Bolstered by the inclusion of some star talent, the Sandringham Dragons recorded a 40-point victory over the Western Jets.
The Dragons backed up last week’s performance against the Northern Knights with another quality outing, moving to 5-3 in season 2022.
Superstar midfielder Will Ashcroft will need to be checked for leather poisoning after amassing an astonishing 51 disposals, leading the charge through the middle of the ground.
That record-breaking effort ranks him second for the most disposals in a NAB League match since 2005.
The Jets booted the first two goals of the contest and started the better of the two sides, with Sandringham’s inability to capitalise on their inside 50s meaning the Jets held a slender lead at quarter time.
But a Ben Hempel goal just 48 seconds into the second term kickstarted a much better quarter for the Dragons, who booted four majors for the quarter.
Cam Mackenzie’s inclusion added another dimension to the Dragons midfield whilst Mitch Rowe’s (17 disposals) leadership and elite endurance roaming the wing provided another avenue in transition for the Dragons.
Mackenzie’s (35 disposals, seven marks, six tackles) size and strength around the stoppage and polish with ball in hand was on show for all at Downer Oval.
Inaccuracy in front of goal hurt Sandringham early but a greater efficiency moving the ball forward in the second half meant better looks from better angles for the forward brigade.
Charlie Clarke’s pace and nous around the ground continues to hurt opposition sides as he becomes a real game breaker for Sandringham in their push up the ladder.
His ability to close space on defence as well makes him a headache for defenders across the league.
Harry Sheezel continued to boost his credentials with another superb performance, this time recording 33 disposals and three goals.
His power makes him a difficult match-up and he does significant damage wherever he is deployed, whether it be through the midfield or inside forward 50.
The Dragons piled on eight goals to four after quarter time to run over the top of the Jets, who ultimately were unable to keep up for long enough against an extremely talented Sandringham outfit.
Coming away with the four points meant job done for Wayne Cripps’ troops, who will undoubtedly gain plenty of confidence from this performance ahead of their clash against the undefeated Gippsland Power in Morwell next weekend.
BROTHERS IN ARMS
We’ve had the King twins, the Brayshaw clan, the Hipwell siblings and now it’s time for the Ashcroft brothers.
Highly touted youngster Will Ashcroft looms as an exciting prospect this season and the Dragons unveiled younger brother Levi against the Jets.
Playing predominantly across half forward and through the midfield, Levi was impressive on debut amassing 20 disposals and a goal.
His form in school football, for the Dragons and for Vic Metro saw him line up alongside his brother for the first time at an elite level.
“I had a lot of fun playing with Will and all the boys,” said Levi Ashcroft.
“The Western Jets were really good at the start and came out hard and were probably on top of us in the first half.
Speaking post-match, Levi reflected on his debut and emphasised how much he looks up to older brother Will.
“It was so much fun, being able to play at a higher level with him is pretty cool.
“He’s very much a role model for me. He’s got a lot of knowledge, so I bank off that.
“As well as being best mates, we’re always around each other.
It’s just the beginning for Levi, who hopes to continue to fight for his place in the Sandringham side at the conclusion of the APS competition.
“Once school footy finishes at the end of the year I’d love to play again in the finals or towards the end of the season.
“If I could do that that would be pretty cool.”
ANDREWS STANDS TALL
Ben Andrews is becoming quite the utility for the Dragons this season.
At the beginning of the NAB League campaign, Andrews was a pillar of strength in defence with his intercept marking and willingness to defend becoming key traits of his game.
However, with Max Ramsden selected by Hawthorn in the mid-season draft, Andrews was thrown into the ruck against the Jets alongside debutant Archer May.
Big Ben recorded 15 disposals, 12 hit outs and four tackles and managed to drift forward to kick two goals as well.
Aside from Ashcroft and May, three other young men pulled on the Dragons jumper for the first time in their careers and all contributed healthily to the sides win.
Darcy Gilbert manned a lockdown key defensive post and did not take a backwards step at all throughout the day, going back with the flight on multiple occasions to deny the Jets.
Luke Travers was lively up forward whilst Harrison Oliver seemingly transitioned into senior footy seamlessly, racking up 12 touches and throwing his weight around, often against bigger bodies.
“It was really good, the Jets came out hard at the start,” said Oliver.
“The ball movement was very fast; I’ve been playing in the Firsts for the Brighton Grammar team, but the bigger bodies out there was a step up.”
JETS 2.1 4.2 6.3 8.6 54
DRAGONS 1.4 5.11 9.12 13.16 94
BEST W. Ashcroft, Sheezel, Mackenzie, A. McLennan, Gilbert, Hempel