EASTERN RANGES TOO POTENT FOR NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Eastern Ranges bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Dandenong Stingrays by defeating the Northern Knights last Sunday. If the solid crowd at Visy Park forgot how good Darren Bewick’s side could be, they were given a swift reminder with a fast flowing game that saw plenty of scoring.
Despite missing Mitch Honeychurch and Tom Boyd as they have this finals series, Eastern Ranges were dominant for much of the match and looked a totally different outfit to the one that fronted up eight days earlier. The forward line potency was back with the likes of Christian Petracca, Michael Apeness and Matt Traynor all lively which made life hard for opposition defenders.
The game opened up early with Eastern booting four of the first five goals thanks to the inside work of Ben Cavarra, the outside poise of Mitch Keedle and the dangerous forward line that was rarely missing a beat. While Eastern were dominating early, it would be remiss not to credit the Northern Knights in weathering the storm and maintaining a strong contest.
After defeating Gippsland Power in a thumping win the week before, Northern had one less day’s break but it could hardly contribute to the loss with the likes of Jake Kalanj and Billy Murphy showing plenty of toe. Josh Turner and Matthew Haynes were getting their fair share of it while Marcus Bontempelli was able to take a couple of strong grabs up forward. Unfortunately for the Knights, they couldn’t quite produce the accuracy that Eastern Ranges were and it was hurting them badly.
Despite Eastern Ranges seemingly controlling the contest, Northern were able to stay within a three goal margin for just over a half before Michael Apeness kicked a couple of goals and at one stage the margin was just under six goals near the end of the third quarter. The last quarter was a high scoring one that saw nine goals kicked between the sides and Northern reducing the margin to just 19 points by the final siren.
For Eastern Ranges they go onto face the Geelong Falcons next Saturday with regained confidence and plenty to learn from this game. Christian Petracca and Michael Apeness both booted three goals while Ben Cavarra, Mitch Keedle and Connor O’Sullivan all had patches of brilliance throughout the match. Daniel Nielson did well at full back while Trent Cody was really good early coming off a wing.
Unfortunately for the Northern Knights, the loss meant that they now look to season 2014 with plenty to take from 2013. Despite having one more scoring shot, they booted 10.17 which ultimately cost them. Liam Hunt was impressive across the middle of the ground while Marcus Bontempelli looked dangerous up forward. Sam Switkowski and Jesse Tardio were among the best while Billy Murphy will be one to watch in 2014.
CALDER CANNONS ADVANCE INTO PRELIMS AFTER DEFEATING WESTERN JETS
Calder Cannons have set up a preliminary final clash with the Dandenong Stingrays next week after accounting for the Western Jets on Sunday. After being in a close match for three quarters, the Cannons kicked away in the final quarter, booting six goals to three in a 35 point win.
After losing to the Falcons in the Qualifying Final the week prior, the Cannons had a point to prove and they managed to do just that, outlasting the Jets and continually harassing them with bone-crunching tackles. At three quarter time the margin was 18 points, three more than the deficit that the Jets overcame in the elimination final to knock out the Murray Bushrangers. Unfortunately for them, lightning wasn’t to strike twice and it would be Western who would be wrapping up season 2013.
A pivotal moment occurred early in the game when consistent over-ager David Iaccarino injured his shoulder and while he played on, didn’t have the impact that fans have come to know from the experienced midfielder. In his place, Lachlan Hickey and Brett Bewley were busy across the midfield while Liam McMahon also found his fair share of the ball. James Sicily was a crucial target up forward booting three goals, but he was a lone hand as the only multiple goal kicker.
The game was a fiery one in which saw a report after Calder’s small forward Josh Cauchi got under the skin of a couple of Western Jets players. Several players were willing to go on it with it, but eventually the game continued and Calder made the most of it. Their much talked about talls in Reilly O’Brien, Peter Wright and Mark Kovacevic were good with O’Brien laying a couple of really impressive tackles on smaller men while Kovacevic even sold the dummy once.
Calder Cannons move through to the preliminary final on Saturday to face the Dandenong Stingrays for a spot in the 2013 Grand Final. In a game which saw them run away with it in the last quarter, the Cannons can be pleased how they reacted to a disappointing second half the week before. They have plenty of improvement with star midfielder Matt Merlo quieter than usual and Jason Cooke down from his impressive game against the Falcons. Jake Owen and Aaron Christensen were two of the best while Anthony Prestia was also able to provide plenty of run and carry.
Western Jets are now looking to season 2014 with plenty of talented youngsters coming through the ranks. The likes of Pete Manivong, Connor Menadue, Lachlan Hickey and Billy Myers are all players who will be hoping to take the next step up next season and become top-line players. If the Jets can continue to improve over the off-season, there’s no reason they can’t better their fifth-placed finish in 2013.