GEELONG Falcons put an exclamation mark on their premiership chances with a thumping 77-point win over fellow flag hope Dandenong Stingrays at Simonds Stadium on Saturday. The Falcons dominated after quarter time, booting 16 goals to five to run away with the 19.16 (130) to 8.5 (53) victory.
James Worpel did his draft chances no harm early in the season with a damaging 22 disposal game with his penetration and ability to work hard around the ground on show. The potential top five pick had seven clearances, laid six tackles and had nine inside 50s and two rebounds in a strong all-round game. Other Falcons to impress in the rout was Cassidy Parish (33 disposals, seven clearances) and Gryan Miers (23 disposals, five goals). For the Stingrays, Ali Zijai had 20 disposals, 10 tackles, five inside 50s and a goal, while Bailey Morrish was steadfast in defence with nine rebounds.
Western Jets bounced back from an opening round loss to Northern with a 31-point win over Calder on the weekend. The Jets raced out of the blocks with an inaccurate 3.7 to 0.1 in the first term, and while inaccuracy plagued them throughout the game, were too good for the Cannons to win 11.19 (85) to 8.6 (54).
Lachlan Fogarty starred again with 30 disposals, seven tackles, nine inside 50s and four clearances, while Judah Dundon finished with 30 disposals, four inside 50s and a goal. For Calder, Mitch Podhajski was the key ball winner, collecting 26 disposals and 10 marks, while Ben Caluzzi and captain Brad Bernacki worked hard around the ground.
Murray Bushrangers made it two wins from two games after prevailing by 24 points over Gippsland Power in a dour affair. In a game which saw just 11 goals kicked – including just four in the first half – Murray proved the better of the sides in the 7.13 (55) to 4.7 (31) win. Ben Paton had 24 disposals, six marks and two tackles in the win, while Floyd Bollinghaus was prominent in the ruck, collecting 24 hitouts from 14 disposals. For Gippsland, Will Stephenson notched up 20 disposals, five marks and six tackles, while Grady Cocksedge was strong in defence with a 77 per cent disposal efficiency from 13 touches, six rebounds and nine tackles.
Bendigo Pioneers recorded their first win in a see-sawing wind-affected contest at Alfredton Recreation Reserve on Sunday. Greater Western Victoria Rebels had control of the contest in the second term, but to the Pioneers credit, they booted nine of the next 13 goals to run away and record a 16.12 (108) to 14.12 (96) win. Lochie O’Brien showed why he is a contender for pick one with 26 disposals (81 per cent efficiency), seven marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals.
But it was Paddy Dow (21 disposals and seven clearances) and Brent Daniels (five goals) that stole the show for the Pioneers. Meanwhile for the Rebels, overage captain Callan Wellings starred with 35 disposals, 10 marks, nine clearances, nine tackles, three inside 50s and six rebounds in a strong performance. The only knock was he had 10 of his team’s 29 clangers, but with 16 contested possessions he worked hard both inside and out.
Ikon Park hosted a double header on Sunday, with Oakleigh recording a 21-point win over Eastern in what many would consider an upset. The Chargers were outplayed by the Dragons in a poor performance a week earlier, while the Ranges put in a dominant display against Calder under lights. But it was roles reversed when the sides clashed with Oakleigh enjoying a 13.14 (92) to 10.11 (71) victory.
Jack Higgins was again busy, racking up 30 disposals, but with 17 contested, he found himself winning plenty of them on the inside and still ran at 87 per cent efficiency. He also took seven marks, laid six tackles and booted two goals. Others to impress from the winners included Nathan Boucher with 22 touches, six marks and three tackles, while overager Louis Cunningham had seven rebound 50s from his 20 disposals. Adam Cerra again was sensational for Eastern, racking up 26 disposals, seven marks, five clearances and five inside 50s, while Jaidyn Stephenson booted three goals and had five inside 50s for the winners.
In the final game of the round, the two winners from last week, Sandringham Dragons and Northern Knights went head-to-head with the Dragons prevailing 10.15 (75) to 7.7 (49). Northern led by a point at the final break, but a 5.6 to 1.3 final term saw Sandringham run away with the contest. Andrew Brayshaw was strong inside with 11 contested possessions and nine tackles from his 27 disposals, while Charlie Constable buzzed around the outside, collecting 31 disposals, taking 10 marks and recording five rebounds. Max Dreher continued his early form with a 26 disposal game which saw the defender take eight marks, while Marcus Lentini had 26 disposals, three clearances and a goal and Richmond father-son prospect Patrick Naish was busy once again, playing further up the ground.
After two rounds, just three teams remain undefeated with Geelong and Murray leading the way ahead of Sandringham in third. Eastern Ranges leads a log-jam of teams with one win from two matches, ahead of Western, Northern, Oakleigh, Bendigo and Dandenong. Gippsland, GWV Rebels and Calder are looking for their first wins of the season this week.
This weekend will see a number of teams weakened with AFL Academy games running over the next two weeks and teams’ depth will be questioned.