Category: TAC Cup

Dragons dominate revamped state-based AFL Academy

SIXTY-two of the most promising young stars in the TAC Cup will have the chance to undertake high performance coaching and training camps thanks to the revamped AFL Academy program. Previously, the program was limited in number to include players from across the country. Now the AFL Academy will focus on state-based academies instead, to widen the talent pool and provide access to more players across the TAC Cup competition.

Thirty players from both Vic Country and Vic Metro, as well as an additional two from New South Wales – Charlie Byrne and Will Chandler tied to the Murray Bushrangers in the competition – have made the squads, that were published on the TAC Cup website today.

Sandringham Dragons have a whopping 11 players making the 62-player academy – including Country-based Darcey Chirgwin – three ahead of Gippsland Power, who have one more than Oakleigh Chargers. Bendigo Pioneers have six players included in the academy,  while Geelong Falcons, Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights have five players each. Reigning premiers, Dandenong Stingrays have four, as do the Western Jets, while the Calder Cannons and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have three – including Rebels’ forward, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan who is boarding at Scotch College.  Eastern Ranges have the one player in Jamieson Rossiter.

According to the TAC Cup website, Vic Country will come together for its first camp from December 9-14 under its new academy coach Leigh Brown (former Gippsland Power head coach), while Vic Metro will first meet for a November 19-December 3 camp under its new coach Brett Allison (former AFL Victoria Talent Pathways Manager – Metro).

VIC COUNTRY

NAMEDOBHTWTTAC CUP REGIONLOCAL CLUBSCHOOL
AaronGundry17-Feb-0119978Bendigo PioneersSouth BendigoCatholic College Bendigo
BrodieKemp01-May-0119376Bendigo PioneersEchucaGeelong Grammar School
JamesSchischka24-Feb-0119079Bendigo PioneersStrathfieldsayeBendigo Senior SC
FlynnPerez25-Aug-0118371Bendigo PioneersSandhurstCatholic College Bendigo
ThomsonDow16-Oct-0118271Bendigo PioneersSwan HillGeelong Grammar School
SamConforti15-Mar-0217165Bendigo PioneersSandhurstCatholic College Bendigo
SamDe Koning26-Feb-0119678Dandenong StingraysMornington Junior FCPadua College
BigoaNyuon18-May-0119584Dandenong StingraysRowville Junior FCRowville SC
HaydenYoung11-Apr-0118679Dandenong StingraysSomerville Junior FCMornington SC
NedCahill11-Jan-0117777Dandenong StingraysMt Eliza Senior FCPadua College
HenryWalsh27-Jun-0219977Geelong FalconsSt Joseph’sSt Joseph’s College
CooperStephens17-Jan-0118770Geelong FalconsColacTrinity College
JesseClark23-Feb-0118776Geelong FalconsSt Joseph’sSt Joseph’s College
NoahGadsby12-Mar-0218070Geelong FalconsTorquayGeelong Grammar School
TannerBruhn27-May-0218071Geelong FalconsNewtown & ChilwellGeelong Grammar School
DarceyChirgwin25-Jul-0119078Geelong/SandringhamSt Mary’s FCMelbourne Grammar
ZachReid02-Mar-0219668Gippsland PowerLeongathaWonthaggi SC
MarcusToussaint14-Jun-0119984Gippsland PowerInverloch-KongwakWonthaggi SC
BrockSmith13-Mar-0118878Gippsland PowerMoeLowanna SC
FraserPhillips15-May-0118466Gippsland PowerWarragulSt Paul’s Anglican Grammar
SamFlanders24-Jul-0118381Gippsland PowerMoeLowanna SC
LeoConnolly07-Aug-0118070Gippsland PowerMoeLowanna SC
CalebSerong09-Feb-0117982Gippsland PowerWarragulGeelong Grammar School
RileyBaldi20-Feb-0117875Gippsland PowerMoeLowanna SC
NickStevens23-Mar-0219076GWV RebelsEast PointGeelong Grammar School
IsaacWareham24-Dec-0118576GWV RebelsTerang-MortlakeSt Patrick’s College
JamarraUgle-Hagan04-Apr-0219380GWV/OakleighSouth WarrnamboolScotch College
EthanBaxter31-Jan-0219277Murray BushrangersShepparton NotreNotre Dame College
ElijahHollands25-Apr-0218771Murray BushrangersWodonga BulldogsCaulfield Grammar
LachlanAsh21-Jun-0118677Murray BushrangersShepparton BearsNotre Dame College

 

VIC METRO

NAMEDOBHTWTTAC CUP REGIONLOCAL CLUBSCHOOL
CampbellEdwardes07-Oct-0219377Calder CannonsKeilorPEGS
BrodieNewman14-Jan-0119188Calder CannonsAberfeldieSt Bernard’s Grammar
DanielMott01-May-0118273Calder CannonsBrunswickMaribyrnong SC
JamiesonRossiter17-Nov-0119077Eastern RangesRowville FCRowville Sports Academy
BenMajor11-Oct-0219287Northern KnightsDiamond Creek JFCParade College
RyanSturgess16-Nov-0118778Northern KnightsSt Mary’s JFCLoyola College
RyanGardner22-Mar-0118472Northern KnightsMontmorency JFCMontmorency SC
LachlanPotter26-Jan-0118470Northern KnightsSouth Morang JFCMill Park SC
AdamCarafa22-Feb-0118176Northern KnightsBanyule JFCMarcellin College
SamuelTucker07-Jan-0219684Oakleigh ChargersKew RoversSt Kevin’s College
NoahAnderson17-Feb-0118886Oakleigh ChargersBooroondara Hawks FCCarey Grammar
DylanWilliams01-Jul-0118579Oakleigh ChargersWhitefriars Old BoysWhitefriars Grammar
WillPhillips22-May-0218176Oakleigh ChargersBeverley HillsCaulfield Grammar
FinlayMacrae13-Mar-0218164Oakleigh ChargersKew RoversXavier College
TrentBianco20-Jan-0117870Oakleigh ChargersDoncasterMarcellin College
MatthewRowell01-Jul-0117874Oakleigh ChargersBooroondara HawksCarey Grammar
JackBell26-Jan-0120073Sandringham DragonsOld Haileybury FCHaileybury College
AndrewCourtney06-Jun-0119981Sandringham DragonsBeaumaris FCSt Bede’s College
FischerMcAsey08-Mar-0119586Sandringham DragonsEast Brighton FCCaulfield Grammar
JoshuaWorrell11-Apr-0119574Sandringham DragonsBentleigh FCHaileybury College
CharlieDean19-Jun-0119486Sandringham DragonsCollegians FCWesley College
HugoRalphsmith09-Nov-0118670Sandringham DragonsEast Brighton FCHaileybury College
MilesBergman18-Oct-0118675Sandringham DragonsHampton Rovers FCSt Bede’s College
RomanAnastasios09-Jun-0218570Sandringham DragonsCaulfield GrammarCaulfield Grammar
JackMahony12-Nov-0117670Sandringham DragonsSt Kevin’s FCSt Kevin’s College
JakeBowey12-Sep-0217560Sandringham DragonsCheltenham SCCheltenham SC
EmersonJeka18-Sep-0119787Western JetsAltonaMaribyrnong SC
EddieFord21-Jun-0218473Western JetsYarraville-SeddonMaribyrnong SC
JoshHoney17-Oct-0118479Western JetsKeilorMaribyrnong SC
DarcyCassar31-Jul-0118375Western JetsKeilorEssendon Keilor College

 

ALLIES

NAMETAC CUP REGIONLOCAL CLUB
CharlieByrneMurray BushrangersAlbury
WillChandlerMurray BushrangersCorowa-Rutherglen

Consistent Radovanovic always looks to lead the way

IT IS commonplace that the more ever-present and reliable players of a squad are the ones to take a back seat to the superstars, but that is not the case for Stefan Radovanovic at the Western Jets. In a team that boasts the likes of draft fancies Xavier O’Halloran, Zak Butters, Buku Khamis and Daly Andrews, the Keilor product went about his business in an admirable way this season, looking to prove his durability and leadership capabilities.

Off the back of a bottom-age year good for the Western Jets best and fairest award, Radovanovic came into the season looking to build on the foundation he had laid through steady development and simple goals. The plaudits he had already earned and that steady improvement was enough for Radovanovic to earn a call up to the Vic Metro squad, playing a key role in defence alongside Jets teammate Khamis, and behind their TAC Cup skipper, O’Halloran.

Football has been a constant in Radovanovic’s life, a passion which spawned at a time of great change for his family. When his parents divorced when he was just three years-old, it was Radovanovic’s football mad step-dad who introduced him to the game and helped to set him on the right path.

“My mum found my step-dad and he was heavily into football in his family so he got me into football, I started kicking with him, went to the park and kicked with him,” he said. “Then I got enrolled in Auskick at Keilor and went all through my junior levels with Keilor,” he said.

A club with a proud history and strong contingent of young stars to burst onto the AFL scene of late, Keilor proved a happy hunting ground for Radovanovic’s junior progression.

Seemingly surrounded by similar stories and success, Radovanovic also attends Maribyrnong College with fellow Jets top-agers Butters and Khamis, as well as bottom age starlets Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka. The balance between school, footy and social life is often central to the journey of a TAC Cup hopeful and is something that Radovanovic knows well, but is made easier by having those around him who are going through similar experiences.

“Obviously you’ve got school five times a week and that takes up a big chunk out of your life, then you’ve also got training,” Radovanovic said. “We train Tuesday and Thursday after school and on Thursdays we have dinner so that takes out your whole night basically, and then you’ve got the off-field commitments like gym so it does take a big chunk but it’s just about finding that balance with your social life as well.”

Despite these personal hurdles to contend with from week to week, Radovanovic maintained a selfless outlook towards his football and on-field leadership responsibilities, looking to provide a benchmark for his teammates.

“I just want to play a good, consistent brand of football, and also for the bottom agers I want to show them what needs to be done to play at this high level,” he said. “The leadership group is also working hard to try and bring the team as a collective together to play well as a team. So I just want to play consistent football and then also bring other teammates into it.”

Leadership is something that Radovanovic sees as one of his strengths, with the hard-running rebounding defender always looking to expand his horizons.

“(My) personal strengths are my one-on-one contests, and I believe that I’m very strong around the ball – I’m hard to get knocked off,” he said.

Having proved his worth in defence, Radovanovic has looked to utilise his contested ball nous by spending more time in the middle of the ground throughout the year, with a midfield role “definitely” something he is interested in adding to his game.

“We’re working on going to different positions to show that I’m more durable and can play different positions… it’s definitely a different look in the midfield but I’m enjoying it,” Radovanovic said.

And with expansion comes highlighting room for improvement, with Radovanovic well aware of the areas he needed to work on in order to reach his ultimate goal.

“I definitely want to improve my fitness, I think that’s a big flaw in my game,” he said. “Then also my leadership, I want to keep working on that and then also my kicking at full speed.”

And the Jet is not taking his spot in the Western Jests Under 18 program for granted, saying it was a privilege to be a part of in helping him to learn, and recognising the dedication required to make the step-up from local football.

“It’s definitely a privilege because there are definitely a lot of kids who would like to be here. It’s only cut down to about 40 and yet there’s like 80 that show up at try-outs so it’s definitely an honour and does take a lot of hard work to get here and you have to actually be dedicated with everything to do with it,” Radovanovic said. “You definitely have to prepare well for each training session and also for games, games are very high intensity. And fighting for spots is also a big thing as well so you have to do the best that you can to push yourself to play consistently.”

With the Jets navigating their way through this year’s Wildcard Round, only to be knocked out comprehensively by eventual grand finalists Oakleigh, it has no doubt been a season of ups and downs for Radovanovic and the Western side. But with over 25 TAC Cup games under his belt over two years, experience on the biggest Under-18 stage with Vic Metro, and one last chance to prove his worth to keen eyes at the Victorian State Combine, Radovanovic will surely view his year as a successful one – regardless of how it may end.

Final five minutes was like “running on a treadmill” but worth it for Stingrays’ success

ONE could not feel his legs and the other felt like the final five minutes was a blur, but both Dandenong Stingrays co-captains, Campbell Hustwaite and Mitch Riordan could not hide their excitement and relief to finish the TAC Cup season as premiership players. The Stingrays “did it the hard way” but held on against a fast-finishing Oakleigh Chargers outfit to cap off a terrific 2018 season and take home the long-awaited premiership.

Hustwaite said it was a battle, but they were “ecstatic” that they had finally won the Stingrays’ first flag.

“Excitement,” he said of the feeling. “We didn’t do it the easy way, we made it hard on ourselves but from the start it was all about creating our own story and I think we did that, we just did it the hard way. “We’re ecstatic now, I just can’t believe it. “First premiership for Dandenong Stingrays; emotions are flowing but I just can’t believe it.”

The inside midfielder said he could barely move in the final few minutes such was the intensity of the contest.

“I felt like I was running on a treadmill most of the time, I couldn’t feel my legs,” Hustwaite said. “The last five minutes I just couldn’t get on the ground, I was trying really hard and I was knackered and the boys were able to do it just, but we got the job done so I’m pretty happy.”

Riordan said he was equally feeling it, knowing that final efforts in the dying moments could make or break history.

“It was a bloody blur,” he said. “The ball (was) bobbling around and we were just trying to stop the bleeding a little bit. “Just trying to just grind it out like we’ve been doing all year, but that’s when it goes back to training we’ve been putting ourselves under that pressure for ages so just fall back to those structures, and that hard work just came to the forefront, so I’m really proud of everyone’s efforts.”

Riordan has had his own personal setbacks this year through injury, missing the majority of the championships after injuring himself in the first game. He said the determination to fight back from injury was worth for this feeling.

“Bloody oath (it’s worth it),” he said. “I knew the team had something in us all year and with the hamstring and you just know you want to get back here because the boys are really special and we knew we had something special here this year and we could create our history. “So that’s why I kept showing up to training early just for days like this. “This time with all the boys, ‘Wheels’ (Mark Wheeler) and ‘Blacky’ (Craig Black).”

Riordan said the excitement in the rooms was unlike anything he had experienced before.

“It’s going off but you can understand, it’s been like a lid off the bottle for bloody 27 years,” he said. “It’s like Blacky said, we’ve had blokes from bloody 19 whatever to even last year. “The whole culture from the club has come together and it’s just a family together. We know that we had everyone in the stands behind us so that’s why we dug deep. I’m really excited and really happy for all the boys that they got to showcase their talent today.”

He said the likes of former Stingrays turned AFL players, Justin Leppitsch and Adam Treloar being around the boys on the day and their support through the public media had helped give the players confidence in the decider.

“Bloody oath, this isn’t just one year, this has been going on for 27, however long the Stingrays has been around,” Riordan said. Even ‘Leppa’ (Leppitsch) in the paper all the boys read that, we just know everyone behind us like Treloar last night saying (on television) he’d be down here. “It means a lot to everyone and we’re a family so the culture and everything, you just want to win for everyone, everyone who has been on the list.”

Hustwaite agreed that the players felt the wave of support from the Stingrays family, past and present.

“Yeah the culture’s awesome,” he said. “It’s not just one or two years of it being built up it’s been built up from the start and I think it’s very special to have all those past players to come in and share it. “We were tight with the blokes last year and unfortunately we were unable to get it but today it’s just emotions flowing throughout the whole room. “You can just see it on their faces, you put a smile on their faces and that’s what means the most to us players.”

Scouting notes: 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final

WE witnessed one of the all-time great Grand Finals on the weekend, with Dandenong Stingrays holding on by a goal against the Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park.

Dandenong Stingrays:

By: Peter Bonadio and Peter Williams

#1 Sam Fletcher

Ball magnet during the grand final always finds a way to get the footy in his hands. Pretty good by foot in his sides win, having a massive 11 disposals in the opening term, and 18 by half-time. Won more than half of his touches on the inside, and just worked hard all day long. Finished the day with a sore shoulder and blood down his face and jumper – his second jumper of the day, having to change from the number one, to the number 61 in the second half.

#2 Hayden Young

Solid defender who reads the play well when the ball comes into defence. Great vision to sense where his teammates are and has the ability by foot to get the footy to them. Has distance by foot to switch play effectively as well. Used the ball very well and won the majority of the ball in close, can play inside or outside and will be a top pick next year. All class.

#3 Jamie Plumridge

Good hands to get the ball out of congestion and find open teammates on the outside. He showed good composure and did well when under pressure. Plumridge finished the game with 17 touches four marks, three inside 50s and three tackles.

#7 Jai Taylor

A quieter game for Taylor, but he did try and break the game open at times. Has that electrifying speed when he gets going though and had a couple of eye-catching moments. Finished with the 10 disposals and two inside 50s.

#9 Zac Foot

Two goals in a grand final, Foot has a great goal sense. He was very lively when up forward and applies a lot of pressure on his opponents. Not only was he good overhead in contests, but something good always seems to happen when he is involved in the passage of play. His best finals game with 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and the two majors.

#13 Riley Bowman

One of, if not his best game for the season. Bowman was terrific across four quarters and made the most of his height advantage over the smaller Oakleigh ruckmen. He was dominant at the stoppages and got first hands to it on most occasions, but also did the defensive things right, laying tackles, and putting pressure on the ball carrier. He kicked the opening goal of the game and got the crowd up and about early. He did occasionally rush a few kicks to go for distance rather than accuracy, but overall it was a strong game, and he made his presence felt with some good contested marks.

#15 Toby Bedford

He set the tone early with a great tackle inside 50 and just seemed to find space around the ground winning the ball. At times he danced around opponents and tried to set up plays, and while he was not as effective as his past two finals, still had a few eye-catching moments. He kicked an important goal in the second term to keep Dandenong’s momentum high, he just did not have the four quarter consistency on the day, picking up nine of his 10 touches in the middle two quarters.

#16 Jake Frawley

If there is one image that will stick with Dandenong Stingrays fans from the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final, it is Frawley charging off the interchange bench to crunch Will Phillips in a bone-crunching tackle that exemplified Dandenong’s intent on the day. Unfortunately he had a mis-kick with the free he won, and his kicking was a bit hit and miss at times, but his defensive pressure and hands in close was good.

#18 Mitch Riordan

He has built some really solid form since returning from injury, and did a few nice things when the heat was on in the game. Early on he took a good intercept mark at half-back, and just used the ball really cleanly both on the inside and out. He does not win a heap of it, but he gets involved around the stoppages and provided good support along with his other midfielders.

#27 Lachlan McDonnell

The stats sheet does not do McDonnell justice for the game he played. While he was quiet early, his long kick off half-back set up a scoring chain to lead to Bailey Williams’ first goal early in the second term. With the game on the line, McDonnell’s second and third terms were very good, creating run and carry, trying to drive the ball forward. His kicking was a treat to watch, and it was his running goal from 50m in the final term that sealed the game – or so everyone thought at the time. Really strong out of defence and would have high metres gained.

#29 Bailey Williams

Had a quiet first term and was beaten on-on-one by Will Kelly, but then started to get going after that. His one kick in the first term set up a goal with a good, deep inside 50. Williams had a chance in the second term and it looked a bit of a mongrel off the boot but it floated through for his first to get the team up and about. He kicked another important goal in the third term, and missed another chance, when Oakleigh were coming at them. He did not have a massive contribution compared to some weeks, but he did kick two goals at important stages.

#58 Will Hamill

Played a really important role in the back half. He took a crucial intercept mark in the dying minutes when he read the play perfectly, floated in front of an Oakleigh forward, snatched the ball from them and kept running to kick it out of the danger zone. His decision to come off his opponent and chop off the inboard kick could have saved a goal, and potentially the match. He won a number of crucial one-on-ones throughout the match, and even coach, Craig Black praised him post-match for his consistency back there under siege. He just has that touch of class, and is a kick-first type player.

#59 Sam Sturt

The draft bolter looked lively early, and actually beat Isaac Quaynor a couple of times on the lead, forcing Oakleigh to switch Quaynor with Charlie Beasley. Sturt not only provided a presence on the lead, but his effectiveness when kicking inside 50 was a treat. He set up a goal for Zac Foot in the first term when he handballed off the deck to the waiting Foot. In the second half he hit the scoreboard, booting two goals, while finding plenty of the football for a leading forward, taking six marks and firing the ball inside 50 on five occasions.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

By: Craig Byrnes

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

The tall midfielder was enjoyable to watch, producing an influential first half in particular that garnered 13 disposals. He was strong and clean in congestion, often getting his arms high to release or accelerating with eye catching flair into the forward half. He kicked a great goal in the first term, turning into the arc to finish brilliantly from 45 metres out. He is good overhead too, which is a pretty handy trait for a mid at 193cm, taking two strong marks from opposition kicks. He even spent some time in the ruck late, winning a couple of hit outs to advantage to the surprise of many. The first round prospect fought hard all day for his 19 disposals.

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

The exciting half back won his fair share of the ball, rebounding from the defensive arc with flair and vigour as we have become accustomed to. While he is encouraged to take the game on, he uncharacteristically got caught with the ball on occasions. He lost his feet and fumbled at crucial times in dangerous positions, but a lot of that can be applauded to Dandenong’s brilliant defensive pressure. He still had a good offensive outing though, giving his team drive and carry with the occasional evasive trick during the Charger’s final term comeback to end with 18 disposals.

#4 Will Kelly

Started the game in defence as one of Oakleigh’s KPDs, manning the dangerous and athletic Bailey Williams and began in fine fashion. He killed a couple of difficult entrances to the favour of Williams in the first term and consistently read the flight of the ball well. He won plenty of leather in the first half too with 13 disposals, but this is where he sometimes let himself down. Despite possessing a technically correct and attractive kicking action for his size, he often over hit his kicks which led to turnovers, including one that directly became a Dandenong goal. Spent more time up the ground in the second half, including stints in the ruck where he won eight hit outs. He finished with 19 disposals and is a great looking prospect for Collingwood as a father-son selection.

#5 Xavier O’Neill

The smart midfielder had his moments throughout the afternoon, spending time at the stoppages and finding the ball on the offensive side of the contests. He generally used the ball well, but had times when he could have made better decisions going forward. He did create some fast links though, including a long handball through the corridor in the third quarter and a brilliantly won ground clearance in the final term when Oakleigh were fighting back into contention. He finished with 17 disposals and five tackles in what was a solid outing for the Chargers.

#9 James Rowbottom

The usually prolific midfielder was in and around the ball, but struggled to have his usual influence at the stoppages. While he often finds a way to make time slow down in congestion, that relaxed manner saw him holding the ball for too long against the Stingray’s ferocious pressure in the first term and he was chased down. His intensity lifted after that, as he started accumulating ball and taking the first option to create faster link ups for his side. He released some really creative handballs during the final term in particular, nearly all of which ended as Oakleigh scores. Certainly did not disgrace himself, winning 18 disposals in a consistent performance.

#11 Matt Rowell

If you did not know much about the Charger’s bottom-aged star, you should be all over him now as he again proved to be a high priority selection for clubs at the 2019 Draft by being a rare best on ground recipient in a losing team. He is an elite decision maker with ball in hand, a player that creates comfort for his teammates and coaches. While his 31 possessions provided many excellent moments, his clear highlight was a brilliant kick to Dylan Williams inside 50 under extreme pressure. He took the game on in the corridor to get his side back in the game and while that led to some uncharacteristic errors, he was hugely influential in getting Oakleigh close. This kid is a genuine star and a worthy medallist.

#12 Noah Answerth

I really enjoyed the game of the Charger’s skipper, a competitor that was never going to let Dandenong have anything easy in any circumstance. He started at the first centre bounce and often went back to help his defence by sitting in the hole or directing traffic. He produced a big moment in the second term, chasing down the dangerous Toby Bedford deep in defence who looked like snapping a simple goal. He was effective at the stoppages too, using his body to advantage, spinning out of trouble and quickly releasing at one point in the second quarter. He was not far off Rowell and Collier-Dawkins as Oakleigh’s best, collecting 26 disposals, four clearances and six rebound 50s.

#13 Atu Bosenavualagi

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect is giving clubs plenty to think about. He is one of the big improvers in the competition and his AFL attributes are becoming more obvious by the week. He set the early pressure intensity for Oakleigh, making himself known without the ball and being physical towards his opponents. Although it is his attacking play that has really come on in recent weeks. A subtle side step out of traffic to create a goal for Williams gave Oakleigh an early lead late in the first term, while he took a clever mark from behind his opponent later in the first half. In the third term he burned off an opponent to give his side a genuine spark by kicking a bounce and carry goal. He is lively and if he wins 17 disposals like he did on Saturday, he will more than likely have an impact.

#22 Dylan Williams

Another bottom-aged star that had a relevant influence on the close result. Williams continued his outstanding purple patch of goal kicking form to finish with four goals from full-forward. While he only had nine disposals in an underrated one on one battle with Daniel Frampton, he created problems for the Dandenong defender whenever the ball entered his zone. Three of his goals came from left foot snaps or “J-curve” set shots, a skill he already appears to have mastered. His best came from a freakish, almost half-volley pick up from which he swung onto his left again with absolute class. He also smartly went around the corner to set up a goal for Robertson in the opening term and took an excellent contested mark against three opponents in the goal square for his first goal. This latest haul means he has kicked a total of 14 goals for the finals series, a very early indication that this kid has the tools to be a big game player at the top level.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Probably one of the higher rated players that Oakleigh would have liked to get more out of. Quaynor started the game on Dandenong’s dangerous hybrid forward Sam Sturt, who exposed the Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect on the lead early. It led to Quaynor being moved off him before the end of the first quarter and he immediately looked more comfortable as the extra defender. With ball in hand he was calm and made good decisions behind the ball, before being moved to the midfield later in the game. He did not get a great opportunity to settle, but we already know what he offers and the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid come November.

#31 Will Golds

The predominantly outside midfielder or wingman consistently found himself with ball in hand, winning it 25 times in a very productive outing. He is a player who loves to be on the move when in possession, whether it is darting through traffic or running to space to create a link up option. He is smart and releases it quickly, often with the next play up the field in mind. He gets in good positions and knows where to find a handball receive, while his kicking was creative despite a missed short pass in the middle that became a turnover during the third term. He did present Collier-Dawkins with a lovely long weighted pass inside 50 in the first quarter that helped earn his teammate a free kick and regularly hit up targets on the run.

#32 Jack Ross

The thick set inside midfielder has been generating a bit of interest in recent times and again produced some good moments in the Grand Final. He impressed when he went back with the flight and then laid an aggressive tackle, gathered the loose ball cleanly and quickly released to start the chain for an important Dylan Williams goal in the first term. He also won an excellent ground ball in the third term that set up Atu’s memorable running goal, again at a vital period to keep Oakleigh within reach. He then got on the end of one to kick a goal that got his side within two goals in the final term. He is a good player and most importantly rose when his team needed it most in an underrated outing to finish with 19 disposals.

#64 James Jordan

The draft bolter of Oakleigh’s midfield started the game on fire, winning 10 first quarter possessions to be one of the best players on the ground early in the contest. He won two extremely clean ground balls during that period, releasing both to the advantage of his teammates. He was having a genuine influence, but certainly quietened as the match went on. He earned a free kick in the final term after putting his head over the ball, but was rarely sighted otherwise after the first break. He ended the game with a respectable 17 disposals and it will be interesting to see where clubs rate him, as there is certainly some talent.

 

Non-Combine invitees who stood out:

#23 Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong) – 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds and four clearances – huge contributor in the midfield by the co-captain.

#41 Lachlan Stenning (Dandenong) – 21 disposals, two marks, four clearances, four inside 50s, six rebounds – clean out of defence and stood out throughout with some important rebounds.

#10 Charlie Whitehead (Oakleigh) – 17 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s – put pressure in that forward 50 as he always does and could hold his head high.

Stingrays set out to make own history: Black

IT might have been the proverbial “monkey off the back”, but the focus from the Dandenong Stingrays’ playing group for Saturday’s TAC Cup Grand Final was purely centred around the present, rather than the past.

Stingrays coach Craig Black said everyone knew of the club’s grand final heartache – five grand finals all ending in defeat – but after a speech from Western Bulldogs defender Matthew Boyd at training during the week, the mindset was about making history.

“Matthew Boyd came in on Tuesday night and he said you respect the history, but you’re there to create your own, like the Bulldogs did (in their 2016 flag),” Black said. “The players there now, some of them weren’t even born in the 1997 Grand Final I played in. “I’m just rapt to get some reward, there’s been so many great people at our club. “Like you look at the talent managers, you had Steve Kennedy, then you had Darren Flanigan and now you’ve got Wheels’ (Mark Wheeler) who have put in so much work, then the coaches like Rob Dean eight years, Graeme Yeats 10 years and then I’m lucky enough to come in for five. So there’s been a lot of people who have done a lot of work around the club, so hopefully we can all enjoy the monkey off the back.”

Black said the emotions after the game were overwhelming with so many past players in the rooms and around the ground including Collingwood’s Adam Treloar – who is preparing for his own AFL Grand Final – GWS GIANTS’ Aiden Bonar, St Kilda’s Hunter Clark and Carlton’s Tom De Koning to name a few. The Stingrays coach said the feeling amongst the playing group was unbelievable.

“(It’s) amazing actually,” Black said. “It’s probably a mixture (of) we just wanted to get there, when the siren went it was more relief, and then the emotions you know when you see how excited the players are, you know it’s a kick the difference and it’s the end result is completely different. “Like you win by a goal or you lose by a goal, the emotions are completely different. “We’re happy today.”

Black admitted the last term was nerve-wracking with Oakleigh charging home and drawing within a goal in the final minutes.

“(I was) really, really nervous,” Black said. “That stoppage in the forward line I was like ‘don’t let the ball get over the back and we’re right’, ball gets over the back and I’m like ‘oh no’ and just our effort like Will Hamill and that just in the back half that just went ‘you know what, we’re not going to let them get this’ and I’m thinking extra time here, I’m thinking don’t concede a point, but extra time.”

The coach said the players were aware of the procedure if scores were level at the end of regular time and had been reminded on the day.

“Yeah we mentioned it during the week, and at three quarter time I just said to them, remember if it gets to 25 minutes, then it’s next score wins,” Black said.

Luckily for Black and the Stingrays, Dandenong needed just the regular hour to get the job done in what was a thrilling TAC Cup Grand Final, and one of the ages. Black described the win as a team effort.

“I thought our captain was awesome, Campbell Hustwaite,” Black said. “I just love the look of Sam Fletcher at the end of the game, like his shoulder was banged up, he had five stitches in the eye, blood all over his jumper. “That’s what footy means when you get that. “Our backs, like Will Hamill; Bailey Williams his effort to compete, Sam Sturt started the game really well. “Like anything you’ve just got to have contributors and I thought we had that today, and we were running up and down the ground when they were coming, we were looking tired, but we found a way.”

Stung into action, Dandenong delivers first flag

AFTER five heartbreaking TAC Cup Grand Final losses, the Dandenong Stingrays have delivered the long-awaited first flag to the club amidst a huge supporter base which featured past players, families and friends. The Stingrays achieved the dream through a six-point win over Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park in what was a fitting decider between the two top sides of the competition this year.

The Stingrays looked home on multiple occasions, leading by as much as 30 points midway through the third term when draft bolter, Sam Sturt nailed an important goal. Even in the fourth term, Sturt popped up for the easiest of goals from the goalsquare to push it to 29 points, the same margin when Lachlan McDonnell kicked a terrific goal on the run in the ninth minute of the final stanza after Noah Anderson had duly replied for the Chargers.

Even by the fourteenth minute, the Chargers needed five goals in nine minutes. Headlines were beginning to be prepared and stories were getting completed, but little did most know that there was still to be a twist in the game. Enter the Oakleigh charge, as Anderson backed up his effort from earlier with a second goal, Jake Gasper put his name on the scoresheet with an important set shot, and Jack Ross created something out of nothing. All of a sudden the Chargers had raced from nowhere near it, to a genuine chance to steal their fifth flag.

There was a sense around the ground that the momentum had changed and with two goals required in four minutes, and Oakleigh having most of the play, there would have been some nervous moments on the Stingrays bench. When bottom-ager Dylan Williams snapped a goal with 90 seconds left on the clock, the fear of a loss, or at least extra time would have crept into the minds of some of the Stingrays supporters who had seen the five grand final losses over the past two and a half decades.

The ball was locked inside Oakleigh’s forward line with repeat stoppages making everyone around the ground unsure of what might happen next. As the ball spilled into space out the back, everyone descended on it, but luckily for the minor premiers, the siren sounded on what was a magnificent victory. For the Chargers, they had fought right until the final siren, throwing players around to both mix up the game, and show off their versatility to recruiters.

The game had started on Oakleigh’s terms early, booting three goals to two in the opening term to lead by seven points at the first break. Both teams were up for the fight, and the second quarter proved to be the gamebreaker with Dandenong piling on four goals to zero and the Chargers were left to rue their misses, booting four behinds with some gettable chances. Despite Oakleigh’s best efforts after the main break, Dandenong still hit hard in the third term, booting four gaols to three to open up a 23-point lead, before the amazing final term which resulted in the Stingrays taking home the flag.

Talented bottom-age prospect, Matthew Rowell took out the best on ground award despite being on the losing side, racking up a terrific 32 disposals, 11 marks, seven inside 50s, four rebounds, two clearances and three tackles. It was a tough pill to swallow for the gallant Chargers, as captain Noah Answerth (27 disposals, two marks, four tackles, four clearances and six rebounds) and Will Golds (26 disposals, six marks, two tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) were also prominent in the midfield, with Answerth providing support in the back half.

When sole, undersized ruck Bailey Wraith had to come off, the Chargers were left to split ruck duties between the likes of Jay Robertson, Will Kelly and even Riley Collier-Dawkins – who humorously won a hitout against Bailey Williams. Up forward, Dylan Williams booted four goals from five kicks (nine touches all up), and Kelly was strong one-on-one in defence on Williams earlier in the match.

But the Stingrays had more contributors across the board, with a real team effort getting them home. Sam Fletcher started massively, and by the end of the game had one shoulder hanging off and blood streaming from his face – symbolic of Dandenong’s dedication to the contest. Fletcher finished the match with 27 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, ahead of defender Lachlan Stenning who amassed 21 touches, two marks, two tackles four clearances, four inside 50s and six rebounds in his best game for the season.

Others who lead the way for Dandenong included co-captain Campbell Hustwaite, laying a massive 10 tackles to go with his 19 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, while Sturt and Zac Foot (both two goals from 15 disposals) provided plenty of headaches for the opposition in attack. Will Hamill played a really underrated game in defence, standing up in the final minutes with a number of crucial intercepts on his way to 15 touches and three marks, while Riley Bowman played his best game of the year in the ruck, having 22 hitouts to go with 13 disposals, six marks, three tackles, five inside 50s, three clearances, three rebounds and a goal.

DANDENONG 2.1 | 6.2 | 10.7 | 12.8 (80)
OAKLEIGH 3.2 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 11.8 (74)

GOALS:

Dandenong: Zac Foot 2, Bailey Williams 2, Sam Sturt 2,Lachlan McDonnell 2, Riley Bowman, Toby Bedford, Ned Cahill, Finlay Bayne.
Oakleigh: Dylan Williams 4, Noah Anderson 2, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jay Robertson, Atu Bosenavulagi, Jack Ross, Jake Gasper.

ADC BEST:

Dandenong: Campbell Hustwaite, Lachlan Stenning, Riley Bowman, Sam Sturt, Will Hamill, Sam Fletcher.
Oakleigh: Matt Rowell, Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Dylan Williams, Will Kelly

Clarke comes full circle with grand final feat

AS the first former player to coach the club, Oakleigh Chargers coach Leigh Clarke can go one better on Saturday and become the first former player to coach his side to a TAC Cup premiership.

Clarke has endured a longer journey than most to come full circle at the helm of the Chargers, with a Peninsula league playing career, experience as both a strength and conditioning and line coach at the club, and as forward line coach with Richmond’s reserves.

Taking over from dual premiership coach Mick Stinear was never going to be an easy feat, but the talent of the Oakleigh squad speaks for itself, and Clarke revealed his troops all but coach themselves in driving a culture of success.

“Our boys have a really strong connection amongst each other so you can see in the previous couple of weeks they’ve shown that they’re really keen just to turn up,” Clarke said. “We don’t ask them to be perfect, but we certainly ask them to turn up and fix each other’s mistakes which are going to come often in a game of footy. “So yeah they really drive the culture and that connection that we keep getting back to… and they’re a very easy group to coach.”

Oakleigh has been in irresistible form over the last three weeks, with an average winning margin of 101 points seeing them poised better than almost any side in recent memory coming into an Under 18 decider. Clarke is well aware of their recent credentials, but considering the opposition, is keeping a lid on it.

“We’re feeling quietly confident, I think on the back of our wins we just keep playing our way whether it’s five points or 95 points,” he said. “We’ve been really proud of the boys, they’ve been able to continue to play for four quarters of footy throughout the last two weeks and they haven’t dropped off, which is what we’ve challenged them on is to be able to play four times 25 minutes and we’ll need to do that again this week.”

Dandenong have been the benchmark team all year though, and despite being the only side to overcome the ‘Rays this season, Clarke is still wary and respectful of his side’s opposition having also suffered a loss at their hands.

“I’m sure (Craig Black) isn’t planning to lose and we’re not planning to lose either,” he said. “They’ve had a great year consistently and to finish on top is a real credit to ‘Blacky’ and the program they run out there. “Ours has probably ebbed and flowed a little bit, charting through the year but coming into form in the last month… I’m sure both regions just hope it’s injury-free, that everything goes to course and it’s a good sign of 23 talented kids verses 23 talented kids.”

The strength of the Stingrays has undoubtedly been their aerial dominance, with an array of highly talented ruck and forwards, as well as big bodied medium players who can intercept well off half back. Despite being focussed on his own side’s progression and top four aspirations, Clarke inevitably had an eye on Dandenong’s heroics and key threats.

“You’re well aware throughout the year of each other’s wins, losses and who’s playing well, so in terms of what we focus on, we’re more focussed on what we’re doing but yeah you’re right there are some key players that we’ll have to match for height or find a better way of doing it,” Clarke said. “They’ll present with that height… we believe we’ve got the match-ups to go with them, which ultimately just gives you a chance to see the best talent and the best defenders play on the best forwards.”

But with all of the opposition’s talent comes Oakleigh’s undeniable ability, too, with a number of players showing notable improvement throughout the year around the outstanding seasons from each of their recognised stars. Clarke noted the how Collingwood father-son Will Kelly has come on leaps and bounds, while the likes of Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospects Bailey Wraith and Isaac Quaynor have continued to learn, grow, and drive standards.

All of the above have been led by over-ager Noah Answerth, who holds a special connection to TAC Cup grand finals. Having had his top age year marred by a freak back injury, the rebounding half-back has returned to the level hoped of him and has the opportunity to follow in his brother Kade’s footsteps in lifting the trophy aloft.

He is keen to match it against the best and gain reward for effort. “They’re a pretty good team all-round, they wouldn’t be in the Grand Final if they weren’t,” Answerth said. “So, we haven’t really looked at match-ups yet but we have one on ones all around the ground, we’ll find out at the end of the day.”

While favouritism has changed hands throughout the week and depending on who you ask, it is certain that this is as enthralling a grand final match up as we’ve seen in recent memory.

On Saturday, the season’s best will be crowned, with Clarke hoping his Chargers can continue to storm home and continue Dandenong’s grand final wobbles.

Comprehensive 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final Preview

IT is the equivalent of Christmas Day for the TAC Cup competition, with the two best teams for the year facing off in a decider. We have the clear benchmark all season, in the Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the red-hot Oakleigh Chargers, who have been in sensational form since all their school kids returned to the team. We take a look at the big game from multiple angles in our Ultimate Preview of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

 

2018 SEASON REVIEW

1. Dandenong Stingrays – 15 wins, 1 loss, 211%, 60 points
3. Oakleigh Chargers – 10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 151%, 42 points

HEAD TO HEAD

R5: Oakleigh Chargers 11.6 (72) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 9.12 (66) at Warrawee Park
R9: Dandenong Stingrays 13.17 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 6.4 (40) at Shepley Oval

CHANGES SINCE ROUND 5 THRILLER*

*Including extended benches

Dandenong:
IN: Sam Fletcher, Hayden Young, Toby Bedford, Finlay Bayne, Mitch Riordan, Daniel Frampton, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan, Matthew Cumming, Sam Sturt
OUT: Jake Carosella, James Hickey, Jarrod Smith, William Geurts, Sam De Koning, Bailey Angwin

Oakleigh:
IN: Will Kelly, Noah Anderson, James Rowbottom, Matthew Rowell, Kyle Dunkley, Lucas Westwood, Trent Bianco, Bailey Wraith, Will Golds, Jack Ross, Matt Warren, James Jordan
OUT: Sam Harte, Lachlan Bugeja, Xavier Fry, Matthew Fewings, Ben Silvagni, Kyle Viccars, Josh May, Daniel Scala, Lachlan Harry, Sam Elliot

 

WHO HAS COMBINE INVITES?

National:

Dandenong Stingrays [6]: Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams
Oakleigh Chargers [7]: Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Will Kelly, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, James Rowbottom

State/Rookie Me:

Dandenong Stingrays [10]: Stephen Cumming, Sam Fletcher, Jake Frawley, Matthew Gahan, Lachlan McDonnell, Jamie Plumridge, Mitch Riordan, Bailey Schmidt, Jai Taylor, Lachlan Young
Oakleigh Chargers [6]: Joe Ayton Delaney, Atu Bosenavulagi, Kyle Dunkley, Jake Gasper, James Jordon, Jack Ross

Note: Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh) and Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong) have combine invitations but are unavailable due to injury.

PLAYERS

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

#1 Sam FLETCHER

Just keeps winning the football every week and puts in a consistent effort. He will join Hustwaite on the inside and look to fire out a number of handballs to teammates in space, and will often look to win that one-on-one duel when given the chance. Does not get to the outside as much as other midfielders, but does all the damage at the coal face, expect him to be prominent in there again.

#2 Hayden YOUNG

The potential number one pick next year looked sore throughout the preliminary final last week and got moved from the back pocket to the extended interchange, so it appeared to be a waiting game on whether he would play. Unbelievable talent with and a hardness at the ball, can play anywhere on the field, but he has been used off half-back with that smooth running and deadly foot skills a highlight.

#3 Jamie PLUMRIDGE

Tipped by TAC Cup Radio’s Matthew Cocks for the Best on Ground, Plumridge has been a consistent performer this year. Plumridge is an outside midfielder who often wins it on the wing and pumps it inside 50 to the tall targets.

#7 Jai TAYLOR

An electrifying speedster, Taylor is one of the fastest players in the competition, and with Toby Bedford, has the capability of breaking the lines and causing disruption amongst the opposition zone. While he does not always do it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and take the game on.

#9 Zac FOOT

Burst onto the scene early in the season to make Vic Country after never having made a previous Stingrays’ squad. He played throughout the National Under 18 Championships, and while he did not star, he still had some impressive moments. Adds a different element to the team because he can win it inside or out, play back, forward or through the midfield and has a high impact per possession when he is on.

#10 Lachlan YOUNG

A defender who loves to rebound and use the ball well, he does not find a lot of it – averaging just 12.5 disposals per game. But almost 25 per cent of his possessions are rebounds, with Young ensuring the ball can clear the defensive zone.

#11 Ned CAHILL

Named as the 23rd player, Cahill showed in last week’s preliminary final just how damaging he could be booting two goals and passed off another couple. Still a bottom-age player, Cahill has emerged as a genuine goal sneak at 177cm. Has to be respected because he just gets to the right positions.

#12 Matthew GAHAN

Has enjoyed a really solid season off half-back earning himself a State Combine invitation. Gahan is a strong ball user and a player who his teammates like getting the ball into the hands of. With Oakleigh’s strong forward line, Gahan will need to be used both offensively and defensively in order to still create drive while restricting one of the many dangerous Chargers’ defenders.

#13 Riley BOWMAN

Is suited to the number one ruck role, but can play forward which is where he is expected to play. Often the Stingrays rotate Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Bailey Williams through the ruck such is their luxury. Bowman’s pure ruckwork is arguably the best of the lot, because he gets his hands to most throw-ins or ball-ups and can palm down to his midfielders. Big men seem to be out of fashion lately, so a big game would be huge to determine where he slots in.

#15 Toby BEDFORD

One of the most in-form Stingrays of late, Bedford has a great mix of offensive and defensive skills, providing line-breaking ability as well as tackling pressure in the forward half. He can kick multiple goals in a game, and pinch-hit in the midfield to break up the game. He offers a different element to the Dandenong midfield, and the Melbourne Next Generation Academy player is one who Demons fans will enjoy watching over the years, with the assumption they match the bid that comes in.

#16 Jake FRAWLEY

A strong midfielder who can play out of full-forward such is his strength one-on-one or in the air. Booted six goals against against Bendigo Pioneers at Shepley Oval playing almost exclusively as a forward. He adds some depth to the midfield and his versatility is important when the big day rolls around.

#17 Finlay BAYNE

Another dangerous small forward who can play through the midfield. Due to the depth in the Stingrays onball brigade, Bayne has found a nice spot in the forward 50 and is good for a couple of goals a game. He is a good mover with good goal sense.

#18 Mitch RIORDAN

Highly rated at the start of the season, Riordan had injury concerns and missed the bulk of the National Under 18 Championships, and has only recently returned in the past month. He can use the ball well, and while he does not win much of it, he can often be found coming out of a stoppage and kicking forward. Athletically he is very good, testing well in the 20m sprint, agility test and yo-yo test, so it is just getting game time into him.

#23 Campbell HUSTWAITE

The Stingrays captain is another player who has been in fine form the past couple of months and seems made for the big stage. He has lead from the front in the TAC Cup finals series and does everything expected of him. Against a strong Oakleigh midfield, his desire and competitiveness will be called upon to match it with the likes of Jack Ross and James Rowbottom. Hustwaite could be a best on ground chance given you know exactly what you will get from him each week.

#27 Lachlan MCDONNELL

Played at half-forward for the start of the season and has progressed onto the wing. Of all the Dandenong midfielders, McDonnell is one of the Stingrays’ most damaging kicks in transition. He is predominantly outside compared to the others, but he finds space and pumps it long inside 50.

#28 Bailey SCHMIDT

The big man has been unlucky not to play more games because he is a damaging presence up forward with great athleticism. He has just landed at a club in a year with ridiculous amounts of talent in the ruck/forward position. Still earned a State Combine invite, and while he has been named on the extended bench, is still one who has been able to show his wares throughout the 2018 season.

#29 Bailey WILLIAMS

The big key forward/ruck looms as the player Oakleigh must stop if the Chargers are to win their fifth TAC Cup premiership. Williams is an athletic monster forward who has a massive vertical leap and can cause plenty of headaches for any opposition defender. His goal kicking has been an issue for two thirds of the season, so he will need to be on target in the game. Expect him to have a bearing on the game, and if he can get an early major and build confidence – watch out.

#32 Daniel FRAMPTON

Has held down centre half-back at times despite standing at just 188cm. Can intercept the ball and averages 3.5 marks per game. The smaller Oakleigh forward line will suit Frampton as it means he does not have to battle against a 200cm monster.

#36 Stephen CUMMING

Starting in the ruck and even though he came off a little sore early last week, Cumming still played out the game and looks set to start in the centre square tomorrow. The big man will rotate with Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams in the ruck and no doubt try and wear down the undersized Bailey Wraith.

#41 Lachlan STENNING

The defender is likely to take a defensive approach on a forward whether it be Dylan Williams, Jake Gasper or Atu Bosenavulagi and try and limit their influence on the game. He is a low-possession player but one who can play above his height of 178cm.

#45 Luca GOONAN

Still a bottom-ager, Goonan was added to the side for the Grand Final on an extended bench. It is hard to push out the strong top-age presence, but he has had some impressive signs this season. He is readymade at 83kg already, and one to keep an eye on for next year.

#49 Matthew COTTRELL

A genuine honest midfielder who you know what you are going to get. Suited to the inside, but has played outside, he just attacks the ball and tries to clear it forward. Has had some impressive games this season and will likely need to beat his opponent this weekend against a strong Chargers’ midfield.

#52 Corey ELLISON

At 191cm and 88kg, Ellison is that medium size who can play tall or small up forward, and actually averages 2.7 goals per game from seven matches. Has been in and out of the team at times because of the strength up forward, if given the chance he knows how to hit the scoreboard.

#56 Matthew CUMMING

Cumming has played predominantly key position defence this season and just tried to beat his opponent one-on-one. Like his brother, he moves well for a 198cm player, but not sure what match-up he has in this match. With Oakleigh adopting a smaller forward line, he will likely play on a player close to 10cm smaller than him, so he must prepare for that.

#57 Reid NANSCAWEN

Named as the sole emergency for the side, he looks to be the one to come in if injury strikes. He has played a bit of everywhere, and held up the midfield during the National Under 18 Championships when Dandenong had absences galore. Is the type that can come in and play his role and will no doubt be waiting in the wings if the opportunity arises.

#58 Will HAMILL

An underrated player in the Stingrays defensive half. Hamill can play through the midfield, but his class and composure off half-back has been a standout of his game. He glides around the field, and while he is not a huge accumulator, he can hurt opposition with nice delivery forward. Will be held accountable with one of many dangerous Chargers small forwards who just find the goals on a regular basis.

#59 Sam STURT

The late developer has burst onto the scene of late after some impressive performances for Peninsula Grammar. He was boosted from a State Combine invitation to a National Combine invitation, and has already showed why he is in hot demand since playing for the Stingrays. He has electric skills, great smarts and knows where the goals are – so damaging.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

#1 Riley COLLIER-DAWKINS

A potential first round prospect, Collier-Dawkins has that blistering first few steps that can burn off an opponent out of a stoppage. He has been trialled up forward, but he is his most dominant on the inside, as he showed last week in the preliminary final. If he can use his strength, acceleration and penetrating kick to effect, then the Chargers will have plenty of hurt factor roaming through the midfield in transition.

#3 Joe AYTON-DELANEY

The running defender was unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invitation after some impressive performances early in the season. He is one that will be in high demand with a good Grand Final and just finds the ball. Uses it well coming out of the backline and has shiny red boots that stand out. A player Oakleigh looks to get the ball in the hands of, along with Isaac Quaynor, in the backline.

#4 Will KELLY

He will have his work cut out for him, regardless if he takes Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. He often enjoys running off an opponent and providing rebound, but he will need to be tight with the athletic talls. He can also go forward and provide a target if Oakleigh wants to throw a spanner in the works midway through the game. A Collingwood father-son prospect who will be watched closely by any Collingwood contingent that make the trip to Ikon Park.

#5 Xavier O’NEILL

Did not make the final Vic Metro squad, but showed enough throughout the 2018 TAC Cup season to suggest to recruiters he was in their top 50, earning a National Draft Combine invitation. He just does his job each week and is a really solid contributor. He covers the ground well and wins the ball in all thirds of the ground.

#6 Matthew DAY

The former basketballer was unlucky not be thrown a lifeline late last year, and has continued on as a really solid forward prospect as an overager for the Chargers this season. Keeps kicking goals and is strong overhead. A good size for development and one that the Stingrays cannot afford to let off the chain.

#7 Jay ROBERTSON

Did not make the cut at Eastern Ranges hailing from South Belgrave, came across and has been a valuable contributor up forward for Oakleigh. He is a medium tall who just keeps hitting the scoreboard and can fly under the radar with so much talent up that end.

#8 Noah ANDERSON

Another potential number one pick, Anderson is that prototype size for a midfielder, who due to the amazing depth of the Oakleigh midfield, has had the ability to almost play exclusively up forward. He pumps the ball long, can win it inside or out, and knows how to hit the scoreboard – as he did for Vic Metro against Western Australia.

#9 James ROWBOTTOM

The most pure of the inside midfielders, he gives his team a four quarter effort and wins a truckload of the ball on the inside. He is a clearance machine and just finds the ball anywhere on the ground. Dandenong are known for their hardness at the contest, and Rowbottom will be a key contributor for Oakleigh in trying to nullify some of the opposition midfielders.

#10 Charlie WHITEHEAD

A fierce small forward who loves to pressure opponents and just gets to the right positions. He has the capability of kicking multiple goals if given space and has a great goal sense. A pure small forward in every sense, he can push up the ground if the Chargers isolate another forward.

#11 Matthew ROWELL

Another Vic Metro representative in his bottom-age year, Rowell leads by example on the field. He has an uncompromising attack on the ball and is crucial around stoppages, but has had the luxury of playing on the outside, predominantly off a wing. He can play forward and kick goals, as he has the past two finals – kicking the first goal in both games.

#12 Noah ANSWERTH

The over-age captain does not do a lot wrong and can play anywhere on the field. His brother, Kade was best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final during Oakleigh Chargers’ last premiership over Eastern Ranges, and Answerth will be keen to put in an equally impressive performance. He made the Vic Metro squad and performed strongly and will leave no stone unturned in getting the most out of himself.

#13 Atu BOSENAVULAGI

Has bolted up into draft consideration after a quieter start to the season. His second half of the TAC Cup competition has been superb, and he is starting to regularly hit the scoreboard, while still applying the defensive pressure he was known for. Has made opposition clubs consider a National Draft bid, with Collingwood able to match if they like him.

#14 Kyle DUNKLEY

Has been on the fringe of getting into the team after spending time with Sydney Swans’ Reserves. With Oakleigh winning its past three games by an average of 101 points, it is a hard team to break into, but the forward will be ready if he gets his chance.

#16 Lucas WESTWOOD

A really reliable defender. With most of the other Oakleigh defenders being offensive players, Westwood adds that defensive hardness and ability to shut down a key opposition forward. He could well be given any number of smalls from the Stingrays who can kick multiple majors.

#17 Trent BIANCO

A skilful player who provides plenty of run and carry off half-back and through the midfield. Expect him to play more on-ball next season, but he has high-end talent and adds to what is a very strong bottom-age core at the Chargers.

#22 Dylan WILLIAMS

The bottom-age small forward is in ripping form, and just keeps kicking goals week-in, week-out. He shared them last week after six snags against Western Jets in the elimination final. He does very little wrong, and after spending time in defence early in the season, Williams’ strength overhead and great goal sense has him as a key player inside 50 for the Chargers. One Dandenong defender will have their work cut out for them.

#23 Isaac QUAYNOR

The running defender takes the game on and has some eye-catching moments. He might have to use his one-on-one ability more than he has had to in the past weeks, because Dandenong’s forward line will make sure he is made accountable. If he can get out and break the lines, using his speed and skill to create run-and-carry, then it will go a long way to Oakleigh winning the match. A Collingwood Next Generation Academy member to watch.

#26 Jake GASPER

The TAC Cup Leading Goalkicker and taking into account post-season goals he is the standalone leader, Gasper has been the most consistent forward in the competition. He has booted goals in every game he has played and his set shot routine is perfect. The Dandenong defence will focus on not letting him get too much air time because he is so smart in that forward 50.

#30 Bailey WRAITH

You have to applaud Wraith, who started as a key defender, but has stood up as an undersized ruck. He is measured at 191cm (though many believe he might be a few centimetres taller), and he has matched up against much taller opponents in the ruck. He will have to play his best game of the season against the Dandenong brigade however, with practically three 200cm rucks with big vertical leaps awaiting him.

#31 Will GOLDS

The most pure outside midfielder for the Chargers, Golds will be the one spreading to the outside and carrying the ball forward when given time and space. He could well match up against Lachlan McDonnell and the pair goes their separate ways, or they run alongside each other. Likes to set up plays forward of centre and has had a really solid finals series.

#32 Jack ROSS

The underrated midfielder from the Chargers has been building consistency very nicely over the past month since returning from school football. He loves the appetite of the contest, but can also spread to the outside and provide long kicks forward. He knows how to find a goal from a stoppage inside 50, and is one of many Oakleigh midfielders who looms as a key player on the weekend and one the Stingrays will put work into.

#33 Matt WARREN

Started the year as a key defender and can play up either end. Had the tough job of manning Max King in the top five pick’s only TAC Cup game and King booted eight goals in that game. At 189cm he has had to play on much taller opponents at times, but continues to battle above his height and weight range. A versatile option if a tall drops out of the Grand Final after being added to the interchange bench.

#36 Charlie BEASLEY

Rated really highly internally, Beasley will have to play taller than his 192cm against Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. The coach, Leigh Clarke backs him in and he rarely lets him down. Regardless of opponent, Beasley is the type of defender who will stick to the task for four quarters.

#38 Zac HART

Oakleigh’s forward line is harder to break into than Fort Knox, so for the potential Adelaide father-son it has not been easy to find a spot. Hart has been added to the side on the extended interchange bench, and he is a smart forward with good goal sense, but with Oakleigh’s firepower on show the last month, it will probably take an injury for Hart to squeeze in.

#44 Will PHILLIPS

The Under 16s Vic Metro representative has managed to retain his place in the Oakleigh line-up despite it being as strong as it is, playing as the 23rd player. Great skills, good spread and does not seem phased against the bigger bodies, Phillips looks a player for the 2020 National Draft.

#64 James JORDON

Played a couple of games earlier in the season and returned after school football, Jordon has provided good run and carry on the outside. Like Golds, Jordon predominantly is used as a ball carrier with slick skills to take the game on and delivery well inside 50.

 

FATHER/SON AND ACADEMY PROSPECTS

Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays) – Melbourne Next Generation Academy

Atu Bosenavulagi, Isaac Quaynor, Bailey Wraith (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood Next Generation Academy

Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood father/son

Kyle Dunkley* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Sydney father/son

Zac Hart* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Adelaide father/son

*Extended interchange

 

STATISTICS

Dandenong defence vs. Oakleigh attack

The key in this third of the ground, is whether or not Dandenong’s slick foot skills out of defence and springboard rebound can be used against the massive forward pressure of the Chargers. Atu Bosenavulagi (4.5 tackles), Jake Gasper (4.1) and Charlie Whitehead (3.2) provide the tackling heat, while Dylan Williams (62.8 per cent kicking efficiency), Jay Robertson (60.4 per cent) and Noah Anderson (56.6 per cent) provide the skills going inside 50. Gasper has been the dominant goal kicker this season, sharing the overall competition tally and post-finals has the most goals of any player in the league.

For Dandenong, they have some very nice ball users in the back half, lead by Will Hamill and Lachlan Stenning, while five of their six defenders average more than two marks a game. Lachlan Young (3.1 rebounds), Matthew Gahan (2.9) and Daniel Frampton (2.3) are that wall at half-back, while Matthew Cumming is the athletic key position defender who can share ruck duties. The big question mark will be match-ups as Oakleigh have a small forward line, while Cumming will no doubt be matched up on a smaller player.

Dandenong midfield vs. Oakleigh midfield

Two highly talented midfields will go head-to-head with so many crucial head-to-heads. Dandenong generally loves a contested brand of football, whereas Oakleigh love using their outside foot skills to advantage. In saying that, both sides can still play the other’s game. Stingrays captain, Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will provide the inside support, whereas Matthew Cottrell can play inside or out. Lachlan McDonnell is the most outside because he has the best skills of the five onballers, and has provided a crucial link between midfield and half-forward.

Will Golds provides just that for Oakleigh, whereas both Matthew Rowell and Jack Ross are equally as impressive inside as they are outside, and can get forward and kick goals as well. Noah Answerth can also play off half-back or half-forward and hit the scoreboard for the Chargers, while Bailey Wraith has been getting the job done in the ruck despite being undersized. If he can get forward and kick a goal, it adds an extra challenge for the Stingrays. He will have his work cut out for him against the best ruck division in the league.

Dandenong attack vs. Oakleigh defence

Dandenong’s attack is likely to cause a lot more headaches for Oakleigh’s defence than other sides have in past weeks. With Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman both athletic talls, it means Charlie Beasley and Will Kelly will have to be prepared to jump as both Dandenong keys are highly athletic – particularly Williams who is second to none with vertical leap. Jai Taylor and Toby Bedford are two of the quickest players going around, while Sam Sturt and Zac Foot consistently hit the scoreboard.

The great strength with Oakleigh’s defence is its ball use out of the back 50, with Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco all wonderful kicks of the football. Often teams can have at least one liability back in their defence, but there is no player in the back 50 who the Chargers would not feel comfortable with kicking the ball out of the back 50. The challenge for the Chargers defence is they have to expect Dandenong to bring the heat. Forward pressure from the Stingrays is a must, and Oakleigh must be up for that challenge.

Extended interchange of both sides:

The depth on both these benches, particularly Oakleigh’s, is madness. Riley Collier Dawkins could be a first round pick but he sits on the pine, while James Jordon and Xavier O’Neill are crucial cogs in Oakleigh’s midfield. Matthew Day has been a really valuable forward for the Chargers this season, while Vic Metro Under 16s talent, Will Phillips has been very slick with his ball use on the outside and shapes as an impressive talent for the 2020 AFL National Draft. With father-son prospects and sneaky small forwards Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart waiting in the wings, and the versatile Matt Warren also brought in to the extended team, Oakleigh has plenty of options to head into game day.

For Dandenong, Finlay Bayne and Ned Cahill both provide depth in the forward line and showed they can kick multiple goals, as they did against Sandringham Dragons last week. Corey Ellison has been unlucky this season given the strength of talls for the Stingrays, while Hayden Young could be pick one next season, but came off sore last week and whether he makes the final team is yet to be seen. Bailey Schmidt is another athletic tall who could come in to really stretch the Oakleigh defence, while Jake Frawley kicked a bag of six earlier in the season. Jamie Plumridge has been good on  the outside for Dandenong this season, while Luca Goonan is a prospect to watch for next year. Reid Nanscawen has been named as the only emergency in the team.

WHY WILL THEY WIN?

Dandenong Stingrays: They have been the best team all year and attack the footy with numbers. A fierce intent on the ball carrier, any opposition know that the heat will come and it will depend on how they deal with it. The Stingrays are not a high possession team, and opt for sharing the ball around, but still using the ball long and effective. They have the tall timber up forward to put in the air and allow them to mark it, because no-one is spoiling Bailey Williams if he gets a run at it.

Oakleigh Chargers: They are the most skilful team in the competition who are happy to use short possessions rather than take risks with long kicks, but know when to flick the switch. Often they will use a series of short kicks until a player breaks free and then they use run-and-carry to run down the wings and pick a target out inside 50. Without the height in there, the Oakleigh midfielder put low balls out in front of their teammates to run onto with their speed off the mark, key.

 

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO STOP?

Dandenong Stingrays: They absolutely must bring the heat on the weekend. Oakleigh dominate games when they are allowed to over-possess the ball and just wait until options free up. Dandenong need to ensure that firstly, Oakleigh cannot have free numbers wandering into open space, and secondly, that there is a defensive midfielder who is happy to drop back and fill the hole in front of the Oakleigh forwards. Unlike Dandenong where a 200cm athlete will crash into your back, Oakleigh’s passes inside 50 will be low darts, so the Stingrays need to restrict the free space inside 50 and force them wide.

Oakleigh Chargers: They have to be wary of positioning themselves well inside the defensive 50. They will be playing against much taller opponents who can fly high, and some of their usually offensively-minded defenders might have to do more one-on-one defending. Isaac Quaynor is arguably the best small defender in the league one-on-one and he might be the man to go to Sam Sturt, as Quaynor can play taller and is equally as smart. Bailey Wraith will also have his work cut out for him in the ruck, and while he has been fantastic, when you’re going up against high flying rucks that are towering over you, the goal is to nullify as much as possible.

 

GRAND FINAL HISTORY

The two teams have never met in a TAC Cup Grand Final before, but have been involved in 10 between them. Dandenong has heartbreakingly lost all five of their encounters, two of which exceeded 80 points. For Oakleigh, they have won four out of a possible five attempts, including a goal point to Jack Macrae in 2012 getting them over the line against Gippsland Power.

Dandenong Stingrays:

1997: lost to North Ballarat Rebels by 35 points
2005: lost to Gippsland Power by 15 points
2008: lost to Murray Bushrangers by 81 points
2009: lost to Calder Cannons by 14 points
2013: lost to Eastern Ranges by 112 points

Oakleigh Chargers:

2006: defeated Calder Cannons by 27 points
2011: lost to Sandringham Dragons by eight points
2012: defeated Gippsland Power by one point
2014: defeated Calder Cannons by 47 points
2015: defeated Eastern Ranges by 12 points

 

AFL Draft Central tips

 

Peter Williams

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jack Ross

Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jake Gasper

Ed Pascoe

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Cameron Ross

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

 

Total Tips:

Dandenong Stingrays 2
Oakleigh Chargers 4

Best on Ground:

Toby Bedford 2
Dylan Williams 2
Jack Ross 1
Jake Gasper 1

Black hopes sixth time’s a charm for Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays coach, Craig Black is hoping for a fairytale finish to his stint at the club as head coach, before joining Collingwood in a development role. Speaking at the TAC Cup Grand Final press conference, Black said he hoped the Stingrays could win their first flag upon their sixth attempt in the competition, but would treat the game just like any other game.

“I don’t think you can probably hide from it (the 0-5 record in grand finals),” he said. “Everyone seems to bring it up, but some of these boys like Campbell (Hustwaite, co-captain) weren’t even born when they had the first Grand Finals losses. “I think you’d have those stories with everyone, but yeah we talk about it, but it’s even better when these boys get the opportunity to come out and maybe be the first person that can do it.”

Being his last game in charge of the Shepley Oval club, Black said he had mixed emotions, but was looking forward to finishing on a high for the players.

“It’s no different really, it is when you’re looking back, you’ve been there a long time, I think I’ve been back nine years, you know every bump along the road, so I definitely will miss it, I’ve got some good memories,” he said. “But I just want to get the right result so the players, the 60 players on our list, can get some success.” On the weekend we will have probably 20 players, 21 players who it will be their last game, so hopefully they can go out with a win.”

Dandenong Stingrays head into Saturday’s decider with just one loss to their name – a six-point defeat – to their grand final opponents, Oakleigh Chargers. Black said the season had been a strong one for the club, but it would not amount to much in the long-term if they dropped the final game on the weekend.

“Obviously we got some reward for our effort, the way we played throughout the year, but as you know the TAC Cup changes every year with school kids out, nationals and academy boys missing games,” he said. “We’ve been really fortunate this year, we’ve won a couple of close ones earlier in the year and we kept rolling on, but as you know with footy once you’ve sort of won one game you just move onto the next. “We’ve been lucky that we’ve won a few, but doesn’t mean much now does it when there’s one game up for grabs?”

Asked about whether the Stingrays were nervous facing the only team that had managed to stop them singing the song after the game, Black said it was indeed the opposite view that the players and staff held.

“I look at it completely different,” he said. “I think hopefully people are probably saying the two best teams have made the grand final this year. “I know our players, and I won’t speak for Clarkey, but I’m sure he’s probably the same. “Young kids just love coming out and playing against the best talent and give themselves every opportunity to fulfil their dreams and win games of footy and hopefully end up on an AFL list. “I think the TAC Cup will get that opportunity this week and supporters will come and see the two best teams play off and that’s unbelievable for us.”

One interesting factor looking ahead to the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final is the different styles that the two clubs take with their football. While Oakleigh rely on medium-tall and small options to kick their goals, Dandenong have some tall timber up forward, as well as a number of medium talls and midfielders who float through to kick winning scores. The Stingrays mentor said he would just focus on his side’s strengths rather than just looking to nullify the strengths of the Chargers.

“I think you go into the game, both teams are into awesome form, coming into the last 8-10 weeks of footy,” Black said. “If either team can get the play on their terms it will go a long way. “I know with us, you just deal with what you’ve got. “This year is a bit of an abnormal year, we’ve got some tall players and next year we mightn’t, so pre-season you get them, you keep developing them and hopefully you get the right team.”

Another aspect that comes into play which is unique for this game is the fact that Oakleigh will field four top-age players who are eligible to be recruited by Collingwood under the father-son and Next Generation Academy. Black, who will try and nullify their impact this weekend, will help develop those players, if selected by the Magpies, when he heads to the Holden Centre at the conclusion of the season. Black said he looked forward to the role, but for now, the likes of Isaac Quaynor, Atu Bosenavulagi, Bailey Wraith and Will Kelly were all opposition players.

“I think looking at the last sort of eight weeks and stuff, we’re really still leaving them in the TAC,” Black said. “The TAC Cup is a wonderful breeding ground for developing young players and obviously Oakleigh have a terrific track record of doing that over 25 years and even the last few years so really while the young NGA players are still in their TAC Cup, you sort of watch them from afar and let them develop in their own program and once the season finishes we’ll start doing a lot more with them.”

Black has his own Next Generation Academy player at the Stingrays – the exciting Toby Bedford who has been in strong form of late, and Melbourne will have first choice to select him once a bid comes in at November’s National AFL Draft.

“Yeah Tobes has been great,” Black said. “I think Clarkey (Leigh Clarke) mentioned before about how he had Vic Country, and then he was away at Melbourne Grammar for the school footy, so it’s that challenge when he gets back. “He boards at Melbourne Grammar so when he gets to training, one thing we know is with Tobes is his effort  and his intensity, he’s always up and about. “The players love it when he’s around, he’s a cheeky little thing and he plays on the edge at times and we love him for it.”

Other players who have shot into draft contention from “left field” include a newcomer to the Stingrays program, and one who had only played school footy prior to a month ago.

“We’ve probably got the one who stands out at the moment is Sam Sturt, you know who’s been playing at Peninsula and has come played four games of TAC Cup footy,” Black said. “Everyone’s watched him about as many times as I have. “It’s just people like that, and that’s what this competition gives, you know if someone is playing good football from left field, these sort of programs can give them the chance of fulfilling their talent as well. “People like Zac Foot who has come in, who wasn’t fortunate enough to play in our 17s or 16s or 15s program, come through as an 18 year-old and play as Vic Country. “Just the opportunities and everyone, I think if players weren’t improving we wouldn’t be in the position we are, and that’s lead by our captain and our leaders who are really driving high standards individually and as a team each week.”

Black thanked the support staff and development coaches around him who were always on hand to assist, and help develop these players from the start of the season until the end. Black himself has come through the program, captaining Dandenong to the 1997 TAC Cup Grand Final, returning to the club and having lead the Stingrays for the past five seasons.

“We’re lucky enough to be the head coaches of the TAC but I know we’ve got wonderful assistants and support staff around us that help out and you know, if you’re running late or can’t make it a night, they’re more than happy to step in, so it’s wonderful,” Black said. “I think it’s only going to get bigger and bigger with the the TAC Cup programs and getting chances at AFL, working with these wonderful young men that are getting opportunities, it’s great I think.”

After narrowly missing out on making the 2017 decider, going down to eventual premiers Geelong Falcons in the preliminary final at GMHBA Stadium 12 months ago, Black admitted he was nervous heading into the clash with Sandringham Dragons last weekend.

“I was really nervous going into last week’s game because you want your players to have the opportunity to experience Grand Final week, I mean they don’t do press conferences for prelims and that sort of stuff,” Black said. “So when we won this week is just all about enjoying it. “We said to our players after the game, ‘enjoy it, you might never play in a Grand Final again’ so we’re really thankful, and excited.”

It is not often a team that finishes top of the table with just one loss for the season heads into the TAC Cup Grand Final as potential underdogs. But with Oakleigh Chargers having won their past three games by an average of 101 points, including a 93-point demolition of the second placed Gippsland Power last weekend, the Chargers seem to be the in-form side, if that is even possible against a side that has won 13 on the trot. Black laughed off the matter of favouritism, because all that mattered was what happened from the first bounce to the final siren.

“I’ve been asked this question a few times and I know we’re going into the game that we can win the game of footy so I don’t know if favourites and that really matter like, it doesn’t bother me one little bit,” Black said. “Two really good teams in really good form are going to get a crack at winning a Grand Final and I’m sure I’ll speak for the Stingrays but I know we’ll go in with a lot of confidence. “Yeah we’ve got to take our chances when we get them, because I think both teams are going to get some really good chances and probably control the ball for periods of time. “Whoever makes the most of their opportunities (will likely win), but I think it’s going to be a fantastic game of footy, or I hope it is. “We’re just really excited about giving 23 players from our area an opportunity to play on Grand Final day and on Foxtel and on the big stage.”

Dandenong Stingrays take on Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park from 12.05pm on Saturday for the 2018 TAC Cup premiership.

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Grand Final

BOTH 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final sides have remained coy about their team selection this week, opting for extended benches before finalising their sides ahead of Saturday’s decider. Dandenong have brought in Luca Goonan, Bailey Schmidt and Corey Ellison, while Reid Nanscawen has been named as the sole emergency for the Stingrays. Meanwhile the Chargers have brought in the three players they included on the extended bench the week before in Matt Warren, Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart. Both Dunkley (Sydney) and Hart (Adelaide) are potential father-son prospects.

Dandenong Stingrays:

B: 58. Will Hamill – 56. Matthew Cumming – 41. Lachlan Stenning
HB: 12. Matthew Gahan – 32. Daniel Frampton – 10. Lachlan Young
C: 49. Matthew Cottrell – 23. Campbell Hustwaite – 27. Lachlan McDonnell
HF: 9. Zac Foot – 13. Riley Bowman – 7. Jai Taylor
F: 15. Toby Bedford – 29. Bailey Williams – 59. Sam Sturt
R: 36. Stephen Cumming – 1. Sam Fletcher – 18. Mitch Riordan
INT: 17. Finlay Bayne – 52. Corey Ellison – 16. Jake Frawley – 45. Luca Goonan – 3. Jamie Plumridge – 28. Bailey Schmidt – 2. Hayden Young
23P: 11. Ned Cahill
EMG: 57. Reid Nanscawen

In: L. Goonan, B. Schmidt, R. Nanscawen, C. Ellison

Oakleigh Chargers:

B: 3. Joe Ayton-Delaney – 36. Charlie Beasley – 16. Lucas Westwood
HB: 17. Trent Bianco – 4. Will Kelly – 23. Isaac Quaynor
C: 31. Will Golds – 32. Jack Ross – 11. Matthew Rowell
HF: 26. Jake Gasper – 7. Jay Robertson – 10. Charlie Whitehead
F: 8. Noah Anderson – 22. Dylan Williams – 13. Atu Bosenavulagi
R: 30. Bailey Wraith – 9. James Rowbottom – 12. Noah Answerth
INT: 1. Riley Collier-Dawkins – 6. Matthew Day – 14. Kyle Dunkley – 38. Zac Hart – 64. James Jordon – 5. Xavier O’Neill – 33. Matt Warren
23P: 44. Will Phillips

In: M. Warren, K. Dunkley, Z. Hart