ROUND Fourteen of the TAC Cup was completed over the weekend and with school football returning after the July school holidays, some teams were missing players from their best 22. We had scouts watching two of the games – read their notes below.
Western Jets vs. Sandringham Dragons (Brandon Hutchinson)
#11 Zak Butters – Despite the end result, Saturday was an outstanding day for Butters. He was swift and fierce through the midfield, and made excellent use of his smaller frame – dodging and weaving where he saw fit. Butters took his fair share of interceptions and displayed brilliant consistency throughout the game. He dummied his opposition as well as finding creative ways to break the Dragons zone. No matter the task, Butters didn’t hesitate to throw his head into the play.
#20 Joshua Mould – Opened up the first quarter with a strong, two-on-one defensive tackle in the backline. This prevented what would have been an inevitable goal for the Dragons. Mould later moved up through the midfield where he managed to snatch up the ball and get it down field. While it didn’t always hit the target, he showed spectators that he knows how to read the play. He shined brightest in his first half, slowing down in the second half as the Dragons began their gallop home.
#38 Buku Khamis – His goal late in the first term kept his team trailing close behind a tough Sandringham team. Khamis’ fine tuned contested marking showed spectators how dangerous he is in the air. He wasn’t lost when he was moved to the backline late in the second, dominating the contests there as well. Khamis applied some excellent pressure in the first half of the game, but may need to work a little on reading the ball along the ground.
#7 Aaron Trusler – Trusler had a really quiet first quarter but came booming out the gate in the second, putting away three for his team and winning the ball in the first half. A clever small forward, Trusler read the ball well, scooping it up and putting it through whenever his opponent lost hold of him. A great player to have in the forward line, he just needs to show he can do it every quarter.
#8 Will Walker – Walker got plenty of ball along the wing throughout the first, powering hard & fast away from a congested midfield. He did plenty to get the ball to his forwards, opting for a big punt rather than the closer targets. While they won the game, looking short might be the better option going forward. Walker kept his head over the play, earning himself a few frees from the guys he sucked in. While in the final quarter he took on an attacking role of his own, kicking three goals.
#30 Hayden McLean – Consistent throughout the entire match, McLean did plenty when he came near the ball, whether it was loose or not. Applied amazing pressure in the third and fourth quarter, stepping up to keep his team ahead. McLean wrapped up plenty of the Jets’ boys when they crossed into his turf. He earned himself a free in the fourth and put away a goal to seal the game for the Dragons. A fine work rate from this young man contributed to Sandringham’s successful pressure all throughout the match.
#37 Bailey Smith – Smith read the ball well in the backline, and was quick in his decision making to get his team out of trouble. Clever switching kept the Jets stepping over each other to keep up and a few smart runs up the wing found the ball in the Dragons’ forward 50. Smith, like many others on the day, struggled to hit his man and depended on bombing the ball down field. This worked well while he was in the backline but as he pushed up the ground, it got a little less effective.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Gippsland Power (Brandon Hutchinson)
#2 Hunter Clark – All eyes were on this young man down at Frankston Oval this weekend. Clark positioned himself well throughout the ground and demonstrated effective inboard passing. He was well utilised through the midfield, plucking the ball cleanly from the air and finding a break in the zone through his clever passing. Clark also managed to slot two goals for himself. To take that extra step, Clark should try carrying the ball a little more as his speed and agility gives him an advantage over some of the other players in the TAC Cup.
#20 Tom De Koning – At the end of the second quarter you may have thought De Koning was injured after his leap too high in the ruck. Though it didn’t take long for him to regain his feet, where he continued to play some exceptional footy. De Koning dominated the ruck work, but didn’t always manage to hit his man. He easily out bodies his opponents, doing well in all contests. A successful smother and subsequent tackle helped to demonstrate what De Koning can do. While he fights hard throughout four quarters, this young man needs to do a little more to get his head over the ball.
#50 Riley D’Arcy – D’Arcy had much quieter game from what we’re used to. He struggled to slot away the ball in the first quarter, not getting the ball where he usually wants it. In the second he came out with two goals and used his size to help fend off others from his team. It’s difficult to out muscle him in the air as he plucks the ball where and wherever he likes. Though along the ground, D’Arcy is rarely ever seen. He currently sits third in overall goals, so his ground level work very rarely comes into question, but as soon as the ball drops low, this man is less of a danger. Once the ball comes towards D’Arcy in the air, very few players in the TAC Cup can pull him down. He finished with three goals – but it wasn’t one of his best games of the season.
#3 Callan McKeon – One of the smaller men on ground, Mckeon used his speed and agility to beat his opponent. He broke up the play, dodging & weaving out of congestion. His passing was sharp and reflexes even sharper. Many times he found himself going for a run, moving the ball in the right direction. He showed some quick and careful decision making which should not go unnoticed.
#11 Austin Hodge – When the Stingrays began their run towards victory, Hodge shut the door in their face. Dandenong dominated the fourth quarter, bringing the game back within two points. It was Hodge’s two crucial goals in the final quarter which kept the game in their hands. Finishing up the game with three goals, he also demonstrated quick and clean passing around a congested forward line, helping to put more than his own through the sticks.
#41 Samuel Flanders – A lot of the Power goals were due to clever leading and passing throughout the forward line from Flanders. He finished the game with a nice bag of three goals. He had a pretty quiet game in the opening half but went on to kick back-to-back goals in the third quarter, and later closed it up with another. He disappeared a bit in the fourth but his efforts helped to get his team over the line. In the future he may need to apply a bit more consistency, but the Under 16 has a few years in the TAC Cup and has shown great ability in what has been a very good year for Flanders at all levels.
#42 Caleb Serong – Serong dominated the pack marks for the Power, flying higher than you’d think he was capable. He finished with three crucial goals and assisted in a few other set shots. Serong took a huge mark in the third quarter and slotted two of the goals which gave the Power the lead. An effective forward, the Vic Country Under 16 representative is a name to keep an eye on over the next few years.