Written by Jarryd Barca
Calder Cannons Under 18 boys assistant coach Chris Nolan named forward-mid Joshua Kemp as one of his stand out performers in the team’s Round 2 loss against the Oakleigh Chargers.
Kemp was a live-wire for the Cannons up forward booting three of the team’s seven goals of the contest, two of which coming in a five-goal second quarter blitz by the home side.
The 19-year-old collected nine disposals for the game and took three marks in an effective performance in tough conditions.
“I thought Josh Kemp was really dangerous – he looked like the ‘Kempy’ of last year at times today,” Nolan said post-game.
“You really don’t want to give him five yards as an opponent when he’s on because he can be quite mercurial.”
Two quick-succession goals on each side of Kemp’s last quarter snap in the ninth minute saw the Chargers steer clear by 23 points when the final siren sounded at a wet and windy Highgate Recreation Reserve.
Nolan also sung the praises of midfielders Harrison Minton-Connell and Sam Ramsay, as well as defenders Mason Fletcher and Brodie Newman.
The Cannons gave up a four-goal head start and were held scoreless at quarter time to trail by 28 points.
But the table completely flipped, with the Cannons returning serve to hold the fancied Chargers scoreless in a second quarter that saw the home side pile on five unanswered goals.
“It was the most animated I’ve heard Ross (coach Ross Smith) since he joined the club,” Nolan said of his quarter-time address.
Calder was also held goalless in the first half of its Round 1 match against the Sandringham Dragons, while they gave up a five-goal head start to the Eastern Ranges in a practice match a week earlier.
“It was three weeks in a row we haven’t got out of the blocks so he had every right to give the boys a rocket, he challenged a few of them and a couple of the challenged actually stood up,” Nolan said.
“The effort after quarter time was pretty good, not good enough at the end of the day but a big improvement on last week.”
The one-goal lead at half time was short lived and despite the brave effort, the Cannons recorded their second loss in as many weeks to start the NAB League season.
But it’s not all doom and gloom according to Nolan who, proud of the boys’ fightback, noticed their “desire for the contest” was a lot stronger than Round 1.
“I thought we hunted the ball a lot better,” he said.
“We found ways to stay involved, and guys that weren’t getting clean disposals found ways to get involved.
“In the end we gave up 28 points, nosed in front, five minutes to go we have the ball at the top of the forward 50 and if you penetrate deep there you just don’t know what happens.
“Instead we gave the whole length of the field and they scored, it just comes down to moments sometimes. You can get so close, but they kicked another one and it gets out to three (goals) and a bit instead of one.”
The question back to the group post-game was whether they need to revamp their pre-game preparations, after again being slow out of the blocks.
“We don’t want to be where we were today at quarter time next week,” Nolan said.
“We’ve got to, for confidence sake and reward for effort, get out of the blocks and hopefully really work towards a win next week against the Jets.”