:

#9 Zane Keighran 

Despite a quiet start, Keighran played himself into the game, after trading his long-sleeve jumper in for the more conventional look at quarter time. With the Pioneers held goalless in the opening term, Keighran took one of the few chances to fall his side’s way in the second quarter with a booming set shot goal after a clean overhead mark. Keighran showed his versatility as he was rotated through the midfield throughout the match, winning a few eye-catching clearances with his breakaway speed and utilising his good, long leg. He looked to have badly injured his knee in the third quarter but soldiered on to boot a second goal later in the term from another set shot. He showed some good zip in the forward half to create scoring opportunities with multiple inside 50 entries.  

#16 Jacob Atley 

Atley was another Pioneer who took some time to come into the game, but ended up producing good form in patches. Playing forward for most of the game, Atley collected the ball cleanly below his knees in trying conditions and was a decent lead-up option early. He was most effective when utilised closer to the contest as he has a useful knack for keeping his hands free in-close and squirting out handballs. As expected, Atley looked to play on at all costs and was involved in some dangerous handball chains, but rarely used his damaging long kick. His highlight for the day came in the second quarter as he took a mark of the day contender, going back with the flight and clunking a solid contested overhead grab.

 

Murray Bushrangers:

#14 Jye Chalcraft

The bottom ager wasn’t hard to miss with his bright green boots and Dusty-esque haircut, but it was his football that stood out most. In difficult conditions, the 176cm live-wire was as clean and effective as anyone out there and matched it with his hard attack on the ball. Often rotating with Kyle Clarke between the midfield and forward line, Chalcraft’s zip and ability to ease past his opponents with a couple of twists really caught the eye. His most notable highlights came in the form of almost identical assists for two of Jordan Butts’ six goals; as he dished off a couple of ridiculously clever look-away handballs to send his teammate into an open goal, showing good range and instinct. His ability to turn on a sixpence and get around opponents had the TAC Cup Radio team claiming he could ‘run his own candy store’, and he mentioned in a post-game interview with the crew that he is working on building his tank in hopes of moving into the midfield.

#23 Mark Marriott

The towering ruckman had a decent day out, competing well both up forward and in his usual position. He started each quarter in the centre bounce, and used his size advantage to often reach over his direct opponent and give Murray’s dangerous midfielders first use. With key big-man Hudson Garoni on Vic Country duties, Marriott found himself forward on many occasions in an attempt to fill the void, and even slotted the first goal of the game. While he did not have a massive impact on the scoreboard after that, Marriott did well to bring the ball to the feet of Murray’s small forwards in conditions that suited them better.

#28 Kyle Clarke

Clarke has become somewhat of a staple in Murray’s midfield and forward rotation with his consistent form, but was made to work hard for his possessions in this match. Taking up his usual position at the opening bounce, Clarke was in the thick of things early on with his solid work rate allowing him to find the ball often. He had a couple of forays at goal which fell well short, but his lack of scoreboard impact is never for the want of trying. A livewire in the contest, Clarke tackled well and showed good awareness to provide effective clearances in patches. A tendency of his game was to throw the ball onto his boot quickly almost every time he received it, which may have come on account of Bendigo’s perceived pressure.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Northern Knights

By: Cameron Ross

Greater Western Victoria Rebels:

#3 Scott Carlin

Carlin is such a consistent player, and yet again was in the Rebels best three players. Lately, he has really stood up showcasing an  improvement in his on-field leadership. Carlin was directing traffic and rotations all day. Although the Rebels like to play him in many positions, Carlin’s a terrific running defender. His ability to link up with teammates, got the Rebels out of trouble in defence twice. Carlin would start a handball chain, receiving the ball three to four times before kicking the ball long.

#9 Lochie Dawson

The strong-bodied midfielder, got his hands on the footy a lot, but had more damaging games than today. He was worn like a glove at stoppages, every time he touched the footy, the Knights were all over him. Dawson kicked a goal after managing to free himself and find some space to slot one through the middle.  

#11 Josh Chatfield

Played forward and onball. Really tried to assert his physicality at the contest with some bone crunching tackles. One of those tackles produced a turnover, and gave the Rebels an inside 50 chance. Went on ball in the second half, and this was where he was most efficient. He played on the outside at stoppages, hitting the contest at pace in an attempt to be an effective outlet.

 

Northern Knights:

#17 Josh D’Intinosante

The bottom-ager spent the majority of the game in the middle, and was arguably the best midfielder on the ground. Produced a fine piece of skill, winning a centre clearance by hitting the pack at speed and spinning out of a tackle to clear the ball (ala Trent Cotchin against Geelong). Seemed to have an impact at every stoppage. If he did not win the stoppage, he was getting his hands on the ball and getting tackled, or laying a tackle on an opponent. Played as a small forward in the final term, but was not as effective as he was on-ball.

Weekend Wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 8

IT was a weekend of upsets, with two of the bottom three sides claiming victory, and the other levelling the scores in the dying minutes only to lose the lead again with a match-winning goal. Oakleigh Chargers grabbed a top four spot with victory against Murray Bushrangers on Saturday in the standalone day.

Northern Knights 7.7 (49) defeated by Eastern Ranges 10.8 (68)

By: Michael Alvaro

In perfect conditions at Preston City Oval, the Knights and Ranges could only manage three first half goals between them in what was an end-to-end contest. The travelling side broke the game open in the third quarter with five goals to two, as well as the opening two goals of the final term to set up an unassailable lead. The Knights fought to trim the margin back late, with forward Sunny Brazier booting two of the last three goals to have the final deficit sit at 19 points. 

Eastern were on top in the midfield battle thanks largely to midfielder Kye Quirk, who collected 39 disposals, 11 clearances, nine tackles and three marks. He was aided well by Adrian Kalcovski (24 disposals, six tackles) and skipper Joel Burleigh (18 disposals, 14 tackles), while their forward line clicked with three multiple goal kickers.

Stefan Uzelac (17 disposals, five marks, three tackles) stood up under pressure in defence for the Knights, setting them up well with 88% disposal efficiency to be named their best. Patrik Della Rocca provided a big body in the midfield, collecting 20 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal alongside bottom ager Josh D’Intinosante, who also had it 20 times to go with six marks and eight tackles. Brazier (13 disposals, six tackles, four marks, three goals) was their only real bright spot up forward, popping up in the right place when given the opportunity. 

The Ranges now climb off equal-last on the ladder with their second win for the year, while the Knights hold on to seventh place for another round.

Calder Cannons 7.19 (61) defeated by GWV Rebels 10.11 (71)

By: Liam Connop

In perfect footy conditions at RAMS Arena, the Cannons’ inaccuracy in front of goal cost them a golden opportunity to win the their fourth game of the season. Kicking with the breeze in the opening term, Calder dominated proceedings but could not put it on the scoreboard, kicking 2.8 (20) to quarter-time. This would come back to haunt them, as the Rebels kicked five goals to one in the second quarter to take the ascendency at half-time. The second half was an arm wrestle, with a couple of late goals giving the Rebels a 10-point win and their second win of the season.

Thomas Berry (16 possessions, six marks) was the X-factor in the game, showing off his pace and taking a mark that Warwick Capper would have been proud of. Elliott Lamb (24 possessions, eight marks) had an excellent game in the midfield, rarely wasting a possession. In what was an even performance from the Rebels, Matty Lloyd (23 possessions, seven marks) had a strong game in the midfield and across half-back, while Charlie Wilson and Mitchell Martin (three goals each) did the damage up forward.

For the Cannons, ball-magnet Mitchell Podhajski (30 possessions, 12 tackles, two goals) continued his outstanding season, while Curtis Taylor (29 possessions, 10 marks) backed up his best-on-ground performance last week, despite being wasteful in front of goals, booting five behinds. Lachlan Sholl (32 possessions, 18 handball receives) was also very impressive rebounding off half-back.

Western Jets 9.11 (65) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 8.10 (58)

Western Jets played their get out of jail card in the dying moments of their narrow win against Bendigo Pioneers. It was a close game throughout, until the Jets looked like they had broken free in the third term with three consecutive goals to open up a healthy 22-point margin. Bendigo refused to give in, booting the last two goals of the quarter to draw within eight points at the final break. When Hamish Murphy ran into an open goal in the final term it looked beyond the Pioneers, before Phill Moi Moi and Zane Keighran slammed home goals to tie the game with less than three minutes remaining. The Jets managed to get it forward and Malwal Maguang received a free kick, converting from a tight angle which ended up being the winning goal.

For the Jets, Buku Khamis (22 disposals, nine marks and four rebounds) was superb off half-back, controlling the airways and rebounding anything that came his way. Darcy Cassar was busy through midfield, linking up to a high half-forward, with a game-high 25 disposals and six inside 50s. Connor Thar (24 disposals, four clearances), Jack Watkins (22 disposals, 11 tackles) and Jaden Rice (21 disposals, seven clearances) were also among the key on-ballers, while Zak Butters (21 disposals, six marks) and Stefan Radovanovic (20 disposals, seven marks, six rebounds, four inside 50s and a goal) were instrumental from defence through to attack.

For the Pioneers, Keighran had 19 disposals, four marks and kicked that crucial goal, while Noah Wheeler was enormous in the middle with eight clearances and nine inside 50s to go with his 24 disposals – a key reason the Pioneers turned the momentum in the third quarter. Hunter Lawrence was busy with 23 disposals and six inside 50s, while Liam Marciano (22 disposals, seven rebounds) and Daniel Keating (14 disposals, seven marks, 19 hitouts and three rebounds) were top players once again.

Dandenong Stingrays 15.15 (105) defeated Sandringham Dragons 4.4 (28)

By: Ed Pascoe

Despite missing nine players from the Vic Country squad, top of the ladder Dandenong easily defeated a young Sandringham Dragons team. Dandenong played a great team defence with their defenders setting up well behind the ball and their forwards putting on good pressure to cause many mistakes for the inexperienced Sandringham defenders. Sandringham did not lack in effort, they where just beaten by a red hot team looking to impress on their home turf.

Ruckman Riley Bowman was a standout with two goals (15 disposals, five marks), moving well around the ground and often following up his ruck work to providing a good target when forward. Matthew Gahan had a field day in defence with his intercept marking and drive (19 disposals, seven marks) and young leaders Campbell Hustwaite (24 disposals) and Jamie Plumridge (23 disposals) controlled the midfield, Hustwaite was busy at stoppages while Plumridge owned the Wing with both players looking both strong and composed around the ball.

It was not all doom and gloom for Sandringham with young key defender Corey Watts (15 disposals, nine marks) a standout in defence with some good contested and intercept marks, while his long kicking was also an asset. Darcy Chirgwin (21 disposals, six tackles) showed class on the wing and was willing to work hard deep in defence, even managing a goal. Jeremy Goddard (14 disposals, 11 tackles) competed hard in the midfield – despite his small frame, he wasn’t afraid to go in and have a crack against the bigger Dandenong bodies.

Gippsland Power 10.5 (65) defeated Geelong Falcons 3.13 (31)

By: Ed Pascoe

As they say, ‘bad kicking is bad football’ and that rang true for Geelong who struggled to turn opportunities into goals, scoring 11 behinds before Samuel Torpy kicked a classy goal from the boundary late in the 3rd quarter. With the scorecard reading 3.13 Geelong will be ruing what could have been. Credit has to go to Gippsland however since they took their opportunities and their entries inside 50 made the difference. Gippsland still looked the better team on the day and deserved the win.

Gippsland had an even spread of contributors – Bailey Beck was influential on the wing using the ball well, taking some fantastic marks under pressure (seven marks, two contested) he also finished with 20 disposals and a goal in a classy display. The backline was well controlled with the likes of Tye Hourigan (15 disposals), Ryan Sparkes (24 disposals) and Bailey Patterson (19 disposals) all providing run and drive from the backline with the ball coming out of the defensive 50 very quickly. The midfield had a good mix with the grunt coming from overager Austin Hodge (18 disposals) and the class coming from fellow overager Tyrone Hayes (18 disposals).

Vic Country representative Blake Schlensog was the standout tall player on the ground competing hard and following up his ruck work (21 disposals) while also helping out the defence staying strong taking some quality intercept marks to finish with eight overall. Geelong’s other Vic Country representative and bottom ager Cooper Stephens was the standout midfielder for the day winning the contested ball at stoppages and also working hard to get on the outside. He had the ball on a string in the first three minutes to finish with 20 disposals. Sam Torpy kicked Geelong’s first goal late in the third quarter and finished the game with two of his team’s three goals, working hard to also collect 17 disposals.

Murray Bushrangers 7.10 (52) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 17.10 (112)

A blistering first quarter set up Oakleigh’s huge 10-goal win over Murray Bushrangers in the standalone game on Saturday. The Chargers booted seven goals to two in a massive opening quarter, then maintained the rage with a 38-point lead at half-time courtesy of a four goals to three second term. After a low-scoring third quarter which saw the home side boot the only goal of the quarter, Oakleigh stormed home with six of the last seven goals to run away with the massive 60-point win and jump into the top four.

Matthew Day was a star with seven goals from 19 disposals and six marks, acting as the key forward in the absence of a number of players due to Vic Metro duties. Despite both sides missing a huge chunk of their top-end talent, a number of bottom-agers stood out. Trent Bianco racked up 19 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two clearances, while Dylan Williams had four inside 50s from nine disposals. Jack Ross was a standout in midfield with 19 disposals, five marks, six clearances, six inside 50s and four tackles, while Lucas Westwood had six rebounds from 17 disposals.

For the Bushrangers, Ely Smith was the highest disposal winner with 21 touches, three clearances, three inside 50s and six tackles, while Kyle Clarke had four clearances from his 18 disposals. Potential Brisbane father-son prospect Jake Bradshaw was busy with 18 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds. The classy Mathew Walker booted two important goals from his 15 touches, nine marks, seven tackles and five inside 50s to be a clear standout of the losing side. Mark Marriott and Ben Kelly were strong in the ruck, notching up 21 and 20 hitouts respectively.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 8

TAC Cup action returned on the weekend, and while Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers had the week off, we were at all five games and took notes on those from the extended Vic Metro and Vic Country squads, with a number of players trialled in various positions ahead of the National Under 18 Championships.

Northern Knights vs. Eastern Ranges

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#1 Ryan Gardner –

Assuming his usual role on the wing for much of the game, Gardner found it hard at times to generate his usual run and carry. With his best asset somewhat quelled, the underager was thrown into the centre bounces in the final term – a tactic that the Knights have long tried with their running outside players. His presense around the contest was good and he tackled hard all day, with his first being a rag-dolling effort on Eastern’s Xavier Fry. With Vic Metro duties potentially inbound, Gardner will be looking to continue his consistent form and take the game on.

#7 Harrison Grace

With the ball locked in Eastern’s attacking half for long periods in the opening two quarters, Grace struggled at times to find his way into the game playing as a half forward. Much like Gardner, he was thrust into the middle of the ground in the third term in an attempt to impose a stronger impact around the contest. Running alongside Eastern’s skipper Joel Burleigh, Grace had an immediate impact with a couple of centre clearances and some impressive work one-on-one. His ability to bring the ball over the back in overhead marking contests proved dangerous, and he looked better when given the chance to run through the midfield.

Eastern:

#23 Xavier Fry –

Fry provided some rare run and carry in what was a hotly contested game played mostly between the 50 arcs. ‘X’, as he is known on the field, spent most of his minutes behind the ball and produced a couple of highlight reel runs – most notably his three-bounce effort in the first term which he ended with an inside 50 and was followed up well. His outside dash is an obvious asset, but Fry could look to improve his field kicking on the run, with a couple of efforts in the third quarter being sprayed badly.

#24 Kye Quirk –

Quirk played most of the game through the middle and looked right at home, reading the ball best off the hands out of all of the midfielders out there. His exceptional roving ability was complemented well by his clean hands and ability to pick the ball up easily below his knees, setting him apart from most other players on the day. Quirk had a few notable moments, not all of which would make the highlight reel. The first was his consecutive one percenters in the second quarter as he laid a tackle, forced the turnover and stepped in with a shepherd; and the second was his decision to kick long out of the congestion with the Ranges struggling to edge forward, and his booming effort created a goal from almost nothing.

#31 James Blanck –

Playing as a key defender, Blanck had the sort of game where if you didn’t notice him, it meant that he was doing his job well. With much of the play being fought out well up the ground, Blanck was able to keep the Knights forwards quiet for most of the match – helping his defence to keep Northern to just one first-half goal. He was efficient for the most part with ball in hand and displayed some decent follow up work when the ball spilled to ground.

 

Western Jets vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Western

#11 Zak Butters

Butters was lively throughout the match, running all day and was damaging between the arcs. He started forward then moved into the midfield, often drifting wide then releasing a quick handball or a weighted kick inside 50. He had a leap in the first term but couldn’t bring it down and laid a great run-down tackle late in the quarter. He showed fierce intent when attacking the ball and was able to pick it up cleanly at full pace. Butters showed good vision in traffic and even took a good intercept mark at half-back floating in from the side. He has the patience to wait and release a handball under pressure. He had a huge collision with Kobe Brown in the last quarter and neither player took a backwards step.

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews was busy early and had a few neat passages of play throughout the game. He was always on the move and was not afraid to take on opponents. He has good agility and quick hands and is another who hits he contest at full speed. He holds onto the footy in a stoppage to wait for a clean exit. He played predominantly off half-back and didn’t win a heap of it, but tried to run and carry when it came his way.

#31 Emerson Jeka

Spent the first half in attack and the second half in defence. He was involved in a number of transition plays which is often rare for a player of his size. He is a great athlete and attacked the contest when going for a mark and provided good leads up the ground. He won the ball through the middle as well and looked to the outside to release a running teammate. He covers the ground well and took a vital intercept mark deep in defence late in the third term when the Pioneers were attacking.

#37 Hamish Murphy

Started in defence and swung forward in the second half to switch with Jeka. He was good one-on-one deep in the first term to spoil a ball across the line and stop a certain goal in the first term. Murphy also showed good closing speed on the lead to effect a number of spoils on his opponents. Sometimes he tended to rush his short kicks as a couple came off as drubbers, but he was better over long distance. Had a great pick-up off he deck and kicked a running goal from 45m in the third term, then got on the end of an end-to-end play by the Jets to kick the easiest of goals. Took the last mark of the match uncontested inside 50 and managed to get the behind which locked away the victory.

#38 Buku Khamis

Unbelievable game at half-back. He just patrolled the airways and took a heap of intercept marks. His kicking action is among the best there is and he rarely made a mistake by foot. He has the knack of raising his arms up to dispose of the ball when being tackled and can often shrug off an opponent this way because of his skinny frame. Khamis tends to float through the air similar to Jeremy Howe in a gliding sense and looks so sure with his timing and ability to clutch marks. He also has a good first few steps to burn off some opponents and is composed under pressure. Best-on for mine.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Started in the midfield and would drift out wide to win a lot of possessions on the wing and in space. He attacks the contest with vigour, is strong in the air and is constantly used in transition from half-back to half-forward. He kicked a goal from a 25m set shot after an intercept mark at half-forward and a 50m penalty. Radovanovic always puts good pressure on the ball carrier, constantly harassing and chasing them to try and force a turnover. He had a great moment in the final term running to half-forward, fooled the opposition with a look-away behind the back quick handball to Josh Honey who ran on and kicked a great goal from the boundary. A solid performance.

#45 Aaron Clarke

Clarke was busy early but had a quieter second half. He took a few good grabs working hard and running up to the wing. Covers the ground really well and stays involved. Had a couple of shots on goal, one in the first term from a set shot and one from a quick snap after a clean pick-up in the second term.

Bendigo:

#9 Zane Keighran

One of Bendigo’s hardest workers on the day, running until the final siren. He took it upon himself in the final minutes to slot a goal running inside 50 with a fantastic snap to level the game. Throughout the match Keighran continued to battle on the inside, putting his body on the line and firing out handballs to teammates in order to release them. Though he was strong for the majority of the game he tended to rush his short kicks and kicks out of a clearance just throwing it on the boot instead of thinking his way through.  When kicking long with time and space in front of him he put it into dangerous areas, and he was most effective when releasing the handball in traffic to the outside. He took a huge grab in the air against Emerson Jeka after positioning himself well, but his set shot just dropped short. Not much more he could have done on the day and tried his heart out.

#16 Jacob Atley

Atley played on the wing and up forward and used quick-fire handballs to try and get run happening between the arcs. He is strong in the air and took a few strong grabs, and would find space and link-up with teammates. Often he would win the ball and handball into space for a teammate to run onto. One strength is his ability to cleanly pick up the footy, swooping down and grabbing it with one hand and taking it full stride.

#20 James Schischka

Played in defence and seemed composed with ball-in-hand. He fired out quick handballs to teammates to clear the area and took a good intercept mark at half-back in the second term. Did not win a heap of it, but did not fumble a great deal when a lot of others were.

 

Calder Cannons v. Greater Western Victoria Rebels

By: Liam Connop 

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

On the back of a best afield performance last week, Taylor played in the midfield once again and found plenty of the footy, with a good ability to find space. Taylor used his clean hands to dish the ball out to teammates, which was on full-display with a brilliant half-volley gather before hand-balling to Bytel who kicked the goal. Taylor covers the ground well and also showed he has a penetrating kick. Good player who does not do a lot wrong.

#8 Lachlan Sholl 

Sholl was a prolific ball-winner, particularly in the first half, playing at half-back and setting up many of the Cannons attacks. Sholl tends to play a kick behind the play and has excellent skills off both feet. Unflustered under pressure, Sholl also showed a nice turn of foot, and looks to be a typical break the lines off half-back type player. He noticeably also plays with confidence, demanding the ball from teammates to set-up the play.

#16 Jack Bytel  

On return from injury, Bytel sat out the first half. He then played full-forward for the third quarter with the Cannons having the wind that quarter, winning a one-on-one contest at ground level before snapping a goal, shortly before setting up another thanks to his clean hands. Bytel then had a run around on the ball in the last quarter while looking to regain his fitness going forward.

#27 Tye Browning

Browning started on the wing and played there for a large duration, with some stints up forward in the second half. Browning is a very swift mover who looks like a natural athlete. He produced many examples of great clean hands, as well as possessing a lovely kicking style. Was involved in many of the Cannons attacks and looks to be a skilful, versatile player.

#33 Jack Evans

Evans spent his day in the forward line, and had a pretty quiet game with the occasional glimpse of skill. With a three or four goal breeze, Evans was not as prolific as he can be through the middle or down back, especially in the second and fourth quarters when the Rebels had the majority of the play. Nonetheless, Evans showed composure when he got the ball, setting up a shot on goal with a nice left foot in the second term. He finished the game with three behinds.

 

GWV:

#3 Scott Carlin

Carlin played through the midfield as well as across half-back, showing versatility to play in multiple positions. In the first quarter Carlin’s vision resulted in a nice switch of play to hit up a teammate, resulting in a forward 50 entry. Carlin moves nicely and was entrusted with the kick-out from full back on a number of occasions, demonstrating a nice kicking style and an ability to lower his eyes to find a teammate.

#5 Harris Jennings 

Jennings started the game in the centre, and is a nicely sized midfielder. He moves well and was able to link up well with teammates often against the run of play, propelling the Rebels into attack. Jennings spent a lot of time on the wing as the game progressed, winning plenty of the footy and was a key factor in the Rebels hitting the lead in the last quarter.

#9 Lochie Dawson

Dawson started in the centre and spent the majority of game in the midfield. Dawson has a solid build for a midfielder, and showed his ability to make great decisions throughout the game, with good disposals by both hand and foot. He showed a good understanding with teammate Scott Carlin, as they linked up by hand often to get the ball forward for scoring opportunities for the Rebels. Despite copping a heavy knock in the second quarter and starting the third quarter on the interchange, he recovered well to have a strong impact on the game.

#13 Thomas Berry

Berry switched his time on-ball and attack. He demonstrated an ability to use the ball well with clean hands. In the second quarter, Berry showed a willingness to get involved in the contest, with a Dusty style fend-off impressing the fans, and showed a nous for where the goals are. Berry is also a strong tackler, and produced the highlight of the day with what was possibly the mark of the season with a huge hanger in the third term, before unselfishly trying to centre the ball.

#14 Jed Hill

Hill was starved of opportunities for the game, not finding a lot of the footy on the half-back flank. Despite this, Hill kicked a sublime goal in the last quarter to give the Rebels the momentum and looked at home in his regular position up forward.

#20 Tylar Watts

Watts started the game at centre half-forward. The Rebels have a very strong ruck combination with his ability to interchange with Patrick Glanford, often giving the midfielders first use of the footy. Watts showed a nice ability to leap at the footy, and although not taking a heap of marks, he brought the ball to ground. Watts was not afraid to impose himself, using his strength in the contests through strong bumps and tackles.

#24 Matty Lloyd

Lloyd started the game across half-back, rotating between there and the wing throughout the game. Lloyd started reasonably quietly, but showed a willingness to contest well and really came into play in the third quarter. Perhaps frustrated at times by what appeared to be an ankle injury in the third term, and one or two defensive lapses, Lloyd started to win the footy and covered a lot of ground in the back half, showing great defensive skills.

 

Dandenong vs Sandringham

By: Ed Pascoe

Dandenong

#3 Jamie Plumridge

Plumridge was a clean and tough performer throughout the day for Dandenong mostly playing on the wing providing good linkup and defensive running. Early in the game Plumridge’s class was shown through some clean handballs and a creative kick inboard deep in defence. In the second quarter he got down and dirty laying some terrific tackles especially for his size, one passage of play he attacked the contest hard had a run and then executed a nice long handball. He continued his hard running and attack on the footy in the second half and he was rewarded with a goal in the third quarter taking a nice mark and going back to kick a set shot goal.

#7 Jai Taylor

Taylor took a while to have some impact in the game but he was a driving force in the second half with his run and dare leading to some eye catching plays. He missed a running shot at goal but his attack on the football and run that lead up to it was fantastic, he also had a nice kick inside 50 that lead to a goal on three quarter time. Taylor did not let up his running in the last quarter taking the game on at every opportunity, he even took some nice intercept marks showing he wasn’t just all run and flair.

#13 Riley Bowman

Bowman hit the ground running winning the opening tap of the game, he continued this trend for most of the first quarter while also following up his taps and using the ball well be hand. He decided to do it all late in the quarter roving his own taps and kicking a snap goal. His second goal came from some good positioning out the back and running into an open goal in the third quarter. Bowman did it all, taking some nice marks overhead while also using the ball well by hand and foot and using his impressive agility for a ruckman and avoiding much smaller players in the heat of the contest.

#23 Campbell Hustwaite

Hustwaite played a complete performance through the midfield winning plenty of the ball in the contest while also getting on the outside and having an impact. Hustwaite was very clean with ball in hand and was hardly flustered. He showed his composure on several occasions in the third quarter with one passage of play involving him running along the boundary with the opposition looking to take him out he just stayed composed and managed to get around his opponent and kick inside 50. He was rewarded for his efforts in the midfield in the last quarter kicking a goal when allowed to rest up forward.

 

Sandringham

#28 James Rendell

Rendell had a tough day at the office with not a lot going his way throughout the day, he managed to take some nice marks around the ground and although he got a few touches they were not as clean as he would like. His best bit of play came in the third quarter where he attacked the contest on the lead, picking up a ground ball and turning on a dime to kick to the hotspot. He will be hoping to win a spot in the Vic Metro side next week.

#32 Bailey Griffiths

Griffiths competed well in the ruck all day but what stood out most was his clean hands at ground level. Despite some fumbles he managed to kick a goal in the first quarter but that would be his only goal for the day. Like Rendell, he will be pushing for a spot in the ruck for Vic Metro.

 

Gippsland vs Geelong

By: Ed Pascoe

Gippsland

#22 Rylan Henkel

Henkel had a good battle with Schlensog throughout the day in the ruck, Henkel competed hard at the stoppages and he was also able to get on the outside and take some nice marks. He did his best to move the ball quickly after taking marks, he made some good choices by foot as well. The ruckman kicked a goal from a free kick in the second quarter.

#23 Noah Gown

Gown provided a good leading target for Gippsland all day taking some nice lead up marks and worked hard to give an outlet for his running defenders. Gown kicked two goals for the day, one from a free kick and the other from a mark inside 50 which he converted with ease. It was not a huge day but he played his role well.

 

Geelong

#31 Cooper Stephens

Stephens was a workhorse in the midfield he started like a house on fire winning plenty of the ball in the contest and also on the outside. Stephens showed good composure with ball in hand throughout the day and his attack and clean hands where an asset at the stoppages. Stephens is not eligible to be drafted until 2019 but his selection in the Vic Country squad shows his quality and he would be a big chance to get a few games for Vic Country this year based of this performance.

#48 Blake Schlensog

Schlensog was the dominant big man on the ground doing everything you could ask from a big, strong ruckman. He was surprisingly clean at ground level for his size and his attack on the ball after a tap was very good. Schlensog took several intercept marks in defence showing his ability to work behind the ball to help his defenders, his kicking after a mark was also good with some low penetrating passes hitting their mark. He should also be judged for his rucking which on many occasions was effective, he had one tap behind in the first quarter which was noticeably impressive. Schlensog did his chances of a Vic Country spot no harm with his game, you could see how much he wanted the responsibility with the ball.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 6

ROUND SIX in the TAC Cup competition kicks off tomorrow and for this round’s previews, we’ve had a look at a key factor in each match and analysed what we know. It might be a certain playmaker, a one-off disappointing quarter or a tantalising set of match-ups, here are some things to consider heading into the weekend’s action.

WESTERN JETS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Saturday, May 12, 11am
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown

When Western and Geelong clash, you know you are likely to get a heavily contested, high-clearance game. Sam Walsh, Oscar Brownless, Brayden Ham, Baxter Mensch and Ed McHenry going head to head with Connor Thar, Xavier O’Halloran, Jaden Rice, Daly Andrews and Zak Butters. We compared the midfields in the areas of disposals, clearances, contested possessions and goals, averaged by the number of games those midfields had played (Geelong – 21, Western – 25). As evidenced in the chart, Geelong averages slightly more disposals and gets more goals from its midfielders – admittedly helped by Ham’s nine so far this season – while Western has the clear edge in clearances and just shades the Falcons in contested ball. Of course this is not the full story as more than just five players rotate through the midfield, but just comparing the top fives, it is an intriguing battle.

Geelong has looked impressive the last fortnight and has been building for some time. With McHenry returning for this match, as well as Connor Idun, the Falcons will head into the match as favourites, but if Western can topple them in the clearances, then they are every chance of causing an upset. Up forward, both teams have varied methods of piling on winnable scores, with Blake Schlensog a key contributor inside 50, while for Western, Emerson Jeka, Aaron Clarke and Steven Kyriazis provide three different types of forwards that cause headaches for opposition teams.

In defence, Stefan Radovanovic provides plenty of run and carry for the Jets and he might be one that Geelong look to nullify to ensure the ball remains inside their forward 50, but Western’s defence is among the best with the midfielders dropping back and rotating with the defenders. Buku Khamis and Hamish Murphy provide strong defence in the key position roles, while Cooper Cartledge has been consistent for Geelong.

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES

Saturday, May 12, 2pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

There’s nothing quite like travelling to one of the most in-form teams in the competition’s home ground when you’re yet to record a win. For the Eastern Ranges, they will be seeing this as a chance to not only grab their first four points of the season, but throw a complete spanner in the works against a side which until its loss last week, had looked almost untouchable with a combined 225-point winning margin in the fortnight prior. Eastern will be aware of the challenge the match poses, but there is nothing quite like a team with its back against the wall and given little chance of victory. Eastern has thrown around the magnets at the selection table and will be keen to make a big statement in 2018 with a win here.

The challenge will be to kick a big enough score to trouble the Stingrays. Of the nine players named in their respective 22s that have kicked three or more goals this season, eight of those players are Stingrays. Joel Burleigh leads the Ranges goal kicking (five goals) after his phenomenal effort of 40-plus disposals last week included three majors. For the Ranges to win, they must continue to tackle hard and win the contested ball and try and keep the ball off Dandenong’s runners.

Zac Foot stands as a crucial player for Dandenong because of his slick skills, lightning speed and ability to hit the scoreboard. As the graphic (left) shows, Foot has been deadly with his disposals, and able to get the ball inside 50. He has also booted 9.4 this season with six score assists to make him one of the most damaging outside players so far this season. His 19 score involvements see him ranked fifth overall in the TAC Cup.

For Eastern, the Ranges’ defence is strong, and will need to be aware of the pace and speed of Foot and other Stingrays who could cause a threat. The likes of Ben Cardamone or Kye Quirk could be given the job on Foot, while also looking to slingshot the visitors off half-back.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Saturday, May 12, 2pm
Preston City Oval, Preston

Northern returns to its spiritual home at Preston to take on a red-hot Murray Bushrangers outfit. The Bushrangers have won the past four games since a shock loss to Gippsland Power in round one. Murray now sits equal top with four wins from five games, while Northern had an unlucky away draw to the Power a couple of rounds back, and sit in seventh. A win here could see them jump as high as fifth and continue the improved form they have shown over the past month. With Jake Bradshaw and Nick Murray among the key ins for Murray and the likes of Cameron Wild and Kareem Nasser back for the Knights, it will be interesting to see how the game goes down. The key to this game depends on how Northern can limit Murray’s scoring impact. The Bushrangers do not have a dedicated key forward dominating the goals – although Hudson Garoni has been super in his own right the past fortnight – instead they have a number of players across the ground that can influence the scoreboard with a couple of goals a game and share the load.

In the five rounds thus far, the Murray Bushrangers have had 169 score involvements compared to the Northern Knights’ 128 – equivalent of almost eight more score involvements per game. This has helped them share the load and bring an air of unpredictability to the forward line which has created headaches for opposition defences. However, the Knights have brought the defensive pressure this season, laying 303 tackles so far to Murray’s 261. While it might be put down to getting to the ball first, Northern have been good at limiting the influence of some of the key opposition playmakers.

As an example in the draw with Gippsland, Matthew McGannon who had averaged 28 disposals, 10 marks and 4.7 rebounds in the opening three rounds in that quarterback role for the Power. Against the Knights, McGannon managed just 18 disposals, four marks and one rebound. For the Bushrangers, their “quarterback” is bottom-ager Lachlan Ash who has provided some superb drive off half-back and broken the lines to ensure a fast break transition from defence to offence. From the Power game, Northern know the importance of the player in that role, and likewise for the Bushrangers, ensuring the likes of Ash is free remains a key component in the game.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Saturday, May 12, 4.30pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

In the Saturday evening game, Calder Cannons look to bounce back from their third loss of the season, hosting the Bendigo Pioneers who have gone four consecutive rounds without a win. For Calder, the crucial statistic is the inside 50s. in all bar one game (against Eastern Ranges) the Cannons have conceded more inside 50s than they have created, thus giving their opponents more chance of creating a winning score. Their defence holds up well, but restricting the flow into their defensive 50 would be highlighted in the changerooms prior to the game. Co-captain Jack Bytel stands as a key player in the match for Calder, with the Cannons averaging 34 clearances per game with Bytel in the side and just 24 in the game he missed – against Sandringham Dragons. Bendigo’s strength lies in the clearances with Noah Wheeler (20) and Liam Marciano (15) the next two highest behind Bytel.

For the visitors, they tend to be a long kicking team and break the lines through penetrating kicks rather than quick-fire handballs. Hunter Lawrence (20), Bailey Henderson (17) and Wheeler (15) all average more than three effective long kicks per game and Lawrence and Henderson average 68 and 67 per cent by foot respectively. For Calder, Lucas Cavallaro and Jack Evans are Calder’s good ball users off half-back, often playing against talls and smalls, while creating good rebound. This is the area we will compare as it is likely to be another crucial component in the game. As you can see on the left, Henderson’s midfield minutes helps the Pioneers duo have more disposals and tend to kick long more often, however the Calder pair has more marks and more rebounds, crucially assisting in spring-boarding their attacks off half-back. All four are great users of the ball and players their teammates look to in order to deliver the more difficult pass by foot.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Sunday, May 13, 1pm
Morwell Football Ground, Morwell

The first game on Sunday is the clash between the Gippsland Power and Sandringham Dragons. The Dragons have slipped since losing their APS players and now find themselves at an even win-loss ledger of 3-3. For the Power, they are just two points outside the top three sides and are having a fantastic start to the season with just the one defeat and one draw so far. At home, the Power will be keen to make the most of a depleted Dragons outfit and continue to push on after another great win in round five against the Eastern Ranges. Bailey Smith is a huge loss for the visitors, but Liam Stocker and Dawit McNeish add some important grunt in the midfield thus the Dragons should never be ruled out from an upset victory. 

Of the pair, Liam Stocker looms as an underrated first round pick. He  has played just the three games due to school football, but has been a shining light in the matches he has played, with great numbers across the ground and good defensive pressure. He uses it well by foot and wins more than half of his possessions in a contest, making his 66.2 per cent disposal efficiency even more impressive.

For Gippsland, the Power have a number of quality midfielders who will be looking to match the likes of Stocker and McNeish in the middle. Riley Baldi has been important around the stoppages, and captain Xavier Duursma has made an impact off the wing. The returning Austin Hodge along with the likes of Nick Lowden and Boadie Motton shows off the depth Gippsland has, as well as bottom-age talents in Brock Smith and Caleb Serong who can rotate through the centre square. The contest might loom as one Gippsland will be favourites for, but Sandringham will be hoping its next tier of players can stand up and cause an upset away from home.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Sunday, May 13, 1pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

In the final game of the round, two teams with vastly different formlines and ladder positions face off. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have won just one of their first five games, while Oakleigh has just dropped the one match – to a Max King-inspired Sandringham Dragons. Last week the Chargers knocked off the previously unbeaten Dandenong Stingrays, however the Rebels took it up to Murray Bushrangers who join Oakleigh at 4-1 on the TAC Cup competition ladder. The Chargers have lost some crucial players to school football including Ben Silvagni and Joseph Ayton-Delaney, while the Rebels have rolled the dice with some more young players including debutants and some named as emergencies.

The biggest question mark for the Rebels by far is whether they can keep up their intensity across four quarters. Often in games for the most part, their fourth quarters have let them down this season, conceding 23.16 (154) to 6.5 (41) – a 22-point differential average across five games. They have also been down in the second term, but that was largely due to Dandenong’s heavy onslaught in round three. Otherwise, the Rebels have started games relatively well, leading at quarter time in two of them, including the unbelievable start against the Falcons in round one, to be their best quarter on record. Their third quarters are also in the positive.

For Oakleigh, their third quarters have been relatively fruitful aside from the Sandringham match, booting 15.18 (108) to 9.7 (63) in the “premiership quarter”. But it is their second quarters which which have been the most dominant, heading into round six with a 64-point differential in the terms across the year thus far.

GWV will look to its prime movers in Scott Carlin, Lochie Dawson, Matt Schnerring, Jed Hill and Charlie Wilson through the midfield to try to eradicate its final quarter drop-offs. On paper, the Rebels have a strong side against a Chargers outfit missing a number of top players to school football. The Rebels must be proactive at the stoppages and slow the play down later in the game to avoid opposition teams getting a run on. The Chargers will no doubt be aware of the Rebels last quarters and if they are within reach at the final break, will be keen to run over the top of them, or put the foot down. Watch out for the in-form Riley Collier-Dawkins, Xavier O’Neill and Isaac Quaynor to keep the Chargers up and about throughout the match.