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UPSETS IN TAC CUP by Whispering Jack

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TAC Cup Semi Day was a day of upsets with the more highly credentialed teams in both games bowing out of the finals series.

The wind was occasionally swirly but the conditions at IKON Park were fine enough to have suited good football. However, the standard of both games never reached great heights, leaving one to wonder whether this marks a general downward trend in the junior ranks of the game where other sports are attracting greater numbers or whether it was simply the pressure of a tough, hard elimination series.

At least the tussle between the Murray Bushrangers and the Oakleigh Chargers was close with the Chargers winning by a solitary goal although they were in control after the main break after a close first half. The Bushies were coming back strongly at the end and goaled on the siren but they were outplayed in the third quarter when it really counted.

Oakleigh deserved the win because it came up with a great team effort in which very few players stood out but they all combined to produce a winning outcome. The Chargers' on-ballers Kade Answerth and David Cunningham looked the best of the bunch but I'm not certain whether they're draftable. Diminutive Lachie Byrne-Jones showed great pace but at 170cm he will also struggle to attract support from recruiters.

On the other hand, there were some outstanding individuals in the losing team. We all know Josh Schache is a leading contender for the #1 draft pick in November and that his reputation is partly built on straight shooting for goal but that wasn't in evidence early when the big key forward kicked three behinds in the first half. The left footer was played all over the ground and was more comfortable up forward in the second half when he finally rammed home a couple of goals.

Morrish Medallist Clayton Oliver is a 187cm midfielder who has played senior football in the country as well as a couple of games for Richmond's VFL team as a 23rd player. In one game for the Bushrangers this season he booted six goals from the middle picking up 27 disposals and six clearances. He is strongly built and plays in the style of another Oliver - Wines from Port Adelaide and the weekend's events should see him move into the top twenty in draft calculations.

Murray Bushrangers 2.4 3.9 5.12 9.13 (67)

Oakleigh Chargers 2.4 4.6 7.10 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Murray Bushrangers: Oliver 2 Schache 2 Smith Tiziani Payne McMullan Smith

Oakleigh Chargers: Phillips 2 Walker 2 Byrne-Jones Thompson Kerr Ridley Lane Cuningham

BEST:

Murray Bushrangers: Tiziani Oliver Waite Schache Payne Brodie

Oakleigh Chargers: Byrne-Jones Answerth Beddison Walker Phillips Firns

The second game was disappointing as a spectacle and once again it was won by an underdog that played consistent team football but this time the Ranges took the lead early and dominated throughout to win by 10 goals.

I came to the ground expecting big things from Falcons players Darcy Parish, Charlie Curnow and Rhys Mathieson who are all high in draft calculations but they were overshadowed by a dominant performance from Ryan Clark of the Ranges. The midfielder was in everything, tackling hard, running hard and leading the team both inside and out. Considering that I haven't seen him in top 20 draft calculations, he was something of a revelation. He was good enough to make it into TAC Cup Team of the Year so it's clear that he's had a consistent season. Medium/small forward Blake Hardwick kicked three goals and always looked dangerous in front of goal.

Darcy Parish wasn't prolific but he is all class, can play inside and out has a great future in the game. His partner in crime Rhys Mathieson has great presence, works hard and can hold his head high despite his team's loss. Although they played in a losing team, I've seen enough of them in the middle for Vic Country in the Under 18 National Championships to be able to say that, along with a couple of northern academy midfielders (Mills and Hopper), they are the cream of the crop in this age group. The third of the noted Falcons Charlie Curnow had a poor day after a solid start with some early marks but his kicking let him down.

Geelong Falcons 1.4 3.6 4.12 6.14 (50)

Eastern Ranges 4.0 7.3 10.8 15.14 (104)

GOALS:

Geelong Falcons: McCartney 2 Kol Mathieson Blair Wagener

Eastern Ranges: Hardwick 3 Brolic 2 Stephenson 2 Collins D Clarke Mitchener Cerra Cotte Gallucci Cyster Hannon

BEST:

Geelong Falcons: Doedee Witherden Wagener Connors McNamara Kershaw

Eastern Ranges: R Clarke D Clarke Maibaum Collins Mitchener Parsons

My take from my limited viewing of the 2015 draft pool to date (the Under 18 National Championships matches shown on Foxtel, a streamed game on the AFL site and these two games) is that I would not be surprised if Melbourne was to trade away its first draft pick if the opportunity arose to pick up a quality player by way of trade. It's not so much that the players mentioned in dispatches around the mark where the Demons' first choice is likely to be aren't of interest but because you might not lose a great deal going down the order a dozen spots.

With names like Oliver, Clarke, Bonner, Milera and Weideman available a little later in the order, we could be looking once again at a trade like that which brought Dom Tyson and Christian Salem to the club two years ago.

TAC Cup Finals Wrap: Week Two Review

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