The Western Jets elevated themselves off the bottom of the ladder with a 33-point victory over the Eastern Ranges in Round 10 – the first of three TAC Cup ‘Futures Rounds’.
From Rounds 10-12, clubs will have the chance to showcase their bottom-age talent while the NAB AFL U18 Championships take place, with each required to play at least 11 players who aren’t draft eligible until at least 2018.
The young Jets (10th, 3-7) contributed to a slick opening quarter that opened up a 22-point advantage over the Ranges (8th, 4-6) by the first break at Box Hill City Oval. They then held their opponents at bay for the rest of the contest, with bottom-agers Xavier O’Halloran (27 disposals, a round-high 12 tackles, eight clearances) and Connor Thar (25 disposals, nine inside-50s, three goals) instrumental in Western’s triumph.
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As a result, the Calder Cannons (2-8) fell back to 12th position after losing to the Sandringham Dragons (4th, 6-4) by 35 points at Rams Arena.
Calder led by three points at half time but conceded six goals to one in the third quarter as the Dragons opened up a defining break. Will Walker had 22 disposals and kicked two first-term goals to be among Sandringham’s best, while teammate Quintin Montanaro won a game-high 33 disposals.
The Gippsland Power (7th, 4-6) consolidated their spot in the top eight with a 27-point defeat of the GWV Rebels (9th, 3-7) at Casey Fields.
No more than 11 points separated the teams for three quarters, before Gippsland piled on six goals to two in the final stanza to steam to victory. Consistent Power performers Will Stephenson (four goals) and Callum Porter (two) both scored late majors, as did bottom-agers Boadie Motton and Kyle Reid.
The Dandenong Stingrays (5th, 6-4) notched a third straight win in holding off a brave Murray Bushrangers outfit (3rd, 7-3) by two points at Shepley Oval.
After an even first term, the Stingrays drew away to establish a 27-point break at three-quarter time but had to withstand a late Murray run fuelled by two goals to Daniel Johnston in the dying minutes of the match. Riley D’Arcy bagged six goals – including one crucial major in the last quarter – to be among Dandenong’s best players.
The Oakleigh Chargers (8-2) hold sole possession of second spot after accounting for the Northern Knights (6th, 5-5) by 84 points at Preston City Oval.
The Chargers held the Knights to just two goals after quarter time, with Daniel Stanford booting four majors and bottom-agers Lachlan Bugeja and Isaac Quaynor proving important for the victors.
In Round 10’s final game, the Geelong Falcons (1st, 9-1) rebounded from their first loss of the season to keep the Bendigo Pioneers (11th, 3-7) to just three goals in a 60-point win at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Vic Country co-captain James Worpel racked up a round-high 43 disposals for the Falcons, while Adam Garner continued his recent goalkicking form with three majors and bottom-ager Doyle Madigan impressed with 17 disposals.
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* CLICK HERE for the latest AFL Victoria Record, featuring a story on Dandenong Stingrays and Vic Country teammates Hunter Clark and Tom De Koning