Tag: throwback

Throwback: 2019 AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser

WITH news that Western Australia will take on South Australia in an epic Under 19-themed AFL Grand Final curtain-raiser event, we take a look back at the last time budding AFL Draft prospects took the field ahead of their future counterparts, in 2019. The annual Under 17 Futures All Star clash has been scrapped for the last two years due to Covid restrictions, but proved a valuable sighter for the 2020 crop.

46 of the nation’s best talents got together to form Team Brown (black) and Team Dal Santo (white), battling it out on the big stage in what ended up being a very rare occasion for last year’s draft class, given it was ridded of an Under 18 National Championship and plenty of regular season football.

Of the 46 players afield, 36 have since been drafted with 22 making their AFL debuts this season. Among them was Sydney Swans Academy graduate Braeden Campbell, who shot into top 10 consideration with a best afield performance for Team Brown, who ran out 47-point winners.

A teammate of Campbell’s on the day, Jake Bowey also showcased his class with quick and clean skills, and will likely line up for Melbourne in this year’s AFL decider – bringing his journey full circle. Also available for selection in the big dance is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who featured for Team Brown and was last year’s number one pick.

Eight of 2020’s top 10 draftees took the field, and it would have been a perfect record had Denver Grainger-Barras and Nik Cox been available. The earliest pick to miss selection was Luke Pedlar, who was snapped up by Adelaide with pick 11. A range of first round bolters also missed, including 2021 debutants Tom Powell, Conor Stone, Max Holmes, and Brayden Cook.

While the showcase nature of the game makes for required viewing for most keen draft watchers, fans would also have taken a keen interest given the whopping 18 club-tied players who were selected. It was no secret from even that early stage that the 2020 draft would be heavily compromised, and that figure only proved as much.

Nine Northern Academy talents took the field, with Campbell and his Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden the standouts. Of the seven-man Next Generation Academy crew, Ugle-Hagan, Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide), and Reef McInnes (Collingwood) were all selected in the first round, while Taj Schofield landed at Port as a father-son candidate. Luke Edwards also fell under father-son eligibility, but was taken by West Coast in the open draft after Adelaide passed on nominating him.

While there were plenty of eventual draftees who missed out on selection in this game, but later proved their worth, the Futures fixture has long been an important one in identifying the next generation of talent. In 2019, it proved particularly essential given the class of 2020 endured a heavily interrupted season and limited opportunities to shine on the big stage.

This year, with another clash between WA and SA, there looms another critical opportunity for budding prospects to stake their claims as genuine contenders under a grand spotlight. There will inevitably be a riser, a surprise packet, one who stamps his first round credentials. We’ll find out who on September 25.

Featured Image: Port Adelaide’s Taj Schofield in action during the 2019 Futures All Star showcase | Credit: AFL Photos

Classic Contests: Menadue helps Jets hold off Ranges fightback

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 19 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Western Jets. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2014, when the two sides met for a mid-season clash at Box Hill City Oval.

2014 TAC Cup, Round 10
Sunday June 15, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

EASTERN RANGES 3.1 | 6.3 | 8.5 | 12.9 (81)
WESTERN JETS 4.1 | 9.3 | 12.4 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS:

Eastern: S. Weideman 3, P. Klep 2, S. Lennox 2, B. Hardwick 2, M. Traynor, R. Sheridan-Ferrie, L. Sverns
Western:
B. Coletta 5, L. Spiteri 3, C. Menadue 2, M. Orr, L. Delahey, R. Stuhldreier

BEST:

Eastern: L. Hannon, D. Crocker, J. Collins, J. Healy, M. Traynor, A. Cotte
Western:
B. Myers, C. Menadue, B. Monk, B. Coletta, M. Orr, L. Spiteri

Draftees in action:

Eastern: Blake Hardwick, Sam Weideman
Western: Connor Menadue

Only percentage separated the Western Jets (third) and Eastern Ranges (sixth) before their Round 10 TAC Cup clash in 2014, making for what would be a scintillating contest. Both sides boasted 5-4 records to that point and had accumulated their wins in identical fashion. After dropping their first three games for the season, they would embark on five-game winning runs, before both going down in Round 9. With five teams on five wins creating a logjam among the top eight, premiership points were at a premium.

Plenty of draftees came out of either region throughout the 2013/14 period too, though names like Christian Petracca and Ryan Clarke would miss for Eastern, while Western went in without Liam Duggan, Corey Ellis, Jayden Laverde, and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow. Of the future AFL-listed players to take the field were bottom-agers Blake Hardwick and Sam Weideman for the Ranges, with Connor Menadue the lone prospect in that category for Western.

In a high-scoring opening term, Western found a way to edge ahead with four goals to three, acclimatising well to conditions on the road. The Jets would extend their even one-goal lead out to three at the main break, and it seemed as though they would be able to cruise home as the buffer sat at a very handy 23 points heading into the final change.

But Eastern would not go down without a fight, and managed to produce its best term of football at the death. Four unanswered goals helped the Ranges sneak ahead with under five minutes left to play, and it looked for all hope that they simply had more left in the tank – not to mention all the momentum. In need of a hero, Menadue stepped up for Western to boot his side’s only major for the quarter and save the Jets from heartbreak, as they held on to win by four points.

Menadue’s efforts (31 disposals, six marks, five tackles, 2.3) were good enough only for second-best afield honours behind teammate Billy Myers (29 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles). Brandon Coletta (five goals) and Leigh Spiteri (three) were dangerous inside forward 50 for the winners, combining for over half their total goals.

Skipper Luke Hannon was named Eastern’s best for his 31 disposals and 12 tackles, in front of a debuting Jayden Collins. Weideman showed his high-level potential with three goals, while Hardwick added two in a role much different to what he plays for Hawthorn, and Matthew Traynor found plenty of the ball (26 disposals, one goal).

The Jets would go on to add three more wins to its regular season tally to finish with a positive record (9-8) in sixth, but were bundled out in an elimination final at the hands of Dandenong. Eastern slipped as well, missing out on finals by two games with a 7-10 record to slot in to the unwanted ninth place.

Classic Contests: Jets hold off late Pioneers charge

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 Western Jets and Bendigo Pioneers. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2016, when Western was forced to hold off a late Bendigo fightback at Downer Oval.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 7
Sunday May 15, 12:00pm
Downer Oval

WESTERN JETS 1.1 | 4.6 | 11.9 | 11.11 (77)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

Western: S. Syme 2, O. Junker 2, B. Graham 2, S. Griffiths, R. Ham, J. Dundon, D. Foley, T. Xerri.
Bendigo:
J. Rosengren 2, B. Whitford 2, J. Exell, J. Atley, C. Jones, B. Blake, J. Thomas.

BEST:

Western: O. Junker, D. Foley, R. Ham, J. Dundon, F. Campisi, J. Cotter
Bendigo:
K. Farrell, Z. Norris, K. Kirby, B. Blake, J. Atley, J. Exell

Draftees in action:

Western: Oscar Junker, Tristan Xerri 
Bendigo:
Joe Atley, Kayle Kirby, Angus Schumacher, Kane Farrell

Both the Western Jets and Bendigo Pioneers may have been languishing down the wrong end of the ladder throughout 2014, but that did not stop them from delivering an entertaining clash in Round 7 of the TAC Cup season. The Jets, who would host the game at Downer Oval, came in carrying a 1-5 record. After trumping Oakleigh in Round 1, they dropped five-consecutive games to sit 10th. Bendigo was poised just above them on the ladder at 2-4, and looked to be on the way up having snapped a three-game losing streak in Round 6 against Eastern.

With the opportunity at hand to pick up points against more level opposition, both sides enjoyed their own runs of momentum. Bendigo edged ahead at the first break, but Western hit back to gain its own eight-point advantage to half time. The scoring was relatively steady with just seven goals on the board between either side, but that would soon be about to change.

Games of two completely contrasting halves are commonplace in football, but what ensued in this clash was a second half consisting of two polar-opposite quarters. The Jets looked to be soaring to an easy victory having slammed home seven goals to Bendigo’s one in the third period, opening up a 47-point buffer. Though the margin seemed unassailable and proved as much in the end, the Pioneers gave the unlikely comeback a good crack in the run home with five goals to nil. Despite the late scare, Western held on to win by 14 points for its second win of the season.

Former North Melbourne midfielder Oscar Junker was named best afield in his side’s win, finishing with 26 disposals, six marks, and two goals to his name. The likes of Daniel Foley (27 disposals) and Judah Dundon (29) also found plenty of the ball. Tristan Xerri, another North Melbourne draftee, kicked a goal and managed 13 hitouts.

The cream rose to the top for Bendigo, with Port Adelaide forward Kane Farrell (25 disposals, eight marks) named the Pioneers’ best. Fellow future draftees Kayle Kirby (14 disposals) and Joe Atley (22, eight tackles) were not far behind, while Jamieson Sheahan and Darby Henderson found a heap of the ball as usual despite the loss.

Western went on to jump Bendigo in the final standings, finishing 10th on the back of a 5-13 record, with Bendigo slumping to 11th at 4-14 for the year. The Round 16 reverse fixture at Queen Elizabeth Oval proved a defining game for the Jets, as they won by 32 points on the road to gain a consolation ladder position.

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: Dragons down Rebels with final term turnaround

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 Sandringham Dragons and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, when both sides were cemented in the top eight, the Rebels were called North Ballarat, and the Dragons managed to snatch four points on the road.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 11
Saturday June 25, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

NORTH BALLARAT REBELS 7.0 | 9.1 | 11.3 | 13.5 (83)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.1 | 4.2 | 9.6 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS:

North Ballarat: J. Johnston 7, S. Beks 2, I. Johnson, J. Jones, J. Harrison, M. Scales
Sandringham:
J. Trew 4, W. Walker 2, H. Burt, K. Beveridge, C. Larkin, H. Mclean, L. Harris, A. Sakeson, I. Morrisby

BEST:

North Ballarat: J. Johnston, C. Wellings, J. Wheelahan, J. McQueen, C. Cox, N. McRoberts
Sandringham:
J. Trew, A. Sakeson, R. Hayward, K. Nissenbaum, T. Maloney, H. Burt

Draftees in action:

North Ballarat: Cedric Cox, Jamaine Jones, Flynn Appleby
Sandringham: Will Walker, Hayden McLean

The Sandringham Dragons and GWV Rebels have not faced each other since May in 2017, but produced a captivating contest just a year prior to that at Mars Stadium. Both sides boasted stacked squads and were firmly entrenched in the finals race. While they met amid the early fixturing of that year’s Under 18 National Championships, the two regions had enough depth to put on a quality showing.

Playing at home, the Rebels came in at 6-4, enough to put them in sixth spot. They had just come off a loss to the Geelong Falcons after winning six games in a row. The Dragons were six points clear at 7-2-1 to slot into third place, and looked to be turning back into some form with consecutive wins which followed two-straight losses. North Ballarat would be without the likes of Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage, with Sandringham had to go without Tim Taranto, Will Setterfield, Andrew McGrath, and Oliver Florent, among others.

It meant the Rebels were able to get the early jump, storming out of the blocks with seven-straight goals to Sandringham’s two in the opening term. The 29-point lead held at the first break remained exactly the same at half time as either side added two majors to their tallies, but the hosts looked rather comfortable out in front.

That comfort wouldn’t remain for too much longer, though. After the two teams went goal-for-goal across the first 15 minutes of the third term, Sandringham piled on three unanswered majors late in the piece to bring the margin back to within two goals. That same momentum carried on into the final period of play, as North Ballarat could not quite hold on in the face of the Dragons’ scoreboard pressure. The visitors would sneak over the line by four points in a remarkable late turnaround.

A couple of big goal hauls headlined the effort on either side, with North Ballarat’s Jordan Johnston booting seven, while Sandringham’s Josh Trew managed four. North Melbourne draftee Will Walker snared two majors, while Cat-turned-Eagle Jamaine Jones also found the big sticks, and Cedric Cox was named among the Rebels’ best players. Cal Wellings was terrific with 32 disposals, and Ari Sakeson pushed his case with 18 disposals, seven marks, and a goal.

The two regions went on to swap ladder positions come the end of the regular season, with North Ballarat jumping to third (12-5), while Sandringham slid to fifth (11-5-1). It mattered little for the Dragons, who claimed the 2016 TAC Cup premiership and had seven players go in the National Draft – including five in the first 11 picks. North Ballarat bowed out to Oakleigh in the semi finals, and had six players drafted from its squad that year.

Classic Contests: Ranges find a way to hold on against plucky Bushies

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 Eastern Ranges and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind the clock back just over a year to when the two sides played out the closest contest between them in nearly a decade.

2019 NAB League, Round 13
Saturday July 6, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

Draftees in action:

Murray: Nil
Eastern:
Nil

Two teams in hot form met come Round 13 of last year’s NAB League competition, though there was plenty separating them in terms of ladder position. In the red corner was Eastern, flying high on the back of five-straight wins which put the Ranges firmly in the box seat with a 9-2 record. In the blue corner, Murray had a patch of mid-late season form to string together three-consecutive wins coming into this contest, but would have to challenge the ladder-leaders without co-captains Lachlan Ash and Dylan Clarke.

That factor looked like having a telling impact early at Norm Minns Oval. While the sides went goal-for-goal across the first ten minutes with two apiece, the Ranges began to take hold of the opening term. If not for some inaccuracy (5.5), the visiting team would have been further in front, but were made to settle for a 17-point buffer.

In a case of déjà vu, the Bushrangers again found the opening major in term two, but were sucked into another goal-for-goal sequence – this time across the first 15 minutes of the term. The Ranges would break away again with two late majors, extending the margin to 28 points at half time.

Murray fell away, then reversed the pattern in the third term to get back to within three goals heading into the final break, giving them a fighting chance at snatching the win. After just six minutes in the fourth period, the hosts had managed to get back to level pegging, but Ben Hickleton‘s goal three minutes later to put Eastern back in front would prove the last major score of the game. As good teams do, Eastern simply found a way to win once again, having made the most of their opportunities after half time with 3.0 to Murray’s 6.6.

Hickleton finished the game with four goals, including the all-important game winner, with Mitch Mellis Eastern’s only other multiple goalkicker (two) to go with 22 disposals. Jimmy Boyer and Hudson Kaak each bagged three majors for Murray, while Jye Chalcraft led all comers with 29 disposals. Zak Pretty joined Mellis on 22 touches to be Eastern’s leading ball winners. Bigmen Joel Nathan (14 disposals, three marks) and Will Christie (19 disposals, eight marks, 25 hitouts) were named best afield for their respective sides.

The Ranges would of course go on to win the minor premiership in grand style on the back of a 12-3 record, but fell at the final hurdle to a rampant Oakleigh side in the decider. Murray added just one more win to its tally across the final month, and was bundled out in Wildcard Round by Dandenong after finishing ninth. Ash was the sole player across the two regions to be picked up in the 2019 National Draft, after Eastern’s Cody Hirst got his chance at Sydney at the mid-season opening.

Classic Contests: Riccardi ensures Cannons share points in Morwell

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 17 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power. In this edition, we wind the clock back to 2018 when the two sides played out a thrilling draw decided right at the death.

2018 TAC Cup, Round 9
Sunday June 17 1:00pm
Morwell Football Ground

GIPPSLAND POWER 1.1 | 7.3 | 7.4 | 11.6 (72)
CALDER CANNONS 1.5 | 4.5 | 7.9 | 10.12 (72)

GOALS:

Gippsland: J. Smith 3, H. Pepper 2, A. Hodge 2, B. Smith 2, B. Motton, N. Gown.
Calder:
J. Riccardi 5, J. Roumeliotis 2, S. Ramsay, M. Abou-Eid, H. Minton-Connell.

BEST:

Gippsland: J. van der Pligt, A. Hodge, B. Smith, B. Beck, N. Gown, R. Baldi
Calder:
W. Jury, J. Riccardi, M. Abou-Eid, H. Jones, I. Moussa , S. Graham

Draftees in action:

Gippsland: Noah Gown, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, Leo Connolly, Harry Pepper
Calder: Jake Riccardi, Harrison Jones, Sam Ramsay, Lachlan Johnson (via Oakleigh Chargers)

There may have been a host of top-age draft prospects out of TAC Cup action in Round 9 of the 2018 season, leaving it up to Calder and Gippsland’s bottom, and over-agers to produce a thriller in Morwell. The Power were the more fancied side, sitting pretty in second spot with a 6-1-1 record on the back of four-straight wins. Calder’s 3-5 start to the season had it poised in eighth spot, having lost two on the trot and failed to string together consecutive wins to that point.

With those factors in mind and despite both sides coming in heavily depleted, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Calder get the early jump with a two-goal head start. That two-goal buffer was the best Calder would muster, and only lasted until six minutes into the second term, when back-to-back Brock Smith goals send Gippsland in front. With Josh Smith and Harrison Pepper also boasting two majors each, the Power broke out to a 16-point lead at half time.

Cue the next momentum shift, as the Cannons hit back with a three-goal to nil third term to inflict a 21-point turnaround. Touches of inaccuracy threatened to hurt the away side, but they were well and truly in the hunt heading into the final change. It seemed for all money that Boadie Motton‘s 23rd-minute major would see Gippsland snatch the four points, but Jake Riccardi‘s reply with under a minute left on the clock saw the two sides share spoils come the final siren.

In a remarkable game-defining patch, Riccardi booted Calder’s last five goals for the game to prove his credentials as a potential draft bolter. While he would be made to wait at least another year for his chance at the elite level, his AFL qualities shone through. John Roumeliotis had a similar, steadying impact for the Cannons early on, but it was Will Jury who was adjudged his side’s best. Harrison Jones showed some promise, taking the field alongside fellow draftees Sam Ramsay and Lachlan Johnson.

Josh Smith led the Power’s goalkicking charge with three snags, followed by three players who managed two, including Brock Smith, Pepper, and Austin Hodge. Jake Van Der Plight beat them all to best afield honours, even trumping the likes of Noah Gown on the day.

The drawn clash would be the only meeting between the two sides in 2018, and was Gippsland’s second tie for the year. The Power went on to finish second at 12-2-2, before having their season ended in emphatic fashion by way of a 93-point thumping at the hands of Oakleigh. Calder improved slightly to finish seventh at 7-8-1, but bowed out in Wildcard Round to a replenished Geelong Falcons outfit.

Classic Contests: Stingrays hold off Chargers to break premiership drought

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 17 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind the clock back to the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final, when Dandenong held off the Metro powerhouse to break through for its maiden premiership.

2018 TAC Cup, Grand Final
Saturday September 22, 12:05pm
Ikon Park

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.1 | 6.2 | 10.7 | 12.8 (80)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.2 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 11.8 (74)

GOALS:

Dandenong: Z. Foot 2, L. McDonnell 2, B. Williams 2, S. Sturt 2, N. Cahill, F. Bayne, R. Bowman, T. Bedford.
Oakleigh:
D. Williams 4, N. Anderson 2, J. Ross, R. Collier-Dawkins, A. Bosenavulagi, J. Robertson, J. Gasper.

BEST:

Dandenong: C. Hustwaite, D. Frampton, L. Stenning, W. Hamill, S. Fletcher, B. Williams
Oakleigh:
M. Rowell, R. Collier-Dawkins, D. Williams, N. Answerth , J. Robertson, L. Westwood

Draftees in action:

Dandenong: Mitch Riordan, Sam Fletcher, Matthew Cottrell, Bailey Williams, Sam Sturt, Toby Bedford, Will Hamill, Zac Foot, Lachie Young, Ned Cahill, Hayden Young
Oakleigh: Noah Answerth, Isaac Quaynor, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Xavier O’Neill, Will Kelly, Jack Ross, Atu Bosenavulagi, James Rowbottom, James Jordan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Dylan Williams

The premier Victorian Under 18 competition has a happy knack of producing memorable grand finals, and the 2018 decider between Dandenong and Oakleigh lived up to all the hype. The Stingrays came in as the team to beat having secured the minor premiership at 15-1 – any guesses as to which team beat them during the year?

Oakleigh was that side, having snuck home by a goal against Dandenong back in Round 5, though the Stingrays’ redemptive victory in their Round 9 reverse fixture had the head-to-head ledger locked at a dead-even 1-1.

Having finished third on the ladder with a 10-5-1 record, Oakleigh looked to be the form side of the competition heading into Grand Final week, with their two finals wins coming by a combined 213 points. Hardly outdone, the Stingrays had won 13 games on the trot and built a combined margin of 152 points en route to the decider.

As is often the case come season’s end, barring injuries, both regions would boast near full-strength squads, with Jai Nanscawen and Ben Silvagni the only two glaring absentees for either side.

As has often been the case, the two systems also produced a raft of draftable talent and boasted some of the more stacked lineups you’re likely to see at the level. Dandenong fielded all nine of its 2018 draftees and a further two from its 2019 crop. In response, Oakleigh managed to fit 10 of its 11 2018 draftees into the lineup, with four elite movers from the following cohort also making an impact.

Having conceded a seven-point deficit at the opening break, the Stingrays clicked into gear with four unanswered goals in the second stanza to set up what looked to be a game-defining lead. The lead remained heading into the final term, and Sam Sturt‘s goal early in the piece suggested Dandenong would cruise home to a breakthrough premiership victory.

The Chargers wouldn’t let up though, sending their opponents into panic stations with four-consecutive goals to draw within a goal, but desperation helped Dandenong hang on for a deserving six-point win.

2019 number one pick Matt Rowell would show an early sign of his value in important games, earning the medal for best afield in a losing effort. Fellow bottom-ager Noah Anderson was also exceptional with two final term goals, while Dylan Williams booted four for the day in a showing of his potential.

But Dandenong would get the job done, with skipper Campbell Hustwaite bossing the midfield alongside Sam Fletcher, while Riley Bowman stood up in a high level ruck tussle with Will Kelly, and Sturt proved his first round credentials with two goals. Another bolter, Riley Collier-Dawkins was named second-best for Oakleigh.

The loss seemed to spark a fire under the Oakleigh side, with the six under-age players to take the field on that day all contributing to the Chargers’ 2019 premiership triumph. Dandenong’s premiership defence did not go as planned, but the breakthrough win after five previous grand final losses will be remembered for years to come.

Classic Contests: Cassar, Honey star as Jets soar past the Devils

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 17 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to Round 5 of 2019, when the Jets soared to a comfortable win away from home.

2019 NAB League, Round 5
Sunday April 28, 11:45am
UTAS Stadium

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western:
A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: 
D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matthew McGuinness
Western:
 Josh Honey

Two sides with a couple of wins already under their belts went head-to-head early in last year’s NAB League campaign, with Tasmania hosting the Western Jets at UTAS Stadium in Launceston. The Devils had made a positive start in their maiden full-time season, enjoying a bye in Round 1 and bouncing back from their Round 2 loss to take a 2-1 record heading into this clash. Western sat similarly poised at 2-2, having just secured a rebound victory over the Northern Territory a week earlier.

While the two regions would lay claim to a pair of draftees each come the end of the year, only one would take the field on either side; with North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness lining up for the home side, while Carlton recruit Josh Honey ran through midfield for Western. The Jets were missing Emerson Jeka, with Tasmania also down a tall target as Jackson Callow came out of the side. Fellow Academy-based bottom-agers Oliver Davis and Sam Collins were also absent alongside Mitch O’Neill in a blow to the Devils’ chances.

The losses seem to take toll early, as the Devils failed capitalise on their domination of the territory and possession. A 20-minute goalless patch ensued after debutant Isaac Chugg put through the game’s first goal, only for Western to hit back twice within the final five minutes of the opening term to hit the front. It seemed to sink the Devils a touch, as they went on to go goalless throughout the second stanza, while giving up another two goals and a 15-point deficit at half time – albeit in a low-scoring contest.

Lachlan Gadomski broke Tasmania’s hour-long goal drought with a major nine minutes into the third term, but it proved a feeble form of reply as Western continued to pile on the scoreboard pressure and extended the margin to 31 points at three quarter time. It was an unassailable gap, and the Jets only further ensured it would be a bridge too far as they kicked away to a nine-goal lead, only to settle for the final 47-point margin.

Darcy Cassar ran the show off half-back for Western, proving a key player in shifting the early momentum back into the Jets’ favour. He finished with 31 disposals, 13 marks, and eight rebound 50s, while Honey booted two goals from his 25 touches. Tasmanian pair Bailey Gordon and Patrick Walker matched that feat to be their sides’ leading ball winners. Archi Manton led the goalkicking stakes with three goals, followed by bottom-aged Eddie Ford and Honey on two. Oliver Burrows-Cheng and McGuinness were named among the Devils’ best.

Tasmania would go on to add just two wins to its record across the season, finishing in 12th spot at 4-11 and bowing out during Wildcard Round to Calder. The Jets earned a seventh-place finish, storming into finals where they upset Northern in the elimination stage, but had their run ended by Gippsland in the semi finals a week later.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 17 – Chargers, Ranges win thrillers amid dual triple-headers

ROUND 17 of the 2019 NAB League was split into two triple-headers, with the six Metropolitan sides going head-to-head at Avalon Airport Oval on the Saturday, while Queen Elizabeth Oval hosted the six Country regions on Sunday, and Tasmania enjoyed a bye. Top three challengers Oakleigh and Eastern won out in thrillers, with a certain number two pick dragging the Chargers home, while a gun Next-Generation Academy prospect snatched four points for the Ranges with a kick after the siren.

But the weekend’s action started with a clash between Western and Northern, a game which saw the Knights handle the conditions better to run our 32-point winners. The Jets could not take full toll of their promising start, booting 1.4 to Northern’s 2.2 in the first quarter, before the latter pulled away with six goals to nil in term two to set up a game-defining margin. There would be little scoring after that, with the sides combining for just five goals after half-time.

The competition’s two leading goalkickers went head-to-head, with Josh D’Intinosante booting four goals to Archi Manton‘s three, but the Jets forward taking out top honours for his season tally. Promising bottom-ager Nikolas Cox added two for Northern, while Adam Carafa (23 disposals) and Darcy Cassar (22) led the ball winning stakes for their respective sides. Josh Watson enjoyed a breakout game with 21 touches and a goal, and in a cool quirk, Carlton draftees Sam Philp and Josh Honey competed on opposite sides shortly before becoming teammates.

Things really ramped up in the following fixture, as Connor Downie‘s post-siren set shot helped Eastern nab a four-point win over Calder from nowhere. The Cannons looked to have poked their noses in front at the ideal time as the lead changed hands on multiple occasions throughout the match, but a two-goal margin in the final term was quickly reigned back. In a last roll of the dice play, Downie would win a free kick inside 50 and sink the resultant shot to break Calder hearts and seal the minor premiership.

Eastern’s Lachlan Stapleton was massive in the clutch moments, and finished with 23 disposals and two goals in a terrific display of heart. Calder’s Jake Sutton beat him out in the goalkicking department with three majors, while Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (26) led all comers in terms of disposals amid their back-and-forth midfield battle. Essendon’s Harrison Jones also looked lively up forward, booting a goal from 17 disposals and four marks.

If spectators thought that game would be the peak of entertainment for the afternoon, they were in for a treat when Oakleigh and Sandringham took the field. 11 eventual draftees were in action, including the top two selections, in what was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent history. After Finn Maginness booted the Dragons out to a 29-point lead early in the final term, Noah Anderson stepped up with back-to-back majors to help put the Chargers in front, before Cooper Sharman sealed the remarkable comeback to see Oakleigh home by seven points.

The cream truly rose to the top, with Anderson’s match-winning efforts seeing him finish with 24 disposals and three goals. Potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was spectacular in the air in his four-goal display, while Matt Rowell wowed again with a mammoth 34 touches. Darcy Chirgwin led the way in that department for Sandringham with 30 disposals, but it was Maginness who stole the show with three goals from his 17 touches. Bottom-ager Archie Perkins also snagged a hat-trick of majors, as the wealth of talent on show made for scintillating viewing.

Fast forward to Sunday and switching over to the Country regions, Gippsland opened the show with a 10-point win over hosts, Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. In another heartbreaker, the Pioneers led at every break, albeit by slim margins, but faltered at the last as the Power surged home with 4.5 to the home side’s 3.0. The quality was evident in this clash too, with eight future draftees running out for their respective sides.

Among them, Fraser Phillips was one of six players on either team to boot two goals, also adding three behinds from his 19 disposals. Riley Baldi put in a terrific shift with a game-high 27 disposals and two majors, while Thomson Dow was among Bendigo’s best ball winners with 24 touches and a goal. Charlie Comben showed promising signs in his ruck/forward role, collecting 12 disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, and 1.3, while a pair of Pioneers bottom-agers also fared well – with Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell both earning multiple goals.

Geelong notched just its third win of the season, accounting for reigning premier Dandenong to the tune of 31 points in a convincing effort. The Falcons shot to a five-goal buffer at half time and never looked back, extending the margin to an even 50 points heading into the final break, and coasting home despite the Stingray’s best efforts to claw back the deficit. Remarkably, the Falcons only registered one more scoring shot than their opponents, with their accurate 15.9 proving the difference when compared to Dandenong’s 9.14.

Charlie Sprague capped off his over-age season with a bang, booting six goals as the Falcons’ spearhead. Bottom-age jets Oliver Henry and Tanner Bruhn also contributed two majors each, while Dandenong’s Lachlan Williams (three goals) was his side’s most potent mover. Another 19-year-old, Will Lewis led all comers with 24 disposals, followed by Geelong captain Jesse Clark on 23. The likes of Hayden Young and Cody Weightman ran out for Dandenong, but could do little to thwart the Falcons’ emerging talents from taking hold.

The final game of the 2019 regular season saw the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels down Murray by 15 points in a relatively low-scoring affair, with neither side able to take full advantage of their opportunities. It mattered little in the end for the Rebels, who produced a greater wealth of chances throughout the day, while the Bushrangers could only manage a goal per the first three terms.

Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin snagged a game-high three goals from 17 disposals as the only multiple goalkicker afield, showcasing all of his individual quality. Fellow Rebel Cooper Craig-Peters led all comers with 24 disposals, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals) and Cam Wild (21) fared best for the Bushies. Draftees Jay Rantall and Lachlan Ash were kept to 20 and 19 touches respectively, while a bunch of Under 16 talent shone through for both sides.