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Likely No.1 pick Boyd fires as Eastern Ranges win TAC Cup flag

Thomas Boyd of the Ranges in action during the 2013 TAC Cup Grand Final match between the Dandenong Stingrays and Eastern Ranges at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on September 22, 2013. (Photo: Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)
Tom Boyd takes a mark during Sunday's TAC Cup Grand Final

IN HIS first game for more than three months, likely No.1 draft pick Tom Boyd kicked four goals in the Eastern Ranges' thumping TAC Cup premiership win.

The Ranges capped a dominant year by taking out the flag with a commanding 112-point victory over the Dandenong Stingrays in the Grand Final at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

They won 24.8 (152) to 5.10 (40) to clinch their second premiership, and reversed the qualifying final result between the sides, when Dandenong won comfortably.

It was the greatest margin in TAC Cup Grand Final history, and was Eastern's highest score of the season.


Boyd kicked three goals in the opening quarter and showed no signs of the ankle injury which had ruled him out of action since June, when he ruptured ligaments playing for Vic Metro.

Although quieter after the first change, Boyd reminded onlookers why he is ranked so highly, marking well, kicking straight and creating contests throughout the game despite lacking match fitness.

Another player returning from injury, draft prospect Mitch Honeychurch, kicked three goals and was active in the forward line having missed almost two months with a hamstring complaint.

The Ranges took control in the midfield, where captain Ben Cavarra burrowed into packs, fed the ball out and used his smarts to set it up. The joint Morrish medallist capped his year with the TAC Cup Medal for best-on-ground honours in the Grand Final after 30 disposals.

He was helped by the influential work of ruckman Connor O'Sullivan, who had 22 disposals, 21 hit-outs, and was one of 13 goalkickers.

Christian Petracca, not eligible until next year's NAB AFL Draft, continued his strong finals form with 21 touches and two goals. His sticky hands and ability to manoeuvre a marking contest to his advantage will have recruiters watching his progress closely in 2014.

The Ranges set up the win in the second quarter, when they kicked six goals to nil and established a 49-point break at half-time.

Dandenong was more competitive in the third term, with their top draft prospect Billy Hartung (22 disposals) showing his class with two goals for the quarter.

The first came after the midfielder zipped past a pack, took a bounce and slotted the shot on the run, and the second was a set shot from beyond 50 metres.

But Eastern slammed on another 10 goals in the final term to underline its status as the best team of 2013.

Defender Daniel Capiron had 20 disposals, while captain Nathan Foote finished with 19. Matt Rennie's high-flying mark in the last term was a highlight, but such was Dandenong's day, he missed the subsequent shot from close range.




James Harmes and Mitchell Honeychurch get acquainted during Sunday's contest. Picture: AFL Medai

EASTERN RANGES               4.2   10.2   14.5   24.8 (152)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS  1.4    1.7      3.7    5.10 (40)

GOALS
Eastern Ranges: Boyd 4, Honeychurch 3, Traynor 3, Welsh 3, Apeness 2, Petracca 2, Crowe, Evans, Gibson, Hannon, Keedle, O'Sullivan, Walker
Dandenong Stingrays: Hartung 2, McCartney, Rennie, Scott

BEST
Eastern Ranges: Cavarra, O'Sullivan, Walker, Petracca, Honeychurch, Welsh, Boyd
Dandenong Stingrays: Hartung, Capiron, Wilson, Foote, Newman