Tag: Connor Idun

AFL Draft preview: Geelong

AFTER a disappointing campaign that saw the Cats sneak just inside the top eight, fans were keen to see what their side could do come trade period and now, draft time. Having targeted elite midfield talent in the past, they look set to continue down that path with their first pick, while bids for their father-son and Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects will both come later on. To get the most out of their haul, the Cats will have to get creative and look towards the future with who they select.

List Needs:

  • Best available but looking at:
    • Midfield depth
    • Ruck/Key Forward
    • Key defenders
    • Running defenders

DRAFT SELECTIONS: 12, 50, 51, 70, 87

While there are not any glaring holes in Geelong’s best 22 on paper with the recruits of Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan as pressure forwards, they will look to add depth to many positions with the future firmly in their focus as some of their brightest stars age.

The Cats look destined to select a midfielder with their first pick, and South Australian Jackson Hately looks a good fit at this stage. The 190cm contested ball winner had an outstanding National Championships in the star-studded SA midfield, but also showed he can play his trade on the outside if required. A ready-made prospect, Hately can match it with the bigger bodies having played 12 SANFL League games this year, and could well make it past picks nine and 11 held by the respective Adelaide sides. Tasmanian Chayce Jones and Vic Metro representative Riley Collier-Dawkins are well in the mix for top 10 honours, but would also be suitable picks for the Cats should they slip down the rankings. Both Jones and Collier-Dawkins have high ceilings and have proven they can play forward which could be handy as Geelong’s star midfielders move on in the coming years. Morrish Medallist Liam Stocker is the other pure midfield option at the high end of the draft, and is right in the top 15 mix. A potential draft bolter could be Western Jets’ excitement machine Zak Butters who they might consider at the pick.

The Cats then have a break until Round 3 action, where they hold picks 50 and 51. The pick swap for number 51 with Collingwood allowed the Pies to gain points for their own NGA and father-son nominees, but will provide good insurance for the Cats if a bid comes early for Oscar Brownless. The son of Billy, Oscar has a great tank and tackles well as an outside midfielder who can move forward. Geelong’s remaining Round 3 pick could be used on a fellow Falcons product, with the likes of Brayden Ham and Charlie Sprague adding x-factor and continuing the Cats’ good relationship with their TAC Cup affiliates. Should they look to add defensive depth, the dynamic Connor Idun is another Falcon who represented Vic Country and positions himself well at either end.

On the topic of key defensive depth, TAC Cup graduates Kyle Reid and James Blanck are prospects who had impressive National Championships with Country and Metro respectively. Gippsland’s Reid is more of a traditional defender who does all of the right things in the defensive 50 and rebounds calmly, while Eastern’s Blanck has great closing speed and can dominate in the air. Both could be available up to pick 70, and would be safe bets at that stage. The Cats may also be interested in South Australian Callum Wilkie, who was a prolific junior. The North Adelaide best and fairest was outstanding in his side’s premiership year, averaging 25.5 disposals and 8.6 marks as a third-up defender who can also play forward.

The Cats should then be left with a free shot at NGA prospect Blake Schlensog with pick 87 – another Geelong Falcon. Schlensog plies his trade as a ruck/forward and while he may be slightly undersized in the ruck at the next level, he showed his best form there.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

FINALS football at Ikon Park saw two 100-point beltings, but plenty of impressive individual performances. We noted down the top players from Saturday’s elimination finals, with Sunday’s games notes to come tomorrow.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. GWV Rebels

Dandenong:

By: Ed Pascoe

#9 Zac Foot

Foot showed plenty of glimpses of brilliance often getting to dangerous positions at the 50 arc but could not convert his chances to nail goals with plenty of kicks drifting wide or just falling short. He showcased his impressive marking for his size with a good contested mark in the third quarter on the forward 50 arc then he quickly chipped a nice short pass inside 50, he also took a nice lead up mark in that same quarter. Foot ran hard all day but he just could not capitalise on his opportunities. He finished with only the two behinds to go with his 16 disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.

#13 Riley Bowman

Bowman had his moments throughout the game showing small samples of his talent throughout the day. Bowman had multiple chances to hit the scoreboard but struggled to make the most of his opportunities. In the first quarter he kicked into the man on the mark but he later kicked his only goal for the game with a nice set shot finish. He had another set shot opportunity in the second quarter but he was able to set up a nice goal for his fellow teammate Stephen Cumming taking a nice mark at half-forward and hitting a nice pass lace out for his teammate in the pocket. Bowman finished the game with 13 disposals, six marks and one goal. 

#15 Toby Bedford

Bedford lit up Ikon Park with his agility and excitement around the ball. Bedford was near impossible to tackle throughout the game, he was always on the move ducking and weaving around the opposition. One such play saw him tackled in the second quarter and he somehow managed to slip out and fire off a nice handball. With some lovely movement he kicked a nice goal in the quarter, where he weaved out of trouble and then straightened up for a classy goal. He missed a sitter set shot in the last quarter but he had done enough in the first three quarters to be considered Dandenong’s best player throughout the day. Bedford finished with 18 disposals, eight tackles and one goal. 

 #27 Lachlan McDonnell 

McDonnell certainly caught the eye playing on the wing and proving to be a handful with his ability to cover the ground and get to dangerous spots. McDonnell was all class with ball in hand with a nice pass inside 50 in the last quarter where he lowered his eyes. Despite playing on the wing he managed to hit the scoreboard with a nice running goal in the first quarter, a set shot goal in the third and a nice snap goal in the last. McDonnell did not just work hard forward but he also worked tirelessly to be an outlet for the switch in defence. McDonnell finished with 15 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s and three goals. 

 #29 Bailey Williams

Williams threatened to make an impact early in the game flying over packs and brining the ball down to his small forwards. He kicked a nice set shot goal in the second quarter which would be his only goal. He was later moved into the ruck in the last quarter to once again showcase his incredible leap. It was a quieter game from Williams who would be keen to lift his production for the next final. Williams finished with 13 disposals, six marks and one major. 

#58 Will Hamill

Hamill played his best game of the year with his run and skill in defence a real standout early in the game before moving forward late and proving a handful. A great bit of play from Hamill came in the first quarter where he attacked the ball deep in defence surrounded by a crowd of players and managed to break free. He was clean by hand which would eventually set up a goal for Dandenong down the other end. Hamill was dangerous by foot hitting Williams up with a nice pass inside 50 in the second quarter. Hamill had a chance to hit the scoreboard playing forward late in the game taking a nice lead up mark but just missing the set shot at goal. Hamill finished the game with 16 disposals, five marks, six tackles and four inside.

 #59 Sam Sturt

Draft bolter Sam Sturt was the name most scouts came to see and he proved why, with an exciting first quarter taking plenty of marks and using his long left boot which he showed in a great bit of play with a nice mark at half-forward before quickly swinging around on his left and kicking long to Bowman. Sturt would repeat these types of entries into the second quarter but his day would be cut short with a nagging injury keeping him from playing in the second half. Sturt had shown enough to scouts with his clean hands overhead and at ground level along with his long left boot catching the eye. Sturt finished with eight disposals, three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s from a half of football. 

 

GWV:

By: Scott Dougan

#6 Charlie Wilson

Wilson started in the centre square for the first bounce and was immediately involved, winning the first clearance. He was clean at ground level and his marking overhead was strong. He spent the majority of the match up forward but was unable to have a massive impact due to the limited amount of play in the Rebels forward half. Wilson kicked his first and only major of the day in the final term. He had 12 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s to go with 1.2 on the scoreboard.

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin worked hard all day and did his best work defensively. His third quarter was his most influential, showcasing his tackling ability after being awarded a couple of free kicks after two very strong tackles. He finished with three tackles from 14 disposals and while he was quiet in patches like most of the side, he has his moments.

#14 Jed Hill

Hill played predominately on the outside of the contest but applied as much pressure as he could when in tight. He did his best to create space around the ground and he found it, his ball use was reasonably good. He finished the game with 13 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s, being a link in transition early in the game.

 

Gippsland Power vs. Geelong Falcons

Gippsland:

By: Scott Dougan

#2 Caleb Serong

The highly-rated bottom age prospect did his best to have an impact up forward and through the middle of the ground. He showed off his class and composure in the first term with a few effective kicks moving forward. He demonstrated clean hands in tight and also showed off his aerial prowess with an attempted “speckie” in the third term. Serong set the tone early for the Power in the fourth quarter with a goal in the first minute.

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders is another promising bottom-age prospect who spent plenty of time around the ball and inside the forward 50. He did not have a huge impact on the contest but his defensive pressure was noticeable, laying six tackles.

#5 Xavier Duursma

The possible first round selection was instrumental throughout the four quarters, showing off his aerial ability, ball-winning potential and clean hands at ground level. Duursma was able to drift forward on multiple occasions, finding plenty of space inside the forward 50. What was most impressive was when he attempted to chase down Sam Walsh in the middle of the ground, even though he was going to struggle to make up the required distance to impact the kick. Duursma finished with 25 disposals, 11 marks, six tackles and one goal.

#9 Irving Mosquito

Irving started the match like a house on fire, with the electric forward booting an impressive goal right on the line. His second quarter was quiet but he responded in the second half by finding more of the ball and applying plenty of defensive pressure. His tackling efforts were first-class and he was rewarded two free-kicks for his efforts. Mosquito had the chance to kick his second goal of the day in the final term but missed. He finished with nine disposals, six tackles and one goal.

#18 Matthew McGannon

McGannon was one of Gippsland’s best players on the day. He accumulated plenty of the ball across the half-back line and used it superbly, rarely turning the ball over. McGannon won most of his possessions on the outside of the contest, with the smooth-moving defender finding plenty of unoccupied space. He demonstrated composure and poise with ball in hand, which is what he does consistently well.

#22 Rylan Henkel

The 200cm big man was beaten in the hit-out department to opposition ruckman Sam Conway, but he made up for it with his terrific work around the ground. He continuously applied defensive pressure around the contest and he was able to win some important clearances for his team. Henkel moved forward on a few occasions and was able to hit the scoreboard, booting two important and very impressive goals. His aggressive approach around the ball also caught the eye. He finished with 11 disposals, 11 hit-outs and two goals, in fine all-around performance.

#23 Noah Gown

Gown was involved from the get-go, with the forward taking several strong contested marks. He should have kicked his first goal of the day in the first term but he was unselfish and passed it off to teammate Leo Connolly, who converted successfully. Gown continued to display his aerial ability, taking more marks as the game went on, finishing with a total of eight. He was well held by Cooper Cartledge on the scoresheet, but he was extremely dominant around the half-forward flank where he won the majority of his possessions. His hard work was rewarded in the final term when he booted his first goal of the day, contributing to Gippsland’s dominant last quarter.

#25 Kyle Reid

Reid was able to rebound effectively out of the back half, with the classy defender finding plenty of space. He had his hands full early, matching up on Geelong Falcon Connor Idun, who booted two goals in the first half. Reid’s ball use and composure with ball in hand are two of his biggest strengths and he always made the right decisions when rebounding out of the defensive 50. He moved up forward in the second half but didn’t have the same impact on the match as he did down back. Deep into the final quarter, Reid was struggling to run at full pace, signifying that he was sore or injured.

 

Geelong:

By: Ed Pascoe

#8 Ed McHenry

McHenry had a shaky game by his standards especially early dropping an easy mark and a few kicks did not quite hit their mark. However, McHenry was still at his best against Gippsland with his pressure and tackling which he did in a four quarter effort, fishing with nine tackles for the game which was an equal-high for the game across both teams. He worked himself into the game with some nice runs and a good bit of play where he showcased his run and carry ability before a short pass to teammate Ham inside 50. McHenry finished with 18 disposals and four inside 50s.  

#22 Sam Walsh 

Walsh again was everywhere for Geelong, mostly lining up on the wing. He got plenty of the ball in transition and when it was his turn to win the contested ball he did not hesitate. He had numerous good passages of play, one in the second quarter where he marked the ball at half back and not long after marking the ball again at half forward showing his work rate and smarts. In the third quarter he kicked a lovely snap goal winning a ground ball under pressure and then turning and snapping an important major. He had a standout bit of play for a different reason taking a run down the wing with Duursma giving a brave chase. Walsh got to run a fair way before just getting a kick away. He finished with 28 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal. 

 #30 Oscar Brownless

Brownless was a workhorse in the midfield for Geelong with a great four quarter effort. He did plenty at the coalface winning a heap of contested ball while also working hard to get involved on the outside. Brownless really stood out in the first quarter with a nice kick inside 50 but a shot at goal going out on the full was uncharacteristic with Brownless usually crafty around goal. He finished the game with 29 disposals, eight marks, nine tackles and four inside 50s which showed off his work rate. Brownless worked tirelessly throughout the match, trying to get his team over the line.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Sprague was dangerous for Geelong despite his low numbers. He had plenty of chances to hit the scoreboard with a nice mark on the lead in the second quarter which was just beyond his range thus kicking out on the full. He also had a snap at goal that resulted in a behind in the last quarter. He would later finally kick a goal in the second quarter, reward for his hard work and pressure in the forward 50 with a nice snap. Sprague provided a good target around the ground with his clean hands overhead and ability to keep his feet at contests always making sure he was involved if the mark was not taken. Sprague had a great tackle in the third quarter showing he could really crunch them despite his lighter frame. Sprague’s clean hands and composure were the clear standout features in his performance.  He finished the game with 10 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal. 

#39 Connor Idun

Idun looked dangerous early playing forward showcasing his clean hands and quick handballs setting up teammates running into goal. He took a nice contested mark in the first quarter converting a nice set shot goal which he would repeat in the second quarter. What really impressed with Idun was that he kept presenting and making a contest but also recovering from contests to fire off quick and clean handballs. Idun was later moved to defence where he was not as influential but still played his role well. Idun finished with 10 disposals and two goals. 

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

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

THE weekend is set for four huge games, with no turning back for the eight sides running out on Ikon Park in the elimination finals this weekend. Here is a quick look at how the four games shape up.

Dandenong Stingrays vs Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Saturday, September 8, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels face their most daunting challenge yet as they come up against the Dandenong Stingrays in the first round of finals at Ikon Park. GWV faced the Northern Knights the week prior and won comprehensively, but unfortunately the Stingrays are a much different beast. With 15 wins and a single loss, Dandenong sit three wins ahead of second place (Gippsland Power) and boasts 17 Combine invites compared to the Rebels’ four. Dandenong bolter Sam Sturt has been the talk of the town lately, with every club interested in the forward, while Zac Foot, Bailey Williams and Will Hamill are among some of the names who loom as big players in the finals series. The last time the pair faced in Round 10, the Rebels copped a 59-point loss at the hands of the significantly undermanned Stingrays as they had many players competing in the National Championships. While at neutral territory this time, the Rebels face a complete Stingrays side. If they win, it will be arguably the upset of the season, so it is important for GWV’s talent to embrace the challenge.

Jed Hill had a strong showing against the Knights last week, kicking two goals and again proving useful by foot. Riley Ranieri rebounded well and earned the contested ball, with Matt Schnerring getting plenty of the pill and Matty Lloyd caressing the ball well along the wing. Lloyd, along with Scott Carlin and Harrison Butler, all put two each on the board, while Patrick Glanford and Darcy McEldrew both did well in the ruck. Dandenong’s boys are well and truly rested as Riley Bowman returns to the side for Bailey Schmidt. The Stingrays look to add a perfect finals run to an amazing year of footy and take home their first premiership ever.

 

Gippsland Power vs Geelong Falcons

Saturday, September 8, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The last time they faced, the Falcons were severely let down by their accuracy in front of goal, kicking three goals from 16 shots. Comparatively, the Power kicked 10 goals from their 15 shots, having seven goalkickers compared to two. It was not the Falcon’s finest game, but Saturday is a new day, and this time they have Connor Idun, Charlie Sprague, Oscar Brownless, Ned McHenry and possible number on pick, Sam Walsh. In the Wildcard Roound, the Falcons only just snared a victory from the Calder Cannons, coming back from an 11-point deficit at three quarter time to win by a point. While this game could go either way, the Power finished second on the table for a reason. If Cooper Stephens and Walsh can maintain their form from last week, the Power are bound to have some trouble.

The Power will be looking for Xavier Duursma to have a significant impact, racking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three August games, and placing high in the Morrish Medal vote count. The Gippsland Power captain is one of many players looking to cement a future in the AFL and can do so by helping eliminate the Falcons from the finals race. McHenry and Brownless impressed with their two goals against the Cannons last week but could have some trouble going shot for shot with Noah Gown, who kicked four in his last game and placed fourth for the home and away season in goals. Sam Flanders also poses a threat up forward coming in at eleventh in the overall goal kicking tally.The Power will have their work cut out against this full-strength Falcons side, with no telling how it will go down. It is a game to watch.

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs Western Jets

Sunday, September 9, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Not much separates the Oakleigh Chargers and the Western Jets, sitting a single win apart at the end of the home and away season. In terms of form, the Chargers emerged as a genuine premiership contender in the final couple of rounds, while the Jets will need to be at their best here to challenge them. In the Wildcard round last week, the Jets had some issues dealing with the Eastern Ranges’ first half onslaught. While managing to lift in the second half to secure a 38-point win, the Jets will not be able to get away with those standards against the Chargers.

Pivotal in their success were Xavier O’Halloran and Connor Thar who combined well in the midfielder, with Thar earning best on ground honours. Emerson Jeka kicked three while Stefan Radovanovic remained a pillar in the backline. While the Jets took the win (19 points) the last time they faced the Chargers, the team they faced were not a complete Oakleigh side, playing without the likes of Will Golds, Will Kelly and James Rowbottom. The difference is evident since Round 15.  In Round 16, the Chargers defeated GWV Rebels by 90 points, giving them their largest winning margin all season. Oakleigh will be looking for a huge performance from Riley Collier-Dawkins if he aims to increase his stock come draft night. Similarly, O’Halloran will need to bring his best if the Jets are to get up. Potential first-rounder, Isaac Quaynor is also pegged to have a big game for the Chargers with a strong month leading into finals. Chargers are tipped to win, but the Jets are still a chance to surprise a few people.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs Murray Bushrangers

Sunday, September 9, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Unlucky not to land a top four spot, the Murray Bushrangers made short work of the Bendigo Pioneers over the weekend to move on to the Elimination Finals and face the Sandringham Dragons. Both teams have not been in their best form these last few rounds, with the Bushrangers losing their last three during the home and away season, and the Dragons losing their final two. Unlike the Dragons though, the Bushrangers are coming into this game with a win, simply outclassing their opposition at Ikon Park.

Ely Smith’s clearance and contest work was at his usual standard, mopping up the footy off the hit outs and breaking lines with booming kicks. Mathew Walker’s pressure was well over standard as well, laying nine tackles. The test they face is whether they can minimise Liam Stocker’s impact for the Dragons. The Dragons’ Morrish Medal winner stands to make a big statement, playing to earn a finals appearance and a possible top 10 pick in the National Draft. His work on the inside has been his biggest highlight for the month, stepping up in Bailey Smith’s absence. Ben King, returning in Round 15, is also set to make waves and prove himself as a potential number one pick. The last time they faced, the Bushrangers claimed a 65-point win, with Hudson Garoni kicking eight. The Bushrangers forward was kept goalless last week so could be ready to prove himself come the weekend. The Dragons are still favourites to take the win and eliminate the Bushrangers from the race, but it will be a hotly contested match.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

FOUR teams advanced through to the finals in the Wildcard Round and our writers were on hand to take notes on how some of the combine invitees and Under 17 Futures players went in the knockout weekend.

Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

Started the game really strongly and even though he had the two goals to his name, he could have had more. After starting quietly in the past two weeks, it was great to see him up and about creating space. He was leading hard up at the footy and looked really dangerous. Importantly, he was zipping around inside 50 forcing ground level pressure as well, including acts that would not be recorded on a stats sheet. Faded out of the game in the last term, so is still looking for that four quarter effort, but got the Cannons going early and was still a target in the third term.

#8 Lachlan Sholl

Was under siege in the final term and ended as one of the Cannons best in defence. He had a couple of moments he would want back again such as trying to kick the ball off the ground instead of picking it up late, but when coming off half-back he looked good. Earlier in the game he had an absolute elite pass across his body coming out of defence hitting up a teammate on the wing. Saved a certain Oscar Brownless goal, jumping up on the line and getting finger tips to it as Brownless’ snap sailed through midway through the last term.

#20 Rhylee West

Did not win a truckload of the ball like he can do on some occasions, but had a high impact per possession game. His stoppage work was first class and his ability to move through congestion seamlessly, was a highlight. He kicked a ripping goal off hands at a stoppage to bend it around the post and in, and just has those highlight-worthy moments. Also made sure the likes of Sam Walsh and Ned McHenry knew he was up for the fight, pestering his opposition fellow AFL Academy members.

#23 Daniel Hanna

Returned to the side after some experience with Essendon’s Victorian Football League (VFL) side, and was one of the top players in the first term. His composure and cleanliness at ground level was good, and he took a number of intercept marks dropping into the hole. It also released Lachlan Sholl and the like to play more free with their game-style off half-back. He almost had a horror moment dropping what appeared to be a standard uncontested mark in the final term, but the kick was called back and he would have breathed a sigh of relief. Showed some promising signs in that key defensive post.

#30 Mitch Podhajski

Did not have his most prolific game, but just stands up when he is called to do so. Kicked an early goal in the opening term and provides a target when forward, or a big body around the stoppages in the middle.

#57 Josh Kemp

An exciting talent who looked very good in the opening term, flying for marks and backing up his highlight-worthy moments with good pressure plays. He had just three touches after quarter time, drifting right out of the game, but does have some exciting traits – that vertical leap being one.

 

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

A terrific game from McHenry, possibly his best for the season. He might have had just the 20 touches, but his ability to stand up when the game was on the line and with the Cannons focused on Sam Walsh, McHenry was terrific. He kicked Geelong’s first major of the game and then nailed the first of the final term – the most important of the game because of the balance between the sides with Calder leading by 11. He swung the momentum back in Geelong’s favour, and was fierce around the stoppages and just turned it on in the second half to be a crucial player.

#20 Brayden Ham

Did not have the scoreboard impact he has had in recent weeks, starting in defence then moving forward in the second half – a trend which has become the norm for Ham over the past month in particular. Ham also spent time in the midfield and did not look out of place around the stoppages. He uses the ball well, has a high impact per possession count, and takes the game on with his blistering speed and huge tank. Had a big third term presenting up the ground and had an opportunity to cut the final break deficit to six with a set shot from tight in the pocket, but just missed. Has become an important player in the Falcons’ outfit.

#22 Sam Walsh

Had limited influence compared to past weeks, but you can never keep him down entirely, showing his class on multiple occasions throughout the four quarters. The big thing with Walsh is, when he cannot impact offensively, he gets his hands dirty defensively, and can switch between the roles. He knew he was copping close attention on the weekend, so he turned it back on his opponents and instead laid multiple tackles and had one of his better defensive games. Walsh’s massive tank allows him to cover the ground and run opponents into it, so he managed to still find the pill in each third of the ground.

#30 Oscar Brownless

Booted a couple of goals and played what has become a typical Oscar Brownless game. Not always the cleanest player, but he just works hard time and time again. He was in the thick of the action when Calder let the Falcons know they were up for the fight, and Brownless booted his goals when the game was hot early. It was his tackling pressure that stood out, locking the ball in and restricting his opponents from an easy exit. Had a snap out of nothing to put the Falcons up by six midway through the last term, but it was touched on the line by Lachlan Sholl.

#36 Charlie Sprague

Such a smart player, he is that hybrid forward who leads out, can take strong marks, but is not lost to the contest when it hits the ground. If anything, his best piece of play was a touch that will not get a statistic, but it was a deft tap on to Ned McHenry in the final term who burst away and nailed the all-important first goal of the quarter. Did not have heaps of opportunities, but nailed a terrific set shot goal in the opening term. Had a goal assist in the final term with a nice chip pass to Jay Dahlhaus 15m out rather than having a snap.

#39 Connor Idun

Had a quiet game up forward, while still presenting. Went into the ruck to start the final term and had an immediate impact by contesting at ground level, and his follow-up work earned him a free kick for a tackle on Rhylee West. Finished with the 10 hitouts, using his body well at throw-ins. The highlight for mine was his tackle in the final term on Lucas Cavallaro leading to Charlie Sprague winning the spilled ball and setting up a Jay Dahlhaus goal.

#41 Cooper Stephens

Showed off his spacial awareness and vision in tight with some fantastic deft handballs to teammates on the outside. He has that knack for not overdoing it, and was able to turn on a dime under pressure. The most eye-catching thing about Stephens is his ability to just play within the tempo of the game because he can blaze away and kick long when required, or take weight off the kick and retain possession for his side when it is needed. Kicked a goal in the final term showing his class, with a snap off one step and using pure instinct.

 

Northern Knights vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie

McKenzie brought clean hands to the loose ball and delivered effectively by foot inside 50, having seven effective kicks for the day. McKenzie was unlucky not having his work rewarded through the passage off his seven deliveries inside 50, but regardless his work rate did not waiver. His 20 disposals for the day and 16 uncontested possessions stand as a testament to his ability to cut off the footy (six marks) and create space upfield. Though grabbed a few times, McKenzie did not get dispossessed or brought to ground, withstanding the waves of GWV’s abuse. His invite to the National Combine stands as no surprise when he stand outs as possibly the match’s best player in the losing side.

#8 Adam Carafa

Carafa positioned well around the stoppages, boasting loads of second efforts. He did his best to clean up some of the sloppy work out of the stoppage, laying tackles in succession in the first half. He finished with four clearances, two inside 50s, three rebounds and tied game high 14 contested possessions (Sam Philp). He was unlucky not to hit his shot at goal around the body, but that seemed to be the theme for the Knights’ day.

GWV:

#14 Jed Hill

Hill kicked the first and only goal for the Rebels in the first quarter off a strong lead into the goal square. He followed it up with a second, kicking off GWV’s 37-point second quarter. Hill’s impact continued up the ground, moving swiftly with the ball and creating space with short, effective kicks. Despite not kicking a goal in the second half, Hill kept a strong forward half presence. He worked well around the contest and took three marks (one contested) for the day. He was unlucky not to kick the day’s best goal after taking the ball and kicking from the boundary on the run. If it was not touched on the line, it would have been his.

#21 Izaac Grant

Took a brilliant intercept mark through the passage in the third, opened the ground and delivered the ball well by foot. His delivery by foot was impressive, picking his man well and hitting them up with short, sharp kicks (7 effective kicks). Despite this efficiency, Grant’s two shots on goal both resulted in behinds. Regardless, he helped create these opportunities, which was something the Knights had a lot of trouble doing. Constantly first to the football, Grant snatched up an impressive eight marks (one contested), getting in front of man with a good burst of speed while showing off strong hands over head. He judged the flight of the footy well, especially those hurried out of their defensive 50.

#24 Matty Lloyd

Lloyd delivered the ball well by foot along the wing, easily breaking down the Knights’ forward trap. Six minutes into the second he found space 45 metres out and landed his first goal. Lloyd’s work by foot was immense, delivering the ball well up the field with 10 effective kicks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and 20 disposals. He was pivotal in creating opportunities at goal, even flexing his own talents in front as well. He boasts good composure despite pressure from the Knight’s forward line. This became more evident in the fourth as he collected the ball off the deck from a poor kick and slotted his second goal for the day.

 

Western Jets vs. Eastern Ranges

Western:

By: Ed Pascoe

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews had a quiet first half but he had one good moment in the first quarter making a nice run and penetrating kick down the line. Andrews started to lift as the team did in the third quarter, he laid a nice tackle and had a few runs on the wing and kicking long effectively on a few occasions. He finished the game well with some nice run around the ground. He had a running shot at goal which he just missed and showed good attack on the contest in the backline winning the hard ball cleanly and dishing off the handball which was a fair effort with the recent rain making the ball harder to handle. Andrews finished with 14 disposals and four inside 50s.

#24 Josh Honey

He has a touch of class with the way he goes about it. Does not need a lot of the ball to have a high impact on the game and is similar to a fellow Jet, in Zak Butters, Can hurt the opposition when he gathers it inside 50, and finished with one goal from 14 disposals.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

O’Halloran like his teammates had a quiet first half, but he had a great bit of play late in the first quarter bursting from the stoppage with a penetrating kick, then following up bursting away from the opposition and a nice handball out wide. O’Halloran lifted his side in the third quarter to give his team the lead going into the last quarter, he managed to win the ball inside and outside the contest with a few nice kicks on his opposite foot and some hard ball gets at stoppages getting out of tackles with sheer willpower. His best piece of play came in the last quarter where he was able to drift forward to impact a marking contest he would then follow up with a hard tackle and follow the ball up another 25 metres before getting involved in the attacking chain and kicking back inside 50 on his left foot, this really showed off his desire for the contest. O’Halloran finished with 17 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

#38 Buku Khamis

Khamis took the no-fuss approach to his game against Eastern laying plenty of spoils and only running off when necessary. He took plenty of intercept marks during the game, including one in the last quarter showing great courage coming back with the flight and taking a nice grab. Khamis used the ball well on his trusty left foot often hitting targets long and short. Khamis only had nine disposals but he also had five tackles showing off his fantastic defensive work and he will need to bring that next week with the potential matchup against a dangerous Oakleigh forward.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Radovanovic played a consistent game over the four quarters playing a number of roles for the team in the midfield and down back and up forward. Radovanovic showed plenty of run throughout the game with a few give and gets from the back half and he used his speed to get separation around the ground. Radovanovic has a running shot at goal but missed in the last quarter which involved his trademark dash, a goal would have been reward for effort. Radovanovic finished the game with 15 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles.

 

Eastern:

By: Michael Alvaro

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

The bottom-ager was industrious as usual in the engine room, extracting from congestion and tackling hard. He was a regular at the stoppages and found most of his ball there, and while he has a good work rate to get there, Stapleton would do well to find more ball on the outside, too. The midfielder finished with 18 disposals and six tackles.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Mellis was at his productive best across the day, starting on the wing and zipping around the outside of stoppages to compile 31 quality possessions. While he won a good amount of his own ball, Mellis was most often either a link in the chain or the one to push the ball out into space, receiving handballs 16 times and taking four marks. The bottom-ager was one of the better users on the day too, going at 77 per cent overall, and particularly standing out with his 88% handball efficiency. Mellis’ best moments came when gathering and flicking out handballs quickly, while he also darted a nice kick inbound in the opening term which caught the eye.

#31 James Blanck

It’s rare that Blanck ever troubles the statisticians too heavily, but his impact is more often than not valuable. He started off a little shakily with a dropped mark inside defensive 50, but quickly bounced back to show his composure and excellent decision making – reading the ball well in the air and coming off his man to good effect. His intercept mark in the opening quarter led to a Ranges goal, and Blanck found himself in the right spot to intercept once again in the following term to provide the catalyst for another opportunity. He finished with a nice one on one mark in the final term to cap off a solid, but not perfect day.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Murray:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Jordan Butts

It was a solid outing by the overage forward who was born on the last day of the millennium, despite not hitting the scoreboard. He plays in front and constantly presents on the lead, giving his midfielders an option to lower their eyes to. It saw him take a respectable eight marks from his 18 disposals, proving to possess strong hands on occasions. He is a nice field kick for his size too, hitting Boyer inside 50 earlier in the game with a brilliantly weighted pass. Butts was a tad fumbly at times below his knees, but produced enough moments to suggest he has improved.

#5 Ely Smith

The prolific big-bodied midfielder won a game high 29 disposals and was making his presence known in and around the stoppages as usual. He is incredibly strong and at times is happy to run directly through an opponent, knowing they won’t be able to hold him, instead of attempting to get around. This successful tactic often left Bendigo opponents on their backsides, as Smith forcefully broke through to continue running or release the ball by hand. While his possessions were not always influential or pretty, he has that knack of finding the ball and does all he can to get it forward.

#6 Will Chandler

The bottom-aged New South Welshman still does not turn 17 for a few months, but is showing promising signs in the forward half. He leads to dangerous positions and loves to turn onto his left boot. It could have been a very fruitful day if he was more accurate in front of goal, kicking three behinds, but is coming along nicely and he is one to look out for next year.

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen continues to drift in and out of games, but those occasional glimpses of talent are forever making you think what ceiling he possesses and what he can become at the next level. He has natural instincts that you really cannot teach, as shown when he snapped a lovely left foot goal in the first term, movements that are not generally associated with 193cm kids. He kicked a second goal from a well read intercept mark inside 50, but was missing for long periods in between. The talent is there.

#9 Mathew Walker

The GWS Academy prospect generally gives hints of the attributes that are transferrable to the next level, but he displayed those skills on a more consistent basis on Sunday. Whether it was forward or at the stoppages, he had an impact on the game, collecting 21 disposals, seven clearances and most importantly hit the scoreboard with three goals. He has genuine goal sense inside 50, slicing the goals with a snap, inside out banana on the run and a lovely long set shot. He was clean in the contest or at the stoppages, often getting forward of centre and kicking efficiently to scoring positions. While he does not appear to be blessed with great pace, he has a solid frame to grow into and could become a bit of a bargain later in the draft.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash is going to be a player highly sought after in 2019 and did not do anything to hurt that reputation on Sunday. Starting in defence, he got in ball winning positions and made excellent decisions as we’ve become accustomed to. He spent more time forward as the game went on, kicking two goals including a brilliantly crumbed effort in the third term. He is underrated in the air too, taking two contested marks and competing whenever the opportunity presented. Exciting talent.

#16 Nick Murray

The Murray Bushrangers skipper is a tad underrated when discussing the key position defender options for the upcoming draft, despite earning himself a state combine invite. His strength is reading the ball in the air, where he is capable of taking high intercept contested marks as shown twice on Sunday. If he cannot mark the ball, he looks to impact a contest with aggression, generally killing the ball and taking bodies with him. While clubs want their KPDs taller than 193cm these days, he still could have something to offer if he ends up on a list.

#18 Hudson Garoni

The thick-framed key position forward started the game in a lively manner, presenting up to the ball and was often rewarded on the lead. He hit a nice pass inside 50 and looked to be playing a very team oriented role by feeding his teammates as opposed to kicking the goals himself. He took a particularly strong contested intercept in the third term, but drifted out of it a little as time wore on. Still ended up with 18 disposals and seven marks, but was goalless.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

The underage Boyer looks a solid prospect for next year, despite having quiet patches on Sunday. He spent time in defence and forward, getting on the end of a pass inside 50 during the second which he couldn’t convert. He is a really well balanced player and appears a calming influence with ball in hand.

#26 Riley Bice

Starting mostly on the wing, Bice is a player the Bushrangers want with ball in hand. He is an exquisite left foot kick and makes great decisions too. He has good height at 185cm and despite being extremely light, tackles hard as shown in the fourth term. He doesn’t win huge amounts of the ball, but doesn’t have to as he’ll make things happen more often than not. He is an interesting player who probably just needs one big outing to get more clubs on board.

 

Bendigo:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Jye Caldwell

Caldwell was the player most came to see at Ikon Park, with the highly touted midfielder starting the game superbly showing his class with his kicking to teammates advantage and his work by hand often hitting them with speed and precision. He had a nice bit of play in the middle of the ground where he stood up in a tackle and managed to keep his composure and fire out a nice handball. Caldwell looked every bit a first round prospect before injury struck again with another hamstring injury very late in the first quarter, Caldwell had six disposals in the first quarter and looked set for a productive game.

#8 Brodie Kemp

Kemp was left to fill the hole that Caldwell left after his injury, Kemp was the main playmaker for Bendigo showing off his class in the contest. He dropped an easy mark in the first quarter but his spin out of trouble to follow up was sublime, Kemp came off in the second quarter looking wobbly which spelled disaster for Bendigo but he managed to come back and better than ever playing behind the ball using his smarts and play making ability. He showed plenty of dash which was impressive for a bottom age player standing at 193cm, despite one poor kick his kicking was sublime out of defence and his follow up work to try and tackle was admirable. Kemp finished with 23 disposals, eight marks and seven tackles, and he was the clear best player for Bendigo and he looks to be their number one prospect in the 2019 draft.

Dandenong, Oakleigh make up one third of the 2018 TAC Cup Team of the Year

DANDENONG Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers have made up one third of the TAC Cup Team of the Year, with four players each in the league’s best 24. Calder Cannons and Sandringham Dragons have three representatives each, while Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets have two players each. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Northern Knights have one player each, while neither Bendigo Pioneers nor Eastern Ranges have a player in the team.

Dandenong Stingrays’ coach Craig Black was named coach of the Team of the Year after winning the minor premiership last week. Among the team are Victorian Most Valuable Players (MVPs) Bailey Smith and Sam Walsh, and TAC Cup leading goal kickers Hudson Garoni and Charlie Wilson. Of the 24 players, all bar Liam Stocker (injured) and Campbell Hustwaite, represented Victoria at the National Under 18 Championships.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Wild Card Round

FOR players of four TAC Cup sides, they will run out for the final time this weekend with the new concept of a Wild Card Round giving every team the chance of winning a premiership, regardless of finishing position during the season. The four games will be played across two days, with a Double Header at MARS Stadium on Saturday, before a Double Header takes place at Ikon Park on Sunday.

 

CALDER CANNONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 11:30am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

It will be a case of déjà vu for fans who make the trip to MARS Stadium tomorrow. The Calder Cannons take on the Geelong Falcons at 11.30am, an identical match, time and place of their Round 16 clash a week ago. In that game, the Falcons proved too good, coming from behind at quarter time to run away with the game before the Cannons kicked back to go down by just 15 points. Arguably the Falcons should have won by more, as despite having 29 scoring shots to 19, they ended the match with an inaccurate 11.18 for the match. Co-captain Sam Walsh was a clear best on ground. Brayden Ham, while inaccurate in front of goal with 1.4, was exciting in the forward half, as was Connor Idun. Cooper Stephens and Ned McHenry were tough on the inside, while Cooper Cartledge and Charlie Sprague played their roles up their respective ends. For the Cannons, Rhylee West was sensational drifting forward to boot three goals, while Daniel Mott and Mitch Podhajski were strong through the midfield, with Podhajski getting forward to finish with two goals. Harrison Jones enjoyed a great game in the ruck, while Lachlan Sholl and Brodie Newman continue to impress behind the ball. Daniel Hanna has been named in the Cannons’ extended team, and will be a crucial inclusion to take a tall in the Falcons forward line, allowing the smaller rebounders to create more run out of defence. Geelong rightfully hold favouritism after last week, and pushing the minor premiers the week before, but both these teams are sleepers in the premiership race, and it is somewhat disappointing one has to go.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Wild Card Round – Saturday, September 1, 2:00pm
MARS Stadium, Ballarat

The second game marks the third time that the Northern Knights will travel to MARS Stadium for the season to tackle the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The venue holds no fears for the Knights, who have been victorious twice, once with a come-from-behind victory in Round 9 by four points, and then again in Round 12 when they won by 22 points. In the first encounter, it took until the 21st minute of the final term for the Northern Knights to hit the front for just the second time that day, with a Patrik Della Rocca goal. That was also the breakout game for bottom-ager Izaac Grant, who booted seven of the Rebels’ nine goals for the day. Elliott Lamb, Scott Carlin and Lochie Dawson were named the Rebels best on the day with Grant, while for the Knights, James Lucente‘s five majors saw him named the best, along with Della Rocca and Stefan Uzelac. In the second encounter, Sunny Brazier and Charlie Wilson booted three goals for their respective sides, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Patrick Glanford were the Rebels’ best. Adam Carafa had a day out with 37 disposals, while speedster Lachlan Potter was also impressive. On form, the Knights will head in as favourites, but some crucial inclusions for the Rebels in Carlin, Grant and Craig-Peters should be equally as important as Lucente and Ryan Sturgess for Northern.

 

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 11:00am
Ikon Park, Carlton North

On Sunday, the Western Jets will take on the Eastern Ranges in a game that is one of two that should be fairly straight forward. As we have seen with finals or pre-finals however, anything can happen and regular season form means nothing now that we are at the knockout stage of the season. Eastern had just the two wins, but pushed Western all the way back in the only encounter between the sides this season. In blustery Williamstown, the Ranges led throughout the match and only trailed by a goal at the final break – mostly due to the Jets inaccuracy, booting 2.12. The home side found its kicking boots in the final term however, booting five goals to one and ran away with the 31-point win. Steven Kyriazis booted two goals that day, while Zak Butters earned best on ground honours (he will not be out there this weekend) and Connor Thar and Stefan Radovanovic were also impressive. Billy McCormack was the multiple goalkicker for Eastern, while Jarrod Gilbee, James Ross and Mitch Mellis were the top Ranges. Mellis will be the only one of the trio playing on Sunday, with Eastern hoping to cause an upset. The winner will face Oakleigh Chargers in the elimination final, so will want to hit the game with some great form.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

Wild Card Round – Sunday, September 2, 1:30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Murray Bushrangers were the side unlucky to drop out of the top four race, but by being the top-seeded team in the Wild Card Round, they take on the bottom-placed Bendigo Pioneers. The Pioneers have just had the two wins so far this season, while the Bushrangers won both their previous encounters against Bendigo. Murray won by 57 points in Round 2 up in Shepparton, before claiming a 40-point win at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Round 9. In the first game, Laitham Vandermeer was named best on ground, with the injured speedster not able to be out there on the weekend, but his partner in crime that day, Lachlan Ash will be, as will Nick Murray who was impressive in defence. Noah Wheeler was unsurprisingly named best for the Pioneers with another top performance, while Jye Caldwell amassed 24 disposals and laid seven tackles in his only TAC Cup game until last weekend. He will be crucial for the Pioneers this weekend if they are to get the upset, however the Bushrangers look to be too strong on season form. In the second encounter, Ely Smith was best on ground with 28 disposals and nine tackles, while Jordon Butts slotted six goals in a terrific effort up forward. Oscar Perez and Zane Keighran booted two goals each, while ruck Daniel Keating was named the Pioneers’ top player. With no Wheeler, Keighran or Keating this weekend, it will be a big ask for the Pioneers to get up, but there is no coming back. 

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 16

THE final round of the TAC Cup threw up some surprising results, and some standout individual performances. Here is how Round 16 went down.

 

Sandringham Dragons 6.10 (46) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 14.9 (93)

Dandenong Stingrays capped off a near-perfect home and away season, defeating top four side, Sandringham Dragons by 49 points at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on the weekend. The Stingrays finished the season with a 15-1 record and that loss was a six-point defeat at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers. The Stingrays burst out of the blocks booting six goals to one in the opening half, and by the final break had 10 goals on the board to the Dragons’ two. The final term was a goal fest with eight of the 20 goals kicked, as both teams shared in the feast booting four goals apiece. 

Sam Fletcher won plenty of the ball once again with 30 disposals, three marks, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, joined on the inside by captain Campbell Hustwaite (28 disposals, four clearances and a goal) who had a combined 34 contested possessions between them. Matthew Cottrell was voted the Stingrays best for his 28 disposals, four clearances, eight inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal, while Sam Sturt continued to impress at TAC Cup level, booting 3.2 from 18 disposals and five marks. Toby Bedford (18 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s) and Matthew Gahan (16 disposals, four marks and five rebounds) were others who impressed for the winners.

For the Dragons, Liam Stocker had another day out, amassing 32 disposals, one mark, nine clearances, eight inside 50s and three rebounds, winning two thirds of his possessions at the coal face. Alastair Richards was equally effective on the outside, collecting 25 disposals, three marks, two clearances and four rebounds to give the Dragons some important run. James Rendell (14 disposals, two contested marks, 29 hitouts and a goal) and Corey Watts (20 disposals and eight marks) were others who stood tall for the losing side.

 

Geelong Falcons 11.12 (84) defeated Calder Cannons 10.9 (69)

Geelong Falcons gained a vital mental advantage over the Calder Cannons, claiming bragging rights  ahead of the pair’s duel in the Wild Card Round next weekend. The Falcons had to fight from eight points down at quarter time to put pressure on their opponents and had 11 scoring shots to two in the second quarter, heading in with a 16-point advantage. They built on that lead in the third term, before the Cannons finished stronger, but it was just too little, too late in the game, as the Falcons celebrated by 15 points.

Co-captain Sam Walsh was sensational with 37 disposals, 10 marks (one contested), five clearances, eight inside 50s, six rebounds and three behinds, while fellow co-captain Oscar Brownless got the Falcons moving early, finishing the game with 19 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s and a powerful long-range goal. Brayden Ham‘s consistent season continued with 20 disposals, nine marks and eight inside 50s, albeit with an inaccurate 1.4. Ned McHenry (27 disposals, seven marks, three clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal), Cooper Stephens (21 disposals, seven marks, six clearances and three inside 50s) and Connor Idun (16 disposals, seven marks and three inside 50s and a goal) were others who stood out for the winners.

Calder had a number of strong contributors with Daniel Mott having a team-high 29 disposals, three marks, nine clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds. Rhylee West was strong up forward, booting three goals while resting up there to go with his 20 touches, four marks (two contested), six clearances and four inside 50s. Lachlan Sholl (20 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) and Mitch Podhajski (21 disposals, eight marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and two goals) were others who stood out for the Cannons.

 

GWV Rebels 5.3 (33) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 18.15 (123)

In a match that started positively for the Rebels, it ended in disaster as Oakleigh Chargers stormed home with a 90-point win at MARS Stadium. The Rebels, although down at the first break, had been matching the Chargers around the ground, and faced a 13-point deficit at the first break. A five goals to two second term put the Rebels to the sword, but it was the nine goals to one second half that saw Oakleigh waltz away with the huge win, peppering the goals in the second half, having a whopping 20 scoring shots to two, in a game which the deficit could have been even greater.

Jack Ross had the most disposals, with 26 touches, five marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, ably assisted on the inside by James Rowbottom (24 disposals and eight clearances) and Riley Collier-Dawkins (16 disposals and seven clearances). Trent Bianco had another impressive game highlighted by a strong second half, picking up 15 disposals and having 24 overall, to go with his five marks and six rebounds, while Zac Hart buzzed around to collect 23 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds. Atu Bosenavulagi and Jake Gasper caused headaches up forward, while Noah Anderson and Jay Robertson also booted three goals.

For the Rebels, Matty Lloyd was the sole player with more than 20 disposals, having 24 touches, five marks and eight rebounds, while forward, Jed Hill was the clear standout player, having 12 disposals, three marks (one contested), two clearances and three goals – all in the first half. Jayden Wright played well in defence with five rebounds from 19 disposals and three marks, while Charlie Wilson had four clearances and four inside 50s from 14 disposals.

 

Gippsland Power 11.11 (77) defeated Eastern Ranges 10.8 (68)

Gippsland Power finished their season off with a hard-fought nine-point win over Eastern Ranges. The Power had to work for it against the bottom two side, booting the first four goals of the game, but being reeled in over the next two quarters to trail at the final break by three points. Luckily for Gippsland, they booted four goals to two in the final term and ensured their regular season ended on a high.

Captain Xavier Duursma was consistent once again with 21 touches, two marks, five clearances, three inside 50s and two goals, while bottom-age forward, Sam Flanders also had 21 disposals, two marks, eight inside 50s and booted an inaccurate 1.4. Noah Gown continued his strong form up forward with another four goals from 20 disposals and eight marks (two contested), while Leo Connolly (20 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s and a goal) and Riley Baldi (18 disposals, three marks, four clearances and three inside 50s) were other prominent ball winners.

For Eastern, Kye Quirk had a massive game-high 34 disposals, five marks, two clearances, eight inside 50s and two rebounds, while Xavier Fry was prominent in defence with seven rebounds from 24 disposals and five marks. Joel Burleigh had 23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, six inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals, while Lachlan Stapleton was busy at the stoppages, recording eight clearances and 21 disposals. Adrian Kalcovski booted three goals from 22 disposals and seven marks, while Mitch Mellis had 19 touches and three marks.

 

Murray Bushrangers 8.7 (55) defeated by Northern Knights 9.10 (64)

Northern Knights spoiled the party for Murray Bushrangers, who were looking to cement a top four spot with a win. The Knights could not move out of eighth spot, and the home side got on top early, booting six goals to three in the first half. Northern clawed back into the contest in the third quarter, to cut the deficit to nine points at the final change, but came over the top of the Bushrangers, booting four goals to one in the nine-point victory.

Justin McInerney was busy around the ground for the Knights, picking up 24 disposals, 12 marks (one contested), two inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Adam Carafa also found 24 touches and had five marks, four clearances, three rebounds and a goal. Cameron Wild was busy with 22 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and a goal, while Josh D’Intinosante had 18 touches, five marks, seven inside 50s and a goal. Teammate Oscar White also covered the ground well with six inside 50s and five rebounds from 17 disposals and five marks (one contested).

Jimmy Boyer was the top ball winner for the Bushrangers, racking up 25 touches, seven marks, seven clearances and three inside 50s, while Edward Adams had 22 disposals, seven marks (one contested) and four rebounds. Jordon Butts was productive through the midfield, sending the ball inside 50 on six occasions from 21 disposals and seven marks, while Nick Murray had five rebounds from 21 disposals and seven marks. Bottom-ager Lachlan Ash (17 disposals, five marks and five rebounds) and Ely Smith (18 disposals, two marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) were others who impressed for the losing side.

 

Bendigo Pioneers 8.9 (57) defeated by Western Jets 15.8 (98)

A six goals to two first term effectively ended the contest before it began, as the finals-bound Western Jets got the job done against the Bendigo Pioneers. After quarter time it was much closer as the Pioneers booted six goals to the Jets’ nine, but could not quite capitalise and the Jets enjoyed the 41-point lead heading into the Wild Card Round next weekend.

Connor Thar had a super game with 32 disposals, five marks, three contested, five inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals to be named the AFL Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 16, while Daly Andrews (26 disposals, nine marks, six inside 50s, four rebounds and one goal) was busy around the ground. Captain Xavier O’Halloran was deadly going inside 50, having 10 entries along with 25 touches, six marks, four clearances and a goal. Jack Watkins was also instrumental with 25 disposals, four marks, five clearances, eight inside 50s and a goal. Aaron Clarke was the key forward with four majors while Steven Kyriazis booted three.

For the Pioneers, Noah Wheeler was again the top performer for the home side, picking up 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, six rebounds and a goal, while Bailey Henderson had six rebounds from 22 disposals and seven marks. Talented bottom-ager Brodie Kemp had 21 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Jye Caldwell had 19 disposals, four marks and four clearances in his first TAC Cup game since early in the year.

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 16

THE final round of the TAC Cup is here and for four sides, it will be the last round before a week off ahead of finals. Three sides – Sandringham Dragons, Oakleigh Chargers and Murray Bushrangers – are battling for the last two positions in the top four, while there are still plenty of moves that could happen lower down the ladder.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 10.30am Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

The first clash of the weekend is one that will determine the games that follow. A Sandringham Dragons outfit will be breathing fire after going down to an impressive Oakleigh Chargers side last week, and will want to make amends through knocking off the minor premiers, Dandenong Stingrays. A win for the Dragons will lock away third spot, while a loss leaves them at the mercy of other results. Oakleigh Chargers play bottom four side Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, while Murray Bushrangers go head-to-head with Northern Knights, and if both are victorious, the Dragons drop to fifth. Dandenong are close to full strength, with about 15 of its 17 combine invitees in the extended side. They will miss Riley Bowman, but with plenty of talls to cover, the bigger loss is on the Dragons side with captain Bailey Smith still out. Liam Stocker was strong on the inside last week but needed an extra hand or two in there, and the return of Samuel Forbes will see Ryan Byrnes and Darcey Chirgwin able to focus their efforts on the inside. Though Dandenong’s midfield does not have the star power of Oakleigh, it bats deep and can hurt you in multiple ways. If the Stingrays can contain Ben King and limit the inside 50s, then they will go a long way to victory, but they cannot afford to miss gettable shots at goal like they did against the Geelong Falcons last week. Bailey Williams and Campbell Hustwaite were among the Stingrays best last week, and with Jai Taylor and Zac Foot on the outside, expect a good contest here.  

GEELONG FALCONS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 11.30am MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Unless Western Jets go down to Bendigo Pioneers, this will be a pre-cursor for the Wildcard Round clash a week later. Both teams are dangerous when at full strength, and Geelong’s wildcard forward, Charlie Sprague will help to add another dimension inside 50. With fellow National AFL Draft Combine invitees, Connor IdunSam Walsh and Ned McHenry also able to rotate through the area it will make for an exciting spectacle. Geelong lost no fans after a really strong effort against the Stingrays last week, and will be looking to continue that form against the Cannons here. Calder looked dangerous inside 50 with Josh Kemp and Jake Riccardi leading the way against Eastern Ranges last week, and will look to stretch the Falcons’ defence. Curtis Taylor, Rhylee West and Mitch Podhajski have a three-way rotation through the midfield, forward line and interchange with short bursts enabling them to impact on the contest. All three will be crucial in determining how deep the Cannons go in finals, and with Daniel Hanna returning to the defence, and Lucas Cavallaro and Lachlan Sholl providing good rebound out of that back half, Calder will look to springboard out of defensive 50 and play smart football to their tall forwards.  

GIPPSLAND POWER v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 2pm Morwell Recreation Reserve, Morwell

An imposing Gippsland Power outfit hosts Eastern Ranges in a game that realistically does not mean much in terms of finals, but will serve as a way for both sides to end their regular seasons on a high. The Power have locked up second spot and earned a week off, while Eastern will head to the Wildcard Round all but certain to face the Western Jets. Unless the Pioneers upset the Jets, the Ranges will face either the Dragons, Chargers or Bushrangers. With Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders returning to the side, the Power should take care of business in this one. They did what they had to against the Bushrangers last week, and are back at home for their last Morwell game of the year. In front of a home crowd they will show off their incredible depth, particularly for next year, while captain Xavier Duursma and the in-form Noah Gown will prepare to be key cogs in their finals campaign. The Ranges looked good in the second term against Calder, with the breeze, but did not capitalise on their opportunities in front of goal, which they will need to do in this game if they are to stand a chance of the upset. They also have a number of talented bottom-agers who form a good nucleus through the midfield with Mitch Mellis and Lachlan Stapleton strong contributors, while top-age defender James Blanck will look to nullify Gown in one of the crucial match-ups on the day.  

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 16 – Saturday, August 25, 2pm MARS Stadium, Ballarat

It will take some effort for the GWV Rebels to cause an upset in this one, and that is nothing against the Rebels, but the Chargers are on fire at the moment. They dismantled the highly rated Sandringham Dragons and beat them at their own game. With a large amount of draftable talent, and a top four spot on the line, Oakleigh will not take the foot off the pedal in this game. The Rebels played arguably their best game of the year aside from perhaps the Geelong Falcons win earlier in the year, with most of their side out due to St Patrick’s playing in the Herald Sun Shield Grand Final. They regain most of their best 22 for the game, gaining outside run and greater depth up forward, and need to realistically win the midfield battle if they are to cause an upset. Charlie Wilson and Jed Hill were in ripping form last week, as was bottom-ager Mitch Martin, and Tylar Watts contributing a couple of goals returning to the side as a tall forward. Will Kelly did well against Ben King when they did get the chance to face-off in defensive 50, while Jack Ross, James Rowbottom and Will Golds were among the top-age brigade which racked up the ball. Bottom-agers Trent Bianco, Dylan Williams and Noah Anderson loom as danger players, while Matty Lloyd and Patrick Glanford are among those back in who should impact the contest.  

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 16 – Sunday, August 26, 1pm Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta

Depending on Saturday’s results, this could either be a live contest that seriously shakes up the top eight, or two sides that are locked into their spots on the table. The Knights cannot move from eighth – aside from dropping to ninth if the Rebels win, but will play them in the Wildcard Round anyway – while Murray will be playing for a top four spot if one of Sandringham or Oakleigh lose, otherwise they cannot move either way from fifth. With top four on the line you would expect the Bushrangers to come out firing, and despite the loss of Jye Chalcraft, they regain Ely Smith from state league duties who will be crucial against the big-bodied Northern midfielders. Both sides are not afraid to have a crack, and with the home ground advantage, Murray will look to get it long to Hudson Garoni and Zane Barzen who will be keen to hit the scoreboard. Joel Naylor booted four goals in a low-scoring game against Western Jets last weekend, while Josh D’Intinosante always looks dangerous inside 50. With the speed of Lachlan Potter off half-back, the Knights will back themselves in to win this contest and prepare for next week, likely at the same ground. Murray’s defence was good for the most part last week, and Nick Murray and Lachlan Ash will look to back up last week’s effort with a similar showing here.  

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 16 – Sunday, August 26, 1pm Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo

In the final game of the round, bottom of the table Bendigo Pioneers take on Western Jets, in a game that might not end up having much bearing on the finals race, but will be important for Western if indeed Calder get up against Geelong. It would mean the Jets drop to seventh and face the Falcons instead of the Eastern Ranges, with Geelong showing it has the capability to match it with the best as per its game against Dandenong last weekend. The Jets just needed a bit more finishing class, missing opportunities in the final quarter against Northern, narrowly missing out on the four points in that game. Leaders Jye Caldwell and Xavier O’Halloran return for their respective teams, in what adds extra interest in the clash given Caldwell has been out of football for the most part. With the home ground advantage, the Pioneers will be hoping to cause an upset and hand Eastern the spoon with a victory, while the Jets will look to cause headaches with the run of Stefan Radovanovic and Daly Andrews getting the ball forward to their array of small forwards. Brodie Kemp and Noah Wheeler both impressed last week for the Pioneers and will be key cogs in the game if Bendigo are to finish the regular season with a win. Victory also means they potentially avoid Sandringham Dragons in the Wildcard Round.