The Sandringham Dragons secured a top four position with a comfortable victory over a flat Northern Knights outfit, who will also participate in the TAC Cup Finals starting this week. While the top four spot no longer brings the advantages of the double chance, it was a confidence boosting win that didn’t truly prove the Dragon’s dominance in the final 45 point margin. After a tight first half, Sandy would kick 4.9 to 0 in the third term to run away to a 34 point three quarter time lead and ultimately the match. The game changer was Hamish Brayshaw, who collected 30 disposals and five goals to produce one of the best individual efforts of the season. Possessing 17 players who earned Draft or State Combine invites, the Dragons always looked too strong on paper and will head into next weekend’s finals campaign as a genuine premiership contender.
Here are the most notable players for the day:
HAMISH BRAYSHAW | SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS | MID/FWD | 09/02/1998 | 187CM | 88KG
In his first TAC Cup match since early May after a long stint of VFL football, Hamish Brayshaw looked a player who had developed considerably in a senior environment. He started forward and had an immediate scoreboard impact, kicking two first quarter goals and winning plenty of ball through the midfield. He bullocked the Knight’s players at the stoppages and was near on impossible to stop one on one inside 50, taking four contested marks. The most pleasing thing was his improved ball use, as he constantly hit targets or kicked to the advantage of his teammates, a noted weakness last year. 30 disposals, 18 contested possessions, eight clearances, 11 tackles and five goals is a day out at any level and was easily the most impressive performance I’ve seen live from Brayshaw.
NATHAN MURPHY | SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS | DEF | 15/12/1999 | 188CM | 84KG
We have a serious prospect on our hands here. The elite cricketer has been shooting up draft boards all year and is no longer considered a roughie. He can play and is even more enticing considering the huge scope he possesses with a December date of birth and the minimal focus he placed on football until now. He can play either end, but patrolled the back half for Sandringham on Saturday. Within the first ten minutes, he had distributed three pin point passes inside 50 and was winning the ball in influential positions. He reads the play well, can intercept and is more than capable overhead. He is a great size at 188cm, but looks to have long limbs that seemingly give a greater reach advantage. It was an impressive 25 disposal performance that will enhance a growing reputation further.
SEB WILLIAMS | SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS | FWD/MID | 07/08/1999 | 179CM | 75KG
Williams is a really underrated player who continues to provide consistent performances for the Dragons. He has tricks both forward and in the midfield, providing a unique edge with his creativity. Inside 50 he has goal sense and elite awareness, often sacrificing the opportunity to score himself by setting up a teammate. He is zippy around the stoppages and is capable of finding space on the offensive side of the contest. He is taller than he looks on the ground at 179cm, and can’t possibly be considered too short to make it at the next level.
GEORDIE NAGLE | SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS | DEF | 11/11/1999 | 185CM | 79KG
Nagle has put together a brilliant TAC Cup season and continues to rack up big numbers in the defensive half for Sandringham. He is the go to player for the Dragon’s behind the ball, regularly on the end of double figure handball receive figures and Saturday was no exception. That doesn’t mean he searches for the cheap ball, as he often gets to positions where he can intercept or defend when required. A State Combine invite was worthy reward for a long period of good form.
WILL WALKER | SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS | MID | 30/03/1999 | 187CM | 80KG
Will Walker just looks more comfortable with every game he plays. With the likes of the Brayshaw brothers and Charlie Constable all in the side, Walker played a slightly more outside role at Ballarat and again proved his flexibility. He was able to get into a bit more space and hit the ball with greater pace, but also show off his agility with impressive sideways movements on occasions. He may also possess one of the best “don’t argues” in the draft pool, as opposition players struggle to lay a hand on him. He has AFL traits, as justified by a Draft Combine invite.
JACKSON HILLE | SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS | DEF | 05/08/1999 | 188CM | 80KG
One of the most underrated prospects in the TAC Cup, mainly due to his limited exposure, but Hille is a player who could surprise some at the drafts. Playing in the defensive half on Saturday, Hille has a great balance of offensive and defensive attributes. He didn’t win much ball early, but made his presence known with two noticeably physical tackles in the first quarter. He started to win far more ball in the second half though, firstly with a strong contested intercept mark, an offensive run through the corridor and a calm moment in traffic where he lifted his arms with seemingly all the time in the world. No surprise to see a State Combine invite at all.
ALEX FEDERICO | NORTHERN KNIGHTS | MID | 26/09/1999 | 184CM | 77KG
Federico was one of the few Knights players who could hold his head high with a four quarter effort. His inside numbers have been huge in recent weeks and he was at it again on Saturday with 14 contested possessions, eight clearances and eight tackles. While his kicking was occasionally rushed and messy, he willed himself to win the footy and tried to set the example. He was the only Knight to gather 20 or more disposals on a day where the side could only muster 240 disposals collectively.
PATRICK NAISH | NORTHERN KNIGHTS | MID/DEF | 15/01/1999 | 180CM | 69KG
The Richmond father/son prospect didn’t have his best day, but showed signs of why he is so highly rated. Starting off half back, he struggled to get into the game early, but got more involved in the second quarter with seven disposals. His kicking was a tad inconsistent in the windy conditions but he still hit some great targets with aggressive decisions. There is certainly improvement in his contested ball, as he went to the stoppages at times in the second half with minimal effect. A lovely set shot goal late in the fourth quarter again showed his class, but he’d be hoping to have a greater impact against Oakleigh on Saturday in the do or die clash.
Other Notable Performances:
Andrew Brayshaw (SD), Charlie Constable (SD), Joel Crocker (SD), Joel Amartey (SD), Christian Farchione (NK), Jamison Shea (NK), Tom McKenzie (NK).