Round 13 of the TAC Cup will get underway this weekend, with some important matches to be played in the middle regions of the ladder.
The Dandenong Stingrays host the Northern Knights in a critical match between the fifth and sixth-ranked teams.
Dandenong claimed their fifth consecutive victory with a 10.18 (78) to 8.7 (55) result over the Calder Cannons away from home. The Stingrays had to overcome a sluggish start, finding themselves 20 points down at quarter time. They fought their way back to a one-point deficit at half-time, keeping Calder to just one behind but kicking 2.8 themselves for the quarter. Dandenong fought back again from 11 points down at three-quarter time to claim the win. Mitchell Cotter (24 disposals, 11 clearances, five inside-50s) was busy in the midfield throughout the day.
A massive 37-disposal effort from Marcus Lentini powered the Northern Knights to a 9.10 (64) to 6.13 (49) victory over the Bendigo Pioneers. Lentini’s 37 disposals included 11 marks, four rebound-50s and four clearances. Other contributors were Max Dreher (28 disposals) and Sam Binion (15 disposals, 2.3 score). The victory ensures that the Knights still sit six points clear in both directions in 6th place.
In another important middle-table clash, Gippsland Power host the Eastern Ranges to decide the lower reaches of the top eight.
Gippsland fell agonisingly short against the Sandringham Dragons in a very low-scoring match, losing 4.8 (32) to 5.3 (33). In the context of the match, Gippsland’s 10-point three-quarter-time lead was plenty, but the greater accuracy from the Dragons got them over the line. Will Leslie kicked two goals straight, while Callum Porter and Bailey Beck each gathered 20 disposals for the match.
Eastern produced an important win against the GWV Rebels, with the final scoreline reading 12.8 (80) to 7.13 (55) at Eureka Stadium. They were led by a five-goal, 23-disposal performance from Jackson Ross, who was a clear best-on-ground for the visiting team. Kieran Urquhart also contributed 3.1 to the score.
The Sandringham Dragons look for their fourth consecutive win when they take on the Bendigo Pioneers.
Sandringham broke through a determined Gippsland to snatch a one-point win away from home. Down by 18 points early in the final quarter, Sandringham took their chances and rode their luck, claiming a very important win in terms of their top-four aspirations. Five individual goalkickers shared the load up front, while Bailey Smith (32 disposals) and Geordie Nagle (30 disposals) controlled plenty of possession.
Bendigo could not maintain the momentum of a good first half, losing to the Northern Knights by 15 points. Darby Henderson (33 disposals, six clearances) and Laine Fitzgerald (31 disposals, six inside-50s) were the main ball winners for the away team, while Wil Hamilton and Angus Byrne each kicked two goals.
The last two weeks have been a bit of a disaster for the Geelong Falcons, losing by 49 and 40 points, and losing top spot along the way. They take on the bottom-placed Western Jets at home.
Geelong slumped to a second defeat in a row, losing at home to Oakleigh 6.8 (44) to 12.12 (84). Though only four points down at three-quarter time, Geelong could only score 1.2 to 7.2 against a fast-finishing Oakleigh outfit. The loss means that the Falcons are vulnerable to Murray on the ladder, hanging onto second place. Charlie Sprague was effective up forward with three goals, while Bayley Cockerill (24 disposals, six clearances, six tackles) was the leading possession-winner.
The Western Jets would be disappointed with their slow start against Murray, after they fought back yet still lost 7.11 (53) to 9.7 (61). Their 1.1 to 4.2 first quarter proved to be an inconvenient obstacle in their way, as they spent the rest of the match playing catch-up football. The loss also keeps the Jets at the foot of the ladder. Nicholas Stuhldreier (24 disposals, five tackles, four inside-50s) was the main possession-winner while Alexander Bouris was the lone multiple goalkicker with two straight.
The Murray Bushrangers will be looking to enter the top two with a win over the 11th-placed Calder Cannons at Shepparton.
Murray kept a determined Western Jets team at bay with an eight-point victory away from home. The Bushrangers were led by a 32-disposal, 10-clearance effort from Angus Hicks, as well as two goals each from Kyle Clarke, Hudson Garoni and Daniel Johnston. Murray is now ready to pounce upon Geelong which has had a difficult few weeks, with an eye on a top-two finish.
Calder had periods of the game where it looked set for a victory, but ultimately slipped to a 23-point loss to Dandenong. Ahead at every siren bar the final one, Calder could only muster a single point in the fourth quarter when Dandenong put on 5.5. Lachlan Sholl was the only multiple goalkicker for the home side with 2.1, while the leading possession-winner was Ben Caluzzi who gathered 29 disposals, four clearances and a goal.
Finally, the Greater Western Victoria Rebels host the Oakleigh Chargers, who are without a doubt the form team of the competition at the moment.
GWV could not contain the scoring ability of the Eastern Ranges, losing their match at home by 25 points. Three goals in the final quarter was the most they were able to produce in a single term, and inaccuracy also played a part. Callan Wellings fought hard for 23 disposals and nine clearances, while the only multiple goalkicker was Jordan Johnston who kicked 2.1. GWV is starting to slip away from finals contention and needs to pick up wins soon if it is to make it.
Oakleigh is in form, and now on top of the ladder after a 40-point win against Geelong away from home. The Falcons were the last team to beat the Chargers, all the way back in Round 5, and the Chargers definitely did not forget. Joseph Ayton-Delaney led the way with 26 disposals, six tackles, and four clearances, while Matthew King, Daniel Stanford, and Daniel Scala all shared two goals. Undefeated since late April, Oakleigh is threatening as one of the major favourites for the 2017 premiership.