Tag: Northern Knights

Tenacious Snow takes the long road to her footballing goal

THE PATH less travelled by is a phrase often attached to the journey of budding AFL Women’s draftees. Well, how does Perth, to Singapore, to America, to Melbourne sound?

That’s the journey Northern Knights prospect Ashleigh Snow has embarked on throughout her young life, with an AFLW club potentially the next destination. The diminutive defender-turned-midfielder learned to play football through a school program during her seven years in Singapore, and says she “always wanted to play” having watched her brother and dad do the same.

“I went to an Aussie school, so they had a little program where I learned to play,” Snow said. “My brother and dad played so I just always wanted to play. I played there for two years and then came back to Melbourne and that’s where I joined my first girl’s team at West Preston.”

Snow entered the Northern Knights through its development program, before turning out six times throughout the region’s undefeated premiership season in 2019, and thrice more in 2020. Though injury kept her out of last year’s Grand Final team, Snow came back strongly as a top-ager.

Her form was enough to warrant a National Combine invite, something which Snow says was “unexpected” following the cancellation of this year’s NAB League season.

“In the year that Knights won the NAB League premiership, I missed out because of my injury which was a bit hard,” she said. “I went back this year and only got to play the three games, but I feel like I came back pretty (strongly) and got to show what I could do in those games.”

“I started playing midfield which was a bit different because I played (in the) backline for the last two years before that. I feel like I seemed pretty determined and was always going hard for the ball. In one of the games I even got a goal against Calder, which is a bit different for me, always being down back.”

“The draft, being invited to the combine, and having the interviews was actually really unexpected for me. I just thought ‘the season’s over and that’s it’. “But luckily enough I have a little gym in my garage so I’ve been doing circuits every day to keep my fitness up. So hopefully if I do get drafted I’ll be in alright shape for preseason.”

Lauded for her tenacity and toughness at the ball despite her size, Snow’s importance to the team has long been known to those who can see past the conveyer belt of stars Northern has produced of late. She comes from good pedigree as well, with her father, David a former WAFL footballer and 1996 Simpson Medal winner. The ‘daughter-of’ says her dad has long been one of her greatest motivators, along with outgoing Knights coach Marcus Abney-Hastings.

“My dad has a massive footy background and I just have to say, he’s the one person who’s non-stop motivating me,” she said. (He is) always asking me to go for runs, do workouts with him, and wanting to go for kicks. “When I don’t want to do any of that he’ll keep pushing me and he knows that in the long run I’ll be thankful that he made me do it.”

“Marcus has been the coach for the whole three years I’ve been (at Northern). I really like him and feel like he’s been the most supportive…  obviously all the coaches as Knights like Marcus and Nat Grindal, they’ve been a massive help. “They’ve always made me keep belief in myself and given me the confidence that I sort of struggle to have.”

The Knights’ affiliation with Carlton’s AFLW side saw Snow choose the Blues as her favourite women’s side, though her upbringing in Perth meant she grew up a West Coast Eagles fan. Heading into the draft, Snow says she will be watching alongside her family and boyfriend at home amid Melbourne’s lockdown, hoping to hear her name called out.

“My parents and friends (have) always supported me in life. My boyfriend I think is my number one fan, he’s proudest out of everyone,” she said.

The 2020 AFL Women’s Draft will be held virtually at 7pm AEDT on October 6.

Capable Chaplin knows believing is achieving

HER coaches know it, her teammates know it, anyone who has observed her journey through the NAB League pathway knows it, but only now is Maeve Chaplin realising that she truly belongs among the best women’s football has to offer.

The Northern Knights defender has come a long way since starting football at age seven; originally playing alongside boys, then moving to girl’s sides at West Preston Lakeside and the Darebin Falcons, while also advancing through Northern’s elite talent program.

As a middle-ager, Chaplin was part of the Knights’ undefeated premiership team, shining across half-back with her mix of physicality and class on the ball. An injury in Round 3 of her top-age campaign was unideal, though it would matter little in the grand scheme of things as the season would eventually be scrapped amid a global pandemic.

By her own estimation, Chaplin was “travelling pretty well” and was as fit as she had ever been. She was in the midst of a move into the midfield, joining co-captains Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald at the centre bounces and waxing well with the probable first-round draft talents.

While the 18-year-old and her teammates may have had plenty more to give in 2020, Chaplin says the break in play has allowed her to work on the mental side of her game.

“I definitely tried to use (the lockdown period) to my advantage and I really worked on myself mentally,” Chaplin said. “It was a big thing for me because I didn’t really have the time like I do now to just focus on myself. “It was a time for me to understand that I really do want to get far in footy and that I am prepared to play at a professional level. “In order to do that I really wanted to mature in those areas.

“I just wish I did believe in myself… but it’s something that I really want to work on and I have been working on throughout this isolation period. Just knowing mentally that I am good enough and I can get to that next level, it’s just all about pushing myself.”

The friendship of a Knight-turned-Bulldog who has also been part of the Darebin football family, Nell Morris-Dalton has helped Chaplin thrive. Chaplin says she has remained in constant contact with her former teammate throughout the lockdown period.

“A big (mentor) for me has definitely been Nell,” she said. She’s really helped, inspired, and guided me a lot throughout the season because we’ve got the same personality in a way. “I’ve been texting her quite a bit during isolation so she’s a really good friend.

“It’s pretty amazing to play with (the Northern Knights), they’re all so talented. “You really grow off each other and challenge each other, so it helps everyone get better at the end of the day. “Playing with them, you don’t really think about how good they are, they’re just more your friends.”

Maeve Chaplin moves through traffic

Northern’s cohesive team and a family-like atmosphere has certainly played a part in Chaplin’s rise. The aforementioned midfield move was one bought on by coach Marcus Abney-Hastings and talent manager Nat Grindal, allowing Chaplin to bring her defensive nous to a rather potent midfield group.

She says the move was somewhat of a natural progression from the defensive post she owned throughout 2019, though she still harbours hope of returning to half-back in future.

“It was kind of expected,” she said. “Nat and Marcus let me know that they were going to put me up into the midfield and get me a bit more of the ball which was good to have.

“I definitely brought some of my defensive traits into the midfield, using my bodywork, so that was a bonus. “I felt like in doing that, I helped Ellie and Jess play their best footy as well. “It was definitely a good move up the ground, it was fun.

“I would prefer to play on the half-back flank (at AFLW level) but playing in the midfield does come naturally to me just as much as the backline. “But I’ll obviously put my best effort in playing there and it’d be a really good opportunity.”

The versatile prospect, who models her game on Richmond defender Phoebe Monahan, has not only improved herself off-field, but has reaffirmed some of the improvements to be made through contact with AFLW clubs. While “feeding off” their directive, Chaplin has also put the onus back on the recruiters and coaches during their meetings.

“They have given me some things that I need to work on, or they’ve mentioned them and I’ve fed off them a little bit,” she said. “But I’ve been more self-directing, I’ve just told them what I feel like I need to work on and ask them how they’re going to support me and all that kind of stuff.”

“Obviously there’s a few things (to improve on). My aerobic endurance I definitely want to work on, I want to be the fittest that I can be because that was definitely me at the start of the year. “With the right support staff I can definitely get to that level again and even better than that.

“A few other things that I really want to work on are just my mentality, that’s a big thing for me. Just knowing that I am at that level physically to play, and getting myself there mentally as well.”

Outside of football, Chaplin is working through her Year 12 studies and hopes to move into either nursing or paramedicine next year. She sought to thank all the people at the Northern Knights for all the support and life lessons she has received from them, as well as her teammates Fitzgerald, McKenzie, Alyssa Bannan, Ash Snow, and Abigail Bennett.

“They’re all just really good teammates, I really love them.”

Sports mad McKenzie hoping to hit the ground running

SINCE bursting onto the scene with bags of goals as a bottom-ager in an impressive Northern Knights side, Ellie McKenzie has been touted as one of the leading AFL Women’s Draft prospects of her year.

Back then, in 2018, her performances were also tied to that of her older brother, Tom who spent a year on North Melbourne’s rookie list. The two would often run out on Preston City Oval within the same afternoon, donning the navy, black, and white in the formerly-branded TAC Cup competition. Their love of footy was moulded by a family “crazy about sport”, and McKenzie says her football has always been her “main passion.”

“I grew up being a pretty sporty kid,” McKenzie said. “My family loves sport so I grew up playing not just footy, but (also) cricket, I did some athletics as well, swimming, and gymnastics – just all over the shop really.

“Footy was always the main passion though. My brother Tom went straight to Auskick when he was about five and I looked up to him, I still do obviously. “I went along to Auskick as well, thought I’d give it a go and fell in love with footy from there.”

The potential number one pick started out in the Fitzroy Junior Football Club’s Under 10 boy’s team at just eight years of age, before moving into a girl’s team at 13, and eventually entering the elite talent pathway through Northern’s region. McKenzie says the experience of playing alongside boys has helped develop an edge in her skills, something which sets her apart to this day – along with a “peak” fitness level.

“I think the main thing that sets me apart is my kicking ability,” she said. “Obviously I’ve been playing for a long time and playing with the boys definitely helps that kind of skill. “I’ve been working really hard on my right foot too, I think that’s something that you don’t see much in AFL Men’s, let alone AFLW being able to kick on both feet. “If I keep improving that, I think that’s something that can get to an elite level as well.

“I think this was the first preseason that I’d been at the Knights where I didn’t have an injury. “I had gone through the whole preseason uninjured, I’d been training really hard, and I think that I’d gotten my fitness to a level that I’d never seen before, it was my peak level.”

While high flies and goals in bunches helped McKenzie gain early traction, she has since developed into quite the midfielder on the back of that fitness base. Clean hands, athleticism, speed, and penetration all also work to make up a well-rounded style, as the 17-year old looks to borrow the best traits from some of the game’s elites.

“I definitely mould my game on a few people,” she said. “Through the forwardline I’d probably say Katie Brennan. She’s just an elite kick, her leading patterns down forward are great, and her marking ability is something I try to emulate myself. “From the men’s I’d say Marcus Bontempelli. Just his ability to burst out of a pack and have such power and strength is something I also aspire to. “And Steele Sidebottom, his kicking ability on both feet is something I look up to and try to achieve myself.

“I like to say that I’m a pretty versatile player, that I can be thrown in almost all positions. “Half-forward has always been a spot where I feel comfortable at, where I can run up the ground and I think obviously the midfield this year I played well in as well. “I guess it’s up to the club that I get picked at.”

Speaking of, McKenzie has nominated the Vic Metro zone as her region of choice for the upcoming draft, allowing her to remain at home. The Hawthorn supporter says she has peaked at the draft order, but “just want(s) to get drafted” and make an immediate impact at the elite level.

“I definitely hope to be picked for the Round 1 game, that’s my aim,” she said. “I don’t think I’m looking to just ease myself in, I really want to hit the ground running and get straight into the team and impact it as well.

“Being able to play alongside people like Gabby Newton, Sarah (Sansonetti), Nell (Morris-Dalton) and Brit (Gutknecht), they’ve all been massive role models for me and I’ve really enjoyed playing alongside them. “I know that I can match the pace of AFLW because I’ve matched it with them, so it’s given me a bit of confidence there, and I guess the success that we’ve had was due to (having) such a strong connection.”

That connection continued into 2020, in a team which McKenzie led alongside good mate, Jess Fitzgerald. After an undefeated premiership season, the Knights co-captain says her side was on track for more finals success, while also putting her outstanding performances down to a mental “reset” after Round 1.

“I was happy with my first three games,” she said. “I think after the (Round 1) Calder Cannons game I had a really high expectation of what I wanted to get out of the game, so I had to kind of reset my mindset. “After that I was really happy with my Geelong Falcons game and my Dandenong game. I thought that I played well for the team and I showcased my skills at the same time. “I was happy with it and I know that the team were happy with the performances overall, obviously getting three out of three wins is something that you really want. “We were definitely on track to be in the Grand Final again this year and maybe even a premiership.”

Much of the Knights’ success has been put down by many, including McKenzie, to a culture of “family”. As much is clearly evident in McKenzie’s glowing reviews of fellow draft hopefuls Fitzgerald and Maeve Chaplin.

“They’re two of my best mates down at the Knights,” she said. “Jess (is) amazing, she’s really funny… but Jess is I think the most hard-working person I’ve ever met. “She’s so determined, she’s always there to pick up her teammates when they’re down, and I know for me she’s always been that positive kind of person on my shoulder, just making sure that I’m in a good headspace.

“Maeve, obviously she’s really charismatic and everyone loves her down at the Knights. “But I think something that a lot of clubs and a lot of people don’t see is that she’s really able to flip the switch and be serious when it comes to a game.”

The pair were among plenty of people McKenzie sought to thank.

“I’d love to thank my family, they’ve always been there for me over the last 10 years I’ve been playing footy,” she said. “They’ve always supported me and not really looked at me as a girl playing footy, but just a person playing footy, an individual.

Nat (Grindal), Marcus (Abney-Hastings) and all the coaches down at the Knights, they’ve been amazing for me and the club. I’m so happy we were able to achieve such success there.

“Everyone at my school has always supported me as well, and all my coaches throughout my junior career have been a massive help.”

The nervous wait until the first name in the 2020 AFL Women’s draft is called out comes to an end on October 6, with McKenzie right among the frontrunners to land at Richmond with pick one.

Knights star Bannan leaves it all out on the field

BUDDING AFL Women’s draftee Alyssa Bannan came into her top-age year looking to “put everything out onto the field with every game.” Little did she, or any of her fellow NAB Leaguers know that their season would be cut short to just three games, but an increase in work-rate, work ethic, and intensity certainly payed off for the Northern Knights key forward.

“I was actually very proud of how I went,” Bannan said. “Knowing that this was my last year as a top-ager and it was my opportunity to get drafted, I went out thinking that I had to play my best game, every single game. “How I felt coming off the field definitely made me think that I did myself proud, did my family proud, and did my friends proud with how I played.”

Nine goals in three outings, including a bag of five in the season-opening Grand Final rematch goes a long way to instilling such pride. It even saw Bannan shift her original end goal of being drafted, to being selected within the first round. But more significantly than simply being a great player on-field, the 18-year-old is determined to prove her worth as a quality person, off it.

“It’s definitely not so much about being a good player on the field, but also being a good person off the field,” she said. “I’ve found that clubs have been very big on not only being a very skilful player, but being kind, being caring, being motivated, and that’s what has been the focus throughout the year.”

Alyssa Bannan gets a kick away during this year’s NAB League season

The break from football has somewhat proven a blessing in disguise. While Bannan admits the early unknown was “difficult”, she says the time off has allowed her to find a greater balance in life.

“At the start it was definitely very difficult not knowing if we were going to be able to finish off our season,” she said. “But I think having this break has allowed me to develop individually on aspects of my game that I wouldn’t normally focus on, such as my mental heath with wellness sessions and being able to (practice) mindfulness. “Although it has been disappointing not being able to finish, I’ve definitely been able to work on those different aspects of my life to balance it out.”

Having played a key part in Northern’s unbeaten NAB League premiership last year, Bannan has risen through the ranks alongside some of the greatest players the competition has seen. Namely, 2019 captain and current Western Bulldogs rising star Gabby Newton has had a major impact on the Knights’ no. 6, helping establish a healthy and competitive environment to improve in.

In line with the standard such players set, Bannan says she also sought to become a leading figure in her side’s setup.

“Having played alongside Gabby Newton and personally getting to know her, her qualities and attitudes as a player have definitely been something that I look up to,” she said. “Her teamwork, her (desire) to do really well and continue to improve are definitely qualities that really strike home to me as ones I want to present.”

“The new role as a top-ager really made me want to lead and present myself as someone who people can look up to and can think ‘She’s a really good player, I want to aspire to be like her.’ That’s been my overall goal throughout, especially this season.”

The Northern Knights celebrate their 2019 NAB League premiership

Bannan, a Carlton supporter also looks up to AFL Women’s trailblazer Tayla Harris. If a player comparison is what you are after, an easy link can be made between the two high-flying forwards.

“Tayla Harris is a big player who I wanted to model my game style on,” Bannan said. “Playing in similar positions, having a similar style of play, she’s definitely been a player that I really look up to and who I would like to emulate when I hopefully get to play AFLW.”

Football has also impacted the youngster in terms of her other potential career options, too. As she completes her Year 12 studies, Bannan has one eye on a vocation in the sporting realm, helping athletes get the best out of their game. It is a theme she says her football career has helped bring out.

“Sport is definitely on the list,” she said. “I’d love to do anything to do with strength and conditioning, high performance, even if it’s performance analysis. “Just improving players and their performance, because that’ll definitely help me see how to improve my performance as well. I think footy’s definitely brought that side out in me.”

With her first round draft dream in tow, Bannan is seeking to hit the ground running once her shot at the big-time is sealed, out to prove not only to herself and clubs, but to fans that she is “on the field for a reason.” The Northern Knights graduate also sought to thank the “long list of people” to have influenced her footballing journey; from her supportive family, to her coaches, teammates, staff, and everyone in between who helped her get to where she is.

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Northern Knights vs. Swan Districts

OUR next All-Star Team battle is the final one of the Round of 16 between a Victorian club and a West Australian club, in the Northern Knights and Swan Districts. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were AFL games record holder, Brent Harvey (Northern Knights) and Richmond full-back, Alex Rance (Swan Districts).

TEAMS:

These clubs are seeded fifth (Northern Knights) and 12th (Swan Districts) respectively, forming another Round of 16 clash in our draw. The winner will qualify for the quarter finals, set to face the Murray Bushrangers/Oakleigh Chargers.

STRENGTHS:

The Knights have a really underrated squad when it comes to this series simply because there are not too many weaknesses. The Knights’ spine is A-grade quality from the key defenders in Simon Prestigiacomo and Michael Hurley, to the key forwards in Anthony Rocca and Lance Whitnall. Though that is not to take anything away from the midfield with Marcus Bontempelli, Trent Cotchin and Adam Simpson a really well balanced core with different strengths.

For the Swans, they have an elite starting midfield. Nic Naitanui in the ruck, with Stephen Coniglio, Michael Walters and Andrew Embley at the stoppages, you would back them in to win the midfield battle. Up forward, the likes of Charlie Cameron and Jeff Garlett would create havoc at the feet of their key forwards, while Lewis Jetta‘s elite kicking and Rance’s intercepting ability means they have some strong players across the field.

WEAKNESSES:

There are not really any weaknesses with the Knights. If you had to be picky you could argue the lack of wingers, given Leigh Montagna and Paul Licuria are more inside ball winners, and while both Blake Caracella and David Zaharakis could play on the wing, it leaves the forward line a little short. Overall though, the depth is pretty sound.

For the Swans, it is that depth and little pockets in different parts of the field where they just fall short. They could match it with the Knights in the midfield, but outside of that, they would be stretched in different areas of the field.

SUMMARY:

The Knights would be favoured in this one for a bit more balance across the ground. Swan Districts has an elite midfield, and some star talent around the ground, but the depth of the Knights would be a bit too much.

Who would you pick?
Northern Knights
Swan Districts
Created with Quiz Maker

All-Star Team of the AFL Draft Era: Which club is the best of the best?

EVERY year, a new crop of AFL Draft talents rise up and make waves at AFL level. Some clubs such as Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons are referred to as ‘footy factories’. Others are less well known, but nonetheless vital in providing players with their start to the AFL.

Over the past couple of months, Draft Central has gone through all of the NAB League, SANFL and WAFL clubs and tried to determine the best 24-player squad for their respective clubs. The captains and vice-captains were determined by the public through Instagram voting. Now, it is up to the public to decide which All-Star Team is the greatest of the lot. That’s right, the 30 teams from Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia are going head to head in a knockout draw.

Which teams are competing?

NAB League [12]: Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Dandenong Stingrays, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons, Western Jets
SANFL [9]: Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, Port Adelaide, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens
WAFL [9]: Claremont, East Fremantle, East Perth, South Fremantle, Peel Thunder, Perth, Subiaco, Swan Districts, West Perth

How will it work?

Each day at 10am, we will publish the two All-Star Teams of the AFL Draft era, and the public will be able to vote through the article, Facebook and Twitter, with the overall winner moving through to the next round.

Given there are 30 teams, two sides who we have picked out as the top two seeds – East Fremantle and Geelong Falcons – will have the bye in the opening round, with the other 28 teams seeded appropriately similar to the All-Star Player voting (3rd against 28th, 4th against 27th etc.).

Who is up first?

The first All-Star Team battle is between a couple of metropolitan sides who we have seeded 16th and 17th in the draw. They both have some absolute elite stars, but Calder Cannons and Western Jets will begin the voting on Monday. They will be followed by the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges on Tuesday, before a cross-state clash sees third seed Port Adelaide Magpies tackle Peel Thunder.

Classic Contests: Coffield winner sees Knights sink the Stingrays

Featured Image: Robert Prezioso/AFL Media/Getty Images

CLASSIC CONTEST

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Dandenong Stingrays and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017, when the Knights hosted their county counterparts in an early-season heart-stopper.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 6
Saturday May 6, 10:30am
Preston City Oval

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 0.1 | 5.3 | 6.3 | 10.9 (69)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.6 | 5.7 | 7.12 | 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Northern: J. Shea 4, N. Coffield 2, J. Petruccelle, S. Binion, O. Stapleton, B. Gillard
Dandenong: 
T. De Koning 3, J. Nanscawen 3, R. Piper, L. Young, H. Clark

BEST:

Northern: J. Shea, J. Petruccelle, O. Wilson, S. Binion, J. Grace, M. Andrews
Dandenong: 
A. Paterson, T. Murphy, J. Davies, T. Dekoning, B. Williams, W. Hamill

Draftees in action:

Northern: Nick Coffield, Jack Petruccelle
Dandenong: Hunter Clark, Tom De Koning, Tom Murphy, Lachie Young, Sam Fletcher, Bailey Williams, Will Hamill

>> Scouting Notes: 2017 TAC Cup – Round 6

There wasn’t much splitting the Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays as they readied to face-off in Round 6 of the 2017 TAC Cup season. Both regions sat comfortably in the top eight with 3-2 records, but were searching for their first set of consecutive wins having struggled to string together consistent form to that point. Barring a draw, one of the two sides would do so in this game.

A bunch of top-end junior talent missed out on taking to Preston City Oval for the clash, with Northern going in without Patrick Naish and Tom McKenzie, while the likes of Aiden Bonar, Luke Davies-Uniacke, and Oscar Clavarino were among Dandenong’s glaring top-age absentees. Still, quality remained in the form of Nick Coffield and Jack Petruccelle for the home side, with Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning among the most promising Stingrays to feature in the line-up.

Boasting arguably a greater depth of talent, the Stingrays sought to take toll as they began proceedings kicking towards the slightly advantageous end. Two majors was the best they could manage from eight scoring shots, though keeping Northern goalless helped to build a handy quarter-time buffer. After breaking five goals ahead in the second term, that lead was slashed in the as Northern piled on its first five goals to remain just four points adrift at the main break.

The game began to close up a touch in the third period as Dandenong looked to consolidate. The Stingrays boasted a 15-point lead at the last break, and stretched it to 21 in the final term, but the Knights weren’t done yet. Having only managed six goals across the first three quarters, Northern sunk home four late majors to snatch a memorable home victory, with Coffield swinging forward to claim the winning goal. Pressure machine Ollie Wilson also stamped his impact, with the most important of his 11 tackles coming in the dying stages as his Dandenong opponent ran into an open goal.

Jamison Shea was named best for his four-goal performance in the navy, black, and white. Petruccelle was lively with 20 disposals and a goal, while Coffield finished with two majors from 22 touches, and the likes of Mitch Andrews (32 disposals, 12 marks) and Braedyn Gillard (23 disposals, 10 tackles) also made an impact. Angus Paterson was Dandenong’s best with seven marks down back, followed closely by the likes of Tom Murphy (29 disposals) and De Koning (three goals). Fellow draftees Bailey Williams (19 hitouts) and Will Hamill were also named among the best, while Clark racked up 34 touches and laid seven tackles in the loss.

After finally claiming consecutive wins, the Knights would go on to add just three more for the remainder of the season. They finished eighth at 7-10-1, losing convincingly to Oakleigh in their elimination final dig. Dandenong (12-6) improved to third come the end of the regular season, and while the Stingrays pulled off a terrific finals win over Eastern, they were knocked out by eventual premier, Geelong one game away from the Grand Final.

Classic Contests: Bushrangers scrape into the eight with narrow win over Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the sides locked horns in the final round of the home-and-away season.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 17
Saturday August 24, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 5.0 | 5.4 | 7.8 | 9.10 (64)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.5 | 5.7 | 6.10 | 8.13 (61)

GOALS:

Murray: J. Schache 4, M. King, D. McDonald, J. Impey, N. Holman, K. Turner
Northern: H. Curnow 2, L. Hunt, M. Haynes, S. Peet, C. McCabe, W. Murphy, B. Lennon

BEST:

Murray: K. Turner, D. Howe, M. Gibbons, J. Schache, N. Holman, J. Impey
Northern: B. Lennon, L. Hunt, H. Curnow, J. Short, M. Bontempelli, J. Potter

Draftees in action:

Murray: Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, Jarman Impey, Max King, Daniel Howe, Kayne Turner, Josh Schache
Northern: Marcus Bontempelli, Ben Lennon, Jayden Short, Jason Castagna, Kyle Langford

The scenario was simple for Murray heading into the final TAC Cup round in 2013; beat the fifth-placed Northern Knights, and you make finals. Sandringham was lurking just two points adrift, and would have the chance to capitalise on any slip-up from the Bushrangers in the weekend’s final fixture. With the fate of their season in their hands, the country region delivered at the death.

Looking at the form guide, one could hardly be blamed for counting Murray out, as it would have to halt a three-game losing skid against a higher-ranked opponent just to guarantee a post-season spot. Northern had produced the goods towards the back-end of the season too, coming in with wins in six of its last seven outings. Both teams were at relative full-strength, with a total of 12 future AFL draftees taking the field – split seven to five in Murray’s favour.

Out to prove their credentials, the Bushrangers slammed home five-straight goals in the opening term to signal their intentions. Northern remained in the hunt, but could only manage 2.5 from its superior weight of scoring shots. That factor would take toll in the second period, as the Knights booted three unanswered majors to take a three-point advantage into the main break.

The less-than one goal swing was reclaimed by Murray heading into the final turn, leaving everything to play for across the remaining 25 minutes. Knowing full well of the finals ramifications, Northern made it tough for the hosts and even outscored them, but was unable to get back on top as Murray held on to win by three points. Both sides booted two goals each in the final term, making for a grandstand finish.

An incredible four goals from 16-year-old talent Josh Schache proved massive for Murray in the steady-scoring affair, but it was Kayne Turner who was adjudged the victors’ most valuable player. All six of the Bushies’ best players went on to make the AFL grade, as Daniel Howe, Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, and Jarman Impey joined the aforementioned pair. Top-age gun Ben Lennon was recognised as Northern’s best player, with Jayden Short and Marcus Bontempelli also among the action.

Despite the result, Northern would go on to have the better post-season run of the two sides; beating Gippsland in a week one elimination final, but going down to eventual premier, Eastern in the semis. Murray would immediately bow out of finals despite boasting a stacked squad, losing to Western by nine points in their knockout dig.

Classic Contests: Short stands tall as Northern takes out Tasmania

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 18 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Northern Knights and Tasmania Devils. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2014, before Tasmania returned as a full-time team, and relive when the two sides clashed at Preston City Oval.

2014 TAC Cup, Round 10
Saturday June 14, 11:00am
Preston City Oval

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 4.1 | 8.7 | 10.11 | 13.14 (92)
TASMANIA 2.4 | 4.7 | 7.9 | 7.12 (54)

GOALS:

Northern: B. Jordan 3, W. Murphy 2, L. Hunt 2, J. Gresham, J. El Moussalli, K. Malone, K. Declase, B. Fiorini, S. Switkowski.
Tasmania:
K. Pitchford 2, B. Sharman, P. Bellchambers, M. Rainbird, A. Dickenson, J. Watts.

BEST:

Northern: J. Short, W. Murphy, J. Gresham, S. Switkowski, B. Jordan, A. Di Paolo
Tasmania:
A. Dickenson, C. Hislop, L. Reynolds, T. Jones, P. Bellchambers, J. Johnson

Draftees in action:

Northern: Jayden Short, Brayden Fiorini, Jade Gresham, Sam Switkowski, Tyrone Leonardis
Tasmania: Josh McGuinness, Josh Watts, Ryan Gardner, Jay Lockhart

Tasmania’s part-time TAC Cup duties in 2014 pitted them against the Northern Knights for a clash at Preston City Oval in mid-June. Formerly the Mariners and not yet the Devils, the Tasmanians donned the Map for their four-game stint in the Victorian competition. A loss to Dandenong in Round 8 had them sitting 0-1, while Northern were out to snap a four-game losing run and improve on its 2-7 record.

Timing would see the Knights go in without some key personnel, with the likes of Jason Castagna and Kyle Langford absent along with key talls Reece McKenzie and Ivan Soldo. It meant Jayden Short was left to lead a solid core of top-agers and promising bottom-age fleet for the Knights on home turf. Tasmania was able to field some promising talent of its own, most notably in the form of 2014 draftees Josh McGuinness and Josh Watts, as well as future AFL products Ryan Gardner and Jay Lockhart.

Despite managing one less scoring shot in the opening term, Northern showed its knowledge of the home conditions to make the most of its chances. 4.1 to Tasmania’s 2.4 gave the Knights a handy buffer, which was only extended to an even four-goal margin at half-time as they piled on a further four majors in term two.

While the visitors got the better of the third term with three goals to Northern’s two, it seemed they had little left in the tank. The Knights would take advantage of the scoring end to kick away to victory, keeping Tasmania goalless in the final period while prettying up the final margin to come out 38-point winners at 13.14 (92) to 7.12 (54).

In what was the four-quarter effort the Knights were after all season, Short was named best afield for his 28 disposals, five marks, and six tackles. Jade Gresham (21 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Sam Switkowski (17 disposals, five tackles, one goal) were also named among Northern’s best, and Bailey Jordan booted three goals. Ashton Dickenson was adjudged Tasmania’s most valuable player for his 14 disposals and four marks, follwed by Caleb Hislop (31 disposals).

The Knights would go on to add just three more wins to their tally in the back-end of the season, landing in 10th spot with six wins and 11 losses. Tasmania’s four-game cameo ended with a 1-3 record, but it was capped off in style with a win over North Ballarat in Round 16.

Classic Contests: Mozzie’s last minute magic guarantees draw

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 14 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Gippsland Power and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind the clock back to 2018, when Gippsland Power hosted Northern Knights in Morwell, and by the end of four quarters, neither side could be split.

2018 TAC Cup, Round 4
Saturday April 21, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

GIPPSLAND POWER 1.8 | 2.3 | 6.5 | 10.6 (66)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.1 | 5.4 | 7.4 | 10.6 (66)

GOALS:

Gippsland: I. Mosquito 4, J. Smith 2, R. Baldi, M. McGannon, A. Young, T. Hayes.
Northern:
S. Brazier 4, K. Agosta 2, J. D’Intinosante, B. Gillard, R. Sturgess, R. Bowkett.

BEST:

Gippsland: I. Mosquito, K. Reid, R. Sparkes, J. van der Pligt, B. Smith, M. McGannon
Northern:
B. Gillard, R. Sturgess, L. Potter, S. Brazier, T. Hallebone, R. Gardner

Draftees in action:

Gippsland: Irving Mosquito, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, Leo Connolly, Noah Gown
Northern:
Sam Philp

An early season clash out at Morwell saw Gippsland Power take on Northern Knights in Round 4 of the 2018 TAC Cup season. The Power had a host of talented bottom-agers who were already starring for the side, and had started the season with a 2-1 record to sit third on the table. They went in as strong favourites at home against a hardened Knights outfit that was one win from three games, sitting eighth on the table.

The early going belonged to Northern Knights as skipper, Braedyn Gillard booted the opener just two minutes into the game, and then Kye Agosta added another six minutes later to put his side up by 10. The lively Irving Mosquito would kick the first of four goals in the game late in the term, giving his team some confidence going into the second quarter.

Once again though, Northern had the upper hand in the next term, booting three of the four goals and racing out to a 19-point advantage by half-time. Josh D’Intinosante and Ryan Sturgess were both having big games, while Josh Smith was looking strong in attack for the Power. Trailing at half-time, Gippsland burst out of the blocks in the second half with Riley Baldi, Matt McGannon and Mosquito booting consecutive goals. The latter of the trio levelled the scorers momentarily until back-to-back goals from Sunny Brazier handed the visitors a 12-point buffer with five minutes remaining.

With only a couple of minutes left in the term, Mosquito found the goals yet again, and not for the last time in the game, would have a say deep in red time. At the final break, the home team’s deficit was a measly five points. The first goal in the final quarter would be crucial and up stepped Brazier to match Mosquito’s trio of goals, giving his team an 11-point advantage. That would not last long however, with Tyrone Hayes scoring, then Smith putting his team in front and Alex Young adding some extra incentive. After a few misses from Northern, the goal hurt as the Power led by five.

Agosta came to the rescue midway through the term with a goal, and soon Brazier popped up for his fourth, and the Knights trailed by seven points with 11 and a half minutes remaining. The last 10 minutes were tension-filled as both sides tried to get the upper hand, but the Power kept attacking and when they scored a crucial behind, the deficit was just six points and everyone knew what could be on the cards.

It looked for ages like the Knights would hold on and score a terrific away victory, but in the dying moments with just 22 seconds left on the clock, that man Mosquito popped up and found a way with a terrific effort in the pocket to drill it home and create something out of nothing for his time. The scores were level, and with no time on, the siren sounded not long after to signal a draw and the teams would split the points.

Mosquito was named best-on for the Power thanks to his crucial four-goal outing which accompanied 15 disposals, five marks, nine inside 50s and five tackles, while Kyle Reid was instrumental down back clunking nine marks and seven rebounds from 20 disposals. Ryan Sparkes (28 disposals, six marks and three tackles), Jake Van Der Plight (27 disposals, seven marks and 11 tackles), Brock Smith (14 disposals, three marks and nine tackles) and McGannon (18 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles and a goal) were the other bests for Gippsland. Of future draftees, bottom-agers Fraser Phillips (15 disposals, one mark and three behinds) and Leo Connolly (14 disposals, five marks) both impressed, while top-age key forward Noah Gown worked hard for 14 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

Gillard led the way for the Knights, picking up 25 disposals, five marks, eight clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Sturgess had a massive day out racking up 29 disposals, 10 marks and four rebounds, as well as capitalising with a goal. Harrison Grace (21 disposals) and future Blue, Sam Philp (21) both had big days out, whilst Brazier booted four goals from 18 touches and seven marks. Stefan Uzelac had seven rebounds with 19 touches and eight marks.

Gippsland Power would finish the season in second, reaching a preliminary final before bowing out at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers to the tune of 93 points, while Northern Knights finished eighth but lost to Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in a Wildcard Round clash.