Tag: Lachie Fogarty

VFL weekly wrap: Bombers suffer big first loss

RICHMOND occupies top spot on the Victorian Football League (VFL) ladder following Round 6, as Essendon dropped their first match of the season, while North Melbourne picked up their first win.

Essendon 8.7 (55) defeated by Casey 15.6 (96)

The undefeated Bombers entered their clash with the Demons on a high, with a huge percentage and a win expected against a Casey side who only had one victory. It was the Demons, however, who led from the first bounce to the final siren to take home the four points. The only positive for Essendon was the final term, where they booted five goals to four. Brayden Preuss dominated for the away side with 40 hitouts and two goals while Tim Smith slammed home four, and Mitch White three. Dylan Clarke was best for the Bombers with 28 disposals.

Port Melbourne 16.9 (105) defeated Werribee 14.5 (89)

The Borough continued their winning streak with a win over the Tigers at home. Port lead by as much as 50 points halfway through the second term, but Werribee did well to turn the contest into a competitive one despite ultimately going down. Tom Gribble had 27 disposals while Harvey Hooper notched up 25 and a goal. Campbell Walker and Matthew Munro kicked three goals each, as Blake Pearson slotted four.

Box Hill 12.12 (84) drew Foostcray 12.12 (84)

The lead for either side never extended beyond three goals as the Hawks and Bulldogs recorded the first draw of the season at the MCG. Dropped former Hawthorn captain Jarryd Roughead excelled, kicking five goals, and famously coaching Bulldog Reuben William on-field. Tory Dickson and Kyle Dunkley kicked three each for the Dogs. Bailey Williams continued his push for an AFL berth with 31 disposals.

Collingwood 8.7 (56) defeated by Sandringham 7.14 (56)

Sandringham crawled over the line at Victoria Park to defeat the Magpies. While the margin was never more than 19 points, the Zebras led all day until three early final quarter goals put Collingwood in front by 5 points. Sandy then got six consecutive points through a combination of rushed behinds and inaccurate kicking to register the victory. Alex Woodward did what he does with 39 disposals, while Hunter Clark had the second most touches on the ground with 28. Travis Varcoe and Sam Rowe each kicked two goals.

Frankston 7.8 (50) defeated by Richmond 19.10 (124)

Frankston remains the only team in the VFL without a win after their loss to Richmond at home. The Dolphins started brightly, leading early in the first term, but the class of the Tigers prevailed. Patty Naish kicked four goals and had 29 disposals as Mabior Chol slotted three goals. Mav Weller had 27 touches while Josh Newman was immense for the Dolphins once again, with 25 disposals and a goal.

North Melbourne 17.11 (113) defeated Geelong 14.9 (93)

North Melbourne put together a superb final quarter to overrun Geelong and record their first win of the season. While the Cats led at every break, North had the lead at one stage of every term, and finally unleashed in the last, kicking 6 goals to 2. Aaron Hall responded to his VFL demotion with 29 disposals and two goals while Lachie Fogarty was impressive for the Cats with 27 disposals and a goal. Nathan Hrovat was the star of the show however, booting six goals, including the one that gave the Kangaroos the lead in the final quarter.

Bye – Coburg, Williamstown, Northern Blues

Pic: VFL.com.au

Keeping Tabs: Standout performers from Round 11

IN Round 11 there were plenty of standout performers from the 2017 draft crop, with mature agers leading the way with some impressive performances.

Tim Kelly

Again, Kelly’s form stayed true. The Western Australian lad injected plenty of class to aid Geelong in their 85-point smashing over the Suns. With a 79 per cent disposal efficiency, Kelly picked up 24 possessions, with 11 contested. His work through linkups saw him with plenty contribution to the board, racking up 10 score involvements to compliment his two goals. If we weren’t here reminding you, nobody would believe this kid to be a first-year player. With the numbers he puts on the stat sheet, Kelly is holding himself up there with the more seasoned players on his team. To round out his performance, he saw an extra five clearances, four tackles and three inside 50s. This Cat is going to be in some important conversations in the coming years if he continues to play like this.

Bayley Fritsch

Fritsch put on a bit of a clinic for spectators on the weekend. His efforts on the ground ought to fill Melbourne fans with confidence since they re-signed him in late May. At an 89 per cent disposal efficiency, the Demon tallied up a strong 26 possessions, with eight contested. A goal and six score involvements sealed his spot as one of their top performers, Fritsch’s forward pressure burning through the Bulldog’s defence. Add two more clearances, four tackles and seven rebound 50s and you’ve got a future star in the making. Fritsch’s development in this supreme offensive side should shape him into a danger for backman in these coming years. Be prepared.

Brody Mihocek

Coming straight from the Rookie Draft last year, Mihocek demonstrated what his years at Port Melbourne have offered his new club. With a 100 percent efficiency on the ball, the tall unit took home 12 disposals, nine contested. Mihocek not only kicked his first goal for his career but picked up three more to follow. His experience only adding to the Magpie’s crafty offensive.  In all, the Port Melbourne son finished with seven score involvements, 11 pressure acts, two tackles and three one percenters. The highlight for this man’s day came through perfectly efficient football and I’m excited to see what Round 12 brings.

Cam Rayner

The number one draft pick showed off some of the missed aspects of his football in the Lions loss to North Melbourne on the weekend. Gathering much of his ball through the midfield, Rayner blew up the stat sheet. He had seven score involvements, five clearances, five inside 50s and seven tackles and displayed composure breaking out of congestion, planting the ball in front of his forwards.  His 22 pressure acts certainly made the Kangaroos earn their victory. The youngster finished the game with 21 possessions, eight contested at a 76 per cent disposal efficiency. Rayner barred some dynamic football, unafraid to take on the game is other areas.

Lachie Fogarty

Fogarty has been a little hit and miss so far throughout the season, so it’s a pleasure to be able to put him on this list again.  The Cats forward was unlucky on the board, missing his shot on goal, but regrouped, making plenty of impact with eight score involvements. Fogarty finished with a 77 per cent disposal efficiency and 17 possessions in Geelong’s 85-point victory against the Gold Coast Suns. The young forward spent much of the four quarters along the forward 50, laying both his tackles inside and picking up two one percenters. The work Geelong has put into developing their youth is shown greatly through stars like this.

Zac Bailey

Bailey played integral football in his side’s loss against the Kangaroos. A 14-possession game at a 79 per cent disposal efficiency demonstrated the young lion’s class despite their thrashing. Bailey put through a goal at the end of the second, branding four score involvements for the day. He laid three tackles, with 23 pressure acts and four intercept possessions. Bailey, above all else, should be praised for his determination in the face of a stronger side. I would be curious to see his stats if his team had a better day out on the field.

Hunter Clark

Clark’s numbers on the stat sheets stood up in areas unique to what we’ve caught so far. Plenty of his 17 possessions were taken in the midfield, 11 of which were contested. His disposal efficiency came up a little short at 59 percent, but Clark more than made up for it with his pressure on the game. In total, the young Saint laid six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s. He was unfortunate in coughing up five turnovers but stepped up to the midfield challenge well. Clark worked hard to re-cement himself into the side, and should be left to develop there if he works the game like he is.

Bailey Banfield

The high pressure forward stepped up in their loss to the Magpies. Kicking one and missing the other, Banfield saw plenty of contribution to the board with his six score involvements. He put in heaps of work to keep the ball in their forward 50. A 15-possession game with seven contested, closed his game off at a 73 per cent disposal efficiency. Five huge tackles, two clearances and two one percenters showed off the Dockers’ extra efforts in keeping his team above water.

Darcy Fogarty

In the biggest rollercoaster match of the round, Fogarty found his season beginning form, putting in the work on and off the play.  The Crow had plenty of impact in the side’s 16-point loss to the Giants with  11 possessions, five contested at an 82 per cent disposal efficiency. The youngster had three inside 50s, two tackles and an impressive four one percenters. He was unfortunate in turnovers and free kicks, giving away five and three, but could be forgiven given the intensity of the game. Hopefully Fogarty’s able to lift leading further into the season and we can see some of Adelaide’s 2017 form.

Paddy Dow

In a strong first half against the Swans, the Blues young prodigy took on plenty of the play. Dow put through his second goal for the season and continued to pick up another handful of clearances. He sat one per cent below his season average 63 per cent disposal efficiency, collecting 13 for the day with seven contested. His work rate was high around the loose ball and his skill work continues to be quite polished. He may need to take time to adjust his tempo to suit the flow of play, as well as picking his passes a little better. As usual, his day on the ground finished off well-rounded as he continued to go hard at everything. Some further three score involvements and three tackles top off Dow’s game and sum up his efforts appropriately.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 5

ROUND FIVE was huge for the first year players, with plenty stepping up to earn a spot on this weekly list. Most of the names here have been seen before, but we give credit when it is due. We’re hoping to see some fresh faces in the coming rounds and for the players below to ramp up their game more and more with every passing round. There are still plenty of rounds left so there’s no telling what could come next.

Tim Kelly

Kelly played some outstanding football against the Power over the weekend. In all he picked up 20 disposals, of which half were contested with an 80 per cent efficiency. He displayed 27 pressure acts, laid five tackles, kicked a goal, had four clearances and three score involvements. Kelly is a well-rounded player and has demonstrated countless times that he can do plenty to help his side. He has also kicked at least one goal a game since the start of the season showing his reliability and consistency thus far.

Adam Cerra

Cerra is well on his way to becoming a fan favourite at Optus Stadium. He has shown some incredible promise on game day, with the Bulldogs clash being no different. Cerra snagged himself 15 disposals (four contested) at an 87 percent efficiency. He also went on to kick two goals with eight total score involvements. Cerra is smooth around the football with incredible composure at the elite level. He works hard around the contests, illustrated through his impressive 24 pressure acts and four tackles (two inside 50s). This medium forward is being developed by the right team it seems with impressive first years all throughout the side.

Jaidyn Stephenson

His efficiency could use some work, but he is getting his opportunities and making most of them count. Capping off his game with 15 disposals, four contested and two goals, Stephenson went hard in the ANZAC match. He picks his spots and moments well, and capitalises well off errors. He had 19 disposals and four tackles for the game in all. He is continuing to make his mark as a forward for Collingwood and is doing so with an intense attack on the game.

Mitch Crowden

Fremantle’s first years have been dominating the competition so far. Along with his fellow draftees, Crowden is playing very efficient football. With 17 disposals at an 88 per cent efficiency, Crowden is continuing to perform at a high standard. His presence throughout the ground is clear, laying five tackles, 21 pressure acts and having nine score involvements. Developing alongside the likes of Cerra and Brayshaw, Crowden is likely to become part of the next biggest elite midfield for the AFL.

Nick Coffield

Once again, Coffield showed off his patented smooth, clean football. With excellent composure on and around the ball, Coffield is providing some much-needed efficiency around the midfield. In total, he finished with 18 disposals at an 83 per cent efficiency, with five score involvements. He is working hard to earn his spot within the side and it shows on the field. Hopefully his efforts remain at this level for a long time.

Andrew Brayshaw

A fair game for Brayshaw with 17 disposals, four contested at a 71 percent efficiency. The number two pick in the 2017 National AFL Draft is slowly evolving to suit the elite level. He performed well off and on the ball, laying five tackles, 17 pressure acts with three score involvements. Brayshaw needs to polish up his footy in some areas as shown through his five turnovers. However, if he continues to work, he is well on his way to one day dominating the game.

Lachie Fogarty

Geelong’s new recruits are hard to separate from the rest of their side due to their elite performances. In their match against Port, Fogarty had an excellent run of it. While 17 disposals with nine contested is a decent stat, it’s Fogarty’s ten tackles that really caught my eye, all of which were completed without giving away a free. He also slotted away a goal and had five score involvements. Fogarty is developing well with Geelong and should be watched closely in the coming years.

Matt Guelfi

After a stellar debut in round four, Guelfi managed earn a spot in the side for the Anzac Day match in just his second game. A surprise prospect for Essendon, Guelfi has shown no issue adapting to the elite level. A 15-disposal game at 87 per cent efficiency made him a highlight for a struggling Bombers. He had an impressive four intercept possessions as well as 20 pressure acts. With a better Essendon side, it is likely his performance will only improve.

Paddy Dow

Dow attacked the football hard over the weekend, racking up 15 disposals (11 contested) with an 80 per cent efficiency. He is a highlight for Carlton, and it is good to see his efforts still high despite a slow start to the season. Dow is fierce around the contests, with an impressive seven clearances on the weekend, only second to Patrick Cripps (eight). He laid three tackles and had five score involvements. Dow is a confident footballer who knows how to back himself. Hopefully we continue to see his level of football continue to rise in the coming years.

Lochie O’Brien

O’Brien showed some great promise in his second game in the navy blue. The number 10 draft pick played some efficient football, running at 73 per cent efficiency  from his 15 disposals (six contested). He had a few good midfield clearances, laid three tackles and earned plenty of the ball off Carlton’s flanks. With his athletic background, O’Brien should be fine to earn more of the football in the coming games.

Cam Rayner

Despite his efficiency in goal kicking, the number one pick again showed great attack on the ball in the forward half. Kicking one goal and two behinds, Rayner earned a handful of opportunities to score big, but continues to fail on the execution. He is a standout for the Lions and is slowly developing a unique brand of football. He is hungry around the ball as demonstrated through six contested possessions out of a total of 11. He needs to improve his efficiency further, but it can be explained through his high number of contested possesions.

Keeping Tabs: Standout draftees from Round 3

With now a game or two under their belts, the first-year players are starting to find their groove. Some have certainly been more consistent over the weeks than others, but this week a few new names stood up to earn their spot. This week we looked at the best performing players from last years’ draft and which of your players you should keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

Liam Ryan

The Geelong and West Coast clash was a game for the first-year players as Liam Ryan proved. The young man dominated the West Coast offensive, picking up three goals in only his third game. He also took home 12 disposals – five contested – three tackles and three intercept possessions, all with a 75 per cent efficiency. His smart play allowed him to be tied the leading goal kicker (Mark LeCras) for his team. Provided he keeps up his efforts, Ryan will have a big future with the Eagles.

Tim Kelly

Once again, Kelly performed like a seasoned player for Geelong, picking up 19 disposals and 10 contested possessions. Despite being his lowest game numbers-wise so far, Kelly still exceeded expectations. In his first year, he is already holding his own against some of the AFL’s most elite athletes and is on his way to cementing a spot in the starting 18. He kicked an impressive goal in the fourth quarter to further Geelong’s lead, but unluckily for him, West Coast finished on top. Kelly has a big year ahead of him if he keeps playing at this level.

Mitchell Crowden

Crowden had the difficult matchup in Steven May, but did not let that lessen his performance. Taken with pick 59 in last year’s AFL National Draft, Crowden has so far smashed expectations. With 13 disposals, five contested, a goal and a 92 per cent efficiency against the Suns, the kid from South Australia dominated in his second game. He also boasted seven score involvements and two goal assists. Fremantle have developed their first years well, and it definitely shows in Crowden.

Nick Coffield

St. Kilda showcased their number eight pick from the AFL National Draft, Nick Coffield, against Adelaide in Round 3. Coffield played some impressive football in his first game. He made great decisions with the ball in hand, and did not rush his disposals. By half-time, Coffield had 12 disposals, one contested possession, a goal and an outstanding 100 percent disposal efficiency. He was a highlight for the Saints despite the resulting loss. In the end, Coffield picked up 18 disposals and three contested possessions to close the game, and his efficiency finished on 89 per cent. We saw plenty of smart football from this young man, and an eagerness to prove himself. If he takes the rest of his football this way, we might see some remarkable things from Coffield.

Ed Richards

In his first win for the Bulldogs, Richards had his fair share of the ball. With 17 disposals, two contested possessions, and a 71 per cent efficiency, Richards more than played his part to take home the win. The second gamer showed a lot fight around the football, taking on his man and laying five strong tackles. Richards showed poise and control around the pill, and with a few more games under his belt, could become a powerful defensive presence for the Dogs.

Aaron Naughton

Again, Naughton had the challenging task of playing on an elite opponent. Matched up on Joe Daniher, Naughton easily held his own and kept Essendon’s key forward off his game. He went onto collect 15 disposals, six contested possessions and finished with 87 per cent disposal efficiency. Many of the Bulldogs’ players showed a better read on Essendon’s movement better than they could, and Naughton was no exception, racking up eight intercept possessions.

Cameron Rayner

Brisbane’s number one pick played some efficient football in Saturday’s clash against Port Adelaide. Rayner dramatically picked up his game from last week’s four disposals with a 50 per cent efficiency. He bumped up it all up to take home nine important disposals – four contested – with an 89 per cent efficiency. He took a great contested grab going back with the flight of the ball which also snagged him a goal. He laid four tackles and had three inside 50s. Brisbane has faced some well performing teams thus far which may be forcing Rayner to push his game even further. With a few more matches, Rayner should fulfil his role even more with the Lions.

Lachie Fogarty

If there is one thing Geelong has proved they can do this year, that’s develop young players. Fogarty played some decent football in a tough match against West Coast. His efficiency was not as high as it can be, but he got half the job right. Fogarty will need to work on finishing properly if he’s to become a top tier player. The medium forward picked up 14 disposals, three contested possessions and a goal. He had five goes at scoring but only kicked the one goal. If he sharpens up in the matches to come, those behinds could easily become goals.

Bailey Banfield

There must have been something in the water at the Optus Stadium because Banfield was one of three first year Fremantle players to cap his game off with over a 90 per cent efficiency. Banfield had 11 disposals – six contested – four tackles and a 91 per cent efficiency. He played some dominant football, and his clean plays were a big reason Fremantle came out on top.

Adam Cerra

Cerra played some efficient football in his second game against the Suns. The young man finished his game with an impressive 90 per cent efficiency from 10 disposals. He played smart football and made lots of clever decisions, but was quiet around the contested ball. Cerra is developing into a fine player along with all of Fremantle’s first year players, but will need to show he can get his own ball going forward.

Paddy Dow

The dynamic midfielder got to experience his first rivalry clash against Collingwood in Round 3. He got a decent amount of touches, taking home 15 disposals – six contested – with 67 per cent efficiency. Dow is slowly coming into his own, laying two tackles, three intercept possessions, and four score involvements. He is yet to have his big game yet but his efforts need to be noted nonetheless.

Keeping tabs: Standout draftees from Round 1

ROUND one of the AFL kicked-off and with it came some familiar faces making the step up from the TAC Cup and National Under 18 Championships up into the big time. Fans got the opportunity to see how some of the new boys picked up during the off season fit in with their beloved clubs. There were some outstanding performances by the debutantes. These players adjusted well to the elite level and we got the chance to see how they might fair for the rest of the season. In what will become a weekly feature, Keeping tabs will track the progress of draftees and name the top performers from the weekend.

Bayley Fritsch

Fritsch opened Melbourne’s scoring with his first goal. It started the Demons off toward a fierce forward attack, and in the end, they came close to taking the win. The 21 year-old did not have much of the football after Geelong got tighter on the ball but he laid five important tackles and earned himself four contested possessions. His efficiency was a little under par but with some time he should see some improvements and develop some consistency.

Cam Rayner
The number one pick for the 2017 National Draft pulled on the boots for Brisbane on Saturday as they took on St Kilda at Etihad Stadium. He spent most of his time in the forward line, earning himself four contested possessions and a brilliantly crumbed goal. Running around in Jonathan Brown’s old jumper, Rayner did not shy away from the ball and attacked every play with ruthless intensity. He crashed the packs and demonstrated his potential as a key forward player. With some adjusting, Rayner should only become more damaging as a player as the season progresses.

Jaidyn Stephenson
Stephenson played some outstanding footy against Hawthorn on Saturday night. Looking comfortable at the elite level, Stephenson finished the game with 16 disposals and five contested possessions. His passing was clean and he did not shy away from taking on his man. He laid an impressive tackle along his forward 50 and smothered the ball off the kick after it spilled out. He was a highlight for Collingwood and was unfortunate not to top it off with a win.

Hunter Clark
Clark marched out with the Saints to take on the Lions in his first ever AFL match. He began the game a little shy around the ball, but was smooth enough with it when it found his hands. He positioned himself well around plays and demonstrated a few effective hand-passes to get the Saints out of congestion. With sharp kicking, Hunter was consistent in hitting his man, and even picked himself up his first goal for his career. He had a total of 12 disposals with a 75 percent efficiency. In time, Clark could see himself developing his slick brand of footy with the Saints and cement his spot in their best 22.

Darcy Fogarty
Fogarty came out the gate galloping with Crows in his first three appearances. He kicked one goal in his first JLT game against the Dockers, and three in his second against Port. He kept this intensity alive going into Round One against Essendon, kicking two goals in his first  AFL match. With only the six disposals, Fogarty managed to inflict some damage on the Bombers. He went hard at the ball and put pressure on his opposition. Fogarty is a forward in the making, and if he keeps up this level of football, could see himself take home the serious awards during his AFL career.

Lachie Fogarty
Fogarty’s effort may have been a bit overshadowed by the return of Gary Ablett, but Geelong’s young guns produced some enormous efforts. Fogarty capped his game off with 20 disposals and 10 contested possessions. He had a 70 per cent disposal efficiency, four intercept possessions and kicked a goal. At pick 22 in the 2017 AFL National Draft, Fogarty played a far more damaging role for his side than other clubs may have anticipated. He was a decent utility throughout the game for Geelong and has the potential to go far in his career if he uses the Cats’ current midfield group as the standard he needs to reach.

Tim Kelly
Another first gamer for Geelong, Kelly smashed expectations with his first game. The South Australian applied some good pressure, hit his man, kicked his first goal and ended the game with a brilliant 27 disposals. He was a star for Geelong as seen through his 70 per cent efficiency. He adapted well to match their elite level of football and earned himself an outstanding 13 contested possessions, only second to Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver. This young man was outstanding overall, and played like a seasoned AFL player.

Andrew Brayshaw
The number two draft selection had a solid outing in his debut game, racking up 12 disposals for Fremantle in the Dockers’ heavy loss to Port Adelaide. Brayshaw had four kicks and eight handballs, along with two clearances, running at 75 per cent disposal efficiency. Throw in three marks and two tackles from 66 per cent time on ground, Brayshaw made the most of his time on the big stage.

Looking Ahead TAC Cup Round 4

Bendigo Pioneers (10th, 1-2) vs. Oakleigh Chargers (4th, 2-1)

Both Bendigo and Oakleigh contain some of their top-end talent despite the likes of Lochie O’Brien, Paddy Dow and Jarrod Brander missing due to school football for the Pioneers. The Pioneers’ strength in my opinion lies across the half-back line with all those players – Kane Farrell, Keelin Betson and Darby Henderson pushing up into the midfield as well. Their midfield holds up well, but their medium talls often have to play key position roles, with the likes of Bailey Henderson and Daine Grace both showing signs despite some inconsistencies at times this season.

I think the Pioneers might struggle with height as they have so far this season with Toby Wooller the one to watch up forward for the Chargers. Jack Higgins and Louis Cunningham will provide run through the middle and the likes of Callum Searle and Riley Jones holding up the defensive end. Oakleigh rebounded from a loss to Sandringham in the first round to post two victories and I think they will record one here.

The Chargers win more of the football, dominate the contested possession and lead the Pioneers across most statistical categories. Bendigo’s rebounding has been fairly good this season, as has their disposal by hand, not so much by foot. Bendigo is not the Bendigo of past years and will put up a real fight and at full strength I think the Pioneers would have them. But looking at the teams on paper, Oakleigh is my tip for this game.

Players to watch:

Bendigo: Darby Henderson: 27 disposals (11 contested), four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s, 91 DT points

Oakleigh: Jack Higgins: 30 disposals (14 contested), eight marks, five tackles, three clearances 127 DT points


Dandenong Stingrays (6th, 2-1) vs. Sandringham Dragons (2nd, 3-0)

Since the start of the season I have tipped Dandenong Stingrays for the flag and am not one to jump off the bandwagon. The return of Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning will aid the Stingrays at Frankston Oval, with Sandringham literally unrecognisable from the previous week with a whopping 15 changes – welcome back school football.

Dandenong’s top-end talent and ability to rebound will be too much for Sandringham and hand the Dragons their first loss. Mason De Wit and Bailey Morrish are two of the unlucky ones not to be drafted this season and both Clark and De Koning will be important in the Stingrays’ push going forward. I think they will miss Ali Zijai who has been one of the Stingrays’ best this season, however I’ll look forward to seeing bottom-ager Tom Hogan strut his stuff again after impressing in glimpses. Whether he will fit in the forward line with De Koning and Riley D’Arcy is yet to be seen, but he may end up sharing the ruck duties with Bailey Williams and Tom Roberts.

For the Dragons, Hamish Brayshaw and Quintin Montanaro are a couple of midfielders that will try and maintain continuity in the side, while Hayden McLean will be a tough ask to shut down for the opposition defence, with Will Walker and Max Lohan another couple to keep an eye on in this match.

The Dragons have used the ball well on the outside and have subsequently had low contested ball numbers. They play a high-skilled outside brand of football and the Stingrays would be aiming to try and force them to play more inside in order to counteract their possession play. I think the Stingrays will be too strong and the Dragons will need a few weeks to get used to their mass changes.

Players to watch:

Dandenong: Mason De Wit: 18 disposals, five marks, six rebounds, 77 per cent kicking efficiency, 63 DT points

Sandringham: Quintin Montanaro: 19 disposals, seven marks, six handball receives, 73 per cent kicking efficiency, 71 DT points


Eastern Ranges (7th, 1-2) vs. Geelong Falcons (1st, 3-0)

This match will be the match of the round in my opinion with a number of top-end talents returning to the teams. It will be the spectators’ loss that Adam Cerra will not take the field, but with Sam Hayes and Jaidyn Stephenson running around, there will still be plenty of excitement for the Ranges. Harrison Nolan is a key defender who will no doubt be on AFL clubs radars, while Eastern’s midfield is as good as anyone’s, but I think Geelong have them covered in this game.

James Worpel returns, he joins Cassidy Parish on the inside and that is the best 1-2 inside combination in the league, while Harry Benson, Oscar Brownless and Matthew Ling provide the Falcons with an embarrassment of riches. David Handley will be looking to continue his strong early season form while Tom McCartin is moving forward to follow in brother Paddy’s footsteps. Throw in Ethan Floyd, Gryan Miers and Hayden Elliot and it’s no wonder why this side is undefeated at the top of the table.

I think Geelong will remain at the top of the table after overcoming Eastern in this game. They lead them in most categories except hitouts – which they know they will lose due to height – and then clearances and contested possessions – both of which will change given Worpel is back in and Cerra is out for the Ranges. With the Falcons having a superior kicking efficiency as well, I think the will get the job done here.

Players to watch:

Eastern: Jaidyn Stephenson: 15 disposals (10 contested), six marks (two contested), four inside 50s, eight goals, 96 DT points

Geelong: James Worpel: 19 disposals (nine contested), six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, 72 DT points


Western Jets (9th, 1-2) vs. Gippsland Power (8th, 1-2)

It is fair to say these sides have not had the start they would have liked, but after seeing Gippsland live last week, I feel they are better than their results are showing. Aidan Quigley returns this week which is a boost, and the Power has a good balance of talls and smalls around the ground. Will Stephenson just steps up when needed, while Nick Hogan, Callum Porter and Austin Hodge always provide effort over four quarters. Sean Masterson was good at full-forward last week but has been named at full-back to tackle Tristan Xerri this week. I do like him more as a forward, but we will see how that pans out.

For the Jets, they seemed lost without their two stars in Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty. Those two jets – pardon the pun – are the lynchpin of the side and allow others to run on the outside. Xerri is raw but marks the ball at the highest point, while Judah Dundon and Nicholas Stuhldreier will always work hard. Both sides are pretty even across the board, but with Gippsland ahead on both the inside and outside they will have the slight advantage. However their footskills let them down while the Jets have been comparatively good by hand or foot and with good clearance ability, the Jets will always give their forwards first use.

The ability to put out a consistent team each week works in Gippsland’s favour and based on seeing these teams last week, I will be putting my tip the way of the Power who surprised me and I think they will continue this week.

Players to watch:

Western: Nicholas Stuhldreier: 19 disposals (seven contested), four marks, four tackles, four inside 50s, 79 DT points

Gippsland: Nick Hogan: 21 disposals (12 contested), five clearances, five inside 50s, three tackles, 75 DT points


Northern Knights (5th, 2-1) vs. Murray Bushrangers (3rd, 2-1)

In the first of the Sunday games at RAMS Arena, Northern Knights and Murray Bushrangers will be fighting for a top four spot. The Knights have a really strong midfield led by Nick Coffield, Patrick Naish, Marcus Lentini and Jack Petruccelle. The emergence of Max Dreher further this season has allowed Naish to play further up the ground, with Dreher and Ethan Penrith also able to drift through that midfield. Joel Grace booted six goals in their last match so no doubt he will be tightly watched by the Bushrangers defence.

For Murray, they always put out a really competitive team and with a half-back line of Doulton Langlands, Alex Paech and Ben Paton, expect there to be no shortage of drive and rebounding out of the Bushrangers defence. Both teams’ half-back lines are strong and Murray have a number of players that have shown signs including Isaac Wallace, Will Donaghey and Angus Hicks, while Nick Richards will be keen to bounce back from a quieter round three match following two strong performances in the first fortnight.

The Bushrangers’ strengths lie in their foot skills compared to the Knights and their ability to control possession. They do struggle a little on the inside compared to past years, but provide plenty of pressure to the opposition. The Knights have been good around the stoppages and equally frenetic without the ball and I think they will get the job done here. Northern is my tip.

Players to watch:

Northern: Max Dreher: 24 disposals (12 contested), five marks, five tackles, five clearances, three rebounds, 91 DT points

Murray: Ben Paton: 25 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, 98 DT points


Calder Cannons (12th 0-3) vs. GWV Rebels (11th, 0-3)

Two of the smallest teams in the TAC Cup will do battle in the final game of the round with avoiding going winless after four rounds the carrot dangled in front of them. What makes this game more interesting than an 11th versus 12th clash is the fact that both have similar strengths and weaknesses. Both midfields are really solid, with Calder’s Jean-Luc Velissaris, Brad Bernacki and Ben Caluzzi facing Aiden Domic, Cal Wellings and Thomas Berry. I think the Rebels’ midfield bats a little deeper, but Calder does have the better talls. Keep an eye out for Scott Carlin who is skilful by foot and will be one to watch for next season, while Cannons excitement machine Jesse Firebrace is small but packs a punch.

Noah Balta is the star of the show and will be a high draft pick, but he has his work cut out for him against Lloyd Meek who has been one of the in-form ruckmen of the competition. Mitch Podhajski will look to use his “height” of 190cm to lead the Calder defence, while the Rebels will hope that their speed will counteract the Cannons’ height up the other end. It is almost scary to think 200cm Daniel Hanna could line-up on 188cm Jackson Taurau.

I think this match will come down to match conditions. I think in patches the Rebels have shown some signs, but so has Calder. The problem with both these teams is they tend to drift off for a quarter and the opposition boots a bag of goals and it hurts. Given I am very much on the fence I will turn to the stats where the Rebels have been superior by foot, in the hit-outs, clearances and inside 50s. Calder has been much better rebounding, but with the Rebels ahead in more areas, I will select them without a great deal of confidence either way.

Players to watch:

Calder: Jean-Luc Velissaris: 17 disposals (eight contested), four marks, six inside 50s, five tackles, 84 DT points

GWV: Callan Wellings: 28 disposals (15 contested), seven marks, eight clearances, eight tackles, five rebounds, 123 DT points

Stats Central: Damaging duo omissions cause headaches

THERE are plenty of valuable players at TAC Cup level to their teams, but on the inside, few would be more sorely missed than Western Jets stars Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty.

They are creating talk around draft circles as likely first round picks – if not in the top 10 potentially, but while they were strutting their stuff on the MCG a fortnight ago in the AIS Academy match, the Jets were coming off a big loss to the Sandringham Dragons the day before.

On that day, the Dragons had 81 more effective kicks (66 above their average), 147 more disposals (117 above their average), 71 more marks (80 marks above their average) and 134 more uncontested possessions (94 above their average).

For the Western Jets, they only had one more uncontested possession than contested possession – the lowest of any game this season, and took just 31 marks for the match, with 230 disposals. They still managed 12 scoring shots for 5.7 despite their inside 50s dipping to 40 (after 49 and 54 in the first two rounds). But why the sudden drop off?

With Fogarty and Rayner out, the Jets had to make do and the rest of their midfield had to play more inside, losing their outside ball winners. Rayner had 29 contested possessions in the opening two rounds, while Fogarty had 24. That’s a combined 53 contested possessions of the Jets’ 293 in the first two rounds, or 18 per cent. Fogarty also had 23 inside 50s in the first two rounds – the most of any TAC Cup player.

So when the coaching staff were forced to cross their names off the whiteboard, who had to step up? Nicholas Stuhldreier. But did that change his role? You bet it did. IN the opening two rounds he had 10 contested disposals and 26 uncontested disposals, just 27.78 per cent contested. But with Rayner and Fogarty gone, Stuhldreier – who ended up being the Jets’ best in the loss – stepped up and went at 50 per cent contested. But in doing so, the Jets lost more outside ball winning capability. The other two to step up were Connor Thar – who missed the round two win over Calder – and in for his first game of 2017, Jack Noonan, who both registered double figure contested possessions.

So in looking at this analysis, the Jets have had to proverbially rob Peter to pay Paul and while they were able to match it with the Dragons on contested ball comparatively (down 18), they were blown away on the outside. This is certainly not aimed to expose the Jets, but more a look at what TAC Cup coaches have to deal with given the changes that occur on a regular basis. I have no doubt it is something that Torin Baker and his staff will be looking at ahead of their round four clash with Gippsland Power this weekend and for the rest of the season.