Cannons show resolve to down Bushrangers
COACH Andrew Johnston has lauded Calder Cannons’ resolve after his side fought back from six goals down to defeat Murray Bushrangers on Sunday.
The Cannons jumped to ninth on the ladder and to within reach of a finals berth after a 15.17 (107) to 15.8 (98) victory at Shepparton’s Deakin Reserve.
The Bushrangers booted the opening six majors of the Round 13 contest and were 34 points ahead after 18 minutes before a Jean-Luc Velissaris goal sparked Calder into action.
Skipper Brad Bernacki booted the last goal of the opening term to cut the margin to 29 points at the first break and give the Cannons momentum.
Calder dominated proceedings in the second quarter and hit the front after 18 minutes when Shane Skidmore goaled.
With Noah Balta a dominant presence around the ground and Mohammed Moustafa, Aidan Tilley and Velissaris dangerous up forward, the Cannons took a six-point buffer to halftime.
Only inaccuracy in front of goal prevented Calder leading at three-quarter-time, the visitors booting 2.7 in the third term as scores were tied with 30 minutes on the clock.
Murray kicked the opening two majors of the fourth quarter, putting the pressure on Calder to respond.
Led by Bernacki, Balta, Patrick Mahoney, Mitch Podhajski and Jesse Firebrace, the Cannons rallied to claim a gutsy nine-point win.
“For our guys to be able to run the game out was really pleasing, which we didn’t do last game,” Johnston said.
“Again, we learned from that. Understanding what it takes and what they can and can’t do, that’s what we are here for.”
Bernacki was brilliant again, finishing with 26 disposals and nine tackles, while Balta had 31 disposals and seven marks on his return from Vic Metro duties.
“He started in the back half and then we threw him on ball, up front as well,” Johnston said of Balta.
“We knew he could play anywhere, he did a great job.”
Deployed as a forward after impressing at Coburg in the VFL, Tilley booted 3.4 as a focal point in attack.
“He kicked three goals four and probably could have kicked five or six,” Johnston said.
“It just shows the versatility of the kid.
“He’s played a lot for us down back, he went to Coburg and showed a bit up forward so we played him up forward.”