The Dandenong Stingrays notched their sixth straight win as the TAC Cup welcomed back a host of NAB AFL U18 Championships players in Round 13.
Dandenong (5th, 9-4) moved 10 premiership points clear of sixth-placed Northern (6-6-1) after defeating the Knights by 29 points at Shepley Oval. The Stingrays built a decisive 38-point advantage by half time, holding their opponents to just 1.6 (12) in the first two quarters.
Vic Country’s U18 Championships co-captain Oscar Clavarino returned to the TAC Cup with 20 disposals, 11 marks and four rebound-50s to be Dandenong’s best player, while fellow national representative Luke Davies-Uniacke won a team-high 21 disposals as well as booting two goals.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Ranges (7th, 6-7) were powered by several returning Vic Metro players in a 54-point win against the Gippsland Power (8th, 4-9) at Morwell Recreation Reserve.
In a boost to their finals hopes, the Ranges are now two wins and percentage ahead of Gippsland, having opened up a defining six-goal lead by midway through the second quarter. All Australians Adam Cerra (24 disposals, 10 marks, three goals), Dylan Moore (26 disposals, two goals) and Metro skipper Joel Garner (18 disposals, five rebound-50s) were all instrumental for Eastern.
The Sandringham Dragons (3rd, 9-4) held off a gallant Bendigo Pioneers (11th, 3-10) outfit to prevail by 29 points at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.
Sandringham led by 30 points early in the final quarter before Bendigo booted three quick goals to reduce the margin to 11 with just over 10 minutes remaining. The Dragons responded though, with All Australian Charlie Constable’s third major the last of three unanswered goals that saw his team home. Constable also racked up 29 disposals and 11 clearances in a commanding performance.
The Geelong Falcons (2nd, 10-3) overcame a slow start to fly past the Western Jets (12th, 3-10) by 52 points at Central Reserve in Colac.
Vic Country co-captain and MVP James Worpel continued his good form with a game-high 34 disposals for Geelong, while fellow national representatives Cassidy Parish (33 disposals) and Gryan Miers (five goals) were also keys to the victory.
The Calder Cannons (9th, 4-9) are only percentage out of the top eight after overrunning the Murray Bushrangers (4th, 9-4) by nine points at Deakin Reserve in Shepparton.
The Bushrangers kicked the first six goals of the game and still led by 12 points when Daniel Johnston booted his sixth major just minutes into the final quarter. Calder wouldn’t be denied though, Vic Metro key-position player Noah Balta producing 31 disposals, seven marks and 10 inside-50s to help the Cannons finish strongly.
Finally in Round 13, the Oakleigh Chargers (11-2) maintained their hold on top spot in accounting for the GWV Rebels (10th, 3-9-1) by 48 points in GWV’s Ronald McDonald House Charities match at Mars Stadium.
Oakleigh’s eight-goal-to-one third quarter blew the contest open, with bottom-ager Daniel Scala bagging five majors for the game and Vic Metro MVP Jack Higgins winning a game-high 30 disposals and 11 clearances while also kicking two goals.
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* CLICK HERE for the latest AFL Victoria Record, featuring a look at the performances of all TAC Cup players to appear in the recent NAB AFL U18 Championships