NAB League Boys Round 8 was highlighted by three games decided by margins of a goal or less, with the Sandringham Dragons, Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers all prevailing in thrilling contests.
The Dragons (3rd on ladder, 5-2 record) will be thankful their inaccuracy didn’t come back to bite them in a 10.18 (78) to 12.2 (74) victory over the Bendigo Pioneers (10th, 2-5) at Victoria Park in Echuca.
Sandringham inflicted Bendigo’s fifth straight loss – three of which have been by five points or less – after falling 19 points behind the Pioneers in the first minute of the fourth quarter. The Dragons then piled on four of the game’s last five goals to snatch the premiership points.
Dragons head coach Josh Bourke said despite a sizeable deficit at the final break, he was “relatively confident” his team had what it took to overrun Bendigo.
“We’d been up in possession and inside-50s and had more scoring shots, but when you’re not putting it on the scoreboard it certainly makes you a bit nervous,” Bourke said. “We were also wary of the threat the Pioneers posed in attack (12 goals from 24 inside-50s for the match), but a bit more composure going forward in the last term was probably the key for us.
“I was really pleased with Ryan Byrnes, Miles Bergman and Corey Watts, who all had really important moments. Ryan racked up 31 disposals and was probably the dominant midfielder in the game, Miles was really big late in the game with a few shots on goal and Corey was just incredibly reliable one-on-one in defence. They all have a Vic Metro trial game this weekend, so they should take a bit of confidence into that.”
Bourke said the absence of some of Sandringham’s highly-rated private-school players over the last four rounds had created opportunities for others, with the Dragons winning two games and losing twice in that time.
“We’ve been really pleased with our 19-year-old players in Angus Hanrahan and Riley Bowman, who have really stepped up,” Bourke said. “Jackson Voss has put in some really strong and consistent performances, Jake Bowey is a bottom-ager who’s really exciting and Tom Deane-Johns has started to get some form on the board. It’s been a range of players that has stepped from week to week and carried the load.
“We’re really fortunate that we have a deep list and we hope on draft night that we really have a win, with a large number of names called out.”
* CLICK HERE to see full match results, goalkickers and best players from NAB League Boys Round 8.
In another Round 8 thriller, Dandenong (1st, 6-0-1) maintained its unbeaten start to the season by pipping the Tasmania Devils (8th, 3-4) at Blundstone Arena in Hobart, 9.6 (60) to 8.8 (56). The Stingrays led by 22 points approaching midway through the final term before Tasmania booted four goals in five minutes to take the lead. However, a major to Declan Gould at the 20-minute mark restored Dandenong’s advantage for good.
201cm 19-year-old Bailey Schmidt was dominant in the ruck for the Stingrays with 14 disposals, 42 hitouts and five clearances, with Clayton Gay influential in attack (three goals from 15 disposals). For Tasmania, skipper Oliver Davis racked up game-highs of 33 touches and nine inside-50s.
— #NABLeagueBoys / #NABLeagueGirls (@NABLeague) May 18, 2019
Oakleigh (6th, 4-3) was another team to triumph in a tight match, defeating the Northern Knights (9th, 3-5) at Shepley Oval, 6.10 (46) to 5.10 (40). There were four lead changes in a tense second half, the last of which came when a Tom Graham goal edged the Chargers in front 10 minutes into the last stanza. Another major to co-captain Dylan Williams – his second for the match – shortly after created the defining buffer.
Oakleigh was well served by Lochlan Jenkins (22 disposals and eight clearances) and Jacob Woodfull (13 and 42 hitouts), while Sam Philp stood out with game-highs of 28 touches and nine clearances for the Knights.
The Gippsland Power (2nd, 6-1) continued on their winning ways, with a 15.8 (98) to 6.9 (45) defeat of the GWV Rebels (11th, 2-5) at Windy Hill making it five victories in a row. A nine-goal-to-two first half set up the Power, with mobile attacking targets Fraser Phillips (24 disposals and two goals) and Josh Smith (22, 11 clearances and three goals) among their most important players.
Ruckman Josh Smith takes the ball out of the ruck contest and snaps a goal. Who needs to tap it to the mids!! Lead by 39.
— Gippsland Power F.C (@Gippsland_Power) May 19, 2019
The team defence of the Western Jets (5th, 4-3) was superb in restricting the scoring power of the Geelong Falcons (13th, 1-5-1) in a 7.8 (50) to 2.10 (22) win at Avalon Airport Oval. The Jets established control with five goals to one before half time, as Darcy Cassar (41 disposals, 12 marks and eight rebound-50s), Daly Andrews (31, 10 marks and six clearances) and Lucas Rocci (28 and 11 marks) found plenty of the ball.
Finally in Round 8, the Calder Cannons (7th, 4-4) posted an 18.9 (117) to 10.7 (67) victory over the Murray Bushrangers (12th, 2-5) at Norm Minns Oval. Tall target Jeremy O’Sullivan finished with three goals from 12 disposals and eight marks for Calder, with teammates Ned Gentile (24 disposals, eight clearances and two goals) and Brodie Newman (24 and seven rebound-50s) also important in the result.
All teams now have a bye this weekend, with under-18 Vic Country and Vic Metro teams taking on Allies teams in trial games for the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, which begin for Country and Metro the following weekend.