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:
11: Murray 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|
|2017 LEADING GOALKICKERS|
|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|