The Calder Cannons withstood the pressure thrown at them by the Northern Knights to get their fourth win in five matches in the NAB League competition.
With both sides nowhere near full strength – with representative and school football commitments – it was a test of the depth in the squads.
After an even first quarter, the Cannons hit the front in the second quarter and stayed there, winning 10.5 (65)-8.8 (56).
Assistant coach Brad Murphy coached the Cannons on Saturday, with coach Ross Smith taking on Vic Metro commitments.
Murphy, who has had a long senior coaching career, said his career had gone full circle with him coaching the Cannons, having played with them many years ago.
“It was good and it was a little ironic that one of my former Cannons’ teammates, Jay Cheep, was coaching them [Knights] , with their coach missing as well,” he said.
Murphy said the result was a good one for the club, as it continued the momentum gathered in recent weeks.
“The first quarter Northern was kicking with a one-to-two goal wind. We were able to get three early goals into the wind through Jeremy O’Sullivan.
“Northern Knights are a really good tackling side and led the tackles 22-6 at quarter-time.
“As the game wore on we got over them as the fatigue set in. They kept pushing but we never looked like losing.
“We were able to stand up under the pressure.”
After being down by 16 in the tackle count at quarter-time, the Cannons out-tackled the Knights by six across the other three quarters.
Murphy said with a number of players, including four first gamers, getting opportunities, there was definitely a hunger to get the win. O’Sullivan was the Cannons’ leading goalscorer with three.
Murphy said acting skipper Ned Gentile, Zach Molloy and Max Simpson were the three standouts in an even team effort.
For the Knights, James Lucente kicked three goals, while Ayce Taylor was named their best.
The win moves the Cannons to sixth on the ladder, with a 5-4 record.
Murphy said they were likely to have seven or eight players back in contention for selection this week. The Vic Metro players, including Daniel Mott, Brodie Newman and Harrison Jones, who played in Metro’s loss on Saturday, will again miss.
Another key player, 19-year-old Tye Browning, won’t return to the side after the Cannons decided to part ways with him. The Cannons this week face the Oakleigh Chargers.
Murphy said it was a good time to face the Chargers, who will be missing players through Vic Metro duty.
“It’ll be good to play Oakleigh to see where we are at. We were in front at three-quarter time last time we played them.
“If we can win that game, we can cement our spot in the top four or five.”