Last week, the TAC Cup threw up a few surprises, a great contest and a one-sided result to leave the premiership contenders up in the air. Eastern’s forward thrusts were overpowered by Oakleigh’s defence, while Calder joined Oakleigh as the only undefeated metro teams. The first time we saw the country teams last week, it was Murray who made the biggest statement, annihilating Bendigo by over 100 points, while Gippsland showed they’re an improved side as they defeated Dandenong and Geelong and North Ballarat both indicated they will be around when the whips are cracking with a fantastic contest.
Gippsland Power vs Murray Bushrangers
Another home game for the Power and it’s hard not to be excited about this contest. They were impressive against what should be a strong Stingrays outfit and would have to go in favourites at home here. In saying that, it’s hard to see the Bushrangers not in with a shot after they wiped Bendigo off the face of the planet, led by key goal kicker Josh Schache.
Unfortunately Bendigo haven’t been the best measuring stick of a team’s abilities in recent years and Gippsland away should prove a much sterner test for the Murray boys. While Geelong and North Ballarat seem to be the top country sides, these two sides could very well be up there two in a great year for Vic Country.
In this game it’s really hard to pick a winner, but Gippsland Power are strong at home and should win in a nailbiter although this really is a 50/50 game.
Bendigo Pioneers vs North Ballarat Rebels
Two sides that are on opposite ends of the premiership clock. North Ballarat came off a narrow loss to the Geelong Falcons, but showed they could very well be a premiership contender in 2015. For Bendigo, they rarely ever looked in the contest, blown away by an impressive Murray Bushrangers in Benalla.
This game screams one-sided contest, but Bendigo at least have the home advantage, not that it’s helped too much in the past. North Ballarat would like their chances and both Darcy Tucker and Josh Hopper are a class above anyone else in this game. Bendigo have their fare share of AIS kids too with Tom Cole and Aidyn Johnson, but North Ballarat can run end-to-end in a flash with a great mix of inside and outside players.
It’s hard to see anything other than a North Ballarat win here, while as a neutral we hope to see a great contest, this could get ugly if Bendigo play like last week because simply, North Ballarat are one of the teams to beat this season.
Northern Knights vs Sandringham Dragons
This match is a battle of two teams who have unachieved so far in season 2015.
Both have the opportunity to notch up wins, but with one win between them from four games, neither is shaping up to be a massive threat in September.
This clash will be determined by who can get out of the blocks early because both have had notoriously bad starts, and despite a win against the Western Jets last week, the Dragons have not lived up to expectations.
Northern were much improved against Calder Cannons last week, a far sight better to watch that against Oakleigh Chargers the week before, but they will need to do that again.
Northern should go favourites on form, but either side would back themselves to win it.
Based purely on recent form, which is one can look at, Northern should be the winners in a close one for this contest.
Eastern Ranges vs Calder Cannons
Set to be a thrilling match of potentially high scoring, both sides have star studded lines with Calder (midfield) and Eastern (half forward) all set to feature in the Vic Metro sides.
Eastern will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss last week, while Calder will be aiming to maintain their unbeaten run.
With a midfield that contains Nick O’Kearney, Zac Wunhym and Tom Wallis, Calder will go in favourites on the back of two good wins, albeit against lesser teams.
This will be a good challenge for them, and Eastern could cause an upset, but again, based on form, Calder will win.
Western Jets vs Oakleigh Chargers
This appears to be the other one-sided contest of the round with the unbeaten Oakleigh Chargers facing off against the winless Western Jets.
Oakleigh have approached season 2015 with gusto and great defensive pressure, while Western have seemingly had a leaky defence, something that is hard to be solved overnight.
Many people will be hoping Western will bring their A-game, but Oakleigh’s immense pressure could turn this into a complete blowout.
Western’s best hope is to win the clearances because its best strength is forward of centre.
Lose the midfield battle and this could be a very long day for the Jets and Oakleigh will win it by plenty.
Dandenong Stingrays vs Geelong Falcons
The final match of Round 3 looks to be a beauty because the Stingrays unachieved in their first match, while the Falcons earned a hard-fought win against the Rebels. Both teams will be better for the run and both teams will be wanting to impress before Country Round.
Dandenong need to find more avenues to goal this weekend if they are to win, while Geelong need to maintain the intensity they showed in patches last week, for four quarters. Another aspect for Geelong was the fact that Rhys Mathieson was quiet and could turn it on this week, while Darcy Parish is a star.
For Dandenong, despite the loss the form of Jacob Weitering was something to admire and if he can get enough contribution from his teammates then the Stingrays would rate themselves as a strong chance in this game.
While this game may well only be a few goals in it, it’s very hard to look past the Falcons who have the better team on paper and the form as well.
Peter Williams tips: Gippsland, North Ballarat, Northern, Calder, Oakleigh, Geelong
Jourdan Canil tips: Gippsland, North Ballarat, Northern, Calder, Oakleigh, Geelong