GIPPSLAND POWER 12.9 (81)
GEELONG FALCONS 8.5 (53)
GIPPSLAND emerged as the clear NAB League premiership favourite after slapping down a late challenge from Geelong to win their battle of undefeated teams by 28 points at Shepley Oval on Saturday.
The Power took control late in the first quarter and held sway for the rest of the day, getting out by 22 points midway through the third term before the Falcons booted four goals to one in the space of six minutes either side of the last break to draw within four points.
But just as Geelong looked like running over the top, Gippsland found another gear and kicked the last four goals to retain its unbeaten record and send its rivals tumbling out of the top three.
Zane Duursma was the matchwinner for the Power, with the 16-year-old prodigy earning 22 disposals, taking six marks and kicking two goals in a best-on-ground display, with defender Cooper Vickery (25, nine marks, nine rebound-50s) and Jacob Konstanty (17, 14 tackles, one goal) also in fine form.
Angus Hastie was huge in defence for the Falcons, picking up 24 disposals, six marks and 10 rebounds, with Ted Clohesy (24, six inside-50s, 13 tackles) and Jhye Clark (20, nine inside-50s) heaping on the pressure in the midfield and Tom Gillet repeating his season debut performance of last week with another 4.2 in the forward line.
WESTERN JETS 9.9 (63)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 14.5 (89)
BENDIGO broke through for its first victory of the season, producing an efficient performance to down Western Jets by 26 points at Avalon Airport Oval on Sunday.
The Pioneers had shown what they were capable of when they drew with Geelong in Round 2 and they finally put it all together again, responding to a strong second quarter from the Jets to run away with the game in the second half.
Having seen a 13-point quarter-time lead turn into a seven-point deficit, Bendigo kicked eight of the last 11 goals, with a supremely accurate 14 majors from 19 scoring shots lifting it off the bottom of the ladder.
Harley Reid (30 disposals, five tackles, six inside-50s) and Pala Kuma (22, five tackles) turned in easily their most prolific games of the season for the Pioneers, while Patrick Kelly (16, nine tackles, one goal), Solly McKay (19, five marks), Jason Gillbee (19, five rebounds) and Ben Cameron (18, one goal) stepped up and Eli Pearce (six marks, four goals) and Harvey Gallagher (16 disposals, three goals) finished off the hard work in attack.
Jake Whybrow (24 possessions, 10 inside-50s) and Jaelen Pavlidis (20, five inside-50s) did their best to keep Western in the game, while Logan Morris (15, four marks, four goals) produced his best performance up forward.
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 12.16 (88)
GWV REBELS 11.10 (76)
DANDENONG withstood a big finish from GWV to hold on by 12 points at Shepley Oval on Saturday and hold its spot in the top half of the ladder.
The Stingrays looked in complete control after kicking 5.6 to 1.2 in the third quarter to take a 36-point lead turning for home, but the Rebels kicked three quick goals early in the last to halve the deficit with 15 minutes still to play and the wind at their backs.
A double strike from Ziggy Toledo and Owen Williams made things safe for the home team and although the Rebels added the last three goals, they ran out of time.
Williams was sensational Dandenong and could have had a huge day but for his finishing, ending up with 19 disposals, five marks and 4.5, while Taj Campbell-Farrell (31, 12 tackles, five inside-50s) and Finn Emile-Brennan (25, six marks, seven rebounds) were again prolific and Henry Hustwaite (21, five tackles) and Cooper Simpson (18, seven inside-50s) also played well.
Flynn Loader led from the back for the Rebels with 30 possessions and 12 rebounds, with support from Hamish Sinnott (22, five tackles, six rebounds), Jesse Cairns (16, seven tackles, two goals), Vincent Huf (19, seven tackles) and Beau Tedcastle (three goals).
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 14.9 (93)
CALDER CANNONS 8.8 (56)
OAKLEIGH bounced back from last week’s narrow loss to Geelong, moving back into second spot with a convincing 37-point triumph over Calder in its long-awaited return to Warrawee Park on Saturday.
The Chargers had the game won by half-time, leading by 38 points after kicking nine goals to three including an important strike after the siren from Jerome Lawrence – who booted 5.2 in a starring role up forward – and despite the Cannons being able to stem the bleeding and win the second half, they were never able to get closer than four goals.
Yuyu Ashwin turned in a stunning performance for Oakleigh, with his brilliant 34-disposal display also including nine marks and eight inside-50s – compared to his season averages going in of 12.2, 3.7 and 2.2 – while his three goals were his first since Round 3 and took his season tally to five.
Henry Brown (25, four marks, five entries), Alex Noblet (23, six marks, five rebounds) and third gamer Byron Parton (19, eight marks, one goal) also had comfortably their best games, while in-form Braden Andrews (28, nine marks) and Jed Rule (19, 10 marks) were again impressive.
Kade Mueller (27, eight marks) was terrific for Calder and could have been even better but for kicking 0.3, while Dane Whitnall (23, six marks, nine rebounds) had a breakout game in defence, Jack Newitt (21, four marks) got plenty of the ball again and Declan Willmore (17, five inside-50s, one goal) and Paul Pascu (17, six tackles) worked hard.
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.9 (45)
TASMANIA DEVILS 10.8 (68)
TASMANIA moved into the top three with its sixth win of the season, overwhelming Murray after half-time to win by 23 points at Highgate Reserve on Saturday.
The teams went goal-for-goal throughout the first half with the Bushrangers ekeing out an eight-point lead at the main break, but Jack Callinan and Sam Banks-Smith stunned them with goals inside 2½ minutes of the resumption to take the lead and they never looked back, adding seven majors to two for the half.
The Devils had plenty of winners as they overwhelmed the Bushrangers, with the defence led by Lachlan Cowan (29 disposals, five marks, 10 rebounds) and Tom McCallum (23, seven marks), the midfield batting deep through Liam Jones (25, nine marks, six entries), Colby McKercher (22, five marks, seven entries, one goal), Isaac Hyatt (23) and Logan Elphinstone (20) and Brandon Leary and Will Splann cashing in with three goals each.
Noah Bradshaw put in a huge effort for the Bushrangers with 30 possessions, five marks and six tackles, with Coby James and Thomas Cappellari producing identical numbers of 26 touches, six marks and five inside-50s and Nicholas Quigg (22, six marks, seven tackles, six inside-50s, one goal), Ryan Eyers (19, six marks, 19 hitouts) and Matteo Allen (20, one goal) also performing well.
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 17.10 (112)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 5.11 (41)
SANDRINGHAM welcomed its best midfield back and gave Northern Knights a stark reminder of its capabilities in thrashing the visitors by 71 points at RSEA Park on Saturday.
The Dragons have been inconsistent this season, but produced their second high-class effort of the year, featuring five goals to one in the second quarter and eight to one in the third before the Knights fought it out to win the last term.
Regular forward Harry Sheezel exploded on the ball with 37 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles, seven entries and five rebounds, possible No.1 draft pick Will Ashcroft dominated after a stint with the Brisbane Lions VFL team to rack up 36 touches, eight tackles and seven entries, Lachie Benton showed why GWS called him into its VFL team with 30, seven marks, 11 rebounds and a goal and Luke Lloyd and Hugo Birks snagged three goals each.
Jason McCormick (21, five inside-50s) and Brock Binion (20, six inside-50s) led the way for Northern, with Jarred Seiter (19, one goal) and last week’s Northern Bullants VFL debutant Liam Kolar (18, seven marks) also performing well.
BYE: Eastern Ranges
June 11-12: Queen’s Birthday General Bye.
NEXT WEEK: 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.
THEN: Saturday, June 25: Oakleigh Chargers v Dandenong Stingrays (Warrawee Park, 10.30am); Gippsland Power v Sandringham Dragons (Morwell, 1pm); Calder Cannons v Eastern Ranges (Highgate, 2.15pm); Northern Knights v GWV Rebels (Genis Steel Oval, Preston, 2.15pm). Sunday, June 26: Geelong Falcons v Murray Bushrangers (Avalon Airport Oval, 12.30pm); Bendigo Pioneers v Tasmania Devils (Highgate, 2pm). Bye: Western Jets.
(All games are streamed live on the NAB League app except for the Herald Sun game, which is on that website).