MURRAY Bushrangers have bounced back into the top four and now sit just two points behind second after favourable results. The Bushrangers defeated the Bendigo Pioneers, while losses to the Oakleigh Chargers and Western Jets ensured the Bushrangers stay outside the top four was just a short one. Meanwhile Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power played out a draw, and the Northern Knights came from behind to defeat GWV Rebels away.
Western Jets vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Brandon Hutchinson
In poor conditions at Avalon Airport Oval, the Falcons and Jets were locked in a tight contest ending in a low a low scoring affair. By the end of the first, Falcons led by a goal, and by halftime that dropped to just a point. The game was scrappy and accuracy was less than subpar, but by the third the Falcons took control taking a 10-point lead and holding it until the end of the game.
Brayden Ham (18 disposals and six inside 50s) was pivotal in the Falcons win, having kicked four goals for the game. Cooper Cartledge stepped up to captain his side and dominated in the final quarter, taking plenty of intercept marks and finishing the game with 18 disposals, seven marks and five rebounds. Titit Nyak (15 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds) Baxter Mensch (34 disposals, seven marks, five clearances and seven inside 50s and one goal) Sheldon Ham (11 disposals and three inside 50s) also impressed with great composure and ball sense.
Hamish Murphy played strong out of the backline, keeping centred and in control of the ball. Darcy Cassar and Lucas Rocci fought hard through the Jets’ midfield to earn the contested ball and Steven Kyriazis played supreme overhead. The boys fought hard but were unfortunate in their fight back during the second half.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Liam Connop
On a breezy day at Shepley Oval, top-side Dandenong were too strong for a gallant Oakleigh. The Stingrays were noticeably taller than their opposition over the ground, which would be influential as the game went on. Though the game was tight early, Dandenong broke the shackles in the second term, piling on five goals to one to lead by 42 points at half-time. Despite this, the Chargers fought hard until the final siren, eventually succumbing to a 55-point loss and losing a place in the top four.
Campbell Hustwaite (22 possessions, 11 tackles) was great in-and-under all day in the midfield for the Stingrays, while Reid Nanscawen (26 touches, six marks and five tackles) had an outstanding game in the midfield. Effective ball-use was provided off half-back by Will Hamill (16 possessions, three marks) and Hayden Young (12 possessions, three marks) to help set-up many attacking plays for the Stingrays.
For the Chargers, Jake Gasper (13 possessions, four tackles, two goals) presented to the midfielders all day while teammates Xavier O’Neill (22 possessions) and Fraser Elliott (21 possessions) were prominent in the midfield. Daniel Scala (13 possessions, seven tackles) also tried hard all day, competing well to win the footy.
Bendigo Pioneers vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams
Murray Bushrangers have bounced back from a rare loss to Oakleigh Chargers last week, to record a 40-point win over Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Sunday. Murray booted the only two goals of the first quarter, and led by 20 points at the main break. Much like the first term, Murray came out firing in the third quarter, booting the only three goals of the term to stretch their lead to 39 points at the final break. A spirited Pioneers outfit only lost the final quarter by a point, but still suffered their eighth consecutive loss.
Jimmy Boyer and Ely Smith were busy for the Bushrangers, racking up 28 disposals each. Boyer took seven marks and laid five tackles, while Smith was instrumental on the inside with nine clearances and nine tackles. Kyle Clarke had a massive 24 kicks from his 25 disposals, also notching up five marks, six clearances, four rebounds and eight tackles. Up forward Jordon Butts was the main man in Hudson Garoni‘s absence, slotting six goals, while Bailey Frauenfelder had plenty of chances with five scoring shots from 19 disposals, but finished the game with 1.4. Bottom-ager Jye Chalcraft was one of the best on the ground, with his agility and forward prowess resulting in him collecting 24 disposals, four marks, four tackles and booting a goal.
Liam Marciano was once again impressive for the Pioneers, racking up 25 disposals, seven marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds. Jacob Atley was equally as busy with 25 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and two rebounds. The Perez brothers continued their good form from the week before with Oscar booting two goals from 21 disposals and six marks, while Flynn racked up 20 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four inside 50s. Zane Keighran got on the scoreboard with two majors, while Noah Wheeler had an equal team-high four clearances to go with his 18 disposals.
Gippsland Power vs. Calder Cannons
By: Peter Williams
A Jake Riccardi-inspired Calder Cannons outfit has stunned an in-form Gippsland Power at Morwell on Sunday. The Power went into the game as strong favourites, having brought back a number of talented players into the line-up, although they were still missing some stars due to Vic Country. The Cannons were well and truly picked apart thanks to the high level of Vic Metro representation, meaning their next tier of players had to stand up, and they certainly did that. When Gippsland held a 16-point lead at half-time, things looked good for the home side, but the determined Cannons fired plenty of shots in the second half, to hit the front at the final break by a single kick. Gippsland refused to give in and threw everything at the Cannons, but it was the over-ager Riccardi who single-handedly dominated the scoreboard, booting four goals in the final term, including the last goal of the game, to tie the scores and split the points. It was Gippsland’s second draw of the season after splitting the points with Northern Knights earlier in the year at the same venue.
Riccardi was the star of the show, booting 5.2 for the game off 10 disposals (eight kicks) making the most of his opportunities, while also taking six marks and laying two tackles. Sam Graham topped the disposal count for Calder with 20 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while also laying nine tackles. Ismail Moussa had 19 disposals and five rebounds, while Lucas Cavallaro was a rock in defence, notching up a game-high eight rebounds – three more than any other player. Sam Ramsay (19 disposals and four marks) and Daniel Hanna (18 disposals and six marks) were also among the high possession winners.
For Gippsland, Riley Baldi had a good day out with 29 disposals, nine tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s, while overager Austin Hodge was consistent again with 24 disposals, five marks, four tackles and four inside 50s, while also nailing two goals. Bottom-ager Brock Smith had 19 disposals, six clearances and booted two goals in his return to the team from Vic Country, while Josh Smith booted three goals from 14 disposals, while sharing the ruck load with 10 hitouts. Jake Van Der Pligt had another promising game in defence with a team-high five rebounds from 19 disposals and seven marks. Bailey Beck (20 disposals, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Rylan Henkel (26 hitouts) were others that impressed.
GWV Rebels vs. Northern Knights
By: Cameron Ross
Ugly conditions made it difficult, but the Northern Knights overpowered the GWV Rebels for a big win at MARS Stadium in Ballarat on Sunday. It was a game of inches with both teams having their opportunities to claim the four points and with the south-westerly breeze favouring the Midland Highway end, they needed to take their chances kicking to this end if they were to win. Both teams struggled in the first quarter but seemed to settle as the game progressed.
From early in the first quarter, Izaac Grant looked superb. The Rebels forward kicked his sides only two goals in the first term, the second being a delightful piece of play. The Knights kicked a very important goal against the run of play and into the wind in the last five minutes of the quarter, signalling their intent to win.
Both teams started to adjust to the conditions in the second quarter, and the Rebels began to clean up their disposal, and use their running players and when Grant kicked his third at the fourth minute mark, it looked as though it was going to be a good day for his side. However, this kicked the Knights into gear, and after Patrik Della Rocca responded moments later, the Knights all of a sudden were all over the Rebels. But the Knights struggled to capitalise on this momentum, kicking their set shots poorly, and not allowing for the wind anywhere near enough. The Knights missed three or four crucial goals, holding an eight-point lead at half-time.
The third term was the Grant show. He was outstanding kicking another three goals, bringing his overall tally to six up until three quarter time. The final quarter was tense and tight, but with the Rebels holding a slender lead for the majority. However, once again, the Rebels began to falter in the last 10 minutes of the final quarter, and you could see the Knights players running over the top of them. The Knights were first to the footy, and pressuring the Rebels players into uncharacteristic mistakes. However, the Rebels did have a chance to win it. In the final two minutes of the game, the Rebels owned the ball inside their forward 50. Despite it being chaotic, Charlie Wilson attempted a quick kick out of the pack which dribbled into the point post. This was as close as the Rebels got, as the resulting throw in was cleared as the Knights clung on for the victory.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, this game was like so many others for them this year. They have had so many opportunities to win games, and have not been able to get the job done. Instead of being 2-6-1, the Rebels could easily be 5-4, as the Bendigo, Oakleigh and now the Knights games were there to be won. The Knights deserved this win however. Della Rocca was impressive up forward, Josh D’Intosante was superb in the middle and the Knights engine room was outstanding and outworked the Rebels all day. Knights key defender Stefan Uzelac was their best player on the day. He stood up in big moments, and intercepted numerous inside 50 attempts. Grant was the best player for the Rebels, kicking seven goals in a losing side. Many of his goals came from 15-20 out, but this did not mean they weren’t deserved. He worked hard to get himself in the right positions and earned his big bag.
Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Peter Williams
Sandringham Dragons have made it two wins on the trot, defeating Eastern Ranges in a scrappy affair at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, claiming a 22-point win. The Dragons held their opponents scoreless in the opening term and a wasteful second quarter saw Eastern boot one goal from eight scoring shots as the home side lead by seven points at the main break. A four goals to zero third quarter blew the low-scoring game open to hand the Dragons a 31-point lead, before Eastern used the breeze to boot three majors in the final term and draw within 14, before a Dawit McNeish goal in the dying moments pushed it out to 22 by the final siren.
Liam Stocker was best on ground for the second consecutive week, notching up 30 disposals, five marks, four tackles, 10 clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds, while Jackson Voss – son of Brett – had another promising effort between midfield and defence with 24 disposals, five marks, five clearances, two inside 50s and three rebounds. Will Kennedy also backed up his form with 23 disposals, six marks and three rebounds playing in defence, while Harry Houlahan and Alastair Richards both had 20 touches and assisted through the midfield with a combined six clearances.
For Eastern, Kye Quirk racked up 30 disposals, two marks, five clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and laid eight tackles, while Joel Burleigh was also strong defensively with nine tackles from 29 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s. Mitch Mellis (26 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two clearances), Adrian Kalcovski (24 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and Xavier Fry (21 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) were other prominent ball winners.