By Ben Madden and Dan Batten
With one round to go, 7 of the teams making finals are locked in, with Geelong Falcons and Oakleigh Chargers both sitting two games clear of the rest of the competition (however, 0.87% is all that separates them, so anything could happen). Dandenong Stingrays sit 3rd, and that cannot change, so will look to take it easy before trying to topple the imperious Falcons and Chargers in the finals. Gippsland Power sit in 8th, a game clear of Calder Cannons, with 8% separating the two teams. The Cannons will be hoping for a huge win, and the Knights to lose by a large margin. This weekend will see a lot of players attempting to cement their finals spot. For the others, it will be one last chance to show their stuff in front of recruiters.
Sandringham Dragons (10.12.72) defeated by Dandenong Ranges (11.15.81)
Goal Kickers: A. Trusler 3, J. Gorman 2, C. Constable, A. Styles, S. Williams, A. Brayshaw, A. Jarnestrom
Best Players: A. Styles, E. Newman, A. Brayshaw, N. Murphy, S. Williams, J. Amartey
Goal Kickers: J. Nanscawen 2, H. Clark 2, A. Bonar, R. Bowman, M. Riordan, A. Young, L. Davies – Uniacke, W. Hamill, B. Williams
Best Players: H. Clark, M. DeWit, B. Morrish, L. Davies – Uniacke, T. Freeman, O. Clavarino
The Stingrays avoided a big scare from the Dragons, with the Dragons making a big 3rd quarter surge, but just falling short. Having lead by 29 at the main break, the Stingrays went into the last quarter with a four point buffer, held on for a nerve-wracking, but confidence-boosting win.
Hunter Clark was everywhere for the Stingrays, with 29 touches, six marks and two goals seeing him deservedly judged best on ground. First round prospect Luke Davies-Uniacke had 21 touches, six tackles and a goal and continued to impress selectors across the country.
For the Dragons, Sebastian Williams had 30 touches and a goal, as well as eight marks. With 12 touches in the 3rd quarter, Williams was a large part of the turnaround, and will take confidence into the finals. Andrew Brayshaw had 27 touches and a goal, including 13 contested possessions, and is another that will be looking towards the finals as a chance to shine.
Gippsland Power 9.13.67 defeated Western Jets 6.15.51
Goal Kickers: W. Stephenson 3, A. Hodge 2, C. Henness, I. Mosquito, S. Flanders, C. Serong
Best Players: A. Quigley, N. Hogan, C. Porter, B. Motton, W. Stephenson, K. Drew
Goal Kickers: Z. Butters 2, M. Young, L. Fogarty, A. Bouris, C. Thar
Best Players: L. Fogarty, J. Mould, S. Radovanovic, Z. Butters, B. Khamis, A. Bouris
Gippsland maintained their spot in the eight with a crucial victory over Western Jets to the tune of 16 points. A poor first half saw the Power trailing by two goals at half-time and the same margin at the end of the third, but an inspired final quarter saw them prevail. The Jets conceded five goals to one in the last quarter, with their inaccurate kicking proving costly.
For both sides, it was an even spread all-round with Lachie Fogarty topping the disposal tally with 22 disposals and 11 tackles. Will Stephenson was named as the Power’s best, claiming 18 disposals and finishing with three goals. Possible number one pick Cam Rayner (18 disposals, 12 contested possessions) had a quieter day at the office compared to his past fortnight.
Murray Bushrangers (13.11.89) defeated by Northern Knights (18.20.128)
Goal Kickers: R. Bruce 2, A. Paech 2, D. Langlands 2, J. Lane 2, N. Oakes, Z. Barzen, J. Wilson, W. Donaghey, J. Richards
Best Players: L. Vandermeer, J. Richards, D. Langlands, J. Butts, N. Oakes, W. Donaghey
Goal Kickers: E. Penrith 4, P. Naish 3, J. Naylor 2, N. Coffield 2, A. Federico 2, J. Petruccelle, T. McKenzie, J. Shea, M. Lentini, P. Della Rocca
Best Players: A. Federico, M. Harman, E. Penrith, T. McKenzie, M. Dreher, J. Petruccelle
In somewhat of an upset, the Knights got up comfortably over the Bushrangers in a win that saw the Knights lock in their finals spot. This was off the back of another dominant performance from Patrick Naish, who continues to have Richmond fans salivating, kicking three goals and having 25 touches.
It was a game that saw the Knights leading at every change, with a 23 point lead at half time turning into a 39 point margin at the end of the game. The Knights will carry a lot of confidence from this win going into the finals.
As well as Naish, Alex Federico had a day to remember, with 44 touches and two goals. Incredibly, 29 of those were contested, and he also had 15 clearances. Other teams will be sure to keep an eye on him come finals.
Oakleigh Chargers 21.17.143 defeated Bendigo Pioneers 8.7.55
Goal Kickers: J. Higgins 7, C. Thompson 5, T. Wooller 4, C. Whitehead 2, L. Stacker, L. Bugeja, D. Stanford
Best Players: J. Higgins, E. Richards, C. Thompson, J. Roughsedge, R. Jones, M. Warren
Goal Kickers: A. Byrne 4, B. Kemp 2, L. Davis, B. Daniels
Best Players: J. Atley, K. Farrell, B. Henderson, B. Daniels, A. Byrne, L. O’Brien
Oakleigh got themselves within 1% of the first-placed Falcons with a thumping 88 point win over the Pioneers on Saturday afternoon. A commanding nine goal-to-two opening quarter ultimately set up the win, with many Chargers having a day out. On the other side of the ledger, the Pioneers are now the unfortunate owners of the TAC Cup wooden spoon.
We have seen top-10 prospect Jack Higgins play through the midfield for Oakleigh, but he spent his time as a pure forward on Saturday to great effect. Higgins put on a best on ground display booting seven goals from 13 disposals – in just over three quarters of footy, until a shoulder complaint ended his day. Charlie Thompson was certainly amongst the best as well, kicking five goals to go with a lazy 43 touches of the Sherrin. Toby Wooler (11 disposals, 4.4) was also prolific on the scoreboard and Matthew King (35 disposals) and Jack Roughsedge (28 disposals, six clearances) had no trouble finding the footy either. Angus Byrne booted four of the Pioneer’s eight majors.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels (9.12.66) defeated by Calder Cannons (13.9.87)
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Goal Kickers: T. Watts 2, D. Cox 2, E. Delany, J. Chatfield, A. Domic, S. Carlin, C. Wellings
Best Players: C. Wellings, J. Johnston, F. Appleby, L. Meek, D. Cox, M. Bishop
Goal Kickers: N. Balta 3, A. Tilley 3, B. Caluzzi 3, J. Firebrace 2, I. Moussa, J. Bytel
Best Players: B. Bernacki, J. Bytel, J. Riccardi, B. Caluzzi, R. West, A. Tilley
The Cannons kept their tiny finals hope alive with a gutsy away win over the GWV Rebels. The game was neck and neck right up until the siren, with three points separating the teams at the final break, before the Cannons kicked four goals to one in the final quarter. The Rebels aren’t in the finals hunt, but will be looking to finish the season with a win to boost confidence amongst the bottom agers.
The win was built off the back of three goals from Noah Balta, who continues to turn heads as a forward option in the draft. As well as kicking three, he had eight contested possessions, six tackles and eight hitouts, and was stiff to miss out on the best. The day belonged to Brad Bernacki, however, with 40 touches and nine rebound 50s. He’s in some red-hot form, with back to back best on grounds, and will be on many watchlists.
The Cannons midfielders didn’t have it all their own way, with Callan Wellings having 40 touches and a goal, and had eight clearances (including four centre clearances). Lloyd Meek had a solid day in the ruck, with 18 touches and 18 hitouts.
Geelong Falcons 11.16.82 defeated Eastern Ranges 3.6.24
Goal Kickers: S. Walsh 3, G. Miers 2, A. Garner 2, H. Benson 2, C. Parish, E. McHenry
Best Players: C. Parish, S. Walsh, C. Stephens, T. McCartin, A. Garner, E. McHenry
Goal Kickers: T. Mynott 2, D. Moore
Best Players: J. Stephenson, D. Moore, T. Mynott, X. Fry, T. Edwards, C. Hirs
Geelong knew the Chargers had gotten a significant percentage boost and responded accordingly with a 58 point win over Eastern. The game remained fairly even at half-time, but the Falcons turned the screws in the second half to keep Ranges to just four behinds, while they piled on another six goals. They remain less than 1% ahead of the Chargers (.87% to be exact), while the Ranges appear to be locked in at 6th.
Impressive bottom-ager Sam Walsh continues to light up the stats sheet, finishing with 30 disposals and three goals for the Falcons. Cassidy Parish (28 disposals, seven clearances) improved his standing in the eyes of recruiters and Jaidyn Stephenson (25 disposals, seven inside 50s) led the way for the Ranges. Adam Garner was a dangerous presence up forward, clunking eight marks (two contested) and booting 2.3