Tag: Mason Fletcher

Classic Contests: Fletcher, Cannons come up clutch

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 9 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Calder Cannons. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to when the sides played out a thriller in late-2019.

2019 NAB League, Round 15
Sunday July 28, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

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

Draftees in action:

GWV – Jay Rantall (Collingwood)
Calder – Sam Ramsay (Carlton)

There was not much on the line when the Calder Cannons and GWV Rebels faced off late in the 2019 NAB League season, but it would not stop the sides from giving it their all in search of a win. The finals-bound Cannons came in riding high off an undefeated month of action, sitting sixth at 8-5 and level on points with fourth. The Rebels were on a decent run too, winning two of their last three games to improve their record to 4-8, good enough for 14th spot at the time.

Both regions named relatively unexperienced sides for the bout in Ballarat, with all three age brackets represented across the two lineups. Of course, either side still managed to squeeze in a future draftee each, with Collingwood slider Jay Rantall at the heart of GWV’s midfield, while Sam Ramsay played the same role for Calder. Ramsay would be one of four Cannons drafted in 2019, but the only one afield in this clash.

With pride on the line, the hosts looked as if they had a point to prove after what had been a lacklustre season to date, and took the lead at 10 minutes into the first term. Although Calder managed to remain just over a goal adrift at every break, GWV did not relinquish its lead until the final term, while pushing the margin out to 21 points in the second term and 23 in the third.

Inaccuracy would end up costing the Rebels, with their 21 scoring shots to Calder’s 20 still not enough to prize the four points. The Cannon’s late third quarter momentum carried on into the fourth, as Mason Fletcher found the big sticks with just over a minute played, and put his side in front shortly after. Nick Caris snatched the lead back for GWV in quick time, but that advantage would again prove short-lived as Ned Gentile booted the deciding goal with over 10 minutes left to play.

Both sides spurned opportunities to score in the late stages, with the typically windy conditions making life hard for a would-be hero. It meant the Cannons came up trumps at the ideal time, holding on to win by four points and remain in the hunt for an unlikely top three berth.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Fletcher booted 3.3, including two majors in the final term to play a key role, with his goalscoring feat match by teammate, Gentile. The Rebels laid claim to three multiple goalkickers, with Caris, Harry Sharp, and Matty Lloyd all finding the big sticks in a valiant losing effort.

Unsurprisingly, the two eventual draftees led all comers for disposals, with Rantall racking up a game-high 35 touches, while Ramsay trailed closely to notch 33 of his own – along with three behinds. The Rebels had plenty of the ball, with seven players racking up over 20 disposals, including the returning Liam Herbert (23). Among the Cannons youngsters to impress were Jackson Cardillo (18 disposals) and Harrison Andronaco (17, one goal).

Calder would go on to mount a decent finals run, advancing through Wildcard Round and the first week of finals before losing comfortably to Sandringham in the semis – all after narrowly missing out on the top three. GWV improved its position slightly to finish 10th at 6-9, before being bundled out of Wildcard Round by Western.

Rantall was the sole Rebel drafted from the class of 2020, though he could be joined by some teammates on the day in future. Calder’s impressive haul of four included Ramsay, Harrison Jones, and bolters Lachlan Gollant and Francis Evans.

Classic Contests: Cannons fire late to survive Devils scare

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 8 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock only one year to 2019, when the two sides met in Wildcard Round.

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.7 | 6.9 (63)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 2.9 | 6.12 | 7.15 (57)

NAB League Wildcard Round | Sunday August 25, 2019
RAMS Arena, 11am

Future draftees:

Calder: Harrison Jones (Essendon) Sam Ramsay (Carlton), Lachlan Gollant (Adelaide)
Tasmania: Matt McGuinness (North Melbourne)

At the end of the regular season, all sides ranked fourth to 13th were opposed to sides at the opposite ends of the ladder. Very few would have predicted the 12th placed Tasmania Devils to have challenged the fifth placed Calder Cannons. The Cannons had a couple of challenging weeks early in the season, but had really hit form by the second half and come into the pointy end of the season looking the goods. The Devils had been competitive throughout matches, but could not quite get the wins on the board. Despite having to travel across the Bass Strait once again to challenge the Cannons on their home deck, the Devils gave Calder a massive scare and even led at the final break.

With the Wildcard Round treated as effectively an elimination final, there was no turning back when the two sides headed out onto RAMS Arena in late August. Calder’s Daniel Mott was the first one on the scoreboard with a goal six-and-a-half minutes into the match. Defender and future Roo, Matt McGuinness responded a few minutes later to level the scores, something that would indicate just how tight the match would be. A late major to Harrison Jones would separate the sides at the first break, but Tasmania had its fair share of chances with 1.4 from an extra chance to the Cannons.

When Jake Steele booted a goal at the five minute mark of the second term, the Devils had hit the front. But five straight behinds hurt the visiting team as they could, and should have been further ahead at the main break, instead a unlikely major to defender-turned-forward Mason Fletcher with 45 seconds left on the clock tied the scores. In comparison, the Devils had achieved 11 scoring shots to six, but were not able to capitalise on their scoring attempts.

Back-to-back goals to Campbell Edwardes and Fletcher in the first six minutes of the second half had the visiting fans wondering if they had blown their chance. The lead would stretch out to 14 points – the most of the game at any stage. Instead of fading away, Tasmania booted three consecutive goals to go as much as six points up. Yet again however, Calder would have the answer, as Carlton draftee, Sam Ramsay put through a crucial major against the momentum to level the scores again with less than five minutes remaining in the quarter. When the teams looked set to head into the final change level once again, Baynen Lowe found the big sticks and the Devils once again led – albeit by five points.

After both teams booted back-to-back behinds, it was Harrison Minton-Connell who became the home team’s saviour, booting two last quarter goals to give his side a seven-point lead with six minutes remaining in the match. Jeremy O’Sullivan converted with two-and-a-half on the clock and with a 13-point lead it looked near insurmountable. But nobody told the Devils as a quick behind and then goal to Jared Dakin with 22 seconds remaining had them believing. Unfortunately for them, the time ran out by the time the centre square ball up had occurred and the Cannons were home by just six points.

Ramsay was best afield, continuing his ripping second half form with 33 disposals, 11 marks, four clearances and a goal, well supported by Mott (21 touches, five clearances, four tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Ned Gentile (26 disposals, six marks, four clearances and seven inside 50s. Brodie Newman racked up 22 disposals and 12 marks, while Curtis Brown (20 touches, four marks and eight rebounds) and Edwardes (20 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) were instrumental in the back half. Minton-Connell’s last quarter efforts saw him end with 19 disposals, five marks and two goals, while other draftees playing on that day were Adelaide’s Lachlan Gollant (11 disposals, eight marks) and Essendon’s Jones (five disposals, one mark and one goal).

For the Devils, McGuinness was the equal top disposal winner with 25 touches, five marks, three inside 50s, nine rebounds and a goal along with Dakin – playing his first game of the year post-injury – who racked up 25 disposals (12 contested), eight clearances, 10 inside 50s and a goal. Will Peppin (21 disposals, five marks, six tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s) and Jackson Callow (18 disposals, six marks) also won plenty of contested footy, while Harvey Griffiths (14 disposals, five marks and eight inside 50s) found plenty of the ball going forward.

Calder Cannons would go on to win the following week’s elimination final against Dandenong Stingrays before going down to Sandringham Dragons in the semi-finals.

Classic Contests: Downie kicks after-the-siren winner for Ranges

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019, and for Ranges fans, this will be one to savour, while for Cannons fans the ending was a heart-breaking one.

CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 4.1 | 7.6 | 9.9 (63)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 | 10.7 (67)

Round 17 | Saturday, August 17, 2019
Avalon Airport Oval, 12.30pm

It was the final round of the season last year and two of the top five teams were doing battle with plenty on the line. While the top of the table Eastern Ranges had sewn up the minor premiership – they were only four points clear of Gippsland Power but a good 28 per cent in excess – it was all about Calder Cannons who sat fifth on the table and percentage out of the top four. The match straight after would see fourth placed Sandringham Dragons and third placed Oakleigh Chargers go at it, with a loss to Sandringham allowing Calder to sneak into fourth spot on the ladder ahead of Wildcard Round if the Cannons could get it done. The Ranges would refuse to make it easy on the Cannons and one of the games of the season ensued with a see-sawing contest with plenty of swings and one of the best end-to-end last plays possible.

Eastern was coming off a narrow five-point win over Dandenong Stingrays a couple of weeks prior – with a development weekend in between – while the Cannons had not played since July 28 where they survived a scare from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels to win by four points. The first term of the clash saw Calder race out of the blocks as Harrison Jones, Curtis Brown and Jackson Cardillo all piled on goals with Eastern’s inaccuracy hurting the Ranges. Trailing by 15 points at one stage, Ranges’ forward Ben Hickleton got his side on the board with a late major. It sparked four consecutive goals for the minor premiers either side of the break as Eastern showed it had come to play. Draft prospects, Jamieson Rossiter, Lachlan Stapleton and Lachlan Gawel all booted majors with Calder not scoring until the 21st minute when Jake Sutton put through a crucial settler. Heading into the main break, the Ranges were back on top, but only marginally – by four points.

Eastern’s leading goalkicker, Jordan Jaworski got his name on the board just 90 seconds into the third term to stretch the margin to 10, before Sutton kicked his second, and defender-cum-forward Mason Fletcher regained the lead for the Cannons with a major 15 minutes into the term. Another lead change occurred when Mihaele Zalac found the big sticks, but that lasted three minutes as Sutton’s third goal provided the Cannons with the lead at the last break. The fourth term might have been slow to get going, but the finish was insane, with the first goal coming 11 minutes into the quarter to Calder’s Jeremy O’Sullivan. Two minutes later, Riley Smith pulled the deficit back to a goal and less than 60 seconds more had expired on the clock when Stapleton levelled the scores. Fletcher booted his second goal of the match 16 minutes into the term and the Cannons held a crucial six-point lead, with a rushed behind to the Cannons with five minutes to play a potential separator between the teams. Hickleton converted his second with four minutes to play, but the Cannons still held the lead. A behind to Ned Gentile made the margin two points with a couple of minutes on the clock, ensuring the Ranges would have to kick a goal to win.

Fast forward to the last 32 seconds of play. The Ranges still trail by two points with the ball in defence and in possession of the pill. They need a near perfect end-to-end play in order to execute the unthinkable and win the match. For Calder, one mark would surely be enough to chew up the clock and hold on for a remarkable upset. With 32 seconds left, Parker has the ball and looks straight down the middle of the ground. He uses his pace to give himself some extra space on an opponent and hits up a loose Mitch Mellis on the back of the centre square. He turns around hoping to play on but an opponent is there, so he thumps the ball as far as he possibly can to a one-on-one at half-forward. Chayce Black and Giacomo Thomas grapple in a marking contest and the umpire determines both – or neither – have infringed and the ball spills to ground. The class and quick thinking of Under 16s star, Tyler Sonsie comes to into play as he collects the loose ball, runs a few metres to the top of the 50 with 17 seconds remaining and puts a lace-out pass to Smith. He has the front position, but Calder’s Declan Tully does enough to force a spill. Brown pounces on the loose ball and goes to take off but runs into teammate, Ben Overman. He bounces back and is immediately set upon by Connor Downie with the ball spilling free with less than 10 seconds on the clock. Overman picks up the loose ball but no sooner has he done that the whistle sounds. The umpire had cited incorrect disposal and now Downie would take the free kick from just 25 metres out on a 35-degree angle. The Calder players protest the free, but it falls on deaf ears as Downie, one of the most accurate kicks for goal in the competition – with 14.2 for the season to that point – slotted the winner. Teammates flocked from everywhere to celebrate, and for the Cannons it meant a missed opportunity to potentially steal fourth spot.

Calder would end up going through to the semi-finals to play Sandringham Dragons – their likely opponent in that match up anyway if they had won this match – before going down, while Eastern would reach the Grand Final with wins over Sandringham and Gippsland Power before falling to eventual premiers, Oakleigh Chargers.

In terms of the performers on the day, the Eastern midfield trio of Mellis (26 disposals, four marks, six clearances and three rebounds), Stapleton (23 disposals, three marks, six tackles, seven clearances, three inside 50s and two goals) and Zakery Pretty (24 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s were all busy. In defence, James Ross had 17 touches, three marks, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Sonsie showed his class despite being two years below many of his peers with 17 disposals, three tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. In defence, Todd Garner and Billy McCormack combined for 10 rebounds, while the hero Downie had 12 touches, three tackles, three inside 50s and that match-winning goal.

For the Cannons, future-Blue Sam Ramsay had a game-high 27 disposals, two marks, seven tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds, while Daniel Mott (21 disposals, four tackles, 10 clearances and six inside 50s) and Gentile (20 disposals, two marks, three tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s) were both busy. Cardillo was lively in the attacking half of the ground with 19 touches, four marks, five tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s and a goal, while Brown was just as prolific in the back half with 17 disposals, three marks and six rebounds. Of the other draftees, Jones had 17 disposals, four marks, four hitouts, two inside 50s and a goal, while Lachlan Gollant finished with 10 disposals, two tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s in the loss.

Cannons fire in final quarter escape over Devils

CALDER Cannons have executed the great escape with a heart-stopping six-point win over Tasmania Devils at RAMS Arena today. The Cannons managed to get in front when it counted, booting three goals to one in the final term to break away and secure the 9.9 (63) to 7.15 (57) win, as the Devils would rue inaccuracy when in control of the contest. They brought the heat with an undermanned side that was missing a number of key players, and looked at times as like they might cause an upset, but the composure of the Cannons late in the game got them home to book a finals berth.

After a tight first five minutes, it was Calder’s Daniel Mott who broke through for the opening goal at the six and a half minute mark to give the home side the early lead. Four minutes later the visitors replied through versatile utility Matt McGuinness as their defensive pressure around the ball carrier was proving effective. Despite the week off, Tasmania was looking up for the fight, controlling more than their fair share of possession in the first term. The Devils continued to pepper the goals and threaten to score with their tackling pressure forcing turnovers, but after three consecutive misses, key forward Harrison Jones broke hearts converting a major with 17 seconds left in the term to hand the Cannons a four-point lead at the first break. At quarter time, the Devils had 12 extra disposals, but a massive 11 extra tackles, while Calder had eight extra marks showing their patience with ball-in-hand and ability to take control in the air. Mott (seven disposals), Sam Ramsay (six) and Harrison Minton-Connell (six) were all getting going for the Cannons, while Will Peppin and Isaac Chugg both picked up the seven touches in the opening term. Peppin also led the way with his tackling pressure, laying a game-high four tackles in the first 25 minutes.

Tasmania came out with the same fierce intent in the second term and got reward early through a goal to Jake Steele who swung forward and kicked truly to hand the Devils the lead. They struggled with accuracy again though, booting five consecutive behinds but had opened up a seven-point lead. With two minutes remaining the Devils had restricted the Cannons from scoring, before a Ned Gentile behind, and then a Mason Fletcher goal dragged Calder back into it to level the scores by the main break. Much like the first term, despite more scoring shots and limiting the impact of the Cannons’ forwards, a last-minute goal meant the visitors had to head into half-time level with the home side despite clear dominance with 18 more disposals and a whopping 20 more tackles than their opponents. Curtis Brown had a huge second term, picking up 16 disposals in the first half to lead all-comers, while Ramsay (13) and Brodie Newman (12) were having a say with the ball down in the defensive half of the ground. For the Devils, Peppin continued his good first quarter form to head into the main break with 12 touches, while Chugg (11) was also prominent, as Jackson Callow had a say in the air, taking four grabs to go with his nine disposals.

The third quarter started with Calder looking like the side that had finished fifth with bottom-ager Campbell Edwardes, and Fletcher both converting goals in the first six minutes to open up a 13-point lead. The Devils had a two minute purple patch with two goals in as many minutes, as Rhyan Mansell and Jye Menzie slotted majors and in the blink of an eye, it was even-steven again. Key position player Jack Rand booted a crucial major a few minutes later and it looked like Tasmania was now in control. Not to let the game slip away, Ramsay put his side back level with a late goal, before Baynen Lowe responded with a major of his own a minute later. By the time the final siren sounded, the Devils maintained a five-point lead in a game that was just as hard to pick a winner at the final break as it had been pre-game. McGuinnes had a monster quarter picking up 11 touches, while Ramsay was not far behind with 10 of his own, as Gentile also impressed having picked up 17 touches to the final break. Newman was unmatched in the air with 11 marks from his 16 disposals, while Peppin was productive as ever. The Devils still had more of the ball, with a plus 16 in disposals, though Calder was wrestling it back in terms of time in possession. The sides had just six tackles apiece in the quarter, and the Cannons had plenty of looks, but the Devils’ defence was up to the task. With a quarter to play, just five points separated the sides.

The last quarter belonged to Calder with three consecutive goals effectively handing them the win against a brave Tasmania outfit. After 10 minutes of both sides fighting it out Minton-Connell stepped up and put one through the big sticks to regain the lead by one point. Minton-Connell was not done yet though, determined to drag his side over the line with another major eight minutes later and the Cannons were seven points clear and looking good in low-scoring conditions. When Jeremy O’Sullivan marked close to the 50 and converted from long range, the Cannons were partying knowing they lead by 13 points with just two minutes remaining. Zac Adams missed a chance late in the game and brought in back to a flat two goals, and there was a glimmer of hope when Menzie burst away inside 50 and put it through, only for the Devils to look up and realise there was 15 seconds left on the clock. With the time taken to get back to the centre circle, the look on the Devils’ faces in the middle told the story – head in hands as the siren rang out knowing their season was over and the Cannons had initiated a great escape.

Ramsay finished the game with a massive 30 touches, 10 marks and a goal for the Cannons, while Gentile was huge in the second half, racking up 26 disposals, six marks and eight inside 50s for the game. Newman was strong in defence with 22 touches, 12 marks, three rebounds and two inside 50s, while Brown (21 disposals) and Mott (20) also picked up big numbers. For the Devils, McGuinness was massive in the second half, amassing 25 disposals, five marks, nine rebounds and a goal, while Jared Dakin picked up in the last quarter on debut to finish with 23 disposals, three marks and eight inside 50s. Peppin (19 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and four rebounds) and Menzie (18 disposals, four marks and 2.2) also impressed, as Callow (16 disposals, seven marks and three behinds) could have had a big day in front of the sticks, while Under-16 Most Valuable Player Sam Banks had 17 touches and seven marks.

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.7 | 9.9 (63)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 2.9 | 6.12 | 7.15 (57)

GOALS:

Calder: H. Minton-Connell 2, M. Fletcher 2, C. Edwardes, D. Mott, H. Jones, S. Ramsay.
Tasmania: J. Menzie 2, R. Mansell, B. Lowe, M. McGuinness, J. Steele, J. Rand.

ADC BEST:

Calder: S. Ramsay, H. Minton-Connell, B. Newman, N. Gentile, C. Brown, D. Mott
Tasmania: M. McGuinness, J. Callow, W. Peppin, J. Menzie, S. Banks, J. Dakin

NAB League Boys Round 17 wash-up: Chargers snatch finals spot in thriller

THE NAB League Boys regular season came to a close on the weekend with a pair of triple-headers, finalising the all-important automatic finals qualifiers and Wildcard Round fixtures. There were plenty of standouts across the six games despite indifferent conditions, with the Oakleigh-Sandringham game living up to the pre-game hype.

WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.9 | 4.12 (36)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:
Western – A. Manton 3, A. Clarke
Northern – J. D’Intinosante 4, N. Cox 2, J. Watson, J. Lucente, S. House, J. Boyd

BEST:
Western – L. Rocci, J. Honey, D. Bolkas, C. Raak, L. Failli, J. Kellett
Northern – J. Watson, R. Sturgess, N. Cox, J. Boyd, A. Carafa, J. D’Intinosante

By: Michael Alvaro

A sense of redemption was achieved by the Northern Knights on Saturday as they got one back over the Western Jets with a 32-point win at Avalon Airport Oval. The win sees the Knights jump their opponents into sixth place on the back of superior percentage, making it that little bit sweeter on top of redeeming a Round 1 loss to the Jets. After a relatively steady opening term where Western arguably had the better of general play, Northern sprung to life with an explosive six-goal to nil second quarter to set up the win. The Knights’ dare and transition from a high-possession defensive game helped them dominate the scoreboard during middle-period of the game, rapidly building the game-defining margin. Josh D’Intinosante played a big part in that, snaring three goals in quick succession at the start of the term to break the game open. Two late goals as the heat simmered proved consolations for the Jets, who have now lost their last three games. Strong stay-at-home forward Archi Manton had all of Western’s goals for over three quarters and was the sole threat inside 50, finishing with 3.2 from seven disposals and five marks. Josh Honey (18 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s) was also terrific for the Jets with his burst from congestion, with the likes of Darcy Cassar (22 disposals, four marks) and Lucas Rocci (20 disposals, five rebounds) also standing up. But it was Northern bottom-ager Josh Watson who was best afield in a breakout game, collecting 21 disposals, four marks and booting a lovely goal. Adam Carafa led the disposal count with 23 and a lot of work in-close, while Ryan Sturgess (21 disposals, 13 marks) was terrific in the air at both ends and D’Intinosante finished with 4.2 from 13 disposals and six marks. The result now sees Northern host Bendigo in Wildcard Round, while Western will face the Knights’ 2018 Wildcard nemesis, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) next week.

CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 4.1 | 7.6 | 9.9 (63)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:
Calder – J. Sutton 3, M. Fletcher 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, J. O”Sullivan, H. Jones
Eastern – B. Hickleton 2, L. Stapleton 2, J. Rossiter, C. Downie, L. Gawel, R. Smith, J. Jaworski, M. Zalac

BEST:
Calder – D. Mott, S. Ramsay, J. Sutton, G. Thomas, J. Cardillo, M. Fletcher
Eastern – L. Stapleton, J. Ross, Z. Pretty, M. Mellis, R. Smith, M. Zalac

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges snatched a dramatic after-the-siren win over Calder on Saturday to finish the regular season a game clear on top of the ladder. Bottom-age gun Connor Downie proved the hero, slotting home cooly with his twelfth disposal after earning a 50/50 incorrect disposal free kick with just seconds left. Earlier, the Cannons chipped away well to earn leads at two of the first three breaks and looked to have done enough to hold off the Ranges, with Mason Fletcher converting as time ticked away. But in the last roll of the dice play at the end of an action-packed final minute, the Ranges broke forward quickly and created the all-important scramble inside 50 to come up trumps through Downie. The diminutive Eastern midfield trio of Mitch Mellis (26 disposals), Zak Pretty (24) and Lachie Stapleton (23, two goals) was arguably led by the latter in a typically workmanlike display through the engine room, while 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie was also influential moving forward with his 17 touches and two minor scores. For the unlucky losers, Daniel Mott was very nearly a match-winner as he lifted late through midfield to prize a bunch of clearances among his 21 disposals and six inside 50s. State combine invitee Sam Ramsay led the disposal count with 27, while Ned Gentile (20 disposals, 0.3) had some nice moments and Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals. The result had little bearing on the final ladder and looked to prove as much in the build-up, with results at the other end of the ladder poising Calder against Tasmania in Wildcard Round while Eastern can enjoy a week off.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.6 (84)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 | 14.7 (91)

GOALS:
Sandringham – F. Maginness 3, A. Perkins 3, K. Yorke 2, A. Hanrahan 2, N. Burke, M. Bergman, C. Dean
Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan 4, N. Anderson 3, C. Sharman 2, F. Elliot, C. Stone, R. McInnes, F. Macrae, N. Stathopoulos

BEST:
Sandringham – C. Watts, F. Maginness, J. Bell, N. Burke, K. Yorke, J. Voss
Oakleigh – M. Rowell, N. Anderson, R. Valentine, J. Ugle-Hagan, J. Lucas, V. Zagari

By: Michael Alvaro

Pure star power dragged the Oakleigh Chargers over the line and into third place with an incredible seven-point come-from-behind win over Sandringham Dragons in the thick of what was a finals-like atmosphere. After the Dragons looked to have sealed the game with three goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter, a Noah Anderson-inspired Oakleigh hit back in style with four majors in the following five minutes, and ended with the last six of the game altogether to snatch victory. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout the game and looked like getting on top on numerous occasions, but Oakleigh’s final thrust came at the ideal time as they charged home to claim the remarkable win. Anderson’s game-winning 24 disposals and three goals were arguably matched for importance by the efforts of Matt Rowell (34 disposals, seven tackles) – who hardly put a foot wrong – and skipper Trent Bianco (28 disposals). The high-marking forward duo of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Cooper Sharman also shone, combining for six goals and a couple of highlight reel moments. For the Dragons, Finn Maginness did his level best to drag his side over the line with 17 disposals and three goals, with Darcy Chirgwin (30 disposals, seven tackles) doing the tough stuff through midfield and Angus Hanrahan influential on the outside (23 disposals, two goals). Bottom-ager Archie Perkins was another to impress with his three goals from 11 disposals, while Corey Watts put in a mammoth effort in defence with 12 disposals, six marks and seven rebound 50s. With an absolute raft of combine invitees and representative players taking the field, it was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent memory and truly lived up to the pre-game hype as a number of top-end stars stood up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 9.9 (63)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 5.4 | 6.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:
Bendigo – R. Wilson 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Mitchell 2, J. Treacy, N. Walsh, T. Dow
Gippsland – M. McGarrity 2, F. Phillips 2, R. Baldi 2, C. Comben, S. Flanders, T. Hourigan, R. Sparkes

BEST:
Bendigo – R. Wilson, B. Rowles, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Ginnivan, B. Worme
Gippsland – R. Baldi, T. Hourigan, F. Phillips, R. Sparkes, L. Connolly, R. Angwin

By: Peter Williams

In a day of upsets, Bendigo Pioneers almost set the tone with an impressive performance against top two side, Gippsland Power. The Pioneers regained a number of players back to the line-up, including Thomson Dow who returned from school football, but were missing the injured Brodie Kemp. Despite Caleb Serong being the only key omission from the premiership contending Power, the Pioneers jumped them in the first quarter to boot three goals to one, two of which came from free kicks and another from a turnover as the home side looked to be disciplined on the day. With Bendigo booting the first goal of the second term, it looked like the Pioneers might start to run away with it, before Gippsland piled on five of the next seven over the two quarters to keep within a point at both breaks. The last quarter was topsy turvy with lead changes galore, and it took until Fraser Phillips‘ goal after the siren to relieve the nerves of the Power supporters. Riley Baldi was the clear standout performer from the Power, booting two goals and could have had a third to go with his 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and seven tackles, while Tye Hourigan was good in defence before kicking what almost looked like the winning goal late, in attack. He had 20 disposals, 11 marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal on the day. Leo Connolly (22 disposals, seven marks) and Phillips (2.3 from 19 disposals and four marks) also showed signs. For the Pioneers, Dow showed his class in patches with 24 disposals, six marks and a goal, while Ben Worme (21 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and four rebounds), Riley Ironside (26 disposals, six marks, five rebounds and three tackles) and Riley Wilson (21 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and two goals) were the Pioneers’ best.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.5 | 8.7 | 14.8 | 15.9 (99)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.3 | 3.9 | 5.12 | 9.14 (68)

GOALS:
Geelong – C. Sprague 6, O. Henry 2, T. Bruhn 2, C. Lazzaro, K. Skene, C. Karpala, H. Walsh, S. Fonseca-Hateley
Dandenong – L. Williams 3, J. Toner, N. Heath, J. Andrews, W. Howe, W. Lewis, W. Bravo

BEST:
Geelong – C. Sprague, T. Bruhn, H. Walsh, C. Lazzaro, J. Dahlhaus, K. Rayner
Dandenong – W. Bravo, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, L. Scott, J. Toner, B. Kuipers

By: Peter Williams

In what was clearly Geelong’s best performance of the season, the 2019 wooden spooners showed they might just have life in their season yet with a strong 31-point win over Dandenong Stingrays. While the Falcons have to contend with the star-studded Sandringham Dragons this weekend, they played a commanding three quarters against the Stingrays before Dandenong booted four of the five last goals to cut the deficit back to a reasonable margin. The Falcons had some troubles with accuracy early, while the Stingrays found the same issues in the second term, booting 1.6 to the Falcons’ 5.2 to ultimately be the difference with Geelong heading into the main break 28 points in front. They did not stop there however, as the Falcons added another six goals to the Stingrays’ two, effectively ending the contest at a game-high 50 points. Lachlan Williams had a last quarter to remember with three consecutive goals – not that it did enough to turn the momentum – while Charlie Sprague said enough was enough booting his sixth goal of the game late to ensure the Falcons had a major in the final term. To the final break, Sprague had booted the same amount of goals as the Stingrays side, eventually finishing with a clear best-on performance of 16 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and 6.1 for the day. Jesse Clark was a rock in defence with 23 disposals, six marks, nine rebounds and three tackles, while bottom agers Noah Gribble (19 disposals, four marks three inside 50s and three behinds) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and a goal) were also impressive. Assisting Sprague in attack was Oliver Henry with two goals from 12 touches and always presenting, while bottom-ager Tanner Bruhn showed no signs that he was coming off a long-term injury, booting two majors and could have had a third, with 16 disposals, two marks, four tackles and six inside 50s. For Dandenong, William Lewis had 24 disposals, two marks, four tackles, nine inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the best across four quarters, while Luca Goonan had a superb first half to finish with 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles and three inside 50s. Jack Toner (20 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Hayden Young (17 disposals, three marks three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles) tried hard, while Cody Weightman had his moments, finishing with 16 disposals and three behinds.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 8.11 (59)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 5.14 (44)

GOALS:
GWV – M. Martin 3, M. Lloyd, J. Rentsch, F. Marris, R. Polkinghorne, B. Hobbs
Murray – J. Boyer, T. Panuccio, D. Bedendo, B. Kelly, W. Chandler

BEST:
GWV – C. Molan, M. Martin, C. Craig-Peters, J. Rantall, F. Marris, P. Glanford
Murray – N. Irvine, S. Durham, L. Fiore, J. Chalcraft, C. McLeod, B. Kelly

By: Peter Williams

Given the pouring rain had set in midway through the last game, by the time the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers took the field, the ground could have doubled up for the swimming pool next to Queen Elizabeth Oval. The game itself was not one either side will be reaching for the highlight tapes too quickly, as the conditions made it a genuine slog and difficult for sides to firstly mark the ball inside 50, and secondly hit the scoreboard. Players were slipping and sliding in the mud, with one Rebels play indicative of the weather, going for a run through the middle but as he went to kick slipped in the mud and slid a metre of two along the ground. When it was all said and done however, it was the Rebels who managed to kick away in the second half, booting five consecutive goals to blow the margin out to 29 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, before a couple of late majors to the Bushrangers cut the final deficit to just 15. With 13.25 between the sides, it could have been a lot worse, but at least the sun decided to show up in the last 10 minutes of the match, instead blinding the players who were already soaked thanks to Mother Nature. Cooper Craig-Peters had a game-high 24 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebounds and eight tackles to relish in the conditions for the Rebels, while Jack Tillig finished with 20 disposals, six marks, four tackles and six rebounds. A frequent sufferer of leather poisoning, Jay Rantall had just one touch in the first term and six by the main break, but produced a big second half to end with 20 disposals and a massive 18 tackles in the win. Mitch Martin impressed up forward with three goals from 17 disposals and four marks, as well as a couple of other opportunities, while 16-year-olds Charlie Molan (17 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Ben Hobbs (12 disposals, nine tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) stood tall, as did bottom-ager Nick Stevens (17 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and four tackles). For the Bushrangers, Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals), Cam Wild (21) and Dylan Clarke (20) unsurprisingly loved the wet weather, going in hard and winning the ball in close, while Lachlan Ash overcame a similarly slow start to Rantall with just two disposals in the first term to finish the game with 19 playing in all areas of the ground. Josh Rachele presented well up forward with 19 disposals and four inside 50s, while bottom-age forward Dominic Bedendo had 13 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 13

IN Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition there were plenty of individual standouts as Vic Metro players made their way back into their respective squads. Our writers took a look at a number of Victorian and Allies-based squad members, as well as some impressive bottom-agers. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writers.

Western Jets vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham:

#4 Finn Maginness

Maginness was a class act through the midfield moving well through congestion and showing great composure with ball in hand. Maginness was a consistent player throughout the day and even managed to hit the scoreboard with a goal in the second quarter from a set shot and almost kicked a second in the last quarter from another set shot. Maginness hardly put a foot wrong all day finishing the game with 24 disposals and eight tackles.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The Sandringham captain lead from the front with a strong performance through the midfield winning plenty of clearances and showing his breakaway speed from stoppages. Byrnes had a stronger first half than second but was still a consistently good player in and around the contest going in hard to extract the ball time and time again. He managed to hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a nice goal on the run to complete his game finishing with 28 disposals and five tackles.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

Ralphsmith showed his usual craftiness when forward kicking two goals. He put out another solid game but was unable to have an impact for a full four quarters. Ralphsmith impressed with his defensive side of the game with some good chases. His two goals both came from set shots with the best one coming after a nice intercept mark in the forward 50. Ralphsmith was a big part of the late attempted comeback providing a lot of run with a great dash on the wing and kick inside 50 that really caught the eye and he took a courageous intercept mark as well. He was quick to play on to give his side the best chance of making a comeback finishing the game with 16 disposals and six inside 50s.

#12 Charlie Dean

Dean was the focal point up forward but his impact up forward still has not reached the heights of his early season form and that trend continued against the Jets but his last quarter showed that it may soon click for him again. Dean kicked both of his goals in the last quarter one from a strong contested mark and the other a set shot after a 50m penalty. He had another shot at goal with a snap that bounced over the boundary. He was lined up on talented Jets player Emerson Jeka which was a great one on one battle in the last quarter. Dean finished the game with 10 disposals half resulting in scores finishing with 2.3.

#13 Louis Butler

Butler showcased his usual dash from defence but was moved onto a wing in the third quarter where he looked more dangerous and natural. Butler was his usual self rebounding from defence in the first half and was the leading disposal winner in the first quarter with nine. He only had the three in the third quarter playing on the wing but he looked dangerous just missing a snap on goal and also spinning out of trouble nicely in a contest showing his nous under pressure. He was moved back to defence in the last quarter and saved a certain goal with a good chase down tackle, Butler finished the game with 23 disposals and five rebounds.

Western

#3 Eddie Ford

Ford was again his usual self in the forward line showing his dynamic and smart play style. Ford was busiest in the first half with two consistent quarters getting involved and using the ball well, he showed his defensive work with a good punch to the boundary. Ford finished the game with 12 disposals.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Jeka was tried in a new role in defence for the Jets and despite a few errors it looks like a move worth persisting with both for Jeka and the Jets. Jeka looked composed early on using the ball well in defence. He took a nice contested mark and a good intercept mark although what would follow the intercept was a stray kick that went out on the full. He had a quiet third quarter but finished the game nicely with a strong contested mark against Charlie Dean, Jeka finished with 12 disposals and six marks.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey had a quiet start to the game but worked into the game and played an important part in the Jets getting the jump on Sandringham in the second and third quarters. Honey also looked dangerous again in the last quarter especially up forward showing his explosiveness and evasiveness to take the tacklers on and proved hard to stop when up and running. Honey finished the game with 18 disposals and five marks to be one of the Jets better and more dangerous players.

Gippsland Power vs. Northern Knights
By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland:

#7 Sam Berry

A typically tough, in and under day for the bottom age midfielder. Starting at the centre bounces, Berry got involved inside 50 during the first term with a nice goal assist to Tom Fitzpatrick by hand. He got busier through the midfield in the second quarter, somehow stealing a clearance seemingly straight out of the hands of an opponent before sending the ball forward. His possessions were heavy, which occasionally lead to him rushing the ball forward and producing some messy disposals. He fought hard though and was one of Gippsland better players, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly played a more outside orientated game this week, generally starting on the wing and getting involved in multiple link up plays to have some high metre gained moments. He still attacked the hard ball when it was his turn though, winning a clean clearance in the first term with fast hands. Connolly often found himself in a position to feed the ball inside 50 and he hit some brilliant targets. One play in particular stood out during the third term, producing a pin point pass on his left foot inside 50 before he continued on running to provide a target about 30 metres out. He got the ball back, but just tried to do too much by playing on and rushing the shot. He had a solid day, finishing with 18 disposals.

#19 Fraser Phillips

It was a bit of an “almost moments” day for Phillips, who returned to Power this week after missing selection for Vic Country’s final game at Marvel Stadium. There were times when he looked on the brink of putting his mark on the game, but the ball didn’t quite fall his way. He still had some nice moments, including an unselfish goal assist in the first term and some class hits inside 50. In one play he side stepped and turned to create enough room, before producing a lovely weighted ball to the advantage of Baldi inside 50 for a goal assist. Only the second time he has been held goalless at NAB League level this season, but he’ll bounce back.

Northern:

#1 Lachie Potter

In his first game back from Vic Metro duties, the electrifying wingman had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. He was especially prolific early, winning nine possessions in the first term where he had multiple fast moments with ball in hand. Potter just goes at 100% at every opportunity, which at times can produce a turnover, but he had far more good than bad moments on Saturday. A brilliant bouncing run through the middle of the ground in the third term got the ball inside 50 so quickly that the Gippsland defence was almost caught stagnant as he hit a teammate in space. He appeared from nowhere at the top of the goal square after accelerating while the ball was in the air to kick an easy goal. Apart from giving away an off the ball free kick at one stage, it was an exciting performance by the speedster to finish with 23 disposals.

#4 Jackson Davies

Davies was the most influential player on the ground for mine. The Knights skipper was completely in control behind the play, making composed decisions, using the ball brilliantly and intercepting seemingly everything. He read the play better than anyone else on the ground, highlighted by a superb flying one handed intercept “specky” in the defensive 50 earlier in the game. Even ground balls he mopped up with ease and his offensive running packed a punch. He also took the kick outs and looked to create a scoring chain on most occasions. First time I’ve seen him live and I must admit he exceeded my expectations with 23 eye catching touches.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante was another one of the Knight’s stars to have a large impact on this game, kicking four really smart goals in a near flawless display up forward. I loved his first goal, giving a look-away handball to Potter, before running hard inside 50 space to receive the ball for a set shot goal. He then exploded back into the game during the second quarter, kicking two goals in a minute from brilliantly read crumbs off the pack and finished both with excellent snaps. He kicked a fourth goal in the third while under a fair bit of heat, finding just enough space to connect a nicely executed drop punt through the sticks. He didn’t win mountains of the footy and was pretty well held after his fourth goal, but ensured every touch counted.

#8 Adam Carafa

Does not play too many bad games this fellow, and Saturday was no exception for the Vic Metro midfielder. He started the game hot, getting his hands on the footy first at the stoppages and winning 11 first term possessions. If the ball was in dispute, he just came out of the contest with it in his hands, highlighted by a pressure gather and release deep in defensive 50 early in the game. Carafa then found himself at the offensive end of the ground, striking a lovely goal from approximately the 50 metre line. He was consistently involved throughout the day, creating space or on the odd occasion he couldn’t, holding strong in a tackle and releasing calmly to a nearby teammate. It was a good outing, finishing with 28 no fuss touches.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Another Vic Metro representative to return to the Knights fold, but in a position that is a little less familiar to the behind the play roles we’ve seen in recent times. Sturgess basically played as a lead up full forward type and did so successfully too. While he didn’t win heaps of the footy, particularly in the first three quarters, he had a genuine presence when leading up to the ball. He took seven marks, the best coming deep inside 50 during the second term where he extended the arms to take a strong contested overhead effort. He got more involved in the final term, executing lovely passes to Cox and Brazier. More importantly, he consistently hit the scoreboard throughout the afternoon to kick a respectable three goals, two behinds.

#23 Nikolas Cox

This kid has some exciting attributes. It was no surprise to see the 197cm bottom ager play for Vic Metro at the Championships, the talent is there for all to see. He is almost freakishly clean for his size at ground and possesses a left foot that any 180cm footballer would be proud of. He fights at ground level, winning a holding the ball free kick in the second quarter before hitting Brazier lace out inside 50. Then there is the aerial stuff, where he took a fantastic flying mark on the wing in the fourth term. Then there was evidence of work rate, running hard inside 50 to get the ball back on the lead only moments later. From a tight angle he hit the post, but it was a fluent and really well struck kick that was unlucky to miss. He moves with a bit style and is a player that everyone should be keeping tabs on over the next 18 months.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#1 Will Christie

The big man impressed throughout the ruck, but it was his work around the ground that was arguably the best of the year for him. His second efforts, tackling and presenting as an option in all thirds of the ground was a highlight. He spent time in defence early taking a number of grabs floating across the pack, and then had a nice piece of play in the second term, scooping the ball up at ground level, turning and firing off a quick handball to the appropriate teammate free on the outside. He showed good intent throughout the four quarters, even if he did give away a couple of free kicks. He had superb run-down tackle on Lachlan Stapleton in the third term at half-back when he blindsided him, and got the ball moving for a scoring opportunity. Christie had a number of inside 50s in the final term but could not quite find a target, but overall had an impressive game.

#6 Will Chandler

Played at both ends during the game, taking a good mark in the first term flying in from the side, then converting the set shot from 40m out. He was sent back to defence where he did not win as much of the ball, but he produced a nice spoil in the third term to punch it out of bounds. His hard running in the final quarter saw him receive the handball and run inside 50 but his kick was spoiled on the line by defenders. Chandler finished the game with a terrific tackle at half-forward to lock the ball in deep in the final term.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Had another big game backing up last week and most of the season, winning a heap of it in the opening few minutes. He consistently used quick hands to try and clear it from congestion, with it working most of the time, but it did force some turnovers. He managed to get higher than his opponents and fire out handballs over the top of the stoppage to the area of where his teammates would run to try and open up play. Chalcraft had a couple of burst moments to break up the game, and won a couple of free kicks for going in hard, whilst also giving the odd one away. In the third term he found Hudson Kaak after dancing one way and then another to an opponent inside 50. In the final term he won an important contest at half-forward, wrestling the ball out, winning a free but his teammates chose to play on, kick quickly and Eastern won the football back.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Again played up forward in a different role to his running half-back/wing that he might be accustomed to, and it only took 25 seconds to look like a move of genius. Boyer read the ball off the marking contest from the first clearance, pounced and kicked a goal for the first of the game. In the second term he marked right on the line, nearly played on and slipped over but was given benefit of the doubt and he went back, snapped around his body and kicked truly. His third game early in the third term when he pounced on a ball which spilled out of a stoppage via a Jye Chalcraft handball and kicked a goal. In the final term he came close to being the difference by presenting, but a number of inside 50s went just out of his reach. He had a nice turning circle at one stage to kick to a dangerous area, and a late set shot just went across the face.

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Played a really underrated role in the midfield and was often the one picking up the loose ball and firing out a handball to his fellow midfielders. Stapleton worked really well in tandem with Mitch Mellis and Zak Pretty in midfield, and laid some fierce tackles as we have become accustomed to him doing. Showed great hands under pressure at half-forward to give off to a teammate in the third term enabling him to kick inside 50, and then timed a handball perfectly to Mellis in the last quarter to deliver an important ball inside 50. His tackling was the standout area for the game.

#11 Mitch Mellis

The most prominent Ranges player on the ground, Mellis had a typical ball-winning performance and kept running for four quarters. He started the game with a strong mark under duress at half-back and booted a superb running goal in the opening term when he ran hard, did not receive it at first and kept running, got the quick handball off Jamieson Rossiter and ran inside 50 not breaking stride for a goal. At one stage in the second term he got knocked over on the wing, bounced straight back up and got into a bit of argy bargy with Jye Chalcraft and won a free for the exchange. Mellis kicked his second goal late in the second quarter with a dribbler inside 50 that got a kind bounce and went through capping off a massive first half of about 15 touches and two goals. He kept buzzing around in the second half and produced a nice delivery to a teammate inside 50 at full speed in the final term and then broke the lines through a one-two handball and then kick following a mark from a kick out.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter

Worked hard up the ground in the win and kept presenting all day. He showed great hands and smarts to give a lightning quick handball to Mitch Mellis to set up his first goal, then won a huge contested ball, ripping it from an opponent and hand balling to a teammate, then winning it back and kicking to a dangerous position to set up another major. He marked well under pressure as well as pushing up to the wing on long leads. He positioned himself appropriately in marking contests, and was unlucky not to mark at the top of the square when it was not paid in the second term.

#23 Zak Pretty

Won most of his possessions at the coal face and was often diving into the pack to knock the ball clear or handball out to a teammate in space. He has very quick hands and is not afraid to tackle bigger bodied players, which he did on a number of occasions. Pretty applies pressure on the ball carrier which worked well in the third term to force a dropped mark at half-forward, and also took a nice intercept mark around the same area. Did not rack up the big numbers he has at times this season, but was prominent in other ways throughout the game.

Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#3 Jackson Cardillo

The bottom-ager was persistent when running through midfield, while also proving lively when resting forward. Had an indifferent start with a turnover by hand, but warmed to the contest by standing up in tackles and busting his way through congestion. Cardillo’s ability to constantly find the ball at stoppages was promising, and he was hardly caught as he shovelled it out quickly (17 handballs/27 disposals) or broke the first tackle. His reading of the taps almost ended in a goal from a forward stoppage, but he unfortunately sprayed it out on the full. Cardillo eventually found that finish product with a goal in the second term, and a neat pass to find Jeremy O’Sullivan inside 50 later on.

#5 Curtis Brown

It was a typical game from Brown, who used his piercing left boot to penetrate off half back. He combined his easy-out via foot with some good moments in the air – drifting in inside defensive 50 and backing back to impact high balls. Brown took the risky option on many occasions in looking to switch the play and when it came off, it showed he can truly be a weapon in his position. His metres-gained kind of play often starts from the kick-ins too, with Brown pushing hard to find space and become the next option.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay is really growing into the midfield craft, attending the majority of centre bounces and collecting a game-high 32 disposals. Coming off an outside base, Ramsay is accustomed to staying on the move and he did so well to wheel around when he found the ball at stoppages. When he wasn’t slamming the ball forward by foot, Ramsay flicked out quick handballs to mixed effect, showing he still has areas to sharpen up. His best traits are easily seen in time and space, with pace to burn and the dare to move past opponents – as he did in the third and final terms. May move back onto the outside when Daniel Mott slots back in, but has shown his ability in both areas.

#26 Mason Fletcher

It seems as if Fletcher is starting to put the pieces together, and he looked ominous up forward in this game with four goals. Donning the long sleeves, Fletcher timed his leads really smartly from deep inside the 50 but didn’t always get reward for his efforts. He proved his ability to read the ball in flight down back, and did the same up forward here to mark over the back of an opponent who had committed in the third term. Fletcher also took a big pack mark in the following quarter and converted his third goal from the resultant kick, adding a fourth soon after. Hopefully he can get some consistency going.

#29 Campbell Edwardes

The bottom-ager is by no means a high accumulator, but just seemed to ooze class with every touch. He is that in-between kind of size and tends to play above his height across half back, but is so good at ground level as well. He started with a clean gather and kick on his left to clear the danger on defensive wing, and continued to sweep it up at speed throughout the game in impressive fashion. His ground work also translated into a pressure game, preventing two Ashton Williamson shots on goal with strength in the first and third terms. Edwardes also went on to show his prowess in the air, positioning well one-on-one and clunking a big mark in defensive 50 late on. One to watch.

#60 Samuel Paea

Paea was a surprise packet, quiet early but popping up in spurts. He had a good one on one win in the air against Clayton Gay, then backed it up with another in the second term, and continued to clunk them around the ground with clean hands. Is so strong in that area, but looked a little more iffy at ground level. Managed to hit the scoreboard with two goals in the final term with a neat snap and set shot conversion during Calder’s onslaught.

Dandenong:

#10 Clayton Gay

Not a massive game from Gay, who was employed at both ends of the ground. Starting down back, the bottom-ager looked to move the ball on quickly when in possession and even took on a couple of kick-ins. Gay almost made an immediate impact when thrust forward after half time, smashing a shot into the post from close range. He had another indifferent moment when shepherding a Lachlan Williams shot on the line, but bounced back with a mark up into the corridor and one down low inside 50. The resultant shot led to a Will Howe goal, and Gay constantly looked to move the ball on up forward.

#50 Lachlan Williams

The Country representative was one of Dandenong’s better players on the day, starting brightly down back with some dash. He did not have a heap of the ball early but showed glimpses with darting runs and clean delivery by foot. Once he was moved up the ground and into the midfield, Williams had a chance on goal that was touched in the goalsquare. While he couldn’t always get his usual running game going, the top-ager would be a scary proposition bursting from the centre bounce stoppages. Williams’ pressure without the ball was also handy, but he looked most effective when kicking inboard or through the corridor. Williams’ overhead marking was another solid part of his game, snapping up a couple of strong grabs in the third term to show off some versatility.

#51 Ashton Williamson

The bottom-age forward booted three of his side’s five majors, proving efficient inside 50. He made himself busy inside 50, zipping around and finding space to become an option. His first goal was also the Stingray’s opener, and he followed it up with a second in the next quarter as his set shot just scraped through. Williamson’s third goal was much of the same, and his simple game was highly effective.

Tasmania Devils vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Scott Dougan

Tasmania:

#3 Ollie Davis

Davis was always applying pressure around the contest, especially in tight where he would lay some strong tackles in the opening quarter. He was prolific on the inside when he was on his hands and knees doing his best to collect the contested ground ball. Davis was able to fill the hole a number of times down back where he took some intercept marks. His positive performance was nearly topped off with a running shot on goal from 50 metres that fell just short in the third quarter. Davis had 19 disposals, six inside 50s and five tackles.

#4 Will Peppin

Peppin was involved in the first scoring play of the day for the Devils, delivering a ball deep inside 50 that resulted in a mark and goal to teammate Jordan Lane. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when tucked the ball under his arm and sprinted away from his opponent, running at least a further 20-25 metres before finding a target in the middle of the ground by foot. Peppin nearly kicked a ripper of goal from the forward pocket after using his speed to break away from his opponent in the fourth quarter but his shot was pushed wide.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness had the ball on a string all day. He found plenty of space, was composed with ball in hand and made sure he took his time before making a decision by foot. He took some really nice intercept possessions that caught the eye. McGuinness has fantastic reach and was able to take plenty of marks at the highest point. He was able to provide his team with plenty of drive out of the back half and even showcased his defensive spoiling at times. A very good performance, which was capped off with 34 disposals and eight marks.

#13 Sam Collins

Collins would take plenty of intercept marks in the defence on the day, positioning himself perfectly in front of his opponents. He worked hard into space to make himself an option for his teammates when trying to provide some run out of the defensive 50. At times, he was the last man in defence and didn’t crack under pressure, applying some defensive spoils that resulted in only minor or no score for the Pioneers. A rock down back with eight rebound 50s.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow competed fiercely in the air in the first quarter but was unable to get his hands on the ball. He came to life late in the second term when he took a mark on the goal line and easily booted it through the big sticks for his first major. Callow got more involved as the game went on and in the third term, he took a couple of contested marks, along with some marks on the lead in the forward 50. He kicked his second goal in the final minute of the third term after clunking a tough grab on the lead. Callow ended up having a pretty imposing game after finding it difficult to get involved early on. He finished with two goals and 18 disposals.

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

Conforti was clean at ground level, gathering the loose ball and disposing of it by hand to a teammate on the outside. He laid a very impressive tackle in the third quarter and was given a free-kick. The passage of play didn’t result in a score for his team, but it was great to see his defensive efforts were rewarded. His fourth quarter was probably his best for the day, catching the eye when he drove the ball deep inside 50 to teammate Jack Ginnivan who goaled, putting the Pioneers up by five goals. He finished with 24 disposals and three tackles.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme found a bit of the ball across half-back and the wing. He was effective by hand and did the little things well, such as shepherding. He rarely fumbled and that was evident in the third term when he collected a front and centre crumb after the ball fell to ground from a marking contest down back. Occasionally, Worme was able to use his speed to weave through traffic before disposing of the ball successfully.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka was pretty dependable with ball in hand. He always found plenty of space, which gave him time to make the correct decisions. He spent the majority of the game playing across half-back, putting his raking right foot to good use. Schischka had a mammoth third term, gathering plenty of uncontested disposals around the ground and was one of the reasons for the Pioneers’ dominance. He accumulated 24 disposals (15 kicks) and six marks.

Geelong Falcons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Joe Lee

Oakleigh:

#23 Dylan Williams

The medium forward played a starring role, slotting five majors from nine disposals. His first goal came within the first minute of the game, snagging a classy goal on his trusty left boot from a tight angle. Was a consistent threat and is tough to match up on given his awkward size. Is very mobile and smart around goals, Williams positions himself very well. Slotted two goals in the first and two in the last and was a consistent presence up forward.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

The Oakleigh big man continued his recent form with a bag of four goals in another impressive athletic display. Finished with 10 touches to go with his haul of four, Ugle-Hagan was outstanding for the Chargers. Also had six marks and is piecing together a couple of fine weeks in attack for Oakleigh. Did miss a very gettable set shot early that would’ve given him five for the day but slotted a goal a minute later from the exact same spot to make up for it. Played a starring last quarter, bagging two goals and threatening to bring the margin out to triple figures.

#39 Reef McInnes

McInnes was dominant for the Chargers, highlighted by his two goals, 29 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s. The impressive display was a testimony to McInnes improved recent form and he was the best midfielder on the ground. With his draft stocks rising after outings such as the weekend, McInnes is one to keep an eye on for next year.

#73 Cooper Sharman

The tall forward slotted two goals from eight touches that included five marks. Took a nice contested grab early in the second, going back and converting the simple set shot with his sound shot for goal technique. Is a tantalising prospect given his size and athletic traits and did his draft chances so harm with his performance. Could win more of the ball around the ground but has only played two NAB League games this year. Nailed a crucial set shot from 45 metres out when Geelong was lifting, highlighting his class, poise and polish.

Geelong Falcons:

#36 Charlie Sprague

The Geelong over-ager played a lone hand up forward in trying conditions, slotting three goals from 12 possessions. Played as a key forward and used his strong frame to great effect. Was a reasonably quiet in the first half but came to life in the second, bagging most of his goals and providing a few headaches for Oakleigh defenders. Took a strong one on one contested mark in the second quarter and slotted the shot on goal.

#37 Oscar Henry

The athletic forward worked hard but was largely ineffectual in a tough day for Geelong forwards. Had to work up the ground for his kicks, finishing with a goal, nine touches and six marks. Did take some nice marks on the lead but was often on the wing or half-back line rather than his usual dangerous self inside 50. Had a really strong first quarter but drifted out of the game. Could’ve had two goals but was run down in the goal square after taking a courageous mark back with the flight.

#46 Henry Walsh

The Geelong ruckman was serviceable for his side, winning 26 hit outs and 11 disposals, showcasing his improved ability and impact around the ground. Walsh won a number of taps to advantage and was able to out-body and outmuscle Tom Graham due to his taller figure. Had a moment to forget in the second, handballing it to a teammate in trouble after a free kick which did show he has to work on his decision making and footy smarts.

NAB League Boys Round 13 wash-up: Cannons and Chargers go big

A TRULY mixed bag of results in Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition saw a couple of close contests and a couple of blowouts, with returning representative stars once again stamping their mark. While ladder-leaders Eastern still sit pretty at the top, Western put a dent in Sandringham’s top four hopes with an upset win – seeing the two trade places. Arguably the biggest surprise win belonged to Northern though, going clear in eighth with a win over second places Gippsland. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

 

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 4.4 | 12.5 | 12.7 (79)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.7 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Western: A. Clarke 3, L. Failli 3, A. Manton 2, H. White, W. Kennedy, L. Green, J. Horo.
Sandringham: C. Dean 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, B. O’Leary 2, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, K. Yorke, J. Worrell.

BEST:

Western: W. Kennedy, C. Raak, J. Honey, J. Horo, B. Ryan, A. Clarke
Sandringham: H. Ralphsmith, L. Carrigan, J. Voss, N. Burke, B. O’Leary, C. Dean

Returning stars and a final term flurry were not enough to see Sandringham over the line as the Western Jets held on to win by nine points and send the Dragons out of the top four. Before the visitors roared home, a stalemate ensued in the first term as either side mustered 3.2 apiece, with Sandringham going on to break the cycle and skip out to an eight-point half time lead. The Dragons’ purple patch did not last for long though, as the Jets flew out of the blocks after the main break to pile on a whopping eight goals as the wind picked up. Undeterred, Sandringham hit back in the last but to no avail – relinquishing their top four position to the Jets but maintaining a formidable percentage. The Dragons’ representative guns stood up despite the loss, with Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, five tackles, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, eight, one), and Louis Butler (23, five rebound 50s) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. The firepower of Charlie Dean, Hugo Ralphsmith and Blake O’Leary (all two goals) was not quite enough to outgun the eight goals between Western’s Aaron Clarke, Archi Manton, and bottom-ager Lucas Failli, as the Jets benefitted from some added efficiency in front of goal. Bailey Ryan (19 disposals, seven tackles) and Josh Honey (18, five marks) were the key ball-winners for Western, with ruckman Will Kennedy claiming best-afield honours against his former side for his 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hit-outs and one goal. Flying high, the Jets will get to enjoy a two-week break with back-to-back byes, while Sandringham will look to hit back against Dandenong in Round 14.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 7.2 | 8.6 | 8.8 (56)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.4 | 7.4 | 11.6 | 15.9 (99)

GOALS:

Gippsland: T. Fitzpatrick 2, J. van der Pligt 2, Z. Skinner, T. Baldi, M. McGarrity, J. Hume.
Northern: J. D’Intinosante 4, S. Brazier 3, R. Sturgess 3, L. Potter, B. Nikolovski, N. Long, A. Carafa, S. Philp.

BEST:

Gippsland: T. Hourigan, S. Berry, M. Hawkins, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, T. Rees
Northern: J. Davies, A. Carafa, L. Potter, R. Sturgess, J. D’Intinosante, C. Simonsen

The upset of the round came as Northern trumped the Gippsland Power by 43 points in enemy territory to go a game clear in eighth place. The Knights’ strength and flexibility across the ground proved the difference, with the likes of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess (three) and Sunny Brazier (three) all able to impact the game forward of centre with only around a dozen disposals each. After a very even first half that saw Northern lead by two points at the first two breaks, the Knights tightened the screws in defence to only concede the one goal after half time, while booting eight of their own to seal a big win. Adam Carafa and Sam Philp resumed their strong partnership in midfield to have 52 disposals between them, while Lachie Potter (23 disposals, one goal) was great on the outside and skipper Jackson Davies (23 disposals, eight rebounds) a rock down back. For Gippsland, Sam Berry continues to rack up possessions with another 21, followed closely by Tye Hourigan‘s 20. Jake van der Plight was also impactful with 19 disposals and two goals, with Tom Fitzpatrick Gippsland’s only other multiple goal kicker. Despite the loss, Gippsland remains second and will look to rebound against Tasmania on neutral territory next round. Meanwhile, the Knights will look to halt Murray’s top eight aspirations when they meet next time out.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.0 | 5.3 | 9.6 | 11.9 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 5.5 | 9.7 | 11.7 | 12.7 (79)

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

The Murray Bushrangers fell four points short of a remarkable second half comeback, going down to the ladder-leading Eastern Ranges in a tightly contested game. It was beginning to look elementary for Eastern early on as the Ranges put on 17 scoring shots to Murray’s eight to break to a 27-point half-time buffer. But the third term proved a breakthrough one for the Bushrangers, booting four goals to Eastern’s two to close within striking distance at just 13 points adrift. Another two goals to one was not enough to snatch the win though, with Eastern holding on for its ninth win from eleven games. While Joel Nathan was named best for the winners, Ben Hickleton (eight disposals, four goals) was efficient up the other end alongside Mitch Mellis (22 disposals, seven inside 50s, two goals) to make a profound impact. Zak Pretty matched Mellis’ disposal haul to lead the Ranges in that area, but was beaten out by Murray’s Jye Chalcraft – who led all-comers with 29. Ruckman Will Christie also stood tall with 19 disposals, eight marks, and 25 hit-outs, while Zane Barzen continues to mark everything (nine) and Zavier Maher (15 disposals, one goal) was also serviceable. The Bushrangers, who should cause some headaches for sides above them in the back end of the season, face Northern next for a chance to sneak into the eight, while Eastern hosts Oakleigh in a top four showdown.

 

CALDER CANNONS 4.2 | 9.3 | 10.4 | 17.5 (107)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.0 | 2.0 | 5.5 | 5.9 (39)

GOALS:

Calder: M. Fletcher 4, J. Sutton 2, H. Minton-Connell 2, J. O”Sullivan 2, N. Gentile 2, S. Paea 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, N. Stewart.
Dandenong: A. Williamson 3, W. Howe, J. Toner.

BEST:

Calder: J. Cardillo, S. Ramsay, M. Simpson, J. Sutton, C. Brown, N. Gentile
Dandenong: J. Toner, L. Williams, W. Bravo, P. Gerdan, R. Orchard, M. Gregory

Twelve goals at one end helped Calder to a comprehensive 68-point win over reigning premiers Dandenong at RAMS Arena, moving the Cannons above the Stingrays in the top eight. Seven final-quarter goals to nil really compounded the difference as the Cannons entered party mode late on, enjoying the wind advantage after Dandenong had managed three goals to one in the previous term. There simply was not enough firepower for the Stingrays, with bottom-ager Ashton Williamson claiming three of their five goals for the game and the effects of a stripped core showing as players were forced to perform out of position. Jack Toner stood up with 28 disposals and eight marks, while Lachlan Williams (23 disposals, five inside 50s) was good through defence and midfield, and Will Bravo (16 disposals, four marks) was also solid. For the winners, Mason Fletcher was outstanding up forward with his four majors and lead-up marking, while five other Cannons also managed to bag multiple goals. Sam Ramsay was prolific in the engine room with 32 disposals alongside Jackson Cardillo (27, nine tackles), while Curtis Brown (22 disposals, one goal) was effective off half-back and Ned Gentile (23, two) continues to be consistent. Calder will look to climb further up the table in its next fixture against Bendigo, while Dandenong will need to lift if it is to compete with Sandringham next round as both sides welcome back representative players.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.0 | 4.3 | 5.6 | 5.7 (37)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.4 | 3.7 | 6.10 | 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Callow 2, R. Mansell.
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 3, S. Mitchell 3, J. Dick-O’Flaherty 2, J. Rodi.

BEST:

Tasmania: M. McGuinness, J. Callow, O. Davis, O. Shaw, J. Barwick, S. Collins
Bendigo: A. Gundry, S. Mitchell, N. Walsh, J. Ginnivan, W. Wallace, R. Clarke

The Bendigo Pioneers got one back on the Tasmania Devils after a narrow Round 7 loss, this time running out 29-point winners on home turf. It was no easy task for the Pio’s, who overcame a slender half time deficit to run home strong. That came on the back of six goals to one after the main break, with Bendigo well and truly clicking into gear when it mattered most. Bottom-agers Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell each booted three goals to contribute two thirds of their side’s score, while Jake Dick-O’Flaherty claimed two to round out Bendigo’s multiple goal kickers. Sam Conforti found some good form to collect 24 disposals, while the Pioneer’s fourth goal kicker, Jeremy Rodi, had 23 touches and the James Schischka and Ben Worme again combined for over 45 disposals. Aaron Gundry was named best though for his 17 disposals and 24 hit-outs, while Matt McGuinness claimed the same honour for Tasmania – collecting a game-high 34 disposals, eight marks, and 11 rebounds. Bottom-agers Ollie Davis and Sam Collins were the next best with 19 touches each, while Jackson Callow dominated the air with 18 disposals, eight marks and two goals. With the two sides swapping ladder spots, Bendigo is set to face a firing Calder Cannons side, while Tasmania opens Round 14 against Gippsland.

 

GEELONG FALCONS 2.3 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.4 | 10.6 | 14.8 | 20.9 (129)

GOALS:

Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Lord, C. Karpala, O. Henry.
Oakleigh: D. Williams 5, J. Ugle-Hagan 4, T. Bianco 2, B. Laurie 2, R. McInnes 2, C. Sharman 2, T. Graham, J. Ayton-Delaney, T. Lovell.

BEST:

Geelong: C. Lazzaro, N. Gribble, C. Fleeton, C. Sprague, H. Whyte, O. Henry
Oakleigh: R. McInnes, D. Williams, J. Ugle-Hagan, T. Bianco, T. Graham, V. Zagari

All of Oakleigh’s top-end guns fired as the Chargers easily accounted for a depleted Geelong Falcons side by 87 points to see out the round. Returning co-captains Dylan Williams (five goals) and Trent Bianco (24 disposals, two goals) were fantastic, with a raft of bottom and top-age talents helping Oakleigh to their big win. Bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four goals) and Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) did their best to live up to the standard set by Williams and Bianco, with over-ager Thomas Graham (24 disposals, 23 hitouts, one goal) monstrous in the ruck and Kaden Schreiber handball-happy with 25 among his 29 disposals. For Geelong, Charlie Sprague‘s three goals were a shining light, while bottom-agers Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals, four rebound 50s), Noah Gribble (20 disposals, five marks), Cameron Fleeton (19 disposals, seven marks) and Henry Walsh (11 disposals, 26 hitouts) gave a glimpse of the future. Desperate for form, a meeting with GWV Rebels is next for Geelong, while Oakleigh will be red hot heading into its top four clash with table-toppers, Eastern.

NAB League Boys Round 13 preview: Representative guns return to action

WITH the national carnival come and gone, top-end NAB League regulars are starting to filter back into action, starting with Round 13. Sandringham’s inclusions will put the Dragons in good stead for a top four clash against Western, while Oakleigh and Northern also look well replenished coming into their respective fixtures.


WESTERN JETS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval

A well-stocked Sandringham Dragons line-up will be looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats when it faces fellow top-four side, the Western Jets to open Round 13. The Dragons are set to welcome back Vic Metro representatives Ryan Byrnes, Finn Maginness, Oscar Lewis, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Jack Bell, as well as over-ager Angus Hanrahan in one of the more star studded inclusion lines of any team this season. They join the likes of Hugo Ralphsmith, Charlie Dean, and Andrew Courtney from last week’s team, meaning over half of the Dragons’ Metro squad members will suit up for them as they gear towards full strength. Meanwhile, Western is also set to benefit from the conclusion of the national carnival, welcoming Emerson Jeka back into the side. He joins fellow inclusion and big man Aaron Clarke, meaning Will Kennedy is likely set to revert back to his usual ruck duties against his old side. While they gain good tall stocks, the Jets will be without Darcy Cassar for this clash, but should be able to cover their losses down back with Josh Kellett and Lucas Rocci in good form, while Eddie Ford and Josh Honey hold equal class up the other end. This will be a tough ask for Western given Sandringham’s regained midfield and defensive depth, on top of coming off a pretty dour defeat to Calder last time out. Expect the Dragons boys to come out hot after a down couple of weeks, as well as a heartbreaking loss for those who donned Metro colours against the Allies. Plenty to prove.


GIPPSLAND POWER vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday July 6, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Northern Knights will look to test an undermanned Gippsland Power unit, with a near-full strength squad named to travel up to Morwell. Metro back six regulars Ryan Sturgess and Lachie Potter bolster the Knights line-up – albeit starting on different lines – with Adam Carafa‘s inclusion set to see Josh D’Intinosante spend more time forward, while Nikolas Cox provides some versatility. Ben Major could spend some time down back with over-ager Sunny Brazier named at full forward, while 16-year-old Ned Long slots in as 23rd man. For Gippsland, Fraser Phillips is the only Country representative set to suit up this week, meaning the likes of Leo Connolly, Trent Baldi, and Jake van der Plight will have to continue to stand up alongside bottom-age gem Sam Berry as the Power’s major ball-finders. The home side will look to take full advantage of Northern’s extended break, with a trip to Morwell a tough ask coming off the bye, but a chance to refresh equally plays into Northern’s hands. The Power only just snuck home against a vastly inexperienced Geelong side last week, so will have to show some noted improvement across the four quarters to get the better of a relatively strong and more flexible Knights side. If conditions allow for it, this game could be an under-the-radar belter.


MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday July 6, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

Wins streaks are set to be broken as the Murray Bushrangers host ladder-leaders, Eastern Ranges on Saturday afternoon. The Bushies are slowly but surely making amends for a disappointing start to their season, winning their last three games to sit just outside of the top eight on percentage. On the other hand, Eastern have surpassed all pre-season expectations to sit first, boasting two wins over third-place Sandringham and their last loss coming against the second-ranked side, Gippsland in Round 6. The Ranges have the added advantage of fielding five Vic Metro representatives given they had the bye during Wednesday’s carnival action. Skipper James Ross, Lachlan Stapleton, Mitch Mellis, Jamieson Rossiter, and bottom-ager Connor Downie have all been named, making the Ranges look a pretty formidable opponent. Their pressure game across the ground will be key to victory here, with Murray coming off a 3.22 performance – albeit in wet and windy conditions. The Bushrangers will have to wait another week to regain their Country squad members, but the likes of Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Charlie Byrne have all shown solid form over the past few weeks. The dynamism of over-ager Zane Barzen will also be crucial as he again slots in at centre half-back, with Eastern’s tall strength up forward posing a big threat. They visitors look stronger across the board, but face Murray at a bad time as the Bushrangers are finally clicking into gear as the season hots up.


CALDER CANNONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday July 6, 2:15pm
RAMS Arena

Fresh off a win over top-four hopefuls, Western, the Calder Cannons will be looking to consign the Dandenong Stingrays to a fourth-straight defeat when they meet at RAMS Arena. The two sides had largely differing starts to the season, with Calder improving greatly through the middle-sector while the Stingrays are faltering after going undefeated until Round 10. The comparatively inexperienced Dandenong side features a couple of Vic Country Under 16 trial squad members with Patrick Gerdan and Miller Bergman again named, while Clayton Gay will again have to stand up in the absence of many key top and over-agers. Lachlan Williams is one Dandenong top-age gun to feature after his Country duties, named in the centre as opposed to his typical wing position given how depleted the squad is. For Calder, Sam Ramsay, Ned Gentile and Harrison Minton-Connell will look to lead the ball-winning brigade and take advantage of a weakened Dandenong engine room, with Mason Fletcher showing enough form up forward to be named there once again. Bottom-ager Campbell Edwardes slots into the back six next to Curtis Brown, with the magnets able to be shuffled around if need be. While the hosts are at a high point, they have met a lot of sides at ideal times – and this clash is no different. Dandenong have the talent to bounce back though, and should have a back end of the year we are more accustomed to.


TASMANIA DEVILS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Sunday July 7, 10:30am
Kingston Twin Ovals

Another tight tussle between the Tasmania and Bendigo is set to go down at Kingston’s Twin Ovals, with the Pioneers looking to make good on their after-the-siren loss to the Devils last time out. Both sides remain relatively steady coming off the national carnival, with only the usual suspects missing and making the ledger pretty even in that sense. Matt McGuinness is a key inclusion for Tasmania, named at centre-half back and set to join Allies representative Sam Collins as aerial dominators. Collins’ fellow Allies squad member Ollie Davis also remains in the heart of the side, with Jackson Callow making it a trio of dangerous bottom-agers for the Devils. For Bendigo, James Schischka and Ben Worme will look to mirror the efforts of McGuinness and Collins in their own defensive half, while Sam Conforti will look to show his own prowess as a bottom-ager. The Pioneers’ tall stocks take a hit with Josh Treacy out, meaning Braydon Vaz will have to play above his height and Aaron Gundry could spend some time forward. However the sides line-up, this looks a very even contest on paper and if the sides’ previous contest is anything to go by, this should be an very tight slog from start to finish, with Tasmania’s host status the only clear advantage to be had.


GEELONG FALCONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday July 7, 11:30am
Avalon Airport Oval

Geelong Falcons will be looking for leaders to rise when they play host to the Oakleigh Chargers, with the Falcons fresh off yet another heartbreaking defeat. It will be a tall order though, as some big ins all of a sudden have Oakleigh looking quite formidable after losing a raft of top-end talent to national carnival duties. Co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams slot in at either end, with bottom-ager Will Phillips joining over-agers Joe Ayton-Delaney and Cooper Sharman on the bench. Phillips’ fellow bottom-agers Sam Tucker, Lochlan Jenkins, and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan have been in fine form as Oakleigh’s makeshift spine, and should be a huge threat again in this game. The Falcons have some bottom-age talent of their own though, with Henry Walsh and Oliver Henry finding form alongside midfielders Gennaro Bove and Charlie Lazzaro. Charlie Sprague is the key inclusion, set to resume his forward partnership with Henry and add some much-needed experience and strength. The Chargers look to be taking no prisoners in their top-four tilt though, and have gone all-out in looking to break through this weekend. A win would not be enough to scrape Geelong off the bottom of the ladder, but would go a long way towards a confidence boost.

NAB League Boys Round 12 wash-up – 58 the top score in a wet weekend

TRYING conditions saw just two NAB League sides post more goals than behinds in Round 12, but there was still no shortage of exiting play with a couple of close games and upset victories. Oakleigh managed to get one back on Sandringham with a surging win to open the round, while GWV toppled the reigning premiers and Gippsland managed a massive come from behind win to highlight the weekend’s action.


SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.3 | 2.8 | 3.8 | 4.16 (40)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.4 | 1.5 | 7.8 | 8.10 (58)

GOALS:
Sandringham: A. Perkins, J. Le Grice , J. Florent, C. Dean
Oakleigh: J. Ugle-Hagan 3, T. Lovell 2, N. Stathopoulos 2, N. Guiney

BEST:
Sandringham: J. Le Grice , T. Milne, N. Burke, J. Lloyd, H. Ralphsmith, J. Voss
Oakleigh: R. McInnes, H. Mastras, C. Stone, J. Ugle-Hagan, L. Johnson, L. Jenkins

By: Joe Lee

A wasteful Sandringham Dragons squandered the opportunity to defeat a gallant Oakleigh Chargers, kicking 1.8 in the final term in a tight contest at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. Cold and blustery conditions meant skills and finishing were made trying, however Oakleigh willed themselves over the line with some strong tackling and defensive efforts led by Lachlan Johnson and Nicholas Stathopoulos. Oakleigh kicked away halfway through the third term, slamming home six goals and taking a commanding lead into the final break. An inspired Dragons outfit came out with vengeance in the last but their inaccuracy and inability to convert their chances cost them a victory. Failing to capitalise on ample supply from midfielders Hugo Ralphsmith and Jackson Voss (five inside 50s each), the Dragons eventually succumbed to Oakleigh’s superior class and polish in front of goal. Oakleigh power forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan slotted three goals and Stathopoulos two, with midfielders Reef McInnes (23 disposals) and Lochlan Jenkins (21 touches) working hard. For the Dragons, Ralphsmith (23 disposals) and rebounding defender Will Mackay (23 disposals, eight rebounds) were dominant forces in the misfiring Sandringham line-up. Oakleigh’s win places them as a strong contender for the finals, equalling Sandringham’s seven wins for the year.


DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.6 | 3.7 (25)
GWV REBELS 1.1 | 6.2 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)

GOALS:
Dandenong: J. Neal, W. Howe, N. Heath
GWV: M. Martin 2, H. Sharp 2, M. Burgess, N. Stevens, I. Grant, M. Jorgensen

BEST:
Dandenong: M. Gregory, C. Gay, J. Toner, P. Gerdan, R. Orchard, M. Bergman
GWV: M. Burgess, M. Martin, M. Herbert, P. Glanford, R. Polkinghorne, T. Mahony

By: Peter Williams

In a game unlikely to be revisited any time soon thanks to some horrific weather conditions – particularly in the first half – Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels snapped a five-game losing streak whilst handing Dandenong Stingrays their third straight loss. Making the trek down to Shepley Oval, the rain threatened to be a problem in the first half, before it became just that in the second half with plenty of wet weather football disposals on display. At the end of the day, it was the Rebels who took full advantage of the conditions, with a five goals to zero second term ultimately the difference in their 28-point victory over the reigning premiers. Both sides were missing top players thanks to Vic Country duties, but the likes of Mitch Martin (19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) and Toby Mahony (15 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s) doing their draft chances no harm with classy performances in a day where class was needed. The Stingrays looked to be in control of the match early, but failed to capitalise on their play going forward as the likes of Mitch Burgess, Jayden Wright and Nick Stevens had days out in defence, chopping off Stingrays’ attacks and combining for 17 rebounds. Burgess (20 disposal, two marks, four inside 50s, seven rebounds) was spectacular for the Rebels, while bottom-ager Stevens showed promise with nice skills out of defence. For the Stingrays, Clayton Gay (24 disposals, six marks, two inside 50s and four rebounds) played up the one end all day, while Jack Toner (25 disposals, four marks, five tackles, five inside 50s and two rebounds) was the Stingrays’ top ball winner. Brock Cliffe also stood out as a bottom-ager with 18 touches and 10 tackles, while Max Gregory continued his good form with 18 touches and three marks.


BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.5 | 2.5 | 3.5 | 4.6 (30)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.3 | 0.12 | 1.17 | 3.22 (40)

GOALS:
Bendigo: M. Lias, J. Treacy, B. Vaz, R. Clarke
Murray: C. Byrne 2, J. Boyer

BEST:
Bendigo: J. Schischka, C. Maxted, B. Worme, R. Wilson, N. Walsh, S. O’Farrell
Murray: Z. Barzen, J. Chalcraft, J. Hillary, H. Beasley, J. Boyer, W. Christie

By: Michael Alvaro

One of the more extraordinary scorelines proved just enough for Murray Bushrangers to topple the Bendigo Pioneers in trying conditions at Victoria Park, Echuca. The home side pulled away to a half-time lead of five points despite not being able to add to the 2.5 they managed in the first term, while Murray seemed to have misplaced its kicking boots as the Bushies posted an incredible 0.12 at the main break. The Bushrangers would eventually even the ledger despite further inaccuracy in the third term, adding 1.5 to Bendigo’s one-straight goal to set up a grandstand finish heading into the final turn. Having only managed a sole major in the three previous quarters, Murray finally converted multiple chances, booting 2.5 in the final term in response to Bendigo’s 1.1 to run out unlikely 10-point winners. Multiple Bushrangers were unlucky not to have come away with even bigger games than they already had, with the likes of Jye Chalcraft (33 disposals, 0.3), Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals, 1.4), Will Chandler (15 disposals, 0.3) and Ryley Bouker (15 disposals, 0.4) the biggest contributors to their side’s 22 behinds. Needless to say, cleanliness and class proved standout traits on the day, with over-ager Zane Barzen (19 disposals, five marks) and bottom-ager Charlie Byrne (18 disposals, 2.0) two of the more efficient movers on the ground. For Bendigo, James Schischka continued his solid form with a team-high 28 disposals and nine rebounds, with bottom-ager Noah Walsh (23 disposals), Country representative Ben Worme (21), and Riley Wilson (19) not far behind to also be among the best. The unlucky Pioneers remain in the bottom three with that result, set to face Tasmania next week on the Apple Isle. For Murray, their charge up the ladder will be tested in a clash against ladder-leader, Eastern at home.


GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 8.5 (53)
GEELONG FALCONS 3.4 | 5.6 | 6.7 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS:
Gippsland: S. Berry 3, T. Baldi, T. Rees, B. McAuliffe, Z. Reid, M. McGarrity
Geelong: C. Brauer 2, G. Bove 2, K. Skene, C. Harris, O. Henry

BEST:
Gippsland: S. Berry, N. Prowd, T. Hourigan, Z. Reid, T. Rees, B. McAuliffe
Geelong: M. Langan, H. Walsh, C. Page, K. Rayner, G. Bove, C. Karpala

By: Peter Williams

In a game that had to be seen to be believed, Geelong Falcons suffered another agonisingly narrow loss, falling away in the final term to lose to top four side, Gippsland Power by four points in nothing short of terrible weather conditions at Shepley Oval. If the Dandenong-GWV game’s ground conditions were bad, by the time these sides ran out, it was akin to an oval sized waterslide and it was reflected in the 120-99 tackle count in favour of the Power. Unfortunately for Geelong, the last quarter fadeouts continue to haunt the young side because there was no other way to put it – they were in complete control of the game, and fell short when it mattered most. When Gennaro Bove booted his second goal in the eighth minute of the third term, the Falcons led by 34 points. Even by the final break, the margin was 27 points, and only a disastrous last quarter could surely see the side that had booted two goals in three quarters, make up at least five goals in the final term when the weather was shocking. Seven minutes into the term, and Gippsland Power trailed by just nine points with three consecutive goals. Pocket rocket Sam Berry made it back-to-back goals for himself in the fifteenth minute when in the term he twice laid great tackles, won the free kick and converted the set shot. The Power hit the front three-and-a-half minutes later when Brandon McAuliffe kicked his first goal of the season – and was mobbed by teammates – before Charlie Brauer put some relief back into the Falcons fans, converting his second goal from three kicks. But if they thought that would be enough, it proved not to be the case with the unlikeliest of heroes – full-back Zach Reid – going forward and taking a terrific one-on-one grab and converting the set shot with just two minutes left of the clock. Geelong had it in the forward line when the siren rang out, but it was a heartbreaking loss for the Falcons, going down by four points. Berry was best on ground for his 20 disposals, 18 tackles and three goals, while Leo Connolly (20 disposals, two marks, six tackles and seven rebounds) and Trent Baldi (16 disposals, 13 tackles, two rebounds and one goal) were also impressive for the Power. For Geelong, Chas Karpala had a game-high 22 touches, 13 tackles and six inside 50s, while Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, three marks and seven tackles) and Clay Page (18 disposals, 19 tackles and three inside 50s) were also fierce defensively.


CALDER CANNONS 0.4 | 1.7 | 3.7 | 6.7 (43)
WESTERN JETS 0.3 | 0.4 | 1.8 | 2.9 (21)

GOALS:
Calder: M. Fletcher 2, J. Cardillo, N. Stewart, S. Paea, F. Gentile
Western: E. Ford, S. El-Hawli

BEST:
Calder: S. Ramsay, G. Thomas, B. Overman, C. Brand, J. Hotchkin, C. Brown
Western: C. Raak, J. Kellett, L. Rocci, A. Manton, L. Conway, W. Kennedy

By: Michael Alvaro

The Calder Cannons upset their traditional rivals, Western by 22 points in Sunday’s only fixture in a typically low-scoring slugfest at RAMS Arena. A goalless first term for both sides turned into a goalless half for the Jets, managing just four behinds as Calder posted 1.7 after struggling to make the most of their control of general play. Those worries were somewhat put to bed after the main break as the Cannons converted 2.0 late in the third term and looked on track for a win considering the low-scoring. The Jets were still very much in the contest though, and proved as much with a goal in the opening two minutes of the final stanza bridging the margin to just five points. The comeback was not to be, with Calder piling on a game-high three goals for the remainder of the term to run out comfortable 22-point winners in the end. Sam Ramsay and Curtis Brown again led the ball-winning stakes with 31 and 29 respective disposals to lead all-comers. Ben Overman was another to impress with his 17 disposals, six tackles and six rebound 50s, while Mason Fletcher was the game’s only multiple goal kicker with two from his 11 disposals and three marks. For Wester, Cody Raak was named best for his 16 disposals and six marks, but it was Daly Andrews (25 disposals), Josh Kellett (23), and Lucas Rocci (23) who were most influential with ball in hand. Bottom-ager Eddie Ford had 21 touches and kicked one of his side’s two goals, while Will Kennedy contributed 19 disposals and another 37 hitouts. The Jets manage to hold onto fourth place despite the loss, with a clash against Sandringham in their midst. Meanwhile, Calder faces Dandenong next week looking to hold onto a top-eight position.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 12

THE cream always seems to rise to the top in tough conditions, and it was no different in Round 12 of the NAB League as top-end talents stood out in low-scoring affairs. We cast eyes over all five games in the slightly shortened round, taking note of Vic Country, Metro, and Allies squad members, as well as some eye-catching bottom and over-agers, with all notes the opinion of the individual writer.


Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

The midfielder led the Dragons engine room, finishing his strong performance with 0.2, 23 touches, seven tackles and five inside 50s. Missed a set shot after making nice lead, 35-out on a tight angle in the first but was strong all day for the Dragons, using his run and carry and inside skills to push Sandy forward. Worked tirelessly and rarely wasted a possession, with few weaknesses in his game.

#12 Charlie Dean

The Vic Metro key forward had a reasonably quiet day by his standards, managing just one goal from three opportunities. Finished with 10 disposals and four marks, Dean showcased his mobility and skills below his knees for a big forward. Didn’t really impact on the game and was well held in the first half but did slot his only major for the day in the second. Can look to improve his work around the ground to impact the game more and provide an option down the line. Slotted a nice set shot goal from about 40m out after making a smart lead to space, highlighting his strong forward nous. Missed a tough shot right on half time and missed another in the four but lead well and presented a strong option inside 50 to get the opportunities.

#30 Andrew Courtney

The ruckman had a solid day, working tirelessly against the bigger Jacob Woodfull, capping off a trying effort with nine touches, 26 hit outs and six tackles. Whilst Courtney lacks polish around the ground with his skills, he does do some strong defensive work inside the contest and backs up his midfielders with his bigger frame. Did some nice things and won a number of hit-outs to the Dragons advantage, an area which he has improved throughout the year.

#33 Corey Watts

Started forward for the Dragons, the workmanlike big man did a couple of nice things but his disposal needs work. Won a down the ground free kick and had the chance to hit up a number of teammates inside 50 but kicked it straight out on the full in the second. Watts uses his frame well and leads to the right areas, with his improving forward craft adding another important string to his bow. Does provide a strong option down the line and out of defence, taking a couple of contested grabs off the Dragons kick-ins. Finished with 13 touches and a behind.

Oakleigh:

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

The big left-footer had a great day for the Chargers, slotting three goals in a sound forward display. Should’ve had four goals had he not missed a simple set shot in the second, but nonetheless was the dominant forward on the ground. Moves well and is quick off the mark for a big man but seemed to struggle below his knees slightly. Finished with 10 touches to go with his haul of three, Ugle-Hagan was solid for the Chargers.

#30 Sam Tucker

The Oakleigh swingman and Vic Metro Under 16 representative had a solid day down back, finishing with 11 touches, seven marks and four rebound 50s. Tuckers intercept marking was strong and he combatted a number of Dragons entries with his strong hands and mobile attributes. Moves really well and possesses clean skills but may need to work on his positioning and bodywork to raise his stocks.

#63 Jacob Woodfull

The blonde-haired ruck was a physical presence in the ruck, using his large frame effectively in contests both in the air and on the deck. A late hit on Jake Bowey was deemed a reportable offence in the second term but otherwise, the Chargers big man followed up his ruck work with some strong tackling and ground ball gets. Finished with 17 touches and 22 hit outs against Andrew Courtney, comfortably winning the battle around the ground. Works hard to help out his defenders and didn’t allow the Dragons to bomb it in long into their 50 in the fear that Woodfull would intercept.


Dandenong Stingrays vs. GWV Rebels

By: Peter Williams

Dandenong:

#8 Brock Cliffe

A bottom-age prospect with some nice tricks, including smarts and vision. He was able to set up Jai Neal for his goal in the first term and was busy in the quarter. He times his handballs well under pressure, and played a team-oriented role in defence, laying a block for a teammate rather than asking for the cheap handball. Against the momentum in the second term he won an important clearance, and looks to move the ball quickly in transition. He had a great kick down the middle considering the conditions, in the third term, going from half-back to half-forward.

#10 Clayton Gay

A talented bottom-age prospect, Gay spent the whole game up one end with two quarters in attack and two quarters in defence. He used the ball pretty well off his left foot across the first three quarters, and as the weather deteriorated, adapted to the wet weather footy and looked for distance. Whether it was a long bomb down the wing or keeping the ball in front of him to gain some meters for his side, Gay was prominent throughout. He took a few strong intercept marks when in defence and looked to take the game on when possible.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Was one of the Rebels best, particularly in the first half before a quieter second half. He looked composed through the stoppages and won it in close to keep it moving. At one stage he was able to stand up in a number of tackles and get his handball away, showing good hands under pressure. He laid a really strong tackle in the second term, and looked classy in terrible conditions.

#7 Mitch Martin

A class above for most of the day, Martin overcame a forgetful first five minutes to put together a dominant performance in the midfield before resting forward in the final term. His first few minutes consisted of a lookaway handball that missed, a free kick in the back and beaten for the ball on the wing after an awkward bounce, but once he settled in he was clearly the standout in terms of class. He used quick disposal going forward, applied great pressure and covered the ground well. He used the ball well by foot despite the windy conditions and was one of the few who could make something happen on the day. He booted two goals for the game, with two majors in the second term and almost a third, booting one of the ground and another from a snap off a step. As the weather deteriorated, Martin played appropriate wet weather football, though conducted a social experiment in how much he could get the ball to the line before being pinged for deliberate. The first couple of times he disguised it well, but the third time on the wing he was pinged for the deliberate, so instead he turned his attention to selling candy and did it a couple of times in the second half to kick into dangerous positions inside 50, before effectively resting forward in the last term.

#21 Nick Stevens

He was injured earlier in the season, but the talented Under-16 Vic Country representative was clean with his ball use and showed good hands under pressure in terrible conditions. He possesses a nice long kick, and was often tasked with the kickout duties. He tried to play on and take the game on more often than not, and benefited late when the opposition gave away a 50m penalty trying to stop him doing just that. Stevens applied good pressure on the kicker having a shot for goal inside 50 and forced a mistake by foot. Aside from an errant out-on-the-full kick in the third term thanks to the wind, he played a really solid game.


Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#19 Ben Worme

Slotted straight into the back six and brought some good heat in the contest, doing his best to bust through tackles and drive forward in the wet. He proved composed under pressure early in traffic, and also did well to push the ball out of bounds in a dangerous spot down back. Worme went on to accumulate well in the defensive half across the day, providing a good outlet to head on the outside but also competing really well to win contested ball. Did not always have a massive impact with his run or kicking, but played a good wet weather game.

#20 James Schischka

Provided a nice point of difference down back even if his style didn’t always suit the wet conditions. Started nicely with some good bodywork to keep the ball away from his direct opponent as it came to ground, and looked composed on the ball with his movement. While he did not always clunk the mark, Schischka’s intercept game got going in the back half, and he made a brave play to attack the ball at speed in the corridor to cut off a Bendigo kick forward. His aerial threat was a consistent theme throughout as he also popped up in the last term with a couple more flies, but again couldn’t bring the marks down. Struggled a bit by foot as many did with their ball drops, but looked much more comfortable by hand when sweeping up inside defensive 50.

#34 Will Wallace

Usually provides a few highlights but had to play a more subdued role down back, still managing to contribute well in the air with a couple of spoils from the side. Wallace’s impact came more obviously from his kick-ins and defensive rebounds, going for pure distance and unleashing on the run. He proved his understanding of the game as he attacked even more late on as Bendigo fell behind, but it was to no avail. Also made a brave smother after giving up the ball inside defensive 50 to prevent a goal in the final term, while positioning well in the goalsquare earlier to rush over a snap.

Murray:

#2 Charlie Byrne

The bottom-ager’s cool finishing in front of goal proved a game-winner as he calmly slotted two crucial majors. Both came on the back of his work rate from the wing – running well both ways to find the ball in either half of the ground. Byrne’s first goal was also his side’s opener, converting calmly on the wrong side for a left-footer to get the Bushies going in the third. His second came in the final quarter, slotting well on the run as he streamed into 50. That forward run is what proved most damaging as Byrne worked best in space, receiving on the outside and putting the ball into good areas.

#6 Will Chandler

Chandler assumed his usual position at half-forward, finding most of his ball inside the attacking 50. He waited down well from a high ball early to show his smarts and also poked a nice handball over the top to compound it. Chandler won a good amount of ground balls but couldn’t quite capitalise on getting it in good areas, missing a long-range snap in the final term and being caught on other occasions. Had a good duel late-on with Ben Worme.

#7 Zane Barzen

The athletic over-ager was named best for Murray, showing some of the promise from his bottom and top-age years. Utilised as a centre half-back, Barzen looked unfazed as anyone in the wet conditions when flying for marks and cutting off Bendigo’s attacks. He looks great in full flight and meets the ball at its highest point, clunking solid overhead grabs in the first and final terms. Barzen also rebounded well, penetrating long down the line and even taking a couple of kick-ins. He even snuck forward for a mark inside 50 in the third term, but his set shot fell short.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Was one of Murray’s with a lot of his work going unnoticed despite the bright green boots he opts for. The Draft Central Player of the Week nominee was a constant through midfield and dug in well at stoppages, pumping his legs through traffic to drive forward after hunting the ball. Chalcraft’s ability to pick up the ball cleanly off the ground was outstanding, somehow raking it up at pace in the trying conditions. The diminutive midfielder also bombed a few clearances forward when he finally got space, with distance paramount in the wet. His short kicking game looked a lot neater though, with his hands out of congestion also proving effective. Went 0.3 in front of goal in the only blight on a good game – under heavy opposition pressure for all three quickfire chances.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Continues to find consistency for the Bushrangers, and adapted well in this game with a move into the forward half. While Boyer’s goalkicking was slightly off, he still managed to snare a crucial goal late on to seal the game, finishing with a grubber along the ground under pressure as latched onto the ball inside 50. Boyer’s attack on the ball in the air early was solid, flying well but looking cleaner below his knees. His smarts in releasing the ball stood out, drawing in opponents to give his teammates more space when running forward. Found a good amount of the ball, with a lot of his missed shots on goal coming from snaps that fell short or missed completely. Could’ve ended with a massive game, but still contributed 27 touches, eight tackles, five inside 50s, and the lone goal.


Gippsland Power vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#7 Sam Berry

A match-winning performance by the small midfielder who put together a terrific four quarter performance. He showed great thinking under pressure with quick hands and was able to balance well between offensive and defensive work. He laid a massive amount of tackles, and booted three goals – all of which came from tackles. His first goal came in the second quarter, nailing the set shot with a Ben Brown-like run-up from 55m, while the last two came back-to-back at a crucial time in the last quarter, converting set shots from 40m and 30m out respectively. His last quarter was special and he is so strong one-on-one for his size.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly was the outside presence working well with Berry who had the inside covered. He used the ball to effect by kicking long and getting a number of important inside 50s, or to half-forward and giving his teammates a chance to score. He spread well and was able to keep the ball in front of him and paddle it out of bounds whilst under pressure.

#22 Zach Reid

The unlikeliest of heroes found himself kicking the winning goal from 25m out in the dying moments of the match. The consistent full-back went forward late in the game to be a point of difference, and he was certainly that, taking a terrific one-on-one grab straight in front, out-bodying his opponent. He slotted it and the teammates came from everywhere to celebrate. In the first three quarters he was his usual unflappable self in defence, using good hands and composure when in the back 50, laying some strong tackles, including one goal-saving one on Oliver Henry in the back pocket.

Geelong:

#4 Gennaro Bove

An aggressive small forward who tackled hard and managed two majors for the game was one of Geelong more impressive players across the course of the match. Bove burrows in and wins the footy, hunting the ball or the player with it, and kicked a goal from a 50m penalty in the first term, then a second one in the third term after working hard into space. He had a chance for a third prior to that conversion but sprayed it to the right.

#12 Noah Gribble

Held his own throughout the four quarters, winning early touches through flick handballs in close. He dropped into defence to help out his teammates, and was able to use the ball effectively under pressure. He had a flying shot on goal from the impossible angle against the boundary line in the second term, but missed. Gribble was clean around stoppages reading it well off the taps and got to the right positions. He also found himself in the middle of a few big tackles with little space to work with on the inside.

#37 Oliver Henry

Had a really strong first half before a quiet second half. He applied plenty of pressure to opposition defenders, and did well to win a one-on-one at ground level and keep the ball alive with the handball back into play. He took a great sliding mark inside 50 in the second term and converted the set shot – his only major for the low-scoring contest. Henry kept working hard and protected the ball drop with a mark a kick and a half out from goal, and almost had a highlight in the third term, dancing around an opponent but was run down from behind when trying to have a shot at goal.

#46 Henry Walsh

The dominant ruck on the ground, Walsh was too tall and held his ground well at the stoppages. He was quick with his hands to give it off to his running teammates, and while he did get caught flat footed once or twice, he had an influence at the stoppages, sometimes grabbing it out of the ruck. He had a shot on goal on one occasion but was mark deep in attack. Laid some strong tackles at ground level with good second efforts.


Calder Cannons vs. Western Jets

By: Ed Pascoe

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay was the clear best player on the ground with his run and effort through the midfield a key factor in Calder winning the game. His slick ball movement by hand was a real feature, as was his willingness to take the game on. Ramsay had a complete performance in the midfield winning the ball on the inside and outside while also putting on pressure to lay eight tackles for the game. Ramsay finished the game with 31 disposals – the highest for anybody in the game and it could have been more if he didn’t cramp up in the last quarter, missing the last few minutes.

#26 Mason Fletcher

Fletcher started the game in defence, often tasked with the kickouts and showing his lovely kicking skills that are reminiscent of his famous father, Dustin. Fletcher was moved into he forward line during the third quarter which turned out to be a game-breaking move, where he would kick two goals to lead all-comers on the ground. His first goal came from a strong contested mark at the top of the square in the third quarter and his second came in the last quarter, taking a nice lead up mark coming from the back of a pack and kicking truly from 30 metres out. Fletcher finished the game with 11 disposals and four rebound 50s.

Western

#3 Eddie Ford

Ford was the most dangerous forward for the Jets, proving a good option as a marking target and a player capable of creating something at ground level. Ford would only kick the one goal but how he kicked it was impressive – he lead up at the ball to take a mark and would win a free kick in that contest but he was quick to gather the loose ball and run to the 50 metre arc and slot a lovely running goal. Ford showed great aggression and agility throughout the game and finished with 21 disposals and the one goal.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey didn’t have the biggest game by his standards, failing to kick a goal and only finishing the game with 12 disposals, but he still showed his dynamic skill-set and was one of the Jets’ harder tacklers throughout the game. Honey had his best quarter in the third, getting more involved and tackling with intent. He had one huge tackle near the boundary that really caught the eye and it is that sort of intent when he doesn’t have the football that will make up for when he isn’t able to show his flash around goals. Honey also finished the game with five inside 50s showing his eagerness to attack and get the ball moving.