TAC Cup action returned to an almost-full round on the weekend when five games were played across Saturday and Sunday. We were at four of them, and focused on those extended Vic Metro and Vic Country players back at TAC Cup level as well as a few bottom-agers who have already shown promising signs this season.
Western Jets vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Brandon Hutchinson
#20 Darcy Cassar
As usual, Cassar went hard to win the contested ball, earning a great deal of possessions. The high-pressure player laid a few strong tackles and showed little regard for his own safety when the ball was loose. He runs hard and provides plenty of support for his teammates around stoppages. He had a handful of clearances, moving up the ground to assist in the contest. He kicked a goal in the fourth as his side struggled against the Falcons. It is his hunger that separates Cassar from a lot of other players. With the ball in sight, Cassar is not afraid to go in and rip the ball out of the contest.
#37 Hamish Murphy
Clean and composed, Murphy’s decision making was a definite highlight of his game. Working off centre half-back, he picked his targets well, hitting his man well off the leads and picking up a handful of inside 50s. He knows when and how to switch the pace of the game to regain control and moved the pill well up through the guts on the counter attack. On occasion he struggled hitting targets, as did most of the players, but struck it well when he took his time. In all, Murphy showed us he’s a great decision maker and a well composed backman who encouraged great offensive movement.
#20 Brayden Ham
Despite the heavy conditions, Ham went home with four goals, having three of them by half-time. Ham set up his teammates well with his supreme passing ability and kicks true from set shots. He presented a high footy IQ through a careful read on the ball and good decision-making. Playing his final quarter in the midfield, Ham proved his versatility and ability to win the footy in the contest. The small forward went up against bigger bodies and still snuck his way to the goals. Ham once again stepped up for the Falcons.
Dandenong Stingrays v. Oakleigh Chargers
By Liam Connop
#2 Hayden Young
Young spent much of the day matched up on Bosenavulagi in defence. He played tight to his man and showed good defensive capabilities, where he was then able to use his damaging left foot for many rebound 50s. Another feature of Young’s game is the poise he shows with ball in hand. He rarely gets phased and makes good decisions with the footy.
#23 Campbell Hustwaite
Hustwaite is a tough, in-and-under midfielder who works hard to get to each contest and has clean skills with balls in hand. He also peels off the back of contests well, using a handball link-up and using his skilful left foot to progress the Stingrays forward. Hustwaite will impress recruiters looking for a contested ball winner someone who will run all day.
#28 Bailey Schmidt
Certainly the most versatile player on the field, Schmidt had stints in defence, up forward as well as in the ruck, demonstrating an array of skills. He showed his speed with a nice mark on the lead in the second quarter, and is a lovely kick of the footy, slotting the goal from 40 metres out. Schmidt also did some nice work in the ruck-up, with his follow-up work a key aspect of his game.
#58 Will Hamill
Hamill’s agility and dash through the stoppages is a standout. He looks to be a great mover who is able to evade opponents and use his classy left-foot, which was on display in the second quarter, kicking a goal from 45 metres. Playing predominantly off halfback, Hamill spent more time in the midfield in the second half, where accumulated plenty of the footy. High impact player who has a real spark about his game
#5 Xavier O’Neill
O’Neill started the game reasonably slowly, but worked his way into the game in the second half with pure effort to run hard and create position. This allowed him to be involved in many link-up plays with both defence and forward. O’Neill has clean hands and kicks well on both feet, and tried valiantly hard in the second half to lift his side back into the game.
#7 Jay Robertson
Robertson spent his majority of time up forward, but with his outstanding vertical leap, the Chargers were able to utilise him in the ruck, winning a few tapouts and give their primary ruckman a rest. Although not getting an abundance of possessions, Robertson has good mobility and skills, and knows where the goals are, slotting a nice goal in the last term. A bright prospect who will improve with more development.
#13 Atu Bosenavulagi
Bosenavulagi is a beautifully-sized footballer, who played mostly forward with stints in the backline in the second half. He has excellent balance in the contests, demonstrating good clean hands allowing him to mark overhead well. In a game where Oakleigh were starved off forward opportunities, Bosenavulagi was one of Oakleigh’s best on the day.
#79 Bailey Griffiths
Griffiths is a very good tap ruckman who is not shy of putting his body into the contests. However, Griffiths needs to work on impacting the game more around the ground by taking some marks and gathering possessions. Once Griffith’s develops his confidence with his skills, he should be able to impact the game in more ways than just his ruckwork. He certainly has the makings of a good player if he pieces the jigsaw puzzle together.
Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Michael Alvaro
#9 Zane Keighran
Despite a quiet start, Keighran played himself into the game, after trading his long-sleeve jumper in for the more conventional look at quarter time. With the Pioneers held goalless in the opening term, Keighran took one of the few chances to fall his side’s way in the second quarter with a booming set shot goal after a clean overhead mark. Keighran showed his versatility as he was rotated through the midfield throughout the match, winning a few eye-catching clearances with his breakaway speed and utilising his good, long leg. He looked to have badly injured his knee in the third quarter but soldiered on to boot a second goal later in the term from another set shot. He showed some good zip in the forward half to create scoring opportunities with multiple inside 50 entries.
#16 Jacob Atley
Atley was another Pioneer who took some time to come into the game, but ended up producing good form in patches. Playing forward for most of the game, Atley collected the ball cleanly below his knees in trying conditions and was a decent lead-up option early. He was most effective when utilised closer to the contest as he has a useful knack for keeping his hands free in-close and squirting out handballs. As expected, Atley looked to play on at all costs and was involved in some dangerous handball chains, but rarely used his damaging long kick. His highlight for the day came in the second quarter as he took a mark of the day contender, going back with the flight and clunking a solid contested overhead grab.
#14 Jye Chalcraft
The bottom ager wasn’t hard to miss with his bright green boots and Dusty-esque haircut, but it was his football that stood out most. In difficult conditions, the 176cm live-wire was as clean and effective as anyone out there and matched it with his hard attack on the ball. Often rotating with Kyle Clarke between the midfield and forward line, Chalcraft’s zip and ability to ease past his opponents with a couple of twists really caught the eye. His most notable highlights came in the form of almost identical assists for two of Jordan Butts’ six goals; as he dished off a couple of ridiculously clever look-away handballs to send his teammate into an open goal, showing good range and instinct. His ability to turn on a sixpence and get around opponents had the TAC Cup Radio team claiming he could ‘run his own candy store’, and he mentioned in a post-game interview with the crew that he is working on building his tank in hopes of moving into the midfield.
#23 Mark Marriott
The towering ruckman had a decent day out, competing well both up forward and in his usual position. He started each quarter in the centre bounce, and used his size advantage to often reach over his direct opponent and give Murray’s dangerous midfielders first use. With key big-man Hudson Garoni on Vic Country duties, Marriott found himself forward on many occasions in an attempt to fill the void, and even slotted the first goal of the game. While he did not have a massive impact on the scoreboard after that, Marriott did well to bring the ball to the feet of Murray’s small forwards in conditions that suited them better.
#28 Kyle Clarke
Clarke has become somewhat of a staple in Murray’s midfield and forward rotation with his consistent form, but was made to work hard for his possessions in this match. Taking up his usual position at the opening bounce, Clarke was in the thick of things early on with his solid work rate allowing him to find the ball often. He had a couple of forays at goal which fell well short, but his lack of scoreboard impact is never for the want of trying. A livewire in the contest, Clarke tackled well and showed good awareness to provide effective clearances in patches. A tendency of his game was to throw the ball onto his boot quickly almost every time he received it, which may have come on account of Bendigo’s perceived pressure.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Northern Knights
By: Cameron Ross
Greater Western Victoria Rebels:
#3 Scott Carlin
Carlin is such a consistent player, and yet again was in the Rebels best three players. Lately, he has really stood up showcasing an improvement in his on-field leadership. Carlin was directing traffic and rotations all day. Although the Rebels like to play him in many positions, Carlin’s a terrific running defender. His ability to link up with teammates, got the Rebels out of trouble in defence twice. Carlin would start a handball chain, receiving the ball three to four times before kicking the ball long.
#9 Lochie Dawson
The strong-bodied midfielder, got his hands on the footy a lot, but had more damaging games than today. He was worn like a glove at stoppages, every time he touched the footy, the Knights were all over him. Dawson kicked a goal after managing to free himself and find some space to slot one through the middle.
#11 Josh Chatfield
Played forward and onball. Really tried to assert his physicality at the contest with some bone crunching tackles. One of those tackles produced a turnover, and gave the Rebels an inside 50 chance. Went on ball in the second half, and this was where he was most efficient. He played on the outside at stoppages, hitting the contest at pace in an attempt to be an effective outlet.
#17 Josh D’Intinosante
The bottom-ager spent the majority of the game in the middle, and was arguably the best midfielder on the ground. Produced a fine piece of skill, winning a centre clearance by hitting the pack at speed and spinning out of a tackle to clear the ball (ala Trent Cotchin against Geelong). Seemed to have an impact at every stoppage. If he did not win the stoppage, he was getting his hands on the ball and getting tackled, or laying a tackle on an opponent. Played as a small forward in the final term, but was not as effective as he was on-ball.