Defining weekend for TAC Cup

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CALDER Cannons are arguably one win away from locking themselves into finals, if they have not already.
The Cannons face the Northern Knights, which they will head into the game strong favourites to continue their mid-season revival.

If Calder wins, it will make it seven wins, with the potential to draw level with the North Ballarat Rebels and should Oakleigh lose, eight points clear of seventh.

Down the road at Trevor Barker Oval, second placed Sandringham Dragons takes on cellar dwellers Gippsland Power. Not many would expect this to be a close game, and rightly so. With a number of Dragons returning to the line-up after Vic Metro duties, Sandringham would be expected to put the foot down and stamp their premiership credentials. Jack Scrimshaw will also make his debut for the Dragons after being the first Victorian player to play in the Under 18 Championships without representing his TAC Cup team.

For Gippsland it is a chance to show they are no pushovers and a win would see them leap above Queensland and move into 12th spot, equal with Northern and Bendigo Pioneers. Ben Ainsworth will be looking for a big game and with Andrew McGrath missing for Sandringham, may have the chance to boot a bag of goals.

Over at Warrawee Park, Oakleigh Chargers takes on Dandenong Stingrays in what could be a fascinating contest. Both clubs will wear their historical VFA guerneys and no doubting it will be one of the matches of the round. TAC Cup Radio will also be broadcasting the match live from 12.45pm.

Dandenong will go in as favourites, and rightly so with a number of Vic Country players returning.

The Chargers best is up there with the top sides, but they have not been consistent enough this season, and a fourth flag in five years seems a stretch.

The match of the round is likely to take place at RAMS Arena from 1.30pm. North Ballarat Rebels will meet the Murray Bushrangers as both sides prepare to be close to full-strength. It means a midfield battle led by Hugh McCluggage and Will Brodie respectively, with both sides keen to get a win.

Murray Bushrangers are up there in the premiership race, while the Rebels have shown glimpses but have struggled to put a four quarter performance together. The Bushrangers will go in favourites and have the opportunity to grab top with a win, depending on other results, while could slip to fourth with a loss.

The Rebels could bridge the gap to the top four by four points with a victory and gain some breathing space between the lower finals contenders.

Western Jets take on Eastern Ranges in a true “eight-point” game. Eastern sits eighth and Western ninth, in what could break open the finals race. The winning side will go a game clear inside the top eight and put pressure on the teams above it. Both sides are capable and expect it to be a close contest at RAMS Arena on Sunday.

The final game of the round is Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Falcons. The Pioneers seemingly have missed opportunities to seize a top eight spot, going down to Calder and Northern in the past fortnight. Now Bendigo faces a tougher run home than other finals contenders and it will not be much tougher than top-of-the-table Falcons.

While many expect a full-strength Murray or Sandringham to be the top contenders this year, Geelong has good depth and it has been on show this year. It is hard to see the Pioneers winning, but in front of a home crowd and the return of their state representatives, anything is possible.

The AFL Draft Central team will be at every game this weekend, make sure you are following @AFLDraftCentral on Twitter to keep up to date with scores and who is performing well over the weekend.

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