Tag: Baxter Mensch

Gippsland powers to first finals win in six years with terrific victory over Geelong

GIPPSLAND Power are through to the preliminary for the first time since 2012, after knocking off the Geelong Falcons by 35 points. The Power had a fight on their hands after kicking the first four goals of the game, and lead by just 16 points at the final break, but powered home in the final term.

The first score of the day came courtesy of a Tye Hourigan error, marking on the goal line but then kicking between the behinds to force a rushed behind. Gippsland captain Xavier Duursma had about five touches in the opening few minutes and his run handed Josh Smith the opening goal of the game. The next clearance inside 50 saw the unbelievable talents of Irving Mosquito get boot to ball with class in the square and Gippsland had two majors on the board.

Geelong were still winning the football but the Gippsland defence was up to the task. Despite a good inside 50, Gippsland rushed it down the other end and big Rylan Henkel kicked a goal off a couple of steps and Gippsland was on fire. Noah Gown‘s aerial prowess was on show with a towering mark, but his decision to play on from the 35m set shot was surprising, however he found Leo Connolly who snapped a goal to make it four on the trot.

Blake Schlensog had clean hands off the deck and kick inside 50 but hit-up a Gippsland opponent. Ben Morton won a crucial one-on-one deep in defence, keeping his feet but did not realise he had time and space to his left, he handballed back in-board to Baxter Mensch who had a shot but it cannoned into the woodwork.

Keidan Rayner was producing some nice moves through midfield, sidestepping his opponents and kicking cleanly inside 50. Connor Idun lead hard from a quick snap on the boundary to mark on the ground. His set shot was perfect off the boot and got Gippsland on the board in the opening term. Mensch took a good mark one-on-one on 50, gave off the handball to Jay Dahlhaus, but the ball was rushed across the line by Hourigan. some great work by Dahlhaus saw him break a few tackles, handball to the free man in Idun and he kicked to Schlensog’s advantage 15m out, delivering the goal. to reduce the margin back to single digits. It did not last long, however with Smith taking a good mark and converting the set shot for his second major.

The second quarter started like the first, with Gippsland getting an early inside 50 and Duursma getting on the end of it with a great set shot goal. Sam Walsh got involved with a quick handpass to Brayden Ham in defence, but the kick was smothered and Bailey Beck pounced. Beck had a nice shot on goal but it bounced to the left and missed. A smothered kick off Riley Baldi‘s boot almost saw Geelong make the Power pay, with Charlie Harris snapping from 15m out, but spraying the attempt.

Charlie Sprague did not make the same mistake, being opportunistic with a fantastic snap to get the Falcons on the board and keep the momentum balanced. Sam Conway was winning some big hitouts through the ruck and Sam Walsh was getting involved everywhere. He won the football at the stoppage and cleared to a wing, then marked at half-forward. His shot on goal dropped short, but was marked in a big pack by Idun, who booted his second goal of the game.

One could sense the tide was turning, with Geelong getting more of the football forward of centre. Sprague had another chance from a good mark, but he went too close to the man on the mark and his set shot went out on the full. Just as it appeared to be that way, Oscar Brownless had a late tackle on Matthew McGannon for a downfield free. Harvey Neocleous made no mistake and kicked the goal. The Power pressure was mounting and it lead to a mistake on the goal line with Cooper Cartledge trying to rush the ball through but was tackled by Harrison Pepper. Lucky for the Geelong defence, Pepper missed the snap. It was not long before Connolly pounced on his second bending it around the body to sail one home from 40m out.

Cartledge’s work in defence was good one-on-one against Gown, beating him on multiple occasions, but unfortunately his kicking was off target with a number of clangers. Duursma had a chance from a set shot early in the piece, but got too close to the mark and tugged it to the left for a behind. Tempers flared a touch when a non-malicious but late all the same, push by Henkel on Keidan Rayner saw the Power ruck go into the umpire’s book. Ham had been quiet in the first half, but made it count with his set shot from outside 50, with a perfectly weighted kick to cut the deficit to 15 points early in the third. Caleb Serong was another who was not up to his usual high production standards in the first half, but had a chance in the third quarter with a snap that just missed.

Schlensog took a big mark at half-forward and had no hesitation in lining up for the set shot, but it drifted to the left and was punched across the line. The big man took another big grab moments later, and then a long bomb into the goal square off the next possession saw Walsh pounce and turn one way and then the other to get boot to ball. The goal umpire extraordinarily signalled it had been touched before changing his mind and calling it a goal after Walsh celebrated with teammates. Kyle Reid signalled he had indeed touched it, but with no goal review, the major stood and the Falcons were up to their ears in the contest. Everything was building towards a huge finish to the game with Gippsland still in front, but Geelong charging home. A great tackle from Sprague on the siren exemplified how much the Falcons had lifted in the term.

The momentum quickly shifted early in the final term with a great one-on-one mark and goal to Serong from the goal square. A few minutes later a Mosquito tackle at half-forward was rewarded and almost resulted in a goal to Beck, but the shot just missed. Nick Lowden also missed a chance running into goal, but Gippsland had the momentum. Lachlan Smith did well to lock up Mosquito inside 50 and clear the ball from danger. The Power fans could sense a preliminary final spot was almost there, and when Pepper ran into goal and nailed it, the crowd went up. A great chase by Duursma on Walsh resulted in a less than effective kick, with the Gippsland leader showing the way. If the nail was not already in the coffin, it certainly was when Beck kicked a running goal midway through the quarter.

Henkel received a free kick and converted the set shot, letting the Falcons defenders know about the score. Gippsland was home and hosed and through to a preliminary final. Gippsland was supremely confident, so much so Smith had a crack from the centre square and made the distance, but the accuracy was just to the right. Matthew McGannon‘s work off half-back throughout the game was consistent throughout, as was Boadie Motton in the midfield. Mosquito missed his chance for a second not long after, just spraying a flying shot on the goal. Sprague had a crack in the dying minutes but also missed. A 50m penalty to Ham saw the exciting forward finish the game with two and be among the best once again. While he did not have the points on Cartledge for the day, Gown kicked a late on for the Power.

Gippsland Power 5.1 | 8.3 | 9.5 | 13.10 (88)
Geelong Falcons 2.3 | 4.7 | 6.9 | 7.11 (53)

Gippsland: Josh Smith 2, Leo Connolly 2, Rylan Henkel 2, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito, Harvey Neocleous, Caleb Serong, Harrison Pepper, Noah Gown.
Geelong: Connor Idun 2, Brayden Ham 2, Charlie Sprague, Blake Schlensog, Sam Walsh.

ADC BEST:

Gippsland: Xavier Duursma, Leo Connolly, Rylan Henkel, Josh Smith, Matthew McGannon, Tye Hourigan
Geelong: Cooper Cartledge, Brayden Ham, Baxter Mensch, Lachlan Smith, Connor Idun, Charlie Sprague

Team Selection: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

THERE is no turning back now for the eight remaining TAC Cup sides as regular season form is thrown out the window in the first week of finals. The eight teams have made minimal changes to their sides, with no more than three confirmed outs from sides heading into the elimination finals.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Elimination Finals  – Saturday, September 8, 12pm IKON Park, Carlton North

Dandenong has a luxury of talls at its disposal and have recalled Riley Bowman to the side, who will slot into full-forward replacing Bailey Schmidt for the first elimination final. Also recalled to an extended bench are Reid Nanscawen, Corey Ellison, Luca Goonan and Ned Cahill, while Jack Toner is the other out from the Stingrays side. For the eighth placed GWV Rebels, they also have an extended bench with Elliott Lamb, Tynan Shannon, Joel O’Connell, Mitchell Burgess and Lochie Dawson named in the side. Harrison Butler and Ben Dodd are the two confirmed outs for the Rebels.

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 12. M. Gahan, 56. M. Cumming, 41. L. Stenning HB: 58. W. Hamill, 32. D. Frampton, 10. L. Young C: 49. M.  Cottrell, 23. C.  Hustwaite, 9. Z.  Foot HF: 27. L. McDonnell, 29. B. Williams, 7. J. Taylor F: 15. T. Bedford, 13. R. Bowman, 59. S. Sturt R: 36. S. Cumming, 1. S. Fletcher, 17. F. Bayne Int: 52. C. Ellison, 16. J. Frawley, 45. L. Goonan, 57. R. Nanscawen, 3. J. Plumridge, 18. M. Riordan, 2. H. Young 23P: 11. E. Cahill

In: L. Goonan, E. Cahill, R. Nanscawen, C. Ellison, R. Bowman Out: B. Schmidt,  J. Toner

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

B: 10. J. Lohmann, 43. J. Wright, 26. R. Ranieri HB: 48. J. Cleaver, 18. B. Helyar, 5. H. Jennings C: 24. M.  Lloyd, 3. S.  Carlin, 30. I.  Wareham HF: 1. C. Craig-Peters, 20. T. Watts, 14. J. Hill F: 21. I. Grant, 6. C. Wilson, 7. M. Martin R: 29. P. Glanford, 27. E. Lamb, 2. M. Schnerring Int: 32. M. Burgess, 9. L. Dawson, 47. T. Mahony, 45. D. McEldrew, 34. J. O’Connell, 44. R. Polkinghorne, 25. T. Shannon 23P: 50. J. Ugle-Hagan

In: E. Lamb, T. Shannon, J. O’Connell, M. Burgess, L. Dawson Out: H. Butler, B. Dodd

GIPPSLAND POWER v. GEELONG FALCONS

Elimination Finals  – Saturday, September 8, 2.30pm IKON Park, Carlton North

In the second all-Country elimination final, Gippsland has made at least three changes to the team that defeated Eastern Ranges a fortnight ago. Matt Ryan, Ben Maslen and Wade Anderson have been confirmed as out, while Harrison Pepper, Boadie Motton, Austin Hodge, Josh Wykes, Aaron Young and Luke Williams are all back into the side. For the Falcons, they have gone in unchanged showing faith in the side that got the job done in the Wild Card Round against the Cannons. Geelong have added Brady Campi, Baxter Mensch and Harrison Whyte to an extended bench.

Gippsland Power

B: 12. B. Smith, 14. T. Hourigan, 15. R. Sparkes HB: 18. M. McGannon, 25. K. Reid, 7. B. Patterson C: 8. B.  Beck, 5. X.  Duursma, 29. B.  Motton HF: 9. I. Mosquito, 23. N. Gown, 20. H. Neocleous F: 4. S. Flanders, 16. J. Smith, 11. A. Hodge R: 22. R. Henkel, 6. R. Baldi, 2. C. Serong Int: 10. L. Connolly, 13. N. Lowden, 37. H. Pepper, 35. J. van der Pligt, 32. L. Williams, 38. J. Wykes, 45. A. Young 23P: 36. M. Bentvelzen

In: H. Pepper, B. Motton, A. Hodge, J. Wykes, A. Young, L. Williams Out: M. Ryan,  B. Maslen,  W. Anderson

Geelong Falcons

B: 40. J. Clark, 49. D. Hollenkamp, 7. C. Harris HB: 20. B. Ham, 31. C. Cartledge, 21. L. Smith C: 8. E.  McHenry, 6. D.  Madigan, 22. S.  Walsh HF: 1. J. Dahlhaus, 39. C. Idun, 9. B. Morton F: 36. C. Sprague, 48. B. Schlensog, 2. S. Torpy R: 44. S. Conway, 30. O. Brownless, 41. C. Stephens Int: 37. B. Campi, 10. B. Mensch, 34. C. Page, 32. F. Parish, 3. K. Rayner, 42. H. Spiller, 13. H. Whyte 23P: 15. T. Bruhn

In: B. Campi, B. Mensch, H. Whyte

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. WESTERN JETS

Elimination Finals  – Sunday, September, 9, 11am IKON Park, Carlton North

On Sunday, Oakleigh Chargers have made just the two confirmed changes from the side that belted the GWV Rebels by 15 goals in the final round. Will James and Daniel Scala are out, while overager Noah Answerth, Xavier O’Neill, Charlie Beasley, Matthew Day and Will Golds are back into the side to beef up the Chargers’ best 22. For the Jets, they have not made a change to their winning formula against Eastern Ranges last week, as Blake Colley, Jake Hazik and David Fruscalzo were named in an extended team.

Oakleigh Chargers

B: 3. J. Ayton-Delaney, 4. W. Kelly, 16. L. Westwood HB: 17. T. Bianco, 36. C. Beasley, 23. I. Quaynor C: 31. W.  Golds, 9. J.  Rowbottom, 11. M.  Rowell HF: 26. J. Gasper, 7. J. Robertson, 10. C. Whitehead F: 8. N. Anderson, 22. D. Williams, 13. A. Bosenavulagi R: 30. B. Wraith, 32. J. Ross, 12. N. Answerth Int: 1. R. Collier-Dawkins, 6. M. Day, 20. F. Elliot, 38. Z. Hart, 64. J. Jordon, 5. X. O’Neill, 33. M. Warren 23P: 44. W. Phillips

In: N. Answerth , X. O’Neill, C. Beasley, M. Day, W. Golds Out: W. James,  D. Scala

Western Jets

B: 48. A. Britten, 37. H. Murphy, 15. M. Hearne HB: 25. S. Johnson, 38. B. Khamis, 39. S. Radovanovic C: 17. D.  Andrews , 7. J.  Watkins, 20. D.  Cassar HF: 3. L. Failli, 31. E. Jeka, 24. J. Honey F: 10. S. Kyriazis, 45. A. Clarke, 49. D. Pantalleresco R: 47. D. Walters, 12. C. Thar, 33. X. O’Halloran Int: 18. B. Colley, 29. D. Fruscalzo, 1. J. Hazik, 22. O. Manton, 28. J. Papachatzakis, 6. L. Rocci, 2. T. Rudic 23P: 16. C. White

In: B. Colley, J. Hazik, D. Fruscalzo

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Elimination Finals  – Sunday, September 9, 1.30pm IKON Park, Carlton North

In the last elimination final of the weekend, both Sandringham Dragons and Murray Bushrangers have made at least three changes for Sunday’s match. Callum Jones, Nicholas Burke, Troy Brimble, Finn Maginness, Kai Owens and Jack Mahony have all been included in the extended side, while Jack Bell, Jeremy Goddard and Oscar McMaster are the three confirmed outs. For the Bushrangers, they are the only side to have named just 23 players this weekend, with Robert Paradzayi, Ben Kelly and Kai Davies all into the side for Rory Quinn, Cameron Wilson and Will Christie.

Sandringham Dragons

B: 18. A. Seaton, 69. C. Watts, 48. J. Worrell HB: 53. H. Ralphsmith, 52. C. Dean, 2. A. Richards C: 19. S.  Forbes, 8. K.  Owens, 12. C.  Jones HF: 66. R. Byrnes, 29. B. King, 23. A. Hanrahan F: 72. D. Chirgwin, 33. W. Kennedy, 27. J. Mahony R: 28. J. Rendell, 7. L. Stocker, 74. H. Reynolds Int: 13. T. Brimble, 51. N. Burke, 17. J. Denborough, 38. J. Le Grice , 26. F. Maginness, 61. F. McAsey, 11. N. Stamatis 23P: 35. G. Grey

In: C. Jones, N. Burke, T. Brimble, F. Maginness, K. Owens, J. Mahony Out: J. Bell,  J. Goddard,  O. McMaster

Murray Bushrangers

B: 11. E. Adams, 59. L. Fiore, 55. R. Paradzayi HB: 34. T. Boyd, 16. N. Murray, 19. J. Boyer C: 26. R.  Bice, 5. E.  Smith, 10. P.  Warner HF: 7. Z. Barzen, 2. J. Butts, 6. W. Chandler F: 12. L. Ash, 18. H. Garoni, 13. B. Frauenfelder R: 35. F. Bollinghaus, 9. M. Walker, 38. D. Clarke Int: 20. J. Bradshaw, 58. E. Hollands, 40. N. Irvine, 3. B. Kelly 23P: 50. K. Davies

In: R. Paradzayi, B. Kelly, K. Davies Out: R. Quinn, C. Wilson, W. Christie

2018 AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year announced

GIPPSLAND Power and Murray Bushrangers make up one third of the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year, with four nominees each in the side. Every side except Eastern Ranges is represented in the team, with minor premiers Dandenong Stingrays (three), Calder Cannons (two), Geelong Falcons (two), Northern Knights (two), Oakleigh Chargers (two) and Western Jets (two) all having multiple nominees. Bendigo Pioneers and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have one nominee in the starting team each.

Gippsland Power has plenty of talented bottom-agers, but its four National Combine invitees made our Team of the Year in 2018, lead by captain Xavier Duursma, over-ager Matthew McGannon, and bookends Kyle Reid and Noah Gown. Murray also had four nominees with key forward Hudson Garoni, reliable midfielder Ely Smith, the versatile Jordon Butts, and bottom-ager Lachlan Ash, all making the side. Dandenong Stingrays trio, Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman provide the ruck and forward depth, while captain Campbell Hustwaite has had a superb season.

Amongst the sides with dual nominations are Calder Cannons, with co-captain Mitch Podhajski and serial rebounder Lucas Cavallaro making the side after consistent seasons. Geelong Falcons co-captain Sam Walsh is no surprise in the team, captaining the team with teammate, Brayden Ham his vice-captain. GWV Rebels’ forward Charlie Wilson is the sole Rebel in the side, but his eight nominations – equal with Walsh and Ham – have earned him vice-captain with Ham.

Northern Knights duo, Tom McKenzie and Josh D’Intinosante have made the side, with McKenzie being a rare inclusion given he has missed a lot of football due to school commitments. But the football he has played, he has starred and has earned a place in the side. Oakleigh Chargers also have two nominees in the team despite most of their side missing at times, with Jack Ross and Trent Bianco impressing when at TAC Cup level, making the Team of the Year.

The remaining members of the best 24 are Western Jets duo, Xavier O’Halloran and Connor Thar, as well as the sole Bendigo Pioneers nominee, Noah Wheeler, who slots onto a half-back flank. Much like the All-Australian side, the three bottom-agers in Ash, Bianco and D’Intinosante have been named on the bench.

AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week nominations:

8: Brayden Ham, Sam Walsh, Charlie Wilson
7: Campbell Hustwaite, Ely Smith
6: Noah Gown, Mitch Podhajski, Noah Wheeler
5: Lachlan Ash, Xavier Duursma, Jack Ross, Connor Thar, Bailey Williams
4: Trent Bianco, Riley Bowman, Jordon Butts, Lachlan Cavallaro, Josh D’Intinosante, Hudson Garoni, Matthew McGannon, Tom McKenzie, Xavier O’Halloran, Kyle Reid, Liam Stocker

In the Second Team of the Year, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets all have three nominees each to fill out more than 60 per cent of the team. Dandenong Stingrays, Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons each have two nominees, while Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power and GWV Rebels have a sole nominee in each in the team. Bendigo Pioneers is the only side without a nominee in the Second Team of the Year.

Eastern Ranges’ Ben Cardamone is the only player with four Team of the Week nominations to miss out on the Team of the Year, so he captains the Second Team of the Year. There are five bottom-agers who have made the side, with Ryan Byrnes, Adam Carafa, Jye Chalcraft, Mitch Mellis and Sam Flanders all earning their places in the Second Team of the Year.

 

AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year 48-man squad announced

WITH the conclusion of the TAC Cup season, AFL Draft Central has released its 48-man squad for the TAC Cup Team of the Year. The AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year takes into account the top performers across the TAC Cup season, not incorporating any performances at school football or National Under 18 Championships, which is why some top-end stars that have missed most of the season through school football such as Bailey SmithNed McHenry and Ben King have not been included. In fact, just three players made the team from school football, with Tom McKenzie the most remarkable, making four Team of the Week nominations from six games, having played the least of any player.

For our TAC Cup Team of the Year, we will construct two 24-player squads with the Team of the Year, and the Second Team of the Year, rewarding all those who have performed strongly across the course of the season. The Team of the Year is worked out first and foremost by our TAC Cup Team of the Week nominations, with all players in the team having at least FOUR Team of the Week nominations. The Second Team of the Year squad is made up of players with between TWO and FOUR nominations.

In terms of club-by-club nominations, Murray Bushrangers has the most, with six players making the squad of 48, while top four sides, Dandenong Stingrays, Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers, all five. The Calder Cannons and Western Jets are also among the sides with five nominees each. Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights had four nominees, while Eastern Ranges and Sandringham Dragons had three each. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels (two) and Bendigo Pioneers (one) round out the remaining sides. The AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year will be announced on Friday.

ADC TAC CUP TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [1]: Noah Wheeler

Calder [5]: Lucas Cavallaro, Mitch Podhajski, Jake Riccardi, Lachlan Sholl, Curtis Taylor

Dandenong [5]: Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Campbell Hustwaite, Lachlan McDonnell, Bailey Williams

Eastern [3]: Ben Cardamone, Mitch Mellis, Kye Quirk

Geelong [4]: Brayden Ham, Baxter Mensch, Blake Schlensog, Sam Walsh

Gippsland [5]: Xavier Duursma, Sam Flanders, Noah Gown, Matthew McGannon, Kyle Reid

GWV [2]: Jed Hill, Charlie Wilson

Murray [6]: Lachlan Ash, Jordon Butts, Jye Chalcraft, Hudson Garoni, Ely Smith, Mathew Walker

Northern [4]: Adam Carafa, Josh D’Intinosante, Tom McKenzie, Stefan Uzelac

Oakleigh [5]: Trent Bianco, Jake Gasper, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, Jack Ross

Sandringham [3]: Ryan Byrnes, James Rendell, Liam Stocker

Western [5]: Buku Khamis, Xavier O’Halloran, Stefan Radovanovic, Connor Thar, Jack Watkins

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 16

IN the final round of the TAC Cup season, we glanced over three games live and took notes on some of the combine invitees, bottom-agers who represented Victoria at the National Under 18 Championships, or those who played in the Under 17 Futures game.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays:

By: James Goller

Sandringham:

#2 Alistair Richards

Worked hard all day on the outside, taking the game on and breaking the lines. Built on his performance from the week before and looked like he has hit form at the right time of the year. Could be one to watch in the finals series, giving run to Sandringham’s quality inside brigade.

#17 Liam Stocker

Stocker tried all day in the midfield with another impressive performance. He was in and under the packs all day and was explosive around the stoppages. He is really hard to tackle and is one of those players that puts their body on the line for the team. He kicked the ball well throughout the game and showcased his accuracy in one passage of play on the wing, hitting Ben King on the chest.

#28 James Rendell

Rendell has played all over the ground this season showing his versatility up forward and down back. He also showed that he could handle playing ruck as well and was faced with a big task against Bailey Williams and Bailey Schmidt. He had some really good passages of play kicking a solid goal and took a great contested mark. He also showed some defensive attributes to his game laying a goal saving smother to cap off his solid performance.

#29 Ben King

Was kept fairly quiet by Matt Cumming only managing the one goal for the match. However it was really hard to be a forward for Sandringham with the ball stuck up the other end for the majority of the game. He showed great agility and was better in the second half, having more impact around the ground and taking a couple of good strong marks.

 

Dandenong:

#12 Matthew Gahan

Played down back and is a real honest player. He is really solid one-on-one and took a couple of strong marks throughout the game. He is a tough player and rebounded strongly using his run and carry to move the ball forward. He had a few turnovers but showed that he is definitely one to watch in the finals.

#15 Toby Bedford

Bedford was another strong contributor for the Stingrays and showcased his speed across the ground breaking away from stoppages and bursting forward. He imposed himself on the contest and put a solid amount of pressure on his opponents.

#28 Bailey Schmidt

Split the ruck load 60-40 between Bailey Williams. What was really good about his game was his attack in the contest. He laid a couple of strong tackles and as soon as the ball hit the ground he wanted to apply pressure and win the footy back for his side showing great desperation.

#29 Bailey Williams

Played really well and found himself at centre-half forward and in the ruck. He showed great agility when the ball hit the ground and was really strong in the contest. Williams took a couple of really strong marks and proved that he is hard to beat in a one-on-one up forward. He kicked two goals for the day and when he was in the ruck he was dominant.

#59 Sam Sturt

Sturt really impressed up forward, kicking three good goals. But it was his agility and explosive speed that was really eye catching helping to create play across the ground. He had really good hands in the contest and was able to find space when there was none. He also laid a couple of strong tackles. Looking forward to his finals series.

 

Geelong vs. Calder

By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

Had a typical performance on the day, winning a truckload of the ball and laying tackle after tackle. He used his agility to sidestep opponents and his smarts to avoid tackles, while also laying his own defensive pressure on bigger bodies. He had a shot on goal in the second term from the pocket that just missed, then McHenry set up Ben Morton with an easy goal via a handball. He set up another goal with an elite penetrating kick to Baxter Mensch on the 50m line. McHenry had a shot on goal in the third term but was pulled down as he kicked it and went out on the full. A great run-down tackle in defence and then subsequent rebound, lead to an end-to-end goal.

#20 Brayden Ham

Played up both ends, and managed to impress in both roles. He pushed up the ground when coming off half-back and gave some great kicks inside 50, including to the leading Connor Idun early on. He has that real exhilarating first few steps that can burn off an opponent, and can do it all day long credit to his stamina. He had a couple of shots on the run that were a little rushed, but his set shots were consistent, nailing one goal and being that high impact player up forward. One of the Falcons’ best once again. Worked hard all game and showed some good game smarts and positioning in the marking contest.

#22 Sam Walsh

Just another ‘wow’ performance from the potential number one pick. He covered the ground everywhere, had the ball on a string and was the clear best on ground in my opinion. Some of his highlights include a perfect kick under pressure to run laterally away from an opponent and kick across his body to the leading Connor Idun; changing his kicking motion when going inside 50 to pull the kick and put it best to his teammates’ advantage; and providing a low dart inside 50 to a sliding teammate. Buzzed around all day, copped several knocks and kept getting back up. A 10/10 performance.

#30 Oscar Brownless

Really busy start, got involved in everything and had some really nice moments throughout the game. In the third term he lowered the eyes and put in a dart to the leading Brayden Ham to set him up with a goal. He then got on the scoreboard himself with a long bomb from the 50m line.

#36 Charlie Sprague

First game back from injury and the medium tall forward stood up with three goals. Sprague could have had as many as five had it not been for a couple of misses, but got on the board early with an important snap. His next set shot he hit the behind post, and had a quiet second term before booting two goals, one behind, from set shots in the third quarter.

#39 Connor Idun

Idun booted the one goal, but presented out on long leads, providing options for his midfielders. It was one of his better forward games, because even though he missed opportunities with set shots, he created opportunities and space to open up through his leading. Idun had a strong set of hands and in the first term was able to cleanly take a loose ball in the air and handball inboard to Cooper Stephens, and also had great vision to kick across the forward 50 to Ned McHenry in the second term, who set up Ben Morton for a goal with a handball. After a number of attempts, Idun got on the board with a major in the final term with a set shot goal.

#41 Cooper Stephens

Stephens is developing into a really nice prospect for next year, with clean footskills and super composure with ball-in hand. He is able to move smoothly in close and his vision and ability to turn on a dime, such as he did in the second term before giving off the handball to a teammate, was fantastic. He did have a chance to capitalise with a goal from outside 50, but his shot went wide to the left. One of the best Falcons on the day.

 

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Played along the wing and showed some nice acceleration out of stoppages. He had a shot on goal in the final term, but it hit the post. The bottom-ager showed some nice highlights throughout. One of Calder’s best on the day, and combined well with West working hard on the outside.

#5 Curtis Taylor

A quieter game for Taylor, but he had a real purple patch in the final term, booting two last quarter goals and had a highlight-reel mark over Ned McHenry, intercepting a kick-in. Can float in and out at times, but has that natural talent that make people take notice.

#8 Lachlan Sholl

Contributed strongly across the four quarters, teaming up well with Rhylee West twice in the first quarter to hand him a goal and then unfortunately a behind, with pinpoint passes. He also delivered a nice pass in the second term to Josh Kemp running hard, but the shot on goal missed. Was composed coming out of defence.

#10 Harrison Minton-Connell

Kicked two goals on the day and had an impact as that half-forward player. Does not win a heap of the football, but made the most of his opportunities when they came around.

#20 Rhylee West

Calder’s best player for mine, was dominant up forward, booting two goals in the opening term and finishing with three majors. He has a really solid set shot technique, kicking through the ball. His second goal was very impressive, reading the stoppage well, his teammates blocked his opponent and he cleanly grabbed the ball and snapped truly. Worked hard on the inside winning plenty of it, but did his most damaging work up forward. Took a great grab in the final term to kick his third goal, going up for the mark then having to move in mid air to the left and clunk the grab.

#27 Tye Browning

Started opposed to Sam Walsh and won a couple of early touches, laying a terrific run-down tackle on Ned McHenry. He was not as busy after that big opening term, but still was involved, winning some quick handballs around the ground and kicked long when given the opportunity.

#30 Mitch Podhajski

A really consistent four-quarter effort. Did not dominate, but always buzzed around and covered the ground well. He has that huge penetrating kick that can clear zones and worry opposition defenders when kicking inside 50. He stands tall in marking contests, is composed under pressure and is smart up forward. He kicked a goal with a perfectly read ball drop from a marking contest to snap round his body. He also showed good vision and hands in traffic and is the master of that 20m handball to the outside running teammate. Podhajski kicked a second goal late in the final term.

#57 Josh Kemp

Presented throughout the game, but did not end up getting on the board for a goal. Had a few chances, most noticeably in the second term when he took a mark, and his set shot went to the right. Continually pushed up the ground and presented as an option, and can weigh his kicks well.

 

GWV Rebels vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Peter Williams

GWV:

#6 Charlie Wilson

Wilson was productive early, winning his fair share of contested ball and getting his hands on the pill at stoppages. He laid a great tackle on Matt Warren inside forward 50 to lock the ball in and did so again in the second term at half-back on another opponent. Did not end up kicking a goal, but was playing forward when the Rebels forwards were starved for opportunities in the second half.

#14 Jed Hill

Easily the Rebels best plyer on the day, he showed off his electrifying vertical leap, taking some great grabs and earning some attention from Oakleigh defenders. He booted the only two Rebels goals of the first term – one from a courageous mark and then set shot, and a second from a forward stoppage snap off the deck. Had a third chance not long after from a set shot after finding space, but missed that. He took a big mark early in the second term and nailed the set goal, then produced a fantastic run-down tackle at half-forward to force his opponent to kick out on the full. Played further up the ground in the second half, and did come off at one stage after copping a knock in a tackle, but went back onto the field, and even into the middle.

#24 Matty Lloyd

The highest possession winner for the Rebels again, Lloyd constantly spread to the outside looking to create some run from half-back. He would often roost long to the wing, or play on and try and get distance on his kick to break the Oakleigh zone. Had an ambitious shot in the final term from the boundary line near 50m out but could not convert the opportunity.

Oakleigh:

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

Did all his best work on the inside, working hard for his possessions and getting some quick fire handballs out to his running teammates. Showed strength when being tackled, getting his arms free and handballing to teammates. Finished with seven clearances, four of which were centre bounce clearances.

#4 Will Kelly

Played a multitude of roles on smalls and talls, back and forward. He took on Jed Hill and Josh Chatfield early, then moved onto the taller Tylar Watts. In the second half, he moved forward and found space to take an easy mark and convert, and then take a strong contested grab in the goal square and make it two from two. Was composed when at half-back and set them up well.

#8 Noah Anderson

Remarkable that Oakleigh can play Anderson as a pure forward – such is their midfield strength, but he just gets the job done each week, booting three goals and constantly looking damaging. He has great smarts around goal and up the field and is composed by hand or foot.

#9 James Rowbottom

One of Oakleigh’s best, Rowbottom played a typical inside game, working really hard and using his strength to outmuscle his smaller Rebels opponents. Along with Jack Ross and Riley Collier-Dawkins, the trio had their way in the middle, dominating the clearances and he was working well with Bailey Wraith, and kicking long out of stoppages.

#11 Matt Rowell

The bottom-age midfielder was one of the more impressive players across the four quarters, having a big third term and was one of the reasons Oakleigh kicked away in the premiership quarter. He had a standing shot on goal in the quarter but it hit the post. Rowell was strong standing up in a mark in the same term, was spoiled but held his balance to regain the ball and kick long. He has a perfect tackling technique, earning himself a free by locking the arm of an opponent.

#13 Atu Bosenavulagi

One of his best games for the season and was ever present up forward. He missed a couple of gettable chances, but nailed three goals and was good in the air, taking some clean grabs. He is really strong one-on-one and worked hard up the ground.

#17 Trent Bianco

Opposed to Jed Hill early at times, Bianco went more into the midfield in the second half and found the ball with ease, racking up 15 of his 24 touches in the second half. He has a nice penetrating kick and great vision, using the ball well and working in transition to get the ball up the ground.

#22 Dylan Williams

One of the key architects early in the game when it was hot. Set up a number of scoring opportunities, and booted a goal himself. Was quiet in the second half, but was best on in the first term and the reason why Oakleigh held an early lead.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Got amongst it early in the game when the Chargers defence was under pressure at times, used his composure and smarts to take his chances and try and springboard off half-back. He peeled off his opponent and would become a spoiler in the back half, laying a number of good tackles. In the second half, in particular the last quarter, Quaynor did not see much of the action, camped in the defensive 50.

#26 Jake Gasper

A quiet first half with just a couple of shots on goal. The first fell short and Bailey Wraith capitalised, with the second also just missing. The second half, Gasper came alive as Oakleigh controlled the game, taking a number of marks inside 50, and was one of the more influential players. His usual dead-eye goal kicking was not on target on the day, pushing a couple of shots to the left, but set up a goal for Atu Bosenavulagi with an inboard kick and did finish with one major.

#32 Jack Ross

A workman-like performance from Ross who still found plenty of the ball, often looking for the quick handball to a running teammate. He was prominent at the stoppages and just played his role throughout the four quarters. In the second term he kicked a long-range goal from a set shot when he marked after drifting inside 50 all by himself.

#64 James Jordan

The winger showed good hands under pressure and a willingness to take the game on. It did not always work out perfectly, but more often than not he used the ball well, and would opt for the one-two play, or the handball receive and kick inside 50. He was the player that teammates looked for to pinpoint a pass inside 50.

 

Around the Grounds:

Gippsland Power vs. Eastern Ranges

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders – Had 21 disposals, eight inside 50s, six tackles, but missed some opportunities with 1.4.

#5 Xavier Duursma – Had another consistent game with 21 disposals (71 per cent efficiency), five clearances, three inside 50s and two goals to wrap up a really solid top-age season.

#23 Noah Gown – In remarkable form and booted another four goals from 20 disposals and eight marks, just keeps on impressing in the second half of the season.

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton – Recorded a team-high eight clearances from 21 disposals and an impressive eight tackles. The bottom-ager has been strong all year with his defensive pressure and that continued on the weekend.

#23 Xavier Fry – Knows how to break the lines and rebound out of the back half and that is what he did, finishing with seven rebounds to go with his 24 disposals and five marks.

#31 James Blanck – The Ranges big man provided the second most rebounds for his side, finishing with five, as well as 13 disposals and two marks.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Western Jets

Bendigo:

#4 Jye Caldwell – All eyes were on Caldwell as he made his return in Bendigo colours since early in the year, and he did not disappoint with 19 disposals (84 per cent efficiency), four marks and four clearances in a solid performance.

#8 Brodie Kemp – The bottom-age tall put in a promising performance with 21 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds.

Western:

#17 Daly Andrews – Continued his good form of late, named in Western’s best for his 26 disposals, nine marks, six inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, covering the ground well.

#18 Buku Khamis – Solid as a rock in defence, having seven rebounds to go with his 18 disposals and six marks, one player who will be pivotal in determining how deep the Jets go in finals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran – After missing last week due to his school football commitments, the skipper hit back with a big performance, racking up 25 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four clearances, 10 inside 50s and a goal.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights

Murray:

#2 Jordon Butts – The Rookie Me Combine invitee was one of the best on the ground, picking up 21 disposals (66 per cent efficiency), seven marks and six inside 50s, roaming around the ground showing off his athleticism and versatility.

#5 Ely Smith – The ever-consistent midfielder returned from the Victorian Football League (VFL) and had another strong performance, winning 18 disposals, four clearances and five inside 50s, while also capping off the game with a goal. Performs strongly at any level.

#12 Lachlan Ash – The bottom-age rebounder just continues to excite, having five rebounds from 17 disposals and five marks. While all of his possessions were uncontested, he finds space and takes the game on with some eye-catching runs. Kicked a goal too.

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie – A solid game for the National Combine invitee, picking up 15 disposals, four marks (two contested), two clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds, covering the ground well.

#17 Josh D’Intinosante – The exciting forward has added the midfield string to his bow in the second half of the season and just knows how to hurt opposing teams when going inside 50. He had another seven inside-50 entries to go with 18 disposals, five marks and 1.1.

#30 Justin McInerney – Named the Knights’ best on the day, McInerney had arguably his best performance of the year, racking up 24 disposals (83 per cent efficiency), two inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal.

 

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 15

TAC Cup football is back and with two rounds left, the end of the season is near. For the penultimate round of action there are some big guns back, while others head out to play the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final on the MCG tomorrow.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Round 15 – Saturday, August 18, 10am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

In the opening game of the round, two top four sides go head-to-head in a season-defining clash for both teams. Gippsland will lock away second spot with a victory, while Murray will need to win to put itself in the best position for a top four position as Oakleigh Chargers sit just two points adrift of the Bushrangers. The Power has only had the two losses this season, with two draws in season 2018 – against Calder Cannons and Northern Knights. It will be a good opportunity for the Power to grab the four points as the Bushrangers have a number of key outs. The side has lost Kyle Clarke and Jacob Koschitzke to injury, as well as Ely Smith to the VFL. The previous two head-to-head clashes between the teams have also gone the way of the Power, winning both by more than seven goals. Gippsland come into the game in good form coming off a victory against the Chargers. With Noah Gown and Fraser Phillips causing headaches up forward, Xavier Duursma in midfield and Kyle Reid in defence, they will be tough to beat. Their bottom-age brigade of Riley Baldi, Josh Smith and Brock Smith among others form a strong group, but Murray is a side that can topple anyone on its day. Hudson Garoni and Jye Chalcraft are always capable to creating scoring opportunities, while Jordon Butts is a very handy inclusion, patrolling the airways and finding plenty of the football. Jimmy Boyer, Willson Mack and Will Chandler are just a handful of talented bottom-agers for the Bushrangers who could have an impact against the Power. Gippsland head into the game as deserving favourites, but you can never write-off the Bushrangers.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 15 – Saturday, August 18, 12.30pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The midfield battle between Geelong Falcons and Dandenong Stingrays is poised to be a battle within a battle. Sam Walsh, Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless will go head-to-head against the likes of Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Finlay Bayne, while Baxter Mensch and Cooper Stephens rotate through there, as will the likes of Zac Foot and Jamie Plumridge. Dandenong’s advantage has always been in the ruck, with Bailey Schmidt joining Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams between there and the key forward posts. The Falcons are in great form after a big win last round and will love the challenge of testing themselves against the benchmark in this game. For the Stingrays, they’re not in so much good form as they have never been in anything other than good form this season, dropping just the one game – by a kick no less. Now they travel up to MARS Stadium with top spot locked up, and will look to have a good win against the side that knocked the Stingrays out of the finals series last year. Expect this game to be a cracker and the likes of Dane Hollenkamp, Connor Idun and Blake Schlensog to have their work cut out against quality talls, while Brayden Ham continues to impress by hitting the scoreboard on a regular basis. Up the other end, Toby Bedford is sure to cause a few headaches with his tackling pressure and goal nous.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 15 – Saturday, August 18, 3pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The final game up in Ballarat is a battle between the country rivals in Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Bendigo Pioneers. The teams have played twice, with the head-to-head split one each. The Pioneers won the round one game by a point coming home strongly in the final term, before the Rebels accounted for them in the next clash. With the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final on at the MCG, the GWV Rebels’ depth will be tested, making at least 10 changes to their line-up, losing the likes of Scott Carlin, Matty Lloyd, Lochie Dawson, Josh Chatfield and Izaac Grant among others, while Tom Berry is of course out for the season through injury. For the Pioneers, they have strengthened their line-up massively with the inclusions of bottom-age tall Brodie Kemp, brothers Flynn and Oscar Perez, and the ever-consistent Bailey Henderson. If there was a game the Pioneers would go in as favourites despite being bottom of the ladder, it would be this one. Spectators will get a great indication of the strength of the Rebels’ depth, while also seeing if the Pioneers can utilise their speed and bottom-age talent to get the job done. While Jye Caldwell is still not out on the park, the Pioneers go in with one of their strongest line-ups this season and will back their chances here. GWV Rebels’ forward Charlie Wilson has been named in the middle, with he and Jed Hill the keys to putting scores on the board with so many outs in the team. Mitch Martin showed some great signs in the Under 17 Futures game and has a big opportunity in the midfield here, while Harris Jennings and Ben Annett are others who have shown signs throughout the season this year.

 

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 15 – Sunday, August 19, 10am
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

Moving to the Sunday games, two sides in the bottom half of the eight do battle with Western Jets hosting Northern Knights. Captain Xavier O’Halloran will swap Avalon Airport Oval for the MCG when he runs out for St Bernards in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final. His leadership is a big loss on-field and with Zak Butters out for the year, the Jets will look to their strong inside midfield of Connor Thar, Jack Watkins and Jaden Rice to win the footy at the coal face and distribute to their runners on the outside in Stefan Radovanovic and Daly Andrews. Northern welcomes back its captain Braedyn Gillard after a long-term lay-off due to injury. He is one of a number of crucial inclusions along with Oscar White and Lachlan Potter in defence, and Josh D’Intinosante up forward. Tom Hallebone will be a loss in the ruck, especially against Darren Walters, but the Knights will back themselves in against the Jets’ midfielders with Adam Carafa in good form, and Justin McInerney and Ryan Gardner providing good run on the outside. This is expected to be a great contest and important in the scheme of finals. While the Knights cannot make top four and the Jets need all the luck in the world, positioning in the bottom half of the eight is still important because it determines their opponents in the Wildcard Round. Both sides are well coached, well drilled line-ups so expect a hard fought battle and no-one giving an inch across the four quarters.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 15 – Sunday, August 19, 12.30pm
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

In the middle game, Eastern Ranges will be hoping to bring its A-game against a Calder Cannons team that keeps getting the job done each week. The Cannons lose a number of players to the St Bernards team in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final, but welcome back top 30 draft prospect Rhylee West, forward Josh Kemp and Vic Metro representative Jack Evans among others. Eastern also has a number of inclusions, as Lachlan Stapleton and Caleb Quirk strengthen the side in their bid to upset the Cannons in this clash. Calder’s choice of overagers this year has been very clever with Mitch Podhajski patrolling the midfield, Daniel Hanna strengthening the defence and Jake Riccardi providing a reliable target up forward. Curtis Taylor provides the X-factor up forward and Lucas Cavallaro continues to rebound the ball at will, and are two players Eastern has to keep under wraps. For the Ranges, the midfield of Kye Quirk, Mitch Mellis, Adrian Kalcovski and Stapleton is a consistent core, they just need more out of the next tier. Key defender, James Blanck will have an important role in defence for the Ranges, while Billy McCormack will keep a Cannons defender accountable up the other end. In the earlier match between these two teams, Calder got the job done under lights at RAMS Arena in chilly conditions. With the weather hit and miss this weekend, the Cannons will be hoping for a similar result.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 15 – Sunday, August 19, 3pm
Avalon Airport Oval (Chirnside Park), Werribee

The last game of the round is arguably the best, with everyone looking forward to practically full-strength Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons outfits going head-to-head in a battle between two genuine premiership contenders. Earlier in the year prior to his knee injury, Max King had a day out with eight majors against the Chargers at RAMS Arena in the Dragons’ come-from-behind win. This time around, it could be twin brother Ben who will hope to repeat the feat, with Will Kelly playing in defence this time around and a likely opponent for King. The Dragons are still missing captain Bailey Smith to injury, but Liam Stocker, Ryan Byrnes and Darcey Chirgwin is a strong core on the inside, while Alastair Richards and Angus Hanrahan provide good run and skill up either end. Draft watchers will get a first look at Harry Reynolds who makes his debut in Dragons colours, similar to Nathan Murphy last season – rewarded for school football form with a TAC Cup debut. Will Kennedy has been named forward with James Rendell in the ruck which should keep the Chargers’ talls busy. Oakleigh has its own top-end talent and depth which will test the Dragons outfit. Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco is a ridiculously good small defensive trio, while Riley Collier-Dawkins, James Rowbottom, Jack Ross, Will Golds and Matt Rowell in the middle is as strong as it has been all season. They do not have the key position forwards Sandringham do at the top-end, but with Will James coming in from APS football and Dylan Williams and Noah Anderson capable of kicking multiple goals, it is likely to result in an absolute classic.

The run home: Geelong Falcons

REIGNING premiers Geelong Falcons have found themselves outside the eight this season, registering four wins from 14 games. Missing many of their top-agers due to Vic Country duties, the Falcons have been up-and-down at times, but when full-strength, have challenged the top sides. They have a strong midfield when it’s on song, and have been able to watch a number of bottom-age players develop through the season, while looming as a danger side for any team in the remainder of the season.

Wins: 4
Losses: 10
Draws: 0
Position: 10th
Points For: 771 (10th)
Points Against: 974 (7th)
Percentage: 79
Points: 16

Fixtures:

R15: vs. Dandenong Stingrays – MARS Stadium
R16: vs. Calder Cannons – MARS Stadium

National Combine Invitations: [5] Oscar Brownless, Connor Idun, Ned McHenry, Charlie Sprague, Sam Walsh

State Combine Invitations: [1] Brayden Ham

Rookie Me Combine Invitations: [1] Sam Conway

The Falcons face two tough teams in the final fortnight up against the Stingrays and Calder, but both could be wins, or both could be losses. It is hard to say with their stars back on the park, and when Sam Walsh is out there, anything can happen. The likes of Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless form a strong midfield core, while Brayden Ham has been a revelation this season at both ends, and Charlie Sprague has been a huge loss up forward. Baxter Mensch keeps finding the football, while Connor Idun and Dane Hollenkamp have held down the defence with Cooper Cartledge. They could face any number of teams in the Wildcard Round from the Western Jets, Calder Cannons or Northern Knights, but one thing is for sure – they are one bottom four side no team will particularly want to play in the run to the finals.

Top Fives:

Disposals:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 309 (4th overall)
2 – Sam Walsh – 268
3 – Brayden Ham – 220
4 – Oscar Brownless – 206
5 – Doyle Madigan – 199

Marks:

1 – Brayden Ham – 71 (8th overall)
2 – Baxter Mensch – 52
2 – Blake Schlensog – 52
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 43
5 – Sam Torpy – 41

Contested Possessions:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 154 (3rd overall)
2 – Ben Morton – 100
3 – Sam Walsh – 98
4 – Brayden Ham – 87
5 – Doyle Madigan – 87

Tackles:

1 – Ben Morton – 84 (5th)
2 – Doyle Madigan – 69
2 – Oscar Brownless – 69
4 – Baxter Mensch – 46
5 – Logan Taylor – 44

Hitouts:

1 – Sam Conway – 161 (10th overall)
2 – Blake Schlensog – 117
3 – Jack Grigsby – 95
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 30
5 – Thomas Richardson – 29

Clearances:

1 – Baxter Mensch – 55 (8th overall)
2 – Ben Morton – 43
3 – Oscar Brownless – 40
4 – Sam Walsh – 30
5 – Doyle Madigan – 29
5 – Ed McHenry – 29

Inside 50s:

1 – Brayden Ham – 45 (eq. 17th overall)
1 – Sam Torpy – 45 (eq. 17th overall)
3 – Baxter Mensch – 41
4 – Sam Walsh – 35
5 – Oscar Brownless – 34

Rebounds:

1 – Charlie Harris – 40 (eq. 8th overall)
2 – Keidan Rayner – 30
3 – Cooper Cartledge – 28
4 – Dane Hollenkamp – 27
5 – Jesse Clark – 25

Goals:

1 – Brayden Ham – 19 (eq. 5th overall)
2 – Blake Schlensog – 10
3 – Sam Torpy – 8
4 – Connor Idun – 7
5 – Oscar Brownless – 6
5 – Baxter Mensch – 6
5 – Fletcher Wilson – 6

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 13

TAC Cup action returns this weekend with all 12 teams back at it. While some are understrength due to school football, the ladder is taking shape as just four rounds remain in the competition ahead of the new addition of a wildcard round after Round 16.

EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 12pm
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill

The opening game of the round pits two bottom four sides against each other, with the Rebels able to draw within four points of the eighth placed Northern Knights if they can win, while Eastern can draw level with Geelong Falcons and within two points of the Rebels if they can take home the four points. Eastern’s midfield has been relatively settled this year, with Joel Burleigh, Kye Quirk, Adrian Kalcovski and Mitch Mellis all busy through the middle, while Ben Cardamone and Xavier Fry have proved important in the back half. James Blanck‘s return to the side in the past week has settled the defence down, while in attack, the return of Thomas Lockman combining with Billy McCormack should provide some targets up front. For the Rebels, they have beefed up their attack, bringing in Tylar Watts and Josh Chatfield, making for an even more damaging forward line with the likes of Jed Hill, Charlie Wilson and Izaac Grant set to cause headaches for Eastern’s defence. While the half-back line of Scott Carlin and Matty Lloyd provides good rebound. It’s a 50/50 game with Eastern having the home ground advantage.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 1pm
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta

In arguably the match of the round, Murray Bushrangers hosts Western Jets up in Wangaratta where two of the top inside midfielders will go head-to-head in Ely Smith and Xavier O’Halloran. There are fantastic one-on-ones across the field with the likes of Jacob Koschitzke taking Emerson Jeka, Buku Khamis potentially lining up on Hudson Garoni, and Hamish Murphy going head-to-head with Zane Barzen. Both sides pride themselves on contested ball and speed from half-back, so it is likely to be an entertaining contest of end-to-end football. Jaden Rice is a crucial loss for the Jets on this road trip, but they have plenty of depth through the midfield, and potency up forward with Darcy Cassar, Aaron Clarke and Steven Kyriazis being sources of scoreboard pressure. Murray arguably have the best forward line in the league with Jordon Butts joining Barzen and Garoni, while Jye Chalcraft and Bailey Frauenfelder are always damaging. If the Bushrangers win they will retain third spot, while the Jets could leap frog both Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers with favourable results in other games if they take home the points.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 13 – Saturday, July 28, 2pm
Preston City Oval, Preston

Another important top eight clash tomorrow is that between the Northern Knights and Gippsland Power. The Knights sit eighth with an eight-point buffer, but will be keen to have another win and upset the Power. The Power sit in second spot, but Murray Bushrangers are hot on their heels and with the finals approaching, a top four spot is at a premium. Last time these two sides played it was a draw at Morwell Recreation Reserve after Irving Mosquito kicked a goal in the dying seconds. Mosquito is in the team again to cause some serious headaches, while Tyrone Hayes also returns to provide some speed around the ground. Noah Gown is fresh off a five-goal haul and will be keen to impress once again at full-forward, while Sam Flanders and Austin Hodge know how to hit the scoreboard. For the Knights, they have Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier who consistently find goals, while Harrison Grace is an important inclusion at half-forward, with he and James Lucente capable of creating opportunities in the front half. Tom McKenzie and Lachlan Potter will provide plenty of run off half-back, while Matthew McGannon will look to continue his strong form from last week to carry over into this important game. Gippsland will head in as favourites, but the Knights have the speed and talent to cause an upset at home.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 11.30am
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

An early Sunday game at RAMS Arena is set to provide a treat with an almost full-strength Dandenong side taking on a Calder team with Curtis Taylor back in the side. Dandenong seem to be the clear benchmark this season and will go in as strong favourites, but Calder have matched it with most sides this year and have caused a number of upsets. Opposing captains Campbell Hustwaite and Mitch Podhajski could go head-to-head in the middle, both capable of running both ways and working hard to help their team gain momentum. The speed of the Stingrays might trouble the Cannons, with Zac Foot and Jai Taylor providing plenty of outside run, while Will Hamill and Sam Fletcher provide the inside hands. Bailey Williams is a monster in the air, and Riley Bowman and the returning Bailey Schmidt will push the Cannons for height. Daniel Hanna could be handed the job on Williams, while Lucas Cavallaro and Lachlan Sholl will look to be the ones rebounding from defence. Taylor is a hard match-up for any opposition up forward, and could go head-to-head with potential number one pick in 2019, Hayden Young. The Stingrays seem almost assured of the minor premiership this season, but the wind at RAMS Arena always throws up a few surprises, while the Cannons can go outright seventh with breathing space if the Power defeat the Knights.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 1pm
Central Reserve, Colac

Out in the south west, Geelong Falcons will look to take advantage of mass changes for Oakleigh to snatch a win in the Falcons’ home away from home in Colac. While Ned McHenry is a big loss for the Falcons, the Chargers will have to overcome wholesale changes with players heading back to school football. Sam Walsh, Oscar Brownless and Cooper Stephens will still have a fascinating battle in midfield, with Riley Collier-Dawkins, Xavier O’Neill and Noah Answerth, while Oakleigh’s dominant forward line still has serious threats with bottom-agers Noah Anderson and Dylan Williams down there, as well as over-ager Matthew Day and top-ager Jake Gasper who have both booted bags of goals this season – Gasper last week. The strength in attack means Oakleigh will be a danger if they can control the midfield, while Geelong can control play if they win the contested ball. Connor Idun and Dane Hollenkamp will look to contain the forwards, while Brayden Ham is back at half-back where he will try and provide both offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. Up forward, Blake Schlensog provides a target, while Baxter Mensch and Jay Dahlhaus are others who can find the ball and keep it moving forward. Despite the changes and the home ground advantage, Oakleigh would be rightfully favourites in this game, but Geelong pushed Sandringham Dragons all the way last round and will be hoping for a repeat effort this week.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Round 13 – Sunday, July 29, 2.30pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

In the final game of the round, Sandringham Dragons will take on Bendigo Pioneers in what should be a close game on paper. The Dragons will rightfully head in as favourites, but any time a team makes 17 changes is always going to present challenges. The Pioneers have remained relatively stable and welcomed James Schischka back into the side. While the Dragons have plenty of depth and still some serious talent around the field, they will look to their next tier of players to step up in front of a home crowd. Liam Stocker will look to build on his great form of late since returning from injury, while James Rendell is back in the team to provide a tall target up front. Jai Florent and Tyson Milne are small forwards who create opportunities at ground level, while Corey Watts and Ryan Byrnes are others who have shown good signs throughout the season. For the Pioneers, Jacob Atley provides good speed and effort out of defence, and will combine well with Schischka back there. Noah Wheeler, Hunter Lawrence and Liam Marciano are always involved, while Oscar and Flynn Perez provide some excitement up forward and on the outside. A win to Sandringham could see them move past Murray into third spot, while a loss could see them drop back as far as sixth. The Pioneers can get off the bottom of the TAC Cup table with a win here.

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 12a

THREE games, three action packed matches of TAC Cup to watch this weekend. With one game at Warrawee Park tomorrow and a double-header at Mars Stadium, there are two venues to pick from as Round 12 gets underway.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 12 – Saturday, July 14, 11am
Warrawee Park, Oakleigh

In the opening game of the split round, Oakleigh Chargers welcome back a ridiculous amount of talent into the line-up. Joe Ayton-Delaney, Will Kelly and Noah Answerth will strengthen the defence, while Riley Collier-Dawkins, Matt Rowell and James Rowbottom do the same in midfield, and Noah Anderson and Atu Bosenavulagi in attack. The quality across the board is really strong and if they will be a tough side to beat in this clash. However, Calder have some serious talent returning too, with potential top 30 duo Rhylee West and Jack Bytel to really strengthen the midfield and the battle between the Cannons pair, and Collier-Dawkins and Rowbottom on-ball will be one to watch. The in-form Daniel Mott and the ever-consistent Mitch Podhajski means the midfield is an area where Calder will hold its own against Oakleigh and create some genuine interest in seeing which team can win the contested ball and clearances. Daniel Hanna and Jake Riccardi are bookends that have also been in form for the Cannons, while Jack Ross and Trent Bianco are in strong form for the Chargers. Oakleigh will naturally head into this game as strong favourites given the ins, but Calder would back themselves in if they can nullify the midfield and get first opportunity to their forwards.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 12 – Sunday, July 15, 11:30am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

In the early game on Sunday, the GWV Rebels host the Northern Knights at Mars Stadium. The Rebels have lost Tom Berry who will be missed through the midfield, while Tylar Watts will miss his first game of the year. It means Patrick Glanford will do the rucking against Vic Metro ruck Tom Hallebone – who returns to the side – and bottom-age talent Nathan Howard. The Knights have also welcomed back clearance gun Tom McKenzie who is a much-needed inclusion to the side, named at half-back where he has been playing for Metro. In the middle, Josh D’Intinosante, Brody Bell and Kye Yodgee have the on-ball spots, while Justin McInerney and Oscar White are those named on the wings. McKenzie, Stefan Uzelac and bottom-ager Lachlan Potter form an imposing half-back line, while James Lucente and Sunny Brazier add different elements to the forward line. For the Rebels, Charlie Wilson, Elliott Lamb and Scott Carlin form a strong midfield that will match it with Northern’s on-ball brigade, while Jed Hill and Izaac Grant know how to find the goals. Ben Dodd has been impressive since coming into the side, and he and Harris Jennings add good depth to the Rebels’ midfield. Northern head in as favourites for this clash, but being at home in freezing Ballarat, expect the Rebels to be in with a real shot, especially after last time where they looked to have the game won, but faded away late.

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 12 – Sunday, July 15, 2pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

In the third and final game of the round, Geelong Falcons host Sandringham Dragons in what should be a fantastic match to watch. Geelong’s triple threat midfield of Sam Walsh, Ned McHenry and Oscar Brownless return to the fold, against a midfield of Liam Stocker, Harry Houlahan and Alastair Richards. The Falcons will also welcome Brayden Ham back to his new-found role at half-back, joining Connor Idun, Dane Hollenkamp and Cooper Cartledge as rocks in the back half. They will compete against the likes of James Rendell, Jack Denborough, Jack Mahony and Angus Hanrahan who provide many elements to the forward 50 for the Dragons. Kai Owens has been named at centre half-back replacing Corey Watts there, and will team up with the in-form Will Kennedy. Anthony Seaton and Nicholas Stamatis are also in defence, and will match up against the likes of McHenry, Jay Dahlhaus and Blake Schlensog, while Cooper Stephens and Baxter Mensch hold up the midfield with Walsh rotating forward. The match is a really hard one to pick, with both teams strengthened by the inclusions. Sandringham have shown this season they have more depth than Geelong, but the top-end talent for the Falcons returning is very impressive. A real 50/50 game here.

Team of the Week: TAC Cup – Round 9

THREE clubs have dominated the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week for Round 9. Almost half of the best 22 from the round have come from the Murray Bushrangers (four), Geelong Falcons (three) and Northern Knights (three). Dandenong Stingrays, Sandringham Dragons and Western Jets all have two nominees in the team, while a record six clubs – Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Oakleigh Chargers – all having the one nominee in the side.

The forward line firepower is unbelievable for Round 9, with 29 goals kicked between the six starting forwards. Clubhouse leader Izaac Grant booted seven in a losing side for the GWV Rebels, while Jordon Butts booted six in Murray’s big win over Bendigo Pioneers. Fellow Bushrangers tall, Tom Boyd, has made the team at centre half-back, while Ely Smith (rover) and Jye Chalcraft (interchange) have also squeezed into the team.

Northern Knights’ forwards James Lucente and Patrik Della Rocca booted seven majors between them and will work in tandem in our Team of the Week, while defender Stefan Uzelac continues his good form of late with a nomination in the back pocket. Geelong key defender and acting captain Cooper Cartledge has made the side, joined in the team by ball-winning midfielder Baxter Mensch and regular half-forward nominee, Brayden Ham.

Sandringham Dragons’ potential first rounder Liam Stocker made the team after a best on ground against Eastern Ranges on the weekend, he is joined in the side by the classy Alastair Richards. Eastern’s Mitch Mellis was the other player from the standalone game to make the 22, joining fellow sole nominee Xavier O’Neill (Oakleigh Chargers) on the bench. Dandenong Stingrays also had two nominees, with Reid Nanscawen making his debut in the Team of the Week, along with captain Campbell Hustwaite.

To complete the forward set-up, Calder Cannons’ Jake Riccardi was the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week for Round 9 after his five goals, with Gippsland bottom-age defender Jake Van Der Pligt the only other player from the drawn game in Morwell. Overage Western Jets ruck Darren Walters makes his debut in Team of the Week, joined in the side by midfielder Connor Thar. Bendigo Pioneers’ Liam Marciano is the other member of the Team of the Week, named on the half-back flank. Teammate and ruckman Daniel Keating, as well as GWV Rebels’ midfielder Elliot Lamb and bottom-age mid/defender Brock Smith were the most unlucky to miss out.