Northern Knights have pulled off the upset of the NAB League season so far by beating ladder leaders the Dandenong Stingrays.
On paper, it was a contest between first and 11th, but that’s not how it played out.
After leading by 12 points at the main break, the Knights kicked 10 goals to one in the second half to win 16.12 (108)-6.5 (41)
For Knights coach Justin Wenke, the win has been a couple of weeks in the making.
“The last couple of weeks we lost by a kick to Oakleigh and then a kick and half to the Cannons,” he said.
“Those two games, we were pretty inaccurate kicking in front of goal in the last quarter.
“We were pretty confident going to Dandenong. We spoke about the areas we needed to improve.
“It didn’t feel like a shock result to us. We thought we could win and it will give us some confidence.”
Wenke said that for the most part, the Knights were happy with the first half, but that the margin could have been bigger at the main break.
He said they missed some opportunities in front of goal that could have given them a commanding lead.
His side though stuck with it, though, eventually handing the Stingrays their first lost since round five last year.
“The boys stuck to the task and tackled pretty strong,” he said. “We’re in the top three in tackles laid in the competition.
“You can gauge the effort. Credit to the players – they want to be really good at it.”
Ben Major, in his third game back from injury, kicked three goals for the Knights.
Overall, Wenke said it was a pretty even performance.
“Adam Carafa played with us as there was no school footy and he was good, as was Samuel Philp,” he said.
“We lost one ruckman before quarter time … [but] Nathan Howard did a really good job.
“Everyone contributed and there was an even spread of goal kickers.”
Both teams were missing players due to representative duty, with Knights Lachlan Potter and Ryan Strugess with the Vic Metro team.
Sunny Brazier again played with the Northern Blues in the VFL.
Despite the win, the Northern Knights remain 11th with four wins.
Wenke said there were a number of byes in the run home.
“We’re focused on keeping playing well,” he said.
There’s a competition-wide bye this weekend, before the Knights travel to Tasmania the following weekend to play the Tasmania Devils.
That round is the first of the development rounds.
“There has to be a minimum of 11 bottom agers and I think we will have more than that,” Wenke said.
“We’ll probably look at a couple of 16-year-olds. We’ll have a pretty inexperienced side.”
Meanwhile, the Calder Cannons suffered a big loss to the Northern Knights.
After an even first quarter, the Chargers blew the Cannons out of the water, winning 15.9 (99)-4.6 (30).
Benjamin Overman was named the Cannons’ best.