A MATCH-WINNING goal from Harry Benson saved the Geelong Falcons from dropping their first game of the season in what could have been the upset of the season to date. The Falcons were playing bottom-of-the-table Calder Cannons in what was predicted to be anything but close. But to the Cannons’ credit they stood up and produced an impressive performance to remarkably lead at the final change before a nine-goal last quarter saw both teams going head-to-head to try and snatch the four points. Geelong prevailed 11.11 (77) to 11.7 (73)
Benson collected 29 disposals, four marks, eight clearances, seven inside 50s, five rebounds and laid 11 tackles to be the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week. Others that stood out included Cassidy Parish – 27 disposals (15 contested), nine clearances and four tackles, as well as Gryan Miers (23 disposals, four marks, six clearances, five inside 50s and two goals and Sam Wolfenden (18 disposals and 10 rebounds).
For Calder, captain Brad Bernacki amassed a whopping 39 disposals (19 contested at 59 per cent efficiency), five marks, six clearances and seven inside 50s. Bottom-age talent Jack Bytel had 32 disposals of his own, 22 of which were contested, as well as seven inside 50s and five clearances. Top prospect Noah Balta had another strong performance with 21 disposals (67 per efficiency), six marks, 17 hitouts, four clearances, five inside 50s, seven rebounds and two goals.
Oakleigh Chargers spoiled Murray Bushrangers’ hold on second spot, with the metropolitan team knocking off the Bushrangers by 15 points. Trailing by 28 points at the final break, the Bushrangers booted four goals to two in the last term to try and hit back, but it was not quite enough, going down 12.11 (83) to 9.14 (68).
Toby Wooller provided a target up forward and through the middle with 16 disposals, seven marks, six inside 50s, seven tackles and three goals for the Chargers. Jack Higgins continued his good form up forward with three goals, while Xavier O’Neill and Lachlan Bugeja had 24 tackles between them.
For the Bushrangers, Zane Barzen was slick with 15 disposals at 73 per cent efficiency, as well as six marks, four inside 50s and two goals. Harry Jones had another solid performance with 23 disposals (16 contested), six clearances, three inside 50s and 12 tackles, while Daniel Johnston had 28 hitouts and booted two goals from 16 disposals.
Meanwhile Northern Knights got up over Gippsland Power in a close 14-point win. The Knights were level with the Power at the final break and it took until the 15-minute mark of the last quarter for Kye Agosta to kick truly, before Jack Petruccelle finished with the final two goals of the game for a 13.10 (88) to 11.8 (74) Knights victory.
Petruccelle had five goals from 18 disposals at an elite 83 per cent efficiency, as well as five marks, four inside 50s and four tackles. Sam Binion had 22 disposals (13 contested), six marks, seven clearances, seven inside 50s, 10 tackles and two goals, while Anthony Fable had 16 disposals (14 contested), five clearances, six inside 50s, three rebounds and 10 tackles in a strong inside game.
For Gippsland, Aiden Quigley had 19 disposals (16 contested), six clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while Callum Porter (19 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency) and Cody Henness (four goals from six marks) were also impressive.
After trailing by two points at half-time, Sandringham Dragons did what they had to in the second half to roll past the Greater Western Victoria Rebels. The Dragons booted nine goals to three in the second half to run away with a 14.9 (93) to 7.12 (54) victory.
Dragons’ captain Hayden McLean was enormous up forward and through the ruck, booting three goals and having 12 hitouts from 17 disposals and nine marks. Hamish Brayshaw continued to have the ball on a string with 32 disposals (75 per cent efficiency), 10 clearances, five inside 50s and two goals, while Lucas Barrett had 10 inside 50s from his 24 disposals to go with his five clearances and six tackles.
For the Rebels, captain Callan Wellings had 26 disposals (16 contested), nine clearances and four inside 50s, while Aiden Domic had 23 disposals, eight clearances and five inside 50s. Jed Hill played the dangerous small forward role well with three goals from 11 disposals (91 per cent efficiency) including two majors on the brink of half-time.
On Sunday, Bendigo Pioneers picked up a vital win against Western Jets, defeating them by 20 points. The Pioneers booted six goals to three in the opening half and then maintained their advantage from there to win 12.10 (82) to 9.8 (62).
Bailey Henderson continued his good form with 32 disposals (72 per cent efficiency), 11 marks, five inside 50s, six rebounds and a goal. Mitchell Kemp was dynamic with his short passing proving effective – recording 83 per cent efficiency to go with his eight marks. Meanwhile Darby Henderson booted three goals from 22 disposals, with a season-high efficiency of 82 per cent.
For the Jets, Xavier O’Halloran had 26 disposals, three marks, six clearances and five inside 50s, while Connor Thar laid eight tackles to work hard defensively with his 32 disposals (72 per cent efficiency), eight clearances and seven inside 50s. Nicholas Stuhldreier again found plenty of the ball with 25 disposals, four marks and nine clearances.
Finally, Dandenong Stingrays proved far too good for Eastern Ranges, running out impressive 63-point winners. The Stingrays booted eight goals to one in the second quarter to open up a 49-point lead and were never headed from there. The final score saw Dandenong win 17.13 (115) to Eastern 7.10 (52).
Mason De Wit was a sponge at half-back with nine rebounds from 31 disposals and seven marks, while Hunter Clark racked up another 28 disposals, six clearances and six inside 50s. Mitch Cotter was one of the best on ground with 24 disposals (75 per cent efficiency), five clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and 11 tackles while Jai Nanscawen and Tom De Koning both booted four majors in the match.
Eastern’s Jordan Lynch had 21 disposals, four marks, eight clearances, five inside 50s and eight tackles, while Sam Hayes had 21 hitouts and eight marks (three contested) from 15 disposals. Thomas North topped the disposal count with 24 (12 contested) as well as five clearances and five tackles.