The Sandringham Dragons proved too strong for the Northern Knights in the second round of the NAB League
After a disappointing end to their round one match against the Western Jets, the Knights were hoping to put in a good showing against one of the strongest teams in the competition.
A goal separated the two teams at quarter-time, before the Dragons were able to extend the lead in every quarter to win 12.10 (82)-5.9 (39).
Charlie Simonsen kicked two goals for the Knights, while Joshua D’Intinosante was named their best.
Speaking before the game, Knights coach Justin Wenke said he thought the Dragons would be one of the stronger teams.
“We were pretty competitive last year and I think we will be competitive in most games this year,” he said.
“Oakleigh and Sandringham look like they will be the best teams.
“Most teams will be pretty even … anyone can beat anyone on their day.”
The loss to the Dragons leaves the Knights without a win from their opening two matches.
For most of their round one match against the Jets, they looked like winners before the Jets came home fast in the last 15 minutes to snatch victory.
Wenke said they had learnt some lessons from that match and knew they must play well for the full four quarters.
He said they put in a strong pre-season that included only two practice matches.
After having a strong bottom-age group last season, he said that had transitioned into a strong top-age group this year.
“We’ve got four boys in the metro hub, which is more than this time last year,” he said.
“We played seven first-gamers in round one and eight bottom-agers. We’re still focused on introducing bottom ager players, but we have more top-end talent.
“We want to make sure that they are getting a good run at it.
“We have our private school boys available in the first four rounds, so we’ll likely have our best team early on.”
Ryan Gardner has been named in the metro squad for a second successive year, joined by fellow top-agers Ryan Sturgess and Adam Carafa.
Bottom-ager Ben Major joins the other three in the squad.
“He is coming back from a shoulder injury,” Wenke said of Major. “He will probably be ready to resume round four or five.
“He’s one of the few bottom-agers in the squad. He’s only played one TAC [NAB League] game for us.
“We have high hopes for him. We thought we could have had another three or four players in the squad.”
Wenke said those four were among the Knights to watch this season.
He nominated Nikolas Cox, Sam Philip, Sunny Brazier, Jaden Collins and Liam McMahon as other players to watch.
The Knights’ next match will be against Eastern Ranges on Saturday.