Victoria Park had a buzz about it despite the torrid conditions, with scouts at the ready to watch the last double header of the home-and-away season. In the penultimate match, the Falcons scraped over the line against a determined Stingrays outfit, winning the scrappy affair by eight points. Geelong kept Dandy in it with woeful kicking (6.16) but it was a 3.5-to-0.2 third quarter that was the difference. The Stingrays kicked a few consolation goals in the last but it was too little, too late for them. Unfortunately, the win wasn’t enough for Geelong to hold onto top spot, with Oakleigh overtaking them by 2%.
Melbourne put on typical Melbourne weather for this one, with unpredictable wind, then sun, then rain, then sun, etc. It absolutely bucketed down at half- time – just as I was going to get something to eat from the food stand, #stiff – then stopped raining as soon as the players ran onto the ground for the second half. From then on the game actually opened up more, with eight goals in the second half compared to just four in the first.
Here are some of the names who impressed on the day:
Oscar Clavarino | Tall Defender | Dandenong |195cm | 86kg
Was easily the best for the Stingrays and probably the best man on the ground. Clavarino was a pillar in defence. Took a number of intercept marks – several of those contested – using his Inspector Gadget arms to great effect. Showed a fantastic burst of speed against his opponents on the lead and an athletic leap in the air to spoil his opponents. Geelong’s tall forwards had very little impact on the contest and much of that was due to Clavarino’s work. Kicking let him down at times, but this performance will certainly stick in the minds of scouts.
Sam Walsh | Midfielder | Geelong | 182cm | 68kg
Sam Walsh will be a name we become a lot more familiar with next year and perhaps into the future. The bottom-ager is a ball-magnet, and he led all comers on Sunday by quite a margin with 32 disposals. His third quarter, in particular, was massive, and it is no coincidence Geelong thrived during this quarter. Work at the coalface was impressive, especially considering he weighs in at just 68kg. Plenty to build on next year and one who is definitely in top-10 calculations for 2018.
Aiden Bonar | Forward/Midfielder | Dandenong | 190cm | 89kg
Scouts would describe the game of this lad as Bonar-riffic. Bonar had a major impact on the contest – whether it was a high mark, a tackle or a long raking kick, you took notice. There is no doubting where Bonar has spent his time on the sidelines, because he is an absolute specimen. Spent extended stints in the midfield on Sunday and looked at home, using his large frame to get to the footy. Showed fantastic athleticism on a couple of occasions launching at the footy in the air then getting to his feet in a blink of an eye to attack the ball on the ground. Very versatile and looks to be a major bolter considering he has only recently returned from injury.
Cassidy Parish | Inside Midfielder | Geelong | 190cm | 84kg
A stock-standard Cassidy Parish game. Did his best work in tight dishing off with quick hands, twisting his way through congestion with ease. Followed up well in stoppage situations and worked hard on the outside to provide an option. Got a lot of ball early when the conditions were windy with plenty of stoppages for him to feast on. Again his kicking was an issue, and it is this aspect of his game that will need to be tidied up. But as we have seen with Matt Priddis and more recently, Clayton Oliver, extractors have thrived in the big league.
Thomas Murphy | Midfielder | Dandenong | 187cm | 80kg
Someone needed to step up in the absence of Davies-Uniacke and Clark and Murphy did just that. He didn’t need those flashy fluoro green boots to stand out either, taking a miraculous hanger during the third quarter. Showed his class in traffic with a goose step before launching a behind from 50m on the run in the first half. Looked composed with ball in hand and tackled hard throughout the day.
David Handley | Small forward | Geelong | 181cm | 76kg
Handley created plenty of opportunities for himself but was wasteful, kicking 1.4 for the match. Got into the right positions up forward and looked threatening all day, both on the ground and as a leading option. At one point he gave his Falcon teammate a third degree burn when he marked and turned straight around, not seeing him open screaming for the ball. Like what always happens in that situation, he missed the set shot. Displayed his long right boot with a long shot on goal off a couple of steps that went through for a behind.
James Worpel | Inside Midfielder | Geelong | 185cm | 84kg
Struggled to get into it for the majority of proceedings. Worpel was noticeably frustrated at stages in the first half, getting into scuffles with the opposition. Kicked a ripping snap stoppage goal on his non-preferred left boot which gave him confidence during the third quarter, but faded out late. He may not have been as busy with ball in hand, but his repeat tackling efforts at stoppages were significant. It was a down performance from the midfielder who was named as skipper in the TAC Cup team of the year. Expect him to stand up during finals.
Riley D’Arcy | Tall Forward | Dandenong |189cm | 90kg
D’Arcy didn’t get a lot of the footy but he had a couple of eye-catching moments on a day unsuited to key forwards. During the second quarter the tall forward pushed up the ground and laid two magnificent tackles on the half-back flank, and was unlucky not to be rewarded for his work. Later in the quarter he out-bodied his opponent 1-on-1 at ground level with strength and kicked a close range goal, showing good ground-ball skills for his size. Missed a couple of gettable opportunities – finishing with 1.2 – but overall it was an encouraging effort considering the average delivery he received.
Other notable performers: Harry Benson (GF), Jack Henderson (GF), Finlay Bayne (DS), Mason DeWit (DS), Cooper Stephens (GF)