PREVIEW | 2023 Coates Talent League Grand Final
THE 2023 Coates Talent League season comes down to Sunday’s Grand Final between Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges. While the former is chasing back-to-back flags, the latter is looking to play spoiler from sixth place. We preview the big match at IKON Park.
>> Podcast: 2023 CTL Grand Final previews
NEED TO KNOW:
Who: Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
When: Sunday September 24, 11:15am AEST
Where: IKON Park, Carlton North
How to watch: via AFL website & Coates Talent League app
>> Season recap: 2023 CTL Wildcards
IN A SENTENCE
Top-ranked Metro team and reigning premier Sandringham has brought its flag defence to the final day of season 2023, but faces a hungry Eastern Ranges outfit looking to spoil the Dragons’ plans of going back-to-back.
WHERE THEY STAND
Sandringham – 3rd (1st Metro) | 9-4 | 117.3%
Eastern – 6th (4th Metro) | 8-5 | 117.6%
Round 1 | Sandringham Dragons 12.13 (85) def. Eastern Ranges 10.11 (71)
Sandringham – WWWW | LL | WWWWW | LL | WWW
Eastern – L | WW | L | WW | LL | WWWW | L | WWW
Sandringham def. Western Jets by 54 points.
Eastern def. Calder Cannons by 79 points.
Sandringham def. Northern Knights by 52 points.
Eastern def. Oakleigh Chargers by 7 points.
Sandringham def. Geelong Falcons by 34 points.
Eastern def. Tasmania Devils by 40 points.
B: #47 L. Voss – #54 O. Murphy – #30 N. Sullivan
HB: #18 M. Carroll – #25 B. McGee Galimberti – #9 A. Roberts
C: #22 W. Nish – #15 R. Sanders – #17 T. O’Leary
HF: #4 W. Brown (c) – #29 H. Johnston – #58 M. Reid
F: #23 C. Harrop – #11 C. Dear – #70 A. May
FOL: #32 V. Visentini – #3 L. Ashcroft – #28 C. Edwards
INT: #2 E. Williams, #10 M. Szonyi, #16 L. Lloyd, #40 C. Lord, #71 J. Dolan
EMG: M. Enders, T. Hotton, L. Trainor
B: #18 B. LaPlanche (c) – #59 C. Trembath – #55 R. Maclean
HB: #34 B. Spencer – #15 L. Tovey (c) – #41 R. White
C: #1 C. Windsor – #12 J. Hider – #21 R. Cantwell
HF: #4 J. Ryan – #5 N. Watson – #39 I. Tanzimat
F: #20 J. Vippond – #13 R. Weatherill – #35 L. George
FOL: #49 L. Monteath – #23 T. Sruk – #9 C. Moraes
INT: #6 J. Galstians, #7 C. Anderson, #17 J. Baldwin, #42 L. Wright, #44 S. Macdonald
EMG: L. Guymer, J. Mooney, B. Wilson
ONES TO WATCH
Where to start? Sandringham has a star-studded starting midfield featuring Larke Medallist Ryley Sanders, gun bottom-ager Levi Ashcroft, and fast rising prospect Charlie Edwards. What’s more is that Vigo Visentini has really found his groove in the ruck.
The likes of Harvey Johnston and Murphy Reid will also rotate through the engine room, offering a touch of speed and class respectively. Much of Sandringham’s drive and quick ball movement comes from the back, sparked by Archie Roberts and recent returnee Matt Carroll, among others.
A range of tall threats also make up the Dragons’ forward line, but potentially the most significant key position matchup will see defender Ollie Murphy take on Eastern spearhead Riley Weatherill. The 195cm forward has cashed in with 11 goals this finals series.
Eastern’s relatively tall back line will have its hands full on Sunday, though co-captain Joshua Tovey and Cooper Trembath have been resolute of late. The Ranges’ most likely match-winner is Nick Watson, who should be bursting to break through with a massive finals performance.
Elsewhere, the likes of Tyson Sruk and Cody Anderson have a mighty task ahead of them in midfield, while bottom-ager Christian Moraes will look to hurt the Dragons going forward. Wingmen Caleb Windsor and Ry Cantwell also have the ability to feed Eastern’s potent forward line.
In terms of who’s missing, Eastern will be without starting 23 players Cam Nyko and Josh Smillie through injury, but has been just about unchanged over the last month. Meanwhile, Sandringham has the unique bonus of coming in at relative full strength, with players who would be starters at any other region set to miss the selection cut.
Both sides have jelled nicely at the right time and lay claim to impressive post-season victories. Eastern has serious belief in its system and Sandringham has serious top-end talent, so it will be interesting to see which factor wins out. It was a similar story heading into last year’s decider, which the Dragons took out with style points. This one should be closer.
Winner: Sandringham Dragons by 10 points.
BOG: Ryley Sanders (Sandringham Dragons)
Most goals: Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)