Author: Peter Williams

TAC Cup weekend preview: Round 1

IT is back. The TAC Cup competition returns after a couple of fantastic weeks with the girls on centre stage. Now the boys join them to show the complete development pathway. The metropolitan sides face off against each other, while the country sides also clash in an action-packed weekend.

Calder Cannons vs. Western Jets

TWO metropolitan sides keen to bounce back after missing finals last year kick-off the season tonight, with Calder Cannons hosting Western Jets at RAMS Arena. Both sides came close to reaching finals, but ultimately fell short with inconsistent form at either end of the season.

The Cannons have a core group of top-end talent, led by Curtis Taylor, Jack Bytel and Rhylee West, while Mason Fletcher and Jack Evans will hold down their last line of defence. For the Jets, their strength lies in their depth with few holes across their line-up. Western have one of the best half-back lines in the league with Oskar Manton, Buku Khamis and Stefan Radovanovic lining up there, although the latter is likely to play inside. Emerson Jeka and Zac Butters will be two forwards to keep an eye on, while Xavier O’Halloran will win plenty of inside ball.


Oakleigh Chargers vs. Eastern Ranges

In the first of a double header metropolitan clash, Oakleigh Chargers host Eastern Ranges at Skybus Stadium in Frankston. The Chargers won the minor premiership last year but bowed out in the preliminary final. The Ranges made the finals but lost to Dandenong despite being in control in the first half.

Oakleigh has been famous for serious top-end talent in past years, but in 2018 the Chargers have highlighted greater depth rather than a couple of stars. Xavier O’Neill, Riley Collier-Dawkins and Isaac Quaynor are all ones who will be talked about this season, while bottom-agers Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Dylan Williams are a trio likely to just keep getting better. Eastern will look to a team approach to win the game with Adrian Kalcovski, Kye Quirk and Xavier Fry leading the midfield, and Ben Cardamone steadying down back.


Northern Knights vs. Sandringham Dragons

For the second game at Skybus Stadium, last year’s grand finalists Sandringham Dragons clash with the Northern Knights. The Knights were bundled out in a one-sided contest against Oakleigh in the elimination final last year, but will be keen to start out strong in season 2018.

Northern’s midfield duo of Tom McKenzie and Braedyn Gillard will hope to match the Dragons at the stoppages, but will need to limit the influence of the slick Bailey Smith. The Dragons also have the much talked about King twins lining up this weekend with Max and Ben up opposite ends of the ground. Sandringham have greater depth than last year when they reached the grand final and with the top stars in for the weekend, will be tough to beat.


GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers

In a rematch of last year’s first round clash, the GWV Rebels host Bendigo Pioneers at Mars Stadium. The Pioneers got the better of the Rebels in the corresponding fixture last season, but the Rebels will be confident of their chances in this clash.

The Rebels will be well serviced off half-back by Scott Carlin and through the midfield with the returning Tom Berry – who missed the second half of 2017 through injury. Tylar Watts will hold down a key position post, with the rotating ruckman aiming to dominate deep this season. The Pioneers will miss Jye Caldwell, who is still playing school cricket for Geelong Grammar, but will be aided by the inclusions of Jacob Atley and Bailey Henderson in the back half to sure up the ball movement.


Murray Bushrangers vs. Gippsland Power

Two of last year’s finalists that were bundled out in the elimination finals stage clash in the first round this season. Murray Bushrangers went down to Sandringham Dragons, and Gippsland Power were overwhelmed by Geelong Falcons in the first week of finals last season. This time around the sides will meet in the middle of their respective highways for a huge clash at Swinburne Centre (Punt Road).

The Rolls Royce for Murray is Zane Barzen, an imposing half-forward of key position height who rolls through the midfield. Along with Barzen, Murray have a host of tall options such as Mark Marriott and Hudson Garoni who will both attract recruiters gazes. For Gippsland, captain Xavier Duursma will lead the team through the midfield with his balanced style and inside grunt. Irving Mosquito will undoubtedly create an air of excitement inside 50, while down back, Matthew McGannon will use his foot skills to hurt teams on the rebound.


Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

In the clash of the round, Geelong Falcons host Dandenong Stingrays in a blockbuster Sunday afternoon game. Scheduled for GMHBA Stadium, the match is predicted to be a ripper of a contest given both sides are genuine premiership contenders. With full-strength line-ups, there will be plenty on show for recruiters to get an early gauge on the form of some players.

Geelong’s key strength lies in its midfield with arguably the strongest triple threat in Sam Walsh, Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless lining up in the guts. Naturally the Falcons defence and forward structures are sound, but its midfield is all class. For the Stingrays, there are plenty of names to watch across the team sheet, but the return of former AFL AIS Academy member Aaron Darling is the story of the day. Bailey Williams, Riley Bowman and Mitch Riordan are just a few other names to keep an eye on, while the Cumming twins will play their first game for the Stingrays since crossing from basketball.

Editors predict tight year for TAC Cup teams

AFTER a long off-season, the TAC Cup boys are ready to follow their female counterparts in kicking off their 2018 campaigns this weekend. In what is predicted to be a super year for draft talent, there is no shortage of future AFL stars across the 12 TAC Cup clubs and we are excited to bring you plenty of content throughout the year.

Rewind to last year and the Geelong Falcons took out the premiership, defeating Sandringham Dragons in a thrilling grand final for the ages, coming down to a last-second miss by the Dragons to hand the Falcons a drought-breaking win. It was a lot closer by the final siren than many predicted after Geelong hero Gryan Miers booted seven goals as the country side looked set to run away with the contest in the final term. But to the Dragons credit, they fought back and took it up to the Falcons, narrowly missing out on back-to-back flags.

Both sides are expected to be around the mark once again, as both teams have no shortage of AFL AIS Academy stars and some envious depth. Sam Walsh and Ned McHenry lead the Falcons’ midfield brigade, while Oscar Brownless is a developing utility with strong bloodlines. Connor Idun, Blake Schlensog and Charlie Sprague are potential X-factors this season for the reigning premiers. For Sandringham, it is hard to look past the much talked about King twins, with Max and Ben both expected to be top 10 picks – if not both top five. Captain Bailey Smith will not be far behind them after an outstanding bottom-age season, while Joel Crocker is another to keep in mind for this year.

Other country teams expected to be around the mark are Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers, with Dandenong having a wealth of AIS AFL Academy talls and smalls, while Murray has an experienced list for the season ahead. Reeling off some names for the Stingrays, Bailey Williams, Riley Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Matthew Cumming are four top-end talent talls who are likely to fill holes across the key position posts, while Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will impact through the midfield along with the dangerous Jai Nanscawen up forward. For Murray, Zane Barzen is the top prospect with all the class in the world, while talls Hudson Garoni, Mark Marriott, Ben Kelly and the pint sized Kyle Clarke are others to watch.

Looking across to the metropolitan regions, Oakleigh Chargers and Calder Cannons are other sides likely to challenge at the business end of the season. Oakleigh are perennial achievers, and it will be no surprise to see them near the top of the ladder again. The Chargers have midfielders Xavier O’Neill and Charlie Whitehead leading the attack, while Isaac Quaynor will be a key in defence. Joseph Ayton-Delaney and Riley Collier-Dawkins are other players to keep an eye on, with a mosquito fleet likely to cause headaches for opposition clubs. For the Cannons, their AFL AIS Academy members in Curtis Taylor, Jack Bytel and Rhylee West are names that jump off the page, while the likes of father-son prospect Mason Fletcher, Jack Evans and Lachlan Sholl are others that could impress throughout the season.

Gippsland Power’s top prospect in 2018 is Xavier Duursma, while the Power also have a couple of electrifying smalls in Irving Mosquito and the returning Tyrone Hayes. For Bendigo Pioneers, Jacob Atley and Jye Caldwell are two midfielders to watch this season, while tall forward Daine Grace could provide some X-factor inside the forward 50. GWV Rebels also have a talented midfield with Thomas Berry, Scott Carlin and Matty Lloyd, all of whom will be well supported by tall target Tylar Watts.

Western Jets have a strong core of midfielders leading the way in 2018, with 2017 best and fairest winner Stefan Radovanovic, Zac Butters, Connor Thar and Xavier O’Halloran among the top prospects, while Buku Khamis and Oskar Manton are likely to sure up the defensive end. Eastern Ranges might not have the huge roll-call of AFL AIS Academy members they had last year, but Ben Cardamone, Kye Quirk and Cody Hirst are just some of the names that might catch draft watchers eyes. Finally, Northern Knights midfielders Braedyn Gillard and Tom McKenzie will compliment each other well, while Joseph Ciranna, Harrison Grace, Kye Yodgee and Patrik Della Rocca are other names that will be closely watched in 2018.

AFL Draft Central Editor predictions:

Peter Williams
Chief Editor

Premier: Dandenong Stingrays
Runner-Up: Geelong Falcons
Top 4: Dandenong, Geelong, Oakleigh, Murray
Wildcard Weekend: Sandringham, Calder, Western, GWV, Eastern, Gippsland, Northern, Bendigo
Morrish Medallist: Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons)

Matt Balmer
Draft Editor

Premier: Sandringham Dragons
Runner-Up: Oakleigh Chargers
Top 4: Sandringham, Oakleigh, Dandenong, Geelong
Wildcard Weekend: Eastern, Murray, Calder, Western, Northern, Bendigo, GWV, Gippsland
Morrish Medallist: Curtis Taylor (Calder Cannons)

Michael Alvaro
News Editor

Premier: Geelong Falcons
Runner-Up: Dandenong Stingrays
Top 4: Geelong, Sandringham, Dandenong, Oakleigh
Wildcard Weekend: Murray, Calder, Western, Gippsland, Northern, GWV, Eastern, Bendigo
Morrish Medallist: Zane Barzen (Murray Bushrangers)

Peter Bonadio
Features Editor

Premier: Geelong Falcons
Runner-Up: GWV Rebels
Top 4: Geelong, Sandringham, Oakleigh, Dandenong
Wildcard Weekend: Western, Eastern, GWV, Northern, Gippsland, Calder, Murray, Bendigo
Morrish Medallist: Tom Berry (GWV Rebels)

Team Selection: TAC Cup Girls – Round 3

AS we enter round three of the TAC Cup Girls, we are beginning to see the ladder take shape. There are four undefeated sides – Northern Knights, Geelong Falcons, Eastern Ranges and Murray Bushrangers – while four sides – GWV Rebels, Dandenong Stingrays, Western Jets and Calder Cannons – are yet to taste victory; at least one of which will do so, with the Jets and Cannons clashing on Sunday.


Round 3 – Saturday, March 24, 10.30am
Mars Stadium, Ballarat

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels head into their clash with Bendigo Pioneers yet to taste victory after a tough couple of matches against Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons. Now back at their home stadium, the Rebels will look to take full advantage of their familiar blustery conditions to knock off Bendigo and claim the win. Georgia Clarke will start at centre-half back, possibly to curb the influence of Kate Douglass who was impressive for the Pioneers last week. Rebels captain Lauren Butler could go head-to-head with Kodi Jacques, while Sophie Molan will face off against Pioneers captain Megan Williamson in the middle.

Bendigo will be keen to bounce back from its loss to Murray, kicking the last three goals of the game but still going down to one of the benchmark teams this season. If they can carry their form into the round three game, they are every chance to get the result. Sophie Kerridge will line up at full-forward alongside Maeve Tupper, while possibly opposed to Georgia Pidgeon and Nekaela Butler respectively. Without the classy Sophie Van De Heuvel in the Rebels midfield, the Pioneers will look to take control and assert themselves through the corridor.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

B: 6. N. Butler, 26. G. Pidgeon, 14. L. Sykes
HB: 44. E. Bibby, 25. G. Clarke, 34. S. Glover
C: 27. N.  Dojiok, 23. S.  Molan, 10. H.  Simpson
HF: 13. C. Leonard, 28. I. Simmons, 2. R. Saulitis
F: 4. A. Nicholson, 41. K. Harris, 8. E. Wood
R: 22. I. Rustman, 21. D. Henson, 16. L. Butler
Int: 15. T. Jasper, 5. V. Jewell, 9. J. McAuliffe , 7. A. McAuliffe

Bendigo Pioneers

B: 12. T. Coad, 32. S. Reilly, 5. E. Turnbull
HB: 23. G. Murrell, 3. C. Isaac, 25. T. Stewart
C: 11. J.  Finning, 28. M.  Williamson, 15. T.  Goodrem
HF: 27. B. Hards, 20. K. Douglass, 30. B. Heiden
F: 17. G. Sladden, 13. S. Kerridge , 1. M. Tupper
R: 9. D. Kelly-Guthrie, 19. K. Jacques, 2. M. Baldwin
Int: 6. M. Curran, 18. I. Gould, 14. O. Taverna, 22. M. Ward



Round 3 – Saturday, March 24, 2.45pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

Murray Bushrangers are running hot at the moment and will look to use their experience against the young Gippsland Power side. One of the most exciting battles of the day has to be Rebecca Webster going head-to-head with Tyla Hanks. Both players are among the top echelon in the competition and have been in super form this season. Up forward, the dangerous pocket rocket Julia Harvey or teammate Claudia McKimmie could have Power defender Emily Haeusler stand them, all three of whom are in good form.

Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Grace Egan represent some pretty potent half-back flankers and Holly Andrews and Nikia Webber will be looking to quell their influence. Julia Redmond has been a rock in defence, but she will be tested against Sophie Damon or Olivia Barber this weekend. Murray will head into the match as strong favourites, but with nothing to lose and plenty of speed, Gippsland has every chance of taking it up to one of the top sides in the competition.

Murray Bushrangers

B: 14. A. Duguid, 21. C. Boschetti, 32. N. Watts
HB: 16. E. Ashley-Cooper, 34. E. McPherson, 42. G. Egan
C: 11. A.  Chessor, 17. R.  Webster, 3. P.  Crelley
HF: 19. M. Brown, 6. K. Adams, 1. J. Harvey
F: 37. S. Damon, 45. O. Barber, 36. C. Mckimmie
R: 43. T. Verhoeven, 22. T. Smith, 4. C. Knight
Int: 8. O. Hall, 31. S. Locke, 26. E. Nicholson, 33. M. Trethowan

Gippsland Power

B: 29. C. Bray, 65. J. Redmond, 17. S. Trewin
HB: 6. E. Haeusler , 45. L. Van Berkel, 49. M. Shaw
C: 12. M.  Fitzsimon, 28. T.  Hanks, 30. A.  Rippon
HF: 13. H. Andrews, 8. C. Abrahams, 27. N. Webber
F: 4. J. Ross, 57. J. Ferguson, 60. E. Williams
R: 58. A. Dunn, 31. L. Berry, 10. T. Dower
Int: 1. E. Jones, 48. C. Prestidge, 50. M. Van Berkel, 11. S. Walker



Round 3 – Sunday, March 25, 11am
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

In the battle of the winless teams, Western and Calder will look to kick-start their 2018 campaign on Sunday. Western have been drawn as the “home” team given the fixture was originally scheduled for Avalon Airport Oval, but a late change to RAMS Arena hands the Cannons the homeground advantage. On the field, Isabella Pritchard and Katarina Rebuffo form a strong defensive duo, while Isabella Grant and Cleo Saxon-Jones are among the targets up forward for the Jets. Through the midfield, Olivia Forsythe and Elizabeth Georgostathis will be hoping to continue their form from last round against a strong Cannons midfield.

For the Cannons, all eyes will be on Madison Prespakis through the midfield as the star playmaker in the team. Down back, Molly Warburton and Eleanor Cornish will combine to provide some drive off half-back, while Georgia Patrikios is a skilful player in the forward half. With the likes of Faith Holloway and Felicity Theodore coming off the bench, the Cannons will have plenty of youthful run in the side.

Western Jets

B: 33. L. Basto, 31. K. Rebuffo, 2. C. Gashi
HB: 21. M. Fenech, 44. C. Myors-Moore, 30. I. Pritchard
C: 22. A.  Chivell, 4. L.  Spargo, 25. T.  Kolevski
HF: 8. E. Gardner, 36. J. Goodman, 14. I. Grant
F: 26. I. Negri, 39. C. Saxon-Jones, 40. S. Whiting
R: 43. C. Greiser, 19. O. Forsythe, 16. E. Georgostathis
Int: 5. M. Daw, 34. T. Evans, 17. I. Freeman, 27. P. Ozols

Calder Cannons

B: 29. S. Elias, 48. C. Brown, 44. I. McNeill-Wren
HB: 22. M. Muller, 17. E. Cornish, 9. M. Warburton
C: 32. T.  Fry , 31. K.  Petrevski, 8. E.  Vale
HF: 21. G. Patrikios, 28. R. Love, 11. A. Barba
F: 34. Z. Hardiman, 49. T. Crook, 25. A. Magri
R: 18. C. Rendelmann, 23. G. Dicker, 3. M. Prespakis
Int: 37. F. Holloway, 45. C. Macumber, 2. F. Theodore, 35. I. Young



Round 3 – Sunday, March 25, 11am
Deakin University, Geelong

The unbeaten Geelong Falcons welcome the determined Dandenong Stingrays to Deakin University on Sunday morning. The Falcons midfield which includes guns Olivia Purcell and Nina Morrison will go head-to-head with the lines of Jordyn Allen and Isabella Shannon, while Lucy McEvoy will have the job on dangerous Stingrays forward Samantha Ryan. Shelley Heath is another nimble Stingrays player who might face off against the Falcons’ Demby Taylor.

Brooke Struylaart will go forward for the Stingrays, while Lucinda Cripps will hold down the fort – and for her sake hopefully Sachi DeGiacomi, with the Geelong Falcons centre-half forward in ripping form. Samantha Atkins and Molly McDonald played well last week and might go head-to-head in what should be a fascinating contest. The Falcons will naturally be favourites heading into the clash, but the Stingrays are strong defensively and will be hoping to nullify some of Geelong’s key ball winners.

Geelong Falcons

B: 22. K. Haustorfer , 37. A. Chapman, 33. M. Sheppard
HB: 38. S. Dinneen, 24. L. McEvoy, 28. D. Taylor
C: 18. N.  Morrison, 15. J.  Devarakonda, 36. S.  Walmsley
HF: 10. S. Atkins, 42. S. DeGiacomi, 2. E. Vella
F: 20. T. Love, 39. R. Tierney, 27. M. Skinner
R: 34. Z. Inei, 11. L. Lesosky-Hay, 7. O. Purcell
Int: 25. K. Gleeson, 46. E. Lawson, 31. S. Milsome, 6. P. Sheppard

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 19. B. Borchard, 51. Z. Hill, 47. L. Metcalfe
HB: 5. E. Allen-Burns, 35. L. Cripps, 12. M. McDonald
C: 46. J.  George, 26. I.  Shannon, 28. T.  Smith
HF: 1. S. Heath, 44. S. Ryan, 3. C. Jones
F: 42. A. O’Sullivan, 29. B. Struylaart, 31. B. Vernon
R: 45. M. Graham, 15. J. Allen, 21. G. Hodder
Int: 40. R. Clancy – Dillon, 10. A. Jordan, 2. S. Stratton, 39. N. Taylor



Round 3 – Sunday, March 25, 12.45pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

In arguably the match of the round, the unbeaten Northern Knights take on the impressive Sandringham Dragons. The Dragons bounced back from a round one loss to Geelong Falcons, to run all over Oakleigh Chargers last week. The rebound off half-back from the likes of Winnie Laing, Sarah Hartwig and Eleanor Brown was telling, while Eliza McNamara and Abbie McKay were prime movers in the middle. Up forward, Laura Amelung and Sophia Rothfield could be dangerous, but the Dragons key to scoring lies in their ability to share the goals around.

For the Knights, they have one of the most potent forward lines in the league, with leading goal kicker Alyssa Bannan alongside other goal kickers Abigail Bennett, Alex Pronesti and Olivia Dikranis. Through the midfield, Nell Morris-Dalton, Maddy Bracantisano and Gabby Newton will look to take control, while Magdelene Antypas and Britney Gutknecht are other names to look out for. The battle in the ruck between Knight Neve O’Connor and Dragon Alanna Dalley will be another fantastic battle.

Northern Knights

B: 1. M. Antypas, 27. P. Kearney, 13. M. Suzuki
HB: 10. P. Chisholm, 18. S. Sansonetti, 21. E. McKenzie
C: 2. M.  Jarvis, 5. M.  Brancatisano, 23. G.  Newton
HF: 7. A. Bennett, 6. A. Bannan, 12. O. Dikranis
F: 17. C. Fitzgerald, 24. A. Pronesti, 11. A. Williams
R: 4. N. O’Connor, 14. J. Fitzgerald, 3. N. Morris-Dalton
Int: 8. G. Ceravolo, 26. E. Clayton, 22. B. Gutknecht, 16. T. Manson

Sandringham Dragons

B: 40. N. Borg, 42. R. Woods, 46. A. Burke
HB: 2. W. Laing, 32. S. Hartwig, 13. D. Walker
C: 30. E.  Brown, 43. A.  McKay, 5. J.  Tait
HF: 49. L. Amelung, 3. S. Rothfield, 31. B. Arnold
F: 25. I. Eddey, 50. H. Bate, 1. M. Wilson
R: 20. A. Dalley, 36. J. Owen, 64. E. McNamara
Int: 48. N. Amiet, 58. G. Bridges, 33. M. Denahy Maloney, 15. P. Hobday, 65. C. Saultry, 60. G. Strangio, 53. I. Stutt, 11. T. Tysoe



Round 3 – Sunday, March 25, 2.30pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

In the final game of the round, Oakleigh Chargers will test themselves against Eastern Ranges at RAMS Arena. Oakleigh has some fantastic ball winners – lead by the classy Gemma Lagioia – and some huge inclusions for the clash, with Katie Lynch – who missed the round two loss – returning, as is Isabella Gietzmann, the dual sports athlete who has returned from cricket season. The forward line for the Chargers looks more potent with captain Hannah McLaren down at full-forward, while Melanie Bertuna will play off a flank. A big omission is that of goal sneak Daisy Bateman, who was quiet last week after starring in round one. Jasmine D’Amato, Nicola Xenos and Emily Harley are other players who have impressed so far this season.

For Eastern, it is harder to find a line without a star than one with it. Georgia Macpherson, Charlotte Wilson and Lauren Szigeti provide plenty of rebound, Laura McClelland, Tahlia Merrett and Emerson Woods will be a damaging half-forward set-up, while the speed machines in Mikala Cann and Olivia Meagher will look to outrun the Chargers midfield. An interesting head-to-head will be that of rucks Sarah Kendall and Bridie Winbanks, with both smart players when it comes to positioning at stoppages.

Oakleigh Chargers

B: 26. A. Micallef, 45. T. Cowan, 17. N. Xenos
HB: 6. T. Johnson, 39. T. Nichols, 32. C. O’Malley
C: 2. M.  Hill, 50. C.  Nancarrow, 30. G.  Lagioia
HF: 29. M. Bertuna, 21. C. Moon, 52. L. Harris
F: 33. G. Byrne, 14. H. McLaren, 18. I. Gietzmann
R: 11. B. Winbanks, 16. A. Porter, 41. K. Lynch
Int: 3. J. D’Amato, 68. A. Dyer, 19. E. Harley, 15. A. Ling, 22. Z. Makris, 5. A. van Oosterwijck, 70. P. Fennell

Eastern Ranges

B: 18. A. Allsopp, 50. S. Zappia, 17. M. Kendall
HB: 37. G. Macpherson, 49. C. Wilson, 48. L. Szigeti
C: 16. E.  Horne, 39. O.  Meagher, 41. J.  Richardson
HF: 38. L. McClelland, 40. T. Merrett, 3. E. Woods
F: 26. T. Brown, 42. M. Taverna, 22. C. Chamberlain
R: 46. S. Kendall, 21. M. Cann, 10. N. Cormack
Int: 34. S. Bowden, 35. B. Cubitt, 6. G. De Angelis, 47. J. Provan

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Round 1

THE WAIT is over. For the first time since September, the top TAC Cup athletes will take to the field in a brand new season where each team is on level pegging and stars are ready to shine. From the opening night tomorrow night through to Sunday’s clashes in Geelong and Richmond, there is sure to be no shortage of action across the weekend.


Round 1 – Friday, March 23, 7pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

A great spectacle will take place on Friday night with the Calder Cannons meeting the Western Jets under lights at RAMS Arena. Cannons fans remember the heartache at the hands of Eastern Ranges last year, but Calder should be well placed to have a real crack at winning the game. The Jets on paper look quite exciting with Zak Butters and Emerson Jeka the two main men in the forward line, while the half-back line of Oskar Manton, Buku Khamis and Stefan Radovanovic catches the eye. Others to watch include Connor Thar, Xavier O’Halloran and Darcy Cassar.

For the Cannons, the midfield looks bulked up with AFL AIS Academy members Jack Bytel and Rhylee West joining the experienced Mitch Podhajski on-ball. Curtis Taylor will rove to Daniel Hanna up forward, while Essendon fans will be keen to watch Mason Fletcher at full-back. Beside him are names such as Jack Evans and Lachlan Sholl who will provide run out of the backline.

Western Jets

B: 28. J. Papachatzakis, 37. H. Murphy, 6. L. Rocci
HB: 22. O. Manton, 38. B. Khamis, 39. S. Radovanovic
C: 17. D.  Andrews , 33. X.  O’Halloran, 18. B.  Colley
HF: 20. D. Cassar, 11. Z. Butters, 7. J. Watkins
F: 45. A. Clarke, 31. E. Jeka, 10. S. Kyriazis
R: 47. D. Walters, 36. J. Rice, 12. C. Thar
Int: 24. J. Honey, 25. S. Johnson, 30. L. Pettigrove, 2. T. Rudic, 41. L. Rzanovski, 35. T. Warner

Calder Cannons

B: 43. L. Cavallaro, 26. M. Fletcher, 33. J. Evans
HB: 1. D. Mott, 36. P. Mahoney, 8. L. Sholl
C: 35. S.  Graham, 20. R.  West, 48. S.  Ramsay
HF: 27. T. Browning, 38. B. Newman, 19. B. Rigoni
F: 40. L. Johnson, 23. D. Hanna, 5. C. Taylor
R: 60. D. Pretty, 30. M. Podhajski, 16. J. Bytel
Int: 4. K. Baker, 42. N. Croft, 45. C. Kosmas, 54. C. Lamb, 3. I. Moussa , 12. J. O’Sullivan, 19. B. Rigoni



Round 1 – Saturday, March 24, 10.30am
Skybus Stadium, Frankston

In the first game of a TAC Cup double header at Frankston, minor premiers Oakleigh Chargers take on Eastern Ranges. The Chargers have plenty of talented bottom agers with Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell and Dylan Williams all named in the side, while 19 year-old Noah Answerth and the bulked-up Riley Collier-Dawkins will provide some serious grunt on the inside. Collingwood fans have two reasons to watch the Chargers on Saturday – Isaac Quaynor (member of the Pies’ Next Generation Academy) and Will Kelly (father-son prospect) are both lining up.

For Eastern, Ben Cardamone will line up in the back pocket, while the midfield consists of Kye Quirk, Adrian Kalcovski and Cody Hirst who will all be watched by fans and recruiters alike. A lot of the Eastern side are still young, but names that stand out include Joel Burleigh, Xavier Fry, Jack Ross and Riley Clausen.

Oakleigh Chargers

B: 3. J. Ayton-Delaney, 33. M. Warren, 16. L. Westwood
HB: 23. I. Quaynor, 30. B. Wraith, 22. D. Williams
C: 17. T.  Bianco, 1. R.  Collier-Dawkins, 11. M.  Rowell
HF: 32. J. Ross, 4. W. Kelly , 10. C. Whitehead
F: 38. Z. Hart, 7. J. Robertson, 25. D. Scala
R: 79. B. Griffiths, 8. N. Anderson, 12. N. Answerth
Int: 13. A. Bosenavulagi, 14. K. Dunkley, 35. X. Fry, 65. L. Harry, 34. C. Leon, 5. X. O’Neill, 9. J. Rowbottom, 18. B. Silvagni, 28. O. Simpson

Eastern Ranges

B: 20. B. Cardamone, 45. M. Zalac, 21. J. Ross
HB: 38. M. Briggs, 31. J. Blanck, 23. X. Fry
C: 8. J.  Burleigh, 24. K.  Quirk, 17. C.  Hirst
HF: 9. J. Duffy, 42. T. Lockman, 46. B. White
F: 32. F. Smith, 18. B. McCormack, 7. L. Stapleton
R: 41. J. Corless, 2. A. Kalcovski, 10. C. Black
Int: 1. B. Bredin, 6. M. Brown, 4. R. Clausen, 14. L. Gawel, 47. T. Hallett-Tauali’i, 27. J. Jaworski, 11. M. Mellis, 26. C. Norris, 58. R. Smith



Round 1 – Saturday, March 24, 1pm
Skybus Stadium, Frankston

The second game of the double header at Frankston sees the Northern Knights face off against last year’s grand finalists, Sandringham Dragons. Tom McKenzie and Braedyn Gillard provide a damaging one-two punch in the midfield, while Joel Naylor and Patrik Della Rocca are names to keep an eye on up front. In defence, 19 year-old Mark Baker and Kye Agosta will hold down the fort against a strong Dragons forward line.

For Sandringham, both Kings have been named up either end with Max lining up at full-forward despite having some niggling injuries over the pre-season, while brother Ben will stand at centre-half back. Bailey Smith will lead the on-ball brigade alongside 19 year-old Kai Owens, while the likes of James Rendell and Alistair Richards up either end will be ones to watch.

Northern Knights

B: 25. J. Davies, 21. M. Baker, 9. C. Simonsen
HB: 1. R. Gardner, 35. K. Agosta, 5. L. Potter
C: 30. J.  McInerney, 10. B.  Bell, 15. O.  White
HF: 8. A. Carafa, 12. J. Naylor, 6. X. Naish
F: 17. J. D’Intinosante, 40. N. Mayne, 20. P. Della Rocca
R: 16. T. Hallebone, 4. T. McKenzie, 3. B. Gillard
Int: 31. N. Barro, 24. R. Bowkett, 18. S. Brazier, 34. Z. Hudson, 27. J. Lucente, 43. J. Murphy, 2. L. Perry, 13. S. Philp, 44. C. Wild

Sandringham Dragons

B: 6. H. Houlahan, 69. C. Watts, 53. H. Ralphsmith
HB: 19. S. Forbes, 29. B. King, 2. A. Richards
C: 9. R.  Macdermid, 8. K.  Owens, 10. S.  Sofronidis
HF: 17. J. Denborough, 33. W. Kennedy, 18. A. Seaton
F: 27. J. Mahony, 31. M. King, 28. J. Rendell
R: 32. J. Griffiths, 5. B. Smith, 7. L. Stocker
Int: 36. M. Bergman, 72. D. Chirgwin, 59. A. Courtney, 12. C. Jones, 1. T. Long, 26. F. Maginness, 21. D. McNeish, 11. N. Stamatis, 48. J. Worrell



Round 1 – Saturday, March 24, 2pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Heading up north, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels open their account against Bendigo Pioneers at home. In the corresponding game last year, it was the Pioneers that got the win, but the Rebels will be keen to hand out some payback this time around. Top Rebels prospect Tom Berry will be fresh after missing half of last season through injury, while Scott Carlin will provide run out of defence. Jed Hill and Charlie Wilson will provide some speed at ground level, roving to Tylar Watts and Josh Chatfield. Bottom-ager Izaac Grant is one to watch, however one player missing from the line-up is Matty Lloyd.

For Bendigo, Jacob Atley and Bailey Henderson are a couple of great ball users coming out of defence, while Brodie Kemp is one to watch at centre-half back. Further up the field, Liam Marciano is playing off a flank, while Will Holt will rotate with Daine Grace coming off the bench in attack. Noah Wheeler showed some signs last season since crossing from the Rebels and will be keen to impress this time around. Unfortunately the Pioneers will be without exciting star forward Jye Caldwell for the opening round.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

B: 18. B. Helyar, 43. J. Wright, 34. J. O’Connell
HB: 3. S. Carlin, 8. H. Butler, 5. H. Jennings
C: 4. B.  Annett, 9. L.  Dawson, 19. J.  Henderson
HF: 14. J. Hill, 11. J. Chatfield, 7. M. Martin
F: 6. C. Wilson, 20. T. Watts, 15. K. Councillor
R: 29. P. Glanford, 13. T. Berry, 2. M. Schnerring
Int: 36. M. Bidmade, 12. A. Gove, 21. I. Grant, 10. J. Lohmann, 47. T. Mahony, 25. T. Shannon

Bendigo Pioneers

B: 16. J. Atley, 24. N. McHugh, 51. B. Waasdorp
HB: 18. B. Henderson, 8. B. Kemp, 9. Z. Keighran
C: 57. A.  Smith-Ralph, 2. J.  Williams, 47. J. Sala
HF: 17. R. Ironside, 52. K. Walker, 3. L. Marciano
F: 34. R. Clarke, 45. W. Holt, 35. Z. Denahy
R: 23. D. Keating, 5. N. Wheeler, 43. H. Lawrence
Int: 7. L. Chisholm, M. Goodwin, 10. D. Grace, 50. K. Lloyd, 49. O. Perez



Round 1 – Sunday, March 25, 2pm
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

In the game of the round, Geelong Falcons take on fellow premiership contender Dandenong Stingrays at the newly named GMHBA Stadium in Geelong. Connor Idun and Ethan Floyd are a couple of names to keep an eye on down back, while a midfield of Sam Walsh, Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless is arguably the best in the competition. Charlie Sprague and Blake Schlensog will continue to improve up forward, while Sam Conway attracted some interest as a ruck last year and will be keen to make his mark in what will be a huge challenge.

The Stingrays have an equally talented line-up, with Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman rotating between ruck and forward, while draft watchers will get a first glimpse at twin towers Stephen and Matthew Cumming. Will Hamill will give the Stingrays run off half-back, while Toby Bedford and Aaron Darling will crumb the tall forwards.

Geelong Falcons

B: 7. C. Harris, 52. S. Christensen, 25. L. Taylor
HB: 40. J. Clark, 39. C. Idun, 13. E. Floyd
C: 6. D.  Madigan, 22. S.  Walsh, 8. E.  McHenry
HF: 2. S. Torpy, 36. C. Sprague, 27. N. Young
F: 31. C. Cartledge, 48. B. Schlensog, 3. K. Rayner
R: 44. S. Conway, 30. O. Brownless, 20. B. Ham
Int: 38. S. Bourke, 1. J. Dahlhaus, 14. R. Hayden, 49. D. Hollenkamp, 10. B. Mensch, 4. C. Mulgrew, 21. L. Smith, 53. S. Stokes, 35. C. Tanis

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 32. D. Frampton, 56. M. Cumming, 2. H. Young
HB: 16. J. Frawley, 5. A. Paterson, 58. W. Hamill
C: 3. J.  Plumridge, 23. C.  Hustwaite, 7. J.  Taylor
HF: 17. F. Bayne, 29. B. Williams, 27. L. McDonnell
F: 15. T. Bedford, 28. B. Schmidt, 14. A. Darling
R: 13. R. Bowman, 18. M. Riordan, 47. J. Hickey
Int: 31. H. Briggs, 33. J. Carosella, 49. M. Cottrell, 36. S. Cumming, 9. Z. Foot, 42. J. Nanscawen, 57. R. Nanscawen



Round 1 – Sunday, March 25, 2.30pm
Swinburne Centre, Richmond

Murray Bushrangers’ experienced side will take on the youthful Gippsland Power team with plenty of draftable talent on show. Zane Barzen and Hudson Garoni  are two that will turn heads up forward, while the Murray spine which also includes Tom Boyd and Ben Kelly is imposing for any opposition. Mark Marriott will be a top ruck prospect this year after a good bottom-age season, rucking to the likes of Ely Smith and Laitham Vandermeer, the latter of whom has returned as a 19 year-old.

For Gippsland, new captain Xavier Duursma will team up with the likes of Austin Hodge and Caleb Serong in the midfield, while overager Matthew McGannon will use his pace off half-back. Irving Mosquito and Sam Flanders make an exciting duo inside the forward 50, while dual key position player Kyle Reid has been named in defence, and Ryan Henkel will start in the ruck.

Murray Bushrangers

B: 28. K. Clarke, 16. N. Murray, 22. A. Dang
HB: 12. L. Ash, 34. T. Boyd, 15. R. Quinn
C: 13. B.  Frauenfelder, 17. N.  Amery, 29. C.  Hill
HF: 7. Z. Barzen, 18. H. Garoni, 26. R. Bice
F: 6. W. Chandler, 3. B. Kelly, 10. P. Warner
R: 23. M. Marriott, 5. E. Smith, 4. L. Vandermeer
Int: 19. J. Boyer, 20. J. Bradshaw, 14. J. Chalcraft, 38. D. Clarke, 32. E. Dayman, 33. F. Ellis, 8. J. Koschitzke, 24. M. Oates, 25. B. St John

Gippsland Power

B: 12. B. Smith, 25. K. Reid, 15. R. Sparkes
HB: 8. B. Beck, 23. N. Gown, 18. M. McGannon
C: 29. B.  Motton, 11. A.  Hodge, 2. C.  Serong
HF: 9. I. Mosquito, 38. J. Wykes, 20. H. Neocleous
F: 4. S. Flanders, 16. J. Smith, 19. F. Phillips
R: 22. R. Henkel, 5. X. Duursma, 33. B. Thorson
Int: 6. R. Baldi, 26. W. Broadbent, 10. L. Connolly, 28. H. Hood, 14. T. Hourigan, 13. N. Lowden, 3. M. McGannon, 7. B. Patterson, 35. J. van der Pligt

TAC Cup preview: Dandenong Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays are one of the strongest sides coming into season 2018. Last year they had six players drafted, including three in the first round with Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne), Hunter Clark (St Kilda) and Aiden Bonar (GWS) all selected – two of which will play their first AFL games this weekend. Others that were drafted include draft bolter Tom De Koning (Carlton), Oscar Clavarino (St Kilda) and Tom Murphy (North Melbourne).

In terms of top-end talent, very few teams compare, especially considering they have four genuine key position players who took part in the AFL AIS Academy camp in Darwin. Twins Stephen and Matthew Cumming did not play a game last year but have impressed with a huge off-season, joining Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman as tall timber set to assist them across the ground. Bowman played 10 games in 2017, while Williams managed 18 to be a strong target up forward when Bowman was rucking.

But it is not just the key position players where Dandenong has depth, the likes of Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan lead a host of players that give the Stingrays plenty of optimism about the season ahead. Heading forward, the dangerous Jai Nanscawen (Averaged 1.7 goals per game in 2017) is always a threat and the classy midfielder in Will Hamill is likely to shine in his top-age year. Throw in the likes of Campbell Hustwaite (12 games) and Finlay Bayne (10 games) and the team has some serious depth. One player who did not get a chance to show his wares last season is Aaron Darling, whose season was derailed by a knee reconstruction. The elite kick missed the entire 2017 season and never got to follow-on from his bottom-age year given the AFL AIS Academy member was highly touted.

Others who became regulars last season in the Stingrays side were 19 year-olds Angus Patterson (20 games) and Lachlan Young (17), as well as Jamie Plumridge (16) and Jai Taylor (12). An excitement machine who just needs to find consistency is Toby Bedford, who with time could become a really valuable contributor. With a number of bottom-agers coming through the side, it is hard to find many weaknesses in the Stingrays line-up and you get the feeling they will be a great team to watch in 2018.

2017 Stats:

2017 Summary:

Dandenong Stingrays’ start to 2017 could best be described as a yo-yo. They broke even in the first 10 games, taking until round 10 to notch up consecutive wins. They continued their form with three more victories – against Western Jets, Calder Cannons and Northern Knights. They dropped a game to Gippsland Power, before storming home to win three of the last four games and reach the finals.

In the elimination final, the Stingrays looked down and out, but a superior performance from guns Luke Davies-Uniacke and Hunter Clark hauled them back from a mammoth deficit to run over the top of Eastern Ranges in a fantastic 13-point win. Unfortunately for the Stingrays, eventual premiers Geelong Falcons proved too good the following week, going down by 39 points at Simonds Stadium in the preliminary final.

2018 Snapshot:

Dandenong staff, players and families will get a great tour of the state in the opening month, travelling to five different venues in five rounds. The Stingrays kick-off their campaign at GMHBA Stadium this Sunday, followed by a clash in Morwell against the Gippsland Power in round two. The Country Triple Header occurs in round three which pits the Stingrays against the GWV Rebels, before a home game at Shepley Oval and a short trip down the Princes Highway to Warrawee Park.

Dandenong plays six games at Shepley Oval and two further matches at Skybus Stadium in Frankston. After their early three road trips, the Stingrays make just one trip to a country region – to face the Falcons at Mars Stadium on August 18.

2018 Fixture:

Dandenong Stingrays 2018

2018-03-25 14:00:33March 25, 2018 Geelong Falcons vs Dandenong Stingrays 14:00:332:00 pmSimonds StadiumPreview
2018-03-30 13:30:45March 30, 2018 Gippsland Power vs Dandenong Stingrays 13:30:451:30 pmMorwell Recreational ReservePreview
2018-04-07 12:30:15April 7, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs GWV Rebels 12:30:1512:30 pmQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview
2018-04-22 10:30:10April 22, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Western Jets 10:30:1010:30 amShepley OvalPreview
2018-04-28 13:45:51April 28, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Dandenong Stingrays 13:45:511:45 pmWarrawee ParkPreview
2018-05-12 14:00:16May 12, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Eastern Ranges 14:00:162:00 pmShepley OvalPreview
2018-05-19 15:00:43May 19, 2018 Murray Bushrangers vs Dandenong Stingrays 15:00:433:00 pmRams ArenaPreview
2018-06-03 10:45:15June 3, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Sandringham Dragons 10:45:1510:45 amShepley OvalPreview
2018-06-16 14:15:42June 16, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Oakleigh Chargers 14:15:422:15 pmShepley OvalPreview
2018-06-23 10:30:42June 23, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs GWV Rebels 10:30:4210:30 amFrankston OvalPreview
2018-07-07 14:00:11July 7, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Geelong Falcons 14:00:112:00 pmShepley OvalPreview
2018-07-21 13:00:15July 21, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Bendigo Pioneers 13:00:151:00 pmShepley OvalPreview
2018-07-29 11:30:53July 29, 2018 Calder Cannons vs Dandenong Stingrays 11:30:5311:30 amRams ArenaPreview
2018-08-04 14:00:40August 4, 2018 Northern Knights vs Dandenong Stingrays 14:00:402:00 pmPreston City OvalPreview
2018-08-18 12:30:13August 18, 2018 Geelong Falcons vs Dandenong Stingrays 12:30:1312:30 pmMARS StadiumPreview
2018-08-25 10:30:50August 25, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Sandringham Dragons 10:30:5010:30 amFrankston OvalPreview

TAC Cup preview: Oakleigh Chargers

OAKLEIGH Chargers will head into season 2018 optimistic about their chances this year. After a preliminary final exit at the hands of Sandringham Dragons last season, the Chargers could consider themselves unlucky not to go all the way. They earned the minor premiership and were the best side with Geelong throughout the home and away season, but became the walking wounded when two of their best players – Toby Wooller and Jack Higgins – missed a final each, with Wooller’s absence in that preliminary final, telling. Higgins was also on one leg in his return from injury, having a role to play up forward, but was clearly not at his dominant best.

Along with Wooller and Higgins, Ed Richards was also drafted into the AFL, selected by the Western Bulldogs and thus changing his family’s rich heritage of donning the black and white stripes. In 2018, the depth is spread out across the Oakleigh line-up with Isaac Quaynor, a member of Collingwood’s Next Generation Academy, leading the charge. The running defender is sure to be in the draft conversation, as might midfielders Xavier O’Neill and Charlie Whitehead.

The Chargers have a mosquito fleet of mid/forwards including Lachlan Bugeja, Sam Harte and Daniel Scala who all impacted last season with plenty of game time. Joseph Ayton-Delaney impressed down back last season averaging almost three marks, three tackles and more than two rebounds for the year. Riley Collier-Dawkins has reportedly grown to 194cm and is a genuine key position player size despite playing through the midfield.

Unsurprisingly, Oakleigh also has a raft of talented bottom-agers led by Matt Rowell and Dylan Williams, both of whom are tracking as potential top 10 picks in 2019. With more sure to rise up this season, the Chargers will be quietly confident that they can enjoy a few years of success in the development area, if not the on-field area as well.

2017 Stats:

2017 Summary:

After an opening round loss against Sandringham Dragons, Oakleigh Chargers had three straight wins over Eastern Ranges, Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers. It would be the start of a fantastic season, dropping just one game between round two and round 15 – in round five to the Geelong Falcons – as they went on a nine-game winning streak.

Their streak was eventually broken by a desperate Western Jets outfit clinging onto a finals hope later in the season, but the result hardly fazed the Chargers. They bounced back the next week with a low-scoring eight-point victory over Sandringham, before thumping Bendigo and Eastern to end the season. A whopping 70-point hiding of Northern came at a cost with captain Toby Wooller injured and Jack Higgins still sore from the previous week. It resulted in a narrow 10-point loss to Sandringham in the preliminary final and the minor premiers missed out on making the grand final.

2018 Snapshot:

Oakleigh Chargers open their season against Eastern Ranges on Saturday as part of a football triple header with two TAC Cup games and a VFL game at the venue. The Chargers then meet rivals Sandringham Dragons, before a date with the Northern Knights in round three. The Chargers’ first country road trip occurs in round four when they take on the Bendigo Pioneers, before back-to-back home games at Warrawee Park. The Chargers play four more games at their home ground, all consecutive matches between rounds 10-13.

The Chargers will be keen to be up near the top when the whips are cracking and I expect they are set for another top four finish. It should be a very competitive year in 2018, but the Chargers have some fantastic depth and it would be a surprise not to see them there at the business end of the season. If they do, they will hope to go all the way this time after having no shortage of success in the past decade.

2018 Fixture:

Oakleigh Chargers 2018

2018-03-24 11:00:49March 24, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Eastern Ranges61 - 11Frankston OvalRecap
2018-03-31 13:30:16March 31, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Oakleigh Chargers 13:30:161:30 pmAvalon Airport OvalPreview
2018-04-08 14:00:50April 8, 2018 Northern Knights vs Oakleigh Chargers 14:00:502:00 pmPreston City OvalPreview
2018-04-20 19:00:39April 20, 2018 Bendigo Pioneers vs Oakleigh Chargers 19:00:397:00 pmQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview
2018-04-28 13:45:51April 28, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Dandenong Stingrays 13:45:511:45 pmWarrawee ParkPreview
2018-05-20 10:45:35May 20, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Western Jets 10:45:3510:45 amWarrawee ParkPreview
2018-05-20 13:00:20May 20, 2018 GWV Rebels vs Oakleigh Chargers 13:00:201:00 pmMARS StadiumPreview
2018-06-09 13:00:59June 9, 2018 Murray Bushrangers vs Oakleigh Chargers 13:00:591:00 pmNorm Minns OvalPreview
2018-06-16 14:15:42June 16, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Oakleigh Chargers 14:15:422:15 pmShepley OvalPreview
2018-06-23 10:30:51June 23, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Sandringham Dragons 10:30:5110:30 amWarrawee ParkPreview
2018-07-07 10:45:02July 7, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Eastern Ranges 10:45:0210:45 amWarrawee ParkPreview
2018-07-07 10:45:18July 7, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Eastern Ranges 10:45:1810:45 amWarrawee ParkPreview
2018-08-04 14:00:41August 4, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Gippsland Power 14:00:412:00 pmWarrawee ParkPreview
2018-08-19 15:00:52August 19, 2018 Oakleigh Chargers vs Sandringham Dragons 15:00:523:00 pmAvalon Airport OvalPreview
2018-08-25 14:00:54August 25, 2018 GWV Rebels vs Oakleigh Chargers 14:00:542:00 pmMARS StadiumPreview

TAC Cup preview: Bendigo Pioneers

BENDIGO Pioneers are coming off another year of potential, but falling short during the season, taking out the 2017 wooden spoon. They had plenty of moments throughout the year that showed recruiters and fans that there was plenty of talent, which was highlighted on draft night with an equal club-record seven draftees selected – six in the AFL National Draft, and two in the top 10. While that did not equate to wins on the field, the Pioneers were rarely at full-strength given their star players had school and state commitments throughout the season.

Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien will now be able to show off their class for Carlton on the biggest stage, drafted along with Angus Schumacher. Jarrod Brander (West Coast), Kane Farrell (Port Adelaide) and Brent Daniels (GWS) were all drafted interstate, while Derek Smith Jnr was picked up by Richmond under the Next Generation Academy program.

In 2018, the Pioneers might not have the ridiculous top-end class they did last year, but there are still a number of highly rated prospects. At the top of most recruiters lists will be Jye Caldwell – a player who burst onto the scene at the National Under 16 Championships – and Jacob Atley, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his brother’s Shaun and Joe. In terms of depth, Daine Grace showed signs at times he could be an imposing tall with good agility, while Liam Marciano and Phill Moimoi are other players who stood out in their bottom-age years.

One overager we are excited to see back is Bailey Henderson who had a good mix of skill and poise, and was unlucky not to be drafted last year. He will be a real figurehead in the midfield and expect him to be working more on his inside game to add another string to his bow. Overall in 2018, the Pioneers will have just two players – Henderson and Atley – who played double figure games last season. Grace played seven games and Marciano six, the only four players with more than five games to their name.

2017 Stats:

2017 Summary:

There is no hiding the fact that the Bendigo Pioneers did not have a good season on paper last year, especially considering the high hopes that a squad with the talent the Pioneers had. In saying that, they did knock off grand finalists Sandringham Dragons in round six, as well as GWV Rebels (round two) and Western Jets (round eight). After holding a win-loss record of 3-5 after eight rounds, there was hope in the team making its first finals series in some time, but unfortunately for the Pioneers, they lost the last 10 games of the season to finish 3-15.

They did take it up to Calder Cannons, Northern Knights and Gippsland Power in the second half of the season however, so there were some positives to take out of it. While the results were not ideal, the number one goal of the competition is development and the Pioneers nailed it in 2017. They had seven drafted and a couple of those already look like making an impact at AFL level. It was a credit to the hard work the Pioneers staff put in, with many travelling long distances and spending many hours getting the players up and about for the weekend games.

2018 Snapshot:

Bendigo Pioneers are renowned travellers and they start their season on the road this Saturday at Mars Stadium against the GWV Rebels. They then travel to Shepparton in round two to face the Murray Bushrangers, before back-to-back games at Queen Elizabeth Oval against Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers. The Pioneers play just six games at Queen Elizabeth Oval in 2018, and none at Epsom Huntly Reserve, meaning road trips are inevitable. They will hope to get off to a good start this weekend and try and notch up more wins this season. In a fixture anomaly, the Pioneers face the Rebels three times in the season – twice in Ballarat and once in Bendigo.

2018 Fixture:

Bendigo Pioneers

2018-03-24 14:00:39March 24, 2018 GWV Rebels vs Bendigo Pioneers67 - 68MARS StadiumRecap
2018-03-30 15:00:32March 30, 2018 Murray Bushrangers vs Bendigo Pioneers 15:00:323:00 pmDeakin ReservePreview
2018-04-07 10:00:02April 7, 2018 Bendigo Pioneers vs Gippsland Power 10:00:0210:00 amQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview
2018-04-20 19:00:39April 20, 2018 Bendigo Pioneers vs Oakleigh Chargers 19:00:397:00 pmQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview
2018-04-29 14:30:01April 29, 2018 Northern Knights vs Bendigo Pioneers 14:30:012:30 pmPreston City OvalPreview
2018-05-12 16:30:07May 12, 2018 Calder Cannons vs Bendigo Pioneers 16:30:074:30 pmRams ArenaPreview
2018-05-20 14:00:37May 20, 2018 Eastern Ranges vs Bendigo Pioneers 14:00:372:00 pmBox Hill City OvalPreview
2018-06-02 14:15:52June 2, 2018 Western Jets vs Bendigo Pioneers 14:15:522:15 pmPreview
2018-06-17 13:00:02June 17, 2018 Bendigo Pioneers vs Murray Bushrangers 13:00:021:00 pmQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview
2018-06-23 13:30:43June 23, 2018 Gippsland Power vs Bendigo Pioneers 13:30:431:30 pmSwinburne CentrePreview
2018-07-08 13:00:10July 8, 2018 Bendigo Pioneers vs GWV Rebels 13:00:101:00 pmQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview
2018-07-21 13:00:15July 21, 2018 Dandenong Stingrays vs Bendigo Pioneers 13:00:151:00 pmShepley OvalPreview
2018-07-29 14:30:37July 29, 2018 Sandringham Dragons vs Bendigo Pioneers 14:30:372:30 pmTrevor Barker OvalPreview
2018-08-05 13:00:27August 5, 2018 Bendigo Pioneers vs Geelong Falcons 13:00:271:00 pmQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview
2018-08-18 15:00:44August 18, 2018 GWV Rebels vs Bendigo Pioneers 15:00:443:00 pmMARS StadiumPreview
2018-08-25 13:00:17August 25, 2018 Bendigo Pioneers vs Western Jets 13:00:171:00 pmQueen Elizabeth OvalPreview

Podcast: TAC Cup Girls – Episode 3

A NEW year marks all-new content and in 2018, AFL Draft Central will be producing a weekly podcast through the TAC Cup Girls season. Hosted by women’s football editor, Julia Montesano, the podcast will be posted each Wednesday night and will review the previous round’s games and look ahead to the following weekend. For the third episode, Julia is joined by AFL Draft Central chief editor Peter Williams to review the second round of TAC Cup action, as well as discuss some of the key issues raised over the weekend.

SoundCloud: TAC Cup Girls – Episode 3

Episode run down:

  • Key issues
  • Round 2 review
  • Quick look at Round 3

Keep an eye out each Wednesday for the next podcast, with Julia and Peter back next week for all things TAC Cup Girls.

NSW/ACT weekly wrap: Winter Series introduced

WINTER is coming and Women’s players in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Queensland will now be able to participate in a second-tier level of Australian Rules competition with the formation of a new series.

The AFLW Winter Series has been created in partnership with the AFL, AFL NSW/ACT, and AFL Queensland for AFLW players to participate in during the AFLW off-season. As it stood, players from the northern states and territories – Queensland, New South Wales and ACT – did not have a statewide competition and therefore had to return to local clubs, or head interstate to play at state level.

The AFLW Winter Series includes four matches, starting in May, and also serves as an opportunity for potential AFLW players in those northern states, to play alongside and against current AFLW stars. The GWS Giants, Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Lions have been granted entry into the competition, with each team granted a list of 30 players. For the Giants, they will field two teams known as the ‘Northern Giants’ and ‘Southern Giants’.

The Northern Giants will be comprised of players from AFL Sydney, AFL Central West Women’s, Black Diamond League, AFL North West NSW and AFL North Coast. The Southern Giants will be comprised of players based in the ACT, Riverina and Broken Hill regions, with their home base in the ACT.

AFL NSW/ACT Female Football Manager, Hannah Davis, told the AFL NSW/ACT website that the series is a great opportunity to grow, enhance and retain the AFL Women’s talent in the New South Wales and ACT region.

“It has been a key priority for us to be able to offer a complete pathway through to AFLW for females in New South Wales and the ACT,” Davis said. “We are thrilled to be able to announce this first step in establishing a second-tier competition for the north-eastern states, as we continue to work towards a more expansive competition in coming years.”

For more information on how to test for the teams, or express interest in coaching or support staff roles, head to the AFL NSW/ACT website.

Auskick launches

AFL NSW/ACT’s 2018  NAB AFL Auskick program launched with a bang last week as aspiring AFL and AFLW youngsters took to the field in a great social day. Birchgrove Park in Sydney provided the perfect backdrop for the launch, with Sydney Harbour in the background in sunny weather conditions. Both the GWS Giants and Sydney Swans visited the launch throughout the day, giving fans a chance to get up close and personal with some of their heroes. For pictures of the day, head to the AFL NSW/ACT Facebook page.

GWS Giants fall one week short of AFLW Grand Final

It was a case of so close, yet so far as the GWS Giants fell one win short of playing in the second AFLW Grand Final. The Giants bounced back from a wooden spoon last year and two consecutive losses to start the season, to shoot up to third on the table heading into the final round. A win against Brisbane would have seen the Giants sneak in to an unlikely grand final, but it was not to be. Nonetheless last year’s cellar dwellers can be more than proud of their efforts after a sensational season in the AFLW under coach Alan McConnell and the rest of the Giants coaching staff.

Team of the Week: TAC Cup Girls – Round 2

TWO rounds in and players are starting to stand out, while clubs are assessing and reassessing their season to date. The competitive nature of the competition made making the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week very difficult. Each week, AFL Draft Central will attempt to compile the best 22 players from the week of footy in the TAC Cup Girls competition, which is sure to become harder as the weeks go on with all the standout talent in the competition this year.

Of the 22 players who made the team, nine made it two in a row after winning a place in the round one side a fortnight ago. Big wins to Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons saw those clubs have a week-high three representatives each, while Northern Knights and Gippsland Power had two representatives. The six losing clubs had the one representative in the Round 2 Team of the Week.

Eastern Ranges’ Georgia Macpherson and Sarah Kendall made the side for the second consecutive week, this time joined by teammate Tarni Brown, who impressed on the weekend up forward. Sandringham Dragons had three brand new representatives with defenders Sarah Hartwig and Eleanor Brown, and midfielder Eliza McNamara making the team.

Geelong Falcons also had three new representatives to the team, with three smaller players representing them in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week, following the three talls slotting in there in round one. Olivia Purcell, Samantha Atkins and Nina Morrison all made the side after impressive performances, while GWV Rebels’ defender Nyakoat Dojiok made the team following her efforts against the Falcons.

For Murray Bushrangers, Rebecca Webster made the team for the second consecutive week, this time joined by Claudia McKimmie and Eloise Ashley-Cooper, the latter of whom was one of the unlucky omissions from the round one team. Gippsland Power’s Tyla Hanks made the team again, joined by teammate Emily Haeusler after her efforts in defence against the Western Jets. Northern Knights’ Abigail Bennett and Nell Morris-Dalton also line-up next to each other in our Team of the Week.

Western Jets’ defender Isabella Pritchard, Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder Kodi Jacques, Oakleigh Chargers’ Gemma Lagioia and Calder Cannons’ Maddison Prespakis made the team for the second consecutive week with strong performances in their respective club losses. Tall forward Samantha Ryan was the other new addition to the team, named as the best player for the Dandenong Stingrays in their loss to Eastern Ranges.

Naturally you cannot have a Team of the Week without some unlucky omissions and there was no shortage of unlucky players in round two. Eastern Ranges’ Laura McClelland, Sandringham Dragons’ Winnie Laing, Dandenong Stingrays’ Jordyn Allen, Western Jets’ Elizabeth Georgiostathis, Northern Knights’ Maddy Bracantisano and Geelong Falcons’ pair Sachi DeGiacomi and Lucy McEvoy were all among those that were on the fringe but we could not quite squeeze in, such was the impressive games over the weekend.

Team constructed by Peter Williams, Julia Montesano and Damien Berry: