Tag: Jai Taylor

Scouting notes: 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final

WE witnessed one of the all-time great Grand Finals on the weekend, with Dandenong Stingrays holding on by a goal against the Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park.

Dandenong Stingrays:

By: Peter Bonadio and Peter Williams

#1 Sam Fletcher

Ball magnet during the grand final always finds a way to get the footy in his hands. Pretty good by foot in his sides win, having a massive 11 disposals in the opening term, and 18 by half-time. Won more than half of his touches on the inside, and just worked hard all day long. Finished the day with a sore shoulder and blood down his face and jumper – his second jumper of the day, having to change from the number one, to the number 61 in the second half.

#2 Hayden Young

Solid defender who reads the play well when the ball comes into defence. Great vision to sense where his teammates are and has the ability by foot to get the footy to them. Has distance by foot to switch play effectively as well. Used the ball very well and won the majority of the ball in close, can play inside or outside and will be a top pick next year. All class.

#3 Jamie Plumridge

Good hands to get the ball out of congestion and find open teammates on the outside. He showed good composure and did well when under pressure. Plumridge finished the game with 17 touches four marks, three inside 50s and three tackles.

#7 Jai Taylor

A quieter game for Taylor, but he did try and break the game open at times. Has that electrifying speed when he gets going though and had a couple of eye-catching moments. Finished with the 10 disposals and two inside 50s.

#9 Zac Foot

Two goals in a grand final, Foot has a great goal sense. He was very lively when up forward and applies a lot of pressure on his opponents. Not only was he good overhead in contests, but something good always seems to happen when he is involved in the passage of play. His best finals game with 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and the two majors.

#13 Riley Bowman

One of, if not his best game for the season. Bowman was terrific across four quarters and made the most of his height advantage over the smaller Oakleigh ruckmen. He was dominant at the stoppages and got first hands to it on most occasions, but also did the defensive things right, laying tackles, and putting pressure on the ball carrier. He kicked the opening goal of the game and got the crowd up and about early. He did occasionally rush a few kicks to go for distance rather than accuracy, but overall it was a strong game, and he made his presence felt with some good contested marks.

#15 Toby Bedford

He set the tone early with a great tackle inside 50 and just seemed to find space around the ground winning the ball. At times he danced around opponents and tried to set up plays, and while he was not as effective as his past two finals, still had a few eye-catching moments. He kicked an important goal in the second term to keep Dandenong’s momentum high, he just did not have the four quarter consistency on the day, picking up nine of his 10 touches in the middle two quarters.

#16 Jake Frawley

If there is one image that will stick with Dandenong Stingrays fans from the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final, it is Frawley charging off the interchange bench to crunch Will Phillips in a bone-crunching tackle that exemplified Dandenong’s intent on the day. Unfortunately he had a mis-kick with the free he won, and his kicking was a bit hit and miss at times, but his defensive pressure and hands in close was good.

#18 Mitch Riordan

He has built some really solid form since returning from injury, and did a few nice things when the heat was on in the game. Early on he took a good intercept mark at half-back, and just used the ball really cleanly both on the inside and out. He does not win a heap of it, but he gets involved around the stoppages and provided good support along with his other midfielders.

#27 Lachlan McDonnell

The stats sheet does not do McDonnell justice for the game he played. While he was quiet early, his long kick off half-back set up a scoring chain to lead to Bailey Williams’ first goal early in the second term. With the game on the line, McDonnell’s second and third terms were very good, creating run and carry, trying to drive the ball forward. His kicking was a treat to watch, and it was his running goal from 50m in the final term that sealed the game – or so everyone thought at the time. Really strong out of defence and would have high metres gained.

#29 Bailey Williams

Had a quiet first term and was beaten on-on-one by Will Kelly, but then started to get going after that. His one kick in the first term set up a goal with a good, deep inside 50. Williams had a chance in the second term and it looked a bit of a mongrel off the boot but it floated through for his first to get the team up and about. He kicked another important goal in the third term, and missed another chance, when Oakleigh were coming at them. He did not have a massive contribution compared to some weeks, but he did kick two goals at important stages.

#58 Will Hamill

Played a really important role in the back half. He took a crucial intercept mark in the dying minutes when he read the play perfectly, floated in front of an Oakleigh forward, snatched the ball from them and kept running to kick it out of the danger zone. His decision to come off his opponent and chop off the inboard kick could have saved a goal, and potentially the match. He won a number of crucial one-on-ones throughout the match, and even coach, Craig Black praised him post-match for his consistency back there under siege. He just has that touch of class, and is a kick-first type player.

#59 Sam Sturt

The draft bolter looked lively early, and actually beat Isaac Quaynor a couple of times on the lead, forcing Oakleigh to switch Quaynor with Charlie Beasley. Sturt not only provided a presence on the lead, but his effectiveness when kicking inside 50 was a treat. He set up a goal for Zac Foot in the first term when he handballed off the deck to the waiting Foot. In the second half he hit the scoreboard, booting two goals, while finding plenty of the football for a leading forward, taking six marks and firing the ball inside 50 on five occasions.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

By: Craig Byrnes

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

The tall midfielder was enjoyable to watch, producing an influential first half in particular that garnered 13 disposals. He was strong and clean in congestion, often getting his arms high to release or accelerating with eye catching flair into the forward half. He kicked a great goal in the first term, turning into the arc to finish brilliantly from 45 metres out. He is good overhead too, which is a pretty handy trait for a mid at 193cm, taking two strong marks from opposition kicks. He even spent some time in the ruck late, winning a couple of hit outs to advantage to the surprise of many. The first round prospect fought hard all day for his 19 disposals.

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

The exciting half back won his fair share of the ball, rebounding from the defensive arc with flair and vigour as we have become accustomed to. While he is encouraged to take the game on, he uncharacteristically got caught with the ball on occasions. He lost his feet and fumbled at crucial times in dangerous positions, but a lot of that can be applauded to Dandenong’s brilliant defensive pressure. He still had a good offensive outing though, giving his team drive and carry with the occasional evasive trick during the Charger’s final term comeback to end with 18 disposals.

#4 Will Kelly

Started the game in defence as one of Oakleigh’s KPDs, manning the dangerous and athletic Bailey Williams and began in fine fashion. He killed a couple of difficult entrances to the favour of Williams in the first term and consistently read the flight of the ball well. He won plenty of leather in the first half too with 13 disposals, but this is where he sometimes let himself down. Despite possessing a technically correct and attractive kicking action for his size, he often over hit his kicks which led to turnovers, including one that directly became a Dandenong goal. Spent more time up the ground in the second half, including stints in the ruck where he won eight hit outs. He finished with 19 disposals and is a great looking prospect for Collingwood as a father-son selection.

#5 Xavier O’Neill

The smart midfielder had his moments throughout the afternoon, spending time at the stoppages and finding the ball on the offensive side of the contests. He generally used the ball well, but had times when he could have made better decisions going forward. He did create some fast links though, including a long handball through the corridor in the third quarter and a brilliantly won ground clearance in the final term when Oakleigh were fighting back into contention. He finished with 17 disposals and five tackles in what was a solid outing for the Chargers.

#9 James Rowbottom

The usually prolific midfielder was in and around the ball, but struggled to have his usual influence at the stoppages. While he often finds a way to make time slow down in congestion, that relaxed manner saw him holding the ball for too long against the Stingray’s ferocious pressure in the first term and he was chased down. His intensity lifted after that, as he started accumulating ball and taking the first option to create faster link ups for his side. He released some really creative handballs during the final term in particular, nearly all of which ended as Oakleigh scores. Certainly did not disgrace himself, winning 18 disposals in a consistent performance.

#11 Matt Rowell

If you did not know much about the Charger’s bottom-aged star, you should be all over him now as he again proved to be a high priority selection for clubs at the 2019 Draft by being a rare best on ground recipient in a losing team. He is an elite decision maker with ball in hand, a player that creates comfort for his teammates and coaches. While his 31 possessions provided many excellent moments, his clear highlight was a brilliant kick to Dylan Williams inside 50 under extreme pressure. He took the game on in the corridor to get his side back in the game and while that led to some uncharacteristic errors, he was hugely influential in getting Oakleigh close. This kid is a genuine star and a worthy medallist.

#12 Noah Answerth

I really enjoyed the game of the Charger’s skipper, a competitor that was never going to let Dandenong have anything easy in any circumstance. He started at the first centre bounce and often went back to help his defence by sitting in the hole or directing traffic. He produced a big moment in the second term, chasing down the dangerous Toby Bedford deep in defence who looked like snapping a simple goal. He was effective at the stoppages too, using his body to advantage, spinning out of trouble and quickly releasing at one point in the second quarter. He was not far off Rowell and Collier-Dawkins as Oakleigh’s best, collecting 26 disposals, four clearances and six rebound 50s.

#13 Atu Bosenavualagi

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect is giving clubs plenty to think about. He is one of the big improvers in the competition and his AFL attributes are becoming more obvious by the week. He set the early pressure intensity for Oakleigh, making himself known without the ball and being physical towards his opponents. Although it is his attacking play that has really come on in recent weeks. A subtle side step out of traffic to create a goal for Williams gave Oakleigh an early lead late in the first term, while he took a clever mark from behind his opponent later in the first half. In the third term he burned off an opponent to give his side a genuine spark by kicking a bounce and carry goal. He is lively and if he wins 17 disposals like he did on Saturday, he will more than likely have an impact.

#22 Dylan Williams

Another bottom-aged star that had a relevant influence on the close result. Williams continued his outstanding purple patch of goal kicking form to finish with four goals from full-forward. While he only had nine disposals in an underrated one on one battle with Daniel Frampton, he created problems for the Dandenong defender whenever the ball entered his zone. Three of his goals came from left foot snaps or “J-curve” set shots, a skill he already appears to have mastered. His best came from a freakish, almost half-volley pick up from which he swung onto his left again with absolute class. He also smartly went around the corner to set up a goal for Robertson in the opening term and took an excellent contested mark against three opponents in the goal square for his first goal. This latest haul means he has kicked a total of 14 goals for the finals series, a very early indication that this kid has the tools to be a big game player at the top level.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Probably one of the higher rated players that Oakleigh would have liked to get more out of. Quaynor started the game on Dandenong’s dangerous hybrid forward Sam Sturt, who exposed the Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect on the lead early. It led to Quaynor being moved off him before the end of the first quarter and he immediately looked more comfortable as the extra defender. With ball in hand he was calm and made good decisions behind the ball, before being moved to the midfield later in the game. He did not get a great opportunity to settle, but we already know what he offers and the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid come November.

#31 Will Golds

The predominantly outside midfielder or wingman consistently found himself with ball in hand, winning it 25 times in a very productive outing. He is a player who loves to be on the move when in possession, whether it is darting through traffic or running to space to create a link up option. He is smart and releases it quickly, often with the next play up the field in mind. He gets in good positions and knows where to find a handball receive, while his kicking was creative despite a missed short pass in the middle that became a turnover during the third term. He did present Collier-Dawkins with a lovely long weighted pass inside 50 in the first quarter that helped earn his teammate a free kick and regularly hit up targets on the run.

#32 Jack Ross

The thick set inside midfielder has been generating a bit of interest in recent times and again produced some good moments in the Grand Final. He impressed when he went back with the flight and then laid an aggressive tackle, gathered the loose ball cleanly and quickly released to start the chain for an important Dylan Williams goal in the first term. He also won an excellent ground ball in the third term that set up Atu’s memorable running goal, again at a vital period to keep Oakleigh within reach. He then got on the end of one to kick a goal that got his side within two goals in the final term. He is a good player and most importantly rose when his team needed it most in an underrated outing to finish with 19 disposals.

#64 James Jordan

The draft bolter of Oakleigh’s midfield started the game on fire, winning 10 first quarter possessions to be one of the best players on the ground early in the contest. He won two extremely clean ground balls during that period, releasing both to the advantage of his teammates. He was having a genuine influence, but certainly quietened as the match went on. He earned a free kick in the final term after putting his head over the ball, but was rarely sighted otherwise after the first break. He ended the game with a respectable 17 disposals and it will be interesting to see where clubs rate him, as there is certainly some talent.

 

Non-Combine invitees who stood out:

#23 Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong) – 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds and four clearances – huge contributor in the midfield by the co-captain.

#41 Lachlan Stenning (Dandenong) – 21 disposals, two marks, four clearances, four inside 50s, six rebounds – clean out of defence and stood out throughout with some important rebounds.

#10 Charlie Whitehead (Oakleigh) – 17 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s – put pressure in that forward 50 as he always does and could hold his head high.

Comprehensive 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final Preview

IT is the equivalent of Christmas Day for the TAC Cup competition, with the two best teams for the year facing off in a decider. We have the clear benchmark all season, in the Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the red-hot Oakleigh Chargers, who have been in sensational form since all their school kids returned to the team. We take a look at the big game from multiple angles in our Ultimate Preview of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

 

2018 SEASON REVIEW

1. Dandenong Stingrays – 15 wins, 1 loss, 211%, 60 points
3. Oakleigh Chargers – 10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 151%, 42 points

HEAD TO HEAD

R5: Oakleigh Chargers 11.6 (72) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 9.12 (66) at Warrawee Park
R9: Dandenong Stingrays 13.17 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 6.4 (40) at Shepley Oval

CHANGES SINCE ROUND 5 THRILLER*

*Including extended benches

Dandenong:
IN: Sam Fletcher, Hayden Young, Toby Bedford, Finlay Bayne, Mitch Riordan, Daniel Frampton, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan, Matthew Cumming, Sam Sturt
OUT: Jake Carosella, James Hickey, Jarrod Smith, William Geurts, Sam De Koning, Bailey Angwin

Oakleigh:
IN: Will Kelly, Noah Anderson, James Rowbottom, Matthew Rowell, Kyle Dunkley, Lucas Westwood, Trent Bianco, Bailey Wraith, Will Golds, Jack Ross, Matt Warren, James Jordan
OUT: Sam Harte, Lachlan Bugeja, Xavier Fry, Matthew Fewings, Ben Silvagni, Kyle Viccars, Josh May, Daniel Scala, Lachlan Harry, Sam Elliot

 

WHO HAS COMBINE INVITES?

National:

Dandenong Stingrays [6]: Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams
Oakleigh Chargers [7]: Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Will Kelly, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, James Rowbottom

State/Rookie Me:

Dandenong Stingrays [10]: Stephen Cumming, Sam Fletcher, Jake Frawley, Matthew Gahan, Lachlan McDonnell, Jamie Plumridge, Mitch Riordan, Bailey Schmidt, Jai Taylor, Lachlan Young
Oakleigh Chargers [6]: Joe Ayton Delaney, Atu Bosenavulagi, Kyle Dunkley, Jake Gasper, James Jordon, Jack Ross

Note: Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh) and Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong) have combine invitations but are unavailable due to injury.

PLAYERS

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

#1 Sam FLETCHER

Just keeps winning the football every week and puts in a consistent effort. He will join Hustwaite on the inside and look to fire out a number of handballs to teammates in space, and will often look to win that one-on-one duel when given the chance. Does not get to the outside as much as other midfielders, but does all the damage at the coal face, expect him to be prominent in there again.

#2 Hayden YOUNG

The potential number one pick next year looked sore throughout the preliminary final last week and got moved from the back pocket to the extended interchange, so it appeared to be a waiting game on whether he would play. Unbelievable talent with and a hardness at the ball, can play anywhere on the field, but he has been used off half-back with that smooth running and deadly foot skills a highlight.

#3 Jamie PLUMRIDGE

Tipped by TAC Cup Radio’s Matthew Cocks for the Best on Ground, Plumridge has been a consistent performer this year. Plumridge is an outside midfielder who often wins it on the wing and pumps it inside 50 to the tall targets.

#7 Jai TAYLOR

An electrifying speedster, Taylor is one of the fastest players in the competition, and with Toby Bedford, has the capability of breaking the lines and causing disruption amongst the opposition zone. While he does not always do it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and take the game on.

#9 Zac FOOT

Burst onto the scene early in the season to make Vic Country after never having made a previous Stingrays’ squad. He played throughout the National Under 18 Championships, and while he did not star, he still had some impressive moments. Adds a different element to the team because he can win it inside or out, play back, forward or through the midfield and has a high impact per possession when he is on.

#10 Lachlan YOUNG

A defender who loves to rebound and use the ball well, he does not find a lot of it – averaging just 12.5 disposals per game. But almost 25 per cent of his possessions are rebounds, with Young ensuring the ball can clear the defensive zone.

#11 Ned CAHILL

Named as the 23rd player, Cahill showed in last week’s preliminary final just how damaging he could be booting two goals and passed off another couple. Still a bottom-age player, Cahill has emerged as a genuine goal sneak at 177cm. Has to be respected because he just gets to the right positions.

#12 Matthew GAHAN

Has enjoyed a really solid season off half-back earning himself a State Combine invitation. Gahan is a strong ball user and a player who his teammates like getting the ball into the hands of. With Oakleigh’s strong forward line, Gahan will need to be used both offensively and defensively in order to still create drive while restricting one of the many dangerous Chargers’ defenders.

#13 Riley BOWMAN

Is suited to the number one ruck role, but can play forward which is where he is expected to play. Often the Stingrays rotate Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Bailey Williams through the ruck such is their luxury. Bowman’s pure ruckwork is arguably the best of the lot, because he gets his hands to most throw-ins or ball-ups and can palm down to his midfielders. Big men seem to be out of fashion lately, so a big game would be huge to determine where he slots in.

#15 Toby BEDFORD

One of the most in-form Stingrays of late, Bedford has a great mix of offensive and defensive skills, providing line-breaking ability as well as tackling pressure in the forward half. He can kick multiple goals in a game, and pinch-hit in the midfield to break up the game. He offers a different element to the Dandenong midfield, and the Melbourne Next Generation Academy player is one who Demons fans will enjoy watching over the years, with the assumption they match the bid that comes in.

#16 Jake FRAWLEY

A strong midfielder who can play out of full-forward such is his strength one-on-one or in the air. Booted six goals against against Bendigo Pioneers at Shepley Oval playing almost exclusively as a forward. He adds some depth to the midfield and his versatility is important when the big day rolls around.

#17 Finlay BAYNE

Another dangerous small forward who can play through the midfield. Due to the depth in the Stingrays onball brigade, Bayne has found a nice spot in the forward 50 and is good for a couple of goals a game. He is a good mover with good goal sense.

#18 Mitch RIORDAN

Highly rated at the start of the season, Riordan had injury concerns and missed the bulk of the National Under 18 Championships, and has only recently returned in the past month. He can use the ball well, and while he does not win much of it, he can often be found coming out of a stoppage and kicking forward. Athletically he is very good, testing well in the 20m sprint, agility test and yo-yo test, so it is just getting game time into him.

#23 Campbell HUSTWAITE

The Stingrays captain is another player who has been in fine form the past couple of months and seems made for the big stage. He has lead from the front in the TAC Cup finals series and does everything expected of him. Against a strong Oakleigh midfield, his desire and competitiveness will be called upon to match it with the likes of Jack Ross and James Rowbottom. Hustwaite could be a best on ground chance given you know exactly what you will get from him each week.

#27 Lachlan MCDONNELL

Played at half-forward for the start of the season and has progressed onto the wing. Of all the Dandenong midfielders, McDonnell is one of the Stingrays’ most damaging kicks in transition. He is predominantly outside compared to the others, but he finds space and pumps it long inside 50.

#28 Bailey SCHMIDT

The big man has been unlucky not to play more games because he is a damaging presence up forward with great athleticism. He has just landed at a club in a year with ridiculous amounts of talent in the ruck/forward position. Still earned a State Combine invite, and while he has been named on the extended bench, is still one who has been able to show his wares throughout the 2018 season.

#29 Bailey WILLIAMS

The big key forward/ruck looms as the player Oakleigh must stop if the Chargers are to win their fifth TAC Cup premiership. Williams is an athletic monster forward who has a massive vertical leap and can cause plenty of headaches for any opposition defender. His goal kicking has been an issue for two thirds of the season, so he will need to be on target in the game. Expect him to have a bearing on the game, and if he can get an early major and build confidence – watch out.

#32 Daniel FRAMPTON

Has held down centre half-back at times despite standing at just 188cm. Can intercept the ball and averages 3.5 marks per game. The smaller Oakleigh forward line will suit Frampton as it means he does not have to battle against a 200cm monster.

#36 Stephen CUMMING

Starting in the ruck and even though he came off a little sore early last week, Cumming still played out the game and looks set to start in the centre square tomorrow. The big man will rotate with Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams in the ruck and no doubt try and wear down the undersized Bailey Wraith.

#41 Lachlan STENNING

The defender is likely to take a defensive approach on a forward whether it be Dylan Williams, Jake Gasper or Atu Bosenavulagi and try and limit their influence on the game. He is a low-possession player but one who can play above his height of 178cm.

#45 Luca GOONAN

Still a bottom-ager, Goonan was added to the side for the Grand Final on an extended bench. It is hard to push out the strong top-age presence, but he has had some impressive signs this season. He is readymade at 83kg already, and one to keep an eye on for next year.

#49 Matthew COTTRELL

A genuine honest midfielder who you know what you are going to get. Suited to the inside, but has played outside, he just attacks the ball and tries to clear it forward. Has had some impressive games this season and will likely need to beat his opponent this weekend against a strong Chargers’ midfield.

#52 Corey ELLISON

At 191cm and 88kg, Ellison is that medium size who can play tall or small up forward, and actually averages 2.7 goals per game from seven matches. Has been in and out of the team at times because of the strength up forward, if given the chance he knows how to hit the scoreboard.

#56 Matthew CUMMING

Cumming has played predominantly key position defence this season and just tried to beat his opponent one-on-one. Like his brother, he moves well for a 198cm player, but not sure what match-up he has in this match. With Oakleigh adopting a smaller forward line, he will likely play on a player close to 10cm smaller than him, so he must prepare for that.

#57 Reid NANSCAWEN

Named as the sole emergency for the side, he looks to be the one to come in if injury strikes. He has played a bit of everywhere, and held up the midfield during the National Under 18 Championships when Dandenong had absences galore. Is the type that can come in and play his role and will no doubt be waiting in the wings if the opportunity arises.

#58 Will HAMILL

An underrated player in the Stingrays defensive half. Hamill can play through the midfield, but his class and composure off half-back has been a standout of his game. He glides around the field, and while he is not a huge accumulator, he can hurt opposition with nice delivery forward. Will be held accountable with one of many dangerous Chargers small forwards who just find the goals on a regular basis.

#59 Sam STURT

The late developer has burst onto the scene of late after some impressive performances for Peninsula Grammar. He was boosted from a State Combine invitation to a National Combine invitation, and has already showed why he is in hot demand since playing for the Stingrays. He has electric skills, great smarts and knows where the goals are – so damaging.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

#1 Riley COLLIER-DAWKINS

A potential first round prospect, Collier-Dawkins has that blistering first few steps that can burn off an opponent out of a stoppage. He has been trialled up forward, but he is his most dominant on the inside, as he showed last week in the preliminary final. If he can use his strength, acceleration and penetrating kick to effect, then the Chargers will have plenty of hurt factor roaming through the midfield in transition.

#3 Joe AYTON-DELANEY

The running defender was unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invitation after some impressive performances early in the season. He is one that will be in high demand with a good Grand Final and just finds the ball. Uses it well coming out of the backline and has shiny red boots that stand out. A player Oakleigh looks to get the ball in the hands of, along with Isaac Quaynor, in the backline.

#4 Will KELLY

He will have his work cut out for him, regardless if he takes Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. He often enjoys running off an opponent and providing rebound, but he will need to be tight with the athletic talls. He can also go forward and provide a target if Oakleigh wants to throw a spanner in the works midway through the game. A Collingwood father-son prospect who will be watched closely by any Collingwood contingent that make the trip to Ikon Park.

#5 Xavier O’NEILL

Did not make the final Vic Metro squad, but showed enough throughout the 2018 TAC Cup season to suggest to recruiters he was in their top 50, earning a National Draft Combine invitation. He just does his job each week and is a really solid contributor. He covers the ground well and wins the ball in all thirds of the ground.

#6 Matthew DAY

The former basketballer was unlucky not be thrown a lifeline late last year, and has continued on as a really solid forward prospect as an overager for the Chargers this season. Keeps kicking goals and is strong overhead. A good size for development and one that the Stingrays cannot afford to let off the chain.

#7 Jay ROBERTSON

Did not make the cut at Eastern Ranges hailing from South Belgrave, came across and has been a valuable contributor up forward for Oakleigh. He is a medium tall who just keeps hitting the scoreboard and can fly under the radar with so much talent up that end.

#8 Noah ANDERSON

Another potential number one pick, Anderson is that prototype size for a midfielder, who due to the amazing depth of the Oakleigh midfield, has had the ability to almost play exclusively up forward. He pumps the ball long, can win it inside or out, and knows how to hit the scoreboard – as he did for Vic Metro against Western Australia.

#9 James ROWBOTTOM

The most pure of the inside midfielders, he gives his team a four quarter effort and wins a truckload of the ball on the inside. He is a clearance machine and just finds the ball anywhere on the ground. Dandenong are known for their hardness at the contest, and Rowbottom will be a key contributor for Oakleigh in trying to nullify some of the opposition midfielders.

#10 Charlie WHITEHEAD

A fierce small forward who loves to pressure opponents and just gets to the right positions. He has the capability of kicking multiple goals if given space and has a great goal sense. A pure small forward in every sense, he can push up the ground if the Chargers isolate another forward.

#11 Matthew ROWELL

Another Vic Metro representative in his bottom-age year, Rowell leads by example on the field. He has an uncompromising attack on the ball and is crucial around stoppages, but has had the luxury of playing on the outside, predominantly off a wing. He can play forward and kick goals, as he has the past two finals – kicking the first goal in both games.

#12 Noah ANSWERTH

The over-age captain does not do a lot wrong and can play anywhere on the field. His brother, Kade was best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final during Oakleigh Chargers’ last premiership over Eastern Ranges, and Answerth will be keen to put in an equally impressive performance. He made the Vic Metro squad and performed strongly and will leave no stone unturned in getting the most out of himself.

#13 Atu BOSENAVULAGI

Has bolted up into draft consideration after a quieter start to the season. His second half of the TAC Cup competition has been superb, and he is starting to regularly hit the scoreboard, while still applying the defensive pressure he was known for. Has made opposition clubs consider a National Draft bid, with Collingwood able to match if they like him.

#14 Kyle DUNKLEY

Has been on the fringe of getting into the team after spending time with Sydney Swans’ Reserves. With Oakleigh winning its past three games by an average of 101 points, it is a hard team to break into, but the forward will be ready if he gets his chance.

#16 Lucas WESTWOOD

A really reliable defender. With most of the other Oakleigh defenders being offensive players, Westwood adds that defensive hardness and ability to shut down a key opposition forward. He could well be given any number of smalls from the Stingrays who can kick multiple majors.

#17 Trent BIANCO

A skilful player who provides plenty of run and carry off half-back and through the midfield. Expect him to play more on-ball next season, but he has high-end talent and adds to what is a very strong bottom-age core at the Chargers.

#22 Dylan WILLIAMS

The bottom-age small forward is in ripping form, and just keeps kicking goals week-in, week-out. He shared them last week after six snags against Western Jets in the elimination final. He does very little wrong, and after spending time in defence early in the season, Williams’ strength overhead and great goal sense has him as a key player inside 50 for the Chargers. One Dandenong defender will have their work cut out for them.

#23 Isaac QUAYNOR

The running defender takes the game on and has some eye-catching moments. He might have to use his one-on-one ability more than he has had to in the past weeks, because Dandenong’s forward line will make sure he is made accountable. If he can get out and break the lines, using his speed and skill to create run-and-carry, then it will go a long way to Oakleigh winning the match. A Collingwood Next Generation Academy member to watch.

#26 Jake GASPER

The TAC Cup Leading Goalkicker and taking into account post-season goals he is the standalone leader, Gasper has been the most consistent forward in the competition. He has booted goals in every game he has played and his set shot routine is perfect. The Dandenong defence will focus on not letting him get too much air time because he is so smart in that forward 50.

#30 Bailey WRAITH

You have to applaud Wraith, who started as a key defender, but has stood up as an undersized ruck. He is measured at 191cm (though many believe he might be a few centimetres taller), and he has matched up against much taller opponents in the ruck. He will have to play his best game of the season against the Dandenong brigade however, with practically three 200cm rucks with big vertical leaps awaiting him.

#31 Will GOLDS

The most pure outside midfielder for the Chargers, Golds will be the one spreading to the outside and carrying the ball forward when given time and space. He could well match up against Lachlan McDonnell and the pair goes their separate ways, or they run alongside each other. Likes to set up plays forward of centre and has had a really solid finals series.

#32 Jack ROSS

The underrated midfielder from the Chargers has been building consistency very nicely over the past month since returning from school football. He loves the appetite of the contest, but can also spread to the outside and provide long kicks forward. He knows how to find a goal from a stoppage inside 50, and is one of many Oakleigh midfielders who looms as a key player on the weekend and one the Stingrays will put work into.

#33 Matt WARREN

Started the year as a key defender and can play up either end. Had the tough job of manning Max King in the top five pick’s only TAC Cup game and King booted eight goals in that game. At 189cm he has had to play on much taller opponents at times, but continues to battle above his height and weight range. A versatile option if a tall drops out of the Grand Final after being added to the interchange bench.

#36 Charlie BEASLEY

Rated really highly internally, Beasley will have to play taller than his 192cm against Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. The coach, Leigh Clarke backs him in and he rarely lets him down. Regardless of opponent, Beasley is the type of defender who will stick to the task for four quarters.

#38 Zac HART

Oakleigh’s forward line is harder to break into than Fort Knox, so for the potential Adelaide father-son it has not been easy to find a spot. Hart has been added to the side on the extended interchange bench, and he is a smart forward with good goal sense, but with Oakleigh’s firepower on show the last month, it will probably take an injury for Hart to squeeze in.

#44 Will PHILLIPS

The Under 16s Vic Metro representative has managed to retain his place in the Oakleigh line-up despite it being as strong as it is, playing as the 23rd player. Great skills, good spread and does not seem phased against the bigger bodies, Phillips looks a player for the 2020 National Draft.

#64 James JORDON

Played a couple of games earlier in the season and returned after school football, Jordon has provided good run and carry on the outside. Like Golds, Jordon predominantly is used as a ball carrier with slick skills to take the game on and delivery well inside 50.

 

FATHER/SON AND ACADEMY PROSPECTS

Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays) – Melbourne Next Generation Academy

Atu Bosenavulagi, Isaac Quaynor, Bailey Wraith (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood Next Generation Academy

Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood father/son

Kyle Dunkley* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Sydney father/son

Zac Hart* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Adelaide father/son

*Extended interchange

 

STATISTICS

Dandenong defence vs. Oakleigh attack

The key in this third of the ground, is whether or not Dandenong’s slick foot skills out of defence and springboard rebound can be used against the massive forward pressure of the Chargers. Atu Bosenavulagi (4.5 tackles), Jake Gasper (4.1) and Charlie Whitehead (3.2) provide the tackling heat, while Dylan Williams (62.8 per cent kicking efficiency), Jay Robertson (60.4 per cent) and Noah Anderson (56.6 per cent) provide the skills going inside 50. Gasper has been the dominant goal kicker this season, sharing the overall competition tally and post-finals has the most goals of any player in the league.

For Dandenong, they have some very nice ball users in the back half, lead by Will Hamill and Lachlan Stenning, while five of their six defenders average more than two marks a game. Lachlan Young (3.1 rebounds), Matthew Gahan (2.9) and Daniel Frampton (2.3) are that wall at half-back, while Matthew Cumming is the athletic key position defender who can share ruck duties. The big question mark will be match-ups as Oakleigh have a small forward line, while Cumming will no doubt be matched up on a smaller player.

Dandenong midfield vs. Oakleigh midfield

Two highly talented midfields will go head-to-head with so many crucial head-to-heads. Dandenong generally loves a contested brand of football, whereas Oakleigh love using their outside foot skills to advantage. In saying that, both sides can still play the other’s game. Stingrays captain, Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will provide the inside support, whereas Matthew Cottrell can play inside or out. Lachlan McDonnell is the most outside because he has the best skills of the five onballers, and has provided a crucial link between midfield and half-forward.

Will Golds provides just that for Oakleigh, whereas both Matthew Rowell and Jack Ross are equally as impressive inside as they are outside, and can get forward and kick goals as well. Noah Answerth can also play off half-back or half-forward and hit the scoreboard for the Chargers, while Bailey Wraith has been getting the job done in the ruck despite being undersized. If he can get forward and kick a goal, it adds an extra challenge for the Stingrays. He will have his work cut out for him against the best ruck division in the league.

Dandenong attack vs. Oakleigh defence

Dandenong’s attack is likely to cause a lot more headaches for Oakleigh’s defence than other sides have in past weeks. With Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman both athletic talls, it means Charlie Beasley and Will Kelly will have to be prepared to jump as both Dandenong keys are highly athletic – particularly Williams who is second to none with vertical leap. Jai Taylor and Toby Bedford are two of the quickest players going around, while Sam Sturt and Zac Foot consistently hit the scoreboard.

The great strength with Oakleigh’s defence is its ball use out of the back 50, with Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco all wonderful kicks of the football. Often teams can have at least one liability back in their defence, but there is no player in the back 50 who the Chargers would not feel comfortable with kicking the ball out of the back 50. The challenge for the Chargers defence is they have to expect Dandenong to bring the heat. Forward pressure from the Stingrays is a must, and Oakleigh must be up for that challenge.

Extended interchange of both sides:

The depth on both these benches, particularly Oakleigh’s, is madness. Riley Collier Dawkins could be a first round pick but he sits on the pine, while James Jordon and Xavier O’Neill are crucial cogs in Oakleigh’s midfield. Matthew Day has been a really valuable forward for the Chargers this season, while Vic Metro Under 16s talent, Will Phillips has been very slick with his ball use on the outside and shapes as an impressive talent for the 2020 AFL National Draft. With father-son prospects and sneaky small forwards Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart waiting in the wings, and the versatile Matt Warren also brought in to the extended team, Oakleigh has plenty of options to head into game day.

For Dandenong, Finlay Bayne and Ned Cahill both provide depth in the forward line and showed they can kick multiple goals, as they did against Sandringham Dragons last week. Corey Ellison has been unlucky this season given the strength of talls for the Stingrays, while Hayden Young could be pick one next season, but came off sore last week and whether he makes the final team is yet to be seen. Bailey Schmidt is another athletic tall who could come in to really stretch the Oakleigh defence, while Jake Frawley kicked a bag of six earlier in the season. Jamie Plumridge has been good on  the outside for Dandenong this season, while Luca Goonan is a prospect to watch for next year. Reid Nanscawen has been named as the only emergency in the team.

WHY WILL THEY WIN?

Dandenong Stingrays: They have been the best team all year and attack the footy with numbers. A fierce intent on the ball carrier, any opposition know that the heat will come and it will depend on how they deal with it. The Stingrays are not a high possession team, and opt for sharing the ball around, but still using the ball long and effective. They have the tall timber up forward to put in the air and allow them to mark it, because no-one is spoiling Bailey Williams if he gets a run at it.

Oakleigh Chargers: They are the most skilful team in the competition who are happy to use short possessions rather than take risks with long kicks, but know when to flick the switch. Often they will use a series of short kicks until a player breaks free and then they use run-and-carry to run down the wings and pick a target out inside 50. Without the height in there, the Oakleigh midfielder put low balls out in front of their teammates to run onto with their speed off the mark, key.

 

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO STOP?

Dandenong Stingrays: They absolutely must bring the heat on the weekend. Oakleigh dominate games when they are allowed to over-possess the ball and just wait until options free up. Dandenong need to ensure that firstly, Oakleigh cannot have free numbers wandering into open space, and secondly, that there is a defensive midfielder who is happy to drop back and fill the hole in front of the Oakleigh forwards. Unlike Dandenong where a 200cm athlete will crash into your back, Oakleigh’s passes inside 50 will be low darts, so the Stingrays need to restrict the free space inside 50 and force them wide.

Oakleigh Chargers: They have to be wary of positioning themselves well inside the defensive 50. They will be playing against much taller opponents who can fly high, and some of their usually offensively-minded defenders might have to do more one-on-one defending. Isaac Quaynor is arguably the best small defender in the league one-on-one and he might be the man to go to Sam Sturt, as Quaynor can play taller and is equally as smart. Bailey Wraith will also have his work cut out for him in the ruck, and while he has been fantastic, when you’re going up against high flying rucks that are towering over you, the goal is to nullify as much as possible.

 

GRAND FINAL HISTORY

The two teams have never met in a TAC Cup Grand Final before, but have been involved in 10 between them. Dandenong has heartbreakingly lost all five of their encounters, two of which exceeded 80 points. For Oakleigh, they have won four out of a possible five attempts, including a goal point to Jack Macrae in 2012 getting them over the line against Gippsland Power.

Dandenong Stingrays:

1997: lost to North Ballarat Rebels by 35 points
2005: lost to Gippsland Power by 15 points
2008: lost to Murray Bushrangers by 81 points
2009: lost to Calder Cannons by 14 points
2013: lost to Eastern Ranges by 112 points

Oakleigh Chargers:

2006: defeated Calder Cannons by 27 points
2011: lost to Sandringham Dragons by eight points
2012: defeated Gippsland Power by one point
2014: defeated Calder Cannons by 47 points
2015: defeated Eastern Ranges by 12 points

 

AFL Draft Central tips

 

Peter Williams

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jack Ross

Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jake Gasper

Ed Pascoe

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Cameron Ross

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

 

Total Tips:

Dandenong Stingrays 2
Oakleigh Chargers 4

Best on Ground:

Toby Bedford 2
Dylan Williams 2
Jack Ross 1
Jake Gasper 1

Dandenong books Grand Final spot with strong win over Sandringham

DANDENONG Stingrays have booked their place in the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final after enjoying a solid 42-point win over Sandringham Dragons at Ikon Park today in swirling conditions. The Stingrays did not have it all their own way throughout the contest, but won every quarter with a five goals to one third term giving them a buffer at the final break and run away with the contest in the final term.

Both teams started by feeling each other out, with the ball predominantly in the Stingrays half, but it was Jack Mahony, getting on the end of an Alastair Richards kick inside 50. The ball bounced up perfectly for Mahony who kicked it from the goal square for the games’ first. A long range shot from Jamie Plumridge resulted in one behind for the Stingrays as the rain poured down. Then a quick snap from Ned Cahill in the goal square put Dandenong in front. Cahill then set up teammate, Bailey Williams with a chip over the top and the big forward made no mistake from the set shot.

Sam Fletcher had started strongly for the Stingrays, racking up 10 touches in the opening 15 minutes as he worked tirelessly on the inside. Meanwhile it was James Rendell who lined up for a set shot, with the wind pulling it to the side and it was punched across for a behind. The Dragons trailed by a goal with less than 10 minutes remaining in the quarter. Louis Butler almost had the goal of the day with a terrific snap, just hitting the goal post.

With the remainder of the term being an arm-wrestle, Fletcher finished the quarter with 10 disposals, three more than any other player, leading Plumridge (seven) and Jai Taylor (six). For the Dragons, Charlie Dean had seven disposals, while Rendell was their best with six touches and four marks, while Ben King lead out to take four marks.

It took 30 seconds for Sandringham to almost conquer something out of nothing with the Dragons two stars combining. A beautiful pick-up off the deck from King and quick hands to Morrish Medallist, Liam Stocker saw the latter have a flying shot on the goal but just missed. Riley Bowman had an equally great pick-up, but just missed the outside snap. Then the Stingrays got on the board with Zac Foot winning a couple of touches working hard with Toby Bedford to get on the end of it to kick a goal. Less than a minute later Sandringham responded through Mahony with his second of the game.

King played the role of rover in he goal square, pouncing on a loose ball after getting free at the back and dribbling a goal home to put the Dragons in front. Moments later Darcey Chirgwin extended the lead to seven points with a big mark and set shot goal. Cahill then laid a strong tackle and earned a free kick for his troubles, kicking the goal, his second of the match and being Dandenong’s most dominant forward.

A couple of pieces of Sam Sturt magic saw him set up Bedford with a pin-point perfect pass, then a quick handball over the top. While Bedford missed the set shot, the next running shot on goal the small forward made no mistake, putting the Stingrays back in front. Bedford’s impact on the game was profound as he snapped an unbelievable goal, making it two in a few minutes. Chirgwin answered Bedford’s double with his second on the term with a dribble goal in the square. At half-time, Fletcher and Callum Jones lead all-comers with 13 touches.

The first meaningful shot on goal was a quick snap off the deck from Williams who just missed. The wind was playing havoc on the game with a swirly breeze blowing to one side and forcing a number of balls out on the full or towards the boundary line. Williams had his second behind of the term with another quick snap that got caught in the breeze, but all the attack was in Dandenong’s front half. With everyone fumbling and missing stock-standard passes, it was Bedford who stood tall among all others and just summed up the situation with a handball receive from Williams, put it on the boot and bent it around the body for his third of the game.

Dandenong was doing all the attacking and Finlay Bayne was the beneficiary with a perfectly timed run and goal to put Dandenong out to their largest lead of the game, at 20 points. Just as it looked like the Stingrays were running away with the contest, 23rd player, George Grey bobbed up at the right time and snapped on the run to cut the deficit and give the Dragons some hope. That hope was soon erased when an attempted rebound was smothered by Matthew Cottrell and the ball bounced around and landed in the hands of Taylor who run into goal and punished Sandringham’s error.

A second error, this time a miscommunication by two Dragons defenders when they were three-on-one against Williams saw Will Kennedy and Corey Watts crash into each other, Williams scoop it up, handball to the running Taylor who got boot to ball with centimetres remaining and put through another. Williams took a good mark against a smaller opponent but could not quite convert, but seconds later he heard the voice of Sturt, left it for the exciting medium-tall who pounced and made no mistake to put the Dragons 34 points up at the final break.

The important first goal of the final term when to Finn Maginness who earned a 50m penalty and made no mistake from the goal square. But with all the hope that brought, it took just two minutes for the Stingrays to answer through Williams who took a great one-on-one mark and kicked the goal from 25m out. Sandringham had not given up, pushing hard with a few good inside 50s but Dandenong’s defence was holding up superbly kicking long down the wing and making sure there were repeat stoppages, or space for their smalls to run. If there was any doubt about the winner, then in the tenth minute, Williams swooped on a loose ball and went bang inside the square and the margin was 40 points and the Stingrays were heading to the TAC Cup Grand Final.

To put some great icing on a terrific cake, Sturt judged the ball in flight well and judged the ball drop to mark amongst a crowd of players and nailed the set shot to celebration. He almost had his third a few minutes later, but it swung right to left and missed. Up the other end, King answered with a good mark and set shot goal, his second of the match to hand the Dragons a consolation goal in what was ultimately a disappointing day.

Bedford was best on ground with 12 touches, six tackles and three goals in an impactful performance, while Sturt was equally busy up forward with two goals from 12 disposals, five marks and six tackles, and skipper Campbell Hustwaite stood strong throughout the four quarters with a game-high 27 disposals, nine clearances, five inside 50s and four tackles. For the Dragons, Rendell was the best with 17 disposals – all kicks – and 23 hitouts, and laid five tackles as well. Clearly hampered by his shoulder, Stocker was huge to play out the game and amass 17 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds.

DANDENONG 2.1 | 6.3 | 11.7 | 14.11 (95)
SANDRINGHAM 1.2 | 5.3 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)

GOALS:

Dandenong: Bailey Williams 3, Toby Bedford 3, Ned Cahill 2, Jai Taylor 2, Sam Sturt 2, Zac Foot, Finlay Bayne.
Sandringham: Jack Mahony 2, Darcey Chirgwin 2, Ben King 2, George Grey, Finn Maginness.

ADC BEST:

Dandenong: Toby Bedford, Ned Cahill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams, Campbell Hustwaite.
Sandringham: James Rendell, Liam Stocker, Jack Mahony, Harry Reynolds.

Stingrays pump Rebels to advance through to preliminary final

DANDENONG Stingrays have sent an ominous warning to their fellow finalists with a comprehensive performance against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The Stingrays put the Rebels to the sword early and never took the foot off, running out winners by 110 points to advance through to the preliminary finals.

Dandenong started off the game on fire, completely dominating the GWV Rebels in the opening term. They did not capitalise on all their chances, with the likes of Zac Foot and Bailey Williams missing their chances. Lachlan McDonnell made the most of his opportunity on the run, nailing the first goal of the game, with he soon joined by Ned Cahill with an opportunistic goal from the square. When Riley Bowman out-marked Jayden Wright on the lead and converted, it made it three goals to zero and the signs were ominous.

A second Cahill major with a fantastic snap on the run right before quarter time saw the Stingrays up by 28 at the first change. Behinds to Mitch Martin and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan were the only scorers for the Rebels, and limited inside 50s made it tough. They had a couple of promising passages, but ultimately it amounted to very little with the swift ball movement and hunting nature of the Stingrays.

It did not take long after the break for speedster Jai Taylor to find space inside 50 and launched on goal for the Stingrays first of the second term to extend their lead out to 34 points just a few minutes into the quarter. Not long after Sam Fletcher was left all on his own about 40m out and took an easy grab. The set shot attempt was not perfect, but had the desired outcome with a great goal. Then Cottrell made it three in the first 10 minutes. When captain, Campbell Hustwaite almost made it four but it just skewed it, the Stingrays were eyeing off a 50-point plus lead.

Fletcher must have smelled because he just found space again with some really poor checking, took the mark but did not make them pay. Speaking of poor checking, Cahill somehow conjured something out of nothing with a great kick off the ground in the goal square to push the margin to 55 points. Finlay Bayne then pushed it beyond 10 goals off a Rebels error to nail a goal from a running shot.

There was little to smile about for the Rebels in the first half, but the likes of Jed Hill and Isaac Wareham showed glimpses of class, but it was too few and far between. Dandenong kept piling on the pressure, and back-to-back goals to Hustwaite and Bailey Williams. It took a while, but on the edge of half-time, Scott Carlin found space inside 50 and kicked it lovely off the boot for the Rebels’ first of the game to avoid a goalless first half. Then remarkably, a free kick and 50-metre penalty to Darcy McEldrew on the siren resulted in a second consecutive goal to the Rebels, to trail by 63 points at the main break.

The game recommenced with the talented Sam Sturt looking forlorn on the bench after picking up an injury and the Stingrays not looking to risk him. It was soon one down from each side with Isaac Grant also on the bench with a calf complaint. Matty Lloyd was crunched and had to be helped from the field early in the third term, but luckily for the Rebels Lloyd returned to the field not long after. The Rebels had an early attack up forward, with Martin winning a free kick on goal but could not convert, missing to the right.

There was a noticeable lift in intensity by the Rebels, having multiple attacks inside 50 but just missing their opportunities to capitalise with majors. The Rebels effort was exemplified by Martin, who won another free kick for a great tackle and locking the arms. Unfortunately the effort amounted to very little as Dandenong had a great end-to-end play which resulted in a great running goal to Jake Frawley. A Cottrell shot on goal tugged to the left, but the Stingrays were coming. Toby Bedford was having a ripper of a game cutting up through the midfield. A towering mark from Zac Foot inside 50 lead to another Cottrell shot on goal but was touched on the line.

Bedford’s fantastic game saw him get reward for effort with a great running goal to evade an opponent and nail the goal straight on. Rebels defender, Wright had his own opportunity up the other end with a quick snap on goal but went out on the full. The Rebels were playing much better in the third term, but the Stingrays pace and sheer determination to win the football and dispose of it was overwhelming for the ninth placed side. Another late goal to McDonnell – his second of the game – put the margin out to 82 points.

The first inside 50 of the fourth term saw back-to-back shots for Dandenong, with Hustwaite missing a flying shot, then he intercepted a Lloyd kickout, passed off to Bedford who lined up from 15m out but toed it for a behind – his first blemish of the game. Then the goal of the game came through Stephen Cumming. Tucked against the boundary line after a terrific vertical jump mark, he bent around with an unbelievable snap which sailed through and pushed the Stingrays beyond 100 points.

Dandenong almost had another goal with a flying, bouncing attempt but Wareham was good enough to get back and rush it across the line. Up the other end, Charlie Wilson who had been rather subdued made the most of his opportunity with a standard set shot goal. It was not long before Bayne responded for the Stingrays, sneaking forward into space, marking off a clever centring pass from Cahill, and kicked truly from the set shot. Then Cahill had a second goal assist in as many minutes, handballing to McDonnell in the square who kicked truly.

Wareham had another perfect pin-point pass to Wilson once again, but the competition leading goal kicker could not finish off the work this time, missing to the right. While highlights were few and far between, Ugle-Hagan continued to be a highlight taking some fantastic contested marks in the final term. Wilson had a third shot on goal in the term, but missed again. The siren was imminent but not before Cahill made it four majors, marking alone inside 50 and converting perfectly with a straight set shot. If that was not enough, Luca Goonan put the extra cream on the cake with a perfect snap on goal to put it well beyond 100 and end the game.

Dandenong Stingrays 4.6 | 11.11 | 14.14 | 19.20 (134)
GWV Rebels 0.2 | 2.2 | 2.4 | 3.6 (24)

GOALS:

Dandenong: Ned Cahill 4, Lachlan McDonnell 3, Finlay Bayne 2, Riley Bowman, Sam Fletcher, Jai Taylor, Campbell Hustwaite, Bailey Williams, Matthew Cottrell, Jake Frawley, Toby Bedford, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan.
GWV: Scott Carlin, Darcy McEldrew, Charlie Wilson.

ADC BEST:

Dandenong: Toby Bedford, Will Hamill, Ned Cahill, Lachlan McDonnell, Finlay Bayne, Matthew Cottrell
GWV: Isaac Wareham, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Lochie Dawson, Jayden Wright, Mitch Martin, Jacob Lohmann

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.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 15 Country

WE braved the chilly weather at Ballarat to take notes on some of the top performers in the Country Triple Header, while tomorrow we will post those top performers from today’s Metro Triple Header. The players were focused on either have received a state combine invitation, represented Vic Country or played in the Under 17 Futures game.

Gippsland Power vs. Murray Bushrangers

Gippsland:

By: Michael Alvaro

#5 Xavier Duursma

By his own accord, Duursma took time finding his feet in this game, but had a real impact on proceedings in the second half. He started off in typical fashion, on the move at stoppages and looking to push the ball forward quickly with his burst and clearance nous, while finding more ball on the outside in the second term. Some of his best moments came through his sheer presence around the ball, with a good bit of harassment in the third quarter leading to an Austin Hodge goal, and another repeat effort almost gifting Noah Gown one. He was clean in tricky conditions and showed his mix of class and toughness with a Worpel-esque hard ball get, shortly after he had evaded an opponent and dribbled through the sealing goal. A good testament to his character was that he told TAC Cup Radio he had to finish shaking hands with the opposition before giving a post-game interview – the kid is a ripper.

#6 Riley Baldi

Fresh off a great showing in the Under 17 Futures game for Vic Country, Baldi continued his impressive form through the midfield. He’s a master extractor, always busy at the stoppages and ever-present at the centre bounces in his long sleeves. He started off well with good attack on the footy, and his courageous marking attempt in the first term almost led to a Luke Williams goal. Baldi also showed he is a good judge of the ball in flight, with numerous marks taken as the ball came from high over his shoulder – one of which led to his highlight for the game in a clever snap from the boundary. He missed a couple more chances to hit the scoreboard, but his work rate to create those opportunities was fantastic to see, with one coming from an intercepted kick-out. It was a consistent showing throughout the day from the bottom-ager, one to keep an eye on for next year.

#9 Irving Mosquito

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy product was a little quiet throughout the game, but only needs a few touches to have an impact. He showed his typical flashes of brilliance though, handing off to Fraser Phillips for the first goal of the game, flicking out another to Josh Smith before he missed the shot, and taking the ball at speed in the midfield. He spent a good amount of time at the centre bounces, and was close to bursting away for some highlight reel clearances, but couldn’t quite break away.

#11 Austin Hodge

While Hodge didn’t rack up his usual amount of possessions, he managed to have an impact in a slightly different role. The over-ager started off finding a good amount of the footy between the arcs, but looked most damaging later on in a more advanced position. He kicked a nice goal on the run from just inside the 50 in the third term, but he would be disappointed not to have converted the two or three other chances he had in the second half.

#12 Brock Smith

Smith was part of Gippsland’s solid defensive unit, breaking down Murray’s attack and swiftly moving the ball out of danger. His rebounding was good in the first half as he often chose to kick long down the line, despite coughing the ball back up on occasion. While Smith made him earn it, he struggled during the third term to keep Zane Barzen quiet as Murray made a late push, but overall racked up a good amount of footy and did a good job of mopping up.

#16 Josh Smith

Smith was solid in the ruck with plenty of numbers around the stoppages and hitting his targets with his taps. He also worked well around the ground and found the ball in good areas inside 50, but couldn’t hit the scoreboard with two snaps falling short. He still managed to claim an assist for Riley Baldi’s goal with a long bomb into the pocket.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Another Gippsland product that starred in the Under 17s game, Phillips had an influential first half. Sporting two different coloured boots, Phillips booted the first goal of the game with a nice snap. He was front and centre at a heap of stoppages and pushed up the ground from half-forward to win more of the ball. His twists, turns and handball-fakes confused opponents and gave him time to deliver the ball on his left foot. Phillips had a particularly smooth turn in the second quarter which led to an inside 50, but unfortunately looked to have limped off later on.

#23 Noah Gown

Arguably the in-form key forward of the competition, Gown continued his tremendous second half of the season with another three goals. He looked strong one-on-one with solid contested marks and led up hard at the footy all day. Perhaps the most impressive part of Gown’s game was his work rate and physical presence, with a hard-earned holding the ball tackle in the first term followed by an intercept mark from a kick-out, a shepherd which allowed Harrison Pepper to run into an open goal, and repeat digs at the ball to almost claim an overhead kick goal. The unsurpassable highlight of Gown’s day however was his sensational goal from the boundary from about 40 metres out, with a long hoof somehow bouncing its way through the middle.

#25 Kyle Reid

While Reid didn’t have much to do at times, he led the Gippsland defence well and was solid as ever. He did a good job on the dangerous Hudson Garoni in keeping him goalless, while also calmly rebounding out of defence by foot.

Murray:

By: Scott Dougan

#7 Zane Barzen

Barzen started off quietly but was able to work himself into the match after quarter time. He kicked the Bushrangers first goal of the match in the second quarter after taking a strong mark on the lead, showing off his sticky fingers. His leading patterns were superb all day, along with his ability to mark the ball at the highest point, which made it extremely difficult for the Power defenders to stop. Barzen was unstoppable in the third quarter, booting two impressive goals to keep the Bushrangers within striking distance. He was the most dangerous forward on the ground, along with Gippsland Power’s, Noah Gown. Overall, Barzen was outstanding for the Bushrangers, kicking three goals. His versatility and athleticism is what makes him such an exciting prospect.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash was involved in a heavy collision halfway through the first and appeared to be sore for the remainder of the quarter. He started to get more involved in the second term when he was awarded a free kick for a brilliant tackle in the defensive 50 on livewire, Irving Mosquito. Due to windy conditions on the day, his kicking wasn’t at his usual high standards, but he was still able to find plenty of the ball, especially in the second half. Ash’s final quarter was his best for the day. He was able to find plenty of space throughout the middle of the ground, putting his speed and agility to good use. He did his best to provide some effective run and carry, which was important for the Bushrangers moving forward. Ash has spent a lot of time across half-back this season but he was able to play the majority of his minutes as an outside midfielder today. Definitely one to keep a close eye on next year.

#18 Hudson Garoni

It was a difficult day for Garoni, with the powerful forward lining up on the in-form defender, Kyle Reid. The lack of inside 50s for the Bushrangers in the first quarter made it near impossible for Garoni to get involved. He worked himself into the match during the second quarter, setting up the first score of the day for the Bushrangers. Garoni displayed good vision with ball in hand and he was able to lower his eyes on multiple occasions to deliver the ball to his teammates on the lead. Garoni competed hard all day, but in the end, had his coloured lowered by Reid.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Geelong:

By: Scott Dougan

#8 Ned McHenry

The fiery midfielder was important for the Falcons with his consistent efforts on the contest and his defensive running. He wasn’t one of the biggest ball-winners on the ground but when he won the ball, he did his best to provide some run and carry for his team. McHenry’s pace and agility proved beneficial when it came to escaping congestion and breaking tackles. He finished with 18 disposals and five tackles.

#20 Brayden Ham

Ham was terrific playing across the half-back line for the Falcons and occasionally contributed through the midfield. He found the ball in all areas of the ground and he was exceptionally clean, especially in the wet conditions. Ham demonstrated that he is capable of playing in any position. This season, he has spent time in the forward line, backline and through the midfield, signifying his versatility. His marking was one of the highlights of his game, along with his clean and quick hands in tight.

#22 Sam Walsh

Walsh did what Walsh does best – accumulate plenty of possessions and run hard. Walsh was consistent throughout four quarters, but I thought he was not extremely damaging with ball in hand. In the first term, Walsh kicked an impressive goal on the run in the first term after impacting a marking contest that resulted in a turnover. He played mainly as an outside midfielder but he was able to win the contested ball when needed. Walsh knows how and where to win the ball, in all areas of the ground, which is what makes him such a damaging player. He was able to boot his second goal of the day in the final term, with an impressive snapshot from 35 metres out, keeping the Falcons within striking distance. The possible number one pick finished two goals and 25 disposals, leading all-comers on the ground.

#30 Oscar Brownless

The father-son midfielder was good but still needs to work on his consistency. He worked hard all day to get from contest to contest and showcased his offensive attributes with an exciting running goal in the second term. His defensive efforts were was also a highlight, laying a match-high 10 tackles.

#39 Connor Idun

It was a tough day at the office for the defender, especially in the difficult conditions. Idun played as a forward and with the strong winds and rain, was unable to get heavily involved. Idun is a natural defender and playing him as a forward had an impact on his output. As he develops, Idun will work on his forward craft and will hopefully become extremely dangerous at both ends of the ground.

#41 Cooper Stephens

The bottom-ager was outstanding in close and he continuously released the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. Stephens was not afraid to put his head over the ball and he worked exceptionally hard to apply as much defensive pressure as possible. His tackling was relentless and effective, laying eight for the match. An exciting prospect to watch next year.

#44 Sam Conway

The weather did not suit the big man but he worked tirelessly in the ruck all match. His first quarter was his best of the day, gathering plenty of possessions in all areas of the ground while providing his midfielders first use around stoppages. As conditions worsened after half-time, Conway’s impact was limited but he showed positive signs early on.

#48 Blake Schlensog

The imposing 198cm forward was fantastic in the first term. He had two shots on goal within 30 seconds, with the second shot converted successfully. Schlensog’s presence on the ground and in the air, was clear, taking plenty of strong marks and winning plenty of the ball in contested situations. He shared ruck duties with Sam Conway throughout the day and handed himself terrifically. His influence was limited in the second half but his inspiring first half did not go unnoticed.

#49 Dane Hollenkamp

Hollenkamp spent plenty of time on the highly-rated Stingray, Bailey Williams. Hollenkamp competed well and tried hard defensively, laying plenty of tackles and spoils when required. The highlight of his game came in the second quarter when he laid an important smother on William’s attempted shot on goal. Hollenkamp is still lacking in strength and size and will need to build on his frame before he can have an impact at a higher level. However, his defensive positioning, spoiling and efforts are encouraging.

 

Dandenong:

By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Hayden Young

The bottom-ager didn’t have his most damaging game, but showed glimpses of why he is already so highly touted for the 2019 draft. Young was clean in the contest and ran hard to make as many as he could, with one particular effort in the second term seeing him follow up to meet a long kick he had put forward. His best quarter was the fourth, where he almost managed to snare a goal from congestion with a snap, while finding the ball more and clearing pressure for his side.

#7 Jai Taylor

The wingman was again one of the more calm and effective users for his side, most often by foot. Taylor’s pressure and tackling was also handy, as he came hard off the line to have an impact on the centre bounces. He had a good passage of play in the second term with repeat efforts ending in a shot on goal which missed, but it was a decent measure of his effort throughout the game.

#9 Zac Foot

Based on the opposite wing to Taylor, Foot struggled at time to get his typical running game going. He had an opportunity in the first quarter to make a good start with a running shot on goal but sprayed it at speed, but made up for it in the third with a major after narrowly missing another snapshot at goal. Still, his bursts of speed out of defence were effective, and he gains so much ground when ending them with long kicks.

#10 Lachlan Young

Young made his presence felt in defence with manic attacks on both the football and his opponents – fairly, of course. He is a real competitor, and showed his hard edge with tackles early to set the tone, while carrying on with courageous marking attempts and efforts at ground level. His aggression almost hit a boiling point with a strong sling tackle in the third term, but it was otherwise a solid defensive display from the over-ager.

#12 Matthew Gahan

Gahan was part of the Dandenong’s robust defensive unit, providing a touch of class bringing the ball out of the danger-zones. He was cool in traffic, bursting through it on one occasion in the opening term, and delivered the ball forward via foot on many occasions. He had a good moment in the third quarter with a handy intercept mark and long kick forward which put his side on the front foot.

#15 Toby Bedford

Bite-sized Bedford was industrious from the midfield with plenty of one-percenters fronting his impact. He is deceptively strong and laid a huge tackle in the second term, while working hard to impact as many contests as he could and buzzing around the stoppages. Bedford provided a great releasing handball to Zac Foot for his goal in the third term, and stood up for his teammates when things got a bit heated – he loves a chat.

#27 Lachlan McDonnell

McDonnell started well forward of centre with a holding the ball tackle in the first term to set the tone for his game. He missed out on hitting the scoreboard after a desperate sliding intercept mark in the second quarter, and was then thrown back into defence. It was in the back half that McDonnell showed clean hands in congestion and mopped up really well at ground level. The best example of that was his one-on-one contest with Brayden Ham near his defensive 50 arc, where he brought the ball to ground and battled to get it over the boundary line.

#28 Bailey Schmidt

Schmidt was again solid in his rucking role, providing a good match-up for Blake Schlensog. He made a heap of contests around the ground, both intercepting and providing a target for Dandenong’s next kick up the line. Schmidt also chipped in with a couple of clearances and attacked it hard at ground level.

#29 Bailey Williams

It was an unusually tough day at the office for Williams, who battled hard all game nonetheless. His leap was outstanding, as would be expected, and he took a nice mark on the lead in the opening quarter. Williams also clunked a good contested mark in the following term, playing on immediately and indulging in a bounce, only to have his shot smothered. His repeat efforts and shows of agility were also typically great, but conversion has been a big thorn in Williams’ side and today was no different as he didn’t manage to trouble to scorers.

#58 William Hamill

Hamill was effective coming out of defence by both hand and foot, but it was his assist to Lachie Williams for Dandenong’s first goal that proved his best contribution early on. He also narrowly missed what would have been a memorable goal on the wrong side for a left footer after snatching an intercept mark deep in the 50. Hamill’s work rate was good and he found the ball in all areas, putting in a solid shift.

#59 Sam Sturt

Sturt provided one of the most impressive second games in recent memory with three important second half goals proving to be the difference between the two sides. He could have had more, hitting the post after intercepting a kick-out directed at Sam Walsh in the first term, and giving an opportunity off to Luca Goonan later on. Two of his goals came in the dying minutes, with his snap breaking free from congestion proving to be the sealer, and his goal from deep immediately after putting the icing on the cake. Certainly one to watch come finals and draft time, also loves a celebration.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers

By: Ed Pascoe

GWV Rebels:

#6 Charlie Wilson

Wilson was a ball magnet playing through the midfield in the first quarter (26 disposals total) but it was his work forward of centre that he is known for and he showed his outstanding forward craft on multiple occasions. In the midfield Wilson showed good vision by hand at stoppages and often attacked the contest hard. Wilson played predominantly forward after quarter time and kicked two terrific snap goals on either foot which now has him in the lead for the TAC goal kicking. It wasn’t just his goal kicking but his vision and ability to hit targets by foot inside 50 that impressed, hitting up Mitch Martin with a lovely pass in the third term.  

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin was another solid performer for Vic Country in the Under 17 Futures game and he brought that form against Bendigo providing a dangerous option when forward while also going through the midfield and attacking the contest hard ending the game with 21 disposals. Martin managed to kick three goals when resting forward with two set shot goals in the third quarter and a lovely opposite foot snap goal where he spun out of trouble. Martin along with Wilson was very influential and a major reason for the Rebels running away with the game. 

#14 Jed Hill

Hill was a hard worker throughout the day playing through the midfield and going forward on occasion. Hill finished with 19 disposals and six inside 50s showing his ability to drive he ball forward from the midfield. He attacked the contest hard through the middle and laid some heavy tackles. Hill wasn’t accurate around the goals kicking one goal and three behinds for the match. 

Bendigo:

#8 Brodie Kemp

AFL Academy member and bottom ager Kemp was one of Bendigo’s strongest performers playing as a big bodied midfielder while also going forward on occasion he finished with 26 disposals. Kemp played his role well, often getting his hands dirty at stoppages winning the ball at the coalface and cleanly dishing off on many occasions. Kemp’s hands where important at stoppages but also overhead where he took many intercept marks behind the ball while also taking some marks up forward with his goal in the second quarter coming from a nice contested mark. 

#17 Riley Ironside

Coming off a solid performance in the Under 17 Futures game for Vic Country, Ironside was a hard worker through the midfield going in hard at stoppages while also working hard to win the ball in transition.  He finished with 18 disposals for the match. Despite his good work rate, he was let down because of his poor disposals with a lot of rushed kicks at times. It was nice to see him trying to create play across the ground, and consistently go in hard to win the footy. 

#25 Flynn Perez

Also coming off a very good game for Vic Country in the Under 17 Futures last week, Perez was all class often running through the wings and half forward where he showed his great agility and composure with ball in hand with his skills a real standout on either side. Perez is the sort of player that can be real damaging when his teammates can look for him and give him time and space to work his magic. He is certainly one to watch for the 2019 draft racking up another 18 disposals and four inside 50s for the match. 

Draft dream not over for 2018 state combine nominees

MORE than one hundred draft hopefuls will test themselves under the watchful eye of AFL club recruiters at the various State Combine’s around the country. After the list of National Combine invitations was released last week – indicating those players with the most draft interest – last night the full list of State Combine, and Rookie Me Combine lists were released.

EIGHTY INVITED TO NATIONAL DRAFT COMBINE

A total of 126 players were nominated for the combines, with Vic Country having 26 players nominated, ahead of South Australia with 24, and Western Australia and Vic Metro with 21 each. It has also proved a bumper year for the Victorian Football League (VFL) with 13 players nominated to test, behind the four Division One states. New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) has eight players nominated, the highest of the Division Two states, while Queensland has seven, and Northern Territory three and Tasmania three.

In terms of individual clubs, Dandenong Stingrays trumps all others, having 12 nominees, making it 17 players heading to testing in 2018. Murray Bushrangers is next with seven, followed by Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers (six), as well as South Australian club Norwood. Fellow South Australian club South Adelaide, West Australian clubs Peel Thunder and Swan Districts, and Sandringham Dragons, all have four nominees. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Sturt, South Fremantle and Claremont have three apiece. In terms of Academies, the GWS Academy had six players nominated, Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions Academies both had three, and Sydney Swans Academy had one.

 

Full list of State Combine nominations:

NSW/ACT: [6]

Riley Bice (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)
Jeromy Lucas (GWS Giants Academy)
Nick Murray (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)
James Peatling (GWS Giants Academy)
Guy Richardson (GWS Giants Academy)
Mathew Walker (Murray Bushrangers/GWS Academy)

Northern Territory: [2]

Michael Mummery (NT Thunder)
Izaak Wyatt (Southern Districts)

Queensland: [4]

Caleb Graham (GC Suns Academy) 
Darcy Marsh (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Tom Matthews (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Lachlan McDonald (GC Suns Academy)

South Australia: [24]

Finn Betterman (Glenelg)
Connor Bristow (Norwood)
Chris Burgess (West Adelaide)
Declan Carmody (Glenelg)
Kade Chandler (Norwood)
Oscar Chapman (North Adelaide)
Tate Coleman (South Adelaide)
Jacob Collins (Norwood)
Job Colwell (South Adelaide)
Tobin Cox (Glenelg)
Darcy Fort (Central District)
Martin Frederick (Woodville-West Torrens)
Nathan Kreuger (South Adelaide)
Tom Lewis (Sturt)
Mihail Lochowiak (Sturt)
Tyler Martin (Norwood)
Aaron Nietschke (Central District)
Matthew Nunn (Norwood)
Kai Pudney (Woodville West Torrens)
Isaac Saywell (Norwood)
Jake Tarca (South Adelaide)
Casey Voss (Sturt)
Callum Wilkie (North Adelaide)
Boyd Woodcock (North Adelaide)

Tasmania: [1]

Rhyan Mansell (North Launceston)

VFL: [8]

Jake Aarts (Richmond VFL)
Brett Bewley (Williamstown)
Sam Collins (Werribee)
Will Hayes (Footscray VFL)
Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)
Marty Hore (Collingwood VFL)
Ethan Phillips (Port Melbourne)
Corey Rich (Frankston)

Vic Country: [21]

Jacob Atley (Bendigo Pioneers)
Stephen Cumming (Dandenong Stingrays)
Sam Fletcher (Dandenong Stingrays)
Matthew Gahan (Dandenong Stingrays)
Hudson Garoni (Murray Bushrangers)
Noah Gown (Gippsland Power)
Brayden Ham (Geelong Falcons)
Jed Hill (GWV Rebels)
Austin Hodge (Gippsland Power)
Zane Keighran (Bendigo Pioneers)
Matty Lloyd (GWV Rebels)
Lachlan McDonnell (Dandenong Stingrays)
Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong Stingrays)
Finbar O’Dwyer (Murray Bushrangers)
Jamie Plumridge (Dandenong Stingrays)
Mitch Riordan (Dandenong Stingrays)
Bailey Schmidt (Dandenong Stingrays)
Sam Sturt (Dandenong Stingrays)
Jai Taylor (Dandenong Stingrays)
Charlie Wilson (GWV Rebels)
Lachlan Young (Dandenong Stingrays)

Vic Metro: [18]

Frank Anderson (South Croydon)
Joseph Ayton-Delaney (Oakleigh Chargers)
Atu Bosenavulagi (Oakleigh Chargers)
Kyle Dunkley (Oakleigh Chargers)
Mason Fletcher (Calder Cannons)
Xavier Fry (Eastern Ranges)
Jake Gaspar (Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Graham (Calder Cannons)
Harry Houlahan (Sandringham Dragons)
James Jordan (Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Kemp (Calder Cannons)
Justin McInerney (Northern Knights)
Mitchell Podhajski (Calder Cannons)
Stefan Radovanovic (Western Jets)
James Rendell (Sandringham Dragons)
Harry Reynolds (Sandringham Dragons)
Alistair Richards (Sandringham Dragons)
Jack Ross (Oakleigh Chargers)

Western Australia: [21]

Jason Carter (Peel Thunder)
Dylan Curley (East Fremantle)
Oliver Eastland (Claremont)
Kody Eaton (East Fremantle) 
Harry Edwards (Swan Districts) 
Patrick Farrant (Swan Districts) 
Ethan Hansen (Perth) 
Wil Hickmott (Subiaco) 
Corey Hitchcock (Claremont)
Jack Mayo (Subiaco) 
Tom Medhat (West Perth)
Louis Miller (East Perth) 
Luke Moore (South Fremantle) 
Rylie Morgan (Claremont)
Matthew Parker (South Fremantle) 
Jarvis Pina (Peel Thunder)
Tyson Powell (Peel Thunder)
Regan Spooner (South Fremantle)
James Sturrock (Peel Thunder)
Tobe Watson (Swan Districts)
Graydon Wilson (Swan Districts)

Rookie Me Combine: [21]

Ryan Hebron (Sydney University)
Joey Reinhard (Sydney Swans Academy)
Adam Tipungwuti (Western Magpies)
Matthew Green (NT Thunder)
Ryan Gilmore (GC Suns Academy)
Jack Tomkinson (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Lachlan Gadomski (Kingborough Tigers) 
Matthew McGuinness (Lauderdale)
Ben Cavarra (Williamstown) 
Jay Lockhart (Casey Scorpions) 
Hayden McLean (Sandringham VFL) 
Kieran Strachan (Port Melbourne) 
Charlie Thompson (Richmond VFL)
Jordon Butts (Murray Bushrangers)
Kyle Clarke (Murray Bushrangers)
Sam Conway (Geelong Falcons)
Jake Frawley (Dandenong Stingrays)
Matt Neagle (Wodonga Raiders)
Tye Browning (Calder Cannons)
Daniel Hanna (Calder Cannons)
Cody Hirst (Eastern Ranges)

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Round 14

ROUND 14 was split across two days on the weekend, and we have included notes from four games we attended, while also looking at some of the draftable players from the remaining two games and how they performed.

Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

By Scott Dougan

Eastern:

#11 Mitch Mellis

The classy bottom-age midfielder started terrifically, finding plenty of the ball on the inside and outside of the contest. Mellis was involved in plenty of promising passages of play when moving the ball forward, especially in the first term when he set up the Ranges’ first goal of the day. He was able to use his speed and agility to escape congestion and his ball use was exceptional. Mellis was consistent throughout four quarters and was one of the best players on the ground, gathering 29 disposals and laying six tackles.

#23 Xavier Fry

Fry was among the leading ball winners on the ground, accumulating 28 disposals, five marks and five tackles. He played in multiple positions on the day but was at his most dominant on the wing and when rebounding out of the defensive 50. Fry’s speed is one of his best attributes and he was never afraid to take the game on. He won most of his possessions on the outside of the contest and due to his high work-rate and speed, he was able to create plenty of space around the ground to make himself an attractive option for his teammates.

#24 Kye Quirk

Quirk has been one of the Ranges most reliable players this season, and Saturday was no different. He played predominately around the contest in the middle of the ground but also drifted across the half-back line throughout the match. Quirk always seems to find himself unmanned around stoppages and is able to receive the ball from his inside midfielders constantly. Quirk can win both the contested and uncontested ball but seems to lack the impact and effectiveness with his disposal at times. Another solid performance from Quirk, amassing 31 disposals, seven marks, six rebounds and three tackles.

#31 James Blanck

The key defender was faced with a difficult task early on, lining up on the Dragons versatile forward and ruckman, James Rendell. Blanck was able to read the play well and his intercept marking caught the eye. His defensive efforts were evident and he was able to spoil the ball strongly when required. He lost an important one-on-one contest in the defensive 50 in the final seconds of the first term but was not punished, with Tom Long unable to capitalise. He drifted forward occasionally and was able to make up for his error in the first term, booting a crucial goal early on in the final quarter. Blanck is an exciting key position prospect and will be one to keep an eye on when he develops physically.

Sandringham:

#6 Harry Houlahan

Houlahan was at his best in contested situations, winning the ball on the inside and feeding it out by hand to the outside runners. Houlahan was clean at ground level, laid some solid tackles and accumulated some very impressive one-touch possessions early on in the second term. He seemed to have injured his lower leg shortly after his good start in the second and was forced to position himself in the Dragons forward line after half-time. He wasn’t able to have the same impact up forward, with the scrappy contest being battled out mainly in the middle of the ground. He had 13 disposals and two tackles.

 #28 James Rendell

Rendell had a massive impact in the first term playing predominately as a ruckman but was also dangerous when moved forward. He had several effective hit-outs across the ground that gave his midfielders first use and he was able to amass plenty of possessions himself. I had queries on his fitness, with the ruckman looking spent late in the first term but he continued to work hard and was able to kick an important goal in the dying minutes. Rendell read the play well and took some strong intercept marks throughout the match – two of his best attributes. He booted the sealer for the Dragons in the final three minutes of the match, capping off a brilliant day for the big man.

#69 Corey Watts

The bottom-age key defender stands at massive 195cm and showed plenty of promising signs down back throughout the match. He was extremely important for the Dragons, reading the play well and taking plenty of intercept marks. Visually, Watts still looks like he’d be more of lockdown defender due to his body frame and size but that’s not the case. He’s extremely athletic, covers plenty of ground and his ball use is regularly reliable. One to watch for in next year’s draft.

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Gippsland Power

By: Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh:

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

The big bodied midfielder did not win huge numbers from the midfield, but it was impossible to miss the impact he had between the centre and forward arc. When he won a centre bounce clearance, he generally exploded from the contest with eye catching acceleration and bombed it deep to dangerous scoring positions. He spent time forward and almost kicked an outstanding long goal from the arc, which just went to the right. He has been having an impact since returning from the championships, but will be looking to finish the season with some higher possession games.

#5 Xavier O’Neill

After earning a draft combine invite last month, there were plenty of eyes on the Oakleigh midfielder and he produced a solid performance, if not prolific. He makes offensive movements happen at a stoppage and is slippery in a tackle, meaning he often finds himself with the ball goal-side of the contest where he can start scoring chains. He is always moving which makes him a good link up option and he runs to get in those positions. O’Neill has some improvement defensively, but could become a value midfield option come November.

#12 Noah Answerth

Running mainly through the midfield, Answerth played a fairly defensive role at the stoppages. He protected the goal-side of his opponents, which restricted Gippsland’s chances of a fast clearance from congestion. It resulted in Answerth absorbing plenty of body contact and he laid a game high 12 tackles because of it. When with the ball he was unflustered and made calm decisions to the benefit of his team. He is an unselfish player who you can truly trust with a specific role.

#13 Atu Bosenavualagi

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect was in and out of the game, but always provided ground defensive pressure when the ball was in his area. He tackles with intent and wants to make his presence known without the footy. He has strong hands, but has some room for improvement with his kicking and decision making.

#17 Trent Bianco

If he wasn’t the best player on the ground, Bianco was certainly Oakleigh’s best. The ball constantly ended up in his hands from half back, where he was able to control the play and utilise his excellent skills. He began or was involved in countless scoring chains and got the ball moving with carry or just great decisions. He was able to get up the ground on occasions too, and have an influence using the ball forward of centre. There isn’t much of him at 178cm and 70 kg, but he counters that with his smarts and class. He finished the game with 40 disposals and had an enormous say on Oakleigh almost getting across the line.

#22 Dylan Williams

Started forward on Reid and took a strong overhead mark in the first term. Had a poor set shot later on, but spent time in the midfield and used the ball well going inside 50. Not a huge impact on the game, ending with 10 disposals and two behinds.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

The highly rated Collingwood NGA prospect has already made a name for himself in the back half and was given an opportunity to show his wares through the midfield on Saturday. He went to the first stoppage and struggled to get his hands on the ball through the first term, eventually giving away a poor free kick to Flanders. Although while in the midfield he was able to still produce one of his great back half strengths, brilliantly reading an opposition kick in the corridor to intercept and quickly move the ball in the opposite direction. He was returned to defence shortly after and immediately looked more comfortable, highlighted by a contested intercept mark in the third term.

#26 Jake Gasper

Gasper is a really interesting prospect after a prolific season on the scoreboard for Oakleigh. He is so dangerous inside 50 with his ability to get in the correct positions, as he showed in the third term with a clean crumb and quality snapped finish. He spent minutes in the midfield and proved to possess nous at the stoppages, winning a clearance and hitting a teammate lace out inside 50 during Oakleigh’s dominant patch. Is not blessed electrifying pace, but makes up for it with sharp touch and hands. He finished a productive day with 18 disposals, four clearances, five inside 50s and two goals.

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Despite only winning 13 disposals for the day, Flanders had a big influence on the game through the midfield and especially forward in the final term as Gippsland fought back. He was prominent in contested situations at the stoppages both offensively and defensively, using his explosive athletic traits to charge forward or quickly wrap up an opponent. While his field kicking was occasionally scrappy, the ones he did hit were superb as displayed when finding Gown on the lead before quarter time. Two final quarter goals again proved his match winning ability, including a brilliant set shot drop punt from a tight angle.

#5 Xavier Duursma

The Power skipper was good again, this time in playing a more outside role where he found dangerous space throughout the contest. His kicking and decision making was first rate, especially when entering the forward arc and getting the ball inboard. In the third term he won a difficult ball ground ball on the boundary line before quickly turning to the corridor and finding a teammate lace out like it was second nature. It appeared he was involved in every dangerous scoring chain, ending the day with 29 disposals and eight inside 50s.

#9 Irving Mosquito

‘Mozzie’ is one of those types that doesn’t need a whole heap of the ball to have a huge influence and Saturday’s game was the perfect example. Every time he won the pill, something exciting happened and was generally to the advantage of Gippsland. In the first term he stole a ball from seemingly nowhere out of an opponent’s hands, swung onto his left foot and landed the on the chest of Gown 50 metres away inside 50. Later in the game he produced a brilliant blind turn at a stoppage to create space and superbly find Pepper inside 50 for a vital goal assist. He could have finished off a spectacularly eye catching outing with a long three bounce run goal but just missed to the left. No goals and just 10 disposals, but huge impact.

#16 Josh Smith

The big bodied, bottom aged key position player was offered some relief with the return of Rylan Henkel last week, starting the game in his natural forward role. In saying that, he spent plenty of time in the ruck, won the most hit outs for his side and competed with aggression as we’ve become accustomed to. Did not win much of the ball, but produced one of the game’s best highlights with a towering pack mark on the wing.

#18 Matt McGannon

After receiving a second consecutive draft combine invite, McGannon continued his extremely consistent ball winning form with another 21 touches. Starting generally on the wing, he ran up and down the ground and was used offensively by his teammates whenever the opportunity presented. Lost a ground ball in defensive 50 that turned into an Oakleigh goal in the third term, but made up for it with some determined defensive efforts without the ball, including an important tackle late in the game that earned a vital holding the ball.

#19 Fraser Phillips

The lightly-built bottom-ager is really starting to develop nicely and produced arguably his best game for Gippsland to date. Having produced a couple of impressive games for his local senior side Warragul in recent weeks, that experience against quality senior opposition looks to have yielded further improvement. He started the game on fire, firstly taking a strong mark on the lead before winning numerous possessions in the forward half and using his silky skills to advantage. He finished a brilliant first term with a classy running goal on his preferred left boot. While he had quiet periods for the rest of the game, he popped up again late with a beautifully weighted kick to Flanders deep inside 50.

#22 Rylan Henkel

In his second game back for Gippsland, Henkel is building his form again and was solid against Oakleigh. While he had a tough task aerially against the 102kg Lachlan Harry, he competed at every contest and was especially determined at ground level. His second efforts were noticeable, laying five tackles, winning three clearances and throwing himself at the ball. He took a leaping contested mark and is going to be a vital cog for the Power’s premiership push.

#23 Noah Gown

After kicking consecutive five goal bags, Gown was again prominent in the forward half and is clearly glowing with confidence. His leading patterns are improving with every outing and he has a presence that you can’t teach. He was strong on the lead overhead and can stick a contested mark even when out of position. He’s also developing a knack of being involved when the game is on the line, taking a huge contested pack mark that earned a 50 metre penalty. He missed the set shot that would have given Gippsland the lead, but didn’t miss his second chance. Taking a strong intercept mark on the forward flank, he was fortunate to get a second 50 metre penalty and kicked truly for the match winner. In a purple real patch!

#25 Kyle Reid

Starting the game against the smaller Dylan Williams deep in defensive 50, Reid was solid as always defensively and got to many aerial contests. While he would have liked to have stuck a few more attempted intercepts, he still managed to have a defensive impact and ran to space on the flanks to create another option when Gippsland had possession.

#29 Boadie Motton

The ultra-consistent Motton did not win as much of the ball as he usually does from the wing, but had a heavier contested workload and impact. He collected an equal game high four clearances and really fought hard in tight, but backed that defensively with a team high 10 tackles. While he could not create the space to utilise his elite releasing skills frequently, it was good to see him influence the contest in a slightly different manner.

 

Northern Knights vs. Dandenong Stingrays

By Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#1 Ryan Gardner

The bottom-ager regained some of his early-season form with good doses of dash from the back half. Assuming a starting position on the wing, Gardner worked hard to help out his defence and try to provide some run around the outside of the stoppages in the absence of speedster Lachlan Potter. He commanded the area in the second term under a heap of pressure, and still looked to take the game on despite being pinged for running too far. Perhaps the most impressive part of Gardner’s game was his lateral kicking, as he found a couple of clever options with nice showings of vision.

#16 Tom Hallebone

The raw and rangy tall had a hell of a task set for him, given he was to compete against three Dandenong phonemes is the ruck. While he has improved in the area since the start of the year, he struggled at times against the physicality of Bailey Schmidt and Riley Bowman, and against the athleticism of Bailey Williams. Still, he worked hard alongside Nicholas Barro to thwart their influence, and set up well behind the ball with long clearances coming out of the attacking or defensive 50s.

#30 Justin McInerney

While he has not had an enormous amount of exposure at TAC Cup level due to school footy commitments, McInerney has impressed in each outing with the Knights. This game was no exception, and despite not gathering  a massive amount of the ball, the Marcellin product stood out when he was near it. His speed from the wing is notable, and he showed a good knack for getting back and winning key aerial balls at half-back. With ball in hand, McInerney was calm and delivered some precise passes to keep Northern ticking when on the front foot.

#51 Jaden Collins

While he was not a key feature for Vic Metro at the Under 16 National Championships, Collins looked comfortable in his second TAC Cup outing for the Knights. Along with fellow 16 year-olds Ben Major and Ewan Macpherson, Collins took to the top level with good deal of confidence and calmly booted the second goal of the game with a sound set shot action.  As AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan watched on with interest, Collins produced a solid game playing key forward and showed enough signs to warrant remembering the name.

Dandenong:

#1 Sam Fletcher

It was by no means Fletcher’s best outing, but the Vic Country midfielder still showed glimpses of the form that warranted his call-up. Fletcher’s combination of burst and toughness in congestion allowed him to break clear and push the Stingrays forward. He was also good below his knees and snared a goal in the third term out of nothing with a sharp snap deep in the 50. The only area Fletcher seemed to struggle with at times was his awareness in more open spaces, as he was caught holding the ball and miss-hit a couple of kicks under pressure.

#2 Hayden Young

Young was one who caught the eye in patches with good bits of play throughout the game. The bottom-ager spent a lot of time in the back half where he most notably took a set of two strong overhead marks in the second term. He was another to show good form below his knees as the ball pinged around and was composed under pressure. The one blemish on Young’s game was a costly turnover in the final term with his kick-out nailing Northern’s Joel Naylor, who duly converted the opportunity.

#3 Jamie Plumridge

Probably stiff not to be mentioned among Dandenong’s best, Plumridge went about his business accumulating plenty of the ball in all areas of the ground. Plumridge’s work rate is impressive from the wing, and he was largely effective with ball in hand. While he seemed to be everywhere in the first half especially, ‘Plum’ lacked a damaging edge at times, failing to convert a long-range Jayden Short-esque hand off early on and acting more so as a link between the arcs. Plumridge’s composure and ability to keep his hands up in tackles was also good to see.

#7 Jai Taylor

The cool left-footer was another who played a more patchy game, but was effective when given the opportunity. Taylor’s repeat efforts were commendable, and he did well to flick out releasing handballs when under the pump. Taylor did well to run both ways, with some good pressure acts in the second half.

#9 Zac Foot

Foot’s speed was prevalent as per usual, and he was clean at top speed. The Vic Country stand-out found the ball both bursting from and into congestion, while delivering some smart passes inside 50 to really have an impact on proceedings. At full flight, Foot is hard to stop as he keeps running forward, and is one of the more damaging players in the draft pool

#17 Finlay Bayne 

Bayne was one of Dandenong’s two multiple goalkickers on the day, with both of his majors coming in the third term and helping the Stingrays to pull out to a game-winning lead. Sporting a headband, Bayne could have snared a couple more goals if it weren’t for inaccuracy from set shots in the first half, as he found the ball in dangerous areas. He broke through with an impressive effort from the boundary early in the third quarter, and converted from an impressive overhead mark soon after to cap off a solid day at half-forward.

#23 Campbell Hustwaite 

The co-captain was a key ball winner for the ‘Rays, working hard in-tight to set the tone for his side. Hustwaite’s competitiveness and work rate kept Dandenong in the contest, as he collected the ball well and was quick to his feet when burrowing down. He also managed to find a good amount of the ball forward of centre, marking inside 50 and finding targets of his own. It was an overall solid display, and his hard-earned holding the ball tackle on Northern’s Ryan Sturgess in the final term summed up his efforts.

#28 Bailey Schmidt 

Schmidt is an absolute man-mountain, and used his size well to dominate the ruck contests he attended. The hulking ruck also stood up in the packs and under high balls, while also showing good strength one-on-one when playing forward. He managed to clunk a couple of nice overhead marks, while also showing good form around the ground with clearances and a particularly hard tackle on Stefan Uzelac in the second term.

#29 Bailey Williams 

Williams was at his dynamic best up forward, and had a fair impact on the result with his two third-quarter goals. The mobile big-man roved well and showed good pace when chasing back towards goal, but it is always his marking that makes Williams stand out. His efforts at ground level were really impressive though, with gathers while spinning around opponents and a handy assist in the final term showing his exceptional talent.

 

Western Jets vs GWV Rebels

By: Ed Pascoe

Western:

#17 Daly Andrews

Andrews was the best midfielder on the day making the wing his own in the windy conditions. Andrews was one of the only players throughout the day who would try and move the ball along with speed and dare. A few times Andrews tried to bite off more than he could chew ducking and weaving around opponents, his agility is something to behold but I would like to see him not try and do too much and make quicker decisions. Andrews was a workhorse topping the possession count for the game with 27 disposals which included 10 inside 50s and four rebounds showing his ability to work both ways.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

O’Halloran had his quietest performance of the year finishing with a lowly 11 disposals although he was not helped with the high amount of boundary throw ins which were near impossible to predict off the tap with the hellish wind. O’Halloran kicked two behinds which did not miss by much but would have certainly rounded out his game a bit better if they had gone through. O’Halloran when he did go for the ball attacked it hard and rarely fumbled.

#38 Buku Khamis

Khamis was impressive across half-back showing of his impressive leap and composure many times throughout the day. Khamis was a spoiling machine in the windy conditions often using his impressive leap to come over packs and kill the ball across the boundary. With ball in hand Khamis was cool, clean and composed with his vision and speed by hand a feature. It certainly was not a good game to showcase his impressive marking and intercept ability but I thought he played the conditions well defending first and foremost and then being creative once he did get the ball.

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

Stiff to not get a invite to the National AFL Draft Combine, Radovanovic reminded everyone of his impressive size and power often steaming through multiple opposition with brute power. Radovanovic showcased his running power with an impressive running goal in the third quarter and an explosive clearance also in the third quarter, when he is up and running he is a hard player to stop. He played mostly in defence before getting some more midfield time later in the game, he finished with 15 disposals for the game .

GWV:

#3 Scott Carlin

Carlin had a shaky start in the windy conditions with a few errant kicks, but bounced back well to be on of the Rebels most composed and skilled players with ball in hand in the windy conditions. Carlin was among the Rebels better ball winners with 21 disposals playing the half-back role, in the second half most players on the ground just blazed away trying to get boot to ball but Carlin took the time to stay composed and pick the right options.

 

Other game notes:

Murray Bushrangers vs. Calder Cannons

Murray:

#5 Ely Smith – The rugged inside midfielder continued his superb form this season with another 32-disposal game, which featured five clearances, eight inside 50s, five tackles and two rebounds.With the recent National Draft Combine invite, it is showing he is coming into serious draft calculations.

#7 Zane Barzen – The exciting forward again hit the scoreboard, booting 2.2 for the game off 15 disposals and seven marks and is building a nice block of form mid-season ahead of the TAC Cup finals series. Another who received a National Draft Combine invitation.

#18 Hudson Garoni – One of his biggest games in terms of possessions, raking in 23 touches to go with 10 marks, four inside 50s and two goals, two behinds. Often seen as more of a mark-kick-goal player, it would be great to see him add that extra string to his bow.

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor – After a quiet game the week before, Taylor had a bigger influence on the game against Murray, winning more of the football up the ground, taking in 21 disposals, four marks, five clearances and working hard defensively to record three rebounds to go with his one goal.

#8 Lachlan Sholl – A huge game in the back half, Sholl had the ball on a string, racking up 31 disposals, 11 marks and four clearances to go with his five rebounds and four tackles. Seems an underrated option at the Cannons after a good national carnival with Vic Metro.

#30 Mitch Podhajski – Surely has to be getting some interest now after another huge best-on-ground performance in the midfield. A massive 35 disposals, 10 marks, seven inside 50s and four goals, Podhajski does not do a lot wrong and is right up the top of the over-agers list playing in the TAC Cup.

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Geelong Falcons

Bendigo:

#16 Jacob Atley – A typical performance from Atley who was clean in the back half. He finished with 14 disposals, three marks, three tackles in three rebounds in Bendigo’s heavy loss to Geelong.

Geelong:

#20 Brayden Ham – The over-ager put in another terrific performance, nailing five goals from 20 disposals and 12 marks. While he was winning the ball in space, he used his elite endurance to work over his opponents and have a strong game once again. One to keep watching over the next month.

#22 Sam Walsh – Another big game from Sam Walsh, racking up 33 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two tackles to be named best on ground. Just keeps doing the right things and is one of the key reasons you can never count Geelong out of the contest.

#30 Oscar Brownless – Won plenty of the ball in one of his higher accumulation games, picking up 27 disposals, four marks, seven clearances, eight inside 50s and five rebounds.

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 14

TAC Cup action returns for the final week before a bye, with some huge ladder-defining clashes. Just two rounds remain after this weekend, so teams will be keen to put in strong performances.

EASTERN RANGES v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 14 – Saturday, August 4, 10.45am
Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill

On paper this looks like a one-sided game based on ladder positions, but an understrength Sandringham travels to Box Hill to take on Eastern in a clash that is crucial to determine a top four place. With their top-end talent returning next round from school football, the Dragons – now minus Liam Stocker who has been best on ground two weeks in a row for Sandringham – could move six points clear of Oakleigh and have a week off during the wildcard round. Eastern will have other ideas here, with a strong midfield that could take it up to the Dragons, but just need to find a way to put scores on the board. They were overpowered by a versatile GWV Rebels outfit last week, and will want to improve a lot here to claim the four points. Both sides lose crucial players with Lachlan Stapleton and Stocker – a potential head-to-head on the inside – both out of the team. Xavier Fry moves into the midfield for Eastern, and is set to face the in-form Ryan Byrnes. Meanwhile the experienced Kai Owens returns after some VFL time and will look to influence the contest for Sandringham, as will James Rendell up forward who could match up against Vic Metro teammate James Blanck.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 14 – Saturday, August 4, 2pm
Warrawee Park, Oakleigh

In the match of the round, the fifth placed Oakleigh Chargers host the second placed Gippsland Power. A win to the visitors would see them lock up a top two spot, while Oakleigh need to win to remain in touch with the top four before teams return to full strength next round. The Chargers have plenty of good depth, while having good top-end talent with the likes of Isaac Quaynor and Riley Collier-Dawkins still in the team. Led by their bottom-agers in Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco – Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell return to school football – the Chargers will back themselves in here, but they know the Power are in ripping form. Gippsland have brought in a number of fresh faces, including Riley Baldi who is crucial in the middle and at half-forward, while captain Xavier Duursma and full-forward Noah Gown have been in terrific form themselves, as has full-back Kyle Reid. With strong bookends, and a deep midfield that has been at the top of its game all season, this is expected to be an exhilarating clash. Gippsland will head in favourites for this clash, but it is a genuine 50/50 contest with the challenges playing at Warrawee Park in the Chargers’ favour.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 14 – Saturday, August 4, 2pm
Preston City Oval, Preston

Northern host the benchmark team in the competition when the Knights welcome Dandenong to Preston City Oval on Saturday. The Knights sit eighth and are just four points clear of the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, a match-up that could well occur in the wildcard round. Dandenong need one win in its final three games to secure top spot, and look a class above at times, although they have been pushed within games. With just the one loss for the season – a narrow defeat to Oakleigh Chargers, the Stingrays head into the game as favourites and the Knights will need to be at their best to win. Northern loses Tom McKenzie, Josh D’Intinosante, James Lucente and Oscar White for the clash, but regain ruck Tom Hallebone, Adam Carafa and Justin McInerney. The combination of Hallebone and Nathan Howard will be vital against the talented Stingrays rucks in Riley Bowman, Bailey Schmidt and Bailey Williams. Both teams have speed and the Knights, through the likes of Lachlan Potter and Ryan Gardner will look to provide drive out of the back half. Dandenong likewise have Jai Taylor and Zac Foot, setting up a match that could see some dashing runs and end-to-end football. One would expect Dandenong to continue their run this season, but as the Knights showed against Gippsland at Morwell earlier in the year, they can push the top sides all the way.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 14 – Sunday, August 5, 12pm
Albury Sports Ground, Albury

Murray is one of three teams battling it out for third and fourth spot on the table, and this week it is the plucky Calder Cannons that stand in the Bushrangers’ way. The Cannons keep being that pesky team that might not have consistency week-to-week, but they throw up some surprising results and knock off some quality teams. Despite being massively understrength they defeated Gippsland earlier in the season, and pushed Dandenong for three quarters last weekend. Jordon Butts will get his chance in the Victorian Football League (VFL) with Werribee, so he misses this week, while Ben Kelly and Floyd Bollinghaus swap places in the ruck. The Cannons have also welcomed back an important tall in Jake Riccardi who spent some time in the state league, and he has proven to be a handful at times standing at full-forward. At home, Murray look a tough opposition to beat. The Bushrangers are a consistent outfit who arguably only have a poor game once every couple of months, so if they don’t win, they will push their opponents to line. Expect them to be favourites in this clash, although the Cannons have enough about them to cause some problems, with a potential match-up of Lachlan Ash and Curtis Taylor, while Mitch Podhajski and Ely Smith might go head-to-head at times. Bushrangers in a close one.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 14 – Sunday, August 5, 1pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo

On Sunday afternoon, the last placed Bendigo Pioneers have a chance to leapfrog Eastern into eleventh, which might not seem like much, but in the wildcard round, twelfth will likely play a full strength Oakleigh Chargers or Sandringham Dragons. The Pioneers effort has been strong, and while they are not getting the wins on the board, they are not getting blown away like they have at times in the past. They might succumb to a quarter or two, but for the most part, are genuinely in the contest and expect them to believe they win this clash against Geelong at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Falcons have been up and down this season, and at full strength they have enough about them to challenge most teams, so they will head into the game as favourites. With Ned McHenry and Charlie Sprague still out, the likes of Sam Walsh, Oscar Brownless and Brayden Ham will be looked upon as important players in the side, while Cooper Cartledge and Dane Hollenkamp will hold down the key defensive posts. Connor Idun has been named forward with Blake Schlensog to try and provide a target, with Bendigo’s backline able to provide plenty of drive this season. Braydon Vaz returns to join Jacob Atley and Noah Wheeler who will try and run the Falcons down, while Bailey Henderson is an important inclusion to the side, able to fill in anywhere required. Geelong cannot move from their spot this weekend, but can edge closer to the GWV Rebels, and guarantee they will not finish bottom two, with a win here.

 

WESTERN JETS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 14 – Sunday, August 5, 2pm
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown

In the final game of the round, the GWV Rebels, fresh off a big win over Eastern Ranges, travel to Williamstown to face the Western Jets. The Jets form has dipped a bit in the past month, but they will back themselves in here as they head into the home stretch. For a top four finish they need a lot of luck from here, but finishing as high as possible could be vital to progressing, because sixth place will see them face Bendigo or Eastern in the wildcard round, rather than Geelong who at full strength, could give any side headaches. The Jets midfield is one of the most underrated in the league, because clearance wise, Xavier O’Halloran, Connor Thar and Jack Watkins are a formidable trio, while Daly Andrews and Stefan Radovanovic provide the pace. They have plenty of options up forward both tall and small, and match up well against most sides in defence. The Rebels will likely go in with the two-ruck approach to tackle the Jets as Darren Walters is in good form, but Patrick Glanford‘s form this season has been building, and both Tylar Watts and Mathew Clarke have been named in the side. Jayden Wright returns to tackle one of Aaron Clarke or Emerson Jeka, while the Rebels’ forward line is likely to give the Jets the most trouble, with Charlie Wilson in remarkable form, and Jed Hill, Izaac Grant and Josh Chatfield, all capable of having days out in front of goal. Despite recent form lines, you would say the Jets are favourites with the depth they have, but if the Rebels continue their good form of late, they are a huge chance here.

Weekend previews: TAC Cup – Round 13

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

EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

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

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

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

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

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

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

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

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

 

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

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

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

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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