2024 Coates Talent League: Round 14 POTW

MURRAY Bushrangers ruck Zac Harding is our Coates Talent League Player of the Week after a dominant all-round performance on Saturday. The imposing 199cm tall led all comers with 28 disposals, five marks, 26 hitouts and two goals despite his side suffering a 31-point defeat to Dandenong in Round 14.

>> Snapshot: Coates Talent League Round 14

With primary Stingrays ruck Jordan Doherty called up for Vic Country, Harding took toll against less experienced adversaries as Murray won the hitout count 46-8. Not only did he get first hand to the ball, but won it all around the ground and compounded his impact with goals in the second and third terms.

Harding was part of the initial Vic Country talent hub this year and has spent much of the season turning out for Ivanhoe Grammar in the AGSV competition, where he boards for school. The Wodonga native has also played five Coates Talent League games, with his strongest two coming most recently.

He is lauded for his size, competitiveness and follow-up work in the ruck, with St Kilda’s Rowan Marshall the prototype he moulds his game off. Harding is a Brisbane Lions supporter though, given his father Dean played 19 games for Fitzroy between 1991-1993 after being drafted out of Wangaratta.

After the Round 14 result, Harding and his Bushrangers sit eighth on the ladder with an even 5-5 record. They will enjoy a week off along with the rest of the competition as Vic Country takes on Vic Metro in Sunday’s Under 18 National Championships decider, before returning for Round 15 on Saturday July 20.

Around the grounds on the weekend, in-form key forward Harry Armstrong spearheaded Sandringham to a 27-point win over Northern, slotting four goals. Jhett Haeata bagged three from 21 touches, while Joshua Dolan racked up a game-high 26 disposals to go with six inside 50s and a single major.

Oakleigh picked up its second-straight win after defeating Eastern by 33 points. Top pick candidate Josh Smillie showed out with 26 disposals and a goal in the losing side, while bottom-age Oakleigh ruck Louis Emmett snared four goals and midfielder Zane Cochrane continued his strong form with 25 touches.

The likes of Mitchell Lloyd, Flynn Penry, and Archie Caldow stuffed the stats sheet in Greater Western Victoria’s five-goal win over Bendigo. Meanwhile, Pioneers star Archer Day-Wicks posted 24 disposals, six marks and three goals having been rotated out of the Vic Country side.

Western upset Geelong to the tune of 48 points in the final game of the round. Oskar Ainsworth (six marks, four goals) and Keighton Matofai-Forbes (eight marks, three goals) were a force up forward for the victors, while Liam Kershaw (24 disposals, 10 marks) was named the Falcons’ best afield.


Round 1: Josh Smillie (Eastern Ranges)
Round 2: Taj Hotton (Sandringham Dragons)
Round 3: Will McLachlan (Geelong Falcons)
Round 4: N/A
Round 5: Bailey McKenzie (Sandringham Dragons)
Round 6: Cooper Hynes (Dandenong Stingrays)
Round 7: Xavier Lindsay (Gippsland Power)
Round 8: Geordie Payne (Tasmania Devils)
Round 9: Jagga Smith (Oakleigh Chargers)
Round 10: Jonty Faull (GWV Rebels)
Round 11: Tobie Travaglia (Bendigo Pioneers)
Round 12: Joshua Murphy (Murray Bushrangers)
Round 13: Zane Cochrane (Oakleigh Chargers)
Round 14: Zac Harding (Murray Bushrangers)

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