ROUND 15 of the TAC Cup was completed over the weekend and there were a number of close contests. We had scouts watching three of the games – read their notes below.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Bendigo Pioneers (Brandon Hutchinson)
#2 Hunter Clark – It should not be a surprise to anyone to again see Clark on this list. The running midfielder played an excellent four quarters, proving dangerous on the inside and outside. His trademark composure was demonstrated brilliantly through his movement around the Bendigo boys, and their difficulties in landing a tackle was due to his sharp and agile style of football. Clark’s clever positioning and ball placement was key in breaking congestion in the midfield during a wild second half. The youngster opted for more of a stationery role on the weekend, displaying a keen awareness of how to create a play through his passes. With plenty of free men scattered about the ground this proved an effective approach. Clark hit-up his forwards a few times for goal, kicking low and hard to their leads. He also left the game with two of his own; one through careful running and the other a beautiful snap along the ground. Whether aggressive or conservative, Clark knows how to play his opponents, adapting his style and role to help carry his team to victory.
#3 Jamie Plumridge – The goals were shared all amongst the Dandenong boys on Saturday with Plumridge booting two of his own. In the first, a big snap from about 50 metres gave him one, and another clean kick around the body in the third gave him his second. Plumridge was present throughout the ground, showing some smart and resolute running. He ran from the back to the forward, directing traffic and guiding the ball forward through careful passing and pace. Though he was closed down in the forward, the ball still covered huge ground which he was responsible for. As the game picked up in intensity in the second half, Plumridge kept up a consistent bravery and work rate. He pushed through incoming traffic to move the ball up through a bit of congestion.
#7 Jai Taylor – Taylor made it his business in the second half to snatch up any stray ball that found its way in his zone. Smart placement set him apart from the other players on ground, plucking the ball out of the air from failed Bendigo ejections. Taylor’s strong midfield presence always kept him as an option and was dangerous in moving the ball through traffic. Talented, Taylor needs to prove that he’s able to perform at the level earlier on in the game. However, his strong presence late in the game could be indicative of his ability to rise with game’s intensity. Overall, smart placement and hard running helped this set man apart from the rest of the game.
#17 Finlay Bayne – Finlay Bayne kicked three goals in a strong performance. His presence remained consistent, assisting in more ways than one in getting the ball between the sticks. A creative player, Bayne dominated the forward line with his quick and clever thinking. Coming seemingly out of nowhere to steal the ball, Bayne snatched the ball on the chest in the third to put away his second. He went on to kick another in the fourth with a beautiful boot around the body. Bayne also gave D’Arcy his fourth with a nice pass, showing onlookers what a well-oiled machine the Dandenong forward line has become.
#19 Josh Bateman – Bateman was one of the best performers on the day. A strong burst along the pocket and up the wing in the first term saw Bateman help his team to breathing space after an early, close scrape. The skipper played some firm football. His quick decision-making was pivotal as he and his boys proved a bit too sharp at times for the Bendigo boys.
#29 Bailey Williams – Williams came out with the opening goal, setting up Dandenong’s first quarter stampede over Bendigo. He was a consistent winner in the ruck, keeping all his rovers well fed. The big man was pivotal in moving the midfield and getting the play moving off that centre bounce. When he was not rucking, he also proved important in the forward, soaring high over the pack in the fourth. Williams booted just the one goal however. He played some good footy, but he is capable of more as he displayed throughout certain parts of the game. To step up his performance Williams needs to make himself more of an option because he is more than tall enough to snatch away a few marks.
#50 Riley D’Arcy – If you count all of D’Arcy’s clever goal assists, he would have walked away with a lot more than four majors on Saturday. The big man showed his audience that he understands how to play forward line, even if he’s not the one punting through the goals. With two clever handpasses to Frankie Mitropoulos, both of which ended in goals, D’Arcy proved being tightly watched by the Bendigo boys is not stopping him from putting scores on the board. He was on the same wave length with his entire team, leading strong to his midfield and returning the favour through his quick improvisation in the forward line. He had no problem marking the ball with the extra eyes on him, taking a firm grab alone against two Bendigo boys, and a beautiful diving mark in the fourth. However, given Dandenong’s score it was expected that D’Arcy went home with a few more than four, but the Stingrays would not be disappointed with his output. He remained present throughout most forward plays during the game, keeping his forwards on the ball when he couldn’t be.
#46 Mason De Wit – De Wit’s high pressure defensive play kept a wild Bendigo forward line from snatching up more goals than they worked for. Laying plenty of tackles and taking important marks down back, the young man made small work of the loose kicks coming into his backline. Brilliantly closing down a runner early in the second, de Wit kept his opposition back when they began to fight harder in the second and third. He trailed off a bit in the fourth as the ball spent more time in Dandenong’s forward line, but his pressure in defence was too much for the Bendigo boys.
#2 Kane Farrell – Farrell played some resilient football given his team’s performance. He did not let that stop him from playing to his fullest, being one of the few players able to make moving through the Dandenong midfield like child’s play. He laid a tough tackle toward the second quarter and earned a free. He later copped a big knock and lost the ball, but quickly recovered, regained the ball and kicked a monster of a goal. Farrell often ran the ball along the wing, covering the same great ground. He displayed excellent technical ability and composure during some football. When he could assist the play, he did so with focused running and kicking downfield. Farrell stepped up for his team when it seemed like nobody would. Farrell finished the game with six majors, and best on ground for his team.
#20 Angus Schumacher – After a poor first quarter for the Pioneers, Schumacher put through the first goal for his team in the second. He later saved his team from another goal with a defensive rebound down the field. The versatile mover was one of the better performers for his team, getting his fair share of the ball. Though after the second quarter, Schumacher was not seen having much of the ball. If he’s going to take his football career any further, he will need to find some consistency or at least make himself more of an option.
#25 Lewin Davis – Davis had a few decent runs along the wing and put away a goal late in the second quarter. He knows how to remain poised and throw his head over the ball when it calls for it. He took a great mark late in the third which always saw him lost his head. Davis was willing to put himself on the line for the ball more than once for his team. He laid a tough tackle in the fourth and dived on the ball when it went loose which saw it moved up the wing. In the future, Davis may need to work more on his placement and map out his passes a bit more if he is to keep up with an intense game like the one on Saturday.
#65 Evan Dorrington – The Dandenong forward line proved more than a little difficult for much of the Bendigo defenders, but Dorrington stepped up more than a few times against the adversity. He saved a potential goal in the first quarter and out wrestled his way to the ball on a number of occasions. He took a spectacular mark in the third and was later moved into the forward line where he put one away from himself. Often the Dandenong players proved a bit much for him, so in the future he will need to continue his good work across four quarters.
Northern Knights vs. Calder Cannons (Peter Bonadio)
#8 Nicholas Coffield – Coffield showed good composure around the footy. A natural born leader who makes smart decisions out of the backline, he showed some excellent kicking ability moving the ball forward.
#11 Ethan Penrith – The talented mover played well in patches across the match. Penrith is a great tackler and put a lot of pressure on his opponent causing them to make mistakes. He showed a great turn of pace with and without ball in hand and is a smart user with the footy showing good vision to hit-up his teammates.
#18 Jamison Shea – VFL Experience has helped Shea who looked more comfortable on the field. Shea is a great mover inside forward 50 as he leads to the right spots. He is a good set shot for goal and consistent a goal scorer, finishing the day with three majors.
#1 Brad Bernacki – The Cannons captain continues to find the footy and is impressive around the contest. One area for improvement is his kicking efficiency but has shown a deep desire to improve and has already come on in leaps and bounds since the start of the season. One to watch in the final month of the TAC Cup season.
#12 Noah Balta – Very Soild player. Natural talent who is very athletic and quick. Great by foot and finding teammate even over longer distances. Great tackler. Versatile player who look comfortable anywhere he plays. Side note, for 194cm player can play well in the ruck. Booted a superb 70+ metre goal out of the centre bounce.
#39 Jesse Firebrace – He showed some great work ethic and has great closing speed. Defensively, Firebrace is a very solid tackler and with the ball in hand showed good vision to spot his teammates. The classy user was very effective by foot in the Cannons’ win, sealing the win with a goal in the last play..
Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons (Billy Friend)
#6 Ryley Stoddart – The agile and smooth moving defender was extremely impressive for all four quarters in his side’s victory. Stoddart burts past players and linked up for one-twos regularly and seemed to love having the ball in his hands. His left leg is penetrating and efficient and he even snuck forward to kick a goal in the third term to round off a complete game.
#7 Jordan Lynch – Lynch was extremely dangerous up forward and impactful when he was playing around the stoppages. His pressure around the ball was relentless and he made the most of his touches.
#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Stephenson gathered the most disposals and was the clear best on ground. The number 16 bought his own football in the first half and after a more subdued third term the midfielder played a terrific last quarter to help seal the game. His hard running allowed him to find space and he linked up with teammates in scoring chains more than anyone else. His performance was sealed by a terrific overhead mark and goal.
#18 Sam Hayes – Hayes looms as one of the best monster power forwards/ruckman in the TAC Cup and showed why today. He dominated the hit-outs and the Dragons had no match for him when he went forward. Hayes kicked two goals to set the tone in the first term and played out the rest of the match strongly.
#26 Harrison Nolan – Nolan was the rock in defence for the Ranges and displayed a ‘you shall not pass’ attitude all game. His spoiling and intercept marking was a highlight and he generally looked bigger and stronger than his opposition.
#2 Geordie Nagle – Nagle played the role of delivery man extremely well all day and was important exiting the back half for the Dragons. He makes up for his lack of size with swift movement and football smarts and is one to watch.
#7 Aaron Trusler – The small forward was instrumental in Sandy’s last quarter comeback and was in the best couple for his team today. He kicked two goals and applied strong tackling pressure in the Sandy forward line.
#8 Will Walker – Walker has footy nous and always seems to find a lot of the ball around stoppages as well as on the spread. His clearance work is the strength of his game and he impressed again today with his in and under approach.
#22 Quintin Montanaro – Despite not accumulating heaps of possessions, Montanaro showed some Pendlebury qualities through his ability to hold onto the ball with poise and find the best option possible. He was difficult to tackle and rarely wasted the ball.
#27 Jak Nardino – The defender was extremely influential in the first half via his run and carry and precision kicking. He could not mirror his output in the second half however when the game was on the line.
#29 Joel Amartey – The big man is an unbelievable athlete and took mark of the day thanks to his big leap. He is rough around the edges at times but went forward today and took strong contested marks and kicked a goal. Amartey fought hard against a dominant Sam Hayes in the ruck.
#50 Callum Jones – Jones demonstrated tremendous defensive qualities through spoils and smothers but his kicking let him down.
#73 Ed Newman – Newman showed flashes of brilliance today but struggled to get his hands on the ball outside of the contest. The Victorian Under 19 cricketer was brilliant at times with his head over the ball but had a quiet outing today on Dragons debut. One to keep an eye on for the remainder of the year.