TAC Cup action returned on the weekend, and while Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers had the week off, we were at all five games and took notes on those from the extended Vic Metro and Vic Country squads, with a number of players trialled in various positions ahead of the National Under 18 Championships.
Northern Knights vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Ryan Gardner –
Assuming his usual role on the wing for much of the game, Gardner found it hard at times to generate his usual run and carry. With his best asset somewhat quelled, the underager was thrown into the centre bounces in the final term – a tactic that the Knights have long tried with their running outside players. His presense around the contest was good and he tackled hard all day, with his first being a rag-dolling effort on Eastern’s Xavier Fry. With Vic Metro duties potentially inbound, Gardner will be looking to continue his consistent form and take the game on.
#7 Harrison Grace –
With the ball locked in Eastern’s attacking half for long periods in the opening two quarters, Grace struggled at times to find his way into the game playing as a half forward. Much like Gardner, he was thrust into the middle of the ground in the third term in an attempt to impose a stronger impact around the contest. Running alongside Eastern’s skipper Joel Burleigh, Grace had an immediate impact with a couple of centre clearances and some impressive work one-on-one. His ability to bring the ball over the back in overhead marking contests proved dangerous, and he looked better when given the chance to run through the midfield.
#23 Xavier Fry –
Fry provided some rare run and carry in what was a hotly contested game played mostly between the 50 arcs. ‘X’, as he is known on the field, spent most of his minutes behind the ball and produced a couple of highlight reel runs – most notably his three-bounce effort in the first term which he ended with an inside 50 and was followed up well. His outside dash is an obvious asset, but Fry could look to improve his field kicking on the run, with a couple of efforts in the third quarter being sprayed badly.
#24 Kye Quirk –
Quirk played most of the game through the middle and looked right at home, reading the ball best off the hands out of all of the midfielders out there. His exceptional roving ability was complemented well by his clean hands and ability to pick the ball up easily below his knees, setting him apart from most other players on the day. Quirk had a few notable moments, not all of which would make the highlight reel. The first was his consecutive one percenters in the second quarter as he laid a tackle, forced the turnover and stepped in with a shepherd; and the second was his decision to kick long out of the congestion with the Ranges struggling to edge forward, and his booming effort created a goal from almost nothing.
#31 James Blanck –
Playing as a key defender, Blanck had the sort of game where if you didn’t notice him, it meant that he was doing his job well. With much of the play being fought out well up the ground, Blanck was able to keep the Knights forwards quiet for most of the match – helping his defence to keep Northern to just one first-half goal. He was efficient for the most part with ball in hand and displayed some decent follow up work when the ball spilled to ground.
Western Jets vs. Bendigo Pioneers
#11 Zak Butters
Butters was lively throughout the match, running all day and was damaging between the arcs. He started forward then moved into the midfield, often drifting wide then releasing a quick handball or a weighted kick inside 50. He had a leap in the first term but couldn’t bring it down and laid a great run-down tackle late in the quarter. He showed fierce intent when attacking the ball and was able to pick it up cleanly at full pace. Butters showed good vision in traffic and even took a good intercept mark at half-back floating in from the side. He has the patience to wait and release a handball under pressure. He had a huge collision with Kobe Brown in the last quarter and neither player took a backwards step.
#17 Daly Andrews
Andrews was busy early and had a few neat passages of play throughout the game. He was always on the move and was not afraid to take on opponents. He has good agility and quick hands and is another who hits he contest at full speed. He holds onto the footy in a stoppage to wait for a clean exit. He played predominantly off half-back and didn’t win a heap of it, but tried to run and carry when it came his way.
#31 Emerson Jeka
Spent the first half in attack and the second half in defence. He was involved in a number of transition plays which is often rare for a player of his size. He is a great athlete and attacked the contest when going for a mark and provided good leads up the ground. He won the ball through the middle as well and looked to the outside to release a running teammate. He covers the ground well and took a vital intercept mark deep in defence late in the third term when the Pioneers were attacking.
#37 Hamish Murphy
Started in defence and swung forward in the second half to switch with Jeka. He was good one-on-one deep in the first term to spoil a ball across the line and stop a certain goal in the first term. Murphy also showed good closing speed on the lead to effect a number of spoils on his opponents. Sometimes he tended to rush his short kicks as a couple came off as drubbers, but he was better over long distance. Had a great pick-up off he deck and kicked a running goal from 45m in the third term, then got on the end of an end-to-end play by the Jets to kick the easiest of goals. Took the last mark of the match uncontested inside 50 and managed to get the behind which locked away the victory.
#38 Buku Khamis
Unbelievable game at half-back. He just patrolled the airways and took a heap of intercept marks. His kicking action is among the best there is and he rarely made a mistake by foot. He has the knack of raising his arms up to dispose of the ball when being tackled and can often shrug off an opponent this way because of his skinny frame. Khamis tends to float through the air similar to Jeremy Howe in a gliding sense and looks so sure with his timing and ability to clutch marks. He also has a good first few steps to burn off some opponents and is composed under pressure. Best-on for mine.
#39 Stefan Radovanovic
Started in the midfield and would drift out wide to win a lot of possessions on the wing and in space. He attacks the contest with vigour, is strong in the air and is constantly used in transition from half-back to half-forward. He kicked a goal from a 25m set shot after an intercept mark at half-forward and a 50m penalty. Radovanovic always puts good pressure on the ball carrier, constantly harassing and chasing them to try and force a turnover. He had a great moment in the final term running to half-forward, fooled the opposition with a look-away behind the back quick handball to Josh Honey who ran on and kicked a great goal from the boundary. A solid performance.
#45 Aaron Clarke
Clarke was busy early but had a quieter second half. He took a few good grabs working hard and running up to the wing. Covers the ground really well and stays involved. Had a couple of shots on goal, one in the first term from a set shot and one from a quick snap after a clean pick-up in the second term.
#9 Zane Keighran
One of Bendigo’s hardest workers on the day, running until the final siren. He took it upon himself in the final minutes to slot a goal running inside 50 with a fantastic snap to level the game. Throughout the match Keighran continued to battle on the inside, putting his body on the line and firing out handballs to teammates in order to release them. Though he was strong for the majority of the game he tended to rush his short kicks and kicks out of a clearance just throwing it on the boot instead of thinking his way through. When kicking long with time and space in front of him he put it into dangerous areas, and he was most effective when releasing the handball in traffic to the outside. He took a huge grab in the air against Emerson Jeka after positioning himself well, but his set shot just dropped short. Not much more he could have done on the day and tried his heart out.
#16 Jacob Atley
Atley played on the wing and up forward and used quick-fire handballs to try and get run happening between the arcs. He is strong in the air and took a few strong grabs, and would find space and link-up with teammates. Often he would win the ball and handball into space for a teammate to run onto. One strength is his ability to cleanly pick up the footy, swooping down and grabbing it with one hand and taking it full stride.
#20 James Schischka
Played in defence and seemed composed with ball-in-hand. He fired out quick handballs to teammates to clear the area and took a good intercept mark at half-back in the second term. Did not win a heap of it, but did not fumble a great deal when a lot of others were.
Calder Cannons v. Greater Western Victoria Rebels
By: Liam Connop
#5 Curtis Taylor
On the back of a best afield performance last week, Taylor played in the midfield once again and found plenty of the footy, with a good ability to find space. Taylor used his clean hands to dish the ball out to teammates, which was on full-display with a brilliant half-volley gather before hand-balling to Bytel who kicked the goal. Taylor covers the ground well and also showed he has a penetrating kick. Good player who does not do a lot wrong.
#8 Lachlan Sholl
Sholl was a prolific ball-winner, particularly in the first half, playing at half-back and setting up many of the Cannons attacks. Sholl tends to play a kick behind the play and has excellent skills off both feet. Unflustered under pressure, Sholl also showed a nice turn of foot, and looks to be a typical break the lines off half-back type player. He noticeably also plays with confidence, demanding the ball from teammates to set-up the play.
#16 Jack Bytel
On return from injury, Bytel sat out the first half. He then played full-forward for the third quarter with the Cannons having the wind that quarter, winning a one-on-one contest at ground level before snapping a goal, shortly before setting up another thanks to his clean hands. Bytel then had a run around on the ball in the last quarter while looking to regain his fitness going forward.
#27 Tye Browning
Browning started on the wing and played there for a large duration, with some stints up forward in the second half. Browning is a very swift mover who looks like a natural athlete. He produced many examples of great clean hands, as well as possessing a lovely kicking style. Was involved in many of the Cannons attacks and looks to be a skilful, versatile player.
#33 Jack Evans
Evans spent his day in the forward line, and had a pretty quiet game with the occasional glimpse of skill. With a three or four goal breeze, Evans was not as prolific as he can be through the middle or down back, especially in the second and fourth quarters when the Rebels had the majority of the play. Nonetheless, Evans showed composure when he got the ball, setting up a shot on goal with a nice left foot in the second term. He finished the game with three behinds.
#3 Scott Carlin
Carlin played through the midfield as well as across half-back, showing versatility to play in multiple positions. In the first quarter Carlin’s vision resulted in a nice switch of play to hit up a teammate, resulting in a forward 50 entry. Carlin moves nicely and was entrusted with the kick-out from full back on a number of occasions, demonstrating a nice kicking style and an ability to lower his eyes to find a teammate.
#5 Harris Jennings
Jennings started the game in the centre, and is a nicely sized midfielder. He moves well and was able to link up well with teammates often against the run of play, propelling the Rebels into attack. Jennings spent a lot of time on the wing as the game progressed, winning plenty of the footy and was a key factor in the Rebels hitting the lead in the last quarter.
#9 Lochie Dawson
Dawson started in the centre and spent the majority of game in the midfield. Dawson has a solid build for a midfielder, and showed his ability to make great decisions throughout the game, with good disposals by both hand and foot. He showed a good understanding with teammate Scott Carlin, as they linked up by hand often to get the ball forward for scoring opportunities for the Rebels. Despite copping a heavy knock in the second quarter and starting the third quarter on the interchange, he recovered well to have a strong impact on the game.
#13 Thomas Berry
Berry switched his time on-ball and attack. He demonstrated an ability to use the ball well with clean hands. In the second quarter, Berry showed a willingness to get involved in the contest, with a Dusty style fend-off impressing the fans, and showed a nous for where the goals are. Berry is also a strong tackler, and produced the highlight of the day with what was possibly the mark of the season with a huge hanger in the third term, before unselfishly trying to centre the ball.
#14 Jed Hill
Hill was starved of opportunities for the game, not finding a lot of the footy on the half-back flank. Despite this, Hill kicked a sublime goal in the last quarter to give the Rebels the momentum and looked at home in his regular position up forward.
#20 Tylar Watts
Watts started the game at centre half-forward. The Rebels have a very strong ruck combination with his ability to interchange with Patrick Glanford, often giving the midfielders first use of the footy. Watts showed a nice ability to leap at the footy, and although not taking a heap of marks, he brought the ball to ground. Watts was not afraid to impose himself, using his strength in the contests through strong bumps and tackles.
#24 Matty Lloyd
Lloyd started the game across half-back, rotating between there and the wing throughout the game. Lloyd started reasonably quietly, but showed a willingness to contest well and really came into play in the third quarter. Perhaps frustrated at times by what appeared to be an ankle injury in the third term, and one or two defensive lapses, Lloyd started to win the footy and covered a lot of ground in the back half, showing great defensive skills.
Dandenong vs Sandringham
By: Ed Pascoe
#3 Jamie Plumridge
Plumridge was a clean and tough performer throughout the day for Dandenong mostly playing on the wing providing good linkup and defensive running. Early in the game Plumridge’s class was shown through some clean handballs and a creative kick inboard deep in defence. In the second quarter he got down and dirty laying some terrific tackles especially for his size, one passage of play he attacked the contest hard had a run and then executed a nice long handball. He continued his hard running and attack on the footy in the second half and he was rewarded with a goal in the third quarter taking a nice mark and going back to kick a set shot goal.
#7 Jai Taylor
Taylor took a while to have some impact in the game but he was a driving force in the second half with his run and dare leading to some eye catching plays. He missed a running shot at goal but his attack on the football and run that lead up to it was fantastic, he also had a nice kick inside 50 that lead to a goal on three quarter time. Taylor did not let up his running in the last quarter taking the game on at every opportunity, he even took some nice intercept marks showing he wasn’t just all run and flair.
#13 Riley Bowman
Bowman hit the ground running winning the opening tap of the game, he continued this trend for most of the first quarter while also following up his taps and using the ball well be hand. He decided to do it all late in the quarter roving his own taps and kicking a snap goal. His second goal came from some good positioning out the back and running into an open goal in the third quarter. Bowman did it all, taking some nice marks overhead while also using the ball well by hand and foot and using his impressive agility for a ruckman and avoiding much smaller players in the heat of the contest.
#23 Campbell Hustwaite
Hustwaite played a complete performance through the midfield winning plenty of the ball in the contest while also getting on the outside and having an impact. Hustwaite was very clean with ball in hand and was hardly flustered. He showed his composure on several occasions in the third quarter with one passage of play involving him running along the boundary with the opposition looking to take him out he just stayed composed and managed to get around his opponent and kick inside 50. He was rewarded for his efforts in the midfield in the last quarter kicking a goal when allowed to rest up forward.
#28 James Rendell
Rendell had a tough day at the office with not a lot going his way throughout the day, he managed to take some nice marks around the ground and although he got a few touches they were not as clean as he would like. His best bit of play came in the third quarter where he attacked the contest on the lead, picking up a ground ball and turning on a dime to kick to the hotspot. He will be hoping to win a spot in the Vic Metro side next week.
#32 Bailey Griffiths
Griffiths competed well in the ruck all day but what stood out most was his clean hands at ground level. Despite some fumbles he managed to kick a goal in the first quarter but that would be his only goal for the day. Like Rendell, he will be pushing for a spot in the ruck for Vic Metro.
Gippsland vs Geelong
By: Ed Pascoe
#22 Rylan Henkel
Henkel had a good battle with Schlensog throughout the day in the ruck, Henkel competed hard at the stoppages and he was also able to get on the outside and take some nice marks. He did his best to move the ball quickly after taking marks, he made some good choices by foot as well. The ruckman kicked a goal from a free kick in the second quarter.
#23 Noah Gown
Gown provided a good leading target for Gippsland all day taking some nice lead up marks and worked hard to give an outlet for his running defenders. Gown kicked two goals for the day, one from a free kick and the other from a mark inside 50 which he converted with ease. It was not a huge day but he played his role well.
#31 Cooper Stephens
Stephens was a workhorse in the midfield he started like a house on fire winning plenty of the ball in the contest and also on the outside. Stephens showed good composure with ball in hand throughout the day and his attack and clean hands where an asset at the stoppages. Stephens is not eligible to be drafted until 2019 but his selection in the Vic Country squad shows his quality and he would be a big chance to get a few games for Vic Country this year based of this performance.
#48 Blake Schlensog
Schlensog was the dominant big man on the ground doing everything you could ask from a big, strong ruckman. He was surprisingly clean at ground level for his size and his attack on the ball after a tap was very good. Schlensog took several intercept marks in defence showing his ability to work behind the ball to help his defenders, his kicking after a mark was also good with some low penetrating passes hitting their mark. He should also be judged for his rucking which on many occasions was effective, he had one tap behind in the first quarter which was noticeably impressive. Schlensog did his chances of a Vic Country spot no harm with his game, you could see how much he wanted the responsibility with the ball.