Written by Jarryd Barca
Calder Cannons caretaker coach Brett Gourley believes a key focus going into the side’s Round 12 match against the Western Jets was to expose the club’s youth to a higher level of football.
The Cannons turned to their future by blooding 13 bottom-age players along with four debutants at Highgate Recreation Reserve on Sunday.
The several young players created plenty of spark throughout the match and showed no signs of nerves playing amongst older, draft-eligible talent.
With a vastly different looking Cannons outfit to previous weeks this season, Gourley was adamant when asked about the focus going into the match against the arch rival.
“To give them an experience of playing at this level of footy,” he said post game.
“So four first-gamers and three of those were 16 year olds – we were really pleased with the effort from all of them and I think they’re going to be better for the run.”
The Cannons broke away late in a scrappy contest where both sides seemed to have a case of the goal-kicking yips.
The scores were locked at 1.7 to 0.4 at half time before the home side experienced a drastic change of fortunes, booting five goals straight in the second half to claim bragging rights.
Gourley said he was pleased with the leadership shown by the more experienced players who led from the front foot.
“Even though our captain Brodie (Newman) wasn’t here, we had a real emphasis on making sure that we had someone else step up or a lot of those 18 year olds, even Mason (Fletcher) a 19-year-old, just to make sure that they help the younger boys out in terms of how to play the game and just give them a real confidence boost,” he said.
“I thought Rama (Sam Ramsay) was outstanding in the middle today – gave us a bit of pace through there.
“Ned’s (Gentile) ever-reliable self and Minty (stand-in captain Harrison Minton-Connell) was really good as well.
“Mason moving forward definitely helped us, kicking a couple of goals in a low-scoring game was outstanding.”
But where was the game won?
“The effort and intensity in the last quarter I thought was great,” Gourley explained.
“We sort of let ourselves down a little bit in the third (quarter) but the way we responded in the last quarter was just outstanding.”