Tag: ryan byrnes

Liam Stocker takes out Morrish Medal in close vote count

WHEN Liam Stocker came from the field with a broken jaw in Sandringham Dragons’ clash with Gippsland Power at Morwell, it meant the talented midfielder’s hopes and dreams of representing Vic Metro were dashed. Instead of worrying about the uncontrollable factors, Stocker went head first into his recovery, shortening it from eight weeks to six and getting out on the park the first chance he got. From then on the inside midfielder went from strength to strength, earning the admiration of not only his teammates and coaches, but the umpires as well.

Stocker out last night’s 2018 Morrish Medal, the accolade awarded to the player judged as the best and fairest in the TAC Cup competition, joining the likes of Brisbane’s Hugh McCluggage and Richmond’s Jack Higgins as winners of the award. Stocker finished the vote count with 18 votes, two ahead of Western Jets midfielder Connor Thar.

The inside ball winner has been uncompromising in his approach to his football this season, overcoming that broken jaw to play 12 games for the season. Stocker averaged 22.8 disposals, 2.8 marks, 4.8 tackles, 5.7 clearances, 5.2 inside 50s and 2.1 rebounds. He has won 55.6 per cent of his possessions at the coal face.

Speaking of the moment his season would change, Stocker recalls how it was just a concoction of bad luck.

“Basically I got an errant handball, and stuck my jaw out where it was meant to be hit and copped a shoulder across the face,” Stocker said. “I sort of woke up in a daze – I think I was out for a minute and a half or so. “It was more the concussion that got me in strife, but went in and had surgery at the end of that week and I knew I had a pretty long road ahead.”

Stocker’s injury dealt him a heavy blow when he missed opportunities to play with Vic Metro – including running out on AFL venues, the MCG and Optus Stadium. He turned the disappointment into motivation and, coupled with a huge preseason, believed they were the factors instrumental for his strong back end of the season.

With a big shift in perception following his injury, Stocker sought to reestablish himself as a real competitor in the TAC Cup before season’s end. According to the Morrish Medal winner, much of this success came off the back of his new mindset instilled by Sandringham Dragons’ Senior Coach, Jeremy Barnard

“I sort of thought ‘you know what you can go and be a mediocre player for the rest of the year and not care about your performance, or you can take some attention to detail and knuckle down,” Stocker said.

Knuckle down, he did. So much so he finished the season as the best player in the competition in the umpires eyes. When asked about his success, Stocker believes he was lucky with the team he had behind him. He said the medal is more a testament to the talent of Sandringham’s midfield group and their continued support, claiming it as more as a collective reward than his own.

“I had a couple games around the season where having the support of my teammates probably helped me a lot more than anything else, so I kind of view this less as a personal award and more as, you know, the midfield group behind me with Bailey (Smith), Ryan Byrnes, Kai Owens behind me,” Stocker said. “They kind of got to me the situation I’m in now, rather than just a huge personal effort.”

The Sandringham Dragons have selection challenges throughout the year with so much of their list playing school football, but luckily for Stocker, the midfielder knows how to adapt. He has a unique backstory having spent a portion of his childhood in Hong Kong, remembering how tough it was playing against bigger bodies as a child.

“The only access we really had to footy was Grand Final day where all the Australians in Hong Kong would go and watch the Grand Final together,” he said. “Beyond that, I went to Auskick in the summer, but you have 16 year olds over there thinking they can make the AFL from Hong Kong Auskick. “It wasn’t much fun there, I was sort of getting poleaxed 24/7 as an eight year-old.”

He has not had to worry about that much lately, with the strong midfielder able to use his bigger frame to win the contested ball. The potential first round pick will be hoping to do plenty of that as he leads the Dragons onball brigade in September, starting with the Murray Bushrangers in the elimination final this weekend.

Morrish Medal Leaderboard:

1 Liam Stocker – Sandringham Dragons (18)
2 Connor Thar – Western Jets (16)
3 Atu Bosenavulagi – Oakleigh Chargers (14)
3 Campbell Hustwaite – Dandenong Stingrays (14)
3 Sam Walsh – Geelong Falcons (14)

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.

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 14

CALDER Cannons’ important win over Murray Bushrangers has seen the Cannons rewarded in the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Week, with three players making the side, the only team to have that many for Round 14. Their opponents the Bushrangers, the five other Round 14 winners, and Round 14 losers Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers all have two players in the side in a remarkable spread of talent across the competition, while Bendigo Pioneers, Eastern Ranges and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have one player each in the side.

Calder co-captain Mitch Podhajski produced another remarkable best on ground performance to make the Team of the Week once again, leading from the front in the midfield. He is joined in the side by Lachlan Sholl and Brodie Newman who were vital in the back half of the ground. Up the same end, Will Chandler booted four goals for the Bushrangers to make Team of the Week for the second consecutive week, while Team of the Week regular Ely Smith is back into the middle once again.

Dandenong Stingrays’ ruck/forward Bailey Williams made it back-to-back Teams of the Week in the ruck, joined in the side by captain Campbell Hustwaite, while fellow midfielder Finlay Bayne was one of the unlucky ones and a hypothetical emergency. Their opponents Northern Knights were strong in defence, as Joel Randall and Stefan Uzelac were called up to be the key posts in this Team of the Week, while Sam Philp just missed out on the side, and was another emergency.

At Warrawee Park, the game between Oakleigh Chargers and Gippsland Power was a thriller and saw four players make the side. Tall Gippsland forward Noah Gown continued his strong form and was named up forward, along with captain Xavier Duursma on the bench. Trent Bianco racked up 40 touches for Oakleigh and was named AFL Draft Central’s TAC Cup Player of the Week for Round 14, while Daniel Scala booted four goals playing the perfect small forward role in attack.

Two Geelong players who have also become regulars in the Team of the Week are back in again, with co-captain Sam Walsh and utility Brayden Ham included in the 22. They are joined in the side by Sandringham Dragons pair Ryan Byrnes and James Rendell who both had impressive games on the weekend. Kai Owens was unlucky not to make the side, being named the third hypothetical emergency.

On the other wing to Byrnes is Western Jets speedster Daly Andrews, while forward Daniel Pantalleresco‘s five majors saw him make his debut in our Team of the Week. The three remaining players who are sole nominees for their side are Noah Wheeler (Bendigo Pioneers), Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges) and James Cleaver (GWV Rebels).

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup – Round 14

IN the last school football affected round of TAC Cup action, some top sides managed to overcome challenges from their opponents to get the four points, while others combated the challenges of high winds.

Sandringham Dragons 9.12 (66) defeated Eastern Ranges 8.8 (56)

By: Scott Dougan

On a cold, blustery day in Box Hill, the second-placed Dragons were first to strike against the Eastern Ranges, with Kyle Yorke converting successfully through the big sticks after taking a strong mark inside 50. Chayce Black responded for the Ranges 10 minutes later after the two teams found it hard to score. James Rendell and Ryan Byrnes impressed early, gathering plenty of possessions around the ground. The tight contest continued throughout the first quarter before Rendell was able to put the Dragons nine points clear at the first break.

The Dragons continued their dominance with the first two goals of the second quarter and increased their lead to 23 points only 15 minutes in. The Ranges weren’t going down without a fight, with Adrian Kalcovski steering through his team’s first of the quarter. Jack Kritopoulos was exciting inside the forward half for the Ranges, bagging two very important goals late in the term, cutting the margin to just three points at the main break. 

The third quarter turned out to be a slugfest, with both teams finding it incredibly difficult to score. Corey Watts was rock-solid down back for the Dragons, taking several intercept marks throughout the quarter. Bottom-ager Mitch Mellis continued to find plenty of the pill around the ground for the Ranges.

The Ranges started the final term in terrific fashion, hitting the front within the first five minutes with goals to James Blanck, Kritopoulos and Devlin Brereton. The Ranges were 13 points up before Oscar McMaster goaled and kept the Dragons within striking range. Nicholas Stamatis put the Dragons ahead in the twentieth minute after a blistering five-minute patch that included two goals. Rendell finished his spectacular day off with a brilliant goal that sealed the match for the Dragons in the final minutes of the game.

 

Dandenong Stingrays 8.19 (67) defeated Northern Knights 8.2 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

A rioting third quarter effort helped ensure Dandenong Stingrays maintained its two-game buffer atop the TAC Cup ladder with a hard-earned win over a gallant Northern Knights outfit at Preston City Oval.

The home side shot out of the blocks kicking against the wind with three straight goals in the opening term, including one to 16 year old prospect Jaden Collins. But the Stingrays kept within reach with a wasteful, but much needed 1.5 to find themselves only seven points down at the first break. Northern managed to get the better of their opponents on the scoreboard once again in the second quarter, albeit against the run of play. Another two majors saw them hold five of the first half’s seven goals, as a late Corey Ellison six-pointer doubled Dandenong’s total of six behinds for the term.

The Stingrays have seldom found themselves behind this season, and the ladder leaders flexed their muscles to pile on six goals in the ever important ‘premiership quarter’, while keeping the Knights scoreless. Forwards Bailey Williams and Finlay Bayne each bagged two goals in the term as the ‘Rays pulled away to a 34-point lead at the final change. With the wind at their backs, Northern kept their opponents goalless and did their best to bridge the gap with two goals from overager Joel Naylor, but it was too little, too late as Dandenong held on for a 17 point victory.

Astonishingly, the Knights won three of the four quarters but were let down by a third term lapse. Bottom-agers Ryan Gardner and Sam Philp were major ball winners for the home side with 27 and 29 respectively, while key defenders Stefan Uzelac (17 disposals, eight marks) and Joel Randall (25 disposals, five marks) were rocks while under enormous pressure.

For the winners, Bayne was prolific forward of centre with 31 disposals, nine marks, eight tackles and 2.2, while Williams chimed in with two majors of his own from 14 disposals and four marks. Midfielders Campbell Hustwaite (26 disposals, 10 tackles) and Sam Fletcher (24 disposals, 14 tackles) were industrious in the clinches, while Lachlan Young was named best afield with his stirring 17 disposals and five contested marks.

 

Gippsland Power 9.6 (60) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 8.7 (55)

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power has locked up a top four spot in this year’s TAC Cup competition with two rounds remaining after defeating Oakleigh Chargers by five points in a thrilling contest at Warrawee Park. The Power jumped the Chargers in blustery conditions early on, booting 3.3 to 1.1 to lead by 14 points in weather that looked like goals would be at a premium. Over the next two quarters, Oakleigh reversed the momentum and seemed to have all the control, with nine scoring shots to one, resulting in five goals on the board for the home team. In fact, Gippsland’s Luke Williams booted the final goal of the third term in the twentieth minute – the first Power score since the opening quarter. The Power came out firing in the final term, booting five goals to two, with the final of those – a Noah Gown set shot from 15m out – handing Gippsland the lead. With the ball down Oakleigh’s end in the dying seconds, Noah Answerth thumped the ball onto the boot and it bounced through from almost 60m out. The only problem? The siren had gone before he had disposed of it, giving Gippsland a vital four points.

Captain Xavier Duursma lead from the front with 29 disposals, seven marks, two clearances, eight inside 50s and four rebounds, while Matthew McGannon collected 21 touches and four marks in a solid contested effort from the overager. Forwards, Noah Gown and Sam Flanders were busy once again, booting two goals each and providing a threat in the air with a combined three contested marks, and 11 all up. Fraser Phillips was one that caught the eye up forward, dominant early and booted a fantastic goal in the opening term, he also had five marks and four inside 50s.

For Oakleigh, bottom-ager Trent Bianco brought his own ball to the footy, racking up 40 disposals, eight marks, four clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Matthew Fewings (26 disposals and five marks) and Lucas Westwood (22 disposals, five marks and seven rebounds) were also prominent. Up forward, Daniel Scala booted four goals, while Jake Gasper kicked his regulation two goals while pushing up to the wing throughout the match. Top picks, Riley Collier-Dawkins and Isaac Quaynor had some eye-catching moments, while Sam Harte was also busy.

 

Calder Cannons 14.8 (92) defeated Murray Bushrangers 10.12 (72)

Calder Cannons upset the Murray Bushrangers in Albury, storming home in the final term to record an impressive 20-point victory. In a see-sawing contest, Murray had early chances in the first term but booted six behinds to the Cannons’ one. Calder took control in the second term, piling on 5.5 to 3.1 to head into the main break with an 11-point lead. By the final quarter, the Bushrangers regained the ascendancy and a narrow lead at the break, heading into three quarter time with a three-point advantage. But Calder put the foot down in the final quarter to blitz the home side, with eight goals to four, including three majors to co-captain Mitch Podhajski changing the course of the game.

Podhajski was a clear best on ground with 35 disposals, 10 marks (three contested), seven inside 50s, two rebounds and four goals, leading the Cannons to one of their most impressive victories of the season. Lachlan Sholl (31 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds) and Brodie Newman (25 disposals, eight marks and six rebounds) were crucial in defence, while Curtis Taylor bounced back from a quiet week last week to post 21 disposals, four marks, five clearances, three rebounds and a goal. Patrick Mahoney (three goals), Daniel Mott (24 disposals, five clearances and six inside 50s) and Ismail Moussa (24 disposals, eight marks, five clearances and four inside 50s) were others who stood out.

For the Bushrangers, midfield dynamo Ely Smith was again among the big ball winners, amassing 32 disposals (17 contested), five clearances and eight inside 50s, while Dylan Clarke had 23 disposals, six clearances and four inside 50s. Monster forward Hudson Garoni worked hard for 23 disposals, 10 marks, four inside 50s and two goals, while Jye Chalcraft was again impressive with 21 touches, three marks, six clearances and four inside 50s. Lachlan Ash (20 disposals, six marks and five rebounds) was good in transition, while Will Chandler was electrifying with 14 disposals (100 per cent efficiency), five marks, four inside 50s and four goals.

 

Geelong Falcons 13.16 (94) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 2.1 (13)

Geelong Falcons might not have had the season they were after, but their demolition of the competitive Bendigo Pioneers showed just what they are capable of at full strength. The Falcons put in one of their finest performances of the year, to boot four goals to zero in the first term, and by the main break, had eight majors on the board to Bendigo’s one. Geelong continued their advantage after half-time, booting three goals from eight scoring shots, then holding the Pioneers scoreless for the second quarter in the match, booting 2.3 themselves to win by 81 points.

Co-captains Sam Walsh and Oscar Brownless lead from the front, recording the most disposals in the match. Walsh was terrific with 33 disposals, six marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds, missing two chances on goal. Brownless had 27 disposals, four marks, seven clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds, while up forward, Brayden Ham continues to put his hand up with another 20 disposals, 12 marks and five goals to be the dominant force up forward. Ben Morton was important around the clearances, racking up five, while Sam Torpy had five inside 50s and booted a goal.

For the Pioneers, Noah Wheeler was the top disposal winner with 20 touches, as well as six marks and six rebounds playing off half-back, while Jacob Atley was also impressive with three rebounds from 15 disposals and three marks. Daniel Clohesy had a team-high four clearances, while Liam Marciano was one of the more prominent Pioneers with 18 disposals, three marks, two clearances and two inside 50s.

 

Western Jets 11.14 (80) defeated Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels 3.6 (24)

By: Ed Pascoe

The Jets and Rebels were unfortunate to get horrid windy conditions for their game at Williamstown where it was not just the players, but the umpires that copped it too. The boundary umpires had the worst of it, often throwing the ball in to have it almost coming back to them which resulted in numerous back-to-back throw ins which frustrated just about everyone and made the contest a real slog for both teams. It all came down to execution going forward and it was the Jets who took the most of their opportunities. Handballs and kicks rarely hit the target throughout the game but some players still stood out with their intent despite the conditions.

The Rebels did not have many winners throughout the day. Goal sneak Charlie Wilson (11 disposals) was not helped with the conditions and tried his absolute best when it did come inside 50. Down back Scott Carlin (21), Jacob Lohmann (19) and James Cleaver (17) all provided good rebound and bottom age midfielders Cooper Craig-Peters (24) and Ethan Harvey (20) worked hard through the midfield.

The Jets captain Xavier O’Halloran (11 disposals) had a quieter game by his standards but he was helped through the midfield with the likes of Daly Andrews (27) running amuck on the wing and the grunt of Stefan Radovanovic (16), Connor Thar (23), Jack Watkins (23) and bottom ager Darcy Cassar (20). AFL Academy member and Under-18 All Australian Buku Khamis (16) was classy at half-back with his ball use while it was forward Daniel Pantalleresco who was all the rage with his 5 goals with most of them kicked extremely well considering the conditions, he did it all at ground level and in the air and he certainly would have gained the attention of recruiters.

Player of the Week: TAC Cup – Round 14

IN a round where big ball winners were the norm, Oakleigh Chargers’ Trent Bianco rose above all others to claim the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week for Round 14. The bottom-age prospect won the Player of the Week vote count with 59 per cent of the vote over Sandringham Dragons’ Ryan Byrnes. Bianco racked up 40 disposals (70 per cent efficiency), eight marks, two tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and seven rebounds against the Gippsland Power at Warrawee Park.

Bianco became the third Oakleigh Chargers player, and the second in three weeks to win the nomination, joining teammates Matthew Day and Jake Gasper as previous nominees. Bianco also joins the exclusive club of being a bottom-ager nominated, following just Sam Flanders and Jamieson Rossiter.

 

AFL Draft Central’s TAC Cup Player of the Week:

Round One: Bailey Smith (Sandringham Dragons)

Round Two: Max King (Sandringham Dragons)

Round Three: Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power)

Round Six: Mitch Podhajski (Calder Cannons)
 
Round Seven: Jamieson Rossiter (Eastern Ranges)
 
Round Eight: Matthew Day (Oakleigh Chargers)
 
Round Nine: Jake Riccardi (Calder Cannons)
 
Round 10: Ely Smith (Murray Bushrangers)
 
Round 11: Charlie Wilson (GWV Rebels)
 
Round 12: Jake Gasper (Oakleigh Chargers)
 
Round 13: Mat Walker (Murray Bushrangers)
 
Round 14: Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)

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.

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.