TAC Cup Round 14 review
The Gippsland Power climbed off the bottom of the TAC Cup ladder for the first time since Round 2 by defeating the ladder-leading Geelong Falcons in Round 14.
In wild conditions at Morwell Recreation Reserve, the Power engineered a 119-point turnaround from their 93-point loss to the Falcons in Round 3 with a strong four-quarter performance.
Gippsland (now 11th, 3-11) took a seven-point lead into the last change after hail started coming down, but defied the weather to kick the only three goals of the final term – through Austin Hodge, Trent Armour and Nathan Voss – to secure a 26-point triumph.
Geelong only had one less scoring shot but will rue the inaccuracy that saw it record just 3.16 (34). The Falcons (1st, 11-3) are now only percentage ahead of the second-placed Dandenong Stingrays and face a stern test in Round 15 against an Eastern Ranges outfit that has been strengthened by top-end talent since the NAB AFL U18 Championships concluded at the end of June.
The Ranges (7th, 6-8) have now won two straight games and look primed to hold their spot in the top eight after overrunning the Northern Knights (12th, 3-11) by 18 points at Preston City Oval.
The Knights led at every break – including by six points at three-quarter time – but Eastern produced four unanswered goals in the final stanza despite having three injured players on the bench to send Northern to the bottom of the ladder.
Below the Ranges, the race for eighth position opened right up when the Bendigo Pioneers (9th, 4-10) knocked off the Oakleigh Chargers (8th, 5-9) by 21 points at Warrawee Park.
The Pioneers created a match-defining gap in the first quarter, keeping the Chargers to just one behind and establishing a 24-point advantage. Talented Bendigo bottom-agers Paddy Dow and Jarrod Brander starred, while Kayle Kirby booted four goals to maintain his standing of fifth on the TAC Cup goalkicking table. Another crucial match awaits the Pioneers in Round 15 when they host the North Ballarat Rebels at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
The Rebels (5th, 9-5) put space between themselves and the sixth-placed Calder Cannons (7-7) in defeating Calder by 35 points at Eureka Stadium, but couldn’t eat into the six-premiership-point gap to the top-four teams on the ladder.
North Ballarat took control of the match after an even first quarter, with Vic Country squad members Hugh McCluggage and Tom Williamson particularly prominent.
The Murray Bushrangers (3rd, 10-3-1) kept themselves a game and a half clear of the chasing Rebels by accounting for the Western Jets (10th, 4-10) by 100 points at Wangaratta Showgrounds. Murray’s team defence was exceptional in keeping the Jets to just one goal for the match, with recently-returned Allies representatives Todd Marshall (three goals) and Zachary Sproule were among the best players.
Also in Round 14, Dandenong (2nd, 11-3) leapfrogged the Sandringham Dragons (4th, 10-3-1) on the ladder after prevailing by eight points in the teams’ clash at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.
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* Photo: Brian Bartlett