Leaders stand tall in last term
COACH Andrew Johnston has lauded the leadership shown by Calder Cannons’ top-age players in the club’s rousing TAC Cup win over Northern Knights on Sunday.
The Cannons rallied from 17 points down at three-quarter-time to claim a 12.11 (83) to 10.6 (66) victory at Rams Arena.
Skipper Brad Bernacki, Vic Metro squad members Mitch Podhajski, Noah Balta and Dylan Landt and 19-year-olds Jean-Luc Velissaris and Aidan Tilley were crucial to the come-from-behind win, spearheading a six-goal-to-none final quarter.
Johnston said he was impressed by the maturity and belief his side displayed to clinch its second win of 2017 and first at home for the campaign.
“These guys have been in the system for a couple of years, or two or three years now,” Johnston said.
“They are the ones that should understand it and be able to produce it a lot more often.
“When it is time to really come to the fore and lead from example…they’re the guys that have been in the system and understand it and should be able to really step it up and say ‘come with me boys, we are going to get through this’.”
Bernacki was named best afield after a tireless game in midfield, while Balta shifted forward from centre-half-back to kick two crucial goals in the last term.
After booting 6.9 from 15 scoring shots to the final break, the Cannons capitalised on their territorial advantage in the last term by slamming on 6.2 to the Knights’ 0.4.
“We just thought if we were able to put the pressure on early, then you never know because the momentum can change pretty quick,” Johnston said.
“But you have got to be able to put the scoreboard pressure on.
“It is no good having five inside-50s and kicking 1.4. It sort of deflates you.
“Being able to kick a couple of goals early, we put a bit of doubt in their mind and our blokes started to believe.”
Johnston was also impressed by the efforts of bottom-age forward Curtis Taylor on his return from school football at PEGS, while Jack Bytel found plenty of the ball.
Gutsy defender Jack Evans was also named among the best players.
The victory lifted Calder off the bottom of the ladder after nine rounds, one game and percentage out of the top eight.
The Cannons return from a week off against Sandringham Dragons on Saturday, June 17.