Tag: james blanck

AFL Draft preview: West Coast

THE 2018 premiers do not have too many pressing needs for their list, especially considering their premiership window is wide open.

LIST NEEDS

  • Best available but:
    • Ruck depth
    • Small-medium forward
    • Key defender
    • Small-medium defender

 

DRAFT PICKS: 20, 22, 61, 72, 76, 94

Coming off the premiership, the Eagles do not have any significant holes in their list management – they have a well-stocked midfield, an array of gun forwards, some excellent defenders and serviceable ruckmen.

They enter the draft at pick 20 and depending if he slides, the Eagles could look to Perth product Ian Hill to fill the shoes left by the retired Mark LeCras. Hill is a similar damaging small forward to Fremantle star Michael Walters, and would add an extra spark to an already impressive forward line. They might opt for a taller forward option in Sam Sturt or Curtis Taylor if either are on the board. West Coast could be the side that pounces first on Bailey Williams if they think he can fit amongst their talls and secure a long-term ruck/forward rather than a short-term mature-ager.

With pick 22, West Coast could look at Victorian pair Xavier O’Halloran and Ely Smith. O’Halloran, a product of the Western Jets, is seen as the best leader in this year’s draft pool and is a midfielder capable of inflicting damage on the scoreboard – traits similar to Richmond’s premiership captain Trent Cotchin. Smith on the other hand is a speedy and competitive midfielder who attacks each contest with vigour, similar to St Kilda’s David Armitage.

It is expected the Eagles will receive a bid for Next-Generation Academy member Jarrod Cameron around pick 40 and will certainly match the offer, giving up their remaining picks for the Swan Districts product. Cameron is a small forward who is raw but has plenty of upside. If they look to add a tall late in the draft, perhaps they turn to James BlanckRiley Grundy or Kyle Reid who could be there in the final stages of the draft.

There is talk that the Eagles will look to add ex-Sydney player Harry Marsh or ex-Brisbane player Marco Paparone in the Rookie Draft. Marsh will add to the small-medium defensive options, especially considering Shannon Hurn is 32. Paparone will be the fourth recognised key defender at West Coast behind Jeremy McGovern, Tom Barrass, and Will Schofield.

AFL Draft preview: Geelong

AFTER a disappointing campaign that saw the Cats sneak just inside the top eight, fans were keen to see what their side could do come trade period and now, draft time. Having targeted elite midfield talent in the past, they look set to continue down that path with their first pick, while bids for their father-son and Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects will both come later on. To get the most out of their haul, the Cats will have to get creative and look towards the future with who they select.

List Needs:

  • Best available but looking at:
    • Midfield depth
    • Ruck/Key Forward
    • Key defenders
    • Running defenders

DRAFT SELECTIONS: 12, 50, 51, 70, 87

While there are not any glaring holes in Geelong’s best 22 on paper with the recruits of Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan as pressure forwards, they will look to add depth to many positions with the future firmly in their focus as some of their brightest stars age.

The Cats look destined to select a midfielder with their first pick, and South Australian Jackson Hately looks a good fit at this stage. The 190cm contested ball winner had an outstanding National Championships in the star-studded SA midfield, but also showed he can play his trade on the outside if required. A ready-made prospect, Hately can match it with the bigger bodies having played 12 SANFL League games this year, and could well make it past picks nine and 11 held by the respective Adelaide sides. Tasmanian Chayce Jones and Vic Metro representative Riley Collier-Dawkins are well in the mix for top 10 honours, but would also be suitable picks for the Cats should they slip down the rankings. Both Jones and Collier-Dawkins have high ceilings and have proven they can play forward which could be handy as Geelong’s star midfielders move on in the coming years. Morrish Medallist Liam Stocker is the other pure midfield option at the high end of the draft, and is right in the top 15 mix. A potential draft bolter could be Western Jets’ excitement machine Zak Butters who they might consider at the pick.

The Cats then have a break until Round 3 action, where they hold picks 50 and 51. The pick swap for number 51 with Collingwood allowed the Pies to gain points for their own NGA and father-son nominees, but will provide good insurance for the Cats if a bid comes early for Oscar Brownless. The son of Billy, Oscar has a great tank and tackles well as an outside midfielder who can move forward. Geelong’s remaining Round 3 pick could be used on a fellow Falcons product, with the likes of Brayden Ham and Charlie Sprague adding x-factor and continuing the Cats’ good relationship with their TAC Cup affiliates. Should they look to add defensive depth, the dynamic Connor Idun is another Falcon who represented Vic Country and positions himself well at either end.

On the topic of key defensive depth, TAC Cup graduates Kyle Reid and James Blanck are prospects who had impressive National Championships with Country and Metro respectively. Gippsland’s Reid is more of a traditional defender who does all of the right things in the defensive 50 and rebounds calmly, while Eastern’s Blanck has great closing speed and can dominate in the air. Both could be available up to pick 70, and would be safe bets at that stage. The Cats may also be interested in South Australian Callum Wilkie, who was a prolific junior. The North Adelaide best and fairest was outstanding in his side’s premiership year, averaging 25.5 disposals and 8.6 marks as a third-up defender who can also play forward.

The Cats should then be left with a free shot at NGA prospect Blake Schlensog with pick 87 – another Geelong Falcon. Schlensog plies his trade as a ruck/forward and while he may be slightly undersized in the ruck at the next level, he showed his best form there.

Quaynor, Thomas and O’Neill kicking goals early at AFL Draft Combine

POTENTIAL Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) draft prospect, Isaac Quaynor aced the National AFL Draft Combine Goalkicking test last night, finishing the first evening of testing with a perfect score. Each of the players have five attempts at goal from various positions, with the Oakleigh Chargers talent kicking all five goals, despite being most suited to being a defender. Quaynor is most known for his kicking, and while he did not finish in the top 10 of the Kicking test, he was the clear standout in front of goals.

Brisbane Lions Academy member, and fellow defender, Keidean Coleman also impressed in front of the big sticks, scoring 4.1 from his five attempts, along with North Melbourne NGA prospect and top 10 hopeful, Tarryn Thomas, potential number one pick, Jack Lukosius, Northern Knights midfielder, Tom McKenzie and Irish hopeful, Mark Keane. Fellow Irish draft prospect, Jordan Morrisey scored four goals from five attempts, equal to that of top 10 hopeful and excitement machine, West Adelaide’s Izak Rankine, and Sandringham Dragons’ Angus Hanrahan.

In the kicking test, it was Thomas and Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Xavier O’Neill who proved they can use either foot, scoring 27 of a possible 30. They finished ahead of Gippsland Power overager, Matt McGannon (25) and Murray Bushrangers’ midfielder Ely Smith (24). Murray teammate, Laitham Vandermeer and Lukosius were next with 23/30. Vic Metro players, Noah Answerth, James Blanck and Metro captain, Xavier O’Halloran were all on 22, as were Allies, Chayce Jones and Nicholas Baker, and South Australian defender, Riley Grundy – brother of Collingwood’s Brodie.

NATIONAL AFL DRAFT COMBINE RESULTS

Kicking test (score out of 30)
1 – Tarryn Thomas 27
1 – Xavier O’Neill 27
3 – Matt McGannon 25
4 – Ely Smith 24
5 – Laithan Vandermeer 23
5 – Jack Lukosius 23
7 – Chayce Jones 22
7 – Noah Answerth 22
7 – Nicholas Baker 22
7 – Xavier O’Halloran 22
7 – James Blanck 22
7 – Riley Grundy 22

Goalkicking test (score out of 30)
1 – Isaac Quaynor 30
2 – Keidean Coleman 25
2 – Tarryn Thomas 25
2 – Tom McKenzie 25
2 – Mark Keane 25
2 – Jack Lukosius 25
7 – Izak Rankine 24
7 – Jordan Morrisey 24
7 – Angus Hanrahan 24

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.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 16

IN the final round of the TAC Cup season, we glanced over three games live and took notes on some of the combine invitees, bottom-agers who represented Victoria at the National Under 18 Championships, or those who played in the Under 17 Futures game.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays:

By: James Goller

Sandringham:

#2 Alistair Richards

Worked hard all day on the outside, taking the game on and breaking the lines. Built on his performance from the week before and looked like he has hit form at the right time of the year. Could be one to watch in the finals series, giving run to Sandringham’s quality inside brigade.

#17 Liam Stocker

Stocker tried all day in the midfield with another impressive performance. He was in and under the packs all day and was explosive around the stoppages. He is really hard to tackle and is one of those players that puts their body on the line for the team. He kicked the ball well throughout the game and showcased his accuracy in one passage of play on the wing, hitting Ben King on the chest.

#28 James Rendell

Rendell has played all over the ground this season showing his versatility up forward and down back. He also showed that he could handle playing ruck as well and was faced with a big task against Bailey Williams and Bailey Schmidt. He had some really good passages of play kicking a solid goal and took a great contested mark. He also showed some defensive attributes to his game laying a goal saving smother to cap off his solid performance.

#29 Ben King

Was kept fairly quiet by Matt Cumming only managing the one goal for the match. However it was really hard to be a forward for Sandringham with the ball stuck up the other end for the majority of the game. He showed great agility and was better in the second half, having more impact around the ground and taking a couple of good strong marks.

 

Dandenong:

#12 Matthew Gahan

Played down back and is a real honest player. He is really solid one-on-one and took a couple of strong marks throughout the game. He is a tough player and rebounded strongly using his run and carry to move the ball forward. He had a few turnovers but showed that he is definitely one to watch in the finals.

#15 Toby Bedford

Bedford was another strong contributor for the Stingrays and showcased his speed across the ground breaking away from stoppages and bursting forward. He imposed himself on the contest and put a solid amount of pressure on his opponents.

#28 Bailey Schmidt

Split the ruck load 60-40 between Bailey Williams. What was really good about his game was his attack in the contest. He laid a couple of strong tackles and as soon as the ball hit the ground he wanted to apply pressure and win the footy back for his side showing great desperation.

#29 Bailey Williams

Played really well and found himself at centre-half forward and in the ruck. He showed great agility when the ball hit the ground and was really strong in the contest. Williams took a couple of really strong marks and proved that he is hard to beat in a one-on-one up forward. He kicked two goals for the day and when he was in the ruck he was dominant.

#59 Sam Sturt

Sturt really impressed up forward, kicking three good goals. But it was his agility and explosive speed that was really eye catching helping to create play across the ground. He had really good hands in the contest and was able to find space when there was none. He also laid a couple of strong tackles. Looking forward to his finals series.

 

Geelong vs. Calder

By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

Had a typical performance on the day, winning a truckload of the ball and laying tackle after tackle. He used his agility to sidestep opponents and his smarts to avoid tackles, while also laying his own defensive pressure on bigger bodies. He had a shot on goal in the second term from the pocket that just missed, then McHenry set up Ben Morton with an easy goal via a handball. He set up another goal with an elite penetrating kick to Baxter Mensch on the 50m line. McHenry had a shot on goal in the third term but was pulled down as he kicked it and went out on the full. A great run-down tackle in defence and then subsequent rebound, lead to an end-to-end goal.

#20 Brayden Ham

Played up both ends, and managed to impress in both roles. He pushed up the ground when coming off half-back and gave some great kicks inside 50, including to the leading Connor Idun early on. He has that real exhilarating first few steps that can burn off an opponent, and can do it all day long credit to his stamina. He had a couple of shots on the run that were a little rushed, but his set shots were consistent, nailing one goal and being that high impact player up forward. One of the Falcons’ best once again. Worked hard all game and showed some good game smarts and positioning in the marking contest.

#22 Sam Walsh

Just another ‘wow’ performance from the potential number one pick. He covered the ground everywhere, had the ball on a string and was the clear best on ground in my opinion. Some of his highlights include a perfect kick under pressure to run laterally away from an opponent and kick across his body to the leading Connor Idun; changing his kicking motion when going inside 50 to pull the kick and put it best to his teammates’ advantage; and providing a low dart inside 50 to a sliding teammate. Buzzed around all day, copped several knocks and kept getting back up. A 10/10 performance.

#30 Oscar Brownless

Really busy start, got involved in everything and had some really nice moments throughout the game. In the third term he lowered the eyes and put in a dart to the leading Brayden Ham to set him up with a goal. He then got on the scoreboard himself with a long bomb from the 50m line.

#36 Charlie Sprague

First game back from injury and the medium tall forward stood up with three goals. Sprague could have had as many as five had it not been for a couple of misses, but got on the board early with an important snap. His next set shot he hit the behind post, and had a quiet second term before booting two goals, one behind, from set shots in the third quarter.

#39 Connor Idun

Idun booted the one goal, but presented out on long leads, providing options for his midfielders. It was one of his better forward games, because even though he missed opportunities with set shots, he created opportunities and space to open up through his leading. Idun had a strong set of hands and in the first term was able to cleanly take a loose ball in the air and handball inboard to Cooper Stephens, and also had great vision to kick across the forward 50 to Ned McHenry in the second term, who set up Ben Morton for a goal with a handball. After a number of attempts, Idun got on the board with a major in the final term with a set shot goal.

#41 Cooper Stephens

Stephens is developing into a really nice prospect for next year, with clean footskills and super composure with ball-in hand. He is able to move smoothly in close and his vision and ability to turn on a dime, such as he did in the second term before giving off the handball to a teammate, was fantastic. He did have a chance to capitalise with a goal from outside 50, but his shot went wide to the left. One of the best Falcons on the day.

 

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Played along the wing and showed some nice acceleration out of stoppages. He had a shot on goal in the final term, but it hit the post. The bottom-ager showed some nice highlights throughout. One of Calder’s best on the day, and combined well with West working hard on the outside.

#5 Curtis Taylor

A quieter game for Taylor, but he had a real purple patch in the final term, booting two last quarter goals and had a highlight-reel mark over Ned McHenry, intercepting a kick-in. Can float in and out at times, but has that natural talent that make people take notice.

#8 Lachlan Sholl

Contributed strongly across the four quarters, teaming up well with Rhylee West twice in the first quarter to hand him a goal and then unfortunately a behind, with pinpoint passes. He also delivered a nice pass in the second term to Josh Kemp running hard, but the shot on goal missed. Was composed coming out of defence.

#10 Harrison Minton-Connell

Kicked two goals on the day and had an impact as that half-forward player. Does not win a heap of the football, but made the most of his opportunities when they came around.

#20 Rhylee West

Calder’s best player for mine, was dominant up forward, booting two goals in the opening term and finishing with three majors. He has a really solid set shot technique, kicking through the ball. His second goal was very impressive, reading the stoppage well, his teammates blocked his opponent and he cleanly grabbed the ball and snapped truly. Worked hard on the inside winning plenty of it, but did his most damaging work up forward. Took a great grab in the final term to kick his third goal, going up for the mark then having to move in mid air to the left and clunk the grab.

#27 Tye Browning

Started opposed to Sam Walsh and won a couple of early touches, laying a terrific run-down tackle on Ned McHenry. He was not as busy after that big opening term, but still was involved, winning some quick handballs around the ground and kicked long when given the opportunity.

#30 Mitch Podhajski

A really consistent four-quarter effort. Did not dominate, but always buzzed around and covered the ground well. He has that huge penetrating kick that can clear zones and worry opposition defenders when kicking inside 50. He stands tall in marking contests, is composed under pressure and is smart up forward. He kicked a goal with a perfectly read ball drop from a marking contest to snap round his body. He also showed good vision and hands in traffic and is the master of that 20m handball to the outside running teammate. Podhajski kicked a second goal late in the final term.

#57 Josh Kemp

Presented throughout the game, but did not end up getting on the board for a goal. Had a few chances, most noticeably in the second term when he took a mark, and his set shot went to the right. Continually pushed up the ground and presented as an option, and can weigh his kicks well.

 

GWV Rebels vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Peter Williams

GWV:

#6 Charlie Wilson

Wilson was productive early, winning his fair share of contested ball and getting his hands on the pill at stoppages. He laid a great tackle on Matt Warren inside forward 50 to lock the ball in and did so again in the second term at half-back on another opponent. Did not end up kicking a goal, but was playing forward when the Rebels forwards were starved for opportunities in the second half.

#14 Jed Hill

Easily the Rebels best plyer on the day, he showed off his electrifying vertical leap, taking some great grabs and earning some attention from Oakleigh defenders. He booted the only two Rebels goals of the first term – one from a courageous mark and then set shot, and a second from a forward stoppage snap off the deck. Had a third chance not long after from a set shot after finding space, but missed that. He took a big mark early in the second term and nailed the set goal, then produced a fantastic run-down tackle at half-forward to force his opponent to kick out on the full. Played further up the ground in the second half, and did come off at one stage after copping a knock in a tackle, but went back onto the field, and even into the middle.

#24 Matty Lloyd

The highest possession winner for the Rebels again, Lloyd constantly spread to the outside looking to create some run from half-back. He would often roost long to the wing, or play on and try and get distance on his kick to break the Oakleigh zone. Had an ambitious shot in the final term from the boundary line near 50m out but could not convert the opportunity.

Oakleigh:

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

Did all his best work on the inside, working hard for his possessions and getting some quick fire handballs out to his running teammates. Showed strength when being tackled, getting his arms free and handballing to teammates. Finished with seven clearances, four of which were centre bounce clearances.

#4 Will Kelly

Played a multitude of roles on smalls and talls, back and forward. He took on Jed Hill and Josh Chatfield early, then moved onto the taller Tylar Watts. In the second half, he moved forward and found space to take an easy mark and convert, and then take a strong contested grab in the goal square and make it two from two. Was composed when at half-back and set them up well.

#8 Noah Anderson

Remarkable that Oakleigh can play Anderson as a pure forward – such is their midfield strength, but he just gets the job done each week, booting three goals and constantly looking damaging. He has great smarts around goal and up the field and is composed by hand or foot.

#9 James Rowbottom

One of Oakleigh’s best, Rowbottom played a typical inside game, working really hard and using his strength to outmuscle his smaller Rebels opponents. Along with Jack Ross and Riley Collier-Dawkins, the trio had their way in the middle, dominating the clearances and he was working well with Bailey Wraith, and kicking long out of stoppages.

#11 Matt Rowell

The bottom-age midfielder was one of the more impressive players across the four quarters, having a big third term and was one of the reasons Oakleigh kicked away in the premiership quarter. He had a standing shot on goal in the quarter but it hit the post. Rowell was strong standing up in a mark in the same term, was spoiled but held his balance to regain the ball and kick long. He has a perfect tackling technique, earning himself a free by locking the arm of an opponent.

#13 Atu Bosenavulagi

One of his best games for the season and was ever present up forward. He missed a couple of gettable chances, but nailed three goals and was good in the air, taking some clean grabs. He is really strong one-on-one and worked hard up the ground.

#17 Trent Bianco

Opposed to Jed Hill early at times, Bianco went more into the midfield in the second half and found the ball with ease, racking up 15 of his 24 touches in the second half. He has a nice penetrating kick and great vision, using the ball well and working in transition to get the ball up the ground.

#22 Dylan Williams

One of the key architects early in the game when it was hot. Set up a number of scoring opportunities, and booted a goal himself. Was quiet in the second half, but was best on in the first term and the reason why Oakleigh held an early lead.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Got amongst it early in the game when the Chargers defence was under pressure at times, used his composure and smarts to take his chances and try and springboard off half-back. He peeled off his opponent and would become a spoiler in the back half, laying a number of good tackles. In the second half, in particular the last quarter, Quaynor did not see much of the action, camped in the defensive 50.

#26 Jake Gasper

A quiet first half with just a couple of shots on goal. The first fell short and Bailey Wraith capitalised, with the second also just missing. The second half, Gasper came alive as Oakleigh controlled the game, taking a number of marks inside 50, and was one of the more influential players. His usual dead-eye goal kicking was not on target on the day, pushing a couple of shots to the left, but set up a goal for Atu Bosenavulagi with an inboard kick and did finish with one major.

#32 Jack Ross

A workman-like performance from Ross who still found plenty of the ball, often looking for the quick handball to a running teammate. He was prominent at the stoppages and just played his role throughout the four quarters. In the second term he kicked a long-range goal from a set shot when he marked after drifting inside 50 all by himself.

#64 James Jordan

The winger showed good hands under pressure and a willingness to take the game on. It did not always work out perfectly, but more often than not he used the ball well, and would opt for the one-two play, or the handball receive and kick inside 50. He was the player that teammates looked for to pinpoint a pass inside 50.

 

Around the Grounds:

Gippsland Power vs. Eastern Ranges

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders – Had 21 disposals, eight inside 50s, six tackles, but missed some opportunities with 1.4.

#5 Xavier Duursma – Had another consistent game with 21 disposals (71 per cent efficiency), five clearances, three inside 50s and two goals to wrap up a really solid top-age season.

#23 Noah Gown – In remarkable form and booted another four goals from 20 disposals and eight marks, just keeps on impressing in the second half of the season.

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton – Recorded a team-high eight clearances from 21 disposals and an impressive eight tackles. The bottom-ager has been strong all year with his defensive pressure and that continued on the weekend.

#23 Xavier Fry – Knows how to break the lines and rebound out of the back half and that is what he did, finishing with seven rebounds to go with his 24 disposals and five marks.

#31 James Blanck – The Ranges big man provided the second most rebounds for his side, finishing with five, as well as 13 disposals and two marks.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Western Jets

Bendigo:

#4 Jye Caldwell – All eyes were on Caldwell as he made his return in Bendigo colours since early in the year, and he did not disappoint with 19 disposals (84 per cent efficiency), four marks and four clearances in a solid performance.

#8 Brodie Kemp – The bottom-age tall put in a promising performance with 21 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds.

Western:

#17 Daly Andrews – Continued his good form of late, named in Western’s best for his 26 disposals, nine marks, six inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, covering the ground well.

#18 Buku Khamis – Solid as a rock in defence, having seven rebounds to go with his 18 disposals and six marks, one player who will be pivotal in determining how deep the Jets go in finals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran – After missing last week due to his school football commitments, the skipper hit back with a big performance, racking up 25 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four clearances, 10 inside 50s and a goal.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights

Murray:

#2 Jordon Butts – The Rookie Me Combine invitee was one of the best on the ground, picking up 21 disposals (66 per cent efficiency), seven marks and six inside 50s, roaming around the ground showing off his athleticism and versatility.

#5 Ely Smith – The ever-consistent midfielder returned from the Victorian Football League (VFL) and had another strong performance, winning 18 disposals, four clearances and five inside 50s, while also capping off the game with a goal. Performs strongly at any level.

#12 Lachlan Ash – The bottom-age rebounder just continues to excite, having five rebounds from 17 disposals and five marks. While all of his possessions were uncontested, he finds space and takes the game on with some eye-catching runs. Kicked a goal too.

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie – A solid game for the National Combine invitee, picking up 15 disposals, four marks (two contested), two clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds, covering the ground well.

#17 Josh D’Intinosante – The exciting forward has added the midfield string to his bow in the second half of the season and just knows how to hurt opposing teams when going inside 50. He had another seven inside-50 entries to go with 18 disposals, five marks and 1.1.

#30 Justin McInerney – Named the Knights’ best on the day, McInerney had arguably his best performance of the year, racking up 24 disposals (83 per cent efficiency), two inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal.

 

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 16

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

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

GEELONG FALCONS v. CALDER CANNONS

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

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

GIPPSLAND POWER v. EASTERN RANGES

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

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

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

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

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

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

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

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

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS

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

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

Scouting notes: Round 15 Metro

AFTER publishing the Country Triple Header notes yesterday, we headed down to Avalon Airport Oval in wet and wild conditions to watch the six Metro sides do battle, and take note of some of the performers that received a combine invitation, represented Vic Metro or played in the Under 17 Futures game last weekend.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights

Western:

By: Peter Williams

#6 Lucas Rocci

The bottom-age forward showed good pressure inside 50 and earned a free kick in the second term for a push in the back. He converted the set shot from 20m out to get a goal to his name. In the third term he won another free, played on, drew a man in and handballed to Darcy Cassar in space. His best piece of play came late in that third term when in the midfield, he drilled a low bullet straight onto the chest of Emerson Jeka. Rocci had another good defensive effort in the final term when he smothered a Lachlan Potter kick from standing the mark, and forced a boundary throw-in.

#10 Steven Kyriazis

Did not win a heap of it, but had a few memorable moments throughout the game. In the second term he weaved his way through traffic and got a kick away to half-forward. He found the big sticks with an opportunistic goal inside forward 50 in the third term, answering the Knights who had all the momentum at the time, and had another chance in the fourth quarter when he gained separation from opponent Ryan Gardner at the stoppage and had a flying shot on goal which hit the post.

#17 Daly Andrews

Not a great day for running players, with the wet ground causing havoc with bouncing and kicking, but Andrews still did his best throughout the four quarters. He created run early and was amongst plenty of action, not always winning possession, but providing support around the stoppages. His kicking at times was hit and miss, but to be fair, so was most given the weather conditions. Laid some really good tackles.

#20 Darcy Cassar

The bottom-ager played his typical role along the wing, running in transition and showed on a couple of occasions he has some super quick first steps out of a stoppage. He used his acceleration to have a shot on goal in the third term, but was dragged down in doing so and the shot fell short. Overall, he showed good strength above his head to handball to teammates while being tackled, and did lower the eyes going inside 50, which was crucial in the conditions. One of, if not the Jets best on the day, because he hurt the opposition offensively and defensively, with some bone-crunching tackles.

#24 Josh Honey

He does not win a heap of the ball, but he has that touch of class about him that catches the eye. Kicked a superb goal in the second term from long range and kept presenting at half-forward and pushing up into the middle, showing desperation in his play, diving to take a mark in the muddy centre circle.

#31 Emerson Jeka

His athleticism is fantastic, he keeps presenting for his midfielders, just needs to finish off when given opportunities. His day got off to a good start in the second term when he won a free for a push in the back against Stefan Uzelac, and converted the set shot from 35m out. He showed shades of the more athletic big men in the competition in the third term, when he cleanly grabbed the ball off the bounce, handballed to a teammate and spun around to receive back and kick inside 50. His set shot in the same quarter sprayed out to the right and out on the full. The talent is there he just needs to finish off his hard work.

#38 Buku Khamis

Khamis just gets to contest after contest and provides a third man up spoil to help out teammates. In the fourth quarter he had a couple of highlights at crunch times credit to his ability to read the play. In one instance he accelerated off half-back, bursting through traffic and gave the handball off, which got his team going. One thing that could have been good to see was for him keep running, receive the handball back and pinpoint a target inside 50 with his fantastic kicking skills. In another instance, he showed his determination to make up for an error by foot, taking a good one-on-one mark, misfiring with the kick, but ran over and laid a strong tackle to win back possession. Overall he was one of the more composed users, and when he has the ball coming off half-back you know he is more often than not going to hit a target, and to keep backing himself to make an impact.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Not his best game, but still put his head over the football and never took a backwards step. Took a courageous mark 45m out in the first term, copping contact in the marking contest, but missed the subsequent set shot. In the second term he went in hard, took on the tackler but was brought down and pinged for holding the ball, so the improvement in that situation is just giving the hands off at the first opportunity with plenty of numbers around. His kicking was iffy on the day, but the weather was horrid, so like many others, it is hard to read too much into it.

Northern:

By: Scott Dougan

#3 Braedyn Gillard

In his first game back from injury, the midfielder was quick to have an impact, gathering some early possessions. He booted the first score for the Knights with a quick snap around the body that just missed. He continued to stay involved, setting up the first goal for the Knights moments later with a clever kick inside to Joel Naylor. Gillard topped off his huge first quarter by kicking the Knights third goal with an opposite foot snap. He proceeded to find plenty of the ball in all areas of the ground in the second term, but was unable to have the same impact in the second half. He finished with 16 disposals and a goal.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa was arguably the most dominant midfielder on the ground, gathering 33 possessions along with five tackles. He worked extremely hard all day, running tirelessly to have an impact offensively and defensively. Carafa was superb on the inside of the contest and constantly won his own ball. He was able to provide some run and carry on the outside at times and his ball use was reliable in windy conditions. One of his most eye-catching passages of play came in the third term when he set up Joel Naylor for his fourth goal, after taking his time to deliver the ball effectively inside 50.

#17 Josh D’Intinosante

The classy forward was as always, electric and classy. He started inside the forward 50 and worked hard to move the ball towards goal every time he could. His defensive pressure and tackling was a standout, laying a team-high seven for the match. ‘JD’ moved into the midfield in the second half and didn’t look out of place. His speed and agility around stoppages was handy, along with his clean hands in tight situations. He finished with 19 disposals and a goal.

#30 Justin McInerney

McInerney started the game quietly but redeemed himself with a positive second term. He laid some important tackles early on and his ball use by foot was good. His speed and agility was on display when providing some good run and carry out of the back half.

 

Eastern Ranges vs. Calder Cannons

Eastern:

By: Scott Dougan

#7 Lachlan Stapleton 

The hard-nosed midfielder continuously put his head over the ball to win first possession for his team. He was fantastic around stoppages, winning plenty of first possessions and clearances. One of his best passages of play came in the second term when he had a running shot on goal from 50 metres that hit the post. Stapleton ran hard all day and applied consistent defensive pressure, laying a team-high nine tackles.

#11 Mitch Mellis

On a difficult day for the Ranges, Mellis was one of their shining lights. He was able to provide some much-needed run on the outside of the contest and his ball use was clean. There’s not much to the 174cm midfielder, but his competitiveness and willingness to put his head over the ball make up for his lack of height and size. He took a strong mark against his opponent in the second term, demonstrating his footy smarts by using his body to win the contest.

#23 Xavier Fry

Fry did he best to create some run and carry out of the defensive 50, with the speedy half-back generating some speed and agility around the contest. He was beaten defensively in a one-on-one contest against Josh Kemp in the first term, which resulted in the Cannons forward having a shot on goal. Fry redeemed himself later on in the term, positioning himself in front of his opponent to allow himself to take a strong intercept mark. Fry’s footy smarts were evident in the second term when he was able to win another one-on-one marking contest against the bigger and stronger body of Mitchell Podhajski. For me, it is the little things about Fry that caught the eye. The rain had fallen at the oval, and when Fry had received a running handball from his teammate, he decided to place the ball on the ground to bounce rather than bouncing the ball normally, showing great football nous. Even though his team were well beaten on the day, he was involved in plenty of passages of play, putting his neat kicking skills to good use.

#31 James Blanck

The first quarter was a touch one for the key defender, often opposed to Cannons forward, Jake Riccardi who booted three goals. Blanck was always going to be faced with the difficult task of handling Riccardi, but was at his best when he was able to take multiple intercept marks after his ability to the read the ball off the opposition boot, showing how good he is in the air. Blanck is a natural defender but moved into the forward line later in the game, and did pretty well. He finished with 14 disposals, four marks and one behind.

Calder:

By: Ed Pascoe

#5 Curtis Taylor

Taylor showed his trademark class around the contest rotating forward and midfield he did his best work through the midfield winning 17 disposals and laying seven tackles showing his hard work. Taylor’s hands at the stoppage where clean with many quality handballs after spreading from the stoppage. Taylor’s best bit of play was an impressive mark in the third quarter and then quickly played on with a nice kick inboard. Taylor did not play in the last quarter, donning the tracksuit due to injury.

#20 Rhylee West 

West made his return to the Calder team in impressive fashion winning 22 disposals while also laying eight tackles. West was his usual self, winning the contested ball at stoppages and tackling hard.  West really impressed in the third quarter with some good pressure and an interesting tackle while he was falling over. West appeared tired in the last quarter but he had done the hard work in the first three quarters to get Calder into a winning position. 

#30 Mitch Podhajski

Mr Consistent Podhajski had another solid game for Calder with 21 disposals, five inside 50s, 10 tackles and a goal in a complete performance. Podhajski was busy around the stoppages in the first half winning plenty of the ball at the coalface and tackling hard. Podhajski had a huge third quarter kicking a fantastic snap goal early on, he copped a knock but came back on to be even more damaging with some bullet passes especially inside 50. Podhajski again staked his claim for the Morrish Medal with a complete performance.  

#57 Josh Kemp

Kemp in his return to the Calder team showed his impressive talent up forward. While only having nine disposals proved a handful up forward for Eastern with his impressive leap and forward craft causing them troubles all game. Kemp’s marking was a real feature taking a few good contested grabs despite his light size with his impressive leap and timing on show. Kemp finished with three goals with two snap goals coming from the first and third quarters. He impressed with his tackling putting on good pressure in what was a complete performance for the medium sized forward. 

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Sandringham Dragons

Oakleigh:

By: Scott Dougan and Ed Pascoe

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

It is hard to judge Collier-Dawkins game, with the possible first round selection spending plenty of time through the midfield and just as much time on the bench. He was able to have an immediate impact when he came onto the ground in the first term, collecting possessions in contested situations. Collier-Dawkins is not the quickest player going around but at 193cm, his quicks hands and acceleration from the contest is top notch. He had the chance to hit the scoreboard in the final term with a running shot at goal but just missed. Like any other player, there is plenty of things that he needs to work on, but there is definitely enough there for recruiters to get excited about.

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

Ayton-Delaney was at his best when he was providing run and carry out of the defensive 50. Similar to Rory Laird, his ball use is exceptional when he has the time and space to hit targets, but when pressure is heavily applied, his ball use and decision-making is rushed. This is one area of Ayton-Delaney’s game that he will be willing to improve on as he develops. In saying that, there were plenty of positive attributes about Ayton-Delaney to get excited about. He finished with 18 disposals (14 kicks).

#4 Will Kelly

The highly anticipated matchup between Ben King and Will Kelly proved to be a little underwhelming. Not because the matchup was one-sided, but because the pair saw a limited amount of the ball. The majority of the game was played in the half that Kelly and King were not featured, making it difficult to find a winner between the two. King was moved forward in the second half and this is when Kelly started to find some space. He was able to take some handy intercept marks as well as finding plenty of possessions across the half-back line. Kelly finished 12 disposals and six marks.

#5 Xavier O’Neill

The hard-running midfielder was able to get involved early on, finding plenty of the ball on the outside of the contest. His ball use was clean and he made smart decisions, especially by hand. He continuously applied defensive pressure on the opposition, laying four tackles. Unlike a lot of junior footballers, O’Neill does the small things well, such as shepherding for his teammates. He finished with 17 disposals and four tackles.

#9 James Rowbottom

Rowbottom showed his trademark attack on the ball through the midfield winning plenty of contested possessions and dishing out cleanly to his teammates on the outside, he finished with 26 disposals and six tackles. Rowbottom had a nice mark in the first quarter but would turn the ball over by foot, his kicking was not perfect early on but he had a very nice pass inside 50 in the third quarter to hit up teammate Will James. Rowbottom’s best passages of play were at the stoppages winning plenty of clearances and he will be wanting to work on his outside game as the year comes to a close.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Quaynor played his usual game in defence doing all the defensive things well like spoiling and attacking the ball when it was there to be won. Quaynor’s best passage of play came in the first quarter where he attacked the ball hard at ground level with a terrific pickup on the run and would kick long inside 50. Quaynor was always willing to work hard to create rebound from defence showing he could play the perfect modern defenders role being able to beat his opponent while also running off with good run and ball use which showed with his three inside 50s from his 17 disposals.

#26 Jake Gasper

Gasper showed exactly why he is one of the better forwards in the TAC Cup with another solid display in front of goal. Gasper finished with two goals both classy set shot finishes coming in the first and last quarters. Gasper was classy with ball in hand throughout the day showing nice vision by hand and some quality kicks to teammates. Gasper got poleaxed in a contest but did well to recover to execute a good quick handball to set up a scoring opportunity, Gasper finished with 16 disposals and six tackles to go with his two goals.

#31 Will Golds

Golds was a constant contributor over the four quarters running hard on the wing and giving good drive inside 50 while also working hard into defence to help out the defenders, Golds topped his side for disposals with 27. Golds was damaging with ball in hand showing good vision with a few handballs and great movement under pressure, Golds also kicked well even hitting a nice opposite foot pass in the third quarter, another great kick inside 50 hit up teammate Jake Gasper in the last quarter which lead to a goal. He managed to hit the scoreboard with a creative kick off the deck sailing through the goals in the first quarter.

#32 Jack Ross

Ross was the standout midfielder throughout the day winning plenty of the ball at the coalface while also working hard around the ground he finished with 25 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s in an impressive display through the midfield. Ross was busy in the first quarter doing everything including some long kicking inside 50 and even some intercept marks. Ross was rewarded late in the game with an impressive running goal that came purely by persistence in the contest, he did the one percenters well like some hard spoils and blocks around stoppages.

#64 James Jordan

Jordan had a great game in defence and grew as the game went on he managed to spoil well while also running off to hit up targets. Jordan showed good movement with ball in hand and was damaging by foot when he got into open space, one such kick in the third quarter was sensational under pressure and on the run. Jordan also took a nice mark in the second quarter and quickly played on showing good initiative, he finished with 15 disposals with 14 of them being kicks.

Sandringham:

By: Peter Williams

#2 Alastair Richards

Buzzed around the outside all day and kept receiving the handballs and giving off, trying to break up the congested play on a wet weather day. He moved through the middle as well and had a chance to goal in the third term, but tugged it left for a behind. Took a good mark on the wing in the fourth term and kicked to a contest down the ground. Ended up as one of the more prominent ball winners on the ground.

#7 Liam Stocker

A brave performance on the inside, with the key midfielder copping knock after knock but getting back up. Oakleigh has so many inside midfielders that crack in, while Stocker would have been missing Bailey Smith in that regard, with team highs of 13 contested possessions and seven clearances. He was the one feeding it out to his teammates and then working hard to get to space and kick long inside 50. He had a long shot on goal from 50m, but his kick just pulled to the left. He burst out of the stoppages on occasions and looked every bit of the well balanced midfielder he is, just looked tired by the end of the game in what would have been a heavy toll on the body given the weather and opposition.

#23 Angus Hanrahan

Found himself in the back half, working hard out of defence and collecting a number of rebounds to try and drive his team forward. He found space where very few could and repelled as best he could, but like many of his teammates, could not get his groove quite firing on the day.

#28 James Rendell

Worked tirelessly in the ruck, with pinch-hitting efforts from various teammates, but Rendell had a great battle with Bailey Wraith, and I would give the points to the Dragons big man. He ran hard to present from kick-ins and along the wing, and took a great intercept mark in the second term, dropping into defence to plug a hole, then provided an option in midfield, taking a strong mark and kicking to half-forward.

#29 Ben King

It was exciting to see him back at TAC Cup level and taking on a familiar foe in Will Kelly – the pair did battle in the APS competition where King booted seven goals. Yesterday, King booted an early major from a great mark leaping into the air and converted the set shot. It looked like it could be a good day for the big man, but with Sandringham choked by an unbelievable defensive midfield and half-back line, the potential top five pick barely saw much of the action. In the third term, he was swung into defence and found more of the football, taking some good marks and using the ball well by foot. Only managed the one goal and a late behind when he went forward in the final term, however he showcased his athleticism.

#74 Harry Reynolds

On debut for the Dragons coming out of school football and he certainly showed he was capable at the level. Took a good intercept mark at half-back in the opening term, kicked forward, ran on and received the handball and kicked long again, but this time it was intercepted. He applied good pressure throughout the game and tried to break the lines, but with Oakleigh’s setups behind the ball and the strength with which they controlled the contest for the four quarters, it was hard to conjure up too much. Very impressive game though, and imagine his metres gained would be good.

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.

The run home: Eastern Ranges

EASTERN Ranges have had a low year after a big one last year, despite going out in the elimination final to Dandenong Stingrays. They have only managed the two wins this season – back-to-back – and sit eleventh overall on the TAC Cup table. They have a couple of tough matches coming up, and look likely to face either Oakleigh Chargers or Western Jets in the Wildcard Round. They have had a good core of contributors this season, and though the midfield has won its fair share of possessions and the defence have found its groove at times, it has been applying scoreboard pressure that has been the issue in 2018.

Wins: 2
Losses: 12
Draws: 0
Position: 11th
Points For: 667 (11th)
Points Against: 1066 (11th)
Percentage: 63
Points: 8

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Calder Cannons – Avalon Airport Oval
R16: vs. Gippsland Power – Morwell Recreation Reserve

National Combine Invitations: [1] James Blanck

State Combine Invitations: [1] Xavier Fry

Rookie Me Combine Invitations: [1] Cody Hirst

After a massive year in 2017 which saw plenty of top-end talent walk into AFL ranks, and Eastern Ranges play in a finals series, 2018 has been a lot about the bottom-age talent coming through. Just the three players received combine invitations this time around, with key defender James Blanck by far the best story – plucked out of local leagues and now looking on the verge of having an AFL career considering at least five AFL clubs have ranked him in their top 50. Xavier Fry‘s speed and Cody Hirst‘s tackling pressure have also caught the eye, albeit with Hirst injured for most of the year. Kye Quirk, Joel Burleigh, Adrian Kalcovski and bottom-ager Mitch Mellis are among the big contributors to Eastern this year, while fellow bottom-agers Lachlan Stapleton and Jamieson Rossiter have also impressed.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Kye Quirk – 344 (2nd overall)
2 – Mitch Mellis – 302 (5th overall)
3 – Joel Burleigh – 287 (9th overall)
4 – Adrian Kalcovski – 276
5 – Ben Cardamone – 194

Marks:

1 – Kye Quirk – 42 (eq. 70th overall)
2 – Mitch Mellis – 37
3 – Joel Burleigh – 33
4 – Adrian Kalcovski – 32
5 – Ben Cardamone – 28

Contested Possessions:

1 – Kye Quirk – 152 (4th overall)
2 – Mitch Mellis – 131
2 – Joel Burleigh – 131
4 – Adrian Kalcovski – 110
5 – Billy McCormack – 84

Tackles:

1 – Joel Burleigh – 105 (2nd overall)
2 – Lachlan Stapleton – 87 (4th overall)
3 – Ben Cardamone – 67
4 – Kye Quirk – 59
5 – Mitch Mellis – 51

Hitouts:

1 – Riley Smith – 211 (3rd overall)
2 – Billy McCormack – 81
3 – Thomas Lockman – 59
4 – Steven Kapahnke – 58
5 – Jas Corless – 46

Clearances:

1 – Kye Quirk – 53 (eq. 10th overall)
1 – Joel Burleigh – 53 (eq 10th overall)
3 – Adrian Kalcovski – 43
4 – Mitch Mellis – 39
5 – Lachlan Stapleton – 34

Inside 50s:

1 – Joel Burleigh – 49 (10th overall)
2 – Mitch Mellis – 40
3 – Kye Quirk – 38
4 – Adrian Kalcovski – 37
5 – Lachlan Stapleton – 28

Rebounds:

1 – Kye Quirk – 48 (3rd overall)
2 – Ben Cardamone – 40 (eq. 8th overall)
3 – Xavier Fry – 39 (eq. 10th overall)
4 – Joel Burleigh – 30
4 – James Blanck – 30
4 – Jarrod Gilbee – 30

Goals:

1 – Jamieson Rossiter – 8 (eq. 45th overall)
2 – Joel Burleigh – 7
3 – Adrian Kalcovski – 6
4 – Bailey White – 5
4 – Kyle Crosby – 5

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 14

IN the last school football affected round of TAC Cup action, some top sides managed to overcome challenges from their opponents to get the four points, while others combated the challenges of high winds.

Sandringham Dragons 9.12 (66) defeated Eastern Ranges 8.8 (56)

By: Scott Dougan

On a cold, blustery day in Box Hill, the second-placed Dragons were first to strike against the Eastern Ranges, with Kyle Yorke converting successfully through the big sticks after taking a strong mark inside 50. Chayce Black responded for the Ranges 10 minutes later after the two teams found it hard to score. James Rendell and Ryan Byrnes impressed early, gathering plenty of possessions around the ground. The tight contest continued throughout the first quarter before Rendell was able to put the Dragons nine points clear at the first break.

The Dragons continued their dominance with the first two goals of the second quarter and increased their lead to 23 points only 15 minutes in. The Ranges weren’t going down without a fight, with Adrian Kalcovski steering through his team’s first of the quarter. Jack Kritopoulos was exciting inside the forward half for the Ranges, bagging two very important goals late in the term, cutting the margin to just three points at the main break. 

The third quarter turned out to be a slugfest, with both teams finding it incredibly difficult to score. Corey Watts was rock-solid down back for the Dragons, taking several intercept marks throughout the quarter. Bottom-ager Mitch Mellis continued to find plenty of the pill around the ground for the Ranges.

The Ranges started the final term in terrific fashion, hitting the front within the first five minutes with goals to James Blanck, Kritopoulos and Devlin Brereton. The Ranges were 13 points up before Oscar McMaster goaled and kept the Dragons within striking range. Nicholas Stamatis put the Dragons ahead in the twentieth minute after a blistering five-minute patch that included two goals. Rendell finished his spectacular day off with a brilliant goal that sealed the match for the Dragons in the final minutes of the game.

 

Dandenong Stingrays 8.19 (67) defeated Northern Knights 8.2 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

A rioting third quarter effort helped ensure Dandenong Stingrays maintained its two-game buffer atop the TAC Cup ladder with a hard-earned win over a gallant Northern Knights outfit at Preston City Oval.

The home side shot out of the blocks kicking against the wind with three straight goals in the opening term, including one to 16 year old prospect Jaden Collins. But the Stingrays kept within reach with a wasteful, but much needed 1.5 to find themselves only seven points down at the first break. Northern managed to get the better of their opponents on the scoreboard once again in the second quarter, albeit against the run of play. Another two majors saw them hold five of the first half’s seven goals, as a late Corey Ellison six-pointer doubled Dandenong’s total of six behinds for the term.

The Stingrays have seldom found themselves behind this season, and the ladder leaders flexed their muscles to pile on six goals in the ever important ‘premiership quarter’, while keeping the Knights scoreless. Forwards Bailey Williams and Finlay Bayne each bagged two goals in the term as the ‘Rays pulled away to a 34-point lead at the final change. With the wind at their backs, Northern kept their opponents goalless and did their best to bridge the gap with two goals from overager Joel Naylor, but it was too little, too late as Dandenong held on for a 17 point victory.

Astonishingly, the Knights won three of the four quarters but were let down by a third term lapse. Bottom-agers Ryan Gardner and Sam Philp were major ball winners for the home side with 27 and 29 respectively, while key defenders Stefan Uzelac (17 disposals, eight marks) and Joel Randall (25 disposals, five marks) were rocks while under enormous pressure.

For the winners, Bayne was prolific forward of centre with 31 disposals, nine marks, eight tackles and 2.2, while Williams chimed in with two majors of his own from 14 disposals and four marks. Midfielders Campbell Hustwaite (26 disposals, 10 tackles) and Sam Fletcher (24 disposals, 14 tackles) were industrious in the clinches, while Lachlan Young was named best afield with his stirring 17 disposals and five contested marks.

 

Gippsland Power 9.6 (60) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 8.7 (55)

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power has locked up a top four spot in this year’s TAC Cup competition with two rounds remaining after defeating Oakleigh Chargers by five points in a thrilling contest at Warrawee Park. The Power jumped the Chargers in blustery conditions early on, booting 3.3 to 1.1 to lead by 14 points in weather that looked like goals would be at a premium. Over the next two quarters, Oakleigh reversed the momentum and seemed to have all the control, with nine scoring shots to one, resulting in five goals on the board for the home team. In fact, Gippsland’s Luke Williams booted the final goal of the third term in the twentieth minute – the first Power score since the opening quarter. The Power came out firing in the final term, booting five goals to two, with the final of those – a Noah Gown set shot from 15m out – handing Gippsland the lead. With the ball down Oakleigh’s end in the dying seconds, Noah Answerth thumped the ball onto the boot and it bounced through from almost 60m out. The only problem? The siren had gone before he had disposed of it, giving Gippsland a vital four points.

Captain Xavier Duursma lead from the front with 29 disposals, seven marks, two clearances, eight inside 50s and four rebounds, while Matthew McGannon collected 21 touches and four marks in a solid contested effort from the overager. Forwards, Noah Gown and Sam Flanders were busy once again, booting two goals each and providing a threat in the air with a combined three contested marks, and 11 all up. Fraser Phillips was one that caught the eye up forward, dominant early and booted a fantastic goal in the opening term, he also had five marks and four inside 50s.

For Oakleigh, bottom-ager Trent Bianco brought his own ball to the footy, racking up 40 disposals, eight marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Matthew Fewings (26 disposals and five marks) and Lucas Westwood (22 disposals, five marks and seven rebounds) were also prominent. Up forward, Daniel Scala booted four goals, while Jake Gasper kicked his regulation two goals while pushing up to the wing throughout the match. Top picks, Riley Collier-Dawkins and Isaac Quaynor had some eye-catching moments, while Sam Harte was also busy.

 

Calder Cannons 14.8 (92) defeated Murray Bushrangers 10.12 (72)

Calder Cannons upset the Murray Bushrangers in Albury, storming home in the final term to record an impressive 20-point victory. In a see-sawing contest, Murray had early chances in the first term but booted six behinds to the Cannons’ one. Calder took control in the second term, piling on 5.5 to 3.1 to head into the main break with an 11-point lead. By the final quarter, the Bushrangers regained the ascendancy and a narrow lead at the break, heading into three quarter time with a three-point advantage. But Calder put the foot down in the final quarter to blitz the home side, with eight goals to four, including three majors to co-captain Mitch Podhajski changing the course of the game.

Podhajski was a clear best on ground with 35 disposals, 10 marks (three contested), seven inside 50s, two rebounds and four goals, leading the Cannons to one of their most impressive victories of the season. Lachlan Sholl (31 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) and Brodie Newman (25 disposals, eight marks and six rebounds) were crucial in defence, while Curtis Taylor bounced back from a quiet week last week to post 21 disposals, four marks, five clearances, three rebounds and a goal. Patrick Mahoney (three goals), Daniel Mott (24 disposals, five clearances and six inside 50s) and Ismail Moussa (24 disposals, eight marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) were others who stood out.

For the Bushrangers, midfield dynamo Ely Smith was again among the big ball winners, amassing 32 disposals (17 contested), five clearances and eight inside 50s, while Dylan Clarke had 23 disposals, six clearances and four inside 50s. Monster forward Hudson Garoni worked hard for 23 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and two goals, while Jye Chalcraft was again impressive with 21 touches, three marks, six clearances and four inside 50s. Lachlan Ash (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) was good in transition, while Will Chandler was electrifying with 14 disposals (100 per cent efficiency), five marks, four inside 50s and four goals.

 

Geelong Falcons 13.16 (94) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 2.1 (13)

Geelong Falcons might not have had the season they were after, but their demolition of the competitive Bendigo Pioneers showed just what they are capable of at full strength. The Falcons put in one of their finest performances of the year, to boot four goals to zero in the first term, and by the main break, had eight majors on the board to Bendigo’s one. Geelong continued their advantage after half-time, booting three goals from eight scoring shots, then holding the Pioneers scoreless for the second quarter in the match, booting 2.3 themselves to win by 81 points.

Co-captains Sam Walsh and Oscar Brownless lead from the front, recording the most disposals in the match. Walsh was terrific with 33 disposals, six marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds, missing two chances on goal. Brownless had 27 disposals, four marks, seven clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, while up forward, Brayden Ham continues to put his hand up with another 20 disposals, 12 marks and five goals to be the dominant force up forward. Ben Morton was important around the clearances, racking up five, while Sam Torpy had five inside 50s and booted a goal.

For the Pioneers, Noah Wheeler was the top disposal winner with 20 touches, as well as six marks and six rebounds playing off half-back, while Jacob Atley was also impressive with three rebounds from 15 disposals and three marks. Daniel Clohesy had a team-high four clearances, while Liam Marciano was one of the more prominent Pioneers with 18 disposals, three marks, two clearances and two inside 50s.

 

Western Jets 11.14 (80) defeated Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels 3.6 (24)

By: Ed Pascoe

The Jets and Rebels were unfortunate to get horrid windy conditions for their game at Williamstown where it was not just the players, but the umpires that copped it too. The boundary umpires had the worst of it, often throwing the ball in to have it almost coming back to them which resulted in numerous back-to-back throw ins which frustrated just about everyone and made the contest a real slog for both teams. It all came down to execution going forward and it was the Jets who took the most of their opportunities. Handballs and kicks rarely hit the target throughout the game but some players still stood out with their intent despite the conditions.

The Rebels did not have many winners throughout the day. Goal sneak Charlie Wilson (11 disposals) was not helped with the conditions and tried his absolute best when it did come inside 50. Down back Scott Carlin (21), Jacob Lohmann (19) and James Cleaver (17) all provided good rebound and bottom age midfielders Cooper Craig-Peters (24) and Ethan Harvey (20) worked hard through the midfield.

The Jets captain Xavier O’Halloran (11 disposals) had a quieter game by his standards but he was helped through the midfield with the likes of Daly Andrews (27) running amuck on the wing and the grunt of Stefan Radovanovic (16), Connor Thar (23), Jack Watkins (23) and bottom ager Darcy Cassar (20). AFL Academy member and Under-18 All Australian Buku Khamis (16) was classy at half-back with his ball use while it was forward Daniel Pantalleresco who was all the rage with his 5 goals with most of them kicked extremely well considering the conditions, he did it all at ground level and in the air and he certainly would have gained the attention of recruiters.