Looking Ahead – Round 4 preview

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ANOTHER BIG WEEKEND of TAC Cup footy kicks off under lights on Friday with Bendigo Pioneers hosting Oakleigh Chargers.

With no school football this weekend, teams are at full strength and there should be some entertaining matches played.

For the second week in a row, the TAC Cup will be played under lights with Bendigo hosting Oakleigh at QEO Oval. Oakleigh have had strong success over the past few seasons, winning three of the past four flags and will be a tough opposition for Bendigo. Bendigo themselves can take some confidence winning their last clash at QEO against Gippsland Power and will be looking to claim their second win of the season.

Pioneers midfielder Kobe Mutch is one to watch in this clash, averaging 32 disposals and six marks in his two games for the season. Mutch was apart of the AFL Academy squad that played against Werribee and Geelong VFL teams and has begun the season well. For Oakleigh Chargers, key position forward Patrick Kerr is inform after kicking six goals for St Kevins at school football on the weekend. Kerr has kicked five goals in his two games and under lights it could be a game were he collects a bag of goals.

In the next match of the round, Queensland host Western Jets up north in Aspley. The Jets haven’t won since their opening round win against the Chargers and will be hoping the interstate trip will give them a chance to gel as a team and knock off an impressive Queensland team. Queensland begun their TAC Cup campaign with a 17 point win against Northern Knights last weekend and have been aided by the inclusion of AFL Academy members Jacob Allison, Jack Bowes, Jack Rolls and Brad Scheer to their squad.

Queensland inside midfielder Curtis Marsden has impressed over the last two weeks in the trial game against Vic Country and against Northern. Marsden collected 39 disposals in a best on ground performance in the midfielder against the Knights. The Gold Coast academy member has turned some eyes over the last few weeks and is one to watch. The Jets will be looking towards Daniel Venables to step up in the midfielder and power them across the line. Venables’ was in the best with 19 disposals in their opening round win and will be looking to perform once again on Saturday in his return from injury.

Sandringham Dragons welcome Northern Territory for their first match of the 2016 TAC Cup season. The Dragons have begun this season with three wins from four clashes and will be wanting to continue this before they lose a large chunk of their squad to APS school football. Northern Territory showed flashes of brilliance in the trial game and will be looking for some spark to begin with a win.

Dragons midfielder Oliver Florent continues to perform, averaging 21 disposals in the TAC Cup this year and is building a case for November. The Dragons dynamic duo Jesse Smith and Lachlan Filipovic will be important in the ruck, with both performing well in the Vic Metro trials. Quick Northern Territory midfielder Michael Hagan is one to watch, the over-ager has returned in 2016 and will be someone the Dragons will need to watch out for with his ability to hit the scoreboard.

The undefeated Dandenong Stingrays come up against a strong NSW/ACT side at Frankston Oval. The Stingrays have been impressive in 2016 and will be looking to continue their streak. NSW/ACT begun with a win on the weekend, witholding a last quarter comeback from the Calder Cannons.

Rams midfielder Harry Perryman was again impressive on Saturday collecting 32 disposals and claiming 11 marks and the Stingrays will need to keep an eye on him. AFL Academy defender Harrison Macreadie also returns for his first TAC Cup outing of the year and it will be interesting to see who he matches up on. Stingray tall Josh Battle appears as Macreadie’s likely opponent, kicking four goals in the opening round while showing promising signs in the two AFL Academy matches. Stingrays small forward Dan Allsop is inform after kicking five goals against the Pioneers on Saturday.

Two winless sides Calder Cannons and North Ballarat Rebels will meet at RAMS Arena on Saturday afternoon. With one side guaranteed of a win, both sides will be fighting to collect the four points. Cannons midfielder Ben Ronke collected 21 disposals on the weekend and will be a key figure if the Cannons are to get a win. After a disappointing last match kicking 16 behinds, the Rebels will look to bounce back. Midfielder Hugh McCluggage was their best player in the loss, with 25 disposals and his classy work in the midfield should set the game up for the Rebels.

Down the highway, Geelong Falcons are hosting Northern Knights at Simonds Stadium. The Falcons were brutal last weekend, with a 93-point win against the Gippsland Power. Northern are yet to win a game after a falling short against Queensland at Preston City Oval on Saturday.

For the Falcons, keep an eye on ruckman Sean Darcy. At 201cm and 113kg, Darcy is an imposing figure using his size to positions himself well around the ground. His opponent Chas Roberts is more undersized and will need to work hard to give the Knights midfielders first use of the ball. Carlton Father/Son prospect Jake Bradley also returns to the Knights team after a strong game on the weekend for Carey Grammar kicking two goals.

After suffering a defeat under lights on Friday, Eastern Ranges will be looking to bounce back at home against Tasmania. Tasmania join the TAC Cup for the first time and will be looking to knock off the 2015 TAC Cup Grand Finalists.

Ranges midfielder Dylan Clarke continued his good start to the season with 28 disposals against the reining premiers Oakleigh. The left footer is a crucial player for the Ranges and will need to be monitored by the Mariners to give them a chance at winning. Tasmanian Nick Dodge was impressive in the trial match off half back. In a different role to 2015, Dodge used his run and penetrating kick well and will set up the Mariners run from defence.

In the final match of the round, top of the table meets bottom of the table. The Murray Bushrangers made it three from three with a narrow win against the Rebels on Sunday. Gippsland Power were outclassed against the Falcons on Saturday and will be looking to put in a much better effort at Ikon Park.

GWS Academy member Zachary Sproule was impressive on Sunday, getting up the ground on long leads and working his opponent over. Sproule was the only multiple goal kicker for the Bushrangers and they’ll be looking for support if they are to continue their strong start to the season. Power player Ben Ainsworth is still out injured and they will look to midfielder Kade Renooy, who is averaging 20 disposals to carry the Power to their first victory of the season.

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