Tag: lucas cavallaro

Scouting notes: TAC Cup – Wildcard Round

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

Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Calder:

#5 Curtis Taylor

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

#8 Lachlan Sholl

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

#20 Rhylee West

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

#23 Daniel Hanna

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

#30 Mitch Podhajski

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

#57 Josh Kemp

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

 

Geelong:

#8 Ned McHenry

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

#20 Brayden Ham

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

#22 Sam Walsh

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

#30 Oscar Brownless

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

#36 Charlie Sprague

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

#39 Connor Idun

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

#41 Cooper Stephens

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

 

Northern Knights vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Northern:

#4 Tom McKenzie

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

#8 Adam Carafa

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

GWV:

#14 Jed Hill

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

#21 Izaac Grant

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

#24 Matty Lloyd

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

 

Western Jets vs. Eastern Ranges

Western:

By: Ed Pascoe

#17 Daly Andrews

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

#24 Josh Honey

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

#33 Xavier O’Halloran

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

#38 Buku Khamis

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

#39 Stefan Radovanovic

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

 

Eastern:

By: Michael Alvaro

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

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

#11 Mitch Mellis

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

#31 James Blanck

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

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers

Murray:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Jordan Butts

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

#5 Ely Smith

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

#6 Will Chandler

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

#7 Zane Barzen

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

#9 Mathew Walker

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

#12 Lachlan Ash

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

#16 Nick Murray

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

#18 Hudson Garoni

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

#19 Jimmy Boyer

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

#26 Riley Bice

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

 

Bendigo:

By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Jye Caldwell

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

#8 Brodie Kemp

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

2018 AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year announced

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

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

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

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

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

AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week nominations:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

ADC TAC CUP TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [1]: Noah Wheeler

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

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

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

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

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

GWV [2]: Jed Hill, Charlie Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Team of the Week: TAC Cup – Round 15

IMPRESSIVE wins to Calder Cannons, Gippsland Power and Oakleigh Chargers have resulted in each of the three sides contributing three representatives to the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week for Round 15. Meanwhile other winners, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Northern Knights had two each, as did Geelong Falcons and Murray Bushrangers. It was an odd game between the Falcons and Dandenong Stingrays, with the Falcons recording an extra player in Team of the Week despite losing narrowly. The other four losing sides also had just the one player each.

The Cannons had three players who were crucial in each third of the ground, with Lucas Cavallaro and Jake Riccardimaking our Team of the Week once again, while ruck Harrison Jones made it into the 22 for the first time this season. Gippsland also had one in each third of the ground, with defender Brock Smith, midfielder Riley Baldi, and tall forward Noah Gown earning their places in the side, while captain Xavier Duursma came close to making the side as well, but it was a tough midfield to break into this week. Oakleigh had a couple of bottom-agers in the side, with Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco making the team, along with top-age midfielder Jack Ross.

GWV Rebels forwards who spent time in the midfield, Charlie Wilson and Jed Hill made the side again, while Bendigo Pioneer Noah Wheeler found himself in the side again for his tireless work in defence and through the midfield. Geelong Falcons star, Sam Walsh and teammate Blake Schlensog make it into the team, as does opposing midfielder Campbell Hustwaite, in a performance which was incredibly even by the Stingrays, and both Sam Sturt and Bailey Williams can consider themselves unlucky not to be in the team.

Murray might have lost this week, but utility Mat Walker and defender Nick Murray stood out, making the best 22 for the week, while Zane Barzen was another player unlucky not to make it, and would have been named a hypothetical emergency for his three goals. Northern Knights pair, inside midfielder Adam Carafa and forward Joel Naylor both made the side, as did opposing midfielder, Western Jet Connor Thar. Of the remaining places in the 22, Sandringham Dragons’ full-back Corey Watts and Eastern Ranges’ Cooper Leon both made the team.

Weekend Wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 15

IN an action packed weekend with six games across two venues, it saw the top two lock up their position, leaving just three teams in the race for third and fourth spot. 

Gippsland Power 9.13 (67) defeated Murray Bushrangers 5.8 (38)

Gippsland Power locked up a top two spot on the weekend with an impressive 29-point win over fellow top four side Murray Bushrangers. The Power held the Bushrangers scoreless in the opening term, opening up a 16-point lead by quarter time. They extended the margin to 22 by the main break, before a Zane Barzen-inspired Bushrangers outfit hit back. They missed a few opportunities but cut the deficit to 16 by the final break, before Gippsland booted the only two goals of the final term to record a comfortable win and lock up second spot on the TAC Cup table.

Riley Baldi was sensational for the Power, racking up 31 disposals, seven marks, seven clearances, five tackles, two rebounds and a goal. Captain Xavier Duursma continued his good form with 26 disposals, three marks, six inside 50s and a goal, while key forward Noah Gown slotted three majors from 14 disposals and five marks (three contested), but could have had more, slotting four behinds. Brock Smith played one of his best games of the year in defence amassing 22 disposals, four marks, two inside 50s and seven rebounds. In defence, Kyle Reid did a great job on the competition’s leading goal kicker Hudson Garoni, while Matt McGannon was clean with his 11 touches, three marks and five rebounds.

For Murray, Mat Walker was really strong across the four quarters, picking up 18 disposals, seven marks, five tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s, while Barzen was the excitement machine up forward, booting 3.2 from 11 disposals and six marks. Bottom-ager Jimmy Boyer found plenty of the ball with 28 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and four rebounds, while ruck Floyd Bollinghaus covered the ground really well from 23 disposals, two marks, 14 hitouts and five clearances. Nick Murray (18 disposals, five marks and four rebounds) and Ed Adams (24 disposals, seven marks and five rebounds) were a couple of defenders who were busy on the day.

 

Geelong Falcons 5.7 (37) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 7.13 (55)

Dandenong Stingrays showed why they have taken out the TAC Cup minor premiership, but not without a genuine challenge from Geelong Falcons in wet conditions at MARS Stadium. The Falcons burst out of the blocks to boot three goals to one, and lead by nine points despite the Stingrays having an extra scoring shot. From quarter time the game was more on the Stingrays’ terms, but the Falcons refused to go away. When Geelong scored the first goal of the final term, just a kick separated the sides, before Sam Sturt put the game to bed with a couple of late majors.

Captain Campbell Hustwaite was prominent for the Stingrays, racking up 24 disposals, one mark, six clearances, five tackles and four inside 50s, while Lachlan McDonnell also found his fair share of the football with 22 disposals, three marks, four clearances and a goal. Sturt was the main man up forward with three majors from 14 disposals and four marks, while Bailey Williams kept presenting amassing 10 touches, two marks, seven tackles and three behinds. Potential 2019 top pick Hayden Young had another good showing with 15 disposals, five clearances, three inside 50s and nine marks in the 18-point win.

Geelong Falcons star, Sam Walsh had another day out with 25 disposals, three marks, two clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and two goals, while Blake Schlensog was terrific early in the ruck for 14 disposals, six marks, seven hitouts, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Brayden Ham stood out off half-back with 18 disposals, six marks, three tackles and five rebounds, while bottom-ager Cooper Stephens had 22 disposals (16 contested), two marks, eight clearances and four inside 50s.

 

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels 11.9 (75) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 5.9 (39)

In the final game of the Country Triple Header, GWV Rebels stormed home to boot nine goals to one after half-time and run over the top of Bendigo Pioneers. The Pioneers looked good early and adapted to the conditions better than the home side, booting four goals to two in the first half to lead by eight points at the main break. But with Charlie Wilson and Tylar Watts forward, the Rebels powered home finding their kicking boots and scoring 9.3 to 1.7 to win by 36 points.

Wilson booted two goals from 26 disposals, five marks, six clearances, five inside 50s, three rebounds and nine tackles in another best on ground performance. While, Watts played one of his best games of the year, booting two goals – including a nice long-range goal off a couple of steps – from 12 disposals 10 hitouts, three clearances, three inside 50s and six tackles. Mitch Martin also worked between midfield and forward booting three goals from 21 disposals, three marks, five clearances and six inside 50s, while Jed Hill continued his good form with 19 disposals, two marks, seven clearances, six inside 50s and 1.3. Bottom-ager Toby Mahony (18 disposals, three clearances and a goal) and Ethan Harvey (23 disposals, two marks and five clearances) were others who were prominent on the day.

Noah Wheeler was Bendigo’s best player on the day, racking up 28 disposals, six marks and seven rebounds working hard throughout the four quarters, while Bailey Henderson (27 disposals, eight marks and 10 rebounds) and Brodie Kemp (26 disposals, five marks, eight clearances and a goal) were also impressive for the losing side. Hunter Lawrence had another 22 touches, while Riley Ironside, Jacob Atley and Flynn Perez all had 18 disposals.

 

Western Jets 8.6 (54) defeated by Northern Knights 9.6 (60)

In what was a thrilling contest, and the closest of the weekend, Northern Knights just got over the line against a determined Western Jets outfit. The Knights took the early ascendancy with the breeze, booting three goals to zero in the first term. Western hit back with a massive five goals to one second term to take a six-point lead into half-time. Northern regained control with a slightly inaccurate 5.4 to 2.0 term to lead by 16 points with a quarter to go. Kicking with the breeze, the Jets stormed home with five scoring shots, but could only convert the one goal, to fall six points short at the death.

Adam Carafa was huge on the inside with 20 contested possessions from his 33 disposals, and also had 10 clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Bottom-ager Josh D’Intinosante booted a goal from 19 disposals, four marks, two clearances and five inside 50s, while Joel Naylor booted for goals from eight touches and four marks. Braedyn Gillard returned for his first game back from injury playing forward and had 16 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and a goal, while Stefan Uzelac was strong at full-back with 15 disposals, five marks, four tackles and two rebounds.

For the Jets, Darcy Cassar was strong with 27 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, three clearances and eight inside 50s, while Connor Thar continues to pump out consistent performances, notching up 25 disposals (16 contested), nine clearances, nine tackles, three rebounds and a goal. Jack Watkins (26 disposals, seven clearances and nine tackles) was the other big ball winner, while Daly Andrews (14 disposals, five tackles and three rebounds) and Buku Khamis (14 disposals, three marks and three rebounds) were others who impressed

 

Eastern Ranges 5.15 (45) defeated by Calder Cannons 14.3 (87)

Calder Cannons used the strong breeze to their advantage in the win over Eastern Ranges, booting 12 goals to zero with the wind to set up a 42-point win. While the Ranges had more scoring shots, they missed time and time again with the troubling breeze, scoring 5.15, while the Cannons were deadly in front of goal booting 14 goals from 17 scoring shots. While the Cannons did not score in the second term, they booted two goals in the final term as the Ranges struggled to capitalise, only scoring two majors from their eight scoring shots. 

Jake Riccardi booted 5.1 including three in the first term, finishing with 20 disposals, 10 marks (three contested), five hitouts and four inside 50s. Lucas Cavallaro was prominent in the defensive 50 with another 10 rebounds – he was already more than 20 ahead of the next highest rebounder in the competition – from 24 disposals and three marks. Daniel Mott (22 disposals, three clearances and three inside 50s), Rhylee West (22 disposals, eight clearances and three inside 50s) and Mitch Podhajski (21 disposals, three marks, three clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) were strong through midfield and forward, while Harrison Jones had 21 hitouts from 18 disposals, three marks and three clearances.

For Eastern, Kye Quirk had 31 disposals, three marks, five clearances and three inside 50s, while Cooper Leon (28 disposals, six marks, two clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds) and Lachlan Stapleton (24 disposals, three marks, nine tackles, three clearances and seven inside 50s) were judged Eastern’s best. Mitch Mellis had another good game with 26 disposals, two marks, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while Caleb Quirk booted 2.3 from 13 disposals and six marks (three contested).

 

Oakleigh Chargers 13.10 (88) defeated Sandringham Dragons 4.8 (32)

Oakleigh Chargers have stamped their authority as a genuine premiership contender with a thumping 56-point victory over fellow contender Sandringham Dragons. Sandringham booted the first goal through Ben King, but it was the Chargers who dominated from then on, piling on 13 of the next 16 goals to run away with a surprisingly comfortable victory, restricting the Dragons to just 23 inside 50s and beating them at their own game, having 42 more disposals and a massive 33 more marks.

Jack Ross was Oakleigh’s best with 25 disposals, eight marks, six clearances, five inside 50s, three tackles and a goal, while Trent Bianco had 27 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s. Dylan Williams booted four goals up forward – three consecutively in the second term – from 13 disposals and three marks, while Isaac Quaynor was busy once again with 17 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s. Will Kelly was good against King in the few one-on-ones they had. Will Golds (27 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s) and James Rowbottom (26 disposals, five marks and six clearances) were also impressive for the Chargers.

For the Dragons, Liam Stocker was strong on the inside, picking up seven clearances from 22 disposals (13 contested – a team high), while Alastair Richards provided run on the outside with 24 touches, four marks, two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while Josh Worrell stood up in defence with four rebounds and nine marks from 22 disposals. Corey Watts was Sandringham’s best with 12 disposals, three marks and seven rebounds, while James Rendell worked hard in the ruck from 26 hitouts, four clearances, nine disposals and two marks.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Round 15

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

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

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

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

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS

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

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

 

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

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

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

 

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

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

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

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

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

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

Team of the Week: TAC Cup – Round 13

IN the Round 13 AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week, some creative liberties must be taken on a team where it was hard to fit so many like-minded players into the side. So many medium forwards and defenders impressed that we opted with a smaller back and front six. Bailey Williams who played up forward goes into the ruck in this hypothetical team in order to squeeze the extra medium forward in, while the bench is filled with quite a few midfielders who stood out as well.

Gippsland Power and Murray Bushrangers had the most nominations for Round 13 with three apiece, whilst the four other winners, as well as Calder Cannons and Western Jets, had two nominees each. Bendigo Pioneers, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights all had the one player make the Team of the Week this round.

Backing up their efforts last week, key forward Noah Gown and half-back Matthew McGannon return to the side, as does key defender Kyle Reid who has featured in the team on a number of occasions. Their opponents on the day, the Northern Knights, had the one player in the side with bottom-age small forward Josh D’Intinosante squeezing into the forward pocket. Lachlan Potter was considered unlucky not to make the team and would be a hypothetical emergency for the side.

Murray Bushrangers also had three players who all have smart forward craft make the team. Mathew Walker lines up at full-forward after a six-goal haul, while Will Chandler‘s three goals, and Jye Chalcraft‘s work in transition was enough to see them all make the team. Their opponents Western Jets had two players in the side, with midfielder Jack Watkins and defender Stefan Radovanovic both starting in the team. Calder Cannons were the other side that had two nominees despite their loss, with co-captain Mitch Podhajski making the team yet again, as did defender Lucas Cavallaro who steps up to play a key position role in defence.

Dandenong Stingrays had two players make the side from their victory over the Cannons, with Williams starting ruck, and captain Campbell Hustwaite returning to the side after yet another strong performance. Finlay Bayne was one who was a hypothetical emergency, just missing out on the best 22 for this round. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels big win over Eastern Ranges saw the ever-consistent forward Charlie Wilson make the side, as well as half-back Matty Lloyd who picked up 37 disposals. Eastern Ranges’ bottom-age midfielder Mitch Mellis was one of the Ranges top players on the day and made the best 22 for the round again.

Oakleigh Chargers enjoyed a big win over the Geelong Falcons, with Riley Collier-Dawkins among the best, while Jake Gasper‘s outstanding form continued pushing up the ground and still booting three goals. Falcons star and co-captain Sam Walsh was his usual consistent self and made the team again. Sandringham Dragons had two players make the side after their win over Bendigo Pioneers, with Liam Stocker starring through the midfield yet again, and Ryan Byrnes impressive as well. Bendigo defender Jackson Williams makes his debut in the side after standing out in defence with eight rebounds. Dragons key forward James Rendell was the third hypothetical emergency in the team.

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 13

IN an action packed round of TAC Cup football, the top few sides had important wins to extend their lead on the competition, while others gained some much needed points.

Eastern Ranges 5.8 (38) def. by Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels 13.13 (91)

GWV Rebels claimed their fourth win of the season, with a comprehensive four-quarter victory over Eastern Ranges at Box Hill. The Rebels took control early, although could not make the most of their opportunities in the first term, booting 3.6, and then heading into half-time with a score of 6.9 to 2.2. The third quarter was where the Rebels did all the damage, with Charlie Wilson heading into the final break with four majors after two goals in each of the second and third terms. The Ranges rallied in the final term and only conceded one more point than they scored, to go down by 53 points.

Wilson was the star for the Rebels, booting 5.3 from 19 disposals and 12 marks (two contested), as well as six inside 50s. Matty Lloyd racked up a massive 37 disposals, as he roamed the wings, working between the defensive and offensive arcs for six inside 50s, six rebounds and a third quarter goal. Lochie Dawson (28 disposals, six marks, four clearances, two inside 50s and four rebounds) and Matt Schnerring (27 disposals, five marks, two clearances, five inside 50s and an important intercept and goal in the first term) were others who found plenty of the footy.

Mitch Mellis was one of Eastern’s shining lights, racking up 33 disposals, moving between the inside and outside using quick hands on his way to seven clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds. Cooper Leon found space to boot a goal to go with his 28 touches, five marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and five rebounds. Joel Burleigh and Kye Quirk both had 20 disposals, while Burleigh booted a goal and Quirk had four rebounds. James Blanck was strong in defence before switching to attack with six marks from 18 disposals.

 

Murray Bushrangers 17.7 (109) def. Western Jets 9.8 (62)

It took all four quarters, but Murray Bushrangers finally shook off the Western Jets with an eight goals to two final term at Wangaratta on Saturday. The Jets led at quarter time by six points before the home side booted the only four goals of the second term to lead by 16 points at the main break. The Jets cut the deficit to 11 by the final break, before the Bushrangers stormed home in the final term to run away with the 47-point victory. Mathew Walker booted four goals in the final term to seal the deal.

Walker was the key player for the Bushrangers, nailing six goals from 14 disposals and eight marks (one contested). Along with Walker, Kyle Clarke booted two majors and had 21 disposals, two marks and six inside 50s, while Zane Barzen continued his good form with two majors from 14 disposals and six marks. Jye Chalcraft (17 disposals, four marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds) and Will Chandler (11 disposals, seven marks and three goals) were also among the Bushrangers’ best in the win.

For the Jets, Jack Watkins was the major ball winner with 27 disposals, eight marks, seven clearances and three inside 50s, while bottom-ager Darcy Cassar continues to rack up the football in transition through the midfield, winning half of his possessions in a contest, finishing with 25 disposals, eight marks (three contested), three clearances, five inside 50s and one goal. Connor Thar was the other busy ball winner with 25 disposals, five marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and a rebound, while Buku Khamis and Stefan Radovanovic had a combined 36 disposals, seven marks and seven rebounds.

 

Northern Knights 10. 8 (68) def. by Gippsland Power 13. 7 (85)

After playing out a draw in their early encounter at Morwell, the Northern Knights and Gippsland Power went to do battle once again, this time at Preston City Oval. While the Knights had the home ground advantage and started strongly with the breeze, they eventually fell to the second placed Power. Northern booted five goals to two in the opening term, before Gippsland responded with five goals to one in the second to hit the front at the main break. The Knights regained the lead with an inaccurate 3.6 to 1.1. in the third term to hold a 10-point advantage over the visitors. But the last quarter belonged to the Power, coming home with a wet sail, Gippsland booted 5.3 to 1.0 to run out 17-point winners.

Despite challenging weather at times, Bailey Beck was clean with the ball, picking up 18 disposals, eight marks and three inside 50s and was named Gippsland’s best, while captain Xavier Duursma again stood tall, racking up 20 disposals, three marks, three clearances and booting two goals, while also being awarded five free kicks for getting in and under. Matthew McGannon backed up his good form from last week with 25 disposals, 11 marks (one contested) and four rebounds, while Austin Hodge had 24 touches, four marks, seven clearances, eight inside 50s and a goal. Key forward Noah Gown made it back-to-back hauls with five majors once again.

For the Knights, bottom-ager Josh D’Intinosante was busy with 21 disposals, two marks, seven clearances and two goals, while Sam Philp found plenty of the pill with 26 disposals (16 contested), eight clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Tom McKenzie had 20 touches, three marks, three inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal, while Ryan Sturgess had five rebounds and two inside 50s to go with his 18 touches and three marks. Harrison Grace was prominent with 15 disposals, two marks and five inside 50s, as was Mitch Wild with 15 disposals, eight marks and five rebounds.

 

Calder Cannons 6.6 (42) def. by Dandenong Stingrays 12.10 (82)

The ladder-leading Dandenong Stingrays survived an almighty scare from Calder Cannons at RAMS Arena in blustery conditions to defeat the likely top eight side by 40 points. Leading by just two at the final break, the Stingrays put the foot down in the final term and did what they have done all year – found a way to win. They booted seven goals to one in the final term to run over the top of the plucky Cannons and maintain their place at the top of the table with an eight-point gap on second placed Gippsland Power.

Captain Campbell Hustwaite was a big performer once again, amassing 27 disposals, three marks, seven clearances and seven inside 50s, getting the job done inside and out. Finlay Bayne played one of his best games for the season upon his return to the side, picking up 25 disposals, five marks, four clearances, eight inside 50s and booted a goal. Teammate Sam Fletcher found plenty of the footy again with 23 touches, five marks, eight clearances, three inside 50s and a goal. Bailey Williams controlled the airways again with eight marks (four contested), 17 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals.

Co-captain Mitch Podhjaski played an equally inspirational game, racking up 33 touches, six marks, seven clearances, two inside 50s and booted a goal to be one of the Cannons’ best, while Lachlan Sholl was strong in defence with Brodie Newman (26 disposals and four rebounds), racking up 27 disposals, five marks and five rebounds. Lucas Cavallaro had a team-high eight rebounds to be a star in the back half, also amassing 25 disposals and seven marks, while Daniel Mott‘s second half of the season resurgence continued with seven inside 50s and five clearances to go with his 24 disposals.

 

Geelong Falcons 2.5 (17) def. by Oakleigh Chargers 7.9 (51)

Oakleigh Chargers won an old-fashioned scrap at Colac, holding Geelong Falcons to just one goal after quarter time while booting seven majors themselves in a 34-point win. The Falcons booted the only goal of the first term to start proceedings, before Oakleigh got back into the rhythm to pile on six consecutive goals to all but end the contest. Oakleigh kept its top four hopes alive with the low-scoring victory and will build confidence from the win.

Jake Gasper continued his great form with another three majors, picking up 18 disposals, one contested mark, four clearances and three inside 50s, while Josh May won plenty of the footy with 24 disposals, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds. Isaac Quaynor stood out and was named the winners’ best, racking up 21 disposals, one mark, two clearances, four inside 50s and one rebound playing up the ground. Fellow Collingwood Next Generation Academy member Atu Bosenavulagi was also strong, racking up 17 disposals (11 contested), two marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds.

For Geelong, it was the usual suspects standing out, with Sam Walsh having another 33 disposals, three marks, six tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s, while Brayden Ham‘s consistent form saw him rack up five rebounds from 20 disposals playing off half-back. Cooper Stephens was busy in the midfield with 17 disposals (13 contested) and five clearances, while Oscar Brownless (15 disposals) and Jay Dahlhaus (15 disposals and a massive 17 tackles) were prominent, as was Charlie Harris (19 disposals and 12 tackles).

 

Sandringham Dragons 6.12 (48) def. Bendigo Pioneers 6.4 (40)

It was not a pretty win, but they got the four points to take to the bank and the Dragons will find themselves still in the hunt for a top four spot. Led by Liam Stocker, the Dragons had to fight hard to overcome the dogged Bendigo Pioneers, booting the first three goals of the game before the Pioneers booted three of the next four, Holding a slender lead at the final break after Bendigo came hard at them in the third term, the Dragons managed to hold on in a quarter which saw just three behinds scored and the home side enjoying the eight-point victory.

Stocker was best on ground yet again for the Dragons, picking up 35 disposals, four marks, 12 inside 50s, nine clearances and booting a goal. Ryan Byrnes had his fair share of the footy racking up 26 disposals (17 contested), six clearances, two inside 50s and three rebounds), while big man James Rendell had 18 disposals, seven marks (two contested), 20 hitouts and three clearances in a big effort around the ground. He and Andrew Courtney (33 hitouts) dominated against the smaller Bendigo rucks, while Sam Sofronidis had 26 touches, three marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds.

For Bendigo, Noah Wheeler was the top ball winner, amassing 23 disposals, two marks, two clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds, while Jacob Atley was clean out of defence, having four rebounds to go with his 19 disposals and six marks. Liam Marciano had 17 disposals, three marks, four clearances and five rebounds, while Flynn Perez was busy with 17 disposals, four marks, three clearances and two rounds. James Schischka returned to the team to play a key role with 16 touches, four marks and four inside 50s, while Jackson Williams had five rebounds from 16 disposals out of defence.

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.