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Comprehensive 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final Preview

IT is the equivalent of Christmas Day for the TAC Cup competition, with the two best teams for the year facing off in a decider. We have the clear benchmark all season, in the Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the red-hot Oakleigh Chargers, who have been in sensational form since all their school kids returned to the team. We take a look at the big game from multiple angles in our Ultimate Preview of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

 

2018 SEASON REVIEW

1. Dandenong Stingrays – 15 wins, 1 loss, 211%, 60 points
3. Oakleigh Chargers – 10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 151%, 42 points

HEAD TO HEAD

R5: Oakleigh Chargers 11.6 (72) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 9.12 (66) at Warrawee Park
R9: Dandenong Stingrays 13.17 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 6.4 (40) at Shepley Oval

CHANGES SINCE ROUND 5 THRILLER*

*Including extended benches

Dandenong:
IN: Sam Fletcher, Hayden Young, Toby Bedford, Finlay Bayne, Mitch Riordan, Daniel Frampton, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan, Matthew Cumming, Sam Sturt
OUT: Jake Carosella, James Hickey, Jarrod Smith, William Geurts, Sam De Koning, Bailey Angwin

Oakleigh:
IN: Will Kelly, Noah Anderson, James Rowbottom, Matthew Rowell, Kyle Dunkley, Lucas Westwood, Trent Bianco, Bailey Wraith, Will Golds, Jack Ross, Matt Warren, James Jordan
OUT: Sam Harte, Lachlan Bugeja, Xavier Fry, Matthew Fewings, Ben Silvagni, Kyle Viccars, Josh May, Daniel Scala, Lachlan Harry, Sam Elliot

 

WHO HAS COMBINE INVITES?

National:

Dandenong Stingrays [6]: Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams
Oakleigh Chargers [7]: Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Will Kelly, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, James Rowbottom

State/Rookie Me:

Dandenong Stingrays [10]: Stephen Cumming, Sam Fletcher, Jake Frawley, Matthew Gahan, Lachlan McDonnell, Jamie Plumridge, Mitch Riordan, Bailey Schmidt, Jai Taylor, Lachlan Young
Oakleigh Chargers [6]: Joe Ayton Delaney, Atu Bosenavulagi, Kyle Dunkley, Jake Gasper, James Jordon, Jack Ross

Note: Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh) and Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong) have combine invitations but are unavailable due to injury.

PLAYERS

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

#1 Sam FLETCHER

Just keeps winning the football every week and puts in a consistent effort. He will join Hustwaite on the inside and look to fire out a number of handballs to teammates in space, and will often look to win that one-on-one duel when given the chance. Does not get to the outside as much as other midfielders, but does all the damage at the coal face, expect him to be prominent in there again.

#2 Hayden YOUNG

The potential number one pick next year looked sore throughout the preliminary final last week and got moved from the back pocket to the extended interchange, so it appeared to be a waiting game on whether he would play. Unbelievable talent with and a hardness at the ball, can play anywhere on the field, but he has been used off half-back with that smooth running and deadly foot skills a highlight.

#3 Jamie PLUMRIDGE

Tipped by TAC Cup Radio’s Matthew Cocks for the Best on Ground, Plumridge has been a consistent performer this year. Plumridge is an outside midfielder who often wins it on the wing and pumps it inside 50 to the tall targets.

#7 Jai TAYLOR

An electrifying speedster, Taylor is one of the fastest players in the competition, and with Toby Bedford, has the capability of breaking the lines and causing disruption amongst the opposition zone. While he does not always do it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and take the game on.

#9 Zac FOOT

Burst onto the scene early in the season to make Vic Country after never having made a previous Stingrays’ squad. He played throughout the National Under 18 Championships, and while he did not star, he still had some impressive moments. Adds a different element to the team because he can win it inside or out, play back, forward or through the midfield and has a high impact per possession when he is on.

#10 Lachlan YOUNG

A defender who loves to rebound and use the ball well, he does not find a lot of it – averaging just 12.5 disposals per game. But almost 25 per cent of his possessions are rebounds, with Young ensuring the ball can clear the defensive zone.

#11 Ned CAHILL

Named as the 23rd player, Cahill showed in last week’s preliminary final just how damaging he could be booting two goals and passed off another couple. Still a bottom-age player, Cahill has emerged as a genuine goal sneak at 177cm. Has to be respected because he just gets to the right positions.

#12 Matthew GAHAN

Has enjoyed a really solid season off half-back earning himself a State Combine invitation. Gahan is a strong ball user and a player who his teammates like getting the ball into the hands of. With Oakleigh’s strong forward line, Gahan will need to be used both offensively and defensively in order to still create drive while restricting one of the many dangerous Chargers’ defenders.

#13 Riley BOWMAN

Is suited to the number one ruck role, but can play forward which is where he is expected to play. Often the Stingrays rotate Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Bailey Williams through the ruck such is their luxury. Bowman’s pure ruckwork is arguably the best of the lot, because he gets his hands to most throw-ins or ball-ups and can palm down to his midfielders. Big men seem to be out of fashion lately, so a big game would be huge to determine where he slots in.

#15 Toby BEDFORD

One of the most in-form Stingrays of late, Bedford has a great mix of offensive and defensive skills, providing line-breaking ability as well as tackling pressure in the forward half. He can kick multiple goals in a game, and pinch-hit in the midfield to break up the game. He offers a different element to the Dandenong midfield, and the Melbourne Next Generation Academy player is one who Demons fans will enjoy watching over the years, with the assumption they match the bid that comes in.

#16 Jake FRAWLEY

A strong midfielder who can play out of full-forward such is his strength one-on-one or in the air. Booted six goals against against Bendigo Pioneers at Shepley Oval playing almost exclusively as a forward. He adds some depth to the midfield and his versatility is important when the big day rolls around.

#17 Finlay BAYNE

Another dangerous small forward who can play through the midfield. Due to the depth in the Stingrays onball brigade, Bayne has found a nice spot in the forward 50 and is good for a couple of goals a game. He is a good mover with good goal sense.

#18 Mitch RIORDAN

Highly rated at the start of the season, Riordan had injury concerns and missed the bulk of the National Under 18 Championships, and has only recently returned in the past month. He can use the ball well, and while he does not win much of it, he can often be found coming out of a stoppage and kicking forward. Athletically he is very good, testing well in the 20m sprint, agility test and yo-yo test, so it is just getting game time into him.

#23 Campbell HUSTWAITE

The Stingrays captain is another player who has been in fine form the past couple of months and seems made for the big stage. He has lead from the front in the TAC Cup finals series and does everything expected of him. Against a strong Oakleigh midfield, his desire and competitiveness will be called upon to match it with the likes of Jack Ross and James Rowbottom. Hustwaite could be a best on ground chance given you know exactly what you will get from him each week.

#27 Lachlan MCDONNELL

Played at half-forward for the start of the season and has progressed onto the wing. Of all the Dandenong midfielders, McDonnell is one of the Stingrays’ most damaging kicks in transition. He is predominantly outside compared to the others, but he finds space and pumps it long inside 50.

#28 Bailey SCHMIDT

The big man has been unlucky not to play more games because he is a damaging presence up forward with great athleticism. He has just landed at a club in a year with ridiculous amounts of talent in the ruck/forward position. Still earned a State Combine invite, and while he has been named on the extended bench, is still one who has been able to show his wares throughout the 2018 season.

#29 Bailey WILLIAMS

The big key forward/ruck looms as the player Oakleigh must stop if the Chargers are to win their fifth TAC Cup premiership. Williams is an athletic monster forward who has a massive vertical leap and can cause plenty of headaches for any opposition defender. His goal kicking has been an issue for two thirds of the season, so he will need to be on target in the game. Expect him to have a bearing on the game, and if he can get an early major and build confidence – watch out.

#32 Daniel FRAMPTON

Has held down centre half-back at times despite standing at just 188cm. Can intercept the ball and averages 3.5 marks per game. The smaller Oakleigh forward line will suit Frampton as it means he does not have to battle against a 200cm monster.

#36 Stephen CUMMING

Starting in the ruck and even though he came off a little sore early last week, Cumming still played out the game and looks set to start in the centre square tomorrow. The big man will rotate with Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams in the ruck and no doubt try and wear down the undersized Bailey Wraith.

#41 Lachlan STENNING

The defender is likely to take a defensive approach on a forward whether it be Dylan Williams, Jake Gasper or Atu Bosenavulagi and try and limit their influence on the game. He is a low-possession player but one who can play above his height of 178cm.

#45 Luca GOONAN

Still a bottom-ager, Goonan was added to the side for the Grand Final on an extended bench. It is hard to push out the strong top-age presence, but he has had some impressive signs this season. He is readymade at 83kg already, and one to keep an eye on for next year.

#49 Matthew COTTRELL

A genuine honest midfielder who you know what you are going to get. Suited to the inside, but has played outside, he just attacks the ball and tries to clear it forward. Has had some impressive games this season and will likely need to beat his opponent this weekend against a strong Chargers’ midfield.

#52 Corey ELLISON

At 191cm and 88kg, Ellison is that medium size who can play tall or small up forward, and actually averages 2.7 goals per game from seven matches. Has been in and out of the team at times because of the strength up forward, if given the chance he knows how to hit the scoreboard.

#56 Matthew CUMMING

Cumming has played predominantly key position defence this season and just tried to beat his opponent one-on-one. Like his brother, he moves well for a 198cm player, but not sure what match-up he has in this match. With Oakleigh adopting a smaller forward line, he will likely play on a player close to 10cm smaller than him, so he must prepare for that.

#57 Reid NANSCAWEN

Named as the sole emergency for the side, he looks to be the one to come in if injury strikes. He has played a bit of everywhere, and held up the midfield during the National Under 18 Championships when Dandenong had absences galore. Is the type that can come in and play his role and will no doubt be waiting in the wings if the opportunity arises.

#58 Will HAMILL

An underrated player in the Stingrays defensive half. Hamill can play through the midfield, but his class and composure off half-back has been a standout of his game. He glides around the field, and while he is not a huge accumulator, he can hurt opposition with nice delivery forward. Will be held accountable with one of many dangerous Chargers small forwards who just find the goals on a regular basis.

#59 Sam STURT

The late developer has burst onto the scene of late after some impressive performances for Peninsula Grammar. He was boosted from a State Combine invitation to a National Combine invitation, and has already showed why he is in hot demand since playing for the Stingrays. He has electric skills, great smarts and knows where the goals are – so damaging.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

#1 Riley COLLIER-DAWKINS

A potential first round prospect, Collier-Dawkins has that blistering first few steps that can burn off an opponent out of a stoppage. He has been trialled up forward, but he is his most dominant on the inside, as he showed last week in the preliminary final. If he can use his strength, acceleration and penetrating kick to effect, then the Chargers will have plenty of hurt factor roaming through the midfield in transition.

#3 Joe AYTON-DELANEY

The running defender was unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invitation after some impressive performances early in the season. He is one that will be in high demand with a good Grand Final and just finds the ball. Uses it well coming out of the backline and has shiny red boots that stand out. A player Oakleigh looks to get the ball in the hands of, along with Isaac Quaynor, in the backline.

#4 Will KELLY

He will have his work cut out for him, regardless if he takes Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. He often enjoys running off an opponent and providing rebound, but he will need to be tight with the athletic talls. He can also go forward and provide a target if Oakleigh wants to throw a spanner in the works midway through the game. A Collingwood father-son prospect who will be watched closely by any Collingwood contingent that make the trip to Ikon Park.

#5 Xavier O’NEILL

Did not make the final Vic Metro squad, but showed enough throughout the 2018 TAC Cup season to suggest to recruiters he was in their top 50, earning a National Draft Combine invitation. He just does his job each week and is a really solid contributor. He covers the ground well and wins the ball in all thirds of the ground.

#6 Matthew DAY

The former basketballer was unlucky not be thrown a lifeline late last year, and has continued on as a really solid forward prospect as an overager for the Chargers this season. Keeps kicking goals and is strong overhead. A good size for development and one that the Stingrays cannot afford to let off the chain.

#7 Jay ROBERTSON

Did not make the cut at Eastern Ranges hailing from South Belgrave, came across and has been a valuable contributor up forward for Oakleigh. He is a medium tall who just keeps hitting the scoreboard and can fly under the radar with so much talent up that end.

#8 Noah ANDERSON

Another potential number one pick, Anderson is that prototype size for a midfielder, who due to the amazing depth of the Oakleigh midfield, has had the ability to almost play exclusively up forward. He pumps the ball long, can win it inside or out, and knows how to hit the scoreboard – as he did for Vic Metro against Western Australia.

#9 James ROWBOTTOM

The most pure of the inside midfielders, he gives his team a four quarter effort and wins a truckload of the ball on the inside. He is a clearance machine and just finds the ball anywhere on the ground. Dandenong are known for their hardness at the contest, and Rowbottom will be a key contributor for Oakleigh in trying to nullify some of the opposition midfielders.

#10 Charlie WHITEHEAD

A fierce small forward who loves to pressure opponents and just gets to the right positions. He has the capability of kicking multiple goals if given space and has a great goal sense. A pure small forward in every sense, he can push up the ground if the Chargers isolate another forward.

#11 Matthew ROWELL

Another Vic Metro representative in his bottom-age year, Rowell leads by example on the field. He has an uncompromising attack on the ball and is crucial around stoppages, but has had the luxury of playing on the outside, predominantly off a wing. He can play forward and kick goals, as he has the past two finals – kicking the first goal in both games.

#12 Noah ANSWERTH

The over-age captain does not do a lot wrong and can play anywhere on the field. His brother, Kade was best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final during Oakleigh Chargers’ last premiership over Eastern Ranges, and Answerth will be keen to put in an equally impressive performance. He made the Vic Metro squad and performed strongly and will leave no stone unturned in getting the most out of himself.

#13 Atu BOSENAVULAGI

Has bolted up into draft consideration after a quieter start to the season. His second half of the TAC Cup competition has been superb, and he is starting to regularly hit the scoreboard, while still applying the defensive pressure he was known for. Has made opposition clubs consider a National Draft bid, with Collingwood able to match if they like him.

#14 Kyle DUNKLEY

Has been on the fringe of getting into the team after spending time with Sydney Swans’ Reserves. With Oakleigh winning its past three games by an average of 101 points, it is a hard team to break into, but the forward will be ready if he gets his chance.

#16 Lucas WESTWOOD

A really reliable defender. With most of the other Oakleigh defenders being offensive players, Westwood adds that defensive hardness and ability to shut down a key opposition forward. He could well be given any number of smalls from the Stingrays who can kick multiple majors.

#17 Trent BIANCO

A skilful player who provides plenty of run and carry off half-back and through the midfield. Expect him to play more on-ball next season, but he has high-end talent and adds to what is a very strong bottom-age core at the Chargers.

#22 Dylan WILLIAMS

The bottom-age small forward is in ripping form, and just keeps kicking goals week-in, week-out. He shared them last week after six snags against Western Jets in the elimination final. He does very little wrong, and after spending time in defence early in the season, Williams’ strength overhead and great goal sense has him as a key player inside 50 for the Chargers. One Dandenong defender will have their work cut out for them.

#23 Isaac QUAYNOR

The running defender takes the game on and has some eye-catching moments. He might have to use his one-on-one ability more than he has had to in the past weeks, because Dandenong’s forward line will make sure he is made accountable. If he can get out and break the lines, using his speed and skill to create run-and-carry, then it will go a long way to Oakleigh winning the match. A Collingwood Next Generation Academy member to watch.

#26 Jake GASPER

The TAC Cup Leading Goalkicker and taking into account post-season goals he is the standalone leader, Gasper has been the most consistent forward in the competition. He has booted goals in every game he has played and his set shot routine is perfect. The Dandenong defence will focus on not letting him get too much air time because he is so smart in that forward 50.

#30 Bailey WRAITH

You have to applaud Wraith, who started as a key defender, but has stood up as an undersized ruck. He is measured at 191cm (though many believe he might be a few centimetres taller), and he has matched up against much taller opponents in the ruck. He will have to play his best game of the season against the Dandenong brigade however, with practically three 200cm rucks with big vertical leaps awaiting him.

#31 Will GOLDS

The most pure outside midfielder for the Chargers, Golds will be the one spreading to the outside and carrying the ball forward when given time and space. He could well match up against Lachlan McDonnell and the pair goes their separate ways, or they run alongside each other. Likes to set up plays forward of centre and has had a really solid finals series.

#32 Jack ROSS

The underrated midfielder from the Chargers has been building consistency very nicely over the past month since returning from school football. He loves the appetite of the contest, but can also spread to the outside and provide long kicks forward. He knows how to find a goal from a stoppage inside 50, and is one of many Oakleigh midfielders who looms as a key player on the weekend and one the Stingrays will put work into.

#33 Matt WARREN

Started the year as a key defender and can play up either end. Had the tough job of manning Max King in the top five pick’s only TAC Cup game and King booted eight goals in that game. At 189cm he has had to play on much taller opponents at times, but continues to battle above his height and weight range. A versatile option if a tall drops out of the Grand Final after being added to the interchange bench.

#36 Charlie BEASLEY

Rated really highly internally, Beasley will have to play taller than his 192cm against Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. The coach, Leigh Clarke backs him in and he rarely lets him down. Regardless of opponent, Beasley is the type of defender who will stick to the task for four quarters.

#38 Zac HART

Oakleigh’s forward line is harder to break into than Fort Knox, so for the potential Adelaide father-son it has not been easy to find a spot. Hart has been added to the side on the extended interchange bench, and he is a smart forward with good goal sense, but with Oakleigh’s firepower on show the last month, it will probably take an injury for Hart to squeeze in.

#44 Will PHILLIPS

The Under 16s Vic Metro representative has managed to retain his place in the Oakleigh line-up despite it being as strong as it is, playing as the 23rd player. Great skills, good spread and does not seem phased against the bigger bodies, Phillips looks a player for the 2020 National Draft.

#64 James JORDON

Played a couple of games earlier in the season and returned after school football, Jordon has provided good run and carry on the outside. Like Golds, Jordon predominantly is used as a ball carrier with slick skills to take the game on and delivery well inside 50.

 

FATHER/SON AND ACADEMY PROSPECTS

Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays) – Melbourne Next Generation Academy

Atu Bosenavulagi, Isaac Quaynor, Bailey Wraith (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood Next Generation Academy

Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood father/son

Kyle Dunkley* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Sydney father/son

Zac Hart* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Adelaide father/son

*Extended interchange

 

STATISTICS

Dandenong defence vs. Oakleigh attack

The key in this third of the ground, is whether or not Dandenong’s slick foot skills out of defence and springboard rebound can be used against the massive forward pressure of the Chargers. Atu Bosenavulagi (4.5 tackles), Jake Gasper (4.1) and Charlie Whitehead (3.2) provide the tackling heat, while Dylan Williams (62.8 per cent kicking efficiency), Jay Robertson (60.4 per cent) and Noah Anderson (56.6 per cent) provide the skills going inside 50. Gasper has been the dominant goal kicker this season, sharing the overall competition tally and post-finals has the most goals of any player in the league.

For Dandenong, they have some very nice ball users in the back half, lead by Will Hamill and Lachlan Stenning, while five of their six defenders average more than two marks a game. Lachlan Young (3.1 rebounds), Matthew Gahan (2.9) and Daniel Frampton (2.3) are that wall at half-back, while Matthew Cumming is the athletic key position defender who can share ruck duties. The big question mark will be match-ups as Oakleigh have a small forward line, while Cumming will no doubt be matched up on a smaller player.

Dandenong midfield vs. Oakleigh midfield

Two highly talented midfields will go head-to-head with so many crucial head-to-heads. Dandenong generally loves a contested brand of football, whereas Oakleigh love using their outside foot skills to advantage. In saying that, both sides can still play the other’s game. Stingrays captain, Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will provide the inside support, whereas Matthew Cottrell can play inside or out. Lachlan McDonnell is the most outside because he has the best skills of the five onballers, and has provided a crucial link between midfield and half-forward.

Will Golds provides just that for Oakleigh, whereas both Matthew Rowell and Jack Ross are equally as impressive inside as they are outside, and can get forward and kick goals as well. Noah Answerth can also play off half-back or half-forward and hit the scoreboard for the Chargers, while Bailey Wraith has been getting the job done in the ruck despite being undersized. If he can get forward and kick a goal, it adds an extra challenge for the Stingrays. He will have his work cut out for him against the best ruck division in the league.

Dandenong attack vs. Oakleigh defence

Dandenong’s attack is likely to cause a lot more headaches for Oakleigh’s defence than other sides have in past weeks. With Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman both athletic talls, it means Charlie Beasley and Will Kelly will have to be prepared to jump as both Dandenong keys are highly athletic – particularly Williams who is second to none with vertical leap. Jai Taylor and Toby Bedford are two of the quickest players going around, while Sam Sturt and Zac Foot consistently hit the scoreboard.

The great strength with Oakleigh’s defence is its ball use out of the back 50, with Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco all wonderful kicks of the football. Often teams can have at least one liability back in their defence, but there is no player in the back 50 who the Chargers would not feel comfortable with kicking the ball out of the back 50. The challenge for the Chargers defence is they have to expect Dandenong to bring the heat. Forward pressure from the Stingrays is a must, and Oakleigh must be up for that challenge.

Extended interchange of both sides:

The depth on both these benches, particularly Oakleigh’s, is madness. Riley Collier Dawkins could be a first round pick but he sits on the pine, while James Jordon and Xavier O’Neill are crucial cogs in Oakleigh’s midfield. Matthew Day has been a really valuable forward for the Chargers this season, while Vic Metro Under 16s talent, Will Phillips has been very slick with his ball use on the outside and shapes as an impressive talent for the 2020 AFL National Draft. With father-son prospects and sneaky small forwards Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart waiting in the wings, and the versatile Matt Warren also brought in to the extended team, Oakleigh has plenty of options to head into game day.

For Dandenong, Finlay Bayne and Ned Cahill both provide depth in the forward line and showed they can kick multiple goals, as they did against Sandringham Dragons last week. Corey Ellison has been unlucky this season given the strength of talls for the Stingrays, while Hayden Young could be pick one next season, but came off sore last week and whether he makes the final team is yet to be seen. Bailey Schmidt is another athletic tall who could come in to really stretch the Oakleigh defence, while Jake Frawley kicked a bag of six earlier in the season. Jamie Plumridge has been good on  the outside for Dandenong this season, while Luca Goonan is a prospect to watch for next year. Reid Nanscawen has been named as the only emergency in the team.

WHY WILL THEY WIN?

Dandenong Stingrays: They have been the best team all year and attack the footy with numbers. A fierce intent on the ball carrier, any opposition know that the heat will come and it will depend on how they deal with it. The Stingrays are not a high possession team, and opt for sharing the ball around, but still using the ball long and effective. They have the tall timber up forward to put in the air and allow them to mark it, because no-one is spoiling Bailey Williams if he gets a run at it.

Oakleigh Chargers: They are the most skilful team in the competition who are happy to use short possessions rather than take risks with long kicks, but know when to flick the switch. Often they will use a series of short kicks until a player breaks free and then they use run-and-carry to run down the wings and pick a target out inside 50. Without the height in there, the Oakleigh midfielder put low balls out in front of their teammates to run onto with their speed off the mark, key.

 

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO STOP?

Dandenong Stingrays: They absolutely must bring the heat on the weekend. Oakleigh dominate games when they are allowed to over-possess the ball and just wait until options free up. Dandenong need to ensure that firstly, Oakleigh cannot have free numbers wandering into open space, and secondly, that there is a defensive midfielder who is happy to drop back and fill the hole in front of the Oakleigh forwards. Unlike Dandenong where a 200cm athlete will crash into your back, Oakleigh’s passes inside 50 will be low darts, so the Stingrays need to restrict the free space inside 50 and force them wide.

Oakleigh Chargers: They have to be wary of positioning themselves well inside the defensive 50. They will be playing against much taller opponents who can fly high, and some of their usually offensively-minded defenders might have to do more one-on-one defending. Isaac Quaynor is arguably the best small defender in the league one-on-one and he might be the man to go to Sam Sturt, as Quaynor can play taller and is equally as smart. Bailey Wraith will also have his work cut out for him in the ruck, and while he has been fantastic, when you’re going up against high flying rucks that are towering over you, the goal is to nullify as much as possible.

 

GRAND FINAL HISTORY

The two teams have never met in a TAC Cup Grand Final before, but have been involved in 10 between them. Dandenong has heartbreakingly lost all five of their encounters, two of which exceeded 80 points. For Oakleigh, they have won four out of a possible five attempts, including a goal point to Jack Macrae in 2012 getting them over the line against Gippsland Power.

Dandenong Stingrays:

1997: lost to North Ballarat Rebels by 35 points
2005: lost to Gippsland Power by 15 points
2008: lost to Murray Bushrangers by 81 points
2009: lost to Calder Cannons by 14 points
2013: lost to Eastern Ranges by 112 points

Oakleigh Chargers:

2006: defeated Calder Cannons by 27 points
2011: lost to Sandringham Dragons by eight points
2012: defeated Gippsland Power by one point
2014: defeated Calder Cannons by 47 points
2015: defeated Eastern Ranges by 12 points

 

AFL Draft Central tips

 

Peter Williams

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jack Ross

Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jake Gasper

Ed Pascoe

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Cameron Ross

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

 

Total Tips:

Dandenong Stingrays 2
Oakleigh Chargers 4

Best on Ground:

Toby Bedford 2
Dylan Williams 2
Jack Ross 1
Jake Gasper 1

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Grand Final

BOTH 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final sides have remained coy about their team selection this week, opting for extended benches before finalising their sides ahead of Saturday’s decider. Dandenong have brought in Luca Goonan, Bailey Schmidt and Corey Ellison, while Reid Nanscawen has been named as the sole emergency for the Stingrays. Meanwhile the Chargers have brought in the three players they included on the extended bench the week before in Matt Warren, Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart. Both Dunkley (Sydney) and Hart (Adelaide) are potential father-son prospects.

Dandenong Stingrays:

B: 58. Will Hamill – 56. Matthew Cumming – 41. Lachlan Stenning
HB: 12. Matthew Gahan – 32. Daniel Frampton – 10. Lachlan Young
C: 49. Matthew Cottrell – 23. Campbell Hustwaite – 27. Lachlan McDonnell
HF: 9. Zac Foot – 13. Riley Bowman – 7. Jai Taylor
F: 15. Toby Bedford – 29. Bailey Williams – 59. Sam Sturt
R: 36. Stephen Cumming – 1. Sam Fletcher – 18. Mitch Riordan
INT: 17. Finlay Bayne – 52. Corey Ellison – 16. Jake Frawley – 45. Luca Goonan – 3. Jamie Plumridge – 28. Bailey Schmidt – 2. Hayden Young
23P: 11. Ned Cahill
EMG: 57. Reid Nanscawen

In: L. Goonan, B. Schmidt, R. Nanscawen, C. Ellison

Oakleigh Chargers:

B: 3. Joe Ayton-Delaney – 36. Charlie Beasley – 16. Lucas Westwood
HB: 17. Trent Bianco – 4. Will Kelly – 23. Isaac Quaynor
C: 31. Will Golds – 32. Jack Ross – 11. Matthew Rowell
HF: 26. Jake Gasper – 7. Jay Robertson – 10. Charlie Whitehead
F: 8. Noah Anderson – 22. Dylan Williams – 13. Atu Bosenavulagi
R: 30. Bailey Wraith – 9. James Rowbottom – 12. Noah Answerth
INT: 1. Riley Collier-Dawkins – 6. Matthew Day – 14. Kyle Dunkley – 38. Zac Hart – 64. James Jordon – 5. Xavier O’Neill – 33. Matt Warren
23P: 44. Will Phillips

In: M. Warren, K. Dunkley, Z. Hart

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Preliminary Finals

OUR final four TAC Cup teams remaining in the hunt for the 2018 premiership have made a combined three changes, with Gippsland the only side to confirm any players out at this stage. The winners of both clashes advance to the TAC Cup decider the week after at Ikon Park, with three of the four teams reaching this stage last year.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 11.30am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Coming off a 110-point thrashing of the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels side, the Dandenong Stingrays have brought back four players, including Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt who have both earned State Combine invitations. Teammates, Reid Nanscawen and Corey Ellison are also into the side having impressed throughout the year for the Stingrays. The Dragons will be looking to cause an upset against the minor premiers with three players returning, in bottom-age tall Fischer McAsey, Louis Butler and Josh Le Grice.

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 58. W. Hamill, 56. M. Cumming, 2. H. Young
HB: 12. M. Gahan, 32. D. Frampton, 10. L. Young
C: 49. M.  Cottrell, 23. C.  Hustwaite, 27. L.  McDonnell
HF: 9. Z. Foot, 29. B. Williams, 7. J. Taylor
F: 17. F. Bayne, 13. R. Bowman, 59. S. Sturt
R: 36. S. Cumming, 1. S. Fletcher, 15. T. Bedford
Int: 52. C. Ellison, 16. J. Frawley, 45. L. Goonan, 3. J. Plumridge, 18. M. Riordan, 28. B. Schmidt, 41. L. Stenning
Emg: 57. R. Nanscawen
23P: 11. E. Cahill

In: M. Riordan, B. Schmidt, R. Nanscawen, C. Ellison

Sandringham Dragons

B: 18. A. Seaton, 69. C. Watts, 48. J. Worrell
HB: 53. H. Ralphsmith, 52. C. Dean, 2. A. Richards
C: 19. S.  Forbes, 8. K.  Owens, 12. C.  Jones
HF: 66. R. Byrnes, 29. B. King, 23. A. Hanrahan
F: 72. D. Chirgwin, 33. W. Kennedy, 27. J. Mahony
R: 28. J. Rendell, 74. H. Reynolds, 7. L. Stocker
Int: 51. N. Burke, 64. L. Butler, 17. J. Denborough, 38. J. Le Grice , 26. F. Maginness, 61. F. McAsey, 11. N. Stamatis
23P: 35. G. Grey

In: F. McAsey, L. Butler, J. Le Grice

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Preliminary Finals  – Saturday, September 15, 2pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

In the second game of the day at Ikon Park, Gippsland Power will have to overcome the loss of Vic Country defender Kyle Reid, who is out of he side along with Jake Van Der Pligt and Mitch Bentvelzen. They have named six players to come into the side, with their extended team to be reduced by three. Zac Hurley, Brett Thorson, Luke Williams, Burkeley Macfarlane, Jack Hume and Mason McGannon are the six players into the side. Oakleigh has added tall, Matthew Warren, and father-son forward prospects Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart to their extended side.

Gippsland Power

B: 40. Z. Hurley, 14. T. Hourigan, 15. R. Sparkes
HB: 18. M. McGannon, 12. B. Smith, 7. B. Patterson
C: 8. B.  Beck, 6. R.  Baldi, 29. B.  Motton
HF: 9. I. Mosquito, 23. N. Gown, 20. H. Neocleous
F: 4. S. Flanders, 16. J. Smith, 2. C. Serong
R: 22. R. Henkel, 11. A. Hodge, 5. X. Duursma
Int: 10. L. Connolly, 13. N. Lowden, 31. B. Macfarlane, 3. M. McGannon, 37. H. Pepper, 33. B. Thorson, 32. L. Williams
23P: 34. J. Hume

In: Z. Hurley, B. Thorson, L. Williams, B. Macfarlane, J. Hume, M. McGannon
Out: K. Reid,  J. van der Pligt,  M. Bentvelzen

Oakleigh Chargers

B: 3. J. Ayton-Delaney, 36. C. Beasley, 16. L. Westwood
HB: 17. T. Bianco, 4. W. Kelly, 23. I. Quaynor
C: 31. W.  Golds, 32. J.  Ross, 11. M.  Rowell
HF: 26. J. Gasper, 7. J. Robertson, 10. C. Whitehead
F: 8. N. Anderson, 22. D. Williams, 13. A. Bosenavulagi
R: 30. B. Wraith, 9. J. Rowbottom, 12. N. Answerth
Int: 1. R. Collier-Dawkins, 6. M. Day, 14. K. Dunkley, 38. Z. Hart, 64. J. Jordon, 5. X. O’Neill, 33. M. Warren
23P: 44. W. Phillips

In: M. Warren, K. Dunkley, Z. Hart

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

THERE is no turning back now for the eight remaining TAC Cup sides as regular season form is thrown out the window in the first week of finals. The eight teams have made minimal changes to their sides, with no more than three confirmed outs from sides heading into the elimination finals.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Elimination Finals  – Saturday, September 8, 12pm IKON Park, Carlton North

Dandenong has a luxury of talls at its disposal and have recalled Riley Bowman to the side, who will slot into full-forward replacing Bailey Schmidt for the first elimination final. Also recalled to an extended bench are Reid Nanscawen, Corey Ellison, Luca Goonan and Ned Cahill, while Jack Toner is the other out from the Stingrays side. For the eighth placed GWV Rebels, they also have an extended bench with Elliott Lamb, Tynan Shannon, Joel O’Connell, Mitchell Burgess and Lochie Dawson named in the side. Harrison Butler and Ben Dodd are the two confirmed outs for the Rebels.

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 12. M. Gahan, 56. M. Cumming, 41. L. Stenning HB: 58. W. Hamill, 32. D. Frampton, 10. L. Young C: 49. M.  Cottrell, 23. C.  Hustwaite, 9. Z.  Foot HF: 27. L. McDonnell, 29. B. Williams, 7. J. Taylor F: 15. T. Bedford, 13. R. Bowman, 59. S. Sturt R: 36. S. Cumming, 1. S. Fletcher, 17. F. Bayne Int: 52. C. Ellison, 16. J. Frawley, 45. L. Goonan, 57. R. Nanscawen, 3. J. Plumridge, 18. M. Riordan, 2. H. Young 23P: 11. E. Cahill

In: L. Goonan, E. Cahill, R. Nanscawen, C. Ellison, R. Bowman Out: B. Schmidt,  J. Toner

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

B: 10. J. Lohmann, 43. J. Wright, 26. R. Ranieri HB: 48. J. Cleaver, 18. B. Helyar, 5. H. Jennings C: 24. M.  Lloyd, 3. S.  Carlin, 30. I.  Wareham HF: 1. C. Craig-Peters, 20. T. Watts, 14. J. Hill F: 21. I. Grant, 6. C. Wilson, 7. M. Martin R: 29. P. Glanford, 27. E. Lamb, 2. M. Schnerring Int: 32. M. Burgess, 9. L. Dawson, 47. T. Mahony, 45. D. McEldrew, 34. J. O’Connell, 44. R. Polkinghorne, 25. T. Shannon 23P: 50. J. Ugle-Hagan

In: E. Lamb, T. Shannon, J. O’Connell, M. Burgess, L. Dawson Out: H. Butler, B. Dodd

GIPPSLAND POWER v. GEELONG FALCONS

Elimination Finals  – Saturday, September 8, 2.30pm IKON Park, Carlton North

In the second all-Country elimination final, Gippsland has made at least three changes to the team that defeated Eastern Ranges a fortnight ago. Matt Ryan, Ben Maslen and Wade Anderson have been confirmed as out, while Harrison Pepper, Boadie Motton, Austin Hodge, Josh Wykes, Aaron Young and Luke Williams are all back into the side. For the Falcons, they have gone in unchanged showing faith in the side that got the job done in the Wild Card Round against the Cannons. Geelong have added Brady Campi, Baxter Mensch and Harrison Whyte to an extended bench.

Gippsland Power

B: 12. B. Smith, 14. T. Hourigan, 15. R. Sparkes HB: 18. M. McGannon, 25. K. Reid, 7. B. Patterson C: 8. B.  Beck, 5. X.  Duursma, 29. B.  Motton HF: 9. I. Mosquito, 23. N. Gown, 20. H. Neocleous F: 4. S. Flanders, 16. J. Smith, 11. A. Hodge R: 22. R. Henkel, 6. R. Baldi, 2. C. Serong Int: 10. L. Connolly, 13. N. Lowden, 37. H. Pepper, 35. J. van der Pligt, 32. L. Williams, 38. J. Wykes, 45. A. Young 23P: 36. M. Bentvelzen

In: H. Pepper, B. Motton, A. Hodge, J. Wykes, A. Young, L. Williams Out: M. Ryan,  B. Maslen,  W. Anderson

Geelong Falcons

B: 40. J. Clark, 49. D. Hollenkamp, 7. C. Harris HB: 20. B. Ham, 31. C. Cartledge, 21. L. Smith C: 8. E.  McHenry, 6. D.  Madigan, 22. S.  Walsh HF: 1. J. Dahlhaus, 39. C. Idun, 9. B. Morton F: 36. C. Sprague, 48. B. Schlensog, 2. S. Torpy R: 44. S. Conway, 30. O. Brownless, 41. C. Stephens Int: 37. B. Campi, 10. B. Mensch, 34. C. Page, 32. F. Parish, 3. K. Rayner, 42. H. Spiller, 13. H. Whyte 23P: 15. T. Bruhn

In: B. Campi, B. Mensch, H. Whyte

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. WESTERN JETS

Elimination Finals  – Sunday, September, 9, 11am IKON Park, Carlton North

On Sunday, Oakleigh Chargers have made just the two confirmed changes from the side that belted the GWV Rebels by 15 goals in the final round. Will James and Daniel Scala are out, while overager Noah Answerth, Xavier O’Neill, Charlie Beasley, Matthew Day and Will Golds are back into the side to beef up the Chargers’ best 22. For the Jets, they have not made a change to their winning formula against Eastern Ranges last week, as Blake Colley, Jake Hazik and David Fruscalzo were named in an extended team.

Oakleigh Chargers

B: 3. J. Ayton-Delaney, 4. W. Kelly, 16. L. Westwood HB: 17. T. Bianco, 36. C. Beasley, 23. I. Quaynor C: 31. W.  Golds, 9. J.  Rowbottom, 11. M.  Rowell HF: 26. J. Gasper, 7. J. Robertson, 10. C. Whitehead F: 8. N. Anderson, 22. D. Williams, 13. A. Bosenavulagi R: 30. B. Wraith, 32. J. Ross, 12. N. Answerth Int: 1. R. Collier-Dawkins, 6. M. Day, 20. F. Elliot, 38. Z. Hart, 64. J. Jordon, 5. X. O’Neill, 33. M. Warren 23P: 44. W. Phillips

In: N. Answerth , X. O’Neill, C. Beasley, M. Day, W. Golds Out: W. James,  D. Scala

Western Jets

B: 48. A. Britten, 37. H. Murphy, 15. M. Hearne HB: 25. S. Johnson, 38. B. Khamis, 39. S. Radovanovic C: 17. D.  Andrews , 7. J.  Watkins, 20. D.  Cassar HF: 3. L. Failli, 31. E. Jeka, 24. J. Honey F: 10. S. Kyriazis, 45. A. Clarke, 49. D. Pantalleresco R: 47. D. Walters, 12. C. Thar, 33. X. O’Halloran Int: 18. B. Colley, 29. D. Fruscalzo, 1. J. Hazik, 22. O. Manton, 28. J. Papachatzakis, 6. L. Rocci, 2. T. Rudic 23P: 16. C. White

In: B. Colley, J. Hazik, D. Fruscalzo

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Elimination Finals  – Sunday, September 9, 1.30pm IKON Park, Carlton North

In the last elimination final of the weekend, both Sandringham Dragons and Murray Bushrangers have made at least three changes for Sunday’s match. Callum Jones, Nicholas Burke, Troy Brimble, Finn Maginness, Kai Owens and Jack Mahony have all been included in the extended side, while Jack Bell, Jeremy Goddard and Oscar McMaster are the three confirmed outs. For the Bushrangers, they are the only side to have named just 23 players this weekend, with Robert Paradzayi, Ben Kelly and Kai Davies all into the side for Rory Quinn, Cameron Wilson and Will Christie.

Sandringham Dragons

B: 18. A. Seaton, 69. C. Watts, 48. J. Worrell HB: 53. H. Ralphsmith, 52. C. Dean, 2. A. Richards C: 19. S.  Forbes, 8. K.  Owens, 12. C.  Jones HF: 66. R. Byrnes, 29. B. King, 23. A. Hanrahan F: 72. D. Chirgwin, 33. W. Kennedy, 27. J. Mahony R: 28. J. Rendell, 7. L. Stocker, 74. H. Reynolds Int: 13. T. Brimble, 51. N. Burke, 17. J. Denborough, 38. J. Le Grice , 26. F. Maginness, 61. F. McAsey, 11. N. Stamatis 23P: 35. G. Grey

In: C. Jones, N. Burke, T. Brimble, F. Maginness, K. Owens, J. Mahony Out: J. Bell,  J. Goddard,  O. McMaster

Murray Bushrangers

B: 11. E. Adams, 59. L. Fiore, 55. R. Paradzayi HB: 34. T. Boyd, 16. N. Murray, 19. J. Boyer C: 26. R.  Bice, 5. E.  Smith, 10. P.  Warner HF: 7. Z. Barzen, 2. J. Butts, 6. W. Chandler F: 12. L. Ash, 18. H. Garoni, 13. B. Frauenfelder R: 35. F. Bollinghaus, 9. M. Walker, 38. D. Clarke Int: 20. J. Bradshaw, 58. E. Hollands, 40. N. Irvine, 3. B. Kelly 23P: 50. K. Davies

In: R. Paradzayi, B. Kelly, K. Davies Out: R. Quinn, C. Wilson, W. Christie

Team of the Week: TAC Cup – Round 9

THREE clubs have dominated the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week for Round 9. Almost half of the best 22 from the round have come from the Murray Bushrangers (four), Geelong Falcons (three) and Northern Knights (three). Dandenong Stingrays, Sandringham Dragons and Western Jets all have two nominees in the team, while a record six clubs – Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Oakleigh Chargers – all having the one nominee in the side.

The forward line firepower is unbelievable for Round 9, with 29 goals kicked between the six starting forwards. Clubhouse leader Izaac Grant booted seven in a losing side for the GWV Rebels, while Jordon Butts booted six in Murray’s big win over Bendigo Pioneers. Fellow Bushrangers tall, Tom Boyd, has made the team at centre half-back, while Ely Smith (rover) and Jye Chalcraft (interchange) have also squeezed into the team.

Northern Knights’ forwards James Lucente and Patrik Della Rocca booted seven majors between them and will work in tandem in our Team of the Week, while defender Stefan Uzelac continues his good form of late with a nomination in the back pocket. Geelong key defender and acting captain Cooper Cartledge has made the side, joined in the team by ball-winning midfielder Baxter Mensch and regular half-forward nominee, Brayden Ham.

Sandringham Dragons’ potential first rounder Liam Stocker made the team after a best on ground against Eastern Ranges on the weekend, he is joined in the side by the classy Alastair Richards. Eastern’s Mitch Mellis was the other player from the standalone game to make the 22, joining fellow sole nominee Xavier O’Neill (Oakleigh Chargers) on the bench. Dandenong Stingrays also had two nominees, with Reid Nanscawen making his debut in the Team of the Week, along with captain Campbell Hustwaite.

To complete the forward set-up, Calder Cannons’ Jake Riccardi was the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week for Round 9 after his five goals, with Gippsland bottom-age defender Jake Van Der Pligt the only other player from the drawn game in Morwell. Overage Western Jets ruck Darren Walters makes his debut in Team of the Week, joined in the side by midfielder Connor Thar. Bendigo Pioneers’ Liam Marciano is the other member of the Team of the Week, named on the half-back flank. Teammate and ruckman Daniel Keating, as well as GWV Rebels’ midfielder Elliot Lamb and bottom-age mid/defender Brock Smith were the most unlucky to miss out.

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 10

AFTER a five-game round last week, the full set is back for Round 10 with all 12 teams taking part in the first of two Futures Rounds. In Futures Rounds, squads are extended to 24, and at least 11 bottom-age players must be in the side. This gives recruiters a chance to get a glimpse of the bottom-age talent coming through the ranks and get an idea about where players sit for 2019.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 10.30am
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill

It would have been hard to believe a few rounds ago, but Eastern Ranges head into the home clash with Calder Cannons on a hot streak, having picked up two consecutive wins and looking strong. They play yet another game there and come up against a Calder Cannons side that took it right up to the Gippsland Power despite the Cannons missing the majority of their best 22. Calder’s two key forwards are in good form, with Jake Riccardi booting four goals in the final term last round to single-handedly ensure the Cannons snatched two points, while John Roumeliotis is building up some consistency after missing three years through knee injuries. Daniel Hanna is rock solid in defence, while Lucas Cavallaro had another consistent performance out of the back half last week and looks to be a danger man in this clash. For Eastern, the loss of Xavier Fry and James Blanck will hurt, but the midfield that got the job done against Bendigo Pioneers is still intact with Lachlan Stapleton, Joel Burleigh, Kye Quirk and Mitch Mellis forming a good quartet in the centre. Ben Cardamone has been consistent in defence. This is set to be a close contest.  

 

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 10.30am
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown

The Western Jets will be disappointed their winning streak was broken last week, with their depth tested against an impressive Geelong Falcons outfit. The Northern Knights on the other hand will be pleased they got over the line against GWV Rebels in tough conditions at MARS Stadium following a good final term. Oscar White and Justin McInerney both return to the visitors team in what will be a boost for the Knights in the clash, while a couple of potential father-son prospects are in for the Jets in Oskar Manton and Tyler Kolyniuk. Western’s strength is in its midfield, similar to Northern, and it will be a great contest to watch Connor Thar, Jack Watkins and Jaden Rice go head-to-head with McInerney, White and Ryan Sturgess among others in a deep midfield group. Aaron Clarke and Steven Kyriazis can cause headaches up forward for the Jets, while talented bottom-ager Josh D’Intinosante has been named at half-back after an impressive game on-ball last week. Patrik Della Rocca, Sunny Brazier and Harrison Grace provide three different elements to the Knights’ forward line, while Hamish Murphy and Darcy Cassar are others who have been important players for the home side this season.  

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 10.30am
Warrawee Park, Oakleigh

A mid-season clash between Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons does not always bring about too many top-age talents given the National Championships and school football commitments, but there is plenty to like about both sides when they go head-to-head at Warrawee Park tomorrow. The Dragons will look to address a form slump due to the amount of upheaval to their side, losing four of the past five games. Meanwhile the Chargers have also slipped, albeit defeating the Murray Bushrangers a couple of weeks ago. A win to Oakleigh could see the Chargers back in the top four, while it could also mean the Dragons drop outside the top eight. On the other side of the coin, the Dragons could move to sixth, and sit just four points behind the Chargers in fifth, with a victory. In line with Futures Round, Oakleigh has gone in with a young, but talented side, with Matt Rowell headlining the bottom-agers after returning from Vic Metro duties. He, Trent Bianco and Bailey Wraith will be important inclusions, in a side that looks to have plenty of grunt, speed and class. After a big day out last week, Matt Day will be a loss up forward, while Sam Harte and Lachlan Bugeja have been consistent, however Atu Bosenavulagi is finding some good form, and Jack Ross is a crucial inclusion as well. For the Dragons, their side might look even stronger on paper, with the return of many players from school football. Key position players Fischer McAsey and Will Kennedy return to the fold to provide some quality height, while Kai Owens, Liam Stocker and Harry Houlahan will provide a good core midfield that will challenge the Chargers.  

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 1pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Dandenong has been the benchmark in the competition this season, and can move eight points clear on top with a victory here and an unlikely loss to Gippsland. For the Rebels, they can leapfrog Geelong into ninth and be just percentage away from Calder in eighth with a win. GWV will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing final term against Northern Knights last weekend. Stephen Cumming is an important inclusion into the team, allowing Bailey Schmidt to go forward more often for the Stingrays, while Finlay Bayne returns to the team due to a bye in school football. Jai Taylor also slots back into the team after representing Vic Country last week, and a midfield of Campbell Hustwaite, Jamie Plumridge and Lachlan McDonnell is always going to be challenging, while Reid Nanscawen was another who stepped up for the Stingrays in Round 9. For the Rebels, they lose Scott Carlin who has been a slick ball user off half-back, but regain Matty Lloyd in the same position, while retaining what on paper could be the most underrated forward line. With Josh Chatfield, Jed Hill, Izaac Grant and Charlie Wilson all rotating through there, the speed and goal sense is high, it will just be putting it all together for four quarters. The Stingrays will head in as strong favourites for the clash, but the Rebels could trouble them with their speed up forward.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 2pm
Windy Hill, Essendon

In an afternoon game, Gippsland Power hosts Bendigo Pioneers at Windy Hill in a venue about halfway between both locations. The Power will be disappointed they only took two points away from their clash against Calder Cannons at home, their second draw of the season at the venue. While the Pioneers notched up another defeat, this time to Eastern Ranges leaving them outright bottom of the table with nine straight losses. They will hope to turn it around with a good win here, but will have to do so without a series of important players. Zane Keighran, Liam Marciano, Josh Grace, Phill Moi Moi and Lucas Caccaviello have all been consistent players of late and will be sorely missed, but the return of AFL Academy member Brodie Kemp will be important for the Pioneers. Along with in-form ruck Daniel Keating and the Perez brothers – Oscar and Flynn – tearing it up on the wings, the Pioneers still have plenty of speed around the ground and capable of getting it inside 50. For the Power, they bring back live-wire Irving Mosquito who did not quite come up last week from a hamstring injury, but seems right to go now, and will be keen to play well in the hope of a Vic Country call-up in the final game against South Australia at GMHBA Stadium. The Power midfield is very strong with Brock Smith, Riley Baldi, Bailey Beck, Boadie Motton and Mosquito forming a really consistent base at the feet of Rylan Henkel. Austin Hodge can play forward or through the midfield, and Tyrone Hayes, Ryan Sparkes and Jake Van Der Pligt provide plenty of speed and rebound out of defence. Gippsland head in as very strong favourites, but they were last week, so they will be hoping to learn from the lessons and grab the four points here.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Round 10 – Saturday, June 23, 2.15pm
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

In the final game of the round, an understrength young Geelong Falcons side meets an almost full-strength Murray Bushrangers outfit in what will be a great challenge for the Falcons. Vic Country selection has not done the Falcons much favours, losing Dane Hollenkamp and Blake Schlensog in what will be exciting for Geelong to see them on the MCG, but more so for the opposition with key position forward and TAC Cup leading goal kicker Hudson Garoni, X-factor Zane Barzen, and talented bottom-ager Lachlan Ash, all returning to the Bushrangers side. Couple that with the fact a virtually untouched midfield of Ely Smith, Dylan Clarke and Kyle Clarke has been performing, and Geelong will need to be at its best to topple the Bushrangers. For Geelong, Brayden Ham continues to put his hand up to recruiters with another four goals last week, named at half-back this week. Baxter Mensch has not slowed down pulling in big numbers and clearances week-in, week-out, while acting captain Cooper Cartledge will be tasked with leading a young defence – while potentially given the job on the in-form Garoni. The match is likely to see what the bottom-agers can do for the Falcons, while the Bushrangers will be supremely confident they can take the four points in this clash.

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 9

MURRAY Bushrangers have bounced back into the top four and now sit just two points behind second after favourable results. The Bushrangers defeated the Bendigo Pioneers, while losses to the Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets ensured the Bushrangers stay outside the top four was just a short one. Meanwhile Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power played out a draw, and the Northern Knights came from behind to defeat GWV Rebels away.

Western Jets vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Brandon Hutchinson

In poor conditions at Avalon Airport Oval, the Falcons and Jets were locked in a tight contest ending in a low a low scoring affair. By the end of the first, Falcons led by a goal, and by halftime that dropped to just a point. The game was scrappy and accuracy was less than subpar, but by the third the Falcons took control taking a 10-point lead and holding it until the end of the game.

Brayden Ham (18 disposals and six inside 50s) was pivotal in the Falcons win, having kicked four goals for the game. Cooper Cartledge stepped up to captain his side and dominated in the final quarter, taking plenty of intercept marks and finishing the game with 18 disposals, seven marks and five rebounds. Titit Nyak (15 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds) Baxter Mensch (34 disposals, seven marks, five clearances and seven inside 50s and one goal) Sheldon Ham (11 disposals and three inside 50s) also impressed with great composure and ball sense.

Hamish Murphy played strong out of the backline, keeping centred and in control of the ball. Darcy Cassar and Lucas Rocci fought hard through the Jets’ midfield to earn the contested ball and Steven Kyriazis played supreme overhead. The boys fought hard but were unfortunate in their fight back during the second half.

 

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Liam Connop

On a breezy day at Shepley Oval, top-side Dandenong were too strong for a gallant Oakleigh. The Stingrays were noticeably taller than their opposition over the ground, which would be influential as the game went on. Though the game was tight early, Dandenong broke the shackles in the second term, piling on five goals to one to lead by 42 points at half-time. Despite this, the Chargers fought hard until the final siren, eventually succumbing to a 55-point loss and losing a place in the top four.

Campbell Hustwaite (22 possessions, 11 tackles) was great in-and-under all day in the midfield for the Stingrays, while Reid Nanscawen (26 touches, six marks and five tackles) had an outstanding game in the midfield. Effective ball-use was provided off half-back by Will Hamill (16 possessions, three marks) and Hayden Young (12 possessions, three marks) to help set-up many attacking plays for the Stingrays.

For the Chargers, Jake Gasper (13 possessions, four tackles, two goals) presented to the midfielders all day while teammates Xavier O’Neill (22 possessions) and Fraser Elliott (21 possessions) were prominent in the midfield. Daniel Scala (13 possessions, seven tackles) also tried hard all day, competing well to win the footy.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Peter Williams

Murray Bushrangers have bounced back from a rare loss to Oakleigh Chargers last week, to record a 40-point win over Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Sunday. Murray booted the only two goals of the first quarter, and led by 20 points at the main break. Much like the first term, Murray came out firing in the third quarter, booting the only three goals of the term to stretch their lead to 39 points at the final break. A spirited Pioneers outfit only lost the final quarter by a point, but still suffered their eighth consecutive loss.

Jimmy Boyer and Ely Smith were busy for the Bushrangers, racking up 28 disposals each. Boyer took seven marks and laid five tackles, while Smith was instrumental on the inside with nine clearances and nine tackles. Kyle Clarke had a massive 24 kicks from his 25 disposals, also notching up five marks, six clearances, four rebounds and eight tackles. Up forward Jordon Butts was the main man in Hudson Garoni‘s absence, slotting six goals, while Bailey Frauenfelder had plenty of chances with five scoring shots from 19 disposals, but finished the game with 1.4. Bottom-ager Jye Chalcraft was one of the best on the ground, with his agility and forward prowess resulting in him collecting 24 disposals, four marks, four tackles and booting a goal.

Liam Marciano was once again impressive for the Pioneers, racking up 25 disposals, seven marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds. Jacob Atley was equally as busy with 25 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and two rebounds. The Perez brothers continued their good form from the week before with Oscar booting two goals from 21 disposals and six marks, while Flynn racked up 20 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four inside 50s. Zane Keighran got on the scoreboard with two majors, while Noah Wheeler had an equal team-high four clearances to go with his 18 disposals.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons

By: Peter Williams

Jake Riccardi-inspired Calder Cannons outfit has stunned an in-form Gippsland Power at Morwell on Sunday. The Power went into the game as strong favourites, having brought back a number of talented players into the line-up, although they were still missing some stars due to Vic Country. The Cannons were well and truly picked apart thanks to the high level of Vic Metro representation, meaning their next tier of players had to stand up, and they certainly did that. When Gippsland held a 16-point lead at half-time, things looked good for the home side, but the determined Cannons fired plenty of shots in the second half, to hit the front at the final break by a single kick. Gippsland refused to give in and threw everything at the Cannons, but it was the over-ager Riccardi who single-handedly dominated the scoreboard, booting four goals in the final term, including the last goal of the game, to tie the scores and split the points. It was Gippsland’s second draw of the season after splitting the points with Northern Knights earlier in the year at the same venue.

Riccardi was the star of the show, booting 5.2 for the game off 10 disposals (eight kicks) making the most of his opportunities, while also taking six marks and laying two tackles. Sam Graham topped the disposal count for Calder with 20 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while also laying nine tackles. Ismail Moussa had 19 disposals and five rebounds, while Lucas Cavallaro was a rock in defence, notching up a game-high eight rebounds – three more than any other player. Sam Ramsay (19 disposals and four marks) and Daniel Hanna (18 disposals and six marks) were also among the high possession winners.

For Gippsland, Riley Baldi had a good day out with 29 disposals, nine tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s, while overager Austin Hodge was consistent again with 24 disposals, five marks, four tackles and four inside 50s, while also nailing two goals. Bottom-ager Brock Smith had 19 disposals, six clearances and booted two goals in his return to the team from Vic Country, while Josh Smith booted three goals from 14 disposals, while sharing the ruck load with 10 hitouts. Jake Van Der Pligt had another promising game in defence with a team-high five rebounds from 19 disposals and seven marks. Bailey Beck (20 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Rylan Henkel (26 hitouts) were others that impressed.

 

GWV Rebels vs. Northern Knights

By: Cameron Ross

Ugly conditions made it difficult, but the Northern Knights overpowered the GWV Rebels for a big win at MARS Stadium in Ballarat on Sunday. It was a game of inches with both teams having their opportunities to claim the four points and with the south-westerly breeze favouring the Midland Highway end, they needed to take their chances kicking to this end if they were to win. Both teams struggled in the first quarter but seemed to settle as the game progressed.

From early in the first quarter, Izaac Grant looked superb. The Rebels forward kicked his sides only two goals in the first term, the second being a delightful piece of play. The Knights kicked a very important goal against the run of play and into the wind in the last five minutes of the quarter, signalling their intent to win.

Both teams started to adjust to the conditions in the second quarter, and the Rebels began to clean up their disposal, and use their running players and when Grant kicked his third at the fourth minute mark, it looked as though it was going to be a good day for his side. However, this kicked the Knights into gear, and after Patrik Della Rocca responded moments later, the Knights all of a sudden were all over the Rebels. But the Knights struggled to capitalise on this momentum, kicking their set shots poorly, and not allowing for the wind anywhere near enough. The Knights missed three or four crucial goals, holding an eight-point lead at half-time.

The third term was the Grant show. He was outstanding kicking another three goals, bringing his overall tally to six up until three quarter time. The final quarter was tense and tight, but with the Rebels holding a slender lead for the majority. However, once again, the Rebels began to falter in the last 10 minutes of the final quarter, and you could see the Knights players running over the top of them. The Knights were first to the footy, and pressuring the Rebels players into uncharacteristic mistakes. However, the Rebels did have a chance to win it. In the final two minutes of the game, the Rebels owned the ball inside their forward 50. Despite it being chaotic, Charlie Wilson attempted a quick kick out of the pack which dribbled into the point post. This was as close as the Rebels got, as the resulting throw in was cleared as the Knights clung on for the victory.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, this game was like so many others for them this year. They have had so many opportunities to win games, and have not been able to get the job done. Instead of being 2-6-1, the Rebels could easily be 5-4, as the Bendigo, Oakleigh and now the Knights games were there to be won. The Knights deserved this win however. Della Rocca was impressive up forward, Josh D’Intosante was superb in the middle and the Knights engine room was outstanding and outworked the Rebels all day. Knights key defender Stefan Uzelac was their best player on the day. He stood up in big moments, and intercepted numerous inside 50 attempts. Grant was the best player for the Rebels, kicking seven goals in a losing side. Many of his goals came from 15-20 out, but this did not mean they weren’t deserved. He worked hard to get himself in the right positions and earned his big bag.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges

By: Peter Williams

Sandringham Dragons have made it two wins on the trot, defeating Eastern Ranges in a scrappy affair at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, claiming a 22-point win. The Dragons held their opponents scoreless in the opening term and a wasteful second quarter saw Eastern boot one goal from eight scoring shots as the home side lead by seven points at the main break. A four goals to zero third quarter blew the low-scoring game open to hand the Dragons a 31-point lead, before Eastern used the breeze to boot three majors in the final term and draw within 14, before a Dawit McNeish goal in the dying moments pushed it out to 22 by the final siren.

Liam Stocker was best on ground for the second consecutive week, notching up 30 disposals, five marks, four tackles, 10 clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds, while Jackson Voss – son of Brett – had another promising effort between midfield and defence with 24 disposals, five marks, five clearances, two inside 50s and three rebounds. Will Kennedy also backed up his form with 23 disposals, six marks and three rebounds playing in defence, while Harry Houlahan and Alastair Richards both had 20 touches and assisted through the midfield with a combined six clearances.

For Eastern, Kye Quirk racked up 30 disposals, two marks, five clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and laid eight tackles, while Joel Burleigh was also strong defensively with nine tackles from 29 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s. Mitch Mellis (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two clearances), Adrian Kalcovski (24 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and Xavier Fry (21 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) were other prominent ball winners.

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 6

IT was a good week for the Country teams as every Metro side met a Country counterpart, with a 3-2 advantage in favour of the latter. Western Jets and Calder Cannons got the job done over Geelong Falcons and Bendigo Pioneers respectively, but Murray Bushrangers, Dandenong Stingrays and Gippsland Power all had good wins, as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels split the points with Oakleigh Chargers.

 

Western Jets 9.13 (67) defeated Geelong Falcons 7.1 (43)

The Western Jets made it back-to-back wins with a solid four-goal victory over an accurate Geelong Falcons on the weekend. After succumbing to a disappointing 126-point humiliation at the hands of Dandenong Stingrays, the Jets have strung together two good victories and are back on track showing their depth and talent. The wind-affected Williamstown Football Ground resulted in 13 of the game’s 16 goals kicked up one end, Darcy Cassar (three goals) and Aaron Clarke (two) the main beneficiaries on the day.

Zak Butters notched up 28 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s and three tackles, while Connor Thar was also impressive with 24 disposals, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Stefan Radovanovic provided great run through the middle with 23 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds, while Xavier O’Halloran put in another captain’s performance with a team-high seven clearances to go with his 18 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds.

For Geelong, Sam Walsh topped the disposal winners with 33 touches, three marks and seven tackles, while Ed McHenry was a tackling machine, laying 11 tackles and gathering 22 disposals, five clearances and seven rebounds when dropping into defence to help out. Ben Morton went one better than McHenry with 12 tackles, while also having 21 disposals and a team-high eight clearances. Baxter Mensch (20 disposals) and Oscar Brownless (19) were the other two Falcons to win more than 15 disposals in the loss.

 

Northern Knights 8.11 (59) defeated by Murray Bushrangers 13.16 (94)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers ran out comfortable 35-point winners against a brave Northern Knights outfit at Preston City Oval. In tough, blustery conditions, the game was often played between both 50 arcs, but still provided forwards the chance to prove their worth as clear-cut chances were sparse. With the scores level at the first break, the Bushies went on to boot nine of the next twelve goals during the second and third terms to set up a handy buffer. While they were valiant for most of the day and ended up winning the last-quarter battle, the Knights lost the war, but will take some solice out of hanging on to their top eight spot.

Murray’s willingness to take the game on at all costs proved to be a real game-changer, and it allowed their potent forward line to do work their magic from a range of positions. Each player who rotated through the forward 50 looked dangerous, with the likes of Riley Bice, Bailey Frauenfelder, Zane Barzen and Hudson Garoni all bagging multiple goals. Midfielder Kyle Clarke was also impressive as he mixed his minutes between the centre bounces and forward 50.

For Northern, skipper Braedyn Gillard led from the front and was aided well by Harrison Grace in the midfield, while ruckman Tom Hallebone had one of his best games for the year. With their defence under constant pressure, rebounding bottomager Ryan Gardner stood up, while Stefan Uzelac impressed with his contested marking.

 

Dandenong Stingrays 13.13 (91) defeated Eastern Ranges 6.3 (39)

Dandenong Stingrays bounced back from their first loss of the season to shake off a determined Eastern Ranges outfit at Shepley Oval. The Stingrays went in as heavy favourites against the winless Ranges, but had a competitive match with the Ranges taking it up to them in the first term to trail by just two points. The Stingrays kicked away in the second quarter with a four goals to one term to open up a 22-point advantage at the main break, before extending that to an even five goals by three quarter time. A three goal to zero final quarter saw the final margin blow out to 52 points, which was arguably not indicative of the closeness between the teams.

AFL Academy member Sam Fletcher came back into the side for his first game of 2018 and went handball crazy, picking up 21 handballs as part of his 24-possession, six-tackle and four-clearance game. Talented Stingrays bottom-ager Hayden Young stood up with 20 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds, capping off his all-round game with a goal. Usual ball winners Campbell Hustwaite and Jamie Plumridge had just 12 disposals each, but in their place the likes of James Hickey and Reid Nanscawen (both 17 disposals) stood up, as did AFL Academy member Bailey Williams with 25 hitouts and a goal, while Corey Ellison slotted three majors.

For Eastern, Tyler Edwards was the highest disposal winner, notching up 24 disposals, four tackles, five clearances and five rebounds, while last week’s AFL Draft Central Player of the Week, Joel Burleigh, had a modest 18 disposals compared to his 40 in round five, but laid 13 tackles in a good defensive effort. Kye Quirk had 20 disposals and six rebounds off half-back, while Billy McCormack had 19 disposals, seven hitouts and four rebounds.

 

Calder Cannons 10.8 (68) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 4.5 (29)

A six goals to one third term helped Calder Cannons secure their third win of the season over a plucky Bendigo Pioneers in a rain-affected game at RAMS Arena. Playing in the evening, the Cannons and Pioneers had to endure some heavy showers early on, with a dour first half producing just three goals. A spirited third term saw the Cannons all but put the game to bed, piling on six goals to one to open up a 43-point advantage at the final break. Bendigo booted two of the final three goals to outscore the home side in the final term, but were unable to bridge the deficit as the Cannons celebrated a 39-point victory at home.

Mitch Podhajski was the star of the show in his return to the Cannons side, with the Calder co-captain amassing 27 disposals, seven marks, laying 15 tackles and booting three goals in a best on ground performance in the victory. After a quiet first half, Lachlan Sholl turned it on with a 26-disposal second half to bring his night’s total to 35, to go with his eight marks and six rebounds. Daniel Hanna was important taking five marks from his 26 disposals and a major, while Ismail Moussa was important in the first half, finishing with 23 disposals, five marks and three rebounds, and Jack Evans (22 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) was used more up the field than in previous weeks to be an important link in the chain.

For Bendigo, Noah Wheeler racked up 21 kicks in his 25 disposals, four clearances, five inside 50s and four tackles, while Daniel Keating was good around the ground in the ruck with 16 disposals, five marks, 22 hitouts four clearances and a goal. Hunter Lawrence had 18 disposals, six tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while bottom-ager James Schischka (18 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) was also important for the losing side.

 

Gippsland Power 20.18 (138) defeated Sandringham Dragons 4.5 (29)

Gippsland Power put Sandringham Dragons to the sword on Sunday with a thumping 109-point victory at Morwell Recreation Reserve. The Power put their top four credentials on the table with 10 goals in each half, restricting the Dragons to just one goal after the main break, and held the visitors scoreless in the final term. The highlight was a seven goal to one third term, with Gippsland piling on 13 goals up one end in a dominant display. For the Dragons, it was their third consecutive loss as they continue to shuffle the magnets around in the absence of their top players with the APS football season forcing them to experiment which will hopefully see them record a win soon. 

Gippsland had 11 individual goal kickers in the victory, led by Sam Flanders (four goals), Austin Hodge (four) and Harvey Neocleous (three). Boadie Motton topped the disposal count with 30 touches, while also taking four marks, racking up four clearances and booting a goal. Riley Baldi lead the team clearances again with five, to go with his 27 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s, while Matthew McGannon (25 disposals, five marks and four tackles), Bailey Beck (24 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s) and Bailey Patterson (23 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) all booted a goal. Captain Xavier Duursma continued his consistent season with 23 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s.

For the Dragons, Harry Bede was Sandringham’s best, collecting 25 disposals, eight marks, six rebounds and booting a goal, while Dawit McNeish returned to the side with positive numbers including 19 disposals, six tackles and two clearances. Beaten in the clearances, Thomas Deane-Johns was a shining light for the Dragons, picking up four clearances in a team-high performance. Ethan Casey (24 hitouts), Corey Watts (13 disposals and five rebounds) and Ryan Byrnes (16 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s) were the other busy players.

 

GWV Rebels 9.10 (64) drew with Oakleigh Chargers 9.10 (64)

By: Cameron Ross

A determined Oakleigh Chargers shared the points with the desperate GWV Rebels in miserable conditions on Sunday. In somewhat typical Ballarat fashion, a freezing south-westerly made for a two goal advantage to the Midlands Highway end of the field and the Chargers took advantage early. Atu Bosenavulagi started the game in fine fashion, kicking the two early goals for the visitors and asserting himself physically at the contest. The Rebels struggled to get the ball past halfway before Scott Carlin set the blueprint for the remainder of the game, with run and carry being the best method to advance the ball into the wind.

The Rebels clung on with the Chargers dominating the game early, as solid defence from Jacob Lohmann and Harrison Butler, kept the visitors within three goals at quarter time. The second quarter played out remarkably similar to the first quarter, with the Rebels taking over the game instead. Jed Hill got his hands on the footy and kicked an early goal from long range but it was Ben Annett who led the way for the Rebels with his ferocious attack on the footy sparking his teammates into action. Annett kicked two goals in the second term to bring the Rebels within a point at the long break.

The third quarter was once again dominated by the team with the wind, and Lachlan Bugeja had a huge say. Bugeja not only kicked back to back goals but his work rate through the midfield was outstanding. Bugeja was winning clearances, free kicks, and setting up goals and it felt like every stoppage the Chargers “number 2” was having an impact. This impact was felt on the scoreboard with the Chargers leading by two goals at the final change. Rebels coach Marc Greig urged his side for one more big quarter, and when Charlie Wilson goaled for the Rebels early, it looked as though he may have his wish. Yet within moments the exciting Collier-Dawkins snapped the quick reply and it was game on.

A strange umpiring decision for a “deliberate” rushed behind gave Jed Hill the easiest goal of the season, and moments later, Hill nailed another, this time an unbelievably skilful goal on his non-preferred left that tied the game. The final ten minutes were extremely tense with skill errors from both sides giving their opponents the chance to win. In the final seconds, Collier Dawkins had a chance to win the game for his side, but slightly pushed his kick across goal. The siren blew before the Rebels had a chance to take the kick in and both teams had to settle for a draw. The game wasn’t one that will be remembered by many, but both sides played extremely well in difficult conditions.