The Oakleigh Chargers knocked the Geelong Falcons off top spot on the TAC Cup ladder for the first time this season in Round 12.
During the third of three ‘Futures Rounds’ – in which clubs are required to field a minimum of 11 players who aren’t draft eligible until at least 2018 – the Chargers (1st, 10-2) burst away from the Falcons (2nd, 9-3) in the last term to triumph by 40 points at Central Reserve in Colac.
Despite having kicked only five goals to three-quarter time, Oakleigh turned a four-point lead into a comprehensive win by piling on seven unanswered majors to start the final stanza – including two each to Matthew King and bottom-ager Daniel Scala. Daniel Stanford also booted two goals for the Chargers, while 17-year-olds Matthew Warren and Isaac Quaynor were others named among their best players.
Meanwhile, the Murray Bushrangers (9-3) held onto third position by denying a gallant Western Jets (12th, 3-9) outfit by eight points at Burbank Oval.
Murray led by 18 points at three-quarter time but produced just a solitary behind in the final term as Western pressed. Fortunately for the Bushrangers, the Jets could only manage an inaccurate 1.6 (12) in the last stanza to fall short of victory. Murray’s Angus Hicks was the game’s most prolific player with 32 disposals, 10 clearances and nine tackles.
The Sandringham Dragons (4th, 8-4) pulled off a stunning late escape to pip the Gippsland Power (8th, 4-8) by a point in tough conditions at Casey Fields.
In a very low-scoring contest, the Power held a 17-point lead 20 minutes into the last quarter with the Dragons having posted just 2.3 (15). However, goals to Alfie Jarnestrom, Kai Owens and bottom-ager Max King more than doubled Sandringham’s score in the space of five minutes and snatched the match from Gippsland’s grasp. Jarnestrom was also the game’s dominant player at the stoppages with 27 disposals and 11 clearances.
The Dandenong Stingrays (5th, 8-4) produced some late heroics of their own, running over the Calder Cannons (11th, 3-9) by 23 points at Rams Arena.
The Stingrays trailed by 11 points at the final change despite having more scoring shots than the Cannons, but soon found their radar to slot five unanswered goals to steam to victory. Bottom-agers William Hamill (12 disposals, six tackles) and Riley Bowman (11 disposals, 19 hitouts) were among Dandenong’s best players.
The Northern Knights (6th, 6-5-1) are still six premiership points behind the Dragons and Stingrays despite defeating the Bendigo Pioneers (10th, 3-9) by 15 points at Preston City Oval. Northern broke open an even match with six goals to three after half time, Marcus Lentini (37 disposals) and Max Dreher (28) as well as bottom-ager Kye Yodgee (21) finding plenty of the ball for the Knights.
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Also in Round 12, the Eastern Ranges (7th, 5-7) were driven to a 25-point win against the GWV Rebels (9th, 3-8-1) at Mars Stadium by five goals to Jackson Ross. The 192cm top-ager had booted his bag by late in the third quarter, by which time the Ranges had opened up a match-winning 39-point lead.
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* CLICK HERE for the latest AFL Victoria Record, featuring a story on Gippsland Power bottom-ager Xavier Duursma