Category: TAC Cup

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

Player Focus: Bailey Williams

The Dandenong Stingrays took out the resilient Sandringham Dragons by 42 points to earn their rightful place in next week’s Grand Final against the Oakleigh Chargers.

Despite playing against potential top five pick Ben King, Bailey Williams was easily the most dominant key forward on the day.

Williams first caught eyes in 2017 after some impressive showings for Dandenong Stingrays, earning a position in the Vic Country side as a bottom-ager. He mostly played in the ruck, which he has continued to improve on in 2018. His supreme running leap coupled with great strength was often too much for his opponents in the ruck, but despite this Williams has proved more valuable as a forward than a ruckman. Picked in the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year as forward pocket, and TAC Cup Team of the Year as ruckman, for both his size and position, Williams offers great versatility.

Williams has had a rough trot in front of goal since the Under 18 National Championships, struggling to convert off his set shot. Though this is likely more of a confidence issue than anything to do with his ability, finding himself in a bit of a funk. Before the Championships, his set shot was not brought into question. In Round Four, he kicked seven against the Western Jets. This was also around the time he was pegged within the top 10 of the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings. Though since of some his smaller issues, he sits twelfth. On the run, with players hanging off him, around the body – Williams will convert. He is a multi-dimensional player who marks well, plays low, applies intense pressure and can continue to have an impact up the ground, and that is exactly the kind of forward modern AFL sides look for.

Bailey Williams
198cm | 95kg
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

Quarter by quarter:

Though originally named in the ruck, Williams found his way down forward for the first quarter. He got around a lot of the early kicks inside 50 but none really sat to his advantage. He got his first hands on the footy off a boundary throw-in, winning the hit-out but was unlucky not to have his work converted. Later in the game, Williams dropped a chest mark after leading up into the midfield. He followed up by working back onto the ball and managing to gain possession and free it from under a tackle. Assigned to the ruck contests up forward, Williams won a hit-out in the square, followed it up with a tackle to dispossess but the ball spilled to the Dragons’ advantage. Though after a hit-out in a similar spot soon after, Williams won a ruck contest over the back of his opponent which quickly converted into a goal. Off a quick chip kick, Williams took a brave mark overhead running into Dragons defence, which he followed up with a good set-shot goal, landing his first for the day. He later found himself on the other end of the ground, knocking the ball over the line for a behind and soon followed up by applying intense pressure to the Dragons’ forwards, gaining a possession and diving onto the footy to help disrupt a run on goal, forcing a behind. Williams continued to stand up in the ruck, contributing greatly to the one-sided affair. After winning two hit-outs in the centre which quickly resulted in stoppages, Williams flew high to thump the ball far from the pack of players into the hands of Zac Foot who sent it inside 50. Towards the end of the quarter Williams saw more time in the ruck. He rarely failed to get first hands to it, using his strength and incredible leap to shadow his opponent, but his hitouts became very contentious for the players below him, seldom hitting a man on the full.

Williams started in the ruck after an impressive showing in the first. In his first contest he got bodied off the ball by James Rendell, with either of them barely getting a hand to it. The pair continued to display a strong contest under the footy, with Rendell using his positioning and Williams his athleticism to win the hitouts. Rendell later pinned Williams in a tackle and earned a free for holding the ball. After that, Williams found his way forward where he quickly began to flourish again. After being taken on as the Dragons attempted to rebound, Williams kept his man and switched quickly as they dished off the footy. He forced the defenders to rush their disposal which resulted in a turnover, a return inside 50 and subsequent goal. Tagged heavily in the marking contest, Williams took a big knee in the back under the football but was the first to regain his feet in the pack. His work in the ruck early on, involved a bit more wrestling than tap downs. For both ruckman there were very few hitouts to advantage, so despite being on the ball more, Williams’ impact was much lesser than the first.

For the third, Williams started on the bench but surged back on come the three-minute mark. Again, sticking to his forward role, the ball came his way twice, but unfortunately not to his advantage. The day’s windy conditions impacted a lot of inside 50s, so the kicks forward for both teams suffered. The second kick inside 50 found its way to the boundary line where Williams got to show his skill in the ruck contest. He won the hit-out, collected his own football off the deck and followed up with a snap at goal but missed. Williams continued to have trouble hitting his man from the ruck contest but getting first hand to the football was easy enough for him. Similarly to his first ruck contest for the quarter, he outmuscled his opponent to win the tap down, collect his own footy and again snap at goal. Like the first, he missed but continued to make these opportunities for himself. Williams later went up for a mark inside 50, knocked it in front of him, followed up and handballed to Toby Bedford who kicked a brilliant goal. The big man very rarely lost a one-on-one contest, using his second efforts to pin his opponent if they tried to break away. Williams’ highlight for the quarter came after the two defenders tagging him collided, allowing the forward to scoop and handball over his shoulder to the goal square, resulting in a run on goal. Great vision and clever football. He later followed up by marking the footy among three Dragons defenders, but missed his set shot on goal against the wind. This made for three behinds for the quarter but allowing himself these opportunities at goal with a couple of defenders following him around was impressive.

Williams sought to correct his mistakes from the third quarter early on. He proved too strong in the marking contest, earning a set shot at goal 20 metres in front. The big man kicked his second for the day and dwindled Sandringham’s hopes of a comeback. If that was not enough, Williams followed up by kicking Dandenong’s next goal after losing his man running toward goal. As the game continued, the Dragon defenders relieved a lot of their pressure, allowing the Stingrays to take a lot of uncontested marks in the forward 50. Williams could have seen himself under a lot but would have had to collected his own teammates to do it. His final highlight for the day was not bowling over teammate, Finlay Bayne, on the boundary line as the pair ran toward the high ball.

 

Stats

6 kicks

5 handballs

11 disposals

3 marks (2 contested)

4 tackles

14 hitouts

3 goals

3 behinds

Williams is likely a first round pick, being the most dominant tall in Victoria after Ben King and Max King. The big man could be taken somewhere between 15-25 but could go earlier if he fits a team’s criteria. He still has a game left to lift his stocks, so anything is on the cards until the cup gets lifted.

TAC Cup Grand Finals run in the Answerth family

THREE years ago, Kade Answerth’s 30 disposals, 10 clearances and six marks helped Oakleigh Chargers to a two-goal TAC Cup Grand Final victory, their second in as many years. On Saturday, younger brother Noah will lead his Chargers out in hope of following in the footsteps of the now Sandringham co-captain and lifting the same trophy his brother once did.

Answerth’s path to the big dance hasn’t been easy, with the 19-year old’s 2017 top-age year ruined by a freak back injury. Not to be deterred, the rebounding half-back was invited back for another crack at the TAC Cup level having grasped the success of his brother’s over-age season in 2015.

Speaking at the TAC Cup Grand Final press conference, Answerth said despite the similarities between his and Kade’s paths, he is not feeling any pressure to match his brother’s feats.

“(Kade) probably played in two in a row, so he’s probably got one-up on me,” he said. “You go into his room and he’s got a bit of memorabilia in there, it probably gets me a bit more excited than I would be if he hadn’t done that.”

Having bounced back to play 13 TAC Cup games this year, Answerth expressed his satisfaction in being able to reach such a big stage with his mates in tow.

“It’s pretty surreal to be sitting here now, thinking I’m about to play in that Grand Final, I didn’t probably think last year that it would happen so I’m pretty excited,” Answerth said.

Oakleigh coach Leigh Clarke spoke of his pride in being a part of Answerth’s journey to get to this point, having visited him in hospital the day after his defining injury last year.

“It’s a wonderful story that Noah’s been able to get himself back,” Clarke said. “12 months ago after my second game and I’m visiting a player laying on his back in hospital on Monday morning. “To be here today with him, I’m proud of him and I know his family’s very proud of him as well.”

Oakleigh’s opponents, Dandenong have been the benchmark team all year, but the Chargers’ irresistible form of late sets the contest up as potentially being one of the best match-ups in recent TAC Cup history. Answerth says the Chargers are well aware of the Stingrays’ talent across the board, with the usual emphasis on individual match-ups taking a back seat.

“They’re a pretty good team all-round, they wouldn’t be in the Grand Final if they weren’t. “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.”

His opposing co-captain Campbell Hustwaite took a similarly respectful stance, highlighting the importance of a team effort in order to nullify Oakleigh’s spread of quality.

“I don’t see one match-up specific for me but I know that they’ve got five quality midfielders and talent all around the ground so we’ll be looking to challenge ourselves for the whole day,” Hustwaite said. “We learned in round five you can’t lapse for a few minutes because they will make you pay, so on the weekend it’s just all about nullifying their talent and backing ourselves in against their mids.”

That round five game loss stands as the only blight on Dandenong’s season, with the ‘Rays bouncing back in Round Nine to even the ledger between the two sides. Despite Dandenong’s clear and admirable consistency, the question of who comes in as favourite remains up for debate with Oakleigh riding the wave of a 101-point average winning margin over the last three weeks.

Coach Clarke is not buying in to the debate, saying his side is purely focussed on delivering a win and showcasing the talent of 46 young stars, but admits they may just be peaking at the right time.

“I’m sure (Craig Black) isn’t planning to lose and we’re not planning to lose either,” Clarke 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.”

As one of those talented kids, Answerth held a steely, reserved sense of calm in saying this week is like any other on the calendar, despite conceding it’s special enough to warrant a few days off work.

“We train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and keep it the same as any other week through the year. “I’m pretty lucky to have a good boss so I can come here today, I’ll probably work tomorrow and the next day and take Friday off again so I’m pretty lucky with the boss I have at work and I’m pretty thankful that he can let me have a few days off just for this week.”

Having already experienced the thrill of the big day through junior footy and his brother’s exploits, Answerth is hoping to add another premiership medal to his collection.

“I just played in (a premiership) a few years ago when I was 16 for Caulfield Grammarians in the 19’s, probably just two at Caulfield Bears,” he said. “That’s about it but I’ve been lucky enough to go to a few TAC Cup grand finals and experience it with my family and Oakleigh Chargers as well so it’s a great week… we can really enjoy it and finish off the year well.”

And with big occasions come big performances, with Answerth highlighting a few teammates that like himself, have come on great journeys to reach the holy grail.

“Clarkey’s already spoken about a few but for me it’s probably Lachie Harry,” Answerth said. “Last time we played the Stingrays he kicked a goal to win us the game I was really proud of him and his performance throughout the year. “The reason we’re sitting in a grand final is because of the efforts like him and other players… also James Jordan, coming from Caulfield Grammar school footy to come play with us play in a grand final, it’s been great to see his form leading into this week.”

Oakleigh will be looking to claim their fifth TAC Cup title when they battle Dandenong at Ikon Park on Saturday.

For the Answerths, a third premiership medal and second best-afield award could also be coming home.

Hustwaite lets his “football do the talking” ahead of TAC Cup decider

DISAPPOINTED that he missed out on a draft combine invitation, Dandenong Stingrays’ co-captain Campbell Hustwaite is letting his footy “do the talking”. The Stingrays leader spoke at the TAC Cup Grand Final press conference, of his pride in leading such a talented group of players throughout the season and how he hoped through his own recent form he could prove a point to AFL club recruiters ahead of this year’s National AFL Draft.

“I sort of used it as a bit of motivation,” Hustwaite said, of missing out on a combine invitation. “To find that out I was a bit disappointed on the day, and probably for a week or so after it. “But then I thought there’s no better way than to play some good footy and prove to everyone else that I feel like I should have had the opportunity too. “But I’m not fussed now and I’ll just let my footy do the talking for the last few weeks and hopefully do the same on the weekend.”

Dandenong Stingrays coach Craig Black said coaches always want as many players as possible to test themselves against the best at the draft combines, and admitted they would always want more regardless of the number selected.

“Obviously I think it’s one of those things, if you had five players, you’d want six,” he said. “If you had 15, you’d want 16.” I think the season that Campbell’s had has been quite remarkable, but just his attitude probably from getting a knock back, his form since then he’s probably averaging 27/28 touches a game. “Half a dozen tackles and clearances. “I know Campbell just lets his football do the talking, but the way he leads our football club is outstanding. “The respect he’s got amongst our group, we just hope like anyone on our list that if they keep playing well, they keep putting their names up there, and a club gives him an opportunity.”

Hustwaite said the captaincy was something he had enjoyed in season 2018, and while some players such as Bailey Williams had been in the spotlight more than others, it would take a team effort to defeat the Oakleigh Chargers in Saturday’s decider.

“It’s a bit of an honour for me, we’ve got a bit of talent in this side,” he said. “I know if I can just lead them on the right way, they’ll do most of the work themselves. “We’ve got star players like Bailey Williams who’s probably first round, he’ll do his own thing but it’s all about the team, it’s not about one player, it’s about 23 of us going out there and getting the job done.”

The Dandenong midfielder said there were a number of players who had built great form over the course of the season, and that had contributed to the Stingrays winning the minor premiership and reaching the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

“I think Zac Foot was a big one,” Hustwaite said. “In pre-season he was sort of just the newbie and not many of the boys knew him, but he’s come across in leaps and bounds, but even Sam Fletcher coming back from injury. “It could have been easy for him to plod a bit because he’s got a good tag but he’s pushed himself harder than ever and he’s played a really few good months of footy.”

It might be Hustwaite’s first TAC Cup Grand Final, but the Rosebud product has more than enough experience when it comes to the last match of the season.

“I was lucky enough to play in a pretty talented team with a few of the Stingrays boys,” the Dandenong leader said. “(I) played in four (grand finals), back-to-back-to-back and was lucky enough to win them all. “Coming into this it’s a bit different, it’s nothing like junior football finals, but got the experience on the big stage, but I’m sure this will take it up another couple of notches.”

Having that experience of leading up to the big day, Hustwaite said he would try and keep his preparation as normal and structured as possible.

“Yeah so for me, it’s just throughout the whole year it’s just been getting the right balance from school and football,” he said. “This week will be no different, maybe even football takes an upper leg just for this week. “Last few days I’ve just been making sure I’m getting my body right for the upcoming week. I’ve taken the day off school today just to do the right thing by football, but not much changes really. “Keep the same preparation for the weekend, hopefully try not change too much. I’m a bit superstitious with some things so I’ll just stick to my routine and hopefully works again.”

As for a potential match-up, Hustwaite said the depth of both midfields meant each player would likely line-up alongside multiple opponents.

“I don’t see one match-up specific for me, but I know they’ve got five quality midfielders and talent all around the ground so we’ll be looking to challenge ourselves for the whole day,” he said. “We learnt in Round 5 you can’t lapse for a few minutes because they will make you pay, so on the weekend it’s just all about nullifying their talent I guess and backing ourselves in against their mids who comes up on the better side on the day.”

Dandenong Stingrays takes on Oakleigh Chargers from 12.05pm on Saturday, with the Stingrays chasing their first flag from their sixth attempt, while Oakleigh will look to add to their current tally of four premierships.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Preliminary Finals

THE final four became two with wins to Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers over Sandringham Dragons and Gippsland Power respectively. We took a look at some of the combine invitees from the day, as well as the Under 17 Futures players.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Sandringham Dragons

Dandenong:

By: Ed Pascoe

#9 Zac Foot

Foot had his moments showing his talent with his run and ability to get forward into dangerous positions. Despite playing an outside role he was not afraid to get his hands dirty and win the contested ball in the first quarter. He kicked a nice running goal in the second quarter to add to his sides total. Foot made a few mistakes including kicking into the man on the mark in the second quarter and a few errors were made with ball in hand, but his run and strength in one on ones shone above his few mistakes. Foot finished with 14 disposals, four marks and one goal. 

 #13 Riley Bowman

Bowman had a solid outing playing in the ruck and up forward and he got better and better as the game went on. Bowman showed nice defensive efforts which was on display early with a good chase in the first quarter. He showed his nice movement for his size in a contest up forward where he was able to get around multiple opponents although he was unable to turn that into a scoring opportunity. Bowman had some wasteful kicks inside 50 but he was able to hit up Williams for a nice pass inside 50. Bowman finished with 12 disposals, eight tackles, six inside 50s and 21 hitouts. 

 #15 Toby Bedford

Bedford was impressive once again for Dandenong with his excitement around the ball really catching the eye and he proved a constant handful for Sandringham. Bedford showed his trademark dash and agility throughout all four quarters proving to be too slick and slippery to tackle. He showed his physical side with a big bump that sent his opponent over the boundary line in the second quarter and went on to kick two goals in the quarter including a lovely snap goal on the boundary. His third would come with another nice snap in the third term and he did the team things well in the last quarter with a nice kick inside 50 to Bayne in the pocket. Bedford finished the game with 12 disposals, six tackles and three goals. 

#29 Bailey Williams

Williams was the dominant big man on the ground with three goals proving a difficult matchup for the Sandringham talls Corey Watts and Charlie Dean. His first goal came from a mark and then set shot goal in the first quarter and his final two goals came in the last quarter, one coming from a lovely contested mark where he nailed the set shot and the other was much easier with him running straight into an open goal in the goal square. Williams finished the game with 11 disposals, four tackles, 14 hitouts and three goals and three behinds 

#58 Will Hamill

Hamill was very classy with his run off half-back where he showed his clean hands and movement through traffic along with his lovely left foot to hit targets. This game was not as big as last weeks but he still played his role down back rarely getting beaten and looking comfortable with ball in hand coming out of defence. Hamill finished with 13 disposals, three marks and four rebounds. 

 #59 Sam Sturt

Sturt showed why he is a highly sought after talent displaying his great hands on multiple occasions and showing off his dangerous kicking skills on his left foot. Sturt’s best quarter was his second taking some nice marks and laying some good tackles. He showed off his kicking with a nice long pass inside 50 and he showed his creativity with ball in hand with a good handball over his head which lead to a goal. Sturt’s first goal came in the third quarter with nice recovery after a marking contest and then kicking a nice snap goal. He showed his terrific judgment overhead with a nice mark on the wing in the last quarter where he managed to take the mark behind his opponent.  Sturt finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks, six tackles and two goals. 

 

Sandringham:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Alastair Richards

Found himself mostly behind the play and while he did not win much of the ball, he had an eye catching moment when running through the middle of the ground with pace which resulted in a goal to Mahony during the first quarter. He was very reliable defensively as well, laying 10 tackles and using his acceleration to hold his opposition up.

#7 Liam Stocker

It was a character propelling performance by the Morrish Medal winner who continued on despite nursing a shoulder complaint for a majority of the match. While he already appeared sore beforehand, a hard hit from Sam Fletcher saw Stocker go off, but he returned to the field to tough it out despite being in obvious discomfort. He fought tooth and nail for his 18 disposals and still managed to lay 10 tackles with that shoulder restriction. He looked rushed on occasions with attention from Campbell Hustwaite and Jake Frawley at the stoppages, but it was a commendable effort to fight on and it was not unnoticed.

#27 Jack Mahony

The 16 year old is a really clever and creative player, especially inside 50 where his goal sense and nous is obvious. He gets in positions where defenders get panicky when the ball hits the ground and is difficult to contain. He kicked two opportunistic goals and had good moments through the midfield as well, collecting 17 disposals. He makes things happen with ball in hand and despite being only 176cm, he has plenty of tricks for clubs to be excited about next year.

#28 James Rendell

The Brisbane father-son prospect is giving the Lions and the other clubs plenty to think about after an outstanding Preliminary Final outing. He competed well in the ruck against the likes of Bowman and Williams, but it was around the ground where he was truly influential. In tricky windy conditions, he read the ball superbly in the air to take multiple contested marks. At ground level he fought to win five clearances and if he did not win the ball, he would throw his body around or tackle. He finished with 18 disposals, seven marks and 23 hitouts to clearly be Sandringham’s best player on the day.

#29 Ben King

The top five prospect had quiet periods after a hot start, where he took four marks leading up the ground in the first quarter. Although Dandenong’s dominance meant he lacked supply and could not be as involved as previous weeks. He still managed to hit the scoreboard and was dangerous when the ball was in his area. He kicked a goal from an easy crumb in the second quarter and earned a free kick after attacking the ball at its highest point late in the game.

#33 Will Kennedy

The 198cm combine invitee did not have a huge impact on the game, starting in the forward arc and relieving Rendell in the ruck. He only won seven disposals, but had a real crack defensively laying eight tackles. He had a moment in the opposition goal square during the third quarter where he cleaned up teammate Corey Watts with a lack of communication between the two, but you could not question his attack at the ball.

#48 Josh Worrell

The bottom-aged prospect has had an impressive finals series and again looked right at home in defence for Sandringham. He is a tidy left footer who at 195cm, is capable of playing tall, sitting in the hole or manning a medium type as he did on Sam Sturt. While he gave his opponent latitude at times, he reads the play well and took a strong contested intercept mark in the final term. One to keep an eye on next year.

#52 Charlie Dean

Another bottom-aged Dragon who impressed behind the play and won plenty of the ball. He looked comfortable defensively and got into smart positions. He is a good size at 194cm and appears to possess flexibility to play different roles in the back half. Dean arguably played his best game to date for Sandringham to finish with 18 disposals and seven marks.

#72 Darcy Chirgwin

Chirgwin will be yet another 2019 draft prospect for Sandringham who proved to possess some quality forward traits on Saturday. He only won nine disposals, but looked likely every time the ball was in his area inside 50. He took a strong contested mark in the second term and kicked truly, following that up shortly with a clever dribble goal. Like Dean and Worrell, we will see Chirgwin in a couple of weeks in the U17 Futures game at the MCG on Grand Final day.

#74 Harry Reynolds

One of the bolters of the draft, Reynolds started at the first centre bounce and won early midfield possessions. He consistently got his hands first on the ball, but the faster paced game and higher quality opposition meant he fumbled on occasions and did not always have the time to release efficiently. In saying that, he is a fascinating prospect at 190cm and possesses enormous scope in his game. He finished with 15 disposals and three clearances, but you suspect he has a whole lot more than those numbers to provide as he develops.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Gippsland:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

One of the few Power players who could come away satisfied with their individual performance. He started in the midfield and gathered a couple of early touches, before spending long periods forward for the rest of the game. Obviously lacking opportunities in the front half, Serong was his usual clean and efficient self when in possession of the pill. He finally got Gippsland on the board with a well read dribble goal in the fourth term, before earning a free kick shortly after to double his and the team’s tally. He finished with 14 disposals and two goals which was a respectable effort in a big loss.

#4 Sam Flanders

Despite the dominance of the Oakleigh midfield in the first half, Flanders competed and fought hard when at the stoppages to ensure the opposition didn’t have it all their own way. He laid a physical chase down tackle on Will Kelly in the first term to earn a free kick and won a couple of eye catching clearances against the play. He took a strong body on body grab inside 50 in the third term, but was not seen as frequently as the game went on.

#5 Xavier Duursma

On an extremely tough day for Gippsland, one thing you could not question was the determination of the captain. Duursma did all he possibly could to stem the Charger’s flow of goals both offensively and defensively, but was often found lacking support against the quality opposition. He wasn’t allowed to find his usual space, which often lead to Oakleigh players hanging off him from a contested situation which affected his efficiency. He did manage to break free and hit Austin Hodge lace out inside 50 from a stoppage, but these moments were few and far between. His desperate, diving tackle efforts ensured he lost no admirers and is sure to be in first round contention come November.

#9 Irving Mosquito

It certainly was not Mosquito’s most prolific or influential outing of the year, but the Hawthorn Next Generation Academy prospect still managed to create the occasional eye catching moment. “Mozzie” looked his most dangerous at the stoppages, weaving through traffic, creating space from nothing and turning onto his left as he does best. He only won nine disposals, but clubs really like him which may lead to Hawthorn matching a bid earlier than they would like.

#11 Austin Hodge

The 19 year-old was in and out of the game playing forward and rotating through the midfield. You can never doubt his intent and courage, as proven in the first term when he attacked an aerial ball from an awkward position without question. He no doubt would have liked to get more involved in his final game for the club, but his years of commitment and outstanding character have left a lasting mark.

#12 Brock Smith

In the absence of Kyle Reid, Smith was required to play a taller role behind the ball and had to deal with constant Oakleigh entrances from the outset. He defended as well as he could have considering the quality of the attacks coming in, even taking a strong intercept mark in the first term. While he made an error in the middle of the ground in the second term that resulted in a goal, he attacked the ball at every opportunity and provided a physical presence that his teammates could not replicate.

#18 Matt McGannon

Unfortunately he did not start the game in great fashion, turning the ball over from a kick out that directly resulted in a goal. It was an uncharacteristic error, but he improved as the game went on in difficult circumstances. He has had an outstanding season and has proven to be one of the best users of the ball in the competition, on either side of his body. McGannon has his second consecutive Draft Combine coming up and will embrace to opportunity to impress the clubs again.

#23 Noah Gown

Gown was deprived of the aerial opportunities of recent weeks, but still looked ominous when the ball went in his direction. He won an excellent one on one against Kelly early, keeping his feet after competing for the mark and gathering eventually in space. He also took an extremely strong mark on the lead in the second term under extreme pressure. It was the thirteenth time in 14 matches since moving forward that he has been named in Power’s best. He has arguably been the biggest improver this year and has ended the season having given himself every chance in the November drafts.

 

Oakleigh:

By: Ed Pascoe 

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

Collier-Dawkins backed up his impressive game last week with an even better performance this week proving too be too quick and too strong through the midfield. Collier-Dawkins’ hands at stoppages were clean and he often got his arms free to release to running teammates. His speed around the ground was telling where he often would take the ball either with a mark or in general play and always look to play on and get the play moving. Once the rain started, Collier-Dawkins showed his best bit of play to date where he kicked a classy checkside goal on the run in the third quarter and although missing the set shot his speed to take a nice contested mark in the last quarter was impressive. Collier-Dawkins finished with 26 disposals, six inside 50s and one goal. 

#4 Will Kelly

Will Kelly had a quiet game down back, the ball did not spend much time down there but he did the defensive things well and looked composed with ball in hand. Kelly finished with eight disposals, three marks and our rebounds.

 #9 James Rowbottom

Rowbottom has been one of Oakleigh’s most consistent midfielders this year and that was also the case against Gippsland with another tough performance. Rowbottom again did his best work at the clearances using his burst of speed and clean hands to win clearances around the ground. He has struggled to hit the scoreboard this year but he had a few chances in the third quarter where he snapped a behind at a stoppage before finally kicking a goal with a nice opposite foot snap. Rowbottom finished the game with 24 disposals and one goal. 

 #12 Noah Answerth

Answerth was one of many dominant midfielders for Oakleigh with his clearance work and tough attitude on display at stoppages. Answerth was terrific by hand often showing good vision and ran with the ball on a few occasions to give himself time to pick the right options. A few kicks he had where slammed on the boot at stoppages which would effect his efficiency but they were often the right option. He only had the four kicks for the game often using his best feature which was his handballing. He kicked a nice long goal in the first quarter coming from a set shot from 50 meters. Answerth was a solid contributor over the four quarters and he finished the game with 23 disposals, five tackles and one goal. 

 #23 Isaac Quaynor

Quaynor did not get to show a huge amount of his talent playing in defence, but he was still able to show why he is a possible top 20 pick. Quaynor was cool and clam with ball in hand and was not afraid to take the game on. He had plenty of clearing kicks from defence and he made good decisions throughout the game. Quanyor had a solid finish to game pushing up the ground and he looks set for a big game next week finishing with 14 disposals and four rebound 50s 

 #31 Will Golds

Golds was a ball magnet on the wing for Oakleigh and he was huge in the opening quarter with his run and carry and ability to find the ball. Golds had a good mix of linking play with handballs while also getting them back and pumping the ball inside 50. As much as he is an outside player he still managed to take a nice contested mark in the second quarter. Golds’ ball use was mostly very effective especially by hand and he had a great kick inside 50 to Day in the third quarter. Golds finished the game with 26 disposals and five inside 50s. 

Oakleigh charges into Grand Final with 93-point victory over Gippsland

OAKLEIGH Chargers have won their third consecutive game by 15 goals or more with a 93-point thrashing of second-placed Gippsland Power. The Chargers were all over the Power from start to finish and never realistically looked like losing. Their ball use in the wet was superb

It was a sense of deja vu for the crowd from the week before, as Oakleigh’s Matt Rowell put the ball through the big sticks and got the first major on the board with a running shot – slightly different to his set shot against Western the week before, but nonetheless, he was the first key scorer. Gippsland was sanding strong with a couple of important inside 50s, with a couple of opportunities but could not convert, and it was six-goal hero from last week, Dylan Williams who made it two for the Chargers with a great goal off a couple of steps.

A piece of class from Atu Bosenavulagi saw him centre into the middle to hit-up Noah Answerth on the 50m line. The subsequent 60m roost from Answerth sailed through and got the Chargers up and about. Then when Jake Gasper kicked one through the middle, the danger signs were there for the Power, as Oakleigh moved 25 points up. The third member of Oakleigh’s version of the Holy Trinity – Noah Anderson – used some terrific soccer skills to boot the ball off the ground in the wet to sail one home for the Chargers’ fifth.

Rowell almost had a second goal on the run but it just missed to the left. Oakleigh’s passing in horrible conditions was a treat, with a superb pass from Trent Bianco off half-back to Gasper in midfield one of the top kicks of the day. The play from end-to-end lead to a shot on goal to Charlie Whitehead after a strong tackle, but his set shot also drifted to the left.

Gippsland came out with a better intensity early, with Austin Hodge having a set shot but just missing early. Noah Gown took a huge one-on-one mark on the lead against Will Kelly, clunking a big grab despite Kelly’s pressure. His shot just missed to the left, with Gippsland ruing a few missed opportunities. Sam Flanders laid a big tackle at half-back to earn a free in a second term derived of highlights. Gippsland had stemmed the flow, but neither side could hit the scoreboard.

Then, just as it looked like they were struggling to find a way to press on, Williams went bang, bang and booted two majors in the space of a minute. First he got goal side of his opponent and ran into an easy major, then outmarked his opponent and snapped it round to give the Chargers two quick replies and extend the margin out to 45. Williams piled on some more pain as Oakleigh ran the length of the ground from half-back and the small forward made it four with three consecutive goals, receiving the handball on the line, turning around and kicked it from point blank to push it past 50. A minute later, Gasper conquered up an amazing snap from the pocket bouncing its way through and making it a whopping 57 points.

While a few positional changes from the Power hoped to bring on some better news in the second half, it was a perfect kick from Will Golds to the leading Matthew Day, adding his name to the goal kickers chart. If there was a goal to beat Gasper’s second term effort for goal of the day, it belonged to Oakleigh midfielder, Jack Ross who snapped around his body and it sailed through, showing great smarts. Ross was one of the best on the ground, winning a truckload of the ball and really having an influence on the game.

Gippsland had a nice passage of play from half-back leading to a strong mark inside 50 to Flanders, who had been one of the Power’s top players. He went back and had a shot from a tight angle, but it drifted to the right in the wind and just missed. Gasper’s prowess in front of the big sticks continued with the goal sneak nailed another set shot from just inside 50 and the game was well and truly done. Caleb Serong, Boadie Motton and Gown were trying hard along with Duursma and Flanders, but the overwhelming Oakleigh numbers were proving too much for the Power players.

Riley Collier-Dawkins showed off his strength and acceleration in two instances, first breaking the tackle of Irving Mosquito and kicking long, then moving forward, receiving the handball and bursting away to snap a great goal. A couple of minutes later, James Rowbottom snapped around his body courtesy of a Gasper handball and put it through and all of a sudden it was 90 points the margin and much like the weather, Gippsland’s day went from bad to worse.

It took until the first minute of the final term for Gippsland to break through for their first goal, but a quick dribbler from Caleb Serong put them on the board to ensure they did not go goalless for the match. Then Serong had another chance running into goal but sprayed it to the left. He was pushed in the back and awarded a free, but in a weird decision, the behind counted and Serong took the free kick from 15m out, putting it through for two in as many minutes.

Oakleigh missed a chance through Gasper, and the game had lost its intensity. Gown kicked a dribbler to add his name on the board and make it three consecutive goals for the Power. The frustration of the result for the Power was boiling over as Josh Smith was reported for a clash with Charlie Beasley. Oakleigh moved the ball into attack where Charlie Whitehead had a crack on goal but it was touched en-route to goal and registered just one behind.

Collier-Dawkin  (26 disposals, four marks, five clearances and five inside 50s) was arguably Oakleigh’s best player in the win, while he missed a late chance, scoring a behind from a set shot, he was strong throughout the match. While the game was over, Atu Bosenavulagi and Matthew Day both kicked late goals to put the Chargers beyond 100. Then Bailey Wraith put one through to ensure Oakleigh won all four quarters in a thumping 93-point win.

Others who stood out for Oakleigh were Ross (29 disposals, six marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and one goal), Joe Ayton Delaney (32 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds), and Answerth (23 touches, three marks, five tackles, five clearances and one goal) were others who found plenty of the football. Duursma (18 disposals, seven tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s) stood tall for his team, while Serong had a big last term, finishing the game with 13 disposals, two inside 50s and two goals).

GIPPSLAND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.3 | 3.4 (22)
OAKLEIGH 5.4 | 9.5 | 14.10 | 17.13 (115)

GOALS:

Gippsland: Caleb Serong 2, Noah Gown
Oakleigh: Dylan Williams 4, Jake Gasper 3, Matthew Day 2, Matt Rowell, Noah Answerth, Noah Anderson, Jack Ross, Riley Collier-Dawkins, James Rowbottom, Atu Bosenavulagi, Bailey Wraith.

BEST:

Gippsland: Xavier Duursma, Caleb Serong, Sam Flanders, Boadie Motton, Ryan Sparkes.
Oakleigh: Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jack Ross, Jake Gasper, Dylan Williams, Noah Answerth, Joe Ayton-Delaney, Will Golds.