Tag: izaac grant

Classic Contests: Rebels come from behind to down Falcons in one-point thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Geelong Falcons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, when the sides took to the field at MARS Stadium and had a number of exciting prospects make it an even contest.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.8 | 5.10 | 8.16 (64)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 4.3 | 9.6 | 9.9 (63)

Round 2 | Sunday, March 31, 2019
MARS Stadium, 1pm

In recent years, Geelong Falcons have had the wood over GWV Rebels, particularly when at full strength, but given the game was at MARS Stadium and the teams were considered pretty even, many attending the game hoped it would live up to expectations. The first half certainly suggested that might be the case and the two eventual top-age draftees in Cooper Stephens and Jay Rantall showed just why they were so highly rated with some terrific performances. For Rantall it was just his second game, while for Stephens it would be his last full game before breaking his leg a week later.

After the Rebels missed a few chances in the first term, Geelong’s Chas Karpala was the first on the board for the match, handing his side an early four-point advantage 14 minutes into the contest. Isaac Wareham quickly responded for the Rebels to get the home side started, before Harry Stubbings again handed his side the lead in the last few minutes for the visitors to head into half-time with a narrow five-point advantage. Inaccuracy was troubling the Rebels with both side booting two goals in the second term, but the Rebels also booting five behinds in the blustery conditions. Rantall broke the ice in the seventh minute mark for the fifth lead change of the match, but Mitchell Langan again found a response for the Falcons, booting back-to-back goals to open up the largest lead of the game – nine points. A late major to James Cleaver who was being tested forward after playing as a defender in his top-age year brought the Rebels to within a point at the main break.

The Falcons put the foot down after half-time thanks to the likes of Stephens, Charlie Lazzaro and Keidan Rayner, whilst Charlie Sprague was having an influence further up the ground in midfield. Max Annandale, Karpala and Jay Dahlhaus – cousin of Luke – all had majors within 10 minutes of time in the third term and opened up a very comfortable 27-point lead. Darcy McEldrew went forward and kicked a crucial major, which was followed up by a goal to clever forward, Izaac Grant before Stephens steadied his side to push the margin back out to 20 at the end of the third term. Little did Falcons fans know, this would be the last major of the game as the Rebels clicked into gear in the final term – not without further inaccuracy – to boot 3.6 to 0.3 and run over the top of Geelong.

Four consecutive behinds for the Rebels in the opening seven minutes threatened to derail the comeback for the home side, before Cleaver’s second released the pressure valve a couple of minutes later. When Mitch Martin kicked truly five minutes later, the margin was less than a kick and it was well and truly game on. Sprague missed a chance midway through the term for the Falcons, as did the Rebels before McEldrew became the saviour in the dying minutes. He converted a goal with a couple of minutes left on the clock to hand his side the lead. A late behind to Charlie Harris brought the margin back to one with 15 seconds on the clock, but the Rebels were able to hold on for a memorable win.

Rantall finished the game as the clear best on ground, racking up 24 touches (15 contested), three marks, six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal in what showed off his elite endurance and burst speed. Fellow Vic Country member, Liam Herbert had 20 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds, while Cooper Craig-Peters (19 disposals (17 contested), eight tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, and Cleaver (17 disposals – 13 contested – two tackles, three inside 50s and two goals) thrived in the less-than-ideal conditions. Riley Polkinghorne worked hard from defence with seven rebounds to go with 15 touches, while Toby Mahony (12 disposals, four clearances), Harry Sharp (15 disposals, four inside 50s and four rebounds) and Connor Hinkley (16 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) all impressed for the Rebels.

Stephens was the standout for the Falcons in midfield alongside Lazzaro, with the pair combining for 54 disposals, seven tackles, nine clearances, five inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Rayner racked up 10 rebounds from 25 touches and three inside 50s, while Sprague was equally influential at half-forward thanks to 23 touches and seven inside 50s. Noah Gribble (21 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s) was prominent, while Stephens’ fellow AFL Academy top-age teammate Jesse Clark racked up nine rebounds and 16 disposals,

Neither side would go on to have great seasons, with the Falcons winning just three games and drawing another from 16 outings to finish in the bottom of the table with a heavy Wildcard Round loss to Sandringham Dragons, while GWV Rebels also bowed out at the Wildcard Round stage following a defeat to Western Jets at Box Hill after winning six games throughout the season.

Scouting Notes: Herald Sun Shield – St Bede’s vs. St Patrick’s Ballarat

ST Bede’s College Mentone got the better of eight-time champions St Patrick’s Ballarat in the Herald Sun Shield grand final on Wednesday, and there was plenty of NAB League talent afield. We take a look at how some of the Sandringham Dragons and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels-listed players fared in the entertaining game.

St Bede’s:

#4 Kyle Yorke

Yorke was the main threat up forward, proving too big, strong, and smart around goal for his opponents. Started with a goal assist to George Grey for the first goal of the game, although the pass almost looked like an errand shot. He continued his dangerous form in the same term, covering the ground well to lay a ripping holding the ball tackle inside 50 and set up another chance for Grey. He would boot the first of his two goals in the following quarter with a great snap from the pocket shortly after spraying a more straightforward set shot out on the full. Yorke capped his day with what ended up being the sealing goal in the final term, slamming home another snap to help St Bede’s clinch the title.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The hard-working ball winner played a few different roles, but really came into his own late in the game with a permanent move into the midfield. Byrnes lifted when the game was on the line, prizing the ball at the stoppages and chaining handballs out to get some drive going, which proved vital as St Patrick’s pressed. The Dragons product did not seem to have massive numbers, but accumulated strongly across the day and made himself busy when planted on either wing or up forward.

#7 Miles Bergman

Named best afield, the enigmatic Bergman had some of the most influential touches throughout the game. In arguably the passage that got him over the line for the best-on medal, Bergman stormed up the field to defensive 50 when St Bede’s were struggling to get it out, rising to take a strong overhead mark and relieve the pressure. His side would go on to kick the sealing goal shortly after, with Bergman’s touch of class a huge part in it. Earlier, he missed a couple of set shot chances in the third term which would have otherwise made it tough for St Patricks, as well as a snap under duress. The misses were surprising given Bergman’s textbook conversion in the second term, booting the first goal of that quarter. Overall an impactful outing, with his athleticism and vice-like hands on full show.

#9 George Grey

Grey was as dangerous as anyone in the front half, finding space both inside 50 and further afield at half-forward. He booted the first goal of the game with a straightforward set shot in the opening term, backing it up with a poster after receiving from Kyle Yorke a second time. Grey would go on to continue his influence around the forward arc, often booting inside 50 and causing headaches for defenders with his constant motion.

#10 Blake O’Leary

Had a really strong third quarter, continuing through the midfield after winning a couple of clearances there in the first half. O’Leary’s speed away from the contest and ability to find the ball around stoppages became a real factor, streaming forward at pace on a few occasions. His disposal on the end of those runs could have been sharper, but he managed to pull off a nice pass inside 50 to Miles Bergman late in the third term.

#30 Andrew Courtney

Played a bit of everywhere for St Bede’s, starting well in defence, spending some time in the ruck, and later moving forward. Courtney looked ominous in the air during the opening stages; starting with a big fist and clever one-on-one mark, while also laying a goal-saving tackle to prevent his opponent from converting into an open goal. While he faded out of the game slightly, Courtney continued to position well behind the ball and flew bravely in packs to impact each contest.

St Patrick’s:

#1 Cooper Craig-Peters

Craig-Peters was his usual combative self, trying hard all day through the midfield and willing his way out of congestion. A constant in the engine room, the top-ager’s ability to stay on the move and break tackles worked well with a couple of good stoppage moments coming late on; the first being a fast break forward after an Izaac Grant smother, and the second a duck under Miles Bergman’s flailing reach to find space to kick inside 50. Can sharpen up his use by foot at times, but is always solid and lifted when it mattered.

#3 Fraser Marris

The GWV bottom-ager worked hard up the ground as he usually does, finding the ball forward of the wing and getting on his penetrating left side to deliver inside 50. His lead up work and strength for a smaller player were both features, with only Marris’ conversion the issue on this occasion. He had one set shot fade late and another touched on the line – both from range – while also seeing a snap go astray after roving nicely. Still, Marris was a great link in the chain and productive as ever.

#4 Izaac Grant

The St Pat’s skipper was immense in the closing stages, doing everything he could to drag his side over the line. While he spent some time up the ground, Grant looked most at home in his time forward – with his good leap, strong hands, and smarts around goal all evident. He missed his first shot on goal after marking strongly in the first term, but made up for it in the following quarter with another solid mark drifting in from the side and the all-important conversion for St Pat’s first goal. He really did lift late-on with some work around the ball, but just needs to use his talent more consistently.

#5 Riley Polkinghorne

Polkinghorne was a productive member of the St Pat’s back six, working well to deliver the ball out of the back half. He had a particularly good start to the game, reading the play well on a couple of occasions to firstly spoil from behind and then take a sharp intercept mark from a St Bede’s ball across goal. He would go on to win one-on-ones when called upon, with one example against Blake O’Leary at half-back showcasing a good amount of composure.

#6 Matty Lloyd

Another talented player who falls just short in some moments, but put in a promising effort in this game. Lloyd started in defence where he would rack up possessions and do his best to move the ball out effectively, finding good range on his kicks. He showed some good poise when hemmed in, as well as having a nice run away from the stoppage early on. Moving up onto the wing, Lloyd was clean in congestion – which boded well for his goal at the end of the third term which he snapped out of just about nothing, keeping St Pat’s in the game. Was in the vicinity in potentially match-winning plays late on, but could not quite capitalise inside 50.

#8 Jack Tillig

Another strong performer in the back half, Tillig had some good moments in the air despite not always pulling down marks. He started well with a strong leap into a pack and followed up with a composed juggling mark under some heat from his direct opponent. He went on to remain strong overhead around the ground, and put in some good spoils when he found himself matched against Kyle Yorke in defensive 50.

St Bede’s celebrate first ever Herald Sun Shield

ST BEDE’S has celebrated its first ever Herald Sun Shield in the Senior Boys Division 1 after holding off the competition’s most successful school of the past decade. The Mentone-based college led from the start, and despite St Patrick’s best efforts in cutting the deficit to as little as four points, the metropolitan based side got up by just 12 points, 5.10 (40) to 3.10 (28). It was a game that was not the greatest show of goalkicking accuracy, with eight majors from 28 scoring shots, but it mattered little to the team which featured a number of top Sandringham Dragons talents.

Both sides’ defences were on overdrive early with the first term resulting in just one goal from eight scoring shots. That major came from a regulation shot on goal from St Bede’s and Sandringham Dragons’ George Grey who took a strong mark off a Kyle Yorke pass that could well have been intended for a shot on goal. Grey had a second chance just before the quarter time siren but hit the post, though they had made more of their chances than St Patrick’s who were rushed inside 50. GWV Rebels’ duo Fraser Marris and Izaac Grant both had shots on goal that drifted wide, while Flynn Atchison was dragged down in the square. Yorke and Andrew Courtney were proving to be problematic up either end, while for St Pat’s Atchison and defensive duo Riley Polkinghorne and Matty Lloyd were winning plenty of it in the defensive 50. In the middle, Dragons’ captain Ryan Byrnes was strong at the stoppages winning his fair share of the ball and moving it forward.

Miles Bergman opened the account early in the second term, finding space to take a nice mark on 50 and saluted to extend the lead out to nine points. Marris had a chance to respond but his snap under pressure missed to the right up the other end. After a few St Bede’s misses, Harry Sharp almost threaded the unbelievable goal from the boundary but was punched through on the line for a behind. Yorke had a chance to extend the margin further as St Bede’s went end-to-end but his set shot from the boundary sailed out on the full. As if Yorke needed a greater degree of difficulty, he marked near the behind post on his preferred right side, ran around and booted his side’s third major midway through the term. Just as it looked like St Patrick’s might head into half-time goalless, Grant stood up to take a strong mark and converted from the set shot to cut the deficit to 10 points.

The third term started with some end-to-end plays but both defences were up to the task with St Bede’s managing a rushed behind and St Patrick’s rushing it up the other end and a lace-out pass hit Marris on the chest. His set shot was on target but touched on the line. St Bede’s Lachlan Benton put one through early in the third only for an uproar to occur when a free kick in the goal square was paid for shepherding over the line and the goal discounted. They had another chance a minute later when Bergman soared above a pack for a big mark, but his shot went to the right for another behind. St Bede’s relentless attacking paid off eventually though with Liam Segar smartly getting ball to boot and another major sailed through. St Pat’s were not going to stand for that though as Atchison marked and goaled a minute later in response and the margin was again back to 11. A nice play from defence by St Pat’s led to a mark inside 50 to Kayne Councillor, but his shot from the boundary also missed. The inaccuracy was contagious as Bergman’s set shot straight in front not long after also registered just one behind. With the siren imminent late in the term, Lloyd snuck forward, found space at a stoppage to snap the ball around his body and cut the deficit to just a narrow five points at the final break.

Neither side would relent early in the final term as both tried to find their avenue to goal. Grant marked inside 50 but opted to be unselfish with an inside pass, though the St Bede’s defenders were clued onto it and spoiled it away. St Pat’s were building momentum though, with an almost-mark in the goalsquare to Lloyd but it was just missed and rolled into the post for a behind, and shortly after another shot was marked on the line. The margin was just four points though and the ball was getting pumped inside 50 as quickly as it was getting repelled. It took a Bergman contested mark at half-back to finally clear the defensive zone and put St Bede’s back on the attack, and it was Yorke who lead up, grabbed it half-volley turned around to snap and goal and for all of St Pat’s momentum, St Bede’s were now out to a 10-point lead. The top-end talent at St Bede’s was lifting when the team needed it as Bergman and Byrnes were getting their hands on the footy and pumping it forward or setting up teammates. Likewise, Grant was lifting too with a crucial contested mark and kick forward but it just bounced out of Lloyd’s grasp.

ST PATRICK’S 0.5 | 1.7 | 3.9 | 3.10 (28)
ST BEDE’S 1.3 | 3.5 | 4.8 | 5.10 (40)

GOALS:

St Patrick’s: I. Grant, F. Atchison, M. Lloyd.
St Bede’s: K. Yorke 2, G. Grey, M. Bergman, L. Segar.

NAB League Boys Round 15 wash-up: Cannons steal points as Murray and Bendigo grab important wins

WHILE two top-tier teams ran away to comfortable wins in Round 15 of the NAB League, a couple of upsets are sure to shake up the standings heading into Wildcard Round. With Murray (ninth) and Bendigo (tenth) getting the better of higher-ranked opponents, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels almost followed suit in Sunday’s sole fixture, just falling short of Calder in an exciting end to the round.

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

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

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

Sandringham Dragons have come home from Tasmania with a comprehensive victory over the Devils, running out 65-point winners in Launceston. The Dragons looked ominous early, booting three goals to one in the first term, and had six goals from 14 scoring shots on the board by the main break to Tasmania’s two from three. Angus Hanrahan got involved in the second half with three goals to help the Dragons pile on five majors to one in the third term as they put any doubt of a Devils comeback aside, eventually comfortably getting home, 13.15 (93) to 4.4 (28). Hanrahan was a clear best on ground in the venue next to where older brother Ollie ran out for Hawthorn, with the versatile utility picking up 33 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds, two tackles and converting three goals. Along with Hanrahan, Ryan Byrnes caused headaches around the stoppages on his way to 28 disposals, nine inside 50s and a goal, while Darcy Chirgwin, Jackson Voss and Jake Bowey were all busy throughout the game. Riley Bowman and Jack Bell dominated the hitouts against smaller opponents and gave their midfields first opportunity. For the losers, Liam Viney impressed in defence alongside Matt McGuinness, whilst Sam Collins and Oliver Davis pushed hard in midfield and Jackson Callow kept presenting up forward.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.3 | 3.4 | 4.13 | 6.15 (51)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.7 | 8.10 | 12.13 (85)

GOALS
Dandenong: W. Bravo 2, L. Williams 2, H. Young, B. Milford
Gippsland: H. Neocleous 3, K. Robinson 2, F. Phillips 2, M. McGarrity 2, J. Smith 2, S. Berry

BEST
Dandenong: H. Young, B. Nyuon, H. Berenger, W. Bravo, N. Heath, E. Cahill
Gippsland: S. Flanders, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, H. Neocleous, Z. Reid, R. Angwin

Gippsland Power strengthened its chances of holding onto a top three spot with an impressive 34-point win over Dandenong in enemy territory. The Power took the lead after nine minutes in the first term and never looked back, extending their 11-point quarter time lead with five goals to two in the second stanza to get well on top. After a quiet patch after the main break where Dandenong managed the sole third-quarter goal, Gippsland kicked away again to cruise to victory. An impressive five of the Power’s six goal kickers found multiples, led by Harvey Neocleous‘ three majors, but it was the Vic Country representative trio of Sam Flanders (19 disposals), Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, 10 inside 50s), and Brock Smith (21 disposals, eight marks, nine rebound 50s) who did most of the damage in general play. For an improving Dandenong, Hayden Young showed off his prowess around the ball with a game-high 26 disposals and one goal alongside Ned Cahill (23 disposals, seven tackles, six inside 50s). Meanwhile, Bigoa Nyuon covered the late omission of Sam De Koning and an injury to Bailey Schmidt to have 14 disposals and 22 hitouts from the ruck, with Lachlan Williams (21 disposals, two goals) good on the outside. The Stingrays have at least one game in hand against every other side, and will look to climb back up the ranks in their final two fixtures. A tough assignment against ladder leaders Eastern is up next, while Gippsland travels to face Bendigo next after a bye.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 4.2 | 9.3 | 16.9 | 18.13 (121)
WESTERN JETS 1.1 | 2.5 | 3.6 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS
Murray: J. Rachele 3, J. Boyer 3, W. Chandler 2, T. Panuccio 2, C. Wild, L. Ash, K. Chalcraft, N. Pendergast, C. Byrne, J. Chalcraft, N. Irvine, D. Bedendo
Western: J. Honey 3, J. Horo, A. Manton, B. Ryan, D. Grmusa

BEST
Murray: J. Boyer, D. Clarke, J. Rachele, L. Ash, J. Chalcraft, C. Byrne
Western: C. Raak, L. Conway, J. Honey, A. Manton, D. Andrews , E. Jeka

In the Bushrangers’ clear best performance for the year, Murray completely dominated its game with Western Jets up in Wangaratta, putting the top four hopefuls to the sword in a massive 72-point win. The 12-goal win arguably could have been more, with the game done and dusted by the final break with the margin out to 81 points and as much as 87 early in the final term, though to the Jets’ credit they kept fighting and booted four of the last five goals of the game to cut the final deficit to 72. Jimmy Boyer booted three goals from 26 disposals and seven marks, while Cam Wild (29 disposals, one goal), Jye Chalcraft (26 disposals, one goal) and Dylan Clarke (24 disposals, one goal) all hit the scoreboard as well. Charlie Byrne was impressive in defence for the winners, while up forward, Under 16s mid-forward Josh Rachele was super with three goals from 21 touches and setting up multiple scoring opportunities for his teammates. For Western, Cody Raak (24 disposals, 11 rebounds) stood up in the absence of key teammates to continue his good form, whilst overagers Daly Andrews (24 disposals) and Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 52 hitouts) worked hard throughout the midfield, and Josh Honey (16 disposals, 3.2) was the most damaging forward for the Jets in an otherwise disappointing performance.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.7 | 7.8 (50)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.1 | 6.4 | 9.7 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS
Northern: N. Cox 4, C. Barbera, J. D’Intinosante, L. McMahon
Bendigo: J. Evans 2, J. Ginnivan, C. Smith, A. Gundry, W. Wallace, E. Roberts, J. Hickman, J. Rodi, B. Worme, J. Treacy, R. Wilson, K. Atwell

BEST
Northern: J. Davies, J. Potter, N. Cox, S. Brazier, S. Philp, R. Gardner
Bendigo: J. Rodi, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, J. Hickman, K. Attwell, A. Gundry

Bendigo Pioneers delivered arguably the upset of the round, trumping the Northern Knights by 37 points at Preston City Oval in Saturday’s final fixture. The travelling side edged ahead early on after a tight start and really threatened to take the game away from Northern with three goals to nil in the first twenty minutes of the second term, but late goals to Josh D’Intinosante and Nikolas Cox kept the Knights in with a sniff. The Pioneers delivered an ideal response, again starting well after the main break and grabbing a definitive four-goal buffer heading into the last turn, before adding four goals to two in the final quarter to run away with an impressive win. An impressive tally of 11 individual goal kickers was led by two from Jack Evans, who thoroughly enjoyed celebrating each, with Jack Ginnivan (22 disposals, seven marks, one goal) another to impress in the forward half. Further afield, Jeremy Rodi and Jack Hickman provided great burst from the stoppages, with solid service coming from Aaron Gundry in the ruck. Despite the disappointing loss there were a few standouts for Northern too, with mobile bottom-age utility Cox booting four goals, while Jackson Davies (24 disposals, 10 marks) was again terrific down back and Sunny Brazier (24 disposals, seven tackles) joined Sam Philp (22 disposals) in doing a heap of dirty-work amongst the mud pit of Preston City Oval’s centre square. While the Knights can enjoy a week off before facing Western in their final fixture, Bendigo is set to do battle with GWV in Round 16.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.6 | 7.11 | 8.13 (61)
CALDER CANNONS 2.1 | 4.3 | 6.7 | 9.11 (65)

GOALS
GWV: N. Caris 2, M. Lloyd 2, H. Sharp 2, I. Grant, M. Martin
Calder: M. Fletcher 3, N. Gentile 3, H. Andronaco, S. Paea, J. O’Sullivan

BEST
GWV: I. Grant, J. Rantall, J. Hill, C. Craig-Peters, J. Dwyer, H. Sharp
Calder: S. Ramsay, J. Cardillo, F. Gentile, J. Eyre, J. Hotchkin, H. Andronaco

The GWV Rebels fell agonisingly short of what would have been a deserving upset win on home turf, fading out late to go down by four points to an inexperienced Calder Cannons side in Sunday’s only game. Despite building a steady buffer in each term and leading at every change, the Rebels just failed to hang on in the last as Calder found a second wind to boot 3.4 to their 1.2 and snatch victory. Sam Ramsay continued his outstanding form of late to collect 33 disposals and lay 12 tackles as arguably the best player afield, with only GWV ball magnet Jay Rantall (35 disposals, eight marks) topping his disposal haul. Ned Gentile was another to stand up with 21 disposals and three goals, with bottom-ager Jackson Cardillo (18 disposals) and 16-year-olds Flynn Gentile (21 disposals, six tackles) and Harrison Andronaco (17 disposals, 1.2) giving a promising glimpse into the future. For the Rebels, Izaac Grant had his best game of the year with 20 disposals and a goal, with Jed Hill handy off half-back, Cooper Craig-Peters (27 disposals, 10 tackles) busy through midfield and Mitch Martin (21 disposals, one goal) adding his usual class. GWV now faces a couple of all-country fixtures to see out its regular season, while the Cannons are booked to clash with Eastern in Round 17 after a bye.

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Boys – Round 5

A NEW ladder-leader has emerged in the NAB League as one academy side suffered its first loss, and Geelong Falcons and Northern Territory remain the only ones without a win. With eyes on each of the nine games, here is the Round 5 wash-up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.1 | 6.1 | 7.2 | 7.7 (49)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Bendigo: K. Brown 2, K. Attwell, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, C. Fisher, J. Rodi.
Northern: J. Bowne 2, S. Brazier 2, J. D’Intinosante, C. Barbera, Z. Costello, J. Lucente.

BEST:

Bendigo: R. Wilson, W. Wallace, J. Ginnivan, J. Schischka, B. Worme, R. Ironside.
Northern: E. Macpherson, J. D’Intinosante, S. Philp, S. Brazier, Z. Costello, L. Potter.

It took five rounds but Northern Knights finally came away with some premiership points, downing the impressive Bendigo Pioneers by less than a kick under lights at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Friday night. Bendigo lost its second consecutive game after starting the season 2-0, despite having chances to win in both matches. In this clash, the Pioneers led throughout the night, including by 17 points at the main break. A more determined Knights outfit came out in the second half, making the most of their run and carry, booting five goals to one in the second half to secure the five-point victory. Ewan Macpherson was named best on ground for Northern, while Josh D’Intinosante was consistent across the four quarters, as were fellow inside midfielders, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier. Lachie Potter showed dash off half-back and between the run from defence to the inside ball winning capabilities, the Knights were better across the four quarters. For the Pioneers, Riley Wilson was terrific across the four quarters, while James Schischka was ever-reliable in defence with William Wallace, while Ben Worme and Riley Ironside were others who performed on the night for the Pioneers.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.10 (88)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.3 | 2.9 | 7.9 | 9.10 (64)

GOALS:

Sydney: H. Ellem 3, T. Drum 2, H. Maguire 2, M. Sheather, A. Watling, J. Barling, K. McGrath, P. Roseby, M. Rossmann.
Murray: C. Wilson 3, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, K. Chalcraft, J. Chalcraft, J. O’Dwyer.

BEST:

Sydney: L. Swaney, C. Nash, A. Watling, M. Geddes, J. Dol, S. Thorne
Murray: C. Wild, J. Chalcraft, S. Durham, K. Chalcraft, C. Wilson, W. Christie

Sydney Swans Academy extended its unbeaten NAB League run on Saturday, kicking off the Blacktown double-header with an impressive 24-point win over the Murray Bushrangers. The loss is the only result for Murray that has been decided by over seven points after going 1-2 across the first three rounds, with the Bushrangers unlucky to be languishing in the bottom half of the table. They were beaten out of the blocks by the home side, which broke out to a 29-point lead at the first break, while building on it well to find themselves an seven six goals up at half time. The Bushrangers fought back after the main break, taking their chances well to boot 5.0 to 2.2 in the third term, but the gap proved too far to bridge in a rather stalemate final stanza as the Swans cruised to victory. An impressive nine individual Swans goal kickers were led by Hamish Ellem‘s three majors from 22 disposals, while Harry Maguire and Thomas Drum snared two each in low possession games. While Kyle Martin led their possession count, Lachlan Swaney was named best for the Swans for his 18-disposal performance, while Sam Thorne, Max Geddes and Jacob Dol each had over 20 touches to also be thereabouts. Cam Wild continues to be a standout for Murray, named their best in this outing on the back of 28 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal, while both Kade and Jye Chalcraft hit the scoreboard to be named in the best alongside leading goal-getter Cameron Wilson, who bagged three. Murray goes on to face other Sydney academy, GWS in Round 6, while the Swans face Geelong Falcons in their final NAB League hit-out.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.2 | 10.4 | 12.8 | 19.10 (124)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Dandenong: E. Cahill 3, L. Williams 3, J. Neal 2, W. Bravo 2, B. Kuipers 2, J. Nanscawen 2, B. Nyuon, B. Welsh, B. Milford, A. Bradtke, L. Goonan.
Oakleigh: L. Stelling 2, T. Graham, T. Lovell, R. Valentine, H. Mundy, B. Rogers, F. Elliot.

BEST:

Dandenong: E. Cahill, J. Toner, J. Nanscawen, L. Williams, S. De Koning, C. Gay
Oakleigh: J. Woodfull, S. Seach, R. Valentine, L. Jenkins, F. Elliot, L. Stelling

In their first three clashes, the Dandenong Stingrays have enjoyed absolute nail-biters, winning by a goal twice, and the drawing with Geelong Falcons in Round 3. While the opening term scores suggested this one would head down the same path, the action told a different story with the Stingrays on top, but not putt ing the scores on the board. That happened in the second term when they took full control of the game from Oakleigh Chargers, piling on eight goals to one with the breeze in a windy day at Shepley Oval. In front of a home crowd, the Stingrays put an understrength Oakleigh to the sword, extending the lead to 52 points by the final break, before running away with it in the last term as both sides managed to break through for goals. Eleven majors were kicked as Dandenong won that quarter seven goals to four, and enjoyed a massive 70-point win. In the absence of Hayden Young, Ned Cahill stood tall to be the standout player on the ground, while Luke Williams also contributed with his long-range goals a highlight. Jack Toner and Clayton Gay were solid throughout, as was Sam De Koning who took a multitude of intercept marks at centre half-back. For Oakleigh, Jacob Woodfull is hard to miss, rocking a mullet, but the ruck was sensational throughout the match, while Sam Seach and Ryan Valentine were also named among the best. AFL Academy members and co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams showed signs across the ground, but the Stingrays controlled the play for the most part in the impressive win.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 8.3 | 13.9 | 17.13 | 19.18 (132)
BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 0.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.5 (35)

GOALS:

Sandringham: B. O’Leary 3, J. Bell 2, K. Yorke 2, A. Courtney 2, A. Hanrahan 2, R. Byrnes, T. Murray, J. Voss, J. Le Grice , T. Deane-Johns, G. Grey, D. Hipwell, A. Perkins.
Brisbane: T. Wischnat, T. Abberley, C. Bowes, M. McDonald, T. Matthews.

BEST:

Sandringham: J. Bell, J. Voss, H. Loughnan, R. Byrnes, L. Butler, R. Bowman
Brisbane: W. Martyn, T. Griffiths, B. Reville, T. Jeffrey

New NAB League table-toppers Sandringham Dragons roared to a thumping 97-point win over the Brisbane Lions academy, keeping its perfect record in tact. A 13-goal to one blitz in the first half set up the final margin of victory for the home side, with a whopping 13 Dragons getting on the scoresheet and five of them scoring multiple goals – led by Blake O’Leary‘s three. The tall timber of Jack Bell and Andrew Courtney proved a handful for the Lions defence, with over-ager Angus Hanrahan chiming in well early and bottom-ager Archie Perkins also impressive forward of centre. Midfield maestro Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) was the key catalyst for the first-half onslaught though, winning a wealth of ball through the middle and setting Sandringham forward with bursting runs and inside 50 entries on both sides. The likes of Louis Butler (31 disposals) and Harry Loughnan (25, nine marks) also covered the ground well, with Riley Bowman showing his versatility in all key-position posts. Though they were soundly beaten overall, the Lions showed good heart in the second half to keep Sandringham to six goals while scoring four of their own, with key players finding their way into the game. One who was combative all day was Will Martyn (33 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles), leading his side well from midfield and leading all-comers in disposals. Tom Griffiths was named in the best for his role in an under-siege defence, while the smooth-moving Bruce Reville lifted in the second half to also be thereabouts, and bottom-ager Tahj Abberley also showed good signs. In its final NAB League outing, Brisbane hosts Dandenong in the Sunshine State, while Sandringham can enjoy a bye.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 1.1 | 5.1 | 9.4 | 9.7 (61)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.5 | 9.5 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

GWS: L. Conlan 2, L. Delahunty 2, H. Grant 2, R. Mooney, J. Peatling, T. Organ.
Gippsland: R. Baldi 2, H. Pepper, Z. Skinner, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, B. Maslen, W. Papley, F. Phillips, K. Dunkley.

BEST:

GWS: H. Grant, N. Murray, L. Squire, J. Lucas, S. Driscoll, J. Peatling
Gippsland: J. Smith, H. Pepper, R. Baldi, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, T. Hourigan

Gippsland Power was made to work for its third win of the NAB League season, downing a spirited GWS Giants Academy side by nine points in Blacktown. The travel did not seem to faze the Victorian side, looking fresh coming off a bye round to set up an early lead. The Power’s 13-point quarter-time lead proved the difference in their second-consecutive win, as the home side poured on eight goals during the second and third terms to get within a single point heading into the final break. With the game on the line, Gippsland’s depth proved too strong, seeing the Power home in a tense and low-scoring final term. Riley Baldi sent a timely reminder of his talent with 22 disposals, eight inside 50s and two goals on his return, with big-man Josh Smith named Gippsland’s best. Harrison Pepper (26 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (18) found a good amount of ball on top of hitting the scoreboard, while Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Ryan Sparkes (18 disposals) continued their solid partnership across half-back. Harry Grant had a monster day out as GWS’ best with 31 disposals and two goals, while Liam Delahunty and Lucas Conlan were the other multiple goal kickers. Ball winners Lachlan Squire (26 disposals, Jeromy Lucas (24), and Nicholas Murray (21) also proved important for the Giants in the narrow loss. GWS’ last NAB League fixture comes against Murray in Victoria, with Gippsland returning to home turf in Round 6 to face the in-form Eastern in a top eight clash.

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Eastern: B. White 4, J. Rossiter 3, B. Hickleton 2, Z. Pretty, C. Hirst.
Gold Coast: R. Buckland, E. Dawson.

BEST:

Eastern: R. Smith, Z. Pretty, J. Nathan, J. Clarke, L. Stapleton, B. White
Gold Coast: C. Joyce, C. Budarick, M. Pescud , D. Koenen, R. Gilmore, P. Murtagh

Eastern Ranges made it a double demolition of the Northern Academies at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, downing the Gold Coast Suns academy by 59 points to climb into the competition’s top two. After a first-half arm-wrestle ensued, the Ranges broke the game open with a seven-goal to nil third term to set up their fourth-straight win. Three players did the bulk of Eastern’s scoring, with Bailey White claiming an opportunistic bag of four goals in his first game for the year, while Jamieson Rossiter booted 3.3 in a solid marking display and Ben Hickleton chimed in with 2.4. Another player to find the goals, Zak Pretty, amassed a whopping 37 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency to earn the Draft Central player of the week nod, but was beaten out by dominant ruckman Riley Smith (19 disposals, 37 hit-outs) for best-afield honours. Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis continued their good form through the middle, with bottom-age prospect Joshua Clarke impressing off half-back with plenty of dash. Ryan Buckland and Ethan Dawson were the Suns’ only goal kickers for the day, with many of their best players employed further afield. Connor Budarick (27 disposals, 16 tackles) continues to shine on the back of hard work, while Corey Joyce and Dirk Koenen were also named in the best for their roles in defence. The Suns head back home next week to face GWV and see out their NAB League cameo, while Eastern faces a tough task in keeping its win-streak alive against Gippsland in Morwell.

CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 8.11 (59)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 2.1 | 6.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

Calder: N. Gentile 3, J. Martin 2, O. Sasalu, M. Simpson, J. Keeping.
Geelong: C. Sprague 2, L. Lloyd 2, C. Seymour, L. Smith, K. Rayner, W. Batson.

BEST:

Calder: B. Newman, D. Mott, N. Gentile, O. Sasalu, S. Ramsay, S. Graham
Geelong: H. Stubbings, S. Christensen, C. Karpala, C. Sprague, S. Bourke, W. Batson

The Calder Cannons were made to earn their second win of the year, leaving Geelong Falcons winless after five rounds with a seven-point victory at RAMS Arena. With the wind favouring one end, the game was ultimately decided by Calder’s dominant second quarter, where the Cannons scored 4.5 while keeping Geelong scoreless to open up a 17-point lead. Despite bridging the gap to a single point heading into the final break, the Falcons were outlasted by the home side, which converted well in the clutch moments in an otherwise hit-and-miss display in front of goal. Ned Gentile (21 disposals, three goals) converted in each of the last three quarters to provide a key hand, while other multiple goal kicker Jacob Martin kicked the deciding goal with seven minutes to play. The game was dominated by Cannons key defender Brodie Newman, who recorded 36 disposals and an incredible 17 marks, while Daniel Mott (29 disposals) continued to build his form and Sam Ramsay (27) was also good. Not all is lost for the Falcons despite being the only full-time NAB League side without a win, with some of their depth players standing up. Over-ager Harry Stubbings was named best for his 20 disposals and nine tackles, with Will Batson (20 disposals, one goal) and Chas Karpala (19 disposals) also amongst it, while Charlie Sprague returned an impressive 18 disposals, six marks, and two goals. Geelong’s search for a win continues on neutral territory in Round 6 against an unbeaten Sydney Academy side, with Calder hosting at RAMS Arena once again against Bendigo.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western: A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

A second-consecutive win sees Western Jets fly into the NAB League top eight, accounting for Tasmania Devils by 47 points on the Apple Isle. With the two sides coming in on eight points apiece, it was the Jets who got the better of an early stalemate – snatching a two-point lead at the first break and never looking back. The travelling side gradually widened the margin as the game went on, kicking no more than three goals in each quarter to build their eventual winning score. While goals were hard to come by for the Devils, they proved competitive up the field but were beaten by a combination of Western’s strength and classy ball winners. Darcy Cassar led the way in the latter department, collecting a game-high 31 disposals (27 kicks, 13 marks) from half-back, while Josh Honey was back to his best with 25 disposals and two goals, and Josh Kellett (18 disposals) also proved effective. Over-ager Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 33 hit-outs) continues to dominate in the ruck, while fellow big-man Aaron Clarke clunked nine marks and Archi Manton converted three goals up forward. For the home side, Oscar Burrows-Cheng was named best for his combative 22 disposals, with Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon the leading disposal getters (both 25) and debutant Isaac Chugg showing some promising signs. The Devils remain in Tasmania for a clash against Oakleigh at North Hobart Oval next week, while Western has a bye in Round 6.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 10.6 | 13.9 | 17.10 (112)
NT THUNDER 1.2 | 1.5 | 6.8 | 8.9 (57)

GOALS:

GWV: N. Caris 4, R. Polkinghorne 2, I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rantall 2, T. Mahony 2, C. Craig-Peters, J. Hill, M. Martin.
NT: T. Woods 3, M. Cumming 2, B. O’Connell 2, J. Lynch.

BEST:

GWV: P. Glanford, C. Craig-Peters, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, J. Rantall, M. Lloyd
NT: B. Jungfer, B. O’Connell, L. Ferreira, S. Cumming, M. Cumming, J. Jeffrey

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have come away with an easy Round 5 victory, downing Northern Territory Thunder by 55 points at Windy Hill. The venue was aptly named for the conditions as a strong breeze blowing a gale caused for some inaccuracy at times, although both teams seemed well equipped by half-time to deal with the conditions. The Rebels never looked like losing the game, piling on 10 goals to one by half-time and essentially having put a nail in the Thunders’ coffin as they headed into the main break. The Northern Territory coaches told the players that their efforts “now” (in the second half) was what mattered and was within their control, and the visitors answered with three of the first four goals, and five foals to three in the term, to cut the deficit to 43 points by the final break. Any slight hint of a comeback was soon snuffed out within eight and a half minutes as the Rebels piled on four consecutive goals – including two to Izaac Grant – to race away to a 67-point advantage. Two late goals to Beau O’Connell and Matthew Cumming restored the final margin to 55. Patrick Glanford was named the Rebels’ best in the ruck, competing against the bigger-bodied Stephen Cumming, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne were among nine individual goalkickers. Nick Caris led the way with four majors, while Polkinghorne, Grant, Jay Rantall, Toby Mahony and Matty Lloyd all booted two apiece. For the Thunder, Tyson Woods kicked three goals all within 15 metres, while Matthew Cumming managed two majors, as did O’Connell. The small mid-forward was a standout for the Thunder, working hard on the outside with Ben Jungfer doing the heavy lifting on the inside. Down back, Joel Jeffrey had some highlight reel moments with high leaps and terrific intercept marks.

Weekend preview: NAB League Boys – Round 2

AN HISTORIC weekend of NAB League football will see Northern Academies thrown in the mixer for the first of five rounds, while the Tasmania Devils get their first crack in the competition after an opening round bye. With a massive nine games across two days, we are set for a true feast of football.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY v. TASMANIA DEVILS

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
9:30AM
Blacktown Olympic Park

One of the more anticipated aspects of the exciting new NAB League era is the inclusion of Tasmania and interstate academies, giving the competition a truely national feel. On Saturday, onlookers will get their first look at both an academy side and the Apple Isle talent as Sydney Swans Academy and Tasmania open Round 2 proceedings in Blacktown. The Swans are set to showcase the wealth of talent available to them over the next two draft years, led by dynamic forward Josh Rayner. Named at full forward, Rayner is also capable of using his big frame in the midfield. Skipper Sam Thorne is named at the heart of an exciting midfield alongside Jackson Barling, with bottom-aged stars Braedon Campbell and Errol Gulden set to start on either wing. The likes of Mitch O’Neill, Ollie Davis and Nic Baker will put their hands up to match the Swans’ midfield class, with Sam Collins also one to watch across half back. The neat Tassie ball users will all be looking to hit up imposing spearhead, Jackson Callow, although he could well be sent down back to cover the dangerous Rayner. An exciting match should provide a fitting opening to the new phase of Under 18 football, with both sides looking to make a memorable entrance.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY v. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
11:55am
Blacktown International Sports Park

The second game of the round features the first all-academy NAB League clash, as the GWS Giants and Brisbane Lions academies do battle as part of the Blacktown triple-header. Liam Delahunty headlines the Giants’ talent, with the versatile tall set to provide some highlights from centre-half-forward. Tom Green is also one to keep a keen eye on, set to anchor the midfield alongside Matt McGrory. The Lions have some promising types, too, with an impressive centre line jumping off the page. Bottom ager Saxon Crozier holds down a wing, with Bruce Reville on the other and Will Martyn holding post in the middle. Smalls Tahj Abberley and Tom Wischnat will also provide good run and goal sense respectively, with the Lions side full of impressive forward movers. With games against fellow state academies to come in Round 3, this game will be a good opportunity to blow out the cobwebs and polish up before the all-important state derbies.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
1:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

Gippsland hosts the first hit-out between established NAB League teams for Round 2, with an all-country clash against Murray set to hit Morwell. Both sides are coming off wins by under a goal in the opening round, but it is a strong Gippsland outfit that will come into the bout as favourite. The Power will be further strengthened by the inclusion of Caleb Serong, named in the forward line but sure to join the dynamic Sam Flanders through midfield. With Brock Smith and Josh Smith holding down key positions at either end of the ground, expect a complete team display from the hosts. The reigning premiers have some serious talent of their own, with potential No. 1 pick Hayden Young looking to build on a steady Round 1 performance. Versatile talls Sam De Koning and Bigoa Nyuon should hold down either end, with Nyuon looking to solidify a promising forward partnership with goalsneak, Ned Cahill. The over-age trio of Jai Nanscawen, Bailey Schmidt and Mitch Riordan will also provide some much-needed experience and grunt. While the Power’s top-end talent runs a little deeper, count the Stingrays out at your own peril.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
2:00pm
Deakin Reserve – Shepparton

Bendigo travels to Shepparton in Saturday’s second all-country clash, set to do battle with narrow Round 1 losers, Murray. The Pioneers hit the ground running last week, storming out of the blocks against Geelong with a six goal to nil opening term setting up a memorable win. Murray had a tighter tussle at home to Gippsland, being edged out early in the final term to go down by three points. Despite the result, there is plenty of promise coming into this round for Murray, with Lachlan Ash leading a talented bunch. With Jye Chalcraft named in the midfield and bottom-ager Elijah Hollands at half-forward, the Bushrangers look a dynamic unit with a good deal of versatility. While they are a good chance to bounce back this week, their opponents, Bendigo are up and about. The midfield duo of Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp will be key again in providing drive from midfield. The mopping up of James Schischka and James Conforti in defence will also be important if Bendigo are to back up their impressive performance.

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY v. NORTHERN TERRITORY

Round 2 – 30/03/2019
2:20pm
Blacktown International Sports Park

The final interstate feature game in Blacktown sees the Gold Coast Suns Academy face off against Northern Territory in a clash that should produce some fireworks. The SUNS are set to unleash all five of their AFL Academy members, with Connor Budarick the clear standout of the group. Fellow member Ashton Crossley will join him in midfield, with Hewago Paul-Oea another to watch across half-forward opposite Josh Gore. The Thunder has its own formidable forward threat, with Wanderers gun Joel Jeffrey named at the heart of their attack, and 2020 Richmond father-son hopeful Maurice Rioli Jr set to light up the field. They will be without arguably their best player in Malcolm Rosas Jr, but boast the returning tall timber of Matthew and Stephen Cumming. With excitement machines on either forward line and a couple of classy mids to boot, expect this one to be easy on the eye as the game opens up. With a tough draw to come for both sides, this may well prove to be their greatest opportunity to snatch a win.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
10:00am
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

Sandringham will be looking to make it two wins on the trot as it faces a Northern side still looking four its first set of four points. The Dragons were formidable last week, trouncing Calder in an awesome display from the midfield and forward. Northern will hope to contain Sandringham’s tall attacking trio of Riley Bowman, Charlie Dean, and Jack Bell – which combined for 10 goals in the 109-point Round 1 win. A combination of bottom-age defenders Regan Uwandu, Jaden Collins, and Nicholas Cox look set to cover two of the three, while Ryan Sturgess‘ intercept game will surely be tested as well. The Knights’ fleet of runners, including Lachlan Potter and Ryan Gardner, will be key in getting the visitors out of trouble quickly, while ball-winners Sam Philp and Adam Carafa will battle hard against the in-form trio of Ryan Byrnes, Jack Mahony, and Finn Maginness. The first game in a Trevor Barker Beach Oval double-header, this one will feature a host of draftable talent and will be important for the Dragons as they remain at full strength during the early season.

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
12:30pm
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

A second consecutive win to open the season is up for grabs for the Western Jets as they play Eastern Ranges on neutral ground to close out a Sunday double-header. While the Jets soared home to an impressive comeback win over the Knights last round, the Ranges went down to a stacked Oakleigh side – but it was not without a fight. With the Jets surely looking to not leave their charge so late, Eastern will have to start strongly once again and maintain the standard they set in Round 1 if they are to be competitive once again. Cody Hirst and Lachlan Stapleton will prop up the midfield as usual, with Jets stars Darcy Cassar and Josh Honey the ‘hosts’ key ball-winners. Western’s tall forward duo of Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke could well prove to be the difference, with the former looking dangerous last week and the latter booting three crucial goals. East vs. West – it promises to be a good one.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
1:00pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

An opportunity to get on the board for season 2019 looms for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Geelong Falcons when they clash in Ballarat. The Rebels looked the better of the two sides last week, going down by just six points to the reigning premiers despite a spirited final term. On the other hand, the Falcons looked unlikely of pulling back the six-goal opening term deficit they conceded against Bendigo, and had their score doubled in the upset loss at home. Travelling this time around, Geelong will hope the form of co-captains Cooper Stephens and Jesse Clark remains good, with 19-year old Charlie Sprague another who stood up and will be important. Another over-ager, Matty Lloyd, was crucial to the Rebels’ effort last week, and will hope to again excel with delivery from Cooper Craig-Peters and Mitch Martin. With goalsneak Izaac Grant in the side and Jed Hill also able to play forward, GWV will look to have Geelong’s defence overwhelmed for the second week running. With players set to leave for school football commitments during the middle of the year, this is a crucial chance for Geelong to claim an early win, but GWV never give it up easily.

CALDER CANNONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 2 – 31/03/2019
3:40pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

Calder Cannons faces a tough task in bettering the Round 1 thumping it suffered, with a talented Oakleigh Chargers side posing as its next challenger. The Cannons went down by 109 points to Sandringham, a side equally fancied to Oakleigh, in their season opener. Despite the heavy loss, the likes of Daniel Mott and over-ager Tye Browning stood up in the drubbing and the home side is set to be boosted by the inclusions of Mason Fletcher down back and Campbell Edwardes into the midfield. There is not much that needs to be said about the Chargers’ talent, with Noah Anderson looking to back up his Draft Central player of the week heroics – without the aid of Trent Bianco, who will miss with concussion. While it looks a stiff ask on paper, Calder will be breathing fire after a poor display and will hope to really bring it to Oakleigh on home turf.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

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

Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

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

#8 Lachlan Sholl

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

#20 Rhylee West

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

#23 Daniel Hanna

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

#30 Mitch Podhajski

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

#57 Josh Kemp

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

 

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

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

#20 Brayden Ham

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

#22 Sam Walsh

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

#30 Oscar Brownless

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

#36 Charlie Sprague

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

#39 Connor Idun

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

#41 Cooper Stephens

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

 

Northern Knights vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie

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

#8 Adam Carafa

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

GWV:

#14 Jed Hill

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

#21 Izaac Grant

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

#24 Matty Lloyd

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

 

Western Jets vs. Eastern Ranges

Western:

By: Ed Pascoe

#17 Daly Andrews

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

#24 Josh Honey

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

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

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

#38 Buku Khamis

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

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

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

 

Eastern:

By: Michael Alvaro

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

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

#11 Mitch Mellis

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

#31 James Blanck

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

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Murray:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Jordan Butts

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

#5 Ely Smith

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

#6 Will Chandler

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

#7 Zane Barzen

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

#9 Mathew Walker

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

#12 Lachlan Ash

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

#16 Nick Murray

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

#18 Hudson Garoni

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

#19 Jimmy Boyer

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

#26 Riley Bice

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

 

Bendigo:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Jye Caldwell

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

#8 Brodie Kemp

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

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

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

 

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

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

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

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

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

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

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

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

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

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

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

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

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

MARS Stadium, Ballarat

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

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

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

Calder Cannons

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

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

Geelong Falcons

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

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

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

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

MARS Stadium, Ballarat

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

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

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

Northern Knights

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

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

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

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

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

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

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

IKON Park, Carlton North

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

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

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

Western Jets

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

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

Eastern Ranges

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

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

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

IKON Park, Carlton North

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

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

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

Murray Bushrangers

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

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

Bendigo Pioneers

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

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

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 15

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

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

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

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

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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

 

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

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

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

 

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

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

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

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

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

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