IT was a good week for the Country teams as every Metro side met a Country counterpart, with a 3-2 advantage in favour of the latter. Western Jets and Calder Cannons got the job done over Geelong Falcons and Bendigo Pioneers respectively, but Murray Bushrangers, Dandenong Stingrays and Gippsland Power all had good wins, as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels split the points with Oakleigh Chargers.
Western Jets 9.13 (67) defeated Geelong Falcons 7.1 (43)
The Western Jets made it back-to-back wins with a solid four-goal victory over an accurate Geelong Falcons on the weekend. After succumbing to a disappointing 126-point humiliation at the hands of Dandenong Stingrays, the Jets have strung together two good victories and are back on track showing their depth and talent. The wind-affected Williamstown Football Ground resulted in 13 of the game’s 16 goals kicked up one end, Darcy Cassar (three goals) and Aaron Clarke (two) the main beneficiaries on the day.
Zak Butters notched up 28 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s and three tackles, while Connor Thar was also impressive with 24 disposals, five tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Stefan Radovanovic provided great run through the middle with 23 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and two rebounds, while Xavier O’Halloran put in another captain’s performance with a team-high seven clearances to go with his 18 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds.
For Geelong, Sam Walsh topped the disposal winners with 33 touches, three marks and seven tackles, while Ed McHenry was a tackling machine, laying 11 tackles and gathering 22 disposals, five clearances and seven rebounds when dropping into defence to help out. Ben Morton went one better than McHenry with 12 tackles, while also having 21 disposals and a team-high eight clearances. Baxter Mensch (20 disposals) and Oscar Brownless (19) were the other two Falcons to win more than 15 disposals in the loss.
Northern Knights 8.11 (59) defeated by Murray Bushrangers 13.16 (94)
By: Michael Alvaro
Murray Bushrangers ran out comfortable 35-point winners against a brave Northern Knights outfit at Preston City Oval. In tough, blustery conditions, the game was often played between both 50 arcs, but still provided forwards the chance to prove their worth as clear-cut chances were sparse. With the scores level at the first break, the Bushies went on to boot nine of the next twelve goals during the second and third terms to set up a handy buffer. While they were valiant for most of the day and ended up winning the last-quarter battle, the Knights lost the war, but will take some solice out of hanging on to their top eight spot.
Murray’s willingness to take the game on at all costs proved to be a real game-changer, and it allowed their potent forward line to do work their magic from a range of positions. Each player who rotated through the forward 50 looked dangerous, with the likes of Riley Bice, Bailey Frauenfelder, Zane Barzen and Hudson Garoni all bagging multiple goals. Midfielder Kyle Clarke was also impressive as he mixed his minutes between the centre bounces and forward 50.
For Northern, skipper Braedyn Gillard led from the front and was aided well by Harrison Grace in the midfield, while ruckman Tom Hallebone had one of his best games for the year. With their defence under constant pressure, rebounding bottomager Ryan Gardner stood up, while Stefan Uzelac impressed with his contested marking.
Dandenong Stingrays 13.13 (91) defeated Eastern Ranges 6.3 (39)
Dandenong Stingrays bounced back from their first loss of the season to shake off a determined Eastern Ranges outfit at Shepley Oval. The Stingrays went in as heavy favourites against the winless Ranges, but had a competitive match with the Ranges taking it up to them in the first term to trail by just two points. The Stingrays kicked away in the second quarter with a four goals to one term to open up a 22-point advantage at the main break, before extending that to an even five goals by three quarter time. A three goal to zero final quarter saw the final margin blow out to 52 points, which was arguably not indicative of the closeness between the teams.
AFL Academy member Sam Fletcher came back into the side for his first game of 2018 and went handball crazy, picking up 21 handballs as part of his 24-possession, six-tackle and four-clearance game. Talented Stingrays bottom-ager Hayden Young stood up with 20 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds, capping off his all-round game with a goal. Usual ball winners Campbell Hustwaite and Jamie Plumridge had just 12 disposals each, but in their place the likes of James Hickey and Reid Nanscawen (both 17 disposals) stood up, as did AFL Academy member Bailey Williams with 25 hitouts and a goal, while Corey Ellison slotted three majors.
For Eastern, Tyler Edwards was the highest disposal winner, notching up 24 disposals, four tackles, five clearances and five rebounds, while last week’s AFL Draft Central Player of the Week, Joel Burleigh, had a modest 18 disposals compared to his 40 in round five, but laid 13 tackles in a good defensive effort. Kye Quirk had 20 disposals and six rebounds off half-back, while Billy McCormack had 19 disposals, seven hitouts and four rebounds.
Calder Cannons 10.8 (68) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 4.5 (29)
A six goals to one third term helped Calder Cannons secure their third win of the season over a plucky Bendigo Pioneers in a rain-affected game at RAMS Arena. Playing in the evening, the Cannons and Pioneers had to endure some heavy showers early on, with a dour first half producing just three goals. A spirited third term saw the Cannons all but put the game to bed, piling on six goals to one to open up a 43-point advantage at the final break. Bendigo booted two of the final three goals to outscore the home side in the final term, but were unable to bridge the deficit as the Cannons celebrated a 39-point victory at home.
Mitch Podhajski was the star of the show in his return to the Cannons side, with the Calder co-captain amassing 27 disposals, seven marks, laying 15 tackles and booting three goals in a best on ground performance in the victory. After a quiet first half, Lachlan Sholl turned it on with a 26-disposal second half to bring his night’s total to 35, to go with his eight marks and six rebounds. Daniel Hanna was important taking five marks from his 26 disposals and a major, while Ismail Moussa was important in the first half, finishing with 23 disposals, five marks and three rebounds, and Jack Evans (22 disposals, four clearances and six inside 50s) was used more up the field than in previous weeks to be an important link in the chain.
For Bendigo, Noah Wheeler racked up 21 kicks in his 25 disposals, four clearances, five inside 50s and four tackles, while Daniel Keating was good around the ground in the ruck with 16 disposals, five marks, 22 hitouts four clearances and a goal. Hunter Lawrence had 18 disposals, six tackles, four clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while bottom-ager James Schischka (18 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) was also important for the losing side.
Gippsland Power 20.18 (138) defeated Sandringham Dragons 4.5 (29)
Gippsland Power put Sandringham Dragons to the sword on Sunday with a thumping 109-point victory at Morwell Recreation Reserve. The Power put their top four credentials on the table with 10 goals in each half, restricting the Dragons to just one goal after the main break, and held the visitors scoreless in the final term. The highlight was a seven goal to one third term, with Gippsland piling on 13 goals up one end in a dominant display. For the Dragons, it was their third consecutive loss as they continue to shuffle the magnets around in the absence of their top players with the APS football season forcing them to experiment which will hopefully see them record a win soon.
Gippsland had 11 individual goal kickers in the victory, led by Sam Flanders (four goals), Austin Hodge (four) and Harvey Neocleous (three). Boadie Motton topped the disposal count with 30 touches, while also taking four marks, racking up four clearances and booting a goal. Riley Baldi lead the team clearances again with five, to go with his 27 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s, while Matthew McGannon (25 disposals, five marks and four tackles), Bailey Beck (24 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s) and Bailey Patterson (23 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) all booted a goal. Captain Xavier Duursma continued his consistent season with 23 disposals, four marks, five tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s.
For the Dragons, Harry Bede was Sandringham’s best, collecting 25 disposals, eight marks, six rebounds and booting a goal, while Dawit McNeish returned to the side with positive numbers including 19 disposals, six tackles and two clearances. Beaten in the clearances, Thomas Deane-Johns was a shining light for the Dragons, picking up four clearances in a team-high performance. Ethan Casey (24 hitouts), Corey Watts (13 disposals and five rebounds) and Ryan Byrnes (16 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s) were the other busy players.
GWV Rebels 9.10 (64) drew with Oakleigh Chargers 9.10 (64)
By: Cameron Ross
A determined Oakleigh Chargers shared the points with the desperate GWV Rebels in miserable conditions on Sunday. In somewhat typical Ballarat fashion, a freezing south-westerly made for a two goal advantage to the Midlands Highway end of the field and the Chargers took advantage early. Atu Bosenavulagi started the game in fine fashion, kicking the two early goals for the visitors and asserting himself physically at the contest. The Rebels struggled to get the ball past halfway before Scott Carlin set the blueprint for the remainder of the game, with run and carry being the best method to advance the ball into the wind.
The Rebels clung on with the Chargers dominating the game early, as solid defence from Jacob Lohmann and Harrison Butler, kept the visitors within three goals at quarter time. The second quarter played out remarkably similar to the first quarter, with the Rebels taking over the game instead. Jed Hill got his hands on the footy and kicked an early goal from long range but it was Ben Annett who led the way for the Rebels with his ferocious attack on the footy sparking his teammates into action. Annett kicked two goals in the second term to bring the Rebels within a point at the long break.
The third quarter was once again dominated by the team with the wind, and Lachlan Bugeja had a huge say. Bugeja not only kicked back to back goals but his work rate through the midfield was outstanding. Bugeja was winning clearances, free kicks, and setting up goals and it felt like every stoppage the Chargers “number 2” was having an impact. This impact was felt on the scoreboard with the Chargers leading by two goals at the final change. Rebels coach Marc Greig urged his side for one more big quarter, and when Charlie Wilson goaled for the Rebels early, it looked as though he may have his wish. Yet within moments the exciting Collier-Dawkins snapped the quick reply and it was game on.
A strange umpiring decision for a “deliberate” rushed behind gave Jed Hill the easiest goal of the season, and moments later, Hill nailed another, this time an unbelievably skilful goal on his non-preferred left that tied the game. The final ten minutes were extremely tense with skill errors from both sides giving their opponents the chance to win. In the final seconds, Collier Dawkins had a chance to win the game for his side, but slightly pushed his kick across goal. The siren blew before the Rebels had a chance to take the kick in and both teams had to settle for a draw. The game wasn’t one that will be remembered by many, but both sides played extremely well in difficult conditions.