Photo courtesy of Josh Choveaux and our friends at TAC Cup Radio.
Sandringham Dragons 12.10 (82) def Murray Bushrangers 10.13 (73)
Sandringham ran away with the elimination final win after a thrilling four quarter effort from both teams. Tom Wilkinson was the star for the Dragons, with an early goal setting the tone. His two goals, eight tackles and 23 disposals was thrilling, as he took players on and busted his way through the guts to create opportunities throughout the game.
It seemed to be all Sandringham’s way in the first quarter as livewire Harley Balic, Angus Brayshaw and Tom Wilkinson all nailed early goals. The Bushrangers were able to kick two first quarter goals, including a beauty from Nick Mellington, to stay in the game. Mellington finished with 31 disposals, but he struggled to hit targets, running at a disappointing 44 per cent by foot. Many players struggled to hit targets however, despite almost perfect weather conditions.
The second quarter followed the same tone. The Bushrangers became really dangerous, particularly Dan Howe. The 19 year old finished with three goals and 23 disposals, as he single handedly revived the Bushrangers. He no doubt might have kicked more goals, but the Dragons Michael Manteit controlled the backline, and his 26 disposals created a number of important drives off the back flanks. His 81 per cent disposal efficiency really helped, as did his 14 handball receives.
Nathan Drummond really stepped up in the second half. He was absolutely everywhere, and was on par with Dan Howe for the best Bushrangers player. His 30 disposals, one goal and six tackles were not only excellent in volume, but also in quality. Drummond broke out of the centre square and set up several highlight reel plays. Recruiters would be ignorant to pass over him two years in a row.
At the other end, Michael Pavlou did his best to get noticed. He kicked two quick fire long range goals that brought the house down. The small forward finished with 16 disposals for the day.
The final quarter was thrilling, and the stage was set for a star to be born. Again, it was Wilkinson and Brayshaw doing the damage for the Dragons, whilst Drummond did his best to keep the Bushies alive. In the end, the Dragons advanced with a nine point win.