A NEW ladder leader, a maiden win a big upset were among the highlights of Round 8 in the TAC Cup.
In the opening game of the round, Western Jets survived an almighty scare by Calder Cannons, having controlled the match for the first three quarters. After booting three goals to one in the first term, then two goals to one in each of the two following quarters, the Jets had a seven goals to three lead, and in wet. windy and muddy conditions, that margin seemed all but settled.
Out of nowhere, the Cannons booted the next four goals to kick off the last quarter and in the blink of an eye – 12 minutes roughly – the Cannons had hit the front and the home crowd was stunned. Luckily for them, a late Jets goal put Western in front to create a tense last five minutes, with the game pretty much played in the Cannons half.
The Jets were able to hold on for the siren to sound and no doubt relief swept all over them at the result. Second gamer Tristan Xerri came into the match as the 23rd man, and finished with 4.1 in an impressive display. For the Cannons, Karl Brown was the only multiple goal scorer.
Across the bay at Box Hill City Oval, North Ballarat Rebels caused a stir, knocking off the Eastern Ranges by eight points. After losing their opening few matches, the Rebels have looked ultra impressive since and now sit in fifth, two points out of the top four.
Trailing the entire game, the Ranges edged closer to the Rebels at each break, but could not get past them, as North Ballarat had 10 individual goal kickers to Eastern’s six. Jacob Wheelahan was impressive in his comeback year since injury early in 2015, booting three goals and named among the best, while Ranges’ goal kicker Josh Begley did not get on the scoreboard, but was regarded as one of Eastern’s top players playing through the midfield.
Up in Bendigo, the Pioneers caused a massive boilover against Sandringham Dragons. While the Dragons were missing players due to APS football, Bendigo was missing midfielder Kobe Mutch – their most important ball winner with captain Joe Atley. The 35-point win came on the back of a four-goal lead at quarter time and the result meant the Pioneers were in the top eight for the first time in a very long time.
But the day belonged to small forward Kayle Kirby who booted six goals to lead the home side to victory. While he might not be one of the first thought of when it comes to firepower, the pocket rocket showed he was a class above on the weekend.
Both Oakleigh Chargers and Murray Bushrangers were understrength when they met at Warrawee Park on the weekend. It was the Bushrangers that emerged victorious by 19 points, which helped secure outright second spot with six wins and a draw from eight matches.
For Oakleigh, they slip to seventh, six points out of the top four and one win ahead of eighth placed Bendigo Pioneers. Chargers captain Jack Roughsedge made a welcome return to be named among the best, while Lachlan Tiziani booted two goals for the winners.
In a match that was not billed up to be much, the winless Gippsland Power finally got four points on the board against the Northern Knights – a side that had only won the one match this season. In front of home fans, the Power got up by 28 points, after setting the tone early with a 21-point quarter time lead.
Keenan Hughes and Callan McKeon were named among the best in a team effort, while for the Knights, Patrick Lipinski again fought hard against the tide. The result meant Northern slip to 15th on the table, or bottom of the TAC Cup teams, while Gippsland jump off the bottom to move past Northern Knights into 13th.
Over at Shepley Oval, Dandenong Stingrays were hosting Geelong Falcons in the match of the round. The top-of-the-table Stingrays were hoping to knock down a closing opponent, but instead, it was the Falcons who got up and claimed the top spot. After a 29-point lead at the first break and 38 points by half-time, the Falcons showed how gritty they were, holding off a Stingrays fightback to run out 45-point winners.
Geelong had 13 individual goal scorers in a huge team effort, while Josh Battle pushed his case further for a top five pick with another four-goal haul. Both sides are expected to be there when the whips are cracking later in the year.