TASMANIA DEVILS 8.19 (67)
EASTERN RANGES 10.6 (66)
BRANDON Leary booted the matchwinning goal with the last kick of the game as Tasmania came from 35 points down just before quarter-time to steal a dramatic one-point win over Eastern Ranges despite doing everything in its power to lose at UTAS Stadium on Saturday.
The Ranges were untouchable as they piled on the first six goals of the game before Leary got one back on the siren, and the Devils slowly started to pull back the deficit despite some horrid kicking for goal, including 2.8 in the third term that left them 13 points down despite having had 22 scoring shots to 15.
But after still trailing by 11 points at the 18-minute mark of the last term, the home team straightened up just in time, with goals to Colby McKercher and Jack Callinan grabbing the lead with five minutes left before Eastern’s Mason Helleran looked like he had pinched it back when he won a holding-the-ball free kick and then a 50m penalty to goal from the line with just 72 seconds on the clock.
The drama wasn’t over, however, as Tasmania received a free for a centre square infringement and ruckman Logan Elphinstone pumped the ball inside 50 where Leary roved a marking contest and snapped a great goal from 30m out with 16 seconds to go – not enough time for a restart.
While Leary (17 disposals, six tackles, five inside-50s, 3.3) was the hero for the Devils, Liam Jones (32, 12 marks, 10 inside-50s) recorded a stunning triple double, Lachlan Cowan (31, seven marks, six inside-50s, six rebounds) dominated at both ends and McKercher (27, seven marks, nine inside-50s, one goal) outstanding through the middle.
Connor Smith (20, six marks, six tackles, five inside-50s, one goal) led the way for Eastern, Lewis Hayes (23, seven rebounds) and Lachlan Reidy (20, five marks, five rebounds) were terrific in defence, and Callum Verrell and Jye Peacock had 18 and a goal each further up the ground
GEELONG FALCONS 11.7 (73)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 10.11 (71)
GEELONG moved into second spot on the NAB League ladder when it came from behind to pip Oakleigh by two points in a thrilling battle of two undefeated teams at Mars Stadium on Saturday.
The Falcons had seen a nine-point half-time lead eroded by a six-goal-to-three third quarter from the Chargers, but the 13-point deficit was no impediment as they kicked three majors in seven minutes to take the lead.
Kynan Brown hit back for Oakleigh to level the scores, but Geelong had the answers with behinds to Tobyn Murray and Will Baker to move to 5-0-1 from its six matches.
Jhye Clark was clearly the standout performer for the winners with 28 disposals, five marks, seven tackles and five inside-50s, with tall forward Tom Gillet taking seven marks and booting four goals in his first game for the season and Ted Clohesy (19, six inside-50s) also having a strong day.
The Chargers also had plenty of winners, with defender Scott Beilby a contender for best-on-ground with 25 touches, 13 marks and eight rebound-50s, while Braden Andrews (24, five marks, seven inside-50s, one goal), Jed Rule (22, 10 marks, five rebounds), Brown (25, one goal) and Will Sexton (22) also performed well.
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 10.9 (69)
GIPPSLAND POWER 14.9 (93)
GIPPSLAND retained top spot on the ladder after holding off a third-quarter rally to account for Murray by 20 points at Wangaratta’s Norm Minns Oval on Sunday.
The Power brushed the Bushrangers by 49 points in the opening round and looked on track to repeat the dose when they kicked six goals to two in the first quarter before adding another four to two in the second to lead by 35 at the main break.
But Murray hit back with four goals to one in the third quarter to close within 16 and got as close as 12 with six minutes left before the visitors steadied and Zane Duursma (19 disposals, six inside-50s, 2.3) finished it off with the final kick of the day.
Cooper Vickery (25, nine marks, nine rebounds) and Joel Scholtes (24, six marks, six rebounds) were towers of strength in defence for Gippsland, Jonti Schuback (19, one goal) was important in the middle and Jacob Konstanty (three goals) and Duursma did the job in attack.
Caleb Mitchell produced a blistering game for the Bushrangers, picking up 31 possessions, seven marks, six inside-50s and two goals, Nicholas Quigg (26, six marks, six inside-50s) and Noah Bradshaw (25, six marks, five tackles) had their fifth 20-plus games in six matches and Tyler Norton (23, five marks), Ryan Eyers (18, 12 marks) and Joeve Cooper (three goals) also had fine games.
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 14.10 (94)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 9.19 (73)
DANDENONG handled the slippery Friday night conditions with aplomb as they swamped Sandringham in the second quarter before cruising to a 21-point win at Shepley Oval.
The Stingrays trailed by a point just after the first break but exploded with five goals in nine minutes as their skill level left the Dragons in the dark, led by a stunning 40-disposal, six-mark, 10-inside-50 performance from Taj Campbell-Farrell and a quality four-quarter display from backman Finn Emile-Brennan (28, eight marks, 10 rebounds).
Sandringham hit back with four goals in 10 minutes early in the third quarter to draw within three points as Lachie Benton (34, five inside-50s, six rebounds) knocked up winning the ball, but the home team found the answers with three late majors to re-establish its advantage.
Henry Hustwaite was important early for Dandenong and finished with 22 disposals, Nick Collier dimmed the effectiveness of Dragons star Will Ashcroft despite the possible No.1 draft pick still having 27 touches, eight marks and six tackles, Cooper Simpson had 19 and a goal, Finn Jakstas 19 and six rebounds and Jesse Davidson-Lopo kicked three goals on debut.
Charlie Clarke (25, six marks, one goal), Hugo Hall-Kahan (21, one goal), Harry Sheezel (18, one goal) and Chris Rousakis (15, one goal) were all terrific for Sandringham but blotted their copybooks with some simple misses as they kicked 4.11 of their team’s woeful 9.19 between them, while Luca Macnab (20), James Creighton (18), Max Ramsden (six marks, two goals) and debutants Toby McMullin (five marks, two goals) and Ethan Smith (17) also impressed.
GWV REBELS 14.9 (93)
WESTERN JETS 6.9 (45)
GWV moved into the top eight with a convincing 48-point win over Western Jets in their Mars Stadium double header clash on Saturday.
After an even first half saw the Rebels edge to a six-point lead, they stepped it up a notch with 9.5 to 2.5 to lift both their win-loss record and percentage into the black and stay in touch with the top teams.
Aaron Cadman impressed for Victoria Country against the Colgate Young Guns last month and backed it up with five goals without a miss for GWV to take his tally to 13 in five games, with Brady Wright and Felix Fogaty (three each) also cashing in on the class Hugh Bond (27, eight tackles), Tom Baulch (21, seven marks), James Van Es (19, nine marks, eight rebounds) and Flynn Loader (22).
The Jets sorely missed star performer Massimo D’Ambrosio, although Adam Azzopardi (23, eight tackles, one goal), Jaelen Pavlidis (24, five inside-50s), Jovan Petric (three goals) and Nathan Dowdy (38 hitouts) did their best to help cover him.
BENDIGO PIONEERS 10.9 (69)
CALDER CANNONS 16.11 (107)
SIX unanswered goals in the second quarter saw Calder turn a danger match into a comfortable win as it accounted for Bendigo by 38 points at Swan Hill on Sunday.
The Pioneers kicked three of the first six goals and looked like they could push for their first win, but the Cannons lit the fuse and banged on the next eight goals until up to the main break to lead by 53 and have the game in their keeping.
Calder shared the workload, with William Hubik kicking four goals and Paul Pascu (22, seven tackles, seven inside-50s, one goal), Jack Newitt (22, eight tackles, one goal), Tom O’Sullivan (22, five marks, five inside-50s) and 16yo second-gamer Kade Mueller (21) all in terrific touch.
Ben Cameron (19, five tackles, four goals) was Bendigo’s best, Corbin Anderson (28, five marks), Harley Reid (23, five tackles, seven inside-50s, Solly McKay (21) and Malik Gordon (three goals) providing solid assistance.
BYE: Northern Knights
ROUND 9: Saturday, June 4: Oakleigh Chargers v Calder Cannons (Warrawee Park, 10am); Dandenong Stingrays v GWV Rebels (Shepley Oval, 11.30am, Herald Sun); Murray Bushrangers v Tasmania Devils (Highgate, 12pm); Sandringham Dragons v Northern Knights (RSEA Park, 1pm); Gippsland Power v Geelong Falcons (Shepley Oval, 2pm). Sunday, June 5: Western Jets v Bendigo Pioneers (Avalon Airport Oval, 1pm). Bye: Eastern Ranges.
NEXT WEEK: June 11-12: Queen’s Birthday General Bye.
THEN: Saturday, June 18: Northern Knights v Eastern Ranges (Genis Steel Oval, Preston, 11am); GWV Rebels v Oakleigh Chargers (Mars Stadium, 11.30am); Tasmania Devils v Dandenong Stingrays (North Hobart Oval, 12pm); Geelong Falcons v Calder Cannons (Mars Stadium, 2pm). Sunday, June 19: Bendigo Pioneers v Murray Bushrangers (Mildura, 11.30am); Western Jets v Sandringham Dragons (Williamstown, 1pm). Bye: Gippsland Power.
(All games are streamed live on the NAB League app except for the Herald Sun game, which is on that website).