By Ben Madden and Dan Batten
Part of what makes the TAC Cup so exciting is the upset potential, and this week saw that in full force. The Western Jets got up against a rampaging Oakleigh Chargers in a close game, and the Jets will be hoping to have a strong finish to the year. Meanwhile, the Calder Cannons continue to rise up the ladder, sitting in 9th now after a win against the Northern Knights. An intriguing round, and one that could have ramifications for the rest of the year, as the Chargers have let their game lead slip.
Geelong Falcons and Oakleigh Chargers both sit two games clear of the rest of the pack, with 12 wins each. The ladder looks fairly set in terms of who will make it, with 6th placed Eastern Ranges a game and a half ahead of 7th placed Northern Knights, but where each team finishes is still well up for grabs.
Western Jets (8.15.63) defeated Oakleigh Chargers (8.9.57) – Saturday 5th, Burbank Oval
Goal Kickers: C. Rayner 2, T. Kopa, T. Yorgey, L. Fogarty, S. Radovanovic, B. Graham, X. O’Halloran
Best Players: C. Rayner, L. Hitch, B. Khamis, L. Fogarty, M. Young, J. Rice
Goal Kickers: D. Scala 3, X. O’Neill, J. Higgins, A. Bosenavulagi, L. Westwood, M. Day
Best Players: J. Roughsedge, D. Williams, M. Bennett, U. Chol
I wrote in last week’s wrap that the Oakleigh Chargers were likely to remain on top of the ladder with the last placed Western Jets to come. Well… it was not to be. The TAC Cup took a leaf out of this AFL season’s book, with the Jets triumphing over the Chargers by six points at Burbank Oval. Western kicked three goals to one in the last quarter in what was one of the upsets of the season to date.
Likely number one pick Cam Rayner was named best afield for the Jets, finishing with 23 disposals, eight clearances, eight inside 50s, 11 tackles and two majors. Huge. Rayner was the only Jet to eclipse 20 disposals with a very even spread for the victors (9 players recording between 16-18 disposals) but Luke Hitch (18 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Buku Khamis (17 disposals, 11 contested possessions, three contested marks) were also influential. Jack Roughsedge led the way for Oakleigh collecting 28 disposals, 20 contested possessions and six clearances while the dangerous Jack Higgins had 27 himself to go with seven clearances and a goal. Daniel Scala was the leading goal-scorer on the ground with a three goal return from his 10 touches. – Dan Batten
Gippsland Power (6.12.48) defeated by Geelong Falcons (17.10.112) – Saturday 5th August, Morwell Recreation Reserve
Goal Kickers: B. Beck 2, X. Duursma, S. Flanders, W. Stephenson, A. Quigley
Best Players: X. Duursma, N. Hogan, L. Carroll, S. Flanders, C. Porter, C. Serong
Goal Kickers: G. Miers 6, A. Garner 3, F. O’Gorman 3, D. Handley 2, L. Noble 2, T. McCartin
Best Players: S. Walsh, G. Miers, B. Schlensog, T. McCartin, D. Handley, J. Jaska
The Falcons sit at the top of the ladder, and with performances like this, it’s not hard to see why. Going up against the Power away from home, the Falcons won the first quarter 38-1 and didn’t look back, running out 64 point winners. Anyone running into the Falcons come finals will be quivering in their boots.
For the Power, Xavier Duursma was a rare highlight, with 15 touches and a goal, including 10 contested possessions. For the Falcons, Gryan Miers was everywhere, kicking six goals and giving the opposition nightmares. Having kicked 35 goals this year, teams will be putting even more focus into him in the coming weeks. – Ben Madden
Eastern Ranges (9.13.67) defeated Sandringham Dragons (8.12.60) – Sunday 6th August, Box Hill City Oval
Goal Kickers: S. Hayes 2, K. Quirk 2, J. Lynch, M. Doreian, P. Bruzzese, R. Stoddart, J. Rossiter
Best Players: H. Nolan, J. Stephenson, R. Stoddart, J. Burleigh, S. Hayes, K. Stainthorpe
Goal Kickers: A. Richards 3, J. Howard 2, A. Trusler 2, J. Amartey
Best Players: W. Walker, E. Newman, A. Richards, S. Sofronidis, H. Mclean, C. Jones
Eastern Ranges took out a close contest for the second consecutive week, knocking off Sandringham by seven points at home. The two sides were locked on 23 apiece at half-time, with a three goal to two third quarter being the difference before an even-handed last stanza. The win sees the Ranges just two games out of the top four, while the Dragons sit in fourth place by just .12% behind Murray.
While the third quarter was what separated the two sides on the scoreboard, it was top-10 prospect Jaidyn Stephenson who was the difference overall. The pacey wingman had a game-high 39 disposals (including a whopping 29 kicks), 22 contested possessions and rammed the ball inside 50 on nine occasions. The only knock on his game was his kicking efficiency, going at just 45% for the match. Ryley Stoddart also fared well for the Ranges collecting 29 touches (25 kicks), clunking 11 marks (two contested) but was wasteful in front of goal with 1.4. For the Dragons, Will Walker continued his impressive form (31 disposals, nine marks, seven inside 50s) while teammates Geordie Nagle (31 disposals, seven tackles) and Quintin Montanaro (30 disposals, eight tackles) also eclipsed the 30 disposal mark. The ruck battle was dominated by Ranges giant Sam Hayes (20 disposals, 24 hit-outs, two goals, seven clearances) and Sandy’s Alastair Richards booted three goals from his 13 disposals. – Dan Batten
Dandenong Stingrays (20.18.138) defeated Bendigo Pioneers (7.7.49) – Saturday 5th August, Shepley Oval
Goal Kickers: R. D’Arcy 4, F. Bayne 3, J. Nanscawen 2, F. Mitropoulos 2, H. Clark 2, J. Plumridge 2, T. Murphy 2, B. Williams, M. Cotter, J. Barker
Best Players: H. Clark, R. D”Arcy, J. Taylor, R. Bowman, B. Williams, J. Bateman
Goal Kickers: B. Kemp, A. Schumacher, L. Fitzgerald, J. Schischka, A. Byrne, L. Davis, K. Farrell
Best Players: M. Kemp, A. Schumacher, D. Henderson, R. Mutch, B. Kemp, K. Farrell
There are not many teams that could come back from 51 points at quarter time, and that’s the situation that the Pioneers found themselves in on the weekend. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, they couldn’t get themselves back in the game, eventually losing by 89 points. The Stingrays will be glad for the percentage-booster going into the business end of the season.
For the Stingrays, it was hard to pick a standout, but Hunter Clark continues his great season with a best on ground performance. Hard to go past someone with two goals and 32 touches. For the Pioneers, it was also hard to pick a standout, because no-one shone. Darby Henderson had 35 touches though, and will continue to turn the heads of a few scouts. – Ben Madden
Northern Knights (6.10.46) defeated by Calder Cannons (7.10.52) – Saturday 5th August, Preston City Oval
Goal Kickers: J. Shea 3, B. Gillard 2, L. Sinclair
Best Players: N. Coffield, M. Baker, E. Penrith, K. Nasser, S. Binion, M. Andrews
Goal Kickers: B. Huggard 2, J. Bytel 2, N. Balta, J. Riccardi, J. Firebrace
Best Players: L. Cavallaro, B. Bernacki, J. Firebrace, A. Coote, J. Bytel, I. Moussa
The Knights were on the end of another close loss, this time at the hands of the Cannons by just six points. Northern led by a solitary point at three quarter time and booted the first goal of the last. Cannon (fitting here) Noah Balta responded immediately with a bomb from the centre-square to bring it back to a one-point deficit. The scores remained deadlocked in the final minutes, before a clutch set shot goal from Jesse Firebrace gave the Cannons the lead in the dying moments.
Mitch Andrews led the disposal count with 26 disposals, while Knights teammates Sam Binion (25 disposals, 14 contested possessions, seven clearances) and Nick Coffield (24 touches, six rebound 50s) also fared well. Ben Caluzzi was a driving force for the Cannons finishing with 24 touches, seven clearances and a game-high 10 inside 50s, while Jack Bytel (24 disposals, two goals) was crucial in the low scoring contest. – Dan Batten
Murray Bushrangers (13.10.88) defeated by Greater Western Victoria Rebels (14.10.94) – Sunday 6th August, Ikon Park
Goal Kickers: D. Johnston 4, J. Lane 2, J. Bradshaw, K. Clarke, E. Adams, N. Amery, P. Warner, J. Butts, D. Langlands
Best Players: D. Langlands, A. Hicks, W. Donaghey, J. Koschitzke, N. Murray, D. Johnston
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Goal Kickers: A. Domic 4, K. Gray 2, A. Shepherd 2, L. Dawson, I. Johnson, J. Johnston, T. Reed, J. Chatfield, C. Wellings
Best Players: A. Domic, C. Wellings, A. Shepherd, F. Appleby, M. Lloyd, J. Johnston
At 3 quarter time, this game was dead and buried. Up by 43 points, the Bushrangers thought they were home, and with very good reason. The Rebels then found a second wind, and played out a 51-3 last quarter to snatch an unbelievable victory, and the two teams played out one of the games of the season.
For the Rebels, Aiden Domic kicked four goals and had 28 touches, and was a monster in the midfield. His last quarter in particular was huge, with 10 touches (including nine kicks) and three goals in the first few minutes. For the Bushrangers, Angus Hicks had 23 touches and three score assists. The Bushrangers will be rueing this one, and for Rebels fans, the party may not have stopped yet. – Ben Madden