Tag: NAB League

Cannons survive wildcard thriller

Written by Jarryd Barca

Come-from-behind win seals Cannons’ finals berth

They did it the hard way, but Calder has secured its position in the NAB League finals with a heart-stopping six-point win over Tasmania during Wildcard Round.

The Cannons suffered an after-the-siren loss against the ladder-leading Ranges last weekend.

But in a change of fortuity, this time they ran over the top of the Devils who were looking to take a scalp and enter the finals proper from 13th position.

Tasmania held a five-point three-quarter time advantage which had Calder staring down the barrel of a second-successive Wildcard Round defeat, having been pipped by the Geelong Falcons in 2018.

And with their season on the line, the desperate Cannons booted the opening three goals of the final quarter to record the 9.9 (63) to 7.15 (57) victory and keep their season alive.

Assistant coach Chris Nolan said he was pleased with the boys’ efforts to rally behind each other and edge past the Devils.

“It probably started in the middle,” he said.

“Hotch (ruckman Josh Hotchkin) was enormous for us today. We got first use, the ball started going forward a bit more consistently than it had all day and we probably made the most of some more opportunities.”

Tasmania continued to threat in the last term and put Cannons defenders under pressure with a 17 inside 50 effort, compared to Calder’s 11.

But many stood tall for their teammates when the going got tough.

“I thought our defence was really good, especially late,” Nolan said.

“Keeps (Jack Keeping) was phenomenal on a wing in the last quarter and admittedly he’d been down to that point, so to keep his head up, stay positive and have an impact says a bit about Jack and how far his footy’s come.

“The skipper was good as always – just read the flight of the ball and him and Cody Brand were both exceptional late in defence.”

No strangers to a nail-biter, the past three Cannons matches have all finished with an accumulative margin of just 14 points.

Their ability to respond when challenged and overcome adversity is a trait the Nolan believes will hold them in good stead this finals series.

“I think there’s a real connection in the group. We seem a lot more united now than we did after say four rounds, we know each other’s strengths and we have a great trust in each other,” he said.

“We’ve got every faith that the group can still go for a few weeks yet, providing they play their best football.”

Sam Ramsay was yet again the most prolific in the engine room, amassing 33 disposals and 11 marks at Highgate Recreation Reserve.

Midfield counterpart Harry Minton-Connell (19 touches) played a pivotal role – with the first two goals of the last quarter both coming off his boot.

But the road blocks for Tasmania were Campbell Edwardes and Lachlan Gollant, who both combined for an impressive – and equally crucial – 19 marks.

Nolan said it was cleaner ball movement moving forward in the final stanza that enabled the Cannons to make the most of their slim opportunities.

“Having only gone inside 50 12 times in a half, a little bit more hand ball receive – which we seemed to get through Simpson and the like, Curtis Brown off half back – was the key,” he said.

“They dictated us a lot with their pressure and tackling in the first half and we really let them off. But we were a lot more cautious with the footy in the second half.

“We were able to get it on our terms at the right times to hold on.”

Calder will take on the eighth-placed Dandenong Stingrays in an elimination final this Sunday at Ikon Park.

The two sides previously met back in Round 13 where the Cannons showed no mercy in a 68-point drubbing at Highgate Recreation Reserve.

Cannons go down after siren

Written by Jarryd Barca

Stolen at the death

The Calder Cannons’ fifth consecutive win was snatched at the jaws of defeat in the final game of the NAB League home-and-away season.

Going into Round 17 with a four-game winning streak, Calder flexed its finals credentials against the top-of-the-table Eastern Ranges – despite losing with the last kick of the game.

The Cannons were five-point leaders at the last change of ends, with that lead extended to 12 when Jeremy O’Sullivan capitalised after 10 minutes.

The Ranges booted two in under a minute to lock the scores at 55 apiece as Avalon Airport Oval was treated to a grandstand finish.

Mason Fletcher was able to edge the home side’s noses in front again with a long-range launch from outside the arch.

The Cannons peppered the inside 50s in the dying stages and had chances to seal the game, but only managed two behinds.

And in heartbreaking circumstances, the Ranges surged the ball forward one last time and locked away a four-point win on the final buzzer.

Assistant coach Brett Gourley was impressed with the players’ ability to take it right up to the minor premiers.

“When you lose any game with a kick after the siren it’s obviously pretty disappointing, but to do what we did against the best team in the competition is a real credit to the boys,” he said.

Calder finished fifth on the ladder following the 9.9 (63) to 10.7 (67) result, winning a total of nine matches for the season.

And they should be taking ample confidence into this week’s Wildcard Round fixture against the Tasmania Devils having registered wins in six of their last seven matches.

“They’ve played some really good footy and we’re starting to gel as a team at the right time of the year,” Gourley said.

“I think it’s a really even competition – anything’s possible and on any day.

“The way this competition works, any team can beat any team.

“We’re really confident heading into this finals campaign and I think the boys should be too.”

Sam Ramsay closed out his home-and-away season with another best-afield 27 touches, seven tackles and five inside 50s.

Midfield counterpart Daniel Mott was also prominent with 21 touches, 10 clearances and six inside 50s, while Jake Sutton (three goals) was the most dangerous of the forwards.

Gourley said the side has come a long way since losing the opening game of the season against Sandringham by 109 points.

“We were having a look at our stats throughout the course of the week to clearly see that this team has improved a hell of a lot,” he said.

“We’re really pleased with our progress – we just have to take that into finals.”

Head coach Ross Smith was as equally proud, optimistic of the Cannons’ ability to compete against the best.

“Eastern’s strength is their clearance numbers, contested ball, tackling and we matched them in all departments,” he told heraldsun.com.au.

“We’re really buoyed by the way we played … we’ve got to learn from the experience, we’ve got to be disappointed but positive and use it to drive us.”

A dozen Cannons headed to combines

Twelve Calder Cannons players will attend the 2019 NAB AFL, AFLW and State Draft Combine later this year.

Georgia Patrikios, Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore will be among 25 NAB League girls invitees to the NAB AFL Women’s Draft Combine to be held in Melbourne in early October.

AFLW clubs shortlist their preferred players to attend the Combine, with each of the 45 players invited receiving at least one AFLW club nomination.

The combine will test players’ skills, agility and strength through a series of tests including the 20-metre sprint and vertical jump, along with goal-kicking and marking tests.

After impressing with Vic Metro, Harrison Jones and Daniel Mott also caught the eye of recruiters and will join 21 others from the metro region to trial at the NAB AFL Draft Combine to be held from Tuesday, October 1 to Friday, October 4.

Prospects needed to be nominated by at least four clubs to head to the national Combine, with each AFL club asked to select a list of their 50 preferred players to attend.

AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan said the combine is an opportunity for players to showcase their skills before the 2019 NAB AFL Draft.

“The Draft Combine sees the best players from across Australia gather to showcase their abilities both physically and mentally in front of club recruiters,” he told nableague.com.au.

“Clubs receive a final chance to assess players from their skills testing at the Draft Combine, and they are able to conduct one-on-one interviews across the week to analyse the personalities of the players.

“The on and off-field assessments assist AFL clubs in making their decisions for the upcoming NAB AFL Draft in November.”

The NAB AFL Draft Combine will move from Marvel Stadium for the first time since 2011, with a new venue yet to be confirmed.

A further seven Cannons – Curtis Brown, Brodie Newman, Sam Ramsay, Jeremy O’Sullivan, Nathan Stewart, Lachlan Gollant and Francis Evans – have been invited to the State Draft Combine, which will run following the conclusion of the national NAB AFL Draft Combine.

Players needed to receive at least two nominations from AFL clubs to be invited to attend the State Draft Combine.

The dozen Cannons will join 185 others from across Australia to showcase their AFL potential.

The club wishes the 12 invitees all the very best.

Cannons sneak past Rebels in thriller

Written by Jarryd Barca

We’re very proud of the kids. They were phenomenal.

– Assistant Coach Chris Nolan.

The Calder Cannons find themselves equal-second on the NAB League ladder after scraping past the GWV Rebels in Round 15.

The home side was able to keep the Cannons at arms length for most of the day and even drew the lead out to 23 points nearing stoppage time in the third term.

But in a show of pure resilience, Calder was able to kick five of the last six goals of the match to pip the Rebels and secure its fourth win in a row.

The Rebels recorded 70 more disposals over the four quarters and held the ascendancy in most key areas.

But despite never really controlling the game, Cannons assistant coach Chris Nolan said it was one of their proudest wins of the season.

“We’re very proud of the kids. They were phenomenal,” he said post game.

“It was pretty frustrating to be truthful, it just felt like we were moments away but just couldn’t control the game.

“They were pretty good. Our pressure was good enough, our execution forward of centre probably not.

“We could’ve certainly had things in control a lot earlier but to pull it off with 10 minutes to go – you’ll take it.”

Midfielder Sam Ramsay led from the front in another eye-catching performance, picking up 33 disposals, 12 tackles, seven inside 50s and five clearances in the win.

Ned Gentile was also influential with 21 disposals and five tackles, but it was his ability to step up when it mattered most with three important goals that came to the fore.

Nineteen-year-old Mason Fletcher booted 3.3 and took five marks as the side’s focal point in the forward 50.

But the collective effort of the group to stand tall and not give in despite things not going their way was the overriding factor in the result.

Nolan gave praise to his many standouts.

“Sam Ramsay is going as good as I’ve seen a block of form since I’ve been at the club,” he said.

“To be able to go from an outside running type defender-wingman to what he’s doing on the inside now as a midfielder – win his own ball – has been great.

“Jackson Cardillo has been an outstanding bottom-ager all year, his ability o compete, win his own ball and apply pressure, he was really good.

“Josh Eyre – I wouldn’t say a breakout game but he’s not far away, he was composed, he took some great, really important marks deep and used it by foot beautifully at pressured times.

“Harrison Andronaco as a 15-16 year-old … he was actually a real barometer. Him and Flynn Gentile as kids to do what they did today, they just give an injection of not just enthusiasm but they actually bring a bit of pace that we lack.”

“And ‘Fletch’ – Mason’s had seven shots at goal today, once he works or gets his head around the understanding of the actual forward role as such and the actual work load required like getting up and down and working sideways – there’s a few tricks there within the boy.”

Nolan said the composure shown by the leaders of the group and making the right decisions at the right times – such as winning the ball back at crucial times and knowing when to cause stoppage or restart – was “really important”.

“I think this win will do wonders for their confidence even for what’s left of our season,” he said.

“The emotion when they sung the song and to see the boys united, even with the four or five 15-16 year olds today, the group – they sensed that it was such a hard-fought win and they were spent.

“Just to see the joy it brought them, sometimes you do have to work hard and do it ugly but they actually got a really good reward today and I think when the dust settles they’ll realise the significance of what they’ve achieved.”

The Cannons will lap up another bye week before returning for their final home-and-away match of the season against the Eastern Ranges at Avalon Airport Oval on August 17.

Patrikios earns All-Australian honours

Calder Cannons graduate Georgia Patrikios has been named in the 2019 NAB AFL Women’s Under-18 All Australian team.

The announcement comes just two weeks after being named Vic Metro and AFLW Under-18 Championships MVP after a stellar campaign representing the Metro.

The 2019 NAB League Girls captain was one of 10 players from the NAB League competition to be selected in the squad.

Patrikios, a prolific ball-winner who led the Cannons to this year’s grand final played at Ikon Park, averaged 22.8 disposals, 2.8 clearances and 4.5 tackles during the carnival – justifying her spot as one of six midfielders.

The 18-year-old is also set to make her VFLW debut tomorrow for Essendon in its clash against Williamstown at Downer Oval.

The club would like to congratulate Georgia and wish her all the best as she dons the sash for the first time tomorrow.

Three in a row for Cannons

The Calder Cannons sit just percentage outside the top four on the NAB League ladder after holding off the Bendigo Pioneers by 20 points on Sunday. 

Both teams lapped up a rare winter’s day with hardly a cloud in sight for the Round 14 contest played at Queen Elizabeth Oval. 

After a goal-for-goal opening quarter Calder enjoyed what proved to be a match-winning 15-minute purple patch when it booted the opening four goals of the second term. 

Jake Sutton’s third major in the last quarter drew the margin out to an unassailable 37 points.

And while the home side booted the final three goals of the contest, the Cannons did enough to earn their eighth win of the season – and fifth in six matches.

“It was a pretty frustrating game where we were quite inconsistent across the four quarters,” Football Operations and Admin Coordinator Matthew Burton said. 

“We played patches of the brand of football that we expect from the boys and we also had some really poor lapses of concentration and effort.

“Credit to Bendigo who kept coming at us and applied pressure all day, really making us work for it.

“Five wins in six matches is a credit to the boys that they’ve been able to find ways to win on a regular basis.” 

Midfielder Harrison Minton-Connell led the field with 34 disposals and two goals, while Sam Ramsay (28 and one) and Ned Gentile (18 and five tackles) were strong support acts on-ball. 

Jake Sutton was an imposing target in the front half and posed several headaches for the Pioneers defence, finishing the game with three goals, 18 possessions, four marks and seven inside 50s. 

Half-back Curtis Brown and tall utility Campbell Edwardes – who showed continued improvement playing up the ground – were also named in the best players. 

“Some of our consistent players once again were standouts for us in Ramsay, Minton-Connell and Gentile who all again were brilliant,” Burton said. 

“Cody brand is a bit of an unsung hero as a 17-year-old down back, he is rarely beaten and one on one he’s terrific.

“Jake Sutton’s last two games have been outstanding. We’ve been wrapped with Jake. 

“It was also exciting to see Harrison Andronaco in his first game do some really nice things as a small forward, we were wrapped with how he went.” 

The Cannons will look to make it four in a row when they travel to Ballarat to take on the GWV Rebels in Round 15.

But the Rebels are coming off a morale-boosting 35-point win over the Geelong Falcons, boding as a great opportunity and another challenge that Burton says the side is looking forward to. 

“We get to go to Ballarat which is a pretty underrated venue, the ground is always in extremely good nick and the facilities are second to none,” he said. 

“They’re coming off a really good win and have got their Vic Country boys back. They’re a side that we cannot take lightly. 

“We need to iron out our deficiencies in the next month before we get to the real pointy end of the season,” Burton added. 

“We can’t afford to have lapses like we did (against Bendigo) or the better sides at the back end of the year will take full advantage of them.

“This week is a game that will provide some real opportunity for boys to stake their claim with some PEGS and Assumption boys unavailable due to AGS finals and we wish them all the best.” 

Red-hot Cannons show Stingrays no mercy

Written by Jarryd Barca

The Calder Cannons head into this week’s Development Weekend with two wins in a row after crushing the Dandenong Stingrays by 68 points in Round 13.

Calder soared to a 45-point lead at half time after booting seven of the first nine goals of the clash at Highgate Recreation Reserve, before showing the Stingrays no mercy in a seven-goal final quarter onslaught. 

The Cannons were coming off a spirited 22-point win over highway rivals Western Jets last week in Futures Round and backed it up with a similar-looking youthful outfit – electing not to play Vic Metro trio Daniel Mott, Harry Jones and Brodie Newman. 

The win sees the Cannons leap frog the Stingrays into 6th spot on the NAB League ladder. 

Midfielder Sam Ramsay was again the most prolific player on the ground finding the ball on 32 occasions, while Jackson Cardillo (27 and a goal) and Ned Gentile (23 and two) continued their season-long form. 

Running defenders Curtis Brown and Max Simpson provided plenty of drive off the half-back line and had critical synergy with teammates ahead of the ball.    

Jake Sutton (17 touches, nine marks and two goals) also played his best game for the club. 

Winning every critical stat on the day including disposals (+85) and marks (+34), Calder’s arial prowess shone above all recording 19 for the entire contest – its most in a single game this season.

Talls Mason Fletcher (four goals and six marks) and Jeremy O’Sullivan (two and five) showed that in spades.

Sam Paea in his second game also provided a strong target up forward.

“We had a real emphasis pre-game on contested ball and our pressure around the football and it was terrific for the boys to respond to Ross and the coaches’ messages around these focus areas needing to improve,” Football Operations and Admin Coordinator Matthew Burton said. 

“We’re still having lapses at the half time break where we seem to take our foot off the gas a little bit, but the way we started the game and then how we responded after three-quarter time to run out the game really strong was some of the best team football we’ve played all year.

“Two wins in a row with a majority of inexperienced players having played over the past two weeks has been fantastic for the group.

“A good problem to have is when selection becomes really difficult with so many players putting their hand up for selection. 

“Our midfielders set the tone on the weekend with Jackson Cardillo playing his best game for the club.

“Sam Ramsay having a change of role this year and becoming more of an inside midfielder has been fantastic.

“Nathan Stewart joining our squad late once the season had started has provided another midfield option for us and has held his own.  

“Once again Ned Gentile gave us four quarters of effort. 

“It’s one of those weeks where we could honestly mention every player that played. Every player contributed on the weekend which was very pleasing.”

The Cannons will enjoy another week off before making the trek down to Queen Elizabeth Oval to take on the Bendigo Pioneers in an attempt for three consecutive wins.

Youngsters will be “better for the run”: Gourley

Written by Jarryd Barca

Calder Cannons caretaker coach Brett Gourley believes a key focus going into the side’s Round 12 match against the Western Jets was to expose the club’s youth to a higher level of football.

The Cannons turned to their future by blooding 13 bottom-age players along with four debutants at Highgate Recreation Reserve on Sunday.

The several young players created plenty of spark throughout the match and showed no signs of nerves playing amongst older, draft-eligible talent. 

With a vastly different looking Cannons outfit to previous weeks this season, Gourley was adamant when asked about the focus going into the match against the arch rival.

“To give them an experience of playing at this level of footy,” he said post game. 

“So four first-gamers and three of those were 16 year olds – we were really pleased with the effort from all of them and I think they’re going to be better for the run.”

The Cannons broke away late in a scrappy contest where both sides seemed to have a case of the goal-kicking yips. 

The scores were locked at 1.7 to 0.4 at half time before the home side experienced a drastic change of fortunes, booting five goals straight in the second half to claim bragging rights. 

Gourley said he was pleased with the leadership shown by the more experienced players who led from the front foot. 

“Even though our captain Brodie (Newman) wasn’t here, we had a real emphasis on making sure that we had someone else step up or a lot of those 18 year olds, even Mason (Fletcher) a 19-year-old, just to make sure that they help the younger boys out in terms of how to play the game and just give them a real confidence boost,” he said.

“I thought Rama (Sam Ramsay) was outstanding in the middle today – gave us a bit of pace through there. 

“Ned’s (Gentile) ever-reliable self and Minty (stand-in captain Harrison Minton-Connell) was really good as well.

“Mason moving forward definitely helped us, kicking a couple of goals in a low-scoring game was outstanding.”

But where was the game won?

“The effort and intensity in the last quarter I thought was great,” Gourley explained. 

“We sort of let ourselves down a little bit in the third (quarter) but the way we responded in the last quarter was just outstanding.” 

Young Cannons too good for Jets

Written by Jarryd Barca

The Calder Cannons have retained the Shane Sexton McDonald’s Cup after a hard-fought 22-point win over the Western Jets in Round 12 of the NAB League season.

It was a scrappy affair at Highgate Recreation Reserve as no side registered a goal until the second term, with Calder holding on for a retentive 6.7 (43) to 2.9 (21) triumph. 

Despite the inaccuracy which plagued both teams, the home side booted five goals straight in the second half to run away with their sixth win of the season coming off a two-week break.

The ‘futures’ fixture required clubs to select at least 11 players who are currently in their 16th or 17th year, with team line-ups allowed to consist of up to 24 players. 

The Cannons fielded 13 bottom-age players who all showed signs of things to come. 

Sam Ramsay (31 disposals and eight tackles) was a clear standout through the middle of the ground, while fellow top-agers Curtis Brown (29 disposals) and stand-in captain Harrison Minton-Connell (27) were also prolific. 

Giacomo Thomas, Ben Overman, Cody Brand and Josh Hotchkin were the others to be named in the best players.

The Cannons also fielded brothers Ned and Flynn Gentile – the latter one of four debutants to take the field in the rivalry clash.  

The first quarter proved to be an eyesore with both sides registering a total of just seven behinds in gusty conditions. 

It took until the 19-minute mark of the second term before a goal was registered, with debutant Sam Paea snapping truly from the boundary line to break the deadlock. 

Calder’s nine-point half time advantage was short-lived as the Jets found a reply through Eddie Ford early in the third term.

And as it seemed the Cannons would be counting the cost of their missed opportunities early, back-to-back majors to Nathan Stewart and Mason Fletcher meant the margin was back out to 11 points at the final break.

Saad El-Hawli’s goal in just over a minute into the final stanza drew the Jets to within five points of the lead. 

But the hungry Cannons – in a show of resilience – never backed down or dropped their heads.

The Cannons flexed their muscles in the final stages of the contest with both Jackson Cardillo and Fletcher again capitalising on goal-scoring opportunities.

But the final major to 16-year-old Flynn Gentile – a classy finish on his opposite side – meant it was the sweetest of endings for a young Cannons outfit. 

Calder will look to carry the momentum into this Saturday’s contest against the Dandenong Stingrays at Highgate Recreation Reserve.

Smith relishing Cannons journey

Written by Jarryd Barca

He played 224 games for North Melbourne across a playing career spanning 12 seasons and has spent time as an assistant coach with successful AFL clubs such as Hawthorn and Richmond. 

It’s fair to think that the demanding rigours of AFL football – where the ultimate goal is to win a premiership in a winner-takes-all competition – and its professionalism is the level you need to reach to find real enjoyment in the footy industry.   

But it’s at the Calder Cannons where head coach Ross Smith is re-establishing a similar joy he had whilst coaching his sons in the Under 12s and 16s at Aberfeldie many years ago.

One of those sons – Jesse – who was also a part of the Cannons system, was drafted by North Melbourne in 2004.  

The NAB League being more about development than results is an aspect the 54-year-old is relishing. 

“Absolutely, it’s probably the biggest joy,” he said.

“Seeing kids become more responsible and seeing their skills improve and leave here hopefully better people – they’re all the joys.

“It was really enjoyable coaching the Under 12s and 16s when I coached my two boys (and) this is very similar to that with a few more responsibilities here.

“The focus is taken away from winning a little bit – we all want to win when the game roles on and players are no exception to that – but the main focus here is to develop players and get as many drafted as possible.

“Second to that is making sure we develop our players to become better people.”

Smith – who has coached the Cannons since the start of the 2018 season – jumped at the opportunity to join his good friend and former teammate Alastair Clarkson when the four-time premiership coach dialled his number prior to 2005. 

“I started off as opposition analyst and then was a coach for the next six years,” he explained.

“I spent seven years at Hawthorn with ‘Clarko’ and learnt an enormous amount there.” 

Smith recalled a significant moment of the 2008 grand final which may or may not have spurred the Hawks to an unlikely victory against a red-hot Geelong outfit in the big dance. 

The Cats had lost just one match for the entire season and were clear favourites going into the match in their bid to win back-to-back flags. 

“It’s funny because I speak about how you look at what’s written on a white board before games, they do a lot of work during the week obviously. But you look at our white board before the grand final and it had nothing on it,” Smith explained.

“Alastair wanted a shark on the white board, so we just super impose one up and I traced it. Alastair came back into the room and thought I was an artist!

“But that’s all he had on the board for the grand final. Geelong were the shark and it was about stopping it – that was the reference.” 

After being left out of the North Melbourne premiership side in 1996, the ’08 flag slayed a few personal demons. 

“Collectively to win a flag coaching with Alastair – a very good friend of mine and doing it with some great people – it was just amazing,” Smith said.

“(It was) an amazing day really, we were under dogs against the Cats who were unstoppable. We obviously rushed a few points – it wasn’t deliberate – and they missed a few as well and that helped us. 

“Everything just went right for us on the day. It is a different feeling for a coach than it is a player but in some ways there are similarities as well.”

Following his Richmond tenure which ended in 2016, Smith worked at The Social Golf Club in a year out of footy.

But the opportunity to come to the Cannons as a full time regional coaching director in 2018 was one that Smith couldn’t pass up – and the club is better for it.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate having Ross here, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and has been invaluable,” Football Operations and Admin Coordinator Matthew Burton said.

“One of his strengths is education and development which is perfect for this competition. 

“He brings a level of both professionalism and enjoyment and I know not only the staff but all the players enjoy having him here.”