Tag: finals

Number Crunching: VFLW – Week 2 Finals

LAST week’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s preliminary final proved to be a shock as minor premier, Collingwood was overpowered by a fierce Geelong side. From finishing in fourth place, Geelong has climbed its way into the Grand Final with a successful series so far, beating Northern Territory (NT) in the semis and now claiming victory over the Pies.

Geelong dominated the whole game, even keeping Collingwood to a single goal until the third quarter. The Pies were not without their stripes though, kicking three goals in the fourth quarter. Collingwood’s attempt at a late comeback was in vain though with Geelong prevailing 42-28.

Geelong’s ability to work as a team is highlighted by the game-day skill of their best players. Key forward, Maddie Boyd was essential to the Cats’ game, kicking two goals as well as taking seven marks. Olivia Purcell was able to control Collingwood’s midfielders with a game-high 14 tackles, and Madeline Keryk was also fantastic with 24 disposals well as getting 10 clearances. Other top players on the ground for Geelong included Maddy McMahon, whose consistent game led to 16 disposals and a goal for her team. Richelle Cranston also notably laid seven tackles and got six clearances.

Despite losing, the Pies had their moments with good performances from players like Jaimee Lambert. Lambert was able to make 11 tackles as well as kick the final goal in the game. Lambert was a key player for the Pies, gathering 23 disposals and utilising her position as a midfielder.

Top Player Stats – VFLW Week 2 Finals 

PLAYERTEAMGBHDKEKIEHEHIEHRCMUMMKSTKS
Maddie BoydGeelong21440202572
Olivia PurcellGeelong001743102214
Madeline KerykGeelong009102360114
Maddy McMahonGeelong11562341454
Richelle CranstonGeelong00474040007
Jaimee LambertCollingwood116836101111

Last stanza: TAC Cup final round permutations

EVERYONE loves grabbing the calculator and working out the possible outcomes from final round clashes, so we take a look at the TAC Cup and how each team shapes up with a game to go. We look at the best and worst possible results, as well as the likely result if all the higher ranked sides were to win.

 

1 Dandenong Stingrays | 56 points – 211%

vs. Sandringham Dragons – Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Best result: 1st
Worst result: 1st

What a season. The Stingrays can make a real statement in the final round against Sandringham. Not only will it give them a confidence boost, but also a mental advantage given the teams will likely meet in finals. Lose and the Dragons will remind them of it come finals time if they do meet.

 

2 Gippsland Power | 48 points – 154%

vs. Eastern Ranges – Morwell Recreation Reserve

Best result: 2nd
Worst result: 2nd

Cruising along very nicely, the Power are remarkably flying yet do not have the same plaudits as the other three top four sides. They would be expected to take care of business against Eastern and will be keen to finish strongly – but it will not matter as they have already locked up second spot. They did lose to the Pioneers earlier in the season, so will be wary not to lose this game.

 

3 Sandringham Dragons | 40 points – 85%

vs. Dandenong Stingrays – Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Best result: 3rd
Worst result: 5th
Likely result: 5th

Their best is good enough, but can they topple the Stingrays? Dandenong play a different brand of football to last week’s opponent, Oakleigh, but that brand has worked all year long, so the Dragons will need to be at their best if they are any chance of winning. The message during the week will be that top four is in their own hands and a win will result in a week off. Could get a reprieve if either the Rebels or Knights upset Oakleigh or Murray respectively.

 

4 Oakleigh Chargers | 38 points – 132%

vs. GWV Rebels – MARS Stadium

Best result: 3rd
Worst result: 5th
Likely result: 3rd

If Oakleigh play the same way they did in the wet against Sandringham, then good luck Rebels. They looked every bit a premiership contender and should lock up a top four spot with a win here. The Chargers will most likely take third spot if the Stingrays topple the Dragons. But cannot afford to drop the game against the Rebels either with the Bushrangers hot on their tail and able to pounce the next day.

5 Murray Bushrangers | 36 points – 118%

vs. Northern Knights – Norm Minns Oval

Best result: 3rd
Worst result: 5th
Likely result: 4th

Unlike the other two teams battling for a top four spot, they not only need to win, but have to rely on one of the others to lose. As the last team to play out of the three sides, the Bushrangers will know what they are playing for heading into the match. They will hope the Stingrays can knock off the Dragons, which is the most likely scenario, because if last week’s Oakleigh performance is anything to go by, it is hard to see the Rebels toppling the Chargers.

 

6 Western Jets | 32 points – 90%

vs. Bendigo Pioneers – Queen Elizabeth Oval

Best result: 6th
Worst result: 7th
Likely result: 6th

A win is crucial for the Jets, because victory means they guarantee a clash with Eastern Ranges next week. We saw the Falcons push the Stingrays all the way last week and the Jets would be keen to avoid them at all costs if they are up and firing.

 

7 Calder Cannons | 30 points – 106%

vs. Geelong Falcons – MARS Stadium

Best result: 6th
Worst result: 7th
Likely result: 7th

Hard to see the Jets losing to the Pioneers, so this is more than likely the early taste of the Wildcard Round clash between the Cannons and Falcons a week later. If the Pioneers do shock the Jets, they can move to sixth and face the Pioneers instead (or Eastern if they also upset the Power).

 

8 Northern Knights | 26 points – 88%

vs. Murray Bushrangers – Norm Minns Oval

Best result: 8th
Worst result: 9th
Likely result: 8th

Order does not matter, as the Knights will face the Rebels in the Wildcard Round. They can influence Murray’s top four aspirations with a win, and will have the Dragons faithful barracking for them if Sandringham loses to Dandenong.

 

9 GWV Rebels | 22 points – 87%

vs. Oakleigh Chargers – MARS Stadium

Best result: 8th
Worst result: 9th
Likely result: 9th

For the Rebels the order matters little as they look set to face Northern in the Wildcard Round – and at home too. If Sandringham loses to Dandenong, all Dragons will keep a close eye on this game as they need the Rebels (or Knights) to win to keep a top four spot.

 

10 Geelong Falcons | 16 points – 79%

vs. Calder Cannons – MARS Stadium

Best result: 10th
Worst result: 10th

Locked and loaded for tenth the Falcons cannot move up or down. Ironically though they will get a nice rehearsal against the Cannons who seem destined to be their Wildcard Round opponent unless Bendigo cause a boilover against Western.

 

11 Eastern Ranges | 8 points – 62%

vs. Gippsland Power – Morwell Recreation Reserve

Best result: 11th
Worst result: 12th
Likely result: 11th

While many might not see the difference between eleventh and twelfth on the table, aside from avoiding the wooden spoon, it means they will face Western Jets – still a tough task regardless – rather than a potential Sandringham Dragons.

 

12 Bendigo Pioneers | 8 points – 56%

vs. Western Jets – Queen Elizabeth Oval

Best result: 11th
Worst result: 12th
Likely result: 12th

Winning would be massive for the Pioneers, especially if it potentially means facing the Jets a week later if the Falcons topple the Cannons. Otherwise a win means they face Calder. In all likelihood they will meet Sandringham in the Wildcard Round, however could face Oakleigh or Murray depending on results.

 

Potential Wildcard Round: If likely finishes occur

WC1: Sandringham Dragons vs. Bendigo Pioneers
WC2: Western Jets vs. Eastern Ranges
WC3: Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons
WC4: Northern Knights vs. GWV Rebels

Elimination Finals:

EF1: Dandenong Stingrays vs. Winner of WC4
EF2: Gippsland Power vs. Winner of WC3
EF3: Oakleigh Chargers vs. Winner of WC2
EF4: Murray Bushrangers vs. Winner of WC1

Preliminary Finals:

PF1: Winner of EF1 vs. Winner of EF4
PF2: Winner of EF2 vs. Winner of EF3

Grand Final:

Winner of PF1 vs. Winner of PF2

TAC Cup finals preview: Geelong Falcons vs. Gippsland Power

IT is that time of year again where the best sides take to the field and determine which TAC Cup clubs are contenders and which are pretenders. In the past years, the junior competition has seen the finals series take on the identical look to that of the AFL, but in 2017, the finals will be three weeks of pure knockout. The last two games to kick off the round are second taking on seventh and fourth taking on fifth. So without further adue, we take a look at the third match of the finals series.

Geelong Falcons vs. Gippsland Power

Geelong: 2nd, 15-3, 1570 points for, 953 points against, 165%
Gippsland: 7th, 8-10, 1273 points for, 1408 points against, 90%

Geelong Falcons head into today’s elimination final clash as strong favourites and with good reason, having won their past six games in the TAC Cup. The Falcons knocked off both Eastern Ranges and Dandenong Stingrays in the final two rounds but fell short of retaining top spot to the Oakleigh Chargers. Prior to the six-game winning streak, the Falcons had a down month over the National Under 18s Championships period, with a 10-goal win over Bendigo Pioneers the only celebration with losses to Oakleigh, Sandringham and indeed Gippsland in a four-week period.

Gippsland head into today’s clash with some handy form of its own, having won four of the past five games including impressive wins over Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers. The one down game in the past month was a big 64-point defeat to the Falcons which will no doubt be playing on their mind having played so well against the top side at Colac earlier in the season.

In the Falcons’ big win, Sam Walsh had 37 disposals (19 contested), 10 clearances, eight tackles, five inside 50s and three rebounds, while Gryan Miers booted six goals from 25 disposals and nine marks as a dominant small forward. Harry Benson (24 disposals, eight marks and 10 tackles), David Handley (22 disposals, five marks and two goals) and Adam Garner (19 disposals, 11 marks and three goals) were the other impressive players. For the Power, Nick Hogan had 24 disposals, seven clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while Boadie Motton laid 11 tackles to go with his 20 disposals in an otherwise disappointing day for the home side.

Earlier in the season Gippsland defeated the then-unbeaten Geelong side at Colac despite the best efforts of Adam Garner (14 disposals, nine marks and six goals). That day was the making of Callum Porter who tore Geelong to shreds in the best individual performance at TAC Cup level I have witnessed. Porter had 36 disposals (23 contested), 10 marks, eight clearances, 12 tackles, five inside 50s, two rebounds and four goals to individually haul the Power over the line on a day where they could not seem to kick straight. Will Stephenson was his partner in crime with 25 disposals, nine clearances and nine inside 50s. For the Falcons, Sam Walsh had another big day out with 30 disposals, 10 marks, four clearances, four inside 50s, six rebounds and six tackles, while Bayley Cockerill (31 disposals) and Harry Benson (27 disposals) were also busy.

Key players today:

Harry Benson (Geelong Falcons) 21.2 disposals, 4.2 marks, 7.3 tackles, 0.4 goals per game

The somewhat quiet achiever in the Falcons’ midfield got the crack at Callum Porter in Colac and despite finding plenty of the ball, Porter got off the chain. Benson levelled the scores back in Morwell and has been one of the most consistent players this season. If he can step up and help the likes of Cassidy Parish, James Worpel and Sam Walsh dominate the midfield, the Falcons will be well on their way to winning.

Callum Porter (Gippsland Power) 21.7 disposals, 3.9 marks, 7.7 tackles, 0.6 goals per game

Porter’s stats are almost identical to that of Benson’s but his second half of the season has been out of this world compared to his first half. He is strong in the air and capable of tearing a game open. Gippsland might not have the big names that other clubs have, but the likes of Porter, Will Stephenson and Matthew McGannon can hold their own in the midfield.

The Final Word:

Many people would be of the opinion this game is an easy win to the Falcons, but I am not of that opinion. While I do believe the Falcons will win, and they deserve to considering their season, it will be anything but a cakewalk for the second placed side. The Power will need to make the most of their opportunities and find a way to quell Adam Garner who booted nine goals across the two games against them. It would not be out of the realms of possibility for the Power to get up, but they will need to play at their best. You know you will always get a competitive effort from the Gippsland boys.

TAC Cup finals preview: Oakleigh Chargers vs. Northern Knights

IT is that time of year again where the best sides take to the field and determine which TAC Cup clubs are contenders and which are pretenders. In the past years, the junior competition has seen the finals series take on the identical look to that of the AFL, but in 2017, the finals will be three weeks of pure knockout. The first two games to kick off the round are first taking on eighth and third taking on sixth. So without further adue, we take a look at the first match of the finals series.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Northern Knights

Oakleigh: 1st, 15-3, 1653 points for, 993 points against, 166%
Northern: 8th, 7-10-1, 1164 points for, 1383 points against, 84%

On face value alone it is clear to see why the Chargers will head into this clash as strong favourites. They have amassed double the amount of points compared to Northern in the home and away season over 18 rounds and come in with a three-game winning streak, including two beltings over Bendigo Pioneers and Eastern Ranges. The Chargers’ three losses came against Western Jets, Geelong Falcons and Sandringham Dragons, with the Jets’ loss the only one since the end of April for the Chargers.

On the other hand, the Knights did not have the run home they would have liked. A huge 39-point win over finalists Murray Bushrangers in round 17 disguised a formline that would worry the Knights coaching staff, with five losses from their last six games. The last time these two sides met, Oakleigh triumphed 16.14 (110) to Northern’s 4.2 (26) in a pretty comprensive victory, holding the Knights to just two goals in each half, while running away with it in the second half.

What was most impressive about that win was the fact the Chargers were missing star and Morrish Medallist Jack Higgins – who has been withdrawn from today’s match with a shoulder injury – as well as Toby Wooller, the clubs’ two leading goal kickers. But the likes of Matthew Day (24 disposals, eight tackles, two goals), Lachlan Bugeja (24 disposals – 18 contested, seven clearances, five inside 50s) and Daniel Stanford (16 disposals, nine marks and four goals) all stood up, while Matthew King was a rock in defence with seven rebounds, and Jordan Troani played further up the field with 12 marks and four inside 50s from 21 disposals.

For the Knights, they too were missing a host of stars including top 10 draft pick Nick Coffield, speedsters Jack Petruccelle and Ethan Penrith, and the exciting Patrick Naish to name a few. Marcus Lentini had 34 disposals and six marks to lead the way, while Mitchell Andrews racked up 30 disposals, seven marks and six rebounds in the game. Oliver Stapleton (26 disposals, seven rebounds) and Jamison Shea (23 disposals and eight marks were others that stood up in the heavy defeat to the Knights.

Key Players today:

Toby Wooller (Oakleigh Chargers) – 17.7 disposals, 5.5 marks, 2.1 hitouts, 4.6 tackles, 2.7 goals per game

Without Higgins, Wooller will be the man the Chargers turn to for their goals and he will also play an important role leading up onto the wing. He has been in fantastic form all season, booting 40 goals, and still winning plenty of the football and most importantly laying some strong tackles.

Patrick Naish (Northern Knights) 18.7 disposals, 4.1 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1.7 goals per game

There were a number of players I could have highlighted here, but Naish is the one I feel could hold the key for the Knights. He has started in defence recently, but has the capability of going forward and kicking goals, which I think he will need to if they are to kick a winning score.

Last word:

For Northern to win, they need to play smart football and get goals out of their midfielders because that is how Oakleigh has been so successful this season. For the Chargers, Higgins will be a big loss, but the structures and ability of others to stand up has been on show all season, and that is why Oakleigh is my tip in today’s game.

Falcons eye finals success

GF - Max Augerinos

REDEMPTION is not just a word for the 2016 Geelong Falcons group. It is a mantra.

Over the past few years, the Falcons have finished top four, but failed to make a grand final, which has the current crop determined to reach this year’s decider.

Max Augerinos chatted to AFL Draft Central after the Falcons’ qualifying final win over North Ballarat Rebels and spoke about his own battles with injury, the burning desire to reverse the team’s lack of recent finals success and what it was like to run around with potential number one draft pick Hugh McCluggage.

SCOUTING NOTES: GEELONG V NORTH BALLARAT

“He’s going to be a player to watch, that Max Augerinos,” the TAC Cup radio team declared during the Falcons’ 2014 finals campaign. Less than half an hour, their assessment of the up-and-coming bottom ager was less positive. “There’s a Falcons player down and it looks bad,” they called. “I’d say that’s Max Augerinos and it does not look good, he’s going to be helped off the field.”

Augerinos had just torn his anterior cruciate ligament in a moment that would, for better or worse change his focus and footballing. Rather than mope around about the prospect of missing most of his top-age year, Augerinos put his head down and worked, determined to get back.

Instead of worrying about what he had lost, Augerinos decided to use the time as a longer pre-season, working on aspects of his game to improve when he returned to the field.

“I used that time during my injury to work on the things I needed to work on because I was pretty advanced in my rehab from early on,” he said. “So I had a lot of things to do that I could put my mind to and Andy Althorpe really helped me with that.”

Augerinos said he knew to be in the mix there was a number of aspects he had to fix, including his body size and running style.

“I really got my body right. I was probably five kilograms heavier than I was now, two years ago, so I’ve really trimmed down and got my running good,” he said. “I couldn’t really run in my bottom age year, I just sort of jogged around and got the ball forward. “I’ve just really been working on that transitional running and keeping that contested ball there while doing it.”

Remarkably, Augerinos did not have to wait twelve months to return to the field. Instead, on June 13, 2015, he ran out with the Falcons for the first time in nine months, taking on Tasmania.

Augerinos picked up 13 disposals, 10 of which were effective, took two marks and laid three tackles in the Falcons’ draw at Avalon Airport Oval. The Falcons midfielder played the last 10 games of the season, but was yet to play in a finals victory.

In 2016, after missing out on being drafted, the 176cm inside midfielder chose to return to the Falcons as an over-ager. Augerinos has played 13 games, averaging a team-high 25.5 disposals as well as 3.1 marks and 4.5 tackles. Now, he and his teammates are one win away from running out at Etihad Stadium in the 2016 TAC Cup Grand Final.

They made it to the preliminary final after defeating the North Ballarat Rebels at Box Hill City Oval. While many of the players had questions asked of them in the match, no player had a bigger task than that of Augerinos. The nuggety midfielder was given the job to nullify ball winner Hugh McCluggage.

After a slow start that saw McCluggage get off the chain in the first term, Augerinos got on top, not only nullifying the potential number one draft pick, but collecting 22 disposals to McCluggage’s 20 in a strong performance. For Augerinos, it was just a case of doing what he had to in order to help the team.

“I think as a team we really just went out there and sacrificed our individual games and did everything we could just to get that finals win we’ve been looking for,” he said. “That was my mindset which was the same as everyone’s. “I got given a job on McCluggage and I just sacrificed some of my own game just to pull him down a bit. “He’s a great player, it was good to go head-to-head with him, I enjoyed it a lot.”

Augerinos said it was a tough ask, especially early when McCluggage would get away as the Falcons ball magnet would characteristically bury himself under the pack.

He said he had to learn a new aspect where he would also be mindful of his accountability on a player that had a different approach to the stoppages. “I myself see the ball on the inside layer and just really attack it,” Augerinos said. “He’s a bit more outside and takes off really quickly so I had to be a bit wary of when to pick and choose when to go. “Just around the ground his running was super elite and he really showed me what super outside midfield play is all about and it was a pleasure to play on him.”

With the Sandringham Dragons standing between the Falcons and a grand final berth, Augerinos said the Geelong squad is confident they can go all the way in 2016, with the Dragons the next scalp to claim.

“I reckon we can (win the flag),” he said. “We’ve got a really good, really exciting feeling about this bunch of guys. “It’s really different, even squad and that could get us over the line in the end.”

Pioneers eye off finals after promising start

IMG_8680
Bendigo Pioneers are eyeing off a spot in the TAC Cup finals. (L-R Jordan Rosengren, Mitchell Kemp & Darby Henderson).

FOR the first time in a long time, Bendigo Pioneers are earning respect in the TAC Cup according to midfielder Darby Henderson.

Having played less finals series than any other team, the Pioneers are proving they are more than making up the numbers in 2016, having amassed three wins from nine games, in what is one of the most even seasons for some time.

Four points separates sixth from 10th, with Bendigo narrowly outside the eight seven per cent behind Calder Cannons, after spending a rare week inside the top eight recently.

With the top seven teams seemingly looking strong, Bendigo will battle with Calder and Western Jets for that eighth spot and there would be no more deserving team that one that has struggled for any sort of success of late.

With some players travelling many hours just to get to training, let alone away games, the Pioneers pick up players from all over north western Victoria.

For Henderson, he has seen a big improvement in season 2016.

“It’s been good for Bendigo,” he said. “We’re improving as a team. “We’re gaining respect in the competition for the first time in a while.”

While finals are a long way off yet, with a bit of luck, Henderson is confident the side can taste September action.

“We know we can make a run towards the finals,” he said. “It’s just about gaining confidence and getting wins. “We’ve been a bit stiff with a few games this year, having a few close losses. If we can win a few more of those close games, we’ll be in with a chance, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”

Bendigo’s most talked about players are Kobe Mutch and Joe Atley who will attract the attention of most clubs, with Mutch already destined for GWS, being a part of the much talked about academy system.

Henderson said while losing both those players among others representing their states, he said the group had increased depth compared to past years.

“Usually the second tier of players (stand up),” he said. “It’s not as bigger loss, because more people come in and get their opportunity and are hungry for a spot and hungry for the win.”

For Henderson, he has already played every game of the season despite being a bottom-age prospect. It is something he has thrived on in his development with just under 18 months until he is eligible to be selected by an AFL club.

“I’m pretty happy with the way I’m going,” he said. “I’m getting a bit of experience, and just aim on getting more consistency week in, week out.”

The young midfielder has also taken the fact his father Brett coaches the Pioneers in his stride. Henderson said he was lucky not to cop the wrath in the car rides home. But the same did not apply during a match.

“He’s fair on me, I’ve copped my share of sprays at half-time,” he laughed.

Another Pioneer whose career is only just starting is bottom-ager Mitchell Kemp. The young utility has played the last two games and is enjoying life in the TAC Cup.

“My season has been pretty short, but there’s a massive difference between local footy and TAC Cup footy,” he said. “It’s a good way to develop my footy, I’ve been moved around a bit. But I think that’s important for my development. “It will help me in getting games.”

Unlike many metropolitan players, Kemp understands the struggles of travelling long distances to train or attend match days, hailing from Echuca on the Murray River.

“It’s an hour drive each way to training, but you get to train with a higher level of footy,” he said. “So you lose time, but you gain in development.”

Whether Bendigo can make finals is still yet to be seen, but with a home match against an understrength Murray Bushrangers coming up followed by winnable matches against Northern Knights and Calder Cannons, the Pioneers could take one giant step towards achieving September action with victories.

Top-age prospect Jordan Rosengren spoke to AFL Draft Central’s Peter Williams about his season and how he feels the Pioneers are travelling in 2016. Listen to what he had to say below:

TAC Cup week two finals preview: Geelong Falcons vs Eastern Ranges

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In the second semi final on Sunday, the Geelong Falcons take on the Eastern Ranges for the right to take on the Dandenong Stingrays in the preliminary final.

In the opening round of the finals, the Geelong Falcons gave up a commanding six-goal lead to go down to the North Ballarat Rebels, while Eastern Ranges cruised past a fast finishing Calder Cannons by six goals.

Bound For Glory News will now look at the big question marks surrounding this game and how both sides can win.

1. Counter attack central

Both teams love to anchor their plays off half-back and run down the field with frantic ball movement, using run and carry to hurt the opposition. They are also quite adept at intercepting inside 50s and counter attacking fiercely. Whichever team can capitalise the most on the rebound, will win the contest.

Geelong’s midfielders including top three pick Darcy Parish, have the knack to drift back to the half-back line and play a kick behind the ball to intercept opposition inside 50s. Eastern will have to be incredibly smart with their ball use forward of centre because the Falcons will provide more pressure around the forward zone than the Cannons did last week.

Likewise, Geelong might consider making it man-on-man in the forward half, because Eastern did drop an extra player back from a wing at times to prepare for a Calder clearance last week. Eastern were well beaten around the stoppages, particularly early against the Cannons, but just sat back, received the quick clearance and rebounded with ease. The Falcons must be able to counter that and force everyone back there to be accountable.

2. Charlie needs to bring his kicking boots

We have plenty of exciting players who have the potential to kick bags of goals in this match, with Charlie Curnow being the one to watch. Unfortunately, despite being that tall midfielder/undersized key forward, his goalkicking has troubled him at times.

Last week, it looked as if he was going to go for double figures, but finished with 4.5. He needs to make that six or seven goals at least because in crunch moments, the Falcons need him to stand up. There’s no chances after this week, so Curnow will need to make the most of his chances and with silver service delivery from players such as Parish, Will Sexton and the rest of the Falcons midfield, it is his time to stand up.

Eastern need to be aware of Curnow without focusing too much on him, because the Falcons do have other goal scoring options, as illustrated by Brett Blair last week. Stopping Curnow would be be the number one item on the Ranges’ whiteboard however.

3. Fresh legs could play a factor

Eastern Ranges might have had one less day to prepare for the clash, however they certainly had the easier contest. The Geelong-North Ballarat clash had tough one-on-one, body crunching hits and tiring efforts all the way to the final siren. Eastern opened up a 64-point three quarter time lead in its clash and put the proverbial cue in the rack to rest up for this game.

Ironically, Calder booted six goals in a row to bring the margin to less than 30 goals, before Eastern was forced to tighten up and halt the flow in the last 10 minutes. This week, both sides could be on level pegging with the extra day versus the easier match, but as it usually shows in the AFL, teams that have the ‘bruise-free’ finals are usually advantaged.

Much like Oakleigh in the other game, if Eastern can stick with Geelong until three quarter time, it has every opportunity to win, by running over the top of them with fresh legs.

 

What do Geelong Falcons need to do to win?

1. Give it to Parish

While teams do not advocate using one player as a central figure in a game plan, players simply need to look after Darcy Parish and get it to him at every opportunity. Parish is the best kick in the side and arguably the league. While he’ll often kick it short, he will hit that target that very few can.

Another player that can use run and carry with short disposals is Will Sexton. Running off the half-back flank, Sexton can be used for the one-two and if Parish is well held, is someone the Falcons could move up to a wing to run free with ball-in-hand.

Between Parish and Sexton, Geelong are able to improve their chances of hitting a target up forward with these two kicking it. Let Rhys Mathieson get the ball out to them, but the Falcons will be better served with Parish or Sexton kicking it forward.

2. Open up the forward line

Geelong forwards managed to find a multitude of space early in the game against the North Ballarat Rebels and both Charlie Curnow and Brett Blair capitalised on it. Both players are athletic and also capable overhead. Clear out the forward line and let them work their magic.

Geelong should not be afraid to bomb it long to an open forward line, particularly with limited numbers, because both players are strong one-on-one and should be backed in to win the footy. As mentioned earlier, if Curnow can take his opportunities when he gets them, Geelong’s firepower up forward should get the job done.

3. Operation Mathieson

If the forward line is not functioning and a change needs to occur, the Falcons should turn to Rhys Mathieson. Much like Dane Swan one-on-one, Mathieson will not lose a body-on-body contest. He’s strong overhead, can read the play well and knows where the goals are.

Most importantly, Mathieson has a proven track record of turning games singlehandedly. Against Gippsland Power in his bottom-age year, he kicked three last-quarter goals to win the game for the Falcons. Earlier this year, he salvaged two points in their draw, ironically against Eastern Ranges, when he went forward late and played in the goalsquare.

Often a bit erratic at times, trying too hard to win it off his own boot, Mathieson has the ability to kick multiple goals in a short space of time, which might come with a few out on the fulls. If the scoring power isn’t working, throw Mathieson forward and Charlie Curnow can slot into the midfield as that bigger inside body.

 

What do Eastern Ranges need to do to win?

1. Do not be afraid to be selfish.

Last week, Eastern had many goal scoring options and the forwards often looked for a player in a better position. It is smart play, but sometimes it came unstuck. Kicking across 20m into the centre corridor allows for the potential of a spoil from a defender if the pass is not accurate.

Blake Hardwick was one player early in the game who unselfishly passed at every opportunity when he could have lined up and kicked a bag himself. Against the Cannons, there was a lot of loose checking and the Ranges were able to hit up loose targets sitting around the forward 50.

Against the Falcons, the Ranges will not have that luxury, so if Hardwick or co. are in with a gettable set shot, just take it and back yourself in. He in particular is a good set shot on most occasions, so his teammates can rely on him to get the job done.

2. Win the contested ball.

Geelong is a side with plenty of talented big bodies. Rhys Mathieson and Charlie Curnow are two that stand out, but there are a number of others who can win the clearances and inside ball. Eastern needs to correct that by winning the fair share of the clearances, because it cannot rely on counter attacking the whole time.

Last week, the Ranges were beaten in the middle despite winning comfortably, guys like Bryce Batty and Jordan Gallucci need to keep winning the footy and hitting targets up forward. If Geelong win the majority of the clearances, it will make life tough for the Ranges defenders.

Ryan Clarke is another underrated player and could well push into first round selections with a continued strong finals series. Add Ryan Harvey and Liam Jeffs to that midfield list of names and the Ranges are strong enough to match it with anyone.

3. James Parsons needs to stand up

If there is one player who needs a big game for Eastern, it is James Parsons. This kid is like a fancy car – he has all the extra features, but doesn’t always put it all together in one match. He does everything with class and only needs a few touches to hurt you.

Parsons is the player that could stand up and kick a bag beside Hardwick and is so hard to match up on, but he just lacks that consistency. He reads the ball well in the air, great on the ground and just kicks the impossible goals. But too often there might be a quarter or two where he goes missing.

Anyone who watches him can reminisce about a moment in time or a contest he had that you thought ‘wow that’s amazing’, but without a four quarter effort, he is below the Parishes, Mathiesons and Curnows. This final is cuthroat and someone like a James Parsons can stand up and demand to be a first round pick.

 

Matchups:

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Prediction:

Geelong will go into this game as favourites and rightfully so. If the Falcons had of held on for another quarter, they would not be having a game this week, but they fell away late and must now fight their way through to a preliminary final.

Eastern looked impressive last week, but it was hard to measure the performances side-by-side given the quality of the Rebels outfit against that of the Cannons side. Overall, both sides have the potential to score big despite not having a huge key forward. They use their medium talls to get the job done, which will make it an entertaining game.

While Eastern are in with a big chance, Geelong are more consistent and have the potential to defeat anyone on their day, with talent across the park, which will see them win by a few goals.

Geelong Falcons by 21 points.

TAC Cup week two finals preview: Murray Bushrangers vs Oakleigh Chargers

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In the first semi final on Sunday, the Murray Bushrangers take on the Oakleigh Chargers for the right to take on the North Ballarat Rebels in the preliminary final.

In the opening round of the finals, Oakleigh Chargers breezed past Gippsland Power in a 78-point belting, while the Murray Bushrangers hit the front late, but fell short by a goal against the Dandenong Stingrays.

Bound For Glory News will now look at the big question marks surrounding this game and how both sides can win.

1. The Schache factor

Lets face it, the majority of people who attend the TAC Cup finals without having seen a game before are fans of lower AFL clubs who have missed the finals and could pick up a star teenager.

Josh Schache appears Brisbane or Carlton-bound and will be a key factor in the Murray Bushrangers push to the next round.

He was beaten by Kieran Collins on the weekend, one of the few men who he has lowered his colours to over the course of the season, so Schache will be keen to have a big game this weekend.

Oakleigh defenders, Sam McLarty and Jack Firns will have their work cut out for them, with Harry Thompson also having the flexibility to go into defence if required.

Oakleigh might use Tom Phillips or Daniel Beddison in the same way Dandenong used Daniel Capiron – as a loose man dropping into the hole in front of Schache.

This will go a long way to nullifying him, but at the same time, Murray’s other forwards such as Max Canfield, Murray Waite and Zac Sproule have the ability to punish opponents if too much attention is paid to Schache.

2. Oakleigh’s frantic ball movement

Both elimination final winners won with fantastic ball movement from start to finish, moving the ball quickly in transition to stop the opposition setting up in defence.

The game against Gippsland was quite open, whereas Murray’s match against Dandenong was tight and contested.

This could mean that Murray players are likely to be a bit sorer coming off their match, but it also means that Oakleigh players did not have as much pressure applied to them as what they’ll receive this weekend.

It will be a great test to see if they can continue to move the ball with the same ease and hitting targets.

Murray defenders rarely panic and are well set up, with midfielders dropping back to help out when required.

If the Chargers can continue their ball movement, it will go a long way to winning the contest, but they have to make the most of their chances.

3. Beware the smalls

Both sides have very talented medium and small midfielder-forwards who can hurt oppositions once the ball hits the ground.

Murray’s Jy Simpkin and Will Brodie are two names that will feature high in next year’s draft, with goal sense and ability to be at the drop of the ball a feature to their game.

For Oakleigh, Ben Crocker’s ability to take marks on the lead or crumb is a feature of his game.

Patrick Phillips and Patrick Kerr, who albeit is that undersized tall, also know how to find the goals from a loose ball.

While much is talked about the big key forwards, the winner of this match could well be the one whose smalls have the most impact.

 

What do Murray need to do to win?

1. Pressure the ball carrier

Absolute must for the Bushrangers if they are to win. Oakleigh did as they pleased for much of the game against Gippsland, particularly late and Murray cannot afford to give them the same luxury.

Pressure the ball carrier and run defensively as well as offensively, and the battle is halfway won. They are good at it, they would pride themselves on it and Oakleigh love to run. Stop them at having the game on their own terms.

2. Don’t be too Schache conscious

Yes, Josh Schache is the best forward in the league.

But no, you don’t need to kick it to him every time, because Max Canfield, Zac Sproule and Murray Waite are no slouches either.

The Oakleigh defenders will be watching Schache and while there’s a good chance they might not be able to stop him anyway, making them question whether he’s the option the midfielders are looking for, will cause all sorts of headaches.

3. Don’t be afraid to bomb it long to contests

Murray forwards are good overhead and the small forwards are some of the league’s best crumbers.

Murray midfielders should not be afraid to boot long to a contest, because if the numbers are right, Murray will win it more often than not.

There’s a reason they finished third on the ladder and if they can particularly use the run of David Mennen, the ball movement can unsettle the defence and lead to good one-on-one contests.

 

What do Oakleigh need to do to win?

1. Back themselves in

Oakleigh will go into this contest as underdogs, but they must have the belief they can topple Murray.

While the Bushrangers have the more consistent team on the park, Oakleigh have a number of players that can have “out-of-the-box” games, where guys like Ben Crocker can kick a bag, or Harry Thompson or even Patrick Phillips.

Oakleigh must go forward at every opportunity, not haphazardly, but going laterally or backwards is only going to give Murray more time to set up.

Look forward and kick it there, even if it is a short kick, move the ball down the ground and use the faster forwards to find space.

2. Use the extra day to advantage

Usually the qualifying finals are both played on the Saturday in the first week of finals, with the elimination finals played on the Sunday, to give the top four teams an extra day’s rest ahead of the week two finals.

This year, Oakleigh had the advantage of playing on the Saturday, and early Saturday at that, while Murray played the late game on Sunday.

While it is only an extra day, the young bodies are not that of experienced AFL players, so every day could count.

If Oakleigh can wither an early storm, which would be expected to come from Murray, then they could run them off their feet

The Chargers need to be within a sniff at three quarter time and they would back themselves in to finish stronger.

3. Get Ben Crocker one-on-one

If the Chargers are to win, Ben Crocker needs to have a big game.

He starred against Gippsland and he needs much of the same against Murray.

Not too dissimilar to past Oakleigh mid/forward Jack Billings in style, Crocker is strong overhead and equally adept on the lead or at ground level.

He is so hard to match up on, because he is too quick for key defenders and too strong for small defenders.

If Oakleigh can get Crocker one-on-one in the goalsquare, clear out the forward 50 and kick it either into the space, if on a key defender, or to the goalsquare if on a smaller defender, he will win the contest more often than not.

Matchups:

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Prediction:

Murray had a tough game last week and they should be looking to jump out of the blocks and put on a match-winning lead to sit back and rest up in the last quarter for the preliminary final.

Oakleigh cannot afford to get jumped because simply, Murray are very capable of piling on goals in a short space of time.

If Oakleigh are within range at three quarter time, they might well steal the match, but Murray have been the better team all year and while last week’s scores might look like Oakleigh were more impressive, this game will be much more of a test, because there will be more defensive pressure and it won’t be so easy to score.

Murray Bushrangers by 15 points.

TAC Cup finals wrap: Week one review

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Oakleigh Chargers 19.12 (126)
Gippsland Power 7.8 (50)

Oakleigh goals: B. Crocker 4, T. Phillips 4, P. Kerr 3, D. Johnstone 2, V. Adduci 2, C. Lane, L. Walker, S. McLarty, T. Duman.
Gippsland goals: T. Papley 5, T. Hobbs, B. Ainsworth.
Oakleigh best: L. Byrne-Jones, M. Wenn, K. Answerth, P. Phillips, D. Beddison, D. Cuningham
Gippsland best: T. Papley, J. Patullo, T. Beck, C. Buykx-Smith, T. Hillier, B. Dessent

The first elimination final of the weekend was billed to be a beauty, with both teams expected to challenge the top teams on their day.

Unfortunately, it turned into a fizzer, with Oakleigh keeping Gippsland at an arm’s length for most of the game, before putting the foot down in the last quarter to power to a 78-point victory.

The first quarter was a teaser for the fans, as Oakleigh led by two points at the first change.

Unfortunately, it never looked like a contest after that, with the Chargers belting away to a 33-point lead at half-time.

While Gippsland battled bravely in the third term to reduce the margin to 29 points, all their fight was gone in the last, when Oakleigh kicked the first few goals and ended the contest.

A nine goals to one final term saw the margin blow out to 13 goals, not indicative of the first three quarters.

Ben Crocker and Patrick Kerr were sensational up forward, booting seven goals between them, while Tom Phillips drifted down to boot four goals.

Michael Wenn was instrumental in the ruck for Oakleigh despite going off with an injury later in the game.

Kade Answeth had his usual output of 28 disposals, three marks and six tackles to lead the side well.

For the Power, Thomas Papley was a lone hand up forward, booting five goals.

In fact, it looked like a Papley versus Crocker contest in the first half, when both players were going tit-for-tat.

Papley kicked the Chargers’ first three goals of the game, with another goal kicker not coming until the third term.

Ben Dessent could hold his head high off half-back, intercepting a number of forward entries, while Nash Holmes was his typical in-and-under self, collecting 23 disposals, four marks and three tackles in the loss.

The big factor in Oakleigh’s win was nullifying the McKay brothers, with Ben and Harry restricted to 11 disposals between them, with only four of them effective.

The loss ended Gippsland’s season, while Oakleigh will go on to face the Murray Bushrangers on the weekend in the semi-final.

The winner of that game will face the North Ballarat Rebels in the preliminary final.

North Ballarat Rebels 16.15 (111)
Geelong Falcons 15.9 (99)

North Ballarat goals: D. Rioli 4, J. Cowan 3, M. Johnston 2, J. Hopper 2, J. Wheelahan, Y. Eades, C. Wellings, C. Byrne, D. Tucker.
Geelong goals: B. Blair 5, C. Curnow 4, H. Kol 3, R. Mathieson 2, W. Sexton.
North Ballarat best: B. Lloyd, J. Cowan, L. Meek, Y. Eades, J. Hopper, B. Simpson
Geelong best: C. Curnow, B. Blair, D. Parish, H. Kershaw, Z. Zdybel, T. Doedee

North Ballarat Rebels have survived an almighty scare from a switched on Geelong Falcons in the first half to salvage a qualifying final win from the depths of despair.

Trailing by 35 points at one stage, the Rebels hit back in the second half, booting 12 goals to six to run over the top of the Falcons by 12 points.

Daniel Rioli had a sensational third term, booting three goals in a row to cut the deficit from five goals to two,  before adding his fourth early in the last quarter.

After trailing by 29 points at quarter time and 28 points at half-time, it looked like an upset was on the cards. It proved not to be as the Rebels showed the fighting spirit they have had all year to come-from-behind and book a preliminary final spot.

A one-on-one mark in the goal square late in the match to Jacob Hopper iced the game and when the siren went, there was jubilation all around Ikon Park.

Bottom-ager Lloyd Meek had an impressive 42 hit outs, while Hopper had 20 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and two goals in a fantastic performance.

Rioli’s four goals and Joel Cowan’s three helped the Rebels get back on track, while Yestin Eades provided good run and the hard bodies of Tom Templeton and Connor Byrne proved invaluable in the tight contest.

For the Falcons, Charlie Curnow and Brett Blair were sensational up forward, but Curnow was starved for opportunities after half-time, missing some he normally would kick, finishing with 4.5 for the day.

Top five draft prospect Darcy Parish had a day out feasting off the half-back, with 27 disposals, two marks and seven tackles, while Rhys Mathieson was unbelievable in the last quarter, winning contest after contest. Mathieson finished with 20 disposals, five marks, three tackles and two goals.

Geelong Falcons will now play Eastern Ranges in a semi-final this weekend, while North Ballarat Rebels will rest up for a week to face the winner of the Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers semi-final.

Eastern Ranges 17.8 (110)
Calder Cannons 11.10 (76)

Eastern goals: R. Clarke 4, B. Hardwick 3, J. Stephenson 2, J. Collins 2, J. Garner 2, B. Mitchener, T. Jacotine, L. Jeffs, A. Cotte.
Calder goals: K. Brown 4, Z. Wunhym 2, J. James, H. Kerbatieh, C. Moore, J. Flower, D. Tarczon.
Eastern best: B. Batty, D. Clarke, A. Cotte, L. Jeffs, R. Clarke, J. Parsons
Calder best: T. Wallis, J. Flower, C. Moore, B. Allan, J. McDonald, M. Stillman

Calder needed just six wins to finish eighth, while Eastern missed out on the top four after a last round loss.

It was billed to be a reasonably one-sided contest and that is exactly what happened.

While the scores might reflect a 34-point win to the Ranges, the cue was firmly put in the rack at three quarter time.

Eastern opened the match impressively, booting six goals to two, with Blake Hardwick looking dangerous and more importantly, Eastern seemingly having an endless amount of goal kicking options.

Calder’s ruckman Mark Kovacevic was giving silver service to the Cannons onballers, but Eastern had planned for this and had defenders camped at half back, to repel the quick clearance, while their mids ran forward.

The Ranges’ electrifying ball movement saw the Cannons mids caught off guard and Eastern often having multiple options sitting inside 50 lining up for a pass.

By half-time, the margin had extended to 33 points, with Eastern firmly in control.

Many at the ground hoped Calder could make a contest of it in the second half, but it was anything but.

Just 30 minutes after running out, the deficit was 64 points after 5.2 to 0.1 in favour of the Ranges in the third term.

With the game seemingly done and dusted, most sat back and hoped there would be some highlights in the last quarter to wake them up.

Little did they know, 16 minutes in, Calder would have piled on six goals and the margin was 27 points.

With just over 10 minutes left, people were looking at each other thinking ‘surely not’.

Unfortunately for the Cannons, it proved too much as the Ranges, who had eased off too much, got back to their defensive structures, kicked a final icing goal and effectively ended the contest with a tight, contested last 10 minutes.

Bryce Batty was sensational for the Ranges, as was Jordan Gallucci and Ryan Clarke, with the three picking up 28, 21 and 18 disposals between them.

While their numbers had been larger, Gallucci was all polish, while Clarke played forward, booting four goals.

For the Cannons, Karl Brown could be four goals, while Tom Wallis tried hard all day, racking up 26 disposals, four marks and three tackles.

Ben Allan was another worthwhile contributor for the losers, using his run off half-back.

Eastern Ranges will now take on the Geelong Falcons in the semi-final this weekend, while Calder will look to next year.

The winner of the semi-final will take on the Dandenong Stingrays in the preliminary final.

Dandenong Stingrays 10.13 (73)
Murray Bushrangers 10.7 (67)

Dandenong goals: T. Young 4, J. Battle 2, L. Williams, H. Prior, J. Freeman, J. Di Pasquale.
Murray goals: M. Canfield 3, J. Simpkin 2, J. Schache 2, Z. Sproule, L. Smith, H. Payne.
Dandenong best: G. Nyuon, J. Weitering, T. Young, J. Holden, K. Collins, Z. Rouse
Murray best: H. Morrison, C. Oliver, H. Tanner, M. Waite, M. King, H. Payne

The final game of the first week was billed to be the best of the lot, with top two picks Josh Schache and Jacob Weitering set to do battle in the same area.

While Kieran Collins took Schache for most of the game, visitors did get a glance at the pairing on occasions.

It would have pleased the Ikon Park home fans, with one or both expected to land at the Blues next year.

The match lived up to its hype, with a late goal to the Dandenong Stingrays sealing the six-point win.

Prior to an entertaining first quarter, the Stingrays had been in front, but could not quite put the Bushrangers away, leading 3.4 to 1.1 at the first break.

Murray hit back in the second term to cut the deficit to seven points, with some pinpoint shooting, kicking 6.1 to 6.8

Schache had two goals and was solid despite Collins being the ever-reliable defender.

The third quarter gave the fans no indication of who would win the match, with both sides locking down and kicking two goals each, for Dandenong to hold a narrow five-point lead at the last change.

The final term was as good as quarters can possibly get, with Dandenong and Murray going toe-for-toe.

Dandenong had breathing space until the last ten minutes, when Murray hit the front by a point through Max Canfield who won a controversial 50-metre penalty and kicked from the goal square.

At the 23 minute mark, James Freeman marked 40 metres out directly in front, but his shot faded to the right to level the scores.

Then, the highlight of the weekend, with Jake Lovett taking a towering mark and while his mark will be most remembered from that game, his kick hit up James Freeman again in a similar position.

This time, Freeman made no mistake, kicking truly and putting Dandenong up by a goal at the 26 minute mark.

Two minutes later the siren went and Dandenong advanced through to the preliminary final in an epic battle.

Gach Nyuon was sensational for Dandenong with 32 hit-outs to accompany his 19 disposals, seven marks and three tackles, while Lachlan Williams, Zac Rouse and Jack Holden were also impressive.

Jacob Weitering controlled the back-half with Kieran Collins, while Travis Young was the dominant forward with four goals.

For Murray, Clayton Oliver was the best, with 22 disposals, four marks and four tackles, while Harry Morrison, Murray Waite and James Cousins also impressed.

Murray will now take on Oakleigh Chargers in the semi-final next week, while Dandenong will await the winner of the Geelong and Eastern clash in a fortnight.

Calder assert dominance after disappointing first quarter

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After witnessing one of the best TAC Cup matches of all time, many fans at Visy Park hoped that the next qualifying final could be just as exciting. It was, for about a half.

The Calder Cannons have been the dominant team all season, finishing minor premiers after leap-frogging the Oakleigh Chargers. They have a strong midfield, a dangerous forward line and receive good rebound from half back. They are also incredibly tall which gives them a bonus.

The North Ballarat Rebels jumped into fourth after a good final round, but many didn’t think they’d be able to get near the Cannons given the superiority the tall forwards would provide the minor premiers. Within 15 minutes, the crowd was left speechless as Jesse Palmer and the Rebels hung the Cannons out to dry in an impressive spell of football.

The score read 5.0.30 to 0.1.1 and nobody in the stands, arguably not even the Rebels staff and players, had expected to race away to that kind of lead. Jesse Palmer had four goals in 15 minutes and looked like he was going to break all sorts of records, as well the Rebels. Unfortunately for them, they kicked just four more goals for the rest of the match and just one more after half time.

Calder coach Andrew Jago was furious with his chargers after the first quarter and gave them a spray that had immediate effects. They returned the six-goal-to-two opening quarter with one of their own to lead by four points at the half time break. The scoreboard had forgotten to include a behind for the Rebels, which made the third quarter even worse because the 4th-placed country side didn’t score. In fact, the next goal the Rebels scored after half time was a late consolation goal to Jesse Palmer for his sixth late in the final quarter.

In that time, the Cannons piled on 17 goals and looked like they were raffling it to see who could kick the most goals. Jayden Foster won the door prize with six goals, Damien Cavka kicked five, three of which were in the last quarter, Josh Cauchi kicked four and Paul Ahern kicked three.

If those statistics didn’t make the domination clear, five players outscored the Rebels in the second half. The margin was made worse by the fact that the Cannons couldn’t seem to miss, kicking 10.0.60 in the final quarter and once they’d tasted blood, they didn’t stop.

Unfortunately for the Rebels, it was completely disheartening. Many before the game expected them to put up a fight till half time and simply be out classed. If this was deemed as a class difference, then it would be akin to the Queen challenging Geoff Shaw to an equestrian match.

Once it became abundantly clear the match was one-sided, everyone pleaded for the siren except the Calder timekeepers who arguably might have shed a tear when they had to finally put the game out of its misery.

Damien Cavka won the Bound For Glory News Man of the Match with his casual 30 disposals (22 effective), 13 marks, six tackles and five goals with Jayden Foster, Matthew Goodyear, Josh Cauchi and Mark Kovacevic all amongst the best. For the Rebels, there was Jesse Palmer and Oscar McDonald. Apparently there were over 20 other players, but they seemed to go home at half time.

Jesse Palmer should be recognised for his 16 disposals, eight marks and six goals in what was a tough day in the office for anyone in the forward half for the Rebels. Oscar McDonald kept Peter Wright to just 8 disposals which considering the amount of ball that entered the forward 50, McDonald should be nominated for Australian of the Year.

In the end it was an ugly 99-point margin with the Cannons earning a week off to face the winner of the Falcons and Stingrays while the Rebels must address a number of issues this week before taking on the Dragons next week.