by Ben Madden & Dan Batten
The home-and-away season is done and dusted, but the competition is just beginning with four do-or-die clashes this weekend. Oakleigh have ended the season on top of table by just 2% over the Geelong Falcons. There wasn’t much other movement besides Gippsland who jumped into 7th position after their win. The TAC Cup’s new finals system is an interesting initiative for the competition, with 1st playing 8th, 2nd playing 7th, 3rd playing 6th and 4th playing 5th. It is a good call from the league considering sides are rarely at full strength with school footy and national carnivals on throughout the season.
As always, there was no shortage of talent on display in Round 18. Here are the players that lit up the stats sheet on the weekend:
Bendigo Pioneers (8.8.56) defeated by Greater Western Victoria Rebels (12.11.83)
Goal Kickers: K. Farrell, L. O’Brien, C. Sheahan, L. Wallace, B. Daniels, L. Fitzgerald, L. Davis, J. Brander
Best Players: L. O’Brien, B. Daniels, K. Farrell, D. Henderson, B. Kemp, M. Kemp
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Goal Kickers: D. Cox 2, K. Gray, J. Johnston, T. Watts, J. Chatfield, C. Henson, L. Bull, A. Shepherd, C. Wellings, A. Domic, E. Delany
Best Players: A. Domic, M. Lloyd, J. Johnston, C. Wellings, D. Cox, F. Appleby
In a bottom of the table clash, the Rebels came away with a rare away win against the favoured Pioneers. The Rebels got out to a 33 point lead at quarter time and didn’t look back, sewing up the win with a huge 3rd quarter. While the Rebels will be disappointed with their season overall, they’ll be glad to have finished strong.
For the Pioneers, Lochie O’Brien had 26 touches, a goal, seven marks and eight tackles. Darby Henderson also had a big day out in the midfield, with 27 disposals, five rebound 50s, eight tackles and four clearances.
For the Rebels, Aiden Domic was best on ground, with 24 disposals, a goal and five marks. He also had 13 handball receives, and was extremely influential in the middle of the ground. Callan Wellings was also big, with 28 disposals, six marks, 10 tackles, six clearances and a goal to help lift his team over the line. – Ben Madden
Calder Cannons (10.5.65) defeated by Western Jets (13.8.86)
Goal Kickers: J. Velissaris 7, B. Caluzzi, D. Landt, N. Balta
Best Players: J. Velissaris, M. Fletcher, C. Taylor, B. Huggard, N. Balta, S. Skidmore
Goal Kickers: L. Fogarty 3, A. Bouris 2, T. Xerri 2, N. Stuhldreier, X. O”Halloran, B. Souter, Z. Butters, T. Rudic, J. Rice
Best Players: L. Fogarty, T. Xerri, A. Bouris, N. Stuhldreier, J. Mould, X. O”Halloran
It’s not often that you see someone kick seven out of their team’s 10 goals, but that’s exactly what happened to Jean-Luc Velissaris on the weekend. The game was back and forth, with the Cannons leading at the first and last break, but a 35-8 last quarter from the Jets saw them seal the win to finish 10th.
For the Cannons, the aforementioned Velissaris kicked seven, but only had two marks in an impressive crumbing performance. Velissaris has now kicked 15 for the year, with half that coming in this game. Noah Balta had 19 disposals, five marks, seven tackles and 14 hitouts in a very rounded performance.
For the Jets, Lachlan Fogarty was a deserved best on ground with three goals, 24 disposals and a staggering 15 tackles, and will definitely be one to watch for come draft time. Tristan Xerri had 25 disposals, two goals and 21 hitouts, with the ruck battle being the standout from this game. – Ben Madden
Eastern Ranges (9.9.63) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers (16.12.108)
Goal Kickers: M. Doreian 3, D. Moore, M. Mellis, J. Ross, J. Rossiter, J. Stephenson, J. Matthews
Best Players: J. Stephenson, H. Nolan, D. Moore, S. Hayes, M. Doreian, R. Stoddart
Goal Kickers: T. Wooller 3, J. Higgins 2, E. Michelmore 2, D. Stanford 2, C. Thompson 2, C. Whitehead, M. Day, H. Longbottom, S. Harte, L. Stacker
Best Players: E. Richards, J. Roughsedge, T. Wooller, M. Warren, M. Rowell, L. Stacker
With a 45 point winning margin, the Chargers stole top spot from the Falcons and were crowned minor premiers for the 2017 TAC Cup season. This came off the back of a 7.6 last quarter from the Chargers, with the margin only sitting at five points going into the final break. The big win over the 6th placed Ranges will fill the Chargers with a lot of confidence going into the finals.
For the Ranges, Jaidyn Stephenson continues to shine, and the weekend was no exception. He had 34 touches, a goal, six clearances and seven inside 50s, and will be looking to leave his mark on the finals against the Stingrays next week. Mackenzie Dorein chipped in with three goals and 22 disposals, and will be looking to add to his 11 goals for the year next week.
For the Chargers, Morrish Medallist Jack Higgins once again was huge, with 26 disposals and 2.4. Higgins also had eight marks, and it is pretty clear why he is tipped to go early in the draft, with 29 goals kicked already this season. Jack Roughsedge was influential with 27 disposals, seven tackles and seven clearances in a performance that was far from rough (sorry). – Ben Madden
Northern Knights (8.4.52) defeated by Sandringham Dragons (14.13.97)
Goal Kickers: P. Naish, J. Naylor, E. Penrith, S. Binion, J. Petruccelle, M. Dreher, S. Brazier, K. Yodgee
Best Players: T. McKenzie, C. Farchione, M. Harman, A. Federico
Goal Kickers: H. Brayshaw 5, I. Morrisby 2, J. Crocker, A. Brayshaw, C. Constable, S. Williams, A. Trusler, L. Harris, J. Amartey
Best Players: H. Brayshaw, J. Amartey, N. Murphy, A. Brayshaw, W. Walker, A. Jarnestrom
The Dragons will certainly have their tails up for finals after an imposing 45-point win over the Knights. The contest was a close one early, with just 1 point separating the two sides at half-time, but the Dragons piled on nine goals to the Knights’ three in the second half. Northern (8th) will have their work cut out for them against the first placed Chargers next week, while Sandy (4th) face the Bushrangers in their clash.
Hamish Brayshaw has spent most of the back-half of the season in Sandringham’s VFL side, and his return to the TAC Cup was emphatic. Brayshaw numbers were insane – 30 disposals at 90% efficiency (18 contested), eight clearances, eight marks (four contested) and five goals straight. Surely he couldn’t be overlooked again. Seb Williams (28 disposals) and Nathan Murphy (25 disposals, 17 kicks, nine marks) were also among the leading ball-winners, while first round prospect Charlie Constable (22 disposals, six clearances, six tackles) was good in tight. For the Knights, Alex Federico led the way with 23 possessions, eight tackles and nine clearances while Richmond father-son prospect Patrick Naish kicked a goal from his 17 touches. – Dan Batten
Dandenong Stingrays (6.8.44) defeated by Geelong Falcons (6.16.52)
Goal Kickers: J. Nanscawen 2, B. Schmidt, L. Young, R. D”Arcy, D. Morris
Best Players: A. Paterson, O. Clavarino, A. Bonar, J. Davies, M. DeWit, R. Bowman
Goal Kickers: A. Garner, J. Worpel, D. Handley, J. Henderson, H. Benson, E. Floyd
Best Players: C. Stephens, J. Jaska, C. Parish, D. Handley, D. Hollenkamp, S. Walsh
Geelong failed to hold onto top spot on the TAC Cup ladder despite beating the Stingrays by eight points on Sunday. The Falcons’ inaccuracy made the score-line more flattering for Dandenong, kicking 6.16 for the match. It was a scrappy affair all day at Victoria Park but ultimately it was a ‘barnstorming’ (in the context of this game) 3.5 to 0.2 third quarter from the Falcons that was the difference. The Stingrays threatened with four of the last five goals but they left their run too late in the end.
Bottom-ager Sam Walsh continued his outstanding form with a game-high 32 disposals for Geelong. David Handley (15 disposals, six marks, 1.4) was a threat up forward but couldn’t kick straight, while Dandenong’s Oscar Clavarino was a rock in defence clunking nine marks (three contested) from his 17 disposals. Thomas Murphy was the leading ball-winner for the Stingrays with 21 touches and six tackles, while Aiden Bonar (20 disposals, two contested marks) put in another good showing. – Dan Batten
Gippsland Power (12.15.87) defeated Murray Bushrangers (10.9.69)
Goal Kickers: W. Stephenson 3, S. Flanders 2, C. Serong 2, K. Reid, J. Hudson, J. Patterson, I. Mosquito, A. Quigley
Best Players: C. Porter, N. Hogan, S. Flanders, C. Serong, C. Jiath, X. Duursma
Goal Kickers: A. Paech 2, W. Chandler 2, Z. Barzen 2, N. Oakes, R. Bruce, D. Langlands, D. Smith
Best Players: L. Vandermeer, D. Langlands, N. Oakes, Z. Barzen, A. Paech, W. Donaghey
It wasn’t a must-win game for either side, but Gippsland certainly had more to play for and it showed. Gippsland ran out 18 point winners in a see-sawing match on Sunday afternoon, with the victory moving them from eighth to seventh on the ladder. It will be no easier task for them, though, up against a Geelong side that just missed out on top spot. On the other side of the ledger, the Bushies face reigning premiers Sandringham.
Murray’s Will Donaghey led all comers collecting 31 disposals, seven marks and 15 handball receives while Power’s Nick Hogan (30 disposals, 18 contested possessions, 11 inside-50s) wasn’t far behind. Gippsland’s mosquito fleet stood out, with Will Stephenson (16 disposals, three goals), and U16 duo Sam Flanders (17 disposals 2.5) and Caleb Serong (15 disposals, two majors) were the X-Factors in the Powers’ win. Draft scouts will be salivating at the prospect of those two youngsters, although they’ll have to wait until 2019. Callum Porter (25 disposals) and Laitham Vandermeer 25 possessions, seven clearances) were also impressive for their sides. – Dan Batten