Tag: Sean Masterson

Gippsland Power 2017 review

With the off-season now officially here for TAC Cup clubs, AFL Draft Central will go back and review what 2017 was like for each of the 12 clubs. We kick off the series with Bendigo Pioneers and will end with the Western Jets.

Gippsland Power

Finished: 7th
Wins: 8
Losses: 11
Percentage: 85
Points: 32 (eliminated in elimination final)

Players Drafted: (2)

  • Callum Porter (Western Bulldogs)
  • Changkuoth Jiath (Hawthorn)

2017 Review:

Gippsland Power had an improved year in 2017 compared to the previous year, finishing inside the top eight after a strong finish to the season. The Power should plenty of heart throughout the year and had a number of impressive games throughout the season, competing with the top teams at their best, but just fell short of the top-end talent which saw other sides advance further in the TAC Cup finals series.

On draft night, Gippsland had just the one name called out in the all-round midfield star Callum Porter who lived his dream when the Western Bulldogs selected him in the National Draft. Teammate Changkuoth Jiath also made it onto Hawthorn’s AFL list as a Category B rookie under the Next Generation Academy system.

The most unlucky not to have his name called was the lightly built Matthew McGannon, but there were plenty of others on the cusp with interest in midfielders Nick Hogan and Will Stephenson, as well as Aidan Quigley, Julian Patterson, Austin Hodge, Sean Masterson and Will Leslie.


2018 Preview:

Gippsland Power is set for a bumper draft in 2019, but next year there are still a few prospects who have shown some nice signs early, including the talented by lightly built Xavier Duursma, and the even lighter Irving Mosquito who is as exciting as anyone else in the draft crop when he gets going.


Xavier Duursma (Gippsland Power) 184cm | 70kg | Inside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (18) 15.6 disposals | 3.8 marks | 4.3 tackles | 1.7 clearances | 54% KE | 64% DE | 53% CP

Duursma has shaped as Gippsland’s top prospect for 2018 after a really consistent season playing on the wing and across the flanks. He is not a huge notable ball winner, but he moves well and tackles hard. He needs to put on a bit of muscle to have more a presence one-on-one on the inside, but he works hard and once he gets going he looks good so expect him to be a full-time midfielder in 2018.

Irving Mosquito (Gippsland Power) 174cm | 66kg | Small Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (12) 14 disposals | 4 marks | 2.8 tackles | 4.3 inside 50s | 1.3 goals | 55% KE | 64% DE | 55% CP

‘Mozzie’ is a player you just cannot help but get excited about. He might be inconsistent at times, but his highlight reel is insane. He takes the huge hangers, kicks the amazing goals and just has that touch of class about him wherever he goes. For a small forward to average 4.3 inside 50s from 14 disposals, it shows he works hard pushing up the ground and he lays tackles adding to that precious forward pressure.

Others to keep an eye on:

Bailey Beck (Gippsland Power) 181cm | 69kg | Outside Midfielder
2017 TAC Cup: (17) 15.2 disposals | 3.4 marks | 4.1 tackles | 1.9 hitouts | 1.2 clearances | 2.1 inside 50s | 57.9 KE% | 66% DE | 40% CP

Kyle Reid (Gippsland Power) 192cm | 88kg | Key Position Forward
2017 TAC Cup: (16) 8.1 disposals | 3.1 marks | 1.7 tackles | 0.8 goals | 59% KE | 65% DE | 41% CP



Gippsland Power might have just had the one name called out on draft night and two players added to AFL lists, but there were signs throughout the season to show that plenty of players had developed from start to finish. McGannon is a player who could easily come back and play as an over-ager and prove his worth after essentially being almost a bottom-ager this year, and a lightly built one at that. The Power always have lesser known players compared to other clubs simply because of the media promotion, but one gets the feeling that the 2018 and in particular 2019 draft eligible players will really get the football world talking in the next two years.

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 10

ROUND Ten of the TAC Cup was completed over the weekend and we had scouts watching four of the games. Round 10 is the start of the three week TAC Cup ‘Futures Rounds’ which will see teams play a minimum of 11 bottom-aged players. Read their scouting notes below:

Eastern Ranges vs. Western Jets (Matt Balmer)

Eastern Ranges:

#2 Thomas North – One of the unlucky players to miss out on Vic Metro selection for the opening game, but North did all he could do to bang down the door for a spot in their round three team. North’s hands in close were super and he worked the ball out of the stoppage with ease. His usage on his left foot was good and he hit most of his targets. Would’ve been one of the leading disposal winners on the ground, often looking to play on at all costs.

#7 Jordan Lynch – Stop the game at quarter time and the over-ager would’ve been clear best on ground. Lynch controlled the centre of the ground for most of the day and while he faded out a bit as the game went on with some extra attention from the Jets – he was a great player for them. His strong body at the stoppages helped him win the clearances and he used his agility and burst to move the ball forward at speed. Has presence.

#17 Cody Hirst – Laid an outstanding rundown tackle on O’Halloran in the opening quarter on the 50m arch. Took a nice mark on the lead in the second quarter and used the ball well on his left foot throughout the game. Had a kickable shot on goal in the third quarter 20m out on the run, but was impressive on the outside.

#20 Ben Cardamone – First time I’d noticed Cardamone and he wasn’t a player I had jotted down to watch coming into the clash – but I was impressed by the bottom-ager. Spent time at either end and was lively around the ball – willing to crack in hard and lay tackles. Reckon he’s a player to track over the next 18 months.

#24 Kye Quirk – Played in defensive 50 and the bottom ager was solid without starring. Has a long kick and has good vision with ball in hand. Took a nice mark at ground level in the opening quarter. Was winded in a Buku Khamis tackle in the third quarter nursing a sore head, but played out the game without too much discomfort.

Western Jets:

#1 Jake Hazik – Has an enormous supply of energy and the bottom-ager is as lively as they come. Possess great speed & agility and is fast footed. Booted a nice goal on his left foot close to goal in the opening quarter but his best goal was around the corner in the second quarter of the game over his shoulder. Did miss a kickable shot on the run in the first quarter but he’s someone who certainly will catch the eye.

#11 Zak Butters – Was a big ball winner in the U17 Futures game for Vic Metro last week and provides plenty of run and carry for the Jets team. Is a zippy midfield and while his kicking can be hot and cold, he was pretty good on Saturday. Picks the ball up cleanly from ground level and loves to tackle.

#12 Connor Thar – Roved his first goal from the ruck contest 15m out and was solid right throughout the game. Ball use was good on his right foot and took a nice mark in the last quarter.

#33 Xavier O’Halloran – Was a slow starter but his work in the centre of the ground was outstanding. Is a clearance machine and possesses a long kick. When tackled he lifts his arms up and is able to get them free to dish off a handball. Laid some crunching tackles and was superb in the second quarter.

#38 Buku Khamis – Haven’t seen a lot of Khamis up forward but he bagged two goals on his long left foot from outside 50 which were outstanding. He keeps his feet at the contest and has a very good leap. At times he misjudged the flight of the ball and didn’t take as many marks as he could’ve – but I thought it was one of the better games I’ve seen him play. Not a huge ball winner, but his last quarter was special despite missing an easy shot on goal from 15m out.

Gippsland Power vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels (Peter Williams)

Gippsland Power:

#5 Xavier Duursma – Played a solid role on the outside, moving the ball really well in transition and his ability to get his hands free when tackled is a big plus. Did not win as much of it as others, but seemed to get better as the game went on and kicked a really good goal from a standing start. Almost had a second courtesy of a high leap but just missed.

#7 Will Stephenson – The acting captain for the Power just relishes the big moments. With the game on the line and the Rebels starting to get hold of the match, Stephenson booted three second half goals to turn the game back in Gippsland’s favour. He was in the votes for mine, just behind teammate Cal Porter with the pair booting six majors between them and proving a handful for the opposition.

#15 Cody Henness – A steady hand in defence. He would chop off opposition passes and just hold up the play to regain momentum for Gippsland. He would then size up his options and pass laterally or go long, playing percentage football. A rock back there for Gippsland.

#18 Matthew McGannon – The Power player switched between midfield and defence at times and seemed to judge his kick really well. He had a good pass in the second term where he used his peripheral vision to kick laterally, hit-up a target and allow the Power to run clear of the defensive 50. One of the better Power players on the day and was solid throughout the four quarters.

#19 Callum Porter – Another best on ground performance for mine. Just so strong in the air, wins clearances and kicks goals. His reading of the tap in the last quarter, bursting away, taking a couple of bounces and slotted it from outside 50. Finished with two goals, a large number of contested possessions, contested marks and clearances, he just continues to get the job done and another all-round performance for the inside midfielder.

#20 Kim Drew – Another underrated midfielder at the Power who caught my eye a number of times. He sometimes was let down by his execution, but his decision making was very good. In otherwords, he would kick it to the right areas, and he has that penetrating kick, but it wouldn’t always hit the target lace out. He also had good vision on the outside and was a key mover on the wing.

#24 Sean Masterson – Can play at either end but settled in defence. Started on Jordan Johnston but moved around a fair bit. Took a couple of really neat hangers to show off his aerial ability. Got a bit of the ball and is athletic for his size, so another promising performance for the over-ager.

#25 Kyle Reid – Finished the match with four goals and for mine that’s a good day in any key forward’s book. Proved too strong for his opponents at times, he leads at the football and makes the most of his opportunities. Might have had one or two more but he had a few shots from tight angles. One goal he kicked tight up on the boundary line was his best. A prominent target inside 50.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels:

#3 Scott Carlin – The player to go to in the defensive half, Carlin isn’t rushed with his disposal and will hit up targets over short and medium ranges. Tasked with the kick-in duties, he did not let his side down and often would look for the 1-2 pass coming out of defence. Definetely a defensive playmarker and will be good to watch him develop into a midfielder over the next 18 months given his accurate passing.

#4 Aiden Domic – A very impressive performance from the Rebels midfielder. I’ve always thought he had the talent, but on the weekend he added the hard running to the max and got a tick from me. In one instant he had the ball at half-back, kicked long to a teammate and ran hard enough to receive the pass from that teammate inside 50. Kicked a goal against the flow late and used his pinpoint passing to effect throughout the game. Was very pleased with what he produced.

#9 Flynn Appleby – I took notice of both his offensive and defensive traits from the game. He laid a really good smother early in the third term, and also has that ability to break zones with his long kicking. He showed good hands under pressure and just kept bobbing up throughout the game and could hold his head high from that performance.

#10 Jordan Johnston – Looked to be going for the marks record early on, was hauling them in from everywhere including a high flying grab in the goal square for the first goal of the game. Finished with just the two majors, but played further up the ground as the game went on and hit up targets inside 50 on numerous occassions. A fine performance from the Vic Country squad member.

#15 Trent Reed – Had a truck load of the ball, but his kicking let him down at times. Seemed to rush his disposal a little bit but continually worked hard throughout the match. Copped a knock early and played it out and despite some of the missed kicks would have been one of the Rebels’ best. He covers the ground really well and just continually puts his body on the line and does the team thing with no regard for his own safety.

#23 Lloyd Meek – The standout ruck in the game, he’s just so strong and manhandled his opponents. In the past he’s had the ruckwork ability but this season he’s come in leaps and bounds in terms of using his body to ragdoll opponents. Took several contested marks including a few in defence and just played everywhere on the ground. A presence in the air and so clever around the stoppages.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers (Michael Alvaro) 

Northern Knights:

#5 Marcus Lentini – Has returned from a wrist injury well over the last few weeks, settling the Knights across half-back and earning high numbers in disposals. Uncharacteristically shirked a contest in the third term, but worked hard afterwards to rectify it and really dug in for his side going forward. While he was great at setting his side up, his efforts going the other way weren’t as prominent, and he’ll need to work on that as he gains more time in the midfield. That, and blazing away under pressure are probably the things keeping him out of the final Vic Metro squad.

#10 Brody Bell –Utilised on the wing for most of the game, the bottom-ager stood out with his one-on-one prowess and hunger for the contest. Isn’t a high accumulator, but tackles well and already has a decent build, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him thrown into the centre bounces in the future. The Knights have a good history of doing that and it certainly wouldn’t hurt his development.

#13 Ollie Stapleton – Looks much-improved this year and provided some needed dash for the Knights with starts Jack Petruccelle and Patrick Naish on Vic Metro representative duty this weekend. Prone to a clanger or two, but has a lot of upside with his gut-running and knack around goals.

#18 Jamison Shea – The Old-Paradian has enjoyed a decent few weeks as 23rd man for Footscray in the VFL and as a star-man for the Knights. Was played through the middle to capitalise on his improved ball-winning ability, and floated around the ground nicely to win the ball in important areas at both ends. Has really excelled this year with the Knights having more key position outlets, allowing him to play a role more suited to his slight 190cm frame.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#4 Ned Reeves – The Knights tried three different rucks but couldn’t get the better of Oakleigh’s man mountain. Dominated the centre bounces, giving his classy midfielders first use and even chimed in with a goal late in the game.

#6 Matthew Day – Big bodied midfielder with a ton of class. Has terrific hands which he often uses to release teammates on the run, and compliments it well with a booming left foot. Provided a couple of decent highlights throughout the day with a huge run-down tackle and a neat side-step which lead to his first of two goals. Was also rested forward in the second half after hurting his ankle in that tackle and looked dangerous.

#10 Riley Jones – Has an exciting mix of athleticism and courage – showcasing his outstanding leap and strong hands with either a ridiculous mark or attempt in each term. Backed it up with three goals and was menacing throughout the game, latching onto high balls into the 50 that would often go to ground.

#13 Daniel Stanford – The 19-year-old excelled up forward, dominating his side’s 50 for the whole contest. Proved a handful with his work rate and ability to find space, teaming up well with Riley Jones to provide reliable targets. Finished with deserved return of four goals.

#16 Lachlan Bugeja – There isn’t much of this bottom-ager, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the way he wins his contested ball. Provided a combination of grunt and class in the second and third terms which set the sides apart and saw Oakleigh gain an unassailable lead. Attended most of the centre bounces and used the ball well out of them.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers (Brandon Hutchinson)

Dandenong Stingrays: 

#29 Bailey Williams – Showed consistent success in his centre hitouts throughout this weekend’s match. The leap and timing of him was not easy to match from the Bushrangers. While not every hitout was correctly capitalised on, his midfield presence in the centre made him a strong target for his team. With an excellence composure, this young man remained a pillar for his team throughout a tough four quarters of football.

#38 Mitch Cotter – The ferocity shown by Cotter is powerful and unmatched. Has no problem throwing his head over the ball. Always in the right place at the right time, and he works hard to eject the football toward his 50 and has no issue playing both offensively and defensively. He is excellent along the ground, snatching up the football whenever he’s near it. This kid is someone to keep an eye on.

#50 Riley D’Arcy – His physical presence did not go unnoticed in the Stingray’s forward 50. In the air he is unparalleled, with firm marking and sharp kicking that launched his team out of the gate in the second quarter. D’Arcy had a strong first half, kicking four assuming an assisting role in the later half of the game. His movement of the ball helped cease midfield scramble, creating smooth movement through the passage toward goal. When he is hit up in front of goal, more often than not is he going to mark and put a score on the board. D’Arcy ended the game with five goals.

#55 Ali Zijai – Has excellent midfield presence and hits the scoreboard. Zijai’s slick running along the wing is a sight to behold. In a game with plenty of stoppages and fumbling, this young fella held the ball tight and put it where it needed to be. On the ground and in the air, Zijai holds his composure under insurmountable opposition pressure. Sharp kicking and excellent run & carry saw this young man set up plenty of goals out of the midfield, as well as kicking three of his own.

Murray Bushrangers: 

#1 Daniel Johnston – Had a realatively quiet game but launched out of the gate as soon as the Bushies got a whiff of victory. He kicked Murray’s first goal for the game and their final goal to put them within two points. His fight came through hard in the final quarter, kicking two to give the Bushrangers a chance. His willingness to attack the ball was quite prevalent in the nail biter, and the hanger he took in the closing minutes was nothing short of incredible.

#18 Hudson Garoni – Was a man on a mission. He opened up Murray’s game launching through two important goals in the first quarter. Was their leading goal kicker for the day, showing no issue dropping them in from any angle. As a smaller forward, this kid has a future and showed it without doubt against the Stingrays.

#21 Doulton Langlands – This man’s work in the backline was a huge reason behind the close finish. His decision-making and running was a key factor behind his teams movement along the wing. When this kid grabbed the ball he was off. It could be easily argued that he was the biggest problem for Stingray’s forward line, being way too quick for any of their players. Langlands has a lot of potential, showing he can do at all if he’s needed to. If you ask me, he definitely has a future in this game.

Under 18 Championships Preview: Vic Country

VIC COUNTRY enters the National Under 18s Championships as a big question mark given it failed to produce a win last season despite being one of the favourites. In 2017, Country has a greater depth of inside ball winners, but less class on the outside, while a plethora of key forwards and the best key defender in the draft help straighten the team up.

It is well known that contested ball and clearances are a key to winning a football match and Country have plenty of players that can do that. Headlined by Dandenong ball winner Luke Davies-Uniacke – who could well be a top two pick – Country also has James Worpel, teammate Cassidy Parish and Stingray Hunter Clark.

On the outside, Country will need to rely on the likes of Matthew Ling, Lochie O’Brien and Harry Benson to provide some dash and get crucial inside 50s to Tom De Koning, Bailey Williams and Tom McCartin. Murray Bushranger Jordan Butts played forward in the trial game, whether he stays there or goes back is largely unknown and it could depend on whether or not the likes of Power duo Cody Henness and Sean Masterson are playing.

Stingray Oscar Clavarino will stand tall in defence and take out the opposition’s best forward, while Ethan Floyd and Ben Paton take the game on and try and penetrate zones with their kicking off half-back. Up forward, Jordan Johnston, David Handley and Gryan Miers are likely to cause headaches for opposition teams, providing both offensive and defensive pressure. Meanwhile in the ruck, Rebel Lloyd Meek will share the duties with Gippsland’s Julian Patterson.

Players to watch:

Luke Davies-Uniacke – The standout player in the country team, using his big frame to star for the Stingrays early in the year before impressing at school football since. Played in defence last season and has now built up to play a huge role in the Country midfield and expect him to lead by example with the other inside midfielders.

James Worpel – Another inside player who has had an indifferent start to the season after a couple of niggling injuries, but the AFL Academy member could be a match winner for Country in the championships. He has the ability to go forward and influence, and will win his fair share of in-and-under hardball in the middle.

Lochie O’Brien – While the other Country midfield stars bring the grunt, O’Brien brings the outside class to the fore. He has not seen a lot of it this season, tagged out of most games at school football, but O’Brien is a dangerous prospect for opposition teams when up and going and will be the player Country looks for to hit-up targets inside 50.

Oscar Clavarino – The star key defender will be the most crucial player to the Country side. He will likely have a different pairing in defence each match, and will be tasked with organising the back six. He does lack some strength for the monster key position forwards, but with few monsters, Clavarino will beat most players one-on-one.

Jordan Johnston – An excitement machine, Johnston provides a different element to the Country forward mix. He is a high flying, accurate goal kicker who is capable on the ground as well. Likened to Jamie Elliott, Johnston has the X-factor about him, and he is just working on the consistency to make him a real danger to opposition defenders.

2018 names to keep an eye on:

Sam Walsh – A smooth mover who does not panic under pressure, has great vision and just thinks about his disposal. Walsh is good around the stoppages and is able to spot up teammates that many others might not and uses his smarts to outwit opponents. Has returned from an injury that kept him out of the last few weeks.

Bailey Williams – A key forward to get excited about next year, Williams also has played in the ruck for Dandenong and looks the goods. The bottom-ager could well play every game, but it might depend on if Jordan Butts plays in defence. Either way, when he does play, he is likely to stand out.

Zane Barzen – Very athletic forward who has an impressive vertical leap. Works hard up the ground and then sprints back forward. Is very clean below his knees and moves well. Should get game time for Vic Country throughout the Under 18 Championships.


Round 1: v ALLIES – June 11th 12.30pm Blacktown
Round 2: BYE
Round 3: v VIC METRO – June 24th 2.30pm Punt Road Oval
Round 4: v WESTERN AUSTRALIA – June 30th 2.10pm Etihad Stadium (FOX FOOTY)
Round 5: v SOUTH AUSTRALIA – July 5th 4.40pm Simonds Stadium (FOX FOOTY)

Possible Round One team:

B: Ben Paton, Josh Jaska, Laitham Vandermeer
HB: Ethan Floyd, Oscar Clavarino, Changkuoth Jiath
C: Cal Wellings, Paddy Dow, Matthew Ling
HF: Ethan McHenry, Jordan Butts, Brent Daniels
F: Gryan Miers, Tom De Koning, David Handley

FOLL: Lloyd Meek, Luke Davies-Uniacke, James Worpel
INT: Cody Henness, Jye Caldwell, Kane Farrell, Zane Barzen, Aidan Quigley


Finishing prediction: 3rd – Vic Country will finish somewhere between 2nd and 4th with Vic Metro the clear favourite and Western Australia behind the other teams. With the strong inside presence, Country would be favourites against the Allies, but the game against South Australia will be 50/50.

MVP prediction: Luke Davies-Uniacke – The top players stand up when the pressure intensifies so the two tips for the MVP are Luke Davies-Uniacke and James Worpel. Given LDU has played more football this year, we shall go with the big-bodied Stingray.


HT (cm)
WT (kg)
1Kane FARRELL17/03/199918072Bendigo Pioneers
2Samuel WALSH2/07/200018268Geelong Falcons
3Jye CALDWELL28/09/200018178Bendigo Pioneers
4Gryan MIERS30/03/199917773Geelong Falcons
5Ben PATON19/10/199818578Murray Bushrangers
6Aidan QUIGLEY7/05/199918372Gipplsand Power
7Harry BENSON12/06/199918072Geelong Falcons
8Lochie O’BRIEN18/09/199918475Bendigo Pioneers
9Luke DAVIES-UNIACKE8/06/199918785Dandenong Stingrays
10Brent DANIELS9/03/199917270Bendigo Pioneers
11Laitham VANDERMEER3/02/199918073Murray Bushrangers
12Edward MCHENRY13/07/200017667Geelong Falcons
13Ethan FLOYD15/07/199917970Geelong Falcons
14Callan WELLINGS20/02/199818171GWV Rebels
15Paddy DOW16/10/199918478Bendigo Pioneers
16David HANDLEY1/09/199918176Geelong Falcons
17Zane BARZEN25/08/200019176Murray Bushrangers
18Bailey HENDERSON20/10/199918875Bendigo Pioneers
19Matthew LING21/04/199918274Geelong Falcons
20Tom DE KONING16/07/199920092Dandenong Stingrays
21Hunter CLARK26/03/199918679Dandenong Stingrays
22Jordon BUTTS31/12/199919580Murray Bushrangers
23Cooper STEPHENS21/05/199918072Geelong Falcons
24Sean MASTERSON23/08/199819278Gipplsand Power
25Oscar CLAVARINO22/05/199919586Dandenong Stingrays
26Angus SCHUMACHER16/03/199918976Bendigo Pioneers
27Harrison JONES15/03/199918379Murray Bushrangers
28James WORPEL24/01/199918584Geelong Falcons
29Bailey WILLIAMS17/04/200019891Dandenong Stingrays
30Jordan JOHNSTON9/09/199918476GWV Rebels
31Sam FLETCHER27/01/200018877Dandenong Stingrays
32Cassidy PARISH4/05/199919084Geelong Falcons
33Changkuoth JIATH13/06/199918574Gipplsand Power
34Thomas BOYD29/01/199919175Murray Bushrangers
35Tom MCCARTIN30/12/199919286Geelong Falcons
36Cody HENNESS7/02/199919388Gippsland Power
37Joshua JASKA26/02/199819376Geelong Falcons
38Lloyd MEEK22/04/1998202104GWV Rebels
39Hudson GARONI14/01/200019392Murray Bushrangers
40Julian PATTERSON14/05/199820381Gipplsand Power
41Aaron DARLING24/01/199917883Dandenong Stingrays

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 9

ROUND Nine of the TAC Cup continued over the weekend and we had scouts watching five of the games. Read their scouting notes below:

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Geordie Nagle – Arguably the Dragons’ best in the hard fought loss. Nagle played a good role in the back pocket and used the ball well. Is trusted with the kick outs and has been one of the Dragons’ best when they’ve been understrength with players at school football.

#22 Quintin Montanaro – Bounced back after a few disappointing games in a row carrying a toe injury. Clean ball user on either foot and can run hard all day. Handballing in close was better than previous weeks.

Eastern Ranges:

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Took a while to get into the game mixing between forward and playing through the midfield. Finished strongly and was one of the Ranges best booting a vital goal early into the last quarter.

#18 Sam Hayes – Was a class above in the ruck. Won multiple hit outs and looked dangerous throughout the day. Had stints up forward and booted what turned out to be the match-winning goal with not long remaining in the contest.

Geelong Falcons vs. Gippsland Power (Peter Williams)

Geelong Falcons:

#7 Harry Benson – I was most impressed with his performance. Each time I’ve seen him live he seems to get a little bit more damaging. He’s worked on his inside game further as well as his defensive pressure which will undoubtedly show in his tackle statistics and key performance indicators at club level. Benson got his hands dirty on the weekend and played more inside shovelling out handballs, while still providing the run on the outside. The next key for him is working on his kicking under pressure because when having time and space, he is a damaging kick, but under pressure he tends to rush his disposal more than he needs to. One of, if not the best in my eyes for the Falcons.

#12 Bayley Cockerill – Seemed to get better as the game wore on. Played mostly behind the ball, he showed courage going back with the flight, and provided a running option at half-back. Was not afraid to keep the ball moving and kick long to contests. After a quieter start, he provided a real highlight later in the game with a snap from the pocket under pressure. His work rate and ability to just keep pushing throughout four quarters was good.

#17 Cooper Stephens – Played on Irving Mosquito at half-back and had his work cut out for him defensively. But despite Mosquito providing a few highlights, Stephens provided good run and drive out of the back half. He was often used as the designated kick out of defence, or the link-up handball between the back 50 and the midfield. Often combined with Harry Benson or Bayley Cockerill to get the ball moving.

#22 Sam Walsh – A player who just does not panic. Walsh showed plenty of composure in another impressive performance returning to the the Falcons’ line-up from injury. At times he does have that ability to make time stop and assess his options, almost doing a 360 degree spin to work out what to do next. He was often the player that would mark in the middle of the ground and switch play to either wing. Used in a chain of handballs or to penetrate inside forward 50, he got a tick from me for his game. Walsh is still a bottom-ager so I look forward to seeing him over the next 18 months.

#41 Tom McCartin – Aside from his strong marking, the one thing that stood out for me was his ground level work. His clean hands and ability to pick up a ball off the deck, particularly at full speed like he was in one instance in the first quarter was impressive. Despite playing key forward and not kicking a goal, I thought McCartin was one of the Falcons’ best using his work rate and ability to provide a contest to help his side. I think his work at ground level and ability to pick the ball off the deck with clean hands adds a point of difference to other key forwards in the draft.

#46 Adam Garner – Simply too big and too strong for his opponents. Played on a few different Power players, but the result was the same, his contested marking is a treat, sticking up the big gloves and if he didn’t mark it, he always brought it to ground. A straight line forward, for me the next step is his ground level work and decision making as at times he seemed to be a tad slow with disposing of the ball in play. With six goals and a plethora of big marks, Garner could be pleased with his performance in almost hauling the Falcons over the line.

Gippsland Power:

#5 Xavier Duursma – The Power midfielder certainly caught the attention of opposition players with his booming kick and fierce tackling. Moved well across the ground and was one of Gippsland’s better players through the middle. Had a couple of shots on goal, kicking one and narrowly missing another. Has a forward presence with good marking ability and reading of the play. There was an instance in the first term where it looked like he might have panicked a little under pressure and rushed his disposal, but I did not see it again so it could have been a once-off. A solid overall game from Duursma.

#6 Aiden Quigley – The AFL Academy member has a presence around the ground with his tackling and repeat efforts. He showed good decision making throughout the four quarters, but his execution let him down at times. His tackling technique is one that many players could learn as he pins the arm away and forces the umpire to award him a free kick. Seemed to drift out of the game late, but he was far from alone as Geelong took control in the last quarter. Overall he showed good signs defensively, just needs to work on his kicking.

#7 Will Stephenson – This kid just lives for the big moments. Seemed to be quiet in the first half, but in the second half when Geelong was hitting back, he won a couple of cruical one-on-one contests, including one of the last centre clearances. Matched on Cassidy Parish who is arguably the best or one of the best TAC Cup clearance players in the game, Stephenson read the flight of the tap perfectly and kicked inside 50 to hit-up a target with the Falcons pushing hard. They were able to chew vital seconds off the clock and his influence late was a key reason why they held on. Stephenson has plenty of courage and is not afraid to match it with bigger players and go back with the flight.

#9 Irving Mosquito – Everyone has told me how exciting this kid is and after an indifferent start seeing him live at QEO earlier in the season, I was sold by his highlights against the Falcons. A huge vertical leap dangerous around goals, Mosquito kicked a fantastic goal off a step from a tight angle and almost had two with a dribble shot from the boundary just missing. Just oozes X-factor and has great decision making. My knock on him earlier in the season was his ability to rush his disposal at times not realising how much time and space he has, but he did not have that problem on the weekend. Was injured in the last quarter after a late knock following a kick, so hopefully his injury is not too serious.

#19 Callum Porter – A perfect game in terms of offensive and defensive impact from the tough, inside midfielder. Had four tackles within the first minute of play and would drift back to half-back and take the intercept mark, then somehow drift forward and kick four goals. He would have racked up 20 plus disposals, 10 plus tackles, eight to 10 marks and of course four goals, to really put a stap on the game. His ability to mark in a contest against bigger bodies was really telling and he just never took a backwards step. Stood up when Gippsland needed a hero and he provided the forward presence when the Power’s forwards were being well held. Clearly best on ground and a game he is unlikely to forget anytime soon.

#24 Sean Masterson – A quiet game, but stood up at crucial times similar to Stephenson. Nearly every involvement he had was important, whether it was a towering mark at centre half forward or a spoil and intercept at centre half back, Masterson really showed his versatility on the weekend. Played up both ends and while he might not have the strength of his opponents, he has a good leap and is a solid field kicker. He also took a huge mark late in the game and iced the clock, showing his maturity.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Western Jets (Duncan Robertson)

Oakleigh Chargers:

#8 Toby Wooller – Far too strong and mobile for his Jets opponent. Played a solid game booting two goals in a game where he mostly played inside 50.

#24 Sam Harte – The bottom ager is a classy small midfielder who used his speed on multiple occasions to burst away from the stoppages.

#35 Jack Higgins – Was wasteful in front of goal and could’ve well kicked seven if he had’ve kicked straight. His quality is obvious and the Jets had no answer to his crafty ability through the midfield and up forward as a small forward. Finished with four goals.

Western Jets:

#19 Cameron Rayner – One of the standouts for the Jets, in a solid game by his high standards. Powerful, classy and quick. His ‘speccy’ was play of the day and he booted three goals. The Jets suffered wherever he was moved from, winning the contested ball when he played in the midfield and looking dangerous inside 50 with his contested marking when he went forward. Was unable to settle into one particular role as was switching between forward and midfield constantly throughout the day.

#35 Blake Graham – Worked hard as a lead up target inside 50, making multiple leads but didn’t get much supply.

#37 Hamish Murphy -Tried hard all day in defence with multiple inside 50s for Oakleigh. His intercept work was good and he possesses a very strong left foot which helps him rebound the ball effectively.

#38 Buku Khamis – Played an excellent game as a midsized forward. Was classy and elusive when he had ball in hand. Is a strong body at the contests and has good hands to dispose of the ball.

Calder Cannons vs. Northern Knights (Billy Friend)

Calder Cannons:

#1 Brad Bernacki – An inspiring best on ground performance from the Calder captain today, as he willed his team to their first home victory this season. Bernacki collected 39 touches in the midfield whilst applying constant pressure around the ball. The tough inside midfielder found pockets of space around the ground but his most influential work was done at the clearances.

#2 Dylan Landt – Accumulated in the midfield with expertise and kicked the game sealing goal with a left foot snap. He displayed his endurance and work rate throughout the contest. His football smarts are very good and he was often able to get to the right place at the right time.

#4 Mohammed Moustafa – Didn’t collect a lot of the ball, but his strength in the contest really stood out. Moustafa shook off tackles and was clean when the ball was in dispute.

#8 Lachlan Sholl – Played an outside role to perfection as he pushed back to take marks in the hole and found space to accumulate possessions all around the ground. Was efficient by foot.

#11 Jake Firebrace – Made up for a number of first half errors and fumbles with a solid second half performance. His sidestep and ferocious pressure was important for Calder heading inside forward fifty

#12 Noah Balta – Appeared to be a level above his opponents for most of the day. His athletic leap was a standout as he took three spectacular overhead marks both in defence and in the forward line. He kicked two crucial goals in the last quarter to ice the game after playing the first half at centre half back and was second best to Bernacki on the day.

#26 Mason Fletcher – Was commanding in defence and held the Northern key forwards at bay. Took some strong intercept marks and made critical spoils. Disposed of the ball well coming out of defensive 50.

#29 Jake Riccardi – Played well as the focal point of the Cannons’ attack for most of the day and finished with three goals. His hands were strong as he took contested marks, but also lead hard to present an option for teammates.

#33 Jack Evans – Played an almost identical role to Mason Fletcher. Evans was commanding in defence and held the Northern key forwards at bay. Took some strong intercept marks and made critical spoils. Disposed of the ball well coming out of defensive 50.

#39 Jesse Firebrace – Excited in the first quarter as Calder’s live wire in the forward half, kicking two early goals. His small frame didn’t stop him from imposing himself around contests and his speed & agility was a real weapon for the Cannons.

Northern Knights:

#5 Marcus Lentini – Was the delivery man in the back half and his run & dash was important. He rebounded the ball well and took a couple of intercept marks.

#7 Jack Petruccelle – A fairly quiet performance by his lofty standards, but he did show glimpses where he went forward and took two strong contested marks and kicked a goal. His impact in the midfield was subdued.

#10 Brody Bell – Played well as a loose player behind the stoppage and was clean with his disposal. Didn’t have a huge impact but had his moments.

#11 Ethan Penrith – His speed and agility was lethal deep forward and he kicked an outstanding goal beating three opponents in the third quarter. He tried hard all day and was one of Northern’s best with his tackling pressure and pinpoint field kicking.

#15 Anthony Fable – Probably kicked the goal of the day as he showed off his lightning speed and long kick. His tackling pressure was a level above most of his teammates and his service into the forward line was lethal.

#32 Patrick Howe – Kicked two goals in the first quarter and continued to be dangerous as a third tall as the game went on.

#34 Matthew Harman – Fought hard in the ruck without much help and won most of the hitouts today. His hitout to advantage rate was not high as the Cannons midfield got on top especially in the second half.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers (Billy Friend)

Greater Western Victoria Rebels:

#1 Dale Cox – Showed agility across half back and pressurised the Murray forwards constantly. He needs to improve his kicking but showed impressive signs.

#4 Aiden Domic – His hard running was a highlight and he kicked a superb midfield goal where he impacted the contest on the wing and ended up with the ball in the forward line seconds later. Was one of the leading ball winners on the ground.

#6 Keegan Gray – Found plenty of space on the wing and probably gained the most metres of all his teammates. Showed impressive endurance to cover the ground and collect possessions at ease.

#9 Flynn Appleby – Displayed overhead marking prowess. He was swung forward and took strong marks, kicking two goals.

#16 Joe Dodd – Kicked a goal and did a lot of good work up the ground.

#19 Jackson Taurau – Was outmuscled by Johnston on several occasions but fought back with impressive spoils in the second half. At 188cm was undersized against the Murray key forwards.

#22 Naish McRoberts – Stood out in the Rebels midfield as his clean hands resulted in many clearances. He kicked a booming goal from fifty metres out and was a shining light.

#24 Matty Lloyd – His disposals were classy and impactful as Lloyd once again caught the eye. He was best on ground in the first half but his impact was limited as the Rebels were overwhelmed in the second half. Kicked a nice goal too.

#40 Tylar Watts – Busted his guts all day and presented as a strong option up forward. He kicked three goals and won most of his one-on-one duals with the Bushranger defenders. When asked to pinch hit in the ruck he made some nice contributions shovelling the ball out by hand to outside runners.

Murray Bushrangers: 

#1 Daniel Johnston – Was a man mountain at full forward and got the better of Taurau and co. He kicked three goals in the second quarter and was too big and too strong. Johnston also provided an imposing physical presence when he pinch hit in the ruck through laying tackles and even clearing the ball on a couple of occasions.

#3 Benjamin Kelly – Monstered his direct opponent in the ruck and easily won the share of the hitouts. He showed off quick hands to dish the ball off to his midfielders but mainly impressed with his physicality.

#7 Zane Barzen – Showed off his impressive vertical leap by taking mark of the day in the first half. Brazen kicked three goals in a minute, (yes, you read that correctly) and shined today as one of Murray’s most dangerous forwards.

#8 Jacob Koschitzke – Read the fight of the ball excellently in defence, saving the day on a few occasions by repelling the Rebels’ entries forward.

#18 Hudson Garoni – Did not find much of the ball but did show potential taking two strong overhead marks.

#19 Will Donaghey – Showed off his flexibility today rotating between defence and midfield, and he accumulated the ball with ease.

#21 Doulton Langlands – Showed poise coming off half back and was one of Murray’s best. He took a number of intercept marks in the defensive 50 and was a partner in crime with Samuel Beasley.

#27 Harrison Jones – Started off slow in the first half but was monumental in the third and fourth quarters to orchestrate the second half smashing. Jones showed a combination of toughness and class around stoppages, and appeared to be a real leader for Murray. Kicked a great goal from 40m out too.

#42 Samuel Beasley – Was terrific rebounding the ball out of defence. Demanded the ball and didn’t let anyone down as he showed his proficiency by foot. Beasley also showed a gritty determination with one percenters and spoils in the backline.

Inside presence for Vic Country U18 squad

BIG bodied inside midfielders will headline the top-end talent in the 2017 Victoria Country squad at the National AFL Under 18s Championships.

The team is filled with some of the draft crop’s top inside midfielders led by Dandenong Stingrays’ Luke Davies-Uniacke who will be in the battle for the number one draft pick at the end of the season. Along with Davies-Uniacke, Geelong Falcons’ pair James Worpel and Cassidy Parish will ensure Country has an advantage at the stoppages, as well Stingrays’ Hunter Clark. Parish himself had 30 disposals in Sunday’s Vic Country trial game and will be a key cog to their strong midfield.

Vic Country U18 Trial Scouting Notes

To add a touch of class is Bendigo Pioneers’ pair Lochie O’Brien and Paddy Dow, while Falcon Matthew Ling will provide some speed and dash coming out of defence. There should be no shortage of Stingrays moving across the ground with bookends Tom De Koning and Oscar Clavarino to pull on the ‘Big V’.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels’ high-flyer Jordan Johnston is sure to create some excitement over the course of the championships, while Gippsland pair Aidan Quigley and Changkuoth Jiath are those the most highly rated from the far east of the state. Up north, Murray Bushrangers’ defenders Jordon Butts and Ben Paton will provide good rebound for the Country side.

Vic Country have strong inside midfielders, a variety of forwards and good smaller defenders, with only a deficiency at key position defense – but with Clavarino being the top key defender in the draft, they should have no issues taking the opposition’s best forward.

Vic Country will be co-captained by James Worpel and Oscar Clavarino 

Country commences its campaign against the Allies in Blacktown on Sunday June 11 from 12.30pm.


1KaneFarrell17/03/199918072Bendigo PioneersCastlemaine
2SamuelWalsh2/07/200018268Geelong FalconsSt Josephs
3JyeCaldwell28/09/200018178Bendigo PioneersGolden Square / Geelong Grammar
4GryanMiers30/03/199917773Geelong FalconsGrovedale
5BenPaton19/10/199818578Murray BushrangersNorth Albury
6AidanQuigley7/05/199918372Gipplsand PowerYinnar
7HarryBenson12/06/199918072Geelong FalconsSt Marys
8LochieO’Brien18/09/199918475Bendigo PioneersSouth Mildura / Geelong Grammar
9LukeDavies-Uniacke8/06/199918785Dandenong StingraysRye / Haileybury College
10BrentDaniels9/03/199917270Bendigo PioneersNyah Nyah West United / Geelong Grammar
11LaithamVandermeer3/02/199918073Murray BushrangersMooroopna / Xavier College
12EdwardMcHenry13/07/200017667Geelong FalconsBarwon Heads / Geelong College
13EthanFloyd15/07/199917970Geelong FalconsColac
14CallanWellings20/02/199818171GWV RebelsTrentham
15PaddyDow16/10/199918478Bendigo PioneersSwan Hill / Geelong Grammar
16DavidHandley1/09/199918176Geelong FalconsGeelong West Giants
17ZaneBarzen25/08/200019176Murray BushrangersShepparton United
18BaileyHenderson20/10/199918875Bendigo PioneersStrathfieldsaye
19MatthewLing21/04/199918274Geelong FalconsSt Marys
20TomDe Koning16/07/199920092Dandenong StingraysMornington
21HunterClark26/03/199918679Dandenong StingraysMornington
22JordonButts31/12/199919580Murray BushrangersShepparton
23CooperStephens21/05/199918072Geelong FalconsColac
24SeanMasterson23/08/199819278Gipplsand PowerEllinbank
25OscarClavarino22/05/199919586Dandenong StingraysBerwick / Haileybury College
26AngusSchumacher16/03/199918976Bendigo PioneersStrathfieldsaye
27HarrisonJones15/03/199918379Murray BushrangersWodonga Bulldogs
28JamesWorpel24/01/199918584Geelong FalconsBell Park
29BaileyWilliams17/04/200019891Dandenong StingraysCrip Point
30JordanJohnston9/09/199918476GWV RebelsNorth Ballarat
31SamFletcher27/01/200018877Dandenong StingraysRed Hill
32CassidyParish4/05/199919084Geelong FalconsWinchelseas
33ChangkuothJiath13/06/199918574Gipplsand PowerMorwell / Xavier College
34ThomasBoyd29/01/199919175Murray BushrangersPicola United
35TomMcCartin30/12/199919286Geelong FalconsSt Josephs
36CodyHenness7/02/199919388Gippsland PowerSale
37JoshuaJaska26/02/199819376Geelong FalconsAnglesea
38LloydMeek22/04/1998202104GWV RebelsSMW Rovers
39HudsonGaroni14/01/200019392Murray BushrangersWodonga Bulldogs
40JulianPatterson14/05/199820381Gipplsand PowerLeongatha
41AaronDarling24/01/199917883Dandenong StingraysCrib Point

Looking Ahead TAC Cup Round 4

Bendigo Pioneers (10th, 1-2) vs. Oakleigh Chargers (4th, 2-1)

Both Bendigo and Oakleigh contain some of their top-end talent despite the likes of Lochie O’Brien, Paddy Dow and Jarrod Brander missing due to school football for the Pioneers. The Pioneers’ strength in my opinion lies across the half-back line with all those players – Kane Farrell, Keelin Betson and Darby Henderson pushing up into the midfield as well. Their midfield holds up well, but their medium talls often have to play key position roles, with the likes of Bailey Henderson and Daine Grace both showing signs despite some inconsistencies at times this season.

I think the Pioneers might struggle with height as they have so far this season with Toby Wooller the one to watch up forward for the Chargers. Jack Higgins and Louis Cunningham will provide run through the middle and the likes of Callum Searle and Riley Jones holding up the defensive end. Oakleigh rebounded from a loss to Sandringham in the first round to post two victories and I think they will record one here.

The Chargers win more of the football, dominate the contested possession and lead the Pioneers across most statistical categories. Bendigo’s rebounding has been fairly good this season, as has their disposal by hand, not so much by foot. Bendigo is not the Bendigo of past years and will put up a real fight and at full strength I think the Pioneers would have them. But looking at the teams on paper, Oakleigh is my tip for this game.

Players to watch:

Bendigo: Darby Henderson: 27 disposals (11 contested), four marks, five clearances, three inside 50s, 91 DT points

Oakleigh: Jack Higgins: 30 disposals (14 contested), eight marks, five tackles, three clearances 127 DT points

Dandenong Stingrays (6th, 2-1) vs. Sandringham Dragons (2nd, 3-0)

Since the start of the season I have tipped Dandenong Stingrays for the flag and am not one to jump off the bandwagon. The return of Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning will aid the Stingrays at Frankston Oval, with Sandringham literally unrecognisable from the previous week with a whopping 15 changes – welcome back school football.

Dandenong’s top-end talent and ability to rebound will be too much for Sandringham and hand the Dragons their first loss. Mason De Wit and Bailey Morrish are two of the unlucky ones not to be drafted this season and both Clark and De Koning will be important in the Stingrays’ push going forward. I think they will miss Ali Zijai who has been one of the Stingrays’ best this season, however I’ll look forward to seeing bottom-ager Tom Hogan strut his stuff again after impressing in glimpses. Whether he will fit in the forward line with De Koning and Riley D’Arcy is yet to be seen, but he may end up sharing the ruck duties with Bailey Williams and Tom Roberts.

For the Dragons, Hamish Brayshaw and Quintin Montanaro are a couple of midfielders that will try and maintain continuity in the side, while Hayden McLean will be a tough ask to shut down for the opposition defence, with Will Walker and Max Lohan another couple to keep an eye on in this match.

The Dragons have used the ball well on the outside and have subsequently had low contested ball numbers. They play a high-skilled outside brand of football and the Stingrays would be aiming to try and force them to play more inside in order to counteract their possession play. I think the Stingrays will be too strong and the Dragons will need a few weeks to get used to their mass changes.

Players to watch:

Dandenong: Mason De Wit: 18 disposals, five marks, six rebounds, 77 per cent kicking efficiency, 63 DT points

Sandringham: Quintin Montanaro: 19 disposals, seven marks, six handball receives, 73 per cent kicking efficiency, 71 DT points

Eastern Ranges (7th, 1-2) vs. Geelong Falcons (1st, 3-0)

This match will be the match of the round in my opinion with a number of top-end talents returning to the teams. It will be the spectators’ loss that Adam Cerra will not take the field, but with Sam Hayes and Jaidyn Stephenson running around, there will still be plenty of excitement for the Ranges. Harrison Nolan is a key defender who will no doubt be on AFL clubs radars, while Eastern’s midfield is as good as anyone’s, but I think Geelong have them covered in this game.

James Worpel returns, he joins Cassidy Parish on the inside and that is the best 1-2 inside combination in the league, while Harry Benson, Oscar Brownless and Matthew Ling provide the Falcons with an embarrassment of riches. David Handley will be looking to continue his strong early season form while Tom McCartin is moving forward to follow in brother Paddy’s footsteps. Throw in Ethan Floyd, Gryan Miers and Hayden Elliot and it’s no wonder why this side is undefeated at the top of the table.

I think Geelong will remain at the top of the table after overcoming Eastern in this game. They lead them in most categories except hitouts – which they know they will lose due to height – and then clearances and contested possessions – both of which will change given Worpel is back in and Cerra is out for the Ranges. With the Falcons having a superior kicking efficiency as well, I think the will get the job done here.

Players to watch:

Eastern: Jaidyn Stephenson: 15 disposals (10 contested), six marks (two contested), four inside 50s, eight goals, 96 DT points

Geelong: James Worpel: 19 disposals (nine contested), six tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s, 72 DT points

Western Jets (9th, 1-2) vs. Gippsland Power (8th, 1-2)

It is fair to say these sides have not had the start they would have liked, but after seeing Gippsland live last week, I feel they are better than their results are showing. Aidan Quigley returns this week which is a boost, and the Power has a good balance of talls and smalls around the ground. Will Stephenson just steps up when needed, while Nick Hogan, Callum Porter and Austin Hodge always provide effort over four quarters. Sean Masterson was good at full-forward last week but has been named at full-back to tackle Tristan Xerri this week. I do like him more as a forward, but we will see how that pans out.

For the Jets, they seemed lost without their two stars in Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty. Those two jets – pardon the pun – are the lynchpin of the side and allow others to run on the outside. Xerri is raw but marks the ball at the highest point, while Judah Dundon and Nicholas Stuhldreier will always work hard. Both sides are pretty even across the board, but with Gippsland ahead on both the inside and outside they will have the slight advantage. However their footskills let them down while the Jets have been comparatively good by hand or foot and with good clearance ability, the Jets will always give their forwards first use.

The ability to put out a consistent team each week works in Gippsland’s favour and based on seeing these teams last week, I will be putting my tip the way of the Power who surprised me and I think they will continue this week.

Players to watch:

Western: Nicholas Stuhldreier: 19 disposals (seven contested), four marks, four tackles, four inside 50s, 79 DT points

Gippsland: Nick Hogan: 21 disposals (12 contested), five clearances, five inside 50s, three tackles, 75 DT points

Northern Knights (5th, 2-1) vs. Murray Bushrangers (3rd, 2-1)

In the first of the Sunday games at RAMS Arena, Northern Knights and Murray Bushrangers will be fighting for a top four spot. The Knights have a really strong midfield led by Nick Coffield, Patrick Naish, Marcus Lentini and Jack Petruccelle. The emergence of Max Dreher further this season has allowed Naish to play further up the ground, with Dreher and Ethan Penrith also able to drift through that midfield. Joel Grace booted six goals in their last match so no doubt he will be tightly watched by the Bushrangers defence.

For Murray, they always put out a really competitive team and with a half-back line of Doulton Langlands, Alex Paech and Ben Paton, expect there to be no shortage of drive and rebounding out of the Bushrangers defence. Both teams’ half-back lines are strong and Murray have a number of players that have shown signs including Isaac Wallace, Will Donaghey and Angus Hicks, while Nick Richards will be keen to bounce back from a quieter round three match following two strong performances in the first fortnight.

The Bushrangers’ strengths lie in their foot skills compared to the Knights and their ability to control possession. They do struggle a little on the inside compared to past years, but provide plenty of pressure to the opposition. The Knights have been good around the stoppages and equally frenetic without the ball and I think they will get the job done here. Northern is my tip.

Players to watch:

Northern: Max Dreher: 24 disposals (12 contested), five marks, five tackles, five clearances, three rebounds, 91 DT points

Murray: Ben Paton: 25 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, 98 DT points

Calder Cannons (12th 0-3) vs. GWV Rebels (11th, 0-3)

Two of the smallest teams in the TAC Cup will do battle in the final game of the round with avoiding going winless after four rounds the carrot dangled in front of them. What makes this game more interesting than an 11th versus 12th clash is the fact that both have similar strengths and weaknesses. Both midfields are really solid, with Calder’s Jean-Luc Velissaris, Brad Bernacki and Ben Caluzzi facing Aiden Domic, Cal Wellings and Thomas Berry. I think the Rebels’ midfield bats a little deeper, but Calder does have the better talls. Keep an eye out for Scott Carlin who is skilful by foot and will be one to watch for next season, while Cannons excitement machine Jesse Firebrace is small but packs a punch.

Noah Balta is the star of the show and will be a high draft pick, but he has his work cut out for him against Lloyd Meek who has been one of the in-form ruckmen of the competition. Mitch Podhajski will look to use his “height” of 190cm to lead the Calder defence, while the Rebels will hope that their speed will counteract the Cannons’ height up the other end. It is almost scary to think 200cm Daniel Hanna could line-up on 188cm Jackson Taurau.

I think this match will come down to match conditions. I think in patches the Rebels have shown some signs, but so has Calder. The problem with both these teams is they tend to drift off for a quarter and the opposition boots a bag of goals and it hurts. Given I am very much on the fence I will turn to the stats where the Rebels have been superior by foot, in the hit-outs, clearances and inside 50s. Calder has been much better rebounding, but with the Rebels ahead in more areas, I will select them without a great deal of confidence either way.

Players to watch:

Calder: Jean-Luc Velissaris: 17 disposals (eight contested), four marks, six inside 50s, five tackles, 84 DT points

GWV: Callan Wellings: 28 disposals (15 contested), seven marks, eight clearances, eight tackles, five rebounds, 123 DT points

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 3

ROUND Three of the TAC Cup continued over the weekend and we had scouts at four of the games over the weekend. Read their scouting notes below:

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power (Peter Williams)

Bendigo Pioneers:

#7 Matt Harvey – Was one of the better players early in the game and faded out a little like many of his teammates. Showed great agility inside the contest and can move laterally to weave away from an opponent if required. He laid a fierce, bone crunching tackle in the first term. Harvey earned a goal when he got to the right position in the second quarter.

#10 Brent Daniels – Really got up and going in the second term, booting three of his four goals and helping the Pioneers build that early lead. Has that unique nous around goals and one of those players if you give him an inch, he’ll take a mile. Could have had about six, having hit the post running in at one stage. Took a great one-handed mark inside 50 in the second term and for a 172cm player, he gets enough marks inside 50, including contested, to add a point of difference to the Pioneers forward line. Knows how to get to the right spots which is handy.

#15 Darby Henderson – A strong player in the contest who wins his own ball on the inside and receives on the outside. Really good at winning contests against bigger players and has good hands in close. His second and third efforts are impressive and is constantly on the move. One knock is probably his kicking which at times was hit or miss. Not in the sense of necessarily kicking it to the wrong position, but it looked like he misjudged the weight on his kicking, so for a shorter target it might drop short for example. Overall he’s got a few likeable traits however, and from an inside ball winners point of view there is something there to work on. Will be one to watch their development this season.

#18 Bailey Henderson – Of all those playing on Saturday, Henderson could well be the one to watch from the Pioneers. He is that medium forward who is capable both in the air and at ground level, presents well and has a penetrating kick. Played more as that high half-forward leading up the ground, but took a couple of marks inside 50 and has clean hands when it hits the deck. Contributed to a Matt Harvey goal when he spun out of a tackle and gave off a handball. Did have a number of ineffective kicks throughout the day however.

Gippsland Power:

#2 Nick Hogan – Buzzes around the contest and creates some excitement. Can be hit or miss by foot, but works hard and has good agility. Did try and do a bit too much late in the game in one instant and was pinged for dropping the ball. But he is one who continues to work hard and is always seemingly around the contest.

#7 Will Stephenson – Really like him as a player but the automatic knock will be his height. At 169cm as a player you’re up against it from the word go. In terms of ability however, I think there’s a fair bit to work with. Does not win as much of the ball as other midfielders, but is usually reliable. He has good acceleration and this was highlighted by a great run down tackle in the first quarter. The other knock I would have on him is he looks to occasionally double guess himself and not take the first option. He works hard and if he doesn’t hit a target he kicks it to the right positions. Booted three goals and is incredibly strong above his head for his size. Turned the game on its head and effectively helped drag Gippsland to the win.

#9 Irving Mosquito – Got better as the game went on after a few bloopers in the first half. Has so much X-factor about him with his pace and agility, but just rushes his disposal at times. Needs a bit of a confidence boost by the looks of it, because when he got into space outside of pressure he hit up Sean Masterson for the sealer. I think it is a case of just needing to know he has the pace to burn off opponents and have time to dispose of it. Got obvious skill, but rushing his disposal is what hurts.

#11 Austin Hodge – Really like him as a player. Not as silky as others, but has a build that clubs are looking for at 188cm and 77kg. Had a bit of Dustin Martin in the way he goes about it, fending off opponents and having good balance. He’s god a good, penetrating kick and doesn’t rush under pressure which is really impressive. Needs to find more of the ball and build more consistency to take his game to another level.

#24 Sean Masterson – A defender last season who missed out on being drafted is now up the other end. I personally like him more as a forward because he has that freedom to use what I didn’t realise was such a huge vertical jump. Not the most reliable set shot, missing a couple of relatively straight forward kicks, but he presents a target and does everything you ask of a forward otherwise. I think he has more development to come as a forward and I certainly would like to see him more in the forward line.

#36 Jack Hudson – Buzzed around the forward line and finished with three goals. A medium forward who plays a bit taller than his 180cm, he stepped up through the third term and kicked a great running goal earlier in the match.

Western Jets vs. Sandringham Dragons (Duncan Robertson)

Western Jets:

#12 Connor Thar – Played well through the midfield for the Jets and was one of their best in the first half. Finished with 18 disposals and laid some strong tackles in the centre. Could perhaps clean up his kick but won the ball on both the inside and outside.

#16 Nicholas Stuhldreier – Was the Jets best player right throughout the day and might be a player to watch. He finished with 22 disposals (11 contested) and had eight clearances in the middle of the ground. Is a really nice size and distributes the ball well.

#24 Tom Yorgey – Kicked it well off his left foot playing in the defensive half. Cracks in hard – which did result in three frees against, but played a solid game.

#25 Jack Noonan – Another player who impressed me playing through the midfield. He was willing to kick the ball long inside 50 to look for a target – but he led the clanger count for the Jets by foot. Was hard around the packs and at times was dangerous running forward.

#44 Tristan Xerri – Continues to play solid footy in the ruck and up forward. Created a nice dynamic duo up forward with Brock McGregor. If he can hit the scoreboard and show what he did in 2016, he may be a chance come November.

Sandringham Dragons:

#5 Seb Williams – Looked a class above playing in the attacking half of the ground. Has plenty of speed and took the ball inside 50 on six occasions. Continued to find the ball and was the Dragons’ leading ball winner, his kicking can be hot and cold at times – but he bagged two good goals.

#7 Aaron Trusler – He was very very lively inside 50 and despite his size marks well overhead (seven marks for the day). Reminds me a bit like Ben Ainsworth with his ability overhead despite his height. Kicked an outstanding goal on the run from 50m after taking a few bounces in the centre. Finished with 4.2 and two assists.

#23 Devlin Brereton – The son of Dermott’s best game to date, with plenty of impact up forward. He moves very well and has strong hands – as well as a nice kick on him. Hoping to see more of this throughout the year.

#28 Isaac Morrisby – Bagged four goals early for the Dragons and was a class above in the first half. For me I think he’s more of a third tall at AFL level similar to Jack Darling, but will need to improve his mobility if that will be his role long term.

#32 Ethan Casey – Dominated in the ruck with 30 hitouts until he had to be stretchered off with about 30 seconds remaining in the game. Unfortunately he’s done his ACL, but he can be proud about his efforts on how he played on Saturday.

#33 Howie Persson – Played in defence in more of an attacking role than he has in the past few weeks. Finished with 19 disposals and six tackles. Has plenty of speed to burn.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Geelong Falcons (Peter Williams)

Murray Bushrangers:

#5 Ben Paton – Like the look of him off half-back and seems to have stood up as that leader for the Bushrangers. An over-age player who missed out on being drafted last season, Paton has a penetrating kick and moves well in transition. Will be one of a number of over-age players to keep an eye on this season.

#10 Dave Smith – Kicked an really good goal in the first term, showcasing his speed and work rate to run into goal and have the composure to finish it off.

#34 Thomas Boyd – Looked very good early one-on-one as a key defender. He’s not necessarily the height of a key defender at 190cm, but playing that similar role to Ryan Garthwaite last season, Boyd could that developing tall. He showed he had good closing speed to spoil an opposition player’s attempt at marking.

#35 Floyd Bollinghaus – Played up forward and made his mark in the second quarter, winning a crucial one-on-one against Hayden Elliot and kicking a goal. Missed another chance shortly after, but was up and about and could be a presence down there.

Geelong Falcons:

#7 Harry Benson – Provided a highlight in the opening term when he launched a monster goal from well outside 50. Showed a few good signs as a bottom-ager last year and will likely be an important player in that midfield-forward link-up transition.

#16 David Handley – Really like his attributes as a forward. His smarts were summed up in the first term where he was corralled in on the boundary line about 20m out and while most would tend to have a shot, he pulled the kick and centred it to his teammate rather than blazing away. He will be one to keep an eye on throughout the season.

#30 Oscar Brownless – Geelong fans would not help but get excited about this kid’s prospects. I was surprised to see he’s only the 186cm because he plays taller and is really strong overhead. Just puts power through his set shots and did not stray from the target with a solid set shot routine.

#42 Cassidy Parish – Brother of Darcy and could not be much different in size and features. A big inside bodied midfielder, Parish still has good pace but his best work is at the stoppages. He knows how to use his frame and is another player that aids in the transition from the midfield to the forward line.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Dandenong Stingrays (Peter Williams)

GWV Rebels:

#2 Cal Wellings – Overage player who was unlucky not to be drafted last season. Reads the taps well and oozes leadership. Had some improvements to make this season and has shown he has no problem winning the ball. Really quick hands in traffic, think more scoreboard impact will be the next box to tick for the captain. Stands tall in the middle and has a high work rate.

#4 Aiden Domic – The top prospect from the Rebels this season. Moves well in and out of a contest, goes forward and has an impact and is clean. Kicked the only goal of the first term for the Rebels and will be the one to watch throughout the year.

#23 Lloyd Meek – Thought I’d highlight the over-age ruck as he is someone who really could benefit from this extra year at TAC Cup level. He has that bigger body and just imposes himself in the ruck to give his midfielders first use. Occasionally gives away a few free kicks, but generally will outmuscle his opponent and he has shown to have an impact inside forward 50.

#29 Lachie Wareham – Good strong hands overheads, leads well just lacks that touch of agility for that medium forward. Given the Rebels lack of height he does have to play that full-forward role, but unsure of his versatility to play up the ground. Certainly good overhead though.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#42 Jai Nanscawen – Finished with four goals from 12 disposals and while he was that forward type, showed he has the potential to be lively and make the most of his possessions.

#46 Mason De Wit – He was one of my favourites last season not to be drafted. Has that bigger body and that sense of a prototype midfielder. Just gets his arms free and is a penetrating kick. Doesn’t need a lot of the footy to make an impact, just needs a bit of luck on the injury front.

#54 Tom Hogan – He’s one I like and at 198cm has plenty of development in him. Leads at the ball, takes a good contested grab and kicks through the football. I want to see more of him this season and what role he will play when the Stingrays are at full strength. Played through the ruck and at full-forward and while there’s still some raw work in there, he’s someone that will build with time.

#55 Ali Zijai – A really balanced player who uses the ball well and works hard defensively to lay tackles. On the weekend he had 20 effective disposals (out of 23) and laid nine tackles to be one of the best on ground.

TAC Cup Scouting notes: Round 2

ROUND Two of the TAC Cup continued over the weekend and we had scouts at three of the games over the weekend. Read their scouting notes below:

Murray Bushrangers vs. Gippsland Power (Matt Balmer)

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Jordan Butts – Begun the day at full back, but floated forward later in the game. Moves well for a player over 190cm and looks at his best when he isn’t locking down as a key defender. Took a great mark on the lead in the fourth goal, which resulted in a behind. One to keep an eye on, as he has a very late December birthday.

#10 David Smith – The Richmond next generation academy member showed great speed playing through the midfield. He won the football on both the outside and the inside and got better as the game went on. Has a nice right foot kick – but at times needed to lower the eyes and look for shorter options.

#53 Joe Richards – The 176cm pocket-rocket was one of the Bushrangers best players against the Power. In fluro green boots, Richards showed off his good skills in traffic using the ball well by hand. Richards is also very agile and has good speed and had a great moment in the third quarter when he picked the ball up and shot at goal off his right boot that just scrapped the post in what would’ve been one of the goals of the day.

Gippsland Power:

#2 Nick Hogan – Hogan played well through the midfield and up forward, winning the ball at ease. His solid build in his thighs allow for him to have the strength to move around opponents easily. Hogan plays aggressively and he’s someone that despite his size has presence about him when he plays. Had a quiet finish to the day, but was one of the Power’s best throughout the second and third quarters.

#4 Changkuoth Jiath – An ok game from Jiath playing in the attacking half of the ground. He has a good wingspan which allows for him to play taller than he is (185cm) allowing him to mark the ball overhead inside 50. What was lacking was his momentum in his run up and at times he looks lethargic when kicking for goal, disappointingly resulting in him not making the distance from 35m out when taking a set shot. He missed a few chances on goal throughout the day which he needs to make. Despite this, the ball does spin really well off either foot.

#24 Sean Masterson – Masterson was one I had on my radar late last year and I’m pleased he’s come back as a 19-year-old. He spent more time forward on Saturday, bagging two goals. He has a light frame, but was able to reach above the Murray defenders to clunk marks at ease.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Eastern Ranges (Matt Balmer)

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Charlie Thompson – Another solid game through the midfield for Thompson. He found the ball well on the outside and uses the ball well. Missed a chunk of football in 2016 through injury but is one to certainly note down.

#8 Toby Wooller – Booted four goals for the game, including three in the first half as he was far too good for Harrison Nolan. He marked the ball well all day and was clean when he collected the ball at ground level. It was good to see him push up through the midfield as the game got on, working hard at the stoppages adding another string to his bow.

#12 Noah Answerth – Took an outstanding mark dropping off his opponent running back in front of a Rangers forward in the first quarter, Was moved onto the dangerous Stephenson and was on top until a knee to the back saw him stretchered off after he was in severe pain. Fingers crossed it isn’t too bad as he has been impressive the last two weeks.

#28 Adam Collinson – Came into the team this week and was one of the first players to stand out during the day. With his long socks, he played mostly on the “broadcast” wing finding plenty of the ball. His ball use was impressive, but at times did look a touch slow when covering the ground. One that hopefully improves as the season progresses.

#35 Jack Higgins – A quieter day after collecting 30 disposals last week. Higgins was used in different roles, across half back in the second quarter – before spending more time forward in the third and then the final quarter. Kicked two goals, but disappointingly missed his “Stevie J curve” snap in the final term when the game was on the line. His hands in close at the contest were very good.

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Adam Cerra – Performed well last week, but surprisingly started up forward against the Chargers and was quieter. He continued to tackle hard when he went through the midfield and took a good mark in the third quarter. Hopefully more midfield minutes in the weeks to come, as when he went through there he looked his best.

#6 Ryley Stoddart – Jumped out at me last week and backed up the good signs I saw last week. The left footer used the ball well and found it in the contest. His work rebounding the ball from half back to half forward was good, as was his ability to find targets up field. One to watch.

#16 Jaidyn Stephenson – Kicked four goals for the game and looked dangerous all bar the periods for when Answerth was lined up on him. A really big wingspan allows for him to almost just pluck the ball from above opposition defenders even without a leap in the air. His marks is a strength, but I do question whether he can play deep forward in the years to come. Hoping for more midfield minutes and time up the ground throughout this season.

#21 Joel Garner – Was one of the best players on the ground, having the ball on a string at times. He was good on the inside & outside and used the ball well off his left foot. His handballing in close was exceptional and continued to hit his targets on the run streaming inside 50. Making a case to be a very high draft selection.

#22 Jackson Ross – A quieter day from the raw Ross, but he did have some good moments of the wing that will appeal to clubs. At times he marked the ball well down the line and kicked it well inside 50, but other times he looked a touch out of place unsure where to run. Is only going to get better the more games he plays.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Northern Knights (Peter Bonadio)

Sandringham Dragons:

#4 Ari Sakeson – Was solid in defence in more of a running defender role rather than a lock-down defender role which he played last year. He took some good defensive marks and worked hard offensively to create opportunities for his team mates. Does need to improve his kicking at times, as he can turn the ball over.

#5 Seb Williams – Does all the right things, kicking three goals (including the first two of the game) and assisted a few more. Williams is a good small forward who has good speed and agility inside 50. He also applies a good amount of forward pressure which at times did make the Knights defenders fumble. Did miss one late that he should’ve kicked which would’ve given him four for the afternoon.

#11 Hamish Brayshaw – First game back for the season after missing last week through soreness. The 19-year-old has quick hands in the contest and has a good footy IQ. He uses his voice well around the ground and is a great team player and a natural leader.

#15 Alfie Jarnestrom – One of the Dragons’ best for the day. Has great quick hands in the contest. His vision is very good and it allows for him to use his efficient left foot well. Jarnestrom is a smart player and spreads well from the contest. For someone his size, he tackled well throughout the day.

#28 Isaac Morrisby – Kicked an early goal for the Dragons, but a relatively quiet day. At times he looked moved slow and did take some time to get the ball from his hands to his boot. Morrisby did mark the ball well when the ball came his way.

Northern Knights:

#5 Marcus Lentini – Was arguably Northern’s best for the day. Kicked a great goal late in the final quarter, Lentini is an efficient user of the ball who finds the football at ease. Through the midfield he hunts the ball well and is willing to tackle hard to win it back.

#6 Patrick Naish – His goal on the verge of half time and three-quarter time is what kept Northern in the contest for most of the day. He moves well through the midfield and found a lot of the ball. At times he can turn the ball over and kicking is one area that does need to get more consistent. His pressure was very good but did fade in & out at certain moments.

#7 Jack Petruccelle – Was hardly sighted in the first half, but his bounces down the wing in the third got him going. He has a good tank and is quiet raw – but does lack in his skills at times, where he can be ineffective by both hand and foot.

#8 Nicholas Coffield – Another solid game from Coffield after finishing last week with a bang. Kicked a good goal in the third term but is another that missed a few kicks that he should’ve made.

#19 Christian Farchione – A quiet game from the Marcellin College student. The left footer used the ball well around the ground, but made a mess of a running shot on goal. Sometimes his decision making can be off, but he showed in 2016 he can be a damaging player.

Last chance to perform for 2016 Young Guns

NK - Jake Bradley

Players will have the last chance to put their hand up in the spotlight in front of recruiters in the annual Victorian Young Guns game.

The game will be held at 11.30am on Sunday at Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham and promises to be one that recruiters have marked in their diary.

Strong performances in these games can see players convince clubs to draft them, as Jayden Hunt & Adam Saad did in 2014.

Former Collingwood and Northern Bullants player Frankie Raso & Coburg’s Development League coach Marcus Hastings will coach the two teams.

Nearly 300 players were nominated by AFL, VFL and TAC Cup clubs and the match could well cement names on to AFL clubs’ draft boards.

Carlton Father/Son prospect Jake Bradley is one of four Northern Knights players in the squad. Bradley averaged just under 20 disposals in the TAC Cup this season whilst juggling school football for Carey Grammar. He does remain an outside chance to be drafted after being overlooked last year.

There is also a strong VFL representation with 12 players making the squads, including ‘The Recruit’ contestant Jackson Sketcher. Sketcher was ‘delisted’ on Fox 8’s TV show on Wednesday night and will be looking to boost his case to be drafted after  winning the Morrish Medal back in 2010.

For the Black team, some of the names to watch include St Kevin’s College student Ollie Hanrahan who had a superb season at APS school boy level. Hanrahan is a lively half forward who can push into the midfield and hits the scoreboard. His game in the APS v AGSV rep match was superb and left a few clubs wanting a further look at him.

Talls Sean Masterson and Harrison Bult have both shown signs throughout the year at TAC Cup level that they could be drafted. Masterson’s work at full back for the Gippsland Power has been strong this season. Bult looked most at home playing further up the ground on the wing or half back when playing for PEGS at school football using his strong left foot.

For the Green team, Callan Wellings is certainly one to jot down. Wellings had 30 disposals on the weekend in the North Ballarat Rebels‘ loss to the Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup Semi Final. Wellings kicks the ball well off his right boot and has often been tasked with the kickouts for the Rebels.

After being overlooked in the 2015 draft, Hisham Kerbatieh and Nash Holmes have had good seasons stepping up the VFL. Kerbatieh kicked 21 goals in 18 games whilst Holmes was in the best in seven out of 12 games for the Essendon VFL side.

Brighton Grammar’s Alex Mastromanno is another who isn’t on a TAC Cup or VFL list and will play in the contest. Mastromanno caught the eye of recruiters booting goals for fun in the APS school football competition, whilst also making the step up to VAFA Senior football.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGqfW2edYBM[/embedyt]

Former North Ballarat Rebel Sam Dunstan will run out for the Green team. Dunstan starred in the Vic Country v VAFA U19 rep game on the opposing team as Mastromanno. Dunstan has been named in the best in 10 out of the 16 games he has played in the North Central Football League for Donald.



Final hurdle for finals-bound clubs

DS - Sam Fowler
Dandenong Stingrays small Sam Fowler against NSW/ACT in the 2016 TAC Cup.

FIVE of the six TAC Cup games remaining in the home and away season will have bearing on the finals order.

As it stands the four country teams will earn the double chance and the four metropolitan teams will face off in the elimination rounds.

But, that can change with a couple of results, as could the actual fixtures.

The top five teams are locked into those top five positions, while the sixth to eighth teams will definitely play an elimination final in the first week.

The first game on Saturday takes place at RAMS Arena with the finals-bound Cannons looking to capitalise against the Western Jets.

The Cannons’ percentage is well below that of the Ranges or Chargers, so victory is needed to have any chance of leapfrogging those teams into sixth.

However should one or both of those teams cause upsets, then the Cannons would remain in eighth and a match-up against the Rebels or Dragons would loom.

For the Cannons, they rely on their group as a collective with less top-end talent than other sides, they have a hard working midfield that digs deep defensively and tries to undo the opposition with their ball movement.

With Hayden Blythe, Jackson McDonald and Zach Guthrie among the names to watch, the Cannons might not be a premiership contender, but they have the capability to cause an upset on their day.

For Western Jets, they have had a shaky end to the season, but almost all was forgotten with a sterling win over the Bendigo Pioneers last weekend.

The Jets are missing their star Daniel Venables, while Brodie Romensky and Oscar Junker are a couple of players that would be on recruiters lists.


The Saturday game likely to shape the eight the most will be the North Ballarat Rebels versus Eastern Ranges.

If the Rebels win, then the top four is sealed regardless of Sundays results, however if the Ranges get up, then the door is left ajar for the Sandringham Dragons who are hot favourites to knock off the Bendigo Pioneers.

North Ballarat has a host of talented players, led by Hugh McCluggage, Cedric Cox, Jarrod Berry and Willem Drew in the midfield.

North Ballarat Rebels midfielder Hugh McCluggage in action against Calder Cannons in the 2016 TAC Cup.
North Ballarat Rebels midfielder Hugh McCluggage in action against Calder Cannons in the 2016 TAC Cup.

Throw in capable key position players and crafty smaller players, the Rebels should go in favourites, especially at home.

But at full strength, Eastern will certainly consider themselves a chance given their long list of All-Australians, including Dylan Clarke, Jack Maibaum, Callum Brown and Sam Hayes who are likely to have a say on how far the Ranges go in September.

Another benefit for the Ranges if they win is they will not have to face the Dragons or in fact Rebels in the elimination final, rather taking on either the Calder Cannons or Oakleigh Charges.

The game that impacts both the top four and bottom four of the eight is Oakleigh Chargers versus Murray Bushrangers.

Murray has enough percentage on Sandringham to ensure a top four place regardless of the result, however could slip to fourth if North Ballarat defeats Eastern.

For the Bushrangers, there is no shortage of stars with Todd Marshall, Will Brodie, Zachary Sproule and Ryan Garthwaite among a host of draftable players, and the league’s most northern side has achieved a double chance without the injured Jy Simpkin.

Murray Bushrangers tall Todd Marshall in action for Allies in the Under 18 Championships.
Murray Bushrangers tall Todd Marshall in action for Allies in the Under 18 Championships.

Oakleigh is gunning for its third consecutive flag and fourth in five years when it enters the finals series this year.

It won the 2015 premiership from sixth and is still in with a chance to finish there again.

Should they win, the Chargers will not finish lower than seventh and could well steal sixth if the Ranges lose.

The Chargers have a lot of tall prospects worth keeping an eye on including Patrick KerrJordan Ridley and Nick Larkey, while Sam McLarty is still out injured. Other players such as Taylin Duman and Lachlan Walker have also attracted interest from recruiters.

While eyes will be on most of the games this round, the one game that is unlikely to have any bearing other than pride is the Northern Knights hosting the Gippsland Power.

Both teams have improved as the season has progressed, but neither side will challenge for finals.

The winner is likely to avoid the wooden spoon, while the loser could collect it depending on other results.

Northern have a number of players that have caught the eye this season including Matthew Signorello, Luke Bunker, Lachlan Murphy and Patrick Lipinski.

For the Power, Ben Ainsworth is the leading hope and likely first round prospect, while Sean Masterson is another that earned a state combine invitation.

The first game on the card for Sunday will be the Sandringham Dragons taking on the Bendigo Pioneers.

Both sides had poor losses last week and the Pioneers will be keen to turn it around in their final home and away game.

The Dragons have more on the line however and will need victory for a top four spot.

Sandringham has the advantage of knowing its equation heading into the match with the Rebels and Ranges facing off the day before.

The only other way the Dragons could secure a top four spot is with a 14 per cent differential with the Bushrangers, meaning that not only would Sandringham need a thumping win, but Murray would need to be belted by the Chargers for the Bushrangers to drop out of the four.

Sandringham is the slickest of all teams with Andrew McGrath, Tim Taranto and Oliver Florent among the smoothest movers in the draft crop, while Jack Scrimshaw has attracted a lot of interest from recruiters after missing most of the year through injury.

For the Pioneers, Joe Atley will be the key player to watch, while Kobe Mutch yet again misses as does Kayle Kirby who is playing Richmond VFL.

Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Joe Atley in action for Vic Country in the 2016 Under 18 Championships.
Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Joe Atley in action for Vic Country in the 2016 Under 18 Championships.

It is hard to see the Pioneers really challenging the Dragons given the Dragons’ top-end talent, but they have the power to cause an upset if they are on their game.

The final match of the round is more about determining top spot with Geelong Falcons and Dandenong Stingrays facing off at Simonds Stadium.

Both will finish first and second, it will be a simple equation with the winner claiming the minor premiership.

One side will take on Murray, while the other will meet either the North Ballarat or Sandringham.

The Falcons belted Calder last week and hit the form they are capable of ahead of finals.

Missing Alex Witherden, at least for now, the Falcons have relied on the likes of Jack Henry, Jack Blood, Max Augerinos and Paddy Dowling among others to keep their season running smoothly.

For Dandenong Stingrays, it has a wide variety of draftable players, with Josh Battle, Reece Piper, Sam Fowler and Myles Poholke just to name a few.

If the Stingrays get on top and all their players fire, they are right up there in contention for the flag.

With a round to play, there is still plenty on the line for the TAC Cup clubs.

For the finalists, there will be a week off before finals with the four bottom teams playing at Ikon Park on August 27.