THE final round of the TAC Cup threw up some surprising results, and some standout individual performances. Here is how Round 16 went down.
Sandringham Dragons 6.10 (46) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 14.9 (93)
Dandenong Stingrays capped off a near-perfect home and away season, defeating top four side, Sandringham Dragons by 49 points at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on the weekend. The Stingrays finished the season with a 15-1 record and that loss was a six-point defeat at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers. The Stingrays burst out of the blocks booting six goals to one in the opening half, and by the final break had 10 goals on the board to the Dragons’ two. The final term was a goal fest with eight of the 20 goals kicked, as both teams shared in the feast booting four goals apiece.
Sam Fletcher won plenty of the ball once again with 30 disposals, three marks, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, joined on the inside by captain Campbell Hustwaite (28 disposals, four clearances and a goal) who had a combined 34 contested possessions between them. Matthew Cottrell was voted the Stingrays best for his 28 disposals, four clearances, eight inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal, while Sam Sturt continued to impress at TAC Cup level, booting 3.2 from 18 disposals and five marks. Toby Bedford (18 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s) and Matthew Gahan (16 disposals, four marks and five rebounds) were others who impressed for the winners.
For the Dragons, Liam Stocker had another day out, amassing 32 disposals, one mark, nine clearances, eight inside 50s and three rebounds, winning two thirds of his possessions at the coal face. Alastair Richards was equally effective on the outside, collecting 25 disposals, three marks, two clearances and four rebounds to give the Dragons some important run. James Rendell (14 disposals, two contested marks, 29 hitouts and a goal) and Corey Watts (20 disposals and eight marks) were others who stood tall for the losing side.
Geelong Falcons 11.12 (84) defeated Calder Cannons 10.9 (69)
Geelong Falcons gained a vital mental advantage over the Calder Cannons, claiming bragging rights ahead of the pair’s duel in the Wild Card Round next weekend. The Falcons had to fight from eight points down at quarter time to put pressure on their opponents and had 11 scoring shots to two in the second quarter, heading in with a 16-point advantage. They built on that lead in the third term, before the Cannons finished stronger, but it was just too little, too late in the game, as the Falcons celebrated by 15 points.
Co-captain Sam Walsh was sensational with 37 disposals, 10 marks (one contested), five clearances, eight inside 50s, six rebounds and three behinds, while fellow co-captain Oscar Brownless got the Falcons moving early, finishing the game with 19 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s and a powerful long-range goal. Brayden Ham‘s consistent season continued with 20 disposals, nine marks and eight inside 50s, albeit with an inaccurate 1.4. Ned McHenry (27 disposals, seven marks, three clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal), Cooper Stephens (21 disposals, seven marks, six clearances and three inside 50s) and Connor Idun (16 disposals, seven marks and three inside 50s and a goal) were others who stood out for the winners.
Calder had a number of strong contributors with Daniel Mott having a team-high 29 disposals, three marks, nine clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds. Rhylee West was strong up forward, booting three goals while resting up there to go with his 20 touches, four marks (two contested), six clearances and four inside 50s. Lachlan Sholl (20 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) and Mitch Podhajski (21 disposals, eight marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and two goals) were others who stood out for the Cannons.
GWV Rebels 5.3 (33) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 18.15 (123)
In a match that started positively for the Rebels, it ended in disaster as Oakleigh Chargers stormed home with a 90-point win at MARS Stadium. The Rebels, although down at the first break, had been matching the Chargers around the ground, and faced a 13-point deficit at the first break. A five goals to two second term put the Rebels to the sword, but it was the nine goals to one second half that saw Oakleigh waltz away with the huge win, peppering the goals in the second half, having a whopping 20 scoring shots to two, in a game which the deficit could have been even greater.
Jack Ross had the most disposals, with 26 touches, five marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, ably assisted on the inside by James Rowbottom (24 disposals and eight clearances) and Riley Collier-Dawkins (16 disposals and seven clearances). Trent Bianco had another impressive game highlighted by a strong second half, picking up 15 disposals and having 24 overall, to go with his five marks and six rebounds, while Zac Hart buzzed around to collect 23 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds. Atu Bosenavulagi and Jake Gasper caused headaches up forward, while Noah Anderson and Jay Robertson also booted three goals.
For the Rebels, Matty Lloyd was the sole player with more than 20 disposals, having 24 touches, five marks and eight rebounds, while forward, Jed Hill was the clear standout player, having 12 disposals, three marks (one contested), two clearances and three goals – all in the first half. Jayden Wright played well in defence with five rebounds from 19 disposals and three marks, while Charlie Wilson had four clearances and four inside 50s from 14 disposals.
Gippsland Power 11.11 (77) defeated Eastern Ranges 10.8 (68)
Gippsland Power finished their season off with a hard-fought nine-point win over Eastern Ranges. The Power had to work for it against the bottom two side, booting the first four goals of the game, but being reeled in over the next two quarters to trail at the final break by three points. Luckily for Gippsland, they booted four goals to two in the final term and ensured their regular season ended on a high.
Captain Xavier Duursma was consistent once again with 21 touches, two marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and two goals, while bottom-age forward, Sam Flanders also had 21 disposals, two marks, eight inside 50s and booted an inaccurate 1.4. Noah Gown continued his strong form up forward with another four goals from 20 disposals and eight marks (two contested), while Leo Connolly (20 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Riley Baldi (18 disposals, three marks, four clearances and three inside 50s) were other prominent ball winners.
For Eastern, Kye Quirk had a massive game-high 34 disposals, five marks, two clearances, eight inside 50s and two rebounds, while Xavier Fry was prominent in defence with seven rebounds from 24 disposals and five marks. Joel Burleigh had 23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, six inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Lachlan Stapleton was busy at the stoppages, recording eight clearances and 21 disposals. Adrian Kalcovski booted three goals from 22 disposals and seven marks, while Mitch Mellis had 19 touches and three marks.
Murray Bushrangers 8.7 (55) defeated by Northern Knights 9.10 (64)
Northern Knights spoiled the party for Murray Bushrangers, who were looking to cement a top four spot with a win. The Knights could not move out of eighth spot, and the home side got on top early, booting six goals to three in the first half. Northern clawed back into the contest in the third quarter, to cut the deficit to nine points at the final change, but came over the top of the Bushrangers, booting four goals to one in the nine-point victory.
Justin McInerney was busy around the ground for the Knights, picking up 24 disposals, 12 marks (one contested), two inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Adam Carafa also found 24 touches and had five marks, four clearances, three rebounds and a goal. Cameron Wild was busy with 22 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and a goal, while Josh D’Intinosante had 18 touches, five marks, seven inside 50s and a goal. Teammate Oscar White also covered the ground well with six inside 50s and five rebounds from 17 disposals and five marks (one contested).
Jimmy Boyer was the top ball winner for the Bushrangers, racking up 25 touches, seven marks, seven clearances and three inside 50s, while Edward Adams had 22 disposals, seven marks (one contested) and four rebounds. Jordon Butts was productive through the midfield, sending the ball inside 50 on six occasions from 21 disposals and seven marks, while Nick Murray had five rebounds from 21 disposals and seven marks. Bottom-ager Lachlan Ash (17 disposals, five marks and five rebounds) and Ely Smith (18 disposals, two marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) were others who impressed for the losing side.
Bendigo Pioneers 8.9 (57) defeated by Western Jets 15.8 (98)
A six goals to two first term effectively ended the contest before it began, as the finals-bound Western Jets got the job done against the Bendigo Pioneers. After quarter time it was much closer as the Pioneers booted six goals to the Jets’ nine, but could not quite capitalise and the Jets enjoyed the 41-point lead heading into the Wild Card Round next weekend.
Connor Thar had a super game with 32 disposals, five marks, three contested, five inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals to be named the AFL Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 16, while Daly Andrews (26 disposals, nine marks, six inside 50s, four rebounds and one goal) was busy around the ground. Captain Xavier O’Halloran was deadly going inside 50, having 10 entries along with 25 touches, six marks, four clearances and a goal. Jack Watkins was also instrumental with 25 disposals, four marks, five clearances, eight inside 50s and a goal. Aaron Clarke was the key forward with four majors while Steven Kyriazis booted three.
For the Pioneers, Noah Wheeler was again the top performer for the home side, picking up 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, six rebounds and a goal, while Bailey Henderson had six rebounds from 22 disposals and seven marks. Talented bottom-ager Brodie Kemp had 21 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Jye Caldwell had 19 disposals, four marks and four clearances in his first TAC Cup game since early in the year.