Calder Cannons continue rise up ladder after holding off Northern Knights
Written by Jarryd Barca
The Calder Cannons Under 18 boys improved their 2019 record to 5-4 after keeping the Northern Knights at bay on Saturday afternoon.
The Round 9 contest was originally meant for Highgate Recreation Reserve, before a late venue change saw the two sides do battle on a wet Preston City Oval.
The 10.5 (65) to 8.8 (56) result puts Calder seventh on the ladder leading into this week’s match against the highly-fancied Oakleigh Chargers.
Midfielders Ned Gentile (21 disposals and five inside 50s) and Zach Molloy (20 and seven tackles) were both instrumental in a contested game, while Max Simpson and Curtis Brown created plenty of drive off the half-back flank.
Football Operations Manager Matthew Burton said many players stood up in the absence of Vic Metro trio Brodie Newman, Daniel Mott and Harrison Jones.
“With our metro and PEGS kids unavailable, it’s given some others an opportunity at the level and it’s a real positive when you play four first-gamers and they’re all able to play their part,” he said.
“At this stage of the year it gives other kids an opportunity to stand up and perform when we have some of our better players absent.
“The week also provides an opportunity not only for players but with Ross (head coach Ross Smith) with Vic Metro commitments it gives an opportunity for our aspiring assistant coaches to step up and enjoy the pressures of coaching,” he added.
“It was a pretty scrappy game but you always enjoy it when your side wins ugly.”
Both sides exchanged goals in the opening term and it was Cannons tall Jeremy O’Sullivan who took the game by the scruff of the neck early with three first-quarter majors.
With scores locked at 3.1 apiece and in a game where scoring was difficult, it was the Cannons who proved more efficient in the second quarter booting four goals to one to open up what proved to be a match-winning lead.
A major highlight of the quarter was debutant Josh Eyre slotting a 45-metre snap on the run to finish off a great end-to-end team effort.
With a 17-point half time lead in Calder’s advantage, the Knights were able to wrestle back control in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to 10 points and ensure a nail-biting finish.
Simpson and Jackson Cardillo’s final-quarter majors within a minute of each other drew the margin out to 22 points.
But two late goals to the Knights meant the final margin was pegged back to nine points at the final siren.
The Cannons finished the game with 25 less disposals and three less inside 50s than their opponents despite keeping their winning record in tact with another victory.
“Even though Northern led many of the stats – they beat us in every KPI we set – we were still able to win the game which was very pleasing,” Burton said.
“We identified that Northern are a very contested side and they showcased that early on.
“After quarter time we were able to match that through our contested ball and competitiveness.
“In every game there are always areas we identify we need to work on and we look forward to another great week on the track and having our second crack at Oakleigh for the year.”