STATS CENTRAL: Dragons keep flame burning

The 2016 TAC Cup premiers have started the new season as they finished the last.

Having claimed their third flag in September and produced five of the first 11 picks at the 2016 NAB AFL Draft in November, the Sandringham Dragons began 2017 with a comprehensive 54-point victory over the Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park in Round 1.

During last year’s run to the premiership from fifth on the ladder after the home-and-away season, it was the work of talented midfielders such as Andrew McGrath (AFL Draft pick no.1 to Essendon), Tim Taranto (no.2 to GWS), Will Setterfield (no.5 to GWS), Oliver Florent (no.11 to Sydney) and Corey Lyons (no.71 to Brisbane) who drove the Dragons forward to success.

And on the evidence so far this year, it seems Sandringham has assembled a similarly broad range of on-ball threats.

The Chargers had more disposals and took more marks than the Dragons on Sunday, but the reigning premiers booted nine more goals than their opponents thanks to dominance in the contests.

Sandringham won the clearance count 40-28 on the back of eight players having three or more clearances. In fact, only five of 23 Dragons players didn’t record a clearance.

Pocket rockets Lucas Barrett and Lachlan Harris (pictured - four clearances each) led the way, while Andrew Brayshaw, Charlie Constable, Alfie Jarnestrom, Kai Owens, Will Walker and Sebastian Williams all recorded three.

Their work in winning the ball and driving it forward created opportunities for big men Max King (four contested marks, four goals), Isaac Morrisby (two goals) and Hayden McLean (one goal) to use their height to advantage and capitalise inside 50.

A midfield topped with star talent will take a team a long way – look at Geelong’s 2016 AFL preliminary-final campaign with Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield leading the way.

But midfield depth underneath the top tier will invariably take a team further. Last year’s AFL premiers the Western Bulldogs and their army of quick, brave and skilful on-ballers are evidence of that.

Whether the Dragons have the top-end midfield talent they boasted in 2016 is still to be determined, but their depth of on-ballers has them off to an encouraging start in the premiership defence.


Round 1 keys to victory:

11Murray Bushrangers over-ager Ben Paton was a constant thorn in the side of the Bendigo Pioneers during his team’s 51-point victory in Round 1. The North Albury junior had a round-high 11 rebound-50s among his 23 disposals, which equated to him personally repelling almost a third of Bendigo’s 36 inside-50 entries for the match.

33: The boot of Jackson Ross (an Old Haileybury junior) was a big reason for the Eastern Ranges recording a +33 advantage in inside-50s (62-29) in a 54-point triumph over the Calder Cannons. The athletic 192cm former elite tennis player unleashed 18 kicks against the Cannons, seven of which drove the Ranges inside 50 – a team high.

3: The tall timber of the Geelong Falcons stood strong in an 82-point win over the GWV Rebels. Adam Garner (194cm), Tom McCartin (192cm), Rick Read (192cm) and Jordon Reid (194cm) all took three or more contested marks against the Rebels, while 181cm David Handley (a Geelong West Giants junior) took three himself and also booted six goals.


Round 1 stats leaders:

Luke Davies-Uniacke Dandenong Stingrays 19  
Marcus Lentini Northern Knights 19  
Lachlan Fogarty Western Jets 19  
Ben Caluzzi Calder Cannons 18  
Jackson Ross Eastern Ranges 18  
Bayley Cockerill Geelong Falcons 17  
Ben Paton Murray Bushrangers 17  
Mitchell Andrews Northern Knights 17  
Jack Higgins Oakleigh Chargers 17  
Dylan Morris Dandenong Stingrays 16  
Joel Garner Eastern Ranges 16  
Aiden Domic GWV Rebels 16  
Callan Wellings GWV Rebels 16  
Nicholas Coffield Northern Knights 16  
Max Dreher Northern Knights 16  
Harrison Jones Murray Bushrangers 17  
Jack Bytel Calder Cannons 15  
Scott Carlin GWV Rebels 15  
Nicholas Richards Murray Bushrangers 14  
Oliver Smart Oakleigh Chargers 14  
Jack Higgins Oakleigh Chargers 13  
Charlie Thompson Oakleigh Chargers 13  
Samuel Walsh Geelong Falcons 13  
Dylan Moore Eastern Ranges 13  
Adam Cerra Eastern Ranges 13  
Darby Henderson Bendigo Pioneers 13  
Adrian Kalcovski Eastern Ranges 13  
Brad Bernacki Calder Cannons 13  
Marcus Lentini Northern Knights 12  
Ethan Phillips Oakleigh Chargers 12  
Jamison Shea Northern Knights 11  
Ethan Phillips Oakleigh Chargers 10  
Jack Higgins Oakleigh Chargers 9  
Flynn Appleby GWV Rebels 9  
Jordon Butts Murray Bushrangers 9  
Alfie Jarnestrom Sandringham Dragons 8  
Callum Searle Oakleigh Chargers 8  
Mitchell Andrews Northern Knights 8  
Callan Wellings GWV Rebels 8  
Kane Farrell Bendigo Pioneers 8  
Tom McCartin Geelong Falcons 8  
Sean Masterson Gippsland Power 8  
Aiden Domic GWV Rebels 8  
Charlie Thompson Oakleigh Chargers 7  
Samuel Walsh Geelong Falcons 7  
Lloyd Meek GWV Rebels 38  
Sam Hayes Eastern Ranges 32  
Matthew Harman Northern Knights 23  
Floyd Bollinghaus Murray Bushrangers 22  
Ethan Casey Sandringham Dragons 21  
Joel Grace Northern Knights 18  
Riley Ham Western Jets 17  
Tom Roberts Dandenong Stingrays 16  
Julian Patterson Gippsland Power 15  
Zak Barrett Dandenong Stingrays 14  
Joel Amartey Sandringham Dragons 13  
Jake Riccardi Calder Cannons 13  
Riley Burns Bendigo Pioneers 13  
Tristan Xerri Western Jets 12  
Jasper Rouget Eastern Ranges 12  
Lachlan Fogarty Western Jets 11  
Callan Wellings GWV Rebels 9  
Jean-Luc Velissaris Calder Cannons 8  
Harry Benson Geelong Falcons 8  
Callum Porter Gippsland Power 8  
Isaac Wallace Murray Bushrangers 8  
Riley Ham Western Jets 7  
Max Dreher Northern Knights 7  
Alex Federico Northern Knights 7  
Anthony Fable Northern Knights 7  
Jack Bytel Calder Cannons 7  
Angus Styles Sandringham Dragons 7  
Gryan Miers Geelong Falcons 7  
Coby McCarthy Bendigo Pioneers 7  
Nathan Oakes Murray Bushrangers 7  
    Last round Total
David Handley Geelong Falcons 6 6
Jaidyn Stephenson Eastern Ranges 5 5
Nicholas Coffield Northern Knights 4 4
Max King Sandringham Dragons 4 4
Dylan Morris Dandenong Stingrays 4 4
Curtis Taylor Calder Cannons 3 3
Riley D'Arcy Dandenong Stingrays 3 3
Lachlan Fogarty Western Jets 2 2
Nathan Oakes Murray Bushrangers 2 2
Jordan Lynch Eastern Ranges 2 2


Related content:

REVIEW: TAC Cup Round 1


Comment Guidelines: The SportsTG Network is made up of players, families and passionate sports followers like you who have a strong opinion about sport. That's great - we want you to have your say and share your thoughts with the world. However, we have a few rules that you must follow to keep it fun for all. Please don't be rude, abusive, swear or vilify others. Apart from some pretty serious sport sanctions, we also can ban you and report you if things get out of hand. So play fair and have fun, and thanks for your contribution.