A thrilling NAB League Boys Round 16 saw the Eastern Ranges effectively secure the 2019 minor premiership with a comeback victory and the GWV Rebels and Geelong Falcons also overturning late deficits to prevail.
The Ranges (1st on ladder, 11-3 record) trailed the Dandenong Stingrays (8th, 6-7-1) by 20 points midway through the third quarter at Shepley Oval on Saturday but kicked four of the last five goals of the match to sneak home 5.16 (46) to 6.5 (41).
The win puts Eastern one game and 28 percentage points ahead of the second-placed Gippsland Power on the ladder, virtually assuring the Ranges of top spot with only one home-and-away round to play in two weeks’ time.
Following Round 17, a Wildcard Round will pit teams from fourth to 13th on the ladder against each other (fourth vs 13th, fifth vs 12th, etc.) in sudden-death showdowns in order to qualify for the finals series proper.
The top three teams, meanwhile, will advance directly to qualifying finals, with second on the ladder to meet third and the minor premier to face the top-ranked Wildcard Round winner. The remaining four Wildcard Round winners will play off in elimination finals.
* CLICK HERE to see full match results, goalkickers and best players from NAB League Boys Round 16.
Eastern captain James Ross (20 disposals and seven marks) was a catalyst in driving his team toward the minor premiership, the usual defender starring inside 50 with two of the Ranges’ majors in their late rally.
Mitch Mellis (24 disposals and six clearances), Billy McCormack (20, 22 hitouts and five clearances) and MVP of the recent NAB AFL Under-16 Championships Tyler Sonsie (20, five clearances and five inside-50s) were key drivers from stoppages for Eastern, with over-ager Joel Nathan (12 and five rebound-50s) doing so from defence.
Dandenong fell to its seventh straight loss, but skipper Hayden Young (26 disposals and five inside-50s), fellow 2019 NAB AFL Draft prospect Ned Cahill (18 and two goals), 19-year-old Jai Nanscawen (19 and 11 marks) and backs Nathan Heath (18 and six rebound-50s) and Clayton Gay (15 and six rebound-50s) all performed well in defeat.
The Chargers (3rd, 10-4) put themselves in the box seat to qualify directly for the finals with a 12.8 (80) to 9.4 (58) defeat of the Western Jets (6th, 8-6) at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday. A burst of five goals in eight minutes near the end of the third term set up Oakleigh’s fourth consecutive win, with a victory over the fourth-placed Sandringham Dragons in Round 17 now needed to secure the Chargers a top-three finish.
Lochlan Jenkins continued a strong run of form with 35 touches, 10 inside-50s and nine clearances in Oakleigh’s midfield and was assisted by the likes of fellow bottom-ager Reef McInnes (28, seven marks and nine tackles) and 19-year-old Jeromy Lucas (26). The Chargers boasted four multiple goalkickers, including Nicholas Stathopoulos (three goals) and 2019 AFL Draft bolter Cooper Sharman (two).
Archi Manton played just about a lone hand up forward for the Jets with five majors, while Josh Honey (24 disposals, 10 clearances and five inside-50s), 19-year-old Daly Andrews (23 and six clearances) and Josh Kellett (18, eight tackles and seven rebound-50s) were among Western’s key ball-winners.
GWV (11th, 5-9) twice came back from significant deficits to pip the Bendigo Pioneers (10th, 5-9) at Mars Stadium on Sunday, 13.11 (89) to 13.7 (85). The Rebels trailed by 29 points at half time before hitting the lead midway through the third stanza and then fell 23 points behind with around 13 minutes to play in the match. However, four late goals – including two to Izaac Grant – snatched victory from Bendigo.
In addition to Grant, Jay Rantall (21 disposals, 12 tackles and eight clearances), over-ager Matty Lloyd (21 and five inside-50s) and 15-year-old Joshua Rentsch were other GWV players to kick multiple majors, with Cooper Craig-Peters (22, 11 tackles and eight clearances) and Patrick Glanford (eight and 53 hitouts) asserting themselves at stoppages in their team’s third win in four games.
The Pioneers were best served by bottom-ager Jack Ginnivan’s four goals from 19 touches, as well as tall duo Aaron Gundry (15 disposals, 28 hitouts and six clearances) and Josh Treacy (18 and two goals).
In the final match of Round 16, the Falcons (13th, 2-11-1) posted their first triumph since Round 6 with an 8.8 (56) to 6.13 (49) defeat of the Tasmania Devils (12th, 4-11) at North Hobart Oval on Saturday. Geelong twice fell a goal behind the Devils in a tense final term but back-to-back majors to bottom-agers Max Annandale and Chris Seymour in the match’s closing minutes proved enough for the Falcons to prevail.
19-year-old Charlie Sprague (three goals) was a constant threat inside 50 for Geelong, while his captain Jesse Clark (21 disposals, 14 clearances and eight tackles) was a force in the contest and bottom-agers Oliver Henry (24, 11 marks and eight rebound-50s) and Cameron Fleeton (21 and 10 rebound-50s) provided plenty of drive from the back half. Despite the win, the Falcons will still finish last on the ladder.
Tasmania is also locked into its current position for Wildcard Round having now completed its home-and-away campaign. Bottom-age skipper Oliver Davis led the Devils with 23 touches, 10 tackles and nine clearances against Geelong, with ruck Jordan Lane (12 disposals, 18 hitouts and two goals) also influential in defeat.
— Geelong Falcons (@GeelongFalcons) August 3, 2019
The Gippsland Power (2nd, 10-4), Sandringham Dragons (4th, 9-5), Calder Cannons (5th, 9-5), Northern Knights (7th, 7-7) and Murray Bushrangers (9th, 6-8) all had the bye in Round 16.
There will now be a study/development weekend before Round 17, which features triple-headers involving the six metro-based teams at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday August 17 and the six country teams at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Sunday August 18.