Cannons back in finals mix...
CALDER Cannons will spend the bye week plotting a tilt at a TAC Cup finals berth after putting themselves back in the mix with a 16-point win over Bendigo Pioneers on Sunday.
The Cannons next take the field against Dandenong Stingrays on July 8, giving the club time to plan for a seven-match stretch which will determine the outcome of its season.
Coach Andrew Johnston is confident Calder can challenge any side if it brings the same intensity it showed in the opening half of its 13.16 (94) to 11.12 (78) win at Rams Arena.
“We have just got to keep improving and put four quarters together,” Johnston said.
“If we can do that at the level we showed in that first half on the weekend, we can give it to anybody really.”
Lucas Cavallaro was a standout in defence against Bendigo, finishing with 11 disposals, three marks and three tackles in a composed performance.
Skipper Brad Bernacki maintained his red-hot form with 29 possesions and eight tackles, while Ben Caluzzi played arguably his best game of the year.
Rotating between defence and midfield, Caluzzi had 28 disposals and reeled in four marks, providing valuable support for the Cannons skipper.
“I think I put in on them last week, we can’t rely on Brad each week,” Johnston said.
“We need these guys (to stand up), there are not too many senior top-age guys.
“When they are in there, they need to be able to share some of the load and Benny certainly did that.”
Best afield honours were awarded to bottom-age player Curtis Taylor, who took five marks, laid five tackles and booted three goals from 16 possessions.
The Cannons had to withstand a second-half fightback from the Pioneers to record their third win of 2017 after the visitors cut the deficit to one point during the third quarter.
Goals from Jacob McNicol, Bernacki, Liam Middleton and Mason Fletcher helped the Cannons arrest momentum and post a hard-fought win.
“In the first half, it was really pleasing,” Johnston said.
“The pressure we were able to put on them (to) turn the ball over and put some scoreboard pressure, all that was really pleasing and what we have been working toward."