NAILBITERS, comebacks and finals-shaping results all featured in round 13 of the TAC Cup.
In the first game of the round, Calder Cannons got up to all but lock in a finals place with a narrow five-point win.
The Cannons had to survive a scare from the Northern Knights however, leading by 25 points at half-time, Calder had to withstand a strong comeback from Northern to hold them off by less than a goal.
Northern has not had too much to smile about this season, but Matthew Signorello continued his good form with 27 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and a goal, while Carlton eligible father/son Jake Bradley finished with 21 disposals and seven marks.
Calder was missing leading goal kicker Karl Brown who took to the VFL, but managed to get the job done with seven individual goal scorers from the 10 goals.
Ben Ronke stepped up with 23 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and a goal in the win.
— Calder Cannons FC (@CalderCannonsFC) July 9, 2016
In the second game at RAMS Arena, North Ballarat Rebels claimed a vital scalp over Murray Bushrangers to remain in touch with the top four.
The Rebels led by just three points at half-time, but ran out 17-point winners on the back of another vintage Hugh McCluggage performance.
The potential number one pick racked up 36 disposals, eight marks, six tackles and booted three goals in a best on ground performance.
Over-ager James Gow had another impressive game, collecting 31 disposals and eight marks.
For the Bushrangers, James Cousins was again the highest disposal winner with 24, while Lachlan Tiziani added another three goals to his season total. Likely top 10 selections Todd Marshall (concussion) and Will Brodie (shoulder) suffered injuries in the contest.
— Peter Bonadio (@PeterBonadio) July 9, 2016
Heading into the match at Trevor Barker Oval, many believed Sandringham Dragons would do a number on cellar dwellers Gippsland Power.
However the Power proved more than a worthy competitor, matching the Dragons for a half, leading by two points at the main break.
Any questions regarding a boilover were soon answered with Sandringham taking control in the second half to run away with the match 13.12 (90) to 9.10 (64).
Dragons captain Hamish Brayshaw was significant in the result, booting four third quarter goals to ensure the Dragons would take the four points. Jack Scrimshaw was back to his best off half-back with 27 disposals, nine marks and four tackles, while Oliver Florent had 12 marks to go with his 21 disposals.
For Gippsland, James Harrison topped the disposal count with 22 disposals, while forward Ben Ainsworth primarily played off half-back for most of the game, amassing 18 disposals and taking four marks.
— Matt Balmer (@MattBalmer7) July 9, 2016
The game of the round – and possibly the season – belonged to Oakleigh and Dandenong.
Leading by a massive 40 points at the final change, Oakleigh looked home and hosed to cause an upset.
But then Dandenong ripped up the script.
The Stingrays charged home, to almost triple their score in the final quarter while restricting the Chargers to just two points in a stunning seven goals to zero term.
In a remarkable twist, Dandenong got home 11.5 (71) to 10.10 (70).
Pocket rocket Sam Fowler booted four goals (including three in the last quarter) for the Stingrays and was a key instigator in the comeback, while over-ager Thomas Glen amassed 24 disposals, three marks and three tackles.
For Oakleigh, Jack Higgins was again on song, collecting 29 disposals, four marks, three tackles and kicking two goals.
— Pat (@PatGheller140) July 9, 2016
On Sunday, a ground change saw Western Jets and Eastern Ranges take to RAMS Arena in an eighth verse ninth battle.
It was anything but a battle for the Ranges however, as they easily disposed of the Jets by 90 points in a one-sided contest.
The Ranges kept the Jets scoreless in two quarters after remarkably trailing by a point at quarter time.
A nine-goal last quarter capped off a unbelievable performance for the Ranges who sent a message to the competition that they would be no pushovers in the finals.
Jordan Gallucci starred in his best game of the season with 21 disposals, two marks, seven tackles and five goals, while Josh Begley booted four goals from 20 disposals.
Rugged inside midfielder Dylan Clarke brought his own ball to the game with 36 disposals and seven tackles.
Brodie Romensky and Cameron Rayner were the only jets to collect more than 20 disposals, with Romensky finishing with 36 disposals, seven tackles and a goal. Daniel Venables was down on his usual output with seven disposals, looking to be suffering the flu.
Eastern boys are winners….. pic.twitter.com/PkxsgNAEDk
— Eastern Ranges (@Eastern_Ranges) July 10, 2016
A fierce Bendigo Pioneers were unable to shake a determined Geelong Falcons in a low scoring contest at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
The Pioneers smashed all sorts of tackles records with a whopping 162 tackles, led by Isaac Miller and Josh Formosa with 18.
They were far from alone however, with Wade Donnan, Darby Henderson and Tom Campbell all collecting more than 10 tackles and equal or more tackles than disposals.
However the Pioneers’ defensive pressure was not enough to get the four points, with the Falcons claiming victory 6.12 (48) to 5.6 (36).
For Geelong, Mitch Diamond was impressive with 25 disposals, four marks and four tackles, while Jack Blood topped his team’s tackle count with 13.
After 13 rounds, Geelong remains a win ahead on top of Sandringham and Dandenong, followed by Murray just two points behind them.
North Ballarat are six points adrift in fifth, with Calder Cannons close behind them in sixth.
Eastern Ranges, Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets continue to battle for the final two spots, while Bendigo and Northern remain on three wins and Gippsland last of the TAC Cup teams on two wins