Bellchambers shows he's ready for finals

Tom Bellchambers and Geelong's Mark Blicavs contest in the ruck during the round seven AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Essendon Bombers at Etihad Stadium last season.
Tom Bellchambers and Geelong's Mark Blicavs contest in the ruck during the round seven AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Essendon Bombers at Etihad Stadium last season.

HE was put under the pump by his coach, and Tom Bellchambers responded with a performance that Mark Thompson says has given him a "real chance" to make his finals debut this weekend.

The former Launceston ruckman looked rusty early in Essendon's draw with Carlton on Saturday in just the seventh game of his injury-affected season, but got better as the contest went on.

The 25-year-old collected eight of his 12 touches after half-time and while he failed to have an impact personally on the scoreboard, he did had two score involvements.

But it was in his role as Paddy Ryder's back-up in the ruck and his 18 hit-outs (with Ryder winning 19 compared to Cameron Wood's 26 and Levi Casboult's 11) that represented his greatest contribution.

That output, as well as Jake Carlisle yesterday being ruled out, should be enough to see Bellchambers in the team to face North Melbourne in an elimination final at the MCG on Saturday night.

"He is definitely still in the mix," Thompson said of Bellchambers.

"I thought he was okay. He took a few marks and had a few kicks and the longer the game went the better he got.


"He'd be a real chance to play next week."

Over at North, Ben Brown, of Devonport, again provided the Roos with a forward-line spark, kicking a career-best 3.2 from 16 possessions and five marks on Lynden Dunn in the win over Melbourne.

With 11 goals in his past six games, 21-year-old Brown is shaping as a finals x-factor, as the ruckman-forward has taken the pressure of Drew Petrie.

Fellow Tasmanian Nathan Grima, played on the resting ruckman, and finished with 11 disposals, as well as a corked quad, which puts a slight injury cloud over him this weekend.

Dodges Ferry's Jeremy Howe finished his season with a 15-possession and eight-mark evening off half-back for the Demons.

Jack Riewoldt achieved something on Saturday night that he had not managed all year, consecutive weeks of a major scoreboard impact.

The Clarence forward made it 10 goals in two matches after kicking 4.1 of Richmond's 10.8 in its finals-clinching win over Sydney, also gathering 10 marks and six possessions on Ted Richards.

He finished the home and away season with 58.36 to his name, and equal fourth place in the award he has won twice, the Coleman Medal.

On Friday night, Devonport's Grant Birchall tuned up for another finals appearance with a classy 28-possession (at 86 per cent disposal efficiency) and eight-score involvement against Collingwood.

Twenty-four hours later it was a Tasmanian battle within a battle when Jackson Thurlow and Josh Green went head-to-head in Geelong's win over Brisbane.

As a contest, it was hard to split the two, Clarence's Green finishing with 3.0 from 11 touches while Launceston's Thurlow also managed a goal among his 20 possessions, as he hopes to get a start in Geelong's qualifying finals clash with Hawthorn on Friday.

Green, meanwhile, finished the year with the very impressive goal-tally of 33.13 from 20 games.

Launceston's Kade Kolodjashnij finished his rookie season with an 18-disposal and four-score involvement in Gold Coast's win over the Suns, with fellow former Blue Jesse Lonergan the sub. He collected six touches and kicked 1.0 after coming on in the third quarter.

Burnie's Maverick Weller collected 17 possessions, laid six tackles and had four score involvements in St Kilda's loss to Adelaide, to end his great first season as a Saint which saw him play 16 games.


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